Wednesday, June 23, 2010

4th of July Jars

        Just another holiday decoration idea...

Apothecary Jars with a Patriotic Theme:

I used:
-Hot Tamales
-Mini Marshmallows
-Twisler Licorice bite size
-Starburst Licorice (only the blue and sliced up) 

I also added:
-Small Flags
-Silver Balloon Weights
-Cut out cardboard stars painted in Red and Blue
-And strips of fabric to tie them

All super cheap and easy.  In another room I also used the "seasonal" marshmallows that are stars in red white and blue, and I considered gum balls...there are tons of candy options!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cute Kid Ideas


With summer coming, and the hot Arizona weather I have been searching for some fun indoor or "cool" ideas and here are a few I cam across:

Homemade Play Kitchen
I love this!!! It is made from an old entertainment center.  Look at it on the family fun link below!


I'm having my husband make me a Tool/Work Bench and a BBQ (the boy version of a play kitchen), because the idea is too cute not to use!
Here on Family Fun or
here on Serving Pink Lemonade I loved the ones she found

*Some of the links above no longer work...so here are a few others you might like:
1. gorgeous kids kitchen diy: here
2. cute kitchen made from old tv stand: here
3. kids kitchen made from old entertainment center: here


Marble Race Track:
I loved this idea! Especially since it is summer right now and there are Noodles at every store. Another easy way to keep my child busy!
Links:
Here on 
Here on Serving Pink Lemonade she explains how to make it and includes lovely pictures.

These are just the first two I came across...but I will share my other favorites as I go!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

House Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning alone can be overwhelming.  And the larger the house the more to clean.  Then there are the "chores" that don't need to be done daily or weekly but more monthly and even seasonal... I find it easier to split it up so that things don't build up and become even more work.

So on my usual day I like to clean for an hour or two each morning, to keep the cleaning up and the house tidy. So instead of a full day of cleaning I split up all the chores between 6 days of the week, and rotate in the monthly and seasonal chores as well.  Below is a basic schedule I follow...but it may require tweeking for your schedule or your house.

House Cleaning Schedule:

 
Daily
Make Beds (5-10 min)
Pick Up (5-10 min)
Wipe Down Bathrooms (5-10 min)
Wipe Down Kitchen (10 min. repeated throughout day)
Dinner
Dishes & Sweep (after dinner)
Load/Unload Dishwasher (as needed)
Each Day Do one section of Weekly

 
Weekly:
(Assign a day of the week for each letter, leaving one day free...for you!)

 
     A. Dust
         Vacuum
         Mop
     B. Change Sheets
     C. Laundry
     D. Meal Preparation/Freezer Meals
     E. Scrub Kitchen (Microwave)
     F. Sat. Chores:
         -Scrub Bathrooms (shower/tub trade off)
         -Sat. Outdoor Jobs

 
**On Designated Day:
*Grocery Shopping
*Collect Trash and put Can of Curb

 
Monthly:
 (each "letter" below is to be combined with the Weekly chores for that day.
For example: Day A you Dust, Vacuum, & Mop AND do one of the Monthly listed chores with the "A" label below.  So either baseboards/Vacuum behind furniture and Hose vac the edges OR Wax Floors.)

 
     A. Baseboards/Vacuum behind furniture and Hose vacuum edges of floors.
     A. Wax Floors
     B. Windows/Mirrors/Window Sills
     B. Blinds and Drapes
     C. Straighten Closets/Pantries
     D. Rinse Trashcans
     D. Seasonal/Yearly (rotate through the List below)
     E. Refrigerator, Oven, Dishwasher
     F. Showers/Tubs
     F. Wash Cars

 
Seasonal/Yearly:
  • Clean Small and Large Appliances
  • Clean Carpets
  • Clean out Closets, Bedrooms
  • Scrub and Clean out Cupboard
  • Clean Drains
  • Update Food Storage
  • Update First Aid Kit
  • Update Emergency Kit

Spring Cleaning

I happen to LOVE spring cleaning, I like to do it more than just spring and I look forward to it.  It just feels so good to know it is deeply cleaned, fresh, and smelling good.  So here are a few tips to help in your spring cleaning efforts.

Overly basic but worth remembering:
-First: don't leave all your cleaning for one day. Split it up amongst the days, weeks and years. So that when you do get to your Spring Cleaning day, you can do the really deep hard stuff. Look at this Cleaning Schedule I posted here.
-Have a plan: List all the jobs you need to do, the order of which need to be done first, and make sure you have all the supplies.
-Carry a tote/bucket with commonly used supplies so you aren't running back to get forgotten items.
-Piles: I'm all about piles.  Instead of running back and forth all day, as you are working in one room or area make piles of the things that need to go upstairs, in the trash, or to their designated place.  Then when you are all done you can take care of the piles.


Kitchen:
-Microwave: Before cleaning the microwave, microwave a small glass of water for 2-4 minutes.  This softens any spills or splatters that have built up and hardened on the walls of the microwave...makes for much faster cleaning.
-Dishwasher, run your empty dishwasher with vinegar in place of detergent.  Followed by another cycle using lemon juice. This will clean your dishwasher, remove build up, and the lemon leaves a fresh scent. I also like to finish by wiping down the door and cleaning any cracks and crevices.
-Oven after cleaning your oven, line the bottom with an oven liner, or with foil.  This catches any drips and spills in future baking and can be easily removed to keep from burning and keeping your oven clean.
-Hard Water and Mineral Deposits:  Use a strong cleaner like CLR, or SHOWER POWER.  Spray them and let them soak on the area while you clean something else.  So that they have loosed when you go to clean them.
-Use a butter knife inside a washcloth to scrape and clean out the cracks and hard build up in places like you sink faucet.
-Don't forget the back splash and the walls...these often have splatters and drips on them!

Floors:
-Spoon: a spoon can easily scratch shoe scuffs off of the floor.
-Don't forget the baseboards...they get dirty! and are often forgotten.  After cleaning use a Magic Eraser or even better a little paint to touch up marks and scuffs that don't wipe off.

Clogged Drains or just Freshen Drains:
- Pour 1/2 c. baking soda & 1 c. vinegar down the drain through a funnel. The mixture will foam up considerably & unclog drain. When there's no more foam, flush drain with hot tap water. After 5 min,
flush drain again with cold water. It also deodorize drain.
-To speed up a slow drain, pour 1/2 c. salt followed by 2 c. boiling vinegar down drain. Flush with hot water, then cold water & drain will be much faster.

Washing Windows and Mirrors:
-Use newspaper instead of a rag or paper towel.  The newspaper doesn't leave streaks or dust & lint from the rag behind!

Toilets:
-The "ring" of minerals and water deposits that build up in a toilet can be removed using a pumice stone.
Showers and Tubs:
-As I have said before...Shower Power, it works like a charm!
-Also, use an old credit card to scrape the walls, it scratches build up and soap scum amazingly well!

Extras:
-Electrical switches:Wipe down light and electrical switches.  These are rarely cleaned but collect dirt from constant contact.
-Lights: Wipe down lights.  Again rarely cleaned, but they collect lots of dust and dead bugs.

Dryer Sheet Tip

So I've been enjoying this simple tip from a friend...After you unload your dryer take the used dryer sheet and use for a quick dusting job. 

-This not only helps keep your dusting to a minimum, but dryer sheets are also famous for keeping dust away...so it is better than dusting with a regular rag.

-And the dryer sheet has already been used so it is inexpensive and a way to reuse them!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hawaiian Ham Sandwiches

These are SIMPLE and absolutely heavenly.  I recently made them for a shower and have been craving them since. 


Ingredients:
1 can crushed pineapple (drained well)
1 8oz. cream cheese
Sliced Ham Lunch Meat
Mustard (I use regular but Dijon is good too)
Croissants or Rolls

Mix pineapple and cream cheese together with hand mixer or blender. Spread 1 spoonful on roll, with 1 slice of ham folded and some mustard. Supper easy and so worth it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lowering Your Grocery Bill with the help of Money Saving Mom

Money Saving Mom found here, is currently doing 31 days to a Better Budget.  In her posts she explains great ways to use a budget, meal planning (with easy downloads to use), couponing, stocking your supply, not over purchasing, and more to come...



I love this series because she explains things well and give lots of resources to use.  And although I did give a simple explanation of how I meal plan, grocery shop, and price match...hers is another great perspective and she explains things better than I ever could.  So go here to read all of the posts in the series!

Meal Planning download found here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lasagna Easy and Freezer Friendly

This was another Freezer Meal I made for my expecting Sister in Law. What makes it so easy? You don't cook the noodles, make the sauce or cook the “meat”, you just use Meat Sauce. And I will tell you Lasagna is one of my husbands all time favorite meals and he was very skeptical to hear I wasn't cooking the meat OR making the sauce. But when he ate it he loved it.

Scale of Difficulty or Time Commitment: 2 (because you spread each layer instead of dumping it all in the dish)




*Note: in this recipe I also took the ingredients below and split them into two 8x8 pans. Each makes 6 good sized servings. So if I were making them for just me I would have cooked one for dinner and frozen the other.


Ingredients:
1 package Lasagna Noodles (oven ready or regular)
2 Cans/Jars Spaghetti Sauce (At least one of the jars needs to be Meat Sauce)
2 16oz containers of Cottage Cheese
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese (The almost powdery kind that comes in a bottle)

Step 1: In 13x9 inch pan spread sauce to cover. Then place a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles.

Step 2: Spread another layer of sauce over the Lasagna Noodles, followed by a layer of cottage cheese (one container worth), Sprinkle generously with Mozzarella Cheese, followed by a layer of Parmesan Cheese.

Step 3: Add another layer of uncooked noodles then Repeat step 2.

Step 4: Add a third and final layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. Spread a generous layer of sauce over the noodles followed by both Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Step 5: Bake at 350 F, covered with foil for 1 hr. Remove foil and cook an additional 15 min.


*Tips:
When making to freeze, first line dish with plastic wrap. Once assembled freeze for 6+ hours. Then place dish in a sink of room temperature water, about 1-2 deep. Leave for 1 min. then easily remove the frozen lasagna from the dish and slide into a Gallon Freezer ZipLock Bag. Once in the bag, slide plastic wrap out. Remove as much air as possible and seal.


When baking, after having been frozen. Just cut open the bag and place the frozen lasagna into dish, let thaw before cooking or add roughly 15 extra minute to the cooking time.

*And yes, if you want to make your own sauce and meat then go ahead and just substitute them in!

Chicken Different Freezer Meal

This is one of my all time favorite recipies.  Because it is super easy, really good and freezes well.

So the other day I was making some frozen meals for my sister in law who is due to have her third boy any day and this was of course one of them.

Scale of Difficulty or Time Commitment: 1 Super Easy & Fast!

Recipe:
Chicken Different
2 c. uncooked regular rice
2 ¼ c. milk or water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup (or another cream of chicken)
Approx 6 chicken pieces*
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
Grated Cheddar Cheese

*For the Chicken Piece, bone-in are the most moist and give great flavor, but I had eating around a bone so I always use boneless skinless breasts, and anywhere between 1-2 lb of chicken. I also cut mine in half or in thirds just for serving size convenience.

For regular baking directions:
Sprinkle rice into bottom of a greased 9x13 dish. Mix soups with milk and pour over rice. Mix well. Place chicken pieces into soup, sprinkle with dry soup mix and cheese. Seal pan with foil. Bake 350’ for approx 2 hours until rice is done.
 
For crockpot directions:
Sprinkle rice into bottom of a greased crockpot. Mix soups with milk and pour over rice. Mix well. Place chicken pieces into soup, sprinkle with dry soup mix and cheese. Seal pan with foil. Cook on low for about 6-8  hours, until chicken is done rice is soft.
 
For Freezer Meal directions: (This is seen below in the pictures)
Line dish with plastic wrap and spray with Pam. Sprinkle rice into bottom of a greased 9x13 dish. Mix soups with milk and pour over rice. Mix well. Place chicken pieces into soup, sprinkle with dry soup mix and cheese. Seal pan with foil. Freeze 8+ hours. Then remove from freezer and place in a sink of 1-2 inch deep water (room temp).  Let sit for 1 min, then the frozen casserole easily removes from the dish.  Place into Gallon sized freezer ziplock and slide plastic wrap out of bag.  Seal with minimal air in bag and freeze.  When ready to bake, while frozen remove from bag, place in dish and Bake 350’ for approx 2 hours until rice is done.
 
Here they are ready to be frozen...(uncooked)
 
Frozen and in Ziplock Bag Labled with Directions
*Personal Tip*
Since my family is small, I ALWAYS split this recipe into two separate casserole dishes. One I cook for dinner that night and one I freezer for future use. One time work for two meals. I can easily get four good sized servings out of my "half" recipe.


Also, you can add in vegetables if you want, frozen mixed vegetables, broccoli, etc. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Cupcakes

Yesterday I was teaching the girls at my youth group to decorate cupcakes and even though the idea was so simple, I loved how they turned out...and so did my son.

Just a little frosting in the shape of an egg, add some grass, and decorations!

Tips:
1. I used freezer ziplocks and just cut a small hole for piping all of the frosting. 
(But freezer bags are the trick, just regular ziplocks can't take the pressure and the seams split)

2. When adding food coloring to "whipped" frosting from the store, be sure to gently stir it in or the frosting loses its consistency and becomes runny.  I usually just add a scoop or two of powdered sugar to thicken it back up.

Spring...

I love the Holidays and the Seasons, all of them... And I love decorating for each.  So here are a few simple and inexpensive ideas I thought I would share...

1. Apothecary Jars:

Filled with festive, yet inexpensive things.  I used marshmallows, blown and dyed eggs, and jelly beans with a touch of fake grass and some ribbon.

(I let my marshmallows dry out, so they didn't squish.  I also put a glass cup inside the jar so I didn't have to buy as many marshmallows.)

2. My Crate filled with Paper Mache Eggs
 Usually I like to line my crate with foil then lay a strip of sod in it.  The grass grows tall and looks amazing!  But since I am now in Arizona and it is super hot and dry and we have been out of town a lot this month, I opted this year for moss.

I made the eggs with paper mache'd balloons.  Here is the recipe I followed and I did use both the optional salt and cinnamon it suggested.  They were very easy, but I wish I used thinner paper so the strips would lie smoother...maybe next time. 
* I also happen to use this crate all year long, swapping out the seasonal decor.

3. Additional decorations:

-My Spring blocks with directions here.
-Some Spring Garland clearanced at Micheals
-And more Paper Mache Eggs with moss and grass!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring/Summer Blocks

I love these blocks!  They were supper simple and inexpensive to make.  Plus they are reversible saying "SPRING" on one side and "SUMMER" on the other, so it makes for less storage space...which I always like.

Spring:

Summer:

So here is how to make them.

Materials:
  6 blocks of wood in varying sizes*
       (3x 6in, 1x 7.5in, and 2x 8.5in)
  Sandpaper
  13 bottles of Acrylic paint* (6 spring colors, 6 summer colors, and white)
  Stenciled Lettering*
  Sponge Paint brushes
  Scissors & Tape


First a few notes:
  • I bought my wood at Home Depot and I got one 4x4 that was eight feet long for $7.00. Then I had them cut it for me to the specified dimensions. (They do this for free)
  • The paint, Micheal's had a new selection of paint: Craft Smart and each bottle was only 59cents! Cheapest I have ever found!
  • And for the lettering you could use stencils, draw them on, etc. But I found it easiest and cheapest to print them out on the computer in a font I liked. The dimensions of my letters were about 5.5 inches tall by 2-2.5 inches wide (depending on the letter). Then I cut out my letters creating a “stencil” to use.
  • I also did this with a group so we could split the costs...which helped a lot!
Prep:
I found it helpful to sand any rough/splintering parts of the wood, due to the saw's cutting.
I also chose my block order/arrangement and which sides I liked best for the “front” and “back's”

Now getting started.
1. I painted the block white.


2. Then I painted all of the “front” sides in the varying spring colors I chose, keeping a small white edge.


Then I painted all of the “back” sides in the varying summer colors the same way.

3. Stencil on lettering. I did this by taping my paper stencil down to the wood block, then “sponged” on the white with the sponge brush.


4. Once completely dry, I sanded it. I sanded all the edges, and lightly sanded quick strokes over the lettering to give them a slightly worn look.

And you're done!

linked to:

Left overs: Seasoned Chicken Salad and more

The other night I made Herb Seasoned Chicken . In my previous post about it (here) I explained how simple and easy it is, but I failed to mention the left overs can make some great meals as well. This is the one I had last night.
Seasoned Chicken Salad
Ingredients:
-Left over seasoned chicken (sliced)
-Lettuce
-Shredded Carrots
-Chopped Tomatoes
-Shredded Cheddar Cheese
-Dressing (I like it best with Ranch or House Italian)

Other simple ideas with the left overs:


Seasoned Chicken Cheese Quesedillas
-left over chicken (sliced)
-tortillas
-shredded cheese (try different kinds to mix it up- I like pepper jack)
-sliced bell peppers

Top with
-salsa
-sour cream & guacamole
-shredded lettuce and tomato
Cover half of tortilla with chicken, peppers, and cheese. Fold and heat on skillet (or in microwave).
Serve warm with toppings


Seasoned Chicken Wraps-

-large tortillas
-left over chicken (sliced)
-chopped lettuce
-chopped tomato
-shredded cheddar cheese
-dressing (I like it best with Ranch or House Italian)
Combine all ingredients inside tortilla, add dressing, and wrap up.


Seasoned Chicken Soft Tacos
-tortillas
-left over chicken (sliced)
-shredded lettuce
-chopped tomatoes
-shredded cheese
-sour cream

Warm Chicken, then layer all ingredients on tortilla. 
Add some rice and black beans and make it a meal!

Seasoned Chicken Alfredo
-left over chicken sliced
-1 jar of Alfredo sauce
-Parmesan Cheese
-Alfredo noodles (or any other favorites)

Heat sauce as directed on jar, boil noodles as directed on package.  Then top noodles with sauce and chicken.  Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and serve.
Add some French bread and you're good to go!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Favorite Air Freshener

My absolute favorite air freshener is: Pure Citrus Air Fresheners (in the Orange Scent).

I learned about this years back in a seminar on Organization and Reducing Stress.  They sprayed this and recommended it for relaxation.  And yes, it is relaxing, but it also smells amazing!  It's just like that smell when you peel and orange.  Which would make scents because it is made from highly concentrated citrus oils from fresh oranges or citrus fruit (depending on the scent you choose). 

It is 100% NATURAL, Non- Aerosol, No Chemicals, Eco-Friendly, and eliminates odors imediately and naturally.
The ingredients are: 100% oils found in fresh citrus fruit. (pretty impressive)




















It also doesn't stain or discolor fabrics, carpets, etc.
I used to buy it at Walmart, but recently went to get some more and my Walmart was out, so I found it here at CVS.com ($5.99) and here at drugstore.com ($4.99) , both are slightly higher priced than Walmart (I hope I remember right) at $3.50 ish.

Anyways, it is great smelling and I never worry about the chemicals in my house with kids, being pregnant, or just for overall health...and it helps that my husband loves it, so we use it regularly!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Snicker Poodles

My cute friend Angela, found this recipe for Snicker Doodles that you decorate as poodles, hence the Snicker Poodles.  They were really simple and turned out so cute!

I found the real recipe from TLC here.  The ingredients and directions are all there!


The recipe, if you can call it that...uses refridgerated cookie dough.  So you just mix it with a little vanilla and cinnimon then roll it in cinnimon and sugar.  So it was really fast. 


The trickiest part was the decorating, but after a trial cookie we got the hang of it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

So if you like chocolate and peanut butter, even a little...these are to die for!
I had been craving them, but not wanting to make a whole pan that I know I would end up eating... So when a bunch of girls came over for a craft night I jumped at the chance to make them.  And they were worth it!


 The recipe can be found here at Betty Crocker's website.  But I will explain it below.

Ingredients:
-Brownie Package
   (and ingredients called for on box: oil, water, eggs)

P.B. Layer:
-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
-1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp milk
Chocolate Topping:
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup butter

Baking Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 13 x 9 inch pan (I suggest greasing with butter wrappers discussed here).

2. In medium bowl mix brownies as directed, then pour into pan and bake as directed on package.  So that a toothpick inserted a few inches from the end comes out almost clean. Let cool, about an hour.

3. In medium bowl (I just used the well scrapped out brownie mix bowl) beat Peanut Butter Layer ingredients with electric mixer on medium, until smooth.  Spread evenly over brownies.

4. In microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate topping ingredients in microwave for 30-60 seconds on High.  Stir until smooth. Cool tem min. Then spread over peanut butter layer.

5. Refridgerate for 30 min.

Enjoy!!!

Greasing You Baking Dishes

I love this simple tip I got from a sweet friend...

When ever you use up a cube of butter save the butter's wrapper in a ziplock and freeze.  Then store in the freezer until you want to grease a pan or baking dish.  Just remove one wrapper from the bag and smear the butter side down into the pan.  Fast, simple, cheap, reusable...and a whole lot less of a mess!

I store all of my wrappers in the same ziplock and I even add 1/2 wrappers as I have them.  It works great!  No over spray from Pam, or greasy paper towels!

A simple trick for: Moisturized Skin

I got this trick from Kayla's amazing blog located here, and immediately tried it out.  After having a baby, I don't know about you, but I had several bottles of Baby Oil Gel around that have never been used.  So instead of throwing them away I put them to the test...and loved the results.


If you choose not to read about it on Kayla's blog, I will quickly explain how I use it. 

First of all, I am really bad with lotion.  Although I need it desperately in this dry climate, I forget to put it on and usually I am already dressed so I only get my hands. 
But instead, I keep the bottle in my shower and after I am all done, I quickly towel off. Then lather up with the Baby Oil Gel.  I use it all over.  Then I simply wrap myself in my towel and mosey around for a few minutes.  From brushing my hair, teeth, etc.  This just lets it absorb a bit before I put my clothes on.  (I take 2 or 3 min. tops!)

And no I have never had any "oil" residue or marks on clothing or furniture and it doesn't leave me feeling greasy. 

And I have found any brand works well, I am just using up whatever brands I have on hand.  And I find the GEL is important, regular baby oil leaves me feeling greasy!

Also, Kayla refers to using this while she was pregnant.  And although I am very recently classified in that group I tried this before being pregnant and found it worked wonders.  But for those of you who are pregnant or plan to be one day, this is a "safe" option and works wonders on crazy preggo skin!

Shower Power

Shower Power is this cleaning supply I discovered while in college and I have yet to find something more effective at cleaning showers, mineral deposits, and other hard to clean problems.

And it isn't just for Showers, it works on all kinds of hard surfaces, faucets, etc...and what I also love about it, it SMELLS good!

I love cleaners that smell good and clean!
So, try it...you won't be disappointed!

Applesauce!

Not only is it a sweet old fashioned treat...it also happens to be one of my favorite health substitutes I regularly use!

When baking cakes, muffins, breads (especially in mixes), etc.  I swap out the oil called for and replace it with the same amount applesauce!  It obviously is much less fat, adds some fruit, vitamins and health...and it is easy! 

*Note:  You can also use it in cookies, brownies, etc...BUT it does give them more of a cake consistency! When I am making it for my son or myself, I don't mind...but just to keep in mind!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

I happen to enjoy the tast of lemons, but lemon desserts tent to be "over the top" for me, and more than that I am not a fan of Maringue.  To me it is foamy and tasteless.  
But my Father-in-Law happens to love Lemon Meringue Pie.  So once, while making him a pie, I combined 2 different recipies (meringue from one and filling from another) because didn't have enough ingredients for one on its own.  Well, my Father-in-Law said he has never tasted a better Lemon Meringue Pie!  And both my husband and I who are not fans of Lemon Meringue Pie, actually enjoyed this recipe...So here it is to share!

Level of Difficulty 5 (Not because it is hard, just time consuming and lots of steps!)
Prep time: 45 min.
Bake time: 12-15 min.
Serves 12

Before you begin!!! This pie recipe has steps one right after another and is best if you prepare all of your ingredients before you begin. If nothing else, be sure the eggs have set at room temperature and separate whites from yolks, lightly beat yolks, grate 2 lemon peels, then use those two lemons to squeeze ¼ c. fresh lemon juice.

Crust
1 pie crust

First, my little tip is just use a refrigerated pie crust for this recipe. I find Lemon Meringue pie to have so much flavor that you don't even notice the crust. So, unless you want to do the extra work, just bake a refrigerated crust.

Be sure to liberally poke the crust with a fork. You don't want any big bubbles as it bakes. Also, I cover the edges with foil. Then bake as box directs. I like my edges to be a bit undercooked, because this crust will be baked again, once filled and I don't like the edges to get crispy or burnt!

Set aside.

Filling
3 egg yokes
1 ½ c sugar
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp cornstarch
dash of salt
1 ½ c water
2 tbsp butter
2 lemon peels finely shredded
¼ c fresh lemon juice
¼ c bottles lemon juice
In medium saucepan combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and dash of salt. Gradually stir in 1 ½ c water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Slightly beat egg yolks (done previously). Gradually stir 1 cup of the hot filling into the yolks.
Then add egg mixture into saucepan. Bring to gently boil. Reduce heat, cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon peel. Gently stir in lemon juice. Keep filling warm; prepare Meringue.

Meringue
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
½ c hot water
3 egg whites
6 tbsp sugar
Combine cornstarch and cold water in a saucepan.
Add hot water and cook until thick. Cool.
While cooling, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Add sugar and beat well.
Then add cornstarch mixture and beat until it stands in firm glossy peaks.
Pour filling into pie shell. Top filling with Meringue, by scooping on to pie. Then spread to ALL pie crust edges, seal well leaving no filling uncovered!
(Otherwise Meringue can shrink!)
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 min.


Tips for the Perfect Meringue!

1. Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating, to ensure great volume.
2. Make sure beaters are clean and use a large bowl.
3. Gradually add sugar once soft peeks form. (soft peeks = tips bend over slightly)
4. After adding sugar, beat until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. (rub a little between your fingers)
5. Underbeaten whites cause meringue to shrink.
6. ALWAYS spread the meringue so it touches the pie crust, don't leave any spot "unsealed" or the meringue will shrink!                     (thank you Shelly and Mandy, I completely forgot to add that important detail!)
7. To prevent beading (drops of moisture on meringue) avoid over baking the meringue.
8. To prevent weeping (watery layer between meringue and filling), spoon meringue onto piping hot filling to help the underside of meringue cook at the same rate as the top surface and don't underbake meringue.

Thanks to: Shabby Princess scrapbooking set: Vintage Florals Collection
And KevinandAmanda for Fonts!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hemming with the original Hem!

I got a pair of cute Lucky Jeans from my sister.  She lost some weight and passed them my way.  The only problem...she is taller than me, so I needed to hem them and I didn't want them to look like a "homemade" hem job.  So my mom suggested the idea below.  Come to find out this brilliant idea, had been around before my mom and here is another tutorial you might find helpful.

Now for the supplies and steps:

Materials Needed:
Your Jeans
Measuring Tape
Pins
Scissors
Iron
Sewing Machine (preferably with zipper foot, but not required)
Double sided Iron-on tape/adhesive (optional: see below)
Needle and thread (optional: see below)

Step One: Very IMPORTANT!! Wash jeans!

Step Two: Measure the height of the original hem.  Save this measurement for later. (Mine was 1/2 inch)

Put on the jeans with the shoes you'd wear them with.  Then fold the bottom hem up until you reach the desired length. Pin and measure this amount. (My cuff was 2 & 1/4 inches.)  This measurement is from the bottom of the fold up to the very end of the jeans, which includes the original hem. 
Then subtract the first measurement of your original hem.  (Mine is: 2 & 1/4 - 1/2 = 1 & 3/4).

So now I pin my jeans to this length, as shown in the picture below:

Step Three: Sew! This is best done with a "zipper foot" on your machine,  but I didn't have one and it worked just fine! If you have a zipper foot, place it as close to the original hem as possible and then stitch following around the leg. 
 Be sure NOT to sew over the original hem anywhere!
If you do not use a zipper foot, like me Do notice the placement of my sewing machine's foot. Seen above. It is on the original hem, so I had to be extra careful not to veer into it!

Step Four: Measure your excess cuff.  If it is 3/4 of an inch or shorter, go to step 5.
If it is longer than 3/4 inch you have a choice...you can cut the inner excess cuff off, or you can tack it under.

A. First, if you choose to cut, measure and do not cut shorter than 1/2 inch.  This allows for future fraying.
B. Tacking it: Place double sided iron-on adhesive between the excess cuff and the leg of the jeans.  Like you are "taping" it inside.  Then Iron as directed on its package.  After ironing tack cuff, with a few hand stitches, to each of the pant leg seems.  Both the inner and outer seem. Shown below:
Step Five: Finally, Iron the outside of the pant leg.  Smoothing and flatening out the seem! 
I hope these work as well for you as they did for me!  And let me know if you have questions.  Some of the directions can be confusing!  But it was really easy and took me half an hour (following option B: tack and ironing).

Craving Fix!

Let me start by saying I am not very self disciplined when it comes to cravings. I like food and sweets and I like to be able to enjoy them! So I figure if I eat rather healthy most of the time it will balance the unhealthy things I eat.

But, I recently found one thing that tastes amazing and will hit my craving spot easily! They are the Baskin Robins hard candies. They are 20 calories a piece, but they taste so much like the ice cream flavors they claim!

So when I have a sweet tooth I can suck on one of these and the taste lasts longer than if I ate the bowl of ice cream...and way less calories and fat!

My favorite flavor is the Mint Cookies and Cream, it is amazing! (this also takes care of my Mint Oreo Cookie cravings...which I have often!)


So just a suggestion! And I got mine at the Dollar Store, so they are cheap too!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Herb Seasoned Chicken

When it comes to cooking I am all about fast, easy, healthy...and of course tasty! 

This recipe has lots of flavor, from the Potato Herb seasoning packet and it always tastes great!
As I made it last night, I decided to time myself, and it honestly took me 11 minutes (minus the cooking time)!  I cut, rolled, and seasoned the chicken, scrubbed the potatoes, and washed and cut the broccoli...And that included an interruption from my 16 month old son throwing his ball right into the raw chicken!  Which I then had to frantically disinfect and clean up! So this is clearly a quick and easy meal!

But really, this is a super simple twist on baked chicken.  It doesn't require dipping the chicken in egg, which saves a lot of time and mess, and it still tastes great! 

I also made mine healthier by using WHOLE wheat flour, that was freshly ground. 
(No, it was not intended for this recipe, just left over from making bread.)

Since my family currently consists of my husband, my young son, and I...I plan all meals to feed 3-4.  This way we can all eat and I pack the remaining Serving for my husband's lunch the following day.  But, if your family is bigger, double or triple the recipe!  I figured it would be easier to double than cut down!






So try it and and tell me your thoughts or ideas!

...More easy, inexpensive, and delicious recipes to come!

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