Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homemade Ice Cream

Wanna know how to make homemade ice cream with just the stuff you have in your kitchen? Out of ice cream and craving some? I just got done doing this with the kids (among many many other things today). The best part is that it only takes around 20 minutes! All you need is:

  • a quart sized Ziploc baggie
  • a gallon sized Ziploc baggie
  • 1/2 c. of milk
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla (or other flavor additives, whatever you want)
  • ice (I used a tray and a half)
  • 1/4 c. salt

  • pour milk sugar and flavorings into your quart baggie and close it.
  • place the quart baggie into the gallon baggie
  • pour in the ice and salt over the top of the quart baggie.
SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE!!! The ice and salt will cause a reaction, making the milk mixture freeze into delicious soft serve. It took about 10-15 minutes of shaking to turn ours into soft serve. It was amazing. Try it out!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Garden Plot

I'm so excited, I've started turning the ground for garden where I'd like it to be. It's in our back yard, fenced in. There's never been a garden here so the ground was hard. Overall it took about 12 hours with a shovel. Breaking it like this will make it easy to use a "claw" type cultivator or hoe to make the dirt finer, if you will. I don't know if you can tell by the photo but in this area we've got a lot of red clay in our dirt. It's not very goof for growing anything really, and it's heavy. I'm going to be buying some bagged potting soil/ seed starter and some top soil to "till" in with fertilizer. I'll be putting the wonderful trellis I found (yep, found) against the fence in the picture, towards the back of the garden for my green beans. Towards the left of the picture there's a good two to two and a half feet of unbroken yard where I'm going to grow carrots and potatoes in tires this year. I've never done this before so I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on how that works. I can't wait to start planting!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Borax crystals

Just showing you guys some pictures of the borax crystals I made using the recipe I was talking about not long ago. I'm going to hang mine on my Christmas tree like icicles :D Here's the recipe again!

The solution for these is 3 TBS of borax per cup of boiling water. I tied pieces of yarn to a bamboo skewer to make these but you can also cut up pipe cleaners to shape like a snow flake. I didn't, but you can also add a few drops of food coloring to color them! They're a great science project for the kids, really easy too. Just dissolve your borax and put into container. Some people use glass jars, I used a big pan I have. Hang whatever you made to be coated in the crystal on a bamboo skewer like me, or any kind of stick and dip down into the water. You'll start to see crystals in just a few hours, though the longer you wait the more they'll grow. They're very pretty!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mardi Gras Party!

Not many people celebrate Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, or know much about it but I thought I'd stop and make a post on it for the holiday. I love Mardi Gras because the festival happens in New Orleans (and other places around the world) and is Louisiana is steeped in the French languages and traditions. I'm a big fan of France and all its traditions, the language and the food.  Fat Tuesday falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. During the 46-day Lent period, many Christians forego the eating of meat, either completely or on Fridays.
The traditional Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold. Purple is meant to stand for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The bead throwing started in 1900's with plastic beads and now you never know what you'll get, beads are pretty traditional at Mardi Gras though you don't have to flash anyone to wear them! Masks are also very traditional at Mardi Gras, originally meant to hide the faces of the "krewes" who made the floats in secrecy. Doubloons are also a Mardi Gras tradition, handed out to the revelers by the "krewes" who made the fantastic floats.
I love food and dressing up so this is really a great holiday for me. Lots of foods that are Creole, Cajun, or French can be considered traditional to Mardi Gras. King cake is common at Mardi Gras and traditionally has a token (usually a small plastic baby to represent Christ as a child) that, when found, gives the finder good luck for the upcoming year.
Recipe for King Cake

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup melted butter

  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Fried Oysters

2 eggs, lightly beaten

  1. Heat deep fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Combine flour, salt and black pepper. Dredge oysters in flour mixture, dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs.
  3. Carefully slide oysters into hot oil. Cook five at a time until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. Serve hot.
Easy Jambalaya

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

  1. Heat oil in large deep skillet or 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir 7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, water and Jambalaya Mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in shrimp and sausage. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer or just until shrimp turn pink and rice and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

As far as decorations for a Mardi Gras party, stay simple. Scatter beads, masks, gold coins and stick to the colors purple, gold, and green. Streamers and balloons with noisemakers would be more than sufficient. Don't forget to have some upbeat jazz music in the background too!

Here is a link where you can get 144 Mardi Gras colored necklaces for $10.50
Here is a link to some feathered Mardi Gras masks 15$ for 12
Here is a link on the same site to all their CHEAP Mardi Gras decorations
Here is a link to fake doubloons for Mardi Gras festivities 5$/144
Here is a link to chocolate doubloons 10.50$/60
Useful Links:
The History of Mardis Gras
Mardi Gras Around the World
30 Classic Mardi Gras Recipes from Southern Living!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Acetone Remover

Not long ago I mentioned using acetone to remove painted on labels from plastic containers. I believe the original idea was that you had to use pure acetone to do so. You can find pure acetone at any beauty supply store. I used part of what was left over from my liquor bottle drinking glasses- just regular nail polish remover- found just about anywhere. I didn't have to let it "soak" either. All I did was simply dampen a clean rag with the acetone and then wipe off the label. It came off pretty easily. There were a few very small places that were a little more stubborn but in no way hard to get off. The whole process was pretty simple actually. You have no way of knowing what it was a container for originally. Now, you can save those containers for other things like:
  • storage for snacks in a diaper bag
  • in a lunch box to separate food stuffs
  • gift containers
  • "measuring" cups
  • storage for left overs
  • to hold ingredients while cooking
  • toys for the kids (playing in dirt or a sand box, catching bugs)
  • planters for seedlings
  • lots and lots of crafts
and I'm sure, with a little bit of creativity you can come up with a lot more!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Changed Vanity

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've been trying to "rennovate" our bathroom. It's just terrible, there's no other way of saying it. So far I've removed the shower doors, which I believe I mentioned earlier and painted the vanity. I thought I'd stop in and show you guys the vanity- I painted it black because it's not made of any type of stainable wood. the sink is a light blue so I figured black would be best- especially in such a small space. What do you guys think?
this is what I started with

primed and removed a bunch of floor tiles

black, a huge improvement

Friday, February 1, 2013

AMAZING Glass Top Stove Cleaner!

I would like to announce that tonight I have encountered another cleaning miracle. When I embarked on this project I did not expect it to work as well as it did. We have a glass cooktop stove. Every single glass cooktop I have ever seen eventually gets ugly. There's something about the glass that slowly builds up ugly crusty looking black rings around each of the hot spots. These rings are nearly impossible to get rid of. There are lots of stovetop cleaners out there that claim to be made just for this. Those cleaners are expensive and they never fully rid the glass of those ugly rings. Here's what mine looked like.

bottom left- burner 1
bottom right- burner 2

top right- burner 3
top left- burner 4

Yeah, it was pretty greasy too, due to those circles. Every time I clean it this is what it looks like till it dries, I'm suspicious that they're composed of all sorts of gross stuff, grease, burnt on food, etc. I've tried baking soda and vinegar, all sorts of cleaners and a small razor blade to scrape this stuff off before. It just doesn't come off. I've been able to minimize it but never make it look new again. Till now. This is what they look like now.

bottom left- burner 1
bottom right- burner 2

top right- burner 3
top left - burner 4

That's an amazing change if you can't tell. The circles are completely gone. They still had a little water and cleaning residue on them, but they look one hundred percent better. It's absolutely amazing. Here's what I used. A scrub stick, or scouring stick to scrub off the glass. Now, a scouring or scrub stick is just a stick of pumice or stone. They're sold at Walmart in the cleaning aisle for close to 2$ a piece. I have used them for several things, like porcelain, without scratching or scuffing anything- they're very very gentle. Here's what mine looked like after the first few minutes of scrubbing.

Gross, right? Ugh. Still, it just ate the circles right off. All in all the whole project took about twenty minutes. Just use water to keep the cooktop wet, hold the bar at an angle and start rubbing. It's amazing how well it works. Of course, included in my twenty minutes was cleaning what I could off with my homemade all purpose cleaner first, then spraying down with water and scrubbing. There was also quite a bit of time spent polishing the clean glass up with a felt cloth I have to make it look extra pretty. We shall see if the boys notice or not. By the way, the coils underneath the glass that heat it up are actually very pretty when clean. One more time:

bottom left burner 1 BEFORE
bottom left burner 1 AFTER