Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Canning Toy

I know, I know.  I've not been on here hardly at all this week.  Do you ever have a week where you just can't seem to get anything accomplished?  That would be me this week.  Between filing our taxes and nightly meetings, there has been no time for much else.  Meals have consisted of things that I've had in the freezer - what a life saver!

I did however, get a new toy this week.. 

It is the Ball FreshTech Jam & Jelly Maker.  Supposedly it takes the standing at the stove and stirring constantly for so many minutes out of play because it does it for you.  I've already got plans for this new toy this weekend.  I can hardly wait.

One thing I like about this product is the recipe book that it comes with.  It starts off telling you the difference between jam and jelly, so you can decide which one you'd rather make.  For example, jam is made with crushed fruit plus sugar and pectin and have a spreadable gel, but jelly is made with fruit juice, sugar and pectin and are usually firmer than jams.

There are several recipes included with the book and the manual for assembly is very easy to follow. 

Look for some future blogs about this machine and recipes!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet Pepper Sausage Bake

Smoked sausage is delicious.  Add some peppers, onions and potatoes in the mix, and now you have a complete meal.

After making the beef fajitas the other night, I had left over peppers and onions.  I decided to try a new...experimental dish and it turned out fantastic!

Here are the main ingredients that you will need.  I actually doubled everything, except the potatoes and put a batch in the freezer.

Sweet Pepper Sausage Bake

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium sized onion
1 bag of sweet peppers, cleaned and sliced
1 package of skinless smoked sausage
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Peel, wash and cube the potatoes.  Wash of the peppers and slice them lengthwise as thick or thin as you want them.  Do the same with the onions.  Slice the sausage into bite size pieces.  Put all ingredients in a large bowl and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Mix well.  Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the aluminum foil.  Pour the ingredients of the bowl on the sheet of aluminum foil, making sure everything is evenly coated in the olive oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top and cover with another layer of aluminum foil sealing the top and bottom pieces together.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Serve.

Sweet peppers
Mix in a bowl and transfer to the pan.
My hubby decided he needed some black olives and mushrooms in it too.
So we added those at the last second.
Aluminum foil lined pan.
I don't know why I usually seem to forget to take a picture of the finished product.  Could be because I am so excited about trying it out...I assure you though, this is a keeper.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beef Fajitas

I am all about making things as simple as possible.  On my last post, I had make rump roast in the slow cooker.  Today, I am taking the leftovers from the roast and making beef fajitas.  There isn't much to making fajitas so that's why there is just one picture.

Basically, I chopped up the rest of the roast into bite size pieces.  I then sliced some sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes.  I put it all in a skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil and cooked until my vegetables were soft and the meat was heated through thoroughly.  I added some steak seasoning and served it with warm tortilla shells (heated in the microwave), cheese and sour cream.  Doesn't get simpler than that and it only took 20 minutes from start to finish.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Slow Cooker Rump Roast

Slow Cooker Rump Roast

I use my slow cooker (or Crock pot) at least once a week.  Not only does it save time, but it's very simple to clean up.  There are times when I love a good roast, and at other times, it just doesn't sound good.  The good thing about making roasts, is that you can always use the leftovers for something else (more on that on my next post).

Here is what you need to make SLOW COOKER RUMP ROAST:

3-4 pound rump roast
1 small can of beef broth
1 package of brown gravy mix
salt and pepper
Vegetable of your choice
*Note:  My husband and I don't like cooked carrots, so that's why you don't see any orange carrots in the!

Cut and dice up the vegetables that you like.  In my roast this time, I used a can of mushrooms, 3 diced potatoes and 1 medium onion.  Put these in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Next, rinse of the rump roast and pat it dry with a paper towel.  Put it in the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.  In a small bowl, combine the brown gravy mix and the beef broth and pour it over the roast.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on high for 3.5 hours or low for 6 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a roll!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Yellow Cake Cookie Bars

There is nothing better than simple and easy to make.  On the weekends, I don't mind cooking, but through the week, time is of the essence.  Most nights I don't get home until 5:20 P.M. and then there are chores to do on the farm, dinner and clean-up. That is why I like recipes like the one below:

Yellow Cake Cookie Bars

Yellow Cake Cookie Bars

1 box (15 oz) Yellow Cake Mix
5 T butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 (12 ox) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Add the yellow cake mix.  This is a stiff batter, so you might want to use a mixer.  Stir in the chocolate chips (I also add 1 cup of baking M&M's).  Spread mixture into the greased pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  It will turn a golden brown when it's done.  Let cool and cut into bars.

Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add eggs and mix

 Add the box of yellow cake mix and blend well.

Add the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
I only had the mini chips, so that is what I used.

You can also add baking M&M's, nuts, etc.

Spread into greased pan and bake accordingly.

These are great with ice cream!!!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Tribute to My Grandma

Saying goodbye to the ones we love is never an easy thing to do.  I know that we are not supposed to have favorites, but I admit my Grandma Hensley was my favorite grandma.  She passed away almost three weeks ago.  Here's a tribute to her.

My Grandma lived the last decade of her life as a prisoner in a body that was filled with sickness and solitude– yet she never complained.  She was able to show joy to those around her and rejoiced even when she didn’t feel like doing so.  Today, sickness, age and pain are no longer a factor as she has a resurrected body that is whole again.  She has regained the use of her limbs, she talks in a voice that has been silent for so long, and she’s content.  
When grandma had her stroke, she lost the capacity to talk normal.  She could only say certain phrases:  mommy, I know that, NO, and I love you.  She never lost heart though.  She made the best of it.  The remarkable thing was that she could kind of sing the words to two or three songs.  One of the songs was Amazing Grace.  I believe that even though grandma had suffered a terrible stroke that rendered her body and voice immobile, she still felt God’s amazing grace on her each and every day. 

She adored all of her grandchildren and referred to us as sugar babes.  During the summers, grandma would take us for long walks down to the lake, help us collect rocks for our special rock collections, have jars ready for the lightening bugs we caught at night, and maker her infamous biscuits and gravy for us to eat in the mornings.  She also wanted us all to grow up big and strong by feeding us our Flintstone vitamins.

I’m quite biased, but as a grandma, she was the best.  She always said she had a special place in her heart for each one of us.  Little did she know that we all hold a special place for her as well.  As children, we don’t quite comprehend or realize the unconditional love that our grandmother’s have.  After all, she had a sign in her house that read, “If mom says no, ask grandma.”  That’s true love right there.  Grandmothers are also extremely patient with us.  When our parents want to beat us to a pulp grandmothers talk to us calmly…over milk and cookies.  Grandmothers also give us guidance and life skills in a way that is fun rather than task orientated.  As adults, we come to realize, often to late, how lucky we have been to have such an amazing woman to call our grandma. 
Grandma wasn’t much on cursing or swearing, but she when she would get really mad, her face would turn red and she’d say H-E-double hockey sticks.  Now for awhile, she could get by with that because we couldn’t spell, but when we could all finally spell, she was the one in trouble!
I shared with my grandma several months back all the things that she has taught me throughout my life.  She taught me the importance of going to church and praying, she bought me my first nightgown, she taught me how to clean house and to make a bed, she told me that smoking was wrong and why, she gave me a love for antiques in which I decorate my home with today, she encouraged me to find the good in people and not focus on the bad, how to cook for a crowd, how to be a gracious hostess to company, but most of all, she taught me love.  Not only was she my grandma, but she was my best friend. 

Irene HensleyMarch 12, 1936 - January 18, 2013


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Slow Cooker Lava Cake

Slow Cooker Lava Cake

One of my favorite items to use in the kitchen is the slow cooker.  It is so versatile and can cook a complete meal for me while I am at work...or I can make a warm, delicious, chocolaty dessert while I watch the Super Bowl.

This past weekend, I had four slow cooker's going with food for the big game.  One of the favorite dishes of the night was this recipe for Slow Cooker Lava Cake. 

Tip:  Use slow cooker liners when cooking in your slow cooker, for a much easier clean up!


1 box of Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding
1 bag of milk chocolate chips, 12oz (You can also use semi-sweet if you don't have milk chocolate).

Prepare the cake mix according to the instructions on the box and then pour the batter into the slow cooker.  Next, prepare the box of instant pudding mix according to the directions and then pour into the slow cooker over the cake batter.  Once that is complete, sprinkle the bag of chocolate chips over the top of both batters.

Turn the slow cooker on high and cook the cake for 3 to 3.5 hours.  The cake will start to peel away from the sides once it is done.  The cake will also show little bubbles on top that looks like lava.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Prepare the cake mix according to the instructions on the box and then pour the batter into the slow cooker.

Cake batter.

 Next, prepare the box of instant pudding mix according to the directions and then pour into the
slow cooker over the cake batter.

Cake and pudding batter together.

Milk Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chips

After 3 hours on high, the cake is done!
It is even better the second day...if it lasts that long:)