Slice of Life Quick Tip #3

By September 12, 2017 Quick Tips

Katie McNeil demonstrates one of her many kitchen time saving quick tips. Katie hosts the Slice of Life show which explores baking, delicious meals, and the Oregon Coast lifestyle.

The Big Sieve

Katie McNeil

Producer, Camera, Editor
Mark McGinley
Iron Mench Productions

Slice of Life Theme
Mark McGinley

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Slice of Life Quick Tip #2

By August 27, 2017 Quick Tips

Here is another quick tip video called “The $50 Trick”. Please like and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Have a great day everyone.

Slice of Life Quick Tip #1

By August 25, 2017 Quick Tips

Hi Everyone,

We’ve just created a series of quick tips that we will be sharing over the next few weeks. I hope you find these tips as useful in your kitchen as they are in mine. If you have any questions or comments, please share.

Oil and Sticky Stuff

Best Wishes,

Katie McNeil

Simple Irish Soda Bread

By March 16, 2017 Baker Blog, Bread Recipes, quick, Recipes
plain soda bread slice of life show

This bread is actually good for any night of the week and one that I used to make to go along with a big pot of soup before I got into making more yeasted breads. I like it for a weeknight because it takes less then an hour to make, so I would get the bread in the oven first, then start on getting the pot of soup going next. They would both be hot and ready at about the same time. It’s great plain, dipped in soup, with butter, or alongside a big plate of corned beef and potatoes for St. Patty’s Day! 

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen and calls for a little bit of cake flour. I highly recommend this, it makes the bread nice and light. Brushing with butter after it comes out of the oven is also a good idea!

plain soda bread good for soups and toast

Irish Soda Bread


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
1 1/2 cups buttermilk


Heat the oven to 400 degrees and and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flours, sugar, soda, cream of tartar and salt. Using two knives, a biscuit blender, or your fingers, work 2 tablespoons of the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.

Stir in the buttermilk with a fork, just until the dough starts to come together. Dump the dough out onto a clean counter and knead briefly – no longer than a minute – until the dough is coarse and bumpy. Do not knead until smooth.

Shape the dough into a round about 6 inches wide by 2 inches thick. Place on the prepared baking sheet and cut a large X in to the top of the loaf (don’t cut all the way through) with a serrated knife.

Bake until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Melt the remaining butter and brush it all over the top and the sides. Let the loaf cool for about an hour or serve with dinner immediately.

Stop in to Pacific Sourdough Bakery for the more traditional soda bread with currants and caraway seeds on St. Patty’s Day!

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Soup and bread for a rainy day

By March 1, 2017 Baker Blog, Bread, Dinner, easy, Recipes, winter, Yeast Bread

We recently had some terrible ice storms that left us stranded in our home.  It was a perfect day to make a hearty soup to warm and fortify us.  This soup is easy to make from what you have on hand in your pantry and can be modified easily to suit different tastes. 

With more cold weather coming before Spring is officially hear, try out this soup and making a simple yeasted bread to go with it. It’s a lot of fun to spend a day in the kitchen when it’s nasty outside – and it will keep your house warm and cozy all day long. 

I hope this soup will help provide you some warmth on those coldest of days.  

-Mark McGinley, Executive Producer, Slice of Life Show


Soup and Bread for a Rainy Day


1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

½ large onion

1 lb ground chicken

1 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp salt

1 cup lentils

1 can kidney beans

1 can whole kernel corn

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp creole seasoning (Cajun’s Choice)

Soup Toppings

Grated Swiss or sharp cheddar cheese

Dollop of sour cream

Bacon crumbles


To start, I put some olive oil in a Dutch oven set to medium high and fried up the ground chicken, onions, and garlic, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.  I placed the remaining ingredients in the Dutch oven and brought everything to a boil, then I turned the heat down to simmer for 40 minutes.  I start with 1 tablespoon of Creole Seasoning, but you can add more if you like it spicy.  For people who like it hot, I add an additional tablespoon of Sriracha.  Add any kind of vegetables that you have on hand either fresh or canned. To serve, add your choice of toppings. This soup goes great with a loaf of freshly baked bread.

Simple White Yeasted Bread

crusty simple white bread perfect with soup

Yeilds 2 large loaves
Slightly adapted from AllRecipes

This bread is really great for a day that you are just hanging out at home in your jammies and the rain or snow is coming down outside. It uses basic ingredients and calls for a little kneading, which is really therapeutic and relaxing.


5-6 cups all-purpose flour



In a mixer bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Add in the 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using the dough hook. Add in as much of the remaining flour as you can. How much flour you are able to add will depend on how humid or dry the air is that day. Start with 4 cups total and then see how the texture looks, you are looking for sticky yet stiff and climbing up the dough hook, coming clean away from the bowl. On a lightly floured surface, knead to make the dough smooth and elastic, for about 8 to 10 minutes total, adding in additional flour as needed. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.


This recipe has you brush on egg and make slits in the bread earlier then other bread recipes typically will ask you to do this step. It’s important to do it before rising because the dough will easily deflate if you handle it later. 

The egg wash makes a very crusty outside, perfect for dipping in hot soup. 

More great bread recipes to try: 

Our Classic Focaccia Bread

Sprouted Wheat Bread

Potato Bread

Yeasted Corn Bread


Boston Brown Bread

By February 22, 2017 Baker Blog, Bread, Bread Recipes, Recipes, Whole Grains
steamed boston brown bread with raisins

With all the sweets we’ve been gobbling down (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Marmalade…. yep, it adds up!) we wanted to bring you (and ourselves) something a little more hearty and whole grain. Enter that age old comfort food – steamed Boston brown bread. Perfect as a breakfast treat smeared with cream cheese, or alongside a simple and satisfying pot of beans. There’s something so comforting in the combination of a hearty, slightly sweet bread and a savory bowl of beans or soup! 

For this recipe, you can use clean 16 oz cans with just the tops removed, or if you don’t have those sitting around you can use a few wide mouth pint size canning jars. Just be sure to only cover with buttered foil as instructed in the recipe, because this baby expands! We don’t recommend trying to make these in any jars smaller than 16 oz, in our test, the dough got a little too big for it’s britches and then fell over in our pot! But if you follow our instructions, this is a hearty, satisfying whole grain loaf that is perfect for eating along side some bean soup or Boston baked beans. 

steamed boston brown bread loaf sliced with raisins

Boston Brown Bread

yields 3 small loaves


1 cup stone ground cornmeal (5 oz)

1 cup rye flour (3 1/2 oz)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (2 3/4 oz)

1/2 cup all purpose flour (2 1/2 oz)

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup raisins or currants

3/4 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)

2 cups buttermilk



Dutch oven or large pot

Small wire rack, canning rack or clean kitchen towel

3 – 16 oz clean cans, or 3 wide mouth pint canning jars


Butter for greasing the foil and cans or jars


Set up the steaming station: Get a large pot or Dutch oven and place on the stove. Put a round wire rack (canning rack works well) or put a towel in the bottom of it.

Butter three 16 oz clean cans, or 3 wide mouth pint canning jars. Cut three squares of foil, each on large enough to cover the top of a can/jar. Butter the foil and set the foil and jars aside.

Make the dough: Combine all of the dry ingredients and the raisins or currants in a large bowl, add the molasses and buttermilk to the bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Divide the batter between the buttered 16 oz cans or wide mouth pint canning jars, tightly cover the cans or jars with a piece of buttered foil and place in a Dutch oven or stock pot and fill the pot with enough hot water to come halfway up the can or jar. Cover the pot and simmer on low for about 2 hours. Check the water level now and again and maintain the water level halfway up the cans by adding additional boiling water. The bread is done when a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Carefully take the cans out of the water bath and cool 15 minutes on a dry kitchen towel (do not set on a cold counter top, this could cause the canning jar to break). Remove loaves from cans or jars and serve warm or allow to cool completely. The bread will keep a day or two in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.


Stone ground cornmeal is best as it’s coarse texture really stands out but regular cornmeal will work just fine.

If you do not have buttermilk you can make a substitute by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of milk and letting it stand for 5 minutes. The acid from the lemon will thicken the milk a bit and allow the baking soda to work it’s leavening magic.

I like to pour some hot water over my raisins and let them plump up for about 15 minutes, drain before using.

Spicy Chocolate Hearts

By February 13, 2017 Baker Blog, cookies, Desserts, Recipes
spicy heart cookies

It’s not too late to make somethings special for the sweeties in your life! These chocolate hearts have a little bit of spice from cinnamon and cayenne, and a little bit of sweet from the sprinkles and icing. 

heart cookies

This recipe comes together really easily and is perfect for baking up with the kids! The decorating is the funnest part. Making these during a Valentine’s themed party and having lots of sprinkles and icing in pre-mixed colors is a super fun way to celebrate this holiday. 

heart cookies

For the icing, mix up a batch of royal icing as in in the recipe, or follow this method with just powdered sugar and milk, using a thicker mixture to “outline” the heart, and thinner mixture to “paint” the inside. You can also keep things simple and sweet by just melting white chocolate and drizzling it on the cookie. 

If any cookies break, just have fun with it! Play off the concept of a broken heart. 🙂 

broken heart cookie

Spicy Valentine Chocolate Hearts
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  1. 3 c flour
  2. 1 1/2 c. cocoa powder (the darker, the better)
  3. 1/4 tsp. salt
  4. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  5. 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 3 sticks or 12oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  7. 1 3/4 c. sugar
  8. 2 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix until well combined. The dough will be stiff. Divide the dough in half and wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour.
  3. Roll out the dough on a floured counter or board to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out heart shapes in various sizes. You can gently knead the scraps and re-roll once. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes for large hearts, 7 minutes for medium hearts, and 4 minutes for very small hearts. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely while preparing the frosting or white chocolate if using.
  1. If you are using sprinkles, add those to the raw cut out hearts on the baking sheet just before baking.
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Royal Icing
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  1. 1 egg white (or 1 T. meringue powder and 2 T water)
  2. 1 c powdered sugar
  3. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine until smooth, add more powdered sugar to desired consistency, pipe or spread on the cookies as you like. Allow to dry for 1 hour before wrapping.
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Super Bowl Snacks

By February 2, 2017 party, quick, Recipes, Snacks
hummus and vegetables

It’s Super Bowl time and that always comes with some delicious, indulgent snacks….which brings me to a little food memory. 

Super Bowl Then: 

When I was growing up Super Bowl Sunday meant spending the day at my grandparents house with the whole family and LOTS of snacks!  We had cheese and crackers and vegetables with ranch dip, and nuts and pretzels, but the family favorite by far was potato chips and “Clam Jam”.  While the name sounds kinda awful, the dip is yummy!

hummus and clam dip spread

The dip is a thick mixture of cream cheese and chopped canned clams seasoned with Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.  The recipe is easy; take an 8 ounce block of cream cheese at room temperature and mix in one 6.5 ounce can of chopped clams, drained.  Reserve the clam juice and add to the cheese/clam mixture until the dip is a creamy scoop-able consistency of your liking then season to taste with Worcestershire and Tabasco.  Serve with sturdy potato chips and veggies.  The dip can be made ahead and kept refrigerated until the game starts.

Super Bowl Now:

Ok, fast forward 30 years and eating big bowls of cream cheese is kinda off my radar… new fave for game day is Hummus and veggies.  I am a big fan of cooking chickpeas in my pressure cooker.  I put dry beans in the cooker and cover with a generous amount of water, at least 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans.  Then pressure cook on high for 35 minutes.  The beans will be cooked to a lovely softness, ideal for whirring up into a silky hummus.

chickpeas being blended

blended hummus in a food processor

A little side note here……do not overfill your pressure cooker or add baking soda to the beans before you cook them.  Some popular recipes call for adding a pinch of baking soda to the beans to help the skins come off (this only works if NOT using a pressure cooker).  When I put the beans and baking soda in my cooker, bad things happened, learn from my mistake, I urge you!  The skins did indeed come off and one of them clogged the pressure cooker.  Before I realized that the little rocking noise my old school pressure cooker makes when it is cooking, gently keeping the pressure steady as it cooks, had stopped (big warning signal!) the pressure valve did what it is designed to do and blew off!  Suddenly 240 degree chickpeas were squirting violently out of the tiny hole in the lid of the cooker, spraying chickpea puree all over my stove and cupboards!  This went on for many minutes until the pressure was released and all the chickpeas were coating my kitchen, ugh.  If this happens to you (and I hope it never does) grab a kitchen towel and throw it over your pressure cooker to keep the beans from spewing out then carefully move to the sink and run cold water over the whole shebang until the drama is over.  Then enjoy the opportunity to give your kitchen a thorough cleaning!

But aside from all that, cooking beans in the pressure cooker really will make a smooth, creamy hummus. So here’s my recipe for a great super bowl snack: 

Serves 8
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
  1. 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (you can use canned but freshly cooked are far better)
  2. 1/2 cup tahini
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  6. 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  7. 2 tablespoons cold water
  1. Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and blend for 5 minutes. 5 minutes will seem like a long time but trust me, it will make a wonderful silky smooth dip. Taste the hummus and adjust the seasoning with more salt and/or lemon juice. Refrigerate for an hour or two before serving for a firmer dip. Serve with sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, or pita chips. The hummus will keep refrigerated for up to 4 days.
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Classic Lemon Bars

By January 12, 2017 Baker Blog, Baking, Desserts, easy, In Season Now, Recipes
lemon bars slice of life show

Citrus is in season right now and mouth-puckeringly delicious! There’s Cara Cara oranges, grapefruits, clementines and cuties (one of our favorite snacks). And, of course, our old favorite: the lemon. Lemons are available year round, unlike some of the other citrus that is available right now. My mom always made these in the rotation of cookies and bars that we had around as treats. 

This recipe makes a small pan, so it’s perfect if you don’t want (or need!) them hanging around too long or if there’s just a few of you at home. 

It starts with a simple crust that has powdered sugar in it instead of the regular granulated sugar. This makes the crust light and dissolve on your tongue, while still being incredibly rich. 

classic lemon bars slice of life

Since this is a small batch of lemon bars, you only need a couple of lemons. The recipe actually calls for one lemon, but you could add in more lemon juice if you like it extra lemony. 

This recipe comes together pretty quickly. First, make the crust. The crust is butter, sugar, flour and a pinch of salt that is best mixed together with your fingers. You want the texture of course cracker crumbs here, with a couple large pieces here and there. 

lemon bar crust mixture

Then you just press it evenly into your pan. Buttering the pan first is a good idea 🙂 

Bake it for 20 minutes, and meanwhile mix up your filling with a hand mixer. 

lemon bars slice of life show

Pour filling onto crust: 

lemon bar filling pre baking

And bake for 20 more minutes. Let cool then cut into 9 bars (or smaller, if you want these bite sized. My mom said to do 16 squares)

Dust with powdered sugar before serving. 

lemon bars the slice of life show

These are rich, classic and a sunny treat for this stormy time of year. 

Lemon Bars
Yields 9
Rich and tangy lemon bars.
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For the crust
  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  3. 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  4. pinch of salt
For the filling
  1. 2 eggs
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. Juice of 1 lemon, or 2 if you like things extra tart
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, blend the flour, butter, powdered sugar and salt, working the butter with your fingers until it resembles course cracker crumbs.
  2. Butter an 8x8 baking pan. Press the crumbly crust mixture into the pan in an even layer. Poke it with a fork to allow steam to escape and prevent bubbles. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, until golden lightly brown on the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl add the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, baking powder and salt. Beat with a hand mixer on medium-low until combined, about 3 minutes. Pour over the baked crust and bake for another 18-20 minutes, until lightly brown on top. Do not overtake.
  4. Let cool and slice into 9 (or 16) squares. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
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 Here’s a couple other citrus recipes to get your dose of vitamin C!

Satsuma Marmalade

Lemon Ice Cream

Orange Sunshine Buns

Sourdough English Muffins

By January 5, 2017 Baker Blog, Baking, Breakfast, Recipes
sourdough english muffins slice of life

It’s cold out there, and we’re enjoying hanging out in the warm kitchen and baking up some delicious sourdough english muffins. The great thing about these is their crunchy cornmeal crust, the sourdough flavor, the high rise they get, the… oh who are we kidding, there’s nothing we don’t love about these! My favorite thing about them is that I made them after the holidays, so there’s no house guests to hog them all 🙂 

They are easy and fast too. Let’s get started! These came from one of those old Church cookbooks our mothers or grandmothers probably have on the cookbook shelf: 

sourdough english muffins

The night before you want to mix together some of your sourdough starter milk, and flour. Set this in your oven with the oven light on. Yep, that’s right. It’s a perfect place to keep your doughs and starters at an excellent temperature for fermenting and rising — especially when the house is a little chillier then usual. 

Then the next day (whenever you are ready to finish these, it doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning) add a little more flour, salt, sugar and baking soda to your sourdough mixture. 

sourdough english muffins that are so easy to make. Start them the night before. From The Slice of Life Show

Cutting these into rounds and shaping them is fun, just cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Put them on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, and then add an extra sprinkle of cornmeal all over the dough balls (that’s how they get the cornmeal CRUNCH!) After 30 minutes, they are ready to cook in a skillet.

And that’s it! Just in time for tea and marmalade

Sourdough English Muffins
Yields 8
Crispy and easy sourdough english muffin to wow your family with.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
  1. 1/2 cup sourdough starter (see our sourdough post if you don't have a starter yet)
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 3 cups flour, divided
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon sugar
  6. 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  7. Cornmeal for dusting
  8. Organic vegetable shortening or canola oil
  1. The night before, mix the sourdough starter in a medium bowl with 1 cup of milk and 2 cups of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place or in the oven with the oven light on.
  2. The next morning, uncover and mix with 1 cup flour, salt, sugar and baking soda with a wooden spoon. It may seem a little dry, but kneading usually improves the texture.
  3. Knead the dough on the counter until smooth and elastic, adding a little flour if necessary to keep if from sticking too much. Cut the dough into 8 pieces and form into balls (flatten the balls slightly to make them more biscuit shaped.
  4. Generously sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Place the rounds on the baking sheet with about an inch and a half space between them. Sprinkle cornmeal on top of the rounds as well.
  5. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat a skillet or cast iron pan to 300 degrees, or medium low. Put one tablespoon of shortening or butter in the pan to coat. Bake the rounds in the skillet with a lid slightly ajar for 8-15 minutes on each side, depending on how fast they brown.
  7. Serve immediately or let cool on a wire rack and store in the fridge for up to one month.
  1. These turn out taller and thicker then store bought english muffins, so in some cases the outsides may brown faster then the inside can cook. In that case, bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes on a baking sheet.
  2. Butter can make the cornmeal taste like buttered popcorn, which isn't ideal in this case. Shortening or a neutral tasting fat works best for cooking these.
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