Friday, May 24, 2013

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 tsp kosher salt

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add onion and saute until starting to brown on the edges, about 5 minutes.
 Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin.
Cook for an additional minute to toast the spices.
Add in the tomato sauce, as well as the chicken broth(or water). Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, and pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl.

Season sauce to taste with salt and black pepper before using.

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in freezer for up to 3 months.

I quadrupled the recipe and froze 3 batches (in 2 cup portions) for later use.

This sauce is delicious in the Black Bean and Quinoa Enchiladas. Mix one cup into the filling and pour one cup over rolled enchiladas before topping with cheese and baking.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Naturally Homemade Peppermint Patties

I'm getting more and more grossed out and concerned by all the those chemicals and artificial ingredients that are found in many foods these days, so my family has been trying to gradually work towards more natural options - choosing foods that have limited, recognizable ingredients. I just don't understand why we need all those artificial flavors and preservatives when there are plenty of natural ways to achieve the same effects.

I came across a couple of variations on a recipe for homemade Peppermint Patties, and since that happens to be a treat that my whole family loves, I figured I'd give it a shot! Only 4 basic ingredients! Okay, truth be told here, dark chocolate chips is one of the 4 ingredients and it technically has some ingredients of it's own, but you get the point!

  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon Pure Peppermint Extract
  • 1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  1. Measure out coconut oil into a mixing bowl. I used an organic coconut oil that was available at Super Target. Honestly, I have never bought or used coconut oil before this, but I think it is fairly easy to find. Apparently, it is solid at room temperature, and has the consistency and taste of lard. Yes, I admit, my husband and I taste tested it - which I do not recommend! Just take my word for it - you'll thank me.
  2. Add honey and peppermint extract to the mixing bowl and combine until smooth. This part got a little tricky for me as the coconut oil had some stubborn lumpiness to it. I ended up using a whisk to get it smooth, but I'm sure you could also use a mixer or even a blender to complete the process also. I, personally, continued on with just a whisk, because I'm stubborn and because I can always use a good arm workout.
  3.  At this point it will be a thinner, more liquid mixture. The easiest way I have found to portion it out is to spoon the mixture into a ziploc bag, snip the corner and pipe out whatever size/shape you prefer onto a tray or cookie sheet covered in wax paper. I have tried both larger patties and smaller, and I think I prefer the smaller ones as the are easier to work with. I also try to work quickly on this step, because the longer your warm hands squish on the mixture, the more the coconut oil warms up and will be more liquidy. If necessary, you can put in the fridge for a moment before you start - just don't leave it too long or it will get to firm to squeeze out of the bag. When finished making patties, put the tray in the freezer.
  4. While the patties are firming up in the freezer, melt the chocolate chips either in the microwave or over a double boiler. I used Nestle Dark Chocolate Chips, because they only contained ingredients that I recognized and no artificial colors/flavors. You can substitute any type of melted chocolate recipe that you prefer. I'm still working on this step and will update if I come across a better plan. I have been trying to reduce refined sugars also, so the granulated sugar in the chocolate chips isn't my ideal, but for now it works and tastes quite delicious. Baby steps, right?!
  5. Remove your tray from the freezer and dip the patties into the melted, slightly cooled chocolate, then set on a tray or plate with waxed paper. When all have been coated, put the tray of candies into the refrigerator and let the chocolate re-solidify.
  6. This is VERY important, because it's a lesson I learned the hard way. Let the patties refrigerate until fully firmed up, and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. If the patties are allowed to warm up, the coconut oil will not be as solid, and you will get an oily taste/texture when you eat them. We couldn't wait, and tasted them after only having them in the fridge for about 15 minutes, and ick! I could not get that oily taste out of my mouth! We waited several hours and gave it another try, and at that point, they were quite tasty - even better the next day, so disaster averted. Whew! Now to figure out the most natural way to make the chocolate coating...any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chocolate Stout Cake (from a mix!)

I Should never listen to food shows on NPR when I am hungry.  But I do.  And on one particular Saturday morning when I heard the words "Chocolate Stout Cake" I simply could. NOT. stop. thinking about that concept.  It haunted me.  I mean, we're talking about two of my favorite things here: chocolate and stout!  Yummy!!  

Finally, I gathered together the ingredients I would need.  Being a simple kind of gal, I decided to try and create the goodness using a boxed cake mix. 
1 Devils Food Cake mix
1 Bottle Chocolate Stout (I used Bison organic)
Vegetable Oil
1 Chocolate Bar

Prepare and bake the cake according to mix directions, using the chocolate stout in place of the water called for in the mix instructions.  

Although I did briefly consider a Kahlua, Bailey's, or stout laced chocolate frosting - in the end I went with a simple chocolate frosting.  I also grated a chocolate bar and sprinkled the curls over the top. (because a little extra chocolate is always good!)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

I confess. I am an obsessive organizer! I like for everything to have a place, so I know where to find it, and also to help keep the house tidy and clutter free. Clutter and disorganization make it hard for me to relax. While I am in the process of engaging in my Spring Cleaning/Decluttering/Reorganizing binge, I figured I could share some of my organization methods with you - starting with the bathroom. It's so easy to acquire way too much clutter in a bathroom - between the hair products, shampoos, lotions, medicines and other toiletries floating around - there's a lot of room for organization!

An eyesore in many family bathrooms is the medicine cabinet. Here's a picture of how mine is currently organized:

I use an entire cabinet for my stuff, simply because it is available, but you can just as easily use any space that is open - a shelf in the hall closet or kitchen works just as well. The key is to group items, so that you don't just end up with everything all jumbled together. Use a box or basket for each category - I prefer simple, plastic baskets, but if you have limited space, lids with boxes that can be stacked might be a better option, or you might prefer more decorative/fancy baskets. Whichever container you choose, label those accordingly. **On a side note - for me a label maker is a MUST when getting organized. Makes it so much easier to locate things, especially for other family members that did not do the organizing aka your spouse and kids. However, be forewarned that inevitably they will still ask you where items are even if you label them, and often they will put things away in the incorrect place even though the labels are right there to guide them. Do I sound annoyed? LOL I honestly think sometimes my family puts items in the wrong place just to mess with me, but that's a whole other story. ;)

Back to organizing!!

I keep the following categories, but you could adjust them however you like to suit your needs:

  1. Daily Medications: allergy meds, ibuprofen, vitamins - things that are taken regularly. I keep them all in one basket, and just pull out that basket each day to grab what we need.
  2. Specialty Medications: cold medicine, nasal rinse kit, muscle pain creams - basically things that you only use on certain occasions
  3. First Aid: band-aids, antibiotic ointment, anti-itch cream, ace bandages - anything you might need for any injury
  4. Pet Medication: flea meds, heartworm preventative meds, and any others - I actually keep this in a closed container, because sometimes they have a smell to them
  5. My peroxide and witch hazel are kept separate, but some might store it with the first aid items.
  6. Last, I have my ear thermometer up next to the first aid items, but it tends to float from shelf to shelf depending on how much it is being used. I do keep the extra covers for it in the specialty medications basket.
  7. I have an additional shelf for extra toilet paper and kleenex, because this particular cabinet happens to be over the toilet.
Just an additional tip as you go through and organize your medications and supplies - realistically weed out whatever you don't need. Get rid of expired items. I admit, I just found some anti-itch cream that expired in 2010. Remember that time you bought 5 different cold medicines before you found one that worked? Okay - no need to keep the other 4. I know, I know - it hurts to get rid of stuff that you paid good money for, but either gift it out to a friend or family member that will use it, donate it, or get rid of it. Chances are, it's not going to work on your next cold either, so why keep it? You're not using it, and it is just taking up space and adding clutter to your cabinet. Enough said.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Yummy Breakfast Tostadas

I'm always on the lookout for yummy, simple and healthy breakfast ideas. I'm not a huge fan of breakfast cereals, muffins and waffles. Okay - correction - I AM a fan of those things, I just know that when I eat them I usually end up with way too much sugar and feeling blah. Plus, I've been trying to limit my gluten intake. My newest breakfast favorite is a breakfast tostada packed with protein and veggies. It's really delicious and gluten free AND the entire breakfast pictured below is a little less than 300 calories! There are many possible variations on this recipe, so feel free to change it up to suit what you like. I'll also throw in some suggestions with the recipe below!

Just a note, I usually eat breakfast after dropping the little one off at school when it's just me and a cup of hot tea at the house, so this recipe only makes one tostada, however, it is very easy to adjust it for more servings - simply add more eggs and veggies to the mix!

Breakfast Tostada

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 large egg; whites and yolk whisked together to make scrambled egg
  • 1 Tbsp Salsa
  • 1 Tbsp Diced Red Pepper
  • Sprinkle of Chili Powder
  • Sprinkle of Salt (optional)
  • Corn Tostada
  • 1/4 ripe avocado, sliced
  1. Melt butter in small skillet over medium low heat. I like butter for the flavor, but you can substitute your favorite natural cooking oil.
  2. Add whisked egg, diced red pepper and generous sprinkle of chili powder. I don't tend to measure my chili powder - just give it a good sprinkle to coat. Also, at this time, you can add other veggies too if you would like. Sometimes, if I have any leftover baked potatoes, I will diced 1/4 of one up and add that in too or some diced green pepper or tomato. You may also sprinkle a bit of salt if you like, but with the salt from the tostada it really isn't necessary.
  3. While eggs are cooking, pop the tostada in either the toaster oven or regular oven to crisp it up a bit. I sometimes skip this step and just use them straight out of the package, and to me they are still just as yum! If you're going for gluten free, just make sure to check the tostada package to make sure they haven't added any extras to them. I try to find the most simple, natural, tostadas the store offers and haven't had any trouble finding gluten free, organic, non GMO tostadas at the major stores.
  4. When eggs are almost done, add Tbsp of your favorite natural or homemade salsa. If you don't have any salsa on hand, natural or homemade taco sauce or enchilada sauce would add a nice kick also - or even simply some diced tomato if you prefer. Just a warning, if you add this before the egg is almost fully cooked, it might be a bit too watery.
  5. Pour your cooked egg skillet mixture on your tostada, top with some ripe avocado slices and enjoy! You may also drizzle with a little extra salsa or sauce if you like a little extra kick. Don't like avocado? Try a little dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of shredded cheddar. My hubby also likes to wrap this mixture in a soft tortilla (non-gluten free of course) sometimes rather than the crunchy tostada. The variations are endless! Add a little fruit on the side, and you have a delicious and filling breakfast!
  6. Each breakfast tostada prepared with the recipe above is around 275 calories each.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Personalized Dry Erase Calendar

I don't know about your household, but I know in mine we have reached that point where everyone has their own activities and appointments scheduled out, and it can get a little chaotic trying to keep track of who needs to be where at what time. I wonder how Mrs. Brady managed to keep her sanity with all those kids to keep track of? I find that keeping a calendar in a central location in the house - in our case the kitchen - provides a spot for everyone to list their schedules and also makes it possible to take a quick peek at any time and know what's on the agenda for the week. Since this calendar is going to be visible for anyone to see, why not make it pleasant to view and let it show your personality a bit?

In our house, we are big Disney fans. So much so, that I have a Mickey Mouse themed kitchen. Naturally, I felt that a cute Disney-themed calendar would be perfect for us! I could have easily just run out and bought a standard Disney calendar, but instead I thought - why not make my own and while I'm at it make it a dry erase, so it can easily be adjusted when needed?! So, I gathered some ideas from various internet sites, and here's the result:

Personalized Dry Erase Calendar

What you will need:
  • empty frame - size depends on your available space and how big you want your calendar to be
  • contact paper or wall paper
  • scrapbook paper
  • embellishments
  • white cardstock
  • printer
Let's Get Started:
  1. Remove the cardboard cutout or backing from the frame and cover it with either contact paper or wall paper. Use whatever you have available. I used some contact paper I had left over from lining my kitchen cabinets and an old frame I had lying around. You could even use fabric if you want, you'll just need to use appropriate adhesives to make sure everything gets attached properly, and remember, you can also spray paint a frame if you have one, but it is not quite the color you are wanting to use. I'm all about using what you have available rather than running out to buy something to use.
  2. This is the fun part! Decorate and personalize however you like. I did mine as if I were doing a big scrapbook page - leaving room in the center for the calendar portion. I was so excited to display some old ticket stubs we have from our trips to Disney World. They're so cute, and now when I see them on the calendar each day I smile thinking of the fun we've had. I also added a few sticker embellishments that I found at Michael's craft store with all the scrapbook stuff. You could add whatever themed items match your decor - or even use family photos and such. Have fun with it and make it yours!
  3. Next, I used this calendar template. There's a button to click to open it in Microsoft Word. Once you do, you can edit it to whichever font you like and you can remove the name of the month and the dates. Since you will be reusing this same calendar each month, you will want to write those in by hand. When your calendar is how you like it, print on white card stock, and attach it in the center.
  4. Voila! Reassemble the frame and you're all set! Now you can simply use fine tip dry erase markers to fill in your info each month. A little glass cleaner and paper towel remove it when you need to make changes or switch the calendar to the next month. So quick and easy to make, and so much cuter than a paper calendar or those plain dry erase calendars.

Colorful Monogram Door Hanging

As soon as I saw this craft on Pinterest; I immediately started envisioning different versions and knew I was going to have to make one for my front door!

I decided to go with a brightly colored summer theme. 

I used some yarn and buttons I already had in stock.  Picked up a piece of foam board at the $1 store, and 3 pieces of felt for less than 50 cents each at Michael's.  I also had the ribbon and glue sticks already in my stash.  Which makes my grand total to create this little cutie - less than $3! If you were purchasing the yarn, ribbon, and buttons also - you're probably still looking at less than $10.

Draw or trace the shape of the letter you want onto the foam board
Use an X-acto knife to cut out letter
Wrap letter with yarn (or twine).  I used a little craft glue to help hold it in place as I went along. WARNING: This is much more tedious and time consuming than you might thing..

I made felt flowers using a method I found HERE.  But you could use any flower - fabric, ribbon, crocheted, store bought, etc.  Be creative!
Lay out flowers on the letter to decide placement

Put a big blop (official crafting term) of hot glue on the back of each flower and press into place on your letter

Hold flower firmly until glue dries.
Glue ribbon onto back of letter to make a hanger.
Ta-DA!  I love my brightly colored "P" on the front door!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Natural Air Freshener

I love a great smelling house - who doesn't, right? There's nothing better than cooking something delicious in the kitchen and having the smell waft out through the entire house, and that's the idea behind this method of naturally freshening the air. It's so simple, so much better than using those commercial sprays or plug ins, and there are many different combos of scents you can use to achieve a scent that is personally appealing to you. My favorite is a citrus scent, because it just smells clean and sweet to me.

Natural Citrus Air Freshener

3-4 Oranges (any variety)

Large Saucepan or Crockpot

1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon (can also use cinnamon sticks if you have them on hand)


  • Cut up the oranges however you like (see, this is easy already!) I usually just quarter or 8th mine and toss them in the saucepan. Another note on the oranges - use whatever you have on hand. I like to use the ones that are starting to dry out a little, since I know no one is going to eat those. They still offer a great scent. You can also save orange peels and use a larger quantity of those, though I have not tried that yet - something to add to my "To Try" list.
  • Add cinnamon to the oranges. You can also use cinnamon sticks if you have them on hand. I usually don't have any around the house, so I simply use the ground cinnamon. Add any other spices you like - cloves, pumpkin pie spice, etc... Just sprinkle some in!
  • Fill saucepan with water.
  • Bring the mixture just to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer on the back burner of the stove. As it simmers, the scent will begin to permeate through your home - smelling divine! You do need to check in on the mixture every so often to make sure the water has not all boiled off. This did happen to me once, and just a warning, it results in having oranges and cinnamon burned forever on the bottom of your saucepan. If the water level is getting low, you can add more water, however, the more times you dilute with more water, obviously the result will be a milder scent. 
  • If you are worried about remembering to check on the saucepan mixture or if you want to simmer the ingredients without being home, there is also the option of using the crockpot instead. Simply put all ingredients in the crockpot and let simmer on high without the lid. I've even used the small size mini crockpot that is made for keeping dips warm, and it works also, but does not offer as strong of a scent.

You can experiment with any scent combos that you like - another favorite of mine is lemon, rosemary and a little splash of pure vanilla! Mmmmm...smells deliciously clean, natural and inviting!

Clear As Glass

I am all about the all natural homemade cleaning products lately. One might even say I have become a bit fanatical about them.  Obsessive.  I recently cleaned out my entire cleaning closet and tossed every commercial cleaning product I owned - replacing them with all natural, homemade cleaning items.

One of the first ones I created (and still one of my favorites) is my glass cleaner. I personally think it works even better than the commercial brands I have used.

I did notice some streaking the first time or two; but from what I read online this may be caused by residue left over from the chemical filled commercial brands.  I don't know if that's true or not, but after one or two uses my windows and mirrors sparkle!

Homemade Glass Cleaner
  • 1/4 cup cheap vodka (or rubbing alcohol)
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups warm water
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle.   Shake well.  Shake before using to mix any cornstarch which may have settled in bottle to avoid plugging spray mechanism.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchiladas

A delicious vegetarian meal, which is full of protein! 

Start by cooking quinoa:  Bring 2 cups water to a boil, add 1 cup quinoa.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

In a large skillet mix quinoa with 2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar and colby) and 1 can enchilada sauce.  Heat over medium until cheese melts. 

I'm sure it would be better to make your own sauce and use that, but I'm just not there yet. 

Fill soft taco size tortillas with a heaping spoon of filling. 
Roll to close.  Place in a baking dish/pan, seam side down. 
Cover with 1 can enchilada sauce and 1 cup shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

Makes approximately 12 enchiladas.
I serve with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and sour cream for toppings.  

(Black Bean and Quinoa Enchiladas was originally posted at This IS My Day Job on May 10, 2012)

A Wise Woman Once Said... Welcome!

Welcome to "A Wise Woman Once Said"!

This blog is what happens when three clever sisters (and maybe a niece or two... or three...) get together to share the tips, tricks, and lessons we are learning along life's journey.  Here, you'll find a hodge-podge of recipes, crafts, decor, style, organization, greener living, and parenting.  With the possibility for just a random thought or two along tossed in for good measure.

Sit back, grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and see what messy wisdom flows from the minds responsible for writing here. 

PLEASE be sure to follow us and subscribe to our emails! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...