From House to Home {Link Party}: Recipes for the New School Year

Winner Meals for Fall

This week I’ve been experimenting with some new recipes, and they haven’t gone over well.  I was trying the “make-ahead frozen and then put in the crock-pot” meals.  They’re too mushy and don’t “present” well.  So, my husband helped me go through my recipes to identify the winners and get a list ready for fall.

Here are my best meals.  I hope to add some photos to the posts (and the rest of the recipes) in the coming months–but only if I can make them look good (like my friend over at A Little Bit Crunchy)!


Chicken Tacos/Nachos (crock-pot)

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Baked BBQ Chicken Breasts

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets/Strips

Italian Chicken Dish

Chicken Quesadillas


Beef Tacos


Cranberry Roast (crock-pot)

French Dip Sandwiches (crock-pot)

Roast and Veggies


Sloppy Joes (crock-pot)


Mexican Chicken Soup

Black Bean Soup

Butternut Squash Soup (crock-pot)

Vegetable Beef Soup

Chili (crock-pot)

Friendship Soup

Split Pea Soup

Baked Potato Soup


Turkey Breast (crock-pot)

Hot Dogs


Spaghetti with Meat Sauce or Meatballs


Ravioli Bake


Fettucini Alfredo


Turkey Tettrazini

Fried Egg Sandwiches

Baked Potatoes

Sausage and Penne Pasta

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (crock-pot)

Veggie Burgers

And here are a few meals that I’d like to add to the repertoire that I haven’t made before (or recently):  Quiche, Pot Pie, Stir Fry, Buffalo Chicken Salad, White Chili, Swedish Meatballs with Noodles, Hot Potato Salad with Ham, Ham and Potatoes with Cream Sauce.


What are your favorite standard dishes?  Please share a link in the linky or comments!

It’s time for our Link Up Party: From House to Home!

Only 2 rules: 1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! 2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!


By the way, if you have a post about your homeschool curriculum, link it up here.  (It will be open for a few months, so come back if you need to!)

Follow on Bloglovin

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

Review of “Creative Slow-Cooker Meals: Use Two Slow Cookers for Tasty and Easy Meals”by Cheryl Moeller


Last review of 2011:  Creative Slow-Cooker Meals:  Use Two  Slow Cookers for Tasty and Easy Meals by Cheryl Moeller.

When Cheryl first told me about her cookbook and its focus on using two slow cookers, I had my husband buy us a second one as soon as they were on sale at Aldi!  This is such a cool idea.  The cookbook is divided into the following sections:  Breakfast, Shopping Local, Passport to the Nations, Simple Meals, Bulk Bargains, Parties, Vegetarian and Vegan, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, and more.  Sometimes you’ll see a main course paired with a side dish.  Or maybe a breakfast dish paired with a topping.  Or an appetizer paired with a drink.

I went through the cookbook and bookmarked every recipe I wanted to try first–there are about 30!  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any made this week as almost my entire family came down with the flu.  One night those who had an appetite just ate protein bars for dinner!  But I know this cookbook will be on my counter constantly from now on, as crock-pot meals work great for our busy family.

And now a word from the author, Cheryl Moeller:

“So you still have people to buy for on your Christmas List? We are excited to let you know about an upcoming before Christmas e-book promotion for Creative Slow-Cooker Meals: Use Two Slow Cookers for Tasty and Easy Meals by Cheryl Moeller.

From December 22 – January 2 we will be offering the cookbook at a special “sale” price of $2.99 through our ebook distributors—this includes Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, and the Sony Reader.”

Find the Kindle Book at Amazon or the Nook Book or print book at Barnes and Noble:  Creative Slow-Cooker Meals: Use Two Slow Cookers for Tasty and Easy Dinners

(Contains affiliate links)

Review and Giveaway of NuNaturals Stevia products


What a fun post today!  Thank you so much to the NuNaturals company for sending me a box of wonderful natural sugar-free gluten-free products to try out!  I received five bottles of liquid NuStevia:  Peppermint, Vanilla, Orange, Lemon, and Plain; a package of Presweet Tagatose; and NuStevia Prebiotic blend.

Stevia is derived from a leaf that is used as a sweetener.  Many Stevia products on the market have a bitter aftertaste, but not NuStevia!  NuNaturals sells it in powdered form, as well as in a concentrated liquid, and even flavored liquids!

PreSweet Tagatose is a naturally-occurring sweetener found in milk, fruits and vegetables. It is 92% as sweet as sugar. PreSweet is a low calorie (6 calories/serving), low GI (3 on the glycemic index), and low in carbohydrates (especially considering that many of the carbohydrates are not digested).  And it browns like sugar!


Here are the recipes I tried.  They all turned out great!  (My apologies for the photos–the food really did taste much better than it looks!)

1.  Chamomile Tea with a few drops of Peppermint Stevia.  I felt like I was drinking a candy cane!

2.  Orange Muffins-  made with Orange NuStevia.  My kids loved these–I’ll definitely make them again.


3.  Ginger- Mint Syrup served over fresh pears.  I substituted Peppermint NuStevia for the fresh mint leaves and used Tagatose instead of sugar.  Yummy, unique dessert!

4.  Sweet and Sour Chicken.  I’ve never made this before.  I made it with Tagatose instead of sugar, and it was wonderful!

5.  Mini brownies– made with Tagatose instead of sugar.  I topped them with marshmallows and chocolate chips for fun.


6.  Lemonade-  made with cold water and a few drops of Lemon NuStevia

They have lots of recipes on their website–I’ll be trying out more!


If we had a medical issue with sugar in our home, I would definitely purchase Presweet Tagatose for baking and cooking.  It is a wonderful product; diabetics will be thrilled with it!

My mom is allergic to sugar alcohols (Xylitol and Erythritol), so it’s wonderful to have NuStevia as an alternative.


I’m so excited about this giveaway from NuNaturals!  Four readers will receive one bottle of each of:

Lemon NuStevia Liquid, Alcohol-Free, 2 oz. Bottle
Orange NuStevia Liquid, Alcohol-Free, 2 oz. Bottle
Peppermint NuStevia Liquid, Alcohol-Free, 2 oz. Bottle



NuNaturals will ship directly to the winners, no P.O. Boxes, please.

Enter through the Rafflecopter app below, not by simply leaving a comment.  A winner will be chosen next Friday, December 6.

In case you don’t win or want a different product, you can receive DISCOUNTS on all orders placed on the NuNaturals website during December!  When you get to the checkout page enter the discount code BLG1212  and you will receive a 15% DISCOUNT on your ENTIRE ORDER.  This discount remains effective until December 31, 2012.

Online ordering customers may also receive FREE SHIPPING to the CONTINENTAL U. S. on all orders exceeding $35.00 after discounts.

You can also try a sample of NuStevia and find out why it’s the best tasting Stevia on the market–no aftertaste!

Find NuNaturals at their website, Facebook Page, and on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 I received free products to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations and am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Linked to Giveaway Day and Free Homeschool Deals

Canning Crock-Pot Apple Butter- A Tutorial

**Jars of this delicious homemade Apple Butter would make an awesome Christmas gift!


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Are you ready to make some yummy apple butter? My husband LOVES it, so I’ve been making lots every fall for the past few years.  Here’s the recipe:

Crock-Pot Apple Butter

20 apples, cored and cut into pieces (keep skins on)
2 cups apple cider (or substitute apple juice or water)
3 cups sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves

Put apples and cider into crock-pot on low for 10 hours.  (I do it overnight.)
In the morning, barely puree in a blender–don’t liquify!  Add it back to the crock-pot and put in the sugar and spices.  Cook on low for 1 more hour.

Now you can simply put it in the refrigerator (it will keep for several weeks).  Or put in freezer containers to freeze.  Or can it; process 10 minutes.  It makes about 5 pint-sized jars (10 of the 8-ounce jelly jars).


1.  Wash, core, and cut up apples.  Put in large crock-pot with 2 cups of cider, juice, or water.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


2.  Cook on low 10 hours overnight.

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3.  Puree in a blender.

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4.  Put back in to the crock-pot with sugar and spices.  Cook on low one more hour.  Wash jars and rings in dishwasher–use heat dry so they will stay hot until ready to fill.  Get canning pot ready.  Start water to boil about 20 minutes before the apple butter will be done.

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5.  Preheat oven to 200 or 250 degrees to keep jars hot.  Boil water in a pot.  Place the new lids in the pot, turn off the heat, and cover with a lid.
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6.  Fill jars with apple butter leaving about 1/2 to 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe tops with a paper towel.  Put lids and rings on.  Place back in oven until ready to put all jars into the pot.  (Using the right tools makes canning so much easier!  See below for my suggestions.)

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7.  Place jars on rack in water-bath canning pot.  Lower rack; cover and boil for 10 minutes.  (Make sure there’s about an inch of water above jars after lowering.)

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8.  Remove jars from pot and place on a towel to cool.  Check later to see if the jar sealed by pressing on the lid.  If it pops back up, put in the refrigerator and use first.

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

See these links for helpful canning equipment from Walmart:

**Have fun making apple butter and let me know if you make some!


Linked to The Common Room, Life in a ShoeSmockity Frocks, and Raising Olives.


Fox Hollow Cottage

(contains affiliate links)

Meals for 7/14 – 7/20, 2012

I’m going to start putting my weekly meal list here to see if I can simplify my life a bit.  Then, I’ll be able to come back here in future and not think about it again!

Meals for 7/14 – 7/20, 2012

Saturday:  Poppyseed Kabobs

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup each of zucchini, red bell peppers, not-too-ripe peaches, mushrooms, onions

half bottle of Kraft Signature Collection Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Cut chicken and veggies into kabob sizes.  Marinate in the dressing for half a day or so.  Cook on the grill.

(Grocery list:  chicken breasts, zucchini, red peppers, peaches, mushrooms, onions, Poppyseed Dressing)

Sunday:  Kids-hot dogs, Mom and Dad go out

Monday:  French Dip Sandwiches

Put a chuck roast  in the crockpot.  Sprinkle a packet of Italian salad dressing mix over it, pour a cup of beef broth over the dressing mix, and cook about 5 hrs on high or all day on low.  Shred the meat and mound the meat on a hoagie roll. Put provolone cheese on top, and put under broiler just long enough to melt the cheese.  Take the broth left from the roast and serve as dip for the sandwiches.  If you like, use a fat separator to have a less fatty juice.

Oven Fries


Olive oil

chili powder



Cut the potatoes into wedges.  In a large bowl, whisk 3 T. olive oil with 2 t. chili powder and salt/pepper to taste.  Add potatoes; toss to coat.  Put on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes.

(Grocery list:  chuck roast, Italian salad dressing mix, Better Than Bouillion Beef Broth paste, rolls, provolone cheese, potatoes, chili powder, olive oil)

Tuesday:  Chicken and Potato dish

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  See pictures for the recipe prep here.

Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8-10 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes  (I leave the skin on)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. freshly ground pepper
1 TBS. paprika
2 TBS. garlic powder
6 TBS. hot sauce

2 c. shredded cheese
1 c. crumbled bacon
1 c diced green onion

Preheat oven to 500F.  In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, & hot sauce.  Add the cubed potatoes and stir to coat.  Carefully scoop the potatoes into a cooking spray coated baking dish, leaving behind as much of the olive oil/hot sauce mix as possible.  Bake the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and crispy & browned on the outside.  While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the leftover olive oil/hot sauce mix and stir to coat.  Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 400F.  Top the cooked potatoes with the raw marinated chicken.  In a bowl mix together the cheese, bacon & green onion and top the raw chicken with the cheese mix.  Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is bubbly delicious.

(Grocery list:  2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 8-10 medium potatoes, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, hot sauce, shredded cheese, bacon, green onion)

Wednesday:  Something from the freezer

Thursday:  Baked Potatoes or Leftovers

Friday:  Pizza (take out)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches- Pinterest Challenge

Last night I made these yummy Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, that I originally saw on Pinterest.  I used my husband’s wonderful chocolate chip cookie recipe.

This post is linked up to the Pinterest Challenge.

Pinterest Challenge


New Quizno’s Coupons!

Get Free Small Sub with purchase of any sub of equal or greater value and a large Fountain Drink.
$1 Off a Regular create your own steak or Chicken Sub or $2 Off a Large create your own steak or Chicken Sub
$1 Off a Regular create Sub or Large Salad, or $2 Off a Large Sub


(contains affiliate links)

Food on the Table–Free Life Membership!

If you missed this last time, you have another chance–but hurry, before it’s gone again.

Food on the Table matches recipes/ grocery lists with the grocery store sales of the week!  It’s a wonderful way to get organized for evening mealtimes–and we know how important those sit-down times are for our kids’ development.  They even have ways of narrowing down recipes for gluten-free, vegetarian, low-carb, low-fat, low-sodium, or specific ingredients.  It’s very handy!

So, you can sign up to get a free membership (3 meals a week) for life using the link above and the promo code:   SPRINGFREE


(contains affiliate links)

What’s going on Today?

Well, I have slept through the night (7 hours in a row) the last TWO nights!  I don’t think that has happened in years!  Of course, I’m still so sleep-deprived that I don’t feel any better yet, but maybe if the trend continues. . . .  I’ve felt like I’ve been living in a cloud for so long, it’s hard to remember what it’s like to be clear-headed.  I’m going to try Claritan to help with my allergies–got the doctor’s approval yesterday.  Seven 1/2 weeks until baby’s due date!  Oh, and I really need to exercise today, too.

Today is a pretty easy day, as far as not having too much going on outside the house.  We only have soccer practice this afternoon (for the five oldest) and only if it doesn’t rain.

I’ve decided to try a week of Pinterest-Inspired recipes.  I worked on the menu and grocery list this morning and my wonderful husband is now at the store! Last night we had take out pizza, but for dessert we had Crock-Pot Lava cake.  I tried it with Sucanat instead of brown sugar this time, but it still tasted too “molassasy” for me.  I might see if it works with white sugar next time.

Here are the recipes for the next week, yes a lot are with the crock-pot!:

Tonight: Crock-pot Chicken Parmesan with asparagus and Andes Mint Cookies

Sunday:  Snicker-doodles for after the kids’ piano recital.  Crock-pot Steak Burritos for dinner

Monday:  Eggs and toast (easy, since Dad’s not here.  Bible Study Fellowship night.)

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Taco Casserole

Thursday:  Crock-pot baked potatoes (easy, swim lessons evening)

Friday:  Homemade Pizza–garlic bread pizza crust

Let me know if you need an invite to Pinterest so you can see these recipes!

This morning I baked bread.  It’s been a while since I got behind on my wheat order.  But I picked up 100 pounds of wheat berries yesterday, so we’re set now!  The kids did their usual morning chores, plus a 15-minute extra Saturday chore (which must be completed before they’re allowed to use any electronic devices.)  The older 2 boys vacuumed the first floor.  The older 2 girls each cleaned a bathroom.  The younger boy and girl “cleaned” the basement.  :)  I’m planning on doing a post on our chores soon.  I also offered a couple of pay jobs this morning.  My 2nd son cleaned out the refrigerator.  Yeah!  I hate doing that!  And my oldest is at this moment cleaning out and vacuuming our big van.

Soon, I’m going to try to head upstairs to sew.  I’m working on my niece’s butterfly quilt and need to finish our picnic quilt, too.

There’s a special price ($4.99) on this GREAT e-book again–until Wednesday April 18!   It’s called 4 Moms 35+ Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions.  On Wednesday, the book will be sold only at the full price of $7.99, until further notice–so be sure to get it now! Use the code “BIGSALE”.

This 195-page e-book is a huge resource!  And it’s funny!

Here are the chapter titles, and each of the four moms answer these questions:

How do you get your family to church on time?

How do you teach children to be still and quiet in church?

How do you prepare children to be around unbelieving

How do you keep things fair for all your children?

How do you keep your patience in the midst of chaos?

How do you manage outings with only little ones?

Do you ever feel discouraged or overwhelmed?

How do you make sure your children get enough individual

Naps: How important are they? How do you make them

How do you find time for projects that need to be done,
require focused attention and which the children can’t help

How do you teach your children to do chores?

How do you teach children to be diligent?

Which parenting style is best?

How do you teach your children about the birds and the

How do you deal with sibling squabbles?

The ebook also contains a master chore list of age appropriate chores, and there are two original printables.

Click here to visit 4 Moms 35 Kids to learn more about the book and to purchase it.  Remember the code BIGSALE!

(Contains affiliate links.)

Spinach-Artichoke Dip recipe

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

1 can marinated artichoke hearts

1 pkg (9-11 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 garlic clove, pressed

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Coursely chop artichokes.  Mix it with spinach, mayo, and sour cream.  Add pressed garlic and Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Spoon into oven-safe baking dish and bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.  Serve with chips, pita bread, crackers, or raw veggies!


Roasted Garlic & Black Olive Hummus

Roasted Garlic & Black Olive Hummus

From a friend at church:
In 375 degree oven, roast 5-6 cloves garlic for 15-20 minutes, or until soft.  Cool and peel garlic and place in a bowl with 2 cans garbanzo beans (drained) and 1 can black olives (drained),  1/4 cup olive oil, 1 to 1 1/2 t cumin, 2T lemon juice and salt to taste, mix together.  Puree in batches in blender or food processor.  Then mix all together again and serve chilled.



A friend of mine just shared a neat way to prepare quinoa for breakfast.  So, we had this yesterday.  These are my friend’s ideas:

To soak the quinoa (quinoa, BTW, should always be soaked because it contains antinutrients, and soaking for a period of time neutralizes these) –
The evening before, put your quinoa in a pot, cover with warm water  ( I usually put in enough water to be about a half inch over the quinoa), then stir in  3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or buttermilk.  Cover the pot, and let sit overnight at least 12 hours.   Sometimes, I have soaked mine for 2 days!  I just let the pot sit at the back of the stove.
In the morning, I drain and rinse it, and then cover it with water again and put on the stove, bring to a boil, cover it and then turn it to a simmer until the water is gone, stirring it every once in a while when it is cooking.
Once it is cooked, you can add anything you like to it.  I happen to LOVE peanut butter quinoa, so I will stir in about 3 tablespoons butter and add about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of peanut butter (you could add more or less, depending on taste).  I put it in my bowl, and then sweeten it with about a tablespoon raw honey, and add a dash of salt.  I top it all off with a dollop of whipped cream, and sometimes add toasted coconut flakes or crumble pecans on the top.  YUM!  I am getting hungry thinking about it!   Very filling breakfast – you won’t be hungry for a while.  Also, quinoa is a good source of protein.
You could leave the peanut butter out of it, and serve it with cream or milk.  You could sweeten it with maple syrup, or maple sugar.  You could put fruit on it – berries, bananas, etc.  Actually peanut butter banana quinoa sounds delicious.  I haven’t made it, but will have to try it!   You could also swirl some kind of fruit preserves in it, like rasberry or cherry.
You can do all of the above with oatmeal.  Oatmeal should also be soaked overnight.  I LOVE oatmeal soaked in buttermilk, it gives it such a good flavor.

Do you have a great way to serve quinoa?  Please share in the comments!



Chicken Taco Filling in Crockpot

Chicken Taco Filling in Crockpot

1 cup chicken broth

3 T. taco seasoning mix (see recipe here)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Dissolve seasonings in the broth inside the crockpot.  Place chicken in.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Good in tacos, on chips for nachos, etc.

Taco Seasoning Mix

A few years ago I discovered that all the taco seasoning mixes I could find had MSG in them.  So, I started making my own.  This is really good.  I keep it in a plastic container with a tight seal.

Taco Seasoning Mix

4 T. dried minced onion

2 T. chili powder

2 t. paprika

2 t. red pepper flakes

1 1/2 t. dried oregano

4 t. salt

1 T. cornstarch

1 T. dried minced garlic

3 t. cumin

Mix together well and store in a container.  Add 2 T. and 3/4 cup water per pound of ground beef.  (For tacos, brown the beef.  Drain off fat.  Add 2 T. mix and 3/4 cup water–or less–per pound of ground beef.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.)


About 2 pounds ground beef
2 onions, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. chili powder
1 1/2 T. dried parsley flakes
salt and pepper
2 large cans kidney beans
1 large can chili beans
12 oz. can tomato paste
29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 large can diced tomatoes (I use ones that are frozen from my garden.)

Brown beef with onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; drain.  Add all ingredients to a large crock-pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  My mother-in-law discovered that the celery won’t cook as fast after the tomatoes are added, so you may want to wait until they’re done before adding the tomato.

After it cools, I fill up several large freezer baggies and lay them flat in the freezer for future meals!