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What You Need to Know about the Colorado Potato Beetle

The Colorado Potato Beetle or potato bug is a garden pest you do not want in your home garden. These potato bugs will decimate your potato crop if left unchecked. If you have Colorado Potato Beetles on your potato plants, you will want to follow this advice to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

colorado potato beetle potato bugs

What is The Colorado Potato Beetle?

The Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa Decemlineata) is a destructive, ten-striped beetle. Its Latin name Decemlineata means ten-lined. It helps to understand the life cycle so here are three different things to look out for in your garden if you think you might have Colorado Potato Beetles.

Adult Colorado Potato Beetles

Adult Beetles are quite large and are yellow with ten white and or black stripes. They are easy to grab and drown, or grab and squish, or grab and feed to your chickens. Chickens think garden bugs make delicious snacks. 

colorado potato beetle eggs

Eggs on the Underneath Side of Leaves

If you see two adult beetles on top of each other, beware. They are mating and the next step will be for the female to lay as many eggs as possible. The eggs are yellow in color and are found on the underneath side of leaves. The eggs hatch into beetle larva which will happily attack your potato field.

Colorado potato beetle

Beetle larva
The larva are reddish bugs with black spots. They start out very small, and get bigger as they grow into adult beetles. As they grow, they eat the leaves of their host plant.

Left unchecked, the Colorado Potato Beetle can be deadly to your potato crop. They also like tomatoes and eggplants so watch for them there, too. Here are a few things I did to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle organically.

How to Kill the Colorado Potato Beetle Organically

I’m having a lot of trouble with bugs in my garden this year. So far, I’m battling the Cucumber Beetle, the Colorado Potato Beetle, and I’m also working on Squash Bugs and Japanese Beetles. It’s a bad, bad year for beetles. 

I really try hard to maintain organic methods in my garden. I don’t want to smell the chemicals, ingest the chemicals, or feed them to my kids. A lot of bugs have also developed resistance to chemicals anyway, and I also don’t want to kill all the good bugs that are working in my favor.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle organically, provided you find them early and strike hard! Here are five things to do get control of Colorado Potato Beetles in your garden. 

  1. Mulch heavily
  2. Kill them when they’re larvae
  3. Plant potatoes as early as possible
  4. Release beneficial insects
  5. Make sure to rotate your crops

Mulch heavily to control Colorado potato beetle

First, cover your potatoes with straw mulch – mulch encourages good bugs to move in – bugs that eat the Colorado Potato Beetle. Straw mulch is also good at covering the potatoes to keep them from turning green, and helps to control moisture too!

colorado potato beetle

Get ’em while they’re larvae

Next, pay attention! I had never heard of the Colorado Potato Beetle until my friend told me that SOMETHING was eating her potatoes. Once she told me that, I took a long, slow walk through my potato plants and found the beetle larvae. I still have not seen an adult Colorado Potato Beetle, but for days I walked through my potatoes and killed every single larvae I could find.

Some were bigger, like the fatter larvae in the pictures above, and some were smaller – like this tiny one pictured here. To kill them, I handpicked them. Some, like this teeny one, I squished between a leaf.

ow to drown colorado potato beetles

Others, I drowned in a bucket of soapy water. Since I didn’t want to touch some of them, I just removed the entire leaf and dropped it all in the water. Then, I made sure to remove the leaf from the bucket, so they would be sure to drown. Aren’t they nasty looking?

Plant potatoes early in the season

Ideally, plant potato plants as early as possible so that they bloom before June. If you do that, some damage from the beetles won’t be enough to impact the yield of your plants. In Zone 5, potatoes can generally be planted by mid April, sometimes even by late March if the ground can be worked. To speed up the planting, cover your ground with plastic to help it warm up.

Rotate your crops & add good bugs

Next year, I will rotate my potato crop at least 200 feet from its current location. I’m also thinking seriously about introducing some parasitic nematodesblank to my garden to help with bug control as well. I have read that they will help with all kinds of garden pests – cucumber beetles, Colorado beetles, and even Japanese beetles! I need these nematodes in my garden for sure.

Colorado potato beetles lay their eggs on the underneath of leaves. They are narrow and yellow and they make delicious ladybug food. So another prevention method is to release ladybugs in your garden!

I haven’t seen a Colorado Potato Beetle or Larvae in a couple of weeks. I am still patrolling daily with eagle eyes to make sure they stay away. I’m pleased that they seemed relatively easy to get rid of and thankful that my friend made me look for them. If they had matured and laid more eggs, I’m sure they would have been much harder to destroy. And who knows, next week, I may be singing a different song, but today, I am happy that I haven’t seen any evidence of these nasty bugs for many days!!


organic potatoes

And look what I harvested from my garden today! Oh yum! I’m looking forward to fried potatoes tonight!

For a more in depth discussion of the Colorado Potato Beetle, head over to the Vegetable Gardener’s website. They discuss other fun methods for destroying this nasty pest.

Fro more gardening and homesteading posts, start here:

The Easiest Way to Grow Potatoes –  No-Dig Method

How to Kill Cucumber Beetles Organically

Where to Find Free Mulch

Companion Plants You Need in Your Garden

Gardening for Beginners Made Easy

Have you dealt with Colorado Potato Beetles? What did you do to kill them?

Chicken Coop Needs for People Who Flunk Chicken Math

If you keep chickens, chances are good that eventually you will flunk chicken math. And when you flunk chicken math, your chicken coop needs change because that’s when the trouble starts. Considering the different type of housing you will need as your flock grows is key to keeping a happy, healthy flock.

bcp wooden chicken coop

*Thank you Better Choice Products for gifting me the 80″ wooden chicken coop to facilitate this post.*

Chicken Coop Needs for People Who Flunk Chicken Math

When I got my first flock of 18 chickens, I never considered all the different needs my chicken coop would eventually serve. In fact, I didn’t begin to understand the ins and outs of chicken keeping until the first 18 chickens turned into 36. That’s when the problems started and I realized just how fluid I needed to be in my chicken coop housing options. 

chicken math

What is chicken math?

You know chicken math, right? If not, here’s how it works. You start an original flock with a few chickens. You’re so proud of your chickens that you start posting on instagram.

Suddenly a whole new world opens before your very eyes. Rainbow eggs?? Gotta get that bird that lays the dark chocolate eggs. Ooooh – olive eggs? Speckled eggs? Must. Have. All. The. Chickens. Eventually your small, manageable flock numbers more chickens than you can count.

Congratulations!! You just flunked chicken math! And just so you know, flunking chicken math means you might eventually flunk bird math of all sorts and end up with guineas, turkeys, geese, ducks, and even peacocks. Around here, we don’t keep up with the Joneses. We keep up with the homestead instagrammers. 

To keep my flock healthy and safe, I have to be flexible with housing. Here are a few of the overflow chicken coop needs I have to manage.

chicken hospital

Four Different Chicken Coop Needs to Keep Your Flock Happy & Healthy

In addition to my main coop where the chickens sleep and lay (most of) their eggs, I have to have overflow options at the ready for any number of issues that arise with my flock.

Before I got this wooden chicken coop from BCP, I had quite the motley collection of containers to house birds. I put to use any and all wire cages, fence panels, and / or dog crates. We have them spread all over our yard for any number of animals who need them. While I’m not able to retire them all, I really do like how my new chicken coop ups my special needs chicken game.

Chicken hospital

Chickens can be very brutal to one another and predator attacks are always possible. If chickens see any red spot on a fellow chicken, they will peck and peck and peck causing great injury to their friend. Sometimes you need to a safe spot to isolate an injured or sick chicken so they can recuperate in peace and quiet.

stubby the little rooster

We currently have a little rooster named Stubby housed in the chicken hospital. Mama chicken injured Stubby because she thought he was too big to snuggle with her little chicks, and then his age group saw blood and pecked him with a vengeance. He’s doing ok, but he needs a safe spot to heal up so the other chickens can’t make his injuries worse.

Chicken grow out shelter

Another very important need when your chicken flock starts to increase, is a safe way to integrate new chickens. Chickens have an established pecking order and when new chickens are added to the mix, that order is thrown off balance.

Chickens can be downright brutal and integrating new birds into a flock takes time. Once chickens are too big for the brooder, they need safe housing apart from your existing flock. If you don’t have a separate area inside your main coop, a completely separate coop is a must have.

Chicken isolation ward for chickens who need AA (attitude adjustment)

Sometimes chickens need AA. Most recently I had two broody mamas who each hatched two chicks. Unfortunately, the two mamas couldn’t get along and started fighting – stepping on chicks and not being careful around the babies. 

To keep everyone safe, I chose one mama to be the chicken mother and locked the other mama up until she decided maybe mothering wasn’t for her.

It took three days in isolation, but she’s back to being a happy chicken now and glad to be relieved of her mothering duties. Some chickens just aren’t natural mothers and she’s happily reintegrated into the flock now after a mini-vacation in the over-flow coop.

Broody hen station

Another type of coop need is a place to keep broody hens safe and secure while they sit on nests to incubate chicks. Unfortunately, my birds seem to pick the post dangerous spots to sit on nests, so being able to relocate them to a safer area is a real plus. 

I haven’t used my new little coop in this manner yet, but I do have a broody hen who I plan to relocate here once my little rooster heals up and I can put him back with his friends. 

After years of complaining that my birds never go broody, so far this year I have had three broody chickens, three broody ducks, and one broody guinea. When it rains it pours!

chicken coop

What you need to know about the 80″ Wooden Chicken Coop from BCP

This little chicken coop came delivered to my door in two boxes. My husband and I assembled it in about an hour using only a cordless drill. Like the mobile raised garden bed I received previously, it assembled easily and hassle-free.

I like that this coop has an enclosed chicken yard, two cozy nesting areas that you can access from the outside, a removable bottom board for easy cleaning, and a little house too. It also has two roosting bars and a little door you can open for venting. 

showing off the size of the bcp wooden chicken coop

We also sealed the chicken coop with an outdoor wood sealer to better protect it from the elements. This is a really important step you can’t skip if you want the coop to last in the weather. In reviews I’ve read about it, I’ve also seen people paint their little coops cute colors, add window boxes, weather vanes etc. They turn out to be pretty cute little coops.

What I like about this chicken coop is that in addition to a dedicated chicken house, it also has a screened in chicken yard. This makes it easy for the chicken to be in or out, which I like a lot.

How big is this wooden chicken coop?

The most common question I’ve seen about this coop is how big is it. Make no mistake – this is a small chicken coop. It really only works for  2-3 full size chickens IF your chickens can also free-range. If they don’t have access to any other area than is protected by the coop, it’s not big enough for that many chickens, in my opinion.

It might also be a great hutch for small bantam chickens or even quail.  We plan to use it for all of the purposes listed above and we’ve also put rabbits in it as well. It makes a super cute rabbit hutch!

I’d love to hear how chicken math works for you! Thanks so much to BCP Products for gifting me with a new wooden chicken coop to help me manage my flock. Please consider their products if you are in the market for a new coop too!

Here are more chicken posts you may like:

How to keep chickens cool in the summer without electricity

Keeping chickens warm in the winter without electricity

How to prepare for mail order chickens

7 Tasty and entertaining food treats for chickens

RV Camping on Our Farm with Harvest Hosts

Becoming a member of Harvest Hosts is a great way to go RV camping on farms, wineries, and other off-the-beaten-path locations. If you’re curious about the Harvest Hosts program, or are a current member of Harvest Hosts wondering about staying on our farm in Eastern Iowa, here’s what you need to know.

oak tree homes harvest hosts

RV Camping on Farms with Harvest Hosts

What is Harvest Hosts? 

Harvest Hosts is a membership camping network that offers free camping to self-contained RVers at participating locations across the US, Canada, and Baja California. After purchasing a membership, you have access to a database listing over 1400 different farms, wineries, and other places you can stay.

In exchange for free camping, RVers are asked to support the businesses during their stay as the locations are not compensated otherwise by the Harvest Hosts program. Some businesses offer homemade products, fresh garden produce, wine etc. 

RV Camping on Our Farm with Harvest Hosts

Welcome to our Hobby Farm in Eastern Iowa

Located in Eastern Iowa just south of I-80, our hobby farm is home to our family of six and our construction company Oak Tree Homes. We can accommodate RVs of any size and offer water and electric hookups as well. Here at the Oak Tree Homes farm we have a large garden, fruit and berry trees, an apiary, and a motley collection of farm animals including sheep, goats, Great Pyrenees dogs, cats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, guineas, and peacocks.

 

For the kids we also have a use-at-your-own-risk ninja warrior course, an un-netted trampoline, zipline, hammock, swing sets and more. We think our sunrises, sunsets, country stars, and fire flies are the best. 

heart of eggs with peacock feathers

How Harvest Hosters Can Support Us

A lot of people who stay here ask how they can support us since we are not a typical Harvest Host. While we would be happy to build you a new home or remodel your RV, we realize that’s not a good fit for most people on vacation driving across the country. 😉

Here are ways you can support us. Depending on availability, we offer:

sky on fire

  • Farm-fresh eggs (ask about our variety pack – perfect for adventurous eaters or homeschooling families!)
  • Seasonal produce from our gardens or orchard
  • Found feathers from our birds
  • Honey produced on the farm
  • If requested in advance, Michelle may be able to bake you a fresh, crusty loaf of homemade sour dough bread


  • Michelle’s book on raising chickens for meatpart tutorial / part cookbook
  • 5″ x 7″ prints taken by Michelle of life on the farm.
  • We also accept donations of IPA, red wine, and/or cash in exchange for the electricity and water we provide.

If you see something you might like to buy, just ask!

American Gothic House

How We Ended up Becoming Harvest Hosts

A lot of people ask us how we came to be on the directory of Harvest Hosts businesses, so here’s the short version. Dear friends came to visit in 2019 on their way out west in their big RV. Having just completed their first Harvest Hosts stay, they told us we would be perfect Harvest Hosts.

A fun night of bonfires, driveway drinking, and 4th of July celebrating followed and we found ourselves on the list. We started getting calls almost the very next day. Ironically, we didn’t think anyone would want to stay here, but turns out we have a very handy location.

As life-long travel addicts ourselves, we know there is great value in stepping into a local community and meeting the people who call it home. We enjoy meeting new people and sharing our Eastern Iowa hobby farm in the middle of no-where surrounded by corn and bean fields. 

crowing rooster

Some things to consider before deciding to stay here

We are located on a dirt road. If you don’t like to get your rig dirty, we might not be the right fit.

Our birds can be quite loud and our dogs sometimes bark all night to protect them. Our rooster Cock-a-Doodle-Drew is happy to give you a wake-up call at the crack of dawn.

The smaller of our two Great Pyrenees dogs can be a little stand-offish to new people. But if you ignore her and pet the fat guy Harry, Nora will also be your best friend.

Sometimes you can hear the trains and the traffic from I-80, but for the most part the animals and kids make the most noise around here.

Finally, we also have busy working bees – something to consider if you are allergic. 

fire ring at oak tree homes

We love to answer your questions, show you around, and get to know you. Please understand that we are a working business and don’t always have time to chit-chat for long during business hours. We also have construction workers / vehicles staging from our barn, so there can be a fair amount of traffic.

Finally, we ask that your kids not enter any buildings without permission. It’s not normally a problem, but we have had overly-excited children in places they should not be.

Thank you for getting to know a little bit about Oak Tree Homes and Eastern Iowa. Feel free to tag Michelle on social media posts. You’ll find her most often on instagram

If you’re not a member of Harvest Hosts, but would like to be, sign up through my affiliate link and save 15%!

Looking for some things to do in Iowa? Here you go!

Visiting the Bridges of Madison County and Winterset

I-80 Trucking Museum at the World’s Largest Truck Stop

Wildcat Den Iowa State Park

American Gothic House Visitor’s Center

Buddy Holly Crash Site

Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home

Camping Tips: Planning Your First Family Camping Trip

Ready to plan your first family camping trip? These camping tips from a veteran camper will help make sure you find a fun spot and have fun in the woods!

class A at yellowstone national park

Camping Tips: How to Plan Your First Camping Trip

Planning your first camping trip is intimidating for the uninitiated. There’s so much equipment, and so many questions. How will you cook dinner? Where will everyone go to the bathroom? Is sleeping on the ground comfortable? The most important part of planning your first camping trip is to remember to have a good time.

A positive attitude makes any camping trip an adventure packed with family bonding, even if it’s not perfect. This guide will get you started on planning and answer some of your questions.

First, you need a destination. The national park system is one of America’s greatest treasures. They have well-maintained campsites with support and resources. Check out this post on visiting Big Bend National Park with kids for some inspiration to pick a destination.

The more activities a park has, the better. Camping is all about slowing down and enjoying nature, but you don’t want anyone bored on their first camping trip. Try local state parks and wilderness parks if there’s not a national park close to you.

teardrop camper at yellowstone national park

With a destination in mind, reserve a campsite. The U.S. National Park system has a directory for finding parks, and there’s one for the state park system. These sites guide you through not only finding a park with campgrounds but also reserving a campsite.

Reservations guarantee there’s a spot for you to pitch your tent when you arrive. If you’re aiming for fun in the woods on a shoestring budget, read this resource on free camping across the country.

Every park has different types of campsites. Some you drive up with a car and set up a tent close by, while others have a cabin or yurt with electricity and plumbing.

Some are for RVs with paved parking and full hookups. You don’t have to be an RV owner to use one for your first camping experience. Check out this post on RV rentals, for an easy way to camp with kids.

yellowstone national park sign

Michelle’s Pro-Tip: One of the best camping tips is to make sure to make those reservations months in advance as national park and state campgrounds fill up very quickly, sometimes within minutes of the reservations system opening.

tent at yellowstone camp ground

What to Buy for Camping

Getting the right gear is the difference between a fun time in the woods, and an uncomfortable or miserable trip. The right gear doesn’t always mean the most expensive either. Rather, it’s getting the right equipment for your needs. Keep in mind for big-ticket items like you can borrow from friends and family before making a big purchase. Buying a tent needs in-depth research, and it may take a few camping trips before you’re certain of what must-have features you need. There are some items worth buying:

  • First aid kit: Include antihistamine creams, anti-nausea medications, and aloe. Since you’ll be away from home, prepare the kit for any injury including bug bites, sunburn, heartburn and nausea.

keen shoes are awesome for camping

  • Outdoor clothing: Dress in layers you don’t mind getting dirty. Always bring rain gear. Use sturdy shoes for hiking (our favorite multi-purpose shoes are from KEEN), and slip-on shoes for the tent and nighttime. A puffer coat packs small for unexpected cold nights. Wear synthetic and moisture-wicking fibers.
  • Toiletries: Even when you’re roughing it, you’ll still need your toothbrush and soap. Some campgrounds have shower facilities, or you can bring a solar shower. Hand sanitizer is great to keep around the campsite.
  • Food and cookware: Plan meals before you go, and how you’ll cook. You can cook over an open fire, or bring a camping stove with you. Plan one-pot meals with packaged snacks you don’t need to prepare. We love our dutch oven with feet for cooking right in the campfire and pie irons are a lot of fun too.
  • Lights: Phone flashlights won’t cut it. Handheld flashlights are fine, but investing in headlamps and lanterns will make your life easier. The great outdoors are dark, and hands-free lighting makes finding the bathroom at night easier.

Make a list and check it twice to make sure everything makes it into the car or RV before you leave. Check out this complete family camping checklist for more items you may need for camping.

kid in hammock at yellowstone what to pack for camping tips

Camping Trip Fun – How to Have a Great Time in the Woods

Once you’ve reserved a campsite and bought the gear you need, set up your tent in your living room or backyard a few times so you’re familiar with the process in a low-stress situation. Time your arrival at the campsite so you’ll set up your tent and get settled while the sun is out. Even if you aced your tent practice runs, you don’t want the added challenge of setting up in the dark on your first night.


The park where you’re camping may have ranger stations, visitors centers, and marked trailheads. Take advantage of those resources for planning camping activities. The park rangers will know the most current information about inclement weather, great views, and water conditions. If there’s a body of water near your campground, inquire about kayak and canoe rentals, and bring your bathing suit for swimming and sunbathing.

There are plenty of activities for fun in the woods once you’re back at your campsite. You can bring corn hole, horseshoes, and lawn bowling to set up at your campsite. Some campgrounds have volleyball and basketball courts, you just have to provide the ball. Make your own frisbee golf course, or recruit neighboring campsites for a game of ultimate frisbee.

Camping is all about slowing down and experiencing nature. Bring a hammock to hang between trees for relaxing and listening to the sounds of the woods. On warm nights you can even sleep in a hammock instead of the tent. Also bring a pair of binoculars with you for observing wildlife or birdwatching. In quiet campgrounds you won’t have to go far to see wildlife.

Depending on the time of year, you might hunt for mushrooms. Use extreme caution and consult with experts, as some mushrooms are deadly and difficult to identify. Bring a star-map. Chances are you’ve never seen night skies like you will while camping.

Don’t worry about boredom while camping, there’s always something new to experience in nature, even if you’re just relaxing in fresh air.

What are you most excited for your first camping trip? Let us know in the comments and stop back to tell us how it went!tear drop camper and tent at moab

This article was written by Ryan Cunningham who runs Beyond The Tent and Survival World. He has always loved the outdoors and getting others to love and appreciate them as well. His favorite place to go camping is the Boundary Waters in Minnesota with his wife and 7 kids. Thank you for your family camping tips, Ryan. The photos are from Michelle’s multi-generational family camping trip to Yellowstone in 2018.

If you liked these camping tips, you might like these posts too:

Things to bring camping for ultimate camping fun!

Printable road trip activities for kids, tweens, and teens

Two Amazing Drives to Take at Custer State Park

Preparing for a Summer Road Trip to Black Hills and Badlands

 

Delicious Sourdough Bread Recipe w Sample Timelines & Tips for Success

This sourdough bread recipe with timelines and tips for success will help you make the most beautiful and delicious sourdough bread in no time at all! If you have been frustrated by complicated sourdough recipes, this one is for you!

sour dough bread

Delicious Sourdough Bread Recipe with Sample Timelines & Tips for Success

When I first started baking sourdough, I was a little overwhelmed with all the steps and the time involved to Bake a delicious loaf of bread. It’s really an art form!

Sourdough doesn’t have to be intimidating though! This post will spell out all the details in an easy to understand manner and give you tried and true tips for success. After baking sourdough bread for over a year and making every single mistake there is to make, you will appreciate the helpful nature of this post.

To make your sourdough bread baking experience easier, I do recommend a few products. Having the right tools just makes the job easier and makes your bread look more beautiful and professional. If you’re new to baking sourdough bread, I don’t recommend buying everything immediately. Bake a few loaves first and make sure you enjoy it.

That said, I would recommend that you get an electric food scale right away as the success of you loaf depends on the accuracy of your measurements. A dutch oven is also very useful to help you get the lovely sourdough crust. Here’s a list of sourdough tools that I recommend if you really start to enjoy baking sourdough.

sourdough supplies

Helpful Supplies that Make this Sourdough Bread Recipe Easier

Digital scale – This is the one item that I recommend you buy before you start to bake sourdough, if you don’t have one. Everything else can wait, but the scale is very important.

Plastic proofing container  – These come in very handy for the initial bread rising stages. You can use any bowl you like, but these containers with lids are very handy.

Dough scraper – If you’re making multiple loaves at once, a dough scraper will come in very handy to slice the dough. I’ve had my scraper for almost as long as I’ve had my mixer (16 years?). It’s very useful for bread baking.

Wooden Spoon or silicone spatula – Using metal is not recommended for sourdough because it reacts with the acid in the starter. Make sure you have wooden or silicone spoons / spatulas on hand.

Banneton Proofing Baskets – Banneton baskets are nice to have, but not necessary. If you like the way the lines look on sourdough breads, these proofing baskets are the way to get them. You can proof your bread in a towel lined bowl though if you won’t care about the lines.

I have four proofing baskets of various shapes and sizes and love them all. If you’re looking for a basket, all you need is the basket and the liner. They’re often sold in kits with a lot of other items (like a lame) but most of those items are cheap gimmicks and not effective.

Bread Lame – This is a razor blade with a handle. If you want to score your bread and make pretty designs you will need some sort of lame. Since holding razor blades makes me nervous, I like the one with the handle.

Baking Stone – You can achieve a nice crusty loaf of bread by baking on stone and creating a faux steam with water in a cast iron skillet. More on that later. 

Parchment Paper – parchment paper comes in handy for lining a dutch oven (which I rarely do) or for cooking on a stone (which I do!). It makes transferring the dough to the oven easier.

Heavy duty mixer – I have been using my BOSCH mixer for over 16 years. It’s an older version of the one linked here, but it is a fabulous mixer. It has a much more powerful motor than another popular stand mixer and is able to knead 5 loaves of bread in 5 minutes. If you’re in the market for a new mixer, I can’t recommend a bosch mixer enough. You don’t have to have a mixer, but I have found that using a mixer makes it really easy!

doubled sourdough starter ready to use

Sample Baking Timelines 

Sourdough baking involves lots of different steps and can turn into an all day on-again-off-again process. Here are a couple of timelines to help you decide on a last feeding time based on when you’d like to bake. 

Need tips for your starter? This post will tell you everything you need to know about feeding sourdough starter including, how to store it, how to maintain it, and trouble shooting as well. Remember, your starter needs to be doubled in volume before it’s ready to bake. A strong starter is the biggest key to your success.

Timeline #1 – Evening Feeding for Early Afternoon Baking

Feed starter for the last time the night before. 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm
8:00 am, mix the dough, then allow to rest AUTOLYSE
8:20 am, add salt
9:20 am, letter fold #1
10:20 am, divide dough
10:40 am, shape dough and place in proofing basket
12:00 pm, preheat oven
Right before baking – slash the bread
12:40 – 1:00 pm – bake

Timeline #2 – Morning Feeding for Evening Baking

Feed starter for the last time in the morning. 7:30 am – 8:30 am
3:00 pm, mix the dough, then allow to rest AUTOLYSE
3:20 pm, add salt
4:20 pm, letter fold #1
5:20 pm, divide dough
5:40 pm, shape dough and place in proofing basket
7:00 pm, preheat oven
Right before baking – slash the bread
7:40 – 8:00 pm – bake

homemade sourdough bread recipe

Simple & Delicious Sourdough Step by Step Bread Recipe

Whew – that was a lot! Are you ready to start baking? Here’s what to do! Note: these pictures feature a double batch of the sourdough bread recipe I am sharing below. If you follow the recipe as written, you will have half as much dough as is featured in many of my pictures.

sourdough at beginning of autolyse

The first step is to measure out  starter, water, and flour and mix ingredients using a stand mixer. I find it most helpful to use a scale to measure these first ingredients. Mix on low speed only until a shaggy dough forms, about 1-2 minutes. Leave the dough in the mixer, cover, and let it rest for 20 minutes. This resting is called the autolyse and during it, the flour absorbs the water which starts the gluten making process.

dough after adding salt

After twenty minutes, add the salt. Turn on the mixer and knead the dough on low speed for 3-4 minutes. The dough will still be pretty soft and sticky when it’s done. 

sourdough bread recipe - first rise in plastic bucket

Now, it’s time to take this sticky dough out of the mixer. I put mine in a large plastic container that I grease first using a butter wrapper. I always save my butter wrappers in the fridge after removing the butter. They really come in useful for all sorts of greasing! Cover the container with a towel – don’t secure a lid unless you want exploding bread dough (ask me how I know this…). Let it rise for one hour.

sourdough bread dough after letter folding

After the hour, remove the bread dough to a lightly floured surface and perform a series of letter folding by grabbing one side of the dough, pulling high, and then folding down on top of the remaining dough. Turn the dough and repeat this fold on all sides. Then put it back in the rising container, cover, and let it rise for one more hour.

cut the dough
After the second hour of rising, remove the bread dough to the lightly floured surface and cut the bread dough in half with a dough scraper. Gently shape it into two balls, cover with a towel, and let rest for 20 minutes.

shape dough for final rise

Shaping and final rise

Now comes the fun part – shaping the dough for the final rise. This step is a little hard to explain, but essentially, you gently round the dough with the outside of our hand until it tightens up into a nice shape. Once you’re happy with the shape, put it seam side up (very important) into your final rising container.

I like to use bannetons, but you could also use a towel lined bowl if you want. A note about bannetons because there are a few ways you can use them. Most bannetons come with a cloth liner which I use as a cover. You can also use them as a liner, however, and put your dough on top of the cloth.

covered bannetons - final sourdough rise

The benefit of putting your dough on top of the cloth is that it will come out of the banneton easier. The downside is that you don’t get those nice lines on the dough. I like the lines so I flour my bannetons first using rice flour or cornmeal, and then put the dough directly on the banneton. If I don’t flour well enough, sometimes the dough gets stuck and that messes up the final shape. We think the bread still tastes great though, even if it is misshapen.

Regardless of container you use for the final rise, cover the dough and let rise. This can take as few as  2 – 2 1/2 hours, or longer depending on the air temperature during proofing. If it’s cold, it can take longer to proof. If it’s warm, it can proof faster. You’ll know it’s ready to bake when it poofs back slowly and leaves a slight indentation after you poke it with your finger. If your bread poofs back quickly after poking it, it needs to rise longer. If it doesn’t poof back at all,  you let it rise too long. Want to read more about this process? I recommend this post at True Sourdough. 

scoring the bread

How to slash or score the bread

Right before baking, it’s time to slash, or score, the bread so it doesn’t explode out of the sides. Slashing is also a way to put pretty designs on the bread. If you’re new to slashing bread, I recommend a simple X shape or a sideways S. Using the corner of the bread lame (razor blade) not the whole blade, slash the design across the top. Then make any smaller slashes you’d like too. Now your bread is ready to bake.

baking set up for sourdough bread

Don’t judge my dirty oven. LOL.

The ins and outs of baking sourdough bread!

I’ve tried a lot of different baking scenarios, and this is the one that has yielded the best results for me. 45 minutes to one hour before baking, it’s time to get the oven ready. I put a cast iron pan on the very bottom rack and make sure my top rack is at the halfway point in my oven. Then I put my trusty pampered chef pizza stone on that top rack and turn my oven on to 450F. I use the Convect Bake setting, if you have one too. No big deal if you don’t.

When it’s time to bake, put the bread on the parchment paper directly on the stone, then add one cup of hot water to the cast iron skillet and quickly shut the oven door. Turn the temperature down to 425 F and bake for approximately 27 minutes, give or take a couple minutes. You’ll know the bread is ready because it is a rich brown color and the bottom will sound hollow when you tap it. If your stone is big enough, you can bake both loaves at the same time. Mine is not, so I bake them one at a time.

2 baked loaves of sourdough bread

Printable Sourdough Bread Recipe

Yield: 2 loaves

Simple & Delicious Sourdough Bread Recipe

2 baked loaves of sourdough bread

A perfect, crusty, delicious sourdough bread you will be proud to share with your loved ones.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine starter, flours, and water and mix well in a stand mixer using a dough hook until a soft, sticky dough forms. Add a little more water or flour if needed. Cover dough.
  2. AUTOLYSE - Let dough rest for 20 minutes, then add salt. Using the same dough hook, turn on the mixer and mix well, until fully kneaded. Take the dough out of the mixer bowl and place in a greased bowl.
  3. Cover the dough and let rise for one hour.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold the dough like a business letter. Pull up on one side and fold over like top of an envelope. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat the business fold. Cover and let rise for one more hour.
  5. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut the dough in half. Gently shape the dough into two round shapes, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  6. At the end of this rest period, form your shapes into tight balls and then place seam side up in two towel lined bowls or in lightly floured bannetons. Let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until light and airy.
  7. 45 minutes to 1 hour before you'd like to bake, preheat oven to 450F. Preheat a pizza stone on a middle rack and include a cast iron skilled on the bottom rack.
  8. Before baking, carefully turn the bread out of the banneton onto a piece of parchment paper. Slash or score your bread so it won't erupt during baking.
  9. Place the bread on the preheated stone, quickly pour one cup hot water into the skillet, and shut the door.
  10. Turn the temperature down to 425 F. Bake for 27-30 minutes.
  11. Store any leftover bread in a loose bag at room temperature for about a day to prevent moisture buildup. You can also wrap tightly and freeze for another day.

Notes

I know how tempting it will be to cut into that fresh bread ASAP, but it will cut much better if you cool it on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 178mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g

Nutritional data is not always correct.

If you liked this post, you might like these too:

How to feed and maintain sourdough starter

How to make homemade pierogis

Homemade wholewheat crackers

Homemade Instant Pot Hummus (with or without tahini)

Let me know what you think about this recipe! How’s your sourdough baking going?

Grab This Week’s Free Kindle eBooks on Amazon

Looking for kitchen inspiration or a new book to read this weekend? Looking for a new free ebook download list? If you need kitchen inspiration or a new book to read this weekend, you will love this list of free Amazon Kindle ebooks – fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, and free ebooks for kids too! Check back at the end of each week for a new list.

5.22 free kindle ebooks

If you don’t have a kindle, but have a computer, iPad, or smart phone, head on over to download a Free Kindle App. Or you could go here and buy a Kindle blank! Make sure you check the prices as they change quickly on Amazon. While everything was free when I posted, it’s highly likely that they will change!

Grab This Week’s Free Amazon Kindle eBooks

Fiction - Free Amazon Kindle eBooks

Free Fiction eBooks on Amazon

The Formula

For the Lady of Lowena

Mock My Words

Cecilia’s Soulful Heart

Seeking Home

nonfiction bath bombs

Educational Free Non-Fiction eBooks

Bath Bomb Recipe Book

Minimalist Living

Crochet for Beginners

Vertical Gardening

Hygge

Cookbooks - Free Kindle eBooks on Amazon

Free Delicious Cookbooks on Amazon

Easy Tofu Cookbook

Can-Do Recipes

The Big Freeze

Escaping the Lockdown Cookbook

Mmm… Desserts!

kids book

Free eBooks for Kids

Jingo in the Jungle

Dream Holiday

Scooby-Doo Team-Up

ExtraNormal Academy

Scooby-Doo Team-Up Vol. 2

I’d love to hear from you about this weekly free ebook post. What types of free ebooks do you most like? Is their a category I don’t cover but should? Please let me know how I can improve this post for you!

Many thanks to Shelly from Frugal Family Home for her help compiling this list of free amazon Kindle eBooks. 

This post contains affiliate links which means I may make a small percentage of the sale at NO additional cost to you. Please read my disclosure statement for more information.

free ebooks

 

 

Delicious Frittata Recipe with Spinach, Sausage, & Potato

This delicious baked frittata recipe with spinach, sausage, and potato is a winner. It’s very versatile and a great way to use up fresh garden veg or leftovers you may  have in the fridge!

Frittata Recipe with Spinach, Sausage, & Potato

Delicious Frittata Recipe with Spinach, Sausage, & Potato

I’m not sure why I don’t make frittatas more often. They are a fabulous way to use up leftover veggies and meat, as well as a great way to sneak in a few veggies {like spinach} for picky eaters. I need quick meals to feed my family right now as we’re deep into ball season this month and our evenings are really busy and this fits the bill!

baked frittata with spinach, potatoes, and sausage

Last night I wanted a meal to include spinach from my garden, as I have a bumper crop and would like to do more than just eat it in salads. I had a few potatoes and a 1/2 pound leftover sausage in my fridge and so I quickly decided on this frittata combo!

Frittatas are seriously one of the more versatile meals out there. Almost everything tastes good in one and they are so easy to make. This sausage, potato, and spinach combo was very tasty. None of my kids even asked about the spinach! Score one for Mom!!

Sausage, Potato, & Spinach Frittata – Quick, One Pot Meal

Sausage, Potato, and Spinach Frittata

Making the frittata is seriously easy. Brown sausage, potatoes, and garlic over medium heat in dutch oven. Cover the dutch oven and let it cook for 10 minutes or so. Slice the potatoes thin for quicker cooking or chunk them like they are in the photo if you’d rather. Add spinach and green onions and cook for a minute or two longer.

start cooking baked frittata on the stove

Mix the eggs and milk and pour over veggies. Top with cheese. Reduce heat to low. Cover the dutch oven again and cook on low until the eggs are set and look done, about 15-20 minutes, or fewer if you use a bigger skillet. I used a 9″ dutch oven because I wanted a fatter frittata, but if I was in a real hurry, I’d use a 12″ skillet and cook this baby up in under 10 minutes.

Here’s the full delicious baked frittata recipe:

Sausage, Potato, and Spinach Frittata

Sausage, Potato, and Spinach Frittata
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 small potatoes, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 pound ground sausage
  • 1 cup spinach, torn or chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 9 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions

  1. Over medium high heat, begin to cook sausage in a dutch oven. Add potatoes and garlic, stir well and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the sausage is brown. Add spinach and cook for a minute or two more.
  2. While the sausage and potatoes are cooking, mix the eggs and milk in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Turn the heat down to low, add the egg mixture to the dutch oven and top with cheese and salt and pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover the dutch oven, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the eggs are cooked.
  4. Run your spatula around the edge of the frittata about midway through the cooking time.
  5. Garnish with fresh chives and enjoy!

Notes

I used a small dutch oven to get a fatter frittata. You could use a larger dutch oven to reduce cooking time, if you want.

I cooked the entire meal on the stove as I didn't want to heat up the oven. As long as you use low heat, I think it's fine to cook frittatas on a burner. If you'd like to bake yours, just preheat your oven to 400, use an oven safe pan, and bake for about 10 minutes.

baked frittata with spinach sausage and potato

If you liked this baked frittata recipe, you may like these recipes too:

The Best German Pancakes

5 Minute Egg & Cheese Sandwich

Bacon Wrapped Egg, Spinach, and Cheese Muffins

Rhubarb Scones

Do you eat frittatas? What’s your favorite meat/veg combo? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments!

brunch frittata

Create a Portable Patio Herb Garden in 4 Easy Steps

Growing herbs is a great way to step into gardening, and having a portable patio herb garden makes the process convenient and easy. If you’d like to start growing your own herbs in a mobile raised garden bed, here’s how!

portable patio herb garden

Create a Portable Patio Herb Garden in 4 Easy Steps

*Thank you Better Choice Products for gifting me this mobile raised garden bed to facilitate this post.*

Herbs are often overlooked when people think about growing a garden. They shouldn’t be though! Many herbs are seriously easy to grow and are attractive to pollinators. They also help you take your cooking game up a notch! 

elevated wood garden bed

Choose the right type of container

Herbs are the perfect plants to grow in containers, raised gardens, or window boxes but there are a couple important consideration when choosing the right container. Drainage holes in the bottom are a must for any type of herb container garden you plan. It’s also important that the container you choose be big enough to give the herbs room to grow.

I’ve been gardening for a long time and finally made the switch to raised garden beds a couple of years ago. I like raised beds for a number of reasons, but this mobile raised garden bed from Best Choice Products takes gardening to a whole new level. 

I love that it is on wheels, I love that I don’t have to bend over to take care of my fresh herbs, and love how quick and easy it is to move my herb garden from one place to another.

In addition to being convenient, my new herb garden adds a nice aesthetic to our back patio. We just finished our patio last fall and making it appealing and a comfortable place to relax is one goal for this summer. The next thing we want to do with our patio is add in some comfy seating and lighting. I have my eye on this set wicker six-piece set and we have the lights ready to string!

herbs in pots

Choose types herbs you like for your patio garden

Making your own patio herb garden is not hard. When deciding what herbs to grow, I consider a couple factors. My first priority is to choose herbs I enjoy using in cooking. However, it’s not always a waste to grow food you won’t eat if the herbs are good for pollinators or natural pest control. I also like herbs that thrive on neglect – nothing seems to kill basil, thyme, and oregano.

Herbs make great companion plants to include in your garden so I add grow of herbs that I don’t necessarily plant to eat. In my patio herb garden, though, I want to focus on herbs I plan to use in the kitchen. 

My favorite herbs for cooking are fresh cilantro, oregano, thyme, basil, and chives. I start some herbs from seed but always end up picking up more herbs at garden centers as well. There’s just something about garden centers – can’t stay away in the spring. 

My herb garden contains: basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, lavender, sage, and Mexican thyme as well. I’ve never tried Mexican thyme, but I like its flowers and I know my honey bees will too!

elevated wood patio herb garden

What you need to know about planting and harvesting herbs

It’s very important to plant your herbs in a good quality potting soil that provides nutrients and helps with drainage. You’ll want to have enough room for the herbs to develop a strong root system. To plant, dig a hole larger than than the plant, add in a bit of compost, and then cover the roots well with the potting mix. 

After you’ve planted, make sure to give all the herbs a good drink of water. Keep them watered according to growing directions.

As the herbs grow, you will want to pinch them off to encourage bushier growth. The more you harvest, the more they will grow so harvest early and often, leaving enough behind that they will continue to grow. 

best choice Mobile Raised Garden Bed

Location is key

Most herbs need at least 6-8 hours of sun so make sure to put your herb garden in a nice, sunny spot. I love how easy this wood planter is to move around. I’ve already wheeled it from front porch to back patio, trying to find the perfect spot. 

I also tucked the entire planter safely back inside last night after a severe thunderstorm hit our area promising damaging winds, torrential rainfall, and the potential for hail. This morning, I wheeled it back outside again. Easy peasy. Now the big question is, where do I keep my new herb garden? Front porch? Or back patio?

best choice products raised mobile garden bed

More information about my mobile raised garden bed from Best Choice Products

I really like this wooden planter! Shipping was fast and free, and it was easy to assemble. I have assembled my share of furniture and appreciate that the instructions for this planter were clear and easy to follow. I definitely recommend using a cordless drill. There are so many screws – using a screwdriver would take a lot longer.

The directions said it should take about 30 minutes to assemble, and I was skeptical. It did take me a little a little bit longer, but I managed to put together (by myself) in under an hour. I also decided to protect it with a oil-based outdoor varnish so that did add another step, but I think it will be better for the planter in the long term. At under $150, I think the planter is reasonably priced. You can learn more about this elevated wood planter here. 

Want more gardening posts? You may like these:

How to Care for Sun Tolerant Hostas

Growing a Cut Flower Container Garden

Shade Loving Perennials for Show Stopping Containers

I’m so excited to watch my herbs grow on our new patio! What are your favorite herbs to grow?

6 Ways to Kill Cucumber Beetles, Organically

Cucumber Beetles don’t take long to wipe our your cucumber, pumpkin, squash, and other cucurbit plants. If you don’t get a handle on them quickly they will wreak havoc in your garden. Here are 5 organic methods of pest control to rid your garden of the dreaded cucumber beetle.

how to kill cucumber beetles organicallyFor three years in a row now, I have lost my cucumber crop to the blasted cucumber beetles. One of my favorite foods to preserve from the garden is my Grandmother’s Secret Dill Pickles, and so the loss of my cucumber crop really breaks my heart. Last year I was able to can a few quarts because some good friends gave me some of their excess cucumbers, but I have not had a good pickle canning session for many years now.

Here's what a cucumber beetle looks like - keep and eye out for these pests! They're cute but they're SO destructive!

Do you see that nasty little yellow and black striped bug on my cucumber plant? They may look all cute and harmless BUT let me tell you, they are real, real pests. They are very destructive.

Sick of cucumber beetle destruction? Here are some organic methods to kill those annoying pests and save your plants.Besides being able to eat cucurbit leaves in a matter of days, they also cause bacterial wilt which kills the plants. I can live in harmony with many bugs, but not these guys. Killing my cucumbers means war, and I am tired of losing that war!! I’ve tried a few things to kill cucumber beetles over the last few years, but nothing’s been successful. Until this year. This year, I caught them early. And I struck hard and I struck fast.

6 Ways to Kill Cucumber Beetles, Organically

This year, I turned to Diatomaceous Earth. Last year, when I found the dang beetles, I read that food grade Diatomaceous Earth can be used as an organic insecticide, so I ordered a 50 pound bag from Azure Standard. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, Diatomaceous Earth is a type of silica made from the fossilized remains of diatoms. It’s a fine, white powder and it’s edible. Under a microscope, it supposedly looks like shards of glass and it is deadly for any bugs with an exoskeleton, like cucumber beetles, and fleas, and all sorts of nasty parasites. You can read more here at this useful article by Paul Wheaton.

I have read that you should be careful not to inhale DE, but last year when my husband suffered from intestinal parasites, I broke out the DE and made him drink some diluted with water. He also insisted on taking a course of antibiotics, but I have read that DE will do the trick without the antibiotics. So file that tidbit of information away for the next time you get intestinal parasites {or head lice…}.

DE on cucumbers is an effective and totally organic way to kill cucumber beetles.

Essentially, the way I killed my cucumber beetles was to dump 100% Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earthblank all over my cucurbits. I lifted the leaves and doused it good on the underneath since the cucumber beetles like to hang out on the underneath side of the plants. And I covered the dirt all around the plants, too. Because despite having read that cucumber beetles don’t crawl around, I see them crawling all over the ground. So I think they do crawl.I tossed some Diatomaceous Earth on my cucumber plants to get rid of those nasty cucumber beetles that kept ruining my crop.The first day I found the cucumber beetles, they were all over. I thought about the situation for a few minutes {because I had to remember WHY I bought that big bag of DE last year…} and headed out to my garden shed. I grabbed the DE and spread it all over using the method I described above.

The next day, I checked on my garden. Instead of finding hundreds of them, I found maybe 10. And I killed them all. The next day, I found ZERO cucumber beetles and I was very encouraged. However, after a few days, 5 maybe, I started finding a few more beetles, so today I covered them all up again with more Diatomaceous Earth since I am going away for 5 days and won’t be able to check on them. It is so helpful to be in the garden every single day to see find stuff like this. I’ve left strict instructions with my husband to be on the lookout for cucumber beetles!

Other organic methods for killing Cucumber Beetles:

    1. NEEM Oil – this is the first thing I tried. I’m guessing that it didn’t work because I was just too late. I didn’t know right away how destructive they were, and by the time I got the NEEM Oil, it was probably too just late. But it is supposed to be effective.
    2. Delay planting – planting your cucumber plants a little later in the season is another way to foil cucumber beetles. If you can wait to plant your cucumbers by a few weeks, you might have luck warding off the blasted beetles. Start them in your home instead and set them out when they are bigger and better able to fight off the beetles.
    3. Row covers – The aren’t that hard to make and they are effective. The one word of caution is that your plants still need to be pollinated so you will have to uncover the rows while the plants are flowering. Learn how to easily cover a raised bed in this post.
    4. Companion plant certain crops can help repel cucumber beetles. Companion planting can be very effective when done correctly. Nasturtiums, onions, and radish are great plants to include in your cucurbit area to help keep the cucumber beetles at bay. For more companion planting ideas, read this post.
    5. Trap crops – some cucurbits are less susceptible to bacterial wilt than others. A good trap crop to plant is the blue hubbard squash. For some reason, cucumber beetles really like this squash and don’t harm it as much as they do other crops.


Cautions I have read about DE –

I read not to use the DE on flowering plants as it also kills the bees that pollinate the plants. A very helpful person on my facebook page told me that I can manually pollinate the plants with a Q-Tip, if need be. One of my plants was already flowering and I am spreading the DE anyway. It does have baby cucumbers on it, so we’ll see what happens.

Otherwise, my garden is growing good. I did find one more bad garden pest on my potatoes, and I will tell you about that soon! But everything else is looking really nice.

My garden is growing well after using some DE to kill the cucumber beetles that kept eating my plants! Have you ever dealt with cucumber beetles? What did you do? And most importantly, how do you stop them from coming back next year? I am really considering burning my garden this year after it’s done.

 

 

Quick & Easy BLT Pasta Salad Makes Blursday Better

Quick & easy BLT Pasta Salad will quickly become a beloved main or side dish for busy summer nights. With a quick prep and a fabulous taste, your whole family will approve!

blt pasta salad

*Many thanks to the National Pork Board for sponsoring this post to make Blursday better with bacon!*

Quick & Easy BLT Pasta Salad Makes Blursday Better

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been having a really hard time keeping track of the days. They’ve been blurring together since mid-March when my kids were released from school. I’ve even wished people a happy Tuesday on social media when it was actually Wednesday. And with school now out for the entire year and no summer activities so far to speak of, it looks like we’re in for the Blursday Blues for the foreseeable future.

blursday bacon

Free Bacon for Blursday

Luckily, we’ve got your back with this recipe for BLT pasta salad and free bacon as well! America’s 60,000+ pig farmers and the National Pork Board want to pass out free bacon to put a smile on your face. If you’d like to score a package, all you have to do share a picture featuring bacon,  tag @NationalPorkBoard on a public social media account (twitter, instagram, or facebook) and include #BaconforBlursday!!

The National Pork Board will select up to 1,000 people across the country at random to receive a package of pre-cooked bacon to boost their morale and make their “Blursday” a bit better. And with your free bacon, I hope you’ll make this delicious recipe I’m sharing today!

ingredients for blt pasta salad

How to Make Super Easy BLT Pasta Salad

Nothing screams summer like a BLT made with garden fresh tomatoes served on a hot summer day. If you love BLTs, you will also love this salad. Featuring crisp romaine lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and homemade ranch dressing, it’s even better with avocado and cucumber. But the piece de resistance – the crispy bacon and the feta cheese. Bacon makes everything better, does it not?

You will not regret making this quick and easy salad for a busy weekday evening or as a side dish to take along to a summer cookout or BBQ. While it’s really easy to make, having a few things prepared ahead of time will speed up the process even more.

Note: Though it can be eaten right away, we prefer this salad chilled. If you have time, prepare the noodles and bacon ahead of time, and combine with the dressing a couple hours before serving. Add the veggies at the end so they don’t get soggy during refrigeration.

close up blt salad

How to Make this BLT Pasta Salad Even Faster

The good news is, you can have this from-scratch recipe on the table in under an hour even if you haven’t prepped anything at all. Like most things in life, however, preparation will speed up the process. A few tasks to make the recipe go faster include, making the ranch dressing ahead of time, or or using pre-made dressing if you prefer. I promise though, using homemade ranch dressing will be a great use of your time!

bake bacon

Bake Bacon for Perfect Bacon Every Time

Another prep ahead task you can do is make your bacon ahead of time. Did you know that bacon is really easy to batch cook? My favorite bacon cooking method is to bake it in the oven. You can make crispy bacon in about 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven! The best part – no mess! No splatters! No smoky mess! Also, it’s really easy to save the bacon grease when you bake it in the oven. I use bacon grease for so many delicious purposes

Once you have a few ingredients prepped, here’s how to put it all together!

Yield: 10 side dish servings

Quick & Easy BLT Pasta Salad with Cucumber and Feta

BLT Pasta Salad Recipe

Quick & easy BLT pasta salad will quickly become a beloved main or side dish for busy summer nights. With a quick prep and a fabulous taste, your whole family will approve!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (corkscrew, bowtie, or similar)
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked crispy and diced
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 3/4 cup homemade ranch dressing, 
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced optional
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, optional
  • Sliced green onions, optional

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Cook bacon if it is not cooked, drain, and dice.
  3. Shred lettuce, prepare tomatoes, cucumber, and green onions.
  4. Toss veggies with pasta, bacon, ranch dressing, and feta cheese. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy!

Notes

Note: Though it can be eaten right away, we prefer this salad chilled. If you have time, prepare the noodles and bacon ahead of time, and combine with the dressing a couple hours before serving. Add the veggies at the end so they don't get soggy during refrigeration.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 580Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 37gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1129mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 9g

Nutritional Data is provided as a courtesy and may not be always be correct.

Now that you have the perfect recipe, check out this “Every Day is Blur But Bacon is the Cure” t-shirt from Bozz Prints (A lovely Iowa Company I featured on my gift guide for Moms, Dads, and Grads not too long ago! Then, share a picture of yourself with bacon, tag @nationalporkboard on social media, and tell them you want#BaconforBlursday! Best of luck!

For more great pork recipes, head over to the Pork.org. or Yummly.com/pork. What’s your favorite way to eat bacon?

summer side