Guest Post- The Magic Of Sourdough

This post is written by my friend Valerie Miller. We’ve been besties for years and both find healthy living intriguing and necessary. Though miles apart, we still often chat a couple times a week.  A year ago she graciously sent me sourdough starter by mail. Since then my family and I happily devour sourdough bread on a regular basis. If you’ve not yet given it a try, there’s no better time than now to delight your taste buds and digestive system!

Sourdough: the rage in many a kitchen across the world. Although sourdough is a hot topic, and a popular trend these days, it’s a trend I’m very happy to subscribe to, so much so that my sourdough starter has taken the status of a pet, and making yummy, nourishing sourdough goodies has become a hobby.

Bread is Biblical! Its interesting to take note of the way bread was a staple, and necessary for physical survival in Bible times. Of course, most special of all is the fact that Jesus proclaims himself as the Bread of Life, in a spiritual sense.  Sourdough is believed to originate in ancient Egypt and remained the main method of leavening bread until bakers yeast replaced it a couple hundred years ago. In recent years, bread has become a villain because so many people have difficulty digesting it. And rightfully so. The bread you find on the grocery store shelf has been made with less than stellar grains, added preservatives, artificial flavors, and synthetic vitamins!

Sourdough bread can be made with 3 simple ingredients: flour, salt, and water. How incredible! I’d love to meet the person who discovered the magic of sourdough! 
Sourdough starter contains a mixture of lactic acid and wild yeast. During the fermentation process, these beneficial bacteria partially break down and “predigest” the starch and gluten proteins found in grains. Sourdough is not gluten free, but because of this process that has taken place, many people with a gluten sensitivity can enjoy sourdough bread. This process also puts sourdough bread lower on the glycemic index. In other words, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like yeast bread does.

Baking with sourdough isn’t hard! I’ll admit, I was intimidated by it at first. I thought it was a finicky thing that would produce only nice bread for the professionals. And I’m not a professional, so I anticipated ugly, flat bread! It’s true that I’ve had my share of flops, but those aren’t the norm. And flops are the perfect opportunity for the yummiest French toast!

Get a starter from a friend. You can also make your own starter, but its much easier to start out with an established starter. To feed your starter, you will want to feed with equal amounts of starter to flour and a little less water. It’s important to use unbleached flour, and non chlorinated water to feed your starter. My favorite flour to use  is King Arthur bread flour. It yields a robust, bubbly starter. Starter stored on the counter at room temperature needs to be fed once a day to keep it alive. Here’s the good part (and what I do): you can store your starter in the fridge if you’d like, and feed it only once a week. When you’re ready to use your starter for baking, take it out of the fridge, feed it, and after several hours, it’ll be ready to use. 
Before attempting to make bread, you’ll want to take note of how active and mature your starter is. A good rule of thumb is that it must double in 5 hours to be strong enough for a good rise in bread. The day before making your bread, feed it 3 times, morning, noon, and evening. It will be ready to go the next morning. For the recipe below, I start out with ¼ cup starter, feed it ¼ cup flour, and a little water. By noon, I have a ½ cup of starter to feed with ½ cup flour, and water. Before bedtime, its grown to 1 C, which I feed 1 cup flour, and water. The next morning you’ll have 2 cups starter, the perfect amount for your bread! (Be sure to save out a tablespoon or 2 of starter to set back and feed for the next time!)


Sourdough Sandwich Bread
2 C fed sourdough starter
1 ½ C water
2 T honey
2 T melted butter, or oil
Mix all together in your mixer bowl. 
Add: 
5 Cups bread flour
Mix for 3-4 minutes
Turn the mixer off and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Add 2 ½ tsp salt, and mix/kneed for 10 minutes
Remove the dough from the mixer, put it into a dish, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rise till double, approximately 3 hours. Punch the dough down, divide and shape into 2 loaves. Put the dough into well-greased bread pans, prick with a fork, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise till double. (Approximately 3 hours)
Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Butter the tops and let the loaves rest in the pans till partially cool. This will help keep the loaves soft and prevent the bottom from getting crusty.

Sourdough pancakes
2 C fed sourdough starter
2 eggs
1/4 C melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the starter, eggs,butter and salt. Add the baking powder and soda and mix just until incorporated. Fry pancakes in lots of butter!



If you’re interested in making artisan sourdough bread, this is my favorite recipe. I do prefer a different baking time, 30 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered.
https://littlespoonfarm.com/sourdough-country-loaf-recipe/

I enjoy selling sourdough goodies at a local Farmer’s Market

I’m Valerie Miller, wife of David and mama to Austin, Felicity, and Eric. We reside in Athens, TN. As a busy mom, with a side of homeschooling, I don’t find much time for hobbies these days. Healthy living/eating, of which sourdough is a large part, has become my “hobby”, and it’s so satisfying to know I’m fueling my family with nourishing food! You can contact me at fivesouthernmillers@gmail.com

Gardens And Greenbeans

Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Well, the picture  shows the answer for ours. There’s little produce found amidst the weeds. Jerald is the gardener around here and I help him sometimes with mulching or such. But this year something went koo koo to a greater extent than normal.  It’s an overall flop of about 90%. I wouldn’t be suprised at all if this was the norm if the garden was my responsibility. (Actually, there wouldn’t be a garden if I had to do it- I’d patronize Farmers Markets.) Because of bad experiences like this year, gardens depress me. And some people say gardens are therapy?! Life. Growth. They feel so close to nature.  I see weeds, bugs, probable death of plants and imaginative snakes. I feel close to dirt.  Occasionally there’s actual food to eat.

The poor green beans produced a couple pans of beans instead of buckets like usual. We ate corn once and decided we can buy corn on the cob that’s much better, so we never tried it again.  The cucumbers gave a measly crop of 3 or 4 tiny ones that were actually eatable. The melons look promising but the coons have been feasting on them well before their time, so we have yet to see if we’ll get to enjoy any.  The tomatoes finally started ripening last week.  (Way behind times I know, but I’m just grateful to even be getting any!) But that could change too.  It’s either feast or famine on zucchini and this year we hit famine. Not only did the zucchini perish but the summer squash died right along with it. I’m holding my breath for this volunteer summer squash at the edge of the garden. Don’t ask me how it got there.  Just maybe I’ll get a few to eat fresh?! That off colored leaf there worries me.

As far as I know we have a good crop of potatoes because we haven’t dug them yet.  The sweet potatoes look green and viney so I have my hopes up about them too.

If you have a good crop of green beans and want a slick way to can them, try out oven canning! Here’s how I did mine last summer.

Fill quart jars with your clean and snapped beans. Add: 1 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Bottled is fine.  Fill about half full with water, wipe rims and screw on lids and rings.

Place cookie or bread racks in the oven on top of your oven racks. This gives stability to the jars. Do not place jars on a baking sheet! The jars will need even heat circulating  throughout. 

Fill your oven with jars. Turn to 270*. Begin timing after oven has preheated. Bake for 3 hours. Turn oven off and let the jars inside until they’re mostly cooled. I like to do it in the evening then I can turn the oven off at bedtime and by morning the jars are cool enough to remove. (They may still be warm but will be sealed)

This method can be used for pints but reduce the baking time to 2 ¹/² hours.

I love the simplicity of oven canning!  No need to run that pressure cooker all day long,  getting only 7 quarts canned at a time. You can chuck your oven full of jars and have them all done in one whack! And no pressure to keep you on edge either!

For more oven canning recipes read here.

May you feel blessed that your garden is hardly as bad as mine and if it is, know your not alone! 

I’m not a gardener, so my  flowers should be admired. Only one germanium has died so far! 😜 And we love our front porch at day’s end.

On a different note, I will be taking a break from writing for some time.  Because of my mental health the last two months, we are trying to cut out any possible stress factors. I enjoy writing and don’t like to count it as a stressor, but my hubby thinks otherwise.

I do have a guest post coming in the next month, so will still be posting that. 

Thank you for reading and understanding!

It’s Snack Season

It’s getting that time of year when those yummy snacks and accessories of sweets begin to magically appear. Well, not quite magically but they do appear! Much as I love those party snacks, cookies, and candies, my body does not agree with me on the subject. So I’ve become a minimalist when it comes to Holiday goodies. Plus, I don’t get led into temptation when I don’t make the unhealthy goodies in the first place! But I do know how fun it is to spend time making treats that are holiday exclusives, and I’m not scolding anyone for doing that! 😁

I have fond memories of growing up, making Christmas candy on winter evenings. My older sister cooked up a batch of caramel candy while Mom made a grande size batch of buckeyes. Then we’d melt chocolate and everyone could help dip them. To this day, buckeyes are the one Christmas candy I always melt over. The peanut butter and chocolate sweetness speaks Christmastime to me!! And oh the days before I needed to concern myself on the complex health subject!

I still enjoy making special treats if they are “healthified” in some way. Some goodies might not be totally healthy but healthier would be the key!

One dreary evening this Fall, I enjoyed making a batch of this tasty popcorn and seeing my children’s delight. It’s still sweet but does not have that notorious corn syrup! I host a substantial grudge against it and all things containing it or high fructose corn syrup! There have been many times I check an ingredient list in the store to find that sneaky item hidden there…..and I huff and I puff about that stuff! Its plopped back on the shelf and I depart the aisle muttering. I wish the company that made it could see the scenario. And if you are like me and do the same thing, perhaps we could get the point across; We hate high fructose corn syrup and refuse to buy your products if it’s in there! Ok. Honest confession. I have bought things with it in or even corn syrup itself- horrors! but it’s far from being welcome and used much in my house! End of sticky subject. Now on to the popcorn!

Caramel Popcorn

Melt together 1 cup butter, 1 cup coconut sugar, and 1/2 cup honey. Bring to boil and boil for about 4 minutes, stirring now and then.

Remove from heat and add in:

1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter. Mix well and pour over 6-7 quarts of popped corn. (I used ladyfinger popcorn because it was the only I had on hand but I’d recommend using large kernels) Once well coated, spread on cookie sheets and bake at 225* for approximately 30 minutes. Stir once in between. As it cools on the counter it will become even more crunchy. Store in airtight container.

Party mixes always flock the holiday gatherings but I feel so bloated and trashy after eating it. There’s the high gluten content besides all the preservatives/additives. So here’s a suggestion for a healthier alternative.

Mix together your choice of a variety of nuts. I would go light on the peanuts or omit completely. They can quickly flavor everything else. Add in craisins and a bag of sugar free or dark chocolate chips. This looks festive with the nuts and craisins. Chocolate chips, craisins and nuts are a perfect blend of sweet and salty. (You really do not need M&Ms in trail mix for it to be yummy- who wants all that food coloring and extra sugar anyway?!)

Store your “holiday mix” in a big glass jar on the counter and enjoy! I would still recommend not over indulging because nuts are a heavy food and harder to digest. But they still have health benefits that outweigh the usual mix of crackers, pretzels, cheesies and cereals.

Here’s one more recipe that is in fact, quite healthy! It’s a delicious way to get that good-for-you coconut oil in your body! They are rich.

Healthy Peppermints

3/4 cup virgin (unrefined) coconut oil, room temperature. Whisk until its fluffy. Add in: 1/2 teaspoon stevia- I used E.N.D stevia) and approximately 20 drops Peppermint essential oil or more to suit your taste- I used DoTERRA) Whisk everything till creamy. Use a teaspoon and drop into paper lined mini muffin pan. Chill until hardened.

Melt 1 cup sugar free or dark chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls of chocolate on top of coconut oil mixture. Chill again until chocolate is firm. Makes 1 dozen. These should be stored in the refrigerator or in a very cool place.

I’d love to know- what are your healthier holiday snacks?

Summer Refreshers

The hot, hazy, lazy Summer days have come. Well, the hot and hazy but not the lazy! You have to pretty much set aside time to be lazy if you want any part of laziness. We all need times to slow down and watch the world go by…..we certainly don’t want Summer to slip by unnoticed! How bout some slushies or lemonade to drink for that moment of laziness we all need now and then?

Watermelon Slushie 🍉

Put in blender:

3 c. chilled watermelon, 1/2 of a fresh lemon (juiced), a handful ice cubes, and a sprinkle stevia. Blend well. Pour in a glass jar, sit outside and revel in Summer! Your taste buds will be thrilled. Your children too. They will come running at the noise of the blender and clinking of ice, clamoring for some before they even know what your making. You hand out cups and soon there’ll be sticky, red splotches across the floor, before they ever make it outside. But that’s life in Summer! And oh the blessings of barefoot days!

You can also pour this into popsicle molds, although the water in it separates a little. Your children may think these are twice as nice as the slushie!

Fresh Lemonade 🍋

3 – 4 fresh lemons, juiced. Water and ice to make a gallon, 1 teaspoon stevia glycerite, 1/2 teaspoon E.N.D. stevia. Stir well and slice up one more lemon to drop into the glass pitcher of lemonade. This adds dimensions of beauty! I think this is really nice and sweet. You can always adjust to your likeness. I love that my children can drink up, yet aren’t guzzling down the sugar!

If you don’t care about sugar consumption and want a very easy peasy lemon squeezy of a drink, try this: 1 c. bottled lemon juice, 2 c. sugar, ice and water to make one gallon. This is very tasty and a real quicky if you need an instant drink!

🍋 🍉 If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. If life hands you melons, you may be dyslexic. 😜

It’s Strawberry Season!

Depending where you live, you may or may not be eating fresh strawberries. There are so many ways to enjoy those plump red berries! We all have our favorites and I’m here to tempt you with another one to add to your list! For sure if you’ve got fresh lettuce or spinach growing in your garden and fresh strawberries!! Besides being delicious, this salad is lovely to behold!

Strawberry Tossed Salad

1 10 oz. bag fresh spinach, chopped. Or, you can do a mix of lettuce and spinach or other greens.

1 1/2 c. fresh strawberries, sliced

3/4 c. pecans

1 1/2 T. butter

1 t. sugar and a sprinkle of salt

3 oz. feta cheese

Toast the pecans in skillet with butter. Remove from heat, add sugar and salt; cool.

Dressing:

3/4 c. sugar

6 T. white vinegar

2 T. minced onion

1/2 t. poppy seeds

1/4 t. salt

1/2 t. soy sauce and 1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 c. vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients, adding oil last. Mix well.

In a large bowl, mix the spinach, strawberries and pecans. Pour dressing over mixture and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle feta cheese over top. Used with permission from Stutzman’s Culinary Secrets.

We absolutely love this salad! It’s Jerald’s favorite for sure! Here’s a few notes on changes I make, for a healthier version:

I sprinkle my pecans with stevia instead of sugar. In the dressing, I’ll often substitute sweet mix or stevia for the sugar. I usually omit both soy and Worcestershire sauces, because they’re not the healthiest stuff around and I think it’s perfectly fine without! I like to use MCT oil instead of vegetable oil. I’ll often add extra strawberries or pecans to my likening.

How do you like to eat fresh strawberries?

Lemon Lover’s Luxury

Are you, like me, ready and waiting for warmth and sunshine?! It’s been a cool Spring in Nebraska and I’m anxiously awaiting Summer days to stay!

So here’s a recipe to bring sunshine to your face while you wait for sunshine outdoors! It’s a perfect addition to a Mother’s Day brunch or lunch! They look Springy or Summery; They fit the occasion no matter what. At least, that is, if you love lemon! And, oh yes! Do you like healthy?! Me too! And that’s what these are made of so get your oven on!

Luscious Lemon Bars

Crust:

1/4 c. butter, melted

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. coconut flour

1 c. almond flour

Whisk this together and press into an 8×8 pan, lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake at 350* for 12-13 minutes. Just until very lightly browned.

Filling:

4 eggs

1/2 c. honey

1/2 teaspoon stevia powder

1/2 c. lemon juice- approximately 3 lemons, juiced.

3 Tablespoons tapioca flour

Whisk together eggs, honey, stevia and lemon juice. Last add the tapioca flour. Pour over the prebaked crust. Bake for 22 minutes. The center should not be jiggly when you shake the pan. Cool for about an hour and then move to the fridge to finish cooling for another hour or two.

When your ready to cut the bars, slice around the outside edges first, to loosen. Gently lift them from the pan with the wax paper. Then you can better peel the paper off and slice. If you can resist tasting immediately, they are beautiful dusted with powdered sugar! (Which isn’t so healthy but for looks it’s ok!) But they’re certainly delicious even without! If you have any left after tasting or serving, store the remaining bars in the fridge. These are so chill! I love how you can pick these up without them crumbling to bits!

I made this recipe several times critiquing it. Using fresh lemon juice is definitely most delicious! But I also tried bottled lemon juice with good success. I used the E.N.D. Stevia but I think another brand would work too, although you may need to experiment with the amount.

Jerald is not a lemon fan like me. Lemon bars aren’t his thing. But these! He admitted these “aren’t too bad”. Which actually means “they’re pretty good”. My man is not showy with words, so I’ve learned to interpret his, “not too bad” to mean delicious!

Convenient And Carefree Canning

Why am I talking about canning in April? Isn’t Summer the time to can? Today’s canning is something you can do year round and in fact, it’s perfect to do any other time than in the middle of Summer when you’re already swamped in the canning department! Today we’re talking about dry beans and chicken.

We enjoy beans and eat a lot at our house. I like having a variety of canned beans on my shelves! I buy a 25 lb. bag at a time, then it lasts for a year or two. I only can a big batch of beans at a time as I need them.

I used to can them using my pressure canner. I was under a lot of pressure to be watching that pressure on my canner for every batch of beans I put through! But it was still worth it to have my own home canned beans…No BPA liner for one thing, plus, it’s one less thing to buy at the store! But I have discovered such an easy way to can beans or chicken, that you can basically take a nap or go to bed while your food is being canned!!

You first have to fill your jars, so of course there is a little work involved. I use pint jars, fill with half a cup dry beans. Add a half teaspoon salt. Fill to the neck with water. Wipe the jar tops and put on lids and rings. I do not soak my beans beforehand. I reused lids for all these jars and every one sealed!

58 pints!!

Place bread or cookie racks in the oven on top of your oven racks. Then set the jars on the racks and fill your oven with jars! As many or as few as you like. Once you have them all arranged, turn your oven to 255*. When it beeps the correct temperature, begin timing and let them at that temperature for 5 hours. This is when you can go take your nap. After 5 hours, turn the oven off and let them sit in the oven for another 10 hours more or less. There’s not an exact time frame here. I like to get them in the oven late afternoon, like around 4:30. Then I can turn them off at 9:30 p.m. and go to bed! Forget about them until the next morning! I like to do this at night so it doesn’t tie up my oven all day. If you wake up during the night you might hear the assuring little pops of sealing jars! About 7:30 a.m. I took my jars out of the oven and set them on the counter to finish cooling. They were actually still hot enough I needed a tea towel to handle them. I then waited until the next day, before putting them on my basement shelves.

I also use this same method to can chicken breasts. Stuff jars with meat- I used pints, and add a half teaspoon salt. I did not add water to these jars because it will make broth of its own as it cooks. Again, have your jars in the oven for 5 hours at 255*, turn the oven off and let set until nearly cool. Having canned chicken and beans on hand is perfect for quick meals! I like adding either or both to a salad for some good protein and you’ve got a meal right there!

Get some beans in the oven and go to bed! It’s called carefree canning!

Four DIY Spa Products

Shortly after I was married, I began taking a great interest in health. I remember becoming aware of all the hidden toxins in body products. It was hard to grasp that such awful things like “cancer causing substances” were in my body wash and lotions! I distinctly remember a certain body wash that I had gotten especially for our honeymoon and my hubby loved the smell! I hated so much to just throw it away! I think I used it a few more times before I trashed it. I know the sorrow of leaving beloved scents behind. But! Your sense of scents will change as you switch to natural products!

And now? I wouldn’t dream of shopping for body products at normal places like Walmart or even Bath and Body Works. Not only because of parabens and phlathates swimming in the stuff, but the scent!! Powerfully disturbing! I’ll just say my family and I are now very sensitive to chemical fragrances, and besides, synthetic fragrances are endocrine disruptors!

So. Let’s look at a few things we can make ourselves that are great to use and completely non toxic! They don’t take a lot of hard to find ingredients. A few basics and the rest you may have in your home already!

Bath Salts:

2 cups epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup sea salt, 6-10 drops essential oil of your choice. Stir together and pour into a pretty jar. Use about a 3/4 cup in a hot tub and soak until your wrinkly!

Sugar Body Scrub:

3/4 cup raw sugar. (I like to grind mine up so it’s not as coarse.) 1/4-1/2 cup sweet almond oil, or oils like grapeseed or jojoba. Stir these together. I guesstimate a bit as to how it looks. You want it rather a bit extra oily than too dry. Add in 5-8 drops essential oils of your choice. After you pour it into your jar, the oil will separate and that’s ok! Just stir before using. Rubbing this on your body exfoliates the dead skin. Rinse off and pat dry. Now, aren’t you starting to feel pretty good about yourself, coming out of that soak and scrub?! But we’re not done yet!

Hand And Body Lotion:

3/4 cup sweet almond oil. I’ve found this to work best so wouldn’t substitute. 2 Tablespoons beeswax pellets. *Using a white beeswax makes a whiter lotion. Melt these two on low heat until beeswax is completely melted. Cool 1-2 minutes.

In the blender pour 1 cup distilled water. *Using distilled ensures a longer shelf life because it’s pure water without contamination. Start running blender on high, then slowly drizzle in the oil/beeswax mixture and keep blending till emulsified. This happens pretty quick, but keep blending. Scrape the sides as it becomes more emulsified and there’s no water left. Add in your essential oils of choice- approx 30 drops. Blend again. Have your jars ready for pouring. As soon as it’s finished blending, pour the lotion into them. It does set up a little, so I like to scrape it out as soon as I can. And now finish off your spa night with this lotion! I bet you didn’t know lotion could be this easy to make! It also makes a unique little gift!

The worst part is the messy blender to clean. After scraping it out really good, I use paper towels to wipe it out as much as possible, before adding hot soap and water and blending. If you try washing it with greasy sides, it’ll be harder to wash because it won’t wash off as easy as food does!

Lip Balm:

Melt over low heat: 1/2 Tablespoon Shea butter, 1/2 Tablespoon sweet almond or coconut oil, 1 scant teaspoon beeswax pellets. I use a small stainless steel measuring cup or bowl on the stove because I don’t like to use the microwave and besides, it’s easier to watch the progression of melting. Remove from heat and add essential oils. I just drop in as I feel led! If it’s peppermint oil, you don’t want too much, so maybe like 2-3 drops. But for lavender you can do more like 4-6 drops. Have your lip tubes ready and pour in quickly. This sets up pretty fast as soon as it’s away from heat. Cool before capping the lip tubes. I buy my tubes at Hobby Lobby.

* I have had a lot of trial and error in getting these lip balms to the exact consistency I like. If it’s too hard, add less beeswax and if it’s too soft add a tad more. I used to add a half Tablespoon beeswax but kept experimenting and cutting back. The most recent time I made it I used coconut oil and the scant half teaspoon beeswax. I was really pleased with the lovely softness of it! I like it buttery smooth but sometimes I’ve had trouble with it being harder to rub on. Then I just “huff” on it before using. The warm breath softens the balm a tiny bit and it rubs on better. Keep playing around if it doesn’t suit your likes the first time! *If it gets pebbly after a few months, remelt it, and pour back in the tubes. I’ve had that trouble especially with some salves I’ve made and I believe it’s the beeswax. After its remelted it’s nice and smooth again! Remember, these products have no preservatives and chemicals so it won’t be quite like your ‘normal’ lip balm or lotion. But if you’re like me and enjoy natural body care, you won’t mind! And besides, this way you KNOW what’s in your products!!

And just for what it’s worth… My latest batch of lip balm I made, I actually prefer over the lip balm from a very popular brand of natural body products!! Sure, their’s have more flavor variety but are hard to rub on! Mine just glides over my lips so smooth and shiny, it makes me beam with accomplishment! And I don’t even have to “huff” over it! 😜

* You can buy Sweet Almond oil, Shea butter and beeswax pellets at most health food stores or Amazon. I mostly use the Now brand. My beeswax is Sky Organics.

Adding labels and corralling these items in a cute basket makes a special gift most any woman would enjoy! My labels are very basic and you could print some much prettier than these, I’m sure!

Do you make some of your own body products? I’d love to hear about it!

Layered Cakes And Love ❤️

This post will be short and sweet. Well, actually more sweet than short. If your looking for a scrumptious dessert for a Valentine’s lunch or dinner, I recommend this Red Raspberry White Chocolate layer cake. An absolute paradise for the taste buds! Every once in awhile, I enjoy laying aside all gluten and sugar free recipes and bake up a lovely, fluffy cake! I usually take it to social functions so we have help eating it!

Assembling the cake

Red Raspberry White Chocolate Cake

Mix a white cake mix using directions on box, then melt 4 oz. baker’s white chocolate and beat into cake batter. Divide batter into 3 8” round cake pans. I first line them with wax paper then spray them well so they will release easily. Bake at 350* for 18-20 min. Flip onto wax paper lined plates to cool.

Red Raspberry Filling:

Whisk together 3 T. flour and 6 T. milk. Heat and stir over medium heat till thickened. Cool and set aside.

Cream together 6 T. Shortening and 3 T. Soft Butter, then beat in 4 T. melted red raspberry jam, 3 C. powdered sugar, 1/2 t. red raspberry flavoring and a pinch salt. Last beat in the cooled flour mixture. Beat very well.

Frosting:

Beat well 8 oz. soft cream cheese and 1 stick soft butter. Add in 4 oz. baker’s white chocolate squares, melted, and 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar and a pinch salt.

To assemble the cake, put one cake layer on platter or cake stand. (It works best to make the cake layers ahead of time, wrap individually in Saran Wrap and freeze for a day or at least a few hours. This makes them so much easier to work with when frosting and assembling!) Spread with red raspberry filling, some fresh raspberries, cut in half, then another cake layer. Repeat. Once the 3rd layer is on, frost with the white chocolate icing. Decorate with fresh raspberries and white chocolate peels as desired. Some fresh mint sprigs would look beautiful but I did not have any. Also, this is really sweet, so if you want to ice it with the ‘naked’ look, you could cut down on the sugar intake.😛 One of my friends did this cake like that for a party and it looked really pretty too!

Enjoy a taste of yum!

Now here’s another cake idea but without all that flour and sugar! This doesn’t look Valentine’sish but it still works for a healthier yum! Surprisingly it has no flour in it at all! Though it’s not a tall, fluffy cake, it is still quite tasty!

Layered Ho Ho Cake

8 eggs separated

1/8 t. cream of tarter

8 oz. cream cheese

1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. simple sweet

1/ 3 c. cocoa

Beat egg whites with cream of tarter until stiff. Mix rest of ingredients together, then gently fold in egg whites. Divide batter into 3 8” round pans lined with wax paper. Bake at 300* for 30 minutes. Flip onto wax paper lined plates to cool.

Filling:

6 oz. cream cheese

1/4 c. simple sweet

1 t. vanilla

3/4 c. whipping cream

Mix cream cheese, sweetner and vanilla until smooth. Beat cream till stiff and add to cream cheese. Place one cake layer on plate or stand and spread on half of filling. Place another cake on top and spread with remainder of filling. Top with last cake.

Glaze:

2 T. Butter

2/3 c. Lily’s chocolate chips (or you can use another brand of sugar free chocolate chips if desired)

1 T. Simple sweet

1 t. Cocoa

2 T. Whipping cream

Melt butter and chocolate chips on low heat, then remove from heat and add rest of ingredients. Mix well. Cool a little before pouring over cake. Used with permission from Simple Foods.

More important than eating beautiful cakes is the love in your heart for those around you. I think this quote is so true- “Your love for God is no more than your love for the person you love the least.” When we have the Redemptive love of Christ in our hearts, He will help us love those ‘hard to love people’. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7, 8. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 A true test of whether we are really followers of Christ! In this day of social distancing and mask wearing, we can be the quiet, courageous person displaying love and kindness to all around us. There are many opportunities in this cold and fearful world. Be kind today!

Cranberries And Christmas

Isn’t the month of December such a unique month?! Always filled to the brim with all the holiday excitements of special baking, shopping, gift wrapping, food making, Christmas suppers, programs and get togethers….

We are probably too quick to take a lot for granted…. At least I am. There’s so many in this world who are extra lonely and sad right now, because they know it’s a time for families to get together and they have none. (Or maybe aren’t allowed to get together!) And worst of all, many do not know the real meaning of Christmas! They’ve never experienced the Joy of Jesus in their hearts and thus knowing the real meaning of the coming of Jesus as a baby so many years ago! Are we compassionate and showing the love of Jesus to others wherever we can?!

Recently I read a story of a family who enjoyed visiting a live nativity at a church. When the children peeped in to see “baby Jesus”, there was nothing but a few rolled up blankets! What disappointment! A lesson for us, let’s be very conscious of the fact that people are watching us as Christians and are they seeing Jesus in us or will they be disappointed too?! Are we ministering to the needy around us and thus showing Jesus?

Here’s a different twist to add to your holiday snacks…. I was super pleased when I tried this out!

Cranberry Salsa

1 12 oz. package cranberries, fresh or frozen, chopped

1 c. sugar

1 jalapeño seeded and chopped

1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

a bit of chopped onions

Mix the chopped cranberries and sugar until well mixed, then stir in the remainder of ingredients. I think 1 cup sugar is plenty but I know cranberries are sour. But feel free to experiment with less or using a sugar substitute! This gets juicy after it sets a bit. Serve with cream cheese and crackers. Yum!!

Cranberry Salsa

Here’s another recipe I just got and made very recently. Thanks to a new friend I “met” recently on a WhatsApp chat, namely, Rachel Weirich, who was so kind in allowing me to share on here!!

Cranberry Nut Cookies

2 c. almond flour (not packed)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 c. simple sweet or sweetner of choice

2 eggs

1/2 t. vanilla

1/4 c. melted coconut oil or butter

1/4 c. chopped pecans

1 c. fresh or frozen chopped cranberries

Mix dry ingredients together then add in remaining ingredients and stir well. Drop on to greased cookie and flatten with fork. Bake at 350* for about 10-12 minutes. Once cooled, drizzle with melted dark chocolate. I couldn’t drizzle the chocolate in a beautifying fashion so I ended up just spreading the chocolate over top!😜

Cranberry Nut Cookies

I was happy to have another yummy gluten free cookie recipe to add to my collection and especially a pretty and healthy Christmas cookie at that!

Cranberries and Popcorn String

Thread a needle, knot the end, and let your children have fun stringing together cranberries and big popcorn for simple holiday decor!

May you and yours enjoy a blessed Christmas and New year! How thankful I am for the assurance that we have the Lord to walk beside us every step of the unknown year ahead! He will not forsake his own and is so worthy of our trust!

Jerald & Violet Josie Kate- 5 Reece Edison- 16 months