preserving the summer

IMG_9760I love canning.  It’s so rewarding to go out and pick your own fruit, preserve it, and enjoy these fruits when they’re no longer in season.

This summer I’ve made strawberry, peach and wild blackberry jam.  By far, the most labor intensive jam was the blackberry.  The kids and I picked these wild berries and often came home cut up from the thorns.  I also extracted the seeds from the berries and that was way more work than I thought it would be.

Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  I think our kids will look back and have fond memories of picking and preserving summer.


power balls

IMG_8319In our attempt to eat healthier I’ve found a recipe that fills the sweet tooth need, but also packs a healthy punch…power balls.

A couple of the older males in our family were skeptical at first, but now everyone in our family loves them.  We love them so much I have to double this recipe!  Enjoy!

Power Balls
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then roll into 1 inch balls.  Store in the refrigerator.

a great way to start the day

IMG_7687These breakfast muffins are a quick and healthy way to start the day.  I started making them in my effort for our family to eat less processed, and more simple foods.

I make them on the weekend, double the recipe and freeze half of them for later in the week.  You could also easily add other ingredients like spinach, mushrooms and peppers.

Hearty Breakfast Muffins

12 eggs
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
a dash onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup cooked, chopped bacon
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use sharp)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick spray.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs.  Add remaining ingredients and mix together.  Scoop 1/3 cup of mixture into each muffin tin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the center is completely cooked.  Enjoy!

eggs just like the white swan hotel

eggWe bought a bunch of eggs to dye for Easter.  I love hard boiled eggs.  The only problem I seem to have is that when I boil and peel them, most of the white gets peeled away with the shell.  (Am I the only person that has this problem?)  Long story short, I get aggravated and never make hard boiled eggs even though quite a few people in our family love them.

When we travelled to China almost 10 years ago to bring Katherine home, we stayed in a wonderful hotel in Guangzhou.  When we arrived at the White Swan Hotel, we had spent the week travelling all over China eating authentic Chinese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We were ready for some American food, and this hotel gave us that much needed break.  The breakfast buffet was to die for.  (And here’s where the hard boiled egg comes in).  Katherine loved hard boiled eggs…like that and bananas were the only thing she would eat.  Thankfully, the White Swan Hotel had them at their breakfast buffet.  I had never had an egg that I could peel and the shell just fell away from the egg.  They were magical eggs.

So when we came home, I tried to make them over and over without success.  I pretty much gave up until this weekend.  After a little research I found the “recipe” for easy to peel eggs!!!  (And because I’m that kind of gal, I’m sharing it with you.)

Easy to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Bring water to a boil and gently lower eggs into the pot
Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 13 minutes
Put the eggs in a ice bath for 5 minutes
Then, peel away!!

chocolate chip pumpkin muffins

IMG_4928I put the pumpkin puree that I made recently to good use this past Thanksgiving.  These chocolate chip pumpkin muffins are delightful.  We devoured them in a day, and because I’m all about sharing, here’s the recipe!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
16 oz. pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups oil
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl mix the first four ingredients.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake 16-20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Makes 24-30 muffins.

homemade pumpkin puree

baking pumpkinsI never thought I would make my own pumpkin puree.  For some reason I thought it would be tedious and not worth the effort.  I was wrong.  Last year I had several baking pumpkins that we didn’t carve for Halloween.  After Halloween was over I couldn’t just throw them out, so I tried making pumpkin puree.  It’s super easy and tastes so much better than the can stuff!

Pumpkin Puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the pumpkin in quarters and scoop out seeds and pulp.  Place pumpkins on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until tender.  Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly.  Remove the shell from the pulp and blend pulp until smooth.  (This puree freezes beautifully!)

crockpot banana bread

IMG_3880I know what your thinking.  Crockpot banana bread?  Are you kidding me?  I know, I know, baking with a crockpot doesn’t naturally come to my mind either, but you’ve really got to give this one a try.

This recipe is easy, taste yummy and doesn’t heat up the kitchen, what’s not to love about that?

Crockpot Banana Bread

2 eggs
1/2 cup stick margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Spray non-stick cooking spray in crockpot.  Mix together wet ingredients and sugar.  Stir in dry ingredients just until blended.  Don’t over mix.  Pour into crockpot.  Cover the top of the crockpot with a couple of paper towels (to hold in moisture) and place the lid on top.  Cook on low for 3 hours and 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Run a knife along the edges of the crockpot to loosen it.  Flip it upside down on a plate, and enjoy!

ranch potatoes

ranch potatoesI have another really easy and delicious recipe to share.

We have a lot of different tastes in our home, and I can never seem to please everyone when it comes to dinnertime.  There is however one thing that everyone loves…ranch potatoes.  Try them, and tell me these aren’t the best potatoes you’ve ever had!

Ranch Potatoes

2 lbs. small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup of oil
1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing

Place potatoes in a food storage bag and add oil; seal bag. Toss to coat. Add dressing mix and toss again until coated. Bake in ungreased baking pan at 425°F for 30 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned and tender.

chicken tortilla soup

IMG_1476Ok ya’ll, I’ve got a really good recipe to share.  A few months ago I had the Food Network on and Trisha Yearwood was making chicken tortilla soup.  It’s really different from Trey’s famous tortilla soup, so I thought I would give it a try.  I did make a few changes to it and it turned out simply amazing.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 Tbl. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbl. flour
Three 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
4 cups half-and-half
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup of salsa
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
A dash of cumin
1 packet of fajita seasoning
Tortilla chips
Cheddar cheese, grated


Melt butter in a large pot on medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and sauté until softened.  Add the flour and stir well.  Add broth and half-and-half, mix well.  Stir in cream of chicken soup, salsa, chicken, beans, corn, cumin and fajita seasoning.  Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Crumble a few tortilla chips into each bowl and top with soup.  Sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top, and you have a bowl of comfort food at it’s best!

easy peasy ice cream cake

IMG_1391For Hunter and Trey’s birthday I made ice cream cakes.  I was amazed at how easy, inexpensive and delicious they turned out.  Want to know how?

For the bottom layer of the cake I made homemade brownies in a spring form pan.  Then, I set out the ice cream of choice and let it soften.  Next, I spread it on top of the cooled brownies, and put it back in the freezer until ready to serve.  Before serving, I sprinkled a topping on top to make it extra fancy!  (For Hunter’s Oreo ice cream cake, I put chopped up Oreo’s on top.  And for Trey’s, it was chopped up Reece’s.)  Then, I removed the spring form from the cake and served.

It’s easy, yummy and inexpensive.  (All the things I love in a cake!)

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