Friday, July 31, 2015

Visit Home!!

Blogging has been scarce this week.. my daughter Leanne came home from S. Korea for the week. She arrived last Saturday and left today (Friday).. it was a long trip for such a short visit, but she does not have long vacations and this would be the last opportunity to come home until sometime next year. So we enjoyed every day of it!

We shopped, cooked, talked, had great family time and made sure she got lots of cheesy food to eat. Cheese is not common in most Asian diets and finding cheese is not easy in S. Korea. So I made sure she had mac & cheese, pizza, spinach dip, and yummy sliced cheese w/crackers and more..  she was happy.

We took this picture early this morning as she was getting ready to head to the airport.

As I write this post she is a little over half way home.

Now back to my regular scheduled programming... :)


Monday, July 27, 2015

Menu Monday!!

Had a very busy weekend, I'll share about that later.. My menu planning was put off until the last moment. But, I got it done and that will make this busy week go much easier!

Enchilada casserole, tortilla chips & salsa, salad

Spaghetti & meatballs, french bread, salad

Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, watermelon


Baked chicken legs, tater tots, salad


Zucchini casserole (made with hamburger), rice, green beans


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Super Easy 2-Ingredient Summer Dessert

Easy seems to my theme nowadays! :) .. This dessert was a huge hit with the family. It took me less than 15 minutes to assemble and pop in the freezer yesterday afternoon. They were frozen and ready to eat when our BBQ dinner was done.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
(Yep..  just 2 ingredients)

Cookies, your favorite type (these can be homemade or store bought, I purchased 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies from Costco), you will need 2 cookies for each ice cream sandwich. So buy according to how many sandwiches you want to make
Ice Cream – a half gallon will give you more than enough, choose your favorite ice cream flavor (I used vanilla)

Let the ice cream sit on the counter for about 10 minutes so it is soft enough to scoop out easily..

Put one cookie upside down on a plate

Put a big scoop of ice cream on top...

Put another cookie (face side up) on top...

When assembled put them in the freezer to firm up (I put mine on a try lined with parchment paper).. Serve when they are frozen...

And enjoy!!

A side note: If your kitchen is warm the ice cream can melt quickly.. if you are making a lot of them you might want to put them directly in the freezer after making each one so you don't end up with a creamy mess! :)


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fruit Infused Water

I shared a blog post quite a while back about infusing water with fresh fruit. I really liked it. Every day I do my best to drink my 64oz of water. But honestly it can be a challenge some days for me. How about you? Do you get your daily water? Is it a challenge sometimes?

One way to add variety is to make fruit infused water. It's pretty simple. Put some fruit in a canning jar or pitcher and fill with water. Let it sit in the fridge and then enjoy. The water will have just a hint of the fruit flavor. The change is enjoyable.

But, as I said, I'd only tried this with fresh fruit. It can be hard to have the extra fruit on hand all the time. So yesterday I tried using frozen fruit. I had a bag of frozen strawberries in the freezer that I wanted to use up. I put 3 frozen strawberries into each quart jar, added water, and put in the fridge.

In the afternoon I poured some over ice.. the water had a lovely light pink hue and pleasant hint of strawberry taste.

Made drinking yesterday's water much easier! I also have a bag of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries & blackberries) that I plan to try out today.

Being able to use frozen berries makes fruit infused water much more simple to make. It changes up the water for a day and is healthy... no sugar, no extra unneeded calories. Give it a try and see what you think! :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Menu Monday!

I worked over the weekend on this menu.. a very hot weekend! Sure makes it hard to come up with meals for the family when nothing sounds good. .. but I picked simple meals that are summer friendly and keep the heat to a minimum in the kitchen.

BBQ chicken & bacon topped hoagie rolls, salad

Tuna & pasta salad, watermelon

Hamburgers on the grill w/trimmings, chips


Sausage w/ peppers & onions, potato salad, green salad

Grilled ham steaks, fried potatoes, green beans



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Garden Update

Thanks to a lot of hot weather my garden has exploded!! So have the weeds! Ha, ha.. so ignore them in the pics.. :) my daughter Hannah is coming this week to help me get it under control again.

The tomatoes are growing like crazy and are loaded and still lots of blossoms.. looks like it will be a bumper crop and earlier than normal due to our dry hot summer...

The summer squashes are full of blossoms. I can't wait for them!!

These are the royal burgundy bush beans.. the blossoms are purple and the beans are purple. The beans are just starting to come on.
Love this time of year!!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Menu Monday!

The weather cooled down a bit here last week, but temps are set to go back up this week. So it will be another summer menu week for us (meaning easy to cook meals that won't heat up the kitchen too much).

Leftover pork chops, coleslaw, buttered pasta

Chicken pot pie (I'm cheating with this and using canned chicken, frozen veggies, and topping it with biscuits, salad

Teriyaki meatballs over pasta, egg rolls (frozen, store bought), salad


Sour cream chicken enchiladas, tortilla chips, watermelon

Easy crockpot chicken chili, tortilla chips & salsa, veggie platter

Fish sticks, mac & cheese, salad


Friday, July 10, 2015

Crockpot Beans (a.k.a Texas Beans or Calico Beans)

This meal was on my menu for Sunday. Due to other circumstances I decided to make a swap and it was dinner tonight.

On my menu I linked to a recipe for Texas Beans. In the end I used a combination of several different recipes. I've seen similar versions of this recipe and it goes by a few different names.

It turned out yummy and was easy to put together.

Crystal's Crockpot Beans

2lbs hamburger
6 slices bacon
4 cans (15oz) pork and beans
1 can (29oz) pinto beans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 medium size onion, chopped
1t pepper
1t red pepper flakes (optional for those that like a little bite)
Salt to taste

In a frying pan cook hamburger until no longer pink. Put in crockpot. Fry bacon until well done. Crumble and put in crockpot. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve with a salad and toasted garlic bread.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Updates from the Homestead

We've had a busy time lately. Friends, family, planning for events. We had friends of ours from England come and visit us last week. We visited, went to dinner, they spent a night, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast the next morning and they were on their way the next morning. They were on a road trip of the USA. 

A few days later Tobin and I celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary. It was a simple evening. We bbq'd some steak, spent time with the kids and enjoyed some time at our pond. Sierra did a little photo shoot for us....

On the 4th we had lots of friends and family at our place to enjoy some time in the the sun, our pond, and a bbq.. and then some fire side time when the sun went down. This year, due to our extremely dry conditions, we decided not do fireworks. None the less we enjoyed our time....
Curios grandboys looking for newts in our pond..
Friends and family (and me ;) ..
More friends and family..
My kids (Richard, Jacob, Isaac, Sierra) and my niece (Tracy)...

My inlaws came for a quick visit on Sunday and that was so very enjoyable. They have animals that need them so they could not spend the night. We felt very blessed to have them for the short visit as it has been quite a few years since they had been here.

Summer life has been busy so far. We are now eagerly awaiting a visit from Leanne who will be here at the end of the month from S. Korea for a short visit. She is loving her job and life in S. Korea but needs a bit of home however short it may be. Here's a pic of her.. she recently traveled to Hong Kong and Japan..
That is all from the Homestead for now!!! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Menu Monday!!


This is being posted really late in the day!! I had such a busy and fun week/weekend. I totally forgot about menu planning until I woke up this morning.. then there was a lot of clean up from our busy weekend and just now I'm getting to the menu planning for the rest of the week. I'll share about our busy week/weekend in my next blog post.. for now.. it's time to post the weekly menu! :)

The weather here has been unusually hot. My desire to cook is at an all time low. But, the reality is... the family must eat. So I'm working on meals that are easy to cook and eat for the hot summer days.

Fish sticks, potato salad, melon platter

Tacos with all the trimmings

Chicken salad (I take boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast, marinate them all day in Italian salad dressing, then grill or fry them up, cut in pieces and top on a big yummy green salad with lots of fresh veggies), French bread or dinner rolls


Pork chops (cooked in the roaster oven, on the deck), potato salad, green salad

Sub sandwiches, chips, fruit platter

Crockpot texas beans (I'll be putting the crockpot on the deck to cook so I don't heat up the kitchen), French bread, salad


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Easy Summer Meal: Spaghetti & Meatballs

This is a simple meal to make. If it's hot in your area, put the crockpot on the porch to keep the house cool. I use a few cheats to make this meal painless to throw together. Like pre-made frozen meatballs. I buy them in a 6 pound bag from Costco. It's nice to have them in the freezer for easy meals.

Complete recipes are at the bottom of the post.

Start by putting the meatballs in the crockpot and covering with spaghetti sauce....

Let cook on low for 4 to 5 hours until everything is well heated.  When ready to serve, cook pasta, drain and mix into meatballs and sauce...


This meal also calls for a jar of spaghetti sauce. But if you are like me and forgot to pick some up at the grocery store ~smile~ or you just prefer your own sauce than you may like my super easy sauce that is made in the blender..

My super easy spaghetti sauce...

Open diced tomatoes and put in blender

Add spices... and mix until smooth....

Taste and adjust seasons and you are ready to go!!

Spaghetti & Meatballs

2 ½ (or so) pounds of frozen pre cooked meatballs
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (around 24 to 28oz) (you can also use homemade spaghetti sauce... below I share a super easy simple sauce that takes just minutes to whip up)
10 to 12oz of spaghetti noodles (I use angle hair pasta for quick cooking and minimal heat to the kitchen)

Put the meatballs in the crockpot. Cover with sauce. Cook on low for about 4 to 5 hours until hot and heated through. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Mix in with meatballs and sauce, serve.

Super Fast and Easy Spaghetti Sauce

2 14oz cans of diced tomatoes
1T Italian seasonings
2 to 3t salt, according to taste
1t pepper
2t granulated garlic (or garlic powder equivalent to 2 cloves of garlic)
2T (more or less, according to taste) sugar

Combine ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.