Ratatouille and Vegit Lasagna

[This post was an experiment. First post using only phone photos and my android WordPress app.]

I made ratatouille for the first time today. Actually, I assembled it. The oven is preheating now. I have yet to see how it turns out or if my family will like it.


This was not a fast and easy recipe. I can’t decide if I want my kids to love this because I want them to eat more vegetables or hate it so I’ll never have to make it again.

This particular Ratatouille recipe came from HERE. Check out her mouth watering photos of premium veggies. And then there’s my week old Publix veggies because I was going to make this last week and never got around to it…


And my freakish ability to shoot a sliced vegetable across the counter just by slicing it…


My canned petite tomato (no salt added) based sauce…


And my vegetable stacking skills…


My obvious over estimation of the proper size pan needed.


I ran out of onions, tomatoes and eggplant so I decided to keep slicing the zucchini and yellow squash and make a pan of a family favorite, Vegit Lasagna.

(Vegit is a spice I found years ago and I order it in bulk from Amazon.)

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try:

First, spray the pan with Pam to prevent sticking. Then layer sliced zucchini and sprinkle on some Vegit.


Then some shredded cheese…


Then a layer of yellow squash sprinkled with Vegit…


Topped with more shredded cheese…


Repeat until you run out of veggies or they reach the height of your pan. I usually have a total of 4 layers.


I found three leftover slices of zucchini. I won’t say how far away.
Bake at 350 for about an hour. The same time and temp recommended to bake the Ratatouille.


We’ll be vegging out tonight.

blend until purple.

My daily addiction:

1 cup skim milk (90 calories)
1 cup fat free yogurt (any berry flavor) (100 calories)
2 fistfuls of frozen blueberries (1 cup = less than 85 calories)
6 frozen strawberries (about 5 calories each)
blend until purple.

An antioxidant, vitamin C loaded snack that tastes like dessert for around 300 calories!

I’ve spent decades of my life not eating fruit on a daily basis. I’ve gone weeks at a time without eating any fruit. Not because I don’t like it, because I really like most fruits. It just doesn’t occur to me to eat any. Multiple times per year, I make resolutions to eat just ONE fruit per day. Finally, I included it on my fitness log (see the sidebar to the right) to try and put myself in a situation where I have to be accountable.

I also have a problem getting enough calories, which causes my metabolism to drop. I tend to forget to eat.

Smoothies solve both problems. I’m actually consuming fruit on a daily basis for the first time in my life and making them is easy and takes less than 5 minutes, so eating doesn’t intrude on my day. It doesn’t hurt that I actually crave them now.

I stumbled upon the smoothie idea while trying to get PinkGirl to consume some sort of nourishment in the morning. Trying to get that girl to eat breakfast before school is a chore! A few friends suggested I try smoothies and since PinkGirl loves Planet Smoothie, I thought it might work. It only took about 3 or 4 months to finally hit on a recipe that I actually liked. (for ME, not her. She still wavers about what she likes. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a recipe she really likes.)

But I was having blender issues. If the Vitamix is the BMW of blenders, it seems my little Oster was the VW bug of blenders. It was either forming a little pocket of air at the bottom and doing nothing or it was spinning like crazy and only blending the bottom half of my smoothie. I had to add more and more milk to thin it out so the blender would actually blend the entire smoothie.

I put a new blender on my Christmas list.

Which really irritated me because I own an Oster Kitchen Center with nearly every possible attachment, similar to this one:

It transforms from a blender to a chopper to a slicer to a mixer to a juicer to a . . . it does everything but clean itself. We got one as a wedding present from my husband’s parents and about 10 years ago, it died and I replaced it at our church’s WHALE of a Sale. Since all Oster attachments are interchangeable with every Oster made, I even bought a newer countertop blender to switch to the chopper when I needed it:


So I was not looking forward to having a different blender on my countertop. It was going to mess up my system.

FirstHusband surprised me with an early Christmas present: An Oster Milkshake blade for my blender!

My little Oster just got tricked out!

And THIS ONE is also on its way, so we’ll see which one works better.

poor jack.

I’ve murdered jack.

cut him up into small chunks.

Now, I’m boiling jack.

pureeing jack.

and freezing liquified jack.

soon I’m going to bake him in a few loaves of bread.

later this month, we might even turn him into soup.

poor jack.

(and his friend, Harry Potter.)

Check out the recipes – both with a print-friendly version in PDF:
Bread Recipe: jack-o-bread
Soup Recipe: Mom’s Pumpkin Soup

(After spending so much money on pumpkins, I can’t, in good conscience, just throw them away. Have you SEEN the price of canned pumpkin these days?) eek!

NOTE: If you BLEACHED your pumpkin to make it last longer – do NOT do this.

how to be the best mom EVER! (for a few minutes anyway)

Her children rise up and call her blessed…
Proverbs 31:28

…because she threw frozen chicken wings in a crock pot, smothered them with a bottle of barbecue sauce and cooked them on high for four hours selflessly dedicated four hours to cooking perfect, fall off the bone tender chicken wings dripping in finger-licking good sauce.

Prep/Work time? 5 minutes
End result? sticky fingers and happy kids

I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for “dump it in the crock pot and walk away” recipes, so if you have one, LINK UP or post it in a comment!!!

Click on over to check out the recipes at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa at Blessed With Grace MY past Tempt My Tummy posts can be found HERE.

Need more? Head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam MY previous Tasty Tuesday posts are HERE. Tasty Tuesday posts prior to April of 2009 can be found at Forever . . . Wherever

Wassail. revised.

(I originally posted this back in December of 2008, but I’ve made a revision since then. I used to float cloves in a coffee filter, sealed with a twist tie. Not very Martha of me, I know. But I’m reformed. Check out the photo below.)

When I was in high school and college, I sang at a few madrigal dinners. If you’re unfamiliar with madrigal dinners, here’s a sampling. (and no, I’m not in this video).

Wassail Song

One thing was a constant in every madrigal dinner – Wassail. It’s a kind of warm cider drink my choral director would make every year. I’ve made it on Christmas Eve for years. It’s a family favorite and a longstanding tradition. It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare, but allow it to simmer for a couple of hours in the pot if you really want the flavors to blend together.


1/2 gallon apple juice
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 orange (optional)

Pour all juices in a pot or crockpot.
Float Cinnamon sticks in the pot.

Here’s the update:
Take an awl and poke holes in an orange in any pattern that strikes you. Then insert the stems of whole cloves in the holes. Float the cloved orange in the pot while simmering.

When it the smell starts to waft, you know it’s gonna be GOOD.


For a print friendly version CLICK HERE.

freezerburn soup.

So, what do you do with meat that’s gotten a little freezer burn because it’s been left in the freezer longer than it should have been? Don’t throw it away!

“Freezerburn Soup” is a favorite in this house. Here’s how it works:

Around the holidays, FirstHusband smokes an abundance of meat in the smoker because he can’t seem to use his smoker unless he completely FILLS his smoker. Then, for days after, we eat all the smoked meat we can eat . . . and freeze all the smoked meat we can’t eat.

Then, just before the holidays the next year, we realize we need to make room for this year’s abundance of meat, so we start pulling out what’s left over from the year before. Often, it’s on the edge (or over the edge) of freezerburn. Rather than throw it out, FirstHusband invented Freezerburn Soup.

He fills the crockpot with the the frozen meat, covers it with vegetable stock (we freeze stock and store it flat in ziplock bags). He turns the crockpot on overnight and we wake to a great smelling kitchen. (And usually a counter of boiled over stock, but today wasn’t too much of a mess.) Then he removes the meat, lets it cool, de-bones it, puts it BACK in the crockpot with whatever veggies he can find.

By FirstHusband: “Add some earthy spices like coriander, sage, parsley sometimes even hickory smoked seasoning. The mix simmers in the crockpot all day making the house smell great.”

. . . and torturing FavoriteSon with the waiting.

That meat you thought was a goner has now been infused with stock for nearly 24 hours and is moist and tender!

Second to last step, a couple hours before serving, he adds wild rice. Then in the last 15 minutes, he adds 6-8 crushed bullion cubes. (I’ve put in a request to go easy on the bullion – the sodium is a little much for me.)

And then, if we’re lucky, we end up with this: half a crockpot of freezerburn soup. Unless we’re really hungry and eat the entire pot.

There’s not really a recipe for this, it turns out different every time because FirstHusband changes the spices each time. He’s also used pasta instead of rice before. I wonder what orzo would do for this soup? hmmm.

Find more helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes! Check out MY past Kitchen Tip Tuesday posts HERE

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

1/8 cup of chocolate syrup helps the vitamin c and potassium go down.

It’s sometimes a daily challenge to get my kids to eat fruit. In my house, when a kid stands in front of the fridge with the door open, this is my “go to” snack. If I offer this up before they head over to the pantry, they don’t have time to choose carbs over fruit.

Sugar-free chocolate syrup (we don’t have problems with artificial sweeteners)
Banana sliced with my favorite banana slicer and
Strawberries (DO NOT use the banana slicer on the strawberries or you’ll need a new banana slicer)

This never fails to disappear in my house. And it’s just too easy. The kids can go through a pint of strawberries in the blink of an eye. But that’s kinda the goal.

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

we collect black bananas. really.

We go through bananas pretty quick in this house, but occasionally, we find a few black, soft bananas on our little banana hanger. Before they start to grow hair and drip, we pop them in the freezer, skin and all. We collect bananas for a few months until we have enough to bake our favorite banana bread. Then they get ignored in the back of the freezer until I feel like baking. Let’s face it, by the time I feel like baking, I always have enough to make two…three…maybe four loaves of banana bread.

This is what the bananas look like when we pull them out of the freezer:

I just put them all in a bowl and fill it full of warm water to thaw:

Then, we tear one end off of each banana:

And squeeze like toothpaste:

Add the remaining ingredients and mix!

I smell banana bread!!!

Find more helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes! Check out MY past Kitchen Tip Tuesday posts HERE

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

it’s easy to cook dinner. what’s difficult is to cook dinner EVERY DAY.

I’ve been cooking dinner. Every day. And I’m not talking frozen, microwavable meals.

this is a big deal people.

Yesterday, I made Pork Tenderloin Diane for the first time since I originally posted the recipe back in January.

It’s a fast, easy, cheap recipe with a light sauce made from deglazing a pan with lemon juice, Worcester sauce and Dijon mustard. Except I didn’t have any lemon juice. FirstHusband (a sauce man) said he would substitute Sprite, but that just seemed too sweet. I googled “substitute lemon juice” and found a suggestion to use vinegar – but half the needed amount. I was doubling the sauce for this recipe and it called for a total of four tablespoons of lemon juice so I used two tablespoons of vinegar.

PERFECT. The sauce tasted exactly as I remembered it and everyone liked it – even PinkGirl!

I’m definitely going to remember this because I probably won’t remember to buy lemon juice in the near future. I know me. But vinegar is a great substitute for lemon juice when used in small amounts.

And I wouldn’t substitute vinegar if I was making lemonade from scratch.

Me. make lemonade from scratch. yeah. that’ll happen.

Find more helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes! Check out MY past Kitchen Tip Tuesday posts HERE

EASY Easter Bunny Cake

Wilton also makes this great Easter Bunny cake pan as an alternative.
Wilton also makes this great Easter Bunny cake pan as an alternative.

I originally blogged about this Easter Bunny Cake back in April 2009, but every year around Easter, it’s my most popular post. If you make it, post a link to a photo or comment and let me know how it turned out!

Growing up, my mom often made an Easter Bunny cake like the one below for Easter. My favorite version of this cake is dark chocolate with white icing, covered in coconut!

Like a GIANT Mounds bar – but BETTER!
(page down for more decorating ideas)


Check out this great 8 day devotional and activity guide to help families teach their little ones that Easter is about more than candy and Easter Bunnies!
Check out this great 8 day devotional and activity guide to help families teach their little ones that Easter is about more than candy and Easter Bunnies!


Bake a cake, any cake, in two round cake pans. (Mine will be dark chocolate, in case I neglected to mention that. There is no reason for me to eat cake unless it is chocolate.) Let it cool and then cut it like you see in the photo on the left, below. On the serving plate (my mom always used a piece of cardboard covered in aluminum foil), CAREFULLY arrange it like the photo on the right, below. I’ve also seen the cake arranged so that one of the bunny ears is lopsided. Very cute.



Then, frost and decorate! My mom always frosted it white and covered it with coconut shavings as a base. Dark chocolate cake with coconut – mmmm – just like a Mounds bar. But CAKE!

Here’s some more decorating ideas:

I really like the whiskers and mouth on this one to the left, but I think it’s because it reminds me of a cat – which makes me wonder if this is an easy convert to a black cat cake! DOUBLE DARK CHOCOLATE. (Although at that point, it would be so rich I wouldn’t be able to finish a piece.)

Scroll down and check out a retro, kid friendly how-to video from ZOOM, a PBS show I used to watch as a kid! A Zooma Zooma Zooma Zoom!

The one on the left below looks the most like what we made when I was a kid, and I really like the ears on the one on the right. Are those red hot candies?



This next one on the left has GREAT eyes! And they don’t look too difficult. Love the strong Red Twist outline of the bow tie on the one to the right. I think I would take my favorite parts of each of these guys and put them all together on one cake. Dark chocolate, of course.