Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Okay, so full disclosure: having a toddler DOES take up a lot more time than a newborn.  The baby that used to sleep 20 hours a day now only sleeps like 12-14.  That’s a lot of hours I used to have to myself…

Anyway, just wanted to share this recipe for honey whole wheat bread.  I was looking for a good sandwich bread, that’s also toddler friendly.  Norah was having trouble chewing the English muffin bread I made because it’s super crunchy, and, well, chewy.  So, away to Pinterest I went, and it delivered.  This recipe is amazing and easy.  And full of fiber – of which everyone can use a little more.  (It’s not 100% whole wheat however.  If you’re looking for that, I suggest doing at least half white whole wheat.)  It took awhile to find a good recipe that didn’t have a million extra weird ingredients that I would have to buy.  Flaxseed meal is probably the only thing you don’t have, and it’s relatively (to wheat germ and 4 kinds of flour) cheap at the grocery store.  Since you don’t use a ton in this recipe it should last you a few months.  It’s also easy to throw into yogurt or other recipes for extra fiber.  The bread is freezable, too, of course.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread | Jersey Up!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Summer Harms

Makes 2 loaves

5 cups warm water
4.5 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (or bread machine/instant yeast – same thing)
1/2 cup honey
3.5 cups whole wheat flour (you can also use half whole wheat and half white wheat)
5 cups all purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup ground/meal of flaxseed
3 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl or in your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  Dough should be easy to handle and not too sticky.
2. Separate dough into two greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise.  (I use plastic wrap, but a towel is fine too.)  It will probably take about an hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  To speed the process, place the pans on top of your preheating oven.
3. Bake at 375˚ for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
4. Brush melted butter on top, and allow the loaves to cool completely on a rack.
5. To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap and then tin foil.  Defrost on the counter uncovered.

Spicy Sausage Pasta

I am on a spicy sausage kick lately.  Sometimes I am really good about varying my monthly menu.  And then this month, we have rice 3 times and spicy sausage twice in one week.  I mean, as long as they taste good, who cares, right?  Maybe one day I’ll be perfect.  But until then…

…you should go out to the store right now and buy these ingredients and make this pasta.  IT IS SO GOOD.  AND EASY.  One pan.  No really, you don’t even have to boil the pasta first.  We probably make this recipe once a month now.  Not only are you being introduced to one of the world’s best pasta recipes, you are also getting to know Kevin and Amanda.  You’re welcome.

Spicy Sausage Pasta | Jersey Up!

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Spicy Sausage Pasta
Adapted from Kevin and Amanda

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked turkey sausage
1.5 cup diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth
10 oz diced tomato and green chiles
1/2 cup heavy cream
16 oz pasta (any kind ya like)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (though let’s be honest, I use more)
1/3 cup diced scallions

1. Heat olive oil in oven-safe skillet.  Slice sausage into bite size pieces and brown with onions in the skillet.  Add garlic and saute for less than a minute.
2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in half your cheese.  Top with other half and broil until cheese is melted and browned.  Top with scallions.

To be a little more budget friendly, we use chicken bouillon instead of buying chicken broth.  Since we use it a lot in casseroles and soups, we save just a ton of money.  It’s a little extra prep but well worth the savings.

Wild Rice & Sausage Casserole

It is unseasonably cold here in Michigan.  As in, it was 40something degrees this morning.  IT IS AUGUST.  Mother Nature, you have overcompensated last year’s 105˚ just a tad.  The weather has me dreaming of all the fall and winter dishes I’ve pinned recently.  But it’s summer!  Everything should be ate outside!  Off the grill!  But, should I really deny myself yummy casseroles just because of the calendar?  No, my friends, the casserole wins.  I don’t care what you say about the casserole; I love her.

So, I’ve had my eye on this recipe for awhile.  Spicy sausage.  Wild rice.  Mushroom soup.  Mmmmm.  But, when I checked out the ingredient list, all the measurements were just too easy.  Everything was a cup!  That can’t be normal.  Ahh, it was Stefanie’s leftover smorgasbord night.

Note: Perhaps I should READ blogs instead of just drooling over pictures before grocery shopping.  Wait, you don’t scroll through Pinterest in the baking aisle?  Oh, just me then.

But the recipe looked so. so. good.  I have never been good at faking it til I made it, but I didn’t think the worst case scenario (take out anyone?) was all that bad.

Wild Rice Sausage Casserole | Jersey Up!

I always look for an excuse to eat cornbread.

Wild Rice & Sausage Casserole
Adapted from Lovely Little Snippets

1lb spicy sausage, browned
2 cups white or brown rice
2 boxes wild rice w seasoning packets
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups frozen chopped broccoli
2 cups water (plus extra if needed)
1 cup milk
26 oz jar cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Brown sausage and drain fat.
2. Combine all ingredients and stir well.  You should have quite a bit of liquid not mixed in.  This is okay.  In fact, if you have enough liquid that you’re nervous this is a soup recipe instead, you probably have enough.
3. Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes covered.  Bake an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

*Tip: You could pre-cook your rice before baking the casserole.  I decided this was too much work and risked crunchy rice.  Which serve me right, I got!

*Tip #2: You may want to check your casserole periodically and add water as necessary.  My rice was still a little crunchy and I think if I was patient enough and added more water (or milk) and cooked it longer, it would have been perfect.  Even though patience is a virtue, it runs and hides from me when I’m hungry.  🙂

This recipe is easily freezable – especially if you decide to cook the rice before hand.

Let me know how yours turns out – how much water/milk did you add to make your rice fluffy?  

Lemon Alfredo Veggie Pasta (& one strawberry)

Now that I am actually getting fruit from my garden (no, really!) I am trying to find new ways to eat them fresh.  I realize at some point I’m going to have to can/freeze because I’ll (hopefully) get too much to eat.  But for now I’m enjoying eating what I’ve grown.  It’s really, really cool.

The other day, Norah and I were playing outside and I realized my strawberry plant had the most perfect cutest red strawberry on it!  I really didn’t expect it to fruit this year, so I was shocked.  We picked it, and ate it warm right from the plant.  YUM!

Strawberry Plant | Jersey Up!

Guessing by the face, it’s a little tart.

I also had some crookneck squash to eat, though I wouldn’t recommend eating that right off the plant.  😉  Since I’m not sure if the squash is dying or not, I wanted to rescue the few that “came of age” recently to eat.  (I just made up that gardening phrase, but I really like it!)  We have been eating on a budget lately and I’ve been trying to eat what we actually have in the cabinets (I know, right?) and buying only what’s on sale – with a coupon if we’re lucky.  So I had some lemons, alfredo, pasta and some veggies of course.  This pasta dish I came up with is super yummy!  I love the lemon and alfredo together.  It could easily be a hot or cold pasta dish – main or side.  And of course you can really use whatever kind of veggies you’d like.

Lemon Alfredo Veggie Pasta | Jersey Up!

I love sweet and savory dishes, don’t you?

Lemon Alfredo Veggie Pasta

1lb pasta of your choice
3-4 summer squash and/or zucchini, chopped into even chunks
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
16 oz jar alfredo sauce (store or homemade, whatever ya got)
1 lemon
1 tbsp oil (I used coconut, but you can use whatever you like)*
Salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Boil pasta, drain and set aside.
2. Zest and juice the lemon (wouldn’t want to be wasteful) and add to your alfredo sauce.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until flavors meld and sauce is hot.  (I also doctor up my alfredo sauce by sautéing some garlic and Italian seasoning before adding the sauce.)
3. Chop up your veggies into even chunks.  Heat up some oil in a nonstick pan and throw the veggies in.  I sauteed the squash and zucchini for awhile before adding the tomatoes since they take much longer.  I also sprinkled them with salt and pepper.
4. Mix it all together with some parmesan cheese.

*Have you ever used coconut oil before?  I hadn’t, but a friend lent me some.  I honestly loved it!  The oil doesn’t burn as quickly in case you have distractions in your kitchen (baby? dog? cats? anyone?) and it doesn’t taste any different than using other vegetable or olive oils.  I will say that it definitely smelled like coconut while cooking, but not while eating.  It is high in saturated fat though, so be sure to use in moderation.  (Just like all the other good stuff.)  Just in case you wanted to try something different – now you know!

Hope you enjoy the lemon alfredo sauce – I will definitely be making it again!

English Muffin Bread

English muffins are expensive, guys. I’m fed up with the wheat toast alternative. Not sure what it is about the muffins, but they’re so much better than bread/toast. It’s either the nooks and crannies that soak up the butter or it’s the cute old guy on the commercial. Either way, I’ve been really missing these since we’ve really cut back our grocery budget.

Ahem. Why do without when I could be making them myself? I really might be going too far with this homemade bread thing now. My husband is undoubtedly doing a secret happy dance as I admit, publicly, that he was right. But just about this one thing.

So, this amazing recipe from Jillee makes 4 loaves of deliciousness in about 2 hours. (No, you don’t need glasses.) She also has a ton of other sweet stuff on her site including a tutorial on how to clean your gas stove grates that I really need to try soon.


English Muffin Bread
Adapted from One Good Thing

11 cups flour
5.5 cups warm water
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
3 packets rapid rise yeast (you can use regular, but you’ll need to let it rise twice)
A little butter for brushing

1. Mix all ingredients either by hand or mixer, being careful not to over mix. Everything fits in my stand mixer juuuuuust barely. So be careful. Dough will be very sticky.
2. Divide dough into 4 well-greased loaf pans.
3. Preheat oven to 350˚ and allow dough to rise until it reaches the top of the loaf pans. For me, it took about an hour. I also leave my dough rising on top of the oven because the heat helps it rise more quickly. The temperature, humidity, altitude and day of the week change how long it takes for dough to rise, so don’t be worried if yours takes longer.
4. Slide those babies into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
5. Brush butter on top of the loaves and bake an additional 10 minutes until golden brown.
6. Allow to cool before cutting or freezing.

Now of course this is meant for breakfast, but that’s just getting too technical. I can already tell you it’s also exceptionally good sandwich bread. I probably should not admit that I had this for breakfast, lunch and dinner today. Don’t judge me.

Basil Infused Oil

Basil Infused Oil

Speaking of basil, have you ever made basil infused oil? My husband’s aunt suggested it after I posted about my basil going to seed. Turns out there are multiple uses for this delicious plant.

Just put some of your basil clippings in a jar of cooking oil and allow it to sit on the counter for about a week. Watch for mold though in warmer climates.

Can’t wait to dip some homemade bread into this oil when it’s ready!

Have you ever infused oil? With what? If this turns out well, I’ll want some new ideas!

Stuffed Pesto Chicken

I don’t know about you, but I always have trouble stuffing chicken.  Or any kind of meat, for that matter.  I’m not sure how people get them all pretty and symmetrical looking without the stuffing leaking out.  And then breading it too?!  I’d just as easy buy the frozen ones at the grocery store and call it a day.

But Pinterest, be damned!  You always make things look so easy.  And yummy.  I’ve seen this recipe for Stuffed Pesto Chicken floating around for awhile and decided to try it.  I actually already had all the ingredients – talk about a budget meal!

And, don’t pass out, but I actually followed the directions!  I pounded the chicken to make it flatter.  I even, wait for it, used toothpicks!  But alas, they were a hot mess.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, they tasted deeeeelicious, but the stuffing all leaked out everywhere.  When I tried to roll up the chicken the stuffing squeezed out and I had to stuff it all back in several times.  Even after all that, most of the stuffing leaked out into the chicken juice <shudder> while it was cooking.  Sloppy mess.

Have I mentioned I hate touching raw chicken?  Stuffing and restuffing and rolling and rerolling really tested my comfort zone.

I ended up covering the entire top of the dish with mozzarella cheese and making it a “casserole”.  Extra cheese can fix anything, right?!  They were super yummy, and I’d make them again.  But I need some stuffing chicken advice.  Anyone?  Bueller?


Stuffed Pesto Chicken
Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

4 chicken breasts, flattened
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp basil pesto
4 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese + extra for sprinkling on top

1. Pound chicken breasts individually in a plastic bag with a meat mallet until they are as thin as you can get them.
2. Mix together sour cream, pesto and mozzarella.  I used “heaping” tablespoons as well.  The more stuffing the better right?  (Although this might be my issue…!)
3. Spread mixture onto each chicken breast and roll up.  Put some toothpicks in to hold the shape.
4. Place chicken in a greased glass pan.  Mine all fit in an 8×8.  Bake for 25 minutes at 375˚.
Optional: after about 20 minutes, feel free to sprinkle some extra mozzarella on top if your chicken looks ugly.

This would be a great recipe to freeze either as individual chicken breasts, or as a whole dish.  I didn’t do that this time, but definitely would be easy to do!

Another tip that I got from Kalyn was making a batch of pesto with all your garden basil.  We’ve had just a TON of basil this year and I just can’t eat it all.  I was like, well you can’t freeze basil so I guess it’ll go to waste.  Ah, duh.  I  just pinched off all my flowers on the basil plant and hopefully, assuming I did it correctly, it’ll grow more leaves and I can try my hand at making homemade pesto.  Kalyn has a delicious lemon basil recipe on her site that I can’t wait to try!

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

I told you I’m all about pasta salads lately!  I wasn’t kidding.

Since I do monthly meal planning (post coming soon!), I have to use up the most perishable items first.  Sometimes I do a really good job of planning out my meals so we aren’t eating the same type of food all in the first week or two of my shopping trip.  Other months, like this one, I buy pretty perishable stuff for 3 different pasta salads.  Spinach, fresh basil, tomatoes, etc.  Good thing I love pasta salads – I don’t mind eating two in the same week.  Do you?

I got this recipe from my mother in law and I make it all the time.  It makes a pretty huge batch (which no one minds because we all love it) and is easy to serve at a BBQ or bring to a party as a yummy side dish.  Or add chicken and it becomes a main meal.  It’s also pretty affordable, which for a family on a budget, its nice to stretch your money and have a fresh, healthy meal go a little farther.

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad | Jersey Up!

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

1 lb penne pasta (or whatever kind you like)
4 cups diced roma tomatoes (~12)
2 tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 pkg fresh basil (about 1/3 cup chopped)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
12 ounces feta cheese (regular, reduced fat or tomato basil flavor all work great)

1. Mix everything except pasta and feta cheese.  Let it sit on the counter for about an hour.
2. Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Add pasta and feta cheese.

Special Note…
So, apparently, not everything can be frozen.  (What?!  I know!)  I froze a package of basil a long time ago.  Lo and behold, it was slimy and brown after it thawed.  I’ve seen on Pinterest somewhere that you can freeze herbs in olive oil.  Have any of you tried this?  Does it actually work?  What a bummer to waste such nice basil.  Also considering I’m doing a garden this year, I know I’ll have excess and wondering how to properly preserve basil.  I just think fresh adds so much more to a meal than dried.

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad

It has been really hot here lately.  Like 80+ degrees and humid.  I love summer.  Love being outside in the sunshine with bare feet in the grass.  But this year the mosquitos have been so awful.  End times swarming awful.  Pretty sure it’s due to the massive flooding we had this spring.  Supposedly their life cycle is almost up, for which I am grateful.  Even though the doctor says its safe, I feel bad practically drowning my daughter in DEET!  And we just haven’t been able to enjoy the outdoors as much as we’d like to.  With that being said, we have still pretty much switched over to grilling.


It’s a summer miracle.  For this month’s meal planning, I pretty much have stuck with marinated meats for the grill and easy side dishes.  Its cheap and efficient.  And it also convinces my husband to do a lot more of the cooking!  😉  I do still spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen.  It’s not so bad though, since my company is cute.

Kitchen Helper | Jersey Up!

Mama, I found your secret stash!

I’m in love with pasta salads lately.  They’re so versatile, easy to whip up on a moment’s notice for a party or dinner off the grill, and you can sneak in a lot of veggies without too much notice.  My husband is obsessed with balsamic vinegar and so this pasta salad screamed at me off the Pinterest page.  You could easily switch up the veggies to whatever is on hand or coming up fresh from the garden.  Or change to whatever pasta is on hand.  But I love me some tortellini!

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad | Jersey Up!

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad
Adapted from: Newman’s Own

1 pkg frozen tortellini (or pasta of your choice)
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup creamy balsamic salad dressing

1. Marinate chicken breasts overnight with balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard.  You can just marinade while you thaw your chicken breasts, or have them prepped in the freezer beforehand.  Do whatever works best for you!
2. Prepare pasta according to package directions, and set aside.
3. Grill chicken breasts.  While they’re cooking, chop up your tomatoes and spinach.  Or whatever other veggies you decide to add.
4. Cut up grilled chicken and toss with pasta, veggies and salad dressing.
5. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour and serve.

The balsamic gives the salad a really nice bite.  I personally love meals that are all-in-one.  I don’t need a side salad or a side veggie.  It’s just all in one bowl.  Less dishes!  Less mess!  Simply the best.  Leftovers are even better, too.

DIY Height Chart and Avocado & Black Bean Salsa

When my husband and I decorated our daughter’s nursery, we wanted to make a height chart that was portable.  We aren’t planning on living in this house forever, and it always so sad when families move and leave behind their children’s heights for someone else to paint over.  Thank you Pinterest for an easy solution!  We just bought a 6 ft piece of pine for pretty cheap at the lumber yard, sanded and varnished it.  And added the numbers and tick marks like a ruler.  (We totally cheated and got decals from the Little Diddy shop on Etsy.)  So, her nursery was completed over a year ago, and ahem, we just did the height chart this weekend.  To be fair, she can’t stand up yet… 😉

DIY Height Chart | Jersey Up!

I learned in trying to take a picture of a 6ft board, the rooms in my house are small.

I don’t know about you but crafting always makes me hungry.  Probably from all the stress it creates.  So, guys, I freakin’ love this salsa.  It’s so delicious and refreshing.  It makes a huge batch and we never, ever have leftovers.  Ever.  You’ll love it; I promise.  It’s simple to make, and you probably have the ingredients already.  Do not make it when you’re alone.  Just a word of warning.

Avocado and Black Bean Salsa | Jersey Up!

You will need scooping tortilla chips for this one, friends.

Avocado & Black Bean Salsa

2 16oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 medium avocados, diced
1 large garden tomato, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbsps minced cilantro
2 tbsps red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil

1. Mix together olive oil, vinegar, onions and garlic with all your spices.
2. Stir in beans and mix well.
3. Add tomatoes and cilantro.  Avocados last.
4. Devour.

I have (surprisingly) not tried to freeze this.  If you do, let me know how it comes out defrosted!  It’s best with fresh ingredients, and so its more expensive to make in the winter.  (Or if you’re trying to eat local, it’s completely out of the question in February.)