I discovered a few really good websites over the past week or so. You may have already heard of or even visited these sites, but I wanted to share them anyway in case there are some who haven’t seen them yet. Here’s the list ~ they’re all live links, just click on the website’s name and the site should open in another window or tab:
- Food with Kid Appeal (Attison is an extremely difficult/picky eater ~ this site has some great ideas for encouraging little ones to eat good foods)
- Grass Point Farms
- Kellogg Valley Farm ~ this family-owned organic farm is local to me, and they don’t have a website as far as I can tell so this is a link to their Facebook page
- Cascadian Farm
- Natural Pantry/Wholeliving.com
- Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
- Whole Foods Market
- Wheat Montana
I have a lot more links to share, but I’m going to try to list them in groups ~ so more link lists are forthcoming. Enjoy these for now.
If you have any good links you would like to share that are relevant to topics I like to write about here on my blog ~ organic food/living, kid-friendly things (foods, coloring pages, games, websites, clothes, etc.), mommy interests, Christian interests, couponing/simple/frugal living, homeschooling, etc., please send them to me. I’ll choose some good ones and add them to my future posts.
This recipe for meatballs comes from a friend who married into an old Italian family ~ you know, the kind that lives on the east coast and can proudly say they have several generations of policemen and/or fire fighters who have faithfully served the residents of their city. The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation and family legend holds it was brought over “on the boat” by great-great-etc., etc. grandma when she immigrated to the US. This recipe was never to be given to anyone outside the family. Well, never ended when my friend and her old Italian family husband got a divorce. Then my friend couldn’t give it out fast enough or to enough people! Despite the fact that this is more of a revenge recipe than a secret one at this point, it makes the best meatballs I have ever had ~ and it makes a pretty good meatloaf, too!
1 – 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
seasoned bread crumbs (enough to hold consistence)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4c. Romano cheese, shredded
1/4 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon each ~ garlic powder, oregano, basil & parsley
2 – 3 eggs
2 handfuls water
Mix all ingredients; shape into balls. Place meatballs in skillet; add ingredients for sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Cook at light simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until meatballs are cooked through.
Of course the original recipe calls for homemade seasoned bread crumbs (made from toasted Italian bread with herbs ~ like the bread you get at Carino’s), freshly grated cheeses, fresh oregano, basil and parsley, and homemade spaghetti sauce. But I’m lazy and cheat by using packaged Italian bread crumbs, packaged grated cheese, dried herbs and spaghetti sauce from a jar. The meatballs still taste amazing.
Edited later to add: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I don’t eat pork, so I honestly don’t know how this would taste or do with some Italian sausage thrown in. I’ve only ever made it with beef. Come to think of it, when my friend wrote out the recipe for me it didn’t mention anything about Italian sausage…
We’re pretty traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Roger isn’t a HUGE fan of turkey, so I usually only make it for Thanksgiving. That way it’s still special and unique enough that he’ll eat it and enjoy it.
Our menu generally consists of turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, dinner rolls, green beans, green salad and cherry cream cheese pie. I also make sparkling raspberry lemonade and hot cranberry apple cider. At times there are other additions, but these items are always present. This year I’m adding pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting (I got the recipe from a friend on Facebook).
Several years ago I discovered a recipe for a poultry brine that sounded so good I wanted to try it. We loved it, and have used it every year since. It’s a very simple brine: 1 cup kosher salt, 1 lemon cut into wedges, 1 organge cut into wedges, 1 medium white onion cut into wedges, 3 cloves garlic, 4 bay leaves, 1 Tbs. dried thyme, 1 Tbs. black pepper and 1 1/2 gallons (or more if needed) of water. Rub the salt into the turkey, and place remaining salt, lemons, oranges, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and pepper into a large pot. Place turkey in the pot, then fill pot with water. Refrigerate overnight. Discard brine after removing turkey. Do not rinse turkey before raosting.
Another trick to make your turkey moist and flavorful: roast it breast-side down. I know, I know ~ all of the cookbooks and online cooking sites say you should tie up the turkey and roast it breast up. It does make for a pretty turkey, if presentation is what you’re going for. Personally, I don’t care about the presentation. We have always carved up the turkey in the kitchen, put the meat on a platter and put the platter on the dinner table. So presentation is not even in the equation for me. I want moist, flavorful turkey. Even without brining your turkey can be yummy, if you roast it breast-side down. That way all of the juices from the dark meat run down into the breast. You can even get away with NOT basting your turkey if you roast it breast-side down. That makes the turkey a snap ~ I’m all about easy Thanksgiving turkeys! I’m just sayin’…
One more recipe I’ll share today ~ cranberry apple cider. Yuummmm. This is another one of those items I save for the holidays, which only serves to make it all the more yummy! It’s simple, too: 2 quarts apple cider, 2 quarts cranberry juice, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 4 seedless oranges cut in half, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, 8 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons whole allspice. Mix the apple cider, cranberry juice and brown sugar in a large pot or crock pot. Add the oranges. Put cloves, cinnamon, and allspice in a spice bag and add to juice. Simmer on stovetop for about 30 minutes or warm in crock pot for at least 2 hours (up to 6 hours).
I love to make special foods during the holiday season. My family seems to look forward to them just as much as I do. They’ve become part of our holiday traditions ~ traditions I hope will be passed down through more generations in the years to come.
Here’s an easy recipe that tastes amazing!
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream (half & half will do in a pinch)
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
fresh lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place milk and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in milk, then coat with bread crumbs.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter; add olive oil. Brown chicken on both sides in butter/olive oil. Remove chicken and place in glass casserole dish. Bake in preheated oven until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
Saute mushrooms in skillet.
Add broth to skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir to loosen browned bits from pan bottom. Stir in whipping cream; boil and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat. Stir in Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper, and cook until heated through. If necessary, mix 1 teaspoon corn starch with 1/4 cup chicken broth and stir into skillet to thicken sauce.
Pour sauce over chicken, reserving about half. Pour reserved sauce over angel hair pasta. Serve chicken and pasta with lemon wedges ~ squeeze lemon over chicken and pasta just before eating. Enjoy!
My sweet friend Joanne (http://thesimplewife.typepad.com) has been writing about economy in the home and using the resources available to you. Frugality, simple living, economizing, downsizing and want vs need are things that have been on my mind and heart for well over a year now. We’ve had a couple of additions to our family within that time, and a lot of other things going on, so I haven’t had time to explore this topic (or is it more likely that I’ve been ignoring the call God has put on my heart??).
Joanne’s writing always inspires me. I enjoyed her book Living Simply and I’m looking forward to the release of her new book Misplacing God in February. She plans to continue writing about economy in the home and in our lives on her blog every Friday.
I asked Joanne’s permission to copy the I’m An American Frugal Housewife. Are You? button from her sidebar. I’ve linked the button to her original post about economy. It’s a wonderful post; if you haven’t read it yet, you’ll find it here.
Joanne asked me if I would like to join her in posting on Fridays about economy in our homes and in our lives. I think that’s a great idea. I was raised in a home where I was the only child, so just about anything I wanted I was given. When Roger asked my dad’s permission to marry me, my dad said very plainly, “She’s very spoiled, you know. Are you ready to handle that?”
Economy in our home will be a new and strange topic. I was not taught to be frugal, to save money, to use coupons or even to shop the sales racks at department or grocery stores. Simply making sure we use what we have, including eating leftovers (gasp!), will be a challenge for us (at least in the beginning).
The “economy” Joanne is writing about is so much more than clipping coupons or saving a few cents by making your own laundry detergent. I do believe that being a good shepherd of what the Lord blesses us with is a responsibility He gives us. But living a life where nothing is wasted, and understanding that where God is concerned everything, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. is used to the fullest (and for our good) goes infinitely deeper than eating leftovers.
Joanne has given her permission for you to “steal” her button, too. She would like for you to link it back to her original post, but she won’t send the cyber button police after you if you don’t.
I think there are things about God’s economy that we can all learn, whether you’re new to the idea of economy or an old hand at it. I’m going to start a new category here on A Joyful Heart titled joyful economy. I plan to join Joanne in writing about joyful economy every Friday.
Would you like to join us?
Do you know how much I love purses? For some women it’s shoes ~ but for me it’s purses. And one can never have too many Coach purses as far as I’m concerned!
Roger’s mom got the exact right thing for me. Thanks, Mom!!
We celebrated Sawyer’s 16th birthday on Sunday. He went to the DMV on Monday and traded in his learner’s permit for a driver’s license. And he bought himself a car. It has been a big week for Sawyer!
Here he is with his driver’s license and his new car (the car is new to him, it’s not a “new” car; but it’s his, and that’s all that matters to him! He used some of the money from his savings account to pay for the car and the repairs it needed to be in good drivable condition.)
I bought new Christmas stockings this year ~ I ended up buying 9; one each for Roger, me, Ashley, Patrick, Sawyer, Attison, Roger’s mom, Roger’s step-dad and my dad. I bought them from Pottery Barn Kids ~ they were on clearance, and they were so cute I just couldn’t resist. Since Roger’s mom and step-dad won’t be joining us for Christmas this year, I haven’t hung theirs up. I’m one stocking hanger short for my mantle, so my dad’s may have to go under the tree instead of on the mantle.
Ashley has a friend whose mom just bought a very expensive embroidery machine. She said she would embroider names on the stocking for me ~ I’ll send them to her after Christmas to do that since they’re so cute on my mantle even without names on them.
Here’s a photo:
I’ve had several people ask me for this recipe, so rather than emailing it to just a few, I’m posting it for everyone to enjoy! My friend Cheri gave me this recipe; I don’t know where she got it, but I’ve made a few modifications of my own ~ you’re welcome to make your own modifications so it fits your family’s tastes.
Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 C. chopped onion
- 1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 TBS butter
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes + 1 C. hot water, or about 2/3 can (14oz) chicken broth
- 1 tsp. (or more, according to your tastes) ground cumin
- 2 C. half & half
- 2 C. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 (11 oz.) can Niblets corn (can also use creamed corn)
- 1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chilies
- fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes, and hot pepper sauce for garnish
Saute onion in butter until it turns translucent. Add garlic, cook on med. low for about a minute. Add cut-up chicken; cook on medium heat until no longer pink inside. Add chicken broth (or bouillon + water) and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add half & half, cheese, corn and chilies. Cook on low, stirring until cheese is melted and chowder is heated through (do not boil).
Offer chopped fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes and hot pepper sauce as garnish.
There you have it! It’s a simple recipe, but WOW does it taste good!! It ‘s definitely not for one of those days when you’re feeling as though you should be eating low calorie, low fat foods though. It’s more of a comfort food ~ just forget about the fat and calories for one meal and ENJOY!
Before my granddaughter Attison was born, my daughter Ashley decided she wanted to use cloth diapers. She didn’t know anything about them at the time, but she knew she didn’t want to put the chemicals found in disposable diapers next to her baby’s skin, nor did she want to add to the problems disposable diapers cause in our landfills. I was very supportive of this decision, since I had used cloth diapers with both of my sons.
Ashley and I began doing research on cloth diapers, just to see what was available. Wow ~ we were blown away by the abundance of information, and the popularity of cloth diapering! I came across Autumn Beck’s blog; Autumn writes about cloth diapers and I learned quite a lot from her. Cloth diapering has evolved since my sons were babies. And the changes are fantastic!
When my boys were little, I didn’t put much thought into how I was washing their cloth diapers. After reading Autumn’s blog, and doing lots of other independent research (here’s an example), I was convinced I needed to make sure I was washing Attison’s diapers properly. We have a septic system, so what we put into our waste water is very important ~ and even though in the long run cloth diapering is much less expensive than using disposable diapers, the initial outlay for the diapers can be tough on the ol’ pocketbook. I figured if we were going to spend that much money (about $400 total, which is super, super cheap compared to disposable diapers!) up front, I wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to extend the life of the diapers as well as keep them in tip-top operating shape.
I learned that the laundry soap and detergents we buy at the local grocery store can be disastrous for cloth diapers. So I bought a laundry soda that was free of all of the additives that can harm cloth diapers. Last week we were getting close to the bottom of that bag of laundry soda, and I needed to get more. I remembered a post that Autumn wrote about a cloth diaper detergent called Crunchy Clean. To be honest, I wasn’t completely convinced the cloth diapers were getting as clean as they really should be using the special laundry soda and two wash cycles every time the diapers were washed.
I got online and found the Crunchy Clean site. I ordered the 136 load bag of cloth diaper detergent, completely scent free (I’m very sensitive to scents, and Atti has very sensitive skin). A package from the work-at-home-mom who’s behind Crunchy Clean arrived in my mailbox a couple of days ago. When I opened the package, I discovered two bags of laundry detergent. One bag of Green Detergent, scented with Oatmeal Milk & Honey, and a bag of Diaper Detergent scented with “Baby Bee.” The fragrances were pleasant, but I knew that the Oatmeal Milk & Honey was too strong of a scent for me, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t add any irritants to Atti’s diapers by using a scented detergent on her diapers.
I sent Crunchy Clean an email explaining the mix up, and asked if I could send the two bags I received back to them in exchange for the Diaper Detergent completely scent free.
I just received Crunchy Clean’s response to my email. Let me tell you, the response I received from the mom who makes the detergents was so pleasant, kind, and had the “the customer is always right” mentality of running a business. She told me to go ahead and keep the two bags of detergent I have already received and she would ship me the correct detergent right away (and I know she did, because about two minutes later I received a confirmation from Pay Pal that my order had been shipped!). She also suggested I give away the two bags of detergent she shipped to me by mistake, perhaps to someone in need. I think that’s a great idea, and exactly what I intend to do.
Here’s a hearty, “Hurrah!” shout out to Crunchy Clean ~ you’re running your business the old fashioned way, and it’s a breath of fresh air to find a company that actually values its customers!
If you’re looking for some really great laundry detergent that has a gizillion scent choices and is actually green, I suggest you read Autumn’s post about Crunchy Clean. I know you’ll want to click over to the Crunchy Clean website and order some of their laundry detergent for yourself!