Monday, August 24, 2015

Peanut Butter & Date Protein Balls

Recently my husband asked me if I could pick up some protein bars for him next time I'm at the store.  Of course, me being me, I wanted to try a homemade version before throwing money into commercial bars that have unnecessary "filler" ingredients.

Using caloriecount.com's recipe analyzer, we were able to choose a recipe with a high protein and fiber content and very little sodium.  The sodium and protein content will vary depending on the brand of peanut butter and fiber/protein powder you use.  We used Full Circle Organic Creamy Unsweetened Peanut Butter (only contains peanuts and salt!) and Garden of Life Raw Fiber (Beyond Organic Fiber) powder.  Using these ingredients, the recipe analyzer says one serving of these little protein balls contains 7.8 grams of fiber and 9.2 grams of protein!


Combining only four ingredients in a food processor will get you on your way.


Blend until it's all well combined.


Make sure the texture is firm enough to hold its shape, adjusting ingredients if needed.


Roll into balls and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Peanut Butter & Date Protein Balls
Recipe adapted from Vegan Family Recipes
Recipe makes 10 servings.

Ingredients

10 tablespoons (1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp) organic natural peanut butter, creamy
12 dates, pitted
4 tsp. chia seeds, ground
2 level scoops raw fiber powder (Garden of Life brand)


Directions

Blend all ingredients in food processor until well combined.
Using a small scoop, form into 20 balls.




Friday, August 21, 2015

Homemade Strawberry "Ice cream"

Finding simple, quick recipes is my goal right now. Something cheap and yummy, but tastes good. While scrolling through Facebook, I saw this idea. Three ingredients?  That sounds quick and cheap.  Deciding to try it didn't take too much of an effort as it said strawberries and ice cream and, did I mention, three ingredients!
This is a great snack to prepare with kids. Mine happens to be 30 something and 6 feet tall, but he's my kid. ;)
So grab your few ingredients and make yourself a treat!

Thank you bestrecipebox.com!

Homemade Strawberry "Ice cream"

1 pound of cleaned strawberries
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
16 oz of cold heavy whipping cream

This recipe is so easy, you can probably tell what to do by my "fabulous" pictures. ;) But just in case you need a little direction, here you go:

1. Set a few strawberries aside for decoration.
2. Mash the rest and set aside. I used fresh strawberries and left all the juice for flavor.
3. In a mixer, add your whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk and blend until stiff peaks. 
4. Pour in a container of your choice.
5. Garnish and freeze.
3- 4 hours you'll have "soft serve"
4-6 hours you'll obviously have "not soft serve"

Enjoy!







Monday, August 10, 2015

Crock Pot Salsa

My husband and I are huge fans of chips and dip.  Our first choice is always salsa with tortilla chips.  We generally like our salsa with a little heat, but as long as the flavor is there, we'll eat it!

My parents make homemade salsa every year and I love the way that you can control the levels of heat and spices when you make it yourself.  They can theirs in mason jars, but when I decided to make a batch, I didn't have any mason jars available.  Deciding to make it anyway, I chose to try a batch in the crock pot, then freeze it in ziplocs.  It worked so well!  We just pull a package out to thaw when we want some chips & salsa.  We've also used it to bump up the flavor in some pasta dishes and to top off some yummy tacos.


Ingredients

4 lb. tomatoes, quartered & core removed
5 tsp. garlic paste
2 onions, quarters
6 fresh jalapenos, ends cut off, halved & seeds removed
4 green onions
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. canned jalapenos, chopped
garlic powder, to taste
chili powder, to taste 

Directions

Combine tomatoes, garlic paste, onions, and fresh jalapenos in a crockpot.
Cook on high for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring as necessary.
Remove lid and allow to cool for at least 1 hour.
Add the green onions and the salt.
Carefully scoop some into the blender and blend to desired consistency.
Pour into a large bowl.
Continue with remaining mixture until it is all blended.
Cover and refrigerate until completely cool.
Stir in cilantro, canned jalapenos, and sprinkle in some garlic powder and chili powder.
Stir in up and taste.
Add more seasonings or salt, if needed, to reach desired flavor/heat level.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or divide portions into freezer bags to freeze.


When quartering the tomatoes, I just cut the hard core out and left the seeds in.  If you're opposed to "seedy salsa", just scoop the "guts" out, too. :)


Be sure to wear gloves and not touch your face when cutting the jalapenos.
Use your judgement when deciding on the peppers.  Use more for extra heat, less for a more mild salsa.  You could even experiment with different types of hot peppers to find your favorite!


Combine tomatoes, garlic paste, onions, and fresh jalapenos in a crockpot.
Cook on high for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring as necessary.


The pot gets pretty full, but don't worry about it.  It cooks down a lot!


Remove lid and allow to cool for at least 1 hour.


Add the green onions and the salt.
I left the onion stems whole since they will just get chopped in the blender.  Less work is better! :)


Carefully scoop some into the blender and blend to desired consistency.
Pour into a large bowl.
Continue with remaining mixture until it is all blended.
Cover and refrigerate until completely cool.


Stir in cilantro, canned jalapenos, and sprinkle in some garlic powder and chili powder.
Stir in up and taste.
Add more seasonings or salt, if needed, to reach desired flavor/heat level.


Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or divide portions into freezer bags to freeze.


Or just take a bowl outside to enjoy while appreciating the view.  :)







Saturday, August 8, 2015

Laminated Place-mats

My sister Renae did this project with my younger siblings and me.
 If you don't have a laminator, you might want to get one! They come in handy for a lot of things! :)
These place mats are awesome to use for little kids!  You can do it at any time of the year, too.
They are great in the fall for Thanksgiving!
 
 
 All you Need:
leaves
color crayons
paper
laminator
laminator sheet


1. You gather leaves!



2. Stack two pieces of paper, and put your leaves sandwiched between two papers.
 (Remember to put the leaves upside down so the ribs are facing up!)



3. Peel the paper off the crayon, lay it on it's side, and color lightly over the spot the leaf is under!
(It doesn't matter how many leaves you choose to use, try not to let the papers shift well you are coloring.)

4. Put the colored piece of paper through the laminator according to your laminator instructions!

 

And there's your Place-mat!
Enjoy NO stains!

 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Laundry Stain Buster

My sister asked me a couple months ago why I make things myself rather than buying them. (Such as our body wash, laundry detergent, etc.)  It got me thinking about why I take the time to make all these items.

1.  It's cheaper.  More often than nought, I take the time to do it because I believe that the amount of money we save by "DIYing" is worth the time it takes to make it.  Once I find a recipe that I like, it really doesn't take all that long and I can usually work on more than one thing at a time.

2.  I have to buy less often.  When I make something myself, it's generally "bulk-sized", so we have to restock fewer times. Since it's also cheaper to make it at home, we are, again, saving money.

3. It's healthier.  Most of my DIY items aren't made of all natural, organic ingredients, but there are some that are truly healthier than commercial products.  It may seem a little counterproductive for me to make chemical-free lotion bars, then turn around and slather my face with chemical-laden make-up, but I believe that even a small difference is still a difference.  I know we don't live as healthy as we should, but we do live healthier than we could. :)

4.  They work better.  Yes, I know this doesn't apply for all things homemade, but you would be surprised at how many things DO work better.  If I decide that a product works about the same whether it's homemade or commercial, I try to look at the other reasons before deciding to continue making it.  Is it cheaper?  Is it healthier?  Is it worth it?  For example... my homemade laundry detergent.  We have been using this detergent religiously for over 3 years now.  I still love it!  And the cost difference is amazing!  So, yes, it's definitely worth it to take 10 minutes out of my day to mix up a batch of detergent once a year!

5.  I love it.  My last reason is my best answer to the question "Why do you do it?"
I love being able to make a product that actually works.  There is something about the "homey" feeling you get when you can create (or recreate) a product for your family to use.  Whether it's making some homemade makeup remover wipes or a denim pie iron bag to take camping, it makes you feel a little more domestic in this busy life.  I just simply enjoy it.

I have been in search of a stain remover for awhile.  When I came across a post about homemade "Shout" on the blog, One Good Thing By Jillee, I knew I had to try it.  We've used it on a couple of articles of clothing already and I was amazed at how well this worked!  I wet the fabric down a smidge, sprayed some of this on and rubbed it in.  Then, I let it rest for a couple of hours before tossing it in the wash.  Simply unbelievable.  Next time I will be making the full batch instead of a half. :)


What you need:

empty spray bottle
funnel
3 Tbsp. baking soda
1 c. warm water
1/3 c. ammonia
1/3 c. Dawn original dish soap (the blue kind)

Using the clean, dry funnel, pour the baking soda into the bottle.
Add the warm water and swirl until mixed well.
Add the ammonia and dish soap.
Shake to mix.


To use:

Shake well before each use.
Wet fabric slightly with water.
Spray Stain Buster directly on stain.
Rub into fabric.
Let rest at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Wash as normal.
(On really tough stains, I will sometimes spray and rub once more after it rests, just before I toss it in the washing machine.)
*Do not use with bleach!


I labeled mine using the label maker we got from my parents for Christmas last year.  Seriously one of my favorite gifts ever!  

Since there is ammonia in this, be sure not to mix with chlorine bleach!  I would suggest somehow noting this directly on the bottle.  If you don't have any labels of any sort, just write it directly on the bottle with a Sharpie.  :)

**Note: the baking soda does tend to settle after it rests, so be sure to shake it up well before each use.







Monday, July 27, 2015

Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

When you go grocery shopping, do you ever stock up on tons of fruits, then realize later in the week that there is absolutely no way you are going to be able to eat it all before it starts rotting?  Unless I'm careful about what I'm purchasing, this happens nearly every week.  Before I go to the store, I make a menu, write down my grocery list needed for the meals, then I generally put "fruit" at the bottom of the list so I can pick and choose once I'm there, depending on prices.  

However, once I get there, I see sale prices.  It all looks so juicy and delicious that, before I know it, I have enough fruit to not only feed my husband and me, but probably all of my 10 siblings, too!  I know you're probably thinking "Just put some back!", but I don't usually realize it's way too much until I'm at home putting everything away.  Fruit is sneaky like that.

Don't worry, I really try not to let it go to waste.  Our freezer is packed with cleaned, chopped fruit: very handy when throwing together a smoothie or some blueberry muffins!  Apples, however, are trickier for me.  If any type of fruit gets wasted in our home, it's generally the apples.

These babies were created so I didn't have to feel the guilt in my chest as I chucked a half dozen braeburns.  If you're not looking for a way to use up your fruit like I was, go buy some apples just for this recipe.  You won't regret it.  They are pretty tasty.


Don't worry too much about the type of apples you use, any kind will do!
(I think I had a mixture of braeburn and gala.)  


Apple-Cinnamon Muffins
Makes about 32-36 muffins.

Ingredients

APPLES:
4 c. apples, peeled, cored, and diced small
4 tsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

BATTER:
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. coconut oil
2 c. cane sugar
2 eggs
2 chia eggs*
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. unsweetened almond milk

CRUMB TOPPING:
butter, melted
flour
sugar
cinnamon
oatmeal


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the apples, combine the flour and cinnamon and toss with the apples. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set this aside, too.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar with the butter and coconut oil until creamy.
Add the eggs, one at a time.
Beat in the chia eggs and vanilla.
Begin adding the flour mixture and the almond milk, alternating between the two, just until combined.
Fill lined muffin tins about 3/4 full with the batter. (I filled 24 muffin liners, then poured the remaining batter in a greased loaf pan.)
Now, it's time to mix the crumb topping.  I melted 1/2 cup of butter in a small bowl, then mixed in a couple teaspoons cinnamon, about 1/4 cup sugar, about 1/2 cup flour, and about a 1/2 cup oatmeal.  If it's still too wet, add more flour or oatmeal until it resembles a coarse crumble topping.
Sprinkle over the muffins and bake for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from pans and let rest on a cooling rack.
Enjoy!


*For each chia egg you want to mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water and set aside for 5-10 minutes or until gelled. (So for this recipe, you will be using 2 Tbsp. chia seeds & 6 Tbsp. water.)


A warm, apple-cinnamon muffin fresh out of the oven and a hot cup of coffee in the morning sounds like a pretty perfect breakfast to me. :)







Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

I can't believe I'm writing this post.  Not only does it feel strange blogging, since I haven't been very good about keeping on it lately (sorry about that!), but I'm posting yet another recipe about black bean burgers.

Over a year ago, I posted a recipe for Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Burgers.  At the time, I liked them, but now I realize that I didn't know any better.  That was the first "meatless" burger I had ever had.  They were good, but they weren't something I would choose to eat regularly. 

The Black Bean Veggie Burgers that I'm posting today?  Phenomenal.  At least that's my opinion. And my husband's.  As well as other family members we have made these for.  The combination of it all makes these "burgers" so amazing, I find myself craving these over a big, greasy, real cheeseburger.  I have already lost count on how many times we have made these over the last 6 months.

If you make these, I order highly suggest you make the burgers exactly as written below (with the chipotle sauce) before branching out on your own version.  The combination of these patties with a toasted kaiser roll, smothered in the chipotle sauce, and topped with thick slabs of avocado, tomato, a few slices of red onion, and a mound of leafy greens is truly unbeatable.  I can't promise you a truly delicious "burger" if you make them any other way. :)


BLACK BEAN VEGGIE BURGERS
Recipe adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch.
Makes about 5 patties.

Ingredients

BURGERS:
1 kaiser roll, torn and baked to dry out
3 mini sweet bell peppers, stems & seeds removed
1 small red onion
2 tsp. garlic paste
1 egg
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
salt & pepper
1 can (16 oz.) black beans, rinsed, drained, and patted dry with a paper towel

*CHIPOTLE SAUCE:
1/3 c. mayonaisse
2/3 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 canned chipotle chilies, seeds scraped out
1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
juice from 1/2 lime
salt & pepper

SERVE WITH:
toasted kaiser buns
chipotle sauce (*recipe above)
avocado
red onion
tomato
lettuce


Directions

Place a large cast iron skillet or cooking stone on the middle rack in a cold oven.
Turn the heat on to 400 degrees.
Once preheated, tear the kaiser roll to pieces and spread onto a large cookie sheet.
Bake in the oven until the pieces feel dry and crumbly.
Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the peppers, onion, and garlic paste.  Pulse until the veggies are in small pieces.
Add the egg, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Pulse until well combined.
Add the baked kaiser crumbs. Pulse until mixed.
Lastly, add the black beans and pulse a few times until they are mixed in as well.
Carefully pull out the rack holding the skillet/stone and spray with non-stick spray.
Scoop about 1/2 cup of the mixture, form a ball, place on hot skillet and pat into a patty.
Repeat with the remaining mixture. (Makes about 5 patties.)
Bake for 10 minutes.
Lightly spray the tops of the patties with non-stick spray and gently flip.
Bake another 10 minutes.
While the patties are baking, combine all ingredients for the chipotle sauce in the food processor and blend until well combined.
A few minutes before the patties are done, place the remaining kaiser buns face up in the oven to "toast".
Serve patties on the toasted buns with a generous dollop of the chipotle sauce, avocado, a thick slice of tomato, red onion, and leafy greens.
Enjoy!


Normally we serve these burgers with a mound of well seasoned, oven-baked sweet potato fries and a side of the chipotle sauce for dipping.  SO good together!






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