Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Homemade with House 6: Biscuit Mix (Dairy Free)




For the longest time I was a HUGE fan of Pioneer Baking Mix for biscuits. I still think it's tasty but most (if not all) breakfast mixes contain some sort of dairy which made them all no-go's for Belle. Also, they can get expensive if you use them on a regular basis. I figured there had to be a way to make some sort of dairy free biscuit mix and save money in the process. Pancakes and waffles weren't hard to make dairy free for me since I used old recipes of my mom's that just meant switching cow's milk for something else. Biscuits were hard...all the good recipes scratch recipes use buttermilk and I wanted something that just required the addition of liquids when I wanted to make biscuits. 

As per usual, I took to the web (namely Pintrest) and found this Bisquick copy cat mix! She breaks down all the costs and how to make pancakes from the mix. Here's the proportions for biscuits:

Biscuits
-2 1/4 cups mix
-2/3 cup milk of choice

*Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Serve with goat cheese and honey or jam if dairy free or butter if you aren't. I usually get 7-8 biscuits per recipe. 

That's it! I use goat's milk since Belle can't have cow's milk products and they taste exactly the same. You can use whatever type of milk you prefer....almond, coconut, soy, cow, goat, whatever your heart desires!

I love how simple it is to make this mix and how few ingredients it takes. All you need is:

- 5lb bag of flour
- Sugar
- Salt
- Baking powder
- Shortening

You will also need a large bowl or pot to mix it in and something to store it in. I use a 1 gallon jar but you can use ziplock bags or whatever you have on hand. Check out the original instructions at Fake it Frugal 

I keep the instructions on the lid so I never have to think about it and if anyone else makes them they don't either.

This, plus a large something to mix it in, is all you need! Seriously!


I usually put half the flour in the pot, the salt, sugar, and baking powder. Then one stick of Crisco cut up followed by the rest of the flour and the second stick of Crisco. Now get to mixing...I would love to be able to tell you that you can use your mixer or something but you're going to have to dig those hands in and do it the old fashioned way. Just keep mixing until all the Crisco is incorporated and it has a crumbled texture. You don't want any big chunks of Crisco in your mix so just keep working it until it looks and feels right.



Once it's all mixed grab a scoop and get it in that jar of yours. I PROMISE it will fit in this 1 gallon jar but you may have to pack down those last few scoops to get it all in.

Voila!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Crazy (Awesome) Summer: Gigi's Visit

A few days after we returned from Austin The LT's mom, Belle's Gigi, arrived in Washington for a visit. Since this was her first time to visit during the summer we wanted to do as much outside as we could to take advantage of the beautiful summertime here. 

Allow me to explain my child's outfit: The pink star leggins and purple shirt were chosen by me. She INSISTED on wearing the pink polka dot skirt. She also insisted on those specific shoes. The sweater is warm but not too warm. The LSU hat is the only one she will keep on. Bunny and paci with scarf are purely accessories. P.S. This was the first real instance of toddler Belle insisting on certain clothes/shoes. 


We drove to Crystal Mountain to do a little hiking and show Gigi the amazing mountain view of the Cascades. Unfortunately, the day we went was the worst day of her entire visit to do that. It was incredibly foggy and the further we hiked the worse the fog got and the temperatures started to really drop. So, after hiking about a quarter of the way up we decided to head down and just take the gondola to the top. 


Even though the fog was pretty incredible by the time we got to the top it was still beautiful...just in a very different way that we were expecting. Fortunately, the food at the restaurant that's up on the summit is amazing so it made all the hassle worth it in the end. 

Belle loves a good stair climb!
The majority of Gigi's visit went a little more like this. Belle getting pushed around the yard in her Cozy Coupe. A few park trips. Several viewings of Frozen. You get the picture.


During the second weekend of Gigi's visit we did make a trip up to Seattle to get some seafood. We had amazing weather that day so we even got to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. 


There are more Crazy (Awesome) Summer adventures to come to include a trip to Canada and several more visitors!! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Homemade with House 6: Freezer Hash Browns


Here is the first installment of Homemade with House 6 and it's one of The LT's favorites, freezer hash browns! The LT LOVES hash browns and when Belle was starting to really eat solid food I was looking for breakfast options that didn't include eggs or dairy since we were still figuring out whether she had an egg allergy and what kind of milk alternatives she could tolerate. Hash browns seemed like a no brainer but store bought ones often have additives and can get kind of pricey too. I figured there HAD to be a way to make them myself.



I came across this pin originally and loved the simplicity of it. I tried to find the actual post with the instructions but I can no longer find it so I'll give you all the details here. 

Start by washing and peeling your potatoes. Cut the larger ones in half, or thirds if they are really big potatoes.

As you cut them place them in a pot with COLD water. It needs to be cold to keep them from browning as you peel the rest.

After they are all peeled and cut (if necessary) add more water to your pot and boil them on high. I always set my timer for 10 minutes to start. You want them to be just starting to get tender. You should be able to poke them with a fork easily but not start to crumble yet. For me it usually takes 12-15 minutes of cooking time. 99% of the time once they get to a really good rolling boil they are perfectly done. *Since you are heating the water with the potatoes...not adding cold potatoes to boiling water...the potatoes will cook evenly as the water heats up.*

As your potatoes are boiling prep your ice water bath so it's ready to go as soon as your potatoes are done.

Drop those potatoes in and make sure they are completely submerged in the water to prevent browning.

Now, you can do one of two things. You can place that bowl in your refrigerator and forget about them for up to 24 hours and shred them when you have time. Your other option is to leave them in the ice bath on your counter until they are completely cooled and shred them then. *I usually boil them in the morning and then shred them after dinner once Belle is in bed.*

If you don't have a food processor get out your box grater, a plate, and some serious elbow grease. If you are grating by hand I HIGHLY suggest not boiling more than 2.5lbs at a time. It's a serious arm workout. Your other option is to have a night in shinning armor of a husband who comes in to save your exhausted arms and finishes the ridiculous amount of potatoes you boiled. :)

If you do have a food processor you will have it all shredded in no time. Be careful not to push them through too fast because you don't want big chunky shreds...thin makes for crispier hash browns in the end.



Once you've got a whole bunch shredded get your ziploc bags ready. I freeze them in sandwich size because that's one portion worth for The LT or enough for Belle and I to share. You can freeze them in snack size, quart, or even gallon size depending on your needs.


Once you've gotten them filled to the level you like squeeze as much air out as you can and flatten them so that they can freeze evenly.


Lay them flat in your freezer, stacked no more than two high and forget about them! Once they are frozen solid you can stack them however you like.


When you are ready to eat them open the bags slightly and pop them in the microwave to defrost. *For my microwave I do 1.5 minutes per bag, flipping them over half way through.



I cook ours in my large cast iron skillet because I don't have any teflon pans. If you do use a cast iron make sure it is well greased and you add plenty of oil before and during the cooking. It make take you a few batches to figure out how to cook them just to your family's liking but don't give up!

So there you have it! Freezer hash browns whenever you want them for a fraction of the price and with only one ingredient...potatoes! Well when you go to cook them you will have two ingredients...whatever oil you choose and potatoes, but still better than a whole bunch of preservatives you can't pronounce! If you are a family with food allergies, prefer organics, or are just on a budget these are a great way to accommodate your needs. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Crazy (Awesome) Summer: ATX

This is the fourth edition of our Crazy (Awesome) Summer and it's not even over! So much more to blog about that has happened and ever more yet to happen! 

About a week after The LT returned from NTC he took a four day pass so we could fly to Austin, TX for a friend's wedding. For the purposes of this blog the groom is "T" and bride "J." We met T at Fort Sill while he was in The LT's BOLC class. He was part of the group of single lieutenants who we kind of adopted as children/siblings and often had dinner at our house. As we all parted ways at the end of their BOLC class he PCS'd to Fort Hood and later met his now wife who was living in Austin. We had never met J but had heard nothing but good things about her from T and our mutual friends who were also at Hood. We couldn't have been happier to hear about their engagement and coming wedding once he returned from his Afghanistan deployment. Once we got their save the date The LT confirmed training dates for NTC to ensure that he would indeed be home by then so we could get plane tickets. It was a no brainer for us to do everything in our power to attend their wedding...we were excited for T, we could stay with my grandmother which meant no hotel costs and a visit with her, and bonus visits with other family and friends that were able to squeeze into our tight schedule. 


We landed around dinner time on Friday and after getting our rental car headed towards my Grandmother's house and stopped along the way for dinner at Chick-fil-a. The LT hadn't had Chick-fil-a since we left Oklahoma two and a half years ago, it's delicious, and Belle can eat there so it was a must do for the trip. Belle had an exhaustion melt down while we were getting things ready for her bedtime but once I laid her down she was out cold and slept through the night.

Saturday we hung out at my Grandmother's and let Belle get used to the new surroundings again. I totally failed at getting any pictures with my Grandmother this trip...mommy/blogger fail. The wedding started at 4 and we were able to slip out of the house unnoticed while Belle was still napping. We've discovered that she does much better with sitters if she doesn't actually see us walk out the door. She did fabulously with my Grandma...they played, went for a walk around the cove where she apparently chatted with all the neighbors, ate a great dinner, and went down for bed without a fight! 


T and J's wedding was absolutely beautiful and the reception was at a resort up in the hill country with amazing views of Austin. We got to catch up with a few other people who The LT was in BOLC with at the reception as well which was an added bonus. It never ceases to amaze me how awesome the friends we've made through the Army are. We danced, ate, caught up, requested a song just for the groom from the DJ, and had an overall good time. Having free family babysitting didn't hurt either. ;)Hopefully one day we will live close to T and J but for now being able to attend their wedding was enough. Wouldn't it be nice if we could be stationed with all our favorite people at the same time in the same place?....sigh...too bad that's pretty much impossible. 
Note: These three pictures were taken by the guy on the far right in the bottom photo. Or at least with his camera in the case of the group photo.
Sunday was relaxed and was spent catching up with my Grandma and my Aunt who came over for lunch. The LT picked up Short Stop for dinner which was amazing and tasted EXACTLY how I remembered it. Short Stop is....well....Short Stop. If you go to Austin find one and enjoy it...then you will understand. 


Monday we had brunch with my friend Hahna and her mom. I was so glad that we were able to make our schedules work since Hahna will be moving to NYC soon for her big job! So excited for her but I'm sad that it will likely mean fewer visits with her. 

I have this gut feeling that Hahna and Belle will have a very special relationship as she gets older. I have no idea why I think this...they just seem to be two peas in a pod. 
Belle was an absolute champ on this trip. I really couldn't have asked for any more from her. Our flight left early evening on Monday and she didn't nap at all on the flight. As a result I watched Frozen twice on the iPad and as annoying as that was she was happy so it's better than a hysterical overtired uncontrollable toddler. She did however pass out cold in the ergo on my back somewhere between the baggage claim and getting to the shuttle stop. She stayed asleep the entire ride to the remote lot we parked in and through me climbing in the car to re-install her carseat. When she did wake-up we did not have a happy kiddo. It was after midnight central time and she was so overtired. She screamed hysterically even after we pulled over and I got her out. It was clear she was quickly becoming inconsolable so I pulled out the iPad and put Frozen on YET again. She watched it all the way home...how she kept her little eyes open I will never know but after a quick diaper change and into her pjs she was out for the night. 

Proof that she does (occasionally) sleep on someone...but only under extreme circumstances.

Friday, August 8, 2014

L-T-P

Ok bloggy peeps...let's pretend that it's July 25th and I wrote this the day after the big news as opposed to the reality that I'm writing this over a week late. Now that we got that out of the way....here comes the big news!

The LT made the promotion list to Captain!!!! Even though we knew he would make it, with the Army it's not official until it's official. Technically, it's not even official until those double bars are on his chest but we still had a little celebration all the same. We don't know the date of his promotion yet but it will be sometime after 1 January 2015. 

It hit me the day we found out he made the list that we met almost 9 years ago when he was a PFC. We didn't start dating until over a year, one Iraq deployment, and a promotion to Specialist later. By the time we started dating he knew he was headed for the officer track, initially via Westpoint, but things didn't quite work out that way. Going through that whole story is much more than I feel like writing right now but just know that there were up's, down's, doubts, and generally panicked moments. So much has happened in the past nine years...deployments, deaths, babies, marriage, MANY moves, health scares, and it goes on and on. This life is not easy but looking back I wouldn't want to change any of it. I wouldn't be the person I am and he wouldn't be the person he is. We wouldn't have the amazing people in our lives that we do if things had gone "according to plan." Gosh, I can't even imagine my life without some of the people we've met along the way...it's scary to even think of life without them now. 

Anyway, enough rambling thoughts...I'm incredibly proud of my husband and can't wait to witness his actual promotion next year. His "p" status and pending promotion do cause one little problem though....What am I going to refer to him on my blog!? I've talked with The LT about this and he doesn't really care since he views this as my little slice of the internet. So, here are the options I've come up with....
  • "The LT" continues even though he won't be an LT anymore. It's his "character name" here and we keep it. 
  • Using his real first name.....I bet some of y'all are curious but no, I won't spill the beans yet.
  • Coming up with a new "character name." We can go with "The Captain" or "The CPT" for short...but that reminds me of The Captain from How I Met Your Mother. I kind of like "El Capitan" (you have to say it in your head with a Spanish accent though) because I'm weird like that. 
Cast your "vote" in the comments below or add any other options you can think of. I'll keep them all in mind as his actual promotion nears and a new name becomes a necessity.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Homemade with House 6: The Why

In my quest to a) be better about posting regularly and b) share recipes I love with more than just my immediate family and close friends I'm going to start a series I'm calling "Homemade with House 6." Sometimes I'll just be sharing some of my favorite recipes from Pintrest, my personal tips and tricks for cooking from scratch with a busy life, and maybe even a few family recipes. 
You may not know, because I haven't really blogged about it much, that I really enjoy cooking from scratch. I enjoy the challenge of making something from nothing...the way it was done long before the modern day grocery store. Do I still enjoy modern conveniences, absolutely, but why buy it when you can make it? Generally, anything you buy pre-made can be made from scratch for a fraction of the price and without all the mystery ingredients. Once we discovered that Belle had a dairy allergy (not just lactose intolerance) it became a more even important to me to make things from scratch. SO many foods have some sort of dairy bi-product in them that it has actually become easier to just make it myself over buying from the store, reading every label or hoping I remembered correctly which brand is ok.
I like to know what's in our food and know that what we are eating is good, healthy, and a real natural product. The amount of preservatives and chemicals that are allowed in our food by the FDA is appalling and my goal is limit the amount my family consumes. Making things from scratch has also helped to decrease our grocery bills which in turn allows us to afford more organics. In an ideal world I would love to only purchase organics but our budget is not unlimited so we do our best. Please know that I'm not condemning anyone for not making their food from scratch, this is just how I choose to shop and cook for our family. We always have crackers, cereals, and candy in the house. We eat fast food too but we just try to limit it and be conscious of what we are choosing. 
So, stay tuned because starting next Wednesday "Homemade with House 6" will really get going!

Monday, August 4, 2014

House 6 Creations on Etsy!

Without further ado, I'm happy to announce that House 6 Creations is now on Etsy! It's something I should have done a while ago but procrastinated for various reasons and life with a toddler got in the way too. To date there are just a few carseat canopies listed, some whales, and baby/toddler infinity scarves but in the coming days and weeks I will continue to add more. In case you were wondering working on Etsy things has been a large part of why I've been so absent on my blog...that and my Crazy (Awesome) Summer! *More posts about this summer soon, promise!*



This is both an exciting and terrifying step for me as a business owner. I'm excited that House 6 Creations is more accessible to the masses, so to speak....but that is scary too because I want to succeed so badly and in theory accessibility should lead to more sales. But what if it doesn't? *Insert panicky big eyed face here* Thankfully I have amazingly supportive friends and family who keep pushing me forward to bigger and better things. So, go check out the shop, make it a favorite, and share it with friends and family! Don't forget to like H6C on Facebook too to stay up to date with the latest and greatest!



 
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