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Homemade by Jade

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  • January 17, 2015 07:23:21 AM
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A blog about homesteading and getting back to a simpler lifestyle. Posts include subjects such as cooking from scratch, backyard gardening, canning, cooking, crafts, sewing and household DIY.

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Zesty Mexican Corn Dip

Today​ I want to share with you one of my favorite Mexican dips.  Many of you will be attending or giving a Super Bowl party soon and you will want to include this dip in your menu.  Trust me, it will be a huge hit with the spicy crowd!​​Ingredients:​​4 cups whole kernel corn1/2 cup diced celery1 jalapeno, seeded and deveined then chopped 3 tbsp. mayonnaise1/4 cup sour cream (optional, I like my dip creamier so I use it)1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or if you like more...

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Today​ I want to share with you one of my favorite Mexican dips.  Many of you will be attending or giving a Super Bowl party soon and you will want to include this dip in your menu.  Trust me, it will be a huge hit with the spicy crowd!


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​Ingredients:
  • 4 cups whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and deveined then chopped 
  • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional, I like my dip creamier so I use it)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or if you like more spice, pepper jack)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cilantro leaves, chopped or 2/3 teaspoon dried 
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin (can use regular onion about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • salt to taste
​Directions:

Mix all ingrdients except the corn and lime juice in a bowl.  
When it is well mixed add corn and lime juice and mix gently
Chill at least 3 hours before serving.  I prefer to make it the day before so the flavors can come together and mix more fully


You can use any kind of corn you like, canned, frozen, or fresh sliced off the cob.  I usually chop my corn, but you don't have to.  I just prefer my dip to have a smaller profile and not be full of whole corn kernels, which makes it kind of large on a chip.  I also use mayonnaise with olive oil because it is less fattening and creamier.  The sour cream I use is also reduced fat.  This is how I make it, you can use whatever type of mayo and sour cream you prefer.

A lot of this recipe is made "to taste."  Any of the spices can be adjusted up or down, depending on what you like.  You can also use whatever cheese you like from pepper jack to mozzarella.  If you like creamier dips, add the sour cream, but you don't have to.  You can also add more or less jalepeno or skip it altogether if you don't like that much heat.

Most of the time I serve this as a dip with tortilla chips, but it can be eaten many different ways.  I have eaten it in soft taco shells with shredded lettuce, mixed it in with a cold rice salad and I have even stuffed it in tortillas like a burrito and baked them!  It really is a 

wonderful flavor, hot or cold.
This dip is always a hit, wherever I take it, so try it at your next gathering....but be prepared to have people ask for the recipe!  

Jade    :)

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How to Wrap Beautiful Gifts Without Bows

Why would you want to wrap gifts without bows, you ask?  Well, there are several reasons, but why I had to do it was because I have a feisty 10 month old orange kitten that simply won't leave bows alone.  So unless I want a bunch of bedraggled, ripped and toothmarked Christmas bows, I had to go another route.  Another reason would be to save money.  Ribbon is expensive, even bags of premade bows are as inexpensive as they used to be.  Going without bows saves...

Why would you want to wrap gifts without bows, you ask?  Well, there are several reasons, but why I had to do it was because I have a feisty 10 month old orange kitten that simply won't leave bows alone.  So unless I want a bunch of bedraggled, ripped and toothmarked Christmas bows, I had to go another route.  Another reason would be to save money.  Ribbon is expensive, even bags of premade bows are as inexpensive as they used to be.  Going without bows saves money!  A third reason is that it is impossible to stack gifts for transport if they have bows on them.  You can try, but I guarantee by the time you get them to the desired location, they bows will be mashed, ripped or missing completely.  Do yourself a favor and go bowless!  With a little ingenuity and glue, you will have gorgeous packages and the recipients will be amazed!

​What you will need to do this is a glue stick, scissors, a few different kinds of ribbon, and wrapping paper.  I found it to be easier if you have paper that comes in a set, so they go together, but this is not necessary.  You can be creative and use any assortment of paper that you think looks pretty.  The glue stick I used is this one:  Elmers All Purpose Glue Stick
You really need this, trust me!  Don't try to do this with regular glue, or even Mod Podge.  Regular glue will make your paper pieces wrinkle and warp, and not lay flat.  Mod Podge should be brushed on the gift and then the paper pieces put on the Mod Podged wrapping paper.  Doing this will ruin the shine of the gift wrap.  Take my advice and get a glue stick, and save yourself the grief.
First you wrap your gift.  Make sure not to use gift wrap that is too busy.  If it is, your pattern pieces will get lost and hard to see.  After your gift is wrapped, decide what you want to put on the front of it.  From here, you can go three ways, you can free hand cut out the pieces, you can draw the shapes on the back of the paper and cut out, or you can make a pattern to trace on the back of the wrapping paper.  I used all three methods, depending on how complex the design was.  Below is one of the packages I used a pattern for:

​I used a ruler for the lines and plain typing paper for the pattern.  This is the result:


Luckily, I happened to have two colors of the same wrapping paper, which I think happened to make this pattern particularly pretty.  After gluing on the tree, I cut out the red circles out of red paper scraps and glued them on in the center of the snowflakes.  I think it came out really cute!  I used this idea to make the same tree design on a another gift, only in a different way.  This time I just used a ruler and pencil to trace out the pattern on the back of the paper before cutting.
Here is a zoomed in picture.  I should have left more space between the pieces so it would be easier to see the separation.  Live and learn!

For this one, I just used a ruler to trace out triangular trees and I left them whole.  The paper I used came from a set that came together, so they match well.  It's a simple design, but I think it is quite beautiful.

Sometimes I use the patterns on paper as a base for a design.  Like the one below, I made with the same paper as on the left hand tree on the package above.


I saw the ornament shape of the pattern on the gift wrap, and I decided to go with it.  First I cut them out, then I snipped a few pieces of ribbon for hangers and glued them together.

This is the other side of the giftwrap. 
​I love double sided paper, don't you?

​You don't really have to get fancy, sometimes a more plain design fits the package or gift wrap more, like the one below.  Simple geometric shapes make for an interesting design, especially if your background paper is a more busy design like my HO HO HO paper.


​I know that some of you are probably thinking, why should I go to all that trouble and work for something that is going to be ripped to pieces and destroyed?  Well, I look at it like an ice sculpture.  It's beautiful while it lasts, but it just isn't meant to last forever.  :)

Have a Happy, Merry, and Joyous Christmas!

Jade    :)

Photos by Jade


How to Make Bird Cakes

​​It's getting to be that time of year.  Cold, snowy and just a difficult time for our fine feathered friends outside.  I imagine it's hard for a bird to find food during winter with no plants blooming and no worms spending much time on the surface of the ground.  Having snow on the ground would make it even harder.  This is why I always keep my bird feeders full during cold weather.  When I have time, I even make little bird cakes to hang on the...


​​It's getting to be that time of year.  Cold, snowy and just a difficult time for our fine feathered friends outside.  I imagine it's hard for a bird to find food during winter with no plants blooming and no worms spending much time on the surface of the ground.  Having snow on the ground would make it even harder.  This is why I always keep my bird feeders full during cold weather.  When I have time, I even make little bird cakes to hang on the trees.  They love them and the fat they are made with helps keep the birds plump and well insulated from the cold.  I have four recipes that I like to use to make my bird cakes.  They are all easy and pretty quick to make.  Making them is a great family activity, perfect for the holidays.

​Many bird cake recipes call for suet.  If you don't know what suet is, it is basically fat.  When you trim the fat off a beef roast or the edge of a pork chop, that fat is suet.  If you don't have any solid meat fat to use, you can use bacon grease or even shortening like Crisco.   What you need is some type of fat that you can melt to a liquid form and then when chilled, it will harden to keep the other ingredients together for the birds to peck.  


My Four Favorite Bird Cake Recipes

Bird Delight

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the suet
Add all the other ingredients and stir to mix
Spoon into large paper cups or muffin tins and insert a drinking straw through the middle to make a hole for the string
Cool in the refrigerator until solid, peel away the paper cups and pull out the straw
Slip the string in the hole tie to a tree branch or bird feeder
Bird Bread
  • 2 cups melted creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups cornmeal or stale dry cereal blended into crumbs
  • Warm water
  • 3 cups wild birdseed
  • 1/2 cup raisins and chopped peanuts

Soak raisins in warm water to hydrate them
Slowly melt peanut butter, (can substitute bacon grease) over low heat. 
Add cornmeal or cereal crumbs. 
Add birdseed, raisins and peanuts and stir to mix
Slowly add enough warm water to form a stiff dough
Spread mixture on a greased cookie sheet about 1/2 inch thick and refrigerate overnight
Cut or break into pieces to tie to tree branches

Bird Muffins

Melt suet over low heat 
Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until mixed well
Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and spoon in the mixture
Refrigerate overnight and tie to low hanging tree branches

Bird Balls
  • 1 cup suet
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
  • 2 cups wild bird feed with sunflower seeds

In a saucepan on low heat, place suet, peanut butter, and molasses and melt together
Add oatmeal, cornmeal and bacon grease and stir till mixed
Add birdseed a little at a time while stirring until you get the proper consistency to make balls
Make 2 inch balls and freeze for a couple hours.
These balls can be tossed on the ground or placed in a feeder

If you don't have time or ingredients to make bird cakes, you can still help your birds by feeding them left over food.  Below is a list of foods that it is safe to feed birds.

Apple slices
Banana
Cooked rice
Chopped cooked pasta
Shredded hard cheese
Roasted melon, pumpkin or squash seeds
Cereal (low sugar is better)
Crackers (unsalted is better)
Dry dog or cat food
Unsalted nuts
Berries
Uncooked oatmeal
Bread and Cornbread
Cake, cookies and doughnuts  (small amounts)

These are just a few things that you can feed birds, however, if you are thinking of feeding something to your backyard birds, it is a good idea to Google it and make sure it is ok 
because somethings are not recommended, like raw tomatoes or mushrooms.

​This picture to the right is what is called a suet feeder.  Instead of tying your bird cakes to tree branches you can put them in this feeder and hang them anywhere you have birds.  You can also put fruit slices or bread in them for the birds to eat.  They just hang on the wires and peck! 

​I hope you have a great week!


Jade    :)


After Halloween Trifle

​If you are like many households, you are drowning in candy after Halloween.  Whether it's from your children's haul or left overs because you bought to much or didn't have many kids, you look at all that chocolate and think "what am I going to do with all this?" Well, I have a great idea for what you can do with all that chocolate candy, though I have to confess, it's NOT any less fattening, it's creative, pretty and really delicious!​ ​I...


If you are like many households, you are drowning in candy after Halloween.  Whether it's from your children's haul or left overs because you bought to much or didn't have many kids, you look at all that chocolate and think "what am I going to do with all this?" Well, I have a great idea for what you can do with all that chocolate candy, though I have to confess, it's NOT any less fattening, it's creative, pretty and really delicious!

​I have to apologize for not having a picture of this After Halloween Trifle.  Much to my sorrow, I could not make one this year.  The reason?  We live out in the country and don't have any trick or treaters, so we don't buy any candy.  We don't have any kids living here whose candy we could raid!  Last but not least, my husband is diabetic and if he even looked at this dessert, he would probably go into a diabetic coma.  I'm just kidding, but it is the truth that he could not eat this without bad consequences, so me making it is pretty much out.  But!  Just because I can't make it does not meant that you can't!  The picture above shows a trifle just like what you will make except their is no candy in it.  The directions are easy, let's begin......

​First of all, I always made this trifle with caramel pudding, which is pretty hard to find in the store, so I have included a recipe to make it from scratch.  If you aren't fond of caramel, you can use whatever flavor pudding you like.  Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, even butterscotch, all would be delicious, so go with what you like.  For whipped cream, I use cool whip because it is easier that whipping up the real kind.  You could also use a can of ReddiWhip.  Nothing about this recipe is carved in stone, you decide what kind of whipped cream you prefer.  I am not including a recipe for brownies because I am sure you all have one already, or you can use a box mix or even buy them at a bakery.  How much or little effort you want to put forth for the ingredients is strictly up to you.  I remember in my younger days I was usually pretty exhausted the day after Halloween, so this recipe is perfect!

​Day After Halloween Trifle

Ingredients:
  • 9 x 13 pan of brownies 
  • 3 cups of whipped cream
  • 3 cups of caramel pudding (or the flavor of your choice)
  • 3.5 cups of cut up chilled candy bars, peanut butter cups and M&Ms
​Directions:

In a large glass bowl, take 1/3 of the brownies and break them into 2 x 2 inch pieces and place them in the bottom of the bowl
Take 1/3 of the pudding and spoon it evenly over the brownies
Sprinkle 1 cup of the chopped candy over the pudding
Cover the candy with a layer of whipped cream
Begin the next layer with the second 1/3 of the brownies and keep stacking layers until you get three complete layers
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped candy on top as a garnish

I chill mine for at least 2 or 3 hours before serving.  Don't make it too far in advance of serving because the brownies will soak up the pudding and whipped cream moisture and get soggy.  

​This is my favorite trifle bowl.  The great thing about it is that you can use it for so much more!  It is great for large salads like taco salad, pasta salad, green salad or 7 layer salad.  I also use mine for fruit salad!

​Caramel Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons butter
 ​Directions:

Set butter out to knock off the chill
Scald milk in a large pot  (if you don't know how, check out this short 2 minute video)
In a medium bowl beat eggs until whites and yolks are blended
Add both sugars and 1.5 cups of the scaulded milk and whisk to blend
Slowly pour this mixture into the pot with the rest of the scaulded milk
Over medium heat, stir mixture about 15 minutes or until thickened to your preference
Remove pot from stove, pour in vanilla while stirring and then add butter
Continue to stir until pudding is cooled to room temperature.


I hope you enjoy your Halloween Trifle, I envy you and wish I could have some!  Have a great week!

Jade    :)


How to Make Sour Cream and Buttermilk

​Everyone that cooks has had that moment when you are making a dish and realize that you don't have one of the ingredients.  You have two choices:  pack yourself off to the store and get it (not a great choice for me as the closest grocery store is at least 10 miles away) or you can try to make due with a substitute, not knowing how it will make your dish turn out or taste.  Neither solution is ideal.  What if I told you that sometimes there is a third option?That third...

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​Everyone that cooks has had that moment when you are making a dish and realize that you don't have one of the ingredients.  You have two choices:  pack yourself off to the store and get it (not a great choice for me as the closest grocery store is at least 10 miles away) or you can try to make due with a substitute, not knowing how it will make your dish turn out or taste.  Neither solution is ideal.  What if I told you that sometimes there is a third option?


That third option is to make it yourself.  We have actually made quite a few posts on this blog on making items from scratch.  Here are a few:

So today I have decided to add a couple more items to that list.  The biggest reason for this is that I have a hard time keeping sour cream and buttermilk in the fridge on a regular basis.  To be honest, I just don't use either of them that often, so when I buy them they usually spoil before the containers are empty.  I hate when that happens!  So I learned how to make them, so I can do that, when I need them for a recipe.
How to Make Sour Cream
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup half and half  (use heavy cream if you prefer thick sour cream)
  • 3 tablespoons of buttermilk

Directions:

Stir the two together and pour into a mason jar 
Drape a paper towel or thick weave cotton over the top
Screw on the ring only and leave it on the counter at room temperature for 36 to 48 hours

I know what you are saying:  The cream will spoil if you leave it unrefrigerated!  Normally you would be right, but in this case, the acid in the buttermilk will stop any bateria from forming and causing the cream to spoil.  However, once you get the sour cream the consistency you want, you should put it in the refrigerator, to stop the processing.  I warn you, though, since it has no preservatives, it will only last for about a week in the refrigerator before it will spoil for real!

How to Make Buttermilk
Buttermilk is a common ingredient in older cake and other baked goods recipes.  If you are like me, you don't keep buttermilk on hand, so when you need it for a recipe, you have none!  Never fear, you can make your own.  Here's how:
Ingredients:
Directions:

Mix the ingredients together and set out on the counter for about 10 minutes until it thickens a bit.
It is ready to use.

It is not identical to the store bought kind but it is very close and in cooking it works exactly the same.  Buttermilk is just milk that is slightly fermented.  It will keep in the fridge for about a week.
​​
I hope this helps you all out when you get in a pinch for something you don't have.  Have a great week!

Jade    :)

Image:  https://www.flickr.com/search/license=4%2C5%2C9%2C10&advanced=1&media=photos&text=homemade%20sour%20cream 


Cheesecloth Ghosts and Spooky Shirts

​I love making Halloween decorations!  I have to force myself not to make them the whole month of October, because if I did that, I would have to start renting a storage space just to house them!  That being the case, I have to carefully choose only the coolest crafts to make, and this one definitely qualifies.  I saw this on You Tube and I immediately knew I had to do it.  The ghosts are adorable to sit or to hang!  The shirts are really spooky and great to sit in...

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​I love making Halloween decorations!  I have to force myself not to make them the whole month of October, because if I did that, I would have to start renting a storage space just to house them!  That being the case, I have to carefully choose only the coolest crafts to make, and this one definitely qualifies.  I saw this on You Tube and I immediately knew I had to do it.  The ghosts are adorable to sit or to hang!  The shirts are really spooky and great to sit in the corner of any room.  This is how to make them.....


​Both of these items are basically made in the same way, by stiffening fabric.  Stiffening your ghost or shirt can be accomplished several different ways.  You can buy a stiffening 
agent, or you can make one.  If you want to buy your materials, I recommend any of these, they all do a good job.

However, if you want to make your own stiffener, it is a lot cheaper and not at all difficult.  It can be made two ways, with cornstarch or with glue.  Both work equally well.

How to Make the Stiffener
Cornstarch Stiffener

Ingredients:


Whisk and microwave in 30 second increments up to two minutes until thickened.
Glue Stiffener

Ingredients:


Stir until well mixed and you are ready to go!
Below are a couple of great videos showing methods of making really cute ghosts.

Spooky Shirts

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The method of making spooky shirts is a bit more complex.....well, more messy at least, but it can also be fun!  You just take the shirt that you want to use, soak it in the stiffener and put it on.  Well, it is better if you either don't wear anything under it or woment can wear a smooth sports bra.  Once you have the wet shirt on, smooth it down and you can either let it dry naturally or I used a hair dryer to speed up the process.  Either way, you will be wearing it for a while, so make sure that you are not allergic to any of the stiffening ingredients.  

Once it is dry, peel it off and set it somewhere to finish hardening and jump in the shower to wash off the stiffening agent.  Let the shirt stand and dry for at least 24 hours.  When it is fully dry, you can set it on a small lamp (leave the shade on to prevernt fires) or you can stuff the inside with Christmas style strings of lights. You can get strings of lights in all kinds of Halloweeny colors like orange, green or purple. Either a lamp or the light strings will illuminate your spooky shirt and make it look cool!

I hope you enjoyed today's tutorial and have decided to make some of these cool decorations for your house this Halloween!

Jade    :)


Image Credits:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt4AzqkiM7w
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pauliina/3480343371/sizes/l



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