homemade ginger: November 2009

Cookbook Review: 500 Best Healthy Recipes

Monday, November 30, 2009



A few years ago, I purchased the cookbook 500 Best Healthy Recipes  by Lynn Roblin.  I was looking for a cookbook that had easy and healthy recipes.  Let me tell you, this is the best cookbook I own! Every single recipe I have made out of this book has been delicious and easy. I love that the nutrition information is listed on each recipe, so you know just how many calories, fat, sodium etc are in each dish.  Most recipes are very low in calorie, but the quality of taste does not suffer! I also love that real, fresh and whole ingredients make up most of the dishes in this book.  I have been trying to get away from processed and packaged foods in my cooking. If you are also wanting to start eating real food, this is a great resource!

Some of our favorites from this book are:
Hummus
Tortilla bean salad with creamy salsa dressing
Chicken tortillas
Chinese lemon chicken w/red peppers and snow peas
Spaghetti squash with vegetables and tomato sauce
Spicy rice, bean and lentil casserole

Meatless Mondays (or Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, or Thursdays...)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


In an effort to save money yet eat healthy, we've been trying "meatless mondays" here at the Kapple house. I have found many delicious meatless recipes that call for lentils as the main ingredients. Lentils are super cheap and healthy and very delicious as well! Here is our favorite lentil recipe so far!

Spicy Rice, Bean and Lentil Casserole(adapted from 500 Best Healthy Recipes)

2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 3/4 c vegetable stock
3/4 c brown rice
1/2 c green lentils
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp chili powder
1 can red kidney beans (you can substitute any type of bean that you like)
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup salsa


*Saute garlic, onions and green peppers in oil for about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, brown rice, lentils, basil and chili powder. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice and lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed.

* Stir in beans, corn, salsa; cover and cook 5 minutes or until heated through.

* We like to eat this topped with shredded cheese and sour cream with a green salad on the side. It's super delicious and very filling!!

I will post more meatless dishes in the future!

easy & frugal natural all purpose cleaner

Monday, November 23, 2009

In an effort to save money while using natural cleaning alternatives that are safer for Lula, I've started making my own cleaners. This is one of them that really works and is super cheap!

All Purpose Natural Cleaner

1 gal hot water
1 tbs baking soda
2 tbs liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, but Dawn liquid dish soap would also work)

Mix together in a spray bottle.

*all amounts are approximate. My spray bottle is clearly less than a gallon, but I still used the same amounts of baking soda and soap with less water, it's just a bit more concentrated!

diy felt stockings

Saturday, November 21, 2009



One of my many projects for the Christmas season was to make stockings for our family. I found this great Amy Butler stocking pattern here. It's free and super easy! I'm kind of obsessed with felt right now. It's such a great material to work with if you are new to sewing. Because it doesn't unravel, you are able to sew leaving raw edges which makes things so easy!



I bought my high quality wool felt from Erica's and Heather Bailey





I followed the Amy Butler stocking pattern, but wanted to add felt details to personalize the stockings. Before sewing the pieces together, I made a paper patterns of the shapes that I wanted to sew onto the stocking.




After cutting out the shapes, I sewed them directly onto the stocking pieces



I really wanted our names on the stockings, so I tried embroidering them. This was my first try at embroidery, so it's not perfect, but oh well!





I love the little bit of fabric that shows on the outside and lining





The finished product!!



If you want some personalized stockings, you should try it!

make your own yogurt!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009




Lula eats a lot of plain whole milk yogurt, but it really starts to add up especially if we buy the organic kind! So, one day I tried making yogurt myself. It's really very simple and if you use organic whole milk, then it's just like the expensive stuff you can buy at Whole Foods but for a fraction of the cost!!


Here are some of the materials and ingredients you will need:

1 quart of milk (we use whole but 2% or skim would also work)
1/4 cup nonfat instant dry milk
2 Tbs plain yogurt (to use as a starter)
Candy thermometer (probably any type of food thermometer would work!)
Glass jars (just reuse those old salsa and mayo containers)


1. First, you need to scald the milk in order to kill any bad bacteria. Pour all of the milk into the glass jar(s) and microwave for about 3 minutes. Stop every minute or so to stir and check the milk's temperature. Your goal is for the milk to be at about 180-185˚ F.

2. Once the milk has reached the desired temperature, you now need to cool it down to about 112˚F. I just stick it in the fridge for about 45 minutes. Check the temperature after about 30 minutes just to make sure. You don't want it to go below 90˚!





3. Now you need to add 1/4 c nonfat dry milk as well as 2 Tbs room temperature plain yogurt. When you are getting to the end of your yogurt, save a few Tbs to use for your next batch!






4. Next, you need to incubate the yogurt to make the cultures grow. The goal is to keep the yogurt between 90˚-120˚F, but the closer you can stay to 112˚F the better. There are many ways to incubate. I have found the crockpot to be a great one! I turn the crockpot on low and fill it about 1/2 with water. I usually do this while the yogurt is cooling in the refrigerator. Then, I turn the crockpot off, and stick the jars in the water and put the lid on. I also wrap the crockpot in a towel to seal in the heat. Check every hour or so, and if the yogurt temperature is starting to get too low, turn the crockpot back onto low for 5 min or so to heat it up a bit.

The yogurt needs to incubate for at least 5-12 hours. The longer you incubate, the more tangy the yogurt will be. If you want a milder tasting yogurt, incubate for 5-6 hours.

There are many other ways to incubate your yogurt! I have tried putting hot water in a cooler along with the jars of milk. In the summer, I have set it outside in the sun. You could also turn your oven on low, then turn it off right
before you stick your yogurt in! As long as it stays at that 90˚-120˚F range, you are good to go!!




5. After your yogurt has incubated, refrigerate for a few hours to let it set up.



6. When you are all finished, you should have thick and creamy yogurt!!






Try mixing your plain yogurt with honey, fruit jam, granola, almonds, maple syrup for a delicious and nutritious snack or breakfast. We mix Lula's with wheat germ and flax seed. I'm sure it's not too tasty, but she loves it and is getting tons of protein, iron and calcium!


happy yogurt making!!



Handmade Fabric Cards

Sunday, November 15, 2009




I have so many people tell me that they are impressed with something I've made because they are just "not crafty or creative" and "can't do it". Well, now there are no more excuses because I will be showing everyone the things that I make and that they really are easy! I rarely come up with an idea on my own, it's usually something I've seen someone else do and I just modify it a little bit! Here is one of those ideas--fabric cards! I saw a version of these on a blog and decided to try it with my own twist. It's a great way to use up those scraps!


first, I take some scraps and lay them out on a card or folded piece of cardstock until I acheive a composition that I like:





Next, I literally sew the pieces onto the paper. I don't worry about backstitching or making my seams perfect. I prefer a more ru
stic look:





Then, I trim off all the edges:



I love the look of the stitching on the back of the card, but if you did not like this, you could glue a piece of pape
r on top of it:







The finished product!

here are some others that I love:



My next idea is to use all handmade wrapping paper for Christmas gifts this year! I am sure I will do a post on that in the near future!

Happy card making!




homemade laundry detergent

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I have found that I go through laundry detergent much faster than I used to! I have started on the quest for a homemade all natural laundry detergent. Here is the recipe that I have been using. It is so easy and saves so much money!




Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent

1 cup borax (can be found on the laundry aisle at your local grocery store)
1 cup washing soda (looks like a big box of baking soda and will be near the borax)
1 bar of grated castile* soap (we love Dr. Bronner's soap in lavender scent but Ivory also works although it's technically not "all natural")

Just mix the the borax and washing soda in a reusable container. To make the soap much easier to grate, just leave it out for a few days (if you can do a few weeks, even better). This dries out the bar which will allow you to grate the soap into a powder. You can also try putting it in your freezer and then grating. I just use the finest side of my cheese grater to make the soap in tiny granules!

Add about 2 tbs of detergent to a medium load of laundry!

For a frugal and natural fabric softener, add a few tbs of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Your clothes will smell fresh and not vinegary, I promise!

I'm currently on the lookout for a homemade liquid detergent, so stay tuned!!

*The only downside to homemade detergent is that it can't be used on Lula's cloth diapers. I have been using it on her diapers for a year but they have started to be less absorbent and produce an unpleasant odor. After a little research, I found that homemade detergents aren't the best for diapers because they contain natural oils that build up on the fabric. It's better to use something like Charlie's Soap or Soapnuts that don't contain any oils.

best chocolate chip cookies...EVER!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


*the dough pictured above contains chocolate pudding and peanut butter chips


For my first post, I'm going to share my all time favorite cookie recipe! They come out so soft and delicous every time. This is a great recipe to experiment with!


Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
*adapted from allrecipes.com


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cups butter, softened
1/2 cup crisco or margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (or chocolate, butterscotch, french vanilla et
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Directions
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
*In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. *Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. *Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
*Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Take the cookies out just when they look a little bit underdone and let them sit on the hot pan to continue "cooking" for a few minutes before putting them on a cooling rack. This helps them stay super soft!


Now, the fun thing about this recipe, is you can change up the recipe every time you make them!! In the picture above, I used chocolate pudding and peanut butter chips (and added a little extra cocoa powder). You could also try butterscotch pudding with white chocolate chips, banana pudding with m&m's and the list goes on and on. Every time I make these, everyone absolutely loves them and the cookies stay super soft for days!!
Enjoy!!

welcome!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

welcome to homemade ginger! i am excited to embark on this blogging adventure. many people have encouraged me to do this so that i might encourage others to create! you might ask why i decided on the name homemade ginger. after much discussion and debating with my husband, we decided that the blog is not really about me and my life as much as it is just about what i love to do. so, instead of using my name, we used ginger--which i am often referred to since i'm a redhead. and then the homemade part is pretty obvious.

well, hopefully you find something that inspires you to go make something!

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