Muffins, budgets and Tyson

I’ve been busy baking so many cupcakes and muffins. We throw them in the freezer so we can grab and go, which works well for us, since we now drop the kids off at school in the mornings. Breakfast comes really early, since they prefer to eat here instead of at school. I’ve been looking for new things for them to eat, since it’s basically been waffles or cereal, so I stocked up on muffins like banana, apple and pumpkin (it’s almost fall!! Yay!), with some chocolate thrown in for once in a while treats.  They freeze well and I can pull a couple out when they get here in the mornings and they are ready to eat when they get back up.

I’m also going back to work later this month. There is only so much that I can do in one day not working, so I picked up a part time job to stave off the boredom of being home all day. 😉 Plus, it allows us to throw money into savings. We recently started a goal list for the next 5 years. Some of it is little stuff, like a new tv (ours has this bright blue line going down the side of the screen that makes it annoying to watch during some movies) or a new washer and dryer. But, there are goals like save money for a house, or contribute more to the 401K. We broke it down to 6 months, 6-12 months, 1-2 years and 5 year goals. It’s on the fridge so we can see it every day, and work toward the goals for that current time frame.

Next is a new budget. Things sound so great in your head, but writing them out on paper is better, and while we’ve done slightly better, there is still major room to work with. So, I’m on the hunt for a good app to use. We didn’t like mint all that well, so if I can’t find one, I may have to make a spreadsheet to use. 😦

We’ve been doing a freezer clean out the last couple of weeks. We had a family emergency a couple of weeks ago that required travel, so we’ve been scrunching the budget a little. But, the bonus of buying in bulk and on sales is to be able to freezer and pantry shop when needed. Plus, it gets rid of some stuff that may have been there for a while and gives me a chance to meal plan to build our excess back up. We will be keeping more kid friendly meals in there, since we have a slightly picky eater.

Speaking of food and stocking up, there are a few things we will no longer be buying (not that we bought a lot of it to begin with). Those of you who live around the Kansas City area, have probably heard about the Tyson plant that has plans to go in near Tonganoxie, Ks. That’s my hometown, I grew up there, my kids play on the family farm that my sister and mom still live on. My nephews go to school there, and most of my friends have moved back home. It is still my home. This is not something that the majority of people in and around Tongie wants.  Now, Tyson is promising about 1600 jobs and that they are building a state of the art plant. Plant meaning a feed mill, slaughter houses and hatchery. Less than a mile from the brand new elementary and middle schools that were just built, 4 miles from town and about 7 from our farm.

There is a dedicated group of Tonganoxians that have organized to keep everyone up to date and to help fight Tyson in/near our homes. The website has the information that you need to understand why we don’t want this to happen, and there is a facebook page as well. They can say it much more elegantly than I can.

It’s also why we choose not to buy Tyson products in our household. We were already buying local veggies and fruit as much as possible, but now we are doubling our efforts to support our local farmers and buying our meat from them as well (or from a butcher that sells local meats).


Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

I loooove food. Like, seriously, love it. I’m not too picky, either. Alfredo is one of my favorite meals, but I don’t ever keep cream in the house, so this alfredo is made using milk, but I have used half milk, half chicken broth to make it as well. That will make it a little lighter. You can also use white wine, all chicken broth or even starchy pasta water to make the sauce, if you can’t use milk. The real binder is the cheese. And trust me, the more cheese you use, the yummier the sauce is. 😉

The great thing about this sauce, you can use any type of cheese. Or liquids, or noodles! It’s pretty versatile. It doesn’t take long to make, either.

I marinated 3 small chicken breasts in a greek dressing for 2 hours before baking them at 400* for 25-30 minutes, or until done. You could also grill them. Let them sit for about 5 minutes before cutting them into bite size pieces and sit them aside.

When cooking your pasta (I used spaghetti noodles) put your chopped broccoli in with the noodles to cook.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

  • 3 small chicken breasts, marinated and baked at 400* until done, about 25-30 minutes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups of broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups of milk (or broth, or wine)
  • 1/4 c of butter
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti (or fettuccine) noodles

Cook your noodles according to package directions, adding the broccoli to the water when you add the noodles.

Melt butter in large pan. Add flour and seasonings and whisk until there are no lumps and it forms a smooth paste. Slowly add milk while whisking, being careful to get the corners of the pan, as well. Add cheese and whisk until melted and sauce becomes thick.

Drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot. Add chicken and sauce and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Honey Chicken

We love Chinese food, but take out is super expensive and some days, I just don’t feel like going to one of the buffets here in town. I’ve decided to try making it at home to save money and still get my fix.

I’m not a fan of spicy food, I’m usually awake all night doing a dragon impression. I like sweet things, as long as they aren’t too sweet (picky much?) and this hit that “sweet” spot between just enough sugar and a little salty.
We served it with regular white rice but you can serve it with fried rice or even a salad if you’re watching carbs. You can even switch up the veggies in it, I just love broccoli.

It’s easiest to use precooked chicken (I did mine in the crock pot the day before), but you can cook it as you go. Just thaw your chicken, cut into chunks and sauté until done, about 8 minutes.

Honey Chicken Recipe

  • 4 chicken breast precooked and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely cut (I used a tablespoon of jar garlic, I’m in a hurry here)
  • 1- 1/2 cup broccoli pieces
  • 1 large red pepper cubed
  • optional 1/2 cup cashews, unsalted and roasted (gives awesome crunch)


  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  • 1/8 cup olive oil (can use sesame, I didn’t have any)

Mix the sauce ingredients together, adjust to taste. I like mine a little sweeter, but the sauce gets better when it’s cooked.

Heat skillet with oil, add garlic, broccoli,  and red pepper. stir fry 2-3 minutes, then add chicken and optional cashews. Cook another 3 minutes, until veggies are done and chicken is warmed all the way through. Add the sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened up a little and coated the chicken and veggies. Serve warm.


Muffins, 3 ways

I’m not a big breakfast eater. It takes too long to make things for my personal patience level, which is ummm zero. Plus, if I eat too much I feel cruddy and just want to go back to bed. Not a great way to start the day. But, I love muffins, and yogurt. So, I made a bunch of muffins and threw them in the freezer. Now I can just grab one, throw it in the microwave and eat it with my yogurt for breakfast. It gives me enough energy to get my day started and I’m not so full I feel like I want to hibernate.

My banana bread recipe  is great for muffins. I was out of bananas and really wanted some muffins so I experimented. I still had some Banana Jam left over, so I thought why not. I reduced the sugar in the banana bread recipe and added the banana jam. The muffins came out super moist, and so good. They were so successful, I had to make more. 🙂


I also made some peanut butter and jelly muffins. If you like peanut butter, those are for you! The same day I also made Pineapple breeze and a pumpkin muffin. Once again, I just used the banana bread recipe but made some modifications. So in reality I can get 4 different muffins from one recipe!

Muffins for breakfast

Muffins for breakfast

Base recipe

(modified banana bread), notice that there is less sugar in this recipe than in the original! Also,for the banana jam, reduce sugar to 1/4 cup.

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c butter

2 eggs

1/4 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 c flour

1 t vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon (optional)

1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)

Sift together dry ingredients (soda, powder, flour). Blend sugar, eggs and butter together, then add dry ingredients. Add vanilla, wet ingredients and any optional stuff you are going to add. Spoon into muffin tins, bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For Peanut butter and jelly

Wet ingredients: 2 tablespoons of Peanut butter, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of apple butter. Can sub and type of jelly for the apple butter. I added 1/2 cup strawberries in addition to the jelly.

For Banana Jam

wet: 1/3 cup of banana jam. Reduce sugar to 1/4 cup! Can also add rum extract for a banana fosters taste.

For Pineapple Breeze 

Wet: 1 can pineapple, crushed, 1 Tablespoon coconut extract, 1 teaspoon rum extract.

As always, come join us on Facebook! I seem to post more there! 😉

Banana Bread Recipe

I love banana bread. I love bananas, I mean, who doesn’t? This recipe is super moist, and I love that there are small pockets of bananas that are just waiting for you to bite into. The top is slightly crunchy, which is probably my favorite part.

This recipe makes one regular size loaf, but you can make mini ones, or even use it for muffins….mmmm, muffins.

Where did Banana Bread come from?

I always thought banana bread was one of those things that has been around forever. Turns out, I was wrong (Did you read that, Danny? Better bookmark this post.). It was actually a widely circulated recipe only after baking powder and soda were invented around 1843. Banana bread is a quick bread, one that is made without yeast. It gets it’s leavening power from baking powder and soda. Once the recipe was published in Pillsbury in the 1930’s banana bread popularity started to “rise”. There is some controversy over whether the recipe first came about by housewives that, during the great depression, were reluctant to throw out the leftover bananas; or by commercial kitchens to push the use of flour and baking powder.

Which ever it is, and however it got here, I am certainly glad that someone once shared a recipe for this delicious bread!

Banana bread

Banana bread. See the line there? It’s because I couldn’t wait to get a bite, then remembered a photo.

Banana Bread

1 1/2 c sugar

1/2 c butter

2 eggs

1/4 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 c flour

3 very ripe, mashed bananas

1 t vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon (optional)

1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients (soda, powder, flour). Blend sugar, eggs and butter together, then add dry ingredients. Add bananas, vanilla and any optional stuff you are going to add. Stir lightly, then pour into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick (or butter knife) inserted into middle comes out clean.

Enjoy this bread with a nice cup of coffee or hot tea. It’s a favorite around my house and doesn’t stay long!

banana bread slice, with melting butter.

Banana bread slice.

Bean and Cheese Burritos

You know those frozen burritos that you can get in the grocery store? My family loves those. We can eat a full package of them just for lunch. We are big eaters, and really there are 12 in a package. There are 4 of us, sometimes as many as 7 for lunch.

I knew I could make them cheaper, but I hadn’t tried it until now. It’s so easy, and takes about 5 minutes to make one. So for ours, since I made about 30 of them, it took about half an hour. In addition to the bean and cheese, I also made some chicken and rice burritos. They make it great to throw in the freezer and since I wrapped them individually, you can grab one to warm up just for you. 🙂

Bean and Cheese Burritos

2 cans of refried beans (we used to cheap cans from the dollar store)

1-2 cups of shredded mexican cheese

1 cup of salsa

2-3 packages of 10″ (or large) tortillas (the amount depends on how tight you wrap them)

Bean and Cheese Burrito ingredients

Bean and Cheese Burrito ingredients

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Warm in the microwave about 1 minute until the cheese is melted. Give it one last stir to make sure everything is mixed up.

Bean and Cheese Mixture

Bean and Cheese Mixture

Bean and cheese burritos

Everyone in the pool!


Down the center of a tortilla, spread a 1/4 cup of mixture, leaving room around the edges of the tortilla.  You can add more cheese and/or salsa to taste.

Wrap tortilla by folding the short ends in first. Fold the closest end of the tortilla over the middle and drag it back toward you (not lifting it off the tortilla) until it is tucked firmly against the filling. Roll the tortilla.

When you are done rolling all tortillas, wrap them individually in saran wrap.

Bean and Cheese Burrito in saran wrap

Bean and Cheese Burrito in saran wrap

Place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer to freeze. Place them in large freezer bags, writing the name and date of the tortilla on the outside.

To warm them up, unwrap and place on a plate. Put frozen burrito in the microwave for 1 minute bursts, until warmed through.

I always place them seam up, so in case the filling starts coming out, it doesn’t get stuck to the plate.

However, My favorite way to fix these is to fry them in a little bit of oil…This is a “get in my mouth!” moment. So good.

I think I need to go eat a burrito.

Hawaiian Rolls Recipe

I love homemade bread. I love it’s texture, it’s smell, everything about it. It doesn’t matter what kind of bread…my mouth waters every time I think of it. I don’t use bread machines, I would rather touch it, weave my magic into it as I make it (I do mix in a kitchen aid mixer, however I knead by hand) and knead it out. I honestly don’t think there is any better bread than the one you make for your family.

Hawaiian rolls are kind of like bread and sweets all rolled into one. They usually have pineapple in them. These don’t, but you won’t even miss it. They aren’t super sweet, but there’s just a touch of sugar in them.   They are fast, super easy and totally delicious! I’m planning on making them to freeze (since I just cleaned the freezer out and it’s a little bare now), but I’m going to have to make a bunch! The first batch I made, it came out to 24 rolls and there wasn’t any left. I don’t think they even had time to cool down!


I got the recipe from a Facebook group I’m in. You should head over there and join. I love looking through all the recipes and figuring out which ones to try. And the people are fantastically friendly. Like super so. I wish they were all my friends in the real world. 😉

Hawaiian Rolls by Robin Jarvi Crouse

2 cups warm water

1 1/2 Tbsp yeast

3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c oil

6 c flour (Robin calls for bread flour, But I used regular and they turned out great)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour water and sugar into bowl of mixer (or large bowl), stir until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast and allow to sit 5 minutes or until yeast has proofed. Mix in salt and oil. Add flour a little at a time. Grease a large bowl and place dough inside. Let rise until doubled, mine took about an hour. Punch down dough and twist off prices to make rolls. You can measure them out to about 2 oz or just eyeball it to about golf ball size. Place in greased pans or on a cookie sheet. Let rise again.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Robin was so nice, and I’m very appreciative that she posted her recipe in our group and allowed me to write up this post. These have definitely become a thing in our house and I won’t use another recipe for rolls again. Why mess with a great thing?!

Try them, check out and join the Facebook page. Then you can tell Robin how much you love them!


Zucchini Bread Muffins

Today, I get the pleasure of watching my great niece…only a month old, so it’s rough going as I remember how to do this baby stuff. How do they lay, when do they eat, holy crap, how do you get her to stop crying?!

Actually, she’s a very good baby. Right now, she’s sound asleep with a pacifier as I finally get to the post I was going to write 3 days ago.

We had quite a few zucchini left over and we normally freeze it for later, but I wanted something sweet.

So I grated it in the blender and then put it in the fridge for later. We have a recipe for zucchini bread, but we couldn’t find it, so I went online and found this recipe.

Honestly, I didn’t change much, except using pumpkin pie spice instead of nutmeg and adding raisins. And in the mini loaf I had, I added chocolate chips.

Zucchini Bread Muffins

3 cups of flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp salt

2 cups zucchini grated (I threw it in the blender)

1 3/4 c sugar

1 cup butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

2 small boxes of raisins (I used what we give the kids for snacks), 1/4 cup chocolate chips, 1 tsp orange zest, all optional.

Preheat oven to 325. Grease your pans. The original recipe says 2 8×4″ pans. I used a muffin pan (12 count), a mini bread pan and an 8×4″ bread pan.

In one large bowl, I mixed the eggs, the sugar, the melted butter and the vanilla. Then I mixed all the dry ingredients in another medium sized bowl. Add the dry to the wet, stir just until moistened. Add in raisins, chocolate chips, etc. Pour into pans and bake. For the bread pans, I baked for 1 hour. The muffins baked for 30 minutes. Check with a clean knife or tooth pick stuck in the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

I set out the large bread loaf to eat and froze the rest. I just wrapped them in the saran wrap and then into freezer bags. Be sure to label and date.




Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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chocolate chip bar

Chocolate chip cookie bars


chocolate chip dough

chocolate chip cookie bar dough

I’m a sweet tooth person…as in I have a giant one! 🙂 I was messing around in the kitchen yesterday cooking while it was kind of cool. Dee had wanted some brownies for about 2 weeks and I didn’t, so I compromised on these. We both like chocolate chip cookies so I made her cake type dessert.

These chocolate chip bars are built like a cake, soft in the middle and slightly crunchy on the edges (I seem to have a thing for crunchy edges). They aren’t really sweet like cookies are, but I love these and they were a hit with everyone else, too.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 1/4 c flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t salt

1 c softened butter

3/4 c sugar

3/4 c packed brown sugar

1 t vanilla

2 eggs

12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ cake pan, or spray with non stick spray.

Combine flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, both sugars and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture and mix together. Stir in chips.

Spread into pan, making sure to get the corners covered. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Home Made Pasta Sauce

I love vegetables, that’s why this is my favorite time of year, I get to plant all my favorites and eat them as soon as I can. It’s also why I love farmer’s markets.

I also love pasta and by extension, pasta sauce. My sister and I don’t really agree on the sauce, though. She likes one brand and I like the other. So, I decided to make my own, no sense in buying two different brands.

We went to the City Market in Kansas City last weekend, making it a girl’s morning out. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid. I love that place, so much stuff in one spot!

I bought a bunch of peppers and tomatoes and other veggies and then shoved them in the fridge until I figured out that I was going to make this from them.

I rarely use recipes when I cook. I usually just throw crap together that sounds good and see how it turns out. That’s pretty much what happened here. I know what usually goes in pasta sauce, so that’s what I did. Mom has a Ninja cutter thing…a blender I guess. I used that to chop all the veggies up.

This made 3 pints of sauce. I water bathed it for 15 minutes. Even my mom thinks it tastes good, and that is a bonus. 🙂

Pasta Sauce

3 stalks of celery

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 medium onion

1 or 2 carrots

1 medium zucchini

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 cans of tomato sauce

Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Dice all the vegetables. Mine were a little juicy, so I had to drain the juice as well. Sautee all veggies in a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat.


Chopped Veggies

When vegetables are soft, add in tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer sauce for 45 minutes stirring often. Add all seasonings to taste. I don’t like a sweet sauce, so I only added a tablespoon of sugar.


Pasta Sauce

You can use immediately, or can this sauce.


Canned homemade pasta sauce