Simple & Savory Homemade Applesauce (Recipe)

With the Fall season, comes apple season!  And we all know there are innumerable wonderful and delicious things, that can be made with apples!
They really are a fruit of so many gifts. But some recipes take a lot more ambition, than others!
If you just want to enjoy the simplicity and goodness of apples, while still having a great celebration happening in your mouth, than this applesauce recipe is for you!
Applesauce is also a versatile food, that can be used in so many different ways. We’ll talk about there here, too.



  • 4-6 pounds Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Cut Into 8 Slices
  • 1 cup Water
  • Juice Of 1 Lemon (or 6 shakes of Lemon Essential Oil)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon or Cassia, More Or Less To Taste

(*Optional Ingredients: Nutmeg, Maple Syrup, Allspice, Butter)

It’s This Simple:

1. First, we always recommend you begin with washed, organic apples, if possible.
What kind of apples? That’s up to you! But varieties of the sweet and soft kind, are best when making applesauce. In this recipe, we used all McIntosh apples, and so can attest to the goodness of an applesauce made with that variety!  But [Read more…]

Stuffed Pepper Soup – a Recipe

 Winter has been brutal and long  here this year!  Multiple snowstorms right on top of each other, and bitter cold temperatures more days than not.
It’s our least favorite season, but we always make the most of it, and keep our eyes on spring!

There’s a couple of treasured things that come with this season that really help get us through:
 a constant roaring cozy fire, and delicious hot comfort food! There is nothing like a hot bowl of something, to warm you from the inside, out.  Is there?

 Well today I’m going to share with you a new a great recipe.  I don’t know where I even got it. I’ve had it printed out in my recipe folder, and we’ve enjoyed it a couple of time now. We’re about ready to make it again!

If you even ‘like’ Stuffed Peppers, you just might ‘love’ . . . . . .

Stuffed Pepper Soup!

1 lb of ground beef (we only use organic/grass fed)
1 small onion
1 large bell pepper; diced
1 can (29 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 (10 oz.) can tomato soup (or tomato sauce)
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth (or beef broth)
2 c. cooked rice
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste
Shredded cheese;  topping


1. In a large pot, brown and crumble ground beef along with diced green peppers, and onion over medium high heat.
2. When cooked, drain excess grease from beef mixture.
3. Put beef back into pot.
4. Add in diced tomatoes.
5. Add in chicken broth, (or beef broth if using that).
6. Give it all a good stir. Then add in rice.
7. Stir again.
8. Then add seasonings: sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. (To taste.)

Cover and let simmer on low-medium heat for about 30 minutes to let the flavors get to know each other. :) The longer they sit together, the better the soup is. So consider making it one day, refrigerating, and serving the next day. Or….just have leftovers the next day, and you’ll find it’s even better!

You might want to Pin this one. 😉
Enjoy, and keep warm!
– Laura

Chicken and Salsa / Super Simple, Super Delicious


I’m about to rave about this meal, and I have countless reasons why.  It’s been a favorite of our family’s for quite some time now.  We all really love it.  When we have a very busy scheduled day, this is most always what I plan for supper, because it’s that easy and fast, to prep any of it.  Like, ridiculous. Especially for the amazingly delicious meal that it is.  It can actually be made and ready in 2 to 2-1/2 hours cooked on high, if you’d like. Or, you can let it slow cook all day. Either way, it’s super quick, easy prep-work, and pretty much ready to eat when you are.  

Here’s a few other reason why I love it:  You don’t have to handle raw chicken at all!  I don’t know about you, but I’m just not particularly fond of touching raw chicken.  I will, and I’m not real freaked out. But I’d rather not if I don’t have to. And with this meal, I don’t have to!  It  is sooooooo good, and it’s so healthy too!
It has 4 out of the 5 food groups in my book:  protein, vegetables, grain, and dairy.

You need a slow cooker of some kind. So I hope you have one.

This is the slow cooker we have. It’s a GE 6 Qt. Digital Slow Cooker, and I LOVE it. It holds enough to cook at least 2+ full meals for our family of 6. 
The container lifts right out of the heating element, to be put on the table, and it’s super easy to clean as well.

01_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals So many different bursting flavors, with every bite.

Let me show you how easy this is to make.   Even the ingredients are minimal.
02_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals Chicken breasts, a jar of salsa, brown rice, and shredded cheese.

03_individually-packaged-chicken-breasts The pre-packaged chicken is our trick.  There are 2 breasts in each wrapper. Just cut open the end of each package with scissors, drain the excess water, and dump the chicken into the slow cooker pot. We make up to 8 breasts at a time, for a batch that last for at least 2 family (of 6) meals, and usually more still left over. The 2 breasts in each wrapper are sometimes attached to each other, so I just use a fork and make sure they are all open and spread well in the pot.

04_salsa-jar Then you just cover all of the chicken in salsa!
Now, just because I have my little ways of doing things, I actually put a little layer of salsa all over the bottom of the pot first, put in the chicken, and then pour the rest of the salsa over the top.
But that’s it!

Then I set the slow cooker.  I can set it to low, and let it cook for 5-6 hours or whatever. Or if it’s a last minute idea, the chicken will pretty much cook in 2 or 2-1/2 hours on high. 
Now here’s an extra step that I personally do, because I want the chicken as flavorful as possible:  As soon as all of the chicken is cooked (it is so tender, it’s crazy), I take each cooked breast out at a time, cut it into chunks on a plate, and scrape it back in the pot.  Repeating for each breast until it’s all cut up.  Leaving it all simmering in there with the salsa just adds that much more tastiness.

We like to have this chicken and salsa over brown rice. (It’s healthier than white. We’re all about whole grains around here.) So here’s another speedy trick  . . .
05_boil-in-a-bag-rice Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice, in 10 minutes. No measuring!  We need 2 bags.
But gosh….could it be any easier? Take the bags of cooked rice out of the water, let drain for a sec, snip off the top, and dump it in a bowl. Done!

06_shredded-cheese At the table, we each just sprinkle some cheese on top.  Because it’s just all so good together.

07_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals The chicken comes out so unbelievably tender, and so tasty with the salsa juices and bits of salsa vegetables. It’s perfect on top brown rice.
And the sprinkle of cheese on top makes a fabulous meal, even better.

I never really feel like I put any time worth mentioning, into making supper, when I make this meal.
And yet, we’re all around the table eating delicious food together, and talking about how good it is.
08_slow-cooker-chicken-salsa-rice-easy-crockpot-meals   Try it on your family, and let us know what the reviews are.
We’ll be surprised if you all don’t love it too.

* * * * * *

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Recipe for Apple Pie Pops

 If you only knew the recipes I see in a day, a week, a month – that I have every intention of making!  I get to really making some, but most not, simply because there is really only so much time in a day, and so much food we can eat in it!  Granted some (little) people (my kids and husband), eat way more than others (myself.)  I actually am one of those with big eyes. I can be starving, and then eat 2 crackers, and I’m good. My kids cannot believe how little I eat. I just get full easy. Still, I consider myself a food lover, if only in my head. I love to find recipes, plan great food for my family, and photograph it too. And I really do enjoy eating. I’m just done sooner than everyone else.

Anyway, I first saw these pie pops almost 2 years ago at Bakerella‘s site.  I believe it was not even a new post when I had stumbled upon it. As soon as I saw them that first time, I immediately fell smitten.  She had seen them at yet another’s site. Since then I have seen them 100 times, all over the place.  Of course, you can make these pie pops with any kind of pie filling you’d like. But I have a particular fondness for apple pies, so that’s what I was planning to make.  We do a lot of baking in the Fall, so last year got away before we made them. But not this year! This past weekend we finally made them, as well as some cute cookies I’ll be sharing soon too!

So although these are not my idea, I thought I’d share how we made our Apple Pie Pops.

For any apple filling for baked goods, you want to start with good, firm apples, and a mix of the tart and sweet variety. Whether they are evenly mixed, or a little more of the sweet or tart, is all up to your preference.  I chose to keep it even, and used Granny Smiths (tart) and Golden Delicious (sweet).

One of the greatest parts of making any baked goods that call for apples, is using my Aunt Dot’s apple peeler-corer-slicer.  The peeler part actually needs to be replaced, but we have not been able to find it yet.  But that’s alright – so we peel the apples by hand for now, or forever. We still feel so blessed to have this antique of my beloved aunt’s, that is such a part of my most fondest childhood memories.

But I’ll admit, it’s damn handy!

Apple Pie Filling Recipe

6 C. peeled *apples, chopped small, and evenly sized as possible
3/4 C. sugar
2 T. all purpose flour
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. nutmeg (Optional. I don’t like it.)
1 T. lemon juice

*Reminder: Use a mix of sweet and tart firm apples.

Mix it all up well in a bowl.

Pie Crust Dough: You can make your own, or use store-bought ready pie crust, such as Pillsbury.
On a flour dusted surface, roll out your dough.  If you are using ready pie crust that is already round, remember that the size of the circle of dough does not matter for our purpose with pie pops, as it would for a pie dish. So you can roll it out larger and thinner than as it comes, and get more out of it. (We wish we did roll ours out thinner, and will next time. I’ll tell you about that at the end.)

Use a scalloped or plain circle cutter, or any other manageable shape that you would like, that is about 2 inches in diameter.  I like the idea of our pops looking like real little pies, but using shapes like an apple, or a maple leaf, or a pumpkin, etc., would also be cute.  Cut your shapes out of your crust dough as closely as possible, to get as many out of your dough as you can. Weed out the scraps of dough, re-roll, and use again. (As seen 2 photos up.)

Put a good dollop (what a great word…dollop..) of apple filling in the center of half of all of your cut dough shapes, because you’ll need the other half as tops, of course. You want to put as much as possible on there, but remembering you’ll need to cover it with the other dough circles, and be able to seal it. Too much apple filling will be a problem, and too little will just be….sad.

Transfer your pie bottoms with the filling onto a greased or sprayed cookie sheet.
If it easier for you, you can transfer the dough shapes first, and then put the filling on.

Also add your pop sticks. These are found in the candy making aisle of the craft stores. Now, I have seen that some cover their sticks with aluminum foil, to prevent them from burning. That is too tedious for me, and I was sure they wouldn’t burn anyway, and they didn’t, except where they got a little juice on them. No biggie, and still not worth covering them in foil. But you do what you want!

You may want to pre-heat you oven at this point, to 375°

 Now put on your tops. We had a little dish of water, just to dip one finger in, and wet the under-edge of the top all the way around, just to help it stick the bottom better. It also helps to stretch the top piece out bigger, to better fit over your dollop : ) of apple filling.
To make the wavy edge like a real pie, just cut off the end of a pop stick, and use it to press grooves all the way around each pie. This is a a bit tedious too, but one that is worth it to me!

Lastly, just brush each pie pop top with a little egg white, and if you wish, sprinkle with a bit of sugar for sparkle. The egg whites really help the pie crust kind of blister and look nice.

When the oven is up to temperature, you can put your pie pops in for 12-15 minutes.

How’s that for a high cute factor?
We bagged each one, and tied them closed with a little red stitched ribbon. Presentation is everything, Folks!

As mentioned earlier, we did not roll out our dough as thin as we will next time. Our pops seemed to be a little more crust, and a little less apple filling than we would have liked. We must remember the filling soaks in just a bit, and the dough really puffs as it bakes into pie crust. Nonetheless, they were oh so good, and next time they’ll be perfect. : )

There are SO many Fall-time apple treats to enjoy – Apple Pie Pops, big Apple Pies, Apple Crisp, Caramel Apples, Apple Sauce, Apple Cake, Apple Cider…’s endless, and there are no complaints here! My favorites are Apple Crisp and Apple Pie, both with Vanilla Ice Cream, please.
Do you eat more apples this time of year? What are your favorite apple or Fall treats?


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Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Summer Salad

 When it is summertime, I want meals that are as simple and quick to make as possible. If we don’t have a tight schedule that day, then we’ve spent the day involved in some project or other. Especially on weekends, when Michael is home too. Usually it’s been it’s blazing hot out all day too, being summertime and all. And let’s face it, the heat and humidity really has a way of draining anyone’s energy and ambition that much more. 

That’s exactly how I happened to come up with this simplest of salads. Dinner was not even planned, never mind started!  Michael threw some steaks on the grill, and I just grabbed the vegetables we brought in from the garden that day, off of the counter, and threw together a cold side dish. I was not going for anything grand.  And anyway, my kids pop cherry tomatoes in their mouth off of the vine, and they love cucumber spears, with or without a dash of pepper.

The big surprise was that it was far more delicious than I had even begun to anticipate, and it was the talk of dinnertime too.

Long term, it’s a fabulous dish for the whole family to love this much for another reason: 
We need to have a variety of options, to use the abundance of certain vegetables we get out of our garden almost daily, in the summertime.

Here’s one day’s picking, carried in my skirt. 

It’s likely that the next day will harvest about same amount, ready for picking, again.
Especially given that Olivia has her own garden this year, too, and is also growing cherry tomatoes.

She’s growing the cucumbers alone, but she shares with her siblings at lunch sometimes, or for a snack, and she’s happy to offer one for our dinner anytime, as well. 

Those 2 vegetables, were the simple main staples for this recipe:

Quartered Cherry Tomatoes.
Cucumber, quartered the long way, and then chopped.

TIP: I always stripe my cucumbers with the peeler. It makes them a littler fancier looking, and even more enjoyable.

Throw in a dash of kosher salt, and drizzle all over with Balsamic Vinegar Salad Dressing.  We also add black pepper, because we love it, and put it on just about everything. The dressing, as opposed to straight up balsamic vinegar, has all kinds of little bits of seasoning goodness already in it.  Give it a quick toss.  I like to let it marinate just like that for a few minutes.

When it’s time for dinner, I throw some shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

It’s done.  Does it sound plain, to you? Well I’ll tell you what . . . . . .

It’s simple all right, but it’s sure not plain tasting!  The tang of the Balsamic Vinegar Dressing, really brings out the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes.  The combination of the two compliments each other so well. The fresh cucumber, and the soft and subtle flavor of the cheese adds a new texture, and another surprise taste.

We have also used this salad, rolled up in a tortilla, with grilled chopped chicken. Also simple, quick, and delicious.

This is what summer tastes like.

It’s that simple.

What is your simplest summer dish?