She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31

Monday, March 31, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Ham, Broccoli & Potato Casserole

This recipe comes my sister in law, Teresa. She was kind enough to share it with me.

This is a great way to use up that leftover ham. But the best thing about this recipe is that you can remove the ham completely and make it a veggie casserole. I just load up on the broccoli and it really is just as good. I usually make two because my husband loves the veggie casserole even better!

Ham, Broccoli & Potato Casserole
3 baking potatoes, thinly sliced (1 1/4 lbs)
1/4 c butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp pepper (I use more because I am a pepper fanatic!)
About 10 oz of broccoi (you can use a bag of frozen as well)
2 c cubed ham

Cheese Sauce
3 T flour
3 T butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
2 c milk
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

First, arrange sliced potatoes in a 13x9 baking dish. Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in salt, pepper and paprika. Drizzle butter mixture over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until potatoes are browned and tender when pieced.

While those potatoes are cooking, prepare broccoli by steaming or cook according to package instructions. Drain & set aside. Arrange broccoli over cooked potatoes. Then add cubed ham over broccoli.

Now for the cheese sauce ~ melt butter in a small saucepan. Blend in flour, salt, dry mustard & pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Turn of heat and add cheese. (Oh my! I'm getting so hungry just typing this!) Pour Cheese Sauce over potatoes, broccoli & ham. Sprinkle with paprika for some nice color.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes more.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Frugal Living ~ Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

With prices going up, up, up on everything from fuel to food items, we are on a mission here at our home to stretch our income.

This week I came upon a recipe from Toni of Amazing Grace for making your own laundry soap. My early calculations suggest that the cost of this recipe is about 1/4 the cost of the least expensive commercial soaps.

So I cooked up a batch last night. Already, I have washed 3 loads of clothes with this soap including a batch of yucky, sweaty, rambling through the woods boys clothes ... and I am really pleased.

Here's the recipe:
16 cups water
1 bar of soap (your choice but many sources suggest Ivory, Fels-Naptha, Sunlight Bar, Castile or Zote)
1 cup of baking soda
1 1/2 cups borax

Before beginning, finely grate your bar of soap.

Boil the 16 cups of water in a large pot. While boiling, add your grated soap and whisk continuously until it completely dissolves. Remove from heat.

Next add borax and baking soda. Whisk it up really well. Continue to whisk throughout the day as it cools. It may begin to gel over the next 48 hours, but you don't need to wait to use it.

You may store in old commercial detergent containers or any other covered container as well.

I followed Toni's directions and added 1/2 cup of the soap per load. My clothes came out fresh and clean. And if my estimates are correct, this recipe is going to save us some money that could be better spent elsewhere. Isn't that just wonderful?

I've read several other homemade soap recipes at MJF and other sources that require using "washing soda" which is a bit different from baking soda. I have yet to find a local source, but I'd like to try that as well.

I welcome your comments & suggestions! Check out Toni's Link in my sidebar!

Give it a try!


Monday, March 24, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Cheese Stuffed Shells

Here is another yummy italian recipe that our family really enjoys. The original incorporates spinach in the cheese mix, but I left it out because I knew Katy of The Country Blossom wouldn't even look at it if I added the dreaded "spinach" word to the title! LOL But for added nutrition, I'll tell you at the end when to add spinach.

Cheese Stuffed Shells
1 jar (32 oz.) spaghetti or marinara sauce (or your very own homemade sauce!)
1 cup water
1 egg
1 carton (16 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 packages (8oz.) shredded mozarella cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 package (8 oz.) manicotti shells ~ about 14

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.

Place 1 cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Stir in 1 cup of water; set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat egg. Stir in ricotta cheese, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, salt & pepper until well blended. Using a table knife, fill manicotti shells with cheese mixture. Arrange in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells to coat completely. Cover tightly with foil.

Bake for 1 1/4 hours or until shells are very tender when pierced with fork. Sprinkle with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Return dish to oven for 3-5 minutes to melt cheese.

Spinach option ~ If you'd like to add a little more color, nutrition and flavor to this dish, you can add spinach to the cheese mixture. You can use fresh or frozen spinach ~ In either case, cook up your spinach and finely chop it. Drain it very well and squeeze it dry. Then just add it to your cheese mixture before you stuff the shells. It is so good!

I serve this meal with whole grain bread and another vegetable on the side.

Often, I reserve a small portion of the ingredients to make a small dish that my husband can take to work. He always appreciates a nice homecooked meal while he is away. Last week, he even called me in between bites to let me know how much he was enjoying a "hot" meal in the middle of the day. It was a nice way to bless him, and it just made my day happy to receive his call as well!

Be blessed,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Country Kids

We were so blessed this week to have the fellowship of some dear friends & cousins at our home. The weather was warm and the children had energy to spare!

Cousins Mia & Lilly with Colton on the trampoline

Cousin Sky & Colton

Our friend Jireh making a silly face

Cousins Isabella & her mama Tiffany

Swinging Colton

Life just doesn't get sweeter than watching these precious little faces smile!

Be blessed

Monday, March 17, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Pecan Pie

Today's recipe is one that my friend, Julie, shared with me. Last week she brought us the most delicious Pecan Pie. (Thanks Julie!) It lasted only 24 hours under our roof before it was gone. In fact, I had to stop my husband from swallowing this last piece so I could take a photo! And even then I think he pulled a pecan off the end and ate it anyway! LOL

Give it a try. You won't be disappointed!

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 cup pecans
3 eggs

Mix sugar, butter and syrup together. Add beaten eggs and then pecans. Pour into 9 inch pie shell. Bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes.

Isn't that wonderful? My husband loves pecan pie but he always has to wait until the holidays for our moms to make one. I can hardly wait to try this recipe for myself!

Be blessed,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pure Sweetness

Every March 8th for the past 22 years, my husband has brought me a small bouquet of 2 pink roses and 1 white rose in honor of our first date. He is such a sweetheart, and I am a blessed woman indeed!

Be blessed,

Monday, March 10, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Today's recipe is for a delicious Pineapple Upside Down Cake made the old fashioned way in an iron skillet. Even my son, who does not like cake, loved this recipe!

And this is such a fun recipe. I just love using my old cast iron skillets. What better way to use them then to make a yummy cake from scratch!

Here's what you'll need:

3 T butter
1 C brown sugar
1 can (15 oz.) sliced pineapple, drained

Melt butter in a large iron skillet. (I used a #8.) Then spread the brown sugar over the butter. Lay pineapple slices, close together, over the sugar.

1/2 C butter, softened
2 C flour
1/2 C milk
1 C white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

Cream together butter and sugar. Separate eggs and beat yolks and white separately. Add yolks to the sugar mixture.

Sift flour and baking powder. Alternately add milk and dry ingredients to the egg yolk/sugar/butter mixture. Add vanilla and fold in eggs whites.

Pour over pineapple slices in the skillet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until cake begins to brown.

Loosen around the edges and turn out onto a large plate so fruit side will be up.

Serve with whipped cream.

The outside crust of this cake is so buttery and delicious. You can also add cherries in the middle of the pineapple rings before baking for added color and taste.

I found this recipe in the most recent Country Door catalog. It is a neat little catalog with all sorts of country & shabby decor. And sprinkled throughout are decorating tips and recipes. And it's free! (Don't you just love that word?) Just click on Country Door to visit their web site and request a catalog!


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Clean 2008 ~ The Laundry Room

First, I must preface these photos with this disclaimer. The photos you are about to see are shocking beyond belief. My mother raised me right and she is not responsible for the state of my laundry room before I cleaned it. (How is that, mom?)

Let me also say that this is one of two worst areas of my home. I tend to throw everything in the laundry room or master closet to keep the primary areas of the home neat & tidy. But no more! My new motto is:
"A place for everything and everything in its place!"







To accomplish this amazing transformation, I:
* Removed everything from the room including emptying the cabinets & storage shelf
* Clean the floor thoroughly
* Cleaned storage shelf & cabinets
* Returned only the items that really belonged in the laundry room
* The remaining items were returned to their proper place, the attic or Goodwill
* Cleaned the washer, dryer & utility tub thoroughly
* Made a curtain to hide the storage shelf and make the room look more orderly

Well that's it folks. Did you hear my husband gasp when he first opened the laundry door? I think he was amazed because he could ACTUALLY open the door! LOL

Now on the dining room & pantry today! This is really fun!

Be blessed,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Finally ...

Newly listed on eBay ~ these grubby bunny sisters!

Just click on my eBay button in the sideline to take a peek.


Look What the Postman Brought!

I was speechless when this surprise package arrived in the mail from my farmgirl friend, Nancy Jo! I have a small collection of antique oil lamps and this hand-embroidered oil lamp pillow could not be more perfect. And her stitches are the tiniest you've ever seen. It's gorgeous!

She also sent a tiny little pillow stitched with a chick and filled with cinnamon fragrance, mmmmm, as well as a bar of Almond Biscotti goat milk soap from Hick Chicks Soap Barn and two darling little candle sticks with stars at the bottom. (I love to decorate with stars!)

I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Nancy Jo. And though it was absolutely unnecessary because I will help you with your blog anytime you need it, I love every special item and will cherish them as gifts of your friendship!

Here is one more photo of Nancy Jo's pillow sitting next to a pillow that I made in our fireside chair. Don't they make a delightful pair?

Warm farmgirl hugs,

Monday, March 3, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Sausage Potato Casserole

Enjoy breakfast for supper with this hearty casserole. Our family just loves it. Serve it with a side of pancakes and fresh fruit for a complete meal!

Sausage Potato Casserole
1/4 c oil
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
4 c milk

8 to 10 potatoes, boiled and sliced
1 lb ground sausage, browned
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Combine oil, flour, salt & pepper in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until hot. Whisk in milk, stirring constantly, until thickened; remove from heat.

Lay sliced potatoes in bottom of an ungreased 13x9 baking dish. Crumble sausage over potatoes. Pour flour mixture over it all. Sprinkle generously with cheese on top.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese begins to brown slightly.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

This original recipe called for pork sausage, but we have substituted turkey sausage, venison sausage or morningstar crumbles. They all tasted just wonderful. And don't forget, you can microwave those potatoes to save time too!