Monday, February 29, 2016

Spinach, Pear, and Smoked Gouda Salad

What is better than crunchy greens, sweet fruit, and smokey cheese?  Not much in my book, which is why this simple salad and dressing make the perfect lunch or a tasty precursor to any dinner.

The salad ingredients:
Sliced Pear
Smoked Gouda

Rinse your greens, in this case spinach, first in cold water.  You can buy the pre-washed stuff in the bag, but the bunches are usually less expensive and haven't been treated.  Spinach can be sandy, so sometimes I will soak it in a bath of ice water.  Then dry; you can use a spinner or just let it drip on a towel.

Next core and thinly slice the pear.  I only used half a pear for this salad, so the other half was quartered for Schmurtz's lunch the next day.  Top with sliced smoked Gouda cheese right before serving to prevent the salad and cheese from becoming slimy.  I sliced the Gouda, but you could shave or shred.

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 Teaspoon of honey

Whisk together.  I did this in a measuring cup before transferring to the dressier table service.  I also prefer to allow each person to dress their own salad as little or as much as they like.  

Both of the girls loved it, and there was even enough for me to take for lunch the next day.

Premium balsamic is worth its weight because a little holds a big punch.  This is the balsamic we used.


We received a sample of the balsamic vinegar used in this post for review and use in a recipe, but all words and opinions are 100% our own.  This post contains affiliate links from which we will earn a small commission at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting our endeavor if you choose to shop.
The Mummy Toolbox

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

House Autry Chicken-Fried Steak and Country Gravy

Breading your steaks before frying can hold in juices while adding a crunchy texture.  In addition it helps in the making of country gravy.  House Autry chicken breading makes one mouth-watering chicken friend steak.

Each and every dinner should begin with a collection of your ingredients.  I used House Autry chicken breading to coat my steaks.

After pounding the steaks until they are about 1/4 thick and timing the excess fat (this is more for my picky family than necessary for cooking), I soaked the steaks in buttermilk.

I then rolled each steak in the House Autry breading.  I only used about half the box, so we have some to use next time as well.

Typically I place the breading on a plate and place each steak individually on the plate, flipping it once, and making sure to cover every face of the item I am breading.

A screaming hot cast iron skillet with 1/4 inch of oil is the best way to fry the steaks and make the gravy.  After cooking each steak for 3-4 minutes on each side, place the steaks to drain.

Before starting the gravy, drain any excess oil from the pan leaving only the drippings.  Add your flour and cook for two minutes while scraping up any bits still left in the pan.  Then add your evaporated milk and cook on low until it thickens then salt and pepper to taste.

I paired our chicken-fried steak and country gravy with roasted potatoes with peppers, cheesy garlic bread, and steamed broccoli

This dinner was simple enough to please my girls while fancy enough for my wife, who likes something a little fancier when I am home to cook.  The leftover gravy was fabulous on biscuits for breakfast.



I have received a complimentary game to review.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!

The Mummy Toolbox

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Teenager School Day Birthday Gift

Our middle daughter, Potumus, turned fifteen this week.  I wanted to do something very special for her.   She just finished her first semester of high school and had some great successes and some struggles.

I teach at the same high school where she attends, so I had a time advantage making something happen at school since I am there all day, but every teacher I know would gladly help you celebrate your child's birthday the same way--just ask.

During secret Santa week for the staff, one of my coworkers sent our counselor a soda an hour for the whole day.  I decided to steal this idea for our daughter.

I arranged for every teacher during her seven-hour day to have a gift for her at the start of class.  Every one of her teachers was more than willing to participate.

A bag of homemade Valentine rice crispy treats.  There were enough for her to share with her friends at lunch.  Apparently they were more excited about this than she was.

A bag full of jewelry from Oriental Trading Company with a note to share with her whole class.  I knew this would take a few minutes out of class, so I checked to make sure that was okay.  While our shy one wanted the teacher to help pass them out, I know she enjoyed the appreciation from her classmates, who I saw later that day wearing the beads.

She is always thrilled when our Nature Box arrives, so when we got our box last weekend, I made sure to order a couple of times that I knew she would love and set them aside.  I wrapped up the dark chocolate berry trail mix for her.  She must have enjoyed it because I never saw the bag.

I wrapped up her favorite beverage, root beer, so she would have one to enjoy during her passing time and lunch hour.  I also got her another one that night at dance class.

Every year when we visit Mackinaw Island I buy an extra large bag of chocolate covered popcorn.   Then I hide it and eat it all.  While what I have linked isn't the same as that from the island, it is the best I can get this time of year.

This one was easy: her favorite chips- sour cream and onion Pringles.  

 I texted her teacher the night before (once again these are my coworkers, so I have their numbers) and asked permission for the final hurah: cupcakes for the whole class.

I just received a new silicone cupcake bundle and thought this was the perfect opportunity to try it our.  I had a six-muffin silicone pan years ago, but I threw it out because after several uses it was grossly stained.  It was also super flimsy and needed a cookie sheet underneath it to prevent spillage.  The new pan was wonderful.  I did not bake directly in it, but I used cupcake papers.  The pan was very sturdy and washed up beautifully in our dishwasher.

The night before her birthday I was up late making over thirty cupcakes for her last hour Freshman Academy class.  I filled all three muffin pans that I had, so I could bake them all at once.  When they were done, I set them out in our enclosed entry to cool, so I could frost them sooner.

One of the best parts of this whole gift was getting all her teachers in on it.  By the time last hour rolled around and I showed up with three pans of cupcakes she was grinning from ear to ear.  Even the wrestlers who were competing that night took a cupcake for later.

If you have a teenager, I would certainly recommend creating an all day birthday gift.

This post features the following product:

 I have received a complimentary sample of this product to review.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Happy 15th Birthday Potumus

In honor of her 15th birthday today, a poem I wrote over 8 years ago for my little girl. Inspired by those ABC books about places, events, and people, it was written during my summer at the National Writing Project Tip of the Mitt.


A_____, the name we chose
Beautiful baby now growing up
Curious about the world around her
Determined to do on her own
Everyday a new discovery
Forever in my heart
Girly-girl through and through
Her beauty and smile warm my core
Intelligent she is becoming more
Joy and bliss are her companions
Kind and temperate is her world
Love always be with her
My world has changed since her appearance
Never will anything harm her if I have the power
Optimistic are her little blue shining eyes
Pursed are the crimson lips when she is upset
Quite the little princess we tell her
Rooms filled with books and toys
Sundresses, flip-flops, and bows
Together we walk hand in hand
Undeterred is she from her wants
Voice rings as she has discovered music
Woman, Wonderful Woman she will become
Youthfulness abounds
Zoos, museums, nations, and nature I share with her

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Packing Lunches with Cutie Lunch

 I have received a complimentary set to review.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

Squeezable fruit sauces are a huge hit at our house.  Schmurtz loves any food that she can squeeze out of a bag directly into her mouth: yogurt, ice cream, apple sauce, etc., so when I had the opportunity to try some reusable pouches, I jumped at the opportunity.  Cutie Lunch Reusable Pouches are our new favorite lunch item.

In past years I have seen several social media posts about kids getting rotten fruit pouches or pre-packaged drinks.  Now, I have NEVER had that happen, but I can see how it can be a concern for parents.  I personally don't like living in fear of something awful happening because it could happen anywhere with anything.  

However, these are perfect for you and your family if this is a concern of yours.
 Cutie Lunch Reusable Pouches are super easy to use.  I bought two big jars of apple sauce: one plain and one berry flavored.  Each pack of pouches comes with four, so I can do them all at once and store them in the fridge.  I appreciate having multiples because dishes don't always get done in a timely manner (this is why I have two coffee cups for work)

The top of Cutie Lunch Reusable Pouches are just like a pouch you buy pre-filled.  It has a spout and a screw-on top.  The difference in in the bottom, which has a heavy zipper like a food storage bag.  At first I was concerned about the pouch's ability to hold up to a little girls' lunch box, but so far so good, and her lunch box takes a beating.

Another feature of Cutie Lunch Reusable Pouches that I personally like is that they are dishwasher safe.  I do not want anything that I can't run through the dishwasher.  My chef husband had a hard time convincing me that some items (cutting boards, chef's knives, and cast iron) should not be run through the dishwasher.  Once again I was concerned about Cutie Lunch Reusable Pouches holding up, but they came out of the top rack of our dishwasher just like they went in.


What kinds of things do your kids like in their lunches?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cookbook: The Mexican Slow Cooker

The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider provides tasty recipes for authentic Mexican cuisine that can be prepared in any slow cooker.  

Mexican food is a weekly menu item at our house and usually consists of tacos, enchiladas, or fajitas.  It was nice to have new recipes to try out that didn't take any more time that our usual Mexican staples.

Every recipe in this book is very authentic and some are not the recipes you typically find in Mexican restaurants in the United States.  Any home cook can be successful with these recipes while creating authentic flavor. All of Deborah Schneider's recipes provide straight-forward instructions with easy-to-follow steps.

Because the ingredients in the recipes are authentic Mexican (epazote, cotija cheese, etc) and not chain-store substitutions, you may have to visit a Mexican grocer (these exists in most major cities) to gather some ingredients.  There are many options available to substitute ingredients in her comprehensive glossary of ingredients if there is something you cannot find.

One of the best features is the full page, color photographs of the recipes made our mouths water as we tried to choose what to try first in our slow cooker.  Also, she provides the Spanish names of the recipes with an English translation right below, so while you are expanding your horizons, you can also be sure of what you are cooking.

Some of our favorite recipes include:
Sopa Azteca (Chicken Soup with Tortillas and Avacado)
Chili Verde (Pork in Green Chile Salsa)
Torta del Tamal (Tamal Pie)
Carne con Rajas (Slow cooker fajitas)

The Mexican Slow Cooker is perfect for the cook looking to branch out of traditional Mexican-American cuisine.

 I have received a complimentary copy of this book to review from the publisher.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Stitch Fix January 2016

Stitch Fix is my favorite mail to get every month.  I know that my closet has gone from drab to fab in the last year.

What is Stitch Fix?
It is a styling service that for $20 (which gets credited towards any items you keep) you get five items hand-selected for you by a stylist.  You fill out a style profile and link a Pinterest board, so your stylists know what you like.  If you are interested in trying out this service, please use my referral link as I can get credit for sending you their way.

After a slightly disappointing box in October, I have taken my husband's advice and requested fewer specifics because when I have more general requests, I seem to get better boxes.

I was most excited about this plaid top when I peeked at what was coming in my fix.

I paired it with my new black pants from The Loft and black boots.  I liked the outfit as whole, but I really was hoping for a brighter plaid.  Also the fabric was a little stiff for my taste.  Overall, it was a good option, but it wasn't as perfect as I expect my items to be to keep them.

Skies are Blue Yancy Plaid Top $58 RETURNED


This sweater was a great piece.  I paired it with my new black pants from The Loft, my Ballasox flats, and my daughter's cat ears at the request of my husband, who did my pictures.

I was never in to animal print, but I bought these flats for a great prices.  Then a friend got me a scarf to match them, so I am now an animal print person.  I did like this sweater, but I felt that it might be too much leopard print.  To be hones, I kinds of wish I had kept it, but oh well.

Fate Davis Leopard Print Button Up Cardigan $58 RETURNED


I was very apprehensive about this scarf when I pulled it out of the box.  The fringe just looked like too much.

I paired this with my jean jacket from The Loft, my Ballasox, and my pants from a previous fix.

Once I got the scarf on, I fell in love with it.  I don't have a scarf this chunky or this color.  However, my husband was the voice of reason and suggested I make one as I knit often in the winter.  So, this one went back in the box and I bought to skeins of yard for $10 to make my own.

Look by M Mateo Fringe Infinity Scarf $34 RETURNED


It is no dress season here in Michigan, so I did wonder what my stylist was thinking in sending this dress.

Well, whatever she was thinking was great because this is the perfect dress.  It is funny to me because I am not a dress person, but I now own like five dresses from Stitch Fix that all get regular wear.

The fabric on this dress was super soft and it fit as though it were made fore me.  I don't currently own a black dress (I know, I know), so this was a must-add item to my closet.

Gilli Kamile Jersey Rouched Detail Dress $54 KEPT 


The last item I received was this navy cardigan.  It had pockets, which was neat, but I could not get past the fabric.  The fabric was actually better on the inside than the outside.  The outside of mine looked matted. As I already own a navy cardigan, I passed.

Olive and Oak Waks Open Cardigan $68 RETURNED 


Here is the newest message I left for my stylist.

Be sure to follow my Pinterest Stitch Fix Board:

If you are interested, please use my referral link as I get a credit for letting you know about Stitch Fix.

I would love to know more about you in order to help you more: Do you Stitch Fix already?  What brought you to my post?  What kinds of pieces should I try in my wardrobe?

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