Posted in Foodie Pen Pal

Foodie Pen Pal – September Edition

This month we followed a different format.  Instead of being paired up with two people (one who bought and sent to me and the other I bought for and then sent the box), we were paired with one other person.  We bought and sent to each other.  

This month, I was paired with Jessica who lives in Mississippi.  She had never been to Ohio and I have never been to Mississippi.  I sent her a box of my usual goodies,  One of which is the Triple Treat Granola.  All 3 times that I’ve sent that granola, the recipient loved it.  

Okay onto what Jessica sent me:

Thank you Jessica for the great box!

Posted in Apples, breakfast, DIY, Imaginative one, Ingredients, Recipes, Side Dishes, Snacks

Homemade Applesauce

I’m so proud of myself.  Today we were given a chance to go apple picking at one of our fellow church member’s houses.  We could take as much as we wanted, which is totally cool.  The Imaginative One is a fussy eater but loves his apples and applesauce.  So I jumped at the chance.

We picked a lot of apples and made memories with the boys.  The Imaginative One was stung by a bee but was happy because the apples were absolutely delicious.  That made up for his finger being stung.

Once we got home, I washed some of the less attractive ones.  Then I peeled and cut them into smaller pieces.  I placed it into one of my bigger pots, covered the apples with water, and cooked them for half an hour.  The boys helped me puree the apples in the blender for a smoother applesauce.  The end result was a delicious applesauce.

So why am I proud of myself.  I made homemade applesauce that I knew the boys would eat.  I made memories with the boys.  We picked the apples, and within 2.5 hours, I had applesauce.  That is why I’m proud of myself.

Homemade Applesauce


Stars of the recipe:

  • 3 to 4 pounds of apples, peeled and quartered (or cut smaller)
  • cinnamon to taste or cinnamon sticks
  • water
  • sugar to taste (1/4 to 3/4 c.)


  1. Wash, peel, and cut apples.
  2. Place in a big pot and then cover with water.  Sprinkle with cinnamon or put in the cinnamon sticks.
  3. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on to high.
  4. Allow the water to boil, and then turn it to medium-low.
  5. Cook until the apples are tender.
  6. Either use a food mill or a blender to puree the apples.  (We used the blender.  When we did, we used the apples and some of the cooking water.)
  7. Place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar to taste.
  8. Enjoy warm or cooled down.

Printable Recipe

Posted in Dessert, Ingredients, Recipes, zucchini

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

The Imaginative One hates zucchini so much that when I asked him to pick one up at the local farmer’s market, he refused to touch it.  He also refused to taste this cake because he felt I put zucchini in it.  He forgot there was a possibility later in the week and ended up trying it.  He still didn’t like it.

Don’t let his dislike of the cake and zucchini discourage you from trying this delicious cake.  He is such a fussy eater.

I really enjoyed this cake.  In fact, I took pieces of it as a lunchtime treat.  It is so yummy!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

adapted from Finding Joy in My Kitchen.


Stars of the recipe:

  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/6 c. oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk (I used 1/2 c. milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Cloves (Instead of cinnamon and cloves, I used Chinese 5 spices.)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 – 1/3 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 C. shredded zucchini (I patted it dry with a paper towel to remove some of the liquid.)
  • 1 c. chocolate chips


  1. Cream together, applesauce, oil, and sugars.  (If you don’t have buttermilk, make the milk and vinegar mixture.  Allow it to curdle.)
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Add the eggs and sour milk or buttermilk to the sugar applesauce mixture.
  4. Then gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.  Stir to combine.
  5. Add the zucchini.  And then stir it until incorporated.
  6. Pour into a greased 9 by 13 pan, and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cake.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Posted in Ingredients, Pumpkin, Recipes

Homemade Pumpkin Butter

We love eating different jams, jellies, and fruit butter around here.  It’s usually just Hubby and me that do that.  Sometimes the Wee One will also try a new flavor of jelly.  The Imaginative One loves only grape jelly, and don’t you dare try to get him to eat something different.  He’s not adventurous with his eating.

I had bookmarked this recipe last year and refound it today.  Since I was going to the grocery store, I got all the ingredients and made a batch.  Yum!   And easy!!!

Homemade Pumpkin Butter


Adapted from Skinny Taste

Stars of the recipe:

  • 29 oz. can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie blend)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract (omitted it, and it was fine)
  • 3/4 c. apple juice or cider (I used cider.)
  • 2 – 3 cinnamon sticks (I used Chinese 5 spice, so I omitted this.)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 -2 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice, to taste (I used Chinese 5 spice instead.)


  1. Combine the ingredients in a med. to lrg. Size saucepan.  Stir well.
  2. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook it for 30 to 45 minutes.  Stirring frequently.
  4. If needed, add more spices.
  5. Enjoy the pumpkin butter on your favorite bread, biscuit, or oatmeal!  (I’ll share what I did with mine later.)

Printable Recipe

I froze 1/2 of the pumpkin butter, and the other I put in the fridge to eat on my fav. Ciabatta bread.

Posted in Apples, Dessert, Ingredients, Oatmeal, Pecans, Recipes, Walnuts

Individual Five Spice Apple Crisp

Last November, my foodie pen pal introduced me to Chinese five spice and suggested I use it in some of my fall time recipes instead of pumpkin pie spice blend. The five spice really does take it up a notch. If you didn’t know, the Chinese five-spice blend is cinnamon, star anise, white pepper, cloves, and fennel. It’s primarily used in Chinese cooking but is found in other cuisines.

With fall around the corner and the pumpkin spice latte already at Starbucks, it’s time to start my favorite flavor season. I love fall flavors! Apples, cranberries, and pumpkins, oh my goodness, deliciousness. Cinnamon is my favorite spice. So if asked, my favorite seasons are the transition seasons – fall for its bold flavors and spring for its beauty.

I got some apples from one of our local produce stands, so I made myself an apple crisp. Since the boys do not eat apple crisps, I decided to make my own. Instead of using cinnamon, I used the Chinese Five Spice.

Individual Five Spice Apple Crisp

Before cooking the crisp
Before cooking the crisp

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 c. glass dish
  • 1 med. Apple seeded and diced (peeled if you want to)
  • 2 tsp. Chinese Five Spice (1 tsp. and 1 tsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 Tbsp. butter, cut into fourths or halves
  • Optional:  2 Tbsp. Pecan or walnuts for topping


  1. Spray your glass dish with cooking spray.
  2. Add the apples to the dish. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tsp, of Chinese five spice.
  3. In another dish, mix the oats, brown sugar, and the other tsp. of Chinese five spice.
  4. Evenly distribute the oat mixture over the apples.
  5. If you are using nuts on top, sprinkle those on top of the oat mixture.
  6. Place the pats of butter over the oat mixture.
  7. Microwave for 2.5 to 3 minutes. Be careful, it will be hot.
  8. Top with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
  9. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Posted in breakfast, Granola, Ingredients, Recipes, Yogurt

Yogurt Parfait

A few weeks ago, I posted about 6 easy breakfasts.  One of the breakfasts I talked about was fruit and yogurt parfaits.  It is so simple and quick to prepare.  Plus, it’s delicious to eat, and the flavors can be changed depending on your mood.

Yogurt Parfait

yogurt parfait
Gold rush granola
without granola

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. yogurt (flavored or plain – I eat Greek Gods nonfat plain Greek yogurt.)
  • 1/4 c. of your favorite cut-up fruit (I’ve been using my stone fruit salad.)
  • 1/4 c, of your favorite granola (Store bought or homemade)


  1. In a bowl or Mason jar, put the yogurt in the jar or bowl.
  2. Place the fruit on top of the yogurt.
  3. If you are not eating the parfait right away, pack the granola and put it on top of the yogurt and fruit before you eat.  If you are going to eat it right away, top it with granola.
  4. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Posted in Bread, breakfast, Breakfast for Dinner, Eggs, Imaginative one, Ingredients, Recipes

French Toast

My two love French toast cooked by Moi instead of from the freezer section.  The Imaginative One gets a headache with store-bought French toast/sticks.

French toast is simple to make, and you can try various loaves of bread.  I usually use sandwich bread, or if I want to make sticks, I’ll use Texas toast bread because it’s thicker.  When I made it on Saturday, I used ciabatta bread for Hubby, Imaginative One, and myself.  I used sandwich bread for the Wee One because he likes me to cut them into strips.

BTW:  Did you know ciabatta is Italian for slipper?

French toast

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 large egg for every 2 pieces of French toast
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. milk for every 2 pieces of French toast
  • 1 tsp cinnamon for every two pieces of French toast
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract for every two pieces of French toast
  • bread
  • toppings:  maple syrup, butter, fruit, powdered sugar


  1. Warm up a flat griddle pan (my favorite) or skillet over med. heat.
  2. In a flat wide pan, whisk together egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
  3. Using a fork or tongs, dip your bread into the egg mixture making sure to cover both sides.  (You may need to let it drip a little bit to get rid of excess egg before transferring it to your pan.)
  4. Spray your griddle pan or skillet with cooking spray.
  5. Transfer it to skillet or griddle pan.
  6. Allow it to cook until golden brown on both sides (3 to 4 minutes on the first side and 1 to 2 minutes on the second side.)
  7. Transfer to a plate.
  8. Enjoy with whatever toppings you like!

Printable Recipe

Posted in Family, Hubby, Imaginative one, Wee one

Our Super Trip ~ Day #9

Day 8

We planned to leave early on Saturday morning so we could get to the Georgia Aquarium at a decent time.  It usually closed at 9 pm, but on this particular Saturday, it closed at 6 pm.  😦

Before we left, the boys and I walked out to the beach.  The Wee One was crying because he did not want to leave the ocean.  The Imaginative One was looking for sea life while we were down there.

Finally, we got on the road and traveled to Georgia.  At one of the rest stops, I got a drink out of the vending machine but didn’t have enough on me to get the boys anything.  (It was in the car.)  A gentleman approached me with 2 dollars for the boys.  The Wee One used his dollar to get what he had his eye on.  The Imaginative One kept his money.

When we were almost to our destination, we got into a traffic jam.  There had been an accident.  Luckily we only to travel on I-75 for about a mile so we got out of it pretty quickly.  We’ve driven through Atlanta on the highway but never on the surface streets so it was neat to see a different side of Atlanta.

Once we got the hotel, we checked in and then walked through Centennial / Olympic Park to get to the Aquarium.  The line to get into the Aquarium was long even though we already had tickets.  Once we got to the front of the line, we realized it was because we needed to go through the metal detectors.

We loved the Aquarium!  Our favorite exhibits were the 3D show, the whale sharks, the beluga whale, the frog exhibit, and the dolphin show.

When we were done with the Aquarium, we once again walked through Centennial / Olympic Park but took extra time to enjoy our surroundings.  The funniest thing was seeing a man walking 6 dogs.  All 7 of them were wearing sunglasses.

Then we went to Waffle House for dinner.  We loved the service there.  Tracy (our server) made sure it was okay when the Wee One ordered a certain drink.  I thought that was great.

Afterward, we went back to the hotel for a little while.  We were going to ride the Ferris wheel that was across the way from our hotel.  However, we would have to wait for almost an hour and then pay $50.  That was not going to work with the boys.  They decided to go swimming, but the water was too cold.  So we went to bed.  The boys had a pull out to sleep on.  The trouble was it was single, so the Wee One slept curled at the top while the Imaginative One slept curled up on the bottom.

Click on the photograph of the dogs with sunglasses to see more pictures.