Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best Banana Walnut Muffins





This recipe is one I saw Nigella Lawson make several years ago.  I've tried many banana muffin and banana bread recipes and I love this one the most, hands down.  These muffins have a lighter texture than most that I've tried and every one I've served them to agrees.

Banana Walnut Muffins

2 T butter
1/4 cup honey (I used 1/8 cup sugar and 1/8 cup splenda since we eat very low sugar.)
1/2 t vanilla
2 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup all purpose flour
1 heaping t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
health pinch of salt
big handful of walnut pieces
10 cup cake papers

Preheat over to 375

Melt butter and honey in a small sauce pan.  Add vanilla.

In a mixing bowl mash bananas, and stir in melted butter mixture.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined.

Don't beat with a mixer.

Stir in walnut pieces or if preferred mini chocolate chips.  I believe Nigella used the chocolate chips.

Line a muffin pan with 10 cup cake papers.

Spoon 2/3 full into muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.

This recipe will make 10 regular sized muffins.



Linking to Cozy Little House
Joyful Homemaking,  Saving 4 Six

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Have a great week.

Gina

Friday, July 11, 2014

Give a Kitten a Home




The end of May I was walking on the side of my house and spied a little eye looking at me from behind an old air conditioner cover that was on the side of my neighbor's house.  I should have left well enough alone, but instead lifted the A/C cover to find four tiny kittens, not more than a week old.  They had their little eyes open, but were very shaky to stand.  Very tiny babies.

I took a large box from my garage, put in a towel and brought the box and babies to my front porch.
An hour after I relocated them, the neighbor mowed his tall grass and surely would have mowed right over the kittens.

I knew who the mother cat was.  A small feral orange cat I had been seeing for the past three weeks.
I could tell she was pregnant, but had tried resisting contact with her.  I finally ended up offering her some food (stupid me) because she just looked so emaciated and could hardly walk. 

I called several rescue groups in town and even though they weren't helpful, I thought if I could trap her with some food, that I could take her to a shelter before the kittens were born.  No such luck.  She was too smart to be trapped.   I was rather panicked at the thought of having to take care of the mother and four kittens.  The mother travels with a young male cat also, so that's six cats that need care, spaying/neutering, shots, etc. 

I called every single shelter in my large city, and all the surrounding areas.  Not one offered any solution.  The new philosophy seems to be: trap, spay/neuter, and get shots all at my own expense and then return them to where they were found to be fed for the rest of their lives (or mine), again at my own expense.  I had no less than nine rescue organizations tell me this. 

I have two elderly dogs with health problems and four rescued cats that I already support.  I have just enough room and funds to care for these.  I grew up with the idea that when you adopt pets, you give them the best care possible for the live time of the pet.   We have two "cat colonies" close in the neighborhood to us that feed large groups of cats, so there is an endless stream of feral cats in our area.  I have resisted for years even putting a water bowl out for these travelers.  But it goes against ever cell in my body to let these four kittens be mowed over by the neighbor.  I actually had one rescue woman tell me "then it just wouldn't be your problem".

The mother cat actually moved the kittens a little over a week after I put the box on the porch.  I knew where she had taken them and was still talking with the only two rescue people that would contact me.  Then two weeks after she moved them, she brought two kittens to my porch and left them.  Even though they were older, they were still too tiny to be on their own and had no protection from any dogs that might come by.  So again, stupid me, I let the two in and have had them since.

I still had hopes one of the rescue people would help, but that hasn't happened.  My brother visiting from Las Vegas made a large covered pen for them and that has helped make a place for them, so far. 

Recently, the mother cat and the other two kittens have been coming to be fed.  The neighbor puts food out for his two cats, that he doesn't take proper care of, so she goes between us and his house.   I don't need to trap the kittens, they will let me pick them up.  I just need to find someone to give them a home.  Really, I need someone to give the two I have inside homes also, but the two outside need help more right now.  Otherwise this neighbor will be a new cat colony, right next door to us.  The feral mother will get pregnant again as soon a she stops nursing these two kittens.  The two kitten I have are females and I'm pretty sure so are the two outside.  That will be three more breeding females, along with the young male she has in tow, plus the neighbor won't neuter his male cat.  I am facing having to find the money to get the two I have inside spayed and shots.  It's hard to do with Texas A/C bills right now.

If anyone in the Texas area can give one of these kittens a home, I would be so grateful.  It doesn't save the world, but it would save the one kitten that gets a home.   They sure didn't ask to be born and being the animal lover that I am, I think any animal deserves a home and to be loved.  I never really meant to do a post about this situation, but am out of options.  I see so many of the feral cats live  miserable lives in our extreme heat of the long summer season and on the winter days when we do get ice, sleet or heavy rains.  Our city claims to be a "no kill cat city" now.  When in reality, that is not what it is.  They just won't take the cats any more.  I even talked to animal control in our city and was told in reality, they just won't pick up cats and if they do, they sterilize them and put them back where they found them.  Then it's up to people like me to feed them or not.  I don't find that a humane solution.



Please, email me or leave a comment if you can give a kitten a home.

Gina


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Non-toxic Bug Relief



Photo by Ross Lab

I found a great post today on a blog I read daily called Spend With Pennies.  Holly has several recipes using essential oils and a couple of basic ingredients for DIY bug sprays.   Since I live in the south, we battle bugs most months of the year.  Nothing worse than trying to enjoy cooking outside on the grill or just enjoying a glass of wine on the patio after the sun goes down, and getting bitten to bits!!  She even has a version that can be sprayed on the pets to help repel flying insects.  I for one am going to give these a try. 

Have a nice Sunday!

Gina

Monday, June 23, 2014

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

 
Photo by Food Network



I had an out of town guest for a few days, my brother from Las Vegas.  He enjoys Mexican food while he's here, so I made chicken enchiladas the day he arrived.

This is one of those dishes that has many versions, but here is my super easy version.

I cooked two large chicken breasts in my crock pot, but you could so easily use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

2 chicken breast shredded

1 small onion chopped

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1 teaspoon cumin

1 smashed garlic clove

3 Tablespoons olive oil

12 corn tortillas

1 can green chili enchilada sauce

1 package Mexican Blend shredded cheese

Chopped fresh tomato, sour cream, avocado


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Sautee chopped onion and garlic until onion is soft.  Remove garlic clove.  Your oil will have the garlic flavor, so now you can toss the clove.  

Mix the onion, shredded chicken,  Rotel tomatoes,  cumin and 1/3 of the cheese.

I keep my corn and flour tortillas frozen.  Even though I live in a city where tortillas are so easy to find in every grocery store, I freeze mine because the easiest way to get a soft tortilla is to start with frozen.  Take off the amount you want to use and wrap them in a clean kitchen dish towel.  Microwave them from 30 seconds to 1 minute on high, depending how many you are warming.  They come out soft and perfect every time.  I know many people warm their tortillas on the burner one at a time or in oil in a skillet one at a time.  I find that so tedious and can get mine done all at once in seconds with the dish towel method.  If you want to use fresh, not frozen, wrap your tortillas in a damp paper towel, then the dish towel and microwave.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Place a thin layer of the green chili enchilada sauce in the dish.  Take a spoon full of the chicken mix in a corn tortilla and roll.  Place seam side down in the baking dish.  Pour the green chili enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas.

Cover with foil and bake for twenty minutes.

Remove foil and top with the remaining cheese.  I like plenty of cheese, so I added a little grated sharp cheddar to the Mexican Mix cheese.

Bake 10 more minutes uncovered or until all the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Top with chopped fresh tomato and a few chopped green onions if desired. 

Serve with a little sour cream on the side, guacamole, and salsa.  We also had a side of home made pinto beans.  My brother ate FIVE of these enchiladas!!  I had to use a Food Network photo that looked close to what mine did, because the family was ready to dig in.

I hope you will try these when you want an easy, quick, but yummy meal.

Gina


Linking to Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Cozy Little House
and Joyful Homemaking
Joyful Homemaking

Monday, June 9, 2014

Crockpot Boneless BBQ Ribs

Photo by Food Network

This weekend we were in the mood for BBQ, but with the humidity here being so high, it felt like close to 100 degrees even though it was only 92.  I couldn't face the hot grill outside, so got out my trusty crockpot instead.

I had forgotten to check the pound size on the package, but it contained twelve boneless beef ribs.
I seasoned them with a Rib Mix seasoning I had on had.  There are many versions in the grocery stores, so there is no guessing or having to have many spices on hand.  The brand I used is local, and called Fiesta band.

I then placed them in the crock pot in a single layer.  Added on top of the meat one medium chopped onion, a crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper.  The last item is just a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.  I made my own, since we eat sugar free.  Spread it over the meat and put the lid on.

Set the slow cooker to low and cook 8 to 10 hours.  Mine cooked 9 hours on low.

They turned out fork tender and the two of us got two meals out of them.  I often cook enough to get an extra meal for the next night.  I also had sauce left over and will freeze it for the next time I make ribs. 

Have a great Monday!


Gina

Linking to Between Naps on the Porch's Met Monday and Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House.
Between Naps on the Porch
Cozy Little House
 Joyful Homemaking

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Asking for Prayers

I'd like to ask that any of you that may be out there reading send some prayers my way for my sweet dog Rocky.  He is the one laying in front of the fireplace in the photos.  He has had arthritis for a couple of years, but has some other issues now.  He sleeps almost all of the time, has a hard time walking not only from the arthritis, but everything is a great effort for him now.  He was a rescue I found on the street.  After seeing  him for three weeks, I finally got him to come to me for food.  He slept for two days straight and has lived in our home ever since.  That was in 2005.  We don't know how old he was when taken in, but the vet guessed about seven.  He has been a joy.  He is funny, smart and gets along well with our other dog and kitties.  All we can do now is make him comfortable.   I've had many dogs and kitties in my life and it never gets easier to see one age and eventually pass on.  I know all the animal lovers understand he is my baby.  There have been rough days and better ones recently.  Yesterday was pretty good.  Today, not so much. 

Thanks to any one reading.

Gina

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Favorite Stamping Website

I wanted to do a quick post to mention a favorite art stamping website that I have followed for years.
Jennifer McGuire Ink is written by the very talented Jennifer McGuire.   She has great tutorials, card samples and videos.  I had goofed up and mistakenly blocked the emails I was getting from her blog for a while (and a few other blogs I subscribe to by email).  When I corrected my mistake and started getting the blog posts in my email again, I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading her posts and watching her videos.  Many stampers probably know about her very popular site, but for any one that doesn't, you are in for a treat.  The rising cost of greeting cards is so crazy now, that I need to get back to making my own.  I have also used her idea for making some card sets as gifts and did so two years ago at Christmas.  They were very well received.  When I was working outside the home for so many years, having cards and the gift sets set aside were life savers for co-worker gifts.

See you soon,
Gina