Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread Muffins--super healthy and delicious...

As many of your know I have been doing Weight Watchers on line for the past 5 months and have lost 46#. It is a great program and pretty easy to follow. My downfall has always been baked goods. And, the biggest problem is that I LOVE to bake.  So, I have been trying to balance my love for eating and baking with my love for not being fat and there is always quite a bit of tension between the two things.

I modified a muffin recipe I liked and then modified it some more and then again, and I have finally come up with a fantastic recipe that is super healthy and tasty. I eat one about 4-5 mornings a week along with a cup of tea and some Oikos Vanilla Greek Yogurt. If you know WW points, the muffins are 3 WW Points+ and so is the yogurt, so for 6 points I have a healthy and satisfying breakfast. But, you don't have to be watching your weight to love these muffins.  Here is the recipe, it makes a dozen nice sized muffins. I bake them in a Pampered Chef stone muffin pan without using cupcake papers. I tried other pans but they don't rise as high.

Gingerbread Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the following dry ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 C flour, I use 1 C whole wheat and 3/4 C regular unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Mix the following together, then add to the dry ingredients, stirring till combined, but it is OK if it is a bit lumpy:
  • 1 C canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 C applesauce, unsweetened [you could use oil instead, but I wanted a low fat muffin**]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C water 
  • 1/2 C sorghum [or honey]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Scoop into 12 muffin cups. I like to use a 1/2 C ice cream scoop and then just plop a scoop into each muffin cup. [3 WW plus points per muffin, 2 for 5 points if you use sorghum rather than honey]. Bake for about 20-25minutes till the middle of the muffin pops back when you touch with your finger.

You may want to add nuts, raw sunflower seeds, cinnamon chips or dried fruit to batter before baking. I like to top with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before baking, or what I did to the muffins in the photo above was add 1 tsp of streusel to each muffin.

Streusel topping: I make up a batch of this and keep it in the fridge in a zip-loc bag. It will last a long time and then it is easy to scoop some out to top muffins or coffee cakes. 1 tsp doesn't add any WW points, but when I use it, I count 2 muffins as 6 points.

 Mix together till crumbly: 
1/4 C butter [1/2 stick]
1/4 C  white sugar
2/3 C flour. 

Store in a bag or jar in the fridge and spoon it out as needed. 

Take care,

Note: For a more pumpkiny muffin which is not so gingerbready, omit the cloves and the ginger. 
**If you use a WW healthy oil in place of the applesauce, count the muffin as 4 WW+ points and each one has one healthy oil to help meet your daily healthy guidelines. If you have problems getting your healthy oils in daily, this may be a great way to do it. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hot Cocoa

I made hot cocoa last night and tried something new that worked well.I wanted to make a lot. So, for 2.5 gallons of hot cocoa I did the following:

Heat in a pan to boiling:

2 C water
2C dry cocoa powder
2C sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Once this boils you can put it into 2 clean pint jars. When ready to make the cocoa, put the contents of one of the jars in a pan and heat, then add 1 gallon of milk and heat until it reaches 180 degrees-the perfect drinking temp for cocoa.  You can make both jars of syrup into cocoa at the same time, or save a jar for later. Just put it in the fridge and it will keep for a long time. I put a bowl of mini-marshmallows along side of the thermal container the cocoa was in. [We use Cambro  beverage Camtainers and they are pricey, but fabulous and well worth the money if you have lots of get togethers. If you do put it in a thermal container like this, I suggest heating the cocoa to 183-185 degrees so it will stay hot for hours.]

We like it less sweet, but if you are serving to company or children you may want to add some extra sugar or a squirt or two of chocolate syrup.

I made 2.5 gallons last night and there wasn't a drop left at the end of the evening.

Take care,

Cinnamon Rolls

Once a year we have a cinnamon roll open house and last night was the night. So, here is a photo diary of the process. Sure wish you could smell them too.  Here are some of them. You may notice one in the middle is gone--I had a fresh hot one right from the center.

You can see my kneader and the two most important ingredients, flour and brown sugar.

 I use my kitchen aid for making the filling.

 My kneader is full to the brim of my basic roll dough. [Recipe at the end of this blog.] I use this dough for making dinner rolls, coffee cakes and cinnamon rolls. It is a good all around dough.
 The dough after a brief rest. I just uncovered it so I could begin making the rolls.
 I divide the dough into fourths so I can work with it.

 I grease pyrex baking pans with a mixture of 1 part liquid lecithin and 2 parts veggie oil.
 I put some oil on the counter and then roll the dough out long and thin.  I try not to make it wide because then the rolls are so big and some gets wasted.
I mix up the filling in my Kitchen Aid and divide into fourths, using 1 part for each piece of rolled out dough. I spread it with a thin spatula.
 I spread the filling thin, top with broken pecan pieces and roll up like a jelly roll.
 Here it is rolled up. Then I put it on my long cutting board in order to slice.
 I slice about 1 inch thick.
 I put them loosely in the greased Pyrex baking pan. When the pans are greased with the lecithin/oil solution they slide right out after baking.
 Here they are rising. I covered them up with flour sack towels as I went along, but took them off for the photo.
 In the oven.
 I make up the frosting while the first ones are baking.
 The first rolls are out of the oven. I put 15 to a pan, and eventually made 133 rolls out of this triple size batch. I tip the pan up and the rolls slide right out and after a few minutes I spread with a light frosting and they are ready to eat.

My kneader does a great job of kneading the dough, making this job much easier.

I have added the recipe below. I made a triple batch for the party.

Take Care,

BASIC ROLL DOUGH (For dinner rolls and coffee cakes)

7C flour                       1/2C sugar
2T yeast                       1/2C margarine
2 1/2 C milk                2t salt
2 eggs

In mixing bowl, combine 3C flour and the yeast.  Heat milk, sugar, shortening and salt just till warm (115°-120°).  Stir constantly till shortening almost melts.  Add to mixture; add eggs.  Beat at low speed of mixer 1/2 minute, scraping bowl.  Beat 3 minutes on high. By hand, stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Shape into a ball.

Place in lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface.  Cover; let rise in warm place till double, 1 1/2-2 hours.
 ** Punch down; turn out on floured surface.  Cover with bowl and let rest 10 minutes.  Shape.

For dinner rolls, make into small balls, and put on greased cookie sheets, cover and let rise till doubled. Then bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes, till brown.
The best ever!

Make Basic Roll Dough [above]
Grease* 2 large pans, I prefer pyrex glass pans, the 10x14 size, or you could use 3 smaller pans.

While dough is resting, mix together the following:
            2 sticks softened butter
            3T cinnamon
            2C brown sugar

After resting, roll out dough and spread dough with above mixture.You may want to top with broken or chopped pecan pieces.

Dough:  Roll up dough and cut into 1" to 1 1/2" slices and put in
prepared pans.  Let rise till doubled (30-45 min).

BAKE:  350°. for about 20 minutes.  When brown, take out of oven, let
sit about 5 minutes.
After baking, when rolls are warm but not hot,  top with a frosting

Frosting:  Combine about 1 1/2 C powdered sugar, 1-2 T milk and a dab of  butter..

You can make these the night before, and put in fridge to rise, then let warm at room temp 2-3 hours, then bake.

 This recipe makes about 24 large, or 40 medium rolls.  I usually use two 10 x 14 pans, or three 9 x 13 pans.

*  A great way to grease pans is to buy liquid lecithin at a health food store.  Mix 1 part lecithin and 2 parts oil and keep in a small mason jar.  Apply with a pastry brush to grease bread pans or cookie sheets.  Baked goods slide right out. This mix does not need to be refrigerated.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Family Time...

We have had some great Family Times lately, so I thought I would share some photos. 

This is Ellie and I a few weeks ago. She made herself a great pretend sandwich, complete with lettuce and tomato.
 Trying to get the perfect Christmas photo--orange juice Popsicle were a hit. The girls are waving to their Mommies.
I think Ellie froze her mouth on the Popsicle.

 These cousins are beginning to really like each other and it is cute to see their friendship forming.
 Allison looks like she is having a great time.
The whole family was together at Thanksgiving. We all live in the same general area, but it never seems like we all get together and are awake at the same time. Here is a quick photo in our living room.

 My sister and her family came to visit for Thanksgiving too. It was fun to have a big family gathering.  Their family is scattered from Michigan, to Knoxville, TN to New York City.

Kentucky make the perfect meet up. What  a fun time we had.

For me, the best times in my life are when family gets together. I LOVE it when all my kids are all together in the same place at the same time. And, when we added in my sister's family [less on daughter and son-in law], it was fantastic.

May your holidays be a wonderful time with family and friends.

Take care,

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Adam did, Christ un-does...

A friend of mine, Ryan, posted a great blog about Hannah Whitall Smith  the author of "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life" and "The God of all Comfort" in which he re-posted some of what was removed by editors because they didn't like Ms. Smith's conclusion.

I think it is awful that a woman who is well known in Christian circles has had her books stripped of her heartfelt beliefs. You can read one of the lost excerpts here:

One day I was riding on a tram-car along Market Street, Philadelphia, when I saw two men come in and seat themselves opposite to me. I saw them dimly through my veil, but congratulated myself that it was only dimly, as I was thus spared the wave of anguish that had so often swept over me at the full sight of a strange face.

The conductor came for his fare, and I was obliged to raise my veil in order to count it out. As I raised it, I got a sight of the faces of those two men, and with an overwhelming flood of anguish, I seemed to catch a fresh and clearer revelation of the misery that had been caused to human beings by sin. It was more than I could bear. I clenched my hands and cried out in my soul, “Oh God! How canst Thou bear it? Thou mightest have prevented it, but Thou didst not. Thou mightest even now change it, but Thou dost not. I do not see how Thou canst go on living and endure it.” I upbraided God. And I felt justified in doing so.

Then suddenly God seemed to answer me. An inward voice said, in tones of infinite love and tenderness, “He shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.” “Satisfied!” I cried in my heart. “Christ is to be satisfied! He will be able to look at the world’s misery and then at the travail through which He has passed because of it, and will be satisfied with the result! If I were Christ, nothing could satisfy me but that every human being should in the end be saved, and therefore I am sure that nothing less will satisfy Him!”

With this, a veil seemed to be withdrawn from before the plans of the universe, and I saw that it was true, as the Bible says, that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ should all be made alive.” As was the first, even so was the second. The “all” in one case could not in fairness mean less than the “all” in the other. I saw therefore that the remedy must necessarily be equal to the disease, the salvation must be as universal as the fall.
I saw all this that day on the tram-car on Market Street, Philadelphia — not only thought it, or hoped it, or even believed it, but knew it! It was a Divine fact. And from that moment I have never had one questing thought as to the final destiny of the human race. God is the Creator of every human being; therefore He is the Father of each one and they are all His children; and Christ died for every one, and is declared to be “the propitiation not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). However great the ignorance, therefore, or however grievous the sin, the promise of salvation is positive and without limitations.

It is true that “by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation,” it is equally true that, “by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” To limit the last “all men” is also to limit the first. The salvation is absolutely equal to the fall. There is to be a final “Restitution of all things, when, at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Every knee, every tongue — words could not be more all-embracing.
The how and the when I could not see; but the one essential fact was all I needed — somewhere, and somehow God was going to make everything right for all the creatures He had created. My heart was at rest about it forever.

I hurried home to get hold of my Bible to see if the magnificent fact I had discovered could possibly have been all this time in the Bible and I had not seen it, and the moment I entered the house, I did not wait to take off my bonnet, but rushed at once to the table where I always kept my Bible and Concordance ready for use, and began my search.
Immediately the whole Book seemed to be illuminated. On every page the truth concerning the “times of restitution of all things,” of which the Apostle Peter says “God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began,” shone forth and no room was left for questioning. I turned greedily from page to page of my Bible, fairly laughing aloud for joy at the blaze of light that illuminated it all. It became a new Book. Another skin seemed to have been peeled off every text, and my Bible fairly shone with new meaning. I do not say with a different meaning, for in no sense did the new meaning contradict the old, but a deeper meaning, the true meaning hidden behind the outward form of words. The words did not need to be changed; they only needed to be understood; and now at last I began to understand them.

If you would like more information about this idea of God eventually saving all because of what Christ has done, you may want to check out our ministry website

Thanks for the reminder, Ryan.

Take care,

Thursday, November 17, 2011


If you are looking for a great educational-game gift for your kids (Preschool through about 2nd grade) check out Mathtacular. For $39.99 this is a real deal. This has a DVD, tons of manipulatives and lots of great instructions so that Math will be fun for your kids. Also, you can get free shipping if you pick the Media Mail option.
If you do order. PLEASE put my name -"SL Consultant Jill E"- in the comment section. I am a Sonlight Consultant and that will make it clear that I tipped you off to this good deal. NOT just for homeschoolers. Seriously, this is a great deal and the kids in your life will love Mathtacular. 
This is packaged in a game--a great gift for under the tree this Christmas.
Also, if you are looking for great books to read aloud to your children may I recommend a couple to you? 
  • The Great and Terrible Quest--This is my favorite book of all time. If you would like to know why I love it so much you can go here.
  • Little Britches is another family favorite.  You can't go wrong reading this autobiography. Delightful for parents and adults. A couple of "cowboy swear words" which you can read right over if you are reading aloud.
If you would like other recommendations, let me know. I would love to recommend a book or two for you to read aloud to your family.  
Take care,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Applesauce Day at the Farm...

Last year we thought we would have Applesauce Day at the farm, but we were nowhere close to being ready. But this year, Bob and I were ready to host this annual event. The day started out with a red sky in the morning and a heavy frost. It was beautiful, but also very slippery. My good friend Linda slipped on our stairs at the beginning of the day and had to be taken to a walk in clinic where she was found to have a fractured arm bone, close to the ball joint. So, it was a sad way to start out and Linda was sad she missed all the fun. [As a note, she will not have to have surgery, but it will take a while to heal. After the first week, the pain was much less and I have since re-stained the steps and put sand on them to keep them from being slippery.}

I started getting things around at about 6:30 or so. My basement laundry room was turned into what became lovingly nick-named "The Boiler Room." Bob installed a 220 line so we could plug in my old stove, and with the counter top next to it, we were ready to start.

 I set a table up by the basement door. This would be a cutting station.

All in all we had 8 bushels of apples. I had 3 bushels from Michigan inside and had these bags from our local orchard waiting outside.

Boxes of clean jars were piled up in the basement hallway outside the boiler room.

 The Boiler Room also has a laundry tub, so it was easy to wash the apples. In former years we had a plastic tub in the bath tub and it required bending over, which I HATE! This worked great.

Nephew David on R and his friend were in charge of carrying in the bags of apples, mixing them with the Michigan Apples, washing them and then taking them out to the cutters. They did a great job.

My son Dusty ended up at a second cutting station. Don't let this picture fool you, he was working hard but he did not cut all those apples in the foreground by himself! Later in the day he cut his thumb pretty bad and that ended his cutting career for the day. Fortunately his wife is a nurse, so she was able to bandage it.
 Here is the other cutting table with nieces Evelyn and Kate [behind Evelyn] on the left side and daughter Kari on right with Evelyn and Kate's dad, Keith in the rear of this photo.
Friend Bethel was shift boss of the Boiler Room for about 1/2 the day. This was when she was just getting started so she looks pretty fresh.

Good friend Jenny manned the upstairs kitchen for about 1/2 the day. This is where the filled jars of sauce got canned. We had two canners going and that worked great.

Jenny and I have been doing applesauce day for many years--not sure how many, but probably around 8-10.

This table we set up outside the upstairs kitchen and we kept putting the canned applesauce there till it cooled and then moved it into boxes underneath. You can see the filled boxes below the table. This was not the end of the day, but somewhere in the middle.

All in all, a great day was had by all. We had chili and potato soup in crock pots for lunch, along with Jenny's homemade bread and my little herbed oyster crackers. Jenny also brought homemade cinnamon chip bread for breakfast and snack and the two loaves were inhaled and gone around lunch time.

During the afternoon-after all the apples were cut up-- Keith took all the kids down to the creek for a  hike. They enjoyed that quite a bit. For supper Bob made a campfire and he and the older kids roasted all variety of hotdogs that had been left in the freezer after our various picnics and pot lucks this summer. We were all ravenous and I think for next year I should have some chips to go with the hotdogs and perhaps a small crock pot of baked beans. Of course, there was applesauce and it was divine.

We were done around 6:00 with mostly everything cleaned up and washed down. All totaled we canned 82 quarts and 122 pints of all natural- no sugar or anything else-applesauce. We had 2 pints break in the canner [we think the jars got too cool] and ate a couple of gallons of sauce. We had 14 adults, 6 kids and 2 toddlers. We all decided that we liked the more spread out nature of the cottage for the work because though it is small it has three separate stations [boiler room, cutting room and upstairs kitchen]. We had the two accidents which were unfortunate, but other than that everyone had a great time and a huge feeling of accomplishment.

Take care,

Monday, August 29, 2011

499 DAYS...

The view from where our cottage now sits.

Staking out the footprint in Jan 2010.
After 499 days our cottage is finally done! We began the journey when we pulled the building permit between Christmas and New Year's 2009.
The project was originally projected to take 2-3 months--and here we are nearly 17 months later and we finally have the final building inspection done.

I was talking to my son Chad earlier tonight and I said it was almost like having a really long and difficult pregnancy and finally giving birth. He said, "Yeah, and changing doctors along the way."

Pouring basement walls,..
At any rate, we have a few things to finish up ourselves, but when you own a house there is always just one more project, but as far as the officials are concerned, we are good to go. And that makes me very happy.


So, for your viewing enjoyment, some photos of our 17 month journey.

basement floor and some plumbing in.
During this time our lives did not stand still. In no particular order...

Our first two grandchildren, Elinor and Allison were born, Bob and I were vendors at 5 state homeschool conventions, we had several picnics at the farm, one 4th of July picnic, the Packers won the Superbowl, Kari has served all but 2 weeks of her 1  year Americorps service, Dusty graduated from University of KY with an Accounting degree, Bob got a job promotion, we took untold trips, I made thousands of bars of soap and we had a great Applesauce Day in October, making and canning the most applesauce we ever have.
Framing under way.

For those of you who have followed our saga and have given us encouragement, Bob and I thank you. We are blessed to have this cottage that we will eventually retire to, but in the meantime we will spend as much time there as we are able to.

Take care,

Bob checking out the framing.

Plywood and house wrap going on.

Loft framed in.

Mist rising over the KY river one morning while I was waiting for some workmen to come.

Wall in living room--I love the octagon window.

Adding the Bay Window with window seat, roof on.

Bay window done, windows in.

Wrap around deck going on.

Working on deck--this was July 2010

Work on deck progresses.

Wood stove in place-hearth built. [This was too small, so it had to be re-done later and duct work had to be moved after the new hearth was built. Two steps forward, one step back. ------Upper photo: Kari caulking windows on Thanksgiving break.

Oak and Poplar staircase completed.

Kitchen tile.
Heat Pump.

Slate and oak hearth for wood stove.

Exterior completed.

Upstairs bath completed.

Jason and Noel installing stove pipe on one of the coldest days of the year.  They had to build scaffolding first.

Living room about done.----Top photo:  Bob putting up Shaker pegs while balancing precariously on the ledge by the steps.

My closet doors.

My adorable kitchen is complete.

Living room with a nice fire, see deck when you look out the windows.

Me painting Shaker pegs and peg rails.
Bedroom doors go out to the deck.

Bob and I custom build the pantry under the steps.

Bob and I build in bookshelves in the basement.

Another pantry shot.

Me trying out the window seat.

Final grading done, Bob putting gutters underground.

The hardest working man I know.After nearly 36 years of marriage, I know more than ever that Bob is my best friend and soul mate. We have the same hopes and dreams. I love this shot--strong and romantic-- all at the same time.