Jar opener

Last summer we had the pleasure of visiting the quaintest little house you ever did see. It was nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania right on a lake. The woman of the house was born and raised in Germany. Everything about the inside and outside of her house says “Germany!” We had such a lovely time.

Here, ShaSha is showing off the salamander that she caught:
While we were at this house on the most perfect of all days, I picked up a clever little trick. (Please don’t tell me I’m the last person on earth to learn this!)

Do you have one of these in your home?You know, the cheapest little bottle opener thing that you can probably get for less than a dollar? Well, I knew it was supposed to open bottles (and even wine corks apparently), but I never realized you could use them to open jars.

Do you see in this following picture, how I placed the pointy side under the bottom ridge of the lid?
The flat side leans against the jar to be opened. Push down until you hear a pop. Now that the vacuum seal is popped you can easily twist the cap off.

Note: After I started writing this post I “researched” bottle openers. Come to find out, the cheap little one I have isn’t so easy to come across in the real world! Have no fear, take what you do have, put the pointy end under the rim and fiddle with it until you see which way works best with your particular opener.

This is linked to Tammy’s kitchen tip Tuesdays.

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Carrot Muffins

Muffins are one of my best friends. I love how easy they are to put together and I love how they provide breakfast and the day’s snacks all in one go.

I made these Carrot muffins so my husband would eat breakfast in the mornings. I call him a “fargo”. His commute is over 45 minutes each way. As a matter of fact, his commute is TWO HOURS each way!!! He tells me he doesn’t have time to eat breakfast. True, he probably doesn’t have time to eat at home, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take a couple of tasty muffins with him!

Carrot Muffins

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1  1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil *see Note
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 celcius). Grease 2 muffin tins or line with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and carrots. In a separate large bowl beat together eggs, sugar, oil and butter. Add the wet mix to the dry and mix thoroughly without overmixing.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way. Bake in preheated oven for 21-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. These muffins freeze nicely.

Makes 20-22 muffins.

*Note: applesauce may be substituted for either the butter or oil.

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Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes

Don’t you love yummy simple desserts that you can eat on a paper towel? I know I do! These kandy kakes are something I grew up with in Philly. I had to buy them from the store though, so I was ecstatic when I found the recipe in a church cookbook. Its a fairly basic dense yellow cake with peanut butter and chocolate on top.

This is my husband’s favorite treat. We don’t have it often enough! I made this sheet and it was gone within 24 hours! How bad does that sound?!

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven you spread a layer of peanut butter on top and put it in the fridge:

Wait until the peanut butter doesn’t slide everywhere and then spread chocolate on top.

I cut mine pretty big and probably got over 30 pieces out of it. If you want them to last longer, you can cut them smaller.


Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp melted butter

Toppings: peanut butter and chocolate icing or melted chocolate

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and melted butter. Mix thoroughly.

Add dry ingredients to wet and combine. Do not over mix. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread batter in greased jelly pan roll. Bake for 20 minutes.

As soon as you remove cake from the oven, spread peanut butter over entire cake. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. You can melt Hershey’s chocolate bars, chocolate chips or use up some leftover chocolate frosting to spread on top of peanut butter layer. You do not need a thick layer, thin will do.

Slice into 30 or more pieces. Refrigerate leftovers.

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Not enough loaf pans?

When I started baking bread I lacked one important item. I had (and still only have) one loaf pan. I was not about to bake one loaf at a time and I didn’t want big round loaves for sandwich bread. I also didn’t want to run to the store and purchase more. So instead I used my MacGyver skills and came up with a solution.

I started using my 9″ square baking dish. It houses 2 loaves perfectly.

I haven’t tried doing 3 loaves in a 9×13, but I’m going to guess that the middle one wouldn’t get cooked at the same rate, so it may not be a super wise idea.

Have you come up with any tricky ways to do things in the kitchen? I’d love to hear!

I’m linking this up to Tammy’s Kitchen tip Tuesday.

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Pass the cheese, please.

Last week we had some friends come over for dinner. I gave them Cuban food to eat and they gave me homemade cheese and orange tomatoes from their garden. That gift is more precious than gold to me.

They own a mini-farm. They have chickens, ducks, goats and a big, bountiful garden. The goats give milk and from the milk my friend made cheese. She gave us two big quarters of her cheese. One of them is seasoned with Italian spices and the other is flavored with red pepper flakes.

Let me tell you… as much as I love my brie and pepper jack, I can’t eat them by themselves. I need crackers, grapes or something. This lovely homemade cheese, however, I have been eating by the slice. Its soooo good. My kids love it, too. The spicy cheese is almost gone!

Isn’t friendship sweet? What kind of precious treasures have you given or received in the past?

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Classic Sweet Tea

As summer comes to a close I’ve been enjoying a glass or two of sweet tea. Is there any time of year when a nice cold glass of sweet tea isn’t welcome?

For years, the thought of making sweet tea scared me. Silly, isn’t it?! I grew up in a poor neighborhood of Philadelphia, not in the south. So, I thought making sweet tea involved a long process and special equipment. I’m glad I’ve finally been enlightened with the ease of making it!

I start with a mug of strong tea. I make mine by adding a pinch of baking soda to the mug, adding boiling water and a tea bag. Let it sit for longer than normal. This allows the tea to get super strong. You could just as easily add two tea bags and brew for the normal length of time.

The baking soda cuts down on the bitterness that comes from brewing tea for too long. Add sweetener and then pour into a glass full of ice. Yum!

3 minute Sweet tea

  • 1 tea bag of choice
  • 1 pinch of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp sugar
  • 16 oz glass filled with ice

Place 1 pinch of baking soda and 1 tea bag in 8 oz mug. Pour boiling water on top. Allow to steep for 5-6 minutes. Remove tea bag. Add sugar. Pour over ice and enjoy!

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Product Review: Log Cabin All Natural Syrup

Maple syrup is da’ bomb. Know what I’m sayin’? We LOVE maple syrup in our house. It’s basically the only thing I’ll serve with pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc. However, as much as I love it, it does happen to cost a pretty penny. We don’t have too many pretty pennies laying around these days, so on occasion I will buy Log Cabin All Natural Syrup instead.

Looking at the ingredients on syrup bottles is one of the things that gets my blood boiling in the cereal aisle. I try to avoid all artificial preservatives, but the one I despise the most is sodium benzoate. Karate kid reacts badly to it. He lacks self control and gets hyperactive beyond reason. Every normal syrup that I’ve checked has sodium benzoate in it. Log Cabin All Natural does not. Look at the few ingredients it carries:

It gives me such relief when companies offer products like this. My bottle is 22 oz and it cost me less than 6 bucks.

My family still primarily uses pure maple syrup, but when we seem to go through too much too quickly, I start relying on Log Cabin All Natural Syrup.

What do you use to top your pancakes?

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