Monday, July 15, 2019

Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

From the files of my sister, Auntie Bucksnort. There is a copy at


  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Even better the second day.

Auntie Bucksnort's Spicy Peanut Noodles

In her own words:

Very simple & quick - it's my go-to-must-have-carbs-right-this-instant dish.

Wide rice noodles (boil 12 minutes, then rinse really well with hot water). 

In a big microwave proof bowl: a bunch of Mae Ploy sauce (cheapest at the cheapy groovy food supply store*) w/ a great big glop of smooth cheapy peanut butter. (Might be even better w/ chunky p.b.) Heat that for 3 minutes, whisk in rice wine vinegar and a whole bunch of lime juice

Toss in noodles. I like to add a bunch of sliced hearts of palm from the cheapy groovy food supply store if I have them. And I like eating it hot or cold. Might be good as a base for pad thai. Cheapest to order the noodles if you can bear dealing with the great big footprint of all that prime packaging.

My note:

*The cheapy groovy food supply store: We never can remember the name of this place since it seems to change hands before we can get used to what it's called. Right now it is Shamrock Foods and is located at 2489 N Main St, Las Cruces, NM 88001.

I always find it by searching online for "Las Cruces restaurant supply" since it has restaurant-style bowls, utensils, and pans in addition to lots of interesting foods.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Recipes for a Zero Waste Household

We are doing our best to move toward zero waste production in our house, which means keeping in mind the old slogan:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Plastic is number one on our list: Our goal is to reduce the number of  plastic items coming into the house, reuse the ones we already have as we use up their contents, and recycle the remaining ones. When, say, a container of dishwasher liquid is empty, I search for a homemade solution to put into it. Since I found a good recipe for a dry dishwasher soap, I've put that into a clean glass container and have rinsed and recycled the huge plastic dishwasher detergent container (vowing never to buy another).

It's important to realize that plastic doesn't go away (see Humans Have Made 8.3 Billion Tons of Plastic: and that very little of recyclable plastic actually gets recycled (see A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn't Recycled:

In addition to reducing plastic use, we are working on reducing our dependence on paper products. As we use up our existing supply, we try to figure out a substitute for each product. 

And so it goes, one step at a time. And yes, these steps might take a little longer but I believe that we owe it to the earth and to ourselves.

Here are some of the recipes and substitutions we've found so far.


Paper towels: We have put a stack of clean old dishcloths where the paper towels used to be.

Dishwasher detergents: 

There are lots of diy mistures online, but this one worked best with our very hard water:

1/2 cup washing soda
1/4 cup Oxi Clean
1 tsp. citric acid

Use 1 tbl. of this mixture, together with three drops blue Dawn detergent in the soap dispenser and 1/2 cup vinegar in a cup in the top rack.

Food waste:
We feed scraps to our chickens and compost the rest. Bits of meat or bones are frozen until it's time to put them into the trash (which we have reduced to once a month pickup).

We buy drinking water in large jugs that we take back to the store when empty. We carry refillable personal aluminum water bottles instead of plastic ones.

We use mesh fabric bags for buying produce, and fabric grocery bags to carry food home.

Make our own:
I've always liked cooking from scratch. When I noticed the empty plastic yogurt containers stacking up, I went back to making my own yogurt. It's made in glass jars in the instant pot, and a little from each batch acts as a starter for the next. The recipe is here:

Food storage:
We use recycled glass and plastic containers for leftovers, silicon food storage bags in the fridge and freezer, and we wash and reuse the ziplock bags that we purchased before our zero waste project.

When we painted our kitchen cabinets, we added one that holds two trash containers--one for trash and one for recyclable materials. The containers slide out and back in for a less messy look and are less tempting to our dogs.

Our garbage pickup company wants all trash bagged, and I wanted to stop buying plastic kitchen garbage bags--so now we reuse feed bags (chicken food, dog food) to put the garbage into. Seems like a win-win to me. The only problem? We have far more empty feed bags than trash!


DIY Tub and Toilet Cleaner (from 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, by Kathryn Kellogg):
3/4 cup baking soda
2-3 tbl. hydrogen peroxide
2-3 tbl. liquid castile soap

Mix together to make a thick paste. Rub the paste onto the surface, let sit 10 minutes, wipe and rinse.

We have substituted a little jar of baking soda for all those non-recyclable tubes of toothpaste. It works great, and my dentist approves.
Update: I like this recipe even better: Equal parts baking soda and coconut oil, flavored with a few drops of peppermint.

Panty Liners and Sanitary Pads:
Make your own washable liners (here is one pattern; there are lots of others online: or purchase some online from Etsy or Amazon. You will be amazed at how much money you save and at how much the bathroom waste is reduced. Just rinse them out, wash with the regular laundry, and let them dry on a rack in the sun.

I am using a shampoo bar (it comes wrapped in paper) now and am finding it economical, fragrant, and good for my hair. Another option is to buy liquid shampoo from bulk containers (bring your own container and have the checker weight it empty). I found that our local food coop has a good variety of bulk lotions, soaps, and shampoos.

Believe it or not, good old apple cider vinegar works great.

Body Wash:
Buy bulk, or just use bar soap. I have a big bottle of Dr. Bronner's castile soap that I water down and put in the old body wash container.

We stopped buying plastic shavers and invested ($8.00 on Amazon) in an old-fashioned metal safety razor with razor blades. Works great, less waste.



Powdered form:
One  4 lb. box of each: Super washing soda, borax, and baking soda; 3 bars of Fels Naptha soap (or Kirk's, Zote, or Ivory) grated. Mix (wear gloves) in a large container. Use 2 heaping tbl. for each load. Works great.

Liquid form:

Dryer sheets:

You can use a washcloth dampened with vinegar in the dryer load
You can add 1/2 white vinegar to the washer load
You can buy Laundry Betty felted wool balls from Amazon
My favorite: Toss a few clean, dry tennis balls into the dryer along with the wet clothes. This works--no static.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Almond Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar

Mix together with paddle attachment in stand mixer. Whip at high speed for five minutes.

1 cup almond butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Continue whipping for another two to three minutes.

Sift together:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Add sifted ingredients to the first mixture. Stir just until completely blended.

Chill dough for at least an hour. Don't skip this step.

Drop cookies onto parchment lined cookie sheets, 1/4 cup for each cookie. Cookies should be four inches apart.

Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Let cool on the parchment paper. Store in freezer bags. Makes abou 21 large cookies.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Alton Brown's Homemade Marshmallows

I added a bit of pink coloring and used heart shaped cookie cutters for my second batch

I've always wanted to try making marshmallows and am loving Alton Brown's method. It can be a bit sticky, but if you follow his directions carefully, you will have great success. Don't bother reading the comments on his original recipe--see link below. I have no idea why some people had so much trouble, unless they really can't follow written directions!

We served these with the most decadent hot chocolate we could make, sipped by the side of the kiva fireplace, which was decorated for Christmas. 

I'm quoting the recipe below, exactly as it appears at

  1. 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  2. 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  3. 12 ounces granulated sugar
  4. 1 cup light corn syrup
  5. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  8. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  9. Nonstick spray
  1. Combine the gelatin with 1/2 cup of the cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
  2. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, the granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. When the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
  3. Turn the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
  2. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula [or your fingers dipped in water and shaken off] for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  3. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel or knife dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas Pudding Ice Cream Bombe

This is so good and so easy! I got the recipe from a friend's son, who got it from Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking. It's a bit like mincemeat, but I thought of spumoni when I tasted it. Go to the link to read more about how Gemma describes it.

1. Mix the mincemeat and let steep in fridge overnight. Stir together these ingredients, except for the liquor.

1 cup raisins
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pistachios or pecans, toasted and chopped
Grated zest of one lemon
Grated zest of one orange
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or brandy (optional)

2. Grease and line a 2 litre pudding basin with clingfilm, using enough so that it hangs well over the sides. (Translation for Americans: Use a steep-sided bowl or jello mold that will hold a little over 2 quarts, grease, and line with Saran Wrap).

3. Prepare the ice cream base:

Beat 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Turn down the speed a bit and add a 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, then turn up the speed and continue to whip until stiff peaks have formed again.

4. Put it all together and freeze:

Stir the mincemeat mixture into the ice cream base. Add the (optional) liquor now. Pour into the lined bowl. Tap on counter to release any bubbles. Cover and freeze 5-6 hours or preferably overnight.

5. Unmold and serve:

Remove pudding from the freezer, let sit for 15 minutes, invert onto a plate and leave for a further 15 minutes. Remove the bowl and clingfilm. Decorate with faux holly and sugared cranberries. Slice or spoon to serve.

Store in freezer for up to six weeks.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Cookies

I found this recipe on the A Dash of Sanity Blog here. It immediately became a family favorite, so I want it here for easy access.

This chocolate cookie is chewy and quite delicious, with or without the pecan pie filling topping.

1. Prepare the filling:

2 Tbl. melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix all together in saucepan and cook over medium heat until just thickened to the consistency of pudding. Set aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 375 F and line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

3. Mix dough for cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten

2 - 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix butter, sugars, vanilla, and eggs well. Stir in the dry ingredients.

4. Bake

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, 12 per sheet. Bake at 375 F for 8 minutes, remove from oven and drop one tablespoonful of pecan filling on each. Return cookies to oven and bake for another 4 minutes.

Let cool on baking sheets. If freezing, to keep them from sticking together, place cookies in a single layer and freeze solid before placing in freezer bags.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Deviled Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Green Beans

This is a sheet pan supper recipe that was in a booklet sent to me by my health insurance provider. I can't find the exact recipe online so am putting it here for future reference. It was so good we licked the pan...

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (Note: I had boneless, skinless thighs and they worked just fine)
5 tsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
6 tbl. Dijon mustard (Note: I was out of Dijon and used spicy brown mustard)
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1 tsp. hot sauce
1-1/2 lbs. small new potatoes, halved
1 lb. green beans, trimmed

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Place potatoes and green beans in a single layer on an 18" x 12" rimmed baking sheet
Drizzle with 4 tsp. olive oil and sprinkle with half the salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the mustard, shallots, hot sauce, and the remaining 1 tsp. olive oil. Mix well.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the remaining salt and pepper. Spread the mustard mixture on both sides of each chicken piece, then nestle the chicken pieces among the vegetables.

Note: I also sliced up an apple (next time I would use two) and spread the slices on one end of the pan to cook along with the chicken and vegetables.

Roast until the chicken is cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 30-35 minutes; then broil for about 3-5 minutes until a deep golden brown. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serves 6.


Nutrition per serving in the original recipe, not counting the apple slices I added. There would be less fat if you used skinless thighs, as I did:

Calories: 244
Total fat: 8.2 g.
Saturated fat: 1.6g.
Cholesterol: 47 mg.
Sodium: 429 mg.
Carbs: 25 g.
Dietary fiber: 4g.
Sugars: 4g.
Protein: 17g.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Chicken and Fruit Salad

Use the amounts that make sense to you.

Cubed cooked chicken

Chopped apple
Canned pineapple, chopped (reserve juice)
Seedless grapes, cut in half

Grated carrot
Chopped celery

Chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
Golden raisins
Pumpkin seeds

Optional: Salt to taste, minced onion

Dressing: Mayonnaise thinned with the reserved pineapple juice and seasoned with curry powder.

Toss all together, cover and chill.