Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bring dinner home again!!

Going out to eat can quickly become a 3-4 night a week event.  Whether it's a quick drive through dinner because of evening activities or a sit down because it's been a long day, it can easily add up!

A few reasons we only go out on very special occasions ...
  1. Financial - We can easily spend on one meal what we would spend on 2 weeks worth of groceries.
  2. Quality of food - When we cook at home we can control every ingredient of our meal and prepare it exactly how we like it.
  3. QUALITY time with family - When we are at a restaurant we are surrounded by noise and interruptions.  The kids don't tell us as much about their day in a public setting with all the other activities around us competing for their attention.
  4. Teaching opportunities - Children can learn some incredible life skills in the home kitchen.  Communication, math, reading, self sufficiency, team work ... the list goes on and on! 
But most of us know all of that already ... the real question is HOW can we do it every night??  Over the years we have added a few fun activities to our dinner time routine that have really made it more enjoyable and exciting for us to stay in and eat at home.  Here are our tips and tricks on reducing/eliminating restaurant visits:
Sports and activities night
Event nights are crock pot nights.  We currently have one day a week that is jam packed full of activities and sports.  That night is crock pot night.  Sundays (our free day) I prep everything needed for one crock pot night.  I have a recurring reminder set on my phone for that busy morning.  It alerts me to throw everything into the crock pot and turn it on.  When we come home that evening dinner is ready.     


Interactive theme nights

Kid's choice
We have two theme nights every week.  The first is a kids choice (big kids aka farmer J, get to pick too.)  We take turns choosing a theme for that day on Saturday before we hit the grocery store.  We then come up with a fun menu for that night.  Some examples are under the sea mermaid night (my daughter picks this one often, so this is usually our sea food night), race car drive-up diner night (burgers/fries),  and Tarzan jungle night (finger food without utensils).  We find a Pandora station that fits the theme and play it while we prep the food and dinner table.

Italian
We have one Italian night a week.  This is a fixed night every week (example every Wednesday).  We do this so the kids know exactly what to expect every Wednesday and they look forward to this day every week.  On those nights the kids help make pizza, homemade pasta, lasagna, meatballs ... anything interactive.  The Pandora station for this night is "Italian Traditional Radio".  

Family movie fun night.
Fridays are family movie fun nights.  We make appetizers, snacks, and a big bowl of air popped popcorn for dinner.  We lay out a picnic blanket and have dinner in front of a movie.




UN-Takeout night
There are lots of foods that are easy to pick up on the way home from work.  They are surprisingly just as easy to make at home.  Here is an example of Chinese UN-Takeout night Veggie lo mein with homemade noodles (recipe here) and Egg drop soup (recipe here.)


  Leftover buffet and surprise soup night
We have one night during the week where we eat up all the leftovers in the refrigerator.  We do this by upgrading leftovers, having a leftover buffet (I got this idea from the Money Saving Mom's book**), and veggie drawer surprise soup.  Leftover buffet is when you put all the leftovers on the counter in a buffet line.  Everyone gets to put whatever they want on their plate for dinner.  Surprise soup is a pot of soup made out of anything in the refrigerator that has a short shelf life.  (Example, left over turkey and a bell pepper can be mixed in with beans and tomatoes for a chili or hardy soup)   These three significantly reduce food waste.  This is also the night I clean out the refrigerator.  

**you can also listen to it for free with a 30 day audible trial


Example week of meal themes at home 
*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How to cook rice in a blanket!!

Growing up we always LOVED to see a pot wrapped up in a blanket in the dining room ... it meant we were going to a party with yummy food!!  This method is great if you need to cook your food on your way to a potluck or if you need to run out for a few hours but need food ready when you get home.  It will keep your food HOT for up to 3hrs.  As an added bonus you are using very little energy.

You can do this with plain rice (adding 1 Tbls of water per cup of rice) or follow my recipe below.
*The full steps are also in the video at the bottom of this post!!*  Enjoy :)
Ingredients:
You will also need:
  • Large paper bag
  • One thin tightly woven blanket (a doubled over sheet will also work)
  • One thick blanket
Instructions: 
  1. Bring pot up to medium low heat and add oil.
  2. Add Onion, salt and pepper and saute on medium heat until translucent.
  3. Turn heat to high and add orzo stirring until it turns golden brown (don't walk away, this happens quickly)
  4. Have water ready to pour in as soon as orzo gets light brown (it burns quickly so 30 seconds could burn it!)
  5. Bring water to boil (use a small spoon to test water for salt and adjust if needed - be careful it's hot!)
  6. Add rice and bring back to boil 
  7. Cover and put into paper bag, then wrap the bag closed (see video)
  8. Wrap with thin blanket, then the thick blanket
  9. Set aside for at least one hour
  10. Unwrap and fluff rice with fork (Again, being careful it's HOT!)


*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!

Friday, February 19, 2016

How to sooth dry peeling lips in the winter!!

Continuing the #DIYBeauty series ... I do this on most winter nights before bed.  Some nights only steps 1-3 are needed (always follow up with lip balm).  Other nights all 7 are a MUST!  Hope this helps you too!! Enjoy :)
 
Winter is so harsh on our skin.  Dry peeling skin and lips are so hard to control this time of year so it's a constant battle!  Here is one way I've been able to control pealing chapped lips.

You will need:

  • Wash cloth
  • 1 "drop" coconut oil
  • 1 "pinch" sugar

Instructions:
  1. Get the washcloth wet with very warm water and wring out all the excess water.  
  2. Hold the warm damp washcloth on your lips for one full minute (this feels so good!!)
  3. Use the wash cloth to wipe away some of the dead skin.
  4. Massage one drop of coconut oil onto the lips (I lightly swipe my ring finger over the solid oil.  What melts onto my finger in one swipe is enough for this)
  5. With the oil still on your finger, dip into sugar and massage the "pinch" of sugar onto your lips sloughing away the remaining dead skin.
  6. Wipe off lips with the wash cloth
  7. Follow up with your favorite lip balm (or another "drop" of coconut oil).  Note:  Don't skip the re-moisturizing step.  It is very important to reintroduce oils back into your lips/skin after exfoliating.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Always a delicious potluck hit ... Cucumber tomato salad??

**To Pin this for later use the "Pin it" button at the end of the instruction section**
Subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on social media!! 
 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvWq9EZRYx6MB6ty5m44c5w                                      

"Wow this is delicious, can I drink the juice?"

A few years ago we had a potluck get-together.  I wanted to bring a healthy option that everyone would actually eat.  I thought my FAVORITE side dish, mom's cucumber tomato salad, would be perfect!  She made this salad next to a traditional recipe that came from my great grandmother that I like to call "flip over rice lasagna" (recipe coming soon).  

The reactions we received on the potluck side dish were very surprising.  Everyone initially went through the line and took a small spoonful to try (partly because they felt like they should have SOMETHING healthy on that plate lol).  After the first taste the comments were:

"Wait, what did you say was in this?" 
"Wow, this is delicious, can I drink the juice"
"Can I take the rest?"  



This salad is now the most requested side dish (and recipe) for us to bring to events.  
Hope you love it as much as we do :) 

Ingredients:
Instructions:
  1. Dice the cucumber, tomatoes and onion into 1/4 inch pieces and put into a large bowl.
  2. Lightly drizzle the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon all over the top.  Make sure to evenly distribute it all over the veggies.
  3. Evenly sprinkle the salt all over the veggies and wet ingredients.  
  4. Toss to incorporate all the ingredients together.
  5. Taste for added salt if needed - season to taste.
  6. Enjoy!
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/7881368076364751/
^^To pin this recipe for later click here^^

*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lentil soup and financial security

In early 1990 my father decided to open his own business.  It was a small grocery store with a two bedroom apartment on top for us to live in.  I didn't know it back then but our average income was about $400/month.  When I found that out as an adult I was blown away!!  How could a family of 4 survive on so little?!?!  And how did I not know??  Our table was always full of nutritious food.  We always had nice warm clothes and a spotless house.  We didn't want for anything ... it just didn't make sense how we could have so much on so little.

Then I really thought about it.  Mom was a grocery shopping, coupon clipping, bargain finding queen.  Standing at the register with her as a little girl I remember she always paid in cash.  She shopped for fresh seasonal ingredients and supplemented lentils and beans for protein a few times a week.  She bought whole chickens and showed me how to break them down to the more expensively packaged "boneless skinless" pieces, how to use every part of the chicken for stock/broth, and how that can make several meals.  She always cooked and never let a drop go to waste.  She would do leftover upgrades and leftover buffets often.  

Lentil soup was a big staple in my childhood and as an adult it brings back great comfort on cold winter days.  It tastes extra special knowing it was one of the many meals that helped build a strong financial foundation for our family.  The recipe below will yield about 10 servings for less than $0.77/serving!!   

Here is my mamma's yummy Lentil soup recipe... Enjoy :)



Ingredients:
  • 2 & 1/2 cup red lintels 
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 large carrots shredded 
  • 3 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 Tsp cumin 
  • 1/4 Tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 & 1/2 cups of water (or broth ... learn how to make it here)
  • About 1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • Sumac (optional) 
Instructions:
  1. Rinse lintels with water and drain (at least twice). 
  2. Sauté onion and carrots in olive oil on med-low heat until translucent (not caramelized, about 3-5min).
  3. Stir in lintels and cumin and stir around to bring out the flavors for about 3 min.
  4. Add the water, and cayenne pepper then cook over medium heat for 30 min.
  5. Add the salt to taste (and more water if its too thick) then cook for another 5min.  
  6. The soup will be ready to eat at this point.  
  7. To make it creamy, a recommended (but optional) step is to purée with an Hand Blender.
  8. To serve, ladle into bowls (optional - sprinkle a little sumac on top for extra flavor)
*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to make butter in less than 60 seconds

We had a little fun on our snow day yesterday and made some butter.  Here is how we did it :)



Ingredients:
  • Heavy whipping cream (you can make this with as little or as much as you like as long as the whisk can reach the cream to whip it)
  • Mixer
Instructions:
  1. Pour heavy cream into mixing bowl.
  2. Slowly bring the mixer to high speed (so it doesn't splash everywhere)
  3. Let it go until the butter separates from the buttermilk (it will splatter, see video)
  4. Press out the liquid and drain.
  5. Rinse butter with sold water until water is clear.
  6. Press into a butterbell or container of your choice.



*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Homegrown Turkey Meatballs

Our free ranged turkeys did really well this year.  They were very low maintenance, and lived off the pasture so didn't cost us much to maintain.  They also gave us lots of fresh meat ...
... here is one of the ways we used the meat for appetizers, Meatballs with a gravy dipping sauce.  These will work in a tomato sauce over pasta as a main course too!  Enjoy :)

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 medium sweet onion
5 cloves garlic
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
1 TBS dry sage (or 2 TBS fresh)
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Instructions:
Mince the onion and garlic (I run them through the grinder with the turkey).
Finely chop the sage, rosemary and thyme.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with hands until well incorporated.


Preheat cast iron skillet to 350 degrees. 
Add a small amount of oil to the pan, just enough to coat the bottom. 
Form 1 to 1-1/4 inch meatballs lightly packed and place in hot skillet (don’t overcrowd). 
Cook for about 2 minutes, or until browned and turn over to brown other side. 
Move browned meatballs to a baking dish and finish in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through (165 degrees internal). 

To serve as appetizers add a dipping gravy (recipe can be found here).    




*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!


Turkey Gravy dipping sauce

This delicious gravy pairs very well as a dipping sauce for our homegrown meatballs.  

You can easily use this as a pour over gravy for potatoes and roast turkey by adding a little more broth to thin it out.  Hope you love it as much as we do!! Enjoy :)


Ingredients:
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
2-3 cups of broth (you can find the recipe to make your own here)
½ tps rosemary
½ tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. 
Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. 
Whisk in broth, enough to make the gravy a little thinner than you would like it to end up. 
Add the spices and bring down to a simmer. 
Allow to simmer 5 minutes.  Thin with a little more broth if needed. 

Pore into the middle of a decorative serving dish (I use this multi-use serving stand on a daily basis) and arrange the meatballs around the sauce.  



*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How I use kitchen scraps to scrub away cellulite and dry skin!!

Winter always brings on dry skin – everywhere!  I have a go-to body scrub that I use all year long that is hands down better than anything you can get at the store … and it uses kitchen scraps.  

Bonus, it SIGNIFICANTLY reduces cellulite (trust me … when Farmer J notices it MUST be good haha)

Warning: Do not use this scrub before bed!!   Your skin will absorb the caffeine and you will get the same energy kick you get from a strong cup of coffee.


What you will need:
1/4 Cup used coffee grounds
1/3 Cup coconut oil
Fork to mix

Lightly warm up the coconut oil so you can mix in the coffee grounds easily (I use this glass Pyrex measuring cup and a fork to mix and keep beside the shower.)  Add the coffee ground and mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated and set aside to cool.  When ready to use, scoop out a large spoonful and lightly scrub, concentrating on areas that tend to have more cellulite (I do this in the shower because it can get messy).  Leave the scrub on for about 3 minutes and rinse off with warm water.   Skin will feel smooth and moisturized. 

I do this at least twice a week.


*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The BEST Lemon and Vanilla extracts!!!

I gave away all of my Lemon and Vanilla extracts for Christmas this year so it's time to make more!  I found a great deal on these beautiful glass bottles (here)*, so I'll be making THREE of each this time ... don't want to run out again :)

Below are the recipes for both the Lemon and Vanilla extracts.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!!

Lemon extract:

  • Zest of 3 medium organic lemons
  • 2Tbs filtered water
  • 16 oz glass bottle 
  • Vodka

Add the zest and water to the bottle, then fill the rest with Vodka and seal the top. Shake to combine. Let steep for 6 months shaking occasionally.


Vanilla extract:

  • 2 large vanilla beans
  • 2Tbs filtered water
  • 16 oz bottle
  • Bourbon whiskey

Slice the vanilla beans open along the length of the bean. Using the back of the knife, scrape out the vanilla bean caviar. Put both the bean and caviar in the bottle. Add the water and enough bourbon to fill the bottle.  Seal and shake to combine. Let steep for 6 months shaking occasionally.

Side comment for the vanilla extract.  The first time I made vanilla a few years ago I made two different batches.  One with vodka the other with bourbon, the bourbon was delicious and made wonderful baked goods, ice creams and flavored coffees.  The vodka vanilla however, was mediocre at best and was not worth the effort.  


*Note: I am a participant of the Amazon.com associates program.  This is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  I have personally purchased or researched all of the products linked and will not suggest a product otherwise.  By purchasing through these links you support this Mini Slice of Farm blog without any extra cost to you and allow us to continue posting great content for you.  Thank you for your support!!