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!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Wash Potatoes

On Thanksgiving we had 10 people total, since I think that I have to make extra food every time, we ended up with enough food to probably feed 30 + people. I made 15 lbs of potatoes, a 20 lbs turkey, and a 16 lbs ham and tons of other things. (Make sure you check out the before and after pictures below... not much changed, though we were all so stuffed after we couldn't eat dessert.)
But when I saw this the other day, I had to try it. I saw that you take the potatoes that you are going to use and put them in the dishwasher and put them on rinse. I thought if this works, thank goodness because I hate washing potatoes. So I gave it a try for thanksgiving... and it did great!! Just remember not to have it on hot water, just on rinse. Thought I would pass on this time saver to you to try. Now if I could find one to peel the potatoes too..... I will work on that one.



Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving, and other holidays for that matter are important to me. Not only to be with family and celebrate, but one big part that is important to me is to make sure my girls learn something from the holiday. Weather it be leaning how to make a meal, a dish or how to make a craft, I want them to know how to do these types of things when they get older. This year I we had some new traditions we started, while caring on others.

I think one of my favorite ones is this Thanksgiving tradition. We go to the dollar store and pick out white plates. The girls get to draw turkeys, thankful sayings etc with colorful permanent markers. Then you bake them for about 40 mins on 350. When you remove them, be careful because all the writing on it will be wet and wipe off if you touch it at all, and they are very hot! Let them cool for a few hours and you have a plate you can eat on, and hand down. My plan is to have the girls make these each year till they move out. Then I can give them a set of plates to have for their first thanksgiving. I hope they enjoy this tradition as much as I do.
The other new tradition we started yesterday, was each person at thanksgiving signs their name, date, and what they are thankful for on a table cloth. Then the table cloth is passes to the person who is having thanksgiving the next year and we do it all over again. I thought it would be fun to go back and look at what people said and who was there and so on from year to year. I think it would be fun to do something like this too for Christmas.

Chocolate Filled Raspberries

Happy Black Friday!! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! Did you try anything new for your meal? We did, and they were all a big hit!! I will have a few posts today on so oh so good treats!
This first one, I had seen a few different forms of this. The first one, was with strawberries, the second with raspberries. While I bought both, the kids had got to the strawberries before I did. So, even though I am just showing the raspberries, this would work for both berries, or any kind really.

Chocolate Filled Raspberries
Bakers Dark Chocolate (you can use what ever kind of chocolate you want, dark just sounded good with these - and it was!)
Wax Paper
Turkey Baster

With a double boiler, start by melting your chocolate. While that is happening, get a piece of wax paper and lay it out close to your stove. Try and keep your raspberries in the fridge and cold until the chocolate is melted, this makes them cold enough to help set the chocolate once they are filled. Once chocolate is done, use your turkey baster, to fill them. Since raspberries are so small, it was too hard to use a spoon, I tried a few things, then thought... turkey baster!! It was brilliant and works perfect! - So fill all of your raspberries, laying each one on the wax paper to cool. Then place in bowl or plate and serve. Forewarning though, I bought a small box of them thinking it would take too long to do a lot of them... it doesn't and they go very fast. So if you are taking them to a party or get together, buy a few boxes.

Enjoy these! I know our family did!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

OMG Salted Caramel Bars!! A must try for Everyone!!

The other day was my hubby's 33rd Birthday! He did not want to do anything for this birthday or  to have any kind of celebration. I am one of those people though that has to throw a party or get together for everything..... But.... I didn't! This was hard this year to listen that he really didn't want to do anything. And he didn't want a cake either.... *sigh* ok.... now what to do? I thought, "he said he didn't want a cake...that doesn't mean he didn't want anything." :)
So my friend Amy, had made Salted Caramel Bars the other day, and she said they were amazing. I thought, he can't get mad at a dessert. So I tried these out yesterday. OH WOW!!! He really should have taken the left overs to work because I want to eat the whole pan! They are crazy good!!! And the really gr
eat thing about them... they are really rich, so you only need a very small piece - even my kids didn't ask for seconds with these! This recipe is coming just in time for the holidays!! Make a pan up, you will be loved for these!!

OMG! Salted Caramel Bars
4 sticks (yes, 1 POUND) salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons of vanilla
4 cups of all-purpose flour

Caramel Filling
One 14-oz. bag caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, combine:
4 sticks (yes, 1 POUND) salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
In your mixer, medium speed, beat together until creamy. 2 tablespoons of vanilla and beat until combined.
Gradually add 4 cups of all-purpose flour to the butter mixture. Beat on low until all combined.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Press one half of the dough evenly into the prepared pan to form a bottom crust, and place the remaining dough in the refrigerator.
Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are pale golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

While the crust is cooling, make the caramel filling. I did mine in a double-boiler. You can also do it in a microwave....
In a double boiler, fill bottom pan with water, place second pan on top. Bring water to a slow boil. Unwrap caramels and place into pan. Add whipping cream and vanilla and mix until melted and incorporated.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine:
One 14-oz. bag caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If the caramels are not completely melted, microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.

Pour the caramel over the baked crust. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt over the top.
Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the caramel layer.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.

A Big THANK YOU to Amy for telling me about these!! You were right, they are amazing!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings - Crock Pot Style

I know I have said that I like this recipe or that one as I have been writing these. But, this Chicken and Dumplings is one of my favorite!!
As I was growing up, my Mom would make chicken and dumplings a lot in the fall/winter time. I loved it! Something about the dumplings made me so happy each time we had it. I never learned how to cook it from her but I do remember she baked chicken legs and other parts and we ate it separate from the dumplings. I remember my little brother loving the chicken, and I loved the dumplings! I have never been a "chicken or meat on the bone" type of girl, so when I heard this recipe I was super excited!! I didn't know for sure if it would taste like my Mom's though. But ohhhh it does!! It's oh sooooo good! Give it a try, super easy in the crock pot all day.... come home to a hot meal!!

Chicken and Dumplings

4 frozen Chicken Breasts
2 tb butter
1 can cream of chix soup
1 can cream of celery soup
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 minced onion
1 cup celery minced
1 cup carrots minced
2 chicken boullion cubes
10 oz can of biscuits / or make your own with bisquick and water

Excluding the biscuits, put all other ingredients in crock pot. Mix together. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
About 1 hour before it is done, remove the chicken breasts and pull into pieces - I use two forks and sheered it up. Then return to crock pot.
Open can of biscuits and tear apart and place pieces on the top of the soup (if you are using Bisquick, make them, and spoon little balls into top of soup). I take a spoon and press them all into the soup before I cover it, to make sure it will all cook... they will pop right back up but it will cook it better. Then you cover and cook on low for about 1 more hour.... you just need to cook it enough until the biscuits are done.
Serve and enjoy!! This freezes really well too! Then just drop it into the crock pot and cook it and make more biscuits.
Hope you enjoy it!!

Never Buy Green Onions Again

I saw this and I could not believe it!!! I had to try it!
Grow your own green onions without dirt, seeds, just water??? I started doing this about a year ago. I love it. We use to buy about 4-6 bunches of green onions per month - while that is not that much, we will take any bit we can.
When you buy a bunch of green onions, you use as much as you need. With this set, I went about 3/4 of the way down. Then when your done using them, just stick them in a glass of water. Just enough water in them to cover the roots. They will grow super fast!! Depending on what I make for the month, I might not use as many or as much as I have growing, so I freeze them. Chop off what you need, and use it or cut it up and stick it in an empty water bottle, then place in the freezer. I love this, because it is costing me nothing, and I have them all the time, they never wilt or go bad.
There is one draw back with this. As with most things, if you leave it in water long enough, it will start to get slimy. So about every month or two I grab a bunch of green onions at the store and just start the cycle over again.
This is something that you can let the kids do too! There is no mess, they can watch how quick they will grow and have a blast doing it. Here are the photos of day 1,2 and 3. - Told ya they grow fast!!
Day 1
 Day 2
 Day 3
When I freeze mine

Bacon Wrapped Turkey

Happy Monday!! Wow, that weekend flew by for us!! And now we have Thanksgiving week upon us.... EEEKKKK!! Wasn't it just last week we were camping in August? Are we really in mid to late November?
So I have a few posts for today.... I think you are going to love them. I made them this weekend and OHHHH boy! Yummmmo!! My little helpers were busy all weekend! They are really excited to make Thanksgiving dinner.
This first one, I made last year. I thought I would post now so you can make plans for Thanksgiving.
My husband and  I had seen Bacon wrapped Turkeys last year and really didn't think that it would taste that good. Figured it would make it takes like bacon all the way through..... My husband was ok with that though. But I thought, well we might as well try. So a few pounds of bacon later, we were ready to bake our turkey. I baked it the same way as you would normally with any turkey. I still stuffed it with veggies and rubbed it down with butter and herbs. So all was the same except it was covered with bacon.
After it was done baking, it looked oh so yummmy! I have to tell you this turkey was THE BEST, MOISTEST turkey we have ever had!!! It turned out perfect!! Nothing was dry, everything was great!! One problem we did run into though, was you wanted to peel the bacon off and eat it, and you could, but it pulled the skin off with it. And the skin was not crisp, it was cooked but almost like you boiled it. So my suggestion would be to cook it with the bacon on, then when it is done, pull all the bacon and skin off and throw it away. Or, while I have not tried this, I think it would work... Cover your turkey with butter to brown the skin, cook it for about 30 mins on a high temp then remove and cover with bacon and maybe that will help. Give it a try this year!! You will love it!!

Just a forewarning.... this is what happens afterwards.... Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!