Butterfly Fund

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Building your own survival library

I found this article and made a few changes to it. I am sorry, I do not remember where I found it.

Knowledge is power and this power will bring you up when everything around you crumbles. We stockpile food and water, we hoard the things we might need during a disaster and we equip our armory so that we could fend off a small army. What are you doing about hoarding knowledge? You’ve started learning about first aid, about gardening, about wood crafting and other skills you might need, but one cannot learn everything. This is why you need to build your own Survival library.

Today, we have all sorts of books that have gathered the hard-learned lessons of the previous generations, you can learn about gardening, about off-grid living and about anything you desire. And the best part is that this knowledge is available to you for literally pennies.

Every prepper should put some effort into developing his own how-to library, including how to books with things that you never thought of doing. You don’t have to go for the survival books or the newest field guides, since most of these books are either too specific or are just re-cycled old books in new clothes and with “updated” prices.

You should pick up books on gardening, building a root cellar, composting, gunsmithing, etc. – actual skills that can be used regardless of the area you live in. You never know what the future will bring and you might have to bug-out at a certain point. If that will be the case, you need to bring with you a set of skills or proper knowledge that can help you survive and thrive with what can be found in your new environment. Knowing how to fix a flat tire will help you regardless if you are in the desert or in the mountains. A good Survival library will help you survive and thrive in the end.

You can MANY books at used book stores for a fraction of the new cost!

You should concentrate on collecting the following types of books:

First aid books

When it comes to first aid books there are a lot of choices and you have training manuals for anything, from disaster preparedness to how to deliver a baby. You need to get the books that cover most of the medical emergencies, you may encounter and the books that provide solutions to the illnesses you or your loved ones are suffering from. In my collection, amongst other books, I have The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook, which can be purchased from Amazon, for a few pennies. Once you’ve got your first aid books, don’t put them on the shelf like most people who get them. You should read them and try to become familiar with their content and every time you have the occasion, you should practice! You should try to treat your wounds every time you can, unless of course, it’s a medical emergency that you can’t handle. You should also try to attend to as many first aid classes as possible, because besides gaining useful knowledge you will also get the reading material offered during these courses.

Cooking books

Cooking is art and cooking with scraps is survival. But who says you can’t have both? There are thousands of books available out there, that will teach you how to cook new dishes from the same old stuff. You should get books that are general, that do not cover cooking with a stove or a microwave since those facilities will not always be around. Get the books that offer a large variety of recipes. You should look at the ingredients from your pantry, at your family habits and then you can select some books that cover all your needs. You should try cooking more at home and gain experience when it comes to mixing ingredients. You don’t need to become a chef, you just need to be sure you know enough so that cooking will not be a problem.

Canning and Food preservation books

This is a hot topic for preppers and being able to preserve food in good conditions and enjoying it during a time of need is something everyone wants. Safety should be a priority when it comes to canning as you don’t want to get sick from eating spoiled food. One or two general canning books should be a must for every prepper. Besides teaching you the techniques, these books will also provide you with a wish list containing all the items needed for canning. You should also get some books that cover specific topics such as making jellies, curing meat, preserving dairy and so on. The American diet varies from region to region and it’s best to know how to prepare and preserve foods that are grown locally. Supermarkets will not always be there and you will have to make use of what you grow or trade with your neighbors.

Crafts books

The future may bring back the doings of the old days and handiwork will play a major part in the life of every prepper. You will need to learn how to craft a chicken coop, or learn basic camping crafts. Here everything goes and it’s better to pick the books you think may come in handy one day. Maybe you’re not into woodworking, but once you read a book about this skill, your perception will change and you could find a use for this skill in the future. If you will have to barter and when you will be running low on supplies, putting your skills at work will be your only chance of doing business.
Nature books

Books about wild plants and animals will be of great help for you and your family when foraging and hunting will be the main food procurement method. It doesn’t hurt to know which are the wild edible plants, where to find these plants and when to harvest them. Knowing the difference between an edible mushroom and a poisonous one will save you a lot of trouble. The same goes for hunting and fishing, you are never too old to learn a thing or two about how can you hunt or fish.

Homesteaders’ encyclopedias

You need some good books that can provide you with information regarding livestock and gardening. When it comes to homesteading, you want your books to cover as many subjects as possible since you will be taking decisions based on the learning it provided. There are also a lot of homesteading communities on the internet that provide good reading materials, that you should print and store for later use. The more information you have about homesteading the easier it will be for you to face an unknown scenario.

Gardening books

Your homesteading books should cover all the basic steps of gardening and you should be able to work with those books. However, after some time you should change your perspective and get some specialty books that can help you get a better crop. Try to get some books on composting, soil management, seed harvesting, natural pest control and companion planting. If gardening will be your main source of food you want to gather as much knowledge as possible regarding gardening, otherwise you will starve.

Specialty books on small livestock

If you grew up on a farm you know how difficult is to raise cattle and horses, and you probably have a good idea of what it implies. If a farm is a totally new environment for you, then jumping into raising large farm animals might not be for you. Large farm animals can prove to be a disaster if not handled correctly, so you should save yourself the trouble and start with something else. You should try your luck with chickens and ducks, rabbits and even goats as they are a good starter livestock. You can find books about animal care, shelter, diseases, meat processing, etc. Think it through and start with something small, something that you can handle.
Home repair books

Things will break down as nothing lasts forever. And when it does happen, you will need to know how to repair it or learn to live without it. I remember that my grandparents used to repair anything that needed repairing and they didn’t need any help to do it. Compared to them, I have to look up on the internet if something needs fixing and try my luck with the information I can get. Books on plumbing, wiring and carpentry will become valuable resources when things break down and it will help you become a better handyman. Any book that can help you maintain what you own will be a great addition to your Survival library.

Kids – Fiction books

When there will be no electricity, your PlayStation will be just a shiny box and you and your kids will have to find other ways of entertainment. And since survival is not only about eating beans at candlelight you will have to stockpile something to help you pass the time, especially for the kids. Some good fiction books will do wonders for your family during down times. Reading a good book helps you relax, it stimulates your imagination and can provide you with good ideas that you could use in real life. When it comes to good books you have to keep in mind and chose the ones that have lasted over time, the good stuff always lasts in time.

Some useful tips for your Survival library:

    Do not go digital all the way, your IPad filled with valuable books might someday break and you will lose all your precious books. It’s better to go with paper as it will last longer.
    If you insist on keeping your books in digital format, make sure you have a backup plan. Put your books on a USB stick so you can always have a copy of your books.
    Get as many free books as possible; the internet is full of them. All you need to have is time and patience, to search for the books you need.
    SHARE THIS ARTICLE with your friends and people who are into preparedness and ask them if they have some of the books listed above. They can help you increase your book collection.
    Always buy during sales, go on Amazon and add the books you like to your wish list. Keep an eye on it and be ready for any sale periods.
    Get yourself a sturdy printer so that you can print the books and articles you find on the Internet. Getting one during sales it’s a good idea, I got mine during Black Friday with a 70% discount.
    Your library doesn’t have to be fancy, it has to be useful. Don’t put too much time and money into folders, elaborate notebooks and other items.
    Make sure your Survival library is light and portable as you might need to carry it in your bug out bag.

If you don’t have a Survival library, don’t worry! It’s never too late to build one and with the information provided in this article you should be able to start without any difficulties. Remember that good knowledge is everything when it comes to survival. You should start building your Survival library today!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Things you should never buy new

Spring and summer means you'll be seeing lots of yard sales, which also means you can find a lot of great deals, but as much as we all love a bargain, it can be tough to decide which items are worth buying from someone else. Here are a few things that you should avoid buying new.

First, let's start with tools. Not only are they durable, they're also easy to find at yard sales. instead of spending $10 on a new hammer, you could find a used one for a buck. Just be sure to stick to the simple stuff. Anything with a motor can wear out quickly, so only buy power tools from someone you trust.

Next, if you or your children are trying a sport for the first time, check out a garage sale before springing for a new pair of skis or a tennis racquet that you might not use a lot. The same goes for weights and other basic exercise equipment. Most of these items are sturdy and built to last. Just be careful with electronic gym equipment, like treadmills. They can be great bargains, but you should inspect them very closely before deciding to buy one that's used.

When it comes to furniture, wood is definitely the way to go. It's easy to clean, plus you can sand it, paint it and decorate it to give it your own unique look. Not only will you be saving money, but there's a good chance that an older piece of wooden furniture is built better than what you'll find in a store. Stay away from mattresses and anything with upholstery, though. Not only are they tough to clean, they might carry bed bugs as well.

Musical instruments.. Your child is entering the musical part of their schooling. You need a trumpet, trombone, flute, etc.. look for them used or to rent first. But, do NOT get tied into a contract when renting. Your child may decide that this instrument is NOT for them.

Finally, if you or your kids love to read, buying new books all the time can add up. Unless you're planning on building a library, save money by buying used books at yard sales. You can also go online and find lots of websites that sell secondhand books in good condition for cheap. When you're finished reading, you can list them yourself to recoup some of your expenses.

Before you buy something brand new, remember these tips to avoid overspending. If you know what to look for, you can find hand-me-downs that are just as good as new and cost just a fraction of the price.

Diet, Is DIE with a "T"

Diet, is DIE with a "T"

The following is my PERSONAL OPINION!
This is NOT a proven theory, but what works for me personally!

I see many people "dieting". I see these people starving themselves literally, starving their bodies of precious nutrients, and basically killing themselves.

At one time, I weighed 285. Yes, I was very large. Now, I weigh about 160. I am NOT a "skinny-Minnie", but I am at least healthy again!

Too many people start diets that send them down an avenue of deprivation, starvation, and plain idiocy!

If you remove ALL the fun foods, good foods, and yes, just food, you are NOT going to maintain that diet!

You must feed your body, as well as your mind and soul, in the process of losing weight!
You MUST do some type of exercise. This does NOT mean you have to get out and run 50 miles a day, or lift 500 pounds a week to do this. Get up and actually MOVE! Find a way to increase your heart rate for a bit!
For me, this is gardening, dancing through my housework, and actually just going to work. I play fetch with my dogs, I enjoy walking, and for a while I studied Tae Kwon Do. You have to find what works for you. I have bad knees and arthritis, so impact anything, hurts! Where I live now, I do not have access to swimming, so I walk. 

Learn to EAT! Eat REAL food! Cut back on the processed foods. Yes, they are treats, and yes you can have them, but limit their quantities and what time of day you do eat them.

You MUST have fats in your diet. Get away from margarine. Learn to use REAL butter again. Learn how to cook with olive and coconut oils.

You MUST have protein in your diet. LOTS of protein! And try to ALWAYS eat lots of protein when you are eating carbohydrates. More protein then the carbs!  The protein will fill you up and keep you full LONGER!!! Also, protein builds and maintains muscle!!!

Yes, have your treats! I adore ice cream! I now purchase or make REAL ice cream. get away from the FAKE FOODS!!! Your bod knows how to process real food, but gets confused when trying to process fake foods.

Learn how to cook!! Eat vegetables! Green leafy veggies are the best, but I adore corn and potatoes also. The biggest difference, is that I eat REAL foods again!

Learn how to cut back on your portions. Yes, I believe that the portions that the nutritionists say you are supposed to have are way too small, but I have cut way back. Look at your plates. Can you get one size smaller? too many of us have absolutely HUGE dinner plates. Make the plates smaller, and the serving size looks larger.

And the biggest advice I have for you? DRINK WATER!!!! LOTS OF WATER!!! At least 2 gallons a day if you are able to do so. You will rehydrate your system, flush out the toxins, and if you drink 1-2 cups before each meal, you will cut back on your portions!

Again, these are my personal opinions.

Have a blessed day!

No Churn Peach Sorbet

No Churn Peach Sorbet


  • 6 large, ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Peel and slice peaches, then freeze until firm.
  2. Stir sugar into 3/4 cup water and blend with frozen peaches, along with lemon juice and salt, until creamy and smooth. Eat immediately soft-serve-style, or freeze in a loaf pan up to 3 days.

No Churn Cookie Monster Ice Cream

No Churn Cookie Monster Ice Cream

This super simple kid friendly No Churn Cookie Monster Ice cream is loaded with Oreo cookies and chocolate chip cookies. Super simple recipe with NO Ice Cream Maker needed. The bright blue color is a HUGE hit with the kiddos. Parents, the blue color might be a bit bright for you but this ice cream is super delish.

2 cup Heavy Cream
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tbsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Blue Food Coloring
20 Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (like Oreos)
15 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Break up 15 sandwich cookies and 10 chocolate chip cookies and set aside.
Whip heavy cream, food coloring and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
Beat in condensed milk until color is uniform. Add additional food coloring if needed.
Fold in broken cookies and transfer to loaf pan.
Break up all remaining cookies and use to decorate top of pan.
Place in freezer for at least 5 hours.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Homemade Fertilizers for your Plants

Homemade Fertilizers for your Plants

Fish-Emulsion Fertilizer

Why: Fish guts, bones, and heads are good sources of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and amino acids.

How: During the year, collect and freeze fish parts, leftover tuna, and sardines so you’ll have enough to make gallons of fish emulsion in spring.

Add 1 part fish to 2 parts water in an airtight container, and place it a sunny spot far from your house (because it’ll stink). Stir every two days as the soup cooks; in about two weeks, apply to your garden soil at 3 gal./100 sq. ft. Leafy greens, beets, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli love it.

Peeing On Your Veggies

Why: Sounds gross, but human urine is rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate, a well-balanced meal for plants. Rose gardeners know their flowers love it. Fresh urine from a healthy person is sterile, so you can feed it to veggies, too.

How: Pee straight from the source is highly concentrated and can burn plants, much the way dog pee turns grass brown. Make sure you dilute it 1 part pee/10 parts water. Then soak plant roots. Good for leafy greens, cabbages, cucumbers, and roses.

Soak Your Plants in Epsom Salts

Why: Epsom salts consist of magnesium — critical for seed germination and chlorophyll production — and sulfur — key for protein production and plant growth. A dose of an Epsom salts solution increases fruit and flower production in roses, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and houseplants.

How: Combine 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water. Spray foliage with the solution for best results.

Save Your Wood Ash

Why: Wood ash not only adds calcium (good for root growth) and potassium (promotes seed and fruit formation) to soil, but it also raises the pH of highly acidic soil, making it friendlier to neutral pH-loving plants, such as most vegetables. (Don’t use it in blueberry gardens, which like acidic soil.)

How: Apply wood ash straight from the fireplace to your garden: Dig in 5 lbs./100 sq. ft.

Adding Crumbled Eggshells

Why: Eggshells are rich in calcium. A calcium deficiency in tomatoes will cause blossom rot, that ugly brown patch on the bottom of the fruit.

How: Place crumbled eggshells in the bottom of your planting hole, or dig them into the soil around the base of your tomato plant.

Bonus: If slugs plague your garden, place crumbled eggshells around the bottom of plants. The shards will cut the slimy pests.

Cow Pattie Tea for your plants

Cow Pattie Tea

  • Collect 5-10 patties. 

  • Soak in 5gallons of rain water for best results about 5 days.

  • Pour thru cheesecloth.

  • Do not drink.

  • Use to water your plants.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Did you know that soap you buy is really not GOOD SOAP???

Did you know that the regular soap you buy at the store is really not good soap at all?

When you purchase soap at the store for bathing, cleaning, etc, you are purchasing a chemical compound created by a company.

Soap manufacturers, (large corporations), remove the good things from soap, such as the glycerine, and replace it with other chemicals.

The smell good in soap is from chemical compounds, rather than natural essential oils.

Ever wonder why your skin is dry, cracked, and peeling? It is because when you bathe with store bought soap, you are bathing in chemicals.

Real soap, is made from three basic ingredients: Fat, water, and lye.

I make soap for The Butterfly Bonsai and for my family.
I have 3 basic recipes.
One for the hubby, one for me, and one for household cleaning.

I make soap for the family usually about 2X a year. Mainly, so that I never run out.

Soap 1: Hubby's Soap: Lard, coconut oil, water, lye, coffee grounds. Yep, that's it. The coffee grounds acts as an exfoliant. Like a pumice soap would work for cleaning super dirty mechanic's hands, the coffee grounds work the same way, except that they do NOT strip the callouses or scratch the skin. The natural glycerine that is created in the soap during the saponification process of making soap, leaves my husband's hands conditioned and smooth. The husband does want me to make the next batch with citrus oil, so I will be trying that one out for him.

For myself, I like to spoil myself a bit. I make a "luxury bar", that is made from: Lard, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, almond oil, olive oil, water, lye, and either lavender oil or peppermint oil.

For the household cleaning, I make a Castille Soap, that is made from: Olive oil, water, and lye.

Yes, soap making can be a bit intimidating, considering you are working with a nasty compound, lye. BUT, once you learn how to use it properly, it is much less scary, and you can create really cool soaps!

I do not make the "froo-froo" soaps with all the fancy designs, but because I do not spend all the extra time with artistic needs, I can keep my soap costs fairly low. I know ladies who command a rather large price for a single bar of soap due to how they look. While yes, these are gorgeous bars of soap, Once you use it, you are destroying the pretty look of the soap. So why would you use it? You are paying for something to look at, rather than use.
I want to purchase a soap I can use, that will clean me well, but is not going to cost a pretty penny!

What is the difference between handmade soaps & commercial bar soaps?

The two biggest differences are the glycerin in handmade soaps and the lack of detergents.
Glycerin is naturally produced during saponification. It’s a humectant which means it draws moisture from the air to your skin so it leaves your skin soft and moisturized. Commercial soaps remove the glycerin and sell it separately and/or use glycerin in more profitable products like moisturizers.
Detergents are synthetic often petroleum based cleansers whereas soap is simply oils and butters saponified with lye. I won’t get into the whole issue of polluting our water supply with detergents or my issues with petroleum byproducts. Detergents strip your skin, leaving it dry whereas soap cleanses without stripping.
Another issue with detergent based soaps is that the preservatives required to keep these acidic soaps from growing bacteria are toxic and drying as well. A well formulated handmade soap will outshine a detergent based bar soap any day!
If you are new to handmade soaps, you are in for a huge treat because they leave your skin feeling completely different than commercial soaps. I superfat all my soaps by about 5%, which means that I leave 5% extra oils/butters that doesn’t get turned into soap. Those extra oils/butters leave your skin moisturized.

So, if you are interested in great quality but relatively inexpensive handmade soap, stop by The butterfly Bonsai for a bar or 2...  My average pricing is $2-$3 a bar, versus the $5-$10 a bar for the "froo-froo" bars. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to properly pick a ripe watermelon

How to pick the sweetest and ripest watermelon.

Clicking on an ad will help fund this blog. It will not cost you anything.

Everyday I see people banging on watermelons trying to pick the best one. 

Here's the real deal on picking the sweetest Watermelon: 

1. Make sure it has a prominent yellow spot. This is where it sat on the ground ripening. 

No spot = premature pick = not ripe. 

2. Look for "webbing". This is the brown, course web looking materiel. This is caused when bees pollinate the flower and scar the membranes that later forms the fruit. 

The more pollination = more webbing = sweeter fruit. 

3. Look for black hard globs seeping out. This is sugar not insects or rotting. You're welcome

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Make your own spice/seasoning blends for pennies on the dollar!

Make your own spice and seasoning blends for pennies!


Chili Powder

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
Put into blender, (or not), and grind into a fine powder. Store in airtight jar/container.

Salt Free Cajun Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground paprika, sweet
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 small to medium bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Put into blender and grind into a fine powder. Store in airtight jar/container.

Herb Seasoning Blend (Works great for poultry)

  • 2 tbsp. basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. dried leaf oregano crushed
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
 Combine all and store in jar/airtight container.

Seasoned Salt

  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt or garlic powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Put into blender and grind into a fine powder. Store in airtight jar/container.

Taco Seasoning Blend

  • 1 tablespoon of minced dried onions
  • 2 teaspoons of  chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot paprika.

  1. Stir to blend.
  2. When using in a recipe, add salt, to taste.
  3. Makes the equivalent of a 1 1/4-ounce package of taco seasoning mix.
  4. Store in airtight jar/container

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Combine all and store in jar/airtight container.

Apple Pie Spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Combine all and store in jar/airtight container. 

Multi Purpose Spice Blend (For chicken, fish, and vegetables)

  • 5 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
Combine all and store in jar/airtight container. 

Blackened Seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 4 teaspoons dried leaf thyme
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to your taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all and store in jar/airtight container. (Shake well before each use.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Cream Cheese Cake Bites

Cream Cheese Cake Bites

Cream Cheese Cake Bites
  • Prep Time 60 min
  • Total Time 3 hr 20 min
  • Servings 66


1 box yellow cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
 3/4 cup cream cheese frosting
20 oz chocolate-flavored candy coating (from two 16-oz packages)
Assorted candy sprinkles


  • Heat oven to 350°F. Make and bake cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • In large bowl, crumble cake. Add frosting; mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls; place on wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Freeze about 45 minutes or until firm. Refrigerate to keep chilled.
  • In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave 8 oz of the candy coating uncovered on High 1 minute 30 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving and stirring in 15-second increments until melted and smooth.
  • Remove one-third of the balls at a time from refrigerator. Using 2 forks, dip and roll 1 ball at a time in coating. Place on wax paper-lined cookie sheet; immediately decorate with sprinkles. Refrigerate cake balls about 10 minutes or until coating is set. Melt remaining candy coating in 6-oz batches; dip remaining balls. (Reheat coating in microwave if it is too thick to coat.) Serve at room temperature. Store in airtight container.

Slow-Cooker Peanut Butter Cup Swirl Cake

Slow-Cooker Peanut Butter Cup Swirl Cake

Slow-Cooker Peanut Butter Cup Swirl Cake
  • Prep Time 20 min
  • Total Time 2 hr 50 min
  • Servings 12



1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup water
3 eggs
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chocolate-flavored syrup


3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons chocolate-flavored syrup
20 miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped and cut in half


  • Spray a 5- to 6-quart oval slow cooker with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, eggs, 1/2 cup peanut butter and the butter with electric mixer on low 30 speed seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl.
  • Remove 2/3 cup of the batter to medium bowl; stir in 1/2 cup chocolate syrup to make chocolate fudge batter.
  • Spoon 1/2 of the peanut butter batter into the slow cooker, followed by all of the chocolate fudge batter. Top with remaining peanut butter batter. Swirl with a knife in a circular motion.
  • Cover; cook on High heat setting 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Turn off slow cooker; uncover, and remove ceramic base from cooker to cooling rack. Let cool 15 minutes.
  • In medium bowl, beat 3 tablespoons peanut butter and 2 tablespoons milk with whisk until smooth. Add powdered sugar; mix until smooth. If necessary, gradually add additional 1 tablespoon milk until glaze is desired consistency. Spread peanut butter glaze over cake; drizzle with the chocolate syrup. Sprinkle peanut butter cups over top of cake.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Garlic Paste (Toum) Recipe

Garlic Paste (Toum)

Requirement: Must love garlic.

This is one of the more versatile condiments to have on hand. It can outlast the sprouting fresh garlic in your pantry and is at the ready for marinades, dips and sauces and as a spread for any savory sandwich. Its flavor will mellow only slightly over several weeks.
If you have access to a high-powered, commercial-grade food processor, the paste will turn out even fluffier and lighter than if you use a standard food processor.
Make Ahead: The garlic paste can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
  • Scant 2 cups peeled garlic cloves (from about 7 heads)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups soybean or canola oil, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup water
Combine the garlic cloves and salt in a food processor. Puree until as smooth as possible, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed.
With the motor running (for the next 4 steps), gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the oil in the thinnest possible stream; do not rush the process or the mixture will separate. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
Gradually add 1/2 cup more of the oil in the same manner; the mixture should begin to set up a bit, with the consistency of creamy cooked grits.
Gradually add the lemon juice. The mixture will become lighter and whiter.
Add 1/2 cup more of the oil in the same gradual fashion as before, then slowly add the water. The mixture will loosen but should not be runny.
Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. The resulting garlic paste should be creamy white and fluffy, like beaten egg whites. If not, keep the motor running and add more oil to achieve the right color and consistency.
Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; seal and refrigerate for a few hours before using, and up to 3 weeks
Reprinted with permission from The Washington Post. Tested by Bonnie S. BenwickFrom Joseph Chemali, chef-owner of Shemali's Cafe and Market in Northwest Washington.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

7-Up Biscuits - Only 4 Ingredients! - Awesome!

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4 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 7-up
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix Bisquick, sour cream and 7 up. Dough will be very soft - don't worry. Knead and fold dough until well mixed. Pat dough out and cut biscuits using a round biscuit / cookie cutter. Melt butter in bottom of cookie sheet pan or 9x13 casserole dish. Place biscuits on top of melted butter and bake @ 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until brown.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Abra's Tamales with Tomatillo Sauce Recipe

Abra's Tamales with Tomatillo Sauce Recipe

24 Servings (2 Dozen) 
24 Tampico’s dried cornhusks 

1 lb. sweet potato 
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil 
1 cup chopped onion 
1 tsp Tampico's ground cumin 
1/2 tsp Tampico's ground cinnamon 
(15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained 
(4 oz) can chopped green chiles, drained 
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) preshredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend 
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 

2 cups organic vegetable broth 
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed 
3 3/4 cups masa harina 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 cup butter, melted 

2 lbs. tomatillos, husked
3/4 cup and 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1-3/4 tsp minced garlic
2 serrano chile peppers, minced
3 tbs and 2-1/4 tsp chopped cilantro
1 tbs and 2-1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp Tampico's ground cumin
2-3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
3-3/4 cups water
  1. Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chile pepper into a saucepan. Season with cilantro, oregano, cumin, and salt; pour in water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Using a blender, carefully puree the tomatillos and water in batches until smooth.
1. Place corn husks in a large bowl; cover with water. Weight husks down with a can; soak 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. To prepare filling, pierce potato with a fork; wrap in foil. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Peel potato; mash. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon cumin and cinnamon; sauté 30 seconds. Add beans and green chiles; sauté 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine potato, bean mixture, cheese, and chopped cilantro.

4. Increase oven temperature to 450°.

5. To prepare masa dough, combine 2 cups broth and corn in a blender; process until smooth.

6. Lightly spoon masa harina into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine masa harina, baking
powder, and salt. Add broth mixture and butter to masa mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Cover.

7. To assemble, working with 1 husk at a time, place 3 tablespoons masa dough in center of husk about 1/2 inch from top, and press dough into a 4 x 3-inch rectangle. Spoon 2 tablespoons bean mixture down 1 side of dough. Fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover the filling with dough; fold over 1 more time. Fold bottom end of husk under. Place the tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel. Repeat the procedure with remaining husks, dough, and bean mixture. Cover filled tamales with another damp towel. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan; top with prepared rack.

8. Steam at 450° for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to maintain a depth of about 1/2 inch. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with sauce.

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Spicy Korean Chicken Wings Recipe

Spicy Korean Chicken Wings Recipe

Serves 4 to 8
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ½ cup michiu rice wine
  • 3 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • About 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup Wondra quick-mixing flour
  • ½ teaspoon Tampico’s Crushed Chili
Directions Place the peanut oil, rice wine, soy sauce, salt, sesame oil, crushed chili and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Stir until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.
Place the chicken wings in the marinade, toss to coat evenly, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When the wings are done marinating, pour the vegetable oil into a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot (the oil should be at least 3 to 4 inches deep). Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels or fit it with a wire cooling rack and set aside.
Combine the potato starch and Wondra in a large bowl. Remove 5 to 7 wings from the marinade and place them in the Wondra mixture. Toss to coat them with a thin layer.
Fry the chicken wings in the oil, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 350°F, until the wings are cooked through and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove to the prepared baking sheet to drain, about 3 minutes. Repeat, working in batches, with the remaining wings. Serve immediately with your favorite Korean-style wing sauce.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Create your own 4-Layer cake recipe

Four-Layer Cake Recipe: Create Your Own

Customize a four-layer showstopper with two simple cakes, fabulous frosting flavors, and endless decorating options.

by Katherine Eastman Seeley, Kay Cabrera
from Fine Cooking
Issue 78
In this world of ready mixes and canned frosting, baking and decorating layer cakes from scratch often seems like a lost art. But there's hardly a cooking craft more satisfying: not only does it fill your house with that heady aroma, but by the time you finish assembling and decorating the cake, you feel like an architectural genius.

And once you know how to make one layer cake, you know how to make hundreds. All you need is an arsenal of a few reliable components—chocolate and vanilla cake bases, a fluffy whipped-cream filling, and a smooth buttercream (each with multiple flavoring options) and nearly endless options for decorating, from fresh berries to elegant chocolate curls.
Choose your cake style
There are two basic styles here: a stacked, "naked" cake with berries and whipped-cream filling and frosting on, or a cake filled and frosted with homemade buttercream. If you’re running short on time, opt for a whipped-cream-filled cake. Making it is a cinch, and the cake looks spectacular with whipped cream and berries oozing between the layers. But don’t be afraid of buttercream cakes: they won’t bog you down for endless hours—they require just a little more time and focus. If you want to work ahead, consider that buttercream cakes can be assembled the night before and refrigerated, while whipped cream cakes should be assembled shortly before serving.
  • Vanilla buttercream cake
    Buttercream-filled and frosted cake
  • Vanilla buttercream cake
    Whipped-cream-filled, "naked" stacked cake
Bake your cake
Both recipes make two 9-inch round cakes, which will be split into four layers. The Vanilla Butter Cake is tender, not overly sweet, and the perfect neutral backdrop for a variety of filling flavors. The Chocolate Sour Cream Cake is deep, intense, and exceptionally moist. The vanilla cake requires about half as much baking time as the chocolate. No matter which cake you choose, let it cool completely before beginning the assembly process.

Choose a cake flavor
  • Vanilla Butter Cake
    Vanilla Butter Cake
  • Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
    Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Make your frosting
Whether you chose a whipped-cream frosting or buttercream frosting, you have several options for flavoring it, from basic vanilla to berry purées to citrus zest. See the options below, then refer to the recipes for specifics.

Choose a frosting flavor
  • vanilla
  • raspberries
  • strawberry
  • lemons
  • orange
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • amaretto
    Liqueur (Frangelico, Grand Marnier, etc): buttercream frosting only
Level and split the cakes
If the tops of the cakes have mounded unevenly, level them by removing the top crust with a long serrated knife.

Slice each cake into two layers: start by tracing a line around the middle of the cake with a long serrated knife. Then slowly rotate the cake while following that line with the knife and cut through the cake toward the center. After a few rotations you will have sliced the cake in two.

If you don’t get a straight cut, put a toothpick in each layer, one directly above the other, before separating them, so you can line them up again when assembling the cake. This will prevent your finished cake from tilting.
Fill and stack the cakes
If you've chosen a whipped cream-frosted cake, adding berries between the layers not only tastes great but helps the delicate whipped cream support the cake. If you've chosen a buttercream-frosted cake, you can add an additional layer of flavor by spreading liqueur-thinned jam mixed with 3 Tbs. of liquer on the underside of each cake layer.

Place the bottom layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while assembling the cake. Top the layer with a scant 1-1/2 cups buttercream or whipped cream frosting, spreading it evenly with a metal cake spatula almost to the cake’s edge for buttercream, or right up to the edge for whipped cream.

For a whipped cream cake, top with 1-1/2 cups berries (see options below), making sure some of the berries are around the edges of the cake so you can see them between the layers. Repeat with the next two layers.
Whipped cream cake: choose one to four berries (6-1/4 cups total)
  • strawberries
  • blackberries
  • raspberries
  • blueberries

For a buttercream cake, if your're using jam between the layers, stir together 3/4 cup of the jam and 3 Tbs. of the liquer (see options below) in a small bowl. Spread a third of the jam on the next cake layer, then lay it, jam-side down, over the buttercream filling. Repeat with the next two layers.

Buttercream cake: Choose a jam filling (optional)
  • raspberry jam
    Raspberry jam
  • apricot jam
    Apricot jam
  • orange marmalade
    Orange marmalade
Frost the cake (buttercream only)
First apply a light coat of frosting (called crumb coating) to seal the cake crumbs in: Spoon about 1/2 cup buttercream into a small bowl. Spread it in a very thin layer over the entire cake with a small metal cake spatula. You should be able to see the cake layers through the frosting. Chill the cake for about 20 minutes or until the frosting is firm.

Spread the remaining frosting thickly and evenly over the entire cake with a large metal cake spatula. Don’t worry about getting a smooth, perfect finish; just make sure the cake is completely covered and the frosting is spread uniformly. You shouldn’t be able to see the layers underneath the buttercream.
Finish the sides of the cake (buttercream only)
Chopped or sliced nuts or chocolate shavings easily stick to the sides of a buttercream-frosted cake, which is also a handy way to disguise a less-than-perfect frosting job.

Working over a large plate or tray to catch the fallout, take a small handful of coconut/nuts/chocolate (see options below) and gently pat them around the side of the cake. Repeat until the sides are completely coated.

Choose a finish for the cake sides (optional; buttercream only)
  • chocolate shavings
    Chocolate shavings
  • hazelnuts
    Chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • sliced almonds
    Sliced almonds, toasted
  • coconut flakes
    Large unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
Finish the cake top
Whipped-cream cakes are finished simply, with more whipped-cream frosting and a crown of the same berries between the layers. With buttercream cakes you have many options: citrus slices, toasted nuts, flaked coconut, chocolate curls and much more.
For whipped-cream cakes, spread the remaining 1-1/2 cups of frosting on top of the cake with the spatula. Arrange the remaining berries artfully on top of the cream.

For buttercream cakes, smear the frosting with the back of a teaspoon and pull it upward to form curls and swirls over the entire cake top (and sides, if you didn't coat it in nuts or chocolate). Arrange any finishing touches (see options below) on top of the cake.

Choose one or two finishes for the cake top (optional; buttercream only)
  • chocolate-covered coffee beans
    Chocolate-covered espresso beans
  • rasbperries
    Fresh berries
  • lemon slices
    Lemon slices
  • orange zest curls
    Orange zest curls
  • oranges
    Orange slices
  • mint
    Fresh mint leaves
  • shaved chocolate curls
    Shaved chocolate curls
  • toasted whole hazelnuts
    Toasted whole hazelnuts
Component recipes by Katherine Eastman Seeley and Kay Cabrera; Photos: Scott Phillips

Monday, April 20, 2015

Grease-Fighting Lavender Dish Soap

Grease-Fighting Lavender Dish Soap
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A completely natural homemade dish soap that fights tough grease.
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup all natural soap flakes or grated soap
  • ¼ cup castile soap
  • 2 teaspoons super washing soda
  • 1 teaspoon non-GMO vegetable glycerin
  • 30-40 drops lavender essential oil
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the soap flakes and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add the castile soap, washing soda, glycerin, and essential oil.
  4. Stir well, making sure everything is dissolved.
  5. Carefully pour into a bottle with a spout or pump.
  6. It needs to set for about 24 hours.
Adapted from Mommypotamus.

Note: If it's too thick, add a little more water. Different factors can affect the thickness of the soap - the water you use (is it filtered or tap), the brand of soap flakes or grated soap, etc. If you want a thicker soap, pour the soap back into the pan and warm it back up. Add a little more washing soda.

Multiple Uses for Cornstarch

Multiple Uses for Cornstarch


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Cornstarch Uses

Cornstarch Uses

Cornstarch Uses

12 Uses for Cream of Tartar

12 Uses for Cream of Tartar


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13 GREAT Uses for Vick's VapoRub

13 Uses for Vick's VapoRub


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Household Tips 



  1. Sore Throat - rub on your throat and wrap with a tube sock.
  2. Decongestant - rub on your chest and under your nostrils.
  3. Coughs - to minimize coughing, rub generously on your feet and cover with socks.
  4. Sore Muscles - massage a generous amount on sore muscles.
  5. Headaches - rub a small amount on your temples and forehead.
  6. Ear Aches - to relieve pain, apply a small amount to a cotton ball and place in ear.
  7. Nail Fungus - rub on infected toenails. The nail will turn a dark color as it kills the fungus. The dark color will go away as the nail grows out.
  8. Mosquito Repellent - rub a small amount on exposed skin.
  9. Itchy Bug Bites - rub on bite and cover with a band aid.
  10. Cracked Heels - rub on feet in the morning and at night.
  11. Acne - to clear it up, dab on zit.
  12. Cold Sores - rub a little on the area when you begin to feel one coming on.
  13. Splinters - to remove, apply to the splinter and cover with a band-aid before going to bed. The next morning the splinter will be on the band-aid.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fresh Tomato Soup


Fresh Tomato Soup

"I love tomato soup recipes and have found a way to enjoy it when the weather gets cooler by using plum tomatoes. They are flavorful year-round." -- Danese Blackwell, Farmington, Utah
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil


1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Place half of tomato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining tomato mixture. Stir in salt and pepper. Ladle 3/4 cup soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt and 1 1/2 teaspoons basil.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lazy Lasagna Bake

Lazy Lasagna Bake

Photo by *Parsley*
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Servings: 6-8

About This Recipe

"All the goodness of lasagna without having to mess with those darn lasagna noodles and about half the work! My family loves this recipe. I make it every couple of weeks."


    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1 dash minced garlic
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 3/4 cups favorite spaghetti sauce ( I use chunky mushroom & garlic)
    • 6 ounces spiral noodles, cooked and drained
    • 1 cup cottage cheese
    • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    • grated parmesan cheese


Brown beef with onion, garlic and salt; drain. 
Stir in spaghetti sauce, simmer until heated. 
Remove 1 cup meat sauce & set aside. 
Stir noodles into remaining sauce. 
Place 1/2 noodle mixture into greased 2qt. casserole dish. 
Cover w/ cottage cheese and 1 cup mozzarella. 
Add remaining noodle mixture, top with reserved meat sauce and remaining mozzarella. 
Sprinkle w/ parmesan cheese. Bake covered at 350degrees for 20-25min. Let stand about 5 min before serving.

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Cheesecake Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cake

Cheesecake Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cake


  • Time 32 minutes
  • Serves 16


  • Unsweetned cocoa
  • 1 18.25oz package Devil's Food cake mix
  • 1 3.4oz box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3 large eggs-room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup oil-vegetable, canola, or corn
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract-optional
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 1.55oz milk chocolate bars(such as Hershey's)
  • 3 16oz tubs homestyle cream cheese frosting
  • 3 7.75oz boxes frozen cheesecake bites(such as Sara Lee)-chopped.
  • 1 12oz jar dulce de leche or caramel sauce
  • Double chocolate rolled wafer cookies(such as Pirouline)
  • Chocolate fudge rolled water cookies( such as Pepperidge Farm)

How to make it

  1. Grease two round 9" cake pans. Dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Beat cake mix and next 7 ingredients on medium speed for two minutes.
  3. Fold in milk chocolate. Spread batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-32 minutes or until cake springs back when touched.
  5. Cool layers for 10 minutes in pans then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Wrap layers and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  7. Using a serrated knife, slice layers in half horizontally to make four layers.
  8. Place 1 layer cut side up onto cake plate.
  9. Spread with 1/2 cup frosting.
  10. Sprinkle one-fourth of chopped cheesecake bites over frosting.
  11. Repeat process with three remaining layers. Spread frosting only over top layer and then on sides of cake.
  12. Drizzle dulce de leche(caramel sauce) over the top of cake letting it drip down the sides.
  13. Break rolled wafer cookies into various length pieces and sprinkle over top of cake along with any remaining cheesecake pieces.
  14. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  15. Refrigerate leftovers(if there are any).

Decorate with chocolate chips, chopped oreo cookies, chopped peanut butter cups or whatever you like.