Friday, August 29, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been so hot lately that I've hardly turned on the oven. Today it's cool and sprinkling...just perfect for baking cookies.

This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and it's Bobby's favorite cookie of all time. He loves when I make them. He'll be thrilled to find them when he comes home from school today.

I made these cookies one time for the judges at a band contest that our school was hosting. One of the other moms tried one and said "We'll put those ol' store bought cookies out for the judges and keep these back for the parents." She went on and on about how good they tasted and of course that just made my day. :)

This is a recipe from Crisco that I tweaked a bit.

1) Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2)Combine the following and beat at medium speed until well blended:
3/4 cup (3/4 stick) butter flavor Crisco Shortening
1 - 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

3)Beat one egg into creamed mixture

1 - 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Mix into creamed mixture just until blended.

Stir in 1 cup milk chocolate chips and 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans.

4) Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

I hope your family enjoys them as much as we have.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Scenes From My Garden

Our garden is small and every square inch is overflowing. For inexperienced gardeners I think we're doing pretty well. :) Maybe we can expand a little next year.

In this one picture you can see basil, jalapeƱos, and two different kinds of watermelons.

Marigolds to keep away the bugs.

Another kind of pepper (neither Mike or I can remember what kind, but they are HOT).

And one of our 4 tomato plants.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Healthy Lunches

Kitten in a Lunchbox, Retro

It's already time to start thinking about back to school. I don't pack a lunch for my kids every day, but I do find myself packing them quite often, plus I pack lunches for Mike. It's hard to think of interesting, tasty and healthy things to pack day in and day out without totally blowing your budget on prepackaged items. Peanut butter and jelly only goes so far... Here are some great links with plenty of inspiration.

Lunch Box Recipes

Family Fun: Pack school lunches with punch

8 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Kids and Nutrition

How to shop for organic foods without breaking your budget

Vegan Lunch Box

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tomato-Basil Pasta salad

This is such a nice summertime recipe. It's great if you have an abundance of tomatoes and basil from your garden like I do.

We usually eat meatless meals once or twice a week. It's good for us, plus it's easy on the pocketbook (especially if some of the ingredients are homegrown). I served this with garlic breadsticks.

3 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
12 oz. fusilli pasta (or your favorite pasta)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1. Put tomatoes, onion, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano in a large bowl; toss. let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes or until tomatoes release their juices, tossing occasionally.

2. Cook pasta as package directs. Drain and add to bowl with tomatoes; lightly toss. Let come to room temperature. Add basil; toss. Serve or refrigerate up to 1 day.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Roll It Up

It's not often that a mom learns organizational tips from her sons, but I've learned a few from mine. Being in the military, my sons have learned to be all about efficiency. One interesting way they do this is by rolling things up.

They wear the same thing to work everyday (a uniform) so they make "skivvy rolls" to save time getting ready. These consist of underwear, socks, and an undershirt all rolled together. That way they just grab a roll and their uniforms and they are ready to hit the door in 10 minutes flat (of course it helps not having enough hair to comb). :) This is a great way to pack too. You would be amazed at how much they can fit into a carry on bag, plus it keeps things from getting so wrinkled.

I have a drawer in my kitchen chock full of dishtowels. I have lots and lots of them and it's not unusual for me to use 6 or more each day as I'm cooking and washing dishes. I have always had them folded up in the drawer which quickly became a mess as I pulled towels out and then washed them and put them back in. I finally thought to roll them up like the boys roll their things up. It works SO well! I can actually close the drawer now without one falling out. Now, why didn't I think of this years ago?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Homestead Biscuits

Biscuits are a staple around here. I make them a lot. Nearly every weekend I'll make Mike's favorite breakfast of biscuits, gravy, bacon and eggs. I also make biscuits with supper sometimes. They are great with fried chicken or chicken fried steak. Have you ever had biscuits and chocolate gravy? That's a good breakfast too. This is one of my favorite biscuit recipes. It's just as easy as the kind you make from a mix.

Homestead Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons shortening
1 cup milk

First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees, then measure your flour into a bowl.
Add your shortening.
I use one of these nifty little gadgets to cut in the shortening, but you can also use a fork or two knives.
Add your milk and stir just until a slightly sticky dough forms.
Knead lightly on a floured surface. I just fold it over and pat it a few times. It's a good idea to remove your rings when you do this. I always forget and have to take them off later and scrub them with an old toothbrush to get the dough out.
Roll to about a half inch thickness. This is such a cute rolling pin with red handles. I bought it at an estate sale. An elderly lady took my payment and told me that she hoped I would roll out many biscuits for my family with it. I have, and I think about her every time I use it.
Cut dough and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
You can also put them all in your cast iron skillet if it isn't already in use frying bacon. :) Bake at 450 for 10 to 12 minutes. Mike likes them just lightly brown.