Strawberry Time!

I hope all of the Dads out there enjoyed their special day. We are so blessed to have such awesome Dads in our family from my own Mister to my brother, nephews and brother-in-law!  My own Dad is not here on earth to celebrate with us but he left me with many, many fond memories of a father who was always there for me, spending time with me and loving me unconditionally.  For more on the story of my inspirational Dad click here.

Here in Michigan it is strawberry time!  Since my oldest daughter was little, it has been a tradition to visit the local U-pick strawberry patch and pick strawberries for homemade jam!  I have tried various recipes over the years, but have settled on this no-cook freezer jam.  It is quick, easy and delicious.

There is a low-sugar pectin option, but I have had a hard time finding it in my area, so I opted for the full sugar option this year.

So in a few hours we went from this:

upick

to this!

Jam

I followed the recipe on the Ball pectin jar and multiplied the recipe by five.  I did this for two batches and made about 20 or so jars of jam.  Here is the recipe I followed:

Homemade Strawberry Jam (Ball Recipe):

1 2/3 cup hulled and crushed strawberries ( I used a potato masher to crush the strawberries doing about 4 cups at a time in a bowl.  You can crush to preference-I like small pieces of strawberries in the jam.)

2/3 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. Ball Real Fruit Instant Pectin

Directions:

1.Stir sugar and pectin in a bowl.

2.Add fruit, stir 3 minutes.

3.Ladle name into clean freezer jars and let stand 30 minutes.  Leave space at the time to allow for expansion during freezing. (I let mine stand overnight and then transferred to the freezer.)

There is nothing like opening a jar of homemade strawberry jam on a cold Michigan winter day and being reminded of the tastes of summer!  This has become a very special family tradition and we even got my brother to join us for this fun outing!  If you have not picked strawberries or made jam, I encourage you to give it a try.  It is a super easy and fun-filled family activity!

Hope you are enjoying this first week of summer!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

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I usually try to wash my hands with plain old soap and water to get rid of icky germs and try to avoid illness, but it is not always possible.  In an effort to try to avoid harsh chemicals, I decided to give this recipe for homemade hand sanitizer a go!  I’m not sure what magazine I clipped it out of, but the article references Kate Snow, a green-living expert and author.  It contains 4 simple ingredients, the aloe vera and witch hazel I found at a discount store and the essential oils at I picked up at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.  It was a super easy project and took me less than 10 minutes to whip up a batch.

1/2 cup pure aloe vera gel

1 1/2 tsp witch hazel

15 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender essential oil

I mixed it up in a glass bowl and then used a small funnel to fill one three ounce container.  It took a little tapping on the counter but it went in pretty easily.  I have to be honest, I wasn’t  in love with the smell at first.  I think the tea tree oil has a strong scent, but the lavender balances it out.  However, I’m willing to put up with the smell in order to avoid harsh chemicals.  The smell of the oils did seem to dissipate after a few minutes.  When I tested it out, it felt a little sticky at first, but I kept rubbing for a few seconds and it evaporated on my hands.

How about you?  Do you have any natural recipes you love?   I’m always looking for more natural chemical-free ideas.  We would love to hear from you!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

 

Power Granola

My family loves granola!.  They eat it in yogurt, with milk or just plain in a bowl for a snack.  I found this recipe for homemade granola and tried it out this week.  It was a hit with the family and of course I was very happy because it contains some super healthy ingredients!  It makes a mama’s heart sing when I see my family enjoying “good for you” food!

This recipe was very simple and easy!

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Power Granola- from my recipes.com

Ingredients

2 cups regular oats

1/3 cup ground flaxseed

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cooking spray

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine orange juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in oil and vanilla.
  4. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 10 minutes; stir well. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon granola into a bowl; stir in dried cranberries. Cool completely.
  5. Note: Store completely cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

*I have an electric oven and cooked it for the time listed above.  It turned out a little chewy so for crunchier granola I would probably add about 10 minutes to the cooking time.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 196
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Fat: 6.8g
  • Saturated fat: 0.7g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.2g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 3.3g
  • Protein: 4.1g
  • Carbohydrate: 32.5g
  • Fiber: 3.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
  • Iron: 1.5mg
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Calcium: 38mg

How are you starting off the year in a healthy way?  We would love to hear from you!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

 

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe

IMG_2918 dog treat

One rather furry friend that gives me daily inspiration is my little pup Louie.  This dog, with his sweet and loyal disposition, has been such a blessing to our family.  When I am having a bad day, he seems to sense it and is always there for a cuddle and some good old moral support!  For the pet lovers out there, you know exactly what I mean.  There is something about a pet that can calm your nerves and sooth your soul.

To reward him for his devotion to our family, I like to spoil my little guy and occasionally make him some homemade dog treats.  He is obsessed with peanut butter, so that is why I chose this particular recipe, but there are lots of other great recipes for dog treats on this website: www.bullwrinkle.com

This is a super easy recipe with only 4 ingredients!  You can use cookie cutters to make cute shapes, but for the sake of time, I usually use a pizza cutter to quickly make square sized treats!

IMG_2915 dog treat

Peanut Butter Puppy Poppers

2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder.  In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk, then add to dry ingredients and mix well.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead.  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.  Bake for 20 minutes on a greased baking sheet until lightly brown.  Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container.  It notes in the recipe that the treats burn easily, so depending on your oven, you may want to adjust the time. (I have found 20 minutes is perfect in my electric oven.)

Here is Louie, waiting ever so patiently for his treat!  He knows when I am cooking these and will hang out in the kitchen until they are done!

IMG_2916 dog treat

 

~Blessings,

Jen