Archive for September, 2012

Fall is in the air here and I am in love this is my absolute favorite time of year. The next three months are the best I love cold weather boots scarves, hats,warm welcoming colors apples, pie, turkey, and christmas dinner.  I love Halloween costumes, parties, and everything about fall. But I love love love the food.I am a comfort food maker I really am the best at comfort foods I think it is because of the lifestyle I have everyone in my family wants full filling stick to your ribs food all the time year round. My kids do to. While I can appreciate the occasional sushi lunch and light salad I also love having a good ole pot roast or stew,I also love soup and today I am posting one of my favorites Broccoli Cheese soup This is another recipe form one of my favorite people Ree Drummond or otherwise known as the Pioneer woman. Here is a LINK to this recipe on her blog.

Here is our cast of Ingredients

broccoli cut into florets as many as you like I used two bushels of broccoli

Onion diced

Cheese about 4 cups



nutmeg about 1/2tsp

Butter 1/2cup

half and half  2 cups

milk 4 cups

1/3 cup of flour

First things First lets dice the onions and melt some butter

I used a whole onion because I love onion and this makes a pretty large pot of soup saute them together for a few min until the butter is melted then lets add the flour and make roux

Stir this around for a few min until its bubbly but make sure that you don’t burn it quickly add the milk and half and half to the pot and whisk it all together.

Then lets at a little nutmeg I know it sounds a bit odd but the nutmeg compliments the broccoli and it makes the soup just a little extra special.

Now it’s time to add the broccoli florets as many as you chose to have

After Broccoli lets give it a little seasoning salt and plenty of pepper it is a big pot after all and I love pepper. At this point we are just going to let it simmer for a while until your brocoli is tender not mushy tender watch it closely then we add my favorite CHEESE!!!! Oh how I love cheese I love all cheese from the processed Velveeta to the finest aged cheese I love them all.

Okay lets add the cheese already…..

After you dump your cheese in stir until melted If you like your soup chunky you are done serve now if you want a smooth soup you can do what I did next I dumped it in my Ninja and whipped it up nice and smooth.

Then pour it in a bowl garnish with a a little extra cheese and voila a warm thick soup to warm your insides on a cold crisp fall day!!!


(the Sticks)


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Ever scrub and scrub your stovetop and find those difficult spills that won’t come off?  And of course if you do get it off, you break a nail or two accomplishing that.  Try sprinkling some salt on it first and then scrub.  The salt should act as an abrasive agent that will scrape those nasty spots off without scratching your stovetop.

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I have tried the liquid and dry version of homemade laundry soap and prefer the dry version for one reason really.  It takes far less space to store!  Now, I had some concern that the dry version would not dissolve properly but after trying and using for about 6 months now, I have not had that issue, ever.  I should also mention that I have seen sooo many claims that the homemade version of laundry detergent work even better than the store bought.  I have to disagree, or at least not make that same claim.  I find that it definitely works just as good, WITH LESS COST, but I can’t claim for sure that it works better.  It might, but not noticeably so.  Anyway, since it is cheaper and works just as well and does not take too much work, I make it.  My family all (except me somehow) has sensitive skin and eczema issues so I have to use detergent that is not loaded with perfumes and things and this works for that too.
Start with your array of material.  You need oxi clean (this is the most expensive part), Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, Borax, & Fels Naptha and/or Zote.
Oh and a bowl, a grater, and a blender (not shown here).

Next, grate your soap.  Whichever brand of soap you use is totally fine, if you make more than one batch at a time you can even mix them.  Each batch of soap requires 1 bar of 5-7oz soap.  I am making three batches at a time here so I have one 5 oz bar of FelsNaptha and one 14 oz bar of Zote.  Once grated, I like to spread mine out and let it dry out for a few hours but you don’t have to.

Put it in a bowl and add 1 cup Borax, 1 cup super washing soda, and 1/2 cup oxiclean for EACH batch.  So for my example here, I am using 3 cups borax, 3 cups super washing soda, and 1 1/2 cups oxiclean.

Stir it up as best you can.

In sections that fill only about 1/3 to 1/2 the blender, pour the mixture in and blend REALLY well.  If you put too much in the blender at a time, it will get stuck in the bottom and sort of clump up while it tries to blend.

You will end up with the mixture of laundry soap that looks like this if you use only FelsNaptha soap:

Or like this if you only use Zote soap:

Or like this if you use both soaps:

I typically use 1 T of this for a small load of laundry, 1 1/2 T for a medium, and 2 T for a large load of laundry.  I do add a little bit more if the clothes are super soiled.  I have heard though that some people need less and some need more, just see what happens.  Also, I have also used this in an HE washer with NO problems.  HE washers need detergent that does not “sud” as much, that is what I have heard is the only difference and this fulfills that.  With that thought, please don’t be surprised or concerned if this does not produce “suds”.  And of course, I have to mention that while I have had no issues with the use of this soap in HE washers, I cannot guarantee the results of the use of this laundry soap, in any machine.

Oh and the cost, depending on where you buy and how much each item costs, I have calculated and measured it out to cost approximately $3.20 per batch.

Happy Saving,

Erin (The Burbs)

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We eat a pretty good deal of chicken.  I am trying to lose weight and get more healthy in general.  I do not ONLY eat chicken but I do eat red meats in smaller amounts these days and since I do not like pork, we eat chicken.  Needless to say, I need variety in chicken.  This is a basic marinade (that could work for ANY cut of chicken really) with a few easy varieties.  This is also one you can prepare and freeze.

Start with whatever chicken cut you prefer and put it in a ziplock bag (or a bowl if you plan to cook it that day and prefer not to waste the bag).  Label it if you plan to freeze it for later cooking.

Next add all of the following ingredients to the bag (or bowl): 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 T season salt, 3 T red wine vinegar, 1 T lemon juice, 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced), and ground pepper to taste.

Next, pick a variation and add the ingredients for it:

Sage: 1 T dried Sage


Oregano: 1 T dried Oregano


Thyme: 2 T  dried Thyme


Rosemary: 1 1/2 T dried Rosemary


Mint: 2 1/2 T fresh Mint, minced

Close the bag and squish and move it around a lot to equally distribute and mix all the ingredients together.

Finally, either freeze the bag for later cooking or allow to marinate for several hours.

When it comes time to cook, set the oven to 400F.  Place the chicken on a lightly oiled pan (I use a grate in the pan because I don’t like my chicken to sit in its own grease, just a preference).

Bake for about 20 minutes and then turn them over.  Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the juices run clear.  Serve with something, I chose stuffing today.

Don’t you love the chipped plates I always use for the pictures!  I should probably note at this point that I do not purposefully choose the chipped plates for my pictures, it is more simple (and sad) than that.  The truth is, ALL my plates are chipped.  Our last apartment had no dishwasher and our plates paid the sad price of handwashing.  Eventually we will purchase new ones but for now, pretty chips!


Erin (The Burbs)

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I recently discovered that dog treats are not that difficult or time consuming to make.  I am sure there are recipes out there that are time consuming and difficult but there are some simple ones that work just fine.  Here are some peanut butter dog treats I made that my little dogs LOVE!

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a bowl, mix 2 eggs and 1/2 cup peanut butter together with a whisk.

Next add 1/2 tsp salt, 2 T dry milk powder, 1 1/2 cups wheat flour (wheat flour does actually work better, it is not simply for health reasons).  Start mixing together, it will get hard.  Add 1 1/2 to 2 T water depending on the need.  You will most likely have to knead your dough here because a spoon just will NOT cut it.  Mix it well, and don’t worry, the dough is a little…crumbly.  Sorry, no picture of the kneading, my hands were busy and Husband was unavailable to assist.

Next, roll the dough out to just under 1/4 inch thick.  It is a little difficult because the dough is crumbly, do the best you can.  Here is a picture of the dough I rolled out, it ended up in a few pieces of rolled out dough.

Next, use a cookie cutter to cut treats out.  These don’t expand or puff or anything so pick a cookie cutter with a size that you would like the treats to be in the end.  Mine were about 1 in x 1/2 in, my dogs are very small Chihuahuas (which my daughter lovingly and very seriously calls sushiwuawuas).  Place them on a slightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes on one side and flip them over and bake again for about 10 minutes.  You are baking them until right before they start to turn brown.  Let them cool completely and all done!

I hope your doggies like them!  These would make good neighbor gifts for any of those dog lovers out there.

Erin, The Burbs

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My Visitor

I had an interesting visitor today, whenever I have an odd visitor like the one I had today I get a little nervous because I am strange and believe in omens. About this time last summer I had a bat hang out on my window and I went into a full blown bad omen tizzy just to find out they were good to have around. This was who came to me this evening.

This beautiful creature and me stared at each other for a few min and I was even able to capture a few great photos. But I did get the cold blooded chill tonight while in the company of the bird and that of course sent me online to look into this animal and what it means to cross paths with an owl.

Now I know I live in the middle of the sticks and that it shouldn’t be that uncommon to run into an owl but let me just tell you that I have yet to come face to face with one while living in here.

While doing my mini research project I did find some interesting information about owls. So here is what I found……

Throughout many cultures, the symbolic meaning of owl deals with:

  • intelligence
  • brilliance
  • perspective
  • intuition
  • quick-wit
  • independence
  • wisdom
  • protection
  • mystery
  • power

Native American tribes (primarily plains’ Indians) viewed the owl as a protector against harm and their feathers  were ritually worn to ward of evil spirits.

Ancient Athenians made the owl an emblem of wisdom and even emblazoned the image of the owl on their coinage.  To the ancient Greeks, the owl is a symbol of Athene who is goddess of foresight & knowledge.

Taking symbolism from the owl directly, it is noteworthy that it is a creature of the night.   Nocturnal creatures are symbolic of inner-knowing, psychic ability, and intuition – so too is the owl.

If an owl has visited you, an incredible gift has been bestowed.  Also, keep in mind that animals are only called to those who share the same energy.  In other words, you hold within you some of the very same symbolic attributes the owl represents.

To illustrate, you may have abilities to know things that others do not know.  It may be likely you have very strong intuitive abilities that can be fine-tuned.  Further, you may be strong-willed person, and/or have a protective side to you.  I can already tell from your email that you are mentally sharp – so we know you have this in common with the owl already.

These owl sightings may be messages for you to develop your education further.  Or, the owl may be trying to tell you to develop your intuition further.

Owls also show themselves as a sign of warning (no, not of death).  You simply need to pay close attention to people around you – owls are incredibly perceptive – you are probably perceptive too – use your powers of perception around new people you may meet.  Not everyone is as nice, or “cool” as they seem to be. this information was found here.
I found plethora a information on the internet all of them about the same as the information I shared here I have some personal things going on in my life right now that I can use some of the information I found to help deal with them. Maybe I am crazy maybe I imagined something, maybe it just wanted to eat my baby kittens. But Maybe just maybe it was a message of some sort.


The Sticks

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These are my FAVORITE!!!  I love to make cupcakes but I actually don’t love to eat them.  Every time I make cupcakes, they have to be pawned off to family, neighbors, the occasional stranger that will take them (just teasing on that one) BUT these ones I eat.  So another issue is that I don’t like to do more traditional cupcakes with “sprinkles” or decorations.  Lets face it, they look cute but don’t really taste that exciting.  I go in search of many different kinds of cupcakes and flavors and find a TON of interesting ones but I am at high altitudes and NONE of them work here!  It is very frustrating so I went back to basics and learned the “science” of baking (or at least the basic need to know stuff).  Now, I make it my mission to convert great cupcake recipes to high altitude great cupcake recipes.  This particular recipe is adapted for high altitude from an original found on http://www.createdby-diane.com.  Now there are no pictures for process here, I apologize, no batteries in the camera today.
Preheat oven to 370F (350F for non high altitude).

With a beater, beat 1/2 cup butter, which has already been allowed to warm to room temperature, until smooth.  Add 2/3 cup sugar and beat until just mixed (it may bunch up a little here, no problem).  Add 3 eggs (1 at a time), which have also been allowed to warm to room temperature first.  After adding each, beat just long enough to barely incorporate into the mixture (we don’t want to over mix).  After the last egg, you can beat a little bit longer to make sure that the mixture has thoroughly mixed through.  Add 1 and 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder (1 1/2 tsp for all you non high altitude bakers), and 1/2 t salt.  Beat those in until just thoroughly mixed.  Add 1/8 cup lime juice and 1/8 cup margarita mix (the liquid prepared kind) and beat in until well mixed.  If you would like to add some lime zest, the time to do it would be with the lime juice and margarita mix.  Diane from http://www.createdby-diane.com used the zest of 2 limes for hers but I am not a fan of adding zest to my baked goods so I skipped it and they tasted fantastic so completely up to you!

Put cupcake liners in a cupcake baking tin and fill each one 1/2 to 3/4 full of batter.  Put in the oven and watch carefully.  I ended up to doing one pan of regular sized cupcakes and about a dozen mini ones because there was enough batter to do so.  My regular sized cupcakes took about 13 minutes and my mini ones took about 8 minutes.  That is a gauge, not exact.  Watch them and when they start to look firm, stick a toothpick in the middle of one.  If it comes out clean, it is done.  If it comes out wet or sticky, give them more time.  These ones were done before they started to brown so keep that in mind while you watch them.

Once done, remove from the oven and remove from the pan carefully and allow to cool COMPLETELY.  Work on your frosting during this time.

In a bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening (I am quite sure you could use 1 cup butter instead of the combination of butter and shortening but I used the combination and they were great so it won’t hurt them).  Once mixed and smooth, add 4 cups powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.  At this point, decide whether you want “adult” cupcakes or not.  I don’t add alcohol to my cupcakes unless they are specifically made for adult get-togethers.  If you want adult cupcakes, add 2 T tequila and 1 T lime juice.  If you want everyday and everyone appropriate cupcakes, add 2 T margarita mix (again the liquid prepared kind) and 1 T lime juice.  Also add a few drops of green food coloring if you want a little green tint to your frosting.  Mix again until well mixed.

Pipe your frosting onto your cupcakes.  I use my frosting tips sometimes or I just spoon the frosting into a plastic bag and cut the tip off, it makes a rounded end and works great.  After done, either sprinkle sugar on the top (which I did on the small ones) or roll the bottom edge of the frosting in a line of sugar (which I did with the regular size ones).  Garnish with a straw or lime or nothing, it all works!

Erin, The Burbs

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