Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicken Burgers Packed with Hidden Veggies!

These were a HUGE hit today with my kids and the kids I nanny for.  The best part is they are packed with hidden veggies. My husband was home for lunch this afternoon and also thought they were delicious. :)

Adapted from Superfood for Babies & Children by: Annabel Karmel

1/2 cup washed and finely chopped white and light green parts of a leek
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless, chicken breast tenders, chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1 chicken stock cube, finely crumbled
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

All purpose flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
Bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

Meunster cheese slices

Saute leek, carrots, and zucchini in the 1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix with remaining raw ingredients.  Process in a food processor in batches.  Form into burgers (makes about 10 4-5" burgers) using flour coated hands.  Coat in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.  Saute in vegetable oil until golden and cooked through about 4-5 minutes per side.  Top with muenster cheese and put on a bun.  Serve with fries, some fresh fruit, or a small side salad.

Happy Free-ranging Hens

I haven't posted the happy news about how dog-chicken relations have improved at our house!  Last time I posted about our dogs and our chickens it was my 'Time to Lock the Nesting Box' post about our dog, Max, wedging himself through the nesting box and ending up inside the chicken coop.  A couple of months ago our dogs suddenly decided that the chickens were no longer fun and interesting and everyone has been able to peacefully co-exist in the yard since.  I snapped this picture of our happy free-ranging hens from my kitchen window the other night while cooking dinner.  I call them my 'mobile flowers.'  They are loving getting full access to the bugs, dirt, grass, and plants in our backyard and our vegetable garden.  We need to strategically place some nesting bins around the yard for them because right now we are finding eggs all over the place!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blueberry Pecan Streusel Muffins

My neighbor made me these AMAZING muffins and I had to steal the recipe from her.  I'll have to update this post later with the name of the book this recipe came from, something along the lines of '100 Best Muffin Recipes.'  These are, hands down, the best blueberry muffins I have ever had!

1 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter (softened)
1/2 C. Sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. milk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 Cup. Chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Cream butter and sugar together in stand mixer bowl.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Add flour alternately with milk.  Fold in blueberries.

Mix together streusel topping ingredients in separate bowl.

Line or grease muffin pan.  Fill cups 2/3 full with batter.  Top each with approx. 1 tsp. streusel topping.  Bake 20 minutes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Crafting for Health: Stringing Hazelwood & Amber Necklaces with Kids

My hazelwood and amber beads arrived last night!  Exciting!  The kids and I thoroughly enjoyed making "magic necklaces" out of hazelwood, amber, semi-precious stones, and Czech glass beads.  The "magic" part is that hazelwood and amber have numerous health benefits and are great for kids and adults alike.  You may have seen this type of necklace being sold as a "teething" necklace for infants but the benefits of hazelwood and amber reach far beyond infancy.  Out of one strand of 3mm baltic amber beads and 50 hazelwood pieces we strung necklaces for all the kids last night, including the one in-utero, and two bracelets. 
Here's what you need:
Hazelwood beads (
Baltic Amber beads (
Other accent beads (glass or semi-precious stones)
Sterling Silver clasps
Crimp beads (optional)
Crimping tool (optional)
100% Natural Silk beading cord

Stringing the necklace:  Place a crimp bead on your silk cord, then place one end of your clasp, loop the free end through the clasp and crimp bead and crimp shut to secure.  Or, just tie your clasp onto the end of your silk cord and trim the excess.  String your beads in whatever pattern you like and repeat the process either crimping or tying to secure the second half of your clasp on the opposite end.  For children's necklaces make them approximately 12.5-13.5 inches long.  For infant's 11.5-12.5 inches.
The branches of the hazelwood tree are known to neutralize acidity in the body when worn next to the skin.  This is especially useful in alleviating symptoms of teething, digestive upsets, and eczema in infants and children.  These wonderful beads can also aid in neutralizing a host of ailments related to acid imbalance in adults and children alike.  Including:
  • Skin problems (from acne to eczema)
  • Arthritis
  • Acid reflux
  • Digestive problems
  • Respiratory problems and infections
  • Ear Infections
  • Headaches
  • Muscular and nerve pains
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nervous disorders
Baltic Amber contains high concentrations of succinic acid, which naturally occurs in the body and has many health benefits.  It is a natural analgesic and has anti-inflammatory properties.  Well known as a teething aid for babies, amber also helps sooth other inflammatory-related health problems including:
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • and more...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Peter's Pickled Peppers

For those who don't know, my husband's name is Peter, and Peter has been obsessed with growing peppers this summer.  Every kind of pepper known to man, we have in our garden.  Of course there have been numerous jokes about Peter picking and pickling peppers throughout this process.  Well he did pick these, but I pickled them.  These are Peperoncini/Pepperoncini/Banana Peppers (usually yellow when jarred but ours ended up fully mature before I could pickle them and they still taste great!) and roasted red peppers.

This was my first experience canning/jarring and it was so easy!  We don't have a pressure canner yet.  I think I want to get one for tomato sauces and things like that but since I was just pickling these I thought water bath canning would be adequate.

The whole process was SO easy and I felt so proud of my little jars when I was done!  When all was said and done I think I had about 10 jars of peppers and it only took a few hours of my afternoon.  We've given a few jars away as gifts and so far the feedback has been great!

Here's the process:

Pickled Peperoncini:

You will need:
Canning jars/mason jars
A big pot-think spaghetti
Distilled White Vinegar
Kosher Salt
Bulb of garlic


  • Harvest a whole bunch of peperoncini (or purchase at your farmer's market!)
  • Slice them into rings and either de-seed or leave some or all seeds depending on how much heat your want
  • Boil your jars (I was using 1/2 pint jars) and lids in a pot full of water for about 15 minutes to sanitize
  • Remove jars and lids with tongs and set aside
  • Empty pot and fill with 1 part water and 3 parts distilled white vinegar, heat to boiling
  • Fill jars with peppers and add 1 large peeled clove garlic to each jar and a good sprinkling of kosher salt
  • Pour over hot vinegar mixture
  • Run a knife down the sides of the jar to release air bubbles
  • Secure lids tightly
  • Fill your pot with water again, enough to cover the jars
  • Gently lower filled jars into the water bath and bring to a boil
  • Process in boiling water for 15 minutes
  • Remove carefully and you're done!

Roasted Red Peppers:

You will need:

Canning jars/mason jars
Some kind of vinegar (white vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar can all be used)
Olive oil
Kosher Salt
Large Pot
Plastic or paper bag


  • Boil jars and lids for 15 minutes to sanitize
  • Remove jars and lids and set aside
  • Clean and dry your peppers
  • Place on a baking sheet and put under your broiler at 500 degrees F (or roast on an open flame)
  • Roast and rotate them until they are puffed up and BLACK all over-seriously
  • Place inside a plastic or paper bag and seal.  They now need to steam for awhile, at least an hour.
  • Once your peppers are done steaming (this will make removing the skins easier) take then out of the bag and carefully remove/peel skins over the sink and de-seed.  Try not to rinse them because it takes their flavor away.  Just rinse your hands frequently.
  • Place peppers into a clean bowl as you clean and de-seed them
  • Pour vinegar over the peppers in the bowl and toss them around
  • Salt with kosher salt and toss some more, salt again and toss again
  • Now pour a little vinegar into each jar
  • Add peppers and remaining pepper juice and vinegar from your bowl to the jars
  • Top jars off with olive oil and seal with lids
  • Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes 
  • Finito!  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pouring Your Own Beeswax Candles

I'm totally into making candles right now, it is so simple and fulfilling!  I love the idea that I am creating something from basic, natural materials that will bring light and warmth into our home.  Pure beeswax candles are quite expensive, so if that is what you are used to buying then you will probably save significantly by making them yourself.  The raw materials, however, are not cheap.  So, if you've been buying cheap candles made from synthetic materials then you might be spending more to make your own beeswax candles, but perhaps it will inspire you to know how beautiful, clean-burning, and sweet-smelling beeswax is.

Beeswax is a beautiful, natural material for candle-making it has it's own unique honey-like scent and color.  You can buy natural (yellow) beeswax or white beeswax.  The white beeswax may say that it is "bleached" but don't let this put you off.  The process for bleaching beeswax simply involves exposing thin sheets of wax to air, moisture, and sunlight.  I find it easiest to melt and use for candles and beauty products when bought in the pastille form.

You can mix white and yellow beeswax to achieve different shades of yellow or cream.  You can also add pure essential oils to lightly scent your candles, naturally.

Here's what you will need:

Beeswax Pastilles
Double Boiler
100% Cotton Wicks (Square braided are designed for beeswax candles, it's extra easy if you buy wicks that are already waxed and in holders)
Glass jar or container
Essential Oils (optional)

Fill a pot with a few inches of water and fit your double boiler into it.  Place over medium heat.  Add your beeswax pastilles.  If I need 1/2 cup of liquid to fill the container I want my candle in, then I find I need about 1 cup of pastilles in order to fill the container once melted.  Now sit at your kitchen table and read a book or magazine and be patient while your wax melts.

Once melted you can add essential oils if so desired.  Pour a little wax into your container.  Place your wick in your container with the metal tab resting on the bottom of the container and allow the wax to set enough to hold your wick in place.  Wrap excess wicking around a pencil and lay the pencil across the top of your container to make sure your wick stays centered.

Pour the rest of your wax into your container to fill it to about 1/2 or 1/4 inch from the top.

Now just let your candle harden/cool/cure on your counter and then clip your wick and you're all set!  If you want to turn your candle into a gift print up a pretty little tag and tie it with a bit of twine or hemp.

Sources for beeswax, wicks, essential oils, and containers:

If you're ready for more of a challenge I'll be posting again soon about making hand-dipped beeswax candles.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hello, it's been awhile...

It has been awhile since I have posted here!  So long in fact that there is nothing on the blog announcing the fact that we are expecting the arrival of bundle-of-sunshine #3 this fall.  We have been busily preparing for baby, beginning our homeschool curriculum, surviving the outrageous heat wave (105-ish for weeks on end), and harvesting gobs of peppers and tomatoes and learning to can them.  I am still doing my birth doula work through the end of this month, as well as photography (, graphic design projects, teaching childbirth education and VBAC classes, midwifery school, and this week I get to start nannying two other sweet little girls during the daytime.

Sometime soon I will be posting pictures of some of our canned (jarred) vegetables as well as a bit about my hubby's new passion-barbeque and smoking all sorts of tasty things.  I am also working on sewing diapers for baby #3 and hope to get some pics and maybe even some tutorials up in the coming weeks.