SOS!!!!

As I’ve said before, I live in a 985 sq ft apartment. Most of this space is not in the kitchen. As much as I love this apartment, there are definite issues with the kitchen. Most of it is storage issues. I coupon, so I am always looking for more space. It has overflowed from the kitchen cabinet, to a shelf in the dining room, to an extra cabinet, and some of the toiletries I coupon for are finding their home in the front closet and the bathroom. It’s a mess! But with an extremely low grocery/toiletry budget, I try not to complain too much. 

This is some of the overflow. Some people don't understand why i copon, but all the product in the pictures was well under $50 out of pocket. (The pasta alone should have been that much. My pasta was free.)

This is some of the overflow. Some people don’t understand why i coupon, but all the product in the pictures was well under $50 out of pocket. (The pasta alone should have been that much. My pasta was free.)

I love casseroles and cream based soup. But with the serious lack of storage, canned cream of whatever soups I don’t keep alot of. They are heavy to carry back from the store, and they take up quite a bit of my valuable space in the kitchen. I was reading one of my favorite blogs (The Thrifty Couple), and saw this recipe pop up. I love saving money and space! This did both. It is called SOS mix-Soup or Sauce Mix. This mix is equal to 9 cans of cream of chicken soup, but it fits into a salsa jar instead of taking up 1/4 of a shelf. 

It’s very simple to make. Just a few ingredients and you will have saved money and space. The recipe calls for instant bullion, but I had an idiot moment and bought the bullion cubes. Out of desperation I tossed the whole recipe in the blender, and that finally fixed my mistake. 

SOS Mix
2 Cups nonfat powdered milk
3/4 Cup cornstarch
1/4 Cup instant chicken bullion (trust me, go for the instant.)
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Pour or spoon into a jar or bowl. 

Boom. Nine cans in one jar. Yes, this is a happy day.

Boom. Nine cans in one jar. Yes, this is a happy day.

TO MAKE MIX FOR RECIPE: Add 1/3 cup SOS Mix to 1 1/4 cup water to a boil. Let simmer, stirring, until thickened. Makes the equivalent of one 9 3/4 ounce can cream of chicken soup. 

Pistachio Cake

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There is no taste like home. ;) When I was first learning how to cook, I would pour over my mom’s many cookbooks. I would read the instructions a million times and try to understand why it was working the way it was. Baking powder vs baking soda, why should you mix whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour and so on. She had a cookbook that is STILL notorious for getting misplaced. It looks like a regular book, and is always being shelved with the regular books. It also only had one recipe we would make from it. I don’t know what it is about this recipe that makes it so good. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the one recipe that uses a box mix that I will make. Or perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t need to get out a million bowls. Or maybe it’s the way that it has a slight crunch from the pistachios in the pudding combined with the sweetness of the cinnamon sugar. But whatever it is that makes it so delicious, this cake tastes like home. It tastes like learning how to bake and trying so hard to properly flour a bundt pan, and layer the cinnamon sugar in evenly. It tastes like a trip back in time.

Memory lane isn’t all this cake has going for it. Pistachio cake has a grand total of 6 ingredients. Yes, that’s right. 6. And guess what…you only have to measure one of them! How convenient is that?

Six ingredients! Count ‘em folks! Box cake, cinnamon sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and pistachio pudding.

When you make it the batter will be insanely thick, thicker than most muffin batters. It can definitely be made without a mixer, but because of that thickness it will end up with chunks of undissolved cake batter. I highly recommend using a mixer to avoid that problem.

The batter is very thick, so don't panic.

The batter is very thick, so don’t panic.

While I was taking that photo I had a very happy pup just waiting for this to go very wrong and plop on the floor. (It didn’t, in case that question was going to keep you up all night.)

Drop it!!!! Drop it!!!!!

Drop it!!!! Drop it!!!!!

 

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do! It’s best warm with a smidgen of butter melted on it.

 

Pistachio Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines leaves an aftertaste. I recommend Betty Crocker or Pillsbury)
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
½ cup oil
1 box pistachio pudding
Cinnamon Sugar (recipe below)
Optional: ½ cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan or grease a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil, and pistachio pudding until well blended. Batter will be thick. Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan. Layer with cinnamon sugar and walnuts, if desired.  Spoon the remaining batter over the top. Smooth with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes (9×13 pan), 35-40 minutes (light bundt pan), or 50 minutes (heavy bundt pan), or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. To remove the bundt cake from the pan, run a knife around the edge, then use a fork to loosen the edges more to prevent ending up with two cake halves. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip. If it does not immediately come out, don’t panic. Just keep repeating the fork procedure and eventually you will get it out. Serve immediately! You won’t regret it.

Cinnamon sugar: Use the ratio of 1 cup of granulated sugar to 1 tablespoon cinnamon. I save containers, dump the sugar and cinnamon in then give it a shake until it’s an even color.  Save the leftovers, it makes excellent toast. 

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Welcome weekend!

   Weekend, how I’ve missed thee! But, seriously it’s been a crazy week. How I squeezed in making two actual meals, I’m still working at figuring out. I’m afraid this post is going to suffer from a serious lack of pictures, but it tastes amazing. I was at work on my 15 minute break when the urge to actually make something from all my Pintrest boards hit me. So I pulled out my phone and found one that has looked appealing for quite some time. I had to do some modification because garlic powder in my food is not appealing and I’m trying to eat healthier. The original also used MUCH more oil.The fact that it only used one pan appealed to me. I only have one skillet, so having to wash it multiple times during a recipe aggravates me. The beauty of this recipe is that it can be served as is, on a bed of lettuce, or in a burrito. 

One Pan Chicken Burritos

1 pound ground chicken
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 one large onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can low sodium black beans, rinsed
1 can low sodium corn kernels, drained
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Cup long grain rice
2 1/2 Cups low sodium chicken broth

     In a large skillet, add diced onions, minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon oil. Saute until the onions are almost clear. Add the ground chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Once the chicken is done, stir in the chili powder. Push the chicken over to half of the skillet and add the rice. Saute until the rice looks clear. Add the beans, corn, and tomatoes.Stir well and pour the broth over all of that soon to be yummy goodness. Bring it to a simmer, then put the lid on and let it simmer (not a full boil or you will scorch the rice) for 20 minutes. Do not stir or your rice will disintegrate. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, fresh tomatoes and any other topping of your choice. Enjoy!!!

Vegan/Vegetarian variation: Omit chicken, add another can of beans. Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. Serve with topping of your choice. Enjoy. 

Thanksgiving is coming!

I love thanksgiving. Being from Brazil, it was just my parents,  my sisters, and me. But we still went all out for thanksgiving. Turkey, stuffing, our variation on sweet potato casserole,  and green been casserole. My mom always made homemade crescent rolls. To finish it off there was pie. Loads of pie. As I was thinking about all that, I had a sudden craving for something fallish. Sweet potato cupcakes sounded amazing.
Before you get all grossed out, hear me out! A mix of sweet potato, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, not to mention brown sugar adding it’s own hint of caramel. It smells just like fall.  Get out your cupcake tins, it’s cooking time!
Sweet Potato Cupcake

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Sweet potato cupcake

1 cup flour
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/16 nutmeg
1/2 cup butter melted,  and cooled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl mix together the wet ingredients except the sweet potato. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the sweet potatoes and mix well.  Pour into a lined cupcake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 9 cupcakes. 
Enjoy your taste of thanksgiving!

Strawberry Cake

Sadly, strawberry season is coming to a screeching halt. I was loving eating a ton of fresh fruit all day long, and especially the big, juicy berries. They were epic. I decided to buy some, thinking they would be as yummy. Can you say moldy 2 days later? I bought another pint, and they were ok. Not sweet, not big, and too pale for my taste. But, I refuse to let strawberries go to waste. My original plan was to stare at them blankly. My back-up plan was to make a strawberry cake. 

When I think strawberry cake, I think the kind that comes out of a box. After looking through all of my recipe books, I realized that I had no recipe for a strawberry cake. Bummer!!!!!!!! I did manage to find one online. 

It isn’t quite like a cake in that it isn’t crazy fluffy, but it is not dense like a cookie either. It’s more like….an ozark pie. That dense, almost gooey cake/pie with apples and pecans….it’s amazing. And this is alot like it. I’m a HUGE fan of both recipes. 

Strawberry Cake

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6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set it aside. Mix together the liquid ingredients, set them aside. Melt the butter a little, then mix it into the dry ingredients until it looks like a crumbly mixture. Add the liquid ingredients. Stir it together until it’s all mixed together. Stir in most of the strawberries. Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 pan. Sprinkle the rest of the berries on top. Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Lower the temperature to 325, then let it bake for 45 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. 

Bon Appetit!

 

Pumpkin Season!

First month of teaching is under my belt! It’s been more stressful than I thought it would be, but so much more fun, too! I have had this recipe to try for a couple weeks, but grading papers had to take precedence over making a pretty amazing recipe. That….and putting up bulletin boards-like this one:Oregon's Best Work

With fall arriving, there has been on over abundance of  pumpkin stuff. Pumpkin hot chocolate, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin…anything. The one that I’ve had my eye on is pumpkin cheesecake brownies. I love cheesecake brownies! They’re amazing.

So, to celebrate finishing my first month as a teacher, and completing my bulletin boards I decided to make pumpkin cheesecake brownies. I did use a box mix, because I didn’t have time to make it from scratch….but it still tasted amazing!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

1 brownie mix/batter, made according to instructions
3 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons sugar

-Preheat the oven to 350 F. Make the brownies, and spread the batter in a greased 9×13 pan. In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, egg, and pumpkin until smooth. Spread it over the brownie batter, and use a knife to marbleize the batter. Bake the brownies for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Into to my classroom!

These past two weeks have been quite the whirlwind! I unfortunately haven’t done much baking/cooking/living, but I have gotten alot of work done in my classroom!

My classroom went from kind of sad to cheerful and homey!

Empty Classroom

Another view for empty classroom

This is my good work board. When a child does a good job, they get their paper put up on the board for the other kids and the parents to see.

Work to Tweet Over

This is my classroom. As you can see it’s long and narrow, with lots of doors. Seven doors….just in case you were wondering.

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I struggle with teaching kids how to stand in line. In order to help them (and me!) have a visual of how far apart they should be, I taped construction paper to the floor. After a week and a half, I’ll take away all but the line leaders paper. Another week and a half later, I’ll take away all the papers. Voila! A trained class. In theory, that is.

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This is my “coat closet.” We don’t have a true one, so I made it out of command hooks. It’s right when they walk in, so they don’t have to traipse across my classroom with unwieldy backpacks.

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And, this is the board that kind of sets the theme for my room. This month’s theme is the K4 nest. Birds, birds, birds. My little birds didn’t turn out as cute as the ones I saw in my head, but I still like them. Image

My calendar makes me smile. It’s cute!

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When the kids come in, they are supposed to check the good morning board. It has instructions for what to do when they come in. Sorry it’s blurry, but the monsters are still cute.

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Anyways, That’s the highlights from my classroom. I am so excited for Tuesday to get here and get to know all my munchkins. :D

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins

Back to School! Depending on who you are, you may be dreading those words. Maybe you’re looking forward to having some quiet in the house. Or maybe you’re a teacher looking forward to getting back into the swing of the school year. 

I am the last one. Except I’m not getting back into the swing of it. I’m a brand spanking new teacher! While I’m super excited for school year, there are some things that make me nervous. Like….handing four year olds scissors and glue. So, I decided I’m going to simplify my mornings, so I don’t start the day off frazzled. I’m notorious for eating something not healthy for breakfast. (yes, cold pizza counts as breakfast!) I’m a huge fan of muffins! That being said, I recently discovered you can freeze muffins. Brilliant! It only takes about 20 minutes to thaw a muffin-so it can sit on the counter while i get ready, and travel with me to school like a good muffin. 

Peanut Butter Oatmeal MuffinsPeanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins from The Flustered Baker

 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. If you want, add a dash of cinnamon. I didn’t, and it still tasted great. In a separate bowl, mix the whisk together the milk, peanut butter, and egg. Trust me, the peanut butter will dissolve in a couple million hours. Then, add it to the try ingredients. Stir until combined. Pour into greased or lined muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Grilled Cheese

I love grilled cheese. A crispy outside, soft bread in the middle, and warm, gooey cheese.  I’d never thought much about a twist on it. the most I do is add some turkey.  I found an entire section of grilled cheese makeovers. This one was, by far, the most appetizing! 

The Brussels sprouts get cooked in some of the bacon grease. They are almost fried. When you bite into the sandwich you get the crisp bacon, the crunch of the Brussels sprouts, and the creaminess of the cheese. It’s got to be the best grilled cheese I’ve ever made!

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Grilled Cheese 
(NOTE: all ingredients are for one sandwich)

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Grilled Cheese

-1 slice bacon
-1/3 cup mozzerella cheese
-2 brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
-2 slices of bread

In a skillet, fry up the bacon. Let it drain on paper towels. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the grease. Add the Brussels sprouts, and let them cook until they are tender on the outside, but still have a crunch on the inside. It should only take 2 or 3 minutes. Wipe out the pan. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Once it’s melted, cook the sandwich, about 4 minutes on each side, until it’s browned. If its necessary, add more butter the pan. And then you’ll have an amazing grilled cheese sandwich! 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I used to love Mexican hot chocolate. Creamy, hot, and cinnamon…I don’t know quite what it was about it, but I loved it. Had it everyday one winter. Fantastic, until you get completely burned out.

A few months ago, I stumbled across a honey-cinnamon frosting. Originally I put it on a banana cake. That was the bomb. It reminded me of putting honey on hot banana bread. But, I had a craving for mexican hot chocolate. Given the fact that it is 80 degrees outside, that put a damper on the situation. My best friend had a cupcake craving, so I picked up some stuff to make chocolate ones, and decided to top it with the honey cinnamon frosting. I wasn’t sure how it was going to end up, but it was really good, and satisfied my mexican hot chocolate craving. 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Honey Cinnamon Frosting

12 chocolate cupcakes, cooled and ready to be frosted

1/2 cup margarine/butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend together all the ingredients until you have a creamy frosting. If it’s too thick, add more honey. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. Just remember, a little of either goes a very long way. Frost the cupcakes with the amazing frosting, and enjoy!

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