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Monday, September 29, 2014

Corn Dog Muffins

I'm not completely sure where I saw this idea (email? Txt from mom?  This was not a pinterest post - yet :)

I was not a fan of the original idea.  I love corn dogs.  Just ask my hips.  I eat them a lot.  They are quick and easy (I usually buy frozen), and very filling.  So, when I went to make these for a youth event I chopped up the hot dog instead of inserting a large piece into the middle (it's not just two year olds who choke on hot dogs!)


To begin with, dice your hot dog.



I diced an entire package.  Mix your corn muffin mix according to the directions.  I used a box of Jiffy since they were on sale for .30 each



We started off by putting the corn muffin mix into the muffin cup and adding the hotdog on top.




The mixing was getting too messy.




Then we tried putting the hotdog on bottom.





Then I had a non-blonde moment.  Just mix the hotdogs into the muffin mix!




Bake according to the package directions and enjoy.  I never got a photo - other than these two.  My kids inhaled the first batch!





Corn Dog Muffins

Ingredients: 

Jiffy Corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 package hot dogs - diced



Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease muffin pan or use paper baking cups.  Blen muffin mix, egg and milk.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.  (For maximum crown on muffin, let batter rest for 3-4 minutes, restir before filling cups.)  Fold in diced hot dogs.  Fill muffin cups 1/2 full.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stuffed French Toast

I saw this recipe somewhere (Pinterest?) and thought that it looked easy enough, so I tried it.  I'm sure I changed some things from the original, but this turned out great!

Take a slice of bread (as many as you desire) and roll it out flat.  I used a rolling pin, but you could use a glass or anything that will make your bread really flat.  Make sure to put something like parchment underneath so it doesn't stick to your counter and tear.






Spread Cream cheese in the flattened bread.  We used blueberry - very yummy!




Roll up the bread







Dredge your bread in a mix of beaten egg and milk - just like regular, flat, french toast








Place in hot, buttered pan and cook until all sides are toasty.







Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar while still hot.  Enjoy!







Stuffed French Toast

Ingredients:

Bread - flattened
Cream cheese - plain or flavored
eggs - beaten 
milk
Butter
Cinnamon sugar mix

Directions:

Flatten bread.  Spread cream cheese on flattened bread.  Roll bread up and dredge through beaten egg and milk mix.  Place bread in a hot, buttered pan.  Cook until all sides are toasty.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on hot french toast.





Thursday, September 25, 2014

Puffy pancakes

Puff pancakes are one of my favorite breakfasts.  When we have a sleep over, this is my go-to.  However, I have noticed that there are often children that look at my pan and get a confused look on their face.  Their look says "what is that?"  "am I supposed to eat that?" "is that edible?"

My solution - individual portions.  Maybe they are freezable this way as well (there are never left overs, so I have no idea.

Ingredients:  

6 Eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with silicone cups (your pancakes will come out MUCH easier with silicone than paper, or even greasing the tin).
Put eggs, milk, and four in blender and mix until smooth.  Fill each muffin cup about half way with mix.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden.
Top with pie filling or syrup.  This is the best syrup ever.




 I love using my Ninja to mix up this batter.  The clean up is easy, and the mixing only takes a few second.


It  took a while to sell me on silicone liners, now I won't use anything else!  They are easy to clean and easy to use.  Hardly anything sticks to them so I don't loose half my cupcakes to the liner!






Do not overfill your muffin cups.  You see how much these puff.  I just took these out of the oven, I didn't move or touch them.  It is so fun to see them move and 'dance' in the oven :)




While cherry pie filling is a favorite of many of our guests, my kids prefer homemade syrup.







Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DIY Cake Stand

Finding a gift my my mother is never an easy task.  So, when I come up with something - it's usually fantastic!  (Because I have spent months thinking about it!)

This year for my moms birthday I wanted to make her a cake stand.  Most of her serving pieces are in storage, and a cake stand is just something she has never had - at least not a nice one.  Then one day while walking through Kroger (of all places) trying to find a snack for AWANA, I found it.  I found the perfect dishes for her cake stand.  

Why are these perfect?  Because they are (nearly) identical to the china she got from my great grandmother years and years ago.  I had found some on eBay about eight years ago, and helped to expand her collection. These ones are clearly updated, but when all of the new and old dishes are on the table together, you can't tell which is which.  

I bought two plates - one is about 6", the other is about 8".  Then I got an inexpensive dollar store candle stick.  The hardest part was figuring out what to use to hold this project together.  I had found a similar project on Pinterest and someone recommended an epoxy glue.  The 'glue' section at Home Depot was an adventure in itself.  I ended up with an epoxy from Gorilla Glue.







First things first:  Using a large piece of paper, I traced both plates on a separate piece of paper, cut out the plate, and folded the paper twice - so I could find the exact middle of the plate.  Once the middle was found, I laid the paper template on the plate and pressed a sharpie into the center dot until it bled through to the plate.



I stuck the candle stick there to see if I liked it.  Then I mixed the epoxy.   The directions said to do it in something separate, but to keep the mess down, I used the candle stick itself.




Mix well so that the resin and other thing will hold well.







After letting it dry for about 30 minutes, I used my template and made my sharpie mark.  Then mix the resin in the other end of the candle stick and put the bottom plate on.  

HINT:  I am doing all of this 'upside down' so that gravity will help hold everything together and the glue is touching both the candle stick and the plate.  Use plenty of resin, and just quickly wipe up any that spills out - it does dry clear.




If you look close, you can see some bubbles, but the resin dries clear.  I am really messy, but didn't worry about leaving a big mess.







After about an hour, I thought about adding another candle stick.  I didn't like the way it looked, so I just left it off.








Allow to dry completely - overnight.  Not sure why this came out fuzzy, but it in person it looks fantastic.  Mom loved it as well.  When I gave it to her - cake on top and cupcakes on bottom at a surprise party - she was thrilled and loved that it matches her 'good dishes'.   




Now I need to make one for me!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Abcs on the floor

During the summer, we had a little foster boy who was learning his ABC's.  It has been a long time since I taught the alphabet to a child.  After all, my youngest is 10.  However, I had a blast coming up with ways to occupy him during school time, and teach him at the same time.

One evening, I grabbed some painters tape (just because it was available, and I knew it would not leave a nasty residue on my floor) and started making letters on the floor.  This is not my favorite flooring because it scratches easily, is very slippery, and shows dirt easily; however, it comes in handy for many crafts and activities. 


We had not learned all the letters, so to keep from overwhelming him, I only did the letters we had already been reviewing.


There were several games that we played with these letters.

1 - Find the (J)!  He would go run to that letter and jump on it until I saw that he had found the correct letter.

2 - Race car - Using a hot wheel type car I would say "The car needs gas, go to the 'Y' for gas".

3 - Beat the timer - after reviewing the same letters for a month, I would say "find the 'T' 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!  If he found the proper letter before '1' he got a reward (high 5, sticker, hug...)

What are some other ways to use these letters?  We lost that little boy after about six weeks, but I love keeping ideas in my tool belt :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Watermelon jello

We had a pool party at moms a few weekends ago.  She had seen this recipe (Facebook?) and wanted to give it a try.

We used a very large melon because half of it was carved into a bowl for mixed fresh fruit.  The other half was used to make a Jell-o bowl!

First, we took all the fruit out of half of a melon.  




Then we mixed together two large boxes of Strawberry Jello using the normal package directions.  After it was cooled enough to handle (about 30 minutes) I poured the plain Straberry Jello into the melon.  Then I mixed in some chunks of fresh melon.




Make sure your melon is on a cookie sheet to keep it stable while transporting (especially before it is jelled).  If your melon is too round, simply cut a small piece off the 'bottom' to help it stand still.

Put the jello in the fridge to jell.





This will take several hours.  Lots of jello requires lots of time.  Totally worth it!  Once jelled, slice as you normally would.






Delicious!  The kids loved their 'watermelon'!  It was easy to make and looked very nice.  I like the fact that it was unique.



Hint:  Don't add too much fresh melon - the jello will not jell properly!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Organizing the Freezer

Freezer Cooking. 

Wait.  What?

Cooking in the freezer?  Isn't that an oxymoron?

No, I'm not a moron.  Freezer cooking is cooking large batches of food with the purpose of freezing it.  Why?  So that when you have a busy night, or don't feel like cooking, or want to bless someone with a homemade meal (death in the family, new baby...) you have something prepared.  

Freezer meals are not just soup and chili.  You can freeze yummy casseroles (think about what you find in the freezer section of your local grocery store).

I have been freezing meal for over a year and LOVE having something on hand for a quick dinner.  Life happens, but when we are short on time I don't always want to run by Jack in the Box.  A homemade, fully cooked, frozen meal is my go-to.

But if you have 30 meals in the freezer, how do you know what to grab?  How do you know what is in there?

I had seen a post (Pinterest?) where someone used a dry erase marker on the lid of the deep freezer.  Great idea!  I tried it.  

Problem 1 - too much food in the freezer, not enough space on the lid to write everything down

Problem 2 - it didn't wipe clean.


My solution - a simple notebook.





I need details!  I want to know what is in there, how much, when it was put in, and have room to record the same item several times (if I buy 5 whole chickens, I want to record it 5 times).


This works much better.  You can see that some of the first items don't have dates, they were in the freezer before I started this, and I hadn't dated them (oops).

This works great for us because the kids can read what is there, scratch off what they take out and even hubby can easily see - without digging - what is available.  

I did take the back cardboard and tape it to the lid of the freezer.  This way I don't have to worry about my book walking off.  

Birthday and Holiday Tree

Traditions are great.  They are a great way to remember the past and rekindle memories.  I love traditions.  However, I love to create my own.  Do something unique that my children will remember - and perhaps pass down to their own children.  If nothing else, they usually make for a good story.

Most people have a Christmas tree in December.  If we put a tree for Jesus's birthday, why can I not have one for mine as well?  

After Christmas a few years ago I just left our fake green (traditional) Christmas tree up, but changed the decorations every month.  This worked great for about ten months.  Around Halloween the dog decided to pee on it.  That was the end of that tree.  I put it on the curb that day.  Then someone picked it up.

Looking through a catalog a few weeks later I saw this:



I love it!  Traditional, yet unique.  So very me!  I didn't want to pay the price asked in the catalog (typically the highest price around), so I waited until after Christmas.  I found another on Amazon, but then had other things to spend the money on.  My mom broke down and got it for me for my birthday this year.  Yea Mom!

We have already had fun decorating it!  In August Big Boy covered it with water guns and water balloons for his birthday.  Now it's Big Girls turn.  She is having a duct tape party:




One thing I love about this is the curved 'branches.'  I will be able to do so much with it - all year long!  This is going to remain a favorite tradition for a long time to come :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Placement Update

1 month ago - today - we received our baby boy - we will call him Moses.  He has been such a blessing to our family.  Besides being a good baby, I get to remember all the little things about when my bio kids were babies.

Every baby is different.  I had large babies, Moses is very small - a preemie born at 26 weeks.  I know nothing about preemies.  I do know, however, that our medical technology has advanced so much that a baby born so early can not only survive, but also thrive.  

Moses has gone everywhere and done everything with us.  He is fully one of the family.  Everyone helps with everything.  The girls help get him into the car seat.  Big Boy is the only one who can 'man handle' the stroller, he also helps get it up and down stairs when there is no elevator.  All three kids know how to quickly make a bottle, and will change a diaper - although not happily if it is dirty.



Even the dog knows his job.  This was taken the day we got Moses.  Big Doggie still, to this day doesn't go far from Moses.  Daddy was burping Moses two nights ago and quickly had to stop.  Moses had a bad gas pain and started to cry, Big Doggie put his mouth on Daddy's arm.  Not a bite, but a warning to say "stop hurting the baby!"  Daddy quickly got the hint.  He is a very well trained dog.

The thing I have learned about my little Moses is this:
  1. He likes to sleep upright.  In the bouncy seat.  Not flat at all
  2. It must be warm in the room.  Totally opposite of everyone else in the house.
  3. There must be light on.  Again, opposite of everyone else.
  4. He likes a lot of noise.  If it is quite, he cannot sleep.  The boys like ambient sound, Moses likes lots of sound.  Vacuum, tv, dishwasher, talking.  The more sounds, the better.
  5. He loves to be swaddled.  All my babies liked to be swaddled.  Snug as a bug in a rug.
While some things are a bit different, there is always adjustment  anytime you add a baby - whether you give birth or adopt.  Life is all about adjusting.  Every day, every season.  There are adjustments to be made in our lives.  This is one I truly will enjoy.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blessing Bags

Super Service Saturday!

A few weeks ago my Big Girl decided she wanted to find a way to help the homeless in the area  We are always looking for new service projects and I love when they come up with ideas of their own.  This time we included several friends.

To begin, we let a lot of people know what we were doing.  Some people donated items, even though they couldn't participate in the bag stuffing.  We got so much food!







Big Girl organized everything in a simple assembly line.  All you needed to do was grab a paper sack and pick one item from each of the  good groups she had made.








Being August in Houston, there was nothing perishable, nothing chocolate, and nothing homemade.  Everything was prepackaged, but we tried to stay with healthy choices.  We had water, crackers (no bread, it spoils and squishes), nuts, pudding, peanut butter, tuna pouches, pb crackers, fruit, beef jerky, vienna sausages, granola bars, fruit snacks, and more!  In each bag we also included a gospel tract to remind or show each recipient how much God loves them.





While many of these will go to the homeless, they are for anyone who needs to be blessed

With six students (age 10-18) helping, we filled more than 60 bags in under 20 minutes!  Each student received a portion of the bags to give away as they saw fit.




In the few days after making the bags we have given away nearly half.  Just driving around town - mostly to and from church - we have seen several of the homeless that were initially on our minds when creating these bags.  Then we drove downtown and saw some people who truly looked hungry.  We didn't have all of the bags with us at the time, so we will be returning to hand out the remaining bags.

There was one afternoon when Baby Girl saw a man in a median holding a sign - not homeless, advertising where to sell your gold.  It was 100 degrees outside - he looked like he needed to be blessed.

Living with an Air Force Base in our backyard, we also keep our eyes open for military men and women as well.  

1 John 3:17If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?


How do you keep your children active and serving in the name of Christ?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Loads of Apples

In my never ending quest to save money and supply my family with healthy, yummy food, I joined a produce co op.  Sounds crazy - but so far the kids are loving it.  Earlier this month I bought a case of apples.  Even crazier than the joining a co op - huh?  I thought it was a good idea.  A case of apples for about $30.  

I have learned in the past that if I clean, core and slice fresh fruit, and have it waiting in the refrigerator, it doesn't last long.  So, the first thing I did was slice about a dozen apples, drizzle a little lemon juice over top (to prevent browning) and put them in the fridge.  Those didn't last a day. 

Not bad.  A dozen fiber filled fruits gone into my children's bellies.

Now, what do I do with the rest?  There are tons of recipes.  However, these are gala apples.  Most recipes call for something more crisp, a bit more sweet.
Then I found an apple pie filling recipe that uses any kind of apple.  We love apple pie!  The girls learned how to make hand pies over the summer, and I love making sausage and apples when I don't have a lot of time to cook.  This particular recipe (I wish I could remember where I saw it!  Pinterest maybe?) didn't can the filling, but froze it.  This was perfect for me since I have not tried canning yet - but my freezer is always full!


Apple Pie Filling
§  24 cups sliced and peeled apples (6-7 lbs)
§  3 Tablespoons lemon juice
§  2 cups brown sugar
§  2 ½ cups white sugar
§  1 – 1 ½  cups cornstarch
§  2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
§  1 teaspoon salt
§  ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
§  10 cups water

Warning – you need to either cut this in half or use a very large pot.  When I say large I mean it needs to hold 2-3 gallons of food.  I use my turkey roaster (it’s like a super-sized crock pot).
In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice; set aside.  In your very large pot over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add your water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add apples; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Scoop into freezer bags, leaving about ½ inch at the top.  Cool for about an hour, and freeze.
Hint:  When freezing gallon size bags, lay the bags flat.  You can fit a lot more into the fridge that way.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What to do with leftover brisket

My dear sweet Hubby isn't much of a cook.  In all the years we have been married (17 next month!) I can recall only a handful of times he has been in the kitchen.  However, he is great on the grill!  One of his favorite things to barbecue is brisket.  He will smoke it for hours and hours until it is falling apart and juicy.

Whenever we have enough company to double our number at the dining room table, this is the preferred meal.  I enjoy it because I know I will be getting at least two more meals from that $40 piece of cow.  This time was no different.



The day after our brisket dinner I was trying to figure out how to re-make the meat so that it wasn't just leftovers.  We had about half of the meat left.  This photo isn't super appetizing, however it was cold and crammed into the bowl.






The first thing I did was cut the meat into thin slices, then use a fork to shred it.  The small pieces make for a better texture.




You can see that my helper got a little lazy and didn't shred it all the way.  That's ok.  The pieces are still really small and bite sized.






Next, I added a jar of barbecue sauce.  Don't worry about the brand - or even the flavor.  I had this in the back of the pantry.  It's a jar I got free at HEB in one of their meal deals.  I added the entire jar, then used a few tablespoons of water to get the rest of the sauce out of the jar.



Once the sauce is added, mix well.  If you want it a little less saucy, add more meat.  Here in Texas, we like it saucy.  I'm also a kinda lazy cook sometimes.  I just wanted to use up a lot of the meat before we got bored with brisket!



One thing that makes this recipe so easy is that the meat is already cooked.  After chopping the meat, I only needed to heat this on medium for about 5 minutes.  The meat was done before anything else!  The house smelled so good!  I was worried that the kids wouldn't want the same meat - again.  They inhaled it!  I barely got any.  




Well, I made this three days in a row.  The kids never tired of it (although I would not have pushed a fourth day).  I definitely know what to make next time hubby makes a brisket.  I have bought frozen chipped beef before.  Maybe I will make a large batch and freeze half next time.