Monday, June 27, 2011

Extending Your Daughter's Wardrobe

Kid's clothes can take up a big chunk of the family budget. Figuring out ways to extend how long they can wear something really helps with how much money you have to spend on new items. 

I have a daughter that grows up much faster than she fills out so everything still fits her through the chest and shoulders, but is way too short to keep wearing. Since my other daughter is eight years behind her, saving her nice things to pass down doesn't make a lot of sense. Instead, I have learned to sew on ruffles, lace, or strips of fabric to lengthen then. The example I just did is a dress, but strips of fabric or ruffles can also look very cute on the bottom of capris or cropped pants.

Here is a very cute summer dress Sarah has gotten too tall for. I decided to add 6 inches of yellow fabric to the bottom. 

It turned out to be just adorable! It took about 10 minutes and only cost me about $4.00 - hooray! You don't have to be a master seamstress to do this project. It just takes a straight seam and a hem. If you haven't learned how to sew, ask a friend who does to teach you this simple approach. If you have a daughter, it will save lots of money over time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hamburger Buns

Making Hamburger Buns is quick and easy once you have figured out making bread dough. You'll find one of our favorite recipes here. Really, any basic bread dough will work, you can even use frozen dough if that is how you do things in your kitchen.

When I make bread, I always fill my big mixer so it gives me enough for 3 loaves. This picture shows me dividing the dough into 3 equal portions.

Flatten one portion out to be the height of a wide mouth canning ring.

Use the canning ring as a cookie cutter to cut out the hamburger buns.

Place buns on a greased baking sheet. I always shape the remaining dough into a bun the best I can. You'll notice the "odd" looking one squished in the middle there. Allow enough room between buns for them to rise without touching.

Spray the tops of the buns with Pam and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you want to. I don't usually bother with this step, but I wanted you to see the true result. Let the buns rise until about double in size.

Bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. You can see the "odd" bun quite well here. Oh well, my husband isn't picky. He'll love the little bit bigger bun. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and use for hamburgers, sloppy joes, pulled pork, chicken salad, etc. These freeze very well so don't hesitate to make a large batch one day and be set for quite a few meals. If you  freeze sloppy joe filling or pulled pork, you'll have an entire meal ready to go in 10 minutes or less for a busy night.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Activity Tablecloth

Here's my little Emma ready to go - 

It is much less expensive to keep your furniture looking new as long as possible so you don't have to replace it as often. One way to keep your table looking nice and new is to purchase a flannel backed plastic tablecloth when you can find it on clearance. My kids have learned that when they want to color, paint, or play with playdough the tablecloth has to be put on the table first. Activity aprons or paint shirts can fill the same purpose so the kids' clothing lasts longer.

So whether you are a mom with younger children or a grandma with kids coming to visit often, check out the clearance racks after every major holiday. You can usually find these tablecloths marked down to $2-3. We us the same one for a few years at a time. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happiness and Self-respect Come From Self-reliance

. . . all people are happier and feel more self-respect when they can provide for themselves and their family and then reach out to take care of others. I have been grateful for those who helped me meet my needs. I have been even more grateful over the years for those who helped me become self-reliant. And then I have been most grateful for those who showed me how to use some of my surplus to help others.

I have learned that the way to have a surplus is to spend less than I earn. With that surplus I have been able to learn that it really is better to give than to receive.

Source: Henry B. Eyring "Opportunities to Do Good" April 2011 General Conference

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chewy (Egg-free) Cinnamon Cookies

Oh so tasty! If you like snickerdoodles, you will love this recipe. It has the chewy texture you expect with lots of cinnamon flavor. Who knew you could bake something so delicious with 1/2 the fat and no eggs? These are definitely worth trying and they freeze very well so don't hesitate to double the batch.

Chewy (egg-free) Cinnamon Cookies

½ cup butter
2 tsp baking soda
½ cup white bean puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ⅔ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour ¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Cream together butter, bean puree and sugar. Add flour, baking soda, and vanilla. It will look pretty dry at this point. Slowly add in the oil and mix until it has pulled together into cookie dough consistency. If it is too dry, add 1-2 more Tbsp of oil. Form into balls and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place on greased baking sheets and flatten slightly with your hand. Bake at 350° F for 8–10 minutes. Pull them out of the oven just as they are beginning to turn light brown in a couple of spots. They still look pretty doughy overall. Allow to rest on baking sheet for about 5 minutes to set and them move to a wire rack to cool. Makes 3 dozen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Brownies

I experimented (as I am becoming famous for doing) on a whole wheat brownie recipe using bean puree. Knowing I was serving it to company, I played it a bit safe and didn't remove all the eggs and the fat. What I came up with is much more healthy than your everyday, average, run-of-the mill brownie from a mix. All the kids who were over devoured them and came back for seconds and thirds so I think I can count it a success. My kids didn't even warn them too loudly that I am always experimenting when company is coming over so be careful. (I did decide that next time I will cook it in two 9X13 pans instead of a jelly roll pan. It ran over the edge a little.)

Whole Wheat Brownies
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup black or white bean puree
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water

Mix all the ingredients until well blended and smooth. Pour batter into 2 greased 9x13 pans and spread evenly. Sprinkle mini-chocolate chips and English toffee bits on top. You could also sprinkle nuts, if desired. One of the kids who came over has a nut allergy so we left them off. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done when tested with a toothpick.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Food Storage Classes

To help all of us in the Boise area better motivate each other, I am offering a few classes this summer at my home -  
Tuesday, June 28th 1:00 pm Making Yogurt with Powdered Milk
Cost $1.00 per family
Making yogurt is one of the tastiest ways to rotate your powdered milk and it really expands the meals you can add to your food storage meal plan. Come learn how easy it really is. There will be tasting samples.
Monday, July 11th 1:00 pm Bread Making  Basics
Cost $2.00 per family
Bring a loaf pan or a baking sheet. Everyone will leave with a loaf of bread to bake for dinner.
Thursday, August  4th 1:00 pm Dehydrating Fruit
Cost $1.00 per family
Dehydrating fruit is a simple way to preserve food for later use. We will cover the basics of making your own healthy fruit rolls/snacks for your family and what to look for when purchasing a dehydrator. There will be tasting samples.

Children are always welcome to come and play while you learn. Older children are welcome to come learn with us. Space is limited to the first 12-15 people so email me at and I will reserve your spot.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Whole Wheat Tortillas

You won't think making tortillas is worth the work until you've tasted a homemade tortilla. If you are one of the lucky ones who has tasted a tortilla hot off the griddle, you will be more than just a little excited about trying your hand at this recipe.
Make your dough.

Divide it into balls.

Cover the dough balls with a moist paper towel for 1-8 hours. You read that right - it takes at least one hour for the gluten in the wheat flour to relax so the tortillas are easier to roll out. You can leave it longer though depending on the demands of your day.

Cut the edges off of a gallon size ziplock bag to create two heavy-duty pieces of plastic. Roll out each dough ball until very thin between the layers of plastic. This is where the kids have fun helping you. We've even had taco parties and our guests have fun taking turns rolling these out. You can place a bowl upside down over the top and cut around it to create perfect circle tortillas if you want to. We don't mind the homemade appearance. Cook on a hot griddle as you would a pancake. Fill with your favorite taco filling or turn them into delicious sandwich wraps. They also taste great in Mexican Lasagna.

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas

4 cups whole wheat flour
½ – ¾ cup shortening
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups boiling water
2 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Rub the shortening in by hand until the dough is the texture of oatmeal. Make a well in the center and pour in the boiling water. Mix with a fork until the water is all mixed in. Sprinkle with a little additional flour and knead with your hands until the dough does not stick to your fingers. Divide into balls about the size of golf balls and place on a tray. Cover with a moist paper towel and allow to sit for at least one hour or up to 8 hours. This makes them much easier to roll out. Cut the seams off a gallon-size ziplock bag creating two pieces of heavier plastic. Roll each ball out between the two pieces of plastic as thin as possible. Place a tortilla on a hot griddle. As soon as you see a bubble on top (in about 10 seconds) flip the tortilla over. Cook for about 30 seconds. Flip and cook the other side for an additional 30 seconds. Roll out the next tortilla while you wait for one to cook. Continue until all the balls are done. Store your cooked tortillas between two kitchen towels to keep them warm and soft before serving. These freeze well.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Surprise Pancakes

We play a game at our home every time I make pancakes. The kids have to guess the "secret" ingredient. I often use the Krusteaz just add water mix, but it also works with any of my homemade mixes. 
Pour into your bowl the amount of mix you will need.

Add 1/2 - 1 cup pureed peaches, pears, bananas, pumpkin, applesauce, etc. (Yogurt even works) and then add enough water to make it the right consistency.

Sprinkle in a bit of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice and mix one last time.

Cook on a hot griddle and serve with your favorite jam or syrup.

The addition of pureed fruit gives us one more serving that we wouldn't normally have. I feel good about getting vitamin rich fruits and vegetables into our diet wherever I can. The kids also love trying to guess what I've put in the pancakes for the day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gardens Teach Self-sufficiency

“Food grown in a home garden can be part of the overall family storage plan. It may be thought of as “living” storage. Planting a garden, even a small one, allows for a greater degree of self-reliance. “  

“In the environment in which we live today, we all should be looking to greater self- sufficiency, a greater spirit of self-reliance, a greater desire to take care of ourselves and our own.”   –Gordon B. Hinckley Nov. 1982

Growing your own vegetables in containers or mixed in with your flower beds is the new excitement in our communities is seems. The Farmer's Markets are packed with people looking for fresh, locally grown produce. 

The principle of planting a garden and learning firsthand the law of the harvest has been taught for generations. It does require some work, so  it seems that many people do it for a few years and then cycle through a period of letting it go.  I invite you to plant at least one thing this year. It is not too late. You can purchase starts from a local nursery and try something. You will be glad you did. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

French Bread Pan

One year for Christmas, my husband surprised me with a gift that I didn't even know existed! It's a French Bread Pan. You can get them in single or double loaf versions. I love it! It gets used often around here.
Shape your loaves and place them on the pan. The holes on the bottom help to give it a crispy crust and the shape of the pan allows the bread to rise up instead of out and rather flat like it does on a baking sheet. (I had used a baking sheet for years so if that is all you have, the bread still tastes great! The appearance just isn't as authentic.)

We gobbled up one loaf so quickly that I only got a picture of one of the finished loaves. For you bread bakers out there, now you have something to put on your Birthday or Christmas wish list - or maybe you'll have to grab one "just because."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pizza Pie or Calzone in a Pan

My husband and I  enjoyed an afternoon in the kitchen one day and came up with this dish based on one he remembered his mom making when they were growing up. You begin my making bread dough. Any basic bread dough or pizza dough recipe will work. You need enough dough for 2 pizzas so you will want a recipe that calls for 5-6 cups of flour. Double your favorite recipe if you need to. Here is one that you could use. While the dough is rising, mix the filling together.
Make a sloppy joe mixture using browned hamburger and canned sloppy joe mix or spaghetti sauce. Add a can of green beans and some sliced olives.

Once your dough has finished rising, roll it out to fit in the bottom and up the sides of a 9x13 pan. 

Here I am working with it to fit. You want to roll it quite thin and don't stretch it too much or it will just shrink while it is baking.

Just work with it a bit - it is much easier than pie crust because it doesn't tear too easily.

Pour the filling onto the dough.

Spread it out and fill the pan quite full.

Top with shredded cheese.

Roll the other dough out to fit the top. Crimp the edges.

Cut a few slits to allow the steam to vent.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Top with additional shredded cheese and pop back in the oven just long enough to allow the cheese to melt.

Cut into squares and serve with your favorite salad. 

You can easily do a smaller size pizza pie or even do individual ones calzone style. Sausage in the filling would also be great.