Thursday, July 30, 2009

Garden Fresh Green Beans

I am quite literally buried in the garden harvest, canning jars, and freezer bags. So please excuse my quick little post this morning.

There is nothing like green beans fresh from the garden. That fresh bean taste just can't be found in anything canned or frozen. I like them so much that I eat quite a few straight from the vine while picking.

I can many of the beans we pick, but we often make a whole meal out of them. My favorite way to prepare fresh garden beans is to simply I fry little bacon with onion, then added a little water, and the green beans. Let it all simmer for awhile until the beans are tender. Sometimes I will just throw it all in the crock pot on low for the day. Then add a little salt and pepper. Cubed potatoes are a nice addition to this dish. Most of the time this bean dish becomes an entire meal with the addition of some homemade cornbread. It is quick, easy, and oh so delicious! In fact, this may be dinner tonight.

Now, back to the canning.

P.S. Don't forget that Saturday is the First. Please join us for Firsts on the First, and share something new you have tried recently!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Milk Jug Bird House

Here's a project you can make with the kids to squash the summer boredom blues!

Items Needed

clean milk jug
wooden trowel
utility knife
cardboard circle about the size of a soda can or cup
pencil or pen
permanent markers, paint, stickers, or any other water proof decorations

  1. Make the loop to hang your bird house. Make two holes in the milk jug lid with the hammer and nail. Knot one end of the twine and thread through the bottom of the lid. Leave enough twine to make a loop by threading the twine through the other hole and knot to secure.
  2. Create a door to the house. Trace the cardboard circle on one side of the jug and cut out with the utility knife.
  3. Make the perch for the birds. Drive a nail in the sides of the milk jug and slide the trowel inside and through to the other side. If your trowel is to large to fit in the hole you may need to use the utility knife to make the hole large enough to slide the trowel through.
  4. Add the finishing touches. Screw the lid on the jug and decorate with permanent markers, paint, foam stickers, etc. Add some bird seed to the bottom, hang and watch the birds find their new home.
Find other craft ideas and recipes at Frugal Front Porch.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Carnival #126 - Summer's Bounty

Welcome to this week's edition of the Make it from Scratch carnival.

July is almost over, and that means a bounty of summer produce to enjoy. Whether you grow your own or buy your fresh produce, there is nothing quite as good as that fresh from the garden taste of summer. This week's carnival features ways to use and preserve that summer goodness.

The Bounty of Summer

Uncanny presents Cherry Jelly posted at Adventures in My Freezer. Isn't that jelly just a beautiful?!

We planted rhubarb this year. It didn't make it. The next two recipes make me think I need to try again! Cricket presents Rhubarb Pudding Cake posted at Smiling Country Ranch.

Squawkfox presents Dessert Recipes: Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Apples posted at Squawkfox.

CindyS presents Bread and Butter Pickles posted at Small Homestead. Check out her neat tip for keeping pickles crisp. I plan to try it today!

Caren presents Sprouting Basics - Mung Beans posted at The Prudent Pantry. A wonderful way to enjoy fresh produce year round.

Other Delicious Items

Katie presents Recipe Connection: Sausage Spinach Pasta Toss posted at Kitchen Stewardship. And as Katie states this would be fabulous using fresh garden tomatoes.

Make it from Scratch presents Banana Strudel Muffins posted at Make It From Scratch.

Annette Berlin presents Fried Tortilla Dipping Sticks posted at Craft Stew. I love this idea!

Mama Bear presents How To Make A Lattice Top Crust posted at Gotta Little Space. It is a very simple way to make a pie look fancy!

Katie presents Yummy Panini's posted at OC Mom's Activity Guide. Thanks to this post I am watching for a George Foreman grill on the cheap.

Alex presents Lime Key Pie Recipe posted at Home Life Weekly. This looks like a perfectly refreshing dessert for summer.

How To

Carrie presents Wall Art out of Postcards and Scrapbook Paper posted at It's Frugal Being Green. I love this simple and cheap way to decorate.

Abi presents Happy Dance!!! posted at lighter side. What to do when you've scorched your favorite pan.

00FF00 presents Start a Crafty Box posted at ooffoo. This is a fabulous how to especially for us non crafty moms who have children who love to craft.

RecycleCindy presents Crocheted Baby Thongs posted at My Recycled So stinkin' adorable. Cindy always has such great projects!

Thank you for joining us for the carnival this week. Next week it will be hosted by Frills in the Hills. Submit your posts via the Blog Carnival form.

Also, join us for Firsts on the First this Saturday. I will be sharing a new canning recipe I plan to try this week. Have you tried something new this month? Share your post with us on Saturday!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mini Magnetic Corkboard

~Heather also blogs at HEATHER LESSITER and The Fat Bottomed Girl.~

I've been needing a corkboard in my kitchen for some time now. Everytime I venture into the office supply aisle in the stores, which is often and you women know what I mean, I get into a debate with myself over the corkboards. What size do I need? Where will I put it? Will anyone besides me even use the thing?

Then, one day I was sloooooowly making my way through our local craft store (I just can't rush through the craft store, you know), and I spotted the most adroable 4-packs of cork coasters and it hit me! I can make a mini corkboard, see if anyone uses it and make more if they do! We could each have our own mini corkboard!!!

Oh the joyful thoughts of my kiddos leaving me loving notes on my corkboard! Okay, maybe not exactly, but I can dream can't I? Anyways, the board turned out so very cute and it was really easy to make!

Materials needed:
2 cork coasters
Tacky glue
Ribbon (optional)
Paint or paint pens (optional)

Begin by smearing a thin layer of tacky glue on one side of each coaster. Put the two sides together like a sandwich and press down on them for a good 30 to 45 seconds to get the glue to grip. Wipe any excess glue that squishes out with a damp cloth. Place a book or something else flat and heavy on top while the glue dries.

Allow the board to dry about an hour before decorating. I decorated mine with paint on the front and I glued a ribbon scrap around the edges for a pretty touch. I'm sure you can think of many more ways to decorate these up.

Allow your paint and glue to dry about 6 hours before attaching the magnets of your choice to the back. I used peel and stick business card magnets and trimmed them to fit the back.

Stick your push-pins in and you're all set!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guest Post - How to make a hot plate

Kimahn from Oh!! I like that!! shares a tutorial with us today on how to make your own hot plate. Kimahn's blog is full of pretty useful thing. Be sure to stop by.

So I had this idea to make flat marbles into a hot plate.. But Mark (my beloved) said that he thought someone had already done that! I dared not look!! So to me, this is as original as can be :P

Here we go..


  • A base for your hot plate. I used a rectangular piece of wood. (I would have used a circular shape if I had one.)
  • Paper and Pens. I decided to draw my own designs. You can of course use paper with a pattern on it ready for you to cut.
  • A circle hole punch the size of the flat base of the marbles. Or scissors will do the job.
  • Glue. Use a silicon based glue, as this is great for using on glass.
  • Flat Glass Marble. I used 48. (I also unintentionally ordered clear glass marbles that have an iridescent look to them. This wasn't my plan, but it kind of looks good anyway - so just make sure you get what you want)
1. Prepare the Paper Circles...

If you decide to draw your designs, make sure you make a few extra for mistakes you might make.

I decided to do a Paris love theme.. about a year ago, my husband proposed to me in Paris on the Arch de Triumph.. oh sweet memories!

2. Glue the paper circles to the marbles...

I experimented with a few different ways for the gluing process, and found it was easier to put a dab of glue on the paper and press the marble down on top. This way you can see where the glue is spreading and push the glue where it needs to go.

3. Prepare the Base...

You don't have to paint the base, but I thought a red would compliment the red highlights I made in my images.

Once the paint has dried, simply glue the marbles in place!!




(obviously hadn't put the marbles on yet!)

This was made using small wooden buttons. I actually really like this one! And over time you might get nice brown burn marks on the tops of the buttons for a loving used effect.

So there we have it! Try it yourself. It's a great craft to do with a friend, and one that you will be able to use most days!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Or the Easiest Birthday Cake I've ever Made.

This "recipe" may not quite be made from scratch, but every busy mom needs a few easy cheats once in awhile. And when your son asks for something so incredibly easy for his birthday cake, this busy mom is happy to oblige.

This cake is so easy, and is really quite delicious. If you can find ice cream sandwiches on sale, like we did, it is also pretty economical to make.

You need:
14 ice cream sandwiches
1 large tub of whipped cream
12 crushed Oreos

In a 9x13 pan make a single layer of ice cream cakes to cover the bottom of the pan. I cut one in half to fill the pan.

Spread half the tub of whipped cream on top of the ice cream cakes. Make a second layer of ice cream cakes on top of the whipped cream. Cover with remaining whipped cream, and sprinkle Oreos on top. Put in the freezer to refreeze. To make cutting easier, remove from freezer twenty minutes before serving.

Thanks to Deena for this great idea!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Carnival #125

Our hostess for this week's carnival is It's Frugal Being Green. Lots of delicious recipes this week, a clever craft, and an unusual way to use coffee. You'll have to go check them all out for yourself, but some of my favorites from the carnival include:

Zucchini Strudel
This is a fabulous recipe. Not that I'm biased toward this recipe or anything. *wink*

Plarn Backpack
Another fabulously creative and useful creation from Cindy!

Sour Cherry Ketchup
Sounds interesting and delicious!

Next week the carnival will be right here! Please submit your made from scratch posts via the Blog Carnival form!

Banana Strudel Muffins

I apologize for the delayed post. Hubby had back surgery last week PLUS my two step sons are in town from Indiana so it's been a very busy week! This is a simple and tasty recipe using ingredients you're likely to have on hand. With four boys and a recovering husband in the house, simple and tasty are the keys to my sanity!


Muffin Ingredients

1 1/2 cup Self Rising Flour

3 Mashed Bananas

3/4 cup Granulated Sugar

1 Egg Lightly Beaten

1/3 cup Melted Butter

Strudel Topping Ingredients

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

2 tbs Self Rising Flour

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1 tbs Butter or Margarine


  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin pan with muffin cups or grease with cooking spray.
  2. Sift sugar and flour together.
  3. Mix egg and mashed bananas till all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  4. Fill each muffin cup about half way with batter.
  5. Make Strudel Topping by combining all dry ingredients then cutting in butter till crumbly.
  6. Sprinkle topping generously over muffin batter.
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes till toothpick comes out clean.

Jenn's Tips: To mash banana without the mess, squeeze the banana with the skin on till mushy (peel will start to break away) then, squeeze mushed banana from peel directly into dry ingredients. Modify recipe to make loaves or use a bundt pan (be sure to sprinkle topping in bundt first since it will be inverted when done).


Read Jenn's other recipe and craft ideas at Frugal Front Porch.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sponge Ball Toy

~Heather also blogs at HEATHER LESSITER/It's All for the Best and The Fat Bottomed Girl.~

(Sorry this post is so late! We had to celebrate a special little niece's birthday today! Happy Birthday, Audrey!)

This easy and fun toy is a quick make-it-yourself project. I have to confess that I got the idea straight from the latest issue of Family Fun Magazine, but once you see them, you'll know why we just had to try them out.
The sponge balls are made by cutting standard kitchen sponges (right out of the package and still slightly damp) lengthwise into 5 strips about 1/2inch wide each. Lay 15 of the strips over a piece of string while keeping the strips centered over the string so your ball will be even. Tie the string very tightly and double or triple knot it. Cut the loose ends off of the string and fluff the ball so it is rounded.

Use these balls in place of water balloons by giving each child/team a bucket of water. Think of it, no filling and tying tiny water balloons, no picking up broken balloons for days and they are totally reusable! I can also see these being a great bath or pool toy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When the Jam Doesn't Set

It is full on blackberry season here. We've been picking a lot of mornings. Picking berries is the kids' summer money making project. They pick them to sell to friends and family. By all the scratches on my hands and arms I have to wonder who really is doing most of the picking.

Anyway, I did manage to keep a few quarts of berries for myself already. The first thing I made was jam. We love blackberry jam, and I often use it as gifts too. My first batch of jam of the season, and I couldn't wait to dig in.

I listened as eight lovely half pint lids pinged to let me know they had sealed. I waited until the jam had cooled, picked up a jar, and was greatly disappointed.

It didn't set.

I can't remember the last time I had jam not set. I am not sure what went wrong, but I do know I have a lot of very sweet berries that are way to thin to call jam. What to do?

There is a procedure included in the pectin box for remaking unset jam. It involves dissolving pectin, reboiling the jam, and filling into new jars. What a hassle! I've decided to make do and consider the jars blackberry sauce instead of jam.

We discovered that the blackberry sauce is fabulous over stuffed French toast. Simply make French toast as you normally do. We keep it simple; eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. After you've cooked it take two pieces and spread cream cheese between them. Then top with blackberry sauce. It was so good!

I have other plans for this wonderful sauce. It will make an excellent topping for ice cream, cheesecake, angel food cake, pound cake, pancakes, or any other sweet treat where you would use a fruit sauce or syrup.

I think I just make be happy about my jam not setting.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carnival #124

Rina is our hostess today for edition #124 of the Make it from Scratch carnival. Find it at Gotta Little Space. As always she has given as a fabulous carnival. Some of my favorites this week:

Yes, my garden is still producing A LOT of squash. Yes, I'm still loving it! Yes, I'm still looking for different ways to prepare it!

These look sooooo good!

Haven't had this in so long. I had forgotten about it. Yummy!

Hope you enjoy the carnival this week!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Campfire Delight

We've had several bonfires this summer to entertain the kids and enjoy the peaceful evenings. While roasting marshmallows and making s'mores is a great campfire treat, it doesn't take long to get burned out on them. I came up with this idea in a desperate attempt to fulfill the kid's fascination of cooking in the fire and my need to eat something besides an oversized toasted marshmallow.

Don't have any campfire plans this summer? You can still make these in your oven at home. They take very little time to prepare and are just as tasty as if there were made on the open fire.

Items Needed
aluminum foil or foil cupcake tins
assorted berries (rasberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc)
puffed rice cereal
chocolate chips
grill grate or baking pan (optional)

Here's how to make it!
I use more berries, oats, and rice cereal than chocolate chips and marshmallows to make it slightly healthier. Layer berries, chocolate chips, oats, rice cereal, and marshmallows on top of a piece of foil large enough to wrap into a packet. Carefully place foil packets on a skillet, grill grate, etc and put onto your fire. (The skillet or grill grate isn't necessary but makes it easier to remove from the fire.) Cook for 5 minutes and allow to cool slightly before opening berry packets. Everything should be melted and bubbly good and better for you than those tasty s'mores!

What other campfire treats will you make this summer?

Find other recipe and craft ideas at Frugal Front Porch.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hillbilly Lemonade

~Heather also blogs at HEATHER LESSITER/It's All for the Best and The Fat Bottomed Girl.~

One of the simplest pleasures of summer is a tall glass of cold, sweet lemonade. If you enjoy the taste of homemade lemonade, but don't have the time to make it, here is a great recipe we got in West Virginia last year. I guess it's more of a tip than a recipe, but you can make that call.

Begin by mixing up a gallon of lemonade with powdered lemonade mix. Country Time is what was recommended, but I've made it with the Aldi's brand and with the brand I got at Save A Lot; all of them worked equally well for me.

Next, slice up an orange and add it to the lemonade. I squeeze my orange slices a bit when I add them and I let it marinate overnight. That's it! The result is a more flavorful and tasty lemonade than you'll get from the package with minimal effort.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini

My zucchini plants are fulfilling their stereotypical role, and producing like crazy. I'm not complaining. After a couple of years of almost no harvest, thanks to garden pests, I am saying "Bring it on." The plants seem to be up for the challenge.

Eventually I will freeze some, but for now we are enjoying the fresh veggies in a variety of ways. My favorite way to eat zucchini (or other summer squash) is to slice it in thick strips lengthwise, marinate in Italian dressing and then cook on the grill. Of course, zucchini is also great deep fried. And there is always zucchini bread. This week we tried something new, stuffed zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini

A delicious use for your garden bounty.

See Stuffed Zucchini on Key Ingredient.

It turned out wonderfully! I found the best way to scrape out the zucchini was with a melon baller. Worked like a charm.

If you would happen to have a few zucchini that hide from you until they are enormous, like the one pictured below, the absolute best way to use them is to make Zucchini Strudel. I will be making some very soon.

We will be enjoying the zucchini harvest while we can. Any other suggestions for new ways to fix this prolific vegetable?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Carnival #123

This morning the carnival is at Kitchen Stewardship. There are some truly beautiful things included in this week's carnival. Some of them are edible, and some are not. Be sure to see them all at Kitchen Stewardship, but here are a few of my favorites from this week's carnival.

Just had to included this one for my husband. We raise our own pork, and he really wants to build a smoker to cure our bacon and hams. Here is a recipe for you honey! ;)

Her "secret" ingredient is growing like crazy in my garden. I made something fabulous with them last night. I'll be sharing that recipe here on Thursday, but I could always use more ideas.

I simply adore cheesecake, and the graham cracker crust it is most often served on. Katie offers a an alternative that sounds delicious, and is healthier. I'll be trying this with my next cheesecake.

Enjoy the carnival this week!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pretty, Simple, and Economical

If you're looking for something pretty, simple, and economical to serve to you friends the next time they visit, or to take to the next potluck, the answer may be found in your flower bed. Stuffed daylily flowers are beautiful alternatives to sandwiches.

Almost all parts of daylilies (but not tiger lilies) are edible, but I like the flowers the best for the color and beauty that they add to a dish. They also add a nice crunch and flavor. They can be added to salads or stuffed as shown in this picture.

To Make Stuffed Daylily
Pick as many flowers as you'd like to serve. They are best picked in the morning. If you pick stems, the unopened buds will open if the stem is kept in water. Gently wash the flowers and remove the center parts of the flower. They usually come out easily with a gentle twist and pull.

Make your favorite sandwich salad. Pictured is a very simple salmon and tuna salad. Making your sandwich mix a little on the dry side will help your stuffed flowers to stay looking pretty.

Use a melon baller to scoop your sandwich mix into the center of the flower. Serve or chill covered.

More on eating daylily.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Firsts on the First - Cooking Lobster Tails

Some time back a friend gave us two frozen lobster tails. We love seafood, but rarely indulge in it. We were thrilled to get these lobster tails. I promptly put them in the freezer, and there they sat.

I could offer the excuse that six people and two lobster tails just doesn't add up, but the truth of it is I really didn't know what to do with them. I've boiled whole live lobsters before, but was at a loss for how to prepare these frozen appendages of the lobster. This week I decided to figure it out.

With three children visiting grandparents for the week, I figured it was the perfect time for my husband and I (and our youngest) to indulge in our free crustacean parts. And what to do when your at a loss for how to do something? Well, Google it of course. I found lots of different ideas. Most were very simple.

I already planned to grill some fresh veggies from the garden, so I decided to grill the lobster tails too. First, I thawed them. Then brushed them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then I placed them on a preheated grill at medium heat. Turning occasionally, I let them cook until they were a nice red color, about ten minutes.

They were a tad more chewy than I normally expect from lobster, but from what I had read in the recipes I found, that is normal for frozen lobster. They still tasted wonderful, and were so very easy to make. I'll be watching for sales on lobster tails!

Did you try something new? Share your post with us by clicking on the Mr. Linky image below, or by leaving a link in the comments!

Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!