Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fluffy Waffles

After years of eating those awful frozen toaster waffles, The Hubs bought me a Belgium waffle maker that flips, and I flipped over having it! Yay! No more cardboard waffles!
Thus began the search for the perfect waffle batter!  First, I tried my pancake (from scratch) recipe, but it just didn't turn out the way I wanted. Then I tried some commercial pancake & waffle mixes from a box. Eh, they were okay, but still left something lacking.
Finally, I turned to Bisquick (I use the Heart Healthy mix)...and they turned out too heavy when I used the recipe from the box.
So, I began playing around with different combinations using Bisquick, and this is what I've come up with that has made my family LOVE waffles again!

2 cups Bisquick Heart Healthy mix
1-1/2 cups skim milk
2 Tbsp melted butter, the real thing
1 whole egg
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
2 Tbsp fat free sour cream


Whisk all together and cook on a hot, oiled waffle maker or waffle iron.

Hint: If you have a waffle maker that has a non-stick surface, I recommend that you do NOT use cooking sprays, as over time they will ruin the non-stick properties.  I use Canola oil, applying it with a silicone brush I found at The Dollar Tree (Betty Crocker brand).

Don't forget to make some Simple, Homemade Syrup to top off those yummy waffles!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Chipotle Sausage Cornbread Casserole

About 14 years ago I was given a recipe for Corn Dog Casserole by a friend at church in Oklahoma, and I've made it many times since then. Today, I decided to give it a new kick!
The Chipotle sausage gives this dish an interesting, rustic flavor that's more sophisticated than plain ol' hot dogs.

1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 T butter
1 package (12 oz.) Johnsonville Chipotle flavor Chicken Sausage
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 packages Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 cup (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400° F. You will need a shallow 3 quart baking dish or a oven-safe skillet.
In the skillet, saute celery in butter for 10 minutes. Set aside in a small bowl.
Cut the sausages into long slices or "coins", whichever you prefer. In the same skillet you used before, saute the sausages for 5 minutes or until lightly browned; put the celery back into the skillet, and mix.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sage and pepper. Stir in the corn bread mix. Add the shredded cheese.
Pour batter over the sausage mixture.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Kitchen Pantry Organization

Today I decided to tackle another project in the Kitchen Organization challenge: The Pantry.


When I decided to take on the challenge of getting the house organized a bit better, I started in the kitchen not because it needed it the most, but rather since it's the "hub of the home" and everyone is in and out of my kitchen all the time!
The kitchen pantry has been an on-going project for me. First, I replaced the ugly, old brown door with the 70's builder-grade door knob with a paneled, white door and a glass door knob! Check out my post about that part of the project HERE.

Last summer, I purchased a shoe organizer from Bed, Bath & Beyond for the inside of the pantry door. (I wanted something non-permanent that would not require drilling or nails.) That has kept me sane with all the little things that typically get lost in the abyss inside the pantry.  See how nicely it holds small boxes, packets of seasoning, etc.?
 A few months ago, I started picking up plastic containers at Walmart for all of our dry goods, like pastas, baking items, etc. and it's been working out very well. The squared shape and the choice of sizes that stack together make good use of the space.


We have a high shelf that requires me to use a step-stool, so I only keep items up there that I don't have to access on a daily basis. (Or I ask a taller person to please retrieve them for me!)
Next is the breakfast and cereal shelf, with a handy hanging rack for the bread, bagels, etc. Keeps them from being squished.
Baking shelf is next; under that is the Pasta and Rice. Everything that is not in it's original packing is labeled.
The last shelf is my adult daughter's...'nuf said.

Finally, on the floor of the pantry, I keep my bread machine, since it won't fit anywhere else; the big jug of honey we buy at the Farmer's Market; a plastic basket for potatoes; and other tall items.
Now, I know you are asking me where all the canned goods are?  In the garage on a portable rolling shelf, of course! And the rest of my "mini-stockpile" is kept in our walk-in closet/ dressing room: TP, Kleenex, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, cleaning supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste...More on those areas in another post!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Simple, Homemade Pancake Syrup

Weekend breakfasts in our home are a tradition that goes back to my childhood.  You see, normal weekday breakfasts are usually dry cereal and milk...maybe a slice of toast. Some people actually skip breakfast altogether. (Not me!)


I've been buying pancake syrup for years (with a coupon, of course!), but recently I started reminiscing about my mom's warm, homemade pancake syrup, so today I decided to try my hand at replicating it (without a recipe!)


  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid butter flavoring


Put the water and sugars ingredients into a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve. Turn on the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high...enough to it still boils but won't boil over. Boil and stir for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the maple flavoring and butter flavoring.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. {I usually pour it into a heatproof bowl and stir it to assist the cooling process.}
Pour warm syrup over hot pancakes.

I recommend pouring the cooled syrup into a clean mason jar, refrigerating the syrup for up to 2 weeks. If it starts to crystallize, just sit the jar into a pot of warm water.
This syrup is also good drizzled over vanilla ice cream!



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kitchen Organization Time

Recently, I came across "A Bowl Full of Lemons" Home Organization 101, and thought I'd give it a try.
Today, I actually started on Week 1, "The Kitchen"!
(Go HERE to see Toni's Blog.)

I made a pretty good start on it, by emptying all the lower cabinets, cleaning them, putting shelf contact paper on (ugh, that was a chore in itself!), and putting things back neatly.  I was also able to complete 5 of the 7 drawers!


Well, I guess I keep a fairly clean kitchen, because it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Go me!
And I like the look of the shelf contact paper, but I absolutely DISLIKE putting it into cabinets. I wrestled with it, and got the job done, but it was not fun.  If your shelves are removable, I think it will be much easier for you.
Finally, I've also been doing fairly well in purging out stuff that I don't use or is old and worn out, so there was very little to toss.

All of this is in preparation for getting the paint onto our cabinets, hopefully in July (when we return from our next trip to Colorado to see our newest Granddaughter, Faith!)


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Easy, Classic 3-Cheese Lasagna

The key to this lasagna is: stick to the basics, and plan ahead!  That's it...it's a classic recipe that you can make ahead to put into the freezer, or make in the morning so it's ready to pop into the oven.

I recently made this recipe at my daughter's house; we put it into a disposable pan and into the freezer.  It's a good thing, too since her baby came just a few days later!  When the day came to cook it, I simply thawed it  in the fridge for a day, and then baked it as usual.

15 oz Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb ground beef (I used 90/10 Ground Sirloin)
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasonings (Mrs. Dash has a good one!)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1 can or jar of spaghetti sauce (about 23-26 oz)
8 lasagna noodles, dry
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (8 oz)

Spray the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish (or disposable foil pan is okay).
Crumble and cook the ground beef in a large skillet, along with the Italian seasonings and garlic powder. Drain off fat, if necessary. Add the spaghetti sauce and heat together.
Mix together the Ricotta and parmesan cheeses in a small bowl. Set aside.
Spread 1/3 of the spaghetti sauce mixture over the bottom of the baking dish.
Put 4 dry lasagna noodles over sauce, press down a bit, but don't break the noodles.
Next, spread 1 cup of the Ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles; sprinkle with 1 cup of the Mozzarella.
Repeat procedure: 1/3 Sauce; 4 Noodles: remaining Ricotta; remaining Mozzarella; Finish off by topping with remaining sauce.
Cover tightly with foil. (This keeps the moisture in, and helps cook the dry noodles.)

If desired, freeze for up to 1 month OR place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours OR cook immediately.
When ready to cook, heat oven to 350° F, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until noodles are done.
Let cool 15 minutes before serving. Cut into 12 generous portions.

I generally serve this with thick slices of garlic bread and a fresh green salad.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sweet Grandbaby Faith

I've been off the grid for a few weeks now, because I drove from Idaho to Colorado to witness the birth of my youngest daughter's first baby!

Welcome baby Faith....



It's been a thrill being here! I arrived one week before Faith made her appearance, and I was blessed to be in the delivery room and help my daughter bring this precious life into the world.  Her fantastic hubby is the best "hands-on" daddy I have ever seen...his new moniker is "Super Dad"!
Just 2 days after Faith was born, they closed on the purchase of their first home! Wow, talk about whirlwind!  We moved them in a week later with the much-appreciated help of Super Dad's Army friends. 

I have a long drive home starting tomorrow, and it will be bittersweet...I'm anxious about getting back to my Loving Hubs, our older daughter and her little girl "KyBear", but sad about leaving this sweet little Colorado family.

Luckily, I will be again blessed in just a few weeks...Hubs and I will be returning to Colorado so that "Papa" can hold this sweet baby girl in his arms, too.
Blessings, Grandma Juju