Monday, January 30, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Leftovers (leftover chicken noodle soup from last week)
Taco pie (new recipe I’ll share this week if it turns out :), salad
Lasagna, French bread, salad
Italian chicken & rice, salad


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweet Corn Muffins

I made these muffins the other night to go with a yummy pot of beef noodle soup. I had cornbread on the menu but decided last minute to try something new. They were a huge hit and my family said they made a perfect addition to the soup..

Sweet Corn Muffins

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (aka.. soft white wheat)
1 ½ cups cornmeal
2 cups cane juice crystals or white sugar
2T baking powder
1t salt
4 eggs
1 cup olive oil
2 cups milk

In a large bowl combine flour, cane juice crystals (or white sugar), baking powder and salt. Mix well. In a smaller bowl combine eggs, olive oil and milk. Pour into first bowl and mix well.

Grease 24 muffin tins very well. Fill each muffin cup with about ¼ to 1/3 cup batter. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.


Friday, January 27, 2012


Update on my son Jacob..  Well I thought it was official when I posted my blog this morning but there has been yet another change of plans for him..  he did not sign up today for the Army Reserves and instead will be making different plans..  so I will watch and see how those plans develop this year! 

Updates from the Homestead

We have added a new member to our family!! Our sweet Alpine doe, Bonnie, delivered a little baby boy yesterday!! And he is so cute! He looks more Nubian than Alpine as his daddy, Clyde,  is Nubian. His coloring looks just like mama. Since it was pretty cold out I pulled out one of my baby goat sweaters and put it on him to help keep him warm (  ). By this morning he was all warmed up and walking around with mama dad…

Mom & Dad

January life on our homestead is pretty routine (other than the birth of a baby goat!). For Isaac and Sierra their daily focus is school and we are making good progress through the school year. At the beginning of the school year I shared that I was using Switched on Schoolhouse for my son Isaac. He is using it for English, science and history (we still use Saxon for math). After a half year of using the program I have to say I really like it!! It has saved me a lot of time in correcting papers and organizing a schedule to make sure we are on track. SOS does all of that for me. Isaac likes the program as well. I am pretty sure at this point that we will be using it again next year for him.

That is from the homestead for now!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meatballs for the Freezer

Today I made a big batch of meatballs for the freezer. I used 5lbs of hamburger and followed the recipe for hamburger veggie meatloaf that I have here:

I basically doubled the recipe and made a big bowl full….

I like to use my cookie scoop to make the meatballs. My scoop is 1T in size..

I scooped them out and put them on a greased jelly roll pan (actually it filled 3 jelly roll pans)…

Then baked them at 350 for 20 minutes ..

After they were baked I put them on a pizza pan to flash freeze (It filled 2 pizza pans, cookie sheets would work too). I did not want them to freeze in one big lump.

After they have frozen individually I will put them in a zip lock type bag and put them back in the freezer. Now I can take out however many I need for a meal. It’s a nice convenience to have on hand! My favorite recipe for meatballs is this one: 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Smoothie

I’ve recently been making a breakfast smoothie most mornings and it is sooo good and packed full of nutritional benefits. This smoothie is easy to make and tastes delicious.

Orange & Apple Smoothie
1 orange, peeled, and separated into slices
1 apple, peeled , cored & sliced
1T coconut oil
1 T golden flax seed
1T honey
1 cup coconut milk (or almond milk or regular milk can be used as well)
2 handfuls ice

Put the orange and apple into blender. Add coconut milk, coconut oil and flax seed. Blend until smooth. Add ice to make it thick and slushy.

Here it is in pictures….

Assemble your ingredients…

Prepare the orange and apple…

Put the orange and apple in the blender…

Add the coconut oil, flax seed and honey…

Add coconut milk…

Blend until smooth…

Add ice..

Blend again and serve…

Makes a little over 2 cups of smoothie...


Monday, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Make Ahead Breakfast

Yesterday evening my boys had a couple of their friends come over. The weather outside was quickly turning to ice and not looking so great.. They spent some time sledding down our big hill in the dark and on more ice than snow!! But they had fun. Needless to say the boys spent the night as no one was going to be out driving in such weather if they did not have to!

Before heading to bed I thought about what I was planning to feed everyone come morning time. To save myself some time and effort in the morning I got a breakfast casserole in the fridge.

Sausage Egg Breakfast Casserole

3T butter
3T whole wheat flour
2 cups milk
½ t salt
a few shakes of pepper
1 to 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
2T butter
¼ lb sausage (such as Jimmy Dean)
3 large mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
12 beaten eggs

Begin by making the cheese sauce. In a small pan melt butter over medium high heat. When the butter has melted add the flour and mix until combined. Add milk, salt & pepper. Stir with a wire whisk until it comes to a boil and thickens up. Cook for a minute or so and remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Set this aside.

In a frying pan melt butter and add sausage, mushrooms and onions. When the sausage has finished cooking and the veggies are soft add beaten eggs. Scramble and cook the eggs until they are set. Pour cheese sauce over eggs and mix to combine. Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning bake casserole at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Then to go with the egg casserole I made a batch of muffins. I have apples and oranges as well to serve along with it this morning..

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

2c milk
2c quick cook oats
2 eggs
½ c olive oil
2c whole wheat pastry flour
½ c cane juice crystals or white sugar
4T baking powder
1t salt
1c chocolate chips

In a small bowl combine milk and oats and let sit for 15 minutes. In a larger bowl combine eggs and olive oil and stir. Add flour, cane juice crystals (or white sugar), baking powder & salt. Stir together until mixed and add chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tins that have been sprayed with non stick spray. Bake at 425 for 18 to 22 minutes. Makes approx. 18 muffins

The effort last night made for an easy morning today!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Memorable Happy 18th Birthday to Jacob!

Yesterday was Jacob’s 18th birthday. We woke up covered in a thick blanket of snow and no power. Tobin and I had to go into town to take care of a few necessary things and had to put chains on the car to get down the driveway and down to the main highway, then he pulled over and took them off. They had plowed, but it was still slow going. The city was just fine, mostly just rain. What little snow they had gotten was already melted.

I kept calling home to see if the power had come back on. At one point Jacob called the PUD (Tobin had already called them once in the morning) and they said they were still working on it. It was almost 6:pm when we got home and still now power. At that point it had been 13 hours. All our other neighbors had power but we did not, so Tobin called again only to be told that they thought they were done and had moved onto the next town! We were pretty frustrated.. but at times.. what can you do?? So we hooked up the batteries/inverters and had a little light, and could plug in our modem and router briefly and we got the camping lanterns lit and then started the barbeque. I had originally planed a Mexican Fiesta dinner for Jacob’s birthday.. but that wasn’t going to happen.. so we had bbq’d hamburgers instead! Since the day was so crazy I (or one of my girls) had not been able to bake a cake for Jacob.. instead we got very creative…

The whole evening turned out to be so much fun.. We spent our time together talking, laughing, and just having a great time.

Happy Birthday to my son Jacob! This was for certain his most memorable birthday ever!

Oh.. we did get our power restored at about 1:am.. 20 hours later…

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Making Chow Mien

I had a lady leave me a comment on my weekly menu post asking if I would share my chow mien recipe. Tonight we had chow mien to go along with our orange chicken for dinner. So I took some pics to show you how to make it. I don’t really have exact measurements for it. It is one of those meals I just kind of “wing it”.

First I begin by cutting up my veggies. This recipe is pretty versatile; you can use a large variety of veggies. There are no certain veggies you have to have. For this meal I used: 1 small onion, 1 carrot, 3 red mini peppers, a small wedge of red cabbage and a small wedge of green cabbage. You could also use celery or mushrooms. If you only have one or two of the needed veggies, that works too. You can just a few veggies or lots of them.. it is up to you. I chopped my cabbages up, sliced my onions and peppers and cut my carrot into small sticks…

After I chopped the veggies up I measured out 10oz of whole wheat spaghetti noodles and put a pot of water on to boil…

While the water was coming to a boil I heated my large cast iron frying pan and then added some olive oil to it (enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Then I added my veggies….

While the veggies were cooking my water came to a boil and added the spaghetti noodles..

By the time the noodles were done cooking the veggies had finished cooking…

I added the cooked noodles and then added spices. I used about ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and a ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes..

You could also add meat to this to make it a main dish; chicken, beef, shrimp, pork would all work well. You would cut up the meat into bite size pieces and cook it at the same time you were cooking the veggies.



Monday, January 16, 2012

The Benefits of Having Children Read Classics

I think most everyone would agree on the importance of having children read. As a homeschooling mom I read and saw a lot of really bad literature for children and young people and decided early on with my children that I wanted them to be exposed to books that have stood the test of time and are consider excellent literature, the classics.

Over the years as I would read classic books to my kids and they began to read them as well I saw firsthand many of the wonderful benefits that come from reading classics.

Reading classics will expand and increase vocabulary. Children will be exposed to a vast amount of vocabulary words that they might not hear otherwise. And when the words are read in context it helps in understanding what the words mean.

I’ve seen that reading classics gives children exposure to writers that have an excellent command of the English language. This in turn, I believe, will help make children better writers. When they read and see how our language is used they in turn can learn proper sentence structure and this will help them in their own writing. For some children reading also improves spelling.

I’ve seen that classic books most often have intricate plots. This can help improve thinking skills as the child follows the plot.

I also love how classics will give the reader an in-depth look into history. The books are typically set in various times in history and after reading the book the reader walks away with a much better understanding of that time period.

The best part of reading classics is that they are very enjoyable books to read! Many classics can be hard to get into; they take time developing the characters and the plot. But once you are into a classic book they become almost impossible to put down! There is a reason they are consider classics!!

If you would like a list of some classics and a few resources I have a web page with a book list that I used when my kids were younger: 

This year I assigned my daughter Sierra and son Isaac their book lists of classic books to read and here is what those lists look like:

My daughter Sierra is 16 and in 10th grade and my focus is on American Literature:

Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
David Crockett Scout by Charles Fletcher Allen
Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe

My Son Isaac is in 8th grade and here is his list (more books may be added):

Call of the Wild by Jack London
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The Boy Knight by G.A. Henty
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne


This Weeks Menu


Orange chicken , chow mien, salad
Tacos, chile relleno  casserole, refried beans (Mexican Fiesta for Jacobs 18th birthday)
Baked chicken legs, mashed potatoes, salad

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Garlic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I’m working on adding a few more veggies to our diet. I make a fresh green salad pretty much with every dinner meal but I also wanted to include a few more veggies. I recently tried brussel sprouts. I've served them before and I have to say not many in my family were super impressed… until I cooked them this way.. and the last batch I made were completely wiped out at dinner time. The only one who did share everyone’s enthusiasm for them was my son Isaac.. but then.. he is not all that thrilled with any vegetable :) .. so I’m not really counting his vote in all this!

Garlic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

2lbs brussel sprouts, cut in half
4T olive oil (approx, could be a little more than this.. I did not actually measure, just drizzled)
1T minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup water

Put brussel sprouts in a 9x13 pan. Drizzle with olive and stir to coat all the brussel sprouts. Add garlic, salt and pepper and stir again. Pour water over veggies. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, stir and check them. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until fork tender..


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pizza Crusts for the Freezer

We love homemade pizza! One thing I like to do is make a big batch of pizza crusts and then freeze them for use later on. If I don’t have any in the freezer on pizza night then I make up a batch of dough that will make 6 pizza crusts. My family eats 2 pizzas and the other 4 crusts go in the freezer.

Here is my pizza crust recipe:  I double the 3 crust recipe to get 6 pizza crusts.

To make them for the freezer.. make the dough and let it rise once, punch it down and divide into 6 balls of dough…

Roll them out on the pizza pan (my pan size is: 14 inch) that as been sprayed with non-stick spray…

Par bake (prebake) them for 6 minutes… let them cool.. I have 3 pizza pans and bake one at a time and then slide them off the pan and reuse the pans for the next ones.

When the crusts have completely cooled I wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer….

When I want to use the crusts I pull one out of the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and set it on a pizza pan. It defrosts pretty quickly (an hour or so).. when it has defrosted I put my toppings on and bake according to the recipe…

Having the crusts in the freezer makes dinner pretty simple!!

Here is my favorite pizza sauce recipe:

Pizza Sauce
3- 8oz cans tomato sauce
1- 6oz can tomato paste
1T Italian seasonings
1t minced garlic, heaping
1t salt
pinch or two of cane juice crystals (or sugar) - according to your own tastes

Heat this up on the stove on low until hot.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Basement Storage Area Organization Project!

This last weekend I did my basement storage area organizing project. Every year I go through things and clean up, downsize and organize it. And as the year progresses it gets messy and more things get added to the pile and by January it is time once again to clean up and see what can be tossed or given away.

So… here is what my storage area looked like before I got started…

I knew I would need a place to sort things as I went through it all. I have a room next to the storage area.. we use to call it the music room when I had more kids at home that played musical instruments.. nowadays the room is more of a hang out room for the younger kids..

I started by grabbing the bags of out grown clothing and piling them up in the room …

Then I started opening each tote. I have the tote’s labeled so I know what is in them but it always amazes me each year how much stuff I can get rid of or throw away. I was able to get rid of things and ended up clearing out 4 totes….

Then I attacked the table next to the totes and found things that could be reduced and gotten rid of. When I was done it looked so much better!!
I have already sorted through the clothing finding what could be given away and what needs to be tossed.  Now I need to move on to cleaning out the kid’s closets .. and that thought makes me shudder.. LOL.. but I am determined!!