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Not everyone cooks for a family of four. Or five. When it’s just you on a cozy Saturday morning and you crave the nostalgic waft of cinnamon drifting from the kitchen, a small batch of monkey bread with warm caramel seeping down the sides will appease.

Monkey bread when flying solo

One tube of biscuit dough and a few sweet ingredients and you can’t even take a shower in the time it takes to bake them.

monkey bread cinnamon sugar

Bake in mini pie tins, 4″ springform pans, mini loaf pans, one loaf pan, cookie sheet, mini muffin tin, or any other small oven-proof pan.

mini monkey bread before baking

I used mini pie tins – three of them – and I’m glad I baked them on a cookie sheet because the caramel oozed over the top. Next time I’ll still only make three, but I’ll drizzle some of the caramel in between layers instead of dumping it all on top. You might like it better in four.

half gone monkey bread

I confess, two of us ate this batch. Now go take your shower.

Sweet Saturday wishes,
Staci

Flying Solo Monkey Bread 

Serves 1 or 2 people depending on how much you want to share

5 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 (7.5 ounce) package refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough

  1. Grease 3 mini pie tins or whatever smaller pan you choose to use.
  2. Melt butter and brown sugar together. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. Stir together white sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Cut each piece of biscuit dough into four chunks and drop into the cinnamon and sugar. Lightly toss around until each is completely coated.
  5. Toss dough into pans, using equal amounts in each pan if using more than one. Pour some of the melted butter mixture over the biscuits before all of it is in the pan.
  6. Once all the biscuits are in the pan(s), drizzle the remaining caramel over the biscuits. Place pan(s) on cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 350° until top of biscuits are slightly crispy. For mini pie tins, that’s approximately 12-14 minutes. Do not over bake. For one loaf pan, it may take approximately 20-22 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and turn pan(s) upside down onto plate, remove pan, scrape the excess caramel onto the monkey bread.

Maybe I should carry a flashy No Raisins picket sign when I go to the farmers market. Who thinks to ask, “What’s in your monster cookie?” It’s not a trick question. (farmers market monster cookie below)

farmers market cookie

Wouldn’t you expect peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and most definitely M&Ms? That’s how I make my monster cookies. (pictured below)

Monster cookies

I mean, who puts raisins in monster cookies? And were they hiding them from me? Remember, raisins ruin everything. History has already taught me to beware of bran muffins and those fancy, swirly loaves of cinnamon bread.

bran muffins | Random Sweetness Baking

Maybe the bigger question is, why didn’t I notice that the tower of cookies in the jar labeled “monster cookies” weren’t flecked with M&Ms? That should’ve tipped me off that something sneaky was going on.

Keep your eyes open out there cookie lovers.

Sweet summer wishes,
Staci

Some recipes are perfect just the way they are. And then doubled.

malted milk ball cookies

Malted Madness Cookies from Betty Crocker. 

Have a sweet day!
Staci

I lured you in with patriotic jars of jiggly sugar. There aren’t really one thousand seven hundred seventy-six of them. As we are celebrating in the United States, 238 years ago today 56 men penned their signature on a document composed of the most eloquent and liberating words in our history – the Declaration of Independence.

patriotic JELLO jars

I haven’t read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety in years. Probably since middle school. I read it, twice, today. Maybe if you have a few minutes, you will want to read it too.

Happy Independence Day to my United States friends! May God, our Creator, continue to bless and guide our nation.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

View Declaration of Independence on http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html.

Make the JELLO jars using Jars of Rainbows instructions, using 12 (4-ounce) jars. Use two small packages of blue JELL-O® and one small package of red JELL-O®.

Jars of RainbowsMaybe cream cheese cookies are more your thing.

cream cheese sugar cookies

 

Other than South Dakota Magazine, the only magazines you’ll find falling off my office shelves, shoved into my purse, and untidily stacked on my coffee table, nightstand, desk, kitchen table, and office floor are food magazines. The competition for top-of-pile is harsh but with its sixth issue hot like bacon off the press, Wholesome, South Dakota’s premier food magazine, has quickly taken up prime real estate in my home.

Wholesome May June 2014

The July/August edition hit the stands of our favorite local spots this week and it’s jam packed with recipes using blueberries and ingredients from our bountiful garden harvest and farmers markets. If you can’t get your hands on a copy, you can flip through it here and past issues online or you can subscribe to the magazine and have it mailed to your home.

The May/June edition of Wholesome (pictured above) gets you all set for summer gardening, with a few delightful recipes for your strawberry harvest. I have a particular fondness for the Italian Tuxedo Trifle on page 55. It’s a family favorite.

Get more good stuff from Wholesome on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Sweet summer wishes!
Staci 

 

There’s no name swapping when it comes to matters of the loose meat sandwich. Call them what you will – BBQs, sloppy Joes, taverns, loose meat sandwiches –loyalty to one over the rest is likely a reflection of your childhood days spent at church basement potlucks, drive-in cafés, and birthday parties where the main dish was served from a slow cooker. But it really comes down to the region where you grew up.

To add to the controversial list of loose meat sandwiches, I used tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and beer to create a tangy, hearty meat sauce meant for a bun. So is born, and will forever be known from my tiny southwest corner of Minnesota – the BeerBQ Joe.

BeerBQ Joe Taverns - BBQs with beer

Here’s my (Eastern South Dakota roots) take on the meaty sandwiches:

BBQs – this is what we grew up with my mom making. We still say, “I’ll make the BBQs,” for a party. Mysteriously, there isn’t any BBQ sauce in the recipe. Just tomato sauce or soup and ketchup. Catsup? That’s another story.

Sloppy Joes – I’m still afraid this might imply Manwiches, which remind me of “those” kids whose moms made these for birthday parties and it almost always meant there were green flecks in my meat. And the funny dads stuck Cheetos in their ears.

Taverns – I had never heard of taverns until about four years ago when someone at work mentioned them. She grew up in Beresford, S.D. That’s only 89 miles south on I-29 from where I grew up. But…it’s only 46 miles from Yankton, S.D. which according to South Dakota Magazine’s Laura Johnson, proper taverns ought not include anything from a tomato. You must read her article, “The Humble Tavern” and all the comments that follow to get to the heart of people’s steadfast beliefs about taverns. A recipe and story about taverns on Food.com seem to corroborate a comment made by Julie Simpson in Laura’s tavern story - Ye Olde Tavern in Sioux City, Iowa just might be the birth place of taverns in the early 50s.

Loose meats – I just figured these were sandwiches with cooked ground beef and onions and seasonings. Or just deli meat sandwiches. I didn’t really know.

BeerBQ Joes

Make 12 servings (recipe can easily be halved or doubled) 

2 lbs (85-90% lean) ground beef

1/2 cup diced onion

1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)

1 cup (8 ounces) BBQ sauce (use a spicy sauce for more heat)

1 cup (8-ounce can) tomato sauce

2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces dark beer (I use Shiner Bock, just like in my Once a Month Beer Chili Spaghetti)

Buns or garlic toast, cheese slices, dill pickles

In a medium pan, brown ground beef with onions and garlic until the meat is cooked through, breaking meat into pieces. Drain the grease. Add the next 7 ingredients (BBQ sauce through the pepper), stirring to combine. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Pour in beer. Stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Serve on buns, sandwich bread, pretzel rolls, toasted garlic bread, pita bread, etc. Top with cheese and pickles.

Cover leftover BeerBQ tightly and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.

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What’s perfect for dessert? Peanut Butter Pie.

peanut butter pie for mikey

Where do your loyalties lie? BBQs? Taverns? Sloppy Joes? Loose meats? BeerBQ Joes?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

 

When Sarah Jo from DakotaChic asked me to write a guest post in celebration of National Dairy Month, I knew I would create a recipe for something that mirrors her charm and personality – delightful, classy, sweet, and show stoppingly gorgeous – turtle cheesecakes in pretty little jars.

Cheers to dairy farmers and their families!

turtle cheesecake jars

Go check out Sarah Jo’s Midwest awesomeness on DakotaChic. Don’t miss a thing – subscribe to her blog while you’re there and check out her fun Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram posts.

I’ll leave the fridge light on for ya.

Sweet wishes, 
Staci
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