Simple, Versatile Pesto

I’ve loved pesto since the first time I tasted it.  As the years have gone by I’ve made quite a few versions of my own.  I’ve made traditional pesto.  I’ve made red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto.  And I’ve made very simple pesto.

pesto pasta

I’ve added new ingredients.  I’ve taken things out when I had various dietary restrictions.  And I finally settled on my base pesto recipe that only takes about 2 minutes to make.  I’ve removed the allergens (dairy and nuts) as well so just about anybody can eat it.

Pesto is so versatile.  You can use whatever greens you have fresh or frozen.  And you can use it in so many dishes.  Here are a few ways to use pesto.

  • Pizza sauce – Replace your usual tomato sauce with pesto and top with chicken and vegetables.  With all the flavor from the pesto you can even skip the cheese and make a delicious dairy free pizza.
  • Salad dressing – Store-bought dressings are almost always made with unhealthy vegetable oils.  Whip up a batch of pesto and you’ve got easy, flavorful dressing on hand for the whole week.
  • Rice – Rice can get pretty boring.  Liven it up with a few spoonfuls of pesto.  Add a little parmesan cheese and cooked chicken and you’ve got a whole meal!
  • Vegetable topping – Mix pesto into a bowl of roasted vegetables or pureed squash or pumpkin.
  • Quiche – Spread a layer of pesto on a pie crust.  Top it with a mixture of eggs, milk and cheese and bake.
  • Snack – Need a quick bite of something healthy in-between meals?  Try a spoon or two of pesto.  You’ll get easy to digest nutrients and healthy fat.
  • Baby food – Who says baby’s need bland food?  Let your little one try some.  No need to chew
  • Bread – Make your favorite yeast bread dough.  Roll it out.  Spread pesto on top.  Roll the dough into a loaf and bake.  You’ll have a homemade bread with pesto swirled throughout.
  • Pasta – Cook some pasta, drain most of the liquid, stir in pesto.  Top it with cheese and/or add cooked chicken or bacon if desired.  Or mix the pesto into your favorite alfredo sauce to make pesto-fredo pasta.
  • Panini – Use pesto as the dressing on a Panini.
  • Soup – Mix pesto into a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup, squash soup or white chili.  It’s a great twist on your favorite soups.
  • Dip – Dip raw vegetables into plain pesto.  Or you can mix pesto with hummus to make a “pummus” dip.

Do you like pesto?  What is your favorite way to use it?

pesto pizza

Simple, Versatile Pesto
Author: 
 
Makes 2½ cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh peas, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, basil or any other green/herb you like (you can use a combination as well)
  • ½ - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (you can replace some of it with water for a ighter version or to make it have a more neutral flavor)
  • unrefined sea salt and garlic powder to taste
Method of Preparation
  1. Blend greens, ½ cup olive oil, salt and garlic powder in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Add extra olive oil or water to reach desired consistency.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Spring Cleaning – the kitchen

This morning I just couldn’t take it anymore. The spots on the tile back-splash, the cabinets covered in finger prints and food, as well as the constant array of dirty dishes waiting to be washed.

It was time for spring cleaning.

So I grabbed my handy-dandy Norwex cloth, gave the kids a couple of rags, and got to work cleaning some of the spots that rarely see regular cleaning.

I’m more of the “quick, hide it in the dishwasher/stove before company comes over” kind of gal most days. And the adrenal fatigue I’ve been dealing with for the last year has pushed me to be a bit lazier when it comes to housecleaning.

Deal with the mundane first

The dishes had to be done and put away to clear the counter before anything else got done. Often I forget this crucial step and instead find myself with piles upon piles of “stuff” in my way.

I really should have taken a before picture, so y’all don’t feel bad about your own messes, but I forgot until I was almost done.

The Stove

The workhorse of my kitchen, the stove is usually used for every meal! I find that it’s best to pull out the stove from the wall a couple of times a year to vacuum underneath and get out any food that may have fallen under. It’s also a good time to wipe down the sides as well as the side of the counter that are usually covered. Then I push it back in, wipe down the stove top  and sides with my Norwex cloth and then get to cleaning the oven.

My oven has a self cleaner which I love to use (it’s easy) but if there was a spill I’ll clean that up with some baking soda and white vinegar. On Easter I decided to bake some au gratin potatoes and I figured the more cheese sauce the better right?

Wrong. It spilled all over inside and smoked up the entire house as it burned on the bottom of the stove. So I had to clean out the inside a bit.

Refrigerator

I also pull out he fridge and vacuum up lost toys, dust bunnies, and any fossilized food. The outside gets wiped down and then I get to work emptying it of contents to wipe down the shelves. I regularly just use my Norwex cloth, but diluted white vinegar also makes a fantastic cleaner. There is always something in the back that I haven’t seen in a while as my ferments tend to get piled in on top, so the lost and lonely food goes straight to the garbage.

Other appliances

We have a microwave above the stove, what a mess that thing gets to be! Grease spatters all around as well as ick from when food is reheated. (I rarely use it, Todd is the main microwave user here) But it also has a couple of filters from the vent that I go about cleaning as well.

The dishwasher gets to run a load or two empty and this is the one place I use a conventional cleaner. We have hard water that runs through a softener and we get a fair amount of lime scale buildup. We have learned over the years that a nasty dishwasher, covered in rusty lime scale, is a recipe for disaster. So I now run a bottle of dishwasher cleaner through it as well as check the drains and the little ‘do-hicky’ that often gets clogged and allows it to overflow. (I’ve tried every natural option I can think of and nothing works well enough. I even got to the point where I hillbilly rigged the hose up the deck so that I could haul it in the kitchen and use the sprayer nozzle a few times!)

Cabinets

The kids got the job of wiping down the cabinets today, made more fun by listening to an episode of Adventures in Odyssey while they worked. For the most part they quietly worked instead of arguing the whole time. Other kids argue to…right? It’s not just mine?

I didn’t do a whole lot cleaning out the insides of them as I recently went through them all a couple of months ago, but I did clean out under the sink and finally found space for some of my mason jars.

Those things sure pile up with all of the ferments and farm fresh milk we go through!

Since our cabinets down go all the way to the ceiling I also have to get up there and dust cobwebs. And get down all of the egg cartons I save for bringing back to the farm.

Floors

Well, I guess I haven’t fully cleaned my kitchen if I haven’t mopped my floor. But I also can’t seem to find the mop……. so that will wait for another day. It did get a good sweeping with my ‘custodian broom’ though. I bought this broom years ago when I found that sweeping up a large area with a broom was just beyond ridiculously a pain. So I went to the hardware store and picked up the small version of what they use in schools and churches, I absolutely love it. A few sweeps and I’m done.

Normally on the floors I use warm water with about a cup of white vinegar, a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, and a few drops of essential oil.

Windows

I also wipe down the blinds, because man do white blinds show everything! Once the sun moves to the other side of the house I’ll also wash the windows inside and out. Now that the sun is finally out, I would like to be able to see through the winter grunge that has covered them.

spring clean the kitchen

As you may have noticed, I was so excited to have a clean kitchen that I also baked up a small plate of cookies. :-)

Have you done any spring cleaning in your kitchen yet? What’s the toughest part to tackle?

Unfortunately, I now have to start getting dinner ready which will eventually mess up all my hard work, so I’ll be back to cleaning it up….again….later tonight.

Read more:

Wellness Mama also talks about her cleaning methods

What’s Under My Sink? at Kitchen Stewardship



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Save The Color For the Eggs. Your Kids Will Thank You.

You may not be able to tell by looking out your window, but it is finally spring!  And Easter is only a few days away.

Time for Easter eggs, baskets full of candy, bright colors – signs of new life.  But if life is what you’re concerned with you might want to take a second look at all those colors.

photo credit glogster.com

photo credit glogster.com

Colored food and candy is appealing, especially to small children.  We eat first with our eyes.  So naturally kids will be excited by a basket full of brightly colored treats.

A few jellybeans.  A handful of colored chocolates.  A marshmallow chick.  Innocent fun.  An ok treat here and there.  Right?

Not really.  Artificial coloring is very harmful…for everyone.

Even if you avoid the obvious brightly colored candies you still might be getting more artificial coloring in your diet than you think.  Crackers, macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, chips, cereal, jello, sweetened beverages, yogurt, ice cream, ketchup, fruit skins, meats.  The list goes on and on.  It is even in products such as toothpaste, shampoos and medicine.

A small amount of food dye can have a big impact.  Depending on the color and variety it can cause many kinds of tumors and cancer.  It can also cause damage to a growing child’s brain and lower IQ.

One of the biggest side effects of artificial coloring is hyperactivity and inattentiveness.  Does your child have some ADD/ADHD symptoms?  Are you struggling with behavioral/obedience problems?  Before you try to get a diagnosis start with your family’s diet.

I have experienced this first hand with my daughter.  After trial and error we discovered that she has a very strong reaction to any kind of food coloring.  It makes a huge impact on her behavior.

Do you feel bad taking away these “treats” from your child?  Try to look at the situation differently.  We have adopted a strict no food coloring policy for our kids.  It might be hard to say no to a few gummies or a sucker.  But this is the best “treat” we can give them…being able to feel good and have control over their minds and bodies.

photo credit robinhoodintegrativehealth.com

photo credit robinhoodintegrativehealth.com

My daughter is very smart, creative and funny.  I love allowing her to think clearly and let her true personality shine.  It’s heartbreaking when she can’t do that, when she seems out of control or in a fog.  And by allowing her to consume foods with artificial coloring I am taking away that freedom.  Not much of a treat is it?

The first step in tackling this problem is reading all food labels carefully and checking for harmful substances.  You might be surprised what you find.  Take a look at this list of ingredients.  Can you tell what this is?

“Skim milk, sugar, strawberry puree, whey, contains less than 2% of sodium tripolyphosphate, modified food starch, pasteurized milk and cream, sodium citrate, salt, artificial color, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and calcium propionate as preservatives, carrageenan, citric acid, cheese culture, sodium phosphate, natural flavor, artificial flavor, red 40, carob bean gum, vitamin a palmitate”

These are the ingredients in strawberry cream cheese.  Artificial color and red 40.  No thank you.

In addition to dyes and colors check for sodium benzoate.  It has the same effect on your health.

Once you eliminate foods with artificial coloring and dyes you can move on to making your own goodies.  Use real food to color your food.  Want to make something pink?  Use strawberry juice or jam.  How about green?  Try avocado.  Have fun experimenting with foods like blueberries, beets and carrots to add color to your baked goods.

Or better yet…leave out the color.  Who said mint ice cream should be green?  It’s actually white or yellow (depending on whether or not you add egg yolks).  If you really want colorful food reach for fruits and vegetables.  And leave the treats their true color.  Don’t worry, they’ll still taste great even if they aren’t neon colored.

photo credit thehotsheetblog.com

photo credit thehotsheetblog.com

Check those Easter baskets and your cupboards.  Get rid of anything that contains artificial colors or dyes.  You’re giving your family a wonderful gift and a fresh start by keeping these harmful substances out of their diet.  Save the artificial coloring for the Easter eggs.  Just be sure not to eat them.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Think Spring, Plan Your Pantry

If you’re anything like me, by the time February draws to a close you are so ready for spring!  But most of the time it still seems so far away.  The ground is likely covered with snow.  Everything is wet and sloppy.  The sun likes to hide.

You’re still eating lots of winter comfort foods and living off your freezer stock from last year.

peaches

As March approaches I’m anxious for fresh foods.  While they aren’t quite available yet, it’s time to start thinking about them.

Now is the perfect time to plan how you want to stock your pantry and freezer during the spring, summer and fall.  Doing so can save you money and keep your family well fed.

Maybe you already have a good inventory of what you preserved last year.  That is a great start.  Even if you don’t you can still start planning for the coming produce season now.

Here are general guidelines of when some produce is available in the area and some ideas of ways to preserve it.  Make a list of the ones you want, find recipes, put the plans in your calendar so you know when you’ll have to do it and stock up on all of your supplies.

When spring does finally decide to show up you’ll be ready to stock your pantry for a full year of healthy food.

Produce Season:

  • Early – mid June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus
  • Mid – late June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus, sugar snap peas, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry
  • Early – mid July: strawberry, asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, apricot, peach, cherry, nectarine
  • Mid – late July: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, peach, nectarine, corn, plum, melon
  • Early – mid August: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon
  • Mid – late August: zucchini, summer squash, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon, apples, pears,  cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Mid – late September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid October: apples, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage

Preserving Ideas:

  • Berries: jam, jelly, pancake/ice cream topping, frozen, pie, fruit leather, dried, relish/salsa, baked goods
  • Stone fruits: jam, jelly, frozen, canned, pie, dried, fruit butter
  • Zucchini/summer squash: salsa, tomato sauce, frozen, sweet bread
  • Apples/pears: canned, pies, sauce, butter
  • Tomatoes/peppers/onions: pasta sauce, chili sauce, salsa
  • Squash: bake and freeze
  • Corn/broccoli/cauliflower/peppers: frozen

apple butter

Recipe:

Apple Butter

makes 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 pts.

  • 4 1/2 qts. apples, peeled, cored and sliced (16-17 LARGE apples)
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 qt. apple cider
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
Cook apples with water until soft (5-10 min.).  Press through sieve or food mill on the finest setting.  Add the cider and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Cook on low until thick (about 3 hours).  Add spices.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Cookies: More Than Just A Christmas Tradition

When I was little I loved to sit in the kitchen while my mom baked.  I could just watch for hours.  She always had something delicious coming out of the oven, and I loved to see the process.

As soon as I could I wanted to join in the fun and start baking myself.  Whether it was rolling pie dough, frosting a cake or adding chocolate chips to the cookies it made me feel like I was helping and connecting with my mother…sharing one of her passions.

This was especially true at Christmas time.  Every year we made traditional Christmas cut out cookies.  Usually mom would make the dough and the kids got to roll, cut and decorate the cookies.

Sometimes all four of us helped.  And sometimes it was just me.  I would take on the challenge of decorating all of the cookies by myself if nobody else wanted to help.  If there was any way I could participate in the baking I would.

Thanks to my mom to this day I have a passion for baking (and writing about food and nutrition).  I am happy to be passing that passion on to my own children.  I am a firm believer in getting your kids in the kitchen from a very young age.  And what easier way to start than by making cookies?

You don’t have to wait until your kids are older to have them help.  My daughter helped me with her first batch of Christmas cookies before she was one!  And she has loved our countless hours together in the kitchen ever since.

Now she is four and is a bit more help.  It is so fun to watch her progress every year in her decorating skills from haphazard sprinkling to careful placement of chocolate chips for eyes on a snowman.

Don’t let gender get in the way of your baking fun, either.  My one year old son already has a passion for baking.  He begs to bake every single day almost as soon as he gets out of bed.  Which is how we ended up making our first batch of Christmas cookies this year just a few days after Thanksgiving.

Making Christmas cookies is a tradition I had with my mom and one that I now have with my kids.  But it’s not just a tradition.  It’s a way for us to spend time together.  It’s a way for them to learn some basic baking skills.  It’s a way for them to feel helpful and needed.  And it’s a way for me to teach them about homemade, real food.

The look and taste of our cookies have changed over the years along with our view on health and nutrition.  No more bleached flour and margarine cookies.  We use real ingredients and make our own frosting.  We’re still working on replacing those lovely sprinkles.  But regardless of the ingredients our tradition stays the same.

Spend some time in the kitchen with your kids this Christmas.  Let them make a mess.  Let them have fun.  Let them be creative.

Maybe you’ll spark a passion in them for baking.  Maybe not.  But you’ll definitely make some lasting memories and have an opportunity to connect with your children.  Making Christmas cookies together is a great Christmas tradition…eating them is a fun one too.

Worried about creating unhealthy habits by baking treats?  Have no fear.  Feed your kids real, nourishing food from the start and they will develop a taste for healthy food.  My son was grain and sugar free until he turned one.  Now at 19 months I can’t even get him to taste a bite of anything we bake.

Even if your kids do enjoy the treats it’s a great opportunity to teach them about moderation and the importance of nourishing foods.

What Christmas traditions do you have?  Do you have a favorite cookie recipe for Christmas?  How do you get your kids in the kitchen and teach them about real food?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Thankful At Every Age

We are all busy.  We all get stressed, anxious and worn out, especially around the holidays.  There are parties, kids, meals, work, errands, etc.

Add to an already crazy life the onset of colds and flu, homework and school schedules and attempting to keep your holiday festivities full of real, healthy food.  I’m guilty myself of trying to do too much and then feeling overwhelmed.  A negative attitude sets in and life gets even tougher.

This year I want to make our holidays different.  What if instead of trying to take on the world we simply stop and give thanks?

This is a great lesson to teach your children.  We can and should be thankful at every age.

I took a moment recently to sit down with my four-year old daughter to find out what she’s thankful for.  She made her own thankful list (as you can see).  Then I did the same.

It was a great exercise to do together.  And it made me smile to see that our lists were quite similar.  Right down to being thankful for ice cream.

Focusing on what we have instead of what we want or what is going wrong is wonderful at Thanksgiving.  But it shouldn’t stop there.

Try focusing on being thankful when you’re making your Christmas lists or buying presents.  Try focusing on being thankful when the little ones are sick and you’re not sure you can manage one more sleepless night.

photo courtesy of my daughter

Try focusing on being thankful EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It is a great habit that will impact your whole day and have a positive influence on your children and everyone around you.

It doesn’t cost money.  It doesn’t take much time.  It doesn’t involve a change in your diet.  It is not complicated.

But it can help you lead a happier and healthier life.

Take a moment today to think about, talk about or write about what you’re thankful for.  You may be surprised by how blessed you really are and how much joy there is in your life that you’ve been overlooking.

Start with some of the big things like family, friends, a good job.  Then every day start focusing on the little things like a healthy home cooked meal or a refrigerator stocked with farm fresh eggs or a hug and kiss from your spouse and kids.

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of each day.  This holiday season challenge yourself to truly be thankful.  Then teach your children to do the same.  It’s a healthy habit that can be done at any age.

What are some of the little things you’re thankful for?  How do you focus your family’s attention on being thankful instead of always wanting around the holidays and throughout the year?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

When It’s Cold Outside Get Crafty Inside

I’ll be honest.  I’m not a fan of cold weather.  I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life.  But I still don’t like the cold.

I do believe it’s healthy to get outside as much as you can…so we do.  But it’s also nice sometimes to stay inside.  So as soon as the weather gets cooler I’m looking for fun indoor activities.

Around here that means it’s time to get crafty.  Here are some easy fall crafts and activities to do with your kids or by yourself!

  1. Paint with fruits and vegetables – Slice any fruit or vegetable to use as a stamp.  You get all different shapes and sizes.  Plus you can use up produce that is getting old.
  2. Make placemats with wax paper – Use leaves or color a picture and place them between two pieces of wax paper.  Iron the paper until both sides stick together.  Trim the edges.
  3. Make all of your fall/Thanksgiving decorations from nature – Go on a scavenger hunt in your yard or a local park to find sticks, pine-cones, leaves, rocks, etc.  Then get creative making decorations with them.
  4. Make Christmas cards and gifts – It may be early for some, but if you start making cards and gifts now you’ll be less stressed when Christmas approaches.  Plus you’ll have unique, heartfelt, homemade gifts for your friends and family.  Homemade baked goods and spice blends make great presents, as do crafts that you and your children create.
  5. Paint pottery – Find a local paint-your-own pottery studio (like Naked Plates) and create your own masterpiece.  This is a great thing to do with your kids.  Make a serving dish together and use it at all of your holiday gatherings.  Your kids will be so proud.
  6. Make Halloween costumes – There’s still time!  Instead of spending a lot of money to buy a costume, let your kids help make their own.  See how creative you can be using what you have at home.  Is that a fairy princess chef I see?
  7. Recreate the first Thanksgiving – Have your kids help make pilgrim and Indian costumes.  Read about the first Thanksgiving and put on a play.  You can even make a mini feast of what they may have eaten.
  8. Make a countdown chain – Make paper chains to count down to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Then let your kids cut one ring off each day.
  9. Make art with food…and eat it! – Provide an assortment of sliced fruits, vegetables, nuts, crackers and dips (nut butters, pesto, hummus, etc.) and let your child get creative.  Make a picture on a plate (maybe a face or an animal or even something abstract).  Then eat it!  You can take a picture to capture their creation.
  10. Write a book – Help your child write their own book.  Fold blank paper.  Let them create a story.  If they are young you can write the story as they tell it.  If they are older they can write it themselves.  Then they can illustrate it.  After the book is finished read it together…over and over.  It’s a great way to help them be creative.

Fall is a wonderful time to be outside, breathe the crisp air and see the beauty of nature.  But it’s also a great time to be creative with your kids inside.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot or take a lot of time to stir their imagination and spend quality time together.  Plus you can get some of your holiday preparation done in advance.

What sort of fun activities do you do indoors once the weather becomes cooler?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Preserving the multitude of summer’s bounty

{a post by Mel}

Boy, have I gotten myself in over my head!

It’s normal for me to do a ton of canning and this year is no exception. However, I took a bunch of leftover produce from a local farmer’s CSA to preserve, and as a part of those leftovers I got approximately 50 pounds of jalapeños!

Yes, you read that right.

Jalapeñosphoto credit – quazeck

I don’t even like jalapenos and now I am spending HOURS canning and preserving them. I was very nervous as to what I was going to with them all, but thanks to some friends and Google I came up with a bunch of ideas!

My first task was Cowboy Candy, which a friend suggested. I thought it would make great gifts for some of my family members who love hot foods, and I am anxious to see how they turn out. I’ve been told it is best to wait two weeks to try it, so we shall see what my family thinks.

My second recipe was Hot Pepper Jam which I found the idea for online and the directions were right in the package of jam pectin I purchased. (I had a couple different brands and both of them had recipes) I did taste this and it was really good! My husband reminded me that back when we were dating (before I went dairy free) we purchased hot pepper jam at the store and mixed it with cream cheese to make a dip for our crackers. It was SO yummy!

cowboy candy

I have other plans for the other half of my jalapenos, which include drying and grinding some into powder and pickling some of the others.

In addition to the jalapenos I got lots of other produce I am preserving as well. I am trying to take advantage of all the opportunities to store food for winter and have had good luck using Google searches to come up with new recipes. So if you are overwhelmed with a particular veggie or have a new veggie you don’t know what to do with don’t be afraid to Google or ask your
friends for recipes.

I have had so much fun learning new recipes, trying new foods, and filling up my pantry with lots of goodies for the winter!

What are you currently preserving? And what have you done with a multitude of jalapenos?



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Grand Rapids Sewing Resources

{guest post by Tammy}

While we’ve been having fantastic spring weather here, there are still rainy, cool days that are perfect for a day spent sewing!

sew little time

photo credit: 97335141@N00

I love to sew, but I don’t love to spend a lot of money for my projects. Designer patterns and fabric are lovely, but usually not in my budget!

Here are a few resources to help you save money as you sew:

Smith-Owen Sewing & Quilting Center – great source for new and used sewing machines. A while back I saved up for a new machine and ended up buying a quality used machine. I got a machine with more bells and whistles than I was dreaming of—and a great warranty to boot! Smith-Owen also has a pretty large selection of quilting cottons.

Sign up for their email list and you’ll receive an email once a month alerting you to sales and classes available.

 

Lakeshore Sewing– I don’t have a lot of experience with them, only because I don’t live very near their stores. Similar to Smith-Owen, they offer new and used sewing machines, sewing machine repair, quilting cottons, and classes.

 

Field’s Fabrics – Want to move beyond quilting cottons? Field’s Fabrics has a great selection of garment fabrics. Sign up for their email list and you’ll get one monthly email with a link to the current month’s sales.

Sewing Machine

photo credit: cedwardmoran

Hobby Lobby – I’m not so much a fan of their fabrics, especially the cottons. However, they do have cute buttons and trims, and a fairly good selection of notions. If the item you are purchasing isn’t a sale, make sure to use a coupon (available from the paper or online).

 

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores – I see a lot of online crafters snubbing their nose at Jo-Ann’s. However, I don’t. They offer quite a large selection of fabrics, plus a full range of sewing tools, notions, trims, and buttons. Sign up for their mailing list to receive coupons. I never buy anything full-price at Jo-Ann’s. If you need patterns, wait for their sales – and you can get patterns from $.99 to $1.50. Some seamstresses choose not to use the patterns they sell, but I think the pattern companies have made great strides in the last few years to be relevant.

 

Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores – Thrift stores are great resources for vintage patterns, and fabrics to repurpose. I love to sew with vintage sheets, and have done a few projects with t-shirts as well.

 

Yard sales – OK, so I pretty much despise yard sales! But, if my neighbor is having a yard sale I might walk across the street – and last year my neighbor was selling fabric! For $5 I got a nice stack of fabric. So far I’ve made a dress and a skirt for my daughter, plus some bibs for my niece. And I still have quite a bit left! If you love to yard sale and you sew, be on the lookout for fabric, patterns, notions, and more.

Sewing doesn’t have to be expensive.

Sure, it can be more expensive than buying ready-to-wear clothes (or decorations) but with sales, coupons, and smart shopping, it doesn’t have to be!

 

How do you save money buying sewing supplies?

Tammy has lived in Grand Rapids for nearly 7 years, and is a wife and stay at home mom. She enjoys learning new ways to save money, crafting, and cooking.

 



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Using a Freezer to Save Money and Stay Healthy

I love my freezers.

I have an upright freezer, a chest freezer and a small freezer attached to my refrigerator. And they are all full most of the time.

There are even some days I wish I had another one.

Why do I love my freezers so much? A freezer can save you time and money, and it can keep you and your family eating healthier.
freezer_1

Freezers Make Life Simpler and Healthier

I love to cook and I love to bake.

But with two small children I don’t have time to cook elaborate meals or make a new batch of baked goods every day. So when I do have the time I make large batches of food and then freeze them for the days I need something quick.

This also ensures that I feed my family healthy food.

On days that I’m in a rush I don’t have to grab something processed, or packaged. I can just grab something from my freezer that is homemade, and this helps me the most when it comes to breakfast.

I keep things like homemade muffins, bread, bagels, granola bars, breakfast cookies and granola in my freezer at all times. Then I can just pull something out the night before and pair it with some fresh fruit or yogurt for breakfast in the morning. Simple, healthy, and  breakfast is ready whenever you need it.

It is also very convenient to have some dinners in the freezer. Stocking things like cooked ground beef, cooked shredded chicken, sloppy joes, casseroles and homemade broth in the freezer allows for quick and easy dinners. The next time you’re making lasagna for dinner, make two. You’ll be glad to have it on hand for a busy day when you don’t have time to cook, but want a nice meal.

 

Saving Money

DSC_3029Eating high quality food can be expensive, but it is cheaper when you buy in bulk. I buy most of my meat in bulk each spring when we buy a large portion of beef that lasts the whole year. I also buy quite a few chickens every year that I cut up and package in individual pieces. This year I also bought a half pig. It is so much cheaper and healthier to buy good quality meat in bulk. Plus it’s nice to never have to worry about not having meat in the house.

It is also a big money saver to buy produce when it is in season.

All summer I stock up on fresh, local produce at the farmer’s market and grow some in my own garden and freeze it. Then we enjoy it all year long. Even in March, we are still enjoying strawberries, blueberries and cherries from last summer! We even have 6 gallons of beans from our garden left. This is the best way to get produce at its cheapest. You don’t have to buy things like frozen fruit or vegetables during the winter and you’ll also be enjoying food that was harvested at its peak all year long.

I try to make as much of our food from scratch as possible, and even things like bread, crackers, baked goods, snacks, broth, soup, etc. can be made in big batches and frozen. This is a great way to save money.

 

Freezer Organization

freezer_4There are so many things to stock your freezer with; produce, meat, grains, homemade baked goods and meals.

By the end of summer my freezers are usually packed, so how do I keep track of what is in them? Simple.

I have a dry erase board on each freezer that lists all of the contents. Every time I put something in or take something out I mark it on the board so I always have a list of exactly what is in my freezer. When I need to figure out what to have for breakfast I can just look at the board and see what breakfast items I have on hand. If I’m trying to plan a dinner I can check what meat we have and if there is anything that needs to be used up. I can also see if I’m running low on any item so I can restock.

 

Spring Cleaning

My freezers usually don’t have as much in them come springtime as  we have used up a lot of our produce and meat. This makes it a good time of the year to go through and use up older items (Hmmm…I made those muffins 6 months ago. I guess that’s what we’re having for breakfast tomorrow).

It’s also a great time to defrost your freezer.

The fewer items you have to keep frozen during the process the better.

Then you’ll be ready to restock when summer comes and fresh, local food is in abundance once more. After you’re done preserving and stocking bulk meat you can fill your freezer with baked goods all winter long.

A large freezer (or two or three) is a wonderful investment that will save you money and keep you healthy. It’s easy to organize and can make your life much simpler.

 

Do you use a freezer to help save money on healthy foods?

 

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.