Spaghetti Bake

DSC08570It amazes me how powerfully emotional food can be!  A couple of years ago I came across this recipe and it just about brought tears to my eyes as I smelled our dinner cooking.  The memories of my grandma and the best years of my childhood came flooding back to my mind as I smelled and tasted this simple dish.  I hope you and your family will enjoy it as much as I did as a kid.

It’s called Spaghetti Bake but once again, I’ve modified the recipe to fit my preferences so it’s really not a “bake” the way I make it.  But it tastes just as good so give it a try and let me know what you think!

DSC08555Begin by browning 1 lb. of hamburger.  After the hamburger is browned drain any grease.  Chop 1 whole onion and add it and 1 clove of chopped garlic to the burger.  Once the onion is transparent in color, add 1 can of chopped tomatoes.  Allow this to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, while that is simmering, cook about 1/4 lb. of dry spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

DSC08560After the spaghetti is done, add it to the burger.  Then add 4-8 oz. of american cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it).  Mix all together until cheese is well melted throughout entire mixture.

DSC08565This is really quite a simple meal but tasty none the less!  Serve with a salad and garlic bread and enjoy!


Spaghetti Bake
I love the power of the taste of home cooked food! Nothing says comfort more!

Serves: 4-5

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

  • 3 T. oil
  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ lb of spaghetti
  • 4-8 oz. american cheese

  1. Brown hamburger in 3 T. of oil. Drain any grease. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent in color. Add can of tomatoes. Simmer about 15 minutes. Boil spaghetti according to package directions. Add cooked spaghetti to burger mixture. Add american cheese and mix until well melted and integrated. Enjoy!



Starfish Project

Matthew 25:40
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”



This last year has been a bit of a sabbatical for me.  Our family has experienced a lot of unexpected changes which has caused me to really look at my life and my belief system.  Maybe some would call it nothing more than a midlife crisis but even if that is what it is I feel it has helped me prioritize my life and make me grateful for every breath!  Having said that, I want my life to be more than about me.

Some friends of our family (see lovingsimpleliving.com) recently sold most of everything they owned and packed up and headed out on an adventure to China.  Gutsy!  Bold!  Courageous!  While over there teaching English they have come across an organization which is making a huge impact in the lives of girls who have been exploited.  I would like to help them get the word out and support this great service they are providing!





It’s called the Starfish Project.  I’ll let this video tell their story.

They are trying to get the word out about their organization.  I’m asking that you help!  Please! :)


starfish600wideFor just a few short days (July 29 8:00 am EST through August 1 11:59 pm EST) they are offering one of their necklaces at 70% off simply so they can get the word out and so more girls can be helped.  I’m not one that promotes much without being certain I believe in the cause.  I fully trust my friends and know they are serving because they believe in it too!

This is how you can help!!  Simply click here and purchase this necklace for only $8.99 by entering the promotion code STARFISH2013.!!  Buy it for yourself or give it away!  Make it an early Christmas present!  And then pass the word on to all your friends and family.  Tweet it, post it on Facebook or any other media site!  Let the whole world know!  Help this great organization give a new life to another young girl!


Caramel Pecan Covered Zucchini Muffins



I found a recipe for zucchini bread in my grandma’s cookbook.  I’ve made a few changes to it to make it my own.  Here’s what I came up with.

Caramel Pecan Covered Zucchini Muffins.

Oh come on…that just sounds good, doesn’t it?


Warning:  In case you some how stubbled upon this recipe looking for a healthy muffin…this is not the recipe for you my friend.

I began by chopping up the very large zucchini that my in-laws kindly passed on to us.  For some reason my father-in-law likes to see just how big he can grow them, rendering them useless for cooking plain but they are fabulous for zucchini bread!


Next, I used my handy dandy food processor (I love that thing!) to shred all that fine zucchini.  (Hint: If you have more than what the recipe calls for– freeze it.  It freezes fabulously and can be pulled out for your next batch of muffins this winter!)


So now let the mixing begin.  Begin by mixing the zucchini, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a medium sized bowl.


In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  I used my Kitchen Aid (which again…I love!) making it easier for combining the wet and dry ingredients for when the time came.


Now’s the time.  Mix the wet and dry together.  Just mix until everything looks to be even throughout.


Now fill your muffin tins approximately 3/4 full.  I prefer to use the papers first. If you don’t, just be sure to grease the pan before dividing up the batter.


Now slip those delectable goodies in the oven (oh…which should be set at 325) and bake approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.


In the meantime, while the smells of those lovely muffins start the saliva flowing from your lips, we’re going to make some caramel pecans.  (Mmm…kind of like pecan rolls!)  In a saucepan add butter, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.  Mix this until the butter is well melted and leave on medium heat for about 2 minutes after everything is evenly mixed together.  Don’t leave it too long, however, as this will cause the caramel to become too sticky.


After the muffins are baked immediately drizzle the pecan mixture over top.  Cool for a bit, then enjoy!

DSC08503Mmmm….soooo good!!


Caramel Pecan Covered Zucchini Muffins
These turned out amazing! But you could add caramel pecans to just about anything and I think I’d love it!

Cuisine: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Recipe type: Muffins
Serves: 28 muffines

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

  • For Muffins:
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • For Caramel Pecans:
  • 1 stick of real butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

  1. Mix together in a medium sized bowl, the eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients: flour, soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together. Divide batter into prepared pan (either greased or with baking papers) filling about ¾ full. Bake on 325 for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan mix together butter, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and salt. Allow butter to fully melt, stirring constantly. After melted, continue to heat for about 2 minutes, taking care not to over heat.



The Perfect Pancakes!!!


The Perfect Pancakes!!!
You’ll never consider buying a box mix again! So easy to make and so good!

Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ T. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 T. cooking oil

  1. Before beginning, make sure the frying pan or griddle is preheated on medium heat with about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. In a large bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix. Add the milk, egg, and oil to the dry ingredients. With a fork or whisk, stir all ingredients until well mixed. Don’t over-mix, however. Some small lumps are normal. Ladle about ¼ cup of batter into the pan. The pancake will be ready to turn when 5-10 bubbles are seen on the pancake. Flip and allow to cook for about a minute. Enjoy the perfect pancake! :)
  2. Note: Real buttermilk makes a big difference!



Everything will be ok!!

My aunt was my best friend.  After my parents divorced, my mom, three sisters and I moved in with my Grandparents.  My aunt, who had never married, still lived there at the farm.  I don’t ever remember a time that I ever thought she was any less than awesome!

Nancy was an incredibly giving person and so much fun to be around.  She gave so much to me as a child that I owe my “success” in life to her.

We had a special bond that kept me by her side more often than not.  She loved photography and I also grew to have an interest in capturing memories in print.  I would often borrow her 35mm camera loaded with a new roll of film and would hike the acres of farm searching for that perfect shot.

In college, living hours away from home, when loneliness would set in, I knew I could always pick up the phone and talk to my Aunt Nancy.  And we talked for hours and hours and yet she never got tired of taking my calls.

Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.  We were all devastated.  Treatments began and I hated seeing her pain that she had to deal with in hopes of recovering.  And I was scared.  Scared by the thought of the worst outcome.

Motivated by fear, I remember dropping to my knees one day, praying, begging God to save my aunt.  I prayed and prayed and prayed until a peace came over me.  I felt as though God was telling me, “Everything is going to be OK.”

For New Years 2004, my husband and I drove to her house, picked her up, and drove her back to our apartment to spend the weekend with us.  By this time the cancer had already spread and was taking over her body.  She was no longer able to drive herself and walking was becoming labored.

While at our apartment she was reading her Bible and I related to her the story of me praying for her and God telling me everything would be ok.  And with the faith of a saint she said to me, “Well I know everything will be ok.  I just don’t know whether or not I’m going to live.”

My heart sank!  I was crushed!  Because how could life be ok without her here?

Nancy died June 2004.  We buried her on my 29th birthday.

Eight years have passed now and I have contemplated and learned much from the faithfulness of her words.  I am encouraged knowing she felt the hope of a promise that was made a couple thousand years ago.  “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:4 NKJV


So many people know someone or is someone affected by the epidemic proportions in which breast cancer seems to have spread.  I am all for early detection and early prevention.  And I encourage those that are fighting the battle to hang in there and fight with your might.  And know that no matter the outcome, “Everything will be ok!”

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 NKJV