Monday, March 12, 2012

What's for Dinner, March Week 2

Snacking for Dinner
Macaroni Salad
Green Salad

Hillbilly Ribs
Baked Potatoes
Spinach Salad

Spicy Kale Lasagna
Green Salad

Ranch Chicken using this 3 ingredient recipe
Potatoes cubed and wrapped in foil and put in the crockpot on top of the chicken, so they cook separately.

Corned Beef, Cabbage, Carrots, and Potatoes! Yay!

Relief Society Dinner for adults, Pizza for kids

Leftovers Soup and Bread in the bread machine

Linking Up Here:  Menu Plan Monday

Friday, March 9, 2012

Brown Rice and Barley Pilaf

I'm always experimenting with my cooking, trying new recipes, and especially trying to make meals inexpensive and healthy at the same time.  I also like to make things that use our food storage.  That way, when we need/have to use these shelf-stable foods I know how to use them, and the family will be more likely to eat them without complaining.

Roasted chicken was on our menu this week, and I wanted to make rice to go with it.  I buy brown rice in a 25 pound bag and work my through it, usually having rice once a week for dinner and breakfast.  This time I wanted to make a pilaf, and I wanted more than just the rice texture, so I decided to add some pearl barley to it to mix it up a bit.  We were happy with the mixture, and as you can see it made a large batch of pilaf, probably 10-12 servings, so to the leftovers I added a can of diced tomatoes, some corn sauteed with chili powder, green chilis and some salsa to make Spanish rice that we ate with the chicken enchiladas.  That was good, too!  And still "shelf-stable" since I added canned ingredients.  ;)

Food storage cooking:

Brown Rice and Barley Pilaf

6 cups water or chicken stock
2 cups brown rice
3/4 cup pearl barley
2 T. dried carrots
1 T. dried celery
1 T. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried onions
1/2 tsp. dried garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Cracked pepper to taste
1/2 T. dried chives

Bring the water/stock (or mixture of the two) to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add the other ingredients except for the cracked pepper and dried chives.  Bring back up to a boil, turn to a low simmer, cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes.  Fluff with a for and garnish with the pepper and dried chives

Note:  I didn't add any fat in the form of oil or butter because I wanted this to be made from just the dried ingredients and it turned out just fine.  I also used plain water and added a teaspoon of dried, no-msg chicken soup base.  You can also "brown" the dry rice in some butter or olive in a pan before adding the liquid and other ingredients, but I kept it simple and skipped that step.

I love the Thrive dehydrated veggies from Shelf Reliance.  A little goes a long way!  I linked to my sister's website here, but I am NOT compensated for it at all, I just really love the products.

I'm Linking Here:  Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How I store a year's worth of laundry detergent.

I'm not sure where all of our dirty laundry comes from because it seems like I am doing  laundry day and night, and there is still someone scrambling to find a pair of socks or their P.E. clothes.  I am not a laundry detergent snob.  I know people who will only use Tide detergent, or certain fabric softener, or whatever.  Because Natalia had sensitive skin, I have always used fairly mild detergent, but not the expensive kind, I go for the cheap stuff.

Last year when my sisters were here visiting I told them about the homemade laundry detergent recipe that I'd run across on another blog, so we decided to whip up a batch.  It was simple.  It was so easy that my kids can do it, and Natalia usually helps me throw a batch together.

Everything that you need should be available at your local Wal-Mart or grocery store.  Our Win-Co grocery store carries them all, but I haven't checked any other stores.

Grate the whole Fels-Naptha bar and put into a medium to large sized pot.

Add 4 cups of hot tap water.

It will look like you're trying to boil some shredded cheddar, but the scent is way different.  The Fels-Naptha soap has a strong, clean scent to it.

Heat on a medium-low until the soap is dissolved into the water.  It will take about 15 minutes or so.  Stir a couple of times.  When it is mostly melted (there will be some teeny pieces that don't seem to melt) pour into a five gallon bucket.

Add 1/2 cup Borax.  You can add up to a cup of Borax if needed, maybe if you have especially grungy clothes that you wash.

Then add a cup of Washing Soda.

Stir well and fill the bucket up with hot tap water.  Stir again, then cover with lid and let sit overnight to thicken. 

The liquid will turn into more of a thick gel.

Just stir it up again, and it will be a watery, clumpy gel.  Now you have 5 gallons of concentrated laundry detergent.

Then fill an old laundry soap container HALF full with the detergent and fill the rest up with water.  Give it a good shake, and shake before each use.  I use a half a capful for each load, a little more for an extra-large or extra-grungy load.

This batch will last me 3 months doing laundry for 6 people and a dog.  To make it even easier to make another load I printed off the instructions, put it in a cut-off clear sleeve and used packing tape to tape it to my bucket.  No searching for the recipe needed.

And here is how I store a year's worth of laundry detergent.  On half a shelf, too!

A couple of notes on how I do laundry:

  • There are recipes for powdered laundry soap, too, but I've almost always used liquid.  When we had some plumbing work done on a house we lived in there was powdered detergent clumped up in the pipes.  Ever since then I've used liquid detergent.
  • I wash everything on cold
  • I use a pre-treater when something has a stain.  You can also use a Fels Naptha bar for pre-treating.
  • I pour the detergent in with the water, before adding the clothes, and don't pour directly on the clothes. My mom tried this soap and had problems with spots on her laundry.  She didn't know if it was caused by her hard water or what, but I would recommend making a 1/2 recipe and splitting with a friend to try it out if you're not sure about it.

A rough cost estimate of the laundry products:

  • Fels-Naptha Heavy Duty Laundry Bar Soap - $1.00 (x4 for a year's supply for our family $4.00) 
  • 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster - $3.38
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda - $3.24

Grand total for 1 year:  $10.62, plus the cost of water, which is pennies for us.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
4 Cups hot tap water
1 Fels Naptha or Zote soap bar
1 Cup Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
½ Cup Borax powder
5 gallon bucket
1 grater
Empty Laundry Soap Dispenser (save your last one)

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water.
Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.
Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax.
Stir well until all powder is dissolved.
Fill bucket to top with more hot water.
Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

  • Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
  • Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
  • Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)
I'm linking up here:  TidyMom   Crystal & Co.  Three Mango Seeds

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's for Dinner, March Week 1

Roasted Chicken, brown rice pilaf, green beans, salad
* I'm roasting two chickens and will assemble the enchiladas for Wednesday when making dinner tonight.
Busy night, softball meeting and Jr. Class parent meeting, but prepping ahead of time really saves time in the long run!

Homemade Pizza, maybe taco or BBQ chicken pizza.
* I'm making the crust ahead of time on Monday because Tuesday is extra busy.

Chicken Echiladas, corn, refried beans

Hamburgers and macaroni salad, green salad

Taco Soup in the Crock Pot:  Here's a basic recipe

BLT's with turkey bacon, chips, and fruit

Salmon in the Crock Pot: I made this for last week's menu, but wanted to try it out before I posted how I made it.  Don't want to steer anyone wrong.  The salmon came out moist and flaky.

Salmon has been very inexpensive lately.  It's $3.99/lb for farm raised, and although I'd rather eat wild caught salmon, I figure a small amount of farm raised is better than nothing.

Salmon Packets in the Crock Pot
Prep a sheet of foil for each fillet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

Place salmon in middle of foil and drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Fold the foil around the salmon making a packet and stack them in the crock pot.

Cook on low for 4 hours.

Variations:  Sprinkle with any seasoning that sounds good; I'm going to try my favorite, Creole seasoning on this and serve with homemade spanish style rice and corn and black beans.

I'm linking up here:  Menu Plan Monday ,  Tasty Tuesdays

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Keepin' It Simple

If you were here yesterday you saw my girly pages with old pictures.  Lots of pink and flowers and doilies and lace.  Not so much today, although I did sneak flowers onto these pages.

This next page is for my Project Stash book.  This is a simple layout, just grouped the photos and stacked the paper bits.  I added a swipe of white paint around all of the edges of the papers, but didn't do the photos.  Now I wish I had, but oh, well. Then I popped on a few flowers.  Hee Hee.  Our road trip was earlier this month, you know, back when the gas prices were $3.65 a gallon instead of $4.20.  Yikes.

The photos were taken from the front seat; I just lifted the camera over my head and started snapping without looking at the screen.  This is what we look like during a calm moment of traveling, when they're not fighting over seats, messing with the dog, or trying to change the radio station.

Remember these Simple Stories supplies I stashed in my Project Stash album?  I used them on the next page, and for some other compartmentalized pages.  I just love them!  Love the colors, love that you can do the basics with them but they still look awesome.

Even though I tend to do a lot of journaling on tags and tucking them into the page, every once in a while I have a journal-heavy page.  This is obviously one of those pages.  So again, I kept it simple and used the Simple Stories Happy Day line.

The quickest thing in the world to jazz up a page is to add some type of banner. The pieces do not have to be the same size, shape, or type. They can be used for a title or just for embellishment. I hand cut these banner pieces and used some 3D foam tape to pop them up. Twine and 2 grommets finished off the banner, then I sprinkle just a couple of orange felt flowers and the page was done. The journaling took longer than putting the page together!

And one last page from the Project Stash album. Sometimes I just want pictures, even though it is a scrapbook, so I grouped these up into a large block, grabbed some OLD stickers from my stash for the title, and did one line of journaling across the top above the photo block. I love the almost flowery Spanish style background paper!

Basically, what I'm trying to say is Keep It Simple. And it doesn't have to perfect. 
 And flowers make everything better.

I'm linking up here:  WIP Monday on ScrapScene
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