Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

I am always on the search for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I have found some that are good and some that are bad.  A few days ago, I came across the BEST recipe.  It combines two of my favorite things: chocolate and peanut butter.  Yum!

This recipe comes courtesty of allrecipes and I followed the recipe exactly.  The cookies turned out fabulous and everyone in the house loved them.  Once they were gone, the kids requested them immdiately for dessert after dinner, in their lunches and even said they wanted them for snack (which we all know won't happen, snacks are healthy, right?!?)  I know that I will be baking these cookies a lot!  These would be great to bake for a school bake sale or for a new neighbor to welcome them to the neighborhood.

This recipe was quick and easy.  A true crowd pleaser.  Hope you like it too!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stain Be Gone!

It has been a while since a blog post and I apologize.  My house was hit with really bad colds and took days to get over.  I think I was hit the hardest...isn't that always the case?  The house seems to unfold when the "Mom" is not in tip top shape.  My husband did rise to the challenge and helped with chores around the house so I could rest and nap.  He even did a birthday party run with our oldest.  I am over the cold now (hopefully do not get another one) and hoping that spring will bring sunshine, warmth and no more sickness.

What I wanted to share today was a method for cleaning stained carpets.  In the tv room,  I have an area rug that is situated in the middle of the room between the couch and the chairs.  The tv room is a high traffic area for playing, visiting, relaxing, cups of tea and coffee, and small children snacks.  The kids always manage to spill something on the rug.   The rug is lighted colored (which is probably a mistake) and makes the room feel warmer.  The light gray color works well with our color scheme in the tv room and also provides a nice contrast to the dark wood floors.  Within the last month I noticed that this rug was in need of some TLC.  I did not want to throw the towel in and go purchase a new one.  This rug is not that old and has plenty of life left.  I decided to research carpet cleaning and turned to Pinterest.  
On Pinterest I found this carpet stain cleaning link and decided to give it a try.  As I read the information from the website, I realized I had to improvise a little bit.  Here is the process I used to free my carpet of stains.  I am a true believer and plan to continue using this method on the carpets on the second level.

Locate the stains you want to tackle.  As you can see from the photo, there are two.  Pay attention to stain number one.  You need a white towel, a hot iron set on a medium setting (I was afraid of the iron being too hot and melting the carpet fibers) and ammonia (I used glass cleaner because I did not have plain ammonia). I first started out by vacuuming the carpet and cleaning it of any debris.

Saturate the stain with the ammonia and let sit for a few seconds.  

Place the white towel over the stain and iron the towel.  Keep the iron continuously moving, do not let it sit on the towel or it will burn!  I counted to ten while moving the iron back and forth and side to side.
Stop ironing and lift the towel off the carpet.  The stain is magically transferred to the towel and out of the carpet.  

After testing this method out on stain number one, I was hooked!  I ended up spot cleaning all the stains on the carpet.  After the stains were gone and the wet spots had air dried, I then vacuumed the carpet again.  The carpet looked brand new.  When my husband came home, he was totally shocked!  This method ended up being fairly quick and easy.  I love quick and easy, especially with young kids in the house!

Here is to you and your stain free carpets!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Nothing Like a Good Soup

I really enjoy making a good pot of homemade soup.  I have two "go to" recipes that are so delicious.  Today I am going to share with you the recipe for Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup.  I stumbled upon this recipe a few years ago while watching the Food Network's Ina Garten.  As I watched her prepare the soup, I knew I had to get my hands on the recipe to make it for myself.  I typically make it for my church's "Soup and Sandwich" meeting.  It is a crowd pleaser and can definitely warm you up on a chilly night.  The soup is fairly easy, anyone can make it regardless of one's cooking skills.

I have been making this recipe for a few years now and have tweaked it based on my tastes.  You can substitute my notes in or try the original recipe, which is linked above.

My Changes

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion and 1 small white onion, diced
  • 12 diced peeled baby carrots (the ones already peeled in the plastic bag)
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (from the jar)
  • 7 large ripe tomatoes, chunked
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • same amount of basil as original recipe
  • 1 (32oz) box of chicken stock/broth
  • same amount of kosher salt as original recipe
  • same amount of pepper as original recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
I follow the directions of the original recipe through the addition of the cream.  Instead of using a food mill, I use a hand held immersion blender.  I then serve the soup straight from the cooking pot or put it in a soup tureen.  If I am taking it to a potlock, I pour it into a crockpot and reheat on the warm or low setting.


Happy souping and enjoy!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Decor

My St. Patrick's Day decor is very simple and easy.  Everything that I used this year to decorate my table and mantle came from my own stash.  I did not purchase anything new, except flowers.  My approach was "less is more."  When everything came together, I was pleasantly suprised. The table and mantel looked really nice.  I love using stuff already on hand in a different way.  It saves money and time!

This year on my dining room table (please excuse the hideous wallpaper, that is being removed this summer!) I decided to do classic green and white.  The color combination is crisp and fresh, making me think of spring, but also fitting with the St. Patrick's Day holiday.  The tablecloth was purchased on my trip to Ireland/Northern Ireland a few years ago.  It is true Irish linen!  The crystal cross was a wedding gift.  The shamrock tins were purchased at my local Dollar General a couple years ago and the vases holding the carnations are from my wedding centerpieces (purchased 8 years ago at Wal-Mart for 99 cents each!).  The shamrock centerpience was made by my mother.  I love the different color greens against the black background.

For the mantle, I used the same theme of crisp white and green.  The baby's breath wreath was used on the door at the chapel for my wedding.  The  green vase previously belonged to my great-aunt.  The white birds where purchased at JoAnn Fabric a few years ago, as well as the blessing plaque.  I know that limes (fake and from Dollar Tree) are not traditioanlly part of St. Patrick's Day decor, but I thought they added a nice pop of green and tied in nicely with the white and green of the wreath and vase.  The votives and holders are from four Christmases ago.
 I have enjoyed my new take on decorating for St. Patrick's Day.  By reusing and rearranging items already on hand, decorating can take a whole new direction!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Delicious Kale Salad

On Monday night I was not feeling all that "culinary."  I just wanted to get dinner on the table without it being a production.  I made the all time classic, Tuna Fish and Tomato Soup.  It is always hard on Mondays to get back into the swing of things and I did not want to make a heavy duty meal.  After the tuna was made and the soup was cooking on the stove, I decided that the meal needed something fresh.  I looked into the fridge crisper and saw a big bunch of kale staring back at me.  I asked myself, "what could I do with this that is quick and easy?"  I turned to the trusty internet and came across this Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad recipe on Pinterest.  This recipe took me about 3 minutes, even with some of my own minor changes.

When assembling the salad, I omitted the bread crumbs, squeezed a whole lemon, added a pinch more salt (I opted for kosher salt) and mixed it up right before serving.  Once it was all mixed, I then sprinkled the parmesan on top.  It was crunchy, fresh and delicious.  This would be a great dish for a summer picnic or a great side to serve with salmon.  Here is a photo of my rendition of this recipe.  This salad will definitly be added to my "quick and easy" recipe rotation!


I love the contrast of the deep green against the white plate.  So pretty and healthy.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Magic in a Bottle

Being a working mother of two, I need to be able to clean quick on weeknights.  A few months ago I discovered my "magic in a bottle" and it totally revamped how I tackle cleaning during the busy week.  

I use this one bottle of spray and it does everything I need it to do!  I spray it on the table after dinner (I have a vintage porcelain top kitchen table that has sides that slide out when you need extra room.  I believe it is from the 1940s or 50s and was given to me by a family friend).  I use it on the counter and ceramic stovetop when cleaning up after cooking.  I spray it on a rag and wipe all the light switches, door handles, phones and TV remotes.  It is the perfect cleaner to use in the bathroom between deep cleans.

I feel like before I found this product each room in my house had its own special group of cleaning products.  They were such a pain to situate and lug around, especially when I was in a hurry and wanted to clean fast.  Since discovering the multi-surface spray, I have been able to get rid of a lot of my other cleaning products.  I have simplified and it is great.  Plus, underneath the kitchen sink is more organized and functional.  I have also been able to save some $$$ because I am buying fewer cleaning products.  I believe this cleaner can be found at most grocery stores.

Happy cleaning!

**Please note, I am not endorsed by the manufacturers of this product or company.   The views expressed are my personal reflections and for sharing with readers.**