beverages snacks

Fresh Lemonade by-the-glass or Pitcher

Make just a glass or enough for a crowd. Kids can do this!
Fresh & easy lemonade for one.  Tastes so good you’ll never forget it.

Recipe for one glass:

1 large lemon
1 1/2 Tbs sugar or 1 scant Tbs honey
1 cup water

Roll the lemon under your palm on a clean work surface to release the juices, or zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice out.  You should have about 1/4 cup.

Put the lemon juice in your glass, stir in sugar or honey and a cup of water.  Add a few ice cubes and a straw and begin sipping!

Treat the whole family!

Recipe for a Pitcher: (2 quarts)
6 large lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups hot tap water
cold water + ice

Dissolve sugar in hot water; stir.  Squeeze lemons (you should end up with about 1 1/2 cups lemon juice) and put juice in a 2 quart pitcher.  Add sugar syrup and cold water + ice to fill the pitcher.  Serve in tall glasses with straws. 


Heat up a mug of honey-sweetened lemonade to chase away a sore throat.


Save the peels to make Citrus Vinegar; useful in salad dressings, marinades, and Organic All Purpose Cleaner.


Brown Bag Popcorn

Make your own microwave popcorn packages

A convenient, kid-friendly snack without all the trans-fats and artificial ingredients.  My daughters have made these up to give as small gifts for their friends and teachers.

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 brown paper lunch bag
2 Tbs melted butter

Here goes!  Put the popcorn in the paper bag, fold the top over twice (do not staple) and lay it on its side in the microwave.  Microwave on high until it stops popping.  Begin with 2 minutes, and add 30 second intervals if needed.  Ta-dah!!! Crunchy fat-free popcorn!  Okay, go ahead and melt a tablespoon or two of butter… add some salt… now that’s good popcorn.

Never buy commercially packaged microwave popcorn again!

Tip:  Visit to purchase organic popcorn in bulk for a very reasonable price per pound.  (They even offer an exiting heirloom rainbow blend of many colors of popcorn!)  Store popcorn kernels in glass jars in the freezer to maintain freshness and popping power.


Gonzo Bean Snacks

A perfectly painless way to “eat your beans” 

Crispy Garbanzo Bean Snacks (aka Gonzo Beans) satisfy that craving for something crunchy, salty, and savory.  A healthy snack that fills you up!  My favorite seasoning combo is fresh rosemary plus the zest of a lemon.  Think of potato chip flavors:  chili powder, BBQ seasoning, Thai spices, garlic and onion powder, curry and coriander.  

Use a can of garbanzo beans or a package of pre-cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas) from your freezer.  See Cooking Dry Beans for directions on preparing a large batch of beans and freezing them in recipe-size portions.

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, well drained
     or 1- 16 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
Seasoning of your choice (see suggestions above)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a bowl combine garbanzo beans with olive oil, salt, and seasonings.  Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about an hour, until they are crunchy and toasty on the outside and crispy inside.  

Cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week for best flavor and enjoy as a savory snack or salad topping. 


bread snacks

Rosemary Crackers

Good-bye junk food crackers – hello homemade!

Good bye preservative-, trans fat-, and sodium-laden store-bought crackers!  Rosemary Crackers fly together in a jiffy; they’re made with pantry staples.  Thank you Jane Thomas for sharing the recipe with me!  I adapted it slightly by adding some whole wheat.  Feel free to use other herbs in place of rosemary to create your own signature Herb Cracker.  Parchment paper can be found in the grocery store near aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary + two 6-inch sprigs
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
extra salt and olive oil for topping

Place a heavy baking sheet upside down on the center rack in your oven.  Or use a baking stone.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Whisk together flours, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add water and olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms.   Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and knead gently 8 to 10 times.  Let rest 15 minutes, covered.

A brief rest period allows the bran in the whole wheat flour to soften, which makes the dough easier to roll out.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll one portion out on a piece of parchment paper into a very thin 10-inch circle.  Prick with a fork 15 to 20 times.

Parchment paper is available at the grocery store alongside foil and plastic wrap.  It makes for easy rolling and baking of crackers.

Lightly brush top with olive oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in lightly with rolling pin.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a wire rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (one at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking.)  Break into pieces to make crackers.

Baked flatbread should show plenty of dark golden “sun spots.”  Break into irregular pieces for crackers.

Crackers can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yield:  11 oz. crackers

dehydrator snacks

Sweet Potato Chips

Thin & crispy chips made from sweet potatoes!
The perfect Sweet Potato Chip is light and crisp.

I experimented with a number of ideas on making sweet potato chips in the dehydrator and just wasn’t satisfied.  I pared it down to bare essentials and voila! ended up with a thin, crisp chip with a faint earthy flavor that I loved.  The litmus test was asking my teenagers to try them; teens are picky when it comes to chips.  To my complete surprise, they gobbled them up and asked for more.  I made some with salt and some without; we actually prefer them salt-free, but you do as your taste dictates.  This recipe requires a dehydrator.  I love my 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator.  

Take a peek at my other snack chip recipes that are made in the dehydrator:  Cinnamon Apple Chips,  Sea Salt & Vinegar Kale Flakes, Zucchini Chips as well as oven-made Rosemary Crackers.

3 sweet potatoes
sea salt, optional

Fill a large bowl with cold water.

Working with one sweet potato at a time, peel and slice 1/8-inch thick using a mandoline with a hand guard or a sharp knife.  Drop the slices into cold water and let soak one hour.  Pour through a colander and rinse well.  

I like a mixture of orange and white-fleshed sweet potatoes. Orange are rich in beta carotene; white are delightfully sweet.    The thinner the sweet potato, the less fibrous and easier to slice.

Arrange slices on dehydrator trays without overlapping. Season with salt, if desired. Set dehydrator to 125 degrees Fahrenheit and dry 8 hours, until crisp.

Let chips cool, then store in an airtight container up to 6 months for best quality.  If chips should soften, they can be re-crisped in the dehydrator for an hour or a 300 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes.

dehydrator raw snacks

Sea Salt & Vinegar Kale Flakes

Delicate & flaky, these “chips” are made in a dehydrator 
Well hello, Miriam!  I didn’t see you there!   Enjoy Kale Flakes with a glass of ice-cold water and a rinsed wedge of preserved lemon for a refreshing, probiotic beverage.

These earned me a Champion ribbon at the Jackson County Fair!  They are unbelievably easy and delicious.  What a fun way to eat kale!  Thanks Paulie, for the idea!  Check out additional dehydrator snack recipes:  Cinnamon Apple Chips, Dried Apple/Dried Pear Dice, Dried Apple Rings, Pair-a-Dice Train Mix, Pumpkin Pie Fruit LeatherSweet Potato Chips, Zucchini Chips.  Also Rosemary Crackers made in your oven.

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. olive oil
lots of kale
sea salt, for sprinkling

Place vinegar and olive oil in a very large bowl (7 quart).  Wash kale and cut into strips if large.  Remove the center vein if it is thick or tough.  Toss kale in bowl and stir.  Let marinate 30-60 minutes.  Spread kale in single layer on dehydrator trays.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Dry at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 hours, until crispy.  Eat like potato chips.  YUM!

Raw food tip:  reduce dehydrator temp to 110 – 115 degrees and be prepared to let them dry longer, up to 8 hours.

dehydrator raw snacks zucchini

Zucchini Chips

Savory seasoning makes these chips special

The first time I tasted these ultra-light and crispy chips made by my friend Joanne, I was hooked.  They tasted so good!  Nutritional yeast flakes are her “secret” ingredient.  They add a savory flavor dimension that keeps you coming back for more.  Joanne generously shares her recipe with anyone who asks for it; now I’m sharing it with you.  Thanks Joanne!

For additional chip recipes made in the dehydrator, see Cinnamon Apple Chips, Sweet Potato Chips, Sea Salt & Vinegar Kale Flakes; or try oven-made Rosemary Crackers.

The yellow zucchini are sprinkled with BBQ seasoning, green zucchini with nutritional yeast flakes.

3 largish zucchini, any color
3 Tbs. olive oil, or an olive oil sprayer
sea salt
*nutritional yeast flakes

Wash the zucchini and work with one squash at a time.  Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice one of the zucchini into thin (1/8 – 1/4-inch) slices.  Place slices in a large bowl and drizzle 1 Tbs. olive oil over them.  (Or mist with olive oil sprayer.)

Arrange zucchini on dehydrator trays without overlapping, sprinkle with sea salt and nutritional yeast flakes.  Repeat for remaining squash.

Dry zucchini slices at about 125 – 135 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 – 12 hours or overnight.  When crispy, remove from trays and store in an airtight container for I don’t know how long because they don’t last very long!

To make “Raw” Zucchini Chips, set dehydrator to 110 – 115 and continue dehydrating until done.  They will be a bit less crisp, and may take 24 hours or more, depending on thickness of the slices.  

1.  Buy organic nutritional yeast flakes, a rich source of needed B vitamins, in the natural foods section of your grocery store.
2.  If your Zucchini Chips lose their crispness, you can re-crisp them in the dehydrator for an hour, or in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Watch that they don’t burn.
3.  Any other kind of summer squash works in this recipe, too:  yellow crookneck, pattypan, etc.
4.  Feel free to change up the seasoning – Garlic Salt, BBQ Seasoning, or your own custom mixture.

dinner slow cooker

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

Easily made in your slow cooker
A simple garland of flowering or leafy herbs creates an inviting presentation.

This recipe is a little bit Martha Stewart, a little bit Michele Scicolone (author of The Italian Slow Cooker, one of my three favorite slow cooker cookbooks), and a little Fred Meyer deli counter.  Look for a hormone and antibiotic-free bird.  Better yet, buy direct from a small farm near you.  The difference in flavor and texture will amaze you.  Hint:  If your family really enjoys chicken prep enough seasoning mixture to last for twelve birds at one time.  The spice jars are already on the counter; after all.  Store seasoning mix in a pint-size canning jar in a cool cupboard.  

1 4-5 lb. whole chicken
1 medium onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 whole lemon

Seasoning Mixture:
single batch                                                    big batch (x12)
2 tsp sea salt                                                    1/2 cup sea salt
1 tsp paprika                                                    1/4 cup paprika
1 tsp onion powder                                          1/4 cup onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves                              3 Tbs dried thyme leaves
*1 tsp Italian herbs                                            *1/4 cup Italian herbs
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper                         1 1/2 – 3 Tbs cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper                                        2 Tbs black pepper

*Note:  You can substitute 1/2 tsp each dried basil, rosemary, and sage leaves for the Italian herbs.  For the Big Batch increase measurement to 2 Tbs of each herb.

Use a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker, one large enough to accommodate the bird.  (If you want to carve the chicken on a platter, make a sling from aluminum foil.  Cut a piece of foil long enough to extend out of both sides of the cooker.)  Spray the insert with olive oil.  Lay onion slices in bottom, cutting to fit.

Prepare seasoning mixture in either single or big batch.  If you make the big batch, whiz ingredients in food processor until uniform and store in a lidded jar in a cool, dark cupboard.   Otherwise, combine ingredients for single batch in a small bowl and have ready.

It takes just 15 minutes to prep a bird for the slow cooker if you make the Big Batch of Seasoning Mix ahead : )

Remove neck and giblets from chicken, and any loose fat.  You can also remove the skin if you wish.  Rub 2 scant Tablespoons seasoning mixture over chicken inside and out.  Smash garlic cloves with the back of a chef’s knife and insert in cavity.  Prick lemon 12 – 15 times with a fork and add to cavity.  Place chicken breast-side down in cooker.  Do not add water.

Foil sling makes it easy to lift cooked bird from cooker.

Cover and cook on high 4 – 5 hours, or low 7 – 8 hours, until fully cooked and tender.  A thermometer inserted in the thigh should read at least 165 degrees F.  Chicken will be more tender and flavorful if cooked until it reaches 175 degrees.

Refrigerate leftovers promptly.  Make gravy with the rich stock in the bottom of the cooker or preserve it for later use by freezing it in a straight-sided wide mouth pint jar.  Make Thrifty Stock with the flavorful carcass.

Bonus:  a free pint of delicious stock and a carcass for soup-making.  Note bag of frozen veggie trimmings, also destined for Thrifty Stock.


canning freezing slow cooker

Overnight Plum Butter

Overnight Plum Butter

You can take advantage of less-than-perfect fruit with this recipe.  If you don’t have a plum tree, look around.  Many landscapers plant flowering plum trees in parking lots and business fronts that produce small, mouth-puckeringly sour plums.  These are perfectly acceptable to use — simply slice off both “cheeks” of each plum and discard the pit-containing center.  I have also made use of plums from the grocery store with equally delicious results.  


Early Laxton plums from our front yard + Applesauce
+ Spices = Sweet Treat to enjoy year-round

8 cups  pitted and chopped plums
1 quart (32 oz.) unsweetened applesauce,
     or 6 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Combine ingredients in a 4 quart slow cooker and start cooking without the lid on high heat in the afternoon.  Before you go to bed, reduce heat to low, leave the lid off, and simmer overnight.  It will darken and become very thick as it cooks.  If you happen to wake up at night, give it a stir. In the morning, stir and taste the butter and check for consistency.  Butter should be thick and glossy; a wooden spoon will stand upright in the cooker.

Refrigerate in lidded containers up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.  

You can also water bath can Overnight Plum Butter.  Pour hot sauce into hot half pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles with a headspace tool or plastic knife.  Wipe rims of jars with a clean, damp paper towel.  Apply lids and rings and tighten according to manufacturer’s directions.  Process 5 minutes in a boiling water canner.  Adjust processing time for your specific altitude and read up on the basics of canning in a recent edition of the Ball Blue Book or contact your local Extension Service for classes and publications.

Yield varies depending on how long the butter is cooked down.  I usually end up with about 7 half-pint jars.

Enjoy Overnight Plum Butter on toast, bran muffins, vanilla ice cream, or use as a dessert topping. 

slow cooker soup

Garden Vegetable Soup ~with Pesto

A basketful of veggies become a satisfying soup in your slow cooker

 I love making this soup!  It makes me feel thrifty.  I enjoy tallying up how many ingredients came from our garden.  Make this soup year-round, substituting your home-preserved veggies for fresh in winter.  It tastes good with all kinds of veggies, so feel free to use whatever is in season or on hand.  It is even tasty without the pesto if you are running short on time (or basil).