Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Apple Pie Muffins

It's finally warming up, and that has me itching for summer. And nothing says summer to me like apple pie. But, when I thought about making a pie, for just me and my husband, that seemed a little over-the-top. So, I decided to make something to catch the essence of homemade apple pie, without the hassle.

Apple Pie Muffins

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cup flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 large Granny Smith apple
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
Cooking spray or 1 tsp butter, for cooking apples

Preheat oven to 350. First, peel, core, and dice apple, and toss with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and tablespoon of brown sugar. Spray frying pan with cooking spray, or melt teaspoon of butter over medium heat. Toss in apple, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Take off heat, and set aside. Cream together sugars and butter, then proceed to add egg and vanilla, and mix. Sprinkle baking powder over the mixture, then add flour, and mix. Next, pour in milk, slowly mixing it in, making sure batter is smooth. Fold in apple pieces, and use a tablespoon to spoon into lined muffin cups, until about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Upcycle Tin Cans With A Little Paint

Anyone who cooks at all knows there is never a shortage of empty tin cans in the recycling bin. There's also ALWAYS a shortage of where to put all of your stuff. See where I'm going with this? You can use spray paint, or acrylic, or really any kind at all. I used a bit of hot glue to make sure the inside, where the top came off, was safe. Just went right around the ring with the glue gun. 

If you're like me and don't want to use spray paint, you can put one coat on just to rough up the service (it won't cover the first time), then go back over it once that's dry with whatever color you like. It's easy, fast, convenient, and helpful. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Make Your Own Spice Holder

Have you ever noticed that the box that aluminum foil/wax paper/ parchment paper/plastic wrap etc. is the perfect size for your spices?

All you have to do is cut off the top, and cover with patterned paper, fabric, or whatever you have on hand. Craft glue works great for this easy project. No more searching the cupboard for all spice!!

Bachelor Button Cookies

These quick, easy, and tasty little cookies are addictive. Just ask my husband. They're so small, it's easy to justify having two or three...or seven. You can make them with or without the chocolate on top. This recipe yields about 2 1/2 dozen, which seems like quite a lot. But, keep in mind that they turn out about the size of a 50 cent piece.


3/4 cup of shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt (about 1/2 tsp)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips.


Cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla and stir in. Add dry ingredients, and mix well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease lightly. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on sheet. Bake 10-14 minutes at 375. If desired, melt chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. When cookies have cooled, dunk upside down into melted chocolate, or use the back of a spoon to spread on the cookies. Allow chocolate to firm up, and enjoy. (I cheat and pop the cookies into the fridge for a few minutes to get the chocolate to harden more quickly.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thick, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are exactly what I want in a cookie. Sweet, but not way too sweet, and soft and chewy in the middle. The perfect chocolate chip cookies. I use salted butter and don't add salt. This recipe only makes 10-12, so you may want to double it.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cream sugars and butter. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients, besides the chocolate chips. Once it's all mixed well, add chocolate chips. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge. (I cheat and do 15 minutes in the freezer.) Grease a cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper). Scoop about 1/4 cup of dough, roll into a ball in your hands, and place on cookie sheet, about 3 inches apart. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes. (I've found 18 minutes to be the perfect time.) Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then move to cooling racks. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

DIY Household Cleaners

Cleaning products are expensive, and often aren't nearly as impressive as they'd have you believe. That's why I make my own cleaners. All of the recipes for household cleaners I found online were for at least a gallon of cleaner, and didn't contain as much bacteria-killing ingredients as I'd like. I'm a little paranoid about germs. So, I messed around until I came up with my own, that'll fit in small (8oz) bottles. You can make more, just use the same ratio of ingredients.

Window/Mirror Cleaner

1 cup alcohol
1 tbsp baking soda
 (Yes, that's really all.)

Bathroom Cleaner

1/3 cup bleach
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup baking soda
1 tbsp laundry detergent (with NO ammonia)

All Purpose Cleaner

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
A couple drops of dish soap

It's really that easy! And these all work very well. You can use the all purpose cleaner mixed with a bit of hydrogen peroxide for carpet stains, too!!

Beer Bread

When I'm out of yeast packets, but want to make a loaf of bread, this recipe does the trick just fine. It doesn't have a different taste at all. You can add a bit more sugar for a sweet bread.

3 cups self rising flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1 12oz can or bottle beer
1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Knead flour, sugar, and beer.
  3. Place in greased and floured loaf pan.
  4. Press a "dent" into the top of the loaf, and pour in butter.
  5. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.


Crayon Art

I've seen a lot of crayon art on Pinterest, mostly with just the wax running down the canvas, and occasional featuring an initial or something similar. I think it's a neat concept, so I had to try it out on my own.

The steps are pretty easy:
Get the crayons in the colors that you want separated from the rest in the box. 
Use a hot glue gun to glue them in the pattern you want the colors to run in.
Use a blow dryer, running back and forth over the center of the crayons, to heat them up until the colors begin to run, and they run as much as you need them to.
Allow the wax to dry.

I decided to make a little scene, and use green and brown crayons as grass, blue, white, and silver for the sky, and yellow and orange for the sun. I also bought fake flowers, cut the flowers off the stems and glued a few to the tops of some the "grass" to make it look like stems.

White Chicken Chili

I don't use a slow cooker for this, just a regular, large pot over low heat. I use chicken thighs for this recipe because they have so much more flavor than the breasts. I also use more cumin than the recipe calls for, and a bit of extra garlic added when it's almost finished so that flavor is more pronounced. If you don't have a food processor, you can add a couple tablespoons of corn starch to thicken it up. It doesn't change the taste. I also made lima beans and added them to it last time I made this. 



2 (15 oz.) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
2 whole bone-in chicken breasts (3 lb.) 
Salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, chopped 
2 (4 oz.) cans roasted green chilies, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin 


  1. Place beans and broth in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until beans are tender, 2 hours.
  2. Warm oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken skin side down in skillet; cook until brown, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate; remove and discard skin. Drain all but 2 Tbsp. fat from skillet. Add onions and garlic; cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add onion mixture, chilies, 1 cup water and cumin to slow cooker. Stir; add chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring twice. Remove 1 cup beans plus 1/2 cup liquid from slow cooker. Puree in a blender; return to slow cooker. Remove chicken, shred it and return to slow cooker. Spoon into individual bowls and serve.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Easy-to-Make Wedding Momento

I saw this idea on Pinterest, and immediately remembered that I had kept the corks from my and hubby's wedding, just waiting to figure out the right project. Now I know what to do with at least 1 of them- make one of these anniversary keychains for me. 


Wine Cork
Screw eye
Small nail
Key ring
Color printer and paper

Step 1: Format a tag on your computer to 2" wide by .75" tall. Leave a .75" square on one side, as shown in the image above. This part will lay across the top of the cork. Then print and cut each piece.
Step 2: Take a piece of clear tape and laminate the front and back of each piece. Trim off any excess.
Step 3: Fold each piece .75" from the edge. Rest the folded piece across the top of the cork. Poke the screw eye into the laminated piece of paper and screw in to the cork. Attach the key ring to the screw eye.
Step 4: Flip the cork over and put a nail through the bead. Then press the nail into the bottom of the cork. It helps to press the nail against a table when pushing it into the bottom.

credit goes to:

EASY No Yeast Dinner Rolls

I feel like I'm cheating when I make these, but hubby likes them just fine and they're soooo easy. You can add a couple tablespoons of different herbs, or even sugar if you want sweet rolls. Quick, easy, and actually really yummy.

No Yeast Dinner Rolls

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water 
3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

Mix dry ingredients, add water and oil and mix. Grease 9 muffin cups, spoon batter in, and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. I can always make these with stuff I already have in the kitchen, and they're really good.

DIY Face Scrub

Recently, I ran out of honey for my normal DIY facial. I normally mix a tablespoon of honey with a pinch a nutmeg, and a pinch of cinnamon. Both the honey and nutmeg are anti-inflammatory, and the cinnamon and nutmeg exfoliate the skin when you go to wash it off. However, with my new concoction, I can keep the dry, mixed ingredients in a container, and simply moisten a bit when I go to use it. It's also not only softened my skin, but also cleared it up. So, this is my new favorite DIY face scrub:

1/4 cup baking soda
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon

When you go to use it, just take a little bit in your hand (about 1 or 2 tsp of the dry mix). I add a bit of alcohol to kill bacteria in my skin, and enough water to just moisten all of it. Then, just take a bit at a time, and rub on your face. Once your whole face is covered (it's brown, so you can see even when it's thin), simply rinse off with warm water. It makes your face really soft, and blemishes seem to completely go down in just a few hours. It's a lot cheaper than buying face scrub at the store, and works better than anything I've ever gotten before.