‘Tis the Season for Oranges

Hi there, friends!

Can you believe it? Christmas is just a few days away! The years seem to pass by faster and faster. Are you all ready for the holiday? I am pretty much on track. However, there are always little tasks that I wish I had completed sooner, but I am confident, with the help of my kids, that they will all get done.

The biggest task remaining is setting up and decorating the Christmas tree. 🎄 We were puppy-sitting for the past couple of days and I figured that a Lab puppy along with our three dogs and cat running around the living room might not be a healthy environment for a nicely decorated Christmas tree. 🙂 So, I decided to wait until the end of this week after the kids are out of school to decorate the tree. I have even decided to hand the decorating baton over entirely to the kids! This hand off is a huge step for me…a lifelong perfectionist. I am so excited to see their masterpiece!

Now, onto my real topic for this post…ORANGES! 🍊🍊🍊One of the best things about the holiday season is the abundance of oranges. Where we live, they are everywhere! Those that have orange trees are just looking for others to share them with, and if you are unable to snag a bunch from a friend or neighbor, you can get them very inexpensively at the supermarket right now.

But, what to do with all those oranges? Of course, you can peel and eat or juice them, but there are endless additional options that an abundance of oranges has to offer. I would like to share a few ideas…

  1. You could make a yummy dessert, such as my Orange-Walnut Upside-Down Cake.
  2. Remember not to throw your peels away! You can use them for Homemade Fall Simmering Potpurri.
  3. Your abundance of oranges and their peels can be used to make a tasty, tangy orange marmalade with this recipe, littlethings.com/crock-pot-marmalade-recipe.
  4. Finally, you can slice them thin and oven dry them for potpourri or decoration. Here’s how…

Oven Dried Orange Slices

Ingredients:

  • Oranges (other citrus fruits would work great as well, such as, limes, lemons, or grapefruit)

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 200 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Slice oranges as thin as possible. This allows for quicker drying.
  • Place slices on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake until completely dry, turning slices occasionally. I noticed that mine took most of the day to dry, but keep an eye on them as ovens vary.
  • Allow slices to cool and leave uncovered overnight to make sure they are completely dry.
  • Use as desired.

* While this is a very simple project, it does take quite sometime for the orange slices to dry. However, the aroma given off during baking is amazing!

I used some of my dried slices to decorate the lids for my Orange Marmalade that will be given as Christmas gifts.

Enjoy!

❤️ Karen

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Homemade Fall Simmering Potpurri


Hi there, friends!

Update on Hubby… the angiogram went well! There was some blockage that the doctor cleared, but his stents look great and there was no need for additional stents. Yay! He needs to take it easy for a few days, and I’ll see to that! 

Now, onto today’s post…

IT’S FALL!! 🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁

Yes, I know, for most of you, fall began over a month ago. Well, here in the desert, we continue to see minimal evidence of the change of seasons. If it weren’t for stores displaying tons of fall product, we would assume it was still summer.

Why, you may ask? The picture below will most likely answer any questions you may have. Yep. We are still experiencing temperatures in the 90’s at the end of October! 🌡


While I have not begun to enjoy nice, brisk mornings,  I am more than mentally ready for fall! I’ve decorated, bought the 10# can of pumpkin, and have prepared some fall “comfort food”. However, this year I have added a new task to my “fall plan”… making homemade potpurri. 

For the past few years (probably even longer), it seems as if simmering potpurri has disappeared. I am a child of the 70-80’s and I vividly recall the days when almost everyone had some wonderfully smelling (yep, I just used that phrase) potpurri simmering in a potpurri pot or in a pot on the stove. Anyone remember these?


They were cute little Crockpots that we used for simmering potpurri. The one pictured above is an exact replica of the one I received as a young wife and used for many years. I cannot recall what happened to mine, but I think I’m going to have to try to find one on EBay! 

True, the days of simmering potpurri have given way to masses of candles and wax melts. Don’t get me wrong, I adore a great candle and melt, especially vanilla or cinnamon apple. But… my nose (and emotions) still yearn for a warm, fragrant pot of simmering potpurri in the fall. 

The best thing about potpurri, aside from the aroma? I’ll tell you…

  • It can be made from ingredients you already have in your kitchen
  • It only costs pennies to make
  • It can be put together in a matter of minutes 
  • It can be tailored to your choice of fragrance 

Well, that’s four “best things”, but you get the idea. 😄


Here’s how I made mine…

Homemade Simmering Potpurri

Ingredients:

  • Peels from 3-4 tangerines or other oranges
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 quarts water

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a 2-3 quart pot and simmer. Check water level regularly and add water as needed.

[\recipe]

❤️Karen

I’m Still Here!


Hi there, friends! Long time, no blog!

I have been absent for a few months, but I didn’t forget about all of you! I hope you all are doing well!

Things have been a little crazy in karensordinarylife life recently. I’ll fill you in…

Just a few days after my last post, our family moved into a “new” rental home. New to us, but a cute little 60’s era home. We love it! ❤️🏡❤️. We are still in the same town, but on the opposite end. For us, this means being a few miles away from the river and being surrounded by canals and farmland. 

The property is approximately four acres and the owner is planning to turn it into a small farm with chickens, pigs, and other little critters. I have never experienced any kind of farm life, but I love all little creatures (with the exception of snakes 🐍), so I’m going to have a lot of fun! 

The owner decided to start with chickens 🐔. He has a number of chicks and chickens at his home waiting for their home to get ready. Meanwhile, we have the first bunch (a rooster and some hens) at our house. I am really enjoying getting to know their habits and personalities! They make me laugh every day! I have also had the opportunity to care for the eggs and chicks during hatch. Oh my goodness!! They are adorable when they first enter the world! ❤️

As we were settling into our new home, Hubby began feeling under the weather. He has a history of heart and stomach issues, so we have been traveling the hundred miles back and forth to his doctor’s appointments. He had an ulcer cauterized early last month and began to feel better, but not 100%, so his cardiologist ordered an echocardiogram and angiogram. I’m am writing this post as I am waiting to help keep my mind occupied and calm. His bloodwork and other tests all look normal, so I’m praying it will go well.  I’ll update when I have information on his tests. 

Although I’m not sharing a recipe today, I have been working on a few things that I will share soon. For now, I’m sharing some photos of my new feathered friends. I need to work on my “chicken photo taking skills”, since they aren’t concerned with being cooperative. 😂

I am very excited to catch up with all of you and to begin posting again! 

Thanks for reading!

❤️Karen

Cajun Fish Roll-Ups

 

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Hi there, friends! Happy Tuesday! 🙂

Yesterday, I shared my recipe for Homemade Cajun Seasoning and today, I am sharing and idea for using this yummy seasoning.

As you can imagine, Cajun seasoning is the perfect addition to fish. I used tilapia, but I am sure that it would be just as yummy on salmon or any other kind of fish or seafood.

Since the fish is grilled for this recipe, it is a fantastic summer dinner. There is no need to heat up the house and it is ready in minutes, helping with busy summer schedules.

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One more perk…the seasoned grilled fish is extremely versatile. You could use it in tacos, salads, or with rice or pasta.

Here’s how simple it is…

Cajun Fish Roll-Ups

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds frozen tilapia fillets (or your choice of fish)
  • Homemade Cajun Seasoning
  • flour tortillas
  • spinach
  • sliced tomatoes
  • choice of dressing…I use my Homemade Ranch Dip Mix mixed with 1 cup mayonnaise, 3/4 cup milk, the juice of one lime, and minced fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Several hours prior to grilling, remove fish from freezer, layer into baking dish, and sprinkle with desired amount of seasoning.
  • Place seasoned fish in fridge to defrost until ready to grill.
  • Grill at 350-400 until cooked through. It only takes a couple of minutes, so be sure to keep an eye on it. 😉
  • Place fish, spinach, tomato, and dressing on the tortilla and “wrap”.

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Enjoy! ❤

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

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Hi there, friends!

For those of you that have followed my blog for a while, you know that I prefer to make my own mixed seasonings. In the past, I have shared my recipes for Homemade Taco Seasoning and Homemade Ranch Dip Mix .

I have several reasons for making my own mixed seasonings…

  • they allow me to adjust the different spices to my family’s tastes
  • they typically contains a lot less salt than prepacked mixed seasonings
  • finally, mixing my own seasonings saves me a lot of money (always important!)

Today, I am sharing my recipe for Cajun Seasoning Mix. This seasoning blend can be used in a myriad of different dishes. It tastes great on fish, poultry, and beef. It can also be used in rice and pasta dishes, and the list goes on and on…

Here’s how I put it together…

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed

Directions:

  • Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and store in an air-tight container.

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Enjoy! ❤

“Grilled” Grilled Onions


Hi there, friends!

I sure hope that y’all are staying a little cooler than we are out here in our corner of the world! This is my fifth summer here in the desert and it has been the hottest thus far.

With our extreme temperatures, I try to make as many “cool” meals as possible. That means that I make dishes that can be prepared in the morning, when it is still a little cooler in the house, or things that can be prepared on the grill later in the day.

My “grilled” grilled onions are an example of something that I typically make in the kitchen during the cooler months, but move their preparation outside during the blazing summer heat. Basically, they are just grilled onions made on the grill, so “grilled” grilled onions. 😉

Besides the flavor and yummy-ness of these onions, the best part is that you prep, put them on the grill, and walk away until they are done. So easy!!

I love grilled onions on burgers and hot links, of course, but they are great on tacos as well. What is your favorite way to use grilled onions?

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Here’s how easy it is…

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • seasoning salt

Directions:

  • Preheat grill to 350-400 degrees.
  • Spread onion slices on a sheet of aluminum foil.
  • Drop butter pieces on top and sprinkle with desired amount of seasoning salt.
  • Cover with an additional sheet of foil and foil edges together (making a packet).  *I use a cookie sheet underneath for transporting to and from the grill
  • Place packet on grill and grill for approximately 20 minutes.

I personally like a small amount of the “blackened” onions on the bottom, so I grill mine a little longer. 😊




Enjoy! ❤️

Furry Family Member #3 – Houston

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Hi there, friends!

I hope you are having an awesome weekend! I wanted to take the time to introduce you to our third furry family member…Houston.

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Houston loves sleeping in small spaces that he wedges himself into.
Houston is a our oldest and only boy furry family member.  He is an eleven-year-old Jack Russell Terrier with a rough coat.

For the past ten years, Houston has been a happy, loyal, cherished member of our family. He came to us when he was a year old from a Chihuahua Rescue. Yep. A Chihuahua Rescue. We were told that there was nowhere else (that would not euthanize) for him to go, so they accepted him, knowing that his sweet nature would aid in his quick adoption.

The rescue staff was right! Houston was adopted by us during his first rescue event at our local PetSmart. Placed in the first kennel, at eye-level inside the door, we could not help but see his sweet face and wagging tail as we walked into the store . I knew as soon as I made eye contact with this little guy that he was going home with us!

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The day Houston joined our family!
He has been a source of unconditional love, loyalty, fun, and humor for our family and we hope that he will be with us for many years to come!! We love our “Pupster”. ❤️

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Enjoy! ❤️

Ooey, Gooey, Chocolatey Brownies

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Hi there, friends!

I hope y’all survived the holiday week. Weeks like these always throw me a little off-kilter. It began as an extended weekend and then it seemed like forever before the rest of the week ended.

Yesterday was a very long day for Hubby and I. After working a full eight hours, Hubby came home and we went to visit a family member of his in the hospital. Since we are a little “off the beaten path” and a few hours from family, it was a 6 hour round trip. It was a very nice visit and I loved hearing stories about Hubby as a child from his godfather…memories from those that are treasured and never forgotten. ❤

The kids stayed home together while we were gone and my youngest daughter made brownies for everyone to enjoy. Seeing her brownies on the counter made me remember to share a very yummy brownie recipe with you…

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I made these brownies a few weeks ago, and I think I have found my “forever” brownie recipe! For any of you that may be weary of the addition of espresso powder, it does not give the brownies a coffee flavor. It just enhances and brings out the flavor of the chocolate. Yum….

Here’s how I made them…

Ooey, Gooey, Chocolatey Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounce package unsweetened baking chocolate squares
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 cup flour

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9×9 baking pan or dish with cooking spray.
  • Melt chocolate squares and butter in microwave for approximately 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir mixture until combined.
  • Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder until well combined.
  • Add flour and stir until combined. Pour into greased baking dish.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until done.

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Enjoy! ❤

Sesame Pork

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Hi there, friends!

The recipe I am sharing today is for a YUMMY dinner dish that is also quick and simple. I had this meal ready to serve in about 30 minutes and I was not in a hurry. I just happened to notice how quick it came together when I was ready to serve.

For the meat, I just used thin cut, boneless pork chops. I usually have them on hand in the freezer because they are relatively inexpensive and thaw quickly for fast, frugal meals.

I chose to serve the pork on rice noodles because I had a package in the pantry. However, I think I am going to try using plain ramen noodles (minus the seasoning packet) or brown rice next time. I am sure it would be great on pasta or a bed of veggies as well. This is one of those dishes that you can change up in many different ways to match your own taste or pantry contents.

Here’s how I made it…

Sesame Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1-2 pounds boneless, thin cut pork chops, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • sesame seeds and sliced scallions for garnish

* Optional- 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water stirred together (for thickening the sauce)

Directions:

  • Heat canola and sesame oils in large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add pork strips and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Meanwhile, make sauce by whisking remaining ingredients together in a bowl. Mix cornstarch and water together in separate small bowl.
  • After pork is cooked through, add sauce to pork and stir to mix. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  • If sauce is too thin, add small amounts of the cornstarch mixture until sauce reached desired thickness.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.

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Enjoy! ❤

 

An Easy Way to Shuck Corn

IMG_1424 - CopyHi there, friends! I hope y’all had a great Independence Day!

We had a great long weekend spending time with my “adopted” daughter and her new girlfriend and going to our local fireworks show. Our fire department (which is largely volunteer) does an amazing job fundraising and executing an amazing display every year!

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I am sure that many of you served corn on the cob for your celebrations. Corn on the cob is one of my absolute favorite foods. As a child I loved to shuck the corn for my mom and then wait impatiently for it to boil to perfection. My love for corn on the cob has not changed with the passing years, but my love of shucking the corn definitely has! I am sure it has something to do with having to fix an entire meal instead of just helping Mom with a simple task. 🙂

For years, I have done it the traditional way…over the sink or trash can, leaf by leaf, string by endless string, until it was ready to go. Then, a couple of weeks ago, a friend gave us a scad of fresh picked ears. There was too much for us to eat within a few days, so I needed to freeze about a half dozen ears. With other chores waiting to get done, I did not have a lot of time to spend shucking corn, so I decided to try something different.

It worked wonderfully! It was much easier and took less time than traditional shucking. Plus, it completely prepped the corn for freezing!

Here’s how I did it…

First, I cut each end of the ear with a sharp knife…IMG_1427

I then used the knife to cut a slit through the leaves, lengthwise…IMG_1428

Finally, I was able to pull all of the leaves and most of the strings all at once away from the ear…IMG_1429

Voila! Fresh, yummy ears of corn ready to freeze, boil, or grill!IMG_1424 - Copy

Enjoy! ❤