Shepherd's Pie

As an adult, I have come to realize that mom's Shepherd's Pie is not like all the others. I have tried some of the others. They don't even come close. Of course, I have modified it a bit and added my own fancy touches to it. But I credit my mom with the best meat and tater pie on the planet.

First, you gotta start with the meatloaf. I like it two different ways. Depending on my mood I will go with Mexican or Italian. 

Mexican Meatloaf
1-1/2 pounds ground beef (grassfed is best)
1-1/2 cups whole oats
1 tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup salsa
2 eggs (from backyard hens is best)

Italian Meatloaf
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
1 T Italian Seasoning
1/2 cup diced onion
2 eggs
1 can tomato sauce

Combine all the ingredients and place in a 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 for 25 min until meat is no longer pink.

When meat is cooked, add 1 pound fresh cooked green beans on top. Here is a great recipe that we love to add. Or you could use unseasoned steamed beans.

While meat is cooking, peel and dice 8 medium potatoes. Boil until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes with a bit of butter and splash of cream. Season with salt and  pepper. Layer the mashed taters on top of the green beans.

Then top with cheddar cheese for the Mexican casserole and a blend of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesean for the Italian.


Return to the oven and bake at 350 for 20 more minutes until the cheese is melted and the whole dish is warm. Then turn on the broiler and toast the cheese for 3-5 min until golden bubbly.

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Orange Creamsicles: No Sugar Added

When I was a kid, we would have ice cream parties at school. The choices were always a fudgesicle or an orange creamsicle. Strange as it seems, I often chose orange over chocolate. I have never forgotten that creamy vanilla ice cream covered in orange bliss. Here is a version that takes me back...although it is sugar free and ice cream free, so not exactly the same.

 4 cups freshly Squeezed orange juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 T Collagen Hydrolysate gelatin (optional)
4 drops Orange Essential oil.
Mix all ingredients together, pour into mold of choice and freeze into pops.

The result is a sweet treat filled with immune boosting vitamin C and protein filled gelatin! Adding cream (fat) and protein (gelatin) to your fresh juice will keep your blood sugar from shooting through the roof. Yea! Another plug for cream.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you order through them, I get a portion of the proceeds. This helps me out when I am experimenting in the kitchen and mess up with expensive ingredients.   I thank you for your support!


Dry Shampoo Recipe and Instructions

I know this is gonna sound crazy. There is absolutely no scientific data to back this up. But I am 100% certain that in the last 6 months, I have not added a new gray hair to my head! No, my stress level has not decreased. But, I have not had highlights done in 8-10 months and it is hardly noticeable
 Well, maybe it is, but if anyone is saying so behind my back, I can't hear them.
I attribute it to one thing: less hair washing. Crazy? Maybe. But I haven't changed much else in my life. I used to be a wash my hair every day kind of gal. And not with gentle, organic cleaners either. Since learning the damage that can be caused to my inners by what I put on my outers, I have significantly cut back on hair washing. Plus, I take my vitamins.

So, yea. I have nice hair. With--I am really not kidding here-- less gray. But I also have an oily mess to deal with by day 2! Her is my trick to help keep the oil at bay in between washings.

Dry Shampoo

1/3 cup Epson salts
1 T arrowroot or cornstarch
1/4 tsp-1 T of cocoa powder (less if lighter hair, more if dark)
6 drops lemon or rosemary essential oils or a combo of both.

Put the Epson salts in a spice grinder and pulverize to a soft powder. Add the other ingredients and pulse until well combined. Store in an airtight container.

To apply, use a cosmetic brush and add a light layer along roots of DRY hair. I am careful to go around my ears as well, a really oily spot for me. Let it sit to absorb the oil for a minute or two (the longer you let it sit, the better.) Then comb it over the sink or bathtub and if needed, run a blow dryer on it for a few seconds.

 If you then find that static electricity gives you more height than Madonna in the 80's, reach for static's worst nemesis: Tin Foil!

I used to use fabric softener sheets to tame wild static hair. For a non toxic remedy, cut off a square of tin foil and run it through your luscious locks to smooth them. Use it again and again. Cool trick, huh? How do you think it would work in the dryer?? Hold that thought....

*Shampooing tip of the day: (really, how many hair washing tips does one need in a day?) For a chemical free lather, use this! (affiliate link)
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Real Food Fridays

Hello and Welcome to REAL Food Friday! 
We have a very special party today with a GIVEAWAY!

This week we are inviting you to share your Organic Gardening posts!  Homegrown is the best organic, pesticide-free and non-GMO food source.
Mary's Heirloom Seeds
To make your organic gardening experience even better, our giveaway is from
 Mary's Heirloom Seeds!
Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge.   
Mary's Seeds are open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid, non-patented,  untreated, heirloom garden seeds.
Seed Orders placed Monday-Thursday are shipped within 24 hours, except for holidays.

Mary's Heirloom Seeds is owned and operated by Mary and her husband Doc.  "Our goal is to educate people about growing their own food and the benefits of growing Heirloom seeds.  We started Mary's Heirloom Seeds to offer friends, family and communities a trusted source for non-GMO seeds." 

This giveaway includes:
Family Garden Pack and the "Wild about Wildflowers" seed combo packs!

 A great family or market garden pack. A variety of heavy producing seeds.  Includes One packet of each: Pink Oxheart Tomato, Cal Wonder Bell Pepper, Golden Crookneck Squash, Crenshaw Melon, Calabrese Broccoli, German Giant Radish, Anaheim Pepper, Detroit Dark Red Beet, Marketmore Cucumber, New Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, Little Gem Lettuce.   Wildflowers include: Bachelor Button, Butterfly Garden, Lupine Arroyo Blue, Marigold, Nasturtium, Lemon Queen Sunflower
That's $43 worth of seeds!  We can't put a price on Food security...
Welcome to Real Food Fridays! A place to link up real food recipes and natural living posts. If you share a recipe, please keep in mind that the purpose of this link up is to encourage and help those who want to eat real, living foods. So, no Cool Whip allowed!! Recipes should contain foods found in nature. Butter, not margarine. Whipping cream, not non-dairy substitute. Turkey, not to-furky...you get the idea. Help us all find nourishing recipes for our families with ingredients we can pronounce. Feel free to link up below.

We're your hosts
Joyce @ It's Your Life
Lydia @ Lydia's Flexitarian Kitchen 
me...Mary @ Back to the Basics and Mary's Kitchen
Deb @ Kneaded Creations 
Janine @ My Lamp is Full 
Also, please welcome Marla @ Organic4 Greenlivings 

Mary’s Kitchen  
If you're interested in co-hosting let us know! 
You can email Mary at mari_backtonature@yahoo.com

Each host chooses their own features so be sure to hop around and see if you were featured.  There were SO MANY amazing links last week it was tough choosing.

My Features:
Browned Butter Chocolates from Raia's Recipes! The only thing better than butter is browned butter!

Sweetheart Mousse Cups from Easy Life, Meal and Party Planning! The only thing better than butter is Cream.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link up your Real Food posts!  Processed and "junk food" posts will be deleted.
The party runs from Thursday at 7pm EST through Monday at Noon.
Please follow your hosts and consider adding the Real Food Friday button.


Six Power Smoothies with Vegetables!

I have been involved in a challenge this month to get a vegetable into every breakfast. Not really easy for me unless I want to eat eggs and salsa everyday...which I do not. So, I have been experimenting with adding veggies to my smoothies each day. Wow! I have come up with some winners.

 I also add a scoop of  protein powder to each one. That is of course optional, but well worth it. If it is from peas, it should be considered a veggie too, right? Some folks have a hard time with raw spinach on the intestines. If such is the case with you, substitute avocado instead. You will never know it is there...well, except it makes everything green!! Here are my six favorite ways to add vegetables to your breakfast. I almost always add a drop of  essential oil too, because every smoothie is better with orange, or grapefruit, or lemon, or ginger, or cinnamon, or lime.

Green Strawberry Pina Colada:
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh pineapple
5 large strawberries
1 handful of spinach
1 T gelatin (protein)
3 pitted and soaked dates or 1/2 ripe banana
1/4 cup chia gel*
1 egg (from backyard chickens...if desired)
Ice if desired
Blend it all until smooth and creamy.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1/2 cup pumpkin or sweet potato
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 T gelatin (protein)
1/4 cup raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia gel *
2-3 tsp real maple syrup or 2 pitted and soaked dates
1 egg (from backyard chickens...if desired)
Ice if desired
blend until smooth and creamy.

Avocado Smoothie
1 ripe avocado
1 cup milk of choice
1/4 cup chia gel*
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 a ripe banana
1 T gelatin (protein)
1 egg (from backyard chickens...if desired)
Blend until it is smooth and creamy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 cup milk of choice
1 ripe banana
2 T peanut butter or 1/4 cup raw peanuts
2 T Cocoa Powder
3 dates, pitted and soaked
1 handful of spinach or flesh of one ripe avocado
1 T gelatin (protein)
1 egg (from backyard chickens... if desired)
Blend until smooth and creamy.

Orange Creamsicle Refrigerator Smoothie
2 cups freshly squeezed orange/carrot juice
1/4 Cup chia seeds
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or coconut cream
1 T gelatin
Add all the ingredients to a mason jar. Put the lid on and shake.
Let sit in the fridge overnight. Drink up in the morning! This one is so refreshing!

Raspberry Coconut Cream Smoothie
1 can coconut milk
1 cup frozen organic raspberries
3 T chia seeds (ground)
1/4 cup whole oats
1 dash nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. For a fun twist, add a drop of lime! Here I am counting chia seeds as the vegetable. 3 T equal one serving of veggies. They give this a bit of a nutty flavor. This is not a sweet smoothie. Add stevia to sweeten if desired. I like it just the way it is.

*To make chia gel, soak 3 T of chia seed in 1 cup of water overnight in the refrigerator. Add to smoothies, pancakes, muffins, or fruit.

Where to find: (affiliate links)

Organic Chia Seeds
Great Lakes Gelatin
Organic Coconut Milk Unsweetened

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Sweet Potato Fajitas

I am feeling sad today. I am out of sweet potatoes. That is a sentence that shocks even me. I am a self-proclaimed sweet potato hater. But I can join the throng of folks who say, if you hate them, you never cooked them right. (Okay, so maybe I am the only one who ever actually said that.) I am a sweet potato lover now.

It all began with Smash Brother's sweet potato fries covered in rosemary sauce.  I thought, hey, how did sweet potatoes become so good?  That progressed to this Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding, and that gave me courage to try out an idea. I saw a post about sweet potato nachos. Blasphemy? Maybe. But I whipped some up with some of my own delicious additions and here is what I came up with. I have had them 4 times this week. Sometimes with meat, sometimes without. But now, they are gone. So, that means, no more lunch fajitas for me this week. I will look forward to next week!

Sweet Potato Fajitas
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 T coconut oil
1 T butter
1 tsp taco seasoning
1/2 lime
(Cooked diced chicken, ground beef, or roast: Optional)
1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese
Bake the potatoes at 350 for 15-20 min until soft. Heat the oils in a cast iron pan and throw in the onions and peppers. Add the softened "chips" and sauté with the veggies until all are crispy and caramelized. If you are adding meat, throw that in too. I like it both ways. Squeeze the lime on it and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Then add the cheese at the end and allow it to melt.
Transfer to a plate and top with:
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • guacamole
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
I have had tried it just about every way this week, and my favorite was topped with ground beef, wrapped in a soft tortilla.  But the vegetarian way is splendid!
*Serves one.
Note to self: plant sweet potatoes this year!!
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A Lamp Full: Obedience

Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son love all of God's children no matter what they choose to do or what they become. The Savior paid the price of all sins, no matter how heinous.
Henry B. Eyring
Think of your own children, your spouse. They do things on occasion that anger us, disappoint us, scare us. But do we ever stop loving them? Never! Nor does your Father who is in Heaven.

Let me state again, emphatically. Nothing we do will lessen the love our Father in Heaven has for us. We are his children and it is amazing to thing that he loves us with a more perfect love than even the love we have for our children.
The Lord requires but one thing of His children. And he does not make His love conditional upon that requirement. But our happiness and peace are most definitely dependent upon it. The lord asks for our obedience. Obedience to His commandments. Obedience to His servants. Obedience to the teachings in the scriptures. It is our honor and privilege to obey. It is our right, because of agency, to disobey. He will not, can not force us. It is entirely our choice, and even our greatest challenge here in mortality. But make no mistake, if we choose not to obey, He still continues to love us. He loves the drug addict, the porn star, the abuser, the abused. The sick, the hopeless, the apathetic, the gossip.
He loves us all.
But just as we can not reward our children for their bad behavior, the Lord, according to the law of justice can not reward us. He wants to. He has enough for all of us. Enough love and enough blessings. He sits hoping, pleading for us to come unto Him. To be obedient and faithful and trusting. Oh the pain He must feel, just like I feel for my child or spouse or brother or sister when their choices bring them sorrow. For really, is there anything we do that does not have a consequence?
From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to the causes we support. All of our actions have a consequence and I am hard pressed to find an action of mine that does not cause a reaction in someone else on this wonderful, wide earth. Yes,  Every action we ever perform has a consequence for good or bad. Most importantly, every choice we make to be disobedient affects us and our ability to have the greatest joy in this life and eternal life to come.

God did not send us here just to survive. He sent us here to thrive! But we can not thrive if we shun obedience to His commandments. I ache for those described here by Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

  I have watched men filled with potential and grace disengage from the challenging work of building the kingdom of God because they had failed a time or two. These were men of promise who could have been exceptional...servants of God. But because they stumbled and became discouraged, they... pursued other but less worthy endeavors.
And thus, they go on, living only a shadow of the life they could have led, never rising to the potential that is their birthright. 
How tragic, how heartbreaking! Some of us do not know what we do not know. The only way we will ever fail is if we stop before we succeed. So don't give up. God sent His Son as a gift, to you, and to me. So that when we forget who we are and what we can become, we can dust ourselves off and try again. When we stumble and fall, we can repent and re-commit to being obedient. 

An old proverb says, the best time to plant a tree
is 20 years ago.The second best time is now.
So, choose to be obedient now!

How can we start today?  
  • If you are not praying,  know the Lord loves you and start today.
  • If you are not nourishing your body so that you are healthy enough to serve, know the Lord loves you and start today.
  • If you are not attending church regularly, know the Lord loves you and start today.
  • If you have stopped reading your scriptures, know that God loves you, and start today!
  • If you have need of repentance, do not be scared to do it. Know that God loves you and start today.
  • Whatever you have done, or not done, know that God loves you and begin today to make yours a life where God can bless you to thrive, not just survive. 
We can not borrow obedience from another. We must have our own lamps full so that we can be richly abundant in this life and blessed to dwell with our Father above in the next. What motivates you to be obedient?

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