Poached chicken often gets a bad rap. A lot of people think it's bland and flavorless. But it doesn't have to be that way. I think poached chicken can be a kitchen lifesaver. You may have heard me say before that I always have cooked chicken in my fridge. There are so many quick and delicious meals you can make in just a few minutes if you already have cooked chicken. I often will roast chickens and pick the meat off, but if I haven't gotten around to doing that and I want some cooked chicken to use for a recipe (or just to eat!), then poaching is my next best go-to.Read More
I don't know about you, but running out of dishwasher detergent and not being able to do the dishes is just not an option around here. Getting behind on the dishes might be worse than getting behind on the laundry (which happens too often). But what to do when it's late at night and you go to the cabinet and realize you're out of dishwasher detergent? A late night grocery store run sounds like about the last thing I want to do, and waking up to a mountain of dirty dishes sounds even worse. There has to be a solution.
Have you seen any of these recipes online for making your own dishwasher detergent? They sound interesting, but a lot of them call for stuff that I just don't normally keep around my house, or stuff that I'm not sure I'm comfortable putting on my dishes (Borax, Oxy-Clean, etc.), or they require you mixing up some big recipe of stuff, which I'm not doing late at night.
But I saw one recently that called for just dish soap and baking soda. Things I always have. So of course I had to try it.
We run our dishwasher at least twice a day here, and often three times on weekends. With 6-8 people at every meal, everything homemade, we go through a lot of dishes! And so we also go through a LOT of dishwasher detergent. I try to buy a more natural brand, because when I open the dishwasher and I am hit in the face with a strong chemical smell, I just don't think that sounds like a good idea. If there's that much strong chemical odor left in the steam that comes out of the dishwasher, then I'm pretty sure that it's on my dishes too, and I just don't like the idea of that. So I try to go for a dishwasher detergent that is a little lighter on the chemicals. But those kinds are expensive, and for some reason they come in very small packages. I buy like 4 or 5 packages at a time, just to make sure we don't run out.
But what if we do run out? That would be an emergency! So when I came across this idea for running the dishwasher with just regular other household stuff, I had to know if it worked!
I had to.
And you know what? IT WORKS!!
I've been doing this every day this week. I run the dishwasher twice a day usually during the week, so I've been doing one load with our regular detergent and one load with this homemade combo. I've stuck with the regular detergent for the load that we run after dinner, since it's running at night and I'm not keeping an eye on it, and I've tried this new method for the load I run while I am home during the day - just in case I had any kind of over-sudsing incident.
And I can honestly tell you the results are identical. I haven't noticed any difference in the dishes between the two methods. The loads with the homemade detergent are just as clean as the loads with the packaged detergent. I haven't added up the costs yet, but I can pretty much assure you that a bottle of dish soap and a big package of baking soda are going to be a heck of a lot cheaper than the expensive detergent tablets that I've been buying.
A couple tablespoons of baking soda
A few drops, or a small squirt, of Dawn dish soap.
Fill your detergent cup with baking soda, you don't have to be precise, but with mine this ends up being a couple of heaping tablespoons. Then add a few drops of dish soap. I have a pump dispenser for my dish soap, so I just put about half a squirt in there. Close the cover, and run dishwasher as usual. That's all.
I experimented with quantity of dish soap. The first few recipes I read said just 2 drops, but that just didn't feel like enough to me, to really get a very full load clean. So I gradually added a little more until I felt comfortable. I haven't yet found an upper limit, but I haven't pushed it too far.
The baking soda is VERY important here. Don't try this without it! It keeps the soap from forming suds. The reason they tell you never to use liquid dish soap in your dishwasher is because of the suds - you'll have bubbles all over your floor. But the baking soda apparently prevents that, so it allows the soap to do the grease cutting and cleaning, without making all those bubbles. I've opened my dishwasher at various points in the cycles to see what's going on in there, and there are no bubbles. I'm not scientist, so I'm not going to try to figure out why any of this happens. All I know is, my dishes are getting clean and I don't have soap all over my floor and I didn't have to buy dishwasher detergent.
I have not tried this with other brands of dish soap. I've tried lots of other brands of liquid dish soap for hand washing, and I keep coming back to Dawn, so that is what I used for this. The more natural and/or less expensive brands just don't work as well. I found that I was having to use so much more soap to just wash a sink full of dishes, that it just wasn't worth it.
I pour my dish soap into a pump dispenser that I keep next to my sink. I like this one because the spout extends out far enough that you can just pump it right into the sink.
So that's it. Dish soap & baking soda! Let me know if you try it!
I love a good cooking shortcut - or I guess we call them "hacks" these days. So here is one of my favorite breakfast hacks: muffins made from pancake batter.
Muffins made from pancake batter? Yes! It totally works.
When I make pancakes I always make extra batter.
If you look at my breakfast for lunch posts, you'll see that we make a lot of lunches with leftover pancakes. Pancakes refrigerate well and freeze great and they are a perfect item to have on hand for quick and easy breakfasts and lunches.
But sometimes I get about halfway through the batter and I'm just feeling done with standing over the stove and cooking pancakes.
So I take the rest and just make muffins!
All you do is fill greased (or paper lined) mini muffin pans with the batter and then top as you like.
These work best with mini muffin pans because pancake batter is lighter than regular muffin batter, so bigger muffins fall a little and don't look quite as pretty. But bite sized pancake muffins are perfect. You can make them plain, or you can dress them up. I like to fill all the spots with batter, and then add stuff to the top.
In this batch you can see that I did three different flavors. I put a couple of blueberries in some, a big frozen raspberry in the middle of some, and the rest I just sprinkled with a little cinnamon sugar.
They are so good - light and moist and just perfectly sweet enough. They are the perfect size for little hands and small enough to just pop in your mouth, and they make a great portable breakfast.
As for the pancake recipe - I make my own. Pancakes are so easy to make from scratch, it's almost silly. You can read my pancake recipe here. You'll note in my recipe that I say that the butter is optional, but I think it's necessary for muffins - it really helps to keep them from sticking. If you don't want to take the time to melt and cool butter, I've substituted vegetable oil for the butter and they still come out great.
You can totally do this with a store bought pancake mix if you prefer, I would just gently suggest that you try to find one with no artificial ingredients. For extra tasty pancakes, I always add a little maple syrup to the batter. This makes them taste great on their own, which means that for a quick weekday breakfast or lunch you don't need to get out all that sticky syrup.
Mixed pancake batter (be sure to include the butter or oil, and add a little extra sweetener)
oil of choice for muffin pans, or muffin cups
mini muffin pan
toppings / fillings of choice: berries, chocolate chips, cinnamon & sugar, etc.
Preheat oven to 350, or 325 convection. Grease mini muffin pans, or line with muffin papers.
Prepare your pancake batter as usual. Be sure to include the butter or oil called for in the recipe, and add a little extra sweetener. I usually sweeten my pancake batter with maple syrup. My recipe calls for enough syrup to make the batter nicely sweet without needing to add extra syrup when you eat them. But if you're using a different recipe, or a box mix, I would recommend that you add a few tablespoons of extra syrup or sugar.
Fill your muffin cups about half way with pancake batter. Add toppings as desired - a piece of fruit, a frozen berry, a little sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes for mini muffins (time will vary depending on your oven temperature).
With simple ingredients and the use of a handy kitchen appliance, you can have fresh biscuits out of your oven in a half hour from start to finish - and in the oven in just 5 minutes from when you start. These are my current go-to when I am making a big pot of soup or stew and we want a little something to go with it. They are absolutely perfect for soaking up gravy and broth, and they are amazing just piping hot with a little butter. They are also perfect for my couple of picky kids, because even if they don't eat the soup or stew that I'm serving for dinner, they are at least getting something made with whole grain and the protein of yogurt, milk, and egg.Read More
Do you want to know how to make your own almond milk? Please say yes - you won't regret it - because this is too easy, and it tastes so good!
I've been making my own almond milk for a while now. I love having it in my morning coffee - it gives the milkiness I like from putting milk in my coffee, and just the right amount of sweetness, but somehow seems lighter on the stomach. I also love using it in my kid's smoothies.
When I made it the first time I was completely blown away at how easy it was. I couldn't believe I'd been holding off on making nut milk, for some reason thinking it would be too much work. So wrong!Read More