Wednesday, April 21, 2010


So, yesterday I spent the whole day in the kitchen baking bread; 2 loaves of whole wheat and 6 loaves of French Baguette.  As you may or may not know - French Baguette needs a container of water cooking underneath it for part of the bake time.  I have this glazed earthenware casserole dish that I have been using for this purpose.

I bake 3 loaves at a time.  The first batch went off without a hitch.  But, then...

when the beeper when off signaling me to remove the pot of water from the oven...

I grabbed my pot holders, opened the oven door, clasped the casserole dish by the handles, lifted it up, and...

this happened:

Look closer:

The whole side just lifted right off - pouring steaming hot water all over my oven door, which in turn, spilled all over my floor.  Buuuummmmmmer!

I was shocked.  I couldn't even articulate what had just happened.  But hearing my moans of horror - my big, strappin', helpful husband hopped up and came to my rescue.  I love that man!  At least it was just water - albeit, scalding water.  I choose to look at it as an opportunity to sanitize my kitchen tile! :0) 

I have NO idea what caused this dish to snap like that - I'm just thankful it happened before I had it up in the air.  I'm sure there would have been burns involved at that point.

Have you had any kitchen (or other) mishaps lately?

Happy Homemaking!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Just about the only thing I drink anymore is water.  But, sometimes...I want a little flavor.  Yesterday, I decided that instead of drinking my water from the filter in the fridge, I would just fill up a pitcher with ice and filtered water because I go through it pretty quickly.  And, it's just prettier that way. :0)

After I filled my pretty pitcher with water - I noticed I had 3 oranges left.  "Hmmm....that might be nice floating in there."  So, I sliced one up and tossed it in.  Then, I remembered the lemon balm growing in my front flower bed.  "Hmmm...that's lemony.  That might be nice in there."  So, I snipped some, washed it, crushed it in my hands a little to release the flavor, and in it went.  I gave it a good stir and poured myself a cool, refreshing glass of good ol' H2O - with a kick.

The nice thing about it was that the longer it set, the more flavored it became.  It tinted the water a pretty shade like Ginger Ale, too, after a while.  When my pitcher was empty - I simply added more ice and water.  I did this 2 or 3 times and it still flavored the water.

If you have a hard time drinking plain water - or if you just want a little something extra - you should give this refreshing twist on water a try.  You may just find that if you have a pitcher of it waiting on you, you may drink more during the day.

This would be delicious with any citrus fruit - lemons, limes, tangerines...  Lots of different types of herbs would be fabulous as well - mint, rosemary, lavender...

So, how do you take your water?  Straight up?  With a twist?  Sparkling?  Do you ever flavor it - and with what?

Happy Homemaking!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I needed an easy supper last night because I was going to be gone all afternoon.  So, I threw a chicken in the crockpot and let it cook while I had my appointments. 

When I got home - I pulled the bird out of the slow cooker.

I grabbed a few organic potatoes.

And got them ready to go into the oven for fries. Click here for my super simple recipe.

Then I started making a crazy-easy homemade BBQ sauce.


3 c. ketchup
2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. liquid smoke
optional - various other seasonings

The basic recipe calls for the ketchup, brown sugar, liquid smoke and salt to be combined in a pot and heated through on medium low until it's warm and thick.

But, since I can't leave 'well enough' alone - I added a few things.  I'm going to give you approximate measurements, because this part would be all to taste anyway.  I threw in about 2 tbsp. of paprika, 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder and a dash of onion powder.  We like our BBQ sauce with an ever-so-mild kick. 

This is the part where I forgot to take more pictures. :0)  So, pretend that you see me shred up the chicken and add a little bit of sauce to it for the sandwiches.

We used the last of my homemade sourdough buns to serve them up on.  I remembered to take the last picture after I ate my first bite!

My Notes:

  • This sauce was really quick and simple to throw together.

  • It made plenty, so I have a ton of it left in the freezer for another use. 

  • It would be great on another pulled meat sandwich, brushing on ribs or chicken when grilling, or even as the base for a BBQ Chicken Pizza. Mmmmm....

  • My husband, who is isn't a huge fan of BBQ sauce, loved this stuff.

  • You can add different flavorings to it to make it uniquely your own.

  • Although, it has a lot of sugar in it - I figure it's still got to be better for us than the store bought kind that is not only full of sugar (probably more), but an inch long list of ingredients that I can't pronounce, also. 

  • I will still probably cut back on the sugar amount the next time I make it to see how little sugar I can actually use while keeping a well-flavored sauce.

  • I will definitely keep this in my repertoire.
Happy Homemaking!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Last night I made tacos for dinner - with homemade flour tortillas. Oh my - they were a huge hit!  I wish that I could have video taped my guy's faces for you.  I'll definitely be making these again because they were not only yummy, but they were pretty easy, too.  Here's the recipe...

Homemade Flour Tortillas:

3 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. lard or bacon grease (I suspect that butter or coconut oil would work, too.)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk

Mix dry ingredients together.  Cut in fat.  Add liquids.  Stir into a ball.  Knead slightly if you need to.

Wrap lightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  You can make these early in the day, if you need to and they will keep 'till supper time. 

When you're ready to cook them - cut dough into 8 pieces (keep covered while you're rolling them out, so they don't dry out). 

Heat an un-greased cast iron skillet to medium-high heat.  Roll out the balls into disks about 10".  (Mine did better on medium.)  Cook on each  side until brown spots begin to appear.  The original recipe said about 2 minutes per side.  Mine actually cooked in about 15 seconds per side.  It may take you 1 or 2 tortillas to get it down.  Cover with a towel to keep warm while you cook the rest.  Enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from a recipe from Sarah's Musings.

Happy Homemaking!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Today I am sore.  Well, only when I stand up or sit down.  However, I can walk a little more normally than yesterday.  I'm pretty happy about that. :0)  You see, we spent the entire day on Saturday FINALLY painting that old, ugly, nasty, scratched up wood work in the dining room, living room and hallway.

I'll share just a little peek with you.



The white wood work makes the house feel so much lighter, fresher and cozy.  It was definitely worth the sore muscles.  I can't wait to tackle those kitchen cabinets next!

Happy Homemaking!

Friday, April 9, 2010


I made roasted chicken for dinner last night - something I don't often do.  For some reason it has a tendancy to intimidate me - whether it's not getting it to turn out with moist meat and crispy skin, or just thinking that it's a pain in my backside - I'm not really sure.  But, after last night's supper - I'll definitely be adding it to our menu more often.  It was so easy.  And, so yummy!

Roasted Chicken:

The most important part to do before you get started is to pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees and lower the rack to the 2nd lowest spot it can go in the oven.

Next, put a roasting rack in your cake pan or roaster.  I found that spraying the roasting rack with a little bit of cooking oil helped to release the bird when it was done, as well as make clean-up much easier.  Wash the bird in cold water and take out the packet of innards.  Fold the wings under the back and place it on the roasting rack.

Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper.

Rub the skin and the breast under the skin with butter.  Be generous.  Butter is good for a bird.  (Olive oil can do in a pinch.)

This next part is where you can feel free to get creative.  I always salt the skin with salt and pepper.  This time I used lavender sea salt.  I also, sprinkled on some French Thyme.  Whatever herbs are your flavor preferance can be used.  I also use fresh herbs when I have them.  Rosemary is divine.  This always changes by what I have on hand, though.

The next part is the cavity.  It is a great place to infuse flavor from the inside.  I always stick a couple cloves of garlic in the cavity.  Last night I also added 1/2 an apple.  Sometimes, I add celery and onion or oranges and more fresh herbs...  it really doesn't matter - you just want to add more flavor. 

I put the rest of the apple in the bottom of the pan along with the innards - these are my husbands favorite.  Then, and this is the super important part,  before you stick the bird in the oven - pour 1 inch of water in the bottom of the pan.  It really helps to keep the meat moist.

Now we're ready for the oven.  Roast the bird uncovered at 500 degrees.  The amount of time will vary according to the size of your bird.  Mine was really large - probably 5 lbs or more.  It took about 1 hour and 15-20 minutes.  The important thing is to wait for the little white thing to pop up - or until the meat reads 185 degrees with a thermometer.

One last thing - leave it uncovered until the skin is a nice, crispy, golden brown - then loosely cover it with foil for the rest of the baking time.  You're striving for golden brown, not burnt.

This was so yummy!  The skin won rave reviews. :0)

The key is to cook it high (500 degrees) and put that water in the bottom of the pan.  These are the two things that will keep your bird juicy and it's skin delish.  This is also how I cook my turkey now. 

It didn't take long at all to prepare the bird for the oven and then I was free to let it be until it was done.  I just had to whip together some simple sides (basmati rice, asparagus, carrot salad) and dinner was ready to be served.

I hope that you consider roasted chicken the next time you're in a menu planning funk. 

Happy Homemaking!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Instead of making 2 loaves of bread the last time I made sourdough bread, I decided to make 1 loaf of bread and attempt to make hamburger buns with the rest of the dough.  Click here for the recipe.  I patted out the dough and cut them like I would a biscuit.  My 'biscuit cutter' is just an old vegetable or soup can that I washed and popped air holes in.  It works beautifully and was free.  I also have one made from a tomato sauce can that is smaller.  I thank my mom for this idea. :0)

Next, I laid my 'buns' out on a cookie sheet to rise until they were doubled in size.

Once they had risen I baked them at 375 degrees until they were done.  Definitely check them after about 15 minutes.  Cooking time will vary according to the size of your 'buns'.

Here is my final result:

My thoughts:
  • When I buy whole wheat hamburger buns in the store I spend about $3.00 for an eight pack.  I got eight buns out of my dough for pennies.  This makes much more sense financially.  Plus, I know exactly what is in there - no processed gunk.
  • Next time I make them I will use a cake pan so they won't be so far apart from each other.  They didn't rise as much as I was hoping.  I think if they are closer together in a pan that just barely fits them, it will force the buns to rise up instead of out.  But, skinny rolls seem to be the in thing right now, anyway.  :0)
  • They freeze extremely well.  I didn't plan on using mine right away - so I stuck them in a freezer bag in the freezer after they were completely cooled.  They thawed much more quickly than a loaf of bread because of their size and density. 
  • The taste was great.
  • I will definitely be making these again the next time I make sourdough bread.
  • Making hamburger buns would probably work with my basic whole grain recipe, too.  I may try that next.
  • The next time I need hot dog buns, I'll try hand forming them with this same method.  I'm sure it would work as well.
There you go.  If you are looking for ways to "healthy up" and have been easing your way into bread-making, I hope you consider making your own hamburger or hot dog buns.  They're easy, peasy, home-baked goodness!

Happy Homemaking!