Monday, August 29, 2011

Spicy Apricot BBQ Sauce

2 pounds apricots, pitted and halved
  1 14.5oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, do not drain
  1 sm. can tomato paste
  3 cups brown sugar
  1 ½   cup cider vinegar
  1 onion, chopped finely
  1 jalapeno, diced small, seeds removed based on heat pref.
  3 cloves garlic, minced
  1-2 Tbl. Kosher salt
  ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  Pinch of red pepper flakes
  2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker, cover, cook on high 4-5 hours.  Remove lid last hour until slightly reduced.  Use immersion blender to puree. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

Half and pit apricots, and quarter each half.

Spray slow-cooker with non-stick spray, add ingredients.

Stir well, cover, and cook on high 5-6 hours.  

It looked a little too soupy so I tilted the lid to vent for about 1 1/2 hours.  Don't lean over the slow-cooker or you'll get a vinegar steam bath. 

Use immersion blender to puree.  
Makes approx. 6 cups.  Remove lid to let reduce down if too thin and cook down some more, it was really thick though at this point, perfect!

Yummy over chicken, or anything.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Strawberry Angel Food Cookies with Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar

These are really sweet, light, airy, and tart pleasing cookies.  I pick up fun vinegars and oils at TJMaxx or Ross all the time.  I picked up a Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar and it's this really thick and aged syrup, it's wonderful!  Strawberries go great with balsamic vinegar so I had to try this.  Add some cocoa powder for a truly decadent cookie.  These cookies are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I used home made strawberry freezer jam, but it was too sweet.  Reduced sugar or sugar-free jam works best.

1 box angel food cake mix(do NOT add water)
3/4 cup low-sugar or sugar free jam
1 Tbl. Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar(optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder(optional)

Preheat oven to 350'.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or non-stick foil and spray with non-stick spray(MUST!).  Prepare all of the ingredients in a mixer bowl for 1 minute on slow.  Scrape sides well and mix another minute.  Use a cookie scoop and place 12 cookies per large cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until they start to turn golden.  Remove from oven and slide parchment onto counter.  Wait 1-2 minutes before removing cookies to cooling rack.

I prepared most of the batch pictured below without the cocoa and decided to add that after I had baked most.  This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

I found several homemade laundry detergent recipes online, and I've been washing my own laundry using just this basic recipe.  I have really dry & sensitive skin and prefer this over any "free" detergents on the market.  I haven't noticed any dulling or issues getting stains out.  I have never used anything but liquid detergents since I had babies in the house.  So, I was nervous switching to the powder.  But I prefer this over the liquid now.  I put one scoop(1 Tbl.) into the detergent compartment for my HE front loading machine.  My clothes smell really nice, it's not overpowering.  I LOVE doTerra Essential Oils, Lemon, Wild Orange, or Lavender, or a combination.  I buy mine from my sweet friend Crysty, HERE.

Basic Recipe:
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 BAR of either Kirk's Castille Soap, Fels Naptha, or Zote
10-15 drops doTerra Lemon Essential Oil

The first time I made this I used Fels Naptha soap, it's a large yellow bar, found in the laundry aisle, and specifically designed for laundry.  It's really hard and took some muscle to grate it.  I ordered the Kirk's Castille Soap online from, I love that site.  It was easier to grate and a smaller bar.  It's designed for use on people with sensitive skin and rinses clean.  It also has a coconut oil base.  Neither bars suds very much, so this is safe for the HE washers.  I have read you can also use Ivory soap or Dr. Bonners.  I chose to try using this powder recipe because it just seems a little more concentrated than the diluted down liquid recipes for homemade detergent.  Just a preference, I have no idea if one is better than the other.  


 Grate the bar of soap on a sheet of wax paper and pour into the base of your food processor.  Add 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda, and 10-15 drops of your favorite Essential Oil.  Process until very fine.  Your house will smell unbelievably clean right now.  

Divide the contents between 2 16oz. canning jars.  Use 1-2 Tablespoons, depending on how dirty your laundry is.  I have never used more than 1 Tbl.   

The jar on the left is the Fels Naptha version(which is why it's a little yellow in color), and the right is the Kirk's Castille soap recipe version.  Takes up so much less space.  Store extra jars above in the cupboard.   Use fabric softener if you wish, or a dryer sheet.  

This is my laundry treatment area.  Baskets and bar from Ikea.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stove Top Cleaning

It works!!!

Minimal effort, patience, and cheap.  I have a combination stove top, it's ceramic and propane.  I don't really love it, but it came with the house.  It looks nice when it's clean, it looks beautiful when it's clean.  And all I used is baking soda(Part I) and ammonia(Part II)(not together, I'm sure there is some kind of warning about that). I've bought expensive stove top cleaners, eh.  My favorite by Scotch was discontinued years ago.  I tried baking soda, it's a mild abrasive, but cuts grease, and voila.  Just use a damp non-scratch abrasive pad and baking soda.  Baking soda costs nothing compared to store cleaners. 

I read HERE, about putting your stove top grates into a Ziploc bag with a little ammonia and letting it sit overnight.  Her pics were really amazing and I was willing to try anything.  Lemishine in the dishwasher helped a lot, but in the past I'd have to use oven cleaner to get the grates clean, and that was still a ho-hum result. Well, the ammonia in the bag worked.  I have double grates and they wouldn't fit in a Ziploc bag, so I just used a plain old plastic trash bag, poured a few Tablespoons of ammonia into the bag and then sealed it up by folding the end over and sealing with a clip.  Set them out on the porch overnight.  The grates do not need to be sprayed with the ammonia, it's the fumes from inside the bag that break down the gunk on the grates.  After 24 hours(I got busy), I pulled one out and DO wear gloves for this.  I took a sturdy dish brush and scraped off most of the black gunk(boy am I embarrassed for you to see how awful this thing was!).  I rinsed it off with hot water and poured a few Tablespoons of baking soda in the corner of the sink.  Use a non-scratch abrasive pad and pick up a little baking soda with it's wet corner.  It took very little scrubbing power and the rest of the cooked on crud was off in seconds!  Really, hardly put any effort at all into it.  And baking soda, what a great tool!  Baking soda has become my favorite cleaning product now next to Mr. Clean Erasers.  Oh, tried the Mr. Clean Erasers too on the stove top and grates, and it took several of them and they never really cleaned them as well as the baking soda and ammonia technique.


Put your grate into the bag and pour a little ammonia, I poured about 2 Tbls.

Fold the bag over and snap with a clippy.  Allow this to set overnight/24 hours or so in a nice warm sunny spot.  The fumes will break down nasty baked on food.  And don't ask me how, but I somehow got paint on one of mine, instantly came off after months of cooking it in even more. 

It does not come out as clean as what it pictured below.  Put some gloves on!  Get as much off with a scratch proof nylon brush, scrubby, sponge, etc...  At this point you will probably remember like me that you need to call to get your roots done.  Sprinkle some baking soda on the areas that still need a little TLC and scrub with brush or sponge.  Rinse and voila. 


Check out that shine!  Baking Soda only baby :)

Just like new, back to the day we moved in 4+ years ago.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mt. Whitney Recap by Eric

Eric gave a great recap of the events and only some of what he learned on this trip.  I'm so grateful for all of the Young Men and Adults that made sure our guys made it back safely.  What an experience!  These are notes from his speaking assignment on Sunday during our Sacrament service.  

Sunday 7/31/2011
            “We’re all going to die.” ~Brother E
“We’re all going to die,” were the first words said as we got in the car at 4:30 in the morning.  It was then said by the hour, but as we got higher in elevation it was said more frequently to the point where it was said maybe every 5 minutes. We arrived at the trail head and were disappointed when Mt. Whitney was nowhere to be seen. I figured Ian was right when he said it was just over the hill so we started our trip. From then on we never heard “We’re all going to die.”
             On the first day I remembered a scripture 1Nephi 3:7
In other words we will not be tested on something that Christ does not believe we will succeed in.  So everything we do we are expected to prevail in. This thought changed my opinion on this trip. I started worried and scared, nervous that we were all going to die.  I finished this trip to find that the entire time I was never worried, never once uncertain that we would not finish or be subject to harm or accident.
             Brother D would frequently check on everyone asking if we where alright. For the first couple of days I would reply saying “Yes I’m fine.” Or, I’ll be alright.”  On Friday when he would ask I replied a little differently saying “No.  But that doesn’t matter anymore.”  From that point it didn’t matter how I was feeling because I knew we would finish and everyone would be safe.
Friday was what the rangers said to be the worst storm since the 1980s.  From the time we reached the summit of Mt. Whitney (11:00) to the time we finished (6:00) it was raining, hailing, snowing, there where lightning strikes every second (one hitting 30 yrds from my dad and Brother E) there were also rock slides, flooding, rivers that seemed to be impossible to cross and no trail.
             Knowing that there was no chance of stopping and making camp we continued to travel in these weather conditions. We stopped to pray and after the prayer we found our speed to have increased at least 3 times faster and any pain we had was numbed, maybe from prayer or the fact that whatever was hurting was probably frozen solid.
As we were nearing the end we saw a sign that said Mt. Whitney Portal 1 mile. That sign brought hope and cheer to our group so we followed the trail. We walked maybe 100 yards to find a flooded river that seemed to be impossible to cross. All that hope and cheer was then crushed by the simple river but an unexpected angel appeared, almost perfectly timed. It was a fry cook from the Mt. Whitney portal restaurant. He had found a path that hadn’t been used since the 1907(?).  He told us it is a safe trail and then he ran off to help other hikers in danger. We finished the hike safely but nervous for the rest of the hikers. Every single hiker that came down said the exact same thing “Thank God for the fry cook”.  Four of the hikers in our group didn’t make it down until the next day but even the next day the fry cook was still up there helping other hikers.
When we stopped and prayed we prayed for something or someone to help us find the way and the fry cook did. Some doubted him and continued to go across the river but those who did follow him made it safely. D&C 4:5 if we have faith and hope then there is no doubt we will make it to the end.
Bear Testimony