Friday, December 20, 2013

Cocktail: Hot Apple Kiss

I made some wassail to sip on Thanksgiving day.  We had some left so I made what I am calling a Hot Apple Kiss based on the cold version here.

Add to mug:
1/2 oz to 1 oz amaretto
1/2 oz to 1 oz.spiced rum

Top with hot apple cider and mix. Garnish with apple or orange slices. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pans and Place-mats

I like place-mats for the table, but you know how it get some new ones and those old ones sit in the drawer or on a shelf. I now use some of  the old ones to place between pans so they don't get scratched by stacking each inside the other. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Balsamic Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms

1 lb. fresh green beans 
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450F.

Wash mushrooms. Cut mushrooms into slices 1/2 inch thick. Wash green beans.  Trim green bean ends.

Place both into a zliplock bag or a plastic bowl. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over, then squeeze bag or stir so all the beans and mushrooms are lightly coated with the mixture.

Arrange on in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Roast 20-30 minutes.

Cook until beans are tender-crisp, mushrooms are cooked, and all liquid on the pan from mushrooms has evaporated.

Season beans to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper, then sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan. Serve.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cocktail: Toasted Almond

Last December Katie posted 2 recipes for Coffee Liqueur. I made some for gifts Christmas 2012 and I am going to again this year. It did the 3-day method last year and will again this year.  

Our ususual drink for coffee liqueur is a shot or 2 in an old fashioned glass with ice and milk. The first batch I made this year went to a new drink a Toasted Almond

1 or 2 shots coffee liqueur
1 shot amaretto almond liqueur
8 oz milk
2 tbsp chocolate syrup (optional)

Mix all together. Serve in an old fashioned glass over ice.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Organize Plastic Lids

You know back in the day when you had actual ice cube trays to twist and turn out into the bin to create a stock pile of ice. I have automatic ice maker now so I use that bin to store all my plastic lids.  I place the bin on the shelves next to the stacked glass and plastic containers making it easy to find the lid for the coordinating container. I don't keep any lid that doesn't have a container matching it in the bin. I might use it for craft projects to use as a paint palette several times and then throw it out. But I try to recycle them somewhat at least.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

All About Winter Squash

Some Popular Types of Winter Squash

  • Acorn Squash
  • Autumn Cup Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Banana Squash
  • Carnival Squash
  • Delicata Squash
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Kabocha Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sugar Pie Pumpkins


The Basics

Winter squash comes in a variety of shapes round, elongated, scalloped, and pear-shaped and have bright colors such as golden-yellow and brilliant orange. The inside flesh has a sweet, nutty flavor.  Winter squash can be stored for months in a cool basement and often available year-round, but the natural season goes from late summer to mid-winter.  They are rich in antioxidants as well as a variety of vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin A and C, fiber, and potassium.

Choosing/Buying a Winter Squash and Storage

Winter squash should have a firm skin/rind and feel heavy. Make sure to choose one without mold, sunken spots, cuts or punctures in the skin.  The stem should be undamaged as well. Don't store in the refrigerator, but just in a cool dry place for about a month. After cutting the squash, it can wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for about 4 or 5 days. Once a winter squash is cooked, the inside flesh can be frozen.


The exterior of the squash should be washed just before using. To cut from What's America Cooking: "To cut winter squash in half, grasp the squash firmly and use a sharp knife to slice through to the center. Then flip and cut the other side until the squash falls open. Remove and discard the seeds. Hint: Place the whole winter squash in the microwave for 3 minutes; then cut it easily, remove seeds, add butter, etc, and put into hot oven to bake. (Perforate with knife before putting in microwave so it won't explode.)" The seeds can be scooped out before cooking or after, but I usually do it before cooking. Most of the winter squash varieties are great for puréeing, roasting and baking.  Pureed squash can be mashed and used in soups, entrees, side dishes, even sweets and breads such as muffins or pies.


What's Cooking America - has a list of squash and a variety of facts about each such as what they look like and when available. This link also has prepping and cooking information. 

Cooking Light Winter Squash Recipes -
a list of recipes for Winter Squash

Smitten Kitchen Pumpkin and Squash Recipes -
a list of recipes


Friday, October 4, 2013

Spicy Mayo


I like spicy hot. Master doesn't so much. When he goes out of town. I make comfort food and french fries or tator tots with a dipping sauce is always a good comfort food to me.  So I recently made a fish sandwich and didn't want tarter or chili sauce on it and made this to not only dip fries into, but add to my fish sandwich.  It was completely yummy! I now use it as a condiment on many sandwiches and hamburgers too. It is really easy to make.

3 Tablespoons mayo 
1 Tablespoon Sriracha, Tabasco or any chili hot sauce

* In bowl, combine ingredients and mix until smooth. 
* Use as dip for fries or chips or spread on your favorite sandwich

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cleaning a Coffee Grinder

Add a couple tablespoons to a handful of rice into the grinder. Grind the rice into fine particles and it will soak up the oils left from coffee beans, absorb odor and clean out residual grounds. Discard the rice and wipe clean with a dry cloth or use a clean paint brush to brush any left over particles.

Top row of 3 photos: 1) adding rice, 2) grinding rice, and 3) using a brush to clean up the left over particles
Bottom row of 2 photos:  1) Before starting this process, and 2) Clean grinder after using the rice to clean it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cold Solutions: Warm Compress & Steam Shower

Right now I have a summer cold. I hate colds, but summer colds always seem the worst. So I have a ton of pressure in my head and my chest is rattling.   I have 2 quick little tips: Homemade Warm Compress and Steam Shower Tip

Warm Compress
This first one can be done one of 2 ways...
1) I put water in a dish - a inch or 2, sometimes I add a couple drops of peppermint oil if I am needing to open up my nasal passages and clear my chest, add a hand towel and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.  (I microwave it until it is hot enough to handle with my hands as I will need to wring it out.)  Take and wring out and stick in ziplock and stick that in a pillow case.  Or if cool enough to handle then just use straight ziplock on face across nasal passages.

2) Wet a hand towel, add a few drops of peppermint oil if needing to open up nasal passages and clear chest congestion,  place hand towel into ziplock (do not zip it closed), place in microwave for 30 seconds to 1 min.  Again enough so that isn't too hot to handle.  If it is then use tongs, to take out of microwave and place in pillowcase and allow to cool slightly before laying it across your nasal passages.

DO NOT put anything too hot to handle on your body.  DO NOT keep in one position if it seems to be burning.  If just needing relief from pressure, you don't need to add the peppermint oil. Just the warm compress alone will help give some temporary relief.

Steam Shower Tip
Just add a one or two drops of peppermint oil to your shower. I just sprinkle it in one corner of the shower - where the hot water can hit.  I then turn on the water hot enough for me to be a comfortable temp shower.  Breath in.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Beat It & Whip It Kitchen Towels

I think these are so cute! The shop is on vacation, but just passing on the info for future use.  

(photo from The Coin Laundry Etsy shop)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vinegar Tip: Pet Repellant

I know this might not work for everyone, but I thought I would share what has worked for our cats. Again, I know all pets are different so this might not work with yours.

We have 2 cats and our one cat has been known to get in the trash and drag out bones or just packaging for chicken or other meat.  Such as when I make chicken and throw the packaging away, he will jump up and pull that packaging out of the trash and lick it. GROSSES me out so much! Not only that he is licking the chicken package that had raw chicken in it hours before, but then he might step in it and then track that juice all around the house.  Yep grosses me out and I can't think about it too much or I really go into OCD type cleaning. 

I got to a point of putting any meat packaging or bones into a plastic grocery sack and bringing them out to the trash cans outside after, but well that can be annoying as well as we then had other animals get into trash outside, because it is easier to get to in little grocery bags. The smell seems to be attract them more easily when they are in grocery sacks instead of the big kitchen trash bags.

So I tried a couple of things, like thoroughly washing the packaging before throwing it away. It was in doing that I looked over and saw my vinegar spray bottle sitting on the counter.  I had noticed when I spray that over the counters when I wipe them down before bed - it keeps the cats off the counter while we sleep.  I thought why won't it work for the trash. Now I just throw the packaging into the kitchen trash can and then spray it thoroughly with straight distilled white vinegar right after throwing it away.  If it something our boy cat especially enjoys, I will give it one more spray before bed, but really once the packaging has been coated with the vinegar the first time, he doesn't like to touch it.

I did google to make sure vinegar is safe for pets and then asked a vet tech to make sure and she said it used often with pets in a variety of situations.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

French Bread Pizza

I like quick meals for when we are especially busy. This year has been non-stop going. Really I think we have been home about 5 weeks total out since the end of the February. It helps me not feel so guilty when I actually sit and think about it like that, because otherwise I start beating myself up about how I haven't been cooking anything new or really in depth.

One of my favorite quick meals is French Bread Pizza, because it is really versatile and so easy! I will give you the basic recipe and then give you lots of topping ideas as wells as tips to make it even more easy and quick at the end.

1 loaf of French Bread (about 18 to 20 inches long)
Desired Seasonings
Desired Topping

  1. Preheat oven to 425. 
  2. Slice French Bread in half - length-wise. 
  3. Spread with sauce. 
  4. Top with  desired seasonings, cheese, and desired toppings. 
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  6. Let cool for a few minutes and then slice into big pieces (4 per half)  or smaller skinny slices for a party food. 
Topping Ideas:
Sauce Our favorite sauce isn't really sauce, but just a small can of tomato paste.  A small can willl cover both halves of the French Bread.  Other sauce ideas that I have used before: small can of tomato sauce, store bought pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce, homemade spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes with the liquid drained, a white sauce such as Alfredo or BBQ

Desired Seasonings: If you aren't using a pizza or spaghetti sauce, you might need some seasonings these are my favorite that I add on top of the sauce: A seasoning mix such as Penzeys (which is what I use) or Italian seasoning mix, oregeno, basil, or garlic powder or salt, onion powder or salt, red pepper flakes

Cheese Mozzarella, colby/jack mix, Asiago, Parmesan, Romano, feta, provolone

Meat: Pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, ham, ground beef, chorizo, chicken, prosciutto, shrimp
Vegetables:  Mushrooms, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, green peppers, green onions, jalapenos or green chilies, spinach, cherry tomatoes, olives, banana peppers, sweet corn
Other: Pineapple chunks, black beans, fresh basil, garlic,capers

Pizza Ideas:
Our Favorite:  Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, Black Olive, Red peppers and Onions with Colby/Jack Cheese and Provolone

2nd Favorite: Chicken, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and with really any cheese and red or white sauce

Southwest:  Chicken and/or Chirizo, black beans, spinach, corn, jaapenos or green chilies and topped with colby/jack cheese

Sweet and Sour:  Pineapple and ham

BBQ:  BBQ Sauce,  chicken, onions, bacon, and colby/jack cheese.

* Buy French Bread loaves and on day old bread racks at the grocery store.
* Put loaves in freezer and pull out just an hour or 2 before going to make pizza or make up pizzas with toppings and then wrap for freezer. Store in freezer until ready to put in oven and increase cook time by adding 5 or 10 more minutes.  I sometimes take  it out 15 to 30 mins before cooking and that seems to make cook time be closer to the orginial 10 minutes in the basic recipe. 
* It is really good party food - just slice into thin slices to feed a larger group.
* I like serving with a salad as a side, but good just making them and eating straight out of the oven without a side. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cleaning Suitcases

I am sure if you are a regular reader of Domestic Servitude that you will have noticed that this year has lacked posts.  Master's job has a lot more traveling to it and I am blessed that I get to go along. But with that comes lots of packing, unpacking and repacking. 

When we come home from a trip, I unpack and get ready to do laundry, but I also have a little cleaning I do to the bags we use on our trips.  If I get to thinking about it too much, I can become a germophobe, but thinking about where our suitcases have been has had countless other people who might not be as clean does sometimes get under my skin.  So when I come home, I take my homemade cleaner of tea tree oil, vinegar, liquid soap and water and spray the inside and outside of all our bags. If I use totes that are washable, I throw them into the washer. But suitcases and other travel bags such as our laundry bag aren't washable. So I spray them with the homemade cleaner as it has disinfecting properties in it. I also take a cloth that I wet with the hottest water I can stand to hold and wipe down the interior as well as exterior of our suitcase including the rolling wheels and handles. Making sure to get into crevices. I let them air dry. Also you might want to test a spot before wiping down with a cloth with hot water on it as it can fade some. 

Why do I go through all this trouble? Well, I want you to just think about this for a moment and maybe it won't bother you - but I know it bothers me. When we come home, we often threw our suitcase up on the bed.  Now if you have been to a hotel that ends up having bed now have potentially just passed on to your bed.So another suggestion is not to throw your suitcase on the bed, but to unpack in a bathroom or laundry room. I like to put on top of the washer and dryer and start sorting clothes right away in there. Then I can clean it easily in there also and let it air dry. 

*Photo is taken in our bedroom as the light and space to take a photo in our laundry room is horrible.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Traveling Food

I have mentioned that we have been traveling a lot.  I had been losing some weight, but with all our traveling and eating out, I stalled. I haven't gained any thankfully, but I haven't lost any either.  

Here are some things I am doing to help with food while traveling as eating out every meal costs quite a bit as well as not being very healthy.  When we travel, I always pack a cooler. We almost always stay in a hotel that has a mini-fridge too which always is a great asset when traveling. But even if we don't get one we have the cooler. I have those ice bricks and love them as they keep the food colder longer than ice cubes. I like that I can put those bricks into the mini-fridge - freezer section to have frozen and ready for our return trip.

So this is what I pack when traveling....

I pack small snack size ziplocks with grapes, sliced/cubed cheese or string cheese, pickles, baby carrots, baby peppers, or sliced peppers. I then take those little bags and put in a bigger ziplock, so that I just don't have lots of little bags floating around the ice. I put little containers of ranch dressing or bean dip to dunk veggies.  I bring other fruit with us - bananas and apples with us too.  Make sure you wash all fruits and veggies before you go so you can eat in the car easily.

Other traveling snacks I pack at times are trail mix or crackers that I put in snack size ziplocks for portion control as welly as just easier to have a little bag then a box or bigger bag. For something sweet, I will make cookies or bars so that we aren't picking up candy bar or other sweet treats.  Sometimes of course we indulge as our area doesn't have Dunkin Donuts so when in a town that has one we usually do part take in the puffy pillows of goodness. 

For breakfasts, I add some containers of yogurt to the cooler and bake some muffins. I also try to make at least the first day of travel meals - lunch and dinner - if not a couple of lunches. Such as packing sandwich/wrap makings - bread/tortilla shells and lunch meat, slices of tomato, spinach or lettuce.  If  I am just planning for one lunch/dinner then I will make up sandwiches for us knowing they will be ate that day.  I sometimes make a pasta salad or garden salad with some shredded chicken to top it as alternative.  (Extra little tip - if I bring wrap ingredients a quick easy lunch or snack is also using some bean dip/hummus, sliced peppers, tomatoes and spinach on a tortillas. Yums!)

When packing, I also remember to pack silverware including a knife that will cut apples or bread if needed, paper plates, paper towels, baby wipes for sticky fingers, and condiments. I try to keep it down to one salad dressing we both like and one condiment such as Dijon so that I am not having the cooler overloaded with things we will use so little of on the trip.   (Extra tip: We have a Sprouts here, but I am pretty sure Whole Foods has them too, but they sell the little almond and healthy Nutella spread in little condiment size packages like you get ketchup in when eating fast food - really nice for apples or crackers on the road.)

We always buy a case of bottled water - to keep hydrated during this hot hot summer and to discourage us from stopping from soda as much. When you pack your silverware, you might throw in a corkscrew also. Sometimes picking up a bottle of wine on the road especially an area that has local wineries is always a nice treat while in a hotel room after a long day of being on the road. 

Really, I know that has to be other stuff that could be easily packed and used for trips....please feel free to share your tips!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Extra Plastic Bag Storage Tip

I have a long tube like storage that hangs in the pantry for plastic bags. It is one that you shove the bags in one end and pull them out on the other end.  But sometime that fills up. We re-use  plastic bags for emptying cat litter as well as many other uses so I like having as many around and just like the thought of reusing them.

I have 4 empty tissue boxes that I now keep around and stuff with any extras.  I really like having them around because they are easy to tote.  Places I use them:
  • When deep cleaning, I bring a box into the room I am cleaning and start making bags for donate, toss, stuff that needs moved to another room and just general stuff I need to organize better. Those things put in the appropriate bag and then I sit down and organize it better after the room is clean or at an appropriate time such as before I am heading to Goodwill.  But just having a box of these to pull from instead of having several loose bags around the room until I use them makes things just easier and neater.
  • When we travel, I love putting a box in the car to use for trash sacks or for overflow if a suitcase or travel bag  is getting over packed/stuffed - then I have extra sacks to use to hold things. 
  • When cleaning outside or cleaning the car, I bring them for trash.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Hydrogen Peroxide

When I clean the kitchen after dinner, I wipe the faucet down pretty good. But every few days I take a toothbrush to it and scrub in between all the little grooves. After, I am done scrubbing it,  I will do a spray of straight vinegar or hydrogen peroxide or sometimes both. Sometimes I let it air dry and other times I use a clean cotton towel and wipe dry to a shine. Well, tonight I went to spray the peroxide and not the vinegar and noticed that the peroxide did the foaming bubbles like it will do when you pour it on a cut or infection. After saying gross a few times out loud to the faucet, I realized that I have been oblivious to the fact that I am probably more times then not leaving behind stuff that would make me say ewww.  Here all these years, I never noticed that it bubbles after I spray it on the faucet - why I am not sure as I have been doing that for years. But I am thankful now that I have a little test to see if it is clean. I use hydrogen peroxide often for disinfecting.  Now I will pay closer attention to see if it is working.

So tonight I scrubbed, rinsed and repeated until there weren't any foaming bubbles. The picture below is with the foaming bubbles. I couldn't capture it after it was clean as it just was a reflection of the liquid and fuzzy looking on the photo.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts

I was searching through the blog as I had a topic I wanted to write about, but was sure I must have covered it before so I was going through old posts where stats are listed right next to the title of the posts on the backend of blogger.  So I found the top 10 most visited posts on Domestic Servitude and thought I would share them with you.

Top 10 Posts
1. How to Wash Pillows
2. Spring Cleaning - Printable Lists
3. Fall Cleaning - Printable Lists and helpful links in cleaning
4. Freezer Breakfast Muffins
5. Dandilion Massage Oil
6.  Rheya's Slow Cooker Roast
7. All About Eggs
8. Slow Cooker Ham and Beans Soup
9. Creme Brulee French Toast
10. Baked Brie with Fruits and Nuts

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chicken and Stuffing Bake

I had this dish at a friends house years and years ago. It was before I was very good at cooking, but this looked like something I could handle.  You can find similar recipes on Kraft, but I am giving it to you how my friend gave it to me.  It is something I make when I need easy as I am just really opening packages up and mixing it up to bake. It does contain box mix, cream of chicken and such, but you can swap those things out for homemade.

1 pkg. Stuffing Mix for Chicken (6 to 8oz pkg)
3 pieces of bread - your choice - toasted and cubed
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 can  (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup  sour cream
1 to 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas), thawed, drained

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Prepare stuffing as directed on package. Add cubed toast to stuff mix.

Mix remaining ingredients in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with stuffing.

Bake 30 min. or until chicken is done.

* A friend who started me on this recipe said that the one box of stuffing didn't quite cover the whole 9x13 so she added the toast as it mixed easily in with the stuffing mix. You can add a handful of croutons or bread cubes instead of toast - that was just her quick way of making the stuffing stretch.

* I have used low-fat sour cream with this and doesn't change the taste to me at all

* I add 2 cups frozen vegetables, but my friend only added 1 cup.

* I have used homemade stuffing - about 2 1/2 cups.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Dishwasher Tips

I am a little OCD when it comes to loading the dishwasher - okay maybe more than a little. I like it all to be put in a certain way as it maximizes space and creates easier routine for unloading. 

One of my little tips for loading the dishwasher is sorting the dirty silverware as I load it into the silverware rack in the dishwasher before running it. It makes unloading it so much easier. So all the forks go in one compartment, all the spoons in another, and so on and so forth.  

Bonus Dishwasher Tips
*  Vinegar - Run your dishwasher empty, but dump a cup of the distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher.  Set to a normal cycle and let it run.  It helps clean old smells and particles out of the dishwasher as well as disinfect it.  I do this every 4 to 6 weeks.

*  Hot Water - Turn your faucet on and let it run until it is hot water is flowing. If you turn on your hot water faucet and it takes a moment to get hot, then it is same for your dishwasher. By running faucet and get the hot water flowing, then the pipes are filling with hot water. 

* Dishwasher Soap -  About 2 years ago I tried a homemade dishwasher soap, but it didn't really work well.  So I ended up going back to store-bought detergent.  One thing I did change when going back to store-bought detergent was cutting back on the amount of detergent I use.  I fill the compartment about half way to less than half and now my dishes have less spotty build up and still clean. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

BLT Pasta

I have meltdowns every so often.  It happens when I am overtired, overly busy and stressed.  I am not sure why I choose to make a new recipe when I am already having those kinds of obstacles, but the first time I made this recipe - I made it much more complicated than I should have because I skimmed the recipe and didn't actually read it before making this dish.  I almost always read recipes all the way through, but of course being overwhelmed with life made me skip that step and caused further issues.  I had a total meltdown in the while cooking when I realized I skipped a step/ingredient.  In the end it still turned out tasty, but it caused more headaches then I needed.  Master always loves walking into the kitchen with a hysterical crying slave (that was sarcasm).  Anyway, I am seriously happy I tried this recipe again after the meltdown because I really love the flavor of this dish. It is so pretty to look at as well as eat. We have had it several time and every time we have it, I am amazed by the flavor.

6 strips bacon, diced
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
9 oz dry spaghetti noodles
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Garlic Croutons  - made mine but store bought would work


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Saute the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook until crisp, then set aside on paper towel.   Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, and drain off remaining oil.

Caramelize the tomatoes and sugar in the bacon drippings in large and deep skillet or sauce pan, over medium heat.  Cook until tomatoes begin to soften and brown, approximately 3 minutes.  Add the leeks and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until leeks soften.

Deglaze with wine and allow sauce to simmer until the wine is nearly evaporated and sauce is thick.  Add the broth, vinegar, and pepper flakes.  Simmer until reduced by 1/3, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the spinach, and bacon to the sauce, then add the cooked pasta.  Toss lightly until pasta is well coated with sauce and tomato mixture is incorporated.  Season with salt as needed.  Top each serving with garlic croutons.

Makes 4 servings.

* Although I think deglazing always makes flavor more deep sometimes I skip deglazing steps and really in this case I think the caramelizing adds the depth of flavor to the tomatoes.  So if you don't want to deglaze - you could up the chicken broth just a bit and skip the deglazing step.  Need to up the broth, because if you skip the wine step you still need a little more liquid for sauce in the recipe.

* I am leaving 2 cups of spinach in the recipe, but I will say the last few times I have made this I have upped the spinach to 3 cups and like having more green in it.  Really doesn't change flavor - just getting more green in the diet.

* If you don't have leeks, green onions work in a pinch too.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April's Menu

March 31 - April 6
Sun - Leftovers

Mon - pasta tossed with pesto and steamed veggies - side salad

Tues - chicken and left over pasta with pesto served with side salad

Wed - Fri - out of town

Sat - we got home late afternoon from being out of town so not really up for cooking so made some Egg in a hole for us sprinkled with green onions and cheese. 

April 7 - 13

Sun - creamed chicken over mashed potatoes served with steamed peas 

Mon -  baked pork chops (coated in dijon and then sprinkled with panko), steamed veggies and side salad

Tues -   grilled chicken breasts, risotto, steamed veggies and a side salad

Wed - chili cheese bake* served with green beans and a side salad

Thurs -  left overs

Fri -  late big lunch so didn't have dinner

Sat -  panini with ham, spinach and gouda cheese served with a side salad

April 14 - 20

Sun - Salsbury Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and a side salad 

Mon -  left overs

Tues -  Cashew Chicken, steamed rice with peas and carrots in it and a side salad

Wed - Sat - out of town (though I did make and bring wraps for Wednesday night's dinner - wraps with grilled chicken, bacon, cheese, spinach, tomato and dijon mustard)

April 21 - 27

Sun - I had been struggling with the stomach flu since Thursday so kept it light - Poached eggs and toast 

Mon - chicken and rice casserole - very mild and easy on stomach.  Served with steamed veggies. 

Tues -  chicken pot pie (made extra chicken the night before so I could make something with it) served with a side salad

Wed -  turkey hoisen meatballs and veggie fried rice 

Thurs - Taco pie* served with steamed veggies and a side salad 

Fri - french bread pizza* and salad (pizza topped with sausage, pepperoni, black olives, peppers and mushrooms)

Sat - breakfast for dinner - pancakes and sausage served with a side of fresh pineapple

April 28 - May 4

Sun - Meatloaf (made from ground turkey and lean ground beef), mac-n-cheese, steamed veggies and a side salad 

Mon -  meatloaf panini, homemade french fries, side salad

Tues -  alfredo with chicken and broccoli served with side salad

Wed -  out for dinner

Thurs -  left overs

Fri -    steak fajitas, easy spanish rice and a side salad

Sat -   tuna melts and a side salad

* = recipes coming soon

We try to eat a salad with every meal. It helps fill up and it gets some greens in us. 

Side Salad =  leafy green salad either a spring mix or just baby spinach with assorted topping I have available: tomatoes, mushrooms, green onion, red or yellow bell pepper, croutons, cheese, sometimes some chopped hard boiled egg

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Sticky Baking Ingredients

When measuring out sticky substances while baking or cooking, spray the measuring spoon or cup with cooking spray. So next time when you measure out corn syrup, honey, peanut butter or maple syrup, spray the measuring cup or spoon - it will empty into the bowl easier and clean up easier too. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Philly Steak Stuffed Peppers

2 large bell peppers
8 oz thinly sliced roast beef
8 slices provolone cheese
1 medium sweet onion - sliced
1 cup mushrooms - sliced

Preheat oven to 400◦. Slice peppers in half lengthwise removing ribs and seeds. Sauté until onions and mushrooms are nice and caramelized. Slice roast beef into thin strips and add onion/mushroom mixture. Cook 5-7 mins. Line the inside of each pepper with provolone cheese and fill each with meat mixture until they are overflowing. Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese and bake for 15-20 mins until cheese is golden brown. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cashew Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken - cut in 1 inch cubes
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry (or leave out if you don't have it)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups chopped veggies - any combo: broccoli, peppers, carrots, snap peas, mushrooms
2 green onions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1/2 cup unsalted cashews, toasted

In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of broth. Add chicken to the skillet; stir-fry over medium heat until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes.

Add garlic and veggies to skillet; stir-fry for 3 to 5 until crisp-tender. Stir broth, soy sauce, dry sherry, ginger, pepper,and sugar into the skillet. Cook and stir for 1 minute.  Add cornstarch to a little bowl.  Spoon  in some of the hot liquid from the skillet into the cornstarch - stir to mix.  Add to skillet.  Cook for 2 minutes until thickens. Stir in cashews and green onions. Serve over rice.

*in the photo I used red bell peppers and mushrooms

If it isn't thickening up, add more cornstarch.  Put in a little bowl as in the direction and then add some hot liquid to it first. Don't just dump the cornstarch in or you will get lumps in your sauce.

If you don't feel you have enough sauce, add more chicken broth.  But be aware you are watering down the soy sauce and ginger. So you might have to up those flavors too, just add a little at a time. Let cook and then taste.

If you want to kick some heat into it, add some red pepper flakes or some Sriracha Chili Sauce.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Favorites

How to Cook Pork by Everyday Foods - has a cheat sheet for knowing the difference between each type of  pork and how to cook them plus links to quite a few recipes that look delicious!

40+ Free Apron Patterns -  free sewing patterns for aprons linked up by Tipnut

How to Build a Raised Bed for a Garden -  This idea really appeals to me for the space we have.  I would really like to build a raised garden

DIY Outdoor Square Planters - she does a round up of a bunch of DIY planters

Earl Grey Oatmeal - this recipe is for Earl Grey Oatmeal with a Cardamon and Honey Cream - oh my!

Apps Gone Free - this app tells about apps that are going free for a day or so. I believe they have an android version just google Apps Gone Free for android.  I have gotten some good apps for organizing and cooking on here as well as photography, journals, and others hobby based apps. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Tips: 10 Tips for Line Drying


1. Just installing a clothesline? Don't put it under a tree or you will just be throwing clothes back in the washer after a bird leaves its droppings all over your clothes

2. Hang shirts from the hem instead of the shoulders so you don't get little teeth marks and bumps from the indent of the clothes pins

3. Materials that tend to lose their shape - hang on an hanger on the line.  I also hang dresses on hangers.

4. Think about where the sun is going to be when hanging things out to dry. I like having the sun's heat work on sheets and towels so I like to hang those out when the sun is shining at its fullest on my clothes line.  If you have a load darks, you don't want the sun to fade them so hang when the sun is not beating down on it.  Also hang darks inside out to help with fading.

5. Don't like the stiffness that happens with line drying?  Pop them into the dryer for about 5 mins and then you are still saving energy by using the clothes line, but also getting your clothes to feel a little softer.

6. Using vinegar in your rinse cycle also helps on the stiffness. I use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup vinegar per load. Your clothes won't smell like vinegar. That odor disappears as it is rinsed through your clothes.

7. Don't over crowd the line when hanging clothes out.  It takes the clothes longer to try and causes wrinkles as you are bunching things closer together.

8.  Have a bag or somewhere to store your clothes pins as they can weaken over time with the sun constantly beating down on them. Plastic clothes pins are said to weaken and break springs faster than wooden ones.

9. Just because it is an overcast day doesn't mean your clothes won't dry. Air and wind dry just as much as the sun's heat.  Just watch for the weather so that you don't have to re-launder clothes.

10. Don't have room in your yard for a line or live in an apartment - think about getting a drying rack.  I use mine all year round. I put it on the deck in the summer and nicer days and in the winter and fall, I set it up in our tub. It is easy to take down and put. Folds compact to not taking up a lot of room.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Monthly Menu

March 3 - 9
Sunday - Breakfast for dinner - pancakes and sausage with some grapes on the side
Monday - I had a late afternoon meeting so picked us up take out on the way home
Tuesday - Casserole with ground beef, veggies and topped with biscuits - served with salad
Wednesday - Stir-fry
Thursday -  went to a party so didn't cook
Friday -  big salad with some grilled chicken on it and some homemade croutons
Saturday -  BLT Pasta served with a side salad (recipe to be coming soon)

March 10 -16
Sunday -  Ham and Bean Soup
Monday -  Pork Roast, roasted potatoes, carrots, onions and green beans
Tuesday -  Pork Roast panini  with cheese, sauteed peppers & mushrooms on it - served with salad
Wednesday - scrambled eggs with red peppers, cheese and mushrooms served with hashbrowns, sausage and grapes
Thursday - out of town
Friday -  nachos
Saturday - pork chops - dipped in a mixture of egg and Dijon mustard then coated in panko and Parmesan cheese, served with roasted asparagus

March 17 - 23
Sunday -  Corn Beef Brisket and salad
Monday - Grilled Chicken served with roasted asparagus and a salad
Tuesday - left overs
Wednesday - out of town
Thursday - out of town
Friday -  out of town
Saturday - out of town

March 24 - 30
Sunday - out of town
Monday - Rotisserie chicken, steamed veggies and salad
Tuesday - Smothered Burritos
Wednesday - left overs
Thursday -  Chicken & Stuffing Casserole (recipe coming soon) served with salad
Friday  - Beef and Broccoli served over rice served with salad
Saturday - Chicken Alfredo serving with roasted asparagus and salad

* Salad = leafy green salad either a spring mix or just baby spinach with assorted topping I have available: tomatoes, mushrooms, green onion, red or yellow bell pepper, croutons, cheese, sometimes some chopped hard boiled egg

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Tips

Cleaning Crystal

Washing Crystal 
* When washing crystal, line your sink with a rubber mat or thick dishtowel.  Do one item at a time so they don't bang up against each other and get damaged or break.
* Fill with warm water and a solution of a healthy squirt of liquid dish soap and 1/4 cup of vinegar.
* Rinse in clean water and vinegar to help with spotting
* Dry with a lint free cloth such as a microfiber cloth

Cleaning Cloudy Crystal

I had one vase that got extremely cloudy. I had tried to clean it many times over, but nothing seemed to work.  I tried to use a paste of baking soda and vinegar on it and scrubbing with a slim brushes bottle brushes and toothbrushes, uncooked rice, vinegar, lemon juice, and egg shells and a couple other ideas too, but none of them worked. Nothing I did would clear it up.  When I had a second vase starting to get cloudy, I knew I had to find a solution. I read online about using denture tablets to clean crystal so decided I would give it a try.

So I picked up a box of denture tablets at the Dollar Tree and gave it a try...

I added the denture tablets and let it soak for 15 mins.  I then took a toothbrush and scrubbed - lightly. I rinsed the vases out and one vase was clear, but the other which was extremely cloudy to start  so wasn't completely clean yet.

I then did a second round of denture tablets.  The second time I only added the water to just past where it was still cloudy.  I then rinsed with warm water and it was clear.

So there are no more cloudy vases in this household....

That second vase only had a light ring of cloudy film. So it only needed one time through with the denture tablet process. The whole process was so easy. I think of all the time I had been struggling to try to get the one extremely cloudy crystal vase clean and couldn't.  I now always use them at first signs of cloudy film.

Just so glad I found an easy way to clean them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Southwest Egg Rolls

2 cups cubed boneless skinless chicken  (or one large chicken breast - I had a little under 2 cups and it still worked well)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup of finely chopped red bell pepper (optional - I just wanted a little more color)
1 can (7 oz) green chilies
1/4 cup of finely chopped green onions
1 cup frozen corn
1 can (14.5-15 oz) black beans - drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups cheese (I like it a little spicy so I used all pepper jack, but if you don't like it too spicy - I would use half pepper jack and half cheddar)
1 package egg roll wrappers - 20 wrappers

Toss the chicken with seasonings. Make sure they are coated with the mixture. If  it isn't - add a little more cumin and chili powder.  In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil or olive oil on medium. Add in the chicken and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Stir in green chilies, green onion, corn and black beans.  Add the spinach.  Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and add cheese..

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

Using a spoon or scoop a heaping tablespoon of filling onto the wrapper. Follow the directions on the back of the egg roll package for folding. Position an egg roll wrapper out like a diamond with one tip pointing towards you. Scoop the filling near the center of the egg roll wrapper. Pick up a corner on your left pull it over the filling. Pick up the corner opposite and bring it over the filling.  Take a corner pointing down towards you and start rolling it up around the egg filling.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Place on baking sheet seam side down, not allowing egg rolls to touch.  If you are having problems with them staying shut - slightly wet the edges with your fingers as you roll them.

Brush the egg rolls with olive oil or coat with cooking spray so that they crisp up in the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy.

Serve with or without a dipping sauce.  I used 2 different dipping sauces - Guacamole mixed with some sour cream and salsa mixed with sour cream. About a 1 to 1 ratio.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Favorites

Homemade Garbage Disposal Refreshers - I use the components of these - lemons & baking soda, but these would be nice to have around
Homemade Wool Dryer Balls - use instead of fabric softener
Small Living Room Solutions - ideas to help make a small living room look more spacious
The Well-Appointed Bar - a list of liquor and glasses to have in a well stocked bar
Skinny Meal Plans - a month of menus, links to recipes and downloadable grocery list

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Vegetable Storage

I thought I would revive Tuesday Tips.  I will be posting some tips once or twice a month on Tuesdays. Today's tips are all about Vegetable Storage.  

General Tips
*  Don't wash any vegetable until ready to use. I do break this rule at times though because if I am going to have a busy week - prepping veggies ahead makes things easier. Just make sure you store in the best way possible after cutting to keep them fresh still.
*  Any vegetable that has cuts and bruises will start to spoil and pass that on to others stored with it. So if you find one that has cuts or bruises, use them first and put aside away from the others.  
* Do not store fruits and vegetables together as the gases from fruits can make your vegetables go bad quickly.

Tomatoes - Don't refrigerate tomatoes.  It ruins the texture and taste. Keep out of sunlight on a cool counter top. 

Asparagus - Cut an inch off the bottom of asparagus spears and submerge ends in water and refrigerate until cooking.

Onions -  Place whole uncut/unpeeled onions in a cool, dry dark place - away from potatoes.  After cutting, store in sealed container in refrigerator. 

Garlic - Place whole heads of garlic in a cool, dark place. Don't refrigerate until you have peeled or cut.  

Potatoes - Place in a cool, dry, dark place - a box  or paper bag works well in dark corner of a pantry.

Green Beans -  In a perforated plastic bag or in an open container that is covered with a damp cloth. Green beans like humidity, but not overly wet environment. 

Zucchini‐ Leave out on a counter out of sunlight.  Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

Broccoli -  Broccoli doesn't like to be crowded so store in a loose fitting plastic bag or an open container in the refrigerator. 

Letttuce/Leafy Greens - Wash and then lay out to dry on a thick towel. After dry, place in a plastic bag lined with paper towels to absorb moisture. (Just as an extra - this method by The Kitchn looks interesting) 

Mushrooms -  Keep mushrooms out of the crisper as moister makes them slimy.  Store them one of 2 ways - 1) in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator   2) In the plastic container they are bought in. Keep them sealed until ready to use and after opening place a piece of paper towel over them and then seal with plastic wrap.  I use the second method mostly and ever since I started putting a paper towel in the container - it has helped them last longer. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day

Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day: Make-Ahead Meals that Transform Your Suppertime Circus into Relaxing Family Time by Theresa Albert

I just read this book recently, but I didn't follow how it was laid out  because I just wanted ideas. I can see how it could be very helpful if you are wanting to move to more once a week type cooking. Once a week cooking is where you prepare the majority - if not all of every meal for the week and then freeze, keep in fridge to bake or do final cooking.

A few good key points of the book:

  • One thing I found much improved from other books of this type is that the recipes are healthy.
  • The menus include a wide range of foods. Not just standard ground beef or chicken. 
  • This book would be good for those with limited time to cook and needing to make some more healthy meal choices and who have children.
  • The book has 12 weeks of menu plans, shopping lists, how-to prep and cook for the week based on each menu, and then recipes.  The weekly menu includes 5 meal plans. So that you can account for some leftovers or a night out.
I checked this book out from the library to get some ideas for meals and I have to say overall - this book didn't give me anything really new to add. But if you are new to healthy cooking, new to cooking in general or having problems with getting meals to the table after work - I can see this book will be helpful. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Favorites

How to store, defrost and cook frozen foods - I was looking for info on freezing fresh veggies that I picked up and know I won't use soon. I found didn't really answer my question, but it had a lot of good info on freezing foods.

DIY Deodorizing Disks - now they say for diaper pails, but I think they would be great for trash cans too.

Interior Car Cleaning - Gives how-to on cleaning a car like a pro

Guide to Natural Sugar - giving you tips on how to substitute white sugar with natural sugar options

75 Healthy Casserole Recipes - from Cooking Light

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sunday Brunch Frittata

Frittata is a really hard recipe to write because it can be anything. You can add almost anything to it. The base component of a Frittata is eggs. But you can add veggies, cheese, meat and seasoning to it.  It is just finding a combination that works for you. I love this because it is so great with left overs.  When I put it on the menu it is usually because I have left over veggies in my fridge I want to use up. Last night I made one with mushrooms, onions, red peppers, broccoli, a little pepper jack cheese, potatoes and then some sliced deli turkey slices (chopped the slices into thin strips) I threw in too at the last moment. I used smoked paprika and black pepper as my only seasonings and it was fantastic.  

The one in the photo below, I used for brunch when I had left over roasted peppers and mushrooms. I threw in potatoes and breakfast sausage. A Frittata is great meatless too - I have done cheese, potatoes and spinach and loved it.  I like potatoes in mine because I like the structure of the egg around the potato. But they are good without potatoes too.  

Sunday Brunch Frittata
4 small to medium sized russet potatoes - sliced and cooked - I just boil in the microwave
1/4 cup of bell peppers
1/2 cup of mushrooms
1/4 cup of onions
1 to 2 cups ground breakfast sausage
1 cup shredded cheese
10 eggs
3 tablespoons milk (cream or half-n-half will work too)
Seasonings - your preference - this one I did rosemary, pepper and thyme

Heat oven to 400

In a medium bowl mix eggs, milk and seasonings. Set aside.

In a 10-in. or 12 in. ovenproof skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until browned and almost cooked through. Drain grease and  add in bell peppers, mushroom and onions.  (You could add in potatoes and cook them now too, but I like mine done ahead.) Cook until veggies are tender. Remove from heat and add in cheese. Pour egg mixture over veggies and sausage. Stir once before putting it in the oven.

Cook for 15 to 20 mins until eggs are set.  Cool for 10 mins and cut into wedges to serve.

* You can up the veggies to 1/2 cup or 1 cup - I just added what I had left and again that is what is great about a Frittata you really can't go wrong with just adding whatever is in the fridge left over from the previous meals.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Weeks of Menus

I have been keeping track of my menus a lot better this year. So just sharing my last 3 weeks menu with you.

Feb 3 - Feb 9

Sun -  grilled chicken, baked potato, steamed veggies
Mon -  nachos with all the toppings
Tues - Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad and garlic bread
Wed -  out of town
Thurs - Rotisserie Chicken and salad
Fri - Sloppy Joe Skillet and green beans
Sat - pancakes and sausage served with some pineapple

Feb 10 - Feb 16

Sun -  Pot Roast - with roasted potatoes, carrots and green beans
Mon -  Breakfast for dinner - egg in a hole with sausage
Tues -  Shepherd's Pie and salad (only thing I do different from that recipe is only use 1 1/2 to 2 cups veggies)
Wed - Cashew Chicken
Thurs - Went out to eat for Valentine's Day
Fri - Baked Southwest Egg Rolls - meant to serve with a salad but when the egg rolls came out they looked so good we just started with those and forgot about the salad in the fridge (so had those for lunch the next day)
Sat -  Pitas stuffed with sliced turkey, spinach, tomatoes, cheese served with pickles and potato chips.

Feb 17 - Feb 23

Sun - Philly stuffed peppers* with steamed veggies and salad
Mon - stomboli and salad
Tues - Frittata and salad - have left overs from the philly stuffed peppers and steamed veggies so using it in a frittata
Wed - Grilled chicken breasts and either cauliflower pancakes or a cauliflower potato bake served with a side salad
Thurs - out of town
Fri - out of town
Sat - Cashew Chicken (yes again - just have everything and it is quick after we have been out of town)

* Recipes coming soon!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Favorites

Laundry Stain Stick  - if you make homemade soap this might be a good recipe to help out in the laundry room

Cleaning Reusable Totes/Shopping Bags - yes they do need to be cleaned and it is something that often isn't thought about

SproutRobot - put your zip code in and it tells you what you should be planting right now

Tutorials for Recycling T-shirts - several ways to repurpose something that I ended up often just cutting and using as rags or throwing out.

Broccoli Cheese Bits - little patties made of broccoli, cheese and a few more ingredients that would make a good side


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