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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are already gone and you are right, there are no pictures....AGAIN!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins:
1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1 heaping tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup plain pumpkin
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins (makes 18 medium sized muffins or 9 jumbos). Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients and mix until moist. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into pan. cook for 18-24 minutes depending on size of muffins. Test with toothpick for done-ness. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack. These freeze well and can be warmed in the microwave.


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Pumpkin Muffins on Foodista

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Homemade Mayonnaise

I was raised on Miracle Whip and married a strictly mayonnaise man. Gradually, I stopped buying Miracle Whip and converted to mayo, but I didn't really ever love it. Then, about seven years ago, I decided to try making homemade mayonnaise and I found my true sandwich spread. Admittedly, there have been times when I have reverted back to store bought, but in my opinion, homemade is best. It only takes about 5 minutes to make!!

There are a lot of different recipes out there. This is mine.

Homemade Mayonnaise:
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 + 1/2 cup canola oil, divided
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tsp lemon juice
In a blender or food processor, combine egg, salt, dried mustard, cayenne, sugar and 1/4 cup canola oil. Blend it until it starts to look creamy. Open the top of the lid where you can pour things into the machine while it is still on and pour the olive oil into the egg mixture in a very thin stream. Blend about a minute. Add the lemon juice, and blend 30 seconds. Finally, add the other 1/2 cup of canola oil in the same manner as the olive oil, with the blender/processor on. Blend another minute or so until it is thick and creamy.
This is linked to Foodie Friday, Friday Feasts, Food on Friday, Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

13 Frugal Tips for Moving

As time draws closer to our interstate move (2 weeks from today), I thought I would share some of the things I have learned and/or done to make this an easier task.
Note: the length of time you have to prepare for a move is key to some of these tips...the longer you have, the better off you are.

1. Start packing early, but beware that you don't pack anything you will need. If you are moving in the summer, pack your winter clothes, your Christmas decorations, etc. If you have a ton of dishes (yes, I am guilty of that) pack your surplus, keeping only your everyday set out. You get the idea.
2. Glean boxes anywhere you can. Moving boxes are expensive if you buy them new. Try your classifieds, craigslist, freecycle, your local grocery store, copy store, even the liquor store. Get creative. I got a bunch of boxes from a neighbor who is a teacher. At the end of the school year, the teachers got in orders of books for the coming year. Those boxes were perfect for packing my books.
3. Packing paper ideas can be just as creative. Save old magazines and newspapers. Ask your friends for their newpapers, too. Call the local newspaper office and see if they will let you have the ends of their newspaper rolls.
4. If you are moving yourself, look into all of the moving truck companies. I initially thought I would go with U-Haul, but when I looked into Penske, I found that I could save hundreds of dollars. I also got an additional discount because I am a AAA member.
5. If you have any sort of food stockpile, start planning menus around what you have. Use that up so you don't have to pack it. I have been buying only milk, eggs, cheese, butter and occasional fresh fruit for the last 3 months!
6. Invest in a tape gun. I can't tell you how much easier it is to seal boxes with a tape gun than picking the end with your fingernail, holding it, cutting it with scissors, etc. You will save so much time!
7. Get your new address as soon as possible. Knowing where I was going, I got a PO box. Although you may choose to have your mail delivered to your new residence after you move, if you have some sort of address, you can save a lot of headaches. My PO box only cost me $26 for 6 months!
8. Change all of the addresses of your magazine subscriptions. Most of these you can do online. Remember that magazines often need 6 weeks to process address changes.
9. While you are changing addresses, change it with USPS, too.
10. Inform your utilities, auto insurance and other bills that you are moving. You don't want to be billed for things you don't use, you want to make sure your car is insured in your new place and you don't want to miss a payment if other bills are delayed.
11. Label your packed boxes well. In big letters, list the contents and the room where the box is going. Later, you will be glad you don't have to go through 10 boxes labeled kitchen just to find your can opener.
12. Take stock of your belongings and purge. If you haven't used something for 6 or more months, do you really need to move it? Have a garage sale, use ebay or your local classifieds or freecycle to get rid of things you don't want anymore. Your local thrift store may also benefit from your surplus.
13. Refill prescriptions as close to your move date as possible. In my case, I have a son who is on 5 different meds. I am going to have to find new doctors and get new health insurance (ugh) I don't know how long that is going to take, but certainly don't want to run out in the meantime. Talk to your doctors and see if they will give you extra refills.

This is linked to Thursday-13 and Frugal Fridays.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

English Muffins: Take Two ~ Success!!

I tried a different recipe this week and I like the results a lot better. The muffins rose taller and tasted just a little bit better. Here is the recipe I used. I adapted it from Allrecipes.com.

English Muffins :
1 cup milk
2 Tbls sugar
1 Tbls yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup melted butter
6 cups flour
1 tsp salt
Warm the milk in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for one minute (should be lukewarm). Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved. In mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the milk to the yeast mixture, as well as the melted butter, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add rest of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead or use mixer. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise, about an hour. Punch down gently, or rather, sort of slide the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rounds with biscuit cutter, drinking glass, or empty tuna can. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal also (this prevents the dough from sticking to the waxed paper). Cover and let rise 1/2 hour. Heat greased griddle. Cook muffins on griddle about 10 minutes on each side on medium heat. (Here, I had problems, because, as I have stated before, my griddle has one temperature: too hot. I browned both sides for a few minutes and then baked the muffins in the oven for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.)

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This post is also part of the Make It From Scratch Carnival

English Muffins on Foodista

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies

These peanut butter cookies are really good. They are soft and chewy if you bake them for the minimum time or they are crispy if you bake them for the longer time. They are great made into ice cream sandwiches, too.

Peanut Butter Cookies:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Cream peanut butter, butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and mix. Combine dry ingredients and add. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet by teaspoons. I press them down with my closed fingers.Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove to a wire rack to cool. This is where I usually make piles for each family member. I get the kids to do a little math by telling them how many cookies the recipe made (36) and how many people are going to be eating them. They do the division and we make piles accordingly. Sometimes, I let them eat the cookies whenever they want and sometimes I tell them how many they each can have at a time.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

English Muffins: First Attempt

I made English Muffins this afternoon. I used this recipe. I purposely started with this recipe because 1. Everyone in the blog world is raving about The Baker's Apprentice cookbook (there is even a challenge going on where people are baking their way through the entire book!) and 2. It only makes 6, so if they didn't turn out, I wouldn't have been out much in the way of ingredients or effort.

They were pretty easy, but I don't think it's the recipe. I want more holes in my English muffins. I have learned that the holes are made in the first rise. No new holes form in the second rise, they just get bigger. That being said, I think I played with the dough too much when forming the muffins. They rose and were nice and thick. I cooked them on the griddle for only 3 minutes on each side because I have a stupid griddle (don't get me started) After I cooked them on the griddle and baked them in the oven, I cut one open and put some butter on it and shared it with my little girl. It was good, it just was really dense. I have another recipe to try next week. You will, of course, find the results right here.
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