Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chaos Pays A Visit

I might have mentioned on my Facebook page this week something about chaos.

I like to be challenged off and on. I also love my ruts. Ruts are good. They are peaceful. There is never anything unexpected in my ruts.

I can go long periods of time and never think twice when I'm there. The house is clean. It's quiet. I have plenty of "me" time. I know what is going to happen next and at what time.

Occasionally Chaos pays a visit. When Chaos arrives, he doesn't knock quietly and come in for a cup of coffee. He disrupts every single part of my daily life. I need structure. Schedules. Timelines. I need to know what happens next. Chaos doesn't see it that way.

Chaos can appear sweet and innocent.

Sometimes you just know that chaos will be there and can't stop it.
And while this chaos is happening you have everyone around you wondering why you're so stressed.

And before it's all over with you feel like this:
Soon Chaos will be taking his leave. It's not just him, he brought along Chaos Sr and Chaos Jr too! But until then my life will be crazy.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Second Cake

Mikey asked me to make a cake for him. That's pretty rare. I told him of course I would. He is not a big fan of chocolate cake and that was all we had in the house. He had a dream about pineapple upside down cake and woke up with a craving. Robin to the rescue!

No problem. Except I haven't found the right recipe yet. I went to Betty Crocker and used one of her's with a couple of modifications. I was also happy that I would be able to use my maraschino cherries in something so soon.

I had to do some guessing when I made this because I don't actually eat it myself so the taste test only happens when it's too late. When I look at it I imagine most of the appeal is in the caramel that runs down after the cake is turned out of the pan so the first change I usually make is doubling those proportions in the recipe.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup packed brown sugar (I used Splenda Brown sugar blend)

1 can sliced pineapple in juice (from 14-oz can), drained (reserve)

7-9 maraschino cherries without stems, if desired

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)

1/3 cup shortening

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-inch cast iron skillet (or 9" square pan), melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Place back in oven for 5 minutes to melt the sugar slightly. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice.

In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. I believe by using Splenda it changed the consistency quite a bit. I added about 1 tablespoon of the pineapple juice but could have added 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the juice. The batter was very thick! Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries. (Or in my case, spread it.)

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. (I knew at this point the cake wasn't great. The top was quite hard.)

Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm. Store cake loosely covered.

My husband did not the cake at all. He said it was flavorless and dry. (Except the caramel and outside edges.)

The next day I used a yellow cake mix and instead of water used pineapple juice, 1/3 cup oil and 2 eggs. It turned out much better!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cream Soup - 6 Ways

I love experimenting in the kitchen. Especially if it's something that is going to save me time or money or both. Well okay, this one is probably not a time saver except that I don't have to run to the grocery store to buy it! Money saver, yes. I really don't mind spending a little extra time cooking something if I know what goes into it and it costs less than buying it.

Here is the Pinterest idea that got me to thinking about different ways I could make my own soup.

I took that recipe, did some more research and decided I wanted to make 5 types of cream soup. Here is what I came up with.

Base recipe:
6 cups instant (dry) milk
2 1/4 cups cornstarch
3/4 cup chicken bouillon granules
6 Tablespoons freeze dried minced onions
1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Flavors: (more info after the pictures)
1/2 cup freeze dried chicken
1/2 cup dehydrated onion
1/2 cup freeze dried mushrooms
1/2 cup freeze dried celery
1/2 cup freeze dried broccoli
*You could also use 1/2 cup freeze dried potato instead of one of the above. I was out of potato but would use it instead of onion.*

Mix the base recipe together.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the base recipe into a bowl. Mix in one of the flavors. Store in airtight container. I'm using a Lock N Lock container. I was going to use a canning jar but these will make it easier to measure right out of the container.

Mushroom (I chopped the mushrooms up smaller.)




To make your soup measure 1/3 cup of the mix into 1 1/2 cups cold water in a sauce pan.

Whisk together. Cook on medium low heat until your flavor is tender and soup is thickened, about 10 minutes.
I didn't get a picture of the cooked soup. Silly me. My roommate came home for lunch about that time and ate the whole thing. It was really that good! It was gone before I realized I didn't get a picture.

Now, as far as the flavors go there are several options. My preference is THRIVE. I know the product and trust it for it's fresh flavor. I have tried other brands and they are so-so. In fact I believe in it so much that I became a consultant, and that is saying something. I'll leave it up to you to decide where to buy, but here is my suggestion if you want to make this and don't want to buy the biggest cans:

1 #10 can instant milk That is enough to make recipe 4 times.
1 Pouch each: onion, mushroom, potato, celery, broccoli. Enough to make recipe 3 times.
1 pantry can chicken. Enough to make recipe 10 times. (But has many other uses!)

I'm doing the math as I'm going along and I'm no mathematician so if you are one, don't shoot me!

The recipe makes the equivalent of 39 cans of 10 ounce soups. With the above ingredients you could make the recipe a full three times or 117 cans of soup. That's a LOT of soup! The cost of a can of cream of soup varies so I will try to use an average of $1.50 per can. That is a total cost of $175+ to buy all that soup. My suggestion would cost you around $70.00 with shipping. That's a savings of over $100! Okay, that math was for my own self to make sure it was cost effective. I am very pleased!! Oh wait, I didn't figure in the cost of the other ingredients but even if it added $10 or $20 it is still a huge savings.

The base recipe is in multiples of three so if you wanted to cut it down you should be able to do so easily. 

*For my overseas friends. I am not sure of the availability of freeze dried foods for you but I do hope there is something available.*

I have more ideas that I think I'm going to try with this. Cauliflower, cheese, tomato. Once these are all mixed up they will make such a nice quick lunch or quick additions to perk up other dishes. Which will you try?

Linking up to:
Our Everyday Harvest: Harvest of Friends Hop

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Home Management System Part 1

Home Management System

What is it?  It is a binder that contains all your important information and schedules to make your house run a little bit smoother. It is not a tiny dayrunner. This book has everything. The box is portable and keeps you focused.

Where do I keep it? In a convenient place for quick reference.

Why do I want one? Make your life easier and more efficient. I forget why I stand up much less why I went into a room. If I don't have a written plan it's not going to get done. You might not have that problem but it will still make more efficient use of your time.

When do I use it? All the time. 

How do I make one? Follow along through this series and learn how to make your own. 

There are so many ways to make one, this one works for me. It saves so me so much time because I don’t have to run around looking for numbers, or dates or whatever else I might need to know. I will go through each section and help you set it up. At the same time I will updating and changing mine around. If there is a section you would like to see but I don't have it listed let me know and I'll see what I can come up with for you.

When making a home management book the first thing you need to consider is what goes in the book. Here are some ideas:

Personal information page for each family member
Household cleaning schedule
Home inventory
Car maintenance schedule
Master occasions list (birthdays, anniversaries)
Gift suggestion list
Party ideas
Credit card list
Online account information
Home/Storage inventory
Grocery List
Utilities directory
Warranty information
Vehicle records
First aid kit checklist
Medical emergency directory
Pet records
If you have children at home there are probably many more options such as: Chores, homework, sitters, etc. 

You know what your family needs are so just take a while to think about the information that you are constantly hunting down and include it in the book. Because they're expandable, household management books become as distinctive as the family that uses them.

Divide your list into Sections:
I kept my binder pretty simple with these:

Daily Schedule: Changes often but I’ll tell you how to deal with that.
Budget: Make one that works best for you.
Meal Planning: I’ll write more on this in another entry
Family Info: One section for each family member including personal and medical information.
Cleaning: Weekly, Monthly, Yearly lists
Emergency Phone Numbers: Doctor, utility, vet
Misc Lists: Christmas Card, birthday gift ideas, decorating, etc. Just lists.
Calendar: Birthdays and Holidays written in
Addresses: Written in pencil because they change
Accounts: This is where I keep all of our account numbers and how to contact the company. Utility, Auto, Home, Library
Pets: Should be written the same as other family members.

We will begin to put it together during the next installment. So after you make your lists up you will need to gather or acquire the following:
  • 3-Ring Binder (Mine is currently in a 2 ½ inch binder and I’m switching to a 5”. ) Don't get a zippered binder or you will spend the day opening and closing the book.
  • Tabbed dividers
  • Lists of birthdays and other information you decided on
  • Lined paper for more notes and lists
  • Clear plastic page protectors-Heavy duty type
  • Pocket pages
  • Large manila envelopes
  • Small sticky notes and flags
  • Zipper pencil case
  • Pencils, permanent markers, dry-erase markers and highlighters
  • Three-hole punch
  • Small Recipe box and 3x5 cards - I use colored cards and will explain this more later also. 
Don't start putting it together yet. It will get done in steps as we progress. I'm also working on getting printables up that you can modify yourself by downloading into your program. You can just print them and fill them in. (As far as the binder that I'm using goes, it's a simple green 3-ring binder that I decorated myself.)

You might want to consider creating special binders for different things you might not use daily but want to keep the information in one location.
Such as:
Party Planning
Holiday celebrations
Anniversaries and birthdays
Lawn care and gardening
Scrapbooking ideas
Sewing ideas and printed patterns
Hobby ideas and info
Recipes (For me this one is a must to have extra and I have more than one.)

I'm afraid to hit publish! I know there is something I should be saying here but I'm missing! Leave your questions in the comments section and I will answer as soon as I can. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-Look Back

Christmas Eve 2011
I said no matter what I would be there with bells on. And I was. Coldest, rainiest day of the year.

Our little group.
The buses are here!

I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself.
It is so hard not to run out there.
Getting closer.

And closer.

It's been a LONG year.

No better place in the world to be than together.

Linking up to:
Let Them Eat Cake-Wordless Wednesday

Welcome Wednesday Blog Hop

Blog hops are so much fun. You never know what you are going to find.

If you are a reader, browse through the links to see what you can find.

If you are a blogger, add your link. (Following all the etiquette rules of course.)

This hop comes from Take It From Me-Welcome Wednesday

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Grandma's Recipes

A good while back my Uncle sent me a handful of my Grandma's old recipes. The goal is to go through the stack and make the recipes and document it. The envelope has been sitting there. Waiting for me. I finally grabbed it and decided now is the time.

My Grandma loved recipes. She collected them, just like I do. So many times we collect things that are never used. They are just sitting there gathering dust. I don't know if I will be able to make all the recipes. Some of the things no longer exist but I will do my best.

The Taffy Bar recipe as you can see in the picture was very well used. It is a family favorite. Now as I am writing this all I can think of is how good they would be for dessert. Too bad there is cake left to eat.

I haven't counted how many recipes there are in the stack. A few, but not too many. This is all that was sent to me, all that could be found.
I have already done the Taffy Bars. Next up is Zucchini Ginger Bread. I hope you will follow along with me for this goal.

Do you have any recipes from someone special?

It's your blog too.

I want to make sure that this blog is also about things you want. I am full of information that I have plans on writing about but it won't do me any good unless you want to read it. I also love interacting with you. Your feedback is always welcome.

Sometimes it's hard to interact with someone you don't know. (I know that all too well.) So, here is more about me:

In some things I am a perfectionist.
In many cases I have OCD.
I find organizing things therapeutic.
I love to craft but I'm by no means creative. I can take ideas and make them my own, that's about it.
I am a problem solver.
I believe in food storage and the sense of security it gives me.
A clean home is wonderful but not completely necessary. It's better to be organized with dust on the furniture than no speck of dust and not knowing where anything is.
I believe that being a homemaker is a very hard job. (Hardest I've ever had!) It is neverending 24/7 with no vacation. (Even if you go on vacation a homemaker is still working.)
I believe in standing up for what I believe is right.
I believe in walking away from an argument when I know it isn't going anywhere.
I am intelligent.
My grammar stinks! (Just ask my husband.)
I enjoy learning new things every day. (I hate not knowing something.)
I love my kids.
I love my family.
I love my pets.
I love gardening. (Except in Texas. My green thumb turned brown.)
I love being in the kitchen and it's where I spend most of my time.
I love our soldiers.
I love our country.
I am not politically minded and have no party. I believe in the individual.
I have to do something all the time. I cannot sit idly, ever. Unless I'm asleep. There are days my health won't let me be up and about so I work on other things using my computer.
There is always something else to do, ALWAYS.
My hobbies include but are not limited to: Cooking, baking, sewing, herbalism, crafting, food storage, emergency preparedness, canning/preserving, gardening, pets, reading, cross stitch, embroidery and math puzzles (Kakuro, not Sodoku.) Oh, I forget Pinterest! (Can I call that a hobby?)
I'm terrified of spiders!
I am eccentric. (Deviating from the recognized or customary character, practice, etc.; irregular; erratic; peculiar; odd.)
I am eclectic. (Not following any one system, as of philosophy, medicine, etc., but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems.)
I have knowledge I will gladly share if asked.
I am shy.
I don't like crowds.
I don't watch sports or follow them in any way.
I don't watch cooking shows. (Or really any other DIY type shows.)
I love movies but have to watch them 100 times to get it all. (I wouldn't if I could just sit and watch the movie and do nothing else.)
I love lists. I have discovered that as you get older you REALLY do forget everything if it's not written down.
I'm friendly and giving.
I get hurt when people abuse our friendship.
I do not swear very often. (If I do and my voice is raised, watch out!)

That is really all I can think of right now. I think that gives you a fairly good idea of who I am.

Okay, so before I start posting nonsense or rambling on even more head over to Pinterest and link in the comments or on Facebook what you would like to see tried, tested or made.

Part of my family. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grilled Vegetables Italian Style

Someone commented they would like to see recipes that had eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes in it. I just could not find anything that I wanted to make that used all three at once. I have a friend that used this recipe and told me about it so I am sharing it with you. 
I still have to decide what I'm going to do with my veggies. The tomato I'm not worried about. I'm sure the zucchini will become bread. I might just toss the eggplant into the bread too.

Grilled Vegetables Italian Style

Any amount to your liking. 
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  1. Prepare enough Marinade to Generously cover your veggies.
  2. Put your EVOO in a sauce pan.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Chop 4 cloves garlic in large chunks.
  5. Mince Thyme and Rosemary very finely and add only a small amount of rosemary and a bit more thyme.
  6. Simmer until the garlic gets a bit of color.
  7. Remove from heat
  8. You may strain out garlic and herbs or leave them.
  9. Add chopped basil and wilt it.
  10. Slice Zucchini, Eggplant, Peppers into large enough chunks that they don't fall into the grill (think lengthwise!)
  11. Half the tomatoes and seed them.
  12. Coat everything in the Marinade.
  13. Reserve the rest of the marinade.
  14. Grill until tender. Keep it flipping to avoid too much char.
  15. Spoon all the "goodies" (garlic and herbs) out of the marinade onto the finished platter of veggies.
  16. Drizzle a bit of balsamic over.
  17. Grind some fresh pepper on top.
  18. Serve over Pasta, or alongside meat. (The Marinade will do great on steaks but don't use it for anything after the meat so maybe just make a bit more! Soak it then rub a bit of ground thyme on the meat then grill!)
Recipe from Bountiful Baskets.

If you have a Bountiful Baskets in your area I highly recommend them! You get two baskets of fresh produce for $15..amazing. In fact this recipe used many of the foods in our last basket. I think some might have been an Italian add on but still fantastic if you love fresh produce. 

Easiest (And cheapest) Way to Clean Your Microwave

It is amazing how quickly food splatters build up in the microwave. Even if I cover the food, I swear it jumps out from under the cover and bounces around.

I have been using this method I think as long as I have owned a microwave. I try to give mine a quick weekly cleaning but sometimes it ends up being longer. I don't know why. It's one of the easiest appliances to clean. And it doesn't take anything special. In fact I bet you have what it takes in your kitchen already.

A coffee cup

Yep, that's it.

(Silly me forgot to take a picture of before! And it was NOT a pretty site.)

Fill your coffee cup with water. Place it in center of microwave. Close the door. Turn microwave on for two minutes.

Leave the cup in there while you are cleaning up the rest of the kitchen. 10-30 minutes should be long enough.

If you have a removable tray wash it off in the sink and let it dry. Use your wet dish cloth and just wipe it out. All the stuck on gunk wipes right off with no scrubbing.

That's it. You're done.

If only everything was this easy to clean.... 

Linking up to:
The Thrifty Home