My Favorite Green Beans

Green beans are a classic easy side dish. Far from being a boring, gross vegetable, they provide a beautiful base for all sorts of dishes. You can dress them up and wrap them in bacon and glaze them with balsamic vinegar, or you can put them in a casserole or soup.

Today I’m sharing my favorite quick and easy way to make green beans. You can make these with a canned green beans, frozen green beans or green beans fresh from your garden. It is up to you—this is just a basic recipe and it’s fast and my whole family loves it.

I first had green beans fixed this way at my mother-in-law’s house. She got this recipe from another lady in our church and it has become a staple at her house and mine as well. The ingredients are simple and you can get them at Walmart.

All you need is two regular cans of green beans or one family sized can of green beans, space two packages of Goya ham flavoring black pepper and some butter .

Begin by rinsing your green beans draining all the water from them then barely covering them with water in a small pot. Add two packages of the ham seasoning, pepper to taste and one to two tablespoons of salted butter.

Cover with a lid and bring to a boil and boil for five to 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Click on the image below to watch the YouTube video to see how quick and easy it is to make them.

Hello September

September sneaked up on me. After the busiest summer of my life thus far, this new month jumped out from behind the corner and said “Boo!” I’m not upset at all since it means we are heading into my favorite season of the year.

We have finally settled into more of a routine. We started homeschooling back up again last week and we all gave a collective (if unconscious) sigh of relief to finally have some order in our lives again. The house remodel, selling the house, and moving really did a number on our lives over the last several months.

We have acquired a few more “pets” since we have moved to the country. A dozen beautiful laying hens joined us in August. They are very young and are just starting to lay. I had forgotten how much joy chickens bring me. It is like a treasure hunt every day going out to see who has laid an egg for the first time and learning everyone’s personalities.

And if you don’t think chickens have personalities, just go spend some time around a couple. We have some very sweet, docile hens, and several that are renegades and would rather roost in the trees and woods than sleep in the coop like all good civilized birds do. We had a wing trimming party not soon after we brought them home and that has helped a little bit.

We also brought home some ranch kitties last week. Nellie, and her kitten Tinkerbelle. Nellie has already let me know that she approves of her new home and has brought me a mouse as a gift and left it on the front porch where I would find it. After nearly stepping on a snake in the garage, I decided it was high time to get a cat or two to help patrol the premises.

We are relishing country life. It has been a dream come true for me to slip back into the way of life that shaped me growing up. Even though I have been gone for 10 years, slipping back into the rhythms and routines of a life that revolves around livestock, crops and the weather is like riding a bicycle. Watching my babies play, explore, and make memories in the same yard and house that I did at their ages has been so neat. We are ready to get moved into our new home, but our season in the farmhouse is sweet and I am savoring it.

My awesome helper ❤️
My butterfly and flower loving girl is in heaven.

I stand very thankful at the beginning of this new month. We have seen the Lord move for us in ways that we never imagined and we are in awe. I’ll be able to share everything soon, and I can’t wait to!

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CTa7BvxnMU1tM3cuhRicvbNrQWsLxixgIsupE80/?utm_medium=copy_link

Shredded Salsa Chicken Two Ways

These are the recipes featured in the the latest live session in the FB Group. I have also added it to my YouTube channel. I hope you enjoy!

I love recipes that I can cook and use for two separate meals. Most of the time it means I can cook the meat for it and use it in two different recipes. I’m sharing a fabulous salsa style shredded chicken recipe that is the base ingredient for two meals we enjoy all of the time. I’m also going to share my sour cream enchilada sauce that I use for the second meal we make with this chicken.

We use this for chicken tacos, with lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. I also use it to make a chicken enchilada casserole, layered with corn tortillas, cheese, and sour cream enchilada sauce. So yummy! This recipe makes enough for both meals, so you can knock out two meals worth of cooking at once.

For the chicken:
3-4 chicken breasts
2 packages of taco seasoning
1/2 bunch of cilantro
Juice of 1-2 limes
2 heaping tablespoons of minced garlice
1 16 oz jar of picante sauce (I use Pace)

Instant Pot method: Place all ingredients in instant pot and cook on the poultry setting setting for 25 minutes under pressure.

Let pressure fall naturally and then shred the chicken with two forks or in your mixer.

Crockpot Method: Place all ingredients in the crockpot and cook on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 8-9 hours. Shred and enjoy.

For the Sour Cream Enchilada Sauce:

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. chicken brother
1 c. sour cream
2 4 oz. cans diced green chilies
1/2 c. finely diced cilantro

Begin by making a very pale roux with the butter and flour. Whisk in the chicken broth and let cook til bubbly. Add in remaining ingredients and let simmer for a few minutes.

To make the casserole, layer the shredded chicken, shredded cheese, corn tortillas and enchilada sauce several times in a baking dish, ending with sauce and cheese on top. Bake at 350F until bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.

Week 2 Menu Plan and Shopping Guide

Orange Chicken Recipe: https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a11820/orange-chicken/

Hamburger Steak Recipe: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/salisbury-steak-recipe-2126533 I use a variation of this recipe. I’m posting the link here for a guide if you’ve never made it before.

Amazing Low Maintenance Sourdough

Bread is one of the great loves of my life, and sourdough is a slight obsession of mine. It has especially intensified over the last several months after I discovered this recipe and method for making sourdough bread. Since then, I’ve been using it for everything I could think of. Our favorites so far have been bread smothered in butter, pizza crusts, and cinnamon rolls. (I’ll share my cinnamon roll recipe later as it has quite a few more ingredients than this base recipe.)

In the past I made and kept a sourdough starter, and made fresh sourdough every time I wanted bread. I had to make sure to feed the starter and not let it die…….and I never made it very long with a sourdough starter. There were too many steps and too much to remember. It wasn’t a sustainable option for me.

I was introduced to this bread recipe and method over at Gwen’s Nest Blog. She has tons of information and nutritional nuts and bolts about this bread and some variations on ingredients. Stop by if you need more info.

There are only four, yes, FOUR ingredients for this bread in its most basic form. It does not require kneading, or feeding, or sweet talking or words of affirmation like starters I’ve had in the past did. Probably the thing that I like the most about this is the fact that it isn’t a starter at all, rather it’s a batch of ready to bake bread dough that you let ferment in your fridge. You are able to pull out only what you need and bake as little or as much as you want throughout the two weeks the bread dough is good to use. (My dough never lasts that long, by the way.) It is super convenient and so yummy.

I keep my sourdough in a glass cookie jar from Walmart. It is the one gallon size and doesn’t take up a lot of space in my fridge. You can also get one from Amazon, but it is pricier.

Now on to the method and recipe before I turn into the long winded recipe blogger I swore I would not become.
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Ingredients:

3 1/2ish cups of warm water
2 teaspoons fast acting yeast (I like to buy it in bulk packaging from Amazon, but I have seen it at Walmart and HEB as well)
6 c. flour (I have been using all purpose, but Gwen’s Nest has pointers for using whole wheat flour)
1 Tablespoon salt

Begin by placing your warm water in your sourdough container. Sprinkle the yeast on top and stir.

Next, add in 2 cups of flour and stir well. Gradually add 2 more cups of flour (dough will be start to be sticky.)

Add your salt, and continue adding and mixing remaining flour until you have a sticky, somewhat stiff dough with as few dry spots as possible.

Your dough should resemble this once your remaining flour is mixed in:

Now let your dough sit out on your counter for 2-3 hours. It will double in size then fall back down. Stick it in your fridge overnight. It is ready to use at this point, but for better flavor I recommend letting it set 72 hours before using.

To Bake Your Sourdough:

Take your sourdough out of the fridge. Scoop out the desired amount of dough and form it however you wish. This makes great rustic loaves and baguettes, and fabulous pizza crusts.

For bread, form your loaves and let rise for 40 minutes or until doubled, and bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.

For handtossed/thin pizza crusts, roll to desired thickness, prick all over with a fork and prebake at 475F till just golden. Cover with desired toppings and return to the oven until cheese is bubbly.

For thick/pan crust pizza, oil a 9×13 baking pan. Pat/roll dough out to approximate pan size and place inside. Pat dough out further, making sure to fill in all of the corners. Let rise til nearly doubled, pat gently with fingertips once more, and cover with toppings of your choice. Bake at 475F for 12-15 minutes.

I will write another post later about using this sourdough recipe for sweet breads like cinnamon rolls and doughnuts.

Crises Don’t Scare Me | Freezer and Pantry Stocking

I awoke to news this morning that another cyber attack has been launched–this time on the of the nation’s largest meat suppliers. I have a feeling that meat prices are about to go up and availability is about to go down. There will probably be a rush on grocery stores akin to the Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020. I hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me. This is just the age that we are living in today.

If I’ve learned anything over the last year it is that the majority of people do not (or do not know how to) prep and stock their pantries and freezers for more than a few days at a time. This is something that can bite you–say the country gets shut down and grocery stores are out of food. If you only have a few days’ worth of food in your house, things could get serious. Especially if we were to have a repeat of the event of last year where they literally started rationing items. Last year I was in the grocery store getting ready to check out and the lady ahead of me had chicken breast, lunch meat, and one package of bacon. She exceeded her allowed amounts and the cashier removed what was needed to get her back to the acceptable amount. Food rationing. I really never thought I would live in a world where that was a possibility, but here we are.

Thankfully, my mom modeled and taught us how to stock our pantry and freezer. Part of that was because we grew up in the country and only went to town once a week. We had to be intentional with what we bought and make sure we got what we needed because we didn’t have a grocery store right around the corner. We were able to see what it looked like to buy a week or two worth of groceries and how to store them. So the Covid grocery store rationing didn’t hit us as hard as it did some people last year.

When some people think about stocking their pantry and freezer they get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, or they think it means a lot of money all at once. This is actually really easy to get started with and it doesn’t take a lot of money.

Step 1: What do you really eat?

To get started you need to determine what you actually eat on a regular basis. What are meals and recipes that are your go-to staples? Make a list of your most used meals and break that list down further by the necessary ingredients to accomplish those meals. (If you already have a menu plan in place, this is already done for you.) Look at the ingredients and separate them into perishable and nonperishable categories.

Nonperishable Items

Nonperishable items are items that can live on your pantry shelves without refrigeration. Canned goods, dry goods, pasta, rice, beans, those sorts of things.

In the nonperishable ingredients category, pick a few things to buy extra of your next trip to the store. For example, if one of your meals is pork chops with rice pilaf and green beans for sides, buy 1-2 extra cans of green beans and an extra box or two of rice pilaf. You can think of it as “one to eat, and one for the pantry”. I’m not saying to buy 15 cans of green beans because you are trying to stock your pantry, but just 1-3 more than what you would normally buy. Now you have 1-2 meals’ worth of green beans in your pantry.

Things like flour, sugar, rice, dried beans, oatmeal, cornmeal, etc., will keep for a long time in airtight containers. You can buy 10 & 20 lb bags of these items and be set up for a while. I recently bought these canisters and LOVE them. I can see what and how much I have, and they stack neatly and fit in my cabinets. They even came with the cute labels and a chalk marker.

One thing I must mention here: just because it is on sale, or just because it is a big bag of something doesn’t mean you should buy it. If it is not something you regularly use, then it doesn’t matter matter how good of a sale or deal it is. I might be able to get a great deal on a case of blackstrap molasses, but at this point in my life, I don’t use it, and it would just a be a waste of my money and my shelf space.

Perishable Items

Perishable items are things that will go bad quickly if not preserved–whether by freezing or canning. Meats, veggies, fruits, breads, dairy, etc. This is where your freezer steps in and becomes your best friend. If you have any wiggle room in your budget at all and can invest in a freezer, it will be money well spent. The money that you will save in the long run will make the initial cost so worth it.

I have mentioned this more than once on my instagram and in the FB group but I buy the large club packs of chicken breast and pork chops from HEB and put them into meal-sized portions in vacuum seal bags and freeze them. This is an easy, less expensive way to stock your freezer with meat. If you find meat that you use on a regular basis on sale, buy double what you normally would–or whatever your grocery budget allows. Buying the meat on sale now will mean that you won’t have to spend money on it later, because it will be in your freezer ready to use in a few weeks when you need it.

If you can afford it, I *highly* recommend purchasing a vacuum sealer. It will be worth the money you spend on it–I promise! Vacuum sealing helps protect your meats and produce from freezer burning and it will extend the life of your perishable items in the freezer. If you are going to buy meat to store in your freezer like I do, a vacuum sealer is a must. I use it for everything from chicken breasts and pork chops to roasts. I will take the meat out of the store packaging and repackage and label it to go in my freezer. This the Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer that I’ve had for years and use a couple times a week.

Another way that I use the Vacuum Sealer/Freezer dream team is processing seasonal produce. Even though I didn’t have a garden that amounted to anything last year, I was still able to put stuff up in the freezer.

The best helpers ever.


Around this time last year the grocery stores around me had sweet corn 6/$1. I ended up buying a bushel’s worth (around 80 ears) and the kids and I got them processed and in the freezer. We did half in creamstyle corn, and half corn on the cob. Since I put them all in vacuum seal bags, I didn’t need to blanch the ears of corn before freezing them. We still have a little of each left almost a year later. So that was a great example of taking advantage of a sale and using my freezer. If I am able to this year I’d like to put up at least 2 bushels.
We were also able to get around a bushel of purple hull peas to shell and put in the freezer. We have a few packages left almost a year later. My hope is to put up 2 bushels this year.

Purple Hull Peas

I also will often catch butter on sale and freeze it. I take great comfort in knowing I have plenty of butter in the freezer. Cheese can be frozen–whether in block or grated form. Bacon is another great thing to catch on sale and freeze for later.

Fruits are easily frozen. You can freeze ripe bananas to use in smoothies or banana breads. Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries all freeze very easily.

Freezing Meals

I will from time to time freeze one-dish meals or main dishes and have them ready to pull out and use. Freezer meals do not have to be limited to casseroles.

Whenever my husband barbecues we will smoke more meat than we need and vacuum seal the extra for a meal later down the road.

Soups and gumbo freeze very well. I will make double batches and freeze half for later.

Cooked rice, cooked beans (red, pinto, black) and rice dishes freeze well and are very convenient to pull out for side dishes.

If you are looking for an easy way to keep track of what’s in your freezer, you can download this printable Freezer Inventory page. It makes it easy to know what you have in stock and plan meals.

What things are absolute must-haves for your pantry and freezer? Let me know in the comments–I’d love hear from you!

Easy and Fast Marinara Sauce from Scratch

This is a standby, never fail recipe that I use all the time. It works great for many different meals. Anywhere that you need an Italian tomato based sauce, you can use this recipe. We use it for spaghetti sauce or in lasagna (I’ll often season and brown a pound of ground meat to mix with it for a heartier husband pleasing dish), and for pizza sauce. It makes a perfect dip alongside ranch dressing for mozzarella sticks.
It is inexpensive to make and it is easily tweaked to your tastebuds. I hope you enjoy it!

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1-2 Tablespoons of minced garlic–measure with your heart
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
Italian seasoning or Basil and Oregano to taste

Begin by lightly sauteing the garlic and olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan until golden. Add remaining ingredients, and stir well. Let simmer for 10 minutes on medium low heart and use as desired.

Easy Crockpot Apple Butter

Last summer we made apple butter in the crockpot over the course of several live, very chatty sessions in the Blessed & Highly Caffeinated FB group. The video above is a compilation of those videos.

I don’t have an exact recipe, but I will list approximate amounts. There is more detail in the video.

You’ll need:
Apples–any variety will do. My crockpot holds around 5 lbs, cored and sliced. Peeling is not necessary.
Brown sugar–I used around 3/4 c. for 5lbs of apples.
Spices–cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice–whatever you prefer.

Toss the apple slices with the brown sugar and spices and put in the crockpot for4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. The apples should be fork tender (like for mashed potatoes) when done.
Puree the apples–either in food processor, in small batches in a blender, or with an immersion blender. Add 1 1/2-2 teaspoons of vanilla and stir well.

Further instructions on how to can the apple butter are in the video.