Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

I could start by saying that this is the busiest time of the year for us, but I’d be lying if I said that. Our family is always busy. I’m not sure if it’s because we are all stress junkies, over committed, or that we call just enjoy having many activities, hobbies, responsibilities, or we are all insane.

Whatever the reason, at least 3 nights a week at our house finds us eating in shifts, or having little time for dinner. We LOVE our dinner times together. It’s the time that we connect, talk about our day, laugh, and de-stress before the next activity, appointment, responsibility. It is true that I try to cook 90% of the time. I also try to cook as natural as possible. But in full disclosure, there are nights that we are running through a drive thru, or eating leftovers.

 Coming up with something new and different can be exhausting and tedious. However, just tweaking a good old comfort food recipe can really make a difference.

We love sloppy joes. There was a time when we had them at least once a week. The can of processed M*nwich was a staple that I picked up each week on my grocery store trip.

 The rub happens, when you have a husband that doesn’t eat bread (of any kind), you have two teenagers that MUST have hamburger buns, and you yourself have to watch how much bread you eat.  The awesome things about these Sloppy Joes is that they can be a meal within themselves. You can eat them with buns the old fashioned way, in a bowl just by itself, or in a low carb wrap. It’s versatile and a little different from the traditional Sloppy Joe, but definitely an upgrade in my opinion.  Have you ever tweaked a comfort food? How did it work out? Let me know in the comments!

Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Lean Ground Beef (or ground pork. turkey, or vension)
  • 1 cup Sweet Onion (red, white, or yellow is fine) finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper, finely diced
  • 1.5 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • Two 8 oz cans No-Salt Tomato Sauce
  • 1.5 tsp Mustard
  • 15 oz. can Black Beans drained, rinsed
  • 14 oz. can No-Salt Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can Tomato Paste

Instructions

  1. Cook first 5 ingredients in a large pot over medium heat until meat is browned. Stir to break up meat so it crumbles. Drain off any fat.
  2. Add water and remaining ingredients
  3. Stir well and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/04/21/easy-homemade-sloppy-joes/

3 Reasons why I’m a “Prepper” and why you should be too!

When people find out that we are homesteaders the first question I get is almost always (99.9% of the time), “Are you one of those Doomsday Preppers?”. I used to answer with, “No, not at all. We aren’t preppers!”.  But then I realized that I was lying to them and myself. Yes we are preppers and yes you should be too.

Why be a Prepper?

1. Sh*t Happens.  No I’m not talking about a zombie apocalypse, the grid going down, or a total economic collapse, but rather more like job loss or loss of income due to illness.  Yes we have insurance and savings, but those would be better used paying the house payment and electric bill. Having food storage that is from the garden, all natural, and free from chemicals as well as meat that was harvested from hunting and fishing sure makes me feel a little better that we wouldn’t starve and could still eat the same way we do.

2. Temporary Emergency. A few years ago there was an ice storm in our area that knocked out power to some homes for up to 2 weeks. Being prepared with fuel, fresh water, food, and other necessities makes it much easier if you are thrust into a weather emergency.

3. Being a good neighbor.  A lot of people who know us say, “If there is an apocalypse I’m coming to your house  and you can take care of me”. Yeah…. no. I’m not. However, a few years ago a sweet family that we love had a job loss in the family and was financially strapped for about 6 months. During this time we were able to give them food from the freezer and canning closet as well as fresh veggies from our garden. We were able to help them in a sustainable way and we were able to show our girls the meaning of being a good neighbor.

Being self sufficient and reliant is awesome and although we are only probably about 60% of where we want to be, it still give us an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that we have plans, food, and the ability to take care of ourselves and possibly others.

Now, I’m not saying that we, or you should go live off the grid in the bush somewhere, but definitely do some small things that will make you more sufficient, less reliant on commercial society, and keep your family safe in possible emergency situations.

What do you think of when someone talks about being a prepper? Are you a prepper? Have any tips?

Baked Chicken Caprese

One of the best things about growing herbs either indoors or outdoors, is having them at the ready. I used to cook with the dried herbs I found in grocery stores.  I thought it was the same thing, yeah….it’s not.

Whether it’s rosemary for Butter Butt Chicken, or oregano for my Herb Encrusted Pork Loin, there is no substitute for being able to grab fresh herbs for your recipes.

My favorite thing to eat in the summer is Caprese Salad, it just screams summer and deliciousness. I was looking for some new easy, but flavorful recipes to make for dinner. Our family loves baked chicken, and I love Caprese salad so I decided to combine the two and the results were phenomenal. Seriously, I had no idea how it would turn out. Every single person in our home loved it and begged for more (even my 17 y/o who is QUITE the picky eater). You can serve it with a side of roasted veggies or a nice side salad and it’s perfect for a busy evening, or even a nice Sunday dinner! Give it a try and let me know what you think about it!

Baked Chicken Caprese

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: Italian

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 6

Baked Chicken Caprese

Ingredients

  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 package mozzarella pearls
  • 1 cup washed and trimmed (stems off) fresh basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Butterfly each chicken breast and then place between two sheets of wax paper. Pound thinly (I use a wooden rolling pin to pound the chicken).
  4. Lay each thinned breast on the cookie sheet.
  5. Layer each breast with basil leaves, sliced romas, and mozzarella pearls.
  6. Fold each piece of chicken in half (think hamburger fold).
  7. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper on outside of chicken breast.
  8. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes.
  9. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/04/16/baked-chicken-caprese/

 

What herbs should I grow? A guide to common herbs that are easy to raise.

When planning an herb garden there are many choices: an indoor herb garden in containers, outdoors in containers, or in a garden or raised bed. It all depends on what you have available and what works best for you.

The most important question is, “What should I grow?”. The answer is, “Anything you want to, but make sure you’ll use it”.  Here are a few herbs that are easy to grow and are commonly used in the kitchen.

Basil

 

Chives

Oregano

Cilantro

Rosemary

Thyme

You can start all of these plants from seeds, but it can be difficult if you don’t have heat lamps and an indoor set up. The easiest thing to do is to buy seedlings, which you can do from most garden centers. In fact, I saw that Lowe’s, Atwoods, and Wal-Mart had all of these available while I was out shopping for other things today.

All of these herbs are quite hardy, and you will find they need little care. No fertilizer is needed as long as you harvest from your plant often. An inch of water will do per week, and some mulch around the base will help the plant retain moisture (if planted outside) . One of the biggest mistakes people make with herbs is letting it get dry, which quickly stuns the plant.

All of the herbs above couldn’t be anymore perfect for planting in pots, indoors or out. Try to put one plant per 12 inch pot as you will find that the seedling can use all of the space. Be sure to keep your potted basil in a warm spot where it gets plenty of sun. If you need to, move the pot around as the sun shifts in order for it to get a solid 6 hours of warmth.

If you are new to herb gardening, like I said in the previous post, I would just stick to picking 3 herbs to start with and then add later, if you see some success. It is also important to not get too crazy with the planting. If you are not planning on preserving (through drying or freezing) or using your herbs as soon as harvested, then you really want to go small. These babies can get big and overwhelming to a new herb gardener quickly.

As with anything, moderation is key. My favorite part is the smell of these herbs. There is just something about them and how they immediately make me feel. Do you have any tips to share? Let me know in the comments, or over on our group Facebook Page.

 

The Beginner’s Guide to Homesteading

You have decided that you want to homestead, or you already do…. a little. Now what? Once you start looking at blogs, websites, journals, Pinterest, you fall down the rabbit hole of overwhelm. There is so much to do, to make, to be responsible for! The result, is that you don’t end up doing any of it and simply just wish you did.

Sound familiar? It does to me. I also came up with lots of excuses as to why I couldn’t EVER do THAT! I forgot about doing it, but that nagging little voice in the back of my head kept telling me that I should homestead.

Where do you start?  The key is to pick one or two small things to make a change. Then after 30 days or so pick up something else

Start a container herb garden with no more than 3 herbs. As they grow USE them in the food that you cook.

  

Start a small garden with no more than 4 types of vegetables. As they grow USE them in the food that you cook.

Re-purpose old items. Instead of buying something new all of the time, and constantly throwing things away, re-purpose them. That old mayonnaise container? Wash it out and use to to hold something in your craft closet. Old socks? Use them for dust rags. Old chicken feeders? Turn them into bee feeders.

  Make you own __________________. Laundry detergent. Soap. Jams/Jellies. Clothes. Dishcloths. Bread. You name it. Pick one thing that you can make to benefit your household and do it.

So think about what is easy or smart for you and your family. Do it for 30 days and then add something else if you feel inclined, or just do that one thing and perfect it.

I’m going to help. This week I’m going to be focusing on how to start an herb garden and how to use it. This is honestly how I started my journey and it’s a great baby step. If you’re way past that, then you’ll enjoy some of the recipes I’ll share with fresh herbs. It’s going to be a fun week. Stay tuned.