Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kalamata olive and rosemary whole wheat bread

This has been a week of ups and downs. Mainly downs. In the grand scheme of things, it's nothing terribly major...just terribly inconvenient.

First World Problems.

Punky Brewster and Little Miss were fighting over my iPhone5 and broke the screen. And, when I tried to replace the screen...let's just say that's one very expensive DIY fail. Others have successfully fixed their screens, but I managed to bread the LCD in the process. The good news, I suppose, is one of our phones is due for an upgrade in about a week and I can use that upgrade phone to replace mine.

What was probably worse this week went in to motion last week. We finally --FINALLY-- sold our old house. The costly downside was we took a huge loss and pretty much gave the house away.

On the way home from the closing, D and I stopped at Costco for groceries. I bought my usual: milk, eggs, and cheese. The kids unloaded the groceries and put them away, because my kids are all kinds of awesome.

When I looked in the fridge, I saw the right number of gallons of milk.

Dear readers, you probably know where this is headed!

For the last few days, the smell in my new car (of course it happened in my new car) was getting progressively worse. It smelled like old fish and dirty gym socks with a hint of death. Definitely not pleasant.

Tuesday night, a full eight days after the Costco trip, I opened my trunk to discover a bloated gallon of milk. It had expanded enough to pop the seal. I dumped baking soda on the back carpet (you know how much I love baking soda), and it helped a little. What helped the most was remembering we had the extra trunk carpet liner thingy and I was able to remove that. The milk didn't actually get on to the permanent trunk carpeting!

The smell was much less ... gnarly this morning. Hopefully after a good steam cleaning the insert can go back in and my car will recover.

Needless to say, I needed some serious time in the kitchen to get my head on straight. I didn't get it, but Leelee was wonderful enough to provide some carbs to drown my sorrows.  She came up with this fantastic Kalamata Olives and Rosemary Whole Wheat bread that just hit the spot.

Kalamata Olives & Rosemary Whole Wheat Bread

1 T olive oil
2 C flour
1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8x4 loaf pan with non stick cooking spray.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and make a well in the center. In another bowl combine buttermilk, butter, and egg whites. Stir with a whisk to aerate. Add liquid mixture to flour, stir just until moistened. Fold in olives and rosemary.

Spread batter into loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing bread from pan. Cool completely.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Peanut free no bake cookies

I have a few old cookbooks given to me by friends and neighbors. Sometimes it's fun to look through the recipes and see the crazy recipes. I imagine 40 years from now looking back and thinking "Cake pops? Really?" Or "What was the deal with quinoa?" Or "Chocolate and bacon? Together?" Ok, no one who has tried chocolate and bacon together would actually say that, but you get the idea.

One recipe caught my attention because it called for a 1/2 C of FAT. 

And yeah, I'm actually thinking of making it. 

But because I need to decide what the appropriate FAT is for the dessert, I decided to tackle a recipe with something a little less ... Weird...like oleo...

FYI: oleo is an older term for margarine. 

Flipping through the 1977 copy of Southern Living Desserts, I found an entire section on no bake cookies. Some of them were familiar favorites, like the peanut butter oatmeal cocoa ones. My mother in law called them mountain bars. I remember making these all the time as a kid with my mom.

I love no bake cookies but don't get a chance to make then because it's usually too hot for them to set or I'm out of peanut butter. 

This week with temps only on the low 80s/upper 70s was perfect! And thanks to this old cookbook... A PEANUT BUTTER FREE. No bake cookie!

The first thing D noticed was these were a lot more chocolatey. They are definitely "grab a glass of milk" chocolatey cookies...and I say that as a non-milk drinker. Very rich chocolate taste.

Peanut Butter Free No Bake Cookies
adapted from Southern Living Desserts

3 C rolled oats
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 C shredded coconut
2 C sugar
1/2 C dark cocoa powder
1/2 C evaporated milk
1/2 C margarine

In a large bowl, mix together oats and coconut. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, cocoa,  and milk to a rolling boil. Add in margarine. Stir til melted. Add vanilla. Reduce heat to low. Pour oats and coconut into saucepan, stirring thoroughly. for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Let cool about 10 minutes before dropping by tablespoonfuls on to waxed paper. Cool completely.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dining Room SOS!

Today I'm asking for a bit of help with my dining room!

So many of you have great ideas and great blogs of your own, I decided to call upon your collective creativity for this space.

So here's what we have...

Instead of a solid back wall to the dining room, we have an ugly hot water heater crammed in to a corner. There is a door above the hot water heater. Many years ago, steps occupied the area. They were probably removed when the kitchen was converted to a dining room in 1969.

Next to the eye sore, is a fireplace mantle. 

I put it there. 

For some reason, we had two extra mantles in the house when we moved in.

Behind the mantle is a brick chimney that was plastered over. Originally, this was the chimney that went with the stove. Hidden behind a false wall is a flue cover.

Eventually, I plan to expose the brick.

I do like the idea of the mantle and the exposed brick.

I don't like the idea of having yet another mantle to decorate. Right now, it's a pretty convenient spot for storing out Soda Stream. It might be fun to make it a sort of beverage station!


The hot water heater... It's not like we can move it. I don't know if a beaded doorway is the answer, but it's better than leaving it open.

Here's a nice breakdown:

Hit me with your ideas and creative solutions! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Strawberry Syrup for Soda

I am not a kitchen gadget person. My kitchen is very small. My house lacks storage in general. So, when I get a new kitchen tool, it needs to be necessary... or small.

At the end of last year, I hosted a house party and was given a Soda Stream to demonstrate. I had two friends decide they HAD to have one, so I guess the party was a success!

I wasn't sure how much I'd actually use a homemade soda machine. It seemed ridiculous. Impractical, even. I spent time trying to figure out how much money I'd save making soda at home vs buying it on sale.

And yet, I couldn't help falling in love with it!

One of my favorite things to do is just carbonate the water and add citrus oils. It's far less expensive to do this than buy citrus flavored carbonated water.

Like most things, you have to look for deals. We trade in our used canisters. A friend said he trades his in at a store where he can use discount coupons! I haven't tried it yet, but hey...if it saves money, right?

My biggest savings comes in the syrups. I use my discount points from Sears to buy syrups. Every time I have "surprise points," I end up with free syrup. It was an even better deal when I found the syrups on sale for half price AND I used my points!

Today, I got a really fantastic deal on strawberries at the farmer's market. Instead of jam, I decided to try my hand at making a strawberry syrup to use in the Soda Stream.

It was crazy simple and I ended up beating several levels of Candy Crush while it cooked.

Homemade Strawberry Soda

4 C sliced strawberries
3 C water
2 C sugar

In a large saucepan, bring the sliced strawberries and water to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Skim off any foam.

Using a mesh strainer, pour the strawberries and juice from the large saucepan into a smaller one. Do NOT push down on the berries. Just let it drain. 

To the smaller saucepan with the juice, add 2 C sugar. Simmer about 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Cool. Pour in to glass jar with lid. Store in refrigerator.

To make soda, carbonate 1 liter of water. Add 1/2 C syrup.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shelf Liner Back Splash

After two years at looking at the previous owner's attempt at a back splash, I finally decided to do something about it.

It wasn't just that the paintable wallpaper was ugly, it was also completely impractical. Every time water splashed on it, the paintable wall paper discolored. Probably because it had never been painted.

The picture, clearly, is not good quality. But it's enough to see the vast BLAH and BLECH that was the back splash. Heck, you can even see the color the kitchen was painting before. Yup...ORANGE. I love orange (my bedroom is orange!) But not in the kitchen. That was the first room to get a nice repainting to turquoise.

Here's another look at the paintable wallpaper...and you can see how it's started to discolor

So, what to do with pretty much no budget and about 4 hours before company came over?

I made a trip to the dollar store where I picked up five rolls of shelf liner. I figured it was definitely washable. Going with a black and white pattern, I could add some pizzazz to the back of the sink. And it wouldn't look terrible with my red accessories.

Toss in some industrial glue and what could possibly go wrong?

Aside from a sticky mess of glue on my fingers and trying to adjust for shelf paper that didn't quite line up perfectly (probably why it ended up at the dollar store)...it didn't look half bad!

I have no idea how long this is going to hold up. With an investment of about $5, it really doesn't matter if it has to all come down in about 6 months.

If anyone decided to attempt such a project, my only recommendation would be to use a permanent spray adhesive instead of super glue or other permanent type bonding adhesive.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

TARDIS apron

Our love of cooking and all things Doctor Who came together with this apron.

I only wish it had stayed at our house. Instead, it was shipped away to Chris as part of a craft swap.

The apron itself was premade. Sometimes, you just need to take a bit of help from the store! It was the perfect color and the cost was actually less than buying fabric and bias tape.

The other materials (felt and iron-on flocked letters) came out of my craft stash.

One of the reasons I took so much store help on this is because I've been substitute teaching so much. I'm working three days a week, usually. That probably doesn't sound like much to those of you who work. 40 hours a week and still manage a family, but having been a SAHM for so long... This transition back to the workforce needs to be slow. Not just for me, but the family.

Subbing has been awesome. I've learned that not only do I enjoy teaching (when teachers leave me materials and not just busy work), I do NOT love the primary grades. Anything below third grade usually results in me needing a bps by the end of the day! High school is by fat my favorite age.

And, with that knowledge, I'm going back to college to get a Masters in a Secondary Education, specializing in English.  Today, I selected my classes and wow... Some of the graduate level classes seem like real snoozers... Like 17th century British poetry. I'm taking two Ed classes and American Realist Writers because I didn't really want to take advanced grammar! Why can't there be a semester long graduate class on Poe? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ground Beef Gyros

I'm not entirely sure what I did, but I managed to hurt my back this past week. It was bad enough I had to call out of a sub job at one of my favorite schools and I made an appointment to see a chiropractor.

The good news is today, I can walk without pain!

And for the first time in longer than I care to admit, I actually made a fairly decent meal for the family. I'd been pawning off the cooking to D, one of the kids, or throwing chicken in the oven with a bit of salt and pepper. Very much zzzzz meals.

This recipe is one of my standby ground beef recipes. It goes together quick and has plenty of vegetables in it...and the kids gobble it all up.

Honestly, this is a "cheater" recipe in that I take some liberties with the sauce. It's not authentic, but it's definitely tasty.

Ground Beef Gyros

1 container Cucumber Dill Feta Otria Greek Yogurt Dip 

1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 t oregano
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
3/4 t pepper

4 pita breads, cut in half
1cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 head of lettuce

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil. In a small bowl, mix together ground beef and seasonings. Shape in to four patties. Place on lined cookie sheet. Broil, about 4 inches from heat for about 7 minutes on each side.

Cut the patties in to slices. Fill pita with sliced meat, yogurt dip, cucumber, lettuce and tomato.

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