Simple Montana Life

….charting my journey to a more self sufficient way of life….

Candy Cane White Hot Chocolate December 16, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Leah @ 9:08 pm

This is the first Christmas I have spent without my husband since we were married! He is working out of town and won’t be home for the holidays 😦 I put my Christmas tree up by myself last night and decorated it! Even though it is just me here, I can’t help but get into the holiday spirit! My poor “Charlie Brown-ish” Christmas tree doesn’t have a single gift underneath it, and the trunk was too small for the stand, so I had to stuff wash clothes around it to thicken it up! It is just plain pitiful, yet absolutely perfect!

But this Christmas I am reminded of something I already know, but that has become far more real this year. Christmas isn’t about giving or receiving “gifts”, hosting parties, or making sure you get your cards out in time. It isn’t about making sure your tree is perfect, getting lights on the house and decorations on the lawn. It’s about taking a moment to realize all the blessings in your life. All the amazing friends and family the Lord has placed in our lives, and the love we share. It is about showing God’s love to someone less fortunate.

So in these moments of quiet relaxation, I offer this sweet little recipe. Take a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the season, sip a cup of this, and think about the things that are really important this holiday season.

Candy Cane White Hot Chocolate

3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups half and half
1/4 milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
Candy canes (stir stick and decorations)

Mix the heavy cream and white chocolate chips in a pan over medium heat until melted. Add other ingredients and stir until warm. Garnish with candy cane and enjoy!

Happy Holidays to you and yours! God Bless!


Winter Lentil Soup December 14, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Leah @ 7:44 pm

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is snuggling up in a warm home, surrounded by people you love, listening to Christmas music and sharing a delicious meal! Problem is, I don’t like to repeat meals, so I am always looking for new recipes! In an effort to introduce the ever so popular “superfood” Kale into my diet, I ran across a recipe that I just had to try! And boy am I glad I did! This soup is a perfect addition to my collection of holiday recipes! This is one I just may want to repeat! Enjoy!

Winter Lentil Soup

1 TBSP olive oil
4 leeks (white and light green parts) cut into 1/4 inch thick half moons
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes (recipe says to drain them, but I did not!)
2 sweet potatoes (I had some regular potatoes to use up, so I substituted the sweet for regular! But sweet would be awesome!)
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 tbsp fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)


1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Ad the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes.

2. Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, kale, lentils, thyme, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes.

3. Spoon into bowls and top with the Parmesan.


Back to Basics Apple Corer/Slicer Review October 21, 2011

Filed under: Reviews — Leah @ 11:05 pm

I was given SO many apples this year!! I made batches of apple butter, apple jelly, apple pie filling and applesauce…..but I still had buckets of apples left!! My husband mentioned how much he loved dehydrated apples as a kid, so I thought I would give it a whirl.

Because the apples I had were not from the store, but rather from someones backyard, they were much smaller than you would find in the supermarket. I started using by peeling my batch of apples with a hand peeler (same one I use on carrots and potatoes and such!) Then I used my corer on them. The problem I found was that the corer I had left my apple in wedges, wedges to thick to use in a dehydrator. They need to be thin slices.

After looking at a video on youtube on dehydrating apples, I found the most wonderful tool! A Back to Basics Apple Corer/Slicer. The lady in the video said she had had hers for over 20 years!! I just knew it was going to be expensive as it was made out of cast iron! Much to my surprise, they are only around $20 on ebay or amazon! I ordered mine on ebay and it came in the mail today!! What a wonderful investment, and oh how much time it will save!! Here are some pictures of how quickly my apple dehydrating process went!

This little tool made the whole process incredibly easy! I am so glad I took the plunge and spent the $20! It has a suction bottom that attaches firmly to the countertop and removes just as easily. It also cleaned up incredibly easy! And best of all, it matches the bright red theme I have going in my kitchen! Wasn’t planned, but definitely an added bonus!


Family Cloth October 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah @ 6:28 pm

With just the two of us, my husband and I, in our household, I may just give this a try. It may sound a little far out there as far as frugal living goes, but why not try it right? It seems every review I have read had some hesitations at first, but in the end decided to continue with the “family cloth”. I will just have to round me up some washcloths and a designated place to put used ones, and give this a whirl. I will let you know what I think!


Franklin Springs DVD giveaway! October 5, 2011

Filed under: Giveaways — Leah @ 6:47 pm

Hey guys!! One of my all-time favorite homesteading blog’s is giving away a great dvd about homesteading!! Go check it out!


Homemade Creamy Tomato Basil Soup! September 18, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Leah @ 9:14 am

Summer is nearing an end here in Northwest Montana. The days are getting cooler and my garden is slowing down, but still has tons of fabulous fruits and veggies to harvest!

Growing up, I HATED tomatoes!! In my “old age”, it seems I can’t get enough of them! I have also found an out of control love for fresh basil. I put it in anything I possibly can! When I ran across a recipe on a homesteading blog that combined the two ingredients, I HAD to try it! My nieces and I made it the other night and we all loved it! If it can please an 8 and 9 year old, it has to be good! Right?

I found the recipe from ! You will fall in love with this dish! Especially this time of year! YUMMY! (I changed the recipe slightly from what Shaye has on her post. Here is what I did.

Homemade Tomato Basil Soup

You will need:
– 1 28 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes (You can also use tomatoes from your own harvest!! Woot Woot!)
– 12 oz. chicken broth
– 10 oz. water
– 2 tsp. sugar
– 1 small onion
– 4 cloves garlic
– 1 cup cream
– 1/3 cup fresh basil
– Pinch of salt
– Fresh pepper

Step One: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a soup pan. Then, dice up the onion and throw into the warm oil. Chop up 4 cloves of garlic and toss them in with the onions. Cook until just softened, maybe 5 minutes or so.

Step Two: Add the can of tomatoes to the pot, juice and all. Then, add the water, the chicken broth, and the sugar.

Step Three: Heat the soup up to a boil and then let it simmer for ten minutes.

Step Four: Add salt, pepper, and basil to the soup and puree. You can puree with an immersion blender, a regular blender, or a food processor. (Be sure to read the instructions for your blender or food processor for working with hot liquids)

Step Five: One the soup is nice and smooth, put it back on the stove and add the cream. I used about a cup. Warm the soup up again to the temperature of your liking.


Vegetable Soup/Stew Recipe September 11, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Leah @ 1:14 am

It is such a wonderful time of year.  Summer is winding down, fall is on it’s way, and the holidays are just around the corner.  One of the things I love the most is all the fresh veggies from my garden!  I have been canning all my fresh produce like a mad woman!  It seems to all be ready to harvest around the same time (may need to do a little better planning in that area for next year!)  But as I was canning some Apple Pie Filling this afternoon, and looking around at all the fresh vegetables lying on my counter, waiting to be washed, I thought I would make a little late summer vegetable soup with what I had lying around!  I really just made this up on the fly, but it turned out fabulous, so I thought I would share!

1 lb stew meat (can be beef or venison, just cut into cubes)

3 cups water

1 can beef broth

1 packet beefy onion soup mix

1 can whole corn     *I used fresh, but trying to give you an idea of measurements*

1 can green beans   *I used fresh, but trying to give you an idea of measurements*

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 cup chopped celery

2-3 chopped carrots

4-5 average sized red potatoes cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

I just put it all in the crock pot on high for about 4 hours!  Turned out wonderfully!!  If you are not typically a fan of venison/wild game, recipes like this may be what you need.  Adding the beef soup mix and beef broth take away from the wild game taste.  Also, rinsing your venison well before cooking helps with the “game-y” taste as well!