Saturday, February 19, 2011


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Lately we've been motivated to try new things. I want to be more "homemade". Excited about my vanilla adventure! It's hard to wait 5-6 weeks! Since then, I learned that there are other ways to make vanilla. Another person uses less vanilla beans and let's it "steep" for several months longer. So I did that too--yesterday! I also saw a video last night where a guy was taste testing several vanillas he made with different liquors. He decided the vanilla extra made with gin was his favorite. Hmmm... wonder which is cheaper gin or vodka.

I had recently used up soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce--in brown glass 10 oz. bottles. So needless to say I was tickled to save them and use them for more vanilla! I cleaned them and then I cleaned them again! They have snap-up caps too!

Recycled bottles--from soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce

I bought some more vanilla beans from Vanilla Products USA Ebay store. They need to be in an airtight container--resealable plastic bags don't seem to work well enough. So I wanted to put them in a quart canning jar. But they didn't fit, and I was bummed until I remembered my green glass canister set--I can put elbow macaroni in any other container. The vanilla beans altogether in their package were perfect for this taller jar! I get excited over the simplist things sometimes!

I kept them in their original plastic bag and then bagged them in a
resealable gallon storage bag before putting in them in this canister. Now that I notice, I didn't have them in the resealable bag until after this photo was taken.

Nathan found another "soft bread" recipe and tried this the other day. This is the one he made for friends of ours which we delivered that afternoon. Always a delightful visit!


with melted butter basted on the top

We're still LOVIN' our artisan bread. It's so easy to make!

I also decided to make up Bisquick-type biscuit mix. It can be used for other things besides biscuits. Last night, I made up what is called "Impossible Cheeseburger Pie". I call mine just plain old "Cheeseburger Casserole". I like making it in a wider area-- in a 9 x 11 baking dish. I just add all the things we like on cheeseburgers (ketchup, mustard, pickle relish and onions) to 3-4 cups of already browned ground beef. I buy big packages of ground beef and brown the the same day. Then I store them in 2 cup portions in quart-sized freezer bags until I need them. That's what I used for the recipe. After spreading that in the pan, I place slices of American cheese across the top. I only remembered to take one picture of that. If forgot to take pictures after that! After making up the biscuit recipe, I drop small dollops of biscuit dough all over the top of the meat mixture. It's hard to spread the dough--so do what you can to cover the top. then bake for 1/2 hour--until biscuit topping is golden brown, like you would for biscuits!

Cheeseburger Casserole

Bisquick-type Biscuit Mix

I week or so ago, I finally got around to making a recipe that I had for a while--Almost Almond Joys. The recipe comes from one of my favorite websites called Mommy's Kitchen. Tina is so nice and she has wonderful, well photographed recipes--with great tutorials. I'm sure I've said it many times before, but I'm a very visual person! I love photos!

I mixed the ingredients together and pressed the mix into a baking pan. After letting it chill, I cut them up into rectangles.

I toasted the almonds in the oven. WOW! What a difference in the taste! I loved them--just to munch on too!

Melted milk chocolate chips for dipping!

Finished product--Almost Almond Joys!

They were DELICIOUS! I will be making them again! NEXT time I will cut them into 1" squares for bite sized pieces. They were hard to dip. Smaller will make it easier. AND they're very rich (I think)!

More things to share, but I'll wait until next time!



Tuesday, February 8, 2011


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And PLEASE, PLEASE share a comment! We bloggers LOVE comments--even just short ones! They inspire us to continue blogging!

It's been a snowy winter for us thus far. It's already February! Our biggest snow fall was about 15 inches, but it hasn't melted very much; and we keep getting a few more inches (or 12) here and there! Here are some pictures of this winter's snow AND ice!

Snow play early in the season

Jared and Owen cleaning the car

Nathan using the "new" snow blower that Nana gave us--she had it for years,
but it's a John Deere!

Nathan and Jared working on snow removal

Thankfully, Jim came home early and was able to help the boys out with snow removal. I can't remember what we got that time--last week--I think 10+ inches...?

Our latest few inches from this morning (Tues. 2/8/11)

We've had a lot of ice build up this year as well. EVERYONE has. I don't think you go past a house that doesn't have icicles! Our neighbor has one that is probably 10' long.

This is what it does as it slowly slides down the roof!

Pretty wild, huh!

I've been trying to be more of a creative, "from-scratch" homemaker. I've been wanting to make my own vanilla extract for a long time now. Finally I found a place on Ebay to get the vanilla beans , called Vanilla Products USA, at a reasonable price, so I ordered them last week and got them in a few days. Yesterday I ordered more, because the day before I made up my first jar of vanilla extract! Jim got more vodka today, so I made up another 4 jars.
I watched a Youtube video with instructions on this. I really like this woman, and I can't wait to watch more of her videos!

First you cut up 6 vanilla beans per 8 oz. jar

Fill the jar with vodka--this will NOT be 8 oz. of vodka

Close jars tightly and shake a little. Store in cool dark place. I put ours in the back of our pantry--behind the cereal. (the "pantry" has doors, so it stays dark) I will shake the jars every 3 days for 5 or 6 weeks! I even marked the calendar this morning when I should shake the jars and when they'll be read! I can't wait!

I will be adding more pictures of foods we've made and things we've done in the past few months (I hope soon). I'm also wanting to change the name of my blog. But I have no idea of a creative name to give it. Still waiting for my creativity to come back! ALSO, I want to make a more craft, creative title. I don't do digital scrapbooking, so I don't know how to do it...then again, I should talk to my friend, Sunflower! She's always doing that kind of stuff on her blogs!

Until next time....

blessings, joie