A blog about homesteading and getting back to a simpler lifestyle. Posts include subjects such as cooking from scratch, backyard gardening, canning, cooking, crafts, sewing and household DIY.
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Well, this is Memorial weekend. Most people have Monday off work, so it is the perfect time for a cookout. But cookouts are so common, what can you do to make yours different and special? Make it a Mexican fiesta! Everyone loves Mexican food, but instead of doing the same old tired taco/burrito menu, make traditional cookout food but with a Mexican flair! Here's some great recipes to make your fiesta cookout the most memorable ever!First and most important, are...
Well, this is Memorial weekend. Most people have Monday off work, so it is the perfect time for a cookout. But cookouts are so common, what can you do to make yours different and special? Make it a Mexican fiesta! Everyone loves Mexican food, but instead of doing the same old tired taco/burrito menu, make traditional cookout food but with a Mexican flair! Here's some great recipes to make your fiesta cookout the most memorable ever!
Mexican Bacon Burgers
- 2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies, drained (save liquid)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup salsa, pureed
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (learn to make it HERE)
- 3/4 cup finely crushed corn chips (not tortilla chips)
- 1 pound of thick cut bacon
- Chopped tomatoes
- Chopped ripe olives
- Shredded mexican cheese or pepper jack cheese
- Shredded lettuce
- Pickled pepper rings (hot or mild)
- Sour cream
Mexican Corn Salad
- 2 16 ounce of cans of corn or thawed frozen corn
- 1⁄2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1⁄2 cup diced red onion
- 1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 large minced and seeded jalapeno
- 1 cup finely shredded or crumbled cheese (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cumin (fresh or dried)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon taco seasoning (more or less to taste)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup black olives
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss well
- Cover and chill overnight
- Stir well and sprinkle cheese and fresh parsley on top before serving.
Another great side for a Fiesta Cookout is Mexican pasta salad. Like the Corn Salad, it should be made the day before and chilled overnight.
Mexican Pasta Salad
- 1 box of colored curly pasta noodles
- 1 can of Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, diced
- 1 can of black beans, drained
- 1 can olives, drained and sliced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Mix the dressing and put in the refrigerator to chill
- Cook the pasta in the normal manner, drain and set aside to cool
- In a large bowl mix the cooled pasta (do NOT try to mix this with hot pasta!), Rotel, beans, olives, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion and 1/2 of the cilantro
- Pour the chilled dressing over the pasta mixture and stir gently till combined
- Refrigerate overnight
- Top with the feta cheese and the other half of the cilantro and serve
I almost always serve fruit for dessert at my cookouts. I was happy to find this delicious recipe for chili lime seasoning that goes on fruit salad. It gives plain fruit salad a flavorful twist that I really love. I sprinkle it sparingly on the fruit and put a shaker of it on the table in case anyone wants more. It has been a hit and really gives the fruit salad some zip!
Mexican Fruit Salad
- 2 cups of pineapple chunks
- 2 cups of 1 x 1 inch watermelon chunks
- 2 cups halved strawberries
- 1 cup grapes (whatever color you prefer)
- 1 cup of 1 x 1 inch mango chunks
- 1 cup of 1 x 1 inch papaya chunks
- Juice of 1 lime
- Chili lime seasoning to taste
- Place fruit in a shallow layer in a large bowl and sprinkle lime juice and a small amount of chili lime seasoning
- Place another shallow layer on top and repeat till all fruit is in the bowl
- Stir gently to mix, cover and chill in refrigerator overnight
Chili Lime Seasoning
Now you can make Sangria in red or white and both are delicious. I decided on white for the fiesta cookout because it is lighter and more able to be flavored by summer fruit. Here is my favorite recipe:
- 3 cups of 1 x 1 inch watermelon cubes, frozen
- 2 cups of green seedless grapes, frozen
- 1 cup of 1/2 x 1/2 inch cantaloupe
- 1 cup of 1/2 x 1/2 inch honeydew melon
- 1 whole lime sliced thin in half rounds
- 2 cups dry white port wine
- 1 full bottle of Moscato
- 4 cups lime seltzer water
- Freeze grapes and watermelon cubes until completely hard
- Chill the seltzer and Moscato until completely cold
- Soak the cantaloupe and honeydew in a bowl of the port wine in the refrigerator for at least an hour (do not let them get mushy)
- In a punch bowl pour the seltzer and Moscato
- Remove the cantaloupe and honeydew from the port and put in the punch bowl (discard port)
- Add lime slices and stir with a wooden spoon to mix
- Right before serving add frozen grapes and watermelon
- If you want your sangria to be sweeter, you can add some simple syrup (learn how to make it here: How to Make Simple Syrup
Have a great Memorial Weekend!
This is my favorite punch bowl for two reasons. First, it is plastic and cannot be broken and second, it does not come with cups, which I never use (too small!)
Simple Syrup is an easy to make sweetener with so many uses! Many people think that use it think it is only good for making adult beverages. Now, while it is good for that, there are so many other uses for it, this is something you need to know how to make and how to use. Let's begin!The recipe to make simple syrup is, well, simple! It can be made with sugar, honey or agave nectar. As long as the ratio is 1:1 it will be perfect.Simple Syrup Using Sugar, Honey or...
Simple Syrup is an easy to make sweetener with so many uses! Many people think that use it think it is only good for making adult beverages. Now, while it is good for that, there are so many other uses for it, this is something you need to know how to make and how to use. Let's begin!
- Heat water until it is boiling and then add the sugar, honey or agave
- Reduce heat to medium and stir until syrup is no longer cloudy and immediately remove from heat
- Cool and pour into a container with a tight fitting lid
- Plain simple syrup will last in the refrigerator for up to a month.
- Coffee - use black coffee instead of water
- Fruit Juice - use instead of water
- Extracts - a drop or two for each cup of water
- Herbs - like basil, rosemary or mint
- Whole Spices - like cinnamon sticks, cloves or nutmeg
- Chilies - dried or fresh
- Vanilla Beans
- Edible Flowers - like rose petals or lavendar
- Ginger - sliced from the fresh root
- Fresh Fruit - see recipe below
If you use fresh fruit, then it really becomes fruit syrup, which is delicious on pancakes or waffles or even dribbled over fresh fruit salad.
- 1 cup fruit (fresh or frozen)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
Peel, de-stem, or remove seeds from the fruit, as appropriate.
Place the fruit, water, and sugar into a pot.
Cook the fruit with the sugar and water, bringing it to a boil and then lowering the heat to simmer.
Smash the fruit while it is cooking.
Simmer until the mixture has thickened to a syrupy consistency. This should take about 10 minutes.
Once the mixture has thickened, you can press it through a strainer to make a thin syrup.
If you prefer a thicker syrup, process the cooked syrup in a food processor.
Note: You don't necessarily need to thaw frozen fruit before cooking it, but if you can remember to take it out of the
freezer and put it in the refrigerator a few hours before your preparation, it would speed the cooking.
The soaker bottle on the left is one that I found on Amazon. It is like $5 cheaper than the one in the video, so if you want to buy one, that is where I got mine. It really does make putting simple syrup on a cake a lot easier and more uniform.
I know it seems like a strange thing to do and you would think that spraying your cake with liquid would make it a soggy mess, but it doesn't. It soaks into the cake and keeps it moist. It is also really great to infuse flavor into your cake. I made some syrup using coconut water and a dash of coconut extract and I put it on a pineapple flavored cake and you could really taste it! Voila! Pina colada cake! (you could even put a dash of rum in your simple syrup)
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1.5 sticks of softened butter
- 1 1/2 cup self raising flour
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar (can use honey or agave nectar)
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Line a5 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and flour sides
- In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter
- Add eggs and flour and stir until well combined (by hand or electric mixer)
- Stir in vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Empty mixture into tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Make your lemon infused simple syrup
- When the cake is done, remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes
- With a fork, poke holes into the top of the cake evenly all over
- Load your soaker bottle with warm syrup and evenly soak the top of the cake, letting the syrup soak in. Do not over use the syrup and make the cake soggy.
I serve this cake warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
- Make a cocktail
- Sweeten your coffee or hot tea
- Sweeten iced beverages
- Use it on a fruit salad
- Add it to your oatmeal or cold cereal
Boil the water in a small saucepan.
Add stevia and stir till dissolved and clear
Remove from heat and let cool
Store in a jar in the refrigerator, should stay good for at least 2 weeks
It's finally time to start my seeds. This winter has been so long and cold, I was beginning to wonder if it would ever end. But the time has finally arrived to plant my seeds and begin preparing my garden beds. It is exciting! Over the years of gardening, I have tried several methods of starting seedlings with varying success. I wasn't really impressed with any of them. Some were too expensive, some were too much trouble and some fell apart before I was...
Over the years of gardening, I have tried several methods of starting seedlings with varying success. I wasn't really impressed with any of them. Some were too expensive, some were too much trouble and some fell apart before I was able to replant. So last spring I had an idea while at a family restaurant. I tried it out because I wanted to see how it worked before writing about it. I think it worked like a charm and it was also cheap and easy! Can't get much better than that. Let me show you what I did.
I was rather discouraged till one evening in spring of 2017, my husband and I were sitting in a family style restaurant, and when the waitress set down my husbands fish and chips, I noticed the little paper cup of tartar sauce sitting on his plate and I wanted to shout "EUREKA!" Those little cups would be perfect to start seeds! They are food safe, fairly tough because they are expected to stand up to heavy sauces and ketchup, and they are paper, so they will break down fairly quickly when planted in the ground. You can even write on them, so they can be labeled!
First I labeled all the cups with what was to be planted in them. Then I took them outside
and began filling them with potting soil. Next the seeds went in, two in each cup
It didn't take long before they were up and growing. Unfortunately, the weather outside did not cooperate so I ended up letting them get bigger than I normally would have, but the cups held up very well.
When I got ready to transplant them, I saw that the roots were growing out the bottom. Another great thing about these cups is that they are soft enough to let the roots grow out the bottom, but they still hold together when you pick them up. I just took a piece of broken shovel handle and pushed it into the dirt to make a depression and then dropped in the cup and covered it with some loose dirt. The roots remain undisturbed and undamaged and the cups disintegrate within a week in the wet soil.
I think this idea is one I will be using from now on. Try it for yourself and you will see how easy it is. I save over $150 every year by growing my own seedlings instead of buying sets at the nursery. It is so simple, anyone can do it.
Have a great week and plant some veggies!
I was going through my old cookbook and I found an interesting recipe that I thought I would try. I had never heard of it before, but when I made it, I really thought it was delicious and it was fairly easy and not expensive. It will be even less expensive this summer when the harvest comes in and I am buried in peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes. A perfect dish for gardeners! I have no idea why it is called Spanish Micheal and the...
- 1 pound ground sausage
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups of uncooked rice (type not specified so your choice!)
- 1 quart of tomato puree
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tomatoes peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup peas (type not specified, I used English)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika or chili seasoning (I use smoked paprika)
- 1 cup cheese (type not specified so your choice!)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet mix sausage and oregano and fry until cooked through
- Remove meat from pan, leaving drippings
- Put rice in the pan and fry until it starts to turn brown, then add onion, garlic and pepper
- Fry all until the onion turns yellow and peppers are softened
- Add tomato puree, tomatoes, peas, sausage, paprika, salt and pepper if needed
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook until rice is soft
- Spoon mixture onto plates and sprinkle generously with cheese
- Serve as cheese melts with hot bread or biscuits.
The recipe does not say what kind of cheese, so that is a decision you will have to make. I used a sprinkling of Parmesan because I am not a fan of melted cheese on rice.
Experiment with different kinds or you could put a few different kinds on the table and let your family choose the cheese they like best! Enjoy!
Have a great weekend!
We got these little chicks on March 31st, roughly a month ago. At that time they were pretty small. When I look at them today, it is amazing how much they have grown, especially the meat birds. They have quadrupled in size, easily! Thankfully, their feathers are finally growing in, so the bald patches they have had since the beginning are filling in. They still are kind of shaggy looking, but they are slowly looking more like real chickens!In only one...
We got these little chicks on March 31st, roughly a month ago. At that time they were pretty small. When I look at them today, it is amazing how much they have grown, especially the meat birds. They have quadrupled in size, easily! Thankfully, their feathers are finally growing in, so the bald patches they have had since the beginning are filling in. They still are kind of shaggy looking, but they are slowly looking more like real chickens!
In only one month, they have gone from:
The meat chickens got so big, that we had to move them to the coop in the barn last weekend. I have to admit that since moving them, we have come to the realization that they are dumb as stumps. When we put them in the coop, we had a ramp going down under the coop into a screened area with a dirt floor. We showed them how to go down the ramp and to go back up. We showed them where their food and water were. We thought they were set. Wrong!
Considering how smart are laying hens and roo are, we are rather surprised that these meat chickens are such bird-brains!
Our two laying hen chicks were much smaller when we got them than the meat birds were. They have also grown, but not as much. Unfortunately, they have lost their baby chick cuteness and have progressed into the ragged look of birds that are growing feathers so they look a bit rough right now.
We seem to be overrun, these days, with baby animals. Our kitten is growing like a weed and is so feisty he just wears us out. I don't think there is anything as devilish as an growing kitten. Nothing is sacred to that little orange ball of fire. He really drives us crazy! Such is the way of a kitten. That is why they are so adorable, so you don't kill them! (just kidding) Here is a picture of the little scamp.
Have a great rest of the week! I will be using mine to plant my starter seeds, it is finally getting warmer here so hopefully the seedlings will be able to be planted outside in a few weeks when they are big enough.
Pinterest Image Below If you love bacon, this recipe is one you will want to keep. The delicious smoky flavor, the salty goodness, the delightful creaminess, this gravy has it all. It is delicious over biscuits, omelets, potatoes, meat......basically anything you want to put it on. It is the perfect gravy for just about any food. So here it is, for all you bacon lovers: Bacon Gravy! Ingredients:1/4 cup...
If you love bacon, this recipe is one you will want to keep. The delicious smoky flavor, the salty goodness, the delightful creaminess, this gravy has it all. It is delicious over biscuits, omelets, potatoes, meat......basically anything you want to put it on. It is the perfect gravy for just about any food.
So here it is, for all you bacon lovers: Bacon Gravy!
- 1/4 cup bacon drippings
- 2 pieces of bacon, cooked crisp
- 4 cups milk, divided
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Heat drippings in a skillet until liquid and add flour a bit at a time, stirring constantly
- When mixture is smooth, reduce heat and stir for 15 minutes until the color darkens to medium brown
- Add salt and pepper, and then add milk a small amount at a time, stirring constantly, until totally combined and smooth.
- Add crumbled bacon
- Simmer over low heat and stir until it reduces to the consistency you like
I am a fan of mushrooms so many times I include a 1/3 cup of mushrooms to this gravy and it makes it even better. You can put other things in it as well such as onions or peppers.
It is versatile as well as delicious! Have a great week!
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