If you love to garden then chances are you have zucchini coming out your ears round about now!

Here in the mountains, we are gearing up for a big freeze so everything is getting harvested. I have green tomatoes galore that I will have to box up and store in the basement until they ripen. I also need to hurry and bottle the rest of my beans, dig up the potatoes, and store the butternut squash, among a ton of other tasks.

My counter is completely hidden under a giant mound of zucchini that is getting in the way, so I’m going to tackle that later today.

One of my favorite ways to use excess zucchini is in baked goods. Don’t get me wrong, I love roasted or grilled zucchini as a side dish in the summer but when your kids forget their harvesting duties and you end up with some torpedo sized zucchini why not bake with it instead of letting your hubby use it for target practice? Of course, that’s always fun, too.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Since fresh zucchini only lasts so long, I freeze my extra so I can use it in the winter.

It’s so easy and useful. Here’s how…

Step One: Shred

Wash your zucchini and slice off the ends then get to work shredding. I like to use my food processor with a fine grating disk.

Just FYI, you’re probably going to make a big green mess so be prepared and just go with it.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 2: Strain

Zucchini is surprisingly juicy, which if not strained will leave you with a very mushy end result so the next thing you want to do is strain the shredded zucchini in a colander set over a bowl for a few minutes.

You’ll be so glad you did.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 3: Label

While your straining the shredded zucchini, pull out some quart sized zip-top freezer bags and label them with permanent marker.

I like to use the quart sized because I store 2 cups of zucchini, which is the amount most bread recipes call for. It makes it quick and easy to pull out only as much as I need.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 4: Roll Top and Fill Bags

I think I’ve shared this with you before, but one of the easiest ways to fill a zip-top bag is by rolling the top down. Not only does it help the baggie stand up, but it also keeps the zipper clean and free from food so it seals correctly.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

If you are struggling to fill your bags, another quick tip is to stand the bag up in a mixing bowl or large yogurt container.

This frees up your hands to fill the bag.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 5: Press out the air, flatten, and freeze

After you get them filled, press out the air, then flatten like a pancake, and seal. I like to flatten my bags so they lay nicely in the freezer and don’t take up a ton of space. They also will thaw quicker when you are ready to use the zucchini this winter.

I stack my baggie pancakes up in the freezer and then freeze until solid. After they are good and frozen, I stand them up and sort of file them into a little box in my deep freeze.

Step 6: Make some deliciousness!

When you are hankering for some baked goods, pull out a zucchini pancake or two and let them thaw. After it’s thawed out, I like to strain the shredded zucchini one last time just for good measure. Then it’s ready to use in whatever recipe you’d like!

It works great in breads, muffins, soups, etc.

Hey, speaking of zucchini recipes, I found a really good one last month!

If you love lemon, like me, then you’ve got to try Eat Cake for Dinner’s  Lemon Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze… it is seriously divine!

Honestly, I didn’t even get around to making the glaze because the bread itself was so good. I’m sure that the glaze would take it clear over the top, so next time I’ll make that first before everyone gobbles it up!

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

I’m serious you guys, you have to try it because it is soooooooo good!

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Well, there you have it!

It’s that easy to save some of that prolific garden goodness for the bleak winter months. You’ve totally got this!

 

**While you’re here, what’s your favorite zucchini recipe?**

I am addicted to granola.

I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a granola out there that I wouldn’t love. A few years ago one of my closest friends, KYNDRA, gave me her recipe for Raw Granola and I have been in love ever since!

If peanut butter, coconut, and banana are your thing then this is right up your alley!

{Now, I just have to apologize right now up front! I am not a food photographer or even a decent photographer for that matter, so please don’t judge this awesome granola by my very poor camera skills! Try it out and I swear you’ll love it.}

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

Here’s how… because it’s crazy difficult.

Just kidding, it’s seriously easy.

 

Start by mixing together your oats and coconut in a large bowl.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

Next add the nuts.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

If you have whole almonds, just process them for a bit in your blender or food processor until they are the size you want. Same goes for the banana chips and any other nuts you may want to add.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

The awesome thing about granola is that it is completely customizable to your tastes and what you have on hand. If you want to use pecans instead of almonds, go for it. If you hate bananas replace them with something else like sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, or flax. Maybe you don’t like the way chia seeds get stuck in your teeth? Leave them out. If you’re doing the paleo thing, then try all nuts and no oats.

You get the idea.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

Once you get your dry ingredients to you liking give them a stir and set the bowl aside.

It helps if you have a happy little helper to do the mixing.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

Now mix together the wet ingredients in a blender or separate bowl.

Again, if you don’t like peanut butter supplement with another nut butter. It’s all up to you.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

I like using my blender because it’s already dirty from grinding the nuts and I don’t want to wash more bowls.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry then let your dreamy eyed happy helper do more mixing while you sweep up the mixing mess she left you on the floor.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

Once it’s all incorporated stick it in the fridge until ready to use.

Because this is a raw granola, make sure to store the leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

I love this granola sprinkled over Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey on top. But, it’s also delicious eaten as a cereal with almond milk or as an ice cream topping.

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

 

 

Easy Raw Granola by Gypsy Magpie

SunFIND PRINTABLE RECIPE HERESun

 

My favorite thing about this granola is that it tastes like dessert.

What could be better?

Try it out and then make sure to come back and tell me what you think!

P.S. I just want to point out that I made my first PDF! Thanks to the lovely A TYPICAL ENGLISH HOME for the awesome tutorial! You don’t even know it but you made my day!

This month I have been working hard trying to get a little healthier. Things sort of fell apart for me after my ACCIDENT and I decided on the year marker of that MESS that I deserved to feel good again. I never had a clue how much snapping your clavicle or ripping parts of your body apart would hurt! Or, how long it would take to feel normal again, let alone that your definition of normal changes. The body heals but it is never fully the same, sounds like a metaphor for life, right?
Here are some of my favorite things that have helped me start on my path back to wellness…

Friday Favorites {Gypsy Magpie}

via Backonpointe Tumblr
Star   Since we are paying off medical bills and also trying to save up for yet another round of big medical bills, I don’t have a gym membership. So, I am loving all the free at home workouts that I am finding online right now. My cousin’s friend at CLASSY CLUTTER has a great post that links to 10 great workouts that you can do at home.
I have started collecting workouts I find on my HEALTH board on Pinterest if you’d like more ideas. I am especially loving the Crossfit style ones because some days there just isn’t a ton of time to exercise and these exercises give great results fast! I love that I can use my own body weight and don’t need a ton of equipment to work up a sweat.

Star   When I workout I need music because I feed off the energy of the songs. Did you know that PANDORA has workout stations? {Don’t forget to click the highlighted LINKS to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.}

My favorite Pandora workout stations are:

      Dance Cardio Radio

      Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout

     Country Fitness Radio

     Classic Rock Power Workout

     Yoga Radio

Star   BODYROCK APP: I won’t lie, I do not love the actual app or BodyRock website. It’s just not my style whatsoever. But, I do love their Yoga instructor, Teisha, and the links to her free workouts that I get through the app. I’m still looking for a better app that is more focused on Yoga and Pilates than lifting crazy amounts of weight and wearing teeny amounts of clothes. So, if you find one, please let me know! If you are just trying out yoga, Teisha is great. One time she talked about how some people store stress and emotion in their hips and absolutely blew my mind because I totally do that! My hips have been a constant challenge my entire life. Now I know what a hip opener is and why I need to do them.

Star   That leads into the next one of my favorites, yoga. I never thought that I would enjoy yoga because I am not very good at sitting still and my mind races a hundred miles a minute all day long. I have resisted it for years. All I knew of yoga was what I had seen of some psychedelic gal with a laie on her head in Hawaii on a PBS exercise show. Tripppppppy! When I took a class from a friend of mine last year I was instantly hooked. The feeling of connection to my whole self was amazing. I am slowly gaining strength, have been learning to EXHALE, and it is kind of rad to see my body do things I didn’t know it could. Maybe my ADD and inability to hold still actually makes yoga beneficial for me. It’s good for me to quiet my mind and be grounded.

Star   I’m not sure how I stumbled on it, but I found the cutest girl on Instagram named Lynsey and I have really been inspired with some of the things she does in her life. She lives in Texas {near JUNK GYPSY headquarters, which is completely unfair. Lucky girl!} with her farmer and 5 little chicks. You can find her at FIVE CHICKS AND A FARMER. She recently started another Instagram page where she shares her wellness and natural health ideas. You can find that HERE. She’s got me thinking about all sorts of good stuff and I am learning a lot. Check her out.

Star   Dandy Blend:
Friday Favorites {Gypsy Magpie}
A couple months ago, that same Lynsey shared a photo that peaked my curiosity. She talked about her love of DANDY BLEND and how because of it she kicked her coffee habit. I have a hot cocoa habit…an intense one. Like as in I hated the food on my cruise this fall so I lived off the 24 hour hot chocolate the entire 3 days. Now I crave it. I figured that dandelion root was crazy good for us, so why not give it a shot. It tastes sort of like the Pero my cute nana used to drink when I was growing up and I really like the smell. I can’t drink it straight. I have to add some stevia, cream, and cinnamon or sometimes some sugar free TORANI syrup, but it does hit the spot when I am longing for something hot and comforting to drink on a cold Utah day. It only has 5 calories a serving so I don’t feel that bad adding a little sweetness. The cool thing about it is you can use it in all your recipes that call for coffee. I’m thinking there may be a little tiramisu in my near future! After all, life is a balance. There is room for the fun, calorie laden, decadent stuff, too.

What are you fav healthy things this month?

And, seriously, if you know of a good yoga app that doesn’t involve anybody getting high to follow it, please share with me!

Friday Favorites {Gypsy Magpie}

via Piano Brag Songs
Ah, Friday Favorites, it’s been awhile. There have been so many fun things I have found this last month, but I’m guess I better narrow it down to 3 for today. So, here goes.
Star   I discovered a fun little music website the other day and have been playing my piano ever since. Yes, I have been playing my piano…I think my great-grandma just passed out and fell off her cloud. Don’t worry, she’s a spunky gal, she’ll be fine.
 Friday Favorites {Gypsy Magpie}
via Piano Brag Songs
These two brothers, Jared & Neil Johnson, created the website PIANO BRAG SONGS to get people excited about playing music again. They transpose popular songs that people actually want to play and provide the sheet music as a free download. Fantastic idea!
This website is a great resource and I’m thrilled to have happened upon it. I can only play the easy versions, but hey, I’m playing and that’s a pretty big deal. I’m sure that somewhere in Heaven my little piano granny is absolutely giddy today. Thanks for that, Jared & Neil. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep practicing.
Star   If you love the outdoors and have an iPhone, then you need to get the Oh, Ranger! Park Finder App. “Find the parks nearest you with the activities you want to do…a comprehensive database of every national park, state park and federal public land in America.” They’ve even added 50,000 local parks which is crazy cool.
 Friday Favorites {Gypsy Magpie}
via iTunes
I’m really excited about this app because not only does it tell you where to find parks, it also shows you what activities are available at those parks. Now I can find places to explore and fun things to do even on our last minute out of the blue trips. {I completely adore a spontaneous adventure! It’s that gypsy in me.}
Friday Favorites {Gypsy Magpie}
via iTunes

The only thing I’m not loving about this app is the lack of local parks listed in my area. But, I found a place in the app where you can report a missing park so I guess I better get to work. Other than that, it’s a great app that I am happy with. Oh, and did I mention it is FREE? Yep, gotta love that magic word!

Star   The last thing isn’t exactly a favorite yet, because I’ve never actually held it in my hands or used it…it’s more a little INSTAGRAM crush I have right now.

Friday Favorites {Gypsy Magpie}

via Amazon

Several of my friends are close with the writer and the photographer of a new cookbook called, The Family Flavor: 125 Practical Recipes for the Simple & Delicious, and I stumbled upon their Instagram feeds through them. {Find Whitney Ingram HERE and Sheena Jibson HERE.} I am a sucker for beautiful photos and yummy food so developing a crush on their project was pretty natural. I’ve been drooling over their photos for weeks now anticipating the book release.
The cookbook just became available to buy on AMAZON and I reeeeeeeeeally need it.

Speaking of yummy food, it’s getting late so I better go make my kids some.

*What are you loving lately?*

It seems like life has a way of ramping up the pace without me knowing it. One day I just get overwhelmed by it all and have to take a step back. I know there is not really a way to completely put the brakes on, but there has to be a way to make it slow down.

Happy Home {Gypsy Magpie}

via Mary Engelbreit

This last month or two, I started a little experiment.

I have been trying to find one small happy moment in my day to celebrate.

Some days are naturally full of these little blessings and yet other days it seems I have to mentally and physically stop, take a breath, and create one.

Happy Home {Gypsy Magpie}

Like last night.

After a busy Memorial Day weekend, everyone was cranky and I had to escape. I put the kids to bed early, locked my door, and sank into a hot bubble bath. I may or may not have stayed in there for 2 hours. It was quiet, balanced, and incredibly peaceful. Heaven.

Today that moment came when my kids were soaking wet from playing in the rain and asked the big man to build a fire.

Which led to this…

Happy Home {Gypsy Magpie}

and this…

Happy Home {Gypsy Magpie}

For a moment there was magic.

Happy Home {Gypsy Magpie}

Our home was filled with giggles and sticky faces. We relished it.

Time stood still and we were caught up in a happy home.

Happy Home {Gypsy Magpie}

via Minted

I started posting these little happy home moments on Instagram to remind myself of all the good that happens amidst the daily. It has become something I look forward to.

Guess it goes back to CHOOSING TO SEE THE GOOD STUFF… the experiment was a success.

I firmly believe that we are creators of our own happiness. Nobody else can give it to us. So, when you get swept away in the river of junk life pounds you with, stop, take a breath, and ask yourself what you have done to find joy today. If you can’t think of anything, it’s time to start creating.

Let’s find the extraordinary in the every day.

P.S. Sliced bananas on s’mores… yum! Who knew?

 **What was your happy today?**

 

I’ve been trying to cut out canned cream soups this past year. Why? Well, first, because there are a whole lot of ingredients in that can…

INGREDIENTS
CHICKEN STOCK, WATER, VEGETABLE OIL, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, WHEAT FLOUR, CREAM (MILK), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, DEHYDRATED MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, CHICKEN FAT, YEAST EXTRACT, FLAVORING, BETA CAROTENE FOR COLOR, CHICKEN FLAVOR, BUTTER (CREAM [MILK]). Info can be found HERE.

Secondly, because as gas prices have risen, so unfortunately, has the cost of food. Feeding a family of 6 {including a 6’7” man with a bottomless pit or a stomach} gets more and more expensive every year. I’m finding that ditching the convenience foods and making meals from scratch really is a great way to extend your budget, not to mention eat a little healthier. Yes, cream soups aren’t that healthy even made from scratch, but at least the homemade versions doesn’t have MSG, man-made flavorings, and excess salt. So, in regards to health, I feel a little better about it.
The problem with cooking from scratch is it takes a little bit more time to pull out and measure the ingredients. As you already know, I am a horrible planner. I avoid planning like the plague. We just don’t mesh, way too much energy involved! So, needless to say, a lot of times I’m trying to put together a yummy meal in a pinch. Enter the make ahead mix!

I started out trying a mix called MAGIC MIX. I liked the flavor, but I didn’t love that a giant container was taking up valuable real-estate in my fridge. If you don’t mind a big thing in your fridge for months, then try it out. It tastes good and works great. But, because I was running out of space, I decided to go back and try a shelf stable recipe my grandma had given me years ago called SOS Mix.

Homemade SOS Mix {Gypsy Magpie}

All you do is mix 5 ingredients together in a bowl and then store in an labeled airtight container in your pantry. So easy.

Homemade SOS Mix {Gypsy Magpie}

Homemade SOS Mix {Gypsy Magpie}

SOS Mix

Ingredients:

          2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk
          3/4 cup cornstarch
          1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon (regular or low sodium)
          2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
          2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning (optional…but yummy)

Directions:

Mix ingredients together in large bowl. Store in an airtight container. Makes equivalent of 9 cans of cream soup.
To make cream soup:
          Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1 1/4 cups of cold water.
          Cook and stir over the stove or in microwave until thickened.
          Add thickened mixture to recipe as you would a regular can of soup.
You can also add or substitute other dried herbs like basil, thyme, or a little bit of pepper. This is simple, have fun and play around with whatever your family likes.
*To make Cream of Mushroom soup, simply add a 4 ounce can of mushrooms or sautéed fresh mushrooms as part of the water in the recipe above.
*Cheese sauce? Yep, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup shredded cheese after soup mixture has thickened. Stir until cheese melts.
I don’t use this mix for everything, sometimes a recipe just has to have a good old fashioned rue made with real butter, but this mix works great when I’m in a time crunch and hurrying to get a meal on the table. I can now cook homemade macaroni and cheese just as fast as I can make up the orange kind in the blue box. Pretty handy! Oh, almost forgot, it’s fat free which makes me happy!{However, there is cornstarch in it, which is a highly processed ingredient… I’m not sure if you could substitute flour or arrowroot powder. Maybe? Could be worth a try if the thought of using cornstarch bothers you. Please let me know if you do!}
Here is a link to a downloadable SOS Mix recipe pamphlet from the USU EXTENSION. {Go Aggies!} There are a lot of great ideas of how to use it from Alfredo Sauce to homemade hamburger helper. There are more recipe ideas in this AWESOME BANK OF MIX RECIPES that is also provided by the USU Extension. They know pretty much everything. I go to the Extension looking for answers to all my gardening, cooking, cleaning, and well, practically any question involving the home. They have incredibly knowledgeable staff and walls of resources to choose from. If you are in Utah and can’t find an answer on their WEBSITE, I highly recommend giving one of their offices a visit. You will be so glad you did. {Go Aggies! Wait, did I already say that?}
I’m on a make a mix kick right now, so help a girl out!

**What is your favorite homemade version of something usually bought in a store?**

I heard homemade Taco Seasoning is fantastic. I’m trying that one next!

My grandparents gave me a new cookbook for Christmas called 365 Days of Slow-Cooking by Karen Bellessa Petersen.

Get your copy today!

I have been trying out some to the recipes this week and so far, I’ve had success. I LOVE my slow cooker and use it a ton. {I may or may not have been through 5 in the past 12 1/2 years. Don’t judge me. I’m cursed.} So, this cookbook and accompanying blog, 365 Days of Slow Cooking, is right up my alley.

The recipe I tried a couple days ago was an absolute hit!

Make it and see what you think.

 

CREAMY TORTILLA SOUP

Ingredients:

2 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper (optional)
3 thawed boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed 1 14 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional…but the best part so don’t skip it!)
1 c. chicken broth 1-2 tsp. cumin
1/2 c. picante sauce or salsa 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes in tomato juice 1 c. frozen corn
1 tsp. lime juice tortilla chips
2 garlic cloves, minced grated cheese
1 10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup sour cream

Directions:

1. Place chicken, broth, salsa, tomatoes, lime juice, garlic, cream of chicken soup, red pepper, 1 tsp. cumin, and black beans in slow-cooker.

2. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours.

3. Remove chicken; using two forks, shred the chicken. Put the chicken back in the slow-cooker and add extra cumin (if desired), cilantro, and corn. Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

4. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream.

*Makes 4-6 servings.

You can find this recipe on page 212 of the cookbook, and also HERE on her blog. I think this must have been one of her earlier recipes, so if you go off her blog, know that it is a little different than the book. {Not to mention that the pic in the book is DELICIOUS while the one on the blog isn’t all that tasty… but, we all know I am not the best at photography, so I totally understand! I went through some of my pics from a few months ago, and wow. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Just wow. I’m learning. That’s what matters.}

My review?

Thumbs up Thumbs up. Easy to make, yummy, and my family loved it. We will definitely be making it again.

Any suggestions for replacing the cream of chicken soup?

I’ve been trying to phase that out of my kitchen, but haven’t been super successful yet.