Showing posts from November, 2011

Dutch Oven Cranberry Beef

Over the weekend I was thinking about my fresh cranberries in the fridge that I wanted to use up. I know I can freeze them, but wanted to make something with them. So the idea that popped into my head was cranberry beef… and this was the recipe I came up with. I had no idea how it would turn out but took pics anyway. I figured if it did not turn out I would just toss the pics and not share. But if it did turn out I wanted to be able to share it with you. So I made this yesterday for dinner. And let me tell you it was sooooo good!! My family went nuts over it. So here it is…

Dutch Oven Cranberry Beef

Olive oil
1- 4 to 5lb beef roast
1 large onion, chopped
1T minced garlic
½ green pepper, chopped (or a few mini peppers)
2 cups cranberries
¼ cup water
½ cup honey
1t salt
½ t pepper

Heat your dutch oven over medium high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. When the oil is hot set your roast into the pan and let brown for a minute or so and then turn and brown on the oth…

Homemade Gift Idea: Bath Salts

Bath salts are an easy and inexpensive homemade gift. The basic ingredients can be found in most any store such as Walmart or Target. The exception to this is the essential oil or fragrance oil. If you are doing small projects such as this one the best way to find the fragrance or essential oil is on If you plan on making a lot of items that need these types of oil then you can also try SweetCakes ( )for a nice variety of scents.

Basic Bath Salts
Crystal Miller

1 ½ cups Epson salt
1 cup baking soda
½ cup sea salt
Essential oil or fragrance oil, your choice

Mix all ingredients together well. I find using my hands to do this does the best job. Put in glass canning jars or zip-type bags for gift giving.

Now, lets make some bath salts!!

Gather your ingredients together…

Measure the Epsom salts into a bowl…

Then the baking soda…

And the sea salt…

Stir it around real well to make sure it is combined…

Now add your fragrance oil (or essential oil). I u…

Updates from the Homestead

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! I know our family certainly did. It was the first time in 6 years that we had all been together. It was such a fun day. My daughters did all the cooking except for the mashed potatoes and stuffing which I made the day before and they were warmed up in crockpots for our dinner. I was super impressed by the team work of my daughters! They did an awesome job putting it all together.

Here are a few pics from our day..

Now it is time to decorate the house for Christmas! A real live fresh Christmas tree has always been our tradition. However over the last few years I have wanted to buy an artificial tree. My kids were not into the idea but, I personally was tired of the mess of a real tree makes (needles falling off the tree are a constant daily cleaning job :). Not to mention that typically a tree makes it a couple weeks before it starts really drying out. I have always wanted to put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving a…

How to Roast a Turkey

I am sure a lot of you reading this already know how to cook a turkey.  But I also know that many ladies have never done it before.  I was in my late 20’s before I cooked my first turkey.  My grandma or mom or mother in law had always done that part.  When I went to cook my first turkey I was reading lots of cookbooks and talking with my mother to learn.  It is not like we have the opportunity to practice turkey roasting too often!  
I thought I would just share from my own turkey roasting experience how I have done it.  There are lots of ways to do this and tips, etc..  and I am sure I won’t cover them all but will share what has worked for me. 
First is the actual buying of the turkey.  I typically have purchased frozen turkeys.  The week before Thanksgiving you can find turkeys at the best price of the year.  In fact I usually take advantage of these great prices and buy another turkey or two for the freezer. A mini Thanksgiving dinner at another time of the year is act…

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

What would Thanksgiving be without cranberry sauce?! It is always a staple at our home for the holiday meal. I like to make my own cranberry sauce. I think it tastes better and I know it is a lot more healthy than the store bought stuff in the can. You can buy fresh cranberries this time of year, they are usually located in the fresh veggie section of your grocery store.

Here is my recipe…

Spiced Cranberries

2 ½ cups cane juice crystals (or white sugar) or 1 ¼ cups honey
½ cup water
2 T lemon juice
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1t ground cinnamon
½ t ground cloves

In a sauce pan add sweetener of choice, water, lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add cranberries, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until sauce thickens up. Allow to cool. Can be refrigerated up to 1 week or frozen.

First begin by gathering your ingredients together. I used honey to make mine…

In a medium size sauce pan put sweetener of choice, …

Sausage Potato Chowder

Potato chowder of any type is really easy to make. I’ve come up with a simple way to make this soup that is not only yummy (according to my family) but simple and pretty quick and can be very flexible.

Here is my recipe..

4 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces
½ to 1 lb sausage (like Jimmy Dean type sausage)
1 medium onion, chopped
½ of a green pepper (or any other type.. red, yellow, orange)
1t minced garlic
2T olive oil
2 cups frozen corn (or 1 can of corn, drained)
2T butter
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Begin by chopping up your potatoes…

Put them in a 6qt soup pot and cover with water (the amount of water does not matter because it will be mostly drained off later, just add enough to cover the potatoes). Add about a teaspoon of salt..

Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until they are fork tender, usually this takes about 15 to 20 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking chop up the onion and peppers (I used about 3 mini peppers that were red, yellow an…

Making Hot Processed Soap

I have been making soap for several years now but I had never made hot processed soap before this last weekend.

If you are not a soap maker you may not realize that there are two ways to make soap. One is called cold processed and the other hot processed. Here is the difference:

Cold Processed (CP): This method involves combining your liquid/lye mixture with your oils and stirring until the mixture thickens (also known as “trace”) . Then pouring the mixture into molds. In a day or two you unmold, cut the bars and let the soap lay out on a flat surface to cure anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks depending on the recipe. This ensures the soap is free from all traces of lye.
Hot Processed (HP): You follow the same procedures as CP but instead of pouring into your mold you keep cooking the soap. The soap is heated and cooked all the way through to the end (meaning there is no traces of lye left in the soap). After you remove it from the mold you can cut the bars and pretty much use them…