Monday, February 25, 2013

Homemade Baby Wash

I LOVE the idea of chemical free beauty products. But I worked in the beauty industry for many years and know that, without those chemicals we are so used to...It is hard to still feel satisfied with the body products you make at home or buy from an all natural grocer.

I have some favorites from trying different things from the amazing section of beauty products @ Wholefoods. They will put you in the poorhouse.

Here is a frugal way to make baby wash without using many ingredients. This filled up the extra large bottle of calming wash that I reused and it hardly made a dent in the products I purchased to make it.

This recipe filled a 32oz bottle of baby wash

You Need:
5 Tablespoons Dr Bronners Baby Mild Castile Soap
1 Bag of Chamomile tea- Brewed
2-4 Drops Tea Tree Oil with Lavender
Small Spouted Funnel

1.Take your Chamomile tea and funnel it into a container of your choice
2. Add Dr Bronners Baby Mild Soap
3. Add Essential Oils
4. Fill the rest with water
(Fill slowly, stopping when you see bubbles rising so that your soap doesn't spill over.
5. Shake it up and write a little label :P

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Amazing Meatloaf

I really wanted to name this "the best meatloaf in the universe" but I thought that would be a little obnoxious...

BUT..It is an amazing recipe and the first meat loaf I've ever made that my husband ate.every.single bite. and asked for seconds, even thirds!

This recipe almost didn't happen tonight,  while I was in the store this afternoon I was THAT mom with the screaming, tantruming 2 year old.

It was pretty bad, and almost made me too exhausted to cook.

But after some naps and a snack, the day started looking up.

Meatloaf is so versatile and great for so many reasons...
It's super economical, feeds a lot, you can jam pack it with vegetables and meat loving hubbies will aprove.

Even using the butcher's counter ground sirloin and pork, it was under $6.00 for 1lb of meat at Whole Foods.

If you keep a well stocked pantry the extra ingredients for this recipe is minimal.

For the base of the meatloaf you need:
1/2 lb ground beef (80/20 is best)
1/2 lb ground pork
1 large carrot or 7 pretrimmed (diced)
1/2 onion (diced)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
1 or 2 drops of Franks Red Hot
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Start by cutting up your veggies. In a large pot add 1 tablespoon of butter or canola oil and soften your carrot piece for about 2 minutes.
Add in your onions and cook until they start becoming transparent and the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from the pot and set aside.

In a large bowl, break up the ground beef and pork, add in one egg and 1/4 cup of butter milk and your softened vegetables

Now add in your minced garlic, celery salt, paprika, franks,mustard powder, garlic powder and onion powder.

Form into a loaf and set in a baking dish and preheat the oven to 375

In the mean time start on your gravy/basting liquids
You need:
1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup creamy tomato soup
the other half of your onion, roughly chopped
a few drops worchestershire 
pepper to taste

combine all ingredients in the pot where you previously softened the veggies and bring to a simmer, stirring to get those buttery bits of veggies incorporated.

Pour it right over your meatloaf and set it in the oven, uncovered for 20 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. 
At 20 minutes your meatloaf will be nicely browned on top. Here, you can bast once more and cook another 5 minutes.

Flip over your meatloaf and bast the exposed side. If you are a perfectionist you can reshape the top with a spoon so that it doesn't look flat. Or just leave it, who cares.

Cook another 20 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so. At the first basting interval, thicken up your gravy by slowly incorporating 1 tablespoon flour and whisking until smooth with a fork.
Cook until nice and golden brown and sauce underneath has thickened and veggies become tender.(yes of course I added some whole carrots to mine)

Take it out of the oven and slice. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and ENJOY!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Bread baking is a great way to save money and elimated unwanted ingredients like fillers and chemicals.

Check out my guest post over at Coping with Frugality today for the recipe!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Friendly Fondue

My dad makes some amazing fondue.

He has been making it forever in a very grown up cheese lovers kind of way. With Kirsch, Gruyere, Emmentaler and good wine. Those are some strong taste combinations and if you have a choosey toddler or a hubby who isn't a fancy cheese kind of guy, its not going to go over very well.

Ive been dying to fondue at home but unless I wanted to sit there by myself with a pound of cheese, I needed to doctor it up just a bit, especially the part with an open flame around a nosey toddler.

Here is a fun, easy and family friendly version. There's a bit ofi Brandy in the recipe (That I had left over from my date night worthy Coq Au Vin). It really balances out the flavors of the cheeses nicely but if you rather use a little sherry cooking wine( very little alcohol content) please do so.

It starts in a small pot but then is transferred to your crockpot. Your fondue stays consistently melty and creamy and there is no flames for toddlers to reach for. Oh and you get to sneak in lots of veggies,It's a win win!

Emmentaler is definitely a necessary cheese for fondue but by combining it with a light cheddar, you are creating a really nice balance of strong and mild cheese flavors. You are also cutting costs just pinch as well.

I am all about making delicious meals that feel like they are from an expensive restaurant without the hefty price tag...

Brandy is a great bar staple and lasts forever. At about $15 for a bottle it was worth it for us. But if you aren't a big drinker and don't incorporate liquor into your cooking, skip it. Cooking wine at your local super market will run you $3-5.

For .5 lbs of Emmentaler the cost was around $5.00 and the light cheddar was on sale at my local Sprouts Market and I bought almost an entire pound for less than $3.00 and since you only need a half pound for this recipe that's $1.50!

And as for the rest of the ingredients, lemon juice and garlic...I'm sure you've already got those in your fridge, and if not...1 lemon and 1 head of garlic is less than $2.00

Long story short, if you don't count the cost of the Brandy, you are making a fun and fancy dish for $8.50 plus the cost of some veggies and bread,that would cost you $80-100 in a fondue restaurant.

How awesome is that?

I made the crusty baguette you see here, that's even more of a savings!

On to the recipe:

1 clove of garlic
Roughly 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup brandy or cooking sherry
1/2 emmentaler cheese
1/2 mild cheddar cheese
A sprinkle of corn starch
Take your blocks of cheese and roll them around in the corn starch on all sides. Set aside

Peel your garlic and rub the pot up the sides and across the bottom until you see garlicky residue on your pot.
You need just enough lemon juice to coat the bottom of your measuring cup, and then fill up to the 1/2 cup line with brandy and pour into your pot.
In the mean time, shred your cheese, and add to the pot on low heat, it begins to melt almost instantaneously.

For a perfectly smooth fondue, it takes about 15 minutes. You can see the progression below:

The First 5 minutes...

About 10 minutes...(add some seasoning here, like Cayenne or Paprika for some zest)

Here it is at 15 minutes...
Your ready to pour it into your crock pot, on the "keep warm" setting, it will bubble up from being poured into a heated pot, just keep stirring until it settles

I served with some yummy veggies and some whole wheat pita, and that baguette I mentioned earlier.

Then the hubby came and said..."NO way I'm fonduing without MEAT- "
He proceeded to grill up some sausage, OK now its man-friendly too!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Coq Au Vin...With a Twist!

I'm sure we've all seen Julia Childs in action... Amazing

Please don't let the title scare you away, this is probably the easiest coq au vin recipe you will ever read. This post has lots of photos, and it's going to be easy I promise.


With Valentines day coming up and the Grammy's tomorrow, its about that time where you want to go and get those fancy ingredients, take a little extra time and effort and really whip up something phenomenal. Weither for that pre-show party you are hosting or a romantic dinner for two.

Did I tell you there is bacon in it yet? Has your hubby ever said no to bacon? probably not.

 Early this morning when little munchkin took his morning nap the hubby stayed home and I went to the market with my mini-me, in her heart shaped valentine sunglasses and jean jacket. Every single person she met eyes with stopped me in my tracks to chat with her.
Movie star in training I tell you.

There are some items that you may not have that are not the usual pantry staples, unless you are pretty darn fancy!

1. A deep red wine, Chianti, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon(never buy a wine to cook with that isn't good enough to drink- I bought the Menage a Trois, California Red..

2. Merlot infused salt, not a necessity but the round, full bodied flavor it adds to the dish is pretty substantial, Try a Colorado local, Old Town Spice Shop

3. Brandy. After many tries googling "best value brandy" with no results, I ventured to a local shop and was told that VSOP means something of importance. In this recipe I used St Remy Authentic

From what I could tell, unless you ventured into cognac, which has a hefty price tag, you are looking at around $15. Which is pretty reasonable.

So without further adieu, Coq Au Vin:

Your first step is just softening and flavoring those vegetables, you will need:

2 cups Julienned carrots
1 Small onion
1 Shallot
1 Cremini mushroom
1 Roma tomato, seeded and rinsed of all juices
1 Clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons good Olive Oil
1 tablespoon "Vintage Merlot Salt"
Lots of black pepper. 

Heat a large saute pan with your olive oil on medium-high heat and throw in your vegetables, season with salt and lots of pepper.(those purple specks is the merlot infused salt, pretty nice)
Cook until until onions become translucent and carrots soften, about 6-8 minutes..Add in tomato and garlic and cook another 5 minutes.
When your veggies are nice and soft, pour 1/3 cup of Brandy and lower the heat to medium low
Slowly pour Brandy over your vegetables and turn your heat back up to medium high, saute until most of the liquor has burned off and veggies are beginning to brown.

In the next step you are going to braise the veggies and create your marinade and sauce for the chicken breast.

You need:
2 cups Chicken broth
1 cup Red wine (see above)
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 280degrees and Transfer all those yummy veggies into a dutch oven or other heavy bottom pot and add in chicken broth, merlot salt, pepper, rosemary and bay leaf.
Bring to a rolling boil on medium heat and add in 1 cup of red wine . 
Cover and cook in the oven for 40 minutes.

Take a nap, clean the kitchen, watch the Real Housewives...Rest up because you've got 2 more steps to go :)


Now you are ready to marinate! 
You need:
Half of your delicious braising liquid
2 Chicken breasts
A bowl
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

Clean two chicken breasts and split up your braising liquid, half go into a large bowl or ziploc bag and the other half can stay in your pot for now.

To the bowl, add in 2 or 3 ice cubes to cool your mixture and marinate your chicken for 2-5 hours.
When your chicken is just about done marinating, soften your butter by lightly mashing it with a fork and add in your flour until it becomes a paste.

Turn your pot back on to low heat and add in your butter/flour paste and whisk until combined. Cook on low for about 30 minutes.

When your chicken has finished marinating and your ready to eat ( your house will smell so good you are going to be STARVING!)

Take your chicken and wrap it in a nice thick piece of bacon, sticking a toothpick diagonally to hold it in place.

I had every intention of using our outdoor grill but it just decided to snow right in the middle of my dinner masterpiece.   Grill pan it is!

Heat 1 pat of butter and 1 tablespoon oil on High heat
Add in your bacon wrapped chicken and cook until nice and charred, about 8-10 minutes per side. 

Pour your "au vin" portion over the "coq" and enjoy a romantic meal for two- OR 4, and turn around and see this!
My little man working on a green bean, after a whole avocado.