Archive for the ‘diy~why not?!’ Category

“Healthy” Chocolate Granola Bars

Ok, so these are not the healthiest or the granola-iest…but they are moderately healthy and extremely yummy!!  I adapted a recipe I found on www.themarathonmom.com .

 

“Healthy” Chocolate Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Melt peanut butter, honey, and butter on medium-low heat, stirring often.
  2. When melted, turn off heat and stir in oats, and flax seed. Let cool for a few minutes.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into 8×8 foil-lined pan, and put in refrigerator to cool.
http://justalittlebs.com/2013/03/13/healthy-chocolate-granola-bars/

 

** Here are the alterations I made:

The original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons of wheat germ instead of the ground flax seed.  I didn’t have any wheat germ or I might have done a tablespoon of each.

The original recipe also called for 1/2 cup of coconut which I would have LOVED, but I wanted my kids to actually eat these and they won’t touch it with coconut in it!

I plan to try these with almond butter so my peanut-allergic son can enjoy these next time.

I cut mine into bars, wrapped them in foil, and put them in the snack drawer in the refrigerator.  They were gone in two days.

Enjoy! 🙂

Posted on March 13th, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Fancy Schmancy-looking Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I am about to share the secret to the softest, most delectable chocolate chip cookies I have ever made:

Cornstarch.

Seriously.  Such a cheap, forgotten ingredient that creates such chewy delectable joy and delight.

When my daughter’s teacher reminded me that I had signed up to make cookies for her fourth grade class Valentine’s Day party, I asked my daughter which cookie she wanted me to bake.  She said,  “Duh, Mom…your soft chocolate chip cookies.”  (And then she rolled her eyes, spun around with her soccer ball at her feet, and dribbled off…she really loves me, that one.)

But although these chocolate chip cookies are a little ball of heaven on their own, I wanted to dress them up purty for the special day.  So with my daughter’s permission (given as she was practicing juggling her soccer ball off her head, her feet, the living room ceiling fan) I decided to give the cookies a little white chocolate bath and prettify them with Valentine sprinkles.

This is the result:

Fancy Schmancy Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

I will include my recipe for the chocolate chip cookies below, but to add the white chocolate beauty is very simple.  I just  put 2 cups white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, added 2 Tb. vegetable oil, and set the microwave for 1 minute at 70% power.  After that, just stir until completely melted and mixed.  Then I just dipped the cooled cookie in halfway, set it on parchment paper and immediately sprinkled on the all-important Valentine pinks and reds.

Just imagine what white chocolate creations you could make!  You could dip fruit, rice krispie treats, potato chips…

My kids LOVED these and as impressive as they may look, are really super easy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fancy Schmancy-looking Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco (or unsalted butter, softened)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 6-8 oz. chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together butter and sugars until smooth
  3. Add egg and vanilla
  4. Mix flour, cornstarch, and salt in separate bowl. Add to “wet” mixture.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Form 1-inch mounds* and bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-9 minutes. Allow to sit on baking sheet for additional several minutes before moving to cooling rack or table.
  7. *Mixture may be a little crumbly; just gently form into ball-shaped mounds…drops of water may be added if very crumbly at bottom of bowl.
  8. *I ALWAYS double this recipe – partly because I have 5 children, and partly because you CANNOT eat just one – go on, try it. I double-dog-dare you 🙂
http://justalittlebs.com/2013/02/14/fancy-schmancy-looking-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Posted on February 14th, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Baking bread

I blame my good friend Trish.

It all started at Friday morning’s bible study with the seemingly innocent question, “Who wants Chipotle?”  When I hesitated for frugal and caloric reasons, my friend Trish insisted that I wanted it and proceeded to place my order.  (Arm twisted.)  In a very disciplined manner, I cut my fat juicy barbacoa burrito in half, placed the other half in the refrigerator for Saturday’s lunch, and began to knosh on the goodness and joy that is a Chipotle burrito.  All seemed well.

And then 4:00 hit.  That 4:00 monster that gnaws at my innards and demands irrational things like Lucky Charms, leftover half-eaten doughnuts, and yesterday – the remainder of my Chipotle burrito.  My husband was going to be home late from work and wanted to have pizza as a family when he was home, and so the rationalization began.

“I’ll just eat what’s left of my burrito now, and won’t eat pizza later with the family.”

“It’s healthier than pizza anyway; just look at all this corn and these tomatoes (wrapped up in all that sour cream).”

“Num-num-num-gnosh…”

I finished the other half even though I wasn’t THAT hungry.  (I just couldn’t rationalize putting 1/4 of the burrito back in the refrigerator.)   And then I felt extremely full-to-the-point-of-almost-bursting for the next several hours as I transported 5 children to an indoor soccer game, entertained them and mopped up their spilled water, and transported them home.

The good news is I didn’t eat any pizza.  I drank one glass of wine and called it a night.

The bad news is I was starving by 7 a.m.

Starving + Pinterest = this:

 

Baking bread

Baking bread

 

Amish Cinnamon Bread and Super Moist Banana Bread.

Prepared, mixed, and baked by 10:30 a.m.

Thankfully, I have 5 kids around to help with the bread “disposal.”  (You can see from the picture that they’ve already started.)  But even with their help, I have a feeling it’s going to be a long, delicious day.

And it’s ALL Trish’s fault.  😉

(Recipes follow.)

Super Moist Banana Bread (from Cooks.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. hot water

Instructions

  1. Butter or spray a 9x5x3 in. loaf pan and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl.
  3. Add bananas, egg yolks, vanilla, lemon juice, and baking soda. Mix well.
  4. Stir in flour.
  5. Beat egg whites in separate bowl until stiff, then gently fold into batter until blended.
  6. Stir in hot water.
  7. Scrape into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick-clean.
  8. Freezes well.
http://justalittlebs.com/2013/01/19/baking-bread/

Cinnamon Bread (from Redfly Creations) *makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • Batter:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • Cinnamon/sugar mixture:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Cream together butter, 2 cups of sugar, and eggs.
  2. Add milk, flour, and baking soda.
  3. Put 1/2 of batter (or a little less) into greased loaf pans. (1/4 in each pan)
  4. Mix in separate bowl the 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Sprinkle 3/4 of cinnamon mixture on top of the 1/2 batter in each pan. Add remaining batter to pans; sprinkle with last of cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or toothpick-clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing from pan.
http://justalittlebs.com/2013/01/19/baking-bread/

Posted on January 19th, 2013 by LilBS  |  3 Comments »

Unpaper towels

I received a sewing machine from my parents for Christmas 2011.  I was so excited to use it that it sat in the box, unopened, until November 2012!  Whoops!  Actually, I was excited to have my own sewing machine.  I had recently recovered some living room pillows which cheaply changed the look of my entire living room!  I was inspired to see what other frugal fun I could have with sewing.  Although I’m not an expert seamstress by any means, I know my way around the basics of a sewing machine thanks to the summer that my mom signed up my sister and I to take a sewing class with a local seamstress.

Christmas 2012.  I decided to put my sewing to the test and make some “unpaper towels” for gifts for some of my friends and family.  I had seen these on Pinterest, and loved the idea for 3 main reasons:

1.  They were “green” a.k.a. environmentally friendly, which is very important to some of my family members in particular.

2.  They were fun.  I could personalize them to match their personalities, their styles, their kitchens.

3.  They were inexpensive.  Fabric is very affordable and the biggest cost was my time which I donated willingly! 😉

I LOVE the way these turned out!  I made some with snaps so they could be placed on a paper towel holder like a true roll of towels.  I made some without snaps for those who keep their kitchen towels/rags in a drawer instead of in the open.  AND I have made myself some with the leftover material!

Here is the tutorial I referred to as I made my towels.  It was incredibly helpful and informative!

homemade paper towels

http://www.sewastraightline.com/2010/04/rolled-kitchen-towels-tutorial-and.html

**One thing I changed from the original tutorial was instead of buying expensive terrycloth, I bought inexpensive bath towels.  And for the unpaper towels I made for myself, I just cut up my old bath towels that were starting to rip and get holes anyway!

 

And here is a sample of one of my towels – aren’t those chicks cute and kitschy?!  I gave these to my book club friends because… well,  they’re my chicks, ya know?

Unpaper Towels

Unpaper Towels

Finally, I discovered an added bonus to these gifts.  As I was creating the unpaper towels for my friends and family, I was thinking about them a lot.  As I washed and ironed and pinned and sewed, I prayed for them.  I prayed for their marriages, their families, their workplaces…their hearts.  It was an amazing way to feel connected with some of the people who mean the most to me.  And it actually turned out to be a gift to me as well.

Posted on January 15th, 2013 by LilBS  |  3 Comments »

Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip “Gourmet” Cookies

So there is one thing my family is not great at – sending birthday gifts on time.  I could use the excuse that my sisters and their families live SO far away (Colorado and Minnesota), and I could use the excuse that I have a lot on my plate at my own humble abode, and I could even use the excuse that I like to see their faces when they receive a gift in person…but in reality, I just hate going to the post office.  Ok, so that’s not the only reason, but unfortunately it’s near the top of the list.

But the fun part of this is that because we all know this about each other, it stretches out the gift-giving and gift-receiving (hence, the BIRTHDAY!) for a loooong time, and is actually even more fun when we do finally send or receive our gifts!  So with that big ‘ol disclaimer:  I just gave my sister Jen some birthday cookies when she was home in November.  That’s right, FEBRUARY birthday cookies.  Oh don’t worry…I didn’t bake them in February!  (Or maybe I did and ate them before I could mail them??  That would make a better story, wouldn’t it?!)

But these February-November cookies were (in my estimation) worth the wait.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

YUM.

In fact, my sister said she may take them to a “gourmet” cookie exchange one of her friends is hosting.  Now if that isn’t a compliment, I’m not sure what is!

I found the recipe on Pinterest, from a website called The Diary of Dave’s Wife.  Here is the link:

www.thediaryofdave’swife.com

I followed the recipe exactly except instead of buying the “caramel bits” I just used regular old caramels and chopped them into 4 pieces until I had enough to fill 1 cup.  I chopped up my pretzels using a food processor.  I also used stale pretzels and they turned out fine.  (Someday I may write a post about how my husband never finishes his food.  He leaves 2 inches of any food or beverage in the bottom of the bag, bottle, can, etc.  Oy vey.)  Also, on one batch I forgot to sprinkle the salt on top of the cookie dough and (gasp!) they still turned out delicious!

This is an easy cookie to make, delicious to eat, and impressive to share.  POI-FECT!

A “Gourmet” Cookie

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Kraft caramel bits
  • 1/2 cup Crushed Pretzels

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla and blend well.
  4. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips, caramel bits, and crushed pretzels.
  6. Using a tablespoon, drop rounds of dough onto cookie sheet and sprinkle tops with salt.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden-brown around the edges. Do Not Over-bake!
  8. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove and place on wire rack to cool.
http://justalittlebs.com/2012/12/10/salted-caramel-pretzel-chocolate-chip-gourmet-cookies/

Posted on December 10th, 2012 by LilBS  |  1 Comment »

Homemade Reusable Cleaning Wipes!

Show of hands:  who loves Clorox/Lysol wipes, but is sick of buying them?!  Me!  Me!  I don’t have anything against these little wipes of wonder, but I HATE spending money on something I just throw away.  (Now Chipotle’s barbacoa burrito…mmm…that’s something worthy of my money!)

But I DO love the convenience of those little wipes.  They are perfect for my house full of dirty fingers, dropped sippy cups, muddy paws, grubby…well, you get the idea ~and that’s just my husband!  🙂

Courtesy of www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com I have a solution!  (Not just a solution to this problem, but literally a solution for you to make ~get it?  Can you tell I’m on my third cup of coffee already?!) 

The first thing I did was cut one of my husband’s OLD white t’s.  I cut it into rectangles that were about 5×6 inches (approximately!).  This is definitely an estimate, but this seems to be a good size for the wipes according to my family’s needs.  Then I mixed up this solution in a bowl:

1 Cup Water

1/4 Cup Alcohol (Isopropyl, not Tequila)

2 TB. Dawn (the blue kind)

2 TB. Ammonia

I used an old baby wipes container, put the cloths into it (with no rhyme or reason), and poured the solution over it.  Let it sit for a few minutes at least to soak in the cleaning goodness.  Voila!  Homemade reusable cleaning wipes!

Homemade Reusable Wipes

(The flower in the picture has nothing to do with the wipes.  It’s a Pinkie Pie Hydrangea ~ my favorite flower blooming right now!)

After I use one of these, I just toss it into my whites pile where it gets washed in hot water and usually bleached, ready to get used again!  No waste and sooo cheap!  I love it!

Less money to spend on cleaning supplies and more for Chipotle Burritos! 

 

Posted on September 18th, 2012 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Homemade Toilet Cleaner

I am trying to get to the point where I don’t have to buy any chemical cleaners.  They are convenient, yes, but they are overpriced and full of nasty chemicals.  Next on my list was toilet cleaner.  I found several recipes online and this is the one I like best (so far!).

 

Homemade Toilet Cleaner

 

Homemade Toilet Cleaner

Ingredients

  • squirt bottle
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 t. liquid castille soap
  • squirt tea tree oil

Instructions

  1. Find a squirt bottle that will help you reach the underside of the toilet rim. I used an old floor cleaning bottle with the squirt hole enlarged so the baking soda wouldn’t clog it.
  2. Stir baking soda and water.
  3. Stir in castille soap and tea tree oil.
  4. Shake well before each use.
  5. *I let mine sit in the toilet for a few minutes before scrubbing.
http://justalittlebs.com/2012/09/13/homemade-toilet-cleaner/

 

 

Posted on September 13th, 2012 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

brave

I finally have time to write!  School has begun, house is in de-summerfying process, and life is slowly but surely returning to a less hectic routine (at least until school hours are over and -chauffeur-ing begins!).

And then…the unthinkable…my computer goes down.  🙁

So today I hijacked the hubby’s computer for a few moments to write down a few possibly (possibly not) coherent thoughts:

I have been contemplating the word “brave” lately.  It occurred to me last week when I decided (after much hemming and hawing) to finally attempt a homemade pie crust.  My mom always makes delicious homemade pies and I have wanted to attempt my own crust-making, but have found excuses not to for years.  It’s silly, right?  I mean, it’s pie.  Come on, Becky, what’s the big deal?!

And then I realized that the pie crust is really just a metaphor (I ‘member that word from my school days.) for trying new things.  I have a feeling that this occurs more and more with age, but as I am turning the big 4-0 next March and am not ready to face all of that just yet, I am just going to say that being busy with kids and life makes it harder and harder to try new things; to reach beyond the familiar; to be brave.

It is super easy to get mired into what is comfortable and worn…like sitting in the same spot on that cozy couch or pulling out the same faded sweatshirt.  Not that these are bad things!  Store- bought crusts and cozy couches and comfy sweatshirts certainly have their value in our lives (at least mine.)!  But it keeps our mind growing, our heart expanding, our soul thriving to seek out – and TRY – those new things.  New experiences, whether deemed successful or FAIL(ures) are important for continued growth and… being alive.

With all that said (or I supposed, “typed”), my cherry pie with homemade crust turned out…  wait for it…       GREAT!

My family LOVED it and it was gone within one day!  (And NOT just because I devoured it myself.)  Hooray!  And the peach pie I made this week turned out pretty yummy, too.  Who knew?!  But the success of the pies was not the reason for the happy dance performed shamelessly in the kitchen while covered with flour.  And those pies were not the reason for my overwhelming, soul-satisfying happiness that lasted…well, honestly it only lasted until the kids came home that day with their usual whining, aches, pains, and needs.  The reason I felt so light, so happy was because I took a chance.  I branched out of my all-too-cozy comfort zone and was… brave.

Thank you, Cherry Pie.  Thank you.

Posted on August 30th, 2012 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

St. Patrick’s Day Wreath

I have 2 beautiful front doors on my house.  They look especially lovely with wreaths hanging on them; however, I have no wreaths for this time of year and no money to buy new ones.  As I was looking on www.Pinterest.com for ideas for the kids on St. Patrick’s Day, I saw different wreaths made of fabric scraps and a wire hanger – both things I already have around the house!

Not only did I make 2 fun (FREE!) wreaths, but it also inspired me to clean the windows on my front doors:  a lovely bonus.

All you need for this craft is a wire hanger (1 per wreath), fabric scraps, tape, and time.

First, I unbent the wire hanger and formed it into a circle, taping (I used electrical tape.) the ends together.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle.

Next, I cut my fabric.  I used one old green t-shirt, one old romper from my high school days that I was holding onto for sentimental reasons (I REALLY loved it.), and random green fabric scraps.  I cut the pieces into roughly 1 in. wide x 5-6 in. long.  The t-shirt material I cut a bit shorter because when I tied it on, it stretched.

Then I tied the fabric onto the hanger.  I just tied it once, no knotting seemed necessary.  Because I was doing a pattern, it was easier and faster to put the material into piles in the order that I was tying them.  (Maybe this seems obvious to you, an intelligent crafter.  To me, it came halfway through the first wreath!)

After all your pieces are tied on, flip the wreath over and fluff.  Some of the wreaths on Pinterest had nice ribbon tied to them, but I didn’t have any on hand so I just tied together some extra fabric strips.

Voila!  Free wreaths!  …and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. 🙂

Posted on March 14th, 2012 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

My kids LOVE Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bars.  I like them as healthy-ish snacks, but they are so expensive (even with coupons) and they only last for 2 days in my house!  So I have been scouring the web, searching for a homemade recipe that is close enough to the original for my picky kiddos.

 

My first recipe turned out “too seedy,” “too nutty,” and “yucky” for the wee ones.  I liked them, but they were not the suitable replacement for which I was searching.  The second recipe was “too much honey,” “too hard,” and “yucky” for the hard-to-please angels in my house.  But I think the third time may be the charm! 

 

I just made the second batch of these granola goodies and am hearing responses like, “mmmm,” “yummm,” and “good.”  I think I even got a “Thanks, Mom.”  And I like them, too…bonus!  They still have quite a bit of sugar in them, but they don’t have preservatives and they last longer because I can make a bigger amount for less money.  (score!)

 

The website where I found the recipe (through Pinterest) is www.browneyedbaker.com.  I modified it just a bit to fit my family’s needs.  They are super easy to make and I always have these ingredients on hand!  I wrap mine in plastic wrap for easy “on-the-go” grabbing. 

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
  • 2 T. flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 T. mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir the oats, rice cereal, and flax seeds together and set aside.
  3. Melt sugar, honey, and butter in small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Press the mixture in the prepared pan and press down to ensure the ingredients are tightly compacted. Sprinkle the top evenly with chocolate chips and press down with spatula or back of a spoon.
  5. Cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or until chocolate chips are set before cutting bars. Wrap in plastic wrap or store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  6. Makes approximately 20 bars (depending on what size you cut them).
http://justalittlebs.com/2012/03/12/chewy-chocolate-chip-granola-bars/

Posted on March 12th, 2012 by LilBS  |  No Comments »