How to Clean a Mattress

When washing my stepson’s bedding I decided to try two mattress cleaning techniques I found thanks to my addiction to Pinterest. The first technique will remove stains from the mattress surface and the second technique will make your mattress smell fresh while you vacuum away dust mites.

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To remove stains I mixed 1/2 c. laundry detergent with 2 T. of water with a fork in a small container. I then decided to use my old kitchen sponge to help me remove the stain. Just in case there was anything gross like bacteria on the sponge I zapped it in the microwave for 2 minutes before using it and replaced my kitchen sponge with a new one. (Maybe it’s sad but I love a brand new sponge.) I then applied some of the foamy bubble mixture to any visible stains on my stepson’s mattress using my sponge. I went back over each spot using a toothbrush in a circular motion until I could no longer see the stain. Then I used and old hand towel to dab up any dampness found on the mattress. While the mattress air dried, I moved on to the second technique to deodorize the mattress and rid it of dust mites.

I mixed 1 cup of baking soda with 5 drops of lemon essential oil in a container. If you are willing to pay more for the lavender essential oil I would recommend it over lemon simply because the aromatherapy quality of lulling you to sleep. I poured the baking soda mixture through the strainer as I walked around the mattress to apply a dusting over the top. I was working on a queen size bed and by moving quickly around the mattress I had just enough baking soda to cover the entire mattress. I then took a break for an hour while the baking soda did its thing. When the hour was up I came back with my vacuum, upholstery attachment in place, and vacuumed the mattress surface. The mattress smells so fresh it would be hard not to get an amazing nights rest.

I also got help from my stepson putting the sheets back on the bed but I can’t guarantee those results. He’s just the best little helper anyone could ask for. The best part was watching how easily he slipped off to sleep tonight and I’d like to think it had something to do with cleaning his mattress.

Apple Pork Chop Casserole

I found this recipe from the Gooseberry Patch. With so few ingredients I had to try it.

What you will need:

  • 1 T. oil
  • 8 boneless pork chops
  • 2-6 oz. pkgs. herb-flavored stuffing mix (I just now noticed this recipe called for two boxes. I’ve been using one and it’s been fine. I also use the chicken flavored stuffing mix not the herb flavored.)
  • 2-21oz. cans apple pie filling (I also just noticed the recipe calls for two cans of apple pie filling. I have been using one but two would cover the bottom of the pan better. Also, I do not suggest an apple pie filling sweetened with Splenda. I use Splenda for tea, etc. but it changed the flavor of the pie filling when it was sweetened with Splenda and not for the better.)

In a skillet heat oil over medium-high heat and preheat the oven for 325 degrees. Once the oil is heated brown the pork chops on both sides.

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While the pork chops are browning prepare the stuffing mix according to package directions. I made mine using the microwave option.

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Below is a picture after the stuffing comes out of the microwave and has been fluffed with a fork. Perfect.

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Lightly spray the bottom of a 13″x9″ baking pan with cooking spray and then evenly spread the apple pie filling to cover the bottom of the pan.

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Layer the browned pork chops on top of the apples.

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Finally, layer the stuffing on top of the browned pork chops and put in the oven until pork chops are cooked through approximately 45-60 minutes depending on how thick the pork chops are.

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The flavors of the ingredients have now gotten a chance to mix with one another, the pork chops are done, and the stuffing is browned. Yum!

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Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit Muffins

I found this recipe on Cooking with My Kid‘s website. It’s very simple to make and my husband and stepson both enjoy them. The best part is I can make them up and freeze them and on a day I don’t feel like cooking breakfast at least my husband can pop a few frozen muffins in the microwave.

You will need:

  • 1 pkg. biscuit dough (10 biscuits)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 T. milk
  • 1/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices of bacon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the bacon until almost done, cool, and chop. Beat the eggs and milk together adding salt and pepper to taste. Pop your biscuits out of the container and roll each one out so they are bigger than the circumference of each well in the muffin tin. Place one biscuit round in each muffin well. You can gently press each into place or use the tool pictured below meant for tarts to ease the biscuit into the muffin wells.

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Evenly distribute the cheese in each biscuit. Then add egg mixture making sure not to fill more than halfway or there will be overflowing egg. Trust me, I am speaking from experience that burning egg in the bottom of the oven stinks. Finally, top with bacon distributing evenly among biscuits.

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I always have leftover egg mixture with this recipe. I usually just cook it in an empty muffin well and serve to my dogs as a treat. No matter what you do with the excess egg be sure to save your nose and place a cookie sheet under your muffin pan just in case there is a spill.

Here is the finished product cooling on a rack.

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I labeled a gallon sized bag and was able to fit about nine biscuits to a bag. On this day I tripled the recipe and made 30 muffins and froze them. No processed breakfast food for my guys.

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Be sure to check out the healthier turkey bacon and veggie options at the Cooking with My Kid website.

Quick Tacos

My stepson always eats these tacos up like he has been starving for a week. Needless to say I make them a lot and who wouldn’t when it’s so easy.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 8 soft tortilla shells
  • mild Pace Picante Sauce
  • chopped lettuce
  • chopped tomato
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream

Brown the hamburger meat and drain off the fat. Return hamburger to the pan and pour picante sauce over the hamburger until coated. You can use more or less according to your own taste. Heat the tortilla shells by wrapping in a damp paper towel and placing on a microwave safe plate in the microwave for 30 seconds. I usually serve two tacos per family member. Place two tortilla shells on a plate. Spoon some hamburger meat into each shell. Top with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and finally sour cream. Enjoy.

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Sweet potato chips

I found a recipe for baked sweet potato chips and decided to try out my Ultimate Mandoline from the Pampered Chef. I bought 4 sweet potatoes which was more than the recipe called for but I knew I wanted to make enough to serve as a side and hopefully have some leftovers. I successfully mastered the mandoline and even let my stepson try making a few passes with my hand holding his and guiding him the entire time. When I was done I had a large container full of thin, evenly sliced sweet potato rounds but I wasn’t ready to bake them Friday night so I put a lid on the container and popped them in the fridge for Saturday.

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Saturday night I pulled out my container of ready sliced sweet potato rounds and cooked them according to the recipe I found.

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The chips were different. I was delighted my stepson’s initial reaction was he liked them but that faded quickly. Though the slices were uniform in thickness, there was some inconsistency once they were baked. Some would be too brown with an undisireable taste, some would have just a bit of brown which was somewhat of a roasted marshmallow taste, and some would still have a soft center.

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My husband and I concluded they weren’t bad but they weren’t really good either. It also took about one cookie sheet’s worth of sweet potato chips to serve as a good size side to our hotdogs on Saturday. I put the remainder of the rounds in the fridge for Sunday.

Realizing I needed to finish cooking my presliced sweet potatoes today (Sunday) I decided to use the deep fat fryer. I have had my deep fat fryer for 15 years or so and never used it and also lost my directions for it. I didn’t let that stop me. I filled my deep fat fryer to the minimum level with vegetable oil and plugged my unit in. I let the oil heat until the light on the outside went off. Placing no more than two layers of chips deep in the fryer basket, I lowered the sweet potato rounds into the oil. Once they started to brown (approximately 3 minutes) I pulled the basket up and shook off the excess oil and then emptied the chips out onto a folded towel on top of a plate. I then sprinkled with sea salt and repeated the steps for the remainder of my cut sweet potatoes.

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I know frying is not healthy when compared to baking but these chips had the crisp and concistency I wanted. Both my husband and stepson enjoyed them. Best of all they are cheaper than store bought chips and I was happy we were all getting the added benefits from the sweet potatoes. I even had enough chips left over to put in a labeled gallon size bag.

Special Moments Call for Jam

Today my husband and I enjoyed our lunch out. Not long after we sat down and ordered, an older couple came in and sat down next to our table. My husband leaned over to me and asked, “Are you looking at your future right there?” I smiled at the thought and then said, “I thought you said you wouldn’t be around that long.” He said, “No, I was talking about you and your next husband.” Then we both enjoyed a laugh.

A waitress came over to take the older couples order. The man almost yelled to his wife, “Are you ready to order?” They each placed their orders as I tried to appear like I was minding my own business but I was fascinated in the idea of looking at my possible future with my husband. They were so cute as they were making idle chit chat about jam. The old man asked his wife, “Does strawberry jam have seeds?” As the woman responded, “Um, yes.” The man gave her a grin as he said, “Yes, yes, strawberry jam does have seeds but peach jam. Peach jam doesn’t have seeds.” They both began to laugh. Maybe it was an inside joke, maybe at their age they had run out of things to talk about but still tried and laughed at their efforts, or maybe the joke was on me for not minding my own business but it was adorable.

I had paid attention to their orders. They both ordered breakfast only selecting two things from the side menu each. The man said something about pancakes and the woman said she debated about getting that but what she ordered was cheaper. Just then the man spotted a dime in the corner of the room closest to his wife and mentioned it to her. After a moment he got up and picked up the dime. When he sat back down he pulled out a bottle of hand sanitizer and they both cleaned their hands. As he happily exclaims to his wife, “I come prepared! I even brought my tea”

If my husband had tried to talk to me at lunch I hadn’t noticed as I was obviously being nosey elsewhere. I got an idea in my head and with each bite, anxiously waited for my husband to finish his lunch so we could leave before the older couple. I don’t know why I felt the urge but I quietly paid for their breakfast. I guess I was just touched by how sweet they were and how new their love seemed even as an older couple. I hope it caught them by surprise and gave them something to talk about the next time they sit down together and if my husband and I should run out of things to say to one another, we will always have jam.

Cheater’s Chicken Parmesan

I never thought it would be true, but I really do love to cook and bake. Trying to make new things is so exciting! However, sometimes after a long day at work I am just wore out. Here is a recipe for the days you don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to eat out.

What you will need:

  • frozen breaded chicken tenders
  • red pasta sauce (I use Prego)
  • pasta (I would recommend spaghetti though I used Rotini)
  • sliced mozzarella

Cook the breaded chicken tenders in the oven as directed on the packaging. (Cheat by using a microwave if the chicken tenders packaging says you can. It’s okay, I’ll close my eyes.) Boil the pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add enough pasta sauce to cover cooked pasta as desired.

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Once chicken is cooked, pour pasta sauce over each chicken tender and then place mozzarella slices on top (I tore my slices in half to fit the chicken tender better) and bake for 5 more minutes or until mozzarella has melted.

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As you can see I sliced the chicken tender before plating. Your pasta sauce and chicken tender choice will determine the overall flavors in this dish so choose wisely. Serve with a small salad and this is a quick delicious week night meal.

A Break from Spaghetti

The first time I made this dish it was an instant hit especially since I make spaghetti often and we needed a little change.

What you will need:

  • Mild Italian Sausage (I use Johnsonville brand)
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  • Red Pasta Sauce (I use Prego Traditional)

If you can find sausage packed like hamburger buy that. Otherwise, carefully slit the casing of your mild sausage with a knife and remove the sausage meat. Brown the sausage in a pan breaking it up into smaller pieces as it cooks. Pour the grease off the sausage and return to low heat. Meanwhile, start a pot of water boiling. Add the pasta and cook as directed on the packaging or until done. Your pasta will be limp but not mushy. As your pasta cooks add your pasta sauce to the sausage. My personal preference is to only use enough sauce to coat the sausage but feel free to use as much as you desire. Strain the water off the pasta once done. Plate by spooning some pasta into your dish first and then layer the sausage red sauce on top. Some of you may cringe at what I’m about to say but…top with butter and grated Parmesan cheese. I have been eating spaghetti this way since I was a kid and I can’t imagine a red sauce pasta dish without it now.

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Obviously you could make a different pasta choice but I really like the texture of the Fusilli pasta and think its worth a try especially when you are trying to make a break from spaghetti.

Oh crepe!

About 14 years ago my mom gave me an Oster Crepe Maker. She bought it at a yard sale for $3.00 and can be seen to the right in the picture below.

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I have carried this small appliance around with me for several moves and never gave it a try. Then one evening as I was browsing through Pinterest I came across a crepe recipe. I was filled with excitement to try something new and remembered I actually had a crepe maker. I had no instructions and didn’t know where to start. I searched Amazon.com where I found crepe makers for sale and then on to YouTube where I saw a man making a crepe at a creperie. Talk about talent but my tool was different. I realized that my crepe maker was meant to be dipped into a dish of batter. Just then I started to hear complaints from both my husband and my stepson about how bored they were so in the spur of the moment I decided I would make crepes but I didn’t let them in on it. We ran to the store and bought bananas, strawberries, Nutella, Reddi-wip and bread. They were so confused that it made it that much more fun for me not to tell them what I was up to. By the way, the bread was just for sandwiches the next day.

When we got home I made up the batter in no time and nervously got ready to try making my first ever crepe. It turned out looking like Swiss cheese as it was filled with holes. My next few attempts gave me some trouble too until I finally had the hang of it. By this time, I had a mini audience as my husband and stepson had come to watch me. Once I used up all my batter I had a plate full of crepes that I had folded in half and then folded in half once more. Everyone took turns topping their crepes as they liked. Yes, we all enjoyed more than one.

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Pictured above is a crepe topped with banana, strawberries, Nutella, and Reddi-wip.

Now, I can imagine no more delicious thing than a crepe. I closed my eyes while eating a bite and for a moment it was like I transcended to another place. I imagined this must be what heaven is like. Perhaps that is why February 2nd is known as the day of crepes in France and has some religious ties as you can read more about in A Woman’s Paris blog and also Wikipedia.

My love affair with crepes is far from over as I now have a Pinterest board dedicated to pins for new crepe recipes.

Everything Turkey Sandwich

This sandwich is by far one of my favorites and why shouldn’t it be? It’s made of my favorite kind of bread, grilled like a grilled cheese, filled with my favorite type of deli meat and best of all spread with cream cheese.

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What you will need:

  • a loaf of everything bread (I bought mine from Walmart)
  • turkey deli meat
  • butter
  • cream cheese

You will need two slices about 3/4″ thick of everything bread for each sandwich. I recommend only cutting as much as you plan to use. Butter one side of each slice. Spread the other side of each slice with cream cheese. Place 2-3 slices of turkey deli meat on one of the cream cheese spread sides and then place the other slice of everything bread cream cheese side down on the turkey to make the sandwich. Place the sandwich in a pan heated to a medium-high heat until browned on each side. Eat and enjoy.

This is not the healthiest sandwich and my husband still refuses to try it. However, I believe if you like the ingredients, you will love this sandwich.