Archives for February 2013

The Best Homemade Sweet Tea Recipe

The Best Homemade Sweet Tea

Do you watch Duck Dynasty? Tonight is the premier of season 3!

My favorite character to watch is Uncle Si. Uncle Si is a sweet tea fanatic. He carries it with him wherever he goes.

Now, I was raised by a Southern woman, and she always has a glass of iced tea with her. One of my favorite memories is of my daughter, at age three, pointing to a glass of tea and saying, “Isn’t that Grandma Joan’s? She’s gonna want that.” By three years old she already knew: to know my mom is to know that she loves tea.

Maybe that is why I’m obsessed with knowing what sweet tea Uncle Si drinks. In fact, for months I’ve been tweeting Uncle Si in hopes that he would share his sweet tea recipe with me.

Duck Dynasty Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea Recipe
Si Robertson Sweet Tea

Unfortunately, Uncle Si has never responded. I’m left only imagining what is in that plastic cup and jug he carries.

And actually, I probably don’t really want to know. What if he buys that high fructose corn syrup overly sweetened junk with added caramel coloring and something called “gum acacia”?

My heart would break. I like to think of him drinking a traditional glass of classic homemade sweet tea. Preferably lovingly made by Kay.

Tonight is the premiere of Duck Dynasty, and if you watch, you know you need to have a glass of sweet tea ready. And since Uncle Si hasn’t shared his recipe, I’m going to share mine! 

The Best Homemade Sweet Tea Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons honey
  • 4 cups ice

Instructions

  1. Pour boiling water into a large, heat-proof pitcher.
  2. Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons of honey - or to taste. Stir until honey dissolves.
  3. Add the tea bags. Allow to steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and make certain to press out all tea.
  4. Add ice to pitcher. Allow ice to cool tea, then serve.
http://naturalgreenmom.com/the-best-homemade-sweet-tea-recipe/

It really is that simple to make the best homemade sweet tea.  So mix up a pitcher and enjoy!

Preparing Eggplant Before you Cook It

Prepping eggplant before you cook it will help get rid of any bitter taste. If you thought you didn't like eggplant, this might be the trick to change your mind!

Do you know how to prep your eggplant before you cook it?

There are two main reasons why you’ll want to prep your eggplant before you cook it:

  1. Larger eggplants can be bitter. By prepping the eggplant, you remove part of the water, which will make it less bitter.
  2. When you drain out some of the extra water, the eggplant will absorb less oil when you cook it.

If you are someone who thinks you don’t like eggplant, give this extra step a try. You do need to plan ahead because this step will add about 45 minutes to your cook time. However, most of that time the eggplant is draining, so you can move on to the rest of your food prep.

Preparing Eggplant: 

  1. Slice off the stem end.
  2. Peel and cut your eggplant per your recipe’s directions.
  3. Place the eggplant in a colander.
  4. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt.
  5. Set colander over a plate and allow to drain 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Rinse eggplant under cool water.
  7. Dry eggplant completely.
  8. Your eggplant is now ready for your recipe!

This extra step may seem unnecessary, but if your eggplant is past peak ripeness, it is the best way to get the most delicious taste out of your eggplant.

For those of you who learn better by watching, I’ve made a video on How to Easily Prepare Eggplant

Once you’ve prepped your eggplant, I’ve got some great grilled eggplant suggestions!

Preparing Eggplant

Slow Cooker Eggplant Parm Recipe

Slow Cooker Eggplant Parm

This recipe combines two of my favorite things: my slow cooker and Eggplant Parm.

While it does use the slow cooker, it is still labor intensive. First you have to Prepare Your Eggplant for Cooking. Then, you need to fry up the eggplant.

The slow cooker is used simply to meld all the flavors together and to get the dish hot.

However, it is the perfect recipe to make up on a weeknight when you have to shuttle the kiddos around and need a hot, satisfying meal when you get home.

Or, head out to a matinee on a Saturday. Then, return home and dinner will be cooked. How relaxing does that sound? Plus, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to make Eggplant Parm in the slow cooker than it is to go to a restaurant! In fact, this recipe only costs about $10 to make. You can’t even get fast food for a family of four for that!

Here’s how to make Eggplant Parm in the Slow Cooker:

Slow Cooker Eggplant Parm Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 large, firm eggplants, peeled, sliced and prepped
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 16 ounce block mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, water and flour.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Carefully dip eggplant into egg mixture then add to the hot oil. Fry just until golden. Remove and allow to drain on paper towels.
  4. Place 2/3 cup of marinara sauce in bottom of slow cooker. Layer with 1/3 of eggplant slices. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup bread crumbs. Layer with 1/3 of the mozzarella slices. Repeat 2 more times, starting with another 2/3 cup marinara sauce. Pour the remaining sauce around the edges and over the top of the eggplant slices. Top with the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.
http://naturalgreenmom.com/slow-cooker-eggplant-parm-recipe/

All you need is a nice green salad to accompany this Eggplant Parm and you have a healthy and satisfying dinner that cooked while you were away.

Homemade Russian Tea Recipe {Hold the Powdered Mix!}

Homemade Russian Tea Recipe made without powdered mixes.

Have you ever had the Russian Tea that is made from Tang and Country Time?

It was a favorite of mine growing up. I particularly loved it when I was given a cup of hot water and a spoon. I would heap in the mix until I had a tangy, sugary “tea”.

Oh gosh. Do you remember Tang?

Astronauts drank Tang.

That made us feel like we should drink Tang.

We never thought about the reason why astronauts drank Tang. They had to drink Tang!

We don’t.

Here on Earth we can drink freshly squeezed orange juice. So much more delicious than a powdered mix.

Nowadays I shudder at how much sugar I consumed.

Since having kids, I’ve tried to replace processed foods with whole foods. But I didn’t want them to miss out on Russian Tea since it reminded me of my childhood.

All the flavor of that nasty mix can be found in this homemade Russian tea recipe. But it’s made with whole food ingredients – no powdered mixes.

Make up a batch of this homemade Russian Tea, and you’ll find you get all the flavor with out any of the chemicals.

Homemade Tea Recipe: Russian Tea {Hold the Powdered Mix!}

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (approx 2 oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (may substitute sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 4" cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 4 black tea bags

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the 4 cups of hot water, lemon juice, orange juice, honey, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Allow to steep 3 minutes.
  3. Pour through a strainer into 4 tea cups. Enjoy!
http://naturalgreenmom.com/homemade-russian-tea-recipe-hold-the-powdered-mix/

I suggest serving this on your next snowy day. Curl up with a good book and enjoy!

Homemade Russian Tea Recipe

By the way, did you know you can reuse your cinnamon sticks?

Do you remember Russian Tea?

The Best Laundry Tip: Never Shrink a Line Dry Item Again!

The Best Laudry Tip

This is simply the best laundry tip. It is so simple and yet so helpful! In fact, I’d call it life changing. Life altering really.  Here’s why:

In our family everyone is expected to help with the laundry. Husbands, daughters, me. We are all responsible for helping with the laundry.

What this looks like in our family: I may put a load in, then yell at kindly ask one of the girls to please switch the load over to the dryer. But since the girls didn’t start the load, they have no idea whether there are line dry items that need to be taken out and hung up.

Or maybe you are doing all the laundry in the house, yet you are distracted thanks to the dishes, the kiddos and possibly Dr. Phil.

Does this sound familiar?

The result of this has been many things have been dried and subsequently shrunk.

Here’s the life altering laundry tip:

  • Keep a dry eraser on top of the washing machine. Write on top what items are in the wash that need to be taken out and line dried so everyone {yourself included} remembers to look for that item before stuffing everything in the drier.

What do you think? Helpful? Will you be trying this?

This idea was originally pinned by A Few Short Cuts. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to organizing! Are you following it?

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series. It’s all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try then share!

Costco Gift Cards: 5 Ways This Discount Pays

Costco Discount Gift Cards

Did you know you can buy discounted gift cards at Costco? Why pay the full amount for a gift card when you can purchase them for less than face value?

Here’s are five reasons why you’ll want to take advantage of the discounts on gift cards at Costco:

#1 It is Free Money

The face value of the gift card is MORE than what you will pay. That translates into FREE money for you to spend. When is the last time you instantly made 20% off your investment?

#2 Save on Vacation Expenses

Restaurants, attractions and lodging – Costco has discounted gift cards for all of these! At up to 20% off, your next vacation won’t break the bank.

#3 Look Generous (But Save Big!)

Uh huh. I said it. Buy gift cards at 20% off, then give them as gifts and the recipients will think you are more generous than you really are. Where’s the harm in that? Surprise teachers, co-workers, and in-laws with a gift card this year that actually saved you money. I see that as a win-win.

#4 Stretch Your Holiday Budget

The holidays are the time of year when most of us are strapped for any extra spending money. Buying gift cards for 20% off can be a great way to get those holiday gifts you know your family and friends will love, but your budget can actually afford.

#5 Double Your Savings

Gift cards spend like cash. Therefore, you may be able to combine them with other specials and coupons.

The next time you are in Costco, check out the selection of gift cards they offer at up to 20% off. Didn’t find what you were looking for? You’ll find more Costco gift cards online.

Whole Foods Bulk Bin Price List 2013

Whole Foods Bulk Bin Pricing

Do you shop the bulk bins at Whole Foods? How do you know if you are saving when you purchase in bulk? I’ve made a price list from my Whole Foods so I can spot a bargain. I’m sharing those prices with you here.

You can find the printer button at the bottom of this post:

Printer Button

Print this price list, or Pin it or Google + it so you can price compare at your Whole Foods. This price list is not inclusive of all bulk bin prices. I’ve noted the prices on whole food pantry staples.

ORGANIC GRAINS

Whole Wheat Couscous $2.69/lb

Sprouted Quinoa $6.99/lb

Royal Red Quinoa $6.99/lb

Yellow Popcorn $1.49/lb

Barley $1.69/lb

Bulgur $1.99/lb

ORGANIC BEANS, LENTILS AND PEAS

Adzuki Beans $2.49/lb

Black Beans $1.79/lb

Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans0 $2.39/lb

Garbanzo Beans $2.19/lb

French Green Lentils $2.39/lb

Large Green Lentils $1.99/lb

Red Split Lentils $2.39/lb

Green Split Peas $1.69/lb

Yellow Split Peas $1.19/lb

Pinto Beans $1.99/lb

Soybeans $1.99/lb

ORGANIC NUTS AND NUT BUTTERS

Whole Almonds $5.99/lb

Whole Cashews $8.99/lb

Walnut Halves $8.99/lb

Pecan Halves $12.99/lb

Pine Nuts $19.99/lb

Valencia Peanuts (Dry Roasted, Unsalted) $5.39/lb

Unsalted Creamy Peanut Butter $5.99/lb

Unsalted Crunchy Peanut Butter $5.99/lb

ORGANIC SEEDS

Black Chia Seeds (Raw) $11.99/lb

Hemp Seeds (Raw) $18.99/lb

ORGANIC RICE

Arborio Rice $4.69/lb

White Basmati $2.99/lb

Brown Basmati $2.69/lb

ORGANIC SWEETNERS

Maple Syrup Grade B $12.99/lb

Maple Syrup Grade A $11.99/lb

Agave Nectar $3.69/lb

Honey $3.99/lb

Be sure to check out my Tips on How to Save on Whole Foods Market Groceries