Friday, August 29, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms

This recipe is one I found on, and looked so stinking good I had to try it. Of course, I tweaked it to make it somewhat simpler, but the taste was still fantastic and everyone here loved it. It was called Slow-braised Beef Stew with Mushrooms, but I skipped the braising and went straight to the Stew. ;)

I put it on mashed potatoes because the photo I saw did that and I thought it looked great. I really think if you’d like it to be a stand alone stew, it would be just as good with some cooked diced potatoes and sliced carrots thrown in and served in a bowl. Yumminy!

So, let’s get cooking!

Slice the beef you’re using into strips about one inch wide.

Place in the crock pot.

If you’re using fresh sliced mushrooms, sauté in a skillet with a little butter. Set aside. I sometimes use mushrooms I’ve frozen in general recipe-sized portions.

Dice the onion finely, peel and mince the garlic, and the fresh ginger if you’re using that. I didn’t happen to have any on hand so I used dry ground ginger for this.

Wash the orange well. Using a potato peeler, peel strips of the orange peel off, then slice them thin and cut the slices to be about ½” lengths. You want about 2 tsp of it.

In a medium saucepan, place the beef broth, wine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, and orange peel. Bring to a boil and shut off.

Pour mixture over beef in the crock pot and set it to low. Cover and cook for about 5 hours, until meat is tender.

When the meat is done, remove about ¼ c liquid from the crock pot and cool. Stir in the cornstarch.

Pull the meat from the crock pot and place in a container for now. It’s time to make the gravy, and you can either try it in the crock pot (turned up high for a few minutes), stirring the broth-cornstarch mixture in with a whisk and whisking until thickened. Or you can pour the liquid into a medium saucepan on the stove. With the heat on medium under it, whisk in the broth-cornstarch mixture until thickened.

Place the beef back in the crock pot, add the mushrooms, and pour the gravy over all, stirring to mix.

Serve over mashed potatoes, which you’ll have made earlier, towards the end of the cooking of the stew. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms

4 lbs boned beef short ribs or chuck
1 Vidalia onion
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbl fresh ginger, minced
   (or 1 tsp dry ground)
1 orange
2 c beef broth
½ c dry red wine
¼ c balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 c sliced mushrooms
4-5 Tbl cornstarch

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mexican Mish Mash

This is a recipe I threw together just because I was in the mood for something Mexican-ish, and I didn’t feel like going online to find a specific recipe. And I figured what I put in is probably what many recipes have in them, so it worked for me. ;) The kids loved it and so did I, so there you go. This is a great recipe for leftover rice if you just want something a little spicy. Throw in a Tbl or more of PepperMary’s Cajun Blend to kick it up a notch, too!

So, let’s get cooking!

Dice the Vidalia onion and the green bell pepper.

Brown the hamburg with the onion and pepper. Drain and keep in the skillet.

Add the diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Spray a 9 x13” baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the cooked rice in the bottom.

Layer on the chili beans and spread the hamburg mixture evenly on top.

Finally, sprinkle on the shredded Mexican blend cheese. And bake at 350° for about 30 minutes, until bubbly and smelling so good!

Serve with sour cream and sliced jalapeños. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Mexican Mish Mash

2 c cooked rice
1 lb hamburg
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 pkt taco seasoning
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 15.5 oz cans chili beans
2 c shredded Mexican cheese blend

Monday, August 25, 2014

Slippery Sloppery Joes

Ah, Sloppy Joes, that old standby when you need something quick and easy. And while I usually have a couple cans on hand in my cupboard for those nights when things are hectic, I didn’t realize until now just how quick and easy homemade sloppy joes really are until I made them myself. I grew up on homemade ones; my mom made them all the time. Seriously, this is so easy and tastes so good, I may never buy another can of Manwich again.

So, let’s get cooking!

First dice the Vidalia onion and green pepper. Peel and mince the clove of garlic, or use a garlic press like I do when it’s time to add it.

In a skillet, sauté the hamburg, onion, pepper, and minced garlic, until hamburg is browned. Drain liquid out as much as you can.

Add the ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Extra points if you know how to pronounce that correctly. ;)

Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When done, serve on hamburger buns. We love this with a slice of cheese. Word of advice: put the cheese on the bottom bun, then add the Slippery Sloppery Joe mixture. ;)

Enjoy! ~TMMF

Slippery Sloppery Joes

2 lb hamburg
1 med. Vidalia onion
1 med. green pepper
1 huge clove garlic
1 ½ c ketchup
1 Tbl brown sugar
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Laundry Soap and Reusable Fabric Softener Sheets

Well, here are two recipes that a lot of people have asked me about over the years, so I thought I’d share them with you. Actually, the Laundry Soap I’ve been using for many years, but the Reusable Fabric Softener Sheets I’ve only been using for a few months.

The reason I started using homemade products like these is because as you must know, the store bought versions get so expensive, even if you buy a generic brand product from wholesale stores. As soon as I started using the laundry soap and saw how great it works, I knew I’d never go back to store bought. The savings are phenomenal, and it cleans the clothes. It also has a light pleasant lemony scent.

Let me say that there are many different recipes out there for both of these, but these are the ones I tried and use, and they work just fine. I’m going to try some of the other recipes then do an updated post on what I’ve discovered, comparing them, so be on the look out for that. But if you’d like to at least get started with making your own, give these a try. I’ve noticed that some of the other recipes do use some or all of the same ingredients, so if you decide further down the line that you’d like to try a different recipe, you won’t be out a bunch of money spent on these ingredients.

So, let’s get…cooking? ;)

For the Laundry Soap, find yourself a container big enough to hold at least 2 gallons of water. I started making mine in double batches, and I had a big very sturdy bucket with handle and cover from my store bought detergent days. I rinsed it out and have been using that all these years. I think my bucket is a 5-gallon, so the double batch holds 4 gallons of soap just fine. I also don’t even measure the water anymore; I know where the top of the finished Laundry Soap comes to in my bucket, and I just make sure that I add enough water to reach that mark.

First, set 6 cups of water on to heat while you grate the Fels Naptha bar soap. Some people like to get a pot, grater, spoon, etc to use solely for these purposes; I just use what I use for cooking and wash them very well afterwards. However, I do have a plastic slotted spoon that I only use for the soap.

The water doesn’t have to boil, but when the water is very hot, add the grated Fels Naptha and stir until it dissolves. Add the washing soda and Borax and stir until they dissolve, which should take less time than the bar soap. Be careful not to have the heat up too high, as it can bubble up and over very quickly when you add the other 2 ingredients. Also, stay with it and stir; it only takes a couple of minutes until it’s ready.

When fully dissolved, pour the mixture into your ready container or bucket. Add 4 cups of hot water from the tap and stir. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups more water (can be cold or room temperature) and stir well. Let the soap sit for 24 hours, stirring every so often.

The soap may have a jelly-ish texture, and that’s the way it is. You can stir it before you use it if you’d like, it does dissolve in the wash, even with cold water, which is all we use with our washer. This Laundry Soap doesn’t clog the washer, nor should it irritate the skin. It doesn’t have a bunch of suds; the ingredients in the soap are what clean, not suds. Use ½ cup for each load of laundry.

Now, on to the Reusable Fabric Softener Sheets. Find a container big enough to hold 3 cups of liquid plus 4 whole sponges. I ended up buying a set of 3 containers with lids at Walmart for under $3.00 and kept the other two for use in the kitchen.

I’ve heard that some people have made this using washcloths; you can get a 12-pack of them at Walmart for about $3.00. I actually had trouble finding a package of plain ordinary sponges without some scrubby material attached to one side, until I happened upon a 4-pack in CVS pharmacy for $1.29. Seriously, I looked at Walmart, Kroger, and several dollar stores without success. Thank you CVS!

So, making the Reusable Fabric Softener Sheets is very difficult, quite complex. Get ready for it…..ready…are you ready?? Measure out 1 ½ c of your favorite fabric softener and pour into the container. Then add 1 ½ c water, and…….STIR!!!!! ;)

Okay, you may need a break right about now, to gather up your strength again for the next step. Do what you need to, but when you feel rested and ready to move on….cut the sponges in half. ;)

Add the sponges (or the uncut washcloths) to the liquid in the container. They’re ready to use as soon as they soak up the liquid.

Now, I have to tell you about these. The original recipe I saw said to use 1 c fabric softener and 2 c water. I did do that for my first batch, but they were very watery and didn’t really make a difference in my laundry. The original recipe also said to squeeze out the excess liquid before tossing one of the half-sponges into the dryer. No, don’t do that. Especially if you want to actually have clothes that are a little softer, static free, and have a bit of a scent. If you use the washcloths, I might give a little squeeze so as not to drip, though.

I found that these worked better when I adjusted the amounts of softener and water, and I’m still saving money. When you take the load out of the dryer, just toss the used sponge back into the container. It’s so easy, and the money I’m saving is a big help to my family. I hope you like these recipes and that they benefit your family as they have mine. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha bar soap
½ c washing soda
½ c Borax

Reusable Fabric Softener Sheets

4 plain sponges
1 ½ c your favorite fabric softener
1 ½ c water