Thursday, May 31, 2012

Turkey Meatballs

One of our most favorite meals used to be sweet and sour meatballs.  They were so delicious and so quick and easy to make.  All I had to do was throw a bag of meatballs into a pan with sweet and sour sauce and heat for 5 minutes or so.  But we stopped eating them eventually for health reasons.  We realized those pre-packaged processed foods are really not very good for you.
After a while, I really started to miss those meatballs.  So I decided to attempt making them myself, which would make them much I made a few ingredient swaps to make them even healthier!  Here are the ingredients:

2 lbs ground turkey
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flaxseed
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp onion flakes

Combine the ingredients in a bowl.  Shape them into meatballs and place on a baking sheet.

This makes quite a bit.  It was enough for 3 meals for my husband and I (Angie doesn't like them).
Anyway, place whatever you are not using right away in the freezer.  When frozen, remove them from the baking sheet and place in a ziploc bag.  They keep very well in the freezer.
Take the meatballs that you are using and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
They should come out looking nice and golden brown like this:

Top with your favorite sauce (I used sweet and sour)
You can serve them plain, or with rice or noodles.  They tasted delicious, and they are so much healthier than the pre-packaged store bought meatballs!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

No More Ants!!!

The other night I realized that a swarm of ants had moved into my kitchen.  I had some Combat ant traps that I had used in the past, which worked, but took several weeks to completely get rid of them.  I thought I remembered seeing a new method of getting rid of those pests, so I did some searching and found a recipe for ant poison.  After using it, the ants were completely gone in less than 24 hours.  And I did it using things that I already had in the house!

Here's what you need:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp borax
1 cup warm water
cotton balls
small plastic lids

Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a bowl.  Take some cotton balls and saturate them in the mixture.  Place 1-3 saturated cotton balls in each of the lids, depending on the size of the lid.  Place the lids in various locations around the area with the ant infestation. 

The way it works is that the ants are attracted by the sugar water, but the borax is poisonous.  The ants pick up the poison and take it back to their nest where it kills the entire ant colony, including the queen.  I put these out late at night before I went to bed.  The next morning, there were just a few ants lingering, but by lunchtime, there was no trace of them!  And I haven't seen a single one yet.

***UPDATE*** 5/20/12
I had some questions about the safety of pets and small children when using this method.  I do not know if it is safe for animals or children, so I would definitely assume it's not.  Keep your cotton balls out of reach of children and pets.  We have a cat, but I put all of the cotton balls on the kitchen counter, and she doesn't get up there so I didn't need to worry.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Make Your Own Drink Mix Packets

Lately, since I stopped drinking pop, I have been using a lot of these "singles to go" drink mix packets.  It wasn't long before I realized that you can make your own healthier, cheaper drink mix. 
All you need is one cup of sugar or Splenda and one Kool-Aid packet. (Multiply this recipe as needed).
I mixed them together in a bowl and then stored them in a empty peanut butter jar that I had cleaned out and repurposed.

One drink mix packet is equal to one teaspoon, so to get the equivalent, you mix one teaspoon of the homemade drink mix with the desired amount of water.  The jar works good for making drinks at home, but I also had to come up with a way to take them on the go.  So I used this old pill sorter.  I put one teaspoon of my homemade drink mix in each compartment, so whenever I want to use one, I just empty one compartment into my drink.  (If you are worried about the drink mix spilling into your bag, you can put it inside a Ziploc bag).

One package of 8 drink mix packets costs between $1-2, making them as much as $0.25 each.  I calculated the cost of mine to be $0.09 each.  This cost would be much less if you used sugar instead of Splenda.  Also, I am not sure what kinds of additives (if any) they use in the store-bought packets, but when you make your own, you don't have to wonder about what else they put in them!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bottomless Soap Dispensers

If you haven't already, be sure to follow Making Cooley Stuff on Facebook so you don't miss any new projects or ideas!

I don't know about you, but I find it very annoying every time I have to refill a soap dispenser.  It's not that I'm lazy, I just have much better things to do.  We have 2 bathroom sinks and a kitchen sink that I keep soap dispensers at, and it seems like I'm refilling each one every few weeks.  Last night, I noticed that the soap dispenser on my kitchen sink was empty again.

And then I happened to notice this large bottle of hand sanitizer that was nearly empty:
And a light bulb turned on over my head. 
I emptied out the bottle of hand sanitizer and rinsed it out, then I removed the labels with a hair dryer.  Then I used a funnel and filled it with homemade liquid hand soap (I will share more on that in a future post).
Now I have a soap dispenser at my kitchen sink that will last 4-5 times longer than the puny one that I previously had there.  I'm guessing I won't have to refill it for several months.  That's one less thing I have to worry about.

This is a great way to not only save time, but to reuse would-be trash.  There are several bottles you can reuse as soap dispensers... look for any large bottle with a lotion pump.  Lotion bottles, shampoo bottles, baby wash bottles, etc. will work just fine.  I have a few other large bottles with lotion pumps that I plan on reusing as soap dispensers once they are empty.  I guess a huge bottle of soap sitting on the sink might look a little funny, but it doesn't bother me as long as it saves me some time and sanity.