Recipe: Slow Cooker Applesauce

A few weeks ago I made my first batch of slow cooker applesauce.  Yum.

Scented candles?  Mais non.  Just get some applesauce cooking and you’re all good.  To top it off, you can freeze it.  Word to your mom.

Next time I’ll make a large batch.  Then my sampling won’t be so obvious.

Wanna know my simple & tasty recipe?  Here, I’ll show ya. Continue reading


Delicious Homemade English Muffin Bread

I finally made it!  I made Jillee’s English muffin bread and I am singing its praises.  I’m singing Jillee’s praises!  It makes me want to sing.

Tra la laaaaa!

It is seriously good bread.  I wish I’d discovered her recipe years ago.  To top off the deliciousness of the bread, this recipe couldn’t be any easier.  5 ingredients. Continue reading

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Alrighty, so I’m still behind on MSM’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer Challenge.  My little one went to work with daddy today and I find myself alone on this lovely rainy Friday waiting for furniture delivery.  Perfect time to get a little freezer cooking done.  And rain and cookies make sense, right?

I hear this cookie recipe is delish so I was happy to make a batch.  😉

The recipe calls for shortening OR butter.  Hmm, I rather think I’m in the mood for shortening…:) Continue reading

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer: Lasagna Casserole

Happiness is playing computer word games?  This one thinks so.

I’m about four days behind on MSM’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer challenge.  Eep.  Following through on projects I’ve committed to (such as this one) is a big deal to me in 2012.  It’s all part of my self-discipline and accountability goals and I’m determined to stick with things even if I fall behind.  So today after I set up Munchie to do her 30 minutes of computer word games I booked it into the kitchen to get started on lasagna casserole.

After a few minutes she noticed I was cooking and rushed over to help.  But the call of the computer was louder and she was soon off her stool and back at the computer. 🙂

Continue reading

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer: Pizza Pockets

The pizza dough.  Ready and waiting.

This week is all about lunches for MSM’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer challenge.  I thought I’d swap out some of the suggested lunch recipes for a few of my own, but today I decided to make the pizza pockets–I’m so glad I did!  Now I’m thinking I’ll make the suggested ham and cheese pockets, too.  Hey, I love a recipe that includes “dough.” Continue reading

Biscuits, Pasta, & Hunger Games Skills

My first batch of slow cooker applesauce ready to go.  The early morning sun is shining down on my apples.  Like a little cooking blessing.  I’ve cut caffeine from my diet.  That’s why I’m talking like this. 

I feel like I spent the entire day in the kitchen either at the stove, flipping through cookbooks, tweaking recipes, or doing dishes.  Actually, I did spend the entire day doing just that.  I snuck in a little freezer cooking while I was at it.  A good day at home.

I wanted to try the homemade baking mix I made yesterday so I woke and made biscuits with sausage gravy.  My fave gravy recipe hit the spot as usual and the biscuits were quite good, too, but due to the coconut oil (replacing shortening) there was a slightly sweet note to it that I didn’t love with the savory gravy.  My family liked it a lot, but I think I’ll stick to using the baking mix for sweet baked goods (nice excuse, Danielle).  I will say that the biscuits had a wonderful texture and fluffed up perfectly.  So I’m pleased with it!

On to my first batch of slow cooker applesauce.

I used a variety of apples.

Added a few ingredients and let it cook for about 7 hours.  Mmmmmm.

The fruits of labor (ha).  3 jars for the freezer and 1 half jar for the fridge.  I couldn’t stop tasting it.   

I can not top my mom-in-law’s delicious homemade applesauce that’s made with apples from her tree and tastes like apple pie.  Not just cinnamon flavored, sweet applesauce.  No.  Straight up Apple Pie.  But I did want to try a slow cooker recipe and hone a skill which might help me in a Hunger Games-type lifestyle.

Yes, I count any and all areas of proficiency (ie tying my shoes, breathing, walking and talking at the same time) as part of my weaponry of knowledge, deftness, and cunning in a post-apocalyptic world.  And I did this before I got sucked into The Hunger Games two weeks ago.  Well before The Games.  Like my whole life.  The Games are just fueling my crazy-fire even more.

Hey, a skill is a skill.

Then I made these little garlic parmesan knots to go with dinner.  And since I only had 3 bites of biscuits and gravy at breakfast (I’m trying to be good…I stuck with fruit and a smoothie) I had 3 of them.  They’re not small.  And I don’t care right now.

I  made this creamy chicken pesto pasta with mushrooms and spinach to go with them.  I only wish I had toasted pinenuts to top it.  Yumminess, but I only had a few bites.  You know, because I need to be in shape for The Games.  Or because I ate those THREE LARGE BREAD KNOTS.

So now I need to wake before the sun to burn those 4,500 calories and so I’m prepared for You Know What.

photo credit 

True.  So true.

Tomorrow I’ll work on week 2 of the 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer project.  Adding more skills to the weaponry of course.

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer: Homemade Baking Mix(Week 1: Breakfasts complete!)

Homemade baking mix…lots of it!  This is a HUGE bowl. 

Oh boy, this mix smells good.  It’s the coconut oil I used instead of shortening.  It reminds me of those Samoas Girl Scout cookies–that smell.  Mm!

So I finally caught up on week 1 of MSM’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer project and tomorrow I’ll do 2 of the lunch freezer meals using my own recipes.  I can’t wait–this kind of “project” is right up my alley.  This kind of project makes me a little too happy.

Note the lovely handwriting on the bags–that’s what happens when I write after I fill the bags. 

I got 2 bags of homemade baking mix from this recipe.  I used about half whole wheat flour and half white flour and am eager to see how this turns out with the coconut oil, too.  I’ll be testing it out soon and let you know!

Do you keep baking mix on hand and what’s your favorite use for it?

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer: Banana bread

Banana Bread ready for the freezer…most of it. 😉

Whew, almost done playing catch up with week 1 of MSM’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer Project.  Tomorrow morning I’ll complete week 1, begin week 2, and be right on track!  I managed to forget I had the bread in the oven as I devoured my dinner.  Oops!  But it’s all good–still moist inside.  Just a slight crunch on the ends.  Continue reading

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes (with recipe)

I’m trying to catch up on week 1 of MSM’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer Project.  I crossed off the baked oatmeal on Friday.  Not much catching up done, huh?  I swapped out the cinnamon rolls for my fluffy buttermilk pancakes since I had a lot of divine buttermilk on hand.  Mm mm!

These are the fluffiest pancakes I make.  Continue reading

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer: Baked Oatmeal

I’ve been excited to follow along with MSM’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer Project, but I’m behind already!  The lovely Erin over at My Mommy World has motivated me to hurry the heck up already!  She has great follow through with her goals–envy, Erin, I envy you!

So, I finally got started today with baked oatmeal for the freezer.  Little Bunsies helped me out–it’s such an easy recipe that she pretty much did it all.

You simply mix the ingredients up in a bowl and place into a dish to freeze it for later use.  The recipe is pretty basic, but you can throw in whatever you like.  Bunsies asked for raisins since she always has raisins or cherries in her oatmeal (we eat oatmeal 2+ days a week) and then I chopped up some apples (we had Fuji on hand) and tossed those in as well.  A little extra cinnamon and we were all done.

I used a foil pan since I’ve had it forever and am trying to use up some pantry items (even non-food items 🙂 ).  I sealed it with plastic wrap and then also topped it with a foil top that came with it.  This will feed my little family for 2 breakfasts.  Easy!  When we’re ready to eat it, I’ll thaw it in the fridge overnight and bake it up in the oven in the morning. This is a nice twist on our regular bowl of oatmeal and we like to top it with a splash of milk and pinch (or 2) of brown sugar.  I know I’m going to love these little meals when I’m too lazy or tired to cook.

Next up: cinnamon rolls, homemade baking mix, and banana bread, and waffles.  Do you have any favorite freezer-friendly meals you love to keep on hand?

My gift has arrived…


Real squealing!  Real glee!

My dear, dear husband got me a freezer for my birthday, but it arrived today!  Oh, how I’ve dreamed of a freezer for the garage.  Yes, these are the types of dreams I have.  I’ve actually had dreams about an upright freezer.  Nothing could be better (not even the perfect jeans I finally found yesterday)! Continue reading

Our Menu (Week of February 5, 2012)

My Super Bowl snacks helper

I’m feeling quite uninspired as I menu plan today.  Probably because I’m sneezing so much that it’s impacting my brain function.  Maybe I’ll switch it up a bit after the sneezing fits end.


  • Cereal, banana, juice (we rarely have cereal around here, but I tested it out because Mom’s Best was on sale for a mere $0.49 last week and my munchkin liked this special treat)
  • Toast with peanut butter, peaches, fruit smoothies
  • Baked apple oatmeal, fruit x 2
  • Hard-boiled eggs, toast, berry smoothies
  • Breakfast sausage casserole, fruit salad x 2


  • Leftovers x 3 plus fruit
  • Thai chicken wraps–I’ll have mine as a salad–, smoothies
  • Peanut butter and peach jam sandwiches, fruit, milk
  • Snack-ey Lunch
  • Cheese and veggie quesadillas


  • Grilled Korean BBQ, rice, grilled zucchini, red velvet cake, and Super Bowl sides:)
  • Broccoli cheddar soup, rolls, salad
  • Slow cooker hearty beef stew, rolls
  • Spinach and sausage stuffed shells, salad
  • Chicken Olivia, brown rice, broccoli & cauliflower
  • Leftovers Night x 2


  • Fruit: peaches, grapes, apples, tangerines
  • Multi-grain crackers & Greek yogurt
  • Carrots, celery, cucumbers, dip
  • String cheese & graham crackers

What’s on your menu plan this week?  Inspire me 🙂


Our Menu (Week of January 29, 2012)

Blueberry coffeecake

I’m trying to make this week another easy one with the help of my slow cooker.  I haven’t been feeling well since this past weekend so I’m also hoping to relax as much as I can this week 🙂  Nice excuse for me to bundle up on the couch and turn on Downton Abbey while my slow cooker does the work, huh?


Waffles, fruit, o.j.

Toast with peanut butter, banana, fruit smoothies

Baked apple oatmeal, fruit x 2

Hard-boiled eggs, toast, berry smoothies

Blueberry coffeecake, fruit salad x 2


Leftovers x 2 plus fruit

Thai chicken wraps–I’ll have mine as a salad–, smoothies

Peanut butter and peach jam sandwiches, apple slices & blueberries, milk

Pear, pecan, cranberry salad with poppy-seed dressing, Fage yogurt, x 2

Cucumber, avocado, tomato, balsamic vinaigrette salad & turkey wraps


Slow cooker chicken parmesan over rotini, broccoli, eggplant and garlic bruschetta, applesauce

Cobb salad for the adults and homemade chicken nuggets (with roasted veggies) for the little one:)

Slow cooker hearty beef stew, garlic bread

Slow cooker chicken quesadillas, fruit salad, chips and salsa

Hamburger vegetable soup, homemade rolls (didn’t get to this last week)

Leftovers Night x 2


Fruit, multi-grain crackers, and Greek yogurt


Carrots, celery, cucumbers, dip


(Slow cooker) Berry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream (didn’t get to this last week)

Freezer Cooking: 

Since our freezer is acting up (ack!) I’m skipping freezer cooking…I’m too afraid to add anything to it!

What’s on your menu plan this week?


Our Menu (Week of January 22, 2012)

My Pumpkin took english muffins to preschool this week for mini-pizza day.  She loves using the leftovers for egg sausage sandwiches and asked me to take a picture. 🙂

Why I keep forgetting to use my slow cooker is beyond me.  Especially since I love using it and have it included in my menu planning week after week!  Will.not.forget.this.week.  I’m using up a lot of chicken and some frozen veggies from the freezer which makes the slow cooker meals a snap.  It’s a windy, rainy day (ommmmm…bliss) and we are staying in today so no veggie shopping until tomorrow.  I think it’s going to be a good day.


Waffles, fruit, o.j.

Egg sausage cheese muffin sandwiches, banana, o.j.

Oatmeal, fruit, smoothies x 2

Banana crumb muffins, spiced cider, fruit salad

Toast with peanut butter, fruit smoothie

Cinnamon roll bread, fruit salad, spiced cider

(Hm.  Kind of a comfort food breakfast week.  I should change a few things.  But I won’t.)


Leftovers x 2 plus fruit

Turkey veggie wraps, smoothies

Peanut butter and grandma’s peach jam sandwiches, apple slices, milk

Chili, cornbread (from a freezer cooking session)

Pear, pecan, cranberry salad with poppyseed dressing x 2


Dinner at extended family’s home

(Slow cooker) Honey sauce chicken, rice(brown with a bit of white mixed in), garlic & onion broccoli sauté, carrots

Beef and black bean bake, cranberry-feta-walnut salad

Hamburger vegetable soup, rolls

(Slow cooker) Creamy Italian chicken, brown rice, Italian green beans, simple salad

(Slow cooker) Mushroom chicken, sautéed spinach, rice, simple salad

Leftovers Night


Fruit (whatever looks best when I hit up the market)

Greek yogurt


Banana muffins

Carrots, celery, cucumbers, dip


(Slow cooker) Berry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream

Freezer Cooking: 

Since I’m working on cleaning out the freezer by using up a bunch of items this week, I’ll do some freezer cooking next week.

What’s on your menu plan this week?  Is it a cozy rainy day for you, too?


Our Menu (Week of January 8, 2012)

It’s supposed  to cool down this week (I am not a fan of 80 degree temperatures in January) so I’ll be using the oven more this week.  My parents gave us a beautiful (I find kitchen items visually appealing:) toaster oven for Christmas so I’ll try that out for a couple of dishes.  I don’t know how to use it yet (it does far more than “toast”), but I’ll just go with the “bake” function this week and focus on the complicated functions next week.

We have a few meals out later in the week because my best friend Jennifer is visiting–it has been too long and I’m more than a little excited.  We have a list of places we plan to oink our way through (always our priority) which is never boring because she loves food as much as I do!


Oatmeal with dried cherries, bananas, freshly squeezed orange juice

Egg/cheese/veggie skillet, smoothies

Baked apple cinnamon oatmeal, orange juice x 2

Toast with peanut butter or jam, bananas, freshly squeezed orange juice

Lemon blueberry pancakes, hot cocoa (I froze a few from last week for a busy morning)

Breakfast out with visiting guest (can’t wait!)


Peanut butter and grandma’s blackberry jam sandwiches, apple slices, milk

Spinach Pasta Salad with yoasted pinenuts and feta (didn’t get to this last week) x 2

Roasted chicken sandwiches on multigrain thins, berries

Beef and bean burritos, fruit


Lunch out


Beef tostadas/burritos

One dish Italian chicken bake(veggies included), salad

Tortellini spinach bake, roasted veggies (since I couldn’t find the tortellini we like with this last week, I’m attempting again)

Chicken tortilla casserole, salad

Chicken penne bake, roasted veggies, garlic bread

Dinner out with visiting guest (YAY!)

Leftovers Night


Bananas, apples, pears, blueberries


Hummus and multigrain crackers

String cheese

Freezer Cooking:

No freezer cooking this week.  Will resume next week with new recipes to try. 

What’s on your menu this week?  Please feel free to link up to your menu as well!

Our Menu (Week of January 1, 2012)

I’ve been out of town for a week visiting my family so I had no need for a menu plan last week.  Now that we are home I am ready to begin the new year by keeping up with my organizational and household management tasks.  First task (yes, before even unpacking our bags): menu plan.


Oatmeal with dried cherries, bananas, freshly squeezed orange juice x 2

Fruit smoothies, breakfast burritos  (filled with skillet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, breakfast sausage and cheese)

Lemon blueberry pancakes, fruit salad

Morning muffins (new recipe, I’ll let you know if it’s tasty), fruit salad, cider

Toast with strawberry freezer jam, bananas, freshly squeezed orange juice

Easy breakfast casserole, blueberries, cider (I usually use a different casserole recipe, but thought I’d try give this easy and versatile one a go.  Will let you know how it goes.)


Leftovers x 2 plus fruit

Peanut butter and grandma’s peach jam sandwiches, apple slices, milk

My mom’s homemade-best-ever-potstickers

Egg salad sandwiches, apples

Tomato basil soup, rolls

Spinach Pasta Salad with Toasted Pinenuts and Feta


Bbq at my sister’s home (yum!)

Grilled chicken fajitas with peppers and onions, corn casserole, salad

Savory Dijon chicken, broccoli, corn casserole

Tortellini spinach bake, roasted veggies

Grilled chicken salads, biscuits

Dinner on the road

Leftovers Night


Bananas, apples, oranges, blueberries



Carrots, celery, broccoli, dip

Freezer Cooking:

 I’m, yet again, undecided on my freezer cooking.  It isn’t a huge priority this week since our freezer is jam-packed and I’d like to eat through some pantry items as well.  But we will see…maybe an idea will strike me mid-week.

What’s on your menu this week?  Anything new you are testing out for the new year?

Our Menu (Week of December 18, 2011)

English: Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, &q...It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  So let the baking and cooking begin!  I’ll stop shouting now.

I didn’t plan my menu on Sunday like I should have, but I’m going to blame…well, myself.  I slacked over the weekend and just enjoyed family time instead of planning for this last week before Christmas.  That’s ok–we have a stocked freezer and pantry so menu planning should be fairly simple and I’ll only need to stop by the market for some fresh veggies and fruit.  Easy!  And I’m guessing Christmas cookies will be on the snack list.  Well.  What do you expect? 🙂


Oatmeal with dried cherries, bananas, hot cider (my mother-in-law made a huge, yummy batch of cider for her Christmas party and we were lucky enough to be sent home with lots of it)

Quiche, banana/strawberry/pineapple smoothies x 2

Baked cinnamon and apple french toast, berries, hot cider x 2

Breakfast burritos (filled with skillet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, breakfast sausage and cheese), orange juice

Blueberry coffee cake, fruit, hot chocolate


Leftovers x 3 plus fruit

Lunch at Daddy’s office (they’re hosting a Christmas w/Santa Day)

Tomato basil soup, toasted French bread w/butter

Peanut butter and grandma’s peach jam sandwiches, apple slices, milk

Lunch out (Daddy-Daughter Day)


Pot roast, carrots, potatoes, green beans (didn’t get to this last week)

Chicken pot pies, salad

Make-Your-Own calzones, salad

Sour cream noodle bake, broccoli, french bread

Chicken cacciatore, garlic french bread

Leftovers Night x 2


Pears, bananas, apples, blueberries

Banana bread


Carrots, celery, broccoli, dip

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (from the freezer), hot cider

Freezer Cooking:

TBD:  I’m undecided on freezer cooking for this week.  I will be baking a lot so that will fall into freezer cooking. healthful, eh?


Christmas sugar cookies

Glazed apple cookies

Citrus butter cookies

Candy cane kiss cookies

Our Menu (Week of December 4, 2011)

Chicken enchiladas

I can do this, I can do this, I will do this, I will do this. Every week.

That helps, believe it or not. 🙂 I’m jumping back into weekly menu planning.  Lately, I’d say I’ve had a menu plan only 2 weeks a month.  And let me tell you, life around here is just better with a menu plan!

I give myself a bit of wiggle room with our menu.  Life happens and we can’t always stick to our best laid plans.  When I create and jot down my menu on my planning sheet, I consider our family schedule for the week.  However, something always comes up (like I forget to defrost the chicken) so I generally end up flip-flopping a couple of days each week.  No big deal–the menu still does its job and diminishes mealtime stress in my household.

Lunch is the meal that varies between my husband, daughter and myself.  I pack a lunch for my husbands some days, but he often has lunch meetings or takes a break from the office and heads out for lunch.  Because I usually want more snack-type foods at lunch, I tend to eat veggies and dip or salads.  Baked sweet potatoes are also a favorite lunch of mine.

And as you can tell from the picture above, I am not a food photographer.  Or any kind of photographer at that.  Bad lighting, bad angles.  I’m working on my skills, give me time.  Lots of time. 🙂


Oatmeal with dried cherries, bananas, fresh-squeezed orange juice x 3

Egg sausage scramble, toast, blackberries, kefir smoothie(free coupon from Lifeway which is our chosen brand!)

Toast with peanut butter/homemade jam, raspberries, milk

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, bananas, hot cider

Glazed cinnamon scones with cinnamon chips, raspberries, hot cider


Leftovers x 3 plus fruit

Chicken salad sandwiches, fruit salad, yogurt

PB & J, fruit salad, string cheese

Gnocchi with peas, blackberries, kefir smoothie

Mini veggie-sausage pizzas, peaches


Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

Mushroom barley soup, honey cornbread

Chicken enchiladas, chips and salsa, salad, fruit

Roasted chicken, broccoli, honey cornbread, fruit

Asian b.b.q. chicken, grilled squash and asparagus, rice

Potato cheese soup, homemade rolls, fruit salad

Leftovers Night


Apples, grapes, bananas

Hummus and multi-grain crackers

String cheese and cucumbers

Banana bread and hot cider

Freezer Cooking (I’m splitting up my freezer cooking this week.  I’ll do a little each day so I have no excuses!)

Honey cornbread

Banana bread

Spaghetti sauce


Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins


There you have it!  We have a lot of extra outings this week so I tried to keep our menu as simple and easy as possible.  I wanted to try out some new recipes, but figured I better stick with the tried and true this week.  Of course, there will likely be a dessert or two thrown in there…tis the season for yummy desserts!

I’d love to hear your plans for the week.  What’s on your menu?

Freezer Cooking

As I attempt to streamline my household tasks, I’ve committed to making a meal plan each week and freezer cooking plays a vital role in my success.  I don’t do this weekly and sometimes I don’t even get to it at all in a month, but it’s another concept which helps reduce 5 o’clock fridge panic (that’s a real illness–it strikes hard and fast).

For those of you unfamiliar with freezer cooking, it’s pretty self-explanatory and simple–you put together meals that freeze well, stick them in the freezer and pull them out when needed.  Coupled with a meal plan, this can make your week of meals a breeze.  There are many helpful online resources for freezer cooking (it has many names–sometimes called once-a-month-cooking or bulk cooking).  Here are a few websites that I find useful:

Once a Month Mom: This site is dedicated to freezer/once-a-month cooking.  A great resource–Dig around and enjoy!

Tammy’s Recipes: This page on Tammy’s Recipes is a nice peek into freezer cooking.  You can search Tammy’s site for freezer meal tips and non-freezer cooking recipes.  I like that her recipes aren’t out of glossy magazines.  Real food for real families. 🙂

Life as Mom: This article on freezer cooking basics is helpful especially if you’re just getting started.

Moms by Heart: I recommend this site for those of you who, like me, want to adjust freezer cooking to fit you a bit better.  Freezer cooking takes time, planning and a good deal of effort.  Moms by Heart has addressed this and you might find her freezer cooking style better suits your schedule and needs.

Everything Mom: This page offers useful tips and organizing strategies for your cooking session such as what types of food freeze well and how to package your prepared food for the freezer.

Like I said, since there are dozens and dozens (actually, probably hundreds!) of online resources for freezer cooking ideas, you could spend hours looking at them.  In addition, many of these websites offer strategies, tips, and organizational tools for your freezer cooking adventure–if you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone!  You don’t need to do it all to be successful.  In fact, I’d recommend choosing just one or two recipes your first time around.  You’ll get a better feel for what works for you and you can carry out new strategies and recipes in your next cooking session.  Take your time getting started and remember–This is supposed to make life easier, not more stressful!

I’d love to share some of my favorite tips and recipes with you soon.  I’ll include my freezer cooking plan on Monday’s Meal Plan Menu.  In the meantime, please feel free to share your ideas with me!  What’s your favorite freezer cooking meal?

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