Jessica's Jottings:

On faith, food, family and frugality

New Recipe: Vegetable Casserole

Vegetable Casserole

  • 1 1/2 T. oregano
  • 1 lb. 2% Cottage Cheese
  • 1 lb of California Blend frozen veggies
  • 2 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked chicken
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • coconut oil for greasing casserole dish(es)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F and grease your 9″x 13″ casserole dish (or if, like me, your casserole dish is dirty, you can use a couple smaller dishes.)
  2. Cook the California Blend according to package directions (or wing it. Put water in a pan, add a little salt, bring it to a boil and add your veggies. Measure nothing, you ne’er do well, you. Don’t you feel adventurous now? ūüėČ ).
  3. While the veggies are cooking, mix the oregano and the cottage cheese (I love Daisy! It may not be organic, but it has no crazy additives.) together in a medium to large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  4. If you, like me, freeze your meat and beans in prepackaged portions, you can add the frozen portions to the veggie cooking water. This will help thaw them quickly and heat everything to an even temperature. After everything is thawed, drain the water out and add the veggie/bean/chicken mix to the cottage cheese/oregano mixture. Stir well and then pour into your prepared dish(es).
  5. Top with shredded cheddar and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy. ūüėÄ



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Asparagus, Bacon, Tomato Bowl

Asparagus, Bacon, Tomato Bowl

  • 1 # asparagus, tender parts, chopped to 3/4″ pieces
  • 12 oz. bacon, raw, cut into 1″ or shorter pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 4 small to medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T. Greek dressing
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add bacon and stir to separate pieces.*
  2. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add onion slices and stir.
  3. Cook another 3-5 minutes, add asparagus, stir again, and then cover the pan to help steam the aparagus.
  4. After about 3 minutes, remove the lid, stir in the garlic, and replace the lid.
  5. When the asparagus is cooked, but before it’s mushy, remove heat, and add the can of tomatoes and Greek dressing. Stir well and serve with a side of bread.

*I used kitchen scissors to cut through the whole bag of bacon. I thought that would be easier than trying to slice each piece individually. It worked well. ūüôā

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Bison Zucchini Poppers – Yum!

We’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes recently as we’ve been trying to clean out our pantry and edge our way into a grain-free season.

Tonight, we made two pans of Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables* and modified One Lovely Life‘s Chicken Zucchini Poppers** to work with what we had on hand.

The recipe calls for one pound of ground chicken and green onions. We used one pound of ground bison and some¬†chopped white onion. I say “we” like I did anything other than shred zucchini (go, go food processor!), chop onion, and thaw out the meat. Nathan was the one that did the mixing, molding, and frying*** – you know, all the messy, time consuming stuff. ūüôā

To say that the finished product was well-received would be an understatement. Our older two girls (6 and 8) were talking about how they needed to learn how to make this so that they could make it for their kids. hahahaha! That’s never happened before.

The recipe says to dip the poppers in your favorite dip. We didn’t think there was any need. They were so moist and full of flavor that a dip would only distract from what was already there.

We will absolutely be making this again.


Now for footnotes! Because, well, footnotes!****

*I LOVE this recipe. It’s so very versatile and allows you to use up all of the loose veggies floating around in the bottom of the fridge. I love how my kids will pick out several favorite vegetables and be willing to try a few extras. Tonight, they each tried a piece of roasted jicama – and liked it. Whee!

**I don’t like to copy recipes from other blogs onto my blog. I don’t feel like it respects the author’s time and energy and it *certainly* doesn’t help their business. Thus, I will link to it, hope you click on it (I don’t earn money from that, btw), and enjoy the recipe as well.

***He did fry the poppers in bacon grease. We try to not cook with olive oil as the heat does wonky things to the oil and makes it less than stellar for ingestion. If you’re not a fan of bacon grease (what!!!), you can always substitute expeller-pressed coconut oil or ghee. OR, if you decide that you’d like to completely recreate this meal at your house and you don’t want to fry anything, you could bake the poppers alongside the veggies. Both recipes have a 400*F baking temp. You’re welcome. ūüėÄ

****I’ve been out of college for far too long. I need to take an English class again and get all of these footnotes out of my system. ūüėČ

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Easy Beef Stew – a one pot meal

One Pot Beef Stew

It’s easy and delicious!









Aren’t one pot meals wonderful?

When cutting out processed foods, an unexpected side effect is a massive increase in the amount of dishes produced. Massive. Ugh.

Yes, one pot meals are a lovely break from the norm. This stew has the added bonus of being mostly hands off – ahhhh, bliss.

Even better – my entire family likes this one. One pot, hands off, and fuss free – does it get any better? ūüėÄ

Easy Beef Stew

  • 1-2 T. of coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 -ish lbs of beef stew meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen, organic corn
  • 1-2 ¬†16 oz. bags of frozen green veggies (okra and Fordhook limas are a great combo, but green beans are also tasty)
  • 1 beer
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of sea salt


  1. Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a 5 or 6 Qt stockpot.
  2. Toss in the onion and stir it a few times to coat it in the oil. Let it cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the stew meat and stir occasionally until browned.
  4. Add the veggies and the beer, then cover and let cook for 10-ish minutes or until bubbling.
  5. Remove the lid and let it cook until the meat and veggies are fully cooked. This lets the alcohol in the beer boil off, but allows for the flavor to remain.
  6. Stir in the salt*, remove from heat, and serve.
  7. Enjoy! ūüôā

*If you’re using salted tomatoes, you may want to start with 3/4 tsp. and then add more to taste.


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Menu Plan for the rest of the year – because I can. :D

Menu Plan for the rest of the year

How often do you get to say that? ūüôā

Not often enough, I think.

Thursday,¬†¬†December¬†18 – Nathan’s work Christmas party

Breakfast:  Pumpkin Spice Dutch Baby, Oatmeal, and Nathan will make a fresh batch of biscuits 
Lunch: Leftover chicken soup with the rest of the biscuits
Tilapia, Pumpkin Pie Casserole, and slaw

Tasks: Pack N’s lunch. Make a new batch of tea for the kombucha. Start soaking oats for the baked oatmeal. Make a double batch of sweet onion poppyseed dressing. Soak black beans overnight.

Friday,  December 19

Breakfast: Baked oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Sandwiches, Black Bean and Avocado Salad, and lettuce salad

Tasks: Make the waffle mix found in “Against All Grain.”¬†Pull stew meat out of the freezer before bed. Crock pot cook the black beans.

Saturday,  December 20 Рlast music lesson for the year

Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Beef Stew with corn, okra, tomatoes, beans, and beer – totally making this up as I go, based on the faint recollection of a really good (similar) stew from Cracker Barrel.

Tasks: Pack lunches for girls to eat while driving to violin lessons.

Sunday,  December 21 РNo cooking on Sundays! Serving in WL this evening. 

Breakfast: Leftover waffles
Lunch: Leftovers and sandwiches
Dinner: Leftovers

Tasks: Pack N’s lunch.

Monday, December 22

Breakfast: Cherry muffins and THM cinnamon muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Baked chicken legs, lettuce salad, green beans 

Tasks:  Start a batch of sourdough bread early a.m. Bake bread in the afternoon. Start soaking sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil to get ready for pasta salad.

Tuesday, December 23

Breakfast: Lemon Berry Coffeecake
Lunch: Leftovers
Salmon patties with lemon sour cream and broccoli

Tasks:  Start a double batch of sourdough pancakes.

Wednesday,  December 24 РN working from home, Family (part 1) arriving

Breakfast: Sourdough pancakes Рif any batter left over, work on the savory pancake recipe again.
Lunch: Leftovers
Whiting with lemon cream sauce, baked potato/sweet potato bar 

Tasks: Make pasta salad for tomorrow. Use the crock pot to bake potatoes and sweet potatoes during the day.

Thursday,  December 25 РChristmas, Family (part 2) arriving, Family (part 1) leaving

Breakfast: Fried eggs, biscuits, and Low Carb Cheese Danish
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Steak, Savory sweet potatoes with bacon and swiss, pasta salad (Add ins = swiss cheese, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and mushrooms)

Tasks: Thaw out steaks and bacon.

Friday,  December 26  РN off РFamily (part 2) leaving, along with 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Chickpeas with dill*, marathi rice* and Grain-free flat bread to wrap them both.

Tasks: Thaw out chick peas.

Saturday,  December 27 Рdown 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Autoimmune Paleo Apple Crisp
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Meatballs and leftover sides.

Tasks: Pull meatballs from freezer. Make BBQ sauce for the meatballs.

Sunday, December 28 РNo cooking on Sundays! down 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Leftovers
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Leftovers


Monday,¬†December¬†29¬† – N off – Rafe’s birthday. Usually, we let the birthday kid plan the menu for the day, but he may not be here.

Breakfast: French toast with berries
Lunch: Leftovers
“Cheesy” Chicken Casserole¬†(doubled) and salad


Tuesday, December 30 РN off, down 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice Dutch Baby¬†(and oatmeal, if there are kids around who don’t like it)
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Simple Chicken and Spinach Enchilada Casserole

Tasks:  Check on kombucha.

Wednesday, December 31 РN working from home, down 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Spinach & Sausage Egg Muffins Рdouble batch
Lunch: Leftovers



*From the amazing Indian cookbook, “5 Spices, 50 Dishes.” If you love Indian food, but don’t have all day to spend in the kitchen, you will love this book.

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Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge – A sugar-free recipe modification

When I was invited to a Women’s Bible Study, I knew I wanted to bring a treat if it was okay with the hostess.

It was. So, I made this Slab Apple Pie. I was already making one to take to a lady who’d just had a baby, so it wasn’t a problem to make another one. I did, however, want to bring something that I, attempting a sugar-free lifestyle, would be able to eat.*

I’d been eyeballing this Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge, even though it has maple syrup in it. Also, I don’t have any chocolate chips or chocolate bars, so I’d have to add my own DIY chocolate. So, while it doesn’t look like the originally pictured fudge, it’s still very tasty – tasty enough that I knew I’d want to make it again.

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Fudge

1 c. crunchy natural peanut butter
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. maple flavoring (I use the Frontier Naturals brand.) (This is 1/4 tsp. plus another half of a 1/4 tsp.)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 T. powdered Truvia (ground up in coffee grinder) (DON’T skip this step or it will taste grainy!)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Pour into a freezer safe container. (The original directions state to line the bowl with foil – no doubt that would make extraction much easier. I did not do that and extraction was, ahem, challenging.) Put the bowl into the freezer until the fudge is solid.

Once frozen, extract and enjoy! ūüėÄ


*For what it’s worth, I didn’t throw this together in time to let it set in the freezer at all. Thus, on the curvy backroads I took to get there, a lot sloshed over the side. I didn’t bother taking it out until I got back home. Oy, what a mess. I gotta say though, there are worse things for the van to smell like than chocolate. ūüôā

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Grain Free Baked Whiting with Lemon Cream Sauce – a recipe modification

Whiting? Whiting? What on earth is whiting?

It’s a fish…one of the few fish I could find at Wal-Mart that was relatively inexpensive and didn’t have sodium tripolyphosphate (spelling?) added. While not quite as innocuous in its fishiness as tilapia, when this was baked up and had the cream sauce applied, it was delicious and not fishy tasting at all.

I modified this recipe from the back of the package to be grain-free.


Grain Free Baked Whiting with Lemon Cream Sauce 

4 whiting filets, thawed

1/8 c. (2 T.) of finely ground almond meal (I used a coffee grinder to grind it finer)
1/2 tsp. of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste

1 c. heavy cream
2 T. butter
zest of one lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. Place whiting filets in a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  3. Mix breading ingredients together and stir well.
  4. Sprinkle the breading mixture on both sides of each of the whiting filets.
  5. Bake it for 15- 20 minutes until flaky.
  6. While the whiting is baking, mix the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan over medium to medium low heat.
  7. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for three minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat.
  8. Serve whiting drizzled with liberal quantities of sauce. Enjoy!

Also, might I suggest serving this with Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables?¬†They’re delicious together!!! ūüėÄ

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Bison Black Bean Burgers

I scribbled down a quick recipe that sounded like it would taste good, before I ran out the door to serve at our evening church service. It was also made of stuff that we had in the deep freezer and that Nathan could quickly throw together to make dinner for the kids after getting off of his work call.

He put them together, serving them with green beans. The kids devoured almost all of it. Thankfully, there were about five left over when I got home…YUM!

Bison Black Bean Burgers

1 lb ground bison
1 1/2 c. cooked black beans (or 1 can)
1/2 – 2/3 c. chopped onionSalt and pepper

Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form into patties and cook.

Nathan fried these in the cast iron skillet with a bit of bacon grease. They were absolutely AMAZING!


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The Breakfast Post

Hello, Friends!

This is the post where I brainstorm breakfast ideas – you know, so that I have them all (ideas and links, if applicable) in one place while I’m doing meal planning. Which I’m a tad behind on. Again. :p

If you have other ideas/recipes/etc., *please* share!

Here goes:

That’s what I’ve got so far. Please chime in with some of your favorite breakfast recipes.

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How do you feed 15 middle school boys?

This coming weekend, we are hosting 15 Middle School boys for their Walking Wisely Weekend through Browns Bridge Community Church. Wow! I am going to be in extreme food prep mode all week.

These are kids that are used to eating and drinking LOTS of processed food and drinks…which I try REALLY hard not to serve any more. I’ve already made the concession to buy soda ( ūüė¶ ), but I want them to have lots of other options too. So I’m going to be making sweet tea concentrate and lemonade, and have lots of water bottles available. That way, they at least have healthier options around – which could make all the difference. ūüôā

For the food…well, I could really, really use an infusion of ideas. We will be serving a post-session large snack on Friday night, Saturday morning breakfast, Saturday lunch, snacks all throughout, and Sunday morning breakfast. Here are the recipes I’ve compiled thus far, most of which have some component that I can get ready days in advance and throw into the freezer.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

Slab Apple Pie

Homemade Sandwich Rolls (I figured I’d also buy some different kinds of deli meats and cheeses).

Freezer Biscuits

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Veggie tray with Homemade Ranch Dressing (again, they need non-sweet, non-junk options, people!) ūüėČ

BUT, I still need some lunch ideas. Here’s where you come in. If you could PLEASE share some tasty, healthy options that will appeal to 6th grade boys, I would be most grateful! Also, if you have any other easy, tasty snack ideas, please share those, too.¬† Comment below with your ideas, your web sites, or your Pinterest pins.