This post is filled with ideas for Canning for Beginners, specifically water bath canning. It’s the easiest way to start preserving food. And it’s easy to learn. Promise! [Read more…]
I have to share my recent food passion… Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Wow, are they good! I stumbled across the recipe online, but Mr. Muse and I got to try them at an unassuming little Vietnamese restaurant in Monterey, California on a recent mini-vacation. We shared a plate of spring rolls and bowl of Pho (another new yummy discovery).
Now don’t confuse spring rolls with egg rolls. There is a world of difference. Spring rolls are like a salad wrapped in a rice paper wrapper… and never fried (okay, they can be fried, but why mess with perfection). Chowhound describes them this way:
These light and healthy Vietnamese-influenced summer rolls are filled with cooked shrimp, rice noodles, and plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables for flavor and crunch. Once your ingredients are prepped, the rolling fun begins as sheets of rice paper are softened in water and used for the wrappers. Dipped in a spicy peanut sauce, these rolls are a great hot-weather appetizer or light lunch.
Speaking of Chowhound, make sure to look at their step-by-step directions with photos like the one below.
Let’s Start with the Rice Wapper Paper
Unlike a Chinese egg roll, Vietnamese spring roll uses a paper-thin wrapper made from rice. They come dry and to soften them up to use they must be soaked in hot water for a few seconds. Yes, I said seconds.
The problem is, they are usually hard to find. Sometimes you can find them at Oriental markets. And if you live in big cities, you might find them in supermarkets. Or not. Muse Ranch in on the outer edges of Los Angles County. That’s over 10 million people so you would think I could find then around here. Instead, I head over to Amazon and order them for there. It’s so, so easy and with Amazon Prime, I get my order in two days. I order Three Ladies Brand rice paper wraps (the 3-pack and they last for a long time. BTW).
5 Delicious Spring Roll Recipes
Well, almost. Usually, some type of pre-cooked meat or shellfish (such as shrimp) is used, along with some thinly sliced vegetables and some type of filler such as rice noodles or plain rice. All that goodness is then folded into rice paper wraps. Here are 5 recipes that will have you smacking your lips.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls Recipe (Gỏi cuốn)
Vegan Vietnamese Tofu Spring Rolls
Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls
Nem Nuong Cuon Spring Rolls with Grilled Pork Patties
Lemongrass Beef with Rice Paper
Dipping Sauces Take These Summer Rolls Over the Top
There seem to be two types of sauces people like to dip their Vietnamese spring roll into.
- Peanut Sauce
- Fish Sauce
They’re both great, but my favorite (as is Mr. Muse’s) is the fish sauce. It seems to be a bit more traditional. One blogger I read said that every Vietnamese family had their own version of the sauce. The base of the sauce is made from a bottled fish sauce and a limeade. Then additional ingredients such as garlic, red peppers, and ginger can be added (I like all three). Just like the rice wrappers, the fish sauce can be hard to find. That’s why I usually order my fron Amazon, as well. Red Boat Fish Sauce is a favorite of mine and I like that Amazon has the big 17-ounce bottle.
Hungry Huy has one of the best fish sauce recipes I found.
Vietnamese Fish Sauce Recipe (Nước Chấm)
If peanuts are more your taste, check out this spicy peanut sauce dip.
Vietnamese Peanut Sauce
It’s a Wrap for These Spring Rolls
As yo can imagine, wrapping up the food in that thin sheet of rice paper is the hardest part of the job. I’m still trying to master that, but even when they’re a little loose and falling apart, the spring rolls still taste wonderful. If you want to see how it’s done, take a look at this video:
I hope all these Vietnamese spring roll recipes and tips inspires you… I know they are making me hungry again 😉
See ya all soon,
P.S. Don’t forget to pin this page!
I hate it when I wake in the morning to find those icky little insects crawling around my kitchen counter, but this year, I’m going to be prepared… this year I’ll find the safest way to get rid of ants and never have to see them for the rest of the summer.
It starting to get warm here At Muse Ranch… 84 degrees and climbing. That means the ants will be back… and in the house most likely. Some years it’s not so much. The last two years have been super dry and that may be why I haven’t seen those nasty little creatures as much. This past winter, however, has been wet. I can just see a platoon of ants marching toward my kitchen for a breakfast. Yuck!
The thing is… I just can’t use poisons to get rid of the little #@*^!!!!s. There are too many kidlets and animals running around the ranch. And I hate the idea of poisons anywhere inside the house. So, I’ve been on the search for natural ways to get rid of ants and this is what I’ve found:
Natural Ant Repellent with 4 Ingredients
Ah, good ol’ vinegar is one of four ingredients. There are so many ways I use it At Muse Ranch, from cleaning to salad dressing. Nice to know that it works on getting rid of those creepy, crawly things, too. Soccer Mom Blog shares her favorite recipes for this ant killing spray.
And here are a couple more repellent ideas from Coffe With Us 3.
The Ant Bait in the Kitchen that Gets Rid of Those Ants Every Time
Becky from Clover and Thyme uses this idea in her kitchen every Spring with the creepy little bugs appears: sugar, water and Borax. She says it always works for her. Well, since the kitchen is where I find ants most of the time, I’m going to give Becky’s idea a try. Check it out for yourself.
Citrus peel spray to get rid of ants? Now that’s a new one on me and it’s one of seven natural ways to eliminate ants that shared by MommyPotamus.
Essential Oils to Get Rid of Ants, Ooh, I Like the Smell of That
I use essential oils in diffusers all around the house here At Muse Ranch. But to kill ants? I might want to try this idea, too. Chip= from Chipptips says this concoction works well. He also has some other ideas for bug-proofing your home.
I love this chart from The Indian Spot on what essential oils to use on all kinds of creepy crawlers.
And I Want to Get Rid of those Ants Outside, Too
Renae from How to Have it All has six great ideas to kill ants in outside, whether it’s around the house or in the garden. Some are similar to the ones used inside, but there’s also a couple new ones to consider. I’m partial to the Garlic Hot Sauce Spray.
Interesting Facts About Cornmeal, Ants, and Weeds
I loved this tidbit from Garden Know How about cornmeal. Yeah, it gets rid of ants, too, but there’s more.
Don’t You Just Hate Fire Ants
They are the worst. Really. And when they bite… ouch. This recipe from Bare Feet on the Dashboard uses ingredients you probably already have around the house.
And P. Allen Smith shows us how he fights fire ants in this video.
I know I’ve come away with some news ideas to fight ants this year. What about you? Are these ideas you’ll be trying this year. Or do you have some of your own.
Until next time,
Wow, no wonder people are learning how to make their own dog food! There has been another dog food recall recently and this time it’s for an organic product that might contain a chemical that’s used to euthanize animals. Now no one knows for sure if this is true yet and the cans of dog food in question are being tested. The dog food company did the right thing, too, by recalling all the cans from those two lots while the testing and investigating goes on.
But… it’s not the first time we’ve heard dog food recall stories.
And, as I said, it one of the reasons more people are making their own food.
Why is Making Your Own Dog Food Better?
One of the other reason is that homemade dog food is just better for your dog. Just for all the same reasons you want to eat good food. It’s healthier. But you don’t have to go crazy overboard with feeding Fido. That’s why I like the approach Whole Dog Journal takes.
Don’t bother trying to make every single one of your dog’s meal nutritionally complete; as long as he’s receiving what he needs over a week or two, he’ll be fine. This approach is similar to how we feed ourselves and our families.
I also like the simple DIY recipe they offer (plus a whole lot of other good info, too).
And when the dog food looks this yummy you just might be tempted to eat it yourself (BTW, you could). Chungah from Damn Delicious keeps her pup healthy with this simple recipe.
You Think it Cost Too Much, Right?
You would be wrong then. The Bark shares this Puppy Stew us and breaks down the price to about $2.25 per serving. Really, when you think about the costs of good dry dog food and maybe a can or so of wet food, then that not too expensive for your favorite dog.
Making and Storing Homemade Dog Food
I know, I know, some days it’s hard enough just to get dinner on the table for the family. Having to make another dinner just for your dog might drive you over the edge. Fortunately, you can make up a big batch of dog food every week or two (or even once a month) and freeze it in storage bags.
Dog, Allergies and the Food They Eat
According to WebMD, 10% of allergies in dogs are attributed to foods. Yeah, the things they eat can be they cause them all kinds of problems, from tummy ache, diarrhea to scratching up a storm.
The most common allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. And, most dogs are usually allergic to more than one thing.
Yikes. And a lot of those items are found in the commercial food we feed our dogs. Dr. Becker explains it this way and why she recommends a novel protein diet.
Is it Okay to Feed my Dog Raw Food?
Most people (and even vets) don’t recommend raw diets for the dog for the same reasons you and I don’t at certain raw foods: Salmonella and e.coli. Yup, that’s a good possibility. But there are some folks who believe it’s the best thing for their animals, essentially because… well, because a dog is an animal and in the wild, they eat everything raw. Here an explanation about it from Wikipedia.
Still Looking for More Ideas?
I like easy, don’t you? And nothing says easy like a slow cooker. And yes, you can make homemade dog food in a slower cooker. I love this recipe from food.com.
And this dog food in a slow cooker recipe builder that was shared on The Huffington Post…
Just go ahead and admit it: your do is your best friend. And really, don’t you want your best friend to have the best? Make your own homemade just make sense. For a healthier and happier best friend!
Do come back soon for more inspiration.
A few days ago when I wrote about towel storage ideas, the one solution that stood out for me was wire baskets. The style is incredible. Yeah, I do have a soft spot for anything country, shabby chic, flea market style. But they basket… containers… whatever you want to call them, offer a lot of storage solutions.
You can use them in every room:
- Kitchen & pantries
- Living Rooms
Of course, I headed over to Amazon to see what kinds of wire and metal storage ideas I could find. A lot. I chose 18 of my favorite ideas to share with you in three categories.
Hanging and Wall Mounted Wire Baskets
I’m loving hanging baskets and not just ones that you hang from a hook in the ceiling. I like the idea of hanging them from hooks on towel racks or just hooks attached directly to a wall. Or, as you can see from some of these ideas below, they can be mounted directly to a wall. Just make sure that however you hang or mount these basket, they held securely.
Standing Wire Containers
These big, standing wire and/or metal containers offer a lot of storage, from extra towel or blankets to kids’ toys. Just think of all the place you could use one of these beauties.
Small Wire and Metal Baskets & Bins
I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, especially when it comes to storage. Just because an item is meant for one thing doesn’t mean you can’t use it for another. Take the first basket below. It’s meant to collect eggs, but it works just as well holding fruit or cleaning products. And the two wine racks below… well, how they’re perfect for towels.
So after looking at all these oh, so cool wire basket, are they giving you new storage ideas. I do hope so.
Come back to At Muse Ranch again for more ideas and inspirations. Till then,
It’s starting to warm up here At Muse Ranch and I’m looking for porch decorating ideas… on a budget! That extra living space comes in handy and it got me thinking that I really to want to treat the porch as another room this year. So I’ve been scouring the Net and I’ve come up with eight essentials I will need. Fortunately, they are all super easy.
Comfortable seating is a must, but expensive porch chairs are not in the budgets this year. So, I’ll try plastic Adirondack chairs this year. They’re inexpensive to buy. Easy to maintain. And they can even be painted when they start to fade… and decorated like this beauty.
A Rug helps define a space and give a “homey” look to the porch. The best ones are the ones made for outdoors.
BTW, if you haven’t been to Fun Home Things, check it out. It’s so… well, fun! And don’t miss Katie’s She Shed office. I’m sooooo envious!
Colorful pillows are a must for my porch, even if then end up on the floor lots of the times. I love the punches of color they over. And they are easy and inexpensive to change out when you need a new look.
Small tables are a porch must-have, too. They’re great for hold plants and candles. And an especially handy place to sit the wine glasses as Mr. Muse and I watch the sunset.
Something unexpected is always a fun addition to a porch, especially when they are as colorful as these painted twigs. Oh, and they are a super, super cheap idea, too.
Then something quirky. Love the croquet set and scale shared by Hoosier Homemade (see above pic, too).
I love plants… anywhere… even the porch! Green. Flowering. Hanging. Standing tall. It doesn’t matter.
Finally, a my porch decorating won’t be complete without candles. I love this hanging one. It big and it won’t get accidentally knocked over. And besides, it looks so cool nestled in those stones.
I did a quick calculation and I think I can incorporate all of these idea on my porch this summer for less than $100. Now, that’s my kind of budget.
Hope to see you here At Muse Ranch soon for more tips, hacks and inspirations. Till then…
Getting kids to eat their vegetables might seem like an almost impossible task, but there’s been a whole bunch of people working on it.
A Washington Post article points out that researchers at Texas A & M University, we now officially know something that we moms probably knew all along:
Kids, in short, are much more likely to eat their vegetable portion when it’s paired with a food that isn’t so delicious it gets all the attention. When chicken nuggets and burgers, the most popular items among schoolchildren, are on the menu, for instance, vegetable waste tends to rise significantly. When other less-beloved foods, like deli sliders or baked potatoes, are served, the opposite seems to happen.
Ah ha! The trick is isolation. Feed the kids their vegetables with something else they are not to keen on or… feed them only veggies.
The article goes on to report that the “eat your veggies first is the strategy” is one Traci Mann embraces. She teaches psychology and studies eating habits at the University of Minnesota.
Eat them before other food is on your plate, or even at your table. And that way, you get them when you’re hungriest and unable to pick something else instead.
By the way, that strategy works for adults as well as kids.
But brilliant moms already know this… and they also know a few other tricks that work. Here are five of the best ideas–and foods–to get kids to eat their vegetables.
Yes, love the idea of serve veggies first. That can be with platter of veggie appetizers and dip for a snack. I love this idea of serving veggie sticks and dip (yorgurt-based, I hope) in a cup. And you don’t have to wait for a party to make these. They’re easy for an everyday afterschool snack.
I like the idea of serving salads first instead of adding them to the plates, family-style. Yeah, it’s an extra few dishes to wash, but who cares if junior and juniorette eat their salad. And, there’s something so… mannerly about salads first.
Have you noticed that anything you put on a skewer delights kids. Maybe it’s a type popsicle psychology.
Let them eat with their fingers. It’s a tactile thing… and fun, too. And these cubed honey roasted butternut squash cubes look so yummy.
Okay, it all else fails, sneak the food into their diets, one way or another. One of my favorite ways is in a smoothie. Yum!
There are some really “brilliant” ideas to get your kids to eat their veggies… and maybe you, too.
Be sure to stop by At Muse Ranch again for more tips, hacks, and inspirations,
When I was a kid, canned tomato soup was a staple and about the only way my mom dressed it up is by substituting milk for a can of water. Of course, Mom always made sure we had something else hearty to go along with that hot bowl of soup, like a gooey grilled cheese sandwiches. Those were good memories.
Around Muse Ranch, those cans of tomato soup were usually reserved for quick lunches. But lately…
I’ve been finding this old standby is making a comeback. Mostly it’s been a time factor for me. As in, super quick, get the meal on the table in 15 minutes or less. Oh, and make it yummy!
But I don’t want the same old, same old, so I’ve been on the hunt for some ways to dress up my can of soup (or carton if I’m buying it at Trader Joes). What have I found? Well…
1. Mix in salsa, add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with broken tortilla chips a taco soup-like inspiration. Or you follow Campbell’s recipe below.
2. Sprinkle with diced pepperoni and grated mozzarella cheese for a soupy pizza party.
3. Add thinly sliced garlic and basil as you are warming up the soup. Top with croutons.
4. -Top with crumbled bacon and chopped hard cooked eggs. Make cheese toast.
5. Add a can of stewed tomatoes for a chunkier soup. Use a wooden spoon to chop up the tomatoes.
6. Or give it an Italian twist with a can of Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes and chicken broth.
7. Add parmesan cheese & oregano (fresh if you have it, but a little dried is okay while you’re warming the soup up.
8. Mix in a can of diced tomatoes, along with some fresh dill while cooking your soup. Served chilled in the summer. 9. Get spicy with some pepper and crap meat.
10. Add a handful of leftover cooked pasta.
11. Place a slice of gorgonzola cheese on top. Pop into the microwave to melt. Yum!
12. Crumbled cooked bacon over a bowl of soup and then sprinkle with cheddar Cheese
13. Top hot tomato soup with Monterey Jack & jalapeno slices.
14. Sauteed mushrooms and sprinkle onto soup along with some sliced Brie cheese.
15. Add some sliced spinach and call it tomato Florentine Soup.
16. Cook with cream cheese for a super smooth and creamy soup.
17. Toasted slice of French Bread sprinkled with mozzarella or parmesan cheese.
18. Spice it up with sriracha sauce for a Thai inspiration.
19. Add a spoonful of pesto (store bought is okay) and sprinkle with a few pine nuts.
20. Thai red curry paste and some cooked rice. Be outrageous and then tops with a few cooked
21. Sautee onions, garlic and sliced kale (but don’t overcook) and sprinkle over your tomato soup,
22. Add a scoop of rice in a bowl. Pour a serving a tomato soup around the rice and then top with Thai Curry Sauce, red or yellow, your choice.
23. Serve with a slice of fried polenta topped with parm cheese.
24. Serve bowls of soup with poached eggs and your favorite sauteed greens for a quick shakshuka.
25. Of course, the classic, good old tomato soup with a side of grilled cheese. Lip-licking good.
Don’t forget, you can add also dress up you canned tomato soup with all type of crackers, from fish-shaped ones (kids love those) to your favorite butter, cheese or multi-grain. It’s all good!
Don’t forget to shop your favorite Campbell’s soups at the Amazon Pantry.
Be sure to stop by At Muse Ranch again for more inspirations.
Do you need a fix for dry, lumpy mascara? Since I spend more time at cleaning chicken coops and walking the dusty roads of Muse Ranch, I don’t “pretty up” all the often. (Thank goodness Mr. Muse likes the natural look).
Unfortunately, that means make-up takes a big hit. And since mascara and lip gloss are my primary face paints well… as you’d expect I’m more often than not left with a dried up tube of mascara.
What’s a girl to do?
Come to find out… lots.
Visine drops! I don’t know why that surprise me so because it truly is genius. Visine drops, or any other eye moisturizer. Start with just a drop or two and stir the wand to mix. Too much liquid leaves you with another kind o a mess… like dripping into your eyes. Not good.
MakeupTutorials.com offers a three-step process for dried mascara. Hot water, contact solution and shake vigorously.
Some people say the hot water alone to melt down the lumps. But Kimmie from WhatKimmieDidNext.com found that didn’t work as well and she added baby oil. That did the trick for her.
Another fix for dried mascara comes from FashionLady.in. Along with some of the other methods mentioned, she’s like Aloe Vera as a gentle, natural solution.
A favorite solution of mine is to use lavender essential oil to revive the dried stuff in the tube. But it has the added benefit of being a lash conditioner… and it smells so good, too.
These are some great ideas for extending the life of your mascara, but don’t forget these tips, too:
- Replace mascara every three to four months. It’s a sad fact for someone like me who uses it so infrequently, but it’s a fact of life. Old mascara just invites eye problems. I use a Sharpie and write the buy date (silver works well on dark tubes).
- Swirl or twirl your wand instead of pumping to mix your mascara in the tube. Pumping helps dry out the mascara, as well as invites bacteria growth.
- Make sure to close the tube tightly after it’s used.
Looking for some new mascara. Here are four of the popular brand on Amazon today.
Now go be pretty!
Yuck, I need to clean my oven, desperately, but I don’t want to use an of those harsh chemical cleaners. I can almost feel my skin itching at the thought of it. I’m looking for something more natural. And it would be great if I don’t have to run out to the store and buy anything.
So, I’ve been hitting the Internet this morning, looking for the best natural oven cleaning ideas. I’ve found and few and luckily, the best of them use ingredients I already have in the house.
Here are the five that impressed me the most and two of them are already in the works as I write this.
Wellness Mama is a favorite blogger and I love how she always heads straight for the simple. And for cleaning a nasty oven, you can’t get more simple than baking soda and water.
I love reading at The Kitchn, too, but is usually for the recipes. (Of course, that inspired cooking is what help make my oven so yucky). Baking soda is a prime ingredient in this method, but vinegar is what gives it a boost. (BTW, have you ever seen what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar?)
Sommer at Pioneer Woman advocates the using the oven’s self-cleaning function. (Geez, the last time I tried that, my oven locked up for three days until I finally had to turn the power off). Fortunately, she also uses the baking soda and vinegar solution as an alternative. (Love, love all her pics, too.) .
MamaApproved added a little lemon essential oil to the above mixture. Love that smell. Her video is awesome, too.
After reading and viewing all the possibilities I’m currently using the last two. The inside of my oven is currently covered with a paste of baking soda, water, and essential oil. Tomorrow morning I’ll spray it with vinegar. And then scrub.
The racks are in the bathtub soaking. I’m going to leave them to sit overnight too. I’ll scrub those tomorrow, too.
And I’ll add and my date, after all, is done… and hopefully sparking clean.