Monday, April 14, 2014

Cereal Box Art

Happy Monday everybody!  Welcome to another week.  I posted todays idea on my personal blog this week and someone suggested that you could make this an Easter craft so I thought I'd share here!  Do you save your cereal boxes?  I always do because it is such a large source of cardboard for painting, drawing, and mess making.  One idea in particular I like to do with cardboard boxes is cut shapes out of them and then paint them!  For todays idea I cut out circles from the box and then went to work painting them, layer after layer.  

I used the items pictured below to stamp some interesting designs on the circles and then doodled on top of the dried circles with a white pen.  

If you cut more of an oval shape instead of a circle these would make the perfect easter eggs for your kiddos to paint on this week!  The circles (or eggs) could then be glued or sewn together to make a garland, attached as tags to goody bags, or glued onto a mat to make a piece of art. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Skillet Popcorn

Jana here with another quick and easy way to make popcorn!  Becca posted her microwave version of homemade popcorn, using a brown paper bag when we first started our blog. Today I wanted to give you another option of making your own popcorn at home!  This popcorn is ready in minutes, tastes 'fresh', is much healthier, and cheaper than microwave popcorn you buy at the store. You can season this in so many different ways once it's cooked too!

Skillet Popcorn

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of your choice of oil on high heat. (coconut oil works great, or olive/vegetable/coconut oil)

2. Put 2-3 kernels of popcorn in the skillet, and stand nearby. When you see that those kernels have popped, add 1/3 cup popcorn kernels to the skillet, and COVER.

3. Allow the kernels to pop until you can go 3-5 seconds without hearing any popping.  Then, remove from the heat.

4. Season with garlic salt, season all, or any combination of spices you would like.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sausage, Bean, and Spinach Stew

Becca here with a great hearty stew.  It's early Spring in Arkansas here, meaning that some days are really warm, but we still get a few really chilly, damp days from time to time.  I fixed this stew on one of those brisk days, and it was a winner in my book - fairly inexpensive, quick, healthy, and tasty.  With the Italian Sausage and spinach, it reminded me a bit of another of our favorite soups, Tuscan Soup, but the addition of beans and subtraction of milk makes it different also.  My inspiration recipe, that I deviated from quite a bit, was from a Rachael Ray magazine our Grandma had passed on to me after she had read it.  She suggested squeezing fresh lemon juice in at the end, just before serving, which I'm sure would be good, but I didn't try. 

Sausage, Bean, and Spinach Stew

1 pound dried great northern beans
8 cups chicken broth or stock (I use homemade usually :)
1 onion, peeled & diced (I used purple)
2 carrots, diced (I didn't peel, just coined them)
2 ribs of celery, diced
8 cloves of garlic, diced if you prefer
20 ounces of Italian Sausage, already cooked (I browned in a skillet)
16 ounces of raw spinach leaves

Combine all ingredients, except spinach, in a large slow cooker (mine is 6 quart).  Cook on high about 3 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender.  Just before serving, stir in raw spinach leaves, cover, and let stand until the spinach wilts, about 10 minutes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Messy Outdoor Kitchen Play

Time to jump into another week (I can't believe we're already two days in!).  The spring time is just the most wonderful time.  I love the days when it's warm enough to go outside and spread our wings a bit.  I was preparing the menu and the activities I wanted to do with the girls and was actually smart enough to look at the weather forecast and plan accordingly. I knew today was supposed to be nice so I decided to set up a messy outdoor kitchen with "ingredients" (one of Anna's favorite words)
 This mess will frighten some of you, but hear me out.  
I put empty containers (cans and plastic containers...I always, always run these through the dishwasher and save them for play time, the sandbox, etc.), and "ingredients" on top of a cardboard table.  A.K.A. a diaper box turned upside down. 

The ingredients we used were flour, sugar, coconut, and baking soda to mix with white vinegar.  
I set everything out and let the girls do their own exploring, mixing, and experimenting.  They added some flowers, grass, and wood chips from the yard to their concoctions.  
 I showed Anna Ruth and Betsy Grace what happened when we poured vinegar into the baking soda and they squealed and loved it.  After that Anna did all the pouring, but Betsy didn't seem to mind. 

I kept a close eye on them and made sure to remind them several times that no fingers were allowed near their eyes or in their mouths.  They didn't try it, even once!  

Both girls played together with this little set up and that did my heart good. 

I love to see them learning to use their imaginations!  This took very little prep and was something that they were so, so excited about.  The clean up was easy too!  I turned the box back over and filled it up with the disposable items.  The rest got carried in to rinse off! 

There's really something to this homemade playtime...
play matters.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cheeseburger Quesadilla

Jana here with a recipe that's not 'fancy', but is definitely yummy!  When I'm meal planning, I start by thinking of the meat/protein that I want my meal to have. Then, I decide on accompanying vegetables, etc. So one night I knew I wanted ground beef (or turkey/venison) for our meal, but wanted something new and different. I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and decided it was definitely worth a try!  These were very good, and we will be having them again and again!

Cheeseburger Quesadillas

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup real bacon pieces or chopped bacon
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
4-6 large tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, and allow them to cook for 5-7 minutes. (until transparent) Add the beef, and cook until no longer pink.

2. Add the Worchestershire sauce, ketchup, and bacon to the beef. Stir in the salt and pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Allow to simmer for several minutes.

3. On a large baking sheet, place the tortillas. Place some of the beef mixture on half of each tortilla, then top with shredded cheese. Brush the top of each tortilla with oil.

4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trick "Eggs" {Great for April Fool's Day}

Becca here with a fun recipe that is a family tradition at our house.  And yes, I know April Fool's Day was yesterday, but I've been meaning to post this for a couple of years and keep forgetting, so now you'll have it to remember for next year's April Fool's Day, or to really surprise your kids with a fun trick some other random morning!  I first made these several years ago, and they were such a huge hit with the kids, that I've continued to make them every year.  My oldest two kids this year remembered and were SO excited to see the breakfast again and thought it was super fun.  My 3 year old didn't remember or realize that it wasn't an egg, and commented that it was a REALLY big egg he got for breakfast this morning, ha!  Perfect, and my older ones loved giggling, and being in on the joke.  My baby (who just turned 1 year old, so technically isn't a baby anymore :( was just happy to get a plate, she loves to eat!  Anyway, this is a super simple way that really looks realistic.  I've used apricot halves in the past also, but I don't think they look as realistic in color.  I use Stonyfield Organic French Vanilla yogurt, that's my favorite kind anyway, and I think it has the perfect texture for making a fake egg.  Let me know your kids' reactions when you make them these 'eggs' for breakfast!!  Enjoy!

Trick "Eggs"

Per person -
1 canned peach half (a large can has about 8)
4 ounces of yogurt (my favorite for this, texture & color, is Stonyfield Organic French Vanilla)

Using a large spoon, place the yogurt onto a plate in one big pile.  Use the back of the spoon to smooth it out a bit, in a kind of oval shape.  Keep it thick, because placing the peach 'yolk' on top will flatten it some also.

Drain the peach halves well.  Use another, clean, large spoon to carefully place the egg onto the yogurt.  I try and put them a bit off center, like a real egg :)

Adding breakfast meat or ham makes the meal look even more authentic!  Enjoy!

We also had our traditional (and the one time a year I buy any sort of boxed jello product or gummy worms :) flower bouquet 'dirt cup' pudding with crumbled oreos and gummy worms for dessert.  I've done this different ways in the past, in little terra cotta individual cups (lined with foil!) and with fake flowers, hidden worms, etc. but this year I went simple and used one large container and flowers out of our yard.  Such a simple thing, but something the kids love and look forward to as one of "our" annual family traditions.  I usually do meatloaf muffins with mashed potato 'icing' on top dyed with beet juice, we're still getting into the swing of things from moving a couple of weeks ago, and Tuesdays are my most difficult to get dinner on the table days anyway, so that will have to wait; I told the oldest kids that asked about it, that it would be an even bigger 'fool' when I do it later in April, since they won't be expecting it, and they were, fortunately, excited about that.  What are some of your favorite family traditions?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Easy Fish Tacos

Hi everybody!  I have an easy, tasty idea for dinner for you!  I have seen several recipes for fish tacos that always seem to require more time and ingredients than I'm willing to sacrifice.  So I came up with an easy way to make my own!  The assembling of the tacos is really the longest part!

To make these I purchased some frozen fish fillets from Wal-Mart.  I defrosted them and then seasoned them with Cavender's.  Next I cooked them in the electric skillet in some extra-virgin olive oil until the insides were white and nice and flaky.  

To assemble the tacos I layered the fish with some broccoli slaw (purchased in the produce section) and homemade tartar sauce (light mayo, lemon juice, and sweet relish) and wrapped them in a corn tortilla.

Easy and so delicious!  

Friday, March 28, 2014

'Pioneer Woman' Pizza Crust

Jana here with a delicious pizza crust recipe!  When I make homemade pizza, I have tried several different recipes for the crust. Some have been okay, and some haven't been so great. I decided to try The Pioneer Woman's recipe, and it didn't disappoint! It was so easy to make, and was the perfect texture. Light, a little crispy, and so good!  This recipe makes 2 pizza crusts, so either cut it in half if you only want one, or save one in the fridge for another night!  It's also best to make the dough 24 hours in advance!

Pioneer Woman Pizza Crust

1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Sprinkle the yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.

2. In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with the flour.  Next, pour in yeast mixture and mix until just combined.

3. Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil and form the dough into a ball.  Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge until you need it.

To Bake:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet, and use fingers to coat thoroughly. Remove half the pizza dough from the bowl. Stretch pizza dough into a large rectangle, pressing with fingers to finish forming. Dough will be very thin. Top with sauce, and toppings of choice. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crust is golden.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Marie-Madeline Custom Apron {review & giveaway}

Becca here with a review and giveaway I'm super excited about!  I ordered some fabric and sewing patterns from Marie-Madeline Studio a while back to sew my youngest daughter's first birthday outfit, and a skirt for my oldest daughter for her to wear for the talent show with our homeschool group.  The Long ladies (mother and daughters) that own and run the shop, Kristie, Apphia, Achaia, Abigail, and Abiah, were great to work with, even when I needed to make a change to my order after I had already placed it.  Their blog description says "We love Jesus, we like to make things, we love to be together, we talk a lot, and we design sewing patterns."  I love supporting small, home run businesses like this, especially when both their product quality and prices are so great.  In addition to selling super cute fabric and sewing patterns, they also have a boutique and custom order shop, where you can purchase ready made or custom design your own creations in both girls and women's sizes.  For this review, I chose a Custom Crafted Chic Sisters Apron in my size, in some of Anna Maria Horner's new Dowry prints.  When I'm doing any 'real' cooking in the kitchen I always wear an apron, both to keep my clothes clean and because sometimes I need to wipe my hands quickly if one of the kids needs something urgently, and this apron is super adorable.  The sewing workmanship is impeccable too!  You can also order in a child's size of the same cute style, or they offer a sewing pattern in both sizes if you'd like to sew your own. 

I'm wearing my apron today (looking very tired as my daughter pointed out as she took this picture for me just now, ha!) to make two of my family's very favorites for the freezer, as we try and get back into "normal life" again after moving to a 56 acre farm last week, Oatmeal Mango Coconut Cookies and Stroganoff Meatballs.

The Long ladies generously agreed to let one of our Thrice the Spice readers custom design their own apron!  You can enter this giveaway using the rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 24, 2014

Best hummus ever.

How's that for an original title and recipe name?! The truth is, my sis-in-law to be sent me a text one night asking if I liked hummus, to which I eagerly replied "yes!"  She brought some by the house for me and it is seriously the best hummus I've ever had.  And I've tried a lot of kinds!  It is flavorful and much thicker than the kind you buy at Wal-Mart, which I prefer.  It is peppery and a bit spicy. Absolutely delicious! I asked her to share the recipe so today I am the humble message bearer of such good news.  Best hummus ever! 

1 can drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans) 1/2 lemon (juiced) 1 tbsp. tahini (sesame butter) - I add some sesame oil as well from the jar 4 to 5 garlic cloves 1-2 tbsp. olive oil salt & lots of fresh cracked pepper


Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until smooth and well incorporated. Garnish hummus with olive oil, herbs, pine nuts or whatever you please. Enjoy!