June 30, 2011

Laundry Soap Project- Meet Angie!

I’m so excited to be part of this review panel for the  Laundry Soap Project!

I was a little skeptical at first, because I was just so sure that there was nothing that could compare to store bought laundry soap. How could homemade clean as good as that wonderful smelly stuff I buy almost on a bi-weekly basis?

With four kids in the house and two adults, (one of which works in some pretty filthy places through the day), I need something that is strong enough to kick the stains without breaking the bank. I’ve used many other detergents before (Gain, Tide, All, Cheer) and they can be a bit pricey with as much laundry as we go through.
So I decided to give the homemade powdered version a shot. Can’t hurt, right? I found several recipes, and decided to settle on this one from http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/

Recipe for Powdered Laundry Soap:
12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

I wasn’t sure how many boxes of each ingredient I’d need, so I started with one of each. Turns out, it wasn’t enough at all. But I didn’t want to make another late night trip to Walmart to get more, so I decided to wing it. This is the recipe I ended up with:
1 76-ounce box Borax
1 55-ounce box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 2-pound box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
3-4 bars Soap (I used Irish Spring first time because I wanted the smell, and Ivory in the second batch I made)
Mix all ingredients well, store in a sealed tub or container. Use 1-2 teaspoons per load of laundry.
(All of the ingredients together cost roughly $12 at Walmart)

Honestly, this recipe worked amazingly. I tried it out the night that I made it and I kept taking the clothes out of the dryer to my husband and making him look at how clean they were, because I was in total shock that it actually worked. At this point, I will never go back to store bought laundry soaps. With as little soap as each load uses, I’m sure it will save some money.

Give it a try! You will NOT be disappointed!

*Want to join this project? Read more about it here* Thank You Angie for Joining up with My Side of Life and the other Mom's for this Project !!

Disclaimer:  I was not paid to do this post or reivew. These are my own personal opinions that I was willing to share for an honest review on My Side of Life.  
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June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Have I mentioned before how happy my peas are?

My garden is booming and exploding with vegetables, making me busy in the kitchen. I don't mind :)  

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June 28, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Make Some Playdough

 My kids go through Playdoh like crayons, one week we'd have 5 colors the next they were gone. No matter what, they just started to disappear one color after the next. Most of it dried up when the kids lost the tops to the tubs, while the other half was slowly left within the Playdoh toys themselves and dried up. Either way, all gone. After awhile I stopped buying it all together. I've made several recipes of Playdough and some of them just weren't that good. I like this one, it's easy and if you use hot water to begin with you don't even have to turn the stove on. It doesn't dry out as fast than the stuff you buy in stores either! :)

Recipe for Playdough

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
2 tsp. food coloring (I find 1 tsp.  works for a lot of the darker colors add 1tsp at a time and if you like the color, don't add more)
1 Tablespoon oil

Mix the flour, salt,  and cream of tartar in a med. pot. In a separate bowl , combine the water , food coloring and oil and then add to the flour mixture. Mix together , cooking over medium head while stirring. It should start looking like a globby mess until it forms a good ball in the center. Takes about 3-5 minutes all together. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until it looks like Playdoh. Store in airtight container or plastic bag.
 ** When the dough first comes out of the pot, it's hot, do not let the kids knead it. Wait till it cools down completely for them to use it.

Have some Fun :)

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June 27, 2011

Weekend Recap- Vegetable Frittata

The Zucchini is taking front run on the blog these days, there's just so much to pick from my garden.  It deserves it's own page, a dedication to Zucchini everywhere!
These were heavy and meaty ones, which had to be used quickly as the heat will just destroy them after they are picked. Besides making eight loaves of bread this weekend, I made a bunch of my Frittata to use up all of this zucchini.
My Mother in Law gave me a recipe last year for her Mushroom Zucchini Frittata, it was one of my favorites, but then I lost the recipe and she hasn't written it down since. After trying to re-create it about a dozen times I finally came up with something that stands up to hers.

Garden Fresh Vegetable Frittata


2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup  chopped Zucchini (broccoli works well too)
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion
6 egg whites
3 eggs
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste (1/4 teaspoons works)
Shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

*sometimes I add about half a cup of finely chopped carrots,

Directions *Preheat oven at 350 if cooking completely in oven, or preheat broiler to finish off the top and brown cheese*
 In a medium sized cast iron skillet heat oil over med. heat. Add broccoli, mushrooms, carrots if using, and onion. Cook for about 7-8 minutes or until vegetables are tender crisp, making sure you stir occasionally. If the onions start to over brown, reduce the heat.
 In a medium bowl whisk the egg whites, eggs, basil, salt and pepper together. Pour egg mixture into the vegetables in the skillet. Cook over med. heat. As mixture sets, run a spatula around the edge and lift just a little so any uncooked portion can run underneath. When mixture sets and the surface  is nearly cooked sprinkle with cheese and  broil for about 2 minutes or until the top is brown. Sometimes I don't  broil it, I just pour the egg mixture into the skillet and put the whole thing to bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350F or until it's set completely.


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June 26, 2011

Weekend Project- Get organized

Before the first day of summer even hits, I'm picking the zucchini daily. Just as the weather finally warms up, there's an over load , not that I'm complaining one bit. It's hard to get it all dealt with though sometimes. With the kids, I've had to find quick ways to cut my time in half in the kitchen.
 One sure way I've found that works every time is pre-assembling whatever it is I'm making. This works well with muffins, any quick breads, even cookies, make sure you label the zip-lock bag or use an index card with the recipe on it.

Take the zip lock bags and fill them with the dry ingredients to the recipe, In this case it was My Zucchini Bread store away from light and make sure they are air tight. I put my smaller bags in a bigger zip-lock bag as I make so much of them I need plenty pre-measured for baking day.
Once the zucchini starts coming in I can easily just toss the mix into the bowl and add my liquids. By doing so, I get up to 4 loaves of bread in the time it takes me to shred the zucchini and crack an egg. In other words, pretty much under 15 minutes. They freeze really well too, so we can enjoy the bread well past the last pick of the season.

My weekend was busy with dealing with Zucchini, eight loaves were made and most were all frozen. By the time the growing season is over I'll have plenty of bread stocked up, and that ice cream cake I made will be completely gone well before that too. Distracting thing isn't it? I should go eat that now....

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June 24, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday - Homemade Oreo Cookies!

  Confession time, so I feel kinda , sorta bad my kids didn't know what an Oreo was.  My kids have never eaten a store bought Oreo Cookie before. Nope, never. I've never bought any, honestly my last Oreo cookie was when I was a kid, and I didn't really like them unless I could eat just the middle out.
It's part of childhood though, to have an Oreo and dunk them into milk, just like it is to roast a marshmallow at the end of a stick before you smash it into a chocolate bar and graham cracker. I mean, who was I to not let my kids enjoy a childhood all time classic cookie that everyone has had!?

   After a good friend Kelli came across ,this recipe  of homemade Oreo cookies, I knew I just had to make them! Not only to give the kids a taste of my past, but to swing them into the all time classic cookie era. It's a must! You cannot, not make these cookies!  I couldn't believe how much they tasted like the real Oreo cookies. Now my kids know what they are, only Homemade style!!

1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 C sugar
1/2 C plus 2 T butter, room temperature
1 large egg

1.In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.
2.Beat in the butter and the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
3.Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough.
The recipe originally posted said an average of 40 cookies, but I make mine bigger , and it never comes out to be the same. Strange thing though it's always even on the amount of cookies, who am I to complain? Ha :)
4.Bake for 9 minutes at 375 F. Set on a rack to cool.

Filling Ingredients-

1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.Place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla.
2.Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
3.To make a cookie, pipe teaspoon-sized blobs of cream into the center of a cookie using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip. (I put the filling in a ziplock bag and cut off the corner to fill these easier. My kids also enjoy to spoon the filling on themselves, although most of it ends up in their mouths!)
4. Sandwich the cookie with filling with another and press, don't bother setting it down as you know you just want to dunk it in a tall glass of ice cold milk. Eat another cookie before they disappear!


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June 23, 2011

Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon Review

The 2007 Gilgal Cabernet is made in the cold Golan Heights in upper Galilee. Aged in French oak barrels for a year this Cabernet can age nicely up to 6 to 8 years after harvest.  Golan is considered to be Israel’s premier wine growing region due to its higher altitude, it's weather and the soil composition of volcanic basalt,  which give a unique character to  the wines of Gilgal.

  Pairing up nicely with grilled steak, my favorite or even some good aged Cheddar this is a wonderful wine to enjoy with friends or family. The wine has a fruity flavor, in no way over powering though. The taste is Mild with blackberry and cherry, you get a nice all around taste of it's flavoring and the hints of spice in it. I enjoyed it, my husband said it was tart but I didn't taste any tartness at all. We often always have two different opinions on wine, so it's hard to get tastes down, but he did mention after a few more sips he could taste the berry in there somewhere.

 I'm no expert on wine and won't ever claim to be one, but what I always look for is something that holds flavor, is balanced and doesn't have a kick in the beginning or in the end. I enjoy the taste to be well rounded, even or as they say "full bodied", The 2007 Gilgal did not disappoint me.  I look forward to trying the Chardonnay later this week as the Cabernet won me over.

You can check out the different wines on their site, the 2009 Gilgal Chardonnay ($15.99), 2007 Gilgal Merlot($15.99) -I love Merlot- The Gilgal Brut ($18.99), and the 2007 Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon ($15.99).

*Disclosure-  I was given the mentioned products listed above from Gilgal Wines , in order to write an honest review. I didn't receive any other compensation. Any and all opinions are my own. Major thanks to Gilgal and their wonderful wines! **

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June 22, 2011

June 21, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- The Muppets!!

My gosh I used to love the Muppets as a kid! Guess what's coming Novemeber 23rd this year?

Take a look!

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June 20, 2011

Weekend Recap- Mom's are to blame, Dad's are the Hero's

I think we melted this weekend, nope correction,  we're still melting.

You know how grumpy kids are when they get too hot? Ick, if I could pass on something to deal with that would be it. Cranky hot kids are just not happy. Even worse, there's just not much you can do about it. We don't have air conditioning, but honestly we can live without it no big deal. We have a small pool, I even bought a sand/ water table that I fill with water and the kids are content for a good half an hour before the fun runs out.
Ice pops are a must around here, though they melt quicker than my youngest ones can finish them off. The ice cream cake I made for Father's day was eaten for dinner, shame on me for that one. No one was hungry, no one wanted anything but ice, and to do nothing. (which honestly I was happy about, this means Mommy gets to do nothing too!)
Each day it reaches over 100 degrees, I watch my smiling kids turn into little crazy beasts. Their little lips curl up like they are snarling at me every once in awhile as if I controlled the weather all together. Even when I pointed out I had nothing to do with the weather, they still pointed and jabbed their fingers at me. "Mom, make it cooler!"  Sure, I'll get right on that kiddo, let me snap my fingers!
They tripped, stubbed toes, got angry with each other over everything and anything,  and finally to top it off started fighting over which fan was theirs and how you were to not stand within ten feet of it or else. In which I was blamed for not getting enough fans to cool them off.  It's harder to deal with them when it's this hot, because there's just so little you can do about it. This weekend  was a tad bit crazier than normal to say the least all because of the heat, but I did learn something from my kids .

1. I'm supposed to control the weather.  Got it
2. My kids turn into monsters when they get too hot. Double and triple got that!
3. I'm to blame just because and there's nothing I can do to reverse it. Not fair, but  I totally get it. ha Besides, someday they will end up thanking me anyways so, it evens out :)
4. Dear Husband gets to be the hero when he can't take the heat anymore and buys an a/c unit.   I can totally deal with that and must agree he is a hero!  That's what Dad's and Husband's are for :) Now he can install it. ha

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June 19, 2011

Weekend Project- Laundry Soap, DIY!

Loads, and Loads a day. I have to stay on top of the laundry or else it takes over my house! I'm always washing something, sometimes I think I work at a laundry mat. Unless that is if my kids stay clean past noon and we avoid any and all mud, water,  or sauce, ketchup, juice, milk, glue, glitter, toot paste, sun screen , and no one falls on the ground. In other words, they don't stay clean till noon, so our average is 2 full loads a day to keep on top of it.( which can and sometimes is always broken into three smaller loads)

Now just think of the laundry soap that has to be used. I used to have to buy soap nearly every other week. Didn't matter if it was concentrate, or a big huge bottle, tough stains need pre-treating, fully soiled clothes need pre-wash, treating and double rinsing. The soap just disappears, and it adds up very fast.

Since we've been trying to cut costs on things that make up a bulk of our bills, it came to a surprise that Laundry soap was something that we nearly always had to buy, along with softener and dryer sheets. It started to make me cringe, something that we average out to daily use was adding up way too fast. Which brings me to the DIY project. Make your own Laundry soap!

This project is an on going thing. I've recruited a few of my friends to help out with this. So while I will share the recipe I use today, I will be posting about this a couple more times, it's turned into the Laundry Soap Project.  You will hear from some other Mom's that have made the soap, how it holds up and how they compare it to the soap they used to buy.
*Want to join the project? Email me - mburbage@sbcglobal.net Or just comment below, I'd love to hear from other Mom's trying this out. (or any other recipe for soap you would like to share!)

The recipe I used for Liquid Laundry soap came to be about $ 0.03 per load .

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap ( Ivory and Zote will also work)
½ cup washing soda (found mine at amazon.com)
½ cup borax powder
2 gallons water
Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda (NOT baking soda) and the borax. Stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into a 2-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and stir. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours until it gels. Use a ½ cup detergent per load of laundry.
Once you start using it, it looks like runny eggs almost, but that's ok. It's been super hot here so mine is partly gelled and then really runny underneath the bulk of gel, it still works perfectly for us. As long as it set up to gel over night it's good to go.
  You only use about 1/2 cup per load and honestly I've used less and seen some good results. It also leaves my clothes smelling super fresh, (without using any softener and or dryer sheets) I've even noticed the towels are softer so, I'm pretty happy with this mixture. Adjust the amount to your needs or how you see fit, but 1/2 works fine for mud soaked clothes in this house, that's a huge difference to using nearly a full laundry soap cup (that came with store brand) plus pre-treating AND an extra scoop of powdered laundry boost.

**Stay Tuned for the Laundry Soap Project! Hear from some other Moms using both powdered and liquid homemade Laundry soaps! **

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June 17, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday- Homemade Graham Crackers

I've made crackers before but this was a new dough for me. While the other was more moist this seemed a lot more crumbly. I happened to have lost the other one though, and all I do remember was it took pastry flour. Which I don't have. Found this one today in a small little Church cookbook and it looked simple enough.

The dough came out to be almost like a coffee cake topping, really crumbly, even after adding a tad more milk it still stayed that way, unless you grabbed a glob of it. I took the chance and just rolled it out carefully. It does crack at the edges, but you can easily form it back together. Far less fragile than it really looks and easier than pie crust in my opinion. (it's still fragile though take it easy) 

Graham Crackers

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 salt
4 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoon milk
dash of vanilla
cinnamon sugar.

Mix together all ingredients (but the cinnamon sugar) Place on cookie sheet and gently roll out.(I rolled it about 1/4 of an inch or less, and formed the edges so they weren't cracked. )  Sprinkle with Cinnamon sugar and pat gently into surface. Deeply Score dough into squares.(I used the jagged edge of a pie cutter, worked perfectly.)

 Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting through crackers.

Turned out yummy! They taste very good, now I can make the smores I wanted without having to go buy any crackers at the store! ha

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June 16, 2011

Garden Update

The garden is bursting now that the weather finally turned into Summer. For awhile there I wondered if we would see the sun ever again. Here is a quick look at my Garden!

Beans are coming in!

Picking Zucchini daily too!

This is the most I can fit into a picture. Taken from the left side, hard to see everything but in a few more weeks it'll be a forest of green!

This  Bean and Pea project turned out perfectly, every time I look at it, I'm amazed it turned out so well! Looked pretty neat! Peas are coming in a lot as well. Happy Thursday everyone!

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June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- The very last Salsa!

It's my very last Salsa from last years canning.  :( After thinking I had eaten the last one over a month ago I found this, which made my day, but It looks so lonely. So sad.

I better eat it fast so it doesn't get depressed or anything.

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June 14, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Cars 2

It's almost here!!! Oh My kids are getting excited and yet frustrated every time they see a commercial for Cars 2. They keep asking "Mom, when is it ever going to be out, it's been like a billion days now!" Ha  Well A billion days now is coming closer and closer. Car's 2 races into theatres everywhere in Disney Digital 3D and IMAX 3D on June 24th!
Here's some clips :)

I love Mater :)

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June 13, 2011

Spoil Dad -Flex Neck Utility lighter Review

Zippo Flex Neck Utility Lighter
   I was lucky enough to review a Zippo Flex Neck Utility lighter over the past weeks. The lighter wasn't much different than any other lighter we use so there honestly wasn't any difference lighting the charcoal grill which we use it for most often.
   It is wind resistant which this weekend was fairy windy and it held up to that test. My Husband said "It's just fancier." when I asked to compare to others he has used. I agree, it's just fancier, but I do like it. For a couple reasons.
 One reason,  I don't have to tip my candles to light them, with the flexible neck of the Zippo I can move the felx neck  so I can simply reach up to the ones on my fireplace. I also like even though my husband doesn't that it's not as easy to light with one hand. My reasoning behind this is if my kids (though I would never leave it in their reach) got a hold of it, it's super hard to get lit unless they press two buttons.  (smaller hands means harder to do)
My husband said unless you are in the habit of leaving things like that down within reach you shouldn't have it to begin with, and second, the adults are the ones to use it, not kids. So in that perspective yes, it's not as easy to light, but I do like the feature as you just never know. Our other lighters are super easy to light, but they also have a push button, where it slides, it gets stuck once in awhile, which leaves the flame on. The Zippo does not, yet another reason I like the two button feature. There's also a way to control the flame, you can lower or adjust it to higher for whatever you need.

Would I recommend the ZIppo Flex Neck Utility lighter? Yes, I would. I like it's design, it's safety feature and it doesn't flick out with the slightest of winds (or movements) . You can pick up one yourself at Zippo.com , you'll find the many different lighters along with the Outdoor line where the Flex Neck Utility lighter is listed at $ 19.95.

Butane Fuel
The lighter does take Butane fuel, which you also need to buy. It does not come full, so you must fill it yourself which is easy to do. The instructions are listed inside the package. You need to check the level by the fuel indicator before each use as well. I'm not sure how long it lasts we've only used it a for a short amount of time, so I will follow up! 

Check out Zippo.com and all the other lighters they carry!

**Disclaimer- I was given the mentioned products listed above in order to write an honest review. I didn't receive any other compensation. Any and all opinions are my own. Thanks Zippo.com! **

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June 12, 2011

Weekend Project- Liquid Hand Soap

My personal Facebook has been flooded with friends trying out powdered laundry soap. While I have done this for awhile myself it got me thinking of how else you can save by making something yourself. With four kids the laundry does add up, but we get even more dirty hands around here as well, so I looked up hand soap.
  I checked out 10 recipes for hand soap and wanted one that could  be made easily without anything crazy in it. I am very selective of my soaps, as some of my kids react to certain types. Most of the liquid soaps found  in the stores are heavily over scented which is something I do not care for. The other factor is I don't find liquid hand soaps for sensitive skin either (or at least in my area). Lotions, yes, bar soaps yes, even shower soaps, just not the liquid everyday hand soap.

 The recipes  found had 3 main ingredients in them,  while others had ingredients like honey, added colors, scents and softeners.  Since I don't want to add coloring, or scents and the bar soap I use softens the water anyways, I cut all of those out. I didn't want honey either, but do plan on trying it out later on. Using just the base ingredients, I put together my own hand soap. Two batches were made ,  Pictures shown are with  the Dove Pink bar, the one made with Dove Sensitive Skin was white and didn't really show up too well.

Ingredients for Liquid Hand Soap-

 -1 cup grated bar of soap, any will do, choose your favorite
-2.5 quarts water
-1 tablespoon glycerin

 You will also need :
- pan
-measuring cup
-hand mixer
-container to hold the soap while it cooled (I used 3 quart sized jars)
-soap dispenser (picked mine up at the dollar sotre)

Mix soap, water and glycerin together in a large saucepan over a low heat.
Stir occasionally until the soap has dissolved and it looks smooth. Takes only a few minutes unless you used cold water.

Let the mixture cool overnight until cooled. The mixture should be slightly thick. Blend with a hand mixer till it runs smooth. Store in a seal able jar, or dispenser.
You can even use this as body soap, as all it is liquid bar soap! The Glycerin I used was vegetable based which can already be used on your skin safely. All in all this is a great way to stretch your dollar and the soap. It makes around 2 and a half quarts of soap.

The total cost of making = $ .70 for 2 and a half quarts, OR (  $ .28 per quart or $ .09 per ounce )

( $ .50 cents for a bar of soap , $6.87 for the glycerin which is 16oz <32 tablespoons> 1 tablespoon = .21 cents + the soap .50 = .71 divided by the amount made comes to $ . 28 per quart! )

 How about those numbers?! :)
Happy Soap Making!
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June 10, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday- Coffee Cake

I love this coffee cake, it's super easy and I throw different things in it all the time.Though the recipe doesn't have added fruit, I tried it once and have never gone back to plain coffee cake.
 If I have extra berries and just not enough that will go already for a snack for the kids I make this cake. I top the berries off on the batter before putting the brown sugar topping on it, making a little go a long way.  They enjoy it different ways, their favorite is with almonds and blueberries. I don't add cinnamon though as I don't really think it needs it in the topping.

Coffee Cake (this came from an home style Amish kitchen Cookbook)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg beaten
3T butter melted and cooled

 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup chopped nuts, or almonds
1Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon softened butter
2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

in a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix together the milk egg, and butter. Pour the milk mixture all at one into the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Pour batter into a greased 8 inch glass pan.
 Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over the batter. Cook in a preheated 375 oven for 20-25 minutes.

This is the same coffee cake , only after I poured the batter I sprinkle less than a cup of blueberries it, then topped it off with the brown sugar topping. I've also done with with raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Tastes yum!!

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June 9, 2011

Mango Salsa Pork Chops

My Kids don't enjoy Mango Salsa at all, they give me weird looks and ask why on earth would I make Salsa out of fruit. They miss the point of trying something new , but I'll give them a point for the confused looks they gave me. Hard not to laugh when their faces squash up and they look all serious. Since they won't eat the salsa though,  I decided to put it with something they would eat, and I knew would taste good. Pork Chops, you got to love the tang and spice that keeps this dish juicy. Grill it, slow cook it, stove top it, or bake it. Up to you!

Mango Salsa Pork Chops

3 medium ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
1-1/2 cups diced seeded plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green chilies (optional)
1/4 cup each diced green, sweet red and yellow peppers
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
4-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
4-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon sugar (sometimes I leave this out)
Pepper and salt to taste if needed
6 bone in, pork chops.

Mix it all  the salsa ingredients together and set in fridge to chill. You can use it right away but I like it chilled and the juices all mix together for a better taste. Place the pork chops in a lined baking dish and spoon salsa over top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350 or until chops are done. Top with extra salsa on the side.


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June 7, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Self Pollinate your plants

Tomatoes self pollinate, but other plants  like squash, zucchini, cucumbers, melons of all sorts need the bees to pollinate them for growth. Sometimes there aren't any bees though and you need to pollinate the plants yourself. It's easy and quick you just need to know what you are looking at.

I pollinate my squash and zucchini even when we have bee's around. Mostly though, during the last weeks of May and into June it's rainy and the flowers end up closing before the rain stops, which means there's no squash coming our way.  The bees miss the action so I do it myself. This is how I ended up with my ZucchiniZilla , maybe I can grow another mutant squash :) (make sure you stay within the same species of squash if you are thinking of saving the seeds. If you cross pollinate outside the species you won't get the same "parent" plant seeds)

 What you need to know is where your females are and where the males are. There are two easy ways to tell. First is the stems.

A Male blossom which are more common and tend to be the first to sprout have a long thin stem. A Female blossom already has what looks like a fruit growing, this is the ovary. You can also tell them apart by the blossom itself. Males have a stamen which holds the pollen. The female has a round stigmata in the center.  

In order to pollinate you take a paint brush or a cotton swab so you can brush the pollen off the male and onto the female. If you want to save the seeds for next year, you need to tape off the female before the flower opens. Wait till the male opens then take the tape off or whatever you used to close the female and pollinate it. Close it up again so there's no cross pollinated, this way you can ensure the seeds for next year, just dont' forget to mark it so you know which one needs to be saved. You can pollinate more than one male to a female , so you'll double the chances of fruit. Now, Go be a busy bee and pollinate something :)

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