Heavenly Homemakers 2011 Recipe Challenge – What Do I Have to Say for Myself?

Hi. Remember the Recipe Challenge I began back in January of this year? The challenge that I was planning to have completed by the end of 2011? Yes, that one.

Perhaps since there are still three entire days left in the year, none of you have been worried about the fact that I still have several recipes from the challenge list not yet accounted for. I told you I would do it by December 31, after all. Surely I wouldn’t let you down.

Yeah, well.

I’m all for focusing on the positive, so let’s first look at what I did accomplish from this list, shall we?

1. Tator Tots

2. White Chocolate Baking Chips

3. Butterscotch Baking Chips

4. Teriyaki Sauce

5. Onion Soup Mix

6. Chocolate Milk

7. Ketchup

Now let’s look at some of the other items on the challenge list so I can give you my pitiful excuses heart-felt explanations as to why I failed to post lovely recipes and pictures of these foods.

1. Mayonnaise

I worked my tail off on this one and ended up almost despising the very sound of the word mayonnaise by the end of my experience. Clearly, making mayonnaise isn’t my gift. However, now that I have a new immersion blender, it is possible that I will decide to revisit this idea and try again eventually. Like in eight years. (kidding, sort of, maybe, not sure)

2. Corn Tortillas

I gave my best effort on the corn tortillas, and even took pictures once as I went, in hopes that I’d have beautiful corn tortillas to share with you. The little corn tortilla dough balls are indeed lovely, don’t you think? They look like they would make wonderful tortillas.

And at first glance, this rolled out, pre-cooked version looks kind of okay. But don’t ask me how long it took to actually get that thing rolled out – and really, really don’t ask how it turned out once I tried to cook it in a skillet.

Okay, fine. I’ll tell you. It completely crumbled and fell apart and tasted a little bit like…flaky cardboard. After all that work, I was as fond of corn tortillas as I was of mayonnaise. We ate the pieces anyway, because that’s what we do around here. But I’m wondering if the secret to success in making corn tortillas is using a tortilla press. I’m not sure I’m willing to make the investment, since we don’t eat a lot of corn tortillas around here. I roll my wheat flour tortillas with a rolling pin and never have any problems. Your thoughts?

3. Angel Food Cake

My attempt at a healthier angel food cake was a bit disappointing as well. It flopped and became lop sided. I took pictures to prove it.  In addition, we were not impressed with the flavor. It was okay, but not fantastic. However, there’s nothing a little fruit and a good amount of whipped cream won’t fix – so we were able to get it down without too much effort.

4. Homemade Ritz Crackers

These were sort of good and kinda tasted like a Ritz Cracker. But I ended up getting them way too salty and ultimately, we didn’t just love the taste. I’ll probably continue to experiment with these because I think I was on to something.

5. White Cake

I have tried different variations of a plain white cake, which ultimately turns brown because of the sucanat I use. The cakes are tasty enough, but usually a little dry. I have decided to simply begin using my Strawberry Shortcake Recipe when I have a need for a plain white cake. It is a little spongier than a typical cake, but it’s moist and very yummy.


The remaining items on the list:  Twinkies, Fig Newtons, Bleu Cheese Dressing, and Cereal Bars never did happen. If it counts for anything, I did give each of them some thought. I even have some figs in my fridge that will be turned into fig newtons some day.  Right now, they are just a “figment” of my imagination. Get it? I am so funny.

So there you have it. The 2011 Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge. I have a growing list going on for next year.  Anything you’d like to add to it?


  1. Brenda says

    For the corn tortillas, did you use cornmeal, corn flour, or masa harina? I haven’t tried corn tortillas, but when I make tamales they only turn out right if I use masa harina. :-)


    Laura Reply:

    I tried both corn meal and masa harina. Didn’t work with either one. :)


    Emily Reply:

    Maybe you should try Alton Brown’s recipe.


  2. Gina says

    You’re awesome no matter how many recipes you figured out!! I have learned so much from you Laura, and have made HUGE changes in how we eat because of your help and guidance. God bless you and yor family and I look forward to many more years “with” you!!


  3. Kimberley says

    I’ve made mayo with my immersion blender and it turned out wonderful. The only problem is that I can ‘t remember the site I found the recipe on. I remember that I put everything in the container at once (including the oil) and then slowly pulled my blender up as the ingredients started to turn white. Best mayo I’ve ever had. Good luck and thanks for the great site.


  4. says

    This is huge seeing all your successes and truly a breakthrough for healthier, whole foods for families. Thank you for being a resourceful person who is so eager to replace the “go-to” unhealthy stuff out there.


  5. Ruth says

    We have a fig newton recipe which we like, which you might like to improve or use as a basis for a recipe that you would like to develop:

    Whole Wheat Fig Newtons

    2/3 c. butter, softened
    2 c. sucanat
    4 eggs
    2 t. vanilla extract
    5 c. whole wheat flour
    ½ t. baking soda
    4 t. baking powder
    2 t. orange zest
    1 pinch salt
    Fig Filling:
    16 oz. dried figs, stems removed*
    1 1/3 c. water
    6 T. lemon or orange juice
    6 T. sucanat

    In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sucanat, eggs, and vanilla until creamy. Add the dry ingredients, beating until blended. Refrigerate the dough 1 or 2 hours.

    Prepare the fig filling by combining all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bringing these to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

    Reduce the heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally; cool. Blend so that it is not so chunky.

    Preheat oven to 375°.

    On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 14” square. Cut the dough into 4 equal strips, each 14” long and 3 1/2” wide.

    Spoon 1/4 of the fig filling in a 1 1/2” wide mound down the center of each strip.

    Using a long spatula, lift sides of each dough strip over filling, overlapping slightly on top. Press edges together to seal. Cut strips crosswise in half for ease of handling.

    Place, seam side down, 3” apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush off any excess flour. Cut each strip into 7 (1”) crosswise pieces, but do not separate.

    Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until puffed and firm to the touch.

    Cool 5 to 10 minutes on baking sheets; then cut apart and remove to racks to cool completely.

    *Other ingredients may be substituted for the figs, such as dates. We really enjoyed pumpkin bars made with this dough and a filling of pureed pumpkin, sucanat, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.


    Meghan V. Reply:

    Thanks so much for this! I have a ton of dried figs (we got for free!) and I have no idea what to do with them. :)


  6. Krystal Austin says

    my friend who makes her own tortillas told me that for corn tortillas you need the tortilla press and for flour tortillas use a rolling pin. Hope that helps


  7. Dani says

    With a husband from Mexico and after years living in Mexico, I can assure you that want a tortilla press for corn tortillas. I roll my flour ones out too, but unless you grew up patting them out by hand, nothing beats a tortillas press. I do pat them out sometimes, but they really don’t come out as well for me that way *sigh* Happy New Years!


  8. says

    Ok, firstly, I love your honesty. Secondly, I was laughing so hard in bed at your “failed” recipes that I had to explain to my husband what I was laughing at. This is a great post and a great encouragement to the rest of us to keep moving forward!


  9. Andrea Smith says

    I’ve been watching for that Twinkies recipe too. ;) No, seriously, I’m impressed with all you have accomplished. There are some great recipes there. By the wI’may, did you try an immersion blender in a jar? My mom does that everytime with great results.


  10. Cat says

    These instructions for corn tortillas are the best: http://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/view?recipeID=266
    Instead of a tortilla press, I use an 8-inch square glass baking pan (Pyrex brand with the little handles) — just put the dough ball between the two sheets of plastic on the counter under the pan, put the heels of your hands on the handles, and press directly down. If you need to make more than about a dozen at a time, you’ll probably eventually want to upgrade to a press, but I do fine with my pan.


    Jennifer Reply:

    That is a great idea!


    cathy Reply:

    to add to this! I used to do this with a 9*13 dish so i could do 2 tortilla’s and have my 6 year old stand in it. she loved being my tortilla press:-) also–check craig’s list and thrift shops–i got a tortilla press at the salvation army.


  11. Katelyn says

    Laura I have an amazing white cake recipe!

    1 cup sugar (I always use dark sugar and it doesn’t make a difference)
    1/2 cup butter, room temp
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 3/4 tsps baking powder
    1/2 cup milk

    Preheat oven to 350°

    Cream together sugar and butter, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Add flour and baking powder and mix well. *I always use my little hand held electric mixer and it works better than just stirring it all in with a spoon :)* Finally add the milk, drizzle it in, until batter is smooth. It should look like whipped cream, and using the electric mixer it always does!
    Bake for 30-40 minutes, it is done when it springs back to the touch.

    It is always moist and wonderful, I hope you give it a try! :)


    Charlotte Moore Reply:

    Laura does not use white sugar and don’t think she uses brown sugar. Sucanat and honey are about all
    I know of she uses for sweetener. She doesn’t use white flour form a store either. She grinds her own
    flour. It makes a big difference in cakes. They are more course than the white flour. They are better
    for our health though.


    Katelyn Reply:

    I realize all this, I was simply showing her a recipe she could modify herself and have a base to start from.


    Laurie Reply:

    THANKS! I’m gonna give your recipe a try! :0)


  12. says

    I love your humour and I think you did a great job with a lot of amazing makeovers. Better to have accomplished good success with a few than no success with many is what I say! Happy New Year!!


  13. Susan says

    I have made mayo beforethat turned out perfectly and tasted just like mayo, but my problem is I don’t care for the taste of mayo or miracle whip. We always bought the jar labeled Whipped Salad Dressing. Would love to be able to make some that tastes like that and is healthy. So far every thing I’ve tried tastes more like mayo. Anyone have a recipe?


  14. says

    Try using w/w pastry flour for the white cake — I’ve had great success substituting it for white or all-purpose flour! Also, you may not want to compromise on the type of sugar you use, but I use organic sugar from Azure (processed, yes) when baking cakes or cookies and even muffins sometimes as it does cost a little less and produces a flavor folks who don’t bake w/ Rapadura/sucanat will be appreciate. Baby steps…

    Blessings and a happy new year to you and your sweet family, Laura! Thanks so much for sharing all your recipes and whole foods wisdom with us. And thanks for Gratituesday – what a blessing it is to link up each week!

    In HIM,

    Lisa @ HappyinDoleValley :)


    cathy Reply:

    I have also found that the ww pastry flour is great when you are looking for a ‘lighter’ consistency:-)


  15. Dawn says

    You provide so much info, no one is going to complain! And even here, the comments section ends up being a wealth of info! I’ll bookmark this post and tag it with all the recipes you’ve referred to, and voila! An awesome resource, AGAIN! Thanks so much for all you do, you’ve dared me to try many new things in 2011! Have a wonderful 2012, Laura!


  16. Kimberlee says

    You will get no complaints from me and you should not get any from anyone else. You are amazing. Look at all the other things you accomplished this year…and survived!


  17. ChristinaB says

    Yes, get a tortilla press. They are less than $15. I successfully made homemade corn tortillas on my first try with one. Just make sure to line it with a cut-open Zip-loc bag. Easy-peasy, and boy, did they taste good!


  18. Barbara says

    This is the recipe I use for BLEU CHEESE DRESSING – it’s hubby’s favorite; maybe you’ll like it too.

    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese (I use the raw bleu cheese crumbles from Whole Foods)

    Mix ingredients; store in refrigerator; makes 1 1/2 cups


    Lisa @ Happy in Dole Valley Reply:

    Barbara, Thanks for sharing! My husband is a bleu cheese dressing fan!


  19. Bhriana says

    I, too, am interested in a fig cookie recipe. I bought some dried figs just this past weekend to see what I could come up with. LOVE your posts & recipes–truly an inspiration!


  20. Kathleen K says

    Laura, please. Go to your nearest Hispanic food store. Buy a tortilla press. Please. They aren’t expensive. They don’t take up much storage room. They use no electricity. But they are SO much faster than a rolling pin. It is okay to buy the heavy silver coated one. Just use a plastic baggie with three sides cut off to line the press so your food doesn’t touch it.


  21. says

    I think you did GREAT getting so many things crossed off your list! I’m not worried about all the other things ; )

    A few years back I was ambitious and wanted to try making my own corn tortillas. I got a tortilla press for Christmas and bought Masa from the store. The tortilla press does make it very easy to make corn tortillas, but they still tasted like corn-flavored cardboard. I think that if you want to make corn tortillas from scratch you need to actually grind the corn yourself and soak it in lye to make fresh masa. I’d rather just buy the corn tortillas from the store. They really don’t have any bad ingredients in them, and they taste pretty good when they are warmed up.


  22. Tina says

    I have a tortilla press and LOVE it. We get an assembly line going where we press the tortillas then put them on a griddle to cook and then we stick them in the freezer. Extremely efficient and the kids think it’s fun!


  23. says

    I agree with the others. You need a tortilla press. My husband’s mother (they are Mexican) always uses a press for corn tortillas. She only uses a rolling pin for flour tortillas. The press will give you nice, perfectly round tortillas. Just be sure to use something to keep them from sticking to the press. My MIL uses a plastic grocery bag that she cuts to the right size.


  24. Charlotte Moore says

    You have nothing to be ashamed of with all your successes. I wish I could be more on the trial and error….. I just want hardly try anything in the bread, cookie, or cake line without a recipe. I hate to waste my time and ingredients in case it is a flop.



  25. says

    I have Mexican heritage, and make flour tortillas. Actually, I use an electric press for those. The metal or cast iron presses are great for the masa and not for flour. It doesn’t get the flour thin enough. Its too bad I’m in CA, as I’d donate my metal press to your endeavor! I received one as a gift , but never make corn tortillas.


  26. Jocelyn Skelly says

    Love it! And thank you for all your experiments for we all reap the benefits of your successes :)

    As for the corn tortillas…I can’t imagine doing it without a press. It’s incredibly easy to use masa flour, a little water and a press. My young kids do it. We eat mexican once a week and alternate flour and corn tortillas so the press gets used twice a month (we only use it for corn, doesn’t really work for flour, don’t know why but I gave up trying.)


  27. says

    Hey Laura. I am so excited I found your site this last year, even if I didn’t know anything about your challenge, I am so excited to try out all you have accomplished.

    In regards to your corn tortilla issue…a press is a must. I tried for years using all kids of ways to press them, but they never worked right. Having 6 in our family, we use a lot of tortillas (both corn and flour) and so I once calculated the cost and bought an electric press…one that presses and can cook them too. It cost me $80 but I paid it off in three months of making my own tortillas and chips. (we make our own corn chips and cinnamon flour chips don’t last around here). I actually use the press and a pan when making flour because I can’t keep up with the demands.

    I’d love to find out more about your ritz recipe…I can always use crackers with four going on 5 kiddos!


    Ashley Reply:

    She has a yummy cheese cracker recipe! Go check it out under her recipes!
    My 21 month likes them a lot!


  28. natalie says

    I had to try homemade corn tortillas several times before I finally got the hang of it. They’re definatly harder than making flour tortillas. I found the trick to be a tortilla press, sorry, but they’re pretty cheap, and alot of cooking spray and saran wrap. You need to line the tortilla press with saran wrap and spray with cooking spray before pressing the tortilla. They’re quite fragile so be careful taking them off. The pan has to be quite hot and cook for a couple of min. personally I prefer corn tortillas and homemade ones are so much better than store bought. I hope you found this helpful.


  29. says

    The best homemade corn tortillas I have ever had were made using a thinned out version of cornbread batter and using a cordless crepe maker. My friends mom uses one of these all the time and they come out perfect! And she can whip up a whole batch in such a short time (they take about 1 minute to cook…maybe a little less). A crepe maker costs about $40 though so it can be a bit on the pricey side to invest in one. But you could certainly make a whole lot quite easily and freeze them, and make a whole lot of crepes too.(I’m thinking honey or maple syrup sweetened cream cheese and some berries….yummy!) And they are sooo much easier than trying to make crepes in an omelete pan…that is something I just can’t seem to master! I always end up with torn ones. Maybe I’ll ask for one for next Christmas. Anyway, just thought I would share an easy way, and you could just slightly alter your cornbread recipe by thinning it out a little.


  30. Pam says

    Thank you for working so hard to help us in the kitchen! I can’t tell you how much we love your recipes!!!! Blessings to you and your family in 2012!


  31. aprilApril says

    Laura — you rock!!! 2011 — total success by my standards. Thank you so much for everything. Looking forward to 2012 with you. Blessings.


  32. Joy says

    For good corn tortillas, you need to use a tortilla press. Use Maseca Corn Flour which is available at most supermarkets in the Hispanic foods section, and non-GMO according to the company when contacted a year or so ago.

    Pour some of the flour in a bowl, then add water a little at a time and mix with your HANDS until it feels silky. If it’s crumbly, add more water. If it’s soupy, add more flour.

    With your hands, make a golf-ball size piece, rolling it into a ball.

    Take a large freezer ziploc bag and cut off the top and sides, so that it fits inside the tortilla press and hangs out slightly.

    Open up the tortilla press, open up the ziploc bag, place the ball just off-center, since it will press towards the other side. You’ll see what I mean when you try it … I put a dot on mine with a sharpie so I always know where to put it. Lay the bag down, then the press, and push hard with the handle. Too hard will be too thin and tear, not hard enough will be too thick, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

    Open the press up, and pick up the bag. Peel off one side of the bag, and then turn over onto your hand. Peel off the other side. Cook on a hot cast iron griddle (medium to medium high heat) that is well-seasoned. Wait to turn it until you see dryish spots on the top. If it doesn’t want to flip, wait longer (kind of like pancakes). Once it loosens and flips easily, flip to the other side until you get light brown spots. Set aside to cool.

    I don’t know how long they keep, since we just eat them all when we make them. I’m pretty good at estimating the flour/water needed for the amount I want to make.

    Hope this helps!


  33. Cathy says

    I forgot all about your homemade tator tots! I tried them shortly after you posted about them and we loved them, not sure how I managed to get those out of the menu plan rotation. Thanks for the reminder (and all your hard work on these!)


  34. Margaret says

    I’ll chime in on the corn tortillas. A tortilla press is really useful, but I have found that a cast iron pot works just as well. I just placed the slightly flattened balls on a flat surface and pressed down hard. Voila, poor man’s tortilla press. Any heavy pot will do. Trick number two, straight from the Guatemalan in-laws – use a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) to cook the tortillas. Corn tortillas need even heat at a higher temperature than flour ones.


  35. Janet Kiessling says

    Almost Happy New Year! Awesome recipes, Laura! I just wanted to leave a comment about your corn tortillas. I, too, make mine homemade. Took us a while to find the right recipe…..ok years. :) Finally, we found one. We use manteca flour. My hubby is a physical therapist & most of his patients are spanish speaking – so he asked. Plus, we do use a tortilla press for the corn tortillas – only! They are very cheap through Amazon – $8. They came out awesome. But we did have to practice. :) Oh & BTW…I still like rolling them out, too. I have your tortilla ebook – & I make the wheat tortillas constantly – I am always doubling the recipe. Kids love them. Thanks & Blessings – Janet


  36. Ashley says

    I don’t care you didn’t get those made! Hands down I adore that you shared your “pizza crust/pocket/poptart” crust! I’ve been wanting to make that stuff at home forever without have to use canned crescent rolls! And you helped me do that :D Have a Happy New Year, and may God bless your family!


  37. Pamela Kelly says

    Following up on making mayonnaise, I made some ?? years ago which turned out very well. The trick was making it in a food processor –simple! I’m pretty sure the recipe was in a Cuisinart cookbook.


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