Quick Healthy Dinner Recipes

quick healthy dinnerQuick healthy dinner recipes are essential to planning meals for a busy homestead family. Even if the family is a downsized family of two! Dinner brings us together for a connection. Sharing the food we grow and prepare at home or purchase locally gives us nourishment to do our work. 

It’s no mystery that as our family’s grow and change direction, our meals need to adapt. If we don’t adapt we can find ourselves staring at an empty oven at 6 PM, wondering how to salvage dinner time.

Quick Healthy Dinner- Our Needs Change

As empty nesters, we face this scene too often for my comfort. Yes, we could go out since it’s now just two of us and not too costly. However we prefer to stay home, most nights. Both of us still work, plus the farm and other obligations find us seeking a quiet evening after the days work.  Eating at home means we know exactly what we are eating. Knowing what went into the meal is becoming more and more important to us as we strive to stay fit and  healthy. Some families have diet restrictions or concerns. Having meals planned helps to ensure a good meal is on the table, and no family members health is jeopardized. 

What I Need for Quick Healthy Dinners

Meals that require a little prep time to deliver a tasty, hot, dinner in less that an hour fill many of our needs. These recipes are what I find myself searching for more and more. Quick healthy dinner recipes can be prepared in the oven, crock pots, and pressure cookers. One dish meals are delicious and nutritious even on the most hectic school, work, harvest, canning, sports days.  

In addition, many of these recipes are perfect for teaching beginner cooks how to prepare a meal from fresh ingredients, instead of a box. Having more than one cook in the house is always a good thing!

While I am not good at planning or organization, having ingredients on hand helps. Then, add a stack of recipes that can be pulled together quickly, and I am saving dinner time and avoiding  take out food. 

Recipes From Our Kitchen and Others

quick healthy dinner

quick healthy dinner

Chicken Chile is a crock pot recipe that takes little time to throw together. Allow 4 hours for it to cook in the crock pot. It uses cooked chicken, so save some from a roast chicken, or cook ahead of time, and place in the freezer. Then quickly assemble this recipe and go on with your day!

But Wait! There’s More! 

I asked some of my friends that blog, to share some recipes with me for this post. Mouthwatering ideas popped into my inbox! Please click the photos or the link provided to get to the original post. 


This one popped up in my news feed recently on facebook. I follow the site Grow a Good Life and was thrilled to find a recipe that I had all of the ingredients in the house ready to make! We had this for dinner that same night and it was delicious! You can substitute the veggies to suit your taste and preference. I am looking forward to trying it again with fresh from the garden summer squash.

Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables


quick healthy dinner

From Homespun Seasonal Living

Nothing says quick like a ready made batch of sloppy joe filling. Grab the rolls and salad and everyone is fed! Here’s the trick. This recipe was intended for pressure canning. When I made my batch, I froze three cups in zip lock bags in the freezer. It takes little time for the small amount to thaw and we had yummy sloppy joe sandwiches in no time!

From 104 Homestead.

Nothing says Comfort Food like a casserole.  And don’t miss the funny story at the beginning of this recipe post!

A Farm Girl in the Making Shared a delicious comforting soup recipe.

Attainable Sustainable

No one argues with a good bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup in front of them. Make up this version in very little time.

Reformation Acres shares a delicious idea for Chicken with Bok Choy

All I can say about this recipe from Green Eggs and Goats for Shrimp and Grits is “get in my belly!”


Stay Tuned for More Quick Healthy Dinner Recipes being added here soon!

quick healthy dinner

Marek’s Disease Symptoms to Watch For

marek's disease symptomsMarek’s Disease symptoms are caused by a particularly strong herpes virus. Marek’s Disease can be found in the environment. The usual symptoms involve the nervous system, eyes, skin and other organ systems. A strong variation of the disease shows tumor growth. Marek’s Disease is mainly seen in young chicks and older chickens. Chicks and chickens with Marek’s Disease can show a complex set of symptoms or be totally symptom free.

Marek’s virus is transmitted two main ways. The virus can be transferred by fecal droppings and by feather dander. 

Some symptoms of Marek’s disease can be mild and vague, some can be severe and deadly. Paralysis can occur, along with sudden death. Since Marek’s disease attacks cells that produce antibodies, the immune system is at a disadvantage. You may find that the chicken also succumbs to coccidiosis or another pathogenic, opportunistic organism found in the environment.

In Gail Damarow’s book, “The Chicken Health Handbook“, she notes that Marek’s is likely carried by most chickens. The virus can lay dormant for long periods of time. Stress factors can weaken the chicken’s immune system. After that, the virus is able to activate and further debilitate the already stressed bird.

marek's disease symptoms

Marek’s Disease Symptoms after Stress

Chickens with Marek’s Disease symptoms may have had an added stress in their environment. Some stress factors that can cause the virus to become active are:

Upset routine – Chickens, like most animals, prefer to have a schedule. They do better when they are fed around the same time and the same routine used for their care. Whenever possible, try to care for the flock consistently, every day. When someone is filling in for you with the care, go over the routine, so that the chickens have as much stay the same as possible.

Coming into Lay– When a pullet first begins to lay eggs, she may feel stressed. Some pullets will sail through this change as if nothing is different. Others may require more solitude, quiet, and take a long time to relax and lay the egg.

Bullying– The pecking order squabbles are a fact of life in any chicken flock. It’s natural and usually is sorted out without humans intervening. Occasionally, a chicken may be a real bully though and find a victim to really stress out. When this happens, your victim may become ill from the stress. Marek’s disease symptoms can flare from the stress. 

Stress Factors That are Easily Controlled 

Crowding – Too many chickens in the coop or brooder can cause stress. The crowded conditions can also lead to bullying and pecking order disputes. 

Dirty Coop/Poor Ventilation – A filthy, fly or rodent infested coop is definitely a stress factor. In addition the ammonia odor build up from poor ventilation is likely to make the chickens sick. Once the chickens are sick, the Marek’s Disease symptoms are more likely to flare up also.

Worm overload – If your chickens have any other illness producing factors such as coccidiosis, E.coli, Salmonella, or any type of Rhinovirus, they are already weakened. Intestinal worms weaken a chicken’s body by preventing it from obtaining good nutrition from the food. Some intestinal worms can cause anemia. All of these issues are going to leave the door wide open to a Marek’s Disease symptoms flare up. 

marek's disease symptoms

Prevention of Marek’s Disease Symptoms

Newly hatched chicks have a very short term immunity from the hen. Chicks that aren’t vaccinated run a very high risk of having Marek’s Disease symptoms.  Many hatcheries offer the vaccine as an additional service when you order your chicks. 

Once you get your new chicks that have been vaccinated, keep them separate from the flock. When you do this it gives the immunity time to build. Keeping the chicks in a brooder, separate from your older chickens, increases the success rate of the vaccine. The vaccine does not prevent the chicken from getting the virus. The vaccine prevents the virus from causing illness and symptoms. In addition, the vaccine may limit the amount of virus that the vaccinated chick can shed in the environment. Unvaccinated chicks have a much higher risk of becoming sick from Marek’s Disease. 

marek's disease symptoms

If you buy from a breeder that does not offer the vaccine or hatch out chicks on your homestead, you can purchase the vaccine to administer yourself. The vaccine must be used quickly and kept cool. Have everything set up and vaccinate all chicks as quickly as possible.

Are There Other Ways to Prevent Marek’s Disease?

Experiments have been carried out where new chicks were isolated for a lengthy time period. After 5 months of not being exposed to other chickens or any environment that had chickens, some natural immunity was found. Since most of us do not have the ability or desire to isolate our new flock members for 20 weeks, this method is not very popular. 

After 6 months of age, the probability of seeing Marek’s Disease symptoms reduces. Also, not all forms of Marek’s Disease are deadly. The mortality rate from many of the types of Marek’s Disease is around 20% or lower.  These chickens are shedding high amounts of live virus, though and will infect any chickens in the coop. 

marek's disease symptoms

Marek’s Disease Symptoms

Blindness, often with a gray appearance to the eye or both eyes.

Leg Paralysis, with one leg dragging behind or legs paralyzed in opposite directions.

Tumors are seen more in older chickens as a result of Marek’s virus. 

Reddened skin 

Progressive paralysis and uncoordinated movements, often starting at the neck, through the wings and legs.

Weight loss

Marek’s Disease symptoms may come and go. 

What to Do if You Suspect Marek’s Disease

  1. Isolate any chickens that appear ill
  2. Do not introduce new birds to the flock when you have an outbreak of Marek’s Disease symptoms.

Bio-Security Methods

Practice good bio-security measures when visiting other chicken keepers and when having visitors to your chicken area. It is always a good idea to wear different shoes when visiting other flocks than the shoes you wear to care for your flock. Care for the chicks before caring for the mature chickens, to lessen the chance of bringing virus to the chicks area. Keep wild birds out of the run using poultry netting. Always quarantine newcomers for thirty days before adding to the flock. 


marek's disease symptoms. Marek's disease symptoms are caused by a particularly strong herpes virus. Marek's disease can be found in the environment. The usual symptoms involve the


How to Raise Healthy Geese for the Backyard Farm

raise healthy geeseDo you want to raise healthy geese for your backyard farm? The goose is a good choice for a poultry addition to a homestead.  Friendly and good at foraging, the goose will add a whole new dimension to your daily chores. Many people think that geese are similar to any other water fowl, such as ducks or even that geese are like raising turkeys or chickens. This is not entirely true. Geese have some unique characteristics and needs and should not be considered the same as the ducks. Raising healthy geese is not hard though. Take a look at what geese require.

Are Geese Good Watchdogs?

One thing that seems to be a bit confusing is the thought of using geese to protect other poultry. This can be a dangerous misconception for the goose. Geese are territorial and protective. They will not back down readily from an attack, which may give other birds a chance to escape. However no goose is a match for an attack by a dog, large fox or any other larger predator. 

raise healthy geese


In order to raise healthy geese for many years, provide a suitable structure for them to go into at night. Geese do not roost on a bar like chickens, guineas and turkeys. Provide a well ventilated, sturdy, low to the ground structure. Line the floor with dry straw and the geese will be happy campers! 

Each goose requires approximately 3 square feet of floor space in the structure. Since you will rarely want to confine them longer than overnight, the house does not need to be very large.  Two geese could be very comfortable in a 3 by 6 enclosure.  

We use snap hooks on the latches for our poultry buildings for added security. Most foxes can’t figure these out and the raccoon haven’t outsmarted the latches yet.

When Raising Healthy Geese, Do You Need a Pond?

Geese are not like ducks. They need water of course but do not require water to the same extent. The one point that might make a difference is if you are hoping to brood goslings with your goose breeding pair. Geese have an easier time mating when in the water.  In any event, the geese won’t spend lots of time on the pond like ducks might.

Raise Healthy Geese with the Right Food

Geese eat grass. That is their primary food source. If you plan to raise healthy geese on grass, they will need all access, every day to grass.  The grass should not be too long. Three inches tall is a good measurement. The geese will nibble the grass and graze along. All the nutrition the geese need is included in the grasses. If you don’t have enough pasture or grass you can feed wheat, poultry layer pellets and supplement with fresh greens. Lettuce, cabbage, and occasionally, cooked vegetables can be fed, also.  

  • note- do not feed layer crumbles or mash to the geese. It can disrupt ability to swallow by getting stuck in the upper bill. 

Wheat is provided in a bucket and covered with water. The wheat sinks to the bottom of the bucket. This prevents wild birds, rats and mice from accessing the wheat. Also, picking up all food at bedtime helps prevent rodent infestations. 

If you happen to have sheep to graze down the grass first, helps keep the grass short enough for the geese. If you don’t have sheep available, just mow the grass down to a reasonable height before letting the geese out to graze. 

Housing with Other Poultry and Water Fowl

There aren’t any reasons why you can’t keep geese with chickens or other large water fowl. Each situation will be different. Most likely you will get more than one gosling to begin with. As the goslings grow you will notice that they probably stick to their own flock and the chickens will stick to hanging with the other chickens. 

The geese will grow considerably bigger than your chickens and you will need to watch for any aggression. Areas that are large enough for everyone to roam and graze give you the best chance of different poultry species getting along.

raise healthy geese

Geese Breeds

Light breeds – Brown and White Chinese and Roman Tufted

Medium breeds – Pilgrim, American Buff and Sebastopol

Heavy breeds – Toulouse, African and Embden

Geese can be loyal and affectionate pets. They bond to each other and can be territorial during mating season. Since geese can live 15 to 20 years, you will be able to enjoy your pet geese for a long time. 

raise healthy geese

Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook


stacy lyn's harvest cookbookStacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook has been released! I have long anticipated this day not just because it’s a wonderful book of homesteading and delicious recipes. Stacy Lyn Harris is also my friend. Yes! I have a friend who is a talented chef, mother of seven delightful children, and wife to her best friend. Well known in her southern community and due to the popularity of her previous books and television show, I am sure Stacy Lyn’s Harvest doesn’t need me, to tell you how wonderful the book is.  You are probably waiting in line to buy it already. Or you have it saved to your “wish list”. In any event, however you plan to bring Stacy Lyn’s Harvest home to your family, you will be so glad you did.

Why do I Feel So Strongly About Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook?

I first learned of the book quite a few months back. Stacy Lyn called me because a deadline for the book had been changed and she needed some help proof reading before the pages were sent to the design team and printer. What?!  I was momentarily awed. I would get to preview this new book while helping a really sweet friend.  

And so we began. We proofed and compared notes along the way. The time allotted was short but by midnight we had almost finished the read through. I had drooled all day over the recipes in this book! But there was more. Helpful personal stories and ideas on how to run many facets of a country homestead. Chickens, honeybees, vegetable gardening, harvesting, preserving, and most importantly, putting family first, at all times.

Stacy Lyn’s Harvest cookbook will encourage you to prepare dishes that you may have thought were above your skills. And she makes it easy!  (have you been watching her live video tutorials this month on line?) 

There is not much more I can say. I will be bold at this point. Buy the book!  

stacy lyn's harvest cookbook


But Wait, I Almost Forgot….

Stay tuned to my social media channels next week because I have included a copy of Stacy Lyn’s Harvest in an awesome giveaway to welcome spring and spring cooking, harvesting, homesteading and more. Stay tuned for more on that coming up this weekend and early next week.

Here’s the sneak peek!  (If you don’t do social media, the same option will be in my weekly newsletter.  sign up to receive the newsletter here.)

stacy lyn's harvest cookbook


If you want to keep on reading, here’s the press release about the new book, Stacy Lyn’s Harvest. 

Southern chef Stacy Lyn Harris is the bestselling author of three books , founder of the popular Game and Garden blog, and  a co-host of “The Sporting Chef” on The Sportsman’s Channel. Her simple approach to sourcing and preparing delicious meals makes life easier for those who want great fresh food everyday. 

As her family began to grow, she left her career as a lawyer to raise seven children (now ages 7 to 22), a garden full of vegetables and a few happy chickens and bees. Throughout her homesteading journey, she has shared her knowledge on wild game, sustainability, cooking and gardening in three cookbooks


With nine mouths to feed on a daily basis, Alabama chef Stacy Lyn Harris keeps it simple, but doesn’t skimp on elegance. Her seven kids enjoy homegrown food, prepared beautifully and sustainably thanks to a few chickens in the back, a year-round kitchen garden, milk from a dairy farmer just outside of town, and locally-sourced free-range meats. 

Always served up in Stacy Lyn’s rustic-refined style, her dishes are classic Old South, but with a fresh, healthy, beautiful twist. Culled from her family’s farmstead near Montgomery, Alabama, Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook (March 2017) offers recipes and tips for a simpler, better way of life through growing, harvesting and cooking from nature’s bounty. 

As founder/editor of GameandGarden.com, Stacy Lyn is known for her elegant approach to outdoor living and natural, free-range cooking. Featuring full-color photos, Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook includes more than 100 field- and farm-to- table recipes that meet her three-part criteria: family friendly (easy, with simple ingredients), fresh, and tasty. 

There are cherished family recipes, free-range meat dishes derived from her husband’s hunting obsession, and lighter takes on decidedly southern classics—all prepared simply, in the freshest way possible. The book covers food from the garden, pasture, woods, and water in four sections: 

  • “The Garden” features Fried Green Tomatoes, Jalapeño Poppers, Corn Chowder, Fried Squash with Tomatoes and Pesto, and other recipes to make you wish it was summer all year long.
  • “Beyond the Garden” delves into beekeeping and raising chickens for an amazing Honey Butter to pour over Cinnamon Pear Buns and your favorite Egg Salad Sandwiches with Refrigerator Pickles.
  • “From the Pasture” focuses on free-range, pasture-fed game recipes like Braised Short Ribs, Black-Eyed Pea Gumbo, and Juicy Pork Chops, plus a how-to on sausage-making.
  • “Seafood and Fish” includes Stacy Lyn’s favorite entertaining recipes, Best Ever Clam Bake and Perfect Fish Tacos.
    For city dwellers or anyone who feels Stacy Lyn’s way of life is out of reach, 15 “how to” articles sprinkled throughout the book offer steps for cooking and eating sustainably in any setting—including container gardening, saving seeds, preserving, foraging, composting and more. 
  •  For more information about Stacy Lyn, subscribe to her websites, stacylynharris.com and gameandgarden.com and follow her on your favorite social networks @stacylynharris on Facebook and Instagram. 

Live Animals for Easter?


Live animals for Easter?

Its that special time of year.  Spring has sprung, flowers are blooming, grass is beginning to turn green and we long to spend more time outside.  When we visit the local farm and garden center,  everything is bustling!  The seeds are in stock, bulbs, seed potatoes, and cool weather veggie plants are available.  But what is that peeping noise coming from the center of the store?  Baby Chicks are for sale!  Look at how adorable they are, small and soft and downy.  They chirp and peep and nap and run around.  Wouldn’t the kids love them?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to bring a few home?  Surely the kids will love taking care of live animals.  No, we don’t know anything, but we can just leave them in the backyard right? 


Live Animals for Easter?

Think Before Bringing Home Live Animals for Easter Gifts

The reality of this and other scenarios is being played out in garden centers and feed stores all across the country at this time of year.  Hopefully, the store has someone on staff that can talk the impulse buyer off the ledge and return them to their senses.  Giving live animals as Easter gifts has a long tradition but it is not one that I support.  Are you shocked?  Me, the proponent of raising chickens? 

Yes,  I believe that raising chicks, ducks and rabbits requires careful thought about how the animals will fit into your life.  These cute little balls of fluff are a lifetime commitment, at least the expected lifetime of the animal.   In our more agrarian past, many people had some sort of homesteading going on in their back yard.  Or had a close by relative that lived on a farm.  The future of any live Easter basket gift was certain to include a future move to a home coop, or a nearby farm. 

Now, this is not usually the case.  Many live Easter basket gifts are turned out to fend for themselves once they grow bigger and messier.  Or they are turned in to the local animal shelter which is probably not equipped for poultry and may have trouble placing grown rabbits too.   Chicks and ducklings are considered livestock.  Rabbits may be considered pets, but not everyone appreciates the behavior of a house rabbit. 


Live Animals for Easter?

Before buying live chicks, ducklings or baby rabbits for Easter gifts, consider the following questions.

  1. Do you live where you can keep the animal?
  2. Did you plan on raising animals in your backyard?
  3. Are your children responsible?  Are they old enough to take on the care of a pet and the care involved?
  4. Have you considered the entire life span of the chick, duckling or bunny?
  5. Where will the animal be housed?  Is this realistic?
  6. Can you afford the food, care and housing requirements for the animal?

If you are going to bring home live animals for Easter, start with research and not impulse.  Buy the best quality you can and make sure the timing is right before giving in to the impulse and spur of the moment purchase. 

live animals for Easter gifts

Do you need more information on the topic of getting homestead animals?  You might enjoy Before Getting Homestead Animals


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live animals for Easter

and Developing an Annual Homestead Plan

This link up is being hosted by myself and these other wonderful bloggers  Please stop by and say hello

Happy Days Farm

A Farm Girl in the Making

The Fewell Homestead


Janet writes about many homestead and livestock related topics on her blog Timber Creek Farm. Her new book, Chickens From Scratch, is available now through the Timber Creek Farm website or from Amazon.com   

Chickens from Scratch celebration 

 This post appeared first on Backyard Poultry Mag.com