hypercello

A glimpse into my life

Why didn’t anyone tell me?

grilling our hobo stew and corn on the cob

Why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome it is to grill out?  I have absolutely fallen in love with grilling out.  What started as a way to not heat up our house during the heat wave has turned into (as my husband would probably say) an obsession.  My gamma had a grill that hasn’t been touched in many years, so she told us to take it.  All it needed was a little TLC (and lots of elbow grease) to get it looking brand new!  I wish I had grabbed it last year when we moved into this house.  We’ve used it each weekend now (I’d be using it every night, but it’s hard to grill and watch the little one).  So far I’ve made:

  • burgers (of course), with seasoned salt and minced garlic mixed in
  • quartered a chicken (first time ever!) and used the Trinidad Lemon Garlic Marinade from the Spice House (leftovers were turned into a very tasty chicken salad for lunches)
  • corn on the cob (only caught one on fire since I didn’t keep re-wetting the husks)
  • Hobo Stew (as we called it growing up)–burger, carrots, onions, potatoes, whatever else you want tossed in a foil packet
  • sliced potatoes, with butter and Grippo’s Bar-B-Q seasoning in a foil packet
  • baby carrots with honey and brown sugar in a foil packet

yummy hobo stew and corn on the cob

Tonight we’re making hot sausages with green beans, and tomorrow night we’re going to try to cook pizzas.  I’ve heard peaches are good on it, so I might toss a few of those on, too.

What are your favorite things to grill out?

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Yummy…

Nothing makes a dinner even better than some homemade hamburger buns.  I made them slider-size (well, closer to it) to go with some lentil sloppy joes.  They really made the meal, and were much tastier than the ones I could have bought at the store (and a lot cheaper!).

I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour for the buns.  I also forgot to butter one pan of buns before they went into the oven, hence the few that are a lot lighter.  🙂

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Au Gratin Potatoes

I tried the Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham from A Modern Christian Woman‘s blog.  The first pan was so big we were eating on them for a week.  So this time, I tweaked them to be smaller and fit what we had on hand, and they turned out delicious, so I thought I’d share my version of them.  Make sure you check her’s out too!  Wonderful!  We enjoyed the potatoes with some polish sausage, and a nice salad.  Great dinner (and very cheap, too!).

Au Gratin Potatoes

For the cheese sauce:
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4- 1/2 tsp. (or more to taste, I’m not sure how much I put in–kept sprinkling it it) cayenne pepper
1/2- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheese (we’ve done it with cheddar and colby)

For the potaotes:
4-5 potaotes, sliced thin (we peeled them the second time we made it)
1/4- 1/2 pound polish sausage, cubed
1/2- 1 small onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced (depends on your taste)
1/2- 1 cup shredded cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and spray a square 9″ glass casserole dish with cooking spray (or use butter).
  2. In a medium saucepan,  melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Add the milk, mustard, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Whisk occasionally until it starts to boil and get thicker (I prep the potato ingredients during this time, and only have the heat on medium).  Take the sauce off the heat, and add the 1 cup cheese, stirring until it’s melted.
  3. Place half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, and top with half of the sausage, onion, garlic, and cheese sauce.  Repeat the layers one more time, and top with the 1/2- 1 cup shredded cheese.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly.  Enjoy!

A few tips:

  • After you slice the potatoes, keep them in a water bath–this prevents them from changing color.
  • Mix the onions and garlic together–makes it easier to evenly spread the garlic in the dish.
  • Play with the spices to get them to your liking.  Taste the sauce before adding the cheese.  When you think you have it just right, add just a little more to it (since it has to coat all the potatoes).
  • It seems to take me about 45 minutes to prep everything and get the sauce made–make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make it.

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Black bean and corn salad

With summer approaching (and the threat of higher temperatures), I’ve been making more dishes that don’t require cooking.  One of my favorite ones to make (and munch on all week) is black bean and corn salad.  It’s awesome on my tortillas (as I’ve shared before), great with tortilla chips, awesome on its own, wonderful on crackers…the list is endless.  I never seem to make it the same way twice–it all depends on what I have on hand.  I hope you enjoy it as we do!

Black bean and corn salad

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2-2 cups black beans you cook yourself)
  • 2 cups frozen corn (you do not need to cook the corn)
  • 1-2 jalapenos, (mostly) seeded and diced
  • 1/2-1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2-1 small onion (I love using a red onion, but have used whatever I have on hand)
  • juice of 1 lime (have used lemon juice before)
  • fresh cilantro (I usually use a handful), chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp cumin (also have used chili powder instead)
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  1. Combine black beans, corn, onion, green pepper, jalapenos, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, and cumin to make the dressing (a trick I learned to get more juice out of the lime is to roll it around on the counter top while applying pressure to it.  Gets it nice and juicy!).
  3. Add the dressing to the salad, mix well, and chill for a few hours.
  4. Right before serving, add the tomatoes and mix well.
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Homemade tortillas

I’ve really been enjoying making my own tortillas the past few weeks.  I love the way they taste, and they are much cheaper than the ones you can buy in the store (even though mine still aren’t round at all, but that’s just a work in progress).  This is the recipe I use–don’t remember where I picked it up from, but I’ve adjusted it a bit from how I first made them.


Homem
ade Tortillas (12-14 nine inch ones)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work area
1/16 tsp baking powder (I know, such a small amount)
1/4 c butter, softened
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c warm water

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Using your hands, mix the butter in until it resembles a course cornmeal consistency.
  3. Slowly pour the water in while mixing until a soft dough is formed (I don’t always use all the water).  My dough always stays a bit sticky at this point.
  4. Set the dough on a lightly floured surface, and turn the bowl over it.  Let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into about 12 pieces.  Roll the dough as thinly as possible, making round tortillas.
  6. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Once it’s hot (I test by sprinkling water on it), put a tortilla on it, and cook it for 15-30 seconds on each side.  You know it’s done when bubbles form and it’s lightly browned.

These stay good in the fridge for up to a week (we haven’t tried freezing them yet–they don’t last that long around here!).  Enjoy!
What do you enjoy on your tortillas?  I’m always looking for new things to try.

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Homemade laundry detergent

I finally took the plunge and made my own laundry detergent.  I’ve wanted to try it for quite a few years now, and finally decided that now was the time.  After checking out a few recipes online, I finally settled on making one almost identical to the one on the Duggar’s website.  I’m really hoping this detergent works well, especially with our cloth diapers (it seems we run through quite a bit of detergent washing them).

Homemade Laundry Detergent
(32-64 loads, depending on amount used)

1 bar Fels-Naptha soap (I found it in with the laundry detergents)

1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1/2 cup Borax

1 cup laundry detergent

  1. Grate the bar of soap.
  2. Put the grated soap into the food processor and mix until it’s finer pieces.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Store in an air-tight container.

To use:  start the washer with HOT water (to make sure all the soap melts)–you can switch to cold after the soap is melted.  Use 1 tablespoon-2 tablespoons detergent.

Breakdown of the cost of making this:

  • Fels-Naptha soap–$1.04/bar
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda–$3.29/box, and I’ll get about 6 uses per box, which makes it $.55/batch
  • Borax–$3.49/box, and I’ll get about 21 uses per box, which makes it $.17/batch
  • Detergent–$5.99/box, and I’ll get about 15 uses per box, which makes it $.40/batch

So, it costs $2.16 per batch, and $.03 per tablespoon.  Really looking forward to seeing how this works out–look for an update in a few weeks!

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Having fun cooking

I absolutely love to cook.  I love to bake, too.  I really feel that it costs less to cook from scratch, and it tastes better too (and it’s healthier).  One of my favorite things to make is soup.  You can (almost) never mess up a soup.  Tonight I had a little ground turkey sitting in the fridge, so I made a taco soup out of it.  At one time I probably followed a recipe for it, but now I just wing it with what I have on hand.  Here’s how I made it tonight.

Taco Soup (2-3 servings)

  • 1/2 pound ground meat
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 can black beans (can use kidney beans, too)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with chilies
  • 1/2-1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2-1 packet taco seasoning (I use some that I get from The Spice House)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (more or less to taste)
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth (I always have some in the freezer)
  1. Brown the meat with the onion and celery.
  2. Dump everything into a pot (including the juices from the tomatoes and the beans).
  3. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Garnish with shredded cheese.
Another thing I made tonight is maple butter.  I made this one other time, and I think it disappeared within 12 hours–it’s that good.
Maple Butter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  1. Mix the maple syrup and butter together, using a food processor or a hand mixer.
  2. Enjoy on saltine crackers, toast, pancakes, etc.
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