Tuesday, May 27, 2008


THE 10-MINUTE RESCUE by Mrs. Mary Hunt

The phone rings. Surprise! Long lost friends will be at your front door in 10 minutes. You have no time to clean the house. What you need is a 10-minute rescue. This is a terrific technique you should learn right now, and then keep tucked away for that time when despite your best efforts, you’re caught in a jam. So, are you ready? Go!

1. Set a small pan of water over medium heat. Dump in spices like cinnamon, allspice and cloves and leave it to heat.

2. Grab a box or grocery bag. Move through the house starting in the kitchen clearing counters, coffee tables, end tables and all other flat surfaces of clutter. Just scoop everything into the container and stash it in a closet.

3. Gather all bathroom clutter including towels, stuff lining the walls and ledges of the tub and shower, toys, and all the stuff on the vanity and deposit it in the tub or shower. Draw the curtain.

4. Clean all the flat surfaces you have just cleared using furniture polish or all-purpose cleaner as appropriate.

5. Empty the kitchen sink of dishes, pots and so on using the stash methods described above if necessary. The oven and dishwasher are handy hiding places. Scrub the sink, rinse quickly and perform a quick polish.

6. Starting at the front door vacuum the visible areas.

7. Light the candles and the fireplace.

8. Switch on the stereo and turn down the lights.

Whew! You made it. The house looks great. Smells good, too. Enjoy your company and when they are gone, take a few more minutes to go through the box in the closet, the pile in the tub and, above all, anything you stashed in the oven!

** Just remember to clean out all the places you stashed stuff after. I know when I was a young housewife I forgot that pile of pans was in the oven and turned it on to preheat! It wasn't a good experience. Also this really seems like it would take more then 10 minutes but it is a quick clean up if you have guests dropping by!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Maple Fudge

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cups butterscotch chips

2 sticks of butter

3 teaspoons maple extract

Place all ingredients except the maple extract into a 2-quart microwave safe mixing bowl and microwave on high for 10 minutes, stopping and stirring every 2 minutes. THE MIXTURE IS VERY HOT - so be CAREFUL! Let cool slightly and then beat with a mixer for 2 minutes. Add the extract and beat for another 3 to 4 minutes. It almost looks caramel in texture but it does come out fudge consistency.

Spread mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 inch square pan or you can also just butter the pan really well. I have done fudge both ways and it works fine. Chill to set and then cut into squares. I think it was close to 60 to 64 squares.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Service Quote

This is from an old Daily Om horoscope but thought it was a good one to keep around....

"Being of service to others can make us feel empowered. When you participate in making someone’s life better, you honor that person as well as yourself. As you exert your personal power in ways that benefit others, you derive a strong sense of fulfillment because you see how you have the ability to change the world for the better. When you’re of service to others, you receive their gratitude, which raises your self-esteem and revitalizes you. By being of service to others today, you can come to understand that even your smallest contributions to the world’s well-being have merit."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Banana Bread

I have went through many Banana Bread recipes. And they all turn out fine, but for some reason I always come back to the one out of Betty Crocker cookbook. It is easy for me to make. I like that it uses buttermilk too. I always have powdered buttermilk on hand and works and tastes just as good as real buttermilk.

Last week I had a couple bananas nearing that bad point so I peeled them, wrapped them and put them in the freezer as I didn't have time to do banana bread last week. But today I got some time so took those out and made Betty Crocker's Banana Bread (this one on the website is the same one in the cookbook).

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 medium bananas)
1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts - optional

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9" x 5" x 3" pan. (Or 2 - 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch pans)

Mix together sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk* and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and mix until just moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pan.

Bake 8-inch loaves for about 1 hour or 9-inch loaf 1 hour 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

* I put the powder for the buttermilk with the flour and then add equivalent in water where it says to add buttermilk.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Meal/Menu Planning

When I make my grocery list, I make up a meal list. I don't put mine on a calendar that says Tuesday is going to be homemade pizza because our schedules just change so often that I might not have the time to make dough on Tuesday. So I have a list I can refer to and see the options. There are also things that are staples in our pantry/freezer/fridge that I can make almost anytime so those meal ideas are usually on the list too. If you have a fairly consistent schedule, writing out the menu on a calendar is a great idea. And if you see on Thursday you are making a roast -- you can write on the calendar the day you need to take it out to thaw. We have a dry erase board on our fridge so I usually write a note to myself there if I need to take something out that morning.

In making my grocery list and planning meals, I clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry. I toss things that are don't look good or are expired. I usually try to wipe down the shelves as I do that too. But also in cleaning out things, it makes it easier for planning meals because I have a clear view of what is actually available. It also makes unloading groceries easier if things are organized and cleared out.

I try to plan about 2 weeks worth of menus besides the usual staple dinners I just always have on hand (such as stir fry).

In planning the menus I...
go through my recipe box

go through cookbooks

look at recipes I have bookmarked online

look at past meal lists/menu calendars - helps me get ideas but also helps me not repeat

look through grocery ads - often looking through them I find something that sparks an idea or sounds good

look in pantry, fridge, freezer -- is there something that needs to be used soon? Is there something I have quite a bit of so should start using it up? Also is there something I have in the pantry that I always prepare the same way - maybe I can come up with something new for it?

think about seasonal produce -- I think about what I can incorporate that is in season. Fresh produce that is in season always tastes extraordinary without a lot of work put into it. Just a little olive oil and salt and pepper and usually you can have a wonderful side.

ask - I ask Himself if there is anything he is craving or would like to see on the menu

This all might seem a little daunting - taking the time to do this, but the more menu planning you do, the easier it becomes. And you will be thankful that you are not looking in the pantry thinking what's can I make for dinner.

Additional Resources:
Meals.com - I haven't ever used them for planning menus but used a couple recipes before

mealsmatter.org - I just found them today when googling menu planning and signed up so will let you know how I like them in a week or so

Livejournal - Dinner Ideas -- You have to be a member of Livejournal but is it a community I find useful. Because it helps me remember what I made. I can go back and look at what we have had for dinner for the last month very easily.

Uncluttered -- they have an exel spreadsheet or pdf file that you can download to help in menu planning

Friday, May 9, 2008

Whole Wheat & Dark Chocolate Scones

Does everyone have a well seasoned pan they can't part with but probably should? The one that these scones sits on in the 2nd photo -- is mine. It has traveled through all my moves and I just can't get rid of it because I like how things bake on it.

But on to the main thing of this post....the Scones....Oh MY....these are fantastic! I really like to make tasty breads and sweets using whole wheat flour. And at times it just doesn't seem to work out with the whole wheat flour but these really do hit so many levels of wonderfulness! And isn't the dough just so pretty?

* 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
* 1 3/4 cup white all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 1/4 cup light brown sugar
* 1 tsp. baking powder

* 1 tsp. baking soda
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 2 Tbsp. ground yellow flaxseed meal
* 4 Tbsp. oats
* 6 Tbsp. butter
* 1 large egg
* 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (such as Ghiradelli 60% cocoa or Nestle 63% dark chips)

(I have used flaxseed instead of oats so 6 tablespoons of flaxseed and tasted just as good and also when I was out of flaxseed I used oats in place of flaxseed and again just as delicious)

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flaxseed meal and oats. Cut in butter using two knives or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk and vanilla together. Pour into dry ingredients. Using a fork, stir until dough is moist. Stir in chocolate chips. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading two or three times. Divide dough in half.

Pat each half into a circle, about 6 inches across. Cut dough into 6 wedges. Transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 375 on middle rack of oven for 20-22 minutes.

Makes 12 scones

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cleaning Tip: Garbage Disposal

Whenever I need to juice or zest from lemons, limes or oranges, I take the leftover juiced/zested fruit and cut them into little pieces maybe the size a quarter. I then put them in a zip lock and put them in the freezer. I pull a couple out pieces every once in a while to put in the garbage disposal as it makes it smell good. Plus helps clean it.

Another thing I do with the garbage disposal to help clean it is pour some baking soda down it and then let it sit for a bit. I then take some vinegar that I warmed up in the microwave and I pour that in and you can hear it fizz. I let it sit for a little bit and then run hot water while the disposal is turned on. It suppose to help clean as well as be good for keeping drain clear.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sour Cream Orange Muffins


1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup of sour cream - I used light because it is what I had on hand
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar

Heat oven to 375. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper baking cups (or spray with cooking spray.)

In a large bowl mix 1/2 cup sugar, oil, egg, almond extract and orange zest. Add sour cream and milk and mix until just blended. Mix in flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle batter with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Serve warm or cold.


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