Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Slow Cooked Beef Roast

After being together for over 10 years, I finally did it.  I finally perfected a roast!  Jason took one bite of this roast and instantly claimed that it is, by far, "the best roast you've ever made".  Score!

I'm not sure what it was - the seasoning, the tomato sauce....whatever it was, it worked and Jason and both of the kids gobbled it up.  Redmond even took leftovers to school the next day for lunch!

And, since this is a crock pot meal it couldn't be easier.  Load up the crock pot in the morning and you've got dinner waiting for you in a few hours.

Slow Cooked Beef Roast


Ingredients:

For the roast:
3-3.5lb chuck roast
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp rosemary, divided
1 tsp parsley, divided
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

For the veggies:
1 lb baby carrots
1 large onion, cut into chunks
1 1/2 lb potatoes, cut into large pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups no salt added tomato sauce

Directions:

1.  Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  On a large plate, combine the flour through the black pepper for the roast and mix well.  Coat the roast on all sides with the flour mixture and, once the oil is hot, brown the each side of the roast.  You'll know that the roast is ready to be flipped when it easily gives away from the pan.  Once every side is browned, place the roast in your crock pot.

2.  In a large bowl, combine all of the veggie ingredients except the tomato juice.  Once mixed well, add the veggie/seasoning mixture to the crock pot.  Pour the tomato juice over the veggies and roast.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve, eat up, and enjoy!





~ Sara :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stuffed Zucchini

This is a great 'carnitarian' meal.  When I make Jason's, I add in Italian sausage.  For me, I usually just double up the amount of veggies, but you could also add in vegetarian/vegan "sausage" too. It's healthy and filling.  Loaded with veggies and topped with cheese to give it up the delicious factor.

You can use diced sausage links or ground sausage.  Or, like I already mentioned, omit the meat all together and add more veggies!

Stuffed Zucchini
Serves 2


Ingredients:

1 1/4 lb zucchini, cut lengthwise and seeds removed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 Italian sausage links diced, 1/2 lb ground Italian sausage, or 2 veggie sausage links diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
4 oz mushrooms, diced
8 oz no salt added tomato sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Carefully drop the zucchini halves into the water and boil for 1 minute.  Remove and drain well.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute the sausage until cooked, drain any fat and wipe the skillet dry.  Return the skillet to the heat and add in the olive oil, pepper, onion, and mushrooms.  Saute until the veggies are tender; add the tomatoes and sausage and season with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat.


3.  Coat the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce and arrange the zucchini halves skin down.  Fill the zucchini with the sausage & veggie filling.  Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with the mozzarella.


4.  Bake the zucchini for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and the cheese has melted.  Remove, allow to cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!


~ Sara :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Vegetable Eggrolls

Chinese/Japanese food are one of my favorites.  Unfortunately, we don't have a decent place in our town, or anywhere close so if I have a craving, I've got to get busy in the kitchen!  Eggrolls have always been a favorite of mine.  Thankfully, I'm able to make these at home.  They're simple to make, freeze excellently, and much healthier than the deep fried (but delicious!) ones that restaurants serve.


You can easily double this recipe to make a larger batch.  Simply freeze uncooked eggrolls individually then, once frozen, place all of them into a large freezer bag.

Vegetable Eggrolls
Makes 12 Eggrolls

Ingredients:

12 Eggroll wrappers
1/2 head of Napa Cabbage (approximately 3 cups), shredded
1 large carrot, julienned/shredded/diced
1 celery stalk, sliced thin
1 cup bean sprouts
4 scallions, sliced thin
1/2-1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 large garlic clove, grated or minced
3 tbsp Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
Olive oil

Directions:

1.  Combine all of the ingredients, except the eggroll wrappers and olive oil, into a large bowl and combine well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes; up to 3 hours.


2.  Once the filling has time to meld together, remove it from the fridge and begin assembling the eggrolls.  Place an eggroll wrapper on a flat surface with a corner pointing towards you.  Dip your fingertip into water and run your wet finger around the edge of the wrapper - this will help keep the eggroll "glued" together.  Place about 2 tablespoons of filling (make sure you drain any excess liquid) 1/3 of the way up from the bottom.  Bring up the bottom corner, tucking in the filling, and roll twice.  Fold in the sides and roll the rest of the way.  


3.  Place the eggrolls on a baking sheet (you can freeze them to use later at this point).  Brush the top of each eggroll with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until they begin to turn golden brown.


4. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce(s) and enjoy!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Easy Ways to Save Money Everyday

Hey y'all!  I'm linking up with Momfessionals today to share with you a few ways that we save money.  I'm sure my husband will laugh at this post because he doesn't think I know what the word "save" means, but when I sat and thought about it, I was surprised at just how many things we (I) do that saves us money each day!

1. Meal Planning
Every Friday, I create a meal plan and grocery list for the week.  I make one big grocery trip on Saturday mornings and then make quick trips a couple times per week, mainly for bananas.  We go through bananas like whoa, y'all.  This keeps me out of the grocery store, therefore I'm not buying things I don't need.

2.  Cooking from Scratch
 I would say that 90% of the recipes I make are from scratch.  I purchase a very limited amount of processed foods.  I make all of our peanut butter, hummus, pita bread, taco seasoning, vanilla extract, hamburger buns, and even apple cider vinegar, just to name a few.  And, it doesn't have to stop at food - you can make your own beauty products too.  Check out my Vanilla Peppermint Lip Balm.

3. Shopping at Aldi
Aldi's price on both produce and cheese can't be beat at any other stores in my town.  I also love going in there because you never know what random (cheap!) things you're going to find.  Example - I found an awesome pineapple corer/cutter for $2.99!  I've seen the same thing elsewhere for over $10!

4. Ibotta
If you haven't signed up for Ibotta yet, you should!  It's an app on your phone that pays you for buying certain items.  Once you purchase said items, you scan the barcode and send a picture of your receipt and you get paid for it!  They hold the money until you decide where you want it to go - Paypal, Amazon, iTunes, etc.  Plus, they are always running little bonuses where you can earn even more money.  It is slightly time consuming (we're talking like 5-10 minutes), but I think it's worth it.  I've been using it for a couple years and have made almost $600!  If you want to sign up, click here.


5. Eating at Home
We eat out, on average, once per week.  We've found that food at home just tastes better.  This is a huge money saver.  For the 4 of us to go out to eat, we will easily spend $30-$60.  I can make the same meal at home - and have it taste better - for less than $15.  Jason also packs his lunch every day.  When I plan the menu for the week, I purposely make enough of each dinner so there is enough left over for him to have lunch the next day.

6. Using Glass & Metal
Over the last few years we have been replacing all of our plastic ware with glass and/or stainless steel.  Glass and stainless steel are more durable, last longer, don't stain, and, well, are just better for your health in general.  I recently published a post with some of my favorite non-plastic everyday items.  Check it out here!
                   
These are two of my favorites - Meadowcraft Tumbler and Ello Water Bottle

7. Reusable Sandwich Bags
These are great, guys!  Now that I've got a kindergartener (*sniff, sniff*), I'm packing a lunch every day.  If it wasn't for these bad boys I would have already gone through a two or three boxes of plastic sandwich/snack bags. I have two favorites - Lunchskins with velcro and Nordic by Nature with a zipper.
      
Lunchskins (velcro) and Nordic by Nature (zippered)

 8. Gardening
If you poke around my blog enough, you'll see that we're gardeners.  We're learning as we go, but there is better than fresh veggies and fruit picked right from your own backyard!  When we're in harvest season, I hardly buy any produce at the store.  Well.....except bananas.....


         

9. Canning
To go right along with gardening - I also preserve a lot of our crops by canning and freezing.  Tomatoes, pasta and pizza sauce, tomato juice, jams, jellies, relishes, salsa, cherries, peaches, apple pie filling, etc.  As our garden grows, so will our stash of both canned goods and freezer items.

  

10. Raising Chickens
I sure do love my ladies!  We added chickens to our homestead in late March of 2015.  They started laying five months later....we haven't bought eggs since! They are low maintenance and fairly cheap to feed.  Plus, they eat a lot of our scraps that would otherwise fill our trash can or be composted.

      

11. Composting & Recycling
By creating our own compost (another thing chickens are great for!), we don't need to purchase fertilizer or additional soil for our garden.  And, by recycling, you're not only saving the landfills, but you're cutting back on the amount of trash bags you use.  We have a 6 gallon trash can in our kitchen.  We average one bag of trash per week.  By composting and recycling, a box of trash bags lasts us months!

Check out our DIY compost bin here!

12.  Diva Cup and Reusable Pads
I know, I know, people don't want to talk about this kind of stuff.  The looks I got from some of my girlfriends one night when I brought it up were hilarious!  But, I'm here to tell you, these items are life changers!  Not only are they better for your health, but also the environment.  They do take a little getting used to, but now I can't imagine going back.  Using both the Diva Cup and these Bamboo pads saves us money each and every month!

Now on to the good stuff - our splurges!

Now, I'm sure if you asked Jason he'd say I splurge on everything :)  But, there are two things that we definitely splurge on:

Vacations
When we take a trip, we fully enjoy our time away.  We stay at nice hotels, eat at good restaurants, do whatever touristy things we want to do.  We're there to enjoy ourselves, relax, and have a great time.  We want to make sure that's exactly what we do!

    

Dining Out
When we do go out to eat, it's never fast food.  If we're eating out, we're sitting down, having a few cocktails/beers, and enjoying our meal and each other.  We have no problem paying money for food when it's good, quality food.

Florence, Italy - 2008

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Sara :)



Monday, January 23, 2017

Hamburger Buns

These buns.  Oh, these buns, y'all!  These buns are so good!   They get requested a lot - by friends, by family....they're perfect for burgers, pulled pork/chicken/beef, veggie burgers, paninis, or even just a regular ol' sandwich.  They can easily be shaped into hot dog/hoagie buns, be made small for sliders, or even just as dinner rolls.  Once you taste these, store bought buns will not do.  In our house, if we don't have homemade buns, we just go without!


Hamburger (or Hot Dog) Buns
Makes 8-10 buns, depending on desired size


Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 egg, slightly beaten
4 tbsp room temperature unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp sugar
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder (optional - I like to add this when making these as dinner rolls)
2 tsp yeast

Optional:
Egg wash (egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water)
Sesame seeds

Directions:

1.  Add all ingredients to your bread maker per its instructions and select the dough cycle.

2.  Once the cycle has finished, remove dough and divide into equal portions (I like to use a kitchen scale for that).  Shape the dough into smooth balls, place on a cookie sheet and allow to rise for 30 minutes.  I find the best place for dough to rise is in the oven (turned off) with the oven light on.

      

3.  Once the buns have risen, preheat the oven to 375.  Before baking the buns, gently press down to flatten.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.  Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Remove, allow to cool, slice and enjoy!

      


~ Sara :)

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Keeping Chicken Water Thawed without Electricity

There is nothing more important for a chicken's (or human's) health than fresh water.  Having constant access to fresh thawed water during a Michigan winter can become a bit tricky.


I've heard great things about heated waterers, - like this one - heated bases, - like this one - and even heated bowls - like this one - to keep your water in or on.  The problem?  We don't have electricity that runs to our coop so these are not an option for us.


What I have found are two solutions that *help* keep the water thawed for a longer period of time.  These are not fool-proof and will not keep the water thawed and fresh all day in below freezing temperatures, but I'm only having to go out every 4 hours or so to check the water, not every hour.


First up is a Salt Water Bottle. Take a small bottle (I used a small Gatorade bottle) and fill it 1/3 of the way with salt.  Fill the rest of the way with warm water, close tightly, and shake to dissolve the salt.  Place the saltwater bottle (make sure it's sealed tight!) in your waterer and fill as normal.  



The saltwater bottle will act as an insulator to the water and will slow the freezing process.  This does a decent job with the temperature is in the teens and twenties.  I checked on the water after about 5 hours in 13 degree weather and there was just a thin layer of ice in the trough with water available underneath the ice.  The ice was thin enough that the chickens could easily put their beak through it to drink.

        

Even leaving the waterer outside overnight, in below zero temperatures, the water never froze solid.  


Tip/Trick number two are these little heat packs. (Find them here.)


These stay warm for up to 10 hours and really help keep the water thawed when the temperature drops around and below zero.  I just activate one and place it under the spout of the waterer on the ground.


While neither of these methods will keep your water completely thawed, they do prolong the freezing process and keep you from thawing water out all day long.  If you have any other tips or tricks to keeping water thawed that does not involve electricity, please share them with me!

~ Sara :)

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