Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

‘Cheater’ May Day Breakfast Cake

It’s home made, because you made it at home. This is another recipe using cake mix as an ingredient, but no one has to know unless you want them to.

You Will Need:
15 wz ‘pudding in the mix’ fruit flavored boxed cake mix (any brand you have on hand)
Handful of dried cherries, minced
1 TBS poppy seeds
3 wz fresh strawberries, chopped into bite size pieces
2 wz red palm oil (or avocado oil, or coconut oil. or any other local light-flavored oil)
1 TBS unsalted butter (room temp)
6 fz milk
2 fz water
3 whole eggs
Bundt Pan:
Non-stick spray or butter and flour to prep bundt pan
1 pint fresh strawberries, chopped into bite size pieces
Powdered sugar to taste
Preheat oven to 350F or your local equivalent.
Prepare bundt pan either by spraying liberally with non stick spray, or by buttering and flouring thoroughly.
Combine all cake ingredients except strawberries and cherries in medium mixing bowl, stirring until well combined, but not too smooth. Add fruit gently.
Pour batter into bundt pan.
Bake approximately 40 minutes. But begin checking for doneness at the 25 minute mark. Cake mixes do vary greatly.
When done, cool for 10 minutes in pan if spray was used or 5 minutes if butter and flour was used.
Turn out onto plate to finish cooling.
While still slightly warm sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serve each slice with a hearty spoonful of berries on top.
VARIATIONS (This basic recipe can easily be modified, depending on what you have on hand):
Use lemon cake mix, swap dried ginger for the cherries, and serve with a dollop of clotted cream.
Top with fresh banana slices, strawberries, and coconut shavings.
Substitute applesauce for the oil. Serve warm with poached apples and sour cream.

Leave a comment

Filed under All Recipes, Breakfast, Desserts, Tips and Tricks, Vegetable-arian

Egg Substitutions

Just realized you are a couple of eggs short of the waffles, cake, cookies, or bread that you were about to make, and don’t have time to get to the store?

Pulse equal parts (1:1 ratio) of whole flax seed and hot water in the blender and allow it to ‘set’ until it gets good and gooey. Yes, it will look like something out of a bad ‘B’ movie if you’ve done it right – that’s the fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and water combining – and it’s a good thing.

You now have a super cheap and easy egg replacement.

1 ounce (30 mL) of the goo is equivalent to one whole eggwhite.
2 ounces (60 mL) equals 1 whole egg.

Also great to use when baking goodies for people with egg allergies or who are looking for ways to reduce their cholesterol intake.

Not into alien slime? That’s ok. 3 ounces (90 mL) of mashed banana or applesauce works well, too. Or 2 ounces of either plain yogurt or avocado oil. Avocado oil has a buttery taste, but usually isn’t strongly flavored like olive or peanut oils, so it’s great in sweet as well as savory foods.


Filed under All Recipes, Breads, Desserts, Entrees, Gluten Free, Sides, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Vegetable-arian

Disgustingly Easy Super Cheesy Better Than Store Bought Crackers

I first started making these when my daughter became addicted to a pricey store-bought cheese cracker. I couldn’t have afforded her ‘habit’ without this recipe. The best part, for me, is that they can be so easily adapted to accommodate food allergies, taste preferences, and seasonal influences. And yes, it’s another ratio recipe.


3 Parts Your favorite firm cheese, shredded (Use really sharp cheddar if you want to replicate They Who Must Not Be Named’s crackers.)

1 – 2 Part(s) Baking Mix (ambient humidity affects this recipe greatly)

Milk or water

Toppings to add just before baking, if desired



Preheat oven to (US) 350F (or your local equivalent).

Melt the cheese over medium/low heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly.


Add a splash or two of milk to thin out the cheese. Keep stirring over the heat until it is like a thick potato soup.


If you want to add dried herbs or veggie bits, now is the time to do so.

Turn off the stove, but keep the pot on the burner.

Add the baking mix a handful at a time, stirring each addition in before adding the next. When you find yourself chasing a big lump around the pot, it’s ready to be turned out onto a baking mix sprinkled flat surface for the next step.


Roll out to 1/8 – 1/4″ thickness and cut into desired shapes. I like to use cookie cutters, but some people prefer to just slice the whole slab into squares or rectangles.

Use a fork to poke holes in the center of each cracker after transferring to ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle with more cheese or crushed nuts at this point, if you want them to be topped.

Bake until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes, give or take).

Transfer to a cooling rack.



If the dough in the pot is really greasy and not coming together after you have added all of the baking mix, add milk (or water) a splash at a time until it comes together. Not more than 1/4 cup, though, or you’ll end up with really thin flat biscuit-like things, not crackers at all.

If fully cooled before being stored in an airtight container, these crackers have a shelf life of… Hmmm. I have no idea – they’re always gone within a week of baking. so they last at least a week. Probably longer, but I can’t say for sure.

Do NOT (I repeat DO NOT) microwave the cheese – the end result is not pretty. It’s not edible. It does make for fabulous home defense weaponry, if you can get the intruder to eat one.

Microwaved cheese makes these crackers way too hard. Not the ‘oh dear that’s a really crunchy cracker’ kind of too hard, but the ‘honey call the dentist I just broke three teeth’ variety.

And, as I found out this week, always make sure the oven is set to Bake, not Broil, or this happens:


Leave a comment

Filed under All Recipes, Bites, Breads, Gluten Free, Grains, Parties, Techniques, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Vegetable-arian

Baking Mix

I blame my sister Bonny for this one. She was on this ‘make-a-mix’ kick for a good couple of years before we figured out how to make our own baking mix without having to purchase industrial shelf-stable shortening that we couldn’t really afford. The only drawback to it is that you have to store it in an airtight container in the freezer. Not the fridge; and definitely not the cupboard. Use it the same way you use your favorite boxed baking mix, and enjoy the savings.

Super Basic (mix up a little bit as you need it) Recipe:

1 C Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Salt

1 TBSP Room temperature stable fat/oil:  this can be shortening, lard, butter, coconut oil, or chilled olive or grapeseed oil, or even rendered fat*


Combine everything in the blender or food processor (or you can whisk it by hand, but that takes a very long time and a rather strong arm). Process until the fat is completely absorbed and the whole mix is a powder. Store up to 6 months in an airtight container in the freezer. I label my stuff with the date to toss so I can keep track.

Big Batch (keep it in the freezer) Recipe:

6 C Flour

3 T Baking powder

1 tsp Salt

1/3 C Room temperature stable fat/oil


The ratios do change as you increase the overall volume. Slightly less salt is required as you get larger amounts, while the fat content goes up a smidge. 

The other thing to keep track of is your fat/oil. Some things go rancid faster than others, while some things have stronger or softer flavors than others.

Coconut oil has a strong scent, but almost no flavor. It is also still solid at room temperature and doesn’t go rancid very fast (one of the reasons you find it in so many products).

*Rendered fat – the fat or grease that is left in the pan after dry-cooking any meat such as pork, lamb,  or duck. Bacon grease blends in to the baking mix beautifully, but will impart a very salty bacon flavor on milder recipes. My favorite coffeecake recipe came out too salty, for example. But my biscuits and gravy turned out great!

For a gluten free mix, use equal parts brown rice, tapioca, and oat flours in place of the regular flour.

For vegans, I advise the use of Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil for multiple reasons, not least of which is that it is organic and coconut oil has more nutritional value than the other non-meat options.

Leave a comment

Filed under All Recipes, Bites, Breads, Grains, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Vegetable-arian

BoozeyFruit and Basic Homemade Tinctures


Do you make your own extracts and tinctures? I do. With a little modification to my original process, I have found that I not only get great full-flavored tinctures, but the vodka-infused fruit left behind is pretty cool, too!

This is a measurement-less recipe as the time of year, fruit used, personal taste, and your location will affect how much vodka and fruit you need. 

You will Need:

1 1-Quart mason jar
Fruit of choice
Sauce pot
Mesh strainer
Cookie sheet
If fruit is small, like berries or grapes: wash and leave whole.
If fruit is larger, like peaches or pineapple: wash, peel as needed, and cut into rough, thumb-sized chunks.
Fill sterile mason jar with fruit, then add vodka to brim.
Pour the whole lot into a sauce pot over low heat (I do mean the very lowest possible setting on your stove).
Warm the fruit, but do not cook or stir it. Takes about 15-30 seconds.
Transfer everything back to the mason jar. Cap tightly and store in a cool dark place.
On the 3rd day, strain most of the fruit bits out of the liquid.
Transfer the strained fruit to a cookie sheet and into the freezer. When fruit pieces are solid, transfer to a freezer-burn resistant container (This is your BoozeyFruit).
Reseal the liquid and remaining fruit, and put back into a cool dark place for at least six more weeks (This is your tincture).
The best part? Everything gets used! I still kick myself when I think of all that fruit I wasted over the years.
A Note:
I have done this with vanilla beans, and then used the infused beans (made into a paste) instead of extract in a couple of my baking adventures.
The flavor overwhelmed my sugar cookie recipe, but really made my sage bread stand up and shout!

Leave a comment

Filed under All Recipes, Beverages, Desserts, Gluten Free, Parties, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Vegetable-arian

Adventures In Frozen Comestibles…


This is my new favorite way to get my daily serving of fruit. I prefer to make this with berries that were fresh when I froze them, but the bananas should be at the ‘only good for making banana bread’ stage of ripeness. That’s the key to the creamy texture without any dairy or sugar added.  The super cool thing about this recipe is that it’s really forgiving. It’s a ratios recipe, so no specific measures or conversions will be needed.

Basic Recipe:

1 part Frozen Banana, cut into chunks
1 part Frozen Fruit of choice (or frozen homemade apple pie filling, as pictured below)
When fruit chunks are well and truly frozen, put it into a food processor. Blend on high until smooth. Put mixture into a container and back in the freezer until refrozen.
To serve:
Eat this the same way you would normally enjoy ice cream.
Works great in a cone, or as the base for a Sundae, or even in your favorite milkshake or smoothie recipe.
Scoop balls of the mixture onto a cookie sheet and freeze overnight.
You can stop here (see above picture), or dip them in chocolate and place back on the cookie sheet in the freezer for another hour.
Viola! You’ve just made mostly-healthy frozen bonbons!

Hoochielicious Recipe:

2 parts Frozen Banana, cut into chunks
3 parts Frozen Boozey Fruit
When fruit is well and truly frozen, put it into a food processor. Blend on high until smooth. Put mixture into a container and back in the freezer until refrozen.
Black Cherry un Ice Cream
To serve: Scoop into a Martini or Highball glass. Garnish with fresh berries on a cocktail pick, if desired.

Leave a comment

Filed under All Recipes, Desserts, Gluten Free, Parties, Techniques, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Vegetable-arian

Low Gluten Pie Crust

Normally I’m a purist when it comes to my mom’s perfect pie crust, but I’ve been reducing my gluten intake in an effort to better control some health issues. This lower gluten crust is so flaky and flavorful, it was the perfect partner for the sweet Birthday Pie I made for my big-brother-by-choice this weekend.


1.5 C All Purpose wheat flour, unsifted

1 C All Purpose Gluten-free flour, unsifted (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill brand because I can find it locally, but King Arthur Flour makes a pretty decent one, too)

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 TBS Raw sugar

16 wz Unsalted butter, chilled

6 TBS Ice water plus a few cubes of ice


Combine flours in a big bowl. Whisk to combine and fluff.

Crush salt and sugar together in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, toss the granules in a plastic zippy bag and crush with your rolling pin.

Add sugar/salt mixture to the flour. Whisk again.

Cut the butter into cubes, tossing them into the flour mixture.


Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter (or 2 knives in a criss-cross motion) until the whole thing looks like a bowl of large-ish bread crumbs.


Use a fork to stir the ice water into the mixture, one TBS at a time until a soft dough forms. You may need only 4 TBS, or as many as 7, depending on various climate factors.


Chill until ready to roll out for your pie.


When ready to use, preheat oven to 350F.

Roll dough out to about 1/8″ thick for regular pie crusts, or a little bit thicker for pocket pies.

Assemble pie.

Bake for about an hour, give or take a few minutes depending on your personal variables (altitude, humidity, oven, etc).


Makes enough dough for one 2-crust pie, two 1-crust pies, or about a dozen pocket pies (depending on size).


For single crust pies, make sure to pierce the bottom really well before blind-baking. This recipe does get a little puffy as it bakes.

Want to add a little wow factor to your sweet pie crust? Just add a pinch or two of a complimentary spice to the flour mixture. Cinnamon and allspice are wonderful for apple, pumpkin, peach, or apricot pies. For citrus pies, add a pinch of nutmeg or cocoa powder. For berry pies, my favorite addition is pulverized citrus peel.

To use for a savory pie such as quiche, simply delete the sugar and use salted butter instead of unsalted. I like to add a pinch or two of ground white or cayenne pepper and cumin to the flour mixture, as well.

You are only limited by your imagination and taste buds. Have fun!

Leave a comment

Filed under All Recipes, Desserts, Techniques, Tips and Tricks, Vegetable-arian