August 30, 2013

Frosted Iced Tea

Are you looking for a good drink for this Labor Day weekend? Might I make a suggestion? This drink was created by my friend Becky and we had it while she was here visiting.  I'm a fan, I like it very much.  We thought and thought about what we should call it and finally settled on Frosted Iced Tea because of the "Cake" vodka but you could certainly use Vanilla or Whipped Cream flavored vodka as well.  It's easy to find iced tea if you're out at the beach or pool, you just might have to carry a little flask with your trusty vodka. :)

Please don't drink and drive.

Frosted Iced Tea
Recipe from Becky C.

  • 8 oz Iced Tea
  • 1 oz. Cake Vodka (Vanilla or Whipped will work)
  • Sweetener of your choice
Cooking Directions
  1. Fill a glass full of ice.
  2. Sweeten the tea to your preference (honey, sugar, stevia...)
  3. Pour in the sweetened tea into the glass of ice and top with vodka. Stir and enjoy.

August 28, 2013

Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites

Here's a great snack for the kids lunch boxes, or for your own lunch box!  You can feel good about the whole wheat goodness they are made out of.  I drizzled mine with a little honey and got that fantastic sweet and salty taste combination.

They turned out fantastic, but here are some things I noticed when making the dough.  My dough never really became elastic and smooth after being in the mixer for well past the stated time, it was sort of dry and crumbly.  I finally removed it from the mixer and used my hands to knead it, at which point it did stick together a little better but was never smooth.  The rising time? Well mine never did rise to double it's size.  It did rise a little but not what I was expecting.  Having said all that, they turned out delicious.  I'm sure they would have been even more yummy if the dough had of cooperated.  Next time I'll add a little more water to the mixer to try to achieve the smooth dough consistency.

Either way, they are very good and I will make them again!

Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites
Recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures adapted from King Arthur Flour

  • 1 3/4 cups White whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup water, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
For Water Bath
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
For Finishing
  • 1 large egg + 1 Tbsp water + pinch of salt for egg wash, and pretzel or kosher salt for topping.
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the whole wheat flour and the water and stir with a wooden spoon.  Let rest for 20 minutes. 
  2. Add the butter, bread flour, salt, yeast and honey.  Use the wooden spoon to combine.  Use the dough hook to knead the dough until it become smooth and elastic.  Takes about 5 minutes or maybe a little longer. 
  3. Set the bowl in a warm area, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size.  About 90 minutes or so.  
  4. When the dough is almost doubled, preheat your oven to 450º.  You can also begin the water bath by putting the water in a large pot and bringing it to a boil.  Once at a boil you can turn the heat down to a simmer and add the baking soda. 
  5. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
  6. On a lightly floured surface, dump the dough out and cut it into 8 even sections. Roll each section into a rope about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 1 inch pieces. 
  7. Drop 10-15 pieces into the water bath for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water and drop them onto the prepared cookie sheets in an even layer. Repeat with the rest of the pieces. 
  8. Use the egg wash to brush over the tops of each piece and then sprinkle with the coarse salt and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 
  9. Best if served warm. 

August 26, 2013

Quick Fig Preserves

Out of the three recipes I made with fresh figs last week, this one is my favorite.  This recipe only took about 10-15 minutes to make but is so very tasty. This will be one of the first recipes I turn to the next time I have access to fresh figs. They are quick preserves so you need to be ready to eat them rather quickly, but that won't be a problem.  This are so good you'll wish you had of doubled the recipe.

Thick, sweet, chunky preserves are the best and you can feel good about this recipe because it uses honey and sugar, not just a ton of regular sugar. Very rustic feel to this jam because of the nice big pieces of fig.  I love it, definitely a favorite.

Quick Fig Preserves
Recipe from honest cooking

  • 15-20 small figs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Cook over medium heat (add water if needed) and bring to a boil.
  3. Let the mixture thicken over a constant boil, stirring often. After the preserves reach a thick consistency turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to one week in the refrigerator.

August 21, 2013

Fig and Apple Ice Cream

So there I was, with a bunch of fresh figs to use.  What to do, what to do? I have a bread recipe that I love that is fig, applesauce and almonds and I really like the combination. I don't love nuts in my ice cream however, so that's why there aren't any almonds in this recipe.  This is a fantastic use for fresh figs.  I know I've mentioned before that fresh figs and dried figs have entirely different tastes.  Fresh figs are more of a mild flavor and the apple really becomes the prominent flavor in the ice cream.  The area's of plain vanilla ice cream just add to the overall flavor.

Fruity, creamy, slight hint of cinnamon but not overly sweet.  I'm a fan for sure.  Even though fresh figs aren't as easy to find as dried, I would definitely go out of my way to find some for this recipe, which does limit it to a seasonal recipe but that's OK with me.  Plus, fresh figs give this awesome pink color! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Fig and Apple Ice Cream
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker's Apple Pie Ice Cream


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and petite diced
  • about 18-20 small fresh figs, stem removed and petite diced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the butter and brown sugar.  Melt and combine together, then add the apples, figs and cinnamon.  Cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Stirring occasionally over medium low heat. When thick, remove from the heat and put into a bowl, cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until ready to use. 
  2. Mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a small bowl, set aside. 
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, add the cream, milk and salt.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat then lower the heat to a simmer and ladle some cream into the egg yolks and whisk together.  Add another ladle of cream into the egg yolks and whisk. 
  4. Pour the egg yolk/cream mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the hot cream.  Cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (or about 170º to 175º)
  5. Put a fine mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl and pour the cream mixture through the sieve.
  6. Put the bowl into an ice bath and let cool to room temperature.  When cool, cover and put into the refrigerator overnight. 
  7. When ready to process into ice cream, pour the cream mixture into the ice cream maker and process based on the manufacturers instruction.  
  8. Pull the apple and fig mixture out of the refrigerator and add the vanilla, stir. Set aside. 
  9. When the ice cream has turned into a soft ice cream consistency, pour into a freezer proof container and slowly mix in the fig and apple mixture without mixing it in completely.  You want there to be swirls of flavor but you also want sections of just plain vanilla ice cream.  
  10. Freeze until ready to serve, remove from the freezer about 5-10 minutes prior to serving so it can soften a little. 

August 19, 2013

Fig Filled Cookies

A friend of mine, Amanda, recently let me come over and pick all the ripe figs off her tree.  We're both fig lovers but honestly I don't know how you would keep up with having that many figs each year.  Sell them? Make preserves all the time? Fig Newtons? Hard to say but at least it got me experimenting in my kitchen this weekend.

I found three recipes that I thought I could turn into fig recipes.  This cookie was the first.  I had heard about my husbands grandmother cooking raisin filled cookies when he was little.  He's described them to me and I know that this recipe isn't it just based off of the dough alone.  But I wanted to give it a go anyway and switch it up from raisins to figs, fresh figs.  It's much easier to find recipes using dried figs than it is fresh so I had to use some creativity.

The resulting cookie is very tender, the cookie part sort of reminds me of a soft shortbread type flavor.  Not overly sweet but perfect to compliment the filling, which is sweet.  The filling doesn't taste like a fig newton type filling, simply because those are usually dried figs and there is a huge flavor difference when using fresh. I'd describe it as a mild flavor, kind of hard to pinpoint the exact fruit really.  Very sweet and I'm pretty sure the only way you'd know it was a fig is when you see the seeds.  So if you're not a fig lover you'd still like this cookie, and if you're a fresh fig lover you'll really like this cookie.

I didn't have a small round cookie cutter so I used the only one I had which was almost 3 1/2 inches in diameter.  Way too big to be honest.  These cookies spread out when cooked so they ended up being about 5 inches wide!  Be generous with the filling because the cookies spread so much you'll want a little bit of fruit in every bite.  One thing I did love about this recipe is how you don't have to push the seams together, they just sort of melt together when baking.  Such a time saver!

Overall I would make these again (but smaller next time).  Great use of fresh figs and a wonderful new recipe that you can fill with any of your favorite fruits.

Fig Filled Cookies
Recipe modified from Brown Eyed Baker


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 25-30 fresh figs, stems removed, diced
  1. Cream the sugar and margarine together in the bowl of your stand mixer on medium speed until it is light and fluffy. 
  2. Add the salt and eggs and mix on low speed. 
  3. Add the flour a cup at a time and the milk between flour additions. 
  4. Add the baking powder, baking soda and vanilla extract.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but an hour is better. 
  5. While the dough refrigerates, begin the filling.  Add the sugar, cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the water in a small bowl and whisk together to form a runny paste. 
  6. In a medium saucepan, add the figs and lemon juice.  Pour over the cornstarch mixture and stir. 
  7. Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens to the desired consistency. You want it thick like preserves. Remove from the pan and place in a separate bowl and let cool to room temperature. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 400º
  9. When the dough is cool, remove 1/3 of it and place on a well floured work surface.  Add flour to the top of the dough and work it so it's not so sticky. 
  10. Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut out the rounds with a cookie cutter. 
  11. Place the dough rounds on a parchment lined cookie sheet and space them apart from each other to allow for spreading. 
  12. Fill each circle and top with and additional circle.  No need to press the seems together. 
  13. Bake for 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  Let sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. 
  14. Continue until all the dough has been used. Store in an airtight container. 

August 16, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pie

A funny thing happened to me while I was making this pie.  My oven stopped working.  Turned out to be a quick fix once my husband got home but unfortunately I couldn't wait that long to bake it. I had to text my neighbor and promise her half this pie if she'd let me bake it in her oven.  I mean, she was going to get half the pie anyway because I can't have all this temptation alone with me in my house.  I just can't be trusted with things like this.  She graciously allowed me to come over and smell her house up with yummy chocolate chip cookie smells.  Wasn't that nice of me? 

I wonder though, if my chocolate chips sunk to the bottom of the pie because it sat on my counter for about 20 minutes while I frantically tried to figure out what was wrong with my oven.  I guess I'll just have to make it again to be sure.  If you're worried about chip sinkage, you can always coat your chocolate chips with a little flour before putting them in the filling.  When I make this again, and I will, I will do that and post some nicer pictures. 

Also, I should note that I used a deep dish pie dish, you know the one I got while I was in Montana.  But this recipe doesn't really need a deep dish pie dish, just a regular one will work just fine. 

Lovely golden brown color on top after 40 minutes.

I let it cool completely before cutting.  I also refrigerated mine even though I'm not really sure you'd have to.  My husband likes his desserts cold, he even puts candy bars in the freezer.

If you're a lover of soft chocolate chip cookies then you'll love this.  I only got two tiny little bites between my husband and my daughter.  The filling stays very soft, much like a cream type pie in some ways. The top has a slight crunch to it and the chocolate chips add the texture.  You can't go wrong with this one.

Chocolate Chip Pie
Recipe from

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pie crust, unbaked
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the sugar and flour. 
  3. Add the eggs and melted butter, mix well. 
  4. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla and mix well. (try tossing your chips in flour first so they don't sink to the bottom)
  5. Pour into a pie plate lined with an unbaked crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes. 

August 14, 2013

Baked Kale Chips

 Seems Kale has been pretty popular these days, it makes an appearance in most green smoothies and people are definitely trying to find a place for it in their everyday meals. I've discovered that in a smoothie I can't even taste it, but it does give it it's green color.  I put it in several of my soups last winter.  This year I wanted to try the Kale Chip that I've been hearing so much about.

I was surprised at how crispy they got, I can see how people really can substitute these for some other veggie crisps.  I did enjoy them although could only eat a small amount because I'm not familiar with eating kale routinely and there's no avoiding the flavor here. The crispy edges added a nice nuttiness to the flavor that I enjoyed.  They don't really keep very well, they sort of lost their crispiness overnight so I'd just make as much as you think you can eat that same day.

Very glad I tried these, I can see how they can fix up an craving for a crunchy salty snack when you're trying to avoid potato chips.  Very good alternative.

Baked Kale Chips
Recipe from AllRecipes


  • 1 bunch Kale
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. 
  3. Cut the kale into bite sized pieces, removing the thick stem.  Wash and dry thoroughly. 
  4. Spread the kale into a single layer and drizzle oil over the top until they all have a little oil on them.  I used my hands to try to get the oil spread evenly on each piece. 
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, be careful to check frequently to ensure the ends of the kale aren't getting burnt.  
  6. Salt immediately after removing from the oven if you desire. 

August 12, 2013

Montana Summer Vacation 2013

As promised, I wanted to share some of the pictures we took on vacation. This is the Gallatin River on the way toward Bozeman, Montana. It was very early in the morning, we were driving through the night to get to my dad's house, don't ask.

Morning walk was spectacular.

Yellowstone River, my family was down a little ways fishing.

My daughter and I were playing in the shallow parts.  I was trying to teach her the fine art of walking on slippery rocks while not falling on your tush. She's a quick learner.

There were all kinds of minnows and dragon flies.  It was fun and relaxing.  You can see a sweater being worn in this picture.  It would have been hot if the wind wasn't blowing, but it was, this is Montana after all.

We also got to see my sister's little colt.  Isn't he cute!  That's his pretty mama behind him.

Horseback riding is a must when we visit. Thankfully my sister has some to spare. :)

This was taken somewhere in Idaho on our way back to Salt Lake City.  We were going to catch a midnight flight from there - that didn't happen.  We stayed in Salt Lake City that night, stayed all the next day at the airport, finally flew to Denver and stayed the night there.  Flew out of Denver early the next morning.  Fun stuff.

I'm back to cooking up a storm this week.  I did want to show you one more thing that we heard about and tried while there.

We used a peanut butter cup instead of plain chocolate for our Smores. It was G.O.O.D.

August 9, 2013

Apple Crunch Pie and a Pie Plate!

See my Montana purchase?  I usually get jewelry at my favorite gift shop but this time I opted for this pie plate.  Isn't it beautiful? There were several different color combinations to choose from but this one just spoke to me. It's a nice deep dish pie plate, which I didn't have yet.

The gift shop I love is called Montana Gift Cabin and I'm sure they'd love to send you one if you wanted one. I didn't see an actual web page but they do have a Facebook page.

I also found a web page for the artist with more of their products, which I pretty much want one of each of these. Clay in Motion website.

Not only do you get the pie plate, you also get this Apple Crunch Pie recipe imprinted on the back. 

So I made it.

And it's Deeee-licious!

If you're thinking this might be like a usual apple pie, think again.  The apples are cooked down to applesauce consistency, not matter how big you slice the apples. I wasn't sure how I'd like that texture but it really works with the sweet crunch topping.

Since the recipe didn't specify a couple of things (like which type of apple) I just winged it.  But I loved the results!

Apple Crunch Pie
Recipe by Corina Neher


  • 6 cups apples (I used granny smith) sliced and peeled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 homemade or store bought crust
  • 1 cup oatmeal (I used Old Fashioned)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (I used 1/2 tsp)
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Place the crust in the pie plate. 
  3. In a large microwave safe bowl, mix the apples, sugar, flour, water and lemon juice. Stir until coated. 
  4. Microwave for 7 minutes, covered. 
  5. Pour the filling into the crust lined pie plate. 
  6. In a small bowl combine the oatmeal, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter.  I used my hands to fully incorporate all of the ingredients together. 
  7. Top the filling evenly with the crumb topping and bake for 35-40 minutes. 

August 7, 2013

Fantastic Fruit Salad

We finally made it back home!  It was a long, long process.  I had such a good time visiting my family in Montana that it overpowers our struggles to get home. I will be posting pictures soon, I still need to figure out how to get some off of my phone....I guess I'll google that.

While we were there, my aunt made us several meals and this fruit salad was at two of them.  It was a definite hit.  Even though I didn't make this myself, I felt it had to be shared.

Talk about the perfect summer fruit salad.  Since there isn't any dairy this can be brought on a picnic where refrigeration isn't possible.  The pie filling made the salad smooth and added a nice sweetness.  I really liked the use of fresh strawberries vs frozen, I would definitely make this again.

Fantastic Fruit Salad

Recipe from my aunt Cathy

  • 2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 cans (15 oz) pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 (16 oz) package frozen strawberries (she used fresh)
  • 1 can peach pie filling
  • 1 can apricot pie filling (she couldn't find this so she used 2 can's of peach)
  • 2 banana's, sliced
Cooking Directions
  1. Add all of the ingredients into a medium bowl and gently mix together.

August 5, 2013


Hey everyone, I haven't forgotten about you. See, my family and I took a vacation to Montana to see my family. We sometimes have to travel by planes, trains, and automobiles to get where we're going and in doing so we sort of got stuck in Salt Lake City. Normally I would love being in a new place to explore but in this case we are in the airport just trying to get home. Hopefully that happens tonight sometime. I promise to be back at it as soon as we make it home, and I've slept more than five hours...

See you soon, I hope.

Stranded at the airport (Malissa)