Easy Cranberry Walnut Pie and Epic $1637 Kitchen Giveaway

Easy Cranberry Walnut Pie and Epic Kitchen Giveaway- Cranberries and walnuts team up with a "secret" ingredient that will win over even non-cranberry lovers

I had a vision. When I started brainstorming about this post, I thought, “What would make a better Thanksgiving dessert than combining some of my favorite flavors into a cranberry walnut pie?”

Alas, recipe attempt #1 was a complete bomb. It turned out way too sweet, and the texture was just wrong. The rest of the family refused to eat it, so I ended up eating pie for a week.  Ugh.  Thankfully, round two went much better.  I ended up with a pie/bar cookie hybrid that goes together without a fuss.  The “secret ingredient” raspberries add a little extra natural sweetness so you can cut back on the sugar and win over those who may not be big cranberry lovers.  Cranberries have some natural pectin (which is why cranberry sauce sets up), but adding cornstarch gives the filling a more velvety texture.

Husband and boys both gave it a thumbs up, and as much as I like pie and this version is tasty, I’m relieved that I won’t be eating it for an entire week. [Read more…]

Pumpkin Leather – Tastes Like Portable Pumpkin Pie

This dried pumpkin leather is a tasty, easy to make snack that tastes like pumpkin pie.  Nutritious, portable, and doubles as a way to store extra pumpkin.

‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin – but sometimes our pumpkin treats are more than a little messy.  Enter portable pumpkin pie!  It has all the flavor of regular pumpkin pie in a grab and go snack.  It’s gluten free and free of refined sugars, too.  (Confession – while I was writing this I went and grabbed some to munch on – it’s addictive.)

This recipe is adapted from Mary Bell’s Dehydrator cookbook, which is my “go to” book for all things dehydrated.  I prefer to use organic spices whenever possible, as they are not irradiated or sporting excess chemicals.  The flavor and aroma generally knocks the socks off the average grocery store spices, too.  Mountain Rose Herbs (affiliate link) offers a great selection of organic herbs and spices, as does Frontier Natural Foods.  Using homegrown pumpkin and you-pick or homegrown apples for applesauce, bulk dried coconut and honey helps make this treat budget friendly. [Read more…]

Honey Caramel Corn Recipe

Old Fashioned Honey Caramel Corn Recipe - This honey caramel corn is light, buttery and delicious.

When I was a little girl, one of the treats my Grandma Catherine would buy me was CrackerJacks™ caramel corn. I had a collection of all the little toys they put inside the boxes, from mini-holographic photos to magnifying spyglasses.  I enjoyed that sweet, crispy buttery caramel corn, but haven’t purchased it in years because they use ingredients that we try to avoid, like genetically modified soy and corn.

Last week when I asked for ideas about what sort of recipe I should make in cast iron using honey to promote these giveaways, my friend, Shannon, mentioned that her family always made a delicious honey caramel corn recipe for the holiday season.  She messaged me a copy of a handwritten list of ingredients, saying that she remembered they used a thermometer but didn’t remember cooking details.  A little online digging revealed a recipe that sounded similar, so I married the two together and came up with a recipe that reminds me of grandma and the way things used to taste. [Read more…]

Easy Chocolate Mint Extract Recipe

DIY Mint Extract - This easy chocolate mint recipe is a great way to use your home grown mint for cooking, baking, hot chocolate,  gift giving and more.

Do you like the taste of chocolate and peppermint together?  Then you should enjoy this easy chocolate mint extract recipe.  It’s made in a similar manner to the vanilla, almond and lemon extracts (check out the other homemade extract recipes and get the printable labels).  I use the chocolate mint plant as the basis for my extract, but peppermint will also work in combination with cacao nibs.  Homemade extracts are great for holiday gift giving, although the flavor gets stronger the longer you allow the extract to steep, so sooner is better if you’d like to gift them this year.  I haven’t purchased commercial mint extract in years.

You can use your homemade chocolate mint extract for all sorts of things – add a little to your brownies, hot chocolate or hot chocolate eggnog, ice cream, homemade peppermint patties – use your imagination! [Read more…]

How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies

How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies with Fresh or Dried Elderberries
My friend, Tami, saw my comment on the Common Sense Homesteading Facebook page about wanting to experiment with elderberries, and embraced the challenge with gusto.  She and her family went picking, and came home with the entire car trunk filled with elderberries.  Bless her heart, I didn’t have time to help her process them the next day, so she stuck them in the freezer overnight and tackled them herself.  In this post we’ll share how to process fresh elderberries, plus how to make elderberry syrup and elderberry jelly with those fresh elderberries, and an easy recipe for a small batch of immune boosting elderberry syrup with dried elderberries. [Read more…]