Category : Baking/Cooking

The Best Darn Tomato Sauce You Will Ever Make!

We have been busy little bees around here. Tomato season is upon us, and though the tomatoes around here are lacking in size, they are not lacking in taste. My mother-in-law recently made lasagna with her homemade tomato sauce and we discovered something. My husband REALLY prefers her homemade sauce over the canned stuff from the store. This may sound like a “guys always like their momma’s cookin the best” situation, but it’s more than that. The canned stuff always messes up his stomach a little, and he never likes to do leftovers the next day, I have to wait a day before sending leftovers in his lunch. Not so with his mothers homemade stuff. I think it has to do with the fact that there are also carrots and onions in her recipe that help to counter the high acidity from the tomatoes. That’s my best guess at least.

Did I mention that it is D-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s?!

The first batch we did we froze. Since our freezer is full of a recent frozen fruit purchase, we are canning the next batch. I think we will end up with 10 plus quarts of the tomato sauce. This is my first time canning and I’m so excited! Since its tomatoes there is no water involved, which is kind of a bummer since that is the part I’m really nervous about, but that will have to wait until next time.


This recipe is originally from Tupperware of all places. Back in the day when putting up food was still a normal part of life, Tupperware came out with their Square round freezer containers. They were trying to show how you could freeze your food instead of canning.


Tomato Sauce


You will need:

20 large tomatoes (or in our case, 7lbs of really small tomatoes), washed, cored, and cut into chunks

3 onions chopped (about 4 cups)

4 large carrots or 6 smaller ones (shredded or sliced)

8tsp Parsley

3T Sugar

2T Salt

3/4tsp Pepper

Place all the ingredients into a large pot. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring often.

Lower heat and simmer 45 minutes or until mixture is thickened.

Let cool slightly and then pour into blender or food processor. Start on low and work up to high speed until smooth.

If you are freezing- Pour into serving size containers and allow to cool completely before placing it in the freezer to prevent freezer burn. Secure seal, date it, and place in your freezer.

If you are canning- Return to pot and reheat. Pour into prepared jars, leaving room at the neck. Place sterile flat on and secure ring. Date it and place in your pantry.

Update: It’s probably best if you water bathe them in hot water. You can reheat, pour into the jar and just place them in your pantry, but you need to always pull from the bottom where it is hottest, and you risk them going bad if it wasn’t hot enough (that’s what happened to me. 5 jars of sauce down the drain. Made me sick.) It’s best to follow the instructions in “Ball’s Blue Book Guide to preserving” just to be safe. Sometimes old methods aren’t the best for beginners (like me!)


(Please note the amazon link is my affiliate link)


I am linking this to             The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival

Recipe: Texas Caviar

Guest Post by: Andi S.


Today’s delicious recipe is…drum roll please……Texas Caviar! It is the perfect light and refreshing chip dip for a hot summer day – sweet and sassy. Great for a side dish or even an appetizer! The recipe makes so much for very little cost. It is the easiest, cheapest, and most delicious side! You can’t beat that.


Here is that abundant Texas Caviar recipe:

2 cups celery

1 onion (I use 1/2 white onion)

1 drained can shoepeg corn

1 drained can pinto beans

1 drained can black eyed peas

1 drained can black beans

1 small jar pimentos

Lay’s Fritos Scoops

Mix all of the canned beans, corn, and pimentos in a large bowl.

Dice the celery and white onion and throw it into the mix.

Mix everything well.

Boil and stir: 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup white vinegar until sugar is dissolved. Let it cool completely.  Add 1/2 cup veggie oil. Now pour this over all the veggie/bean mix and stir well!

It’s best if it’s refrigerated for 24 hours before serving.

Bon appetite!

 Andi is an avid reader, tea drinker, and adventurer. She hopes to someday see Sequoia trees in California and a Wimbledon match on a beautiful June afternoon. She recently graduated from Creighton University and will continue to pursue God’s will for her life.

I’m linking to:   

The Many Flavors of Oatmeal

Oatmeal is such a cheap, versatile breakfast staple, but it often gets overlooked or made much more expensive by those boxes of little convenient packages. Sometimes it feels like the only way to get them to eat oatmeal is if it’s those doctored up, flavored packets filled with wannabe fruit.

Frustrated moms, let me give you hope. There is a way to give your children the full benefits of oatmeal and real fruit while saving money. It may take some time, but it is possible.

If your troop is revolting against Rolled Oat/Old Fashioned Oats (which holds the most nutrition) then you may need to ease them in gradually. Start with 3 parts instant oats, 1 part rolled oats. Gradually work your way to half and half all the way until your kids are doing only Rolled Oats.

A great way to make the oatmeal tastier and give them some extra fruit, here are some of the extras I add in:

Brown Sugar




Dried Cranberries (any dried fruit Really)

Strawberries (frozen or fresh)

Blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Diced apples or applesauce




I always use a generous serving of honey and a little brown sugar (for that darker flavor) and then whatever fruit I want to add.

If you combine these two tips you should have awesome success and your grocery budget will thank you!


What do you like in your oatmeal?


I’m linking The Homestead Barn Hop and Tasty Tuesday!

Recipe: (Not so) Refried Beans

I don’t know if you can really call these refried beans since they aren’t actually fried at all. They taste just the same, even better in my opinion, and are much healthier for you. Oh, and did I mention cheaper! I’m not giving exact measurements since the size of your family will determine how much you make (plus I buy my beans in bulk so I never really know how many beans I’m using). You can figure that a pound of beans with insure the beans aren’t too spicy from the taco seasoning. If you are going to do less I would suggest cutting the seasoning in half or making a full batch and freezing the other half.

Start with your dry beans and soak and cook as the package directs (I’ll do a tutorial on this soon).

Once the beans are fully cooked let them cool for a while so that you can work with them without burning yourself on the steam.

Scoop beans into your blender or food processor and add some of the water from the beans (start with a cup or so and add as you blend to reach your desired consistency). Blend until you’ve reached desired consistency (less if you want some bean chunks in there, more is you want a smoother texture).

Pour blended beans into a pan and add your homemade Taco Seasoning or a package of Taco seasoning from the store, and ½-1 cup of the bean water.

Cook on medium heat until it starts to bubble and then reduce to medium-low heat and cook for 5 minutes.



Is your family a big refried bean eating family?

I’m linking this to Tasty Tuesday and Homesteader Blog Carnival!

Recipe: Homemade Potato Fries

When I was a girl my mom would make these when things were tight instead of buying prepackaged store fries. As kids we loved them but as things loosened up financially and we became busier convenience won out.

I started making homemade fries a couple of years ago. I can’t remember exactly why, but I think I forgot to buy fries and I was improvising. Turned out they were a big hit, especially with my husband. They taste way better and are much cheaper then store bought and it takes no time at all.

When I was a kid mom would have me rub oil on each fry. As an adult I realized how in efficient that was. Now I just pour some oil in the pan, add the potatoes and toss until they are all coated. I almost never buy store fries now.


Homemade Potato Fries

Potatoes (1 med-large sized potato per person)

Vegetable or Olive oil (for coating)

Salt, pepper, seasoned salt, or whatever else you like


Wash potatoes and leave the skins on.

Slice potatoes length wise and then slice desired thickness (you don’t want them too thin or they will over cook).

Pour oil into pan. Start with less as you can always add more if needed.

Dump fries into pan and toss to coat.

Spread out fries making sure that none are overlapping. You want them to be touching the bottom of the pan so they will crisp up.

Season with desired seasoning

Bake for 15-20 minutes @ 400 degrees F. until bottoms are lightly browned.

Flip and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

These taste great on their own but are great for dipping as well.


We use Yukon Potatoes on our house. The skins are thin and the meat of the potato is a buttery texture. I’ve also found that I have less trouble with them sticking to the bottom of the pan then regular brown potatoes. You can however use whatever kind of potato you like.


Have you tried making potato fries? What are some of your favorite seasonings?

I’m linking this to: Tasty Tuesday, Homestead Barn Hop, The Country Homestead Hop, Farm Girl Friday Barn Hop, The Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post.

Recipe: Sweet Quick Bread Mix

(Like my pregnant belly in the bottom left corner of the picture?!)


I have to say, I use this recipe all the time. It was the first recipe I every tried from the (More) Make-A-Mix recipe books and I am in love with it. My family LOVES fruit breads and muffins and this recipe makes it just as easy, if not easier, then from a box, and it’s certainly cheaper. The picture above is of the basic mix that you make a head (notice that it’s almost gone!)


Sweet Quick Bread Mix

6 Cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1-1/2 cups vegetable shortening


In a large bowl, stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and brown sugar with a large wire whisk until blended. Use a pastry blender, a heavy duty mixer with a bowl cover or your fingers to blend in shortening until evenly distributed. Spoon into a 12 cup container with a tight fitting lid (or large zip bags if you don’t have a large enough container). Store in cool, dry place. Use within 10-12 weeks. Makes about 11 cups Sweet Quick Bread Mix.


(Joel’s healthy breakfast, including cranberry Muffins made with the mix. Yes he does eat the carrots and green peppers for breakfast. Did you know Green peppers are high in Vitamin C?)

For Banana-Nut Bread

3-3/4 cups Sweet Quick Bread Mix

2 eggs, Beaten

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

2-3 Medium Bananas Mashed (about 1 cup)

½ Cup Chopped Nuts


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 C) grease one 9″x5″ loaf pan or two 7″x3″ loaf pans; set aside. In medium bowl, combine all ingredients, stirring to blend. Turn into prepared pan or pans. Bake 50 to 60 minutes in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out of pan. Cool right-side up on rack. Makes 1-2 loaves.

There are several variations, but I’m only sharing one with you today. If you are interested in purchasing the books you can buy the Make-A-Mix " target="_blank">Make-A-Mix, and More Make-A-Mix Cookery " target="_blank">More-Make-A-Mix (which is where this recipe came from) books at for a great price.


On a personal note

If you don’t have lemon juice, don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world without it.

I use 3 medium bananas when I make this. It makes the bread extra moist.

My husband, sadly, is not a nut person so I omit the nuts.

If you are doing two 7″x3″ pans I would start with 40 minutes and go from there. Depending on the oven 50 minutes might be too much.

Also, I use the same recipe for muffins. I find it sweeter then the muffin mix. To make muffins you will need two muffin pans (24 muffins total). I place one pan on the top rack on one side and the other on the second rack on the opposite side. At 15 minutes I switch top rack and bottom rack and rotate the pans so that the back is now in the front and bake for 5 more minutes.


Do you have a favorite muffin recipe?


I’m Linking this to Homestead Barn Hop and Tasty Tuesday!

January Recipe Goals Update (2012)

I made baking bread my first kitchen goal of the year because I didn’t want to put it off any longer. After some failures I did have some success. You can read about my adventure here.

I will continue to bake bread. In fact I plan on baking more today with my new yeast!

This month’s goal is to make raisin bread. Once I find a recipe I think will work for us I will be unstoppable!


Basic Bread Recipe


Cinnamon Raisin Bread


Homemade Crackers-" target="_blank">Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it


Homemade Mustard-" target="_blank">Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it

Homemade Ketchup-" target="_blank">Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it


Homemade Soda-" target="_blank">Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it (this one will be with the help of hubby since he’s the one who reeeally wants to try it!)


Chipotle Burrito Recipe


Homemade Salsa


Better then Panera Broccoli and Cheddar Soup


Homemade Tomato Sauce-" target="_blank">Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it


Homemade Pie Crust Recipe


Homemade Pitas (I want to make Gyros)


Homemade Granola


Homemade Runzas (once I get the bread thing down I will be whipping up a batch of these babies! I made them with my mother-in-law once but she had already made up the dough. They are so good and are great to keep in the freezer and pull out for a quick lunch or dinner!)

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Recipe: Butter Milk Pancakes

I’ll admit that I used to be one of those girls that bought pancake mix. I didn’t grow up making things from scratch. I assumed anything made from a recipe was labor intensive. Obviously I have learned the error of my thinking. True there are some things that take more work then to buy premade, but pancakes are for sure not one of them. I have been whipping out the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook on Saturdays when we do pancakes for breakfast, but as I was thinking about what I was going to write for this post I realized that I could easily mix up the dry ingredients for the number of batches I use and put them in zip bags with the required wet ingredients written on the bag. FYI, I usually do a triple batch. This feeds 4 adults and 2 girls plus leaves enough leftovers for the girls and I to have a second breakfast later in the week. You can either store them in the frig if you are going to use them quickly or throw them in the freezer for a little later.

I will let you know that the recipe doesn’t call for vanilla, but I like to pour a little in and it makes a huge difference. I don’t measure it out, I just eyeball it. Also I don’t’ usually use butter milk. I just follow the instructions to use regular milk.

Butter Milk Pancakes

1 Cup All purpose Flour

1Tablespoon Sugar

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1Teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ Teaspoon Salt

1 Beaten Egg

1 Cup Butter Milk or Sour Milk (or reg. Milk)

2 Tablespoons Oil

Combine dry ingredients. Make well in center of mix, set aside. Combine egg, milk and oil. Add wet mix to dry mix. Stir until moist (batter will lumpy). For standard size pancakes use ¼ cup of batter into a 3 inch circle; makes 8. For dollar size pancakes use a1tablespoon of batter into a 1inch circle.

Substitute regular milk by omitting Baking soda and increasing baking powder to 2 teaspoons.

I am linking this to: Beauty and Bedlam and Homstead Barn Hop!

My First Attempt at Homemade Bread

Well I did it. Baking bread was my January Kitchen goal, and I didn’t actually get to it until the 3rd of February, but I did it. I was prompted to do so since I forgot to pick up bread when the girls and I were out yesterday afternoon and I wasn’t going to be able to go back out before the snow hit. So I thought it was the perfect motivation to just bite the bullet and do it.

For all of you that think that I am a wiz in the kitchen, I want you to know that most of what I am great at now was through trial and error, and my first round of bread was no different. My second round was as well for that matter.

Here is a picture of my first attempt:

The first time I combined recipes/methods. What happened was I wanted to use my mom’s kitchenaid with its dough hook. The recipe I was using gave directions to do it by hand so I looked online to find directions to convert a recipe to a kitchenaid.

The second problem was that I didn’t read the original directions very well (big mistake that I totally know better than to do). The recipe called for the milk, butter and whatever else to be warmed on the stove top. The kitchenaid directions I was following said to add all the wet ingredients directly into the bowl. So basically the yeast was never activated.

Flop, major flop.

The second attempt I went online and found a full recipe that used a kitchenaid. You can find the recipe here. I liked this one much better even though it didn’t turn out quite right either, but I’ll get to that in a minute. It called for very warm water instead of milk and it called for olive oil instead of butter. It also had honey in it unlike the previous recipe.

At this point Emma woke up from her nap and wanted to help and I was in a time crunch to try and get this done before dinner so we could have it with our soup. I started in again with the help of my pint sized assistant and everything went as smoothly as it can with a three year old. I set it next to the stove covered with a towel so that the warmth from the cooking soup would help it rise.

I checked back an hour later and lo and behold it hadn’t raised an inch. Really, REALLY! At this point I knew it wasn’t going to be done by dinner. I didn’t even know if it would rise at all. But hubby was home and he really wanted biscuit with the soup so I set out to get them started even though I was tired and despondent.

I went about getting things out and was about to start everything when I read “cut in butter”. Oh ya, that’s right, the butter is supposed to be cold and I just melted it in the microwave. And look the only butter I have left in the frig is the pound I just took out of the deep freezer.

Yes, I went in to the living room, sank into the chair, declared there would be no biscuits tonight and began sobbing.

We ate dinner without bread or biscuits.

After dinner I decided to make a last ditch effort to resurrect the bread. I stuck it in the oven with a bowl full of very warm water below it and left it for an hour. Much to my great delight it had started to rise when I returned to check it! I let it go a little longer and then worked it down a little and put it into the pans to rise again. At this point it was 10:45 so Joel headed to bed and I stayed up to let it rise and bake it. Well after 45min it still hadn’t risen so I said forget it, left them in the oven with fresh water and headed to bed.

This morning they had risen, not as much as I would have liked, but it didn’t help that my girls ran around and the bread fell a little. We baked them up and they tasted delicious!

Here are the results:

I realized through the process of the second batch of bread that I didn’t have “quick rising” or “bread” yeast like I thought I did which was why it took so long for it to rise. However we (the bread makers in the house aka my grandma, my dad and myself) think that it was either old or a bad batch of yeast because it didn’t rise nearly as much as it should have.

Was it worth it?

Yes. I will be doing it again and in the near future will be trying whole wheat bread, but I didn’t have any on hand and I’ve been trying to use up some of the abundance of all purpose flour I got on sale during the holidays. I haven’t figured out the price comparison but I like being able to make bread whenever we need it. I also like knowing exactly what is in it. As far as how easy it was, well, I was a little rushed so I am looking forward to trying it again earlier in the day without time constraints and with the right yeast.

Over all it was a positive outcome and wasn’t nearly as scary as I had imagined in my head for all these years.

Thanks for sticking with me. I know this was a long post, but I wanted to encourage you that everybody has disasters in the kitchen and you are not alone!

I am linking this to:

Recipe: Homemade Taco Seasoning

I will admit that it took me a while to actually try this recipe. I kept meaning to but I’d be missing an ingredient or it just seemed easier to buy a packet of taco seasoning. Finally though, I did bite the bullet and boy am I glad I did! Not only do I love it but my family enjoys it as well! The recipe is for one serving but you could easily make up a bunch all at once. The bonus is that it’s something my girls can help with, and I will take anything they can help with (they looooove to help mommy in the kitchen). Not only do I use this for tacos, but I also use it for enchiladas and homemade refried beans. I love knowing exactly what is in my food.

Having said all that, here is the recipe. I got it from the Make a Mix cookbook. Someday soon I will do a review on these cookbooks. They are amazing!


Homemade Taco Seasoning

2 teaspoons instant minced onion

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Chili Powder

½ teaspoon Cornstarch

½ teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

½ teaspoon instant minced garlic (I use garlic powder)

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until evenly distributed. Store in an air tight container. This recipe makes one package of taco seasoning. If you are planning on making a large batch, two tablespoons is one serving.

To make taco meat add ½ cup of water and seasoning mix to a pound of meat.

I am linking this to: and Beauty and Bedlam