Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning!

It’s that time...time to pack away the coats, plant some flowers and freshen up our interior spaces. As you know I try to protect my dog from as many chemicals as I can. It is debatable as to the findings of the non-natural floor wipes and potential harm to an animal’s health. I found this product at Akin’s. It is a disposable floor wipe by Wipex. It fits the Swiffer mop and works just the same, but it leaves a fresh herbal sent and I do not have to worry about the cleaning liquid harming Dash’s health. 

I hope you find this product as helpful as I have.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peanut-Free No Bake Cookies

Recently I joined the peanut allergy club. I was amazed at the number of foods on my grocery list that harbor peanuts! Worst of all, my husband loves peanuts. If you have followed many of my recipes you will know many of them include peanuts. So, from now on I either choose to make baked goods for everyone else or work around the peanuts. 
My husband and I love no bake cookies so much...though I hate to admit it...we have even placed a hot pad under the sauce pan, tossed in some spoons and cleaned out the contents in front of the T.V. Yes, that is horrible, but I will say it only happens about once a year. But what’s not to love about these cookies? They are easy, no oven required, and they taste incredible! So if you are making them for your family or the neighborhood cookout here is the recipe my mom and I used to make when I was a kid, but with a very important substitute.
You will need:
  • 2 c. sugar 
  • 1/2 c. cocoa
  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 3 c. oatmeal
  • 1/2 c. crunchy soy nut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, butter and salt. Bring to a boil on your range in a heat-safe pot. Reduce heat and stir in soy butter, vanilla an oatmeal. Drop tablespoon sized cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Chill to serve quickly or let stand for a couple hours at room temperature. Yields about 30 cookies.
Important notes:
These are not healthy! I substitute low-fat, low-calorie options where ever I can...milk, oatmeal, butter, etc. 
Using fat free milk or soy milk and soy butter impedes the process of the cookies setting up properly. This version is stickier than the original. I don’t know about you, but I could care less.
The difference in taste is minimal, but I added slightly more flavoring to mask the sharper taste of the soy.
Almond butter would make another substitute for peanut butter, but could be cross contaminated. Check to see whether it is manufactured in a peanut-free facility.  
I made these while exploring a gluten free diet. Though some people lump oats into gluten, others do not. Just check the back of your ingredients to make sure the brands you chose do not include wheat, barley or rye. If you are truly going gluten free you can find much more information regarding other names gluten sometimes masks as.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Painting Easter Eggs

As we all scurry around for our last minute Easter plans: dinner menus, egg-hunts, Easter dresses, I wanted to share an idea with you that could potentially fill a few things on your to-do list. Whether it is a gift, a kid activity or just your own decoration I will walk you through a simple way I like to paint eggs. I do not remember exactly where this idea came from other than I needed a virtually no-cost canvas to sell a lower priced option with my paintings at art shows.  
First, you will need to tap a small hole in both ends of an egg. I use a pointy steak knife, but a nail would work also. Just remember to be very gentle...this is not the “kid” part of this project. Cover the first hole with your finger as you create the second hole. Covering both holes shake the egg to break the yoke. Now place a bowl beneath the egg and blow. Actually, blow hard. This part always hurts my ears. I suggest you use the egg in an edible dish afterward, but if you are going to discard it anyway you may want to use one of those snot-sucking tools parents have for infants to remove the innards of the egg.
You will need:
  • Blown egg (rinsed, cleaned and dried)
  • Bowl for dying
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush
  • Spray paint sealant 

Mix food color, water, and a teaspoon to a tablespoon of vinegar in a shallow, clear bowl. The amount of dye and water are subject to the intensity of the color you want and of course, the more liquid the more vinegar you would need. Submerge a portion of the egg into the dye water. Hold the egg in place for about two minutes. Rest your finger on the edge of the bowl to stabilize your hand. If you need a break remove the egg and then dip it again. If you are using a glass bowl similar to the one I chose you should be able to realign the edges with little effort. Do not worry about getting the edge can paint over it.
Make sure you have a paper towel to blot the excess colored water upon removing the egg. You want to be careful that none of the color runs over the white part. 
Take a small paintbrush and paint a lining around the edge of the colored area.
This is where I leave you to create your own masterpiece. I like to paint little springtime scenes and additional ribbon-like details on my eggs. Google “Easter” and “Springtime” images on your computer for some ideas if you need some inspiration.
When you are finished spray a coat of paint sealant over the egg. You can find this spray in your local craft store in the painting section.