Saturday, February 21, 2009

He Works Hard for the Money...

...So I am going to work hard to spend it wisely and here is one of my most recent attempts. I am taking a cue from the Duggars of the TLC show "17 Kids and Counting". They have offered me a bit of inspiration lately. Not because we are planning to have 18 children, but I'm incredibly impressed by the way they have managed their money. So when I heard that they make their own baby wipes I decided I would try it out, because with 2 in diapers we go through a lot and this would just be a small way to save some money. I'm very pleased! I will certainly continue to do this. So here is the how to taken from the Duggars.
-One roll of Bounty paper towels
-One-gallon ice-cream bucket (or I used a cylindrical Rubbermade container)
-Two cups water
-Two tablespoons baby oil
-One tablespoon rubbing alcohol
-One tablespoon baby bath (optional, though I did use it)
Cut a whole roll of Bounty paper towels into thirds. (The Duggars found that Bounty is the only brand that works...I trust them. Use an electric knife for best results.)
Place one of the halved rolls vertically into an empty and thoroughly cleaned one-gallon ice cream bucket (or whatever container. You could probably use your wipes warmer if you have one, though I'm not positive because I haven't tried). In a large measuring pitcher, mix two cups water, two tablespoons baby oil, and one tablespoon rubbing alcohol. (and one tablespoon of baby bath if preferred.)
Pour the liquid over the halved roll of paper towels in the ice cream bucket, and soak for 30 minutes. Remove the cardboard center. Feed the top corner of the paper towels, starting in the center, through an X-shaped slit you've cut in the lid of the ice-cream bucket so you can pull out and tear off one "wipe" at a time.
My next endeavor, taken from the Duggars, is homemade laundry detergent. I'm thinking I will try this tomorrow so I will let you know!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Instant Frozen Yogurt

This may be nothing new to any of you, but I did this completely on accident the other day, and well...I've done it on purpose three more times since. Mac can take down a homemade smoothie, and he has gotten into the habit of asking for one almost every afternoon. "Yummy Fmooie?" he says, meaning, "Can I have a yummy smoothie?" So I stored up some sliced fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice cubes in the freezer for a quick mix with some plain yogurt in the blender. Well you may have known this, but blending frozen fruit with yogurt comes out of the blender as frozen yogurt. Of course this sounds like common sense, I just never thought of it. So give this a try because its a great treat for little ones and big ones alike!
1/3 cup sliced frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen sliced bananas
2 cubes frozen orange juice (I squeeze it fresh and freeze it in ice cube trays.)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I use low fat, but whatever you like)
A touch of honey for sweetness

Blend it all up and there you go! It makes two large servings that are hardly any calories and good for you to boot!
You could make this with any frozen fruit you like. My next try is going to be some frozen pineapple chunks with some frozen cubes of coconut milk. If you know some reason why this would not work, let me know...otherwise, I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Slow Cookin' Goodness

Don't know about you, but I love using my crock pot. It just does the trick, and if you haven't gathered, my favorite kind of meals to eat and make are the kind where everything is all mixed together in one pot or bowl of goodness. Here are two of my favorite one pot, slow-cooking recipes I have found of late...

Slow Cooker Lasagna
1 lb uncooked lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted are sometimes hard to find, so plain will d0)
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like the heat)
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Parsley (fresh or dried)
1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
6 dry lasagna noodles, no-cook
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, (Romano is good)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes; simmer 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Mix in parsley (just eyeball it)
Spoon 1/3 of beef mixture into a 5-quart slow cooker. Break 3 lasagna sheets in half and arrange over beef mixture; top with half ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer and finish with remaining 1/3 of beef mixture.
Cover slow cooker and cook on low setting for 4-6 hours. Remove cover; turn off heat and season to taste if desired.
In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over beef mixture. Cover and set aside until cheese melts and lasagna firms up, about 10 minutes. Yields 1/6th of dish per serving.

Cuban-Style Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (about 1 lb)
1 pound lean pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes, with green chilies
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 medium scallions, chopped (green parts only)
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Place potato, pork, tomatoes, garlic, orange juice, scallions, salt, cumin, and pepper in a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker; cover and cook on low setting for 7 hours
Stir in lime juice and cilantro; cover slow cooker and cook for 5 minutes more. (I like to throw in a little Louisiana hot sauce here as well...but be careful- it brings the heat!)
Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My husband is building a garden in our backyard. I had planned on visually chronicling our vegetatious adventures, but my camera has suddenly decided to stop working. So to paint a picture for you, we have a big pile of dirt in our backyard. It is good dirt though (can you picture it?). And it is surrounded by logs. But in any case, does anyone know anything about gardening? Because I don't know the first thing and I could certainly use some help. One of Jonathan's fantastic clients has offered to teach me all about canning vegetables, so look forward to that being an interesting endeavor. Any words of wisdom on all things gardening and vegetables is appreciated.