Despite How It May Seem…

I’m still alive. Just busy as bees around these parts. I have taken lots of pictures the past couple of weeks of various things I’ve been up to in the kitchen to include canning. Lots and lots of canning. It’s nice to know that skill, and it is really pretty simple, just a lot of sweaty work. We also bought some wheat from a farmer friend at our church, and I had been busy grinding some wheat into flour with a borrowed grain mill. David did a lot of the work. He had the day off from work to get some school stuff done, but he ended up helping me an awful lot in the kitchen, even shredding some cheese (one of my least favorite things to do) for lunch later on. He should take days off more often! Anyway, I will, Lord willing, be posting pictures of my adventures here in the next few days. I have taken so many that it will probably take me awhile to load them all on here. But I am really excited to share them.

For now, since it’s getting late and I still have some housework to do, I will refer you to a really great blog I found the other day. The lady’s name is Laura and her blog, called Heavenly Homemakers, is not only enjoyable to read, but she has some great recipes and lots of other helpful information as well. She also has some e-books you can purchase I used her pizza crust recipe tonight for dinner. I was really intrigued because it only had four ingredients, and not all of them were your standard pizza crust ingredients either; just flour, salt, yogurt, and butter. But wow! It was SO good! The kids really liked it too. I will admit, I was a bit surprised that it called for a cup of butter, but my friend, Cara, gave it rave reviews so I decided to give it a try. I was able to use my freshly ground flour! The dough ended up being soft and very easy to handle. I have trouble sometimes with whole wheat dough because it’s usually harder to work with. This dough, on the other hand, was great! One thing I will do next time is bake it a little before I put all the toppings on as it was kind of difficult to tell when the pizza was done. The crust ended up being a softer, moister crust, maybe from the butter. It really was great. One thing about it is that it is very filling as well, probably because of all the fiber and the higher fat content.

I should have taken pictures BEFORE we ate but maybe taking an after picture will just show you how much we liked it because of how little is left. The pizza below was made with a homemade pizza sauce, hamburger, onions, jalapeños, and cheese of course. It was really good as you can see.

hamburger, onion, jalapeño, and cheese pizza

This next pizza was made with leftover, cut up steak from some burritos the other day, jalapeños, mushrooms, and onions. The sauce was actually Alfredo sauce, just to boost the fat content a little in case we weren’t getting enough 🙂 We still have quite a bit left over. I could have gotten away with just fixing one pizza, but then we wouldn’t be enjoying it tomorrow.

steak, onion, mushroom, jalapeno, and cheese pizza with alfredo sauce

I’ll leave you with that, to tempt your tastebuds a bit. Goodnight!

Harvest Time and Chipotle Burritos (and a recipe!)

Last week was a busy week. I got oodles (since Firefox didn’t underline that word with a little red squiggly, I’m totally using it) of peaches! We have a neighbor across the street who very kindly let us pick some off her tree. On top of that, a dear man from church gave us peaches from his trees as well. Last Saturday, I was on my feet nearly all day. It was fun/exhausting. My friend, Cara, posted pictures of her baking spree. She makes her own crusts. I don’t. I’ve accepted my flaw. 🙂 I didn’t take any pictures, and all the things I’ve made are now nice and cold in my deep freezer. But! I was able to get some apples today because right next door to the peach tree was an apple tree and some more kind neighbors! I am not sure what I’ll make but a pie or two sounds yummy, maybe some apple butter. The things I made last Saturday are peach muffins (used peach puree that I made in the food processor), applesauce muffins (from homemade applesauce), and peach crisps. I also made fruit leather (think fruit roll-ups) and dried peaches. The only problem was that I let them dehydrate for too long and the driedpeaches are more like peach chips and the fruit leather was a bit chewy. Lesson learned. I’m thinking of trying my hand at canning too. I love this time of year. Tomorrow the high temperature is only supposed to be in the 60s. Sounds like a soup day!

Here is the recipe for the applesauce muffins and peach muffins I made. I used the same recipe for both but substituted the peach puree for the applesauce when I made the peach muffins. I also inadvertently made the applesauce muffins fat free. I put the margarine in the microwave to melt…and forgot it. David came into the kitchen and made the comment that it smelled like popcorn. I thought that was weird. Until he opened the microwave. By that point, my muffin batter was already nicely poured into the muffin tins, awaiting their time in the oven. Whoops. They still worked though.

Easy Applesauce Muffins

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky applesauce


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with bake cups and set aside.
  2. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter on high for about 30 to 60 seconds; set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a large mixing bowl. When mixing dry and wet ingredients for muffins, gently stir just until the flour disappears. This will produce muffins with a nice crumbly texture.
  4. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar. Stir in the applesauce and melted butter until the mixture is smooth. For mess-free muffins, use an ice-cream scoop to spoon the batter into the bake cups.
  5. Pour the apple mixture over the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined (it’s ready when you can’t see any traces of flour).
  6. Fill the bake cups about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown.

On a side note, our dinner challenge is going great! We have less than 5 weeks left and have really tried to stick to our guns. On Monday, before my adventures in baking, some friends of ours bought us some Chipotle. For those of you who don’t know, Chipotle is THE BEST. Seriously, you need to find one. Now. Go. It’s too good to pass up. *waits patiently while you go get your burrito* See what I mean! I knew you’d thank me! We hadn’t been able to have Chipotle in quite awhile because of our dinner challenge so we were really looking forward to it. And it was good, my friends. Really good. So good that I ate all of it and wished I hadn’t. It was obvious I haven’t had a burrito from Chipotle in a long time.

I better wrap this one up. Until we meet again, adieu.

When Creamed Chicken and Sausage Cornbread Dressing Join Hands, the World Sings

Well, maybe my taste buds do anyway.

I tried two new recipes tonight from my More With Less cookbook. I highly recommend this cookbook. It has all kinds of wholesome recipes in it, gives directions on being frugal and eating nutritious meals. It even has directions on how to make lye soap, though I don’t intend to do that anytime soon. My mom gave this cookbook to me shortly after David and I were married. (Thanks, Mom!) I had forgotten I even had it until fairly recently and have been excited to try some recipes from there. The other day, I made some cornbread to go with some stew and had a bunch leftover. When I was looking through More With Less, there was a recipe for cornbread dressing which sounded really good. It had an option to serve it with creamed chicken, which is basically chopped, cooked chicken mixed in with a white sauce. I had all the ingredients (mostly) so decided to give it a try. I liked it! The kids didn’t, but that really didn’t surprise me much because if they had their way, their diet would consist of pizza and chicken fingers with an occasional trip to Chipotle every now and then. Oh well. They’ll thank me one day, I hope.

Oh yeah, you may have noticed my new look! That is all David‘s doing. It’s nice to have a web designer for a husband. He did some tinkering on my friend Cara’s blog and convinced me that I needed a new look too. I really, really like the new layout and especially the title. Thank you, David!

Over at the Crockpot Lady’s site, she posted a recipe that looks really good. I’m thinking about trying it but have folks over so I don’t end up gorging myself (though I might do that anyway and not leave them any). My tastebuds would probably be singing again but my waistline might be begging me for some serious crunches.

Our Great Dinner Challenge is going really well! I’ve definitely had to be more organized but I am enjoying having home-cooked meals and doing some experimenting while I’m at it. I am not even sure how many days we have left exactly but it’s roughly six weeks. I hope we can keep it up even after that, though. Eating at home is a good habit to get into, for sure.

Well, friends and family, it’s time to say adios. I’m about to go get my sweat on with a Denise Austin workout video. It’s going to be grand…

Doing the Next Thing…

I am busy. Busier now than I’ve probably ever been in my life. Staying busy is good. But there comes a point when I feel like I just can’t do it anymore. The other day, however, I came across a poem that was posted on a woman’s blog whose husband died of cancer just three months ago. He was not that much older than me and not only left behind his wife but three young children. The poem that she posted was written by a woman named Elisabeth Elliott whose husband was a missionary. She was eventually widowed twice. After the death of her first husband, she wrote a poem called, “Do the Next Thing.” I know my trials are relatively small compared to hers, but I found her thoughts helpful for my situation, too. When I get overwhelmed in the mornings, thinking about all that I have to get done for the day: do the next thing. When the laundry is piling up, the fridge is bare, and I have four hours of work ahead of me: do the next thing. When I get worried about tomorrow, wondering in my unbelief if God will provide for us: do the next thing. When my children are fighting, our car breaks down, and the amount in the bank doesn’t look like it can possibly carry us through the month: do the next thing. God gives his people grace as they need it. He will keep me going, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing whatever that may be. All of my worry, fear, unbelief, even my tears won’t make the busyness go away. “Do the next thing.” As Christ himself said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I will leave you with Elisabeth Elliott’s words to think about.

“Do the Next Thing”
Elisabeth Elliott

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Strong in his faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as he beckons thee,
Do the next thing.

*Apparently, this poem was not written by Elisabeth Elliott but was quoted by her (maybe in a book?) at some point. Regardless, it’s good!

You Do the Math…

Yesterday, the kids were playing a math game with just basic arithmetic problems. The first one my son got was 9 + 8. Thinking I would definitely have to help, I asked if he could try to figure it out. Hardly two seconds later, he said, “17.” I was really surprised that he got that right because we haven’t gotten to that part of math yet. A little while later at lunch, I said, “How did you know that 9 + 8 was 17?” And then he said, “Because, Mama, 8 + 8 is 16!,” in the type of voice that just said, “Duh, Mom!” It was pretty cute. Thinking my boy was a prodigy, he then proceeded to say, “And 9 + 9 is 19!” Ahem. At least he was close!

Challenge Day #6

Well, our dinner challenge has actually gone quite well so far! Day #6 of our dinner challenge, I believe we have about 70 days remaining (which also means David only has 70 days of school left! yay!). For today’s dinner, we are having ham and beans. I used to not like that meal as a kid, but I like it now, especially as it’s so economical and filling. I will be using leftover ham that I fixed a few days ago. Not exactly a summertime dish, but hey, I can do it in the crockpot and it’s easy (and cheap!).

Tomorrow’s dinner is a little bit in the air still. I was going to prepare chicken and rice but I decided to change one of my side dishes to hashbrown casserole and thought that if we had chicken and rice also that it would be too many starches. So, I’m going to be hunting down a main dish today. I also plan on posting some of these recipes I’ve been using. Right now, though, I need to go get some laundry started and straighten up the living room and kitchen. The weird part about today is that I’ve been awake – wide awake – since 5am and am not tired a bit! I really like it! I had my morning devotions, ate my breakfast and drank my coffee all before 8am! So, now I’m off to make good use of my time and get my house in order.

The Great Dinner Challenge

Okay, here goes nothing! As I mentioned in a recent post, I have been inspired by Stephanie in her decision to fix meals out of the crockpot for a whole year. While I don’t think I’m prepared to go that far, David and I have decided that we will not be going out to eat at all until he is done with school on September 29th (at which time we are going to par-tay! Oh yeah!). That will be 76 days from now. When I say “at all,” I mean unless something weird comes up or we end up going out of town to visit family, etc. I won’t be using my crockpot exclusively but probably for most meals. I love my crockpot! So, are ya with me?

Tonight’s meal was chicken noodle soup (with zucchini!) made in the crockpot with cinnamon raisin bread made in my bread machine. I’m for ease in case you can’t tell. Tomorrow’s menu will be ham with potatoes and broccoli. We usually like to have green beans with our ham but I forgot my list and remembered everything but the green beans, so we’re gonna make do with broccoli.

On a slightly different subject, I have come across some information about a really great blender called Vita-Mix. It seems so cool! You can even grind wheat into flour! And it’s a blender! The drawback? Um, it’s like $500+. Definitely not something I’ll be getting anytime soon. David’s school requires a down payment of our firstborn, so I think we might wait on the Vita-Mix!

It’s a little after 10 and I need to put some folded clothes away and make sure the kitchen is in order before bed. I hate waking up to a messy kitchen! G’nite!

The Verdict…and a Clarification

The cookies turned out great! Everyone likes them (and no one likes zucchini around here but me!). They have a subtle hint of cinnamon and chocolate chips so they have to be good, right? I couldn’t believe it when David told me he ate three in a row! I think I found me a keeper. Thanks for the recipe, April!

And to clarify…in my last post, I think I may have given the impression that I don’t cook around here very often. Believe it or not, I actuallly do prepare meals for my family. It just seems like lately we’ve been living off sandwiches or hotdogs or something easy to throw together, not necessarily the most nutritious (but we had fresh veggies and fruit with our hotdogs last night!). I think all of this comes from a lack of me being organized and life getting away with me. If I’m not organized for dinner, I get stressed out because I work until 7pm sometimes, and that’s when I pull out the ol’ lunchmeat. Sigh. I have never been an organized person, but I think if I present myself with a challenge, that may give me the “umph” I need to get with it. So, I’ll keep you all posted as I consider all of this. Today, I’m pulling out my crockpot recipes!

Of Cookies and Crockpots

Right now, I’m baking some cookies. These aren’t just any cookies either. They have a “secret ingredient!” I bet you really can’t guess, either (insert sarcasm). Yes, it is zucchini. My sister sent me the recipe (thanks April!). I don’t know how they’ll turn out but the dough tasted pretty good!

Meanwhile, I found this really neat website. She inspires me! My crockpot has really saved me on so many occasions but I never thought of challenging myself to do something like she has. This woman was even on the Rachael Ray show! I’m definitely stewing some ideas around in my little noggin. I think it would definitely present some challenges. I’d have to be more organized and do some planning ahead, but think of how wonderful it would be to have home-cooked food with just a little effort, everyday even! She’s even done creme brulee in the crockpot. Now that’s impressive! It looks like she has some really good recipes, too. Some of them seem pretty fancy. They’re gluten free for those who have celiac disease (apparently, she or someone in her family has this condition). I just think her whole challenge is really neat-o! I may be posting more about this in the future…

I Don’t Like Math…But I Do Like Cobbler!

Updated to add the recipe!

Mobile home skirting + super duper weed whacker + inexperienced handler of said weed whacker (a.k.a. me) = hole in skirting.

*sniff* I am told it’s an easy fix though. We have extra skirting in our shed. I just don’t like our shed because I’m afraid that a spider will decide to land in my hair…

I hope everyone gets their fill of barbecue and fireworks today! We’re going out to the lake for a barbecue at a friend’s house. I am bringing a side dish. It’s more like a dessert I guess. It’s a cobbler, and not just any cobbler either. There’s a secret ingredient lurking underneath the yummy layers of butter, flour, and sugar. And I’ll give you a hint…it’s from my garden! Give up? Zucchini!!! It’s supposed to be a mock apple cobbler. I made something similar to this last year when a friend gave me some of her zucchini but made a mock apple pie instead. The neat thing about it is that you really can’t tell it’s zucchini and not apples!

Here’s the recipe:

Zucchini Cobbler
8 cups peeled and chopped zucchini
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, chilled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir zucchini and lemon juice until zucchini is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10×15 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine flour and the remaining 2 cups sugar. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two forks until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir 1/2 cup of butter mixture into zucchini mixture. Press half of remaining butter mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Spread zucchini mixture over top of crust, and sprinkle remaining butter mixture over zucchini. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden. Serve with ice cream!!