Sunday, November 22, 2015

I have been making these for a while....well, since I became extremely frugal and hated paying $5 for a small cone of them at ren fairs or the mall.

And let me tell you, these things are addictive!

The flavor variations are endless. You can do what I'm showing you here. Or you can do hot...and add cayenne....mmmm... or do a nutmeg/allspice blend for a twist on traditional flavors.

Doesn't that look just darn tasty? Ohhh, the crunchy sweet goodness and cinnamon love!

Seriously, these are so easy to make you will wonder why you ever bought them in the first place.
What do you need to make them? Nothing more than cinnamon, sugar, nuts (whatever kind you prefer or a mix), parchment paper and a pan and spatula (I use a wooden spatula). That's it.

The amount of sugar depends on how much you're going to make....general rule of thumb I use is 1/4 cup sugar for one pan of nuts. You can adjust this as you go along, as you'll see in my video. I cook by feel, so my measurements are estimates, usually. The amount of cinnamon can vary, but I use about a 1/4 tsp for each pan of nuts. You can add more or less to your taste.  You'll need to spread out parchment paper to put the nuts when they come out of the hot pan.

Here's a printed version recipe I use:

Cinnamon Roasted Nuts

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pan of nuts (about 2 cups)
Parchment paper
Spatula or wooden spoon
Frying pan.

Put nuts in pan, make sure it covers the bottom of the pan in approximately a single layer (in other words, not going up the sides of the pan).
Remove nuts from pan. Turn on the heat to heat up the pan.
Add sugar.
When it starts to melt, stir with wooden spoon and add cinnamon.
Add the nuts, stirring to coat them in the liquefying sugar.
Stir about a minute to two minutes longer....making sure to keep the nuts moving so they (nuts and sugar) don't burn.
Turn off the heat.
Pour hot nuts onto parchment paper and flatten out with wooden spoon.
When cool, break them up by hand.
Place in covered container to retain freshness....but honestly., mine don't last long enough to worry about freshness.

And without further's my video. Two minutes and done. Seriously silly easy.
Go forth and make easy cinnamon roasted nuts. You won't be able to stop eating them, so buy a lot of nuts!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

I make this for my dad who says it's the only thing that relieves his pain. Even his prescription painkillers don't work as well.
I'm not saying this will work as well for you as everyone is different and you have to use what works for you. But give this a try, and see how it goes.

I modified a recipe I found over at If you want to see their original over to them.

For me- this is what I did:


Sage 1 tsp
Water 1 cup (+ more for double boiler)
 4 oz Glass Jar & Lid (canning jar works great)
Eucalyptus Essential Oil 20 drops
Clove Essential Oil 10 drops
Peppermint Essential Oil 20 drops
Oregano Essential Oil 10 drops
Beeswax pellets 1/2 oz
Coconut Oil 2 ozs

Add 1 tsp dried, crushed sage to 1 cup water. I grow and dry my own sage, so I can't be sure if you use a store-bought version if it would work as well...but try it and let me know how it goes...

Bring the sage and water to a boil and reduce by half. (Once reduced, strain out the herb- it's the water left you want.)

Meanwhile, in a double boiler add the wax and coconut oil. Heat until melted, careful not to burn it.
Remove from heat.
Let cool for a few minutes (but not solidify) then add essential oils mix it well.
Add 2 tsp sage water and whip it well.
Pour or spoon into glass jar and allow to cool slowly and completely before using.
Rub on sore muscles.

This recipe also doubles well, and with the sage water, you'll have enough to make 3 or 4 batches all at once.

It's that easy.  Go forth with your newfound knowledge and be well!

Friday, October 9, 2015


While the best bacon is cooked over an open fire, second best is usually done at home. And let's face it, that's where most of us are 90% of the time. Right?
So unless you plan to fire up the grill, start a backyard pit, or go camping, I have simplified the at-home bacon cooking process. And bonus! you get to keep all that bacon-y goodness smell.

Cooking bacon on a rack in the oven is not new.  Nope. It's been around for a while and it's how I've been cooking my bacon for several years. But I figured out that I hate cleaning the pan, even if I put down a layer of foil first. Besides, the bacon tends to stick and what a pain in the arse to get the bacon off without breaking it, right?

Enter- the new and improved tin foil oven baking bacon method! (Say that three times fast!)
 So- go grab your bacon, your rack and your foil.

Pull out two pieces of foil to fit lengthwise on your about an inch on either side.
Now, what you will need to do is make creases, mountains, whatever you wish to call them, along the SHORT side of your foil. That way, when you put it in your sheet, the mountain creases go left- to-right across the length of your sheet.

Then you're going to want to lay the foil on your sheet and crease it over the edges. Oh, and lay your bacon on the foil. That helps. :)  Creases go left-right, bacon goes top-bottom. Like so:

When you're done, it should look like this:

Bake in 350 degree oven for as long as you want, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. The mountain creases pull the grease away from your pieces, and the foil acts a rack to keep your bacon up and crispy as it cooks.

When done, remove your bacon to some paper towels. Although using this method, there's very little grease left on your bacon. Winning!

That's it. What are you waiting for? Go make some bacon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Have you ever wondered about eating freeze dried food? I certainly have. So much so that when the husband and I went to our local big chain outdoor store a few months ago, we picked up some to try.

Now, I know some people have heard that freeze dried is absolutely horrible, and yet others say it was fabulous. But this is what I know for sure- it's food, and in a pinch (say lost job, grid down, or just to supplement your food storage), freeze dried is certainly an option to remember.

Many of you have mentioned to me that purchasing freeze dried food in the #10 cans is more economical. And yes, technically, it is. However, what most people fail to think about is whether or not they will actually *like* the food they are purchasing. 
Why buy a huge can of something no one will eat? Go ahead, spend the $8 on a small package for two, and try it.
There is no amount of savings if you do not eat what you purchase. Hell, if you want to throw that money away, send it my way!

The husband and I decided to take an impromptu camping trip in our own Backyard Outdoors. A local state part less than 10 miles from us. We stayed one night, enjoyed the beautiful weather, wildlife and peace.

Not to mention we love a roaring fire. Can you believe this photo (matter of fact, ALL these photos) were taken with my camera phone? I love that camera!).

Mountain House Freeze Dried Foods was the brand demonstrated in the store. We tried a couple of products in the store and they were not bad. But what about and actual camping (or hiking or grid down type scenario)? Would they be as easy to prepare in primitive surroundings as they were in a fully-equipped kitchen?

We decided to test four products. One beef, one chicken, one egg, and one dessert. We figured it would give us the best variety of meat and side dishes. Of course, Mountain House has a wide variety overall. But since we were only camping for one night and half the next day, we didn't need a huge variety.

First up was our evening meal and we decided to go with the Chicken Teriyaki with Rice meal.
Two one-cup servings per package is standard. However, if you tend to eat large amounts of food, you might want to think of this as one serving since the serving size is 1-cup. For the husband and I, this was about right. Calorie count is around 220 per 1-cup serving.

What we found was that when you go camping, you aren't really a 'measuring cup' kind of person. So trying to get the right amount of water into the bag without a measuring cup turned into a 'let's just use our coffee mug' kind of thing. Turns out, our coffee mug holds almost 2 cups of water (we measured once we got home), so our Chicken Teriyaki with Rice meal turned into Chicken Teriyaki with Rice SOUP.

Still, our first try didn't make the food inedible. It was actually very tasty. Even as a soup. So for this particular variety, the amount of water can be varied. Plus, it has 10g of protein. Not great, but not bad.

The one thing I found with most all of the freeze-dried foodstuffs is that they are LOADED with salt. And salt and I do not get along. Not because I have any type of medical issue with sodium or high blood pressure, but because when I eat large amounts of salt my ankles swell and I end up looking like the Elephant Man is growing out of my feet. It's horrendous.
Thinking into the future, if it is a survival thing, you're going to want the 660 mgs of salt this baby packs in such a small [ackage.
Aside from that, the Chicken Teriyaki was still tasty.

Next up was our morning meal. We went with the Mountain House Breakfast Scramble.
Hash browns, eggs, crumbled pork patties, peppers and onions. Now, usually I am not much of a hash brown kind of girl, but that really helped the consistency of the meal.

 Once again, without knowing how much water we were putting in, we decided to adjust our measuring system and add one mug and a little bit more.
As you can see by the picture, it was just a tad too much water, still. However, it did not detract from the taste.

The crumbled pork patties didn't have a lot of flavor. That came mostly from the eggs and peppers and onions, which surprisingly, were slightly firm without turning into mush from the re-hydration process.

This particular meal packs in 400 calories per 1-cup serving, and a WHOPPING 920 mgs of salt. Holy moly I wasn't sure if I would be walking or waddling out of the park, dragging my elephant feet.

Once again, the taste of the product was surprising. It was not bad at all. I mean really, when you think of re-hydrated eggs? How icky does that sound? Pleasantly surprised we were when the meal turned out to be very filling and tasty and not at all what we expected.

Of course, somewhere in the middle of camping we had to have the obligatory junk food...nacho cheese chips and smores go part and parcel with the whole camping adventure.

As we were getting ready for our afternoon meal, it occurred to me that we did not try the freeze dried ice cream! Oh, how I love ice cream....I honestly think it is my favorite cold thing to eat.

I had high hopes for the freeze-dried Ice Cream. And well, it tasted like large cereal marshmallows. Which is great if you're into that kind of thing. But me personally, I am not fond of marshmallows unless it's in a s'more. So the Mountain House Freeze Dried Neapolitan Ice Cream was very dry because you do not re-hydrate it, very creamy because there is no hydration to it, and very thick because it sucks the saliva out of your mouth.

At least at 100 calories per pouch and 40mgs of salt, I didn't have to worry about cankles.

Lunch consisted of Beef Stroganoff with Noodles.

I think this one surprised us most of all.  260 calories per 1-cup serving, 800 mgs salt, and 11g of protein. The noodles were just the right consistence. Which might have been because we adjusted yet again, our water measuring system (we're going to have to add a collapse-able measuring cup into our survival/camping gear!).
The beef was a bit chewy. The sour cream sauce was creamy if a tad bit tasteless, and it indeed had mushrooms and onions.
Even with all that, we did not hate it. We rather liked it. And once again the 1-cup serving filled us up.

Overall, the salt count is unbelievably high, and in a survival situation, you might need that. The taste is greatly improved over previous versions of freeze-dried foods, and definitely WAY better than MRE's.

These are easy to pack and carry, lightweight, and there's even a vacuum-sealed version called a pro-pak which takes up even less room in your backpack.

I would highly suggest packing some pepper or other spice of your liking. For our review, we wanted the basic food with no alterations. In the future, pepper and possibly some cayenne will be on our packing list, along with Mountain House Freeze Dried food.

And no, Mountain House did not pay me to review their food.
My husband and I wanted to test some of our prepping skills and items, and this was the perfect scenario in order to do so- BEFORE something bad happens for real.

With that in mind, please test out YOUR skills in YOUR Backyard Outdoors. You might be surprised at what you learn you may need to do, or stop doing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I know I haven't been posting for a long time. What? Since last December and it's now September? Oh, wow. Sorry. kind of got in the way. Between school, transferring schools, attending two schools, my parent's failing health, my father-in-law's failing health and my own surgery, things just seemed to get away from me.

But I'm back. For now, anyway. I can't say things won't get hectic again. Hell, they probably will. But I'll do my best to keep posting fabulous shortcuts and tips.

So- I had many friends ask me about how I make my mayonnaise. Well, here's a video to answer that....and a picture or two. And yes, I understand many people have a problem eating raw eggs. But many people don't. So if your one of those who dislike eating raw eggs for whatever reason (health or taste or preference) I would suggest you not make this mayo. For everyone else, read on!

So before I get to the video- let me explain what I did and how- then watch the video and it should all make sense.


1 egg, room temp
1 c extra virgin olive oil, light tasting (MUST say light tasting on the bottle!)
2 capfuls lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (I use Mediterranean Sea Salt which has larger grains- but you can use table salt, just use  less if doing so)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 tsp ground mustard

That's it. That's the whole shebang.

Now, you'll need a wide mouth mason jar and a stick blender, but no other fancy machinery.
I'm not sure what I would do without my stick blender. I use it all the time...especially when I make potato soup. It's easier to blend the soup directly in the pot than try to ladle hot soup into a blender and hope you don't blow the lid off! I'm not saying that I've done that....not saying that I haven't either. I will never tell!

The possibilities on homemade mayo are endless. You can change up the spices to suit your needs. I add cayenne for hot mayo, or dill if I am making a potato salad, or onion and garlic if I am using it for sandwiches. It's really up to you how you wish to spice it.  the above recipe is my standard, and I adjust from there.

So- what you do....put the egg in the mason jar. add the oil. Wait a minute and let the oil rise while the egg sinks. Add the spices, then put the stick blender in until it reaches the bottom and hold it there. Run the stick blender for about 20-30 seconds on high without moving it around. BE VERY STILL. We's huntin mayo!
OK- so after you've done that you can start to move the blender around, and incorporate the rest of the oil. Once it's all incorporated, add the lemon juice. Blend, Taste. If you want it tangier, add more lemon juice.  Be aware, the more lemon juice you add the more liquid the mayo. So add sparingly!

OK- that's it. That's how I do it. This mayo lasts, covered, about 4 days in the refrigerator. Now, on to the video!

Monday, December 15, 2014

I am not kidding. I threw this into a pot, sauteed a bit, stirred a bit, threw more ingredients in, let boil, blended smooth, and added the creamy stuff to the end and I was done.

It took me an hour, but only because I kept forgetting I was cooking. So this recipe is very forgiving, too. I like that in a recipe!

Doesn't that look just divine? Oooey, gooey, cheesy goodness on top of the best soup....oh, and bacon. Ya gotta have bacon.

So- here's what ya do:
Grab yourself one onion, about six garlic cloves, four idaho potatoes (I used four, but in my defense, one of them was bigger than a truck....okay, maybe not a real truck, but definitely one of those toy two and a half regular sized potato it was!), one leek, 3 cans of chicken broth, one green onion, a dash of chili powder and one package of cream cheese. Oh, and shredded cheddar and bacon for toppings, if you prefer, and I *always* prefer!

Basically, saute your onion in a dash of oil, add the garlic, and two minutes later add the broth, green onion and taters. Let boil, add the diced leek, and let boil again. Simmer for a while. I went and watched Jeopardy! (I love that show!) When everything is nice and tender, blend it well (I used a stick blender, but you could use a regular blender...just be careful of hot soup splash!), and finally, the cream cheese and chili powder. Serve warm...because hot burns your tongue. Trust me.

4 large potatoes, chopped (I left skin on 1, peeled the other 3)
1 Leek, washed and diced.
1 whole gr onion, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp chili powder
dash oil
3 cans chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese
Saute onion in oil. Add garlic. cook 2 minutes.
Add broth, green onions, and potatoes. Cook until soft.
Add leek. Cook until soft. Add chili powder.
Add cream cheese (I dice mine before seems to melt better...oh, and you can totally use 1/2 cup half-n-half or heavy whipping cream, but I like the cream cheese better)
Blend with stick blender (or regular blender, just be wary of hot soup splash)
Serve with shredded cheese and bacon bits.
Total time- about 30-45 minutes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Yes, I am a Game of Thrones fan....but in reality, Winter really is coming. Some would argue that it is already here as it is COLD outside. I think our high today is 18 degrees. Our windchill is in the negatives. And it's only November!

A few months ago, I started playing around with sugar body scrubs. I dislike spending money on store-bought things. Preferring instead to make them myself if at all possible. Well, sugar body scrubs are possible. And easy. It did take me the better part of 11 months of my sporadic free time to work on perfecting my recipe, but now that I have, I won't ever purchase sugar scrubs from someone else again. (Of course, if you'd rather have *me* make you some, I'll be happy to charge you for them! lol)

Anywho- this is the basic recipe- and most of it is available in your grocery store or craft store.

2 cups sugar 1/4 cup large grain kosher salt 3/4 cup coconut oil 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or extra light olive oil) 10 drops vitamin E oil 1 tsp shea butter
Essential oils of your choice.
When it comes to the EO's, put scents together that you like. The amount or number of drops will depend on how soft or strong you want the scent, as well as the strength of the brand Of EO you're using. Also remember that the scent will intensify for the first 24 if you go light with the EO's, check it again in 24 hours to see if the scent is strong- or light-enough for you.
For my Citrus Cedar, I used 30 drops cedarwood, 20 drops tangerine, and 10 drops black pepper.
For my Cinnamon Brandy I used 60 drops cinnamon bark, 30 drops clovebud, and 1/2 tsp homemade cinnamon brandy extract.
My Peppermint Candy I used 15 drops peppermint, 5 drops spearmint, and 1 tsp homemade vanilla extract.
Now this basic recipe, minus the EO's, will make 1 pint and 1 small jar (like in my picture). I separate the sugar into jars first, then add the EO's and mix. Of course, if you are making only one type of scrub, you can add the EO's to the oils before you mix the oils into the sugar. Your choice.
Also- I prefer grapeseed oil over olive oil. No particular reason, I just like the feel of the end result better. You use what you like. Also- if you want to increase the Vitamin E oil and omit the shea butter, you can.
Hope this works for you!