Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marvelous Mondays Link Party!

I'm participating in the Marvelous Mondays Link Party over at This Gal Cooks. Go check out all of the great participants!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Handy Dandy Tips: Homemade Febreze

Briana at Life.Family.Love is quite possibly a genius. She has this recipe for homemade Febreze for just $0.15 a bottle and it is awesome!!!!

We have pets so we used to go through quite a bit of Febreze, but its so expensive that we've had to stop buying it. I honestly hadn't thought about making my own until quite recently. It really doesn't get much easier than this.

You will need:
  • 1/8 cup liquid fabric softener
  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • Hot water
  • Spray bottle

Add your ingredients to the bottle and fill with hot water. Shake. Spray. Enjoy. See, told you it was easy. I'm all about easy.

I used a vanilla and lavender scented fabric softener. Our house smells AMAZING right now. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dining on a Dime: Pancake Squares

Breakfast food can almost always make me happy... Fur actual breakfast, for dinner, whatever, I love it. Here lately I've been on something of a pancake kick. We were all out of baking mix Saturday morning, so I decided to improvise and made some corn meal pancakes. They were super yummy, but are, alas, a story for another day. Sunday (and I admit, again this morning) I made these pancake squares. They are so good and unbelievably easy!!
This is yet another Pinterest discovery. The original recipe can be found here at the Big Red Kitchen.

This recipe could not be any easier and all of the ingredients are things that I generally have available. You get all the pancake taste without all the work of waiting over the griddle and flipping. I didn't take many pictures, because it didn't seem important that you have pictures of me mixing batter.

You will need:

3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

First, preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.

In a bowl whisk together the milk, melted butter, egg and sugar. Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Just like with muffin batter it is important that you DO NOT OVER MIX! Lumps are alright in this case. Pour the batter into your pan.
I sprinkled some chocolate chips on half for Deven and left my half plain. You could just as easily add them to all of the batter or even sprinkle the top with fruit. Whatever you like.

Place the pan in the over and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. I usually test with a toothpick for doneness, particularly with this recipes, since it doesn't really brown much.
Serve just like you would pancakes. Yum, yum.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Handy Dandy Tips: Cleaning Your Glass Top Stove

Cleaning a glass top stove is not as easy as I was led to believe. While it is certainly easier than a stove with coils, it still takes plenty of work and special cleaning supplies, which can be expensive. Once again, Pinterest offered a "miracle" solution, so naturally, I had to put it to the test

Here is the link my original pin took me to at Behind the Studio. My stove top was MUCH ickier than hers: I had a boil over last night and I had been trying to get it really dirty in order to test this, so I wasn't sure mine would come clean as easily as hers did.
You will need:
  • A rag
  • Hot soapy water
  • Baking soda
First, you'll want to wipe off any crumbs from the stove top. Next, sprinkle baking soda over the areas that need scrubbing.

Now, you'll soak your rag in the water and partially wring it out. You don't want it completely soaking, but you do want it nice and wet. Lay it over the baking soda and let it sit for 15 minutes. As you can see, I had to do mine in sections, as my rag wasn't big enough.

 After the 15 minute are up simply take the rag and start scrubbing. It did not take nearly as much scrubbing as I anticipated to get everything to come clean. I would recommend wiping the surface down with Windex afterwards, since any remaining baking soda can leave the stove top looking cloudy.

 There are still a few burn spots that stubbornly refused to budge, but I'm sure another round of soaking and scrubbing would take care of those. All in all I would say this is just as good if not a little better than the store bought cleaners.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Handy Dandy Tips: DIY Peel Off Pore Cleaning Mask

Ok, I actually forgot to pin this one, but this, again, comes from something I saw on Pinterest. It's basically an egg white mask with a twist.

I've done egg white masks before, with various mixtures, and they are not bad, but I never noticed any particular results. If you have ever used a pore strip before, you will kind of get the idea of this particular mask.

To try it, you will need:
  • One egg white
  • Tissue paper
I also mixed in two drops of tea tree oil with my egg white, because I'm pretty much convinced at his point that tea tree oil will fix just about any problem. I have read before that it is good at drying up acne, so therefore its inclusion in this mask. If you have sensitive skin I do not recommend using the tea tree oil.

Now, the idea here is pretty simple. Spread some of the egg white on your face and then apply tissue paper on top of it.. That's all.  Here is an awesome picture of me with the mask on. Probably should have gone with white tissue paper, but all I could find was blue or red with glitter in it, so blue it was.

Now, you just let it dry, then peel it off.

In the end, this one really surprised me. It actually worked. The results were not as dramatic as a pore strip, but it definitely yanked some of the nastiness from my pores. I won't post a picture of the results, because, ew. Just trust me. My skin also looked considerably brighter and was very soft.

All in all, a winner. It's far, far cheaper than pore strips and will do your whole face.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dining on a Dime: Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Sorry for the delay in posting here lately! I've been working a lot of closing shifts and have just been exhausted. But, we slept until nearly 12:30 this afternoon and now I'm back on track! Anyway, getting on with the recipe!

This recipe is super yummy! I had never made any sort of zucchini bread or anything like that before, so I wasn't super sure about it, but its wonderful... moist and very chocolatey!

Before I jump in, let me just say, for all the non-bakers out there, this is not like my other recipes. You will actually need to measure your ingredients carefully. Baking is far more precise.

Here is the blog post I got my recipe from.

Moving on, you will need:
  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil, it has all of the health benefits of olive oil, but with a lighter flavor)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (one medium zucchini made more than enough for this recipe)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pre-heat your oven to 350° F, then grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and the baking soda.

In a separate large bowl mix together the eggs, oil, brown sugar, honey and vanilla. Tip: spray your measuring cup with a little cooking spray before you put in the honey. It will slide right out!

 Next, you'll gradually mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture. The batter will be very thick. One everything is incorporated, fold in the zucchini and the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into your loaf pan and place it in the pre-heated oven for 60 to 75 minutes.
Once you remove the pan from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before trying to remove the bread. I had to run a knife along the edges of the pan and it fell right out.

You are supposed to let the bread cool completely before slicing it. I am far too impatient for that. I let it cool a little, but then went ahead and sliced it while it was still a little warm. Mmmmmm. So good.

It will be wonderful for breakfast in the morning. It's tasty on its own, but is also good with a little butter or margarine. I know it sounds a little weird, but we always used to do that on chocolate cake as kids and its still my favorite way to have it. This bread is so close to cake that it tastes awesome that way.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dining on a Dime: Roasted Garlic Parmesan Broccoli

This recipe is far and away one of my favorites, and its very much a crowd pleaser. Maybe people just don't want to hurt my feelings, but I've never gotten less than rave reviews on this broccoli. We probably have this side two times a week or more and its extremely easy to vary the veggies you use as well.

I cannot impress how easy this is. You will need:

  • Broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
This is another recipe that is super easy. Toss your broccoli into a bowl (if it's frozen thaw it at least partially) and drizzle with olive oil. Be careful not to use too much or your veggies will be a little soggy. You just want to coat the broccoli lightly and give the other ingredients something to stick too. Next, add your other ingredients. This is definitely another one of those dishes where there is no exact amount I can tell you to use. Use as much or as little as you would like. You can also use fresh garlic, which will get a little sweet when it's roasted. If I use fresh garlic, I also tend to still use just a little garlic powder. We're big garlic fans in our house. And its good for you, so no complaints there.

Once everything is added, simply stir until the broccoli is coated. Next, spread the broccoli onto a pan that has been lightly greased. I typically use a jelly roll pan. I like something with sides.

Now, pop your broccoli into a preheated 425°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the broccoli starts to get brown and crispy.

It's as easy as that. We have not had steamed broccoli in our house since I discovered roasting it. It's so much better and super simple. As a side note, I've also done this same recipe with Brussels sprouts, one of my very favorites, and it is amazing. It would also be yummy with cauliflower.

Now, THAT is a meal!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dining on a Dime: Oven "Fried" Zucchini

Guys, it really doesn't get much easier than this appetizer. And it is so good! Like addictive. With zucchini being in season, right now is the perfect time to try out this yummy recipe. I also got my zucchini in trade for some craft work, so that made this an extremely affordable dish.

What you will need:

  • Zucchini, sliced thin
  • Milk
  • Breadcrumbs
You'll notice, again, I didn't specify any amounts. This one is just too easy to adjust to suit your crowd. Half of a large zucchini made a single panful and was just about right for just Deven and I.

With the breadcrumbs, I happened to have some whole wheat, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs already in the panty. If you don't have seasoned breadcrumbs, I would recommend mixing in a little Italian herbs and a little garlic or onion powder.

First, you'll want to preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray. If you want your zucchini extra crispy, you can spray an oven safe cooling rack with cooking spray and place it on top of your pan. My cooling racks can't go in the oven, or I would have done it this way.

Next, dip your zucchini slices into the milk and then dredge in breadcrumbs and place on your pan.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

One little guy got just a little toasty. Mmmm.
 That's it. Easy, right?

I served our with ranch and it was delicious. They would also be tasty with marinara, but obviously use whatever you like!

Do any of you have any delicious zucchini recipes? I still have more to use and will be getting my hands on more if I can!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Attention All My Blogger Friends!

Here is something really cool for all of you who have a blog, no matter how big or small!

After Nine to Five is hosting a new program to help experienced bloggers connect with newbies (like me!) to help grow their blog! I signed up this morning and am really looking forward to being involved in the Big Bloggers, Little Bloggers program. Interested yourself? Head over and sign up!