What’s in the Garden? My Basket of Blessings Runneth Over With Peppers

It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve harvested peppers.  As I walked past the raised bed each morning on my way to feed the chickens, I would glance at the pepper plants.  The red, orange, yellow and green peppers were peeking out of the branches.  I knew it was past time to harvest more peppers, so this morning after feeding the chickens I figured I would harvest a full basket of peppers.  To my surprise, I harvested not one but four baskets full!

blessings-runnith-over-peppers

I brought the peppers inside, washed them, and let them dry.  On one of the shelves in the freezer of my refrigerator, I keep a plastic bin with incomplete bags of veggies.  I first cut the peppers that I needed to fill the bags of sweet and spicy veggie mix (see previous post here).  Then I finished filling the bags of fajita veggie mix (see previous post here).  I moved the completed bags to the upright freezer in my utility room.

wash-peppers

I spent the next couple of hours prepping and completing more bags of the veggie mixes.  I also decided to cut the larger peppers in half so  that I could make stuffed bell peppers.  When I finished cutting, bagging and freezing all the peppers, it was lunchtime.

I think it is time to  put some stuffed peppers on the grill.  I will share that recipe with you in my next post.

–Penny

My October Young Living ER Order (and FREE Oils!)

Want to see what I ordered in my October Young Living Essential Rewards (ER) order? Watch below to view my You Tube unboxing video. Have you started your oily journey yet?

In case you are not able to watch the video, here’s what I ordered this month:

(1) White Angelica Essential Oil – 5 ml
(1) Christmas Spirit Essential Oil – 5 ml
(1) Grapefruit Essential Oil – 15 ml
(1) Cedarwood Essential Oil – 15 ml
(1) Thieves Essential Oil – 15 ml
(1) Thieves Aromabright Toothpaste – 4 oz
(1) Lavender Volume Conditioner – 236 ml
(1) Lavender Volume Shampoo – 8 oz
(1) Mirah Shave Oil
(1) Shutran Shave Cream

Since I met a certain PV amount, I also got this oil FREE!!!:

(1) Palo Santo Essential Oil – 5 ml

Finally, since I met a certain PV amount AND my order was an essential rewards order, I also got these oils FREE!!:

(1) Lavender Vitality Oil – 5 ml
(1) Clove Vitality Oil – 5 ml

Ready to start ridding your home of toxins and replace them with all natural, healthy products? Email me, or click the link below.
https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-start?sponsorid=3868620&enrollerid=3868620&isocountrycode=US&culture=en-US&type=member

october-yl-er-order

Ghost Halloween Party Treats

It’s almost Halloween!!  My son had his Halloween party at preschool today, so I thought I’d share the party treats we made for him to bring to school to share with his classmates.  They were fairly quick and easy to make (and they weren’t too bad on the budget either), which is always a plus around here these days!

What you’ll need:

A bag of Tootsie Pops (or any kind of suckers)
A pack of gift wrap tissue paper
A roll of white ribbon or string
A black permanent marker

One bag of Tootsie Pops said that there were approximately 17 suckers inside (we needed 14), so we only needed one bag.  If your child has a larger class, you’ll need more bags.

Step One: Fold a sheet of tissue paper as shown.

step-one-fold-tissue-paper

Step Two: Cut in half (I cut along the fold line that was already there from packaging).

step-two-cut-tissue-paper

Step Three: Place the sucker in the middle of the rectangle of tissue paper.

step-three-place-sucker-on-tissue-paper-rectangle

Step Four: Wrap the tissue paper around the sucker and tie it with a piece of ribbon or string.

step-four-wrap-around-sucker-and-tie

Step Five: Draw two eyes and a mouth (my son did this part) for the ghost face.

step-five-draw-ghost-face

Step Six: Add a Halloween message with your child’s name on the back of the ghost.

step-six-write-happy-halloween-message-on-back

We made 14 in about 20 minutes or so last night for the party this morning. Did your child bring treats for Halloween to school this year? What did you send for them? Share your ideas and pictures in the comments below.

–Brandi

ghost-sucker-treats-halloween

What’s Cooking? Eggplant Fries

Each spring when I plant my eggplants, my family and I wait in anticipation for the first harvest.  No one ever has to ask me how I am going to cook them.  The first eggplants of the season always become eggplant fries.  After a long hot summer, my eggplants weren’t producing much anymore.   However, I didn’t pull the plants out of the garden.  Now that it’s autumn, I have begun harvesting eggplants again and my family and I were all in agreement that it was time for eggplant fries.

First, prep the eggplant:  Refer to my “What’s in the garden? Eggplant” post for more details.  Wash them in cool water and allow them to dry.  Peel the eggplants with a small paring knife or potato peeler.  Slice the eggplant into thin strips similar to french fried potatoes.  Place the sliced eggplant into a colander and sprinkle with salt to help remove bitterness.  Let the eggplant rest while you prepare the batter.  You will notice beads of water rolling off the eggplant and falling into the colander, so make sure that you place the colander in a bowl or the sink to avoid a mess on your counter.

*Prepare the batter by mixing:
1 egg
¼ cup of milk

egg-and-milk-batter-for-eggplant-fries

*Prepare the coating by mixing the following and placing into a resealable bag or container with a lid:
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

One of the changes I have made in my pantry is that I no longer buy flour or cornmeal.  I grind my own.   Once I compared the smell of fresh ground flour to the flour I that had sitting on the shelf in my cabinet,  I no longer bought flour or cornmeal.  I grind it fresh each time I need it.  In future posts I will share that journey.

*Rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry.
*Place a handful of eggplant fries into the egg and milk batter.
*Remove from the batter and place them into a container with the coating mix.
*Place the lid on the container and shake until the eggplant is evenly coated.
*Remove coated eggplant and place on a clean plate.


*Pour 1 ½  cups of oil  into a black iron skillet or frying pan and turn the stove on high.  If you use a thermometer, you can begin frying when the temperature is at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I don’t have a thermometer, so after a couple of minutes, I test to see if the oil is hot by placing one of the coated eggplant fries into the oil.  If it begins to sizzle, it is usually hot enough, so I add more eggplant until there is a single layer in the pan.  Do not put too many at one time or they will not get as crunchy.  When the eggplant browns on one side, flip them over and allow them to brown on the other side and then remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.  Repeat until all are cooked.  Then enjoy!

–Penny

Frugal Living: How to Feed Your Family for a Week With Just One Chicken! Recipe #2: Homemade Chicken Broth

As promised, here’s the second installment of How to Feed Your Family for a Week With Just One Chicken! Click here to see the first post if you missed it.

This week’s recipe should actually be cooked right after recipe one.  Once you’ve cooked your whole chicken in the crockpot and removed the meat from the bones, throw the bones, and any skin and/or fat, right back in the crockpot (yes, with the onions and the juice that is already in the pot).  Add in the following ingredients:

1 – 2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 – 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped (sometimes I use the leftover pieces of celery that I normally wouldn’t include in a recipe, but that are technically edible since we are just looking for the flavor here)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh parsley (or about 1 tsp dried parsley)
1 sprig of fresh thyme (or about 1 tsp dried parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste
*sometimes I also like to add a few garlic cloves or some minced garlic, depending on what I have in the house

Now fill the rest of the pot almost to the top with water.  Cover, and then let it cook on low overnight.  In the morning, you’ll smell a wonderful, savory aroma of homemade chicken broth.  Turn off your crockpot if it hasn’t gone off on it’s own, and then take out a large bowl and a strainer.  I usually strain my chicken broth into a large bowl, and then transfer the broth from the bowl into the smaller freezer containers.  Do whatever is easiest for you.  Make sure to label your containers with the contents and date before putting them in the freezer for long term storage.  I only make one batch of broth from these chicken parts, but I have heard of others who will throw it all back in the pot, add more water, and put it cooking again.  I just simply don’t use that much broth on a regular basis to do so.

So what do I use my chicken broth for? I have an easy one-pot recipe for chicken alfredo that calls for chicken broth.  I include my homemade chicken broth in gumbo and in chicken tortilla soup.  I also use it in soups, and sometimes even as a replacement for beef broth, depending on what recipe it is.  What do you use chicken broth for?

–Brandi

 

What’s in the Garden? Eggplant

My blessings from the garden today are eggplants.  This year I planted a few varieties.  The Florida Market and the Black Beauty are dark purple eggplants.  The third variety is a green eggplant that I think is called the Louisiana Green.  The green eggplant is my favorite since it is usually a little less bitter.  However, I have a harder time finding the plants in the spring and therefore planted more purple eggplants than green.  Today I only harvested purple eggplants.

harvested-purple-eggplant

Since I don’t freeze my eggplants, I usually cook them the day I harvest them. Some of my favorite ways to cook my eggplants are eggplant fries, eggplant Parmesan, grilled eggplant, stuffed eggplant and eggplant pizza.  Even though I cook them in different recipes, I always begin by washing them in cool water and allowing them to dry.  Although some people don’t peel their eggplants, I choose to peel mine for all my recipes except when I am baking stuffed eggplant,.  I remove the peeling with a small paring knife or potato peeler. Next, I slice my eggplant.  If I am making fries, I cut them in thin strips similar to french fried potatoes.  When making eggplant Parmesan or pizzas, I cut the eggplant into circular slices.  For grilling, I like to cut the eggplant diagonally into long strips.

After cutting an eggplant, I place it in a colander and sprinkle it with salt. I believe that it helps to remove bitterness.  Once again, this is a step that some people choose to skip.  I let the eggplant rest for about 30 minutes.  You  will notice beads of water rolling off the eggplant and falling into the colander so make sure that you place the colander in a bowl or the sink to avoid a mess on your counter.

eggplant-sliced

Lastly, I rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry.  These eggplants are cut in thin strips which means that I am cooking eggplant fries.  I will share the recipe and pictures in my next post.

–Penny

fried-eggplant-fries

Frugal Living: How to Feed Your Family for a Week With Just One Chicken!

This is another crockpot recipe! Yay! (Don’t have a crockpot? Don’t worry.  I have a hack for you at the end of this post.)

When my husband and I began discussing the idea of me staying home with our children full time, we began watching our spending more closely.  In order to reduce our monthly grocery budget, I began researching ways to make food go further.  This was also around the same time that I began choosing more whole-food recipes and leaving behind the boxed, processed “convenience” foods.  (Honestly, I find my crockpot recipes are more convenient than the boxed stuff because you do a little prep work the night before or the morning of, and you can come home from work with a healthy dinner ready to go!  Who doesn’t love that?)  This recipe fits both categories – cheap and healthy!  However, today will just be day one of my chicken recipes.  Check back each Thursday for the next few weeks to see how I make this one chicken feed my family over and over again (therefore saving us money!).  For ease of navigation, I’ll add each week’s link to the bottom of this post, so feel free to pin this link and keep checking back here to find the newest recipe.

So here’s what you’ll need:

Crockpot
Meat Thermometer (my crockpot has one attached)
Whole chicken (make sure it will fit in your crockpot)
Your favorite all-purpose seasoning (I used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)
1 Onion

sale-whole-chicken

 

Here’s how easy it is to cook:

1.) Cut the onion in half.  Place it in the crockpot with the cut side up.

onions-in-crockpot-2

2.) Make sure the chicken is completely defrosted if it was frozen.  Remove any innards.  I do rinse off my chicken before seasoning and cooking, but that is optional.  Season both sides thoroughly.  (If you want to be more detailed, you can inject some of the seasoning, but I no longer do that and I still find it tastes great).

seasoned-whole-chicken-in-crockpot

3.) Place the seasoned chicken on the onion halves.  I place my chicken on its back so that my crockpot’s temperature sensor can be put in the breast of the chicken.

whole-chicken-in-crockpot-with-temperature-probe

4.) Cover and cook until the breast reaches a temperature of 165-170 degrees.  I cook my chicken on high and set the sensor to 170 degrees, so my crockpot turns to “warm” instead of “cook” once the chicken reaches that temperature.  There will be liquid at the bottom of the pot with the onions, that is totally normal.  We will use that for homemade chicken broth, which I’ll teach you how to make in my next post.

cooked-whole-crockpot-chicken-2

That’s it! You’re done!

Once the chicken is cooked, you can remove it from the crockpot and clean the meat from the bone.  For supper that night, we usually each have a piece of chicken with a large serving of steamed vegetables (broccoli is a favorite here) and a buttered roll or a slice of French bread.  If you can remove the meat from the bone before serving your family members, do so (yes, even the chicken leg).  This way you can keep the bones for your stock.  So there’s easy meal #1 from our whole chicken.  Check back next week to find out how to make your own healthy chicken stock from the leftovers of this meal.  Enjoy!

crockpot-chicken-with-broccoli-and-french-bread

P.S. Those of you who scrolled down for the hack to this recipe? Simple: Buy a whole rotisserie chicken at your grocery store’s deli counter.  You’ll pay a little more, but you’ll still be able to use it in the same ways we will over these next few weeks. 🙂

Recipe 2: Homemade Chicken Broth
Recipe 3: Chicken Caesar Wraps
Recipe 4: Chicken Quesadillas
Recipe 5: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Recipe 6: Chicken Alfredo
Recipe 7: Chicken Pesto Sandwiches

–Brandi

feed-your-family-for-a-week-with-one-whole-chicken

DIY Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix

In the past, when I planned to cook fajitas, I would buy that little packet of fajita seasoning mix at the grocery store.  That changed a couple of years ago as I progressed in my journey to simplify my life and aim to eat more unprocessed food.  Why was I buying a packet of seasoning mix when all the basic seasonings in that packet were in my spice cabinet?  Convenience?  Besides, making my own mix allowed me to control the ingredients and avoid preservatives and fillers.  Even the spices in my cabinet have changed over time.  As I use the last of a spice from the jar, I replace it with an organic version.  The first change I made was replacing the box of white salt with organic Himalayan pink salt.  Now most of the spices in my cabinet are organic.  I am also finding that the flavor and aroma are stronger and more satisfying.

I make this mix one cup at a time.  There are about 16 tablespoons in a cup, so I use two tablespoons of  each of the following:

salt
onion powder
garlic powder
paprika
cumin
chili powder
oregano
cilantro
homemade-fajita-season-mix-ingredients
Considering that most fajita seasoning mix packets contain 2 teaspoons of seasonings, and 1 cup is equal to 48 teaspoons,  I will cook fajitas many times before making another batch.  Now that is time saving and convenient!  Besides, less time in the kitchen leaves more time for gathering blessings from the garden-like eggplants.

–Penny

Thieves Oat Bites

completed-thieves-oat-bites-3I found this recipe on a Young Living facebook group.  I’ve only made it once so far, but I know it will be a regular treat in our home, especially during the fall and winter seasons.  My 4 year old son enjoyed helping me make these and everyone in our family loved eating them!   This recipe is super easy, since there’s no baking involved, and has lots of healthy ingredients (including Young Living Thieves Vitality oil which can help to boost your immunity).
thieves-vitality-essential-oil

Ingredients:

1 cup of oats
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of ground flax
1/3 cup of chocolate chips
A dash of vanilla
2 drops of Young Living Thieves Vitality Oil

thieves-oat-bites-ingredients
This is how simple it is: place all ingredients into a bowl and mix.  Roll out the mixture into individual sized portions.  Let cool in the refrigerator to set.  I bet these would also taste great rolled in some kind of crushed nuts or maybe even with a little sprinkle of cocoa powder.  Enjoy!!
completed-thieves-oat-bites-2

–Brandi

What’s Cooking? Fajitas

This day I cooked chicken fajitas, but you can use beef, shrimp, or if you want a meatless choice, use mushrooms in place of the meat.

Preparations:
First, you  will need about 12 ounces of bell peppers.  I used my bag of frozen fajita sliced peppers from the freezer and this saved me some prepping time. (refer to previous posts- What’s in the Garden? – Bell Peppers and What’s in the Garden? Banana Peppers ).  Since I still have peppers growing in my garden, I will return the empty freezer bag to the freezer and the next time I harvest more peppers this year, I will fill the bag again.

Next, you will need 1 large onion sliced into thin wedges.  I did not have any onions prepared in my freezer so I had to take a little extra time to slice it now.

2fajita-onion-sliced
Then, I chopped 2 large chicken breast (about 1 and 1/2 pounds of chicken) into slices.  I placed the chicken into a bowl and added 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of fajita seasoning.  I make my own seasoning and will share that on my next post.
3-fajita-cut-chicken
If you don’t have fajita seasoning you can add 1/3 teaspoon of each of the following seasonings: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro you  can leave it out).

4-fajita-seasoned
Cooking:
I like to use a black iron skillet when cooking fajitas.  I place the skillet on the stove and turn the heat to high.  I let my skillet get hot and then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about 1/3 of the strips of chicken to the skillet and allow them to brown.  When they are browned on one side, I turn them over and brown the other side.  Then I remove them from the pan.

The drippings in the pan will be a nice brown color.  I add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and this time I add 1/3 of the onion and bell peppers.  The moisture  in the veggies helps to deglaze the pan and seasons them.  When they have cooked to our desired texture (some like them crunchy some like them soft), I remove them and add them to the cooked chicken. If you tend to like your veggies cooked more on the soft side, you  may have to add a tablespoon of water at a time to allow them to cook down without burning.

I repeat these two steps until all of the chicken and veggies are cooked.  Then I return all the chicken and veggies to the skillet, taste and add more fajita seasoning if desired.
11-fajita-done
Serve:
Most fajitas are served on tortillas, but we eat ours on a lettuce leaf.  If you are trying to eat low carb or paleo, lettuce leaves will work for you.  My final step was to add some guacamole and shredded cheddar cheese.
12-fajita-served
It is time to refill my fajita seasoning jar, so I will share that on my next post.

–Penny