Sunday, November 11, 2012

Garlic Parmesan Knots... a little yummy with dinner

Garlic Parmesan Knots

Another Pinterest win for our house!  

 We have a tradition... every Sunday we have spaghetti for dinner.  I'll admit is gets a little boring sometimes, so I occasionally try to find something to liven it up, these rolls did the trick.  They are super easy to make and tasty!  I found this recipe on the Picture The Recipe website. 
I didn't have fresh Parmesan on hand so I used the "shaker" stuff and it was still very good. I can only assume that fresh Parmesan makes it that much better.  Noreen has way better step by step instructions and pictures! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Carpet Cleaning 101

I have two kids, one dog, and a husband that wears shoes all of the time.  Answer me this... WHY DID I BUY A HOUSE WITH WHITE BERBER CARPET?  

It seems like I am always fighting this losing battle with stains, high traffic wear and just plain dirt!  

Carpet sprays don't work out too well because the dog is always trying to lick the floor.  Sprinkle powders don't work because then the dog is constantly sniffing the floor and sneezing... why can't he just learn "If I sniff this floor I will sneeze"?  And I really don't relish the thought of having a professional come in and clean my carpets because of the chemicals that they use to clean the carpet which would likely take me right back to a sneezing dog (or worse)!

Which lead me to searching Pinterest for something to try, I must admit when I saw this post I thought "This is too good to be true".  Since I had the ingredients on hand I decided to give it a try!

A large spot right at the top of our entryway stairs!
A small spot on the entryway stairs!

The first step in the direction was to scrape up the liquid, but these stains are long standing... no need for me to do scrape!

Next I needed to sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the stain to let absorb for 10 minutes and then vacuum.  I suspected that this was likely a step for fresh stains but since it was in the directions I did it anyway.  I was correct, there was absolutely no change or value in this step for me.  How do I know that?  Well the first stain posted above was treated with the Baking Soda and the second stain was not.

Now for the magical solution:  Mix 1 Tablespoon dish washing liquid (the directions said clear but all I had was purple lavender so I used it instead), with 1 Tablespoon white vinegar and two cups of warm water. Give the mixture a little swirl to mix but don't do it vigorously enough to create bubbles.

Using a rag, I dipped it in the solution and sponged, dabbed and a little forcefully scrubbed the stain.  I couldn't believe it... the carpet looked stain free.  But I thought to myself "It looks clean because it is wet, I wonder if it really did the trick".  So I waited for it to dry, even after it dried I couldn't believe that it did that good of a job.  So then I thought "Give it 24 hours and see if it changes back to the big ugly stain".  24 hours later and still no stain.

The final part of the original directions was to sponge off with cold water and blot dry... who has time for that??? I didn't do the last step.

NO SPOT at the top of the entryway stairs!
NO SPOT on the entryway stairs!
Now I just have to figure out how to clean the rest of the carpets without having to be on my hands and knees going section by section!  Maybe just rent one of those Rug Doctors and use this as my solution instead of their cleaner!

Please checkout Lizzy Writes for additional tips and comments about this process.  It worked for some folks and not for others.  I however am a I firm believer, it worked for my carpet!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Breakfast As Easy As Apple Pie

If you are like me your mornings are filled with rushing to get yourself ready and the kids ready and out the door!  In fact most of the time I am so rushed I'm lucky if I remember to grab my purse (I've actually taken to stashing money in my laptop bag).  Trying to lead a healthy lifestyle means getting breakfast and getting it from home not a drive thru or cafeteria.  A couple of weeks ago I came across this recipe on a site called Cooking with Jax.   I decided to give it a try and the worst case scenario was that no one but me liked it but EVERYONE liked it, the kids even ask to have it as an after school snack!

I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe:


1 cup of steel cut oats (sometimes called Irish Oats)
3 diced apples (I used Red Delicious)
1 cup apple juice (I used Mott's)
3 cups water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raw sugar (not the white stuff)

Just a couple of notes here

I did not peel my apples, it was fine with out peeling them but if you have texture issues then you probably should peel them.  I don't have the time or the patience for that ;o)

If you prefer to use quick oats please check out the Cooking with Jax link above as she does have a version that can be done with quick oats as well as on the stove.  

I make this in a large crock-pot but I also double the recipe as I am making it for a family of 4.

Put oats in crock-pot, add apple juice, water, cinnamon and raw sugar.  De-core the apples.  Dice, slice or however you like your apples cut, toss them in and stir.  Turn the crock-pot on, put the lid on and forget about it!  Wake up in the morning and enjoy a hot yummy breakfast. 

10/23/12 - I like this much better when I only cook it for 4 hours and then put it in containers and just reheat it in the morning.  When I left it overnight it was way too mushy for my liking.

I put the leftovers in 1 cup containers and put them in the refrigerator (they don't stay around for longer than a couple of days so I don't know how long they would actually last).

Nutritional Info is approximate and not verified.
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 6
  • Amount Per Serving 1 cup
  • Calories: 152.7
  • Total Fat: 1.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 3.6 mg
  • Total Carbs: 33.2 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.6 g
  • Protein: 4.1 g

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Have you heard? There's gold in them chickens!

Yes corny, but oh so true. I use chicken stock in many of the dishes I make and I think it just makes things taste better. BUT oh my goodness so expensive! I happen to take a cooking class at my local gym in which they talked about how to break down your own chicken and how to make your own chicken stock. Which I promptly did, just to prove I could, but I honestly struggled with getting it just right.

After a bunch of searching and trying things I found that this is what worked for me:

In my crockpot I put:
1 whole chicken
onion, roughly chopped (whatever you have on hand)
carrots, roughly chopped (whatever you have on hand)
celery sticks, roughly chopped (whatever you have on hand)
parsley (if I have fresh I do one or two stems but if I don't I put enough dry in the palm of my hand until it gets to nickel size)
(if I happen to have mushrooms hanging out in the fridge they go in too)
I add salt & pepper too but I really don't know how much... I just go with my gut (if I had to guess I would say about a 1/4 teaspoon of each)

Cooking time... well I generally do this after the kids go to bed so I start it around 8:30pm and then I let it cook until about 5pm the following day. I pull out the chicken (or as much as I can without it all falling apart on me). I take a large bowl or stock pot and put a strainer on top of it... the very important thing is to line the strainer with cheese cloth. Then I pour the liquid into the strainer.

Now comes the fun part... storing the stock! The best method I have found is to let the liquid cool slightly and put it in freezer bags. A word of caution... Sandwich bags are not a good substitute unless you let your stock cool down a whole lot. I like to lay the bags flat when I freeze them... mainly because the first time I did this I put them in the side door and when they froze they sort of molded themselves to the space and it wasn't easy getting them out... let's just say it involved a blow dryer and a whole lot of swearing (in my head of course).

OK so now I have all this chicken too. We typically just shred it and put it in a container to use during the week in enchiladas, mix it with pesto and pasta, salads... etc. Again, I have to say I do not like chicken BUT it is a huge time saver during the week most of the time AND it keeps me from going through the drive thru!

Bacon & Leek Risotto

My hubby loves to make risotto and we love eating risotto! He made this wonderful risotto with some tweaks... for the original Bacon & Leek Risotto click on the link. The photo on the left is also of the original... it went so fast in our house that I didn't even get a chance to take a picture!

His version is below:

1 1/4 cup Abborio Rice
4 strips of bacon, cut up into small pieces & cooked
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green or red bell pepper, diced (or use smaller peppers and use a variety of colors)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, hot (don't try to make risotto with cold chicken stock)
1/4 - 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 TBLS butter
1 TBLS olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut the top and bottom of the leek off. One tip we got from the recipe was to slice the leek in half lengthwise and then slice them, so as they cook they fall apart easier.

Fry the bacon pieces. As they cook add in the leeks, garlic and peppers. DRAIN... DRAIN!

In another pan, add olive oil & rice, let it cook for a minute on medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and add half of the chicken stock, cook until absorbed. Add the remainder of the stock over the next 15 - 20 minutes. Stop adding liquid when the rice is soft but has a bit of bite to it.

Add in the leek mixture, stir all of the ingredients together. Cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add in butter & Parmesan cheese, cover and let sit for 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy.