Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sausage, Egg and Biscuit Casserole

I always have good intentions! But, by the time the dark of night falls on our community, the thought of preparing a casserole for the tomorrow's breakfast is just more than I care to tackle. That is just one reason I love this Sausage, Eggs & Biscuits Casserole!

Using kitchen shears, cut your biscuits, toss into a greased 8 x 8 pan, add your drained sausage, egg mixture & cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes, let cool 5 minutes and you have breakfast that will please the whole family!

I used pre-cooked Jimmy Dean sausage patties and Pillsbury Grands. Sausage was perfect, but I think the Grands were too grand! Next time around I will use regular sized biscuits. I also omitted adding any salt as eggs contain salt naturally and the sausage and cheese also contain a healthy dose.

I baked the casserole 35 minutes to make sure the biscuits were cooked through, but then, the top became a little too brown as you can see from the picture. Again, next time I will use smaller biscuits & bake it only 30 minutes. No matter how it is baked, though, the flavor is fabulous!

When serving this dish, don't bother with toast or muffins. There are plenty of carbs in each serving! However, a little fresh fruit on you plate will make a nice accompaniment! I chose honeydew melon and bing cherries.

Your 8 x 8 pan will give you 6 generous servings or 9 smaller servings.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

4 days left, don't let this opportunity slip away!

The GOOD Pins is will be sponsoring a giveaway in the month of June with two chances to win! A $25 amazon giftcard will be awarded to a random facebook fan for each 100 fans The GOOD Pins receives before 6/30/2013. All you have to do is like our facebook page and comment on any one of our recipes or post a recipe you would like to see us make on our wall. That's it! The second $25 amazon giftcard will be awarded to a random fan who shared any link to TheGOODPins, including this giveaway. The more shares you make, the more chances to win.

Click Below to Enter:
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*Amazon is not a sponsor of this promotion. Prizes are being provided by writers of The GOOD Pins blog and facebook fan page.

Hawaiian Chicken

Crock pot meals are so much fun when you are on a tight schedule or just want to focus your energy on things other than meal preparation! Hawaiian Chicken is no exception! Very little effort goes into this tasty dish. but definitely gives you great-tasting results! Serve over rice, add your favorite vegetable and a little fresh fruit and voila, a meal that will please everyone in your family!

I bought a can of pineapple juice, but actually found I didn't need it. I opened a can of pineapple tidbits and the juice measured almost a cup exactly! Plus, there was the added bonus of bits of pineapple throughout! Yummy!

Cost can be another factor, but I found a great way around it! When shopping for chicken breasts, I realized they ran $5.49 per pound...ridiculous! So I ran over to frozen foods to check the price of chicken breasts in a 3 pound bag...$3.00 per pound...still ridiculous! So I headed back to the fresh meat dept. and found split breasts with ribs for a mere $.99 per pound! You will need a sharp knife and about 2 minutes to remove the bones and skin from the chicken. Cut at the solid white bone/cartilage and you will be able to remove the bones with one simple cut! Remove the skin which will also come off in one piece, cut the chicken into bite sized portions & toss into your crock pot! But don't throw the trimmings away. They too are useful. Put them in a medium sized pot (about 2 quarts), add water to cover generously, add about 1/2 tsp. salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for at least an hour. Pour broth through a strainer so no small bones remain and use to cook your rice or freeze and use at a later time for soup, to cook veggies, etc.

One thing I wish I had done during preparation was use a crock pot liner. It would have made cleanup so much easier! So this is a word to the wise...use a liner!

This recipe can be varied. I saw similar recipes that used ginger, peppers, Hawaiian style barbecue sauce...among other things. But whether you keep it simple or let your imagination run wild, I'm pretty sure you will love this dish!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beef Stew and Beef Stew Seasoning

It has been rainy and storming here in Minnesota the last few days. So despite the heat, when I wake up and its still dark out, it kind of makes me think of comfort food. What could be more comforting than a hearty beef stew? I found this recipe, Super Simple Crock Pot Beef Stew, and loved that it was just that, super simple!

This stew is chunky, but missing enough veggies for me. I did add a bag of carrots to the mix, but that is the great thing about beef stew. There are few vegetables that couldn't go in a beef stew. What I found difficult about this recipe was the lack of seasoning directions. Salt Pepper Herbs to taste is very loose and could result in a disaster for someone like me that likes to just start tossing things in. This put me on a hunt for a good combination of seasonings. I wanted something that didn't have MSG or fillers, just a good additive that takes the guesswork out of flavoring. I found this recipe, Beef Stew Seasoning Mix, and it seemed to be the right mix for my family. My husband loves things with a bit of spice, so the cayenne really appealed in this recipe.

As you can see from from the photo, the recipe makes a large quantity. But the great thing, is that this recipe will work for beef stew, pot roast, even a venison roast! The original recipe shows the seasoning packaged for gift giving, so if you are handy with baked items for Christmas, it might even make a nice addition to a food basket.

The combination of the good, basic stew recipe and the flavorful seasoning mix made a stew that my family will not soon forget. My husband was talking last night about how he couldn't wait for leftovers today because he knew with the great seasoning, it would have melded into something fantastic today. These recipes are definitely worth saving, even if the weather is holding you back on stew for now.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Country Club Chicken

I love this recipe for Country Club Chicken! It's easy, it's delicious and it can be varied...three things I truly love about any recipe! Of course, when trying a recipe the first time, I tend to follow it fairly closely and I did. But, the beauty in this recipe is that (other than basics) you don't have to! If for reasons beyond my comprehension you don't like mushrooms, you could add frozen peas perhaps. If you prefer not to use wine (also beyond my comprehension!) you could use chicken broth. And on and on the list goes!

These are the things I did differently. Looking in the pantry, there was no cream of mushroom soup, so I opted for cream of chicken soup. As much as we enjoyed this dish, I am not sure I want to use cream of mushroom next time and I will definitely make it again! It seemed perfectly wonderful with "c of c" soup! I do not mince much of anything, except jalepenos! I like to taste what I am eating. So, the apple, onion and mushrooms were cut into small bite sized pieces and I could taste each wonderful flavor with every bite! Like the author of this recipe did, I too added a little extra cheddar cheese and mushrooms.

Things I will do differently next time. I will let the chicken bake a little longer. I used fairly big chicken breasts, but they need to cook about 45 minutes in the oven for optimum tenderness. I did not salt the chicken as there is plenty of salt in the bacon and soup. I will also top it with chopped, fresh green onions just before serving, simply because we like onions & it will add a little color to the dish!

Things you might consider. This is not a low-calorie dish. However, with a few adjustments, it could work for those counting their calories. Use low fat cheese and soup. Use bacon crumbles and saute your onions, mushrooms and apple in a little bit of low sodium chicken broth. Use that as well in lieu of wine. Omit salting the chicken.

However you make it, whichever ingredients you choose to use...or not use, this dish is perfect for Sunday dinners, guests you want to please or a great way to say "I love my family!" So, go ahead, get creative, and serve this dish in your signature style!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Banana Ice Cream

Okay, so I have seen this a few times, and thought, hmmmm. As many of you know, I have been limiting calories and carbs, so often, I really get a craving. Today, I was thinking about our splurge we have planned all week...Cold Stone. Well, this got me thinking we really should have more dessert. I set off in search of low calorie desserts, and this banana ice cream caught my eye again. I decided to give it a whirl, because I love bananas, what is the worst that could happen? Maybe some mushy bananas.

I will say right now, I did not let my bananas freeze a whole 24 hours...who has time for that when you have a sweet tooth? But, they were frozen hard so I think it was close enough, although the texture might be even more like ice cream if they are frozen all of the way. The tips I saw in looking at the many websites that have this recipe posted included making sure that they are old bananas. Green bananas will be bitter, you want ripe. Furthermore, there are many choices for additions, like chocolate sauce as I did, cocoa powder, strawberries, raspberries, even peanut butter.

A few last comments, be aware, that although there is no added sugar, bananas are high in sugar and carbohydrates on their own. Count carefully! Second, my brother and oldest son both agreed they did not care for it, but they don't care much for bananas, so their judgement means nothing! :) If you don't care for bananas, all of the extra ingredients in the world won't mask the flavor of bananas in this. But, if you do love banana, this will be an excellent alternative to ice cream on a hot, humid day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


ti-ra-mi-su: noun

an Italian dessert with coffee and liquor-soaked layers of sponge cake alternating with mascarpone cheese and chocolate.

Gotta love Italy...the leaning tower of Pisa, the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel and perhaps, best of all, Tiramisu!

We love tiramisu, most especially the Olive Garden version. So when I found a copycat recipe,Tiramisu on Pinterest, was I ever excited! The instructions were easy, the ingredients readily available and the time to prepare it was reasonable.

But, was it everything I hoped for...well, not exactly. I will take partial blame for this though. I spoke with a professional baker who suggested I use lady fingers, rather than baking a sponge cake. I also opted to use Philadelphia cream cheese in lieu of mascarpone cheese. Looking back, had the cake been at least 1 and a 1/2" deep as recommended, I could have used more of the coffee/rum flavoring to intensify the flavor and given the dessert more volume generally. Although I have never used mascarpone cheese, I wish I had tried it. You could immediately recognize the cream cheese flavor in this; something I don't think is so obvious at the Olive Garden! I also found the filling to not be quite as light, fluffy and deep as the restaurant version.

Was it tasty? Absolutely! My husband gave it two thumbs up and would have given it more had he had more available! The version I made was second only to the Olive Garden. It was excellent and something I would be proud to serve even the most discerning tastes!

Will there be a next time? You can count on it! However, I will use a deeper cake, splurge on mascarpone cheese and add a bit of whipped cream to the cheese mixture to add more depth to the filling. But, then I am looking to emulate perfection!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chinese Beef and Broccoli

I LOVE LOVE LOVE chinese food. Unfortunately, most is full of oil, grease and sugar. Anytime I can find a recipe worth making and still considerate of calories and fat, I must try it. This recipe, Beef and Broccoli is probably one of the first chinese dishes I have made that while it is no copycat of takeout chinese, it has enough similar flavor to feel like I am really indulging in something special.

I followed the recipe exactly on the ingredients, other than making one batch with large slices of onion. I have had it at restaurants with shredded carrot too, so definitely be creative. I used frozen broccoli florets and it worked perfectly. Fresh is always great, but sometimes you have to have easy too! Slice the beef as thin as possible, it will make all the difference if you are going for a "restaurant-like" dish. We served this with a side of white rice, but chinese noodles would have been great too.

I wish that I had taken more pictures of this recipe, but honestly, my brother and son liked it without onion, but my husband and I like it with onion, so I made two batches at once and got completely sidetracked on the photos! Forgive me, as this recipe is totally worth sharing and I am going to make it again this week with chicken, so I will share more photos, I promise!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mac and Cheese Muffins

This recipe, Mac and Cheese Muffins, has been posted on Facebook several times over the last few months and I decided it was time to try it! The flavor is fantastic, but be prepared to put a little effort into this dish. You will be cooking the spinach, macaroni and making the sauce at one time, plus preparing the muffin tin, grating cheese & heating the oven. Was it worth it? Definitely!

I haven't used gruyere cheese in very many recipes. After purchasing a mere 4 ounces for almost $7, I know why! But after tasting this, it was worth every cent! Between working and raising a family, boxed macaroni and cheese was always a staple in our pantry. Now that we empty-nestors, we have the luxury of enjoying more sophisticated tastes. Would I make this often? Probably not, simply because of the cost. However, I will make it whenever I want to serve something special to those I love!

A few points on the preparation...use fresh spinach. When the ingredients are this special, your vegetable(s) should be as fresh as possible! I will say that I used minced garlic from a jar and felt I did not sacrifice any flavor. Did you know that 1 measuring teaspoon of minced garlic equals one clove? Makes it simple, doesn't it! Next, when the recipe says to use high fiber macaroni, do it! It is better for you and holds together better. And, as always, cook your macaroni al dente. That is a cardinal cooking rule! Just can't bring yourself to buy a little piece of gold...I mean cheese? You may substitute a mild swiss cheese with similar results. The main reasons to use a cupcake pan are for presentation and portion control. This dish could quite easily be made in a casserole dish. Just don't let the temptation of returning for seconds get the best of you!

However and whenever you serve this dish, you will definitely be pleased with these great mac & cheese muffins!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Still Time Left to Enter The Giftcard Giveaway! 4 days left!

The GOOD Pins is will be sponsoring a giveaway in the month of June with two chances to win! A $25 amazon giftcard will be awarded to a random facebook fan for each 100 fans The GOOD Pins receives before 6/30/2013. All you have to do is like our facebook page and comment on any one of our recipes or post a recipe you would like to see us make on our wall. That's it! The second $25 amazon giftcard will be awarded to a random fan who shared any link to TheGOODPins, including this giveaway. The more shares you make, the more chances to win.

Click Below to Enter:
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*Amazon is not a sponsor of this promotion. Prizes are being provided by writers of The GOOD Pins blog and facebook fan page.

Homemade Pancake Syrup

I follow an online community for moms where someone mentioned their budget being tight. The ladies jumped in and had suggestions for cutting the grocery budget to the max to save money. One of the suggestions was homemade pancake syrup. My eyes lit up and I began searching Pinterest. Was this possible? As a matter of fact it is! The recipe was sugar, water and maple flavoring. I had sugar, I had water, but where does one find maple flavoring? Right in the spices, next to almond and vanilla! It was a little over three dollars for a small bottle of flavoring, but at such a tiny amount, you can make many batches!

There were many recipes online, and some of them used butter and vanilla with no maple flavor, so it all depends on your preference. Now obviously, pure maple syrup tastes awesome. But this is incredibly time consuming, requires access to many maple trees, and I was looking for something that I could adjust sweetness and flavors myself. In fact, my second batch of syrup I doubled the water, left the sugar the same, and added stevia. This made my batch of 2 cups of syrup come out to be 16g of sugar per 1/4 cup. Some of the best commercial syrups have up to 56 grams of sugar per serving!

The kids ate it with waffles this morning and seemed none the wiser that it was any different (I put it in a clean syrup bottle). The great thing about this recipe is that if you made a single serving, you could make enough for a family of four for breakfast and be able to serve it hot right off the stove!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Orange-and-Thyme Grilled Shrimp

This shrimp dish, Orange-and-Thyme Grilled Shrimp is perfect! Coming from Martha Stewart, I should have known! That being said, I can't say I think the dipping sauce is perfect, but did I mention the shrimp is perfect?!! Ok, so you get my drift. The flavors are just right. Nothing overwhelms the shrimp, only enhances it. I allowed the shrimp to marinate about an hour and a half, but as the recipe suggests, you can begin the marinating process in the morning without losing the integrity of your entree.

I added red peppers to the skewers because I not only wanted to add a little color to the dish, but peppers cook quickly as do the shrimp. I happened upon a great sale at Costco for the shrimp, so I used a pound of tiger shrimp. Should you opt to use larger shrimp, remember that they will take a minute or two longer to grill. The recipe reminds us to put olive oil on the grill and that can easily be done by using a small pastry brush. A small amount of oil will be sufficient. Her tip to soak the wooden skewers in water for a half hour is very important. Don't get side-tracked and forget that step!

As for the dipping sauce, I am not especially fond of mayonnaise sauces. Now that I have made that confession, I can say in all honesty that my husband and I both felt the dip was very bland. After the initial taste test, I added a Tbs. of honey and chopped about 2 Tbs. of fresh orange into the dip. Although I felt it tasted better, the end result was that it was still mayonnaise. I think a better choice may have been an orange marmalade based dip.

Should you choose to use larger shrimp, you will need about 6 skewers, putting 2 shrimp on each one. If using shrimp that have about 24 per pound, you will also need 6 skewers, but will put 4 shrimp on each stick.

This recipe is an excellent choice anytime, but this will definitely be on my short list for the Fourth of July! Served with fresh corn on the cob and a slice of ice cold watermelon, you will have a meal worth celebrating!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pumpkin Energy Bars

This great recipe, Jamie's Pumpkin Energy Bars, was submitted through our facebook fan page by a reader who was really interested in the outcome of this recipe. I love anything with pumpkin so this recipe really intrigued me as well.

First of all, this recipe requires a few ingredients that you may not have in your pantry on a daily basis. However, the ingredients are things that can definitely be used for other recipes as well if you are eating clean and/or a high protein/low carbohydrate diet. Another thing to consider is that you can substitute ingredients if you need to. It will change the nutritional value, but I figured the nutrition for all regular ingredients, including oil for the baby apple sauce and real brown sugar for the xylitol, and it still was only 70 calories and 7 carbohydrates, so really a reasonable number for a delicious treat.

As you can see above, these bars are definitely more cake-like than the energy bars you buy in the store. At first, I thought I did something wrong until I read the reviews on the recipe. It seems that this is the outcome for most. When these were fresh out of the oven, I couldn't keep my kids out of them. They tasted like warm pumpkin bread. This recipe is definitely something that will be made again in our house and a special thanks to the reader that suggested I try these!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Scalloped Asparagus

Looking for a dish that will celebrate the special men in your life on Fathers' Day...or any day? Scalloped Asparagus does just that! It's a very flavorful dish that combines flavors in a most delicious way! The recipe says it takes 40 minutes total to make and you should allow all of that, plus a few extra minutes...just in case! If this is one of several dishes being served, it will feed 5-6; otherwise plan on feeding 4.

I didn't have grated shredded swiss cheese in the fridge, so I used thin slices cut in half to top this dish. In retrospect, I would highly recommend the shredded cheese, so the flavors will blend better and will be easier to spoon onto plates.

If you are a cheese-eating vegetarian, this recipe is one you will want to keep handy. The dish is hearty and would make a great meal with nothing more than a garden salad to compliment it!

The amount of cayenne pepper is just right for adults, but may not appeal to young children. This would also be fabulous for brunch. A few bacon crumbles on top could put it over the top!

So go ahead and spoil those men this weekend with Scalloped Asparagus. They are sure to love it almost as much as they love their families!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I may have mentioned recently in another post that I am dieting...ummm, lifestyle changing. Dessert doesn't fit on a restricted carbohydrate diet. I am not even doing true low carb, but 120 carbs sure doesn't seem like much. Looking at dessert recipes, I could tell that flour was a big source of carbs behind sugar. Not wanting to deprive myself from a treat, I didn't want to lose out on the sugar! Knowing a few people that do a gluten-free diet, I knew there were recipes out there that touted flourless treats. This recipe, Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies was another recipe that made me scratch my head. Do these ingredients really yield a cookie that looks like my mom's christmas treat?

This recipe only calls for peanut butter, sugar, egg and baking soda. Yet the cookie really is like a real cookie! I made the recipe not like the small, fork-printed circles that one would picture a peanut butter cookie, but as a large, cookie cake. The reason? My son graduated 5th grade today and LOVES cookie cakes. So I turned this flourless experiment into a celebration cake with a little blue icing.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Crock Pot Banana Bread Quinoa

A dear friend sent me a healthy breakfast recipe right before the weekend. Of course, this inspired me to make a special treat. Crock Pot Banana Bread Quinoa looked like a perfect saturday morning breakfast.

First of all, finding quinoa turned out to be more of a challenge than I realized. I asked at the grocery store, where a young man gave me the look of bewilderment, leading me to believe I may not even know how to pronounce quinoa correctly. He consulted another employee who fortunately, did know where it was. After I found my way to the organic/nutrition aisles, I found the quinoa in the bulk dispenser was completely gone! Apparently there was a rush on quinoa this week! Luckily, there was a bag of Bob's Red Mill, and I was on my way.

I remembered to put the ingredients in the crock pot about 2am on Friday night/Saturday morning. Realizing that I would probably sleep in, I added an extra half cup of water to the mix. I set the alarm for 8am and passed out. When I got up and checked under the lid, I found that the quinoa was less cereal-like and more glue-like. It had scorched and stuck to all sides of the crockpot. Luckily, I was able to salvage the middle and give it a fair assessment.

Despite requiring a razor blade to remove the scorched quinoa from the sides, the recipe itself was actually pretty good. My husband did not care for the texture of the quinoa, as it takes on kind of a thick cream of wheat texture once cooked. I actually enjoyed it a lot, but I grew up on cream of wheat for breakfast. Changes I would make would include adding more spices to the mixture, perhaps cinnamon and nutmeg. Second, I would adjust the water to the way your crockpot cooks. If it runs hot, definitely add more water and perhaps make it the night before when you can watch it. Overall, this recipe has a lot of potential and just requires a little tweaking.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GiftCard Giveaway!

The GOOD Pins is will be sponsoring a giveaway in the month of June with two chances to win! A $25 amazon giftcard will be awarded to a random facebook fan for each 100 fans The GOOD Pins receives before 6/30/2013. All you have to do is like our facebook page and comment on any one of our recipes or post a recipe you would like to see us make on our wall. That's it! The second $25 amazon giftcard will be awarded to a random fan who shared any link to TheGOODPins, including this giveaway. The more shares you make, the more chances to win.

Click Below to Enter:
The GOOD Pins Facebook Fan Page

*Amazon is not a sponsor of this promotion. Prizes are being provided by writers of The GOOD Pins blog and facebook fan page.

Lemony Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Healthy cheesecake? I knew I had to try this one, and quickly!!! Lemony Greek Yogurt Cheesecake promises a rich dessert without the rich dessert calories. Obviously, this brought out the skeptic in me. I took a lot of pictures of this process and I was sure if this worked, it would be made often in this house!

The entire recipe is made in a food processor. How easy is that? I added all of the ingredients besides the lemon, pulsed a few times, then grated the lemon rind and squeezed in the juice.

The recipe has a recipe within it for the crust, or says use a pre-made crust. I did use a low fat premade crust, but I think I would make my own next time. I think that I could still make it low fat but probably taste even better.

This cheesecake is just like a real cheesecake, and painfully bakes for almost an hour. The anticipation was torture. While baking, it smells like a real cheesecake and fills the house with the scents of homemade goodness.

My only complaint, if you want to call it that, is that the cake does not come out of the pan neatly. Even chilled, the form is slightly softer than a real cheesecake. However, don't let the uneven removal fool you, this cheesecake is wonderful. I will definitely make it again, and possibly venture into other fruit flavors. I hope you give this one a chance for a future summer event!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Carne Picada

Another first time dish for this cook and I am so glad I tried it. The flavors in this recipe, Carne Picada, meld perfectly and was delicious over white rice. Others have suggested you roll it up in a tortilla shell or serve it in a taco shell and I believe that would work nicely as well. I had some reservations when making this that the spices and other ingredients would overwhelm the beef, but was I ever wrong! Everything worked perfectly together to create a great supper!

The beef was purchased at a local Walmart and this was the first time I ever bought this cut of meat...or to be more specific, I should say shaved beef pieces! I have never seen it sold anywhere else in this manner. Basically, it's cheaper cuts of beef shaved extremely thin. The recipe says to cook several minutes, then turn to low and let simmer about 15 minutes. I held back on adding the tomatoes, allowed the meat to simmer the full 15 minutes, then added the tomatoes and simmered an additional 5 minutes. Because this is not very tender beef, I would suggest letting it simmer on low 30 minutes, adding the tomatoes 5 minutes before it is done.

You may be able to buy the adobo dry rub at the supermarkets, but I decided to make my own. I found a terrific recipe for it and it made enough that I will use it to season almost any kind of meat from hamburgers to pork steaks. It can only enhance your entree! Because I didn't find the recipe on pinterest (although it may be there somewhere), I am posting it here for your convenience.

Adobo Dry Rub

Adobo dry rub is used to season meat, poultry and fish. You can customize the recipe by adjusting the ingredients based on the spices you prefer.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
· 6 Tablespoons Salt
· 6 Tablespoons Granulated Garlic
· 4 Tablespoons Oregano
· 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
· 2 Tablespoons Turmeric
· 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder


Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Serves: Makes between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 cups of seasoning.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Homemade Orange Cleaner

I have made my own cleaners for a few years now, particularly a spray cleaner with tea tree oil, vinegar and water. While this does a great job cleaning and it believed that tea tree oil has antibacterial properties, the smell is less than enjoyable, especially when compared to commercial cleaners with perfumes. When I spotted this Homemade Orange Cleaner, I knew I had to try! I peeled and sliced an entire bag of clementines and half a bag of oranges and piled my peels high. I had a partial bottle of vinegar left from my own homemade cleaner, so I used what was left with the massive pile of peels. I filled as many peels in the bottle as would still be covered by vinegar.

Two weeks later, and here is what the mixture looks like. Kind of gross, a thin skin across the top, and apparently a white sticker from an orange peel that I missed! To be honest, it was a little scary looking. I poured it out of the bottle through a strainer into a spray bottle. I added the required water and shook. I sprayed down my kitchen counter and wiped. While I will admit, I didn't smell the fabulous scent of oranges that I was hoping for, I did not smell a strong scent of vinegar as I am used to smelling when I clean. It was actually pleasant and my countertop looks great!

I have added several varieties of pure essential oils to my homemade cleaners to make them smell less like vinegar and tea tree oil, and I think this one could also be enhanced with an orange essential oil if you are looking for a strong scent like a commercial product. However, The smell is pleasant on its own and knowing I am cleaning without leaving a chemical residue for my family is enough to make me continue to use this product for sure.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cola Meatballs

After a recent gathering, we were left with some Coke, so I was extremely happy to find this recipe, Cola Meatballs that would turn this canned treat into a delicious meal! Cola Meatballs is an outstanding that I will definitely make again!

Unless you have time on your hands, I would suggest doing a little prep work the night before or early in the morning. Just preparing the meatballs beforehand will leave you valuable time that evening with your family or friends! I used a small scoop that was also a great time saver.

You may want to remember that, if you are rolling the meatballs by hand, do not compress or overroll the mixture. This will make the meatballs tough. I baked the meatballs & sauce 55 minutes and they were perfect!

As you can see from the picture, I served the meatballs over no yolk dumplings that I made al dente. I cooked mine two minutes less than the least amount called for in the directions and they held the sauce well, but were still tender. This dish could also be served with rice or your favorite noodles and would be equally delicious.

Fresh broccoli & fruit completed the meal in our home, but would be fabulous with a tossed salad as well.

This recipe says it serves six and that is accurate, unless of course, you are feeding lumberjacks at your house!