Fall Flavors: Some of my families favorite fall recipes


I simply cannot help but cook and bake when the cool days of Autumn begin pressing relentlessly against my will.  So even though I’ve just spent many days over the last several months canning and preserving all my garden’s bounty… I still remain in the kitchen.

I love cooking for my family and I thought it would be nice to share some of their favorites with you here! So, as promised over at For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page… Some of my families favorite “Fall Flavor’s” recipes… enjoy friends.

Pizza In A Pot on page 121 in my cookbook

This recipe is in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats on pg.  121. You can purchase my cookbook by coming to my Facebook page at this link https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651

Or you can purchase using PayPal by clicking this link https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/10/12/2610/  . Click on the link in the article.

1 lb. ground sausage or hamburger
2 c. (or more) stewed tomatoes
2 c. soup, kidney or black beans
1 can black olives
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 T. Minute Tapioca (optional) – I don’t use this
1 T. basil
1 bay leaf
1 T. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Brown meat; drain. Transfer to a slow-cooker. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook for 8-9 hours or until slightly thick. Discard bay leaf.

2. Stir and serve over cooked pasta. Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella cheese if desired.

These recipes are just a few of my families favorites…


Apple Crisp (this is the recipe of the photo I shared on FB)

2 quarts (8c)  of apple pie filling
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted

1. Pour the apple pie filling in a 9x13x2 inch baking dish.

2. In a separate bowl add the oatmeal, flour and sugar; mix well. Pour the melted butter into the mixture and mix well until it is crumbly.

3. Sprinkle the crumbs over top of the apple pie filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!


Candied Squash
You can use any type of squash that you like with this simple yet yummy recipe…

1 sweet dumpling or acorn squash, cut in half with seeds removed
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. brown sugar

1.Place the squash with the cavities facing upward in a baking dish with sides.  Place 2 Tbsp.’s of each the butter and brown sugar into each squash cavity.

2. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes; uncover and put back in over for 15 more minutes.

3. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Scoop out the flesh carefully and put in bowl, trying not to lose any of the liquid. Mash or mix well. Discard the skins.

Brussels Sprouts photo: Brussels Sprouts brusselsprouts.jpg

Caramelized Roasted Root Veggies
This savory blend of root storage crops including Brussels sprouts, baby red potatoes, onions  and more tossed in a blend of Balsamic vinegar and olive oil is absolutely delicious.

1 quart or 4 cups of cleaned Brussels sprouts
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups baby red potatoes, halved
2 cups carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch coins
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper


Toss all ingredients into a 9x13x2 inch baking dish making sure all veggies are coated; bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes making sure potatoes and sprouts are cooked through. A knife should slide through both.

DPP_0011Pumpkin Cobbler
This is my families all-time favorite pumpkin desert…

3 eggs beaten
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 can Sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. maple flavoring
1 tsp. each: cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
1 box yellow cake mix

1. Mix all ingredients except cake mix and butter. Pour into an ungreased 9x13x2 inch pan.

2. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over batter; drizzle melted butter over top.

3. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a clean knife into center and corners. Remove to a cooling rack and serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Hope you all enjoy!
Please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

Happy day,

Organization Day 2: P.M.S. This is NOT what you think!

office1_emailverWelcome to the second article in my new series on Organization. Last time we talked about getting your lists made so you could begin creating routines. I mentioned that in today’s article I’d be teaching you about P.M.S. and how to use it with your lists.

If you missed the first article, here’s the link for it.

Some of you may be thinking you already know all about PMS and want nothing to do with it. But I guarantee by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be wishing for it!

First, get your notebook out with the lists you made the other day….
Now I’m going to teach you how to P.M.S. them… but first, I thought it’d be interesting to share with you how I developed this concept and explain what P.M.S is.

I created this concept from a good friends over-zealous list making and the frustrations the uncompleted tasks created for her. You see, my friend consistently made lists that were well over and above anyone’s ability to accomplish in a week, much less a day. Don’t get me wrong, her motives were beautiful… she’s an energetic, vibrant woman, but she continually tried to over extend herself.

One day while we were talking on the phone, I asked her what was on her agenda for the day!  I should have known… off my dear friend began to rattle a list that scared me! I knew her and I knew she’d never get it all done and she would feel like she’d failed.

Now I don’t have any problems with lists… as I mentioned in the first article, I’m all about lists. After all, you’re probably thinking, “That’s what she told us to do… make a list!”  You’re correct… but I also said to start small.

Later that day as I was looking over my own list of to-do’s, I realized I’d done something with my list… I P.M.S.’ed it.

P.M.S. simply is an abbreviation for: Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify.

So now it’s time to implement P.M.S. on your lists, and don’t worry if you forget something, you can add it later.

First you’re going to look over the lists you made the other day and prioritize the jobs in order of importance for each one.  This may take a few attempts and that’s OK, take your time and think the tasks over clearly as have to-do, need to-do and  want to-do.

Next, you’ll minimize the tasks as to how often and when the job gets done.  Again think have to, need to and want to!

Finally, simplify your life by writing your lists down in a journal or calendar. By documenting the tasks you’ll be able to have a visual help to keep you organized.  Keep posted for the next article where I’ll touch on helpful tips to create your own journal and calendars.

From these lists you’ll create your routines. As mentioned in the previous post, routines are combined into daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal tasks that need to be accomplished in and around our homes. Having a routine for each part of the day, as well as for each day of the week is important.

Here are two samples of my routines. The first is a Monthly Breakdown of Daily Household Tasks. I designed these on an excel spread sheet that can easily be adjusted as things change.

Monthly Breakdown of Daily Household Tasks:

TASK:  Household Chores


Sweep Floors                       X

Vacuum                                X

Clean Bathroom                                     M W F

Laundry                                                   M W F

Clean Back Entry                                    T R Sat

Sweep Basement Stairs                        T R Sat

Strip all bedding                                     Tues

Clean out fridge/ wash appliances     Sat

New foil on stove elements                 Sat

Wash windows                                       Sat

Shop vac stairs                                       Thurs

Clean upstairs hallway                          Thurs

Vacuum under furniture                                                X

Wash down all kitchen cupboards                               X

Clean/organize dining room closet                              X

Wash all curtains                                                             X

Clean Garage                                                                                         Spr Fall

Once your routines for the basic household tasks are set, you can create a more detailed Room by Room task list that can be printed off as a check list. Notice on this bathroom chart, I have the jobs in a logical order of cleaning top to bottom, as opposed to frequency schedule like my weekly task list.

Room: Bathroom
Task Days: M W F

Job Description:                                                   each day      weekly      monthly

Wash curtains- week you do the rest                                                           XX

Dust all around ceilings                                                                XX

dust window ledges, wash windows                                          XX

wash down walls do the week of
month curtains are washed                                                                            XX

clean: bathtub/shower                                             XX

sink                                                                              XX

toilet                                                                            XX

change garbage                                                                              XX

dust/clean soap dishes/ lotions, etc.                                           XX

tidy linen closets/ lines                                                                  XX

clean & organize vanities, cupboards, shelves                                              XX

sweep floor                                                                 XX

No matter how organized we think we are, without a routine based schedule, disorganization can get to the best of us. The goal in using my P.M.S. program is to create and maintain routines through lists that will aid you in organizing your home life.

After you’ve designed all your routines, you’ll start to build positive habits helping you to remain focused and organized.  We all want to provide a peaceful, relaxed home environment for our families… and with P.M.S. we can!

Stay tuned for the next article in the series: How-to Create and Use a Journal and Day Planner


Happy Day,

My Thanksgiving Day Dinner Menu


Check out my new post at Farm to Table, Field to Plate… get some of my special recipes while you’re there!

Click this link to go right over to my new post!
Enjoy friends!


The Season of Autumn

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” -Claude Monet

The Season of Autumn truly does hold much beauty and awe…
The leaves as they change from brilliant green to all the shades of the beautiful sunset…
Waking to an early frost as it glistens… the sun touches it and the frost becomes a deadly killer.

The sounds of the geese flying overhead with their graceful bodies against the fall sky …
There is something magnificent about a fall sky…
You know what I mean… the clouds put on a performance that leaves one standing, staring in awe… simple elegance.
Massive waves of swirling color, not grey yet not white, billowing over head so low it seems you’d only have to reach up to touch them…
The night sky as the sun sets… its rays reaching down into the depths of your soul… waves of fire.

DPP_0001Autumn is when I get to start my cook stove again… oh the aroma of burning wood leaves a feeling so comforting. Like being wrapped in an old quilt…  I love my cook stove.  The memories of days gone by as a child, spending time at my dad’s folks in Northern Canada. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing until my young teen years.

I can still close my eyes and imagine the aromas that rose upstairs as grandma was frying  fresh eggs just laid that morning and bacon for breakfast… covered and cozy under her quilts… not really wanting to venture out into the cold… the heat would start to move slowly through the old farm-house upstairs and then I’d jump out of bed and quick get dressed and run downstairs. Everyone else was already up and moving long before I. It was a happy feeling… a cozy, homey feeling that I had there.

Now I have a cook stove of my own and although I only use it in the cold months, I can’t imagine winter without it.

But my heart and my soul belong to the sun and warmth… I live to be in my gardens… to touch the dirt… to breathe deep into my soul the life my gardens gives me.

I am of the same mind as Claude Monet… “I must have flowers, always, and always”…

So today I’ve decided to share, in between my new organization series, an Essay Of My Flowers.

My heart and my soul are happiest in the garden.. my garden of flowers.










Please note that these photographs are owned by me… If you’d like to use them in something, I don’t mind so long as you give me proper credit and direct them here to my site. Thanks…

Happy Day,

Organization Series Day 1: Creating and Maintaining Routines

list_my chalkboard_emailver

I’m all about routines, lists and general organization. I wear several different hats: Wife, mother, writer, organic farmer/ gardener and winter farmers market Manager/ Owner, to name a few 😉

Up until recently I also operated a fifty member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share program on our farm which was a type of co-op. I organized and scheduled several farmers crops along with our own two acres according to our needs. I also attended a weekly farmers market. Our farm had several wholesale restaurant accounts where we sold specialty sausages, eggs, other meat products and produce.

Our farm raised both hogs and poultry for meat and eggs.  We also have an on-farm butcher shop. Cut flowers for bouquets was another branch on our tree.

Not to mention I write two personal blogs, the one you are reading and Wren In The Willows http://wreninthewillows.com/2013/10/28/irony/

I contribute weekly to The Detroit News, The Good Life blog http://blogs.detroitnews.com/thegoodlife/2013/10/17/how-to-incorporate-herbs-into-your-table-decor/#comments

More recently contributing weekly to “Your Home with Karie Engels” http://yourhomewithkarieengels.com/2013/10/24/how-to-create-a-friendship-garden/ and “Farm to Table, Field to Plate.”http://outdoorsexperiencejournal.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/kitchen-gardens-tips-and-ideas-on-how-to-create-your-own/

I also have a new cookbook and gardening book in the works.

I’m currently working on a new Food Co-op project at one of Michigan’s oldest nursery/ greenhouses. Besides the co-op, we’re working at creating a community garden as well as a farmers market there in the next few years.

On top of this and several other things I didn’t mention, I am a mom. My youngest children are six and three years old. They require much of my attention. Encouraging them to help and work along my side is part of the process as well. I couldn’t do all I do without the help of my children.

Being mommy is the most important of my ‘hats’ and it requires the most energy and thought. It would be very easy for me to get side-tracked and neglect them. That is why I do much of my writing and computer work ‘after-hours’.  Knowing my limitations helps to me stay focused and organized. I know where to dry the line and not over-extend myself. I know when to say ‘no’ to a project that just doesn’t fit into my life.

To the point… I have a lot to organize and my time must be scheduled accordingly. I don’t have time to diddle-daddle or fly by the seat of my pants . Every minute is precious and must be used wisely.  I plan on a daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal agenda according to what project is at hand.

Over the next month I’m going to help you get your life organized by teaching you how to set and maintain routines. Routines are the key to success in life and when you have a plan of action written down to visually see, you will succeed!

There are many benefits to creating routines which include keeping yourself organized, scheduled and on track. You’ll be able to create daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal routines that will be geared toward your life and what is happening with you and your family.

Today lets look at the first important element in creating a happy organized life!

Creating and Maintaining Routines

How do I create routines?

*First, think about yourself and your needs.

*Next you’ll make a list.  Get a notepad and write down what you’d like to accomplish in your home over the next week and through the current month.  Remember to start small and don’t worry about trying to organize the list right now, you’ll do that later. Right now just focus on brain storming and write down everything you think of no matter how large or small the task.

*Write down your normal household chores, for example, laundry, cleaning out the fridge, etc. If you do any of these chores on regular days, jot that down too.

*Now make a list of your appointments for the current week and month in your notebook. Include yours, your spouses and your children.

Now that you have all the basics down, you’ll be able to create routines for everyday of the week and organize your time through the year.

The next step is my favorite! P.M.S.~ This is not going to be what you think…and this is for the next day, so keep posted!

How do I maintain my routines?

Like anything else, once things become a habit it’s much more likely that you’ll continue to do them. Routines are no different. By doing your routines on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, they’ll become second nature to you!

I also have my routines for each day of the week written down in a journal. I use to keep it open on the counter during the day so everyone could see it freely, although over the years I’ve drifted from this simply because they really have become habits.

Until then, here is a sample of my Morning routine.


“She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household…” Proverbs 31:15a

This would be during the school season. I have a different one for our summer schedule.

•5:50am~ Rise and shine with smile and praise in my heart and get the coffee brewing!

•Swish toilet and sink; get a load of laundry together to throw in.

•Brush my teeth; get a quick shower; put lotions on; get dressed.

•Have some quiet time with the Lord and a warm cup of coffee…

•Check email/messages;  send any responses that need done.

•7:00am~ start waking the rest of the clan up… get breakfast going.

•Throw load of laundry in.

•7:30am~ everyone at table for breakfast; family devotions

•7:55am- Clearing off table; wash breakfast dishes; switch laundry loads.

•8:10am~ Get children off to school.

  • 9:00 am- Think about my day; make list’s for jobs to be done; check my day planner

•Check menu~ take anything that has to thaw out of the freezer; make sure we have all ingredients for the menu.

Next we’ll look at P.M.S. and how wonderful it is!

If you missed Day 1 follow this link to see the schedule of topic posts!

Happy Day,

New Organization Series


It’s autumn.  My gardening as well as canning season is coming to a halt. It’s not an easy time of year for me… putting away all the things that make me live.

The soil.
The green.
The suns warmth.
The feel of living things.
… I live and breathe my gardens…

Then comes the time I spend putting all the bounty from my gardens ‘up’… precious life source that I feed my family through the cold winter months here in Michigan. Canning, freezing, drying and root cellaring… I love to feed my family.

The house gets pretty neglected starting mid-August through the end of October.  The gardens and their goods take every spare moment of my time. It’s a race… between me and the produce…. and I won!

Now’s the time I begin my fall cleaning, purging and organizing the house. It’s time to regroup, pitch and toss the junk and tidy up what stays. Organization falls into one of my ‘love’ categories… everything has its place and everything in its place.

A couple years back I did another series on organization. I thought I’d do some updates and revisions over the next month.


Here’s a breakdown of the topics I’ll be focusing on through the month of November.

*Creating and Maintaining Routines
*My Journal
*P.M.S.- this is not what you think
*Weekly Schedule at a Glance/ Focused Errand Days
*Menu Planning/ Grocery Lists
*The Walk Through
*Room by Room Cleaning How-to
*The Kitchen
*The Pantry
*The Laundry Room
*The Mud Room/ Back Entry
*The Family Room
*The Dining Room
*The Bedrooms
*The Bathrooms
*The Office
*The Garage
*The Homemakers 10 Commandments

Keep posted for my first post coming tomorrow!
Happy Day,

Lesa’s Apple Pie Recipe

Apple pie photo: Apple Pie apple-pie.jpg

Autumn is such a cozy time of year. I love watching the Canada geese fly overhead listening to their familiar honking as they encourage one another on. The fields of corn and soy beans are brown and ready for the harvesters. My gardens are prepared for their white, winter blankets until I can once again be in them next spring… when the days are longer and the sun is shining warmly down on me.  Apple tree branches are weighed down heavily with their radiant fruit…. and that means pie! These are just a few of my favorite things…


Apples and fall just go hand in hand. My house is filled with wonderful aromas as my cook stove keeps us warm.. I love its woody smell. Scents of autumns comfort foods drifting through the house…  hearty vegetable soup and of course… apple pie!

Yesterday I share the how-to can apple pie filling without a thickener and promised my friend Lesa’s recipe… here it is!

Lesa’s Yummy Apple Pie 
This recipe makes 1 deep dish apple pie.

Apple pie photo: apple pie apple-pie.jpg

1 2-quart jar or 2- 1 quart jars of Lesa’s canned apple pie filling
1 c white sugar
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
OR 1 1/2 tsp. of Penzeigs Apple Pie Seasoning in exchange for the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

2- 9″ prepared pie crusts for a deep dish pie plate
milk to brush crust

Combine in a separate bowl and mix well:
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix first six dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Drain liquid from the canned apples; add apples to the dry mixture, mix well.

3. Pour apple/flour mixture into the prepared pie crust; top with other crust and vent; brush the top of the crust with milk and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is golden and apples are bubbly.

Thanks to my good friend Lesa for sharing her yummy apple pie recipe with all of us here at For Dragonflies And Me.
Happy Day,

Lesa’s Apple Pie Filling: How-to can apples for pie without a thickener


The other day my good friend Lesa came up and I got to help her can two bushel of Northern Spy apples. Lesa cans her pie filling a bit different from I do, and I thought I’d share it for those of you who don’t want a ‘goop’ thickener like me!

Here’s Lesa’s Apple Pie Filling how-to!  Enjoy friends!

Step 1: Wash your apples in a sink of cold water; with a Pampered Chef Apple, Peeler, Corer (APC) or a similar tool, start doing your apples. Once the apple is through the APC, cut the peeled, sliced and cored apple in half, trim any bruised spots and any of the core that may have been missed.

**TIP: Be sure to put the stem end of the apple into the ‘poker’ part of the APC, it seems to work better. Also make sure that the apple is straight.
Here’s the link to Pampered Chef’s site for info on this wonderful and ‘have-to-have’ kitchen gadget! http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_products/catalog/product.jsp?productId=229&categoryCode=CE

DPP_0007Step 2: Make a sugar syrup. Lesa likes a light syrup, but here are the options:
Light = 1 part sugar to 3 parts water
Medium = 2 part sugar to 2 part water
Heavy = 3 part sugar to 1 part water
Put your sugar/water mixture into a large kettle and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes; set aside.

Step 3: Put 1 inch of water in a large kettle and place your apples in till filled. Cook on high for about 10 minutes or until apples are soft but not mushy.

Step 4: Fill your jars with the par-cooked apples. Lesa likes to use 2 quart jars (1/2 gallon) because that’s what her recipe calls for in a pie. You can use 1 quart jars as well.

Step 5: Pour hot syrup over the apples leaving 1/2 inch head space;  insert a butter knife to clear any air bubbles; put more syrup in if needed.

Step 6: Wipe rims of jars, place lid on and put ring on tightly.

Step 7: Water bath 2 quart jars for 25 minutes and regular quarts 20 minutes.

Keep posted tomorrow for Lesa’s Apple Pie recipe!

Happy Day,


Step 3


Step 4


Step 5


Decorating with Gourds and Pumpkins


Fall is a splendid time of year… and even though my beloved flowers are getting tired and faded, there are still many opportunities for decorating and creating a delightful entertaining space.

I love to entertain and decorate for all occasions. Each season has its special ‘natural’ elements that are readily available. We just need to be creative and utilize them!

Here are a few ideas on how to decorate with gourds and pumpkins… some of mine as well as others.


This is my table center piece. The two greenish-orange squash on either side were surprises my little boys found me yesterday behind the barn.

mum_in_pumpkin_emailverUsing a hollowed out pumpkin to place a potted mum or aster in is a quick way to add fast ‘WOW!’ effect.


Incorporating bittersweet and other branches of fall colored leaves, like burning bush is a great accent.


What is your favorite thing about fall? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Happy Fall y’all!

Here are several other photo’s of ideas that ARE NOT MINE.  I did not take these photo’s and I do not own them. I found them all on Facebook and on Pinterest. I tried to give credit where it belonged.  If you are the owner of any of these photo’s and would like me to remove them, please just leave me a comment with which one is yours and I will do so immediately.  If you’d like me to keep it up and simply give you credit with a link, I’d be happy to do that. I have not received permission from anyone to use these. I am not trying to make any monetary gain with them.  Some of these photo’s have the owner’s name on them.

Jean Smith/ For Dragonflies And Me

painted_pumpkins_chalk_paint-1-4 painted_pumpkins_stripe 1239833_420633454703778_449806995_n 1239976_10151884541619533_373741772_n 1238184_10151965103561019_33028480_n 1236578_559293004120137_847064672_n 1235443_666220536729094_983312434_n 1234936_661356623882152_176254337_n 1209342_321325191345460_1547164585_n