January 30, 2015

Make your own Pancake and Brownie Mixes

I've been on a stay-cation from work all week.  A much needed break for sure.  I've mainly been running errands, cleaning/sorting and organizing my house.  I've also been having lots of Netflix marathons.  (I started watching the 'Sons of Anarchy' and well.....I'm obsessed).

The other day I made my own cake mixes to have on hand when I need a cake mix and don't want to use those box mixes.

Today, I wanted to make some pancake mix and brownie mix so I have it ready to go when I want to use them.  I've been using my own pancake and brownie mixes for a while now.

I gathered some ball jars and tupperware.  (tupperware not pictured)

I then gathered up the ingredients and got right to it.  



Pancake Mix ( I did half a recipe)

-3/4 cup flour
-1 tbsp sugar
-1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix in a bowl with a fork until everything is combined.  Funnel into ball jar.

_________________________________________________________________________________


-1 1/4 cup flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-2/3 cup cocoa
-2 cups white sugar

Mix in a bowl with a fork until everything is combined.  Funnel into a large ball jar or tupperware.



Scooping some flour.

Mixing brownie mix.

I made 2 pancake mixes and 2 brownie mixes.

Both mixes only need the wet ingredients mixed in when I'm ready to use.  This makes things a little easier when I want to do some baking.  :)

Make your own Cake Mixes

The other day, I decided to make my own cake mixes.  I found this blog to make your own.  It's not that hard to do and is much better for you than those box mixes.  Better because you don't need all the ingredients that are listed on the cake mix box.  A cake mix is just flour, sugar and baking powder.  That's it....nothing more.....nothing less.

Here's the ingredients of a name brand classic yellow cake mix.

Wheat Starch, Salt, Dextrose, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored Withsugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- And Diesters Of Fats, Monoand Diglycerides), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate). Contains 2% Or Less O (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake).

Why so many ingredients??  Why so many ingredients that are hard to pronounce??  Why are we putting this stuff into our bodies?  I'm not using box mixes from a store anymore.  
I will make my own and know what's in them.

I grabbed my ingredients.

Flour
Sugar
Baking Powder


I also grabbed some clean ball jars and lids to store my cake mixes.


Simple Cake Mix (white/yellow/chocolate)

-2 cups flour
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/2 cup cocoa powder (only for chocolate)

Combine dry ingredients and store for later use.

To make cake:

Add 3/4 milk, 1 tsp homemade vanilla extract, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 3 eggs (just the egg whites for white cake) to the dry mixture.  Mix until everything is well combined.  Add to a greased pan and bake on 350 degrees.

*8/9 inch round= bake 20-25 min
*13x9 pan= bake 35-40 min
*cupcakes= bake 12=15 min
*bundt pan= bake 45-50 min


Cake mix (white or yellow)

Chocolate cake mix

Ready to put jarred.

I did 2 classic cake mixes and 1 chocolate.

Now they are ready to go when I need to make a cake.  Just grab a jar and mix up with the wet ingredients.  

You don't need to use a box mix.  I made 3 ingredient banana bread already and it tasted wonderfully with this cake mix recipe.

January 27, 2015

2015 Garden Update- #1

Back on January 17th, I started some seedlings inside.

Here's a picture of everything that I took last week when the sun was actually shining.  We've had a lot of cloudy and rainy days and so far 2 snow storms with just a dusting each.

I checked on everyone this morning and to my surprise.......a little green sprout.

I figured that I would see a sprout within a week and it was just a little over a week.  Close enough.  :)   How exciting right?  This is a green bean growing.  :)

Close up on my sprout.  :)

I came across this not too long ago and it's really cool.  It's a time lapse of a vegetable garden in London back in 2011.  Check it out!  It's neat.
video

January 26, 2015

New Things Monday

Sorry, that I haven't really stayed on top of my 'New Things Monday'.  Today I figured it was time for a new post.  

I just love the new Fiber One Mint Fudge Brownies.  I have heard about them.  But haven't found them until this past weekend at Super Target and also Wegmans.

I tried my first one today.  Sooooo decadent.
Picture taken from fiberone.com.


Everything I've tried from Fiber One is good.  I haven't tried anything that I haven't liked.  These brownies are probably my new favorite now.  And for a snack that's 90 calories.....yes please.

Homemade Lasagna

I made Lasagna last night for dinner.  I didn't follow a recipe.  I just did what I thought would work.

I used:

Lean Turkey Meat
Pork Sausage
2 onions (chopped)
2 bell peppers (chopped)
Can of Spaghetti sauce
W sauce
Black pepper
Italian Seasoning
Lasagna noodles
Mozzarella cheese (reduced fat)
parsley

I cooked up the turkey meat and pork sausage together with some W sauce, black pepper and Italian seasoning.  I added onions and peppers and let everything cook up for about 2 minutes.  I then added spaghetti sauce, more w sauce, black pepper, Italian seasoning and put the lid on it and let the sauce simmer.  I boiled some water and cooked the lasagna noodles.  Once the noodles were done and drained I then layered everything in a squared pan.

Layers:

noodles
meat sauce
cheese
noodles
meat sauce
cheese
noodles
meat sauce
cheese
noodles
meat sauce
cheese

I got 4 layers total.  Once I was done, I sprinkled some black pepper and parsley on top.  I baked on 350 for about 30-45 minutes until cheese was melted.

Once it was done I took out.  The edges browned a little more than I would have liked.  I should have out some foiled around edges maybe?  Oh well, it was still awesome tasting.

I was even able to pack away 4 tupperware containers each with a serving for lunches or dinner leftovers.  So yummy and filling.  It tasted just like lasagna.  I did good with just going with the flow and not using a recipe.

My husband said and I quote "That was the most perfect lasagna ever".  :)

Veggie Prep

I love bell peppers.  Remember my farmers market bell pepper deal I got over the summer?  Well, I only have one pack of frozen peppers left to use.  The last pack is in in long strips to use in peppered steak or peppered chicken.  I'll probably use the last pack later this week or next week.

I picked up a pack of peppers at Wegmans.  A pack of 6 peppers is $5.49.  It's not as cheap as the farmers market but it's winter and this is my only choice.  The 6 pack is much cheaper than buying individually.  To make things easier for the week and when I know I'm going to be using peppers I like to prep them in advance.  

I got 3 containers, washed the peppers, paired them and set everything up to begin chopping them.

I seeded all of them and then they were ready to cut up.

Pretty colors

All chopped up.  I put lids on the containers and have them in the fridge ready to use.  They should keep up to 7 days.

Cleaning, Stocking and Organizing the Pantry

My goal, this past weekend was to clean, stock and reorganize the pantry.  It needed help, badly.  
Just look how messy, sad and empty it looks in the picture below.

BEFORE:

I threw out the expired foods and put it in the trash and headed to Wegmans.

I figured since I was going for our weekly groceries that I would get some extra items so I could get the pantry stocked.  It was long over due.  

When I got home I was excited to put stuff away.  I had cleaned out the white tub on the 5th shelf before I left.  I store my Medifast bars in there and also Nature Valley bars.  (I like the Oats n' honey, dark chocolate and the Peanut butter bars).  I have a ton of them now.  They were on sale at Wegmans.  YAY!  :)  When stuff is on sale, it's a good time to stock up.
The two clear containers next to the white tub, I cleaned out earlier too.  The bottom one had expired Visalus stuff so I had thrown it out.  Now there's just lemonade mix, tea and hot chocolate mix.  
The container above has snacks.  Fiber one bars, Special K bars, Jif to go (best thing ever), Nature Valley oatmeal squares and some Wegmans cereal bars,

Here's my snack box.  :)

The next day, I went to Super Target.  I picked up some things I know I can get cheaper there.   For more savings, I also used my Target Mobile Coupons, Target Cartwheel, Regular Coupons and I got 5 cents each back on using my own bags.  (I used 6 bags which took off .30 cents)

Once I got home, I put everything away.  Now look at the pantry.  It's stocked!!

AFTER:

Here's a closer look at the top 3 shelves.  Yes, all labels need to face the front.  I'm OCD.  Even the milk in the fridge needs to face the front.  My husband makes fun of me.  It looks neater when the labels show.  (I know it's an OCD thing from the controlling husband in "Sleeping with the enemy").

I'm happy with how it looks right now.  Hopefully, the husband can keep it nice and not mess it up.  :)

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup No Bake Cheesecakes

On Pinterest, the other day I came across a pin for a Reese's Bottom Cheesecake.  It was easy and I only needed a few items.

You will need:

-Reese's PB Cups
-1 box original Jello No bake cheesecake
-Milk (I used Unsweetened Almond Milk)
-Reese's PB chips (optional)

Lay cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.  Place one peanut butter cup in bottom.

In a bowl, mix the cheesecake mix and milk according to box directions.  Mixture will become thick.  Spoon into cupcake liners on top of pb cups.

Refrigerate for about 1 hour.  I went to a party so I didn't finish them until the next day.

I used some of the crushed graham crackers (from cheesecake box) by sprinkling on top of cheesecakes.  Then I melted some pb chips on the stove.  I placed the melted chips in a ziploc bag with a decorating tip and then swirled melted pb chips on top of cheesecakes.

The top of the cheesecake was very soft.  It probably would have held better if they were frozen.
Still yummy though.



They are very good.  My husband thought they were delicious.  He loves to sample.  :)

I packed them up and took them to a friend to brighten her day since she loves peanut butter.  :)

Happy 50th Birthday, Desi

Nate's "work wife", Desi celebrated her 50th birthday this past weekend.  Nate volunteered to roast Desi.  She wanted a roast done.

The party was at Riverside Center.

Cute Cupcakes

There was lots of food.  Amazing pita chips, spinach dip, fruit, veggies, egg rolls, potstickers, ravioli, meatballs, roast beef sammiches, tea, water, cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, and cream puffs.

Here's the fabulous birthday girl with Nate.  (Theme was Great Gatsby, which was nice because we just wore the same thing we wore at Nate's Christmas party last month.).

I got a chocolate cupcake.  :)

Half way through the party, the hostess said back in the 20's the men would go to a room and smoke, gamble etc and then women would change their clothes.  So, she asked all the women to go into another room and change.  If you didn't want to change their was accessories you could borrow.  I got another pearl strand, pearl bracelet, peacock ring, and a headband.  

Here's the ring.  When I went to return it at the end, I told the hostess the ring was awesome and she said I could keep it.  YAY!  :)

Here's Nate and me.

The party was fun and Nate did a wonderful job with the roast.  He was soooo funny.  Everyone was cracking up.  It was a great night.

Garden Book

My BFF, K was getting rid of some cute journals.  One that stood out to me, had seeds packets on the front.  I asked if I could have it and she said yes.  I finally decided the other day what I was going to do with it.  I figured I would make it my garden 'scrapbook'.  I can put my garden notes, pictures, old seed packets, and garden labels.  :)

Cover of book....


Here's some garden labels from starter plants I grew.

Some empty seed packets.

I also organized my seed bank.

The book isn't finished....this will be on going with each garden season.  :)

Babysitting my neice

My sister, went out of state a few weekends ago.  My brother-in-law had to work and they needed a sitter to watch little E.  I said yes.  

This day was especially hard for me because it was the anniversary of my D&E of my last angel baby loss.  It's hard and I still think about my angel babies all the time.  Having a loss isn't something you ever get over or forget.

Moving on.....

When I got to the house, E was just playing with toys.  She then was hungry so daddy gave her a snack and she watched some Curious George on Netflix.  Daddy then left for work.  

We watched some more Curious George and then E wanted me to read some books to her.  I also gave her a little book that I got in a McDonald's Happy Meal (yes, I got a happy meal...LOL).  The book was for much older kids but there was stickers.  E wanted the stickers on her arms and legs.  LOL  She must get her sticker obsession from her Aunt Bonnie.  I was obsessed with stickers when I was little.  Stickers rock!!  

Here we are reading a hello kitty book.  I liked these pages because hello kitty was gardening.


E was getting sleepy so it was time for a nap.  She didn't fight it.  I heard her talking to her stickers.  LOL  She finally passed out and slept for 2 hours.  :)  While she napped, I worked on my Garden Book (more on that later) and flipped the TV channels.

E finally woke up and she was so talkative.  :)  We watched some Roseanne and then E wanted to color.



I then got down on the floor with her to color with her.  She would give me the crayon she wanted me to color with.

I said "Lay like me" and she did.  So smart. :)

E wanted some snacks so we went to the kitchen and I let her pick out what she wanted.

My BFF, Kristen came over.  We were chatting while E was finishing up her food and we looked over and she was smiling with her hands covering her ears.  We all laughed.  I guess we were being loud.  haha  Or maybe she was just being silly.

K and I wanted to get dinner.  We decided to go to Zoe's Kitchen.  My brother-in-law put E's car seat in my car before he left in case we wanted to go out.

We got to Zoe's and ate dinner.  E watched Curious George on K's phone.  She propped it up on the fruit bowl.  haha  SMARTY!!

We got back to the house and E watched some more on the phone and went through K's wallet.

Such a good little girl and I love every moment that I get to hang out with her.  :)