Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Copycat Costco Muffin Recipe - Only 31 calories each

The fact that I found this recipe scared me at first! And not that I made them, it should scare me even more. I could eat these daily. Since my husband and I are doing a big diet right now, I thought for sure I couldn't have these at all. But I calculated everything out and for the muffins themselves, without adding chocolate chips, blueberries etc. they come out to 31 calories each!!!! Yes you read that right..... 31 CALORIES EACH!!!  Real Costco muffins are about 700 calories each. (I did make the smaller muffins - 24 per batch, not the Costco size.)
But these are a definite try for everyone!! We made Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins. Ohhhhh yummmm! You can thank me later for this!
Have fun trying new recipes with it!

Costco Copycat Muffins

1  Box cake  mix, (18 oz.)
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup Milk - I used fat free
3 eggs
1/3 cup veg. oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven for 375. Mix all ingredients well in mixing bowl. Line muffin tins with disposable cupcake cups. Scoop mixture into each muffin tin - I use a ice cream scoop to make them all about the same size. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until lightly brown.
There are many ideas on what kinds of muffins that you could make. We used a Devil Food cake mix and added chocolate chips. You could also use a white or butter mix with blueberries. There are so many ideas, red Velvet, lemon, poppy seed????? Have fun making your own!!
Mine might not look like Costco's but oh they taste just like them and so many less calories!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Clean your front Loader Washer and make your dryer dry faster

I have always had a dream of having the nice sleek front loader washer and dryers, that have an inviting feel when doing laundry.... Ok, there is nothing that has an inviting feel to do laundry, or at least I have never found. I came close though when I was doing some laundry for my mother-in-law. They had Bosch front loaders and I was helping with some laundry one day, I had washed a whole load of jeans - probably about 7-10 pairs of jeans. I went about my business and I'm not kidding, 10-15 minutes later, the load was done. WOW!! First thing through my mind was, my family of 5's laundry wouldn't take all day with these!! When I was telling my husband about them you would have thought it was the best invention since sliced bread.... to me it was close to it!! So from then on, I wanted a pair, bad!!
When we moved into our new home last month there was a regular washer and dryer that we needed to hook up. You would have thought I won the lotto when my in laws brought their washer and dryer over (they had moved and didn't need them anymore) for us to have. That is when I was excited to do laundry!!
We went through how to use them, what soap to use etc. She said to wipe the seal in the washer out about once a week and to prop the door open when not in use to prevent molding of the seal. I did this religiously! But about a month into using it the clothes were coming out smelling really bad of a mildew smell. I could not figure it out. I wiped the seal out, tried it with beach, nothing was working. So I was on a hunt. Look what I had found!!! YUCK!!!


Most of us when we wipe around the seal, it is just the inner part of the seal that we see. And yes, doing this helps to cut down on mold and the smell, but if you CAREFULLY pullback the lip of the seal you will see more mildew that you are not getting. - Or likely not getting. EWWW!! So much for clean clothes!! So I was on the hunt on how to get rid of this. I took a thin towel and filled up our laundry room sink with warm water with about a cup or two of bleach. I wiped down all of the seal a few times and got all the mildew out. - It took some scrubbing but it was worth it. I then wiped down the drum of the washer with the same rag after I rinsed it out. After it was all clean I wanted to make sure the smell was gone. I put baking soda right into the drum of the washer and turned on the washer with the hottest setting I could. I then added about 1/2 cup of vinegar to soap area. The mix of that worked amazing and got all smells out and make it very clean!!
I have since wiped out the seal with a little bit of bleach once every few days, done the baking soda and vinegar about once a week. I also think that the laundry soap I make helps to cut down on it too. - It is really easy, works great for HE machines, and costs about $5.00 to make a five gallon bucket!! Can't beat that price. (I have heard many times that people think it takes too long to make.... nope I have a batch done and ready to sit over night to cool in about 10 minutes!!) Give it a try! You will love it!
Another great trick to help you cut down on your drying time is to clean your lint filter about once every other month - or as needed. You will knock about 10 - 15  minutes per load off with this trick. I love doing it, and can't believe I didn't know about this trick before! Here is the video I made for it...
So here is the before and after on the seal... let me know if this works for you!



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Our Elf on the Shelf, Skittles

I love Christmas time! Well not the holiday crowds, the cold weather or the being super busy. But all the magic of the holidays. I love watching the kids with Santa and how they truly believe. The other day we went to our city's annual tree lighting, and Santa was there to see all the kids. My 5 year old was AMAZED by him! She kept saying, "I have never seen Santa this close outside." The twinkle in her eyes brought tears to my eyes. I loved every minute of it!
Last year my Mom bought my kids The Elf on the Shelf and they love seeing the elf move around the house and leave them little messages and notes. This year they couldn't wait to get our Christmas stuff out to have "Skittles" out. Once he was out, we read the Elf on the Shelf book to remind them that they can't touch him and what he is there to do. They were excited.
 The first morning we found him at the "drive in movies" with Barbie in her car. They were watching a Christmas movie. The girls laughed so hard!
The second day, we caught him "fishing" for goldfish crackers.
The third day Skittles decided to have a little bit of fun with them. He took the brightest red lipstick he could find, and drew on their noses so they all looked like Rudolph. Then he left a note in their bathroom with the lipstick to check out their noes.
Last night Skittles made a mess.... He took a tube of toothpaste and drew on the kids bathroom mirror. He said, "Brush your teeth." The kids thought this was great. The older ones laughed at the mess he made that Mom was going to have to clean. - Yeah that elf must not have thought that one through too much ;)
Then this morning the girls got an extra note from Skittles at their bus stop. When they got there he was holding an envelopes, each addressed to each member of our family. Inside there was a ticket to ride the "Minivan Express"(easily made in Word, I will try and attach a printable document for you soon.)  tonight. The ticket says, they have to wear their PJ's, slippers and bring a crayon in their favorite color.The ticket also says that "The Minivan Express" is not equipped with bathrooms so to please make sure you go before boarding.  It also told them to write down 3 reasons why they are blessed and 3 more reasons why they love each other. - This was to prevent any fighting in the car. Skittles figures that they will have at least one fight, but he can remind them why they love each other to maybe prevent any other arguments.
While they were at school Skittles was busy, not only cleaning the mirror from last night... but also writing up a letter from Santa and a Christmas light scavenger list that he placed in "The Minivan Express" for them to find with they load. They will work together on the scavenger list to find things like a house with all white Christmas lights, a Santa on something that is not a sleigh etc. They also must sing jingle bells, name 3 Christmas songs and find someone they know to give them hot chocolate - this is where a stop at Nana and Papa's house comes into play. At the end of the night when we are done driving around seeing Christmas lights, we will arrive back home to watch the Polar Express. Then off to bed. I thought this was a pretty fun way to break up the week and have a "night off."
I hope that Skittles can continue to come up with fun actives and messages for the kids this year. 19 days left :) then he is back up to the North Pole until next year.
If you do not have The Elf on the Shelf, it is very much worth the investment. My kids have a blast trying to find him, and reading what he writes. I would like to invest in 2 more elves so they can each have their own to pass onto their families when they get older. This is just another way to take an extra minute with your kids each day, and watch the magic in their eyes as we near Christmas.
Here is our Christmas Light Scavenger list.... have fun with yours!!
Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt
·        Used only white lights
·        Has more than one fake Christmas tree set up in their yard
·        Santa on the roof of their house
·        More than three inflatable Christmas decorations in their yard
·        A white Christmas tree
·        At least 3 candy canes in their yard
·        Santa holding a bag of toys
·        An angel singing
·        Wrapped the trunk of more than one tree in their yard with lights
·        More than two Disney characters
·        A wreath on their front door
·        Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
·        Snowman with a top hat
·        At least two decorations that move
·        Santa riding on anything except a sleigh
·        The Grinch
·        Lights that twinkle
·        Name all of Santa's reindeer
·        Sing a couple rounds of Jingle Bells
·        The names of 3 Christmas songs
·        Find someone you know to give you hot chocolate

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What to do with your leftovers from Thanksgiving!

So Thanksgiving has come and gone.... now the trees are going up, the lights are being hung and the carols are being sung, but you still have a fridge full of leftover turkey? What to do with it??? You have the cold turkey sandwiches, turkey noodle soup, and many many other ways to use it. This year though, a friend of mine posted that she was making home-made Turkey Pot pies. YUMMM! And why the heck have I never thought to make these? Well first, because maybe I thought only Marie Callender could make them! I never thought to make them at home, well duh!! So she sent me over her recipe and I was excited!! I told my hubby what we were having for dinner,  and well that is when the excitement stopped. He looked at me and said, "yeah I don't like those because of all the veggies in them." DANG!!! Ok back to the drawing board for this one.... Then it dawned on me, Meat and Potato Turkey Pot Pies for him and the normal ones for me and the kids. We were back in business!
So I made these up... Not following the directions completely. I had left over gravy and wanted to use that up and so I thinned it out with chicken broth and also used ham to fill up two of them since we didn't have enough turkey. While I was making them, I got THE LOOK.... you know they "yuck! Do I have to eat that" look!! I tell ya, making 5 people happy when you cook is a slim to none bet! But they all had to eat at least one piece, and guess what.... EVERYONE, yes you read that right, everyone went back for seconds. Not only that but my hubby took it for lunch the next day and him and the kids came home from school and work that day and ate it for a snack!!!! Holly Cow I thought... I hit this one out of the park!! Way better then cold turkey sandwiches!
Moral of the story... this will be on our dinner menu a lot more. While I was making it, I thought, those little chickens they have at the store, the rotisserie ones for about $5.00, one of those would easily make 2 more pot pies, and how cheap and easy would that be.

So here is the recipe that she sent me...

And this is what I did to make 2 pot pies...

Turkey Pot Pies
2 boxes of Pillsbury Pie Crusts
6 washed and diced up potatoes
3 stalks of celery
1/2 of red onion
About 2 cups of diced up ham
2 cups of leftover turkey diced up
3 cups of turkey gravy
1 can of chicken broth
1/3 cup of flour per pot pie

I greased up 2 pie pans and preheated the oven for 350. I then rolled out 1 pie crust and placed in the bottom of each pie pan. I then diced up the celery, onions and potatoes. In one bowl I mixed half of the potatoes, all of the onion and all of the celery, setting the remainder off to the side. Then I diced up the Turkey and the ham, mixing them up. Then I took half of turkey and ham and added them to the veggies in the bowl, tossing and mixing them well. I then added the mix to one pot pie. With the left over turkey, ham and potatoes I mixed them up and added them to the "veggie-less" pot pie. On the stove I made up the gravy and mixed it with the chicken broth. I then sprinkled 1/3 cup flour over the top of each pie. After the gravy was warmed up I added it over the top of each pot pie. Then I rolled out the remaining 2 pie crusts and covered each pie, crimping the sides together and making small slits in the top for steam to be released. I then cooked them for about 45-60 mins until the top was brown. When they were done, I let them cool and set up for about 10 mins before cutting and serving.
I really hope that your family enjoys this as much as ours did!!

Yummy English Muffin Bread

This is by far my families favorite bread! And I love to make it!! The recipe makes 4 loafs which I love because I can freeze some, give some to friends and family or like most of the time, we use them. This bread makes great sandwiches, toast, or just to have a piece of bread and butter. And lets face it, when your a mom, you don't have time to make bread daily, so 4 at once, hey I will take it!!
Not to mention it makes your house smell oh so yummo and is super easy!!

English Muffin Bread

5 1/2 cups warm water
3 package quick rise yeast
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons salt
11 cups flour, all purpose flour


Mix all ingredients together. Spoon dough into four very greased loaf pans. Let the dough rise in the pans until it reaches the top, (it takes about 20-30 mins) then pop them into the oven for 45 minutes, or until brown on top. Let rise in pans until dough reaches the top of the pans, and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. About the last 10 minutes before the bread is done, brush it with melted butter. When done, remove from oven and let it cool completely before cutting and serving.
Give it a try, I am sure you will love it!!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Turkey

One of my favorie dishes yesterday had to have been the bacon wrapped turkey. When we made this last year for the first time, I did it as more of a joke for my husband and dad. I really didn't think that the turkey would have been that good. But ohhhhh wow! The bacon seals in all the juices of the turkey, and all the drippings from the bacon drips down into the turkey meat and it is amazing! So I thought, ok well we might as well try it again this year.
When I make my turkey, in the roasting pan I always line it with onions, celery, and carrots, and maybe a lemon or two. Then I also stuff the same things into both cavitys of the turkey. I place the turkey on top of these veggies to help give it more of a taste then to just have it sittng on a rack. After it is in the pan, I then lift the skin carefully without ripping it and stuff butter mixed with minced garlic, Italian seasoning and a little bit of Johnny's seasoning. I rub down all the meat under the skin and then begin to wrap it with bacon. Once it's all covered with bacon I then pour about 2 cans of chicken broth into the pan and pop it in the oven. Once it's all done cooking, you will want to remove the bacon and skin from the turkey and let stand for a few minutes before you carve it. The turkey is oh so good!! It's super juicy and not dry at all! Give it a try!


Just a forewarning.... it makes everyone smile and then fall asleep quickly :)


Grasshopper Balls

Holly mint chocolate goodness batman!! I have never made truffles before because I always thought they would be too hard. Wow, not these. Start to finish I was done in about 30 mins. My husband thought I had slaved all day! I made these a few days before Thanksgiving. We had my Uncle, Dad, a few of my Dad's friends and our family here once they were done. So I let them all try one, well I went back into the kitchen after awhile and they were all gone, so I am guessing they were pretty good. On Thanksgiving I made the rest of the batch (I had doubled the first batch and kept the dough in the fridge.) And they were a huge hit too.
These are super gooey and soft inside and the hard chocolate on the outside holds it all together and makes them amazing! OHHHH SOOOOOO GOOOD!!!!
So you have to give these a try... 30 mins, 3 ingredients, and your a star!!

Grasshopper Balls
 1 pack of Grasshopper cookies (or thin mints when they are in "season"
1 package of cream cheese
1 pack of backers chocolate
First take your food processor (or a rolling pin and baggy) and grind the package of cookies the finest you can get them
Take your package of cream cheese and beat until smooth in your mixer. Then  add your cookies to your cream cheese and mix together. Place in fridge for at least 20 -30 mins.
Once your dough is chilled in the fridge, in a double boiler, melt your chocolate until smooth. While that is melting, take your dough and make it into balls. I tried this with a melon baler to make them all perfect and round... it didn't help though. I then went for the good old fashion way of just rolling them in my hand. it works just fine. - I let the kids do this part too and they were cracking up at the chocolate getting on their hands and laughing at each other. - They had a blast!
Once all your balls are rolled, and your chocolate is melted, take two forks, roll the ball with the forks in the chocolate and then remove with the two forks and place on wax paper. Let cool and outside chocolate harden and serve. You will completely enjoy these! I am still amazed how fast and easy they are. Have fun with these - decorate them for Christmas, roll them in mint chocolate, etc. Have fun! And enjoy!!