Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cleaning Recipes

Household cleaners can be so toxic to you & to your children! I recently decided I would start making my own cleaners instead of buying & using all those harmful cleaners sold at the local grocery store. While I still do have those cleaners around (only because I have yet to use the ones I had before I started making my own) and I will admit they are easy & convenient. It is said even though the cleaners you have are underneath the kitchen sink, they still produce toxic fumes that could possibly cause autism, candida (yeast overgrowth in your body), and other possibly health problems. While I'm not sure all that is true, I think the idea of homemade cleaners is awesome & so affordable (which is always a plus!).


Soap-Water spray - add a small squirt of dish soap (Dawn or Ivory) or Dr. Bronner’s to a spray bottle full of water. Shake and spray.

Vinegar Spray—mix equal parts of white vinegar with water, and add your favorite essential oil (25 drops). Remember that vinegar and oil don’t mix well (like salad dressing), so don’t use this to clean the grease on your stove unless you’ve already cleaned with soap and water or baking soda and water.

Scented Baking Soda—fill a shaker-type container with baking soda and add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Use the scented baking soda anywhere you would use a cleaner like Soft Scrub. It is amazing how well baking soda can get stains off of counter tops!

BathroomsCounters—a simple dish soap and water solution works really well. I fill the sink with warm water and a tiny squirt of dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s and use it to clean the counters, sinks, and all the parts of the toilet you touch with a sponge.

Toilet – sprinkle about ½ cup baking soda in the bowl and the water. Pour about ½ cup vinegar into the bowl. Watch it fizz. Scrub with a toilet brush. To clean the seat and rim, use your vinegar-water solution or soap-water solution.

Tub—this stuff works amazingly:
Tub Paste - Squirt some peppermint Dr. Bronner’s soap, about 1/4 cup or more, into a sealing container. I use a cleaned, 16-ounce, plastic yogurt container.
Add about half as much water as you did soap.
Mix in baking soda, adding a little at a time until it forms a nice thick paste, about the consistency of store-bought cake frosting. If you add too much baking soda, thin it with a little water.
To use, scoop some cleaner out onto a dampened sponge and scrub your bath tub. It works amazingly well and smells so good, you’ll want to eat it.

Sleep-It-Off Oven Cleaner
Ingredients: salt, baking soda, water, a shaker, and a spray bottle with water and a couple tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s or dishwashing soap (like Dawn).
Mix ¼ cup salt with ¾ cup baking soda. Fill the shaker.
Spray the oven with soap and water spray. Shake the salt-soda mixture on. Spray again with water until the mixture is slightly damp and pasty. For the side walls, make a thick paste and sponge it on.
Leave it overnight. In the morning, get a putty knife/scraper, and scrape off the goop and pile it onto an old newspaper. Use a scotch-brite sponge to work off any tough spots. Wipe down with a soap and water spray. Rinse.
*I used this in our condo and it worked wonders! And did not have that awful smell like regular oven cleaners have.

Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup washing soda (not baking soda, but it is made by Arm & Hammer and found in the laundry aisle)1 cup Borax (also in the laundry aisle, and while not non-toxic, it is much less-toxic than your other options)10 drops lemon essential oil
Mix with a fork or butter knife and store in an old glass jar or Tupperware. Place ½ Tablespoon in the smaller detergent cup and 1 Tablespoon in the larger detergent cup in your dishwasher.
*I did not add the lemon essential oil & it seemed to work just as well.

All of these recipes are from and she also has other recipes on there, that I did not list.

Happy Cleaning!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I made this cake for Allen's 28th Birthday and it was to die for!  Very rich but very delicious!  It took me hours to make but it was definitely worth it!  Perfect for your next special occassion or for your favorite  peanut butter lover!!  Cut slices as small as possible & be sure to have a class of milk on hand :) 

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes

This cake is INTENSE. Serve it in the thinnest slices possible, and keep a glass of milk handy.

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16 (the book says, I say a heck of a lot more)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

This is a popular dinner dish at our house! I thought I already posted it but I couldn't find it anyway, so here it is...ENJOY!


4 servings (serving size: 2 1/2 cups)


  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup light sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • SALAD:
  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
  • 1/3 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8 3/4-ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained


To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients, stirring well.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Tip: Add a spoonful of adobo sauce for a spicier salad. Kidney or pinto beans also taste great in this dish.

Nutritional Information

249 (30% from fat)
8.2g (sat 2.8g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.7g)

Monday, June 8, 2009

San Antonio Living

So Allen and I have lived in San Antonio now for one week and 2 days...
The first week was interesting to say the least.  It first started with the converter in the travel trailer (it converts the electricity in order for everything to run in the trailer) going out and having to be replaced to me being locked out one day for 2 and 1/2 hours while I had to sit outside waiting for Allen to come home (it was miserable!), then to waking up at 1am to the awning slamming against the side of the trailer & then being completely destroyed due to the high winds (we had NO idea a storm was coming in), spent $550 on Reno at the vet (SA is #2 in the nation for allergies & Reno is highly allergic to SA), to having a terrible water leak which caused a big part of the carpet to be soaked (which was so gross & nasty!!!) - Allen was able to fix it after only 2-3 trips to Lowe's (thanks honey) to FINALLY adjusting to a new place, a very small place, with mostly all of our stuff in storage!
So change is they say...Allen is enjoying his job for the most part (wishes they would give him a little more responsibility but you know how it is being "the newbie") but we are thankful for this opportunity and have hopes that things will get better!

I am definitely looking forward to setting up my sewing stuff & sewing!  It's like an escape for me :) and I'm excited about the mega JoAnn's here in San Antonio.  I just might get a summer job there, haha!  I have currently applied to several school districts around SA but no interviews yet...please pray for us and that God will open a door for me to teach here in the SA area.  We have begin looking for a rent house or apartment and we hope to be in a new place by August 1st.  We'll have a spare bedroom so we'd love for you to come visit us!  There is so much to see & do here...the river, outlet malls, Sea World, Wildlife Safari, great food, and much, much more.

Other exciting family news:
Heather & Scottie got married on May 30th and we are so very happy for them & wish them all the best!
Joe is going to be a BIG brother! :) Cadee & Eric are expecting their 2nd baby - due sometime in November.  We have very excited for them & can't wait to meet our new nephew or niece!