Sunday, January 25, 2015

SUPER BOWL GUACAMOLE AND CHIPS

Game Day Guacamole and warm, salty chips is one of the best snacks for football lovers. I'm gettin my game on today....in preparation for next week's Super Bowl. Too bad there is so much controversy surrounding the games this year.  Poor Patriots. I guess they need to leave their balls alone from now on. lol. 

I was looking in the market for some game day snacks for the Super Bowl next week. The avocados were looking amazing!  They are large and beautiful. They would make a delicious, fresh guacamole. I bought a few and wanted to make some guacamole to go with the Chicken Taquitos I'm making for dinner.

Here is a delicious and easy recipe for making the most wonderful guacamole. It does call for a lemon, but I've used fresh lime, fresh oranges and even the bottled lemon juice is fine if you run out of fresh.
GAME DAY GUACAMOLE 
3 avocados, the bigger the better (smashed up)
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sour cream 
seasoning salt and pepper to taste
1 diced tomato (optional if you like chunky guacamole) I do but my family doesn't. 

I just slice my avocados in half and then twist so they come apart easily. Then I slice lines down the avocado right in the skin. Then scoop out the green stuff with a spoon and it is already in little chunks, very easy to smash up with a fork. Then add the sour cream, salsa, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Chill for 30 minutes before serving with fresh tortilla chips or hot taquitos. Or use it in a 7 layer dip! It is yummy! 


This GUACAMOLE is really delicious and creamy, with the sour cream.....Yum!

I like it a lot better than the chunky varieties of Guacamole. I like it with thin, salty, warm chips too. I put mine into the microwave for 30 seconds before serving the bowl of chips. It just makes it taste better! Enjoy some fresh, guacamole for the big game next week! And I hope the best team wins! Woot! 






Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kitchen Organization Week 2 Kitchen Drawers

Well, it's the 2nd week of January and I've finally gone through most of my kitchen drawers, which was the task for the first week of January. And I'm about ready to move on. It takes about a week to go through all the drawers and successfully reorganize them, if you commit to doing a drawer a day, and it will only take about 30 minutes a day of organization. I have a big kitchen, so it has taken me more than a week.
  IMG_9586 The "Before" picture of one of my messier drawers.[/caption] I don't love organizing, so I promised myself I'd do 30 minutes a day and  as I got into the job I'd actually push it up to about 45 minutes until I felt I had completed a task. It was actually kind of a rush to see the improvements I could make in only 30 minutes! [caption id="attachment_6765" align="alignnone" width="500"]Now it looks like this! Much betta!
I layed out all of the wraps and baggies and chose the ones I will keep.[/caption] There is a method to organizing that I have learned from listening to a few youtube experts. ORGANIZING KITCHEN DRAWERS 
  • Take everything out of the drawer and lay it out on a table to examine what you will keep and what you will toss and what you will donate.
  • REDUCE  the AMOUNT of stuff you store in each and every drawer and cupboard.
  • Clean out the drawer with a good cleaner like 409 or Fantastic.
  • Use smaller containers to sort small, like items together.
  • Place the now organized products together with like items in drawers.
IMG_9595
Then wipe out all the drawers as you empty them. Sort what was inside, choose what will go back and put it back in the drawer neatly, sorting like things into smaller bins.IMG_9599 Now the drawer looks like this! Much better. And it took about 20 minutes to do.[/caption] I had a drawer full of towels that were always a mess. I decided to do something about that too. I am a towel hoarder, I know what you are thinking. So some of these had to go! IMG_9598
I had WAY too many tea towels. I had to reduce the number. So I packed up a box of them to give away to charity. I kept only 6 that I really love. Then I put them into a bin and placed them in one of my laundry room cupboards. I hung one up on the stove front.IMG_9592 I couldn't believe how many of THESE things I had hanging around either! Can you say HOARDERS? lol. I packed a few of these to bring up to the cabin next time we go. And I threw one away that was out of juice.IMG_9607 I had a gajillion microwave popcorns in my drawers. I had to purge a bunch of old ones. I found the perfect sized bin to put the rest into and placed it on a shelf in the pantry. This freed up a new drawer! Yay![/caption] I think the key is to find little containers to sort your packaged foods and then you alway know right where to go to get them or restock them.....a place for everything, and everything in its place. (My grandma used to say that....she used to run an entire 400 acre farm in Iowa!

IMG_9608
One of my drawers had chocolate chips and hot chocolate and an array of birthday candles and cupcake sprinkles. I put the chocolate chips in a bin, the sprinkles all on a lazy susan, and the hot chocolates in a mini bin of their own. This will go in the pantry on a shelf.[/caption] The next drawer I cleaned out was the cookie and cake decorating things. Now I've decided that I have altogether TOO MANY cookie cutters. All of the organizational gurus say the first thing people need to do is PURGE, because we have TOO MUCH stuff.

 
I think I had 10 heart cookie cutters. I had to part with a few of these. I don't want to be known as a hoarder!![/caption] So I reduced my Valentines cookie cutters from 9 to 6. I know, that's still kind of in the "hoarders" category, but I can't help myself....they were just so cute! And when we have family cookie parties, I will always have enough for everybody to make and bake together.

I love making Valentines Sugar Cookies with my family AND my classroom kiddos.
I love making Valentines Sugar Cookies with my family AND my classroom kiddos.

Valentines field trip eagles 010
I just love this Valentine sugar cookie we made last year in my classroom. It is always fun to get out the sprinkles and sugars and little candies and make a masterpiece! Woo Hoo![/caption] So here is my sprinkles drawer after I cleaned it up a little bit. But I hated using this everyday drawer for something I only use rarely, on holidays mostly. That is a wasted drawer. So  I cleared it out, combined a few of the sprinkles jars, and tossed out a few that were almost empty. Then I placed them all on a lazy susan. It looks SO much better. And it will be fun to twirl to see which colors I want to use next time we bake cookies.

My new Lazy Susan fit the drawer full of Sprinkles. I combined a few and tossed a few out. Now I feel I can see them at a glance. My new Lazy Susan fit the drawer full of Sprinkles. I combined a few and tossed a few out. Now I feel I can see them at a glance.

IMG_9619
Now I like this a lot better. I can see them easier, and I freed up another drawer in my kitchen. Yay! I love these Lazy Susans.[/caption] I debated whether to put the sprinkles for Valentines into the same baggie, but I decided to put the sprinkles onto their own lazy susan. I might want to use pink or red sprinkles other times of the year anyway. I bagged the holiday cookie cutters together with cupcake picks and sugar stencils.
I bagged the holiday cookie cutters together with cupcake picks and sugar stencils.
The Halloween cookie cutters and 4th of July and Easter were all bagged and organized. Then I put them all together in the cake decorating drawer. I feel so organized finally! The Halloween cookie cutters and 4th of July and Easter were all bagged and organized. Then I put them all together in the cake decorating drawer. I feel so organized finally![/caption] I put all of the cookie cutters into their own baggie according to season; Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day, 4th of July. Now I can just pull out the right baggie and find the cookie cutters I need easily.  It took me about 2 weeks to do all the kitchen drawers. I still have a hobby drawer left to do. Next week I will do the Kitchen shelves. Those should take at least a week. Although they truthfully aren't as messy as the drawers were. Why is that?

Join me in getting organized this year! I'm pretty excited about it!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kitchen Organization Week 1 - Purge Junk Drawers

My kitchen pantry is a mess. It's a chocolate mess! I tend to dump things wherever there is space when I'm in a hurry. I think that is my main problem. That's why it gets overwhelming. I started my pantry with good intentions. But I don't keep it organized like I should. I have been reading lots of organization blogs. december 2014 092 And what I found out is that I am lacking bins and containers for all of my foodstuffs. If I had the proper containers and had them labeled, and had plenty of them, it wouldn't be so hard to keep it up.  I noticed that the places where I do have things labeled, they have stayed much neater over the 4 years since we added a pantry to the kitchen. So, since it is a new year, I made some organizational resolutions. I want to completely organize my house in 2015. I will purge and give away things we don't use anymore. Sort things we do use and put them in containers so there is a place for everything. And try to keep up with daily clutter everyday! Hey what a concept. That means doing dishes and wiping off every countertop every evening before bed. And that means keeping things from mounting to clutter in the first place. december 2014 091 I have an acquaintance who is an organizer nut. I asked her once what she feels like before she just has to clean and organize something. She said to me "I just look at a drawer and notice that I haven't gone through it in awhile and I say to myself, THAT is the next thing I'm going to reorganize." So they really do have it in their blood to sort. It's an itch they get to sort and put things in order. People like me find it difficult to organize because we hate sorting stuff. I'd much rather scrub and polish than sort things. But it must be done. Do it along with me. I'll share how I'm doing it as I go.

JANUARY WEEK 1 is.....Da dada da! KITCHEN DRAWER ORGANIZATION! 

In my kitchen drawers. I am going to have a space for everything by the end of this year. The first thing I'm doing is my silverware drawer and junk gadget drawers. gadgets 001 My Gadget Drawer turned into countertop crocks filled with metal utensils, plastic and silicone utensils and wooden spoons.   Step 1. Take everything out of the drawer and sort it into piles. Throw away anything broken, bent or too old. Give away cheap stuff you don't like anymore, or things you have 2 or 3 of. Then wipe down the drawer inside with some all purpose cleaner. Then find some cool containers for your silverware or gadgets.  Here is how mine turned out. I like dumping what is in the dishwasher to the silverware drawer, that is why I have the "dumping" section. All my kids laugh at me, but I hate to sort. And I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. I like to cook, but not clean up. So the hubs does most of the dishes. He likes dumping too. So here is our compromise. Half dumping grounds, half sorted. I got these bins for 99cents at Walmart. They come in a pack of 3. So you can buy $10.00 worth and sort every drawer in your house with these. You'd have 30 of them. They would be good for desk drawers, bathroom drawers, and even in the garage and laundry room. Or sorting kids tiny things into larger boxes or bins.br />


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chicken Fried Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy

One of the best pork chops I've ever tasted was at the Iowa State Fair about 10 years ago. We were visiting Iowa to go to a family reunion. Both of my parents were from Iowa. And, although they are both gone, my aunts and uncles still live there!
Here's Mitt Romney enjoying a Pork Chop on a Stick during his Presidential Campaign. 
My husband and I still joke about the Porkchop on a stick we got there at the fair. It was super delicious. They BBQ'd  them for hours in these slow cookers that looked like 50 gallon drums. They were tender and oh, soooo, juicy! They know how to do BBQ in at the State Fair, that's for sure.
Chicken Fried Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy 
But, truth be told, I like a little breading on my pork chops. I love chicken fried steak and chicken too. So we can call them Chicken fried Pork Chops. And you've GOT to have mashed potatoes because we will whip up a mushroom gravy to pour over the top. It is a delicious one with some white wine in the gravy.
Mushroom gravy is made with white wine, sour cream, and cream of mushroom soup. 
Oh heavenly yum! These are truly one of my very favorite dinners. I do these for company a lot because I always get compliments on them. And the meat is always super tender and juicy.


Recipe:PORK CHOPS IN MUSHROOM GRAVY
4-6 pork chops
A few shakes of  Lawry's Season Salt
A few shakes of pepper.
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs (optional for more of a coating)

Directions:
Roll the pork chops in whisked eggs, then into the flour. Coat them twice for a thicker coating. Then dip into Italian bread crumbs if you want a crispy, thick coating. Salt and Pepper the floured chops. I just lightly floured mine after dipping in a whisked up egg. Fry in canola oil with a half cube of butter mixed in for flavor. Lay out on paper towels to soak up some of the oil. Then place in a casserole dish (9 x 13 pan). Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.
Then fry them up in half oil, half butter for a tastier fried pork chop. 
After about 2 to 3 minutes per side, lay them on a paper towel and dab dry. 
Lay them flat in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes on 325. Then mix up the gravy while your chops are baking. After 30 minutes pour the gravy over the chops in the 9 x 13 pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Chops will be so moist and tender and delicious! 
Mushroom Gravy
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup White wine or sherry 
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
pepper and seasoning salt to taste
1/2- 3/4 cup mushrooms sauteed in butter and garlic for 5 minutes. I just use Johnny's Garlic Salt mix. I get it at Costco and it is delicious to make garlic bread too. 

I made 45 of these chops once for a huge dinner at my house. I used dutch ovens and put a few layers of chops in each one. They turned out super tender and tasty. This recipe is a keeper. You NEED to not only try this. You need to eat this! If you use the very thick chops at Costco, I would add some extra cooking time, maybe an added 20 to 30 minutes (at 325 degrees) in the oven so they are tender. 
I have also tried brining my pork chops for 20 minutes in some lightly salted water. You could do this if you want to make sure they will be juicy when you are done baking them. Here is a video I watched that had a little brining going on. I always brine my turkeys. It always adds to the juiciness! Enjoy!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kitchen Gadget Organization

I was in my friend Amy's kitchen the other day and asked her if I could snap a few pictures of her cute holiday decor. When I got home I loved all of her stuff. She is a master designer and decorator. Her projects always inspire me.
But the picture that really got me dreaming was this one I took of her stove area. She is a great cook and party planner too. But I had no idea she had so many little kitchen gadgets! Look at this display!
Kitchen Gadget Holders. I'm going to add a few more beside my stove! 
 I have been so frustrated lately with my bulging drawers that are sadly, not EVEN halfway deep enough to house all my junk. And it makes me feel unorganized. I have a gadget holder beside my stove that I had designed for me many years ago when my kids were little. It says "Patties Paddles". haha.
My Kitchen Gadget holder.....Patties Paddles used to be a cute saying. Now it seems kinda weird.
 That was in the days of wooden spoons. And no, I never hit my kids with a wooden spoon. It was just a joke I thought was cute. 20 years ago you could say things like that without somebody jumping out of their skin. lol.

What a mess, right? My unorganized gadget drawer! And I have two of them! So sad. Bad me. 
You can see Gunner Dog in the corner of this pic. He's such a good doggie. 
Well, here is my messy gadget drawer that barely closes. I think I can take Amy's idea and simplify the whole big mess a little bit. It is actually so nice to just grab what you need while cooking instead of digging through a drawer. It's my new favorite organizational tip. I happened to have a heavy, crockery, bean pot I've never used in like 8 years. I got it as a gift and loved it but have not used it. Well, now it has a new purpose.
My Kitchen Gadget Holders. I've had this pot forever and never have used it once. Now it has a purpose finally! Yay!

I'm glad I never tossed this cute bean pot! You will definitely need a heavy, crockery container for all the metal spoons and turners and whisks and assorted kitchen gear. The crocks are pretty heavy and something light will just get knocked over too easily. I wonder if I can find these crocks at the the thrift store? I'll have to check it out! 
This little dude was helping us in the kitchen today. I got a little smile out of him too. He just started waving and saying bye bye. It's pretty sweet. 
I should probably organize the crocks a little bit better. Maybe I can put all the silicone things together, and then  the wooden things together too. I need another crock for metal things. That would make me feel more organized. And it takes a lot less time to find things when they are sorted together.


Now it looks a lot better with 3 kitchen gadget holders; one for whisks and metal slot spoons, one for wooden things, and one for silicone and plastics. It's lookin a bit better. And it feels more organized. 
Lazy Susans are great for organizing a kitchen cupboard or pantry. I wonder if they will help me organize mine? I will actually have to do the organizing. That is the sad part. Maybe I can bribe somebody to help me. hmmm....
 I'm going to tackle the pantry next. That's my goal for 2015 anyway. It is a real disaster area. I can't even show it, I'd just die! I bought some Lazy Susan thingies from the Container Store for only $5.99 to help me. 
I use these to hold all my spices in those little cupboards on the sides of the stove that are so tiny and useless for anything else. Maybe I can do the same in the pantry. 
They are an easy way to organize spices and canned goods, cleaners, really just about anything. I am going to put in 1/2 hour twice a week towards organizing  the kitchen this month. That is my goal anyway. Maybe someday I can have drawers as organized as this! (don't hold your breath on that one...)



I'm sure once I get into the project, I'll spend even MORE time on it. (Yeah. Get real. That's not gonna happen.) Hopefully I can soldier on through the mess I call a pantry. It may take me the whole bleeping year to organize my messiness. Wish me luck. 



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Easy French Baguettes

Here they are, hot out of the oven! French Baguettes that are so light and crispy! You've GOT to try this easy recipe! 
Awhile back I went to a great cooking class and listened to a master cook and teacher named
"The Food Nanny". She was just delightful and fun to listen to. She had so many food stories I could have listened to for hours.   Here is her book.

 It is less than $16.00 on Amazon. It is called The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner and it's Here at Amazon. Check out her book, because she has such a great meal plan to help families eat dinner together and stay close!

  I didn't have my purse with me so I didn't get an autographed copy of it! DARN! But I DID get her to take a picture with me, when I told her I had a food blog. Isn't she cute?
Me and the Food Nanny...yeah we are real tight....snicker....
 The Food Nanny is mom and a grandma too! (and she loves being a grandma best!)
She made pizza dough and french baguettes both in under an hour....
Anyway, she gave us all this fantastic recipe for French Baguettes!  It takes literally 5 minutes to make. She showed us this cool baguette pan too. I ran right over after the lunch class and bought one at Spoons and Spice..... my favorite cooking gadget store. They are having a huge sale, so check it out at Spoons and Spice.

They had so many french bread pans to choose from and they were surprisingly CHEAP!
My finished french breads.....Don't they look great?  They are crunch on the
outside and soft in the inside...perfect to my taste.....
French Baguette recipe....totally easy and seriously yummy! 
Then I went to work. A half hour later here were my baguettes.  They taste just like a crusty french bread should. And no fat!  She gave us all kinds of tips about meal planning that I thought were fabulous! In a nutshell here is her plan....

Sunday is traditional day...roast beef, chicken, those kinds of things.
Monday is Comfort food...chili, mac and cheese, easy stuff like casseroles....
Tuesday is Italian night....she does all her pastas here...she has tons of varieties....
Wednesday is Meatless night....soups, salads, fish, or breakfast for dinner, waffles, french toast, pancakes, bacon, etc.
Thursday is Mexican Night. Tacos, Enchiladas, mexican casseroles, burritos etc.
Friday is Pizza night and all the kids invite their friends over for her out of this world pizza varieties.
Saturday is Grill night. They do a lot of hamburgers or chicken on the grill.

Doesn't that sound fabulous and fun?  I thought so too.   Gotta give that plan a try. The thing she stressed, that I really liked was how she said it kept her family together while her husband flew planes in the military and later for an airline. He was gone a lot. She was like a single parent. And dinner around the table every night added structure to her day and a bonding with her kids. They still all come back for Pizza night. She has many gourmet types of pizza as you can imagine. Her favorite is arugula, fresh mozzerella, cherry tomatoes and olive oil on thin crust. I'll do that on a later post.
Yeast mixed with warm water and sugar.....let it foam up a bit.....
Then add the flour and salt and mix up with warm water....a little at a time until it is a nice ball....Then knead
for a minute on the counter....
Here are mine kinda kneaded and waiting to be put into the pan....took 5 minutes to make and roll!  
I went over to Spoons and Spice to see if I could find a "Baguette Pan" 
 HERE is a page full of coupons to Spoons and Spice. It's a really fun place to browse around if you are a foodie like me.
Anyway it looks cool....it's 2 long u shaped pans for breads....
The food nanny makes this bread and gives it away for people's birthdays and special occasions. What a great gift idea and so quick. Who wouldn't love some hot french bread homemade by you?

Here's the Baguette pan.  It was only $5.99 at my local kitchen things store. (Spoons and Spice)
Recipe for French Baguettes... SO EASY!
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups flour add a cup at a time
Add up to one cup warm water to get perfect consistency

Mix up first 3 ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for 2 or 3 minutes. (sugar feeds yeast so let it set awhile) Then in a separate bowl add salt and flour and add it to wet mixture, and then add the (up to 1 cup) warm water. Mix and then knead for a minute. Roll out in 2 loaves and lay them on greased baguette pan and let rest for 15 minutes under a towel (it will rise a bit).  Then bake 450 for 15 minutes or until golden colored.   This whole french bread takes about 35 minutes total to make and bake.
So here they are before the 15 minutes rising time.....Both have their own tube to sit in....
And here they are after the 15 minutes rising time....I put a line down the middle of each with
a sharp knife just before popping in the oven....it will look just like french bread when it has been baked! 
Wha la!  Ready for a hot 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes....watch it the last  minute or so.....
And here they are, hot out of the oven! French Baguettes are light and crispy! 
Well, they are just plain DEEE-LISH!  That's what they are! My hubs liked thema lot. And I sent one down to my friend Lauri down the street. Spread the lovin!   
Then Spread some REAL butter and dig in!  mmmm....Yummy! 

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...