Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mom's Bran Muffins

The All Bran box that set on our kitchen table when I was a kid in the 1950's never tempted me. For one thing, I knew what natural laxative meant! Once a week, just like clockwork the box of ExLax would come out of the medicine chest and I'd be offered that little chocolate "treat." Saturday morning meant two things, cartoons and many trips to the bathroom! Mom was a bit of a health nut, she shopped according to food value... i.e. nutrition so we didn't have Ko-Ko Pops. Sad, I don't even know how to spell it correctly! Even though I stayed away from the cereal, you couldn't keep me from eating these muffins that Mom made often. The recipe used to be on the back of Kellogg's All-Bran box, but it's not there anymore. A quick Google Search will bring you all the variations on this delicious recipe. Perfect for a healthy snack or breakfast, they are only 163 calories each! 

Apple Walnut Bran Muffins
makes 24 muffins
2 large golden apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup butter
3 cups All-Bran
1 cup boiling water
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a skillet, saute apples in butter until tender, about 10 minutes. Combine cereal and water in a large bowl, then stir in buttermilk, eggs, sugar, raisins/walnuts and apples with butter. Combine dry ingredients; stir into apple mixture just until moistened. Bake as many as desired, then just refrigerate the remaining dough in a tightly covered container for up to 2 weeks (batter will be very thick). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Makes about 24 standard-size muffins. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Out of the blue, in the most unlikely of all places, yet another school shooting has happened in America. Yesterday I was on Facebook when I saw some disturbing posts from Chardon. My daughter's friend Kim was frantic, the idyllic little town her family calls home was upside down with helicopters circling, police barricades and tv cameras everywhere.

Every parent in every town in America can feel the pain and fear that that these families now know first hand. We can't fathom that it would happen here, but neither could Chardon.

Over the next few days they will dissect the possible reasons, already they are saying the shooter was bullied. Some students said they knew he had a bad home life. Even with all the pressures that teens face, none of this makes any sense.

It was sunny and the wind was making the flags over town fly proudly Monday. It felt like just another normal day in our little town and I was thinking how Chardon felt just like this, until yesterday.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I do windows!

I have a big job ahead of me this week, window washing. Never mind that we have 28 windows in this house, the biggest problem is that our upper levels are 3 stories up. Don't be thinkin' we live in NYC, Granny Mountain is in the woods on the side of a mountain, that's the reason it's so steep you get a nosebleed in our bedroom! I watched a YouTube video with professional window washer tips, I'll be using their secret cleaner... it's HERE. There's a reason they get paid the big bucks, it's  a little like plumbing, you can read all you want how to put in a little rubber washer but fixing that drip never is as easy as it sounds. So, be praying for me as I tackle the top windows. They actually "tip out" so I'm not going to standing on a ledge like the granny in the picture!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Raised Bed Gardening

I think about it a lot, the farm that sets in Boone County... just an hour and a half away from me. It was home to my Mom and Dad, her parents, their parents and so on going back to 1860. It's where I ran barefoot in the summer, fed chickens and rode in the International pickup with Grandpa as he fed the cows. Heartstrings, definitely.

There's hardly a day goes by that a pleasant memory of that place doesn't pop into my head. I came away from there imprinted with a love of the land; the smell of hay and grain, the pleasures of gathering eggs, the desire to get up early so I don't miss sunrises and a love of everything country.

I'm not the only one who dreams of a simpler time. We have a resurgence of self sufficiency going in America right now. It's one of the few things that you can call "positive" that has come with the recession. We all want to feel more in control of our food and resources. Saving money and being healthy are important to each and everyone of us.

A starting point is planning a garden. Even if you've never grew so much as a house plant, it's not complicated or hard to do! The good news is, there is information and help out there just for the asking. The local Farmers Co-Op has everything you need to get started, from seeds to soil... and the people to guide you every step of the way! Right now they have a new raised bed garden kit called the GeoPlanter. Easy to assemble, it's made of a geo-textile fabric that promotes healthy root growth. Everyone knows that in hard container gardening, once the roots reach the walls they circle and eventually strangle the plant. With GeoPlanters, the roots are air puned once they reach the fabric container walls. This pruning forces the branching of the fibrous root tips throughout the plant container. The end result is healthy, vigorous plants that grow faster and produce more.

Made in the USA, reusable for many growing seasons, easy to store when not in use ... it's on my want list!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cake for Breakfast

'When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what's the first thing you say to yourself?’
‘What's for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.'It's the same thing,' he said!

Good news last week, you may have missed it since it was on the news Valentine's Day. It seems eating chocolate cake for breakfast may just make you lose weight! If that's not your favorite you can substitute a cookie or some chocolate mousse or even ice cream. Sounds a little crazy doesn't it, but Honest to Pete it's the latest study from a team of researchers at Tel Aviv University. They've stumbled onto some Earthshaking evidence that says adding dessert to a balanced 600-calorie breakfast that includes proteins and carbohydrates can help dieters shed weight and keep it off in the long run. I know, this is too good to be true. You might as well tell me chocolate and wine will make me live longer.... uh, that's true too!

Researchers put 193 obese, nondiabetic adults into two groups. They ate low-carb diets of 1,400 calories a day for women and 1,600 calories a day for men. But one group was given a low-carb 300-calorie breakfast and the other was given a 600-calorie breakfast that was high in protein and carbohydrates, and always included a dessert. Weight loss was about equal for the two groups at 16 weeks. But after 32 weeks, those who added a cookie or cake or ice cream to breakfast had lost an average of 40 pounds more than those who ate the lighter, low-carb breakfast.

 Maybe that's where I've failed, I should have been eating my cake for breakfast!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ozark Trail Bars

I'm on a mission to find a recipe after having Stone Mill's Ozark Blueberry Trail Bars yesterday. My Mother-in-law and I had a 10 o'clock appointment with AARP's free tax preparers at the Boys and Girl's Club in South Fayetteville. She was anxious to have her taxes done, we always worry we're going to have to pay... don't we? She got good news/bad news, the good news is she didn't have to pay and the bad... she didn't get any money back! Oh well, we felt rich somehow when we left there so we headed for a quick lunch at Stone Mill's Bakery and Cafe down on Gregg Street.

They are famous for their whole grain breads and have a delicious menu of homemade soups and sandwiches. It was a cold, blustery day so we both chose a bowl of Chicken and Dumpling soup. It came with two chunks of their crusty French Bread and butter, YUM! The soup was so good, little pinches of dumplings in a thick golden broth. I just know there's a Grandma back there in the kitchen making this one!
Since we were good and just had soup, well kinda good since we both scrarfed down the buttered bread... we decided we'd try the delicious looking Ozark Trail Bars that we saw in the bakery case as we ordered our soup. It was a little hard to look away from the giant iced cinnamon rolls, but they were the size of my hand and I can only eat so much! I went back up to the counter and ordered a mixed berry bar for me and a blueberry bar for Mom. They menu says they are made with whole wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt flours. In fact most of their breads are made without any fat, eggs or dairy. Now I'm on an Internet search for a recipe and it's not easy. Anyone have an idea how they did this magic trick... they were out of the this world delicious!

I didn't take my camera, but a quick Google search and I'm finding pictures that "look like" the bars, just not the healthy ingredients. Then I had the bright idea to see if anyone had posted a recipe to Pinterest. Guess what I'm making today? Go HERE for the recipe...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spring Fever

I went by the Farmer's Co-Op last week and thumbed through the seed packets. Just in planning mode at this point, but it won't be long until Old Man Winter packs his bags and leaves our part of the country. Spring Time is just around the corner in all her green glory. I can't wait!

I have lots of plans this year, I keep seeing great ideas in magazines and on Pinterest. I love the idea of re-purposing something old and it seems I'm not the only one. It just brings a smile to your face to see something like this old chair, painted and pretty again, filled with
petunias and sweet potato vine.

I'd love to have a little potting shed at the edge of our woods, haven't mentioned it to Jerry yet... finding just the right time!

The best thing worst thing about having country property is that you have the resources available to you to "make" whatever you want, i.e. rocks, timber, even some plants. The reality of how much hard work making your own Shangri La is the only thing stopping us most of the time.

That, and flat land. When we lived in town I longed for a mountain, now that we live on a mountainside, I look at pictures like this and sigh... it's that
"Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side" thing!

I do want a Bottle Tree like Aunt B.'s
I need to ask her where she found her blue bottles...

For now this will have to satisfy me! Maybe I could help Old Man Winter pack his bags...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't Cry over Spoiled Milk, use it!

You don't normally come to my blog for beauty tips, but since it's Valentine's Day I want to share one of my favorites. After all, we want to look our best as we set across the table tonight in that romantic restaurant!

One thing I can count on every winter is dry skin, it happens when I don't bathe myself in lotion on a regular basis. Oh I have the lotions, it's just putting them on where I fail miserably! Every room has an arsenal of creams, lotions or oils. So why don't I use them, well... when I get out of the shower I'm in a hurry to get my clothes on and rush cause I'm already late for something. Is that your life too?

When I wash my hands I give myself a quick pump. Invariably, in less than 2 minutes my hands are back in water. ugh!

Bedtime is perfect, time to pull out the products that really moisturize. We are currently using Vaseline Intensive Care's Gel Body Oil. It's industrial strength, it made my dry heels smooth as a baby's bottom in a couple of nights. The bad thing about it is that it doesn't absorb easily. As long as you're putting socks on it's ok to climb right into bed, but slathering it all over is a little like I've been to one of those baby oil wrestling matches that they charge to get into!

Cleopatra's "Milk Bath" has been around for awhile, the Queen of Egypt has been credited as the founder of milk based skin care. There are many variations on the recipe, but it's as simple as adding milk to your bath. It needs to be the full fat whole milk version, after all we want our skin to be plump and round even if we don't want our backside to look like that! Just add up to 5 cups of milk to your hot bath, then soak for about 30 minutes, using a washcloth or loofah to gently exfoliate. Add a few drops of Neutrogena's Body Oil with Sesame to the water and you will get out of the tub a new woman!

The reason this works is that milk contains Lactic Acid. Just like the beauty products I love so much, my Hope in a Jar by Philosophy uses lactic acid to penetrate the skin's deepest layers and exfoliate. I found this recipe online and haven't tried it out yet.... I'm waiting for my milk to spoil!

Fermented Milk Bath
One of the best home treatments is - bathing in extremely fermented whole milk. The milk must be allowed to curdle.
1/2 gallon of this added to a warm bath and soaking in this for at least 20 minutes will give the smoothest and silkiest skin imaginable. Far superior to a mere milk bath. This solution softens the skin more effectively than loofah scrubbing or dry brushing.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Extreme Shoveling

Arkansas may be having it's mildest winter ever, but Europe is suffering one of the worst winters ever.
Schools have closed, public transportation has all but stalled and people are struggling to keep their homes warm. Climate change is affecting us all, from the hottest summers on record to the wettest springs and the coldest winters. This time last year we were recovering from 24" of freshly fallen snow. Jerry was home, simply because he couldn't get out of the driveway until he shoveled it, and it wouldn't stop snowing long enough for him to make a dent in the job!

We had several snows last winter, one after the other for about 6 weeks. It was like Mother Nature was mad at us. Shoveling became a weekly chore, boots remained at the door and coats, hats and gloves never got put away.
Sometime around snow #4 or 5, Jerry decided he was going to buy a snow plow for next winter. Up till then, he had said we live too far South to own a snow plow. Something about us not getting enough snow. We have one now setting in the garage... waiting!

You have time to do some deep thinking when you're going back and forth, shoveling. Things like where you'd like to retire.

Chicago's not on the list, or Minneapolis either. He's not a snow person, I blame it on his early years spent in Puerto Rico and Florida. Deprived of the white stuff, he grew up to HATE IT. From the first cold day in the fall to the last cool day in the spring he mentions how much he dislikes the cold.

I'm thinking it's probably too late to change him!

*We're in Dallas this morning visiting our kids and it's snowing at our house on Granny Mountain!!! Maybe he'll get to use that snow blower after all!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

R.I.P. Bennie Bear

He was King of Granny Mountain, Ben was a rescue dog, our daughter Amy took him into her heart at a time she needed unconditional love...the kind that only comes from a pet. We welcomed him with open arms, and he worked his magic on all of us. He healed Amy's broken heart, he gave Jerry and me many happy years of devoted love, he was friend to every dog he ever met. Ben loved each and every one of us with the no strings attached, full on, lick you in the face devotion that canines are known for.
Granny Mountain was a happy home for Ben, he loved setting on this patio with us, under the trees watching the squirrels and deer. He loved boat rides to Horseshoe Bend and car rides to McDonalds. In time we can smile and say his name but for now, we'll quietly remember just how much we loved him.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine Gifts for Pennies!

It's been a busy week on Pinterest, lots of great ideas for Valentine's Day next week. Do you have something special in mind or does the pocketbook still feel a little "light" from Christmas? I saw just an idea on Pinterest this week if that's the case. It won't cost you one single penny and it's a very special gift for a family member.

The Dates Our Lives Were Forever Changed
from The Memory Gallery on Etsy is sold out...
but with a little patience I made one for us starting with our wedding date, then the days our daughters were born and then our grandsons. You have to fiddle with the font and the size to get it to fit on the paper, then change the color of the script that repeats the dates. Find a simple frame, probably up in the closet and you have just made a gift from the ♥

Carrot and Banana Dog Treats
What about Fido? We love our pets too! This is a great idea from 17 Apart

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
1/2 cup cornmeal 
1 bunch fresh carrots, finely chopped or grated 
2-3 fresh bananas, peeled and mashed 
1 beaten egg 
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
1 tablespoon brown sugar (*optional, we went without) 
1/2 cup cold water

Go over to 17 Apart for the complete directions how to make these healthy dog biscuits for your special pup!
Another way to remember that special year you met, year you married, your children's birth years.
A shadowbox made with a simple branch to represent the "Family Tree." This would bring tears of joy to Grand or Great-Grandparents!

I'm doing this for our Grandson Ewan who's celebrating a birthday this week! One or several balloons in a big box to open will be FUN! Great idea from Happiness Is.

Would these Chocolate Dipped "Hi Hat" Cupcakes make you feel loved?
I thought so... pop over to Oh Cupcakes for the recipe!

Or you could make a Cherpumple for your beloved. It's 3 stacked layers - a cherry pie baked into a chocolate cake, a pumpkin pie in a spice cake, and an apple pie in a yellow cake then covered in frosting. I'm not pulling your leg... go to Eating Out Part V if you are brave enough to make this one!

For my Valentine's treat I'd love to be right here on this sandy beach with my special someone watching as the sun sets!

Maybe with a couple of these...Mango Margaritas from Food and Wine!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's the little things...

Most of you thought I ought to lay off the popcorn before bed after I shared the crazy dream I had the other night. I've had a popcorn Jones for as long as I can remember, in fact I inherited that from Mom. It was a rare night that she didn't pull out the "popcorn pot," add a little Wesson oil and then unscrew the big Ball jar that held the golden kernels. Come to think of it, her parents had the addiction to the fluffy stuff too! Every summer Grandpa grew enough rows for the whole family to have a stash. He actually grew several varieties of corn in the Big Garden, not to be confused with the smaller "salad garden" on the east side of the house. There was sweet corn for eating, Hickory King corn for cornmeal and feed corn for the chickens. So, it's in my genes, I'm not in control of inherited traits! 

Every night, 8ish or so... Jerry says, "Do you want a little popcorn?" I always answer yes. Then he gets up and makes it. We use a Presto Microwave Popcorn Popper, I bought it at Wal-Mart a long time ago. Like 10 years or more. I would say it's been a good one. You just pour in 1/3 cup popcorn kernels and push the Popcorn Button on your microwave. No oil, no bags, if you buy Orville Reddenbacher popcorn it costs roughly 15 cents a batch (6 cups popped). That fits into my thrifty budget that I'm still having to follow after 41 (42 years this June) of wedded bliss. One of the reasons it's worked is popcorn... it's the little things!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Book and it's Cover

Are you watching the new show "The Voice?" We tuned in Sunday night after the Super Bowl, along with about a million and half other people. Time slots are pretty important in TV Land and the show's executives knew that scheduling season 2's premiere right after the Super Bowl would assure a good audience. We look forward to American Idol each season, The Voice gives a little more background about each contestant than Idol. They tell how they have arrived at this dream of singing, what they do in real life and then they perform. Without the background, you'd be tempted to "write them off," they don't look the part. Entertainers have to look the part, or do they?

Kevin Taylor, who won America's Got Talent competition a few years ago didn't impress the judges with his appearance as he strolled onto the stage, his ball cap backwards just like his Southern drawl. The audience and judges laughed as he explained he was a chicken catcher back home in Kentucky. "How many can you catch," they asked as they snickered? Kevin answered politely that 6  guys catch 60,000 a night, 8 at a time. The audience roared, no one believed him. It seemed impossible... almost as impossible as him winning the competition in 2009.

Kevin's star is rising still, he's touring and has written a new CD called "Long Ride." Look for him, he may not look the part but that's just because we haven't opened the book... we're just looking at the cover!

Monday, February 6, 2012

House Tour Turns Ugly

I think I ate too much popcorn yesterday. I had some in the afternoon to dull my appetite for dinner and then last night when my husband fixed his bowl of popcorn I had another serving. Too.much.fiber. I guess it was no surprise that weird dreams would follow! I had one of those on-going-detailed-disturbing-dreams that stays with me instead of evaporting as soon as my feet hit the floor. It all ties into things that are swirling around in this old brain of mine. Are you ready... this is going to take a few paragraphs!

We were being transferred and Jerry had went ahead like he always does, but in the dream he had BOUGHT a house without me! That would never have happened in real life, but in the dream we were going to see the new house. It looked ok from the outside, the front door was cottage style with a wreath on the door of fresh flowers that had withered and died. Then there was a little table with a lamp on it on the porch beside the front door. When we went in, the rooms were large but the kitchen, OMG it was so teeny-tiny that I couldn't imagine where we'd put everything! The cabinets were horrible and had rough hewn wood on the fronts, not cabin like, just old unfinished wood. The stove didn't fit right and I was wondering why in the heck he would have bought this house. We walked into the living room and I saw the GRAND staircase, it was magnificent with ornate wrought iron banister and I forgot completely about the itty-bitty kitchen and ran up the stairs to see the rest of the house!

The house tour turned ugly as soon as I got to the 2nd floor, there was furniture everywhere, someone else's stuff. The sofa and chairs were that mauve and blue that was so popular in the 1980's, hey I used to have a couple of chairs just like the horrible ones in my dream! The more I looked the worse it got. There was a second kitchen up there, but the two sinks had water pouring out of them. Then I realized the people that had owned the house still lived there and their dogs and cats were everywhere. The cats had made a mess and I began to tear up the carpets to clean. In the process I could see Contact Paper (that sticky paper you line cabinets with) and it had been put on the hardwood floors in the kitchen. When I pulled it up, there were pictures all over the floor of the family that had lived there!

Are you following this dream, or have I lost ya? There was so much detail, every room had more chairs and stuff everywhere... sewing machines, fans, antiques, boxes. The only thing that could have made me dream this, other than too much popcorn... is maybe, just maybe, I've been watching too many American Pickers. I did have a conversation this week with Aunt B. and she reminded me we need to make a trip back down to Hackett to go visit the lawnmower shop. It's been there a long time and he's collected just about every kind of lawn and garden object known to mankind. I took pictures of his lawmower graveyard when we were there this summer. I searched and searched to find my pictures so I could show you, but they are gone into the bowels of the computer. I have a feeling that when we do go, it might just bring on another nightmare!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

David Letterman's Mom's Strawberry Pie

David Letterman's Mom's Strawberry Pie
1 9 inch pie shell -- baked
1/2 pt Strawberries, fresh -- Washed and hulled
1/2 c Granulated sugar
2 tb Cornstarch
3/4 c Orange juice
1/2 ts Red food coloring
Whipped cream
Mix sugar and cornstartch, then add orange juice and food coloring. Cook until clear. Add strawberries to glaze and pour mixture into pie shell. Serve with whipped cream.

Beer Braised Chicken Verde

Beer Braised Chicken Verde

tablespoon canola oil or vegetable oil
cup chopped onion (1 large)
cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground coriander
teaspoon chili powder
teaspoon dried Mexican oregano or dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounce bottle Mexican beer (such as Modelo Especial or Pacifico)
11 - 12 ounce can tomatillos, drained
4 - 4 1/2 ounce can diced green chile peppers
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add butter, cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until butter melts.
2. Add beer, tomatillos, and chile peppers. Bring to boiling. Add chicken. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, stirring every 5 minutes to break up the tomatillos. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken from the cooking liquid to a cutting board. Gently boil the cooking liquid, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds.
3. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of the reduced cooking juices; stir to moisten. Use chicken mixture as filling for quesadillas or tacos; pass the remaining cooking juices.

Tacos el Pastor

Tacos el Pastor
medium peeled and cored fresh pineapple
dried pasilla and/or guajillo chile peppers
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vinegar
cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoonsalt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch slices
16 inch corn tortillas
cup chopped onion (1 large)
Snipped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Bottled hot pepper sauce
1.Cut pineapple into 1/2-inch-thick slices, reserving juice; cover and refrigerate pineapple and reserved juice separately.
2. Remove stems and seeds from chile peppers. Place peppers in a medium bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Allow peppers to stand about 30 minutes or until soft; drain, discarding water.
3. In a food processor or blender combine chile peppers, any juice from the pineapple, the orange juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, cumin, and cloves. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth.
4. In a 3-quart baking dish arrange pork slices in a single layer, overlapping slices as necessary. Pour chile pepper mixture over pork slices, spreading evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours. Remove pork from marinade, discarding marinade. Stack tortillas and wrap in foil.
5. For a charcoal grill, place tortilla packet on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Place pork slices and pineapple slices on the grill rack alongside the foil packet directly over medium coals. Grill pork and pineapple slices for 6 to 7 minutes or until pork slices are slightly pink in the center and juices run clear (160 degrees F), turning once. Grill tortilla packet for 10 minutes, turning once. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Grill tortilla packet, pork slices, and pineapple as directed above.)
6. Coarsely chop pork and pineapple and combine in a large bowl. Fill warm tortillas with pork and pineapple mixture. Sprinkle each taco with chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and, if desired, hot pepper sauce.
Print Recipe

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Roasted Tomato Salsa ~Yes, this IS that great restaurant salsa recipe! 
2 1/2 pounds roma tomatoes (about 15)
fresh jalapeno peppers
medium head garlic
teaspoon salt
medium white onions, finely chopped
2/3cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, snipped (1/4 cup)
teaspoons cider vinegar
Tortilla chips
1. Core the tomatoes. Place in one side of a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Halve the jalapeno peppers. Remove stems and seeds. Place, cut side down, in the other side of baking pan with tomatoes. Peel away outer skin from garlic. Cut off the pointed top portion with a knife, leaving the bulb intact but exposing the individual cloves. Add to pan. Roast, uncovered, in a 450 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and pepper skins are charred. Cool.
2. Remove tomato skins. Press to remove garlic paste from individual cloves of garlic. Place garlic, jalapeno peppers, and salt in a food processor bowl or blender container. Cover and process or blend with a few pulses until finely chopped. Add half of the tomatoes; cover and process or blend with a few pulses until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining tomatoes to food processor bowl or blender container; cover and process or blend with a few pulses until coarsely chopped. Stir into tomato mixture in bowl.
3. Stir onions, cilantro, and vinegar into tomato mixture until combined. Cover and chill several hours to blend flavors. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes about 4 cups.

Apple Walnut Bran Muffins

Apple Walnut Bran Muffins
makes 24 muffins
2 large golden apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup butter
3 cups All-Bran
1 cup boiling water
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a skillet, saute apples in butter until tender, about 10 minutes. Combine cereal and water in a large bowl, then stir in buttermilk, eggs, sugar, raisins/walnuts and apples with butter. Combine dry ingredients; stir into apple mixture just until moistened. Bake as many as desired, then just refrigerate the remaining dough in a tightly covered container for up to 2 weeks (batter will be very thick). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Makes about 24 standard-size muffins. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pinterest: Everything you never knew you always wanted to know about anything...

Do you pin? I'd been getting invitations to come to the party, but I didn't know how much fun it would be. Hard to explain, you have to go for a visit. It helps if you have a Pinterest Buddy, someone who's already been drinking the Koolaid and has posted some boards. So what's the big deal about Pinterest? Saving money for one thing, there are hundreds of posts that will fatten up your wallet!

    Did you know you can turn one bar of soap into SIX bottles of liquid hand soap?
    Savvy Housekeeping shared the secret...
    How to To Turn a Bar of Soap into Liquid Hand Soap 1 c soap flakes 10 c water 1 Tbs glycerin Equipment: Cheese grater A large pot Measuring cup and spoons A spatula for stirring A soap container with a hand pump A container to hold excess soap Funnel
    Directions:First, grate the soap. Get out your cheese grater, grab the soap, and get grating. I found this to be surprisingly easy, although the soap particles tend to float in the air as you grate. You can wear a mask to avoid breathing it in. When you’re done, the soap flakes look like grated Parmesan: One bar of soap yielded a little over 1.5 cups of flakes. The recipe only uses one cup of soap flakes, so I put the remaining soap in a jar for later use. In a large pot, combine 1 cup soap flakes, 10 cups water, and 1 Tbs glycerin. Turn on medium-low heat and stir until the soap dissolves. This happens fast, about a minute or two. Let the soap cool completely, then pour into the containers using the funnel. That’s all there is to it!
    If you'd like to know how to make refills for the Foaming Hand Cleaners and Dawn Foaming, go HERE. Isn't this saving money thing FUN??
    This "Smarty Pants Idea" on recycling candles comes from A Day in the Life:  Apparently this works so well Scentsy is upset about the post!  If you have a Scentsy warmer, melt down your old candles, pour them into ice cube trays, freeze for 20 minutes then pop them out and store them away in bags and use in your Scentsy (or any other warmer). No wasted candles and in this economy, every little bit helps!                                        

Did you know that green onions continue to grow in water? The next time you have green onions, don't throw away the white ends. Simply submerge them in a glass of water and place them in a sunny window. Your onions will begin to grow almost immediately and can be harvested almost

This is brilliant... use a Sharpie pen to mark off the dosage and then just check off!

Haven't tried this, but just in case this mild Winter decides to turn nasty... Rants and Raves posted this tip that will save you that terrible job of scraping the windshield. Here's how to ice proof your car windows~ Expecting frost overnight? Just fill a spray bottle with three parts vinegar to one part water and spray on your car windows at night. In the morning, they should be clear of the icy mess. How does it work?What if you wake up to an already frozen car? Just spray the mixture on your windows and watch it melt!
If  you live someplace where it really gets cold (I'd move, but just in case you can't) here's how to prevent your car doors from freezing shut by using cooking spray.  Just spray on the rubber seals around car doors and rub it in with a paper towel, “Doors freeze when snow melts into the seals during the day, and then freezes at night,” says Robert Sinclair Jr. of AAA, The oils in the cooking spray prevent water from melting into the rubber in the first place!
One more cold weather tip, this trick is for de-icing your frozen car door lock. Just put some hand sanitizer gel on the key and the lock to solve the problem. Why does this work? Because hand sanitizers contain alcohol, the main ingredient in most commercial de-icers. Just make sure to use a hand sanitizer that’s 60% alcohol. Sanitizers with less alcohol than that won’t work.

I'm bookmarking Liz and Kate's Blog!!!

Here's one for gardeners~35 Pest and Disease Ideas, Deterrents for deer and rabbits, baits for slugs, snails and beetles.
UPDATE: My GRANDson tried this out this weekend and it's a dun... didn't work.
"You can't believe everything you read on the Internet"---
Fun for the kids too! Glowing Mountain Dew... 1/4th of MD left in the bottle, tiny bit of baking soda, and three cap fulls of hydrogen peroxide. Pour it onto the sidewalk to paint!
Thanks Maniac World!   
Plenty of posts for Inspiration and Living Large... things you didn't even know you wanted!

The coolest sink ever!
from Lovely Listing

"Northern Lights Tile". Tiles appear black at room temp, but move through the color spectrum when the temperature changes.
...and then there's the food~

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Lemon Curd
Seven-Minute Frosting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, spread 1 tablespoon lemon curd onto middle of each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip with frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip slightly and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from surface of frosting, and wave it back and forth until frosting is lightly browned all over. Serve immediately.

Chicken Enchiladas so good you'll never order them at a restaurant again!
from Pink Parsley

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
adapted from Tide and Thyme, originally from America's Test Kitchen
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon canola oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 large beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large breasts)
1 cup extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
cooking spray
salt and ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine the onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil in a large saucepan. cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.

Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through (thickest part reaches 160 degrees), about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing the onion mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and set aside. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the onion mixture, and add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup cheese, and the cilantro. Toss to combine.

Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds. Spread the tortillas on a clean work surface, and spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, or until the tortillas start to brown slightly (skip this step if you don't like the crunch).

Reduce heat to 400. Remove enchiladas and pour sauce evenly on top. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, additional cilantro, etc.

Pear Salad, almost too pretty to eat.. .almost!
from The Kitchn

Vertical Pear Salad
4 smooth skinned pears
2-3 cups watercress
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
vinaigrette dressing
honey for drizzling
lemon juice

Cut pears horizontally into 3 or 4 slices depending on the size of your pears. Use a paring knife to cut out the cores. The pieces should look like O's. Leave the stem on the pop piece. Brush slices of pear with lemon juice to keep it from browning.
Toss watercress, pecans, and blue cheese with dressing until coated.
Reassemble the pear, vertically, with the watercress salad in between each slice. Once assembled, drizzle with honey, and serve!

Did I mention I'm enjoying Pinterest?
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