Apple Pie Oatmeal

I think I called this Caramel Apple Oatmeal when I took my picture, because I used so much brown sugar and butter… mmm.. it was sooo yummmy.

I am a member of Pinterest. If you aren’t, and you like stuff, you ought to be. No, really. Etsy used to be my favorite site, because of all the cool stuff. Since Pinterest, Etsy has had to take a step back (maybe two or three, because I like Pinterest just that much). But that is all beside the point.

Apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and oatmeal are spot on the point. I found this pin at pinterest for Apple Pie Oatmeal. It looked so tasty (and I was really hungry, but oatmeal is one of my favorites), I re-pinned it and actually got up right that minute and made my own.

It’s easy peasy, even still I made a few adjustments of my own, out of preference and necessity.

1 c. of water (I use 1/2 water and 1/2 milk – I like my oatmeal creamy)
1/2 c. oatmeal (minute oats – the quick cook kind)
1 TBS butter (real stuff.. mmm good)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced*
brown sugar – your preference

Put liquid and butter on stove and bring to light boil. Add Oats, apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, turn heat down to simmer – and stir for 2-3 minutes. Top with brown sugar, milk/cream and more butter if you want.

* I was trying to be quick and I diced my apples. I started out slicing thinly and once cooked, I really liked those, but was running out of time (I’d already put my liquid on to boil) so I diced the rest quickly. I didn’t care for the tartness of diced apples (I used granny smith), but the thin slices were perfect. Next time I’ll slice the apple thinly, like I do for Apple Crisp.

I made it for a mid-afternoon meal, on a chilly winter day.. it was perfect.

Bean and Rice Salad

One of my favorite dishes is simple and cheap… black beans and rice salad.  Rice and beans are a staple I keep on hand, and we almost always have cheese and sour cream.. so when I get in the mood for this, it’s not very costly (just pick up a tomato and avocado).  This isn’t one my kids are fond of though.  Usually just me & Em.

Ingredients – and layer in bowl in this order:

Shredded Lettuce
Cooked Rice (I like it when it’s still warm off the stove)
Black Beans (I use canned and drain/rinse)
Salsa or Diced Tomatoes
Sour Cream
Mashed Avocado
Top with Shredded Cheese (your choice)

For seasonings, I just use salt (or the No-Salt Salt, since I need to watch my sodium because of my crohn’s disease and presdnisone issues). I also like a seasoning called Nature’s Seasons..

Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells

The past few times I’ve picked up the box of large shells in the pasta isle at the grocery, I couldn’t find the recipe I liked to use. Going through all my recipes, I realize I’ve had it all along posted on my other site. So I’m condensing and moving this recipe here to MommaMuse. This is my favorite Cheese stuffed shells recipe.

While this may seem like a time consuming meal to prepare (for some reason it always does to me), it really isn’t bad at all.

Periodically, I’ll buy ground beef in bulk. I’ll brown and drain it all, then separate it into baggies marked with the date made. Either freeze or plan to use in the next couple of days. Doing this makes this recipe run much smoother during preparations… while the pasta shells are cooking on the stove, I prepare the meat and cheese stuffing.. it takes me almost as long to make the stuffing mix, while cleaning up after myself as it does for the shells to cook.
The cheese stuffing
1 package of jumbo pasta shells
1 jar of favorite spaghetti sauce (I actually use tomato sauce usually)
1 lb browned ground beef, drained
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheese (mixed or mozzarella)
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbs parsley (I used dried, but fresh would be best)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta shells as package directs.

While pasta is cooking, add together all ingredients EXCEPT the spaghetti sauce and a little extra shredded cheese to use for a topper.

In a large casserole dish, spread some of your pasta sauce on the bottom of the dish.

Once the pasta shells are done cooking, I drain and rinse under cold water so handling the shells is easy to do – not hot.
Ready to Bake - Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
Using a large spoon, scoop the cheese and meet mixture into each shell, then placing it into the casserole dish.

Pour more sauce on top of the stuffed shells and place in over for about 45 minutes. In the last 10 minutes or so, top with the remaining shredded cheese. Once melted, remove from oven and enjoy!
Baked Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
Serve with salad and bread.

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Jell-o Poke Cake

This tasty jello cake is great desert for a gathering, but it needs to be refrigerated.

Very simple to make too!

– A boxed white or yellow cake – mix/bake as directed in an 9×13 pan

– While your cake is cooling, make a box of cherry jello according to the package directions.

jello for jello cake

– Use a fork to poke holes all over the top of the cake, but not quite to the bottom of the pan.

– Pour liquid jello all over the top of the cake, making sure to get into each of the holes.
jello cake

– Place in fridge for several hours, until jello sets and stiffens up the cake.

– Top with whipped topping….

Ranch Dressing Recipe – Outback Crave On

Ranch dressing is my favorite dressing. But I don’t care for the ‘out of the bottle’ dressings.

My daughter gave me this recipe and I’m sure credit must go to Outback directly as it tastes exactly like their yummy ranch dressing. I made it, and immediately had to have a salad – it was yummmy!

1 cup of real mayo
1/2 cup of milk
1 TBSP Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Mix (powdered)
1/4 tsp cracked pepper (I used fresh)
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Mix it all together and top on your favorite salad fixings.

I happened to have 1/2 of a petit filet from Outback (dinner the other night.. we splurged!).. so I sliced off a few slices, heated it in the microwave and put my salad greens right on top of it. I wish I’d had a few grape tomatoes to add to it, but as it was, with the dressing, I ate it up.

Typically, I like my salads diced up really neat. Chop the greens into easy to manage bite-size bits, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, shredded cheese, and chopped bacon. I also like fried chicken fingers on top.

One place we like to get salads use to put oriental crunchy noodles on the salad instead of croutons. We loved this. Now that I have a good ranch dressing recipe, I may have to stock up on some of the simple salads fixings – like maybe some homemade croutons… oh yum!

Don’t feel like a salad? Chop up some veggies and use it as a dip.. it’s just as tasty.

The No ‘Poo (no shampoo) Decision and Recipes

A couple of years ago, I came across a couple of posts about the “no ‘poo” method of washing hair. It sounded like something I’d do, but at the time, life was really heavy on me… But just a few months ago, I came across those few posts again. I did a few more searches and made a mental note to pick up a couple of containers and my own jug of Apple Cider Vinegar the next time I went to the store.

Since you are here, reading, you’ve likely already decided you have some interest in this method, so I’m not going to go into all the gritty details of why this method is good, or better. We know we’re surrounded in life with chemicals, shampoo and conditioner are no different. Read on for the basics.

No ‘Poo is just a way of cleaning your hair without the harmful chemicals found in most shampoos and conditioners. It’s cheap.. er, frugal and easy, so set aside your bottles of shampoo and conditioner (really, you can always go back to it, should this no shampoo method not work for you – don’t sweat it and don’t pitch the bottles yet.) and gather up a few simple ingredients. Here are a few things you will want.

Ingredients for the No ‘Poo, no shampoo method of washing your hair:

One or Two containers that are easy to mix, easy to pour. You may dedicate a specific bottle (or two), or you might just want to use a large cup.

You’ll want a spoon or scoop of some sort – I just use an old spoon, like the small spoon that would come in silverware set. I think I’ll switch to a tea-spoon for the longer handle (but keeping the smaller scoop of the spoon).

A box of Baking Soda. You could put this in a pretty jar, or just leave it…. eh..

A jug of Apple Cider Vinegar (if you are collecting articles about this method, you’ll frequently seen this as ACV)

There’s your basics. Easy peas-y.

Long Hair
This is not a picture of the no 'poo method, just long hair.

I use two rubber maid bottles. I rinse them after each use, so my next shower, I can use either bottle for whichever step. Sometimes, I just use one bottle. It’s no big deal.

Before my shower, while the bathroom are water are heating up, I put about 2 rounded teaspoons (not an exact, just “about”) into one container. In the shower, I fill it with about 2 or 2 1/2 cups of water – give a shake.

I have found I prefer to put this solution on my head before I wet my hair. This way I get most on my roots, rather than on the hair length since it can be drying. Turning my head this way and that, I get it on all my scalp, rubbing it gently with my fingertips (not my nails). Rub gently, don’t scrub.

I leave this on while I rinse the bottle. I use about the same amount of ACV as I do Baking Soda, but I just “splash” it into the bottle or cup, then add about 2 or 2 1/2 cups of water. This, I pour over all my hair as it acts as a conditioner, but importantly, it balances the ph of your hair and scalp – so don’t skip this.

The Apple Cider Vinegar does have a light smell while your hair is still wet, but once dry, you don’t smell it. This is all well and good, but I do smell it if I get hot and sweaty… and I don’t like it. I love vinegar in salads and on sandwiches, it definitely has its place in household cleaning and laundry, but I swear, the only thing that comes to mind when I smell it, is coloring Easter eggs… and really, just gross. But, I found a way to combat this negative side effect…

Instead of using plain water to add to your vinegar rinse, I made a strong tea. My plan is to keep tea bags I’ve used for making pitcher of iced tea, and throw them in a gallon jug of water. Over time, they’ll steep. You could also do this with different herbs (lavender quickly comes to mind) and essential oils. One drawback to essentials oils, however, is they are an oil – they don’t mix with water – so you’ll need to make sure you shake your mixture well before using. Then use this water with your splash of ACV and you don’t smell the vinegar (little, if at all) even while it’s wet.

I’ve been using this method for a couple of months now and not only do I like how it makes my hair feel, I am enjoying it.

Just a few notes to add. If you have been reading articles, you’ll know you may have an adjustment period for your hair since it’s use to having to over-produce oils to help moisturize your hair (shampoos and conditioners (certain ones) strip your hair of its natural oils, while others coat it with a barrier that keeps it from getting moisturized naturally. You really don’t need to wash your hair every day, so gradually lengthen the time between washes. I typically wash my hair every five to six days, and it really is good up until that last day – when it feels dirty, but still doesn’t look it.

Where are you with this no ‘poo method? Have you just come across it, and are researching, or have you been doing it for awhile? I’d love to hear your experiences, and even additives to the recipe(s).

Rice Pudding with Leftover Rice

It’s been forever and a day that I enjoyed homemade rice pudding. It’s a memory from when I was about 7 years old, my grandmother and I would make both rice pudding and egg custard.

This evening, one of my daughters made dinner. It included rice – of which she made a lot. Way more rice than we needed for dinner. Spur of the minute I decided to make rice pudding with some of the leftover rice.

I search several different recipes and sort of combined what I thought I wanted. I ate mine while it was still hot, so it was still a bit soupy (like in the photo) but ooh was it yummmy! Here’s how I made mine.. remember some recipes are just a guide – and apparently this is one of them. Don’t be afraid to change it up a bit if your ingredients don’t quite fit.

I used:
3 1/2 cups of milk
2 cups of rice plus a spoonful more
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 TBS butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

I know others like raisins in their rice pudding so if you have some handy, throw some in. I didn’t have any and prefer mine without anyway.

I poured the milk into the pan my daughter had used for the rice along with my semi-measured amount of rice. I turned it on about medium (that’s about 4 on my stove top).

While it was heating I cracked and egg and whisked it up with a fork, added my vanilla.

As the milk and rice was warming up, I measured both sugars and tossed those into the pan along with the pinch of salt. When it came to a slight boil, I turned it down to low/simmer. Stirring often.

I thought I was going to heat everything and then put into the oven on 350 to bake for half and hour, but I was too impatient so I just put in the rest of the ingredients – the egg, vanilla, cinnamon, butter and let cook on the stove about 15-20 minutes. Stirring very often to prevent scalding.

It thickened up a lot as it cooked, but after it cooled was when it really got thicker. I ate a bowl hot and put the rest in the fridge.

There were so many different rice pudding recipes, I’m just adding to the masses. I thought I share anyway since I really didn’t have a specific recipe and just muddled this one together. It is sweet, but I like it sweet.

Frozen Fruit for Snacks

Summer is hot, and sometimes it’s just hard to eat much. Staying hydrated and taking advantage of some of the fresher fruits is just one way to make your summer enjoyable.

Frozen fruit isn’t just for the blender to make yummmy fruit smoothies. Freezing bite-sized pieces of fresh fruits make for great snacks (and on really hot days, even dinner!) throughout the warm season.

Cut up watermelon, whole seedless grapes, peach chunks, raspberries.. the list goes on… place on a cookie sheet small enough to fit in your freezer – space the fruit so it isn’t touching and then freeze. I like to roll some fruits in sugar, like raspberries. If it sounds good, but you don’t want to use real sugar, you can always try one of the calorie free sweeteners like Pure Via or Splenda – I much prefer real sugar… just can’t get my taste buds to accept the other sweeteners.

I’m headed out to my dads to pick some fresh raspberries for freezer jam and frozen snacks… I just hope I manage to bring some home and don’t eat all those sun-kissed berries off the vine instead.

Cheap and Easy Beef Stroganoff with Macaroni Noodles

I’ve kind of been in the mood for some beef stroganoff. Last week I picked up a couple of roasts.. one to make just beef and noodles (appeals to more family members) and one for my own stroganoff dish.

Unfortunately, I was at the end of rope with my crohn’s disease medication and was just so sick. I did manage to cook the roasts and got lots of good roast juice – Em (daughter) finished the beef and noodle for me. I, on the other hand, stayed away from the kitchen for about 4 days…

After starting my new meds on Friday, a couple days later and I was ready to try food again. But the roast still didn’t sound good – thank goodness I got it on sale!

Today I thought I’d try making some stroganoff from a recipe I found on AllRecipes. It wasn’t until I was cooking it, that I decided I’d read the reviews.. egads, I was in trouble… they were very correct. This was bland. But while my noodles (I used macaroni instead of egg noodles) were cooking, I got out some of the beef juice from my roast, added that and some worstershire sauce – huge improvement. But there are some changed I’d make if I were to make it again – I’ll share after the recipe.

For tonights dinner I used:
1 pound ground beef (because I was not feeling well, I didn’t bother draining – high quality meat so it wasn’t so bad)
a few dashes of onion powder (with crohn’s, real onions don’t sit well with me, though I love them)

Once cooked through, I added:
1 tbsp flour – though I questioned myself as to why the recipe called for it… should have left it out.. was sooo thick without
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
and a can of condensed mushroom soup
and about 3/4 cup of sour cream (that makes it stroganoff, so you have to add that!)

Oh.. so thick, I quickly added 1/4 cup of water and removed from heat.

While my noodles (macaroni) were cooking, I added some worstershire sauce (a couple of dashes and then another) and about 3-4 tablespoons of thick beef juice (this was jazzed up while cooking with bouillon cubes).

Drained the noodles, topped with the beef stroganoff and sat down to eat and write it out. Here’s what I would do different next time.

Because I’m not a huge meat eater (more so when it comes to ground beef), I could easily reduce the called for 1 pound to 1/2 a pound (or just do roast as I’d intended – leftover roast would be awesome!).

I’d add some mushrooms to the meat while it was cooking – I would probably have liked to add the shitake I had in the fridge but thought of it too late (darn it!).

I would add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water with a bouillon cube or maybe just beef broth as soon as the meat was browned.

Since I’m adding more liquid, I’d go ahead and add the flour too.

Serve over noodles of choice. I’d say would be kid friendly except my boys are beyond picky.. though they both said it smelled good.

Four Foods on Friday – #74 (my week 6)

Here are my Four Foods on Friday #74 answers:

Valmg says she’s going on a diet of pureed foods soon and needs some answers…

1. What’s your favorite flavor of yogurt?
I like lots of different yogurts but here’s my top favorites.
Just plain Vanilla – this is my top fav because it’s so easy to cut up whatever fruit is handy, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas and toss in. I also like granola cereals or grape nuts on it too.
Aside from the vanilla, I’ll take boysenberry, strawberry, cherry, mixed fruits, blackberry. My boys like orange creme.

As for types of yogurt, I usually just eat the regular kind.. but I used to really like the thick custard style.. but I never see it any more. The whipped is ok, too.

2. Got a recipe for a smoothie?
I’m not much of a recipe follower when it comes to smoothies.. but here’s a site with over a hundred different recipes for making smoothies ~ Fruit Smoothie Recipes by RC.

Typically, I’m a throw whatever I have in the blender and mix it up.. usually a handful of ice, a bit of juice and whatever fruits I’m adding. Sometimes the fruits end up being on the tart side, so a bit of sugar will get mixed in too.

I love raspberries but in smoothies you’ll be sucking up a bazillion seeds.. I kid you not.

3. Got a recipe for split pea soup?
Really and truly I only like peas fresh from the garden.. or the crunchy kind (as in, still fresh) in the pod still that you might toss into a salad or oriental dish. Of all the veggies I like, I just can’t do peas any other way. No split pea soup recipes to share.

4. What’s your favorite kind of pudding?
Chocolate would be my favorite. But I like banana pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers. Cheesecake pudding is good (use graham crackers, melted butter and some sugar for a crust if you want a pie). Rice pudding and Tapioca pudding are both yummy too!