Homemade Pumpkin Bread Mix

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Homemade gifts are the best kind, especially when food is involved. With all the social events during the holiday season, it’s nice to have easy, non-perishable gifts on hand for whenever you need them. This pumpkin bread mix makes a wonderful hostess gift during the fall. If you’re a guest at someone’s house for Thanksgiving, give them this bread mix along with a can of pumpkin puree. After the whirlwind of Thanksgiving is over, they can enjoy a flavorful, home-baked loaf of pumpkin bread without much effort on their part. It's the perfect thank you gift. Fill a pint-sized mason jar with the dry ingredients for this pumpkin bread, and package it with a 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree. … [Read more...]

Pumpkin Smoothie

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This month’s Recipe Redux is all about “spooky spices.” We all have spices in our cabinets that we’re not quite sure how to use, so they just sit there. The great thing about spices is that they can add flavor without adding unnecessary sugar, so it’s a good idea to get comfortable using them. For me, ginger used to be a spooky spice. I avoided it because it has such a strong flavor. I like ginger, but it can be overpowering. So it just sat there in my cabinet. As I’ve gotten more comfortable experimenting in the kitchen over the years, I’ve embraced my bottle of ground ginger. A little bit goes a long way, so I always start with just a pinch. This pumpkin smoothie recipe illustrates … [Read more...]

Real Food Meal Plan Week 36

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I’m not sure how I’ll be able to beat last week’s meal plan. I cooked all five weeknight dinners in 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon. It was a tiring process, but I loved not having to cook during the week. I will definitely use that approach again soon. Turning to the week ahead, I’m looking forward to trying a few new recipes from my fellow bloggers. I love the idea of this oven-baked risotto from Food Done Light because I don’t like all the stirring that’s normally associated with risotto. And these shredded Brussels sprouts with roasted veggies and bacon from the Vintage Mom look fantastic. I’ve always been a sucker for Brussels sprouts. :) With soccer and basketball seasons … [Read more...]

Make-Ahead Meals: 5 Dinners in 90 Minutes

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Cooking dinner night after night can be overwhelming. For those of us with late work days or busy evening schedules, it can seem impossible to get homemade food on the table for our families. With my children’s various commitments, I often find myself on a sports field instead of at my dinner table when 6:00 rolls around. On other evenings, we get home right at dinnertime and there’s no time to prep the food. I used to settle for ordering out or opening a package on these evenings. I didn’t think I had a choice. But we always have a choice. If homemade food is a priority, you can always find a way. Five Make-Ahead Meals in 90 Minutes I’ve been hearing over and over from busy … [Read more...]

Chicken Chili

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Chili is one of my favorite meals. It’s just so cozy and flavorful. I love to eat chili for lunch or dinner, and I always put aside some leftovers in the freezer. When I look to the freezer to save me on a night when I just can't cook, I breathe a sigh of relief when I see that chili. I have several different versions I like to make, including vegetarian squash chili and chili con carne. This chicken chili is a mild version to accommodate my children’s palates. If you prefer a stronger chili flavor, you can double the chili powder and cumin, and add diced hot peppers or cayenne pepper. This is a simple recipe to put together when you have leftover shredded chicken … [Read more...]

Real Food Meal Plan Week 35

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I’m trying a little experiment with my meal plan this week. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for ages. On Sunday afternoon, I’m prepping all the meals for the week. I’ll chop, dice, cook, and freeze according to what’s on the menu for each weeknight. I picked meals with ingredients that will keep well in the fridge or freezer until they’re needed. If all goes well, I’ll only need 15 minutes or so of active time to put the food together each night. How great does this sound? I’m so excited to see if it actually works. I really don’t like to cook at dinnertime, so this could be the perfect week. :) Real Food Meal Plan Week 35 Saturday: Out for anniversary dinner Sunday: Vanilla … [Read more...]

Organizing Kitchen Cabinets with OXO

Organizing Kitchen Cabinets with OXO | Real Food Real Deals #POPtober

I’m frugal. Even if this is your first time here, you probably could have guessed that by reading the title of my blog. I keep a price chart that tracks where I can get the least expensive version of everything on my shopping list. I shop the sales and make lots of my family’s food from scratch. I love clearance racks and church tag sales. But being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. I firmly believe in investing in high-quality kitchen supplies that will last a long time. If you buy cheap kitchen tools, they'll break before long and you’ll need to replace them. That’s why I’m happy to work with OXO. Their quality is fantastic, and everything they sell comes with a lifetime … [Read more...]

Soft Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

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There’s one thing that’s eluded me over these past few years as I've tried to feed my family real food. It’s the bread thing. I just couldn't get my hands on a homemade whole wheat bread recipe that yielded anything other than a brick. I baked loaf after loaf, and they always tasted good out of the oven. But then as the hours passed, each loaf would turn into a dense mass. It was always edible as toast, but “edible” isn’t exactly what I was going for. I wanted a soft, 100 percent whole wheat loaf of bread that would stay soft for a few days. I wanted bread that I could freeze and then defrost for sandwiches later in the week. I wanted my kids to stop asking for the soft, junk-filled … [Read more...]

Real Food Meal Plan Week 34

Real Food Meal Plan Week 34 | Real Food Real Deals

We’re celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary this week. Of course it falls on an evening with dinnertime soccer practice. We’ll go out to dinner on the weekend to celebrate, and on our actual anniversary I’m keeping it simple with a low-stress taco night. We will commemorate the occasion with chocolate cake, though. :) During the rest of the week, we’re sticking to some old favorites. The weather’s getting cooler, so warm, comforting dishes like eggplant parm and chicken chili are on the menu. What do you like to make on these chilly fall evenings? Please give me some new ideas in the comments. Real Food Meal Plan Week 34 Saturday: Eggplant Parmesan with marinara from the … [Read more...]

Apple Cake Recipe

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Apple season may very well be my favorite time of year here in New England. We love to go apple picking, enjoying the newly-changing foliage and the cider donuts. In my opinion, apples are the tastiest treats in the fall harvest, and I love the dilemma of deciding what to do with 20 pounds of apples fresh from the orchard. As part of Cutco's Fall Harvest Food Blogger Event, I’m sharing this delicious apple cake recipe. I’m excited to work with Cutco because their knives are the only knives I've used in my kitchen since I got married 14 years ago. The quality is fantastic, and I firmly believe in the importance of investing in high-quality kitchen equipment. It keeps you sane when … [Read more...]