What’s in your pantry?

It occurred to me this morning that I need to restock my pantry. I tend to do it about every 6 months or so and it looks to be about that time.

Pantry items not only can help you make meals in minutes, but it assures that you have everything needed to make a meal at any given time, even if you’re running low on cash, or simply to busy to get to the store.

I’d like to share what I keep in my pantry, not only to give you some ideas, but the reasons why some items are necessary. So here goes….

Flour, Sugar, Brown sugar, baking powder, Kosher salt (never the iodized..its full of chemicals, and has an off taste), Himalayan salt, liquid smoke, cornstarch, powdered sugar, oils, baking soda and vinegars, such as red wine, apple cider, rice wine and regular distilled.

Now I will call these “staples”.  Things that can actually make a meal.

Canned beans, refried beans, and any beans you like.Canned corn, boxes of pasta, such as spaghetti, ziti, macaroni, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes and of course tomato paste, chicken and beef stock, mustard and ketchup.

Now some of the next few listed may be controversial. I am not really a food snob, so on occasion I like to keep jarred sauces like Spaghetti and Alfredo. I do try to buy the best quality, but these sauces can be doctored up to make many delicious recipes.

Now you might be asking why I don’t have more vegetables listed. I’m not a huge fan of canned vegetables. I do prefer to buy them fresh, but feel free to add more veges to yours.

Now I like to keep red onions, white or yellow onions, white potatoes and sweet potatoes in my pantry as well.

I do also like to stock pancake mix complete (the kind you need to add only water) , packets of brown or chicken gravy mix, maple syrup, panko bread crumbs and rice.

So that really is my list that I try to keep stocked at all times. If you use one replace it.

I typically get all of these items at Aldi’s. They always seem to have the best prices in my opinion and their store brand is the best quality I have tasted.

Also, always keep your spices stocked. Its the difference from a good meal to a great meal…..

I would love to hear what your pantry staples are!!

 

Miss Me?………

After a very long break due to health issues, I’m back!! A lot has recently changed in my life! I’m no longer a housewife for one. I have accepted a position with an architectural firm in the marketing field. (I actually use to work here about 4 years ago). I had a health scare (a mild stroke, to be exact) so that has definitely changed a few things for me. Needless to say, my life has changed.

Let me start here as I tend to ramble when I get started.

My diet has changed completely. Obviously I’m a carb addict. No more.

In fact, I can barely have any carbs. No bread, no pasta, no sugar!! Not even fruit…well except berries in small amounts. ( What the filth!?)

So, some of this blog will be dedicated to my new way of eating.

Second, my return back to the 40 hour work week……

So, here’s the story on that.

I left on really bad terms with my boss when I left 4 years previously. I wont get into semantics….but I left saying FU as I walked out the door. To make a long story short, he went through numerous employees in that position. Let me just say, it takes a special kind of person to work along side the man! (boss) Apparently I’m that special kind of person. (yep, I can tolerate mood swings…it takes one to know one)

Anywho…. so here I am, hopefully on the mend.

My next post will outline my diet. Many of you I’m sure have heard of it. KETO

Now I am not following to lose weight, however that has been a side effect. I can tell you that my mental clarity has vastly improved as well as my energy levels! (BONUS)

It is very restrictive, for sure. But it has become a way of life for me more than a so called “diet”. I will be posting menu plans and recipes for those interested in this way of eating.

Stay tuned…….

I’m back……..

Hey everyone….sorry its been a minute since my last post, but life is always getting in the way! Where shall I begin?

Valentines Day. I wanted to post this before valentine’s day so you all could have a tested recipe to use for your valentine cookies, but…… what happened wasExcuse #1, My mother-in-law’s birthday is on Valentines Day as well. Yep. So needless to say, Valentines is a much different holiday at my house.  Romantic, right?  Number 2, Washer is on the fritz!!  Have you ever had to endure the laundromat? Let me tell you….. It’s quite the experience! I will leave that to your imagination. Well…a few things.. To wash 1 load is now $3.75!!!!!! WHATTTTT???!!! YEP, I kid you not. Dogs run lose these days apparently as well in the laundromat. Who knew? Anywho….

So with that being said….here is the recipe for perfect sugar cookie cutouts! I have used this recipe and have never been disappointed! BONUS!! There is no need to refrigerate the dough before rolling!! Did I mention St. Patrick’s Day cookies??? So here’s your chance to try it!!

Sugar Cookie Cutouts

  • 2 Sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of almond or vanilla flavoring (I prefer the taste of almond)
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour ( be sure to measure correctly. meaning spoon flour into measuring cup and level off with knife, never dip measuring cup into flour as you will pack the flour resulting in a dry dough and cookie!!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Blend butter, sugar and flavoring for 1 minute. Add eggs, blend for 20 seconds.

Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.

Place dough on a floured surface and also be sure to flour your rolling pin. Roll to 1/4 inch thick. Use any cookie cutter. IMG_3794

Place on baking sheet. No need to grease. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees!! Let cool. These cookies freeze very well!!!

IMG_3779

Royal Icing Recipe

  • 1 Bag of powdered sugar, 8 cups
  • 3 TBS of Meringue powder
  • 1 tsp of almond flavoring
  • 1 cup of hot water

Mix for 10 minutes….it will resemble marshmallow cream. This consistency is good to pipe with.

Add 1/4 cup of water to use this technique. Use any colors you choose. Separate icing into separate bowls to mix colors.

This technique is called marbling. It’s great for beginners and looks fabulous!! Let cookies dry for several hours. I leave mine sit on racks overnight….ENJOY!!

 

 

Ughhhh….Tax Season

Taxes. The yearly task that most everyone dreads. I have always completed my own taxes as my returns have typically been pretty simple. This year however, after being self-employed, I am finding it’s anything but.

I’ve already filed my significant others taxes, and he’s already received his return. Yeah…lucky him, he actually receives a return.

The first year of any business can be grueling. But my OCD came in very handy as I kept every receipt (piled in a drawer.) It was enough paper to destroy a small forest. This horrible habit has done me well this year as I will need every deduction I can get.

I never use to mind tax time. I always received some sort of return because I once had deductions. (children) Now that my children have grown and gone, I find myself with zero. Zero personal deductions. Did I say zero? Zero. 

So as I go through my receipts and I make my way through this confetti of sorts, I am reminded that at least I had income. Be thankful…yes we all hate paying taxes, but the alternative means you didn’t have an income. The glass isn’t half empty…it is full. Speaking of glasses…in this case a mug…

Todays recipe is one from my childhood. Looking back I never really appreciated this recipe until I had children of my own. It was always there….just scoop it in a mug and add hot water…. can’t get any easier than that….HOT COCOA!!!! What’s not to like? Purchasing those packets in the grocery store, well seems  silly. You get 8-10 envelopes in this little box…and I always find myself using two envelopes as any decent sized mug requires it. Who are these people telling me 6 ounces is a serving size? WHAT??!! Um. No. My mug is at least 12 ounces! Consider mine a Venti…

The ingredients in this recipe are at any grocery store. It also makes a great gift for teachers as you only need to add hot water. It really is the best and creamiest hot cocoa mix ever!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!

Grandmas Hot Cocoa Mix

  • 10 cups of powdered milk
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of Hersheys baking cocoa
  • 1 16 ounce box of powdered Nestle Quick Chocolate (In the Coffee and Hot cocoa isle at your local grocer)
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered Coffeemate Creamer (In the coffee isle)20180208_13143320180208_132211 (1)

 

Mix all ingredients in a very large bowl. If you don’t have a bowl this large a large paper bag  or plastic bag will work.

I like to mix with a whisk to make sure everything is incorporated.

You may keep in a large container with a lid, or keep in Ziploc bags. I like to use canning jars and give as gifts by tying a cute ribbon and a tag around the jar with directions.

To make a mug of cocoa: In a large mug (approximately 10 -12 ounces), add 4 heaping TABLESPOONS of mix or more depending on your taste. Add boiling water, stir and serve. ENJOY!!IMG_20180208_140433_325

 

 

Superbowl…why do you watch?

There was a discussion in Huskerland today, whether or not people was going to watch the Super Bowl. Now, truth be told…I love my Huskers, but I’m not a huge fan of pro ball.

but…..

This does not stop me from enjoying the festivities. I LOVE the commercials. I LOVE the food. And I LOVE the halftime show…..and yes, I love a good game.

So, are you watching? What team are you rooting for? Are you having or attending a party?

So, c’mon football lovers…chime in here. I’d love to know your perspective!!

I’m going to keep this post a lil short today, as I have a recipe for ya!!

I absolutely LOVE Soft pretzels dipped in a Beer Cheese Sauce! Here is a recipe for both!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!! 20180201_141237

Soft Pretzels

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 3 Tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • (1 beaten egg for egg wash)

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it’s about 110 degrees, just barely warmed….dont make it too hot or it will kill the yeast! In a medium mixing bowl add warmed milk and yeast. Mix in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a fork. Add 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine in small slices and stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the regular salt to make a very soft dough. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly sticky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spray a large baking sheet pan with cooking spray. Punch the dough down to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 -7 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, rolling it into a long rope. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.20180201_134710

Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the greased baking sheet (can be sprinkled with coarse salt if desired). Bake 10 minutes then brush on beaten egg wash with a pastry brush. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Serve warm…or you may freeze pretzels and warm in oven or toaster.

Beer Cheese Dipping Sauce

  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 4 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite beer
  • 8 ounces of shredded cheddar
  • 1 TBSP of A-1 Steak sauce (or your favorite steak sauce)
  • 1 tsp of dry mustard
  • 1 tsp of hot sauce (add more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of onion salt
  • 1/2 tsp of dried dill

 

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Add flour and mix until combined. Whisk in milk and beer and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened.

Add the steak sauce and dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder and dill, stirring to combine.

Slowly add a bit of the shredded cheese, a little at a time, stirring well to melt. Continue until all the cheese is added and melted. Salt and pepper to taste.20180201_132032.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Therapy?

Some women book an appointment at the spa. Some women love to read a great book. And some women have a glass of wine. My therapy is a toss-up between baking and repurposing furniture.

Moms have it rough these days…..actually women in general. (Men too)…  Adulting is hard and that’s why it’s so important to take “me” time.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the weekly schedule. Whether its carpooling the kids to their school and activities, working 40+ hours per week, household duties, we have to remember to take time for ourselves if we are going to perform at 100%.

Let me show you what I’ve been doing with my “me” time over the past few days. Now it’s not an all day thing, but I’ve been trying to take an hour daily to work on things I actually enjoy.

My chosen activity this week has been transforming a piece of furniture that was gifted to me by my old roommate. He knows I love repurposing, or refinishing just about any piece of furniture. He decided one day that this was taking too much room up in his garage, so he knew he could drop it off at mine.

I wish I had taken a true “before” picture, but by the time I had remembered, I had already sanded the all black top….but you get the idea.

It’s a bar of sorts, I’m assuming. He painted it all black, because well, most of his furniture is black. However, he really didn’t have a space for it in his townhouse.

I’m not a fan of black. Never really have been. So, I decided I would sand the top just to see what was underneath.

It had some really  beautiful wood with wonderful grain. Did I mention, I sanded this by hand? Yeah…. once I started I couldn’t stop.

Since I loved the look of the wood once I sanded off most of the black, it reminded me of a farmhouse. I could picture this piece as a kitchen island in any kitchen really. On that revelation, I took myself to the local Home Depot to find a color deserving of this amazing piece.  FOUND IT!!

Hahaha…., Yep, I bought the sample size of paint for like $2.50 and it completed the entire table. SCORE! I should probably mention, I’m a cheap ass. (Not even frugal) I’m CHEAP!!

So, my total cost invested in this was $2.50 for the paint, and $3.83 for the wood wax to seal. I already had the sandpaper from another job….so It doesn’t count, right? Anywho….here is the final piece….

I would love to hear comments or see amazing transformations you’ve completed!!!20180129_125157

Do You Still Iron? Or Am I Alone?

Ughhhh…. I’m feelin a tad salty today! I’m not a fan of Friday’s. Why? Let me tell you…..

IRONING DAY!!!!

I save all of the ironing for Friday. I loathe it! It’s a necessary task at my home. Or is it?…….

Let’s discuss…. In this day and age, they make iron free dress shirts and slacks. I have begged and pleaded for my other half to get onboard with this concept to no avail. His clothing is the only attire that has to be ironed. He really makes no valid argument, so I wonder….why is he so set in his ways?

HIS MOTHER!!!!

His mother. She irons everything. No, really, everything. T-shirts, wash and wear clothing…things that you aren’t even suppose to iron. I should mention, she is old-school Italian. I give her a pass. With that being said…. it makes me feel inadequate, or judged when she sees a heaping pile of laundry, just waiting to be released of their wrinkles.

Why do I feel inadequate or judged? Is it my own insecurities of being less than? Do I stress myself at being perfect in the homemaker department? Do I feel the need to live up to the ridiculously high standards that his mother has achieved and succeeded at?

I know other ladies that put these crazy high standards to live up to in the forefront of their brain. It is the year 2018, yet we haven’t let go of the 50’s mentality. We have in so many other areas of life….but not the home.

Now don’t get me wrong…..I love taking care of my family. He works hard, and currently I’m not working outside of the home, so I really don’t mind doing the typical household duties. BUT IRONING IS NOT A NECESSARY HOUSEHOLD DUTY!! RIGHT??

So help me out folks…. please comment… please!!!!! I’m pretty sure if others side with me, he will see the error of his ways and jump on board with the wrinkle-free tagged clothing. So, until then….I’m off to set up the ironing board……

PLEASE HELP!!

NEXT TOPIC…..

So I have received many messages from non-bakers for recipes they can feel comfortable baking…foolproof if you will.

Yes, baking is a lot different from cooking. Baking calls for exact ingredients, exact measurements and precise timing. So after racking my brain for a moment, I recall this recipe from when I was a kid. Probably one of the first cookies I ever baked. Not much measuring involved, easy recipe, and yes…foolproof. I think I made this when I was 8,, so I have the utmost confidence, any mama, woman, child, dad, man can make this with great success!!

Easiest Snickerdoodle Recipe Ever!!

  • 1 boxed white or yellow cake mix (16.25 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoons of vanilla extract (If you don’t have, you can omit)
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, add cake mix, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix with hand mixer, or you may mix by hand as well. Set aside.

Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.

Drop a heaping teaspoon of cookie dough and roll into ball. Drop into the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a baking sheet about two inches apart. Repeat. It should make 2 dozen cookies. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and place on wire rack to cool. ENJOY!!!!

20180125_104059

 

 

Am I becoming my Dog or is my Dog becoming me?

Ever since I stopped working, I’ve noticed, now that I’m at home all day, my dog Coco has taken on my shadow. She wakes me up, but not before sleeping with me for an hour. She gets on the kitchen chair as soon as I sit down to drink my coffee and gives me the blank stare. I’m pretty sure she’d like some coffee as well.

The wonderful thing about her is she always seems to know when I’m having a bad day, or a good day. She’s loving and cuddly when I’m down in the dumps, but she’s hyper when I’m energetic.

I really believe our fur babies are so much more intelligent than they get credit for. I wish I knew what she was thinking on any given day.

I wish she could talk….. what would she say to me?

One thing for sure, she really brings a ton of love to our family. I’ve never been able to spend all day with any pet I have ever owned until now. I didn’t realize how this four-legged creature would become my confidant, my best friend, my sympathetic ear.

She never judges, holds grudges, complains, or argues.

It sure is going to be difficult returning to work…..

Here is my whoopie pie recipe. It’s very authentic and is surprisingly easy to make. This recipe makes 18 pies, but you can freeze them individually and they are fabulous!!

 

whoopie pie

Authentic Whoopie Pies

  • 2 Cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (I like Hersheys Dark)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of warm milk
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, cocoa, and baking soda. Mix and set aside.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, shortening and eggs. Beat for about two minutes.

Mix the dry ingredients with the egg mixture and add the warm water and milk. Beat at a medium speed for two to three minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the ingredients are thoroughly blended.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased non-stick cookie sheets or use parchment paper or baking spray on regular cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated oven at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until the center of the “cookies” spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the cookie sheets and cool a wire rack. (Filling Recipe Below)

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 egg whites
  • 3/4 cups of vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Filling
Beat the egg white until stiff then set  aside. Combine the other ingredients and beat vigorously for several minutes at a high-speed. Fold in the beaten egg white.

Spread a generous amount of filling on a completely cooled cookie and then top with another cookie. Can be frozen in plastic wrap individually!! Makes 18 total pies.

Dear Snow Plow Man……

Just another snow day in Nebraska. No school. No big deal. However, I’m stuck scooping snow today, as the snow blower won’t blow this heavy, wet snow. My other half is out-of-town working, so needless to say, I must do manual labor.

Did I mention I live on a corner lot with a 3 car driveway? Yeah. So, I get to work. I’m looking around for a sympathetic neighbor, but they too realized their snow blowers can’t handle the job either. All I can hear through my hoodie and hat is the scraping of shovels along the frozen concrete.

After about an hour, I look around to see I’m almost finished. I’m pretty proud of myself. It was a big job.

Suddenly, I hear a rumbling, a horrid scraping noise. I turn around, only to see a huge snow plow truck coming down the street. My heart is racing. Why? Cuz I fricken know what’s going to happen in just seconds. You know what’s going to happen.

YEP! SH*T DAM* SON OF A BISCUIT!!

My newly shoveled sidewalk is now buried in chunks of snow at least five inches deep!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!???

Now I know he saw me out their busting my A$$. Without a care in the world he continues to drive, leaving me frozen, mad, and a tear coming down my cheek.

Now I could’ve given up. I’m frozen. My feet can no longer feel. They are completely numb. If I go in now, I won’t come back out.  So, I grabbed my shovel and cleaned off the damn sidewalk. Your welcome neighbors with dogs. Your welcome kids in snow boots. Your welcome residents of my cul-de-sac, citizens of Papillion!

But mark my words….the next snow fall… I will look this guy in the eyes. He knows what he did, and………… offer him something warm to drink. Why? Because I’m a lady like that….. bitmoji936556502

Today I thought I would post a Granola recipe. I love making this not only because it fills the house with the best scent ever, but because it is pretty damn good. It’s a big batch, but it keeps for months in a sealed container. I added dried bananas to this, but feel free to add whatever dried fruits you like!  ENJOY!!!20171110_065736

Best Granola Ever Recipe (Printable Version) Best Granola Recipe Ever

  • 2 boxes of Rolled Oats (not the quick oats)
  • 4 cups of brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP of Cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP of Salt
  • 2 – 1/2 cups of vegetable oil
  • 2 – 1/2 cups of honey
  • 2 cups of raisins
  • 2 cups of dried cranberries
  • 2 cups of dried blueberries
  • 1 cup of slivered almonds

Combine Oatmeal, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt in a very large bowl. I use a stock pot.

In a 8 qt. sauce pan, combine oil and honey and heat until just hot. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Add the oil and honey to the oatmeal mixture and mix until completely blended. You will need to use your hands for this…(trust me)

Spread onto sheet pans in a thin layer lined with parchment paper, or use non stick sheet pans.

Bake at 275 degrees F for for 15 minutes. Stir and rotate. Bake for another 15 minutes. Stir and rotate. Bake for 15 more minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool. Break apart until crumbly.

Add dried fruit and nuts. Mix thoroughly. I like to shake everything together in a brown grocery sack. (A new one of course)

Feel free to add coconut, peanuts, sunflower seed, dried bananas and any other fruit that’s dried.

Store in a ziplock bag or storage container. I like to give as gifts in a mason jar with a cute label attached!!

Are you a Food Snob?

I was wasting time on Facebook when a post about foods that other countries think the United States need to get rid of came across my timeline. So, being the curious foodie, I had to check out the comments.

There were several items on the list such as Gravy and biscuits, microwave popcorn and various others.

Now, being from the Midwest…I had to chime in on a few. Like, who doesn’t love sausage gravy and biscuits? Seriously. It is one of my most favorite breakfast meals in the entire world! I might have starved as a child if it were not for the economical, sausage gravy and biscuits!

Next….I almost died. VELVEETA!!!! Now I get that this really isn’t cheese…but damn its tasty. There is something about a grilled cheese made with Velveeta. I use it in all kinds of recipes. I’m not ashamed to admit this.

Now I know some of you are going to turn up your nose. But to each his own. I feel the same way about Vegan diets.

But in this day of spewing hatred…do you really have to criticize my food? Needless to say, I will continue clipping my coupons for Velveeta…

Here’s a recipe for my Corn Husker Chicken Chowder.

I dare you to try it….I’m bragging…its fabulous! Guess what? It has Velveeta in it….

Even more shameful…. It was our best-selling soup at the bakery…take that food snobs!

Corn Husker Chicken Corn Chowder

  • 1 TBSP of vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Cups of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • 1 can of cream style corn
  • 1 – 16oz bag of frozen corn
  • 2 14 oz cans of Rotel tomatoes, regular or mild
  • 16 oz. box of Jalapeno Velveeta, cubed
  • 1 4oz can of diced green chiles
  • 3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 3 TBS of cilantro, chopped
  • 3 chopped green onions

In a 8 qt. pot, add oil and onions. Cook till translucent. (about 4 minutes) Add minced garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Add frozen corn and chicken broth. Bring to boil and cook for 4 minutes. Lower heat to medium low. Add Creamed corn, Rotel tomatoes, velveeta, green chiles and half and half. Cook until cheese is completely melted stirring occasionally. Add cilantro and green onions. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve!!

This soup freezes great and tasted even better the second day. Always a winner at tailgate parties!!

Printable Version –  Corn Husker Chicken Corn Chowder

bitmoji1090899988