Christmas in a Jar

If you still need to do some last minute Christmas gifting, this one is fun, simple, and affordable. This is perfect if you’re on a student budget. It also made for a really fun night with my friend, Lauresa!

There are many recipes online… we decided on a veggie bean soup recipe, but there are cookie and dessert ones too.


For your loved ones without weird diets 😉

Our recipe:



Much thanks to Cassie Johnston at :  
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: None
Makes: 4 Jars
• 1 pound pinto beans
• 1 pound split green peas (or green lentils)
• 1 pound great northern beans
• 1 pound black beans
• 1 pound kidney beans
• 1 tablespoon black pepper
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• 1 tablespoon dry mustard
• 2 tablespoons dehydrated onions (found in the spice aisle)
• 2 tablespoons sea salt
• 2 tablespoons garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 8 bay leaves
• 4 vegetable bouillon cubes
• 4 clear quart Mason jars plus lids and rings
• Parchment paper
• Tape or stickers
• Labels
• Fabric and ribbon to cover top
1. In each of the four Mason jars, layer 2/3 cup of pinto beans—shaking the jar gently to level the beans. Then repeat with 2/3 cup of green peas and so on ending with the kidney beans. Set jars aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine all remaining spices except bay leaves and bouillon cubes.
3. On a 10″ x 10″ piece of parchment paper, spoon 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture in the middle. Place two bay leaves and one bouillon cube on top. Fold parchment around spices to make a small spice packet. Seal with tape or stickers. Repeat three more times to create four total packets. Squish the packets into the top space of each of the four bean jars. You can also package the spices into plastic zip-top baggies if you prefer.
4. Place lids on jars, cover in fabric and ribbon and label as desired.
Remove the spice packet from the jar and set aside. Rinse beans and place in a large stock pot. Cover by 1” of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for one minute. Remove from heat, cover, and let soak for one hour. Drain and rinse beans. Return beans to the pot, add in spice packet, 1-15 OZ CAN OF DICED TOMATOES AND 5 CUPS OF WATER. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer for 1-1/1-2 hours until beans are very tender and soup is thick. Serve with a bug hunk of crusty bread. Enjoy!


Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!


Bon Appetite!

Bonjour! It has been too long since I’ve posted. I’ll blame that on papers, homework, and children in general (but absolutely worth becoming a teacher someday). Summer break has finally come! A glorious week of sleeping in, getting sun kissed, laughing with friends, Netflix, and naps. And trying some new recipes, of course!

Since I last made Ratatouille, I’ve decided to experiment. I’ve combined two new recipes– a simple and a Parisian Chef’s version– into a sort of American-French hybrid. The sauce and flavor turned out amazing! So if you are looking for a relatively simple version of Ratatouille with authentic French flair, then you’ve come to the right place.

And did I mention that it’s Paleo/GAPS friendly?


Disney’s Ratatouille Recipe–

Cooking with Kurt-

How to chop eggplant (because let’s be real, chopping veggies can be confusing) –



  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 small eggplant, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 tomatos, thinly sliced


  • 1/4 cup minced garlic OR small handful of fresh basil, chopped (I’ve been having trouble with garlic lately, but found basil to be a delicious alternative)
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil  (1 at beginning, 3 tbl at end- or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or to taste

PREP-45 min
Cook- 45 min
Ready In 1 h 30 m
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F 


PART ONE: Preparing the sauce

  1. Chop 2 carrots and cook in a large pan with oil.
  2. Meanwhile: Optional- for a nice smoky flavor, turn the red and yellow peppers over the stove until they are crispy on the outside (see youtube video above). Then set peppers aside to cool.
  3. While the carrots are cooking and peppers are cooling, begin to chop the other ingredients: onion, tomato, eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini. You want THIN slices.
  4. Once carrots are looking tender, you’ll want to add the chopped red and yellow pepper to the pan. If you have smoked the peppers, removed the charred outer layer before chopping. Let the carrots and pepper sizzle together for several minutes or until softened.
  5. Next, toss in the onion. Stir and let sizzle for a couple minutes.
  6. Now add your tomato paste, basil/garlic, water, salt &pepper, and extra olive oil. You want a sauce that is thick and creamy but not chunky or watery. (See pictures sauce right before I added a couple tbl of water)
  7. Once everything has simmered for 5-10 minutes and the vegetables look tender, set aside to cool. (If you want to speed up this process, pour into a bowl and cool for 5-10 minutes in the fridge/freezer.)

PART TWO: Preparing the pan & creaming the sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and oil the bottom of a 10×10 pan.
  2. Make sure the rest of your vegetables are sliced and ready to go: the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and tomato.
  3. Now that your sauce has cooled, pour it into a blender or a food processor. Blend until creamy. It should have a sweet and slightly smoky/spicy flavor…yum! I think it’s the sauce that really makes or breaks Ratatouille.
  4. Pour the sauce into the pan, spread evenly. Dash on a bit of salt and red pepper.
  5. Now you can begin making your rainbow. Arrange alternating slices of eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomato, starting at the outer edge of the dish and working concentrically towards the center. Overlap the slices a little to display the colors.
  6. Drizzle the vegetables with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with thyme leaves.
  7. Cover with foil. Bake in the preheated oven until vegetables are roasted and tender, about 30- 45 minutes. This will be even faster in a toaster oven.
  8. If you’re able to eat dairy, serve with dollops of mascarpone cheese.


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Easy Bake Breakfast

I’m so excited to be beginning grad school in just a couple weeks! It certainly adds to the food prep stress though. I’m searching for new strategies to make snacks and meals easier.

Here is one success so far!

Easy Bake Mini Quiches- 

  • eggs, whipped
  • spices like: fresh basil, chives, oregano, pepper, etc
  • veggies/fruit of choice: onions, tomato, zucchini etc
  • meat of choice: bacon, ground beef, chicken, etc
  • cheese, if able

Proportions? Up to you! I chose to do 12 cup liners, so I used 10 whipped eggs, 3 oz ground beef, and 5 strips of bacon. I had enough to make a pie-size quiche as well. So you certainly could cut my number of ingredients in half for just 12 breakfast cups!

Also, I’d highly recommend plastic baking cups. They are reusable and easy to clean. They’ve saved me time and don’t cling to the quiche.

  • I liked to pre-cook the meat to soak up some of the grease, so it wouldn’t get in the quiche. Your choice though.
  • I added maybe 1/4 cup of meat on the bottom with veggies and poured the egg mix over.
  • Bake for 20-30 min at 350 F or until toasty golden color and bubbling.

Merry breakfast-ing!



Mom’s Cinnamon Black Bean Soup

I can’t get enough of cinnamon right now. Enjoy this simple and flavorful recipe! Great for a rainy day.

th Serves 3-4


Chop and saute together in a med-sized pot with oil until clear and soft

1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery             (I prefer sweet or red onion)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

Next, add these 3 ingredients into the pot:

2 cups of water or broth

1 cup of plain tomato sauce

1 can of drained black beans

Simmer for 10 minutes. Then you may blend into creamy texture as desired.

Wonderful with avocado sliced on top & a side of potato!

photo courtesy & benefits of cinnamon @ Savor It:

Zucchini Stir Fry

My favorite nanny experience this week: hiding peas in the one year old’s yogurt. I had deceived him until halfway through lunch, when he suddenly stared at me with a look of betrayal/horror. He reached slowly for his mouth and pulled out the yucky green substance. Hopefully I haven’t ruined his faith in humankind. Vegetables can really only be eaten undercover, though I’m trying to break away from their reputation in my own cooking.

Here’s the first stir fry I’ll post (more likely to come). I liked how this turned out! Has a pleasant, sweet taste with onions and zucchini, and a little garlic zest for pep. I also cheese sprinkled on top, and a little side of avocado.



1 zucchini

1 small, yellow/sweet onion

3-4 large spinach leaves

Approx 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds

Tbl garlic (minced)

salt, pepper & basil as desired

olive oil and/or butter

I began with the chopped onions and garlic, letting them sizzle until sweet and tender  (low-med heat) in butter and olive oil. (Apparently olive oil gets rancid when hot, so I try to keep it on the down low when possible)

Then I peeled off strips of the zucchini skin, leaving decorative lines (which really doesn’t matter for taste). Sliced them into half circle pieces. Added pumpkin seeds.



Then the spinach!



That’s it!