The Rubber Egg

I know that I’ve done a lot of recipes because, well, I like food and I like to cook so naturally that’s what I gravitate to.  But this blog is supposed to be about more than just that.  I want to try anything that catches my eye and looks cool.  This is one that I’ve been wanted to try for a while and I’m not sure why I put it off so long because it is very simple and you only need a couple of things to do it.  A bowl, an egg, and some white vinegar.  You can hard boil the egg first, which is a little less messy (believe me). 

Put the egg in the bowl and cover it with vinegar.

Image

 

It’s going to take a couple of days for the vinegar to work it’s magic but you will be able to see it as it happens.

This is 24 hours.

Image

 

This is 48 hours.

Image

 

After the 48 hours, I took the egg out of the vinegar and rinsed it off.  And I had a rubber egg (sort of). 

Image

 

If you gently squeeze it, it feels like rubber.  It will even bounce if you drop it a few inches above the counter! However, only attempt to pinch it if you’ve hard boiled it first, which I didn’t, and mine busted all over the counter top. 🙂  

My kids did this one with me and they thought it was really cool.  You also get to teach them a few things about science.  From my research online, this is how it works.  The egg shell is made up of calcium carbonate.  The vinegar is an acetic acid.  When these two are combines a chemical reaction happens and gas is released. The gas is carbon dioxide, which you can see is the bubbles floating in the vinegar. The chemical reaction keeps up until all of the carbon in the egg is used up. Now, I didn’t get to do this with mine because it popped, but if your egg was hard boiled and you leave the egg sitting on the counter for about another day, it will get hard! Why? Because it absorbs the carbon dioxide in the air.  If it was still a raw egg, you can put it into a bowl with water and it will absorb the water and swell up until it bursts.  

This experiment reminded me how much I used to like science in school.  Isn’t science amazing?!?

Simple Spaghetti

This is a very simple recipe.  I don’t know about your family, but mine gets tired of the same old spaghetti all the time.  Noodles with hamburger meant and canned sauce.  This recipe lets you get some fresh ingredients and depending on the ingredients you use, it can be low fat and low cholesterol.  

 

You will need spaghetti noodles (whole wheat or whole grain if you want it healthier), about 5 roma tomatoes, red onion, low fat grated Parmesan cheese, basil (fresh or dried) and low fat house Italian dressing. 

Image

 

Start by putting a large pot of water on to boil.  When it boils, add your spaghetti noodles.

Image

 

While the spaghetti is cooking, dice up the tomatoes and some of the onion.  You will need about 2 tablespoons of the onion.  Add those to the bowl along with 1/2 cup House Italian dressing, a teaspoon of basil, and about 1/2 cup of the shredded Parmesan. Mix it up well.

 

Image

 

Once the spaghetti is done, drain the water from it and put it back into the pot.  Add the tomato mixture and mix it well.  That’s it.  It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s a very refreshing change to the same ole spaghetti.  Enjoy!

Image

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Pecan Frosting….YUM!

This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to try since just after Thanksgiving.  Every time I went to make it, I’d be missing an ingredient or two.  So even though it’s more of a fall type recipe, I went ahead and made it and I am so glad I did.  They turned out so yummy!

To start with the cupcake recipe, you will need:  unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, salt, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, pumpkin puree (not the pie filling!), and 2 eggs.

Image

Preheat the oven to 325. Line your cupcake pan with liners.

Image

Start by putting 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) of softened unsalted butter into a pot.  Melt the butter over medium-low and continue to cook, swirling it around often, until it turns golden brown.

Image

You will get a foam on the top of it, skim that off.

Image

Remove it from the heat and pour into a bowl.  There will be burnt sediment at the bottom of the pot.  Try your best not to get any of that into the bowl.

Image

Set it aside to cool.  In a bowl, whisk together 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves,  and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  Make sure it is well mixed.

Image

In another bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and the brown butter mixture. If you got any of the burnt stuff from the butter, try not to get it into the batter.  The first picture is all of the gunk at the bottom of my bowl.

Image

Image

Add the flour mix to the pumpkin mix and whisk until it is just combined.

Image

Fill each liner about 3/4 of the way full with batter. I got 16 cupcakes out of mine.

Image

Bake them about 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Set them aside to cool.

Image

Now for the icing!

You will  need maple syrup, softened cream cheese, softened butter, and powdered sugar.

Image

In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring a 1/2 cup of maple syrup to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, swirling frequently, until it has reduced by about a third.

Image

Pour it into a glass measuring cup that has been nested into ice water.  Stir it constantly until it gets really thick and is just warm.   It will take about 3-4 minutes.

Image

Remove it from the ice water and set aside.

In a bowl, using a mixer on low speed, combine 2 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup of softened butter.

Image

Beat in 2 cups of powdered sugar (you can add as little or as much as you want depending on the consistency you want your icing to be.) Mine did not turn out as expected.  I added the 2 full cups and it came out as more of a glaze than a frosting.

Image

Then beat in the syrup.

Image

Image

If you feel like experimenting, you could play around with the consistency of it.  Like I said, mine turned out as more of a glaze than a thick icing.

Image

The pecan step is optional.  Half my family likes them, the other half doesn’t.  So I left some without pecans.  You can either get pecan halves or buy them already chopped.  I got the halves.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the pecans out flat.

Image

Pop them in the oven that has been preheated to 325.  It should only take about 3-4 minutes to cook them.  Watch them closely as they will scorch really fast. Pull them out and either chop them on a cutting board of leave them whole.

Image

When your cupcakes are cool, you can ice them.  Since mine was thin, I dipped the tops into the bowl of icing.

Image

Top them with the pecans and then munch away!

Image

As always, try this one out and come back and let me know how they turned out for you!

Homemade Wipes

Being the mom of an 18 month old, I go through a ton of baby wipes.  And I don’t just use them for him, either.  I use them for the older kids, I use them to remove make-up, wipe toys down….The cost of them can add up.  I recently saw a tutorial online for creating your own wipes at home so I wanted to give it a try and see if it could save me some money.  Not only did I make baby wipes, but I made bleach wipes as well, to use on counter tops, to clean the bathroom, to disinfect toys, or just whatever.

First for the bleach wipes. You will need an airtight container (I got a pack of 2 at Walmart for about $2.50), bleach, and water.  Oh and paper towels to make the wipes.  Don’t skimp on the brand of paper towels.  The cheap ones will disintegrate   I used Viva brand because they are really strong.

Image

You need to cut the roll of paper towels in half.  Try to use a knife that is not serrated.  It will just eat the paper towels.

Image

Put one half in the container.

Image

Mix 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of bleach in a bowl.

Image

Now pour the mixture over the top of the paper towels.

Image

The mixture should be soaked right into the paper towels.  Now that the cardboard core is wet, it will be easier to remove.  You might meet a little resistance from the glue they use but it shouldn’t be too hard to just pull it out.

Image

Now you will be able to pull from the middle when you need a wipe.  Easy, right?  Just cover with the lid.  You can put a hole in the lid to pull the wipes through but I chose not to do this.

Image

Now, for the baby wipes.  You will need the container, the other half of the paper towel roll, baby wash, baby oil, and water.

Image

The same as before, put the half of the paper towel roll into the container.

In a bowl, mix 2 1/4 cups water, 2 tablespoons of baby wash, and 1 tbsp of baby oil.  Mix it well.

Image

Then pour the mixture over the paper towels.  If you use the thicker baby wash, it might look gooey but it will dissolve in.

Image

Again, now that the cardboard center is wet, it can be easily removed.

Image

Now, you have baby wipes! Hopefully this will save me some money, and you too.

Image

Homemade Chinese Food

I love Chinese food! But I hate paying buffet prices for it.  It is so easy to make at home and even tastes better than stuff you get at a buffet place. Except for maybe Panda Express.  I love Panda Express.  The kids and I used to eat there all the time when we lived in California but the closest one to me is now 30 miles away.  So I saw a recipe for Chow Mien that said it tasted like Panda Express chow mien   I figured it would be perfectly paired with the beef and broccoli that I always make.  I will do each recipe separately to I don’t confuse you by going back and forth.

First, for the beef and broccoli you will need: Beef tips/stew meat, onion, broccoli, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and a beef and broccoli seasoning packet.

Image

I don’t follow the directions on the back of the packet.  I usually just do my own thing with it.  Start by adding in a few tablespoons of soy sauce and about 2 tablespoons of oil into a wok or pot. Turn the heat up to medium.

Image

While it is heating up, go through your beef.  Make sure there are no large pieces.  I usually cut everything bite size to make it easier for the kiddos to eat.  Also, it cooks faster.  Add the beef to the pot.

Image

While the  meat is browning a bit, cut your onion.  I don’t usually use a whole onion, only about half of a medium size one. I cut mine in rather large chunks. It makes it easier for the kids to pick them out (picky eaters!!).  Add them to the pot.

Image

Next,  you want to mix the beef and broccoli seasoning packet with water and soy sauce.  I usually do follow the instructions for this on the package.  It’s usually about 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of water.  It just depends on what brand you can get.

Image

Once your meat is brown, pour this into the pot.  You don’t want to do it too early because it has flour or corn starch in it and will thicken up fast and you will lose your juices too early.

Image

Let that cook for a few minutes and get to cutting up the broccoli.  I try to cut mine in smallish pieces. Again, it’s easier for the kids. Once it cooks for a bit, add the broccoli in.

Image

Then you cook it until the broccoli is how you like it.  I usually put a lid on the pot and it cooks a bit faster.  We don’t like ours hard but we don’t like it mushy either.  I cook it just enough that it still has a bite to it.

Image

Now for the chow mein or technically I think it is a low mein but whatever.

You will need: onion, celery, soy sauce, garlic, cabbage, brown sugar, ginger, oil, and noodles.

To start, put 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 minced cloves of garlic, ginger (the recipe called for 1 tsp fresh grated ginger but apparently in my tiny town we can only get ground ginger.  I used about 1/2 tsp.), and black pepper to taste.

Image

Set this aside.  Now for the noodles.  The recipe called for 3 (5.6oz) packages of YakiSoba noodles from the produce section.  They are fresh and you don’t have to cook them, just rinse and set aside to use. I couldn’t find these either.  I just went to the aisle where the asian food is and got 2 packages of chow mien noodles. These had to be cooked in boiling water for about 3 minutes. I used 1 1/2 of these packages and it made a lot! Maybe only use 1 package unless you are counting on left overs.

Image

Image

Once they are cooked, rinse them in cool water and set aside.

Cut up your onion and celery. For the onion I used about a 1/4 of the onion from the beef and broccoli and cut it into small strips. For the celery, I used 2 stalks and cut them at a diagonal.

Image

Heat up about 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pot.  Add the celery and onion and cook just until the onion is translucent.

Image

While it’s cooking, you will have a chance to cut up the cabbage.  I just cut a small hunk off of the head and cut it into strips.  It was about a cup of cabbage. Add that to the pan.

Image

Let that cook for a minute or two.  Then add in the noodles and the soy sauce mixture.  Make sure to coat the noodles in all the yummy goodness. Cook it for a few minutes to heat the noodles through.  And it’s that simple!

Image

You can add some white rice as well, and make it a full meal. It’s so very easy, and so much cheaper, to cook your own food at home.  Plus, you know how fresh your ingredients are and you control what goes into it.

Image

Oven Bacon

I have two posts for you today.  I’ve been quite busy cooking away the last few days but I’ll limit it to two posts per day 😉

This one is about a post I saw, and a few friends and family members have reposted, about cooking bacon in the oven.  In my house, my husband is the breakfast cooker.  I cook almost every other meal in the house and I hate cooking bacon, and he’s good at it so I usually let him do it.  This past Sunday he was tired and so I decided to let him sleep in a bit and I cooked breakfast. I remembered seeing this post so I thought I would give it a try.

Image

Do not preheat your oven.  For this to work best, you need to start with a cold oven.  Cover a cookie sheet, or two, with foil.  Lay the bacon out flat on the cookie sheet.

Image

Put the bacon in the oven and then set the oven to 375.  I did it this way because the original poster said that it helps reduce splatter.  I’m not sure about that.  It still splattered a bit.  It also said you can cook it for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Cook the bacon for 20 minutes.  I planned to let mine go over a bit because I like crispy bacon, but I got distracted with the kids and eggs and a couple of pieces burned a bit.  (whoops!)

Be very careful when pulling it out! There was a lot of grease in the pan.  Spilling it on yourself would not be good!

Image

It didn’t turn out half bad.  Next time I won’t leave it in so long and I think it should be about perfect.  The clean up was really easy because all I had to do was wait for the grease to harden and roll up the foil and toss it.  Easy peasy!

Image

As always, if you try this one out, let me know how it works out for you! Tomorrow….homemade chinese food!

Chicken Spaghetti

I was really excited to try this one.  This is the Pioneer Woman’s recipe and it seems like everything that comes out of her kitchen is YUMMY!!  This recipe was no exception.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking about the leftovers in the fridge and my mouth is watering!

For this recipe you will need:

chicken (any cut you want, I will explain further down), a package of thin spaghetti, 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, grated sharp cheddar cheese, a green bell pepper, onion, 4 oz jar of pimentos, Lawry’s seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.

Image

The first thing you want to do is cook your chicken.  The original recipe calls for chicken parts, but you can really use any cut you want (breasts, thighs).  I thought I would be Suzy Homemaker and get a whole chicken.  It was cheaper and I figured it would leave me a lot of leftover chicken to use later in the week.  I got about a 4-5 lb whole chicken.

For starters, you want to put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Whichever cut you choose, you want to rinse it with cold water in the sink. Set chicken aside and wash, wash, wash your hands.  I’m a stickler for hand washing when dealing with chicken.  I wash anytime I come into contact with anything that may have touched the raw chicken.  When the water starts to boil, add in the chicken.  You want to leave it at a rolling boil for a few minutes and then turn it down to simmer for about 30-45 minutes.  This part took me longer because I got the whole freaking chicken.  It took about 1 1/2 hours for my chicken to cook all the way through.

Image

While the chicken is cooking, you start cutting up the bell pepper and the onion.  You will need about 1/4 of a cup of each.  I just eyeball it.  You want these diced.  Also, drain the jar of pimentos.  I had a hard time finding these in the grocery store.  You would think they would be in the olive and vinegar area, but I found them with the canned mushrooms.  Good luck on your search. Add these to the bowl with the veggies.

Image

You can also break up your spaghetti.  I used one of the small boxes and it was perfect for us.  I broke it up into thirds.  Set it aside.

Image

When your chicken is done cooking (juices run clear), remove it from the pot and set it aside to cool.  Remove 2 cups of the broth from the pot and set it aside for later.  Turn the heat up to high and get it back to a rolling boil.  Add the spaghetti to the pot.  Cook it until it is very al dente (you are going to cook it more later so you don’t want it to turn to mush).  It will be soft but still have a bite to it. Drain it and set it aside.

By now your chicken should be cool enough to handle.  The recipe called for 2 cups of cooked chicken pieces, but my family said next time to add more.  Whatever your preference is.  By this time, I was done and irritated with the fact that I’d gotten a whole chicken and it was taking forever so I just took the breasts off and shredded them.

Image

Put the chicken in a rather large mixing bowl, add the cooked spaghetti, 2 cans of cream of mushroom, the onion, bell pepper, and pimentos, 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1 tsp of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne (I started with 1/8 and it wasn’t enough so I sprinkled a little more on and it was perfect for a little kick but it wasn’t too spicy), and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix it well.

Image

If it seems a little dry add some of the chicken stock you set aside earlier.  It should be easy to stir but not too soupy.

Image

Taste test it to make sure there is enough salt, pepper, and cayenne to your liking.  It should be well seasoned.  Pre-heat your oven to 350.  Grab a casserole dish, any shape will do, just make sure it’s big enough to fit everything.  I used my Pampered Chef rectangular baker (I LOVE Pampered Chef).  Put everything in the casserole dish and add about another cup of shredded sharp cheddar to the top.

Image

Pop it in the over and you want to cook it about 30-35 minutes, until it gets bubbly.  It’s going to start smelling so delicious! Pull it out and enjoy!  My family really loved it, but it is kind of heavy on the stomach so maybe pair it with something fresh and light, like a salad.  Try this one out and let me know how it works for you!  Until then, I leave you with this picture that will make your mouth water! 😉

Image