Monday, July 15, 2013

A base for many dishes

As I was standing in the kitchen making dinner, I realized how I could turn my go to base into many different dishes. The base is meat, onion, garlic, tomatoes and tomato sauce. It is my go to dinner when I am in a pinch or wanting some homemade goodness. So simple and easy and the leftovers can be made into other dishes to keep kids interested.
1 pound of ground meat (beef, venison or whatever you like)
Diced onion (you pick the amount)
Chopped garlic (again you decide how much)
1 can or jar of diced tomatoes (drain if you want)
2 cans or jars of tomato sauce

Simple huh? From here I can add elbow noodles for goulash, Italian spices for spaghetti, or turn it into chili with beans, cumin, and chili powder. Tonight I will serve it with corn on the side, if there are enough leftovers, it will all go in one pan and become chili mac tomorrow. You could even make leftover sauce into meat loaf. I am sure I could go on and on about different dishes to make from it. What is a favorite base your family loves to eat?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Brownie Pudding

This recipe is out of a recipe book my Mom put together when she was in school. I found this recipe next to the squash relish and let me say that they are both awesome! It is super easy to put together and very easy to eat, lol.
Brownie Pudding:
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp salad oil or melted shortening (I used coconut oil)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 to 1 cup chopped walnuts (I used half pecans and half chocolate chips, because that is what I had, it rocked)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coca powder
1 3/4 cup hot water
Sift together first 5 ingredients. Add milk, oil, and vanilla, mix until smooth. (its kinda thick) Stir in walnuts. Pour into greased 8 x 8 x 2 pan. Mix together brown sugar and cocoa, sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over entire batter. Bake in oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve warm. It ends up having a layer of brownie on top and pudding underneath it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

You make your own what?

 When it comes to being self sufficient and economical, making your own things for the household tops the list of things to do. Weather its making peanut butter or laundry soap. Nearly, if not all things for your home can be made instead of bought, given you have enough land and everything needed to support it. When I started to realize that bad chemicals were in the things my children used I wanted to get stuff without chemicals. When I realized the price of said things, I decided I could make it myself. When I started making things myself I realized I cant make it all and some things are better left bought from the store. Now this doesn't apply to everyone, but when you have 5 boys and work your time is short when you get home. I try to add new things to make and I try to keep somethings around that we like better homemade. Some things are cheaper to make, but cheaper isn't always better. I keep in mind the price to make versus the price to buy and somewhere in the middle I ask if we actually like it better homemade.
  To start making my own stuff I picked something simple, laundry detergent. My boys and I have sensitive skin and can only use certain kinds of detergent. They are also dirt loving children. When I made my own detergent it worked for a bit, then clothes didn't come clean. Then I got married to a mechanic and his clothes really didn't come clean. So the best choice for us at the moment is store bought detergent. I have found out over the years that we love homemade bread. I try my best to make it, but I cant always find the time. I have even tried the bread in 5 minutes a day thing. While I liked the prepared dough in the fridge, we didn't like the taste that happened when the dough was there a few days. So I make bread when I can and we eat it like we have never seen bread before.
 I suggest when the feeling strikes to start making something homemade that you research it. I look all over for recipes and comments of how it has worked for others. When I finally decide to commit to a recipe I check and see if its cheaper than buying said product at the store. If it is or relatively close I make it and see if the family likes it. Somethings are not well accepted and some only a few like. One of the biggest obstacles we have faced is peanut butter. The biggest peanut butter fans did not like the texture of homemade. When I make it I just use a food processor and no extra oil, so its a little gritty. My husband and I love it, but the boys have taken a little longer to convince. By using it in recipes more and more they have come around to the idea.
 You also have to realize when making your own that some things will be a bitter failure, but don't get discouraged with it. I have made stuff that the boys and husband have raved about how wonderful it is, only to find it not eaten later. Granola bars top this list, we all loved how they tasted, but no one wanted to eat them after the first try. Its a trial and error kind of thing. Finding what you like to make, have time for, and what you actually like. Some things we stick to now that are completely homemade, Ill never buy again if I can help it are:
Peanut butter
Syrup- I use Mapleine, the directions on the box make wonderful syrup.
Chocolate Cake
Jelly and Jam
Counter Cleaner/Fresh spray-Vinegar/Water with Peppermint oil
Some things we love homemade, but I cant always make are:
Vegetables from the garden- Hey its homemade, but I can only grow so much at our house
Cinnamon Rolls
Venison-Since we hunt I can consider this brought in homemade.
Spices- I only have so much room for herbs, so my store runs out fast. I dehydrate them to save them.
Things I want to try or I am learning to do:
Sewing Clothes/dish towels and such
Make Marshmallows
Make Herbal Medicines
Make Vanilla Extract
Things I will never, ever make again:
Laundry Detergent
This is just a small list, I am sure I could add more if I sat for days trying to remember everything. I hope you get an idea from this. If you have never even thought of making things homemade now is a good time to start. My favorite place to look is my facebook newsfeed, I also like pinterest. What items do you like to make homemade and what items will you never make again?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Anger Issues and Gluten Free

What in the world could Hashimoto's Thyroiditits and anger issues have to do with going gluten free? Well, a lot of articles suggest that both problems can stem from issues with your gut. Gluten is the most widely stated allergen that I have found to cause problems. We are starting our journey with a one month trial for two of our 5 boys. I have been very careful to mention to our other boys and the two affected that this is not a diet, a diet would only expect one to loose weight and the other is so thin he surely will never need to go on a diet.

 Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
  He is 13 and has been diagnosed with Hashimoto's, he has had a hard time dealing with this. Mostly because the NP and her nurses keep saying that this usually only affects girls. Yeah, I don't like them saying this either. Did I also mention that the NP blew me off when I mentioned getting him tested for gluten sensitivity? She also said I needed to quit reading things on the internet, and I am on the path of finding him a new Dr. He has been on thyroid medicine for a few years and when he came to live with us this summer I put it at the top of my list. I wanted to know if he could control it with his diet. We have changed a lot about the way we eat, less processed, more homemade and we have been not eating out at all this month. The more I research and dig into the matter the more I find that gluten free has helped many people with thyroid problems. Here is some explaining of the gluten-leaky gut-thyroid link, please excuse some of the language at the top of the page, they have good info here. Ill post some more links at the bottom of the page for you to look at.

Angry Boy
 Our other son to be on the gluten free train is 9, he doesn't want to do homework, he lies a bunch and he picks his nose, normal right? Except that he has anger problems, like hits and leaves marks on brothers, doesn't know when to quit problems. He also has problems concentrating, he cant sit still for very long and has a constant runny nose. All of the last point to gluten problem to me. Here are some issues related to gluten sensitivity, and here are some more. I have been in denial for a while that my boy had a form of ADD or ADHD, I have been asked about it from one of his first teachers. She wanted to know if he had been tested, I immediately said no and he would not be on any medicine. I rationed out candy and food dyes for a long time and have seen a difference. They aren't as hyper when they don't have kool aid or the newest candy. When they do have that stuff they run around like banshees.

Gluten Be Gone!
 To make the change to gluten free even for one month is a challenge. We have 7 people to feed and I go to work, that doesn't leave much time for packing lunches and planning meals. So I am going to have to really stay on top of it. I am also going to let the rest of the kids eat school lunches and save myself time and money to only make two lunches everyday. At the end of the month I am not really sure what to expect, maybe for one is a boy who isn't as aggressive and for the other, I don't know. Hopefully I will be able to see a big difference in both of them. If not, we will go on to the next big allergen, and I have been contemplating the AIP or GAPS diet.  Have you ever done the gluten free thing? If so what were your results?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Years Resolution

This year my husband and I have decided that we will have two resolutions one will be to workout, like we used to do before the newest addition to the family. The other is to not eat fast food for the entire month of January.  This may not seem like a stretch for some people to do, but we will have to work harder to make sure this happens.  When you break down the cost associated with us eating out for two at lunch during the week while we are at work, we spend an average of $20 a day. Yeap a $100 a week, some weeks I'm sure are less and some are more depending on where we eat. The hard part with this is that we work in a mechanic shop. We do have a small fridge there and can bring a crock pot to keep food hot in. There is also a microwave available to us, although I do not like to use them. We also average eating out with the family at least once a week for dinner, which can add up to $60 bucks if we are not careful, sometimes we can get away with $30. We also have a breakfast we sometimes splurge for, which ends up around $15 to $20 bucks every week or every other week. Pretty sad huh? So in just one week we could spend almost $200 in eating out. We want to stop this, and we are going to. I am very determined to make sure and have a few things on hand for eating and quick meals. Like bread, canned beans or stew, trail mix and peanut butter. All of which I will make or can. I am going to start making breads on the weekend and trail mix. I can usually make enough peanut butter to last a good week or so pretty fast, so I can make that whenever. I will also try and keep everyone updated so that we can share recipes and let you know how this is going for us. It wont be easy, and maybe sometimes I should except that I cant always make homemade bread or what not and buy it at the store. We received a super wave oven as a Christmas gift and I am excited to use it to make cooking faster, or at least that's what the book says it does. I am interested in trying new recipes also as ours have been on repeat for a while. What recipes are your favorites for a quick meal? How do you keep in budget and not eat out so much?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chili Mac

I like quick filling meals, I also love chili. On days when time is short but I want chili I make chili mac. Its easy, simple and could easily be a one pot meal. I boil the noodles separately though, so for me its a two pot meal. My Mom used to make something like this for us growing up but called it Slop. Whatever you call it, its good, warm and I don't usually have lots of leftovers. Here is my recipe:
Chili Mac
1 or 2 pounds of hamburger meat or venison
1 onion diced
Elbow noodles (or noodles of choice)
1 can of tomato's diced or crushed
2 cans of tomato sauce
1 or 2 cans of beans ( I use ranch style or pintos, but I rinse the pintos)
1 can of corn (optional)
Chili powder (to taste)
Cumin (to taste)
I cook the hamburger meat with the onion and garlic until done. While I do this I cook the noodles. I make sure the pan I cook the meat in is big enough to accommodate everything. When the meat is done, drain and add tomato's, tomato sauce, beans and corn (if adding), cook over a medium heat. When the noodles are done add them too, stir well. Add chili powder and cumin powder until desired taste is achieved. For me it takes very little cumin, but lots of chili powder. Cook this together for a bit and taste again, it always seems to me that the taste changes a bit and I have to add more things. Some people might be taken back by adding the corn, but it is awesome. You can also add the corn in with the leftovers the next day to make them go farther and eat it plain the first night. I like to serve this with corn bread. The taste will seem more like homemade chili if you use plain pintos rather than ranch style beans, but it is great both ways. If you want you can cook your noodles in the pan with the meat, you might just have to add a little water.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween fun

I made a two different treats for the cake walk at cub scouts. I made spider web cupcakes and finger cookies. To make the cupcakes I used a regular box cake mix and frosting. I baked it according to the directions on the box. When cooled I frosted them lightly, mostly just enough to cover the cake.
Make sure you smooth it out kind of good. Then take some of your frosting and put it in a bowl and mix it with black food coloring until it is the desired color.
Put this colored frosting into a piping bag or a zip lock bag I grab the corner I want to cut and push it through the inside of the bag, and fill my hand up with frosting. Then I pull my hand back through and the frosting is just in the corner and not all over the bag.
I could not get a good picture of the frosting in my hand since I was taking the picture myself. Next clip a tiny, tiny piece off the corner of the bag. With your piping bag make a small circle in the center of the cake and a bigger circle around it.
I only do a few cupcakes at a time, because I get bored easy and I need to keep changing what I am doing. Anyway, once you get some done you will need a toothpick or in a pinch a skewer. I hadn't realized we were out of toothpicks until it was too late. Next take your toothpick and start at the center line drag the toothpick through the black icing connecting the lines and going past the outer line. I usually make 5 or 6 lines on each cupcake.
This is when I realized I had made the lines too thick. I had to use the other corner of my bag and make the hole smaller. Next after the web is made you take an m&m and put it some where on the web. Using the black icing make little legs off the sides of the candy.
Next up we made sugar cookie fingers. I used the same recipe I have used before and you can find it here. After the cookies chilled we rolled them out like a snake and used sliced almonds to make finger nails. I used a butter knife to make the slits on the knuckles. After the first pan was out of the oven we realized we used too much dough. Our cool fingers turned into fat fingers. So we made them skinny almost boney looking and they turned out better.
I also dusted cinnamon over the slits, they look pretty awesome and I hope the boys like them at scouts. Whats your favorite halloween treat?