Monday, September 28, 2015

Crockpot Lasagna

Working and getting meals cooked are not always the easiest combination and sometimes it is overwhelming. (I need to start meal planning!) My Crockpot has been my saving grace on multiple occasions. And lets be honest how nice is it to throw the ingredients in and get everything else that you want to do done (or even go to Zumba) and it takes care of cooking? This is actually one of our favorite meals, let alone favorite Crockpot meal. This is so easy and you don't even have to cook the noodles!!!!!

Crockpot Lasagna

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1lb venison burger (or more)
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 pack of lasagna noodles
4 c. shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a pan and cook the onion until transparent.
2. Add the burger and seasoning and cook until meat is brown.
3. Pour in the tomato sauce and mix and let cook for about 2 more minutes.
4. Mix together the 3 cheeses in a bowl.
5. In the Crockpot, begin layering 1/3 meat, 1/3 noodles (I break them and make sure they cover the layer of meat), 1/3 cheese. Continue 2 more times. 
6. Cook on low for 4 hours.

That is seriously it! Lasagna cannot get any easier!!
Adapted from

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Zoodle Pasta

This was a first for me. I cooked for myself. Normally when my husband is out of town I go for the frozen means (I know, I know they are bad for you). But they are easy. However, this night I decided (with a little help from the Food Network) that I would try to make something just for myself. I had some sauteed zoodles leftover and did not want to waste them. It was so delicious.

Zoodle Pasta

2 cups of sauteed zoodles
1 quart of spaghetti sauce
2 cups of pasta (I used shells) 
2 Tbsp Ricotta Cheese
1 lb burger (I did not add this to mine)

1. Boil the pasta
2. In a large pan, heat the zoodles and add the sauce
3. Spoon in the Ricotta cheese and mix well
4. Drain pasta and add to the mixture

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sauteed Zoodles

In case you can't tell, I might be a little obsessed with zoodles! It is fun to make them and they taste so good. 

Sauteed Zoodles


2 large yellow zucchinis 
1 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1 large onion
2 carrots
2 Tbps olive oil
10 ounces of cherry tomatoes, halved


1. Spiralize all the zucchinis, squash, onions, carrots. Keep the onions separate.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook until they are translucent.
3. Add the zucchini, squash, and carrots. Stir and cook until they are limp. 
4. Add the tomatoes and stir. Allow about 3 minutes for them to cook

This is great served as a side or added into a sauce with pasta.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Canned Hot Peppers

Calvin absolutely loves all things spicy. So the only thing I found for this was a recipe to go by. He wanted a way to keep his peppers all year. So we went to the Ball website (which a great resource for canning) and found an idea to try. This will make 7 quarts. 

Hot Peppers Canned

12 cups White Vinegar
12 garlic cloves crushed
4 cups water
5 gallon bucket of peppers (about 60) (We used Hot Hungarian Wax Banana Peppers, Thai Peppers, and Habanaro Peppers. For color and an extra kick of heat)

1. Mix the vinegar, garlic, and water in a large sauce pan.
2. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and let stay warm on low.
3. Clean your peppers, you can chop them or leave them whole. We preferred whole.
4. Pack the peppers into your sterilized jars and pour the hot liquid over them. 
5. Take the lids out of hot water and place on the rims of the jar (that should have been wiped down)
6. Place the bands and tighten. 
7. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes
8. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. 

*These are great to use in my Better than Canned Salsa recipe or if you are like my husband, straight out of the jar.
*If you do not prefer a garlic taste you can remove the garlic before you start to ladle the hot mixture over the picklers.
*We forgot to put it in ours, but Ball Crisper should go in before the hot mixture if you want crisper peppers.

Recipe adapted from:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Zucchini Brownies

This is an amazing twist on brownies that is actually healthy! So good. My husband cannot keep his hands out of the dish (neither can I)! You cannot even taste the zucchinis. I made a icing for them but you really do not need it.

Zucchini Brownies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce (but you can use vegetable oil, applesauce is just a healthier option)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (take out of the freezer and let defrost or shred about 2 fresh zucchinis)
3-5 Tbsp water (this is used if the mix turns out dry)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13 Pyrex pan with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil spray.
2. In bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
3. In the kitchen aid mixer, mix together the applesauce, sugar, and vanilla until well combined (about 30 seconds). Mix in the flour mix, a cup at a time. 
4. Fold in the zucchini. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes. (If it is still thick add some of the water. If it is watery add some extra flour.) Mix in the walnuts.
5. Spread in prepared pan.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes until the brownies spring back when gently touched.

The frosting:

3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (there is a measuring spoon for a pinch!!)

1. Mix the butter, cocoa, salt, and powdered sugar. Add in the milk and vanilla. 
2. Cut the cooled brownies and spread over cooled brownies.
3. Put in the fridge and let chill. The icing will still be gooey under neath.

Adapted from:

Bread and Butter Pickles

This is one of my mom's favorite types of pickles. They are delicious on a sandwich or just enjoyed alone. This recipe makes 7 pint jars.

Bread and Butter Pickles
5 lbs of cucumbers 
4 large onions
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup canning and pickling salt
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
5 whole cloves

1. Cream cucumbers, trim stem and blossom ends. Cut either in 1/4 inch thick slices or use your mandolin for length wise slices. (we did a mixture)
2. Cut onions in half, and slice crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices. Place cucumbers, onions, and bell pepper in a bowl, toss with salt. 
3.Cover and let stand for 3 hours at room temperature; drain.
4.Sterilize jars and prepare lids. While jars are boiling, bring vinegar and next 4 ingredients to a boil in an 8 quart stainless steel stock pot. Stirring just until the sugar dissolves. (I suggest doing this in a well ventilated area)
5. Add drained cucumber mix and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes (until the cucumbers turn a dark green)
6. Ladle hot mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. 
7. Process jars in water bath for 10 minutes.
8. Remove and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Better than Canned Salsa

Since we have such a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, we have been looking for new recipes to try and test. One thing we will not be canning this year is salsa. Calvin absolutely loves my fresh made salsa. The only thing we are going to can for it is our whole tomatoes and we will begin canning peppers this week. This is a really simple recipe with almost no preparation, just sit back and let the blender do its job!

Fresh Salsa


1 quart of canned whole tomatoes or 1 28 oz can from the store, drained
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 of a medium white onion
2 jalapenos, stems cut off and seeds cleaned out (you can leave the seeds to make the salsa spicier) 
1 garlic clove
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cilantro


1. Throw it all in the blender.
2. Blend until the consistency you prefer. I blend until almost smooth.
3. Refrigerate until ready.

Monday, September 7, 2015

French Bread

This is the best recipe, it is really simple and easy but looks like it took a long time! My husband loves it and constantly asks me to make more of it. It is great with soups and stews or for a sandwich. I love to spread Nutella and warm it in the oven.

French Bread

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I start with 3 1/2 and add as needed)

1. Combine water, honey, salt and yeast in processor with dough hook. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until there is a foam on top. (Trick for measuring honey: spray the measuring spoon with Pam or olive oil spray and the honey will quickly slide off!)
2. Knead in flour, 1 cup at a time, until no longer sticky.
3. Place on a baking pan, and cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425.
4. Cut slits in the top and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until crispy on the outside. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Spaghetti Sauce

We are still getting tomatoes. I know this winter we will sure be glad we put in all this hard work for them. I have been reading cookbooks and searching the internet for new recipes to try with tomatoes. One thing we knew we would need to can is spaghetti sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce
Makes about 6 quarts of sauce.

About 20 pounds of roma tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
8 Tbsp Parsley
8 Tbsp Basil
8 Tbsp Oregano

*The ratio is for every blender full of tomatoes needs 1 garlic clove, 2 Tbsp of parsley, basil, oregano*

1. Wash and cut then ends of the tomatoes. (You do not need to worry with peeling or coring!)
2. Add to the blender until full. 
3. Add garlic clove, parsley, basil, oregano.
4. Blend until smooth. I added extra tomatoes until I had a full blender of smooth tomato mix. 
5. Continue with remaining tomatoes
6. Simmer sauce on medium heat stirring occasionally until it reaches it desired consistency. (Helpful tip: if you put the sauce in the fridge over night the juice will separate and you will be able to see how much juice remains.)
7. Sterilize jars and add 1 tsp of salt for quarts and 1/2 tsp for pints to each jar. (If you are using low acid tomatoes you will also need to add a tbsp of lemon juice if you are water bathing)
8. Add warm mixture to sterilized jars
9. Leave 1 inch head space. Wipe rim and place lid and ring on jars.
10. To pressure cook, process pints at 7 lbs pressure for 20 minutes or 12 lbs pressure for 15 minutes for quarts. If using a water bath (you must use lemon juice) process for 45 minutes in boiling water.
11. Remove and let sit until at room temperature. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Canned Green Beans

I have come to realize that I have married a doomsday prep-per. In our garden we planted 4 rows of slenderette and tenderette green beans and 4 more rows of late green beans. All 8 rows produced! We had more green beans than we could eat. We decided freeze 14 quart bags and canned the rest. 

Frozen Green Beans:

1. Snap ends off
2. Blanch in boiling water for about 3 minutes
3. Dunk into ice cold water
4. Pack into Ziploc freezer bags
5. Throw into freezer and use when needed.

Canned Green Beans:

1. Snap ends off
2. Cut into 2 inch pieces
3. Pack green beans into jars
4. Add 1 tsp salt for quarts and 1/2 tsp for pints
5. Ladle hot water leaving 1 inch head space.
6. Put into pressure cooker
7. Cook for 25 minutes at 11 pounds pressure for quarts and 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes
8. Set on counter and allow to cool for 24 hours

Grape Salad

Happy Labor Day Weekend Ya'll! We are all heading in different directions going to different parties. One of the most stressful things is what to bring, especially when you don't have a ton of time to get something together and God forbid it is a dessert. My go to dessert recipe is my Grape Salad. It is a hit no matter where we go and it is quite possibly the easiest dessert to throw together beside just going and buying something.


Cream cheese mixture 

Grape Salad

1 pound green seedless grapes
1 pound red seedless grapes
8 oz cream cheese, soften
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 sleeve Butterfinger, crushed
1 cup pecan
3/4 cup brown sugar

1. Rinse and Dry grapes
2. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla. Add grapes and mix until the grapes are coated. (Optional: add an extra 1/2 cup of pecans and some of the butterfinger mixture) 
3. Layer in a 9 x 13 pan
4. The topping is simple. Mix the crushed Butterfingers, pecans, and brown sugar.
5. Evenly cover the grape mixture.
6. Refrigerate. The longer the better.