Archive for the ‘Good To Eat’ Category

(Imagine beautiful picture of perfectly browned oatmeal here.  My kids ate mine before I got a picture!)

1/2 stick butter (4 Tbsp.), melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups quick oats

Preheat oven to 450 F.  Combine all ingredients in large bowl. (I usually just mix it all in the pan that I’m going to bake it in – just be sure to get the eggs beaten well!)  Pour into a 9×9 square dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Watch carefully; it burns easily.  (When it is done, the edges will be light brown and the center will be moist but not “wet.”)

*I often add a splash more milk and a handful of dried cherries.  You could also add other dried fruit or a dash of cinnamon and a diced apple.

I love this dish!  It is easy to make, and it is all crunchy on top and on the sides – not mushy like real oatmeal!

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Warm & Yummy

Pasta e Fagioli

1 pound ground beef

Brown ground beef.

1 cup diced onion

1 large carrot, chopped finely

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Add vegetables to beef and saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables just start to soften.

Then add:

2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can kidney beans (w/ liquid)

1 15 oz. can great northern beans (w/ liquid)

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 12 oz. can V-8 juice

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. thyme

Cook for 1 hour over low heat.


1/2 pound ditali (or any small) pasta, cooked and drained.

Stir in pasta.  Serve.

jen’s notes:

This recipe makes a lot of soup.  Once I forgot to tell my sister that, and she made it (for herself and her husband); they ate it for a week, maybe longer!  But a lot of soup is just perfect, if you have teenage boys, a big family, or guests coming for dinner!  On the contrary, this soup is easy to double for a really large crowd, or you can make it just a bit bigger by adding some extra veggies and an extra can of tomatoes.

Usually I do a couple things to make the soup a bit more healthy:  use the super lean beef, use whole wheat pasta, & use low sodium (or no salt added) canned tomato products.  There’s lots of ingredients in this, but it is super easy to throw together and really filling!

My friend Ellen says this soup was even better the second day.  If you want to cook it ahead, I would recommend cooking the soup and pasta separately (just like the recipe says), storing them separately, then combining shortly before serving.  I have also frozen the soup (sans pasta), thawed it, added the pasta just before serving.  It was certainly good, though I like the texture a little better when it hasn’t been frozen.

Finally, this hearty Italian chili is great served with a bit of Parmesan cheeseon top and a green salad and some yummy bread on the side!

Hope you enjoy one of our family favorites!

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When it rains it pours.  If you read the post about the weekend, you’ll notice that my aunt left us with some zucchini.  What I didn’t mention is that she left us with five zucchini, four of them about as large as a small country!  Really, two of them are just large enough to be perfect for zucchini bread…and zucchini brownies and zucchini cake, and two of them are a cool stripey variety that are really pretty to look at and great to eat.

Tonight, we ate a pasta stir fry with lots of different veggies – yum!

Tomorrow night we’ll have some sauteed zucchini with Parmesan cheese on top – again, yum!

Here is a recipe that I hope to make with some of the green goodness, and I’m on a hunt for a good zucchini brownie recipe too!

Zucchini Bread (the not-so-bad-for-you version)
-found last summer on a jar of Wild Harvest Organic Applesauce

3/4 granulated sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup liquid egg whites
2 Tablespoons extra light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup grated zucchini
Grease 9x3x5 loaf pan and preheat oven to 325.
In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, applesauce, egg, oil, and vanilla.  Mix with electric mixer until well combined.  Add flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix until well combined, scraping sides of bowl.  Add zucchini and continue mixing until well combined.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool completely on cooling rack.


  • I have doubled this recipe successfully.
  • This bread freezes well.  Once it is cool, I cut it into very thick pieces, then I cut the pieces in half.  If I suspect that I will be serving it to someone other than my brood (someone for whom I might want the pieces to stay in tact), I place waxed paper between each piece, wrap the entire loaf in plastic wrap or waxed paper, then insert loaf into a gallon size freezer bag.
  • I have used whole eggs and vegetable oil instead of egg whites and olive oil – turns out just fine!

If I don’t have time to make the actual bread or need to conserve freezer space, I grate the zucchini, then freeze it in 1 cup portions.  Then when I want to make bread, I just remove the zucchini from the freezer, allow it to thaw in the fridge (or hurry the process in the microwave), and bake the bread.

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Reasons Number 462 that I love, love, love summer:

Pico de Gallo.

Made with tomatoes fresh from the garden.

With chips.

For dinner.

(sheepishly:  We had a big lunch!)

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Been sick since some time last week.

Tired of being sick.

Today I let the kids watch so much television that I don’t even know how many hours it was!

But then I mustered the energy to make them some homemade play-dough.  I’ve been wanting to try this recipe since last fall, when I got it from a mailer from our local children’s museum.  It was a bit out of season, but it was fun…and the only thing I have smelled in about six or seven days.


Pumpkin Pie Play Clay

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*

1 cup water

1 1/2 tbsp. oil

orange food color

Combine dry ingredients in large saucepan.  Mix wet ingredients in a separate container.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.  Cook mixture, while stirring, over medium heat until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  (Mine looked really lumpy and gross, and I thought it was not going to turn out…then voila!  It just sort of formed a ball and it was done.)  It will begin to form a ball.  Remove from heat and allow the play dough to cool.  Knead the dough until it is soft and smooth.  You can add more of the pumpkin pie spice while kneading, if you like a stronger scent.

*The recipe I have actually says 4 Tbsp. of pumpkin pie spice.  I used that much, all the while thinking, “Gee, this seems like a lot.”  But in my less-than-stellar/sick state of mind, I didn’t think fast enough to do anything about it.  Duh.  Anyway, my dough turned out looking like, um,…poo, and it smelled really strong.  I know, because I could smell it…and I haven’t smelled or tasted anything for a week.  So I think next time I will try 4 teaspoons of spice; perhaps that way we won’t be able to smell the stuff ALL over the house, and the orange color will actually show up.


This dough makes a really nice consistency that wasn’t crumbly.  It kept the kids busy for almost an hour, and because of the oil will save for another day.


I’m going to put this in the “Good To Eat” category, though it really, really isn’t.  I simply want to be able to find it, and I know I’ll look for it with the recipes on the blog!

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1 large can crushed pineapple

1 angel food cake mix (the kids like the kind with the sprinkles in it)

Mix both ingredients by hand or with mixer until thoroughly combined…not too much now.  Pour into 9×13 pan.  Do NOT grease or flour the pan.  Bake according to directions on cake mix box. (I baked mine for 35 minutes, and it was just perfect!)  Allow to cool and serve.

We love this cake, and it’s so simple.  We especially love it with mashed strawberries (that we picked last spring and froze, thankyouverymuch!).

And we really, really love it with mashed strawberries and ice cream!

I’ve heard it’s fat free, but I haven’t ever actually looked, because I’m so busy stuffing it in my mouth!

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I’ve had so many things that I’ve wanted to get written, but none of them makes a full post…so here I am going to collect a rather random round-up of recent thoughts and goings-ons.  Proceed with caution:

  • I have a new friend.  She lives near me, and she runs too.  I have been praying for someone with whom I could work out.  Seems like she is an answer to prayer…or I thought so until she told me that she gets up at 5:20 to go running!  5:20 – I’m pretty sure God wouldn’t ordain that!
  • Speaking of running, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be running the half marathon that I told you all about a while ago.  It’s coming quickly, and I have barely had time to train – partially because of Handsome’s crazy work schedule but more so because of a couple minor injuries that I didn’t want to turn major (so I’ve been doing a lot of not-running.)  I’m thinking about trying to walk it, since I’ve already paid for it.
  • How do I explain to my children that wheat germ is good for you, but, yes, they still have to wash their hands…because germs are bad for you!
  • A little while ago I asked for a good bean recipe.  I got one, thank you very much, friend…and everyone at the dinner enjoyed (or they said they did anyway).  If I were to do it again, I would cook them a bit longer, more toward the four hour mark.  Perhaps black beans are just more stubborn than their pinto counterparts.
  • We forgot to move our clocks forward this morning.  We also decided to skip church in hopes of finding some time to rest.  I was glad that we didn’t go to church when I realized that we hadn’t changed our clocks – we would have been foolishly late; but I was sad too – we lost an hour of peaceful bliss!

How, oh how, do the weekend fly by so quickly!

Happy Monday!

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Thank you all SO very much for the love you shared yesterday!  I can’t thank you enough for all the fun ideas!  I WILL be mailing beachballs some time this year, and that will not be all – the post man might just hate me.

Oh well!

But I have had a new little “situation” come up:

Every week we meet with a Bible Study group.  They’re a fun bunch, and sometimes we study the Bible a little less and eat a little more.  Next week will be meeting and eating.  Mexican.

I said I would make the beans.  Since it’s at my house, seems like it’s easiest if I do the hot stuff, the beans and the meat.  I’ve got the meat covered – good to go!  But I want to make the black beans from scratch…you know, from the hard little round things that come in a bag that I usually just buy for craft projects for my kids.  I can do the canned variety, and I’ll probably have some of those at the ready, just in case…but I’d like to make black beans in my crock pot.

Anybody have a good recipe for black beans (Mexican style) cooked in a crock pot?


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Some years I hate Valentine’s Day – just seems so, you know, card-company-esque.  So very unromatic of me, huh?

But some years I love Valentine’s Day – just seems so fun and silly and romantic and blissful.

I doesn’t really have anything to do with the state of my marriage or anything like that.  I generally don’t like February, so anything that is part of February is destined to have a sort of love/hate thing going on in my head.

Anyway, back to what I was saying:  This year I have really, really been enjoying Valentine’s Day and the days leading up to it.  At the suggestion of a friend, I’ve been doing 14 Days of Valentine’s Day; there’s no catchy tune, but each day he gets a new little surprise.  It has been fun for both of us, and it has given me something to look forward to – besides gray skies and mud.

One of the surprises I have given Handsome was the promise of a yummy dessert at the end of the day.  I figure the following recipe fits the bill and is perfect for a romantic winter’s evening.  And because I love you all, I thought I would share.

Chocolate Volcano Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp. Butter
2oz. Semisweet chocolate (or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
2/3 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp plus 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups hot water

1. Coat the inside of slow cooker with cooking spray
2. Whisk together flour and baking powder in medium bowl and set aside.
3.  In a large bowl, melt butter and semisweet chocolate in the microwave-
stir well
4. Whisk into the chocolate mixture:  2/3 cups sugar, 3 Tbsp. Cocoa, vanilla
extract, salt, milk, and egg yolk
5. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stir until thoroughly mixed
6. Pour batter into slow cooker and spread it evenly
7. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, and
hot water until sugar is dissolved.
8. Pour the mixture over the batter in slow cooker
9. Cover and cook on high for about 1 1/2 hours (check every 1/2 hour as
cooking times vary by crock pot size)
10. Even when done, cakes will be VERY moist and floating on a layer of
molten chocolate, but you will know it is ready when nearly all of the cake
is set and the edges begin to pull away form the sides of the pot.
11. When finished, turn cooker off, remove lid and let cool for 15 minutes.
12. Serve with vanilla ice-cream and enjoy!

I actually got this recipe from a friend named Christina who probably doesn’t know this blog exists.  She always made the best stuff!

And with that, I’m going to take a long weekend to enjoy my family; I hope you do too!

Happy Valentine’s Day

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I really, really hope my aunt doesn’t mind if I share this recipe.  (She totally gets the credit for it.)  I also really, really hope that I haven’t posted it before.  I thought I had, but I found this in my drafts folder, and well, I can’t find it on my actual blog anywhere…so here’s wishing that I had posted this BEFORE the Super Bowl!

It’s just too good not to share!

One of the best parts is that she told me it actually tastes better when you use the generic brands of the various ingredients.  The other great part:  you can use all fat free ingredients, and you won’t know.  I’m not a huge fat free fan, but that’s a handy thing to know when you are serving to family or friends that are weight conscious…never mind that you serve it with chips!

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup ranch dressing (the stuff in a bottle, not the powder that you use to make dressing)

1/4 cup hot sauce (use more or less to your liking)

some chicken (maybe 2 cups?)

cheese (enough to sprinkle on the top; I used cheddar, but I’ll bet Monterrey Jack would be yummy too!)

Combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing, and hot sauce.  (I use my hand mixer, but I am sure you could get away with just mixing it all by hand.)  Spread mixture into a 9×13 pan.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Bake in 350 oven until warm and melty!

Serve with tortilla chips.

Easy and yummy!

Now head to Rocks In My Dryer for other awesome Works For Me Wednesday tips!

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