Easy Chicken Salad and Lunch Prep

As I continue in my quest in not eating out, I have to conquer the worst meal of the day…..lunch. It’s not that I don’t like lunch, but it is that as a teacher my lunch time is usually used for other things. I am known to grab something in a bag or a box or run through a drive thru instead of a healthy lunch of real food.

Chicken salad is not something that I’ve been a fan of. I realize that there are about a million recipes for chicken salad out there and I really haven’t found one that works for me. It’s either too bland, too mushy, even too chicken-y (yes that’s a word!).

This recipe is one that I altered after trying several different other kinds. The main thing that works for me is the zip from the chili powder, the sweet from the grapes, and the crunch from the almonds. I eat this with crackers, or in a whole grain wrap. It’s not just my favorite, but it’s also a favorite of everyone in the house. I now have to hide it in the back of the fridge to be able to make it last.

My Chicken Salad….

My Chicken Salad….

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Diced Cooked Chicken Breast
  • 1/2 cup Green or Purple seedless Grapes, quartered
  • 1 Stalk Celery, trimmed, diced
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. slivered almonds

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken, grapes, and celery in a bowl.
  2. Combine with mayo and chili powder (add salt and pepper if desired)
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/28/my-chicken-salad/

3 Things you should think about before starting to homestead.

Because it is a Monday, I’m in a sucky mood. I know, I know, “suck” is a bad word that a lot of people don’t like, but that’s how I honestly feel about Mondays. It has nothing to do with my job, I love it. It’s just because I have a psychotic love affair with my weekends and by Monday I’m just feeling resentful that Saturday and Sunday have left me.

Speaking of suckage (if that’s not a word it should be), I was recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts, and they were talking about “embracing the suck”. The were talking about prepping, but I honestly feel that it could also apply to decisions regarding homesteading tasks.

Homesteading is super cool! I’m not going to lie. Raising bees, or chickens, or goats, harvesting beautiful bounty out of your garden, making your own clothes through knitting and crochet, making your own soap, going off grid, it’s all AHHHmazing! You should do it, you totally should! But before you jump in headfirst there are a few things that you should think about.

  1. Will I MAKE the time? No matter which aspect of homesteading you decide to take on, remember that it takes TIME. Do you have the time to devote to it? This is especially a question that you should ask yourself if you are going to grow veggies or herbs, or if you are thinking about raising animals.
  2. Do I really want to do this? The answer to this question is almost always a resounding YES, however, the question you should ask yourself is, “Will I want to do this a month from now? A year?” Homesteading is a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
  3. Am I ready to embrace the suck? This is the biggest question that you should think about. With all the cool and amazing things that come along with homesteading, are you ready to do the less cool things? Are you willing to weed your garden on a regular basis? Are you willing to tend to chickens (including wiping their butts? Yes this is something you will have to do), Are you willing to clean your hive frames after the season? Are you willing to get your hands dirty and add compost to your garden?

The fruit of your labors are going to be worth it, but are you willing to put in the work? If you answered yes to these questions then get busy and start today! If you aren’t ready to embrace the suck and make time just yet, then you can still homestead in small ways:

  • buy local produce
  • create home cooked meals with real food
  • garden in small containers
  • learn to knit, crochet, or sew
  • reduce your footprint (conserving energy, water, etc)

You don’t have to go all out to  be a homesteader, like I’ve said before it is a mind set.

Want to talk about it? Have questions? Come visit our Hough Family Homestead Facebook Page and join the conversation today!

Crock Pot Pork Loin and Butternut Squash

I have been struggling as of late. It’s that crazy nutso time of year for us called spring. With spring we have added responsibilities from the garden and the bees, but both of the girls are also in high school soccer and club volleyball. I noticed a few weeks ago that we had gotten into the slump of eating out WAY too much. I have always prided myself on the fact that we eat fresh and home-cooked meals 90% of the time, but we were barely hitting 50% because we were just so busy and honestly too tired to make dinner.

I reached out to some friends that have similar lifestyles to ours, as well as my facebook group for some ideas and I pretty much all got the same advice, suck it up.

Ok, ok, not in so many words, but the gist from everyone was to make the time, plan ahead, and make use of things like slow cookers, BBQ grills, and Instant Pots. I know this. I just didn’t want to. I stomped my feet around for a day or two, then pulled up my big girl boots and got crack – a – lackin’ in the kitchen.

I know why I didn’t want to eat at home, but I didn’t want to face it. We had all gotten bored with having the same cycle of food, yet I just was so tired and busy that I didn’t have the energy to come up with some new ones. Well, the rest of this month, I’ll be knocking your socks off with some great new easy, go-to, healthy recipes .

This recipe was a take on my Herb Encrusted Pork Loin, but one that could be done in the slow cooker.  I really haven’t liked to do pork loin in the slow cooker as I always thought it was super dry. After talking to a friend, she mentioned that if you sear the loin first, and then pour broth over it to cook (instead of water) it would help seal in the moisture! She was absolutely correct and I will honestly never cook a pork loin in the slow cooker any other way! The bonus with this recipe is that one side is already in the pot so it’s not too much more to think. I cracked open a jar of my home canned green beans and it was a perfect dinner for the 4 of us.

Crock Pot Pork Loin and Butternut Squash

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cubed Butternut Squash
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: kosher salt, black pepper, pumpkin pie spice, garlic powder
  • 1.5 lb. boneless pork loin rosast
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 quart chicken stock or bone broth
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened apple sauce

Instructions

  1. Place cubed butternut squash into slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings. Rub mixture all over pork loin; set aside.
  2. Heat Olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. When hot, add pork loin and brown on all sides. Place the pork on top of the butternut squash in slow cooker. Pour broth and applesauce over. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours.
  3. Remove cooked pork to a cutting board. Portion out and drizzle sauce over pork and squash.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/25/crock-pot-pork-loin-butternut-squash/

If you want more motivation and inspiration RIGHT.THIS.MINUTE, then here are a few resources that should help you find what you are looking for. Remember, recipes are just a guideline, they are not the gospel. Feel free to tweak and change things to make something that you know you’ll love.

The Healthy Make-Ahead Cookbook: Wholesome, Flavorful Freezer Meals the Whole Family Will Enjoy – $10.03 Paperback / $1.99 Kindle

The Make-Ahead Kitchen: 75 Slow-Cooker, Freezer, and Prepared Meals for the Busy Lifestyle – Paperback  $16.74 / Kindle $7.99

Make-Ahead Paleo: Healthy Gluten-, Grain- & Dairy-Free Recipes Ready When & Where You Are – Paperback $17.97 / Kindle $9.99

What is modern homesteading?

Welcome to the official launch of Hough Family Homestead! I’m so glad that you are here! Look around and become familiar with the site.  In the coming days and weeks you will find everything you need in order to start or to continue homesteading.

So what is ‘homesteading’? Is there is a difference between the homesteading of the 1800’s, the 1900’s and now. There is no question. So what we do now I call ‘modern homesteading’. To me, modern homesteading is making a home. It is also taking small steps towards being more independent of “the system” in whatever ways (large or small) you can.

What does ‘homesteading’ look like at my house?

We garden, preserve our harvest, beekeep, and I knit. But that’s not what it looks like for everyone. Some people container garden, have raised beds, or just completely have brown thumbs. Other homesteaders have animals such as goats, chickens, ducks, etc. Still others choose to only buy locally, make their own household supplies, or a combination of any of these. There is no “right” way to homestead. It’s how YOU want to make your home.

There are a few things that all homesteaders do have in common…..

  1. A homesteader is a person of action. They don’t know just say their going to do something, or think about it, they actually do it.
  2. A homesteader is a life long learner.  Homesteaders are always wanting to learn more, or learn something new.
  3. A homesteader is a servant. Homesteaders are stewards to the land, to animals, and are willing to help others (in their own family, friends, and community).
  4. A homesteader is a part of a community. Being a part of a community is a way to learn and to grow as a homesteader. Homesteaders tend to flock to one another because they feel that they can learn from one another.

As I’ve said many times to anyone who will listen, homesteading is a frame of mind, a philosophy, and a lifestyle. It’s not having a large garden, living off grid in the woods, or making your own clothes (but you sure can if you want to), homesteading can be done anywhere by anyone. If this sounds like you, stick around and visit a spell. We’ve got a lot of things to learn from one another.

Herb Encrusted Pork Loin (aka the recipe that gave me street cred)

We visit a warehouse store 4 times a year to stock up on bulk items. Often we pick up several large pork loins and cut them into 3 pieces each, cover them with freezer paper and save them in the freezer for later.

When I was learning to cook about 5 years ago I was that person who people delegated to bring paper products, drinks, ice, or the one thing that I could make which was homemade pizza.  I wanted to make something that was tasty, easy, and looked like a masterpiece. This was the recipe. It was seriously so easy, and gave me instant credibility with my family and friends.

Now it is a great go-to on a busy night. I can put it in the oven on my way out the door to pick up a kid and it’s done by the time I get home. Also, like the other night, when my previous idea was a complete and epic fail, it was something easy to pull together just in nick of time for dinner.

Herb Encrusted Pork Loin (aka the recipe that gave me street cred)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 pork loin (1.5 - 2 lbs)
  • 2 tsp of each: garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of each: salt, pepper, red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. In a small bowl mix all herbs.
  3. Spray pan or casserole dish with cooking spray.
  4. Place loin on pan and slather with olive oil.
  5. Rub herbs on oiled loin.
  6. Cook for 35-45 minutes or internal temperature is 145 degrees F.
  7. Allow the loin to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/14/herb-encrusted-pork-loin-aka-the-recipe-that-gave-me-street-cred/

 

 

 

Butter Butt Chicken

Sundays are busy days around our house. Sometimes it involves church, but usually it involves working at the farm, or just trying to catch up on housework and chores for the upcoming week. However I always take Sunday dinners very seriously. It is the one day of the week that we are all home and enjoy dinner at a decent hour, enter “Butter Butt Chicken”.

I subscribed to several food magazines and I love them. However I always get so frustrated because I don’t have the time or the money to put together most of those recipes. In addition, my family knows what they like to eat and are kind of creatures of habit. I like to take the recipes I find in the magazines and make them fit to our lives. While trying to name the recipe, my kids started asking for “Butter Butt Chicken”. They and pretty much everyone else thinks it is hilarious for some reason to shove the entire stick of butter….ahem….in the “cavity”.  Whatever you want to call it, it is scrumptious and looks like you have been slaving in the kitchen all day. An added bonus is the carcass makes a fantastic bone broth later on.

Butter Butt Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 medium young chicken
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • Rosemary, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper,
  • Cotton twine or string
  • 2 Large Onions
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  1. Unpackage and wash the chicken, be sure to clean out the inside (giblets, etc).
  2. Spray your pan (I use a cast iron skillet, but a casserole dish or anything simliar should work). Roughly chop two large white onion and place on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Place chicken on top of onions.
  4. Liberally place rosemary and garlic inside the cavity of the chicken (I use about 2 tbsp of garlic and 1 tbsp of rosemary, but you can get carried away here and it doesn't really matter).
  5. Shove the stick of butter inside the cavity of the chicken.
  6. Take cotton string/twine and tie back legs of chicken together.
  7. Sprinkle the outside of the chicken with season salt and pepper. Be liberal about it.
  8. Place pan in a preheated oven at 375.
  9. Cook for 45 minutes.
  10. Then open oven and turn the pan 180 degrees.
  11. Continue cooking for another 45 minutes.
  12. Remove chicken from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
  13. Use the mixture under the chicken as a 'gravy' if desired.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/14/butter-butt-chicken/

CrockPot Applesauce

These days there seems to be an InstaPot craze. I’m not into it. Nothing against it, it’s just not my thing right now. I really don’t have the time to learn something else right now, I’ve been kind of busy, Ha! However, my love is my Crock Pot. In my quest to eat right and to feed my family real food I was completely and utterly astonished at the labels of foods that I thought were good for them.  Lost of chemicals, added sugars, preservatives and in some cases I don’t even know. My entire family loves applesauce, but the old fashioned way of cooking the apples down and then mashing and then canning just honestly takes too much time.

A few years ago I started making apple butter to can. I never really thought much about applesauce at the time, however I a few months ago I had more apples than I could possibly eat so I decided to give it a whirl.

If you are thinking to yourself, “I’m not ‘Susie Homeaker’ or ‘June Cleaver’, I don’t have time to make my own damn applesauce!”. You are wrong! It is literally apples, water, and a few hours in the crockpot. You can either put the applesauce in the refrigerator, or do like I do and hot water bath can it.  I know where the it came from and what’s inside it and I am happy and proud to feed it to my family and friends.

CrockPot Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 24 apples (Red apples that are on the sweeter side)
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Peel, core, and chop apples.
  2. Place apples into the CrockPot.
  3. Pour 1 cup of water over the apples.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon over mixture (optional)
  5. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring about once an hour.
  6. Turn off CrockPot use immersion blender, or food processor to smooth.
  7. Place in container to place in refrigerate or place in hot jars to can in hot water bath. (Yields 2 quarts or 4 pints)
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/13/crockpot-applesauce/

Peanut Butter Cookie Mug Cake (Gluten Free, Low Sugar, Low Carb)

It’s 9:00pm at our house and the craving for something sweet it hitting in. B (my hubs) and I have been notorious for our sweet cravings after the kids are in bed. On occasion we have been busted by the girls for making something decadent and delicious after we thought that they were asleep. Once we started eating healthier this was something that we really missed. For a long time we would just ignore the cravings, drink some water and go to bed.

Where is the fun in that? So I researched and researched (aka Pinterest) to figure out what we could have. Most of the recipes were quite involved and took a lot of time, or ingredients that we just didn’t have or want to purchase ($$$). Enter the mug cake.  Anna often would peruse Pinterest to find them to make for her and her girlfriends during sleepovers. So I decided to tweak it to our diet and PRESTO the Peanut Butter Cookie mug cake was born.

Not only are the ingredients something that pretty much everyone has in their house, but it also is rich, decadent, and filling. The best part? Ridiculously easy.

EVERYONE in our house loves this dessert and we have also made some modifications such as chocolate syrup drizzle, and including chocolate chips in the cake itself. Prep time is less than 5 minutes and cook time is a minute. Seriously. It doesn’t get easier than that! Give it a try, you honestly won’t be disappointed and you’ll love it like we do.

Peanut Butter Cookie Mug Cake (Gluten Free, Low Sugar, Low Carb)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Almond Flour/Meal
  • 1 egg
  • Non-stick Olive Oil Spray
  • 2 Tbsp all natural peanut butter
  • 2 TbspSugar Free Cool Whip or Whipped Cream;
  • Drizzle Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup

Instructions

  1. Coat inside of coffee mug with non-stick spray.
  2. Add flour, egg, and peanut butter. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Place in microwave for 60 seconds.
  4. Take cup out of microwave and immediately tip upside down on a plate.
  5. Top with whipped topping and/or chocolate drizzle.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/13/peanut-butter-cookie-mug-cake-gluten-free-low-sugar-low-carb/