What Is Witchcraft

The Triple Goddess
Maiden, Mother, Crone

Let us travel down the rabbit hole and into the misunderstood mysterious world of Witchcraft. This can be a heated topic in some circles, so I may very well receive some backlash, but I felt it an important topic to discuss. If you were to ask a handful of witches this very question, your likely to walk away with a multitude of varying answers that will leave you more confused than you were when you first began. This is because witchcraft is a very personal path… Witchcraft has been around since the dawn of time and can be found in many cultures around the world and throughout history. Contrary to popular belief, witchcraft is not a religion; rather a spiritual practice that may or may not be a part of a person’s religious faith. It is a pre-Christian practice of “Free Thinking” and understanding nature and all its power.

It used to be that witches were thought to be only women, men were called something else entirely (wizards, sage’s, sorcerers, wise men). Witchcraft itself is gender neutral and does not discern the difference between man or woman. Eons ago, witches were seen as nurturers and healers, revered and often sought after for their knowledge and skills; having the ability to heal the sick and diseased, to assisting with the birth of children among other things. Later they were persecuted and condemned for that very knowledge. Christianity usually gets a bad rap for this, moreover, it is my belief that it began long before “The Malleus Maleficarum”, also known as the “Hammer of Witches”. This is the best known and the most important treatise on witchcraft. It was written by the discredited Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer and first published in the German city of Speyer in 1487 leading up to the witch hunt that leads to what we know as the “Burning Times” when many witches were burned at the stake or worse. Even before Christianity firmly took root, witches were often set apart from their community, their very abilities that were often called upon, were also feared by the masses. Man tends to fear that which they do not or cannot understand or control, needing something or someone to blame for their misfortunes or plight. So what has changed? Witchcraft or the world around us… Your guess is as good as mine.

The vast majority of witches and magic practitioners derive their powers from the very energy found in their environment; using the natural elements around them, herbs, stones, and other natural objects. Some of us call upon the aid of deities or spiritual guides, others do not. In short, Witchcraft is a neutral practice (neither good nor evil) where a person uses magic to manipulate energy with the intentions of bringing about change to manifest the desired outcome. This was often achieved through the use of rituals, spells, and incantations, however, you do not need to engage in rituals or cast spells to be able to perform magical acts or to be a witch.

“Witchcraft is about personal transformation; it is death and rebirth, power and belief, dedicated and active, adaptable and messy.”

Witchcraft isn’t all about pointy hats and flying brooms’

Witchcraft isn’t all about pointy hats, black cats and flying brooms, although to fly on a broom would be rather cool. There are hours spent on reading and research, communing with our ancestors, deities or other spirit guides. Dirt under our nails and scraps on our knees from foraging in nature for the very items we need or simply tending the herbs that will later be used in our many tinctures, oils, and sachets. I don’t know about you… but dealing with tree sap, blood, bone and the many herbs that need to be crushed and blended is definitely messy work.

In all my research and years of being a witch, I have found that there is a lot of controversy over what is actually needed to practice witchcraft. Let me clear this up, You DO NOT need to spend money on specialized ritual tools or have an assortment of every color known to man for candles etc. Yes, fancy robes, embellished wands and silver chalices studded with crystals and jewels are nice to look at and may even help the witch who uses them but they are not nor will they ever be needed. You are not going to find any of those fancy things in my craft. My herbal apothecary is not filled to the brim with an eye of newt and tongue of dog (just to name a few) or 20 different essential oils and incense that I may never use.

Mortar & Pestle

The basics for me work just fine and you’ll come to find out that many herbs, oils, and incense are quite versatile… Does that make me any less of a witch or my craft any less powerful than the witch who has everything? The answer is NO! That does not mean that the witch that uses those very types of tools are any less real either, all that it means is that they just happen to have the money to spend on them or that it’s just apart of their quirky character and that’s fine too. My point is this, witchcraft and magic are all in your intentions and the “Will” that you put behind it. The “tools”, are just that… Tools… They are an extension of myself…  Trinkets and baubles that I have personally infused with emotional, mental and spiritual energies to help aid me in the manifestations of my own personal desires. Don’t be fooled… Magic and witchcraft, no matter how you look at it is very personal and all about Desire… The desire to heal, to transform, create or destroy.

“Where there is Will, there is always a way… Without Will, the way remains forever closed”

No matter what, witchcraft is a personal path, shaped by our own intentions. There is no right or wrong way to practice, so respect yourself and do the research. Learning from other witches is essential and can be beneficial, but only you can decide which winding path to take or where your journey will end, so find what works best for you.

Brightest Blessings to the aspiring witchling and Happy Crafting

Annie

Celebrating the Season

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Gahhh! It’s starting to look a lot like winter here in my neck of the woods and the holiday season is fast upon us. In my house, this means lots of baking and crafting projects for gift giving and holiday decor. Over the next few weeks, it’s going to be a busy time in Annie’s kitchen, full of family and friends coming together for one universal purpose… To spread love and holiday cheer! No matter your cultural or religious beliefs all are welcome to come and feast, enjoy the crafts and the many treats, but most of all the joy of one another’s company.

The Winter Solstice is a time of celebration for many people around the world, herald in with festivals, gatherings, and rituals among other celebrations around that time. The one belief that all have seemed to hold to, is that it is a time of rebirth and the returning of the sun when darkness turns to light. Officially the first day of winter occurs on the longest night of the year, meaning that the cold days of winter grow longer after the Winter Solstice until the arrival of the Summer Solstice. This was also the time when the many wines, mead, and beer that had been made throughout the year were finally fermented and ready to drink and the livestock slaughtered allowing for a plentiful supply of fresh meat. Today there isn’t much cause for the mass slaughter of livestock or having to wait for libations as we merely need to visit our local grocer for our basic wants and needs.

Some of the many craft projects I will be doing this year with my grandchildren are the very traditions I passed onto my children, the making of Christmas Spice potpourri, pomanders, and dried fruit garland. We cannot forget our animal friends… The winter months can be harsh for them as well, so we like to make pine cone feeders using the many leftovers from our crafting projects to feed the local wildlife.

Crafting Projects

~ Christmas Spice Potpourri will have your home smelling delicious and inviting with its warm and spicy scent

You will need:

  • Dried Orange and Apple slices (These can be purchased at the store or you can choose to make your own, the directions on how to do so, will be in the instructions below)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries 
  • 3-6 cinnamon sticks
  • A handful of star anise
  • 3-6 whole bay leaves
  • Fresh or dried sprigs of rosemary
  • Orange Oil (optional)
  • Clove Oil (optional)

Instructions:

If you choose to make your own dried orange or apple slices you will need 2 of each, orange and apples depending on the amount of potpourri you will be making. With a sharp knife, cut them into 1/4 inch slices widthwise and place them onto a clean dish towel, removing all the seeds. Using a separate towel lay directly on top of orange slices and firmly press down to absorb as much liquid as possible. After you have done this step, transfer the slices to a baking rack placed onto a cookie sheet to allow for proper air flow when drying (Tip: line cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup). Set your oven to its lowest setting, around 170°F for about  2 hours or until completely dry.

In a medium to large bowl add all of your dry ingredients together and then add 15-20 drops each of orange and clove oil.  Mix the potpourri well with a spoon and store in an airtight container. This can also be given as a great gift by placing portions into cellophane bags tied shut with raphia or ribbon with a festive gift tag. Use dried, placed in glass bowls around the house or you can use in a potpourri burner by adding a small amount of water with the potpourri.

~ Pomanders

This delightfully easy craft project is great for kids, with a spicy citrus scent it makes for a wonderful ornament or Christmas decoration.

You will need:

  • Oranges the more the merrier
  • Assortment of ribbons
  • Whole cloves
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • Hot glue gun w/gluesticks (supervision is advised, keep out of reach of small children)

Christmas Ball Ornaments~

Step One: Take your ribbon and wrap around the orange, leaving enough ribbon that you can tie and make a loop for hanging. Using your glue gun, you can affix the ribbon to the top of orange for added stability and keep in place.  Repeat process around the other side of the orange leaving enough length of ribbon to tie a bow.

Step Two: Using the whole cloves push into the rind of orange between the ribbons. You can even get creative and outline the sides of ribbon with the cloves. 

This is a great time for you and your kiddos to use those wonderful imaginations, carve designs into the rinds with a paring knife or just use the cloves to make your designs. Anything goes, have fun with it!

~ Dried Fruit Garland

You will need:

  • Spool of string
  • Large upholstery needle
  • Dried Fruit (this is a great time to make use of those dried oranges and apples you made for the Christmas Spice Potpourri)

Instructions:

Thread an upholstery needle with the string and begin pushing it through the dried fruit in variations (slice of apple, couple dried cranberries, slice of orange), continue until you have reached your desired length of garland. 

You can use this garland just about anywhere to give your home an added holiday touch. Let us not forget our animal friends… You can take a few strings of garland and hang from trees outside to help feed the local wildlife through winter. After all, they deserve a Christmas treat too.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

You will Need:

  • Pine cones
  • Spool of string
  • Wild bird seed
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Butter knife or spoon

Instructions:

Tie the string around the top of pine cone leaving enough string to make a loop to hang. Using a butter knife or spoon coat the pine cone in peanut butter or honey and then roll it in bird seed. Have your kids hang the pine cones outside from your porch or tree for the birds this winter.

I hope you and your family have as much fun making these simple crafts as I do with mine. Have the happiest of holidays and remember to spread the holiday cheer.

Brightest Blessings,

Annie

Mystic Minds ~ Understanding The Five “Clair’s”

Do you BELIEVE in the power of the MIND?

images (2) (1)

Years ago psychic abilities were a “tabu” subject of conversation. If you believed in “psychics” or professed to have one or more of these abilities you were labeled “weird” or in more severe instances those people were hospitalized. Today, however, more people are opening up to the possibilities and embracing and sharing their beliefs, which is what lead me on a scavenger hunt recently to find everything that I have gathered over the years on the subject of the “Clairs”, and there is a VAST amount of information out there for those who are inclined to do the research, but for this post, I’ll keep it to the basics. 

The prefix Clair comes from the French word clair meaning “clear”. Everyone at some point has experienced Clair abilities, most chalk it up to “good luck”, Deja Vu or their “guardian angel”.

Traveling home from work or from running errands, you hear a “voice” tell you to “take the next exit”, only your alone in the vehicle. Upon reaching home you find out that had you stayed your normal course you could have been involved in the 5 car pile up that happened mere minutes after you had taken the exit you heard.
The mom or dad hearing their child say “mommy or daddy”, knowing that their child is not home, in fact, they are blocks if not miles away at a friend or family members house and when calling to check on their child soon after, finding that their child was sick or had a nightmare.
Having a dream or vision of losing someone dear to you and then receiving a phone call the next day, if not hours later, telling you that person had passed away and describing in exact details of how it had happened in your dream. These are just some many examples that I have personally experienced.

Intuition is a Gift, we all have, some people are just more in tune with their abilities than most, while others ignore them altogether. Most people are naturally stronger in one of the Five Clair’s than the other Clair abilities, however, everyone can improve their intuition. Be patient, your intuition can grow exponentially over time.

The key is utilizing the five main pathways our intuition uses to communicate with us, known as the Five Clairs: (Not to be confused with mental disorders, such as psychotic disorders, schizophrenia, paranoid delusions, if you feel that you are experiencing any of these please seek the help of a medical professional for further diagnosis and treatment.)

  • Clairaudience (hearing voices) a psychic ability that allows you to receive intuitive messages from your Higher Self or Spiritual Helpers (Angels, Spirits, Deities) through hearing. This most usually is heard internally (in your head) as a calm and subtle voice, almost like talking to yourself and can come in the form of music, words or other sounds that may have symbolic or literal meaning and at times can even be heard externally even though there is no source to prompt such sounds. 
  • Clairvoyance (seeing images) An “Inner Seeing” psychic ability received through visions or visual impressions that may not be apparent to others. This intuitive sense can be very subtle for example visions can come in the form of signs, symbols or colors, but it can also be more forceful, visions coming to you in vivid flashes like a dream or playing a pictograph in your mind’s eye (with or without sound) Learn to pay more attention to images that just seem to randomly pop into your head. There may be more to those images than meets the eye. Over time you will learn to discern these images from the normal run of the mill thoughts or ideas.
  • Clairsentience (recognizing feelings) More commonly known as “Psychic Empathy” (not to be mistaken with the human emotion empathy) is the most common of the Five Clairs… Our “gut instinct”, being able to read a person’s emotions or the energy field (aura) around them by picking up on non-verbal and non-visual cues, that another person is feeling pain, fear or joy.
  • Claircognizance (knowing) The ability to know certain things without having prior knowledge or any way to prove said knowledge as fact, the information is just there your mind as a thought, leaving you with a strong sense of “Knowing”, beyond all sense of logic. Your intuition is always listening, so the next time you are stumped over a problem or direction to take, silently ask your intuition to guide you. You may be surprised at the answers you receive.
  • Clairtangency (clear touch/ psychic touch or psychometry) This particular ability actually requires the person to have physical contact.  It is the ability to receive a psychic impression through physical touch. The person usually receives this information when they touch an inanimate object such as a doorknob or piece of jewelry. The word “psychometry” literally means “measuring the soul”, and was first used by Joseph Rodes Buchanan in 1842. It’s based on the theory that everyone leaves a vibration or resonance on objects they handle. He believed that people leave behind a residue of energy on everything they have had physical contact with. This ability has practical applications specifically in the area of crime. Psychics have been beneficial in aiding local law enforcement for decades, however, any impressions received are inadmissible in court without the factual evidence to back them up. You can use this ability to sense past emotional vibrations or energy (a dangerous alley to steer clear of or when purchasing an expensive antique piece of furniture or jewelry) allowing you the opportunity to stay clear of certain areas or situations.

Ways to improve your psychic abilities:PsychicPowers

A very simple way of honing your psychic abilities is to be mindful of your physical senses. Your strongest psychic sense will usually be your strongest physical sense. So take time to really experience the world around you on a regular basis. A great way to exercise these five senses is to stand or sit with your eyes closed in the beginning. (whichever way you are most comfortable) I use this method because our eyes often deceive us. Using your other senses, absorb the smells, sounds, taste and textures around you. After processing all the information your other senses have collected, open your eyes and take in the sights around you. Later, try recalling all of the sensory information and recreating it in your mind down to the finest detail.

Remember, “Believing is Seeing”, “Seeing isn’t Believing”. You need to believe in yourself! There is no room for doubt or negative thoughts. Allow yourself to trust in your own natural abilities.

Just Breathe… You need to find a point of relaxation, whether through meditation, yoga etc. Raising your body’s vibration is an important aspect of developing your psychic abilities. This is because spiritual energy vibrates at a higher frequency. As time passes, you will begin to feel an increased connection to your Higher Self, Spirit, and others’ energy. If you are under too much stress your ability to focus on messages being sent are going to be muffled or blocked altogether.

Get rid of personal drama! You cannot find peace with yourself and those around you when there is constant conflict and everything is chaotic. You need a clear head…

Paranormal phenomena and psychic messages can be a bit scary. Do not fear your gifts, instead acknowledge and embrace them. Fear hinders your abilities more than any amount of negative thinking and denial is never good when trying to develop your skills.No one knows everything. Join a psychic development group or workshop, working closely with others who have strong intuitive senses or even just reading about psychic development and intuition actually opens up your own intuition.

Make use of a symbol journal to keep track of all your intuitive feelings and impressions you receive. Often, these psychic impressions will come to you in a number of ways, whether through symbols or even through a few lyrics to a song.  Writing them down will make it easier to recognize them and their meaning in the future.

Visit an antique store, these stores are full of all sorts of different energies. Handle objects while there and concentrate on the energy around them. Are the energies your sensing heavy with sadness or joyful? You may even be able to pick up on a name or even receive a vision of an event, for example when holding a wedding ring you may be able to “see” the actual event of the bride and groom exchanging rings.

Pay attention to your dreams. Our dreams help us to understand the world, paying attention to them is critical when trying to get in touch with your “inner voice” or “Higher Self”

The age-old adages, “Practice makes perfect”, and “Try, try again”, should be added into your daily mantras. The more you use your gifts, the easier it will be and the clearer those messages will be received. You are in a sense training your mind to do new things, practicing often is important and will allow these skills to become second nature to you. Remember to be patient with yourself! We all had to learn to crawl before we could walk and run. With a little practice, you’ll be well on your way towards increasing your psychic ability.

When developing your skills, you may find that you have to be more mindful of your surroundings especially when in large crowds or around people who are very emotional, as you are more apt to pick up on the energy from outside sources, causing a major sensory overload of energies not your own, leaving you feeling suffocated and overwhelmed.

Experiment and have fun!

I hope this post has been enlightening and better explains the wonderful world of “Mystic Minds”. If you have had your own personal experience with psychic phenomena I’d love to hear about.

Brightest of Blessings,

Annie

Mindfulness… Finding Yourself Through All The Chaos

With all the hustle and bustle going on each day, we can often feel like we are living in a never-ending state of chaos, leaving little time for ourselves. This way of living will eventually have you ending up with a major case of sensory overload, completely burnt out and on the verge of an emotional/mental breakdown or worse. At some point, your mind and body are just going to say, “NOPE, not happening today”.

Think back… When was the last time you did something for yourself, just for you, because you could?? I get it… When do you have the time?? The point is, everyone NEEDS… ME TIME!! Take time out for yourself, to care for your own mind, body, and spirit, and put YOU first! It’s great that you want to show love and compassion to others, helping them through whatever crisis that they are going through; whether it’s helping your friend through an emotional break-up, lending a hand caring for a sick or elderly loved one or just running errands that need done everyday, time is on short supply… Loving yourself and putting yourself first lets everyone else know that YOU MATTER, otherwise, you are just merely existing.  See my article The Art of Loving Yourself

Take a step back and seriously ask yourself… What is it that YOU want to do with your life? Not what you need, although that is important. We tend to make sure we have and do what’s needed while forgoing the very things that bring us JOY and TRUE HAPPINESS.

~ Daily Affirmations

Be Kind to yourself… Start your day off right by reciting an affirmation or two. They are positive statements that empower your conscious and subconscious self, helping to overcome self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors; paving the way to a happier, healthier you by allowing you to become more in tune with your own needs and desires.

Some examples of Affirmations you can use are:

  • I radiate grace, charm, and beauty
  • Happiness is within my grasp
  • My commitment to myself is real 
  • I am a beacon of love and compassion
  • My every desire is achievable
  • My body is a Temple, I will honor it
  • I have the courage to say, “NO”
  • My confidence knows no limits

~ Saying “Bye-bye”, to toxicity

If your constantly surrounded by negative people, their toxic mindset and behavior will eventually spread to you like the plague. Learn to say when “Enough is enough”, and walk away… Trust me, you will thank yourself in the end

~ Eat healthily and Exercise

More often than not, we really don’t pay much attention to the foods we are putting into our bodies, opting for fast food burgers because it’s convenient or a bag of chips here, a candy bar there.  Personally, I live on coffee 24/7! I know… It’s not exactly healthy, and I tell myself that it’s OK because its made of water. If you haven’t already figured it out, I am great at giving advice… However, following it… Now that is an entirely different matter, just ask my family.

Seriously though, our bodies are going to reflect what we choose to put into it and when… Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. You will find that by eating a healthy breakfast consisting of eggs, fresh fruit and a slice of whole wheat or whole grain toast that your memory recall is sharper, allowing for better concentration and you will have more energy throughout the day.

A weekly exercise routine, not only helps keep our bodies physically fit and healthy, but it has been proven to ease anxiety, reduce stress and improve your mood.   

~ Dating Yourself

I know, it sounds corny… but it actually works! Make a date with yourself, for yourself at least twice a month, you can even set it up on a bi-weekly schedule. Take up that art class you have always wanted to do but never had the courage, eat lunch at that cute little bistro on the corner, buy yourself those boots that you have talked yourself out of buying a gazillion times… Why?? Because YOU deserve it!!

Once you decide to start putting yourself first you will find that your whole outlook on life changes for the better.

Brightest Blessings,

Annie

Season of Hope

shutterstock_234929374-hope-key_header-e1470092961723This just happens to be a topic of discussion that is dear to me, for I have been where many families are right now; struggling to make ends meet, even if they have the help of their local government agencies. They often still struggle just to keep the lights on and a roof over their families head. Many are even less fortunate than that and are living on the street or under bridges, the local shelters full to maximum capacity. This time of year makes it even harder for those families, with cold days and even colder nights, faced with freezing temperatures with no hope in sight.


A few years back, the home I was renting was condemned right before Thanksgiving, and we were forced to have to move. At the time, I was the only one working and the little money I brought in was barely enough to keep my family in housing, the ever-growing waiting list for government housing at that point was no longer an option. Our family was torn apart in a matter of days. Our children were sent to live with family members, my youngest, separated from her siblings to live with her biological father. My husband and I had to arrange for transportation, using the last of the money we had (we had no vehicle of our own) to travel over two hours away from our children, to stay with his mother in a run-down trailer that she had bought on land contract earlier that year. The place wasn’t much to look at, it had no electricity or plumbing, but it was at least shelter. I began to call it “ Hillbilly Hell”! Our only form of heat was a tiny little wood burner (which also served as our way of cooking, I became pretty ingenuitive when it came to preparing meals). My mother-in-law survived on Social Security (a measly $1000  a month, not nearly enough after paying for rent and car payment on a car that most days barely ran), but we learned to make do. Our little piece of “Hell”, was an eight-mile walk to the nearest town, which consisted of a single gas station, a pizza shop and three… Yes, three churches… The town was so small it didn’t even have a post office, only a lonely postal box that sat on the corner of Main Street. Our nearest neighbor a three-mile walk. Jobs, as you can guess, were far and few between. 
I made candles to use for light when we had no money for gas to power our tiny generator. My husband and I would get up early to split and stack wood to help keep us warm, and to collect water from a stream that ran nearby. We used that tiny stream for everything; from drinking and cooking, washing our clothes and bathing. We spent a total of nine months living off the land; most days not knowing where our next meal would come from, fighting severe depression, missing our children, praying for strength and only having each other to see us through.  It wasn’t all bad though, winter turned to spring and then summer, as the Wheel of The Year usually does. We still had to split wood and collect water, tend the garden we had planted, etc. but after all chores were done we had plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings and be grateful for the little things. In the end, our trials served to bring my husband and me closer together, strengthening our relationship, teaching us hard lessons and the value of family.
Fast forward six years later… I can now look back on our adventure in “Hillbilly Hell”, and remember the joys we found, even when surrounded with hardship and despair. We still don’t have much, and still, struggle most days, but we have what truly matters, a lesson we learned the hard way. We still have each other and our growing family, which now includes 6 beautiful, precocious grandchildren. Blessings we cherish every day…

This year I decided to start “Project Jack Frost”, a non-profit campaign, working solely on the donations given by kind-hearted individuals within my community. My goal is to create care packages for the many homeless that are turned away from shelters every night, forced to spend their nights and days out in the freezing elements, with no hope for the future. This project is just now taking off the ground, however, with a little hope and a lot of hard work, each preceding year, our donations will grow and we can bring more HOPE to many more homeless.

YOU TOO can do your part in bringing HOPE back into your community! You can start by donating to your local charities; food banks and shelters are in short supply this time of year. Volunteer!!! Help serve food at your local soup kitchens, sort paperwork, answer phones etc., at your local shelters. Talk with Pastors from the churches in your neighborhood; ask them if they know of any families that might be struggling with making ends meet and prepare a food basket for them with Holiday-themed groceries (Pre-cooked turkey or ham, jar of gravy, boxed stuffing, canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, maybe even a mini pie from your bakery) and have it dropped off at their house. One Act of Kindness goes a long way! Start Today!!

I hope that your Holiday Season is magical and bright this year, surrounded by family, friends and good cheer.

Brightest Blessings,

Annie

From My Kitchen To Yours ~ 5 Fall Recipes, Your Family Is Sure To Love

If you are like me, getting your family to eat healthily is half the battle. Between sports, after-school programs, doctors appointments etc., we often forget to take time for each other. As much as a hassle as it seems, shutting off the TV, turning off the cell phones and sitting down with your family for dinner, not only increases communication, it also helps unify your family as a whole. Use this time to talk with each other about how their individual days went. If one of your family members seem to be struggling with something, this is a good time to offer positive advice and encouragement. (Note: sometimes we just need to feel like we are being heard and that our feelings matter. We don’t necessarily need advice. This can be especially hard for parents when dealing with teenagers to accept.)


These 5 recipes are perfect for chilly autumn nights, whether you are looking for the ultimate comfort food or looking to put some Pizzaz into your weeknight rotation.


Stuffed Pepper Soup

Ingredients:                      images (1) (2)

2 pounds ground beef
6 cups water
1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
undrained
2 cups chopped green peppers
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups cooked long grain rice
c
hopped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions:

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook and stir beef until no longer pink; drain. Stir in next eight ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add cooked rice; simmer uncovered 10 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Tip: Freeze leftovers after cooling in a gallon size freezer bag, lay flat in freezer to freeze (stores easier, saving room and thaws quicker).

Originally published as Stuffed Pepper Soup in Taste of Home October/November 1996

 

Cranberry-Stuffed Pork Loin

This sweet and savory twist on stuffed pork loins is sure to be a family treat

Ingredients:                              bd4b116344c7534424b2f78c0d35d22d

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 stalks celery, finely diced
3/4 cup chopped scallions
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2cups plain bread stuffing
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4-6 boneless ½ inch pork tenderloin cutlets
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and scallions and cook until slightly softened. Add the cranberries and sage and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the bread stuffing and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and the parsley and stir until the broth is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup walnuts. Wipe out the skillet.

Holding a knife parallel to the cutting board, cut a deep 3-inch-wide pocket into the side of each pork loin. Season both sides with salt and pepper and fill the pockets evenly with the stuffing. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork loin and cook until golden brown, 2 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth; reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until the pork loin is cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to plates.

Add the remaining 3/4 cup broth and the cream to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the pork loin.

The original recipe can be found on Food Network 

 

Sundried Tomato, Spinach, and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:                                                         61ebdcb42685dd6c0153dbaec4e45a05                      

4-6 large chicken breasts
3/4 cup Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade
(salt and pepper and olive oil would also work fine)
3/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1 cup roughly chopped spinach
1/2 cup feta cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Marinate the chicken breasts in the dressing for a few hours or if you are like me and pinched for time, I actually skipped this step and just doused them good before cooking.

Using a large sharp knife, carefully cut the chicken breasts in half without cutting all the way through. Open the chicken breasts up where you cut them and evenly layer on the remaining ingredients between the chicken breasts. It’s okay if you can’t fit all of it in, you can just leave some out. Just squish in as much as you can. Stick a couple of toothpicks near the opening to keep it all together.

Heat up a pan (I used a cast iron skillet) and sear the meat on both sides. You can lower the heat and continue cooking the meat on the stove until it’s done or, if you’re using a cast iron skillet, you can put the pan in the oven at about 375ºF. You could also just completely cook it in the oven on a baking sheet if you don’t feel like searing it. Just make sure you cook it until the center reaches 165ºF on a thermometer

 

Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie, You Pick...
Shepherd’s Pie is a classic comfort food with a delicious combo of ground beef or turkey that has been paired with a mix of colorful vegetables. It first came about in the early 1800s, when wives and mothers were trying to find ways to incorporate leftovers in order to be frugal without their husbands and children turning their noses up at it. Traditionally lamb was used, however, due to Americanization, the original recipe has been altered over the years.

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INGREDIENTS:                                                  

1 pound ground beef or turkey, (lamb if you are of a mind)
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
3 celery stalks thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups frozen peas and carrots mix defrosted
1 1/2 cups frozen corn defrosted
10 oz can mushroom soup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
1 cup cheddar cheese shredded (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cook turkey or beef, celery, onion and garlic over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat. Stir in soup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, basil, and pepper. Spread into the bottom of a 2 qt casserole dish. Spread your thawed vegetables over the meat. Spoon mashed potatoes over top and top with cheese. Baked 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese have melted.

Tip: For easy clean-up, line your casserole dish aluminum foil. This recipe is perfect for single servings as well, using foil liners, place in muffin tins and follow same instructions as above. Decrease baking time to 15-25 minutes. Tip: You can freeze the leftover single servings after cooling. Once frozen, place them in a freezer bag and then you have a hassle-free night later in the month. To reheat, preheat to 400°F oven, place back in a muffin tin and bake for 45 minutes.

 

Skillet Chicken With Shredded Cabbage and Apples

INGREDIENTS:                      IMG_20181103_145453

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium head cabbage cored and chopped
1 sliced apple
1/2 sliced red onion
1 Chopped Garlic Clove
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/3 c. chopped toasted pecans

INSTRUCTIONS:

Season chicken thighs with fresh thyme, and salt and black pepper. Cook in canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Add shredded cabbage, apple, red onion, and garlic clove to skillet. Cook, tossing until cabbage is tender and onion has softened 6-8 minutes. Stir in white balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Season to taste with Salt and black pepper. Return chicken to pan and top with toasted pecans.

I hope you and your family enjoy these delightful recipes as much as my family does.

Brightest Blessings,

Annie

 

 

Autumn In Full Swing

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Hello November… Yep, it’s that time of year again, where if you are like me, you’ll be running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to plan around your kids/grandkids school plays, the many fundraisers, Christmas bazaars, and family holiday celebrations. I don’t know about you but I find it exhausting! Don’t get me started on the ever-growing Christmas list!! When did the holidays become so commercialized?? Department stores are putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween has even passed us bye.  Have we as a society forgotten the true meaning of family and what it means to truly be thankful… And when did everything become so expensive? Kids today want $100 pairs of jeans, flat screen TVs, laptops and the ever popular game systems. When I was a kid, I can remember just being thankful for finding a Barbie doll amidst the many pairs of socks and underwear, or if I was really lucky, a new drawing set.

With all the running around and celebrations, many of us forget that this time of year a lot of people face seasonal depression, suicide rates around the world shy rocket, while hope plummets. The many homeless, face freezing weather, empty belly’s and nights without warm beds or the minimalist comforts that we take for granted; our many military service men and women (fathers, mothers, sons, daughters etc.), often fresh out of training are spending their days and nights far from their families, lets not forget the doctors, nurses, police officers and firefighters, all doing their jobs to keep us safe and well.

Over the next few days, I’ll be talking about great fall recipes, activities that will bringimages (3) your family together around the table, ways to give hope back to your community, as well as tips on fighting depression.

Remember this is the season of giving, slow down and appreciate the little things… Be thankful for what you have and the family that surrounds you…

Brightest Blessings

~Annie