Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One Pot Wonder Pasta Take Two

One Pot Wonder Spinach & Mushroom Penne
One pot pastas have been very popular. My original One Pot Wonder post has had tons of traffic. I loved this dish and so did my family so I decided I would change it up a bit and try out another version.

One Pot Wonder with Penne, Crimini, & Spinach
Serves 4 to 6

16 ounces penne pasta
8oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 large bunch spinach
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
6 cups home canned vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place pasta, mushrooms, spinach, onion,  and garlic in a large skillet or dutch oven. Pour in stock. Sprinkle top with basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle top with oil. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, until pasta is al dente and liquid has been reduced as desired. Stir several times throughout cooking to ensure all the pasta is cooked evenly. Add more stock if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper , stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.

If you are using boxed stock or commercially canned stock you may want to reduce the amount of salt. You can always add more to taste at the end. I don't add salt to my home canned stock so I usually need a bit more.

I love this pasta! The starch from the pasta combines with the stock to make a wonderful yummy sauce for the pasta. This recipe is so adaptable with what you have. It is very healthy. You can use all kinds of veggies and whole wheat pasta as well. The best part is that it is so quick and easy! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Shaun-ta's White Chicken Chili

Shaun-ta's White Chicken Chili
Okay, we all know by now that I am not a photographer and to make matters worse, I have a really dumpy camera! So trust me when I say it is soooo much better than it looks. This is my own version of chicken chili, I am quite proud of it. So if you are looking for something yummy for dinner, look no further.

Shaun-ta's White Chicken Chili

6 Chicken Thighs
1 Large Green or Red Pepper
1 Medium Sweet Onion
2 tsp. Cumin
1 Tb. Oregano
2 Cups Home Canned Chicken Stock
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
4 Cloves Garlic
1 lb. Cooked White Beans
Salt and Pepper to taste

This is how I did it. Place chicken thighs in the bottom of a 6 quart crock pot. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. At the end of the cook time remove the thighs from the pot and take the meat from the bone and add it back in. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Top with sour cream, jalapeno slices, and shredded pepper jack cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

Cook's Notes:
1. I chose to use chicken thighs, bone-in, because they are very flavorful and delicious, and they are very inexpensive. I rarely use boneless skinless chicken anymore.

2. I used green pepper, so this is a very mild chili. I was thinking of my children. But if you want some heat, use whatever kind of pepper you want, jalapeno, green chili, etc. I loved the bit of heat that the canned jalapeno slices brought.

3. Because I used bone in chicken I used part water, part stock for my liquid, because I knew the chicken bones would bring lots of yummy flavor to my soup. If you opt to use boneless chicken you will want to use all stock.

4. I added 1 Cup of my homemade Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, this made it sooo yummy. Any green salsa would work, but you can find my recipe here:
or the canned version here:

5. Because I came up with this recipe on the fly, I didn't have time to let my beans slow cook, so I cooked them separate in my pressure cooker and then added them into my chili when they were done about midway through the cooking time. You could choose to soak your beans overnight and them let them cook right in the chili, but you will need to increase the amount of liquid you use. I will probably try this the next time I make this. Yes I will be making it again and soon. Yummy! For more info on cooking beans check out this post:

6. As always, after I removed the chicken from my bones, I put my bones in a separate pot, covered them with water and let them simmer away for several hours. It only made about a cup of stock, but well worth it. I used the cup of stock later in the week for something else. You can of course always stick it in the freezer. I use up every bit of chicken every time. I never buy stock.

We all loved this chili! and it is on our to make again and again list. I hope you enjoy it too!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Homemade Baby Foods

After many months of no posts, finally a few minutes to get back to recording a few of the things we have been doing over the past few months. It has been a busy few months with moving, having a baby, and the holidays, I was most often in a Daze. But life is starting to fall into a more consistent routine, if such a thing exists, and we feel a bit more settled in our new home. Today I am going to share something I have been working on over the past few weeks as our new little one is starting to love solid foods. At first she protested, but now she loves everything we are feeding her. There is no doubt that jarred baby food is expensive, crazy expensive, right up there with formula. I have always breast fed my babies, but I have always bought the jarred baby foods to introduce them to solids. This time I decided to try my hand at making my own. It is so easy, so inexpensive, and really quite yummy! I have enjoyed sampling them all. Check out how simple it is:

Choose your fruit or veggie.
We have done bananas, strawberry- banana, mixed veggies, sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. Cook your veggies until soft. I steamed most of mine.

Place your fruit and veggies in your super awesome blender.
 We are so happy with our Blendtec that we purchased about a year ago. It is amazing, but you could go with any type of blender or food processor.

Add liquid to get things rolling and to obtain desired thickness. My liquid of choice was breast milk.

Pour or Spoon (depends on the thickness) into ice cube trays.

 Once they are completely frozen they pop right out if you stick a knife down the edge. Don't let them sit out long or they thaw and precious bits stick to the bottom. Pop them right out and put them into zipper bags or your freezer container of choice.

Homemade Baby Food
To serve I just pull out a couple of cubes and heat them for about 30 seconds in the microwave. A few of the thicker ones, like my sweet potatoes, I add a bit more liquid to thin them out. Baby girl, loves, loves, loves them. We now have a stock pile in the freezer and we continue to add more variety day by day. I plan to do some fruit and veggie combos, like spinach with bananas, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Cool huh! Now let's look at a cost comparison:

Homemade VS. Store Bought Baby Food

Homemade Carrots - 4 oz. = $.09
Store Bought - 4 oz. = $0.63

Homemade Sweet Potato - 4 oz. = $0.31
Store Bought - 4 oz.= $0.63

Homemade Bananas - 4 oz. = $0.10
Store Bought - 4 oz. = $0.63

I think you get the idea. Super cheap, super yummy. I think even if you bought organic fruits and veggies you would save some money. Plus you know what your baby is eating and it can be super fresh, think of putting all those garden veggies you are going to grow this spring to work helping your baby to grow healthy and strong.

In the near future I will be posting about how to can homemade applesauce. We did a bunch this fall and I even canned some for baby girl with no sugar added. It turned out super yummy. Not only does she love it so does the rest of the family. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Green Tomatillo Salsa - Canned

Tomatillos don't have to be peeled just cored and chopped.
I loved canning Green Tomatillo Salsa! Unlike the tomatoes that are used in Tomato Salsa, you don't have to peel tomatillos. You just have to chop them up and throw them in. This is a lot less work and the results are delicious.

I followed Ball's recipe for Tomatillo Salsa. Which can be found here. I have also included it below with a few changes that I made.
Simmering Tomatillo Salsa

 5-1/2 cups chopped cored husked tomatillos (about 2 lbs or 27 medium)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped green chilies (I used a combination of Jalapenos and green peppers.)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp minced cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vinegar
4 Tbsp lime juice
4 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
I omitted the Red Pepper Flakes because I chose to use Jalapeno Peppers. 


Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until salsa reaches desired thickness.
Ladle the hot salsa into prepared jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims and put hot lids and bands onto jars.
Process jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours.

Remember that it is not safe to change the ratio of tomatillos, peppers, onions, and garlic to the amount of acid used (vinegar and lime juice). The only thing that can safely be changed is the amount of spices you use. Always use an approved recipe when canning salsa.

Home Canned Tomatillo Salsa
You can also try my recipe for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa found here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Gallon of Water a Day: My New Challenge

Drink a Gallon of Water a Day for Better Health
On Friday, I was reading a magazine at the doctor's office. It was some random beauty magazine that I was just thumbing through. There was this picture of an actress or model, some name I didn't recognize, and it said she was 40 years old. The photo of her looked like she was in her late 20's. She really did look great. Now, I know that the photo was probably airbrushed and all her cellulite was magically removed with the click of a mouse. It wasn't so much her photo that caught my attention. It was the little caption by the picture asking her what her anti-aging secret was. She said that in her 30's she had starting drinking a gallon of water a day and that had changed everything for her. She noticed immediate changes in her hair, skin, nails, weight, etc. and that she had been drinking a gallon of water every day since then. This is nothing really new of course, we all have heard about the health benefits of drinking more water, and the majority of us don't drink near as much as we should. I know I fall into this category myself. But the thought struck me at that moment at really how simple it could be, drink a gallon of water a day, to change your health for the positive in a significant way. So I decided I would give it a try and see how it would benefit me. Now obviously this commitment has to be long term and I plan for it to be just that. So far I haven't noticed any change except the obvious, but at eight months pregnant what is a few more trips to the bathroom. I have been at it for 3 days. The first day I failed, I could only get down a half of a gallon. I didn't start early enough, that is the key. The second day I almost made it, only fell a few cups short. Today is my third day. It is almost 4 pm and I am almost done with my gallon. My method for doing this was to rinse out an empty milk jug and fill it up each night, so it has all night in the fridge to get nice and cold. I highly recommend using some kind of container so you can really see your progress. You have to drink a lot of water in the morning I think to be successful, especially if you don't want to be up all night, which is already a problem for me anyways. If you think about it, drinking that much water really makes it so you eat less and you are not drinking other things that are high in calories, like soda or juice. That will definitely help you to shed unwanted pounds and be healthier overall.  At eight months pregnant I know I won't see any obvious change in my weight at least right now, but I am hoping that once this little sweetheart arrives, my new habit of drinking a gallon of water a day will help those pounds melt off. In addition even if you are already at a healthy weight drinking more water has so many other health benefits, so everyone should do it.  I will keep you updated on my progress and if you decide to give this a try, let me know how it works for you. One thing I do know is it can't hurt.

A New Adventure. . .

Once again, you may have noticed we haven't been posting much lately.  Life has hit us with another major change recently and so things have been very busy around here. Jacob started a new job in Arkansas about a month ago now. We are very excited about our New Adventure. The kids and I are still in Texas, working on selling our home. So there hasn't been much time for blogging, but I am working on a few posts that will be coming your way soon. So check back . . . We hear that Arkansas is great for gardening, a lot more rain than we get here, that in and of itself is exciting for us. Ya'll know how we love to garden . We can't wait to get our hands into some Arkansas soil.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Update

I have been making Homemade Laundry Detergent for quite some time now. It saves a ton of money. It is easy to make and I am happy with the cleaning results. I posted the recipe for it here: . Since that post I have made one change to my detergent that I really like and so I wanted to update everyone in case you wanted to try it out.
Fels-Naptha great for Homemade Detergents

Here is my original recipe:
1 Bar Grated Soap (Ivory or Zote)
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Soda

Instead of Ivory which is what I was using I decided to try out Fels-Naptha. Well I love it. I think it is far superior to Ivory (sorry Ivory, better for the shower I think). The Fels-Naptha grates up nicely (looks like cheddar cheese) and has a great scent to it.

Grating up my Fels-Naptha for Homemade Laundry Detergent
The great thing about the Fels-Naptha is you only have to use 1/3 bar to equal 1 bar of Ivory. So I always make a triple batch of detergent.  Here is the new recipe:

1 Bar Grated Fels-Naptha Soap
3 Cups Borax
3 Cups Washing Soda
Mix Thoroughly. Use 1 TB. per load.

I have not tried Zote out yet but I will give it a shot in the future and let you know where I think it ranks. As for now, I am loving the Fels-Naptha and the cost is pretty much the same. If you are interested in a break down of how much homemade detergents and cleaners can save you check out this post:

You can find Fels-Naptha, Borax, and Washing Soda in the laundry isle at your grocery store.