Family Recipe

Quick and Easy Lemon Jell-O® Sourdough Cake

When life gives you lemons, make this moist, tangy cake.

Lemon Jell-O Sourdough Cake
Lemon Jell-O® Sourdough Cake. Photo by author.

When I was a little girl, I loved lemons. I’d eat them by themselves, in hot tea, in iced tea, and in pie. I couldn’t wait until summertime to wow the neighbor kids with my ability to not make a sour face when I sucked on a fat wedge.

Every summer, I went to my grandmother’s house. She made a delicious lemon cake that was topped with a super sour lemon glaze. I always asked for the edge pieces because they were the lemony-est.

Now, when I eat her lemon Jell-O® cake, I’m transported to the Fourth-of-July in her back yard. My uncle, cousin and I would hold a sparkler in one hand and a piece of cake in the other. Firecrackers banged and popped all over the neighborhood and tangy lemon exploded in our mouths.

When I was 34, my mother passed away, and I realized that I didn’t have her mother’s cake recipe. Luckily, before my dad passed in 2020, he handed me a box of recipes that my mother collected over the years. The lemon Jell-O® cake was in it. It felt like Christmas came in January all over again.

Since the pandemic, I have become obsessed with making sourdough and adapting recipes to use up the discard instead of wasting it. With a few tweaks to my grandmother’s recipe, this beloved family favorite is even better.

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can begin one here.

Lemon Jell-O® Sourdough Cake Ingredients

1 boxed super moist lemon cake mix
1 3-oz. box of lemon Jell-O® gelatin
Lemon zest, finely grated (from 3 large lemons, reserve 1 tsp. for glaze)
¾ c. Oil (any neutral flavor such as Canola, corn, or all-vegetable oil)
3 eggs (beaten)
1 c. (225 g.) sourdough starter discard
½ c. (4 oz.) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons)
1 tsp. butter flavoring (optional)
1 tsp. lemon extract

Print this recipe.

Instructions for the Lemon Jell-O® Sourdough Cake

Preheat your oven to 325℉. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position in your oven. Spray a 9-inch x 13-inch cake pan with oil, or grease it with shortening and dust it with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, Jell-O® and lemon zest. In a large measuring cup, beat together the eggs and oil until well combined. Stir in the lemon juice, butter flavoring and lemon extract. Finally, mix in the sourdough discard until fully incorporated.

Fold the wet mixture into your dry ingredients and mix until no dry pockets remain. If you prefer, you can put your dry ingredients into your stand mixer bowl and add the wet ingredients gradually while mixing. You may also use a hand mixer, but I find a whisk works just as well.

Pour your batter into your 9 x 13-inch prepared cake pan and smooth it out evenly. Place the pan on the middle rack of your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180-degrees to promote even browning. Continue to bake 20 more minutes.

A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean, with no raw dough clinging to it. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire cooling rack.

Make the lemon glaze while the cake bakes.


1 c. (120 g.) powdered sugar
½ c. lemon juice
½ tsp. lemon zest


While the cake is baking, combine all the ingredients in a measuring cup and whisk thoroughly. The glaze will be thin and pour easily over the cake. While the cake is still piping hot, poke random holes all over the cake with a toothpick or meat fork. Drizzle the glaze over the entire surface of the cake before it cools.

To store left-overs, if there are any, tightly cover the pan with plastic wrap. There is no need to refrigerate it. If, however, you make it for yourself and no one else, cut the cake into serving-sized pieces and place them into a freezer bag. This cake freezes well and will be good for at least a month.

Why this Lemon Jell-O® Sourdough Cake Recipe works.

The sourdough discard enhances the tangy flavor of the lemons and adds a moist, springy texture to the batter. The glaze soaks into the crust of the cake, making the edges extra sour. Also, using the lemon cake mix makes this a super easy recipe.

Lemon zest is the finely grated yellow part of the lemon rind. It has concentrated lemon flavor that easily permeates entire dishes, even in small amounts. The use of lemon zest in this recipe boosts its sourness. And you use a bunch of it.

You want to grate only the yellow portion of the skin without the white part of the rind underneath it. The white part is bitter and will give the cake a chemical taste. Using a microplane grater like this one or this one makes the job easy. (Not affiliate links.)

A new legacy recipe for future generations.

This cake turned out so moistly delicious I began to imagine other versions. I would love to try making an Orange Dream Cake using orange Jell-O®, orange juice, orange zest, and orange extract.

I think it would be possible to use any fruit flavored Jell-O® and freshly squeezed juice. You’re only limited by your imagination.

My sourdough version of Grandmother’s legacy recipe is sure to become your family favorite, too. And you won’t waste sourdough discard either.

Bon Appetit!

If you liked this recipe, try my Sourdough Chocolate-Chip Cookies.

Don’t forget to claim your printable copy of this recipe.

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft.

Family Recipe

Easy Sourdough Chocolate-Chip Cookies and Happy Kids

A recipe for making joy filled memories.

My friend bakes with her granddaughters. Photo by Charlie Stroud. Used with permission.
My friend bakes with her granddaughters. Photo by Charlie Stroud. Used with permission.

When I was a kid, my mother handed me her giant cookbook ‘bible’ opened to a page where she had written down a “Thumbprint Cookie” recipe. I made this recipe many times because I enjoyed my success in measuring, mixing, and baking these cookies.

As a teen, I picked up the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe and easily made it, since I already knew how to read a recipe. The best kitchen memories I have is when I worked side-by-side with my grandma making cakes, pies, cookies and breads.

This easy sourdough chocolate chip cookie recipe uses up sourdough discard you might otherwise waste. If you make it with your children or grandchildren, they will learn important cooking skills while you make wonderful memories together.

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can begin one here.

Why this recipe works.

To make this recipe, you will need to use completely depleted sourdough discard. This means you do not want any activity or bubbling occurring, so take out the portion of the starter you need before you give it a regular feeding. Let it sit on the counter until all bubbling has stopped.

Because the discard is depleted, it will not cause lift in the cookies. Active yeast creates air pockets within dough, or lift. Depleted yeast does not, so your cookies will spread out and become crisp instead.

Sourdough discard is made up of water and flour, so you must use less flour than in a non-sourdough recipe. A lower baking temperature allows the moisture to dry out of the cookies without burning them. It creates a fluffy inside and crispy outside. The best part is the added flavor you get from the discard.

The extra moisture from the discard makes the batter less stiff, and easier to mix for small arms. You can let small children flatten the dough into disks to bake or roll it into a log for older children to carefully cut into slices with a knife.

Kids love making cookies, and they will love making these. If you have more than one child, assign each one a part of the mixing to complete. Then work together to cut, shape, and bake. There’s nothing better than eating a hot, chewy, chocolate chip cookie, fresh from the oven.

Ingredients for sourdough chocolate chip cookies

  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick or 122 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 Tbsp (½ C or 96 g.) of all-purpose shortening like Crisco
  • ½ cup (100 g.) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (133 g.) packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 g.) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup (225 g.) sourdough discard
  • 1 ½ cup (336 g.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (112 g.) chopped pecans (optional)
  • 2 cups (284 g.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 g.) Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp (2 g.) baking soda
  • ¾ tsp (3 g.) baking powder

If you prefer, you can use all butter, or all shortening when making these cookies. In addition, if you want macadamia nuts, walnuts, peanuts, or any other kind you like, you can substitute them or use none at all.

Get a printable copy of this recipe here.

Mixing your sourdough chocolate chip cookies.

Step 1

Cream together the softened butter and shortening in a bowl. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Whisk vigorously for one minute and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the whisking and resting four times in total. This dissolves the sugar completely, allowing you to use less.

Step 2

In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat the eggs slightly with a fork before adding the vanilla and sourdough discard. Mix thoroughly. Add this mixture to your butter and sugar mixture, stirring gently until smooth. Add in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Step 3

In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk together to combine. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold together until it forms a ball. Be careful not to overmix, as this will make the cookies tough.

Step 4

Roll the dough into logs that are a about 1½-inch to 2-inches in diameter. If necessary, divide into two or more lengths. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. This allows the dough to become firm and easier to handle.

Note: If you have very small children who should not use a knife, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. You will scoop out balls of dough that they can flatten into appropriately sized disks for baking.

Baking your sourdough chocolate chip cookies.

Position two of your oven racks in the two most center positions of your oven. Preheat your oven to 325℉. This temperature is slightly lower than most cookie recipes, but allows you to cook them longer.

While your oven is preheating, line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Remove your chilled dough from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.

If you made your dough into logs, slice ½-inch slices and lay them 1-inch apart on the parchment lined cookie sheet. If you didn’t form logs, scoop out 2-inch balls of dough and flatten them into ½-inch disks that are about 2-inches in diameter.

You can bake two cookie sheets at a time. When your oven is preheated, place one cookie sheet on your upper middle rack and the other on the lower one. How long they bake depends on your preferred results. For a slightly chewier cookie, bake for 6–8 minutes. A crisper, cake-like cookie bakes 8–10 minutes.

To promote even browning, halfway through your bake (usually 4 to 5 minutes) switch the position of each baking sheet. Move the top sheet to the bottom rack and the bottom sheet to the top one. Also, rotate each cookie sheet 180 degrees so that the front of each sheet is at the back of the oven.

The cookie may appear undercooked, even at the maximum time. If you cook them until they appear done, they will be overbaked. However, the cookies will continue to ‘cook’ for a few minutes while they cool.

If you find that your oven does not cook them to your desired brownness at this temperature, increase it to 350℉ and pay close attention to their doneness levels. Slide the parchment paper from the cookie sheet onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely before storing the cookies.

Variations on my sourdough chocolate chip cookies.

Peppermint Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few years ago, my husband found a recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies that added mint extract to the dough. Before baking them you sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top. When I couldn’t find mint extract anywhere, I resorted to putting crushed candy canes in the dough.

I did the same thing to my sourdough chocolate chip cookies. A box of 12 candy canes gave me six to crush for the dough. Then I crushed the other six and put the bits into a small bowl. As I sliced each cookie, I pressed one side into the crushed candy and placed that side up on the cookie sheet, then baked as usual.

Sourdough Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Instead of using shortening in the dough, try using 8 tablespoons (½ cup) of smooth peanut butter. Then substitute chopped peanuts for the nuts. You can put half into the dough and dip each disk of dough into a bowl of chopped peanuts before baking it.

Sourdough Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Cookies

Instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips, substitute 1 ½ cups of butterscotch morsels and 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts for the pecans.

Sourdough Fudge Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whisk 2 tablespoons of baker’s chocolate powder (unsweetened) to the flour mixture. Substitute an equal amount of mint chocolate chips for the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Go make memories!

No matter how you make these, your family will love them and you will make wonderful memories with all the children in your life. The warm memories last a lifetime.

Bon Appetit!

If you loved this recipe, try making my sourdough coconut oatmeal cookies.

Click here to get a printable copy of this recipe.

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft.


Unique Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies Using Sourdough Discard

So much better than store-bought.

I hated store-bought oatmeal cookies when I was young. They were so dry I feared breaking a tooth. They were also flavorless or overpowered by sweetness and spice. Fortunately for me, my mom had the best recipe ever, shared with her by a long-time family friend.

It makes cookies that aren’t overly sweet and allows the oats to be the star. They are crispy, but not hard. They are lightly spiced with the flavor of the brown sugar, and nothing else. They are heaven, even if you don’t like coconut.

When COVID-19 locked us into our homes, I created a sourdough starter. As the discard built, I began hunting for ways to use it so that I didn’t throw it away.

On one of my Zoom calls, my writing mentor, Shaunta Grimes, suggested I write a recipe for making cookies with it. It had never occurred to me, so I began my hunt. It wasn’t long before I found many cookie recipes that used sourdough discard.

I began experimenting. Since I’m not a chef, and don’t fully understand the chemistry of baking, my recipes are usually trial and error. I wondered, could I make my mom’s Coconut-Oatmeal cookies using sourdough?

After comparing several other cookie recipes I gave it a go. The cookies turned out delicious, but there were some differences in baking method, textural outcome, and shelf life. Another difference is that it needs the addition of cinnamon to enhance the flavor. Here is what worked well and we enjoyed.

Coconut-Oatmeal Cookie Ingredients

½ C. (112 grams) unsalted butter, softened
½ C. (96 grams) vegetable shortening
⅔ C. (128 grams) brown sugar
½ C. (96 grams) granulated sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ C. (125 grams) sourdough discard
1 t. Vanilla extract
1 C. (142 grams) All-purpose flour
1 t. (3 grams) baking soda
1 t. (6 grams) Kosher salt
1 t. (8 grams) ground cinnamon
1 C. (120 grams) unsweetened flaked coconut*
1 C. (112 grams) rough chopped pecans
4 C. (320 grams) old-fashioned oats

*If you can only get sweetened coconut, reduce the amount of brown sugar from ⅔ C. to ½ C. and increase the ground cinnamon to 1 ½ teaspoons.

Mixing Your Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies

Start with the wet ingredients. Mix softened butter and vegetable shortening in 4-cup bowl until smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended. 

Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes, then whisk for one minute. You want to allow time for the sugar granules to dissolve completely before combining with everything else. Doing this allows you to use less sugar. Repeat this step for a total of four times.

In a small bowl, slightly beat two eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in the sourdough discard until thoroughly combines. Mix into the sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold in the wet mixture. Mix until mostly combined. Stir in the coconut and pecans. Finally, add the oats one cup at a time until combined. Don’t overmix the dough, as you don’t want to activate the glutens in the flour.

Roll the dough into a log that is about 1 ½-inch to 2-inch in diameter. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes before baking.

Baking Your Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat your oven to 325℉. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice into ¼-inch to ½-inch thick slices. Place the slices 1-inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. These cookies will spread as they bake, but spread less the longer you mix the dough.

Bake for 11–15 minutes, until they are lightly golden brown around the edges and the centers are soft. Slide the parchment paper from the cookie sheet onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before putting into a container for storage. They will be lightly browned with a soft center and crunchy coating.

In my non-sourdough recipe, there is no need to refrigerate before baking. I scoop 1-inch balls of dough from the bowl and place them 2-inches apart onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. As they bake, they spread out and get crispy. The whole surface turns golden brown and crispy.

Storing Your Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies

Cookies made using the non-sourdough recipe can be stored in an airtight container for at least a week. They rarely last that long, however. Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze half for later.

Cookies made using sourdough turn out softer and puffier than the non-sourdough version. We found that they were best if eaten within 3–4 days of making them. They freeze beautifully, though, and you can take them straight from the freezer and eat them without thawing. We prefer doing this.

They remained fresh in the freezer for the several weeks that they lasted.

Delightful Variations

You can add your favorite fillings. If you like raisins, add a cup when you add the coconut and nuts. I sometimes add a cup of mini-chocolate chips or white chocolate morsels. My family’s favorite addition is a cup of butterscotch morsels. Try adding chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts instead of pecan’s.

For Halloween, add a cup of candy corn to the mix. For Thanksgiving, add dried cranberries or diced apples. At Christmas, add a cup of mint chips or ½ cup of crushed candy canes. In the spring, add a cup of fresh or dried blueberries. In the summer, add a tablespoon of orange zest.

They will become a favorite

These are the only type of oatmeal cookies I will eat. Once you try them, the store-bought ones will never again measure up. Even if you don’t like coconut in other dishes (that would be me) you will enjoy the toastiness of it in these cookies. It adds texture and crunch without too much sweet.

Bon Appetit!

Print the original and sourdough version of this recipe for your file.

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft.

Read more of Pat’s posts here.


Best Easy Meatloaf Ever

A versatile meatloaf you’ll love.

My meatloaf recipe – Photo by author.

When I was growing up, my mother made meatloaf at least once a week. Since that was one of her seven standard menu choices, I soon grew tired of it. She made it the same way every time, and it was boring. Consequently, I almost never made meatloaf for my family.

Until I discovered you could switch it up and keep it interesting. Here is my basic recipe.

Ingredients — Prep time 10 minutes

1 pound lean ground beef (93/7)
1 cup (8-ounce can) tomato sauce
½ cup diced onion
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules (or one cube, crushed)
1 teaspoon Grill Mates Montreal steak spice
⅓ cup plain bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Worchester sauce

I use a lean ground beef to limit the fat content. Meatloaf is pretty fatty, so I try to use a ground sirloin. In my experience, meatloaf is often surrounded by liquid fat when I remove it from the oven, and using 93/7 eliminates that. Also, using a lower fat meat makes 6 servings instead of four due to shrinkage.

Instructions — Cook time 1 hour

Preheat your oven to 350℉ while you mix up meatloaf. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

In a medium sized bowl, mix ground beef, ⅔ cup tomato sauce, diced onion, garlic powder, bouillon, steak spice, bread crumbs, egg and Worchester sauce. Combine until well mixed. Transfer to your greased loaf pan. Spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.

Place the loaf pan on the center rack in your preheated oven and cook for one hour. After one hour, remove the meatloaf and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it into 6 serving sizes.

Serve it with your favorite side dishes. I love to make mashed potatoes that I can spoon on top and eat, almost like a shepherd’s pie. You can even spoon leftover mashed potatoes on top instead of using the remaining tomato sauce and bake it that way. The potatoes get a little browned and crispy.


Eating the same kind of meatloaf is boring to me, but there are many ways to change it up.

Mushroom Meatloaf

Instead of using tomato sauce, I add ½ can of cream of mushroom soup concentrate. I leave out the garlic powder but slice up a cup of sliced fresh mushrooms. I put ¼ cup of the mushrooms in the meat mixture and arrange ¼ cup of mushrooms on top.

I make a simple mushroom gravy with the remain ½ cup of the mushrooms. Sautee the remaining mushrooms with a tablespoon of minced onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for about 1 minute. Add in one cup of beef broth. stirring constantly. Let it simmer on medium-low heat until it thickens.

This version pairs well with roasted potatoes and vegetables that can be baked while the meat is cooking, making this an easy meal.

Italian Meatloaf

For this version, I leave out the Worchester sauce and steak spice from the original recipe. Instead, I add 1 teaspoon of oregano, ¼ teaspoon of basil and the garlic to the tomato sauce before mixing ⅔ cup into the meat. In addition, I add ¼ cup sliced mushrooms to the meat mixture.

For the topping, I spread the remaining tomato sauce on top and dice a medium-sized tomato to sprinkle over it before baking.

This version is great with minestrone soup and French bread in the wintertime.

Mexican Meatloaf

I didn’t come up with this version because I live in Texas and am a Tex-Mex-a-holic. Okay, well, maybe I did. This is my Tex-Mex version of meatloaf.

I eliminate the tomato sauce, Worchester sauce and steak spice from the original recipe. Instead, I mix in 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning and ⅔ cup Pace picante sauce into the meat mixture. Then, I spread ⅓ cup of Pace picante sauce evenly over the top before baking it. In the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle with ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese and let it finish baking.

We like to have this with charro bean soup, tortillas and Rotel™ cheese dip. 

Put these into your menu rotation

Even if you think you don’t like meatloaf, I urge you to try the variations. I think you will be surprised at how different and tasty they are. If you struggle with menu planning, these four variations will keep the boredom away and make your life easier. You can have meatloaf every week for a month!

You could even switch these up by using ground lamb or chicken in place of the ground beef. I would replace the beef bouillon with chicken or vegetable, and cream of celery soup concentrate instead of the tomato sauce. Rubbed sage, salt and pepper could replace of the steak spice and Worchester sauce.

Bon Appetit!

Get my free easy 2–week menu plan to help simplify your life and save money!

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.


Cinnamon Rolls Using Sourdough Discard — or Not!

Make these delicious sourdough discard cinnamon rolls, or use my non-sourdough alternative

I am fascinated by sourdough and using sourdough discard in recipes. I’ve developed a whole list of dishes that use it just so the discard isn’t wasted. I first developed a recipe for biscuits. It was such a success that I was inspired to adapt it to making cinnamon rolls, and this is the result.

Because I wanted to make a sweeter roll, I added additional sugar to my biscuit recipe and reduced the ingredients to make one pan of rolls. I also noticed in researching other cinnamon roll or sticky bun recipes that they often put caramel and nuts in the bottom of the dish. My filling oozes out the bottom as it cooks to create that base for the cinnamon rolls.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Print this recipe.

Make the dough

Begin by making the dough. This recipe is for using sourdough discard, but I will give the alternative at the end of this section.


1 ¼ cup (142 grams) all-purpose flour, reserve ¼ cup for rolling
2 tablespoons (24 grams) sugar
½ teaspoon (3 grams) salt
4 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, ice cold
½ cup (113 grams) sourdough starter discard
¼ cup (60 grams) buttermilk


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter. Cut the butter into ½” cubes before trying to mash it into the dry ingredients using the tines of a fork. You will continue to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks crumbly. You can use a dough blender, if you have one.

In a separate small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the sourdough starter and buttermilk until it is smooth. Add this to the flour mixture. Using a bowl scraper or spatula, gently mix by pulling the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and pressing the dough down over the top of the ingredients, like folding it over.

You want to continue to mix in this manner until all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture holds together without crumbling apart. If it is too wet and sticky, add a tablespoon of flour and mix together. You can add additional flour, if needed, up to two tablespoons. It will still be sticky.

Shape the dough into a rectangular brick and wrap it in plastic wrap or put in a quart size storage bag. Put it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. This will allow the butter in the dough to get cold again and make it easier to handle while rolling it out and filling it.

Non-sourdough alternative

Instead of using sourdough discard, add 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon (2 grams) of baking soda to the dry ingredients and increase the buttermilk to ⅓ cup (75 grams.) The baking powder and baking soda will act as a leavener in place of the yeast in the sourdough starter.

Make the filling

The filling is the star of this recipe, so you need to have plenty of it. You can also add your favorite add-ins like pecans and raisins, or keep it simple.


¼ cup (48 grams) granulated sugar
¾ cup (144 grams) packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, melted
⅛ teaspoon (1–2 grams) kosher salt
½ cup (56 grams) chopped pecans — optional
¼ cup (42 grams) raisins — optional

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir until well mixed.

Fill the dough

Cinnamon roll filling.

Spread the reserved flour on your countertop. Coat your hands and rolling pin. Remove the dough from your refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12″ x 12″ square. It will be about ¼” to ½” thick. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, spreading it evenly and leaving a ½” border around the edges. This will make it easier to seal the dough.

Roll up the cinnamon rolls into a log.

If you are adding pecans and raisins, sprinkle them evenly across the dough and slightly press them into it. This will keep them in place as you roll it up. Starting at the edge closest to you, begin by tightly rolling the edge away from you. Continue rolling the dough until you have rolled it into a log. 

Wet your fingertips and lightly moisten the inside edge of the dough. This will help it to stick together and not unwind when you cut it. Smooth the outside of the seam to completely seal it. 

These rolls are ready to proof for 4 hours.

Using a serrated knife, even up each end of the log by cutting off the uneven edges. Then cut 1 ¼” slices along the rest of the roll. You should get 10 slices. Turn them on their sides and place in a greased 9″ round cake pan or pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the biscuits to proof for 2 to 8 hours.

For proofing these rolls, you have two options. The first is to put them into your oven with the light on for 2 to 4 hours. The second is to allow them to proof overnight in your cool house, if the temperature is lower than 75℉. This will slow the rise and allow you to bake them first thing in the morning.

Non-sourdough alternative

If you are not using sourdough discard, you will omit the rise time and bake these immediately. If you wish to bake them the next morning, you can cover them with plastic and put them in the refrigerator. Remove them from the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature before baking them.

Bake the rolls

These rolls are proofed and ready to bake.

Preheat your oven to 350℉. When it is preheated, place the cinnamon rolls on the center rack in your oven. Remove the plastic wrap and allow the rolls to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. I baked mine in my countertop air fryer/toaster oven combo oven. It has the ability to convection bake, so I set the temperature to 325℉ and let it cook for 20 minutes.

Check the rolls for doneness during the last 5 minutes of baking. The top should be golden brown, but not too dark. If you are using a glass baking dish, the bottoms and sides should also be browned. If they don’t seem to be browning evenly, you can move the pan to a lower rack to make sure the bottoms and sides get that golden color, too.

Make the icing

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese-Buttermilk Icing.

While the rolls are baking, make the icing. Each roll will get about 1 teaspoon of icing. We like to ice each one when we are ready to eat them. That way we do not have to refrigerate the rolls, and can heat them up without the icing running completely off the roll.


2 tablespoons (28 grams) cream cheese
1 tablespoon (15 grams) buttermilk
2 tablespoons (14 grams) powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream together the cream cheese and the buttermilk, until it is smooth. If the mixture appears lumpy, it helps to microwave it for 10 to 15 seconds and whisk vigorously. Stir in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. It should be slightly runny.

Come and get it

When the cinnamon rolls finish baking, remove one from the dish and place a dollop of icing on top. The heat of the warm roll will melt the icing slightly and cause it to run down the sides. Yummy!

I doubt that there will be leftovers, but if there are, you can store these in the pie plate or cake pan by covering with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Reheat on high for 15 to 20 seconds in your microwave before topping with the icing. You can also put each roll in a sandwich bag and place in your freezer.

My final thoughts

My first attempt at making these cinnamon rolls browned a little too much on top in my countertop oven before the sides and bottoms were sufficiently browned. They still tasted delicious. Next time, I will try lowering the rack to see if that produces more even results.

In my second attempt at making these, I used my full-sized oven and placed them on the rack at the lowest position in my oven for the first half of the bake. Then, I moved them to the middle rack and rotated the pan 180° to finish baking. The results were perfect.

I can’t wait to make these for Christmas. I will let them rise overnight so we can eat them hot and fresh in the morning. 

Don’t forget to print this recipe.

Merry Christmas and Bon Appetit!

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Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.


Honey Oatmeal Bread Made with Love

My grandma’s oatmeal bread recipe is a family favorite.

When I was a little girl, I remember waking up to the smell of fresh bread that my mother had baked that morning. She would cut me a thick slice, still warm, and generously smear butter on it. This loaf of bread would not stay around long because when I wanted a snack, I would eat this every time.

I watched my mom make this bread, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that my grandma taught me how to make bread of any kind. Her yeast rolls are what my family requests me to bring to our large Thanksgiving dinners, though we haven’t met during this pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, I was forced to find an alternative to using store bought yeast for this recipe because I simply couldn’t buy it. After much research, I developed my own wild yeast levain, also known as sourdough starter. After building it up through regular feedings, I could make bread.

While I built up my starter, I did research on how to use it to make bread. Since my starter is made with all-purpose flour and not rye flour, it has a sweeter taste to it, so it is much less sour than normal sourdough, but it does contribute some of that lovely flavor. Here is the recipe I follow.

Honey Oatmeal Bread Recipe

Print this recipe, which also has the original version using store-bought yeast.

Start with a poolish mix — Mixture 1

A poolish mix is used to give your wild yeast stamina and strength. This is the equivalent to dissolving your store-bought yeast in warm water and adding a bit of sugar to make it start rising. While store bought yeast does this within minutes, it takes several hours for the poolish mix to develop. 

It is worth the wait.

Before I begin making the poolish mix, I make sure I have fed my starter that morning, usually about 4 to 6 hours before. This insures that the yeast is highly active, which makes the poolie more robust.

Poolish Ingredients

⅓ cup (75 grams) water
½ cup (75 grams) flour
⅔ cup (150 grams) wild yeast starter, fed within the last 8 hours

In a 3-cup bowl, mix the starter and water. Stir in the flour until it is well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 4 to 6 hours. During this time, you will see it rise to about double its original height. If you want, you can start this before you go to bed and let it rise overnight.

Create your oat base — Mixture 2

As this is oatmeal bread, this part of the recipe is the star. You want to use rolled oats, not instant, as they hold up better, absorb less water, and give the bread a better texture. I use Quaker Old Fashioned rolled oats, but you can use whatever brand you prefer.

Oatmeal base ingredients

1 ¾ cups (413 grams) boiling water
1 cup (80 grams) rolled oats
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

Mix water, oats and butter in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.

2 ½ teaspoons (15 grams) kosher salt
½ cup (168 grams) honey (or molasses or raisins)

Mix together until well combined.

Mix it all together

Stir the poolish mix (mixture 1) into the oat mix (mixture 2.) Continue to stir until thoroughly mixed together before beginning to add the flour.

Remaining ingredient

5 ¼ cups (746 grams) flour

Begin adding flour gradually, mixing a half cup at a time until the dough is soft and not too sticky. Reserve 1 ½ to 2 cups (220–300 grams) from the total amount of flour (5 ¼ cups) for kneading.

At this point the dough will be very tacky, so you will need to use the reserved flour on the counter and your hands before you start to knead the bread. Spread about ¼ to ½ cup of flour on your counter. If you have a marble or stone surface to knead the dough, use it. It works great.

Knead the dough — this is not scary, I promise!

Scrape the dough from your bowl onto the floured surface. Fold the dough toward you and press down firmly with the ball of your hand, pushing away from you. The dough will feel somewhat resistant to being pushed. Lift the dough and rotate ¼ turn, then repeat the fold and push technique.

When the dough sticks to your countertop, use a bench scraper to help you lift it, if you have one. Then, spread another ¼ cup of flour onto your counter. Also, sprinkle some of the flour on top of the dough so your hands don’t stick too much.

Keep turning and pushing until the dough becomes soft, doesn’t stick to the countertop easily, and can be formed into a boulle. I find that this takes about 10 minutes. It is okay if you do not use up all your reserved flour. Too much flour makes the bread dense and not rise.

Let it rise

On the top, you can see how my unrisen dough holds its shape in a boulle. On the bottom, you can see that it has doubled in size.

Now it is time for the bulk rise, when you allow all the dough to rise in one large batch. I usually wash the large bowl that I mixed the bread in for this. Before putting the dough into the bowl, generously grease it with Crisco. Set the dough into the bowl, press it down, and then flip it over to coat both sides.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. This keeps the dough from drying out. You want the bulk rise to take 8 to 10 hours, so place the bowl in a cool place (72°F to 75°F.) Because wild yeast is less robust than store-bought, it takes much longer to double in size, which is what it needs to do.

Form and proof the loaves

Once the dough has doubled in size, it is time to form the loaves. I found that it is best to treat the dough gently from this point forward. Do not punch down the dough or press all the air out of it. Because wild yeast is delicate, you will want to keep as much of the rise in the dough as you can.

Spread about 2 tablespoons of flour on your work surface or countertop. Gently tip the bowl to allow the dough to roll onto the floured surface. This recipe makes two loaves, so you will need a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough into two halves. Set one half aside while you work with the other.

Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle that is about the same width as your loaf pan. My loaf pan is 9″ long, so my rectangle is roughly 12″ long by 9″ wide. Be sure you have generously greased your loaf pans with shortening.

Begin rolling away from you, with the 9″ side facing you.

With the 9″ side (width of your pan) facing you, begin rolling the dough into a log, pushing away as you roll the dough. With the seam side down, gently tuck under the ends as you lift the log and scoop it into your loaf pan.

Repeat this process with the remainder of your dough. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow them to proof for 4 to 10 hours.They should double in size. The slower they proof, the better the flavor. You can prepare them at night and let them proof while you sleep and bake in the morning.

The loaves on the top are ready to proof and the loaves on the bottom have proofed for 4 hours in my oven.

There are two options for proofing the bread. The first, and in my opinion the easiest, is to form the loaves before going to bed and letting them proof overnight. This allows the bread to be baked first thing in the morning. It’s lovely to have fresh bread for breakfast.

The second option is to form the loaves in the morning and proof them in your oven. If you don’t have a proofing oven, simply place a pan of boiling water in the bottom of your full-sized oven and turn on the interior light. This will allow the bread to rise within 2 to 4 hours. Then bake as usual.

Bake the bread

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Be sure to remove the plastic wrap from your loaf pans before baking the bread. Before you bake your bread, you will want to split the top using a sharp knife or a bread lame and brush it with a tablespoon of melted butter to help it brown.

Split the top of the loaf using a sharp knife or lame. Angle the knife/lame at a 45° angle and score it quickly.

I like to put a pan of boiling water in the bottom of my oven for the first 30 minutes of the baking time. Remove the water for the last half. This helps create a crispy crust on the bread. Bake the bread for 45 minutes to 1 hour. After 45 minutes, begin to test the interior temperature of your bread. Once it reaches 200°F, it is done. 

If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, thump the top of the loaf with your fingers. (Like your mom used to do to your ear when you were misbehaving in a store.) If it sounds hollow and the top and sides are browned, it is done.

Don’t be afraid of making bread at home

I know that many people are intimidated by making bread at home. I promise, with a little practice, you will find success. Using the wild yeast is a little bit more advanced than using store-bought yeast, so try my original recipe while you learn. Then, once you are more confident, give the converted recipe a try.

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Don’t forget to print this converted recipe and original version.

Bon Appetit!

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Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking on Medium.


Quick and Easy Chicken Alfredo

This dish is on the table in under 30 minutes.

I love when I am able to make a dish from start to table in 30 minutes or less. I especially love it when I am able to use fresh ingredients because I feel like I am serving my family better food. But fresh ingredients doesn’t mean I don’t find shortcuts that still allow me to control what goes into the food.

My chicken Alfredo is a mostly homemade dish that is a crowd-pleaser in my house. I have served it for dinner parties, unexpected dinner guests and just for us. It is a great way to use up leftover chicken, or even canned premium white meat chicken. It is quick, easy, and tasty. Win-win-win! My favorite.

Quick and Easy Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Print this recipe.

The chicken

You can use any kind of pre-cooked chicken that you have. I have use my leftover roasted chicken. Sometimes, I bulk-grill chicken along with other meats when I grill out, and I can use that. Or I quickly bake a chicken breast in my air-fryer before going to work. Sometimes, I have used canned chicken.

Each kind will give a different flavor, but it will always taste great. My recipe feeds three people, which can easily be doubled or tripled for more guests, or divided into servings for quick lunches.

Ingredients — 5 minute prep time

¾ pound shredded precooked chicken (2 cups)
½ cup diced onion (about 1 small onion)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
½ cup of sliced mushrooms, about 3–4 caps (optional)
½ jar of Bertolli Alfredo sauce (about 1 cup)
2 cups farfalle (bow-tie) pasta(uncooked)
Salt and pepper to taste

Before you begin cooking, you want to start boiling your water for the pasta. If you prefer, you can substitute thin egg noodles, linguini, or plain spaghetti noodles for the farfalle. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt to the water. This will salt the noodles while they cook, but you will pour off most of it.

Cooking the dish — 15 minutes

While you wait for your water to boil, prepare your diced your onion and any side dishes you wish to have. This meal pairs well with a salad and breadsticks or New York® garlic toast from the freezer section at your store. We often make Pillsbury® crusty French bread, so I start that first.

When the water starts to boil, drop in your pasta and start baking the bread. In a 10-inch skillet, saute the onion until translucent, about 3–5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cover and heat through.

Check the doneness of the pasta. Once it is almost cooked (al dente — where the outside is tender but there is a slight firmness to the very inner part of the pasta), remove it from the heat, but do not drain it. You will need to reserve half a cup of the pasta water to thin the Alfredo sauce.

Add the Alfredo sauce to the chicken mixture and heat until bubbly. Drain the pasta, but reserve a half cup of the water to mix into the chicken when you add the pasta. This will allow the sauce to create an even coat over the pasta. Stir in the pasta and reserved water and mix until all ingredients are coated.

Serve it with a salad and garlic bread and you have a quick, tasty meal.

Get the kids to eat their veggies!

You can add a cup of veggies to this to add color and variety to this dish. Fresh or frozen broccoli florets can be sauteed with the onions, or you can add a can of drained English peas, fresh baby spinach or kale when you add the sauce to the chicken.

This dish is great to serve at a dinner party. Your guests will be impressed, but you won’t spend all your time in the kitchen.

Don’t forget to print this recipe.

Bon Appetit!

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Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.


Easy-to-Make Chicken Pot Pie

You may never eat frozen ones again!

My family loves pie, in all forms, savory and sweet. My favorite is cherry. My husband’s is chocolate cream topped with whipped cream, not meringue (or as he would say — calf slobbers). My sons are chocolate silk. My mother’s was lemon meringue. My father-in-law’s was coconut cream.

When I was around 10-years-old, my mother started making a chicken pot pie, New England style, with oysters. My dad loved it; my brother and I gagged through dinner and ultimately went hungry.

That was when you ate what was put in front of you, and Mom made dinner for Dad, and the kids just ate it. Or not.

Not to worry. My mom quickly realized that chicken pot pie with oysters simply wasn’t kid-friendly and began making a second, much smaller, pot pie for my brother and me. It’s all good.

Years ago, my husband and I ate at Mimi’s Cafe, a French-style bistro, where I discovered another way to make chicken pot pie that was delicious. The secret ingredient — sage. Yum!

This pot pie is so easy to make and takes less than 45 minutes before it is on the table, ready to eat. This recipe easily serves four but can be doubled to serve more or halved to serve only two, as I do.

Easy-to-Make Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Print this recipe.

Make the crust!

Start by making the crust. There are two options for this pot pie. Because I hate a soggy bottom crust, I almost always only have a top one. As a result, you only need a one-crust pie recipe. If you want a bottom crust, you will need to double my pie crust recipe.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Using the tines of a fork, mash 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter into the flour and salt mixture. The butter should be as cold as possible, so don’t soften it first. Keep cutting the butter into the flour mixture until it has a crumbly texture.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice-cold buttermilk or whole milk, one tablespoon at a time. Add just enough milk that the dough sticks together easily and no longer crumbles apart. Overhandling the crust will make it tough, so pay attention to when it just begins to hold together.

Remember, if you want a bottom crust, you will need to double the above recipe for a two-crust pot pie. If you have a sourdough starter, you can make this using your discard, too.

Make the filling

This filling can be made in a 3-quart casserole dish that can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. If you don’t have one of those, or if you plan to make a bottom crust, make the filling in a 2-quart saucepan or 10-inch deep skillet. Also, if you have left-over baked chicken, you can use that.

Filling ingredients

  • 1 pound shredded pre-cooked chicken (about 3 cups), or three 6-ounce cans of chunk white chicken, drained
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 3/4 cup sliced celery (about 3 celery ribs)
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (about 6 to 8 mushroom caps)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2/3 cup canned peas, drained — optional
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoon corn starch (or 1/4 cup flour)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a 3-quart, stovetop and ovenproof casserole dish (or 10-in skillet), saute the carrots, onion, celery, salt, and pepper in butter over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and brown slightly, about 3 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and sage and continue cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Slowly stir in the chicken stock and allow to cook until the carrots are tender about 10 minutes. If you want potatoes in your pot pie, with the stock, add 1 cup diced potatoes, cut to about 1/2″ cubes (about 2 medium).

In a 3-cup measuring cup, whisk together the milk and cornstarch or flour. Slowly add to your casserole dish or skillet, stirring constantly. Allow cooking until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Gently stir in the drained peas (optional) and shredded chicken. Transfer this filling to an oven-safe casserole dish and top with the pie crust. Trim the crust to the size of your casserole dish and press to the sides to seal it. Cut 6 to 8 slashes in the top to allow steam to vent.

Brush the crust with melted butter and sprinkle with celery salt. Bake at 400° for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

For a two-crust pot pie

If you have made a bottom crust, you will fill the bottom crust, cover with the top crust and crimp the edges to seal it tightly. Be sure to make 6–8 piercings in the top crust before brushing it with butter and sprinkling it with celery salt.

A two-crust pot pie will take longer to bake, so cover the crimped edges with foil to protect them from burning and allow it to bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes. The crust should be golden brown. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Your family will love it!

The great thing about a pot pie is that you can add any vegetables or fillers that you enjoy eating. I’ve made this with diced potatoes, watercress, cauliflower, and broccoli. I prefer using canned or precooked veggies to frozen ones, as we prefer their texture. This is a great way to get kids to eat their veggies.

Don’t forget to print this recipe.

Bon Appetit!

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply and top writer in Food and Cooking on Medium, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft.