Pumpkin Spiced Muffins Recipe (In celebration of my favorite season!)

By Victoria Osborn, Contributing Writing

The last few months of the year of my favorite. Fall, right through the holiday season, is filled with so many wonderful family activities, crisp cool weather, traditions and comforting treats.

After a long, hot summer the chilly temperatures are always a welcome relief along with all the warm and delicious comfort foods and treats the fall season brings.

For me one of the best things about fall is the pumpkins. Long before I was a fan of eating them, I always loved spending the time picking out the perfect, plump and orange gourd at the pumpkin stand. I have so many special memories of carving or painting pumpkins from my childhood.

Pumpkin muffins 3

As I grew older I realized pumpkins are for so much more than for decorating, they are really tasty and serve as a base for so many fall treats.

I’m pretty sure pumpkin flavors have grown in popularity over recent years because it’s hard to not find tons of pumpkin themed treats and foods in the grocery store this season. A simple search on Pinterest and you will find tons of pumpkin recipes, and not just sweet treats either. Our family favorite savory pumpkin dishes include Pumpkin Mac and Cheese and Harvest Chili.

Of course no fall season would be complete without its fair share of sweet treats and baked goods which is why we absolutely love these pumpkin spiced muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins 2

They are a cross between pumpkin bread and pumpkin cupcakes, sweet but not to sweet and definitely yummy, finger licking good!

Pretty much every Saturday in the fall (and into the winter too because they are good year round if you can get your hands on some pumpkin puree) I make a batch of these pumpkin muffins and if I don’t double the recipe, they will be gone by mid-week!

My kids ask for a pumpkin muffin with breakfast, after lunch and sometimes even with dinner… my husband and I have to be diligent about eating our share too! The are perfect with a warm cup of coffee on a chilly fall morning.

Pumpkin muffins 1

One of the best things about them is their sweet and crunchy top made with a little bit of brown sugar mixed with olive oil. When they bake in the oven, the brown sugar crumbles turn into sweet and crunchy magic.

The recipe is pretty adaptable too. My family has an egg allergy so I use 1 tablespoon of ground flax mill mixed with 3 tablespoons of water to substitute for one egg. We also have a nut allergy too but on the very rare occasions I make these just for me (which honestly was before I had kids if I’m being honest), I would mix some chopped pecans or almonds in with the batter.

Freezer TIP: The pumpkin muffins also freeze really well too so you could make a big batch one weekend and pull out muffins from the freezer to defrost when you needed them.


When you bake these your entire house will smell heavenly, just like Thanksgiving! Who needs to use air fresheners when you bake the perfect fall treats?

Not only are these pumpkin muffins a perfect fall treat for your family to enjoy, they make wonderful hospitality gifts to give your neighbors, a new mama or anyone who could use a little love from your kitchen.

Bake these muffins this weekend (or today!) ;) and enjoy a little bit of all the fall goodness!

Pumpkin muffins 4

3 Family Favorite Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

By Victoria Osborn, Contributing Writer

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh, delicious produce available in the grocery store or farmer’s market. It’s bright, colorful, flavorful and packed with nutrition. I love to stock up and pack most of my summer meals with fresh fruit and vegetables to make “lighter” meals to end the warm and lazy days of summer.

3 Family Favorite Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes 600x894

Somehow I have been blessed with two little ones who not only eat their vegetables, they love them! In fact 9 times out of 10, when giving them a snack choice, they make a healthy choice. I can’t complain, in fact it makes me think twice about the snack choice I’m making for myself!

Since my kids are both vegetable lovers, I am free to plan meals around a variety of fresh and in season produce. One of the ways I always get another serving of vegetables in is by serving a salad alongside with dinner. I also like to make big salads for myself for lunch.

I build the salad with whatever lettuce is plentiful along with some power greens, either spinach or kale, followed by tons of delicious add-ins to make the salad as colorful as possible. Currently my kids love eating grape tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers. My husband and I also love purple onions, radishes and celery. To make it a complete meal I might top it with sliced almonds, fresh berries, raisins or shredded chicken.

Strolling through the farmer’s market will tell you what vegetables are in season, so whenever I go I load up on a variety to not only make fresh, seasonal salads but also to serve as snacks or to roast and cook for dinner sides.

While the salad itself can be very nutritious, I love adding a little bit of dressing on top to give it even more flavor. The problem is most store bought dressings are loaded with sugar, soy and other questionable ingredients I can’t even pronounce. So I have started to make my own.

salad dressing recipes fresh produce

Contrary to popular opinion, making your own salad dressing is simple and a frugal alternative to the store bought variety.

Plus since you are making it, you know exactly what it is in it avoiding unhealthy ingredients you wouldn’t want to serve your family. I can easily whip up these dressings in no time for quick salad prep, in fact I often include the kids because what little one doesn’t love to shake things? Just make sure the lid is tightly sealed (ask me how I know!)

Today I wanted to share with you 3 family favorite, homemade salad dressing recipes that pair well with your favorite salad toppings and are tasty enough to please a crowd!

3 Family Favorite Homemade Salad Dressings

Simple Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • dash of salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients above in a small bowl or glass jar with a lid, and pour over the salad. This also makes a super simple and tasty marinate for chicken.

Easy Italian Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • dash of salt and pepper

Combine the oil and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk in the dried spices and mix well and transfer to a cruet or clear class jar with a tight fitting lid. This dressing can be stored in the refrigerator but due to the oil solidifying, it will need to come to room temperature by sitting out on the counter for about 30 minutes before use or being placed under warm running water. This also makes a delicious marinade for chicken and steak.

Simple, 3 Ingredient Blue Cheese Dressing

My favorite dressings are those that are oil and vinegar based but my husband loves a good tangy and creamy blue cheese dressing. This one is his personal favorite dressing, plus it couldn’t be any easier to make!

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Dash of black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and the pepper. Fold in the blue cheese crumbles and transfer to a cruet or glass jar with a lid. This will store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Another dressing variety we love is this Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing. It tastes just as delicious and creamy as a traditional Caesar dressing yet it’s light and perfect for summer since it’s an oil based dressing. Since it’s dairy free, it makes a great side for outdoor cookouts and picnics.

3 Family Favorite Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes 600 x 400

All three of these dressing recipes are my standard, go-to dressings that whip up in seconds and make a delicious, vegetable loaded salad even tastier.

What are your favorite homemade salad dressing recipes?

The Ultimate Roundup of Summer Recipes

By Ashley Roe, Contributing Writer

Once summer rolls around it can be easy to stop planning meals because you want to enjoy the nice weather. Or maybe you can’t figure what to make that won’t heat up the whole house. I get it and I’ve been there. That is why I searched far and wide to come up with this huge list of ideas for summer recipes. Within the list , you will find recipes for grilling, salads, slow cooker meals, refreshing beverages, tasty frozen treats and more! There’s over 150 recipes so there really is something for everyone.

The Ultimate Roundup of Summer Recipes

Image via www.lightstock.com


Grilling is a quintessential summer activity so you definitely need some great recipes to get try out on the grill. I found recipes for various types of chicken, beef, burgers, kabobs and even pizza.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Image via www.joyfulthriftyhome.com

Grilled Pizza

Quick Sausage Peppers and Onions

Grilled Honey Chicken and Veggie Kabobs

Grilled Island Chicken

Grilled Lime Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Barbecue Herb Grilled Chicken

Gourmet Hot Dogs

BBQ Bacon Chicken Kabobs

Classic Grilled Burgers

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Easy Homemade Burgers

BBQ Cocoa Chili Burger Patties

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Burgers

Honey and Ginger Marinated Flank Steak

Cumin and Oregano Beef Kabobs

Slow Cooker Meals

Having some slow cooker meal ideas ready for days you don’t want to use the oven during the summer is a must. Here are some easy yet delicious slow cooker meal ideas that scream summer.

crock pot recipes

Image via www.morguefile.com

Slow Cooker Ham and Swiss Frittata

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Black Berry BBQ Chicken

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken (freezer Friendly)

Creamy & Cheesy Crockpot Chicken and Rice

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Stacks

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken Tacos

Saucy Chicken

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Crock Pot Shredded Pork Lettuce Wraps

Slow Cooker Italian Beef

Sandwiches, Wraps and Other No Bake Meals

Sometimes you just want to throw together a sandwich or a quick meal on the stove-top. Check out these recipes for more great ideas for making a meal without the use of the oven.

20 Minute meal: chicken caeser wrap! yuuum!

Image via www.intentionalbygrace.com

BLT Wraps

Chicken Cesar Wraps

California Chicken Wraps

Fresh and Easy Chicken Salad

Homemade Black Bean Burger

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Summer Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto Penne

Sweet Paprika Chicken

Bell Pepper Chicken Burgers


Summertime just says fresh produce to me and salads are a great way to enjoy those fresh fruits and veggies. I’ve been wanting to find some new salad ideas so I can’t wait to dig into some of these soon.

Barbecue Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad

Image via www.joyfulthriftyhome.com

Broccoli Salad

Pasta Salads for a Crowd

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

Garlic Butter Pasta Salad

Sundried Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

Summer Couscous Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad

Antipasto Chicken Chopped Salad

Layered Salad

Crunchy Poppyseed Chicken Salad

Harvest Turkey Salad with Cherry Vinaigrette

Spring Greens with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Chopped Cobb Salad with Blue Cheese

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Southwestern Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Homemade Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

Southwestern Salad

Amazing Spinach Salad with Sweet-Spicy Nuts, Apples, Feta and Bacon

Balsamic Honey Grilled Steak Salad and Vinaigrette

Delectable Southwest Steak Fajita Salad

Barbecue Ranch Chicken Salad

California Cobb Strawberry Salad with Avocado Dressing

Strawberry Bacon Salad with Greek Yogurt Poppy Seed Dressing

Farro Salad

Appetizers and Side Dishes

A great barbecue or summer potluck needs some good appetizers or side dishes and this section has you covered there too!

Fruit Salad

Image via www.pixabay.com

Pineapple Mango Salad

Very Berry Avocado Salad

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

Creamy Five Cup Fruit Salad

Mixed Fruit with Lemon Basil Dressing

Summery Watermelon Salad

Roasted Potato Salad

Easy Healthy Homemade Potato Salad

Maple Baked Beans

Nourishing Baked Beans

Fire Roasted Bell Peppers

Greek Tzatziki Dip

Classic Coleslaew

Mango Salsa

Fresh Fruit with Honey Yogurt Dip

Super Summer Fruit Dip


It wouldn’t be summer without lots of ice cold refreshing beverages like tea, lemonade and smoothies. I even found a great looking recipe for cold brewed coffee so you can enjoy your favorite drink cold!

Nourishing Blueberry Banana Smoothie - Young Wifes Guide

Image via www.joyfulthriftyhome.com

Cold Brewed Coffee

Honey Sweetened Ginger Ale

Homemade Strawberry Soda

Ginger Lemon Mocktail

Summer Spritzers

Sun Tea

Herbs for Making Iced Tea

Iced Green Tea (like Starbucks)

DIY Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade

Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea

Raspberry Ginger Iced Green Tea

Hibiscus Strawberry Rhubarb Iced Tea

 Better Than Kool-Aide Herbal Tea

Berry Lemonade Kombucha

Strawberry Milk

Homemade Honey Sweetened Lemonade

DIY Lemonade Concentrate

Brazilian Lemonade

Homemade Sugar Free Lemonade

Citrus Water Punch

Homemade Flavored Waters

Creamy Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

Fresh Strawberry Lemonade

Raspberry Lime Rickey

Watermelon Limeade

Healthy Homemade Slushies

Strawberry Watermelon Slushy

Raspberry Lemonade Slushy

Homemade Electrolyte Sports Drink

Healthy Homemade Chocolate Frappe

Watermelon Frosty

Peach Orange Smoothie

Green Berry Protein Smoothie

Super Summer Smoothies

Green Tea Blueberry Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Kombucha Smoothie

Nourishing Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Frozen Treats 

Instead of running for the chime of the ice cream truck, try some of these delectable homemade frozen treats this summer.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Image via www.joyfulthriftyhome.com

Herb Infused Popsicles

Strawberry Creamscicle

Orange Coconut Creamscicles

Strawberry Cheesecake Popscicles

High C Herbal Ice Pops

Raspberry Coconut Popscicles

Watermelon Frozen Yogurt Pops

Mango Lassi & Strawberry Honey Yogurt Popscicles

Green Tea Smoothie Popscicles

Lemon Lime Frozen Yogurt Pops

Lemon Ice

Summertime Raspberry Sorbet

Rich Berry Sherbert

Lemon Poppyseed Ice Cream

Luscious Lemon Ice Cream

Coconut Berry Caramel Ice Cream

Simple Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Custard Kefir Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:

Honey Sweetened Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Honey Peach Frozen Yogurt

Homemade Strawberry Vanilla Ice Cream

Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Granola Parfaits

Other Desserts

Sometimes you need to give in and crank up the oven to make a summer like dessert, so here’s a couple of recipes you may want to make at least once.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Image via www.joyfulthriftyhome.com

Summertime Lime Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp


Here’s some extra recipes for meat rub, marinade, sauces, dressings that you might want to try.

Salad Dressing

Image via Microsoft Images

Jamaican Meat Marinade

Santa Fe Spice Rub

The Best Steak Marinade

Barbecue Sauce

Five Classic Homemade Salad Dressings

Homemade Ranch Dressing

20 Paleo Salad Dressings

Strawberry Syrup

Follow Along on Pinterest

To find even more amazing recipes (whether you are looking for yummy recipes, healthy meals, crock pot dishes, or anything else) then follow Jami on Pinterest! I regularly pin amazing recipes – in fact, it’s where I find most of our family favorite recipes!

Visit Jami Balmet | Young Wife’s Guide’s profile on Pinterest.

Get Healthy With Homemade Smoothies

By Ashley Roe, Contributing Writer

I love smoothies because they help me get lots of great nutrients plus they taste great. One of the best things about smoothies is that you can pack in lots of healthy ingredients into one glass. It also makes is much easier to make sure you or your kids are getting enough fruits or veggies everyday. If you are not sure what to put in your smoothie, keep reading below to find my recipe for nourishing blueberry banana smoothie plus links to lots more recipes.

Get Healthy With Homemade Smoothies - Young Wifes Guide

Why Make Your Own Smoothies?

I know you can head to your local coffee shop or a smoothie stand at the mall to get a smoothie and those taste great but they may not be as healthy as you think. Many of them have add extra sugar and powders that really are not necessary. Plus you don’t know if the fruit is actually fresh or not.

I looked up the nutrition facts of two smoothies online, one coffee-shop and one fast food place. Both had weird ingredients and added powders. One even listed a fruit base not actual fruit! So skip that weird stuff and make your own. Smoothies are easy to make and customize to your own taste preferences. To help give you some ideas, here’s my recipe for nourishing blueberry banana smoothie. Plus I included a couple of links below for even more smoothie ideas.

Nourishing Blueberry Banana Smoothie - Young Wifes Guide

Nourishing Blueberry Banana Smoothie Recipe


  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 banana
  • 3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax or chia (or a blend of both)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3-4 ice cubes – or more depending in whether you use frozen fruit


  1. Place ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Add extra ice if not using frozen fruit or for a thicker consistency and continue to pulse until ice is crushed.
  2. Enjoy your glass of fruity healthy goodness!

You can easily change the fruit to make a different kind of smoothie. I typically use everything, including the banana for all my smoothies and change out the other fruit to make different flavors. To make strawberry banana for example, just use strawberries instead of blueberries.

Nutritional Benefits

Not only does this smoothie taste great, but you get lots of nutritional benefits as well. Here’s a list of just some of healthy benefits:

  • Oranges have lots of vitamin C which helps to boost the immune system.
  • Flax seed is a great source of omega 3’s which are good fats known to help maintain heart health and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Blueberries and flax are great sources of fiber which helps with maintaining a healthy digestive system.
  • Blueberries are also known to aid in brain function and memory due to their high antioxidant content.
  • Bananas are rich in potassium which helps maintain your heart and kidney health.
  • Greek yogurt with probiotics helps maintain your gut health.
  • Greek yogurt also contains more protein than regular yogurt making smoothies made with it a great choice for a filling snack or light meal replacement.

 More Smoothie Recipes

If you are looking for more smoothie recipes, check out these two round-ups for over 75 more recipes!

40 Smoothie Recipes You Should Try @ Intentional By Grace

35+ Smoothie Recipes and More! @ Raising Arrows

FREE Summer Treats eBook

Want even more summer treat recipes? Join the Christian Homemaking Community and get our FREE Summer Treats eBook!

Join the Christian Homemaking Community to get your FREE summer treats ebook! - Young Wife's Guide

Click here to learn more about The Christian Homemaking Community and how you can join.

Join our all new community!

Resources and Tips to Help you Expand Your Recipe Repertoire

By Ashley Roe, Contributing Writer

When I got married I only knew how to make a few things from scratch. Those few things mostly consisted of baked goods like cookies. I had a lot to learn but I was also determined to no longer be the girl who barely knew how to boil water. I learned a lot of techniques from cooking shows and watching my husband in the kitchen.

Searching for new recipes became almost like a hobby of mine. It took some time, but as I became more confident in my abilities I began to experiment more and have even created many of my own recipes. Based on my own experience, I want to share with you some ways to expand your recipe repertoire.

Resources and Tips to Help You Expand Your Recipe Repertoire

You don’t have to be a newbie cook like I was to find this useful. These tips will certainly be helpful if you are still learning to cook but even if you have been cooking for years, I think you’ll find some good ideas here. You might even find some inspiration for new recipes of your own!

Find Some Good Cookbooks

I could literally spend hours browsing the cookbook section of the library or a bookstore. I just love flipping through pages of recipes and getting new ideas for things I could make. I am sure I have checked out dozens of cookbooks in one trip to the library on more than one occasion.

One thing I have learned is that there are plenty of exotic recipe books out there: You know, the kind of cookbook where most every recipe has ingredients you have never heard of or are only available in the south of France. Sure, it would be nice to travel to France someday but going there before dinner tonight just isn’t happening for most of us. While I love checking out new books like this from the library, I won’t likely be buying a copy for myself.

I have found that on most occasions, I usually refer to one of three cookbooks in my collection. I know these cookbooks are straightforward and easy to understand. I also like that they have lots of helpful tips. A lot of what I learned about cooking can be attributed to one of these books.


Betty Crocker Cookbook: 1500 Recipes for the Way You Cook Today

Taste of Home Cookbook

Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbook: Bridal Edition

As much as I love these books, they are not my only sources for recipes. I also have some church and family cookbooks that I use often and I have even found a lot of great recipes online, which leads me to the next tip.

Know Where to Find Recipes Online

I love finding recipes online because I am more likely to find reviews and ideas for improvement. When I make something from a cookbook, I usually have to go with what the recipe says or make some of my own changes and hope it turns out.

I have also learned the hard way that even though something is printed in a book or anywhere else for that matter, it does not mean that it is a fool proof recipe. I have followed plenty of recipes as written and wished I would have either not made it in the first place or changed it in some way.

So, if you want to search the vast array of the internet for recipes, here’s a few ways I have found many great new recipes.

Recipe websites

There are a lot of websites just for recipes. These are great especially for reading reviews and getting ideas for what did or didn’t work for someone else.

Here’s a few recipe websites that I have used:


Another great source of recipes are blogs. What I love about recipes on blogs is that I know a real person actually took the time to make and test the recipe. When I am writing a recipe to post on my own blog, I do my best to write it in such a way that even if you don’t know a lot about cooking you should be able to follow it and I think a lot of other bloggers do the same. Lots of bloggers also have eBook cookbooks too which can be great recipe sources as well.

Buy Real Food for the Real Homemaker!
Jami’s collaborative cookbook Real Food for the Real Homemaker is a great example of a good blogger cookbook!


When I am looking for a specific recipe, need some inspiration or a place to save an online recipe for later, I will often turn to Pinterest. I have a large collection of recipes saved on my recipe board.


You’ll find lots of great recipes from blogs here as well.  Another great thing about Pinterest is that you can search just your own pins if you want to find something that you know you already have pinned.

Know Your Substitutions

Oftentimes, you may find a recipe that looks good but you don’t have a particular ingredient or can’t use it for whatever reason. This happens a lot when switching to a more real food diet like I have. But don’t skip the recipe just yet! There’s probably a good substitute for that ingredient that you could use instead.

For example, these are some substitutions that I use often:

  • I no longer use vegetable shortening but I know if a recipe calls for it I can just sub in coconut oil, butter or a combination of the two.
  • I also never buy actual buttermilk. I just make sour milk with lemon juice or vinegar and milk.
  • I have an herb garden but I usually only get fresh herbs from it in the warmer summer months. So I use a combination of fresh or dry herbs depending on the season and what I have on hand. Fresh herbs can be easily substituted with dry or vice versa; just use one teaspoon of dry for every tablespoon of fresh.
  • I don’t buy sour cream anymore either, I just use plain Greek yogurt.

Knowing some basic substitutions like these can really transform how you cook and find new recipes. Here are some great lists of even more substitutions to get you started. Many cookbooks also have substitution lists as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment or Try Something New

My last tip is really the most important and it is this; don’t be afraid to experiment with recipes or try something new. When you feel stuck with making the same meals a lot, it’s likely a sign that you should try something new. Start browsing cookbooks or online sources and pick out a few recipes that sound interesting. You may just find a new favorite!

If I only ever stuck with things I was familiar with or only used a recipe as written, I never would have discovered some of my favorite recipes like zuppa toscanachicken fried rice or skillet gnocchi.

Keep in mind that it is okay to experiment with recipes. I tend to look at most recipes as guidelines that could always use a little tweaking to suit my own taste and preference. Oftentimes, I add a few extra spices here and there or take two similar recipes and combine them to form my own unique recipe. Experimenting may not always be successful but it’s a great way to learn from mistakes and it’s what makes cooking so much fun.

Have I intrigued you enough to want to get in the kitchen and try a new recipe?! I hope these tips and resources have given you some ideas to start building your recipe collection and learn to love to cook as much as I have.

What is your favorite way to find new recipes?

Do you have a favorite cookbook? What is it?