Recipes/ How To

Life Long Friends and Cake

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   Honey Buns- I do love me a good cinnamon-y, warm, gooey honey bun! This cake here, it’s even better than a honey bun!

   I discovered this recipe about a year ago and let me tell you- every time I make it, it disappears like speedy fast.

   The blog where it came from is a wonderful, homey place. I am including the link to her recipe, where you can look around her blog.

http://myhomemdelife.blogspot.com/2010/12/that-70s-breakfasthoney-bun-coffee-cake.html

   One of the best things about this recipe is the ingredients are staples, so I can whip it up last minute! I’ve made a few for auctions and they always do well.

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How could you go wrong with all that cinnamon and brown sugar swirled into a tender cake?? I mean…..just look at that!

   Okay, so let’s talk about that cake pan for a minute. It’s not one of my beautiful, new-fangled, fancy cake pans. It’s 22 years old, it’s kinda bent up, it’s not pretty but I love it because it means a lot to me.

   I got married 22 years ago and my best friend in the world bought that for me for my wedding shower. And I think about her every time I get it out.  I am so glad to have a friend that I can always count on and whom I love dearly.

   Okay, now back to that cake! Here’s the final result:

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You see it’s already being devoured? I had to act fast to snap a pic! Now as a disclaimer- this is not what I consider “real food”, but like I’ve stated before, I strive for 50-75% “real food”overall. I mean I am a realist….and I do love cake!

   I hope you enjoy this cake like me and my family do. Have a blessed weekend!

  It’s dreary and rainy here, so looks like I’ll be working in the shop and around the house today. I’d love to hear back from y’all!

 

Eating Real Food, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Recipes/ How To, Weekly Meal Planners

How to Meal Plan Like a BOSS!

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Okay y’all, so it’s a weeknight, about 5 pm and you have no idea what’s for supper and you are in a panic. Sound familiar? Yep, we’ve all been there before!

  So let’s talk meal planning. I’m going to give you tips so you can meal plan like a BOSS! You’ll know exactly what meals you have all the ingredients for, what’s fast and easy and what you’re saving for when you have more time in the kitchen.

   To start this meal planning lesson, let’s start right in your kitchen: do a quick mental inventory (or if you’re obsessive like me, jot it down)  of what you’ve already got on hand. This will save you money, you won’t be buying extra stuff you really didn’t need. This list will be our base for the meal planner.

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 Check your freezer, fridge and pantry. Please overlook my messy-ness, apparently I need some help with organizing!

   Once you have your “inventory” list, you’re ready to start planning! Now this is where it’ll be a bit different for everyone: I plan for 6 meals for each week, we usually go out one night a week. When planning, I may jot down specific meals for specific nights, but it can always be swapped around. I try to plan for leftovers, for my lunches. I typically plan 2-3 chicken dishes, 1-2 beef dishes, 1-2 pork dishes and 1-2 “other” dishes (like pizza, hot dogs, tuna sandwiches, fish, etc).

   I keep a list of meals my family likes in a little notebook. I have them categorized by meat type: chicken/beef/pork/ other. I also have them marked with a star if they’re for the slow cooker. If I’m wanting something different/new I turn to my old pal Pinterest! How did we survive without it? I will only add one or two “new” things per week, because my bunch is picky and we tend to stick with old stand-byes. I don’t cook super fancy, we tend to like basic type foods.

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  Here’s my pretty notebook (I’m kind of a notebook geek, I have way too many!) that I keep meals we love written in. This little step makes meal planning much quicker.

  The last step is matching up meals with what you’ve got and making your grocery list. So just based on my inventory (as seen in above pics) I’ll jot down a quick plan:

1. Chicken Fajitas

2. Marinated Grilled Chicken and Grilled Asparagus

3. Pulled Pork sandwiches and Potato Wedges

4. Green Chile/Pork Nachos

5. Meaty Italian Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

6. Tuna/Egg Salad with Veggies and Dip

   Now I would look at each meal and see what components I was missing, grocery shop once for those items and be eating for the week!

   Here’s a link to a weekly meal planner template that I love! It has spots for planning breakfasts/lunches too! And a grocery list on the side. I keep one printed out and use them.

https://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html

 

   There you have it! No more wondering  “What’s for dinner?”. And no more looking forward to a specific meal, then not having all the ingredients for it on hand. By planning out meals, it’ll save you stress, time and money.

  I hope you all have a very blessed day! If you have questions/comments I would love to hear from y’all!

Eating Real Food, Recipes/ How To

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner???

So I had some chicken and wanted to try something new- turned to trusty old Pinterest for some inspiration. I saw a one dish chicken and veggies that took just about an hour to bake, didn’t call for crazy weird ingredients and could be easily modified.

So here is my gathering of the ingredients:

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I decided to go with potatoes and broccoli for the two side veggies. I seasoned all well with a season salt type seasoning, some onion flakes and some jarred garlic. I mixed all this in a small bowl with a few TBSP melted butter and a few TBSP olive oil. I placed my chicken and veggies in the pan and drizzled with the season mixture. Topped with foil and baked for 30 minutes like that.

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Here’s what it looked like going into the oven. After 30 minutes I added a small pkg of bacon pieces and about 4oz shredded cheddar. Covered with foil and baked another 30 minutes. (and yes- I know those fake bacon pieces are terrible for you-it’s all about balance! This dinner is mostly “real” and healthy. You could omit the bacon and cheese if you wanted)

So, I didn’t get an “after” pic- hubby dug into it! He liked this much better than I did. It was just an “okay” for me.

The chicken wasn’t flavored as much as I would’ve liked and was a bit dry. The broccoli was mushy and the potatoes were really good.

So, I will be playing with this concept- just changing it up a bit! I am going to attempt it again- only next time I will marinate my chicken overnight in Italian dressing, I will use fresh chopped onions, and will only bake the potato chunks on the side (I will just steam my broccoli like I usually do).

So- trial and error! The story of my life! Stay tuned for a much better (fingers crossed) version of this bake!

In life we all have some ups and downs, some great successes and some super flops! Learning from our flops is the key! I hope all have a super Blessed week! It’s a cool rainy day here- feels like fall! God Bless!

Eating Real Food, Recipes/ How To

Healthy Black Bean Burritos with Quinoa

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Looking for a filling, healthy, yet still super yummy supper? Look no further! You’ll get a whopping 2 big burritos per serving for around 500 calories.

These burritos are packed with protein, they’re filled with ground turkey, black beans, quinoa,salsa, and a bit of shredded cheddar.

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I started with cooking and crumbling 8oz  lean ground turkey,added some dry onion flakes, minced garlic and a dash of fajita seasoning.Then I drained and rinsed a can of black beans and added to the skillet. I then added about 1/2 cup cooked quinoa and about 1/2 cup salsa.This mixture was heated through.

I used whole wheat tortillas, filled each with about 1/4 cup filling and added 1 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese. These were so filling!!

Hope all are having a super summer- it’s winding down!! I go back to work tomorrow- then school starts next week. My daughters’ wedding is also just 6 weeks away, so it’s getting hectic around here!! May all have a blessed week!!

Eating Real Food, Homesteading, Recipes/ How To

Home Canned Salsa- Eating Real Food

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So it is that time of year- all those luscious fruits and veggies are coming off by the bushel! Time to do some preserving. Time to tromp out to the storage building and dig out my canning stuff. Time to heat up the kitchen for a good cause. Time to make some real, yummy foods!

Now this day I made homemade salsa to can. I am planning to can diced tomatoes later this week. Then some peaches later in the summer.

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Look at all that yumminess! Around here we go through a lot of salsa, and homemade is always better! My bunch had to have a bowl fresh before I started to can it up!

Now we all have an old standby when it comes to canning or even just salsa making, here’s mine:

Ripe tomatoes, blanched/peeled/chopped

Fresh Jalapeno, finely chopped (seeds removed)

Bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped fine

Yellow onions, finely chopped

Juice of a lime or two

Salt

I start by blanching (just dropping into boiling water/followed by a dunk into ice water) my fresh tomatoes, then slip the skin off, core and chop into very small dices. Wash and chop all other ingredients. I use about 8c chopped tomatoes to every 3 small/medium peppers, 2 medium onion and a bunch of cilantro. I mix in a large bowl and taste. Now it seems a bit bland- but I add my salt to each jar so I know they each have the exact right amount needed to preserve them. I use 1/2 tsp salt per pint jar, added right before placing the hot band/lid on top.

They then go into my pressure cooker to be pressure cooked for 25 minutes. Let cool on the counter on a towel.

Don’t let a pressure cooker intimidate you- just read the instructions carefully when using one. I do not use mine for cooking- although I know people that do. I bought mine strictly for canning.

Hope all have a Blessed week! I am finishing up a few wedding projects this week and getting ready to go back to school!

Eating Real Food, Homesteading, Recipes/ How To

Strawberry Jam Time!

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Gathering my supplies! Now I know some people say that canning is expensive, and to get started, yes it is, but many of the supplies can be used over and over again. I have had my large hot water bath canner, pressure cooker, jars, wide mouth funnel, and rubber coated jar tongs for many years and will use them for years to come. The things that must be replaced yearly are really just the lids, I re-use my bands as long as they are free from any rust or dents. The lids are fairly inexpensive to replace yearly, a few dollars a dozen around my area. I also use the pectin when making my jellies and jams, which is a bit expensive. (I usually use the powdered pectin, but the store was out so I tried this gel pectin this time)  The fruits/veggies you use can be cheap or free, depending upon where you get them. A friend gave me a huge box of mulberries a few years ago, so the only cost in the jelly was my lids and pectin, which was a total of around $4 for around 15 jars of jelly.

Now you can make jams and jellies without adding the pectin, because pectin is a naturally occurring substance in many fruits, it just makes it a bit quicker and the jams/jellies set up nice. I just follow the directions on the package of the fruit pectin for my jam. The store bought pectin is safe and natural, made from apple pectin.

Now to preserve those delicious summer berries!! (Peaches to follow later this summer!)

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I like my jam chunky, so I leave my berries in small chunks and mash just a bit as it boils and cooks down.Measure out the washed/cut up fruit into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and let sit for a bit. The recipe I use is here:

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/certo-strawberry-jam-52127.aspx

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I do not add the butter, I just use a spoon and skim off the foam that forms on the top.

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I go ahead and begin bringing my water in my big pot to a boil, because it takes a while. My canner has a rack in the bottom, so the jars are not sitting directly on the bottom of the pan.

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I use the small jelly jars, because it seems fresher to open a new jar more often. They are also very pretty for gift giving! A large mouth funnel is a must for jam/jelly making, I bought mine at a local dollar store for a few bucks years ago.

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Once the jam has cooked according to the directions, ladle it into the jars, leaving a space at the top of the jar. Wipe off the rims of the jars to ensure a good seal.

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The rings and lids should be placed into boiling water, then using tongs place on the prepared jars of jam, I use a dish towel to tighten them down, as they are very hot. Then using my handy dandy jar tongs, I carefully place the jars into the boiling water canner rack and boil the specified time. When I remove them from the canner, I place on a clean dry towel on my counter, they will start popping (sealing) within a few minutes. Always check to make sure they’ve sealed, if they do not seal, just place in fridge to use first.

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Now it’s time to eat it! If your family loves strawberry ice cream topping or topping for waffles and pancakes, you can just leave out the fruit pectin( or cut in half the amount) and make yourself some topping. My family loves this! Make it just the same, just without (or less) pectin. It will not set up like jam, but will be pourable, perfect for toppings!

Summer break for school has officially begun (although I have a few more days to work in my office) and I am so excited for summer! We are planning a few short trips this summer and I am so ready! I hope all have a very blessed week ahead!!

Recipes/ How To

Fresh Strawberry Pie- Tastes Like Summer to Me!

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Okay, so for me the taste of summer is fresh strawberries and grilled anything! I just love summer: swimming, staying up a little later, spending time with family. So in honor of it being so close- I am sharing with you my recipe, well actually my mother-in-laws’ recipe for fresh strawberry pie. Enjoy!

I was able to visit a local Amish farm and purchase some mouth watering, just picked berries. Oh my were they ever delicious. My family and I ate 2 whole containers upon arriving home with them. I love getting fruits and veggies from their farm, I know they will be fresh and organic. I also bought some bedding plants for the garden from them, for my own fresh veggies later in the summer.

So I know that this is not all “real food”, I mean jello and cool whip? Yes, I know those are fake junk,but remember I strive for somewhere around the 70-80% mark on my real food, I mean I still live in the real world.

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Here’s what you’re gonna need to make some yummy pie:

1 small box strawberry jello (I have never used the sugar free, I am guessing you could, the texture just might be different)

1 cup water                                               1 1/4c sugar (again, never used Splenda or anything, but suppose you could)

2Tbsp cornstarch                                        1/2 quart fresh strawberries

Baked Pie Shell (I cheated and used a frozen one)                Cool Whip

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Start by washing/stemming and chopping up berries. I chop mine up pretty small, but that’s really up to you.

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In a saucepan mix jello, sugar, cornstarch and water together. Cook and stir over low medium until mixture is bubbling and getting thicker.Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the berries to this and pour into prepared pie shell (already baked). Place in fridge for a few hours until completely set up. Serve with Cool Whip if desired.

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Look at all that yumminess on that one little plate, oh my! I would love to hear what you think of when you think of summer, what are your “summer flavors” ?

I hope all are having a super awesome week so far- and Happy Friday to all! Have a blessed day!

Eating Real Food, Recipes/ How To

Brownies That are Healthy? Shut the Front Door!

Okay so I love a good brownie, a peanut butter brownie, a hot fudge brownie, a cream cheese swirl brownie,well you get the idea. So, since I am on the quest for better health through better nutrition, I sought out a healthier version of brownies, so I could have my cake and eat it to- so to speak.

Pinterest to the rescue! It brought me a ton of options for healthier brownies, one of which was Black Bean Brownies. So I sorted through a bunch of those and narrowed it to just one to try, and the results were a hit!

DSC_0014Right out of the pan- hot and fresh!

So I went here to find the original posters recipe:   http://mmmisformommy.com/2011/05/legendary-black-bean-brownie.html

I then tweaked them a bit more, for my families preferences and the reduce sugar further.

With the recipe I include below, cut into 16 squares, each brownie has roughly 90 calories, 3g protein, 3g fat and 1g fiber. I liked these, granted they are not a hot fudge brownie, they also do not have 250 calories, a ton of fat and no other “good” nutrients.

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Black Bean Brownies

1 can Black Beans, unseasoned, well rinsed and drained                             3 eggs

3 Tbsp Coconut Oil (or vegetable oil)                                                         2/3c sugar

1/4c cocoa powder                                                                                   1 tsp baking powder

1/4tsp salt

In a blender or food processor, puree rinsed/drained beans, coconut oil and eggs until smooth. (I used my Magic Bullet) In a mixing bowl combine cocoa, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the bean mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.

Pour into a greased 8×8 square pan. Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes, or until tests done in middle. Cool and cut into 16 even squares. Enjoy the yumminess!

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I shared these with my co-workers and most liked them, some thought the texture was weird. I also made them for a school fair to focus on nutrition and most of the kids liked them, though again, some did not. The kids were ages pre-k through 6th.

I hope all have a very blessed upcoming week! We have this week and next until summer break!

Recipes/ How To

Low Carb Meal Prepping is Key to Staying on Track!

So for the past few years I have been trying to stick with a lower carb diet, which is in my opinion, much healthier. It is not always easy, as most fast food is not anything like low carb. Even in the grocery store, most “quick” and easy to prepare stuff is just mostly junk.

So again, meal prepping and/or freezer cooking comes in handy to stick to my plan. Here I planned for the upcoming week and “prepped” many of the meals or components of the meals.

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First off I jotted down my planner for breakfasts/lunches/dinners and snack foods.

Breakfasts- Protein shakes, scrambled eggs, or egg in a mug

Lunches- Salads, wraps, and leftovers

Snacks- veggies with ranch, fruit cups (or fresh fruit), cheese sticks, and beef sticks

Dinners- 1. Chicken Fajitas

2. Polish Sausage/ Saurkraut and sauteed peppers/onions

3. Coconut Lime Chicken Stew with Avocados

4. Pork Roast and green beans

5. Bacon-Jack Chicken and stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

6. Cheeseburger in a Bowl

7. Balsamic Chicken and Roasted Carrots

I then made a grocery list for what I was in need of (while looking in the freezers/pantry/fridge  for items I already had). Went and bought groceries.

Then I prepped any ingredients or meals I could ahead of time. I chopped onions and peppers up. I placed all ingredients for the balsamic chicken into a freezer bag and tossed into the freezer until about Thursday, to cook on Friday or Saturday. I placed all ingredients for the Coconut Lime Chicken Stew into a freezer bag, but placed in fridge, since I will be cooking Monday. I cooked and crumbled the hamburger meat and placed in bag in the fridge.

So the game plan is: Monday night toss the Coconut Lime Chicken Stew into the slow cooker, serve with chopped avocado and fresh cilantro

Tuesday night- Chicken Fajitas- (the peppers and onions are already chopped and ready to go- making this a very quick throw together meal) I will serve with Low Carb Tortillas

Wednesday night- Cheeseburger in a Bowl (will just take a few minutes, as meat is pre-cooked)

Thursday night- Pork Roast and Green Beans (both in slow cooker, making it a breeze when getting home from work)

Friday night- Bacon-Jack Chicken and Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers (the peppers were prepped and stuffed ahead, just bake for a bit and you’re ready!)

Saturday night- Balsamic Chicken and Roasted Carrots (this takes just a few minutes work- the balsamic chicken was prepped and ready to go)

Sunday night- Polish Sausage, Saurkraut and sauteed onions and peppers (the veggies were prepped- so super speedy!)

So there you have a week of super easy dinners- with just a little time on Saturday or Sunday, and it makes my work week so much easier!

Here are recipes to above (or links)

Cheeseburger in a Bowl

1lb ground round, cooked/crumbled                    1/2c cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4c chopped dill pickle                                        1/4c ketchup

Squirt of Mustard and some season all (I used Cavanders)     4 slices American cheese

Mix all but the American cheese together, place in a square baking dish. Top with American cheese. Bake at 350* for about 15 minutes. We eat ours out of a bowl. (I think it tastes like a Big mac)

For the Bacon-Jack Chicken, I just take 4 equal sized pieces of boneless chicken breast and marinate in Italian salad dressing. Grill until cooked through. Place each piece of cooked chicken in a foil square (to make a packet), place 2 pieces cooked bacon on top and place shredded pepper jack cheese on top of bacon. Bake at 350 for a few minutes in foil packs.(you just want cheese melted good)

For Jalapeno  Poppers, slice jalapeno peppers in half, stuff with a mixture of cream cheese, garlic powder, shredded cheddar, and salt. Wrap each half with half slice bacon and bake at 350 for about 13 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

For the pork roast, I really don’t have any recipe in particular I use, I just use one off Pinterest, or just season up with whatever strikes me at the time. ( I really love the Weber seasonings, the Roasted Garlic is my fave. Also love citrus flavors with pork.)

For my green beans- I just place a few bags frozen whole green beans into slow cooker, I add some dried onion flakes, chopped ham (or bacon if you have a slice or two leftover) a dash of liquid smoke and a bit of beef or chicken broth. Cook in slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours.

For Balsamic Chicken- 1lb chicken (boneless/skinless), 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 small onion chopped, 1/4c balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1tsp Italian seasoning,and 1 Tbsp chopped garlic. Place all in the slow cooker and cook on low 6 hours or so. (you can freeze this and place in slow cooker from frozen- which I do a lot)

For the Coconut Lime Chicken Stew is from a website I really love called Satisfying Eats,which can be found here: http://www.satisfyingeats.com

I use boneless skinless chicken for mine, about 1lb, 2/3c coconut milk, 1/3c fresh lime juice,,1can diced tomatoes, 1Tbsp chopped garlic, 2 chopped bell peppers, 1 small onion, chopped, and a dash of Siracha sauce.Place all n slow cooker and cook on low around 6 hours. I serve with fresh chopped cilantro and diced avocado.

Here’s to a week of great eats!! And remember, prepping ahead can make your work week much less stressful and will also help keep you on track! Have a Blessed Week!!

Recipes/ How To

Low Carb Protein Shake, That Tastes Great!

So I have been chunky pretty much my whole life, and have tried every diet out there.But  2 years ago I started having some high blood sugar readings and decided it was time to make a lifestyle change. I am losing weight as a very slow pace, but am okay with that. It took me a long time to put it all on and it may take a while to get it all off.

I decided low carb was the best lifestyle for all of us, so I have been slowly trying to get adapted to that. I try to replace high carb items with low carb: like cauliflower “rice” for stir fry or casseroles, low carb tortillas for wraps/fajitas/soft tacos, and revolution rolls (or oopsie rolls) for burger buns or sandwiches. (I love them for a sausage and “biscuit”)

Breakfast can get a little boring with eggs all the time, so I have been trying new breakfast items and decided to try a whey protein shake. It was yummy! My 16 year old son loves them too! We have them several days a week because they’re fast and portable.

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Just blend together 8oz unsweet almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (I use Body Fortress super advanced, it has just 6g carb per scoop) and 2Tbsp PB2. I use a Magic Bullet blender and blend well. This still has some texture from the whey powder. I put it in the freezer for a bit while I get ready and drink on way to work. It is better served very cold.

I haven’t tried yet, but wonder if this would work for ice cream in my little ice cream maker? Might try it and results will follow!

I hope all have a very blessed week ahead! I will be busy, I have some baby puppies right now and one of my boys is under the weather, and we may be headed to the vet this afternoon. Bring joy to someone around you today!! God Bless!!