Family Favorites (Seasonal Broadcasts & Audio)

Is you trip not long enough to watch a movie, but would you love to treat your kids this holiday season? With SO many TV, movie and holiday specials it is fairly easy to pop in and watch a family favorite. Perhaps while you are traveling, you’d like to instead take advantage of a radio drama or broadcast. Here are 3 great family friendly audios you can enjoy with your family. Best of all, they are: free& under 30 minutes.

Here are a few you can find on YouTube and stream (hands free of course) while you drive at no cost.

Christmas Spirit by Ron Hamilton

Christmas Carol- This is our all time, absolute favorite, that the kids ask to listen to every year. A great message, family friendly and under an hour long. (1 of 14 tracks)

Peanut Butter Christmas- Another favorite the whole family will love, especially the younger crowd. This is our youngest’s favorite this time of year.

Christmas Spirit- The newest arrangement by Ron Hamilton for the whole family as well.

To purchase these audios, along with other arrangements, check out the Majesty Website.

Happy Winter Break!!!

Christmas Lasagna

Anyone that says they do not love lasagna is probably lying. OR they just haven’t had amazing lasagna. Try this recipe! Serious. This is a recipe even lasagna lovers will bookmark!

People learn to cook or bake and that great, but my mom has ALWAYS made amazing lasagna! The best part, is her recipe is a no boil noodle, no measuring cups, just lasagna pan, dump, pour, bake and ENJOY! Here is her recipe with a few minor adaptations for our families liking, feel free to do the same.

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

Items you will need:

  • 1 box of lasagna noodles (not precooked, just plain Jane noodles.)
  • 1 Large tub of cottage cheese, your favorite style. For one 9X13 lasagna we use 24 ounces.
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 lb of burger (traditionally I make with beef or venison) However, this works with other meat if seasoned accordingly- like other ground wild game.
  • 3 jars of pasta sauce, your favorite will do. (I change it up, depending on the crowd. For traditional we go with herbs & cheese pasta sauce.)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • A lasagna pan ***note if you want a stuffed lasagna or plan to adapt the recipe, the bigger/ deeper the pan, the better.
  • A fork to stir the cottage cheese & beat your eggs
  • **OPTIONAL** Onions, mushrooms, Cheddar cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese, an extra egg.

First, brown the burger. If adding onions, this is the time to saute them with the burger. Add 1 tsp of garlic powder, or fresh garlic (best flavor) as you finish browning the burger.

While cooking, grease a 9X13 lasagna pan. Open a sauce and pour 3/4 of the jar to cover the bottom of the cake pan. Place the first row of uncooked noodles in the bottom of the cake pan. Next, add the remainder of the jar of sauce. Sprinkle as to cover with Parmesan cheese. Place two large spoonfuls of cottage cheese over the Parmesan. If you are adding mushrooms, this is the time to add 1 large can of sliced mushrooms. Layer another row of uncooked noodles. Set aside.

Keep and eye on the burger ;-). Remove from heat. In your cottage cheese container, crack one egg- if you are using an over-sized deep dish lasagna pan, feel free to add the 2nd egg as well. Beat with fork. Mixing into cottage cheese, add parsley. 2 Tablespoons is sufficient, but we tend to get carried away since we often stuff our lasagna with cheese and delicious goodness! (About a 1/4 Cup)

Simply layer. One box of noodles takes approximately 3 jars of sauce to get a nice, saucy, but cheesy thick lasagna. If you do not use the entire box of noodles, it’s okay too.

Sauce, cottage cheese, noodles, repeat. If you are stuffing, after your second layer of noodles, begin to stuff your “extras” and repeat back to sauce. Layer until the pan is full, keeping the burger for the top layer. Pour remaining sauce needed over top and cover with tin foil. Place in oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Pull out and make sure the noodles are soft. (Check with a knife in the center.) If done, turn oven down to 375 and cover in Parmesan cheese. Warm until cheese is melted and your garlic toast or sides are complete. ENJOY! Happy Winter Break & Happy Baking!

Best, Most Simple, Christmas Brunch

You will need:

  • 2 lbs off breakfast sausage
  • 2 dozen biscuits (homemade is best, but if you are going for simple or quick , read down below for great options)
  • 1/4 Cup of flour
  • 1/2 gallon of milk
  • dash of black pepper
  • Some hungry folks 😉

In large skillet or cast iron frying pan, brown 2 lbs of breakfast sausage. Once the pork begins to cook down, a potato masher works great to finely separate the pork breakfast sausage.

Meanwhile warm your biscuits. Of course homemade are best the family will say. What if I told you they would never know if you use these or this off brand… 🙂

Seriously, frozen Grands biscuits do taste so close to from scratch biscuits if you have a particular crowd. However, my kids love biscuits and gravy with “Womp-Em” biscuits AKA refrigerator Buttermilk biscuits. (Really any kind will work. For a kids gathering we used the little mini refrigerator pop biscuits, turned out, the kids loved it just the same! Whatever you pick, warm or bake your biscuits. The refrigerator biscuits take less than 15 minutes, the frozen are about 25 minutes to bake.

Once browned add, sprinkling, approximately 1/4 Cup of flour. Now this is most often with our fresh pork sausage that tastes amazing. However, any sausage works, just add enough flour to begin to soak up the grease. (At most 1/2 Cup). Now the key is to let the flour brown. If it’s warm and soaks up the grease and then you add your milk, it will turn out biscuit gravy, but you will have your floury taste too. The essential element is to let the white flour brown a bit. Once brown, add 5 Cups of milk and a dash of pepper. Let the milk warm and gradually bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer. (Stir constantly.)

Remove just prior to desired thickness. I do immediately because the gravy will thicken a bit more, so to take that into consideration means thicker gravy.

Enjoy! Happy Winter Break!

***Now you can play with this gravy as well. Remember you can make more gravy without adding more meat too. If you are aiming for that goal, simply add some fat at the browned stage, lard or Crisco works the best. Alternatives would be butter, coconut oil or worst case, margarine. Just add a nice Tablespoon or two and when you add flour, a Tablespoon or more as well. Adjust milk as well. Keep in mind, the more flour you use, the more it affects the taste of your gravy. If you are needing a lot of extra gravy, perhaps create your rue in another skillet by melting your butter, browning the flour then adding milk (About 1/2 Cup of flour per 4-5 Cups of milk).

All You Need for the Perfect Family Game Night

Christmas vacation is HERE!!! School break means lots of baking, crafts, some travel, lots of loved ones and visiting, some cool activities and so on. However, my kids will not let winter break pass without a couple of FAMILY GAME NIGHTS! Now I could tell you the happy & sunny personalities is all you need for a great game night, and there would be some truth to that, but a few other things do help! So here is a list for some great ideas to get things rolling…

  • Food- Let’s face it folks, people gather where there is good food! Make some treats, even if it’s last minute, break out the popcorn, chips & salsa, cookie jar, maybe a small junk food stash, etc. On our somewhat planned family game nights, I just whip up some taco meet, we always have salsa and a can of nacho cheese in our pantry; we make a “nacho buffet”. If I have at least a couple hours or think we might have a day coming up we’ve stocked up on a full taco/ nacho buffet bar OR we do hot subs & munchies. Find my quick recipes for those here. **Now don’t be alarmed, family game night DOES NOT have to be binge night either. There are so many healthy snacks out there that taste awesome! Even a fruit & veggie platter! During Christmas break, we tend to avoid sugars with flu & cold seasons and all the visiting that already has plenty of sugar and we’ll do hot subs, veggie & fruit tray with dip OR sliced meats & cheeses with the different varieties of crackers. The kids stay excited, since we always try to find some “new” to us flavor or cracker, if unavailable, we just make sure to select a favorite!
  • Drinks- Even if it’s last minute, run to the gas station or store and get some sodas, Kool-Aid, etc. Better yet, mix and make a punch with some juice. Again, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but if time permits, the kids will love a “new drink”. An example for us was when apple soda came out, it was a hit at our house! Soda is not a regular thing at our house; so we bought a couple packs and left them in the basement just for special occasions or family game nights. *Don’t forget about warm drinks too. An easy fix we always have in our home is hot chocolate or tea, these are great too!
  • Pillows, Cushions, etc.- something to set out and sprawl out on the floor with.
  • Blankets, throws, etc.- Anything that helps everyone get comfy. Our kids play board games often, but family game night is a marathon of games the kids love and stack up on “what’s next”! So, get comfy, everyone will enjoy themselves so much more!!!
  • GAMES- certainly not last, but pick out some games. Must haves for the kids were : (in order from the little to the older) were Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Mancala, Checkers, Pie Face, & Trouble, to Operation, Mousetrap, Sorry, Battleship, Chess, The game of LIFE, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, UPWords, Scrabble, Clue, Ticket to Ride, Risk, and Bohnanza. Even my 1st grader will take part in all but the last 2, he will team up, but they do get long. HOWEVER, is you have mostly teens and up, the games now are amazing. My oldest has found so many treasures, I know he’ll love to play them as his siblings get older. Check out this awesome game list put out by Ranker.

So, whether you bake together, find some treats, make some cocoa or decorate some cookies, HAVE FUN! Enjoy those precious days you have together and bring them to mom’s fun house! Have fun on you winter break or Christmas vacation! Happy Homemaking!

Peanut Butter Balls AKA Buckeyes

Buckeyes are among the easiest candies to make, and with no baking! Relatively simple, these beauties can be made if you have a bit of time on your hands. If not- check out my cheat on the bars that taste just as amazing, but are more of a mix and pat in a pan & frost.

Peanut Butter Balls was one of my husbands first requests for the holidays when we got marrieds several years ago. Since, they have also made it to the holiday “must-make” list each year. Here is my version with a little “secret” for flavor.

Mix 2 Cups of cream peanut butter, many people say don’t use natural, I do, it only works IF they stay cool or frozen once mixed. If you are unsure if you will be able to do that, use a regular peanut butter, or you will have a goopy mess!

Okay, sorry about the info express… Cream your peanut butter with 1/2 Cup of softened salted butter, 3 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar. Mix. Add 1 & 1/5 teaspoons of vanilla extract. When creamy and smooth add your powdered sugar. ~If sifted it stays extra smooth to perfection~ if not- no one will know unless you’re entering into a baking contest 😉 One cup at a time mix 3 & 1/4 Cups of powdered sugar into your mixture. With a large spoon, roll balls into the palm of you hands and place on a wax sheet of paper. Place your wax sheet of peanut butter balls in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 12 oz of chocolate melting wafers.

Once ready, pull out the peanut butter balls from the freezer and with a tooth pick, dip each peanut butter ball into the melted chocolate and place back on the wax paper to dry. Allow chocolate to harden and ENJOY!

** Another variation of this recipe my kids love is the almond bark. We often make a double batch of peanut butter balls and make half our traditional buckeyes. The remainder, my children dip in white almond bark and make “snowballs” and put fine decorating sugars on them for the holidays.

Happy Baking! Enjoy!

Best Preschool, Daycare or Kinder Program Snacks ALL(most) kids love!

  • Cookies
  • Cereal
  • Pretzels
  • Yogurt
  • Sliced Veggies and dip
  • Smoothies
  • Pancakes and fruit
  • Graham crackers and Cheese
  • Brownies
  • String Cheese

Okay, that’s a simple list, but how complex does it have to be? Take that same list and if you have dietary guidelines or allergies you have to consider, make you life easy and go through for a rotating snack list. Honestly 2-3 weeks works great!

So here is the same list:

  • Cookies- Now this could be a dietary guideline issue. Cookies could be vanilla wafers- these are great with any fruit, a fruit dip or spread or whip. Don’t forget though cookies could also be a butter cookie topped with fruit (like a mini fruit pizza) or oatmeal raisin cookies, whole grain doodle bugs, fig newtons, etc.
  • Cereal- Kids love cereal plain. Since generally have a hot breakfast, cereal is a great snack for us. The varieties are plentiful and can easily be ate plain or with a side or into a homemade trail mix.
  • Pretzels- self explanatory, goes well with a fruit side, a dip or in a trail mix if you’re wanting to change it up a bit.
  • Yogurt- This is a favorite snack or “treat” my kids say. We make it into a “parfait” in small mason jars for the kids with fruit and the option of granola. However, if a kiddo is extra hungry or needs a quick snack, we have plenty of yogurt on hand to do so.
  • Sliced Veggies & dip- one of my favorites because it can be prepped easily and a large container is easy to grab if the kiddos need more.
  • Smoothies- although fruit seems the most obvious and likable, and as weird as it may seem. Zucchini or spinach based are actually among the top favorites with my kiddos. A great way to get in those veggies in daily. A blender can be prepped with the veggies & fruit and placed in the fridge, then added to the base and made quickly right at snack time. Or pre-packing your “mixes” in the freezer saves so much time!
  • Pancakes & fruit- Kids never get tired of pancakes. Generally we make multigrain and spinach. Even though the kids have pancakes on their breakfast menu every other week, they still love the minis for snack with a side of fruit or fruit whip spread.
  • Graham Crackers and Cheese- As you know, virtually any cracker works, but I found the cheese on the graham cracker kids love! That hint of sweetness in the sandwich satisfies. My kids love it!
  • Brownies- Now, like cookies, there are healthy versions. From oatmeal bakes to “fudge” bean brownies. If allowed these make a great menu change up that kids love!
  • String cheese- what can I say, kids love them and there are many varieties out now!

I hope this has blessed you and allows a you to create quickly a versatile spring semester menu! Enjoy your break! Happy Teaching!

Homemade Hot Chocolate (Travel Friendly)

Hot Cocoa is a must in our house hold. Everyone love hot cocoa and tea after a day of snowshoeing! Here is one way to have your favorite cocoa, just buy in bulk. Oh, but then this would not be a DIY hot cocoa mix and very dull, and well, we love to spice things up, literally.

First you need a cookie jar, canister, or in our camper & travel bag, we keep a dollar tree plastic canister tub with a screw on lid. Simply add 1 & 1/2 Cups of sugar, 1 Cup of cocoa, 2 Cups of nonfat dry powdered milk, 1 Cup of non-dairy creamer and a dash of salt. Place the lid on tightly and shake. Walla! Done! To Enjoy, simply add 1/3 Cup of mix to 1 Cup of hot water, or like us, we often use a 1/2 Cup in our over-sized winter mugs!

Now that is how you make traditional cocoa, but don’t stop there. Next time you are in the store, take a peak at all the powdered non-dairy creamers and flavors. Even Dollar General has flavored powdered non-dairy creamer. Substitute your favorite to add a flavor flare. Another option is to leave the recipe as is and add spice. Try Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Apple pie spice, Pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, crushed candy canes, etc. When we experimented, I made a batch up and then had the kids make one “cup of cocoa” and sprinkle in their “experimental ingredients” to try. They love to do this to find their unique flavor. Overall though, the kids’ favorite variety is the standard recipe except with Dollar General’s vanilla caramel non-dairy coffee creamer; it’s been the keeper!

Enjoy! Have fun! Happy Winter Break!

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Want a dinner that can feed a group of hungry men or kids? Sloppy Joes are a favorite among many kids, and tucking in veggies or a can of veg-all in the sloppy joe mix is one way to get their vegetables in, my preschool kiddos LOVED it, but another filling way to get your vegetables with a favorite (sloppy joes) is in this casserole! Best of all, it is SO SIMPLE!

Fry 1 & 1/2 pounds of burger in your frying pan.

When browned, add your favorite sloppy joe sauce, my kiddos eat anything, but LOVE Manwich BOLD the best!

After warming, place ready “sloppy joes” in a lightly greased 9X13 cake pan, if closer to 2 pounds of burger a lasagna pan (deeper) works as well. Next add 4 cans of green beans. Either kinds works, but french style bakes the best in this casserole. Spread evenly throughout the pan. Set aside.

Mix as indicated on the box of mashed potatoes for 10 servings. (*OR if you have left over mashed potatoes after a dinner, this will work too.) Spread evenly and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. OPTIONAL_ But so delicious! (The last 10 minutes top with shredded cheddar cheese.) Walla! Dinner is served!

Enjoy & Happy Baking!

World’s Best Molasses Cookies

World’s Best Molasses Cookies

Start with your large bowl and mixer. I love to use my kitchen aide I received as a wedding gift, over 15 years ago. (It is still going strong and used almost daily!)

Beat 2 Cups of dark brown sugar, 2 Cups of butter, and 1/2 Cup of molasses. Once reaching a creamy mixture add in 2 tsps of pure vanilla and 2 large eggs. Mix approximately 2 minutes or until nice texture. (WARNING: too much whipping will make fluffy cake like cookies, not soft’fluffy chewy cookies.)

Next add 4 Teaspoons of baking soda, 2 teaspoons of ginger, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 tsp of salt. Mix. Then add flour one cup at a time while mixing, totaling 5 Cups of flour. Mix well.

In a small bowl, place 1/4 Cup of sugar, we like organic cane sugar, but any will do. (Even a dark brown sugar.)

Lightly spray your cookie sheet and place 1&1/2 inch dough balls (rolled in a bowl of sugar~ app. 1/4 Cup.) Place cookies on greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes.

Cool and freeze for company, share, or best of all eat warm right out of the oven!!!

Enjoy & Happy Baking!!!