The Best Guacamole Ever!

“Cooking is an observation-based process that you can’t do if you’re so completely focused on a recipe.” – Alton Brown

I love this quote because this is my genuine heartfelt belief for all cooks! You have to be willing to experiment. Also, it fit perfectly with today’s recipe! I had a couple avocados in the fridge that needed to be used, so I decided to make some guacamole! Dave & I love to experiment in the kitchen so I said, let’s play around and come up with a unique recipe! So that’s what we did, and of course I am going to share this with all of you, my wonderful Dragonfly friends.

Our Favorite Recipes

Ingredients: Yields 2 cups of finished product

2 to 3 ripe avocados peeled, pitted, and chunked

1 Package of guacamole seasoning

¼ cup shredded taco style cheese or similar

¼ cup jalapeno peppers, chopped

1 TBSP minced fresh garlic

2 TBSP red onion, minced

2 TBSP minced fresh cilantro

½ tsp each fresh ground pepper & pink Himalayan salt

¼ cup garlic parmesan cream cheese- see recipe at side


Take cubed guacamole and place in a medium sized bowl; add all ingredients one at a time in order as listed, blend thoroughly after each added ingredient. 

Serve immediately with chips.

Cover and refrigerate any extra.

Garlic Parmesan Cream Cheese:
Take 1/4 cup whipped cream cheese and add 2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese and 2 tsp fresh minced garlic; blend until evenly mixed!

This is great as a dip for bread sticks too!

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Happy Day,

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How-to preserve your herbs, & bonus recipes!

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

– Julia Child

My freshly dried basil

Growing your own veggies & herbs is a such blessing! Although having the ability to preserve them is a wonderful use of what you’ve grown & harvested. It helps save a ton of money as herbs can be very expensive, especially organic brands. Whether or not you garden organically, your home grown herbs will taste remarkably richer than any purchased from the store.

The following how-to can be used with just about any herbs you grow. Here are a few processes I want to share with all of you.

Pro tip: You don’t have to wait until the fall to preserve your delicious herbs, you can start early in the spring and work at it all season long! 

As I mentioned there are a few ways to dry your herbs. Let’s look at each one.

Pro tip: You can have herbs all year in cold weather states. In the spring when you are purchasing your seeds, save a few to plant in late summer in pots. You can keep these in your kitchen all winter long.

Pro Tip: De-stemming your herb leaves from the stem is essential for the highest quality finished product. You can see in these photo’s the original stem of basil, then plucking each leaf off. The stems will not dry well and are often times stringy.

For recipes using all your wonderful dried herbs, check out my blog post here:

Some seeds do not have a long shelf life when kept at room temperature. If you keep the seeds in your freezer they will have a better chance of germinating. 

1. Using a dehydrator. Your dehydrator will come with instructions and is very easy to use. You can use a dehydrator for all types of herbs as well as fruit! You can even make fruit roll ups! 

2. Place herbs on a cookie sheet and dry in your oven. After you’ve de-stemmed the leaves, place them on a cookie sheet and bake in a 250 degree oven until dry. The length of time will be determined by the size of the leaves.
For example, thyme and oregano leaves will be quicker than basil or parsley as their leaves are larger

Place leaves in a single layer on the cookie sheet so they are not overlapping each other. You do not need to turn the leaves. Check every 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Hanging your herbs to dry in a shady spot works too! You can bundle your herbs with a rubber band and hang them to dry. This generally takes a bit longer to dry as the herbs are more densely packed.

This photo was taken at
Greenfield Village

Pro tip: Don’t hang these in a sunny window as the sun will fade the color of the leaves.

Once the leaves are crumbly to the touch, remove them from the cookie sheet into a shallow bowl; gently crumble the leaves, do not crumble so hard that they become dusty. Think about how herbs look purchased from the store.

4. Besides drying your herbs, you can also freeze some of them. I have found that chives and parsley both freeze well. Most others will turn black and slimy.

Storage: Once you have dried your herbs, you can store them in glass jars with tight fitting lids, freezer storage bags or I like to use half pint jars with cute labels.

Other tips!

Freeze your pesto for use year round! We use pesto for so many recipes. I will make a large batch when my basil and parsley are at their best and then freeze them in half pint jars as these are equivalent to 1 cup which most recipes call for. You can also freeze them in ice cube trays and toss in a freezer bag.

Pro tip: Remember to leave at least an inch headspace when freezing!

Herb infused oils can be rather expensive even though they are so easy to make! Simply pack 2 cups of most any fresh culinary herb with 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil.

Pro tip: Olive oil can have a strong taste so I generally only use a few herbs with it. Basil, Thyme, & oregano. I also love to add fresh minced garlic with these. Soooo yummy!

Bonus Herb Salt & Salt Free Recipes

Here are some of my yummy herb salts-less recipes!
If you are trying to watch your salt intake, here a some great salt substitutes that the whole family will enjoy and they won’t even miss the salt!

For each recipe, combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly I even use a mini food processor. Once blended, store each one in a separate airtight container; shake before using, contents will probably settle.

Salt-less Herb Blend

5 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great on fish & chicken!

I had to use this pic of Aaron back on the farm after he harvested these onions!!

Italian Blend

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
5 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great in ground beef when making goulash!

Basic Herb Salt

1 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. dill week
2 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 cup basil

Blend together in a food processor; store in an airtight container. Great for grilling or putting on pork or beef roasts!

All of these are great Great sprinkled on burger patties before grilling and really adds something special to ground beef when fried.

If you enjoyed this blog & bonus recipes, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think ! I love your feedback! If you aren’t following me on Facebook go on over & give it a like & follow me for daily tips & tricks for the home and garden!

Happy Day,

Dry Spice Blend Recipes: Easy to make salad dressings and dips


Many of us have harvested and dried our herbs… did you ever think to use them to create your own spice blends? Even if you didn’t grow and preserve your own, by purchasing your herbs in bulk and combining them to make your own blends you’ll save big in the wallet.

I thought I’d share some of my families favorites and most commonly used… at least in my home! Here are some awesome spice blends that I know you’ll all love…


Italian Seasoning

3 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. basil
2 Tbsp. marjoram
2 Tbsp. parsley
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. rosemary

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.


Taco Seasoning

2/3 c dried chives
1/3 c white sugar
4 T. sea salt
3 T. garlic powder
3 T. cilantro
2 T. onion powder
2 T. cumin
1 T. oregano
1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed. Store in an airtight container.

Veggie Dip

3/4 c dried chives
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. plus 1 T. basil
1/4 c. sea salt
3 T. celery seed
3 T. dill weed
2 T. garlic powder
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

To Make Dip:
Combine 1 T. dry mix to 1 cup sour cream. Use with veggies or pretzels.


Ranch Dressing Mix

2 T. parsley
1  t. garlic powder
1  t. onion powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. paprika

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
To Make Dressing:
Add dry ingredient mix to:
2 cup real mayonnaise and 1 1/2 cup buttermilk- you can exchange the buttermilk with regular milk.
Let set in fridge for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. If too thick add a bit more milk. It will thicken while it sets.

I would multiply this recipe several times and keep stored. When you want to make the recipe, add 3 Tbsp. dry mix to 2 cup mayo.


Creamy Italian Dressing Mix

1/2 cup white sugar
4 T. sea salt
3 T. garlic powder
3 T. onion powder
3 T. oregano
3 T. parsley
3 t. basil
2 T. marjoram
T. thyme
1 T. rosemary
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

To Make Dressing:
Add 2 Tbsp. dry mix to:
2/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar.
Blend together and let set in fridge for up to an hour before serving to allow flavors to blend.


Making home made spice blends and dressings is so easy and saves a ton of money… not to mention homemade just always taste better!

Happy Day,

Organizational Tips and Recipes for Herb Salts And Dry Mixes!

I love reading anything on organization! I am a firm believer of everything has a place and everything in it’s place.  In my home I up against seven other individuals. Now when I say ‘up against’ I don’t mean that in necessarily a bad way for the most part… I just mean not all members of my household have the same instinct as I do… so I work hard at trying to instill this quality, especially in my children… unfortunately it’s too late for my other half(can’t teach an old dog new tricks, LOL)!  He was not taught this art in anyway shape or form… he does try to some degree, but it’s not his nature. Anyway, some of my children have grabbed hold onto it and some, shall I say are a work in progress! A few things that drive me crazy are when the kitchen cupboard doors are left open… I just cannot understand why they don’t close as easily as they opened… sigh! … or why the dirty clothes land beside the hamper, but not in… sigh!  Well, as my one dear friend always tells me… ‘Line upon line… precept upon precept!’ So I trudge on!  Really I don’t mind it all too much because I do love to get things organized and re-do stuff. Anytime I am in the check out line and there appears a new organizing or storage magazine, they just seem to find there way into my cart! Praise the Lord for constant inspiration!  Last week I spent the morning ‘gutting’ out and cleaning the boys room… unbelievable is all I can say!  I do this about four times a year and it never ceases to amaze me what accumulates in that room!  Anyway, Ryan helped me and we got the job done… again!  He say’s to me, “I just love when you clean our room and it looks so nice!”  I just looked at him and said, “Why don’t you keep it this way?”… of course it was the other brothers fault… sigh!  I am going to touch on room by room organization tips over the next few blogs.  A lot of the info will be taken and adapted from my favorite book, “Sink Reflections”, by Marla Cilley- The FlyLady.  So here are some great tips that I believe can work in any home that has these little blessings (A.K.A. children)or not, along with references on some books that I have repeatedly referenced over the years… and of course some recipes!  Have a great day friends!

Room by Room Organization Tips…. Today we will focus on the Bed & Bath rooms… read on next time for Kitchen and Pantry!  Most of the info will be adapted from Sink Reflections.  The ‘FlyLady” as she likes to be referred to (she is a fly fishing instructor as well as an organizational wizard), has several “buzz” words that she refers to often in the book. I will briefly discuss a few here so when I use them you won’t be wondering what in the world I am talking about. The ones I took hold of primarily were~ Walk Through’s, Hot Spots, as well as her ‘Control Journal’.  I will first discuss the Control Journal… I am sure you are surprised by that!
I have followed this book to a tee and it really works… even with less than willing housemates! 

*The Control Journal… in basic terms allows you to write down just what you want done in each room of the house, list’s your schedules, can be a day planner, can hold inspirational pieces or anything else you want to keep in it.  It can be as basic or complex as you the designer want it to be.  I of course like it right down to the nitty gritty of things.  Marla explains how to take your notebook/journal and walk through or sit in each room and write down everything you ‘see’ that needs to be done as well as the frequency you want the tasks done. You can keep the tasks in a calender format~ for example, some chores get done seasonally- Spring & Fall cleaning- wash walls & ceilings; monthly- washing the curtains; weekly- strip & wash the bedding;  several times in a week- laundry; daily- vacuuming the carpets, taking out the trash; several times in a day- washing dishes or sweeping the floors and so on.  You can make it as detailed or not as you desire.  I found it very helpful for the children to be very detailed… this helped them to completely understand their jobs and what was expected of them.
I loved this aspect of her program because I love to journal and see what is happening!  The journal can give specific details as to what happens in each room.  For instance when cleaning the living room~ dust from the top down~ around ceiling line, pictures on walls, book shelf, lamp shades, finally the furniture, wash windows and dust ledges, pick up under furniture, and finally vacuum. Presto room done! 

*The Walk Through... I use this term every single day!  When I ask one of the children to do a walk through they fully understand that I mean they need to go through the room and pick up everything that is out of place, put it in it’s proper place and then vacuum.  This term has become second nature to all of them and it works well even with little ones.

*Hot Spot
is another buzz word that Marla discusses… we all have them whether we want to admit it or not.  In layman’s terms these are those spots in our homes that when someone walks in what ever they have in their hands instantly gets dropped on/in that spot.  For us it’s the bar top counter and on the counter right beside the fridge.  For my darling daughter it is MY DESK!  Anything and everything that is paper gets dumped onto my desk! I understand her motivation… she doesn’t know what I want to keep and what I want to pitch… so it goes on mom’s desk and mom can keep or pitch… so I guess that is OK. Anyway, every home has them… and Marla gives great tips on how to get rid of them… although I have to say ours don’t get as bad as they use to, but we still have them!
… so moving on, here are tips from my home to yours!
*Bedroom…  There are a few tricks that I use in all the bedrooms of my home…
~Plastic totes– in one of our boys room they have a built in wall closet, so I don’t really need a dresser for them.  Although to keep things neat & tidy each boy has two totes: one for socks & underwear and one for their church socks, shoes & belt.  On the bottom of the closet they have a little shelf that holds their pants and jammies.  All their shirts and suits are hung on hangers.  When they work with the program, it is very neat & orderly.  Because they don’t have a dresser in their room I keep all their bedding in another dresser. 
~Books, toys and stuff are kept on shelves and in a desk.  The boys have a desk in their room where they can keep pen’s, crayons, scissors and the likes.  I like to use small pencil boxes for these items so they don’t get all over the place.  The boys books and magazines are kept on a shelf for easy access.  They have two drawers on the bottom of their closet where toys are kept along with ball cloves and cleats.
~Off Season  and Grow-Into Clothing are kept in plastic totes under the bed as well as on the shelf above their closet.  This way dust and bugs don’t have access and things can be kept in order of size and season.  I like to use clear totes that I can easily see into; I keep a note inside the tote as to the sizes so I don’t have to unfold and guess as I am looking for the next size of clothing.  This also makes it easier so I don’t have to drag out all of them and go through each one.  If you don’t like clear totes then list the items on a label and then using clear packing tape cover the whole label so it doesn’t get torn off or fade; put one on the top and two sides of the tote.  IF you have other children that will grow into those clothes be sure to mark accordingly who will use next.
~Knick-knacks and Collectables are kept on a small wall shelf and on top of their desk where they can be easily viewed and kept out of reach of the little boys! 
~For bedding I learned a really clever idea from a friend of mine for keeping sheets & matching pillowcases all together.  Simply fold your flat sheet in half lengthwise and then again and again until it is long and narrow… about 18″ wide; next fold the fitted sheet to be a square that will lay on the top sheet without hanging over- place at the one end of folded flat sheet; fold your pillow cases and lay on top of fitted sheet; next roll the fitted sheet and pillow cases up into the flat sheet until you have a nice, neat square… no more searching for matching bedding!  I keep all the bedding in my armoire in our bedroom.

The bathroom can be a challenge or a delight… in my opinion what makes the difference is if it a small room with no storage or one that you can do cart wheels in (my personal dream bath…) anyway, I have a smallish bath with no storage other than under the small vanity and one small wall medicine cabinet.  On one of my shopping sprees I found a large floor plant stand at an antique shop and knew exactly what I would do with it… It is now mounted on the one available wall in the bathroom beside the tub and that is where I keep our towels.  I don’t like things to look cluttered, despite what Taylor says, and it has to be cute & neat… so I roll the towels and then put them on the two shelves. On the outside shelves I keep small baskets where extra bottles of shampoo, soap and such can be stored; I fold the smaller hand and wash towels and put those there as well. 
~Smaller toiletries, lotions, contact stuff, extra toothpaste,  and such are kept in the small medicine cabinet on the wall.  I try to keep Neil’s stuff on one, mine on another and other stuff on the third. 
~In the cabinet under the vanity I keep the cleaners in a plastic bucket, roll of paper towel and extra larger toiletries.  There is a space between the vanity and the wall where I keep a basket that holds the extra toilet paper.
~No bathroom would be complete without reading material so that gets put in another basket that sits beside the toilet.

… these are just a few tips that I use in my home, but be sure to go to the FlyLady’s web site at to see more great tips!

“Sink Reflections”, by Marla Cilley- The FlyLady, Published by Bantam Books, 2002
“Sidetracked Home Executives”, by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, Published by Time Warner Books, 1977
“The 15 Minute Organizer”, by Emilie Barnes, Published by Harvest House Publishers

Try these great mixes for grilling!

Summer in her beautiful bounty is giving us lots of wonderful things.  In previous blog’s I have explained how to dry and use herbs that you have grown or bought… Here are some yummy mixes, salts and salt-less recipes!  Enjoy…

Garden Herb Dry Mix

*This dry mix is great sprinkled on burger patties before grilling and really adds something special to ground beef when fried!

1/2 cup parsley, dried & crumbled
1 cup Chervil, dried & crumbled
1/2 cup chives, dried & crumbled
1/2 cup tarragon, dried & crumbled
2 Tbsp. sea salt
Combine all in bowl and store in an airtight container; shake before using, contents will probably settle.

Herb Salt’s
If you are trying to watch your salt intake, here a some great salt substitutes that the whole family will enjoy and not miss the salt!

5 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container.  Great on fish & chicken!

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
5 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container.  Great in ground beef when making goulash!

… if your not watching your salt intake…
Basic Herb Salt
1 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. dill week
2 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 cup basil
Blend together in a food processor; store in an airtight container.  Great for grilling or putting on pork or beef roasts!

Happy Day,