Roasted Autumn Vegetables

Yesterday I made the most delicious shredded beef in the slow cooker.  I worked all day knowing I had that meal ready to go.  When it was almost time for dinner, I slid our homemade buns into the oven and realized I didn’t have a side dish.  Not one. I poked around in the freezer and the fridge and saw we had frozen brussels sprouts, half a butternut squash, a bag of radishes, and a bag of baby carrots.

Roasted Winter Vegetables before

I threw them all together in a pan–the colors were glorious! Then drizzled and tossed with oil.  Sprinkled and tossed with a tsp of sea salt, and cooked for an hour at 400 degrees.

Roaste winter vegetables

Gorgeous right?  The only problem was last minute and bake for an hour don’t go together well.  I let the family eat the roast beef sandwiches and some canned apple slices and by the time the veggies were ready, they weren’t hungry enough to be adventurous.Roasted Winter Vegetables After 2

Stage 3 of my plan to make my family Butternut Squash lovers backfired, but it was really delicious.  I’m super pumped to have leftovers.

The recipe is simple, trim and cut veggies into bite sized pieces, toss with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 (up to 450 if not in glass) for an hour or until fork tender and golden.  For best results stir after 30 minutes.  Serve while your family is still famished–unless they already know that gorgeous food can be delicious too.

Butternut Squash Fritters

Butternut Squash Fritters 5

Remember yesterday when I told you I have a secret plan to make my kids like squash?  This is level 2.

We enjoyed these fritters (inspiration here) during last Sunday’s lunch with our oven baked chicken, but we kicked it up a notch in the evening by warming them back up in a skillet and melting cheese on the top.  We tried Monterey Jack which was good but sharp cheddar would have been even better. Next time I plan to stir cheddar right into the batter.  It might get crisp in the areas where the cheddar hits the griddle—there’s nothing wrong with that.

Butternut Squash Fritters 2

There’s quite a bit of shredding involved in these.  I decided that it was worth the hassle to get out the kitchen aid shredder attachment to do these.  I was so right.  It shredded up my giant butternut squash in less than 5 minutes.  If you try this by hand it will count as aerobic exercise.Butternut Squash fritters
If you don’t have an electric shredder (or food processor) then grab the kid who most recently used the word, “bored.”  Or the one who was asked to sweep the floor and then walked off with the chairs still pushed against the wall and the broom lying on the floor. He will love to shred the squash for you.  So will the one who made a sandwich and left the mayo on the counter with the knife still in it.

Butternut Squash fritters

I didn’t have any trouble peeling my squash.  The hardest part was cutting it open.  I grabbed the longest, widest knife I had and that helped.  My regular vegetable peeler took the skin right off.  I’ve heard if your peeler is on the dull side, it could be more challenging.  Some have success stabbing the squash with a fork a few times, then microwaving it whole for 3 minutes.  That softens the skin without cooking the meat.

Butternut Squash Fritters

5 cups shredded butternut squash (deseeded and peeled but still raw)

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup flour (or 1/2 cup THM baking mix)

coconut oil for frying

Place your squash in a mixing bowl and sprinkle all over with salt.  Beat in eggs, then stir in flour.  Warm a griddle or frying pan and melt a little bit of coconut oil in the pan.  Use a level ice cream scoop to drop batter onto the hot pan and flatten with the back of your flipper.  Cook like pancakes letting the fritter cook halfway through and get toasty brown before flipping.  Then flip and cook the other side.

Butternut Squash Fritters 3

You know what else (besides cheese) would make these yummy?  Bacon. I’ve tried to think of things that bacon wouldn’t make better….like apple pie, pancakes, or ice cream.  Then I had to take it back, bacon would make those things better….



Butternut Squash Chili

Butternut Squash Chili

I love Chili and all things beans, but sometimes they don’t love me.  And beans never love my teenage son.

Butternut Chili Con Carne 2

With butternut squash we can have a nice thick beanless chili without spending a fortune on extra meat. Originally I planned to cut the squash into bite sized squares for a nice texture similar to beans.  Then I remembered my kids aren’t big fans of squash…yet.   I have all sorts of secret plans to turn them into squash fans, mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha.  It’s a work in progress.

Butternut Chil Con Carne 3

I sauteed the squash in a skillet with a little coconut oil and chopped onion, then pureed it in a blender with a can of broth.  When I stirred it into the crushed tomatoes, the squash and onion disappeared.  Chili powder’s dark color made the camouflage complete.

Butternut quash’s mildly sweet flavor complements the spicy seasonings perfectly.  The kids gobbled this up.  It’s a hearty, comforting autumn meal that is lower carb and won’t cause bloating or other gastric distress.

Butternut Chili Con Carne

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 onion, diced

1 can, 15 oz beef or chicken broth  (or 2 cups homemade, cool in temperature)

2 lbs ground beef or turkey, browned and drained

1 can, 28 oz crushed tomatoes

3 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute squash with onion in a little bit of coconut oil until fork tender, about 15 minutes.  Add to a blender or food processor with broth.  Puree.  (You can leave it whole if you like the texture.)  Combine everything in a stock pot and warm through.  The longer it simmers the better the flavors will meld.  This can be stirred together in the morning and held in a slow cooker on low until dinner.

Topping ideas: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped chives, chopped tomatoes, olives, crushed tortilla chips, oyster crackers….

1/8th of the recipe prepared with 93% lean ground beef = 318 calories, 9g fat, 19 net carbs, and 34 grams of protein

Mini Chicken Pot Impossible Pies

Food cooked in a muffin tin is adorable (and cooks more quickly than big pans of things.)  If you are packing food for lunches, muffin tin sized food fits in thermoses (like this one) for a hot lunch on the go.  Just pack the food while it’s super hot into preheated containers and it will keep hot for around 3 hours.

Mini Chicken Pot Impossible Pie

I love this recipe, because you can use up little bits of leftovers if you have them.  Less than a serving of peas? No problem.  A few cooked carrots?  Toss them in.  You can use beef instead, or whatever you have on hand.  Here’s the recipe; tweak at will.

1 lb of chicken breast, cooked and diced

1 cup of shredded cheese, Swiss or Cheddar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup baking mix or self-rising flour

2 cups vegetables (chopped broccoli, peas, carrots, corn–whatever you like in fine bits)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spritz muffin cups with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a level ice cream scoop to fill muffin tins. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Do you ever bake non-muffin things in muffin tins?  What are your favorites?


Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

These tender rolls are light, delicious and child approved.  Mildly sweet, these rolls are the perfect compliment to a Thanksgiving feast (or an autumn after school snack.)pumpkin dinner rolls 2

pumpkin dinner rolls pumpkin butter and whey

Melting the butter and pumpkin together.

pumpkin dinner rolls eggs and brown sugar

Beating eggs and brown sugar together.

pumpkin dinner rolls stir in yeast

Adding the yeast

pumpkin dinner rolls pulling away from the sides

Beating in flour until the dough pulls away from the sizes and holds some shape.  I like to keep it really soft.  You might not need all the flour.  Just add it 1 cup at a time and stop when the dough looks like this.

pumpkin dinner rolls ready to rise

Ready for the first rise.  I like to coat my dough in olive oil to keep it from drying out.  Then cover the bowl with a tea towel.

pumpkin dinner rolls first rise

Ready to form into rolls.  This dough is super forgiving.  I started it at 11 am and it should have been ready to form at 12, but I didn’t have time to get to it until 4pm.  It was still ok.

pumpkin dinner rolls divide into 2 balls

Divide into 2 ballspumpkin dinner rolls cut into wedges

Roll each ball into a circle and cut into triangles.  I did 12 for big rolls.  16 works too.

pumpkin dinner rolls formed

Roll them up like canned crescent rolls.  (Kids like this part.)pumpkin dinner rolls second rise What they look like after rising for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour (I used hard white wheat)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour


  1. In a microwave safe bowl combine pumpkin, milk and butter. Cook on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Beat mixture with a whisk until smooth, then beat in eggs and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. In your mixer bowl, combine both flours, spices, yeast and salt. With the dough hook running, slowly pour in pumpkin mixture, beating until a soft dough forms. (Add additional flour or water if needed.) Allow the machine to knead the dough for 6-8 minutes. Lightly oil the dough and let rest for 1 hour or until doubled.
  3. Punch down dough and divide into 2 balls. Roll each27 ball into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick. Use a table knife to cut the circle into 16 wedges. Starting at the fat end roll each wedge into a crescent. Place on greased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Let rest uncovered until doubled, about an hour. Bake rolls at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden on the top. Serve with pumpkin butter if desired.
  4. Each roll has 145 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of fiber.



Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

broccoli cauliflower salad

This is my favorite salad.  It’s the fancy enough for potlucks or having company over, but it’s easy enough for weeknight dinners.  It keeps for several days and the leftovers pack nicely for lunch.  Add a grilled chicken breast or salmon filet on the side for a complete meal.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad


  • 2 broccoli crowns, chopped into bite sized florets
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (or 6 Tbs real bacon crumbles)
  • 6 green onions, sliced (Or 1 cup diced red onion)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (soaked in warm water to plump and then drained)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds or sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup Olive Oil Mayo (or part plain Greek Yogurt)
  • 2 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
  • 4 packets truvia (or 1/4 cup sugar or honey)
  • Pink Himalayan Salt and Fresh black pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl combine broccoli, cauliflower, bacon crumbles, raisins, onion, and almonds or sunflower seeds.
  2. Beat together mayo, vinegar, sweetener and salt and pepper. Stir into salad. Serve right away or chill until serving.
We are having a busy week.  My mom decided to have a garage sale at her home and today was opening day.  It’s been 10 years since she had one there, but she had enough stuff it was be easier than hauling it to another sale location.  I filled my 15 passenger van twice and took it over, and I committed to being there as much as I can to help her.  I still have 2 rooms in my house to declutter, so I’ll be hosting my own sale again in the spring.

I did something crazy yesterday.  I called our drywall guy and hired him for Monday, November 16th to do a job I haven’t prepped yet.  That’s enough to light a fire under me!  I’m hoping to earn enough at this garage sale to pay him.  And to carve out 12 hours to prep the job for him.

Brandon and Grant's Room Gray rugby stripe

If you saw it on Facebook over the summer, I’ve been making plans to redo our shared boy’s room.  The ceiling has water damage and popcorn texture.  I plan to scrape off the popcorn and have it professionally skim coated.  Then paint, hang curtains and fluff.  This is what I’m hoping it will look like.  The opposite side of the room will be an art/lego station with toy storage and display areas.  It feels like an overwhelming project, but the boys are anxious for me to get it done.  With holiday season coming, I’m not going to stress about doing it in a week or anything crazy like that.  We’ll just take it one step at a time.

So that’s a quick update on us.  What are you up to?




Beef Topped Bean Enchiladas

Beef Topped Bean Enchiladas

We had an unexpected death in the family last week. Darren’s Grandma was 92, but still living alone in her own home with her mind, sight and hearing sharp as a tack.  He lived with her during the summers after his family moved to Texas and again when he graduated from High School so he could farm. They were very close. I lived with her part of the time when I was student teaching and she taught me a lot of things about frugality, being a homemaker, wild edibles and frying mountain oysters.

Lest you think she was all sugar and spice, she was a person who told things as she saw them.  Every time she saw me she complained about my long hair, big earrings and tall heels. When I got pregnant with our 4th baby, she offered to teach me about birth control. I learned to smile and roll with it. If she didn’t care about me, she wouldn’t say a word.  It was her way of saying, “I love you.”

She had a deep faith and prayed poetically. When Darren and I had been married 2 years, her son died in a tragic car accent.  It was a serious time of grief for all of us.  She told me death was beautiful and not to be sad.  She had already buried her husband and oldest son.  She KNEW they were in the arms of Jesus.  During her service I kept hearing her voice say those words, “Death is beautiful.”  But I still miss her.

My oldest son was acting up in the car during the funeral procession to the gravesite, poking his siblings and making them scream. I told him, “Your grandmother is in a hearse 10 cars ahead of us.  Remember what we are doing here and what your frame of mind should be.”

My oldest, Heidi, chimed in, “Yeah if grandma were here right now, she’d whack you with her cane.”

He said, “If she were here right now, I wouldn’t dare.”

After the funeral Saturday we went to her house with all her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren (28!) and a few extended family.  The church brought over the funeral meal leftovers and we ate and visited just like we would have on Christmas day.  The only thing missing was her and we all felt it. It was a lovely day until it was time to leave and I realized it was probably the last gathering like that in her home.  The last time there would be fig Newtons in the jar put there by her own hands.  The memories flooded in as tears running down my face.  My first date with Darren was there, a whole day of learning to farm. Not long after she decided Darren was taking too long and offered me her wedding ring set so we could just go get married.  She didn’t see any point of big weddings or long engagements.  If you love each other, go make a life together. What’s so hard about that?

I had plans to finish Kids and Money month strong with some posts about Kids and Christmas spending, but it was just more important to be with family.  I’ll come back and visit the topic again in a few weeks, but first I want to get some recipes out there.  Too many times I’ve searched my own site for a favorite recipe to refresh my memory on some of the details and find it wasn’t there.  Beef Topped Bean Enchiladas 2

This recipe is my go to when life gets really busy.  It throws together in 15 minutes and then just has to heat through in the oven.  Every ingredient is available at Aldi making a very frugal main dish. Add a tossed salad for a complete meal or make it bigger with sides of Spanish rice, corn, and fruit.  If you are gluten free, grab some gluten free tortillas.  Low carb tortillas work great here too, for a THM S Meal (You can have up to 3 Tbs of refried beans in an S setting.)  You can also assemble the whole thing in a slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Beef Topped Bean Enchiladas

Beef Topped Bean Enchiladas


  • 1 jar, 24 oz salsa
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 10-8" flour tortillas
  • 1 can, 15 oz refried beans
  • 1 can, 15 oz black olives, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar, Colby, or Monterey Jack


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brown ground beef with onion and garlic, drain.
  3. Stir salsa into ground beef mixture. (If you have picky kids, puree the salsa in a blender first, and use onion powder instead of chopped onion.)
  4. Chop the olives and reserve 1/3 for topping.
  5. Divide refried beans, olives and 1/2 of the cheese cheese among tortillas and roll up. Place seam side down in a 9x13 casserole dish.
  6. Top with beef mixture and spread to cover the edges.
  7. Top with remaining olives and cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.


Homemade Pumpkin Bagels Video Tutorial

Homemade Pumpkin Bagels

Tee hee.  This video makes me giggle.  My family doesn’t quite get why it’s so funny, but they enjoy that I enjoy it.  When I watch the replay and Grant (4) dumps the pumpkin on the counter, I roll on the floor laughing and then back it up and watch it again.  Maybe because I was there for the original moment, trying to balance a camera and helping Grant with the cooking at the same time.  How the pumpkin on the counter shocked us both and I got the giggles, which I tried to hold in making weird background noise.  Grant, relieved that I wasn’t upset said, “We better clean that up.”   Which made me giggle all the more.

After we made quite a mess but got most of the stuff in the bowl, I said “What should we do now?”  I thought Grant would say, “Let’s clean up!”  but he said “SMILE.”  Which made me giggle all over again.

This boy is the joy of my days.  The sleepless nights, messes, tantrums, and battles are all worth it.  I had the option to spend this year in a classroom blessing other people’s children, while I earned money that my family needed.  I would have had to let someone else be with Grant during the day, and I just couldn’t.  It’s his last full year at home and I fought for my chance to be the one to clean up his messes and talk him down from the ledge of toddler insanity. It was selfish and selfless at the same time.  He needs me as much as I need him and there’s something priceless about that.

For those who prefer a written recipe here you go:

pumpkin bagels 009

Pumpkin Bagels

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine.  Set for the dough cycle.  When the cycle is ended, divide the dough into 10 balls.  Poke your finger through the center and make a large hole.  Let the bagels rise for an hour or until doubled. Pour 8 cups of water into a stock pot, boil bagels for 1 1/2 minutes, turning once.  Remove to a dish towel to drain.  Place bagels on a greased baking sheet.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on the top.  Cool on a wire rack.

Wild Rice Chicken Salad

wild rice chicken salad

This delicious salad is great for a main entree lunch. I first tasted it at a baby shower and begged for the recipe. I’ve adapted it for my own tastes and change the vegetables every time I make it to suit what’s affordable at the time.  I purchased everything but the rice and chicken at Aldi. (The chicken was from Costco and Wild Rice was from the bulk food store.)

1 scant cup dry wild rice

2 cups chicken broth

3-4 chicken breasts (about a pound)

garlic salt to taste

1 red bell pepper, diced (Green, yellow and orange can be used also.)

4 green onions, diced

1 cup diced carrots (or 1/2 cup shred)

1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 cups fresh chopped spinach

1-2 avocados, cubed

1/2 cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds

1/4 cup bacon crumbles

1 fresh lemon, juiced

2 packets Truvia or similar stevia product

salt to taste

In a saucepan or rice cooker, cook the wild rice in chicken broth until tender. Meanwhile sprinkle chicken breasts all over with garlic salt.  Grill for 7 minutes each in a personal table top grill (like this one.) Cool until cool enough to handle then cut into bite sized pieces.  Set aside.

Meanwhile chop all vegetables into bite sized pieces.  Combine all ingredients in a LARG bowl.  Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and toss in stevia and salt.  Serve right away.  Refrigerate leftovers. It will need an extra toss of lemon juice if it sits for very long.

If you limit the amount of avocado, bacon and almonds in your serving, this is a Trim Healthy Mama E.

IMG_1854 IMG_1856

Cream Soup Mix

homemade cream soup mix

Canned cream of “___” soup, how I love thee!  Let me count the ways.  You don’t curdle in the slow cooker. What kind of chemical wizardry allows this?  Any dish I pour you in, becomes an instant child favorite.  You are a time saving genius.  But alas, you carry a suitcase full of MSG headaches and I’m afraid what your chemical  wizardry will do to my insides.  We won’t part ways forever….I’m just saving you for special times. Read more