Monday, August 31, 2009

A Clean House

cleaningsuppliesI try really hard to leave the house clean when we leave for a trip.  When we return home it seems that we always hit the ground running.  If I can leave the house clean, hopefully in our dash back to the our routines, we won't trip on anything.  There was extra motivation for getting the house clean before this trip as we were entertaining for lunch on Sunday before we left.  This boiled down to a Saturday night blitz clean.  In a flurry of vacuuming, sweeping, wiping, dusting and stashing, HandyMan and I whipped our house into a pretty presentable abode.  Then we left town. That was the only way that the house was going to stay that neat for a week.  But I have to admit, coming home to that clean house is totally worth it!  Here are some more ideas for How to Keep Your Home Clean All Week Long.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Sunshine

sundaysunshinesmPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This has been a wonderful week of family time away, time with friends and mentors, rekindling relationships from our life in Southern California. It was a week of firsts for GBaby: first trip to the beach and first swim in a pool.  We also had a surprise visit from GBaby's Aunt Krissy that was wonderful.

It has been a beautiful week with a great change of pace, and it will be nice to be home :).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Storing Basil

basilSweet basil is one of my favorite garden herbs.  The glossy green leaves add such flavor to summer meals. But how can you best preserve that flavor for your winter cooking?  Drying and freezing basil are two of the most popular methods of preserving basil.  Read more.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Freezer Friday: Avoiding Freezer Burn

freezerfridaysmThis week I’ve been gone, so nothing has gone into my freezer. So I’ll pass along a few tips I’ve picked up to help avoid freezer burn.  These ideas will help you better protect your food once it heads to your freezer.  Freezer burn is when ice builds up on your food in the freezer and damages the flavor before you get a chance to enjoy it.

*When freezing berries or herbs like basil, make sure your leaves and berries are completely dry before processing for the freezer.  Water on these items will accelerate freezer burn and damage your produce as it will turn to ice right on your produce.

*Choose appropriate containers.  If you are freezing in plastic bags, make sure that you purchase freezer quality bags.  When in doubt, double-bag.  This will protect your food longer.  Plastic containers from cottage cheese, margarine and yogurt work great in the freezer.  Allow about ½ inch at the top for expansion.

*Remove as much air contact from your food.  Where there is air in a bag or container, ice crystals will grow.  Press as much air as possible from your freezer bags and consider placing a piece of plastic wrap directly on the top of food in your container before placing the lid on top.  This will keep ice-crystals from forming in the space you’ve left for expansion in your container.

*Rotate your food –Place new items to the freezer under the items that have been in the freezer longer.  A bit of organization will save you from finding the “mystery food” in the bottom of the freezer later on.

You put time and planning into the items headed for your freezer.  With a few precautions, your food will last even longer!

Read more here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Three Bean Chili

I like to try to trim the grocery bill by including vegetarian and vegan meals into the menu.  This is one of my favorite fall meals, and with fall right around the corner, I thought I’d get a batch in the freezer ready to go.  This is a hearty, meat free meal that can satisfy the hungriest in the house.

timesaverI used dry beans for this recipe.  Most folks will tell you to soak your beans.  I cheated – come on, this should not surprise you!  For this recipe I used my crock pot and I did not soak my beans.  In 6 hours on high, the chili was great.  The black beans did loose a bit of their color and the white beans absorbed a bit of color from the tomato.  If you’re a or plan ahead a little bit more than I did, free to soak your beans first and then reduce the amount of liquid you put in the chili.  This can alos reduce the cooking time.  If you don’t have time to mess with the steps, throw everything in your crock pot, stir, check it a couple times during the day to make sure there’s enough liquid and serve it when the beans are soft.  This is a fairly mild chili, if you prefer a spicier chili, you will want to add more seasonings or hot peppers.

carryoverThis recipe makes about 5 quarts of chili.  After you’ve served it as a stand alone meal with cornbread the first night use it as a COI and serve it as your protein over baked potatoes or rice later in the week for a second meal.  Any remaining bits left in the fridge go well on hot dogs.  You will still have lots for the freezer for later meals.

Vegan Three Bean Chiliveganchili1


6 cups Water

3 cups Tomato/Vegetable Juice (like V8)

2 cups Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Flakes

1 cup dry Black Beans

1 cup dry White Beans

1 cup dry Pinto Beans

1 medium White Onion, chopped

2 Green Peppers, chopped

1- 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Cumin

2 teaspoons Chili Powder


  1. Measure out your beans and sort them for broken beans, rocks and dirt clumps.  Rinse your beans and put them into your slow-cooker on high with all other ingredients. (To reduce cooking time, soak beans in hot water for 2 hours or in cold water overnight.  Reduce liquid by half if you soak beans.  If using pre-cooked beans, increase quantities to 2 cups each)

  2. Once your chili comes to a boil, depending on the heat of your cooker, you may want to turn it down to low to avoid burning around the edges.

  3. Monitor your chili as the beans and TVP will absorb the liquid.  If it looks too thick, add more water.veganchili3

  4. Once beans are soft, serve and enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A to Zucchini Sweet Bread

I cannot tell you how much I love this recipe.  I made two loaves – we had one for breakfast and snacks and the other I served with ice-cream for dessert and it was perfect.  While I had hoped to send one to the freezer, that didn’t happen so I’m going to have to try again!  It not only uses the zucchini that I have coming out my ears but I could also use my homemade plain yogurt – double bonus!

For this time around I used dried cranberries, chopped pecans and brown sugar for the filling.  The bread is vanilla-y sweet and neutral that you can easily substitute just about anything for the filling – that’s where the A to Zucchini comes in.  Options for fillings: apples (diced), blueberries, chocolate chips, dried apricots … you get the idea.

You can also make it as loaves or in a tube or Bundt pan if you need a coffee cake or dessert.  A simple glaze can be made from 3/4 cup Powdered Sugar, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract and 2 teaspoons Milk if you’d like to frost this as a dessert cake.  So experiment, and be sure to come back and tell us how yours turned out!

A to Zucchini Sweet Bread atozuccbread5


1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

3/4 cup Sugar

2 Eggs

3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 1/3 cups Plain Yogurt

3 cups All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 cups Shredded Zucchini


1/2 cup Pecans

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

(Brown Sugar may be omitted, feel free to be creative with your filling – you will need about 11/2 cup of the filling items of your choice.)


  1. Beat together Vegetable Oil, Sugar and Eggs and Vanilla in a large bowl.  Mix in Yogurt.

  2. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

  3. Mix in Zucchini.  Batter will look like this:atozuccbread1

  4. Combine Filling ingredients in a separate bowl.  atozuccbread2

  5. Batter will be divided between two greased loaf pans.  Pour one third the batter in the bottom of the pans.  Sprinkle half the topping over the batter.  Continue with batter layer, filling and remaining batter. atozuccbread3

  6. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.atozuccbread4

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fresh Tomatoes!

Updated 8/25/2010:  If you've landed here from $5 Dinner's Grow Eat $ave bit on Tomatoes- welcome!  I'm still waiting for the arrival of my 2010 tomatoes - they're getting really close!  Here are some of the ways I used tomatoes last year and plan to repeat this year.

I love fresh tomatoes and all the possibilities they hold for storage and meal options.  Between the unseasonable weathar and a nasty tomato blight, we're among the few in our area that may even get a harvest of fresh garden tomatoes this year. I'm planning to enjoy our tomatos fresh and not worrying so much about storing them this year.

2008Y&G 039If you're blessed by an abundance of tomatoes, one of my favorite recipes for fresh tomatoes is over at A Year of Slow Cooking: Restaurant Quality Tomato Soup.  Stephanie did a great job with this and it is one of the very few recipes that I don't tweak to make my own.   Very easy and VERY yummy!  Last year when I had buckets and buckets of tomatoes, lots of this soup made it to the freezer.

Here are more ideas to bring your fresh tomatoes to your salad plate, soup bowl or dinner plate.  What are your favorite tomato meals in the summer?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Sunshine

sundaysunshinesm Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This week has absolutely flown by, so much so that I had to look at the calendar to see what I had done this week!  We had a wonderful visit with friends that were passing through our area on a family vacation.  It is always a joy to host folks from other eras in our life as our paths cross again.  I was also blessed by two friends who gave me breathers this week by keeping an eye on GBaby while I worked.  It was fabulous and I was able to get a lot done!  Friday night we were hosted for an amazing dinner-nothing better than good company and someone else making dinner after a day of working.  My Saturday morning brought a huge grace for me as I was looking at tasks of blogging, laundry, packing and cleaning (all on top of being pretty tired) and GBaby gave me sleep!  She slept in until 9am, then by 10:30 was napping again.  Happy day for Mommy and a great week overall.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bags are Packed... or Not

suitcaseToday I have to pack and I am not a fan of packing.  Especially since the airlines have now added fees for checking bags.  So my mission is to get a week's worth of stuff for two adults and one infant packed into one duffle bag, a carry-on bag and a diaper bag.  I'm really glad that it is still summer and we're heading to a warm destination!

There was a time, in the very recent past when HandyMan and I spent seven weeks roaming around Europe with just our backpacks.  For this trip we will need a few things that we didn't need then - like diapers, stroller, wipes, car seat, binkies, teddy-bears, toys, blankets.  The new challenges of  travelling with an infant.

So our first "big trip"  with GBaby earlier this summer and she did great.  It went very well and were blessed to be staying with friends so anything we needed we borrowed.  This time we're staying at a retreat center that's not equipped for infants.  So, fortunately we still have friends that live nearby that are loaning us a couple important things -like a Pack 'n Play.  Next week will be an adventure.  I will have posts scheduled so you will have fun things to read while I'm away (like the promised Three Bean Chili recipe and yummy Zucchini Sweet Bread and ideas for your summer tomato crops).  Replies on comments will probably be delayed since I'll be working off my phone.

Here's my strategy for packing.  Do you have any tips for me?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Freezer Friday: Mashed Potatoes

freezerfridaysmIt is Freezer Friday again and this week all sorts of things have made it into my freezer!  As I start to head into September and October, my focus turns to my craft fairs and less on preparing meals.  So right now I'm working on stockpiling meals and carry-over ingredients to make dinnertime a little easier as I'm pouring candles, packing for craft fairs.

This week I added  three meals worth of Three Bean Chili, ten- 1 cup packets of shredded zucchini to be used for baking this fall and winter. I also made some more sweet-potato baby food as it continues to be a GBaby favorite.  My other freezer stashing started when my friend Jenny popped up on my Facebook wall with this question:


That got me thinking and I sent her in the direction of the Grilled Potatoes as well as steak fries.  I was glad she got me thinking because I had 5 pounds of potatoes sprouting in my bin that I needed to do something with.  Jenny ended up going with the Grilled Potatoes method and put her packet in the oven with some yummy spices she'd picked up at the Farmer's market.  I ended up mashing my potatoes.

When it comes to working with potatoes, I am admittedly lazy.  I hate peeling potatoes so I usually buy red or white potatoes with thin skins that don't have to be peeled to be used and cook well.  So, yesterday, I chopped out the eyes, washed and chopped the potatoes and made a mess of mashed potatoes- also known as batch cooking.  After we had some potatoes with the chili for lunch, I ended up with three quarts of mashed potatoes headed for the freezer for other meals.  Everyone has their own version of mashed potatoes, here's mine:

TM Mashed Potatoes mashedpotatoes

5 Pounds Red or White Potatoes

1/2 cup Butter or Margarine

2 cups Milk

1-1/2 teaspoons Salt

1 teaspoon Pepper

1.  Wash potatoes and remove any eyes or bad spots (and peel if you so choose).  Chop clean potatoes into 1" cubes.  While washing, bring a half pot of water to a boil that will hold the amount of potatoes you're preparing.

2.  Add potatoes to the boiling water and cook until the are fork tender (break apart when stabbed with a fork).

3.  Drain potatoes and put in bowl to mash (or back into pot).  Add other ingredients.

4. Mash thoroughly with a masher or hand mixer.  I use the MamaMixer for about 4 minutes on a low setting to get them nice and smooth.

Serve up and enjoy or put in containers and freeze them for later.  Click here for a printable version of this recipe.  Have a question or challenge for me?  Find me on Facebook through the links on the top-right side of the page or leave a reply on any of my posts here!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quick Dinner: Veggie Spaghetti

On nights when things are chaotic, I love meals that come together quickly and incorporate most of the important food groups into one meal, or at least gets the veggies into the mix.  This time of year with fresh zucchini coming out my ears, it's getting added to all kinds of things.  In this recipe you can substitute whatever garden abundance you are blessed with into the mix: bell peppers, yellow squash, onions and fresh diced tomatoes are all great additions.

Veggie Spaghetti


1 Pound Spaghetti Noodles

3 cups of Marinara sauce (or your favorite spaghetti sauce)

3-5 cups of chopped Fresh Vegetables (summer squash, zucchini, onions, green peppers)

1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil


1.  Put water on to boil in a kettle and prepare to cook Spaghetti according the directions.

2.  While water is coming to a boil, put oil, garlic and veggies into a large skillet and saute them until tender.


3.  Add Marinara sauce to Veggies and cook until sauce is heated thoroughly.


4.  Combine veggie-sauce with pasta.


5. Top with crumbled feta cheese or grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

For the closing night of the vacation Bible school at our chuch I made these fun ice cream cone cupcakes for the kids.  As usual I totally made too many, but they all found a good home by the end of the night.  This is totally a cheater recipe and while I had planned on just using cake mixes, I goofed a batch and ended up having to mix up homemade yellow cake.  So, for the cheater easy version,

You Will Need:

1 box of your favorite cake mix and the ingredients it calls foricccupcakes1

18-24 cake ice cream cones (the kind wiht the flat bottoms)

1 can of your favorite frosting or a homemade frosting of your choice

Muffin tins.


1. Mix up the cake batter according to the directions.

2.  Stand ice cream cones in the muffing tins, one cone per cup.

3.  Fill the icecream cones with batter, leaving about one inch at the top.  This is important!  If you overfill them, you will have "melted" icecream cone cupcakes all over you oven - that was my goofed batch :-).

4.  Bake according to your cake directions for cupcakes.  The may take a little longer but will be done when cake bounces back when pressed or when a toothpick comes out clean.

5.  Add frosting after they've cooled and enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rocked My World... How to fold fitted sheets

So, I admit it.  I am one of those people who (until this summer) has NEVER folded up a fitted sheet.  I would take one corner to another, then all four corners together.  Fold it in half again and then kind of roll it up.  All that elastic and fabric in the corners never cooperated.  Then, my friend posted this video on Facebook.  In one minute and forty-two seconds of training and now, I can fold those darn things!  If fitted sheets just get wadded up in your linen closet - spare the minute-forty-two and check this out!  What other tricks to you guys know that I need to be filled in on?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday's Sunshine

sundaysunshinesmPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week. (Click here for more on Sunday Sunshine)

As I stood by the sink in a brief moment of peace and quiet, my brain wandered to all the things I wanted to do, to get, to get done, or to be different.  I found myself spiralling into a very discontented place so I decided it was time to refocus.  This has been a very full week.  Many of the and most of this weeks graces were the small things that saved my sanity.  Friends love for GBaby as they walked, rocked or distracted my otherwise grumpy teething little girl. More fresh produce as we went for another round of blueberries and broccoli and summer squashes are coming in from gardens.  A gift of a huge container of strawberries that were left over from a church function.  It has also decided to be summer finally and the warm weather and cool nights have been fabulous.

What graces were found throughout you week?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How to Plan Meals on a Budget

Planning meals to keep your grocery line on budget can be quite the challenge, but there are a few basic principles that can help you succeed.  Here are a few ideas that include shopping sales, skipping convenience foods and batch cooking.

It is easy to dream of meal plans and saving money on the food that gets put on our dinner table but realistically, it takes discipline and a bit of work on the front end.  With the dicipline and work, in the long run, you will save money and your family will eat healthier food. Read more.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Freezer Friday: Pepper Bombs

In the summer I'm able to get green peppers for about $0.35 each.  Since this is pennies next to what we would have to spend in the winter for fresh peppers, I like to stock up and stash them in the freezer.  My process for freezing peppers is used with the intent of cooking with these peppers later.  They'll end up in spaghetti sauce, soups, chili, casseroles - you name it.

Simply wash your peppers.

Cut the seeds and core out of the pepper.  Then chop or slice the peppers as you want them for your future cooking.  (HandyMan is chopping SO fast...ok, fine -it's just a blurry picture)


I put one pepper worth of chopped pieces in the center of a piece of plastic wrap and peppers2

then close the plastic wrap up around the pepper pieces.  Voila!   Pepper bomb.


Put multiple pepper packets in a large freezer zip-top bag and you're ready to go.  When your winter recipes call for one chopped green pepper and dollar signs register in your head, remember your freezer stash and enjoy!

For more information on freezing green peppers, click here.  Did you get anything stashed in your freezer this week?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

HV Zucchini Bread

Update 7/17/2010: If you've landed here from $5 Dinners Grow. Eat. $ave. series, Welcome!  Please take a moment to look around.  This zucchini bread recipe is still one of my go-to zucchini bread recipes!. It is quick and easy, moist and freezes beautifully!  It's also really good with cream cheese. Click here for more of my zucchini recipes including Veggie Spaghetti Quick Dinner and [Green] Potato Soup.

This is another one of those hearty quick breads that is great for breakfasts or snacks.  While it's obvious that there will be veggies in zucchini bread, this particular recipe is absolutely packed with veggies!  You can substitute your pureed squash for the pureed zucchini in this recipe and you can also substitute in up to 2 cups of whole wheat flour for more whole grain goodness!  Still need to find uses for more zucchinis?  Check out this article.

Zucchini Bread


3 cups shredded Zucchini

1 cup pureed Zucchini (or Yellow Squash)

2 Eggs

1/2 cups Vegetable Oil

2 cups Sugar

3 cups Flour (can substitute up to 2 cups Whole Wheat)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Directionszucchini bread6

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.  Cream together eggs, oil and sugar.

3.  Add Zucchini puree and blend.

4.  Mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl then add to your batter.

5.  Add shredded Zucchini to the batter and mix thoroughly.

6.  Divide batter between two, greased, loaf pans.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The MamaMixer

It is very stereotypical for the guys in our lives to love their gadgets.  For some guys the more powerful the tool the better. For others the more technical the gadget, the more fun they have.  We gals don’t usually get rolled into these stereo-types but I have the same fanaticism about some of my appliances as certain guys do about their chainsaws.


There are a few appliances that I use regularly that I just can’t imagine life without.  One of my biggest helpers in the house is my KitchenAid stand mixer.  I LOVE that thing. I first got the experience of playing with a KitchenAid stand mixer while we were house-sitting for friends.  It was around Christmas time so I gave my friend’s mixer a work-out: cookies, pies, cakes.  By the time we were done house-sitting I knew I needed one of those, except hers was too small.  I wanted the MamaMixer: the KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer.

At the time we were living in a tiny apartment while HandyMan was going to grad school.  I worked all week and on Saturday mornings he’d go off to play soccer and I’d stay home and work out the stress of the week baking and cooking.  He’d come home hot and sweaty, and the counter would be full of warm treats.  Cinnamon rolls, cookies, breads, lasagnas, enchiladas, you name it.  That Christmas, I received a gift with a promise.  When I opened up the heavy box it was a pasta roller attachment and it came with the promise that when we were settled in our own house, he’d get me a KitchenAid.  “The big one?” I asked.

Fast-forward three years, and two more attachments under my belt, and we are finally settling down.  I mention the promise of the KitchenAid – we were closing on our house on December 1st after all.  HandyMan says –I was planning on giving it to you for Christmas.  Hmmmm.  That’s like hiring the housekeeper after you’ve finished spring cleaning.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much baking happens between December 1st and January 1st in my house.  After some negotiation, the MamaMixer was ordered and it was one of the first things moved into the new house.  It helped the lobbying process that Amazon had it on sale the day after Thanksgiving for the same price as the regular stand mixer!

The first night in the new house, I did laundry and baked cookies.  My MamaMixer gets regular workouts all seasons of the year:  breads, cookies, cakes, and with attachments, applesauce, tomato sauce, and pastas.  This mixer is a huge help with batch cooking as I can make 3-6 loaves of quick bread at a time and freeze the extra.  It is a powerhouse on cookie dough and I can usually triple a batch.  It has been a wonderful investment for the time I've saved and it has never hiccuped, no matter how big of a batch I give it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Confessions of a Clutterbug

NOTE: This entry is rated PG for language.  Please do not read if easily offended :-)

Before my daughter was born, I had my cleaning all organized out and had grand plans to keep to my 4-week cycle to keep my home clean and in order after the baby arrived.  HA!  Yeah, I know you other moms out there are laughing.

Then, GBaby arrived.  I was trying to figure out life with a newborn.  The first two weeks were ok because HandyMan was off work and home and taking care of stuff for me- he was so great.  Then he went back to work.  I was home, alone, with a baby:  in February in the Northeast (not the most motivating of months).  My philosophy on housekeeping quickly changed to I’d rather do a half-a$$ed job of cleaning than have my house look like a$$.  There you have it.  I have no idea how to clean up this philosophy without loosing the poetics of it.

So I took to the “quick clean”.  Grab cleaner & rag and hit all the surfaces in the bathroom.  Done. Bathroom’s clean.  Throw all the dishes in the dishwasher, rake everything off the counters into a stack in my office (my catchall hiding spot). Done. Kitchen’s clean.  Pull the comforter over the sheets; throw all clothes lying around into the laundry bins.  Done. Bedroom’s clean.  You get the idea.

After a little while I had to focus on one area every so often and really clean it. I’d pull out the broom, mop, vacuum, cleaners and rags and evict all the dust bunnies and dog hair.  So far it’s working.  I try to clear the kitchen counters, sink and dishwasher every night before I go to bed and get the toys up off the kitchen floor but often exhaustion wins.

If you drop in, you’ll find my home comfortably lived in and most of the dustbunnies and cobwebs banished.  If you give me notice I may actually “clean” before you come!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yogurt 1.1 & HV Peach Smoothie

We guzzled through the first batch of yogurt, Yogurt 1.o, that I made and it was delicious!  A lot of it ended up in Strawberry Banana Smoothies which were wonderful!  Yogurt 1.0 yielded two large jars and one small jar.  I had stashed the small jar in the back of the fridge so that it would be there when I was ready to make the next batch of yogurt - Yogurt 1.1.  So this morning in my whirlwind of multitasking I went to the fridge for my stashed starter only to find that HandyMan had busted into it for his breakfast!  Fortunately, there was enough left to do a quart batch.  I made it with whole milk again because I was testing to see if the cultures in Yogurt 1.o would in fact produce another batch of equally thick, yummy yogurt.  So I mixed up Yogurt 1.1, let it spend the day in it's happy warm place and it is a complete success!

In working our way through Yogurt 1.1 and the freezing of pureed yellow squash for my Hidden Veggies recipes, I decided to get creative with my smoothies.  I added a 1/4 cup cube of frozen yellow squash puree for added nutrition and you can't taste it at all.  HandyMan is on to me and will commonly ask "What'd you sneak in this?", to which I will promptly reply "You tell me."    So mix this up and see if your family can tell that you're sneaking them some veggies!

Hidden Veggie Smoothieshvsmoothie


1 Banana

1 Peach or 1 cup Strawberries

1/2 cup Plain Yogurt

1/4 cup Pureed Yellow Squash


Using a blender or a cup and an immersion blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.  Makes 2 servings.

peach squash smoothie1 peach squash smoothie2

Click Here for a printable version of this recipe.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday's Sunshine

sundaysunshinesmAs a practice of contentment, I believe that it is important to stop and appreciate what we have been gifted with in this life.  The sun is always there, even when hidden by clouds. Sometimes we have to push away the clouds in our world to find the bright spots.  This week’s bright spots are bolded.

This week was particularly bright, not just with accomplishments and family time, but also with the weather.  We’ve had sunshine, light breezes and warm temperatures all week. I think this may be the first week this summer that’s been this nice.  To match the sunshine and beautiful weather I seemed to be full of energy and motivation which came down to lots of fresh produce finding its new home in the freezer.  I also spent lots of time outside hanging laundry to dry.

GBaby has been great this week with taking naps, but Friday morning was the best as she settled in for a lap nap since some installations at our home were a bit disruptive of the sanctuary of her crib.  We hadn’t really done this much in the last few months but the cuddly time was great!

As I sit on the back porch, I am filled with the joy of the fulleness of my life.  Join me in the practice of finding bright spots in your week and share them as a comment below.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

HV Spiced Applesauce Bread/Muffins

Updated 9/16/2010 -Hi!  If your visiting from LifeAsMom's Ultimate Recipe Swap - Welcome!  I posted this last year about this time and it's time to add this one to the menu again. Enjoy :)

Once I drag myself out of bed, I usually hit the ground running.  The chore list, dirty diapers, and well being of GBaby usually take priority over a lingering breakfast.  For me breakfast needs to be something that I can grab quickly and will fill me up for a while.  I enjoy hearty breads recipes that can be made as loaves or muffins and easily enjoyed fresh or frozen.   This recipe can be made as muffins or as a loaf and is great warmed or toasted.  For an extra energy kick, it's also very good with cream cheese.  Enjoy!

HV Spiced Applesauce Bread/Muffins


1 1/2 cups Applesauce

1/2 cup Squash or Zucchini Puree

1/2 cup White Sugar

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

2 Eggs

2 cups Flour (may substitute up to 3/4 cup Whole Wheat flour)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice

Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup melted Margarine or Butter

1 cup Oats

1/2 cup Flour


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2.  Beat Eggs, Vegetable Oil and Sugars.  Add Applesauce and Squash Puree and mix thoroughly.


3.  In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients and add to the mixture of liquids and mix thoroughly.  (Or if you are comfortable with cheating, dump in flour(s), then spices then baking soda and baking powder and then mix until thoroughly combined.)

applebread2 applebread3

4.  Spoon batter into a greased loaf pan or muffin tins (1 loaf or 18 muffins).

5.   Mix up the crumb topping and spoon on top of loaf or muffins.


6.  Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, and loaf 45-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


For a printable version of this recipe, please click here.

Nutrition Facts from

Friday, August 7, 2009

Freezer Friday: HV Yellow Squash & Green Beans

freezerfridaysmThis week has been a much more productive week in terms of getting produce into the freezer.  The 4 quarts of blueberries made it to the freezer as well as 7 quarts of green beans and lots of yellow squash and zucchini cubes.  The mountain of squash that had taken residence on my kitchen counter earlier this week has been conquered, pureed and sent to the freezer!

squash puree 4I cooked and pureed the yellow squash for the use of hiding it in baked goods this winter.  Since my garden is yielding quite the zucchini crop and the yellow squash were 3/$1 at the local produce market, I got to work.  I found that 1 cup of chopped squash yielded about 1/2 cup of puree.  This is an adult serving of summer squash according to  The process is the same as the process for making baby food, only frozen in different portion sizes.  I froze the pureed squash and zucchini in 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup portions so that they can easily be thawed and added to my recipes later.

freezebeans7I also froze green beans this week. Mine were purchased due to a munching critter in my garden this year.  As HandyMan's taken to saying: "There's always next year".  I used the directions from with a couple variations.  I have a pasta kettle with a colander insert.  This works great iffreezebeans3 you are needing to do more than one batch so that you don't have to wait for a fresh set of water to boil.  The other difference is that I just used cold tap water to cool mine and it worked just fine.

What did you get to your freezer this week?

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grilled Zucchini Packets

Grilled vegetables are such an easy side dish in the summer and there are so many different ways to prepare them.  Below are directions for Grilled Zucchini Packets.

Grilled Zucchini Packets


2 Medium Zucchinis, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

¼ cup Italian Dressing

¼ cup Parmesan Cheese


1.  Spread out one piece of aluminum foil.  Turn edges up about ½ inch.

2.  Toss zucchini, onion, dressing and cheese in a bowl, then place on the foil.


3.  Place a second piece of foil on top of the veggies, fold edges of bottom foil with top foil twice to seal it up.  Place a 2 inch slit in the middle of the top piece of foil to allow some of the steam to escape while grilling.

zuchgrilled34.  Place packet over low to medium heat or coals for 12-15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked to tender.

zuchgrilled45.  Remove packet from the grill, carefully open and transfer contents to a serving dish and enjoy!


Click here for a printer friendly version of this recipe.

Click here for more ideas on how to use abundant zucchini crops!