May 082015
 

We are always at a lack for phone chargers in this house!  I ordered two from Ebay just before our trip to South Carolina, and then ordered a couple more earlier this week.  Frank needs one for his car, so one is already claimed, and I need one for myself (since the last one I had seems to have flown the coop).

Most of the chargers in the house are either black or white and fit the Samsung/Motorola phones.  It’s hard to tell who borrowed what charger.  As I unwrapped my precious new friend, I came up with an idea.  Washi tape.

I can’t admit to patience and precision on this little project.  I’m sure someone can improve on the final product with a little more time spent lining patterns and seams up.  I just wanted a quick way to mark my territory on this charger.

Cover your charger with Washi!

Jan 022014
 

I made this for New Year’s Eve – going to be on regular rotation now. SO good!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Ingredients

16 oz. cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
6 jalapeños, chopped and deseeded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs (or crushed Ritz)

Directions

Let cream cheese soften at room temp. for about 10 minutes. Combine cream cheese, mayo, and jalapeños in a bowl and stir (or beat) until smooth. Add the grated cheeses, reserving 1/4 c. of the cheddar; mix well. Sprinkle bread crumbs over, then sprinkle on the remainder of the cheddar cheese. Put in an oven-safe dish and bake at 350 degrees until golden and bubbly.

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Jun 262013
 

Everybody sees them – the Facebook posts, the food. Scrolling down through your feed, the eye catches on one recipe or another. The MUST SHARE or IT IS SOOOO GOOD recipe. Most of them have junk in them that I just don’t buy – “Take one pre-packaged this, add it to the other chemical-laden that, add some more chemicals…

I did decide to try two recipes yesterday, though, because our menu has gotten a little boring. I have no idea of the original source, but found the exact recipe below. It’s all over the ‘net. That’s the problem with the Facebook recipes. Unless you do share them, they’re lost in your feed. I copy/pasted the recipe, but don’t know where it came from. The recipe below is the exact one.

IMG_20130625_203807_269

ONE POT WONDER TOMATO BASIL PASTA
Serves 4 to 6 as an entree

12 ounces linguine pasta (I used 16 – why use 3/4 of a box?)
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 large sprigs basil, chopped
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken broth – it’s all I had)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired . Season to taste with salt and pepper , stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with parmesan cheese.

This didn’t get the raves I was hoping for. It was eaten, but there was no call for me to throw it into regular rotation. We eat a lot of spaghetti around these parts, and they are fickle.

I do love sitting around the table with my family, though. It’s a little slice of heaven on earth. I completely relish every day we are able to. With one moved out, one home for the summer for college – our family dinners are few and far between, and not a daily event like the were years ago. Meal planning helps me get the family around the dinner table. I’m glad I took the time to do it this week.

For dessert: Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake

I didn’t get to try any of this, but it seemed to be a hit. My family seems to really like Honey Buns (they taste like cardboard and chemical sugar to me), so I thought it would be fun to try this. They said it didn’t quite taste like a Honey Bun, more like a coffee cake, but it was good. I made it using a make-your-own boxed cake recipe, since I didn’t have a boxed one on hand.

Honey Bun Cake
{mommyskitchen.net}

Ingredients:
1 – package white cake mix, (reserve ½ cup dry cake mix)
2 – sticks butter, softened
1 – cup plain Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
4 – eggs
½ – teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling: 
½ – cup reserved dry cake mix
½ – cup packed brown sugar
1/3 – cup chopped nuts, optional
2 – teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze:
3 – cups powdered sugar
1 – teaspoon vanilla extract
6 – 8 tablespoons milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees grease bottom only of 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Remove ½ cup dry cake mix and set aside. Add remaining cake mix to a large bowl: add butter, yogurt, eggs and vanilla; beat at medium speed. Spread half of the batter in the pan. Stir together reserved dry cake mix, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts if using. Sprinkle over batter. Spread remaining cake batter on top. To make spreading easier drop batter by dollops over cinnamon mixture then spread using an offset spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown and cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cake cool.

Prepare the glaze by stirring together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. If the glaze is too thick keep adding a bit of milk until it’s to the consistency you want. Poke the top of warm cake with a fork. Drizzle and spread the glaze completely over the cake.

Cook’s Note: I pour half of the glaze over the cake and let it seep into the cake and then wait about 15 – 20 minutes and add the remaining glaze mixture. (This was a good tip – worked well.) Cool for one hour before slicing.

 

Jun 142013
 

OK, so here’s the recipe I’ve been using. Clearly I’m slightly obsessed, but when you’re trying to do a lower-carb/higher fat/moderate protein (LCHF) diet, there are some things you miss, and I miss pizza.

But not so much anymore. Really. This works pretty darn well for me.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

For a low-carb (gluten free?) pizza, this one is the best I’ve found so far.
1/3 – 1/2 head cauliflower (I used about 1/2 for this one – it’s a forgiving recipe)
3.5 oz. grated parmesan, asiago, romano or other hard cheese
1.5 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 egg
(spices of your choosing – garlic, italian seasoning – skip salt, the cheese is salty)

Preheat oven to 400. Wash and dry the cauliflower (I use florets and stems) and chop it up in processor or chopper until resembles crumbs – then microwave for 3 minutes. Let it sit in microwave for about 5 minutes, then take it out and drain the cauliflower in cheesecloth or squeeze out excess water with paper towels. Add egg and cheese, and seasonings; mix in well.

Line a pizza pan or cookie sheet with parchment (I haven’t tried it without parchment, so I can’t tell you what would happen if you omit it)  then place the “dough” on and form into a circle. Pat well with your hands to make a nice shape. I make mine about 1/4 inch thick and then pat it again with paper towels once it is formed to get a little more moisture out. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden.

Remove the crust, turn oven to BROIL While the oven is heating, and add your sauce and a tiny bit more cheese (like an ounce – too much an it will be too cheesy), and any toppings you like. Place the pizza back in the oven to broil and watch it carefully. It only will take about 5 minutes for it to get toasty. If you don’t want to babysit it, you could skip the broiling part and just bake it for a bit more time.

Remove and enjoy.

It seems difficult, but it really isn’t once you do it a couple times. I haven’t gotten a crisp crust yet, but I’ve gotten a nice brown and a delicious flavor. Today I made sauce with 1 tomato and 1 can of tomato sauce (4oz) and some basil from my garden. Yum.

I’m going to add some flax or almond flour to my next pizza and see how that flies. This is pretty bare bones and works well.

May 182013
 

I like to order things online. It’s so much easier to comparison shop, read reviews, place the order, and find it on your doorstep soon after. I know, I know, the mom and pop are suffering from the ability to order online (specifically Amazon), but it saves me time and money.

Like I said in the last post, I’ve been blending up my coffee with cream and coconut oil. I was drinking it without blending it, but blending it makes it much tastier. But using my stick blender is pretty time-intensive on a short morning before work, so I ordered this – IKEA Produkt Milk Frother. It was less than $10 and eligible for Amazon Prime, and it had good reviews. And I didn’t have to leave the house to order it.

Low and behold, a few days later I came home from work to these two packages (one from Bath & Body Works, and one envelope).

The frother was in the envelope, nestled inside the box. No instructions, no batteries, just a very light-feeling frother.

Much smaller than the stick blender I’ve been using. Don’t get me wrong, I love my stick blender. I first used one when making soap, but then got one for making food. Lovely appliance. But taking it out and cleaning it was too much for me.

So, we had to put it to the test. Before blending (cream and coconut oil).

Here I am using the frother. It’s very quiet and feels like it is doing nothing. Sal took pictures for me while I frothed away. Much like the larger stick blender, it can make quite a mess, if you’re not careful. Using both of these blenders takes me back to my soapmaking days. Emulsifying the oils and the lye…

Here we are finished.

It’s not bad. Much more convenient than dragging out the stick blender, but also not as powerful. I definitely like to froth up even a simple cup of coffee and cream, or tea and cream. Blended, not stirred. It makes a difference.

All in all, I like my little frother. Was a worthwhile purchase. It certainly does the job, and I’m glad I ordered it. It’s been fun already making drinks for the kids.

Here was my Bath & Body Works delights. Mostly old scents that you can’t get in the stores, Sun Ripened Raspberry, Country Apple, but also a Coconut(something). They had free shipping plus a percent off, which made it a deal. And I didn’t have to leave the house or use my gas to get it. Yay me.

Mar 052013
 

OK, have to post this. I have a Costco membership, but miss some of the things I get at Sam’s. No way would I spend the full amount for a membership, but this Living Social deal makes it pretty sweet (nearly free):

  • $45 ($79.84 value) for a one-year Membership package (new members only)
  • Includes a $20 Sam’s Club gift card and $19.84 in food-service vouchers (Food vouchers valid for an Artisan Fresh Rotisserie Chicken, a 16″ Artisan Fresh Take-and-Bake Pizza, and two boxes of 6-, 12-, or 24-count Artisan Fresh Cookies)

If three of your friends sign up, you get it for FREE! Living Social Sam’s Club Deal. (Full disclosure: if you sign up through the link I’m posting, that counts as 1 friend for me – I signed up from a friend’s Facebook link… glad she posted it.)

Mar 042013
 

Every time I use my foot bath (which I’ve had for about 10 years, I ask myself why I don’t do it more often.

Every.

Time.

It is a simple act that feels incredibly indulgent. I don’t pay much attention to my feet, unless it is to paint my toenails, which I don’t do very often either, it seems.

Beyond enjoying the warm water, bubbles and massage, the delicious aromas of essential oils wafting around the room – I enjoy the fact that I’m saving a good $40 on a pedicure. I know many people would look at it otherwise, willing to spend the money and have someone else do it, which I do – about once a year. Every other time, I’m satisfied with my home experience, knowing I’m saving money on something I can do nearly as good.

And I don’t have to shave my legs before I do it at home.

(Not really) sorry to say, but my razor gets way less action in the winter months. This used to concern me more when I was about 20. I’m staring 40 in the eyes and it bothers me very little to admit that. Less than it did when I was 30. So the fact that I get to sit on my couch, update my blog, wear my sweats over my non-shaven legs… works for me.

 

Feb 212013
 

I love how the internet is like an open cookbook, accessible, vivid, and somewhat interactive. I can do without some of the 92-picture steps (and here is the tablespoon coming out of the drawer, dipping into the baking powder, coming out, being washed…), but I do enjoy the look inside other kitchens, even down to the utensils. So there it is.

The other day I was surfing for recipes, and came across one that doesn’t exactly fit into my calorie budget without a lot of accomodations, but I couldn’t resist: Butter Dipped Biscuits.

butterbiscuits

Super simple, very basic ingredients that you probably have on hand, and they are deeee-licious.

I found most recipes for these to be about the same, but am linking to the above source since it is her delicious picture (I didn’t bother with a picture of mine).

Butter Dipped Biscuits (food.com)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or “soured milk”)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a microwave-safe bowl (or you can use the baking dish that you’ll be baking these in), melt butter in the microwave.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour in the buttermilk (add the last 1/2 cup slowly… you may not need it all). Stir until a loose dough forms. Batter will be a bit sticky.

Pour/press biscuit dough into baking dish (right on top of the melted butter). Take a sharp knife and cut the biscuit dough into 9 squares before baking.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating dish once during baking.

(If you don’t have buttermilk, “sour” your regular whole milk with vinegar. Use about 1T. per cup. Add vinegar to milk, stir, and let sit for about 5 minutes.)

They were very tasty, and very easy. I had a half of one with my diner, and savored every bite.

Feb 152013
 

I’m trying to eliminate some of the things in my pantry and freezer. It’s working at about 50%, which is a start. Part of my aim is to cycle out what needs to be eaten (mainly in the freezer), and the other part is to save some money on groceries this month (pantry shopping). We had to replace tires on one of the cars, and have another unexpected expense with the van, so tightening the bootstrings even more is a must.

So I took an inventory of what I have in the freezer (up and down – one in the kitchen, one in the garage), and have tried to do what I can to rotate out some of the longer-standing items.

I can’t say I haven’t grocery shopped, but I have definitely shopped less, which is a win. I should say it is a “win” for the pocketbook, but a bit stressful on me trying to coordinate this fine dance. Some of my meals lately have been… less than spectacular. Some have been dandy, though, like the heart-shaped pizza I made yesterday.

We have a local pizza place that makes heart-shaped pizzas every Valentine’s Day. Initially we were going to order from there. So much easier (for me). The phone line was busy for half an hour. Once we got through, we learned the cost was $12 per pizza plus $2 per topping. Since the boys were off to wrestling, I figured I should be able to whip those up in the same time it would take to order out, and for less.

I made 2 pepperoni, and 2 of our favorite – sausage and banana pepper rings.

NOBODY complained. They rarely do when I make my own pizzas now at home. It’s very nice. We all like an ordered out pizza now and then, but it’s getting to where the ordered pizzas aren’t often as good as the ones made at home. These were no exception.

I had purchased two heart-shaped pans at Goodwill a while ago, thinking I might use them someday. They aren’t anything special. But lined with some olive oil and filled with dough, they were delicious.

That paired with some homemade brownies (I’ve yet to find a homeade version that is prepared over the boxed one):

And some strawberry milk (was NOT a hit, and I’m actually glad).

Today, though, a Friday, Frank’s working overtime (again). I’m tired. It’s been a long week and the last thing I wanted to do was to make another meal. I had eyed up the hot dogs earlier, figuring that could be a back-up plan, though I hate serving hot dogs. But it’s cheaper than $50 Chinese food.

But then I decided to make something I haven’t for a while. Rice Spaghetti. It is a one pot meal that is a breeze to throw together, and cooks up pretty fast.


Easy Rice Spaghetti & Meatballs

Ingredients
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1.5 cups brown rice
3 cups water
1 bag meatballs (I used Fit N’ Active Turkey meatballs from Aldi)

Directions
Put everything in a pot and stir.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until rice is chewy tender, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry about removing the lid and stirring. All is good. After rice is done, vent lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with olive oil and parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

I had mine with a glass of wine. Two of the boys ate theirs with leftover tortillas. I think they missed the point on it, but oh well.

 

It’s quite tasty.

Years ago, I’d whip up some rice, pour sauce over it, add some OO and cheese, and we’d dig in. It was decent eats on a budget. I’ve forgotten what a satisfying meal it can be. If you don’t have the meatballs, sub it for a veggie and add that on top. I was going to roast some broccoli, but I’m seriously THAT tired that it was too much work.