Friday, December 10, 2010
My downfall started with the tailgating season. We stay so busy going to all the Clemson home games and preparing food for large groups of people, I can barely keep the house in order. In fact if you were to ask my husband, he might say that I did not in fact keep the house in order. So, just don't ask him, okay?
Then, immediately following football seasons, the holidays started creeping up on me. Actually, football and the holidays did a little overlap and effectively kicked my butt.
However, one of the main (and saddest) reasons I have not been blogging lately is that I've been too tired and lacked the self control to plate and take a pictures of everything I cook before the hubs and I scarf it down. A post without a picture just isn't the same, and the fat girl part of me is more powerful than the blogger part. Sigh...
I will try harder folks. Not because I think you care (I do not have the audacity for such bold assumptions), but because I made a HUGE deal about starting a blog only to let it die off after only a handful of posts and now I am embarrassed. I hope to get a few more posts up in the next few days. I will do it for the people and for pride! Haha.
The Determined Domestic/Blogger
Monday, October 25, 2010
One of my best tools for staying organized and saving time is planning my meals for the week. This keeps us from eating out, eating frozen food, and me from having to make multiple trips to the grocery store for one missing ingredient. Here's this weeks meal plan:
Monday: Sweet apple chicken sausage sautéed with onion and granny smith apples in a maple reduction served with mashed new potatoes and roasted asparagus
Tuesday and Wednesday me and my husband have our respective bible study groups and will be left to fend for ourselves.
Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie and a side salad (gotta get those veggies people)
Friday: Venison Chili and size salad.
Saturday: Probably just candy since it's Halloween Party Night. Just kidding! We are still working out plans, but we probably won't be at home
Sunday: Leftovers Schmorgesborg. Waste not want not folks.
That's my week! Please forgive any typos. Its hard to blog on a teeny, tiny keyboard.
Monday, September 27, 2010
- 1 stick butter, room temp
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Evaporated Cane Juice (or regular sugar)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- Nutella (about 1 tbsp per sandwich or more to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars. Beat them for about a minute, then add the egg and vanilla.
Measure out the oats in a separate bowl, then sift in the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet mix as you are mixing it until blended.
- Scoop about 1-1.5 tbsp onto a lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 9-13 minutes depending on oven. The original recipe calle dor 11-13 minutes, but mine were fully done at 9.
- Cool on the pan for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Cool the cookies completely before spread with Nutella and making the "pies".
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Strawberry Freezer Jam - adapted from Sure-Jell recipe
- 2 cups crushed strawberries (about 2 pints)
- 3 ½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 box of Sure-jell fruit pectin
and rinse 1-2 cup sized plastic containers with tight fitting lids. Wash
- Crush the strawberries 1 cup at a time using a potato masher. Measure exactly 2 cups of crushed strawberries into a large bowl.
- Measure sugar and mix into fruit. The Sure-jell box suggests that using less than 4 cups of sugar will result in the jam not setting, but I decided to reduce the recipe to 3 ½ cups of sugar and it set just fine. Let sugar and fruit mixture sit for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally so that sugar dissolves.
- Stir box of pectin into ¾ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute while continuing to stir. Then remove from heat.
- Stir pectin mixture into fruit. Stir for about 3 minutes until all sugar is dissolved.
- Pour into prepared containers leaving ½ inch of space at the top for expansion in the freezer. Put lids on and let the jam stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Put the jam in the refrigerator or freezer. Jam will last in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and in the freezer for up to one year.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Football season is upon us. Yippee! For me and my husband that means providing tailgate food for about 6-10 people every weekend there is a home game for the Clemson Tigers! With my new mission to expand my cooking horizons in full force, I have decided to use my fellow tailgaters as guinea pigs...er...um…I mean a taste testers for my some of my first attempt recipes. Muahahaha! This past weekend I made rolled sugar cookies for the first time (royal icing and all). What a pain in the tushy! It was way too time consuming of a task for my schedule last week and before it was over…wait…what am I talking about!? It’s not over! I still have 2 dozen un-iced football shaped sugar cookies in Tupperware on my counter Beware, this recipe makes a lot of cookies folks! (About 3-5 dozen depending on the size of your cookie cutter). I am not sure what to do with them. I’ll probably procrastinate doing anything with them until they’re stale and have to be thrown away. Anyway, I ended up taking a few short cuts with the icing on the 20 or so that I did ice that made the cookies look less than perfect, but I do think they tasted pretty good. So with out further ado, here is the recipe:
Rolled Sugar Cookies
From Jill Saunders
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on un-greased cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
From: Martha Stewart Living 2006
- 1 lb box of confectioners sugar
- 5tbsp meringue powder or 2 pasteurized egg whites (I used meringue powder because we had a pregnant lady attending the tailgate)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle. Use gel food colors to create the desired color for your icing
I was quite surprised at how hard it was to get the cut cookie from the counter to the pan. As you can see these cookies did not all turn out the same size. I was thinking next time I might will try to roll the dough out on parchment paper and remove the excess dough from around the shapes so they don’t have to be picked up and moved. The whole parchment paper could just be moved to the pan. I am not sure how it would effect the baking of the cookies though. We’ll try one day!
So after these cookies are completely cool you must ice them. The cookies themselves are not very sweet and the icing really makes the cookie. You are supposed to use a piping bag to pipe around the out line of your shape and then when the out line dries you are supposed to then thin your icing and fill the middle. This is where I started to cheat. It was about 11:00pm at night when I started this process (like I said busy week) and I do not have a steady hand. So not wanting to completely destroy the cookies beyond recognition by attempting fine decorating techniques I’ve never tried in the last hour of the day, I used a short cut suggested to me by my mother-in-law (Thanks Colleen!). I made my icing according the recipe above, colored it to as close to football brown as I could get them and then dipped the cookies top side down straight in the bowl of icing to coat them. The icing really smoothes itself out evenly over the cookie on its own while it dries. I let them dry on sheets of wax paper overnight and then woke up at 4:00 am to finish them the day of the game (I told you I was cramming this project in to my already busy week). First I had to take a paring knife to cut the cookies loose from the wax paper. Due the unorthodox way I iced these cookies, there was a lot of excess icing dripping over the edges. However once cut free, most of the cookies looked pretty good. Then I had to make another batch of the icing with no color in it for the laces. It was at this time that I discovered I did not have enough powdered sugar to make even half a batch of the icing. Luckily it was 4:00 am so I didn’t care anymore. I made what I icing I could (which turned out to me too thin) and gave laces to as many football cookies as the small batch would allow. The icing came out too thin and the laces did not hold their shape at all. The laces looked more like amoebas. Oh well. I served them at a football game so I figured if people didn’t know what I intended them to be it wasn’t me who would be the dummy. I will try these again, but I’m going to take a break for a while. These are a lot of work and not a good idea to make when you’re in a rush.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Everything Salmon Burgers with Scallion Cream Cheese Sauce
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets, cut into large chunks
- 1 tablespoon grill seasoning, (recommended: Montreal Seasoning by McCormick)
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
- 1/2 cup softened Neufchatel cream cheese
- 3 scallions, whites and greens, chopped
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Green leaf lettuce, for topping
- Sliced beefsteak or vine ripe tomato, for topping
- Sliced red onion, for topping
- Crusty kaiser rolls, split and toasted
Preheat outdoor grill if using to medium high. Prepare hot grill with cooking spray. Indoors, use a large skillet rather than a grill pan and preheat with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to medium-high heat.
Place salmon in food processor and pulse to coarse grind meat to form burgers. Transfer fish to a mixing bowl and season with grill seasoning, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and dill. Mix and form 4 patties. Drizzle the burgers with extra-virgin olive oil.
Cook burgers 3 minutes on each side for a pink center, 4 to 5 minutes on each side for fully cooked fish.
While burgers cook, combine in a bowl the cream cheese and the scallions and fold in sour cream and lemon juice.
Top the burgers with lettuce, tomato, onion and sauce on crusty, toasted buns.
I have been a slack on my commitment to learn a new routine to make cleaning part of my everyday. This is a brief statement of intent to declare I am re-committing myself to the process. It's hard to get up so early and be immediately productive, but I really do feel it is important.
I will report back with any new and interesting discoveries I encounter along the way.
Now if I can just get my husband to help...hmmmm.
Monday, August 30, 2010
This weekend, as a last stitch effort, I gave a "green" cleaner a try. I have had very little faith in green cleaning methods (for no good reason) until now. I mixed baking soda and white distilled vinegar in that stinky old trash can, gave it a scrub, then let it soak for a bit. Voila! My trash can smells like plastic. Not stinky garbage, not vinegar (which I was concerned about)...clean plastic!
I was blown away. Maybe there is something to these homemade cleaning products. It has seriously peaked my interest and I may be looking further into this whole green cleaning thing very soon.
I saw this made on the TV show "Just Cook This with Sam the Cooking Guy" on Fit TV. It looked so delicious I HAD to try it. I had one small hiccup though. I had never eaten eggeplant (I know, I know...what planet do I live on right?). Come to find out I may not be the biggest fan of this vegetable, however...I think eggplant lovers would love this, so I am sharing. Let me know! The picture was taken with my phone, so I apologize if it's fuzzy.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
adapted from Sam the Cooking Guy
- 1 large globe eggplant - or 2 smaller ones
- 3 large tomatoes
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- 4 crusty Italian type rolls, split in half
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh Ground Pepper
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasonings
Cut eggplant & tomatoes to get eight 1/4 inch slices of each. Brush eggplant and bread with olive oil. Season eggplant and tomatoes with salt and pepper. Sprinkle some garlic powder and Italian seasoning on inside of bread.
Grill eggplant on both sides until soft and marked with grill lines. Do the same with tomatoes, but for about half the eggplant time. Toast the bread on the grill as well.
Heat broiler. Assemble sandwiches in this order...
2 slices of eggplant, 2 slices of tomato, 3 large basil leaves, mozzarella cheese and finally about 2 tablespoons of parmesan.
Place open-face under broiler to melt cheese and brown the top - but don't go far you don't want them to burn. Place tops on and slice in half.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced
- 18 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Lightly sweetened whipped cream for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment round; butter parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of pan, bringing foil to top of rim. Combine 1 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate; cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
Bake cake until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.
Bring whipping cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake still in pan. Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake. Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release sides. Cut cake into wedges and serve with whipped cream.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
- 4 ½ cups uncooked medium egg noodles (I use no-yolks)
- 2 quarts boiling water
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 (10 ¾ ounce) can condensed, reduced fat, reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
- 2 cups (8 oz.) reduced fat shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 (6 oz.) tub light cream cheese with chives and onion, softened
- 2 cups chopped lean ham
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- cooking spray
- 1 cup fat free herb flavored croutons, crushed
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cook noodles in 2 quarts boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Add broccoli and cook 3 minutes. Drain
- Combine milk, soup, 1 cup Cheddar cheese, and cream cheese in a large bowl and stir well with a whisk.
- Add noodles mixture, ham, and carrot and stir well.
- Divide noodle mixture evenly between 2, 8 inch, square baking dishes coated with cooking spray.
- Combine remaining 1 cup Cheddar cheese and crouton crumbs; toss well.
- Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over casseroles.
- Wrap unbaked casseroles with heavy- duty foil.
- Place frozen casseroles on a baking sheet.
- Bake, covered at 350 for 1 hour.
- Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.
*You can freeze up to 3 months!
Monday, June 28, 2010
What You'll Need:
- 2 liter Dr. Pepper
- 1/4 cup of salt
- Chili powder
- 1/2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
How to Make It:
- Place the ribs in a large baking dish. Pour in Dr. Pepper to cover them, reserving at least 1/2 cup for the sauce. Add the salt and soak the ribs in the fridge overnight.
- Heat the oven to 350. Remove the ribs from the liquid, dry them, and rub with the chili powder. Place them on a baking dish, add 1 cup of water, and cover tightly with foil. Cook for 2 hours, until the meat nearly falls off the bone.
- For the barbeque sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until they're soft and fragrant, and add the ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, cayenne, and 1/2 cup of Dr. Pepper. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
- Fire up the grill, and brush the ribs with the sauce. When the grill is hot, cook them bone side down on a cooler part for 10 to 15 minutes. Flip them and cook until lightly charred and smoky. Remove, and brush on more sauce.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I have been practicing my routines for a week now and I have noticed that my house is staying more orderly. There are some things that I have been doing religiously with very little effort. There are other things that I have been skipping. Some because they do not need to be done and some because I just can’t bring myself to do them. Here’s a rundown of what’s working very well and what still needs tweaking:
Already a habit
Morning: Make coffee (didn’t have to twist my arm too hard), empty dishwasher/put away dishes, Eat breakfast, and the getting ready stuff.
Evening: Clean out car (one day I forgot an empty Diet Pepsi can), sort car stuff, Make dinner, Open mail, and pack gym bag
Have done, but have also skipped
Morning: Vitamin (I only remembered it once), Quiet time and prayer, and Weekday chores
Evening: Doing dishes, scrubbing sink (I couldn’t scrub the sink on the days I didn’t do the dishes since it was full), Wipe stove and counters, weekday chore, checking on my to do lists
Skipped but it didn’t need to be done
Evening: Changing Laundry loads, Run dishwasher, and Setting out tomorrows dinner (we ate some leftovers)
Just plain didn’t do it!
Morning: Making to do lists (I keep waiting to do this at work. Shame, shame) and abs workout (anyone surprised? Ha!).
Evening: Pack lunches (I kept leaving it until the morning), Fold laundry (I didn’t do this even once. Laundry is my arch nemesis), and layout clothes for next day (I couldn’t bring myself to do it – I didn’t care yet)
So, you can see this is a work in progress. There are some things I just need to buckle down and do and some things I may adjust. For instance, I was thinking of maybe getting showered and dressed sooner in my morning routine so I feel more awake. We’ll see. I am going to work on it this week. I already half failed this morning. I did not put away the dry dishes, have my quiet time, do abs, water plants, or make to do lists. Tomorrow morning I am going to try an adjusted schedule and see if it gets me going better!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Now for the dreaded morning routine…It’s really not that bad, but I am not a morning person AT ALL! I used to wake up in exactly enough time to brush teeth, shower, dry hair (very minimal styling), dress, put on makeup, grab something to eat while running out of the house, and make it to the office 5 minutes late. I then digressed to even skipping the makeup (sorry co-workers) for a time. All in all I only needed 20-30 minutes to get out the door. That kind of rushing around gets kind of old though. Plus with my new undertaking of becoming a housekeeping rock star, I have found that the mornings are also a good time to be a little productive. So, without further ado, the morning routine:
- Start/switch laundry loads – on your way downstairs or to the kitchen switch the laundry loads you started last night
- Make coffee
- Empty dishwasher / put away dry dishes – if you put these dishes away now your dishwasher sink will be ready this evening for more dirty dishes
- Eat breakfast – it’s the most important meal of the day
- Vitamins – taking my vitamin regularly is also an area where I have failed. I put them by my coffee pot to try and remember to suck one down when I have a drink in my hand
- Quiet time / bible study – My pastor always says to give God the first part of your day! OK! So I gave some time to chores and coffee first, but this is the first thing I really turn my brain on for.
- Make / review to-do lists for the day
- Abs workout – this will probably get skipped some mornings, but we’re dreaming big here people!
- Water plants
- Weekday chore –sometimes you will not have a chore in the morning and the evening
- Clean breakfast dishes
- Get dressedHair / makeup
- Tidy bathroom
- Change laundry loads – keep that laundry moving!
- Grab gym bag
- Grab packed lunch and head to work!
That’s it! I have to get up an hour and a half earlier, but it feels good to start your day being productive (once you get used to less sleep that is).
- Bring in everything from car – I tend to leave fast food trash, coffee cup, etc in my car for weeks if I don’t make a point to get it out!
- Sort car junk – dirty dishes to the dishwasher, trash to the can, drugstore purchases to the stairs to be brought up with you…stuff like that.
- Go upstairs (I know we don’t all have stairs) to put gym bag, purse, etc in their places.
- Change/start laundry loads
- Make dinner
- Open/sort mail – file papers
- Pack lunches for next day
- Eat dinner! YUM!
- Do dishes / run dishwasher
- Wipe stove & counters
- Scrub and polish sink – this is a tip from the FlyLady. She says her shiny sink every morning makes her happy. I say scrubbing all remnants of food bits out of it keeps it from stinking!
- Tidy kitchen & living room areas (or hot spots – where ever you and your family spend the most time and therefore making messy)
- Weekday chore – I will do the chore assigned to me on my calendar for this day.
- Fold laundry – I have decided to try and do some laundry every day. It is so much easier to put away 1 load of laundry then 5. When it gets that big it looks daunting and I keep putting it off.
- Pack gym bag for next day
- Lay out clothes for next day. – seems silly but you won’t be pondering your closet in the morning when you’re trying to get out the door or pick something out just to find it needs ironing.
- Get ready for bed (whatever you do)
- Change laundry loads again – I aim to keep laundry going constantly!
- Check to-do lists – see what you accomplished, see what you missed
- Relax – read a book; watch T.V. or just crash and go to sleep (my personal favorite)
Anyway…back to me sucking at life. I can not get it in my routine to do the dishes every day, put away the laundry after it’s washed, or keep up with basic household cleaning. It is just not part of my life. I am a married woman now and for the first time in my life a homeowner. This house is my responsibility. For years my now husband has had someone come and clean his house every two weeks. She is a wonderful lady and excellent cleaner. However, her brain does not work like mine at all and after she comes there are always a handful of things that I can not find. She puts stuff in places that to me make no sense. I have better luck finding things if I look in the last place I think it should go. It is frustrating and expensive! It has to stop. So, now at the age of 25, I am ready to claim my household for my own! I will teach myself how to be a domestic goddess!
I have researched the internet for books on housekeeping, methods, schedules, etc. One of the most helpful sites I found was called FlyLady. I really like the way this lady thinks. I’ve mostly taken her method and modified it for my house. She suggests making “routines”. I have created morning and evening routines that include the daily chores and will hopefully train me to do these things by habit. I have also made a calendar for the month listing the weekly, monthly and seasonal chores I plan to tackle each month. It spaces it out and rotates chores so that it does not feel so overwhelming. After many attempt I have found out that you can not clean you entire house from top to bottom in one day (OK maybe some people can but not me). You can not let it build up, it has to be managed daily.
I know I am not alone in this struggle and do not mind sharing with others if it helps them grow too. I am praying for the spirit to keep this up. My lazy side is going to going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming through this every day, but it can (and will be done). I will let you know how it goes!