12 Days of recipes….3~12

Yup, I missed a few days, so you’re getting a bunch at once. ūüôā ¬†Being gone for a week throws a kink in the blogging plans. ¬†Hopefully you will enjoy these favorite recipes of ours, and what better day to give them to you, than 12-12-12. ūüôā ¬†I tried to put a bit of everything in – some to give, some to enjoy….

*Cookie Dough Truffles¬†~ I’m cheating on this one and just giving you the link to the recipe. ¬†Trust me when I say these are delicious. ¬†Totally bad for you, but delicious. ¬†We give these as gifts, and everyone raves about them.

*Homemade Almond Roca ~ This is another that we like to give as a gift. ¬†It’s super easy to make, and we like it even better than the store bought kind…
~ 1/2 C slivered almonds
1 C butter, cubed
2 T brown rice syrup (you can use corn syrup, but only if you want to poison yourself ūüėČ )
1/2 C chocolate chips (or homemade carob chips Рminus the peppermint, unless you want peppermint roca)
Spread out a large, greased sheet of wax paper, or even better, use a large silpat pad.  Sprinkle with almonds.
In a large saucepan over low heat, cook butter and sugar for 5 minutes. Add water and brown rice syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 300¬į (hard-crack stage). Quickly pour over almonds. Sprinkle chips on top; let stand for 1-2 minutes or until melted. Spread and swirl over candy. Cool completely; break into pieces.¬†Yield:¬†1-1/2 pounds.

*Jello Popcorn ~ yes, I know this sounds really strange, but I promise, it’s quite yummy and rather addicting. ¬†We found the recipe in a homemaking book my daughter was using, and it’s become one of our favorites. ¬†I don’t make it very often, due to the ingredients in jello, but it’s still really good. ūüėČ
~1/2 C popcorn kernels
1/4 C butter
2 t honey
1 sm. (3oz) pkg jello – we like to use raspberry or cherry
1-2 t salt, to taste
Pop popcorn according to preferred method. ¬†In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in honey until dissolved. ¬†Add jello and stir to combine (mixture will be thick and “goopy”) ¬†Drizzle over popcorn, stirring and tossing to distribute. ¬†Sprinkle with salt, if desired.

*Pumpkin Pound Cake w/Walnut Sauce¬†~ cheating again. ¬†Another favorite; positively delicious! ¬†Also makes a great gift….

*Nutella Bread¬†~¬†this is one I blogged about awhile back. ¬†Allow me to preface by saying I don’t believe you should consume a lot of Nutella. ¬†It’s really not good for you, no matter what the packaging claims. ¬†Do your research and see what you believe. ¬†I don’t allow it very often, but my kids love it, and I do allow a special treat now and again. ¬†Click the link for the recipe…

*Homemade Face Wash¬†~ yup, I’m giving you a couple that aren’t food related. ūüôā ¬†This is one of the recipes that I’m most asked about. ¬†It’s good stuff. ¬†I haven’t bought face wash in over a year, and don’t see myself buying it ever again. ¬†I don’t buy moisturizer either – with this, you don’t need it! ¬†So it’s a great, all natural recipe, and a money-saver all in one! ¬†Click the link and then scroll down for the recipe.

*Homemade Deodorant ~ yes, I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I love this stuff. ¬†Really. ¬†Awhile back I thought I’d try store bought again, and that didn’t last very long. ¬†I think this is way better. ¬†Works better, is better for you, and you can make the scent according to your liking, or even not scented at all. ¬†And again, it’s much cheaper than what you would find at the store. ¬†You do have to get used to applying it a bit differently, but it’s really no big deal.
~ 5-6 T coconut oil
4 T beeswax, optional
1/4 C baking soda
1/4 C arrowroot powder (you can also use cornstarch)
essential oils
In a small saucepan, melt the beeswax, if using – the beeswax helps with the consistency of the final product, but isn’t absolutely necessary. ¬†Stir in the coconut oil until combined. ¬†Gradually add baking soda and arrowroot powder and mix well until desired consistency is reached. (It will harden a bit as it cools) ¬†Stir in any essential oils that you like for scent – I’ve used sweet orange, patchouli, and lavender (seperately). ¬†At this point, you may either scoop it into an old deodorant container, or just put it in a jar or small container w/a lid. ¬†Because of the coconut oil, in warm weather, it will be softer -and may even melt a bit- than regular deodorant. ¬†Any more, I like to just keep mine in a jar and apply it with my fingertips. ¬†If you rub it in well, it will not stain or mark your clothes. ¬†I apply once in the morning, and am good to go all day. ¬†I never have an issue w/smell. ¬†Easy as that. ¬†Next time you go to buy deodorant, take a look at the ingredients. ¬†See how many you can pronounce and how many of those you really want to put into your body. ¬†Then, put it back on the shelf and come home and make this one! ūüôā

*Homemade Ranch Dressing ~ it’s that time of year, when you are doing lots of entertaining, going to parties, consuming lots of appetizers, etc. ¬†Why not make something that tastes good, and is much better for you than the schlop you buy in the store? ¬†Click for the recipe and read why this is better for you. ¬†Party on.

*Cinnamon Rolls ~ this is Christmas morning tradition for us, and we often make extra pans to take to the neighbors. ¬†The recipe couldn’t be much simpler for “from scratch” rolls. ¬†Just follow the recipe for¬†Master Artisan Bread¬†(just like for the Nutella Bread recipe).
~ Using half of the dough from the original recipe (after first rising), on a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a 12×15″ rectangle. ¬†Spread with 1/2 C butter, softened. ¬†Sprinkle w/cinnamon and sugar, to your liking. ¬†Roll up, jelly roll style, and slice into 12 rolls. ¬†Place in greased 13x9in pan and allow to rise until doubled. ¬†Bake at 350 degrees, 30-45min or until golden brown.
To frost, or not to frost? ¬†Up to you. ¬†My kids like them with frosting, my hubby doesn’t. ¬†I usually do some with, and some without. ¬†Powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to the consistency that we like. ¬†Simple.

*Burnt Sugar Almonds¬†~ this one is another wonderful gift, and rather addicting. ¬†I cut way back on the amount of sugar, and added more cinnamon. ¬†You could also mix it up a bit for different flavors: ¬†instead of cinnamon and vanilla, try salt and pepper. ¬†Or soy sauce, garlic powder and cayenne. (sounds crazy, but trust me, it’s really good.) ¬†Yum.

Okay, so that’s it. ¬†Hope you’ve enjoyed, been inspired, and started creating. ¬†Let me know what/if you try any and what you think! ¬†God bless ~

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Food


12 Days of Recipes…Day 2

I am a couple of days behind on my posts ~ my husband and I spent the last two days driving to Las Vegas. ¬†So I’ll have to catch up on a few when I’m back home and have access to my recipes. ¬†But, for now, I have this one for you…

Molasses Spice Cookies
I originally got this recipe from¬†Taste Of Home, but tweaked it a bit, to make it more to my liking and a bit more healthy. ¬†They are perfect for the holiday season. ¬†I like my cookies on the “chewy” side, and these store nicely, keeping soft for quite a few days in an airtight container or cookie jar.

~ 3/4 C coconut oil (if your home is a bit on the chilly side, you will want to make sure this is softened, so you can incorporate it well.  Alternatively, use 3/4 C butter)
3/4 C turbinado sugar – the turbinado adds to the nice molasses flavor, but feel free to use any type of sugar
1 egg
1/4 C + 2 T molasses
2 T milk
1 t vanilla extract
1 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C unbleached white flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 t salt
3/4 t ground nutmeg
3/4 t ground ginger
additional Turbinado sugar, if desired

~ In a large bowl, cream shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, molasses, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Add more milk, 1 T at a time, if necessary, to make a soft dough.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Remove from refrigerator 15min. before baking to soften.
Grease baking sheet, preheat oven to 350.
Shape/scoop dough into balls of desired size, flatten slightly and sprinkle with additional Turbinado (or reg. sugar) ¬†Place on baking sheet and bake @ 350 degrees, 10-15min. ¬†*I pull mine out just before they look “done,” and let them rest on the sheet for a few minutes, before removing them to a rack to cool. ¬†This keeps them soft and chewy.
Yield: 5 dozen if made in 1 1/4in. balls

Enjoy!  These also make a great gift to hand out to carolers (does anyone even do that anymore?) or to neighbors on Christmas Eve.

This post was linked to: The Homestead Barn Hop

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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Food, Uncategorized


12 Days…of recipes

I couldn’t do a post all about the 12 days of Christmas, without including a clip from one of my favorite Christmas videos. ¬†Actually, my brother and I first learned to love “A Sesame Street Christmas,” on record, if you can believe that. ¬†We would play it over, and over, and over. ¬†Now, we have it recorded on cassette. ¬†We’re old school like that. ūüôā ¬†Anyway, it is one of my very favorite Christmas memories.

So, for the 12 days of Christmas, I thought I would give you 12 of my favorite Christmas recipes. ¬†Some of them, I have altered – changing the ingredients to come up with a recipe that is a bit more healthy. ¬†Some are recipes I have created on my own. ¬†And, some of them are terrible for you, but hey, it’s Christmas. ¬†We all have to indulge once in awhile, and they are just plain yummy. ¬†ūüôā

Day One: Turkey-a-la-King


~ This is our standard, day-after-Thanksgiving meal.  It has become tradition, and it is one of our favorites.
This is a recipe that I came up with on my own, so hopefully I’ve “guesstimated” the measurements right. ūüėČ ¬†It’s not the most beautiful looking dish you’ll ever make, but I promise, it tastes better than it looks. ūüėČ

* 2T olive oil
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
3/4 medium-sized onion, diced (about 1 C)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C chopped, cooked turkey
2/3 C Casserole Soup Mix (alternatively, use 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup)
2 C water
1 C sour cream or plain yogurt
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, cayenne, nutritional yeast

~ In a large saucepan, saute peppers, onion and garlic in olive oil until tender and translucent. ¬†Stir in turkey and heat. ¬†Sprinkle with¬†casserole soup mix¬†and stir to combine. ¬†Gradually add water; stir and simmer until thickened.* ¬†Add sour cream or yogurt; stir to combine and heat until warm. ¬†Serve over rice, quinoa or noodles. ¬†Drizzle with sriracha sauce. ūüėČ ¬†YUM.
*If you are using the cream of mushroom soup, reconstitute it according to directions on the can, then add to pot and continue. ¬†I prefer to use the homemade soup mix, as it is much better for you…

That’s it! ¬†Pretty simple, and a great way to use up leftover turkey. ¬†I realize it’s well after Thanksgiving, but just in case you still have extras lying around, or are planning on making a turkey for Christmas, there you go. ¬†Hope you enjoy. ¬†Let me know what you think.

This post was linked to: The Homestead Barn Hop

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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Food, Ramblings


Homemade…Yay!!! or Nay???

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I am beginning to feel the urge to get prepping. ¬†I always try to plan ahead and buy things all year long that catch my eye when they are on sale, or things that I think would make a great gift and I won’t be able to buy later. ¬†This way, I’m not blowing my budget all at once. ¬†Thank you, Dave Ramsey.
However, I’m feeling a desire to be more purposeful in my gift giving. ¬†To give something that’s truly from the heart or that would really mean a lot to the receiver. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I always have this purpose in mind, but I’m thinking along the lines of homemade. ¬†For one thing, it’s generally much more frugal, and for another, it can truly show how much you care – or don’t, depending on how the gift turns out. ūüėČ ¬†Which leads me to my next point: we’ve all received homemade/handmade gifts that were less than desirable, no? ¬†You know what I’m talking about – the hunk of fruitcake that was made in a coffee can and has a taste that’s reminiscent of Folgers; the hand-knit sweater from a great aunt that makes you a front-runner for next year’s ugly sweater contest; the jar of hot fudge that is so thick and hard, you couldn’t chip it out with a jackhammer. ¬†You get the idea. ¬†While I’m sure that gifts such as these were truly good intentions and heartfelt, I would rather give a gift that can be cherished and enjoyed, not thrown in the compost pile or passed along to Goodwill.

So. ¬†Tell me. ¬†What homemade gifts do you enjoy giving/receiving? ¬†What is the best you have received? ¬†Worst? ¬†What do you hate to receive that’s homemade? What are you looking forward to making this year? ¬†Please leave me a comment and share your thoughts. ¬†Looking forward to it…

Closing with a picture I love:

This one was taken out my dining room window.  It is the view that I am blessed with in the morning while I enjoy my coffee.  Absolutely beautiful.

This post was linked to: Freaky Friday , Small Footprint Fridays, Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursday


Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Ramblings


Squash…and surprises

See that beautiful squash right up there? ¬†That, my friends, is what is known as a “sweet meat squash.” ¬†Ask me how I know this? ¬†Because I grew it – intentionally by mistake. ūüėČ ¬†See, I was so excited this spring about getting my garden planted in my new raised garden beds that my husband made me, that I neglected to carefully mark everything I planted. ¬†So when this bad boy came up, I could not for the life of me figure out what it was. ¬†Hence, the picture you are now viewing. ¬†I put it out there for all to see, trying to find someone who would recognize it in all it’s glory. ¬†After endless searching, I finally figured it out. ¬†Sweet. ¬†Meat. ¬†Squash. Why do you care? ¬†Because it is delicious, I tell you. ¬†Delicious. ¬†Better than pumpkin. ¬†No joke. ¬†Both my husband and my father-in-law termed it “the best squash they’ve ever had.” ¬†So my “mystery squash” turned into a pleasant surprise. ¬†We’ve been eating it just roasted, with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. ¬†That’s all it needs. ¬†However, the other night, I roasted up a bunch and we just weren’t getting to it as much as I’d like. ¬†I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I went off of a similar recipe, and came up with this:

I’m calling it “Pumpkin Apple Crisp,” even though it’s really “Squash Apple Crisp.” ¬†I figured not too many people would like the sound of squash and apples together in a crisp. ¬†Even though, technically, pumpkin IS a squash. ¬†Feel free to substitute pumpkin, if you’d like. ūüėČ ¬†Super easy, super good.

Pumpkin Apple Crisp

3 C cooked, mashed squash (or pumpkin ;))
1/2 C applesauce (I used homemade; you could also substitute 3 medium apples, peeled and sliced)
1/4 C brown rice syrup (or nasty, heavily processed light corn syrup – whatever suits your fancy. ;))
2 T lemon juice
3/4 C brown sugar
1 T arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1/2 t salt
1-2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cloves
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C oats
1/4 C brown sugar
4 T coconut oil (or 6 T butter)
~Mix together squash (pumpkin) and applesauce or apples; set aside.  In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Add to squash mixture, and place in a greased 9in deep dish pie plate, or 9x13in baking dish.
Combine topping ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over squash.  Bake at 350, 35-40min, or until lightly browned. (if using apples instead of applesauce, bake until apples are tender)

There you go. ¬†Let me know what you think. ¬†Oh, and I have extra sweet meat seeds, if you’d like to try it out in next year’s garden. ¬†Just leave me a comment, and I’ll get them to you, or I can let you know how to order some. ¬†Enjoy!

This post was linked to: Simple Lives Thursday , Homestead Barn Hop and Snacktime Saturday


Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized



I love Fall. ¬†It is absolutely my favorite time of the year. ¬†Fresh, crisp air. ¬†Beautiful colors. ¬†Calm, still waters. ¬†Rain. ¬†Ah, I love the smell of rain. ¬†And this year, boy did we need it. ¬†After a month + of smoky, hazy skies, we’ve finally gotten back to clear blue. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to be able to enjoy the splendor, so I am trying to savor the beauty of each day, knowing all too well that it will soon turn to cold, gray, wintery skies, of which I am not so much a fan.
This Fall has been a busy one for us. ¬†We got a bit of an early start back to school, and have been working hard to be diligent in our studies. ¬†It is always nice to get back into a routine. ¬†It has been hard for me to sit down and “write,” b/c I have been trying to find a proper time to work it into our schedule. ¬†That, and it seems like every time I sit down to post something, I am needed somewhere else. ¬†Such is life. ¬†Now that we have been going ¬†full swing, and have a good idea of what a full day looks like, I can hopefully be a bit more consistent. ¬†It’s also a bit of a balance, trying to make sure I keep things in check and prioritize my day properly.
My days have been full of schooling, cleaning, baking, and trying to prepare for winter. ¬†I know I may sound like Ma Ingalls, but I’ve felt a need to store up as much as we can, trying to make use of the harvest and not let anything go to waste. ¬†I’ve processed tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, carrots, applesauce, and am anxiously awaiting the harvest of our potatoes – assuming that there are actually potatoes under all of the green leaves. ¬†While my tomatoes did not do well this year, my jalepenos have been going like gang busters, so I’ve had to get creative w/different ways to keep them. ¬†Two of our favorites are pickled jalepeno slices and “poppers,” that we make ahead and keep in the freezer. I’ve also been making the most of my food dehydrator and have been drying pluots, mangos and herbs from my garden, and am looking forward to doing up some apples here soon. I’ve learned to render my own lard and am looking forward to frying up some yummy pumpkin or apple spice donuts in it. ¬†I’ve dabbled in making our own yogurt and am excited about one more thing I can make myself, where I can save money and not have to buy it from the store. ¬† Our freezer is full of beef and my son has dreams of adding venison to it. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†I am still loving line-drying our clothes, although it takes a bit longer now that the weather has turned colder. ¬†We don’t get much sun at all here in the winter – we’re lucky if we get 45min/day – so I may have to revert to using the dryer, unless we hang a clothes line in the basement, which has crossed my mind. ūüėČ ¬†My next goal is to go elderberry picking so I can juice the berries and make my¬†homemade elderberry syrup, which I absolutely swear by during cold and flu season.
I am looking forward to the rest of this beautiful season and sharing with you what I have been learning/working on. ¬†Normally I would close with “a picture that I love,” but the one at the top of the page just makes my soul go “ahhhh,” so I’ll leave it at that. ūüôā ¬†Enjoy your Fall…

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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


When smoke gets in your eyes…nose, throat, lungs, etc…

Wow.¬† It’s been awhile since I posted.¬† My absence has not been intentional, per se.¬† The end of summer got busy with gardening, trying to stay cool, and school prep.¬† We got an early jump on school, and that has been the majority of our focus the last couple of weeks.¬† But, we are now back into the swing of things, and hopefully I’ll be able to block in some time to post more regularly.¬† I’ve been “experimenting” and learning new things that I am excited to share with you.¬† But for now….

This last week, we have been surrounded by fires.  We have at least one major fire burning on each side of us, except to the east.  Because of weather inversions, the smoke has been horrific.  Here is what our valley looked like, as of this past Friday:
That’s not smog/fog – that, my friends, is smoke.¬† Rather creepy.¬† And if you are a person with lung/breathing problems, it’s not a fun place to be.¬† Because of bouts with pneumonia/bronchitis, I’m told I have bronchial-induced asthma.¬† Hence, when my lungs/bronchial tubes get irritated, I sound like Phyllis Diller on a bad day. ūüėȬ† But I hate using an inhaler.¬† Hate.¬† It.¬† And, since I’m insanely stubborn, I won’t do it.¬† I do, however, enjoy breathing, so I have to come up with an alternative.¬† So here it is…essential oils to the rescue!
*In a small container (I use a recycled yogurt cup), combine:
10-15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil
10-15 drops tea tree oil (I use a lavender/tea tree blend)
Mix well with 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil.
Now, you may think I’m crazy, but here’s the deal – rub this on the soles of your feet.¬† Yes, I know the problem is in the lungs, but trust me.¬† I am speaking from firsthand experience, and I promise, it works.¬† Rub it in really well, and cover with a pair of socks.¬† (I also rub a little on my chest and throat, for good measure)¬† Repeat this every 2-3hrs.¬† When I got up this morning, my chest was heavy, throat scratchy, eyes watering, nose running.¬† Now, I am feeling markedly more clear, and will be re-applying throughout the day.¬† Huge difference.¬† And all natural.¬† Much better than inhaler nastiness.

Now, on to better things…yesterday, some dear family friends of ours (thank you Deb!) blessed us with some delicious, organic pluots.¬† Lots of them.¬† After spending over an hour prepping a bunch to dry, I wanted to come up with a different way to use them.¬† Since I have already canned my fair share of berry jams, and we don’t really use much jam, anyway, that idea was out of the question.¬† So I came up with this…

You’ll have to forgive me for having it half-consumed before taking a picture.¬† And I know it looks really dry, but I promise, it’s quite delicious.¬† My son (who doesn’t like baked desserts) declared it one of the best desserts I’ve made.¬† Thanks, buddy. ūüėȬ† Here’s the recipe.¬† Let me know what you think…

Pluot Crumble
2 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C almond paste* (I use homemade; recipe follows)
1/2 C butter, cut into small chunks
2 T coconut oil
1 t salt
4-6 small pluots
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 T cinnamon
first six ingredients, incorporating butter and almond paste until mixture resembles coarse meal. (If you’d like it a little less dry, increase butter to 1 C.)¬† Spray/butter a 9-in pie pan, and pat in mixture, reserving 3/4 C.¬† Slice pluots and layer over the top, drizzle with vanilla extract.¬† Add cinnamon (use more or less, according to taste.¬† We like cinnamon. :)) to reserved flour mixture; sprinkle over the top.¬† Bake at 350, 40-45 min.¬† Eat as is, or top with whipped cream.¬† Yum.
P.S.¬† If you don’t like/have the almond paste, just substitute with butter or coconut oil.¬† I just liked the almond with the pluots.

*Homemade Almond Paste
1 1/2 C almonds
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 1/2 t almond extract
1/4 t salt
~ Place almonds in a food processor; cover and process until smooth.¬† Add the confectioners’ sugar, egg white, extract and salt; cover and process until smooth.¬† Divide into 1/2c portions, cover and store.¬† Will keep up to 1 month in the fridge, or up to 6 months in the freezer.¬† It freezes really well!¬†

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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Health/Nutrition