Friday, October 1, 2010

"Cream of" something that actually tastes good!

I have recently given up the can and it feels (and tastes) so good! It's another format recipe you need!

Start with milk; evap, boxed, fresh. MILK. Add the flavors you want and need; bullion, base, broth, spices FLAVOR. Then a thickener; roux, cornstarch. THICKENER.

Here's an example of what I did last night. I was making Tator Tot Casserole - yummy, by the way. I took 1 can of evap milk, added 1% mlk, just under a measured out can (I keep a few TBSP out to mix with cornstarch). I added beef base to taste along with a little dried sage, parsley and garlic powder. I then added the milk/cornstarch until it was the consistancy that I wanted. It was SO GOOD! So smooth and creamy and nothing mysterious!

SIMPLE SIMPLE SIMPLE!!! Try it and let me know what recipes you use it with how it turns out!

Friday, September 10, 2010

$500 Diaper Giveaway!

What a great way to start a stash!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Homemade Ingredients

This is my new favorite thing. I am really trying to work from my pantry so this just fell in line. It started with a new category on my favorite online recipe site - Tasty Kitchen ( You will notice my new badge to the right. I'm so proud of that, don't know why, just am.

I was browsing this new category a few weeks ago and I saw stuff like making your own goat cheese or yogurt. That sounds cool and all but, I don't know it that's really something I would do on a regular basis and I moved on.

A week or two passed and I was browsing again. I came across a Cream Cheese Enchilada recipe (OMG!!!) that sounded like something I could make for dinner. As I ran through the list of ingredients I saw things I did not have in my pantry such as Enchilada Sauce and Taco Seasoning. DARN! I remembered the homemade ingredients category and strolled on over. There it was, a recipe for enchilada sauce and another for taco seasoning. I had most of the ingredients. I had to replace the tomato sauce for some tomato soup. A little subbing here and there and I had the best enchilada sauce I had ever tasted. It was SO YUMMY! The taco seasoning had cocoa in it? Oh well, it' worth a try. YUMMY again!

This has sparked an interest in me. I am making simple and yummy dishes without packets of MSG or sodium filled 'who knows what'. The other night I made a Taco dinner, everything from scratch except the taco shells. It was so simple yet so delicious. The spanish rice was made from 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of tomato juice (it's what I had... you could use sauce, diced w/ juice) a sprinkle of chili powder and cumin, fresh onion and garlic, a little salt. I let it simmer and had a finished product that was so fresh - nothing like what you find in a box or seasoning packet. The beans were, well, beans - two kinds, white and brown. They were cooked on the stove top with chicken broth and onions, smashed up and I added a little butter at the end of the smashing process to smooth them out. I used Perry's Taco Plate seasoning on the beef. My Husband told me over and over how delicious it all was. Alexus CLEANED her plate. SUCCESS!

I love that if I have my spice pantry well stocked, and if you really know me you just chuckled, I can make almost anything.... Ranch Dressing Seasoning, Chocolate Syrup and Breakfast Sausage with ingredients I can actually pronounce. It tastes better, it has saved me multiple trips to the store for just one item and it's really not that hard!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting rid of Fruit Flies

Thank you, Mom! She sent me this recipe and it worked, so I want to share it with you. It took a few days but, this morning my kitchen was free of those little boogers!

1/2 cup Vinegar
2 TBSP Sugar
1 tsp dish soap

I moved and scrubbed every hard surface in my kitchen, it is AMAZING what you can find under your toaster, who knew? We were very careful to make sure that if so much as a drop of Kool-aid made it on the counter to wipe it up. Then I sat 2 baby food jars full of this bug killing juice in my kitchen and... YEAH! I counted over 30 of them in the bottom of just one jar.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My secret ingredient....

This is my secret ingredient when I have something that seems a little off.... Cavendars Greek Seasoning! It's a blend of oregano, garlic and lots of other yummy stuff. Try it on anything from chicken salad to spaghetti sauce, chicken breast to that little something extra in a pasta salad. Trust me!

Family Traditions a.k.a Making Memories!

Did you have a Family Tradition growing up? Saturday afternoon at the park? Sunday afternoon dinner at Grandmas? Movie and pizza on Friday night?

If your answer is yes, you know how heartwarming just reading that sentence was? It brings back smells, sounds, hugs and kisses that went along with that special occasion. If your answer is no, you might not know what you've been missing. It is NOT too late or too hard... start one this week!

What does your family like to do? Do you like to cook? watch movies? play board games? Rockband even? No one's judging here. If you can't commit to weekly, why not try monthly? or on special occasions such as a good grade or a new job/promotion.

This year I started something new with my Daughter. I took her to the mall and had a Mother-Daughter day, well, Mimi came along, too. We went to lunch, bought some school clothes, she got her nails painted and just pampered her for the day. It was loads of fun for both of us.

Here are a few others to get the ball rolling:

Summer BBQ - Kick off the Summer with a BBQ.
Saturday Mornings in Bed - Spend an extra 15-30 minutes in bed, invite the kiddos in and just snuggle under the covers while watching a cartoon.
Daddy-Daughter or Daddy-Son dates - A Saturday afternoon to give Mommy a little break and Daddy a little time to get to know the kiddos better.
Kids Make Dinner Night - Age appropriate of course, this can teach your kids an important skill before they leave home.

Traditions do not have to be expensive or elaborate. If you make time for your family when things are going good and everyone is happy the lines of communication will be open when something important comes along. It's a time that you and your children can rely on to be together.

Family Traditions make memories that last a lifetime, they create a strong family bond, and they're really not that hard!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting my kids to eat veggies.

I have an adorable Step-Daughter who is 7 and a spunky little girl that is 6. They eat veggies everyday. They don't particularly know it but, they do. I have 4 methods to get them to eat veggies:

1) Hide them!
2) Make them taste good.
3) Let them help shop for them or grow them.
4) Let them cook them.

No. 1... You can hide anything in Spaghetti Sauce. I used to do this to my first husband. He refused to eat vegetables. You can grind them up or shred them. My personal favorites are of course the run of the mill onions, peppers, garlic, grated carrots, spinach. You can also grind up stuff like zucchini and mushrooms (great for fiber). If you do this, put it in a crockpot and let it cook for 4-6 hours it will all meld together and no one will be the wiser.

No. 2... Make them taste good. This is the obvious answer. If you put a pile of steamed broccoli in front of them, they might not go for it. If you take broccoli cut up small and add it to rice, cheddar cheese, a little cream and some salt/fav spices like garlic powder top with some cracker crumbs and pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes you have a cheesy broccoli rice casserole they will love.

I heard Jenny Garth say the other day that she makes a deal with her kids, "You can dip it in anything as long as you'll eat it." That includes peanut butter, ranch, hummus, ketchup. I kind of think that's a cute idea.

(Picture - Alexus, Alivia and Saleen enjoying a plate of veggies dipped in ranch and hummus. Some we grew, some we bought at the Farmer's Market.)

One of our other favorite things to do is make Artichoke Spinach Dip. We just go heavy handed on the artichoke and spinach and a little easier on the cream cheese/mayo/parm combo. They love it. Sometimes we will add some chicken and make it into a hot chicken salad over french bread. Oh Chicken Salad... fruits and veggies are hidden in that, easily! Never miss an opportunity to grate veggies into something.

No. 3.... Take them to the Farmer's Market. They can pick out anything as long as they will try it. There can be some really pretty things there. The pattypan squash is always so pretty and interesting.

My girls loved shopping for seeds of things we're going to plant next year. They love looking at the books with me, planning our garden plot. We've only harvest 1 tomato so far but we carried it in with such pride and enjoyed every bite. This year we planted some Nastursium in their garden plot and they have eaten them even just chopped up in cream cheese as a dip.

No. 4... Let them help you cook it. One day bought some Zucchini and brought it home one day. My youngest who automatically announces "I don't like (fill in the blank)" helped me make it into zucchini boats filled with hamburger, chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, cottage cheese and topped with parmesan cheese. She tasted it every step of the way, she was my kings taster for spices/salt. When I put them on the table she was so proud, she gobbled it up announcing, "This is so yummy! I made it!"

Getting your kids to eat veggies... Fun (because they never know it most of the time), creative, fulfilling and really not that hard.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My first follower!

I have my first follower! Someone appreciates my rambling! LOL! Thank you!

Mashed 'atatoes

Step away from the flakes!

This is one of the simplest things to make. Even the flavored ones like Butter and Herb and Garlic are just one extra step. It's not really a recipe, more of a format. Once you get that down you can do it in your sleep. I am a box-to-real-thing convert, so I know of what I speak.

- Start by taking approx 1 1/2 potatoes for each person depending on their appetite.
- You can either peel them and cut them into about 4-6 pieces or just scrub them good and cut them into more like 10 pieces. If you leave the peel on you need to cut them smaller so the peel isn't in too big 'a hunks.
- Put them in a pot (I use a 3 qt and can make enough to feed 6-8 people in that size pot, no need to drag out a huge one). Cover them with cold water and a hearty pinch of salt. Put them on high, bring to a boil and turn down, cover.
- This is the hard part (the waiting). This part will take about 15-20 minutes give or take. You want to take them off when you can pierce them with a fork and they kind of just break. If you cook them too long they will be watery (I can share a recipe to fix those also because I did it the other night when my youngest was having a meltdown).
- Drain and start mashing. You can use a potato masher or if you don't have one even a pastry cutter will work. They don't have to be perfectly mashed, a few chunks are good.
- Add butter and canned evaporated milk, if you are worried about fat content use the canned Skim Milk, it is still very creamy. Not an exact science, just whatever you like. If it's a full 3 qt pan I will had 1/2 stick butter and most of a can of milk. You can always add more. Just do it to taste along with salt (and pepper if you like).

DONE! You made mashed potatoes. If you follow this format you really can't mess them up. The other night mine were watery so I threw them in a Pyrex pan and topped with cheese and baked for about 20 minutes. I already had the oven going and we were waiting on our chicken to finish. The kids actually liked them better than regular mashed potatoes. I was afraid they were ruined and they requested I "ruin" them again.

If you like the garlic mashed potatoes, this is really simple. In the last 3-4 minutes of boiling throw in about 3 cloves of garlic. This will be mild even though it sounds like a lot, it might be the boiling. Then when you smash them up they will break up right into the potatoes, this is a very easy variation.

I also like to experiment with different spices in my cabinet. Greek Seasoning is one of my favorites spices on the planet. It's a combo of garlic, oregano, salt and some other yummy stuff. It is fabulous on chicken and really good in mashed potatoes.

If you like a twice baked potato but don't want to take the 90 minutes it takes to make them you can leave out some of the milk, add sour cream, handful of grated cheese, bacon bits and green onions or chives.

Please, try this! Your family will love you for it! It's oh so yummy and really not that hard!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Disinfecting - Fast, Cheap and Easy!

Countertops, bathrooms and laundry OH MY! Want to disinfect and clean without breaking the bank or breaking out the harsh chemicals? Try this: Take a Glass Sugar Pourer (approx $4-5), fill 2/3 with baking soda (maybe $1 worth), 1/3 with Borax (a few pennies worth), then add approx 5-8 drops of Tea Tree Oil (a few pennies worth). Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake that Cleaner!

I love to take this to my kitchen for my Countertops and even my wood cuttingboard topped island. Shake a little on and use a wet washcloth to rub it in. The borax will clean and freshen, the baking soda will act as a mild scrubber and odor eliminater, the tea tree oil will kill bacteria. What's not to love? I let it sit for about 10 minutes then squeeze a little warm water over it and wipe it away.

Don't stop there, take it anywhere you need to kill bacteria or eliminate odors like your bathroom, door handles, switchplates, etc. Of course you want to make sure it is safe for your particular surface. I don't have anything fancy like marble or granite so it's safe for pretty much everything in my house.

I hope this has demistified Natural Disinfecting for you all. Remember... It's cheap, it's healthy and it's really not that hard!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Post

Ever wanted to try something but, it just looked too hard? What's on your list?

Oil Painting? Home Decorating? Raising animals?

I have recently started trying a few new things and I've decided to archive them here and hopefully you will try some of them, too.

First on my list was Cloth Diapering. I know, I know... why on EARTH would you want to do that? Well, now that you mention the EARTH, it's a very eco friendly choice. If that's not a reason why not for the health of your child? Do you really know what chemicals are in that sposie? I recently found out that it takes 2/3 of a cup of petroleum to create 1 disposable diaper... ONE. How many will a child use in their life? Thousands! So I took what I would spend on about 2-3 months worth of disposable diapers and invested them into cloth. Little did I know I would enjoy it as much as I do. I'm saving Money, saving his Butt, saving the Earth. So, it's cheap, it's healthy, it's cute and it's really not that hard!