Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frozen kid treats for summer!

Kids are out of school, temps outside are soaring, and they're begging for a frozen treat! Here's a way to provide those without having to run to the store!


  • chocolate or honey graham crackers
  • 1 regular size instant chocolate pudding or other flavor of your choice
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter

Stir together peanut butter and milk until smooth. Add pudding mix and stir 1 minute. Let set for 5 minutes. Spread mixture 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick on graham cracker halves, top with other cracker half. Let freeze on cookie sheet before eating.


  • 1 pkt. unsweetened drink mix (like Kool aid)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 c. milk
Whisk drink mix, sugar and milk together until drink mix and sugar have dissolved. Pour into 8 x 8 pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for one hour. Scrape into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Pour into freezer container and freeze until solid.

  • 1 regular size pkg. instant pudding, mix any flavor
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
Whisk together, pour into popsicle cups and freeze.

FUDGESICLES Warning: contains raw egg, use this recipe at your own discretion. I've never had problems with it.
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. instant chocolate pudding
Mix ingredients thoroughly. Put into popsicle cups and freeze.

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package unsweetened Kool-Aid powdered drink mix
  • 1 (3 ounce) package Jello gelatin (any flavor)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Dissolve Jello and sugar in boiling water. Dissolve Kool-Aid in cold water. Pour Kool-Aid and Jello mixture together. Pour into small (3 oz) paper cups, ice cube trays, or pop molds. Freeze until almost firm. Insert popsicle sticks, party picks, etc. and freeze until firm.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Strawberries of summer!

It's strawberry season where we are! YUM! I picked 41 quarts of berries this week alone! What to do with them besides eating fresh and making jam? Here are some of our favorites!

Strawberry Pie
  • 3 1/2 c. sliced strawberries, divided
  • 1 c. water, divided
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • Baked pie crust of your choice
Simmer 1 cup strawberries with 2/3 c. water. Stir together the remaining 1/3 c. water, sugar, and cornstarch and stir into the simmering strawberries. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minutes. Cool until you can comfortably stick a finger in it. Arrange rest of berries in pie crust and pour the glaze over them. Chill until set. Serve with whipped cream!

Strawberry Bread
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 c. mashed strawberries
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Beat oil and sugar. Add egg whites and strawberries; beat well. Sift dry ingredients; add to strawberry mixture with vanilla. Mix well. Pour into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake in a 350° oven for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan. Cool well and store overnight before slicing.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 c. pecan halves
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach
  • 2 c. thinly sliced celery
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled & halved

  • 2/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Combine vinegar, sugar, onions, salt and mustard in blender. Cover and process until smooth. Keep blender running and slowly add oil in a small steady stream until thick and smooth. Transfer to a bowl; stir in poppy seeds. Keep chilled.

Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and sugar; stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar turns golden and coats the pecans. Remove pecans with a slotted spoon to an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Let cool.

Remove and discard stems from spinach. Wash and pat dry with paper towels. Tear into bite-sized pieces. Combine spinach, celery, and strawberries in a large bowl. Add 1 cup dressing and toss gently. Add candies pecans and toss again. Serve with remaining dressing.

Strawberry Crumble
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 quarts strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. butter or margarine
  • 1 c. rolled oats
Combine 1/2 c. sugar, flour and strawberries, spread in a buttered 9 x 13 baking pan/dish. Combine rest of ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the strawberries. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. GREAT served warm with vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Menu planning saves money!

I've posted about this before (August 2009) and I'm going to reiterate: meal planning saves money!

Last week presented me with a bit of a situation that I'm not used to: my main pantry was fairly empty except for rice, dried beans, and oatmeal, and my freezer contained 5 whole chickens (I can cut them up myself), 2 packages of chicken breast, odds & ends of fruits & vegetables, 6 pounds of ground turkey, and 3 jars of freezer jam. I still had several jars of home-canned foods like applesauce, pears, apple butter, beet pickles, carrots, green beans and relishes. I KNEW it was time to go shopping! So, I sat down, followed my menu planning rules, and came up with 19 meals. I listed the ingredients needed, checked against my list of what I already had, subbed a couple of cheaper meals for meals that were going to cost more, and made my shopping list. $181.24 later (reminder: do NOT take kids shopping with you), I had enough groceries to feed my family of 7 for 24 days (will need to get more eggs, but that's about it). That's an average of 36 cents per meal per person!!!

Here's my menu:

Breakfasts - waffles (from scratch), pancakes (from scratch), oatmeal (topped with fruit, syrup, cinnamon, &/or peanut butter), cereal leftovers from what was in the pantry, and 4 more boxes of cereal (all under $2 each)

Lunches - any leftovers, sandwiches (tuna, egg salad, cheese, PB & J, meat, PB & banana), homemade bagels with peanut butter, fresh fruit, canned fruit or applesauce.

Snacks - fresh fruit, applesauce, homemade cookies, brownies, cakes or muffins, popcorn, homemade popsicles and pudding pops, homemade sherbet

Dinners -
6/18 hot dogs & noodles skillet meal (not super healthy but a kids' fave), steamed veggies
6/19 tacos made with 1 lb. ground turkey, homemade taco seasoning, 1 can refried beans, topped with fresh tomatoes, cheese, shredded lettuce and homemade taco sauce.
6/20 (Father's Day) grilled bratwurst on buns, homemade onion rings, oven fried potatoes, marinated carrot salad
6/21 Chicken alfredo, green peas, fresh strawberry pie
6/22 Taco salad: lettuce, tomatoes, pinto beans, black olives, cheese, taco meat made with my homemade taco seasoning, bag of nacho chips (store brand, not name brand), homemade sweet French dressing
6/23 Cheesy chicken lasagna, homemade garlic herb bread, tossed salad with carrots, tomatoes, celery, green peppers
6/24 Crockpot chili, homemade rolls or muffins
6/25 meatloaf, homemade scalloped potatoes, green beans
6/26 Oven fried chicken, corn pudding (scalloped corn), steamed broccoli mix
6/27 Crockpot scalloped potatoes & ham, broccoli salad
6/28 Shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches (chicken breast cooked in crockpot with BBQ sauce, shredded) on homemade buns, pickled beets, shredded carrot salad (carrots, raisins, diced apples)
6/29 hamburger goulash, green beans, leftover shredded carrot salad
6/30 Chicken & stuffing casserole, mixed veggies in casserole, blueberry or apple crisp
7/1 Crockpot ham & bean soup, apple spice & blueberry oat muffins, tossed salad
7/2 Ramen casserole with mixed veggies added, tossed salad
7/3 Homemade pizza
7/4 grilled bratwurst, hot dogs with Red Dawg sauce, buns, baked beans, pea salad, brownies or jello dessert
7/5 Chicken Pierre, rice, green beans
7/6 Lasagna, homemade garlic herb bread, tossed salad
7/7 Chicken pot pie, carrot & celery sticks with ranch dip (homemade), blueberry cobbler or crisp
7/8 chicken stir fry, veggies in stir fry, rice or lentils, orange dessert
7/9 Copycat Manwich sloppy joes on homemade buns, carrot & celery sticks, pickled beets, corn pudding (scalloped corn)
7/10 Spicy roasted chicken, black & white bean salad with veggies
7/11 Bruschetta chicken bake, bean or vegetable salad, green beans

I know you're saying, "That's a LOT of food! How can you get it for so cheap?" Well, I shopped at the Amish salvage grocery store first. Don't say "Ick!" because it's a salvage grocery; I look for the least dented cans, the least damaged boxes (most have 1 corner crushed and that's it), and I can also get fresh produce, dairy, frozen, and bulk foods there for less than anywhere else. Taco shells for 35 cents, 15 oz cans of tomatoes for 35 cents, boxes of name brand cereal for under $2, 20 oz. ham slices for 99 cents, fresh eggs for 99 cents a dozen, cottage cheese for 79 cents/16 oz, 50 lbs. flour for $14.99...those are DEALS! Then I went to Save A Lot and bought the rest of my groceries except for milk. Meijer had a great deal on milk last week, $2 per gallon, so I bought 8 gallons and also found Johnsonville bratwurst for 3/$5, toilet paper and Cascade on sale, and a jug of store brand tomato juice that was cheaper than Dollar General by 6 cents (remember that I keep a price comparison notebook). Remember, too, that buns, bread, stuffing mix, and most everything else is made from scratch (almost every recipe I will use is in this blog). I don't shop strictly organic which helps lower the grocery bill, I know. That is personal preference.

$181 for over 3 weeks for 7 people. It's not a rice & beans diet, either! This is why meal planning is so important if you're trying to save $$.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MORE chicken recipes!

A bit of background: we raise our own chickens to feed the family. It's much less expensive than buying poultry in the store (about $.50 to $.70 cents/lb. depending on feed costs), so we eat quite a bit of chicken.

In order to avoid becoming weary of eating the same old chicken dishes, I've been searching for a large variety of recipes. I already shared some in a post in June 2009 and one in November of 2009, and here are more that I've found since then:

The family RAVES over these!

Yummy Baked Chicken Wings

1/3 c. flour

1 Tbsp. paprika

2 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. black pepper

3/4 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (if you'd like some spice)

3 lbs (about 20 - 25) chicken wing segments

Mix flour and seasonings. Put into a plastic bag and add wings. Shake well. Line a pan with foil, spray with cooking spray. Lay wing segments in pan, bake at 425 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes. Serve with BBQ sauce, ranch dressing or any other dip/sauce of your choice.

This is a SUPER simple, SUPER fast dinner to throw together! It does take 30 minutes to bake. My family LOVED it!!! I added a tossed salad and some green beans to round it out.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

  • 1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced OR 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 6 oz. box chicken flavored stuffing mix
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomateos with liquid in medium bowl. Add garlic, stuffing mix and water; stir just until stuffing mix is moistened. Set aside

Place chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish; sprinkle with basil & cheese. Top with stuffing mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Here's a skillet chicken meal that we really enjoyed!

Santa Fe Chicken & Rice

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced thin
  • 8 oz. salsa
  • 1 8 oz. can corn, drained (I used frozen)
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 c. shredded taco or monterey pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 2 c. cooked rice

Spray skillet with cooking spray and heat. Add chicken, cook on medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in salsa, corn and beans and heat through . Sprinkle with cheese. You can also choose to add the rice before sprinkling with cheese. Remove from heat and letset until cheese melts a bit. Serve over the rice if you didn't mix it in.

Chicken and cheese make a great dish for kid appeal:

Cheesy Chicken Lasagna

  • 3 Tbsp. margarine
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 4 oz. can mushroom pieces, drained
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 16 oz. container cottage cheese
  • 6 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 2 to 3 c. cooked chicken, cut up
  • 1 8 oz. pkg shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 8 oz. pkg. shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a medium saucepan and saute onion. Stir in soup, mushrooms, milk and cottage cheese. Layer half the noodles in a 9 x 13 pan. Cover with 1/2 the sauce mixture, 1/2 the chicken and 1/2 of each the Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses. Repeat and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Okay, so this one is turkey, but it's still poultry!

Tasty Turkey Burgers

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Shape into 6 patties. Pan-fry, broil, or grill until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Serve in hamburger buns with desired toppings.

My fave toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, and mayo.

Here's a dish that's a bit more elegant than a casserole, and the kids love it too!

Chicken Drumsticks Pierre
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 dashes pepper
  • 16 chicken drumsticks
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 c. water
  • 4 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. vinegar (we use white)
  • 4 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 to 10 drops hot pepper sauce (optional)
Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper. Coat the drum sticks with the seasoned flour. Melt the butter in a skillet with a lid. Brown the chicken over medium heat on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan. In the same pan, combine the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer about 45 minutes.

We like to serve this over hot boiled rice.

Makes 8 servings.

Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwiches
  • 1/3 c. hot sauce (we use Louisiana hot sauce)
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 - 8 chicken breast fillets (with our large chickens, I can get 3 - 4 fillets out of one breast half)
  • hamburger buns
  • mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • lettuce leaves
  • sliced tomato
Combine pepper sauce and water in a small bowl. Combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion powder, paprika, and garlic powder in another shallow bowl. Working with one fillet at a time, coat each piece with the flour, the dredge it in the diluted pepper sauce. Coat chicken once again in the flour mixture and place on a broiler pan. Repeat for all the chicken fillets. Broil in oven until golden brown on each side and fillets are cooked through completely. Serve each fillet on a hamburger bun with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.

'Tis the season for grilling, and this is our favorite grilling marinade!

Grilled Chicken Legs
  • 4 chicken leg quarters, divided into drumsticks and thighs if desired
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. water
Combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag. Add chicken and chill for up to 4 hours. Grill over low heat until browned on all sides, turning once, about 30 to 40 minutes a side, until meat is all cooked and juices run clear when poked with a fork or tip of a knife.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


It's been several months since I posted anything! We've gotten super busy with school lessons, starting veggie & fruit seeds indoors for our garden, and many, many other things.

Anyway, I was looking over my past posts and realized that I hadn't posted many of our favorite cookie recipes! So, here goes:

Okay, everyone's got their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but how about a healthier YUMMY version? (don't knock 'em until you try 'em!)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.

OPTIONAL STEP: Grind 3/4 cup rolled oats in a blender or food processor, then transfer to a medium bowl.

Add in flour, cinnamon (if using) baking soda and salt; mix to combine. In a bowl beat butter until fluffy. Add in oil, both sugars, egg, vanilla and maple extract; beat until smooth an creamy. Add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add in chocolate chips and nuts (if using).Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake (one sheet at a time) until firm around the edges and golden on top (about 12-15 minutes). Cool cookies for 2 minutes on sheet then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

These are a bit of work, but are WELL worth it!!!

German Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

For Cookies

For Pecan Coconut Filling

Heat oven to 350°. To toast coconut: Spread coconut in even layer on baking sheet and bake 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.
For cookies: combine flour, sugar, butter, cocoa, baking soda, salt, 2 eggs, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of mixer until blended (batter will be stiff). Stir in pecans. Shape batter into 1-inch balls using slightly floured hands. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; flatten slightly. Bake 9-11 minutes or until almost set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Spread about 1 tablespoon coconut pecan filling onto bottom of one cookie. Top with second cookie to make sandwich. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For coconut pecan filling:
. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat; add brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir constantly, until just bubbly. Do not overcook, it makes filling to hard to spread. Remove from heat; stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Use warm for spreadability.

Ranger Cowboy Cookies

  • 1 c. margarine or butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. oatmeal
  • 2 c. cornflakes (not crushed)
  • 1 c. coconut
  • 2 cups. chocolate or butterscotch chips (or a mix of both!)

Cream margarine and sugars. Mix together eggs and vanilla. Mix together flour, soda and salt. Add egg mixture to margarine and sugars. Gradually add flour mixture. Mix in remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Makes about 2 dozen.

This is a recipe that my husband's grandpa passed down and it's become our ONLY peanut butter cookie recipe!

Grandpa's Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. margarine
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp. hot water
  • 3/4 c. peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • more granulated sugar for rolling cookies

Cream together sugars and margarine. Add baking soda, water, peanut butter, and eggs. Mix well. Add vanilla, flour, and salt. Mix well. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll balls in sugar before placing on a baking sheet. Flatten cookies with a fork. Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and let cool.

Here's my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. It's not puffy or cake-y, more like a chocolate chip cookie, crisp and chewy in one.

Delicious Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 2 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick)

Cream sugars and margarine in mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Add raisins and oats; mix well. Chill, covered, overnight. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on pan for a minute before removing.

Here's a kids favorite:
Monster Cookies
  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. margarine
  • 1 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 c. quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1 c. M & Ms
  • 1 c. butterscotch chips
  • 1 c. salted peanuts
  • 2 c. flour
Cream peanut butter & margarine and sugars. Add eggs & beat well. Add baking soda and vanilla. Add oats, candy, chips and peanuts. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in flour. Shape 1/4 cupfuls into balls. Place on greased cookie sheets, 6 to a large sheet. Flatten gently. Bake at 325° for 15 - 18 minutes.

Okay, so these are probably the most favorite cookies in this household:
Chocolate No-Bake Cookies
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. baking cocoa
  • 1/2 c. margarine or butter
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. rolled oats (not instant or quick)
Combine sugar, milk, baking cocoa, and margarine in a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently/constantly. Boil for 90 seconds. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, vanilla, and rolled oats. Stir to mix until peanut butter is blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let cool to harden.