Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

I’m trying harder to make a real breakfast every day instead of relying on cold cereal.  Today I wanted something to go with a healthy fruit smoothie so I looked in my favorite cookbook Joy of Cooking and decided to try “Pinwheel Biscuits.”

They were easy, relatively quick, and really good.  The kids loved them and John liked them quite a lot, too.

Here’s how to do it:

1.  Find any biscuit recipe you like, and make it following the directions up until the “rolling out” part (I suppose you could do this with storebought biscuit dough, too).

biscuit dough

2.  Roll it out to either a 10-inch square or a nice rectangle.  The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.

3.  Spread softened butter all over the dough and sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top (the recipe called for just butter, brown sugar, walnuts, and raisins, but we modified it).  Roll the dough up as you do for cinnamon rolls.

biscuit dough rolled

4.  Cut with a sharp knife in pieces as for cinnamon rolls.  My recipe I used made about 12 pieces.  (I made my pieces about 1/2 inch thick or so).

5.  Place on baking sheet, cut side down, and bake according to temperature and time called for in your biscuit recipe.  (Mine used 450 F as a temperature and 10-12 minutes for baking. Also, I like to use parchment paper on my baking sheets so things won’t stick and the tray stays clean.)  Enjoy!

biscuit dough cinammon

This worked really well for the GF (gluten-free) dough I used, also.  It’s always great to find another recipe that my son likes!  I used 1 cup of a GF mix and 1 cup of millet flour…plus xanthan gum, of course!… (I’ve recently discovered millet flour and it is GREAT for cooking with, and tastes so good).  The dough was a bit too wet so I will cut back on the liquid next time.  Bran loved it.


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The second week of August, the kids and I entered a bunch of things in the Salt Lake County Fair.

As children in our local northwoods Wisconsin 4-H club, my siblings and I entered stuff in the Vilas County Fair every year.  But Utah fairs were a new experience for all of us (besides being spectators at the State Fair the last few years).

We’d just returned from our family reunion on August 8, but on Monday, August 9th we threw ourselves into baking.

nia bake1

By 10pm we were exhausted so we got up early the next day and continued.  I decided at the last minute to bake 2 items, as well, and we barely made it to the Fair by the noon deadline.

We’d previously turned in the kids’ art projects on Sunday afternoon, so we counted the hours until we could go on Wednesday morning and see if our items got any prizes.

Wednesday dawned, sunny and hot.  When we got to the Fair, we raced to the art section and scanned the many framed entries hanging on the wall.  When the kids saw their prizes they started screaming and jumping up and down.  Nia, especially, was quite ecstatic and couldn’t stop screaming for a few minutes.  (They award prizes based on merit, so everyone who deserves one gets an appropriate prize.)


1st prize: Forest and waterfall scene

ciara prize2


2nd prize: Unicorn on a hill

ciara prize1

1st prize: Chocolate chip cookies

2nd prize: Pumpkin bread

ciara prize5



2nd prize: Clone Trooper drawing

bran prize1

3rd prize: GF sugar cookies

bran prize3

4th prize: GF muffins (I guess the judges don’t like the taste of gluten-free cooking!)



1st prize, “high blue” (for entries better than 1st place) and “Sweepstakes Award” for best in category: Pink Flower drawing

nia prize1

1st prize: Oatmeal cookies

2nd prize: Chocolate no-bake cookies



1st prize: lemon poppyseed muffins

me prize1

2nd prize: Sour Cream coffeecake

After we’d finished screaming and jumping, we met up with our friends Linda, Rebecca and Joseph.  We had fun visiting the animal barns (though my allergies didn’t let me stay there long…apparently there were owls in the bird and rabbit barn!! I don’t know how we missed them!), looking at all the exhibits, and watching the Pig Races.  Yep, that’s right…Pig Races done by Cook’s Racing Pigs.  It was extremely funny, and if I get a YouTube video up at some point I’ll come back and link it here.

We came back to the fair that evening to watch a free concert by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  Wow, are they ever incredible musicians!! I didn’t know any of their songs except the famous “Fishin’ in the Dark.”  The banjo and harmonica players were especially talented.  It was a terrific concert.  I took some videos, but the pictures didn’t turn out very well.


We were pretty far back and to the side…I had to leave partway through to pick up Nia from a birthday party and then come back, so we sat close to the side so I wouldn’t disturb very many people.

Around 10:30 p.m. when the concert was ending, a nice lady in the row behind us tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if there was any news in Susan’s case.  I am continually touched and amazed at all the people who continue to care about and remember Susan, even though it’s been so long.  I appreciate them so much and I know Susan’s family does, too.

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Last night I decided to make breadsticks and pasta for dinner.  I doubled my normal breadstick recipe and made the second tray into dessert breadsticks covered in cinnamon, sugar, and glaze.  MAN, were they good! 

I’ve said for years that one of my goals in life (at least with cooking) is to make something so good that my husband stops in his tracks and says something equivalent to “Wow, this is GOOD.  Please make it again!”  He had a major operation when he was 12 and ever since he hasn’t had much of an appetite.  Food doesn’t taste that good to him or sound that appetizing most of the time.

So, last night he said “I guess I’d better try one of these” (amid much protesting from the kids of “no FAIR, Daddy!  You didn’t eat your dinner yet!  Those are supposed to be DESSERT!”).  We all watched as he took a bite of warm breadstick, chewed, swallowed.  His eyes widened a bit.  Then he said, “Someone deserves smooches!”  (Translation of John-speak: “YUM!”)

I guess that is pretty close to my goal for him.  For now, anyway. 🙂

This recipe came from my sister, Kaatia Larsen.  I’m not sure where she got it but I’ve used it for years.  I will put the recipe below and then my notes and comments.  Sorry I don’t have a picture! 


Yield: one cookie sheet full of breadsticks

1.5 cups hot water (hot enough to make yeast work)

1 Tb. honey

1 Tb. yeast

1 tsp. salt

3-4 cups flour

1/2 stick soft butter

garlic powder


3/4-1 cup parmesan cheese

Add yeast to water; pour honey on top of yeast.  Let yeast work 5-10 minutes till top of water is covered.  Add 1 cup flour.  Pour salt on flour.  Mix.  Add flour 1/4 cup as a time as needed and knead till dough is almost not sticky. 

Grease cookie sheet.  Roll out dough evenly on sheet.  Spread butter across dough. 

With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut down the middle of the dough lenghwise and then into 1-inch strips across the tray horizontally.  Sprinkle salt/pepper sparingly, then cover in garlic powder and parmesan cheese. 

Put in oven and turn oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook 25-30 minutes until done (golden-brown on top and middle is done).


Now, I know it says to turn the oven on when you put them in, but last night I used rapid-rising yeast and let the dessert breadsticks rise for a few minutes before baking.  The oven was also on from cooking the regular breadsticks.  They were equally good and maybe even a little better.  So use your judgment or what you have time for!  They’ll work either way.

Variation for Dessert Breadsticks:

Follow the recipe to the point of spreading the butter on.  Once the dough is covered in butter, sprinkle all over with sugar and cinnamon.  Bake as directed.  While the breadsticks are still warm, you can mix up a glaze if you want of 2 or 3 tablespoons of soft butter, 3/4 cup or so of powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a bit of vanilla.  Mix till smooth and somewhat runny.  Taste and adjust if needed.  Pour over warm breadsticks. 


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A few posts ago I talked about food blogs and included a picture of a recipe I wanted to try—Bluefly breakfast bread.  This morning I made it before church and we ate some when we got home.  It’s delicious!!!  Huge thanks to Cooking 4 Carnivores for the great recipe.

bluefly bread

Changes I made: I doubled the recipe, put it in a 13×9 pan and cooked at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.  If you do this, I suggest checking after the half-hour point every five minutes for doneness with a toothpick.  I also (accidentally) forgot to double the amount of lemon.  I kind of like it this way, though—there’s a hint of lemon flavor but it’s not overpowering. 

The next time I make this I’m going to put in just a little more salt.  The recipe calls for a “pinch” but I think maybe 1/2 tsp. for the doubled batch would be fine.  Maybe even a tiny bit more.

This is a good, easy, quick recipe, though, and the end result is really delicious: high, light, fluffy, and tasting like those jumbo blueberry muffins at Costco, except better because it’s got streusel topping and a hint of lemon.

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I just finished my bi-monthly post to the Utah Children’s Writers blog and it was on a subject I’ve been thinking about lately: food blogs, recipes, and cooking. 

I’ve known for years that I need to jazz up our boring, “same ten recipes” dinner menu.  But I always come up with excuses:

“Bran’s allergic to wheat; it’s so hard to make two of everything so one can be wheat-free.” 

“John and I are allergic to corn.  It’s so depressing that I don’t want to cook.”

“Whenever I be brave and try out a new recipe, everyone hates it.”

“I’m too tired to think of anything…”

And so it goes. 

Well, I’m going to try turning over a new leaf.  I will focus on two main goals:

1) Make a weekly menu

2) Find new recipes for said menu

My resolve is helped a little bit by the fact that we’re cutting out cold cereal from our lives.  We haven’t bought any for three weeks and it’s awesome.  No, seriously, it is.  (And hello, the money saved??  Cold cereal is expensive!)  At first I felt panicked, but now?  We eat healthy things like oatmeal pancakes, cooked cereal, fresh fruit and raw nuts, and eggs.  And since John’s now working from home three days a week, it frees me up to make breakfast a little later if I need to.  He can start work early, and take a break later on for breakfast.

Making a menu will also help force—ah, I mean, encourage—me to make a real dinner because I’ll have a plan in place.  No more staring desperately at kitchen cupboards and fridge at 5pm, frantically trying to figure something out.

I shall now tantalize you with some good-looking food (clicking the picture will take you to the recipe):





So if you have any recipes or good food blogs you follow or like, please share!  My kitchen and I will thank you. 🙂

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