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Monday, October 16, 2017

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix...



I LOOOOOOOOVE a steaming mug of hot chocolate.  A big mug with lots of whipped cream or marshmallows.  Then add on a sprinkling of chocolate shavings on top.  OH YES!!!  Nothing says cozy quite as nice as snuggling up with a cup of hot chocolate.  Mmmm..


Cool mornings have started here in Georgia.  If weathermen are correct, we should be greeted each morning with temperatures in the 40s.  Great way to start off the morning?  Hot chocolate and buttered toast for breakfast.  

This mix is super easy to prepare.  I simply don't like the taste of the store-bought premade packets of hot cocoa mix.  So I just keep all the ingredients I need on hand to make this and mix it all up whenever we run out.  Decidedly simple.  Very tasty.  My girls even say they prefer this version of hot chocolate over any they've had from a restaurant.  WOW!!


Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

2 cups powdered milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered coffee creamer
1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)

Mix all ingredients together and store in a quart size mason jar.  

To make a cup of hot chocolate, pour hot water in a mug and THEN pour in the hot chocolate mix (1/3 to 1/2 half cup, based on how sweet and chocolatey you like your cocoa).  Let it start to dissolve on it's own and then gently stir it all together.  Great as is OR add lots of marshmallows or whipped cream.  Great, also, using a peppermint stick as a stirrer!!!  

Enjoy!!! 


Monday, October 09, 2017

Update... Homemade Chicken Stock...



Waaaaay back in July of 2009, I shared about how I make chicken stock.  I am very well aware of the fact that you can buy this at the store in cans or boxes.   I have definitely used the store bought stuff before.  Not bad, but nothing you'd "Mmmmmmm" over.  Know what I mean?  

I also know there is such a thing as bouillon cubes that come wrapped up in cute little tiny squares.  I always have those on hand.  You never know when you are suddenly out of chicken stock. Boy, those little squares have certainly come in handy over the years!!!




However, by far, the BEST tasting thing to use when it comes to chicken stock is.... drumroll.... HOMEMADE!!!!  

You knew I'd say that didn't you?  

Not only is it BY FAR the tastiest, it is CHEAP, too!!!!  I've even made this in my crock pot before, too!!!  Just put all the ingredients in the crock pot, turn it on low, and walk away for about 8-12 hours. SUPER SIMPLE!!!!  

I do prefer, though, to simmer it on the stove all day long.  I do it on a day when I know I don't have to go anywhere.  The smell in the whole house that day is just sooo yummy. Last week when I made our latest batch, the exterminator was here (LOOOOOVE THE BUG MAN COMING every 3 months!!! I DO NOT like bugs!!!  But that blog post can wait for another day...) even HE said, "Boy that sure smells good."  Thank you, Bug Man.  


I digress...


Here's how I roast the chicken...

Use bone IN and skin ON chicken breasts.  You can use any part of the chicken you like- just make sure you have the bones.  Some people will even buy "scratchers" (chicken feet) from the grocery store to add to their stock.  (Yes, I am serious.  Go ask your butcher where they are! Or my dad.  He knows them very well.  Pretty sure he'll read this post!!)  They contain a lot of super good for you stuff in the bones.  

So I roast my chicken breasts in the oven at 400° for about 45 minutes until they are golden brown on top.  I rubbed olive oil on top and sprinkled with salt and tons of fresh black pepper first.  




After I removed it from the oven, I let it cool.  When I could touch it, I removed the meat from the bones and chopped the meat up.  I usually freeze it and save for casseroles or soups or enchiladas or chicken salad.... well, you get the idea.  




 

The bones and skin (and "scratchers" if you're using them) now go into a big stock pot.  I use my 9 quart pot.  Roughly chop 2 onions, 4 ribs celery and 3 carrots and place in stock pot along with 2 bulbs of garlic (cut in half) and 2-4 bay leaves, 2 tsp dried thyme,  a sprig or two of fresh rosemary and a big handful of peppercorns (yes, put them in whole). And, this may sound like a strange ingredient, but also add 2-3 T of apple cider vinegar. Cover everything with water to the very rim of the pot. Cover with lid. I prefer to do this the night before.  The apple cider vinegar helps to draw out the gelatin from the bones (super good stuff for you!!!).

Doesn't it look so pretty in the pot???






When you're all done you can either use it right away or store it in the refrigerator 3-4 days or in the freezer up to 6 months.  I have used mason jars to freeze the stock in as well as plastic quart size freezer bags. 

(our chicken stock in freezer bags)



So who else makes their own stock?  If you do, please share anything you do differently.  I LOVE learning better ways.  

Happy Homemaking!!!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Dish drainers- do you or do you not?



In March of 2012, I asked if any of y'all used a dish drainer.  To be very honest, I was shocked that most of you did not use one!  I thought EVERYONE used one!!  

Since that day, I've been thinking about NOT having one.  Yes, I realize that was FIVE years ago, but still, the idea has been in the back of my mind this whole time.  I'm just sooooo over how much counter space the dish drainer takes up. 

I challenged myself to go the whole month of June of this year without using the dish drainer.  I did it and LOVED it!!  I finally threw the dish drainer away two weeks ago (yes, in September!!!). HAHA!  I guess I was scared I'd suddenly "need" it again???  

Here's how it looked with the dish drainer on the counter top...






Here's what I've been doing- washing dishes then laying them on top of a dish towel.  I do put almost everything in the dishwasher, but for the things that I hand wash, I've been washing them and laying them on the towel.  Great thing about this is that I DO NOT like the dishes laying on the counter so I am forced (by myself.. no one MAKES me do this) to immediately deal with the dishes. I dry them off and put them up right away.  Then I'll just hang the towel to dry.  









Aaaaahhhhh the counter looks SO much less cluttered without the dish drainer.  YAY!!!!  





Y'all please share links to your blogs if you've shared about your dish drainer or lack of a dish drainer before.  

Happy home keeping!!!


Monday, September 25, 2017

Easy Breakfast- Puff Pancakes...




Puff Pancakes are definitely one of our easiest and tastiest breakfasts.  You simply mix up all the ingredients and wait for the oven to heat up.  As the oven is heating, I put the pan in the oven with the butter in it.  The butter melts as the oven heats and, usually, by the time the oven is to the correct temperature, the butter is all melted and ready for the batter to be poured in.  Super simple. 


Puff Pancakes 

6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla 
2 T butter (salted)

Turn oven on to 375°.  Place the butter in a 9x13 pan and put in oven.  As the oven heats, it will melt the butter.  Remove pan from oven as soon as the butter is completely melted.  But, as you wait for that, go ahead and mix the remaining batter ingredients together. 

When the butter is melted, pour the batter into the hot 9x13.  Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are browned and it's all puffed up.  

Remove from oven, cut into serving sizes, drizzle with your favorite toppings.  We prefer maple syrup, but fresh berries and powdered sugar would be awesome, too!!




Here's what it looks like as soon as the timer goes off, ready to be pulled out of the oven.  





And here's what it looks like after just a few minutes!!  The pretty puff is gone (so don't wonder "what did I do wrong??" when yours does this!!!), but the yumminess is left behind.  




And here it is all served up and ready to be devoured.  So tasty.  

We've been making this for at least 10 years.  Hope y'all love it as much as we do!!


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Gross But Necessary....Why You Should Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner's Beater Bar.....



Sorry for the super nasty photos that follow.  There are just some things us homemakers MUST talk about....


So, yes, I knew this.  I KNOW we are supposed to clean the hair off of our vacuum cleaner's beater bar on a regular basis.  But.... well, I got lazy and HELLO THIS IS GROSS!!!!





According to this website, this is WHY we should make sure we clean the hair off on a regular basis.

Vacuums are the cleaning workhorse of our carpeted rooms, but every once in a while they need a little cleaning themselves so that they can keep operating properly. Most are already familiar with cleaning or replacing the vacuum bag since that happens on a more regular basis but it is not as common to remove the roller brush and clean it as well. If you live in a household with long haired people or animals you may know this problem all too well. As the vacuum runs along the carpet it picks up hair that wraps around (and almost dreads) your roller brush. When enough hair builds up, the roller brush is no longer able to rotate and stops picking up hair and debris on your floor. Luckily it's an easy and quick fix.

I finally cleaned mine last week.  Yep, disgusting.  All three of us girls in this home have long hair, so you better believe there was a TON of hair to remove.  



So now?  Our vacuum cleaner is running MUCH better than it was!!  We only purchased this vacuum 6 months ago and already we had this much hair.  YIKES!!  Lesson learned- I will clean it off WAY more often than every 6 months!!!!


How often do YOU clean the hair off the beater bar?  If you have pets, definitely be sure and look to see if it needs cleaning!!  And if you cannot figure out how to remove the beater bar, youtube is your best friend. Type in the brand of your vacuum and some nice person has surely uploaded a video of how to do it on your exact machine.  YAY for technology!!!





Monday, August 21, 2017

Super Simple Peach Cobbler...



This recipe is one my mother has always made.  If you ask her, she will say it's not "real" peach cobbler.  She loves the peach cobbler with hand rolled, homemade crust on top and fresh peaches on the inside.  Yes, it's tasty. But for me??? Oh I LOVE my mother's super simple version.  Quick. Tasty.  Can't beat that combination!!!

Recently, Caroline (7) has decided this is HER dessert to make for the family.  I put the pan in the oven and take it out, but she does everything else.  And she LOVES that she's making something  yummy for all of us. She made it tonight, as a matter of fact, and declared that next time she makes it she WILL have vanilla ice cream to put on top for everyone.  Sounds PERFECT!!!




Super Simple Peach Cobbler

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose, unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
2 (15 oz) cans of peaches

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x13 place the stick of butter and put the pan in the oven.  Remove as soon as the butter melts completely (maybe 5 minutes??? WATCH CAREFULLY!!!!).

In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and stir to combine.  Mix in milk and stir well.  No lumps are wanted in this.  :)  Set aside.

As soon as butter is melted, remove from oven.  Pour the batter into the melted butter in the 9x13.  Then pour the canned peaches (juice and all!!!) on top.  You may want to carefully move a few of the peaches around so that they cover the whole pan evenly.

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Then wait.  This is always the hardest part, by far.  




This is such an easy and delicious dessert!!  If you keep canned peaches in your pantry, you're pretty much always ready with a treat for last minute drop in guests!!  


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Roasted Sausage and Peppers....



Roasted Sausage and Peppers is one of the easiest recipes I make. This also happens to be one of the favorite dishes of my seven year old.  I'm talking, when she sees me put the smoked sausage in the grocery cart, she starts jumping up and down.  Seriously.


(By the way, there ARE other things than just sausage and peppers in the recipe, that's what we have always ended up calling this dish over the years.)

The recipe is so so simple. It's just a matter of chopping your veggies and sausages then boom they're roasting away in the oven!!  Gives you plenty of time to wash up any dishes from the day and then maybe relax a few minutes before the oven timer goes off.



Roasted  Sausage and Peppers

2 smoke sausage links (something like this)
1 onion
4 bell peppers any color (we used red, yellow, orange, and green here)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 head of broccoli (I use the floret part only)
good pinch of kosher salt
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Chop up the sausage, onion, peppers, garlic, and broccoli.  Place them on a cookie sheet with a rim.  Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle on salt.  Toss it all together with your hands.  Cook for 20 minutes then remove from oven and toss around.  Place back in oven for another 25 minutes to finish cooking.  



Like any recipe, make this like YOUR family likes.  They LOVE onion?  Add more!!  They only like green peppers?  Use just those.  Y'all detest garlic?  Leave it out.  You, fellow homemaker, know best what your family prefers.

This can be served over rice or pasta, but we eat it just like this- scoop it up off the cookie sheet and onto our plates and enjoy!! OH! And Caroline (7) says to be sure and tell you that she adds a dash of balsamic vinegar and really REALLY likes it this way.




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