Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tater Tot Casserole

I got this one from a friend and it has since become a family favorite!  It's so simple to make and tastes yummy!!

1 package ground beef or turkey (about 1.5 pounds) season if you want , we use ground black pepper.  
1 can green beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheese (whatever is in the fridge..which for us, is usually Colby Jack)
1/2 cup French's french fried onions (original or cheddar flavor)
Tater tots

Cook meat and drain.
In a bowl mix meat, green beans, corn, cream of mushroom soup, french fried onions, and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Spread evenly in a greased 8x8 pan.
Sprinkle remainder of cheese evenly over the top.
Cover entire casserole with tater tots.
Cook according to tater tot instructions.

My family likes a lot of tots, so sometimes I do duel layers.  It just depends on how many I have!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The many uses of Vinegar!

Vinegar. We use a vinegar.  Everything from an all-purpose cleaner, to a substitute for Jet Dry, to use in the laundry.  And since I like to use my spray bottle A LOT, it means we go through a fair amount of vinegar. Costco has Heinz Vinegar for $3.76 for a 1.32 gallon jug - and that price makes it much cheaper than store-brand name vinegar.  But I'm sure you want to know all of the uses for this amazing liquid!  One thing I will tell you.  DO NOT USE VINEGAR ON GRANITE, or any other type of natural stone including marble, travertine etc!!!  Ok, now that I've said it, I'm sure you're wondering why. Vinegar is a weak acid. The acid interacts with the granite and turns it dull. Over time, the vinegar will etch the surface of the granite, allowing stains to penetrate the rock.

My husband hates it when I clean with vinegar, he says the house smells like a salad.  But the vapors do evaporate shortly after it has dried.  Best yet, I can clean and not have an asthma attack.  So go to the Dollar Store and buy a ton of spray bottles and enjoy cleaning the way I clean my house!

All-purpose cleaner: 2 parts vinegar, 1 part water.

Steam Mop:  Every once in a while, I add 1 part vinegar to my steam mop.  Helps to clean out the mop incase of any mineral buildup.

Dishwasher:  There are many ways to use vinegar in the dishwasher!  My favorite being in place of the spot free rinse!  It says in the manual of most dishwashers not to use vinegar every time, but I've been using it in place of that expensive blue spot remover for over 5 years and never had any problems.  

Also, instead of buying the dishwasher cleaner, just run your dishwasher with a dishwasher-safe cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher. Using the hottest water available, run the dishwasher through a cycle – except for the cup of vinegar, the dishwasher needs to be empty. After using the vinegar to sanitize the inside of the dishwasher, sprinkle a cupful of baking soda around the bottom of the tub and run it through a short but complete cycle using the hottest water. The baking soda will help freshen the smell of the dishwasher as well as brighten up the look of the inside of your appliance by removing stains.  **Remember:  Do NOT run the baking soda and the vinegar at the same time, it will cause a bubble explosion and you will have a mess.  

Pee stains on carpet (presumably from pets):  Blot up the initial stain, flush it with water, then apply equal parts vinegar and cool water. Blot it all up, rinse, and let dry. This will eliminate odors and stains.

Hard water stains and mineral deposits: Allow a cloth soaked in vinegar to sit on a hard water stain (for example behind your faucet) or mineral deposit for a few hours. Wipe clean.  Or fill a baggie with vinegar and rubber band to your shower head, soak for a few hours, wipe clean then the hard water will be gone!

Appliance cleaning: Clean your coffee maker or laundry machine by running vinegar through it, followed by water. This reduces soap buildup and keeps everything in working order.

Remove labels from glass jars: Saturate the labeled area in vinegar and scrape the stickiness right off.

Dirty pot bottoms and cooking utensils: Fill the pot with enough water to cover the stain, add 1 cup of vinegar, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Let cool, then scrub the stains off. While you're at it, put your stainless steel cooking utensils in the pot to get them sparkly clean too.

Coffee stains on china: Use a mixture of salt and vinegar to clean coffee stains from china.

Fruit/Veggie maintenance:

Cutting boards: Wooden cutting boards are great, except they can be a hothouse for bacteria (especially if grooves have been cut into the board with use). Disinfect it regularly with vinegar to keep it (and your food) clean.

Kill grass and weeds: Pour or spray full strength vinegar on grass or weeds poking through your driveway or rearing their heads in other unsavory places.

Kill soap scum: Wiping a scummy area with vinegar and rinsing with water will do as good a job as any at attacking your bathroom shower grime. If the scum is particularly stubborn, scrub with baking soda (a great natural abrasive) after wiping with vinegar. Rinse with water.

Hair rinse:  vinegar neutralizes the alkali left by shampoos.

Cloth Diapers/All Laundry:   add a cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle, it will help balance the pH and remove any buildup.

Easter Eggs:   Add 1 tsp of vinegar (for every 1 cup - ish of water.  Adding vinegar to your easter egg colors will make colors brighter.

I can go on and on about the uses of vinegar, and maybe I'll continue this post at a later date

Who knew that vinegar could do so much? It serves a purpose in just about every room of the house, and there are dozens of household products that vinegar can replace.  It's cheaper, better for the environment, and better for your health and home (in eliminating unnecessary chemicals).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Masterpieces at Bath Time...a failure

Trying to find things for my 3 year old to do while I'm stuck on bed rest is always a challenge. He is one of those strange little boys that doesn't like to get his hands dirty. But today, Grandma offered to give him a bath, so I thought we'd try the homemade bath paints. That way he can get dirty, but instantly get clean again! Using ingredients I have in the house we made only two colors today, blue and yellow. Good thing we did, the original recipe called for what is listed below....

What you need:
1T cornstarch
1/8c. Baby shampoo
2-3 drops food color
1T water

Using this as my guideline, the paint was WAY too runny. It didn't even paint the wall! So we added 1T more of the cornstarch & it still wasn't thick enough. We ended up with 3T of cornstarch, which made it better, but what I am thinking for next time is omitting the water, and adding an equivalent amount of baby shampoo to the cornstarch. It was just too runny. The most fun of his bath was he loved making green and having his water turn green in the process. He had fun, even though he wasn't able to "paint" the tub.

I'll repost once we figure out a good balance.  I've seen the colored shaving cream paint too, but since shaving cream is rather expensive and we don't use it in our house, it's pointless for us to buy any.

You can see the yellow "paint" on the wall, but the blue was just too runny.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce

I'm a sucker for Spaghetti.  My mom has alway's made a mean sauce.  She doesn''t really work off a recipe, but I asked for one and she gave me the basics.  She still likes her's with ground beef, I prefer ground turkey.  The turkey does give it a bit of a different taste, but it doesn't bother me.

What you need:
1 LB Ground Beef
1 Large Can Tomato Sauce
1 packet of spaghetti seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp onion powder or onion salt

Brown beef in pan until no pink, drain.  Add Salt, pepper, onion powder, tomato sauce & Packet seasoning.  Simmer 30 minutes.

I think it's best the next day, but that's just me!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Everyone loves Goulash!!

To serve 6

1 lb-or a bit more ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper or mushrooms or both
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large can tomato sauce, sometimes if I use too much macaroni, I need another medium can or medium can diced tomato
Elbow macaroni-use amount suggested on package for the number of servings you want - cook before adding

Brown the beef and the onion- seasoned with s/p
Add tomato sauce and green pepper
Add cooked macaroni-if you plan to bake it only cook macaroni about half of the time suggested

Either continue to cook on stove until ready to serve or freeze foe later.

If you plan to bake it, bake 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until baked down.  If you do this, be sure not to cook it dry or you will have to add more tomato sauce.