Homemade, Natural Hand Sanitizer Recipe

There must be lots of people who want a hand sanitizer that doesn’t  include alcohol.  I’d never really thought about it before  my local news did a story about an alternative.  Apparently essential oils have the same antibacterial qualities as alcohol, and they smell better, too!

This is not an endorsement for the safety, efficacy or frugality of the recipe or it’s contents.  Always check with your doctor and lawyer before doing anything, especially anything I talk about.  Use at your own risk.  Don’t  sue me.

According to my local news, this is how you make “natural” hand sanitizer:

Fill a small spray bottle halfway with sterile (I’m assuming distilled) water.

Add to it:

1 tsp Aloe Vera gel

1-2 drops of cinnamon oil

1 drop of eucalyptus oil

1 drop of clove bud oil

1 drop of rosemary oil

5 drops of lemon oil (for scent_

Top it off with more sterile water.

Shake well and… voila!

Not frugal, certainly.  You can get a ten gallon tub of off-brand sanitizer for thirty-seven cents (okay, not really).   The essential oils aren’t cheap.  Still, it’s kind of a neat idea.  Put it in pretty spray bottles and it might make a nice stocking stuffer idea, too.  Especially for all you crunchy people!

Whatever type you decide on, please wash often.  I don’t want to catch H1N1, Swine, or any other Flu or virus, thankyouverymuch.

Quick and Easy No-Bake St. Patrick’s Day Rice Krispies Treats

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Son’s class is having a St. Patrick’s Day shindig tomorrow, so I stole my friend’s idea and decided to make green, shamrock-shaped Rice Krispies treats.   This is a great recipe for little helpers.  Son really did most of it himself.

The recipe is right off the Rice Krispies box, but you don’t have to use the name brands.  I used real Rice Krispies (they were on sale) and Great Value marshmallows.

You start with 3 tablespoons of butter, which you melt in a large saucepan (next time I’m going to use my pasta pot).

The recipe calls for a 10 oz. package of large marshmallows (approximately 40) or 4 cups of mini-marshmallows.  I had a 16 oz bag, so Son counted out exactly 40 large marshmallows (next time I’ll use more, as we barely had  enough goo) and poured them into the melted butter.

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I’m not a Rice Krispies treats fan, so Son has never had them before, either.  He didn’t really understand what we were doing, and why we were going to “boil” the marshmallows.  Still, he stirred…

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When the marshmallows began melting we added plenty of green food coloring.  Son didn’t have any idea what St. Patrick’s Day is, so he wanted to add red food coloring, too.  Grabbed his hand Just. In. Time.

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You keep stirring until the marshmallows are completely melted, then remove it from the heat and slowly add the Rice Krispies to the mixture.

When it’s completely mixed spread the mixture onto a large baking pan.  Normal Rice Krispies treats are thicker than what I wanted to do for these, so instead of a 13×9 pan I used a larger one.  The box says to use waxed  paper or a buttered spatula to spread out the mixture, but I found it much easier to wet my clean hands and press without an implement.

We waited for it to cool (really only a few minutes), then started to cut out the shapes.  It wasn’t easy – Son had to use his muscle to make the cutouts.  And I had to help a little…

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He kept pretending to lick them all. But he didn’t. Pinky swear.

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We both had a fun time  making them, and created another wonderful memory.

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I hope you enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day, even if it’s just another Tuesday to you!

Be This Way Saves Time in the Kitchen

I’m pretty lazy.  I cook, and sometimes I even enjoy it.  But I’m all about making things as easy and inexpensive as I can, and with the least amount of effort.

So, this is how I do hamburger.

I go to Costco and buy it in bulk.  Costco’s meat is far better than the meat from the grocery store, and their regular price is less expensive than Publix’s sale price, at least most of the time.  I also make sure to buy the least expensive package they have out because I’ll likely have the same number of patties either way, albeit fractionally smaller.

When I get home I go ahead and season the meat.  I’m not very creative in the kitchen, so I season it the same way every time, more or less:

  • Garlic powder (occasionally fresh garlic)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A splash of teryaki (my secret ingredient!)
  • Onion flakes
  • Lawry’s Salt
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Whatever else I feel like throwing in

Then I immediately form hamburger patties.  This package was $14.18, and I was able to make nineteen patties, bout 75 cents apiece.

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I then package them in groups of three, two or one so that I can use only what I need for each meal.  There are three of us and Husband eats two burgers, so I need four if we’re having hamburgers.  If  I’m using it to make meat sauce or homemade Hamburger Helper I need two patties. You get the  idea.

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Then I stick them in a bag in the freezer.  This saves me so much time, and on a day like today when 5:15 pm rolls around and I have no idea what I’m making for dinner, all I need to do is pull out two patties, make some spaghetti and once I plate the leftover salad I have dinner in twenty minutes with minimal effort.

Just the way I like it.

Kitchen Tips from BeThisWay

If you’re melting two cubes of semi-sweet baking chocolate for a recipe, and it took you two minutes in fifteen to twenty second increments to melt the first batch to perfection, please do not assume that you can just put the next batch in for two minutes straight.

If you do you will have some very burnt chocolate, which smells just like you’d  think it would.

And, when you put the glass dish you melted it in into the sink, make sure the cold water isn’t flowing.  Unless you really hate the glass dish and don’t mind tossing the now-cracked bowl in the trash.

And if you toss the now-cracked bowl in the trash, you may want to put the pieces in a paper bag to prevent  serious injury.

Just saying.

Easy Recipe Helps Fill Son’s Sick Day

Son has a bit of a cold, and his nose is way too overactive to permit school attendance.  That left us looking for things to keep us happy and occupied in between breathing treatments.

Alison at This Wasn’t In The Plan posted a link to a fun recipe for Cheddar Cobwebs last week, and this was a perfect activity for us to tackle today.  This is seriously one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever prepared, making it something that Son could do all by himself.  Which I’ll let him do next time (except for some of the cheese grating when the pieces get small).

I doubled the recipe and modified it a little.  I combined cheddar and an Italian cheese blend, and I’ll tell you that the really small shreds didn’t do as well as the larger.  I also substituted garlic powder for paprika, as I don’t have any paprika in the house.

Also, instead of transferring them to a cooling plate I just slid the baking paper off the cookie sheet, slipped the spatula underneath to make sure they weren’t sticking and set them on the counter to cool.  Since I made a double batch I knew I’d have leftovers to store, and this made it easier.

And they’re not just a Halloween recipe.  You could also call them White Cheddar Snowflakes, or Blue Cheese Stars and Stripes,  Queen Anne’s Lace

To me they were yummiest when still slightly warm.  They make a great snack, but I also think they’d be terrific on a cold day, as a complement to tomato soup.

Let your imagination take you where it may.

Cheddar Cobwebs

Cheddar Cobwebs - Martha's, not mine

That’s Good Chicken

I’m proud of my roast chicken.

In my meager repertoire of fraught cuisine, my chicken is really good. Always moist, always full of flavor, always a family favorite.

Husband says I make the second best roast chicken in the world. The first he ate as a pre-teen at a roadside stand in Puerto Rico. I contend that time and memory has enhanced the good flavor of that chicken, and my guess is that if placed side by side with my chicken he would reconsider. The availability of my chicken, which he can eat on a regular basis, should also make my chicken edge out Puerto Rico. But whatever.

The other night my family got together to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and my contribution to the meal was a roast chicken. That meant it had to be cooked, transported to my brother’s house and reheated. The travel and reheating made me nervous – would my flagship dish stay juicy, or would the travel and reheating make it just another rubbery chicken?

My worry was for naught. It was juicy, it was tender, it was delicious. Everyone commented on how good it was, and you could tell they weren’t just giving lip service. I was so proud.

What’s the secret of my juicy chicken? Well, it’s not heart-healthy. And it’s messy. Very messy. I wash my hands about twelve times while prepping a chicken, and I use a clean towel which goes directly into the wash afterwards. But it really works to keep those juices in.

I like to use a whole chicken, and I use the fryers from Costco. I buy a package of two for about $7, and one is enough to feed my family of three and leave leftovers.

First I wash the raw chicken, and pat it dry. Then my secret: I rub butter all over the skin, inside and out (you can use wax paper or plastic wrap). Then I pour salt onto my fingertips, and rub salt all over the skin, inside and out.

I know. But it’s sooooooo good.

After that it’s just a matter of adding your favorite spices. I use Lawry’s salt (you can never have too much, can you?), garlic powder (I can’t ever have too much garlic, either) and Italian seasonings.

90 minutes at 350° (no, I don’t preheat!) and it’s perfect. The juice runoff helps make a terrific tasting gravy, too!

Sometimes I’ll cut up some red potatoes, spice them up and throw them in the pan, too. Other times I bake potatoes, or you can do rice as a side dish. Add some veggies and a salad and I’ve fed my family a great meal for under $6.

What’s your flagship dish, one that’s easy and delicious and makes you feel really good to set on your table? Please share it with us!

Why I wish I owned an ice cream churn…

I’m not a big ice cream connoussieur, despite our frequent trips to Carvel in the dead of winter. I’ve had peanut butter and chocolate ice cream before, but the peanut butter is more often as hard as peanut brittle, and I just don’t like crunchy ice cream.
I saw this photo and recipe posted over at Joy the Baker and it took all my self-control not to lick the screen. I’m shamelessly stealing it – but at least I’m linking to her…
Thanks to Joy the Baker

Thanks to Joy the Baker

Double Chocolate peanut Butter Ice Cream

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup smooth salted peanut butter ( I like the all natural peanut butter)

In a sauce pan over medium heat, stir together 2 cups whole milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Heat until the milk start to steam, but before it starts to boil.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of whole milk and the cornstarch. Stir until no lumps remain.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the heated milk and chocolate mixture and bring to a low boil. Boil until thickened. The mixture will look the consistency of chocolate pudding. Remove from flame.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir the cream and chocolate mixture until incorporated.

Stir the cream and chocolate mixture into the cooling chocolate ice cream base. Place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a lid, and put in the fridge until cool.

Once cool, follow the manufacturers instructions on the ice cream maker to churn ice cream. Once the mixture has chilled and thickened in the ice cream maker, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Don’t over mix. You want a nice ribbon of peanut butter running through the ice cream.

Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Cover and freeze until solid.

Yum!

Please don’t take this as a hint to get me an ice cream churn for the holidays. I seriously do not need to have easy access to this stuff!

Imperfect Pancakes

There wasn’t a lot of cooking going on in my house growing up. My Mom offered a very limited menu of chicken, hamburgers, chicken, meatloaf, chicken, pork chops, chicken and takeout. Breakfast was almost always cereal, with French Toast a favorite for holidays, and Matzoh Brie (basically French Toast made with matzoh instead of bread) for birthdays. I think I recall her making pancakes once, and that was from a box mix. My mother never cooked from scratch if there was a pre-packaged alternative. This was the late sixties and early seventies, so the choices did not abound as they do today.

Somehow my sister emerged from this culinary wasteland and found her way to becoming an excellent cook. She offers her family a varied and eclectic menu, from the most simple dishes to gourmet delights. This while working full time and raising two kids and running her household. I remain puzzled as to how she broke the mold, while I flounder having kept my mother’s tradition going.

Yes, I am not a confident, skilled cook. True that I am hampered by familial finickiness, but it’s also because I just don’t branch out and try new recipes often. So while my prowess at making banana bread and cool cakes is well known in my family, and I make a mean corn casserole and pineapple souffle, each new recipe I try is stressful.

And that’s just silly.

So, this morning Husband woke up and said he wanted pancakes for breakfast and asked me to make them. Just last week I had seen a recipe for supposedly wonderful pancakes, so I gave it a shot.

They’re pretty ugly. I think there were only two nicely round, evenly browned pancakes. But they were warm and fluffy and tasted perfectly scrumptious.

Restaurant pancakes may be pretty and perfect, but you can’t eat at a restaurant in your underwear. And instead of thanking a waitress while spending $30 on breakfast, I got a thank you kiss from Husband, and a sticky hug from Son, and spent about a dollar.

I think I’ll make chocolate chip pancakes next time…

Bigger Packages Are Not Always A Better Value

They must think we’re stupid. Or too busy to notice. Or so entrenched in the “bigger is better” mentality that we won’t care that we’re wasting money.

Well, I’m not too stupid, too busy, or too entrenched. I notice.

I’ve just been noticing it a lot more lately.

I’ll be at the grocery store, or Target, or Walmart, and I’ll reach for the bigger package of cereal, or dryer sheets, or sausages.

And then I’ll compare the smaller package’s price per unit to the larger package’s, and the smaller package is a better deal.

Just today I was at Publix and wanted to take advantage of a sale on breakfast sausages. I can buy a box of 15 links (which, by the way, looks twice the size of the smaller box) at 2 for $5.00, or I can buy a box of 10 links at 5 for $5.00. Needless to say I stocked up with the smaller boxes.

Yesterday I was at Target and their Target brand 24 double roll toilet tissue was on sale for $11.99. Their 12 double roll pack was $5.87…

What do you think of the practice? It feels dishonest, but it really isn’t. They do give us the information, even if it’s not always easy to figure out in three seconds or less. If we take the time to do the math we can figure out the best deal. After all, it’s not their fault we aren’t paying attention.

Yes, it sure is happening more and more lately. Like shrinking package sizes and buy one, get one free deals that aren’t what they’re cracked up to be, I am forced to be ever more vigilant while shopping.

The moral of the story: even if it says “On Sale” or “Value Size” or “Family Size” or “Buy More, Save More” on the package, please do the math.

It just seems unfair to have to, doesn’t it?

Shrinking Package Sizes Screw up My Recipes

I am not an off-the-cuff cook. I’m not one to experiment, to add a dash of this and a pinch of that.

I need recipes. I never really cooked much more than fried matzoh and baked chicken until I got married. I don’t have a spohisticated palate, so deciding which tastes go well together or creating my own dishes just doesn’t happen. It’s never going to. I need someone to tell me exactly how much of each ingredient to add and, as I found out during one unfortunate baking disaster, in which order to add them together.

That was all fine and dandy, as there are plenty of recipes around. I love my Betty Crocker cookbook, though I do covet and hope to find an old copy of the Joy of Cooking. So I was humming along merrily, cooking to recipe, until things started getting complicated.

Why did things get complicated?

Because manufacturers are afraid to raise prices, so instead they’re screwing up my recipes.

Have you noticed it? Did you realize that your toilet paper has less sheets than it used to (no, I don’t cook with it!), or that your canned corn has fifteen ounces instead of sixteen?

Does your cereal now only last you twelve days instead of fourteen?

Manufacturers are shrinking the amount of food we get per package, and they’re certainly not reducing prices. They don’t want us to think about whether or not we still want to buy something now that the price has increased, like so many of us are doing now as we see grocery prices rise. They want us to just keep buying, and hope we don’t notice.

But I notice. You know, I don’t have one single recipe that calls for a 15 ounce can of corn. My corn casserole, a Thanksgiving (and Easter) staple, calls for a sixteen ounce can of creamed corn, and a sixteen ounce can of sweet corn. Sixteen, not fifteen. So, either I buy extra cans or my recipe suffers. I HATE that.

I hate that I have to think about making adjustments, no matter how minor, to my recipes. I hate thinking about whether adding something else will make it thick enough, or cake-like enough. I don’t know the answers!

So thanks, manufacturers. Thanks for screwing up my recipes. I’d rather pay a few cents more (well, I’d really rather not) so that my recipes don’t suffer.

Let’s organize a protest. Let’s all meet at the Del Monte offices and throw stewed tomatoes at them. From the fifteen ounce cans.

They’ll have one less ounce to clean up.

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