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The Perfect Refined-Sugar Free Southern Cornbread Recipe

Homemade southern cornbread was a staple in my grandma’s Arkansas kitchen and we ate it all the time. If you’re looking for delicious and refined-sugar-free healthy cornbread, you’ll love this easy recipe!

The Perfect Refined-Sugar Free Southern Cornbread Recipe

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

Refined Sugar Free Southern Cornbread Recipe

When I was young, I didn’t appreciate the bean soup my grandma served us, but I always enjoyed her cornbread. A homemade cornbread is a real treat, especially when you use an easy southern cornbread recipe, like I’m sharing today!

Now I know that the perfect cornbread recipe can be a hot topic. Should it be sweet or not? Crumbly or not? I guess it all boils down to personal preference, but this recipe more closely resembles how I’ve seen cornbread prepared in the south. I’ve had “cornbread” here in Iowa and I do not consider it true cornbread. They best way to describe it is moist and cakey. Ick!

refined sugar free cornbread

This cornbread is flavorful, yet crumbly. I do add a few tablespoons of honey to give it a slight hint of sweet, but it could not be described as cake-sweet. It’s a family favorite recipe and I hope you like it!

Ingredients for this healthy cornbread recipe

You’ll get a better result if you use better ingredients. I grind my own corn meal and flour in my Nutrimill grain mill. While I think there are a lot of benefits to grinding your own flours, you certainly don’t have to. I would recommend that you buy a high quality corn meal flour though – Bob’s Red Mill makes a nice medium ground cornmeal that I like. I also recommend using aluminum-free baking powder (Rumford is my preferred brand) and buttermilk as well. If you don’t have buttermilk, easily make your own by combining 1 TBS with enough milk to make a cup! Super easy.

the perfect southern cornbread recipe, refined sugar free

Overall, this recipe is really easy. Mix the dry ingredients, fold in wet ingredients, bake in a cast iron skillet in a hot oven. Using bacon grease to oil the skillet gives the cornbread a little bit of bacon flavor – highly recommend! By the way, here’s the super easy way I save bacon grease and a ton of uses for it!

Here’s the easy peasy recipe! Try it and I bet you’ll never go back to a pre-bought mix!

Easy Cornbread Recipe

Yield: 8 servings

Refined Sugar Free Southern Cornbread

Refined Sugar Free Southern Cornbread

If you're looking for delicious and refined-sugar-free healthy cornbread, you'll love this easy recipe!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour {I use freshly ground hard white wheat}
  • 1 cup cornmeal {I use freshly ground blue cornmeal}
  • 3 TBS raw honey
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS bacon grease
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 450F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Melt 1 TBS bacon grease in a round cast iron skillet. If you don't want to use bacon grease, you can also use butter.
  3. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, and butter. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just mixed.
  4. Pour into the hot skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Serve with honey and or butter. Enjoy!

Notes

If you don't have buttermilk, make it quickly by putting one TBS vinegar in your one cup measuring cup. Then fill with milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and you have homemade buttermilk.

So now the biggest question is – what’s the perfect topping for cornbread? Butter? Honey? Or, something else??

cast iron southern cornbread from scratch

If you liked this easy cornbread recipe, you might like these recipes too:

Wilted Lettuce Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

How to Store Bacon Grease & 12 Ways to Use It

How to Make Whole Wheat Bread with a KitchenAid

Great Grandma Shafer’s Amazing Strawberry Shortcake

How to Store Seeds – My Favorite Garden Seed Organizer

Are you wondering how to store seeds? I’ve been using a photo box for several years now and think it makes the best garden seed organizer ever! Take control of your seeds using this cool box! The Best Garden Seed Organizer Ever!

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site.*

How to Store Seeds – My Favorite Garden Seed Organizer

For years I had a haphazard garden seed organizing system which amounted to shoving seed packets in a shoebox or a ziplock baggie (or both) and putting them in a “safe spot” I was sure to forget about. Sound familiar at all? If you’re like I was, I highly recommend upgrading to this awesome photo box I got on Amazon. I think it’s a real bargain at under $20.

4 x 6 boxes for saving seeds in my favorite box

Photo keeper boxes come in many different sizes, but the one I like best is this one. It’s one big box with 16 – 4×6 little boxes inside. The little boxes are exactly the right size for my beloved Baker Creek seed packets. One of these days, I will even label the outside of the 16 little boxes so I have a better idea of what’s inside each one. For now, it’s pretty easy to see what’s inside because the boxes are see-through. The only time suck is I have to physically lift each one to see the front. 😀

tomatoes in my favorite seed saving box

I try to keep like seeds in one box. For instance, tomato seeds are in one box. Pepper seeds in another, flowers, herbs, zucchini, corn, etc. Believe it or not, all 16 of my boxes are full. Sometimes I even keep empty packets in the boxes so I can go through them in the winter and decide what to order again.

Close the seed packets tightly

My only caveat is that you have to close each envelope tightly or the seeds will fall out. That’s not necessarily a huge problem unless you have a lot of different types of seed packets open in each box. It’s pretty hard to tell one broccoli seed from a kale or cabbage seed!

Garden Seed Storage Made Easy!

All in all, I love this seed saving box. It’s easy to use, handy to store, and quick to find. It makes ordering new seeds a snap and keeps all my pretty little lovelies safe and sound. If you’d like to order one too, head on over to Amazon. You can order a box with a purple handle for under $20, or get the white handled box for $30. I’d personally save $10 and order more seeds. 🙂 If you have an absolute ton of seeds, you can also get two large white boxes for $35.

Make sure to keep the box in a cool, dark place to give your seeds the longest life. Happy Organizing!

seed-saving-box

Need more garden awesomeness? Try these posts:

Tips for Ordering Garden Seeds

Helpful Supplies for Starting Seeds Indoors

Tips for Starting Broccoli & Other Brassicas

Free Containers to Start Garden Seeds

Free Catalogs for the Organic Gardener / Homesteader

My favorite way to store garden seeds is in this garden seed organizer.

What’s your favorite way to store garden seeds? I’d love to know! 

Hearty & Delicious Simple Beef Stew

There’s not much better than a bowl of hearty and delicious simple beef stew on cold winter days. Made in a dutch oven, beef stew is a fantastic make ahead meal that your entire family will love.

1 Hearty & Delicious Simple Beef Stew

*This recipe contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

Hearty & Delicious Simple Beef Stew

This simple beef stew starts on the stove top and finishes in the oven. I first tried this recipe when Mary from Farm Girl Cookin’ made it for a group of travel bloggers this winter. We were glamping at Red Cedar Lodge and this oven beef stew was a meal one night. Mary made most of the stew ahead of time, froze it, and then finished it off in a slow cooker the day we ate it.

Everyone loved it so much that Mary shared the recipe with us. She made it by combing recipes from Julia Child and Ina Gartner’s classic beef stew recipes. It’s very versatile and can be adapted to about any cooking style from stove top, to oven, to slow cooker, to instant pot. Mary gave me permission to share it all with you! Everything about this stew is delish! I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as my family does.

dutch oven beef stew

Dutch Oven Beef Stew is so Yummy and Versatile

While the recipe is not difficult, the prep does take time, so I recommend that you start this recipe either in the morning or the day before you want to eat it. Letting it slowly cook for several hours is the key to melt-in-your-mouth beef stew, so rich in flavor that you will be licking the dutch oven clean after you finish the recipe.

A few questions about this stove top beef stew recipe:

What’s the best beef for this stew?

I recommend 100% grass fed beef for this recipe. You can use pre-cut stew beef, but in my experience, taking the time to cut up a roast on your own will yield a much better result. I’ve used rump roast and arm roast in this recipe and both are fabulous. I’m lucky to have a farmer two miles away who I buy the most amazing grass fed beef from, but if you aren’t as lucky, check out these deals from Butcher Box. It seemed a little expensive to me at first glance, but I have heard rave reviews about their meat and service. When you compare the price to other humanely raised, quality meat, the price is actually not that bad. This January, you can get 2 lbs of wild caught Alaska salmon for free with your first purchase too! Join ButcherBox today and get 2 lbs of Wild Alaskan Salmon free!

Is red wine necessary in this beef stew?

This delicious stew calls for 3 cups (basically an entire bottle) of red wine  which is really the foundation of the recipe. I highly recommend including the wine. It enhances the flavor so nicely!! If you don’t want to use red wine though, you can substitute beef broth, but don’t expect the same rich flavor the wine imparts.

delicious and hearty beef stew recipe - adaptable to the slow cooker or instant pot

Can I Make this Oven Beef Stew Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! And I highly recommend that you do make it ahead of time. Cutting up a roast and searing it in batches will take a while. While you could use pre-cut stew meat instead of a roast, the roast provides such great flavor! Prep the recipe on a day when you have a lot of time and then finish it in the evening for a delicious meal.

Is this Beef Stew Freezer Friendly?

Yes! Prepare the stew ahead of time and freeze it before you add the potatoes. Potatoes don’t really freeze that well, so adding them the day you eat the recipe is the best bet. The rest of the recipe freezes just fine, however.

Can I make this Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

Yes! You can make it in either. To make this recipe in a slow cooker, simply put everything in your favorite slow cooker after searing the beef and cook on low for 6-8 hours. I would add the potatoes during the last hour of cooking and the peas at the very end, just like the recipe card below specifies.

To make it in an Instant Pot, cook the bacon and sear the beef using the sauté feature on your IP. Put all ingredients (except potatoes and peas) in the IP and cook on manual for 40 minutes. Use a natural release for 10 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure. Turn sauté feature back on and add potatoes and cook for about 2o minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Then turn off the Instant Pot and add the peas.


Here’s the printable recipe!

Yield: 8 servings

Hearty & Delicious Dutch Oven Beef Stew

Hearty & Delicious Dutch Oven Beef Stew

A rich and flavorful hearty beef stew, slow cooked for hours in the oven.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 - 6 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • REAL salt
  • 1 lb carrots sliced diagonally into 1-inch chucks
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups dry red wine (I used Winking Owl Merlot from ADLI)
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tsp fresh
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 2 lb potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3 TBS flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a large platter.
  2. Sprinkle beef cubes with salt and pepper and sear them in the bacon grease on all sides, 4-5 minutes. You will likely have to do this in batches as you don't want the beef cubes to be touching while they sear. As they brown, remove the beef cubes to the plate with the bacon. Work until all of the cubes are seared, then set the plate aside.
  3. You may been to add a bit more bacon grease or oil to the dutch oven. Now add the carrots and onions and saute for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions lightly browned and fragrant.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  5. Put the meat and the bacon back in the dutch oven.
  6. Add the wine, beef stock, tomato paste and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.
  7. Put the covered dutch oven in the lower third of a preheated oven and let it simmer slowly for 3 -4 hours. During the last hour of cooking, add the sliced potatoes. Cover pot, and let it continue cooking until the potatoes are done. Mix the butter with the flour. Remove from oven, add the peas and the butter/flour mix, cover the pot, and let it rest for 10 minutes. The peas will heat up and the stew will thicken nicely.
  8. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Notes

A roast will result in the most flavorful beef stew, but you may use pre-cut stew meat to save time if you would like.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

2 cups each

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1538 Total Fat: 2g Sodium: 107290mg Carbohydrates: 158g Sugar: 24g Protein: 109g

Which method would you use for cooking this stew?
Delicious beef stew started on the stove top and finished in the oven

If you liked this one pot recipe, you’ll like these too:

Old Fashioned Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Asian Rice Bowls

Oven Baked Beer Brats & Potatoes – One Skillet Oven Meal

Sustainable Health Care – How Green Business Practices Benefit People & the Earth

Social and ecological responsibility are two of our goals here at SimplifyLiveLove. As self-employed business owners who do our best to protect the environment, we’re always curious to learn what other business are doing to protect the Earth too. Have you heard of sustainable health care? It combines green business and sustainable business for the benefit of both people and the Earth. I’m excited to share a few things about the concept with you today!Sustainable Health Care - How Green Business Practices Benefit People & the Earth

This post is sponsored by Providence Health. All opinions are mine.

Sustainable Health Care – How Green & Sustainable Business Practices Benefit People & the Earth

joel gilbertson on sustainable health careI recently spoke with Joel Gilbertson, Senior Vice President of Community Partnerships at Providence Health to better understand the concept of Sustainable Health Care. It’s honestly not an idea that I’ve heard about before, but I am very familiar with the green and energy efficient building concepts. From that perspective, I am very familiar with a lot of the ideas that Joel mentions in this post. It is possible for a business to do better for the Earth while still making a profit and serving the people well too. I wish more businesses would adopt models like this!

Here are a six ways sustainable health care is seeking to improve quality of care for patients and benefit the Earth at the same time.

1. What is sustainable health care?

Simply put, sustainable health care is when sustainability is adopted and integrated into the delivery of health care to enable healthier people – patients and caregivers; planet, and pocketbook. Health care is the second most energy intensive commercial consumer, so hospitals play a big role in generating greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore have an important responsibility to mitigate that impact. As caregivers, we know that without protecting the Earth, our common home, we cannot achieve our vision of health for a better world. 

2. How does sustainable health care benefit hospitals? 

There is a wide range of benefits of sustainable health care for hospitals, from operating more efficiently, to improving the environment of care for patients, to boosting caregiver morale, to lowering operating costs, and the list goes on and on. Examples include: 

green hospital mechanical room

Operating more efficiently

Operating equipment as efficiently as possible and installing higher efficiency equipment wherever possible empowers caregivers to focus more on patient care, calling in fewer complaints about temperatures being too warm or cool, or burned out bulbs. Operating efficiently enables hospitals to deliver quality care yet mitigate the impact of energy intensive operations and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

whole food at a hospital cafeteria - improving patients lives

Improving the environment of care for patients

As a key partner in the community, it is critical to deliver quality care while striving to mitigate the impacts of operations for the surrounding populations. Hospitals with energy efficient equipment such as those bearing the ENERGY STAR® tend to be top performing high-quality products, and support hospitals’ genuine desire to provide a top-quality environment of care. 

Boosting caregiver morale

Sustainable health care demonstrates a hospitals’ commitment to the Earth and its obligation to the surrounding communities. Caregivers want to work and live in a healthy place where their employer cares and invests in their environment – both indoors and out. There are many factors to employee retention, and hospitals who “walk the walk” and do their part to preserve the Earth create one more positive reason why caregivers will take pride in their organization and stay for the long term. 

Lowering operating costs

Energy efficient equipment reduces operating costs due to lower utility bills and reduces maintenance labor costs due to longer lasting equipment. For example, LED lighting provides high quality illumination yet the bulbs can last 8-10 times longer than standard CFL bulbs, which also reduces maintenance time and expenses. Both the energy savings and the maintenance savings result in lower operating costs which can be reinvested into more energy efficiency or patient care. Similarly, reducing waste generation means fewer waste hauler pickups which will lower hauling bills.

3. How does sustainable health care benefit consumers?

While some consumers travel great distances to access quality health care, most patients seek treatment at health care facilities that are close to their homes. Sustainable health care aims to mitigate the environmental impacts of health care operations, which benefits consumers who live in the neighborhoods and communities surrounding the health care facilities.   

Consumers benefit from sustainable health care while seeking treatment, as well, since they will experience a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment, be exposed to fewer hazardous chemicals, and be treated by quality professionals who are proud of their organization’s mission and sustainability efforts.  

4. Why should we care about sustainable health care?

The Pope has called upon all of us globally to care for the Earth, our common home. According to Pope Francis “I urgently appeal… for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation that includes everyone, since the environment challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all…” 

This calling is familiar and embedded in our DNA as a system. Our founding sisters called upon us to care for the Earth as part of our mission to serve the poor and vulnerable, who today are most subject to the harmful effects of climate change. In fact, one of our core values is Justice: “We strive to care wisely for our people, our resources and our Earth.” 

The effects of climate change are apparent in our daily lives, too. We witness these effects whether we are experiencing extreme weather events in our communities or observing the suffering of others in the news. We know that the nature of our work is energy intensive and has an adverse impact on the surrounding communities so we must act to mitigate those impacts, caring for our common home.

5. How are hospitals making the switch to more sustainable practices?

One critical step that we have taken to adopt more sustainable practices was to establish a comprehensive tracking system to set a baseline, measure progress, and report results across an array of sustainability metrics. We have done this through our partnership with Schneider Electric where over half (and counting) of our 800+ hospitals and health care buildings are onboarded onto the “Resource Advisor” platform, which allows us to monitor utility cost and usage and trends for energy, water, waste, associated emissions, and ENERGY STAR benchmark ratings, among other features.

Hospitals are also networking to share best practices and assist fellow hospitals within the system to accelerate their efforts through information exchange. For example, we have a group called the Action Collaborative for Environmental Stewardship (ACES) which meets monthly to learn and discuss various topics in sustainable health care.

Finally, another way in which hospitals are making the switch to more sustainable practices is by “greening” the operating rooms (ORs) since ORs represent one of the departments with the largest environmental footprints. ORs are one of the largest purchasers of supplies and one of the largest producers of waste. According to case studies referenced by Practice Greenhealth, “between 20-30 percent of the total waste generated by the hospital comes from the OR”. Ways that hospitals have chosen to “green” the OR include:

    • Regulated medical waste reduction and segregation
    • Single-use device reprocessing
    • Reusable surgical gowns and basins
    • LED lighting and power booms
    • Medical plastics recycling

6.  Is sustainable health care common in the health care industry?

Like Providence Health and Services dating back twenty years, many health care organizations began integrating sustainability into operations long before the impacts of climate change were apparent. The combination of long-term ownership interests, growing aging population, energy intensity relative to other sectors, and more recently: financial challenges due to and the Pope’s “Global Call to Action” have contributed significantly to the need to address sustainability more intensely and comprehensively in health care. Traditional efforts focused on energy and engineering, not a broader sustainability umbrella which exists today, is relatively new, and is transforming how we think about sustainability in health care.

Many thanks to Providence Health for teaching me a little bit about sustainable health care. I’m glad to see hospitals take an active role in reducing green house gases and conserve wherever possible. 

If you liked this post on Green Healthcare, you might like these posts too:

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Immune Boosting Creamy Chicken Stew

Delicious & Easy Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Featuring a delicious chocolate graham cracker crust for cheesecake, these easy mint chocolate cheesecake bars are a huge hit! No springform pan or fuss required.These easy cheesecake bars are always a huge hit and perfect for a large crowd!

peppermint-sheet-pan-cheesecake

Delicious & Easy Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

This recipe for Delicious & Easy Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Bars is for you if you love homemade cheesecake but hate the fuss of spring form pans and cracking cakes! It’s easy and makes either one big sheet pan dessert, or two 9x13s, so you can eat one and freeze the other for another day!

My family always begs me to make cheesecakes, but I rarely do. Primarily, I don’t want to find my spring form pan and deal with the disappointment of another cracked cheesecake. Luckily, this recipe is much easier than a traditional cheese cake. Rest assured, though, it certainly doesn’t sacrifice taste! Three simple steps will have this wonderful sheet pan cheesecake on your table without too much effort.

chocolate-peppermint-sheet-pan-cheesecake

Let’s Make these Easy Cheesecake Bars

First, gather tools and ingredients. You’ll need either a sheet pan (18 x 13), these are my favorite, or two 9×13 pans for this recipe. You’ll also need parchment paper. I like the brand If You Care’s Unbleached & Chlorine Free variety. It also helps to have a food processor and a stand mixer, though neither are necessary. Make sure you let the cream cheese come to room temperature for about an hour or so before you’re ready to mix it or it won’t cream as nicely.

Easy Graham Cracker Crust for Cheesecake

It’s easy to make a delicious graham cracker crust for cheesecake.The crust is just crushed chocolate graham crackers combined with melted butter and pre-baked for about 5 minutes. And if you line the sheet pan with parchment paper, the cheesecake bars come off the pan effortlessly.

bake-the-crust-and-add-the-cheesecake

Make the cheesecake batter

To make the cheesecake batter, I busted out my Kitchen Aid stand mixer  and creamed the cheese and sugar before adding eggs one at a time. Finally, add the extracts and the mint candy pieces and pour the mix onto the crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the middle has just set. After the cheesecake has baked, let it cool for 15 minutes, and then put it in the fridge for at least three hours.

bake-the-cheesecake-cook-then-add-the-ganache

Make the ganache

While your lovely cheesecake is cooling, make an easy ganache.  Yes, I made a ganache – doesn’t that sound fancy?! No, it’s not hard, don’t worry. 🙂 Just make sure you coarsely chop a cup of chocolate chips before adding hot cream. I used my food processor to chop the chocolate – easy peasy. Let the cream and chocolate mix sit for ten minutes, and then stir until the chocolate is melted. That’s it! After the cheesecake is completely cooled, spread the ganache on top.

cheesecake-with-chocolate-ganache

By the way, don’t let your son drop a grapefruit on the cheesecake after you’ve nicely smoothed out the ganache or it will look terrible. You can just trust me on that one. I was NOT a happy mama and I didn’t display very nice mama skills after that happened. How many times does a person have to tell her kids not to throw balls {or anything resembling balls} in the house?!

chocolate-peppermint-sheet-pan-cheesecake-vertical

Here’s the printable recipe

Yield: 40 squares

Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

An easy and delicious cheesecake bar recipe - no spring-form pan or fuss required!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 3 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
  • 10 TBS butter, melted

For the cheesecake

  • 6 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 cup crushed peppermint candies

For the ganache

  • 1 cup heavycream
  • 1 cup finely shredded semi-sweet chocolate, chocolate chips work fine

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the crust, combine melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. Firmly press on a sheet pan (or two 9 x 13 if desired) covered with parchment paper.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, remove from oven.
  4. To make the cheesecake, combine cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer over medium speed. Slowly add eggs one at time until combined.
  5. Add the extracts and candies and mix one last time.
  6. Pour the cheesecake batter on the crust and bake for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool to touch, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  7. To make the ganache, shred 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate. I ran a cup a chocolate chips through my food processor, but if you have mad knife skills, feel free to use your knife to chop.
  8. Heat one cup a cream over medium high heat until just boiling. Then, pour cream over chocolate in a heat safe bowl.
  9. Let the cream and chocolate sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes are up, stir the mixture until a nice ganache forms. Top the cheesecake with the ganache. Put the cheesecake back in the fridge for another 15 minutes or so.
  10. Finally, cut into bars (roughly 2" x 2") and top with a few more candies, if desired
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 4381 Total Fat: 271g Saturated Fat: 167g Cholesterol: 751mg Sodium: 2317mg Carbohydrates: 438g Sugar: 410g Protein: 60g

If you liked this recipe for easy cheesecake bars, you might like these recipes too:

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Delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake

I hope you like these mint chocolate cheesecake bars! It is a new family favorite. Happy baking!

Poinsettia Care Tips for Beautiful Flowers All Season

These five poinsettia care instructions for growing poinsettias indoors will help you keep your lovely Christmas flowers looking beautiful all season long. 

5 Must Know Tips for Growing Poinsettias Indoors

Poinsettia Care Tips for Beautiful Flowers

I love poinsettias during Christmas time, but I have had a horrible track record of keeping them alive. If you’re wondering how to keep your own poinsettias beautiful during the whole Christmas season, you need these tips too!

Poinsettia Care Instructions – Buy a healthy plant

You can probably tell if the plant is healthy just by looking at it. Choose a plant that has vibrant green leaves with no brown spots. You’ll want to get a plant with open flowers as poinsettias bloom very slowly. You’ll also want to make sure the flowers are bright and pretty looking.

Keep Your Poinsettias Beautiful with these 5 Must Know Tips

Do not let it get cold during transport from store to house

Poinsettias are very susceptible to cold. If you buy a plant during cold weather, make sure you cover it with a bag before you take it outside to keep it from getting shocked. Also, it’s important that you don’t leave it in an unheated car. If you have a lot of errands to run, make sure you pick up the poinsettia last and take it straight home. It’s better for the plant to take the bag off as soon as possible.

How to water a poinsettia

Over-watering is often the number one killer of poinsettias so make sure you let the soil dry to the touch between watering. Don’t forget to check to the bottom of the dish they’re in to make sure they’re not sitting in water for days on end. Poinsettias also like humidity, so if your house is dry, you might want to give them frequent mists of water.

5 Must Know Tips for Growing Poinsettias Indoors

Poinsettias need bright light

Growing poinsettias indoors is not hard, but they need a lot of light. The best place to keep them is near a south facing window. If you notice your poinsettia turning light green, you’ll want to find it a spot that gets more light. It should also be kept relatively warm, with ideal temperatures in the 60-70 degree range.

Protect poinsettias from drafts in your home

Poinsettias are tropical plants and as such are very susceptible to cold drafts.  Make sure that no part of it touches a cold window. You’ll also want to keep it away from a furnace vent or a fireplace as well.

And that’s it! Follow these steps and you should have beautiful poinsettias until Valentine’s Day and maybe even beyond.

Grow Beautiful Poinsettias with these 5 Must Know Tips

If you follow these poinsettia care instructions each year, your flowers will shine at home! Now the big question is, what do you do with your beautiful flowers after the holidays?

If you liked this post on growing poinsettias indoors, you might like these posts too:

Start a Family Tradition by Cutting Down Christmas Tree at these Iowa Tree Farms

10 Healthier Christmas Cookie Recipes – Refined Sugar Free

Homemade Christmas Decorations made with Natural Items

DIY Christmas Gifts for the Entire Family

12 Best House Plants that are hard to kill

 

A Surprising Culinary & Art Scene Awaits in Bentonville Arkansas

Bentonville, Ar might not be on your travel radar, but like so many towns I visit, it deserves to be. Not only does a surprisingly culinary scene await you in the many Bentonville restaurants, but Crystal Bridge Museum of American Art is a museum not to be missed. Keep reading to learn why this small Arkansas town is worthy of a visit!crystal bridges in bentonville ar

This post is sponsored by Visit Bentonville. All opinions are mine.

A Surprising Culinary & Art Scene Awaits in Bentonville Arkansas

The city of Bentonville on the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas is such a hidden gem! Located just over three hours south of Kansas City, five hours from St. Louis, and under two hours from Branson, it’s the perfect weekend getaway from many cities. My grandparents were from Northeast Arkansas and I spent a lot of time in Arkansas when I was younger. I considered it a place I had to go, not necessarily a state I wanted to visit.

Since I started blogging, however, I have been to Arkansas several times and have really come to enjoy the state. This was my second visit to Bentonville, but the first time I really got to get out and explore. I was also in the Little Rock area a couple years ago when I toured P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm. As an adult, I have come to appreciate Arkansas in a new way!field house bentonville

Bentonville has really come to life over the last 12 years with the addition of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and is now a mecca of art, music, recreation, and food. Visionary thinkers and city planners have created an open and welcoming city – diverse in people and experiences and so much fun.

grass roots farmers' cooperative bentonville ar

I almost always love the places I visit on blog trips, but rarely do I think “that’s a place I could actually live.” I could honestly picture myself in the Bentonville area. I so appreciate the welcoming attitude, the diversity, the emphasis on art, outdoors, and locally produced food!! Here are just a few of the reasons you need to visit Bentonville to try all the fantastic food and see what the city has to offer first hand.

food and Restaurants in Bentonville Ar

Some of My Favorite Restaurants in Bentonville Ar

You might be as surprised as I was to hear about the emphasis on local eating in Bentonville. During panel discussions we were part of on our press trip we learned all about how many local chefs work with local farmers. Not only do many local restaurants source as much food as possible from local growers, Bentonville also boasts an amazing culinary school called Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the American Culinary Federation.

brightwater bentonville ar

Here, food is looked at as art and students can learn about animal butchery, cheese making, coffee barista, wine and beer making, bread baking, and so much more. I would love to take a few classes at Brightwater myself! With a school like that, it’s no wonder that Bentonville is home to so many delicious restaurants.

Preacher’s Son Bentonville

One of the only entirely gluten-free restaurants in the country, Preacher’s Son Bentonville is a must stop. It’s located in a beautifully restored church and the decor is fabulous! There’s also a hidden speakeasy in the basement that you need to see! If you go, I  highly recommend that you go in a group and try lots of the starters. We tried with Burrata with shaved beets, roasted cauliflower with chimichurri, and the mushrooms with house made ricotta and grilled gluten-free bread. If no one had told me that Preacher’s Son Bentonville was entirely gluten-free before we showed up, I would have had no idea. Everything was wonderful!

Pressroom Bentonville

Pressroom Bentonville is located near the Bentoville Square and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has a full bar as well as delicious coffee and was packed every time I walked by – it looks to be quite a local hangout. From the modern decor to the food, this stop was one of my favorites. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast there. If you need a pick-me-up in the morning, I highly recommend the gingerslap 2 oz remedy shot. With ginger, lemon, apple, and raw honey, it will give you a boost in the morning! I also had the egg sammie with egg, cheese, bacon, avocado, mayo, seeded bread, served with fresh greens. Sooo good!

The Hive Bentonville

Located inside the amazing 21c Hotel in Bentonville, the Hive is a super cute bar and restaurant. I love the beehive decor made from recycled materials and the food and drinks are quite tasty too. Like many of the restaurants we ate at in Bentonville, the Hive’s cuisine pays homage to the High South.The Hive is directed by an award winning executive chef originally from Arkansas. I had the Berkshire Hog Chop with butternut squash, roasted broccoli, and rosemary. It was absolutely delicious!

Eleven at Crystal Bridges

I don’t normally think of museum restaurants as places I’d like to eat, but like so many other things in Bentonville, Eleven at Crystal Bridges defies my preconceived ideas. The cuisine at Eleven focuses on the menu of the High South, comfort food like bean soup and corn bread. My grandparents always had a big pot of bean soup on the stove when we arrived at their house in NE Arkansas – something I didn’t appreciate when I was younger, but really enjoy now. If you’re not a fan of beans, they also have trout, chicken, soups, and lovely salads.

Fun things to do in Bentonville AR

Fun things to do in Bentonville, Ar

After all that eating, you’re going to need to get active in Bentonville too. Luckily, amazing museums, lots of colorful murals, a fun town square with locally owned shops, miles of bicycle trails, and more are just some of the fun things that will keep you active on your stay in Bentonville. Here were a few of my favorite stops on our stay.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Opened in 2011 by the Walton Family Foundation, this beautiful museum is a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. In fact, during our panel discussions we learned that this museum really set off a reinvention of the town. The culinary scene really began after Crystal Bridges opened. Crystal Bridges is free for everyone and houses lovely works of art including Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola, pieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell.

Frank Lloyd Wright House Crystal Bridges

In addition to the inside collection, Crystal Bridges also features more than 3.5 miles of outdoor walking trails with art along the way and a Frank Lloyd Wright house that was moved to the area from New Jersey after being repeatedly flooded in its original location. 45,000 school children visit the museum each year!

Peel Mansion

Built in 1875, the Italianate Villa Style Peel Mansion is fun step back in history. I love touring restored buildings to see how people used to live, and this free tour does not disappoint. From fun stairwells to period furniture and a lovely garden, I really enjoyed walking around the Peel Mansion and learning about the family that built the house. The Peel Mansion is home to many special events and is available for rent as well.

Museum of Native American History

The Museum of Native American History (MONAH) currently houses over 10,000 of the finest Native American artifacts. I am so glad we stopped by for a visit. This musuem is another free place to visit in Bentonville and will be a big hit with anyone who is fascinated by Native American history. I know my kids would love to hunt for arrowheads in the rock garden out front. I saw so many artifacts that I have never seen before. the Museum of Native American History is a must on your trip to Bentonville!

Bentonville Square

Full of cute shops, coffee shops and the Walmart Museum, the Bentonville Square is a fun place to spend a few hours. I loved browsing through the shops and searching for murals. You could spend the whole day here, eating, drinking, and browsing your way down the cute streets!

With so many good things to eat, such rich educational opportunities and a lot of free things to do as well, Bentonville has just the right mix for families looking for a fun weekend getaway or cuoples needing a romantic getaway. What are you waiting? Head on out to Bentonville and prepare to be wowed!

Many thanks to Visit Bentonville for this fun trip. I learned so much about the area and even think I could live in this beautiful town. It has just the right mix of culture, arts, and food! To learn more about Bentonville, please visit here.

Have you been to Bentonville? What was your favorite part?

Amazing Solstice Rituals – the Waldorf Solstice Spiral

Looking for amazing winter solstice rituals for your family or homeschool? Here’s how to host a Waldorf Solstice Spiral with your homeschool or family to celebrate the return of light.Waldorf-Winter-Solstice-Spiral-featured_

*This post is republished from 2015. We no longer homeschool, but the amazing solstice rituals like this Waldorf Solstice Sprial remain one of my favorite homeschool activities ever.

Celebrate Winter with a Waldorf Solstice Spiral

The Waldorf Solstice Spiral is an annual tradition in our homeschool. It’s a wonderful way to teach kids about the longest day of the year and it’s a fun activity everyone enjoys as we welcome the return of light back into our dreary, short winter days. Here’s how we celebrate the winter solstice Waldorf style.

I first learned about Waldorf Homeschooling activities from my good friend Melanie from Many Hands House. She used to host amazing Waldorf Homeschool Days and the Solstice Spiral was one of my favorite activities. I was excited to take over the Solstice Spiral this year and host it myself for the first time. Since we moved out of the barn and into the Passive House, we have the perfect place to host this fun annual event – the barn where we used to live.

Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 - ring in the light from SimplifyLiveLove.comHere’s how to host your own Waldorf Solstice Spiral

If you’re interested in solemn winter solstice rituals, you’ll enjoy this one. The trickiest part about it is finding a safe place to house the spiral. Lit candles are involved, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t burn the house down if you host it inside. You could host it outside, if the weather cooperates. Or, you could set it up in a garage or barn like we did, if you don’t want to bring it indoors.

Once you decide on the location, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Pine boughs – I bought roughly 100 ft from Menards. The skinnier ones were half the price of the longer boughs so that’s what I bought. We ended up doubling them to make them look nice.
  • Yellow felt stars – one per child
  • Apples – one per child, hollowed out to hold a candle
  • Candles – one per child to put in each apple, plus a larger candle to light the apple lights from.
  • Animal figures, rocks, pine cones – to represent the animal, mineral, natural worlds placed around the spiral

How to Host the Most Amazing Solstice Rituals

Set the spiral ring up before hand. Place felt stars (one per child) along the path so children have a place to put their lit apple. Also place the figurines, rocks, and other items in the spiral. Darken the room by covering windows and turn out the lights. Explain to the children that they will light their candles and place them on a star in silence. Discuss the solstice and and the significance of starting (and ending) the spiral in darkness.

waiting in line for the solstice spiral

The room should be as dark as possible and the children line up first outside the room, littlest to biggest. The littlest children need to go first because there will be fewer lit candles for them to have to avoid.

Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 lighting a candle from SimplifyLiveLove.comThen, one by one, the children weave through the spiral with their apples and candles, light their candle, and then turn around and weave back through. At some point on their exit from the spiral, each child will find a star to place his or her candle on. Talking is not allowed, but soft music can play. Melanie always had someone playing a flute, but we did our spiral in silence.
Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 setting the lit candle down from SimplifyLiveLove.comObviously, younger children may need some help, and all children should be careful not to burn themselves. In all the years that we’ve been doing a solstice spiral, we’ve never had any issues.

Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 - silenting waiting for everyone to finish from SimplifyLiveLove.com

After each child lights his or her candle, they wait for everyone to finish. Then the children leave the room, still in silence. I’m always amazed at the reverence the children exhibit during the solstice spiral. They take it quite seriously and seem to enjoy it a lot.

The winter solstice spiral is one of my favorite homeschooling activities. I love that it represents the return of light – after the solstice the days start to get longer and the promise of spring is real. I look forward to the beauty of solemness of the winter solstice spiral all year.

If you’d like to see other Waldorf homeschooling posts, read these:

Dying play silks with kool-aid

Spring Wheat Baskets

How to host a Waldorf Solstice Spiral to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

 

Perfect Iowa Gifts from the Made in Iowa Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re looking for the perfect Iowa gifts – here you go! Look no further than this Made in Iowa Holiday Gift Guide with the perfect local made gifts for everyone on your list!

Iowa gifts made in Iowa

 

Perfect Iowa Gifts from the Made in Iowa Holiday Gift Guide

Let’s talk gift giving. When it comes to gift giving especially to the adults in my family, we have a couple criteria – locally made whenever possible and consumable gifts get bonus points. My family decided years ago that we didn’t really need more stuff or things so we decided we would buy local wherever we happened to live and then enjoy the consumable items together!

My husband and I moved our little family to Iowa in 2006 and I have lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. I don’t have the Iowa Native sticker on the back of my car, but I have birthed two babies in this state and we’re not going anywhere else for a while.

Still, it’s always an interesting answer when someone asks me where I’m from. My dad was in the Army Corps of Engineers and my husband was in the Air Force, so it’s safe to say I’ve lived pretty much all over the world: on three different continents and in seven different states. I started life on the West Coast, then moved to the South, then to Germany, to the Midwest, back to the West Coast, to Japan, to the West… and finally to Iowa. After living here almost 13 years, is it safe to say that I am from Iowa? Beats me. 😉

isabel bloom gnomes made in iowa gift guide

Made in Iowa Holiday Gift Guide Favorites

I guess it doesn’t really matter. I’m in Iowa now, and love it. So I’m thrilled to share an amazing holiday gift guide, just full of gifts that are locally made in Iowa! If you’re from Iowa originally, currently live in Iowa, or just happen to love 2018’s #1 state in the USA (ranked by the US News and World Report!), you need to check out a few of my favorite Iowa gift ideas and have them delivered straight to your house!

made-in-iowa-gift-guide-2018

Here are my favorite Iowa Gifts in 5 Different Categories

iowa toy rattleBabies and Kids – I don’t have babies anymore, but I think this wooden Iowa rattle is just adorable! Wooden toys seem so much more special to me than plastic toys. I think I’ve purged almost all the plastic toys we bought our kids over the years, but we’re saving many of the wooden toys for later.

isabel-bloom-snowman giftHome Goods – Funny story. When Dan and I first got married over TWENTY years ago, we were gifted several Isabel Bloom concrete sculptures. Iowans love to gift them because they’re locally made in Davenport and they’re unique. Well, I have to tell you, I thought they were the ugliest things. Twenty years later, and I’m singing a different tune. How cute is this little snowman? And the gnomes. I could wax on about the gnomes pictured above for a long time. Named Gnora and Gned, they are my favorite things!!

great river maple bourbon aged maple syrup

Food and Cooking – So I mentioned earlier that we often give consumable gifts to our family. Every year my husband and my brother-in-law give each other some type of locally made whiskey and my mother and sister and I usually give wine or chocolates or something totally decadent. This year I’m loving the chocolates and the Bourbon Aged Maple Syrup from Great River Maple.

reclaim Iowa made in iowa t-shirtNature Lovers – I’m totally a nature lover and we have the best nature. Amazing sunrises and sunsets, bald eagles, foxes, raccoons, and skunks! So pretty. As a nature lover, I love this Reclaim Iowa t-shirt. If someone wants to send it to me, I wear a size large. 😉

Madame Mary Bloody Mary MixFinally, Stocking Stuffers – Everyone needs stocking stuffers and Iowa has great items to fill all the stockings in your house. My favorites are the Madame Mary’s Bloody Mary Mix for the grown-ups and the all natural Pretty Balms by Root for the girls in your life! Can’t go wrong with either of those items.

To see all of these amazing Made in Iowa Holiday Gifts and so many more, head over to the list on Travel Iowa.

If you liked this post on the best Iowa gifts, you might like these too:

10 Easy & Frugal Homemade Gift Ideas

5 Minute Upcycled Succulent Garden Gift Idea

Fun Travel Experience Gift Your Family will Love

 

Simple Last Minute Holiday Tablescape + Thankful printable

If you’re looking for a simple last minute Thanksgiving tablescape, I have just the idea for you. Combine it with my free printable, and your Thanksgiving table is set! Thank you to Halos for sponsoring this post. All opinions are mine.

I'm thankful thanksgiving tablescape

Simple Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape + printable

Let’s get real. I am not one of those people who sets her table hours before events. In fact, I’m lucky if the table is set before the food is done. I’m also pretty frugal and don’t like to spend a lot of money things we don’t really need. However, the kids really like fancy meals sometimes so I’m excited to share this fun Thanksgiving Tablescape made with fresh materials and lots of items that can serve many purposes.

halos holiday centerpiece

If you need a last minute Thanksgiving Tablescape idea, I think you’ll like this one. Using all natural materials like fresh eucalyptus, Wonderful Halos, candles, burlap, and cheese cloth, you can set your table in no time! These ideas are perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even just a fancy dinner with the family!

Materials Needed for this Simple Thanksgiving Tablescape

To make this gorgeous holiday tablescape, all you need to do is put down the cheesecloth and then top with the wide burlap ribbon. Then place Wonderful Halos, fresh eucalyptus, and candles in the middle of the table. You can use a serving tray if you like, or simply put the items directly on the table.

thanksgiving table printable

After you set the table, make sure to include the Thanksgiving Thankful Printable at each place setting so everyone can reflect on their blessings this year!

Wonderful Halos Tower Table Centerpiece 3 (1)

To If you have some extra time, go for the wow factor with a fun Halos Tower Table Centerpiece! You can find the easy tutorial here. Isn’t it cute?? And the best part is, the kids can grab Halos mandarin for quick snack too.

About Wonderful Halos

We love Wonderful Halos at our house and they were recently named the number one most-loved healthy snack among both parents and kids in a 2018 Brand Love™ study. We love Halos mandarins because they are sweet, seedless and easy to peel – the perfect on the go quick snack. Wonderful Halos are available in produce aisles nationwide at grocery, mass and club retailers from November to May to grab some today!

Simple Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape

Now that you have a simple Thanksgiving Tablescape, you’ll need these recipes too!

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Parmesan, & Pinenuts

Pear and Pecan Salad with Parmesan Crisps

The Best Turkey – forget everything you knew about cooking a turkey!

How to Make a Turkey Pot Pie From Scratch

What do you think of this great tablescape idea? I hope you like it!