Category Archives: Tips

How To Keep Your Herbs Crisp

How To Keep Your Herbs Crisp

It may seem obvious to some of you and not so obvious to the rest.

After growing my garden and running into the problem of an overgrown, wretched view of a garden, I knew I had to come up with a way of storing my produce better. I say “wretched” because it really was and still is. It’s totally overgrown and I did nothing to help in this manner. Not because I didn’t care, but because I’m NEW to gardening. It’s a lot of work and they are finicky little things. If you don’t treat them right, they wont treat you right. I would rather have it overgrown than not producing at all!

Some people have the gift of gardening and I envy these people.

Anyway, after much thought and limp celery, I found my solution. It’s pretty simple ya’ll. The best way to keep your herbs and vegetables crisp is to keep them stored in the fridge in some water. Almost as if you create a beautiful bouquet of flowers with your produce.

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Pick your produce of choice…

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And place in a cold cup of water. Store in the refrigerator.

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Viola- they stay crisp!

Just remember, nobody likes limp celery. As soon as you notice the limp begin, immediately salvage your produce by soaking the stalks in a cup of water. They will liven and brighten and crisp right back up.

Solution-Solved

Black Beans

Most people tend to purchase canned beans out of convenience but do you realize how easy it is to make them yourself? Seriously folks, this method of purchasing canned beans needs to stop. Making your own is more flavorful, healthier and honestly too easy not to partake in–let the crock pot do all the work.

This may be the shortest post of your life, all because making homemade beans are too simple, there really isn’t much to say. So lets get started…

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Beans (Today I used black beans)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Water
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 TSP Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 TSP Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 TSP Italian Seasoning

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and turn to high heat. Cook for 4 hours. Low heat for 6-8 hours.

By this point you’re house will be smelling amazing and you will be thankful you took the bold step to make your own beans.

These beans are great as a simple side dish or mixed in something such as spicy black bean burgers (hint hint).

They taste so good you literally can eat them by the spoonful. I say this because I have done this, or shall I say I partook in the spoonful eating myself mmm about an hour ago. :) Once you partake in the simplicity of making delicious, flavorful beans, you will say goodbye to canned beans forever. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye”… I thought about leaving the last part out as I was at a loss on how to spell auf Wiedersehen. But than the song got stuck in my head and by the time I searched for the lyrics, viola, I found it and had to say it. 

Now I’m sure the song will be stuck in your head, so go dance around your kitchen with joy, that you my friends can stop purchasing canned beans as well.

Auf Wiedersehen~

How To: Keep Your Bacon From Shrinking

“Bacon Bacon Whose Got The Bacon?” Are you looking for your bacon? Did you cook a pound of little piggies only to be left with 1/4 pound? Does your bacon disappear in the oven and shrivel up to nothingness? Are you scrounging around wondering what just happened?

How does that work? Prior to cooking, you gaze at the longest slice of bacon known to man and you simply could not wait to get your hands on that little piggy. Post cooking that little piggy, you find yourself questioning your piggy and where it ran off to.

For years I have cooked bacon and felt like all that remained was a pile of grease with a couple crispy crumbs. Is there a bacon cure? Can this puzzle be solved? Is the mystery thief losing this bacon battle?

Never again will you wonder where your bacon thief came from and why he ate 90% of your delicious bacon.

No more bacon thief.

How to:

Lay bacon on a foil lined baking sheet or broiler pan.

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Douse your bacon with water using a squirt bottle. Literally douse it. This will help keep your bacon in tacked and will help keep the grease from shriveling up your bacon-ater.

Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes**

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**Note: If you like your bacon crispy, turn the broiler on and broil for 1-2 minutes after baking for 10 minutes.

You will be so happy to see that all your money is saved when you go to eat your bacon; half the package wont be missing.

“Move over bacon something meatier’s coming in!”

And that my friends, is your cure to shriveled up bacon!

Homemade “Pam” Nonstick Spray

Homemade “Pam” Nonstick Spray. This is an important facet to your cooking that must be addressed. How often do you use nonstick spray? Almost everyday in our household. Do you know what chemicals lay within this simple spray? Do you know what you are blindly putting into your body as well as your families?

I will give you a simple transition to kick the nonstick spray to the trash and make your own. Don’t resort to butter or coconut oil as you will be adding hundreds of calories without even realizing it; directly into your prepared dish.

Instead of using butter or coconut oil you will save time and money by making your own nonstick spray. Don’t buy Pam Spray as you will be purchasing preservatives and chemicals when you can easily make your own at home!

Speaking of chemicals, after reading a couple different articles on the ingredients in Pam cooking spray, come to find out they use an ingredient called Propellant which also resembles propane and nitrous oxide. Neither of these are chemicals I prefer to eat with my eggs and bacon in the morning. Yikes. This actually defeats the purpose of homemade meals when you still have the chemicals floating around in forms such as this.

I reluctantly admit that I used to purchase the store bought product without thinking twice. When I ran out, I started to think about it and if it really was worth purchasing. To be honest nonstick spray works really well. I never had problems with anything sticking so I was a little doubtful about transitioning over. I thought I would start by using butter or coconut oil and wiping down the pan, but when I realized how much I bake and cook, I was using a lot of butter (and calories) just to create a nonstick surface. I began making my own nonstick spray and love it and am happy to see my butter stay put in the fridge rather than adding hundreds of calories to simply keep the food from sticking. :)

Please, any of you out there who have any form of Pam Nonstick Spray, toss that sucker in your trash and make your own today! All you do is take equal parts lemon juice and olive oil (or vegetable oil), whichever you prefer and combine in a mini spray bottle. Label and place in refrigerator. Lemon juice needs to be refrigerated once opened otherwise it will spoil almost immediately.

When you go to use it, shake well. This works like a gem and you can rest easy knowing you are avoiding any propellant in your homemade meals.

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Those 30 seconds it takes to create this product is something worth doing!

Moment of Truth: When preparing homemade meals, stick as close to it’s original form to help avoid preservatives. These days it takes a lot more work to avoid added ingredients but your body and family will thank you!

How to Hard Boil Eggs

How to hard boil eggs.

I didn’t realize that it can be a struggle to peel the shell and not have the yoke fully cooked. After talking with a friend, I decided to share my little secret for the perfect hard boiled egg. No problems peeling and no under cooked egg.

I didn’t realize you could actually buy pre-boiled eggs from Costco. I was actually shocked when I heard this and figured it was time to share these simple directions as I boil eggs weekly for snacks throughout the week.

As I was talking with her, she explained that she can never get the eggs just right; a little too soft or too difficult to peel.

So… here ya go. The no fail hard boiled eggs. If you follow these directions you shouldn’t have any problem peeling the shell. I haven’t and would be surprised if you did.

In a large pot place cold eggs. Use COLD water, enough to cover the eggs. (This will keep them from cracking)

IMG_4542Bring to a roaring boil. 

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Once boiling, turn off heat, cover and set the time for 13 minutes. (Leave the pot on the hot burner) 
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When timer goes off, rinse with cold water and place in the refrigerator. 
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Enjoy your delicious eggs that will cook without fail. 
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Vegetable Wash

Do you ever stand in the produce isle trying to pick the perfect apple or tomato and “uh-oh” there it goes rolling down the hill onto the floor. You quickly gather it and put it back for the next person to grab.

That being said, we’ve all been there and we’ve all done it! It’s important to wash your produce really well when you get it home from the store. There are many traps of germs along the way. Double bagging produce is a great trick. Even if there is a peel around the item you are purchasing,  you still want to bag it. Cutting into it can drag the germs to in the inside of the item if not washed. IE onions, oranges, avocado, lemons, limes and tomatoes.

Another disgusting trap of germs are the conveyor belts at the checkout line. These belts hold many germs from feces to bacteria from raw meat and much more. Carts are a great area for bacteria to continue to grow and fester. All of these little things we don’t think of add many germs that our bodies now have to fight if we don’t protect ourselves from them.

Making a point to simply wash your produce when you return home is a great tool to better protect yourself and your little munchkins who travel to the store with you and touch everything.

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My simple vegetable washing tool is filling the kitchen sink (clean, of course) with water and adding about 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 1/2 tsp baking soda. Drop vegetables and fruit into the water and toss multiple times. Let rest for five minutes to allow the vinegar to coat the outer layers killing any and all bacteria. It’s simple, cheap and will leave your sink dirty from all the junk you were blind to prior to washing them.

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The sink was this dirty just from strawberries and blueberries. Makes you think twice about not washing now doesn’t it? :)

Here is an snippet from the  Dr Oz show. I saw this and thought it was good to share. His wash is a little different and that is great too. I simply prefer to wash in bulk in the sink for convenience reasons.

This is a great video to watch. Video-Here

Smokey BBQ Rub

I made my own rub the other night and used it on Mahi and Pork loin in the past. It was fabulous. Click below for the Mahi and Pork recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tp garlic
  • 2 tsp salt/pepper
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp backyard bbq (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 4 tbsp. EVOO

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl OR If making to keep on your spice rack, mix everything together EXCEPT garlic and EVOO until time of use.

*Mahi- Recipe

**Pork- Recipe

You can get little spice containers to make your own spices and have extra on hand. I do this for taco seasoning and Johnny Seasoning because mine don’t carry the MSG ingredients! :)

Cheese Please!

I absolutely love cheese. While I was pregnant I was so sick I couldn’t really eat much nor did anything sound good when I went to eat. The only things I could stomach were the little tangerine “cuties.” I went through boxes of these, literally 15 or more boxes during my first trimester. I would pop 5 at a time. I loved them so much and was so happy they made my tummy feel better. Morning sickness is truly the worst; nothing can actually describe these feelings. The only thing that brought light to my life during these 13 weeks of misery was my cuties and of course knowing I had a little baby I was growing. If you are pregnant or have been pregnant you are the only women who truly know how this morning sickness actually works. It’s a weird concept that eating actually helps the sickness, yet the thought of eating may cause you to throw up, while throwing up makes you not want to eat again. This vicious cycle can’t be tamed.

As my tummy started to settle and my cravings picked up, I began turning my appetite towards cheese as well as my cuties. I have always had a deep love for cheese even prior to pregnancy. I would buy blocks of medium or sharp cheddar cheese and cut chunks and melt them in the microwave. I have pictures of eating my cuties and cheese while my husband downs a bowl of ice cream. I would literally eat this melted cheese with either a fork or my fingers, it was so delicious. You hear the rumors that the husbands gain along with the wife; well I have proof that my weight was not ice cream induced but his most likely was. :) The thought of melted cheese right now actually turns my nose up, but I must say at the time it was fantasy land.

Now that I am post pregnancy I still love my cheese; cold cheese that is. I’ve found that Fred Meyers is one of the best places to buy block cheese for less. They have a refrigerator section at the end of the isles full of cheese. They have a big sign above that says “CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE.” They have sharp, medium, Pepper jack, Monterrey, and swiss. These are decent size blocks that are roughly $2.30-2.50 each. They almost always have these cheese piles and you can get a variety for a great deal.

Trader Joes also has cheese for an impeccable price. They have authentic cheese and delicious soft cheese for a good deal. We loaded up on cheese from there for our wedding and had many different platters full of many different tastes.

Here’s a few pics:

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Display case for Hors’ devours

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Cake Pops for the guests!

Fred Meyers and Trader Joes, I’ve found have the best bang for your buck for block cheese. Costco on the other hand has the best deal for shredded cheese. I buy the double bag for $12-15 depending on the kind. I have a container I use for the fridge, and constantly fill that with the remaining cheese I keep in the freezer. It’s a way better deal to purchase this in bulk rather than buy a couple smaller 8 oz or 16 oz bags from your local supermarket. This will last you a long time even if you are a household such as mine that enjoys their cheesy meals.

How to pick an avocado

How to pick an avocado

Pick one that has the stem on it…
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Pick the stem off. If its green below you have a perfect avocado. If it’s brown it’s rotten or stringy inside. If it’s really speckled it’s also going to be really stringy inside.

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Rotten-stringy inside

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Perfect Avocado!

Thw harder the avocado the longer you have til it ripens. If you need it sooner, go for green and soft.
This old trick has never let me down.

Buttermilk

Making your own buttermilk is entirely too easy to not share. I honestly don’t see a point in purchasing buttermilk when you can easily make your own.

Here’s how:

Buttermilk is something I never have on hand. An easy trick to make your own buttermilk is to place the milk in the proper measuring cup leaving a tiny bit of room at the top. Add 1 tbsp. of white vinegar and let sit for 2-3 minutes. (If making more than 2 cups add 1 tbsp. per cup of vinegar) A layer will separate on the top of the milk beginning the process of turning the milk into buttermilk.

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wpid-20140301_090559.jpgSo easy!