Monday, August 27, 2018

Homemade Ranch

Hello!  It has been well over a year since I last posted on my blog.  I always have good intentions but my plans just rarely work out properly. I do intend (again) to start posting more, even if it isn't always recipes.  Today however, it is a recipe.  At one time, I had a recipe for homemade dry ranch mix and ranch... After a few years of messing with the recipe, it was all messed up.  So I started over and I am pretty happy with my ranch routine now.  My main concern was that my daughter could try the ranch if she ever wanted.  She still doesn't have the varied diet I would like but she is healthy and now and then I can get her to try something.  So most things in our house are made corn free and safe for her.  Many recipes for homemade ranch include ingredients such as mayonnaise or pre-bottled/bagged mixes. My daughter can have none of these.  So I looked through many recipes and came up with a mix that worked for us and I actually enjoy.  There are options and I will list them in the ingredients.  As I have said before, I don't measure exactly so measurements are approximate and easy to change to taste.  Also, many people will complain about the use of powders such as garlic powder and onion powder... If this doesn't suit you, by all means, use fresh.  However, we have to do a LOT of cooking from scratch so we do take short cuts when we can safely.  Not all powders are safe, but there are a few manufacturers who have made many great changes in the ingredients they use. 

1/4 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
squeeze of lemon juice
1 Tbsp. onion powder/dried chives or small bunch fresh chives
1 Tbsp. dried parsley or small bunch fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder or 1 fresh clove garlic
1/4 tsp. paprika (a little goes a long way)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
extra sour cream and milk to adjust thickness

Start by pouring the milk, sour cream, and lemon juice in a mason jar.  I usually use pint size and make fresh regularly.  This doesn't last more than a week or so and this is really easy and quick to make. Add in the rest of the dry/fresh ingredients, secure the lid, and shake up the mix.  When the ranch is all mixed, add more sour cream and/or milk to adjust thickness to your preference.  I know that I like the ranch thicker or thinner depending on what I am eating or dipping.  Keep shaking to mix when ingredients are adjusted or added. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken

I tried a new recipe this week.  It was a win after a few modifications.  I made slow cooker garlic chicken and paired it with couscous and green beans.  Green beans are our favorite vegetable around here.  This was the first time I tried couscous.  It wasn't too bad but a little goes a long way.  I also cooked it a little differently than the package directed.  I don't like my pasta or rice to bite back.  I found this recipe here, but I modified it quite a bit for our family needs and personal tastes.  I am including two recipes.  One is for the garlic chicken and one is for the couscous.

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 Tbsp. favorite cooking oil
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp. dried thyme
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup flour
salt and pepper

-In the bottom of the slow cooker, add oil, thyme, onion and garlic.  Take the chicken breasts and roll in the mixture at the bottom of the cooker.  Add salt and pepper.  Lay chicken in a layer in the bottom of the cooker.
-In a bowl, whisk/blend together chicken stock and flour.  Make sure to mix until smooth with no clumps.  Pour the mixture on top of the chicken in the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  We always shred our chicken up when it is done but you can keep it whole if you would like.


1 cup dry couscous
2 cups water

Bring water and salt to a boil.  Add couscous to boiling water while constantly stirring.  This process will only take a couple of minutes and the couscous is done.  As soon as the water is soaked up, remove from heat.  Stir and fluff with a fork (much like rice) right before serving.

We made this into 4 meals but it was WAY too much and there was a lot of waste.  None of us could eat an entire serving.  Next time, I will be dividing it into 6-8 meals.  It is great leftover!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Banana Pancakes and Blueberry Mash

I made this recipe for breakfast hoping that my daughter would try something different.  She is still very afraid of different foods and has latched onto about 4 foods she will eat.  She is also a child who will starve herself until she is very sick.  We've been there, done that.  She obviously takes after me because she is INCREDIBLY stubborn.  I, being her worrisome mom, am very worried about her health at this point.  She is almost seven and is still very afraid of expanding her food choices.  I still get very angry at her previous doctors when I think about it.  She did not eat this either though, despite my pleading, manipulating, and yummy noises.

My husband, however, did eat some.  He normally hates pancakes but loves waffles.  He says, next time, I should pour it into the waffle iron. I will consider that a win!

I did not pull this recipe from anywhere in particular.  I looked through a lot of recipes, posts, and blogs and this recipe, and small variations thereof, is fairly popular.


3 bananas
4 eggs
cinnamon (optional)

Mash or blend bananas.  (I used my Ninja blender.  It's awesome!  If you don't have one, you should check them out.)  Then, mix in the eggs.  It should be looking a bit like a batter now.  Sprinkle in cinnamon to taste or personal preference. Spoon into heated pan or griddle and flip as needed.  My griddle was otherwise occupied so I used a pan on my stove.  Cook low and slow...

HINT: Make the pancakes smaller.  I learned very quickly that this type of pancake cooks much easier and more even if you make them smaller.

Blueberry Mash

Sugar (optional)

In blender, blend up the blueberries.  Add sugar to taste, if desired.  Spoon over pancakes.  I prefer something like this instead of syrup.

Italian Chicken and Tomatoes (Reprise)

I have already posted this recipe once.  However, it is very popular and many have asked for the recipe.  I have also changed a few things to make it easier.  You can see the previous post HERE. The old recipe was using fresh diced tomatoes.  This is still great, but let's face it... We just can't always do that.  Tomatoes aren't great fresh all year round. This post will hopefully make this recipe easier but it is still completely healthy and safe for my daughter.  It also looks the same so you can see a picture of the recipe in the above link.

4 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes*** (see note)
1 Tbsp. Italian herbs and seasonings (I use McCormicks Italian Herb Mix.  You can see it HERE.)
Salt to taste

***Note: You can still use fresh diced tomatoes.  You can also use my diced tomato canning recipe to can your own during high season.  You can find that post HERE.  OR, we have found one brand which we can buy at the local natural foods store which doesn't taste horrible or come in a metal can.  You can see it HERE.  I can as many as I can but it never seems to be enough.


In a slow cooker, poor in about a quarter of the diced tomatoes.  Next, place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  Then, pour the rest of the diced tomatoes and seasonings in the cooker.  Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

I typically serve this with rice (Rice Recipe Here) and green beans.  It is amazing leftover as well.

Green Bean Fries

During the summer, we spend a lot of time getting produce from the farmer's market.  We would love to grow our own but it just hasn't happened yet.  I have tried herbs and tomatoes but there are too many animals in my neighborhood that like to steal my good garden plants at night.  I am working on a way to put a cover on some garden beds.  One day, we will grow at least some of our own.  For now though, we buy and preserve during the summer.  I have posted before about canning green beans.  They are one of our favorite veggies.  We canned again this summer but my husband wanted to try some fried green beans.  His favorite Chinese restaurant has them.  We did and they turned out really good!  So I'll share.  We tried to convince the 5 year old to eat them by calling them green bean fries.  She didn't go for it.  One of these days...

Green Bean Fries

Fresh Green Beans (with the ends snapped off and rinsed)
Flour Mix (we used the same one we use for our Fried Chicken)

Heat up oil for frying.  We use grapeseed oil and have a fryer.  Boil some water to blanch the beans.  Boil the beans for 2-3 minutes and immediately rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Coat the beans in egg, then the flour mix.  Then repeat the coating process.  Double coating is key.  We did one coat first and it was okay, but two coats definitely made them crispier.  Then toss the beans in the fryer.  If you are able, you also get a crispier bean if you double fry by pulling the beans out and letting the oil heat back up and dipping them in for a second round of frying.  However, this must be done quick with the beans so you don't overcook them.  They cook much faster than potatoes or chicken.  When they are done, we always spread them out on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
We paired these with baked chicken and rice.  It was a really good meal.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

No-No Corn Ingredients List

This is a list I have been working on for awhile.  There are other lists floating around but I wanted a handy list for my family.  Some of these ingredients are not ALWAYS made from corn but often are so they are not safe ingredients unless they specifically state that they are NOT sourced from corn.  These are ingredients which have been present in products to which L has had a reaction. They could be in foods or medicines.  She has an intolerance so her reaction is mostly intestinal/gastric but eventually shows on her skin as well.  Some with an allergy or intolerance can tolerate certain corn products depending on how they are processed but at this point, most don't know without trying the product to see if there is a reaction.

No-No Corn Ingredients List 

  • acetic acid
  • alcohol
  • artificial flavorings
  • artificial sweeteners
  • ascorbates
  • ascorbic acid
  • aspartame
  • astaxanthin
  • baking powder
  • barley malt
  • bleached flour
  • blended sugar
  • brown sugar
  • calcium citrate
  • calcium fumarate
  • calcium gluconate
  • calcium lactate
  • calcium magnesium acetate
  • calcium stearate
  • calcium stearoyl lactylate
  • caramel
  • caramel color
  • carbonmethylcellulose sodium
  • cellulose microcrystalline
  • cellulose, methyl
  • cellulose, powdered
  • cetearyl glucoside
  • choline chloride
  • citric acid
  • citrus cloud emulsion
  • cocoglycerides
  • confectioners sugar
  • corn
  • corn alcohol
  • corn gluten
  • corn extract
  • corn glour
  • corn oil
  • corn starch
  • corn sweetener
  • corn sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • cornmeal
  • cornstarch, cornflour
  • crosscarmellose sodium
  • cyclodextrin
  • decyl glucoside
  • decyl polyglucose
  • dextrin
  • dextrose
  • diglycerides
  • distilled white vinegar
  • drying agent
  • erythritol
  • ethanol
  • ethylcellulose
  • ethylene
  • ethyl acetate
  • ethyl alcohol
  • ethyl lactate
  • ethyl maltol
  • fibersol
  • flavorings
  • food starch
  • fructose
  • fumaric acid
  • germ
  • gluconate
  • gluconic acid
  • gluconolactone
  • glucosamine
  • glucose
  • glutamate
  • gluten
  • glycerides
  • glycerin
  • glycerol
  • golden syrup
  • grits
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • hominy
  • honey
  • hydrolyzed corn/corn protein
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
  • inositol
  • invert syrup/sugar
  • iodized salt
  • lactate
  • lactic acid
  • lauryl glucoside
  • lecithin
  • linoleic acid
  • lysine
  • magnesium citrate
  • magnesium fumarate
  • magnesium stearate
  • maize
  • malic acid
  • malonic acid
  • malt
  • malt syrup
  • malt extract
  • malted barley
  • maltitol
  • maltodextrin
  • maltol
  • maltose
  • mannitol
  • methyl gluceth
  • methyl glucose
  • methyl glucoside
  • methylcellulose
  • microcrystaline cellulose
  • modified cellulose gum
  • modified corn starch
  • modified food starch
  • molasses
  • monoglycerides
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • MSG
  • natural flavors
  • olestra/olean
  • polenta
  • polydextrose
  • polylactic acid
  • polysorbates
  • polyvinyl acetate
  • potassium citrate
  • potassium fumarate
  • potassium gluconate
  • powdered sugar
  • pregelatinized starch
  • propionic acid
  • propylene glycol
  • propylene glycol monostearate
  • saccharin
  • salt
  • semolina (unless from wheat only)
  • simethicone
  • sodium carboxymethylcellulose
  • sodium citrate
  • sodium erythorbate
  • sodium fumarate
  • sodium lactate
  • sodium starch glycolate
  • sodium stearoyl fumrate
  • sorbate
  • sorbic acid
  • sorbitan
  • sorbitol
  • sorghum
  • splenda
  • starch 
  • stearic acid
  • stearoyls
  • sucralose
  • sugar
  • threonine
  • tocopherol
  • treacle
  • triethyl citrate
  • unmodified starch
  • vanilla
  • vanilla extract
  • vanillin
  • vegetable anything that isn't specific
  • vinegar
  • vinyl acetate
  • vitamin A palmitate
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • vitamins
  • xanthan gum
  • xylitol
  • yeast/yeast extract
  • zea mays
  • zein

Natural All Purpose Cleaner

Vinegar and Citrus Peels: All Purpose Cleaner

Citrus peels (orange, lemon, lime)

In a large jar, pour vinegar over citrus peels.  Allow to soak for a week or so.  Pour into a squirt bottle with a little hot/warm water.

I use this to clean counters and appliances mostly but I have also used it on the tile floors.  The citrus helps to deter most insects as well.  The only thing it doesn't seem to keep away is ants.  We still have trouble with ants and can't find anything that keeps them gone.  But the citrus works to keep out spiders and other insects.

I don't have a picture of this.  I never think to take one when I make a new jar.  One of these days, I will remember and add a picture.  This method has been shared all over Pinterest and other social media.  It does work, is easy, and is cheap.  We already use citrus.  Now we just keep the peels in a jar for cleaner.