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Favorite Cookbooks

I love to read.

I like to cook . . . . well, most of the time.

Really, I would like to snap my fingers and have dinner present itself. Since that is not in my near future (magic housekeeper or sometimes cloning myself, anyone?), I read cookbooks for ideas and tips, search online (hello, Pinterest), ask others, go back to my stand-bys, and generally make up stuff.

I am a huge fan of my slow cooker, one pot dishes that are yummy and don’t require a cream of ___ can or Velveeta, and meals that are actually ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes without a sous chef. (Rachael Ray, I’m talking to you.) A dear friend also reminded me to cook larger amounts to freeze for later. That is so simple, and I have remembered it a few times this month. 😉

I have a binder full of recipes I have put together and a collection of cookbooks. Here are some of them and a few that have been recommended to me.

Some that I own:

Joy of Cooking is a go-to for how to prepare almost everything with classic recipes throughout the 1000+ pages.

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Sixteenth Edition (Better Homes and Gardens Plaid) is one my mom used for apple pie. I consider it a staple in anyone’s kitchen with all of the information included.

Betty Crocker Cooking Basics: Recipes and Tips to Cook with Confidence is one Mom gave me when I graduated college and was on my own. It has good photographs and descriptions of preparation without being intimidating. A novice cook can succeed with the recipes in this book.

Out of the Sugar Rut
provides recipes that use honey and whole wheat flour instead of heavily refined ingredients. Real food is what you will find in this cookbook.

Fix-It and Forget-It Revised and Updated: 700 Great Slow Cooker Recipes (Fix-It and Forget-It Series) is the first book I used for slow cooker recipes, and it has a little bit of everything.

Recently recommended to me:

For cooking anything Italian, cookbooks by Lidia Bastianich

Cookbooks by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman

100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love by Lisa Leake

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime by Danielle Walker

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon

Cookbooks by local Junior League groups

Which ones would you add to the list?

Breakfast Sausage Balls ~ Recipe

I am picky when it comes to sausage balls.  I always try them at gatherings, but something about them bothers me.  Maybe it’s the sausage.  Maybe it’s the general combination of ingredients.  I don’t know.  I happened upon the Satisfying Eats blog earlier this week and found this recipe. They smell wonderful when baking and taste pretty good, too.  They’re grain-free, so you have meat, cheese, and seasonings.  That’s it.  I combined ground pork breakfast sausage with lean ground beef and used chili powder instead of red pepper flakes.  I sort of halved the recipe for this experiment.  The toddler ate a few bites, and the hubby thought something was missing, but he said they were good. We’ll reheat them tomorrow, and I think they may be even better.  I recommend keeping them on the smaller side, about a tablespoon in size, and definitely line your pan with foil.

Here’s the link to the original post from Satisfying Eats. (She has a picture!  Mine were unimpressive to say the least.)

Easy Sausage Ball Recipe
Makes 48-50 small breakfast balls

2 pound ground pork breakfast sausage
1 pound ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey)
3 eggs
2 tablespoons of dried onion flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 pound shredded cheese (I usually use sharp Cheddar, get the good stuff)

  1. Mix meat and eggs together.
  2. Add seasonings.
  3. Mix in cheese.
  4. Use small scoop and place on foil lined baking pan (or measure 1 tbsp amount and roll into ball).
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until slightly brown.

Store in refrigerator and reheat in microwave for 45-60 seconds.

Pumpkin Bread (or muffins)

In an effort to speed autumn along, I thought I would make some Pumpkin Bread.  Really, it just sounded good, and I had a can of pumpkin in the pantry.  Instead of loaves, I made muffins.  Muffin tins are a pain to clean, but it’s easier for little hands to handle a muffin than a slice of bread.  Muffins are also easier for the hubby on his way to work.

This recipe will make 2 regular loaves, 3 or 4 small loaves, or about 30 regular muffins.  The changes I made are in parentheses.   I hope you like it!

web_pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin Bread

3 eggs

3 C sugar (2 1/2 C, will reduce further)

1 C oil (3/4 C applesauce, 1/4 C oil)

2 C pumpkin (used 15 oz. can)

3 C regular flour

1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg (omitted and used dash of cloves)

1/2 teaspoon each: salt and baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat eggs.  Add sugar, oil, and pumpkin; mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Put in pans and bake.

Regular loaf– 1 1/4 hours

Small loaf– 50 mins.

Regular muffins– almost 25 mins.  (start checking after 20 mins.)

Serve plain or with butter or with cream cheese.

Buttermilk Bread Recipe (Bread Machine)

Do you have a Goodwill near you? If so, check it out for deals on books.  I have a Breadman bread machine and was looking for some new recipes.  I found this book for $1.50 at our local Goodwill.  It’s in very good condition and has a variety of recipes.  Score one for me! If you’re interested, look here for the book at Amazon.com:  Bread Machine Magic: 139 exciting new recipes created especially for use in all types of bread machines by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway.

This is a recipe for Dede’s Buttermilk Bread, 1.5 pound loaf.  It’s good served warm with dinner, for sandwiches when sliced thinly, and for toast.  (Toddler approved.)  😉

1 and 1/4 C buttermilk (or 4 T dry buttermilk and 1 and 1/4 C water)

1 T butter

3 T honey

1 and 1/2 t salt

3 C bread flour

1/4 t baking soda

2 t yeast

Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Select Light Crust and Regular / Basic bread setting.

I hope you enjoy it!

Mmmm, Apple Pie

Homemade apple pie was a staple for Dad’s birthday celebrations, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.  I restarted the tradition last year and added Father’s Day to the mix, since my hubby and my Daddy enjoy apple pie.

I would like to take credit for the lovely crust that made this yummy apple pie, but I can’t.  I remember Mom renaming a few crusts as she worked to make them from scratch.  Ultimately, she bought the refrigerated box crusts and said it wasn’t worth all the headache trying to make it herself.  (And she was a good cook.)  I’m following her lead here.

web_apple pie

Ingredients:

6-7 golden delicious apples

1-2 teas. cinnamon

1 C of sugar OR  3/4 C honey

2 pie crusts

9″ pie plate

Directions:

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. (This is the most time-consuming part.) Add sugar or honey and cinnamon to apples.  Stir well and let set for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, heat the oven, and get your crust ready.  Put the first crust in the pie plate, pressing the sides firmly and carefully.  Add the apples.  The filling will be high, but the apples cook down.  Gently put the second crust over the apples.  Overlap and pinch the sides together, then cut a few air vents in the top of the crust.

Bake on the middle rack at 375 degrees. Make sure to put a foil-lined cookie sheet under the pie, or you’ll have an oven to clean. (Oops.)  Check after 50 minutes;  it may take up to an hour to finish.

Let cool on a rack.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Book Review: Simply Delicious Amish Cooking by Sherry Gore

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking is a collection of recipes and stories from an Amish community in Sarasota, Florida.  It has a variety of recipes (lots of desserts!), and the stories provide insight into the daily lives of the Amish.

The recipes are for good, simple food.  There isn’t anything fancy, and most ingredients are already in your kitchen.  I was surprised to see many recipes use processed foods (canned cream of ___ soup, Velveeta, etc.).  Since I avoid using those, and anything with a lot of sugar, this limits the recipes available to me in general.  That said, there are recipes that offer a fresher choice.  See the Pinecraft Winter Salad on page 79.  Also, I know this will be a go-to source for a great dessert to share with others.

The book is spiral-bound and lays flat, which is helpful in the kitchen, and the included pictures are mouth-watering.  I thought the cover would be a little sturdier, though. The first recipe (Honey Wheat Bread) has a typo.  The ingredients list says 1/4 cup of flour, but the instructions have 1/2 cup listed.   I don’t know which is correct, but would like to find out.

I give this a 3 out of 5 star rating because there are many recipes I will not use.  I am glad to have it as part of my collection for the stories and the simple options that you don’t find in every book.

Full disclosure for FTC purposes: I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review.

Banana Bread

We buy a lot of bananas, and we never eat them all before they’re too ripe.  (Seriously, why do they go from green to overly ripe in 4 days????) If I’m not ready to bake right then, or only have one too-ripe banana, I peel it and freeze it.  When I have 3-4 bananas to use, I bake banana bread.  This is a recipe I found a year or two ago, and it serves me well.  Hope you enjoy it!

banana bread_web

Banana Bread Recipe  (doubles well)

Ingredients:

3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 C butter, melted

3/4 C sugar (OR 2/3 C honey)

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 1/2 C flour (all-purpose)

pinch of salt

Directions:

Mix butter and bananas.  Add sugar (or honey), egg, and vanilla.  Mix.

Sprinkle baking soda and salt.  Mix.  Add flour. Mix.

Pour into a buttered or non-stick bread pan (4×8 inches).  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Cool on cooling rack.  Slice and enjoy.