Category: In the Kitchen/Recipes

Homemade Goodness: Crock Pot Stuffed Green Peppers

Someone on our Living Large Facebook page asked me if the way I cook has changed since moving to Our Little House.

Let’s just say it has, but it has more to do with our location than space.

While I become frustrated sometimes for lack of counter space, I’ve learned to cook much better here, with a larger variety of fresh ingredients, which has resulted in a better variety of foods.

We’re 45 minutes from the nearest town with restaurants, we ate out frequently in the city; and we’re also more conscious of what we eat. Cooking at home is just better for us.

Eating out only once every other week has given me a lot of practice and obviously, it’s paid off. One of my husband’s co-workers said finding out what “good looking, home cooking” is in his lunch every day is a daily main topic of lunch table conversation.

That being said, my cooking has been a process of evolution.

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Pet Treat Recalls Have Us Making Our Own

I know many of our Living Large community are pet lovers.

Since 2007, when ingredients traced back to China began making pets in the U.S. sick and killing some, I’ve been doing the same thing for our pets as I have for our own food: Reading labels.

If we didn’t have a 6-pack of rescued dogs, I would definitely make our own pet food, but that is nearly impossible both financially and logistically with so many animals in the household.

I do read labels on our commercial dog food, trying to keep it grain free and organic, with companies I know source their ingredients in the U.S.

As for treats, I haven’t bought commercial dog treats for at least two years, when stories started surfacing about those making animals sick.

Stories such as this one from NBC that reports as many as 500 pets have died from jerky treats made in China, scare the daylights out of me.

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A Repost of my Cold Cocktail

I hope all of our Living Large community had Happy Holidays. I took a much needed rest, but I’m glad to be back and glad you’ve checked in on the blog.

I heard on the local news recently that there are so many cases of colds and the flu in one Arkansas hospital, they are not allowing visitors unless they wear masks. Everyday I sign on to Facebook and see another friend posting about being sick. Yesterday, my friend who cuts my hair said she was sick.

I originally posted this last year. I have still only been sick once since we moved here 5 1/2 years ago, and I attribute it to my cold cocktail:

I didn’t think much about it for most of the day.

I sneeze often and have sinus issues and at my age, regulating my body temperature is a regular struggle.

By afternoon on Halloween, though, I felt that familiar tickle in the back of my throat;  that one that signals impending fever, chills, runny nose and a few days on the sofa.

Not long afterward, a chill ran through my body, the kind that comes with fever.

My one pet peeve in life: Being sick. I don’t like being miserable and I don’t like wasting precious time when I could be living.

I practically ran from The Belle Writer’s Studio back to Our Little House and started my “cold cocktail,” the one that has guaranteed me 99 percent of the time, if I start it right away, I can kick a cold before it ever takes hold.

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Food Memories

Making chili and cornbread

Halloween may seem like a strange holiday to have a food tradition, but there was one in my family.

My mom would always make a big pot of chili for us before we went out trick-or-treating with my dad.

“Something to warm your bellies,” she would always say.

When I grew up and my mother sold her house and no longer had small children or grandchildren to feed, I began carrying on the tradition.

I remember fondly those Halloweens so long ago, marching around my neighborhood in costume with a stomach full of my mom’s chili, but the ones from my adulthood are now much more vivid.

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A Bitter Cucumber to Swallow

Jalepenos and tomatoes they are huge and bushy now

So far, the container garden at Our Little House is flourishing.

The jalapeno peppers are dark green and still growing.

Unfortunately, for the pack rats, they are history, taken care of with our rat zappers. We have a big rabbit hopping around the yard, we see it because the dogs chase it every morning when they leave the house, but it hasn’t bothered the tomato plants. I do put up the large dog gate on the party deck, which probably helps.

Dale started calling the tomato plants our tomato “trees.”

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Must Have Gadgets for Cooking in a Small House

Half a Baking Sheet, Teeny Tiny Tongs and a Measuring Shot Glass

 

 

When we moved to Our Little House, we had all kinds of kitchen gadgets and tools. Some of them we never took out of boxes when we received them as wedding presents.

The truth is, unless you’re a gourmet cook – which I am not – like most things in our homes, we can get by with a few necessities.

I had already learned this when Our Little House was set up as a weekend/vacation lake home. I had very few things, but everything I needed to cook a good meal while we were here.

Since moving, I’ve found there are some gadgets and tools that are great for small spaces and for cooking for one or two people.

Here’s my list of 7 must-haves for the small kitchen:

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Beer Butt Chicken Triumph

Beer Butt Chicken doesn’t really sound too appetizing, this is where you place a chicken over an open can of beer and cook, but I have been yearning to try this for a long time.

I’m a big chicken fan at Our Little House, especially roasted chicken.

You know how sometimes people say a girl finds husbands who have similar traits of their fathers?

Dale has more than one trait similar to my dad’s and one is a mutual dislike for chicken. We rarely had the bird at home when I was growing up.

Dad grew up on a farm in Arkansas where his mother literally rang the bird’s neck, defeathered and dressed them herself.

Somewhere along the line, Dad found he had an aversion to feathers – maybe grandma didn’t get them all plucked – and always said he could “taste” the feathers anytime he ate chicken.

This came from a man who, upon finding a hair in his food or hearing any childish talk of vomit, poop or even animals, would slam his fork down and get up and leave the table.

For a tough guy, he was pretty squeamish when it came to his food and this limited table conversation.

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Muffin Tin Cooking Makes Meals Fun

Today, I’m pleased to have Brette Sember, author of the newly released The Muffin Tin Cookbook, as well as The Parchment Paper Cookbook and The Organized Kitchen.  All of Brette’s books are fantastic and make great additions to small house kitchens, but today, she’s going to tell us what makes muffin tins great and why they’re for more than just muffins. She also gives away a couple of recipes. Read to the end, you have a chance to win one of these books!

 

Your muffin tins can do much more than just cupcakes and muffins! This versatile pan can be used to make entrees, appetizers, breakfasts, sides, breads, desserts, and much more. Forget big casserole dishes or baking pans – you can do it all in your muffin tin. If you’re living in a small space, you’ll find that you can make many dishes with just a six-cup muffin pan which is easy to store and doesn’t take up a lot of room in your cupboard.

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