Crazy Wonderful Days

So a friend of mine posted on Facebook her dislike of meal and menu planning which sparked comments from other friends about how they complete this tedious task in their routines.

I must admit that I have not always been regimen with this task myself.  When my husband and I were first married, I cooked (and when I say cook, I mean like 4 course meals! LOL) almost every night – I allowed myself to cook “from a box” once a week.  As time went on, I went back to school for my master’s degree, then I got pregnant with Munchkin and there seemed to be less time to dedicate to this task.  Fast forward to life with two kids and I have been “on” and “off” with routines for days that I plan, grocery shop, etc.  We always eat, but it isn’t always a structured well planned out meal.  So how might we fix this problem?

Well, one of the people that commented to my friend’s Facebook post that she uses something called, Plan to Eat.  So I thought I would check it out…

Here is what I found:

First, I found the website, which is:  www.plantoeat.com/welcome

At the top right, I clicked on the arrow pointing to the right labeled Tour to start reading what this has to offer.  At the very very bottom, there is a video that you can watch that shows how you can input your recipes from cookbooks, family/friends, online, etc, add them to a calendar for planning, create a grocery list and even download an app to view it all!  Sounds pretty awesome to me!  But do I want to commit?

Well, there is a 30 day free trial – NO PAYMENT INFORMATION REQUIRED!   (How awesome is that?!?!)

So sign me up!!  If I like it, I will sign up for a membership during their Black Friday Special!  I will post another blog entry after trying it!  If you check it out, let me know your thoughts!!

Who doesn’t like FREE samples?  Check out the following link to claim your FREE sample from U by Kotex!  There are 8 different options so make sure you pick the one that you want (they only let you claim one).

https://www.ubykotex.com/get-a-sample

We had some friends over last night and my friend brought the Ice Cream Ball for Munchkin and Monkey to have some fun while making homemade ice cream!!  (I did find it for sale at Amazon.com, here).

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The ingredients were simple: heavy cream, sugar, flavoring, and ice. We had all of the ingredients EXCEPT ice! WELL, long story short, we only had 6 ice cubes! LOL!! So…we had to decide: do we run to the store for ice? Or just use the 8 inches of snow outside?

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If you guessed snow, you were right!! The snow does not actually go into the ice cream and was only used to make it cold enough to freeze the ice cream. Using snow did make the process about 15 minutes longer than the directions indicated if ice was used, but the results were still great!🙂

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Each time we opened the canister to stir, it was like “magic” to Munchkin and Monkey because it looked more and more like ice cream! After about 45 minutes of fun rolling the Ice Cream ball around, we had a great snack!🙂

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The above picture is the ice cream after being in the freezer for a few hours. For comparison, the ice cream is very similar to a Wendy’s Frosty in taste, texture, and with how it freezes/thaws.

Overall, this was a fun product!!🙂 In fact, Munchkin and Monkey asked if we could make it again today!!

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I can honestly tell you that I was VERY apprehensive to try these pancakes. I can’t stand sweet potatoes (in any form) and since this recipe packs one-half cup per 10 pancakes, I thought for sure that was all I would taste! I am thrilled to say, I was wrong!! Not only are they delicious, but they may just be the best pancakes I have ever had!!! And I don’t think that I’ll revert back to the ‘old-fashioned’ way!🙂 Here’s how I make them:

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1. Start with 1/2 cup of puréed sweet potatoes blended smooth.

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2. Add 1 egg, 1 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix well until blended.

3. Then add 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt and mix well. It should be smooth and semi-runny like “regular” pancake batter.

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4. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto heated pan or griddle. When the pancake starts to bubble, it is ready to flip!

I use a Pampered Chef Double Griddle over medium-high heat (sprinkle water to test — when the water “bounces,” the griddle is hot enough).

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5. I add a little butter and powdered sugar when I serve them. This recipe makes 10 pancakes and we devour them all! I think I may have to start making a double batch, they are so good!!!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pureed sweet potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Start with 1/2 cup of puréed sweet potatoes blended smooth.
  2. Add 1 egg, 1 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix well until blended.
  3. Then add 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt and mix well. It should be smooth and semi-runny like “regular” pancake batter.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto heated pan or griddle. When the pancake starts to bubble, it is ready to flip!
  5. I add a little butter and powdered sugar when I serve them.

This recipe makes 10 pancakes.

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Well, the plan for today was to make Sweet Potato Pancakes for breakfast however, Munchkin and Monkey opted for the Pumpkin French Toast again.  Since I had not yet replenished my stock of Sweet Potato Puree, this was fine with me! 

So I thought I would write a post about how I prepare my sweet potato puree (which I did this evening).  While this post is dedicated to Sweet Potato Puree, be sure to check out the ways that I puree (or preserve) other fruits and veggies to “hide” in other dishes! 🙂

 

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First, I fill my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker with scrubbed sweet potatoes cut in half or quarters (depending on the size). I then put about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the baker, place the lid on and microwave on high for about 15-20 minutes (for the amount you see here).

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Once the sweet potatoes are tender, I peel the ‘skin’ off with a fork — it should peel right off very easily if your sweet potatoes have been cooked long enough.

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Once I have scooped all of the sweet potato out of their skins, I am ready to start pureeing.

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I use a small 3-cup food processor and loosely fill it with sweet potatoes. Pulse for 1-2 minutes until the sweet potatoes look like the picture below.

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Note: The picture on the left is what they look like initially when you take the lid off (still looks lumpy, right?). The picture on the right is after you stir them, nice and creamy!

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So how do I store these beautiful creamy sweet potatoes? I usually store my purees in one of the following methods:
1. I use ice cube trays because each well holds 2 tablespoons perfectly! (Once frozen, I ‘pop’ them out and store the frozen cubes in storage bags until I am ready to use them so that I can re-use the ice cube trays for the next food that I puree.)
2. I use the snack size storage bags to store 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup servings.

The sweet potatoes pictured above filled the two ice cube trays — that’s 24 servings of 2 tablespoons each — PLUS 2 half cup servings (one is pictured, the other is already in a bowl in the refrigerator waiting for the rest of the ingredients to make pancake batter in the morning!)

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About a year and a half ago a friend and I started talking about how to save money and also how use less chemical based products in our homes. After experimenting with several DIY cleaning products, recipes, etc., we have certainly discovered some favorites. One of my absolute favorites is the Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap! I would have to look up the prices of each ingredient to be 100% sure, but if my memory serves me correctly, we figured that 1 gallon (which lasts my family of four 3 months) costs less than $1 to make. I purchased the ingredients in June 2012 and have not had to replenish them yet! So here’s how we do it (by the way — it takes about 5 measly minutes to make!):

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1. Gather your ingredients; water, liquid castile soap, borax, and super washing soda. Borax and super washing soda can be purchased at places like Walmart, Target, Giant Eagle, etc. (usually near the “regular” laundry soap). The liquid castile soap that I use is the Dr. Woods brand which I purchase at http://www.iherb.com.

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2. Heat the water for a 1-2 minutes in the microwave so the granular ingredients will melt when added. Add the liquid castile soap, borax, and super washing soad and stir. You will see some soap bubbles or suds form on top.

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3. Pour the concentrated soap into a container (we re-used an old liquid laundry soap container).

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4. Fill the container with cold water, place lid back on, and shake (gently) to mix.

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5. When ready to use for your clothes, shake well and measure out about 1/3-1/2 of a cup (this one if from the old liquid laundry soap container) and pour in your washer.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups hot water
  • 4 Tbsp. liquid castile soap
  • 3 Tbsp. super washing soda
  • 3 Tbsp. borax
  • cold water

Directions:

  1. Gather your ingredients: water, liquid castile soap, borax, and super washing soda.
  2. Heat the water for a 1-2 minutes in the microwave so the granular ingredients will melt when added. Add the other ingredients and stir. You will see some soap bubbles or suds form on top.
  3. Pour the concentrated soap into a container.
  4. Fill the container with cold water, place lid back on, and shake (gently) to mix.
  5. When ready to use for your laundry, shake well and measure out about 1/3-1/2 of a cup and pour in your washer.

P.S. We use straight white distilled vinegar to replace fabric softener.

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