Homemade Herb Ranch Dressing (and Croutons!)

Longtime, no post! I have had a few people ask for my dressing recipe so I thought I would share and it was a good excuse to get me to do a blog post.

We are in a milk co-op and I am always trying to use up milk before the next pickup. I started making this dressing in the spring and it has just become a staple in our fridge. A few weeeks ago I was making mashed potatoes and mixed some in and they were delicious.

Homemade Herb Ranch Dressing

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½ cup milk (regular or buttermilk will do!)
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried parsley (sometimes I add a little more for color)
¾ teaspoon of dill weed
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1-3 teaspoons of lemon juice (This is optional. I like it better with it but if I am out , I won’t make a special trip to the store just for it)

Start by whisking the milk, mayo and sour cream. Once the mixture is smooth, add in the spices. If using lemon juice, add in last. Pour into a glass jar to store and chill in the fridge.

This is a recipe that is so versatile. You can add other herbs (fresh or dried) and change up until you find the perfect taste for you. This is so much better and cheaper than store bought dressings. It is like restaurant ranch! You know, the kind you keep asking them to bring more of.

What else makes a salad delicious besides a great dressing?! Croutons, of course! When you have extra bread that needs to be used on hand, croutons are so easy to make!( and much cheaper than store bought) I had bought a bag of Italian baguettes hat needed to be used and decided to turn them into some croutons. Start by cubing your bread into bite size pieces.

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Measure out 2 teaspoons each of garlic powder, dried parsley and Parmesan cheese. Mix in 3-4 teaspoons of olive oil and then toss over bread. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 -20 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn half way through. Once they are cooled, store in an air tight container.

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The homemade ranch and croutons make any salad! Hope you enjoy! DSC_0165

Banana, Walnut & Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love this recipe when I have some very ripe bananas on my hands! It is easy and is another option to my traditional banana bread recipe that I make fairly often3.6993+3.02.  I think the Ghirardelli chocolate chips are a must and wouldn’t recommend substituting! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of bananas mashed (about 2)
  • 3 Tbs. milk (cream or half & half)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup of sugar          
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli semi sweet)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Mix the mashed bananas and the milk together in a bowl.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in another bowl.

Combine the sugar, egg, and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until light.

Add the dry mixture (flour, baking soda, baking powder) alternating with the banana/milk mixture.

Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill a lined muffin tin, filling about ¾ full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes or just until the muffins test done.

Remove immediately from pan and place on wire rack so they don’t continue to cook in muffin tins.

* This recipe makes about 1 ½ dozen

Let me know how they turn out! 

Sara Beth signature

Canning Banana Peppers

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If I ever send my husband to the store to pick something up, 9-10 times he comes back with something pickled. I like picked stuff but he can sit down and eat a whole jar of something as a snack. I was at a neighbor’s yard sale a couple of years ago and she was selling banana peppers so I knew he had to buy some for him. We both loved them so I went back for the recipe. They are super easy and the most time consuming part is the chopping.

Start by cutting all of your banana peppers into rings. Then place in a strainer to rinse off some of the excess seeds.

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Next, stuff your peppers into clean jars and top each jar with 1 tsp canning salt. On the stove, bring 6 cups of water and 6 cups of White Vinegar to a boil. Pour over banana peppers and seal the jars. The hot vinegar/water mixture will cause the jars to seal so you do not need to boil the jars.

If you run out of the water/vinegar mixture just do half and half and bring to a boil. The amount I made was for 9 jars.

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Once you seal them, it is best to keep them in a cool dark place (same with any canning). Enjoy!

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This little booger in the background, makes stuff like this a little harder but he is completely worth it!

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A Precious Pink Lemonade Party

This past weekend we went to the most adorable first birthday! I just have to show you how cute everything was! Anyone that knows Lauren, knows that she can throw a party! There is never a detail forgotten and that was definitely the case with Alexis Kate’s first birthday! It was a beautiful day and everyone had a great time, especially Alexis Kate! 

ImageAs you pulled up to the house they had a cute little lemonade stand and chalkboard. 

ImageImageThey had Alexis Kate’s favorite book, Pinkalicious, for everyone to write her a birthday wish in as you entered the party. 

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ImageThey served a great summer meal~ Pimento Cheese, Chicken Salad, Pasta Salad, Fruit and Chips. For the kids, there were Uncrustables and Pink Lemonade gummies. 

ImageI loved the way she served the fruit and pasta salad in these cute little polka dot cups. 

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ImageOf course they served lemonade to drink! How cute is this bar?! I want one!

ImageLauren had this great area set up where a photographer took the kids pictures in this wire basket with Lemons. Silas loved all of the lemons so they sent a few home with him.( I have enjoyed those in my tea this week :))

ImageAs we left, Lauren had made a basket of “Summer Fun” for each child. They included bubbles, sidewalk chalk and lemonade mix in a bucket with the child’s name on it. 

ImageNow don’t you agree, this is the cutest party ever and no detail was left out! 

Alexis Kate, so many people love you and prayed lots of prayers before you arrived. We look forward to watching you grow! Happy 1st Birthday! 

XOXO,

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Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

If you are looking for the perfect summertime dessert that is quick, easy and refreshing, then you have found it! This is my new go to dessert for the warmer months.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

3 egg yolks

2 Tablespoons of butter , cut up

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 tsp vanilla (use half in the pie and half in the whipped topping)

1 baked pie shell

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 powdered sugar

toasted coconut to garnish

Combine sugar and flour in heavy saucepan. Whisk together milk and  egg yolks. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 3 minutes or until thickened and remove from heat.

Stir in butter and 1 cup of coconut, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Spoon custard into prepared crist and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar and remaining vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Spread over pie filling and top with toasted coconut. Store in refrigerator and enjoy!

 

My mom had a birthday a few weeks ago so my sister-in-law and I planned a little after school party with the grandkids. They requested that I make this pie and it was an event finally getting it to the birthday celebration. I had made one right when I woke up and then as I left to head over to my mom’s, I left it on the counter! The one thing I was supposed to bring, Ugh! So instead of driving 40 minutes home to get the one I already made, I sent Zach to the store to grab a crust. He came back with a graham cracker one. I was like, “Zach, How many times have you eaten this pie!!! It is a regular crust! Go back to Kroger!” So he went and got the right one and then came back and looked and mom had one in her fridge. Bless him for putting up with me but thankfully the pie was finished in time.

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A little after school birthday celebration

 

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Sparkling Pink Lemonade from Trader Joe’s with cute straws

 

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The Birthday Girl

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Granna!

Sara Beth signature

Silas’ Birth Story

ImageIn honor of Silas’ first birthday, I have decided to post his birth story. I wrote it a while back and have debated on whether or not to post but here it goes…

I have had so many thoughts running through my head about writing Silas’ birth story. I never could have imagined what the experience of pregnancy and birth would teach me.  His birth changed me, yes into a mother, but it gave me strength that I didn’t know that I had, it taught me so much about myself and it brought Zach and I closer. It taught me that my body was strong but my God is stronger and that He has complete control of any situation when you have faith in Him.

When I found out I was pregnant, Zach and I began going to the Vanderbilt midwives. I thought that for my first birth, even though we wanted a home birth,  we would go ahead with a hospital birth. When I called to make my first appointment they asked me which midwife I would like to see. I had no idea so I looked on the website and saw a beautiful midwife who happened to have graduated from Texas Tech and since I was born in Lubbock, I picked her. At my first appointment we had a laugh when I told Lauren that because she had only been to Lubbock once since she had gone through an offsite program. At my next appointment, she told me it was her last day because she was moving to Arkansas to open a birthing center. Just like with any practice, you are not guaranteed who will be at your delivery unless you are choosing to have a C-Section or scheduled birth but I was still really bummed that there was no chance of Lauren being there. She just had a sweet and calming spirit which is what I wanted at my birth. Zach and I had gone to a couple’s pregnancy yoga class and everyone was talking about their “Doula.” When it came time for us to introduce ourselves they asked if we had a doula and we had never even heard of one. The more we researched it we knew we wanted and needed one. So when Lauren told us she was leaving, I asked her if there was a doula that she would recommend. She said yes as a matter of fact, she lives really close to you, her name is Gaylea McDougal. ( No doubt in my mind that this was a God thing!) As soon as I left the appointment, I was on the phone trying to contact Gaylea about an interview. She came to my house for lunch the following week and we hit it off. She has a company called Roots Childbirth that focuses on Christian child birthing. My dear friend, Karen Elkins, had given me a book called Supernatural Childbirth when I first found out I was pregnant. Zach and I began reading it and praying daily for a pain free birth and for every system in our little baby’s body. The Lord was blessing us with this baby and we wanted him to be a part of every step of the birth process so we were excited to learn that there were Christ centered childbirth classes.

Silas’ due date wasn’t until May 23rd  and I never thought about him coming before then. I felt great throughout my entire pregnancy (other than being tired my first trimester)  and was thinking I still had a couple of weeks to get things together. On May 9th, I went and got adjusted by my friend Liz Totty, who is a chiropractor. When I got home from dinner I got in bed. At about midnight, I woke up and told Zach that I thought my water broke on the way to the restroom. It really hadn’t but was just the beginning of things starting to happen.  I think getting adjusted helped line everything up for labor.  In our childbirth class, they said the best thing you can do is to try and go to sleep to build up energy for what was ahead.  So I did, (I never have a problem sleeping) I woke up at 7:00 the next morning and started having some mild contractions. I called Gaylea to see if Zach should go on to work, she said yes, just go about your day as normal and that she would come by and check me. I kept working and just stayed calm.  I had been praying that a peace would come over me during labor and delivery like nothing I had ever experienced and it did, I was so calm the whole day. I don’t think I even thought about how I was going to be meeting my baby that same day!

When it comes to medical procedures and hospitals, I have a lot of anxiety so for my labor to not slow down from anxiety, I wanted to be at home as long as possible. When Gaylea came by about 10:30 am she was able to time my contractions and she said that I was in pre labor and for me to text her when I thought she should come back. Shortly after Gaylea left, my mom pulled in the driveway.  She had gotten word that things were starting and that is what mothers do.  She didn’t want me to be here alone and I was glad she was here. She was such a huge help throughout the entire day and evening.  Zach got home and rubbed some kind of essential oil on my feet and it sped up the contractions. At that point, we called Gaylea and told her that I was going to get in the labor tub. From the beginning, our plan was for me to labor at home until I was at about an 8 and then get in the car and drive to Vanderbilt. We had a relaxing area set up on our breezeway where I spent about 4 hours. The water was amazing and took the pressure off of my back. Throughout active labor I was very vocal, not because I was in pain but because of the pressure and just being vocal helped me. At one point I heard an ambulance and thought a neighbor had called because they heard me. When they say the contractions are like waves coming over you, there is no better explanation. I would be laughing one minute and then the contraction would come over me and then release.

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After my mom boiled water for a couple of hours to try and keep the temp up in the tub up, We decided it was time for me to get out. At that point, the pressure on my back was pretty intense and I  knew that I was not going to get in the car for 40 minutes to get to Vanderbilt. We went in the bedroom and Zach put counter pressure on my back during each contraction.  Gaylea called Jessica, who was our childbirth instructor, to invite her to be there with us and be an extra set of hands. Jessica and Gaylea are both women of God and continually spoke positive words and prayers over us as I labored. Between Gaylea and Jessica, Zach and my mom and dad I couldn’t have asked for a better support group.

I definitely did some unnecessary pushing at first because once it was time, it was a completely different feeling. At one point Gaylea checked me and thought she was seeing an ear instead of the crown of his head. At that point, we started talking about a transfer to the closest hospital. Zach and I went into another room and prayed and Gaylea figured out that Silas was in Military presentation.When we came back to the bed room things just started happening and we were able to stay put. (Note: Military presentation is when the baby is coming out with their chin raised instead of their head tucked)

Throughout labor, I just kept reciting  Mark 11: 22 in my mind.  The whole night was full of words, prayers and confirmations.

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The room was filled with tears and praise. I remember hearing Jessica’s voice just saying “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Father.” The Lord reminds us in Matthew 18:20 that wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there with them” and He was there bringing forth life. I have heard that once you experience birth and see the miracle of life, it is hard to deny that there is a God.

The feeling of them placing Silas’ body on my chest was indescribable. What we had been waiting, praying and working towards was finally here! A few minutes after he was born, I  did have some bleeding so we transferred to the local hospital which was ok because we were able to meet with a lactation consultant and get some rest. The whole experience of several firemen and medics at our house just made the night more eventful. (That is a whole other story!)

When we woke up the next morning Gaylea and Jessica had both posted on Facebook about Silas’ birth.. They are both writers and I love how they put Silas’ birth into words.  I have been so blessed by them and especially having them there for Silas’ birth.

“Oh night divine, brimming with miracles … Birth brought me to my knees again! I was invited by one of my dearest friends, Gaylea, to assist in the homebirth of my Alpha students, Sara Beth and Zach. Their home was a sanctuary of peace and their hope was fixed on God as they surrendered to his way… And WOW, did he show off?! Welcome to the world, sweet baby Silas! Your mommy is brave beyond measure, your daddy is tender to the core and your home overflows with love! You are blessed! And so am I for having witnessed your first breath and cry… What a way to ring in the 2nd birthday of my beautiful, Eve Amelie! I was flooded with remembrance of her journey to my arms as I watched Sara Beth courageously open to receive Silas!” – Jessica

“I have attempted several times this morning to pen the thoughts that are dancing in my heart after the amazing birth experience that I witnessed last night, but every time I sit down to type, tears fill my eyes, mercy fills my heart and I am too caught up in humility for expression… I find God most often in the empty spaces in my life. The space between the flowers. The silence between the verses. The breath between the contractions. The confusion before the understanding…and last night, so much was revealed to me in the silence and the empty space of waiting. My mentor, Kathy Pitt Williams, told me recently, “it’s not about the learning, it’s about the listening.” I assumed at the time she meant listening to the mom, but last night, as things started to quickly go differently that I had planned (home birth instead of hospital, military presentation that totally threw me for a loop, and silently wrestling with my own fears and limitations of my flesh and skill set) I realized quickly I had to turn off my brain and listen to the voice of God. And boy did he show up and show off! By listening to Him, I was free to really SEE what was in front of me. The tenderness of a husband’s eyes attending to his wife’s every need, the strength of a mother protecting her son at all costs, through her own sacrifice and surrender, the precious spirit of adoring grandparents inviting peace and serenity into the home, the love and wisdom of sweet friends willing to help me sort stuff out when most people have been asleep for hours, and the power of God, ushering forth life in His timing, His environment and even His presentation… Last night, things didn’t go as I planned. Thanks be to GOD!” – Gaylea

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Gaylea and Jessica

After Silas’ birth I was finishing up the Ina May Gaskins book, Birth Stories and I came across this and it basically summed up what I was feeling about the experience of natural childbirth.

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And trust me, I completely understand that natural childbirth it is not for everyone and every birth does not go as planned but I just wanted to share my experience!

 

 

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A Vintage Baby Shower

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This past weekend I helped host a baby shower for one of my closest friends. She loves vintage so we decided to go with a vintage theme.  Her aunt opened her home and did an amazing job decorating with family heirlooms. All around her house she had little groupings of vintage baby clothes and toys.

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With each grouping she had a picture of whose item it was and how old it was. There were lots of family members in attendance so I know it made it extra special to have a personal connection.

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Kendall’s aunt had this beautiful antique photo album that she added a few maternity pictures of Kendall for everyone to see.

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The shower was at 10:30 so we served brunch. Then menu was breakfast casserole, hash brown casserole, fresh fruit, assorted muffins and fruit tea (served in Mason jars with paper straws). I loved how the serving table was set with a beautiful arrangement of long stem white roses.

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To greet the guests, we used my chalkboard and old Pergo stroller.

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As a favor for the guests, Vickie made these cute brown paper bags that included a packet of seeds. I loved the saying she put on them.  “When these seeds began to grow we’ll welcome the arrival of Baby Marlow”

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As the guest book, we used a children’s book and had everyone pick a page and write to Baby Marlow.

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One of the other hostesses, Danielle, made the invitations. They fit so perfectly with the whole look of the shower!

Invite to party

Kendall and I have been friends since we were in elementary school and it is hard to believe that we are already to this season of our lives. Kendall is going to be a great Mommy and we all can’t wait to meet Baby Marlow.

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The hostesses (minus Danielle)  with Kendall

 

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