Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Homemade Fritos!


Yes Virginia, you can make your own fritos-type corn chips. Do they taste exactly like fritos? No. Are they super easy? I think so. Can I feel good about consuming all of the ingredients in homemade fritos? YES! One of the things we try to stay away from is corn or any corn derivative  in food products because it's most likely a GMO. I know the GMO debate is a touchy subject, but we try to avoid it in my house. That means that items we would normally just buy (like Fritos) I try not to because of the potential of the GMO corn.  

These were fairly simple to make, they make a good corn-y tasting chip and they take 4 ingredients. I made them today and used them in frito pie for our lunch. now, sometimes when I make frito pie 2 things happen: 1) it can seem really salty because of the commercial fritos and 2) the fritos seem to dissapear into a soggy mass of congealed chips. Some people may like that, and more power to ya, but I don't.

Like I siad, I used these today and they not only kept their shape, they also added a delightful polenta type flavor to the dish. It was good and my kids LOVED it.

You may not want to make these every time you want to snack on a chip, but they would be good for dipping guacamole, salsa or bean dip for something fairly healthy and special.

I found the recipe here, but I changed the directions to suit me a little better.

Homemade Fritos

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon oil

Put the cornmeal and salt into a bowl; pour the boiling water over the cornmeal. Stir really well and add the oil. Stir to combine. At this point, I felt like the dough was a little too thin, so I added some more cornmeal, a teaspoon at a time, until I had a fairly stiff dough. I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper and put the dough on that. Then, I put a piece of wax paper on top of the dough so I could roll it without the doough sticking to my rolling pin. I rolled it out to about 1/8 inch thick, then I cut it into frito shaped pieces. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Yes, it takes some effort. No, they don't taste exactly like a frito.

I think they taste better, like actual corn, but that's just me. You'll have to make them and see for yourself! :)


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Easy and Delicious Oatmeal Cake

As part of our homeschooling curriculum this year, my oldest is learning some very basic homekeeping/home ec skills. Basically, she is taught how to do a new homekeeping skill every week and is expected to perform that skill during her chore times. These can be bed making, folding laundry, sweeping, dusting, etc. She is learning to sew, crochet, embroider and cross stitch. And cook. I expect all of my girls to not only know how to cook, but to be comfortable in the kitchen cooking, baking, canning and dehydrating. To me, these are important life skills.

Once a week, my little woman in the making is required to work with me and make a recipe for the family. It can be a snack, side dish or dessert. It doesn't really matter what we cook, it matters to me that she is learning to measure properly, use kitchen utensils safely, follow directions and have a good time doing it. :)

Last week she wanted to make dessert and I had seen an oatmeal cake that looked super easy. It had a simple frosting that was cooked on the stovetop, then spread on the cake and broiled. Aha! I though, it would be good for her to see how fast things cook under the broiler, so we made the cake.

It is fabulous. So good, in fact that we ate it all before I even thought about getting a picture. So, instead of seeing my picture, I'm going to include the link where I saw the cake and you can go see her pictures.
I hope you make this cake, it is a one bowl cake. I think these are sometimes called "Lazy Daisy" cakes, but I'm not sure. Next time, I will be adding some chocolate chips to the frosting and some carrot and zucchini to the cake itself. It really reminded me of a carrot cake in flavor and texture. Such a good, simple, wholesome cake. Oh, and I made it with whole wheat flour and no one was the wiser :)

Oatmeal Cake

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup oatmeal (I used old fashioned)
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour

Measure oats into a bowl and pour the boiling water over. Add the butter and let sit until the butter melts. Add everything else and mix well. Pout into a 9x1 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Coconut Walnut Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk or cream
1-2 cups shredded coconut (adjust to suit your tastes)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix butter, sugar and evaporated milk together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil (and stir) until the mixture gets thick. She says it takes her about 4 minutes, it took me about 3 1/2, so just keep an eye on it. Stir in the coconut, walnuts and vanilla and spread onto warm cake. Put it under the broiler until the coconut gets toasted.

That's it. It couldn't be easier and so, so good.

I think you should make this today. And maybe tomorrow too. :)


Just a reminder, I have a Yoplait Kids Giveaway going on here AND there are still a couple coupons left for free yogurt here . Go check them out if you haven't already!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yoplait Kids Review and Giveaway




















Yoplait Kids yogurt is a snack you can feel good about giving your kids! It has no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors. And to top it all off, it has 25% less sugar than the leading kids yogurt. Dare I add that it is also an excellent source of vitamin D and calcium?

These come in three great flavors: Strawberry, Strawberry Banana and Vanilla. Kids love their cartoons, and these come with some great ones to choose from, you can pick up a 4 pack with Dora, Lightning McQueen from the movie "Cars" or the Disney Princesses. My girls were THRILLED to have their Princesses on the cups of yogurt. They were fun and they thought they tasted great.



I was given the chance to review Yoplait Kids yogurt and and the prize pack above. My girls LOVED the scavenger hunt game and the bracelets. I LOVED the spoons, they are easy to grip and such fun colors.

Now for the good part. If you would like to receive a prize pack like the one shown, all you need to do is share with me one of the ways your kids (or you!) snack healthy. I will leave the drawing open until midnight March 27th. I will draw a winner and announce it ON THIS POST Monday, March 28th.

Good Luck!


Congratulations #5 Marie! Please email me at cookesfrontier@yahoo.com with your mailing address!


*Now for the fine print: This giveaway is open to residents of the US. This prize pack was provided to me by Yoplait through My Blog Spark, however the opinions expressed are ALWAYS mine. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies and Chocolate Milk

I have 2 recipes today! Woohoo! I'm trying to make up for my lack of, well.....anything for the last couple of days. Oh, and tomorrow's recipe? AMA-zing. Don't forget to come back for that :)

First up: Peanut Butter Cookie


1 cup shortening ( I use 1/2 shortening, 1/2 butter)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour

Cream shortening and peanut butter; add sugars and beat well. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well. Mix in the flour. Roll into walnut shaped balls and place on a cookie sheet. Press the dough balls down with a fork making a criss-cross pattern and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on how crisp you like them. Let cool on a wire rack.

And to wash it all down:



How about some chocolate milk? I saw this recipe  almost a year ago and never got around to making it. It makes Hershey's Syrup. I'm not joking. It tastes EXACTLY like the Hershey's Syrup that used to come in the can you had to puncture with a can opener...and it's so good.

We've had it over ice cream, over brownies and ice cream, in chocolate milk.....and it stays good for a while in the fridge.

Let's go!

Hershey's Style Syrup

1 cup cocoa (I used the special dark)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hot water

Mix it all together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let boil for 3 minutes. Take it off the heat and add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Use it hot for hot cocoa, or put it into a glass jar (it makes about a pint) and let it cool in the fridge. It gets quite a bit thicker as it cools, so keep that in mind.

So there you are, I supplied the ideas for snack time tomorrow. :)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's Been a Year Already!


You know what I realized today? This blog is a whole year old. March 3rd, 2010 I wrote my very first blog entry.

The day came and went and I never thought twice about it.

How sad is that? I forgot my own anniversary. Oops!

Let's Celebrate!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY COOKE'S FRONTIER!!!!

Thank you for sharing this past year with me. Thank you for your encouragement, love, comments and most of all, THANK YOU for being here day after day.

I love sharing what we are doing, what I am cooking, how my garden is growing. I love sharing it with all of you. I could not have asked for a better first year.

Are you wondering about the picture on the top of the post yet?

That's my house. That's where this wonderful, chaotic, beautiful, crazy, happy, sad, AMAZING life of mine happens. It has been a pleasure to let each and every one of you come in and visit this year.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope I see you again soon.

The door is always open.

Charley

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Minty Grasshopper Pie

*I'm re-running this recipe because it is one of the most searched for on my blog. The fact that it's green doesn't hurt either. This would be great for St Patrick's Day dessert. Oh, it's also really, really good :)*



Hello, Beautiful.

Minty Grasshopper Pie.
Delicious.

I was looking for a recipe that I used to make that had sweetened condensed milk in it when I happened upon this website.
 Oh, how much time I wasted there. And how many recipes I emailed to myself.

Here is the recipe:
adapted from the Eagle Brand website

1-8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1-14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
(I used mint, I'm not sure why it would call for peppermint when it's a mint pie, but whatever. I'm not a peppermint fan, so use whichever you think you would like best.)
3 or 4 drops of green food coloring (I used a lot more than that)
16 fudge mint cookies
1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
1-6 oz prepared chocolate pie crust

Directions:

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy in a large bowl; gradually mix in sweetened condensed milk until smooth.



Here is where I should have mixed this all up until smooth and then added the food coloring and cookies and mixed those in.
But no, I thought I knew better than the directions.
I mixed the food coloring in with the mixer, which is fine:



But then I made my mistake and added the cookies with the whipped cream,




And I had to stir too much to get the cookies mixed in. It deflated my whipped topping a little and made the final product a little looser than it would have normally been.
Think scoop-able instead of slice-able.
But still delicious.

Anyway, next step;




Pour the mixture into a chocolate cookie crumb pie shell. I used a store bought one because I was in a rush today, but next time I will definitely make my own.

Filled:




Now chill it for at least 4 hours.

The recipe just said to garnish with chocolate shavings, extra cookie pieces or mint leaves, but I had extra whipped cream so I did this:




This was a perfectly satisfying, minty fresh dessert. Everyone from the babies to the adults liked it and I saved it for my recipe box.
Like I said though, be careful about the whipped topping. I stirred mine too much and it wasn't the firm texture I expected after 4 hours.
But it was delicious.




Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Favorite Homeschool Resources (Part 1)

I thought on this s-l-o-w Saturday I would share some places that I have found that have great free or really cheap homeschool resources. Now, if you don't homeschool I don't want you to immediately dismiss this post. If you have kids, or know someone who does, these resources are great! They have so many fun things to do that just keep the learning going on and on, well after the school day or school year have ended.

Amazing Handwriting Worksheet Maker is my first favorite place. You can design, customize and print out handwriting worksheets for free. You can have them practice writing their name, a letter or word or even a phrase. They have a few different styles of handwriting to choose from as well.

Starfall a wonderful, interactive early reading/new reader resource. The girls love to play the "games" and they don't even notice that they are learning. It is a phonics-based reading program and has ABC learning, Learning to read, It's fun to read, and I'm reading sections. I love it.

BrightHub is a great place to find whole lesson plans on almost any variety of subjects. Some of them have been a little sparse and I needed to add bulk to them, but they are a great starting point and some of the lesson plans have been amazing! I haven't searched for a topic yet on here and not found at least one lesson plan.

Lapbook Lessons I love lapbooking! I was introduced to it by a wonderful lady (Hi Deanna!) and I haven't looked back. The Little House in the Big Woods lapbook is a great place to start. My girls are in love with the Little House books now and having a fun activity to go along with the book is great. Lapbooking is really nice for kids who are having a hard time concentrating on a task. Plus, when it's all done you have it for years to come to remind your student about the important points in the book. So in love with this type of homeschooling. Try it, I bet you like it :)

Nature Detectives This is a UK based website, but it has tons of ideas for outdoor exploration. You really have to go to the website and see all of the ideas that they have for yourself, because I can't do it justice by simply explaining it. Fantastic resource for making your nature walks a learning experience.

Ambleside Online Love, Love, Love this place. Charlotte Mason style learning with a HUGE resource of living books. I love that they use books that are not dumbed down for our kids. If children 50 years ago were reading these books then my kids can too. Let's not underestimate our children's ability to learn from, read and enjoy good literature. They have lesson plans and great ideas for the new, middle or seasoned homeschooler. I think this is one of my most favorite finds in terms of usefulness. This is what I had dreamed of when I wanted to homeschool and it was great to find a resource that had it all there. A great starting point if you want to see what the Charlotte Mason style is all about!

PE Central when I asked my sister (who is a health and fitness teacher for high school) where to get some ideas for fun PE activities for my girls, she turned me onto this site. I know, I know PE should be easy.....let's go outside and play! But my girls go outside and play all the time and I was looking for some structured activities that had a specific goal. I like this site because you can look up activity by age/grade and they are all there for you. Ideas that are specifically for that age group and the objectives, rules, adaptations, etc are right there as well. Great for ideas for winter/rainy day inside PE activities.

Lastly, Homeschool Freebie of the Day I have downloaded SO MANY free things off of here since I signed up for the newsletter a couple months ago. Oh my goodness. You join the email list, they send you an email Sunday afternoon and it outlines all of the freebies for that week. You go to the site on the days you are interested in and BOOM! download free resources and go on your way. There hasn't been a week yet that I haven't been interested in at least 1 or 2 things. It's amazing. They are also on Facebook if you want to check out their page there.

That's my first installment of what I love. There are so many good resources, I'm sure I haven't even scratched the surface yet. If you have a favorite site would you share?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Homemade Fabric Freshener

Ok, let me start out by saying that I don't like the fabric freshener that you can buy. I like what it does, but I don't like paying for it, I don't like how strongly it can smell and I don't like the ingredients on the back that I can't pronounce or even identify. So, I did a little research and took a few recipes, mashed them together and came up with something that I really like.
While this may not "attack the odor causing molecules and destroy them", it will neutralize some odors and leave things with a nice scent.

Here is my recipe:

1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup white distilled vinegar
10-20 drops essential oil (you can get that at a craft store where they sell candle or soap making supplies)

I buy some empty spray bottles, pour in the alcohol, vinegar and fragrance and then fill the rest of the way with water. The vinegar will neutralize the odor, the alcohol carries the scent and evaporates almost immediately. I have found it to work quite well for getting wet dog smell off my couch or just freshening the wintertime air in my house.
Also, I have replaced the rubbing alcohol with cheap vodka and it works just as well.

Next up: Window Cleaner

I'm probably telling you something you already know, but making window cleaner at home is cheap, cheap, cheap and it works better (in my humble opinion).

Simply take a spray bottle and fill it 1/2 full with rubbing alcohol and the rest of the way with white vinegar. Spray on your windows and wipe off with crumpled up newspaper for the cleanest, streak free windows ever.

My last one for today is a spray to keep mildew from building up in your shower. Mix 2 cups of water with 1/2 to 3/4 cup white vinegar and add a squirt of liquid dish soap. Spray this on the walls, tub surround and shower certain to prevent mold and mildew.

Gee, maybe I should have called this post "101 ways to use white vinegar and rubbing alcohol"! LOL

These have worked with great success for me, and they have helped me to keep a little more money in my pocket. I also love them because they use things that aren't super toxic and scary and I usually have around the house anyway.

Let me know if you try one, I'd like to hear what you think!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Wheat Thins


I saw these wheat thins on Tracy's Culinary Adventures after a friend posted it on facebook. I had made her graham crackers before, but never these. So, I had to try them.

I don't know if it is just me, or if my tastes have changed, but the Wheat Thins that I have bought in the last year or so have tasted strange to me. Almost like they were a little moldy. I don't know how to explain it, and like I said it could just be me, but I was really excited to try these and see how they turned out.

They are so good! Very wheat-y, you can decide how salty you want them and it makes a ton. All of those make for a winner in my book. These are really simple, although I have seen them on a couple blogs where they make them sound a lot harder than they are.


Homemade Wheat Thins

1 1/4 cups wheat flour
1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix wheat, sugar, salt and paprika in a bowl and mix. Cut the butter up in cubes and cut it into the flour. Add the water and vanilla and mix until a smooth ball forms. Lightly flour your cutting board and roll out 1/4 of the dough about 1/16 inch thick. Keep the ramaining dough under a towel so it doesn't dry out. Cut into cracker sized pieces and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (I sprayed mine with non stick spray and it was just fine).  Place crackers onto cookie sheets and sprinkle with more salt if desired. Bake about 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. They tend to brown up quickly, so watch those little babies. I let mine cool on a cooling rack and then put them in a resealable bag.



Now you can make these whenever you want and flavor them however you want. I'm thinking that some sundried tomato powder and parmesan pulsed in the blender would make a really good sprinkling for these. I'll have to try them and let you know how they are!

If you make these, please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of them :)



Sunday, March 6, 2011

Did You Guess This?

We went and got her last night:



Isn't she lovely?

And here is a close up of Lil Mister:



I milked her this morning......and didn't get much. But, Lil Mister there was feasting when I got there to milk, so we'll separate them tonight and I should get more milk in the morning.

I'll keep you updated about

"Days Of Our Dairy"




Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hint, Hint

I'm gonna give you a couple hints about what I'm getting today. I'm getting something new! And Exciting! And, well....different!

Are you paying attention?



Here is your first clue:

It eats.

Here's your second clue:

It poops.

And the third clue:

It has legs.

Think you know what it is? Leave me a comment!

I'll post pictures tomorrow :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Quick Question

What would your ideal, dream home be? An apartment in the city? A house on a quiet street in a city suburb? A farm or ranch? A tiny cabin in the woods 100 miles from your nearest neighbor?

I ask because I am trying to decide what my "dream" would be, or if there is even such a thing. Is there an ideal place to live or once you get there does your dream change?

I know I want a few things, more room for one. I want a barn, I want chickens and pigs and cows. I want a large garden space and fruit trees. Berries would be nice. I've always wanted a log house, maybe someday I could see one built with logs from my own property!

I would LOVE to have an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor oven. That would be amazing. Bread and pizza right out of a brick oven powered by wood fire. So delicious....

I have a lot of things I would love to have, a few that would be nice and a couple I could live without. It's a nice way to spend a windy, rainy afternoon thinking about, to picture in your mind what you would have if you could tailor build a homesite to your exact specifications. I know some people get to do that, but I don't think I will ever be one of them, LOL

So, tell me~ What would your perfect home be like?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

MIA

Well, here I am again. I just don't seem to be doing very well keeping up around here right now. That's no fun for anyone is it? I enjoy writing on here everyday, it's kind of like therapeutic for me, relaxing and creative at the same time.
Spring is just around the corner and it seems like we keep getting busier and busier. We are finishing up our remodel, we hope to be all done with the house by sometime this summer. Our garden is going to be big this year, have I mentioned that before? ;) We are looking forward to providing ourselves with the fruits and vegetables that our family needs for the next year or so. It's a tall order, but one that is important to us.
I'm getting ready to place my order for my grain grinder and some wheat. This is a new step for me! I'm already baking all of our bread so I figure that I may as well grind my flour as well. It will be fresher and I'm finding that buying organic wheat berries is going to cost me about what we are paying for flour now. I think it's a good deal, and it will be a good project for me.
Our hens are still not showing any inclination to lay any eggs. They are going to get a stiff talking to and the threat of the stew pot if they don't straighten up and get busy.
This Saturday we are going to pick up something! It's a surprise! I'm so excited and if things all go like planned, I will be able to share it with you on Sunday. I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures :)
School is still going along. We have a new schedule for the house so between 9-1:00 we have set school hours and are just flying through our curriculum. This summer when it gets hot, we'll probably change that so we have more school in the afternoons so we can work in the garden and such while it's still cool-ish in the mornings. We started reading the "Little House" series of books and my girls are hooked! They beg for me to read more and are so disappointed when we have to stop. It makes me happy, they were some of my favorite books when I was little and it pleases me that they are enjoying them as well.
Enough ramblings, it's time to get busy around here. I hope you all have a wonderful day!