Beginning Our Hydroponics Journey

aerogardenWell, I suppose my last post was somewhat prophetic. I lapsed into some pretty deep homemaking doldrums, only working and watching old movies. Yes siree, I was a slacker.

Thinking about my advice from my previous post, though, I knew I had to do something different. Considering the cost of fresh veggies nowadays, I wanted to try growing our own food indoors year round. And with cats–especially one who loves to munch on greenery–along with a real lack of sunny windows, I decided to jump start our hydroponics journey with an Aerogarden.

I’ve actually been looking at them for quite awhile but hadn’t ever taken that step of purchasing one. With the new LED versions, I couldn’t resist. It seemed like a low stress way to growing food, even if it would be kind of expensive.

Lewis and Aerogarden

Lewis putting together the Aerogarden

Putting the actual Aerogarden together wasn’t that difficult. Within about 30 minutes, we had assembled it and had everything planted. It’s all automatic, and so we feel that we’ve finally reached the space age, despite the lack of Jetsons-type conveniences.

I’ll keep ya’ll posted as our little plants grow. It’s a small step for gardening in general, but a big step for our household. Wish us good eating!

Katniss found her favorite part of hydroponics!

Katniss found her favorite part of hydroponics!

Pumpkin Walnut Drop Scones

Pumpkin Walnut Drop SconesIf you’ve been looking through some of my posts, you might think my selection of recipes is a bit eclectic. Ranging from super-sweet treats to nutritious paleo delights, they can surely seem strange.

Why do I do it? It’s easy. Family.

Sure, some of the recipes are enjoyed by all, but some are just for me. I used to try to force my family to eat healthy, but it only led to fights and upset feelings. So now I try to find a balance between healthy and delicious, with some treats that only I enjoy. I figure that they can make the decision to eat healthier for themselves.

And, to be honest, I like making things that are sticky-good.

But for me, I make nutritious things that I can love. These scones certainly fit that bill.  They fulfilled all my autumnal wishes for flavor and still were healthy.

Plus they also utilized one ingredient that I had on hand from a failed project: xylitol. It had been hanging around my cupboards feeling forlorn after its rejection. It was good to give it a purpose.

These scones were super easy to make. The only problem I encountered was in sifting the dry ingredients; some of the xylitol grains wouldn’t make it through the sifter. Other than that, mixing and baking were a breeze.

And the taste? Good! They were soft in texture with a subtle flavor. Definitely a must for autumn mornings.

Pasta Bake with Sage Sausage

Pasta Bake with Sage SausageGenerally, when hubby offers to go to the grocery store, I make a specific list of items. Sometimes, though, I just say something like, “Get whatever is on sale.” The results can be interesting, and challenging, to say the least.

This last trip was one of those times. He came back with sage sausage. Now, I grew up eating this type of sausage for breakfast. Only for breakfast. What to do with it now?

Sage is not a spice that I generally use, and so I looked up foods and other spices that might complement it. I learned that oregano, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts go well with sage. So….a pasta bake!

I browned the sausage first in a saucepan and then threw in the rest of a bag of frozen peppers and onions. After all of that was nicely cooked, it went in a baking pan with some melted butter. I added a jar of premium Bertolli sauce along with artichoke hearts, a handful of Italian spice blend, as well as some garlic powder. After a bit of mixing, it went in the oven at 350 while I cooked the pasta. Once the pasta was cooked, it went in to the baking pan and cooked for about an hour, with my stirring the ingredients about every 20 minutes or so.

The result? It was well received by all. It had a subtle flavor that wasn’t too spicy. Plus, my husband and his daughter decided to mix in some cheese, and so that made it all the more family friendly. It was a definite winner!

Sometimes surprises can be good!

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Easy Cheesy Soup (In a Wonderbag)

easycheesysoupHaving worked late last night, I wasn’t much in the mood for a heavy day of cooking. Dinner had to be easy and simple, especially since I would be working shifts throughout the day as well.

Luckily, my husband had stocked up on Progresso Recipe Starters awhile back when our local grocery store had run a sale on them. We always stock up on sale goods, especially when they’re canned and shelf-stable items. And who doesn’t like to save money? Anyway, he chose a selection of the various flavors, and luckily we had one of the Creamy Three Cheese starters left in our pantry.

Although the old brain cells take a bit longer to come up with something at my age, I was able to put together an idea fairly quickly. Easy Cheesy Soup! Improvising my own recipe from an established one would have to be the way to go in this case as I definitely wouldn’t be running to the grocery store for a few items. I found a good basic recipe online and began from there.

Here’s what I put in the pot:

  1. 2 links of hot Italian sausage
  2. 1 can of Creamy Three Cheese recipe starter
  3. About 1/3 bag of frozen Mirepoix vegetable mix
  4. Couple of handfuls dehydrated green and red peppers
  5. Ghost pepper infused sea salt from The Spice Lab
  6. Habanero infused sea salt from The Spice Lab
  7. Assorted spices (chipotle, roasted herb mix, garlic powder, etc)

I first browned the sausage in a bit of coconut oil, adding the Mirepoix veggies after a bit. Spices went in next; I then threw in the peppers and soup. I returned everything to boiling and put the steaming pot in the Wonderbag. It sat on my counter for an hour or so until we were ready to eat.

The result? Yummy! We chopped up some cheese in our soup for a garnish, and it turned out cheesy and wonderful. I’ll definitely try this again. And the Wonderbag made it all easy and convenient even for my work schedule.

Dinner Is in the Bag!

dinnerwonderbagBe sure and check out my latest frugal improvisation for dinner in a Wonderbag!

Dinner Is in the Bag!

It was a tasty and easy meal! Plus, as it used up ingredients we already had on hand, very frugal. I’ve got tons of other articles on Bubblews, so be sure and check those out as well. You might find something useful on there!

Click on the link below to go to my profile, along with a list of my articles published to the site.

Krista Schnee on Bubblews

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Sardine Salad with Crackers

sardine saladDo you ever have one of those days that is unexpectedly stressful and hectic? I think we all do, right? Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. Work and more work, along with upcoming deadlines and the related stresses. It was just not a good day for anything too involved as far as dinner was concerned.

Such days are smaller instances where having a full pantry can be quite handy. No SHTF scenario, no crisis. Just a busy day in need of a quick dinner solution. Luckily, I had just gone to the grocery store and grabbed up a few new items that I was raring to try. ¬†Even a small indulgence or change from the ordinary can make a world of difference in our mood. And if they’re convenient, then so much the better.

I had been reading about sardines and their nutritional benefits, and so I wanted to give them a try. As I was new to eating them, I selected a boneless and skinless variety. After doing some reading, I decided to make a quick sardine salad that could be eaten with cheese and crackers. A cool meal that would be perfect for a hurried schedule!

Although this basic recipe could be fancied up quite a bit, I just used what I had on hand. Here’s what I mixed up:

  1. 1 tin of sardines, drained and chopped
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. Sriracha Mayo to taste
  4. Hot mustard to taste
  5. Salt and pepper to taste

The resulting salad is easily eaten with crackers and is filling. Plus it made enough leftovers for a few meals, which is certainly a bonus.

What are your favorite ways to use sardines? Any recommendations for someone like myself who is new to eating them?

 

Quick Sunday Breakfast: Almond Flour Muffins

almond muffinI had a bit of time this morning in between shifts, and so I decided to make us a hot breakfast. Although we don’t normally use the oven during the summer, sometimes I will cook in the mornings while it is still cool. Of course, I could have used the solar oven, but baking in it takes much more care and patience than I had this morning.

Having just bought some almond flour yesterday, I decided to make some muffins or scones. After a bit of searching, I found this recipe for Almond Flour Muffins. Other than looking super easy to make, the recipe only used ingredients that I already had on hand. Yay for almond muffins!

I was able to mix these up in about 5-10 minutes. Using the amounts in the recipe, I was only able to make about five muffins, so if you have a larger family, you may want to double the recipe. The muffins cooked up nicely and quickly before the kitchen became too hot.

And the verdict? The texture reminded me a bit of corn muffins; the almond muffins were a bit drier and coarser than the result when cooking with all-purpose flour. However, the taste was lightly sweet and was a wonderful complement to morning coffee. Add a little maple syrup to both, and you’re in business!

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone.

Review of Prairie Land Food

Review of Prairie Land Food

Prairie Land Food is a local food share program, but others surely exist throughout the country. Even if you don’t qualify for a food pantry, you can still participate in these programs and get quality food at a low cost. I highly recommend looking at them if you are struggling financially. Click on the link above to find out more.

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