From My Kitchen This Week

Do you ever wonder what I’m cooking on a day-to-day basis? Well, today I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been making in my kitchen over the past week and a half.

Lentils & Veggies. A good way to get lots of vegetables in you! Add garlic and fresh herbs for delicious flavor. I made this as a hot dish, but cold lentil salads are equally delicious—especially when you use lemons and garlic.


Bread Pudding for breakfast. This one is getting ready to go into the oven! There are two reasons I love bread pudding. One is that you can use up bread ends, old bread, dry bread, multiple varieties of bread, and even a bum homemade loaf if it doesn’t turn out as good as you anticipated. The second reason I love bread pudding is that I can throw it together quickly in the evening, put it in the fridge overnight, and first thing in the morning just pop the dish in the oven…voila! breakfast is hot, fresh and served 40 minutes later. Bread Pudding is well-loved in our house along with these equally delicious breakfast recipes.


Lots of Rainbow Lunches. My littles just LOVE a colorful plate! In fact they try to make sure we’ve got every color on there. I’m always amazed at what my kids will happily eat when it’s presented attractively. It really does make a difference. (Mom Tip: Rainbow Lunches are great opportunities to sneak in small bits of leftovers. The chicken was left over, as were the cooked carrots.)


Korean Beef BBQ Bowl. This one was a hit with my family! I made it non-spicy for the kids, but my husband and I added some spice for a kick. We served it over rice. The flavors are very similar to beef bulgogi.


Summer Tomato-Cucumber Salad. Home grown cucumbers with celery, tomatoes, basil and a light vinaigrette. Crunchy cucumber salads are one of my favorite summer salads, along with any salad that includes fresh tomatoes and basil.


Cod Provencal style. This cod was slow cooked in my Schlemmertopf clay cooker with tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, purple beans and cream. We ate it over quinoa so the quinoa could soak up the yummy sauce. 


In addition to all those tasty dishes, I’ve been making plenty of the everyday simpler fare: Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal, Pasta Bolognese, scrambled eggs & toast.

So what about you? What is one recipe you made this week in your kitchen? I’d love to hear what food you love and make in the comments below! Leave me a quick note, or if you’ve got a food blog (or it’s a recipe from another blog), share the link so we can all be inspired. Do you love Instagram or Pinterest? Leave your username so I can follow you.

25 Ways to Save Money on Your Food


  1. Learn to cook dried beans. They are normally at least 1/2 the cost of canned beans. Here’s the super easy, fool-proof way to cook beans.
  2. Since cooked beans freeze well, stock your freezer with 1 quart bags of cooked beans. Pull them out to use just like you would use canned beans. 1 quart = 2 (14 oz.) cans.
  3. Double one meal you cook each week (or every other week), and freeze it. Now you will always have at least one freezer meal which can be thawed on quick notice for a no-prep dinner on crazy days. It’s much cheaper than ordering pizza.
  4. Stop eating boxed cereal and start making your own breakfast. Cereal, along with the amounts of milk you consume with it, are money-hogs. $$$ How about starting with super easy overnight crockpot oatmeal which costs just over 2 bucks for a breakfast for a family of five? Here are more breakfast ideas.
  5. After you make the crockpot oatmeal, you’ll probably have leftover oatmeal. Here’s a few ways to use up leftover oatmeal—don’t let it go to waste!
  6. Pick vegetables and fruit from local pick-your-own farms. (Use sites like Local Harvest and Eat Local Grown to find farms near you.)
  7. Pick extra and freeze for future use. (Here’s a tip on easy freezing for ya!)
  8. Buy a chest freezer to store that extra produce. (Tip: Look around on sites like Craigslist and Freecycle for used freezers.) The freezer will pay itself back quite quickly, because now you’ll also have room to…
  9. Buy a quarter or half cow (depending on the size of your family). How does $4.00 per pound for grass-fed ground beef, steaks and roasts sound?
  10. Learn a new skill…like how to bake bread. It’s the difference of $.80 a loaf or $3.50 a loaf.
  11. Visit farmers markets in season. They often have competitive prices on the very freshest of produce. The fresher the produce, the more nutrients remain and the better it tastes!
  12. And while you’re there, don’t forget to ask the farmers for seconds. They’re always a super deal!
  13. Oh, and don’t forget to ask them about a bulk discount either. If they don’t have a bulk amount with them, they’ll often bring it to the next market for you to pick up. (If it’s too much quantity for you, divide the amount with a friend or two—you’ll all get to save!)
  14. Join a co-op. (More info here.)
  15. Start a small garden…even if you’re not a gardener. Anyone can learn. Trust me on this one! I went from being unable to keep a house plant alive to growing $600 worth of produce in a teensy suburban garden.
  16. Don’t throw away dried or old bread. Try one of these uses instead.
  17. Stop buying chicken broth. Make your own. It’s super, super easy and cheap!
  18. Utilize everything…like the stalks from broccoli crowns.
  19. Grow your own herbs. You don’t even have to have a garden—you can grow them in pots. For the price of one small packet of a fresh herb at the store, you can buy a whole plant, which will produce for you all season (or year-round if you grow it indoors).
  20. Make your own vanilla extract. When you see how EASY this is, you just might laugh!
  21. Stop throwing away food and eat your leftovers. When you throw away leftovers, you’re throwing away money.
  22. Buy grains in bulk. They have a very long shelf-life.
  23. When you buy pumpkins in the fall for decoration, use them afterward to make pumpkin puree.
  24. Make your own salad dressings. It’s so easy!!! It’s also cheaper and healthier.
  25. Eat more cheap foods, like carrots.

Roasted Balsamic-Glazed Carrots

Sometimes it’s all in the details. 

I think I may speak for many when I say that we all done with boring steamed carrots—bland and a bit dry (or mushy). And I think I can safely add that we are also done with steamed baby carrots tossed with cinnamon, sugar and butter. Carrots have so much more to offer!

Carrots are typically a pretty inexpensive vegetable to purchase. (I’m currently buying 25 lb. bags for $17.99 at my local grocery store—that’s $.72 per pound.) When you’re on a budget, taking advantage of what’s inexpensive is one way to stretch your money and stay within your budget. And, really, we’d all do well to eat more carrots. They’re a good-for-you vegetable, and we all know we all need to regularly eat more  vegetables!

But being cheap and common—like the carrot is—does not have to mean plain and boring—like the carrot unfortunately too often is.


I’ve shared a few interesting and delicious recipes in the past using the nutritious and frugal carrot:

And today I want to share another fantastic carrot recipe with you: Roasted Balsamic-Glazed Carrots. This recipe takes the carrot from boring to extraordinary in just a few quick steps! It’s really as easy as 1-2-3, literally: 1 T of balsamic vinegar, 2 T of honey, 3 T of fat.

As far which kind of fat, you’ve got some choice and flexibility here:

  • Coconut oil complements the flavors in this recipe, but the balsamic vinegar definitely still drives the flavor profile. (It really will not taste “coconutty” if that’s a concern for you.)
  • Butter is always a good choice! Yum! You can’t go wrong there. Butter will add richness.
  • Olive oil lends itself nicely to this recipe and adds a hint more savory flavor to the carrots.

I always appreciate a flexible recipe because—though I try to avoid them—there are those times when I reach for something like butter only to realize I’m out. (How did that slip by me?!) I hope you appreciate a flexible recipe too!

Take note of how the carrots are cut. Like I wrote at the beginning, sometimes it’s all in the details. Cutting the carrots on the high diagonal adds a little sophistication to what could be a very ordinary looking dish. It’s really no harder, and it’s no more time consuming. But doesn’t it look a bit more fancy? These large, thick slices also hold up well in the oven during the roasting. Just cut at a very high diagonal so that you achieve carrot slices that are about 1/4-inch think and 3–4 inches long. I find it easiest to start at the bottom of the carrot and work my way up. When I get to an end, I flip it so it lays down flat on the diagonal I just cut. That stabilizes it, and I then cut straight down to finish it off. (Saves the fingers!)

Roasted Balsamic-Glazed Carrots

Serves 6-8

  • 2 dozen large carrots
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T honey
  • 3 T fat (melted coconut oil, melted butter or olive oil)
  • 2 generous sprinkles of thyme
  • 2 small pinches of salt

Preheat oven to 375. Wash and peel the carrots; cut off the ends. Slice the carrots on the very high diagonal, making 1/4-inch slices that are 3-4 inches long. Divide the carrots and place in two glass or ceramic baking dishes (both about 9×13″ size).

Melt the butter or coconut oil and stir the honey into it. (If using olive oil, whisk the honey into it.) Stir (or whisk) the balsamic vinegar into this mixture. (It will separate and that’s okay.) Spoon this mixture evenly over the carrots. Sprinkle the carrots with thyme and salt. Toss the carrots in each dish with your hands until evenly coated.

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, or until carrots are tender and a few are just beginning to brown on the edges. Serve immediately or keep covered and warm until serving.


If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also enjoy:

Bridge the Gap – The easy way to get all your servings of fruits and veggies every day

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Chips

Coconut Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Papaya + Tomato

Lemony Late-Summer Zucchini Galette

Garlicky White Bean Soup with Bacon

March is here! Spring is on its way—hurray!! An awful lot of the country (including my neck of the woods) has been bombarded with freezing temps, snow and ice. I hope you all are surviving the unusually cold temps. Take heart—it can’t last forever! Spring WILL come. 

But in the meantime, as you barrel through the last of the cold weather, here’s a showstopper of a soup to keep you cozy until the air is warm and the breezes are flowing once again.

It’s got BACON in it, folks! Lots of yummy, yummy bacon. 


A lot of people are afraid of bacon because it’s got fat in it. We need to stop being afraid of fat. Fat is actually something our bodies need. And really, if you read a bacon label, it doesn’t have that much fat in it anyway. It does have saturated fat, but our bodies do need some saturated fat in order to thrive. Babies and children especially need saturated fat in their diet. Would I say eat bacon every day? Well, no, I wouldn’t. But there are many foods that in moderation can support a healthy diet.

Everything in moderation. That’s what I regularly return to.

So, yes, bacon in moderation too—hurray! It really helps if you can find a good quality bacon. Most grocery store bacon will have a lot of preservatives in it, so look for preservative-free brands. Since bacon contains fat and a lot of toxins (like pesticide residues) reside heavily in fat, it’s a good idea to look around your area and see if you can find a local farm that raises pigs in a quality, sustainable way. Fresh, high quality bacon can’t be beat! And like purchasing a quarter cow, you can often purchase a half or whole hog direct from a local farmer and get a good deal. Some grocery stores will offer pastured pork or pork fed without antibiotics or GMOs. Better choices for sure, if you have those options available to you.

You’ll notice in this recipe I note “large” a lot—a large onion, large celery ribs, large garlic cloves and a large carrot. I’m not trying to be ornery. It’s just that beans are pretty bland on their own and receive their flavor from what is added to them. In this recipe it’s really the veggies and bacon that give the soup its delicious flavor. So if you’re unsure, or you’ve got small carrots for instance, err on the side of more rather than less—go for two small carrots. Better to have more flavor than an under-flavored, bland bean soup!

Just one more note: The recipe calls for minced parsley as a garnish. In the photo I used pea shoots, which also work well. But really, you could opt for another herb like thyme or a few baby spinach leaves. The important thing is to add a bit of green to freshen the soup. The green provides a nice contrast of flavor and color.

Garlicky White Bean Soup with Bacon

Serves 6

  • 1 lb. dry white beans, pre-cooked (cannellini or Great Northern are best, though navy beans will work)
  • 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 large ribs of celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 2–4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • optional: 1/4 cup white wine
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • minced parsley

Cook beans in advance and drain. (You can even cook them 1–2 days in advance and store them in the fridge.)

Mince the garlic and dice the onion, celery and carrot. Set veggies aside.

Dice the bacon and add to a heavy bottomed soup pot and render the fat over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon well, stirring occasionally until the bacon is crispy and dark and the fat is rendered. The bottom of your pot should be good and brown. If desired, remove a small portion of the cooked bacon to use as a garnish. Add all the veggies and stir occasionally as they cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

The juices from the veggies may be enough to deglaze your pot (remove the browned bits on the bottom of your pot), but if not, now is the time to add the white wine if you’re going to. Give it all a little stir as the wine deglazes the rest of the pot. Allow the wine to reduce and sizzle out, stirring occasionally. (Shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.)

Now add 2 cups of chicken broth to the pot. (If you didn’t add the wine and your pot still needs to be deglazed, just stir gently with a wooden spoon after adding the broth to loosen the browned bits and finish deglazing. Once the broth has heated up, reduce the heat to low and simmer the broth and veggies for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

Remove pot from heat. Add 1/2 of the beans to the soup pot. Use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup. The goal is to have a thick, creamy soup base filled with chunks of bacon, veggies and beans. Puree a bit, give a good stir, puree a bit more, give a good stir. Err on the side of less pureed so you don’t overdo it and puree too much. Once about half of the soup is pureed, in a small bowl or immersion blender cup add 1 cup of beans to 1 cup of chicken broth and puree. Add this puree to the soup and stir in well. If the consistency is to your liking, stop here. If it’s not creamy enough, puree another 1/2 cup of beans with 1/2 cup of chicken broth and stir into the soup. I ended up using nearly all of the beans for this soup. Reserve any remaining beans for another use. Salt and pepper the soup to taste.

Serve soup immediately, topped with reserved bacon and minced parsley (or other green like baby spinach leaves, pea shoots, minced fresh thyme or chives).

Roasted Potato Fries

Who doesn’t love a good french fry?!

Are you a ketchup-dipper or a malt-vinegar-sprinkler? For me, it’s all about the fry. When my husband and I were in Dublin, late one very cold night we wandered out for something to eat and hit upon a hole in the wall that dished us up some awesome, hot British chips in a brown paper bag doused heavily with malt vinegar. Hit the spot! Ever since then, if the fries are thick, it’s malt vinegar I want. If they’re skinny, I reach for the ketchup.


Well, the recipe I’m sharing with you today doesn’t quite make french fries, but it doesn’t really make potato wedges either. These babies fall somewhere in the beautiful in-between…though I am calling them a fry because they lean heavily in that direction.

Wedge-cut with brown crispy edges and tender insides, they’re quick and easy to make, and everyone will love them! We like them with a little pizazz—thus the chili powder and thyme in the recipe. But if you’re looking for a more basic, french fry-taste, try them with just the salt (and maybe a dash of pepper too). Serve them with malt vinegar or ketchup, just as you would your favorite fries.

These “fries” are the perfect, healthier french fries to serve next to a hamburger, but they’re also sophisticated enough to go along with a classy steak dinner. I recently served them for my family with baked salmon filets, sauteed mushrooms & greens, and green beans. There was a lot of happy dipping and munching! They are potatoes—I think they’ll go with just about anything.

Roasted Potato Fries

  • 12 medium potatoes
  • 3–6 T olive oil (the choice is yours!)
  • 1-1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 large glass or ceramic baking dishes (at least 9×13″)

Preheat oven to 350. Slice each potato in half length-wise, then slice each half into wedges about 1/3-1/2″ thick. Divide the wedges evenly between all three baking dishes. Pour 1–2 T olive oil over each dish of potatoes. Sprinkle each dish with 1/2 tsp chili powder and 1/2 tsp thyme. Then sprinkle each generously with salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes in each baking dish with your hands until they are evenly coated. Arrange the potatoes so they are spread evenly over the baking dishes—they can overlap and pile a little but should mostly be in one layer.

Bake for one solid hour, but start checking them after 45 minutes just to be on the safe side. The potatoes are done when they are all tender inside but some have browned nicely, especially on the tips and edges. Remove the baking dishes from the oven and use a spatula to loosen the potatoes from the pan. (Those that you loosen are my favorites—they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside but still tender inside!)

Here’s what’s cookin’…

Today I thought it would be fun to share from Instagram what I’ve been cooking over the past month. I truly think real, whole foods are beautiful and often snap pix when I’m cutting or chopping or throwing something in the oven. Sometimes I take a pic just to remind myself of something I made that I want to make again.


Fanesca—An traditional soup of Ecuador. My Ecuadorian friend Martha gave me the recipe. I’ve had it before at her house and it’s so good! I love it because there are a ton of good veggies and beans in it. All my kids love it too, so it’s a win for Mom! This was the first time I’ve made it, but I know I’ll be making it again.


Sauteed Greens and Mushrooms—Look at all that lovely steam rising from my cast iron skillet! I make this dish as a sauce sometimes using only mushrooms. It’s got red wine and cream in it. Divine! We love the sauce over steak au poivre. When I add the greens, I serve it as a side like I did this night for dinner. This—either with the greens as a side or sans greens as a sauce—is one of my hubby’s favorites. (I like it best as a sauce.)


Roasted Potato Fries—This is in the line-up to share with you. We LOVE these here at our house!!! Crispy on the outside, tender inside. Keep on the look-out for this upcoming post!


Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes—My kids love these cute little pancakes. They have oats and raisins in them just like oatmeal cookies. I make them extra small, like little cookies, and then I serve them topped with whipped cream. The recipe is in my cookbook. It’s a winner with kids—who wouldn’t want to eat oatmeal cookies for breakfast? (Of course, they’re not really cookies and they are healthy!)


Carrot Top Stew—Just kidding! This is my little guy playing with all the carrot tops while I was chopping carrots and onions for an Irish stew. When it’s cold and rainy, I love me a good, hearty stew!


A Burrito in A Bowl—This was lunch the other day. Cute and colorful—a hit with my kids. Anything colorful always seems to win them over.


Popcorn—My life’s blood. Seriously. Just ask my husband. When I’m sick…it’s popcorn. Home alone…popcorn. Celebrating…popcorn. Relaxing…popcorn. We eat it for dinner every Sunday night. Some of our favorite popcorn fixings are:

  • an equal mixture of melted butter and coconut oil, salt
  • just a good quality olive oil and salt
  • melted butter, nutritional yeast, dill, parmesan and salt (Sounds gross but it’s really good! I should post about that some time.)
  • melted butter (or coconut oil & butter), a little honey, cinnamon and salt—kind of like quick-and-easy, not-quite-as-sweet kettle corn.

What about you? What have you been cooking lately? Did you make something really awesome last week? An old family favorite? Something your kids loved? I want to hear what you’ve been cooking. I’m always inspired by others!

Do you snap pix of your food? Share your blog or Instagram (Twitter…) with me below in the comments. I’d love to follow you and your cooking adventures!

If you liked this post you might also enjoy:


Are you planning your garden too?

I am currently in the throws of planning my garden.

Are you, too?

We’ve moved and so I am very excited to have a very large space in which to garden!

I used to garden in a very small space. If you are limited in space like I was, please don’t ever think you can’t grow anything of consequence! I grew $600 worth of produce in two tiny plots in my postage stamp suburban yard.


I’ve ordered most of my herb seeds, as you can see from the photo, but I just placed a rather large order for lots of vegetables and flowers from Baker Creek. (They’re a great non-GMO, heirloom company, by the way. Territorial Seed is another good company.) I can’t wait until my seeds arrive! Come January, once my kids are in bed, there will be several nights in a row where I climb into bed with some hot tea or a warm and creamy nutmeg flip and spend the evening browsing seed catalogs and the internet looking at all the beautiful varieties of garden plants there are. I didn’t used to be a gardener, but I’ve come to love it!

I always have a hard time narrowing down my choices. Anyone else have that problem? I seriously could grow acres of various plants if I had the time and capacity and available help. There are so many cool squash varieties, peppers, tomatoes (my weakness—I ordered 8 varieties), and talk about lettuce! I love experimenting with new species, like I did a few years ago with ground cherries. Those grow like a champ, by the way! Very prolific.

Having just moved in the fall, and having had a pretty wet winter, we’re still preparing garden plots. That meant I had to forgo a cold-weather, early spring garden. So I’m starting with my warm weather/summer garden…which means as soon as those seeds arrive, I’m going to be busy starting up all my peppers and tomatoes (and more) indoors!

When I’m trying to decide which plants to grow, here are a few things I look for in the description and from growers’ comments:

  • Region—Does it grow well in my region (here’s an easy way to find your growing region).
  • Taste—Do I like to eat that vegetable/fruit? (If you don’t like it, don’t grow it!) I also look for descriptions that note unusual or outstanding flavor.
  • Growth—I look for words like “prolific” and “heavy producer.”
  • Hardiness—I look for plants that are typically resistant to common bugs/fungi/disease or are described as especially hardy.
  • Beauty—I look for beautiful produce. Vibrant color and unusual shape, color or variegation are mostly what I’m drawn to.
  • Size—I typically look for smaller varieties. I seem to have better success with those.
  • Variety—No matter how tiny my space, I always plant more than one variety of the same plant. If one fails, the other almost always succeeds.

I look for hardy and prolific varieties because I feel I still need all the help I can get! Some crops always fail, but I figure I’ve got a better chance at more success if I begin with stronger, less particular plants. As far as size goes, I just seem to have greater success with smaller varieties. I think it may be because you pick them sooner, so there’s less chance for animals, bugs or disease to get to them. At any rate, I tend to opt for the smaller finger-like eggplants over the standard large ones, the smaller 6 ounce or less tomatoes over the large beefsteak pounders, and so on. I encourage my kids to try smaller varieties as well, because most kids will feel more successful if they pick more and pick often. For instance, large tomatoes sit on the vine taking days to ripen, but most cherry tomato plants have at least a handful of tomatoes ready to be picked every day. A bit more exciting for the little ones!

So what about you?

Are you planning your garden right now too? What are some of your favorite plants to grow in your garden?

Please share—I’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post about gardening, you might also enjoy:

Supplementing with Beans

Beans are an oft-overlooked addition to the standard American diet, yet they have been (and still are) a traditional staple in many diets around the world.




What are some of the benefits of beans?

  • Inexpensive
  • Full of protein, fiber and nutrients
  • Nutrient dense
  • Versatile

Beans are inexpensive. They are especially inexpensive when you cook dried beans (instead of purchasing canned). If cooking dried beans scares you—as it did me for many years—read about my really easy method of cooking beans. It has not failed me! I can easily buy organic beans for around $2.00 per pound, give or take a little depending on the type of bean. Non-organic beans will even be cheaper.

Beans have protein, fiber and nutrients. Beans are not a complete protein, but when you pair them with a whole grain like brown rice, combined they are a complete protein. (A complete protein means the food possesses the 9 amino acids that humans can not make on their own but instead must consume. If you consume meat, whether or not beans are a complete protein is not nearly as important.) Beans also contain fiber, which assists in keeping your digestive tract healthy. Some of the nutrients found in beans are vitamins (including folic acid and B6), minerals (such as copper and magnesium), lignans, phytosterols and flavonoids.

Beans are nutrient dense. Nutrient dense means that the amount of nutrition per calorie that you receive from eating the food is particularly high. This is true of beans. What a blessing that such an inexpensive food is also such a nutritious food!

Beans are versatile. And they’re versatile in multiple ways. Beans are easily cooked, and they can be eaten immediately or frozen for future meals. Beans can be served as whole beans, mashed and turned into patties (like veggie burgers), added to soups and pasta, and they can be served hot or cold, as the Colorful Double Bean Salad pictured above. Beans can be a stand-alone meal (like rice and beans), served as a side (like this lentil salad), or added to soups and casseroles for texture and flavor, and beans can be added to foods like meatballs or casseroles to extend the meal. Believe it or not, beans can even be added to brownies and other baked goods! (Oh yes, a great way to slip nutrition into your kids without them having a clue.) In my cookbook, my sister and I share some of our favorite bean recipes.

What are you favorite ways to use beans? 

When Life Gives You Lemons…

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? Well, what about when life gives you a failed cake disaster?

I thought I’d start off the new year with a bang—a kitchen disaster! You may think that food bloggers like myself are whizzes in the kitchen and fly through meals and all things food with ease. Some of them just might be that and do that, but not me. I’ve been telling you from the beginning that I’m far from perfect, and it’s true. While I can find my way around the kitchen nicely and do find it generally easy and enjoyable to cook and bake, I still make mistakes and deal with kitchen disasters. In fact I’m well-known in my family for a few prime disasters, namely blowing up an oven—ahem…but those stories are for another day.

Over Christmas we had a lot of family visit. My brother-in-law’s birthday happens to fall right after Christmas, so I was tasked with making his birthday cake. I’d found this beautiful recipe, which I’d pinned. (Isn’t it gorgeous?!!) But because the original recipe is written using the metric system, I opted to go for a simple gingerbread cake recipe using US measurements. I really wanted this cake to come out nicely, so I wanted to play it safe instead of trying to convert all the measurements. I found good ol’ {I’ll let the culprit remain nameless}‘s gingerbread cake recipe. She’s generally pretty reliable when it comes to baking.

Well…here are my cakes when I checked on them after about 15 minutes because we smelled something burning.


(Pardon the ack!-my-cakes-are-exploding-quick-grab-my-iphone blurry pic.)

Despite having only filled up the cake pans just past half-way, the cakes had WAY over-risen and overflowed and were literally pouring out of the cake pans onto the racks and the oven floor below. What a mess!!!

In retrospect I think there may have been a typo in the recipe. It called for 2 tsp of baking powder and 2 tsp of baking soda as well. When I was measuring that out, I hesitated. Golly, that seemed like a lot of baking soda especially in light of the baking powder already present. But—ironically—I didn’t want to risk a failed cake just because I fudged the recipe, so I followed the recipe despite my nagging gut feeling. Alas! (My best guess is that it should have stated 1/2 tsp baking soda but the “1/” was inadvertently left out.)

So there I was stuck with cakes that WAY over-rose and then sank miserably low in the centers due to all the lost batter. But I’ve fixed many a cake (as has my mom—as she was quickly reminding me) with frosting. Frosting can glue a broken cake layer back together, even out a crooked cake and more. But as the cakes came out of the pans, oh my…


Some chunks literally fell off as the layers cooled. The cake was so tender it was crumbling apart in my hands.

As I was saying, “I don’t think frosting can fix this!!” my husband walked in, glanced at the mess, and flippantly said, “Just make trifle.”


So when life brings you lemons, make lemonade. And when life brings you a failed cake disaster, make a beautiful trifle!


What do you want this new year to bring?

What do you want for this new year? What are your goals?

Are you trying to eat healthier? Live more naturally? Keep to your budget?

Lose weight? Provide more wholesome, nourishing meals for your kids?

Goals are wonderful things! They propel us forward. They cast a vision and direction for us to move in. We all need goals or we naturally will spin our wheels and progress nowhere.

It’s easy to throw out noble goals; it’s hard to set realistic goals.

A Few Thoughts On Setting Goals

  • Write them down. If you don’t write your goals down and post them somewhere, you likely will quickly forget you made those goals. Post your goals on your fridge or bathroom mirror, write them in your journal, or set reminders on your phone to ding at the beginning of each week. However you want to set your goals before you regularly, do so. Seeing them in front of you physically will help you keep them in front of you mentally, which will aid your efforts to reach those goals.
  • Keep it simple. Tackle just one or two goals at a time. If you reach them early you can always set more! But one of the quickest ways to fail at reaching your goals is to set too many. Better to succeed at one than fail at many.
  • Be specific. “Eat healthier” is far too vague. What does it mean? Far better goals would be “Get rid of processed food” or “Eat 5 vegetables every day” or “Limit myself to one dessert a week.” Those are clear, specific actions you can take. Specific goals are also very easy to assess. Did you “eat healthier” this year? Um, I think so…maybe? But did you “Get rid of processed food?” Yes! My pantry, fridge and freezer are full of unprocessed, natural foods. Did you “Limit yourself to one dessert a week?” Yes, 45 weeks out of the 52 I did!

Once you have your goals, look for resources to help you change and reach those goals.

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, of which I am an affiliate, is one such resource. Packed with a ton of e-books, e-cookbooks, printables, classes, bonus products and more, it’s chock full of useful and inspiring material to help you meet your healthy living goals. Wondering what’s included in this bundle?

  • Essential Oils? Check.
  • Menu planning and grocery shopping, including eating organic and quality food on a budget? Check.
  • Natural skincare and natural remedies? Check.
  • How to become a better cook? Check.
  • Recipes for whole food meals, including make-aheads, gluten and allergy-free? Check. Check. (There’s A TON!)
  • Natural pregnancy and birth and raising children naturally? Check.
  • Losing weight and getting fit individually or as a family? Check.
  • Gardening, homesteading and raising chickens? Check.
  • Natural cleaning? Check.

And there’s still more! That’s why it is called the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle…because it is. It truly covers all the bases.

This resource designed to help you meet your healthy living goals is only available until midnight tonight (EST). So don’t wait!

Buy it right now and use it to start meeting your new year’s goals. At $29.95, you’ve got very little to lose. (And actually, you won’t lose, you only stand to GAIN!)

Make 2015 the year you make a change for the better.