Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cleaning and Rearranging

I'ts been pretty busy week for us here at home.  Amanda and I began a cleaning "binge" last Friday and it has continued into this week. 

It seems like I am constantly working on ways to find extra space and this week I've been working on cabinets.  My Dad made me a couple of "free standing" shelves to put inside my lower cabinets and since they are not attached to anything I will be able to move them if I need to.   My cabinets were such a mess that there is no way I would take a BEFORE picture of them, but when I finish cleaning and rearranging I will take an AFTER picture. 

We live in a single wide mobile home that is situated on my parents ninety-two acres.  We made the decision to sell our house and move here about thirteen years ago and have no regrets.  Having said that, however, we have continually had space issues since we have four children.  Now that my daughter is married (and also lives on my parents land) we have a little more space for the boys, but it really didn't help all that much with overall space for foods, small appliances, etc.  Especially since the pantry and cabinet areas were just open space with doors.   No shelves!  At all!  

In the past I've been very creative with stacking things, but I don't know if we just have more things, or if I'm losing my touch.  Either way it was time for shelves and I am SO thankful for a "jack-of-all trades" Daddy that is willing to help out.   He and my youngest son, Ferrell, have made me two shelves out of scrap material Daddy has from working on their house and the two of them are planning to make me about three more shelves soon.  I don't know if you can tell, but I AM EXCITED!

What's going on at your place this week?

Monday, March 28, 2011


I mentioned in yesterday's post that Amanda and I cleaned and defrosted our chest freezer on Friday.  When we did that we found several surprises.  One of those surprises was SEVEN gallons of frozen blueberries!  I knew that I had some blueberries out there, but I had NO idea it was that many.   Since our freezer is a chest type it's very easy for things to get shifted to the bottom and forgotten about (although, in my opinion, seven gallons of blueberries is a LOT to forget about).  I guess I must have been busy at the time we picked them and just put them in the freezer to use later and forgot.  Oh well, we are excited about finding such a pleasant surprise. 

Sooo, in addition to making plum jelly with the remaining two bags of plums we found, I will also be making blueberry jam, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry syrup, you get the picture, right?   Time to get to work!  Hope ya'll have a great day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week 3/27/2011 Menu Plan

Amanda and I took time Friday to clean and defrost our freezer.  It didn't take us long to do and I think it will help quite a bit with menu planning as I made a list of everything we have there. 

I've never really kept a freezer inventory, but I'm thinking that it will be nice to have.  It will keep me from having to rely on my "somewhat faulty" memory :)

Menu for the week:

Sunday - Refried beans with tortillas and salad

Monday - Smoked sausage, rice, steamed vegetables, homemade bread

Tuesday - Pork loin, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, carrots, biscuits

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Sloppy Jo's, potato wedges, baked beans

Friday - Stromboli

Saturday - Pizza

Breakfasts - Applesauce Muffins, Oatmeal, Eggs & Toast,
                   pancakes, fruit

Lunch - Leftovers, sandwiches, soup, muffins & fruits

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pancake Toppings

Many, many years ago when my children were very young and I was just beginning to learn more about doing things from scratch and ways to save money, I began making my own pancake syrups and toppings. 

When I was growing up pancakes were a rare treat and when we did have them they were always eaten totally saturated with a store bought pancake syrup.   After I was married with children of my own, my cousins wife, (Anita @ shared with me her recipe for making HER OWN pancake syrup.  For me, at the time, that was totally unheard of and I HAD to give it a try.  Since then there has been no turning back. 

I have come to realize that there are many, many ways to enjoy pancakes and (for me anyway) they DO NOT involve saturating them with store bought syrup.  I thought I would share some of things that I enjoy as a topping for MY pancakes.

Chopped fresh fruit

Nutella with a little whipped cream

Homemade pancake syrup (occasionally)

Homemade Blueberry or Strawberry fruit syrup

Peanut Butter

I'm sure that there are many, many other wonderful pancake toppings, but these are the ones we most often use around here.

Here's the recipes for my homemade syrups.

Pancake Syrup

I'm not sure what happened to the original recipe I got from Anita, but I'm pretty sure this is close to it.  Anyway this is how I make my syrup today.

sugar (amount varies depending on how much you want to make)

water (Use half as much water as you do sugar.  Ex:  3 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water)

molasses (For three cups sugar I use 3 tablespoons molasses

vanilla (For three cups sugar I use 2 teaspoons vanilla)

maple flavoring (I use half as much maple as I do vanilla.  For three cups sugar 1 teaspoon maple)

Mix together in saucepan on stove and bring to a rolling boil to dissolve sugar.  If you like a runny syrup you can turn it off at that point or you can continue to simmer for a little longer to thicken.  Don't cook it too long though or you may end up with hard candy :)

You can make as much or as little syrup as you like.  I usually make a good bit and store it in empty pancake syrup bottles (from my mother) or empty ketchup bottles in the refrigerator.  You can use any flavoring you like, this is just my preference.


3 cups fresh or frozen fruit (thawed)
1/2 to one cup sweetener (sugar, honey, etc.)
Fruit fresh (optional)

I place all of this in my Vitamix blender and run it on high for a couple of minutes.  I've never tried it, but I'm sure you could use a regular blender just as well.  My favorite fruits for syrup are blueberries and strawberries.  I'm seriously considering making some with a few of the plums that I still have in the freezer :)

In addition to saving money by making our own syrups, I also don't have to worry about whether are not they are gluten free.  For our family that's a big plus.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plums, Plums and More Plums

This past summer a dear friend of ours asked if I would be interested in picking plums from the trees in their backyard.  Of course the opportunity for "free food" was too good to pass up, so Ferrell and I went two days and picked plums.  I didn't really keep track of how many plums we picked, but it was A LOT.  

At the time I had several things going on here at home so all I did was cook out the juice and put it in the freezer with plans to make jelly during the winter.  Well, I've just gotten around to using those plums during the last month or so and have been making plum butter, plum jelly and plum "leather."  Yesterday was spent making more jelly.  Doesn't it look good?

Oh, and those dear friends I mentioned?  They brought me four MORE gallons of plums that they had frozen this past summer and decided they didn't want to "fool with".   Needless to say I will be making more plum butter, plum jelly and plum leather in the very near future. 

I am so thankful for God's abundance!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Feeling Better

Well, my breathing is much better today and my head congestion is also better.  I still have a little bit of a cough and have not completely recovered my voice, but I'm definitely feeling better.  

Now that I'm feeling better, it's time to get to work, so todays plan is to start with the things that I didn't complete yesterday, which was quite a bit.  (I did enjoy my visit with friends though, so I'm not complaining).


gather books for book sale

baking (bread and muffins)

cook plums for more jelly

Strain and freeze chicken stock that cooked
last night in the crockpot

Clean out refrigerator and wipe down shelves 

That's about it as far as my plan goes.  I will still have to do normal everyday things like laundry (it never ends), sweep the floor, dishes (sometimes I wish I had a dishwasher), meals, and most likely enjoy a visit from my sweet little grandaughters at some point.

What's your plan for today?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not Likely

Today is not likely to be a very productive day for me.  We live in the middle of a pine thicket and, as is always the case this time of year, the pollen from the pine trees is starting to be everywhere.  In addition to the pine tree pollen, we also spent Saturday mowing our yard and working in the garden.   What this means in our family is ALLERGIES and ASTHMA! 

Yesterday I was having trouble with my asthma, but so far I have only had to use an inhaler and lavender tea.  I'm thankful that I haven't had to have any breathing treatments yet.  I guess I'm like my children in that sense.  I HATE breathing treatments and how they make me feel. 

My sweet son and grandaughters are also having trouble with allergies.  Ellen has had a non-stop runny nose, but Amanda started her on a cough syrup that we make using licorice, mullein, thyme, and rosehips and her nose cleared up.  Poor little thing seems to be feeling a littler better. 

Ferrell and Rachel have been coughing some but nothing "major" so far.  I'm really praying that we can avoid having any doctors visits, especially since spring and fall is our usual time for that.

I'm thinking that with everyone sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and wiping noses this will probably not be an overly productive day.  Here's a list of a few things that I am hoping to accomplish in spite of my allergies:

Sweep & mop the living room and kitchen

Straighten the living room


Make bread for Caleb (gluten free)

Clean the bathrooms

Gather books for the homeschool group used book sale

Locate a source for nutritional yeast (I've never used it, but
thinking it could be good for our food sensitive family members)

Inventory my pantry (and shed :)  so I can start my list of needed items from Sam's

Cook supper

It's a short list, but honestly I think I'll be doing good to get that much accomplished today.  Especially since we're having company come for a short visit, which should be fun since I have laryngitis :)  My children, however, are loving the fact that Mom can only whisper :)  

Well, time to get busy! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of 3/20/11

I am not creative by nature and if you look closely at my menus you will see quite a bit of repetition.  Sometimes it's just in the sides that I use, but sometimes the whole menu looks basically the same.  I also seem to cook the same things from October through March and then my menu changes to things I cook April through September.  I don't actually plan this, it just works out that way.

I guess the reason for that is because during the summer there is always more fresh produce available from my garden and through the local farmers market.  That means that during spring and summer I tend to lean more toward raw vegetables, pasta salads, stir fry, lettuce salad, grilled chicken, hamburgers, steamed vegetables and other things that don't heat up the house.

In the winter we usually have a good supply of venison and meats that are on sale through the holiday season and I find myself making a lot of soups, stews, and chili, in addition to overall "heavier" meals.

How many of you have a totally different menu during the Spring and Summer than you do through the Fall and Winter? 

Here's our plan for this week.  As you can see I'm not quite ready to transition to our typical Spring and Summer menu yet :)

Sunday - leftovers and sandwiches (I am battling asthma and allergies and don't feel like cooking)

Monday - Beef Casserole, Peas, corn on cob, fried green tomatoes

Tuesday - sloppy jo's, potato salad

Wednesday - soup and leftovers

Thursday - Minute Steak w/gravy, rice, baked sweet potato wedges, salad

Friday - Homemade Pizza, salad

Saturday - We'll be eating at church that's invited our family band to sing

Friday, March 18, 2011

Delicious Green Bean Casserole

I was looking through my recipes yesterday looking for "something different" to prepare for my family and ran across my recipe for Green Bean Casserole.  This is the same basic recipe that you find on the can of French Fried Onions you buy in the store with some slight changes to make it gluten free.  In my opinion these changes make it MUCH better.

Since I have gluten sensitive family members I make my own Cream of Mushroom Soup and also my own French Fried Onions which is what I think makes this dish taste so much better than the way I used to make it.

I started with the French Fried Onions.  These can be made ahead of time and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator, unless you're like me and can't quit eating them :)

2 or 3 big sweet onions
enough milk for soaking the onions
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons salt
flour (I used cornstarch, but any gluten free flour will do)
oil for frying

Mix flour, salt, and pepper.  Slice onions and separate into rings.  Dredge in the flour/seasonings mix and fry until golden brown.  Drain.  (Try not to eat to many, because you will need them for the casserole topping :)

Next I made the Cream of Mushroom soup.  This can also be made ahead and frozen in one cup portions which is approximately the equivalent of a can of soup.

1 pound mushrooms (I used canned)
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups broth (I used turkey, but you could use chicken or vegetable)
2 cups milk (whole, low-fat, rice, soy)
6 tablespoons flour (I used cornstarch)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Saute mushrooms in olive oil and set aside.  Next melt butter in a large pan and once the butter starts to bubble add your flour and spices.  After the sauce has cooked for a few minutes add milk and broth and stir until the sauce thickens.  When this has thickened add mushrooms.

Green Bean Casserole

Green beans (If using fresh you need about 2 pounds.  I used about 3 cans.)
1 tbsp. gluten free soy sauce

Drain the beans and place in a large casserole dish.  (If using fresh green beans, cook 4-5 minutes until they are bright green).  Mix in the soup and soy sauce and top with the french fried onions.  Bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Twenty-two Years Ago

Twenty-two years ago today I gave birth to a 9 lb 12 oz  baby boy.   He has been such a blessing and I am so thankful that God chose to place him in our family.  

Caleb and Rachel

Working hard

Caleb playing mandolin and singing with the family band.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Training Toddlers

If you want your children to be responsible, hard-working adults capable of taking care of themselves and their families when they're twenty, teach them when they're two :)

Here are some photos of our resident toddler in training.

Rachel helping Mommy wash dishes
Rinsing the soap off of her hands.
Helping RoRo plant strawberries.

Watering the dirt around the raised bed.  Maybe next time we'll work on getting the water onto the plants ;)

Helping wash Mommy's van.

Got to get that tire clean!

Helping "Unca Hees" bottle feed a neighbors baby goat.

Rachel is at an age where she loves to "help" with everything we do.  I believe it is SO important to encourage her so that when she gets older work is not seen as a negative experience, but as a positive experience that brings great satisfaction in a job well done. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gift from my Sweet Son

My husband bought me a glider rocker for our anniversary about 12 years ago.  During that twelve years we have replaced the cushions twice.  Last year the last set of cushions we purchased totally fell apart while I was cleaning them.  As a result we didn't use the glider last summer at all, because I never bothered to replace the cushions.  Mainly, because it's an odd size and hard to find cushions to fit and I can't ever think to look for heavy fabric when in town to make some. 

This past Saturday while Caleb and I were in town picking up supplies for the garden he found some cushions that would fit my glider.  Sweet son that he is, he purchased those glider cushions for me and as soon as we got home he made sure that they were in place and ready for me to use.   He knows his Mama loves to sit on the porch and enjoy her morning coffee whenever the weather permits.   Aren't they pretty?  I absolutely love them! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Family Made Saturday

Saturday was a beautiful day here in Mississippi and my family and I took full advantage of that fact.  Rachel, Caleb, Ferrell, and I spent most of the afternoon working in the garden.  We added a few raised beds and added some things to the beds we already have.  In addition to that we tilled up a portion of our larger garden plot hoping to help the ground dry out a bit so that we can plant that area soon. 

Here's a few pictures that were snapped while we were working Saturday.

Caleb hard at work!

Ferrell planting blueberries.
Rachel helping me add some plants to our strawberry bed. 

Rachel, Ferrell and Caleb hard at work in the garden.  The playpen was so Ellen could enjoy the beautiful day too :)


The Peppermint is coming back nicely.

My lemon balm is also coming back nicely.    I enjoy the lemon balm so much that I planted
another one by my front porch.
One of our smaller beds that has spinach and lettuce.

We also have oregano, thyme, sage and bee balm that are coming back from previous years planting and my basil that I planted a couple of weeks ago is now up.  I have a few tomatoes planted, but I will definitely be planting more of those in a few weeks. 

We are working hard to somewhat change up the composition of our soil, because it is mostly clay and also low, which means when it rains it takes FOREVER for it to dry out enough to plant anything.  When we do plant I make my rows really, really high to help prevent my poor plants having to stand in water.   

When the ground actually does dry, then it feels like we're trying to work concrete.  We've been adding compost, manure, dried leaves, and just about anything else we can think of to help the soil become looser and also to build it up some and after a number of years we are FINALLY beginning to see a difference.  Nothing drastic, but at least I can tell that we aren't wasting our time.  

I enjoy working in the garden and am sooo excited to see all of my plants popping up everywhere and thankful to get a few more things added this year.  So, how did you spend your Saturday?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of 3/13/2011

Some of the things that were on the menu last week got changed at the last minute so I've carried those meals over to this week.  Here's the plan:

Sunday - Deer Roast, Rice, Salad
Monday - Spaghetti, salad and garlic bread
Tuesday - Ham Pie and Fried Okra
Wednesday - Potato Soup/Taco Soup
Thursday - Chicken & Dumplings, Macaroni & Cheese,
                  Peas, Salad, Strawberry/Apple Pie (Since it's
                  Caleb's birthday he was allowed to choose
                  our meal for this evening)
Friday - leftovers
Saturday - hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad

Breakfasts - smoothies, cold or hot cereal, muffins, pancakes, fruit

Lunches - leftovers, sandwiches, soup, muffins with fruit, tuna salad with crackers

Friday, March 11, 2011

All Better!

Well, I'm thankful to say that I'M feeling better, FERRELL is feeling better (with NO breathing treatments AT ALL!!!!), and ELLEN and RACHEL are feeling better.  This is the first time I've EVER had a cold that only lasted a couple of days.  My head is totally uncongested (is that a word?), my chest is not tight in the slightest, Ferrell hasn't coughed in two days and it is WONDERFUL!  I really can't say why we shook this cold so quickly, but I'm definitely leaning toward the Rosehips and Lavender playing a part.  Everyone's body is different and what works for me may very well NOT work for you, but I am really glad that I gave the Rosehips and Lavender a try!  

For the pink-eye I made a strong lavender tea, let it cool until was warm but not hot, and placed a bathcloth soaked in the lavender tea on my eye.  (If you try this be sure not to get the tea into your eye, but squeeze the excess liquid out of the bathcloth BEFORE placing on your eye).  I would leave it for a few minutes until it cooled completely wait about 30 minutes and do it again.  The first day my eye hurt a fair amount and watered like crazy, the second day the watering had stopped and it was only a little sore, by today no pain and no watering and NO antibiotic!!!!   Yay!!! 

When Amanda first noticed the girls eyes watering and turning pink she carried them to the doctor.  One of the girls had an ear infection and both had pink eye.  The doctor started them on antibiotics and after three days, the ear infection is better, but the red and watery eyes are still giving them a little trouble.   (Not to mention things like diarrhea and irritability that come from a child on antibiotics).  

We've been a little afraid to give the girls the herbal remedies since they are taking antibiotics, but I'm thinking we may need to at least give the lavender tea a try for their eyes.  I don't think it will hurt and it may actually help.  If nothing else the warmth will feel good to their eyes.  I'm glad they are better than they were, but I sure will be glad when they are completely over it and back to their normal, sunshiny selves :) 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Simple Smoothie Recipe

We drink a lot of breakfast smoothies and since I've recently been asked to share my smoothie recipe I thought I would share it here.  This is a simple, basic recipe.  There are many, many ways to make a good smoothie and it's really hard to mess them up. 

Simple Smoothie

1/2 cup milk (whole, low-fat, rice, almond, soy,
                      any kind will do)

1 cup yogurt (I use plain or vanilla, but you can use
                     whatever you like)

fruit of choice (ex:  2 ripe bananas, 1/4 cup strawberries,etc.
                          I usually use fruit from my freezer)

1 teaspoon honey (or your sweetener of choice)

1/4 cup ice cubes (I omit the ice cubes when using
                            frozen fruit)

Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.  I have an immersion blender that I use a lot of the time, especially if I'm only making one smoothie.  There you have it!  Smoothies made simple!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lavender Flowers and Herbal Cough Syrup

I've been using Lavender in Essential Oil  form for a long time.  I use it as a fragrance for my homemade soap and in a hot bath for relaxation.   I've even used it on a warm cloth to help relieve headaches, but until yesterday I had never actually used Lavender Flowers. 

I ordered Lavender flowers from The Bulk Herb Store a while back to use in soapmaking, but have never actually gotten around to using them.  Since I love to learn about herbs, I have been doing a lot of research on different herbs and their medicinal uses and was very impressed with all of the health benefits of Lavender.  AND, since my precious grandaughters have been battling a cold, ear infection and pink eye this week, AND since the sweet little angels decided to share all of the above with their "RoRo" I decided this would be a good time to put it to the test.

I brewed a pot of Lavender and Rosehips tea yesterday afternoon and drank about two cups of it.  It really wasn't bad.  I prefer the taste of Rosehips over the Lavender, but it wasn't THAT bad.  Lavender tea tastes just exactly like it smells, if that makes sense.  I brewed another pot last night using a little less Lavender and a little more Rosehips and it was quite good.  I chose to mix the Rosehips and Lavender, because Rosehips are high in Vit. C and good for fighting infection and Lavender is good for colds and can help induce sweating to reduce fever.   

I'm not a doctor or an herbalist so I can't tell you that the tea is what made a difference.    It could have been the steam or something like that, but I do know that my head started feeling better and I was breathing a good bit easier by the time I went to bed.

I also persuaded my sixteen year old son, Ferrell,  to drink a cup in the afternoon and again last night.   Ferrell seems to be taking the same cold that the girls and I have and he had also been coughing in a way that made me think he might need a breathing treatment for his asthma.  He really hates taking a breathing treatment, so I told him we would try the tea, but that if I wasn't convinced it was making a difference he WOULD be taking a treatment.  I can't say for sure that he's "out of the woods" as far as a breathing treatment goes, but he didn't cough during the night and doesn't seem to be tight at all and has not had a treatment yet. Yay!

It's always a good idea to check with your personal physician before trying any herbal remedies, especially if it's not something you feel really sure about. The internet has a ton of information available for anyone interested in learning more about herbs and their benefits and there are also some really great books on the subject. I've gotten several from Amazon and Ebay.

As for me, Lavender Flowers will definitely have a place in my herbal medicine chest!

The label is kind of hard to read in this picture but it says:  As a tea, oil inhalation, or vapor rub, lavender is effective for colds, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, flu, tonsillitis, and laryngitis.  A warm compress will relieve chest congestion, and help with bruises and insect bites.  In a tea or tincture, it can also be taken for stomach and bowel infections causing vomiting or diarrhea.  Hot lavender tea causes sweating and reduces fevers.  It helps to detoxify the body by increasing elimination of toxins via the skin.

I also thought I would share the recipe for a simple herbal cough syrup that I make whenever we start taking a cold.  We've been using it for a couple years now and it seems to do the job for us.  Amanda also gives it to her girls in a sippy cup with juice and just lets them sip on it.  It really seems to make a difference.  I helps to relieve the symptoms and for me it seems to shorten the duration of the cold. 

Herbal Cough Syrup

1 quart water
1 tablespoon licorice root
1 tablespoon mullein
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon slippery elm
1 tablespoon rosehips
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup rice syrup, fruit syrup or honey

Bring everything, but the syrup, to a boil.  Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.  Strain.  Return to heat and simmer.  While warm, stir in the syrup.  Let cool.  Give 1 tablespoon as needed.  Store in the refrigerator.

I don't have slippery elm on hand and only recently have had rosehips.  In the past I've made it with just mullein,  thyme,  and licorice root and it's still worked good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thrifty Toddler Skirt

Recently Amanda has been taking inventory of the girls clothes to see what is and is not needed for the summer.  She discovered that Ellen has an abundance of everything (due to being the one receiving hand-me-downs from big sister :), but Rachel still needs a few things.  One of the things she needs is skirts for the summer.  Amanda is in the process of potty training Rachel and skirts seem to be much easier than shorts or pants for this task. 

We decided that we would look through what she had and see how it could be adapted for summer wear.  Now understand, I do not claim to be a seamstress in any form or fashion, but I can usually come up with ideas that at least make suitable play clothes.   Here's is a picture of one of our weekend projects. 

Pair of Rachel's bluejeans that were too short.  I've already cut them off and ripped the seam out.

Another photo showing where the seams were ripped out.
Picture of the finished skirt being worn by a toddler that did NOT want her picture taken :)

After cutting off the jeans and ripping the seams out.  I found an old t-shirt that matched the green leaves in the flowers on the sides of the pants.  I laid the jeans down on the t-shirt and cut two triangle shaped pieces that would fit into the space between the legs of the pants.  After that I just sewed it in and it's done!  Extremely easy!

All in all I was pleased with how it turned out and Rachel loved it.  She wore that skirt all afternoon and showed everyone she saw what her "RoRo" made.  I found the idea for this while browsing the internet and also found several other ideas for "making over" other things for the summer.  If they turn out okay I'll be sharing more pictures.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu for Week of March 6, 2011

Lately my menu plans have been changing throughout the week as things come up.  It's working out okay though, because I've discovered that having a plan that changes is still better than having no plan at all :)  Sooo, here's the plan:

Sunday - leftovers
Monday - Chicken Stir Fry & Rice
Tuesday - Ham, hash browns, green beans, biscuits
Wednesday - Veg. Soup
Thursday - Spaghetti & Meatballs, corn on the cob, fried okra
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Fried Deer Meat, Sweet Potato Fries, Baked Beans

Breakfast - Smoothies, fruit, toast & eggs, muffins, pancakes

Lunch - muffins & fruit, sandwiches, soup, leftovers,

Snacks - Muffins, fruit, popcorn, cookies, peanut butter crackers

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lazy Saturday and A New Pet

Today is shaping up to be a lazy Saturday.  I think that it's good to have a day like that every once in a while, as long as it doesn't become a habit.  Here in Mississippi it's a dreary, rainy day that is making me want to sleep, but I don't think that I can get by with being THAT lazy :)  

I think my day will mostly consist of finishing a couple of loads of laundry, a couple of sewing projects I have started for my grandaughters, and straightening things up in the living room and kitchen.  All of my sons are off work today, so I will have "people" in and out all day at random times so I may put on a crockpot of Chili so that they can eat whenever they choose. 

All in all I'm kind of  looking forward to my lazy Saturday. 

Oh, I thought I would share a random picture of one of our resident non-dog-loving family members :)

Caleb & Roxie
Heath (who staunchly claims to NOT like dogs) brought this dog home a few months ago from work.  Apparently it had been hanging around the shop where he works and was not being treated very nicely.  She was very thin, roaming in and out of the highway, and overall just pitiful.   The ladies that work with Heath were all feeling sorry for the poor dog and somehow Heath volunteered to bring it home until we could maybe locate the owner (the dog had a collar).  We called around to different places and asked around, posted ads, etc. and of course we could not find the owner.   During the time that we were trying to locate her owner, Roxie managed to wrap herself around the heart of everyone here.  She is really a sweetheart and now that she is starting to gain weight and lose the scratches and cuts that she had when he brought her home, she is a really pretty dog.  OH, the BEST part!  Roxie was already house broken and leash trained, will not go in any room of the house except the living room, is totally non-destructive and adores my grandaughters.   Since she has been here since before Christmas I guess it's safe to say that we have a new pet :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rosehip Tea

I am always excited when my orders from The Bulk Herb Store arrive!   I absolutely LOVE learning about herbs and how to use them to benefit my family and someday I hope to be able to raise all of the herbs we use myself.  For now, I rely heavily on The Bulk Herb Store. 

Yesterdays delivery consisted of Rosehips, Hawthorn powder and diatomaceous earth.  I've been wanting to try Rosehips for a while now, but for some reason have never ordered any.  Rosehips are very high in Vitamin C and are good for a number of things like stress, heart, and infections to name a few. 

I made my first cup of Rosehip tea this morning and I have to say it was REALLY good!  The flavor is just the tiniest bit tart and tangy, which is exactly what I like.  I suppose you could add a sweetener (like honey) if you choose, but as for me, I like it "straight."   I look forward to making it a regular part of my herbal tea consumption :)

Label on the bag of Rosehips from The Bulk Herb Store

My first cup of Rosehip Tea.  Delicious!

Pineapple and Ham Casserole

I know I've been posting a lot of recipes lately, but for some reason I have really been in a "cooking mood" as my Mama would say.  Since I always love to try new recipes I thought maybe some of you would too. 

This is a recipe I got from my sister-in-law years ago and it's one of my husbands favorites.  I don't make it very often because it's a little sweet for the rest of the family,  but my husband loves it, so I do make it on occasion.

Pineapple and Ham Casserole

4 large cans pineapple tidbits, drained (save the juice)
2 cups shredded sharp cheese
2 cups sugar
12 tablespoons flour
2 cans chopped ham
Ritz cracker crumbs
2 sticks butter

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray and mix first two ingredients together and pour into baking dish.  In separate bowl, blend with spoon 12 tablespoons pineapple juice and 12 tablespoons flour and 2 cups sugar.  Pour over tidbits and cheese.  Sprinkle 2 cans chopped ham over pineapple mix.  Cover with Ritz cracker crumbs.  Melt 2 sticks butter and pour over cracker crumbs.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 or 30 minutes.

You can substitute any ham that you may have on hand.  It will take about 2 cups.  We use gluten free pretzels crushed in place of ritz crackers to make this recipe gluten free.  You can also use less butter than the recipe calls for or a butter substitute if you like.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Breakfast Casserole

I have a large 3-ring binder that I use to keep a copy of our favorite family recipes.  I type up the recipe and place it in a plastic page protector and put in the binder, which I have divided into catergories.  That way, anytime I want a recipe I can pull it from the binder and don't have to worry about spills or splashes, because the plastic cover wipes clean easily.  

While looking through my binder recently I ran across this recipe for Breakfast Casserole.  I haven't made it in a long time, but I think it will be on the menu soon. 

Breakfast Casserole

6 slices bread (I use gluten free)
6 eggs beaten
2 cups milk (can use rice milk, soy milk, etc.)
1 pound sausage
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

Butter bread lightly and place in greased 9 x 13 pan and set aside.  Brown sausage and drain.  Sprinkle sausage over bread and sprinkle cheese over sausage.  Combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.  Pour over cheese.  Cover and chill overnight.  Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. 

 Additional things that can be added are  chopped spinach, onion, garlic, bacon or ham in place of sausage, chopped broccoli, shredded carrot, etc.  You can also top it with a fresh tomato slice and a little sour cream and salsa.   I have never frozen this so I don't know if it freezes well or not.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fried Dandelions

Since Spring is almost here, I thought I would share a "different" kind of recipe with you.  Last year was my first time to try these and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were.   Dandelions are very good for you.  If you research them you will find that they are high in Vitamin C and also good for other things like the liver.  Anyway, we seem to have a natural abundance of them around here and so rather than kill them, I decided to put them to good use.  The first year I made Dandelion syrup which was very good.  It tasted a lot like honey, but it didn't last long before it became granulated, so instead of syrup I decided to make Fried Dandelion Blossoms last year.


Step one:  Go into your yard (or your neighbors if they don't mind :) and gather as many Dandelion blossoms as you think your family will eat.  You are looking for the yellow flowers, not the white puff balls :)

Step two:  Rinse them in cool water.  Handle them gently and don't let them stay in the water very long, because they will start to close on you and you need them to be open.

Step three:  Lay them on paper towels and gently pat dry and begin heating your oil for frying.

Step Four:  Lightly batter them just like you would okra, squash, or green tomatoes.  Since my son is gluten free I use cornstarch and salt & pepper.  If putting them in a milk & egg mix before coating remember to handle gently.

Step Five:  Fry them until they are golden brown, remove from heat, and drain on a paper towel. 

Step Six:  Eat and enjoy!

My children were very skeptical about this and thought I was crazy for feeding them "grass", but I persuaded each one of them to give it a try.  Everyone of my children (even the most skeptical) ate several of them and actually thought they were good.  The taste really isn't that much different from fried okra.   If you use older, bigger blossoms there may be a slight hint of bitterness, but I really didn't notice it much and probably wouldn't have noticed it at all if I were not really paying attention to every detail so that I could argue (I mean persuade ;) my children into trying them.  They did not seem to notice any bitterness at all.

There are other ways that you can enjoy Dandelions this spring.  In addition to frying the blossoms you can also eat them raw in a salad.  The greens (when picked young and tender) are also good in a salad or cooked as you would turnip greens.  (The older leaves will be bitter.)   Look them up on the internet and you will find all kinds of interesting recipes and nutritional information.  Hope you get the opportunity to give Dandelions a try at your house this spring.  I definitely plan to.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homemade Gluten Free English Muffins

Anyone that has ever tried a gluten free biscuit knows that they just "ain't the same" as a "real" biscuit.   Even though I have always made my biscuits from scratch when Bisquick came out with a gluten free biscuit mix I decided to give it a try.  Well, if you're not thinking of them as an old fashioned biscuit they really aren't bad, but who can afford to buy the stuff?  Like most gluten free, pre-packaged items it's expensive.  I decided that I needed an alternative for my sweet son that absolutely loves bread.  Giving up "good" homemade bread has been the hardest part of being gluten free for him. 

Fortunately, over the last couple of years I have played around in the kitchen enough that we have come up with some pretty good breads that he is pleased with.  Yesterday was another example.  I've always liked to have breakfast foods cooked and in the freezer simply because I'm not a morning person and cooking breakfast is just "not my thing".   In addition to fruit and cereal, the rest of my family has a choice of muffins, pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches.  Caleb, due to being gluten free, has been stuck pretty much with fruit, muffins and pancakes because we had not found a good biscuit or English muffin substitute.   Yesterday I decided it was time to experiment again and I came up with a very good English muffin and it seems to work quite well as a breakfast sandwich, even after being frozen.   I found the recipe on and adapted it a little bit.  I am very pleased with the result.  Instead of using the flour blend she has listed I used one that I keep  on hand.  It uses basically the same ingredients, but mine doesn't have potato starch and sometimes it has brown rice and sometimes it doesn't depending on what I have on hand when I mix it up.  It worked great though and the muffins were delicious.   My cooking time was a little bit longer as well.  *I don't have muffin tin rings so I used foil to make little pans to bake them in. 

Gluten Free English Muffins

1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 brown rice flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1 scant tsp. quick rise yeast
1 tsp. cooking oil
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp. warm water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray muffin tin rings with nonstick spray and dust with rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of mixer.  Add oil and water and mix until just blended, scraping down the sides to make sure you incorporate all of the dough.  Then beat on high for another two minutes.  Spoon dough into tin rings.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Be prepared:  they will not be browned on the top, but they will be browned on the bottom. 

IMPORTANT:  Let cool before splitting and eating (delicious toasted or untoasted).

*When Caleb first had to go gluten free I learned to make hamburger buns for him.  Since I didn't have any pans the right size my Dad made me a wooden mold the same diameter and depth of a hamburger bun.  I take foil and fold it over the round mold and up the sides to make individual pans.  Spray them with cooking spray and they work great!