Sunday, July 23, 2017

"Breakfast on the Go" Muffins




I have a big family and our family is very busy, like many families. Some leave early for work and others are at home, but even those who leave early, don't leave at the same times. One son usually leaves before anyone else is even up and sometimes another one does also, but they leave at different times.  Breakfasts have become a bit of a problem.

Cold cereal isn't ideal, by any means....  Eating together doesn't work. Sometimes I make a couple of  big egg casserole dishes to last for two days, so each person can heat some for their breakfast. That works sometimes, but what about the other times? Sometimes, they don't eat any breakfast, but my guys work really hard and get hungry often.... so what to do?

I wanted something quick and easy.... and ready for them to eat. I wanted something they would like, but that would have a lot of nutrition in it. I checked to see what we had on hand... and brainstormed for a muffin that would be filling, tasty and somewhat healthy.



 I used a basic muffin recipe and added a LOT of stuff to it. My kids were excited about muffins, but then VERY skeptical, after they heard of one of the ingredients I chose.

Okay, with a basic recipe, I added extra butter, carrots, roasted and salted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seed meal, ground chia seeds, raisins, cranberry sauce, sour cream, spices... and the ingredient that my kids didn't want?  Feta cheese! Sounds strange doesn't it?

Aldi had the Feta Cheese on sale for $1.49 and I had bought extra, so I decided to use it, especially since we didn't have much other cheese on hand. I wanted a sweet and salty type of muffin that would be satisfying and stick with them until lunch.



  After mixing the other ingredients all together, I diced up canned cranberry sauce and stirred that in too.

Like I've said before, I like to experiment... and it USUALLY turns out pretty well. (There have been a couple of recipes we didn't repeat!)








I filled the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full. At first, I just put the batter in and baked them, but after a while, I had the idea to make them look a little nicer, so I added some old fashioned rolled oats and cinnamon to the top of each one and they did look better.











You can see the cranberry sauce on these muffins... 
















These show the oatmeal and cinnamon, but not the cranberry sauce. It is down inside most of the muffins.










































You can see all of the wonderful goodness in these muffins... the carrots, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and more.  Delicious.









































These are so good to eat hot.. or cold.  They can be eaten plain... or with butter.... or my favorite is with cream cheese. Yum.












































 I have enjoyed them with a hot cup of tea and it was a wonderful combination!














~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gentle Joy Homemaker Recipe
A great muffin packed with seeds, carrots, flavor with a sweet and salty flavor. Great for a quick breakfast on the go!!!


                  "Breakfast on the Go" Muffins


2  cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt  .......................................Mix together
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons butter, melted............................Mix all gently together

1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seed  meal (grind flax seeds in coffee maker)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds (can be whole or ground in coffee maker)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoon Feta Cheese (could also use any kind shredded cheese)
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup sour cream......................................................................Mix gently into batter

1/2 cup canned cranberry sauce (cut into small cubes)..................Mix gently into batter

Fill greased muffin cups about 2/3 full. Can add some Old Fashioned Oats and sprinkled cinnamon to the top of each muffin.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen muffins.
These freeze well, so making extra and freezing some makes these last longer. The pictures above show what I made, which was actually 4 batches of this recipe (6 dozen muffins!). 

Gentle Joy Homemaker                                   www.http://gentlejoyhomemaker.blogspot.com

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 We have really enjoyed these wonderful muffins that are more of a meal than a dessert. They are filling and satisfying... and are a fast breakfast. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does. Thank you for visiting my blog.  I hope you have a wonderful week!





A few other Breakfast Ideas:

Seed Cereal Breakfast

Apple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls!

Cherry Muffins Are So Tasty!

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls-Wow!

A Quick Easy Breakfast!










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Monday, July 17, 2017

HERB LIBRARY- 5 Reasons To Start Your Own













 Herbs are helpful... and they are plentiful in most parts of the world.

In a time when the internet is in great use, WHY do we need to have a "book library" of herb books?

Am I saying that everyone should have one? No, you will have to decide if you want one for your home or not, but in this post, I am giving 5 reasons why it is a good idea to start your own Herb Library.





1.  Identification....

      Herbs can be of great use in our health, but it is important to correctly identify the herb you use. Sometimes there can be plants that look very similar to an herb we want to use, but the other plant can be quite dangerous. Small details can show the difference.

      I like to have a book, or actually several books, that give good illustrations of the herb. A drawing or painting of an herb can be helpful, but I also want actual pictures so that I can compare what they really look like as they grow. I also like to see pictures of the plant, as a whole... and a close up, so that there is no doubt I know what to look for.
 



 I have quite a large library of herb books... is that necessary for everyone?   Of course not!

I use herbs and enjoy them....  I grow them in my garden and I collect them from the garden and from other places.

I keep learning and becoming a better herbalist as I read and use herbs. I do want to be very careful to have correct information, so I like having a variety of books to compare.









2. Learn New Herbs....

There are some herbs that are quite well known and others that can be useful to get to know. Learning a little at a time can help solidify that knowledge.  In this post, I am showing pictures of the herb Echinacea.  It is a well-known herb and in many places, it grows well. I have much of it in my garden and it is great for pictures.

What other herbs are there? What about plantain? Plantain is wonderful to identify and know how to use. It can work well for bee stings and is readily available to apply to the sting, but where do you find it? How do you use it?

There are so many herbs all around and when you start to look at pictures in the herb books, you may realize that you have seen many of them without realizing they were herbs.

We all know of the dandelion, but there are also so many others. You may have seen chicory on the side of the road in the summer and wondered what those purple flowers were.  Some other simple plants are purslane, lambs ear, yarrow, chamomile, and there are so many others. Learning to see these "weeds" as herbs can expand your knowledge... and your ability to use them.





































 Do I use ALL of my books often? No, I don't.

Sometimes, I scan them and other times I compare. Sometimes, they sit on the shelf for long periods of time without being used at all.

Sometimes I find that a certain book just doesn't fit what I need, so I remove it from my library. I have been building my Herb Library for many years and it is helpful to me.









3. Know HOW to use an herb

 Some herbs are quite easy to use... like plantain's helpfulness when it is applied to a wound. Other herbs must be used differently. Sometimes there are cautions.... for instance some herbs are not safe for use during pregnancy.  Others may be helpful in small doses.  It is important to know facts about herbs.

If you have read my blog for very long, you know that I like to experiment... and I do it with herbs also.  I make herbal tinctures, salves, teas, infusions and more. I put herbs in our salads and I try new things, BUT I do not want to make foolish mistakes and endanger my family, so it is important to be wise in how I experiment and my library can help me know what herbs are safer to do that with than others.

An important point is to double check your information! Some books or internet information may blacklist a certain herb as toxic and caution to never use it.... when the reality is that a certain part of the plant can be toxic while others are fine to use.

Caution is good, but to just knock out a whole plant for a small portion seems excessive. I want to know the bad... and the good and then make a wise decision.  For example, cherry twigs are toxic, so do we stop eating cherries because of that? No. Tomatoes are from the dangerous nightshade family, so do we stop eating tomatoes? That was done in the past, but we can still enjoy tomatoes. It is important to know and be careful.


































Do I need to spend a lot of money for this Herb Library?  NO!

I am quite frugal and it is rare that I would buy a book like this new and for a large price. I have found it helpful to use a book from the library... to see if it would be helpful to me. Then sometimes, I would order it for my own library.

Some places to check for herb books are garage sales, library book sales, ebay, Amazon, etc.











4.  A personal Herb Library can be a place to highlight information.... to mark pages so you can easily find them... to jot notes that will be helpful to you. 

So many times, I have learned great information.... and later when trying to go back to the source, I sometimes wonder, "Where did I read that?" Maybe it was the internet.. or a book... or I heard it from someone. It is more helpful to have a library to collect that learning... so that I can refer back to it. Sometimes I want to double check the information... or sometimes I found the information so helpful that I want to see what else the person says.

I also find it helpful to build on what I learn and having my own books can help that process.




































Do I recommend all of these books? NO... some I don't know enough about them to recommend. Others I like some parts, but not others.

There may be some herb books I would love to add to my library, but cost prevents me from doing that.

My library is still a work in progress and I will keep adding to it.














5. If there's no internet....

I know this is the answer for many... just check the internet... just ask the internet.
What if the internet is out? What if you are where there is no internet? Think it can't happen? It does.... especially when there are storms or large problems, like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornado damage, flooding or other disaster situations.  In a time like that, those herb books could be very important as there may not be access to the nearby emergency room or doctor's office.

Another issue is trust. Is everything on the internet true? No, and books are not always true either, which is another reason to double and triple check your information. When I find a book I feel I can trust, I am still careful with the information, but tend to trust it easier than an unknown website.




Maybe you don't like or use herbs and so none of this post applies to you. That's okay, I am not pushing herbal use.... it's an individual choice.  I know what a blessing my herbal library is to me, so I am sharing why it may be helpful to others also.

Do you have an Herb Library? Even one book can count as the start of a library.... and one book may be all you want or need. I would love to hear in the comments if you have a real book library of herb books... or one book. Are you still adding to it? Do you have other reasons it is helpful to have an Herb Library? Please feel free to share in the comments.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you have a great week!  🙂









Other herb posts you may enjoy:

Quick Healing With Plantain

Are There Any Uses For Columbine?

Allergy Tea-Homemade Herb Tea

Pinecones... Are They Edible? Hmmm...





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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Easy Taco Casserole!




















 My husband loves tacos... actually, we all love them. Since it takes a LOT of tacos to feed my large family... and since that isn't cheap or fast, I keep experimenting for something easier.

We have taco salad often as my family loves that too. My husband always has tacos for his birthday and yet, he told me to make something easier this year as I have been so busy and overloaded.

I still wanted to make something "taco-like" without making taco salad. This recipe turned out to be similar to both foods and we all loved it.... my husband thought it was great for his birthday.

I started out with tortilla chips in two 9" x 13" pans (remember, I have a big family and I made what would be a double batch of the recipe shown below.). I had cooked hamburger and put 2 cans of petite diced tomatoes in it and 2 packages of taco seasoning  and some salsa, then cooked it down a bit. It smelled great.

I put that over all of the tortilla chips, then put cheese on it. Normally, I would used shredded cheese, but I used the cheeses we had... some cheddar, some Monterey Jack , some hot pepper jack and even a bit of Swiss. Like I said, things were really busy and hadn't done my shopping for a while, so I was thankful to find this much available.I wanted it to be quite cheesy.

Then I baked it for a while.  It smelled great!

































 I dished up some on each plate and it looked like this.


















 Then we added sliced lettuce, diced tomatoes and sour cream.

 I would have added shredded sharp cheddar over the top because it would look nice, but I used the cheese on the casserole. It would have improved it visually, but it was great anyway!






















 I love all of those colors together... and the cool fresh veggies on the hot seasoned casserole.

We also added just a bit of ranch dressing over the plate, which was a great finishing touch! 












I also loved all of the melted cheese. Yum!














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                                     EASY TACO CASSEROLE

1 pound hamburger, cooked
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 package Taco seasoning
1/2 cup salsa
                .......................................................Cook together until liquid is absorbed

Tortilla chips... enough to half fill the 9" x 13" casserole dish

                 ..................................................... Spread cooked meat on chip layer.
 Cheese-8 oz package- Shredded sharp cheddar, or whatever your preference.
                .......................................................Put on the meat layer
                                                                       Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes      

Remove from oven and serve onto plates.

Add:
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Sour Cream
Optional: Garnish with Shredded Cheddar cheese and Ranch dressing
Serve and enjoy!  :)

This is fast and easy and can be adjusted to your family's likes and dislikes.

         Gentle Joy Homemaker                www.http://gentlejoyhomemaker.blogspot.com
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For dessert, we had another experiment recipe. The link to that new recipe is:

Cherry Cranberry Dessert

                
Thank you for visiting my blog today... I hope you enjoy the recipe... I know we will be making it again at my house. I hope you have a great week.



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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cherry Cranberry Dessert






My husband loves cherries and for his birthday he always wants cherry pie, but sometimes, like this year, I don't have time to make cherry pie, so I get creative in making a cherry dessert and he loves it. This one was a special hit... and best of all was that it was fast and easy.










This is how it looked when it came out of the oven... don't judge the dessert by its looks though... it was wonderful. :)

We served it warm with vanilla ice cream and all agreed that we need to keep this recipe and make it again... and we will!








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                Cherry Cranberry Dessert


2 cups sour cherries
2 cups frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 heaping tablespoon Arrowroot powder ( can also use corn starch)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
.............................  Mix all of this together in a bowl. Put into greased 9" x 13" pan

1 Yellow Cake Mix   ................ Pour dry cake mix over the uncooked dessert in the 9" x 13" pan.
1 stick butter, melted..................Drizzle over the dry cake mix.

Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes.(may need to adjust time)

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Yum!!  :)




                         Gentle Joy Homemaker @      gentlejoyhomemaker.blogspot.com
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This has beautiful color and would be wonderful for holidays or just for dessert. We do like this and will keep making it.  Thank you for visiting my blog.




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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Picket Fence Hides the Trash Cans...































 We live in the city, although we would love to move to the country. While we live in the city, we want our yard to look nice, and also be very usable.

We have areas that are utilitarian... not pretty. One of those areas is between our two large pine trees where we store our trash and recycling cans.









 I'd much rather look at an old picket fence than at the trash cans, so when we found an old one for free, this was a perfect place for it.

At first, my guys didn't think it was necessary, but we have all been glad to have those trash cans shielded a bit. I sure appreciated the work the guys did to make this old fence work here as they had to adjust the size of it and anchor it into the ground.









 From the deck, we can look out to the back garden with the gray picket fence and also see the picket fence in front of the trash cans.

I added hostas in front of the fence to give color and interest to the area. The pine trees drop pine needles which forms a pretty brown carpet and makes a natural mulch for the hostas.







 Here, you can see the fence between the two trees and the hostas in front of it. Other stuff that we need to deal with is behind that fence and you can see it a little. I am so glad it is behind the fence where it isn't obvious. 










We also found that this is a good place to put a thermometer since it is in the shade much of the day.

Are the trash cans totally hidden? No, they can still be seen, but the picket fence in front allows your eye to flow over them rather than to be drawn to them.








This next picture shows some of our garden areas... and at the far right you can see the trash cans with the picket fence in front of them.

At the back is the new little courtyard patio that I blogged about here:
Table Top Becomes Courtyard Patio!

The wonderful raised garden beds are in this post:
New Raised Garden Beds

The picket fence around the back garden was also an old fence we reused when someone else was done with it. There are lots of ways to use an old picket fence in the garden or yard. I love having it around my garden and shielding the trash cans, but it can also be used as an accent for a flower bed or to add interest to a boring corner of the yard.

If you have a chance to get some picket fence, it doesn't have to be in perfect shape to work well and look nice....  these have been in use in our yard for several years and they were old when we got them. They still have many years of use left in them. Sometimes a picket needs to be replaced, and we do it, but for the most part, they are fine out there with not much care at all once it is in place and I like that. I don't want to have a lot of yard items that need lots of care.

Do you have a section you want to "hide"? A picket fence could work, but something else could also... this is a time to think "outside the box" and be creative. A trellis with vines growing on it would also work....at least in the summer and fall months. What solution have you used in your yard to hide something? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

Thank you for visiting... 






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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Decorating the Ceiling....









 This post is about decorating the ceiling...  and it is surprising how much some ceiling decoration can add to a room!

A few years ago, we removed the popcorn ceilings in the house... WHAT a HUGE job that was! It was so worth it though, and lightened the rooms nicely.

After removing the popcorn ceilings, we painted the ceilings a white paint that reflected the light back to the room. The rooms were so much nicer after that.

Having painted ceilings meant that we could also decorate the ceilings. :)  I don't mean decorating them in a busy way, but some accents can add to the room.

This post shows some of that:

What a Difference! Master Bedroom





 This picture shows a medallion I painted on the dining room ceiling several years ago. At that time, the walls were a ragged gray and green and we loved them. ( You can see a picture of the wall from that painting job, here:
 Big Painting Project


I did not want to paint it again when we painted the room, so I left this medallion the way it was... and added to it.


 The blue walls made me want to add some blue to the ceiling, so I left the original white medallion on the gray ceiling, and added blue touches to make the medallion larger.

















 The white part shows up better in the light since it is a glossier paint than the blue, and I actually like it that way, though I wouldn't have planned it like that.

The blue paint I used is the same paint as on the wall, but you can also use a stencil paint that is close to the color of the wall.








I also added a border around the inset of the tray ceiling and it seemed to tie it all together.













 I used a regular stencil  and repeated the design.  I used that stencil in various ways on the medallion also.

 I kept the design rather simple and only in the two areas as I did not want to overwhelm the room, but rather just accent it.



































We all like how the ceiling turned out and have had lots of comments from visitors who also like it. One comment was that it has a French look.  That's fun to hear.  :)

What a blessing to make such a change for very little money...  stenciling is a frugal way to decorate our home.

Another post you may be interested in:

Family Room Project: Ceiling Design



 #StencilingTheCeiling  #CeilingDesign #StenciledMedallion


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