Friday, January 31, 2014


I made this recipe because when our family goes out to eat at our favorite little Italian restaurant this is what my husband and my boys order. Every time, without fail. So I figured I could make it and (probably) make it better! 

The Stromboli was okay. It was a little dry and what I failed to remember (and the recipe did not mention) was that the Stromboli my family orders comes with a side of Marinara sauce (DUH) so next time I make this (along with my tweaks) I will be serving it with some Marinara on the side!

Dough rolled out on baking sheet

 Stromboli (original recipe)

1 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon oil
1 egg
3 - 4 cups bread flour

Mix all ingredients together in a mixer (I used my Kitchen-Aid) or by hand. Form into a ball.
Grease a baking sheet (11 x 15).
Roll dough out to cover pan.

Butter mixture spread on dough
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 egg yolks (save the whites)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together and spread on the center of the dough almost to the ends.

Can really be whatever your family likes this is what I used
1 pound hamburger
1 sweet onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brown hamburger along with onion, pepper, and tomato. Cook until hamburger is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Drain (WELL).
Stuffing mixture spread out on dough
Place hamburger mixture on top of butter mixture. Add cheese on top of hamburger mixture.
Fold both sides of the dough up over the toppings and cheese and crimp together.
Brush with egg whites and bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Cheese added to hamburger mixture

Dough folded and brushed with egg whites

Baked Stromboli

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Managing My Day

I am reading a book by Heidi St. John called "The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight".

Heidi (I can call her by her first name because we bonded. She gave me a sticker.) was a speaker at the homeschool convention my husband I went to a few weeks ago here in Orlando Florida. And I adore her. I went to two of her talks and then stopped by her booth a few times too. She made me laugh. She made me cry. She made me want to be a better wife. A better mother. A better homeschooler. She put conviction in my heart. But she also encouraged me.

This book is so full of great advice and wisdom (and I'm only on page 26)! When I was reading today one of the lines that she wrote struck me to my very heart and soul. Heidi said that the key to managing my day is really just learning to manage me!

I struggle with getting everything done! I struggle with getting half of everything done! Some days I struggle with getting anything done! And yet when I look back over the day I had plenty of time to check Facebook, read blogs, write a post for my own blog, play a few games on my phone, check Pinterest, and talk on the phone. However, I did not have to time to clean the kitchen, switch the laundry, plan my lessons for next week, bake cookies, or play a game with the kids. HOW SAD IS THAT!

I very obviously have no idea how to manage me!

But that is going to stop! I have tried numerous things (FlyLady, Managers of Their Homes, A House that Cleans Itself). I am always looking for that amazing formula that if and when I follow it will educate my children, clean my house, cook all the meals, take care of the laundry, and perhaps leave me with the energy to spend time with my husband at the end of the day. I think what (my new friend) Heidi is telling me (and I think she is 100% correct) is that their is no system, no magic wand, and no book that will do all of those things for me. I have to do them myself! And I cannot do them if I'm on Facebook, or Pinterest, or reading blogs, or playing games, or anything else for that matter.

So I'm going to start managing my time by managing ME! Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cheesy Potatoes

This recipe came from my Aunt Pamela. These potatoes are a staple at every holiday and family gathering. And we love them! They are simple to make with simple ingredients and they taste great!

Cheesy Potatoes (recipe courtesy of my Aunt Pamela)
Cheesy Potatoes

2 pounds frozen hash browns (NOT THE SHREDDED TYPE, THE CUBED TYPE) (we prefer the larger cubed ones)
1 stick butter
1/2 pound Velveeta Cheese, cut into chunks
3 ounces mild shredded cheddar cheese
1 pint half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

Spray 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Put frozen potatoes in pan and allow to come to room temperature, should take about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Put stick of butter into saucepan and melt. Add the cheddar cheese and the cut up Velveeta cheese and let it melt. Then add the Half and Half and let it heat through, do not let it bubble. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour cheese mixture over potatoes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for one hour.

Take aluminum foil off, set oven to broil (500 degrees), raise the rack if you need too, and put potatoes under the broiler for 8 to 10 minutes.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why We Homeschool

My children have been homeschooled since birth.

They have never ridden on the big yellow bus. They have never eaten lunch in a school cafeteria. They have never had a bell dismiss them from one class to another. They have never gone to a school dance. They have never gone to a school sporting event or pep rally.

They have never been bullied. They have never been told that there was no time to go back over the problems and questions that they missed because there are 29 other students who are ready to move on to the next chapter. They have never had to raise their hand to go to the bathroom or to get a drink of water.

They have gone to school in their pajamas. They have taken the entire month of December off of school so they could celebrate Christmas. They have tried to cheat on a test and been caught (WOW we learned a lot that day).

We have cancelled lessons for the day and headed out the door to Walt Disney World simply because we could! We have put "normal" schoolwork on the back burner so that we could learn over 300 Bible verses and compete in state-wide Bible Quizzing tournaments. We have spent our family vacation at Homeschool Convention.

We have cried when long division did not make sense (even though we had gone over it 5 times in 5 days). And we have danced around the house and shouted with joy when long division finally made sense! Well, as much sense as long division makes.

We homeschool because NO ONE knows these precious, individual, masterpieces like their Daddy and I do. NO ONE cares about them more, loves them more, has invested more time, money, and energy into them as we have.

We homeschool because more than Latin, Algebra, Nouns and Verbs we want our children to know US and the GOD we serve.

We homeschool because we are called to do it! We believe in it!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meal Schedule


Breakfast at our house is a family meal! My husband is a mailman for the United States Postal Service and he does not leave the house until a little after eight in the morning. My children get up at seven and we have a breakfast all together. Nothing fancy (cause I am not a morning person) but in my humble opinion family breakfasts are less about the food and more about starting our day together.

Things to work on:
Cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast! I have a terrible habit of leaving the dishes until lunch (OK sometimes they get left until dinner).


This meal is just me and the kids (one of the many joys of homeschooling, lunch with my children). Hubby is at work (eating a lunch that I packed him) and so the children and I stop our school day at Noon and eat lunch together. Again, nothing fancy because it needs to be quick. The children have a half hour to eat and then a half hour of free time so we make lunch quick and simple.

Things to work on:
Cleaning up after lunch! I have a terrible habit of leaving the dishes until dinner. Do you see a pattern here!?


That is where it usually begins to fall apart! I am tired! It has been a very long day! The kitchen is a MESS (from the breakfast and lunch dishes that never got done). Hubby is working late (I'm thankful for the overtime but I procrastinate dinner and now I'm too tired to actually make it). And so I have hubby grab McDonald's on the way home. FAILURE! We still eat together but I hate that we have spent money we don't have, I hate that my children are not eating things that are healthy, I hate that I failed them again!

Things to work on:
Sticking to my menu and cooking dinner EVERY SINGLE NIGHT WITHOUT FAIL! Cleaning up the kitchen as I work and cook so that I will not be in there for an hour after dinner is over or not be in there at all and wake up to a dirty kitchen (not that that would ever happen).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Amish White Bread

Amish White Bread
This is our favorite homemade sandwich bread. I try and make all of our bread myself and this recipe (along with my bread machine) make it very easy for me to do that.

Amish White Bread (original recipe from 50's Housewife)

1 cup warm water
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour (I only use bread flour when making any type of bread)
1/3 cup sugar, heaping
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon dough enhancer (I buy this in Amish Country in Ohio)
4 teaspoons wheat gluten (this can be found at Wal-Mart by the flour)

Flour used as a barrier between wet and dry ingredients
 Add water, salt, and vegetable oil to bread pan.

Then use your bread flour to create a barrier between the yeast and the liquid ingredients.

Add sugar, yeast, dough enhancer and wheat gluten.

I use the basic dough setting on my bread machine and walk away. I DO NOT BAKE MY DOUGH IN MY BREAD MACHINE!

After the dough cycle is complete I take the dough from the bread machine, knead it a few times on the counter (to remove some of the bigger air pockets)  and place it in the baking pan.

I then place the bread in the microwave for its second rise (I have found the microwave to be the best place to let bread rise). I let the bread rise about 30 minutes and then preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the bread continues to rise.

Risen dough ready for the oven
Once the oven is heated and the bread has risen to about 1 to 2-inches above the pan. I then bake the bread for 30 minutes.

Baked bread cooling off before slicing

Take the bread out of the oven and remove it from the pan. Let it cool ALL THE WAY! And then I use an electric knife to slice the bread. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bread, Egg, and Potato Breakfast

Bread, Egg, and Potato Breakfast
I made this for breakfast on Sunday morning and it was very good. It took a little bit of prep work (I baked the potatoes on Saturday night and kept them in the refrigerator over night) but it was totally worth the extra effort.

I do have some changes in mind for the next time I make this (I will usually follow a recipe exactly the first time I make it and then start tweaking it each additional time that I make it). But here is the recipe in it's (almost) original form:

Cut up baked potatoes

Bread, Egg and Potato Breakfast (original recipe) 

4 Baked Potatoes, cut into small bites (I did not peel the potatoes and I think they held up better in the pan because of that)
1/2 cup butter
3 pieces bread, torn into bite size pieces
6 eggs, lightly whisked together
salt and pepper to taste

Fried potatoes and bread

Melt butter in skillet and fry potatoes until lightly browned.

Add the bread and toss with the potatoes. If bread is not moist enough you may need an extra tablespoon of butter (I did not need this). Fry for several minutes.

Add salt and pepper to whisked eggs and then add eggs to potato mixture. Cook until eggs are done.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Perfect Baked Potatoes

This is the recipe I use every time I need baked potatoes, either to eat as Baked Potatoes (DUH) or if I have a recipe that calls for baked potatoes. These actually live up to their name as "Perfect"!
Perfect Baked Potatoes
Perfect Baked Potatoes (original recipe by Alton Brown)

Large Russet Potatoes
Canola Oil (I just use whatever oil I have, just not Olive Oil)
Kosher Salt (This is IMPORTANT)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in middle and bottom of oven. Wash potatoes. Then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking.


Place in a shallow bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt! Do not be stingy with the salt!

Potatoes coated in oil
Potatoes with oil and salt

Potatoes in the oven ready to cook

Place potatoes directly on the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.

Bake for 1 hour or until skins feel crisp but flesh beneath feels soft.

Baked Potatoes
Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with a fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another (this works every time). The potato will pop right open and look just like the potatoes you are served in restaurants.


I also wanted to let you know that I updated the Baked Oatmeal post. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip sea salt cookies
These cookies are SO VERY GOOD!
Trust me you have to make these cookies!
Go ahead, go and make them!
I will be waiting right here for you to come back and thank me!
And you will come back and thank me!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies (adapted from

1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 bag (12 ounces) Mini Chocolate Chips
Sea Salt Flakes


Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a stand mixer (a hand mixer will work too) beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. I beat them together for 4 minutes (trust me it is worth it).
Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
Stir the flour, baking soda and salt (regular salt) in a separate mixing bowl.
Slowly add the flour to the butter/sugar mixture until combined.
Stir in the oats and the chocolate chips, mixing well.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet (I use a pampered chef baking stone).
Press down each cookie and top with a few flakes of salt (I use my finger to push the salt down into the dough).
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool and serve.

This dough freezes very well. You can drop by rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet and then freeze the dough for several hours. Remove the cookies and place in a zipper bag. The dough can be frozen for up to 3 months (not that it has ever lasted that long in this house).
When you are ready to bake take them from the zipper bag, place on a cookie sheet and let them thaw out and then continue on with pressing the cookie down and adding the sea salt and baking.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

First Published Article!

I have been published!

Words fail to describe the excitement and joy that I am feeling!

Here is the website.

Here is the article:

It’s a typical Saturday in Florida. The beaches are packed, and the amusement parks are crowded. Tourists are on vacation, and Floridians hustle about their day running errands, enjoying the sunshine, and living their lives.
But in a little church in a Florida town, there is a gathering that has gotten the attention of Heaven. A group of young people has gathered from all across the state to fellowship and Bible quiz! Parents have taken time off work, coaches have driven vans loaded with kids, and quizzers have invested their time into learning Scripture. It’s fun, exciting, and it’s competitive.
As the first teams sit at the quiz table, a hush falls across the room, and a hush falls across the throne room of Heaven, too. The angels stand ready around the throne. Even the cherubim are silent on this morning. And then it happens. A question is read, and a buzzer is hit. A small voice begins to quote the Word of God in tentative hesitation. The angels stand a little taller, the streets of gold appear to shine a little brighter, and Jesus Himself begins to smile as His precious little child begins to utter words that have saved the souls of men.
The answer is finished—and whether ruled correct or incorrect—Heaven does not know because the angels begin their thunderous applause, and the cherubim once again take up their cry of “holy, holy, holy.” All of Heaven shouts and rejoices… until the start of the next question.

Melissa lives in Winter Garden, Florida, with her husband of 18 years. They homeschool their three children, who are all involved with Bible quizzing. Melissa and her family attend The Pentecostals of Apopka and are so thankful for all of God’s blessings in their lives.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Baked Oatmeal

We call this "Oat Bread" in our house and when the kids find out I'm making it their screams wake the neighbors.

It is a quick and easy breakfast! Probably not the healthiest thing to fix (which is why I do not make it that often) but for special occasions and just a fun treat it cannot be beat.

Now I will say that my husband does not like this recipe. He thinks that it is way too sweet to start the day with. And so I have experimented with using the leftovers as a dessert.

Baked Oatmeal

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups oatmeal (I use instant)
1 cup milk
Any mix-ins that you want (I typically make this sweet, using nuts, chocolate chips, M&M's, things like that)

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a greased 9" x 13" pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 You can make this recipe "healthier" but replacing the chocolate and candies with nuts and fruits. But I am pretty sure my children would run away from home if I did that!

UPDATED: I experimented this morning and I was able to get this mixed up and ready to go into the oven before the oven preheated! So I would say that it is a super quick "special" breakfast!
I made Smores Oat Bread this morning! I mixed in mini-marshmallows and some semi-sweet chocolate chunks. It was very good and the kid's loved it! 

Shared with:
Saturday Night Fever Recipe Link Party

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lazy Sunday Casserole

Made this a few days ago for dinner (even though it was not Sunday). So I am going to change the name to Lazy Day Casserole. It was however a dreary rainy day and this casserole fit perfectly with the "cave day" we were having. Do not let the "Lazy" part of this recipe fool you, it is not "Lazy" because it's quick!

I have already put this on the menu to make again and I have some "tweaks" that I will be doing the next time.

Everyone liked this recipe, and I think you could adjust the vegetables to fit your families taste. I however would not recommend skipping the carrots as they were absolutely amazing!

Lazy Day Casserole (original recipe)

4 sausages (I used smoked sausage)
1 pound of potatoes
1/2 pound of carrots (I am doubling this next time and using baby carrots to save on time)
1 bell pepper
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Peel the potatoes, wash and cut each potato into bite-size pieces. Peel onion and slice. Slice bell pepper into strips. Peel and cut carrots into bite size pieces. Put carrots, potatoes, onion, and bell pepper into sprayed baking dish.

Use a bowl to combine the olive oil, Italian herbs, minced garlic, and chicken broth. Pour over the vegetables. Toss them around to make sure the broth gets everywhere. Season with a generous amount of black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir again!

Cover the tray with aluminum foil and put it in the preheated oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes the potatoes and vegetables should be fork tender. If they’re not, cover the tray with the foil and pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes. If they are fork tender, place the sausages in the pan and add the balsamic vinegar. Stir to make sure the vinegar coats all vegetables.

Place the tray back in the oven, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Take it out after 15 minutes, and stir to make sure that the juices lurking at the bottom coat all the vegetables and sausages. Put it back in the oven for the remaining time, or until everything is nice and brown.

I served this with homemade buttermilk biscuits!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Apple Pie

Apple Pie with a scoop of ice cream
I made this pie for my sweet husband on our wedding anniversary. It is not a "traditional" apple pie but it was pretty tasty. I do have some "tweaks" I am going to be trying the next time I make it. I thought the pie was Okay. My husband and my children LOVED it. Some of them ate it cold with ice cream and some had me warm it up with ice cream.

Apple Pie (Original Recipe) 

1 recipe for a 9-inch double pie crust 
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (the recipe calls for Granny Smith but I used Fuji, I think next time I will be trying it with the Granny Smith)

Sugar mixture simmering

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour to form a paste. Add water and sugars. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer. (I did make sure to stir this occasionally).

Mounded apples
 Place the bottom crust in your pie pan. Fill with apples, mounded in the middle. Cover with a lattice work crust (this is important) and make sure that the gaps in your crust are LARGE!

Gently and SLOWLY pour the sugar mixture over the crust making sure that it gets into the pie through the gaps in the lattice work. DO NOT LET IT RUN OFF THE PIE!

Notice the large gaps in the lattice work!
Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, or until apples are soft.

Finished apple pie
 MAKE SURE YOU PUT A COOKIE SHEET ON THE RACK UNDER THE PIE OR YOU WILL HAVE A MESS. Do not ask me how I know this, just take my word for it.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Homemade Pie Crust

Homemade pie crust
This is a simple homemade pie crust recipe. It is the only one I have ever used so if you think you have a better one let me know! I have made this a few times and it is easy and tastes great.

Homemade Pie Crust (original recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold (I leave mine in the refrigerator until I am ready for them)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1 cup water and add a few ice cubes, set aside.

Butter cut into flour mixture
Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. I then put my four mixture into my Kitchen-Aid mixer and dice up my two sticks of VERY COLD butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add the butter to the flour mixture. Then on medium speed  (using the paddle attachment) I mix the flour and butter mixture until the butter pieces are the size of peas (it is okay if all the pieces are not the same size).

Start drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (NOT THE CUBES) over the flour mixture. Keep the mixer on slow to medium speed and continue to add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough gathers together into a ball.

Dough mixed up and ready for the refrigerator
Divide the dough in half and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the sides of the plastic wrap to shape the dough into a disk. And then let the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour but preferably two.

After two hours you can roll the dough out for your pie crust. I do let me dough sit out on the counter for about 2 to 3 minutes before I begin to roll it out. Just to take the chill off and make it easier to work with BUT NO LONGER THAN A FEW MINUTES!

Refrigerated dough

This dough will keep in the refrigerator for about a week (WRAP IN A DOUBLE LAYER OF PLASTIC WRAP).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Homemade Garlic Herb Bread

Pretty Garlic Herb Braid
This is one of our favorite garlic breads. I love that, thanks to my bread machine, this recipe is quick and easy. I also love that it makes a big enough loaf that we have leftovers (that are just as good the next day), which does not happen very often around here with any kind of food but especially not bread.I also love that it is pretty! I'm a girlie girl and pretty things make me happy!

My husband and my children love the taste! That's it just the taste. But since it's food I guess that is all that really matters (at least to them).

Homemade Garlic Herb Braid (adapted from Taste of Home)

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dill weed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon minced onion, I use the kind you find in the spice isle
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, again I use the kind found in the spice isle
4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour
3 heaping tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 to 2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a bread machine add water, 1/4 cup butter (melted), egg, milk, all the spices. Then add your flour to create a barrier between your wet ingredientes and your dry ingredients. Then add your sugar and yeast.

You are going to want the bread machine to knead the dough for about 10 minutes and then you are going to want it to rest for about 10 minutes.

Then you will divide the dough into thirds. Shape each piece into a 15-inch rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet (I use an ungreased baking stone) and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter. Move to a wire rack to cool.