Click here to edit subtitle

Homemade Vitamin Water

1) The classical : lemon/cucumber:
Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + 1 cucumber and a lemon, thinly sliced + 1/4 cup fresh finely chopped basil leaf + 1/3 of finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

2) The granite : Strawberry/Lime
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 6 strawberries and one thinly sliced lime + 12 finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

3) The digestive : Fennel/citrus
First: infuse 1 to 3 grams of dried and crushed fennel in 150 ml of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + lemon juice (put the leftover lemon in the mix) + a small thinly sliced orange + 12 fresh chopped mint leaves + the infusion of fennel seeds. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

4) The antiOX : Blackberry/Sage
Note that a part from the berries, sage leafs is the herb that has the highest antioxidant content.
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of blackberries that have been very slightly crushed + 3-4 sage leaves. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

5) WATERmelon : watermelon/Rosemary
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of watermelon cut into cubes + 2 rosemary stems. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

6) The exotic : Pineapple/Mint
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of pineapple cut into cubes + 12 fresh mint leaves finely chopped. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

7) The traditional : Appel/cinnamon
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of apple cut into cubes + 2 cinnamon sticks + 2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

8.) The zingibir : Ginger/tea
In advance: heat 1 teaspoon of ginger in two cups of tea, let it cool down.

Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water with two cups of the ginger tea + 4-5 pieces of fresh ginger cut into cubes. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Jalapeño Popper Dip ~ everyone will ask for your recipe!

6-8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked crispy
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, soft
1 cup of mayonnaise
4-6 jalapeno's, chopped and deseeded. The seeds will make it fiery hot.
1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup diced green onion


1 cup of crushed crackers ( I used Ritz)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl. Stir well.

Transfer to an oven proof dish. The size of the dish depends on how thick the dip is. The thicker the dip the longer it may need to warm up. I used this stoneware dish that is round and measures 12 inches across. My dip is usually about an inch thick.

Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle all over the top of the dip.

Bake the dip for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.
Gabby's Goodies Via .dotcomsformoms.

Crockpot Freezer Cooking 101

For more Crockpot Freezer Tips, follow Six Cents on Facebook!

You can also purchase my e-book here for just $8.00.

I thought I would give a run-down of exactly what I do when I prepare my Crockpot Freezer Meals.  I really enjoy doing this because it saves me time and money, two things of which I always seem to be in need!  There's nothing like having 10 meals done in 3 hours!

A couple things to note here:
  • I make double of each recipe so that I have 10 total meals that serve a family of 4 normally.  So 1 bag equals 1 meal for 2 adults and 2 children normally.
  • I always taste the meal once it is cooked fully in the crockpot and add more seasonings as needed.  Seasoning is a personal preference.
  • I defrost the bag slightly and then put the frozen chunk into the crockpot and set it for 8 hours on low while I am working.  My crockpot automatically goes to warm after that.  I've never had any issues with food drying out.
  • I also recommend getting Mama and Baby Love's e-cookbook. It has 20 great recipes and includes printable labels for your bags! Love her stuff!! Click here to get it.

1.  I choose my recipes.  Here is what I'm using this week:

Week of May 11th, 2012 Freezer Plan

Hawaiian ChickenSandwiches

6-8 Chicken Breasts (1 for each family member, doubled)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 small cans of pineapple rings
2 red bell peppers sliced into thin strips
1large onion sliced into strips
Provolone cheese
Whole wheat buns or lettuce wraps

Directions: Divide all contents evenly into two bags except cheese and buns/lettuce. Cook onlow for 8 hours. Serve chicken toppedwith pepper and onions under melted provolone cheese on a bun or lettuce warp.

Savory Pepper Steak

3 pounds of roundsteak but into ½ inch thick strips.
½ cup flour
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp pepper
1 large onion chopped
a few garlic cloves—Ilike to put 4-5 crushed into each bag
1 green pepperssliced
1 red peper sliced
2 16oz cans of tomatoes—I prefer Italian style
2 tbsp beef bouillon
4 tsp ofWorcestershire sauce
2 tbsp of steakseasoning
2 tbsp of steak sauce

Directions: Toss steak strips in mixture of flour, saltand pepper. Mix together beef boullion,Worcestershire sauce, and steak sauce and divide evenly into two bags. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve with rice and a side salad.

Scalloped Potatoes andHam

12 new potatoes and cut into ¼ inch round slices or a large bag of frozen potatoes
2 cans of cream ofyour choice—I used potato
2 cans of water
2 ham steaks, cubed--we used turkey ham
8 oz cheddar cheese
4 cups of broccoli
salt and pepper

Directions: Divide everything evenly into two containers. Cook on low for 8 hours.
*EDIT* People have mentioed the potatoes turing black if frozen.  Mine didn't do that, but just to be safe, either use frozen potatoes or add potatoes the day of cooking.

Salsa Chicken

6-8 chicken breasts
2 15 oz. cans of black beans
1 family size frozenbag of corn
2 cans of dicedtomatoes and green chilies
1 jar of salsa
1 packet of tacoseasoning
2 cups of cheddarcheese

Directions: Divide everything except cheese evenly intotwo bags. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice or on corn tortillas withrice as a side.

Chicken Curry

6-8chicken breasts
2cans of cream of chicken soup
1cup of dry cooking sherry
½cup of butter
8green onions chopped
4tsp of curry powder
saltand pepper

Directions: Divide everything except butter into two bags evenly.  Add butter to crockpot when ready to cook. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice with a side salad.

2. I prep my grocery list split into categories and go shopping:

Grocery List

3 red bell peppers
1 green bell pepper
2 large onions
Lettuce wraps*
12 new potatoes
Bunch of green onions
18-24 chicken breasts
3 lbs round steak
2 ham steaks
1 family sized bag of corn
2 small cans of pineapple rings
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 jar of salsa
2 cans of cream of your choice
2 cans of cream of chicken
2 15oz cans of blackbeans
Provolone Cheese
4 cups cheddar cheese
Whole wheat buns*
Beef bouillon
Worcestershire sauce
Steak Sauce
Steak Seasoning
Taco Seasoning
Cooking Sherry
Curry powder
Salad Supplies

*Buy only lettuce wraps or buns, based on your sandwich preferences.

3. I label my freezer bags with date, name, and directions.
4. I cut my veggies and place into bags.  Any meats that need to be browned I prep at this time as well.  Sometimes I do this step on a separate day, depending on how much time I have.  Make sure to wash your veggies!

5. I add seasoning and canned ingredients.
6. I trim and tenderize my meats and add to bags.  A tip here is to always cut meats against the grain!  Makes for a much more tender cut.  Also, make sure you don't leave all your meats out for an extended period of time.  I prep one meat at a time, then stick it in the freezer as soon as I'm done with that one.  Make sure to wash your cutting board and knives between meats to avoid cross-contamination!
7.  Store in freezer and clean up!

42 Flowers You Can Eat & What They Taste Like

The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years to the Chinese, Greek and Romans. Many cultures use flowers in their traditional cooking — think of squash blossoms in Italian food and rose petals in Indian food. Adding flowers to your food can be a nice way to add color, flavor and a little whimsy. Some are spicy, and some herbacious, while others are floral and fragrant. The range is surprising.

It’s not uncommon to see flower petals used in salads, teas, and as garnish for desserts, but they inspire
creative uses as well — roll spicy ones (like chive blossoms) into handmade pasta dough, incorporate floral ones into homemade ice cream, pickle flower buds (like nasturtium) to make ersatz capers, use them to make a floral simple syrup for use in lemonade or cocktails. I once stuffed gladiolus following a recipe for stuffed squash blossoms — they were great. So many possibilities…
Eating Flowers SafelySo. As lovely as eating flowers can be, it can also be a little … deadly! Not to scare you off or anything. Follow these tips for eating flowers safely:
  • Eat flowers you know to be consumable — if you are uncertain, consult a reference book on edible flowers and plants.
  • Eat flowers you have grown yourself, or know to be safe for consumption. Flowers from the florist or nursery have probably been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Do not eat roadside flowers or those picked in public parks. Both may have been treated with pesticide or herbicide, and roadside flowers may be polluted by car exhaust.
  • Eat only the petals, and remove pistils and stamens before eating.
  • If you suffer from allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may exacerbate allergies.
  • To keep flowers fresh, place them on moist paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. Some will last up to 10 days this way. Ice water can revitalize limp flowers.
Allium to Carnations1. Allium
All blossoms from the allium family (leeks, chives, garlic, garlic chives) are edible and flavorful! Flavors run the gamut from delicate leek to robust garlic. Every part of these plants is edible.
2. Angelica
Depending on the variety, flowers range from pale lavender-blue to deep rose and have a licorice-like flavor.

3. Anise hyssop

Both flowers and leaves have a subtle anise or licorice flavor.

4. Arugula

Blossoms are small with dark centers and with a peppery flavor much like the leaves. They range in color from white to yellow with dark purple streaks.

5. Bachelor’s button

Grassy in flavor, the petals are edible. Avoid the bitter calyx.

6. Basil

Blossoms come in a variety of colors, from white to pink to lavender; flavor is similar to the leaves, but milder.

7. Bee balm

The red flowers have a minty flavor.

8. Borage

Blossoms are a lovely blue hue and taste like cucumber!

9. Calendula / marigold

A great flower for eating, calendula blossoms are peppery, tangy, and spicy — and their vibrant golden color adds dash to any dish.

10. Carnations / dianthus

Petals are sweet, once trimmed away from the base. The blossoms taste like their sweet, perfumed aroma.

11. Chamomile
Small and daisylike, the flowers have a sweet flavor and are often used in tea. Ragweed sufferers may be allergic to chamomile.

12. Chervil

Delicate blossoms and flavor, which is anise-tinged.

13. Chicory

Mildly bitter earthiness of chicory is evident in the petals and buds, which can be pickled.

14. Chrysanthemum

A little bitter, mums come in a rainbow of colors and a range of flavors range from peppery to pungent. Use only the petals.

15. Cilantro

Like the leaves, people either love the blossoms or hate them. The flowers share the grassy flavor of the herb. Use them fresh as they lose their charm when heated.

16. Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat)

Citrus blossoms are sweet and highly scented. Use frugally or they will over-perfume a dish.

17. Clover

Flowers are sweet with a hint of licorice.

18. Dandelion

Read a whole post about dandelions here: Eating and Harvesting Dandelions. (I am nuts about dandelions.)

19. Dill

Yellow dill flowers taste much like the herb’s leaves.

20. English daisy

These aren’t the best-tasting petals — they are somewhat bitter — but they look great!

21. Fennel

Yellow fennel flowers are eye candy with a subtle licorice flavor, much like the herb itself.

22. Fuchsia

Tangy fuchsia flowers make a beautiful garnish.

23. Gladiolus

Who knew? Although gladioli are bland, they can be stuffed, or their petals removed for an interesting salad garnish.

24. Hibiscus

Famously used in hibiscus tea, the vibrant cranberry flavor is tart and can be used sparingly.

25. Hollyhock

Bland and vegetal in flavor, hollyhock blossoms make a showy, edible garnish.

26. Impatiens

Flowers don’t have much flavor — best as a pretty garnish or for candying.

27. Jasmine

These super-fragrant blooms are used in tea; you can also use them in sweet dishes, but sparingly.

28. Johnny Jump-Up

Adorable and delicious, the flowers have a subtle mint flavor great for salads, pastas, fruit dishes and drinks.

29. Lavender

Sweet, spicy, and perfumed, the flowers are a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes.

30. Lemon berbena

The diminutive off-white blossoms are redolent of lemon — and great for teas and desserts.

31. Lilac

The blooms are pungent, but the floral citrusy aroma translates to its flavor as well.

32. Mint

The flowers are — surprise! — minty. Their intensity varies among varieties.

33. Nasturtium

One of the most popular edible flowers, nasturtium blossoms are brilliantly colored with a sweet, floral flavor bursting with a spicy pepper finish. When the flowers go to seed, the seed pod is a marvel of sweet and spicy. You can stuff flowers, add leaves to salads, pickle buds like capers, and garnish to your heart’s content.

34. Oregano

The flowers are a pretty, subtle version of the leaf.

35. Pansy

The petals are somewhat nondescript, but if you eat the whole flower you get more taste.

36. Radish

Varying in color, radish flowers have a distinctive, peppery bite.

37. Rose

Remove the white, bitter base and the remaining petals have a strongly perfumed flavor perfect for floating in drinks or scattering across desserts, and for a variety of jams. All roses are edible, with flavor more pronounced in darker varieties.

38. Rosemary

Flowers taste like a milder version of the herb; nice used as a garnish on dishes that incorporate rosemary.

39. Sage

Blossoms have a subtle flavor similar to the leaves.

40. Squash and pumpkin

Blossoms from both are wonderful vehicles for stuffing, each having a slight squash flavor. Remove stamens before using.

41. Sunflower

Petals can be eaten, and the bud can be steamed like an artichoke.

42. Violets

Another famous edible flower, violets are floral, sweet and beautiful as garnishes. Use the flowers in salads and to garnish desserts and drinks.

Feast Your Eyes on…Flavored Water!

I’ve always liked drinking my water with a slice or two of lemon–that extra little touch of flavor just makes water more appealing to me. There are a lot of other ways you can flavor water naturally. You can get really creative with it! Here are some ideas…

  • Add a slice of your favorite citrus to a tall glass of ice water…try lemon, lime, or orange slices. Or combine them…slices of lemon and lime…orange and lime…or try all three together!
  • Fresh mint is always a great addition to a glass of ice water.
  • Combine lemon slices with fresh herbs in your water…try lemon with mint, rosemary, thyme, or sliced ginger root.
  • Cucumbers are great in water, too! Slice up a large cucumber and add it to a pitcher of water…it’s really refreshing. You can also try cucumber with some fresh thyme added in. Or cucumber slices with lemon or orange slices.
  • If you want a more intense flavor to your glass of water, squeeze the citrus and/or twist the herbs you are using before you add them to your glass.
  • Besides lemons, oranges, and limes, you can try adding other kinds of fruit to your glass or pitcher of water…a small handful of your favorite berries (or mixed berries) is a nice addition to a glass of ice water. Other fruits you can try alone or in combination are: watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, grapes, and kiwi.
  • Jenny from An Oregon Cottage mentioned in a comment on this post that she likes to use orange and mint or strawberry and cucumber combinations to flavor her water–great ideas!

NOTE: I usually drink my flavored water the same day I make it…I think it tastes best that way. Depending on what you add to your water, it may get cloudy or bitter-tasting if stored in the refrigerator too long.

If you’re wanting to make a pitcher of flavored water, you basically just slice or chop up some fresh fruit, cucumbers, or herbs and place in a pitcher, add cold water and chill several hours. The result is water infused with a light, natural flavor. It’s ready to serve over ice, garnished with a slice of fruit or clipping of an herb of your choice. Here are some other recipes for flavored water you may want to try:


  • 1 large lemon, sliced
  • 1 large lime, sliced
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Place all the sliced fruits and the cucumber in a glass pitcher and add water. Refrigerate for two hours to allow flavors to infuse, then serve in glasses over ice.


  • 5 cups water
  • 10 thin slices of cucumber
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 2 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary

Put water in pitcher and add lemon slices and cucumber slices. Crush mint and rosemary to release flavor, then add to other ingredients. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve over ice in tall glasses. Garnish with a lemon wedge.


  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 honeydew melon, cubed
  • 1/4 cantaloupe, cubed
  • 1 half-gallon water

Place cucumber and melons in a glass pitcher and add water. Refrigerate for 2 hours, then serve over ice. Garnish with melon balls skewered on a swizzle stick.


  • 2–3 slices of ripe honeydew melon
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 4 sprigs of mint
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Add melon slices, lime slices and mint sprigs to a large pitcher; fill with the half-gallon of water and refrigerate 2–4 hours. Serve in ice-filled glasses. Makes about 8 servings.


  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, lightly crushed
  • 2  4–inch sprigs of fresh rosemary. lightly bruised  (to release more flavor)
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Add blueberries and rosemary sprigs to a large pitcher; fill with the half-gallon of water and refrigerate 2–4 hours. Serve in ice-filled glasses. Makes about 8 servings.


  • 3 large lemons, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lavender
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Add lemon slices and lavender to pitcher; pour water over both and refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve over ice and garnish with a sprig of lavender.


  • 4 lemons, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh mint or basil leaves
  • 6–8 cups water
  • 6–8 cups ice cubes
  • Fresh mint or basil sprigs

Place lemon slices in a large pitcher. Rub the mint or basil leaves between the palms of your hands to bruise the leaves slightly. Add to the pitcher with lemon and pour in the water. Cover and chill 1–8 hours.

Strain lemon–water mixture and discard herbs. Divide lemon slices and additional fresh mint or basil sprigs equally among 6–8 glasses. In each glass, add 1 cup of ice cubes, then fill with lemon water.


  • 1 large lemon, sliced
  • 1 large lime, sliced
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves (optional)
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Add citrus slices (and cilantro leaves, if desired) to a large pitcher; fill with the half-gallon of water and refrigerate 2 hours. Serve in ice-filled glasses. Garnish with your favorite citrus slice (and a sprig of cilantro, if you’re using that). Makes about 8 servings.


  • 2 cups frozen apple chunks, grapes, or berries
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Add frozen fruit to a pitcher; pour water over fruit and let sit at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Stir to distribute fruit flavor and serve in glasses with some ice cubes. (Note: you can chop up the same kind of fruit, unfrozen, and follow same directions. You’ll need  to use more ice when serving the unfrozen fruit–flavored water).


  • 3 large oranges, sliced
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Put sliced oranges and mint leaves in pitcher and add water; refrigerate for 2 hours to infuse flavors. Pour over ice and garnish with a sprig of mint and orange slice.


  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Pour water over melon and basil; refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve over ice, garnished with a sprig of basil.


  • 1 each of the following fruits: apple, lemon, orange, pear
  • 4 large strawberries
  • Handful of raspberries
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • 1 half-gallon of water

Cut large slices or thin wedges of each fruit; place them in a large glass pitcher and add cold water. Refrigerate 2 hours and serve over ice in tall glasses.

Various tips and recipes from Southern Living, eHow, Vegetable Gardener,, Eating Well.

Linked to Foodie Friday and Sundae Scoop.

Campfire Cones
Over Spring Break a few weeks ago, I took the kids camping.   I'll be honest, we weren't totally roughing it ~ our cabin had heat and electricity (and even a little fridge and microwave).  Despite those "luxuries",  I knew I wanted to do most of our cooking over the campfire.  We cooked hot dogs and chicken and roasted TONS of marshmallows (seriously, like 2 whole bags between the four of us!).  However, for a more "gourmet" dessert, I decided to combine the ingredients of our Campfire Bananas with Quirky Momma's great idea to make Smores in a Cone!  Let me tell you, they were AWESOME!

Just take a look...

Here's what we used:

   *  Sugar Cones
   *  Peanut Butter
   *  Mini Marshmallows
   *  Chocolate Chips
   *  Bananas
   *  Aluminum Foil
            (to wrap them in)

Here's what to do:

1.  Chop up the bananas and get some marshmallows and chocolate chips ready.  ( I liked using these ingredients on a camping trip because they don't need to be refrigerated and you can easily slice the bananas with a plastic knife ~ oh, and the fact that they're really, really yummy together!)

2.  Spread some peanut butter on the inside of the cone, then put in the bananas, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

3.  Wrap the whole cone in aluminum foil, then put in over the hot coals for 5-10 minutes or so, turning every so often.

4.  Unwrap your cone, check to see that everything's ooey, gooey, and melted... then dig in and enjoy!

The combination of the melted peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallows with the warm bananas was just awesome.  Making it in the sugar cone gave it all a nice crunch and made it a little less messy than a regular s'more.  (At least for some of us)

how to make your own
candy buttons

2 tablespoons meringue powder OR 2 egg whites
6 tablespoons water (if needed)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract or lemon juice
1 box (1 pound) confectioners' sugar
ziploc sandwich baggies
food coloring
artificial flavoring (optional)

1) Cut non-toxic computer paper into 2 3/4" x 10” strips.

2) Whip together confectioners sugar, meringue powder OR egg whites and lemon juice on low speed using a stand mixer for 1 minute.  (you may need to add water)  continue to whip for 10 minutes on high speed.

3) Divide “icing” into small bowls. Color each bowl different colors. If desired, add different flavorings to each.

4) If icing is too thick, thin out with drops of water, until it is the consistency of sour cream. A drop should hold its shape and slowly smooth out to create smooth button.

5) Pour each color into a sandwich bag and seal. (Placing the open baggie in a small cup and then pouring the icing in, is a great trick to keep things nice and clean). Then cut a VERY small corner off of each bag.

6) Squeeze a drop of icing at a time onto the paper. You can place the strip of paper on top of the template, you
will then see where to place each drop evenly.

7) Place on baking sheets in a cool dry place uncovered to dry overnight.

8) Candy will harden overnight. Store in a zipper bag or
airtight container.

here is a printable template to help you make your buttons line-up straight. the directions are also included.

Recipe Review: Berry Cobbler
Last Friday, we invited some friends over for a spur of the moment game night. I knew that this was the perfect time to try making this Berry Cobbler. Not only is it easy, but I could also get some really honest feedback about the recipe. I am glad that my friends do not mind being guinea pigs for the sake of my blog!

I put this cobbler together in no time. It made my entire house smell wonderful. We ate dinner and finally dished up the cobbler with ice cream and it was a hit! Everyone enjoyed eating it! It is safe to say that this recipe is a keeper.

. . . . . . . . . .
Berry Cobbler

Two 12-oz bags frozen mixed berries
1 box white cake mix (no pudding)
1 can of diet 7-up or sierra mist (clear soda)

Place frozen fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Add dry cake mix over the top. Pour soda slowly over cake mix. DO NOT stir the cake mix and the pop - this will give you a 'crust'. If you stir the two, you will hsve a cake like topping.

Bake 350 for 45-50 min.

You may be able to use frozen peaches instead of mixed berries.


1 – 2 garlic cloves
add raw pine nuts or raw sunflowers seeds
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
some fresh parsley (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper or chili pepper/powder
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
6 tablespoons olive oil (1st press, cold press, extra virgin)
1/4 cumin
sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Put the cilantro and olive oil in blender and process until the cilantro is chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and process to a lumpy paste. (You may need to add a touch of hot water and scrape the sides of the blender.) It freezes well, so you can make several batches at once.

Can you imagine eating and detoxing? Yes by adding cilantro to your foods that’s exactly what happens!

Wild Spring Herb and Flower Salad

Serves 4

• 1/2 head romaine lettuce, washed, patted dry, and torn into bite-sized pieces
• 1/2 head red leaf lettuce, washed, patted dry, and torn into bite-sized pieces
• 1/4 cup sweet violet flowers (Viola spp., the common wild perennial)
• 1/3 cup unsprayed sweet violet leaves, stems removed
• 12 small young yarrow leaves
• 1/4 cup arugula flowers or 8 arugula leaves
• 1/4 cup organic dandelion leaves, picked before flowering
• 12 tips each of two mild herbs, such as dill and lemon balm
• 3 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

If you wonder what to do with the carrots pulp from your fresh juice every time… here is an idea :)
carrots butter

1 cup carrots pulp
3-4 tbsp carrots fresh juice
1-2 tbsp melted coconut oil

Mix everything until it’s creamy & smooth, if you have to – add some more fresh juice and melted coconut oil. The coconut oil is the important ingredient here, because it will let your butter looks like real butter. Keep the mixture in the fridge and enjoy at any time

We all know that we can easily grow organic herbs and many of these herbs produce beautiful flowers. Many of the herbal flowers are edible and some are medicinal. Some of our favorite ways to enjoy herbs are in teas and as a spice for our foods.
# Borage-adds a cucumber taste to salads, dips, and cold soups.
# Calendula-has a slightly bitter taste, also known as a poor mans saffron.
# Chamomile-sweet apple flavor and fragrance make a delicious tea, also well known as a medicinal herb.
# Chives -Adds mild onion flavor to dinner rolls, casseroles, eggs, potatoes, and herb butters.
# Lavender -floral taste combines well with rosemary and thyme in chicken and lamb marinades.
# Nasturtium -adds peppery taste to salads, herb vinegars, sandwiches, and even pizza.
# Antique Roses-adds flavor to jellies, honey, vinegars, and salads. Do you know medicinal rose hips have more vitamin C than an orange?
# Sweet violet, Johnny-jump-ups, Pansy-These three violas are old-fashioned culinary favorites.

We all know that we can easily grow organic herbs and many of these herbs produce beautiful flowers. Many of the herbal flowers are edible and some are medicinal. Some of our favorite ways to enjoy herbs are in teas and as a spice for our foods.
# Borage-adds a cucumber taste to salads, dips, and cold soups.
# Calendula-has a slightly bitter taste, also known as a poor mans saffron.
# Chamomile-sweet apple flavor and fragrance make a delicious tea, also well known as a medicinal herb.
# Chives -Adds mild onion flavor to dinner rolls, casseroles, eggs, potatoes, and herb butters.
# Lavender -floral taste combines well with rosemary and thyme in chicken and lamb marinades.
# Nasturtium -adds peppery taste to salads, herb vinegars, sandwiches, and even pizza.
# Antique Roses-adds flavor to jellies, honey, vinegars, and salads. Do you know medicinal rose hips have more vitamin C than an orange?
# Sweet violet, Johnny-jump-ups, Pansy-These three violas are old-fashioned culinary favorites.

Your healthy herbal salads will taste much fresher and better if you leave the bottled salad dressings at the store and make your own. They are simple, inexpensive and quickly made.

Healthy herbal salad dressing:
¼ cup oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider, red wine, etc)
Juice of 1 lemon or orange or apple juice
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon basil, oregano, chives, parsley or mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper, optional

Mix the healthy herbal salad dressing in a jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator until needed. Shake before using.

Come in from the cold to the warm, take a sip of hot cider and close your eyes.
2 quarts organic apple cider
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 oranges, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
Mix all ingredients and bring just to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, or leave on the lowest heat (or in a slow cooker) to keep warm. Serve with orange or lemon slices, or a cinnamon stick.

This is a very good use of all those annoying dandelions growing in your yard. Just so long as you don't have a dog! Lol
1/2 pound torn dandelion greens
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

A shockingly good coffee alternative
Equal Parts, chopped dry: White willow bark, Sarsaparilla root, Chicory root and 
Dandelion root, has a remarkable similarity to coffee thus making it the ideal alternative to coffee 

Simply bliss for a green start to your day.
"Basil aids digestion and eases stomach cramps, constipation, and nausea. Plus, adding herbs to your smoothies lends to an exotic twist with some extra healing powers."

2 apples
2 bananas
about 10 or so fresh basil leaves
2 cups water (or less if want a thick smoothie)
2 tbsp coconut oil (optional-we just love it)
Blend and enjoy the BLISS!

Snack idea! You can make these by dipping strawberries (halved or whole) in vanilla yogurt (Greek might be best, because it's thicker), then putting on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper and freezing. Voila: Yogurt-covered strawberries! You can also roll them in chopped nuts, coconut, or crushed cereal then freeze! We also love banana slices dipped in yogurt and frozen.

Mario Party: Mushroom Pops in Pipes

Up first are the Mushroom Pops in Pipes! (I dare you to say that 3x fast!)

Back in June, I saw this idea for Marshmallow Pops that look like mushrooms that was featured on Be Different, Act Normal. The originals were made as part of a smurf party. I loved the idea and decided to make it my own.
Original Project here at My Paper Pony

I wanted to serve them individually in terra cotta pots, but I lucked out and found these little ceramic pots in the Ikea 'As-Is' section for $.10 each! I probably looked nuts as I was squealing with delight and loading up 20 of these little pots in my cart.
I spray painted the outside only with Krylon Fusion in Spring Grass.

The original plan was to put parchment paper inside each pot and bake the cupcakes right inside. Unfortunately I ran out of parchment paper and time, so I baked regular cupcakes and stacked them inside instead.

The mushroom face is a large marshmallow that I drew on with these edible ink markers.
For the mushroom caps, I found some Brownie Bites at the grocery store which were the perfect size and shape.

I melted red candy melts in a deep mug in the microwave and dipped the brownie bites.
TIP: Add some shortening to candy melts to give them a thinner and smoother texture. My caps were looking like that gloppy until I thinned the candy with shortening.
Check out the fail down in the corner. I tried white chocolate chips but the brownies were too dense to push them in!

While the chocolate was drying I placed some yellow sprinkles on half of them to replicate the 'Life Shroom'. The other half I used white pearlized ball sprinkles to look like the regular old mushrooms.

I used some wood skewers to hold the marshmallow and brownie bite together as well as stabilize the two cupcakes in the pot.
They were a huge hit.

Okay, I am going to be honest, this is by far the most disgusting and yet fun thing I have done in a long time. We have done plenty of Jell-O Molds, Knox Blox and the like in our time, but Jell-O Worms? I wasn’t too sure, but I had two little boys in my house who wereabsolutely sure that this was THE thing to do for Wacky Wednesday.

So I embarked on a journey to create worms! Now you can too!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 boxes (1.4 oz) Jell-O or Flavored Gelatin (raspberry or grape if you want brown worms)
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 5 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cup Cool Whip
  • green food coloring, (if you want brown worms)
  • 100+ plastic straws with bendable necks

How to get started:

Find a tall thin container for making your worms. If you have a 1/2 gallon or carton of milk or orange juice, trim off the top and that will work perfectly. I used a thermos that we had laying around (fail!). Thermos’ are insulated to keep the cold stuff cold and the hot stuff hot. SO with now thinking ahead planning on my part, running the water over a thermos to loosen the Jell-O from the sides, doesn’t work very well. So learn from my mistake and just chop off the top of your orange juice container, rinse it out and consider yourself warned.

What ever you do decide to use, make sure it can hold about 6 cups of liquid and that it is straight up and down to hold your straws erect. Now fill it with straws, this was my son’s favorite part, because not only did he get to ‘grow’ the straws (extending out the bendy section), but he got to put them in and practice his counting skills. Place all your extended straws into your container with the bendy part facing down and make sure that the end of the straws are sitting flush to the bottom of your container. Pack the straws in tightly to get a nice snug fit, a rubber band around the top of the straws will help pull them together when you pour in the Jell-O mixture.

Now it is time to make the Jell-O mixture. In a medium bowl, stir together the plain and the unflavored gelatin, then add the boiling water over the gelatin powder. Stir until the powder is dissolved. If you would like to make multi-colored worms, you can! Just use 1 box of flavored gelatin and 2 packets of unflavored gelatin instead and dissolve it with 2 1/2 cups boiling water. At this point let your bowl (or bowls) of gelatin cool down for about 20 minutes, not set but slightly warm, then add in the Cool Whip. If you are making one color worms, put in the entire 1 1/2 cup, use 3/4 cup if you are planning on using two separate colors. My plan was to make orange and red, but I didn’t wait for the orange to set enough before adding my red so they came out one color. We didn’t opt for the brown worms, because my stomach couldn’t handle that, but this is the point where you would add the green food coloring to turn your worms a natural brown color.

Put your container of straws on a cookie sheet or inside a larger bowl, like I did because there will be spills!! Now that your mixture is ready to go, slowly pour the Jell-O over the straws. Some of the Jell-O mixture will seep up the sides, but no worries, your straws should be filling up. If you are using two different colors, pour in the first color and allow it set for about 30 minutes or more in the refrigerator. Then pour the other color on top. You can see that mine turned all red, because I didn’t allow my first color to set long enough, but it was still very disgustingly delish! I also used a clean lid for the extra Jell-O mix since I ran out of room in my thermos of straws.

Chill your Jell-O filled straws in the fridge overnight. After the Jell-O has set, it’s time for the messes of all messes! Run your container under warm water until you can pull the entire Jell-O/straw blob out easily. (This is also the part where you thank me for stopping you from using a thermos for your straws! This part was next to impossible and I wound up hacking away at the sides with a butter knife while my friend and the two excited boys tried to pull this mess out.) After about 15 minutes of hacking and pulling we finally managed to get the straws out. (this would have been much easier had I thought ahead and NOT used a thermos, even if it was pink!)

Now onto removing your worms, on all the websites I read, they said to “tightly squeeze and slide your thumb and finger down the length of the straw and the worm will be pushed out of the bottom”. I must not have very strong fingers because after about 5 very broken and quickly devoured worms were “squeezed” out I was just about done! The two little boys I spoke of earlier were about this close to missing out on Jell-O worms because I just couldn’t squeeze any more Jell-O from these straws.

So I ran some hot water back into the now empty thermos, gave each straw a quick dip in the hot water bath and they slid right out with ease. Make sure you don’t leave them in the hot water for too long, or you will experience the slimy mess falling out in the water, in the sink, on the counter and just about anywhere else, EXCEPT where you want them to go. Once they are all out of the straws, place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and put them back in the fridge until ready to serve, if they make it that long!

Even though ours turned out red, and not at all appearing like real earthworms, when you pop one in your mouth, it does FEEL like you would imagine a real worm does, so if you have a weak stomach leave these for the kiddos!

Fake Jiffy Cornbread Mix

With the overwhelming positive feedback I've received for the Fake Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes, I've decided to expand into other parts of the baking aisle to see what else can be made at home.  In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing lots of different pre-made mixes that we all take for granted.

First, I decided to try something simple - Jiffy Cornbread Mix.  Now, at around $0.75 per box, it's already pretty cheap ( But, remember when it used to be $0.25???), but I wondered if it could be made for pennies.

Turns out you can make up several bags of Fake Jiffy Cornbread Mix at home in under 5 minutes and for around 30 Cents each!  Here's what you need:

Ingredients (Recipe Adapted from
2/3 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Add all ingredients into a quart sized freezer bag & give it a good shake to mix.   Write your instructions on the bag as follows:

Jiffy Cornbread Mix
Add: 1 Egg, 1/3 Cup Milk, 2 Tablespoons Veg. Oil
Bake at 400 Deg, 15-20 min.

I made up 4 mixes for my Pantry and it only took me a couple of minutes!  You probably have all of these ingredients in your home right now, so whip up a few batches for your family and cross this mix off of your grocery list!

The Fake-It Yourself Breakdown:

Fake Jiffy Cornbread Mix (Flour $0.07, Cornmeal $0.10, Baking Soda $0.13, Sugar & Salt negligible)

Total Fake-It Cost:  $0.30 each

Compare to Real Jiffy Cornbread Mix ($0.75)

Total Fake-It Savings $0.45 each

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce – easy!By Laura · Sep,21 2011

When you make tomato sauce on the stove-top, it takes several hours, plus you have to stir the sauce quite often to keep it from scalding on the bottom.  No biggie – I’ve done it this way forever and it hasn’t killed me yet.  But guess what?  My friend Anne just figured out a way to make tomato sauce in the oven and it’s even easier!!!!  (Maybe some of you  have been doing it this way all along and it’s only new to Anne and me?)

If you’ve read my stove-top tomato sauce directions, you already know that I do not peel my tomatoes nor do I take the seeds out.  I just blend up the tomatoes and call it good.  Some might call this lazy.  Shucks, I call this lazy.  But this is one instance where being lazy works fine.  You are very welcome to take off the skins and take out the seeds if you prefer.

I never measure or weigh my tomatoes, but in doing a little searching on the internet, I find that it takes 35-45 pounds of tomatoes to make 7 quarts of sauce.  How many tomatoes equals one pound?  It totally depends on the tomato.  What kind of tomatoes can you use to make sauce?  Whatever kind you want.  We always plant a variety of tomatoes and throw them all together into our sauce.

Because tomatoes are very acidic (especially heirloom tomatoes), I’m not terribly concerned about adding lemon juice to my sauce.  However, if you feel more comfortable adding lemon juice for safety, you’ll want to use about 2 Tablespoons in each quart jar.  I feel that adding lemon juice is only necessary if you add other non-acidic veggies to your sauce (like onions and peppers), but that’s just my opinion and I hereby relinquish any responsibility for influencing the decision you make about this.  ;)

Now, how to make Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce:

First wash your tomatoes (unless you enjoy the grit of soil from your garden…mmm).

Next, cut up your tomatoes and throw them into a roasting pan or any large baking dish.  I usually cut my larger tomatoes into fourths and my smaller tomatoes in half.

Place the container of tomatoes (uncovered) into a 350° oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until the tomatoes are all shrivelled up and are floating in their own juices.

Run them through a strainer so that all you have left is the shrivelled tomatoes.

Place the tomatoes in a blender until smooth.

Can them in a water bath (you can read more about this process here) for 25-30 minutes.

Are you a canner?  Have you ever tried making tomato sauce this way?

Apple Pie FillingBy Laura · Sep,21 2010

What started out as seven grocery bags full of apples to trip over in our kitchen is now down to onlythree grocery bags full of apples to trip over.  We’ve shared some (meaning we’ve begged people to take some off of our hands), made applesauce, dried apple rings and now apple pie filling.

Oh yeah, and we’ve eaten a bunch.

This was my first time to try canning apple pie filling and I am pleased with the results.  It’s a little time consuming to make, but it isn’t hard.  Will the hard work be worth it in February when I make a quick Whole Wheat Pie Crust, pour out the contents of the jar and bake a pie?  Oh yes, I think so.

To make Apple Pie Filling you will need:

About 25 medium sized apples
1 1/2 cups sucanat or brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cinnamon
3 Tablespoons cornstarch, arrowroot powder or flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice

(This amount makes 3 quart sized jars – enough for three nice sized pies.)

Peel, core and slice your apples.

Add remaining ingredients.

Stir and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes until
a nice little syrup has formed and your apples are slightly tender.

Scoop apple pie filling into sterilized canning jars.
Hot water bath the pie filling for 25 minutes.

To make pie:

Prepare this Whole Wheat Pie Crust and place it in a pie pan.  Dump contents of Apple Pie Fillingjar into the crust.  Use bits of leftover crust to put little cut-outs onto the pie, or make a crumb topping.  Bake at 350° for one hour.

And now a little Q&A…

What kind of apples should I use for this apple pie filling?

I would suggest using the kind you get for free.  Those taste best in a pie.  Otherwise, granny smith makes a really good apple pie.  Some of you want to share your favorite apples for pie making?

Can I freeze my pie filling?

You can certainly freeze this apple pie filling if you’d rather not can it, or if you don’t have canning equipment.  I chose to can it because all of my freezers are pretty well full of meat, green beans, corn, strawberries, peaches…  Wow God is good!

Can I use this apple pie filling to make an apple crisp?

What to Look for At Garage Sales if You’re Planning to Preserve Food!By Laura · Jul,09 2009

Freezing and canning your fruits and vegetables for the winter saves a LOT of money…but getting started can COST a lot of money too.  There are some supplies that you just have to have.  Almost all of the supplies you need are “one time only” purchases, so if you have to pay full price, you willget your money back on it eventually if you continue to preserve food through the years.

But…if you plan on going to garage sales or auctions this summer…here are a few things to keep your eye out for so that you can try to get a better deal:

Jars.  Jars…jars…and more jars.

Ball® 16oz. Wide Mouth Jars with Lids

Jars are a must if you plan on doing any canning.  Not a lot of people do much canning anymore, so they are ready to get rid of their jars.  I’ve seen big boxes of them for super cheap at garage sales.  I buy all I can get my hands on anytime I see them for a good price.  I don’t even need anymore jars (I have over 300!), but I have friends who need them so I still grab them when I see them at a sale!

My favorites are the “wide mouth” jars, which tend to cost more at the store.  I consider it to be a big score if I find wide mouth jars at a garage sale.  

And…here’s a little tip I learned from a friend of mine (who likes jars almost as much as I do):  If you see a box of jars at a garage sale…ask the owner if they have any more jars anywhere they’d like to get rid of.  When my friend did this…the lady hosting the sale went down to her basement and brought up bunches of boxes of jars she was happy to part with!  It NEVER hurts to ask!!!

Hot Water Bath Pot

Granite Ware 21-Quart Covered Preserving Canner with Rack

If you’re just going to be canning in small pint sized jars, you can use a big soup pot.  (The water has to be high enough to cover your jars as you process them.)  But, if you’re canning in quart sized jars you’ll need a Hot Water Bath Pot.  It’s just the right size to hold seven quart sized jars.

My dad found two of them for me at an auction once for about a dollar.  At that time, I hadn’t even learned to can yet…but that was motivation for me to learn!!

Cherry Pitter

Norpro Deluxe Cherry Stoner/Pitter

If you have a cherry tree or know someone who does…it saves a lot of time (and broken teeth) if you take out the pits with a cherry pitter.  Mine is probably an antique, but it works great and saves me a lot of time!

Food Mill

Mirro 50024 2-quart FOLEY Food Mill, Stainless Steel

I usually make my applesauce in a blender, but if you prefer to leave your peelings on your apples…cook them down, then run them through a food mill like this one.  I have one and while it takes quite a bit of muscle to get a big batch of applesauce made, it’s yummy!


Norpro Stainless Steel Wide-Mouth Funnel

In my opinion, a wide mouth funnel is a must-have for canning.  I use mine ALL THE TIME.  I paid full price for mine through Azure Standard and it was well worth it.  But, I wouldn’t mind a second (or third) one, so I’m keeping my eye out for them at garage sales.

Ziplock bags

Ziploc® Double Zipper Plastic Freezer Bags, Gallon (94604ZIP) Category: Plastic Ziplock Bags

Okay, you probably won’t find these at garage sales, but while we’re on the subject of saving money while you preserve food, I recommend stocking up on quart and gallon sized freezer bags when they’re on sale and when you have coupons.  Two tips:  Only use freezer bags for freezing produce.  Regular storage bags won’t cut it.  And…stick with name brand Ziplock bags for produce.  I won’t tell you about the time I made real apple cider and froze it in generic freezer bags.  Let’s just say everything in my freezer was sticky for six months and I lost a lot of my apple cider. 

Homemade Tomato Soup

5 pounds chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
3 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Put everything in a big pot and cook it for about 3 hours.  Then, put it into your blender and blend until smooth.  Freeze it, or can it following these canning methods.

I love having recipes like this that are so simple to make and healthy for my family!

Homemade Apple Butter

1 quart homemade apple sauce
2 Tablespoons sucanat
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir ingredients into a crock pot.  Cook on low for about six hours on low setting, with LID OFF, stirring occasionally.

Store the apple butter in the refrigerator - or process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal.  If the jars are sealed properly, you can store your apple butter in the pantry until you’re ready to serve.

Caution:  Contents cooking in crock pot are hot.  Refrain from sticking a finger into the crock pot for a lick, even though the delicious smell will create a major temptation.  Dipping in with a teaspoon isobviously a much better option.  No double dipping allowed.  In addition, be aware that partaking in too many licks from the crock pot will result in a smaller amount of finished product, which will mean that all of the math I labored over above, rounding carefully to the nearest half of a half pint, will be null and void.

If you're new to Heavenly Homemakers, you may want to subscribe to receive free updates through RSS feed or by Email. Thanks for visiting!

Slowly but surely I’m getting a few things figured out with this applesauce-making business.  Many of you left comments sharing that you were shocked that with all the canning I do, I don’t have aVictorio.  Others were shocked that I take off the apple skins.  Yep, I’m just learning along with the rest of us here.  I didn’t grow up doing any canning, so I’m learning as I go.  I’d never even heard of aVictorio or a Squeezo before last week, so I’ve appreciated your ideas and suggestions!

Since I don’t have a Victorio strainer, nor do I know anyone who has one I can borrow, and since I’ve got apples that need to be put up right now, I went ahead and tried yet another applesauce method.  Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!  (I think we will probably end up investing in a nice strainer, especially for tomato sauce.  But for apples, can you all reassure me that the bad, wormy parts in the apples really do get strained out?  I’m still hesitant about that since the apples I work with aren’t always pretty once I cut into them.  Really – do I just quarter them and throw them all into the pot, worms and all?)

This time, I followed the advice of leaving the skins on and blending them up along with the apples.  I hesitated with this idea at first because I figured there would be little bits of apple peelings in the sauce and that my family would rebel.  Well, what’s a mother to do, but to try the idea and not tell her family what she’s done?

Sure enough – I cooked my apples, ran it all through my food processor, served it up, and would you believe – not one boy or husband knew that there were apple peelings in the applesauce!

Not only did this method save lots of time, we’re getting a healthier applesauce.  Plus, there was much less waste – so I got several more quarts of applesauce for my efforts!!  Ahhh, I’m so happy about this.

Applesauce Instructions:

Quarter and core apples, cutting out bad spots.  Cook apples in a large pot, following these directions.  When the apples are soft, run them through a food processor until smooth.  See, the peelings just get blended up in there!  (I don’t have an immersion blender, but according to many of you, sticking the immersion blender directly into the pot saves yet another step.  I may ask for one for Christmas.)  :)

I used some of my “special” jars this time, because this applesauce is so pretty.  These jars came from my late friend Lorna Mae.  I miss her.  :(  I think she’d be thrilled that her jars are being put to good use for my family.

I also made a bunch of mini apple pies, a big apple pie and an apple crisp – all with apple skins left on.  I may never peel another apple again.

So there we have it.  Leaving the skins on the apples when making applesauce and apple pies saves time and adds nutrients.  Now, on to the Apple Butter…

Comments (51)

For years, I’ve used this method of making applesauce.  The past couple of years, I’ve decided to try something new, in an effort to cut down on preparation time and to make the homemade applesauce a bit healthier.  Still, I have to say, this process still takes quite a bit of time and effort.  After spending several hours making applesauce yesterday and only yielding five quarts – I felt a little bit discouraged.  Several of you have mentioned that a Victorio Food Strainer is a worthwhile investment.  After looking into this, I have to say that Matt and I are talking seriously about making the purchase.  Check out this pretty tool. Does that not look like a life saver when making applesauce and tomato sauce?

Here is a run-down of yesterday’s applesauce process:

We used a mixture of apples, most of which had very dark red skin (Empire, I think).  Cooking the apples with skin on created a lovely pink colored applesauce.  To start, we gave the apples a good washing.  I looked around for the cutest assistant I could find.  Since everyone else was busy with math and vocabulary lessons, Malachi got the job.

While he was washing apples (about 18 pounds), I prepped my huge stock pot.  I stirred 2 heaping tablespoons of Vitamin C Powder (ascorbic acid to keep the apples from turning brown) into 5 cups of water.

Then, I began to quarter and cut out all yucky parts.  These apples were mostly organic (he had sprayed a little bit early on before the fruit set on), so there were some wormy parts to cut out.  As I added apples, I stirred them around so that they would be coated with the ascorbic acid/water to  keep them from browning.

I continued this process until my pot was full and until my right hand was cramped permanently into a claw-like position.

I then cooked the apples on the stove for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until they became nice and soft.

Next began the straining.  Here’s my (not-so) fancy set-up:

I ran the softened apples through my Foley Food Mill, which removed the skins.  This also gave my arms a nice work-out.  Bonus.

Then I went through one more step to see if I could squeeze just a little bit more sauce out of those apples.  This is a strainer I inherited from my mom, which has a cone shaped wooden “pestle” to complete the task.  (Matt had just come in from picking the rest of our garden peppers, so I let him take over this part.  Let him? How about I “begged him”.  He happily obliged.)

I ended up with smooth, beautiful, delicious applesauce that my family had seconds and thirds of at lunch time.

I then canned four remaining quarts (using this water bath process for 20 minutes) and put them into my pantry.

I’m very pleased with the results, but wow, the process took a long time for what will be consumed by my family in four little meals.  This is why we’re considering the purchase of a Victorio Food Strainer.  What are your thoughts?  What do you use to make applesauce?

I have yet to make apple butter or any of the other tasty apple dishes I talked about earlier this week.  I do believe that next I will experiment with my crock pot and apple butter.  Which means that I really need to make some whole wheat biscuits.  Doesn’t apple butter spread on a hot, fresh biscuit sound wonderful?

How to Make Sweet Pickle Relish (the healthier way)By Laura · Jul,23 2009

Your family will be so excited that I am giving you this recipe.  Yes, the very strong smell of onions, cucumbers and vinegar cooking on your stove will bring them to tears and make them beg for a spoonful.  (Or rather they will be like my boys and come downstairs with a disgusted look on their faces while holding their noses asking WHAT in the world you are making.)

Don’t worry…the smell in your kitchen goes away.  Eventually.  And then you are left with several jars of sweet pickle relish…enough to last you quite a while.  (This recipe makes more than a year’s supply for our family.  We don’t tend to go through pickle relish very quickly, but I really like having it on hand.)

If you have a few extra cucumbers and enjoy adding sweet pickle relish to your tuna salad, etc…you’ll like this healthier version.  I cut the sugar in half compared to the other recipes I used organic sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice) instead of regular sugar and it is plenty sweet enough for our taste!

Sweet Pickle Relish

8 medium sized cucumbers
2 large onions
2 sweet green peppers
1 sweet red pepper 
1/3 cup sea salt
3 cups rapadura or sucanat
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 T. whole celery seed
2 T. whole mustard seed

Begin by slicing the cucumbers, peppers and onions.

Chop the vegetables into tiny pieces. 
I find that putting them into my food processor works best for this.

Pour the chopped veggies into a large bowl. 
Cover them with water and let them soak for about two hours (longer won’t hurt).

Pour the soaked veggies through a strainer until all the water is drained out.

Pour strained veggies into a bowl and add remaining ingredients.

Stir well.

Pour contents of bowl into a large pot.  Bring to a boil.

Simmer relish for ten minutes, then transfer it into pint sized jars.  (I was able to make six full pints, with a little bit leftover.)

Following these hot water bath canning methods,
process the pickle relish for 10 minutes (from start of boiling).

Six beautiful jars of pickle relish all ready to go!

Apple Fruit Leather

1.  Make applesauce as shown here.
2.  Put a piece of buttered parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread the applesauce about 1/8 inch thickness on the cookie sheet.  

3.  Put it into a 170 degree oven for somewhere between 10-18 hours or longer, depending on your oven.  Your fruit leather will be done with it is no longer wet….just sticky and leathery.

You can add some kind of sweetener to it or maybe some cinnamon or nutmeg if you’d like…I just left mine plain and it is sweet and yummy as can be!

Peach Fruit Leather (So Easy!!!)

1.  Wash peaches
2.  Cut them off of their pit and throw them, skin and all, into the blender.
3.  Add a shot of water and puree them until there are no chunks.
4.  Spread it onto a piece of buttered parchment paper on a cookie sheet, about 1/8 inch thick.

5.  Put it into a 170 degree oven for somewhere between 10-18 hours or longer,  depending on your oven.  Your fruit leather will be done with it is no longer wet….just sticky and leathery.

***A few things to note about making the fruit leather. 

*While you are making it you might think that it is taking FOREVER.  And you’d be right.  It does.  Be patient.
*My fruit leather didn’t dry evenly in my oven…so sometimes I would cut off the sections that were dry (so that they wouldn’t get overdone), and stick the rest back in the oven.  This meant I had some weird shaped fruit leather, but I was going to cut it all up to store it anyway, so it didn’t matter.
*I loved it that I could put this in the oven in the late evening, then I could go to sleep and have it be all done, or almost done, when I got up in the morning! 

I let us all have a sample taste….then I put it into a jar and into the pantry (should be stored in a cool, dark place).  Right now we have so many fresh fruits available to us that I’m sort of hoarding the food I’m preserving.  I’ll pull out the fruit leather on some wintery day when fresh fruit is not so abundant!  THEN it’ll really be a treat!

Fake Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes
Ever have one of those "Ah-ha!" moments?  I happened to me yesterday when I was lamenting the price of those very convenient Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes.  I remember when they used to only cost $1.00 each in Walmart and now they're $2.50 each!  Who says there's no inflation?

Anyway, I usually just tell myself that I can make cookies from scratch anytime with the plentiful ingredients of my pantry, but then it came to me...Why can't I make cookie pre-mixes and keep them in ziplock bags for use at my convenience?  It's a similar idea to those beautiful Cookies In A Jar gifts, but just not as fancy!

So, I've come up with recipes for four of my family's favorite Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes.  They are a cinch to put together for your quick use later!  They're also as convenient as the Betty Crocker Mixes in that they only require butter, egg and vanilla to make!

]Fake Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Chocolate Chips

Mix together and store in a quart size ziplock bag.  Write instructions on the bag to add:  1 Stick Softened Butter, 1 Large Egg, 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract.  Mix & Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

]]Fake Betty Crocker Sugar Cookies:

1 1/2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Mix together and store in a quart size ziplock bag.  Write instructions on the bag to add:  1 Stick Softened Butter, 1 Large Egg, 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract.  Mix & Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

Fake Betty Crocker Oatmeal Cookies:

1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Optional: 1/2 Cup Raisins and/or Nuts

Mix together and store in a quart size ziplock bag.  Write instructions on the bag to add:  1 Stick Melted Butter, 1 Large Egg, 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract.  Mix, Refrigerate for 30 Minutes & Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]Fake Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookies:

1 3/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Ground Ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves

Mix together and store in a quart size ziplock bag.  Write instructions on the bag to add:  1/2 Stick Softened Butter, 1 Large Egg, 1/8 Cup Molasses.  Mix & Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

I put together these 8 different mixes in under 20 minutes!

The Fake-It Yourself Breakdown:

Fake Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes (Pantry Ingredients, Between $0.30-$0.40 each mix)

Total Fake-It Cost:  $3.20 (possibly less) for 8 Cookie Mixes

Compare to Real Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes ($2.50+ each)

Total Fake-It Savings:  $16.80

Fake-It Yourself Bisquick
One of the first things I noticed in the grocery store in New Zealand was the absence of Bisquick…or anything remotely related to a biscuit mix.  My hubby LOVES Bisquick Pancakes, so I had to find a way to rectify this situation post-haste!  I went online to find recipes, and after a bit of tinkering, this is the one I think tastes most like, and cooks most like, Bisquick.  Here in the US, it’s still worth my while to make up a batch to save a few bucks!

1 Bag of Flour (5lb. bag)
5 Teaspoons Salt
20 Teaspoons Sugar
2/3 Cup Baking Powder
2 Cups Shortening (Crisco Style, no butter or margarine)

Oh, and you’ll need a BIG Bowl!

First, dump the flour into the bowl and add all of the other dry ingredients.  Using a whisk, mix the dry ingredients together.

Next, measure out the 2 Cups of shortening and put it on top of your dry ingredients.

Take your rings and your watch off, cause it’s time to put your hands into it!  Mix the shortening into the dry ingredients using your hands.  This doesn’t take as long as you might think.

Keep mixing and rubbing the shortening in until there are no visible pieces of shortening left and the mixture seems uniform.  Don’t forget to dig deep and get the dry ingredients on the bottom of the bowl, too!  I like to put some of the mixture in between my hands and rub them together to achieve uniformity and to feel for small bits of shortening:

You can tell it’s done when the mixure has the texture of cornmeal and it can form a ball when pressed together like this:

That’s it!  Now you can put it into storage bags.  I divided mine into three bags of 8 Cups each, which is the same amount you get in one regular box of Bisquick.

Fake Bisquick can stay in your pantry for up to one year…just like the real thing!  Use it as you would in any Bisquick recipe…or split it up into individual Shake’N'Pour Pancake Mixes* (see below).

The Fake-It Yourself Breakdown:

Fake Bisquick, Yield 24 Cups (Aldi Flour $1.78, Shortening $1.00, Baking Powder $1.14, other ingredients are too small in amount to count)

Fake-It Yourself Cost:  $3.92

Real Bisquick, 3 Boxes ($3.59 each)

Total Fake-It Yourself Savings:  $6.85

*If you wanted to use your Bisquick solely for making pancakes, you could scoop 2 Cups of mix into a Quart Size Mason Jars, yielding 12 jars of Fake Shake’N'Pour pancake mix!  Compare to Bisquick’s Shake’N'Pour at $2.59 each and you’ve got aFake-It Yourself Savings of $27.16. 

To make Shake’N'Pour pancakes, add 1 Cup Milk and 2 Eggs to the jar and SHAKE!
You might also like:


  • 2 cups 100% organic whole wheat flour (or wheat germ, or spelt, or rolled oats, or a mixture of these, etc.)
  • 2 (4oz) jars of pureed baby food - beef, blueberry, sweet potato, chicken - whatever. Just make sure there are no onions/onion powder in it*.  Avoid any with artificial preservatives (should be easy, most are just pureed veggies and water).


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Mix together to form a stiff dough. If necessary, add extra flour or water as needed.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shape or a pizza cutter to make cubes.

4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, place treats about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before storing in a paper bag (storing in an air-tight container will make them soft, but they're still edible).

Easy, right?  Now this is where you can get creative!  Consider including grated carrots or sweet potatoes, a little bit of parsley (which supposedly helps with bad breath), blueberries, or some of that homemade peanut butter!



Several weeks ago I saw this photo on Pinterest.  The pinner CLAIMED they’d grown them from some green onion ends they’d simply submerged in water. No way. That can’t possibly be true. As a matter of fact….I’ll PROVE it!

Here are MY green onion “leftovers” from making “Those (Funeral) Potatoes” that I stuck in a small mason jar a couple of weeks ago.

And here are the same green onion “leftovers” just the other day!  See, I told you they would grow! ;-)

haha. I am very happy to “eat my words” with regards to this “myth”. You indeed can “re-grow” green onions!

As you can see, I now have THREE crops of green onions going. They’re fun to watch grow (they will grow about an inch in just a few days), they look so nice on my kitchen windowsill, and BEST OF ALL they add delicious flavor to a myriad of dishes!

Mom’s Cheese Bread

From the kitchen of Mom


1 loaf french bread, sliced lengthwise (the loaf I bought was so “fat”, as you can see in the pictures, that I ended up doubling this recipe)
3 Tablespoons chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl, then spread out on sliced french bread. Place bread onto a foil lined baking sheet and cook at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on it after about 10 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes and slice.

This is really delicious with spaghetti, lasagna, etc. (Or if you are me, you can make a meal out of just this!)

  • It’s as easy as 1 (pour) – 2 (shake)  - 3 (spray)!
  • It cuts the amount of fat you use when cooking.
  • It saves money!
  • It eliminates nasty additives like BUTANE??
  • No sticky residue build-up on pans!

Well, I don’t know about you….but that is MORE than enough reasons for me to NEVER buy another one of those ridiculously over-priced cans.

Ready to find out how to make it??

To make your own cooking spray……pour oil and water into a spray bottle and shake well before use.

Well OK, that is the EXTREMELY simplified version…but you get the picture. The EXTREMELY complicated version isn’t much different. :-)

Homemade Cooking Spray

by Natures Nurture


1 part olive oil (or your choice of oil)
5 parts water
1 misting spray bottle


Mix in your spray bottle 1 part olive oil to 5 parts water. In my 12 ounce bottle, I poured in 2 ounces of canola oil and added 10 ounces of water. Shake well and you’re done. That’s it. Store in a cool, dark place.

Make sure the bottle you use is a MISTING spray bottle.  (A plant mister would be perfect!)  But the bottle I got at Walmart for about $1.50 works fine too.

I just used plain canola oil because I was out of olive oil. I think I will try that next time. Both worked well. I just prefer the taste, texture, and performance of olive oil.

Finally, just for fun, I printed out a  ”Cooking Spray” label and slapped it on the bottle just so there would be no mistakes. And since most likely the spray bottle will be handled by oily, messy hands in the kitchen, I covered the whole label with clear, packaging tape.

DIY Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix

Yield: 20 to 25 servings (enough for 5 batches of pudding)

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup cornstarch
¾ cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 whole vanilla beans

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, milk powder, and salt; set aside.

2. Split open the vanilla beans and use the back of a knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the sugar mixture, and again whisk well to evenly combine, using a fork or the back of the spoon to break up any chunks of vanilla bean seeds. Cut the empty vanilla bean pods into two or three pieces each.

3. Place the vanilla bean pieces into an airtight container or jar, and add the sugar mixture. Seal it, and then give it a few good shakes to distribute the vanilla bean pieces evenly. Store in a cool, dry place.

To make pudding: Combine 2 cups of milk with ½ cup of the instant pudding mix in a medium saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 3 to 5 minutes). Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.