Slow Cooker Stew


While this stew may not be the most beautiful dish on the planet (you can blame the photographer), it makes a perfect supper for a chilly night served with biscuits hot from the oven. And since I know you are all very enthusiastic about slow cooking, I hope you’ll try it out!


Slow Cooker Beef Stew


  • 1 lb. stew beef, cut into small pieces
  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (11 oz.) condensed cream of celery soup
  • 1/2 c. red wine or tomato juice or sauce
  • salt and pepper


Peel potatoes (if desired) and dice potatoes, carrots, and onions. {You can sear the beef if you wish to add some good flavor.} Mix all ingredients together. Either cook in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours or in a 300 degree oven for 4 hours.

Cooking With Kids: Stovetop Popcorn

source: rilmara

The art of homemade popcorn is one that has fled with the simplicity of microwave popcorn. I remember fondly my mom popping kernels on the stovetop, then turning them into wonderful caramel corn in the oven. But from about middle school onward (and that was, oh, 20 years ago now), I don’t remember even having popcorn that wasn’t from a microwaved bag or the movie theater.

When I started being a little more aware of what we were putting into our bodies, however, I decided to bring stovetop popcorn back into my life. (Did you know there are PFCs in the lining of a microwaved popcorn bag, and one of the chemicals in the butter flavoring has been linked to Alzheimer’s?) This way you can control your own ingredients, not to mention change the toppings to your liking! And it’s a great snack to make with kids. Popcorn is a whole grain and has a lot of fiber, making it a healthy snack that seems indulgent.

Here’s the recipe and then we’ll talk about how your kids can help!

Stovetop Popcorn

  • 1/2 c. popcorn kernels
  • 1 T oil (I like to use coconut oil)
  • optional toppings: salt, melted butter, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, etc.
  • equipment: a large stockpot, aluminum foil
  1. Put oil in stockpot and heat over medium on the stove. When the oil is melted (if it’s a solid like coconut oil) or warm, add popcorn kernels.
  2. Cover stockpot with a layer of aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the foil to let steam escape.
  3. Shake the pot every few minutes until kernels start to pop. While it’s popping, shake continuously. When pops are 4-5 seconds apart, remove from heat.
  4. Season to taste and enjoy.

We like to sprinkle our popcorn with salt and then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of melted butter. For an even healthier snack, try a pinch of salt and a good sprinkle of nutritional yeast, which is full of B vitamins. (If you’re nursing, it’s also a galactagogue, increasing milk production!) Parmesan cheese is also tasty and is salty enough by itself usually.

My 4-year-old daughter will pour kernels into the pot and then help with toppings once the popcorn is cooked. An older child can do pretty much all of this by him or herself depending on his skill with the stove.

So pop some corn, pop in a movie, and your kids will think you’re pretty much the best parent ever.

(Psst: you can also make chemical-free popcorn in the microwave with just a brown paper lunchbag, too!)

Do you make popcorn at home?

25 Great Slow Cooker Recipes


original photo source: Breville via Flickr

It was obvious from the enthusiasm about our 25 Make-Ahead Breakfasts post that we all need some easy, go-to recipes! For busy families on-the-go, prepping beforehand is crucial. So I thought today I’d share 25 great slow cooker meals.

You can toss these in the slow cooker in the morning and have dinner waiting when you are ready for it. Better yet, prep as much as you can on a Saturday and freeze your meals in gallon-sized plastic zipper bags. Then you can just dump one in the slow cooker (defrosting it the night before is best, but usually not a deal-breaker) on your way out the door.

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Please share it in the comments!

  1. Chicken Tikka Masala
  2. Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew (vegan)
  3. Cream Cheese Chicken
  4. Stuffed Pepper Soup
  5. Pasta Fagioli Soup (vegetarian if you sub vegetable broth for chicken broth)
  6. French Dips
  7. Sesame Chicken
  8. Greek Chicken Pitas
  9. Balsamic Onion Pot Roast
  10. Bolognese Sauce
  11. Curried Pork Chops
  12. BBQ Chicken
  13. Cajun Stew
  14. Chicken and Cornmeal Dumplings
  15. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Lasagna Soup
  16. Korean Ribs
  17. Country Style Pork and White Beans
  18. Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
  19. Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers
  20. Texas Two-Step Stew
  21. Shrimp and Corn Chowder
  22. Cheesy Cowboy Casserole
  23. Paella
  24. Cranberry Chicken
  25. Chili


Make-Ahead Breakfasts for Back to School


Whether we’re homeschooling or sending our kids off to a private or public school – or anything in between – we all have one thing in common: we have a lot to get done in the morning and need to eat something, too!

Even though I don’t have kids in grade school yet, this year my daughter will be going to preschool three days a week, plus I have an active 2-year-old boy and a needy baby. On days when we just stay home, I still feel like it’s mania around here until about 9 a.m.

One thing that works for me is having breakfast made before the morning. I like making big batches and having options in the freezer; but I’ve also been known to make coffee cake or baked oatmeal the night before. Whatever works for you is what works!

So just for you, here are 25 make-ahead breakfast ideas to keep you from reaching for the cereal boxes every morning.

1. French Breakfast Muffins

2. Heart Healthy Apple Oat Bran Muffins

3. Broccoli Quiche Muffins

4. Basic, Easy Granola with Variations

5. Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

6. Giant Brown Butter Granola Breakfast Cookies

7. Pancake and Sausage Muffins

8. Breakfast Muffins

9. French Toast Sticks

10. Freezer Breakfast Burritos

11. McMom’s Breakfast Sandwiches

12. Zucchini Spice Muffins

13. Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

14. Slow Cooker Oatmeal with Apricots and Buttermilk

15. Pumpkin Pie Waffles

16. No Sugar Oat Drops

17. Mini Cinnamon Rolls

18. Ham, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Cups

19. Grain-Free Berry Breakfast Cobbler

20. Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

21. Apricot Breakfast Bars

22. Bacon Cheddar Scones

23. Cranberry, Nutmeg, and Vanilla Breakfast Cake

24. Lemon-Lime Breakfast Rolls

25. Banana and Blueberry Pancakes

Bon Appetit, friends! What’s your favorite breakfast?



photo source: Jeremy Kunz

Cold Treats for Hot Days

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Tennessee it is HOT. After an on-and-off Spring (is it Summer? is it Winter?) it’s finally dived into true, humid summer in the South.

Licking popsicle drips on a hot Summer afternoon is a happy memory every child should have! Here are some ideas for easy to treats to make at home. Popsicle molds are very inexpensive and a worthwhile purchase for parents.

Popsicles are also a great way to get some extra nutrients into your kids. Mine will happily suck on popsicles made only with fresh fruit and fruit juices. You can even stick in a handful of spinach when they’re not looking. Dark berries like raspberry, blackberry, or strawberries will usually cover the green color from the leafy greens.

Homemade popsicles are so much more healthy than store-bought ones made with food coloring and corn syrup. Here are a few recipes to inspire you! (Subscribers will need to click through to see Pinterest embeds.)

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Popsicles from Carrots & Chocolate

Honeydew-Raspberry Popsicles at Kitchen Simplicity

Raspberry Cheesecake Popsicles at The Novice Chef

Healthy Strawberry Popsicles at Vanderbilt Wife

What’s your favorite kind of popsicle or frozen treat?

Make It With Your Kids: Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Let’s be upfront about this: these cupcakes have no redeeming qualities when it comes to nutrition. They are made with boxed cake mix, boxed pudding mix, soda, and whipped topping. Just so you’re warned!

But every once in awhile I think it’s OK to slide on my “real foods” morals and make something because it’s easy. These are great to make with kids for a few reasons:

  • Only two ingredients in the cupcakes and four in the icing.
  • Cupcakes are fun to eat and easier than slices of cake.
  • Because there are no eggs in the batter, you can let your child lick the bowl without guilt. Or do it yourself.
  • Lemon is yummy.
  • This makes 24 cupcakes without a giant mess, huge ingredient list, or time-consuming steps.

So gather your little ones in the kitchen and bake!

Lemon Cupcakes

  • 1 lemon cake mix
  • 12 oz. lemon-lime soda
  • 8 oz. whipped topping (Cool Whip)
  • one box instant lemon pudding mix
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  1. Line muffin tins with muffin papers. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Mix together cake mix and soda until batter is smooth. Fill muffin papers about halfway with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until done.
  3. Meanwhile, fold together whipped topping, pudding mix, and lemon juice until uniform. Add milk and stir for 1-2 minutes. Scoop frosting into a large ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. When cupcakes are completely cool, push frosting down and to one side of the baggy. Snip corner off the baggy to make a pastry bag. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Decorate with lemon zest or sprinkles – or anything you can find in the fridge!

Basically any recipe where kids can dump and mix are great for cooking together. Here are some other recipes I like to bake with my kids:



Friday Links 11/16

I’m bypassing good parenting and going straight to Thanksgiving this week for links. So, please share! What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Does This Superwoman Cape Make Me Look Fat? by Laura Coppinger

Off duty

Hello, my name is Laura, and I’m a homemaker. I’m also a wife, a mom, and a writer. I make most of our food from scratch, grow a large garden, and preserve a good portion of our food for the year. I homeschool our four sons. I have company over regularly. I’m in charge of one of our local health food co-ops. I cut my family’s hair.

I also worry too much, yell at my kids sometimes, don’t always make time each day to read my Bible, have a messy minivan, and I can’t remember how to thread my sewing machine. The chair in my bedroom is covered with clothes that need to be hung up, I can never find a pen, and I haven’t taught my youngest son to tie his shoes. I often have overdue library books, my refrigerator needs to be cleaned out, and I’m terrible about returning phone calls.

Some might look at all the great things I do each day and think I have it all together. I beg to differ. Any time I have tried on any of the varieties of Superwoman capes available, none of them seem to fit me right. They’re either too tight, too short, too bright, or they’re so long that I tripped over it when I try to wear it and fall flat on my face.

Each of us has our own God-given strengths and our human-based weaknesses. What I’m good at, you may not be, and what you’re good at I may just have to admire from afar.

Trying to be a Superwoman doesn’t work for me. The cape doesn’t fit.

How about letting God use us to be the best woman we can be for Him? Now that’s a plan that’s a one size fits all.

Laura Coppinger is featured in the November 2010 ParentLife on pages 18-21. She writes and shares recipes at Here’s one of her excellent, "real food" recipes she shared with us!



Apricot Breakfast Bars
© Laura Coppinger

1 cup butter
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1½ cups rolled oats
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup sesame seeds
¾ cup dried apricots

Melt butter and honey together. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and add baking soda, salt, vanilla, buttermilk, and eggs. Stir in flour, oats, coconut, and sesame seeds until well combined. Cut dried apricots into small bites (I usually cut mine into fourths). Fold apricot pieces into dough.

Bake in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. When completely cool, cut into 16 bars.

Variation — soaking grains (optional): Mix melted (and cooled) butter, buttermilk (with live cultures), flour, and oats thoroughly in a glass bowl. Cover and leave on the countertop overnight. In the morning, stir in remaining ingredients. Bake as above.

Laura’s Recommended Resources
Tropical Traditions
Weston A. Price Foundation®
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.