Friday, April 7, 2017

Better Homemade

I was blessed to have a Mom who taught me to do a lot of homemaking chores and tasks, and how to work and cook in the kitchen.  I’ve been married nine and a half years now, and I have picked up a few favorite recipes and tricks for things that I prefer to do “homemade” instead of “store bought”.  These things are simple to make, often more effective than their store bought counterparts, and usually a bit cheaper to DIY than to buy.

:: Cream Soup Substitute – easy, cheap, and certainly more simple/healthy than the gloop that comes out of a can!  My friend Danielle shared an excellent recipe on her blog, and I’ve been using it ever since.

:: Chocolate Chip Cookies – I settled for Toll House dough when we were on deputation, but I love to whip up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies.  My tip is to pull them out when they look just barely cooked, and then leave them sit on the pan for 5-8 minutes to “cook” a little longer.  Best, chewy cookies ever!  I modified the recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

1/2 cup butter creamed with 1/2 cup shortening
Add 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix in 2 1/2 cups flour (I add 1 1/2 cups first and mix well, then add the remaining cup)
Add 1 bag of milk chocolate chips.  Don’t use semi-sweet – your taste buds will thank you!
Bake at 375* for 8-9 minutes per batch.

:: All Purpose Cleaner – I’ve been making this for a long time, and it works better on kitchen grease and grime than anything else I’ve ever been able to buy.  I make a double batch in a spray bottle that I picked up at Home Depot.  I combined two recipes from other blogs to get the result that I like.

1 tsp. washing soda
1 tsp. Borax
2 cups hot water
10 drops essential oil (I like mixing lemon, orange, and peppermint)
1/2 cup white vinegar (add very slowly)
2-3 drops dish detergent (blue Dawn)

:: Laundry Detergent – I have gone back and forth between homemade and commercial laundry soap, but I keep coming back to this homemade powdered detergent, especially for the savings.  This time I threw in some homemade “Purex Crystals” from Epsom salts and essential oils.  I’m not sure how well they work, but it’s supposed to be homemade softener

:: Spot Remover – This one is challenging to make, and every time I do it the bottle overflows.  I scrub it onto a spot with a toothbrush.  I’m not sure if its the ingredients, or the toothbrush scrubbing that works so well, but it does!  Don’t leave the lid on the bottle, and don’t make too much at one time!

Strawberry Jam 2017:: Jam – I am so very glad my mom taught me to can!  I love making jam the best, and I can usually find inexpensive fruit at the NYC markets.  I got strawberries recently for $1 a quart, and made 16 pints of jam.  It only took me a couple of hours after the kids went to bed, but the PBJ tastes so much better now!  Sure-Jell is what guarantees the jam will “set” and the recipe is very descriptive and easy to follow.

:: Bread – I use a bread machine to mix the dough, and then I let it rise in the pan for 30 minutes, and then bake for 30 minutes.  I am on my third bread machine since we’ve been married, but I have purchased all of them “like new” at thrift stores for much less than $20 each.  Its super simple to throw the ingredients into the bread machine, and the results are so worth it!  I make about 3 loaves  a week, but sometimes I fill in the gaps with store bought bread from BJ’s.  I have been using a modified recipe from Money Saving Mom for a while.  I cut the sugar in half and use coconut oil for the oil in the recipe.  think the milk and the coconut oil make the difference in the texture of the wheat, without adding gluten.

:: Granola – I love this recipe, and my twins (3 years old) generally opt for granola instead of sugary cereal!  I add coconut sometimes, and cut the sugar in half.  I add extra cinnamon and add 1/2 tsp. of ginger and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg.  I used to cook the nuts in the granola, but my kiddos prefer it without, so now we just add nuts to each bowl as desired.  Our favorite toppings are chocolate chips and pecans!IMG_2826

:: Yogurt – This is so simple to make in the crockpot!  No added flavorings or sugars, and we love it on our granola instead of milk.  The texture is a little thinner than store bought yogurt, but I have come to prefer it.  You can sweeten the yogurt with maple syrup if you need it sweeter.

:: Lip Balm – I love making homemade lip balm!  The ingredients are available in bulk on Etsy or Amazon, and it’s fun to do!  Maybe I’ll do a separate post on this later!

:: Refried Beans – This is quickly becoming one of our favorite meals!  I love making homemade refried beans.  The delicious flavor comes from the milk and the coconut oil!

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