Winner Announced: OAMC’s Family Favorites

Congratulations Jolyn (from McCombMoneySavers)- You are the winner of the Once A Month Cooking Family Favorites Cookbook!  I’ve sent an email to you so just email me back and claim your prize!

I  hope you enjoy the cookbook and find it as useful as I have!

In other new today, I’m keeping things brief today!  I just finished my final exam for my counseling course (yay!) and have a Math midterm (ohhh, please pray!) to focus on.  We had plans to pick apples today, but it’s been wet and the forecast predicts SNOW, so we are taking things one moment at a time.  Roy & I have a DATE NIGHT planned tonight – and I’m looking forward to some time with him!  Our church is hosting a Date Night for couples and I’m really excited about it!

Otherwise – hope you all have a terrific weekend.  Oh – if you’re looking for some GREAT recipes, not only will you find them at The Better Baker – you should also visit Stop and Smell the Chocolates!  Lisa has hosted a Fall Fruits Festival at her site and I’ve seen some YUMMO recipes!  Today the festival culminates in recipes involving, what else?  CHOCOLATE – and she’s offering a giveaway for all 5 days so if you have some great Fall Fruit recipes – post and link up before the deadline!


Prayer And Business: Ideal Partners

Alyssa Avant, of Beauty By Design Ministries, has been a guest blogger here on occasion.  She and I have had several opportunities to connect through a variety of social networks like Twitter, A Woman Inspired Conference, and other places.  I always enjoy my conversations with her, and we are developing a really sweet online friendship.

We are now venturing into talks about a partnership for a website and ministry working together.  She shared this post earlier this week – Prayer & Business, They Go Hand in Hand.  It’s very exciting and we are praying over it daily.  More on these developments later!

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On another fun note, I posted a great recipe at Cuppa Love for Teapot Cookies.  Now, they’re not really made out of teapots!  They are just YUMMY cookies cut into cute teapot shapes.  If you love shortbread cookies, try this recipe out – they are buttery and not too sweet.  Perfect for your next cup of tea!

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Speaking of tea, I’ve been trying some new flavors from Mt Olive Treasures.  Their website is under construction – but I selected this tea because it was formulated (in Israel) using olive leaves, pomegranate leaves and hyssop in every blend.  Their website is under construction, but here’s their Facebook Fan page!  I’m out of my Teaporia teas, and found this collection to tide me over until I place my next order.

Muffin Monday

One of the multitude of benefits of my blogging internship is the extreme exposure to foodie blogs.  I’ve found some pretty great cooks, bakers & bloggers – and now I’m a loyal follower of many of them.

I’ve tried several new recipes (and have more to try), but I have to say my favorite is the Yummy Donut Muffins recipe I wrote about on Family Foodies.  Adding sour cream to the original recipe really made a big difference in the flavor and texture of the baked product.  The muffin recipe alone is very moist and has a texture very much like a muffin/donut combo.  It takes so good and so fresh – and that’s what continues to inspire me to try variations.

I’ve made them several times and each time I tweak them a bit for a twist.  It’s nice to try some different flavors, and I’m anxious to try more.

This weekend I mashed 1 banana and added it to the wet ingredients before adding the dry.  Just one banana gave them a really great flavor and some added nutrition.

This morning I added 3 Tbsp of peanut butter and then added a dollop of grape jelly before baking.  The peanut butter flavor is mild (I’d probably add at least 1 more Tbsp) but the girls loved it for breakfast.  Think about the variations you could make with creamy or crunchy peanut butter – and the jams/jellies are endless.

My next thought was to add some strong coffee (to replace a bit of the milk) and mini chocolate chips…

Other ideas I’ve had:

banana & walnuts

cinnamon chips & cinnamon-sugar topping

strawberry jam filling with powdered sugar topping

cocoa powder (in place of some flour) and cinnamon-sugar topping

Can you make any suggestions???

This is one of those very basic recipes that really has an endless number of variations and possibilities!

The one ingredient I would recommend you not substitute for in this recipe is the shortening.  While I’ve always used coconut oil and produced a great muffin, today I was scraping the bottom of my jar and had to use some margarine.  The end product tasted fine, but the muffins were just, well – muffins.  The end result was very different and the shortening seems to be the key to producing the donut-like texture!

Feel free to comment with your suggestions or ideas about variations to this recipe!

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Are You Stressed Out, Mom?

I’ve been blessed in the past several weeks by the ministry of Cindy Rushton.  I’ve been able to listen to some of her audio recordings, download some goodies, and am really finding my way!  Her heart for the Lord (and her sweet, southern drawl) just reach out to me.  She reminds me very much of another Cyndi I dearly love.  I wanted to share this with you – and hope it helps you the way it has me!

Quick Tips For the Perpetually Late, Disorganized, Stressed Out Mom!

By Cindy Rushton

Does this SPEAK to you?  Nothing is more frustrating than great intentions but failure with the time management, organization, and gentle spirit thing!  So, what can REALLY help? Need a bit of hope?  Practical ideas? Well, beloved, here are a few tips that have made a world of difference for me:

Read the rest of this entry »

Ta-Da Tuesday – Moms Rock!

Curly’s older cousin, Moe, gave her a Tshirt recently that is bright yellow with a hot pink graphic on the front that reads, “My Mom Rocks!” (I’d post a pic, but it’s in the dirty laundry at the moment…) I read it to her the first time she wore it, and now every time she puts it on, she says proudly “My Mom Rocks!” and does a little happy dance. I don’t even pay her to do that – somehow she just knows!

One great thing about moms – among the myriad of great things about moms – is how most of us are on the lookout for the best deal, the best product, the best program, the best idea for our families.  That is not to say that dads don’t – but I think moms (or at least the moms I know) are always looking to get the most of something for the least (time, money, effort, etc) !  Call it opportunistic, call it clever – Moms are very resourceful and the world wide web certainly showcases their skills!

Since most moms are looking for ways to save money and time, there are a plethora of websites (I love the word Plethora) offering advice and help to meet this growing need.  It just so happens that several of these sites are organized by one or two or several moms who put their heads together and came up with some amazing ideas:

oam-logoOnce a Month MomThis blog is designed to teach anyone how to cook only ONCE each month!  Can you imagine?  The idea is to get with a friend and spend one day cooking meals together that will last for a month.  With pre-made menu plans, recipes, and shopping lists – these two moms really make it sound possible!  I’ve copied some of their recipes to try because they sound so yummy – and they even offer recipes for making baby food.  Not only that, but they have a lot of posts linking to online coupons and savings for your shopping needs!  Because meals are already prepped, it’s easy to just pull one from the freezer to thaw for dinner, and the idea is that you’re less likely to spontaneously splurge on dinner out (which can cost so much more than cooking at home!)  I am starting off slowly – partially because I have a fairly small freezer, but I am looking to move to cooking only twice a month on a regular basis in the next few months.

coupon-graphicDo you Coupon?  My mom is a serious Coupon Queen!  I have been slower to get on that bandwagon, but I’ve been signing up with several free coupon vendors lately and finding some great coupons on things I normally buy.  Most of these coupon sites have been linked from great Mommy Blogs focusing on saving money, living frugal and being thrifty!  Some of these coupons are available to print from online, some offer coupons for groceries and other items, and at some you can find coupons and you can enter your shopping card information (e.g. Kroger Plus Card) for special coupons & savings at your favorite stores.  Then, there are communities (Like the Consumer Queen Message Boards or the Coupon Cupboard Coupon Forum) where members share their expertise in finding the best deals and savings (seriously – one gal bought over 100 boxes of cereal for only $10!!!) and share links to great coupon finds.  There are coupon sites like Coupon Suzy (free registration) and The Grocery Game (small membership fee) that also offer tons of savings!  Are YOU a coupon expert?  Feel free to share great coupon websites or blogs in the comment section!

yggbanner_tinyFor all of you gardening types – this website has really inspired me.  You Grow Girl is just BEAUTIFUL – and if you need advice or tips for gardening (of any kind) this is a great resource to have.  Urban and back yard gardening is making a serious comeback as people are looking to eat better and save money.  If you need any help getting started (or expanding your garden) , this site has a lot to offer!


Are you interested in locally grown produce but don’t know how to find it?  Check  out Local Harvest.  After searching on their website, I was thrilled to discover several small family-owned farms nearby that I was only vaguely familiar with (in that – “oh look, they have a farm” kind of way).  Not just for fresh, organic produce, but also for eggs, dairy, meat, and more – if you want to save money and support local business, plug in your info and see what you can find.  (If you’re looking for heirloom seeds for your garden, they have some recommendations there, as well!)

momsbudget150Moms Budget.  This is a site I visited recently for some printables – that I bookmarked to spend more time with later.  Tips to manage cooking, cleaning, bills & expenses, as well as health & beauty, recipes, and more, this is a site loaded with information to help any mom with just about any thing.

5m4m-120x120-15 Minutes for Mom.  This site by and for moms, which recently featured the Ultimate Blog Party 2009, has so much to offer you really have to visit it yourself.  Giveaways, contests, a blog directory, practical tips for just about everything you can think of and several different newsletters – it’s a website worth visiting and subscribing to for a number of reasons.  Janice & Susan, twin WAH Moms, built this website to showcase and support moms of all kinds.  Resources for working at home, parenting tips, links to mom-owned stores – seriously, I couldn’t list everything they have to offer.  So hop on over and check it out for yourself!

foodstoragebuttonFood Storage Made Easy.  So you’ve done your shopping with coupons, bought local produce, tried some new recipes, and you just want to do more?  This is a blog by 2 moms who are attempting to store a full year’s worth of food as part of an emergency preparedness plan.  This takes some serious thought!  While I’m not sure I could manage a full year’s supply, for us even an extra month’s supply could be helpful.  I don’t think it’s entirely out of the question that in times like these, we should think about being prepared for any kind of emergency, and having even a few weeks’ supply of food stored would be beneficial.  This site is FULL of information that can guide you into having a plan for an unexpected event.  You can sign up for their newsletter, which delivers a series of “Baby Steps” guiding you into the process of storing food long term.  They are also having a giveaway these steps in a new All-in-One Binder – you can enter by clicking on the logo below:


Hopefully you can find something useful at one or more of these sites.  If you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it – feel free to leave a comment or contact me and I will see what I can find.

Until next time,


Monday Munchies

I am really finding a lot of great recipes from Allrecipes.  I found my Amish Friendship Sourdough Starter there, and several recipes to use it in.

I’ve made this recipe twice in the past four days:  Sourdough Scones.

I am a big fan of scones.  As a matter of fact, the girls & I often have a mid-afternoon snack because Roy works late and we normally don’t eat supper until 7:30 pm.  Enter:  Afternoon Tea!!! (as if I needed an excuse…)

I’ve tried several scones mixes – and like them for their variety of flavors and ease of preparation.  This White Chocolate Raspberry scone mix from Teaporia is really great – not overly sweet, but very flavorful.

The Sourdough Scone recipe was very tasty.  And because it only contained basic ingredients, I personalized it both times for our preferences.  The first time I believe I did not add the right amount of flour as they sorta all baked together, but the flavor was still great:  I mixed in cranberries and some flaxseed meal (for the added fiber & Omega-3s).

Today, I mixed up the recipe, using 1 tsp. cinnamon.  When it was mixed together, I stirred in 1/2 cup (peeled & chopped) apple and 2 Tbsp. milk so it would blend together.  It smelled like apple pie before & during baking.  And the flavor is amazing.  I am partial to apple, which is why I love the Amish Friendship Bread III recipe.

Note:  I don’t roll them out and cut them  – I just drop them like big ol’ biscuits on the pan.  I prefer sweeter scones, but I’m going to try some savory versions soon.  Roy likes more savory ones – maybe some minced onion and shredded cheddar – served alongside scrambled eggs & bacon…

Mmmm – maybe I’ll have to try that tomorrow!

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So Good to Be Home Again!

Family vacations.  Does this bring back memories for you, too?

I remember the many driving trips to visit friends & relatives while I was growing up at home – and some of them are my favorite childhood memories.  My dad was a sort of “Clark W. Griswold” before it was cool – and and took it upon himself to take us to some adventuresome places – including Wall Drug…  We never made it to Wally World, but we sure did have some good times.  (If I had pics handy, I’d definitely post them!)

The scenery is beautiful – driving through Cincinnati, OH (one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever seen) and Lexington, KY (one of the greenest parts of the country I’ve ever seen) is my favorite part of the trip!  One of these days we’ll stop and take some time to enjoy the area more.



The girls were SO good and traveled so well!  We looked for cows and horses.  Saw sheep and goats and even some deer.  We loved the scenery!  It was nice to see more evidence of Spring the further south we drove!

img_0693It was also really nice having Mamaw along on our trip, too.  Curly & Georgie really enjoyed having a captive audience…

Being “the mom” now, driving trips aren’t quite what they used to be, but they can still be really enjoyable.  Our trip to visit relatives in Southeast Kentucky was something to remember – not because we spent tons of money or visited some overpriced tourist sites.  Nope – it was because we sang songs along with Bob the Tomato & Larry the Cucumber (sometimes at the top of our lungs) and sat on Mommy Reynolds’ Front Porch Swing while the sun shined.

Mommy Reynolds
Mommy Reynoldsimg_0706

Mommy Reynolds is the family matriarch – 96 years old and SHARP as a tack!  Biblically grounded with a sparkle in her eye, Mommy raised 5 daughters in the Kentucky hills and hollows, married to the same man for almost her entire life.  I never got to meet Poppy Reynolds, but the stories I’ve heard sure make me wish I had!

Not to mention that Mommy really enjoyed the Amish Friendship Bread I took along.  What a nice treat!

Life in southeastern Kentucky, where my husband Roy’s parents grew up and where much of his extended family lives, is very simple.  Sure, there are satellite dishes and cell phones – but it’s a place where people can slow down and enjoy time together with family on the front porch.


Watching our girls play together – with distant cousins – and just “getting away” was so beneficial for us.  The girls adjusted really well to meeting many new people throughout our long weekend, and they played well together, too.  (That’s one of my favorite parts of my growing up family vacations – my brothers & I had a lot of fun together and enjoyed spending time with each other.

img_0732And Roy, Curly & I visited the “crik” out back and threw stones and watched sticks float away down the stream.  Later we saw the nesting ducks swimming around looking for breakfast.

We took several drives into the mountains – even down to Knoxville, TN – which we hope to visit again.  It was a nice time for us to be together – without a lot of distractions…  There’s something relaxing about hearing roosters crowing, watching horses grazing, spotting blue jays and bluebirds – in a place where the redbuds are already in full bloom – that make ya stop & think…

But it was really nice to just come home again.  There is something comforting about that “spot” we call our own – and despite the dishes piled in the sink (because of COURSE I had to bake more Sour Cream Banana Breadalso see below – after we got home last night!), this is OUR place.  This is where My People live.  It’s where we reside together – and grow together – and love each other.

It’s good to be home again.

Here is the Sour Cream Banana Bread recipe with my modifications noted:

* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3/4 cup butter
* 3 cups white sugar
* 3 eggs
* 6 very ripe bananas, mashed
* 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 teaspoons baking soda
* 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease four 7×3 inch loaf pans. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Dust pans lightly with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 3 cups sugar. Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda and flour. Stir in nuts. Divide into prepared pans.
3. Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I used 3 – 9″x5″ pans and baked for 1 hr 10 minutes.

The cinnamon sugar pan dusting is optional – but adds a nice crispy edge to the crust…

I also used less sugar in the recipe because 3 cups seems like way too much. I used 1 scant cup of white sugar, 1 scant cup brown sugar (NOT packed), and 1/2 cup of honey. The bread tastes plenty sweet to us.

I did not have eggs, so I used flaxseed meal as an egg substitute = 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal whisked with 3 Tbsp of water for each egg needed.  The great thing is – it adds fiber and Omega-3s to the recipe with no cholesterol!

Here’s more info about flaxseed meal:

We are enjoying this for breakfast this morning.  Here’s another post about breakfast with a yummy-sounding muffin recipe I’m going to have to try soon!