Thirty Minute Weeknight Dinner

Having people over for dinner takes a lot of preperation but is something I love to do. With everyones busy schedules of work, kids, pratices, church and meetings it can seem impossible to get dinner on the table for our own family let alone guest. I have found a few “hacks” to make this happen and thought I would share them with you.

This is one of my favorites to do when I am low on time but having people over for dinner on a weeknight. One of my favorite store is The Fresh Market. I buy all of my meats there and on occassion I buy pre-made things there. Another favorite of mine is Costco. They have pre-made meals also.

The Costco meal feeds 4-5 people for $16.00. The Fresh Market meals feed 2 people. You also have to prepare the Fresh Market meals but it is very quick.

To make my dinner look more homemade I remove the Chicken Alfredo from the store packeage and put it in my own dish.

I followed the instruction on the package for baking time and that was it! Since I love entertaining I set my table with dishes, napkins and silverware before anyone arrives. I also make an Italian olive oil for dipping the bread in that I bought at the Fresh Market. The Fresh Market will slice your bread for you in the bakery area. Warm this bread in the oven for a few minutes before serving.

While the Chicken Alfredo bakes I shred cheese and make dipping oil. I shred my own Parmesan cheese, cut up fresh garlic and add a little of each of the seasonings. You can’t mess this up! I place this on the table next to each plate.

I added a salad and there you have it! A weeknight dinner made for guest in under 30 minutes!

I did make homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies the day before for dessert but if you don’t have time for that, look at these beauties you can buy at The Fresh Market:

Just put the dessert on your own platter and serve.

I hope this helps you to see how easy it can be. And yes, I do usually make everything homemade myself but in this day and time we need simple, quick and tasty!

Happy Cooking!

Kids In The Car

With summer upon and vacations coming, a lot of moms and dads are trying to figure out how to keep the kids entertained during the car ride.

Our family takes a beach trip every summer where all sixteen of us meet at a large house for a week! It is a blast! The kids get bored with nothing to do and then they begin to have disagreements or start to complain. This is a quick little thing I came up with for my grandchildren (and to help their parents) to make their time in the car a little more enjoyable.

I make them a backpack full of surprises and a few snacks. You always need snacks! I try and choose the least messy snacks and add a personal purell wipe for their hands after they have their snack.

The dollar store is a great place to purchase a few items for backpacks. Always including drawing pads, coloring books, crayons, fun pencils and a highlighter. The highlighter is for completing the family word search (which I made on line using all of their names), the scavenger hunt and the bingo card. These items are all simple but to the kids it is a surprise fun travel bag. You can put whatever you’d like in your bag.

I purchased the bags on line. They were $16.00 for 12 bags. Using my cricut machine I added their names.

The girls backpack and the boys backpack are a little different due to their interest but it keeps the kids off the screens for a while and entertains them.

I hope this simple idea helps you when you travel with the kids this summer!

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Happy travels!

Trendy Textured Vases DIY

If you’re anything like me, your interior design style changes regularly! So how do you keep up with the current trends without constantly spending money on new décor? You D.I.Y!

This project was super easy, the longest part was waiting for the paint to try. I found some old vases of mine, and thrifted some as well.

I made sure to clean them to make sure all dust/dirt didn’t mess with the paint. I also lightly sanded down the vases that I could to help the paint adhere better.

This whole project cost around $20, and that price also depends on if you use vases you have or thrift them (both are cheap options!) The Home Depot carries these RUST-OLEUM spray paint options. The “Bleached Stone” spray added the texture, and then the “Chiffon Cream” Chalked spray added the color. There are other colors to choose from in the textured and chalked spray painted in case you prefer a darker color. You could use any color overtop of the texture that you wish!

I covered the vases in the textured finish first, and allowed them time to try completely. I did the bottom side, and then flipped them right-side up once the bottom was dry.

It took a few coats of the top color to cover the original color of the vases, but the amount of texture you want is up to you.

Once everything was completely painted, I added a little more of the texture spray on top of the circular vase because it was a slightly darker tint and I wanted to give it some contrast.

Style with flowers, pampas grass, or leave them as is!

It’s That Time Of Year Again..

It’s that time of year again for strawberry jam! Today, I went by the strawberry farm and picked up 4 baskets of strawberries! I am super pumped about making jam this year because I didn’t get to make jam last year due to the stores being out of canning jars. I have my jars and berries on this perfect jam making day.

I really enjoy my time in the kitchen being creative; so, to make jam is a pleasure to me. No one is home, the doors are open, and the birds are singing. What a perfect beautiful day!

I bought my jars at Wal-Mart. They didn’t have two cases of the same, so one jar is 16 ounces and the other is 12 ounces.

I started by finding a very large bowl, then cleaning and cutting the tops off the strawberries.

While I am cleaning my strawberries I also have a large pot of water on the stove top with boiling water to sanitize the glass jars before I fill them with jam. I left the jars to boil slowly for about 5 minutes.

Make sure to have several dish towels and paper towels available for grabbing when trying to lift the jars out of the hot water. This tip helped me from getting burned by just grabbing the jars with my hands. I used tongs to get mine out of the boiling water. Then, set the jars aside to air dry.

Now that I have the strawberries cleaned and am ready to start. I take a potato masher and mash the strawberries in my bowl. This did take me a little time because I made so much.

After mashing for a while the strawberries became a little syrupy. I didn’t want large chunks of strawberries in my jam so I used my mixer to finish the smashing job.

Now, we are going to move the strawberries to the heat and add the pectin, sugar, and lemon. And I mean a lot of sugar.

Mix all ingredients well. You must keep a close eye on the strawberry mixture at this point so it doesn’t boil over on the stove.

The mixture has to reach a temperature of 220*. As the strawberries cook, they produce a light pink froth on top. The froth needs to be scraped off. Stir your strawberry mixture often as it slowly heats up to 220 degrees. When you can stir the mixture without interrupting the boil, set a timer for 1 minute and 30 seconds. I had my gas stove on 5-6 which is a medium-high setting.

After the temperature reaches the 220 degree mark, you can turn the heat off. We are ready to fill the jars. I use a half cup measuring cup to fill the jars. Fill jars leaving about 1/4-1/2 in head space and add tops for sealing. Screw lids on pretty tight so water doesn’t get inside them during the water bath at the end.

If you are going to store your jam you will need to process the jam in a water bath. Boil water in a large pot. Make sure the jar and lid are fully submerged and boil for 5 minutes. When you remove the jam from the hot water bath, set them aside to seal. You will hear a pop from each jar as it seals.

If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with this step and just refrigerate.

I used 3 large baskets of berries, which made 11 cups of mashed strawberries.

3 boxes of pectin or 16 TBS – I bought pectin at Walmart

11 cups of sugar

juice from 4 fresh lemons

I made twelve-12 ounce jars and six-16 ounce jars from my 3 baskets of strawberries.

I have used this jam in a homemade strawberry cake, on pancakes and waffles or just with good ole peanut butter. You could also use the jam as a house warming gift for a new neighbor or to give to a hostess of a dinner party. I love having the jam available for whatever use I have!

Making jam was quite easy and fun! If you make a good amount, you can share with your family and friends. If you would like to make a small batch, here is that recipe:

1 cup mashed strawberries

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 TBS pectin

juice from 1/2 of a lemon

From here, you would follow all of the same instructions.

I hope you enjoy your jam making as much as I did!

Chewy Brownies!

These yummy, made-from-scratch brownies can be whipped up and ready in just 45 minutes! This recipe is also a dairy-free recipe. Most of these ingredients you will be able to find sitting in your pantry! Here’s what you need:

  • 3/4 c. refined coconut oil or canola oil
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar-packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 c. cocoa powder-sifted
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. espresso powder-optional
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped dairy-free chocolate (I used dairy-free chocolate chips)

First you will need to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper or spray an 8×8 glass dish. In a bowl you will need to add your oil, sugars, and vanilla. Use a mixer and mix about 1 minute or until well combined. Add in the eggs and the yolk one at a time and mix in between. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking powder, and espresso powder (optional). Slowly add these dry ingredients into the egg mixture along with the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. This is your batter! Pour the batter into your prepared dish and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean! Remove from the oven and let them stand for at least 30 minutes before serving. Super quick, super easy, super yummy. Here are the pictures of the progress and the final product! These can be enjoyed with a cold glass of milk…or in my case, a cold glass of almond milk! Enjoy!

Best Burger Recipe

This week when I was coming up with dinners for the week, I remembered going to Hops Burgers in our city and how delicious their burgers are. One of their burgers is served with an egg, one has pimento cheese and several have bacon. They are the best burgers in town! So, I thought I would try and make a “gourmet” burger myself. Of course, it was raining and I could not use my outside grill so I used my cast iron skillet instead. I do have a secret ingredient that I put in all burgers that make them very juicy and tender. I will share it with you in the recipe. You can adjust this recipe very easily.

For the burger patties:

4 pounds of fresh ground beef

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (Secret Ingredient)

Salt and pepper each burger well

Mix all ingredients well with hand and make patties. Shape them cupped.

While you are working on your burgers place your bacon on a cookie sheet and bake at 350* (pre-heated oven) for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bacon. You will need one piece of bacon per burger.

I placed my burgers in a hot cast iron skillet for 2 minutes on each side. Cupped side down first. I also started to fry my eggs and as a added touch, I seared red onions to add to the deliciousness!

Once I flip the burgers I started adding the pimento cheese, bacon and lightly cooked egg in layers. We don’t eat bread so I put our burgers on a bed of arugula and tomatoes. After assembly of the burgers I put them in a hot oven (350*) for about 5-6 more minutes. This melts the pimento cheese and cooks the burger to a medium rare, medium temperature.

The flavor with all of the different topping was like a party in my mouth!!

Recipe:

4 pounds fresh ground beef (Fresh Market has fresh ground beef for $2.99 a pound on Tuesdays every week)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

salt and pepper

bacon (one piece per burger)

pimento cheese

eggs (one per burger)

red onions (optional)

buns or lettuce for your burger

**Read recipe through before starting**

Mix first 3 ingredients well and shape burgers. Cook in cast iron skillet for 2 minutes each side. Cupped side first.

***Make bacon ahead of time. Preheat oven to 350* and cook bacon for 20-25 minutes or until crispy. The time depends on the thickness of your bacon.

Slice red onion and sear on your grill pan or in a cast iron skillet

Cook egg on flat top skillet or in fry pan. Spray pan with PAM before placing egg in pan.

Make sure to have bacon, egg and pimento cheese ready to assemble your burgers before burgers are ready to go in the oven. It doesn’t really matter the order you layer your ingredients. I did pimento cheese, egg, bacon and a dollop of pimento cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes in the cast iron skillet. Longer if you like your burgers well done.

Hope you enjoy these burgers as much as we did!

Tips for Successful Spring Cleaning

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Spring is just around the corner and we know what that means…SPRING CLEANING! Our blog is always full of tips and tricks and this time we want to bring you a few tips on successful spring cleaning! Get a head start to freshening up and expelling the winter blues from your home!

Did you know that tackling your home bit-by-bit is the most effective way to clean?

Creating checklists for projects you want to complete in each room is a way to stay organized and stay on track! Here’s a sample lists…

Master Bedroom

  • Clean baseboards
  • Vacuum
  • Deep-clean carpets
  • Dust
  • Pack away winter clothes
  • Hang up summer/spring clothes
  • Clean windows/blinds

Now you can get as creative as you’d like with your spring cleaning. Some people stick to the basic cleaning chores such as vacuuming and dusting, while others hire teams like us to come in and deep-clean carpet or window cleaners to come shine up their windows! How serious is your spring cleaning going to be this year?

Did you know that having minimal cleaning products is the best way to be?

When thinking about spring cleaning you might head down the aisle at the super market with all the commercial cleaning products. While there is nothing wrong with these products stocking up on a bunch of things you do not need defeats the purpose of spring cleaning. Why clutter up your closets and cabinets with all these cleaners when 1 all-purpose cleaner would suffice? There are even tons of all-purpose cleaner recipes you can whip up at home very low-cost and they go a long way too!

Did you know getting rid of items is a really big part of spring cleaning?

A lot of the time our cleaning consists of just organizing what we have…spring cleaning should involve not only organizing what we have, but getting rid of what we don’t need to minimize the clutter. Here’s a simple way of approaching de-cluttering: Trash, Give-Away, Store, Keep.

Did you know that involving even the smallest of helpers will ease your work load?

Sometimes it’s easier just to do it yourself…I know you know what I mean! Involving the entire family in the spring cleaning process will help more than you realize. Throw on some tunes or go out for a treat after your done…it can be fun! Let the kids rummage through their stuffed animals and toys and choose what to donate…let your husband hit the garage! Teamwork makes the dream work!

Did you know that establishing daily or weekly cleaning habits will make spring cleaning easier?

Spring cleaning can feel like a HUGE chore to tackle! At the end of your spring cleaning when you feel like new and your house feels fresh…take in that feeling! Doesn’t it feel good? Yes! Developing a few cleaning habits will help you to feel this way all year round and make your spring cleaning feel like an average day of household chores!

Zimmerman Carpet and Rug Cleaners is here to help those of you with the big spring cleaning lists! Carpet cleaning, rug cleaning, tile and grout, upholstery, hardwoods, mattresses and more! Give us a call!

Dairy Free Personal Pizzas!

Another YUMMY dairy-free recipe that I tried and honestly…it was some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten! I will definitely be making this again. Here are the ingredients I used for my personal pizzas:

  • Almond Flour Pizza Dough Mix
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Water
  • Toppings of Choice ( I chose to use Italian Sausage, Red Onion, and Bell Pepper)
  • Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
  • Organic Pizza Sauce

To start this wonderful recipe you’ll have to make your pizza dough according to the box. Of course you can go with any brand but with the Simple Mills brand you have to mix together your water, oil, and apple cider vinegar. After you whisk that together you’ll want to add your pizza dough mix to the bowl and mix that together as well. A little tip here: If the dough begins to crumble and fall apart, just add a little water!

With this brand of dough mix you can make 1 10×10 square pizza or 2 8-inch personal size pizzas. I decided to do the circular pizzas. I split the dough in half and balled it up and then patted it down into pizza shapes! Then I baked the dough for 15 minutes with no toppings. In the mean time, I prepped my toppings by browning my Italian sausage and chopping and sautéing my bell pepper and red onion.

After the 15 minutes was over I pulled the dough from the oven and added my pizza sauce and toppings!

After you’re done prepping your pizzas with the toppings…stick them back in the oven for 15-20 more minutes and there you have it! Dairy-Free pizza! Yum!

One thing to take note of too…if you’re using vegan cheese of any sorts, it does not melt well!! It tastes melted but it doesn’t appear to be melted as you can see from the photo above!

If you attempt this recipe or any other dairy-free recipes let us know! Yum! Enjoy!

Dairy Free Cajun Chicken Pasta

Since having a baby, I was advised by his pediatrician to go dairy free to help his little belly digest breastmilk better! This seems like an easy task but once you do your research…dairy is in EVERYTHING! This was a fun, yummy dish to experiment with without dairy. Of course you could add cheese and use heavy whipping cream or whatever you wish but this is how I made the Dairy Free Cajun Chicken Pasta!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Cups Chicken broth
  • 1 can Fireroasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced Yellow Onion
  • Green Onion (for garnish)
  • Box of Gluten free pasta
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Coconut cream
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Package of Smoked sausage
First you’ll want to start by cooking your chicken breast. I cooked 2 large breasts in a skillet with olive oil. It takes about 10 minutes per side.
Once the chicken is cooked you will want to dice it up and and some seasoning…
Cajun seasoning! I used 2 TBSP…the recipe only calls for 1
In the meantime I chopped up all of the sausage and the yellow onion!
Add the onion and the sausage to the chicken and simmer until the onion is transparent
While the chicken mixture is simmering, boil your pasta according to the package…
Once everything was ready I added the pasta and the chicken mixture to the crockpot to keep everything warm…you could certainly keep warm in the oven or on the stove top

I then added the coconut cream, fire roasted tomatoes, and chicken broth to the crockpot and mixed everything together. Bon Appetit! I added some vegan mozzarella cheese and green onion for garnish to the top before serving and it was delicious! Stay tuned for some more dairy-free ideas!!!

Tidy Home Tips for 2021

With the new year comes lots of New Year’s Resolutions…some stick, some don’t. Gyms get a lot of new members on January 1 and I’m sure by February 1 a majority of the new members have already fallen off of the wagon.

I’m here to let you in on a more reasonable New Year’s Resolution…Keeping your house tidy! It sounds easy but when you’re working full time, taking care of the kids, cooking, etc. it’s hard to stay on top of the house hold chores! Messes accumulate quickly but this blog exists to help you keep your home tidy in 2021 and in years to come!

STEP 1

Keep it clean! Tidy people don’t typically act messy all day and then clean everything up at the end of the day all at once. It is so valuable and so helpful to keep simple, tiny habits that-when added together-help the overall tidiness of your home! Tidy people are always “tidying” on the down-low…even if they don’t realize it.

STEP 2

Tidy people never run out of cleaning supplies…let’s be honest! What’s on your grocery list? My grocery list tells all my secrets. It shows that I’m not the most tidy person in the world when I need wet mop pads, dish detergent, and more! The tidiest people find cleaning products they love and always stock up on them. EXTRA tidy people even sign up for websites that auto-ship cleaning products to their home every month. I don’t think my level of tidiness will ever achieve cleaning supply shipments delivered to my door step…but who knows…2021 might change me!

STEP 3

You know how they say “never go to bed angry”? Well, it’s kind of the same for tidy people. Tidy people never-ever let the sun go down on filth. Tidy people never watch their favorite show while snuggled up on the sofa while there is a sink full of dirty dishes. Wanna be tidy in 2021? Your motto should be “there’s no better time than now!”

STEP 4

Woven baskets are in right now…BUT, tidy people never store anything on the floor! Take a look around your house…are you tidy? I’m certainly not. Whether it’s the basket by the front door full of shoes or the basket by the back door full of school back packs and lunch boxes…let these go in 2021! This seems to be a secret of tidy people…remove that stack of books from the floor! Instant tidying!

STEP 5

This is one thing I struggle with because I like…stuff. Tidy people do not over decorate! Tidy people strive to only have 1-3 decorative pieces per surface depending on the size. In 2021, less is more.

Whatever your New Year’s Resolution is, I hope you achieve it! If your New Year’s Resolution is to keep your life less cluttered and to keep your home tidy…follow these simple tips! Stay tidy, my friends!