Friday, September 30, 2011


While reading on She Who Makes . . . I found the tip about wearing an apron.  This is something that I do quite a bit because I make such a mess of my clothes in the kitchen if I don't.  (And I made aprons as Christmas gifts last year on my treadle sewing machine.  It was so much fun.) Another apron tip is to dedicate one to use while hanging out clothes (yes, I do that).  I keep my clothes pins in the pockets and I don't have to mess with sliding the clothes pin bag down the line.  What other useful homemaking tips do you have to share?
Come see us for more helpful homemaking tips at She Makes Mondays!!

Spray Butter

My son loves to have spray butter on his toast and popcorn.  He can spray it himself and it makes him feel like he is "cooking".  Have any of you ever tried to make your own?  I just put together a mixture of 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup oil and put it into an empty spray bottle.  It didn't fill the bottle - I am thinking you would probably need 1/2 cup of each to fill it, but I wanted to try it.  I will let you know how it works out.

Bread Crumbs

What do you do with those left over pieces of bread, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, that are going stale?  Throw them out no more!  You can make your own bread cumbs with them and save money.  I know that bread cumbs are not that expensive at the store, but just remember that every dollar you save can go towards something much more exciting than bread crumbs!  To make my bread crumbs, I spread all of the left over bread on a cookie sheet and turn my oven on its lowest setting (mine is 175 degrees).  I leave them in the oven until they are hard.  Once the bread is hard, I run them through my blender and voila! bread crumbs!  Store in a sealed jar in the pantry and have bread crumbs whenever you need them.  You can add seasonings, but I usually just wait until I am going to use them and season them at that time.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I found this Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar recipe at Hospitality at Heart and modified it a bit to use what I had on hand.  Since I didn't have any peanut butter chips, I used 2/3 cup of peanut butter and warmed it a bit in the microwave.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 package graham crackers crushed (approx. 1 1/3 cups)
1 stick butter melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup peanut butter, warmed to make it easier to spread

Line baking dish with parchment paper.  Mix the crushed graham crackers and melted butter and press it into a baking dish.  Pour the sweetened condensed milk on top.  Sprinkle chocolate chips across the top of the sweetened condensed milk.  Drop the peanut butter by teaspoons on the top and swirl it through with a knife.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.  Put in the refrigerator to cool and then cut into bars.

What's For Dinner?

Tonight, I will be making Friday night pizza!  I will make a 4 meat pizza for my husband and myself and a cheese pizza for our 5-year old son.  Check back later today for recipes and pictures!  I never imagined how easy and quick it would be to make homemade pizza - and it taste so much better than store bought!

Chocolate Syrup Dessert

Remember that chocolate syrup that I made yesterday?  Well, I got hungry for something sweet yesterday afternoon and went searching for something to satisfy my sweet tooth.  I had some bananas that needed to be eaten, so I started with that, added a crushed Oreo cookie, 7 or 8 mini marshmallows, a couple of dollops of whipped cream and drizzled some of the chocolate syrup over it all.  It was wonderful!  The point is that you can make something delicious is just minutes by throwing just a few things together.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's For Dinner? Spaghetti and Meatballs

In case you are wondering if you missed the What's For Dinner? post last night, you didn't.  We ate dinner at church, so I didn't cook.

Tonight, we are having spaghetti with meatballs.  Here is how I made my meatballs:

Meatballs and Sauce

1lb ground venison (you can use the ground meat of your choice)
1 egg
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbs Parmesean Cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 quart homemade spaghetti sauce (more details to come later)

Mix all ingredients together well and roll by hand into meatballs of the size you choose.  Heat a small amount of oil in the bottom of a skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides.  (It is OK if the meatballs stick a bit.  Those bits and pieces of meat will be incorporated into the sauce.)  Reduce to medium heat and add sauce.  Cook until sauce thickens.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

I have a 5-year old son that loves chocolate milk.  The Nestle Quick powder can get expensive, so I went in search of a recipe to make my own chocolate milk syrup from cocoa powder.  I tried several recipes that were rejected by my taste-tester (the aforementioned 5-year old), but finally found this versions of this recipe from Small Notebook and Hillbilly Housewife that works great!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp vanilla (depending on your choice)

Mix cocoa powder and water in a boiler over low heat.  Once cocoa powder is dissolved, add sugar and bring to a boil.  Boil for three minutes.  Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla.  Stir well.  Allow the syrup to cool and pour into a mason jar or other jar for storage in the refrigerator.

This syrup not only makes great chocolate milk, it also is great over ice cream, apple pie, banana splits, well, just about anything!

Foaming Soap

No, I don't recommend eating soap, but wanted to pass this money-saving idea of using up something you have to make something you might need.

Money Saving Mom posted yesterday about making your own homemade foaming soap from regular liquid soap.  This is something that I have been doing for some time and it really does work.  We do it both for foaming hand soap and foaming dish soap.  If you haven't tried it already, give it a shot!  All you need to do is to put approx. 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid soap into the foaming soap dispenser and fill the remainder with warm water.  Gently shake to mix.  If your mix isn't "sudsy" enough, add a little more liquid soap.  It really is much cheaper than buying new bottles of foaming soap.  This is also a great way to use up the last bits of dishwashing liquid or liquid soap.  I just fill the bottle with water, shake well, and then pour into the foaming pump.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Iced Coffee

I love iced coffee, but can't justify paying $2 or $3 (or much more) for a cup of it.  So, I usually went without and just drank the regular hot coffee (with cream and sugar).  I'm not sure why I didn't ever try making my own, but I think I was just intimidated by the complicated recipes that I found the one time that I went searching on the internet.

Today, I was searching around on the internet and found a post on Iced Coffee at The Pioneer Woman.  It got me to thinking about the few cups of left over coffee that were sitting in my coffee pot.  I mixed coffee and milk in a 3 to 1 ratio and then added two teaspoons of sugar (you can do more or less to your desired sweetness level).  It was wonderful!  I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier.  I do know that I will no longer be pouring out leftover coffee.  It will be going into a mason jar and into the refrigerator.  One of the recommendations at was to freeze some leftover coffee into ice cubes and use those in place of regular ice cubes when making iced coffee.

Great Giveaway at Southern Homemaking Blog

The Southern Homemaker is having a great giveaway of a Williams Sonoma All Clad Pot and soup cook book.  Check it out!

Alfredo Sauce With Crispy Italian Chicken and Homemade Dinner Rolls

I made Alfredo Sauce to go with Italian Chicken and Fettucini Noodles tonight.    I modified a recipe.  Here is what I did:

Alfredo Sauce

3 1/4 cups milk (made from long-term storage powdered milk)
1 tsp garlic powder (I probably would reduce this to 1/2 tsp next time)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 triangles of Laughing Cow cheese (approx 4 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Mix all ingredients and then warm over a low heat until thickened.

This was delicious and made quite a bit of sauce.  I had enough left over to put into a jar and store it in the refrigerator.  It probably wasn't the most frugal recipe because of the Laughing Cow cheese.  It could probably be made cheaper with a store brand cream cheese, but Laughing Cow was what I had.

Crispy Italian Chicken (adapted from Wonder Woman I'm Not who obtained it from Anthem Heart Smart Recipes book)

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbs Parmesean cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 chicken tenders (there was enough mix to do twice this much)
1/2 cup milk

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Dip chicken in milk and then toss in dry ingredients.  Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees until browned.

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls (adapted from Simple Daily

1 1/3 cup warm milk (I used reconstituted powdered milk)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
4 Tbsp oil
3 cups whole wheat flour (ground from my wheat)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter

Mix milk, sugar and yeast and allow yeast to activate.  Add oil, flour and salt.  Mix well, cover and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm spot.  After 1 hour, break off pieces of dough and roll into balls.  Place 3 balls in each muffin cup. (If I have time, I always allow them to rise for another 30 minutes here, but it is not required). Melt butter and brush butter over each roll.  Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 15 minutes until browned.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Granola

My husband has always called me a cereal killer because I can polish off a box of cereal in no time.  I could eat cereal for breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, well, you get the point.  Unfortunately, though, the cost of a box of cereal these days has made me think twice about throwing it into my cart.  I have started making homemade granola and eating it as my cereal.  I have had this recipe for some time, and don't remember where I originally obtained it.  I have made modifications to suit my taste.  You can do so as well.

Homemade Granola

6 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raisins
1 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together.  Note that this will be a very dry and stiff mixture, so either mix by hand with a large wooden spoon or use a high powered mixer with a cookie paddle.  Cook spread as thin as possible at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Store in an airtight container.

What's For Dinner?

Tonight, I am planning to make Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli and homemade rolls for dinner.  I will be using a version of the alfredo sauce recipe at and a version of the homemade dinner roll recipe at Simple Daily Recipes.  I will update with pictures and recipe results.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Update

I made the Pumpkin chocolate Chip Muffins yesterday and they were delicious.  I made a few changes to the recipe to use what I had on hand.  I made 2 dozen mini muffins and 1 dozen large muffins.

The recipe I used is as follows (adapted from Money Saving Mom):

4 eggs reconstituted from dried whole egg powder
2 cups sugar
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (ground from my long-term storage wheat)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Reconstitute eggs with water in mixer and add sugar, pumpkin, and oil.  Add flour and other dry ingredients.  Finally, add chocolate chips and mix until well blended.  Cook at 400 degrees.  Mini-muffins cooked for about 8 minutes and large muffins cooked for about 15 minutes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What's For Dinner?

Tonight, I am making a Nacho Cheese Chip Pie (AKA Dorito Casserole). 

To make this, I used the following recipe

1 - 7 oz bag of Nacho Cheese Chips
1lb ground venison (could use ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, etc.)
1 cup homemade salsa (use your favorite)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pack taco seasoning
3/4 cup water

Brown ground meat and drain.  Add taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water.  Cook until mixture thickens.  Mix 1 cup salsa with 1 can cream of mushroom soup and warm.  Layer in an 8x10 casserole dish.  I did a layer of chips, a layer of sauce, and then a layer of meat.  I repeated all three layers and topped with another layer of chips and 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until cheese melts and lightly browns.

I am serving this with black beans and brown rice simmered with salsa. 

What are you cooking???

What I'm Cooking Today

I am trying to find delicious recipes that will use up some of my pantry ingredients.  This morning, thanks to Laura at Heavenly Homemakers I found a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe from Crystal at Money Saving Mom.  I have some canned pumpkin that I got for 25 cents a can some time ago and I thought that it would be something that both my husband and I as well as our 5 year old son would enjoy.  I will update you as to how we liked it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Favorite Foodie Websites???

What are your favorite food-related websites?  Where do you get most of your cooking ideas?  Some of my favorites are: - you can input what items you have on hand and it will provide you with a list of recieps you can make with those items (sometimes with a few additions)

I am sure there are several others, but those are a few that come to the top of my mind.  What are some of your favorites?

Kitchen Gadgets

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?  Having helpful gadgets can make working in the kitchen so much more fun.  When cooking is more fun, you become much less likely to stop by the fast food restaurant on the way home from work.  A couple of my favorites that stay on my counter top all the time are my KitchenAid mixer and my VitaMix.  I use both of these almost daily and sometime multiple times a day.  I have several other items that help with my food preservation - canners, dehydrators, etc - that I love, but don't use daily.  I will elaborate on these more as we discuss preserving. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Welcome to The Food Journey!

In these uncertain economic times, the rising cost of food can quickly take up a large portion of your monthly budget. If you eat out only a few meals a month, that can add up to quite a chunk of change in just a short amount of time. Our family budget was recently cut in half when I lost my job.  We are currently in the process of "making do" with the foods we have stored through long-term storage, canning and dehydrating, and our daily use pantry.  In this blog, we will explore ways to use food items you have on hand (or can easily obtain) to make delicious and filing meals. We will also discuss fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to recipes using them fresh from the garden, we will discuss preserving them (canning, dehydrating, or freezing) for later use. Thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope you find it fun!