February, 2012

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!

Monday Mommy Confession #34

As of this Wednesday I will be 33 weeks pregnant. That means I have 7 weeks until my estimated delivery date, which when you think about it means nothing since I tend to go well past 40 weeks (Sammie was 42 weeks to the day), but you never know when baby might decide to show up earlier than expected. That being said, I have to confess that I haven’t even begun to prepare for this baby. True, we already have all the basics since this is our third child, and regardless of the gender we have clothes (though they need to be unpacked and laundered). But we don’t have new born disposable diaper for the first couple of weeks until the umbilical cord falls off and we can switch to cloth, we haven’t pulled out and washed anything, and the big one, we haven’t started talking seriously about names yet ::gasp::!

Except for my ever growing belly there really isn’t any sign that there will soon be a new little bundle of joy added to our family.

Maybe some of you moms with several kids can chime in on this. Does it seem to you that with every child added to your family preparation seems to get pushed farther and farther back as though there was an abundance of time?

Really though, I have a little time before I need to kick it in gear. At about a month out I should actually take this whole “having another baby in the house” thing seriously. The problem is that there are so many other things going on at the same time that I end up feeling overwhelmed. After all we have a move happening in the (hopefully) near future, a weeklong family vacation the beginning of June, plus other big events happening around the same time. With all this in my head I have a constant feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. I have a strong urge to start making various lists as soon as I’m done with this post so that I can feel like I have some semblance of order, organization, and control in my life.

What to remember in the end is that my Heavenly Father holds my families future in His hands. Only He knows when this baby will come, when Joel will find a job, when we will be moving, and all the details in between. I need to lay my burdens on Him. ::Deep Breath::

But we should really start talking seriously about names. It takes us f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to pick out names!

Why I love the Winter in the Country!

Though my family didn’t move out into the country until I was 14 years old, I always had a love for the outdoors.” The more space the better” was always my thought. Even as a child I felt connected in a special way to plants and dirt, the wind and the sun. When there was severe weather you could always find me outside with my brothers running around in the wind and the beginnings of giant rain drops (my poor mother). It was as though God was speaking to me through nature.

So it was a very easy decision to move back to the country with my parents after Samantha was born. We were out here practically every weekend, often for the entire weekend, in order to get away from the city and decompress.

There is a beauty during the winter months that city life pales in comparison to. It doesn’t happen all the time, but waking up to trees covered in ice or heavy wet snow clinging to now low hanging branches is simply breathtaking. It truly is a winter wonder land. Add to that a warm fire, hot cocoa or cider and a good book or movie and you are set.

I want to share with you my country winter view.




This is one of my favorites!



Don’t you just want to go exploring in there?!


An old well with a tree growing inside it. Long out of use.


Waking up and looking out the window to see this is such a blessing. I think heaven will sparkle like these trees do. It is simply beautiful!


I’m linking this to Homestead Barn Hop!

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.

Monday Mommy Confession #33

Do you every have those times when you think nothing else can go wrong and then the final big one hits you and you just have to laugh at the whole thing?


This is my final big one:

The picture doesn't do her justice. It was WAY worse than it looks!

In the few seconds that I had my back turned to load our things into the car for Missional Community (our “not so small” group), Sammie wandered off into the drive way and managed to get her entire left side plastered in gray gravel water. I swear the puddle was only 8 inches wide and could barely be called a puddle.

I had to carry a stunned little girl into the house and get her changed and cleaned. She never cried and once she got into the house she thought it was quite funny. She had lots of fun showing off her mess. The picture doesn’t do her justice. It was in her hair, her eye lashes, her ear, up her nose, on her coat and the collar of her turtleneck, her hands were covered and both her knees were soaked.

Like I said before, this was the big one, the one that topped off the rest of my day. Which included no naps for the girls or me (I was sick and in desperate need of sleep and they decided to go on a sleep strike), they felt the need to push every boundary with me and beings that I was sick and am quite pregnant I didn’t have the energy or the ability follow through in many areas.

I was debating even going in to town that evening, but decided to go because, well, I wanted an hour away from my girls (we have child care during discussion) and I didn’t think I could handle them by myself the rest of the night (Joel was leading a group and couldn’t skip and come home to rescue me).

So when Sammie went for a winter swim in the driveway I just had to laugh. What else was there to do? I had already cried earlier and poured out my frustration to God and if He saw fit to allow this to happen then it must have been for a reason and He must have thought I could handle it.

Thankfully after I got her cleaned up and the girls into the car, both of them sat quietly (mostly) for the trip in.


Have you ever had a “Final Big One” that you just had to laugh at?

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 amazon.com 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!

Monday Mommy Confession #32

Normally I love being outside. I love getting my hands dirty and I am one of the few that actually likes shoveling snow (cardio, anyone?) But during seasons of pregnancy I have to admit that I am less then eager to venture outside into the cold with my girls and frolic in the snow. Especially since it takes more time to get them ready to go out and play in the snow then they actually spend playing in the snow.

Two of the last three winters I have been at least half way through pregnancy and too large to help shovel or enjoy the bountiful white stuff. Mostly the girls (especially Emma) have had to wait until the weekend when daddy is home to be able to go out and play.

However, last Monday I sucked it up and bundled us all up and ventured out to play. We were only out about 30min but it was enough for all of us, and we all had a fun time. I even got so warm that I had to take off my coat and scarf while I was pushing the girls in their sled down my grandparents ramp, which was sooo much fun!

(It was very bright outside hence the funny face)

I was so glad I sucked it up and went out with them!



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?

January Reading Goals Update and February’s Reading List

I had two books on my reading list for January. I actually ended up changing the organization book to another that I got Free for my Kindle. It was actually the one I wanted to read and was homing the first would be similar. Unfortunately its wasn’t and I struggle through every page that I did read. Thankfully the book I really wanted to read was offered free for Kindle on Amazon.com!

" target="_blank">Skinny B*tch

I wanted to read this book because I wanted to know how our bodies react to the different foods and additives we ingest. It was not with the intent of becoming a vegan (which this book promotes) or even vegetarian that I decided to read this book. I had heard that it did a good job of giving the facts in an easy to understand format, which is true. However there is a lot of language and some semi lewd content. The intent was to get the reader’s attention. I felt a little offended, but was able to get past it. It was indeed very informative about each food group and how it helps or hinders your body. They also did a great job of giving you a brief breakdown of labeling and the best way to shop.

I wouldn’t recommend this to just anyone. You really have to look past the language and be very interested in what you are eating and how to eat more responsibly.

Considering I picked it up at a garage sale for $1 I would say that it was money well spent.

" target="_blank">Organizing for a Fresh Start

This is the book I was disappointed in and struggled to push forward in. It’s not that it had bad information, more that I am not in a place in my life where I need that kind of information. This book is about organizing during and after a big life change. It is organizing on a large scale. I was more looking for ways to simplify through organization and decluttering. I have two little kids and a third on the way. I need small steps that make big impact.

Also I did really gel with the author’s writing style. You could tell that she was very new age and I had a hard time connecting with her.

If you are going through the loss of a loved one, job change, divorce, empty nesting, or anything else of the sort and are feeling lost, this may be the book for you.

" target="_blank">Organized Simplicity

This is the book I really wanted to read that wasn’t available at the time I made my list. And boy I wasn’t disappointed! With the move to Kansas in the near future having this information in mind as a pack and set up house again is invaluable. I love the fact that it was written by a mom trying figure out how to live in a small space. She does such a great job of creating a game plan working from room to room with check list for cleaning, decluttering and organizing.

I would recommend this book to any mom who is trying to find things easier, be able to spend less time cleaning and more time living and enjoying family.

I also am half way through the first of three books in" target="_blank"> The Complete Tightwad Gazette.


">Organizing for a Fresh Start

" target="_blank">Skinny B*tch (Don’t judge, I didn’t make up the title. I’ve already started this and it has great straight forward nutritional information. I can’t say that I appreciate some of the language or the way they address the reader, but I do like the way they clearly explain things. Plus I think I only paid $1 at a garage sale for it. And Yes, I did change the “I” so that it wouldn’t be the whole word. That isn’t actually the way it reads on the book.)


" target="_blank">Blogging for Dummies

" target="_blank">Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it


" target="_blank">Miserly Moms

" target="_blank">Becoming a Woman of Freedom


" target="_blank">The Simple Dollar: How One Man Wiped Out His Debts and Achieved the Life of His Dreams


" target="_blank">Four-Season Harvesting

" target="_blank">The Power of a Praying Parent


" target="_blank">Seed to Seed

" target="_blank">Calm My Anxious Heart


" target="_blank">How to Dry Foods


" target="_blank">Root Cellaring


" target="_blank">Quitter


" target="_blank">Margin


" target="_blank">Entreleadership


" target="_blank">The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

Books I’m going to read over the entire year

These are books that are more how-to’s or not chapter books.

" target="_blank">The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook

" target="_blank">Back to Basics: A complete Guide to Traditional Skills

" target="_blank">The Complete Tightwad Gazette

What’s on your reading list this month?

Friday’s Favorite Five-Strawberries

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my favorite things once a week. It gives you a look into what makes me tick, and in the case of this week’s favorite five, what makes me drool. All the amazing strawberry-ness that I’m sharing with you I found via Pinterst. All five are on my list of “I want to make, but haven’t yet”. And in my defense, I found them all this fall and winter so strawberry season hasn’t hit yet making these affordable. But I tell ya, once those organic strawberries go on sale or the farmer’s markets open up, I am going to town.

Grab a napkin to wipe up your drool and enjoy!

  1. Fresh Fruit Chocolate Bars (this one’s made with Strawberries but I’m guessing you could use whatever you want)

                 (just letting you know, I tried to find the original post on the blog it was linked to and could not find it)


    Wouldn’t you feel so much better about yourself if you were eating one of these instead of a candy bar from the checkout isle?

    Basically you use an icetray to make them.

                2.   Frozen Strawberry Pie


    Frozen Pies are so refreshing in the summer. I can hardly wait!


                3.   Valentine Chocolate Covered Strawberries


I love the drizzle and the double dip. These would make great gifts for any occasion or just because!


                4.    North Pole Strawberry Smoothie


This just looks so yummy! Just because the name has North Pole in it doesn’t mean we have to wait until Christmas right?


                5.    Chocolate Strawberry Pie


I love that the majority of this pie is fresh strawberries.


Have you found any yummy strawberry recipes via the internet or Pinterest? Or maybe you have an old standby recipe that you just can’t live without? Leave a comment and share the strawberry love!