Monday, September 30, 2013

Menu Monday and a Blogging Break

Chicken rice Mexican casserole (using chicken instead of hamburger), refried beans, salad

Chili, chips & salsa, salad

Hamburgers w/all the trimmings

Fish sticks, mac & cheese, salad


Tomato soup, ham sandwiches, salad

Breakfast for dinner: cheese omelets, french toast, peaches

As for the break… I’m taking a short blogging break this week.. I’ll be back on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week!!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Canning Spaghetti Sauce and a Day with my Daughter & Grandbabies

I had a great day this last week making and canning spaghetti sauce with my daughter Hannah. I’ve not done a lot of canning this year. It’s been a busy, stressful year for me. If you are a regular reader of my blog then you know that back in January I was hospitalized for a staph infection in my right hand. I had a small cut that caused me major amounts of pain and recovery time. I never knew just how intricate and complicated the hand was until this happened. Who would have known that an infection and a couple weeks of not being able to use my hand would end up with months of physical therapy and recovery and as of today I still do not have complete use of my hand (mostly my middle two fingers). And I may never regain full use but what I do have I’m learning to work with; all that to say, I chose not to plant my usual huge garden. I kept it small because I was not sure what I would be able to do. I did plant several tomato plants. And they are coming ripe now.

I had enough tomatoes to make a batch of spaghetti sauce. I called my daughter Hannah and asked if she wanted to bring the babies and come and help me make spaghetti sauce and can a few jars. She was all over it.

She came in the morning and we began cutting up tomatoes and veggies and simmering spaghetti sauce. I tell you it was such a blessing this year to spend a day with my daughter doing something productive together and spending time with my grandchildren than the actual jars spaghetti sauce was. It is just a change in the experiences for me this year. Canning for me has always been about the jars I had ready for our winter. As life has changed and our needs at home have changed comes a different blessing. I sent jars of sauce home with her and still have a few jars us.

You can find my spaghetti sauce recipe here:

Sierra took a few pics of our day…
Our 20#'s of tomatoes:

The sauce simmering away..

My granddaughter Elizabeth, sweet and loving and such a good girl!!

My granddaughter Rylee.. little miss peanut butter & jelly face.. :) with a bigger than life amount of energy and personality packed into the sweetest little girl…

And my loveable, squeezable, kissable little grandson, Will.. I just can’t get enough time holding and loving on this little guy…

A few jars of sauce (we ended up with 10quarts altogether.. Sierra was being creative with the pic :) )…

A beautiful day on my homestead… Moms if you have little ones .. treasure those days, they become very different days all too soon.. Every season of life is filled to brim with God’s blessings!!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

These sandwiches were a huge hit at my house last week. I had a frozen 3# pork shoulder roast. I put in the crockpot on low before I went to bed. I let it cook through the night and until the afternoon the next day. When it was well cooked and falling apart tender I removed the meat from the crockpot and took off all the fat. I shredded the meat and put it in a stock pot. I poured bbq sauce over it all and heated it up. I served it on buns with coleslaw. It was sooo yummy!

I tried out a new bbq sauce recipe. I found it here:  Honestly it was the best bbq sauce I’ve made. It made a big batch and I did not use it all. I added maybe a cup or so? Not sure because I just added it and mixed it up until it looked right to me.

I made my own coleslaw from my recipe: 

I served it with potato chips for a tasty and easy meal!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Menu Monday!!

Meatloaf, baked potatoes, salad

Baked pork chops, brown rice pilaf, garlic butter roasted mushrooms, salad

Chicken tacos w/all the trimmings, chips & salsa


Swedish meatballs over egg noodles, salad

Bean & bacon soup, cheesy biscuits, salad


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chicken Bacon Pizza with White Sauce

I spent my Saturday in the kitchen making pizza. I was in the mood to try something different. It was, admittedly, a bit time consuming. But the end results were soooo good!! It was the first time I’ve ever made a white sauce for pizza and I think it turned out awesome. I will certainly be making this again.

I began by making the pizza dough (I made 2 pizzas). You can use any type of pizza dough you would like. Store bought, whole wheat, etc.. I made gluten free pizza dough. Sierra said she thought it was perfect for this pizza. I’ve made the gluten free pizza dough several times and always like it as alternative to whole wheat.

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Recipe
Makes 1- 12 inch crust

2/3 cup warm water
1T yeast
½ t sugar or honey
2/3 cup brown rice flour
½ cup + 2 T tapioca flour
2t xanthan gum
½ t salt
1t Italian seasonings
½ t oregano
1 egg
1t olive oil
1t cider vinegar

In a small bowl combine warm water, yeast and sugar (or honey). Set aside to get foamy. In a mixer bowl stir together (with a spoon) flours, xanthan gum, salt Italian seasonings and oregano. Add egg, olive oil, cider vinegar and yeast mixture. Using regular beaters (not dough hooks) mix it up for about 3 minutes. Dough should be very soft (sticky soft).

Line a pizza pan with parchment paper (you can cut it to the round size). Put dough in center of pan and using your hands (use extra flour on your hands to prevent sticking), press the dough to the sides of the pizza pan (approx. 12 inch pan).

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

Add sauce and toppings and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.

If you’d like to make a whole wheat pizza crust here is my favorite recipe:

While the crusts were baking I made the sauce:

White Pizza Sauce
Enough sauce for 2 12-inch pizzas

4oz cream cheese
4T butter
½ cup whole milk or half n half
6T parmesan cheese
¾ cup Ranch dressing

In a saucepan combine softened cream cheese and butter. Heat and stir until smooth and combined. Add milk and heat slowly, stirring until combined. Add parmesan cheese and stir. Add ranch dressing and stir and heat until warm. Remove from heat, use to make your favorite pizza!

With the crust done and the sauce made I was ready to tackle the pizza…..

BBQ Chicken Pizza with White Sauce
for 2 - 12 oz pizzas

½ lb boneless, skinless chicken, cubed
2 to 4T bbq sauce
½ lb bacon, cut into pieces, cooked & drained
Pizza Toppngs: onions, sliced tomatoes, spinach (you can add any type of toppings you would like)
White Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Pizza Crust of your choice (could be store bought if you would like)

In a frying pan heat a little oil (I used coconut oil but olive oil would work too). Add chicken pieces and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Drizzle bbq sauce over chicken and stir to coat. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble pizza:

Spread white sauce on pizza crust. Top with chicken, bacon and veggies of your choice. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes.

Here it all is in pics…
The prebaked crust ready for toppings…

The ingredients for this pizza ready to go… the chicken, bacon, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, greens (this was a mix I had purchased of spinach, baby kale & chard, but any type of greens would work), and sauce in the pan…

After spreading the sauce on the pizza I topped it with the chicken and bacon….

Then the onion, tomato and greens

Top with mozzarella cheese:

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes and serve…



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Homemakers Homestead

Years ago I started a Yahoo group in connection with my website (The Family Homestead). Then I moved to a message board. I ran the message board for 9+ years. I recently closed the message board down due to the time it takes for me to run it. There were issues that were beyond what I had time to deal with. The message board was called, Homemakers Homestead. Instead I created a Face Book group with the same name. It has been up and running for about 2 weeks now. I’m enjoying this much more and the work to maintain it is not anywhere near as time consuming.

The group is intended for Christian women who want to live out their Titus 2 role in life. To ask questions, give encouragement, and give advice on any type of homemaking and homesteading subject. If you would like to join in with this group you can find it here: 

I look forward to seeing and meeting many of you who would like to join the group. If you do join, please take the time to give an intro and tell a little about yourself. Also please take the time to check out our extensive “Files” section and read the Group Purpose document.

Crystal :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nature Journaling

Over the years I’ve loved the idea of journaling. However I’ve not done a lot of it. For several years when my kids were young I would do a daily journal. I do treasure those journals. I’ve had my kids do a few types of journals such as journals for school topics, holiday journals. But not nearly enough in my opinion. Journaling is wonderful way to capture thoughts, pictures, times in life. Sometimes knowing what and how to journal is the biggest obstacle to making journaling part of everyday life.

One day I was visiting various blogs. I was looking at recipes, homemaking tips, etc… and somehow through the wonder of links I ended up on this blog:  A Natural Nester. I loved this nice lady's blog right away. Beautiful pictures, gardens, recipes and much more.

Then I saw she was offering an ecourse for fall journaling called “A Sense of Place: Fall”. Being a mom I immediately thought of my daughter, Sierra. I looked over the course and was so excited. My daughter loves nature, writing, drawing, photography. This seemed like a perfect fit for her. I showed her the course information and she was ready to jump in. I signed her up for the course. She is super excited to start. I’m also considering joining in with her to do this together. I think it would be a lot fun. 

The ecoures is 6 weeks. And each week you get email directions and prompts, and a sense of what to journal about. Here is the course outline from A Natural Nesters website:

Course Outline

Week 1: Discovery ~ Connecting to Your Environment & Self
What is a Nature Journal ~ Why Keep a Nature Journal ~ Nature Journaling Basics

Week 2: Observation ~ Seeing through the Eyes of a Naturalist
Coming to Your Senses ~ Making Connections ~ Developing a Sense of Place

Week 3: Recording with Words ~ Writing Your Truth
Losing Your Mind ~ Finding Your Voice ~ Using Prose & Poetry

Week 4: Recording with Pictures ~ Capturing Your View
Opening Your Eyes ~ Honing Your Focus ~ Using Drawings & Images

Week 5: Creativity ~ It's Totally Personal!
Thinking Outside of the Lines ~ Making it Your Own ~ Journaling with Children

Week 6: Mindfulness ~ Nurturing a Sense of Place
Being in the Moment ~ Practicing Gratitude ~ Claiming "Your Place"

I think the idea of offering an ecourse in journaling is a fantastic idea! I wanted to share this in case any of you would like to participate. The cost of the course is $19.99 . I think it’s a great deal for what she is offering. The class begins on September 23rd.

If you want to check this ecourse out in more detail you can do that here: 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Menu Monday

The weather is cooling down!  I figured some soups would be good this week.  And I have a couple new recipes to try out that I'll share if they turn out good!  :)  

Chili, chips & salsa, salad

Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, chips

Coconut chicken tomato soup, garlic cheese biscuits, salad


Bean & bacon soup, french bread, salad

Bbq chicken pizza w/white sauce, salad


Friday, September 13, 2013

Using my Zucchini

I spent yesterday afternoon in the kitchen dealing with my zucchini (and cooking dinner :) .. I did not have enough to can or turn into pickles and such. But it did need to be dealt with. Here is what I did…

I had this huge one….

I have no idea how Isaac and I both missed this one.. one day there is nothing, a couple days later there are a few almost ready.. then wham.. I think this was hiding .. LOL.. When they get this big, honestly the best use I’ve found for them is to cut them up and freeze them to use in Veggie Broth. I often save my veggie scraps to make veggie broth. Last year I cut up and froze several for this purpose and used them all. So I chopped up this monster and ended up with 3 gallon bags….

Then I took a few more (reasonable sized) zucchini and cut them in half, scooped out the seeds, sautéed them and put them on a tray to flash freeze.

I explained this process here

Finally I took another zucchini and made a double batch of Chocolate Zucchini Bread batter. Instead of making it into 2 loaves of bread, I divided it between 2 dozen muffin pans (baked them at 350 for about 20 to 25 min). I set out a few to eat, but the rest went into the freezer…

Finally Sierra chopped up one and made zucchini pesto pasta (shown here with the baked pork chops we had last night)….

To make the zucchini pesto pasta Sierra cooks about 10 to 12 oz of any type of pasta.  While that is cooking she chops up some zucchini and onions (a smallish to medium size zucchini and about 1/4 cup chopped onion) and sautés this in a little butter.  Then she makes the pesto sauce.  She uses THIS recipe.  When the pasta has finished cooking she drains it and puts it back in the pot she cooked it in and adds the zucchini/onion mix and pours pesto sauce over it all.  Very easy and oh so good! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recipes from my Kitchen

Last night I made a delish and pretty simple dinner. I had caramelized baked chicken, cheaters potato salad and a tomato cucumber salad. It was really good and my family ate it up no problems!

The chicken recipe comes from HERE. My daughter told me she tried it and sent me the recipe. It was so good and very easy.

The potato salad… well, I called it “Cheaters Potato Salad”. I’ve made this a couple times now and really enjoy it a lot. I purchased a 2# bag of frozen southern hash browns. These are hash browns that are in the little cubes instead of being shredded. Saved me the steps of peeling and cutting up the potatoes.

First you need to cook the hash brown potatoes. You can do this anyway you would like. I poked several holes in the bag of hash browns with a fork and then put them in the microwave. I cooked them for about 10 minutes, stopping every few minutes to shake up the bag. After they are cooked I put them in a bowl. At this point you can continue to make your favorite potato salad recipe.

Or here is my basic recipe to use:

Crystal’s Potato Salad

2 to 2 ½ lbs potatoes
3 large eggs
¼ c chopped onion
¼ c chopped pickles
~these amounts of onion and pickles can vary (more or less) as you desire
1 ¼ cups mayonnaise
¼ to 1/3 c pickle juice (start with the lower amount and add more according to your own tastes)
1 T Dijon mustard (regular mustard will also work)
2 t minced garlic from a jar
½ t salt
¼ t season salt
¼ t pepper

Peel potatoes and put in a pot. Cover with water. Add eggs at the same time. Put on stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft. Drain and put in fridge to cool down.
When potatoes have cooled chop them into bite size pieces and put in a bowl. Peel and chop eggs and add these. Add chopped onions and pickles.
In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Add this to the potatoes and mix well. Refrigerate for a while to blend flavors. Serve and enjoy!

My tomatoes are starting to come in now so I have lots to use! My garden fresh tomatoes were my inspiration for this salad..

Tomato Cucumber Salad

5 roma tomatoes, chopped
¾ of an English cucumber (any cucumbers will work), cut into squares
¼ cup chopped onion
Italian dressing
¼ cup sour cream
salt & pepper, to taste

Combine tomatoes, cucumber and onions in a bowl. Drizzle Italian dressing to coat veggies. Add sour cream and mix well. Sprinkle with a little salt & pepper. Refrigerate for a bit to combine flavors.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Menu Monday!

Sour cream enchiladas (did not get made last week, so it’s on the menu tonight!), chips & salsa, salad, cantaloupe

Spaghetti made from fresh tomatoes (my tomatoes are starting to come in!), french bread, salad

Carmalized chicken legs (using this glaze recipe:  ), brown rice, cucumber tomato salad

Baked pork chops, pesto pasta, salad



Buffalo chicken & potato casserole, coleslaw

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

My summer gardens always have me working overtime to figure out the best use of all the zucchini that comes my way. Even just planting 3 plants this year is giving me a challenge to work on! Actually I kind of enjoy it the challenge. Zucchini is yummy, has a variety of ways to cook it, store it, save it, etc.. something just feels good to me knowing I’ve been able to use and preserve as much of this summer bounty as possible. I never buy zucchini so it is a once a year challenge that can give lasting results all year!

I made some chocolate zucchini bread the other day. It was easy to throw together, moist and delicious and my family ate it up without complaints!!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1t vanilla
½ c olive oil
1 c whole wheat pastry flour (or whatever type of flour you use)
½ c baking cocoa
1t baking soda
¼ t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
¾ cup chocolate chips

In a mixer (Kitchen aid, Bosch, or you could easily use a hand mixer for this) combine the eggs and sugars. Add the olive oil and vanilla and blend until nice and smooth. Now add the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, soda, powder, salt & cinnamon. Mix until blended. Add zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a loaf pan. Bake 350 for about 1 hour. Test the bread with a fork or toothpick to make sure it cooked. Cool on a rack, remove from pan, slice and enjoy with a hot cup of tea!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy Birthday Leanne!!

My daughter Leanne turns 22 tomorrow. She is currently in S. Korea and is celebrating her birthday today as Korea is one day ahead of us.

She has had quite an experience living and working in S. Korea. She has learned so much. She has learned how to teach 4th & 5th graders, how to deal with children who don’t want to be there, adjusted to Korean culture, made new friends, adjusted to different weather and living in a very big dense city. Many changes! She has handled them all so well. She will be coming home in December. In just about 3 months I will be able to see her in person, give her a hug and welcome her back home.

This is the first birthday she has not been with family. So many changes come in life as your children grow. This is not the first time one of my children has not been home during their birthday or holidays. But it never gets easier! I miss her very much, but, am so proud of her work and accomplishments and thankful that she has been able to live out her dreams.

She decided a few years ago that she wanted to go to another country to live and teach. She earned her BA in English (in less than 3 years), and then earned her certificate to teach English as foreign language, volunteered her time at the local community college in their Teaching English as a Second Language program to gain experience, then began to apply for a job. She was hired after her first interview. A lot of dedication and time spent pursuing a goal and she is now living it. I know she continues to have goals and plans and will pursue these. And as I sit back as her mother and reflect on the years since she was born, I am in awe of the woman she has become.

A pic of Leanne taken before she left last year…

A current picture of her and a co-worker…

A fun picture of her at her school…

Leanne and a few friends/coworkers took a trip to Japan this summer....

Happy Birthday Leanne!! I love you!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Menu Monday!

Had a busy weekend with family & traveling and am just now getting to posting the weekly menu… 

Dinner at my in-law’s home!

Ham sandwiches, chips, cantaloupe

Fish sticks, potato salad, salad



Sour cream enchiladas, tortilla chips, salad

Kielbasa sautéed with onions & mushrooms, coleslaw, buttered egg noodles