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Monday, April 7, 2014

Powdered Laundry Detergent

I've made my own laundry detergent for just about 6 years now.  For the first 4 1/2, I used this liquid laundry detergent recipe.  I decided last September to try this powdered version.  Most of the ingredients are the same, this recipe just seemed to be a bit easier.
I think the best part is that I am still going on the same batch I made 7 months ago.  I'm about half way through it.  This stuff lasts forever!  And it works great, obviously, since I am still using it.  If you don't want to make a years supply all at once, I've included the measurements, so you can half or quarter the recipe below.
I opted out of using the fabric softener, which the original recipe calls for.  I have quiet a few articles of clothing that aren't recommended to wash with liquid softeners.  I don't miss it.  I think it ups the price and I find it unnecessary.
As far as grating the soap goes; I've found it easiest to just put it in my blender with the other powdered ingredients.  It pulses everything better than grating could, which makes it dissolve easier and saves a load of time.  I have a blendtec... not sure how this would work in a regular blender.

Powdered Laundry Detergent
Recipe modified from How Does She?

4 lb 12oz box of Borax (9 c.)
3 lb 7oz box Super Washing Soda (6 c.)
3 lb container OxyClean (5 c.)
2 (14oz) bars Zote Soap
4 lb box Baking Soda (8 c.)

Cut soap bars into 4-6 pieces.
Put a few soap pieces in the blender and fill with powdered ingredients (to about 4 cups).
Blend until smooth.
Pour into large bucket.
Repeat with remaining soap chunks and powdered ingredients.
Stir everything together in bucket to incorporate all ingredients.
Use 2 Tbsp. per large load of laundry.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pierogies with Sauteed Cabbage

I grew a lot of cabbage in my garden last fall and this ended up being one of my favorite dishes to use it in.  Quick, filling, and delicious, we served this up at least once a month over the winter months.  I've switched out the pierogies for egg rolls and stuffed ravioli and they were both great!

Pierogies with Sauteed Cabbage
Recipe modified from Delish

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
16 oz. box pierogies (or substitute)

Prepare pierogies according to package directions (we always saute ours)
Cook bacon until crisp, transfer to paper towels and break into pieces.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and season with salt and pepper.
Cook until translucent and just starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes.
Add cabbage and season again with salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through and just tender, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle bacon over cabbage and stir to incorporate.
Serve with prepared pierogies.

Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Peel Garlic

I started using this quick kitchen tip a while ago and I love it!
I will use this technique on one or two heads of garlic at a time, and leave them peeled in a jar in the fridge.  They will last at least 2 weeks, and are much more convenient that having to smash and peel each individual clove.

How to Peel Garlic
From Martha Stewart

Clove(s) of garlic
Heavy glass bowl with lid

Take garlic cloves, one at a time, and place them tip side up on the counter.
Position a heavy glass bowl over the top and press down firmly, scrunching the entire head of garlic.
Scoop up entire head of garlic and place in the bowl.
Put the lid on and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds.
Take off the lid and sift through to find your perfectly peeled cloves!
Refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Crusty European Hard Rolls

I'm just going to tell you right now that if you want rolls ready for dinner today, this recipe is not for you.  Although it is easy and doesn't require too much hands on time, this recipe needs to be started about 24 hours in advance.  It took me a while to make these because I NEVER plan that far ahead.
True to the name, however, they produce wonderfully crusty outsides, with that hard roll texture that I love.  This is not an everyday roll for me, but a good one to keep in the index.  We loved them!  

Crusty European Hard Rolls
Recipe from King Aurhur Flour

Starter:
1 c. cool water
2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast

Dough:
all of starter
7 c. flour
2 c. lukewarm water
3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. instant yeast

Egg wash:
1 large egg
1/4 c. cool water

Make the starter by mixing all ingredients together until smooth.
Cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.

Combine all of the dough ingredients and knead together, 6 minutes for white flour, 10 for wheat.
Allow dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour.
Gently deflate dough and turn it over in bowl.
Allow dough to rise, covered, for 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto greased work surface.
Divide into 24 small pieces, or 16 large, depending on size preference.
Shape into balls, and firm them up by rolling them under lightly cupped fingers.

Place rolls on greased baking sheet.
Cover, and let rise for 1-2 hours, until puffy, though not doubled in size.

Keep covered, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours more.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare egg wash by whisking egg and water in a shallow dish.
Remove rolls from refrigerator, and brush them with the egg wash.

Slash a 1/4" deep cut across the top of each roll.
Immediately put the rolls into the preheated oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until rolls are a deep golden brown.
For best crunch, open oven door and allow rolls to cool in the turned off, open-door oven.

Yields 16-24 rolls, depending on size.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Perfect Frosting

What makes this frosting so perfect, you ask?  Answer:  The lack of a sugar rush.
Most frostings are terribly sweet, which when paired with cake, makes things far too rich for our liking.  I love this frosting for several reasons:
it is thickened with flour
it uses granulated sugar, not powdered sugar
it has just the right amount of sweet
its light and fluffy and turns out great every time

This recipe comes from Our Best Bites, and though I love it, they say to use far more than what I actually do.  I find that it easily frosts 24 cupcakes (just like the one pictured below), or a 9x13" cake, usually with more to spare.  If you are one of those "mile high" frosters, you may want to double it.

Perfect Frosting
Recipe from Our Best Bites

3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract, or flavoring of choice

In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour and milk over medium heat.
Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken.
Continue cooking until mixture resembles THICK pudding or paste.

Put mixture in the fridge or freezer and let it cool completely.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
Add in the thickened milk mixture and vanilla.
Beat to combine, and then scrape down the sides.
Continue beating until mixture comes together and is light and fluffy, about 8 minutes.
Frosting is done when sugar granules are dissolved (rub between fingers to test).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Breakfast Banana Boats

I love breakfast.  I wish I had an hour everyday to make something wonderful before we were off to work or play or school.  But I love sleep a little more than breakfast, because I am always scrambling to put things together when I'm in charge in the morning.
These wonderfully delicious banana boats were just what I needed to cure myself of the breakfast blues.  So fast.  So easy.  Delicious.  And total eye candy, if you ask me.  Just by looking at it, I was most excited for the yogurt and berries version, but I actually preferred the peanut butter and apples.  I topped both with a sprinkling of granola, but really, whatever you have lying about is going to be great.  This also doubles as a wonderful mid afternoon snack.  Or late night... or mid morning... or whatever you're into.
No real recipe here - just grab some stuff and pile it on!

Breakfast Banana Boats
Idea from Prevention

Bananas
vanilla yogurt
berries or fruit of choice

or 

Bananas
peanut butter (or nutella, or any nut butter)
apples

Halve bananas, and then cut in half lengthwise.
Spread flat side with yogurt or nut butter
Top with fruit or berries of choice.
Top with granola.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Apple Slaw

I love a good coleslaw recipe, and this one adds just the right amount of sweet and savory.

Apple Slaw
Recipe from Ready Set Eat

4 c. coleslaw mix
1 c. chopped apple
2 Tbsp. sliced green onions
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil (I used olive)

Toss coleslaw mix, apples, and green onions together in a large serving bowl.

In separate dish, whisk together the honey, vinegar, mustard and salt.
Whisk in oil until well combined.
Pour over coleslaw and stir to coat.