Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Creamy Potato Soup – or.... Kalua Pork, Part 2!

On Sunday I shared the Kalua Pork recipe.. a super yummy meal!! It was a 5# pork shoulder roast. After we ate I had roast leftover. So I decided to make soup. With fall time beginning to make its appearance I'm in the mood for soups!!

This was super good! And pretty easy to make.

Here is the recipe...

Creamy Potato Soup w/leftover Kalua Pork
2#'s potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces... or if you want to cheat like I did you can use a 2# bag of frozen hash browns (“southern style” .. the little cubes, not the grated type)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cube/stick butter
½ cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups milk
3 to 4 cups shredded cheese
4 to 5 cups cut up leftover Kalua Pork
1 can corn, drained

In a large stock pot add potatoes and cut up onion. Add water, just enough to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, in another stock pot heat butter until melted on medium high heat. Add flour and stir and cook until well combined. Add chicken broth and milk. Bring to boil and cook until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted.

When potatoes have finished cooking add pork and corn. Pour in chicken/milk/ cheese mixture into pot with potatoes. Stir and serve.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Menu Monday!!

Hot dogs, baked beans, macaroni salad, fruit

Homemade pizza, salad

Chicken pot pie, salad


Korean beef pot roast, brown rice, salad

Creamy broccoli & meatball soup, salad, french bread



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crockpot Kalua Pork

So good!!! That is what I can say about this recipe. I've seen it circulating on the internet for quite some time.. I always had my doubts about how something with 4 ingredients could get such rave reviews on every site I visited.. but.. I'd have to agree..

To make this you will need a 5# pork shoulder roast... you do NOT want to use a pork loin roast.. you want the fatty roast, because this is what will make this recipe fall apart, moist and delicious. If you use a leaner roast you will end up with a dry roast.

The other 3 ingredients are Hawaiian Red Sea Salt, bacon and garlic. I first went to look and see what Hawaiian red sea salt was.. it is sea salt that has been combined with a red clay from Hawaii.. and not only is high in minerals, but gives a slight smoky taste as well. It is used often in Hawaiian cooking.  I bought mine online from Amazon, because I could not find it locally in the stores I normally shop at. I'm sure it could be found in specialty type grocery stores.. but I did not have enough time or energy to go hunting it down. So having my trusty UPS man deliver it to my door (free shipping!) was the best choice for me.

You begin making this recipe by putting a few slices of bacon on the bottom of your crockpot....

Next is the roast. I cut mine into 3 pieces. I put two on top of the bacon, sprinkled some sliced garlic cloves over it and sprinkled the Hawaiian Red Sea Salt over it, added the last piece and did the same thing....

Cover and cook on low for 16 hours.. yes, 16, I started this at night before going to bed. The next day, after cooking time is done, take the roast out of the crockpot and put it on a plate...

You now need to shred the roast. You do not want to do this in the crockpot. The long cooking time means the salt is even more intense. It would be too salty.. so take it out of the crockpot.. and shred it. I used two dinner plates to shred mine....

At this point you can taste it and see if it needs any more seasoning.. if it does, take some of the juices from the crockpot and drizzle over it. I found mine was just perfect. I served it with mashed potatoes and a salad...

Crockpot Kalua Pork

3 or 4 slices bacon
1 5# pork shoulder roast
6 or 7 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 ½ Tablespoons Hawaiian Red Sea Salt

Line bottom of crockpot with bacon. Cut roast into 2 or 3 large pieces.. layer roast, garlic slices and sprinkle Hawaiian Red Sea Salt over all. Cover and put on low for 16 hours. Remove roast from crockpot and shred. Serve with mashed potatoes (or any side dish of your choice) and a green salad.. and enjoy!!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

She Did It!!!

On Monday night my daughter Sierra graduated from dental assisting school.  It was an intense 13 week program.  She put in her school hours, extra lab time, 50 hours of externship at a local dentist office and continued to work her job in the deli at a grocery store in the city.   Her dad and I are extremely proud of her hard work, dedication and tenacity!  She passed the course, both a written exam and clinical exam, with flying colors.   She now has her testing for the state of Washington scheduled in October and will be job searching.  She will also be scheduling her test for the state of Oregon as well so her job possibilities will be greater. 
This is a pic of her graduating class and her teacher taken on Monday.  Sierra is on the far right, at the end of the second row...
And Sierra with her teacher and the dentist she worked with at the school...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Friends ...

When you are online a lot you meet a lot of people.  Some friends become lifelong true friends.  I have one of those super special friends.  I met her many years ago on my message board.  She had two little boys and was just beginning to homeschool.  We became good friends and since then have chatted many times on the phone and had the opportunity to meet in person a few times.  Her hubby & her and boys came to a homeschool convention in Vancouver Wa a few years ago and they came to meet me for the first time..  Erica also made (Facebook) friends with several of my children who love her as much as I do.. When my daughter Emily got married she invited Erica and her family to her wedding in California and they came.  That was our second time meeting in person.  This last week her family was vacationing in Washington and came to our home on their way home to California.  They spent the night with us and I invited my family to come out and we had a bbq and a lot of fun time together! 
The internet has been amazing as Erica and I have said..  if it were not for the internet, her and I would never have met!!  Here are some pics of our time together...
The 4 of us...
Fun at the pond...
Our evening BBQ and visiting...
Erica & Emily...
Erica and me...
More family...
Our boys playing cards..
It was a super fun visit..  the next morning we enjoyed a leisurely pace, had coffee and breakfast.  I made cinnamon rolls, breakfast casseroles, and yogurt and fruit...  they headed on their way home and we all promised we would plan another visit soon!! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Monday!!

Last week was very busy!!  Had lots to do and friend visiting from California..  we had a great time!!  And now it's on to a new week..  and the first week in fall!!  Happy Fall!!  I'm still waiting for the weather to cool down.. because for the last couple days it has been nearly 90!!  I'm sure fall will be here soon..  I'm ready for some fall cooking..  soups, stews and the like..   I had a hard time coming up with this weeks menu.. it was hot, and I had no desire for food.. so it made it a bit difficult to figure out what to eat this week!!  But I came up with a menu that looks like it will work. 

meatball subs, salad

Yummy pinto bean soup, chips & salsa, salad

chicken pot pie, salad


Ranch chicken, cilantro lime rice, salad

Kalua Pork, garlic roasted potatoes, salad



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Making Salsa!!

I’ve mentioned in a few blog posts that I did not plant a garden this year. I’ve been very blessed by the neighbor down the road who has shared the bounty of his garden with us. He’s given us green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, and as of Sunday, tomatoes! He gave us a huge amount! Said he and his wife had canned lots of salsa and tomato juice and did not want to see them go to waste. I told him I’d make salsa from them!! And then he went out and picked green peppers and jalapenos while we were there as well. I came home and weighed what I had.. 40lbs of tomatoes!

Yesterday while grocery shopping I picked up all the rest of the needed items to make salsa. This morning I got at it and gathered it altogether to make a double batch of my salsa recipe…

I began by coring and putting my tomatoes through my food processor. I do not peel them. It is an added step that to me is unnecessary. I’ve done it this way for years now, and never had a problem with using unpeeled tomatoes…

I put the chopped/pureed tomatoes into my big 14qt stock pot and then proceeded to do the same thing with all the other ingredients.. the onions, hot peppers (make sure to wear gloves for the hot peppers!!!), green peppers, garlic, and cilantro. I put everything into my big stock pot..

And then added the vinegar and spices and heated up and let is simmer for about an hour. The recipe calls for 40 minutes. A lot of the tomatoes were very juicy so I let it simmer for a little longer than called for…

Then I added the tomato paste and let it simmer for another 20 minutes. Watch this carefully as it can easily scorch during this time. Stir it often.

While it was simmering I washed my jars and got out my rings and put them in water to heat up…   Then it was time to put in the jars.. put a lid & ring on and put them in the canner…

You use a boiling water bath for this recipe. I canned each batch for 15 minutes. I had 4 batches to do as only about 8 or 9 jars will fit in the canner at one time. In the end I had 30 pints of salsa along with a little leftover that I put in a bowl and my kids devoured it as they were coming home from work.

The recipe originally came from my friend Leah Hillman. I don’t add the sugar as we don’t care for sweet salsa. Also the heat of this salsa is determined by how many seeds you choose to include with your hot peppers. I took the seeds out of half the jalapenos and left them in for the other half. I used habanero peppers (which are very hot!!) too.. I added 4 to the whole batch. My salsa is quite spicy/hot.. but that is how we like it.. :)

Homemade Salsa for Canning

10 lbs tomatoes, chopped
6 medium onions, chopped
3 cups bell peppers (any kind), chopped
12 jalapeno peppers, chopped and seeded
5 chili peppers, chopped and seeded (this will make it spicy or milder, depending on the peppers you choose)
10 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/3 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp lime juice
3 cans tomato paste (the bigger cans, not the tiny ones)

Combine all ingredients except tomato paste in a large stock pot. Simmer approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and mix well. Simmer another 20 minutes or so. At this point, I take out about half of the salsa, blend it smooth in the blender and then return it to the pot, but you can leave it chunky if you prefer. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4" headspace. Cap and process 15 minutes in a water bath canner. Remove jars and let cool.

This recipe makes approximately 15 pints.

The original recipe also called for 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar, so if you like your salsa sweeter, add this in.

Thank you Leah for sharing this!!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Crockpot Pork Chops

I served these for dinner last night… This was sooo good and soooo easy!! I served with some leftover potatoes from last week and coleslaw..

You could easily cut this recipe down to feed your family (if you are not feeding an army!) .. Here is what I did…

I had 4 ½ pounds of pork chops. I began by pouring about 2 cups of chicken broth into my crockpot. Then I took a couple pork chops and sprinkled with salt and pepper and then sprinkled with some of my bulk ranch dressing mix (I’m guessing you could use packaged ranch dressing mix, but I used my home made.. you can find my recipe HERE)… then added another layer of pork chops and repeated.. salt, pepper, bulk ranch dressing.. and did this until I had added all my pork chops. Put the lid on and cooked on low for about 8 hours.

This was easy and my family loved it..



Monday, September 15, 2014

Menu Monday!

I can’t believe how fast last week went by!! Monday is here and it's time to head out to the grocery store for my weekly shopping as soon as I get the pork chops in the crockpot and take care of my Monday cleaning list ;)  Hope everyone is having a good start to their week!!

Crockpot pork chops, potatoes, salad

Tacos w/trimmings, chips & salsa

Crockpot chili w/hotdogs served over buns (chili dogs), salad


Hamburger bbq (having friends & family over), potato salad, fruit salad, cookies for dessert

Summer pasta made w/chicken, cucumber tomato salad

BLT sandwiches, chips, fruit

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Cleaning List: Update on Homemaking Challenge for September

OK.. this is my ideal schedule. With summer and other things I’ve not kept up with this and seem to be always be behind the curve. My desire is to hit these areas in my home on a regular basis, at regular days.. again!! :) … So far this week, I’ve been keeping up. It really, most days, does not take that much time to do this. Especially when I compare it to what it was like for me years ago!!

I’ll keep you posted this month on how it’s going for me. Hope you are getting your cleaning schedule worked out this month too!

Clutter pick up
Sweep kitchen floor
Clean off counters in kitchen
Clean out fridge to make room for grocery shopping (I shop on Monday)

Go through the house hitting each room and dealing with the basics
Kitchen: sweep, mop, wipe out microwave, clean off counters, wipe down fronts of cupboard doors and drawers
Living room: clean up piles of clutter, dust, and vacuum
Dining room: clear out table and chairs, sweep & mop, clean up clutter ‘hot’ spots (where mail collects and kids leave all their stuff)
Laundry Room (which is also my pantry): clear off counter, reorganize pantry shelves as needed, wipe down washer and dryer, sweep and mop floor
Bathroom: give it a good overall cleaning
Bedrooms: vacuum, dust, pick up, etc..

Community laundry: such as bathroom towels, kitchen towels, cleaning rags, cloth napkins.. my kids do their own laundry
Pick one room to do a deeper cleaning and organizing in

Keep up on basics

Laundry day for my and hubby’s clothes
Clean bathroom - just the basics:  clean out the sink, tub, toilet, sweep the floor, shake out the rug
Sort and organize recycling
Vacuum and wash both sets of stairs (one to the upstairs and the one to the basement)
Vacuum living room carpet and throw rugs in the hallway
Kitchen: sweep & mop floor, wipe out microwave, wipe down fronts of appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, stove)
Upstairs: my kids all have their bedrooms upstairs, so I check weekly to make sure it’s not a disaster up there.. ha, ha!! :) and then have them deal with it on Saturday, if I see any issues

General: clutter pick up, keep the kitchen clean, floors swept as needed

Not a whole lot of cleaning gets done on Sunday. I plan my weekly menu, I prepare my grocery list for Monday, clean up clutter, keep the kitchen clean, make sure the kids get their laundry done and are ready for their work week..


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Broccoli Salad

I made this last night for dinner. I was originally planning to make this to go with chicken and gravy over biscuits, but it seemed a better fit with lasagna. So I changed up my menu and made lasagna.

This salad is so good!! If you are looking for a little something different, this might just be the ticket. I made this earlier in the day so it would have time to drain and chill before dinner.

This recipe makes a very large amount of salad. Remember, I feed 6 adults.. :) .. so feel free to cut it in half or more if you are not feeding an army like I am!

Broccoli Salad

3#’s broccoli florets (the heads only, I buy them in a large 3# bag from Costco)
½ of a medium onion, chopped (I used a Walla Walla Sweet onion)
½ cup craisins (raisins would also work, but the craisins were very pretty)
1 ½ cups mayo
3T white wine vinegar
4t sugar
salt & pepper, to taste

Blanch the broccoli for 2 or 3 minutes (bring a pot of water to a boil, add broccoli, bring it back to a boil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes). Drain and soak in cold water to cool off. Then drain again. It’s important that the broccoli is very well drained. I put my broccoli, in my strainer (that was sitting in a bowl to catch the extra liquid) in the fridge for about an hour so it could be well drained and cold.

While the broccoli is draining make the dressing. In a large bowl mix together the mayo, vinegar, sugar and salt & pepper.

When the broccoli has cooled down and drained put it in a large bowl. Add the chopped onions and craisins. Add the dressing and gently stir to coat it well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10 Books with a Lasting Impression

I saw this on FaceBook.. and have loved looking at others book lists. You were to name 10 books that had a lasting effect on you. So I thought.. ok.. what would be my 10 books? I’ve listed them in no particular order. According to the rules:

“the 10 books that had the most meaning in my life: In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take too long or think too hard about it. They do not have to be great or classic works / just books that have had an effect on you.”

If you have a book list to share with me.. I’d LOVE to see it!! It was fun to think about and come up them…

So here is my List:

1. Little House on the Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder – my introduction to homesteading, at a very young age. I read them all as a little girl.. was always fascinated with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life. Definitely left a lasting impression on my life!

2. Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis – I loved this series. I read it, sat while my hubby read it 3 times to our kids as they were growing up. The spiritual messages in this book really spoke to my heart over and over!

3. The Way Home by Mary Pride - I have 8 kids.. what more can I say about how her message on children, God, motherhood and so much more impacted my life

4. For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay – This book had a tremendous impact on how I chose to homeschool my children. From early on I felt that reading to my children was one of the most important things I could do for them. And reading classic works to enrich their lives and broaden their understanding of so many things in this world.

5. Home Style Schooling by Dr. Raymond S. Moore – the first homeschooling book I read. This book is what began my vision of homeschooling our children.

6. The Bible – goes without saying.. my life line, my love for God, my love for my Saviour, my direction in life. Without it, I would be lost.

7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – seriously I only recently read this book and the lasting impression on me has been tremendous. I saw the world and people in a whole new way. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this book, why he wrote it like he did, why it ended like it did.. has given me much food for thought!

8. The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen – Evil reigns everywhere.. even in the name of Jesus. Her book was eye opening to me, test the spirits and know where they come from!

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – one of the first adult classics I read (many years ago). What can I say.. jealously, revenge, social class issues, .. by the time I was done reading it, I had a lot to think about! I still remember it to this day.. so I guess it left an impression on me!!

10. Many Infallible Proofs by Henry M. Morris – a great book on “Scientific Creationism” .. we are saved through faith.. I have no doubt about that. But reading this book and seeing scientific facts that back up creationism was eye opening. Very good book with a lasting impression for sure!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Menu Monday!


Crockpot pork chops, potato salad, French bread, green salad

Chicken n’ gravy over biscuits, broccoli salad

Tacos, chips & salsa, fruit platter


Lasagna, French bread, green salad

Crockpot roasted chicken, garlic roasted potatoes, salad



Friday, September 5, 2014

Homemaking Challenge for September!!


I know, you probably thought I forgot about my monthly homemaking challenges… but I did not. ~smile~ July and August were not only crazy months for me (especially with my sons ruptured appendix!), but they were hot and sunny and it’s been beautiful outside. So I spent time enjoying the outdoors and having friends and family over to enjoy some of this amazing summer with me. Frankly, doing extra tasks in the home was just not on my list.

Now as fall is approaching my schedule needs to change, routines need to be reestablished and life needs to move on into a steady rhythm. 


This month I’ve decided to work on creating a workable household cleaning routine. My life has changed a LOT over of the last couple of years. I use to have several children at home, helping with the daily chores. Now, I’m down to just one at home during the day. My son and both daughters work full time (my daughter Sierra works almost full time and is going to school as well) and so while they may be gone for most of the day, their foot print still is left behind to be dealt with.

So my game plan: discuss basics with them (again!! ~smile~) of picking up after themselves, following through with anything that they are doing that makes a mess (like clean up the kitchen after making themselves food, wash their own dishes after a meal, clean up the bathroom after a shower, etc.).

Then create a daily/weekly basic house cleaning schedule to follow.

I’ll be updating you on my progress and sharing my lists and thoughts on keeping the house clean on a daily basis.

Do you have a daily/weekly cleaning schedule that you follow? With summer fun, children, gardens and canning (or whatever has kept you busy this summer) have you let it slip away? Do you need to refocus on this in your home?

If you do, please join me this month in fine tuning, creating, and implementing a new schedule. I think it’s a great way to welcome in the fall!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In the Kitchen..

Fall is beginning to make its appearance here in the Pacific Northwest! The days are getting shorter, the evenings cool off quick and it takes a bit of time to warm up in the morning. The other day the clouds covered the sky and the house was cool and I decided to do a little cooking. Up to this point, I’ve not wanted to heat up the kitchen much. Just too hot!! But on this day I made up a couple of family favorites for dinner and did a little baking.

I started by making my Mexican Rice Casserole for dinner. I made a HUGE pan of this. Feel free to cut the recipe in half to fit your needs. I feed 6 adults daily and this meal fed us for 2 nights. The recipe calls for shredded cheese on the top.. I only had cheese slices (real cheese, not American, so that is what I used instead).

Here is the recipe..

Mexican Rice Casserole

2lbs hamburger
1 large onion, chopped
10 cups cooked brown rice
1 can rotel tomatoes
2 cups salsa
2 cups frozen corn
2 to 4 cups shredded cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large frying pan cook hamburger and onion until hamburger is no longer pink and onion is soft. In a large bowl combine cooked hamburger/onion, onion, rotel tomatoes, salsa, frozen corn and half the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Put all ingredients into an 11x15 pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until all is hot and bubbly. Serve with a little extra salsa on the top.

I also made Refried Beans to go with this meal.

And the recipe…
Refried Beans

3 cups dried pinto beans
12 cups water
1T salt
1 cube/stick butter (8T)

In a large stock pot combine dried beans, water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 3 hours. When the beans are soft heat a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add butter and let it melt. Scoop out beans and some of the broth into the frying pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans and continue to add more beans and mash until all the beans have been added. Add more bean broth as needed to give a smooth consistency.
I served it with corn on the cob that our neighbors had given us.. it was a delish meal!!

After I was done with all that I decided to make a batch of cinnamon rolls…

Cinnamon Rolls

I began by making a 2 loaf recipe of my favorite bread..

2 cups warm water
1/3 cup honey
1 T yeast
1/3 cut olive oil
2 t. salt
1/3 cup gluten flour
5 to 7 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour (or you can use all white flour or half white and half wheat.. if you do you can skip the gluten flour)

In a large bowl or in a large mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid or Bosch type) combine the water, yeast and honey. Let sit for a few minutes to give the yeast a chance to start working. Add the salt, oil, gluten flour and 3 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Continue to add more flour until the dough does not stick to the side of the bowl and does not feel sticky to the touch. Knead for 4 minutes in a Bosch mixer or 7 to 10 in other mixers or 10 to 15 minutes by hand.

Let the bread rise once, punch down, and divide the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into a large rectangle (12x15inches or so). Spread with butter, sprinkle as much brown sugar over the top as you’d like and then sprinkle on cinnamon. Roll the dough up, from the long side. Cut the dough into about 1 to 2 inch pieces. Lay on a large jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with Pam, or greased or (my favorite) lined with parchment paper. Repeat this for the second half of the dough.

Let the rolls rise for about 45 minutes to an hour. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until nice and brown.

While rolls are baking make the glaze..

Cinnamon Roll Glaze

3 cups powdered sugar
3T butter, softened
2t vanilla
3 to 4T milk

In a mixer combine powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Mix this for a few minutes. Add milk. Mix until it is a smooth and spreadable consistency. You don’t want it to thick.. should be more of a glaze than a frosting.

Spread glaze over cinnamon rolls as soon as they come out of the oven…

I'm looking forward to more fall baking and cooking again as the weather slowly cools down!