Monthly Archives: June 2011


Garden Update #5


My garden is really coming along.  The peas are growing, attaching to the screen, blossoming.  I transplanted the strawberries and they are doing great, as is the pineapple sage plant.  The zucchini may possibly pull out of the funk, there is one growing, we’ll see if it makes it through and others grow.  The tomatoes are over five feet tall now and growing fruit, none have ripened yet, though.  Same for the cherry tomatoes.  Still not sure if the cucumbers are going to pull out of the funk they are in.

I am definitely learning a lot through this process and will do things a bit differently next time.  Over all I am very thrilled with the success that I’ve had and how exciting it is to grow your own food.

The sunflowers I planted are sprouting and so are the wild flowers.  We’ll see if they make it through.

Here are some pictures.


Menu Plan Monday – June 27, 2011


Last week went as planned, menu-wise.  I didn’t actually make a casserole with the sausage and rice but it was still tasty.  This week I will be making some freezer meals in preparation for my time away, so the family left behind can have some easy meals.

Rice Bake (Double for freezer)

Beef Strips

Chicken Enchilada Casserole (Double for Freezer)

Sloppy Joes

Orange Marmalade Chicken


Not sure yet on this – something easy that will be ready to eat when we get home from church

For more great ideas head over to:


Rice Bake Casserole


You can play around with it as far as cheeses and the greens.  It’s super easy and a great way to use leftovers.

2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 small onion, minced
Pinch cayenne
Season Salt – I use Morton’s and/or Kirkland’s no salt seasoning
1 package frozen spinach/kale/collard greens, thawed, drained and chopped (I have also used fresh spinach, uncooked)
1 cup milk (or chicken stock)
2 eggs
2 cups shredded cheese – sharp cheddar or Mexican blend
4 cups cooked rice
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped basil leaves
(I use dried spices as I don’t usually have fresh spices on hand and you use about 1/4-1/2 the amount)
Salt & pepper

You can leftover chopped up chicken to this or leave it out for a vegetarian dish.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter a large casserole dish.

Saute onions with olive oil and cayenne until translucent.  Add the
greens and cook for 3-10 minutes.  If you’re using collards, they need a
longer cook time, shorter on the spinach.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, which together milk and eggs.  Add the cheese, rice,
parsley, thyme, basil and spinach mixture and combine well.  season with
salt and pepper.

Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with extra shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes and serve piping hot.

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Beef & Cornbread Skillet Pie


1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef – I used ground chuck, but you could use whatever, venison would be yummy!
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt & Pepper
Favorite seasoning “salts”- I use Morton’s Nature Season Salt & Costco No Salt Season
2 cups beef stock – I’ve used chicken in a pinch
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons Turbinado Sugar
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
Cornbread topping:
1/2 cup GF Flour Blend
1/2 cup Cornmeal or Corn Flour
1 1/2  teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar – I use Turbinado or Sucanat
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons oil – I use olive
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400°

Put large, oven-safe, skillet over medium high heat, add oil and onion, cooking until a bit caramelized.  Add ground chuck and seasonings.  Cook until mostly cooked, some pink is fine, it will finish off in the oven.

While your meat is browning you can make the sauce.  Mix together stock, ketchup, sugar, ACV, dry mustard.  Pour over browned meat.

Combine dry cornbread ingredients, set aside.  Combine milk, oil, egg, mix well and add to dry ingredients.  Stir until smooth.  Drop big spoonfuls of batter on top of the meat – biscuit style.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cornbread is done.

I wanted to try this in the crockpot and I’m sure it will work well.  You still have to brown the meat, but you could do that ahead of time and then just throw it in the crockpot and top with cornbread.  Not having tried it, I’d probably try 2 hours on high or 3-4 on low.
Also, I personally wanted more cornbread than there was, so I doubled the cornbread the second time and then spread it all over the top instead of having the biscuits.
Another idea is to add beans or veggies to the meat.  My family liked it just the way it was and asked that I not “improve” on the recipe.
I love to have a picture when I make something, but I don’t want to see food pictures that are unappetizing, as I often do on blogs, so I didn’t have a picture that looked good.  But, I based this recipe off of this recipe and they had a great picture.
One more tip/idea – you could use a box mix for the cornbread to make it even simpler.


Menu Plan Monday – June 20, 2011


Menu last week went pretty much as planned except for the Cider Glazed Chicken – ended up having Southwest White Chili instead.  One good thing is we found out our A/C wasn’t working right, that’s why it was so hot in the afternoon, looking forward to using the oven again!

Cider Glazed Chicken
Apple Cider Green Beans

Bean and Cheese Enchilada Casserole



Chili Pie


Apple Chicken Sausage & Rice Casserole
Veggie or Salad

Oven Roasted Chicken

Chicken Soup

I will try and post some of these recipes this week.

For more great menu ideas head over to:


Pizza Pasta Bake


16 oz bag of GF Pasta (Tinkyada holds up great)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella – 1 cup to stir in – 1/2 cup for top
2 cups Pizza Sauce – homemade or you can buy it
Hormel Mini Pepperoni – I used 1/2 a bag but use as much or as little as you want.  These are gluten free and they come in original and turkey.

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook pasta on the short side of the time required.  So it will be al dente. 
Drain and stir in 1 cup mozzarella, pizza sauce and pepperoni.
Top with remaining cheese.
Bake 12-20 minutes if you just threw it together.  If you made it ahead, and it’s cold, you’re need a bit longer – say 30 minutes or so.


Menu Plan Monday – June 13, 2011


I have realized this week that with weather in the upper 90°’s turning the oven on is definitely outside of my comfort zone.  Trying to keep the house cool in the late afternoon and evening is seeming impossible.  So I have begun baking early (7am ish) in the morning and trying to grill, use the stove-top only or crockpot.  All that to say, that my menu changed a bit last week.  I never made the pizza as it is just too hot to have the oven on for 45 minutes to an hour.  I also adapted one recipe (Chicken Enchilada Casserole) for the crockpot so I didn’t have to use the oven.  I skipped the Potato Leek Soup and opted for Turkey Tenderloins I got at Sam’s Club, cooked in the crockpot with carrots and baked potatoes in another crockpot.

So for my menu this week, I’m trying to cook everything either on the grill or in the crockpot – stovetop for some. 


Sweet and Savory Beef
Green Beans

Grilled Chicken Breast
Potato & Carrot Packets on Grill


Cornbread and Beef Skillet (in crockpot)

Coconut Curry Chicken
Coconut Rice

Pasta Bake

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken



For more great menu ideas check out:


Lime Chicken and Cilantro Rice


2 handfuls of tiny baby carrots, sliced thin

½ a large Vidalia onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 large chicken breasts cut up

2 Tablespoons butter and/or olive oil

Seasoning for chicken – I use Costco No Salt Season

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup chicken stock

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups uncooked instant rice

1 cup frozen peas

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped


In a skillet put the oil/butter.  Add onions and carrots, let them start to sauté. After about 5 minutes, add the garlic and chicken.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes.

In a bowl, combine cornstarch stock, lime juice, zest and salt.  Stir until smooth.

Add to skillet and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for a couple of minutes or until thickened. 

Stir in rice and peas, remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. 

Just before serving, stir in cilantro.

Side note:  I used frozen chicken breast and cooked partially then, took them out and chopped them up.  I also didn’t have instant rice, as I don’t typically use this.  But, I did have 10 minute rice, another leftover, that I thought I could use up in this dish.  But, next time I would probably just use cooked rice and cut the liquid by ½.  At worst I’d end up with a little bit of a saucy dish.  I could stir it into the meat mixture or just serve the mixture over the rice.  This would be a great way to use up leftover rice.  You’d need about 3 cups cooks.


Garden Update – #3


Learning to garden is a bit of challenge and new realizations come up regularly. 

For instance when you plant pickle cucumbers don’t plant them right next to your tomatoes or they will vine out and attach themselves to the tomato plant.    I don’t know if you can tell from the picture which plant is which, but the bigger leaves belongs to the cucumber plant. 

No ill affects have occurred, so far. In checking all this out I did find that
one cucumber grew and there are many little tiny cucumber starts. 

The big strawberry plant is doing awesome and many of the blossoms are bearing fruit.  I still plan to transplant the long planter into a bigger pot.  I just need some container soil.   

On Sunday I applied plant food for the second time and I’m hoping that this is going to help these plants produce.  The “Big Boy” tomatoes are starting to produce and the tiny little patio tomato plant has given us several.  I just planted some onion seeds, I read that they are good to grow under tomato plants so I thought we’d give it a try.

The herbs are doing great.  I am so surprised at how large the pineapple sage has gotten.  It is really starting to take over.  I may have to move it to a single container.  I’m not even sure what I’ll do with this herb, I just liked the way it looked at smelled at the nursery.

Kady’s sunflower is doing amazing. 
Mine, unfortunately, met with an untimely demise of my own making.

The peas I planted are just about ready to, hopefully, start climbing up that screen.  Super excited to see if that is going to work.


Menu Plan Monday – June 6, 2011


I changed my menu last week a bit.  I decided on Memorial Day to change my whole menu.  I ended up cooking out.  I made BBQ Chicken Breasts, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Sweet Potato Fries, Baked Potatoes (since there wasn’t enough sweet potatoes), Ice Cream and Three Berry Cobbler.  Also, I never did post the Veggie Lasagna recipe as it didn’t really turn out.  I guess I should have written the recipe down last summer!  I’ll need to work on this recipe.

Another change was the Lemon Chicken and Rice – I turned that into Lime Chicken and Cilantro Rice.  I didn’t have any lemons, and I needed to use up the cilantro.  I will try and post pictures and a recipe this week.

Sweet n Sour Chicken
Coconut Rice

Tamale Pie (based on this recipe)  I will try and post a recipe of this if it turns out

Smoked Sausage



Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Potato Leek Soup

For more great menu ideas head over to:

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