Category Archives: seasonal recipes

Chili For When It’s Chilly

Chili served up "Frito Pie" style and loaded up with micro cilantro from KFF. Paired with some tasty local brew.

It occurred to me that I’ve been posting a lot about stuff we’ve done but not much about the things we are noshing on. So to remedy this I’ve decided to share with you a super-simple slow cooker chili that I like to make.

Now, when my garden’s a-hoppin’ in the summer I like to add all sorts of fresh stuff to this chili, but in the winter it gets slimmed down to the basics. That being said, you may have different produce options in the winter if you live in a warmer climate, so feel free to add whatever else you like.

All of this can be thrown into a slow cooker in the morning in about 10 minutes. About 30 minutes before you are going to eat it I would recommend making some corn muffins or cornbread as well to serve on the side.

Snow mouse

Simple Slow Cooker Winter Chili


-2 lbs. ground beef

-1  can of beans (I like black or pinto beans for this.)

-1 can of organic corn or 2 cups frozen

-1 large can or aseptic box of diced tomatoes

-1 large can or aseptic box of crushed tomatoes

-1 large onion, diced

-3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced

-Mexican seasonings, to taste (I use a mix of chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and sea salt.)


-Throw everything (except seasoning) in a crockpot and set to low for several hours.

-If you are home while it’s cooking, stir it from time to time.

-An hour before serving add the seasoning and taste the chili. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

I like to serve this up with plain Greek yogurt and a little shredded cheese. It’s also great with cilantro on top, and I’m lucky enough that the farm I work for grows micro cilantro. It’s excellent!




Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels & More!

The finished products.

I needed to make some simple gifts for neighbors and the Kilpatrick Family (because they are seriously like a surrogate family to me, and they are amazing people), and I really wanted to do something where Jack could help.

I figured these chocolate dipped peppermint pretzels would be the perfect solution.

Peeled candy canes, ready to be turned into minty dust.

I used two different colored candy canes (traditional and ones that include green), peeled them, and then separately gave them a good crushing in my food processor. When each was done I poured them into their own shallow bowl.

Powdered minty magic.

I got 2 bags of the honey wheat pretzel sticks. They are a good, medium length. I melted (separately) white and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler. When they were all melty, I put the bowls at our workstation and we got to dipping.

After we dipped each one we rolled it around in the peppermint crunchies, then we set them down on a huge silicone mat. You could also use wax paper or parchment paper if you don’t have a silicone mat.

Almost done....

At the end we took red and green colored sugar and sprinkled it on them, then waited for them to dry.


I realized when we were finishing up the pretzels that I still had lots of melted chocolate left. Since wasting food makes me feel nutso, I knew I had to figure something out.

Chocolate peppermint coins

I got out my mini muffin tin, spritzed a little cooking oil in the bottom of each space and then started pouring the melted chocolate in. I quickly sprinkled the leftover peppermint and sprinkles on, then stuck the whole pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

If you don’t have a mini muffin tin you could use a regular one, but the disks would just be thinner and wider. They may also be a little harder to get out so silicone muffin cups might make things easier if you have those.

When I pulled the pan out I let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before carefully popping them out. I put them in little baggies and I’ll be giving them as gifts.

For the pretzels I got some inexpensive containers to package them in. I found a set of green plastic containers and a glass jar with a hinged lid. The glass jar was less than $3 at local dollar store!

When I filled them I put some candy cane striped ribbon around the top and then little “To, From” labels on the top.

The whole project didn’t take more than a couple of hours and it was really affordable. This would also be a great project if you have kids of multiple ages, because even though they might not be able to all the steps, even just putting on the sprinkles would be fun.

So if you are scrambling for any last-minute gift ideas definitely give these a  try!

~eats this week~

The Summertime Picnic Quilt in action at the pool.

Some weeks just work well when it comes to dinner. I’d love to say that every week I make an awesome meal plan on Sunday for the week ahead but that rarely happens.

I wish it could happen, but Chris and I often just bat around different ideas and sometimes, on crazy days, it comes down to take out food. I wish it wasn’t like that, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

However we’ve been putting together some pretty tasty stuff this week.

Dairy facts sign at Willow Marsh. How cute is it that we have a dairy princess?

I got lots of eggs at Willow Marsh the other day so I came right home and made dough for challah bread. I also made 22 whole wheat hamburger buns. Go big or go home, right? Actually I just prefer to make large batches of things when I can to alleviate excess kitchen time in the future.

My sweet southern belle....what a ham!

Chris is now working the mid shift for this next week so while he was switching his body clock over he made bacon jam (that’ll have a post of its own!) and tomato basil chicken sausage (with tomatoes and basil from the garden). He made the sausage into patties that we had tonight on my buns with homemade slaw. I think we are going to turn the rest of it into meatballs to have with pasta.

Chris also ground up pork last night which we cooked up with garlic, onion, and jalepenos after dinner tonight. I put it into a crock pot with crushed tomatoes, chopped green peppers, and black beans. Tomorrow morning Jack and I are going to make tortillas and let the chili cook all day.

I’m not really sure what the weekend will bring but it certainly has been nice having all this delicious food this week!

My Haul

After I got Jack from school we went out to Saratoga Apple to get some more peaches. I wanted to get another market basket as well because my other one has now become my knitting basket.

While there, Jack wanted to get cherries, and I saw the asparagus so I got a bundle. They had tons of beautiful peonies so I got one and put it in the empty bottle from the mead our friend Tamara made last year.

Peonies are incredible. They look like they are made from tissue paper and they smell amazing.

I also got some donuts but cider donuts don’t stay around long enough to photograph! I grabbed a cup of coffee out there too and the lady working told me it was a “coffee and donuts day” and she was right because it was Day 2 of crazy thunderstorms.

We made grilled asparagus with homemade hollandaise sauce for dinner. I really need to enjoy some more asparagus before they are completely gone for the year.

Summer Eats are the Best Eats

Strawberries with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.

Lately I’ve been making proper meals. Meals that are different and really thought out, not just the usual go-to dinners. I’ve also been really good about not ordering food, even when I’m tired.

The summer makes this easy though. There’s so much to choose from! Plus winter veg are all so starchy and that can get real old, real fast. Even though there are still many summer foods that aren’t ready yet, I’ve already been enjoying a wide variety.

Planning also helps me avoid wasting food, which drives me bonkers. I have a small chalk board in the kitchen (idea inspired by Mama Jillian) where I write down all the produce we currently have. This really helps with planning.

It’s nice to have full-fledged salads again, as opposed to just greens with dressing, which I was eating all winter. I’ve been making all sorts of combinations in the past few weeks.

Tonight I started the process for making Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream. Tomorrow night we finish it up and I’m so incredibly excited to try it!

Vanilla bean cooking in milk, cream, and brown sugar for the ice cream.

Some recent meals we’ve enjoyed are:

  • Rainbow Chard Quiche (made with this crust, but this time used vegan shortening instead of lard, since we don’t have a ton of lard left) with our maple bacon served alongside arugula with balsamic vinaigrette, radishes, apples, candied walnuts, and black pepper chevre
  • Pulled pork cooked in a slow cooker with Dinosaur Bar-B-Que sauce and fresh peaches served alongside fresh lettuce, strawberries, maple vinaigrette, hydroponic tomatoes, and toasted pecans
  • Chicken (cooked whole in a slow cooker) with homemade gravy and couscous served alongside cold beet salad with pecans and goat cheese
  • Whole wheat linguine with butternut squash (frozen, in my CSA this week), fresh basil, dried sage, and cream topped with toasted pumpkin seeds served alongside red oak leaf lettuce, thinly sliced summer squash, and balsamic vinaigrette

So, what’s on your summer plate?