Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homemade Chicken Broth

*UPDATE now tht I've made this broth several times I wanted to add a few things first of all I add a big pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of whole peppercorns. You can also add whole garlic cloves and fresh herbs if you like. I prefer to make mine fairly plain so I can use it in any recipe and add additional herbs depending on the dish. Also, I no longer use glass jars because I have had several break in the freezer. I have put jars in the freezer before but with no problems. I think the problem was not that they were overfilled but that they did not cool completely before I put them in the freezer. So I recommend that whether you use plastic or glass that you put the jars in the refrigerator so they are completely cooled before freezing. One last thing if you like your broth to be completely clear, you'll want to strain it through some cheesecloth.
I cannot tell you how long it's been since I started telling myself that I needed to use the chicken bones from the rotisserie chickens I regularly buy from Sam's or Costco to make chicken broth. Honestly I kept thinking that I couldn't commit myself to staying home for several hours while it cooked when in fact I'm always home for several hours. Anyway, I finally looked at the cock pot sitting in front of me, and I realized that I could make it in the crock pot. So, I did it! Such a cinch that I can't believe I didn't do it before. There's really no right or wrong way to do it, you can search for different recipes online, but I wanted mine to be as simple as possible so that I could use it in anything from soups to taco meat (yes, my recipe calls for a little chicken broth!) I just put all the bones with all the bits of meat from a rotisserie chicken I had used along with some coarsely chopped carrots, celery and onion in the crock pot and filled it about 2/3 full with water (just so the carcass was covered. I cooked it on high until it got hot and then put it on low and left it overnight. I strained it and let it cool and then put it in some plastic freezer containers and 1 jar(expansion MAY break the jar, but I wasn't super worried about it just be sure to leave plenty of head space). I will now do this regularly, it was SO easy and I'm super excited about homemade chicken broth as opposed to the can stuff!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Making Sense of Food Storage

Let's talk food storage! I've been trying to get a handle on my food storage since.....forever! One of my favorite speakers I've ever heard talk about food storage is Wendy Dewitt. She has practical food storage suggestions that anyone can do based on what your family likes to eat. I don't know about you, but food storage has always seemed so overwhelming to me. So I would end up just buying stuff from the cannery with no idea what I would ever do with it, but knowing that I could say, I have something in my food storage. When I heard Wendy speak it was like a light bulb finally turned on and I realized that you had to have a plan and you had to store foods that you could make into meals and that your family would actually eat, I know common sense right? Anyway, I am including a link to some you tubes of classes she's done, now be warned they are just someone videoing a class they are not professionally video taped. And I also included a link to her blog post where she talks about her system. I hope it helps make food storage seem more attainable and logical.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Taco Meat

I have been trying to eliminate a lot of the prepackaged mixes etc. I'm doing good in some areas, still lots of work to go in others. Several years ago I decided to make my own taco meat from scratch, it's SO easy and tastes much better than the little seasoning pack + you know exactly what you're family is eating no weird stuff! If you buy a lot of beef on sale and want to cook up several meals worth, you can just portion out the cooked meat and put it in zip top bags and put it in the freezer.

Here's the recipe I use:

2 t Oil ( Whatever you have on hand is fine)
1 Small onion minced
3 medium Garlic cloves minced
2 T Chili Powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4t cayenne pepper
1lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth (you can also use beef)
1 t brown sugar
2 t cider vinegar
Black Pepper

Heat oil over medium heat add onion, cook until softened, add garlic and spices cook about 1 minute, add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar and vinegar bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Old Navy Gift Card Deal

I was just loading coupons onto my Smiths Card and I found one of my favorites. $5 off $25 Old Navy gift card. If you like to give gift cards for Christmas or birthdays, this is a great deal for the obvious reason, but the reason I love this deal is because I buy them for future use. If you like to shop at Old Navy, you just got an instant 20% off, it's a gift card so there's no rush to use it, AND you can combine it with a coupon or discount because when you use it, obviously, it's just a regular gift card!! I bought some at Christmas when Vons had a similar deal, and I just used one the other day for Uniforms for my kids and I'll probably use the other one at Christmas. I'm not sure if you can buy more than 1 per transaction because it doesn't say on the coupon. I'll try and find out and let you know.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A couple of DIY Projects

 I am definitely a DIY person, I actually enjoy doing home improvement projects and you can save a lot of money while still sprucing up your house. Now having said that, I also know my limitations and I definitely will not take on a project that I know is out of my league because it usually turns into a DIY disaster and ends up costing more than hiring a professional in the first place. So I found 2 DIY projects on Pinterest that I wanted to try 1 was very successful and the other...not so much. So I thought I'd share my experience.

The first project was painting those shiny brass doorknobs and hinges. I've hated those things since we moved into this house 12 years ago. So, I found a couple of DIY bloggers who had spray painted the hinges and doorknobs, so I thought I'd give it a try. I bought the spray paint and got started. Well the spray paint is not cheap around $8/can if I remember correctly which sounds cheap, but then there's the nightmare of taking doorknobs and hinges off, painting waiting for them to dry etc. I only took one hinge off at a time which was good as far as not having to take the door all the way down but bad because doors don't shut properly with one door. That wouldn't have been a problem if we didn't have a 1 year old which requires us to keep doors shut. It started out okay and then it just turned into a headache. The 2nd nozzle on the 2nd can of spray paint broke after about 1/2 way through so now I'm 3 cans in which is $24 and I wasn't even done. After a week, I finally gave up and bought door knobs. I did finish the hinges, but in the end I bought doorknobs from Lowes for $8-$10 each (locks cost more) and it was worth every dime of the extra cash. The 1 door that Idid not replace is now chipping off after about 5 months. So, I personally did not find it to be cost effective. If you're going to do it, my advice is paint the hinges buy the knobs.

You can see the chipping on this door knob.

This is the store bought knob.

 So much better than that brass stuff even with the cheapie doors!

Now for the success story. I was so tired of those honey oak cabinets I could hardly stand it plus I got hair tint on the bathroom cabinet so I had to do something! I found this tutorial and followed it to the T and my cabinets look AWESOME! If I was staying in this house I would have done the kitchen, but I did the 2 bathrooms and it has held up great! It has been almost a year and lots of abuse from the kids and they still look great. Like any good DIY project it took time, but was really simple really the majority of time was just waiting for each coat of stain to dry. I highly recommend this project and be sure to follow the instructions.
  This is the before color of the cabinets

This is the after. Sorry for the horrible photography. Not my strong suit! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bread Pan

I posted a long time ago about the fact that I make my own bread and for those who haven't read that post, rest assured that I am not spending hours in the kitchen making bread that is just not the way I roll...I wish it was! Here's a link to my previous post and my favorite recipe. I just had this one serious dilemma, actually I have two serious dilemmas now, but I only have the answer to one, but I digress. The dilemma was that when I used traditional bread pans, and made sandwiches for my kids lunch the slices were too big. They were awkward for little kids and they didn't fit in the sandwich containers. So I found these bread pans at Amazon, and I love, love, love them okay I only have 1 because I can only make 1 loaf of bread in my bread machine which leads me to the 2nd dilemma and that is that I have to make bread every 2 days because that's how much bread we use during the school year. Anyway, I bought 1 to try it out and I would highly recommend it. The bread now fits perfectly inside the container and doesn't fall apart at the top(except when I forget that it's rising and it's 2 ft tall by the time I put it in the oven!)

I have the 10 inch which is the perfect size for the loaf that I get from my bread maker, but it also comes in 12 inch which would be great for a bigger loaf.