U-Pick Fruit Muffins

A week’s vacation in Michigan at the lake was blissfully relaxing.  Meal Planning on Vacation made kitchen work easy, so easy in fact we found time to make breakfast muffins!  After a hard day’s work picking fruit with the kiddies, we hit the mixing bowl and turned out tasty treats.  An overabundance of strawberries directed our fruit of choice, but most berries or stone fruit should substitute wonderfully.  Pick your favorite and whip up a batch of sweet muffins for the ones you love!


    • 2 cups All Purpose Flour

    • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder

    • 1/4 tsp Salt

    • 1/2 cup Sugar

    • 1/2 cup Butter, melted

    • 1 Tbsp Vanilla

    • 1 cup Buttermilk

    • 1 Egg

    • 1 cup Medium Diced Strawberries mixed w 2 Tbsp Sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 and prep your pans (we made mini muffins in silicon pans)

  2. Chop your fruit of choice and mix with 2 tablespoons of sugar

  3. In a medium-large bowl whisk all dry ingredients together.

  4. In a separate bowl (I use a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup

  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture in. Mix until the batter is just moistened.

  6. Gently fold fruit and any juice created into the batter.  Be careful not to overmix.

  7. Bake 20-25 minutes (for regular sized muffins) or until muffins are lightly golden and springy to the touch.

  8. Allow to cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan.

Scary Margarita


The Scary Evolution of the Margarita

Margaritas are a cocktail synonymous with relaxation: lazy days on the beach, pool parties, or a summertime girls’ night out on the town. Invented sometime in the 1930s or ’40s (depending on who you talk to), margaritas hit the scene just before the post-World-War II industrialization of the food system. While original margarita ingredients used to be simple, today’s run-of-the mill versions harbor science-lab-type ingredients that should make you very nervous. “As with anything you eat or drink, no margarita ever rises above the quality of its ingredients,” explains Paul Abercrombie, author of Organic, Shaken and Stirred. “You should use the freshest and highest-quality stuff you can get. Typically, this means going organic.”

Canned Chemical Chaos

This spring, Anheuser-Busch launched the Lime-a-Rita, a blend of Bud Light Lime beer and margarita flavors. It’s a concoction that’s likely to make a true margarita connoisseur…

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Ginger Lemonade

Made this today for our week at the lake! Sure beats the pants off those powdered pouches!  Since my kitchen is tore apart from all the prep I am busy doing today, I’ll let Grandmother’s Musings deliver the recipe that is sure to beat the heat and delight the kiddies 🙂

Grandmother Musings

Refreshing lemonade to make at anytime of the year, but especially to cool off when the temperatures rise.


1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)

1 tbsp chopped, fresh ginger

1 cup water (for simple syrup)

1 cup Lemon Juice

4 cups Water, Cold to dilute


1. Make simple syrup by heating the sugar, adding a tablespoon of chopped, fresh ginger, and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

2. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.

3. Add the juice and the sugar-water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

4. Serve with…

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Eat Fresh, Not Subway.

I came across some interesting info at 100 days of real food.com and could not help but share.  Subway boasts that their food is fresh and eating healthy off the menu is easy.  However, like most food offered for convenience, it’s highly processed.  Do yourself and your family a favor and skip the sandwich chain right up.  There are better options available when you are on the go, try to stay local and explore small deli’s and mom and pop eatery’s. Still not convinced?  Check out these facts:

Strawberry Ricotta Waffles

On the last day of school, I found myself talking with a group of moms while we waiting for our munchinkins to be freed for the summer.  As it happened the topic of food and what to feed the kiddies over vacation came up.  I told the ladies that King Waffle reigned over our breakfast table.  Crowned with fruit, syrup, or even peanut butter; homemade waffles are a cinch to make and a kid pleaser!

Today’s offering for the tummy is also a great step in cutting store bought items out of your freezers.  We all know the leggo my eggo ad campaign and I say that you should leggo any eggo’s.  They’re just junk food served in the morning.      Making waffles at home is deliciously easy and leftovers freeze great for future mornings.  Cut your homemade frozen waffles in half and pop them into the toaster, now that’s a breakfast that’s fast and full of ingredients you can pronounce and colors that come from nature.


½ cup unbleached flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk


  1. Whisk all dry ingredient together in a small bowl
  2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add vanilla
  3. Slowly add the melted, room temperature butter to eggs
  4. Stir in buttermilk
  5. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. 
  6. Do not overmix, you just want to pull the batter together, it can still be clumpy.
  7. Spoon into hot waffle iron
  8. Accept morning applause  😉

My waffle recipe is a variation of Alton Brown’s.  I miss Good Eats!  I cut his measurement by half and get about 5-6 waffles per batch

Strawberry Ricotta Filling

There isn’t too much to this and I don’t really have measurements.  Usually I just combine sliced strawberries macerated in sugar with ricotta.  Let sit a few moments to gel together, then spread onto waffle halves. Simple yet tasty!


Southwestern Chicken Chili

Busy weeknights are a common place occurrence at the Jennirific house.  Sometimes dinner makes it into the crockpot in the morning and sometimes it just doesn’t.  I am sure we all have those days. 
This recipe is a go to for me because it turns out wonderfully no matter which method I am able to apply to it, crockpot or stove top.  Packed with veggies, protein, and fiber this meal will keep the family fueled through all their activities!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and chopped (you may increase amount to taste)
  • 2 medium chopped red, green, and/or yellow bell pepper
  • 2 15- to 15-1/2 ounce cans Great Northern, pinto, or cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pot of Pot of Gold Bouillion
  • 1 lb chopped cooked chicken* (see note below)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped.
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
  • Broken tortilla chips (optional)


  1. Add olive oil to a 4 quart or larger stock pan along with chopped onions.
  2. Sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and jalapeno pepper and continue to sauté, 1 minute
  4. Add bell pepper, beans, cumin, salt, chicken stock, and bouillon.
  5. Allow to come to boil
  6. Add chicken, cover, and reduce heat to a low simmer.
  7. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  If chili seems too thin to your taste, remove lid while cooking to help reduce the liquid and thicken the chili.  The chili will continue to thicken after cooking, do not reduce all liquid.
  8. Stir in about ½ cup of chopped cilantro
  9. Serve, garnish with cheese and chips if desired.

Finished cooking and ready to serve!


  • In a slow cooker stir together the drained beans, chicken, onion, sweet pepper, jalapeno pepper, garlic, cumin and salt. Stir in chicken broth.
  • Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. If desired, top each serving with shredded cheese and broken tortilla chips.

*A note regarding adding cooked meat into recipes.
For this recipe I usually cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the same pot I will cook the chili in.  This allows the chili to soak up all the flavors left over from the cooked chicken.  That being said, you have to season the meat before cooking.  A simple sprinkle of black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder will give your meat a great flavor and ensure the dish you are adding it to also has a great taste.  Meat without seasoning equals bland food as an end result. 

Seed Selection – Sow What?

We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme about Mary and her gardening prowess.  What really made that garden grow though was diversity.  In today’s plant kingdom, diversity is losing the war being constantly waged upon it.  More and more we see that fields rolling with amber waves of grain, corn, or beans that have been planted from a relatively small and homogenized list of seeds available from catalogs or large distributors.  This affects the whole scale of agriculture reaching from the large corporate owned farms to the backyard gardener.  With so few options being utilized we’re giving up regionally-developed differences in plant DNA and losing out on what makes eating, and growing, local so unique.

“Why is where we buy our seeds an important topic?  We eat and grow plenty of crops; I see everything in my grocery produce department.  Isn’t that diversity?”

Some have asked me questions of this ilk when I climb off my soapbox and engage in real conversations regarding food.  I tell them how genetic diversity protects our food supply, often using The Great French Wine Blightas a prime example. In today’s modern seed market mostly what is found is Hybrid Seeds.  They have been bred with an emphasis on yield at the expense of hardiness, resistance, and inability for farmers to save seeds to be replanted next season.  Reliance on these seeds also enforces the use of chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides and requires lots of water often times leading to irrigation systems that do harm to the land.   

This National Geographic infographic by John Tomanio is staggering. Using the metaphor of a tree, it charts the loss of U.S. seed variety from 1903 to 1983. And what you see is that we’ve lost about 93% of our unique seed strands behind some of the most popular produce. No strong root system for this tree.

Heirloom seeds, sometimes referred to as open pollinated seeds, are genetically diverse and have been handed down throughout generations.  Typically, heirlooms have been developed over time for optimal response to their local climate and soil by virtue of being hand-selected for particular traits.   These varieties produce a plant with better flavors and hardier profile. Growing heirlooms gives farmers and gardeners a role in maintaining the biodiversity of our planet. While hybrid seeds have been bred to resist particular diseases, there are occasionally threats that could possibly wipe out entire crops when a new disease arrives, due to the lack of diversity in varieties commonly planted. Every time an heirloom seed is planted, that seed stock is regenerated, maintaining that gene pool with its own taste, growth habits, and resistance to disease and insect pests.  The renewed effort by many gardeners’s to keep heirloom seeds alive is a vital tradition that hopefully will continue to grow not just in the U.S. but worldwide.

The Bird is the Word – Brined Grilled Chicken

Chicken dinners have been gracing tables for centuries, usually as a luxury or to mark special occasions. I’ve heard tales of proposals of marrige being made after a hearty roast chicken meal or grisly stories of eating an old feathered friend of the yard when their glory days had past.
Today, chicken is a everyday food enjoyed by the masses and we serve it in a multitude of styles. In short, we take it for granted and often deny the attention to details that a great bird deserves.  Let’s take the time and treat chicken like royalty today.  The results might just win you hearts and admirers!


  • 1 3-4 lb whole chicken
  • ½ gallon of water
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp crushed peppercorns
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of garlic, sliced on the bottom to expose cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar


  1. Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to simmer to dissolve salt and sugar.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  (You could also use your crockpot for this step)
  2. Add chicken to brine in large pot (or removable crock), weighing down with a plate over it if necessary to keep submerged in liquid OR combine brine and chicken in a 2 gallon freezer bag and refridgerate. (A gallon bag may work depending on the size of your chicken)
  3. Brine chicken for at least 12 hours, but no longer than 48 hours.
  4. Preheat/Start the grill.
  5. Remove from brine and place chicken on a v-rack with a roasting pan under it.
  6. Add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of the brine mixture to the roasting pan.
  7. Cover pan tightly with foil, cook for roughly an hour at high heat.  Check occasionally, adding water if needed, rotating bird, or moving pan to adjust for hot spots on grill.
  8. Cook the last 15-20 minutes with foil removed in order to achieve a nice golden skin.
  9. Remove from grill and allow chicken to rest uncovered for 5 minutes.
  10. Carve and enjoy!

Other methods of cooking can be in a preheated 450° oven following the grilling instructions OR in the crockpot on high for 4-6 hours with NO liquid added, just the chicken.  Don’t let that chicken carcass go to waste either!  You can store it in a sealed bag in the freeze and use it to make Stock from Scratch!

Pizza Minus the Box

When I was diagnosed with a food allergy to tomatoes, I thought my life would never include pizza again.  It was a sad day in the jennirific world, but luckily it was a short lived break up.  Discovering a wide variety of ways to concoct alternative pizza creations impossible to eat from a box put Pizza Night right back in the weekly rotation! 

To get the Jennirific Pizza Party rolling, let’s start with the all important crust. This dough acts as a vehicle to the flavors of the toppings; great dough equals a great slice. If you are super cool and have a stand mixer, please utilize it and know the whole time that I am green with envy 😉 


  • 1 Tbsp Dry Active Yeast
  • 1 Tsp Sugar
  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • 3 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tsp Olive Oil



In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Place the dough blade on your food processor. Add Flour and Salt and pulse a few times to aerate. Slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour with the food processor on and mixing. Allow each addition of the yeast mixture to be fully absorbed before adding more.

Continue processing until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute, then process for 1 minute more.

Coat the inside of a large bowl with the olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
If you wish to freeze the dough, do not allow it to rise. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. When you wish you use your frozen dough, allow to thaw by placing it in a oiled bowl covered with a towel.

Pizza Dough?  Check! Grab a cookie sheet, pizza pan, or any large flat pan you’ve got handy and gently stretch the dough until you achieve the thinness desired. Try not to go super thin, or cheese and toppings may not be able to fully melt before the crust is ready.
Now we’re ready to unleash creativity and make some delicious pizza not available on the menu at the local pizza joint or in the grocery store. Black and Bleu (steak, onion, bleu cheese), Vegetable Primavera, and Spinanch Nut with goat cheese; the combinations are endless.

I just adore grilled pizza, but if you are using an oven preheat it to at least 425°.  Cook crust about 5 mins, then remove from oven and spread toppings.  Cook 15 mins or until bubbly and golden.

Heat your grill to roughly 250°  Using a delicate hand, place your stretched dough on the grill surface.
Cook 1st side until firm rotating if necessary to ensure even cooking, maybe 5 minutes depending on your grill and temperature.
Remove dough and add sauce, toppings of choice, and cheese to grill marked side.
Return to grill and finish cooking until bottom is crisp and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Firecracker Grilled Pizza
BBQ Chicken, Bacon, Pineapple, Carmelized Onions and Fresh Jalapeno

No fancy equipment, no worries.  check out painless pizza making at smitten kitchen and be happy 🙂

Can Free Condensed Soup

Hi, My name is Jennirific and I am a recovering Pinterest Addict. 🙂
Maybe some of you also suffer from countless hours lost to humor, crafts and of course recipes.  Though I love to spark creative ideas in the kitchen by seeing what’s cooking on stovetops across the web, I can’t help but shudder at the vast amounts of “family friendly” dinner ideas that revolve
cream of ______soup.

Stop paying your hard earned grocery dollars on a prettily packaged béchamel sauce. Let’s learn a classic technique and liberate the cupboard from canned soups! You can make a batch up ahead of time and freeze for when life gets hectic or make it fresh and enjoy in your favorite recipes.

The Trifecta of Tastiness!


  • 3 tbsp Butter (real butter, accept no substitutes!)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 cup liquid* see below for flavors


  1. Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.

    How Roux Begins

  2. Add flour and salt and pepper, stirring with a whisk for a few minutes until you get a paste like texture.
  3. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Slowly, a few tablespoons at a time, add the liquid.  A dough like consistancy will emerge.

    Roux after 2 Tbsp of Liquid have been added

  5. Keep adding liquid until all is incorporated and you have a smooth product. 

1 serving equals 1 can of condensed soup.

Now celebrate your victory over cream of whatever soup and enjoy those pinterest recipes!

Straight from the Stovetop, Canless Condensed Soup

*Flavor Notes:

Cream of Chicken:  use 1/2 c Chicken Stock from Scratch and 1/2 c of milk

Cream of Celery: Saute ½ cup chopped celery and 1 tablespoon chopped onion in the melted butter, until vegetables are tender. Then add flour. Use 1 c milk for the liquid.

Cream of Mushroom:  Saute a 3 tbsp of chopped mushrooms with less than a tsp of minced onion(to taste) in butter until tender. Then add flour.  Use 1/2 c of milk and 1/2 c of mushroom stock. (mushrooms stock can be made by simmering mushroom stems and pieces in water OR rehydrating dried mushrooms in water or stock.) Or just use chicken stock.

Cream of Tomato: Use 1 c of Tomato Juice.  Season with celery salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Add tobasco to taste if desired.