Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recipe Roundup, Reprised (Part 2)

Hooray! About half of my recipe project is complete, and I'm excited to share it with you.

I decided to go with a three-ring binder approach--one for desserts and one for everything else. I started with "everything else." Here's my super-cute binder from Target. Oh, if I had all the money in the world, I would spend most of it there...

One of the things I'll never forget my Mom teaching me was that you could easily identify the "good" recipes in family cookbooks by finding the pages with food splatters and stains on them. The sheet protectors will prevent this (hopefully) but then again, no bad recipes will make it into the book, either.

The binder dividers that I got on Amazon just arrived and I'm so pleased. It took some searching to find attractive ones that also were wide enough to stick out past the sheet protectors, but I found them. Bonus: the dividers also hold loose pages! Now I have a place other than the fridge-clip to put the recipes I want to try. Love this!

Since the photo isn't so hot (I really need to learn some tips from my amateur-turning-pretty-darn-professional photographer hubby), here are the categories I decided on:
  • Appetizers, Drinks and Snacks
  • Beef and Pork
  • Breads and Breakfast
  • Chicken and Seafood
  • Meatless Meals
  • Side Dishes
  • Soups and Salads
  • Desserts...for binder #2
I typed the recipes using separate Word files for each category, and alphabetized the recipes within the document. Based on the number of sheet protectors that I used, I have about 200 recipes. I can't wait to expand that amount!

I had a lot of fun making the template and rewriting the instructions to be as close as possible to my work style in the kitchen. I also wanted to make them a little more explicit so they make sense when my boys start helping prepare meals in a few years, and add recipes for more obvious stuff like roast beef, sandwiches, etc. I'm excited that someday I can just re-print this information and hand them a cookbook from Mom!

What do you think? I'll let you know how many dessert recipes find their way to the binder. :)

Here is a sample recipe for your enjoyment, from my dear Mom. I will never again pay $7 and up for Creme Brulee at a restaurant now that I know how stinking easy it is (and without the blow torch)!


2 c       heavy cream (one pint)
5          egg yolks
½ c      sugar
1 T       vanilla
            brown sugar


1.      Preheat oven to 275.
2.      Set four ramekins inside a 9x13 baking pan.
3.      Whisk together cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla.
4.      Divide the egg mixture among the ramekins.
5.      Using a liquid measuring cup, carefully fill the pan with hot water so that ramekins are about two-thirds submerged in water.
6.      Bake at 275 for 45-60 minutes or until set.
7.      Refrigerate overnight, or to serve warm, go to next step.
8.      Just prior to serving, preheat the broiler. Spread a thin layer of brown sugar across the top of each ramekin. Smooth with the back of a spoon.
9.      Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until sugar has caramelized. Keep a close watch on the progress!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recipe Roundup, Reprised (Part 1)

Some of you might remember that I gave my friend some pointers with her recipe project about a year and a half ago. I learned a lot from that experience and decided I need to figure out a recipe system, too.

A future installment will provide you with more detail on what I decided and how the finished product (will) look(s), but I figure I should document the current situation before I am thoroughly tired of the whole thing and don't post about it at all! I've already been working on this in the "spaces" of my days and it's been several weeks. It's not quick or easy, but I am very excited about the finished project.

So, here's the background:
  • This all started when I used up the last preprinted card for my (second) recipe box. As you might imagine, it drives me crazy to have plain index cards in with the pretty ones. 
  • I went online to order more. The recipe card/box print (Honey Bears) is a retired Lang edition and virtually impossible to find. I don't feel that I want to pay $25 for another box and 72 cards (price as of this posting).
  • These recipe boxes were purchased back before I was married (about 7 years ago). My Mom and Mother-in-Law so graciously offered to copy down some of their favorites on the cards. Now that my mother is no longer living, I definitely want to save the cards with their handwriting on them, no matter what the system ends up looking like.
  • I don't want to have multiple boxes of recipes, especially since each would have the same categories in it. This would be a problem, especially for desserts, which seem to comprise at least a third to half of my recipes :)  Yes, I did consider distributing the categories among the boxes, but one uses 4x6 cards and one uses 3x5 cards.
  • The boxes are showing wear on the outside, and the tabs are also "fraying" (or whatever you'd call paper that is delaminating and separating from its backing).
  • My husband wonders aloud, once or twice a year, whether I have a list of the things I regularly make. This is a logical response when (just like my mother) I ask, "Is there anything you are hungry for?"
  • I frequently gather recipes from online sources or tear pages out of magazines with things I'd like to try. I don't copy these onto cards until I'm sure I like them and they are worth the effort. Therefore...
  • I have a large magnetic clip full of recipes hanging on the side of my fridge with recipes to try.
  • There are also cookbooks on my shelf which contain only a handful of useful recipes.

I established several goals for the finished product:
  1. It needs to take up less shelf or cabinet space than the current "system."
  2. I don't want to spend a lot of money. My budget is $25.
  3. Since I am always trying to increase the variety of foods we eat, it must be easily expandable.
  4. A bonus would be that I can easily share the recipes with others, including the ability to pass it on to my sons someday.
Before I wrap this up, do you have any ideas or suggestions for me? I always like thinking outside the box!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I'm concerned that by reading my blog you might get the impression I have it all together. That is most definitely not the case!

Today is a prime example of why, no matter how organized I try to be, I still need grace. And today, I received it in some of the most unexpected ways.

Things that went "wrong":
  • I neglected to write out my grocery list in the order of the store layout, like I usually do. Thus, I backtracked multiple times, and went through the checkout twice. (I saw an awesome mini-lacrosse set for my oldest son on the way out. I mentally had this on my list, but of course, forgot because I didn't write it down.)
  • My husband forwarded along a notice from that we'd been issued a $25 late fee on my credit card.
  • Just minutes after reading that message, I dropped my Kindle and now only the top half of the screen works. The bottom half is forever set to a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Agh! And I am the girl who is on my fourth cell phone in a year.
  • Both of my beautiful boys kept waking each other up from naps. We totaled three unhappily-ended naps, one of which lasted a whopping ten minutes.
Really, it could have been a worse day. There were some highlights like a visit from a friend and the sweet hug my son gave me when I just about broke down in tears about the late bill and Kindle.

I am learning to be a grown-up and just 'fess up and own my mistakes, though it's really painful to admit that I do stupid things.

First, I emailed the folks at my credit card company and sweetly asked why they don't send paperless statements like nearly every other company I pay on a monthly basis. After all, I had compared every item on the bill to my receipts, and then scanned it in for my records, but somehow didn't pay it. Ugh! Though they did not apologize for their policy (read: archaic ways) they waived the fee. 

Stay tuned; I may have to investigate if there's another card with similar rewards AND paperless statements.

Also, unexpectedly, the very nice man who I spoke with at Amazon told me that they will send me a new Kindle and it will be free, so long as I ship back the busted one. Is that a happy day or what?!? Now I can help Sherlock figure out whodunit.

And yes, I also managed not to yell at my kids for the premature wake-ups. :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

LOVE this!

Imagine overnight company is coming in two's how to do a burst of cleaning. Hopefully it means the rest of the family is either helping or is out of the house somewhere!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Decluttering the Catch-All Cabinet

Haven't we had some beautiful weather this past month?

It seems like spring puts everyone in a good mood and gives us a little more energy. (I wonder why that is. Maybe because we aren't using that effort to keep warm?) This is the time of year when I get the bug to do spring cleaning. The brighter sunlight shows off the neglected corners and the fresh air beckons me to hang sheets on the line.

One of my recent projects was decluttering a cabinet that lacked a clear purpose. You may remember that we eliminated our office to make a nursery for the baby. Well, this cabinet became the dumping ground for a lot of things that no longer had a home.

Before: Lots of randomly arranged office supplies, gift supplies that needed to be put away in another room, travel toiletries in a drawer, and some photo frames/albums that I didn't know what to do with. (Please excuse the smudges on the photo. Those are courtesy of my toddler touching the camera lens.)

After: Neatly segregated office supplies (personal and for a non-profit ministry), a photo album area, half a shelf for the toiletry stuff that doesn't fit in the bathrooms, and neatly organized drawers (one for overflow toiletries and one for photo frames). Oooh, and even an empty shelf!

So, I'm wondering if anyone has a crafty or clever idea what to do with photo frames that you don't use anymore? We are doing more photo collages that hang on the wall since those can't be knocked over by kids or pets. I'd love to hear your ideas.

p.s. for the curious: this jelly cupboard is the one item that I chose to salvage from a centuries-old farmhouse that was in my family. I'm not an antique-y kind of girl, but this was simple enough that I thought it would fit with my decor. If you like the pottery on top, visit or