Monday, January 22, 2018

Recipes to Share

Since I'm still in recovery mode this Monday morning and don't have a menu I thought I'd share a few recipes that I compiled from this blog to give you some ideas for your menu this week! 


Cheddar Bacon Chicken Bake

Easy, delicious and quick to make.... who could ask for more from a meal?

I used about 3lbs of chicken breasts divided into 2 9x13 pans. This recipe could be cut in half very easily.  

3lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (thighs would work as well)
1 cup ranch dressing, divided
1lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 cups grated cheddar cheese, approx

Cut up chicken into bite size pieces. Divide between 2 9x13 pans. Drizzle ½ cup ranch dressing over each pan of chicken. Divide cook and crumbled bacon and spread half of it over each pan of chicken. Top with cheese. The recipe gives and approximate amount of cheese. You can top it with more or less depending on your tastes.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked completely). Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes to brown cheese. 


I served this chicken with tater tots. But it could be served with rice or mashed potatoes or pasta. Whatever suits your taste. I also served a salad with it...


Sweet Potato Bacon Soup

I've made this soup a few times now. It is easy and so good. It's a lot like potato soup but with a twist... sweet potatoes or yams. I've done it with both. And it is good no matter what. In the pic below I did add few red pepper pieces when I cooked the onion.  I had some to use up in the fridge.  The soup is versatile. 

Sweet Potato Bacon Soup

4#'s sweet potatoes, peeled, and cubed
1# bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 cup whole cream (approx.. could have been a bit more as I just dumped it in)
1t granulated garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the sweet potatoes in a soup pot, cover with water, let cook until they are soft. While that is cooking.. cut up the bacon and onion and fry them until the bacon is crisp.

When the sweet potatoes are done cooking, pour off the almost all of the water (save it!). Add the bacon and onions, the cream and garlic.

Add enough of the reserved cooking water to make it a nice soup consistency. It does thicken up by the next day. You could either add more cooking water (if you save it) or a little more cream.

Add salt and pepper to taste..

Very easy!! And good!! :D 
Creamy Burrito Casserole

1lb hamburger
½ a medium size onion, chopped
2 to 3 T taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup sour cream
6 large size tortillas
3 to 4 cups of grated cheddar cheese

In a large frying pan cook hamburger with onions until hamburger is no longer pink. Add taco seasonings and refried beans. Stir well to combine.

In a small bowl combing cream of mushroom soup and sour cream.

Cut or tear tortillas into strips.

In a 9x13 pan spread half the soup/sour cream mixture. Top with half the hamburger mix, half the cheese. Repeat layers.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until cheese is melted and all is hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips and a salad.. and enjoy!!
Crockpot BBQ Kielbasa (you can adjust the size of this recipe easily to work for your family)

3lbs kielbasa (I actually used chicken sausage from Costco. The brand was Aidells)
1 onion, sliced
5 or 6 large mushrooms, sliced
1 bottle (more or less) bbq sauce (the size is not that important as the main goal is just to cover the sausages & veggies with it. I used about 2 or 3 cups)

Put kielbasa, onions, and mushrooms in crockpot. Cover with sauce and stir. Put lid on. Cook on low for about 3 to 4 hours. I served this with rice and coleslaw.



Friday, January 19, 2018

Life is not a Race to the End

I wrote this post in 2015.  And it is fitting, as soon my youngest child and last child living at home will be moving out on his own.   Hubby and I will be turning a new page in our journey of life.  We often ask/say to ourselves,  "Where did the time go!?" and, "It went by too fast!"    

All my kids in 2002...

I remember getting frustrated in the morning.. I just needed a little coffee before the kids all stared talking to me... just a little.. but no, as soon as they were up they were talking to me.. Sometimes I just needed a few moments of peace and quiet.. they went to bed, the house was quiet, finally.. but I was exhausted.. and went to bed.. no time to enjoy that peace and quiet. I just wanted a few moments to myself.. go to the bathroom.. they knock on the door.. and start talking to me.. I tell them to work on their school .. as soon as I walk out of the room... to put some laundry through.. they suddenly ALL need me.. my life and time was always in demand.. and I just wanted a few moments to myself..

Fast forward .. I now wake up, make my coffee, enjoy peace and quiet, kids gone to work, one still sleeping, I use the bathroom in peace and life is quiet and smooth. And you know what??? I miss those years.

They were busy.. animals to take care of, gardens to plant and harvest and can, driving kids here and there as they try and reach their own goals in life, homeschooling, keeping the house clean, meals to cook, bread to bake. It can make a person feel overwhelmed at times.

But then it seems that suddenly it is over.. the kids are growing and grown and start to move out and begin their own lives. Life settles down and ever so slowly you move into a new season. And you think to yourself.. what was I stressing over? You realize that (as my father in law once said to me).. life is not a race to the end. You wait for some peace and some quiet and just a few moments to think. Then it is there .. and you realize .. you miss those hectic times, those moments when they are all looking at you to make their lives happen.

I miss those mornings when I'd wake up, get my coffee going and have my daughter Emily come downstairs and tell me everything that was on her mind.. at the time.. I'd be like.. wait, dear.. let me wake up.. ~smile~ … but no she had so much to say.. Today, I'd like that again, at least every now and again :) ...

So.. as I move into a different season I can say one thing.. Love, appreciate, enjoy EACH day and each season that you are in. Don't wait for it to change.. embrace it. It will be over before you even know it. In a blink of an eye.. it will all be a memory.. it will be what your life was all about.. it will have been all about them.. and it will have been worth every day, every stressful moment.. every joy, every laugh, every bit of stress and excitement.. because one day.. trust me on this.. it will all be over. And you will move into a new season.

So today mama.. just breathe, just enjoy, just embrace... it's not a race to the end.. hug those babies, laugh with them, talk to them, love them, love your life.. make memories... It will mean everything to you one day...

All my kids..  same position in 2012... 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday Snap Shot

Today is my surgery day so there will be no WSS. Thank you to all who have said a prayer for me, I appreciate it! I'll be back to blogging as soon as I'm able to. 

I've set up a few posts for the next week for you to read while I'm on the mend.

I hope you all have an amazing week!!

Crystal :)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Menu Monday!

Good morning! This week's menu is looking a little different as I'm a couple days away from surgery and won't be doing a lot of cooking afterwards. I'll be on a special post surgery diet of soft liquids (such as smoothies and broth, etc.) but I wanted to make sure my hubby still had food to eat. Last week I did some extra cooking and packed up individual meals for him. I'll share more specifically about that in another post.

Tonight we are taking our son and his girlfriend out to dinner to celebrate his birthday. His actual birthday is later in the week so we decided to celebrate with him tonight. I told him the choice of restaurant is up to him. So we'll see what he has decided on when we get to his home.

The rest of the week is looking like this..

Veggie Soup & Chicken
I plan to make a batch of veggie soup with my leftover chicken stock (leftover from last weeks cooking). I'll freeze some of it for me for later in the week and serve this on Tuesday night with some baked chicken and a salad.

Potato Soup or Chili
After Tuesday my hubby will have his pick of what he wants to eat. But most likely it will be potato soup (made with chicken) or chili, or both... as I still have a small serving of both of these in my fridge.

As for me, I've stocked up on grape juice, apple juice, frozen fruit (for smoothies), kefir, homemade chicken stock, and after I get it made, homemade veggie soup that has been pureed. I don't have many restrictions as far as type of food goes. Meat is not an option for the first couple of weeks and certain fruits and veggies. But the list is limited to what I can't have. The doctor called it a 'straw diet', meaning that if it can go through a straw then it is ok to have. I'm focusing on healthy foods (as technically milkshakes can go through a straw, ha, ha! :) to aid in the healing process.

That is all for this week!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
It's been a good week so far. I am happy to say I got a new stove. My oven on my old stove has not worked for a very long time. I was torn as to what I wanted to do.

We had replaced the mother board on it 3 times already and were looking at doing it again. The cost for each mother board is $400. So do I replace it again knowing it will also fail eventually? Or do I purchase a new range?

The other issue was that it was a downdraft oven and I was looking at replacing it with another downdraft type oven. The only problem was not many of them are made and as I looked at the reviews of them, people were still having the same issues that I had and now the ovens were twice as expensive, so I really did not want to take a chance on it again.

After a long amount of thinking and just plain going without an oven I came to a conclusion. I decided to skip trying to find a downdraft oven. I have a very effective ceiling fan in my kitchen that I figured would be enough. The other issue I had was that we have electric here, not gas. I did not want a glass top stove (the most commonly available type of electric stove). I also did not want to have to get set up for propane (gas is not an option in the country). After searching I found an coil stove that would do the job. My other desire was to find an oven with as few bells and whistles as possible. Less electronics means less to go wrong. Honestly if I could have found a nice reconditioned range from the 1950's I would have taken it! They knew how to make appliances that last back then.

Last night we celebrated by baking a pizza! :) Something that I've not done in a long time. It was not a homemade pizza but a one from our favorite "take and bake" pizza place.  ..

On My To-Do List
Cook up some meals for the freezer. It's been on my to-do list for a week now. I'm freezing single serving meals for my husband while I'm recovering from my surgery. I have 5 meals in the freezer so far. My hope today is to get the rest of them finished. My goal is 14 meals for him. I'll be on a special diet afterwards so I won't need them, but he'll still need to eat. :)

Projects I'm Working On
Organizing my freezer. I started yesterday by cleaning and reorganizing my refrigerator freezer. Now I need to get my big freezer reorganized so I can find the meals and other foods easily.

Today's Weather
The weather has been very rainy and cloudy.  I'm not complaining because I've seen the weather reports from around the country and so many are being hit by nasty winter weather.  Our winter has been the total opposite, very mild.  I'll take rainy and gray over snow any day!  :) 

Today's High: 46   Low: 44

The View from my Deck (or window)

This has pretty much been the view for the last week.  As I write this it's nearly 8:am but still so dark out..

 The only one that is loving this weather is my duck!  He's currently swimming around the pond and seems to be having a great time..  :)

What I'm Reading
I finished reading Luke in the Bible but that is as far as my reading progressed this week. With my downtime after surgery I plan on doing a lot more reading.

What I'm Listening To
The fire crackling in the wood stove and my hubby talking on the phone to his mom.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
I feel like a made frugal but wise choice on my new stove. Time will tell if it holds up well. I spent a lot of money on my previous stove and it shows that it's not always the case to buy (what you believe to be) better quality in order to save in the long term.

Fitness and Health for the Week
My focus this week is simply continuing to eat well, and drink more water. Why is water so easy to do at times and other times I have to make a big effort? Anyone else have that issue? How much water do you drink a day? How do you remind yourself to drink it? How do you keep track of your daily water intake?

That is all for this week!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Menu Monday!

Good morning! My first menu of the new year. I've had my mind on so many things that I've thrown together food for the last week. I'm happy to be back to a menu. Makes life simpler.

I need to go grocery shopping. Not sure if it will be today or tomorrow. So I'm planning on a simple meal tonight with the foods I have on hand. I'm making hamburger potato chowder. I'll serve this with a big green salad.

The rest of the week is looking like this...

Chicken Bacon Pesto Pasta
I made this while my family was visiting and it was a big hit. I made it in the crockpot. I don't have a specific recipe written down but I'll share what I did. 

I put boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts in my crockpot (you can use both or one or the other, does not matter). I had about 3 ½ pounds. I sprinkled it with salt & pepper, and garlic. I poured a can of cream of mushroom soup over it and put 8oz of cream cheese in it. I let this cook for about 6 hours or until the chicken had finished cooking. I pulled the chicken out and let it cool a bit. I then cooked up about a half pound or maybe a bit more of bacon until is was crisp. I also cooked about 10oz of angel hair pasta and drained that. I shredded and cut up the chicken and added it back to the crockpot. I added the bacon (crumbled), the pasta and then poured in pesto sauce to taste and served it up with french bread and a salad. It was delish.

I know this recipe will be a good one for freezing so I'll make another large batch and freeze it for after my surgery. I'll serve it with french bread and a salad.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
I love black bean chili. I love sweet potatoes! :) I'll make my standard chili recipe and add a couple sweet potatoes to it. Cornbread and salad will be the sides.

BBQ Pork Roast
I'll use my Instant Pot to cook up a pork roast with bbq sauce. I plan to serve mac & cheese on the side. I also plan on making acorn squash and another veggie of some sort with this.

That should do it for the week and give me meals in the freezer.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
Good morning to you all! I hope your week is going well and your off to a positive start with this brand new year.

It's been a whirlwind of busyness for the last 2 weeks. It takes a lot of energy to put together Christmas (or any gathering) for a big family. But I loved it. I loved having my children home. We had 6 out of 8 kids with us, which is not bad. My oldest daughter lives in Kentucky and she and her family were not able to make it and my daughter Emily and her family in Sacramento were not able to be here as well. With a family my size it's not easy to get everyone together at the same time and we were thankful for the ones that could make it.

The group Christmas picture..

After my kids had been here my sister-in-law and her daughter (my niece) came for a quick visit. She was on her way back home to Montana and stayed about 3 days with us. It was so nice to see them both.

One of my ongoing health issues has to do with my ulcers and a very large hiatal hernia. I had a follow up on the ulcers last month and they are healed but I have a lot of pain and issues with the hernia and the doctor recommended surgery. I met with the surgeon yesterday and the surgery has been set up for the middle of January. I'm actually happy about this as it has been a problem for a very long time.

I'm now enjoying a quiet house once again. And looking forward to getting on with this year and accomplishing many of my goals.

On My To-Do List
After my kids left I cleaned up the guest rooms and put fresh sheets on the beds and now that my sister-in-law and niece have gone, it's time to do that again. Then the doors are shut and the rooms are ready for whoever is next to come and visit us.

I also have on my list:
~clean bathroom
~clean laundry room

Projects I'm Working On
My surgery is not complicated but the recovery process will be. I will be 2 weeks on a soft liquid diet. My project now is going to be to cook up several meals and get them in the freezer so at least hubby will be able to eat during this time.

Today's Weather
Cold and windy. I really can not complain especially as I see what the rest of the country is dealing with. We have no snow, which I'm grateful for. But oh the wind this winter has been harsh and cuts right through a person and the wind chill factor makes it feel much colder.

Today's High: 41 Low: 35

The View from my Deck (or window)

What I'm Reading
With all that I have had going on, I have not had time for reading. Which seems strange to me because I normally always have something I'm reading. Now that things have settled down I plan to get back to my reading times.

What I'm Listening To
I already have my laundry going so I'm listening to the sounds of the washer and dryer. And I hear my wind chimes going crazy with the wind outside.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
I had a couple frugal things I did in the kitchen this week. I had leftovers from 2 different meals. I took what I had (chicken, pork, rice, potatoes, veggies and a quart of broth from cooking the meat) and put them in the IP and made soup. It was delish. Since everything had been previously seasoned all I needed to add was a little salt. We finished up that soup in one night.

I also had 4 bananas that were getting overly ripe. Sometimes I just put them in the freezer to use in smoothies. I have a lot of frozen bananas so instead made a batch of banana bread. I added all 4 bananas to my bread, which was more then the recipe called for and found it made the bread so incredibly moist.

I always try and find ways to use up food and not let it go to waste and using up these items gave us dinner and dessert!

Fitness and Health for the Week
Aside from what I already mentioned (dealing with my hernia) my biggest desire this year is to continue to work to get our diet about 75% plant based. This week I worked to add a lot of fresh fruit and veggies to our meals.

That is all for this week!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

**Since a few days before Christmas my life has been a whirlwind of busyness with family coming and going and keeping up on so many details. This is the first opportunity I've had to sit down and blog. The last of my family left this morning and I have not had time to think about a menu. Menu Monday will return next week.. In the meantime I wanted to welcome in the New Year! Crystal

Happy New Year!
A new day, a fresh start, a clean sheet of paper, a brand new year. There's something about the start of a new year that I really love. It seems to hold promise, excitement, and the desire in many of us to change things that bother us, to do things that push us just a bit, and to improve.

Some call this making resolutions or setting goals. I've always preferred to think of it in terms of goals but this year my son said something to me that gave me a completely different way of viewing this. It has to do with themes for the year and with vision.

How often are goals and resolutions made and forgotten? How often do we set out with a determined mindset to change just one thing in our life and then meet obstacles and call ourselves a failure and give up? As you get older you may even find that you have no desire to set new goals or resolutions anymore due to past experiences and so you don't even bother with it.

What if instead of targeting a specific thing you want to change or do, you set a theme for your year? I'll give you my New Year's theme as an example. Instead of say I want to lose weight, my theme for this year is, HEALTH. I have a vision to be a healthy person. And that entails more then just losing a little weight. It means for me to work on my diet as my desire it to eat a diet that is 75 to 80% plant based. It means being more active. Reminding myself to move in a positive way each day and that may be simple things like parking farther away from the store and walking extra steps or doing work out videos or getting out and taking walks (as soon as I am able). It means getting to the finish line with a couple health related issues that have been ongoing but I'm seeing the end in sight with them. There are so many various things I can focus on each day that are in keeping with my theme for the year. 

You can read my son Jacobs blog post HERE.  He explains themes and visions much better then I have.  :) 

Another theme I have is my 'word' for the year. Not sure how many of you participate in the word for your year. If you're not familiar with it you can read more about it HERE. I really struggled with my word this year and prayed a lot about it. I've been doing a word for the year for several years now and when I have that “word” that is for me, I know it beyond a doubt. This morning I found my word, an answer to my prayer. My word for 2018 is JOY. What a simple word but the theme and vision is huge. To focus on giving joy, being joyful, when negativity and discouragement come upon me it is my opportunity to find joy and turn that around. As I walk through this year no matter what obstacles I face I can remember, The joy of the Lord is my strength.

I'm looking forward to another wonderful year with you all and I pray that you have a blessed and joy filled 2018!