Monthly Archives: June 2013

How-to-Make Tender Chuck Roast with Brown Gravy (Slow cooker)

P1040434Wondering how to make the perfect chuck roast? Tender, fall-apart meat- juicy and flavorful?

What if I told you that the key is to make it in your slow-cooker, with only about 10 minutes of prep and only a few ingredients? Yep. It is that easy!

Some roasts taste best when roasted slowly in the oven- like the eye-of-round or bottom-of-the-round. But, when it comes to a chuck roast or shoulder roast- I think P1040439the best results come from using the slow-cooker. That moist heat, low temp, and slow cooking give you a winner every time.

After the roast cooks, all you have to do is make the delicious brown gravy- also easier than you might think.

So, here’s how. You will be ‘wow-ing’ the family in no time!
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Chickens- Some Breeds we Enjoy

P1040189We love raising chickens. It’s something we have done almost the whole time we’ve been married- so, about 10 years. Tim has raised chickens most of his life.

We also love that our kids won’t remember a time that chickens weren’t part of the backyard. As I’ve said before, I was afraid to touch or pick up a chicken for a long time. But my kids won’t have that problem. Chickens have just been a part of their lives.

And, of course, we really love the fresh eggs. I never knew how pale the yolks of store-bought eggs were, until I ate our fresh eggs for a while, and then used a store-bought egg. The difference was startling! I love that if we are out of eggs in the kitchen, I can run out to the chicken house and grab the eggs I need to finish the recipe.

Over time, we have come to really enjoy a few specific breeds. So, i thought I’d just share those that are in our flock right now and why we like them.

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Blueberry Parfaits with Homemade Vanilla Pudding

P1040404Sunday afternoon is family time with my side of the family. Ever since I can remember, my family has always held to the tradition of a big Sunday Dinner (lunch) as a family. I’m so thankful my mom continues to put the time into these big meals. I know they are a lot of work! My ‘part’ in the Sunday meal each week is dessert. So, this past Sunday, I wanted to do something with blueberries we picked last week.

I chose these blueberry parfaits. Such a simple dessert as far as the concept goes- just layers of vanilla pudding, blueberries, and whipped cream. Oh, but it was just what I was looking for- Light, comforting, simple, fresh and eye-catching, too! The blueberries bring the perfect burst along with the creaminess from the pudding and cream.

The homemade vanilla pudding is what makes the dessert extra special. (Packaged instant -puddings are one of the products I no longer buy- I’d rather not serve the chemicals and preservatives with my pudding, if you don’t mind! See the ingredient list here) Homemade pudding is not hard to make. It just takes a little extra time and effort at the stove-top. But you will be pleasantly surprised at the light, yet rich flavor of real pudding.

Finish the parfaits by layering the pudding, blueberries and fresh whipped cream.


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Pickin’ Blueberries


Blueberry Season!

Today we took a little trip to a local orchard that has blueberries that have just ripened- and many more on the way. It was so fun.

What a great way to welcome the first day of summer. 

Now my mind is filling with all sorts of delicious goodies I want to make with the berries- not to mention the ones that will be eaten on top of yogurt or cereal, or all alone!



P1040369I think blueberries are so pretty- so dainty, pure, and blue!


I’m not sure many of the berries this “helper” picked made it to the bucket!

Anyone read Blueberries for Sal? 🙂 If not, you should. It’s a cute little story about going blueberry picking. My little guy here and the child in that story both had a hard time resisting those sun-warmed berries!

Such sweet times with my kids. These simple days make the best memories.

Happy Summer!

Fresh Homemade Pizza Sauce (short-hand notes)

P1040298Looking for an alternative to bottled or canned pizza sauce? Want a pizza sauce that is fresh but doesn’t take forever to make? Well, I did too.

Here is how I’ve been making it recently- in short-hand style- meaning, I did not use specific measurements- it will require you tasting as you go. But, you can also play with it to make it more customized to your own tastes. This will serve as a good springboard for you to make your own perfect pizza sauce- totally fresh!

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Banana-Oatmeal and Honey Muffins

P1040335If you haven’t already noticed, I make muffins often for breakfast around here. Pumpkin, Bran, Oatmeal, Blueberry– there’s so many options! In fact, I’ve also already shared another banana muffin recipe with you- a plain and simple version that is my usual go-to banana muffin. However, this time when the bananas ripened quicker than we could eat them, I wanted to do something a little more healthy. Muffins are good for that. You can include healthier ingredients and make subtle P1040339changes that are hardly noticeable. 

So, these banana muffins are made with oatmeal for fiber, all white wheat flour in place of white, half yogurt in place of all butter, and sweetened with honey instead of sugar. They were moist and sweet and tasted delicious. (Oh- and I did add chocolate chips- not a ton, but my children think the entire purpose of muffins is to be able to have chocolate at breakfast! So, I don’t mind adding just enough to satisfy so that they will also eat the other healthier parts of the muffin!) 

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Herbs and Spice Chicken Tenders (quick and easy)


A few spices that you probably already have in your cabinets and fresh herbs are the stars on these chicken tenders. They’re fast and easy, but still bring plenty of flavor to the table. On those nights when dinner just needs to come together quickly, this is a great solution!

My whole family really enjoyed the chicken tenders prepared this way. I think there was a total of one-half left over 🙂


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Corn, Peppers, and Onions

P1040156Nothing complicated or complex here. Just a simple and tasty side dish!

Colorful and savory, it’s  one of my favorite ways to prepare corn to go along with dinner.

It takes just a few minutes and uses whole ingredients. (perhaps you have some of these growing in your garden this  year!)

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Cinnamon Biscuits (melt-in-your-mouth)

P1040278I’m excited to share this recipe with you today because these Cinnamon Biscuits were SO good..and yes, melt-in-your mouth good!

I’ve made cinnamon biscuits many times before- but each time I’ve improved my outcome little by little. Last night I  made these along with dinner and WOW! They turned out perfect, and I now have a new love. 🙂 So, ditch the canned biscuits. (move over, Grands!-You’ve been replaced!)P1040275

I like this recipe because:

  1. Moist and tender…not dry or crumbly.
  2. Filling is made with only honey and cinnamon- not extra sugar and butter
  3. Added nutritious ingredients- when I’m making something a little more on the indulgent side of things- like these- I like to see if I can bump up the nutrition a bit. So, in these, I used half wheat flour and added milled flax seed and some wheat germ. Even your picky eaters will never know there is anything remotely healthy about these.
  4. The glaze. Oh yes- this glaze completes the cinnamon biscuit. Pour it on when the biscuits are hot from the oven and it melts down all around them, and creates the perfect finish. It’s made with a little bit of cream cheese.
  5. Quick to make. Cinnamon “Rolls” are very yummy, too- but they use yeast, which will require time to let the dough rise. These biscuits are much faster!
  6. And lastly- they are finger-licking DELICIOUS!

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So Simple Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

P1040166Sometimes good dishes are bumped up to really good by something as simple as a nice sauce to compliment it. I have become a big lover of honey-mustard in recent years. Growing up, ketchup was all I ever used- and I used it a lot! But, over time honey mustard has risen to the top of the list in many cases. I like that honey mustard only uses a few simple ingredients that I already have in the kitchen. Served with something like Chicken tenders or Pork chops– and you have a tasty duo!

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