September 29, 2011

Make-Ahead Pancakes

I've had good intentions for a long time to make a big batch of pancakes on the weekend, freeze them and have them for breakfast in the coming week. It always seems like such a good idea during the week but our weekends are always packed full of other stuff that needs to be done, so making a large batch of pancakes doesn't ever seem like a priority. I finally carved out a chunk of time this past weekend and did it! I wanted to find a recipe that was hearty and healthy but tasty to and I found this Grain and Nut Whole Wheat Pancake recipe that got some good reviews. I changed a couple things, wasn't sure the family would go for me using totally whole wheat flour so I used half white and half whole wheat. Also, I didn't have any buttermilk so I used the old trick of a bit of vinegar mixed in with regular skim milk. And lastly, I used applesauce in place of the oil then lowered the sugar a bit since the applesauce was sweetened. And you better believe I added the optional nuts! These pancakes turned out so good! And they froze so nicely, layered with wax paper in between. They separated with no problem and warmed up yummy, not gummy or rubbery.

And instead of syrup, we've been topping them with strawberry sauce. For some reason, we had an overabundance of strawberries this week so I made this easy sauce. I used about 1 pound of strawberries, a half a cup of water and a half a cup of sugar. Cooked till bubbly and mushy then blended it when cooled. (makes a good ice cream topping too)

Having these ready every morning this week has been so nice. I warmed them up while the kids got ready and served them with a turkey sausage link and a glass of milk. I think it makes a rather well-rounded breakfast with some carbs, whole grain, some protein, dairy and a little bit of fruit to boot. This isn't the most exciting picture but I'll share it anyway. They looked and tasted about 100 times better than they appear in this photo.

The recipe made 12 large pancakes and that was enough to last us till today (Thursday), so we will be having a cold cereal Friday morning at our house. But, hey, it's Friday so I won't let anyone complain!

Here's the recipe how I made it (and with a new name ;))

Nutty Wheat & Oat Pancakes
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 1.5 T of vinegar combined with enough milk to make 1.5 cups)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Grind the oats in a blender or food processor until fine. In a large bowl, combine ground oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, combine milks, applesauce, egg, and sugar with a whisk until smooth. Mix wet ingredients into dry with a few swift strokes. Stir in nuts.

Lightly oil a skillet or griddle, and preheat it to medium heat. Ladle the batter onto the hot skillet; cook the pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until brown.

September 26, 2011

Birthday Apple Pie

I had a birthday this past weekend. A big one. I'm 40 now. It bothered me a bit at first but now that I'm a couple days into this new decade I've decided that it's all gonna be okay. I'm probably the most content I've ever been and I'm learning to appreciate life and all it's little pleasures even more as the years go by.

I'm not one for big parties so we just had a small family get-together. And I made my own birthday apple pie because I know everyone loves it and because I had the time to do it. It's a dutch apple pie recipe that I've had forever but don't even know where I got it. It's very simple but sooo very good.

Here is my worn out 'apple pie with crumb topping' recipe card in my special recipe card holder cookbook that was given to me as a wedding shower gift years ago. I'll type out the recipe in case you can't read it ;)

Dutch Apple Pie
4-5 c. sliced apples
2 T flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 t cinnamon

Combine this filling and place it in an unbaked pie shell.

**I have never in my 40 years made my own pie crust. I just buy the crust already made, already in the pan. Simple, easy clean-up, and it always tastes just great.

Bake the apples in the crust at 450 for 10 minutes.

1 stick of butter, softened
1 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar

Combine till crumbly and pile on top of the partially baked pie. Lower oven temp to 350 and bake for 35-40 min longer till it looks like this-

It's always good to place the pie pan on a cookie sheet because stuff likes to come a'bubbling over the sides and it's much easier to clean a cookie sheet than the bottom of your oven.

When I made it this time, I had more apples than I needed for one pie but not enough for two. So, I baked the extra in a small pan with some of the toppping on top, sans crust. Totally delicious as well and saves you some calories & fat. So, this recipe could be baked as a crustless pie or apple crisp as well. You really can't go wrong with any baked combination of apples, sugar, cinnamon, butter, flour and more sugar. The taste and the's pure autumn happiness in a pan.

September 24, 2011

Table Runner

I made this table runner as a practice for some possible Christmas gifts. It went together quite easily and I like it, but I haven't decided if I'm up for making 5 more as I had originally planned :( This one I made is rather fall-ish looking so it fits right in with all the fun decor we just dug out of storage.

I'll never claim to be an expert binder.  As you can see, it is a bit rough around the edges. And I know my backing/binding shade of red is a bit off but since this was kind of a practice piece I wasn't too picky (especially since it was in the 1/2 price remnant bin at Joann's).

It is a simple disappearing 9-patch pattern using 27  5" squares, I got the idea HERE. I used felt as batting to keep it from being too 'puffy'. I haven't washed it yet, I'm afraid it might not lay as flat when I do, so I'm not too anxious to try. I'd love to have one of these for each holiday/season and change them out on the coffee table. I'll have to add that to my ever growing project list ;).

September 21, 2011

Dried Apples

Tis the season for apple-y things! We sliced up some apples today and made these "chips."  My recipe called them chips and said to bake them for 2 hours, I baked them for closer to 3 and they still didn't end up crispy like chips, just kinda dry and chewy but still really good! Next time I'd do a larger batch since that is a long time to have the oven going for just one pan-full, plus, I bet they'd freeze well for later.

(chewy) Apple Chips
• 3-4 apples
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp cinnamon

Core and thinly slice apples about 1/8-inch thick and arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over apple slices. Bake at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours. Remove from oven and cool completely before transferring to a sealed container.

Here they are before baking-

And after-

Kinda sad how much they shrink down!

And here they are posing next to our lovely little fall candle/squash decor-

Looking forward to many more apple goodies in the coming weeks!  Happy almost Fall!

September 18, 2011

Spooky Shirts

The other day one of my online mommy friends mentioned having fun with 'freezer stencils.' I had to google it to figure out what in the world she was talking about, and that led me to learning about this neat craft!

Freezer paper...found it at the grocery store right near the aluminum foil and saran wrap. I've never bought it before, never needed to, but now I have a ginormous roll in my kitchen drawer that will most likely be used for non-kitcheny things. The box itself has instructions for fabric stenciling so I can't be accused of stealing anyone's genius idea here.

The possibilities are endless (think tote bags, throw pillows, even wall art) but I started with t-shirts, 99 cent t-shirts from Goodwill to be exact.

And I decided to do Halloween shirts for the kids. The holiday lends itself to basic silhouetted images so that made it easy for a beginner like me. I googled "halloween clip art" and found a couple cute designs. I read that you can put freezer paper through your printer, but since ours was out of ink I didn't even attempt that. With my luck it would've gotten clogged or jammed in the printer anyway, then I would've been in big trouble. So, I chose the primitive method of tracing. Right from my laptop screen. I just put the paper up and traced very VERY gently with a pencil, drawing on the non-shiny side of the paper.

Then I took my exacto knife and cut out the design, including little eyes, mouths, etc.

Next, using a hot dry iron, I pressed the paper, shiny side down onto the t-shirts. First I ironed the main part of the design then added the little "island pieces" last. Those were the trickiest parts.

After placing a piece of cardboard inside the shirt and using acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium, I painted on the designs, being very careful around the edges with brushstrokes moving inward, not outward.

Once they were painted I just couldn't wait the 4-6 hours for them to dry. I propped them up and pointed a fan on them and they were dry in less than an hour. Then comes the fun part, peeling the paper off!

My edges aren't perfect and some parts could've used a second coat, but I'm lazy and decided they looked just fine. Better than fine actually, I was quite pleased with how they all turned out. The kids thought they were pretty cool too.

Here's a little closer look at the designs-

After waiting the full 24 hours, I used a hot dry iron to "set" the paint. The shirts need to be washed inside out as well.

What a fun project this was! Now, I have a blank tote bag calling my (and my freezer paper's) name...

I'm linking this to Cauldron Crafts, a fun array of crafty ideas just in time for the Halloween season, brought to you by my friends at Distant Pickles and Fabric Donkey. If you link YOUR spooky craft idea to them soon, you could win a fabulous fabric bundle!

September 17, 2011

Citrus Scrub

Even though it's still technically summer, my skin is already feeling rough & dry due to the lower humidity. And I think summer's toll is just now hitting my feet, they are in dire need of some exfoliation. So, I though it was perfect timing that I found this recipe.

I get little ideas & recipes from liking Blendtec on Facebook. I'd highly recommend 'liking' them even if you don't have a Blendtec because they have some really good recipes and links to healthy blogs & websites with great things to make even if you don't own a specific brand of blender. This is one of those, a recipe using edible ingredients but only for your skin's consumption.

Citrus Scrub

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coarse salt
1 slice lemon
1 slice orange
1 slice lime

Put everything in the blender and blend!

It would help to cut up the fruit somewhat so that it blends evenly. I will do that next time. I actually wouldn't mind if there were tiny flecks of peel left, but I had to completely pulverize the fruit so there wouldn't be chunks.

The original recipe didn't call for lime, but I decided to use it. If I'd had grapefruit, I would've used it too. I just love the smell of all this citrus!

You can put it next to the sink for your hands, or use it in the shower as a body scrub, rinsing well but patting dry so you don’t rub off all the oil. I put mine in a little jar with a small spoon and I'm keeping it in the kitchen. I use use a tiny dollop whenever I wash my hands. I love that it smells clean & fresh and not perfumy, especially nice for when I'm working on food prep.

This would make a fun little gift too!

September 14, 2011

A Little Change

I've decided to include some of my crafty pursuits on this here blog. My sewing and crafting is where I'm finding a lot of my enjoyment lately so I thought it would be fun to share those endevors along with my recipe and cooking adventures. Honestly, I've gotten a bit bored with my blog so I'm looking forward to a little change.

So, stay tuned :)

September 01, 2011


I've been wanting to try to make my own tortillas for a long time. It always seemed like it would be a difficult thing to do even though I'd read to the contrary. We finally did it yesterday and it wasn't hard at all, just a little time-consuming and fast paced.

I used this recipe but used half whole wheat flour and half white. Also, I used Smart Balance spread in place of the shortening. The dough was stiff, but pretty easy to work with. It wasn't sticky and rolled out easily without breaking, even to a very thin texture. I worked quickly, cooking one tortilla on the stove while rolling out the next and that timed itself perfectly. As soon as one was done I had the next rolled out. My only struggle was getting them into a circular shape, my edges were very rough, but who cares, they tasted good!

One reviewers tip I'm glad I followed was to put the tortillas in a ziplock bag shortly after cooking them. This allows them to soften enough that they are easier to work with.

We made some quesadillas yesterday and they turned out delicious. How fun it was to eat something made with our own home-made tortillas! No funny ingredients, preservatives or hydrogenated anything. My plan is to make a larger batch soon and freeze them for future use.