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Thursday, May 24, 2012


Perhaps you've noticed how often we bake.
Like daily.
Yes, we fire up the miracle that is our stand mixer and create myriads of muffins,
bushels of breads, crates of cookies, and oceans of oatmeal bars.
 And maybe our mixer doesn't look like this, but let's pretend it does
to spice up my image.

Now, you're probably saying to yourself, but Sunny, if you bake that much, you must use a ton of vanilla! How are you possibly affording that???
Why, the same way we fit decoupage medium into the budget:
We make our own.
For goodness sake, it's simple.
You'll need vodka, whole vanilla beans, and bottles to put it all in.

Take two beans...
...slice them down the center...

...and open them up.
Replace any of the seeds you may have sticking to you.
Under no circumstances should you discard them.
I will find you.
Put the beans in a container and fill it with (CHEAP) vodka.
These bottles hold about 6 ounces.

Replace the cap and shake.
Put these bad boys on a shelf out of the sunlight until the liquid turns deep amber.
I keep them with my cooking wines.
Now, my mother is appalled at how many beans I put in my vanilla, but I like a very rich
flavor, not to mention you can top this off with more vodka as you deplete it.
If you're making Christmas or holiday gifts (and now would be the time to get crackin'),
you can use one bean.
One measly bean will also flavor 10 pounds of sugar to heavenly perfection.
As long as you now have an inexpensive vanilla source,
how about some baking?
These make a great breakfast or energy restoring snack.

Oatmeal Bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups of dried fruit. We used raisins and dried cherries
1 3/4 cups quick or old-fashioned oat
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in egg; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in the dried fruit and 1 1/2 cups oats. Spread into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining oats.
  3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.
Makes 24 bars.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

1 cup butter, room temperature
4 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 2 large lemons
1 3/4 cups of sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups of chopped walnuts
1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons of sugar for sprinkling on top
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and the sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the flour mixture to the batter, then the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.
4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
This makes a stellar breakfast as well.

 Quick Strawberry Cake

1 package white cake mix
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry-flavored gelatin powder
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup mashed strawberries
.1 cup strawberry jam

Strawberry Icing 
1/2 cup butter
1 pound confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup mashed strawberries


1. Combine cake mix and gelatin powder in a large bowl.
 2. Beat in oil, eggs, water, vanilla, and strawberries.
3. Pour into 2 9-inch round greased and floured cake pans.
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
 5. Cool completely. Spread the jam between the cake layers, assemble. and then and frost with strawberry icing. Decorate with fresh strawberry slices
For icing, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together until smooth. Add strawberries. Spread between cake layers, then frost top and sides.

I baked all of these, one after another, the same afternoon. The oven setting is a constant
350, so this is a breeze to do, and I like having home baked goodies in the house.

Hey, put that vanilla down! That isn't what the vodka is for!


Sherri B. said...

I want/need that mixer with the bling, it go great with a pink apron I have!

Thanks for the great recipe and Christmas idea.

Have a wonderful weekend! xo

Michelle L. said...

Wait, that's all it takes to make vanilla extract? Why didn't my mom ever tell me this? I am going right to the phone to tell HER. Cool, Sunny! also yum.

Heather{Our Life In a Click} said...

Oh yum! I bet the house smelled amazing on baking day!