Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Money Saving Mom's Book Is Coming Soon

You can pre-order Money Saving Mom's Budget Book now on Amazon.  I am very excited and can't wait to read this book.  If you haven't checked out Crystal's site, please do so now.  She has some wonderful recipes, freezer cooking tips, and so much more!

The Money Saving Mom®'s Budget Book

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's For Dinner (And In The Freezer)? Meatloaf

When I went back to work a couple of weeks ago, I knew my time to prepare dinner each night would be limited, so I went in search of recipes that were easily doubled so that I could put one in the freezer.  I decided to start with a meatloaf.  This is a very simple recipe, but it turned out to be delicious.

2 pounds ground beef (I used venison)
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs (made from dried bread slices)
3/4 cup salsa (I used home-canned),
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's seasoning

Mix all items together until well combined.  Divide into two servings and freeze.  When ready to cook, thaw meatloaf in the refrigerator and cook at 400 degrees for approx. 45 minutes.  If you don't have time to thaw, add approx 15 to 20 minutes to the cooking time.  I added about 1 cup shredded cheese over the top of the meatloaf and put it back in the oven until melted and bubbly.  It was delicious! 

I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of this, but will try to get one when I cook the one out of the freezer and add it at that time.

Surprise Halloween Guests

Since moving to the farm, we have said that we wouldn't have any trick or treaters unless the cows came by.  We didn't know how true this would turn out to be.  Last Monday when we got home from work, we found that the cows had pushed over a section of the fence and had helped themselves to all of the "treats" - hay, feed, collards, turnips, etc.  Needless to say, they left some "tricks" as well. 

We are now hoping that our garden can recover and that we will still be able to harvest some greens from it.  Fortunately, the raised bed gardens were covered and did not get eaten.  It is amazing how well they are growing.  We are hopeful that we will be able to build a larger greenhouse for next fall/winter.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Missing In Action

I'm sorry that I have been missing in action this past week.  My new job has me on the computer training all day every day so I haven't really wanted to log on when I get home at night.  I have been doing some freezer cooking and have some very good recipes to share.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Putting Food By

We have been very blessed over the past week to be able to "put by" some food for later use.  We have put more venison, rabbit, and pecans in the freezer, and I was able to can 10 quarts of pear sauce thanks to a friend that allowed us to pick the pears from his trees.  I used my Vitamix to help process the pears into sauce and it was very quick and easy.  I will share my step-by-step instruction in a few days.

Being able to take advantage of food items such as these and store them for later times can help ease your food budget.  When I lost my job in July, one thing we knew was that we would not go hungry because of our stored food items.  I encourage you to look into options for storing food.

Here is a picture of the pear sauce after coming out of the canner.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why I Love Canning

My mother canned when I was growing up, but I unfortunately never paid enough attention to learn how to can from her.  After I became a mother, though, I had a desire to learn how to can and to see jars of freshly canned items line my pantry shelves.  So, when I asked my husband for canners for Mother's Day, I am sure he thought I had lost my mind, but he got them for me anyway.  I decided to spend a Saturday familiarizing myself with the pressure canner and spent the entire day canning apples. (I now know that they didn't need to be pressure canned.)  I was so very excited when I completed the project without blowing up the house.

The thing I love most about canning, though, is the convenience that it offers down the road.  For example, since I am now back to work, I have to come up with a quick meal to get on the table when we get home every night.  I am usually putting something together while my husband and son feed the cows and dogs.  This past Tuesday, I had put a roast in the crock pot before leaving for work and when I got home, opened a quart of home-canned red potatoes and a pint of home-canned peas.  I made some quick 3-2-1 biscuits and it made for a quick, but delicious meal.  It is much easier to pass up the fast food restaurant on the way home when you know you have something that can be put together in under 30 minutes.

Here is a picture of the potatoes that I cooked.  I opened the jar and drained the liquid.  Poured the potatoes into a Pam-sprayed glass pie plate, sprinkled on my seasonings of choice (I used onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere's), sprayed them with Pam again so the skins would get crisp, and stuck them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poppyseed Chicken and Rice Casserole

Since I started back to work on Monday, I have been looking for made-ahead recipes that I can pop in the oven for dinner when I get home.  Sunday evening, I cooked some rice and put together the remainder of the casserole on Monday morning before leaving for work. 

Poppy Seed Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 quart home-canned chicken tenders (approx. 12 tenders, but you could use less)
8 oz. sour cream (I used half sour cream and half yogurt because I didn't have enough sour cream)
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used the cream of whatever soup mix that I had made earlier)
1 sleeve crackers, crushed

Cook rice until done.  Mix in remaining ingredients except crackers.  Spread crushed crackers along the top of the casserole and bake at 350 degrees until warmed throughout and crackers are golden brown.   Just before serving, I sprinkled some grated cheddar cheese on top and melted it.  It turned out very good!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

3-2-1 Biscuits

We lived in Louisiana several years ago and some friends we had made the best biscuits.  They used a rough 3-2-1 recipe.

Homemade Biscuits

3 parts self-rising flour (can be made from all purpose flour if needed)
2 parts milk (I used milk made from reconstituted dry powdered milk)
1 part oil (you can use melted butter or oil)

Mix all three ingredients together.  Add additional flour if needed to get to the right consistency.

This is a very quick and easy way to throw together some delicious biscuits!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tomato Gravy

On Saturday morning, my husband took our son squirrel hunting for the first time.  While they were gone, I decided to fix them a good breakfast.  My husband has always loved tomato gravy (which is odd since he doesn't like tomatoes), so I decided to make some for him.  I had never made it, but started with a basic gravy and went from there.  Here is the recipe I used:

Tomato Gravy

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1 1/3 cup milk (make from reconstituted dry milk powder)
1 quart home-canned tomatoes, drained
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in skillet and add the flour a little bit at a time, stirring while adding.  Once flour and oil mixture is browned, add milk, stirring constantly.  Finally, add tomatoes and cook until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

It was delicious!  I will share the biscuit recipe I used tomorrow.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Home Canned Pasta Sauce Secret

I mentioned earlier that I used my home canned spaghetti sauce for the marinara dipping sauce for the pizza and bread sticks. To do this, I just added some sugar to the sauce.  I added about 1 tablespoon to a cup of sauce, but you can adjust to your liking.  The current batches of spaghetti sauce that I am using were made with Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce mix and number 10 cans of crushed tomatoes from Costco.  I have made my own sauce before, but I found these Pasta Sauce mixes on sale last year and stocked up.  If you were to pay full price for the mix (approx. $2.5 per package) and number 10 can (approx. $3 each), you could can you own sauce for approx. $1.70 per quart.  I haven't purchased spaghetti sauce in the store lately, but based on what I have seen, that does still compare favorably to the cost of those cans or jars of sauce.  This is a very versatile sauce.  I use it for pasta sauce, pizza sauce (with 1 small can of tomato paste added per quart), and marinara sauce.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pictures from Around The Farm

It is beginning to feel like fall here, so I wanted to share some of the pictures I have taken around the farm this week.  The beauty of God's creation is all around us.  We just have to take the time to stop and see them.

This post is being shared at Heavenly Homemaker's Gratituesday and Homestead Revival's Barn Hop #33.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Acorns To Oaks

Last fall, our church did a program titled, "Acorns to Oaks".  It was a great little play and made me think about how God grows each of us into exactly what He needs us to be.  Wednesday night at church, the book that my son selected was Max Lucado's The Oak Inside the Acorn (Novel) .  It is a wonderful book that my son has wanted me to read over and over.  The moral of the story is that none of us knows what is in store for our future, but we just have to be "the person God made us to be" and stop trying to be what those around us are.  I highly recommend this book if you have a child or grandchild.  It does open up some great lines of communication about growing up and following God.

Note:  The links in this post are my referral links.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Last year, I got some sweet potatoes at a good price and canned some.  They have made it very easy to make a quick candied sweet potatoe side dish on a week night.  The recipe that I use comes from the Calling All Cooks Three cookbook that I have mentioned before (Blueberry Pound Cake).  It is a very good cookbook and I highly recommend it.  The recipe that I use is as follows:

Candied Sweet Potaotes (modified from Calling All Cooks Three cookbook):

1 quart jar home-canned sweet potatoes
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

These are delicious!  I am just about out of canned sweet potatoes.  I need to get some more and have a canning session!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's for Dinner? Venison Stew

The weather turned cooler here today, so I decided to make a venison stew. (And I am hopeful that my husband will re-fill our freezer with fresh venison, so I wanted to use up what I had.)  Here is the recipe I used:

Venison Stew

2 lbs venison backstrap, cut into 1 inch pieces
5 cups water
4 beef bouillon cubes
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
onion powder, to taste
Tony Chachere's, to taste
celery powder, to taste
diced potatoes, approx 2 cups
dehydrated English peas and carrots, approx. 1 cup
2 Tbsp brown gravy mix
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Brown venison pieces in a small amount of oil.  Once browned, drain excess oil and add water to pot.  Add beef bouillon cubes, salt, pepper, onion powder, and other seasonings.  Cook until meat is tender (about 2 hours).  Once beef is tender, add brown gravy mix and mix well.  Add vegetables and cook until they are done. Just before serving, add flour and cornstarch to thicken.  Allow stew to sit for approx. 10 minutes until thickened to your likeness.

This was a "thrown together" venison stew instead of a "by recipe" meal, but it was delicious and went over very well.  The stew was served with cheese toast on the side.  That is one of the key factors in eating what you've got.   Sometimes you have to make it up as you go and "taste test" until it reaches your desired taste.  Just remember to jot down the recipe if you like it so that you can make it again.

This post is being shared at: Weekend Bloggy Reading

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

How Sweet Eats had a post last week about Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies and got me to thinking about pumpkin and chocolate chips and cookies, so I had to do something about it.  I decided to make my own cookies and add in some pecans since I have pecans running through my dreams these days. 

Here is the recipe I used:

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from How Sweet Eats):

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 can pumpkin puree
2  eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.  Note that these are a moister, cakier cookie than those of How Sweet Eats because I used a whole can of pumpkin puree, but I knew if I only used part of the can, it would end up at the back of my refrigerator and I would wonder what it is months from now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's for Dinner? Chicken Nuggets

My 5-year old loves chicken nuggets.  Pennies on a Platter posted a recipe for chicken nuggets a few days ago that contained powdered sugar.  I had to try it.  Here is the recipe:

Chicken Nuggets (from Pennies on a Platter)

1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used approx 16 chicken tenders and cut them into thirds)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp salt
3 tsp black pepper

Combined milk and eggs in a large bowl and place chicken in mixture to coat. (The original recipe called for allowing this to marinate for 2 to 4 hours, but I didn't leave it in there that long.)  Mix remaining ingredients in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and toss chicken to coat it.  Zip bag and toss until chicken is well coated.  Fry in oil until done.  Once they were done, I placed them on a paper towel to remove the oil and then put them into a 150 degree oven to keep them warm until time to serve.  The remainder can be frozen and then warmed in an oven.

Line Drying Clothes (and Quiet Time)

I mentioned in this article last week that I love to line dry my clothes.  I have to admit, though, that this is the view that I get to look at as I am hanging clothes on the line.

I am grateful that I have this view, that we have clean clothes to wear, that I get to listen to the birds chirp and cows moo and I hang out clothes, and that I have the quiet time to pray for my husband and son with each piece of their clothing that I hang out.

This post is being shared at:


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Applesauce Bundt Cake

I found a very simple Applesauce Bundt Cake recipe from  I make it using either home-canned or store-bought applesauce and it is a delicious and moist cake. 

Here is the recipe:

1 yellow box cake mix (or use a homemade mix - recipe can be found at Chickens in the Road)
2 cups applesauce
3 eggs (I used powdered eggs from my long-term food storage)
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon and set aside.  Mix cake mix with applesauce and eggs until well combined.  Spray bundt pan with non-stick spray and then sprinkle with a portion of the sugar and cinnamon mixture until coated.  Spoon half of the cake mix into the bundt pan and then top with remaining sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Spoon remaining batter into bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for approx. 45 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What's for Dinner? Confetti Bean Soup with Beef

Each year for Christmas, I try to make baskets of homemade goodies to give to each family.  One of the items I included last year was a Confetti Bean Soup jar mix that I found the recipe for at Organized Christmas.  I had a few jars left over, so I decided to spice it up a bit and add some meat. 

Here is the recipe I used:

1 jar Confetti Bean Soup
1 bay leaf (in jar)
1 cube beef bouillon (in jar)
1 quart jar home-canned tomatoes
1 lb ground venison
6 cups water
onion powder, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
Cajun seasoning, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

I quick soaked the beans per the mix directions.  After allowing them to soak for 1 hour, I added the seasonings and tomatoes.  At the same time, I browned the venison and added it to the mix.  I cooked the mix over a low heat until the beans were tender. 

I served this over brown rice with fresh collard greens, cornbread, and candied sweet potatoes (recipe to come later).  YUM!!

This post is linked to: Must Try Mondays

What's for Dinner? Beef and Broccoli with Brown Rice

Last night, I made another dish with something that I had previously dehydrated.  I had purchased several bags of broccoli on sale and dehydrated them last year.  Yesterday, I had half of a London Broil in the refrigerator left over from Saturday night's dinner.  So, I made a Beef with Broccoli dinner and served it over brown rice.  Here is the recipe I used for the sauce:

4 Tbs cornstarch
8 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder

I sliced the remaining London Broil into small pieces, rehydrated about 2 cups of broccoli in 2 cups of boiling water, and sliced up 3 baby carrots using a peeler.  I put about 2 Tbsp oil in the bottom of my skillet and got it hot and put the London Broil pieces in there for just a few minutes to crisp up.  I drained the excess oil and then drained the broccoli and added it and the carrots to the skillet.  I poured the sauce over everything in the skillet and then added about 2 cups of water and cooked it over medium heat until the sauce thickened slightly. 

It turned out very good and was an excellent way to use up left-overs.  One of the best ways to reduce your food budget is to reduce the waste in your food budget.  If you buy something, use it all.  Many times we make something, eat only half and then the remainder gets thrown away after sitting in the refrigerator for a few days.

Raised Bed Garden (and other goings on)

I mentioned that we planted our raised bed garden last weekend.  Here is a picture of it:

These beds are 4 foot by 8 foot divided into 4x4 sections.  The back section of the bed on the left is lettuce.  The front section of that one is spinach and Brussels spouts.  The back section of the bed on the right is broccoli and cauliflower and the front section is cabbage collards.  This is the first time that I have done these beds like this for a fall garden, so I am excited to see how they turn out. 

We bought the clear plastic this weekend so that we can make some covers to put over them when the temperatures start dipping below freezing.  I also put some lettuce in pots than can be brought in and put on the screened in back porch.

We spent part of the weekend putting up lights inside the barn.  My husband was able to get up one side, but the bulbs we bought were the wrong kind, so I will be making a trip to Lowe's today. 

On the cow front, we are having to start supplementing our cows with some protein tubs.  I found an interesting article on "cow-pie-ology" at the Feeds and Feeding website that shows excellent pictures of what you should be watching for to determine whether or not your cattle are getting enough protein.  You may not want to go look at the pictures before breakfast, but if you have cows, it is a very informative site.

I have also been busy with pecans.  I have picked up quite a bit of pecans and am interested by the different types of pecans that I have found.  I am going to do a little research on those and will put what I find into a later post. 

This post is being linked to:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Using Home Dehydrated Foods

I have said before that I love my Excalibur dehydrator.  I have, over the years, dehydrated so many things using it.  I have used two of those items in meals today.  This morning, I used dehydrated shredded potatoes to make hash browns for breakfast.

Tonight, I am using some dehydrated collards to go with our dinner meal.  The collards were purchased frozen on sale.  I dehydrated them and sealed them in jars to keep from using precious freezer space. 
I will go into more detail on dehydrating specific items in later posts, but wanted to give you a snippet of information on using dehydrated items.  If you are interested in specific items, how to dehydrate them, and how to use them once dehydrated, please let me know and I will incorporate them into future posts.

Buying items on sale and dehydrating them is a great money-saver.  Not only does it help you lock in your food costs at a low purchase price, it doesn't take up precious freezer space and there is no risk of losing everything in case of a power outage.  As I have said before, you don't have to start out with a top of the line dehydrator.  Be on the look out for one at a thrift store or garage sale.  I have often seen them for $5 or less.  If you don't find one, remember that Christmas is coming and it is OK to ask for "out of the normal" gifts!

Come see us for more helpful homemaking tips at She Makes Mondays!!

What's for Dinner? Pizza with Breadsticks

By now, you know that we have pizza night each Friday.  This week, I modified my original dough recipe that I shared here by substituting 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour.  I am trying to increase our whole wheat usage (because it is better for us and I have alot available).  Also, I made cheese breadsticks with marinara dipping sauce.  To make the cheese breadsticks, I used the pizza dough recipe and put it into a rectangle pan and cut it into sticks (similar to those you get at Pizza Hut).  After that, I brushed some oil on the breadsticks, sprinkled them with garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasonings, and mozzerella cheese and baked them with the pizzas.  They were a hit!  I really needed to use a smaller pan so that the sticks would have been thicker, but my 5-year old liked them just fine the way they were.  To make the marinara sauce, I poured some of the pizza sauce (canned spaghetti sauce with a can of tomato paste added) into a small boiler.  Added 1 Tbs. sugar and cooked over low to warm.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What's for Dinner? (Thursday) Grilled Chicken with Linguine and Cream Sauce

While at the local dollar store today, I spotted a box of Mediterranean Chicken and Angel Hair pasta mix where you added the chicken.  It really looked delicious and I picked it up to buy, but then I got to thinking, why spend $1 when I have everything I need at home to make a similar meal.  So, I put the box back on the shelf and came home.  I got some frozen chicken tenders out of the freezer to thaw and went to raid the pantry.  I decided to use some whole wheat linguine pasta (because I didn't have any angel hair pasta) and to use my Cream of Whatever mix as the base for my sauce. (I used 2/3 cup mix to 2 2/3 cups water and added about 2 Tbs Parmesean cheese.) I must say, it really did turn out great (and I still have that $1 in my pocket.)

Now, $1 probably wasn't a bad price for that box mix, but the point is that we need to start thinking about what we have on hand to make the meals we want instead of just going out and buying something new.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

I am so happy that Carrie from In The Sweet Sunshine has awarded me with The Versatile Blogger award!!!  Thank you so much for that honor, Carrie!

Here are the official rules:
1.  Thank the person for the award and link back to them in your post.
2.  Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
3.  Give this award to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
4.  Contact those bloggers and let them know the exciting news.

Here are my seven things:
1.  I have canned cabbage.  (Don't ask me why.  I was just in one of those stages where I wanted to can everything that I could get my hands on.  It didn't turn out very well and I will stick to dehydrating cabbage from now on.)

2.  I love cookbooks!  I have a rather large collection of cookbooks that I have collected and like to just sit and thumb through them.

3.  I want to learn to milk a cow.  OK, so this started because my 5-year old wants to learn to milk a cow too, but I got to thinking, why not???

4.  I like hanging clothes on the line to dry.  I enjoy the smell of line dried clothes, but I really enjoy the experience of hanging them out, too.

5.  I hope to one day have some chickens.  We go though quite a few eggs at our house.  I have been able to get some free range eggs from a friend, but would like to have some of our own.

6.   I don't wear sandals.  I never have been able to walk very well in them - I always end up twisting my ankle.

7.  I love to read.  I think I got this from my maternal grandmother because I always seem to remember her having something to read by her rocker.  My husband bought me a Kindle for Mother's Day and I am enjoying all of the reading options.  (I no longer have to carry a bag of books everywhere I go.)

And here are the 15 blogs to which I am awarding The Versatile Blogger award.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

1.  Nap-Time Creations - "My dabbles into just about everything creative"
2.  Lynn's Kitchen Adventures - "Wholesome and delicious meals from my table to yours"
3.  The Farm Girl Recipes - "Where home cooked is simple and yummy"
4.  A Nest In The Rocks - "Striving to create a home strong in the foundations of love, respect, and God's truths . . . "
5.  Sweet Pea's Kitchen - "My daily adventures in the kitchen"
6.  Life's Simple Measures
7.  My Favorite Finds
8.  The Dollar Hollering Homemaker (I love that name!!)
9.  A Provincial Life - "Back to basics"
10. Homestead Revival - "Simply Home. Family. Faith"
11. Cherish Home
12. Keeper of the Home - "Naturally inspired living for the Christian homemaker"
13. Passionate Homemaking - "Loving simple, natural, intentional living"
14. Thy Hand Hath Provided - "Living simply in order to give"
15. Deep Roots at Home

Canning and Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

In case you haven't figured it out already, I love canning.   (More posts on that coming later.)  I love the satisfaction of seeing those filled jars sitting on the counter once they come out of the canner and I love hearing the "ping" of a sealing lid.  I do hate the waste of the one time lid, however.  I do reuse them when I store things in the refrigerator or  use them to store dry items, but in the long run, most of them are one-time only uses. 

Since I am always looking for ways to save money and reduce waste, I have been researching Tattler Reusable Canning Lids.  They have had some very good reviews from Jackie Clay at Backwoods Home Magazine and Amy at Homestead Revival (great tutorial here).  My primary concern is the initial cost ($20.95 for 3 dozen regular mouth lids and $23.95 for 3 dozen wide mouth lids) and the volume I would have to purchase to do all of my regular season canning.  I usually can several hundred jars of various foods items.  I think I would have to purchase them in stages to get enough to do all of my canning.  As Amy at Homestead Revival mentions also, there is the issue of items that you plan on giving as gifts.  You would have to either use regular lids for those item or request the Tattler lids back. 

Have any of you used the Tattler lids?  If so, what are your opinions?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Letting Go of Stuff

I just finished reading Adam Raccoon in The Lost Woods by Glen Keane to my 5-year old son.  It is a kids book that we checked out from the church library tonight.  It is a story that more adults need to hear.  The gist of the story is that we need to let go of the "stuff" that we are holding on to and hold the Master's hand to make it through the tough and scary times that we face (and day to day life).  In the story, Adam Raccoon can only get through The Lost Woods when he lets go of the of the final little things that he is holding on to and holds King Aren's hand.  How many times do we let the "things" that we let bog down our life come between us and God?  We have to let those things go and hold to his hand to get to the beauty that he has in store for us.

This post is linked to Good Morning Girls.

The links in this post are my referral links.

Nescafe Doce Gusto Piccolo Giveaways at Simply Irresistable and Daily Dish

You can enter for two chances to win a  Nescafe Dolce Gusto Piccolo coffee machine at Simply Irresistable and the Daily Dish.

I don't have one of these, but have some friends that do and the coffee is very good!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's for Dinner? Sloppy Joes with Fried Baked Potatoes and Home Canned Great Northern Beans

My son has requested "sloppy joes" for dinner tonight, so I will be making them using ground venison.  You can use whatever ground meat you have on hand.

Sloppy Joes
1 lb ground meat (I used ground venison)
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs mustard

Brown meat and drain if necessary.  Add barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mustard and mix well.  Serve on buns.

For the fried  baked potatoes, I took a couple of baked potatoes that were left over from a couple of days ago and diced them, put them in a skillet, sprayed with spray butter, and sprinkled seasoned salt on them.

The home canned great northern beans were very easy.  I just emptied the jar, added a little water and some seasonings and let them simmer while everything else cooked.  It is very nice to have home canned convenience items because you know how they were processed and what was put in them.

This post is being shared on Tasty Tuesdays at 33 Shades of Green.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Jess over at Life's Simple Measures had a posting about chocolate dipped peanut butter cookie sandwiches last week.  That got me to wanting some Peanut Butter cookies.  Since my son was out of school today, I decided that this was something we could do together (in addition to checking on the cows and picking up pecans).  We decided to stop at the peanut butter cookie stage and they are delicious.  Here is the recipe:

Peanut Butter Cookies (modified from Gooseberry Patch's 101 Cupcake, Cookie & Brownie Recipes)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I grind hard white wheat)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix first four ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for approx. 10 minutes.

Yes, there is a cookie missing.  I had to "taste test" one to make sure they were good. (They were!) ;)

Oneida Bakeware Giveaway at Frugal On the Cheap

Frugal on the Cheap is giving away a set of Oneida bakeware.  You can get more details and enter at

Don't Throw Out Those Old Coffee Grounds

The idea of being frugal and getting the most out of each product that you use includes not throwing something away that can have another use.  So, don't throw out your old coffee grounds!  Use them in your garden.  This eHow article gives you several examples of how you can use them in your garden and potted plants.  I put mine in a half-gallon mason jar each day and empty them in the garden once the jar is full.  It helps to get them in the jar cleanly if you use your canning funnel when putting them into the jar.

Come see us for more helpful homemaking tips at She Makes Mondays!!

What's for Dinner? Sticky Chicken and Brown Rice

I originally found a recipe for Sticky Chicken at  I knew it would be a keeper the first time I made it.  This is a recipe that could easily be made in the oven or crock pot.  I serve it over brown rice and have vegetables on the side.  I doubled the original recipe because I wanted a lot of sauce to go over my rice.  Here is the recipe I used:

Sticky Chicken (modified from

4 Tbs Soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup chili sauce
4 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 quart jar of home canned chicken (approx. 12 chicken tenders)

Mix all sauce ingredients together.  Drain chicken and place in a baking dish and cover with sauce.  Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 30 minutes until sauce is bubbly.  Serve over rice.

I served this with my home-canned green beans and home-frozen cream corn.  Delicious!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Free ABC Scripture Cards at I Can Teach My Child

I got this link from Money Saving Mom and wanted to pass it along to you.  I am very excited to begin memorizing these ABC Scripture Cards bible verses with my 5 year old son.  They were shared by Jenea at  Thank you so much Jenea!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Proverbs 16:9 - Making Plans

I am in the process of reading Courageous, a book by Randy Alcorn based on the Courageous movie.  I haven't seen the movie yet, but have heard great reviews about it.  You can check out this link to see if it is playing at a theater near you.  While reading last night, I came across a reference to Proverbs 16:9.  Proverbs 16:9 states:

"In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps." (NIV)

I have often heard the phrase, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans."  I'm not so sure that is true in the strictest sense, because I do believe that God wants to hear our desires and plans, just as parents loves to hear the dreams and desires of their children.  But, we do need to make sure that our dreams and plans are in line with those of our Heavenly Father.  The only way we can make sure that is the case is to continually spend time with Him through prayer and studying the Bible. 

Sometimes we lay out 5 or 10 year plans for our lives and live each day in anticipation of those goals and forget to enjoy the trip along the way.  When we face a bump along the road, or our 5 or 10 year goals get sidetracked, we can sometimes become very discouraged and disappointed.  We should know, however, that God's plans and dreams for us are far better than any we can dream.

So, it is OK to dream and plan, but do it with the prayerful request of God's guidance to make dreams and plans that would be in lines with His desires for us and be thankful that God's plans are always what is best for us. 

This post is linked to .

Busy Weekend

We had a very busy weekend and were able to get quite a bit accomplished.  My husband was able to get the bays of our barn lighted and my son and I planted raised beds of lettuce, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage collards, cauliflower, and spinach.  I hope they are very productive!

I wanted to share this picture of the sun setting on our cows in the back pasture.  Isn't it beautiful?

Come over to Homestead Revival for the Barn Hop!

What's for Dinner? Steak and Baked Potatoes with Biscuits

Tonight, we had steak, baked pototaes and salad.  I wanted a biscuit or roll to go with them similar to Popeye's biscuits.  I went in search of a recipe, but could only find ones that required a Sprite or 7-Up until I found this recipe at  I used half the butter (because that is all I had available).  This is the final recipe I used:

Biscuits (adapted from
2 cups flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbs buttermilk powder
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water

Mix all dry ingredients together and add diced butter.  Mix until crumbly.  Add buttermilk powder, water and milk.  Mix until fully incorporated.  Roll to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into 3 inch circles. (You can use a cutter or a glass.)  Bake at 400 degrees until browned.  They were delicious!

What's For Dinner? Saturday Night

Last night, we had baked potatoes with shredded Boston Butt, Mozzarella cheese, and barbecue sauce on them.  This is another quick option that you can keep available for those nights where you are short on time.  I usually purchase a couple Boston Butts when my Church does a fund raiser, shred them, and place them in Ziploc bags in the amount that we will use for one meal.  Pull a bag out of the freezer and place the meat in a glass bowl.  Warm in the microwave for 6 to 8 minutes and place on top of a baked potato.  Top with barbecue sauce and then cheese.  Warm in microwave again until cheese is melted.  We ate a side salad with ours and it was a filling and delicious meal to complete our busy Saturday.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What's for Dinner? It's Friday, so It's Pizza and a Movie

I am making my usual homemade pizzas for dinner tonight.  The difference tonight is that I used cast iron skillets for both pizzas, left the crusts in for an additional minute or two, and sprinkled a little bit of cornmeal on the pan before putting the crust on the pan.  Those actions made a big difference in the crispiness of the crust.  It was much better than a purchased pizza!  I would have posted an updated picture, but we dug in before I could get the camera out.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What's for Dinner? Tomato Soup with Rice and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Since I have been on a field trip today with my son, we are doing something quick and simple for dinner tonight.  It is very important to have the makings of such a simple and yet filling meal on hand for such occasions.  Otherwise, it would be very easy to be tempted to run through the first drive-through that you see.  To make this meal, I will use a couple cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup that I caught on sale a while ago at 2 for $1.  I will add some celery salt, onion and garlic powder, and pepper.  I will use some left over brown rice to give it some additional filling power.  I will grill the sandwiches in my cast iron skillet with some butter.  I will probably throw a side salad together to complete a frugal, filling, and quick meal.

Powdered Cream of Whatever Soup

The chicken and dumplings and cornbread dressing meal I made on Tuesday called for several cans of "cream of ___" soup.  At a dollar or more a can, that can make for an expensive meal.  I searched the Internet and found several references to a powdered cream of whatever soup that you can have on hand to use in recipes calling for a "cream of ___ soup".  Here is the recipe:

Powdered Cream of Whatever Soup
2 cups powdered milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered chicken bouillon
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper

To cook, use 1/3 cup powder and 1 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent burning, until thickened.  Add celery or mushroom (powder, dried, or fresh) for cream of celery or mushroom.  This recipe replaces approx. 7 cans of cream of whatever soup.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What's For Dinner? Chicken and Dumplings with Cornbread Dressing

These cooler days have me in the mood for some "holiday" cooking, so I decided to go ahead and make chicken and dumplings with cornbread dressing last night.  I figured it would be over a month before we had it again at Thanksgiving so we wouldn't burn out on it now.  Since I knew I had to take my son to the church for a meeting right after school, I needed something I could put together ahead of time and throw in the oven when we got home so that it would be ready when my husband got home from work.  Both of these worked well.  I put them both in glass dishes and put them into the refrigerator.  (When doing this, be sure to allow the glass to warm to room temperature before putting them into a hot oven or on a hot stove.  I turned the eye on the lowest setting to warm the glass.)

To make the cornbread dressing, this is the recipe I used:

Cornbread Dressing

Basic Cornbread
3 cups cornmeal (I used a mixture of white (what I had left) and yellow that had been ground from popcorn)
2 Tbs baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup milk (made from reconstituted powdered milk)
1 egg

Mix all ingredients at bake at 325 degrees until done and browned on top.

Basic Cornbread, crumbled
1 12.5 oz can of chunk chicken breast (I normally would have used my own canned chicken or freshly boiled, but had this that needed to be used)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sage
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
2 eggs
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
10 3/4 ounces water (same as soup can)
1 cup chicken broth (I used a chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup hot water)

Mix all ingredients together and put into a casserole dish.  Put a few pats of butter on top if desired.  Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Chicken and Dumplings
1 lb chicken, boiled until fork tender
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 cups chicken broth (I used the water from boiling the chicken)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
8 - 10 small flour tortillas

Cut tortillas into desired size - approx. 1 to 2 inch squares.  Combined chicken, soups and broth.  Once bubbling, add tortillas one piece at a time using a spoon to gently push them down into the broth. Reduce heat and simmer until the dumplings are all softened.

This is the first time that I have used the flour tortillas as dumplings, but they turned out fantastic.  My mother has been trying to get me to try them for some time.  I should have listened earlier.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

I had some bananas that were getting overripe and had picked up some pecans last week, so I decided to make a couple loaves of Banana Nut Bread.  I modified a recipe I found at  This is what I did for each loaf:

Banana Nut Bread
1 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 medium bananas)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup milk (I used reconsitutued powdered milk)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup all pupose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix all wet ingredients until well blended.  Add sugars and then add flour, baking soda, and salt.  Lastly, add chopped pecans.  Pour into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray and sprinkled with sugar.  Bake at 325 degrees for approx. 1 hour.

Proverbs 17:1 - Being Thankful For The Simple Things

This verse was part of my bible study yesterday morning and I thought about it several times during the day.  It is:

"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife." (Proverbs 17:1, NIV)

It made me think about how often we don't stop to enjoy the simple things in life in our striving to always have and be the best.  Our society has stressed that we "don't settle for anything less" and as a result, we strive for more money and things that we think will make us happy. We often forget, though, that we don't need to settle for anything less than God's best for us.  That is where true happiness lies.  We don't have to have a seven course meal every night to be happy.  Our food doesn't have to be gourmet to fill our stomachs.  How many people lie down each night with an empty stomach? 

I thought about this verse again last night.  We were outside in our barn and my husband was putting in the wiring for the electricity.  My 5 year old son sat on the floor and had the best time playing with some scrap pieces of 2 x 4 that my husband had used to make some shelving.  My son made towers, airplanes, and who knows what else with those pieces of scrap wood.  He didn't need an expensive toy to make him happy.

When I lost my job in July, we didn't know how we were going to make it.  We have cut out several monthly expenses, but in truth, it has made us much more thankful for the things we do have and has made us understand even better that God will provide.

How will you enjoy God's best today and stop to enjoy the simple and peacful pleasures that are right in front of you?

Stop by for more "Gratituesday" thoughts.

Visit Good Morning Girls for a devotional study on 1 John.

Go Bananas!

She Who Makes . . . has a great idea for slicing bananas at her website.  Another banana tip is to make your own banana chips using a dehydrator.  I buy the clearance bananas when my grocery store has them and slice them thin and either freeze them or dehydrate them.  From the freezer, they are great to use in smoothies, banana bread (recipe later today), or any other recipe calling for mashed bananas.

The key to dehydrating bananas successfully is to put them into something to keep them from browning as you cut them.  I usually use pineapple juice because I like the touch of sweetness it gives them.  You can also use Jello powder to sprinkle on them before dehydrating (think chocolate covered bananas or strawberries and bananas).  Note that these banana chips will be different from those that you get at the store.  They are chewier, but are very good!

By the way, if you don't have a dehydrator and don't want to spend the money on an Excalibur right now, I recommend keeping an eye out at your local thrift store or at garage sales.  You can sometimes find them for just a few dollars.  The Excalibur does open up other options (like making yogurt, allowing bread to rise, etc.), but a basic round dehydrator would at least give you and idea if you are going to like to use them to dry foods.
Come see us for more helpful homemaking tips at She Makes Mondays!!

What's for Dinner? Beef and Black Bean Burritos

I had cooked some dry black beans a couple days ago and I needed to use up the last few cups, so I decided to make beef and black bean burritos for dinner last night.  Here is the recipe:

Beef and Black Bean Burritos

1 lb ground meat (I used ground venison)
1 jar salsa (I used a pint jar of home canned salsa)
3/4 cup water (I primarily did it to get all the extra out of the salsa jar, but it made a nice sauce)
approx. 2 1/2 cups of black beans, rinsed
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
10 flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups cooked rice (I cooked 1 cup dry brown rice and had a small bowl left over.)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese of your choice (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

Brown ground meat and drain excess fat if necessary.  Add drained black beans, salsa and water.  Add chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Simmer until thickened slightly.  To make burritos, I put 1/4 cup rice, 1/4 cup meat and bean mixture, and 1/4 cup mixed cheese in each tortilla.  I made 10 burritos and have enough meat mixture left to freeze. (It will probably be added to a "Taco Junk" stew.)

Here is what the beef and bean mixture looked like: