Friday, April 29, 2011

Help for Families Affected by Tornadoes

Please click here if you are able to make a donation or would even just like to send a card of encouragement:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Recipe : Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe found here:

These turned out quite good, in spite of the overly healthy-sounding title.  LOL   I used a generous cup of Robin Hood multigrain flour instead of the white wheat flour and millet the recipe calls for, and it worked quite well.  I also skipped the nuts because the kids would never eat them if there were nuts poking out.  There is just enough peanut butter in them... enough to add a bit of protein but not enough to be overwhelming in taste, meaning even my kids who don't like peanut butter would eat them.  I used my small scoop from Pampered Chef and got 36 cookies from the recipe.

Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup natural brown sugar
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic peanut butter
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup + 2 Tbs white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup millet
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease.
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda then set aside.
In a large bowl beat sugars with softened butter for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and peanut butter. Add oats and beat at reduced speed until combined. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in millet, chocolate chips, and nuts. Scoop dough into balls on parchment paper, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Allow cookies to cool for three minutes before removing them from the baking sheet.

If you're interested, I used the calculator at SparkPeople to figure out the nutritional details:    Calories 100.5, Total Fat 5.5 g, Total Carbohydrates 13.4 g, Dietary Fiber 0.8 g, Sugars 8.2 g, Protein 2.0 g.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recipe : Mile High Blueberry Muffins

These are fabulous muffins.  Seriously.  Definitely worth making!

Mile High Blueberry Muffins 

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup plain yogurt -- room temperature   (I used strawberry, very good!)
2 eggs -- slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400°.

Generously grease muffin pans, or use paper liners.

In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder & baking soda.  Cut in butter using a pastry blender or a fork, until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

In a small bowl, stir yogurt until creamy. Blend in eggs & vanilla extract. Pour all at once into flour mixture & stir until flour mixture moistened. Do not overstir. Gently fold in blueberries.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. If desired, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a bit of additional sugar. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately. Serve warm.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Menu

Just thought I'd share what we had for Easter Dinner today...

Roast Turkey 
- Dry brined for two days then roasted for 1/2 hour at 450 degrees followed by 6 hours at 300 degrees and about an hour at 350 degrees when I had to increase the temperature to bake some other things alongside.

Baked Ham
- Roasted at 450 degrees with the turkey then baked in Pampered Chef's "Deep Covered Baker" alongside the turkey.  Slight error in judgment as far as baking time goes... in the future, note to self, wait til after lunch to put the ham in the oven.  It turned out all right on the inside, just the outside was rather *ahem* overdone.   With cloves, of course, and a honey glaze.

Mashed Potatoes
- Yukon Gold, of course... boiled then whipped up in the Kitchenaid with salt, pepper, margarine and chicken broth.

Glazed Carrots
- Nothing too complicated, just boiled carrots with butter and honey.

Mashed Turnip
- Just because... seemed like we should have another vegetable on the table.

Sweet Potato Casserole
- A side dish and a dessert all in one!  Equally yummy beside turkey or in a bowl with whipped cream... sweet potato and coconut under a kind of crumble topping... mmmm....

- Stuff n Such.  I don't make stuffing.

Strawberry Shortcake
- Just because I wanted it.  Even though it's only April.  With Ann's tea biscuit recipe.  But I cheated and used Cool Whip.

And good company, of course, who contributed some very nice wines to the table.... all in all, a great meal... and now we all need a nap.  LOL

I guess I should add something on here that's consistent with saving money, so by the way, I'm boiling the turkey scraps for broth now...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Paska (Easter Bread)

Recipe borrowed from one of my favorite recipe sites, here:

The instructions are for using a kneading machine, which I don't have... I just followed through the same steps mixing by hand and it worked out fine.  I didn't have any regular milk so I used So Good Coconut and it was fine... also had no lemon zest but I thought almond extract might go well with the coconut milk so I went that way.  Very tasty.  It's a nice bread, with frosting and sprinkles.  Yum!


1 cup milk (1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
8 - 10 whole eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
10 cups flour

Heat milk just to a scalding level, then add butter which will melt in the milk.
Add 1 cup water to the milk mixture and by now this will have cooled down the hot milk.
In mixing bowl blend half of the flour with fast rising yeast, and add salt.
Add liquids and blend for 5 minutes on lowest setting.
Combine sugar and eggs and lemon zest into a mixing bowl and beat for several minutes.
Add remaining flour and add egg mixture into the kneading bowl, and knead at a high setting till the dough pulls away from the mixing bowl.
Dough texture should remain soft.
Let the dough rise in the mixing bowl till doubled in size. Cover with saran wrap and towel.
Meanwhile prepare your baking pans with cooking oil or parchment paper.
Shape your dough into preferred pans and let rise again for 1 hour or till doubled in size.
Bake at 325 degrees. Buns need 20 minutes, while loaves need about 35-40 minutes.
Ice with your favorite spread.

2 tablespoons cold water
41/2 tablespoons white sugar
2/3 cups shortening
1 egg
21/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla1

Dissolve white sugar in water. Shake or stir frequently. Set aside. Beat remaining ingredients to the consistency of whipped cream. Beat in sugar and water mixture. Store covered in refrigerator. Will keep up to 3 months.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Are You on the Road to Debt and Destruction?

Copyright Deborah Taylor-Hough
Used with permission.  All rights reserved.

Every year since 1996, over one million personal bankruptcies have been filed in the United States. The majority of these are the direct result of poorly managed consumer debt. I was informed recently that outstanding U.S. consumer debt (non-mortgage related) totals much more than a trillion dollars. The most disturbing fact behind
that staggering number is that thirteen percent of that one trillion dollar figure, or thirteen billion dollars, was delinquent.

Thirteen billion dollars of delinquent consumer debt. Over one million personal bankruptcies each year. Are YOU on the road to debt and destruction? Take this simple quiz and find out. 

Do you regularly pay for groceries with a credit card?
Do you spend money now, expecting your income to increase in the future?
Do you hide purchases from your spouse or other family members?
Do you have difficulty imagining your life without credit?
Are you becoming an expert at juggling each month, deciding which bills to
pay and which ones to let go until the next paycheck?
Do you pay off your monthly credit-card bills, but let other bills slide, such
as medical expenses and utilities?
Have you taken cash advances on one credit card to pay monthly payments
on other cards?
Do you feel anxiety when you think about or discuss your financial situation?
Do you have little or no money in savings?
Do you make frequent impulse purchases?
Does your installment debt (not including mortgages) amount to more than
20 percent of your income?
Has the stress of your financial situation caused turmoil in your relationship
with your spouse or other family members?
Are you at your credit limits?
Do you fail to keep an accurate record of your purchases?
Have you started to receive collection letters, notices or phone calls?
Are you afraid to answer the phone in case it’s a collection agency?

How many times did you answer “Yes,” to the preceding questions? 

0 -  You’re doing great! Full speed ahead! 

1 - 2  You still have a green light. You can probably proceed in relative safety. Your splurging is not out of control ... yet. 

3 - 4  Slow down! You have a flashing yellow light and have entered the severe caution zone. You may need to start exercising a bit more self-discipline in the area of finances. It’s time to draw up a budget, pay off your debts, and reevaluate your spending habits before you find yourself in over your head. 

5 - 6  Red light! Stop! You seriously need to gain control of your spending before you proceed any further. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You’d be wise to seek out a credit counselor or financial planner for
immediate help in changing your spending habits. You are well on the road  to financial catastrophe, but there’s still hope. Turn around now! 

7 - 16  DANGER! DANGER! You’re careening out of control and emergency measures are needed. You are about to experience a financial crash of monumental proportions. You need to slam on your brakes and come to an immediate stop.
The wisest course of action when you find yourself on the wrong road is to turn around and go back. If you keep heading the way you are, you’ll only go further away from financial stability. If you’re in the Danger Zone and traveling this far down the wrong road, you should cut up all of your credit cards and close the accounts, now! Don’t spend one more penny on anything but the most basic necessities until you’ve called a credit counselor for assistance. (And please don’t run out and purchase something today, thinking that you’re about to cut up your credit cards! That’s the type of thinking that brought you down this road to begin with.) 

Remember, you’re not a bad person for being in this situation, but you’ve made some big mistakes. Now is the time to start making proper decisions about your finances. You can get off this wild ride, but if you don’t take immediate steps to fix the problem, you could soon become just another personal bankruptcy statistic.  

–This quiz was excerpted and adapted from A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity by Deborah Taylor-Hough (SourceBooks). Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of a number of popular books including the bestselling Frozen Assets cookbook series, Frugal Living for Dummies®, and A Simple Choice: A practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. Visit Debi online at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Recipe : My Chili Creation

This recipe is one I put together after reading several chili recipes online... I took what sounded like the best parts of each one, put them together, tweaked things a bit and voila!  And now I'm going to be really generous and actually share it... even though this is one that I really ought to keep a secret.  LOL


vegetable or olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (or use 1 can)

2 lbs ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, chicken, sausage or a mix)
salt and black pepper

1 can diced tomatoes (13 to 16 oz)
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 can beef broth
1 can dark beer (optional)

2 16-oz cans kidney beans
2 16-oz cans black beans (or use 4 cans kidney beans)
1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned, optional)

3 tbsp chili powder or flakes
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 tsp coriander (optional)
2 tsp paprika
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup white or brown sugar

1 tsp cornmeal
1 tsp flour
1/4 cup water

Put 4 tbsp oil in a large pot.  Add garlic, onions and peppers and cook until onions are nearly transparent.  Add mushrooms and cook a little longer.

In a frying pan, cook the meat with a bit of oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until meat is done.  

Drain off undesired liquid from the pan (keep a bit).  Add the meat and the canned tomatoes to the pot with the cooked vegetables.  Simmer for five minutes.

Add the tomato paste and beef broth to the pot.  Stir, and cook for two more minutes.

Add the beans and continue to stir.  

Add seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for one hour.  Add sugar and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix cornmeal, flour and water.  Stir into chili and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Serve hot. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recipe : Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a secret ingredient)

This recipe is from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.  It sounds weird... and I guess it is... but I have it on the word of 2, 3, and 6 year olds that these are deelish.  They sort of look like they have macadamia nuts in them, but without the expected crunch.  So my advice is, warn adults, but don't say a word to kids.  They won't know the difference anyway.   (By the way, she has a second book out now!!  Double Delicious!: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives)

Since I was making them for company instead of the cookie jar, I made them a little big, using very full tablespoons, and the baking time ended up being closer to 20 minutes.  Start checking at 11 minutes depending on the size you make them.  They don't really spread very much, just a bit, and it's a little hard to tell when they're done.  You want the top to be set and not shiny, and the edges to be just starting to brown.

Chocolate Chip Cookies 
(with chickpeas)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup soft margarine
2 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (I used quick oats)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray (I used parchment paper).

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and margarine until smooth.  Beat in the egg whites and vanilla, then the chickpeas and chocolate chips.  Add the flour, oats, baking soda and salt, and mix until a thick dough forms.

Drop the dough by tablespoonful onto the baking sheet, spacing about two inches apart.  Flatten slightly.  Bake until golden brown and just set, 11-13 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Recipe : Mashed Potato Casserole

If you're looking to fancy up your potatoes a bit without making things *too* complicated, this is a good recipe to try out.  I didn't have any half-and-half, so I used chicken broth for all the liquid, and it still turned out all right, just a little on the yellow side.  The flavor is excellent.  :o)  It was a hit with the hubby and the three-year-old potato fan; child who doesn't like potatoes still didn't like it.  You win some, you lose some...

The top gets a little funny in the fridge, but it does reheat all right.  I would personally call this a recipe that you want to make when you know it'll get eaten up - company, pot luck, that sort of thing.  

Mashed Potato Casserole
Serves 8

4 pounds russet potatoes (about 8 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 stick butter, cubed
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/4 cup fresh chives, finely chopped

Directions: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring potatoes and water in large pot over high heat to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

Heat half-and-half, chicken broth, butter, garlic, salt, and mustard in saucepan over medium heat until smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep warm. Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. With electric mixer on medium-low beat potatoes, slowly adding half-and-half mixture, until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl and add eggs 1 at a time until incorporated, about 2 more minutes. Fold in chives.

Pour into greased 13×9 inch baking dish, mixture will be loose but will bake up firm. Use a fork to swirl peaks on top to promote browning and because it’s pretty. Bake for 28-30 minutes until potatoes rise and begin to brown. Let cool 10 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thrifty Tip : Cleaning your Coffee Maker

No need to go out and buy special products to clean and deodorize your coffee maker... read on!   Tips collected from all over the internet and assembled here for your convenience.  :o)

Apply a paste of baking soda and water to the inside of the coffee pot, let it set for a little while.  Adding a bit of salt will give more abrasion if there are stains.  Scrub with a wet cloth and rinse.  (You can add some vinegar if you want the bubbles)
Scrub down your coffee pot with hot soapy water, inside and out. Rinse the pot after cleaning.

Run one of the following through the brewing cycle (a full coffee pot full - use a filter)):
- mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar
- straight white vinegar
- water with two denture-cleaning tablets
- water with the juice from a whole lemon (or two)
- water with dissolved citric acid (a packet of Tang!)
- water with baking soda
This will not only deodorize the coffee pot but the brewing unit itself.

Run three fresh pots of plain water through the unit to get rid of any residue.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Recipe : Sweet Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are a nice treat - sweet, light, and cake-like.  They work well with blueberries as well!

Chocolate Chip Muffins
found here:

(Makes 12 muffins or 40 mini)

1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose plain flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.  In another bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the buttermilk mixture, and beat until smooth and well mixed, 1-2 minutes. Using a large silicone spatula, fold in the chocolate chips just until evenly distributed. Do not overmix. Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim.

Bake the muffins until golden and springy to the touch, 15-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature.