Some of you have already heard me mention The Pioneer Woman. She has one of my all-time favorite blogs about homeschooling, photography, cooking and just life in general. She’s homey and personal and “real”. I believe I could share an iced tea or a Coke with this woman and trade stories at the kitchen table. [...]
Some of you have already heard me mention The Pioneer Woman. She has one of my all-time favorite blogs about homeschooling, photography, cooking and just life in general. She’s homey and personal and “real”. I believe I could share an iced tea or a Coke with this woman and trade stories at the kitchen table. That’s how well she writes. She makes you feel as though you “know” her.
She has recently published her first cookbook and if you have ever visited her site and gone through the recipes, you will know why I am recommending this as a fine Christmas gift. I have already made a gift of one to myself. — lol– I think you would enjoy her blog and her cookbook and since it’s on sale, the cookbook would be a frugal and well-received Christmas gift!
I couldn’t describe this book any better than Ree does, herself; so I’ll share her description which will help you understand exactly why I love her blog.
“My name is Ree.
Some folks know me as The Pioneer Woman.
After years of living in Los Angeles, I made a pit stop in my hometown in Oklahoma on the way to a new, exciting life in Chicago. It was during my stay at home that I met Marlboro Man, a mysterious cowboy with steely blue eyes and a muscular, work-honed body. A strict vegetarian, I fell hard and fast, and before I knew it we were married and living on his ranch in the middle of nowhere, taking care of animals, and managing a brood of four young children. I had no idea how I’d wound up there, but I knew it was exactly where I belonged.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks is a homespun collection of photography, rural stories, and scrumptious recipes that have defined my experience in the country. I share many of the delicious cowboy-tested recipes I’ve learned to make during my years as an accidental ranch wife—including Rib-Eye Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce, Lasagna, Fried Chicken, Patsy’s Blackberry Cobbler, and Cinnamon Rolls—not to mention several “cowgirl-friendly” dishes, such as Sherried Tomato Soup, Olive Cheese Bread, and CrÈme BrÛlÉe. I show my recipes in full color, step-by-step detail, so it’s as easy as pie to follow along.
You’ll also find colorful images of rural life: cows, horses, country kids, and plenty of chaps-wearing cowboys.
I hope you get a kick out of this book of mine. I hope it makes you smile. I hope the recipes bring you recognition, accolades, and marriage proposals. And I hope it encourages even the most harried urban cook to slow down, relish the joys of family, nature, and great food, and enjoy life.”
Homeschooling always brings me these sorts of unanswered questions – the sort I never knew I wanted to know. I’m definitely not sure if we can grow avocado trees in Nebraska. We can eat them here. And Sweetest Daughter Ever #4 is most definitely convinced that we can grow one. Personally, I always imagined them [...]
Homeschooling always brings me these sorts of unanswered questions – the sort I never knew I wanted to know. I’m definitely not sure if we can grow avocado trees in Nebraska. We can eat them here. And Sweetest Daughter Ever #4 is most definitely convinced that we can grow one. Personally, I always imagined them growing in an unbearably hot, humid place. Okay, maybe we can grow avocados in Nebraska. Not sure how they will winter, though.
We attempted two science experiments this week and that is always risky. You know that story where they tell you that Thomas Edison failed 2000 times before he managed to invent the light bulb? We may actually be descendants of Mr. Edison’s. Except, we don’t have his stamina. – lol– Although, I must admit, this daring girl is two for two, this week.
Her second experiment illustrated how water and nutrients move through the roots, stem and leaves of a plant. Surely, you all remember the joy of watching red dye climb up a stalk of celery. It’s an old standby and I’m happy to say, we nailed it. She was elated!
The first experiment was the one that had me worried. Being the Becky Homecky sort of woman that I am, pitting an avocado is simply not a problem. This I can do. It’s what comes next, that has me feeling less than confident. Our youngest little scientist, though, bless her heart, has no doubt that we will be harvesting avocados from our very own tree. Look at that face. Are you going to tell her she can’t? – lol
So, we thoroughly washed all the schmutz off the outside of the avocado pit, stuck 3 toothpicks around its perimeter and immersed the end into a canning jar of water. The shell has begun to split now, just like the book said it would. The thing is, avocados aren’t just plants, they’re trees. And at best, if it were to fruit, that takes a decade or more. She will have graduated from high school. Most everything I have read online, leads me to believe we can maybe grow this plant inside, but I think I am going to be taping avocados on there forever. Again, I say, look at that face. She’s totally worth it. – lol
If any of you avid gardeners have some avocado growing tips, we’d love to get them. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the happiness of a budding scientist with enough faith for the both of us.
The fastest, most deliciously satisfying dip! It’s easy and yummy whether you have it for a snack or Sunday night supper. We serve it with white corn chips, but you should use your family’s favorite. These ingredients are almost always in my kitchen, so we can whip up a platter any time someone stops by [...]
The fastest, most deliciously satisfying dip! It’s easy and yummy whether you have it for a snack or Sunday night supper. We serve it with white corn chips, but you should use your family’s favorite. These ingredients are almost always in my kitchen, so we can whip up a platter any time someone stops by and have often done so.
All you need is a platter to build it on and these simple ingredients.
- 1 or 2 cans of refried beans (adjust this amount to your personal preference)
- (1) 16 oz carton sour cream, (we normally use light, but have used full-fat and non-fat with great results)
- 1 packet (any brand) taco seasoning mix
- 1 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, (we tend to lean toward the “more is better” side of cheese – lol)
- 1 or 2 chopped tomatoes
- 2 green onions with tops, chopped
Start by spreading the refried beans onto your platter. Scootch them out to within an inch or so of the edge and try to make the layer a uniform thickness across the plate.
For the second layer, use a small mixing bowl and stir the sour cream and taco seasoning together. Once it is mixed, spread the sour cream mixture over the refried beans.
Top the sour cream mixture with a generous layer of shredded cheddar cheese. It will make all passersby very excited! – lol
Beautiful granddaughter #1 loves tomatoes as much as grandma, so the next layer was 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped.
Top it off with the diced green onions and it will look as pretty and appetizing as it is delicious! It only takes a few minutes to prepare and it is always a crowd pleaser!
This recipe is well received at youth group meetings, football parties or snack attacks. You could easily add ingredients that your family enjoys, like black olives, a layer of guacamole, minced jalapeno, etc. Be creative and customize it to your personal tastes or just follow this recipe to the letter. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!
I am not one of those people who is bothered much by age. Not that age doesn’t affect me, physically, like everyone else — oh does it affect me! I have the same creaks and hot flashes as the rest of my generation and I have had a personal relationship with Miss Clairol since my [...]
I am not one of those people who is bothered much by age. Not that age doesn’t affect me, physically, like everyone else — oh does it affect me! I have the same creaks and hot flashes as the rest of my generation and I have had a personal relationship with Miss Clairol since my mid-twenties. When others have chided me that I should not worry about it and that gray hair is a sign of wisdom, I merrily reply that that would most certainly be false advertising. lol But, I have never been one to count the number of birthdays or worry about how many there are. So, the titles that come with age, not only do not bug me, I hope I am wearing them as badges of honor. My favorite is Grandma. Just look at that picture! Who wouldn’t want to be grandma???!!!! And he’s just the latest model. I have two adorable granddaughters, as well. I may not be a gracefully, graying granny, but I sure do love this job!
David and I will have been married 26 years, this Wednesday, and as I look back over all we have done together, our kids are, without question, the best things we have ever been able, with God’s divine intervention, to accomplish; and I am so blessed to be their mom. Now, as I am able to spend my time with the three that are still at home with us, the older ones bring me grandbabies. Isn’t God amazing!!? Proverbs 15:6 says, “Children’s children are a crown to the aged…” That must certainly point to a small taste of heaven, here on earth. You’ll be hearing more about our whole family over time, but as I kissed the cheek of this sweet little guy after church, this morning, I was inspired to share my bounty. So, there is no deep philosophical meaning to this post. Just the rapt joy of a very blessed woman/wife/ mom/ grandma.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I hope you will all be well and blessed to have the ones you love nearby. Happy Thanksgiving.
I am not the stereotypical female shopper. As a matter of fact, the other females in our family hate shopping with me. I am DEFINITELY not a window shopper. I like to know what I’m going for, go in and get it, and get back out. – lol – Not much fun for die-hard shoppers. [...]
I am not the stereotypical female shopper. As a matter of fact, the other females in our family hate shopping with me. I am DEFINITELY not a window shopper. I like to know what I’m going for, go in and get it, and get back out. – lol – Not much fun for die-hard shoppers.
What I do love, however is bargains. And I will spend some time “window shopping” the Internet, when time permits, to find savings on items we need or will be purchasing for gifts. I thought I would pass along a few I found this morning. Remember, you will enter these coupon codes during the checkout process and your total will be adjusted.
With a $49 minimum order, Coupon code AFF10 will get $10 off a first time order of diapers or formula. And for orders of $49 or more shipping is FREE every day. This one should be good until December 31, 2009.
- K-Mart Online
Use coupon code KMART5OFF50 to receive $5 off any order of $50 or more. Plus, they offer free shipping on orders of $49 or more every day.
- Lane Bryant
Save 25% off your entire order, but hurry; this sale is only through November 15, 2009. Coupon Code is 050002658.
Get 15% off your entire order using coupon code HOLIDAY15. This is only good until November 18.
Get 15% off entire order using coupon code PCTHANJC. This code is good until December 31, 2009.
TWO DAYS ONLY!! November 15th and 16th, save 30% off regular-priced items, additional 15% off sale items and additional 40% off clearance items. This is a great bargain! Put it on your calendar, so you don’t forget. The coupon code is 42VIP and will only work on the 15th and 16th.
Psalm 100 A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. [...]
A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
We’re freshly moved and almost completely unpacked. As I sit here this morning, it occurs to me that we don’t have a Blessing Box this year. When our grown daughters were small we started this tradition. Over the years, we have had times when we were so caught up in life and just getting through it, that we didn’t really stop to enjoy everything in a day that is a blessing, a gift. There are so many, no matter what your present circumstances. A Blessing Box is a way, even for just a moment, to take a deep breath and be thankful, to stand still in the middle of your day and say, “Thank you, Lord. I know you’re in this and I am so blessed to ______________ . You fill in the blank.
Ideally, you will make this box, as a family, on Thanksgiving; and then have the whole year to get it ready for next Thanksgiving. You could hurry and whip one up for this year, but this is my personal experience when we have done that in “off” years. People tend to try to “fill the box” and so something is lost in the heartfelt thanks of the moment. It’s more about the box than being thankful. My suggestion is to work together on Thanksgiving Day and make it beautiful. Then take a year to “count your blessings”. Next Thanksgiving, when you open that box and pour your “mountain of blessings” in the center of the table to read, you and your family will be reminded of just how much you have been blessed and cared for and as you read through what others have written, you will share and relive those awesome memories.
I don’t have pictures handy of the ones we have done in the past, so I have scanned the Internet for a few picture ideas to share with you. The images on this page are some great decorated box ideas from the web. With any luck, my menopausal brain will remember to come back and post the picture of the one we do this year. If not, then my sister or one of the kids can remind me. lol
Here’s all you will need:
- cardboard box (large enough to hold a year’s worth of blessings)
- construction paper, wrapping paper, fabric, paint, markers, crayons, tape, glue
- rhinestones, sequins, foam shapes, shells, glitter, ribbon or other decorative items
- plain white paper
- pencil or pen
- 12 – 18 inches of string or yarn
- Construction is pretty simple. You will want to wrap or paint your box and decorate it. Just remember to leave a way to open the box, later. Wrap the lid separately so it can be lifted off, or leave the bottom unwrapped, etc. Our kids always had very specific ideas about what should be on a Blessing Box and I bet yours will, too. They can write verses on it. They can make or glue pictures of things they are thankful for on it. Or they may just want it to look like a treasure box or a jeweled box for a king. Their minds are so creative and if you let them, they will create something very significant, telling you all along the way, why they are doing what they are doing. This project allows for so much good conversation and those “teachable moments” where you remind them that everything we have, all that we are, and ever will be, is because of God’s love, mercy and grace.
- Somewhere, high on the side, or in the top carefully cut a slot that is big enough to slide slips of paper through.
- Use your white paper to cut small slips of paper, maybe 2″x3″, whatever works best for the little fingers in your family.
- Knot one end of your string around a pen or pencil and tape the other end of the string to the top of your box. That way you are never left without something to write down the blessings.
- Place the box in a commonly used area of your home. Set the stack of paper slips next to it and remember to check periodically, to see if more need to be added. (They will disappear very quickly at first. - lol)
As you or a family member passes the box, you will stop and consciously think of ways you have been blessed. Jot them on a slip of the paper and tuck it inside the box until Thanksgiving. You will have a veritable avalanche of praises when you open it up. It’s a simple way of reminding your children (and yourself) how very blessed all of us are and to be thankful to the One who made it possible for us to enjoy that bounty. If carefully constructed, you can use the same Blessing Box every year; or if the creating is as much a blessing for your family as the rest of the celebration, you may want to make a new box each Thanksgiving. Either way, use this inexpensive and simple way to share some great activity with your family and reflect all year long on how truly blessed you are.
Help me to remember to give You thanks in all things, to see your Hand in every situation. Help me not to be so caught up in life that I miss the opportunity to see every blessing, big and small, and thank you for it. Thank you for the love of family and the times we can celebrate together and enjoy the blessings of fellowship. Thank you for the chance to teach our children to be thankful and recognize that they are blesssed.
Most of you know by now that we moved a little over a month ago. Of course all the essentials have long been unpacked, but there are still boxes in my loft (and I mean dozens of boxes) filled with books. These include my cookbook collection. Yesterday afternoon, I cracked one open and was excited [...]
Most of you know by now that we moved a little over a month ago. Of course all the essentials have long been unpacked, but there are still boxes in my loft (and I mean dozens of boxes) filled with books. These include my cookbook collection. Yesterday afternoon, I cracked one open and was excited to see it was the one that had been housing all my favorite recipes. I pulled one out from my Sue Gregg collection and it immediately fell open to an oft-used page — Lentil Rice Casserole. I’m excited to share this with you because:
- I made it for supper last night and I want more , right now!
- It is a great frugal recipe for a hearty family meal.
- It is the perfect addition to a Christmas gift basket.
Let’s start with the recipe and then I’ll show you how to package this for a heart-warming and delicious gift.
Lentil Rice Casserole
Yield: 6 servings
- 1/2 c. brown rice
- 3/4 c. lentils, red or green, both work great
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. basil
- 1/4 c. dried onion flakes
- 3 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 Tbl. Spike Seasoning , (This is the one change I make to the original recipe. I buy Spike locally, but you can order it online, as well. )
- 3 c. water
- 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese, optional
- fat free sour cream, optional
- chopped tomatoes, optional
Mix lentils, rice, onion flakes, all seasonings and water in a 2 or 3 qt baking dish that has a lid. If your dish doesn’t have a lid, you will need foil to seal it tightly, when baking.
Bake in 300° oven for 2 hours or until lentils are tender and water is absorbed.
Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and place back in oven for 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt.
We serve this with fat-free sour cream and chopped tomatoes as toppings, but it is delicious plain, too. It also makes an excellent burrito filling.Serve this with steamed broccoli or a side salad and a wonderful, warm piece of crusty bread and it is a satisfying, comfort food meal. Yum!
Using Lentils and Rice in a Christmas Gift Basket
I was so excited when I realized that all the dry ingredients for this delicious meal perfectly fill a one-pint canning jar. I mixed the beans, rice, seasonings (crush the bouillon) and onion flakes and then added them to my canning jar. Next, I cut a quick circle from a scrap of fabric and centered that over the top of the jar lid. Adding the screw band to the lid gathered the fabric just enough to make a pretty presentation. You could add a bow or a raffia tie and attach the tag. Now just make a gift tag that includes how to use your mix and the recipe, so they can make it on their own again, later.
Enjoy a budget-friendly and hearty meal with your family. Then surprise the people you love with this thoughtful meal- in-a-jar, as a part of a Christmas gift basket.
I had my very first encounter with butternut squash, yesterday. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to squash. Maybe it has something to do with the way the name sounds — squash. Just doesn’t bring delicious pictures to mind when you say it, does it? Squ-aaaaaa-sh. lol Anyway, I’ve used zucchini quite a [...]
I had my very first encounter with butternut squash, yesterday. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to squash. Maybe it has something to do with the way the name sounds — squash. Just doesn’t bring delicious pictures to mind when you say it, does it? Squ-aaaaaa-sh. lol Anyway, I’ve used zucchini quite a bit, and I love spaghetti squash, though most of the rest of my family won’t touch it. I wanted to try something different and in a healthier vein, so as I was walking down the produce aisle, this silly butternut squash started calling to me. Next thing I know, its in my cart and I’m buying a butternut squash. Keep in mind until now, I have never tasted one, much less cooked one. I figured if nothing else, it’s a pretty sort of fallish, gourdish kind of thing and I will work it into an arrangement. — lol
So, the squash and I made it home safely, put the rest of the groceries away and then it just sat there on the counter, staring at me. Now what? I decided to go in the other room where it couldn’t see me. Luckily, my computer was in there, so I was able to do a little research.
You all know in times of recipe trouble I turn first to Recipezaar, and yesterday was no exception. I got a pretty good feel for how to cook butternut squash while I was there, but I knew I was going to be serving it with cod and I wanted something a little more savory. The recipes I found all seemed to incorporate sugar, more like sweet potato dishes. I decided to wing it. Always a good technique for serving a brand new dish, right?
Here’s what I came up with. It was delicious, by the way.
Yield: 6 servings
- one butternut squash
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 c. melted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
I cut the squash in half and scooped out the seeds. (It has the most lovely golden-orange color inside.) Next I had to peel it. I started out trying to remove the peel like any normal person would, with a knife. But the curvaceous nature of a butternut squash, coupled with the thickness of the shell make it a little difficult to peel without just sort of hacking off chunks of it. Didn’t seem like the best course of action. I tried peeling towards me and then even away from me like when I use …
Lightbulb! I can use a vegetable peeler! I think. After a little experimenting, I managed to peel the second half of the squash much more neatly with the vegetable peeler. So, heretoforward, I proclaim that trusty instrument as the tool of choice for butternut squash peeling.
I sliced the two peeled halves into about 1/2 inch strips and then cubed those. I put all the pieces into my round baking dish and got together some items to season it.
I melted the 1/4 c. butter in the microwave and then added the vanilla, nutmeg, salt and pepper. After stirring them all together, I poured the mixture over my cubed butternut squash and tossed it to make sure all the pieces were coated. Then I covered the dish and baked it for 1 hour in a 350º oven.
I will definitely be making this again. Everyone in the household ate it and though in David’s opinion, “nothing can have too much sugar”, not adding sugar worked out beautifully. The squash has a sort of natural sweetness and the hint of nutmeg rounded out this yummy side dish.
I served it with cod and steamed broccoli. It was a healthy, delicious meal that looked beautiful and full of color on the plate.
So, don’t be afraid to try something new. If a piece of produce is shouting at you from across the aisle, put it in one of those plastic produce bags, so no one else hears, and then bring it home. Surprise yourself and your family with a tasty new dish from your own happy test kitchen! You’ll do great!
Yes, there are only 44 days left, but no worries, you’ll be fine. Instead of stressing over the gifts, planning and shopping, remember to take the time to enjoy friends and family and celebrate the gift of Jesus. It’s easy to get caught up in the world’s frenzy this time of year, but you [...]
Yes, there are only 44 days left, but no worries, you’ll be fine. Instead of stressing over the gifts, planning and shopping, remember to take the time to enjoy friends and family and celebrate the gift of Jesus. It’s easy to get caught up in the world’s frenzy this time of year, but you really can give some wonderful gifts without breaking the bank, focus your family on the true meaning of Christmas and enjoy the festivities, instead of fretting over them.
In 2005, I started a tradition in our family that was so well received and was a thorough joy for me to produce and give. I made a family cookbook and you can do it, too. It’s simple, personal and something that continues to give throughout the year. Each year, I make new pages for the recipients to add to their book.
All you will need is:
- a 3-ring binder with the plastic pocket on the front
- your favorite family recipes
- sheet protectors
- a computer with word processing software
- images of family and friends
- the stories and memories that your recipes evoke
For the first edition of my cookbook, I wrote to family members and asked for recipes that had significance or meaning to them or for ones that I remembered from childhood and did not have copies of. I also used my own recipe files.
As I typed up the recipes, I added pictures of the people who made them or loved to eat them, and added memories about the recipes or people in anecdotes on that page.
All that’s left after you layout your cookbook, is the assembly. Print it out and put it all together in the binder. I slipped two pages, back-to-back, into a sleeve protector and inserted that into the 3-ring binder. It preserves the pages and makes cleanups simple if something spatters when assembling a recipe.
Each cookbook had a personalized cover with the recipient’s name and a graphic that was representative of their own tastes. Every Christmas, I can put additional pages under the tree and share more great family memories. Here is a link to the first cookbook, so you have an example of how I put it together. FAMILY COOKBOOK (This file is the entire first cookbook, so give it a minute to load. It should open a new window, so you can come back here and read some more, while you wait.) The cover was not included in this example, since each was customized to the individual recipient. Get creative and you’ll come up with some great ideas for your covers. Slide them in the pocket on the front of your binder and your project is complete. This gift is simple and inexpensive to produce, plus it’s bound to be a hit at a family gift exchange.
The second idea I am using for Christmas, this year, is for our 7 yr old daughter and two granddaughters. All of them love to be in the kitchen and are great “helpers”. Our 7 yr old has requested her own apron, because mine are “too big” for her. I spoke to their mom and she concurs that the granddaughters would love these, too. I found these adorable patterns for vintage aprons on Ebay and now with a trip to my scrap bag, I can wrap three more great Christmas gifts without spending a ton of money. Once the sewing is complete, I’ll post pictures of the finished products.
I hope to have time to post other ideas for inexpensive Christmas gifts that will be warmly received by those you love. In the meantime, any of you that have ideas are welcome to post them here, in the comments. We can learn and save money when we help each other.
Get creative, have some fun and make some memories for your Christmas morning celebration. I’ll be back soon with more ideas.