Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Re-using and Reducing Waste - Tips 1

I am on a mission to make my house as green as I can, not only for the earth, but for our health and budget as well.
Reducing waste is a big task on that mission, so I thought I would share some of my tips here, and see if anyone has some more they would like to add.

- I have 2 bags in my freezer: A stock bag and a soup bag. When chopping veggies, instead of throwing scraps in the trash or sink, they go in the bag and I use them to make stock. Everything from the ends of onions and bell peppers, to potato and carrot peels. Same goes for the stems of stripped herbs. The soup bag holds leftover bits of meat, pasta, rice, veggies, etc. that go uneaten from leftover dinners or lunch that wouldn't make enough for a leftover meal.

- Using reusable shopping bags creates a nice lack of plastic shopping bags, but with a cat box and cat litter to clean, we have a need to be a bit creative. Bread bags, tortilla bags, and the like, when empty, make nice little cat/dog clean up bags.

- Still on a journey to cut out paper towels in the house, I have found a number of nice options.
Skoy Sponge Cloths (http://www.reusablebags.com/store/skoy-paper-towel-replacement-colors-p-1903.html) come in packs of 4 for $6.95, are non-toxic, and dry quickly to inhibit the growth of bacteria. They are machine washable, but also can be cleaned in the dishwasher and even in the microwave. There are also cloths and sponges at the Dollar Tree, which are quite cheaper, but I do call their manufacture and chemical content into question.

- I am not a gardener, thus we really don't have any plants to water, but a long time ago I got this tip, and it can be taken to stretch anywhere if you have the need. Keep a bucket in your shower for catching the shower spray. Put it in a place where it will catch the spray, but not get any soap in it. Use the collected water to water plants. Using some thinking, it could also be used for rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, for rinsing down the sidewalk.... there must be many possibilities that I am missing.

More to come.... but until then.. any things you yourself have put into practice?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pea and Rice Salad

Got much praise from everyone. Jeremy approved, Sebastian said it was better than dessert, even Elisha and Locke took some big mouth-fulls.
Definitely something to make again!

6 oz long grain and wild rice mix
1 bunch collard greens
1/2 cup spring onions, sliced
4-5 tbs italian dressing
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 - 1 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, strung
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Wash collards, strip leaves from midrib, stack leaves and roll into a large "cigar". Cut into thin ribbons with sharp knife. Prepare rice mix as directed. When rice is tender, stir in collards, cover and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into salad bowl and add remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 2-24 hours.
Note: I served warm as dinner was running a tad late, and it tasted fabulous warm. Cannot wait to taste the leftovers tomorrow!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bruschetta Steaks and Barley Casserole

Picked up some cheap, thin steak cuts at the grocery store. Trying to eat on a budget, finding ways to cook up cheap cuts of meat is a challenge I face happily. (Please excuse the kids' christmas plate, dishes in the dishwasher)

Bruschetta Minute Steaks (adapted from Kraft Kitchens)
1 Tbsp. oil
6 thin boneless beef steaks (1/4 to 1/2-inch thick, 1-1/2 lb.)
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained well
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian Dressing
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken, prepared as directed on package
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese(or any other shredded cheese on hand, I used Costco's cheddar/jack blend)

Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook 1 min. on each side or until lightly browned on both sides. Meanwhile, mix tomatoes, peppers and dressing; spoon over steaks. Top with prepared stuffing; sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Simmer 3 to 5 min. or until cheese is melted and steak is cooked to medium doneness.

Served with a delicious Barley Casserole found on epicurious.

1/2 pound mushrooms
4-5 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped very fine
1 cup pearl barley
Salt, pepper
2-3 cups beef or chicken broth

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not-so-good-for-you Macaroni and Cheese (courtesy of Paula Deen)

Can she make anything that is actually good for you? Probably not.... but she does make some darn good comfort foods.

This is the kids favorite Mac-n-Cheese recipe (we have multiple recipes we make at different times, a motherhood standard). Hers is made in the slow cooker, I adapted to bake it in the oven.

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn't quite 2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stuck) butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cook the macaroni to al dente. Drain, mix in the rest, reserving a handful of cheese for the top. Pour into casserole dish, top with reserved cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 min.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Family Gadgets: The Safety Turtle

Being a mommy, I am always looking for something to make my life a little easier, or simply interested in what gadgets are created for family fun, convenience, and safety. While flipping through my One Step Ahead cataloug, I came across this interesting little gadget that fascinated me.

The Safety Turtle. Place the band around your child's wrist and plug in the base alarm station(the large speaker). If your child happens to fall in the water, when the band is submerged, it sounds a loud alarm through the speaker, working within a range of 100 feet, so you are alerted and can quickly respond.
What a neat device. We had a couple scares with Elisha enthusiastically jumping into the pool at my mother's, which scared the life out of me (you would be amazed how silently little ones can slip into water without you realizing it), and I could see this thing coming in handy for people who have a pool or live near a lake. It would certainly put a anxiety-ridden heart like mine a little more at ease. Upping the response time of getting to your child's aid when you are not glued to their hand or are engaged in a bit of conversation poolside, seems like a good thing to me.
Though at $199.95 for the speaker and one wrist band and $79.95 for each additional wrist band, it would not be worth it to us, since we are pool-less at our own house. But if we did have a pool, with 3 energetic little boys that can get into trouble faster than you can blink, I would perhaps consider choking down the price of a little extra peace of mind and heart.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bakin: Words of wisdom, pt 1

"Jesus died for us so that we could have a heart."

Saturday, January 23, 2010


So, I haven't blogged.... in a loooooooooooong time. My sister won't leave me alone about it.... sorry, I am a bit strapped for time, LoL!

Anyway, I will try and blog a bit more, Ok?

Here is a yummy recipe for Lasagna that I slaved away at today. It came out quite well and the family was pleased:

1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 pound of ground beef
1/2 cup of chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans of tomato sauce
2 (6 ounce) cans of tomato paste
1/2 Cup of Water
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons fresh Basil leaves chopped
4 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
23 ounces of ricotta cheese.
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 egg
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 lasagna noodles

Brown the ground beef, Italian sausage, onions and garlic in a large pot. Drain fat. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water. Add sugar, basil, parsley, salt, italian seasoning, and pepper. Stir, cover pot, and simmer 1 1/2 hour.
Soak noodles in hot water for 15 minutes.
Mix Ricotta, nutmeg, and egg until combined.
Build lasagna in 9×13 inch baking pan.
Spread 2 cups sauce on the bottom of the pan. Lay 6 noodles on top of sauce. Spread 1/2 ricotta mix onto noodles. Sprinkle on half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Spread 2 cups sauce over cheese layers. Lay 6 more noodles. Spread remaining ricotta mix. Sprinkle remaining cheeses, reserving some for top. Put last layer of sauce on top and then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Cover with foil.
Bake at 350F for 25 min. Remove foil, bake an additional 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest 15 min.