Cucumber Sandwiches

A couple of days ago, I was looking on Pinterest at Cucumber Sandwich recipes, and I was surprised at how many different versions there were. I didn’t realize there were so many ways to make a cucumber sandwich!

Today, I am dealing with a migraine, so my post will be especially short. But I still wanted to share the recipe I grew up eating for Foodie Friday! If you try it, let me know what you think!

Cucumber Sandwiches

  • 1 Cucumber, peeled
  • White bread (I made about 6 sandwiches with this recipe
  • 1 8oz block of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 shallot or small onion, finely diced

Beat cream cheese in medium bowl. Add salt, lemon juice, mayo, and worcestershire sauce until well mixed. Add onion. Set aside.

Slice cucumber into thin slices (about 1/8″ thick).

Take 2 slices of bread, and spread cream cheese mixture on both sides. Place cucumber slices on bottom piece of bread, then gently press the two sides together. Repeat until you run out of cream cheese.

If serving a crowd, you can cut the crusts off of the sandwiches and cut each sandwich into 4 slices, which is what I did.

Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers.

The New Face of Homemaking Hacker

So I’ve taken an absence from my homemaking blog for several months. My life got pretty hectic, so this blog had to be dropped for a bit. Even now my schedule is pretty full as I start a new endeavor in my life. I am currently working on my coaching certification with the hopes of starting a life coaching business. Since I will be investing my time toward this new career, I won’t be managing this blog anymore. But there is some good news, my daughter, Cecily will be taking over the managing of the Homemaking Hacker blog and social media pages. Cecily’s excited to get to share her skills of cooking, art, crafts, and gardening.

A little about Cecily

She graduated in 2015 from Daniel 1 Academy after being homeschooled for 13 years. She attended Tennessee Technological University earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design in 2019. She is married to Parker and they make their home in Sparta, Tn with a Tiny Toy Poodle named Beast, a Britney Spaniel named Kala, and a porch loving cat named Joel. Parker works full time as a Chemical engineer and serves as the College Minister at Willow Avenue church of Christ in Cookeville, TN. Cecily and Parker share a love for music, paddle boarding, hiking, and traveling.

Cecily loves trying new recipes, singing, decorating, gardening, and art. Recently she’s discovered a green thumb with house plants (she did not get this from her mother) and growing herbs to cook with. Cecily works as a freelance graphic designer at her company Smiling Moon Design Co. specializing in simplifying branding and design for small businesses.

I know that you will be blessed with Cecily and her addition to the Homemaking Hacker and you will see me from time to time.

So until next time

Photo credit http://www.zachandsarahphotography.com/

Easy Sausage Breakfast Casserole

It’s Foodie Friday! Last Friday I wasn’t able to post because I was busy cooking all day for our Friendsgiving. I made chicken taquitos, which turned out delicious! Hopefully I can post that recipe soon.

Anyway, here is a breakfast casserole recipe that’s super easy and super yummy. Normally my husband and I don’t care for breakfast casseroles. They’re usually heavy or too eggy. But, my husband will actually request me to make this one, which is a huge accomplishment!

A little background on this recipe. I actually got this “recipe” from my mother-in-law. I put recipe in quotation marks because she didn’t have an exact recipe, but more just explained to me how to make it and what was in it. She made it one weekend when we were there and it was delicious!
So a couple of weeks ago I tried to make this for the first time for a group. I was pretty sure I knew how to make it, but I tried to find a recipe just so I had something in front of me. After a little research on Pinterest, I couldn’t find a recipe like the one my mother-in-law made. So I did the best I could by combining a couple of recipes and working off of my own memory. The recipe turned out to be a huge hit, and very forgiving as well!
The main ingredients stay the same – sausage, cream cheese, and crescent rolls, but you can play around with some additions (I like to add some onion and shredded cheese) and the ratios. You might want more filling or more bread. I highly recommend figuring out what you like best!
Enough rambling by me though, here’s the recipe!

Super Easy Breakfast Casserole

 Ingredients 

  • 1lbs sausage
  • 1 8oz brick cream cheese (softened) 
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Colby Jack) 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped 
  • 2 packages crescent rolls
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper  

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Brown sausage and onion in skillet. 
  3. While sausage is cooking, grease 8×10 pan. Lay 1 package of crescent rolls in the bottom, pinching the seems together.
  4. Beast cream cheese, egg, salt, and pepper together. Once combined, fold in shredded cheese. 
  5. Once sausage is fully browned, drain and add to cream cheese mixture. 
  6. Spread cream cheese sausage mixture on top of bottom crescent roll.  
  7. Top with other package of crescent rolls, pinching seems together. 
  8. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Notes:
• This recipe can easily be assembled the night before, refrigerated, and then baked the next morning. It’s great for making ahead.
• You can use your favorite shredded cheese. Cheddar, Colby-Jack, and Pepper Jack are some of our favorites for this dish.
• We like this for breakfast, but it can also make a great finger food for any time of day.
• Sometime’s I’ll add some more spices, like paprika or dried parsely.

Creamy Jalapeño Ranch

It’s Foodie Friday! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared a recipe, so I thought I could share this one. I’ve been meaning to share it for a while, but I haven’t taken a picture of it 🙈 so I’m using a pictures of some jalapeños from my garden instead 😬

This super easy recipe is also super delicious. And it uses an immersion blender (which you can read my post about here)! It’s a great party food, or topping for taco night 😋

Creamy Jalapeño Ranch
  • 8-12 slices canned jalapeño (or 2 fresh jalapeños, stems cut off)
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • Milk

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients except milk in blender and blend until smooth. (An immersion blender also works really well for this.)

If dip is too thick, add milk, a little at a time, until it reaches desired consistency.

Let chill at least 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Hack of the Week – Immersion Blender!

Today’s Hack of the Week – Immersion Blender

Full Disclaimer: I’m an Amazon Associate. If you purchase anything using the links below, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I’ve decided to start sharing a hack of the week! That’s fun, right?

This week, I thought I would highlight a product that we love in my house – our immersion blender aka stick blender. If you don’t have one, or haven’t heard of one, they are amazing!
Essentially, they are a handheld blender – the power of a blender without the hassle. Most have a safety button at the top so you don’t accidentally turn it on, and the whole bottom part comes off of the motor for easy clean-up! Both my husband and I use ours all the time.


Now, the stick blender I have is a little older. It’s a Cuisinart CSB-75 Smart Stick, which you can find here. I also found this one on Amazon that’s cordless and re-chargable, which is pretty sweet.

Hacks for Your Immersion Blender

So now that I’ve recommended an immersion blender and explained a little about them, you might be wondering how to use them.
Here’s a list of examples:
• Mix dips. I use mine to make Jalapeño Ranch. I just dump all the ingredients in a bowl and blend! It comes out perfectly smooth every time!

• Blend Re-fried beans. I use a crockpot recipe to make refried beans. I throw a few cans of pinto beans, water, some onion, garlic, and seasonings in a crockpot and cook for a few hours. When it’s ready, I just drain some of the water and blend. Perfect refried beans!

• Blend tomato sauce. Both my mom and I use our crockpot to cook tomato sauce. With the immersion blender, there’s no chopping or peeling, just blending. It’s amazing!

There are so many ways to use the immersion blender. It’s truly an amazing tool that I love, and perfect for homemaking hacks!
Be on the look out for some new recipes that include this awesome tool!


Green Thumb, Here I Come!

The start of my journey to become a gardener (and not just a brutal plant killer)

A little while ago (before my radio silence🙈) I posted on Instagram about my new greenhouse. I realize I haven’t posted on Instagram since then, which was like a month ago 🙈 BUT I got distracted with life and various things. And I discovered I’m not super great at blogging, apparently I don’t take after my mama, who’s a fantastic writer and blogger. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out My Nichols Worth you’re really missing out. ANYWAY, I’m learning how to blog, and that’s what’s important, right?

Back onto the topic I wanted to talk about today: plants! Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, I’ve taken an interest in gardening and houseplants. Well, actually, it’s something I’ve always been interested in, but I never had the time or energy to get into it. Plus I had always ended up killing the plants I tried to take care of. Granted, they were mostly orchids, and orchids are actually hard to take care of, but my belief was that I had a black thumb and would always kill any houseplants. End of story. Or so I thought.

THEN, back in April-ish, right before we had a stay-at-home order in TN, I got a little plant at a ladies day in Kentucky that my mom had spoken at.
Her name is Juanita. I didn’t name her, she actually came with a name (LOL) but it stuck. Juanita is a nerve plant. She likes low light, high humidity, and I’d say a moderate amount of water. She’s also a drama queen whenever she needs water. (see below). For a long time after I brought her home, she sat on my snack bar, where I’d see her and water her occasionally. One day, I found her drooped over like in the picture below and freaked out, because I thought I killed her. So I just watered her and hoped for the best.
A couple of hours later, I came back and found that she was fine. She had perked back up and looked as great as ever. I took that to mean that maybe that’s just something she does when she’s thirsty (I found out later it does, and nerve plants will droop when they need water.) “Okay, that’s cool,” I thought, “I can deal with that.” Then later, I noticed that she had grown. Like actually grown. I was so excited! And that’s when I realized maybe I could grow houseplants, or at least not kill them.

After Juanita’s survival, I decided I wanted an indoor herb garden. So my husband and I made a hanging herb garden on the wall next to our snack bar, right next to a window. Those herbs did not survive, because, as I have learned, herbs need a lot of light, and that spot did not have a lot of light.
Fast forward to today, after some trial and error, I have approximately 30 houseplants, and most of them are doing pretty well. My husband and I also grew a vegetable garden this year for the first time, and I tried out some container gardening this year too! I’ve been very please with my planters (you can see pictures below). I’ll (hopefully) post the recipes soon.

So far, gardening has become a fantastic hobby for me. It’s helped a lot with stress, and it helped me realize that I wasn’t cursed with a black thumb! Honestly, I now believe that anyone can learn how to have a green thumb. And maybe I can start sharing some tips to help with that! 😉

Until next time,
Cec


Caprese Skewers

It’s Foodie Friday! It’s been really, really hot lately. I don’t like the heat, but I do like that it means home-grown veggies – especially fresh tomatoes. This year, we’ve also planted an herb garden, so we’ve had fresh veggies and fresh herbs!

In my mind, one of the best combinations of fresh herbs and veggies is basil and tomato. It’s just the perfect blend. Add a little salt, some olive oil, fresh mozzarella, and a touch of balsamic vinegar, then you get one of my favorite summer treats: caprese.

If you’ve never had a caprese salad, you have to try it. It’s so delicious and super easy to make. By using cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and toothpicks, this recipe makes a fantastic finger-food. Plus they look gorgeous! Top them with a little olive oil and a balsamic reduction just before serving, and you’ve got an impressive appetizer.

Need a finger-food at the last minute? These skewers are perfect! They’re super simple, super quick, and super easy. You’ll have it whipped up in no time, and the best part is: it’ll look like you spent hours.

Now, how about that?

Caprese Skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella pearls
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp balsamic reduction (recipe below)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • elegant toothpicks

1. Wash tomatoes and basil.
2. Place tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella on toothpicks.
3. Place prepped skewers on tray or other serving dish. Add salt and pepper to taste – you really just want about a dash of each.
4. Just before serving, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic reduction.

Directions

Balsamic Vinegar

Ingredients

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

1. In small saucepan, bring vinegar to a low boil.
2. Let simmer until reduction can coat the back of a spoon (about 15 minutes).
3. Let cool. Note: the reduction will thicken as it cools.

Directions

Notes:

  • Instead of the balsamic reduction, you can just use straight balsamic vinegar, or even omit that altogether. But I highly recommend the reduction. It’s sooo good.
  • If you have big basil leave (which I did), you can tear them in half. You don’t want to be overpowered with basil!
  • I also found that if you folded the leaves in half, they stay on the toothpicks better.
  • You can also use marinated mozzarella pearls for an extra bit of flavor.

Assorted Fruit Pizza Bites


Aren’t this little fruit pizza bites just the cutest things? They’re so pretty I almost didn’t want to eat them! (Key word = almost).

Despite the global pandemic, my family has been able to get together for a game night every week. I usually use this as an excuse to try a new recipe. This past week I was supposed to make dessert, so I decided to make a fruit pizza! I’ve been on a bit of a fruit pizza kick lately, and had tried a new recipe that was amazing. It consisted of buttery sugar cookie crust, a light vanilla pudding.cool whip mixture, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

However, this recipe I had made didn’t go as far as I thought it would. We eat quite a bit at game night, so I knew I would need to double the recipe.

With that, I discovered I had a dilemma. I could make 2 fruit pizzas that were exactly the same, BUT there are a wide varieties of tastes (especially with fruit) in our little group. I wanted to accommodate all of those tastes and I wanted to experiment a little more with flavors. Thus, these Assorted Pizza Bites were created. I used mini muffin tins (like these) to make little sugar cookie crusts.

I planned on using my original recipe, but I also wanted to try out some tropical flavors. I wanted to use pineapple, and maybe some mango, and I thought some sort of coconut flavor in the icing would be delicious. I decided against a buttercream, since that might be a little too heavy, so after some research, I found a delicious coconut cream cheese icing. I added a little lime to cut the sweetness, and it was absolutely fabulous. I topped this icing with some pineapple chunks and some fresh blackberries – AMAZING!

In the end, I made about 94 bites total, and I had 0 leftover. 😁 They were a huge hit, and I will definitely be making them again!


Assorted Fruit Pizza Bites

Ingredients

  • 2 16-oz Packages Sugar Cookie Dough
  • 1/2 Pint Strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 Pint Blueberries
  • 1/2 Pint Blackberries
  • 1 small container fresh Pineapple Chunk, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 recipe of icing

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray mini muffin tin really well. Take about 1/2 inch diameter of cookie dough (about 1/4 in. Thick) and press into muffin tin. Bake for 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely.

Mix together icing recipe. 

Once cookies are cooled, top with a heaping teaspoon full of icing, then 1-2 pieces of fruit.

Icing Recipes: 

Light & Creamy Whipped Pudding Icing

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 small package Instant Vanilla Pudding
  • 1 8-oz container Cool Whip

Mix pudding mix and milk together. Beat for 5 minutes or until set and thickened. Fold in Cool Whip.

Coconut Lime Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut, stirred well
  • 4 tsp lime juice

Beat together cream cheese and butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Pour in cream of coconut and lime juice and mix until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes

  • I found that I needed 2 blueberries or 2 pineapple chunks per cookie. For the strawberries and blackberries, I just use 1 piece. 
  • I did half of each icing recipe, so that would be an option if you wanted both!
  • If your cookie cups are a little misshaped, that’s okay! They end up being covered with the icing a fruit, so they still look cute.
  • For the coconut cream cheese icing, you can adjust the amount of lime to taste.
  • You can use mini muffin tins like the ones I used (these) OR you could try some silicon ones!

French Onion Dip

Happy Friday y’all! I’m new to the blogging game and have just started writing here at Homemaking Hacker. My mom, Nicki Nichols, started this blog, and I’m going to be taking over while she focuses on her other blog, My Nichols Worth, and some new business ventures.

I’m very excited to be sharing homemaking tips and hacks with you guys. I have some home projects in the works that I will share with everyone soon, but first, I’ll start off with a recipe. This French Onion dip is my go-to, and usually what “finger food” people will ask me to make. I adapted it from another recipe my mom, Nicki, had, and I just tweaked it until I got it where I liked it.

The awesome part about this dip is it’s made with FRESH ONIONS (yes, plain old white onions), and it super duper easy. No more dry soup mix or pre-made dip. The hardest thing in this recipe is caramelizing onions. If this intimidates you or you’re running especially low on time, you can used dried minced onions like these. I’ve tried this recipe both ways and they both turn out delicious. If you use dried onions, you’ll want to add a bit of sugar. For more tips and tricks, see my recipe notes below!

This recipe is so simple and sooo yummy. You’ll never go back to the store bought stuff again!

For making your dip, I highly recommend these bowls from Amazon. I received them as a Christmas gift and I absolutely love them. They’re durable, dishwasher safe, and have lids!

Full disclosure, if you use any of the links to purchase the items I’ve recommended, I will receive a small commission. It’s no extra cost to you, just something to help me out!

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think in the comments!

French Onion Dip

IMG_2451a
  •  16 oz (2 cups) sour cream
  • 3 tsp beef bouillon granules (or 3 cubes)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 3 Tbsp fresh onion, chopped and caramelized (recommenced method)
  • or 3 Tbsp dried minced onion

If using dried onions, combine all ingredients, plus 1/2 tsp sugar in a 4-cup bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with chips or crackers.

If using caramelized onion, finely chop onion (3 tbsp is about 1/3 of a medium sized onion). Place 1 tsp of butter or oil in a small skillet and turn up to high. Once hot, add onion and cook until dark brown.

While onion is cooking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a 4-cup bowl. Once onion is dark brown and tender, add to the rest of the ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with chips or crackers.

Recipe Notes

  • I really, really recommend using the fresh onions for this recipe. The natural sugars from caramelizing the onion just really set off the dish.
  • Before adding your onion, make sure your pan is nice and hot. In order to caramelize any vegetable, you want to cook it over a high, dry heat.
  • When cooking the onion, don’t worry if you burn it. You want the onion to get really dark to bring out the natural sweetness. If it gets a little burnt (which I promise I have done), you won’t be able to tell in the finished dip.
  • If you use dried onions, just be sure to add the sugar. The dip needs that extra sweetness.
  • Instead of the 1/4 tsp of ground pepper, I use our pepper grinder and give it about 3 or 4 twists.
  • Wavy potato chips are an awesome pairing with this dip.

Fighting with a Cold

I’ve been fighting off a cold for several days, so I have tried to rest when I can. Because of that, I didn’t get my Foodie Friday post done or Make Life Easier Monday. Feeling well enough this morning, I got the idea to combine a post for making my life easier and a recipe. So, to make my life easier I decided to share a recipe from another blogger.
Today I’m going to share a recipe for Elderberry Syrup from Wellness Mama. I’ve made this recipe for a couple of years and try to take the syrup during the cold and flu season. I am not always mindful to take it daily but if I start having cold or flu symptoms I do take a daily dose as an immune booster.

With this cold lingering for a few days, a friend asked me this weekend had I tried elderberry syrup. Well, dumb me had totally forgotten about the full jar of homemade elderberry syrup in my fridge. So when I got home I took a teaspoon. Now I’m on my 3rd day of taking a teaspoon of elderberry syrup a day and today I woke up feeling some better with no sore throat. Hopefully another day or two and I will be over this cold.

When I’m fighting off a cold, I like to take a teaspoon or two a day of elderberry syrup, drink apple cider or hot tea with honey, eat chicken soup, get plenty of rest, and use immune boosting essential oils.

My favorite immune boosting essential oil blend is called “POOF”. I found this blend recipe somewhere on Pinterest several years ago. POOF stands for Peppermint – 4 drops, OnGuard – 3 drops, Oregano – 2 drops, Frankincense – 1 drop. I try to keep a bottle of this on hand. Using the 4,3,2,1 drop ratio, I make a large bottle and top it off with fractionated coconut oil.

Until next time