3 Things that Work in the Kitchen – Hand Washing Dishes Tips and Tricks

3 Things that work in the kitchen

It’s been a while since I’ve done a 3 Things post.  We’ve been deep in the slower summer pace around here and I’ve let a few routines languish.  But let’s get back to it (or at least pretend to) and talk about some things that are working in the kitchen.

Specifically, let’s talk about washing dishes.  Our dishwasher had a terrible leak.  Actually, we think it had two different leaks based on the damage that was done.  You may remember that I thought I’d fixed it.  I was wrong.  So, so wrong.

Several weeks ago we noticed that the cabinet next to the dishwasher had some water damage.  It had been soaking up all the water that had been leaking, keeping us from realizing just how bad the leak was.  Let’s just say that water logged particle board will really smell after a while.  Yuck!

Once I realized how bad it was, I wanted that cabinet and dishwasher out fast!  Isaac was home that day, so he helped me get them both out.  Here’s what I mean by help – I told him which screws to unscrew to loosen the cabinet from the wall and he contorted his 17 year old body under the cabinet to do it.  We worked together to figure out how to unhook the dishwasher from the plumbing by sending text pictures back and forth to my dad.

The floor underneath the cabinet and dishwasher was nasty!  I cleaned it and then Jim bleached it that evening.  Here’s what we were left with:

Kitchen without dishwasher and cabinet

We still need to cut and patch the side of the sink cabinet.  It was also water damaged.  As I write this post, the kitchen still looks like this.  Three weeks and counting.  The weird thing is, it hasn’t really bothered me.

I unloaded the cabinet and put all of those dishes/serving trays in the dining room.  The silverware is in the tray on top of the counter, covered with a dish towel to keep it clean.  I’m sure that one of these days I’ll reach the point where I can’t take it anymore.  Hopefully, the new cabinet will be in before that happens.

For now, we’re hand washing the dishes.  I’m not sure when we’ll decide to replace the dishwasher.  Surprisingly, I don’t really miss the dishwasher.  The kitchen stays cleaner than it did when we had the dishwasher.  Everyone pitches in to help clean.  Overall, hand washing is working for us.  Here are three reasons why:

1.  A decent sized dish drainer

We’d been using a drying mat for the few hand washed things we did while using the dishwasher.  A drying mat doesn’t cut it when you’re hand washing everything though.  I bought the largest sized dish drainer I could find.  The store I shopped didn’t have a great selection though, but this one works.  I think dish drainers used to be designed better years ago.

dish drainer

I also prefer the kind with the drain board on the long side.  Those fit the space better I think.

2.  Dishwashing wand

Dawn dishwashing wand

Everyone has been helping out with the dishes, largely because of this tool.  It’s easy for the kids to wash a plate and glass after a snack.  They’ll even wash their own plates after dinner.  That helps keep the dish duty to a reasonable level.

There are a number of brands that make a dishwashing tool like this.  I chose this because I liked the sponge on the end.  Some have scrubbies, but I didn’t want anything that rough.  I’m also a huge fan of Dawn dishwashing detergent.  The stuff just works better than anything else I’ve tried.  This isn’t sponsored at all, I just really like Dawn.

3.  Plenty of dishtowels and dish rags

I’ve always been in the habit of getting a clean towel and dish rag (or dishcloth for those who grew up more refined 😉  ) every morning, so I had a lot of them.  But hand washing sometimes requires more than one a day.

I haven’t found the perfect dish rag yet.  I do like microfiber, because it dries out quickly.  That keeps them from smelling bad.  As for towels, anything that’s 100% cotton is absorbent and works well.

How do you feel about hand washing dishes?  Are you devoted to a dishwasher or do you prefer hand washing?

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Steak on a Charcoal Grill – You can do this!

Fillet mignon on grill

I love to grill, but I admit that I’ve never really used charcoal to do it.  I’ve watched others grill over charcoal, but it intimidated me a little.

Then Kingsford Charcoal contacted me and asked if I would try their Kingsford Professional Charcoal to grill steak.  Perfect timing!  This is shaping up to be a tasty summer of outdoor grilling.  I’m hooked!

My first step was ordering a new charcoal grill.  I went with the Weber Kettle.

Next up – shop for steaks.  Costco had a pack of fillet mignon that looked wonderful.  Again, I was a little nervous to grill expensive steak.  What if I ruined it?  Shouldn’t I start with hot dogs?

The steak turned out to be so easy to grill.  The whole process takes about an hour, but it is easy to do.

The longest part of the process is waiting on the coals to get hot enough to cook over.  I use a chimney to light the charcoal.  You’ll need a few sheets of newspaper to roll up and place under the chimney.  True confession – I had to buy a Sunday paper for this, because we don’t take the newspaper anymore.  Pour the Kingsford Professional Briquets into the chimney, then light the newspaper at the bottom.  The flames will spread up through the chimney, catching all the charcoal on fire.

Kingsford Professional chimney starter

After about 45 minutes, the coals will become gray.  That signals the time to pour the burning coals into the grill.  Use grill gloves for this step so you don’t get burned.

Kingsford Professional

While the charcoal is getting hot, pull your steaks from the fridge and let them rest at room temperature.  You don’t want to put cold steaks on the hot grill.

I kept the seasonings simple so that they flavor of the meat could shine through.  I sprinkled each cut with kosher salt and pepper.  That’s it.

When the coals are ready, place the steaks on the hot grill.  Steak needs to sear and cook over high heat. Kingsford Professional Briquets are designed to achieve very hot temps. Since the fillets were very thick, I cooked them about 5-6 minutes per side, only flipping them once.  An instant read thermometer would be handy at this point, but I don’t own one yet.

Remove the steaks from the grill when they’ve reached the desired doneness.  Keep in mind they will continue to cook even after you’ve taken them off the heat.

fillet mignon finished with butter

Top each steak with a pat of butter and let them rest for several minutes before serving.  This is a good time to call everyone to the table, finish up side dishes, etc.

fillet mignon grilled done

Get out there and grill!

You can find Kingsford on Facebook and Twitter.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kingsford. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Easy Meals for After Church

Easy Meals for After Church

What do you do for dinner after church?

We usually come home to eat, but everyone is always starving.  If I don’t get some food on the table quick, their bellies aren’t the only things grumbling.

There are lots of options for quick meals after church.  Here are a few tips on choosing your menu items.   [Read more…]

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Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale including my Slow Cooker Freezer Plans!


Being a mom and homemaker is hard.

There’s no question that you love your family like crazy and you’d do anything for them, but we all know it can be an exhausting job.

Our job is so important, and we really want to do it right.  But so often, we end up feeling discouraged and even like we’re failing.

Maybe you wonder how you can keep up with it all and still have the energy to be the kind of mom, wife and woman you want to be.

Being a mom is never going to be stress free.  But what if you had more (and better) tools to help make it stress-less?

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about something very special happening right now called The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2016.

It was created to give you a huge number of amazing, high-quality resources to take some of the stress, overwhelm and difficulty out of homemaking and mothering.

To make you feel like you’re winning more often.

And to bolster you in the work you’re doing, because every awesome, hard-working mom deserves a little help sometimes.

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle includes 93 hand-picked eBooks, eCourses, and printables, on topics that matter to moms such as:

  • organization, routines & creating a cozy home
  • recipes, grocery shopping and meal planning
  • budgeting and saving money
  • motherhood (no matter what age your kids are)
  • cultivating a strong marriage
  • faith (for you & your kids)
  • and even self-care (like exercise, weight loss, life planning and coloring books!)
  • and much more…

Including my Slow Cooker Freezer Plans Volumes 1 & 2!

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You have a full year to download the eBooks and printables and take the online eCourses, and everything you’ve downloaded becomes part of your permanent library, so you can go back to it whenever you need it.

Plus, it comes with these FREE bonus offers from companies who know what homemakers need and want. Some are 100% free; other are yours for the cost of shipping only. You’ll get:

  • FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap, Mrs. Meyer’s Multi Surface Spray, Grove Collaborative Spray Bottle, Grove Collaborative Scrubber Sponges and FREE 60-day VIP trial with FREE shipping from Grove Collaborative ($30 value)
  • FREE Online Class from Craftsy ($29.99-$69.99 value)
  • FREE Kids Discovery Box from GreenKidCrafts.com ($24.95 value)
  • $15 Gift Certificate to InkWELL Press ($15 value)
  • $15 Credit to Hope Ink Shop PLUS Two FREE 8×10 Art Prints with Any Purchase ($71)
  • FREE SPOT Treatment for Acne & Eczema OR a $15 Gift Certificate from Bloom Naturals ($15 value)
  • FREE 90-Day Pro Membership to ListPlanIt.com ($30)
  • FREE 1-Year MollyGreen.com Membership ($29 value)
  • FREE Hand Massage Routine Videos from Melt Couples Massage ($24 value)

It’s available for just 6 days – from now until Monday, May 2nd, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. That’s why the Ultimate Bundles team can offer so much, because they only have permission to sell it for such a short period of time.

The total value is an astonishing $1000+ (plus over $300 in bonuses), but you get it for just $29.97. That’s 97% off what it would cost to buy everything individually!

Learn more or get your bundle now!

 

If you think getting all those homemaking & mothering helps for less than $30 sounds like a steal, then make sure to go HERE to see exactly what it includes and grab yours before this deal ends!

This post contains affiliate links.

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned – Some Encouragement

When things don't go as planned

My goal with Eat at Home is to give simple, easy ways for families to have dinner together.  Family meals don’t need to be complicated.

But there are times in our lives when even the simplest of meals is a struggle.  If you find yourself feeling stretched-out and worn-out sometimes, this blog post is for you.   I wrote part of this for a blog post awhile back when I was struggling a lot with migraines.

There are seasons in life when focusing on meal planning and cooking (or anything beyond the bare basics) is not the right timing. 

Some seasons call for survival mode.

Here are some things that have gotten my family through survival mode seasons.  Maybe some of these ideas will help you too.

1.  Be kind with yourself.

It’s okay to cut things out of the calendar, pare down the housework to bare minimum, and have the easiest dinners ever.  

2.  Fall back to your easiest meals.

If you find something you or a family member can easily make and that is tolerated on a sick stomach, it’s okay to have it regularly.  There’s no prize for variety in this season.

3.  Don’t worry about big grocery trips.

I usually shop once a week and try to keep extra trips to a minimum.  During hard times, it can seem impossible to think through what we might need or want more than a couple days out.  Small trips to the store may be easier for a while.

4.  When you start to feel better…

~ Make a plan for simple meals.  The slow cooker is your friend, as it can be loaded in the morning when energy is higher.

~ Set backs happen.  Try not to get discouraged as you recover.  Focus on the progress you’re making.  If you need to grab food from a restaurant one night, it’s okay.

~ As your energy returns, try making something simple to stock the freezer.  You’ll feel good about accomplishing something and you’ll have something easy and homemade for later.  Try doubling a favorite casserole or soup recipe or make a big batch of homemade meatballs.

As moms, we can be so hard on ourselves.  It’s too easy to focus on what’s not working – the dinner that didn’t get fixed, dishes that didn’t get washed etc.  We get down on ourselves for those things.  We tend to think we should have it all together.

Let’s be kinder to ourselves, just as we would be kind to a friend going through the same thing.

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Easy Soup Toppings Bar Ideas

Bear Creek soup toppings buffet

Soup is one of our favorite meals. I didn’t think we could like it any more than we do until we added a soup toppings bar.

We’ve had a lot of snowy weather lately. One day for lunch, I pulled a packet of Bear Creek Creamy Potato Soup from the pantry. I decided to add a bunch of topping options to go along with the soup.

Bear Creek soup with toppings

Next to the pot of soup – we aren’t too fancy around here – I put small bowls of different toppings:

  • Bacon bits
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced green onions and diced red onion
  • Oyster crackers
  • Croutons

All those toppings made the soup even better. For some reason, I’d never had croutons in soup before. That is a great combo!

The toppings bar is a really easy way to add to your soup lunch or dinner. I just pulled things from the fridge and pantry that I had on hand.

Bear Creek Soup Mix

We chose Creamy Potato for our soup lunch, but Bear Creek offers quite a few other flavors too. These are great for kids who want to make a meal. Or for adults who want something quick. Making a pot of soup is really quick with Bear Creek.

Bear Creek toppings bar

What are your favorite soup toppings?

 

 Bear Creek Country Kitchens began over 20 years ago with one goal in mind: to create home-style soups that will satisfy every appetite.  Combining high-quality ingredients and a special blend of spices, Bear Creek soups are delicious and easy to prepare. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bear Creek Soups. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Game Day Recipes

Every where you turn, there’s talk about the big game coming up. Everyone is gearing up for what seems sure to be quite the match. And me? Well, I’m not really a football fan. But I am most certainly a fan of anything that gives me a chance to make some fun food and for everyone to get together to enjoy it. And game nights, especially big game day nights, are perfect for fun food.

I thought, in honor of the game, I’d share some of our favorites with you. There’s lots of easy loaded nachos, some great dips and a couple of football themed recipes to add some flair to the party.

One of the common denominators between all of these recipes is they are finger friendly and snacky, making them perfect for snacking and watching at the same time. Those are two big requirements in our house for game day food!

Whatever team you are routing for, I hope you enjoy a good time with your family and friends…and some good eats too! May the best team win.
gameday

Easy Game Day Recipes

  1. 7 Layer End Zone Dip
  2. Roasted Garlic Hummus
  3. Sweet Heat Chex Mix
  4. 15 Minute Italian Nachos
  5. 15 Minute BBQ Chicken Nachos
  6. 7 Layer Hot Italian Dip
  7. Chipotle Chile Chicken Nachos
  8. Easy Homemade Salsa
  9. Homemade Beer Cheese
  10. Easy SNackadium for Superbowl
  11. Pesto Bruschetta Spread
  12. Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter Dip
  13. Guacamole
  14. Baked Potato Dip
  15. Basil Tomato Dip
  16. Sausage and Corn Quesadillas
  17. 15 Minute Gluten Free Pizza

P.S And if you are one of those who believes that game day is just for pizza, there’s a lot of pizza recipes on the blog you could try. I love the Chicken Alfredo Pizza! 

pingame

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Have you ever really tasted canned tomatoes?

Red Gold product cutting supplies

Canned tomatoes are a staple ingredient for me, and for most of you too.  I have a whole drawer in my pantry dedicated to various tomato products.

But somehow, I’d never given much thought to the differences in quality of those products.  Until now.

Red Gold sent me a product cutting kit to test their whole, peeled tomatoes against Hunt’s brand.  I took a bunch of photos so you can see the difference.

Red Gold can open

The first thing I did was open the Red Gold can.  The photo above is exactly as it was when I opened it.  Four nice looking, whole tomatoes were near the top.  The media (juice) looked red and I noticed a good tomato scent.

Red Gold tomatoes in pan

I poured the Red Gold tomatoes into the provided pan.  All the tomatoes were whole and looked very good.  There was one tomato that was much smaller than the others, but overall they were uniform in size.

Red Gold product cutting Hunt's can open

Next I opened the Hunt’s can.  This is exactly what it looked like when I opened it.  I couldn’t see any whole tomatoes at the top of the can.  The media (juice) looked thick and red though.

Red Gold product cutting Hunt's in pan

I poured the Hunt’s can into the pan.  There were a few whole tomatoes, but many were squished.

Red Gold product cutting side by side

Above is a side-by-side photo so you can see the differences.

Appearance ratings:

On the Red Gold score sheet, there are five different ratings for appearance.  Each is rated on a scale of five, with 1 being poor and 5 being extraordinary.

Red Color of Tomatoes

The brighter the hue of red, the higher the score.  I gave both Red Gold and Hunt’s a score of 4 on this.

Uniformity of the Size of Tomatoes

The less variation in size, the higher the score.  I gave Red Gold 5 on this.  Hunt’s earned 3.  It was hard to tell if the Hunt’s tomatoes were uniform in size, because many of them were squished or in pieces.

Tomato Integrity

The more firm the tomatoes look, the higher the score.  Red Gold earned 5.  Hunt’s earned 2.

Amount of Peel and Seeds Present in Sample

The less peel and seeds, the higher the score. Red Gold earned 5, because I saw no peel or seeds.  Hunt’s earned 1. On of the Hunt’s tomatoes still had most of the peel on it. Another had a significant amount of peel.  I also saw many seeds in the Hunt’s.

Media

The red and thick juice is the media. The better the color and consistency, the higher the score.  This is the only indicator that Hunt’s may have edged out Red Gold.  Hunt’s media was very thick and red, almost like tomato sauce.  I gave it a rating of 4.  Red Gold’s media looked good, but it is a bit thinner and lighter than Hunt’s.  I gave it a score of 3.

Flavor ratings:

The final two ratings on the score sheet are for flavor.  For this rating, a tomato from each can is cut in half.  Notice the appearance, then taste for flavor.

Red Gold cut in half

The flavor of Red Gold tomatoes is very good.  It’s bright and not far off from a fresh picked tomato.

Red Gold product cutting Hunt's cut in half

Hunt’s tomatoes did not taste good.  I was pretty surprised by how badly they tasted.  There was a distinct metallic taste.  They tasted like an old can.  Not good.

Intensity of Tomato Flavor

The more tomato flavor, the higher the score.  Red Gold earned a score of 5.  Hunt’s earned a score of 2.

Attributes

Tomatoes should taste garden fresh without any off notes.  Red Gold earned 5 here.  I could easily eat a plate of these by themselves.  I gave Hunt’s a score of 1.  They just really weren’t good.

Score totals:

Red Gold – 32

Hunt’s 17

I was very surprised at the difference between the brands.

Red Gold is Non GMO certified and uses a Non-BPA Liner for their cans.  Both of these add to the quality of the tomatoes.

Have you ever tried Red Gold tomatoes?  The next time you open a can, take a bite before adding them to your recipe.  I’d love to know what you think.

Disclosure:  Red Gold sent me the product cutting kit.  I have been compensated by Red Gold for this post, however all opinions are my own.

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National Soup Month with Bear Creek Dry Soup Mixes (and a giveaway!)

Bear Creek Soup with a cozy fire

The first part of our winter was so warm and nice.  We had to turn the heat off in the house on Christmas day so we could enjoy a fire that morning.

Now that we’re well into January, the weather has shifted.  It’s 12 degrees outside right now, with snow in the forecast for tomorrow.  Brrr!  No wonder some smart person set January as National Soup Month.

I love any kind of soup.  Paired with a salad or warm bread – or paired with a fire in the fireplace – soup warms both body and soul.

Bear Creek Soup Mix

I’ve shared Bear Creek Soup Cups with you before.  But I also really like their soup mixes that make a whole pot to share with the family.  These are wonderful for stocking the pantry, so you can have soup anytime you need a quick lunch or dinner.  My youngest son is home with a bad cold today, so I’ll be making the Chicken Noodle Soup for his lunch.

Bear Creek Soups are so easy to make and they only take minutes.

Bear Creek Soup

Last week we had Creamy Chicken Soup by the fire while it snowed outside.  The Creamy Chicken Soup has small shell pasta in it, so it’s filling as well as being warm and tasty.

Giveaway on Instagram

Bear Creek Foods has another giveaway for you this month!  Submit a photo on Instagram showcasing you all bundled up in your winter gear for the chance at a winter warm-up, a month’s worth of Bear Creek Dry Soup Mixes!  Tag Bear Creek (@bearcreekfoods) and use the hashtags #NationalSoupMonth and #WinterWarmUp

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bear Creek Soups. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Healthy Soup & Salad Combo for Winter

Sometimes in the middle of winter, I feel like we hit the doldrums. It’s cold outside, everyone seems to be catching a bug–and I really just want spring and fresh, garden produce to be here already!
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That’s when I like to pull out one of my favorite mid-winter combos from my blog:

Virus Killing Soup and Detox Salad.

The soup is a wonderful way to warm up on a cold, blustery day. And the broth is full of vitamins and nutrients to help us get well if we’re feeling down, or keep us well by fighting off the bad bugs going around. Detox Salad is chock full of vegetables. The dark, green leafy ingredients are also filled with great vitamins, and really give a great boost after the holidays. Plus, even if the names aren’t the most exciting, the soup and salad both taste amazing! We always enjoy dinnertime when this is on the menu.

This combo is one of the many soup + salad recipe parings in the FREE eBook, Soup & Salad of the Week. If you want a copy, just click the image below and enter your email address and we’ll get one off to you

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