Kitchen Gardens: How-to tips and ideas on how to create your own


Follow this link to read my NEW article on kitchen gardens at Farm to Table, Field to Plate.

Happy Day,

Cheesy-Garlicky Dinner Buns


For all of you who followed me over from For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page… here’s the Cheesy-Garlicky Dinner Buns How-to recipe I promised! Enjoy friends!

This dinner bun recipe can  be found in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats on page 40, the second recipe on the page by Carol Jean Shirk

Cheesy-Garlicky Dinner Buns
Yields about 12 rolls
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Dinner Bun dough:
2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 c warm water
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. salt
4-5 c white flour

1/2 cup Shredded cheese, I used Colby jack
Oil for greasing muffin tin


Parmesan Butter Brush On

1 stick salted butter, softened
Add the remaining ingredients and blend well.
1 Tbsp. fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. parsley, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

1. Mix yeast into warm water; add sugar, stir in; add oil and beaten egg, mix thoroughly; add 1 cup flour and blend.

2. Add 1 cup of remaining flour at a time mixing in until the dough feels right. It should be a bit tacky; knead for about 2-3 minute’s. Let rise for 30 minutes.

3. Form into tennis ball size balls.


4. Using your thumb, make a hole in the middle of dough ball.


5. Place 1/2 tsp. Parmesan Butter Brush On  (follow link below for more gobs more flavored butter recipe) into hole.
Follow this link to my article at Your Home With Karie Engels for more Brush On Herbed Butter recipes.


6. Add 1 Tbsp. shredded cheese into hole.


7. Pinch dough closed being sure to seal it.


8. Place pinched side down in greased muffin tins.


9. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes; place in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes, until rolls are golden and firm when touched, or until a knife comes out clean.

10. Remove from heat and place on cooling rack for 3 minutes; take rolls out of muffin tin and place on another cooling rack for about 2 minutes and serve hot with some yummy soup!


So easy and so yummy!
Have a great day!

Sister’s Day: How-to host a fun day of activities with your friends and family


“What’s a Sisters Day?”  you’re all wondering.  Well, quite simply it’s when you and a group of friends or relatives plan a day to be together doing something you all enjoy. It can also be geared toward helping one another get specific ‘big jobs’ done that would otherwise be difficult to do alone.

Today we had an apple themed sisters day! This has been a prime year for fruit in Michigan and apples are absolutely abounding. Last week we picked fifteen bushels off our tree! What a yield. I made more apple sauce, my apple pie filling and with the rest of it we’ll do apple cider… and what goes better with fresh pressed apple cider than doughnuts? I’d say nothing!

DPP_0011So today I thought I’d share some ideas on how you can host a fun day of activities with your friends and family. Here are some Sisters Day activities, planning/organization tips and group ideas.

Activities can include but are certainly not limited to:
*Spring or Fall house cleaning
*Spring yard prep or Fall yard clean up
*Garden planting
*Harvest day- potatoes, pumpkins/ winter squash, etc.
*Sewing/ mending
*Comforter knotting/ quilting
*Card making
*Scrap booking
*Canning and preserving
*Cookie exchange
*Dinner/meal swap
*Crafty day

Basic planning/ organization of the day:
*We go in the order of the ages for our group of ladies; oldest to youngest.
*The day is typically planned at the ‘sister’s’ house whose turn it is.
*The sisters whose turn it is chooses the activities/themes for her day.
*The lady whose turn it is plans for the next one in line.
*Everyone brings a dish to pass for lunch. You can plan the menu and give everyone a designated dish or let it be a surprise pot luck.
*The sisters whose turn it is typically provides all the throw away lunch plates, cups and silverware.
*Each person brings an assigned dish for the sisters whose turn it is supper meal. This makes it nice for her, because after having a house full of company, who feels like cooking supper for the family? 😉
*I like to include a guest book for each person to sign when it’s at my house. I write the date and what the theme was.  I have each sister sign her name and what she brought for lunch and my supper.
*Depending how many are in your group will determine how often you want to get together. You can choose monthly, bi-monthly or bi-weekly.

DPP_0003Who to include in your group:
*Your family members; sister’s &/or cousins you are especially fond of 🙂 mom, mother and sister in-laws, grandma and special aunts too.
*Coworkers Is there a group in your work place that you enjoy spending time?
*Groups that you affiliate with- M.O.P.’s, homeschooling, Bible study group, Brownies or Girl Scouts, Master Gardeners, etc.
I’m sure you can think of several other groups you may have fun with!

Whatever theme or group of friends you decide on you’ll have a great time… so let your imaginations soar!

Here are some photo’s of our sisters day we had today!


Happy Day, Jean

Apple Pie Filling: Canning and freezing recipes along with thickener information


Fall brings out the nesting instinct in me… the instinct to cook and clean. Once my fall harvest and preserving has slowed down to a dull roar, I’ll go into the fall cleaning swing… that will bring some new posts on how-to organize your time and home. But that’s for another day…

Today I’ll share some canning recipes I thought you’d all enjoy!  It’s apple season and besides apple sauce, what else can you do with apples. Pie of course!

apple pie photo: apple pie apple_pie.jpg

Before we get into the recipes, I thought I’d touch on a question I often get asked, “What’s the difference between cornstarch, Perma-flo and Clear-jel?”

The following information that is italicized was taken and slightly adapted from:
This site had an awesome chart on thickener substitutions.  A must read!  It has types of thickeners that I’ve never heard of. This would be really good info for someone looking for alternative thickeners with particular food allergies

Perma-flo and Clear-jel are pretty much the same. Cornstarch I learned the hard way you can’t cook your stuff to the consistency you want. It will get thicker the longer it sets. Where the other two you cook to the consistency that you want. Personally I like the perma flo best.

Some people have complained that Clear-jel leaves an after taste. Clear-jel and cornstarch can be inter-changed equally.

Pema-flo can be used to thicken fruit and then frozen.  

Cornstarch is used to thicken sauces, gravies, and puddings. Like other starch thickeners, cornstarch should be mixed into a slurry with an equal amount of cold water before it’s added to the hot liquid you’re trying to thicken. You then need to simmer the liquid, stirring constantly, for a minute or so until it thickens. Cornstarch doesn’t stand up to freezing or prolonged cooking, and it doesn’t thicken well when mixed with acidic liquids. 

Clear-jel is modified cornstarch and is the secret ingredient that many commercial bakers use in their fruit pie fillings. Unlike ordinary cornstarch, ClearJel® works well with acidic ingredients, tolerates high temperatures, and doesn’t cause pie fillings to “weep” during storage. ClearJel® is an especially good choice if you’re canning homemade pie fillings, since it doesn’t begin thickening until the liquid begins to cool. This allows the heat to be more evenly distributed within the jar during processing. This is such an important safety advantage that ClearJel® is the only thickener the USDA recommends for home canning. You can also use ClearJel® to thicken sauces, stews, and the like, though it’s a rather expensive all-purpose thickener. One downside is that products thickened with ClearJel® tend to break down if they’re frozen and thawed. If you plan to freeze what you’re making, use Instant ClearJel®.  ClearJel® is available either as pearls or powder from mail-order suppliers, but it’s not yet available in grocery stores. Don’t use this if you’re canning a pie filling.

Instant Clear-jel is a modified cornstarch that professional bakers sometimes use to thicken pie fillings. It has several advantages over ordinary cornstarch. Instant ClearJel® thickens without cooking, works well with acidic ingredients, tolerates high temperatures, is freezer-stable, and doesn’t cause pie fillings to “weep” during storage. Don’t use Instant ClearJel® for canning–it tends to break down.

Each product works differently and is better suited to particular recipes depending on if it is cooked or not. Be sure to check the recipe and understand the differences before you interchange them. I use Perma-flo in my canned pie filling because of the after taste I feel Clear-jel leaves.

apple pie photo: Apple Pie apple-pie.jpg

Here’s my recipe for canned pie filling along with a BONUS recipe from my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats.

Canned Pie Filling

2 c Perma-flo
2 c cold water
7 c sugar
6 c water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
24 c peeled, cored and sliced apples
*6 drops red food coloring, optional

1. In a separate bowl combine the Perma-flo and 2c water; stir until dissolved

2. In a large kettle combine the 6c water, sugar, salt and food coloring; bring to a rolling boil.

DPP_00023. Stir the Perma-flo- water mixture again; then very slowly begin pouring the mixture into the boiling liquid, like adding eggs to a pudding, stirring constantly. Once it thickens to a goop, remove from heat, add cinnamon and apples.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Fill quart jars, leaving an inch head space; wipe the rims of the jar; put lid and rings on tightly.

5. Water bath process 30 minutes or pressure can at 5#’s pressure for 5 minutes.  Place the jars on a towel on counter and leave for 48 hours to ensure proper seal.

Freezer Apple Pie Filling
This recipe can be found in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats on page 427 in the canning section.


6 c water
1 c Instant Clear-jel
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 c sugar
1 stick butter
16 c of peeled, cored and sliced apples

1. Combine sugar, Instant Clear-gel, lemon juice with 1 c cold water in a large kettle; stir until thoroughly mixed

2. Add remaining 5 cups water and 1 stick of butter. Cook on low heat until thick; cool.

3. Mix in apples, place in freezer containers and freeze.


*TIP: I use wide mouth quart jars for pie filling if possible because it is much easier to get out when you’re ready to use it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a couple of recipes on what to make with your apple pie filling!


Happy Day,

Here’s are a couple links where you can purchase Perma-flo from if you don’t have a local source.–perma-flo-starch.html

Here’s a link to purchase Instant Clear-jel

Apple Pie Filling Recipes


“Ah Autumn… I love you, my favorite season, my cozy friend who returns loyally each and every year.”
Author Unknown

Apples are a sure sign of Autumn.  I have such fond memories of going to the orchards and picking… the sweet smell lingering heavily and heavenly.   Bringing home the bounty with big plans on preserving… and preserve I do!


This is the first year that we’ve harvested the apples off our tree… it’s such an incredible feeling to provide for yourself… to feed your loved ones from what you’ve nurtured to fruition. We harvested fifteen bushels of apples off this tree last week… more apple sauce, canned apple pie filling and next week… cider!


Although Spring is my favorite time of year, Autumn is close behind with all the promises of a well-fed family until I can once again go to my gardens and plant the next harvest seasons promise.


The other day I offered to share some of my recipes for using the canned and frozen apple pie filling I taught you how to make. Here they are! Both these recipes can be found in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats. You can purchase my book here or at my Facebook page.

Favorite Apple Cobbler can be found on pg. 330

DPP_00232 quart apple pie filling
2 c white flour
2 c sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs 1/2 c butter
1/2 c. pecans, chopped (optional)

1. Spread apple pie filling a  greased 9x13x2 inch pan (you can use any pie filling you’d like).

2. Mix remaining ingredients and spread over fruit filling.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 4050 minutes.

Cake Mix and Pie Filling Desert can be found on pg. 333


1 box cake mix
2 large eggs, or 3 medium
1 quart canned pie filling
1 tsp. almond or vanilla flavoring

Chocolate mix- cherry pie filling
White or yellow mix- blueberry pie filling
Spice mix- apple pie filling Lemon mix- lemon pie filling or use your imagination

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan; set aside.

3. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; beat with mixer on low for 1 minute. Scrape down sides; beat 2 minutes more on medium.  Batter should look thick and well blended.

4. Pour in pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool; serve with cool whip or ice cream.

Have fun baking… and feel free to share your ideas here in the comments section! I’d love to hear what you’d do with it!

Happy Day,

Recipes from the Root Cellar

Yesterday I promised you recipes to help use your yummy root cellar crops… here they are!
Enjoy friends!


Roasted Carrot Soup

6-8 medium carrots, peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
1 c coarsely chopped onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 14.5 ounce cans chicken broth
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt & black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss carrots, & onion with oil to coat. Spread veggies in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender.

2. In a large saucepan combine roasted vegetables, broth, and paprika . Bring to boiling. Cool slightly.

3. Transfer half the vegetable mixture at a time to a blender or food processor. Blend or process until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan. Add lemon juice. Heat through. Season with salt & pepper.


Poached Beets

3/4 c apple juice
1/2 c water
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 pounds beets, peeled & cut into bite size pieces
Salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley

1. In a large saucepan combine 1/2 c of the apple juice, the water, and brown sugar. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add beets. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until beets are tender & can be pierced with a fork, stirring occasionally. Drain.

2. Transfer beets to serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining juice over beets. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If desired, drizzle with honey.


Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.

3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

Asian Chicken Slaw

2 chicken breasts, de-boned & skinned, cooled & diced
4 c cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 c onions thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar or regular
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp. sugar

1. in a large bowl, combine chicken, cabbage and onions.

2. Add remaining ingredients and toss to blend. Add salt & pepper to taste.

3. Serve as a salad or fill pita pockets


Cabbage Strudel– makes 2 rolls

8 Tbsp. butter
1 c chopped onion
8 c thinly sliced cabbage
1 c shredded carrots
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c shredded cheese– Swiss or other
3/4 c bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley or thyme
1/8 tsp. black pepper
12 sheets frozen Phylo dough– thawed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15×10 inch baking pan– set aside.

2. in a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter and add onion; cook about 5 minutes or till tender. Add cabbage & carrots; sprinkle with salt. Cook about 10 minutes or till tender. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, 1/2 c of bread crumbs, pepper & herb

3. In a saucepan melt the remaining butter. Unroll Phylo dough, cover with waxed paper & damp towel. Brush with some butter; top with 1 teaspoon of crumbs. Repeat layers with five more sheets Phylo., melted butter & crumbs. Spread half the cabbage filling over Phylo layers, leaving a 2 inch border on one of the long sides & both short sides. Fold both short sides over filling; roll up from l long side. Place roll, seam side down, in prepared pan. Repeat to make a second roll.

4. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack; cool for 30 minutes. To serve cut with serrated knife into slices.


Real Pumpkin Pie

1-  9” deep dish unbaked pie crust
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cup milk
1 egg white, stiffly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a blender, combine all ingredients, except egg white, and blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Pour into pie crust; add stiffly beaten egg white, folding in very carefully with spatula into pie. Small lumps are fine.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes; lower to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.

Test for doneness with a toothpick to check center for dryness.

I use actual pumpkin that I can, so if you like a stronger flavor, this is a great recipe!


French Onion Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
4 onions, sliced
3 cup beef broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. sherry (optional)
1 cup French bread, cubed and toasted
1/2 pound baby Swiss Cheese

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; add onions; cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and sherry, if using.

3. Increase heat; bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Divide into 4 oven safe soup bowls; top with bread cubes, then cheese. Place under a broiler just until cheese melts.

Makes 4 bowls.

If you haven’t come and LIKED For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page, click the link on the side bar here and check it out. I give daily inspirations, photo’s and lots more recipes. You can be a part of my daily life as I share all the fun things we do at our farm.


Hope to see you there!
Happy Day,