Thursday, April 28

Balsamic Roasted Radishes - Recipe


Oh my yum! Really! I'm not much of a radish fan, but when my daughter asked to plant them this year I couldn't say no. Especially because I know they are super easy to grow and it would be so exciting for her to watch her hard work and effort pay off.

She planted the entire package.

Pretty sure every single radish grew.



You can see the small seedlings coming up here. The second bed wasn't even filled yet and we had sprouts of radishes.





This is our second harvest. The first she ate right at the garden bed after spraying them down with the hose. There's no way I would tell my kid not to eat a vegetable, even if it still had some dirt on it. If you look below the radish bunch to the right, you can see our spinach almost ready to go. It really is so exciting!


 Just for fun, here's my youngest doing her garden work. She's such a trooper. Always wanting to help and do whatever her momma is doing. I love having the help too!

Ok, on to the actual recipe...


Balsamic Roasted Radishes
1 Bunch of Fresh Radishes
1 tsp Coconut Oil
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) Set oven to 450. If using a cast iron skillet, grease it with the coconut oil and place in the oven to warm up.

2) Cut off the root tips and discard (or feed it to your chickens like we did). Cut off the tops and set aside for later.

3) Halve or quarter each radish and put in a large bowl. Add balsamic vinegar to the bowl along with a few dashes of salt and pepper.

4) Mix everything together until the radishes have all been coated with balsamic. Place in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5) After 10 minutes, add the radish tops to the skillet or pan and continue to roast for another 5 minutes, making sure to move them around at least once during that time.

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

























Wednesday, April 27

The Best Blueberry Lemonade Recipe



At least once a week, I find myself in the kitchen mixing up something new. It usually involves soon to expire something or another. I'll be honest, most of my kitchen experimentation turns out to be a flop. My family is so good about it though and continues to try my "new recipes" in hopes the next one will actually taste good. Really, it makes me love them even more.


So, that being said, my youngest took the first taste test and declared it amazing and then asked to eat the mushed up blueberries. Ha! Fair enough. When my older two came home from school, they were all over it and insisted I needed to patent the recipe. Wow, huh? So even though lemonade is pretty hard to mess up, I'll take this one as a win in my book and go out on a limb and call it the best blueberry lemonade recipe. It's super easy to make, only takes a couple minutes, tastes amazing and in our case is almost completely organic.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

What you need:
Quart size mason jar (or other container of that size)
Small Pot
Fork or Spoon
Mesh Strainer
1/4 Cup Sugar (sub Honey and cut amount in half - or use stevia to taste to make it sugar free)
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 Cup Warm Filtered Water
1 3/4 Cold Filtered Water


1. Warm up your 1 cup of water in the pot on the stove. Dissolve sugar completely in the warm water.

2. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice, stir, then add the cold water and stir again. Taste test at this point to see if it is tart enough to your liking or the sweetness needs to be adjusted.

3. Add frozen blueberries to your mixture and allow to sit for a few minutes until they thaw completely.

4. Using spoon or fork, mash the blueberries up against the side of the pot. Once the have all been smashed, stir again and let sit for at least 10 minutes in the fridge to let the flavors blend.

5. Place the mesh strainer on top of the quart sized container and pour the liquid from the pot into the container. All of the blueberry pieces should be caught in the strainer. Discard (or eat - they taste good).

That's it! It's sounds more complicated than it really is.

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Take care!
Lisa

Tuesday, April 26

DIY Chicken Coop




(Ignore this weird box... not sure what happened, lol)





Ack!!! We finally got our chickens :) We've been waiting for this moment for years, so naturally, it was the first project we took on. It's also the very first woodworking project we ever even tried. Sooo, while I know the construction probably isn't perfect, I could totally care less. It functions just the way it should and it's cute. I love this little coop we made and I'm proud too :) I've included the link to the free plans we used below.






 First, can I just say - look at those cute little baby chicks! We brought home 10 of these little stinkers. They were cute little balls of fluff for about 30 seconds. Seriously, there's a reason everyone who owns chickens tells you to have the coop finished before you buy the chicks. They didn't last long in our bathtub (yes you read that right). We were in a mad dash to finish up building before these little cutie pies outgrew their home. Which they did. Multiple times. Thankfully we were able to improvise enough along the way so they were always comfortable and had enough space until it was warm enough to move them outside.



Below are a few progress pictures of our coop.

All framed and ready for walls...




Walls up and ready for paint and trim.


 We have the cutest little helper, with shoes on the wrong feet and still in pj's at 2pm...



Framing out the run.



 We modified the run by making it a little 5.5 feet tall - high enough for me to walk in without having to hunch over. We wanted the birds to have plenty of room to stretch their wings too. We let them free range while supervised, but otherwise they need to stay in their run because of predators.




We cut out a door with a latch for the chickens to get from their coop to their run. We also made little inserts to put in the windows for potential nasty storms.


The kids love to be with the chickens. They are an endless stream of entertainment for us, those goofy little birds.



Up close with Flight


Here's the link to the plans we followed, with some improvising along the way to suit our needs.


Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to sign up with your email you never miss a post.

- Lisa
















Saturday, April 23

5 Minute Dairy Free Ice Cream




This quick treat is perfect for when you're craving ice cream or something sweet, but don't want to stray from your clean eating habits. It has endless possibilities too!

The base of this dessert is frozen bananas. That's it! The only prep work involved is freezing the bananas. We always end up with an over-ripe lone banana in my house that no one ever wants to eat. So I just peel those, toss them in a Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer for smoothies, and this "ice cream". 

You can make this recipe with just bananas, or you can get adventurous and create your own flavors. Some favorites in my house include peanut butter and chocolate (I use cocoa powder for this), pumpkin pie (add pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and honey), blueberry peach, and strawberry.



What you need:
Blender or Food Processor
Frozen bananas (1 banana per serving)
1/4 C water, nut milk or coconut milk (optional)
Whatever add-ins you'd like

1). Place everything but the water into a food processor or blender and pulse until your bananas have a creamy smooth texture. You made need to add some water in order to do this, but add it a little bit at a time so you don't end up with a smoothie.

That's it!

If you find a combination that you fall in love with, please share it with us in the comment section below.

Have a great day!
-Lisa :)

Wednesday, February 10

Easy Way To Start Seeds Indoors

 
Last summer a close friend of mine saved a TON of eggshells to start her seedlings in. She had a pretty cool setup going on and her seedlings thrived. She ended up with more tomato plants than she knew what to do with and passed some along to me. We were still in a townhouse at that time, so I could only take a few and placed them in pots. Wow, did those grow an amazing amount of tomatoes! Seriously - I vowed once I had a yard, I would do the same. 
 
So here we are...
 
 
First, I think it's important that I state right now - I have never grown a full sized garden on my own. Nope, never.
 
This year will be my first. When we were in the townhouse, Chris built a raised bed that was 1' x 10' behind the retaining wall near the back of our "yard" that I used to grow herbs, lettuce and radishes in. This worked a little bit, but it was kind of ridiculous. I had to climb up a small ladder to reach even the dirt (I might have fallen off said ladder a time or two...don't worry, it was a short one) so weeding was a major pain and the wooded lot behind us would get so overgrown, that unless we went back there with a chainsaw (remember - this wasn't technically ours - but we did do this once - shhhh!) the plants would not get enough sunlight. I still tried though - when there's a will, there's a way, right??
 
I'm always up for trying. I figure I don't have much to lose. We want to grow a massive amount of fruits and vegetables, enough so we can pass along or donate what our family doesn't need. I also want to do that as inexpensively as possible. This pretty much requires I start everything from seeds.
 
After researching this method, I've decided it's most definitely worth a try.
Even better - you can plant the whole thing - eggshell and all, right into the ground! 
 

The first thing we did was save every eggshell we could, rinsed them out and left them to dry on the counter.


 
I poked drainage holes in the bottom of each eggshell to prevent over watering. Looking back, it might have been better to use a darning needle, or at least something thinner than my digital thermometer. I broke a couple doing this.



 
Using organic seed starter soil, I filled each egg with a large spoon.
 



 
Different seeds need to be planted at varying depths, so for the more shallow seeds (usually the small seeds), I used my smaller shells and for the deeper ones, the larger shells. I also made sure to label and date each section. Plus I can really only focus on cold weather crops at this point. I plan on doing succession planting, so I need to know the dates.. That's not something my brain can handle on it's own. I can hardly remember what I did an hour ago.




Based off of the planting depth, I used an unsharpened pencil to make mini holes to place the seeds.
 
 
 

 
 
We set up an extra pantry rack we had in the garage next to our kitchen window. This way they will get plenty of sunlight. It also keeps them off of the kitchen table. I haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg yet as far as planting is concerned. We need to eat more eggs and get more shells going. I also picked up this cool little gadget that will make square blocks to start seeds in without needing a pot of any kind. I want to use that for the larger plants, but those won't go in until next month.
 
I'm not sure which container will work better - the plastic because the soil can later absorb excess water from the bottom, or the cardboard because it will absorb the excess water. I have been misting them with a spray bottle, so they are not getting saturated. I'll have to post an update once things start growing.
 
 So far it seems to be working. I did come home to an egg casualty tonight and a pile of dirt on my kitchen floor. Courtesy of Jackson the cat. Darn cat.

Monday, February 8

We Did It!!


 
We finally did it!
We picked up and moved our family to a new state out in the country.
 
 
I stopped blogging a while back for various reasons.
 
However, we are here now. My kids are older and I think I have a better handle on my time now that I'm older too - stinks how those two things go hand in hand.
 
The calling to write has been with me since childhood - it's about time I started listening.





Hello, hello, hello! If you have been a reader since the beginning, you will know just how amazing and incredible this is for our family. We are here, in the country and ready to live our dreams. I am going to go ahead and skip over the last two years of absence - so much changed, and I can't even begin to try and summarize it for you right now. Maybe another day....

I do think I can manage to catch you up with our current situation...

We moved into our new house the day after Thanksgiving in 2015. We are just now, over two months later, starting to get settled in. We were not exactly the most organized and ended up making multiple trips back and forth across states to get fully moved in. Whoops!

The first picture in this post (see above) is in our back yard. Swoon!! I'm in love with it here. Below are a few more...



 
My oldest daughter has been so captivated by the sunrises and sunsets here. She ran out that morning yelling "Momma! catch me with the sun!" - seriously - heart melting

 
The big family Christmas gift was a trampoline that has been seeing plenty of use. Both the littles and the adults find themselves out there almost daily...

 
Our front porch view...

 
We welcomed a new family member. I would like to introduce you to Spikette, my oldest child's dream since the age of three. She's molting here - it makes my skin crawl - but he loves her and I love him...

 
And me and the Goobs hanging out on the front porch together listening to the birds. It's our routine we share before the rest of the house wakes up. I was super excited we got to bring it outside in January.
 
We have so much planned - it's hard to not try and do it all. I've read so many times though that it's better to focus on two big things each year, and then move on from there. For us, that's a huge garden (we are starting our indoor seeds tomorrow - eeek!) and chickens. I have pages of DIY projects lined up for us in between that I will be sharing. As well as lots of crafts.
 
Talk to me here...
Leave me some comments or send an email - what do you want to see in the blog this year?
I'm super excited to be back!!
 
More posts to come soon!


Take care!!

Friday, July 11

Eating Well on a Budget Series - Part 5 - Avoiding Waste


A huge part of keeping food costs down is to not be wasteful.

I'm going to make the wild assumption that most of us do not consider ourselves wasteful. It's a relative term, and surely there are people who waste more than I do, just as there are many people who do not waste nearly as much as I do. The same can be said for you as well. I do believe it would be safe to say we could all be a little bit better at not wasting our food.

According to endhunger.org , 40% of the food in the U.S. is wasted. That's not only heartbreaking, it's also expensive.


I do my best to clean out our refrigerator once a week. My goal for each of these sessions is to be able to clean my fridge without having to throw anything out. I find myself making a lot of lunches each week that consist of little bits of this and little bits of that. It may not be exactly what I'm desiring at that given moment, but I think that's a good habit to form. There are very few places across the globe where people can eat exactly what they want, when they want and how they want it. We are fortunate enough to live in one of those few places and it's nice to be reminded of that and appreciate it from time to time. Don't get me wrong, I believe food should be enjoyed, and the process of eating should be a shared event whenever possible.


An added bonus to not wasting food is less garbage. In our community, we pay for garbage pick up and have a choice of either paying a flat monthly fee or per bag. When we first moved here, we figured out that we would save money every month in garbage pick up if we were able to keep our waste to one bag per week. It's not a huge savings, I estimate over the last 10 years it has saved us about $800 total. But it's more than just saving a few dollars, it's also leaving a smaller footprint on the earth. We have successfully been able to maintain that one bag of trash a week goal, even with the birth of three children and the addition of a few pets over the years. Sometimes we only have one bag every other week.


If you do your best to only buy what you need, and to use up every little scrap of what you have, you will likely be rewarded with extra money in your pocket.


Here are a few ways to avoid extra waste...
  • Freeze your vegetable scraps until you fill up a gallon sized bag and then use to make soup stock.
  • Use your coffee grounds as an exfoliant for your skin, or use them in your garden. Here's a link.
  • Save the heel of your loaves of bread in the freezer. You can use them to make bread pudding, bread crumbs, or croutons once you have enough.
  • If you're making a recipe that uses only egg whites, save the yolks and make something like lemon curd or a custard.
  • Save the whey that separates from your yogurt by pouring it into a container with the date written on top. Keep adding the little bits of it to that same container until the expiration date on the original package has been reached or up to two weeks for homemade yogurts. You can use this for fermenting, or add it to smoothies, or in place of some of the water in bread recipes.
  • Blanch and then freeze veggies before they turn if you won't use them up fast enough.
  • Chop up and freeze fruit before it turns if you won't use it up fast enough.
  • Save and freeze the small scraps of meat that are not enough for another meal, to use in a casserole or fried rice.
  • When you make a pie crust, save the discarded bits, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar and bake them for the kids to snack on as a treat.
  • Experiment with different homemade granolas to use up nuts, seeds and dried fruits that have been hiding in the cabinet for too long.
This by no means covers everything you can do to save on waste, every family is different and uses different things. I would love to hear of some creative ways you use up what you have to avoid waste.
Have a great day!

Thursday, July 3

Strawberries and Cream Yogurt Popsicles




I've found myself in a mad dash to use up all those strawberries I told  you about the other day. Unlike store bought, these only last a couple days. I really didn't want to just freeze them because I let them sit too long in our refridgerator already. So, with Austin gone at boyscout camp, the girls and I had fun playing around with new recipes. Some were really, really good, and some, well, not so much.

I think the favorite of our new found recipes had to be these frozen fruit pops. They taste great and really are a breeze to put together. In fact, my kids loved them so much, they asked to have them for breakfast. My first knee-jerk reaction was a giant NO. Then it dawned on me that they were only pureed fruit, and a bit of juice. Not much different than a smoothie. Needless to say, I let them have popsicles for breakfast and I was declared "The greatest mom in the world". My only qualm with these, is that even though they are all fruit, and fruit is healthy, it is still sugar. So to reduce the potential blood sugar spikes and energy crashes, I've added some fat and protein. Below is a recipe for our own strawberries and cream popsicle. They are so good, you almost forget they're actually healthy.


I think popsicle smoothies may become our summer breakfast of choice.

Strawberries and Cream Yogurt Pop's

What you need:

1 Cup plain yogurt (or canned coconut milk if you want it dairy free)
1 Cup quartered strawberries
1 Tbsp Raw Honey (or more to taste)

Equipment:

Potato masher
Popsicle mold
2 Large spoons

1) Mix the raw honey with the yogurt until completely blended.

2) In a separate bowl, mash the strawberries.

3) With one large spoon, put one full spoonful of yogurt mixture into the bottom of each pop mold. With your other large spoon, put one full spoonful of mashed strawberry mixture into each pop mold. Continue in this fashion until each mold is filled.

4) Follow directions for your specific popsicle mold. Mine goes right in the freezer and we left them there over night.

If you substitute a layer of mashed blueberries, these become a super cute and healthy 4th of July treat.

Have a great holiday weekend!