Monday, November 30, 2015

Ebates--Free Money

So you guys know that occasionally I'm late to the party, right? Ebates is (in the internet's words) "a company that gives you cash back if you click through the links of the stores listed on their site." So if you're signed up with Ebates and you're buying something online (and aren't we all at this time of year), they will give you cash back for the stuff you buy.

(You can sign up through this link. If you do, I get bonus free money for referring a friend. Once signed up, you can do this too. Here's the link.

When I signed up I went to and bought a cooking pot, which I needed because the bottom of mine looks like cancer just waiting to happen. And they gave me 6% back. When I went to Sephora and bought some make up, which I was going to buy anyway, they gave me 4% back. People, it's free money! Or at least it's free money if you stick to purchases that you would have been making anyway.

In addition to this when you sign up and make your first $25 purchase, you get a $10 gift card to a store of your choosing (I picked Walmart--super boring, I know, but practical). They then send that in the mail. So when I made my first purchase, I got my 6% back, plus I'll receive a $10 gift card. That's more free money.

And then if you refer your friends and they sign up (and spend their first $25), you get extra money there too. You always get $5 per friend. And right now, there's a promotion going on where you get $50 if two friends sign up and $100 if three friends sign up. This is why my brother-in-law introduced me to Ebates when my family came for Thanksgiving. And I have to admit that I was more than happy to sign up with his link because free money and I are friends. And I don't mind giving free money to my friends either. Free money for all, that's my motto.

Getting your free money is easy. They will send you a check or you can have the money deposited into your paypal account.

The toughest part (for me) is remembering to go to Ebates first and then shop through their site. However, there's a "button" you can download to your computer that puts a little Ebates thing in the corner of your computer screen when you're shopping online. Then you can click on that and boom, you're signed up with Ebates and any shopping you do gets you credited. I was hesitant to add a button to my computer, but I now love it with my soul. It's kind of awesome. That means you get free money and don't even have to think about anything. Win win. (It will usually ask you if you want the button. If it doesn't go to  I love love love the button. Anytime you shop somewhere it pops up in the screen of your computer telling you how much that store is offering in cash back. Then you click it and you're just there--you don't have to think about anything.)

And finally, there are apps you can get. I'm (admittedly) not Captain Super App, but I know that most of the modern world is. Anyway, with the apps they'll alert you of deals that are coming up (say, if a store is giving a high cash back or if there's a promotion like the Refer Your Friend one going on right now).

But don't overthink it. Just sign up through them. Shop as you normally would (starting at their site first) and then, bam, free money.

Also, use my link to sign up for Ebates. Get me free money, yourself free money, and then get your friends to sign up so they can get free money too! Whee!!!

Here it is:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving: A Menu

Because I'm just now thinking about this... Maybe you are too.

1. Too many notes on TURKEY.

2. Not enough notes on STUFFING. (I'm going to admit that I'm still looking for perfection here, but this is a decent basic recipe)

3. The perfect ROLLS

4. Too many good cranberry recipes to choose from (who says that???)
There's cranberry salsa
Pomegranate Sweet relish (which is not relish-y at all, but very sweet)
Cranberry Orange Relish (only sweet)
And a really delicious classic Cranberry sauce

5. Mashed potatoes.

6. Sweet potatoes with farro--a little something different.

7. Roast vegetables:

8. And pie (chocolate)
(Or this one if you want dumb easy; it's the picture up top.)

9. More pie (pumpkin)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

For the last couple weeks I've been out of whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour provides an important function for me and my bread-eating family. It allows me to eat all kinds of wonderful breadsy things without guilt. It allows me to feed all these wonderful breadsy things to my kids without guilt. When we have whole wheat (or even part wheat) bread at dinner and the kids are picky and hardly eat anything else, then I can say to myself, "Well, at least they got some whole grains with their 1/2 teaspoon of soup/salad/casserole/vegetable." But when you don't have whole grains in your bread, then what do you say, "Well, at least they got some gluten candy with their two drops of tomato soup." It's less comforting.

(Here's a picture of them in different light, so don't freak out if they're not as orange as the above picture; they were more orange than regular rolls, but not flaming.)

One night I had promised my kids I would make bread. And a promise is a promise. Still, I had to do something to add nutritional value to their bread candy to make myself feel like a better person and all. I had a bit of pumpkin leftover and added about 1/3 C in. It wasn't a lot--let's face it; it was still gluten candy. But it was gluten candy with a bit of extra vitamin A. Aaaannnndddd even more importantly, it was fantastic. They were delicious and soft with a kiss of autumn (and a kiss of vitamin A, and--yes--I am still trying to make myself feel like I fed my kids better than I did). The color was pretty and I just thought it might be a nice addition to your Fall/Thanksgiving repertoire. They are made exactly like my go-to roll, only instead of using two eggs you use 1 egg and 1/4-1/2 C pumpkin puree (I used canned). That's it. I'll copy that recipe below with changes.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Makes about 20-24 rolls
Prep time: 20 minutes
Rise time: 1 1/2-2 hours
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Cost: $2.00 (that's $.10/roll)
milk: .15, yeast: .20, butter: .25, sugar: .10, egg: .10, flour: 1.00, pumpkin: .20

1 C warm water
1 C milk, warmed (not hot)
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 C butter
2 tsp salt
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1/4-1/2 C pumpkin puree
7-8 C flour

Add yeast to water and milk. Let it sit there if you've got five minutes. If you'll get distracted by leaving a thing for five minutes, then just throw the butter, salt, sugar, and eggs in before you forget what on earth you were doing in the first place. Mix it all together. Mix in 4 C flour. Add 2 more cups. Begin kneading with hands when it gets too tough to stir. Of course, if you're a member of the 21st century and have a Kitchenaid, you can use that too with the dough hook. I myself haven't quite made it to the 21st century and that's okay with me because (weird mental disorder alert) I kind of like kneading. It relaxes me. I like how the dough smells. I like how it feels. 

So if you, like me, will be doing things manually, here is #1 best tip for rolls. The dough should be pillowy--like a mother's bosom. We don't want any tight teenage breasts, nor do we want a stretched and sagging grandma shelf. If a three-year-old would just love to lay her head on your dough, it's perfect. (Warning: If you have a real life 3-year-old available, do not invite her to lay her head upon your dough to test it out. You'll get hair in your dough. And possibly boogers. Which is what mother's bosoms also get covered in when they have three-year-olds. Not that we mind because three-year-olds are cute.) I've digressed, haven't I? Anyway, so keep adding flour in 1/4 C increments or so and knead it for about 8 minutes until it is nice and pillowy and perhaps the teeniest little bit tacky, but not sticky. Then put it in a bowl and cover it and keep it in a warm place. (Everyone always says put it in an oiled bowl. I have never, not even once in my life done this. I always just throw it back in the bowl I mixed it in. It is always always fine. Who are these people with their oiled bowls and what is the purpose of oiling the bowl?) 

Tip #2: If it's cold in your house, stick the bowl with the dough in the oven. Turn the oven on for 1 minute. Then turn the oven off and leave the dough in the warmed oven. (Do not leave the room to go do something in that one minute. You will never remember your dough. It will cook right there in your bowl with a dish towel over it and perhaps your house will burn down. This is not worth what you were going to do in that one minute.) Alternatively, you could turn the oven on, then off, then put your dough in just to be sure you don't flake. 

Let it rise for one hour or until doubled. Then punch it down and shape it into rolls. Put the rolls on a greased baking sheet. Cover them and let them rise again--this time for about 20 minutes. 

Bake at 375 for about 10-13 minutes. I like my rolls just a bit on the dough-y end. I always break them open to determine if they're just right and not way too doughy still. It's not the perfect technique, but it works. 


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Secret Recipe Club--Apple Cinnamon Bread

(Can't you just imagine some chopped pecans on the top of this as well? I know I can)

I've made a lot of quick breads--banana, pumpkin, chocolate. I love them all, but this month for the Secret Recipe Club I realized that I had a gaping hole in my repertoire--Apple Cinnamon Bread. I realized this as I was scrolling through Renee's Kitchen Adventures. There it was--a recipe for a quick bread with cinnamon and apples, and that little light went off--the little light that says, "You really need this in your life." I mean, it's fall--it's time to give the people what they want. And the people want delicious comforting sweet (but not too sweet) bread that has grated apple and cinnamon and nutmeg. At least that is what the people want if they live in this house.

I loved so much about this bread. It's definitely on the healthy-ish side. It has fruit, yogurt, the potential for whole wheat. Also, there's not a truck load of sugar in it, which I appreciated. Though perhaps I should warn you that if you're used to intensely sweet quick breads, this one is only mildly sweet, so be prepared for that or jack up the sugar if that's your thing. I'm not here to judge--only to encourage you to get your autumn on and make this bread.

Apple Cinnamon Quick Bread
adapted from Renee's Kitchen Adventures
Makes 1 loaf
prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Cost: $1.90
flour: .30, sugar: .15, apples: .70, eggs: .20, yogurt: .35, oil: .05, spices: .15

2 C all purpose flour (I think it would be amazing with 1 1/2 C all purpose and 1/2 C whole wheat, but we were out of whole wheat)
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutment
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I just used regular salt whatever that is)
2 C grated apples (peels and cores removed--this is about 2 apples)
2 eggs
3/4 C plain Greek yogurt
1/4 C canola oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a loaf pan with spray. Renee used a 9x5x3 inch pan. I used the size down, which is 7x3xsomethingorother--still a large loaf pan, not a mini, but not as large as Renee's.

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In medium bowl, combine apples, eggs, yogurt, canola oil, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Don't over mix. And you really just need a spoon--no beaters or mixer required.

Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with rubinado sugar if you want (this was a hit with my kids. Bake for one hour (mine was done and perfect at EXACTLY one hour, but you should test it with a toothpick--or fork for the unrefined--to be sure there's no uncooked batter lurking in the middle). Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove to cool completely.

This is even better and more apple-y the next day, but that didn't stop my kids from porking out on it soon after it came out of the oven on the first day.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Pork Chop Potato Bake

Who's ready for some dumb easy comfort food (with the worst pictures I've taken in a long time--ugh--I'm blaming early darkness). The problem with comfort food, as we discussed in my last post, is that it sometimes takes forever to make and you feel like it's Thanksgiving when it's not Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving's great and all, but not on any old Monday.

I never ever made scalloped potatoes. I love them, but I seriously haven't made them in years. I just don't have the time for side dishes that take longer to prepare than anything else. This little beauty of a recipe brought them back into my life. It's still not a 15-minute throw together (well, it kind of is, but you're going to tack on a long cook time), but it's beauty is that you make the meat and potatoes together. You've only got 15-20 minutes hands on time, and then a low, slow bake. In fact, I'd wager this would work in the crock pot wonderfully.

Pork Chop Potato Bake
adapted from And a Sprinkle of Love
serves 4
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour (to 2 1/2 hours depending on the oven temp you go with)
Cost: $6.85
pork chops: 5.00, potatoes: 1.00, onion: .10, milk: .15, butter: .20, broth: .40

4 pork chops
1 onion (I subbed in onion powder since I knew my husband would hate the onion--about 1/2Tbsp)
6 medium potatoes
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 C chicken broth
1 C milk or half and half
cheese, optional
salt and pepper

First heat a bit of oil in a pan. Then salt and pepper your pork chops and brown them on each side.

While they're browning, slice your onion, then peel your potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch slices.

When the chops are browned, but not cooked through, remove them from heat. Add the onions to the drippings. If there are no drippings add a bit more oil. Cook the onions and finish cutting your potatoes.

Remove the onions from the pan and put them with the pork chops.

Add the butter to the pan. Then whisk in the four. When it's nice and pasty, add the chicken broth and the milk and whisk, cooking until it's thickened. Add the onions back in and stir.

Here's the magical part: Lay your potatoes in a well-greased 9x13 inch pan. They can overlap and be wonky--that's fine. Just get them all in there in a mildly evenish manner. Than pour the sauce over the top. At this point you can add some grated cheese if you like, but you don't have to. Now put your pork chops on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 65-75 minutes at 350 degrees. OR for 2 1/2 hours at 300 degrees. I went for the low and slow option and this came out so flavorful and melt-in-your-mouthy, it was amazing.

Just sit there or play or read or sleep or whatever. And then at dinner time you eat.



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