Chow Mein

This year, I’ve tried a new recipe every week. We began meal planning, and oh man. We save so much $$ and so much time and we eat so much better. Some weeks, I don’t have time to make anything new…others, like this week, we’ll try three new recipes. It all evens out in the end. Some day, I’ll get around to sharing all those recipes. Most of them are good.

But, Oh. Em. Gee.

Every once and while you stumble upon a recipe…well that blows your hair back. Changes your life. Makes you happy. Gives you reason to believe that the world has some good in it. Makes you say obscenely dramatic statements about how good it is…all because you are on a high (nutritionally that’s probably accurate).

This is one of those recipes. Who freaking new that making delicious chow mein (the original recipe calls it a Panda Express knockoff) was so freaking easy and so freaking quick and so freaking easy. And I should mention it’s really freaking easy.

007009012

I just…I can’t…the taste….sigh. Just make it.

Panda Express Chow Mein Copycat

Yields 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • (Homespun Haley addition: 1 Tablespoon of toasted sesame oil – takes a slight edge off of the soy sauce…though totally not necessary.)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and white pepper; set aside.
  • In a large pot of boiling water, add Yaki-Soba until loosened, about 1-2 minutes; drain well.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and celery, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cabbage until heated through, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in Yaki-Soba and soy sauce mixture until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTES

*Yaki-Soba is ramen-style noodles and can be found in the refrigerated aisle of your local grocery store.

simple non-toxic floor cleaner

Cleaning is not my favorite thing in the world. Really it’s something that I’ve fought for a long time. Stupid adult responsibility. While we’ve all got different standards of cleanliness, we all have to do it. I mean eventually you have to do laundry. Eventually you have to sweep. Eventually you have to clean dishes. I have all sorts of tricks up my sleeve to making cleaning “fun”. I’m motivated by activities that involve multiples senses. I like to turn on an audiobook, light a good smelling candle, have a snack in a bowl that I can grab every time I complete something, or try to get my space as bright as possible. Doing at least one of those things helps motivate me to clean.

Recently though I’ve gotten more interested in cleaning techniques, products and tricks. Often I look up new ways to clean whatever it is, which makes the whole process more enjoyable. Mopping for example. I’ve always used some chemically floor cleaner. About 3 times a year, I dump some blue super chemically smelling stuff in a bucket and mop up the floor.

I decided to try something new with the whole floor cleaning business. I found a non-toxic formula that had great feedback online and gave it a go.

IMG_8888Mix one gallon of hot water with 1/2 cup white vinegar, 2 Tbs baking soda and a few drops of your favorite dish soap.

It’s that simple. You can use it on your kitchen floor and it’s great for your wood floors. After a good sweep and dust mop, I was actually excited to clean. The moment I started mopping I could tell the difference. First off it smelled amazing and fresh. Secondly, it actually got marks off the floor much more easily than my chemically store bought stuff.

Here are some “after” photos…well more like “during” photos. I had recently finished mopping and while the floors are still shiny-wet in these photos, I’m amazed at how they’ve retained a nice reflection in them after drying.

IMG_8893

IMG_8896 IMG_8897But I don’t know why I felt it necessary to mop the floor this particular day. Especially since we’re in a muddy after-snow transition, and without any type of entryway for said muddy stuff the floors quickly got some nice spots on them. But hey you can’t stop living. IMG_8887Maybe I’ll tell you about my laundry tricks someday. It’s seriously a little wacky. I just like trying new things to keep it interesting, which makes my laundry methods a bit intense.

And here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure. Gideon, on nicely laundered bedding. IMG_8919

valentines happy mail – 13 ounces or less

I’ve been so inspired by a new trend called “13 ounces or less“. It’s simply a reminder that you can mail just about anything that weighs 13 ounces or less. Stick stamps and an address on anything…and brighten someones day. I decided to brighten the day of three of my favorite people in the world. Giana, Samuel and Owen. My niece and two nephews. I’ve got another niece Sayla, and while she is one of my top favorite people, she is also 2 month old. Soooo I don’t think she’d appreciate happy mail like the others.

First I knew right away that valentine’s day was going to be my opportunity to mail some sweet goodness. Secondly, I chose to use some small Odwalla bottles to hold all the goodies. A pleasant decision since it required me to drink tons of it. So I drank those up and washed them out.

Next I filled them with all sorts of goodies from the dollar tree. Stickers, mini flashlights, candy hearts, erasers, chap stick, candy necklaces, etc. I even crammed some toy cars and other weird little things in there like hair clips and mini locks with a key. photo (12)

One thing I read over and over again when reading about sending “happy mail”, was to make sure the address and return address were clear. After getting all the necessary information on them I decorated them with washi-tap and fun colored sharpies, sealing the whole thing with mailing tape to prevent the labels from smearing or falling off.

IMG_8623

I slapped stamps onto them, and viola!!!
photo 1

Who wouldn’t love getting this in the mail!?

(You can take your item into the post office, or you can calculate it’s price if you know the weight online here. You should select the package option and enter the ounces. Then check the “first class mail and other options” sections – the first class parcel mail will be your price)

By the way…look at the fun stamps they are selling right now at the post office! How awesome are those for little tykes?!

photo 1 (2)photo 2 (2)

Happy mailing!

simple homemade berry ice cream

Setting out for a long walk this afternoon, I knew it was going to be cold. But the sun rays were beaming through the windows and I figured, “Meh…how bad can it be?”. Answer: real bad. The wind caused tears to stream down my face and they subsequently froze to my cheeks (which is actually pretty uncomfortable when you have frozen stubby fingers trying to wipe them off), my ears started stinging and every time I inhaled my lungs burned. To top it all off I think I got a sunburn. Ugh. This is not Portland weather. The sun is nice…but it’s just a damn tease. There’s a reason I live closer to this ocean and not the Atlantic…I like having moisture content in my winter-air.

IMG_8135

Well anyway when I got home…I ate ice cream. I knnnooowww…seems weird. But my affinity for ice cream runs deeper than Crater Lake. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside. And lucky for me, I was finally able to save for the Kitchenaid ice cream maker I’ve been wanting since what feels like the beginning of time. I’ve made about five different kinds of ice cream, but so far my favorite is a variation of a simple mix and freeze recipe. I like the custard type ice creams that require eggs and cooking it all up before hand, but honestly that tasted too…store bought. It’s rich and creamy but didn’t remind me of homemade ice cream. It’s hard to explain. This strawberry recipe has been my favorite by far and it was fun to pull August-picked berries out of the freezer to use up.

IMG_8132 IMG_8133 IMG_8137

Maybe I’ll get to enjoy some more of this when it snows this weekend, right meteorologists!!??

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup half and half

2 cups frozen strawberries (or other berry perhaps?)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Puree berries in a blender or frozen food processor. Combine all ingredients; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to it’s instructions. Should make about 1-1 1/2 quarts.

The vanilla variation: skip the strawberries and increase the half and half to 2 cups total.

Birthdays are for celebrating…with Apple Fritter Waffles & Caramel Sauce.

My hubs turned 31 a couple of weeks ago. He loves food, football, and me. So for his birthday he got to watch football, eat food, and be in my presence. Happy birthday to him.

Specifically, he loves waffles. Waffles all day long…until the day he dies. LOVES them. Each year for his birthday I make said favorite dish along with strawberries and whip cream, all from scratch. But we’ve decided on a new tradition. We’re going to continue to make waffles, but each year will be a new type of waffle. Hence this spectacular Apple Fritter Waffle recipe.

IMG_5734

Really…it’s so good. I can’t even express how pissed I was that it was so good. I couldn’t stop eating them. Like a toasted apple pie with the best caramel topping. Uuuuggghhh…I’m still paying for it. You get some seriously delicious chunks of warm apple with bursts of cinnamon, all wrapped up in soft, chewy waffle dough. What’s not to love!?

IMG_5719 IMG_5726 IMG_5730 IMG_5734

Apple Fritter Waffles with Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 c apples, diced small
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c cream or whole milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  • Saute’ apples in butter in a large saute’ pan 3 to 5 minutes until heated through but still firm. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl combine eggs, milk and oil.
  • Heat waffle baker.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients, add apples and stir until combined. Do not stir too much.
  • Spray waffle baker with non-stick spray.
  • Ladle batter onto waffle baker being careful not to over fill.
  • Check your waffle every couple minutes for doneness.
  • Serve with warm caramel sauce.

For caramel sauce:

Melt butter and sugar over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir occasionally. Allow mixture to simmer until it starts to bubble and look foamy. Cook 3 to 5 minutes. CAREFULLY, stir in milk, salt and vanilla. Remove from heat. Serve with hot waffles.

Notes: Keep waffles crisp by placing on a wire rack in a 200 degree oven until the entire batch is cooked.

Thank me later…after you’re done scarfing this down.

Skinny Balsamic and Dijon Dressing

I really don’t know how to make you eat this. I can beg…but at the end of the day, this is just a silly little blog post, that won’t impact you on any large level I assume. But in case any of you are listening and taking me seriously (which I know I make it hard to do), please. Please make this. Please. Like pretty please. 
IMG_5461 IMG_5456 IMG_5464IMG_5469
If you were to chug the whole lot (which is not recommended), 160 calories and 11 g protein. Compared to another popular creamy dressing, Newman’s Own Caesar dressing, 825 calories and 5.5 g protein. Pretty much anything that says creamy = lots of calories in exchange for lower nutrition in comparison to more health-conscious dressings like this. Might I suggest you pour this over some romaine and top with roasted unsalted sunflower seeds? Don’t mind if I do.

Creamy (& skinny) Balsamic Dressing

5 oz. silken tofu

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 tsp. warm honey

Place all ingredients on a food processor, chopper, or immersion blender. Add 1/4 cup water, (I forgot to do this…and it was just fine!) and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if desired (I didn’t…my Dijon added enough kick).

SO GOOD.

Please. I’m begging.

Cleaning your oven…with magic! (AKA baking soda and dryer sheets)

I don’t think I’ve ever posted about cleaning anything. The exception being this Pinterest Fail. Really, I’m not that good at cleaning and I don’t keep things clean so why would you want to hear from me about it? Recently I’ve been trying to be more “responsible” and annoying stuff like that. It seems to me, taking care of our things (AKA cleaning them) is responsible because, A. they last longer, which prevents us from buying more crap, B. a clean home-environment is a healthier and more pleasant place to exist and C. you’re allowing your space to be welcoming and open to others. Not that you can’t have people over when your place is trashy, but really, who wants someone to come into their home and be distracted by nastiness? I’m not talking immaculate level cleaning here folks. I’m talking basic upkeep. I SUCK at it. So I have to talk myself into all these reasons why it’s good for me to put down Candy Crush and/or turn off my sewing machine to sweep, wash the comforter or clean the oven.

So in my quest to clean the oven, which I was dreading, I went to the store and was a little worried about the products I saw there. They were either too chemically, too expensive or too something. I don’t know what that last one is, but I like listing in thirds.

Google. ALWAYS the solution. I googled, “Easy and safe way to clean your oven”. And BAM! I stumbled upon two incredibly cheap ($3 for me) and sorta easy way to clean your oven. This may not be news to some of you cleaning veterans out there, but baking soda is your best friend. Since this discovery yesterday I have already used it to clean out my kitchen drains and treat a mosquito bite. Marissa, at FinelyGround.net, shows you how this miracle product can clean ovens no problem.

At first I thought to myself, there is no way that just baking soda and water will clean my oven. NO WAY. Well, it’s a freaking Christmas miracle, cause it totally works. Still takes some elbow grease, but that comes with the task. You basically spritz your oven with water, sprinkle baking soda and go to town with a hard bristle brush. Wipe clean, and keep hitting the worst areas until it meets your standards. I went out and bought a new box of baking soda and used almost the whole thing. I found that a baking soda paste worked really well. I used a pan scraper to easily scrape off the worst of it, after baking soda had sat on it for a while. (Some let baking soda sit overnight…I don’t have that type of patience).

My before pictures turned out blurry somehow, but I promise you there was some pretty nasty, pretty burnt-on grossness. It was hard to see through the window. Here is an after shot:

IMG_5300Now before you dive into oven cleaning, I found this other seriously amazing trick to cleaning your oven racks. Now you might be thinking, “Who cares about clean oven racks?”. Before I had a clean oven I can tell you that I sure didn’t. After you have a clean oven the dirty racks just make it look like you’ve never cleaned…which is discouraging…which for me is bad cleaning mojo. If I feel like all the work I did was for naught, I’ll just stop and not clean again until 2015. This method of cleaning felt like an experiment, making the whole process, well fun. Jill, over at OnegoodthingbyJilee.com, explains that there are anti-static agents in dryer sheets that weaken the bond between the food and the pan(s) while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food. So she filled her tub with hot water, some dish soap for good measure (1/4 cup), 6 dryer sheets (I did a few more), and let them soak for 18 hours. I only let mine soak for about 4 hours. Best would be overnight I assume.

034You can kinda see the baked on grossness here. My jaw dropped when I checked on these bad-boys a few hours later. I used a dryer sheet to scrub away at the gunk…it just floated off. So much to my surprise that I hollered, “Matt! Get in here and look at this!”.

Now, there were still parts that didn’t come off easily, but I can tell if I took my pan scraper to ’em they would come off no problem, or if I let it all soak longer. I stopped with about 75% gunk removed. Which pleased me and looks clean in my oven.

SO BOOYEAH! Look at me, being all adult and taking care of things. Got any tricks I should know about?