DIY Natural, Soothing, Lovely, Shaving Cream

DIY Natural, Soothing, Lovely, Shaving Cream

I am a big Do-It-Your-Selfer.

Anything that you can make yourself, either to save money, save space (due to packaging), or save your household from unnecessary chemicals (often times all of the above!) I say DO IT!

This blog is one that I subscribe to & read often. She has great tips for the DIY lifestyle. Some things, like this one, look amazing!

Now, I haven’t tried it, honestly, I don’t shave as often as many women I know. I think I’m going to make this for my husband though the next time he threatens to shave off his beard & go back to his goatee. And the boys are starting to shave as well!

I’m told that Spring is around the corner, even though it was 0 degrees this morning, so I will be shaving in the near future. If any of you try this before you see this post updated by me, please comment below!

All of the ingredients in this make it look so lush & lovely, I don’t know how your skin wouldn’t love it!

What’s in the Fridge/Freezer Soup

Today was a cold one again! I don’t think that it got above 20 degrees! Clearly it’s a soup night!
Kinda perfect considering I have a leftover roasted chicken in my fridgerator with barely any meat on it (stock-ready, I call it). We’ll start there!

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For my Homemade Chicken Stock (sure to cure what ails you) your basic ingredients are:
Roasted organic chicken carcass
2 carrots, halved
2 ribs celery, halved
1 med-large onion (your favorite variety), quartered
1 bulb garlic, quartered
1-2 Tbsp whole peppercorns
2 whole bay leaves
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
A pinch of turmeric
1-2 tsp sea salt (depending on size of pot & how much water)
Splash of cooking sherry
(You can always add additional veggies if you have some that are close to turning as well. Peppers add wonderful flavor to stocks, as do cabbages. Root vegetables like beets do as well!)

If using a crockpot, put everything in, cover with water. Cook on high for 4 hours, then set on low for 3-6 hours.  
(My crockpot cooks hotter than most. I usually cook on high for 2-3, then overnight on warm.) 
If cooking on the stove, bring it to a boil, then allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. Remember that the longer it cooks the more of the goodness come out into the broth. You don’t want it to reduce though. Be prepared to add water to it if needs be, just bring it back up to boil, then back down to simmer again.

Once its finished cooking, pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer reserving the broth in a large bowl or another pot. Allow the juice to drip out of the vegetables & carcass for a few minutes before you toss it aside.

Onto the rest of the soup…
I know I’m making a poultry-based soup, as I don’t eat much red meat & I’m making fresh chicken stock. I really hadn’t planned for soup today until I looked outside!

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This is the view from the door! I do not feel like going to the store…I guess it’s time for “What’s in the Fridge/Freezer Soup”
When I look out in the freezer to grab the chicken, assuming that I’ll be grabbing breasts, thighs, or a combination of both I see these, which I bought at Costco last week

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Chicken Andouille Sausages! Its on! Now the decision is noodles, rice, or barley? The traditionalist in me says beans & rice of course, or maybe barley instead of rice…but I have a 2 year old…rice in soup=messy mess. And I have an autistic teen who is picky about veggies, but if they are all in a dish together, he’ll eat them, so they really need to be in the soup…
I decided our dinner:

“Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup”

While the stock was cooking I gathered my ingredients,

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Egg noodles (after the picture was taken I measured about 4 cups, dry, into a bowl to be cooked once the stock was finished. You should always add them precooked or they will end up too mushy),

2 C frozen peas (you could use fresh too),

2 C carrots (sliced),

1/2 – 2/3 C some fresh parsley (chopped or minced to your liking),

salt & pepper,

1 Lbs + package Chicken Andouille Sausage

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I defrosted & cut up the sausage (these are already cooked, if you haven’t tried them you really should. All natural, gluten free, super tastey!)

Once the stock has finished cooking & is straining, cook your pasta to al dente. Strain as well, reserving a little of the water just in case you need to add a little liquid to your pot.
Pour the stock back into the pot. Add the sausage, carrots, peas, & parsley.

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Then add the noodles bring to a low boil season to taste with salt & pepper. Cook until carrots are tender (about 20-30 min depending on how thick you sliced them).  If your stock is too concentrated or there is not enough liquid add hot water you reserved from your pasta.

Of course you can make anything for your “What’s in the Fridge Soup,” but this turned out pretty awesome, so I thought I’d share!

Have a wonderful night!

Homemade New England Style Clam Chowder!

We used to live in the Seattle area, a place where any night of the week, any month of the year, you could go ANYwhere and find a good chowder, scratch that, a near perfect chowder, without too much hassle. I never even attempted to make a clam chowder from scratch before, because we could order it regardless if we were eating from a place with a drive-through or a fancy restaurant.

Now, however, we live in beautiful Northwest Montana! A couple of restaurants serve clam chowder on Friday nights. (I rarely crave clam chowder, by the way, on a night designated by a restaurant’s specials!) One of those is actually really good, the other is a really close second. Another restaurant, a finer dining establishment who specializes in seafood, serves chowder, but they are a bit spendier so we don’t go there often and its usually a “seafood chowder” not a clam chowder. (When I’m craving clam chowder, “seafood chowder” isn’t going to cut it.)

The past couple of months I decided to start my search for good New England Clam Chowder recipes. (For fans of Manhattan style, sorry, I’ve never actually eaten it! I hate to admit that, but I haven’t! If anyone can recommend a good recipe for it, I will try it though. I was raised on the creamy goodness of New England & that’s what I know. I’ve always been curious about the red sauce, just not curious enough to order it in a restaurant, my bad). When I see friends post about their recipes I ask questions, I research & compare online…the search has been long. The recipe below is the collaboration of about 3 different recipes that I have merged & tweaked into something that worked out pretty well. I used techniques from one & seasonings from another & mixed them all together & added a bit of me in there too. The family loved it & I think that you will too. Please feel free to comment below if there is anything that you would add or do differently, this was my first attempt.

*Everyone likes their clam chowder a little differently. Our family likes a really thick chowder, so at the end I made a roux with 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter and equal amount of flour (8 Tbsp or 1/2 C) and stirred it into the pot until it was thoroughly mixed into the chowder. You could make the roux and stir it in, a couple Tbsp at a time if you want until it is the desired thickness. It was just more of a soup consistency than a chowder consistency at finish, I thought.*

**The recipes that I found online gave good instructions on using fresh clams. Given that I no longer live on the coast, I opted to use canned (which is common for chowders, so I don’t feel like a schmuck). I don’t want to post the fancy fresh clam instructions as if the are my tips that I used. When I get my hands on some good clams & try it myself, & take some photos, I will update this post with those tips & photos as an option as well. I feel fake putting someone else’s “how to” on here as if it were mine when I haven’t even tried it yet. I will list the quantity you would need for fresh clams so that you can look up proper technique if you would like.**

INGREDIENTS:

Clams: fresh-14 Lbs, medium-size hard-shell clams (topneck or small cherrystone) washed and scrubbed clean;                        canned– 8 cans chopped clams (reserve juice) and 4 bottles of clam juice                                8 slices thick-cut applewood or hickory smoked bacon cut into 1/4″ pieces (I prefer applewood, DO NOT USE MAPLE)                                   2 large yellow onions, diced                                             4 Tbsp flour                   6-8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced                                                   1 cup cooking sherry                                                            2  large bay leaves         2 tsp fresh thyme                                                                   2 c heavy cream               4 Tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves                            2 tsp Italian seasoning 1/2 tsp dill                                                                                 black pepper                       salt                                                                                                white pepper

Here we go…

Before we get started, when I cooked this (& took the pictures) I wasn’t sure exactly how much it was going to make. It ended up making enough for everyone to have exactly 1 large bowl (the toddler 1 normal her-sized bowl) and my husband a little extra. No leftovers. I hate it when there are no leftovers because I actually schedule “leftover nights” into our menu calendar! I cook, generally, 4 nights a week, my husband cooks 1 night a week (or sometimes we’ll go out or to a friend’s house or something) & then we have a couple of nights devoted to cleaning out the fridge! My 12 year old is a Chowder Connoisseur & was hoping for leftovers! I, got everyone dished up, ate, then because it turned out so good was going to fill a bowl to get a pic for the blog, but alas…you get pics of pots, but no finished bowl this time, because it all went into tummies instead…

My point you ask? The amounts listed in the ingredients above are double what I used when I made it for my family of 5 (4+a toddler). The pictures that I took during the cooking process will look like less than what is reflected above, or you may think that I have the roomiest pot EVER.  If you have a smaller family, but enjoy chowder, I would leave it & enjoy leftovers. If you have a larger family, double it! Most of us would have happily enjoyed a second bowl & were very sad, luckily we had rolls & salad…onto our chowder!

First I drained my clams reserving the clam juice into a medium bowl or large Pyrex measuring cup. I looked for the highest quality clams I could find since canned were my best choice right now. Many quality natural food stores carry them too. You want to look for clams that are in their own natural juices or broth. If that is not what the label indicates, please do not reserve the juice & purchase an extra couple of bottles of natural clam juice/broth, & rinse & strain your clams a few times before it is time to put them into the chowder.

Time for the bacon!

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Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium-low heat until the fat renders and the bacon crisps. Add the onion to the bacon and saute until softened (about 5 minutes).

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Add the flour and stir until lightly colored (about 1 minute). Gradually whisk in the reserved clam juice, then the sherry. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, black pepper and thyme. Simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes).

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Add clams, cream, dill, and parsley. Add salt and white pepper to taste, and bring the dish to a simmer. *This is where I added the roux, again some like it soupier, some like it thicker. Remove from heat and serve with oyster crackers or hearty bread.

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This last pic was just before the final roux. Next time I make it, I will take pics in bowls with happy satisfied kids’ faces who got second helpings. I really wasn’t sure exactly how much it would make or how it would turn out, I don’t make homemade cream-based soups & sauces often. My (also Seattle area raised) hubby compared it to Anthony’s Homeport, which is kinda of a Seattle staple for seafood lovers, so I am satisfied. I hope you & your family like it. Please click “follow” if you like what you see here, & comment below if you have any imput or would like to see anything specific from me. I love experimenting with new things! ~paige

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She wasn’t being rude

This is one of those stories that make you feel good about where you are, where ever that is. You can look at yourself, at your life, and say, “yes. This is good. I can do good. For her…for him…for my church…for the food bank… for that man with the sign…for the local shelter…for a local family in need…” whatever the situation, someone needs something that you are capable of giving, even if its only a smile or a hug.
Please read and share.

dogtorbill

My receptionist Ericka was in tears. The caller had said some pretty mean things, and she’s sensitive to what people say to her. She thrust the phone towards me, and pleaded for me to deal with it, “She doesn’t understand we don’t have any appointments available and, anyway, we’ll be closed in 45 minutes.” Some lady’s dog hadn’t “eated” in 4 days, and so she thinks she’s really pretty sick, and what was I gonna do about it? On such a hectic afternoon, I was glad to take the load off the front desk, and proceeded with the best defense being a good offense. “So he hasn’t eaten in 4 days? Wow, you rushed right in! What makes you think it’s serious now” The colloquialism of her words and accents made it difficult to understand, even for a small town Missoura hick like myself, but I did make out something…

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Honey Mustard Chicken

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This is one of our new favorite recipes in a pinch!

It is super quick, super easy, not too bad for us, & we always have all of the ingredients we need…here’s what you need:

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (if you use thighs, throw a couple more in there!)                                                      1/2 C honey          1/2 C dijon or spicy brown mustard          1 tsp dried basil          1/2 tsp paprika          salt & pepper                          That’s it!!           I usually serve it with brown rice & steamed broccoli

Here’s the scoop:

Lightly salt & pepper both sides of (thawed, if frozen) chicken and put into glass baking dish(es).

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While oven is preheating, work on the sauce.

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measure the honey into a small mixing bowl. (Use local, organic honey when available. It can help with seasonal allergies, help support local family farms, help your carbon footprint, & it usually tastes better than the commercially processed stuff!)

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Add the mustard and stir it up good. It should be well blended so that you can’t see a separation between the honey and the mustard. If I were making this for just my husband & I (or my father), I would experiment with different spicy mustards, maybe even a horseradish mustard or a spicy stone ground (…wasabi mustard?). For the family, however I usually use either dijon or a standard spicy brown deli mustard. Its enough zip without being too much for any picky eaters. If you are someone who likes things a little sweeter you could add a touch more honey, if you like things a little less sweet you can add a touch more mustard, but you will want the whole cup of sauce for this quantity of chicken so that it doesn’t dry out. (It will also give you a little extra sauce when its done that you can drizzle on your rice.)

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Next, mix in the seasoning…again, make sure that they are mixed in thoroughly.

Now you can brush HALF of the mustard sauce onto the top of the chicken & put it in the oven for about 35 minutes. Reserve the second half of the sauce.

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After 35 minutes, turn each piece of chicken and brush the other side with the reserved sauce. Put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

Usually I start the rice cooker after I get the chicken in the oven. Then I start the broccoli steaming about halfway through the process. If you were cooking this during the summertime, a broccoli slaw or broccoli salad, or a fresh kale salad with cranberries & bleu cheese & nuts would be lovely!

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I have to apologize for the finished plate pic today…we were done eating when I realized that I didn’t take a finished pic so before I put leftovers away I put some pieces together on my plate…mwah mwah…

next time I make it, I will do it right & it will look pretty & the plate will look…not so…used…HA!

Happy Cookin’!

~paige

Zesty Taco Soup

Clearly we are in need of a little spice during this super chilly winter season. For those of you who don’t know….the high for today in my neck of the woods (Flathead Valley, Montana) is around 1 degree (not including any wind chill factors). This varies greatly from town to town. School was canceled today for my friends, just south about 17 miles because it was so windy that the cold was unbearable this morning.

Yesterday I posted a lovely, cheesy Mexican casserole & today for dinner, as requested by my 12 year old so, I’m making a crock pot full of my Zesty Taco Soup. This recipe was developed last fall when I started pulling things out to prepare my sister’s Chicken Tortilla Soup, then realized that I had no chicken breasts…or thighs (my backup)…only ground turkey. I looked at the recipe, compared it to my Turkey Chili recipe, made a few notes & tweaks & there we were!

*I will warn you by saying that I am a crock pot addict. I am a busy gal who never has enough time for anything, AND I love to cook. The crock pot has saved my life! It allows me to prepare homemade soups, sauces, casseroles, even some desserts on days when I just wouldn’t otherwise have the time. If you don’t have one get one. And please don’t waste your time or money on a cute little one that barely fits a couple cans of soup in it. Seriously, what are you going to make in there anyway? Spend a little more & buy the big one. Even if you live alone, & here’s why…most crock pot recipes are made for the big pots (& if they’re not, it’s easier to multiply a recipe than divide a recipe!). Make more & freeze it or can it, or give it away. Especially if it’s soup or sauce! Soups & sauces freeze & reheat REALLY well. You just need to pour it into smaller containers so that it cools quickly, then put it into labeled freezer bags with the date on it. Most stuff you can keep in the freezer for a year, sometimes more. Look it up online if you’re unsure. Stepping off of my soapbox now…*     

Onto the yummies…

1 package Ground Turkey          1 can Black Beans          1 can Kidney Beans          1 can White Beans              2 cans diced Green Chilies                1 can diced tomatoes with chilies          1 yellow onion diced                    64 oz chicken sock                            1-2 packets (to taste) taco seasoning          1 can tomato sauce          1 cup frozen corn                                    (optional) avocado, green onion, & sour cream to garnish                           *I try to get hormone free turkey & organic canned goods & produce as much as possible. Retailers like Costco are excellent about prices when it comes to organic canned beans, tomato sauces, & chicken stock, I highly recommend you price compare if you haven’t already. We are on a tight budget in my home, but I have found that retailers like Costco are really doing their part to keep cost down on organic products when possible.*

Turn the crock pot onto HIGH. Put in the ground turkey. You can put it in right from frozen as long as it’s going to be cooking for at least 6-7 hours total. (Usually 1 package is about 1.25-1.3 lbs, that’s what I use. For me the beans are the star, if you like more meat, feel free to add more.)  Once the heat has started to move through the pot, add the onions, corn, & taco seasoning.

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Next, add your chilies & tomatoes w/chilies to the pot. Stir.

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While the onions & meat begin to cook a bit, it’s time to prepare the beans. Most people don’t realize that canned beans need to be prepared, especially if they’re organic…wrongo bongo!

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Canned beans don’t need to be pre-cooked, but they do need to be rinsed! They are sitting in this lovely sodium-filled goo which keeps them a wonderful consistency when canned, otherwise they would turn to mush. We don’t want to eat the goo, however, & many people do. It is a preservative that isn’t good for us, it is meant to be discarded, not ingested. Please rinse your beans!

I have chosen Black beans, Kidney Beans, & Garbanzo Beans. Garbanzos, mostly because I am out of other white beans & I enjoy have tricolor beans in soups, but also because I  have children & all children like Garbanzos because they look like butts! Sorry, but it’s true! Little beige bottoms floating in your bowls is funny & they will eat them!

Once they are rinsed, add the beans to your pot. Stir.

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Now that all of our solids are in & starting to cook, we can add our liquids. Usually I use homemade chicken stock, but this soup has so much flavor all ready, that it almost would be a waste. I use organic store bought chicken stock, & 1 can or tomato sauce. This fills the pot. Stir it up good. Put the lid on & Set the timer for 5 hours if the turkey was fresh or 7 hours if it was frozen.

I like a little dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of cheese on top & green onions &/or avocados. Serve it with tortilla chips to dip.

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Have a wonderful afternoon & keep warm!

~P

Quick ‘n Easy, Super-Yummy Mexican Casserole

This is one of my family’s favorite casseroles! It was inspired by a recipe that my mother emailed me. I tweaked it…a lot, & it is quick, easy, inexpensive, versatile, & tasty. You can make it vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, super meaty…I can easily increase the quantity for a potluck or bring it down for just my husband & I.

To start, you need enough burritos to line a glass baking dish. I use frozen bean burritos, the ones with refried beans, but you can use any variety. (You could even roll your own if you are so inclined.) Cut them to fit tightly into the dish. *Let them thaw in the dish before baking or you will have to increase baking time. I usually put them in the casserole dish a couple of hours before I’m ready to bake them.*

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Personally, I like this dish without meat, but all of the men in my house prefer some chewable protein in it, so we have compromised on ground turkey. I usually cook it up, much like I would for tacos.

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Then I add diced chilies, 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies, & some sliced olives.

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Okay…here is the one ingredient that I wish I could replicate using something more natural or homemade…

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Campbell’s Condensed Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup…If I could figure out how to mimic it using natural ingredients, I would! If anyone else has any ideas or know how, please share!

I use one can of the above soup, an equal amount of sour cream. (If you wanted to make a vegan or dairy-free version, you could omit the cream soup & use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese & Better Than Sour Cream or similar brand, then add some extra spices.)  I also sprinkle a small sprinkle of shredded sharp cheddar cheese into the mixture too. Stir it well.

Smear the sauce mixture evenly over the burritos, making sure to schmoosh (that’s a technical term) into all of the cracks & gaps.

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Once it is evenly spread out, sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Preheat the oven to 435 & bake for about 35 minutes (as long as the burritos were completely thawed, a little longer if they were still frozen).

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Enjoy!

I hope that it makes mouths as happy in your home as it does in mine!