I am always on the lookout for low calorie, fast, simple, and tasty recipes – and this one is a winner. Fast, tasty, and flexible – use it to clean out the fridge and use up the odds and ends in your veggie drawer.
Why homemade? Because you know what’s in the recipe, there are generally no weird words included – and in many instances it’s much cheaper. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a bag of frozen popcorn chicken on hand. My goal is to balance a mostly homemade life with those days when you don’t have time to do anything but preheat the oven. I generally try to put a homemade meal on the table 80% of the time. Busy kids and a busy life mean the family dinner table is becoming extinct. I think it’s way to important to a healthy life – so we eat together every night. I’m flexible on time, but i’m not flexible on participation, if you’re home, you’re at the table.
I am a fan of coffee – specifically expensive fancy coffee – or Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. We don’t have a DD here – so it’s a Denver trip treat. Anyway, I just figured out a way to make my own Lattes that will save my pocketbook – and doesnt require me to put on my “nice” yoga pants & leave the house.
First the equipment. It does require a few things you might or might not have. Investment is small to get going, and in the long run at $5 a cup – you’ll make up the cost in no time.
Stainless Steel Stovetop Expresso Maker
I have a Primula Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso maker ($25 for the 4cup variety at Amazon) – I had an aluminum Bialetti but it gets all funky in the bottom from the aluminum reacting with the heat/liquid so I had to go to Stainless. Worth the slight difference in price. Mine looks like the silver pot in the pic above
A lot of us have one of these collecting dust in the back of a cabinet. Dig that puppy out – you’re going to learn a new way to use it! I have an inexpensive Bodum model from target that looks like the orange one in the pic
So here’s what you do – make an espresso, 2 shots is my fave
In your cup add about 2 Tbsp of your favorite flavoring syrup. I love vanilla bean flavoring and make my own using this recipe from HowSweetEats.com. You can also buy this from the store but it gets a tiny bit spendy when you drink as much coffee as I do.
While your espresso is perking, warm some milk on the stovetop to very warm, but not boiling….then follow this brilliant video by Sam Hewitt on Youtube – make it as frothy as you like – its up to you:
If your house (and kid) is anything like mine – Ranch Dressing is a major component in getting vegetables down the hatch. My son will only eat a salad with ranch dressing, and only eat raw veggies if dunked in ranch dressing…..the problem is – Hidden Valley Ranch in the bottle from the grocery is gross, and litehouse Ranch is awesome, but expensive.
If I’m a with it mom that week, I have a packet to make ranch from, but I’m usually NOT that “with it” – so I came up with this fast & easy Ranch Dressing recipe that pleases the kiddos and is made from mostly pantry staples. They’re staples in my fridge/pantry – probably in yours too.
Fast & Simple Ranch Dressing
- 1 C Mayonnaise can use light or fat free if you want
- 1/3 C Milk
- 1 Tbsp Vinegar
- 1 Tsp Dried Parsley
- 1/2 tsp. Dried Dill Weed
- 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
- 1/8 tsp Salt more to taste
- 1/8 tsp Pepper more to taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with your immersion blender or a whisk, refrigerate and enjoy!
I’m a big fan of Baby Back Ribs and Pulled Pork. I cant say I’ve every traveled anywhere that’s known for it’s BBQ like Memphis or Kansas City – but I do make a killer slab of ribs.
In my opinion – ribs start with a good dry rub recipe. You decide if you want to baste on BBQ sauce or not – sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t – I do have a tried and true technique tho – if you’re wondering how to cook ribs on the grill!
BBQ Dry Rub
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar packed
- 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp black pepper
Mix all of this together in a mason jar and store in a dark place.
If you don't have smoked paprika, just double up on the regular paprika.
If you don't like your ribs a bit spicy - leave out the cayenne or cut back on it a bit. My husband doesnt think this rub is spicy, and he has a wimpy palate 🙂
I use about 1/4 of this recipe on one slab of baby back or St. Lous style ribs.
This easy potato salad recipe was given to me by a very good friend and retired dairy farmer. She always had to cook for a crowd during harvest time. My church now uses this recipe as a “go to” recipe when we have large gatherings. It makes a huge batch but you can cut it in half for smaller groups or families. You can also use lite salad dressing and it doesn’t seem to harm the taste. I hope you will try it the next time you go to a BBQ or large gathering. I have tossed my own old family recipe in favor of this. It just plain tastes better!
Easy Potato Salad
- 10 lbs cooked, peeled, and diced potatoes
- 1 Doz. hard boiled eggs diced
- Dill pickles to taste diced
- 1 Qt. salad dressing like Miracle Whip
- Small amount of pickle juice to help with dryness
- Morton's Natures Seasoning salt add too taste. (Takes the place of salt & pepper)
Mix all together in a large bowl. This will feed approximately 50 people.
I have always hated cleaning windows until I accidentally stumbled on this idea for a streak free cleaner. Actually it’s been a work in progress for about 50 years.
Many many years ago my dad had a gas station, you know the kind where you hire high school boys to pump gas and wash windshields. In Minnesota there are lots of bugs that get smashed on the windows as you drive down the road and they leave a film on the windows. Customers complained that the boys were using greasy rags to clean the windows, then one day dad put a few drops of Joy dish detergent in the water they used and suddenly there were no more complaints. From there on we used water and a very very small amount of dish detergent to wash windows. It was good but you had to wipe and wipe with clean dry paper towels to prevent the streaks, especially in humid climates.
Then my DH told me that he always used windshield washer fluid to wash windows, it works well because it dries fast. That’s OK, but I still wanted the soap to cut grease and grime. So this is what I now use and anything that can streak and is not wood. Mirrors, granite counter tops, bathroom sinks, TVs, and it works especially well on my terrazzo tile floors that drive me crazy with streaks if you use any kind of floor cleaning product on them. It works just like any all-purpose cleaning product, spray a little on and wipe it dry. Cleans, disinfects, and drys fast streak free. As an added bonus it is cheap, cheap, cheap!
In a 1 qt. (32 oz) spray bottle mix:
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup regular rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol 50%)
- 1/2 teasp. ULTRA dish detergent (I prefer Dawn & Joy)
Screw on the sprayer and go to work…