Friday, December 9, 2011

Best Stain Remover. Ever.

Living in Austin, it is inevitable that you will slowly become more green - there's just an aura of environmental awareness that is hard to ignore. We've now been living here 10 years and I find myself using cloth diapers, hanging my laundry out to dry, and I don't even remember the last time I bought paper towels or paper napkins - we've slowly migrated to cloth over the last 8 years or so.

That being said, as I run out of cleaning supplies I find myself searching for alternatives to the chemical filled storebought options. There are a ton of homemade recipes to be found on the internet, some working better than others. So when I find one that works amazingly well I feel I should share! This stain remover is one of the best I have ever used. It even gets out grass and berry stains! When I have a straight oil stain, I use just the Dawn, but everything else gets this treatment:

1/3 cup Dawn dish soap (I use the DawnOxi)
1/3 cup ammonia
3 Tablespoon baking soda
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients together and store in an empty spray bottle. Spray onto stains and rub in with an old toothbrush. Throw in the laundry basket until you're ready to wash!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Panforte Bars

Since it's getting close to that festive time of the year when we give others yummy treats because we love them, I thought I'd post a few of my favorites. This recipe is one of the easiest things you'll ever make, but they get rave reviews from everyone who tries them. Enjoy and bask in the compliments!

18 ounces refrigerated sugar cookie dough
10-12 ounce can mixed nuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup baking chips in your preferred flavor (I've used butterscotch, chocolate, pb and a mix of whatever was left in the bags)
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit bits, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Lightly grease a 9x9 baking dish; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir cookie dough with a wooden spoon until soft. Add nuts, baking chips, and dried fruit. Stir until well mixed, using your hands if necessary. Pat dough evenly in baking dish. Sprinkle coconut over the top, pressing in lightly.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into bars. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Makes about 32 bars.

Maraschino Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

These were the tasty result of an RS cookie swap a few years ago - I've made them every year since. Thanks Tori!

2 10-oz jars of Maraschino cherries
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons milk

Drain cherries, reserving juice. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well. Put butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well.

Put chocolate chips and milk in a small saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, on low heat until chocolate melts. Add reserved cherry juice to taste (I use 1-2 teaspoons). Let cool slightly.

Shape dough into 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking pan. Push in centers with thumb or bottom of a teaspoon, then spoon 1 teaspoon of the chocolate mixture into each thumbprint and top with a cherry. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Don't overcook or they will become hard and not as tasty. Let cool on wire racks.