Author - Amy Kinnard

Homemade Pizza

Until very recently we've been a one-vehicle family. (Que shocked gasps from the audience..) Having only one vehicle meant we saved money - gas, insurance, maintenance, no spur-of-the-moment shopping sprees - you get the idea. However, the biggest downside was that it made getting all my errands and appointments done in a single day. Fridays became "the" day for EVERYTHING outside the house to be done. A typical Friday would start with loading up all the kids, dropping Tim off at work downtown Little Rock, backtracking to Conway to drop off I at his therapist's office for an hour, run to Kroger with the rest of the kids to pick up groceries, swing back around to pick I back up, pick up groceries at Sam's Club, run home to empty out the van and put littles down for naps, and then load everyone back up so we could go back downtown and pick up Tim at the end of the work day. Phew! As you can imagine, thinking about arriving home and fixing dinner with five hungry children and a ravenous husband hanging around the stove was enough to make me sick. Hence Friday pizza and a movie night was born! Pop in a pre-made store pizza for 20 minutes and chill with the fam as we enjoyed a fun movie together. Sam's Club pizzas were a lifesaver for me even though they bit into my weekly grocery budget. Now that we have a second vehicle and the ability to pace out my week better, I've been able to cut out the store-bought pizzas and return to making my own from scratch. Hallelujah!!! Routine is what keeps my life sane, and there is nothing better than not having to guess what to put on the menu for those days. Plus making pizza from scratch only costs around $4 vs $14/week. 🙌🏻 STEP 1 To make one pizza crust mix 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 package) with 1 T. sugar and 1 C. warm water. Let set for a few minutes until the yeast forms a nice froth on top. STEP 2 Add 2 C. all purpose flour, 1 T. oil and 1 1/2 tsp. salt to the yeast mixture. Mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes. STEP 3 Add 1/2 C. flour and mix until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. STEP 4 Cover bowl with a towel and set in a warm place for one hour to rise. FYI - This step is completely optional based on how much time you have. The pizza dough will still taste wonderful whether it has proofed or not but won't be quite as fluffy at the end. STEP 5 Punch dough down and place onto a coated cookie sheet. Stretch/spread dough out until it reaches each edge and corner. STEP 6 Top with your choice of sauce and other toppings. (I like to use my homemade spaghetti sauce even though it's not as thick as a pizza sauce. One quart jar is enough to make 4 pizzas.) STEP 7 Preheat oven to 400F. (If you preheat after adding all the toppings it allows the dough to rise a little more before baking.) Bake pizza for 20 minutes or until the top is nice and golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on counter before serving.

Banana Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

In my quest to find a GF banana bread recipe so I could use up all the over-ripe bananas that were quickly morphing into some kind of hideous monstrosity inside the fruit bowl, I found this.  The original recipe was for a Buttermilk Banana Blueberry Bread, but it worked great for making into muffins. (Yield: 18)

I wasn't overly disappointed that the recipe wasn't GF because of the magic words "buttermilk."  Back to the whole grind-your-own-whole-wheat-then-soak-in-vinegar concept to break down the gluten, making your own buttermilk using apple cider vinegar and whole milk fits the bill.  Simply mix all the ingredients together the night before then cover and let "soak" inside the refrigerator overnight. Bam!  You now have a close-to GF recipe without the fuss.  Might I add that having the batter prepared the night before made fixing breakfast the next morning a total breeze. :-)

Even with using entirely whole wheat flour instead of AP flour, the taste was scrumptious!  Tim loved it and asked that I put this recipe in the "keeper" file.

Banana Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

  • 1 3/4 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 C. buttermilk (mix 1/4 T. vinegar and the rest regular milk to make 1/4 C.)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 C. blueberries
INSTRUCTIONS:  Mix butter and sugar inside an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and bananas.  Blend until combined.  In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the mixer a little at a time, beating just until incorporated.  Stir blueberries in last.  Cover and place inside refrigerator to "soak" for 12-24 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins and fill 3/4 full with batter.  Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan onto a wire rack.  (Yield:  18 muffins) NOTE:  Adapted from Damn Delicious (sorry for the language).

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Rounds

So basically I've been doing some major experimenting inside my kitchen lately trying to figure out how this whole "gluten-free" baking works.  So many of the recipes I find online have a long list of ingredients I don't have in my pantry and really can't add to the grocery list without breaking my food budget.  Instead, I began to focus on the recipes I know the family loves and work toward converting them to GF with as little new ingredients as possible.  I am very thankful to have stumbled across a website that gives the exact conversion for all-purpose flour to coconut flour.

Sam's Club had this huge bag of coconut flour on sale for less than $8.50.  I had purchased this about a month ago and it seems to last forever since you don't use nearly as much coconut flour as you do AP flour.  Don't judge me too harshly for the giant container of peanut butter.  It's cheaper than almond butter and my kids love eating it with just about anything for a tasty snack.

Here is the link to the original recipe - Peanut Butter Oatmeal Rounds.  To make this recipe GF, simply take out the 1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour and substitute in 1/3 C. coconut flour and use some GF oatmeal.  That's it!!

The change in flours didn't change the overall taste or texture of the cookie, but it did change the density.  I've noticed that GF baked goods don't "fluff" like other baked foods.  My simple answer to that would be that GF items don't fluff because they don't have the "fluff-making" gluten.  This recipe works so well as a GF conversion because of the extra moisture from the peanut butter, butter and eggs.  Usually you have to add extra moisture when using coconut flour.  None needed here!  Please keep in mind when making this recipe that you won't get the originally stated 48 cookies.  It will be more like 24-36 depending on how big you make them.

They are STILL a family favorite treat!  :-)

Canning Homemade Tomato Soup

Canning Homemade Tomato Soup

Got a call yesterday afternoon from my sister asking if I needed any more tomatoes for my canning.  Turns out the Fishnet Ministries located in Jacksonville had received a shipment of 80,000 pounds of Roma tomatoes and had no way of refrigerating them.  A call went out to churches and the general public asking for help boxing up the tomatoes and getting them to those who could use them.  Wow!  FREE tomatoes (as many as you want)!  After ending the call with my sister I immediately started calling around members of my church who I thought would be interested in doing some canning.

E likes to go around quoting, "You don't work; you don't eat!" a lot of times, and today just proved the statement to be a solid truth.  In order to benefit from the free tomatoes, we had to go help box them from 5-7 a.m.  Up at 3:45 a.m. I headed out the door shortly after 4 to be at the Fishnet Ministries' warehouse.  My sister and two older nephews met me there and we all dove right in to help empty as many crates as possible.  It felt like I had gone back in time and  was up to work the 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift at McDonald's like I did during my high school years and summer/winter breaks of college. Oh the memories.... Haha!

Fishnet Ministries

The pallets were stacked three high and filled almost every available aisle inside the warehouse.  On the outside, they were stacked four high and lined the outside walls.

We're talking a LOT of tomatoes!!!  In the short amount of time we were able to help, our small group was able to unload 4 1/2 crates which were the size of small swimming pools.

2014-07-17 05.23.20

Here is just a portion of the boxes of tomatoes we loaded up in our vehicles to take home to either can ourselves or give to friends from church.  Can't beat free food!!!

The timing of this blessing couldn't have been better since my mom is here visiting for a few days and was able to walk me through my first batch of tomato soup.  Yippee! :-)  Not that I couldn't do it on my own with her written instructions, but it sure is nice for this auditory and visual learner to be able to do it along side her so I don't make any mistakes.

What you will need to can a single batch of homemade tomato soup:


  • 3 stock pots (or 2 stock pots and several large soup pots)
  • Canner
  • Quart jars (approx. 14-15)
  • Canning lids
  • Canning rings/bands
  • Funnel
  • Ladel
  • Long spoon for stirring
  • Knife
  • Juicer (used my KitchenAid with juicer attachment)
  • Long whisk


  • 26 pounds tomatoes (1/2 a bushel)
  • Whole  bunch of celery
  • 14 T. onion powder
  • 6 Bay Leaves
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper (more if you like your soup spicy)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 C. flour

Start by weighing your tomatoes to ensure you have the needed 1/2 bushel.  FYI, I looked it up online to find that a full bushel of tomatoes weighs 53 pounds.  Just thought you would want to know that little tidbit of info. :-)  You'll notice I'm not using a fancy kitchen scale - primarily because I don't own one.  Instead a handy bathroom scale will suffice.

After you've weighed your tomatoes, place inside a clean sink and fill with water to give them a good wash.  Using a sharp knife, cut each one in half to ensure there are no bad spots then throw them into the stock pots (dividing the tomatoes between the two pots).

Wash your celery then divide into two sections.  Cut off the bottoms and the ends if they are bad.  Cut the celery into pieces no longer than the length from the tip of your index finger to the knuckle.  You don't want them too big because they will get stuck inside your juicer.   Leaves and all get thrown into the pots.

Add three Bay Leaves to each pot (more if the leaves are small and broken).

Add 7 T. onion powder to each pot then cover and place on medium-high heat to cook.  As the tomatoes begin to cook down, you can begin mashing them to release the juices then turn up the heat.  Don't increase the heat until you have enough juice otherwise the tomatoes will burn!

Check your pots and stir the contents every 15-20 minutes or so to ensure that nothing starts to burn at the bottom.  This part of the recipe takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!! :-)  You'll know it's been cooked through when the celery is tender.  To help it cook faster, push all the pieces of celery under the liquid.

After the tomatoes have cooked down, scoop out a cup at a time and press down into your juicer.  It helps to use the mixer bowl to catch the soup in because the handle makes it easier to pour into the larger pot.  Don't forget you are working with hot, hot stuff!

Pour the juice into the third stockpot or smaller pots/containers until all the tomatoes have gone through the juicer.  If you don't have a third stockpot, wash out one that you finish emptying and pour the soup into it.  All the juice will fill one stockpot when you are done.

As soon as you finish juicing all the mixture, get your water canner on the stove to start heating.  Remember to have something on the bottom of the canner to prevent the jars from coming into direct contact with the metal.  I used the inside piece from my pressure canner, but you can use some butter knives, canning lids or canning rings.  Just anything that will elevate your jars.

Whisk in

  • 1/4 C. salt
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper

and bring to a boil

The original recipe called for 2 sticks melted margarine mixed with 1 C. flour but this is what it turned into....BLAH!  Scratch that one!

Instead I used 2 sticks melted BUTTER and 1 C. flour and got this instead.  Success!  So if you think you can cheat and use the cheap ole' margarine, DON'T. You will certainly regret ruining your batch of soup.

Slowly add the flour/butter mixture to the soup whisking the entire time.  (Now I know why my mom was so happy we bought her an immersion blender for Christmas this past year. Wow!  Talk about an arm workout when using a whisk!)

Prepare 7 quart jars (need to be really hot - like straight from the steam setting on your dishwasher), lids (boiled inside a small saucepan), and canning rings/bands.  Fill each jar leaving a 1/2-inch head space, clean tops with a clean, damp cloth ensuring there is no food or cracks along the surface, then place a hot lid on top and tighten down with a band.  For more step-by-step instructions on the canning process, head over here.

Process in a hot water canner for 20 minutes then remove and let rest for 24 hours before removing bands and storing.  If the lid pops up after you press down on it, it means the jar didn't seal properly so place inside your refrigerator to eat in the next couple of days.

Didn't have quite enough to fill a whole quart jar, so that one will be Tim's lunch for tomorrow. Perfect for a stormy day! :-)

Final Price = $0.31/quart.... Wahoo!!!

Soaked Chocolate Chip Whole-Wheat Pancakes

The boys know that when I am going to bake whole-wheat bread the next day, it means they are most likely going to get some chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.  It's just easier to do it this way because I only have to pull out my flour mill once in order to have enough fresh ground flour for both the loaves of bread and a batch of pancakes.

What better way is there to have a quick breakfast you don't have to worry about mixing the next morning because it is already done?  So the night before, in a large bowl, mix your 2 C. wheat flour with 2 C. buttermilk (or 2 T. vinegar and the rest milk to make the 2 C.), and 2 T. honey.  Once thoroughly combined, put a lid on or cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 12-24 hours.

The next morning (or whenever you are ready to make the pancakes within the 24-hour period) mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Prepare your griddle by rubbing with a little olive oil or pan spray then heat to approx. 300 degrees.

I like to use a 1/4 measuring cup to get more uniformed pancakes.  Totally OCD of me, I know! :-)

After pouring the batter on the griddle, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and let cook until golden brown before flipping to cook the other sides.

After removing from the griddle, place on a large platter and cover with a light towel to keep them hot while you cook the remaining batter.

Serve with either coconut oil or butter melted over them and maple syrup.

Since these pancakes aren't as thick as a regular buttermilk pancake, they are easier to consume.  For instance, my 6-year-old son can inhale 6 of them no trouble at all!  Good thing this recipe stretches and makes approximately 28 pancakes (more or less depending on how thick or thin you make your batter).  FYI - it will also work to clean out your little ones' digestive systems!  Be prepared for some major diaper blowouts after they eat this breakfast!!  Just goes to prove how effective the soaking method is in breaking down the gluten inside the wheat so the body can digest it better when consumed.  LOTS of great fiber!!!  Sorry if that's TMI. :-/

A big thanks goes to my Aunt Chris for pointing me in the direction of "soaking" wheat along with this tasty recipe!

Soaked Chocolate Chip Whole-Wheat Pancakes

INGREDIENTS: 2 C. flour 2 C. buttermilk 2 T. honey 2 eggs ½ tsp. salt 1 tsp. baking soda Mini chocolate chips DIRECTIONS: Mix flour, buttermilk and honey. Cover and let set in a warm place for 12-24 hours. When ready, add the remaining ingredients and thin to desired consistency with water (or milk). Cook on hot, oiled griddle.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on pancakes before flipping.

Lemon-filled Olive Oil Lanterns

After a recent conversation with Tim regarding our winter preparations, I started doing some research on inexpensive types of homemade candles or lamps.  Last year we had a horrible snow and ice storm dumping over a foot of snow on the roads and power lines.  Our property is at the end of the line, so any power outages means that we will be the last ones to have our power restored.  This all boils down to us needing to be more prepared for a long power outage. Using what I already had inside the house along with some lemons given to me at church this past Sunday, I was able to spend just a few dollars on some very economical (and pretty) oil lanterns.

The great thing about these little lamps is that they can burn smoke-free for many, many hours.  If the oil starts to get low, just refill.  Also, you can continue to reuse the container and just add a new wick.


Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1Wire the Wick

Loosely twist your wire around the wick leaving a small portion at the top in order to light on fire.

Step 2Center the Wick in Jar

Center your wick inside your container then bend the wire over the side to anchor it into place.

Step 3Arrange Lemon Slices in Jar

Next, slice your lemons to your desired thickness and place them inside your container arranging them in a way to cover the sides without taking up the bulk of room inside the container.  You will need to leave room to fill with as much oil as possible.

Step 4Fill Jar with Oil

After you’ve arranged your lemon slices the way you want, carefully fill the container with your oil.  Let your wick soak up the oil for at least 15 minutes before you attempt to light it.  Not only are the lemons pretty but they also help scent the oil so it will give off a soft lemon fragrance the longer they soak in the oil.  L

Turkey & Cheese Stromboli

While trying to figure out something different to prepare for the boys' lunch since we are quickly exhausting the peanut butter and jelly sandwich venue, I came up with a quick twist on the plain turkey, cheese sandwich.

Using a batch of homemade pizza dough and the filling from the Easy Stromboli recipe, I used eight slices of Oscar Meyer turkey and a liberal helping of shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese to create a truly yummy lunch for the family.  It only took minutes to put together and was served warm with a tangy mustard/mayo sauce for dipping.  I even used this idea again for a picnic!  As soon as the Stromboli is finished baking, pull out of the oven and slice, place in a sealed container and head out to the park for some family fun. :-)  Very easy for little hands to pick up and eat without a mess.

Click on the link above for both my homemade pizza dough and Stromboli recipes.

For the mustard/mayo dip mix together:

  • 3 T. mayo
  • 3 T. sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 3 T. mustard
  • Dash of parsley

This Stromboli would also taste amazing with a Velveeta cheese dip for dipping.  Yumm-O!!  Have fun with the idea and use your imagination to create countless varieties of Stromboli with different kinds of fillings.

Blueberry Banana Bread

I guess the two little ones are over their banana kick since I actually had three of them leftover inside the fruit bowl turning more brown by the day.  On top of the fact that I just can't make myself waste perfectly usable food and we needed something for breakfast the next morning, I now had the motivation necessary to start searching for a new banana recipe.

We've done chocolate banana bread, banana muffins and regular banana bread in the past.  This time I wanted to find something with a different flare all its own.  Lucky me I found a recipe on for "Kelly's Blueberry Banana Bread."  This recipe had all great reviews with delicious ingredients.  The best part was in the mixing.  I believe it took me a whole five minutes to complete the batter in a single bowl.  You only stir for about 30 seconds!  Yeah!  Totally my kind of recipe. :-)

Literally all the ingredients, minus the frozen berries, are thrown into a large bowl and mixed for 30 seconds.

Now usually when adding blueberries or any type of heavy fruit it will sink to the bottom of the bread.  Most recipes I've read through have said to thaw the fruit first; however, this recipe made a point in ensuring that the berries used were FROZEN.  Low and behold the frozen berries did NOT sink or leave these empty blue holes inside the bread after baking.  Plus it was so easy just pulling them out of the freezer and folding right into the mixed batter.  Less mess!

Only used spray and flour on the bottoms of each pan.  My bread didn't turn out as thick as I'm sure the original creator intended simply because I only had 9x5 bread pans to use instead of the 8x4x1/2 pans called for in the recipe.

Just love seeing all the yummy bits of goodness in the batter.  You can see the dash of cinnamon, coconut, blueberries and chunks of banana.  Yummy!!!

This had to be one of the most flavorful breads I've ever tasted/made before!  Plus the blueberries didn't sink! :-) Haha!  They were evenly dispersed throughout each bite adding a tangy sweetness to the flavor of the banana and coconut.  Again... YUMMY!!!

Kelly’s Blueberry Banana Bread – by

  • 2 ½ C. flour                                          3 T. vegetable oil
  • ½  C. sugar                                          1/3 C. milk
  • ½ C. brown sugar                                 1 egg
  • 1 T. + ½ tsp. baking powder                  2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt                                            3 medium mashed bananas
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon                                1 C. chopped pecans
  • ¼ C. coconut                                       2 C. frozen blueberries
DIRECTIONS:  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except blueberries for about 30 seconds.  Fold in frozen berries.  Pour into 2 greased 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 ½ loaf pans that have been greased on the bottoms only.  Bake in 350 oven for 55-60 minutes, ‘til toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool slightly, loosen sides with knife from sides of pan, turn out onto rack to cool.  When cool, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, keep refrigerated.

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