Are you looking for a unique hostess gift to share for those summer barbecues? Today I am showing how to make DIY Citronella Candles for a fun hostess gift on the Kenmore Blog. Making candles sounds like something an advanced crafter might tackle, but it is one of the easiest projects I have ever done, thanks to my slow cooker. I purchased the supplies in bulk online for this project, but you could also try this on a smaller scale and purchase the supplies for these at your local craft store.
As my children grow older, I strive to find more meaningful ways to celebrate holidays. The 4th of July has always been a burst of red, white, & blue through our home, but I can’t say that we have ever spent time together discussing the importance of this day and getting to know the heroes behind what makes the 4th of July so special. Today I want to share with you a fun way you can share about the 4th of July Heroes in your home and a fun way to incorporate their images in your home to make the day more meaningful and festive.
I partnered with Walmart on this project and all the materials you need for this can be found at their store.
To begin, you can select your 4th of July Heroes that you want to talk about. I found this great list for kids that I used to select our heroes to focus upon. I then headed to Wikipedia and found images of each of our heroes and converted them to black & white and saved them on my computer. If you would like to use the same heroes as us, here are the heroes we selected for our project.
Once you have your heroes selected, head to the Walmart Photo Site and upload the images there. In addition to having 1 of each image printed in 4×6, also add 1 set of wallets for each person. If you send these to the one-hour lab, it will be less than $6 for all of them. While you are there, you can also pick up a package of mini-clothespins, a set of notecards for your kids to write on, supplies for this easy flag bunting, and this burlap wreath to decorate with. Since I already had these things in our home, it helps cut down on cost and storage for us this year.
Once you have your images, have kids select which person they are interested in discovering and have them find information about their 4th of July heroes. I challenged my kids to find one or two facts about each hero. We also read about the first 4th of July and how different is from how we celebrate today.
I am embarrassed to say that I was learning right along with my children and soaking it all in as much as they were. Abigail Adams, for example, was one of our favorite people we learned about. Did you know that she had five kids that she cared for and homeschooled while her husband was away serving his country? Not only was she passionate about women’s rights, but she was also passionate about equality for all people, whether they were black or white. She helped care for the soldiers in her home (feeding them and treating their injuries), and she even learned how to make her own gunpowder. Emily and I are big fans of Abigail Adams now and all she did for our country.
Likewise, my son loved John Adams and his fun fact was that he thought his teachers, “held him back.” Despite being held back from his true potential in grade school, he passed his entrance exams to Harvard and his parents, who were farmers, gave up several acres of their own farm land to pay for John’s schooling. And, boy, did that pay off! John Adams strongly supported independence from Britain, signed the Declaration of Independence, and negotiated the treaty ending the Revolutionary War. He later became the nation’s first vice president and second president. This led to a great discussion about recognizing our true potential when sometimes others do not.
Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King referenced Crispus Attucks in one of his speeches? He held him up as an example of black patriotism at the beginning of our nation’s history. Yet, we never knew anything about what he did for our country. I’m so glad we know now.
If you have smaller kids, you can share simple facts and have them draw pictures. Clearly, the fact that Abigail Adams rocked it as a mom and had five kids was worthy of a picture. Make this time fun for your kids while acknowledging the sacrifices that so many gave up for our freedom.
Once we were done discussing our heroes, I incorporated these pictures into our holiday decor. I pulled some of the flags off of our bunting and switched them with pictures of our heroes. I took the items off of my burlap wreath and clipped the wallet images with mini clothespins on the wreath. I hung this in the center of our mirror and added the flag & hero bunting around the frame of the mirror.
I love these touches to our 4th of July decorating, but I love even more that my kids know about these patriotic heroes. I hope this idea inspires you to learn more about this holiday and the heroes who made this day possible for all of us.
If there is one thing I love, it is creating a restaurant experience in the comfort of my own home with a price tag that fits our budget. Father’s Day is just around the corner one way you can really wow those amazing dads in your life is by creating this restaurant style steak recipe for an amazing culinary experience at home.
Walmart wanted me to showcase a fun recipe you could create for Father’s Day and I immediately thought of making Dad a delicious steak dinner. What says I love you more than a delicious New York Strip Steak or a beautiful Filet Mignon?
Today’s post is less recipe and more technique. The truth is, if you have a beautiful cut of meat, the last thing you want to do is mask that delicious flavor. A beautiful steak needs only to be dressed simply with a little oil, salt, pepper, and a butter finish to be more than worthy of your taste buds.
I had hoped to have a beautiful picture tutorial for you, but this steak cooks so quickly that I am going to type out my tips instead. Even with the tomatoes and roasted asparagus as our sides, we still will have dinner ready in about fifteen minutes! That will be even less time than it would take to haul everyone in the car for a meal out, not to mention the incredible savings you will experience by dining at home.
Here are my personal recommendations for creating that perfect steak for Dad!
Pick the Right Type of Pan
Since we are need to sear the steak and then finish it in the oven, you want to make sure that you have a pan that can do this task well. I love a good heavy-bottom skillet that does not have a plastic handle or a cast iron skillet for this job. I bought one of these Lodge Logic 12″ cast iron skillets a couple of winters ago and it has been so good to me over the years. This is definitely a work horse in my kitchen and it is also a great tool to use when outdoor grilling for delicate meats or when mixing up a big batch of fresh veggies so you don’t have to cook in a hot kitchen in the summer. It has truly been the best $20 I have ever spent and I know that you will feel the same way especially after cooking your steaks on it.
Let Your Meat Rest At Room Temperature
It is really important that you don’t put cold meat into your hot pan. I like to pull my steaks out about thirty minutes before I plan to cook them and leave them on my counter. This helps to heat your steak more evenly and helps prevent the risk of your meat drying out before you have finished cooking it.
Get Your Pan Screaming Hot…Hotter Then You Think
If you want a beautiful sear on your meat, you need to be sure that your skillet is hot enough to add that beautiful caramelization on your meat. Turn your heat up to high with nothing in the pan for at least five minutes. When you place your meat in the pan it should stick and you should hear a nice sizzle on the outside. That’s exactly what you want to hear and see happening to your meat.
Dry & Season Your Meat Well
One of the best tools in your arsenal for creating the perfect steak is a paper towel. If you want a beautiful sear on your meat, you need the meat to be dry and not wet, otherwise you risk just having your meat steam in its own juices rather than sear. Dry the meat with a heavy-duty paper towel and then brush the steak with oil. I love canola oil and then season your meat simply with salt and pepper. Once your pan has to come to that screaming hot phase, drop your seasoned meat into the pan and let it sear for two minutes on each side.
Don’t Move Your Steak
Once you have dropped it in, the first thing I know I want to do is to shift the meat and take a peek at it. Just don’t. Let the meat get the golden sear it needs for two minutes on each side, giving it a beautiful crust on the outside, and keeping your meat perfectly pink on the inside.
Butter Makes Everything Better
A butter finish makes all dishes a little more beautiful, don’t you think? A dab of butter is a beautiful finishing touch to the steak before sliding it into the oven to finish cooking.
A meat thermometer is your best friend. I still rely on mine for my steaks. I love my steak to be medium rare, but cook it to the consistence that you love the most. Keep in mind that Rare is 120 degrees, Medium is 125 degrees, and Medium Well is 130 degrees.
Always Let Your Meat Rest
If you cut into your meat right when you take it off the pan, chances are that all the juiciness will just pour out on your cutting board or plate. Cover your steak with a little tin foil and let it rest for ten minutes before diving in. I promise you will have a much more flavorful bite if you just wait the recommended amount of time.
I hope these steak tips help you and a great accompaniment to this steak is my Simple Roasted Asparagus. You can slide this in at the same time and temperature as your steaks and it should be ready in 10-12 minutes. I also added a side of the warmed tomatoes from this tomato appetizer we created last week!
A beautiful restaurant-style steak, perfect for celebrating any occasion. Once you follow the tips & techniques for a perfect steak, you will save a bundle on special occasion meals out.
2 (10-ounce) filet mignon (you can double this recipe, just make sure you have a large skillet so all the steaks have room)
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and brush them lightly with canola oil. Combine the salt and pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture, pressing lightly to evenly coat all sides.
When the skillet is ready, add the steaks and sear them evenly on all sides for about 2 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes.
Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter and place the skillet in the oven. Cook the steaks until they reach 120 degrees F for rare or 125 degrees F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer. (To test the steaks, insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you're actually testing the middle of the steak. Mine took 4-5 minutes to come to medium rare)
Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Father’s Day is just around the corner and when Kenmore asked me what I could create for a fun Father’s Day gift, I immediately knew that making some delicious grill seasoning mixes would be the perfect gift for this Father’s Day. Today I wanted to share with you two easy DIY grilling seasoning mixes you can make and package up for your favorite dads!
We have created these beautiful printable grill seasoning jar labels for your Dad and you can snag all the recipes and details on how to create this fast gift on the Kenmore Blog today! I hope you love this fun food craft as much as I love sharing it with you!
For years I have been wanting to make beans in the slow cooker, but was intimidated with the process. Beans in the slow cooker though are surprisingly easy and frugal to create in large batches for your family. Today I wanted to show you a foolproof and delicious recipe for Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans for all of your Cinco de Mayo fun, or as a frugal side dish for your next taco night. Today’s cooking tutorial is going to take you through the in’s and out’s of how to cook beans, how to freeze them, and then in the comments below you can share your views on bean preparation. Everyone has a theory, a trick, and a recipe. Let’s share what we know works best for us!
Bean Cooking 101
Why Should You Trouble Yourself With Dried Beans?
There is true convenience in grabbing a quick can of beans for your dishes out of your pantry. Although it is still a frugal staple, dried beans are oh-so-much cheaper and they have much more flavor than the canned variety. Dried beans typically cost two to three times less than canned beans and they have the added benefit of less sodium, more flavor, and can save you a lot of room in a small pantry. Did I mention that they can be made while you are sleeping in your slow cooker? Now that’s a beautiful thing.
When I posted that I was working on this on Instagram, many people commented on their techniques as well as their failures in cooking beans. I guess I am not the only one a little intimidated by the process. Now that I have made them though, I will be making this a regular habit because it saves me a lot of money and is a very filling protein for someone who is on a gluten-free diet and always hungry.
A Little Sorting Never Hurt Nobody
Once you purchase your beans, make sure you sort them out. Arrange dried beans on a sheet pan or clean kitchen towel and sort through them to pick out any shriveled or broken beans, stones or debris. This is not an all-day affair, just a quickly peek and move on to the next steps.
Rinse It, Rinse It Good
Always make sure you rinse your beans really well before beginning. Make sure you also rinse them well after our salt brine (below).
To Soak or Not to Soak
Sounds like a great Shakespeare line, doesn’t it? I know that many people skip the soaking process and opt to just throw them right into the slow cooker after a rinse. I always consult the experts when it comes to cooking and according to Cook’s Illustrated, quick soaking can be effective, but their proven method of soaking beans in a brine, yields a bean that a girl can really be proud of. Just as a brine on a bird can yield tasty results, beans can benefit from salt too. The salt soak prevents magnesium and calcium from binding to — and, subsequently hardening — the cell walls on your beans. When people complain that they can never get the beans to soften, you can be assured that a brine can help with that, while maintaining the shape of your beans.
Cook’s Illustrated recommends, for 1 pound of dried beans (about 2 cups) dissolve 3 tablespoons of salt in 4 quarts of water. Add the rinsed beans and let them soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. (If you’re short on time, quick-soak the beans: Place the beans in a large heatproof bowl. Bring 2 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Pour the water over the beans and let them soak for 1 hour before draining and rinsing.)
As far as salting goes for your beans for seasoning though, it is advised to wait until the end and salt once they are cooked and season to taste. You also want to be sure that you are rinsing that brine off before you get started with your recipe.
Cook Them Low & Slow
Since beans need to be cooked low and slow, the slow cooker is ideal for cooking your beans. Once you have rinsed these after the salt brine, add them to your slow cooker along with liquid and seasonings of choice and turn your slow cooker on Low and head to bed. Skip the addition of anything acidic though because the acid can prevent those beans from breaking down and it’s all about getting these beans to break down.
I cooked mine in my Ninja Cooker and set it for six hours and it set’s itself to warm after that. The beans should take roughly six to eight hours to cook and slow cookers can be the ideal tool for cooking them. According to The Kitchn, it’s adviseable to pick a slow cooker that fits best with the amount of beans you are cooking. They advise that for small batches of beans, a pound or less, to rely on a 3 1/2-quart or smaller slow cooker. If cooking 2 pounds or more, you can use your 7-quart slow cooker.
Freeze Those Beans
Once the beans are done, divide them up into two cup portions in freezer bags and put them in the freezer. You can now enjoy the savings all month long and enjoy these beans as a side or accompaniment to any of your favorite Mexican dishes.
Happy Spring, MomAdvice readers! My name is Sarah and I’m the baker/blogger over at Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats. I have loved baking for as long as I can remember and for the past 3 years, I have been baking 100% gluten free. My husband has celiac disease and both my son and I have a gluten allergy. Most of my baking is also dairy and egg free. It was quite the adventure, learning how to transition over to gluten free baking. Now I have a passion for sharing delicious gluten free recipes with others so that they can also have the confidence to bake again!
April is one of my most favorite months. Beautiful spring weather, flowers are in bloom and most importantly…Easter! Such a joyous holiday, celebrating with family and friends. We always gather around a good meal (total feast) and enjoy plenty of satisfying sweets. Always too many desserts!
I’m sharing a few of my favorite gluten free treats with you today! All of these goodies would be a lovely addition to your Easter gathering. They also egg and dairy free too (vegan), which is great for those with multiple food allergies. Each recipe features Sarah’s gluten free flour blend, a staple in my pantry. Perfect for all of your gluten free baking needs!
Every celebration becomes that much more fantastic when cupcakes are involved! These chocolate cupcakes are simply delicious. Moist chocolate cake, topped with a creamy dairy free chocolate buttercream. Those colorful sprinkles are a must!
Anything in miniature size is my favorite. That’s one reason to love these mini lemon blueberry cakes. Bursting with blueberries and drizzled with a simple glaze. The fresh lemon zest gives this cake a beautiful brightness.
Wouldn’t this apple cinnamon coffee cake be a delight to serve at your Easter brunch? Vanilla cake, topped with sliced apples and covered in cinnamon crumb topping. Everyone will be asking for a second slice.
I remember the first time I made these raspberry hand pies. It took me right back to my childhood. Eating those “home run” pies that we would get from the local market down the street. This homemade version is even more delicious and let’s not forget…it’s pie you can eat with your hands!
Every kid loves a good frosted sugar cookie. This gluten free version is just about as yummy as you can get. Let the kids help with the decorating and get creative. They may end up eating more frosting and sprinkles along the way, but that’s the best part!
Did you know that you can paint and dye plastic eggs that look like real eggs? Me either! Today I am showing off our ideas for decorating plastic eggs and (even more importantly!) how to get all that dye off of your hands.
I partnered with Walmart on today’s project to showcase a new egg that has made its way on store shelves that are simply called, “Plastic Decorating Eggs,” made by Paper Magic and they retail for, $1.97 for a dozen eggs. I found mine over by the other egg decorating supplies tucked away on the top of our shelf.
What Do We Love About the Plastic Decorating Eggs?
I love decorating eggs with my kids, but when we do it, I wish that I could keep them longer without them spoiling or needing refrigeration. We also ran into instances of little hands being excited to dump their eggs in the dye, often resulting in cracked eggs.
These new eggs can be found over in the seasonal section of the store and are made from 100% recyclable plastic. Unlike the shiny brightly colored eggs we use for our egg hunts, these almost feel like a wooden egg with a brushed exterior, yet are lightweight since they are made from a lightweight plastic. There is a small seam that can be seen in my close-up pictures, but it does not break open like the neon plastic eggs.
Each kit comes with 12 eggs, 12 paper stands, and a dipper.
How Do You Decorate Your Plastic Eggs?
We tried a couple of different techniques with the plastic eggs. One involved our favorite Kool-Aid dying technique and the other method incorporated the 24k Eggs & Speckled Eggs kits (also found in the seasonal section).
When attempting our Kool-Aid dying we found that the eggs did not lend themselves well to being dunked, due to their lightweight plastic nature, and the dye did not adhere to our eggs. We tried our most vibrant shades and still the dye did not stick. We boosted our dye with 3 teaspoons of vinegar and only achieved the softest shade of coloring. If you have younger children, this can lead to some impatience, and the kids were ready to move on to the decorating kits we purchased.
Painting our eggs, however, yielded vibrantly beautiful eggs. We combined the sponge technique with the golden glaze, and let the kids create their own masterpieces. The colors stayed very true and bright. I would recommend utilizing one of the egg painting kits for these and Walmart does offer many different varieties and you can see lots of different examples over here of ideas for decorating them.
Here are the eggs we created with our kits. Some of the most beautiful eggs actually resulted from dyed fingerprints that added color and texture to them. My daughter loved doing the speckled eggs, while my son painted his fully with a brush. We let them dry in the carton and they now have a spot in our front room in a bowl to be admired all season long.
Although I am lucky that my children do not suffer from any food allergies, these eggs would be perfect for a child that has an egg allergy and could have an allergic reaction to the eggs.
I would recommend this kit for little hands that have a hard time handling delicate eggs, children with egg allergies, and moms that might like to keep their decorated eggs from year to year.
That was a messy job so I am sharing our tried-and-true recipe for removing egg dye & paint off of your hands. We can attest to this formula as we may or may not have used everything in our house from rubbing alcohol to oil to try to figure out how to get the pesky dye of our hands. Smarter people might wear gloves while decorating. We risk it all for our art. That’s how we roll.
How to Remove Dye From Hands
1 squirt whitening toothpaste
1 squirt face or body exfoliant
1 squirt baby oil
Scrub well. Add a little water and continue scrubbing. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. Maybe three times if you look like a Smurf.
Semi homemade cakes have become a speciality of mine for birthdays. Today’s gluten-free snickerdoodle cake offered the perfect celebration cake for my husband’s birthday this year and I loved that it tastes just as heavenly as our usual snickerdoodle cake and our chocolate snickerdoodle cake that I had made before going gluten-free.
As we have gotten older, we need less and less. Frankly, if we really want something, we usually just go and buy it for ourselves. Special & thoughtful gifts seem harder to come by, but I was determined to make this guy’s day special.
His favorite books as a child were Ed Emberley’s drawing books. While these books have been reissued, my husband more than anything wanted the original books that he had loved as a kid. I found the three of his favorites and wrapped them in ribbon to give him for his birthday. I could not wait to see his face.
Unbeknownst to me,one of the books contained Ed Emberley’s autograph, which my husband said was the best gift he had ever received. What a happy surprise that was.
If your spouse had a series of books or a book that was their childhood favorite, imagine what a joy it is to see that original again.
To top the night off, we celebrated with a slice of this cake. While I find gluten-free cakes to be a little on the dry side, we have found that a little pudding mix really helps this cake… and a thick layer of homemade cinnamon buttercream doesn’t hurt either.
The cake is laced with cinnamon, as is the frosting, and the base is made from a simply yellow cake mix. Any gluten-free brand should work beautifully in this cake.
Happiest of birthdays to the love of my life. I still shake my head that I have been present for his birthday since he was just sixteen. A million moments shared, and I pray for millions more with my best friend!
I am so excited to share a delicious Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake recipe that you can make using a simple boxed mix, a little food coloring, and a few odds & ends from your pantry. This Rainbow Cake is made in a tube pan, versus a layered cake, and is a fun addition to your St. Patrick’s Day spread.
Walmart challenged me to share a St. Patrick’s Day project that you could create out of items from their store. You may remember my rainbow cakes in a jar that I created a couple of years ago. Now that I am eating gluten-free, I wanted to replicate the idea of a rainbow cake, but I wanted to do it in one pan and I wanted to make it a quicker process by using a cake mix.
To make a vibrantly colored cake, I want to point out that it is really important to use good icing colors to achieve your rainbow cake colors. Over by the party supplies, you will find professional cake decorating supplies at Walmart. You want to purchase the Wilton Icing Colors. These concentrated gels offer a much brighter color than what you will find over in the baking section of the grocery section. I just use a toothpick to dip in the gel and then swirl it through my cake batter. You may need to do this a couple of times to achieve this level of brightness, but it still will take a lot less than the other brands of food coloring.
When I decided I wanted to make this cake, I went through tons of tons of cake recipes to figure out how to layer the batter. My inspiration for creating my rainbow arch was from not martha and her Leprechaun Trap Cake that she created a few years ago. Her arch is so much more beautiful than mine. I highly encourage you to read her tutorial for a perfect arch and read mine for a just meh arch. That being said, do prepare this in a tube pan versus a bundt pan to achieve the best arch.
Do you have a digital scale? I highly recommend purchasing one because it will make projects like this a million times easier. I have had mine for many years and I use it for both weighing packages and as a food scale! Be sure to tare it with the bowl on top to begin your measurements each time.
I used the measurements outlined by not martha for measurements for my batter:
6 ounces – red
5 ounces – orange
4 ounces – yellow
3 ounces – green
2 ounces – blue
1 ounce – purple
The remainder of the rest of the batter, leave it white.
To scoop batter into the bowls, I relied upon an ice cream scoop to scoop it into the bowls on the scale. To make pouring the batter easier, place the cake batter in a baggie in a tall glass and hang the opening over the sides of your glass. Pour your batter in and then seal the baggie. Just snip a corner of the baggie to begin pouring your batter into the pan.
Gluten-free cakes tend to be more delicate so you definitely want to let this fully cool before trying to work with it. The side that has all the beautiful vibrant colors is not the top of the cake. It is the bottom of the cake. I accidentally iced this side so don’t make my mistake. If you find that your cake is puffy on the bottom, use a serrated knife to even it up a bit so your cake is not lopsided.
I posted a picture of this cake as I was glazing it on Instagram. To quote myself, “I never go easy on the sprinkles. I consider them the jazz hands on my desserts.”
Who quotes themselves? Sorry about that!
Glaze and sprinkle this cake liberally!
I was disappointed that I had iced the wrong side and that my purple didn’t get perfectly centered. I think it is one of those cakes that might take a little more practice. My friends didn’t seem to notice or mind my errors though because this was one yummy cake! I doubt your kids would notice or care either. It might be a fun one to try together!
I hope you love it as much as we did and I hope this tutorial helps you while you make your own gluten-free rainbow cake!
A gluten-free rainbow cake perfect for celebrating St. Patrick's Day
1 Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (over by the gluten-free ingredients in the candy aisle of your store, not in the baking aisle)
½ cup butter softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 package of Wilton Gel Food Colorings
1½ cups confectioners' sugar
2½ teaspoons milk (or milk substitute)
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan liberally with cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add cake mix and blend completely.
Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and beat until completely blended. The batter will be thick.
Divide your batter into eight bowls using the measurements in this post and tint accordingly.
First pour the larger amount of white batter into the pan. Then pour the red batter in, making it a wide ring of batter. Then pour the orange over that, keeping it inside the red. Pour in each color, creating smaller and smaller rings.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, testing with a toothpick to check when the cake is done.
Once the cake is cooled, prepare your icing.
Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy.
Spoon the glaze over your cake and finish with rainbow sprinkles.
Enjoy this tasty treat with a DIY Shamrock Shake and our free St. Patrick’s Day straw printable!
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! This holiday makes me want to indulge in one of my all-time favorite treats… the oh-so-delicious Shamrock Shake. You don’t have to swing by your local fast food joint to indulge though because I have the recipe to this one and you can indulge in it for a fun family night treat any night of the week.