July 31, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 31- Heirloom Vegetable Sandwich

This sandwich is packed with fresh vegetables from the garden. I love mixing different varieties of the tomatoes up, it brings a new taste each time. Use what you have on hand, I plant many varieties for different reasons, canning, sauces. Then there's the ones for sandwiches, big juicy ones. This sandwich has Big Rainbow and Brandy wine tomatoes in there, full of flavors.

Ciabatta bread 
2 different tomatoes, heriloom varieties offer many colors each with different tastes,  Use what's on hand though!
1 handful of baby spinach leaves
one small zucchini sliced lengthwise and grilled/sauteed in butter
Parsley Aïoli * below
Slice of fresh mozzarella cheese *warmed*

Directions- Saute your zucchini a few minutes on each side till tender. Take slice of cheese and place it on the hot grill for only a few second then take off, you just want it warmed, not melted. Cut your bread and spread Parsley Aïoli on it evenly.  Arrange spinach, then layer cheese, and vegetables. Slice in half and enjoy!

One recipe for Parsley Aïoli

1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 cup mayo (fat free)
Pepper to taste

Take all the ingredients and put them in a food processor. Process until it's blended well. I don't have a processor so I chop everything then add it to the other ingredients to stir and mix. Keep refrigerated and make sure you use it up in a few days.

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July 30, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 30- Corn Stuffed Tomatoes

There's many ways to stuff peppers and tomatoes, or even squash. This recipe uses possible my favorite way to eat corn, which is made with tomatoes pepper sand some lime juice to kick it up with flavor. Add that to a juicy tomato and bake it, you've got a perfect summer side dish to enjoy with dinner.

6-8 Tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup red bell peppers
2 cups corn
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon minced garlic
*a few teaspoons of lime juice to your liking is optional. I add about 2 and love the taste!

 Take your tomatoes and cut off top. Scoop out center and cut it up into chunks. In a medium skillet heat up the butter. Add onions and peppers and cook till tender. Add in your corn, vinegar, your diced tomatoes, and seasoning. Mix well and heat through. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, if they fall over simply use foil to stand them up. Spoon in the corn mixture and back at 350F for about 10 minutes.

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July 29, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 29- Zucchini Enchilada

What an easy way to use up zucchini from the garden! I really liked this, you can pack it full of vegetables and never go wrong!


12 tortillas
2 cups of shredded zucchini and squash
1 cup of mixed bell peppers finely chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon basil
2 pints diced tomatoes (separated)
Cheddar Cheese
your choice of toppings, diced zucchini, onions, tomatoes,

 Mix one pint of diced tomatoes with the zucchini, peppers, garlic and seasoning. Set aside. Take a few spoonfuls of diced tomatoes and juice and spread in bottom of a baking dish. Start laying down the tortillas and fill each up with the mixture. Roll up and face seam side down. You can pour the remaining diced tomatoes over top and sprinkle with a handful of cheese. Cover and bake in a 350F oven, for about 30 minutes. Zucchini should be nice and tender. Top with your choice of extra toppings!


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July 28, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 28- Green Tomato Salsa

Here's a new twist to salsa, using all green ingredients! I used my heirloom variety of green tomatoes which were nice and ripe and sweet. Loved this so much!

8 green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 jalapeño, large, seeded and finely chopped
6 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pepper to taste

Directions, Chop everything up and mix together in a large bowl. Transfer to containers to seal and chill before usage. Use within 7 days!
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July 27, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 27- Sweet Salsa

This salsa came out sweet to me, possibly because my hot peppers just weren't up to par, who knows. This is for canning, in a hot water bath if you don't know how to do that check out my canning section here.

14lbs tomatoes (you need to core them, blanch and chop them up)
5 cups yellow onion
10 peppers, red and green work best for this, chopped
4-5 jalapenos chopped
1 cup distilled white vinegar
4 garlic gloves minced
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
10 tablespoons instant clear jel
3 cups water

Combine all ingredients up to the chili powder into a large pan on the stove and heat. Bring it to a soft boil and stir for about 35-45 minutes. In a bowl stir together water and clear jel till smooth. Stir this into the salsa mixture and heat for about 10 minutes. Time to can!

PROCESS both pint and half pint jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
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July 26, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 26- Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I love making Zucchini bread, it's a great way to use up any zucchini in the garden real quickly. This is a great twist our family favorite bread!


3 eggs beaten
1 cup oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

In a large bowl mix the eggs together, then add oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well. Add grated zucchini and stir in carefully. In a medium bowl put your dry ingredients together and then add them to your wet mix. Fold and mix together until everything is stirred together. Grease up two load pans and divide batter evenly. Bake at 350F for about 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
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July 25, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 25- Collard Green Stuffed Beef

I came up with this recipe using the collars from the garden and freshly made sour dough bread. Pretty basic stuffing recipe and you can use it with any sort of meat you have on hand or simply have it on the side. It tasted wonderful!

1 bunch or about 15 medium sized collard green leaves, stem taken off. 
1 onion chopped
2-3 sour dough rolls (think small sub sandwich rolls) cubed
salt and pepper to taste
8-10 thinly sliced  Round Steaks


Cut up your collard greens , and add to a hot pan with just a little water to cover all the greens. Bring to fast boil and cook for about 10 minutes or until leaves are wilted. Drain and add in the sour dough bread cubes. Mix with hands . It should be a little moist but if it's not you can add some broth, beef and chickn is great. I used thin slices. Take a good heaping spoonful of the stuffing mixture and set it in the center of the steaks. roll up and place in pan seam side down. Repeat with remaining steaks and drizzle with a little olive oil before sprinkling some pepper over. Cook in oven for about 30 minutes or less at 350F until steak is cooked. They wont' take long at all. 
My kids loved these! 


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July 24, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 24- Mushroom Wine Gravy

I'm a gravy gal! Love, gravy on nearly everything, so this was a recipe I enjoyed down to the last drop. 

1 package or about 10 baby portobello mushrooms sliced8 ounces sliced mushrooms,
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Using a iron cast skillet heat and melt the butter. Make sure pan is nice and hot before you add in the mushrooms. Brown quickly on each side before pouring in your beef broth. Heat and add in red wine. Heat again till mixture reduces a little than slowly bring to a boil. You'll want to add in the flour and make the gracy to the thickness your after. Stir flour in and cook on medium heat till it's done to your liking. Salt and pepper to taste! Enjoy!
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July 23, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 23- Farmers Eggs

This is so easy and fun. My kids enjoy their choice of different peppers to "color" their breakfast with.

Easy as well cooking an eggs. Wash and cut your peppers. Slice into rings and prepare your skillet. Place peppers down and crack an egg within each pepper ring. Cook to your linking!  This is our new favorite way to eat eggs!
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July 22, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 22- Grilled Vegetable Side Dish

 There's nothing better than being able to throw a bunch of ingredients together and just throw it on some heat to let coo. No worry no fuss, and it comes out great! This is a perfect dish for summer, I use fresh vegetables from the garden and change the seasoning all the time.

Yours choice of summer vegetables, zucchini squash, onions, peppers, carrots and potatoes is a good mix.
Your choice of seasoning- This can be anything from your salad dressing mix packets, or Parmesan cheese (grated) Fresh herbs work great
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Olive oil

Wash and clean all your vegetables. If using potatoes cut them up to smaller portions so they cook faster. Chop and slice everything else then toss together in a bowl with a bit of oil olive drizzled over so everything is coated. Season and toss again. Dump picture into a baking dish lined with foil or make foil packets to set on grill. Cover and bake in oven at 350F for about 30 minutes or until everything is tender. Cook on the grill for anywhere 25-35 minutes or until heated and tender. You can also place the vegetables on teh grill for a quick cook, it always comes out great!

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July 21, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 21- Slow cooker Tomato Chicken

For this recipe I used the tomato soup mixture I made earlier this week and poured it over chicken in the slow cooker. That was it! Besides added cheese anyways, the kids ate it up and I had no leftovers, it was so good!
The soup became really nice and creamy thick and the chicken soaked that all up. Amazingly easy. If you don't make your own soup, use the canned, seriously, just add a little cream to it as well as fresh herbs then pour it over the chicken to cook. Bam, dinner is done creamy tomato chicken!

1 can (I think they are 50oz?) It's the big can, sorry I don't know the measurement, but I used about three cups of homemade soup,
if using canned soup you will need-
- one medium onion diced up
1 garlic glove minced
about two teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup of cream (or more if you like more)
one tablepoon butter
Chicken, I used 2lbs of chicken breasts and thighs

Directions if using canned soup. Mix soup into slow cooker. Add all other ingredients up to the chicken. Mix together and then place chicken into your soup. Cover and cook on med for 4-5 hours or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. If using homemade soup place chicken in slow cooker with a tablespoon of butter. pour soup over top and cover, cook the same.

My kids really loved it, topped of with cheese it was the easiest dinner night this week!

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July 20, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 20- Tomato Soup

There's so many tomato soup recipes I decided to just go for one myself. Though it doesn't seem like the weather to eat warm tomato soup I wanted to be able to can it so the soup had to be started anyhow! This is simple, basic ingredients, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cream and that's it. Basic as it comes as well as perfectly fresh!

Tomatoes (always pick ripe and ones without blemishes or marks/bruises)
Italian seasoning (or use all fresh herbs, basil thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano)
optional additions, chives, shallots (chipped finely)

 Take your tomatoes and core them. set them in a large pot and heat with just about a tablespoon of oil. Heat all the tomatoes and start crushing them. Once they are all heated and soft, give them another good crushing a potatoes masher works great for this. Next you'll want to run your tomatoes through a sieve. 
Toss the skin and seeds aside, take your tomato mix and bring it back to the pot, heat on low. Season with your choice of herbs along with your garlic. Heat mixing through and slowly add the cream, only a little at a time. you want your mixture to heat and thicken, if you add to much cream it'll be cream with tomato, instead of cream "of" tomato soup. 

I don't have any measurements for this, as you use the amount of tomatoes on hand and season completely by taste. I used almost 6 cups tomatoes and only about half a cup of cream. It gave me around 4 cups of soup. It was great! I loved it, really great with homemade bread. 


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July 19, 2012

Back To School With Sidekix! - Review/Giveaway

My kids were able to jump in on this review for a cool new small plush toy from Sidekix that follow the kids around everywhere! My son picked out the dragon, which is just too cute and cool all at once.  

The Sidekix can be folded up into each other easily and you can clip them on a bag or back back even hang them from your bike! Whatever the kids decide they can bring their Sidekix along with them. Perfect for the upcoming school year they can rock out their choice of safari, barnyard, mythical, and endangered Sidekix Toys.

They can be easily washed, which is a great thing as the dragon took a tumble and fall into some mud already. Dragons you know, they get around! 
You can check out the line of Sidekix toys on their website. They are all adorable, and I'll be getting one for each of the kids when school starts. 

Want to win one yourself? Here's how you can do it!
After entering the Rafflecopter above, head over to each of the other blogs listed for this Back to School Sidekix Event . Follow the rules for each blog ! The more giveaways you enter, the better chances you have of winning a Sidekix! Good luck to you all and thank you so much for following this event!

**Disclosure- I received the products mentioned above , in order to write an honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write a positive review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.* 

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Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 19- Scalloped Corn

I'm be perfectly honest, this is one dish that no matter how many times I make it, it's just not something I care for. The kids think it's corn soup, and most the time it look like it. I like the cream though, just not with the corn, yes that's weird, but then what else is new?  On to the simple recipe!

Kinda looks like soup to me , maybe it should be corn soup!


1 quart corn, fresh is best! 
1 cup bread crumbs (seasoned or non is fine)
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk (or cream)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter


Place corn and bread crumbs into a buttered dish leaving 1/4 cup bread crumbs for layering on top. Mix milk, salt and pepper along with eggs together in a bowl and mix. Pour over corn, sprinkling with the remaining crumbs. Bake for about 350F until bubbly which should be about 15-20 minutes. 

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July 18, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 18- Fried Cucumbers

When in doubt, fry it!
Or so I hear. I'm not one for frying things but had to try this out. The simple object of rolling cucumbers into flour and then frying it made a interesting afternoon snack for the kids. They enjoyed it, I on the other hand wonder of a dip to enjoy these with :) I'm thinking onion or spicy pepper.

Cucumbers peeled and sliced
Sal and pepper to taste
shortening for frying


Roll cucumbers into flour until covered in the mean time melt the shortening in a pan on high heat then fry your slices for a couple minutes on each side. Takes about three minutes on each side before they are golden brown.

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Beyond Sugar Shock - Review

Connie Bennett has written Beyond Sugar Shock, the 6 Week Plan to Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction and Get Slimmer, Sexier, and Sweeter in an attempt to help people create a healthier way of living.

I really looked forward to reading this book, as you know my husband is diabetic so any book with information on how to help curb or leap over those addicting sugar habits is welcome in our house. I help as much as I can with my husbands meals, but he himself finds it difficult to stop those cravings. This book was very informative and gave us extra tips that have helped out!

 Bennett takes a straight forward approach to talking about a subject most want to avoid. There's a quick quiz you can take to see if your "hooked" on sugar or not. Like any basic quiz, it just gives you an idea of where you may stand in your sugar cravings.

Throughout the book there's tips, guidelines, ideas, preventive measures that you can use to curb that addiction. Entertaining and a real eye opening for some. Bennett includes some helpful recipes to form a meal plan that can help any sugar crazed addict into a  healthier eating style.

If you think it's too hard to curb that sweet tooth I encourage you to pick up Beyond Sugar Shock, it's easier than you think to cut out added sugars and switch your eating habits before it's too late

You can pick up a copy from Amazon.com right here . Connie Bennett also wrote, Sugar Shock!: How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life-- and How YouCan Get Back on Track. I downloaded that on my ipod and it's also a great read, both very good books to have in your library!

**Disclosure- I received the products mentioned above , in order to write an honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write a positive review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.* 
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July 17, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 17- Salsa Beans

This recipe came together by pure panic, no time and sheer luck. It's been rather busy here, well honestly when is it not busy? More than normal though I didn't have time to cook what I wanted the other day with my beans.
I had soaked the beans over night and set them aside to get them cooking only to forget! About mid day I happened to remember and didn't have the time to flip through any books so they were tossed  into the slow cooker with a pint of homemade Salsa.
Easiest side dish ever, and I had no left overs either. Depending on the spice of the salsa you pick to use you control the taste of it. I love when a dish is tossed together and it comes out to be a winner!

4 cups white beans, that have been soaked overnight and rinsed
1 pint jar of salsa (you can use store bought)
Half a cup of broth any kind will do

Place rinsed beans in slow cooker, pour broth in and empty salsa in. mix. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 4 hours. Test to see if beans are tender, add pepper to taste and stir covering to cook another half hour to hour depending on if beans are cooked.
 I used a hot salsa which was made a couple weeks back, so pick your salsa carefully. My kids called this "Party Beans" and I have to agree, they were pretty awesome for something so simple!
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July 16, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 16- Broccoli Salad

I keep trying this, and it just doesn't hit the spot with me! I told you all I would post whether it was a recipe liked or not. The kids eat this, they call it "dipped broccoli" As in, they think I just dropped a bunch of dip all over it and served it up. Hey, whatever floats their boat right? They ate it, I'm happy!


1/4 cup mayo
7 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

4 cups broccoli 
1/3 cups walnuts or almonds
1/3 cup raisins 
* optional diced onions

Mix the mayo, yogurt, vinegar and sugar together in a bowl. Drop chopped broccoli in along with almonds raisins and onions if using. Mix. Chill for about 3 hours. 
 I added carrots into mine thinking it needed more of something. Left out the onions as my kids wouldn't go for it, but all together it was a quick, fresh and a healthy salad to add to the table! Enjoy
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Disney Junior's Launch


DIRECTV and Disney have reached a new agreement to add Disney Junior, a 24- hour channel expressly for kids age 2-7 and their parents/caregivers, to DIRECTV’s programming lineup beginning tomorrow on channel 289. Disney Junior launched in 2011 as a daytime programming block on Disney Channel and expanded to a 24/7 channel in 2012. It is one of the most sought-after channels by DIRECTV customers and will be permanently added to their programming options as a basic channel.

Disney Junior's animated and live action programming blends Disney's unparalleled storytelling and beloved characters with learning components, including early math and language skills, as well as healthy eating and lifestyles, with an emphasis on social and emotional development. The original series include “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” "Doc McStuffins," “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” "A Poem Is…," "Handy Manny," “Little Einsteins” and “Special Agent Oso.” Disney Junior also airs Walt Disney Studios’ and Pixar’s classic and contemporary animated films, as well as Disney’s many non-theatrical sequels so popular with children and parents.

“When it comes to children and families, nobody has the tremendous programming to compare with Disney,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content Strategy and Development for DIRECTV. “Our customers have been clamoring for us to add Disney Junior since they first heard about the concept, and DIRECTV is happy to place our trust in Disney as a partner in building this exciting new family service.”

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with DIRECTV to provide Disney Junior’s high quality, valuable and family-friendly programming to their customers,” said David Preschlack, executive vice president, Disney & ESPN Affiliate Sales and Marketing. “We know parents are passionate about having top quality television options for their families, and now millions will be able to watch outstanding preschool programming on a 24/7 channel unlike any other on television.”

With the addition of DIRECTV, the 24 hour Disney Junior channel has distribution agreements that cover approximately 55 million US households.
Disney Media Networks’ flagship Disney Channel is fast becoming the most popular programming service among DIRECTV homes. The number of children viewers aged 2 through 11 has surged more than 19 percent in the past year alone, and total viewership has increased 15 percent during those same 12 months. Disney Junior will now take a place in the DIRECTV channel guide directly adjacent to Disney Channel at channel #289.
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July 15, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 15-Pickles

There are a lot of steps for this pickle and it's worth the process you just need to follow the directions. Don't give up or be intimidated! Pickles are worth it in every way. I've only been canning a few years but it's worth the time researching and putting into each jar of food. As long as you follow directions and take it one step at a time, you will be on the right track!

There are air bubbles in there which will be adjusted before it is processed. Important step, don't forget it! 

4 pounds Pickling cucumbers
1 cup pickling or canning salt
8 cups water
4 1/2 tsp pickling spice
5 cups sugar
5 cups white vinegar

- After you clean the cucumbers cut them lengthwise into quarters. Set them aside in a large container, or steel pan. Bring the pickling salt and water to a boil over medium heat until the salt dissolved. Ladle this mixture over the cucumbers making sure they are all submerged. Just make sure your pan is big enough to hold all he cucumbers.
-You need to weight the cucumbers down so I normally fill a large bowl up with water and place this on top. -Let is stand for a week this way. Every day remove any scum that has formed.
-Drain the cucumbers after a week and discard brine. Rinse cucumbers in cold water. Return to your containers. Cover with boiling water and let it stand for a full 24 hours.
 Still with me? Let's keep going!
- Drain cucumbers again and drain all liquid. Rinse the container and place cucumbers back into it. Make a spice bag out of your pickling spices. In a large stainless steel saucepan combine sugar vinegar and spice bag/ Bring to boil and stir till sugar is dissolved. Ladle this over he cucumbers. Cover and let stand for 24hours.
-Drain once again but reserve the liquid and spice bag. Rinse container out again, return cucumbers. In another sauce pan bring liquid and spice bag to boil , once again ladling over cucumbers.

Repeat this the next 3 days.
  I did warn you about the steps. Didn't believe me did you? Let's move on!

We are to the canning stage! Prepare your jars. Remove spice bag and discard. Drain your cucumbers and reserve the liquid again. Bring it to a boil . Pack cucumbers into jars and fill with liquid. Leave a 1/2 inch head space. Remove any air bubbles, adjust for head space if needed before placing lid and screw band on. This is a water bath method in which you will boil (process) the jars.
Place jars in a canner making sure they are covered with liquid. You will process for 10 minutes. Remove and repeat with remaining jars until finished. Set aside and do not touch for a full 24hrs. Halfway through this though check to make sure the tops are sealed. if they are not probably sealed you must eat them.
 Eat them fast!
Just joking, just repeat the boiling process after you've changed lids. Or you may set them in teh fridge and eat them. :) This was giving to me by a friend but the recipe was from her Ball Canning book, not sure which Volume.

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July 14, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 14-Stuffed Zucchini

Love, love love how easy this is. Easy side, super snack, I'll even eat it for breakfast! You can mix and match up your stuffing. I used all vegetables for this but you may use sausage, beef, turkey, rice, breadcrumbs. It's entirely up to you.

2 zucchinis cut length wise
1 yellow squash chopped into cubes
1 medium chopped tomato
1 medium sized bell pepper chopped
1 medium onion
a clove of garlic minced
fresh basil
 mozzarella cheese
pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350F
Carefully scope out center of each side of zucchinis so you make a boat. Chop up the pulp you have. Mix with yellow squash, tomatoes, pepper and onion as well as garlic. Pepper to taste. by spoonfuls add back into the skin of zucchini boats evenly. Place on oven safe pan and heat for about 10 minutes. Take out and set aside. Set oven to broil .
In a bowl mix two handfuls of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Top off zucchini boats and place on broil safe pan/iron skillet. Broil for about 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serve as a side dish, afternoon snack or pretty much whenever you please :)
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July 13, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 13-Crushed Tomatoes

More canning happening here! Once you get the process down and know what your doing canning is super easy, as well as fun.
 There's many things you can do with tomatoes, and they aren't as difficult to can as you may think. This recipe is for Crushed Tomatoes, in which all you really need to make sure you do is ad the correct amount of  citric acid into each jar. I added onions and peppers, but you can strictly use tomatoes.


Bottled lemon juice or citric acid

  *Please note this is using a pressure canner. You cannot use the boiling water method for this recipe. You must have a weighted gauge pressure canner. *

Prepare pressure canner, your jars and lids. Core your tomatoes. Do not use any that are discolored (bruised) or damaged. Working in small batches to skin the tomatoes drop each tomato into boil water until the skin loosens and cracks. Remove to cold water and continued with other tomatoes. Peel skins off and discard the skins.
Place all the tomatoes into a  large stainless steel pan and bring to a boil. Mash the tomatoes using a potato masher. Keep on a gentle boil and keep string, you don't want to burn the batch. Add all the other tomatoes and continue to mash and gently boil for about 5-10 minutes.

 Using prepared hot jars, add the right amount of citric/lemon juice.
Pint Jars using Lemon Juice- 1 tbsp,  Quart sized jars using Lemon Juice-  2 tbsp
Pint Jars using Critic acid- 1/4 tsp ,  Quart sized jars using Critic acid  1/2 tsp

Pack tomatoes into the jars leaving 1 inch head space. Remove all air bubbles adjust for head space either adding or removing more tomatoes/juice. Wipe the rim, place the top and screw band down until resistance is met. Place jars into your pressure canner and locking in the top you want to achieve lbs of pressure - Pint sized jars and quarts will be 15 minutes - * remember you must keep the 10lbs of pressure for a full 15 minutes. It will take up to 10-15 for this pressure to build up. The total time can be anywhere from 30-45 minutes of total time for one prepared batch.
Do NOT open, touch, or remove lid until all steam is let out of pressure canner. You may cause serious burns, injury if you do not wait for the canner to cool down. It must reach a pressure of "0" before you open it. I suggest simply walking away from it and leaving it alone. Mine takes anywhere from 2 hours to 6 hours to cool down considering how high the pressure was. Read your Pressure canner manual carefully!! 

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July 12, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 12- Summer Squash Casserole

This makes a great side dish, but I enjoy it so much for a afternoon snack. I add so many vegetables to dishes just like , it's a great way to use up a very small amount you may have laying around. Also makes a great dish to take to a dinner party for the host. It would be really colorful if you added some chopped bell peppers!

 1 1/2 lbs cubed squash, yellow summer squash and zucchini are perfect for this dish but you can use one or another if you only have on on hand
1 onion finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste (half a teaspoon each is all that's needed)
3 eggs beaten
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and or crushed crackers

Beat eggs and season with pepper and salt, stir in cheese. Set aside. Heat oven to 350F . Spray a baking pan and set aside
Wash and cut your squash. Heat butter in a skillet and added chopped onion. Cook until just starting to golden, do not brown. Add in your squash and saute about five minutes. Removed from heat. Pour vegetable mixture into prepare pan and spread if needed. Pour egg mixture over squash. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and or crackers over top. Cook for about 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

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July 11, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 11- Cabbage & Apples

Not a recipe that came out the way I thought it would. Think it would taste better in the slow cooker, done longer and possibly with some extra flavors. I'm sharing though as it's a recipe a friend gave me, and if I come up with some new flavor I'll update. It's a good side though, and my kids added mustard to it. Apples and mustard, don't ask how they come up with that, but they ate it  so that's all that matters! I think it needs some sweetness in there, sweeter apple, maybe cider vinegar.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound cabbage
1 medium or 2 small apples, I used Gala. Core the apples and chop up to cubes
1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Thinly slice cabbage, of course do not chop up the core, discard that.
 Heat oil in a large skill. Add in onions and seeds to cook on medium high heat. Heat till the onion is softened but do not brown. Drop in cabbage and stir. Cover to cook until cabbage wilts. Add in your apples and stir frequently. You want to cook it until the liquid mostly is gone, this took about 15 minutes. By then my apples were soft.

I need to do this again, play with flavors! Any one else do a dish similar to this? I'd love to hear some idea or other versions!

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July 10, 2012

Gentle Naturals Baby Therapeutics- Review

As a parent I can tell you it's not always easy to find products that are natural, effective and affordable as well as available in stores when you need them. With four kids I've seen my battles and have tried many products that have or have not work  over the years. I have stuck with the most natural ingredients as well as most parent approved products when it comes to fighting some issues. One being my youngest and her skin issues. When I was selected to try out Gentle Naturals Baby Therapeutics I was more than ready to put them to the test.
While my youngest is three years old and no she may not have cradle cap, the treatment is still used  to help keep her scalp moisturizer. Her skin is easily irritated and I am very selective of what to use with her. The Cradle cap treatment was soothing and didn't grease up her thick hair. On a baby this would work wonders, so check it out if your in need. It lasts long without any overpowering smell and soothes as well as protects. 

Both the Eczema Relief cream and wash have worked wonders for baby girl as well. Her skin easily dries out and gets itchy which makes her very upset. I'm loving how easily the wash rinses off, I've tried others even made my own soaps to use on her and it just isn't the same. It's formulated with natural ingredients which is by far the most important. The Cream itself is not greasy either, I can apply it on hot days and she won't be complaining. It seems to last a long time and in the short amount of time using it with her there's been less complaints . 
Baby Therapeutics brand is now well trusted in this house, they hold a long line of other natural products to help sooth your babies needs. Check out your local stores for the items and see the difference yourself, I know my baby girl is happier with less skin irritations! 

You can also find Gentle Naturals Baby Therapeutics coupons here 

**Disclosure- I received the products mentioned above , in order to write an honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write a positive review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.*

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Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 10- Fresh Tomato Sauce

Growing tomatoes for canning and cooking purposes starts at selection. I plan very carefully for the garden , each year I have certain tomatoes grown for one reason or another. Taste, slicing, fresh salads which tend to be the cherry or grape tomatoes that have high yields and can be picked daily .
I find that I get easy salsa from firm tomatoes, mostly Roma or Early girl,while the big juicy tomatoes like brandy wine or beefsteak varieties even Cherokee purple and Amish paste give me the best sauce. Each tomato has a different flavor so a great way to select what you want to grow is heading to the farmers market and selecting at least one of each kind. Taste them, and get to know which is best for different cooking purposes. The tomatoes I used for this sauce were early varieties, very sweet, so I didn't put much else into the sauce.

3-4lbs tomatoes, any variety you have on hand, skinned and cored
2 small onions chopped and minced
Five garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons fresh basil
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Extra virgin olive oil
* Dry Red Wine  flavor, this is optional

To skin tomatoes, set up a pot with boil water while you are coring the tomatoes. Place carefully int the water and wait till the skin started to peal. Using a ladle take out tomatoes one by one and place in ice cold water till cool enough to handle. Simply peel skin off and chop. Set aside. Discard the water you used and rinse the pot.
 Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into pot, just barely enough to coat the bottom, we're not drying anything here you just want the flavor. Add onions and garlic. Heat through but do not brown. Add in your tomatoes and seasonings. Heat through stirring for a couple minutes. Add in half a cup of wine if using and cook till mixture has thickened. About 10-15 minutes even more. Taste and adjust seasonings, pepper can be added along with more. Use sauce on favor pasta or let cool and use within 4 days.

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July 9, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 9- Asparagus Focaccia

I love bread, and one of the best summer breads I end up making more often is Focaccia. Love the taste and  mix of flavors. It's easier to make than most think really it is. You won't regret trying to make it!


2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water (110 - 115 degrees)
1 cup room temp water
2/3 bread flour
4 cups white flour (all purpose)
1/4 cup whole wheat
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bushel asparagus, washed and dried. Trim off the white ends
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.


 Sprinkle the dry yeast over the lukewarm water. (Measure it in a measuring cup then pour it into a  medium sized bowl ) Let is sit for about  5 minutes then stir in the honey or sugar. Allow it to sit for another 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add the bread flour and combine to form the sponge
 Rest for 30 minutes, the sponge will rise a lot during this stage.
In another bowl combine the white and whole wheat flours together along with the salt. Make a well then add the finished sponge. Add 3/4 cup of oil, and remaining  cup of water. Mix until combined. Once it's mixed, dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Wouldn't take very long at all. (5 minutes should be good)  Place the dough in a well oiled (just spray with Pam) and cover with plastic. Let it rise in a warm spot until it doubles in volume. It will take about 1 1/2 hours. Do not rush this rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Brush a cookie sheet with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Place the dough in the center then using your fingers to spread it out till it reaches 8x12 inches. Do not roll this out.
When the dough has just started to rise again (just let it rest about 10 minutes) lay asparagus on dough and slightly press down to fix them into place. Allow the dough to rise again, it will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes shouldn't be any longer.

Bake until slightly browned, 30 minutes in the 350 degree oven. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and bake for 10 more minutes.


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July 8, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 8- Spinach and Mushroom Sandwich

Sandwiches are quick to make, or at least most of them anyways. With the garden booming in green I go right outside and pick some vegetables for a sandwich these days. This weekend I made several different kinds, but my favorite was the Spinach, mushroom and tomato. You could probably grill this and make it a grilled cheese vegetable sandwich but I wasn't willing to wait anylonger to eat.
I love the fresh taste of this, if I'm feeling really adventurous I'll add a splash of red wine vinegar or garlic vinegar in while I'm tossing the spinach. 

2 cups fresh  baby spinach rinsed
Slices of Swiss cheese
1 tomato sliced
1 portabella mushroom rinsed
pepper to taste


Heat up a cast iron skillet, you don't need oil but you may use a tablespoon or two. Drop spinach in the skillet and cook till wilted. Season with pepper, and toss before removing from heat. Heat mushroom in remaining oil until nicely browned on both sides. Prepare your bread how you like it, I just lay the cheese on it and let the warm spinach melt it. Lay your slices of tomato, mushroom and spinach on cheese. Cut and eat!


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July 7, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 7- Baked Vegetable Casserole

A friend gave me this recipe,  it's really rather simple and uses only a couple ingredients. I only had one eggplant as the weather isn't helping much to grow them. Instead of this being "Baked Eggplant Casserole" It became a mix of vegetables and came out just fine. My friends version used mostly the eggplant while I used zucchini to add the bulk.

So good!!

4 tablespoons oil
pinch of salt
2 tomatoes
1 eggplant
1 medium sized zucchini (or two small)
1 glove of garlic
1/2 cup chopped onions
about 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
pepper to taste

 Cube up your zucchini and eggplant. In a large skillet heat oil and toss in your cubed vegetables on medium heat, sprinkle salt on top.  Heat and toss till both vegetables are a little tender. Transfer part of the vegetables to a sprayed or foiled baking dish. Cut one tomato up and arrange slices on top of other vegetables top with remaining vegetables and layer sprinkle cheese on top. I didn't use all the cheese so use as much or as little as you want. Cut up remaining tomato a layer it on top of cheese. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted, edges are just a bit browned and vegetables are tender. Serve as a side.

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Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,”

When small-time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great and powerful Wizard—and just maybe into a better man as well.

Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

“Oz The Great and Powerful” is produced by Joe Roth and written by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire (credit not final). Grant Curtis, Philip Steuer and Palak Patel are serving as executive producers. “Oz The Great and Powerful” opens in U.S. theaters on March 8, 2013.
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July 6, 2012

Sweet Treat Friday- Vegetable Recipe Challenge Day- 6- Carrot Zucchini Muffins

This is a great way to use up and left over vegetables on hand. My carrots come in small batches, honestly I have no idea why. They are planted at the same time, but half of them grow on their own time which is slow and steady. It give me a good handful of each harvest section to use in some easy baked treats for the kids.

I top off the muffins before putting them into the oven with more carrots, kinda looks funny at the moment but they were good I promise! 


3 cups total of shredded carrots and shredded zucchini
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar

Directions, Preheat oven to 350F
Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease.

In a large bowl combine baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and flour. Mix together. In another smaller bowl mix eggs, oil and brown sugar stir it up till the eggs are beaten well. Add in your shredded carrots and zucchini. Mix carefully together then Add wet ingredients to the dry mix just until moistened (don't over mix). Transfer and spoon into your prepared muffin cups. Bake about 15- 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
I don't ever frost these, but they would taste great with cream cheese frosting!

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Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 5- Pickled Roasted Peppers

With plenty of peppers to use this summer I wanted to start canning them for further use. I love roasted bell peppers, so I tried out two methods to can them this week. One was the boiling water method which used oil , and then a  pickled version of Roasted bell peppers. My favorite is the peppers packed in oil, but I'm still adjusting that recipe. It pretty much comes down to getting the ratio correct but since I don't always have the same amount of peppers on my hands it's constantly changing. With all the research I've done though it's safe to say the ratio  is a 1-2-1-  1 cup lemon juice, 2 cups vinegar, and 1 cup oil for about 4lbs of peppers. Simply adjust it to your amount to what you have, then continue to can, if you've never canned please do the research first so you do it safely.

The recipe I'm sharing today was in the Complete Ball book of home preservation,

4 garlic cloves roasted and removed from skin and then smashed
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped onion
4 tsp pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar
20 bell peppers, any color will do I used red and yellow

Prepare canner , jars and lids. I used my Pressure cooker as I was busy canning other things as well but the easiest method would be the water boiling method.

In a large saucepan combine the ingredients except the peppers and sugar. While your cooking the mix on the stove roast your peppers in the oven until the skin of the peppers is nicely roasted. Let them cool then lift off the skins. Pack peppers into prepared jars leaving 1/2 from the top. Your mixture should be boiling by now, if not bring it to a boil and then add in sugar. Reduce heat while stirring and letting the sugar dissolve, boil gently for about 5 minutes. You may now start to ladle in the liquid into the jars covering the peppers. Remember to leave a 1/2 head space. Remove all air bubbles, wipe lid and screw on band. Hot Water bath jars for 15 minutes.

Always refer to a guide when canning!

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July 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Dragonfly

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Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 4- Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes- I figured it’s not much different than stuffing any other vegetable, why I have not done it before?  No clue! It makes a perfect snack or side for any meal, and I'm always over loaded with tomatoes. Kind of baffling that I've never did this before.

Not much of a recipe for this. Cut the top off the tomatoes, scooped out the centers, and mixed in chopped peppers, a little cooked rice, corn and chives. I cooked them for about 10 minutes in a 350F oven then topped with a mozzarella and basil mix, to bake another 3 minutes or until the cheese melted.

The result was a winner! What’s not to love about these bright red juicy tomatoes? Nothing, that’s what!

Do you have a favorite stuffed tomato recipe you want to share?

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July 3, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 3- Balsamic Vinegar Tomato Salad

A Recipe I didn't like! It sound almost unimaginable honestly, but that's the truth. The thing that I didn't care for was the balsamic vinegar, it's the reason I tried it to begin with. My tomato salads always have vinegar but it's wine or garlic , the red is favored in this house more than anything. My kids didn't care for the balsamic, but my husband ate it :) Maybe some of you would enjoy this!

I love me some maters! 

Balsamic Vinegar Tomato Salad

5 tomatoes of different varieties
1 large onion thinly sliced
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ( start with one)
Pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
dried basil leaves (or fresh, whatever is on hand)

Slice up washed tomatoes. Arrange along with sliced onion overlapping. Sprinkle with vinegar and oil. Sprinkle with basil, pepper and garlic powder.

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July 2, 2012

Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 2- Baked Zucchini

Talk about an easy way to get the kids to eat zucchini!  Making it just like I would chicken or eggplant parmesan I dipped zucchini in an egg wash then coated with bread crumbs.  Topping with diced tomatoes and cheese my kids will eat it without complaing, vegetable dish win!



2 tablespoons oil (more if your pan frying the slices)
1/2 cup diced onions
1 garlic cloves minced
2 medium zucchini cut into slices. You don't want them thick, but you don't want them thin.
about 2 cups diced up tomatoes
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese *optional
2 eggs, beaten

Dip your zucchini slices in the egg and then coat in bread crumbs. You can either pan fry slices in a little oil on the stove or place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 3-5 minutes (350F) till the bread crumbs are golden brown. Take the slices and lay them into prepared baking pan. Pour some of the diced tomatoes and all it's juices ontop. Layer again if you have more zucchini , repeat layering process till your done. To make it really cheesy (ha!) sprinkle with mozzarella cheese (cups worth) Bake about 25 minutes or until the zucchini is tender.

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July 1, 2012

Have you Taken the Pledge? #Take action #NoKidHungry

Five facts about Child Hunger in the US

1More than 16 million kids in America live in households that struggle to put food on the table. That’s 1 out of 5 kids

2- There were also over 16.4 million children in America living in poverty in 2010. That’s almost 1 million more than in 2009. 

39.8 million kids get free or reduced-price school breakfast on an average school day, more than ever before…but 10.5 million eligible kids go without.

4Only 1 in 7 kids who get free and reduced-priced school lunches receive summer meals. 

5- Almost 45 million Americans used SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) during 2011. Nearly 75 percent of these are in families with children and more than a quarter are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

 These are our kids. This is our problem. We are all a part of the solution. 

What can you do to help?

Take The Pledge today!

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Vegetable Recipe Challenge- Day 1- Skillet Greens

If you have been following me for awhile now you know about the Recipe Challenge I do each year. I pick new recipes or ones from friends and family to make during an entire month. The idea behind it is, - To get my family excited to try new dishes.
 After finishing my last challenge I thought about how creative it could be to do another challenge with only vegetables. Not only that but Vegetables grown from my garden. So here you have it, the start of the Vegetable Recipe Challenge, each day I will post a new recipe starring one of my homegrown vegetables.  Hopefully the garden can keep up with me!

Skillet Greens

 ½ cup olive oil
12 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
½ cup pine nuts
2 ½ pounds quick cooking greens (my favorite is mustard greens , kale, or chard)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

 Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and nuts and cook stirring until the nuts are golden brown. Should only take about 6-7 minutes. Add in the cut greens (roll up several leaves at once and cut into slices, this give you perfect long strips of the greens easily) Stir until the greens wilt. Continue to cook stirring the greens until they are tender. Depending on your choice of greens the time varies. Add a couple tablespoons of water and pour in the vinegar over the greens then season with pepper. You may add salt but I add in vegetable broth and that’s enough salt for me.

Enjoy and stay tuned for the rest of the recipes this month!
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