Category Archives: Living Simply, Living Lighter

A taste of the sea: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

A taste of the sea: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m back from a weekend get-away to the Oregon coast!  I went alone and met up with my brothers, dad, step-mom and all Dad’s side of the extended family. 

Me, my dad, and my “little” brothers!

We had a wonderful time enjoying the ocean views and the company and the yummy seafood! 


Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, OR (Yes, it’s the one on the Goonies movie!!!!)


In celebration of my homecoming I wanted to share a yummy recipe I developed before I left. I used some of the Alaskan Dungeness crab my husband caught and brought back home last month!  If you’re not well stocked on fresh crab I’m sure canned would be just fine! 😉

Here’s a link to the original recipe I used as a reference.


  • I small package of baby Portobello mushrooms (there were about 10-12 mushrooms in the package)
  • 1/2 cup crab meat
  • 1/4 cup soft (whole wheat bread) crumbs
  • half a lemon
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves minced (or 1 tsp dry)
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt
  • 1 green onion stalk (minced)
  • 1 egg
  • dash of fresh or dry dill weed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 T butter or olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly grease the bottom of a 9X13 pan.  Gently wash off mushrooms with a wet paper towel to remove any dirt. Remove the stems from the caps and finely chop the stems. 

2.  With butter or olive oil saute the chopped mushroom stems with green onion, basil, and dill for 2-3 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and dark-colored.  Set aside to cool.

3.  In a bowl mix crab meat, soft bread crumbs, egg, and Parmesan cheese.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the mixture and stir together.  Add the chopped and cooked mushroom stems to the crab meat mix and stir.

4.  Gently spoon mixture into the raw mushroom caps and bake for about 10 minutes until caps are dark brown and mixture on top is a light golden brown.  (I had extra crab meat mixture which I layered with zucchini in a casserole dish and baked! YUM!)


Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms


Now this is the life!

Thursday Thoughts: Gardening

Thursday Thoughts: Gardening

I never ever thought I would say this, but I’m enjoying gardening!  I wasn’t a fan of gardening when I was growing up, but I guess it’s in my blood and I shouldn’t fight it! 😉 My grandpa and my mom must have passed the gene on down despite my resistance!  Now, I’m thankful.

I really started appreciate gardening since I’ve been on a quest to live and eat healthier.  There’s something very satisfying in cooking food that we grew!  You know…that whole “I-can-do-it-myself” pride that you see in your toddler, well now I remember what it feels like with gardening!

Another bonus: I know exactly where the food came from and what was put into it!  And now it’s really helping our grocery budget! We have a pretty short growing season in Minnesota, but I’ve still been able to harvest lettuce, zucchini, green beans, and sugar snap peas already! I didn’t have to buy any veggies this week on my grocery trip! Mostly fruit and a few other staples! Maybe “going green” ain’t so bad!

Other things I love about gardening:

  • My kids are involved and learning so much!  They’re learning science, health, and good eating habits as well as spiritual concepts like “What you sow is what you grow!”  (And they are having a LOT of fun! They beg me to water the garden or pick vegetables!)
  • There’s something therapeutic in pulling out weeds! I don’t know what it is, but it feels good to yank a weed out by the root and toss it aside!
  • We get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors while gardening.
  • Fresh food takes flavor to a whole new level! You may never buy another canned vegetable from the store once you try growing your own!
  • When we live 28 miles from the nearest big grocery store it’s nice to be able to just go to our yard and pick something last-minute for a meal!
  • It’s a meaningful (and frugal) gift to share homegrown veggies with a friend or neighbor!

Have I convinced you to try gardening yet?!?!?!  Don’t let having a small (or no) yard hold you back.  We have a few containers of herbs and lettuce on our porch that really supplement our meals nicely!  You could try a tomato plant in a container and make your own spaghetti sauce or fresh BLT sandwich!  The possibilities are endless! You might just grow a green thumb while you’re at it! :)


Our garden



Fresh salad for lunch, anyone?


We’ll probably eat this for dinner tonight!

Fresh herbs! Basil, oregano, rosemary…and a cute toddler (pick at your own risk!) ;)

He’s happy to help…especially if it involves water and mud! Win-win!

Grilled Glazed Pineapple

Grilled Glazed Pineapple

Last week a local store had whole fresh pineapples on sale for a dollar each!  I was super excited because, well, I LOVE fresh pineapple.  We bought a whole bunch and have been enjoying them all week-long.

We had tried a grilled glazed pineapple at a restraunt we love (Tucano’s anyone?) and decided to try on our own!  This was mostly my husbands idea and concoction, and he’s the family grill master, so I left it up to him.  It was fantastic!!!

What you’ll need:

  • A whole fresh pineapple
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 T. lemon juice

Cut your pineapple like this…

Cut the top off…

Slice the skin off lengthwise, from the top down.

Mix together the brown sugar, (melted)butter and lemon juice…rub the glaze onto the pineapple.

Set it on the grill, with low heat, for 5-10 minutes, rotating it to grill all sides.

Slice pieces from the top down and ENJOY!  An amazing and healthy summer treat!


Don’t Worry…

Don’t Worry…

The other day I took a moment to peruse my Bible, looking for some things to read during our family worship time…I opened my Bible, and the first thing that caught my eye was a verse in Luke where Jesus is warning his disciples about worry…and since I worry a lot, I kept reading…

” Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more that food, and the body more than clothes….Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

-Luke 12:22-34

So…Jesus asks us not to worry…but how can we not?  There is so much that seems to deserve my worry.

Faith.  Faith can help us to live without worry.  Faith can grant us freedom from the fear, anxiety, and stress (and perhaps…a few less “worry lines” on my face) that come from worry.

While it is important for us to work hard, and make good choices, plan, be responsible…we can’t be worried about everything all the time.  It will do us no good.  It will only steal the joy of the moments we are living.

{Children are a great example of the joy that comes without worry…}

 During my last pregnancy, I was worried the whole time about health and finances and working…and it did me NO good.  So, my goal for myself is to not worry.  Or, at least, worry less.  God’s plan is set, and it is what it is.  So, I will do my best to enjoy my life, my pregnancy and my {beautiful} family every day, and have faith, that He knows what He is doing.

Other posts you might like…

Choosing to Live on One Income

DIY Household Cleaners

How to Save Money on Groceries



Tuesday Tutorial…Easy Snacking Idea!

Tuesday Tutorial…Easy Snacking Idea!

So…if your kids are anything like mine, they are ALWAYS asking for snacks.  We generally have two snack times a day and I try to have things prepared!

My favorite snacks are little trail mix bags I make ahead of time.

Easy to make!

Take out anything open in your pantry that your kids love…(it’s a great way to use up the last of the box)

  • cereals
  • nuts
  • popcorn
  • dried fruit
  • pretzels

{I usually add one or two “fun” items}

  • chocolate chips
  • marshmallows


I add all desired ingredients to a bowl…since we have bigger kids and a littler kiddo…I make two batches!

Big kids mix 

Little kid mix 

I scoop a generous handful into plastic bags and put them in a container.  Easy to grab and hand out to hungry little ones!

My kids put their baggies back on the counter when they are done, and they are easy to re-use!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup!!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup!!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup!!

Make a BIG batch, freeze, and use in all the great dishes that call for it…and it has less preservatives and is so much more flavorful!!

You’ll need…(this makes 10 {3} cup servings which is equal to 2 cans…for a total equivalent of 20 cans)

12 c. beef stock (I make my own whenever I cook large roasts)

12 c milk

9 cups flour

seasonings (salt, pepper, parsley, oregeno…anything that you and yours enjoy)

chopped mushrooms


Add seasonings and mushrooms to stock and bring to boil.

Mix flour and milk together is mixer with whip attachment and mix til smooth

Whisk flour/milk mixture into boiling stock

Whisking constantly… cook until thick.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pour into small plastic containers or into freezer safe bags.

I store in 3 cup increments, which is equal to 2 cans.

Put them in the freezer, and you have delicious, homemade soup ready to go!  PERFECT for so many recipes!!

My experience has been that it has a freezer life of 6 months in a regular freezer or up to a year in a deep freeze.

You can also do this with chicken stock and omit the mushrooms for cream of chicken soup!


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Crockpot Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Crockpot Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal

It’s Recipe Wednesday!  Here’s another easy breakfast recipe:  Crockpot Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal! Get it set before you go to bed and sleep all night to the delicious aroma of apple pie!  Then wake up and serve!  It doesn’t get much easier than that!


  • 2 cups dry steel-cut oats
  • 1 quart home-made apple pie filling (or 3 fresh apples peeled and chopped with 1 tsp apple pie spice)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or half-n-half if dairy isn’t an issue)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Mix all the ingredients except the almond extract in the crockpot and stir.  Set crockpot on low before you go to bed.   8-9 hours later this is what you get:

Stir in the almond extract before serving.  Add any extra sweetener, raisins, or chopped nuts to individual servings if you like.  It was sweet enough for us as it is.  {Note:  this is a little on the runnier side of oatmeal.  Cut back a little on the water if you like it a little thicker and less runny.}

Enjoy having dessert for breakfast!

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Tuesday’s {Cheating} Tutorial: Bread!

Tuesday’s {Cheating} Tutorial: Bread!

I’m going to cheat today.  Instead of blogging and preparing for a tutorial for today, I spent yesterday with my husband! (Thanks to my mother-in-law and sis-in-law!  Thank you!)  So, for today’s tutorial I’m sending you to Laura at Heavenly Homemakers. 

In my journey to eating lighter, healthier foods I’ve been transitioning from prepackaged store-bought to homemade foods, especially bread.  I want healthy yummy whole wheat bread without the preservatives.  And I found it!  Courtney introduced me to Heavenly Homemakers where there are tons and tons of great recipes, many with freshly ground whole wheat flour.  My favorite recipe though, is the bread. 

So here’s Laura’s tutorial on how to make a delicious whole wheat bread from scratch! I hope you’ll make it someday and enjoy it as much as we do!

My son grinding flour for bread!


Menu helps

Menu helps

If you want some meal ideas, check out Courtney’s menu for the week!  If this whole concept of meal planning is still a little intimidating here’s a couple of ideas that help me in the planning process:

  • Look at your calendar for the week and take note of activities planned.  Make sure dinners are something easy and fast for those busy nights where you’re running kids off to lessons or church programs.  An easy meal, like a crock pot meal you can make ahead or freezer meal that has the prep work all ready done would be a good option!
  • Check the freezer and cupboards to see what you have on hand and need to use up as you plan meals and grocery lists.  You can find some meal inspiration in your own kitchen and save a few bucks by not buying unnecessary items!
  • Use websites like and enter an ingredient and search all the different recipes listed, or use their menu planner. You might find a new family favorite!
  • Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, also recommends a program called e-meals where for a small fee they send you affordable meal plans that can be customized for special diets and take away the stress of planning.  I haven’t used it, but it’s another option out there!
  • Have a “theme” for each night of the week.  For instance I usually have a  crock pot meal on Mondays (our lesson nights), a Mexican flavor meal on Tuesdays, pasta or Italian dish which is usually fast on Wednesday (church night), stir fry or Asian food on Thursdays, and pizza is our usual Friday night meal.  Weekends I get my husband’s input since he likes to grill or cook fish when he’s home.  Other options would be a Soup night or having a meatless meal night every week. 
  • Ask kids!  As my kids get older and want to help more in the kitchen, I envision letting them help plan and cook a meal one night a week too.  (I stopped doing this after our big move but need to get back into the habit!) It’s a good skill to pass on and they’ll be more likely to eat the food they help plan and prepare!
My little kitchen helper!


Where do you find meal inspiration?


Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!




DIY Household Cleaners

DIY Household Cleaners

Over the past year I have switched to {almost} all DIY cleaners.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I make my own laundry soap and softener, but I have also started making all of my other household cleaners, with the exception of dishwasher soap.  They are saving me tons of money, trips to the store, and they are natural and safe for our home and family!


White Distilled Vinegar (I buy it at Costco, two gallon jugs are under four dollars!)

{Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and odor elimination!}

Dawn dish soap (which I frequently get for pennies using coupons!)

Olive Oil

Rubbing Alcohol

A few quality spray bottles

All Purpose Cleaner/ Disinfectant (countertops, appliances, windows, mirrors, almost anything!)

Mix equal parts vinegar and water (whatever fills your bottle)

One {tiny} squirt of dawn

One tablespoon (give or take) of rubbing alcohol

There are A MILLION versions of this recipie…so if you aren’t in love with mine, check around.  Some use ammonia as well.  I have found that the tiny bit of dawn gives it a little grease fighting power and the rubbing alcohol prevents streaks when using on mirrors and windows.

Shower/Bathroom Cleaner

2 cups HOT vinegar

6 tablespoons ( I measure by doing 6 squirts) of Dawn

Mix and spray away!

When cleaning my bathroom I use this spray everywhere…in the tub and toilet I sprinkle some baking soda after I use this spray to make an abrasive cleaner.

Furniture Polish

2 cups vinegar

1 cup olive oil

You will need to mix this up a little each time you use it, it will separate. 

If you want to get {fancy}, my mom came up with a natural way to get her cleaners to smell pretty!

Put vinegar in quart jars and added the rinds of citrus fruits (oranges and lemons)!!

Let them sit for a few weeks, strain, and use that vinegar for your cleaners!

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Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!