Thursday, June 6, 2013

So I Sprained A Finger

I sprained a finger on my right hand and typing is painful. I'm still working but I'm keeping online time to a minimum. Griffin Handspun now has a Facebook page so please like it for updates and check out the Items for Sale album. It's much easier to type up a sentence or two there so for the foreseeable future this blog will be on hiatus.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Settling In

We now have less than a week 'til the in-laws are flying up to visit us and the house is.....less than ready. My office/workroom is by far the worst since it's been at the bottom of our list but I've finally started unpacking it. Last weekend Ikea had shelving units on sale for $9.99 so we made the (way too long) trip there and bought 4 of them.
When we got home Hubby put them all together while I nursed #2 down for a nap. Once he zonked out I started going through boxes of fabric. After sorting through a 3ft square box and 2 2ft square boxes it's already looking much better but there's still a long way to go. If I had a morning/afternoon to myself I could get it all knocked out but that won't be happening any time soon; even when Hubby takes #2 so I can get something done #1 insists on following me around to see what's in the boxes. So it might be slow going but eventually I'll have everything unpacked and situated so I can get back to work. If I can get my camera charged up I'll take a quick pic of the room tonight. Although I hate how much stuff I have I love that I can work from what I have for quite a while. For example, #2 likes to be carried but Hubby doesn't like using wraps or ring slings so I'm going to make a mei tei for him. We have everything I'll need to make it in my office already and I got it all on sale.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Buffalo Chicken

I'm cooking all the freezer meals we have prepped so I can clean up some room and reorganize my chest freezer. Saturday I cooked up the buffalo chicken and since I had a batch of pizza dough leftover I decided to make buffalo chicken ranch pizza. My son isn't a fan of spicy food but the ranch mix I used instead of pizza sauce canceled out some of the spiciness without lessening the flavor so he devoured his slice. Dinner can be a struggle with him so I'm always happy when I find something that we all like. We used the leftover buffalo chicken to make quesadillas for lunch the next day and they also turned out tasty.

Buffalo Chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup buffalo sauce
Cook in a slow cooker on low 6-8 hours. Shred chicken, return to juice and let cook 30 more minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Ranch Pizza
1 pizza dough, broght to room temperature and shaped
1 cup shredded buffalo chicken
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 packet Ranch seasoning
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix sour cream, mayo, and ranch seasoning. Spread a thin layer of the mixture on the pizza dough; save what's left for dipping sauce. Sprinkle on the cheese and chicken.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Carnitas Two Ways

I knew when I made the carnitas a few days ago that I was going to make carnitas pizza with the leftovers, but I had so much left after I made 1 pizza that I decided to make creamy taquitos too. I used a recipe from the CPK cookbook for the pizza dough and we loved it; I'm excited to try their honey wheat pizza dough recipe next.

Carnitas Pizza
Pizza dough (I made my own but store bought it
1 cup carnitas, shredded
1 cup shredded cheese, mexican blend or mozzarella
1/2 sweet onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup verde salsa
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the onion until soft without browning it.
Stretch the dough into a circle.
Spread on salsa, cheese, onion, and meat.
Bake for 10 minutes.

Carnitas Taquitos
2 cups carnitas, shredded
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup salsa verde
1 avocado
Smash the avocado with a fork, then mix in the sour cream, mayo, and salsa.
Add the meat and combine.
Put a 1 inch wide line of meat on the tortilla and roll it up.
These can either be baked at 350 for 15 minutes or fried.

The sauce I mixed up for the taquitoes can also be used as a sauce for the pizza; just double the salsa so it's not so thick. The taquitos freeze and reheat well so you could make a batch to freeze and then microwave for 30 seconds when you want one. Hubby likes to microwave and then pan fry them when he comes home for lunch.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


My mouth is watering just thinking about them. I feel like Homer Simpson thinking about a doughnut. Winco had pork carnitas on sale last week so I picked up a pack. Once I got home I looked for a recipe because I've never made them before. I found a few for carnitas tacos and it looked so easy (and sounded so delicious) that I went back and got 3 more packs. The recipes I found all called for the meat to be cooked MUCH longer than needed so I came up with one I thought would give the carnitas a nice crispiness without drying it out. They turned out great and now I'm going to make carnitas pizza to use up some of the leftovers.

Carnitas Tacos
Approx. 4lbs carnitas, cut into 2' chunks
1 cup orange juice
Juice from a handful of limes
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon cumin

Put everything in a cast iron dutch oven and add enough water to cover the meat.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and let cook until the meat is falling apart.
Once the meat is done remove the lid and kick up the heat so the liquids boil off.
Continue to cook, stirring when needed, until the meat has had a chance to fry in its own fat.

We served on tortillas (flour because it's all we had) with a little cheese and salsa.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Upcoming Recipes

Last month I ordered more diaper covers from Mom's Milk Boutique and when I got the package there was a caramel taped to the thank you note. It was the best caramel I have ever tasted. I got online and ordered more that same day. Now my mission is to replicate them. I will make celtic sea salt caramels that are so good you want to stop everything and enjoy while it melts in your mouth.
Bread baking is also on my mind. There are a few recipes I've been meaning to try: banana bread, brioche, pita, and pizza just to name a few. I got a dough whisk and I'm so excited to put it to use. The Bread in Five Minutes books look interesting so I might get a 6 quart food container to try those as well.
If the kids give me a minute of peace tomorrow I'll start on some bread. Mmm banana sounds good but I'm out of walnuts. Naan is great with just about anything. No, I think pitas would be nice. That would give me a reason to make honey chipotle bbq shredded chicken again. It is by far my favorite barbeque sauce and is really simple to make. There's a smoky chipotle flavor and it's not overly sweet.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Commisary Deals

The Fort Lewis Commisary has amazing deals on cereal right now.
Honey Bunches of Oats with Pecans are $1.08
Mini Churros are $0.89
Honey Mini Wheats are $1.08
Banana Nut Cheerios are $1.79 and there's a $1 off when you buy 2 coupon
I stocked up. 22 boxes of ceral for $24. We don't eat cereal often so that's enough to last us the entire year.

Also, they have the Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh lunch meat is on sale for $2 and there are $1 off when you buy 2 coupons on tear pads. That's the best price by far on those.

Those of you who do freezer cooking might be interested in checking out freezerware by Glad. They're designed to not get brittle when frozen like reglar gladware does. I've been using them for my slow cooker meals instead of zip top freezer bags.

Makin' The Most Of It

Woo it was a busy week! It started Sunday when I took Baby Boy with me to get a Sunday paper and then to Target. We walked through the grocery section and they had Butterball frozen turkeys for $0.79/lb. I bought two: one to cook and shred, the other to grind up. I wanted to get the most bang for my buck so I decided to use the turkeys for meat, broth, and stock. On Monday I went to work on the first one. It was defrosted, cut up, boiled, shredded, and finally the bones were boiled. Here's how it was done.

1 turkey, skin removed and cut up
4 carrots, cut in quarters
4 stalks celery, cut in quarters
salt and pepper

Everything goes in a big pot, along with as much water as will fit while leaving room to simmer. I don't have any big pots (forgot them at Mom's) so I divided everything to do 2 batches.
Simmer for 1 hour, or until the meat is falling apart. Once it's done take out all the meat and let it cool.
Use a collander and cheesecloth to strain the liquid left in the pot. Ta da! You now have broth.
Cool the broth in the fridge, skim the fat off the top, then package and freeze it for later use. I put mine in quart sized freezer bags this time but last time I froze it in ice cube trays and put the cubes in a freezer bag later.
Next pick all the meat off the bones and shred it. You can use this for any dish that calls for shredded chicken or turkey.
Now put the bones in the pot with fresh water. Cover and simmer for 12-24 hours.
Once time's up strain the liquid and you have turkey stock. Cool it in the fridge, remove the fat that rises to the top, then package and freeze it. It took a few days since I was taking my time but I now have 2 gallon sized bags full of turkey meat, 12 quarts of broth, and 6 quarts of stock.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Easy Make and Freeze Meatballs

It recently dawned on me that I've never made spaghetti & meatballs. Meatballs are great so I'm not sure how this happened. They're so versatile; you can make meatball subs, add them to spaghetti, cook them in a wide variety of sauces, and they freeze and reheat well. So while hubby was at work I put Baby Boy in the carrier and got to work mixing up a big batch of meatballs. I had been looking for a recipe online and wasn't happy with anything I found so I made my own.

2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 onion, minced
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 cups quick oats

Mix everything except the quick oats. Then start adding in the quick oats until you've reached the correct consistency. You want it to hold together when formed into a ball.
Next form the mix into balls. I like to make smaller, bite sized meatballs but if you want them bigger just remember to increase the cooking time.
Finally put them in a baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pinterest Fail: Hula Hoop Rug

I stumbled across a pin a few months ago. It showed how to weave a rug from a hula hoop and t-shirt scraps. It incorporated things that I love: weaving, recycling, and kids crafts. So of course I saw it and had to try it.
It was a huge fail.
Since the instructions say to use a cut up t-shirt for the warp too it quickly stretches out of shape. This causes you to end up with a bowl shape instead of a flat circle. While following the how to didn't work out it was a good idea--it just needs to be done slightly different. Instead of using t-shirts for the warp use plain muslin fabric; it won't stretch out of shape causing the rug to be misshapen. Also, I'm clumsy and have slipped on rugs that weren't backed so I'd suggest putting some rug backing on the underside of the rug to prevent it from sliding.
Now that I've gone over how it can be done better, I guess I'll show you the monstrosity I ended up with. D wanted a rainbow rug which I won't attempt again. Even if it hadn't ended up being a misshapen mess I still wouldn't like the thick stripes of color. For version 2.0 I'll pick 3 or 4 colors, cut the strips, throw them all in a bag, and pick at random as I weave.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Slow Cooker Applesauce

We recently bought 40 pounds of apples because they were only $30 through Bountiful Baskets. For those of you who haven't heard of them I encourage you to check them out. There's no way we can eat 40 pounds of apples before they go bad so I decided to use half to make applesauce to freeze. The second half will be sliced and frozen for later. Freezing food for later use is one of the best ways to save money on groceries so I'm so happy we finally bought a chest freezer.
First I had Hubby start peeling and slicing apples. I got this one because it makes 12 slices instead of 8 like all the ones I've found in the store.

Slow Cooker Applesauce
  • apples - peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2-4 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • other spices you like
We have a 6 quart slow cooker and I had him fill it almost all the way to the top with apples.
Next I sprinkled the brown sugar on top. The amount of brown sugar you'll use will depend on how sweet your apples are. I've had some that didn't need any sugar at all. It's better to start with less and then add more later.
Then add the cinnamon, vanilla, and whatever else sounds good. Sometimes I use them and sometimes I leave them out. This time I used cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, and a small bit of citrus peel.
Put it on low and let it cook. I let it go overnight but it'll depend on the size slices you use. Once it's ready you can leave it like it is if you want it chunky or take a stick blender to it if you want it smooth.
It doesn't look like it from the pic but I had enough to fill a gallon sized freezer bag.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread

I have been in the mood for recipes with buffalo chicken so we've had lots of it lately. The latest one is buffalo chicken garbage bread.

uncooked pizza dough
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced up
1 cup shredded cheese (I went with a mozzarella/monterey blend, but use what you like)
1/2 cup Frank's buffalo sauce, divided
1/4-1/2 cup ranch dressing (depends on how hot you want it)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cook chicken in 1/4 cup Frank's.
When done mix chicken, the rest of the Frank's, and the ranch together.
Spread the dough out into a rectangle on a baking sheet.
Spread the chicken/sauce mix on the dough and sprinkle the cheese on top.
Roll it up into a log. Pinch the dough on the ends to seal.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned. Let it cool 5 minutes then slice and enjoy.
Hubby wold like me to point out that the finished bread looks like a graboid. Please excuse the less than great pictures; I was taking them while holding a hungry baby. And I'd like to add that the finished bread is golden brown, not crispy burnt like it looks in this pic. Once it was cool we sliced it up and served it with green beans. Hmmm now that I'm thinking about it this would be good if you cooked cauliflower with the chicken and then you'd have the veggie in the garbage bread. I feel like we don't get enough vegetables so I try to add diced up veggies to other things.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bakery Outlets

Growing up I loved when my mom would take us to the day old bakery. Of course back then I loved it because Mom let us pick out 1 snack. Mmm...there would be our options laid out: cake rolls, snowballs, pudding pies, zingers, moon pies, and more. It was great.
Now I love it for a different reason. Bread is not cheap; the bread I prefer to buy is even more so. We were lucky enough to hear that there was a Franz Bakery Outlet 15 minutes away and after my first time there I was hooked.
Today I got 4 loaves of bread, 2 packs of thin sandwich bread, a pack of brownie bites, and 12 packs of mini donuts.

All of that would cost around $35 at the grocery store but I only spent $10 and change. As an added perk our local bakery outlet has a rack full of freebies; you get to pick out 1 or more based on how much you spend. It's not only plain bread either--last time I got a loaf of organic nine grain for free. Normally we don't get the sweets because we're both working about eatting healthier but a little treat now and then is nice, and at the greatly reduced price I don't mind so much.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Since Liam made his appearance I have been all about slow cooker/one dish meals. I need tasty, healthy meals that I can put together quickly during the week (since I'm getting everything done with a squirmy baby in the ringsling).
Last night we had slow cooker chicken cordon bleu. I didn't take a picture, mainly because it didn't look very nice, but it was delicious. Everything was layered in the crock at 11 and dinner was ready to go when Hubby got home at 5.

Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can full of milk
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut in 1/4
6-8 slices ham - cut in 1/4
6 slices swiss cheese - cut in 1/4
1 package dry stuffing mix
1/2 stick butter/margarine - melted
Mix the cream of chicken soup and the milk, pour 1/2 into the slow cooker.
Place chicken evenly in the crock, then the sliced ham on top of the chicken and the swiss on top of the ham.
Pour remaining soup/milk mix on top.
Evenly pour the stuffing mix on top and then drizzle the melted butter over the stuffing.
Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.

I love chicken cordon bleu but Hubby has always hated it. This, however, he loved. Even my picky 4 year old cleaned his plate; if you knew how rarely he wants to eat dinner you'd know what a miracle this is.