Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taco Seasoning

So, I was making this yummy taco filling in the crock pot and I realized I didn't have any taco seasoning. Not a big deal if you live near a store, but we live about 30 minutes away from town. I did some searching and found a recipe for homemade taco seasoning on cooks.com. We've tried it before when we were out of the packaged kind, so I'm hoping it satisfies us this time around too.

Here's the recipe:

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

1 TBSP Chili Powder
2 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. each: Ground Cumin, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Powdered Oregano (we used regular dried Oregano), and Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Makes 3 Tablespoons of seasoning mix, which is equal in strength to a 1/4 ounce package of commercial seasoning mix.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Coming Soon.....

Okay, so I saw these adorable flower hair bows on someone's etsy shop and had to try to recreate them. I must have tried nine or ten different methods, but I think I finally came close. Now that I have it figured out, I'll be adding a tutorial on how to make them very soon. I just had to share a quick pic because they are so darling. They're made of fabric, not ribbon....so the creative possibilities are endless! I'll be making more this week, so stay tuned for the tutorial:)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yummy Goodness!

Oh, my! This recipe was SO good! My husband works out every day at the gym. While running on the treadmill, he spotted this recipe on the Food Network. He immediately looked it up online when he got home that day. It only made 4 servings and I was very disappointed that we had no leftovers for the next day:( Next time I make this, we'll double the recipe! It seriously tasted like something you could order from a fancy Italian restaurant. Enough rambling, here's the recipe:

Italian Baked Chicken & Pastina- by Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup small pasta (we used elbow macaroni)
cooking spray
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain. Meanwhile cook chicken in sprayed skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through. Put chicken mixture into bowl and add drained, cooked pasta. Add canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beef & Mozzarella Bake

This recipe is another one I found on the Campbell's Soup website. It was a huge hit at our house. Grace even enjoyed it! Kevin and I both thought it tasted similar to the lasagna flavored Hamburger Helper, just better. It was really easy to make too!

Beef & Mozzarella Bake

1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 Cups spaghetti sauce of your choice
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 1/4 Cups water
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
3 Cups medium shell-shaped pasta, cooked and drained (you can substitute other types of pasta, like rotini or penne).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook beef, basil, black pepper and garlic powder over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring frequently to break up meat. Pour off any fat.

Stir the sauce, soup, water and 1 cup of cheese into skillet. Stir in the pasta and coat with the sauce mixture. Spoon into 2 quart shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Serves 6.

Next time we try this, we're going to add some fresh chopped onion to the meat mixture...just for a little more flavor.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hearty Chicken & Noodle Casserole

We tried this recipe last night that I got off the Campbell's Soup website. Everyone really liked it. The Parmesan cheese makes it taste a little like Alfredo sauce. Anyway, good stuff!

Hearty Chicken & Noodle Casserole

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup Frozen Mixed Vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 cups egg noodles, cooked and drained
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Stir soup, milk, veggies, chicken, noodles, Parmesan cheese and pepper (we added a little bit of Cheddar cheese to this mix) in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the chicken mixture. Top with the Cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

More Hair Bow Pics

Here are some pictures of the various things we've done with the 4th of July hair bow. They are so easy and so fun to make!

Korker Hair Bows

When I saw the instructions for these korker hair bows on The Ribbon Retreat, I couldn't wait to make them. My oldest daughter, Grace, had more fun than I did! She thought the idea of baking ribbon was just so silly. When she saw the end result, she was so excited she couldn't wait to do more! Here's a picture of the ones we made. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did:)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ribbon flower hair clips

These bows are soooo adorable! My girls love them. They're great because they are solid colors and go with practically anything. They're easy to make too! I found the directions for these little clips at Hip Girl Boutique.

Here's what you'll need:
Needle & thread
Cardboard for pattern (I used part of a cereal box)
Ribbon (about 5 inches of 7/8 inch ribbon)
Rhinestone for center
Alligator clip
Lighter (for heat sealing ribbon)
Glue gun

Happy bow making!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My New Hobby

So, my sister-in-law and best friend Krista got me interested in hair bows and learning how to make them for my daughters. I'm obsessed now! There are so many different kinds and styles you can make.....and if you make them yourself, it is very inexpensive:) Here's a couple I made for my girls for them to wear on the 4th of July. That's Grace's favorite holiday, so she couldn't wait to wear hers. They wore their bows this past weekend and we received so many compliments on them.

I made two: one regular-sized for Grace, and one a little smaller for Maryann. I got these directions from The Ribbon Retreat. I changed it up a bit because I don't really like big crazy hair bows, just something simple.

Here's what you need:
Needle & thread
Lighter (to heat seal ribbon)
Barrett or alligator clip
Button or other embellishment to match ribbon
Glue gun

You can make whatever size bow you wish. I made 2 hair bows, each with only two layers. I used the same amount of ribbon you would to make 1 3-inch, 4-layer bow. (Basically, I made all 4 layers for the 3-inch bow and saw how huge it would be on her head, so I just used the larger two layers for one bow and the smaller two layers for another bow.) Happy bow-making!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

3 months....really???

Has it really been 3 months since my last post? Wow! How time flies! We have been sooooo very busy this summer. We took a trip to Georgia at the end of May to visit my brother Jason and his wonderful wife Krista (and their two foster children, whom we all fell in love with!). Here is a picture of Grace at the ocean. We had a blast that day collecting sea shells and watching the kids experience this for the first time. I started back to school right after we got back and that's why I haven't had time for typing posts.....too much homework!

I will say that this journey through grad school is more difficult than I imagined. I didn't expect it to be easy. The work itself is not hard. I got my undergrad degree with a lot of hard work too (but that was before I had two kids running around the house while trying to write a 10-page paper!). It's just getting hard for me to manage my time. I'm just thankful I have a husband who understands and offers a hand whenever he can. A couple of weeks ago he came home early from work and surprised me with an afternoon of study time (about 4 1/2 hours!). He did this after playing "Mr. Mom" for two nights that same week while I was in class. I think that's what made it so great in my eyes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Swiffer Time!

I don't know about you, but I love my Swiffer Wet Jet. I use it all the time in the kitchen and bathroom. I find it so sad that I have to spend money on the refill spray and pads so often. Well, not anymore! I just ran out of the spray and was dreading a trip to the store to buy more of it. Turns out, you can refill the bottle at home without having to buy much of anything!

a pair of pliers
white vinegar
dawn dish soap

If you squeeze the bottle cap with a pair of pliers, it should pop right off with no damage. Fill with whatever floor solution you wish. I used a solution of 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, with a couple drops of Dawn dish soap. Screw the cap back on and you are set! Swiffer away!

I still have quite a few of the Swiffer pads left, but when they run out I want try some other alternatives. I'll be sure to post them on here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Busy, Busy!

Okay, so school is keeping me extremely busy these days. Just last night I had a presentation and then more lecture. I'm actually procrastinating right now. I have a written assignment due tonight, but instead, I'm blogging:) This has been a rough week. My presentation took up a LOT of my time....time I could have been spending with my adoring husband and beautiful children. It made me really think about why I am doing this. Why exactly am I going back to school? Do I want a career? Not really. I'm perfectly happy being at home. I just know that a day will come when both of my children are in school and I won't have a "reason" to be at home all day, every day. School is my answer. I'm trying to get my teaching certification in secondary education. Maybe this way, I'll still have the summers off with my girls. I look forward to the day when I don't have homework any longer. But for right now...I guess I should get started on that assignment:(

Monday, March 2, 2009

Homemade Dryer Sheets

My husband is pretty sure I've gone insane with the "homemade cleaning products". He likes the fact that I'm saving us money...but he thinks I'm obsessed now:) I think this recipe is what pushed him (or me) over the edge....

Homemade Dryer Sheets

fabric softener...any brand
thick washcloth(s)

Drench washcloth in fabric softener and wring out. Hang to dry. Throw in dryer like you would regular dryer sheets. Should last around 20-30 loads.

I made two....one washcloth for white loads of laundry, and one for darker loads. They work great!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Homemade Furniture Polish

I have been using this furniture polish for about 2 months now. Keep in mind this is furniture polish, not dust spray. We have a lot of oak furniture in our house and it has never shined like it does now! Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup olive oil

Pour ingredients in spray bottle and shake well. The tip to using this is moderation. You don't want to spray too much on the furniture. For example, I only need to use one or two sprays for our entire coffee table. Just spray and rub in with a dust rag.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Homemade Bathroom Cleaner...Yay!

Okay, I know it's been awhile since my last post. Keeping up with school, the girls, laundry and the house has really gotten to me! I just ran out of our store bought bathroom cleaner and decided to give this new recipe a whirl. I LOVE it. It kinda smells like vinegar while you're using it, but you can't really smell it once you're done. It's simple too. Here's the recipe:

1 empty spray bottle (I used a 24 oz. bottle)
1/2 cup Dawn dish soap
about 2 1/2 cups white vinegar

I used a spray bottle I found in the cleaning section at Wal-Mart for 99 cents. I put the Dawn in first and then filled the bottle up to the fill line with the white vinegar. Shake and then use.

TIP: I now have a few spray bottles in my cleaning supply closet. Make sure you label your bottle, so you know what it is. I've even started writing the recipe for the item on the outside. Then I don't have to go digging through my papers the next time I want to make something....it's right there on the bottle!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Homemade Recipe

Today I decided to post our recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent. We've only been using it a week and I'm convinced it does the same job as the Cascade packs we were using. Keep in mind that when you try a recipe like this in your dishwasher, there are a lot of factors involved: hard water, soft water, dishwasher. We have soft water and a fairly new dishwasher and this recipe works fine for us. So here it is:

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

1 cup washing soda
1 cup Borax
1 squirt Dawn dish soap
White Vinegar

Mix the washing soda and Borax. Use 2 tablespoons of mix and one squirt of Dawn (it fights grease!). Use the white vinegar as a rinse agent (like Jet Dry). I just put the vinegar in my rinse agent compartment and fill it when needed. Some people may prefer to put a teaspoon or two in every time they run their dishwasher, depending on how well the dishwasher drys the dishes.

The first time I used this recipe we put too much Dawn in and the plastic dishes came out with some spots....not dirt, just water spots. Since then I've decreased the amount of Dawn and they've been looking pretty good. Let me know if you try this and how it works for you. Also, if you have your own recipe, please feel free to share:)

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, these are some of the same ingredients used in the laundry detergent. They're very versatile and this means more money saved! I originally purchased a box of Borax, a box of Baking soda, and a box of washing soda. I've made two recipes of laundry soap and one of dishwashing detergent and I still have some left....and my cupboard is no longer stuffed with every cleaning supply known to man!

Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Rambling on....

Okay, so I don't really have any recipes for today. I'm trying to get our house back in some kind of order. I spent a majority of my day Monday and Tuesday studying for a test. Actually, when Kevin got home yesterday after work the lunch dishes were still on the table. So now I'm playing catch up. Grace has been a HUGE help today. She's been making sure all of her toys and any that her sister drags out are put away. That alone helps so much. Maryann has been taking 3 steps here and 2 or 3 steps there. She just started this today. Usually we have to bribe her and try to make her walk to us by offering her a piece of cheese or the remote. Today she's just standing up and walking a few steps, getting down and grabbing what she wants, then back up and walking a few more steps. It's kind of sad....our last little Walker will be walking soon:)

Our new laptop just arrived about an hour ago. I really want to open it and get everything set up, but I know how much Kevin loves that sort of thing. He'll be disappointed if I don't wait for him.

It is sooooo very cold outside today. I've decided I might just have to move to Georgia next winter. And spend my days with Krista enjoying the nice warm climate. I'd have to bring the girls. Grace would throw a fit if she knew I was going to Uncle Jason's house without her! That's enough rambling for now.....I need something to ramble about to Kevin when he gets home!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie

Today I'm posting a healthy version of an old favorite recipe. Kevin actually dug this particular recipe off the Weight Watchers website. It was so good and I've had several people ask me for it, so I decided to post it here.

Cooking Spray
1 small Onion, chopped
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
2 cups Frozen Vegetables
1 cup Chicken Broth
3 cups Chicken Breast, cooked and chopped
2 Tbsp Flour
1/2 cup Fat-free Evaporated Milk, divided
1/2 roll Reduced-fat Crescent Rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 10-inch round shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook chicken and onion over medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Add Paprika, Thyme, Salt, Pepper, Vegetables and Chicken Broth. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
In a small cup, combine flour and 1/4 cup of evaporated milk; stir into chicken mixture. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup of evaporated milk and cook until mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 or 3 more minutes.

Spoon chicken mixture into prepared baking dish. Unroll 4 Crescent rolls and arrange dough around inside edge of baking dish to form a border (there should be a hole in the middle). Bake until rolls are golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Note: You can use just about any variety of frozen vegetables. We used a country blend with carrots, green beans and corn....mainly because we don't care for peas. You could also add mushrooms to the recipe.

With the rest of the crescent rolls, I unrolled them and then put a little cinnamon and sugar in the middle and rolled them back up. I baked them according to the instructions on the roll and fed them to the girls for breakfast the next morning (reheated).

Maryann ate an adult-sized portion of the meal two nights in a row! Grace also liked it, and she's a pretty hard person to please! If you try this and add something new, let me know. It might be something we'll try the next time we make it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Okay, so I've started off rough with only one blog entry. I do have a good excuse though....I've been studying for a grad school test, while taking care of two little ones! Anyway, I thought I would start off by telling you a little about how we have been saving money at our house. It was kind of a New Years resolution to find new ways to save money around here. We're pretty careful about what we spend our money on, but this year I thought we could be creative! I was browsing our receipts and noticed we were spending A LOT of money on household cleaning supplies. Laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, dust spray, bathroom cleaner, you get the picture. After seeing this, I went straight to the internet and began looking up recipes to try and make our own cleaning supplies. I was pleasantly surprised at the results! Not only am I saving money by making some of our own cleaning supplies, but I'm also helping the environment at the same time. Keep in mind that we are still trying some of these recipes out as we use the rest of our old store-bought supplies up. Here is the first recipe for laundry detergent:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar bath soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax

Grind together in your food processor (I used a blender). Use 2 Tablespoons of mixture for each full load of laundry. In place of the bath soap you can use a laundry pre-treating soap called Fels Naptha. It works great for getting stains out!

I think all of these ingredients together cost less than what I was paying for the Tide I was using. I was paying around 32 cents per load, no I'm down to about 6 cents per load! I found most of them at our local HyVee grocery store. Wal-Mart here doesn't carry much in the way of selection when it comes to cleaning supplies. It took me roughly 10 minutes to make and I store it in an old Rubbermaid container (with lid). I love this stuff because it actually works better than the store-bought detergent! My husband had a lot of old work shirts that smelt like sweat in the arm pit area. That smell is now gone! We've also noticed that more untreated stains are coming out of the girls' clothing. I couldn't be happier with the results. I'm saving tons of money on something that works better and is better for the environment! If you decide to try this let me know how it works for you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just a Bloggin'

I've been wanting to start up a blog for awhile....just hadn't done it yet, but a good friend inspired me to do so. So, what can you expect to get from my blog? I'll be sharing tidbits about life and love and mommy hood in my blogs. I'll also be sharing recipes, craft ideas, ways to save money, and pretty much anything else that interests me. I hope all who read this enjoy a little taste of my world.