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Rachel

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins

I found a recipe for Chocolate Chip Strawberry Bread on Pinterest and was immediately intrigued.  I liked the idea of combining chocolate and strawberries, and banana bread had grown a little tiresome for me lately, so this seemed like a fun, new twist.  I adapted the recipe to be slightly healthier by substituting coconut oil for the vegetable oil and raw honey for the sugar.  I prefer to make muffins rather than bread as they cook faster, stay moister, and are easier and less messy to serve to kids than slices of bread.

I will not claim that these muffins are low fat, but if you wanted a lower fat version, I would substitute apple sauce for the coconut oil–I’ve had great results with that with my banana bread, just have found that it’s not as moist.  But, if you’re looking for an indulgent treat that has healthy fatty acids and is naturally sweet, this recipe with the coconut oil (can be found at Walmart with the vegetable shortening and cooking oils) and raw honey is for you.

If you take out the chocolate chips and strawberries, this could be a great base recipe for any kind of muffins.  You could make your own variation by substituting bananas, blueberries, nuts, raisins, apples, oatmeal and any other number of things–just have fun with it.

**A fun little tip that I’ve discovered for pouring batter into muffin tins without the mess is to spray a 1/4 cup measuring cup with nonstick spray and then use it to scoop the batter and pour into the muffin tins.  1/4 cup is just about the perfect amount for each muffin and with the nonstick spray, the batter just slides right out of the measuring cup.**

Here is my recipe, adapted from the original at Dash of East.  I’ve also included a printable version below for my oilcloth mini binders.  Enjoy! 

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins

(Adapted from dashofeast.com Chocolate Chip Strawberry Bread)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cup half whole wheat/half white flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
  • 1⁄2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1⁄2 cup raw honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1⁄2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1cup strawberries, diced

Baking:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl beat eggs, then add oil, honey and strawberries and mix well. Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into muffin tins filling each approximately 2/3 full. Bakes for 15-18 min. till brown on top and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins




Rachel

Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese

Photo courtesy of macaroniandcheesecake.com

Good ole fashioned boxed mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but in recent years I discovered that the made-from-scratch version is not only tastier, but dare I say, easier, to make than the boxed.  Okay, maybe not easier, but its definitely not harder, I promise.  With just three ingredients–milk, shredded cheese and noodles–you’ve got a wholesome, hearty meal in minutes flat.  Just keep a bag of shredded cheddar cheese in the fridge and plenty of dry noodles in the cabinet (I use whatever I have on hand, penne, elbow noodles, pasta shells or sometimes egg noodles), and a batch of hot, homemade, creamy mac and cheese is always just fifteen minutes away.  Of course we still keep a few boxes of the instant stuff around for emergency situations, but the “real cheese” version, as we call it in our family, is always a crowd-pleaser.

But, with the help of this pinteresting find, homemade mac and cheese just got even easier.  The secret twist?  Boil the noodles in the milk!  No need to strain the noodles.  The milk makes a nice warm, creamy base so that the shredded cheese instantly melts when added to the noodles.  We  just whipped up a batch of it for dinner and were not disappointed.  The added surprise of a little dijon mustard in this recipe is the icing on top.  I even made it with whole grain noodles and my kids didn’t even notice.

Below is the recipe, but be sure to head over the Macaroni and Cheesecake for the original post.  I’ve adapted it a little according to my experience with it.  I found that it didn’t take a full twenty minutes for the noodles to cook, and I didn’t let it sit for five minutes before serving–whoever suggested that didn’t have five “starving” boys breathing down their necks ready to eat! (:  Also, I borrowed their photography (been feeling a little lazy lately about pulling out my camera), so all credit for the beautiful picture above goes to my original source.  Enjoy!

Revolutionary Mac & Cheese
Adapted from: Macaroni and Cheesecake

Ingredients:
2 cups dried pasta
2 cups milk
1 cup loosely packed shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:

In a small saucepan, add pasta and milk.  Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook until the pasta is tender, stirring frequently and ensuring milk does not boil.

Turn heat off, add cheese, salt and mustard and stir to combine.

Printable Version for your oilcloth mini binder below:



Rachel

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

It’s been such a busy week that I nearly forgot to share this recipe with you.  I’ve never embarked on making pudding from scratch before because I always thought that it required using raw eggs.  But, I stumbled upon this recipe last week and was intrigued because it didn’t use eggs.  The real name of the recipe is  Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding–I decided cornstarch isn’t an ingredient you want to highlight in a recipe, so I’m changing the name to Homemade Chocolate Pudding instead, it sounds much yummier.  The best part about homemade pudding to me is that it’s another way to cut packaged food out of our kitchen.  Once you try this recipe, I promise you’ll never want the instant stuff in your house again.

This takes about ten minutes to make and most likely, you have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen.  We chose to chill it before serving–it was a huge hit in our family.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe and enjoy!

Homemade Chocolate Pudding (from allrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 Tbs margarine or butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium heat, and stir in milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in margarine and vanilla. Let cool briefly, and serve warm, or chill in refrigerator until serving.

Printable version:

homemade chocolate pudding




Rachel

Homemade All-Purpose Mix Recipe

A pantry full of homemade mixes

Just to clarify any possible misunderstandings, the picture above is not my pantry.  I stumbled across another Pinteresting find recently–a list of homemade mixes you can keep on hand for baking and cooking.  I try to keep a homemade pancake mix and waffle mix always on hand, and have always aspired to keeping more mixes in the cabinets, but hadn’t gotten that far yet.  This list of many mixes is nearly complete, and a great resource.  It includes: biscuit mix, cornbread mix, maple brown sugar oatmeal mix (a personal favorite for me, we love instant oatmeal around here, but don’t love the cost or the long list of ingredients that we can’t pronounce), pancake mix, tortilla mix, brownie mix and more.

As I take the baby steps towards cutting processed foods out of our house, this is a logical next step.  When you make a mix yourself, it gives you complete control over what you’re eating, saves money, and you can usually pronounce every ingredient in it–that’s always a good thing.  Besides all that, since I’m not a morning person (that’s an understatement), having pancake mix available means my boys can just grab it out of the cabinet and make up their own pancakes in a jiffy in the mornings.  (Yes, my older boys make their own pancakes–unless it’s a Saturday morning and A.T. is in town, it’s survival of the fittest around here before 8 o’clock in the morning and my boys have learned to adapt.)

A quick word about vegetable shortening, which this mix calls for: if you, like me, have your doubts about the health benefits of shortening, consider using coconut oil (a solid form, like shortening, at room temperature) or lard.  Yes, you heard me right, there are some who say that lard is actually better for you than shortening and butter (check out this article).  And, you an find it on the grocery store isles in large tubs, though still not in it’s purest form…

I made a printable recipe card for the quick all-purpose mix, along with recipes that she includes that use the quick mix.  (I am excited to try the self-crusting quiche.)  I hope to add more printables of her other mix recipes in the coming days.

Enjoy the printable version, add it your your mini recipe book, I’m about to!  If you enjoy it, make sure to stop by her site and let her know–it’s always nice to know you’re appreciated!

quick mix recipes

 




Rachel

Whole Wheat Bread Recipes adapted for bread machines

We are taking baby steps over here to cut processed foods and preservatives from our vocabulary.  We haven’t started a chicken farm yet, and don’t own any goats or cows, but I’m trying to identify simple things that I can do to reduce our dependence on grocery store supply chains and  ingredients in our foods that I can’t pronounce.

Along those lines, I’ve found 100 Days of Real Food to be an inspiring website.  I’m not feeling as ambitious as her yet, but have appreciated some of her tips and recipes to taking the small steps towards processed-free foods.  One take-away I got from her was the idea of returning to the good old-fashioned bread machine.  I think when bread machines first came out, people appreciated them for the creative freedom they offered to experiment with yummy, homemade bread without all the sweat equity that traditionally went into it.  Recently we’ve also started to recognize the health benefits.  With only five minutes of preparation, you end up with complete control over the ingredients going into your bread.  I mean, I can pronounce the words flour, yeast, salt and water.  So, when my boys bite into a piece of bread with only those ingredients in it, I can feel good about what’s going into their bodies.

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Rachel

Slow Cooker Applesauce

I have so many Pinteresting finds to share lately, I don’t know where to start!

So, today’s pinteresting find is crock pot applesauce–or, I guess technically it should be “slow cooker applesauce,” because not all of us are using name brand Crock Pots.  All credit goes to All Things Mama for this recipe.  The only thing I did differently than her was to pull out my submersion blender (best $20 I spent at Walmart EVER) and blend it till their were no chunks–though I like a good, chunky applesauce, I was afraid my boys wouldn’t.  Maybe I’ll get more brave in the future and leave a few chunks here and there.

apples in the slow cooker

The boys devoured it when I made it for dinner last week.  I managed to salvage enough of it for A.T. and I to have a couple spoonfuls, but that’s par for the course around here–A.T. and I scrape plates to get our share of the food.  Yes, I added the sugar, but in the future I may slowly wean us off the sugar and see if my boys still like it.

I’ve included a printable recipe below, as usual, made to fit in my oilcloth mini binders.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you print out any of my printable recipes, we love to hear from you!

slow cooker apple sauce




Rachel

“Healthy” Oatmeal Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies

I love oatmeal raisin cookies, but I have one son who doesn’t like raisins.  For some reason, this son does like chocolate covered raisins, and though I’m not one to tend towards accommodating picky eaters, I did wonder if he’d like oatmeal cookies with chocolate covered raisins.  So, I decided to give it a try.  Mission successful!

I’ve had a oatmeal cookie recipe for a while that I use, but I’ve made a lot of adaptations to it over the years.  I will share the resulting recipe, with chocolate covered raisins included.  The reason I put the word healthy in quotations is because I think anything that calls for shortening is questionable in terms of its health benefits.  But I have done some things like lower the amount of sugar the basic recipe calls for, added flaxseed meal for an extra punch of nutrition, and replaced the eggs with applesauce.  The final adjustment actually happened on accident because I was out of eggs when I made this (a surprise when I opened the fridge and found out that boy #2 made the rest of the eggs for his breakfast that morning), so I substituted the applesauce instead.  The result was great, and maybe even slightly more healthy than real eggs.

As for the chocolate covered raisins, I’m sure you could add them to any oatmeal cookie recipe with great results.  They are obviously a more expensive alternative to raisins, but I buy mine in bulk from Sam’s, which is the only reason I’m willing to offer this luxury to my family. (:  As a little tip for making these cookies with regular raisins instead, I started soaking my raisins for 5-10 minutes in water before adding them to my oatmeal cookie dough (to clarify, not the chocolate covered raisins, the normal raisins!) just to make them extra plump and juicy.  If you decide to use regular raisins in this recipe instead, I’d suggest upping the amount of brown sugar from 3/4 cup to 1 cup, as the chocolate actually helps keep the cookies sweet enough with the lowered amount of sugar, but that’s just what I would do.

Oatmeal Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening (I’m sure butter or margarine would work too, with a slightly different outcome in texture)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (or two large eggs)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (I use half white, half whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup chocolate covered raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together shortening and sugar and beat in the applesauce.  Mix the flour, salt and baking soda together and beat into the creamed mixture.  In a separate bowl, mix together the dry oatmeal and the flaxseed meal.  Add the water to the dry ingredients and stir till wet throughout.  Then stir the oatmeal mixture and chocolate covered raisins into the creamed mixture till blended.  Put heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto cookie sheets and bake for 13-15 minutes.




Rachel

Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup



Ingredients


Sauteing Onions


Adding in the tomatoes

I’m sharing a wonderful recipe for creamy tomato soup that I found on Pinterest.  I started making homemade tomato soup years ago, but was never completely happy with my recipe.  This recipe had the missing ingredient that I was looking for–cream.  Yes, tomato soup should be creamy!

One word of warning–if you introduce your family to homemade tomato soup, they may never eat the stuff from the can again!  I learned this the hard way, but it was too late, there was no going back.

I made some adaptations to the recipe that I found here.  I doubled it to make it feed our family, but also tweaked a few things that I felt helped the flavor and made it simpler, in my opinion.  The recipe and directions are below.  It makes approximately a gallon of soup.

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Rachel

Chocolate Custard

I recently stumbled upon a recipe for chocolate custard and thought it might be fun to make some with the boys after reading the classic story, The Poky Little Puppy.  My younger three really enjoy that story, and it’s very appropriate, you know, since having five boys is sort of like having five puppies.  And we even have a “poky” one.

Then they counted themselves, one, two three, four. "Now, where in the world is that poky little puppy?" In this story, he was finishing his math homework, very fitting.

Assembling our supplies

The poky little puppy finishes his math homework and helps mix some ingredients

The final product

The final product was very tasty, but very rich.  If I were to do it again, I’d try using milk chocolate chips rather than bittersweet chocolate.  True custard aficionados might bristle at the thought, but it would be more kid-friendly.

The recipe that we used is below, we tripled this recipe (accept for the whipped cream part) to make six ramekins full.

So read yourself some Poky Little Puppy and enjoy!

Chocolate Custard

  • 1/4 c  milk
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1 lg egg yoke
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (we used 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • pinch of ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and two tablespoons of the sugar and heat until steaming and the sugar is dissolved.  Whisk in the egg yolk.  Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened about two minutes.  Add the chocolate and salt and whisk till melted and smooth.  Whisk in the butter till melted.  Pour the custard into shallow bowls and refrigerate till firm, about five minutes.  Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat the heavy cream, cinnamon and remaining sugar until whipped.  Dollop the cream on top of the custard and serve.

 




Rachel

Brownies, Waffle Style

Written by
Jan 27, 2012 | Pinteresting Finds, rbt Bags, Topics | Tags: , ,

I’m encroaching on my 1,000th Etsy sale!  In celebration, I am doing a countdown to 1,000 sales on my Facebook page.  We will do a drawing of three lucky Facebook fans for an rbt bags’ giveaway when we reach that 1,000th sale, so be sure to like us on Facebook, if you don’t already, for a chance at that drawing!

In the meantime, I’m working hard over here, picking out our new oilcloth colors for Spring 2012, can’t wait to see what we have in store for you this spring!

On a very different note, the boys and I tried yet another Pinteresting Find this week.  It’s a waffle, it’s a brownie, it’s a waffle brownie!  Yes, we poured our brownie batter onto our trusty, 12-year-old waffle iron (a wedding present that’s taken a beating over the years, and even lost a leg, but still keeps going!) and out came a waffle brownie, soft and chewy!  The conclusion was that this was a fun, new twist on an old traditional favorite and was a great way to get a brownie fast if you don’t like waiting 25 minutes for your pan of brownies to cook while the smell wafts through the kitchen, teasing you all the while!  For a link to the directions on making your brownies in the waffle iron, click here (hint, use CHOW’s Intense Brownie recipe for this, you won’t regret it!).  I also tried some chocolate chip muffins on the waffle iron and enjoyed those as well!  Bon Appetit!




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