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the haas machine: March 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wheat Crackers

My friend Holly is in the middle of a life-changing food experiment to stop eating foods that contain GMO's (genetically modified organisms) because they are terrible for us (read Holly's blog here). Have you heard about GMO's? Do you realize how they are in almost everything processed we eat? Here's just a quick sample of some popular GMO's:
  • Aspartame
  • Sodium Ascorbate
  • Vitamin C
  • Sodium Citrate
  • "Natural or Artificial Flavor"
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
  • Lactid Acid
  • Malodextrin
  • Molasses (non-organic)
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Sucrose
  • Xantham Gum
I encourage you to check out this site that gives way more detailed information on GMO's than I could begin to list here. They have an incredible list of products are are known to contain GMO's (yes, even some that are marketed as "natural"), those without GMO's & best of all, they have an app that you can download, because if you're anything like me, you have a hard time keeping things straight in your head.

Our food industry is in a lot of trouble & I think a lot of people just don't want to deal with it or don't have the resources to, so they continue to eat foods & feed foods to their families that are filled with toxic junk. Companies especially know how to target people that are low-income, have kids, & those with addictions (McDonalds is known to put addictive ingredients into their products) so that they can keep selling their crappy food. We are a society who loves convenience & we are too busy to invest in our health, so we just buy whatever's easiest, cheapest & takes the least effort. And unfortunately, as a society, we are paying the heavy price of extremely high cost medical & behavioral issues that have been linked to our unhealthy diets.

I think we owe it to ourselves & our children to really start reading nutrition labels, making choices based on those ingredients & voting with our forks.

If you are trying to cut back on eating foods that contain GMO's, here are a few things you can do:
  1. Buy organic. Foods labeled "Certified Organic," by law, cannot knowingly contain GMO's.
  2. Buy products with the Non-GMO Project seal.
  3. Look for dairy products labeled "No rBGH or rBST,” or “artificial hormone-free" (however, just because a dairy product doesn't contain rBGH or rBST, it doesn't necessarily mean it's GMO-free because the cow could have eaten feed that was genetically modified, so organic is still best).
  4. Avoid at-risk ingredients. Avoid products made with ingredients that might be derived from GMO's (see the list above). The eight GM food crops are Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed, Sugar Beets (if a non-organic product made in North American lists “sugar” as an ingredient & NOT pure cane sugar, then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane & GM sugar beets), Hawaiian Papaya (most) & a small amount of Zucchini & Yellow Squash.
  5. Download a helpful shopping guide. Both No GMO & Non GMO Project have really great apps & shopping guides to help you navigate this mess.
  6. Shop at your local farmers markets. Click here to discover the farmers markets in Wisconsin.
  7. Check out 100 Days of Real Food for all kinds of great tips for getting kids to make healthier choices, how to read labels & most importantly, recipes for eating whole foods- as in non-processed foods (also become a fan on facebook).
Someone once told me that if you are trying to eat healthier, you should only eat food that your great-grandparents would recognize & half of the portions you normally would. My grandparents lived through the era of wonder bread & margarine, so I need to go back one more generation. My great-grandparents would have no clue what Nacho Cheese Doritos or Diet Coke were (which is a shame because those are two of my favorite junk foods).

So, OK, GMO's are bad- that's pretty obvious to me. But where do we go from here? It's nearly impossible to avoid them unless you can buy everything organic & cook the food yourself. We do try to eat mostly organic fruits & veggies (especially those listed on the Dirty Dozen list), & we eat mostly organic & local meats. I haven't been able to bring myself to buy organic dairy products (only because of the price), but it's where we would eventually like to be. I don't necessarily want the price of organic products to go down too low, though & here's why. In my opinion, we will either pay now or later (health-wise), so why not invest in healthy bodies now instead of trying to fix them once they are broken?

I like the idea of trying to eat this way 80% of the time. That's why I work so hard to make things from scratch. That's why I research food labels before I go shopping. That's why I try to keep most processed foods out of our reach. But I also realize that it's not possible to do that 100% of the time. We enjoy dining out occasionally. We like to eat with friends. We get attend parties. And we realize not everyone has the same convictions about food that we do & that's OK.

But sometimes we really just want a bowl of cereal or some crackers to go with our cheese. I found this recipe from one of my absolute favorite books, The Homemade Pantry, & I'm really excited about finding yet another thing I can make from home. The whole recipe took me about 35 minutes (20 minutes cooking time), so I consider that worth the time & energy. It will save us from not having to dish out major bucks for non-GMO crackers & I can have the peace of mind that they are safe for my family when John & Ruby are having cracker eating competitions.

Wheat Crackers
1 cup all purpose flour (for all our flour needs, we use King Arthur, which is GMO- free!)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (Frontier brand, & Rumford, which are GMO-free!)
1/3 cup whole, uncooked organic millet (here is a list of a few organic brands)
1/3 cup ground organic flax seeds (Frontier brand)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Parchment paper
Cookie cutters, if using

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl or Kitchen Aid, combine the two flours, baking powder, millet, flax, & salt. Add the olive oil & combine. Add 1/2 cup water & continue to add more water (up to 1/4 cup additional, if needed) to the dough until it holds together. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl for 2 minutes until it is smooth & very workable.

Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, press into a flat disc & roll with a rolling pin until the dough is 1/8-1/4 inch thick (too thick dough = soggy-ish crackers). You can either make square crackers by cutting with a pizza wheel or knife, or you can use cookie cutters & make your own fun shapes. And leftover dough can be rerolled for more crackers.

Transfer the dough pieces to a baking sheet, covered in parchment paper. Sprinkle each piece of dough with salt & pepper lightly & bake 20-22 minutes (make sure you switch the position of the cookie sheet midway). The crackers are done when they are hard to the touch.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. The crackers can be stored at room temperature in a covered container for a week, or in the freezer in a freezer-safe container or bag for 3 months (re-crisp in the oven at 375 for 3 minutes).

Recipe adapted from The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Tofu Stir Fry

Don't blow off tofu just because you were forced to eat it once & thought it was mushy & tasteless. I know it's not always prepared well & it does get mushy & tasteless, but really, in this stir fry, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised at how flavorful it really can be.

I had never really eaten tofu (on purpose) before I met John. I guess I just didn't know how to cook it & it wasn't very appealing (white, soggy, soaked in water). It always just seemed like something that all of the poor vegetarians had to eat because they couldn't eat steak. Now I know how wrong I was.

Before getting married I was also unaware how different Korean cooking is from other Asian cooking (my husband is 1/2 Korean). One of the noticeable differences is the roasty flavor of sesame oil & roasted sesame seeds. It's really quite exceptional. Korean cooking also uses a lot of green onions, which we didn't add to this particular meal, but they would be a nice touch.

Although you can use just any ol' soy sauce, we really, (REALLY) recommend that you buy this Korean brand of soy sauce (& sesame oil & roasted sesame seeds). We can get the sesame oil at our local Woodman's, but John's mom occasionally sends us a package with the soy sauce & sesame seeds because we don't have a Korean market in little La Crosse (I have links below so you can see these products, although I didn't shop around to see if these are the best prices). If you are fortunate to have a Korean market in town, go there. They should definitely carry everything you need to make amazing Korean food!

Tofu Stir Fry
Rice (we like to mix half brown, half white sushi rice)
Olive oil
Sesame oil (we like the Kadoya brand)
1 package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed with several paper towels, & cut into rectangular blocks
Soy sauce (we like the  Monggo Sun brand)
1 clove minced garlic
1 yellow onion, cut into petals
3 medium carrots, cut into sticks
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 stalk broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
2-3 cups fresh spinach
Roasted sesame seeds (we like the Assi brand)
Salt & pepper

Cook your rice. Warm up a large skillet to medium heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil & 1 tsp of sesame oil until heated. Add the blocks of tofu & cook (without flipping) until the underside is lightly browned & slightly crisp. Then flip the tofu & drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of soy sauce. Continue to saute until both sides are browned & crisp.

Using a wok, heat up another tbsp of olive oil with a tsp of sesame oil. Once that is heated through, add  the minced garlic until just brown. Then add the "harder" vegetables (like onions, carrots, peppers, broccoli) & saute, covered, for 5 minutes. Add 1-2 tbsp soy sauce & then add "softer" vegetables (like spinach or mushrooms, if using). Toss & continue to cook until the vegetables are tender crisp or to your liking.

Uncover & toast with roasted sesame seeds, salt, & pepper to taste. Serve the vegetables & tofu with rice.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate: March 18-24, 2013"

There wasn't a whole ton of creativity in this past week's menu. I was still emotionally recovering from being back after our trip (& man, oh man, so was Ruby), so I didn't really have much energy to pour out into cooking. Sometimes when we get back home I am all inspired & excited to get back into the kitchen, but after this trip, I kinda just wanted to nap a whole bunch. Lucky for me, the food I did make wasn't too time-intensive, but it was delicious. 

Both the crispy quinoa bake & the veg chili were inspired by my friend Lindsay over at The Live-in Kitchen, the cornbread is my favorite recipe that I've tried from 100 Days of Real Food, & the French Toast was a Better Homes & Garden find. I absolutely love stealing recipes from other blogs & find so much inspiration from people who blog about food but are to the point, real, & helpful.

Besides the above mentioned, here are a few other (not all food) blogs I love:
And to organize all my reads, I have started using blog lovin'. They make it really easy to stay up-to-date without being overwhelmed & heck, they even have an app! So, if you haven't already, you should follow me on blog lovin' & hook yourself up with other sweet blogs.

What are some of your most motivating blogs?

Thursday's dinner: vegetarian chili with whole-wheat cornbread

What We Ate March 18-24, 2013
Monday: Our last night in Florida we ate at a lovely authentic Greek restaurant
Tuesday: Toppers mushroom pizza with cuties
Wednesday: Crispy quinoa bake with cheddar scallion scones
Thursday: Vegetarian chili with whole-wheat cornbread
Friday: Chicken Caesar salads with roasted garlic & grilled pita bread
Saturday: We were at a baby shower all afternoon, so we just snacked on apples, cheese, bread, & turkey
Sunday: Overnight stuffed French toast with our co-op's own maple breakfast sausages

I found a bit more inspiration by the end of the week & also made a batch of Smitten Kitchen's coconut bread (will post soon!), Greek yogurt, & pesto rolls.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Pesto Rolls

I keep saying this to everyone I know- these rolls are so going to get me in trouble (like the "there's more of me to love" kind of trouble). I made them for a community lunch that we had at our church this past weekend & now after eating a few, I'm really excited about the possibilities that they hold. For starters, they are super easy to make & although they took about two hours, most of that time was spent anxiously pacing around my kitchen, waiting for them to rise (yeah right, I was washing dishes). So they're pretty simple = win for me.

But then there's the whole slew of combinations that you can throw in the center. This dough will work wonderfully for cinnamon rolls (just sub the pesto & cheese for cinnamon, brown sugar, & butter). But then what about cheesy rolls (a lovely variety of cheeses) or artichoke dip rolls or roasted red pepper & feta rolls? Oooh or spinach & feta rolls. Pepperoni pizza rolls? Butter & garlic rolls? Really, the possibilities are endless.

I'm thinking that I might make a big ol' batch of rolls & then try freezing them after they are cut. What would be better than taking some already-made rolls out of the freezer to bake on a lazy Saturday morning?

These rolls might be the end of me, but it will be a very happy ending.
(like our new magnetic strip for our knives??)

Pesto Rolls
1/2 cup warm water (115 degrees F)
1/2 cup warm milk (115 degrees F)
1 egg (room temperature), slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons demerara
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
1 (.25 ounce) package (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Place water, milk, egg, melted butter, sugar, & salt in a Kitchen Aid mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of flour on top of all the liquid mixture, sprinkling yeast on top. Using the dough hook, knead bread mixture on speed 3 until dough is smooth & elastic adding additional flour as needed (approx. 5-7 min.). Place dough in a greased bowl & cover with a wet towel. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour in a warm area.

(I've found that if I preheat oven to 200 while the dough is kneading, then turn the oven off when kneading is complete & stick my covered bowl into the oven & leave the oven door cracked open a bit, the dough will rise quicker).

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface & roll into a rectangle slightly larger than a 9×13 pan. Spread surface evenly with pesto & sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese on top. Beginning with the long side, roll dough pinching the seam to seal. Cut into equal slices & place them in a greased muffin tin. Cover with a damp towel & allow to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from muffin cups & serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Savory Sweet Life

If you haven't already, you should follow me on bloglovin' (this incredible site that organizes all of your favorite blogs- there's even an app!)

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Crispy Quinoa Bake

The first thing I want when we've been away from home is usually vegetables. Besides the comfort of our usual routine & our amazing bed, just normal vegetables are really what I crave. I don't know if your travel habits are like ours, but when we travel, we don't usually eat too healthy-- I mean, it's really hard to do & who can resist all those fun extra perks when you're on vacation (coffee? dessert? wine? convenience foods?) Don't even get me started on the food selections in airports! If I have to eat any more empty carbs, I think I will scream.

We ate quite a bit of healthy seafood when we were in Florida, & we did actually eat a lot of veggie sides, but after a 12-hour day of traveling & another monumental trip to Ikea, I was bound & determined to make something loaded with veggies, but something more filling that "just" salad. I was threatening John with a week of salad, but I know I wouldn't even be OK with that.

This recipe is so good for you- it's loaded with all kinds of veggies & I bet you can experiment a bit with whatever's in season to make it even more scrumptious. I bet some cubed butternut squash or sliced mushrooms would be quite nice. Plus there's quinoa & it's covered in cheese, so it's packed with the protein that will really, truly satisfy you for hours.

And it is mighty comforting, too. I'll admit that it's been a bit harder for me being back in Wisconsin than I thought it would be (um, there was a 70 degree temp difference when we landed in Minneapolis). I mean, it was nice for winter to hang around until we got back from Florida so that it could say goodbye & everything, but now it can stop the awkward lingering & just leave already. In the meantime, we will comfort ourselves with this warm, hearty, & savory crispy quinoa, turn up the heat & maybe listen to some youtube ocean videos & call it a date.

Crispy Quinoa Bake
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium)
1//2 chopped green pepper
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 cup cubed zucchini (about 2 small)
2 cups black beans
1 4 ounce can diced green chiles
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 lime, juiced
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
Cilantro (to top)
Greek yogurt (to top)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer & rinse throughly. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa & cook, stirring, for about one minute. The quinoa should begin to dry out & pop a bit. Add the vegetable stock, stir & bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low & cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat & let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions & peppers & cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic & zucchini & cook for about 3 more minutes.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork & place it in a large bowl. Add the onion mixture, beans, green chiles, tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano, chili powder, lime juice, & salt to taste. Mix thoroughly & transfer to a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, top with cheese, & bake 10 minutes more or until melted & just beginning to brown. I usually like to broil it for a few minutes so the cheese starts to get just a bit crispy.

Serve with Greek yogurt & cilantro.

Adapted from The Live-In Kitchen


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate March 11-17, 2013"

Most of this week we were visiting family in lovely Florida. We really had 2 goals while we were there & they were to 1) be outside as much as humanly possible & 2) eat as much seafood as humanly possible & we pretty much accomplished both of those goals.

I'm not much of a hot weather kind of gal. In fact, I prefer living in sub-zero temps to the sweltering humidity. The last time we were in Florida, we were there for a wedding on the beach. In August. My hair has never been larger & aside from being pregnant in July, it was one of the most uncomfortable times I've experienced weather-wise. So when we were getting ready to go, that trip stuck out in my mind. When we got off the plane, I was immediately pleased that there was hardly a trace of humidity in the air & it was oh so pleasantly warm. Yes, March + Florida = perfection for this northern lady.

I don't wanna brag too much (because who really wants to hear about us going to the beach every day when it's been in the negative temps & snowing in Wisconsin?) but let me just say that it was one of the best trips we've taken. We hardly did a thing, but that was exactly what we needed. John & I haven't taken a vacation since our honeymoon 3 years ago, so we were definitely due for some hardcore relaxing!

And when we relax, it usually means that we're going to be eating well. Oh man, I can't even begin to describe the quality of the food that we ate... the shrimp were literally the size of my hand. And everything was fresh, fresh, fresh.

Oh to live by the sea.

Even though the trip was fabulous, we are comforted to be home. We are excited to sleep in our own bed (we have the best bed ever) & even though there's more snow that when we left, we feel refreshed, knowing that spring is nearly here. Soon enough we will be toasty ourselves & wishing for those fleecey jackets. We are weary travelers, but our hearts (& tummies) are very full indeed!
 Wednesday's meal: chicken, onion, bell pepper, zucchini, & tomato kabobs on the grill
 Thursday's meal: lobster (can you believe I ate this?!) with sauteed zucchini, onions, bell peppers, & carrots with potato wedges
 Friday's meal: grouper, tuna, & swordfish tacos with roasted corn, fresh guac, tortilla chips, & homemade mango salsa
 We ate at a charming French bistro for breakfast one morning & here's the chocolate croissant we shared
But we couldn't stop at just one croissant! John had a soft egg dish covered in cheese with toast, Ruby had scrambled eggs with toast, & I had lox with cream cheese & capers on a croissant.
This pretty (intense!) caramel roll has planted some serious baking inspiration!
Saturday's meal: "peel & eat" shrimp, fish cakes, bulgogi with rice & the best kale side dish I've ever had (sauteed kale with bacon, white beans, & almonds)
 One of our lovely breakfasts: banana, strawberry & nutella crepes with sausage

What We Ate March 11-17, 2013
Monday: Homemade mushroom & spinach pizza with apples & cuties
Tuesday: We ate at Noodles & Company in the cities
Wednesday: Chicken, onion, bell pepper, zucchini, & tomato kabobs on the grill
Thursday: LOBSTER with sauteed zucchini, onions, bell peppers, & carrots with potato wedges
Friday: Grouper, tuna, & swordfish tacos with roasted corn, tortilla chips, & homemade mango salsa
Saturday: "Peel & eat" shrimp, fish cakes, bulgogi with rice & the best kale side dish I've ever had (sauteed kale with bacon, white beans, & almonds)
Sunday: For St. Pat's, corned beef, cabbage, carrots, & potatoes with chocolate Guinness cupcakes (they even had irish cream frosting)

If you've missed out on past weeks of meals, make sure you click here for some more meal planning inspiration!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Chicken & Vegetable Egg Rolls

I really love cooking with my husband & I feel really blessed to have a guy in my life who enjoys cooking with me, for me, & even without me. It's one of the things that really helped us bond when we were dating & has  aided us in continuing to invest in each other now that we've been married for a little over 3.5 years.

You really learn stuff about people when you're in the kitchen together. Sometimes it's pretty, but sometimes it's really not. We get into most of our disagreements in the kitchen, but we almost always have some of our best conversations in there, too. Somebody needs to get smart & design a house where the kitchen is more of a focal point (I'm talking comfy chairs, fireplaces, hot tubs...)

In the beginning of our dating relationship, I learned that John is an absolute by-the-book cooker/baker. He levels things, he uses measuring cups, & he never, ever eyeballs ingredients when putting them in a recipe (the exceptions would be when there's an ingredient he doesn't like, when a recipe calls for margarine, or when he's making anything that involves oil).

Me on the other hand, well, let's just say I could use some help in this department. I'm getting better about using the right ingredients & the correct amounts (& consequently I think my cooking is improving!) But I'm kinda lazy & I absolutely will (almost always) refuse to go get some ingredient I need if we don't have it because I don't want to leave my project unattended. I'll just try to sub something & it sometimes turns out.

I'll never forget the first tiramisu that we made together. John was horrified (but oh so gentle with me because we had just started dating!) at my techniques. "Did you put in enough vanilla?" "How many eggs have you used?" "Were those peaks stiff enough?" It makes me laugh now, because our styles haven't changed much, although I will say that we are meeting more towards the middle (for the record, this tiramisu didn't turn out & I'm pretty sure I and something to do with it).
As much as we are growing, we still take bold chances sometimes. Our latest adventure was with these egg rolls. OK, they're called egg rolls for a reason, right? Well guess who didn't have enough eggs (we needed one egg)? Did I call my neighbor to get an egg? Did I walk the 4 blocks to buy some? No. We made them without eggs & they actually turned out. We were both a little nervous that they would become "unglued" as they were frying, but it all worked out. They were crispy & delicious & I'm thinking that we need to change the name to "chicken & veg rolls" because of the lack of egg.

John & I have learned to give each other a little bit of space in the kitchen & respect each other's styles. He's realized that baked goods don't need to be coated in white sugar to be tasty & I've learned that yes, sometimes, they do. I think we owe it to ourselves to try that tiramisu again sometime soon, what do you think?

Chicken & Vegetable Egg Rolls
4 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded or finely diced
1 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup potato, peeled & shredded
soy sauce, about 2 tablespoons, or to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 package egg roll wrappers
vegetable oil for frying
1 egg, beaten & mixed with 1 tablespoon water (egg is optional, but encouraged)

Mix cut veggies in a large bowl. Heat a large skillet & drizzle with olive oil. Stir fry the veggies in two batches, adding the soy sauce & pepper just as the cabbage starts to wilt. Cook veggies until just underdone, as they will cook more when you fry the egg rolls. Place cooked veggies in large bowl & mix in the chicken. Let the mixture cool slightly before rolling. 

Lay out a wrapper, brush egg mixture on two adjacent edges, spoon as much as you can fit (3-4 tablespoons) into a wrapper, & roll according to package instructions (if you don't have an egg, you can just wet the corners with a bit of water).

Heat the vegetable oil, about 1-1 1/2 inches deep, in a frying pan.  Fry the egg rolls 4-5 at a time, turning as they get to a golden brown color. Remove to paper towels, or a wire rack to drain & cool. I've also heard that you can bake egg rolls, too, but John is anti-baking when the other option is deep frying. Surprise, surprise.

Recipe adapted from Food Pusher

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Screen Printing At Home

Every little girl needs her very own wolf tee

Even before Ruby was born, John & I were way into making shirts for her (check out this post with a few of the firsts & this post for a pic of her princess tee). Again, when I say "we" it mostly means "he." I help come up with ideas & pick out colors, but John does most of the work. This time, I need to brag that I actually cut out the Wisconsin stencil (thank you very much). And after giving it a whirl, I appreciate my husband even more! It's hard work & my neck was really sore for a few days from hunching over to cut it out.

Although these shirts are time consuming, they really are quite simple & totally rewarding. What is more precious than your kid getting super excited to wear a shirt that you custom made for them? 
WI represent!

Items you need
Fabric (we've mostly done onesies & other cotton shirts)
A stencil printed on very thick paper or cardstock
A board to cut the stencil out
Tack adhesive spray (we use Krylon Easy Tack)
Spray paint or acrylic paint (there's a bit more accuracy with acrylic)
Paint brushes
Masking tape

Start with washing your clothing or fabric. If it's something you're going to have someone wear, have them try it on & measure where you would like the design to show up (you could put a little masking tape where the top of the stencil should go). Then get to printing & cutting your stencil.

The more intricate the design, the more challenging the cutting will be. You might want to try something more simple for your first projects. Make long smooth cuts whenever possible (avoid short, choppy cuts). Although it might be obvious, stencil cutting is kind of a mental game so stay focused (you need to cut out what you want to show up on the shirt). Once the stencil is cut out, spray the tack on spray over the stencil (the side that is going to be touching the fabric) & lay the tack sprayed side down onto the fabric.

Then tape the stencil onto the fabric using masking tape. Secure a piece of cardboard on the inside of the shirt (you don't want it to bleed through to the back of the shirt). Then you can get to painting. You can either spray it with spray paint, using short thin layers of paint, or you can use acrylic paint & brush it on. We've had luck with both, but have come to enjoy acrylic more because it's a bit more accurate, we can blend colors more easily, & it smells way better! It may be necessary to do several layers of paint, depending on the fabric you use & how thick you want it to look.

And that's it! Although it dries fairly quickly, we wait 24 hours to wear them, just to be sure. Also make sure that you wash them inside-out so that the stencil lasts longer. 
Ruby loves foxes & her favorite stuffed animal is a fox named "batu"

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Tuna Zucchini Cakes

Oh tuna.

I've been on a non-stop hunt to find scrumptious tuna recipes my whole life. Although I do enjoy a simple cold tuna sandwich or a crispy, bubbly tuna melt every now & again, that's about as far as my tuna adventures have gone. I would be willing to make a good old fashioned tuna salad every now & again, but John has a strong dislike (hate?) of all things cold-noodle-mayo-salad-based. I can't blame him... most of them aren't very good (especially when drenched in mayo, or even worse... sweet tasting Miracle Whip).

Sweet salads are really a nightmare around here. You know what I'm talking about. They always end up at summer BBQ's because a BBQ doesn't seem right without one, when in fact it's the salad that just isn't right. How on earth someone decided to put fruit + jello + cottage cheese together & then have the guts to call it salad is beyond me. We avoid food like this at all cost & I shudder a little bit every time I think about it.

How this relates to tuna, I'm not sure.

I found this recipe on Pinterest one time when I was especially determined to find more creative ways to eat tuna. I wrote a little bit about it in this post & now I'm finally getting to posting the recipe. They really are quite the yummy meal- Ruby loves them, I love them, & John doesn't get super excited about them (but does willingly eat them). They also freeze very well, so it's a great option for a quick, nutritious lunch when I'm trying to lure Ruby away from her usual peanut butter & honey sandwich.

Do you have any savory tuna recipes that you share? Post in the comments below!
Served with sweet potato wedges
Tuna Zucchini Cakes
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can light water-packed tuna, drained & flaked
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs or wheat germ
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion & cook until tender. Remove from heat. 

Add the tuna, 1/2 cup bread crumbs or wheat germ, zucchini, eggs, parsley, lemon juice, salt & pepper to onion mixture; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into six 1/2-in.-thick patties & coat with remaining bread crumbs.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown & heated through.

Recipe taken from Taste of Home


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate March 4-10, 2013"

This past week food-wise was strange. We were still "recovering" from our food experiment & so I literally felt like a kid in a candy shop, picking out what meals we wanted to cook & consume (ridiculous, I know). But I also had to keep in mind that we were going to be leaving to go to Florida the following week, so I didn't want to go crazy & have tons of food hanging around that we wouldn't eat.

I try to plan meals that are one-serving (per person) meals or plan to make sure we eat left-overs for lunch. But even when I try to plan a meal, things come up all the time. I love to plan things, but sometimes I'm just downright spacey. For example, I had originally planned to make homemade eggrolls on Saturday. I thought, "won't it be nice to have all day to do something fun like cook together?" but by the time Saturday rolled around, I had absolutely no desire to do anything. I was tired, it was raining, & I felt like I had already spent all week in the kitchen. Plus, I forgot to buy eggroll wrappers, so if we wanted to make them, I would need to go the the store first & that wasn't happening.

But it all worked out. Ruby & I ate grilled cheese & John finished up some rigatoni left-overs & we saved the eggrolls for Sunday. It ended up making a TON, so we were even able to bring them to some friends' house & enjoy them together while we watched The Walking Dead (just to be clear, I went for the community- zombies give me the heebeejeebees). On Sunday, I had originally planned to make "cream" of mushroom soup using tofu, but again, my spaciness caused me to buy extra firm tofu instead of the soft kind, which the recipe calls for.

Overall, I am pretty excited about what we ate last week. I found a new way to cook lentils in a soup that's very tasty & I fell madly in love with breakfast pizza. Plus, we discovered a new way to eat sweet potatoes (one of our favs)- covered with broccoli & cheese! I thought it might be weird with the sweetness of the potato, but it really works!

Meal planning is really helpful, but sometimes you just gotta allow for life (or lack of energy or inability to buy the right food) to interrupt your plans & roll with it. What methods do you use when meal planning or grocery shopping to make sure you're getting everything you need? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
Friday's dinner: agave drizzled boneless pork chops & sweet potatoes topped with broccoli & cheese

What We Ate March 4-10, 2013
Monday: Shredded chicken quesadillas (chicken, red peppers, onions, cilantro, & cheese) & cuties
Tuesday: Skillet baked stuffed rigatoni with a roasted beet salad
Wednesday: Lentil soup with sausage, chard, & garlic & cheddar scallion scones
Thursday: Breakfast pizza & fresh pineapple
Friday: Agave drizzled boneless pork chops & sweet potatoes topped with broccoli & cheese
Saturday: Grilled cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread with apples & fresh pineapple
Sunday: Homemade chicken & vegetable eggrolls with rice & you guessed it, more fresh pineapple

I also made a batch of crockpot yogurt & thawed out some left-over dough to make graham crackers.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Skillet Baked Stuffed Rigatoni

I knew last Tuesday was going to be a little epic right when I woke up. I got out of bed with a little bit of child-like wonder because, yes, we finally got a little bit more snow! I love snow. I love, love, love it & I always feel a need to be out in it, especially as it's coming down. John & I have this strange fascination for needing to be out "in the elements" when it's extreme outside (mostly just the cold or when it's snowing). Maybe it's because I'm from northern Minnesota, maybe it's because I have an amazingly warm down winter coat & mukluks. Who knows. Either way, when it's snowing or below zero, we might just be outside on a walk.

On this particular day, I had some errands to run, but instead of packing up my little one in the car, we piled on our layers of clothes (I'm a big fan of having the right winter gear to make it though happily), & I strapped her into the Ergo & away we went. We live just 4 blocks south of downtown, so most of our errands were within walking distance.
There's just something so special about being out during a snowstorm. Everything is so still & serene. It's challenging & exhausting (especially when you're carrying someone else!) but the effort is worth every bit of struggle.

My epic-ness carried on into my afternoon as I started to prepare dinner. This recipe seemed like such a cinch to make & although that's not far from the truth, the time it takes to put together was a big fat lie. I think it said it should take like 20 minutes. Now, I tend to be pretty quick in the kitchen, but really? 20 minutes? So maybe my piping skills are below average & maybe I had to go through a couple of baggies to get the hole size right. So what. It was a lot of work, but worth every effort.

Plus I had an epic mix of Sigur Ros & Alt-J playing to keep the high going even further, so the time was really precious (plus my kid was sleeping= epic all on its own).

What are the recipes you savor creating?
Served with salad (spring greens, grated carrots, roasted beets, sesame seeds, & balsamic vinaigrette)

Skillet Baked Stuffed Rigatoni
1lb whole wheat rigatoni pasta
8 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1 handful fresh basil leaves
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rigatoni & cook to 2 minutes shy of al dente. Drain them.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the ricotta cheese & the goat cheese & stir until well combined. Season with kosher salt & black pepper. Put the cheese mixture in a pastry bag or Ziploc & snip the end off (make sure the hole is smaller than the pasta opening). Pipe the room temperature cheese into the rigatoni noodles (it's way easier to handle at room temp).

Pour 1 cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of an 8-10” skillet. Follow that with the basil leaves. Line up all the noodles in concentric circles, 1 layer at a time. When all of the noodles are in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the noodles. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top of the sauce. Bake the pasta about 15 minutes until the edges are getting golden & the dish is very hot.

Recipe taken from Heather Christo Cooks


Monday, March 11, 2013

Breakfast Pizza

Hello, it's the Haas Machine eating breakfast for dinner again. Surprise, surprise.

The other week I made my very first cinnamon rolls & they turned out pretty well. After that, breakfast has still been on my mind, even more than usual. This time, I decided to go a bit more crazy & made breakfast pizza. I figured that the combo of breakfasty-type foods (eggs! bacon!) earthy flavors (scallions! shallots! chives!) & pizza (crust! cheese!) would be a win, win.

Turns out it was a win, win, win.

Part of this win was the bacon that I bought from the Holmen Meat Market. I don't venture to Holmen all that often, but when I do it's usually for meat. I love how all of the meat that they sell is from local farms (all of the pork is from Holmen!) & how high quality everything is. Plus the market has all kinds of exotic teas, wines, beers, jams, & homemade salsas for sale. I think I spent half of our food budget there, but it was soo worth it. Good bacon is always worth it.

I was very weirded out by cracking eggs on to my pizza crust, but it got way less weird when I took my first bite. John even groaned, it was that good (especially when just a slight nod of approval is his non-emotional way of saying something is incredible). We will be making this pizza again (maybe even for breakfast some day if I'm really motivated) & I'm anxious to experiment with even more breakfasty toppings. Maybe we'll throw hash browns in the mix or some hollandaise. Ooh, or biscuits & gravy? Is that too far?

What's the strangest, most delicious thing you've put on a pizza?

Breakfast Pizza

For the dough:
2 to 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4-ounce package (or 2 1/4 tsp) fast acting yeast
3/4 cup warm water, about 110 degrees F
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal, for dusting
Bread flour, for dusting

For the pizza:
6 bacon strips
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 cups shredded mozzarella
6 large eggs
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Chives, minced
Scallions, trimmed & thinly sliced

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together yeast, warm water, sugar & olive oil. Let sit for about 3 minutes to fully dissolve & activate the yeast.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour & salt. With a rubber spatula, gradually mix the yeast mixture into the flour until just combined & dough barely holds together. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter surface dusted with flour. Knead the dough with flour-dusted hands until the dough has become smooth & elastic, about 10 minutes. The surface should bounce back slightly when pressed. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil & place the dough in it. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Once doubled, punch the dough down & divide it into 2 equal pieces. Knead each slightly to form a uniform ball. Set aside & cover them with plastic wrap to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if you have a pizza stone, place it on the oven rack to warm & preheat the oven to 450. Generously dust the surface of a pizza stone with cornmeal.

Heat a large pan to medium-high, add the bacon strips, & pan-fry until crisp. Put the bacon on a plate lined with paper towels, let it cool, & then crumble into bite-size pieces.

Lightly dust a work surface with bread flour. Working with one ball of pizza dough, dip your hands & your dough in the bread flour, & pat the dough down into a disk shape. Once the disk is large enough, drape the dough over your fists and carefully start stretching & expanding the dough from underneath to form a round that is 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

Place the dough on the prepared pizza stone. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the dough &, using your fingers, brush the dough evenly with the oil. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella on to the dough. Crack 3 eggs over the top & season with salt & pepper.

Bake the pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, checking on it after 5 minutes & rotating if necessary to ensure that it is baking evenly. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted, & the egg yolks are cooked to medium, carefully transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle with half of the bacon, shallot, chives & scallions.  Prepare your second pizza the same way.

Dough recipe taken from the Food Network
Pizza recipe adapted from Dolcetto Confessions

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, & Garlic

I know I keep saying that we're not big soup fans, but here I go again with another soup recipe. What's happening to me? Maybe it's the chilly winter breezes that have been lingering around, or the hope of spring (when all soup recipes in our house go out the door until fall). Truth be told, I was looking for a meal that incorporates lentils & I stumbled upon this gem & looked no further.

Have you ever gotten on a little healthy food kick? You know the kind that causes you to pick something up at the store because it just sounds like it would be healthy (quinoa anyone?) You don't necessarily have a plan to cook with it or any idea how to even prepare it, but just sticking it in your little cart already makes you feel like a better person. Yeah, me too.

That's what happened with these lentils. They somehow found their way into my cupboard & after sorting through my kitchen during an emotional organizational stress release session (don't worry, there's definitely a post coming on this), I vowed to eat them soon.

Lentils have always seemed like just a filler to me. I remember soups growing up where lentils were soft, mushy, & flavorless, so I wasn't exactly thrilled about eating them. Even as I was dishing up this soup, I told John that I was doubtful. In fact, that's why I made a side of cheddar scallion scones to go with them. I figured if the soup was a total bust, then at least I could eat my frustration out with some hearty, cheesy, oniony carbs!

OK, this soup is covered in sauteed garlic for crying out loud & it is originally from the Smitten Kitchen, so that should have been my first clue (the cookbook is waiting for me at the library right now!) It's hearty, it's delicious, & I am so pleased that there are bowls of left-overs waiting for me in the fridge because the reality is that winter really likes to mess with my heart this time of year.

Do you cook with lentils? What are your favorite recipes for them?

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, & Garlic
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
3 large links of pork sausage, casings removed (you could use Italian sausage, but I don't really like it, so we went with a plain sausage & added Italian seasonings to it while it was cooking)
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled & sliced into half-moons
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup brown lentils, sorted & rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Parmesan cheese to finish

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot on medium. Cook the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, & a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the vegetables soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water, & more salt & black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer & allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

When the lentils are cooked, add the chard & cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Remember to discard the bay leaves.

To finish, divide soup among bowls, then add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil & 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet & heat over medium until the garlic softens. Drizzle this over soup bowls, & top with fresh Parmesan. 

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Devil's Food Chocolate Bunt Cake with Chocolate Espresso Ganache

I am honored & thrilled to have been featured on Yummly for the devil's food chocolate bunt cake (complete with chocolate espresso ganache) that I made for valentines day this year. Yummly is this cheeky genius child for foodies all over the world. Basically, people submit recipes & then they have the potential to get put into this massive collection of culinary delights. They are all about creating a digital kitchen, which is quite clever. Make sure that you head over to my post & the recipe at Yummly. You will absolutely adore this cake (unless you don't like chocolate, cake, or happiness).
Like I said in the blog post, I wanted to find a cake that was both decadent, yet simple enough to put together during a (potential) 2-hour nap time. Long gone are the days where I can slowly & thoughtfully put together something really complex.

I also wanted to use the new bundt pan I found at Goodwill. Until this cake, I had never made a bundt before. I have this deep-rooted fear of baked goods sticking to pans, & for some reason, bundt pans just seemed intimidating to me. After giving this one a good christening, I'm not sure what my problem was-- it was a cinch! And I chuckled silently to myself many times as I thought about this clip from one of my more favorite movies, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Oh, so funny those bundt cakes are.

In other exciting (to me & hopefully you) news, I'm working on a 4-5 blog post series on green cleaning & organizing because it's coming up on spring time, where a lot of people think about (& maybe even do) give their homes a good scrubbin'. I find it essential to live in an environment that is clean & organized so that I can create & I've learned that you really can do that very greenly, cheaply, & without devoting your whole life to cleaning (who wants to do that?) So come April, make sure you check out my posts on "creating clean."

Until then, make this cake.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate Feb. 25- March 3, 2013"

I've been wanting to do an experiment like this for a little while now, & this week gave us the perfect opportunity. We had just came back from a lovely weekend with friends & our food budget was long gone. I don't know if you're like me, but whenever we have friends in town or see friends in another town, or even our town... OK whenever we're around friends, we have a hard time sticking to our $50 a week food budget. Weekly meal planning most definitely helps, but when we vacation, we like to live it up a bit (especially when we camp, but that's an entirely separate post).

When we went away, we didn't go crazy, but I will say that we made a bunch of whole wheat coconut chocolate chip cookies to share. I made a double batch of granola because what happens if we hiked & got super hungry? We stocked up on Annie's mac 'n' cheese for Ruby because I anticipated her being especially picky. We treated ourselves to a large quantity of (alcoholic & carbonated) beverages. And then there was eating out the first night we were there, brunch the last day we were there, & just the cost of the cabin we rented.

All that to say, when we came home, the idea of running to the store again to buy more food made me shiver. So I decided that I would skip shopping for a week. It was sort of out of neccessity, but I also wanted to see what I could whip up with the food that we already had. I will say that I ran out to buy butter one day (who can wait a whole week without butter), but that was it. And you know what? We survived! The menu wasn't as exciting as other weeks have been, but it just reminded me how blessed we are to have not only been able to eat out of our cupboards & freezer, but to have eaten pretty well (minus my pretty nasty wild rice side from Friday's dinner). We weren't forced to eat canned refried beans or ramen every night & I finally used up that pumpkin that's been sitting on my counter for, oh, months.
Monday's dinner: tuna melts

What We Ate Feb. 25- March 3, 2013
Monday: Tuna melts & raw vegetables (carrots, celery, red & green peppers)
Tuesday: Fish tacos with red & green peppers, onions, black beans, cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa, & corn tortillas
Wednesday: Baked potatoes topped with broccoli, cheese, black beans, turkey bacon, Greek yogurt, & salsa
Thursday: Pumpkin curry with rice
Friday: Herb encrusted salmon with a disappointing wild rice side (mixed with carrots, celery, mushrooms, & rosemary)
Saturday: Whole wheat spaghetti with homemade sauce, corn, & edamame
Sunday: Homemade mini cinnamon rolls, fried eggs, hash browns, & cuties

I also made a batch of graham crackers this week with my new alphabet cutters, more Greek yogurt, & some peppermint lip balm for the first time.

*stay tuned for some exciting news that I will be sharing tomorrow morning*


Monday, March 4, 2013

Simple Mini Cinnamon Rolls

I've never made cinnamon rolls before (at least not from scratch). They've always seemed so time-consuming & intimidating. Lately I've been trying to get over my fear (more like laziness) & just give things a whirl that I've put off for years. Today it was me verses the cinnamon roll.

I planned to make breakfast for dinner & thought that they would be a lovely addition to the meal. Plus, that would give me lots of time to work on them without actually being hungry. How on earth people wake up & make cinnamon rolls for breakfast is beyond me-- I can't think of a more deadly combination in the kitchen than the morning & a hungry tummy.

Let's just say that I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of these rolls & may even attempt to make them for a morning meal at some point (for real, they took me like 20 minutes).

Although I do enjoy a good fluffy cinnamon roll, these were still quite delish. Most people like to slather their cinny rolls with a super sweet frosting, but I really liked them in their naked state. If you'd like, you could whip up a batch of glaze by adding some powdered sugar to milk & vanilla (or almond!) extract. Just make sure you don't have a dentist appointment for a week.

Simple Mini Cinnamon Rolls
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
⅔ cup dmerara (or brown sugar)
1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8″ or 9″ baking dish. In a bowl, stir together demerara & cinnamon & set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, & salt in a large bowl. Stir the cream in to the flour mixture & mix just until combined. The dough will be soft & moist.

Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper into about a 20″ x 5″ rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough. Sprinkle demerara/cinnamon mixture over the butter. Roll the dough up lengthwise so that you have a long log. Cut dough log in to 20 or so pieces & place the pieces in to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown.

Recipe adapted from Growing Up Gabel

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Homemade Peppermint Lip Balm

There's nothing more my dry, northern lips enjoy than a good ol' goopy lip balm. While there are some harmful & unsustainable chemicals in most lip products (surprise, surprise), some people think that chap stick can actually kill you. All joking aside, there are definitely some ingredients that you want to stay away from when you're spreading products on your kisser.

I really enjoyed making some homemade lip balm today. Why? Oh, because there are 5 ingredients in it, it took literally 5 minutes, & I now have a bunch of lip balm to get me through the rest of winter. The best part is that it cost me just a fraction of what it would have buying other more natural or organic brands.

Now that I've got one batch under my belt, I'm curious to try other combinations (but peppermint is by far my fav). I'm thinking I need to try some orange/bergamont, ecualyptus (especially when I'm sick), or even a mint/lavender sounds lovely. I've got all the links below for all of the ingredients just in case you are unfamiliar with some of them.

What beauty products do you like to create at home? What shys you away from trying to make your own?

Homemade Peppermint Lip Balm
1/4 cup coconut oil 
1/2 ounce organic beeswax
3 drops vitamin e oil (or squeeze out 1-2 capsules)
3 drops peppermint essential oil
13 lip balm containers (next time I'm going to order them from here)

Melt coconut oil & beeswax over medium heat (or in microwave) & then add vitamin e oil & peppermint oil. Mix thoroughly & immediately pour into containers. (I heated everything in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup in the microwave & then spooned it carefully into the containers). Allow to cool for about 20 minutes & it's ready to use! This recipe makes approximately 13 lip balms in a 0.15 ounce containers.

Recipe taken from Nourishing Minimalism

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce

Things are starting to get a little dire in the Haas household... we only have 1 jar of homemade spaghetti sauce left! Last summer, we were fortunate enough to have a friend willingly donate 25 pounds of tomatoes to our spaghetti making adventure, so we jumped in head first. Believe me, it's a process, but when you get to savor homemade sauce all winter long, you can hardly remember the blood, sweat, & tears that went into it (emphasis on hardly).

This summer, I'm going completely nuts & am planning to grow all the tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, parsley, & basil that we will need to make more sauce & even salsa. I plan to blanch, peel, & cut up the tomatoes as they become ripe & then freeze them until cook time. It all sounds really well & good now, but I'm sure when it's 100 degrees, boiling tomatoes won't be the top item on my agenda.

I'll just have to re-read this post & remember how incredibly satisfying it is to not only be able to spell everything I'm eating, but to also take pride in the fact that we were able to make something from tiny seeds to satisfy our tummies at mealtime. How crazy is that?

Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce
25 pounds tomatoes
4 large green peppers, seeded
4 large onions, cut into wedges
4 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, place tomatoes, one at a time, in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove each tomato & immediately plunge in ice water. Peel & quarter tomatoes.

In a food processor, cover & process green peppers & onions in batches until finely chopped. In a stockpot, combine the tomatoes, green pepper mixture, tomato paste, oil, sugar, salt, garlic, oregano, parsley, basil, pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce & bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves.

Add lemon juice to nine hot quart jars, 2 tablespoons in each. Ladle hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims & adjust lids. Process for 40 minutes completely covered in boiling water. You should get about 9 quarts of sauce.

Recipe taken from Taste of Home