Homemade Vanilla Extract

contributed by Melonie Reynolds, from Paula Deen

3 Madagascar Vanilla Beans (or Mexican Vanilla Beans)
3/4 cup Quality Vodka (I use Belvedere)
Glass jar w/ tight fitting lid (I use my empty EVOO containers *pretty/pours easier)

1.) Split leaving ends attached and scrape vanilla beans. Place scraped beans and seeds in glass jar.
2.) Warm vodka (I use a sauce pan)
3.) Pour Vodka over beans
4.) Cool completely
5.) Screw cap on tightly, and shake bottle vigorously.
6.) Place bottle in a cool, dark place. Shake bottle vigorously once a week for at least 2-3 months. Store for up to 1 year (the vanilla will darken as it ages).

Note:  When you start to get low, just add another vanilla bean and some more vodka to your batch.  I have been using this for recipe for 3 years. Its worth the effort to get started!  I have already made 3 spare bottles for Christmas gifts.


Honey Chicken Stir Fry

contributed by Christine Day
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced or you can use about 2 tsp garlic powder if you don’t have fresh
3 tablespoons honey
… 2 tablespoons soy sauce (prefer reduced-sodium variety but full strength is fine)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I never use the salt…the soy sauce provides plenty of that)
1 (16 oz) package stir-fry type veggies. I use the steamer bags of whatever I am in the mood for.
Hot cooked rice (I prefer brown because its healthier but you can use whatever you want).

Spray a large skillet or wok with non-stick spray.
Cook the chicken for a few minutes turning the pieces over on all sides.
Add the garlic, honey, soy sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Stir well to make sure the honey and soy coat all the chicken.
Cook on med-high until the chicken is lightly brown and the juices run clear, stirring frequently (the honey can burn otherwise).
Cover and simmer on low/warm for about 5 more minutes.

In the meantime, nuke the steamer veggies in the microwave.

When everything is done mix the veggies and chicken together and serve over the hot rice.

Grandma’s Beef Rice

contributed by Michelle Weickum Anderson
1 stick (¼ lb) butter
½ to 1 whole onion chopped
2 small cans mushrooms
2C long grain rice
1lb stew meat cut small
4C  reserved mushroom juice & beef broth

Melt butter in large saucepan to medium heat & add beef, brown for a few minutes then add rice, onion, & mushrooms.  Cook until rice is opaque & add broth mix, bring to boil stirring occasionally turn to simmer, cover & cook until rice is done,  stirring occasionally

Michelle is typing …

Homemade Taco Seasoning

contributed by Laurel Turner

2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t red pepper flakes (Aleppo peppers would add a wonderful depth of flavor)
1/2 t oregano
1 t paprika
1/2 t salt
1 t pepper
Adjust the amounts to your liking…

Potato Soup

contributed by Michelle Harvie


4 cups water

4 potatoes

4 chicken boullion cubes

2 TBSP butter

1 can evap milk (added right before serving).

Cook in slow cooker 4 hrs. on high.  (I have cooked this on the stove top when time wasn’t on my side.  It takes about 1/2 cup more water and will be more thick)     Some options I have tried and love is:   add a TBSP dried onions for more flavor and/or adding diced ham at the beginning, adding Campbell’s Cheddar soup with evap milk, or top with cheddar cheese and bacon

Amish Bake Oatmeal

contributed by Shawna Hawkins
1/3 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups milk
3 cups oatmeal

Melt Butter and combine all other ingredients and pour into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Bake at 350 for 20 – 30 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Serve warm with milk.

I have used applesauce in place of all or part of the butter with great results.

Caramel Apple Cookies

contributed by Christine Day
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening, butter flavor works best!
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
… 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups old-fashioned (not quick) oats
1 cup chopped dried apples
1 1/2 cup caramel bits

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream your butter, shortening, and both sugars together.  Add your eggs and vanilla and mix well.  In another bowl, mix together your flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture to your butter mixture, mixing well.  Stir in your oats, apple pieces and caramel bits.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes on parchment paper before removing cookies to a cooling rack

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