30 March 2010

black bean burgers

vegetarian low-fat burgers, adapted from recipezaar- super scrumptious!

MAKES ~4 medium burgers

1 1/2-2 tablespoons green onions (or sauteed chopped onions)
1 can black beans, well drained
1 tablespoon gluten-free flour
1 slice gluten-free bread, very well crumbled
1-1 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic (or 1/2 tsp Adobo or garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
salt and pepper
oil (for frying)

1) In a large bowl, mash the beans well.
2) Add remaining ingredients, except the oil, and mash well.
3) Form bean mixture into flat patties.
4) Add oil to frying pan (I use ~1-2 TB) and cook patties 5-15 minutes per side. Once you notice a nice darker crust forming- then it's time to flip the burgers!

- feel free to substitute your own seasonings!
- I like to top mine with a little sea salt and sour cream, so don't forget to add your own yummy toppings!

26 March 2010

Irish soda bread

My tried and true recipe, passed down from my mom {she's second generation 100% Irish}. I substitute half the flour with spelt flour, or 100% Gluten-Free flour mix. Also, I cook my loaf on a pizza stone instead of a baking dish. I made this loaf last week and it's gone already... time to make another loaf! LOVE it :D

4 c. flour
3 TB sugar
1 TB double acting baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
6 TB butter
1 1/2 c. dark raisins
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk

Heat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 2 quart round baking dish. Mix the first 5 dry ingredients, then cut in the butter. Stir in raisins. Beat eggs slightly in a separate bowl. AFter reserving 1 TB of egg, stir in buttermilk. Pour egg mixture into the dry mix. On a well-floured surface, kneed the dough 10 times- do not over-kneed. Shape dough into ball and place in baking dish. Cut a cross in the top of the loaf about 1/4 inch deep. Brush loaf with egg reserve and cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.

participating in: Ultimate Recipe Swap @ Life As Mom

22 March 2010


After learning about anti-bacterial products' propensity to breed super-bacteria {which are resistant to anti-bacterial and other products}, I make every effort to avoid using such products in my home. I choose to use other products, such as those below::

.: in the car/purse :.
Those times where I don't have ready access to soap and water, I use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. I keep a small bottle in my car, for using after pumping gas or before having a snack-on-the-run. I also keep a small bottle in my purse, for use when I'm out and about.

.: at home :.
There are a variety of items I use in our home, ranging from store bought products to homemade solutions! Some of these will be eliminated in the future, in favor of even more homemade solutions, but for now these are the products you can find in our home!
.: Method :. this natural, non-toxic, environmentally friendly product line graces our home in the form of hand soap, bathroom cleaners, and all-purpose cleaner
.: GreenWorks :. this 95% natural, environmentally friendly product line can be found as our toilet bowl cleaner and all-purpose cleaner I use in the kitchen
.: Seventh Generation :. this non-toxic, environmentally responsible product can be found in our kitchen as dishwasher detergent. Many of their other products are natural as well

.: baking soda :.
This one gets its own category! It is one of THE best natural cleaners, and SO multi-purpose-mix it with some vinegar, and it can clean even more! Click on each of the headers to be brought to Arm & Hammer's page where it tells the proportions to mix :)

.: deodorize shower curtains, floors, tubs, drains, oral appliances, and wastebaskets
.: wash away residues in brushes, combs, even yourself!
.: use as a bath soak, facial scrub, body exfoliant, antacid, deodorant, hand cleanser, mouth wash, toothpaste, or foot soak
.: use to keep your septic system working smoothly
.: mix with vinegar to unclog drains too!

{I have an extra box of baking soda in my laundry room}
.: gentle enough to use for baby's laundry
.: boost your bleach or laundry detergent
.: deodorize pet bedding, cat litter, tough wash jobs, towels and sheets

{I have an extra box of baking soda and bottle of vinegar under our sink just for cleaning use}
.: clean lunch boxes, pots & pans, coffee & tea pots, floors, plastic containers, dishwashers, and microwaves
.: great as a surface cleaner, veggie scrub, and as a silver polish
.: perfect for use when hand washing dishes, pots, and pans
.: deodorize fridges, freezers, garbage cans, drains, garbage disposals, and recyclables
.: let's not forget its use as a fire extinguisher!
.: mix with vinegar to unclog drains too!

.: deodorize cars, camper water tanks, and sports gear
.: bring along on camping trips as a go-to product
.: great for cleaning batteries, cars, and oil or grease stains

.: clean upholstery spills, pet toys, carpet spills, walls, and painted furniture
.: deodorize carpets, upholstery, gym bags, sneakers, closets and sheets

.: safe for cleaning baby toys, combs, and equipment
.: deodorize baby bottles, stuffed animals, and diaper pails

.: great for pool care & maintenance
.: clean grills, pool toys, and lawn furniture
.: use as a dry bath for dogs

:: please note: I have mentioned products and brands that I personally choose to use, nothing more- I have not been reimbursed in any way for mentioning these brand names ::

linking up at::

metamorphasis baking

.: "baking shelves" transformation :.
---> before <---
so I do a fair amount of baking, especially with hubby deployed since he always asks for homemade goodies ;) so unfortunately our apartment's kitchen is somewhat lacking in storage, so my baking supplies are relegated to the shelves over the stove... rather irksome since I'm pretty short and can't really reach the top shelf :P anyhoo, there was so much stuff shoved in these two tiny shelves that anytime I needed an item, I'd have to take out four other items to get to it, which made for very inefficient baking.

---> after <---
I'd had enough of the disorganization, so recently I finally got around to reorganizing the shelves. I rearranged some other shelves as well, so some products moved over a cabinet, but it works out sooo much better! Some of my flours {rice, buckwheat, extra spelt} also now reside in the fridge where they'll last longer. The bins are Tupperware, and were a great deal of $10 for four nesting bins, at Walmart. I don't often shop there {as we don't care for their business practices} but I couldn't pass up this deal, especially since I'd been searching for a while for bins like these. All that's left to do is print up some labels with my new lil Dymo :)

top shelf: various nuts, baking cocoa, baking cups, and white chocolate chips.
bottom shelf: baking soda, baking powder, spelt flour, coconut, dark chocolate wafers, kosher salt, white sugar to use up {will be all raw sugar}, dutch-processed cocoa, powdered sugar, white flour {will be all low-gluten flour soon}

the mugs hold my piping supplies- tip, reusable bag, colors. on top of those are random products- some brown sugar to use up, yeast, shortening. In the center/right area are bottles of vinegars- cider, white, red.- agave syrup, vegetable oil, straws.

participating in::
Metamorphasis Monday @ Between Naps on the Front Porch

meal planning

so this is my first take at meal planning. it's not the best, but I found some great recipes and really wanted to try them, so I started with about three dinners I wanted to try and then found other recipes that used similar ingredientts {ie. if one recipe called for half an onion, I tried to find another recipe that also used half an onion so it wouldn't go bad!}.

future {better} menu planning goals::
>> use coupons expiring this week
>> inventory of my pantry to use up products expiring soon {and stop buying duplicates of items I already have!}
>> good balance of grains/produce/proteins

also, a few notes...
>> my meals start on Wednesday and go through Tuesday. This is because I go to the commissary on Tuesday because that's usually when they have the freshest produce! :)
>> I'm a vegetarian and so some meals seem like more of a few side dishes instead of one main meal :) But that's just what works for me!
>> I'm cooking for one currently, as my DH is deployed. breakfast is mostly bagels, eggs, and/or cereal for me {except where noted} unless I've recently made another pastry, then I'll have that, and lunch is always leftovers.

.: 24-30 March 2010 :.
blueberry banana bread {breakfast}
chick pea nibbles
green beans & carrots parmesan
homemade applesauce

split pea fritters with apple rings

marinated asparagus
cheese & potato bread twists
cranberry-apple chutney {dessert}

crepes with chutney {breakfast}
chick pea burgers

pear-cranberry crisp {dessert}

yellow split pea purée with vegetables
cheese & potato bread twists

pasta primavera

participating in::
Menu Plan Monday @ orgjunkie

17 March 2010

diy diffuser art

so I recently saw this reed diffuser sconce in a candle company's catalog. Their price was $35... now I thought to myself, "I really love the look of that, makes the diffuser look like art, but I'm certainly not willing to pay that much for a frame and a little glass bottle..." So I set out to Michael's {coupons in hand!} with the goal of creating this look for less... {above: original photo from here}

Here is what I came up with, for a mere $12! How's that, compared to the original $35? I'd say I got the look for less, and actually, I like mine even better! And really, who doesn't love saving money?? I still purchased the fragrance oil from the candle company.

Looks even better in real life- hard to get good lighting in this apt!

Here's how it broke down:
- $10 frame on clearance
$2 bud vase
- some pebbles I had leftover from a bridal shower I hosted, I think a bag of these usually runs
- diffuser grapefruit scented oil,
$25 for 5 oz. {and the reeds} and using a capfull at a time, I'm expecting it to last probably 6-12 months

participating in:
>> Frigal Friday @ life as mom
>> Frugalicious Friday @
Finding Fabulou$
>> Inspiration Friday @
The Inspired Room

04 March 2010

chocolate-dipped shortbread

These are some shortbreads that I shipped to my hubby overseas {he's deployed with the US Army}... hehe, and I may have eaten a few before they got packaged! To send them, I wrapped each individually in wax paper, then vacuum sealed them all in a gallon-sized bag.

original recipe from Food Network Magazine

.: Directions :.
Beat 2 sticks butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar until fluffy. Whisk 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir into the butter mixture. Press into a buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round tart pan. Score into strips with a fork, then chill 30 minutes. Bake about 1 hour at 300 degrees. Cool, then slice along the scored lines. Dip in melted bittersweet chocolate and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

participating in:
>> Ultimate Recipe Swap @ lifeasmom
>> Strut Your Stuff Thursday @ Somewhat Simple

02 March 2010

stand mixer cupcakes

So I hosted my friend's baby shower, and it was my first time using a piping bag- what fun! I've now begun to expand my collection of tips and icing coloring gel and hope to make more cupcakes and such soon, hehe :) Actually, I'll be making a batch next week, so tune in then to see what I come up with! :)

Anyhoo, here's one of the cupcakes! The theme of the shower was Elephant Alphabet, with colors yellow and grey- thus the yellow frosting with grey sugar confetti :)

These were made using my go-to yellow cake recipe and buttercream frosting! It's a KitchenAid recipe, from the book "Great Baking and More."

.:Quick Yellow Cake:.
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/3 c. sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. shortening {I substitute with butter}
1 c. low-fat milk
2 eggs

Combine dry ingredients in mixer bowl. Add shortening, milk, and vanilla. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute. Stop and scrape bowl. Add eggs. Continuing on Speed 2, mix about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 6 and beat about 1 minute.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 8 or 9-inch round baking pans, . Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

.: Buttercream Frosting :.
1 1/2 sticks butter, softenend
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
low-fat milk {optional}

Place butter in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed 6 and beat 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl.

Sift powdered sugar into bol. Add vanilla. Turn to Speed 2 and beat 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 6 and beat 2 minutes, or until fluffly.

this is cross-posted at {Comestibilis}
participating at Cupcake Tuesday @ Hoosier Homemade