Friday, July 30, 2010

Five Facts Friday - Coffee Filters

1. Because coffee filters are lint-free and don't leave behind any residue, they are great to use on windows and mirrors.

2. Place a filter at the bottom of a flower pot to prevent soil from leaking out of the drainage hole.

3. Place a coffee filter between china or pans when storing or packing.

4. Place a coffee filter over your camera flash to soften the brightness. You can also try putting coffee filters over lights or lamps to lessen the harshness of direct light when taking indoor photos.

5. Tie lavender or other dried flowers and herbs in a coffee filter to make great smelling bundles you can store in drawers and closets.


**Thank you to Jeanne for passing on the above ideas.**

Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Lasagna Day

Today is a wonderful yummy scrumptious day! Lasagna is my all time favorite food and Sissy makes the best lasagna!

Sissy's Lasagna

1 pound regular flavor Jimmy Dean sausage, cooked and drained
1 box lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 to 1-1/2 jars Prego Three Cheese sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese

Put a thin layer of sauce in bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Layer on top with noodles. Then (in no particular order) layer: 1/3 of the ricotta, 1/4 of the mozzarella, sprinkle of Parmesan, 1/3 of the sausage and cover all with sauce. In the opposite direction of the others, layer noodles to start your next layer. Repeat.

The last layers should be noodles topped with sauce cover everything so the noodles don't get crunchy) and then cover the entire top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. If the cheese starts to brown too much, cover with foil. It's done when the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to ...

The internet is such a source of entertainment and knowledge. I love seeing what how-to videos are out there. Today is arranging roses.

***
Dear Men:

It is not Valentine's Day. It may not even be your wife/girlfriend's birthday or your anniversary. It's Wednesday. That's it. Wednesday. Just thought I would give you that head's up before you freak out.

Love, Me
***



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Oatmeal Cleanser

Oatmeal Cleanser

1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 tablespoon glycerine (found at your local health food store)

Blend until smooth/creamy - gently massage into skin. Rinse with tepid water. Pat dry.

*Mild, soothing - good for sensitive skin.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Substitute It!

Don't have it on hand? Here are some substitutes to keep in mind before you panic and head to the grocery store.


Heavy Cream: For 1 cup of heavy cream use 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup very soft butter. Mix with whip or warm carefully in microwave.

Lemon Juice: For 1 teaspoon lemon juice use 1/2 teaspoon vinegar.

Maple Syrup: For 3/4 cup maple syrup use 1 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons water plus 1 tablespoon maple flavoring.

Friday, July 23, 2010

National Hot Dog Day

When I think of the Summer and hot dogs, my mind goes to fairs and good ol' fashioned fried in oil corn dogs.

Homemade Corn Dogs

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 egg
3/4 cup whole milk
4 hot dogs
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Frying oil


Pour the oil in a cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or deep fryer. Heat over medium-high heat until a thermometer reads 375 degrees. You can test the oil by putting a drop of the batter in. When it rises to the top, the oil is ready.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cayenne. In a large bowl whisk the one egg and whole milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients all at once, mixing until just combined. The mixture will look a lot like pancake mix. Don't over-mix and let it rest for 10 minutes.

While your batter is resting, spread the cornstarch on a baking sheet or big plate. Place each hot dog on a skewer and roll in the cornstarch, being sure to pat off any excess. Quickly dip the hot dog in and out of the batter. Immediately place the corn dog in the hot oil. Caution: The oil will be very hot! Cook until the coating is golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove with tongs and place on paper towels for draining. Serve with ketchup and mustard.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

10 $ Saving Tips

Unless you're Bill Gates (now the 2nd richest man in the world for 2010), we all could use some tips on how to save $.

1.
Sign up for every free customer rewards program you can. Even if you rarely shop at that place, having a rewards card for that place will eventually net you some coupons and discounts. Here's the basic game plan for maximizing these programs: create a Gmail address just for these mailings, collect every card you can, and then check that account for extra coupons whenever you’re ready to shop.

2. Make your own gifts instead of buying stuff from the store. You can make food mixes, candles, bread, cookies, soap, and all kinds of other things at home quite easily and inexpensively. These make spectacular gifts for others because they involve your homemade touch, plus quite often they’re consumable, meaning they don’t wind up filling someone’s closet with junk. Even better – include a personal handwritten note with the gift. This will make it even more special than anything you could possibly buy down at the mall, plus it saves you money.

3. Master the thirty day rule. Whenever you’re considering making an unnecessary purchase, wait thirty days and then ask yourself if you still want that item. Quite often, you’ll find that the urge to buy has passed and you’ll have saved yourself some money by simply waiting. If you want, you can even keep a “thirty day list” where you write down the item and the day you’ll reconsider it, but I prefer just to keep this one in my head – that way, I often just forget about the unimportant things.

4. Write a list before you go shopping – and stick to it. One should never go into a store without a strong idea of what one will be buying while in there. Make a careful plan of what you’ll buy before you go, then stick strictly to that list when you go to the store. Don’t put anything in the cart that’s not on the list, no matter how tempting, and you’ll come out of the store saving a bundle.

5. Don’t spend big money entertaining your children. Most children, especially young ones, can be entertained very cheaply. Buy them and end of newspaper from your local paper and let their creativity run wild. Make a game out of ordinary stuff around the house, like tossing pennies into a jar, even. Realize that what your children want most of all is your time, not your stuff, and you’ll find money in your pocket and joy in your heart.

6. Be diligent about turning off lights before you leave. If you spend one minute turning off lights before a two hour trip, that’s the equivalent of earning $50 an hour. That’s some impressive savings, particularly if you do it before longer trips. The key is to use less energy, particularly when you’re not using the device

7. Install CFL (or, even better, LED) bulbs wherever it makes sense. These bulbs might cost more initially, but they both have a longer life than normal incandescent bulbs and they both eat far less electricity. CFLs tend to use about 25% of the electricity of an incandescent – LEDs use about 2%. CFLs are cheaper than LEDs right now and produce better light, but not quite as good as incandescent bulbs. My policy? Put LEDs in closets and out of the way places, use CFLs for hall and some room lighting, and use incandescent bulbs (until the other bulbs get better) where you read and do other eye-intensive activities. This will trim a significant amount from your electric bill.

8. Install a programmable thermostat. These devices regulate the temperature in your house automatically according to the schedule that you set. Thus, when you’re not home, it allows the heating or cooling to turn off for several hours, saving you on your energy bill. A programmable thermostat can easily cut your energy bill by 10 to 20%.

9. Hide your credit cards. Take your credit cards and put them in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet where it’s easy to spend them. If you argue that you need it for “emergencies,” just be sure to keep a small amount of cash hidden in your wallet for these emergencies. Don’t keep plastic on you until you have the willpower to not use it even when you’re sorely tempted

10. Master the 10 second rule. Whenever you pick up an item in order to add it to your cart or to take it to the checkout, stop for ten seconds and ask yourself why you’re buying it and whether you actually need it or not. If you can’t find a good answer, put the item back. This keeps me from making impulse buys on a regular basis.
-Taken from www.thesimpledollar.com

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Check it Out!

Recently I was blog stalking stumbled across an awesome blog called I Can Teach My Child! The blog writer's name is Jenae and she has so many wonderful ideas to do with your children - no matter their age! Check out her website by clicking below:



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Basic Astringent

Basic Astringent

3 tablespoons distilled water
2 tablespoons witch hazel
3 tablespoons apple juice

Mix all ingredients. After cleansing skin, apply with clean cotton ball. For sensitive skin, use only witch hazel.

*The apple juice contains pectin, which is soothing to skin.

Monday, July 19, 2010

National Raspberry Cake Day

Raspberry Blueberry Coffee Cake

FOR THE CAKE:
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries

FOR THE TOPPING:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cream the butter in a large bowl until light, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Mix the eggs in one at a time. Mix in the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Combine the berries in a small bowl. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, spoon the berries over the batter and top with the remaining batter.

For the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the batter and cut it into the dry mixture until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the cake.

Bake for an hour or until a tester comes out clean.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Splashin' Summer Fun!


Have some backyard fun with the kids this summer with some not-the-norm water games.

1. Splish Splash I just made a catch!

Create "catchers" by cutting the bottom off a gallon-size milk jug (one for each person). You may also tape the edges if they are a little on the sharp side.

Fill up water balloons to the size of a grapefruit.

See how many times you can toss the balloons without breaking them or how far you can catch and throw them.


2. Sponge War!

Each person gets a small bucket filled with water and a big car wash sponge. Stand about 8 feet apart with their buckets on the ground directly in front of them.

Each person tries to throw their wet sponge into the other's bucket. Ultimate goal: splash the other person. Continue playing until it becomes an all out sponge war.


3. Fill 'Er Up!

Have children stand across from each other. One holds a small cup with a Ping-Pong ball in it and the other a water-filled spray bottle. On "go," players with bottles try to squirt enough water into the cup to float out the ball. *Keep a bucket of water nearby for refilling.


4. I think my water broke!

Create a hose hat for each person by cutting off the panty hose (medium or small) at the thigh and putting a water ballon in the toe of each.

The hose hats should hang at least to the shoulders.

Object of the game: To pop others balloons inside the panty hose. Person whose water was not broken wins!


5. Water Baseball

Try playing baseball using a water balloon. Kids will enjoy creating a splash when they connect with the "ball."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Goodbye Forever

Sadly this post brings with it recent experience. We recently bought a bunch of bananas with the idea of making Banana Nut Bread. However, VBS came up on us and there was no time to spend stirring and baking. So the bananas sat there in the lovely basket in the corner breeding fruit flies. The bananas are long gone. Now I want the fruit flies gone.

We did several experiments - some involving milk, sugar and pepper; others involving Pepsi left out for them to enjoy - but the one that worked (can I hear a big YAHOOO!!!) involved simply 2 ingredients.

Goodbye Fruit Flies

Apple Cider Vinegar
Dishwashing liquid

Pour the apple cider vinegar into a mason jar and add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid. The flies will be attracted to the apple cider vinegar and take a plunge only to get bogged down by the dishwashing liquid. Pure genius!

Note #1: Apple cider vinegar works best. For some reason they are not attracted to white vinegar.

Note #2: The flies will usually take the plunge at night when it is dark and they have no idea they are being sucked down into the hole of death.

Note #3: I hope you never have to use this tip.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Equivalent To...

Confectioners' sugar
1 pound = 4 cups

Walnuts
1 pound = 3-3/4 cups chopped

Cream, whipping
1 cups = 2 cups whipped

Butter or margarine
1 pound = 2 cups; 4 sticks

Cocoa, baking
1 pound = 4 cups

Almonds
1 pound = 3 cups halved; 4 cups slivered

Popcorn
1/3 to 1/2 cup unpopped = 8 cups popped


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Soothing Baths

Soothing Baths

*Soothing baths help relax and restore, especially good before bed.

Combine:
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup baking soda

Add any of the following ingredients to above ingredients for luxury and pampering:
-Lavender
-Chamomile
-Milk (whole, not skim)
-Rose petals

*If you don't have the herbs, use tea bags!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pecan Pie Day

Why Pecan Pie Day is in the middle of July and not around say, Thanksgiving, is beyond me. Pecans just scream Fall. I guess it's some small concept like when they are harvested and such. So although the weather does not scream Fall, enjoy pecan pie in muffin form.

Pecan Pie Muffins

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted


Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Beat eggs until foamy. Stir together eggs and butter; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.

Spoon batter into muffin cups (either lined with baking cups or sprayed with cooking spray), filling 2/3's full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done. Remove from pan immediately.

Pecan Pie Muffin review:

"Pecan Pie is too sweet but the muffins are great because they have the flavor of Pecan Pie but are not overly sweet."
-Review by Chris and D.L.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Five Facts Friday - Lemons


1. One medium lemon has about 3 tablespoons of juice and 3 tablespoons of grated peel.

2. Store lemons at room temperature for about two weeks. They will keep for up to six weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use lemons as quickly as possible after cutting.

3. Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays for later use.

4. Add a few drops of lemon juice to whipping cream if it doesn't stiffen.

5. Use lemon to replace salt in your recipes….you'll have less sodium.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Substitute It!

Don't have it on hand? Here are some substitutes to keep in mind before you panic and head to the grocery store.


Yogurt: For 1 cup of yogurt use 1 cup of buttermilk or 1 cup of milk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.

Unsweetened Baking Chocolate: For 1 ounce use 3 tablespoons cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon butter.

Half-and-Half Cream: For 1 cup of half-and-half use 1 cup of undiluted evaporated milk.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

There is a great excuse for not posting today. Hmmm.... let's see. It goes something like this:

I forgot.

Guess that's not really an excuse - that's a statement. Hmmm.... let's see.

I was super duper busy this weekend and totally forgot that there was not a post scheduled for today.

Guess that's not really an excuse either - that's a fact. Therefore I have no excuse.

Please forgive me. I will be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Sunburn?

Sunburn?

Add regular black tea bags (10-15) to tepid bath, soak for 15-20 minutes. The tannic acid of the tea helps draw the sting out of the sunburn.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thirst Quencher

This lemonade goes fast so be sure to make a large batch of it!

Homemade Lemonade

7 large lemons
1 cup sugar
2 quarts cold water

Slice 6 lemons in half and squeeze each of them into a large measuring cup. This should yield about 1-1/2 cups of juice. Remove any seeds.

In a large pitcher, combine the juice and the sugar. Stir in 2 quarts of cold water. Serve over ice. Slice the extra lemon and float in lemonade.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Create an explosion as you celebrate the 4th of July with this firecracker of a dessert!

Firecracker Bites

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup cold milk
1 package (3.4 oz.) vanilla instant pudding
1-1/2 cups thawed whipped topping, divided
1 package (12 oz.) vanilla wafers
1/2 cup mixed red, white and blue sprinkles
42 pieces red string licorice (1 inch)


Beat cream cheese in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix; beat 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup whipped topping.

Spoon about 1-1/2 tablespoons pudding mixture onto each of half wafers; cover with remaining wafers to make sandwiches. Freeze 2 hours or until filling is firm.

Spread tops of wafer sandwiches with remaining whipped topping. Dip in sprinkles. Insert licorice piece in top of each for the fuse. Freeze until ready to serve.



Tip on how to fill sandwiches:
Spoon pudding mixture into resealable plastic bag. Cut off small corner from bottom of bag; use to pipe pudding onto wafers. Cover with remaining wafer and continue as directed.