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


  • 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


  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.

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


  • 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


  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.


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.








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.

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….


  • 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


  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.

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


  • 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


  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.

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.

Friday Finds – Gardening for the Beginner 3/17/17

It isn’t any news that I’m a life long learner. I am quite honestly a sponge to learn new things. I find my information through online courses, blogs, Pinterest and of course books.  Another feature of this website is Friday Finds. I will be scouring the web to find things that are awesome, worth your time, and of course a bargain because I’m nothing if not frugal.

Today’s Friday Finds are all for the beginning gardener! I hope you find something useful for you or for someone else today!

Click on the image if you want to learn more.

Easy Container Gardening: 5 Step to Grow Fresh Organic Vegetables in Small Urban Spaces – FREE

Gardening: The Complete Guide to Vegetable Gardening for Beginners : Kindle FREE – Paperback $12.99

The 20-30 Something Garden Guide – Kindle $8.69 – Hardcover $17.95


Jiffy 42mm Professional Greenhouse 50-plant starter kit – $9.70

Jump Start CK64060 Hot House with Heat Mat, Tray, 72 Cell insert, 7.5 Inch Dome – $39.49

Fiskars 3 Piece Softouch Garden Tool Set – $15.77

The Roo Gardening Apron – Starting at $33.00 – Comes in a variety of styles and colors.

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