One Pan Fall Casserole

I rarely share recipes on my blog, because, quite frankly, I hate to cook.  Like seriously hate to cook.  I have a couple friends that I joke around with sometimes about having our own little commune.   I would teach everybody’s children, one mom would do all the cooking, and the other would do all the cleaning, hah.  Seriously, that sounds more amazing to me than anything.


Cooking is a necessity when you’re a wife/mom and sometimes you hit the jackpot.   Now, one friend who tasted this recipe ended up adding some of her own dressing to it to spice it up – but I liked it totally as is.   I had seen a similar recipe on Pinterest but since I rarely follow a recipe to a T (read: never have the same ingredients so I substitute what I think will work) this really became my own recipe.  I drive people crazy when I tell them “I found this amazing recipe but I didn’t have this so I used this, and I didn’t have this, so I used this,…” You get the idea.  And I rarely have all the ingredients for something because I’m a terrible cook and never buy things that cooks/chefs would have normally have on hand.

I love the idea of one pan for making a meal (although, I have to admit, I boiled my chicken first, so that would make two pans/pots) as I also hate doing dishes, hah.  I found aluminum throw-away pans at Costco for super cheap (cheaper than the dollar store) and they’re great for making meals in, especially if you double the recipe and put half in the freezer.    And this can be a super cheap recipe if you use vegetables that are on sale (or on the clearance rack at your grocery store).

I made one for our meal and one for the freezer the night I made this.  And it made enough for about 6 servings (for those with somewhat large families).   My kids eat very little at supper but my husband took a good portion for his lunch and I shared another container with a friend and her husband for lunch…so it stretched pretty far.

One Pan Fall Casserole


4-6 Chicken breasts (thawed; or boiled if frozen)

1-2 large sweet potatoes OR 4-6 medium white potatoes – the more potatoes you add the larger the cassarole will be

2 small peppers (or 1 large)

2 carrots, chopped in circles

1 onion

1/2 squash (I actually used 1/4 of a squash in each pan I made as I only had half a squash in my fridge – it was plenty)

3 small apples (or as much as you want for added sweetness)

!/2 cup of cranberries (option for added sweetness)

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup oil

Apple cider vinegar

Uncooked bacon



  1. Boil chicken in water with 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar (gives the chicken a nice flavour) for about 10 minutes.   Combine 2 TBSP of oil with a splash or two of apple cider vinegar, the Italian seasoning, and garlic.  Place chicken in a plastic bag and pour oil mixture over chicken, rubbing it in.   Let sit while you do the rest.
  2. Chop veggies and place in a pan.   I have written in the vegetables that I used because those are what I had in my fridge, but you could sub in any veggies that are in season in your area (ie, green beans, peas, corn, brussel sprouts, etc).    Add the apples, diced, with skin on (or you can choose to peel but it’s a little more work and who needs that?)
  3. Pour remaining oil over vegetables and stir to coat (this is so the veggies don’t stick and burn while they are roasting).
  4. Place chicken breasts on top of vegetables (alternatively, you could cut the chicken into cubes and mix right into the casserole if you only have so much chicken to work with – this can make it stretch farther).
  5. Sprinkle with uncooked, chopped bacon
  6. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes (or until vegetables/potatoes are soft when poked with a fork).


If you didn’t want to make a huge pan of this, I could also see it over rice – also making it stretch farther.  Or if you made a big pan, you could serve up to 10 people with this casserole by putting rice under it.   I’m all about stretching a meal.   My rule of thumb is to keep my meat servings to about $5 per meal, which I know doesn’t sound like much.  Sometimes it’s more but not very often.  When I make a roast (costs about $10-$13 at the local meat store we buy from) we always have some for lunches the next day.  I serve a family of 4 (two of whom are children who don’t eat much).   When the kids are older and eating more I will, obviously, have to adjust this number accordingly.

I did make this in two pans and put one in my freezer.  I kept the chicken off and will do that part of it when I pull the pan out of the freezer.  I’m a freak about meat and food poisoning so I didn’t like the idea of half cooking the chicken and then re-freezing (which is a huge no-no in my house).   I suppose you could cook this in its entirety and then freeze but, since I made this on a church night, I didn’t have time to cook the second one before we had to leave.

The only thing I regret is not taking a picture.  So I’ll update this post next time I make it and post a picture of the meal.  Or you can do a search for similar meals on google and see what they “look” like.

My husband loved this meal and even my kids gave it a thumbs up (which is huge in my house).   If you try it, let me know what you think, or if you would tweak anything. =)


Life Update

I’m sure you all have noticed that the blog has been super quiet for the last couple of months.  Life has a way of making you evaluate priorities, and, unfortunately, the blog wasn’t top of the list.    So I thought I would take a minute and just share with you all what has been going on in the Cunningham family.

In August, we were able to take a 2 week trip to Ontario to visit family.   It was an incredibly long drive for this 7 months pregnant lady.  I think I was more ready to be out of the car than our active 4 year old (almost 5 at the time) Little Man.  The trip wasn’t exactly what we had thought it would be, but the Lord gave us some blessings in the midst of it all.   We celebrated Little Miss’s 3rd birthday while there.  She is such a little lady and loves to boss all the older children around.  Our little princess is going to be very happy when she realizes that her place in this family is extremely secure with another boy coming along.  Hah.    She loves frilly, sparkly dresses, big bows in her hair, and pretty shoes on her feet (she’ll wear her Sunday shoes to play outside every day if I let her).

The kids thoroughly enjoyed visiting one of mommy’s friends who had 3 children around their ages.  It was a blessing for us as we were able to enjoy an evening out alone while this couple watched the two Littles of them for us.  We had an amazing time with these sweet friends, and we were treated to an apartment all to ourselves with a fridge filled with food.   They live out in the country so we got to see some amazing sunsets and sunrises, the kids were able to go searching for eggs from the chickens, and we learned a few things about bagging beets!

The kids had a fun time at the Toronto Zoo and Niagara Falls (our two big trips while there).   They got to know one of their cousins a bit better, and were able to put faces to aunts and uncles that previously were just names to them.  Little Man learned how to swim a bit (our main stay was at a place on Georgian Bay – perfect for swimming!).   And they enjoyed time out in a paddle boat with Daddy.

Although I struggled with being tired while there (what pregnant person wouldn’t after driving for 3 days), we found out that my iron was low when we returned home, and I wished I had known that so I could have enjoyed the trip a bit more.

After our return I was thrown into doctor’s appointments and spent the better part of a month going here, there, and everywhere it seemed.  Lots of little things kept coming up with the pregnancy and we had to deal with each as it came.   We praise the Lord that everything evened out, most of it probably being due to my body just being stressed after our trip, but it made for a very busy month between the last of August and beginning of September.

Little Man started school this year.   As soon as we got back from our trip we dived right in to Kindergarten.  Our hope was to get ahead so that when Baby comes we can take some time off and not lose too much time.  He loves it so far and is enjoying recognizing words and actually reading simple stories already!    He also enjoyed a birthday in September and was excited to get his train table put together (you might have seen that on Instagram if you follow Quietworkings) and some new trains to play with on it.

Little Miss is potty training and doing really well with it.  A good friend took her for a few days and helped me out with that, which I am so thankful for.  It will be very helpful when Baby comes not to have 2 in diapers.

We also celebrated my Mother-in-law’s 70th birthday in September.  I’m so thankful for her and her sweet spirit.  She’s had some health problems the last few months but we’re thankful that she was doing a lot better by the time her birthday came around.  It was really neat to have her entire family there as my husband’s brother was home this year for it.  3 siblings plus 2 grandkids there for it was a nice treat (wait, technically 3 grandkids, hehe).

Two weeks ago we decorated our church for Fall (I still have to take pictures).  I had a lot of fun making up Fall planters for the front of the church.  I love Fall and Winter – they are definitely the colours I like for decorating with.  Spring and Summer are cheery but there’s just something about the colours for Fall and Winter.  We also had an evangelist in the end of that week.  Bro. Fielder comes every other year and does a few days of meetings at our church.  We really enjoy his ministry every time he comes.  He is a walking Bible, I tell ya.  He can quote so much of it.  Puts us all to shame really.

I have also been enjoying making soap.  One week I made 5 batches of soap and I have ideas for so many more!  Lack of ingredients has put a curb on that but hopefully we’ll get some more in inthe near future.  I am planning on trying to get out to one or two markets over the Christmas season (call me crazy), and I want to have my soap all ready to go before Baby comes.

Life seems to be settling down a bit now.  I’m enjoying the cooler weather (it definitely makes sleeping a little easier) and it’s easier to keep up with school during these days.  We have just about a month left before Baby comes and I am so looking forward to it.  I’ve been getting clothes ready and setting up the bassinet in our bedroom.   I am thankful that the Lord gave me this pregnancy.  It has been so different from the other two in every way.  I’ve enjoyed having him squirm around (every time I sit down for even a second).  I don’t know if knowing the gender has made it more special as I can picture that little boy in my head (speaking of, I need to come up with a “Little” name for him…ideas?).

I’m hoping to be able to get back in to blogging a bit more but we’ll see how busy life gets once the Baby comes before I commit.   Willow’s story is still being worked on and I may have to continue it over into 2017 so you can get the whole thing.  I’m hoping to get several episodes ahead so that there isn’t such a large span of time between chapters.  We’ll see, I may end up  posting one a week just to finish it up once I’ve got them written.

Two more days till October!   Can I say Happy October yet?  I hope you are all enjoying your Fall.

Until next time….

Willow’s Back in Chapter 3 of “A Lonely Willow”

A Lonely Willow: Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Willow reflected on the past month one morning as she sat on the back deck watching the sun rise over the water.   Each day had brought an increasing sense of peace as she allowed the serenity of her new home to fill her.  She had enjoyed reading her Bible in the silence of each morning, and felt closer to the Lord than she ever had.

Her little home had become a source of joy to her, rearranging things inside to suit her needs and tastes, and walking the grounds outside drinking in the sunshine on days it allowed.  Rain had filled many of the spring days so sunny ones were treasured.  Willow was looking forward to planting gardens, both flowers and vegetables, and the time that it would give her outside.

However, she could feel a restlessness begin to fill her as well: a restlessness that she attributed to a lack of human interaction.   She had yet to venture into town.  Avery had been out once a week with groceries and any books or magazines she had requested.  He rarely stayed longer than it took to drink a cup of coffee, but she enjoyed his visits and saw them as her touch with the outside world.

This morning an idea began to form in Willow’s mind, though.  Although, she had been feeling too fatigued to make the walk into town (about a 3 hour trip one way), Avery had purchased a bicycle for her that would make the trip much faster and easier for her.  It had been leaning up against one wall in the little shed and Willow decided that today would be the day she would make her first trip to town.

Once the decision had been made, she quickly grabbed a backpack, filling it with snacks and a bottle of water.  Slipping her arms through the straps, she walked purposefully towards the shed and threw open the door.  There stood the shiny, new bicycle and Willow smiled, turning her face up to the sun and its golden rays, before grabbing the handles and starting the walk down her dirt lane to the road.

The ride to town filled Willow with a sense of excitement as she travelled up and down low hills, often quite close to the ocean.  She hugged the shoulder of the road as cars whizzed past her and took her time following along behind them.  Women weeding garden beds and men cutting grass threw her a friendly wave as she followed the curves of the road, finally reaching the small town Avery had showed her on their midnight ride through that first night.

Willow stopped outside a grocery store and took a moment to get her bearings.  Directly across from her stood an imposing building, probably a courthouse, or something like that, she surmised.  There was no sign in front and Willow figured it wouldn’t matter since she didn’t plan on needing anything like that.  Various storefronts dotted the street, a thrift store (might be good for when she needed new clothes), a “Dollar or More” bargain store, a small pharmacy with a clinic beside it, and a used bookstore.   Books were Willow’s weakness.  She knew at some point she’d be checking out that one, but perhaps not today.

Farther down the street Willow noticed a sign for a library.  That was one place she knew she would definitely check out today.  And between the library and the grocery (where she now stood) was a small green space.  It was really too small to be called a park, although a sign near the street proclaimed it “Victoria Park”.  A gazebo stood in the middle of it and a few benches were scattered around cement sidewalks.   Tulips and cedar bushes filled in the spaces between the sidewalks and buildings, making it look an inviting spot to stop for a rest.

Willow decided to check out the small grocery store first.  As she walked up and down aisles pushing a small cart she looked at the people around her.  A mom with two little girls pushed a cart piled high with boxes of cookies, apples, and cereal.   Willow smiled thinking, Breakfast of champions!

An older man walked slowly down the aisles, pausing to roll an apple around in his hands before putting it back, knocking on the watermelons before moving on, and then carefully selecting a few potatoes to place in his cart.

A woman in a business suit breezed quickly around the store, grabbing items quickly off of shelves.  To Willow, there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what she picked, except to fill her cart.

Finally Willow finished circling the store and headed to the checkout.  A young woman stood behind the conveyor belt, chatting cheerily with each person as they paid for their purchases.  The cold shoulder, business suit lady gave, didn’t seem to faze her as she chatted on.   The mom with three girls smiled tiredly and answered back with a few words before packing up her groceries and heading out the door.  Willow was next and she smiled broadly back at the young woman.

The name tag attached to her store vest proclaimed her name to be Lola.  The frizzy black hair framing her face made the name feel appropriate.

“Good morning!” she sang as she began ringing Willow’s purchases in.

“Good morning.” Willow replied back.

“Are you new around here?  Didn’t hear of anyone new moving into Last Chance.  A’ course the Peterson place been up for sale for a while but I hadn’t heard it sold.”  Lola looked up and the innocence in her eyes caused Willow’s heart to stop pounding.  She didn’t know who Willow was and wouldn’t unless Willow told her.

“I am new here but not in Last Chance.  I live a ways from here.  Just came to the closest place for a few things.”

“Most people head into the city so we’re real glad you decided to stop here.  Hard to make a go of it when Walmart is just 30 minutes that’a’way.” Lola jerked a thumb behind her back and then got to bagging up Willow’s few items.   Willow paid and picked up her bag.

“Thanks for stoppin’ in.  Hope we see ya again.”  Lola flashed Willow a bright smile and Willow smiled back before heading for the doors.   She could be friendly.  There was no problem with being friendly and it was okay because she lived too far away to become “friends” with anyone here.  As long as no one knew her it would be all right.  And she had no intention of coming in to town often enough for anyone to get to know her on a personal level.

Willow decided to stop at one of the benches in the park while she packed up her few items in her backpack.  She took a swig of water and quickly ate a protein bar before slipping her arms back through the straps.  Today was not the day for enjoying the area.  Maybe another time she would enjoy the scenery more.   Next stop: the library and then home.

Blue Sun – Book Review

Blue Sun by [Abrey, Tracy]

A week or so ago I mentioned Blue Sun on my Facebook page.  I hope you guys took advantage of it’s price (free at the time) – although from what I’ve seen on Amazon this book is still a really good price as e-books go (especially for one of good quality).

Genny Hazard is experiencing twinges of bitterness as her plane touches down on the Isle of Man in the British Isles.  Uprooted from her home in the States at the beginning of her senior year of highschool, she still can’t help but be impressed that her dad is working on alternative energy for the isle.

However, from the moment her plane lands, Genny finds herself enshrouded in a mystery that includes stalkers with a disturbing red tattoo, a mysterious castle that no one can get to, and mythology that makes her question her scientific beliefs.

I’ll admit I was extremely skeptical about the book as I started reading.  And, in all honesty, the only reason I picked it up was because it was free last weekend – and I knew the author.  If I hadn’t known Ms. Abrey I would probably not have started reading it at all.  Fantasy is not really my genre when it comes to books, but with this one I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.   I only had a few moments of “Really???”  I find folklore fascinating but I don’t dive into the world of fairies as reality.   However, I thought Ms. Abrey did an amazing job of weaving the two together without creating an unrealistic world.

Minus the “flying humanoid” and the “blue glow” mystery (I can’t give away that part), I found the book very believable on a whole and I like reality.   The essence of the book is fantasy, though, and you will find that it is really based on that.

One thing that I really liked was how Tracy Abrey wove the Bible into it without making it weird.  I honestly wondered how she could mix the two, Bible and mythology, but I think she did an amazing job of weaving the two together without causing you to question her theology.   My mom (originally from Ireland) always cautioned me about pagan folklore and it’s Satanic origins so I was expecting to feel a little awkward about that, but I found that Ms. Abrey really stayed away from that aspect, even though, at times, I thought she was heading that direction.   I think that’s one of the things that really made me want to keep reading.  I was trying to find fault with what she had written so I could feel justified in not having read it over a year ago when Ms. Abrey first contacted me about it.  I know, that’s terrible!

This book was a really great read and would be a good option for those looking for good books for their older teens (it is published as young adult fiction).

About the Author:


Tracy Abrey has been passionate about writing since stating in her second grade  “school days” book that when she grew up she wanted to write books. Earning a BA in English literature and French from Houston Baptist University and having taught high school English as she pursued her MA in English literature at DePaul University, her childhood passion has morphed into an adult career focused on young adult urban fantasy. Tracy has lived in Canada, France, and England and currently resides in the US with her husband and two children.

On a personal note: Ms. Abrey used to babysit me when I was a young girl and our families attended the same church.  One of my favorite memories of her is of her taking my name and putting it into a song (that belongs to the ’80’s, trust me) and coming up with Manda Panda.  That nickname has stuck with me since she started it so many years ago and it never fails to make me think of her every time someone calls me that.

Although we didn’t stay in touch as much as we would have liked, our families still managed to maintain a thread of contact, visiting with them in the States and even attending Ms Abrey’s wedding.  Facebook made that thread a little thicker and I have enjoyed seeing her progress as she wrote this book and the sequel.

In relation to this book, Tracy told me, “It was important to me in the creation of this series to provide a clean, but still riveting story for teens (and adults!) who deserve an exciting read that isn’t inundated with sex and swearing.”   THAT, to me, is a great thing for ALL books.  I definitely look forward to reading more from her in the future and can’t wait to start Book 2 in the Blue Sun Series (Dark Waters)

You can check out Ms Abrey’s website at:

Find her books on – For Americans  – For Canadian

Teaching Canadian History

One of the workshops I attended at our Homeschool Conference last month was on teaching Canadian history in your homeschool, and I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed with the workshop in general.  I even had the chance at the end to discuss some of my issues with the man who taught it, and while he agreed with my assessment, he didn’t have any ideas to help me.

Before I tackle the big subject, though, I want to give you three, short reasons on why we, as Canadians, should be learning Canadian history.  In another post I’ll talk some about ways to teach Canadian history in your homeschool and my thoughts on the workshop itself.

Reasons To Study Canadian History:

  1. One thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.

We’ve all heard this saying numerous times in relation to World History.  But how CAN we learn from history if we don’t even know that history?  How many prime ministers can you name?  Can you tell me who wrote the Canadian anthem?  Or how long we’ve even flown the Canadian flag?  Who was Joseph Howe (we have a main street in Halifax named after him)?   Who was T.T. Shields (an important figure in church history)?   Why is Canada so full of diversity (where did all the immigrants come from and why did they leave their home countries?  What sorts of laws have aided our country in the past that are not being enforced today?

There is so much that our children are missing out on learning.  Instead, many of us are using American curriculums in our homeschool and learning American history (which isn’t entirely bad – Canadian history is more woven with American’s past than many people know).  In more than one grade I might add.  And I’ve had many people say to me that they didn’t see the need for their students to do much more than learn about Canada in one “section” of their history curriculum for one year.

We know lots about the rest of the world and nothing about our own country.  That’s sad.

2. Canadians have no loyalty.

How can you be loyal to a country you know nothing about?  You have nothing to hold you here.  I realize that Canada is made up of a diverse group of people, but so is the United States.   I sometimes, almost, think there is no point in calling us “Canadians” anymore because each group so closely associates with the country that it came from.  They see no need to become “Canadian”.   And I know that I am generalizing here.  I realize that not EVERYONE falls under this category.

I, myself, am so fiercely patriotic that I had people in college who didn’t know me ask me if I was American after hearing me talk passionately about a subject regarding our country.  Canadians are known for not being patriotic.  That is so sad.  This is why our military is so under-funded, our soldiers barely paid to give our country the freedoms that we plaster on banners.

Knowing and understanding our history will encourage patriotism in our children.  Even learning our Christian heritage within Canada is important for understanding where we stand as churches.   I want my children to know how our Independent Baptist church came to be.  I want them to have a sense of pride in the country we live in.

3. It’s Biblical to remember history.

 All you have to do is open the Bible (especially in the book of Acts) and you can find numerous sermons where the disciples started their message by talking about the past.  The apostles gave a recording of Israel’s history, reminding them of where they came from.  It’s fascinating to study the subject.  The crossing of the Red Sea was a momentous occasion.  Waking up to find manna on the ground.  Getting water from a rock.  These were important events in the lives of the Israelites that helped them to remember what God had done for them and how He had brought them through so many trials.  Their past helped them to see where they were.   In essence, the Bible itself is one giant history book that takes us up to a certain point in the history of the world.  And there’s no need to stop there.  God’s hand is evident throughout our own nation’s great history.  Before our last election I reminded so many people of God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel.  Mr. Harper stood behind Israel and our nation benefited from that.  It’s absolutely incredible to look back on the prosperity our country enjoyed during his time as our prime minister.   How can we not use that to teach our children an important Biblical subject?

Teaching our children about Canada will open so many more discussions and opportunities for seeing God’s hand than if we just stick to a history of the world in general.  We need to make it personal, bring it closer to home.  The more I learn about Canada’s history, the more I see how closely the Lord worked in it’s beginnings and through the people who settled it.  We may not be a country that was distinctly settled for religious reasons, but, for lack of a better word, religion was the base for her founding as much as America’s was.  Wouldn’t you want your children to learn about that?  Don’t you want to show them how great she has been in the past because of God’s blessings and how we, as Christians, can work to see her continue that way?

I wish I could inspire a love for Canadian history in each person I meet.  I have heard so many people say how boring it is and I want to snatch those words out of the air.    If you spend your time looking at the EVENTS that shaped this country, then yes, you could find it boring.  We didn’t fight any big civil wars or burn down government buildings.  But the PEOPLE that shaped this country are fascinating.  Canadians have been known for having courage and stamina that surpasses other nations.  That’s the legacy I want to pass on.  Standing up for what is right and having the courage and determination to press on even when circumstances are difficult.

What do you want your children to learn?

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