Yam Bread – a Holiday Favorite

Leftover yams at the Thanksgiving table? No matter how I plan a meal in regards to the number of guests, I always end up with leftover yams! Well, that leftover has been my go to for making a few loaves of Yam Bread to bake and freeze for the upcoming holiday season – if a loaf of this bread would survive the final cooling the day it was made. Something about toasted yam bread with a slathering of butter . . .

Yam Bread

2/3 cup shortening
2 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups cooked yams
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cups coarsely chopped nuts
2/3 cup raisins (optional)

Whip up the yams until fairly smooth.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of two loaf pans, 9x5x3 inches.

Mix shortening and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, yams, and water. Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking power, cinnamon, and clovers. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into pans. (If batter seems too dry, you can always add bits of juice or water but go slowly as you don’t want it runny.)

Bake about an hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove and cool completely before slicing.

Pumpkin Bread
Substitute yams for 2 cups of canned pumpkin.

Zucchini Bread
Substitute 3 cups shredded zucchini. Blend in 2 teaspoons vanilla with the clovers. Decrease baking time to under 60 minutes

Banana Bread
Substitute 3 very ripe, smashed (and it ain’t easy getting them drunk!) bananas

Cranberry Walnut Bread
One cup roughly chopped fresh or frozen cranberries and ½ cup toasted, chopped walnuts.

Fudge Fantasy Dessert

Holidays are coming! Hey! YES, they are, just look at the calendar. This dessert, however, might take some of the worry out of providing a treat for family or guests. It is very rich so you can find some of those cute, small dishes and surprise people with your elegant dessert.

Fudge Fantasy Dessert

When the Lent ends and your thoughts turn to Easter meals and sumptuous calories . . .
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 14-ounce cans sweetened, condensed milk (evaporated milk will not work!)
½ cup hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pint heavy whipping cream
In a saucepan, gently melt chocolate and condensed milk. Cook, stirring constantly until thick, about five minutes. Add hot water and continue cooking until it thickens and boils. Remove immediately from heat. Scrape into bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly cool, about an hour. Beat whipping cream until very stiff and fold into cooled chocolate mixture.
Spoon into individual dessert dishes or sundae cups and refrigerate until set. Garnish with a swirl of whipped cream and a cherry. This is very rich so you won’t need huge servings.

Seamlessly Blending Carrots Into Meals

When my children were in their formative years, ur budget was such that getting ten pounds of carrots for under three dollars made them a fixture on my weekly shopping list. Unfortunately, my children didn’t sympathize with me on this aspect of saving money. I had several unsuccessful attempts in disguising carrots at mealtimes. My children had radar when it came to sensing a carrot in their vicinity. I am sharing my failures with you so you can avoid the same dinner-time pitfalls. For some reason, they just didn’t work.

1. I tried passing off steamed carrots as hot dogs. One attempt at the subterfuge and relish and ketchup were never applied after that until the children tested the contents of the bun on both the dog and cat.

2. I tried something trendy. I told them it was orange sherbert but the unsuccessfully pureed carrot bumps cued them in.

3. Mixed mashed carrots into their liver and they still wouldn’t eat it!

4. Told them it was actually hashed, orange rutabagas, not carrots. They threatened to call 911.

5. Painted red stripes on carrots and put them into their Christmas stockings. Told them Santa left the candy canes. You don’t want to know.

6. Tried honesty . . . told them carrots taste like chicken.

7. Found a recipe for ground carrots and cottage cheese that was suppose to fry up ‘just like a hamburger patty’. My children’s first question was, “Mom, why are you frying cottage cheese and carrots?”

8. Told them they couldn’t have dessert unless they ate all their carrots at dinner. Almost had a mutiny when they discovered dessert was Carrot Cake.

9. Told them they weren’t carrots but odd-colored zucchini. Actually refused to believe me!

10. Chopped up the carrots into cubes and told them it was tofu in their stir fry.

My Facts of Life . . .

Every person has their list of things that they do or need in their lives, sort of a personal facts of life list. The list can have anything on it and if you stop to jot down your thoughts, you might find an interesting mix of do’s, don’t’s and, possibly, don’t cares!

Mine list is relatively simple. But I’m always willing to try new ideas and the list is open to change and additions.

1. I have learned to only save coupons for things I always use and stop wasting money because I could get some condiment or item for a dollar off and couldn’t resist. I’ve discovered a few of these buys in the back of my cupboards way, WAY past their expiration date.

2. Always wash melons with mild soap (diluted dish soap works fine) BEFORE you cut into them. When I told a friend about this, she said that as long as the knife was clean, what was the problem? I mentioned that the outside of the melon has rested on dirt, been harvested by dirty hands, been manhandled once it reached the store and finally placed on display. THEN, who knows how many people ended up touching and hefting the melon you end up purchasing. You don’t even want to know what traces of disgusting stuff has been found on grocery carts and you can’t wait in line with a watermelon without a grocery cart. Just saying!

3. I’ve finally discovered the way to insure a good crust on fried chicken and fish – whey protein isolate! Who would have thought it but it works well as in great. Just season what you need with your salt, pepper, and favorite spices, dip the meat/fish in an egg wash, then in the whey protein isolate mixtures and fry. Yeah, people think I’m super healthy when they see me lugging out with a five-pound container of the stuff and would probably be shocked to know it was going for fried chicken.

4. I’ve heard about the Keto diet for years but swerved away from it because it sounded weird. It also takes wheat products off the dinner table and that includes bread, pasta, etc. It doesn’t recommend rice, either. Well, we have been gluten-free for over five years so that was one step up on the Keto diet. I picked up a cookbook at Costco and was hooked. They advocate meat, fats, cheeses, low-carb vegetables and carefully counting the carbs on your fruit intake. I noticed that on other bouts of watching my diet, I would get hungry and then figure a couple of apples, or a big peach was keeping me in line with my needs versus my wants. Nope. We have been eating Keto for almost a month now and we eat well, we don’t miss the potatoes and get full on the meat/protein portion and a nice salad and/or vegetable. Don’t even WANT to eat between meals which is a nice place to be!

5. At Thanksgiving, everyone should bathe and be presentable for the day . . . except for the turkey! Do NOT wash the turkey before cooking. You can pat it down with a paper towel but do not put that bird into your kitchen sink and run water over it. You may not notice but droplets from the turkey bath do get around your kitchen and, maybe into an open dish. Washing that bird won’t do much good and all the bacteria and germs will die a well-earned death while the bird roasts in the oven.
6. Someone pointed out to me that there are some items you can buy that don’t have to be organic if you lean that way. Bananas, for instance, as they have a thick skin you peel off so nothing has gotten into the covered fruit. In fact, after you do NOT wash you turkey, you CAN wash your banana before eating . . . in fact, I recommend it!

7. My favorite way to make a pasta dinner more filling (back when I indulged in pasta!) was to make my own sauce pureeing steamed vegetables into the tomato base like carrots, onions, garlic, spinach, squash, etc. My final addition was draining a can of pinto beans, pureeing them into a thick sauce and stirring it into the pasta sauce. It makes the sauce nice and thick and very tasty and you just sneaked in a good dose of iron and protein. It is more filling, too.

8. I learned something from my mother about keeping the kitchen cleared of clutter while preparing dinner. She didn’t do so which is why I learned that I couldn’t work in discarded pots and pans and cook properly! I discovered that when baking cookies, they take on the average about ten minutes so when I take out one pan and put in another one, I have ten minutes . . . to wash the first pan and put it away! It just came to me one day that if I bake six baking sheets of cookies, I’m looking at 60 minutes of time to get other things done including cleaning up the kitchen.

9. Potato chips are often my downfall but my budget-minded personality mostly keeps me from buying them. HOWEVER, I discovered that when the yearning for potato chips get overwhelming, a solution of a better sort is at hand. If you have a microwave, parchment paper, vegetable oil spray, and a big potato, you could soon be munching on less salty, non-greasy potato chips with a lot less guilt. If you have a food processor, you probably have a slicing disk for cutting things pretty thin. If not, a sharp knife and patience works, too. You take your thin, very thin potato slices and place them close together on your sheet of parchment paper. Make sure you measure what size sheet of paper you need so it fits in the microwave. Now, give them a good spray of vegetable oil and salt them to taste and put them in the microwave. Now, you are on your own for timing so start it at two minutes and check. Depending on the slices, it can take up to eight minutes for them to get brown around the edges and potato chip like. They shouldn’t have any soft spots. Remove them to your waiting dish and repeat until the chips are all done. You will be surprised to find that you actually get the equivalent of a bag of chips from one, large potato. If you like spicy chips, you can dust them with Ranch dry seasoning or some chili powder. Me, I’m a salt only person. This way I can have what I want when I want it and pay a tenth of what it would cost for a bag of chips.

10. One think I really learned from my mother was to be inventive and curious with my cooking/baking efforts and not be afraid of a new recipe or new ingredient. Fortunately, my husband and children are all pretty adventurous so no complaints from them even if an experiment doesn’t go exactly right. There is no such thing as a person who can’t cook if they want to do so. My mother was raised to go to college so didn’t learn to cook until she got married. She purchased one of those fat, includes everything cookbooks and started in at page one. If you can read, you can cook. And remember, that fancy pots and pans don’t make the food good. It’s the person behind the ladle! I had a person ask me once about buying a cast iron skillet. I asked why she wanted one of those as she was an awful cook and didn’t put much effort into it. She said that she heard that cast iron skillets make really good fried chicken. Uh, no such things as an automatic skillet. You still need to know what to put into the pan.

Finally, a Diet That MIGHT Work!

Now, I’ve found the perfect dietary recipe and am so happy to share it with you! Simple ingredients and little to no calories. 🙂

Over the years my husband and I have been married, our eating habits have almost drastically changed on a number of occasions to work with his current likes/dislikes, various allergies, and food sensitivities!

Our latest change is only a week old but not as drastic as some of our other ones, mainly because we were already gluten- and sugar-free. Now, we just have to cut our carbs down to a small percentage a meal. The good thing is that protein and fat are finally on the ‘good’ list. The downside? Potato chips and fries don’t seem to fit into any of the possible categories.

We started arranging our meals in line the the Keto plan and have to say that it has been one of the easier transitions.  One week later and no one has made a secret trip to the store for pretzels or started a chocolate stash. Our newly-opened coffee shop down the street has already lost our patronage but no one has (yet!) been harmed in the change of diet.

When I saw this video, I immediately decided that we are NEVER going to cook with air, catsup, and the stray tomato.

Orange Juice Cake – A Good Summer Treat

This has always been a favorite in my family. There is something about the sweet orange with the chewly raisins and crunchy walnut. It is easy to put together and travels well and always seems to get requests for the recipe.

Orange Juice Cake — From the recipe files of Barbara Barthelette

6 oz. can frozen orange concentrate, thawed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup light raisins (optional)
⅓ cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour bottom of 13 x 9–inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ½ cup of orange juice concentrate with remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend at lowest speed of mixer for 30 seconds. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

Pour into pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle remaining orange juice over warm cake and sprinkle with topping.

Sugar-Nut Topping

⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Surprise Cake

Surprise Cake . . . Have them enjoy it first and tell them later!

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
One can tomato soup
1 cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
grated rind of one lemon and juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11 3/4 x 7 ½ inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
In a larger bowl, combine the sugar and butter, beating until blended. Beat in tomato soup until smooth. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing the top. Bake about 30 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.