Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sweet and Salty Ice Cream Sundae

This is a no recipe needed dessert.  You just put theses few ingredients together and voila a dessert that is sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy.  It has everything you need to feel satisfied.  Ice cream has always been one of my personal favorite desserts.  I love the salty, crunchiness of the buttery cashews with the sweet, creamy caramel.  The sprinkle of cinnamon makes this sundae like no other!

Here is what you need...

  • vanilla ice cream
  • caramel
  • cashews
  • cinnamon
Scoop ice cream in bowl, top with caramel, add cashews and sprinkle with cinnamon.




 My love for buttermilk is not normal.  And I know it!  Buttermilk does special things to food, flavor and texture are enhanced.  Despite buttermilk's bad rep, it is actually a low fat food.

Have you ever tried making buttermilk?  So good and so easy, only two ingredients!  If you have ever wanted to use buttermilk in a recipe and didn't have any, you could make your own. Try this one day with the kids.  I love when Science makes yummy food. 

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar, or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
Place the lemon/vinegar in a measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid.  Stir to combine and let stand for 15 minutes (The mixture will curdle). Use as needed in a recipe, or refrigerate.

Buttermilk Bread

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1 cup buttermilk 
2 tablespoons white sugar or honey
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2  unbleached AP flour or bread flour

  • Pour water into bowl of a standing mixer (if using) or mixing bowl and pour the yeast over top. Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
  • Melt the butter in microwave. Mix the butter, buttermilk, sugar, and salt and 1 cup of flour over the yeast. Stir until this comes together. Then add the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time.  It will be sticky.
  • Kneading: I used the dough hook attachment on a standing mixer, knead the dough for 8 minutes.   If the dough is sticky, add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky. When it is smooth and forms a ball, it is done.
  • After kneading dough, oil bowl and form a ball, put dough in bowl and let it rise for about an hour, in a warm spot, until it doubles in size.   
  • Now that the dough has doubled, dust flour on the counter and turn the dough out.
  • Divide the dough in half and shape into balls. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Grease two loaf pans. Shape each ball of dough into a loaf and transfer to pans and gently press to fit into loaf pan.  Let the loaves rise in pans for 30 minutes.
  • Slit the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. 

Slice bread evenly with a bread slicer.  It is an inexpensive gadget and well worth it.  Without it my family tends to slice on the thick side.

For step by step instructions on how to make bread, click here:  

For step by step instructions on how to make bread, click here:  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bless The Lord, O My Soul

Homeschool Classroom: Lesson Plans/Chore Charts

What does a homeschool classroom look like?  For some, it is a highly decorated replica of a traditional classroom and for others it is as simple as the kitchen table. That's us.....simple.  It's different for everyone.  We have moved all over the house. We've used kitchens and family rooms and spare bedrooms and now a sun room. To me the room is not as important as the functionality you make of it.  

I am constantly reorganizing our school room.  It seems to be a continuous project for me. Something new comes into my life like this pink organizer that I found at a yard sale (see pic below), for school supplies and I change everything else around in the room.  I call it WHEN YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE syndrome. You start with one idea and it turns into a million other ideas but you always end up back where you started from.  

My kids know when I am ready to make changes because it always starts with me saying "Wouldn't it be better if we (fill in the blank) in the school room?"  I can't help myself or at least that is what I tell myself.

          A glimpse of our school room.

In fact when I was writing this, I went to get the book to take a picture for this blog and ended up organizing my daughter's room.

If you are not familiar with this book, you should read it (there is a whole series of them).

So as we wrapped up another school year I was thinking what changes needed to be made. One is time management.  Some of my kids are more punctual than others. Some procrastinate and some are extremely efficient. Because of that, I am always trying to think of creative ways for them to use a chore chart or lesson plan. I won't throw anyone under the bus but rather share an idea that I hope will encourage said child(ren).  

Through the years I have used various chore charts and lesson plans to stay organized and to encourage my kids to be more self sufficient. Some have worked more than others. Using the whole puncher and index card method has helped by holding the child responsible for their school work and chores. Having to punch a hole in the card makes them have to read the card!!



I have tried writing out a to-do list and it seems that they never went back to refer to it.  I like this idea because they have to hole punch it so I know they did it. This is so simple and yet has been so effective.

You will need these supplies.  I happen to have a paper cutter or scissors work just fine.

Here's how it works.  

As an incentive, I use index cards for their "to-do" list.  If and when they have punched their cards in every category, they get to keep their privileges.  Everyone starts off with all their privileges and if they want to keep them, they need to complete their responsibilities  (ie: school, chores, etc).


Our school room is in the sun room.  The sun shines through the 22 windows we have in this room and we have an awesome view of the woods.  The kids do 80% of their work at this table.

 How do you stay organized?  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Salsa: Fresh or store bought??

I make salsa more than any other food.  My love for salsa began when I was a little kid.  I grew up in Los Angeles and was fortunate enough to have been exposed to all kinds of food.  Mexican food being one of them.  There were dozens of Mexican restaurants to choose from and I probably ate at them all.

I prefer fresh salsa to store bought but with that said there are a few good ones out there.  I grew up eating Pace picante sauce and could practically eat a whole jar with tortilla chips.  From time to time I will buy jarred salsa but my favorite still remains...FRESH IS BEST!

I am an Italian-American and was raised by my Italian grandparents and they use to tease me all the time saying I must have Mexican blood in me because of my love of Mexican food.

When I was 18 I started to make my own salsa.  I practiced making salsa by first eating at Mexican restaurants and then going home to try and copy the recipe.

By the time I was in my early 20's and married and started having kids, my husband and I were selling our salsa at Farmer's Market. am still making it and loving it!  My kids love it and my husband, too!!   

This is the easiest salsa you'll ever make. It comes togetherin just a few minutes. I use my food processor to get the consistency that I want. Not only is it easy to prepare but it's very versatile.  It is fresh and healthy and delicious!!!


2lbs roma tomatoes
1 whole bunch cilantro
1 small onion
3 garlic cloves
1/2 lemon or lime
jalapeno/serrano peppers
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Rinse and chop veggies and blend in food processor. You can use a blender but it will take longer as you can only put in small amounts at a time.
  • Squeeze juice of lemon/lime and add salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Store in refrigerator.
  • This will make about 64 oz.

~NOTICE~ I did not put how many peppers to use. When you make salsa, you make it how you want it to taste. If you want it hot, add more peppers.  If you are a mild person, add less. There is no wrong way to make it. 

I like it HOT!  I would use at least 3 jalapenos and 4 serranos.  The heat of the pepper varies.  Sometimes I need less and other times more.  So...taste test it as you make it.

Some fact about peppers: 

  • the heat is mainly in the ribs and seeds
  • the Scoville scale is the measurement of heat that is used for chili peppers
  • peppers are known to speed up your metabolism

Here is what it cost~~

Freshly made....
$1.14 for 16 oz 
$.07 per oz

Gourmet (store bought)....
$7.99 for 16 oz
$.50 per oz

Favorite store bought brand....
$3.69 for 16 oz
$.23 per oz

If you have never made fresh salsa, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy and amazing it taste!!  Now that you have the facts, you can answer the question yourself....fresh or store bought???

Let me know what you think.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Natural Homemade Laundry Soap: Is it Worth the Time and Cost?

It might seem like a lot of work to make homemade, natural laundry soap, but I am here to say that it couldn't be easier. It is one of my top priorities as a mom to make my family healthier and save money while doing it.  I love being a stay-at-home mom and coming up with ways to save money. This is a great way to save money and have long lasting, safe to use laundry soap. 

All of my children have suffered from eczema at one time or another in their life. I have found that using natural laundry detergent helps prevent their skin from rashes associated with eczema. You can make a separate batch without the Purex for sensitive skin.  

Conventional laundry detergents are loaded with chemicals like fragrances, phenols, sulfates and more.  They also cost more than making it yourself.  You are getting a better product when you make laundry soap yourself and you are saving money!!  With the cost of house supplies (and groceries) going up, it is important to find ways to save money.

What the ingredients are:

is a naturally occurring mineral made up of boron, sodium,  oxygen and water.

Washing Soda 
is made from salt and limestone.

is a bar soap that contains sodium tallowate and sodium cocoate or sodium palmate kernelate and sodium palmate. 

Let's break down the price:
Depending where you live and where you shop, prices will vary. Using coupons will lower cost and depending where I shop (such as Lowes), I use my military discount (my husband is in the Air Force).  This is what it cost me.

1 Box of Borax 4 lbs 12 oz. size ($3.16)
1 container of Oxy-Clean 1.3 lb ($2.86)
1 Box of Super Washing Soda 3 lb. 7 oz. ($3.24)
2 Boxes of Pure Baking Soda 2 lb. ($1.12)
2 bars of Fels-Naptha 5.5 oz. ($1.94)
*optional: Purex Crystals 28 oz. ($3.97)

TOTAL- $16.29
This makes 215.5 oz which is a little more than 13 lbs.  
7.5 cents per oz

You need 2 tablespoons (1 oz) per (full) wash load which equals 215 loads of laundry!!!  

Remember this has no fillers.  It is very concentrated. 

~This detergent (without Purex or Downy) is fragrance and dye free which is great if you have sensitive skin or allergies.

~Dove soap can be used in place of Fels-Naptha.

~This laundry soap is highly concentrated and a little goes a long way.

~Make sure to grate the bar soap in a food processor very fine.  I use the cheese grater attachment first, then the blade. 

~I use a 5 gallon bucket to mix and store in.  I transfer laundry soap into a smaller container and use that in my laundry room and refill as needed.

~The Oxy comes with a 1 oz scoop. It is the perfect size for measuring out your laundry soap.

Have you made your own laundry soap? How did you make it?

Sharing is caring...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Easy No-Bake Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie is the perfect dessert to bring to a potluck or BBQ. It's easy and requires no baking. When ever possible I try not to turn on my oven in the summer months and this easy, no-bake pie does the trick.

My daughter's favorite pie is Banana Cream Pie and she had asked if we could make this for dessert (again).  Because it is her favorite pie, we have come up with a few different versions. 

I have two versions of this PB Banana Cream Pie.  This is one of them...the super easy, super quick and still super delicious version.  The other is a homemade pudding and crust with real whipped cream...still so very yummy and a little more time consuming, but completely worth it!  I will soon share that recipe as well. 

But for now, if you and your family have a craving for a creamy, peanut buttery dessert and you want it NOW!  
Then this is the Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie recipe to make!!


3 cups milk
1 box vanilla pudding
1 box vanilla cookies
1 container of Cool Whip (thaw)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 of a brick of cream cheese (softened)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 bananas (thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon of vanilla

  • In a small bowl mix peanut butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar.
  • Mix vanilla with Cool Whip.
  • In a separate bowl mix pudding with milk according to box directions.

Layer cookies on 
bottom of 9x13 pan, slice bananas and layer on top of cookies.  
Then drizzle PB mixture over bananas.
Pour pudding over cookies and bananas and PB mixture.

Smooth Cool Whip over pudding.
Refrigerate for 3 hours.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

MAKE FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL: PB & J French Toast with Bacon

Our family holidays revolve around food.  We start planning the menu weeks in advance.  So, now that it's Father's Day, it was my husband's turn to pick the menu.  I have shared before his love of French Toast as a kid and this is definitely   the grown up version.  This French Toast is loaded with peanut butter and jelly and topped with real bacon crumbles.

This recipe starts off like my previous French Toast recipe.  Click the link above for the Greek Yogurt French Toast recipe.

You will make some changes to the steps after making the custard.  Follow these simple steps.

  1. After slicing bread (if using home made), spread PB & J on bread as if making a sandwich.
  2. Dip sandwich in custard and cook in a buttered pan until golden brown on both sides.
  3. Meanwhile, in another pan, cut bacon in 1/2 pieces and cook until crispy.
  4. Warm real maple syrup in microwave or on stove top.

This method is extremely versatile and peanut butter can be substituted with almond butter or Nutella. Also, use your favorite jelly or honey.

Sharing is caring...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Talking to a hairdresser can be like speaking a different language and any misunderstanding can end up in a really bad haircut.  I pulled out my phone and went to my Pinterest board full of hair styles.  I pointed and grunted and she said "I got this".  So, I sat down~and with full trust she cut and snipped and sheared away.

There are so many things worse in life than getting a haircut. That is what I tell myself anyway.  I am a pony tail girl!  Fast and simple! So, it is out of my comfort zone to get my hair done.  I told myself that I am going to improve in this area and make the effort to get a "real" haircut...not a Supercut haircut, but a real salon where you need an appointment and they offer you a water bottle while you wait type of salon.

Leaving the salon and grabbing some lunch with my kids at Chick-Fil-A.

It's been over a year since my last haircut. 
I don't know why I dread it so much?? 
It's really only the anticipation of it, because once I finally do it, I feel so much better. 


1 Peter 3:3-6 

Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful.  Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special. Long ago those women who worshiped God and put their hope in him made themselves beautiful by putting their husbands first. For example, Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her true children, if you do right and don’t let anything frighten you. 


Small disclaimer: I am not a hater of Supercuts.  I will gladly patron there as needed for the family.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fried Zucchini with Homemade Ranch Dip

Since I've been a kid, one of my favorite foods was fried zucchini.  If my family went out to dinner, I would always check to see if it was on the menu.  My parents never made it at home, so my only time to ever eat it was if I went out.  

As I got older I started making it myself and it is still one of my favorite foods!  A few years ago I grew my own zucchini and the first thing I made was fried zucchini. 

These fried zucchini are crispy and so flavorful.  They make a great side dish to burgers, chicken and fish or just eaten as a snack.

Fried Zucchini

  • 2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds                         
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1  cup panko bread crumbs or Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • oil for frying

  1. Measure flour onto plate.
  2. In a shallow bowl pour in buttermilk.
  3. Combine panko, onion and garlic powders, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper on a second plate.
  4. Dredge the zucchini in the flour, followed by the buttermilk and finally in the seasoned panko mixture.
  5. Place breaded zucchini slices in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. 
  6. Drain on a paper towel  and season with salt and pepper. 

Ranch Dip


  • 1 clove grated Garlic 
  • 1/4 cup Italian Flat-leaf Parsley (chopped)
  • 1 cup  Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Buttermilk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Dill
  • Cayenne Pepper to taste
  • Tabasco To Taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
In a bowl combine all ingredients and chill in fridge.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Greek Yogurt French Toast

When my husband was a kid, his favorite breakfast was French Toast.  So, I have created several different ways to make it, depending on what ingredients I have on hand.  One morning I was going to make French Toast and I didn't have cream, which is what I typically use.  So, I used Greek yogurt instead. It was amazing!  It was smooth and creamy and full of flavor.  I used my homemade sandwich bread recipe for this French Toast and it held up perfectly. 

You can get the bread recipe here.

I don't usually measure, but I came up with a recipe that comes close to how I typically make it.

This will make 8 FRENCH TOAST.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 
  • pinch of salt
  • butter for pan

Mix all ingredients in a shallow dish.  

Dip bread in egg mixture.

After bread soaks up custard...

Cook in melted butter...

Until golden brown.

If using homemade sandwich bread, slice bread about 1/2 inch thick.  Otherwise, use any bread of your choice.

Melt butter in frying pan at medium heat.

After soaking bread in custard, cook bread on each side until golden brown.

Enjoy with warm maple syrup or honey or preserves.