cooking (25) crafts (10) Fitness (1) gardening (3) Home Organization (10) kids (68) school (9) sewing (28)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pork Chops with Dijon Herb Sauce

Oh. My. Goodness!!!!  These were delicious--I can't believe I have had two pork recipes in a row that I have actually enjoyed!!  The sauce calls for "herbs."  I happened to have parsley and chives in the garden, so that is what I used. 

I served them over a bed of buttered whole wheat egg noodles.  I just tossed the noodles with a tablespoon of butter, a splash of chicken broth, salt, pepper, and some left over diced asparagus. 

If you eat pork, I definitely recommend heading over to Skinny Taste and trying out this quick, easy, and delicious meal!

Lotion Bars

I recently saw a recipe for making my own lotion bars.  I thought they sounded like a really nice and fast gift.  I ordered all of my ingredients from amazon (surprise surprise).  All you need is beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil.   My only advice is to get the beeswax in small enough pieces.  I ordered small bars of beeswax (1 oz each) that I roughly chopped before melting.  Jillee used pellets, which melt much quicker. 

I already had these cute molds (I also have the flower mold) from making bird seed favors for my sister's bridal shower.

Beeswax $6.80
Shea Butter $3.00
Coconut Oil $1.90  (Subscribe and Save price)

Total: 11.70 for 6 bars ($1.95 a bar)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Audrey's New Swimsuit!

I can't tell you how easy this swimsuit was to put together!!!  I have been looking at many tutorials for swimsuits, but this one seemed to make the most sense to me.  That particular post is just the directions to assemble the suit.  She also did a blog on how to create your own pattern; which is what I did.  I just took Audrey's swim suit from last year and added 2 inches to the middle so that her new suit would be 2 inches longer than last year's suit.  She is so skinny that I didn't need to add to the width.

The bathing suit probably only took me about an hour to complete and I love the final product!

Meal Recap


Yesterday, we had Greek Turkey Meatballs and a Greek Tomato Salad.  I also made the Skinny tzatziki.  I followed her recipe to a T and it was delicious.  The tzatziki has to sit for a while so I recommend making this in the morning or even a day ahead.  I didn't have to strain my yogurt out since I used my home made yogurt that I had already strained to "yogurt cheese" consistency.
The salad was the best part of the meal.  I used Creole Tomatoes from my garden, cucumbers from my garden, olives, and feta cheese.  Then I tossed it lightly with salt, pepper, and Wishbone Greek Vinaigrette  dressing.

Everyone enjoyed this meal.  Audrey really loved dipping the meatballs in the tzatziki.

Tonight we had Bangin Good Shrimp.  This recipe, I did change up quite a bit, as the original sounded a little bland.  This meal is so quick and easy!  Just put greens on your plate (I had romaine and green cabbage). Lightly drizzle the greens with Newman's Own Lowfat Sesame Ginger dressing. In a medium sized bowl, put 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp seasoned salt, 1 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tsp minced onion, and fresh ground pepper.  (I don't actually measure my spices, so those are all guesstimates.)  Toss 1 lb of peeled/ deveined shrimp in the cornstarch.  Heat 1 tsp canola oil in a fry pan.  When the pan is hot, toss the shrimp in and cook until the shrimp are pink (about 3 -5 minutes).  Keep your pan hot to get a good sear!  Put the shrimp on top of greens and top with scallions.  (I forgot them)

This was delicious!  Everyone except Audrey liked it.  She kept telling me it was too hot.  I think it was a little spicy for her.  The dressing has a little kick to it and the cayenne on the shrimp might have been a bit much.

Sugar Free Strawberry Preserves

 Somehow this week really got away from me.  I have had all this pictures in my camera but I haven't uploaded them.  

On Monday, I took the kids to pick strawberries.  (Which, by the way, wasn't cheaper than buying them in the store, but they are delicious and we had a lot of fun.)  I came home with a flat of strawberries and decided to make preserves.  But I didn't want any sugar in them.  I couldn't find a recipe online for truly sugar-free jelly/jam/preserves so I just did my own thing.

Step 1: Wash and hull your berries.  I used a straw to hull.  Just push the straw through the berry from the bottom to the top.  All of the leaves should come right off.

Step 2: Mash the strawberries so that you have roughly 4 cups.  I left mine with big chunks because I like it that way.  If you wanted it smooth, I guess you could use your blender or food processor.
  Step 3: Put the strawberries in a saucepan, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer.  Add honey to taste and 1 packet of unflavored gelatin.

Step 4: Put the strawberries into a sterilized canning jar, put the lid on and immediately turn it upside down for 5 min.  Flip it right side up and cool completely.  The top is sealed if the center is sucked down (you can't push it up and down).

Enjoy!!  Since I didn't use pectin, it didn't really gel up.  I don't know if it would gel better if I used 2 packets of gelatin.  My next batch, I will cave and use pectin.

Mmmmm, homemade strawberry preserves on top of homemade yogurt!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What is on the menu this week?

It is late and I am tired.  Maybe I will come back tomorrow and fix this.  We'll see. 
This week I included a traditional German meal for my German husband: rouladen.  Rouladen is basically a little beef roll-up.  It is a very thin piece of top round with onions, pickles, and bacon rolled inside.  The rolls are cooked in a sauce of carrots, onions, and tomatoes.  I will post a recipe for it later.
I will also be making cheese ravioli in a mushroom ragout.  This is a crockpot meal and it is vegetarian.
As for my healthy meals, I will be making Greek Turkey Meatballs, served with a greek salad (hopefully I will have enough garden tomatoes for it), Chicken Piccata, served with rice and steamed broccoli, and Bangin Good Shrimp, served with rice.

We are off to pick strawberries tomorrow!  So hopefully I will have some cute pictures and lots of yummy strawberries.  I am hoping to make strawberry preserves.

Why I Blog. . .

Just some quick thoughts to share with all of my friends and family.  I really enjoy taking care of myself and my family, and I want you all to be able to do the same.  So often, we get caught up in life and think that it is just easier to rely on convenience items. With a little research and a little time, though, you can make products at home that are cheaper, healthier, and better for the environment!  Most people don't have time for step 1 (research), so they don't go any further.  I have taken the time to do the research and share my results with you.  I am so thankful that my dear husband works so hard and I am able to stay home and really take care of my family.

Some topics that I write about on my blog:
1. Home Organization.  I have all sorts of systems that streamline my day and help our household run smoother, including cleaning, bills, meal planning, and general organization.
2. Cooking.  I love love love comfort food (especially The Pioneer Woman!), but I am not a rancher, so I should not eat such calorie dense foods every day.  I am constantly searching for healthy foods that taste good to mix in with my not-so-healthy foods.  When I blog about food, I like to tell you if I made any modifications and what my family members thought of the meal.
3.  Sewing.  I also love to create.  You name the craft, I have probably done it.  Right now, I am loving my sewing machines.  I am still becoming comfortable with creating my own patterns, so most of my creations are inspired by other bloggers.  If it was my creation, I will attempt to create a tutorial.  If I "borrowed" the idea, I will link to the original blogger's post.
4. My kids.  Since we live so far away from family, I also like to include pictures of my kids and stories about the crazy things that they do.

I am no one special.  I don't have any special talents. But I am passionate.  I set my mind on doing something and I do it.  I hope that I will inspire other people to try to do something new.  If you have any questions, please ask!  As an educator, I want to teach others.  If there is something you want to learn how to do, find the time to dedicate to it, and have fun learning new skills!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

This recipe for Spinach Lasagna Rolls was quick and easy to make.  We all really enjoyed it except Jack because he doesn't like ricotta cheese.  I knew he wouldn't like it so I made him a side of plain pasta with sauce. 

When I make a traditional lasagna, I do not precook the noodles.  I just make my sauce a little runny (usually add 1 can of water).  The lasagna noodles will cook when the lasagna is covered with foil, and they will be delicious bc they really absorb the sauce. 

These rolls are not submerged in sauce when they cooked so I had to precook them.  All I did was put the noodles in the lasagna dish, cover them with boiling water, and cover the dish with plastic wrap.  They cooked while I mixed the spinach filling.

As for servings, one roll is a serving.  I thought I would eat 2 rolls, but I was quite satisfied after just one roll.  You could serve the lasagna with a salad and easily eat the 1 roll serving.  I thought Bryan would eat 3 rolls, but he was satisfied with 2.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Home Made Greek Yogurt


I have always been curious about making yogurt.  I used to make "yogurt cheese" which I would spread on toast or use as a substitute for sour cream.  Making yogurt cheese is super easy.  All you do is buy a container of plain 'ol yogurt, line a colander with cheese cloth, or a tea towel, or a coffee filter, put the colander over a bowl, dump the yogurt into the colander, put plastic wrap on top, and put it in the fridge overnight.  The longer you leave it, the thicker it will get.  Leave it for just a couple hours and you get greek yogurt.  Leave it 8+ hours and get cheese.

Recently, I found a recipe for "crock pot yogurt."  All you need to make yogurt is milk (ANY kind of milk), and a small amount of yogurt.  My neighbor gets commodities, so she gave me a TON of powdered milk.  So that is what I used to make this yogurt.  So this batch of yogurt cost me 48 cents!!!  And it made a large container of greek style yogurt, plus I left some in the colander draining to make yogurt cheese.

Now, when you strain yogurt, you get a lot of whey.  I used to just throw that away, but I found a recipe for lacto-fermented mayonaise that I am going to make with some of the whey and I will use the rest of the whey to make my own ricotta cheese.  How cool is that??? I also read that you could put it in your garden to fertilize your plants.  Anyway, I am getting a lot of product out of 48 cents.

As for taste. . . I like the yogurt mixed with some honey and maybe a splash of vanilla.  But the kids like things a little sweeter.  This yogurt is mixed with Blackberry All-Fruit Preserves.  Audrey kept asking for more :o)

Salmon Cakes and Roasted Cauliflower

This recipe for Salmon Cakes was pretty good.  I will add more seasonings the next time I make it, but if I alternated bites with the vegetables, it was pretty tasty. 

Also, this recipe took a bit of time to make, but I learned a neat way to cook the salmon.  I used my large spaghetti pot with the steamer basket in the top.  I put water in the pot and cooked my potatoes in the water, and placed the salmon into the steamer basket.  If you don't want to go through the fuss of cooking your own salmon, you can always use canned salmon.  The potato was mashed and used as the binder in the crab cakes.  You could always substitute bread crumbs or panko.  Oh, and when I worked them into paties, they were really went (because these are almost all salmon, hardly any filler), but as you can see from my final product, they held together fine in the pan.

This recipe made 4 very large salmon cakes, plus one small bonus cake. 

The roasted cauliflower was easy and delicious!  You just have to remember that it takes nearly 30 minutes to bake, so take that into account when you make it.  It was sweet and kind of nutty.  We didn't even put the cheese on top.  Everyone loved the meal except Jack.  Oh, and when I cut up my head of cauliflower, I noticed that it was kind of small, so I sauteed up some spinach with evoo and garlic to supplement the cauliflower.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Turkey, White Bean, & Pumpkin Chili

This evening's healthy meal was a Turkey, White Bean, & Pumpkin Chili.  It was super easy to make, and I used the crock pot so it didn't heat up the house.  The pumpkin gave it a creamy texture, and a slight nutty flavor, although Bryan said he wouldn't have know there was pumpkin in it if I hadn't told him.  It was quite different from a tradition chili, but I think it makes a great summer chili. The only modification that I made to the recipe was using Tabasco chipolte instead of cumin.  We just really like the flavor of the chipolte.  Everyone devoured it, there is actually just enough left over for Bryan to take for lunch tomorrow!

As for the nutrition, it is based on 1 cup of chili.  I think the only person who had 1 cup was Ayden.  Jack and I ate roughly a cup and a half.  Bryan ate closer to 2 1/2 cups.  (Oh, and Audrey probably ate a heaping cup.)  Even at those larger servings, this is still a pretty good calorie/fat-wise meal.  182.6 calories per cup and 2.3 grams of fat per cup.  Anyone interested in the math: that would be 273 calories and 3.4 grams of fat for me and Jack, and 456.5 calories and 5.75 grams of fat for Bryan.  The only other thing we ate with it was a piece of rye bread lightly dipped in EVOO and fresh herbs.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I am so stinkin excited!  I flipped the casserole dish over so you could see how clean it is.  I cooked baked oatmeal in it this am and put it in the dishwasher with all the crud still stuck to it!
Making homemade cleaning products is really addicting.  It is fun to see how clean you can get stuff with a few simple, nontoxic products.  Best of all, I feel like a real supermom, by saving sooo much money!

I have been using my homemade laundry detergent for quite a while now and still have a little over half a gallon left.  Since I made the laundry detergent, I already had almost all of the ingredients for the dishwasher detergent.

I found the recipe for dishwasher detergent at One Good Thing by Jillee.  If you haven't checked her blog out yet, you might want to find a couple good hours to read through her awesome ideas.  Feel free to click on the link above to read all of her great background info on the detergent.  I am just going to give you a quick recipe for it here.

1 cup of Washing Soda (or baking soda)  If you made the laundry detergent, you already have this!
1 cup of Borax Once again, used in the laundry detergent
1/2 cup of Kosher Salt
1/2 cup of citric acid or Fruit Fresh  Fruit Fresh is used in canning, so you can usually find it in the baking aisle or the area of your store where you will find canning jars

Mix all of the ingredients together.  I put mine in a gallon ziplock bag.

When you are ready to wash your dishes:
Put 1-2 TBS of the powder AND 2-3 drops of liquid dish soap (like Dawn or whatever you have on hand) into the detergent well.
Dump 1/2 cup-1cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher (Or you could fill the little jet dry compartment with vinegar.)

Wash! And enjoy living the homemade/frugal life with me!

I used 2 TBS of powder, 2 drops of liquid soap, and 1/2 cup of vinegar. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Healthy meal review: Pork Chops and Salad

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots 
 This is the one meal that I really wasn't looking forward to.  But it was fabulous for 2 reasons.  1--Bryan cooked!  2--It was delicious (this coming from a non-pork lover).  The key to this recipe, I think was the delicate mushroom/shallot sauce. Mmmmmmm delicious!!!  Jack has never liked mushrooms, but we somehow got him to take a bite of one of these and now he is hooked!  Guess I am going to have to double the portions of sauteed mushrooms now.

I was going to serve the pork chops with the roasted cauliflower but since Bryan cooked, he didn't realize that the cauliflower would take longer to cook and he didn't start it early.  Sooo, I served it with salad.  I used some romaine lettuce from the fridge, fresh salad greens from the garden, carrots from the garden, and fresh herbs from the garden.  I was really sad that I didn't have a couple more ripe tomatoes.

If you like pork, I definitely recommend this recipe. One pork chop has only 180 calories and 9.5 grams of fat.  I am used to eating the thin pork chops, so I could only eat half of one of these.  If you don't eat pork, I recommend just making the shallots and mushrooms since that was my favorite part anyway. :o)
Not sure what was up with the settings on my phone's camera, wouldn't it be nice to have a DSLR???

Garden update

Yesterday, we started eating out of the garden.  It wasn't much, but we ate!!!  These are my bean plants.  We harvested 2 beans yesterday :o)

As you can see, the cucumber plant is filled with flowers.  We have a couple cucumbers growing already.
Cherry tomatoes.  Bryan and I each ate a tomato.  They were warm, sweet, and oh so juicy.  I can't wait for more to rippen!

Jack was so excited to eat a carrot. 

Audrey lucked out with a pretty large carrot.  Aren't they beautiful?

Creole tomato is turning orange.  That is going to make a yummy blt (at least that is what Jack is looking forward to).  We should be able to use that lettuce in the lower garden.  The mound of dirt is the potatoes.  And that huge bush of marigolds grew from three tiny seeds.  God is amazing isn't He?

Audrey enjoying her carrot.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Healthy Recipes to Try This Week

In an effort to make some more healthy recipes, I am going to try some recipes from Skinny Taste.  The first one that caught my eye was the spinach lasagna rolls.  I love lasagna in any form and these look delish!  Too bad Jack hates lasagna (he doesn't like cheese), I will have to find some alternative for him.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Next, I found a pork chop recipe.  I, personally, don't really care for pork, but Bryan loves it.  This one has mushrooms, which I love, so I will tolerate the meal. I will also serve it with the roasted cauliflower as suggested on the page.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots

This next one has me really intrigued!  Turkey Pumpkin Chili!!  We all love chili, and I love meals that use my crock pot when the weather heats up here in southern Louisiana.

Crock Pot Turkey White Bean and Pumpkin Chili

I am also going to try some of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Recipes.  Since it is hot here, I like to utilize the grill outside as much as possible.  I am going to get Bryan going on his grill with Jamie's Grilled Chicken.  I think it will go great with a salad.  I have lettuce in my garden that needs to be harvested.  Too bad my tomatoes are still green and my broccoli and carrots aren't ready to be harvested yet :-(

Jamie Oliver's Barbecued Chicken

And meal #5 for the week will be Jamie's Salmon Cakes served with steamed broccoli. 

Jamie Oliver's Salmon Cakes

That about covers all of MY bases. Those are pretty healthy meals for my family: 1 pasta, 1 turkey, 1 pork, 1 chicken, and 1 seafood.  I know that this menu wouldn't work for all of my vegetarian friends, but for us omnivores, I think this is pretty balanced. . . and there isn't any red meat this week. 

By the way, even though we eat meat, I try to incorporate 1 meatless meal a week.  If you have any really yummy vegetarian meals that you think my meat loving husband would like, please share!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Audrey's Easter Dress

I saw this adorable dress on Shwin and Shwin's blog and loved it so much that I wanted to make one for Audrey.  I made some modifications, so now it is definitely a "Krohn Kreation!" 

I have been dying to try piping in a project, so I made a scoop neckline and put piping in the front and back of the neckline.

Also, so many of these little girl dresses use buttons.  Buttons and Audrey don't exactly mix because she doesn't hold still for long so I needed to make the dressing process quicker, so I put a zipper in instead of buttons.
Lastly, Shwin and Shwin only put the ribbon on the front of the dress.  I like the wrap around look, but as you can see, I had some issues getting the ribbon to lay flat in the back.

I followed the Cottage Mama's template and steps for the top, which I love because all of the seams are fully encased.  The dress looks very high quality.  And since the dress is made from seersucker (which is pretty thin), I also lined the skirt.