Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mom's Bread Pudding, tweaked

Walnut Praline Bread Pudding

This recipe is for a 9 x 9 square pan...double it for a lasagna pan

2 C sugar
5 eggs,  beaten
2 C milk
3 tsp vanilla extract

day old italian or french bread, or dinner rolls, torn up (enough to fill pan you are using)

1½ C dark brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted
2 C walnuts
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 C sugar
1 stick butter
1 egg beaten
3 tsp vanilla extract
½ C brandy or Whiskey (optional, I omit this because I am not a fan of booze in my bread pudding)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 9 x9 baker.Break up bread and toss it in the baker.   Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. Pour over bread and let set 15 minutes.

In another bowl, combine brown sugar, butter and walnuts and dollop over the bread mixture.
Bake for 35 mins.

In a sauce pan cook the sauce ingredients until hot. Be careful not to scramble the eggs.  If you mix everything first, and then turn on the heat, and stir as you go, it shouldn't scramble on you.

Pour over bread pudding.

Serve with whipped cream.

Sriracha Ceviche w Grouper

I had ceviche with grouper at a friend's house once.  He made us a seven course meal and it was excellent. I have been a fan of Ceviche ever since. If you are a fan of sashimi, and sushi, you will love this...the fish isn't cooked, but appears to be cooked, because the citrus juice changes it.  Only use quality sushi grade fish when making it.
The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 "Rooster Sauce" Recipes that Pack a Punch
  I got this new cookbook, The Sriracha Cookbook, and everything in it looks amazing.I actually saw the book in a store and had to have it, but of course, when I scanned it on amazon, the price was better, so I waited two days for it to arrive. I am a cookbook collector and everything I seem to want to buy in stores, turns out so much cheaper on amazon.

I changed  it up, just slightly so I could make it with grouper. It was so good, its on my menu for New Years Eve. This recipe alone is worth the price of the book, but don't stop there....there are 50 recipes that ALL look amazing and I will be working my way through this book, as my family loves Sriracha. Go to my store to search inside of this book to see the index of all of the great recipes you can make with this "rooster sauce"

Sriracha Ceviche

1½ pounds seafood (shrimp, scallops, yellowtail, talapia, is where I used grouper)
½ C fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ C fresh squeezed orange juice
2-3 medium tomatoes diced
1 large red onion diced
2 persian cucumbers,diced
1 ear fresh sweet corn, kernels only
4 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno seeded and minced (use some seeds if you like the heat, we do)
½ C fresh chopped cilantro
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ C sriracha
1 C tomato juice
salt and pepper to taste (fresh cracked)
1 avocado sliced to garnish

In a large bowl, combine the seafood with lime and orange juices.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerator, stirring occasionall until the flesh becomes firm and opaque, about three hours. ( I put it in a canning jar, and shake it gently every half hour.)
Add tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, corn, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, oil, sriracha, and tomato juice. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for another 30-60 mins to allow flavors to marry. Season w salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in chilled bowls or martini glasses, garnished with avocado and cilantro.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Release the Clutter: My Goodwill Addiction

I have a Goodwill addiction. My  husband will tell you. He sometimes asks when I bring home something new...Is that going into the Goodwill Box next month?  lol...My intentions aren't all goodwill, but lets face it, Goodwill provides jobs to many people so supporting that is not a bad thing. My intentions are, its a great place to drop off my emotional baggage.  That is what the clutter is to me.

I am having this conversation in my head right now, because its Christmas and we brought new things into our things have to go.

I live in a house, well, that HAD no closets for 12 years. I have a few now.  I don't want them to turn into clutter, because for 12 years, I did n't have to clean out closets and it was pretty nice.

I make a trip to the Goodwill at least once a month with a drop off.  Ya know, "Get rid if anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful."  My emotional clutter.  You can't take it with you when you go anyway.  There are things I have to have of course, my childrens pictures, books, that I won't part with until my death.oh the books...books...that I do struggle with, but I have learned that giving them to friends, isn't a goodbye forever to that book. If I HAD to get it back, I could, they will have it.  (sure they might get rid of it too, but we all know I am not going to need that book again anyway, so let me have the thought).

I had a friend who loved something I had in my kitchen, and it was something I collected but dreaded dusting...she said, you should let me have that.  I looked at her and said, yeah right!.  Then I looked over at it, and with that, I picked it up and handed it to her.  I was sort of amazed myself, but it became a habit for me. It felt good.  Not that I was giving her joy in getting something, but that I won't have to ever dust it again.  If I acquire as much as a stone, it owns me, because then I have to dust it.

Sometimes I feel guilty seeing the person walk off with my stuff, because they are going to have to dust it, but maybe it brings them more joy that it brought me.  Material things don't bring me much joy.  If they do, its very short lived.

I have a book called Throw Out Fifty Things, that speaks to me. It motivates me to give more.  Its easy to clean a house without stuff in it.  There are no knicknacks to move around, which makes cleaning a tedious act.   I can open it to almost any page and gain something from it. A few moments ago, I read,   "For me, people who live solely on their laurels and accomplishments from the past are a yawn.  I don't wan to hear how wonderful you were in high school, or how you used to bicycle 20 miles a day. I want to know what you are doing with your life today?  Looking backward holds no charm for me. What's done, is done.  Learn from it and move on."  Its true, I mean really, who wants to listen to someone brag about their past and perhaps get their photo album out and show you pictures...there is a half hour, plus, of you life you will never get back.

Now, go throw out fifty things..I know you can do it.  But please,give them to Goodwill and keep  people working.

Homemade Toothpaste (coconut oil is amazing!)

I have been using coconut oil for a lotion for a few years now.  Its great for stir frying too because I swear you can't burn the stuff..but as a health and beauty aid, the uses are limitless.

You can use it alone, to moisturize, add essential oils to it to make it smell nice and some of them have healing qualities too.  I am not going to ramble about essential oils right now, as I strive to keep my posts short and to the point. (no one has time to read ramblings)  If you want to know more about essential oils, here are some great books on the subject.

My toothpaste is basic..

2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
a few drops of peppermint oil (you have to experiment to get your liking)
a few drops peroxide
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 drops clove oil
mash it up together and keep it in a small container.

I make my own container so I can just dip my toothbrush right into it and brush away.  Some people want a sweetener in theirs, not me.

I see people posting they made it in a huge canning jar..I am not sure I want to make that much at once as it goes pretty far and I would rather know its freshly made.

After my last dental visit, and the barnacle removal I went through, my gums were in pain for two months.  No kidding.  I don't know if they gave me some sort of infection or what, but nothing would stop the pain, so I tried this toothpaste and the pain is gone.

Here is where I got the idea, you can take it for what its worth, as we all know, what works for some, may not work for others..and some people can get cancer from something and it may not affect someone else, and health articles online are a dime a dozen. I just know it helped me out.

There are a gazillion uses for coconut oil and you can probably come up with a few of your own.  I like to mix it with sugar and use it in the shower to exfoliate.  Its a great hair conditioner too.

My hubby found an article on using it for natural eyelash thickening too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Russian Snowballs (walnut cookies)

I just realized one of our treasured family recipes is not on my blog.  These are amazing. They melt in your mouth.Also a great recipe for when you are out of eggs.

Russian Snowballs
1/2 lb butter
2 c flour
2 c chopped walnuts (you can sub in pecans or almonds, so good)
5 T sugar
2 t vanilla extract (if using almonds, use almond extract)
1 T water
1/2 t salt

10x sugar

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and water. 
Sift Flour and salt (family recipe says so, I say whisk it and forgo the sifter)
Blend with other ingredients, roll into balls or crescents.
Bake at 325° for 20 mins.
Roll in 10 sugar twice (confectioners sugar)

Father Frost

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quick Pumpkin Caramel Latte

Pumpkin Caramel Latte

This is a simple fast way to make a yummy coffee treat.  

In a coffee mug:

Put a shot of Davinci Caramel Syrup in mug
Fill to about halfway with half and half

Microwave for a minute

Add pumpkin pie spice...a sprinkle, about two shakes through the shaker part of the lid Stir, add coffee and heat again if coffee is not piping hot.  

Top with whipped cream it you have any.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

DIY Desk Organizer

I was cleaning off my desk,there was a huge pile of papers again and it drives me up a wall to see my desk like that.  I am not really in the mood to go out shopping and I looked on a few office supply websites and found nothing suitable for my paper-mess ..I don't want something too big, that has too many compartments, afterall, the papers are supposed to be there temporarily until they get filed in the filing cabinet or taken care of how they need to be...mailed, tossed etc.

I need something, anything to control the clutter and lets face it, this is just my cubicle (I have my office contained in an armoire), it's not a show  house.We live here and we use it as such.  I just need some quick organization.

I grabbed a cereal box and a few things I had laying around (fabric from one of my crazy quilt adventures, a utility knife, scissors, and a hot glue gun).  My box  had to be large enough to accomodate files,so I used this box, even though its slightly larger than I wanted..I made due because my smaller cereal boxes did not fit the file folders. You don't have to use fabric, you can use wrapping paper, contact paper, whatever..its no a forever thing and if you are bored, you can even do it in holiday paper.  I don't have that kind of time, I am not Martha.
Okay, follow along, this isn't rocket science so I am sure you get the idea without me going through the steps word for word...

The finished product has a smaller cereal box in it, I put in there to catch the smaller things.  I could have fabric covered it, but I am just using this to organize and who is gonna look in there (except for all ya'all reading this lol) 

This will make due for now...I may have to find another box that is slightly less deep, to take up a tad less space, but its not taking up that much room. At least not as much room as those papers and catalogs strewn all over my desk. 
Here is my finished "cubicle". 
This organizer cost me ZERO dollars, as I had the glue gun, leftover fabric and I recycled a cereal box. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Healthy Fast Food Vegetarian & Meat Eaters versions

I have been calling this stuff, Cowgirl Caviar. 

It is nearly impossible to get a fast food that is healthy from any restaurant...they all add so much salt and what not to their foods, even when they CLAIM to be healthy. I promise you, this is fast food. It's a lot of typing, because this is so diverse, you can change it up to your liking, after all, that is what makes us good cooks, making the food, how we think it tastes good.

This is so fast....and ♫ SO DELICIOUS. click the link, you can listen to faster by Matt Nathanson while you read this if you like....Vegetarian, but only by chance. I am not vegetarian, I just like to eat fresh foods. My family eats vegetarian a few times a week, but we do love meat. This is also carb free if you are into that.

Let me start by saying a main staple I buy at the grocery store is the fresh salsa in the produce dept...every week, we buy two and we use it up...I like the hot, since we like it hot. Every grocery store I have been to, has their own brand.  Its just fresh ingredients. No additives. This saves you the step of dicing veggies.  I use this for EVERYTHING! My tortilla pizza post is to follow using it. There is a tad bit of salt in this, but not like the jarred kind and this isnt' runny, its just like pico de gallo.

Okay, here it is....
Mix black beans, kidney beans (or your favorite beans), fresh salsa, corn and Gorgonzola Cheese....and then, some of your favorite spices..what are you in the mood for.... Mexican? Add some cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano and paprika (you can use a packet of taco seasoning, but it probably contains a lot of salt)   Italian?  Add your mafia seasonings, which is what I call my mixture I keep ready to use in a big jar (rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, sage, thyme and marjoram)...etc...I don't have to go over your favorite spice blend, you can make it any way you want... Indian, Thai, the sky is the limit.

Heat this up, in a nuker is fine, and put this over your spaghetti squash. 
I also take it as is to work and put it on a flour tortilla and eat it like a taco. 

Or, use it for anything, chips and salsa or on a bun, or just eat it with a fork alone. You can add your meat to this if you like also.  I love to make this a few times a week so I have something quick and healthy to eat at work.
Some tips for prepping for this to be fast food....if you don't wanna use canned beans.  I dont like to use canned, since canned foods have added sodium.

 If you want to make it with meat, and in a hurry, buy precooked sausage links, and cut them up. Buying prepped foods makes it easier to cook fast, there are cut up cooked chicken and beef strips available too, but again, additives...If you have leftover cooked meats, add it.

You can nuke the spaghetti squash or bake it in the oven, your choice...faster in the nuker but your choice.
Here are some ways to cook it I found online → .How to cook spaghetti squash

While that cooks, cook your beans, kidney beans, your choice, or a mixture in the pressure cooker, or make it easy on yourself and pressure cook these ahead of time and keep them in the fridge for multipurpose use Most can be cooked in 20 mins or less in a pressure cooker.
 You may also used canned, nothing wrong with that.

Another use is, mix it with precooked chicken strips and serve it over rice.  I keep this in the fridge non stop now for on-demand healthy quick lunches.  I make it on a Sunday and its good until Thursday or Friday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kick the Habit ~ It won't cost you a cent, & you don't need medications

Totally unrelated to pretty much any of my posts, I have been a "closet" smoker for years.  Some close to me knew I smoked, some had no idea. But in any case, I WAS a smoker.  I am embarrassed for those who didn't know, to know now that I smoked..but in all honesty, I did. Often and for many years.

I had people torment me to quit and I didn't want to hear it, which is why I kept it in the closet for the most part, no one likes to hear people lecture. In fact, its quite the turn off. 

I had friends who used meds to quit, and I heard the horror stories of the side effects, scared me to death, not to mention, what are the long term health effects of taking those drugs, even for a few weeks?  Does anyone really know?

I started doing yoga regularly, and the breathing exercises, pranayama, mimicked the same breaths we take when we smoke cigarettes. The only difference is, I was getting fresh, healthy air..not smoke.  Now I did not put 2 and 2 together, until I had already quit and my friend pointed it out to me that this was the breathing I was doing in yoga. (thank you Kory) 

  In any case, I was doing yoga, not even thinking about quitting smoking when a friend from work (who is also one of my yoga teachers) sent me this picture. (Thanks Tina, you were my inspiration, you held the key and I did not even know it at the time)
She had been a smoker and kicked the habit. She never hounded me to quit, I don't even think she once said to me, that I should quit. One day, out of curiosity   I asked her how she did quit. Drug free, she just did and she mentioned using a pen as her way of getting the feel of having one.  I kept this picture and set a date.  I didn't tell many people right away. My date was for the middle of the month.  In the beginning of the  month I was to quit, I ran out of cigarettes and decided..I was just going to do it now, why prolong it.  I didn't buy another pack and have not looked back since.  

At first, there was the desire, when I talked on the phone, or had a glass of wine...and I would just tell myself, I AM A NON-SMOKER.  That was all it took, the desire was gone. I stopped hanging with my smoker friends, both at work and in my personal life for a time.  I explained to them why.  They understood.  

Here are the steps that worked for me...I hope they help at least one person kick the habit. 

1. If you want to quit, set a date...tell people, people who have kicked the habit will support you. People who have never smoked aren't much help, as they never had the desire to understand, so try to find someone who has done it.  Listen to people's stories, who have quit, they hold keys that can save your life. I was lucky to have a few friends who quit. (Tina, and Teresa were my go to's with questions I had)

2. Start doing yoga, or at the very least the breathing exercises associated with yoga. Breathe in deep, (like when you take a drag), hold for a second and then breathe out. Pause and repeat.

3.  Avoid the smokers for awhile.  If someone in your house smokes, you may wish to ask them to not smoke around you, or in the house anymore.  

4. Avoid situations where you may love to chat on the phone and have a cigarette...stay off the phone for a few weeks..keep the calls short and don't hang on the phone.

5. Do not cheat!  Not once!  You are right back to day one if you do.  

6. Tell yourself over and over, every time you get the desire...I AM A NON-SMOKER and say it proudly! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tortilla Pizza

If you are like me, when you are hungry, you are hungry now and want food fast.  It can be fast and still somewhat healthy, and cheap....Here is an easy fast meal, the teenagers can even make..  use whatever tortillas you like and make it how you we go....

You can make this like a regular pizza...sauce, parmesan, and mozzerella cheese..
Add your mafia seasonings, which is what I call my mixture I keep ready to use in a big jar (rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, sage, thyme and marjoram)..

I like mine a little different...again with the fresh salsa...I tell ya, I can't get enough of this makes my life so much easier, no cutting up the produce makes it so much faster....its a smiliar texture to pico de gallo.

Take your tortilla, and spray it with oil..I use grape seed with a kitchen spritzer. I just do the top of it. You can do the bottom if you like.

Next, put the salsa on it...some gorgonzola cheese, parmesan cheese and basil, rosemary garlic and some fresh cracked pepper.  
I have also added apple sausage, it comes precooked, so you can just slice up a link and toss it on before baking but you can eat it without the sausage too, its my favorite after work snack. 

Bake it for about 10 mins, watch it, it should crisp up but of course,not burn.  I put mine on a prebaked baking stone. I make it on a deli sheet, and pick it up on that, move it to the baking stone and slide the paper out from under it and toss. 

These sheets come in handy! ↓ I use them to wrap sammiches etc.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mug Mac and Cheese

I love mug recipes!!!

My lazy teenage sons won't make themselves a real meal.  I have to spell it out for them.  So if I have the stuff, ready to go for them, or a recipe for a mug meal hanging up on the fridge, they will make it.  It's healthier than the box versions. 

Mug Mac and Cheese
1/3 cup macaroni pasta
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup  milk
small pat of butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional: peppers, broccoli, spinach, etc etc..whatdayalike?

Put the pasta and water in a mug...some water will overflow as it cooks, or you can put it in a bigger mug or  bowl so that this doesn't happen.  My mugs are BIG, because we drink giant cups of coffee in this house. 

Microwave for 2 mins, stir, and microwave again @ 1 minute intervals until the pasta is cooked. this could take about 3-5 minutes, depending on your microwave. Mine is done in about 4.

Then add milk, butter and cheese and nuke it another 30-60 seconds in the microwave until melted and heated through.

 If you like other stuff in your mac and cheese, go for it. I like jalapenos in I dice it up and throw it during the last minute of cooking the pasta and water. 

Also this could be just nuked and made into buttered noodles. Add broccoli to make it a bit healthy, really, anything you like in your pasta can go into this.  

Stretching Tacos for Surprise Company

Well, its been ages...I HAVE been cooking, but I am such a slacker when it comes to the technical side of the job here.  Fire me.  We have been busy, remodeling the house, and YES!, we are actually getting things done!  It wasn't planned but we redid our already redone living room.  I needed a change again.  ADD sets in fast with me.

I will try my best to post once a week at least...have I said this before?  LOL  Friends who follow my blog ask me why I have not posted. So even if its short and sweet, I will try my best to shout out a tip or maybe even a question some of you can answer for me.  PS  Follow me on facebook, because I post there a little more often with little things I find that are neat, but haven't tried yet. The link is at the top, but I will place it right here → Follow me on facebook 

I have been making my tacos with ground turkey burger and ground sausage...I love ground sausage and put it in everything now a days..I just don't care much for  ground beef, unless I grind it from a good cut of meat which I don't have much time for some days, so I keep these ground meats in the freezer for such times I need to whip up dinner fast

Anyway, here is a quick tip for feeding a crowd....Throw in some corn and black beans...I never know how many are coming for teenage boys bring home strays constantly, so I have to find ways to stretch our meals out to feed everyone.  You will want to use extra spices, so the tacos don't get bland.
Here is my go to taco spice mix.
You decide how much you want to use, doubling or tripling, depending on the batch size you are making..This is for one pound of meat..

Magic Taco Spice:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy Fairy Day!

I may have posted this years ago, but for those with little girls, or even teenage gals...and how about us gals who never grew is a cute easy craft, that gives you professional looking fairy wings.  The sky is the limit. The more you embellish, the better the wings. 

I just love this gal.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pineapple Pulled Pork Sammiches (pressure cooker)

We LOVE the mango pulled pork and I was out of the mango so I decided to try something new, with what I had on hand.  Those of you who have made my recipes know, I don't follow recipes and I don't I am giving you what I used and about how much I eyed it up to be. 

My family LOVED it!  Its our new fav way to eat pulled pork.  Go ahead and make it your own...change up the ingredients or amount of ingredients and enjoy.  ♥

It's amazing what you can do with the staples in your kitchen when you are making a favorite recipe and realize you don't have everything you need.  

What could be better than 10 mins prep time for a meal that tastes like you cooked all day. 

Toss the following into the pressure cooker

1 C ketchup
1/3 C Cider Vinegar
1/2 C packed brown sugar (more or less I am a sugar junkie)
handful of paprika
1 T red pepper flakes (this did not make it spicy so if you want some kick, add more)
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 T dried minced garlic
1 twenty ounce can pineapple (cubed or crushed, whatever you like) see update at bottom of page
1 cup pineapple juice or pineapple nectar
1/2 cup molasses
3 lb pork butt (shoulder)  Any size is good. Mine was frozen, that's the magic of the pressure cooker

Roll it over in the sauce, and shut the lid

Cook for 75 mins (probably would be done in 60 but I wasn't playing around.
Pull apart with a fork...this will far apart with no effort.

I think this is my new favorite barbq sauce.  I am definitely going to use this on chicken on the grill too.

Update:  I no longer used canned products..we buy pineapple every week in this house for an on demand homemade fruit salad, so I just toss in a cup or two of fresh pineapple cubes and hit the vitamix button on.