Friday, April 24, 2020

Donut Breakfast Casserole


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I made donuts last week. They turned out so good. I have made donuts before but they did not taste or feel like these. What was different? The dough. I found a recipe by I AM Baker where she made donuts from brioche dough. Adding eggs to the recipe made a huge difference, for me, with texture. I like a donut that is airy and soft on the inside and crispier on the outside. I don't like cake donuts that tend to be thick and dense. 

I loved it. 
The kids loved it.
Donut Casserole is really good.

Unfortunately, we could not eat all the donuts or donut holes. I did not want the dough to be wasted. I decided to cut the donuts up into small pieces and make an overnight casserole for the next day. It reminds me of the casserole I make Christmas morning, but with cinnamon and sugar and no sausage.

After digging around a bit, I learned this is not a unique recipe. There is a whole group of people who take extra donuts or make a donut run just for this make a Donut Breakfast Casserole. I believe they are my village, my best friends, and definitely people I would spend a morning with.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

Recipe--Make the night before you want to eat this casserole.

8-10 donuts, we use cinnamon, plain, or glazed
2 cups of milk, any type
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

1. The night before, cut all of the donuts into 1-inch size pieces. Grease your pan with butter or favorite oil. Add the cut donuts to the 9x13 baking dish or equivalent.

2.  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar all over the top of the cut donut pieces.

3.  Whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. Pour over the top of the cinnamon, sugar, and donuts. Cover.

4.   Place in refrigerator and let sit overnight. In the morning, remove the baking dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake casserole for 35 minutes or until puffed and the egg mixture looks cooked.

5.  Serve with warm syrup. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dandelion Jelly


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The girls and I made our first batch of Dandelion Jelly. I had read that it tastes like honey and it does. I made a small batch because we only had a few dandelions in our yard at the time. I will definitely be making more of this and I hope to add a dandelion syrup too.

This recipe requires you to make a tea first. This allows the benefits of the dandelion to come through without the bulk of the leaves and petals. I made mine the night before and let it steep and then drained it in the morning.  My two cups of tea produced 3 jelly size jars of Dandelion Jelly. We shared one jar with our neighbor.

I use my Pacific Northwest Foraging book to help me identify plants in our yard.

Make sure your dandelions are free from chemicals, if possible, before picking them. You should always strive to find dandelions that have not been exposed to yard sprays or community sprays. Beware of public parks too. They may have a lot of dandelions but if you do not know, in advance,  how the grounds have been tended too, then beware.

There are many claimed benefits of consuming the dandelion plant. To learn more about these benefits see this link from, Medical News Today. As with any herb, please check with your doctor before consuming dandelions to ensure this plant does not interfere with any known ailments or medications.


1. Collect your dandelions. Collect enough floral heads for two cups. Trim the flowers from the stems. Try to remove as much of the green from the yellow. The green part of the flower might make your jelly bitter if there is too much. I used a pair of tweezers to clean up my dandelion petals.

2.  Add two cups of boiling water to petals. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator. Drain before you make the jelly. You should have two cups of tea. I used a coffee filter in a strainer to strain my tea. This allowed the tea to not have any petals or stems. It worked great!

To make the Dandelion Jelly


2 cups of dandelion tea
1 tablespoon of lemon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons of pectin (about 1/2 a 1.75oz box)
2 cups of sugar

1.  Add tea, pectin, and lemon to a large pot. Let tea, lemon juice, and pectin come to a boil. Beware it will begin to foam.
2.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Return to stove and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1-2 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and skim off white foam. 
4. Add jelly to jars. Refrigerate jelly. Eat on toast or biscuits.

If you wish to finish your jelly with a water bath for storage, please see this blog, Lonely Pines Farm. She has great instructions on how to do a water bath. I personally don't do this because we eat the dandelion jelly too fast or I share it with friends.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Ham and Potato Pancakes

Last week I made a ham from Sitka Farms in Toledo. It was delicious. I had a bit of ham leftover along with some mashed potatoes so I decided to make savory ham and potato pancakes. Our girls loved them. They are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. They are a great way to use up leftovers in the refrigerator.

I am posting this recipe because I am linking it to our weekly roundup of recipes and homesteading chores on our 1/2 acre of family fun. Therefore, this post is short and sparse on pictures. 

Ham and Potato Pancakes

4 cups of prepared mashed potatoes
2 eggs
¼ cup of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of minced white onion
¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of oil to fry

1.     Combine all ingredients into a bowl. Mix together.
2.     Heat up oil.
3.     Using an ice cream scoop (this helps to keep the size similar), scoop the mashed potato and add to the pan. Use the back of the scoop to flatten the pancakes a bit.
4.     Cook in oil until crispy and then flip to the other side. Remove pancakes to a cooling rack.
5.     Serve immediately with more cheese, sour cream, green onions, or gravy. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.



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I have tried to attach links, pictures, or videos (when available) to share with you our process, our recipes, and our inspirations. I don't work with any brands and none of the links will direct you to a site to purchase anything. I will always tell you if and when this happens.


3 cups of white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
6 Tablespoons of cold butter, grated
1-1  1/8 cups of cold milk or buttermilk (I use milk)

1.     Add dry ingredients to a bowl. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes while the oven is preheating to 450 degrees. 

2.     Pull flour out of refrigerator and grate in the butter. Toss gently with fingers.

Grate butter into the flour mix and
gently toss together.

3.     Add cold milk and gently stir to blend. Try not to over mix the dough.

4.     Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a little bit of flour, push down on the dough with palms and then fold, turn, and repeat. The idea is to stretch the flour and fold the butter and milk into the dough. This is a puff pastry technique. I do the turns about 6 times.  The dough should be soft and light…not hard and stiff. See the video below.

5.     Roll the dough out to ½ inch. This is important…do not cut and twist the dough with the biscuit cutter. Take your circle and push down and lift up. If you twist it seals the dough and the layers will stick together. If you don’t have a circle cutter, then use a pizza cutter and make square biscuits (but you have to cut all the way around each biscuit).

6.     I use a castiron skillet. I preheat the pan in the over for a few minutes. Slightly oil the pan with vegetable oil, and then add the cut biscuits. They can touch sides. This helps them to rise evenly and not spread out or lean to one side. It should make about 15 biscuits.

7.     The first cut is the best, any dough leftover, just reroll and cut again. They usually look a little bit lumpy and may not rise as nicely as the others. But still taste good.

8.     Bake for 10 minutes or so. They should be slightly golden on top with layers showing in the middle.

NOTE:  To watch a video of how to fold the dough, I found this video from Bon Appetit.  The video below was created by Molly Baz.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Cinnamon Whipped Coffee

Our oldest daughter, Rye, works at Starbucks in our small coastal town. She is on an extended excused break due to the Coronavirus. When this all started, her little sister had just come down with Shingles, and it was recommended to us that we limit our chances of contracting the virus. Rye chose to stay home.

While Rye has been home, she has become our in-house barista. She loves to make coffee and she is very good at it. She came across a recipe for Dalgona Coffee and we have been making it daily. We have decided to vary the ingredients to create some fun flavors. My favorite is this version with cinnamon added to the whipped topping and the oat milk. The oat milk is flavored with Torani Cinnamon Brown Sugar syrup.

This is a dessert in a glass.

This is our first collaboration and working with my daughter is fantastic. We make a pretty good team too.

Cinnamon Whipped Coffee

2 tablespoons instant coffee
2.5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons boiling water (we use our electric kettle for this step)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Milk of your choice: oat milk or cow milk is what we have used. Oat milk is what is pictured.
Syrup of your choice: Any syrup will do to add flavor to your milk. We happen to use chocolate syrup or the Cinnamon Brown Sugar syrup listed above.

1.  In a small bowl add instant coffee, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the boiling water.

2.  Begin whipping the mixture with an electric mixture, continue for 2 minutes until color changes and the mixture becomes thick.

3.  Fill glass half full with ice, add syrup, and then add milk of choice, leaving enough space for whipped coffee.  (The pictures do not have ice, we added it after the fact)

4.  Add the whipped topping to the milk and syrup. The ratio is a personal preference. I prefer more milk with a light layer of whipped coffee. It is also very good stirred into the milk as you start drinking the coffee.

Friday, April 3, 2020

How to Grow Sprouts at Home

April 2020 update:  I have to update the title of what we are actually growing. They are sprouts, and not microgreens. I had always called them microgreens but after thinking about this for a few days, I thought I would Google IF there is a difference between the two and there is. One is grown in water and one is grown in dirt. It is all very fascinating and this website had a great article that explains it all very well.


I have been making SPROUTS at home for 5 years. I started making them at home because they were hard to find in our small beach town or when they were available, it was only during certain times of the year. I also noticed the flavor profiles were always the same: salad greens. I actually enjoy the radish to add a spicy bite to sandwiches or the sunflower microgreens which are larger and bolder in flavor.

I bought this double-stacked sprouts tray set from my local big box store in town. They can be ordered online too. I stick with a certain brand for seeds because this is what works for me. I have tried other brands and they don't sprout like the Botanical Interests. They are all non-GMO if this is an issue for you. Botanical Interest sells both sprouts and microgreen seeds.

I have found three things work well: rinse them twice a day, keep them in a sunny spot (not direct sun), and rotate the trays if using more than one layer.  I have two sets of trays and we stagger the growing process.

It takes about 3 days to seed the seeds begin to sprout and another week before they are filling the tray to max capacity. Once they sprout you can enjoy the seeds.  They can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. We eat them too fast and never get to this point. One tray will make enough for 3-5 sandwiches, depending on how many you use. We like a generous amount on each sandwich.

I follow several blogs that focus on self-reliance. Growing your own microgreens is an affordable way to provide greens for your family. One blog that discusses microgreens in more detail is Practical Self Reliance.  I love how detailed her article is about growing the different flavors and types. 


1.  Each tray (see above) will handle 1-2 tablespoons of seeds. Before you add them to the tray, soak them for 12 hours in water. I do this before I go to bed.

2.   Drain and rinse the seeds the next morning and spread them onto your tray. Rinse one more time.  Try to spread the seeds in a single layer. I try not to overcrowd my trays. Stack trays and set in a warm and sunny room. Try to avoid direct and harsh sunlight.

3.  Every day rinse the seeds and then when they become the microgreens-TWICE. I do this in the morning and before I go to bed. The sprouts will fall from the pressure of the water but then pop right back up.

4.  Gently pull the microgreens from the tray when ready to use. Store them in the refrigerator for 3 days.

5.  Rinse trays and start again.


Microgreens and sprouts are a great replacement, especially in times of need or isolation, for a healthy dose of greens in your life. They are rich in nutrients. We use them in place of lettuce and they can be grown all year round.

This link from Medical News Today discusses the benefits of consuming microgreens.

FLAVORS OF MICROGREENS/SPROUTS TO USEList compiled by  Medical News Today

The microgreens/sprouts will have the flavor of the seed you use. For instance, broccoli microgreens will taste like broccoli. Radish microgreens will be spicy.
  • amaranth
  • basil
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • mustard
  • tatsoi
  • orach
  • borage
  • beet
  • parsley
  • pea
  • red pak choi
  • kohlrabi
  • Swiss chard
  • rocket
I have tried to unsuccessfully grow microgreens in quart jars. I will continue to experiment with this method and let you know if I can get them to work. Until that day, I will continue to use this method and provide microgreens for my family.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Thinking Outside the Box for Cooking Substitutes

We are all home cooks now. WOW, what a turn of events. I knew all that cooking would come in handy and now I am serving a small army of kids and adults in my home. What really has come in handy is using ingredients that are non-traditional and having success with them.  I have included my favorites and how I use each of them.

I thought I would share a few substitutions with everyone which might help those of us who are trying to stay home and use what we have and make things from scratch. Of course, there will be a need for ingredients and it is up to you to source those. We are doing our best to grow as much of our food as we can this year. We are looking to friends and neighbors who hunt and fish to possibly work out a trading system for eggs or other types of exchanges (with very minimal social interacting). We are trying to figure out what we can harvest in our own yard and behind our house in the woods (blueberries, blackberries, chanterelles, herbs, etc). We are trying to stay confined and use what we already have on hand or in our pantry.

This requires us to think outside the box, to give up some of our favorite foods, to change our taste buds, and to possibly learn a few new tricks in the kitchen. Over the years I have cooked almost everything from scratch. I have done this because I enjoy cooking, I have sensitivities to almost everything prepackaged, and I believe it is a better way to feed our bodies---this is just my opinion, everyone has their own reasons as to why they do what they do, these are mine.

Below I will list some links to my favorite homemade foods we use in our home. Please reach out if you have any questions. Often there are substitutions that can be made if you don't have the exact recommended ingredient.  I am sharing some of my own recipes, along with recipes I use by other bloggers. I will not be sharing photos, just links. My time is limited and I think we can all appreciate a more direct approach instead of long, story-filled posts.

1. Aquafaba.  I used this numerous times to make mayonnaise and use it as an egg replacement. You do not have to only use garbanzo beans, I use a variety of bean liquid and get the same results. there are a lot of recipes that you can use aquafaba for. I am not overly skilled at the more refined uses and recipes.

2. Non-Dairy Milk. I use a variety of non-dairy milk products for most of my baking needs. I prefer oat milk, but I have successfully made nut milk in the past. I have used cashews and almonds.


3. Cashew Cream. I use this for sour cream, as a soup thickener, as a base for dips, or a spread on a bagel. When baked it can be made into a hot-dip too. It has many variations. The recipe below shares with you how I made it and how I baked it into a recipe.

I will add more items as I remember them. AGAIN, there is a lot going on in my home with a full house and I am having to readjust my normal routine.

The list below are a few things I use if I can't find what I am looking for at the store or on Amazon. I have had to switch to these things more and more in the last few weeks because the "regular" products are not currently available.

1. Nutritional Yeast. This product can be used as a cheesy flavor. I have made macaroni and cheese with it, as well as adding it to cashew cream to make a cheesy spread.

2. Amino Acids by Braggs. I use this to add a "beef" like flavoring to stews, mushrooms, and soups. It is also used as a substitute for soy sauce.

3. Guar Gum/Xanthan Gum. I use this as a binding agent for baked goods and bread when baking gluten-free. NOTE: You can find an assortment of baked goods without this ingredient, but it does help when making bread. I found it interesting that in the stores I could not buy or find regular wheat flour and only gluten-free flours (rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, etc). These work well when blended and work even better with a binding agent like guar gum.
My gluten-free bread recipe:

4. Unrefined Coconut Oil and other Oil Sources. I use this in place of butter in baked goods, pie crust, and as an oil to deep fry our foods. I prefer to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil when I can, but the flavor doesn't always lend itself to some baked goods. I order this oil by the bucket on Amazon. It is too expensive in the store (in my opinion). I have made tallow before too using beef bones. It is very strong in flavor and should be used sparingly.

Homemade Lard:

5. Monk Fruit Powder. I use this in place of sugar. It takes granules to make anything sweet and can be stretched for a long period of time. It is expensive, but again a little bit goes a long way. I have this in my food storage because it will work in a pinch. Again, this is thinking outside of the box if you cannot find something you normally use. I don't have a reliable link to share with you about monk fruit. I suggest you do some research before you purchase.

6. Greek Yogurt. Yogurt is easy to make at home. I use this in place of sour cream in most of my recipes.

How to make yogurt:
Vegan Yogurt in an Instapot:
Greek Yogurt:

7. Lime Powder. I bought this for the first time last month to replace fresh lime and to provide some vitamin C to my kids in case we cannot get fresh lemons, limes, or oranges. I love it! I have used it in place of lime for tuna poke, guacamole, and a chicken dish. THIS IS NOT AN AD.


8. Chia Seeds. These can be used in place of an egg or used to make jelly. I have used the chia egg a lot in baking but never made the jelly. I am hoping to try the jelly this summer with our blackberries.

How to make a chia egg.
Recipe for Strawberry Chia Jelly.

9. Coconut Sugar. I have used this for years as a replacement for regular white sugar.
What is coconut sugar:

Well, this is a start. It covers a few substitutes for milk, eggs, bread, sweetener, and oil.

I hope this update is helpful and will come in handy if you find yourself in need of a substitute.

If you have any suggestions or items you have used with success, as a substitute, please leave in the comments section, along with a link and I will add it to this list.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Breathe in 2020

This painting is for sale. It is an original on 30X40 canvas painted with acrylic. I painted this after having an especially challenging week and realizing I needed to breathe more and slow down. Air is an element I like to capture. Please email if interested in purchasing or leave a comment.  

is a word I want to hold onto for 2020. I have spent a lot of time this past year learning to breathe for my soul. What does that mean? Well, to me, it means understanding my internal rhythms and listening to my inner voice, following my desires and passions, and saying yes more.

One of my passions is art. I have dabbled in art for many years and found myself wavering between having a hobby and hustling for a profession. This past year I allowed myself to say yes to hard things, specifically putting myself in front of the public eye. I have always struggled with perfectionism and outside perceptions. This paralyzed my mental state on many occasions.

How did I change this? By saying yes to hard things that made me feel uncomfortable.  Saying YES forced me to step outside my comfort zone. I learned to accept my failings, I accepted a lower standard, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Last January I was given the opportunity to be in a play with my daughter. This is something I thought would be fun (for about 5 minutes) and then I panicked. There was no way I could do this, who did I think I was. I had never acted before. I immediately tried to wiggle myself out of this situation, but the director said no. He needed me, he had faith in me, and it was a small part (non-verbal--which turned into 3 speaking parts).  I went to every rehearsal "faking it". I faked it until I made it. I acted my heart out and I loved every second of the performance. It was fun!

Fast forward to the summer and I get a phone call from the same director. He had a show. (oh, great) but I listened, and to my surprise, I was offered the lead role. WHAT? OH MY GOD! I said yes.

Again, I panicked and called him back. He again said, "no, you can do this." How does this happen? By saying yes and breathing (a lot)!

We have to get outside of our comfort zone to live a life we want. We have to accept our abilities and listen to those around us who SEE our potential. Get outside our heads and into our souls.

Here's the thing, I always wanted to act. I always felt like I could do a good job. I secretly wanted this. It wasn't until I jumped without a safety net and things turned out way better than I could have ever expected. This led me to say yes to my art too. Being a performer is fantastic, but being an artist and expressing myself on canvas was the lucky charm in this whole story. This year I will pattern my life after my desire to be an artist.

So, this year. I am breathing in more YES, more opportunity, and more soulful passion about what I desire and want. I am an actor, I am an artist, and I am enough to be both.

2020 is going to be a great year.

SAY YES to 2020

Books I read in 2019 that helped me to say YES to my desires, passions, and soul:

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer
A Weekend to Change Your Life by Joan Anderson
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
All About Love by Bell Hooks

*This is not an ad. I do not make any money off of the links above.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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