All my life I have loved cooking and baking; what I don’t like are flops or blah recipes.  I realized long ago that premium ingredients gave me better results, and that using whole grains gave me healthier results.  In January I will be offering a whole grains,  REAL-FOOD approach to a healthier diet, sharing some delicious and easy recipes and methods for healthier cooking and baking.

The class will be held at Little Red Hen in Dassel, Minnesota, and class participants are welcome to browse the shop for after-Christmas deals.

Class info:


Really Good Real Food

Scrumptious, easy-peasy recipes that will introduce more healthy whole grains, nuts, and seeds into your diet.  Cheryl will demonstrate some delicious recipes while explaining the health benefits of using wholesome and premium ingredients.  From what you learn here, you will be able to go home and modify any of your own favorite recipes into a healthier version.  Ever wonder what the difference is between pure cane sugar, raw cane sugar, and beet sugar?  Or canola oil, olive oil, or coconut oil?  Come and find out.

Come prepared for a delicious sampling of:

Almond Fruited Chicken Salad made with whole grain pasta
Fresh whole grain Quick Mix Bread Sticks
Fruit Smoothies
Hearty Oats & Honey Granola
Bogus Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip cookies

Each participant will receive recipes, helpful handouts, and granola to take home.

January 10th, Monday        6:30 – 8:30 p.m.        Cost – $16.00

Register for this class at Little Red Hen during the December sale (December 9 – 11), or call Cheryl Niemela at 320-286-5384.

Email me with questions –


8 cups blended tomatoes
1 large red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup minced onion
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons real butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup flour

Combine tomato, pepper, onion, celery and salt in large pot.  Bring to boil and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisply tender – about 30 minutes.  In a 5 cup blender container, blend 2 cups of mixture at a time (no more), until smooth; return to pan.  Combine water and flour, slowly add to soup.  Add sugar and butter, cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, boil 1 minute.  Milk or cream may be added right before serving, if desired.

For canning:  once soup is completely done and simmering, fill clean jars with hot soup and attach clean lids.  Process in boiling water bath:  35 minutes for quarts, 30 minutes for pints.  Time is counted when water is at a full boiling roll.  Do not add milk before canning.

Makes 8-9 cups of soup

Blubarb Jam Recipe

May 13, 2010

4 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
¾ cup water
¼ cup dry pectin or one package SureJell
1 Tablespoons Lemon juice
6 – 7 cups sugar

Cook rhubarb, blueberries, and water on medium low heat until cooked and soft, about 15 minutes.  Add pectin and lemon juice, bring to a boil on medium high heat.  Add sugar, then return to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, skim off any foam, and pour into hot sterilized jars.  Follow with a boiling water bath time of 10 minutes.  Makes 9-10 cups.

Spice Cured Chicken

March 27, 2010

Spice Cured Chicken

1 six to eight pound chicken

2 cups coarse salt
2 ½ cups sugar
1 carrot, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons minced garlic, or 5 whole cloves cut in half
1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 ½  teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice
4 cups water

Spice Butter:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1.  In a large stockpot, combine all brine ingredients and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and cool completely before chicken is soaked in it, it can be made a day ahead.

2.   Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Place in stockpot, breast side down.  Add brine and extra water if needed, enough to completely cover.  Cover the stockpot and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.  Remove chicken from brine and drain, discard brine.

3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rub chicken generously with spice butter, and place, breast side down, in a roasting pan.

Spice Butter

4.  Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes.  Rotate chicken to breast side up position, and baste with spice butter, and reduce oven to 325 degrees.  Continue basting every 30 minutes with remaining spice butter until chicken is done, about 2 hours or more.

5.  Once chicken is well browned, cover with foil to prevent overbrowning.  Allow to stand 20 minutes before carving.

This recipe can also be made with an 18 – 20 pound turkey by doubling all the ingredients.  Increase initial roasting time to 30 minutes at 425 degrees, then about 4 hours more at 325 or 350 degrees, or until completely done.

I got this recipe from a friend, I have no idea where the recipe originally came from.  I have made this using our homegrown free range chickens, and every bit of it disappeared in one sitting.  Quite time-consuming, but well worth the effort!

Chocolate Seven Layer Bars

February 18, 2010

1 – Ghirardelli Brownie Mix
½ cup butter
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½  cup walnut or pecan pieces
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Melt butter in bottom of 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle entire box of dry brownie mix over butter and spread evenly.  Layer coconut over crust, then layer chips and nuts.  Drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly over all.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes, just until edges are beginning to bubble.

This recipe was on the back of a Ghirardelli Brownie mix.  Oh my, talk about yum!  I love Seven Layer Bars made with graham cracker crumb crust; but these are even yummier.

Homemade Nut Goodie Bars

January 7, 2010

Nut Goodie Bars

12 oz pkg. semi sweet chocolate chips
12 oz pkg. butterscotch chips
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups salted peanuts (without skins)
2 lb. powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp. maple flavoring
1 cup butter
½ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup dry vanilla pudding (regular cook, not instant)

Melt chips and peanut butter in double boiler or microwave until melted and smooth.  Pour ½ of melted mixture in a jelly roll size pan that has been lined with foil, then greased.  Refrigerate until firm.  Add peanuts to remaining melted mixture and set aside.  In saucepan melt butter, evaporated milk, and dry pudding mix; cook for 1 minute or until it barely starts to thicken.  Pour over powdered sugar in large bowl, and add maple flavoring.  Beat until smooth with hand mixer, mixture will be quite thick.  Spread quickly over chilled chocolate layer, then top with remaining chocolate and peanut mixture (reheat if necessary to melt).  Refrigerate a few hours until set.  Remove foil and bars from pan for easy cutting.   Keep refrigerated or frozen until needed.

These are as wonderful if not better than Pearson’s Nut Goodie Bars.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

November 25, 2009

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbls. plus 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
3 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup apple sauce
½ cup orange juice
1 or 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Combine flour, pie spice, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In mixing bowl blend sugar, eggs, oil, apple sauce, orange juice, and pumpkin; mix well.  Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stir just until moistened.  Fold in cranberries.  Spoon batter into two 9 x 5 greased and floured loaf pans.  Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until done.  Remove from pans to cool.

Note:  this recipe originally called for 1 cup of chopped cranberries, but I like to use  two cups.  Also, walnuts would be a good addition to this recipe.