About me

I started this blog years ago as a way to keep track of my recipes and projects. Friends and family would ask me for recipes and I figured I could put it all in one spot for everyone to access, whenever.

If you like my page, find me on facebook, link to the right, I share my blog recipes, and blog recipes from blogs I enjoy.

Please be patient, as I am working to organize my recipes on here better, my page has gotten out of hand.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

250 Meals in a Mug...seriously!

Anyone who has been here has seen my cookbook collection....or should I say addiction...I just got a new cookbook...its not my normal type of cookbook but after making the mug cakes and mac and cheese, I wanted to check this one out.  Its actually a good book.

Its a great book for those with older kids, pre-teens and teens, and lazy cooks too.  And those who live alone but don't want to mess up the whole kitchen to get a hot meal...You can get a pretty descent "home cooked" meal in a few minutes. Yes, I didn't say it was healthy but I have to say its healthier than fast food.

A few meals in it that caught my eye are, Salmon and Dill Orzo, Primavera Quinoa Mug, Southern Sausage and Grits (yes, in a few mins), jalapeno popper dip, french toast, cinnamon roll mug, peanut butter cookie, Irish Brown Bread..I could go on for days....most of these things are made from scratch.
If you want to read the reviews on this book on Amazon, its rated pretty nicely.
250 Best Meals in a Mug. 

I just made the Salmon and Dill Orzo (using tiny stars pasta because I don't have orzo in my pantry), and the Cinnamon Roll Mug.
The Cinnamon Roll Mug is delicious...and the salmon and dill orzo was not too shabby either.  
It's not restaurant quality but it's  healthier than fast food. 
If you're home alone a lot, have eternally hungry teenagers, or there's just two of you it's a nice quick way to have something, hot, fast. 

Knit an elf hat in a few hours

I made this hat after trying the video below...and wanting a more tapered hat.  
For your first hat, I recommend following the video and then, you can 
play around and make your own patterns up.  This pattern is still not mastered. 

I crochet and I knit and I saw these loom sets and decided to buy one and give it a whirl....talk about simple!  A young child can sit and make a hat in a few hours. 

The first set I got was round...I looked at the directions, yawned. I don't have time for that....
I turned on good ol' YouTube..the gal in the video below caught my eye and the very first hat I made, turned out fantastic!!

Don't mine my selfie modeling my first hat..I don't really care for selfie pics much but I wanted you to see the hat on someone.

My family loved it and some of my friends ordered some from me.  I was going to put them on etsy but I can't keep up with the demand of people I know.  I am also working on Christmas gifts for the family...my son will never get his kind sized afghan lol...that project took a back seat to this loom.

The gal in the video below  is entertaining as well as a great teacher to get you started on your first hat.  Use a soft yarn..don't use something cheap to try it, you will end up with an itchy hat no one wants to wear. Go for a comfortable type..my fav less expensive is Lion Brand Heartland.  Alpaca and Merino mix is a nice soft and warm, but pricey choice too..maybe use the Lion Brand first.  You won't be disappointed. (I don't work for Lion Brand, I just love the softness of their yarn and its great or looming)

This is my first Elf hat. I need to trim up the pompom but I wanted to give you an idea of what it will turn out like. 
This goes down past my chest. It's so fun and a great skiing hat. You can make it as long as you like. 

I wanted to learn to make a longer one and one that tapers down more, so  I ran with this idea, and used a rectangle loom to make an elf hat. I needed to be able to reduce and I wasn't sure how I could do this on a round loom..maybe there is a way...but this was easy.  

What I did was,  use a rectangle loom, 18 pegs long. This is doubled so it will be using 36 pegs total.I did what she does on the round loom by going around twice then pulling the bottom round over-the-top. 

I made the rim and two stripes ( 8 rows long each). Then I moved all four corner loops off the corner pegs and put them on the peg next to it. Pulling the two bottom strings over the top loops as you go around the loom in those corners. 

Then I did a few more stripes. I found that minimizing mid stripe was better than doing it on a beginning or end of a stripe. It was less noticeable. 

I am really new at using these looms so I may find an easier way but this was so simple I don't know how much easier it could get. 
I continued making each stripe and downsizing, until it was the desired length I wanted and I downsized as far as I could go. 

Here are a few other hats I made from the video, before venturing out on my own and playing with my own pattern ideas. 

These are the shorter type, like in her video..and I made a beanie type also.My youngest son is obsessed with brown and blue...hub requested the patriots colors, it'll be his ski hat. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fast & effortless herb & spice drying

Topped the basil so it didn't go to flower.
Thanks to a basil conversation I had with a friend today, it reminded me to tend it.

It's such a needy herb. I've been known to let it go to flower and lose it.

Two days just laying on the counter, then into a brown paper bag for two weeks. It's my favorite quick and easy spice-drying method. Then I just shove it, whole, into canning jars and grab a wad when I need it in a recipe.
I mark the bags because sometimes I have 10 bags of herbs drying at the same time. Plus I can reuse the bags for the same her next time. 
The bag also catches all the little pieces that falloff so they get used also. There's no waste this way. 
I use the stems in the vita mix for dressings and such, and sometimes I muddle them down and use them in the food if they're not too prickly.  They have lots of flavor. 
My son is in culinary arts and he uses the stems in his spice bags for soups and stews. 

I use a muddler to get the most flavor and aroma from my herbs when using them, every time I use a spice. It's always sitting right in the counter. I use it daily!  They have them at TJ Maxx and Ross quite often for 5-6 bucks. 

Just make sure your herbs are completely dry before jarring. And if you don't have counter space, any area to let it initially wilt is fine...using newspaper under it helps a lot too.  Keeps it easier to clean up, but if you don't have any handy, ya don't need it.

My herb garden looks like a jungle right now. I have some cutting to do. I will continue to harvest until October. 

The purslane keeps coming up through my pathway stones. That's what happens when your yard is totally organic. But you learn a lot about weeds and how beautiful some become if you let them grow. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Big Boobies Macaroni Salad aka Amish Style -revisited

My sister-in-law has two friends named Linda.  She calls one of them "big booby's Linda" to distinguish between the two. 
She got this recipe from big-booby's-Linda and I loved it so much I had to have the recipe. in her honor I named it after her. 

I have tweaked it a little bit from my original post with the amount of vegetables I put in it. Her sauce remains the same. 

1 bell pepper
1 red onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
Chopped parsley (fresh) 
4 hard boiled eggs
1 box macaroni 

2 cups kraft real mayonnaise
1-1/2 c sugar
1/4 c white vinegar
3/4 tsp mustard

Boil macaroni. You should be able to figure this out. 
My eggs have smileys in them because I've always distinguished our hard boiled eggs from raw eggs with smiley faces. My kids called them "happy eggs" as toddlers. 
I food process my veggies because I'm lazy. Ha. 
First the red onion and carrot
Then the bell pepper. Remember the veggies will chop differently depending on the texture. I usually put like-textured things together in the food processor. 

Then celery. That was easy. The teaser done. 
Toss together in a big gigantic container. 

In another container...
Sugar :)
Vinegar and mustard
Whisk it up. 
Chop the happy eggs

Drain pasta and rinse, tossing in cold water. Drain well. 

Toss with the veggies. 
Pour in the sauce and toss

Gently fold in chopped eggs

Now let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. It gets better with age. The 2nd day is even better so go ahead and make it ahead of time. 

Is your beauty routine killing you? My 2 cents

I love Ewg's website. It's my go to site when buying any beauty products. 
You can check all of your health and beauty and cleaning products for safety on there because they are third party and don't take $ from the companies they rate.  

Many perfumes, beauty products and cleaning products cause liver damage and your liver (if healthy) is what will help keep you cancer-free. 
Go on their site and search your daily used products. You may be surprised. 

Remember health and beauty products and vitamin supplement companies have no regulations. Companies don't even have to tell you everything that is in them. A company may claim to be organic and natural but may contain products that harm you. And they don't even have to list them. 

I started making my own products just to be certain that I know what is in them. 
I'm surprised my sons are on board. They love the products  I've made for  them. 

I've done a lot of damage to my body over the years, so hopefully it's not too late to reverse the bad but, you have to start sometime. 

My eating habits aren't the greatest but it's better than most people I know. Ive used the 80/20 rule long before it was called that. 

Take the health posts you read on Facebook with a grain of salt. Do your own research and find reputable authors. 

Start small. Eliminate bad cleaning products, and perfumed products. Eliminate sugar drinks, artificial colors and flavors, and try cooking from scratch. It's fun, therapeutic and you will know exactly what you are eating. 
Make your own beauty products where you can and check Ewg's website for safe products available commercially. 

Pinterest is a great resource for healthy meals and homemade health and beauty products. If you try one and don't like it, don't give up. You'll find your niche. 

I'm not perfect when it comes to health but I'm always learning. I've started an herbalist program because I've  always loved learning about herbs and I needed more. 

If you like health motivation follow my more serious blog, @ShannonDillman. 

I post a lot of recipes on my blog (Margarita Stewart) that are made from scratch. I also redo recipes that use product that aren't so good. 
It's almost impossible to be totally healthy. Pick and choose and eliminate the worst things. 
My coworker brought in those hidden Valley Ranch pretzel bites. I used to love them and I stopped making them along time ago because he Valley Ranch powder is not good for you. I ate some of his, gosh I remember how delicious they are now. So I went home and pulled out all my spices and made my own using all natural spices. 
You can do this with almost any recipe that you like. 

I'm sure there's things in the pretzels that aren't the best for me but I at least eliminated the hidden Valley Ranch powder. 
And by all means avoid eating anything low fat!  
Eat things in their most natural state as you can. We get our raw milk from an organic farmer and we also get our meat from him. Sure I eat out and I'm sure the food in restaurants is crap, but again, we can't be 100% healthy. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Simple Baked Jalapeño Lox

Disclaimer to the haters: shut up, I know it's not traditional lox, ya bloke. 

We love stuffing jalapeños with anything we can. Even when the pantry is low, I have salmon packets. 

Simple Baked Jalapeño Lox

You can half this recipe for two people. 
Although two of us in my house could probably eat the whole recipe

Makes 24

12 jalapeños 
2 packs salmon (2.5 oz)
2 packs cream cheese 
Your favorite spices (even if it's just old bay, spice it up) 

Toss it in the mixer bowl and let'r whirl. 
Beat until creamy. 

Cut jalapeños in half. Deseed and if you are afraid of heat, devein. (Not us)

Stuff each half with mixture and place on baking stone. (If you're not using a baking stone you're really missing out)

Bake at 375 until cheese starts to get golden brown (15-ish minutes, ovens vary) 

My local CVS sells salmon packets for a buck in their dollar section. The grocer wants 1.50 and up. It's a no-brainer, I buy them by the case for my boys to have a semi-healthy fast food snack. (Better than chips, and they eat it right our of the pack with a fork)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Jalapeño Pretzel Bits

You can adjust the spices to your liking.

 I don't use hidden valley ranch packets because they contain unnecessary additives so I toyed with my spices and came up with this. 

1 box hard sourdough pretzels (13.5 oz)
3/4 Cup oil (I use coconut or peanut)
1 ½ Tbsp dill weed 
3Tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp ground or crushed rosemary
1-3 Tbsp  dried jalapeño powder
10-15 turns of peppermill

Mix and pour onto baking stone or your fav baking dish. 
Bake at 200° for 50 minutes
Let cool and store in covered container