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Archive for April, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday and happy almost the first of May, everyone!  As April winds down, I realize that C & I have gotten quite a bit accomplished around here this month.  We helped his parents update their landscaping, built another raised garden bed, and a raised flower bed just in a few short weeks.  I count that as a very successful month! 

This past Saturday, I mulched the strawberry bed and planted some cucumber seeds.  The lettuce and carrots are starting to sprout so that just leaves the tomatoes, sweet peppers, watermelon and sunflower plants/seeds to go in.  Oh, I almost forgot about the six flower pots that are still left to fill, but that will just be fun.  This week is supposed to be nice and warm so hopefully I can get most of that accomplished after work.

My co-worker is having a yard sale in a couple of weeks and told me that I could put whatever I wanted to in it.  She probably shouldn’t have said that.  I am off from work this Thursday and plan on spending most of the day sorting and pricing some items that have lost their usefulness around here.  I have quite a pile of old clothes and a few other odds and ends that are ready for a new home.  I also hope to start on a garage clean-up soon as well.  Whew, there is just not enough time in the day to get it all done.  Let’s face it…there’s not enough time in a 100 days to get it all done.

Grilled pork chops with Oven Baked Fries

Pizza puffs (new) with salad

Tacos

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with bacon

Apple Braised Pork Loin with Butter Roasted Potatoes

Pizza night

Bakerella’s Peanut Butter Brownies (These didn’t get made this past weekend.)

Please join me at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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Pizza Dippers

I may need a Pinterst intervention, because this is yet another recipe I found on there.  It originated from the blog, The Farm Girl, and it is a simple and good dinner or lunch option.  The Farm Girl calls her pizza pancakes, but I preferred pizza dippers for mine because they turned out a little too thick to really call them pancakes.  Next time I make them, I will add just a tad more milk to make them more like pancakes.

The Farm Girl also used pepperoni in hers, but I chose Italian sausage because that is what I had.  I bet pepperoni would be awesome.  C liked them, but thought they weren’t quite enough for a supper but would be good with chili.  We had the leftovers with chili the next day and he was right.  They were great dipped in chili!

2 cups Bisquick baking mix

1 c. milk (Next time, I will add just a little more. Maybe another 1/8 of a cup.)

2 eggs

3/4 c. shredded Italian (Pizza) cheese

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 lb. Italian sausage, cooked

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt

Pizza sauce, for dipping

Parmesan Cheese, garnish

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Heat griddle or skillet and grease, if necessary.  In a large bowl, combine the Bisquick mix, Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Combine eggs and milk and stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the cheeses and Italian sausage.

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Pour approximately 1/4 cup onto hot griddle, cook until bubbles form on top and edges are dry. Flip and cook until golden brown.

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Cut pancakes with pizza cutter in to 4 triangles, garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve with pizza sauce for dipping.  Enjoy!

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Please join me at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage for Full Plate Thursday.

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Despite having extra-warm temperatures for most of March and the first part of April, Mother Nature has gotten back to normal.  Our area has been having its share of little “winters” the last couple of weeks, which means much cooler temperatures.  Normally, this is no big deal, BUT when all of the plants decided to come out and enjoy that early warm weather, it could spell trouble.

C & I had trimmed some grapevines in his parent’s yard a couple of months ago and they were coming out in full force.  They covered them in burlap to protect them from the freeze, but, sadly, they got burned.  Oh, well, they are recovering nicely now so hopefully no great harm was done.  Our new grapevines got nipped, too, but they are starting to show signs of life again.

I am so glad that I didn’t jump the gun and try to sow seeds of veggies that need the warmth.  I guess I had better confess that I didn’t do this because of my smarts, but because I just didn’t have the beds ready.  God watches over us all the time!  The early warm weather has given us time to do a few projects around the house.  Last year, we had a concrete driveway and two sidewalks poured so this year we built a raised flower bed between one sidewalk and the garage.  We still like a few more details, but here is a sneak peek:

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I plan to have a how-to post on how we built our wall in the coming weeks.  C also built another raised bed for me so now I have even more room to grow fresh veggies and fruits…

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I have visions of paste tomatoes, green peppers, and small watermelons in here.  See all that beautiful dirt?  That is thanks to my wonderful father-in-law who took time out of his busy farming schedule to put his front end loader to work.  He brought me four huge scoops of composted dirt/leaves/cow manure/hay that has been sitting undisturbed for a few years.  It is gardener’s black gold!  Thanks, R!  You saved us a lot of back breaking, or at least back bending, work.

Well, that’s about it for now. In just a few weeks, I’ll be seeding cucumbers and watermelon, not to mention planting my tomatoes and green pepper plants.  Oh, and how could I forget the flower pots that decorate my front porch and decks?  They are coming soon, too.

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Our first small harvest of the season and the promise of more to come…

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Menu Plan Monday

Another week has flown right by and we have had another busy but successful weekend.  C & I are helping his parents update their landscaping this spring and God has smiled down upon us the last two Saturdays making them cool enough to work all day without burning up.  Everything is looking so pretty and refreshed.  Can’t wait to see the final product!

I changed last week’s menu just a tad.  Orange juice cake was the dessert originally listed, but Pinterest got in my way once again.  Enter the Deep Dish Gooey Cookie Pie and Vanilla Frozen Yogurt recipes.  I just HAD to try them!

Here is this week’s plan:

Bubble Up Pizza

Cheeseburger bundles with Oven Baked Fries (2 nights)

Basic Meatloaf with Butter Roasted Potatoes

Pizza night

Grilled Hot Dogs and Chips

Bakerella’s Peanut Butter Brownies (new)

Please join me at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday. Have a great week, everyone!

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Now when I think of fudge, my first thoughts always go to chocolate or peanut butter, but I have now been exposed to something totally different.  Back at Christmas, my uncle tried a candy he had never seen before at his company’s employee dinner.  One of his co-workers brought Dreamsicle fudge and he loved it.  He brought me her recipe, but it made not one, but two 13×9 inch pans and that was just too much to experiment with so I found this recipe over at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen on Pinterest that made a much smaller amount and was basically the same recipe scaled down.

I must apologize because I only have photos of the finished product.  The first two times I tried to make it, I burned it.  I mean I REALLY burned it, so the third time I was very careful and didn’t take photos during the process. It is pretty much just basic candy making, but I just didn’t have the attention span that day to make it so I tried again later after wasting 3 sticks of butter and 6 cups of sugar.

3/4 cup butter
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
12 oz. pkg. white chocolate chips
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow crème
3 teaspoons orange extract
12 drops yellow food coloring
5 drops red food coloring

In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and evaporated milk. Cook and stir on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 4 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in white chocolate and marshmallow crème. Remove 1 cup and set aside. Add orange extract and coloring to the remaining mixture. Stir until blended. Pour into an 8 or 9 inch square pan that has been lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray. Drop reserved mixture by tablespoons on top and cut through with a knife to swirl.

Let pan cool in refrigerator for several hours until set.

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Please join me and other bloggers over at Rose City Reader for today’s Book Beginnings.  Want to join up, too?  It’s so easy…just grab the book you are reading, or have read or want to read, and type the first couple of lines in said book.  Then give us your opinion. That’s all there is too it!

My book beginnings for today is from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling:

"The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive."

This sentence really doesn’t give us a strong idea of what is going to happen in just a few short pages, but it does kind of give you a feeling that the “drowsy silence” may not last too much longer.  This is a great book and series!!

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Happy Monday to everyone!  I hope your week and weekend was as productive as ours was.  I think I mentioned last Monday that C & I built another raised garden bed and raised flower bed while we were off for spring break.  Last Thursday, C’s dad helped us out a bunch by using his handy dandy tractor with a front-end loader to bring us four beautiful scoops of composted dirt to fill these and top off the old beds. 

I got up Saturday morning to weed and top off the strawberry patch with fresh dirt and it looks so good!  There are plenty of green berries already and we made sure to cover them so last week’s cold snap wouldn’t hurt them.  The two garden beds and the flower bed are also ready to plant so hopefully I will start filling those up this week.

C & I are also helping his parents refresh their landscaping a little so we worked on that Saturday afternoon.  Fresh mulch always makes plants look so much better.  We hope to get more accomplished this week and weekend.  Wish us luck!  Since we are doing so much outside, this week’s menu is a little on the simple side again, but I do have a couple of new recipes planned for next weekend.  Have a blessed and wonderful week, everyone!

Grilled pork chops for 2 & oven baked fries

Tacos with fresh fruit

Grilled steaks with butter roasted potatoes

Pizza night

Sliders (new) with oven baked fries

Orange juice cake (not new but I have never posted it on here.)

Please join me at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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How’s that for a long name for a quick and easy recipe that is so, so, so good?  I found this recipe over at the blog Plain Chicken and I may be addicted now. I made this to go with a pot of chili back during cooler weather and was hooked.  This is a perfect bread to go with chili or soup and would be perfect as a party food, too. 

I don’t ever need to make this when I am home alone or I would eat the whole loaf by myself with very few regrets later.  This is definitely an sharing recipe.  It’s just too good!  I will say that mine didn’t turn out quite as pretty as Plain Chicken’s did but it tasted great just the same.

1 unsliced loaf of (round is preferable) sourdough bread (I couldn’t find sourdough at my grocery so I used Hawaiian bread and it gave it a great sweet kick.)
8-12 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
3 oz. bag Oscar Mayer Real Bacon bits (I didn’t have bacon bits, so I just cooked about 4 slices of bacon and crumbled it.)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp. Ranch dressing mix

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Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions. Do not cut through the bottom crust. Place the shredded cheese in between cuts. Sprinkle bacon bits on bread, making sure to get in between cuts. Mix together butter and Ranch dressing mix. Pour over bread. Wrap in foil the entire loaf in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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Please join me at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage for Full Plate Thursday.

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For those of you who have been following my blog for a while (thanks by the way!), you will know that I have been trying to “green” my cleaning routine for a while now.  I have used store-bought non-toxic cleaners and was really impressed with their cleaning power, but not so impressed with the prices of these.

Then I began reading on different blogs that many people were making their own cleaners at home for pennies on the dollar of the bought stuff.  I found this pretty intriguing and started by making my own clothing detergent.  This post tells all about that.  The results were great and I haven’t bought any detergent since.  This got me to wanting to try more cleaning recipes and I found these instructions on Pinterest at the blog Macheesmo.  I ordered all of the components from Amazon at about fifty bucks for everything including the bottles.  Now that may seem like a lot, but I have enough of the ingredients to make a LOT of the cleaning products, plus these should be much easier on the environment and hopefully our bodies. 

I will start with the antibacterial spray that is made with only two things: water and lavender essential oil.  The oil has natural antibacterial qualities so it makes a great-smelling safe spray.  Just mix 1 cup of water and 20 drops of the essential oil.  I made a double batch since my bottle was big enough to handle it.

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Next was the all-purpose cleaner which includes:

3 Tablespoons vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon washing soda
1/2 Teaspoon castile soap
2 Cups hot water

Mix all of these together in a spray bottle.  There will be a slight reaction with the vinegar and washing soda so watch out for a few bubbles.  I noticed that the ingredients will separate a little when the bottle is left alone, but all you have to do is shake it up to re-mix.

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Next is what I call the tub and tile cleaner and it worked great!  You will need a squirt bottle for this instead of a spray since it is quite a bit thicker in consistency.

2/3 Cup baking soda
1/2 Cup castile soap
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1/2 Cup water
A few drops of Tea Tree oil (another natural antibacterial product)

Mix all of these in a squirt bottle.  Again, watch out for a few bubbles from the reaction of the components, but they will dissipate quickly. 

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The fourth container in the above photo shows the homemade window cleaner that I have been using for a while.  It is 1 part distilled vinegar to 2 parts water.  So easy and so effective!  So far, all of these homemade products were effective and it only took about 15 minutes to make all of them. 

If you are trying to “clean up” your cleaning routine, give these a try. 

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