Friday, January 28, 2011

Organizing Ideas

I was thinking about some organization ideas as I was going through a cupboard this morning and cleaning it up and making some new labels for my jars. I was thinking about the different things I use to help me organize cupboards, shelves and counters and thought I would share.

Canning jars have to be my most favorite. I use all sizes; small ones on up to gallon size, depending on the need. I have a small cupboard above my mixer and I store salt, baking powder, baking soda, measuring spoons, Sharpie pens, and some extracts on the bottom shelf. It was a mess so I took everything out and cleaned it up. Here is the way I store these items..

I purchase salt, baking powder and baking soda in large quantities. Then I transfer them into small canning jars to make them easy to use..

I also keep my measuring spoons in a short, wide mouth pint jar..

And I have a little tiny creamer that my mom gave to me years ago and I put the Sharpie pens in it.. I use the pens to mark ziplock bags for freezer storage..

I had one part of some drawer organizers that I was not using so I use it now to store my extracts and flavorings…

When I put everything back, it looked like this….

Here are some other jars I use for storage.. On my kitchen counter I 4 gallon size jars. One holds granola, one holds instant oatmeal, one has rice in it and one has cocoa mix in it. I buy rice in 25# bags and store it in the freezer. I bring out enough to fill the jar and refill it when it's out. ..

I use to get the one gallon glass jars from Costco. They sold their pickles in them. I was sad to see that the jars are now plastic and am glad that I saved the glass ones along the way. You can purchase one gallon canning jars however.

I also use 2 quart canning jars. In the two below I have whole corn in one (I use whole corn to grind up for cornmeal), and the other jar has bags of green tea in it…

Sometimes I use them for non – food storage. The jar below holds my extra clothes pins…

Baskets are another way I organize things. I have posted this pic before. It is my cloth napkins in a basket on my table…

I buy one package of paper napkins from Costco each year. There are 4 individual packages of napkins in the one big package. I would sit the open package on the shelf in my laundry room. But it always made the shelf look messy. So when I was cleaning out the basement I came across a basket that holds 2 packages of napkins perfectly and sits on the shelf, making it look so much neater….

Since I make my own soap I need a way to have it sitting out in the bathroom for use. I use a pretty basket on my bathroom counter and fill it with my homemade soap…

The other item I needed to figure out how to organize better was spaghetti noodles. Costco sells organic whole wheat spaghetti noodles. You get several packages all in one package. They were sprawled out on the shelf and I was not pleased with this. I had a plastic container that I buy my fresh spinach in (again it was from Costco).. it was in my recycling bin and I pulled it out, washed it and was happy to see that my spaghetti noodles fit in it perfectly! Which goes to show that I don’t always need to run out and buy something to serve a need.. sometimes I already have it right under my nose..

I found these little white baskets at Walmart, a few years ago… I use them for a couple different purposes.. One basket sits at the end of the shelf near my washing machine and it holds our used cloth napkins…

The others I store extra kitchen towels and cleaning rags in them….

Finally I use small size plastic totes to help keep things organized. This tote holds cleaning tools such as brushes and squeegees..

And this one holds my vacuum cleaner attachments and extra vacuum bags…

Lately I have been keeping my eyes open more and more when I am out and about (and around the house).. looking for items that will work for storage and organization!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hamburger Buns and Cinnamon Rolls

I like to make my own hamburger buns and last night we had burgers so I made up a batch of my favorite dinner roll recipe and made 8 hamburger buns and a pan of cinnamon rolls from it. You can find the recipe here:

You can use any bread recipe to make these two items, but the one above is my favorite. You start by bringing the oats, water and butter to a boil..

After it comes to a boil pour the mixture into your mixer. Now wait for it to cool down. If you don’t wait, the mixture will be too hot and kill your yeast.

It takes about 10 to 15 minutes.. once it has cooled down add the yeast, sweetener and whole wheat flour. The recipe calls for Sucanat but you can sub brown sugar if you don’t have the Sucanat..

Mix it all up..

Now add the white flour. You may need to add more than the 2 cups called for. Add flour until the dough does not stick to the sides of mixer and it is not sticky feeling. Knead for about 5 minutes, longer if you have Kitchen Aid…

Let the dough rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes. I just leave the dough in the mixer. When the rise time is done, I turn the mixer on to punch it down. Then take the dough out of the mixer and divide it into two balls…

With the first one we will make the hamburger buns. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Spray an 11x15 pan with some non-stick spray…

Roll the dough pieces into a round ball and then flatten them slightly and put them in the pan..

Now let them rise until doubled in size. While they are rising take the second piece of dough and roll it out into a rectangle about 12x18 inches..

Spread it with lots of butter and sprinkle Sucanat or brown sugar and cinnamon over the top…

Roll it up from the longest side

I use scissors to cut the dough into pieces..

Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray and lay the cinnamon rolls in the pan. Let them rise until they are about double in size.

By this time it is time to bake the hamburger buns. Bake them at 350 for 25 minutes..
Pull them out of the oven when they are done…

When the cinnamon rolls have finished rising, put them into the oven to bake. Same temp and bake for about 25 minutes. While they are baking you can make some frosting. I made a half batch of the frosting recipe that I have posted at the end of this blog..

When they come out of the oven frost them immediately….

Cut the hamburger buns in half and use them to make a delicious burger!

Cinnamon Roll Frosting (I made a half batch of this)
Crystal Miller

4 oz butter (1 stick), softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 T coffee**
1 T milk
1 t maple extract or flavoring

Using a mixer combine butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar, coffee, milk and maple flavoring. Mix well. The frosting will be somewhat thin and pourable. You can pour and spread this on the cinnamon rolls when the come out of the oven.

**note: The coffee in this recipe adds a little color to the frosting to match the slight maple taste. If you don’t want to use this you can substitute all milk instead.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Easy Crockpot Beef Stew

Nothing like a pot of warm stew to keep away the winter chills.  This recipe is pretty easy and quick to throw together. It just needs all day to simmer in the crockpot.

Here is the recipe..

Beef Stew for the Crockpot
1lb. beef stew meat
2 to 3lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
2 cans green beans, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use organic cream of mushroom soup)
2 cans corn, drained
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
1 to 2 cans (14oz) beef stock
Salt, pepper, seasoning salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in the crockpot and let it simmer on low all day long (10+ hours or less time on high).

Here are the some pictures of my stew..

First are the ingredients. And you will notice some of the ingredients don’t look typical.. LOL.. I have a package of beef stew meat from the cow we purchased, a box (not a can) of cream of mushroom soup, the brand is Pacific and I buy it from my food co-op Azure Standard, 1 quart bag of my homemade beef stock from the freezer, 1 quart bag of corn that I froze from my garden last year and one quart jar of green beans from last summer’s garden.  But don't worry, you can purchase the above listed ingredients to make this yummy meal..

My meat was frozen (forgot to take it out of the freezer the night before.. but it really is not a problem, I cooked the stew on high all day long and it turned out just fine). I added the meat and potatoes to the crockpot first..

Then the green beans, corn and tomatoes next….

Then I poured the cream of mushroom soup over the top….

Then added my beef broth. My broth was also frozen so I just put the whole frozen package right on top of it all. It defrosted as the meal cooked and later in the morning I stirred it all up.  But if you are using canned broth, just pour it in and stir it up. 

After 10 hours on high (like I said, I cooked it on high all day because my meat was frozen), it was done..

Now this stew was a little on the soupy side, which is how we like it. But if you want a thicker stew then only add one can (14oz) of beef stock. Taste it and add salt, pepper and seasoning salt to your desired likeness.. :)

You can serve this meal with some dinner rolls or biscuits and a big green salad…

Enjoy!!  :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Updates from the Homestead

I had big plans over the weekend to attack the kids’ bedroom closets.. but it never happened! LOL.. no sure why.. so it is still on the list. I did however get my hallway on the main floor all cleaned and dusted and a big shelf unit that I have there gone through and a lot of stuff purged. Slowly but surely I am getting through my cleaning and organizing goals for January!

We have a little red Jetta that my kids drive. My oldest daughter Carolyn started driving it, then my daughter Hannah, then it was passed down to Emily and now it is Leanne’s. However it now also has 273,000 miles on it! LOL.. so it is really starting to show its age with all the use. It had a big oil leak so Tobin took the car out of commission so he could work on it. He replaced the clutch (which would be due soon anyway), put new seals on the transmission and did a few other things. Then he found the main leak and discovered there was at least one broken piston ring. So the car is getting worn out and tired.. he said this morning he can fix the oil leak, but is not going to replace the piston rings and put that much time and money into the car. Leanne will still be able to drive it until it gives up. Then it will be time to replace it. It is times like this that I am thankful my hubby is a mechanic. The only reason the car has survived this long is because he takes care of it so well. His diesel Jetta (have I ever mentioned he is a real VW fan ;) .. has almost 400,000 miles on it!! :) And still going strong..

My daughter Emily just took a trip to Budapest Hungry.. and had a great time. I hope she blogs about it soon and shares some of her pictures. It has been fun keeping up with her on this European adventure. She also recently started Danish language classes and is challenged but she has always been a girl who loves a challenge!

Today Jacob is working for a neighbor for a few hours, and the younger kids are currently working on their school work and soon we will finish up the chores. Then Tobin and I are headed into town for our weekly date, which will include buying car parts.. after our Starbucks stop.. LOL..

Tomorrow is my son Jacob’s 17th birthday! I don’t know where the years go.. but they do fly by.

Tonight’s dinner is lasagna (supposed to be last night’s dinner but I made a pot roast instead because that was just sounding really good to me :) . Since I will be gone in the early evening time I already have it made and it is baking in the oven. We can reheat it at dinner time.

That is all from the homestead today! Hope you have a super productive start to the week!!