The Linen Closet

Last week I gave a sneak peek of some touch ups I have been doing to our linen closet. You might remember my post at the beginning of this year that I have hopped on the band wagon of decluttering, again. 🙂

It truly is very freeing, and it makes me so happy to open a closet or drawer, see it so well organized and be able to find just what I am looking for.

One of the first things I tackled was our linen closet, grouping like things together, purging stained dish cloths and towels. Then slowly, I began to add things I loved little by little, until I loved the organized look of our linen closet. I added good micro fiber dish cloths ( e cloths, pictured above), and 2 different types of dish towels (TEKLA by Ikea, and Kitchen Towels by Grove). I labeled the shelves so the order could be maintained. It looked really good.

But in an organization FB group I am in, a member posted a picture of her linen closet and shared how she kept stacks from tipping over, which my dish towels and wash cloths frequently do. 🙂 She bought containers to well, contain them, which is a Kon Mari principle. It looked fantastic!

Those containers though, can sometimes come with a hefty price tag. But not these, they are from IKEA, and you get six containers for $6.99. There are 3 sizes in each pack and you get 2 of each. I bought 2 packages, and had the perfect amount left to organize my lingerie drawer as well. They are called SKUBB boxes and come in white, teal, and a dark gray.

I also added a light up above as this closet is so dark. It has a motion senor and is  USB chargeable, I really like it so far.

I have learned, as it is with most things, that the organizing will never be DONE, so touch up and maintenance will always be necessary, but that’s OK.

This is what it looks like currently:

It’s not perfect, but it’s orderly, and it makes me smile when I open the closet.

And a closeup of the labels which match the other labels through out our home.

Have you done any decluttering/organizing around your home lately?

A Better Choice

I love telling others about products I love, so today I am sharing about our new water filtration system.

When it comes to making healthier choices for our family, sometimes the very BEST choice that could be made is cost prohibitive. In those cases, I try to research if there is a BETTER choice. Such is the case for our water filtration at home.

Ideally, I would like to get a top of the line Berkey system with as many ceramic filters as will fit….. but I can’t justify paying that kind of money for the system or replacement filters down the road.

So to date, we have used pitcher systems, and for many years a filter hooked up to our faucet directly. I felt like it did OK, I could taste a difference in the water, but it was SO ugly, and took up space in sink area.

Recently I was on a Facebook page where tea brewing was being discussed and a woman mentioned that her tea had never been clearer or tasted better since she got a ZeroWater filter.  Now previously I have learned that the temp you brew your tea at greatly effects the clearness of the brew, but it also made sense that the better the filter on your water, the clearer the brew would be as well.

I had never heard of ZeroWater, so I quickly Googled and saw that they had impressive reviews and claimed to produce water that had 0.00 TDS (total dissolved solids) in their filtered water. They even provide a water tester with each unit you purchase so you can see the results for yourself, and monitor your filter until it needs changing. I also learned that they have 5 stage filters, versus typical pitcher/sink filters which are 2 stage.

While on Amazon, I saw that they had plastic pitchers, and larger plastic units for your fridge. While I was intrigued,  I really didn’t want to take a step backward and start using plastic again. But then, I saw a glass and stainless steel counter top unit. It’s price wasn’t too bad, and it was an attractive unit.

So I did more searching and read more reviews. It seemed like this would be a BETTER choice for our water needs.

This is a BETTER choice for us because of all the things it is removing from our water, including 99% of fluoride, but there is still some plastic exposure due to the filter being plastic and not ceramic. It is however one of the safer types of plastic.

Beyond that, so far I am thrilled. I did test our tap, and sink filtered water, and finally the ZeroWater filtered water.

Our tap water read 200, exactly what the map that was sent with the filter projected for my state.  For the sink filtered water, I got a 148. Now in it’s defense, the filter is due to be changed, but that’s not much of an improvement. Finally I tested the water filtered with the new ZeroWater dispenser:

I was definitely impressed! So I tasted it, and I could ABSOLUTELY taste a difference, and it was so CLEAR.

I have not had to change the filter yet, but I was happy to see that Bed Bath and Beyond carries them, so I am able to use coupons to save some money on them.

All in all, I am so pleased with our filter system. We saved a substantial amount of money over a Berkey system, and I think the glass portion of the Zero Water system is more attractive than a full stainless steel one.

And of course the next thing I did was brew a pitcher of tea. How is that for a beautiful glass of iced tea?  😀  The pitcher of tea stayed crystal clear even through the next day, when I finished it .

Note: Though I wish it was, this is NOT a sponsored post, 🙂 Also, I replaced the plastic spigot that came with the unit, with a stainless steel version to further reduce our exposure to plastic.

The Nutty Irishman

One of the larger coffee roasters/coffee shops in our area is the Roasterie. We love their coffee and treat ourselves on occasion when we are in town. At the beginning of the month, I saw their post on Insta that the drink of the month was the Nutty Irishman. It sounded yummy and I couldn’t wait to try it.

So on our next trip to the city, my husband treated me to my coffee, and some yummy cold brew to take home.

It was a great iced coffee, the flavors were nice without being overpowering or too sweet. I needed more of this in my life! LOL

I started thinking… hazelnut and Irish cream?  I had hazelnut syrup at home thanks to a recent find at Home Goods. I could get one of those flavored creamers at the store? No, I only drink those on occasion, I can make something healthier at home….

So I began Googling and found several recipes for Irish Cream coffee creamer. Most had sweetened condensed milk in them, but I found this simple one at The Gracious Wife, without additional sweeteners, and I had all the ingredients at home, minus the instant coffee 🙂 YAY!

Since I was planning on using some of my coffee ice cubes, and a quality cold brew, I thought maybe I could get away with not using the instant coffee, and I was right. It is SO simple and so delicious, you should totally whip up a batch to have on hand to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

I used my coffee ice cubes, filled my glass about 3/4 full of cold brew, and added 2.5 pumps of hazelnut syrup and gave it a quick stir with my straw. I gave the irish cream coffee creamer a good shake in it’s quart jar, and toppped off my glass. It is SO good, you need to give this a try!

PS it is so good hot as well, with frothed milk…. YUM!!!!


Plaza III Steak Soup (copycat) & Bonus Banana Pudding

Kansas City is know for it’s steaks, and for many years there has been a wonderful steak house called Plaza III on the Country Club Plaza. They are sadly closing their doors this weekend, so I decided I would finally get around to trying the recipe for their famous steak soup.

There are several recipes floating around, with minor variations. I found one on a recipe site that had a review from a person who claimed to be a former chef at Plaza III, and the originator of the recipe. He said that one was pretty close, and suggested a tweak or two. I also made a couple of changes myself in the preparation, and the resulting soup was AMAZING. Definitely a keeper. Let me walk you through it.  *Full recipe at the bottom of post*

First we are going to make a roux. In a stockpot or dutch oven, melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking until smooth. I like to let it cook a little bit, and brown just a tad.

Next you can add your broth (chicken, beef, vegetable, whichever is fine), continuing to whisk as you add liquid.

In  a skillet ( I use cast iron) sear your meat well in a little olive oil. It doesn’t matter the cut of beef you use. I got some round steaks on clearance. Because this is going to simmer a LONG time, even tougher cuts will be tender once the cooking is complete.

My addition:  Remove meat to a plate, and put your diced celery, onions, and carrots in the pan and saute over medium heat.  Then add a bit of water, this will deglaze the pan and get all that delicious flavor. As per the chef’s instructions, I added a splash of Kitchen Bouquet and worcestershire sauce to this, and letting it cook for several minutes until the vegetables were soft and the flavors melded.

Then I added everything to the stockpot: diced vegetables, frozen vegetables, stewed tomatoes (which I pureed), steak, (which  I diced) and a quart of water plus a tablespoon of Beef flavored Better than Boullion.

I gave it a good stir, covered it, and let it simmer for 4-5 hours on the stove. The potatoes (which were my addition) actually dissolved in the broth, but it helped thicken the broth a bit, I would do it again. If you want to eat pieces of potato in yours, add some more and hour or so before serving.

This soup freezes beautifully, and is definitely a keeper. It would be good served as a soup course for a company dinner, or with a salad and french bread, as we did, for a cozy night at home.

Earlier in the day, I decided to make a treat for my husband who loves banana pudding. I had never made pudding from scratch before, but it could not have been easier. I used Christy Jordan’s recipe from Southern Plate 

I love Christy, her recipes and stories about her family, but mostly her love for the Lord.

You should definitely check out her site for the recipe, which is linked above.. The only changes I made were, I doubled the pudding portion, AND…. I added some freeze dried bananas to the pudding to help with the banana flavor. Next time I might try it without, I just happened to see those in the checkout line at Aldi and thought I might give them a try, 🙂


Plaza III Steak soup (copycat)


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 quart broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Beef
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 1 cup celery sliced
  • 2 lbs steak seared and diced
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 28 ounces italian blend canned tomatoes pureed
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worstcheshire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet


  1. Melt butter in stock pot.
  2. Blend in flour to make a smooth paste.
  3. Add quart of broth (Chicken or beef), whisking it smooth as you go.
  4. Simmer until smooth.
  5. Sear beef in a large skillet. Sauté celery, onion, and carrots 1 to 2 minutes in pan after removing meat, add beef broth to deglaze pan with vegetables. Add worsteshire sauce and kitchen bouquet, simmer 5 minutes until vegetables are tender and liquid is deep brown and flavorful.
  6. Add meat, all vegetables and liquids, 1 quart water and seasonings to stockpot.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 3 -4 hours or more.

Have a great weekend everyone, I hope you will give one or both of these recipes a try.

Weekend Idea: Omelettes

I don’t know about you, but I usually do pretty well with eggs. Hard boiled are a breeze-even poached or over easy. But scrambled eggs and omelettes, I didn’t really care for them or do well at making them.

But in our quest to eat less carbs and sweets during our weekend family breakfasts, I had to make more eggs. And while I like a good poached egg, or over easy (farm fresh eggs only please), my family only likes scrambled.

I frequently recruited our daughter to make the egg portion of our meal, because hers were just creamier and tasted so much better. I watched her technique, and the only difference I saw is that she moved hers around in the pan a bit more than I do. So I still didn’t know why hers were so superior in taste than mine- until I asked her 🙂

Have you guessed it yet? It was temperature. Always in a hurry to get the final part of the meal done, I was cooking mine too vigorously and quickly, and they ended up tough and rubbery.

This same principle applies to omelettes which are much easier than you might think. I hope you will add them to your weekend breakfast rotation.

The first thing I do is chop and grate the ingredients for the filling of our omelettes. My husband likes bell peppers, mushroom, deli ham, green onions, and cheddar cheese in his omelette. I slice the pepper very finely, and dice about half a mushroom. The deli ham I keep frozen, it actually slices well frozen and I dice it up as well.

Next, I prepare the egg mixture. I use 2  farm fresh eggs, and whisk them well after cracking in the bowl. We want to incorporate lots of air into them. Then I add 2 tbs of milk or cream, a little salt and pepper and the magic ingredient: cornstarch.

This is totally optional, and your omelette will be light and fluffy without this addition, but I can tell a little bit of a difference when I leave it out, I think it is worth adding. I use about half a tablespoon and 2 tablespoons of water and whisk it together well right before adding to the egg mixture.

Using my 10 inch cast iron skillet on medium high,  I put a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil and let that heat up, and then add my peppers and mushrooms and saute them for a minute or two. Then I turn the heat all the way down to it’s LOWEST setting, and add a tablespoon of butter and swirl it all around the pan as it melts.

Then I add my egg mixture, and then cover the pan with a lid. The eggs cook really slowly this way, which is what you want. When I see the edges begin to dry out a bit, I sprinkle the ham, mushrooms, peppers, diced green onion tops, and a little bit of cheese on top and replace the lid. Once the entire surface looks mostly dry and set, I fold the omelette in half. I use a fish spatula, it’s thinness is perfect for this. The underside of the omelette should be lightly browned.

I cook with the lid on just a few minutes more to make sure that the omelette is cooked thru, then serve on a plate with some more sprinkled cheese and green onions, with a little bit of sour cream on the side. Light, fluffy, and incredibly filling and delicious. These frequently become brunch on the weekends.

I hope you will give them a try soon 🙂

Using Leftovers: Baked Ziti

This is  a twist on Baked Ziti,  and works great for leftover pasta. Here we are using sour cream instead of ricotta, which gives the pasta a little bit different flavor.

It’s super simple, combine a quality pasta sauce (can have meat in it) and a couple of large dollops of sour cream, add a generous amount of parmesan cheese. Toss with al dente pasta (since we will be cooking the pasta in sauce again, you don’t want the pasta to be too mushy)

Pour into an appropriate size casserole dish for the amount of pasta, and top with shredded mozzarella. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly. Serve with salad and bread for a quick and easy meal. Our family loves it, I hope yours does too!

Digitizing Your Recipes

Be sure to Pin this for later 🙂

In a previous post, I shared with you how I use the app Paprika on both my desktop and mobile devices to organize my recipes. I love having my recipes organized and accessible to me anywhere. This works very well for all my recipes that are digital. But what I am I doing with all my hand written recipes and recipes taken from the back of boxes, etc?

Well the answer until recently was nothing. I had yet to come across a program or app that would help me with my big file folder of recipes.  Recently in my Facebook feed, I saw a video with Chef Tyler Florence recommending the Adobe Scan app for digitizing recipes. Watch it, and I think you will be just as excited as I am.

I decided to scan a recipe using 3 different scanning apps to see which was best for the task of recipe scanning. I used Google Scan, Evernote, and Adobe Scan. All allowed my to scan the recipe card, back it up to a cloud service, and then share the recipe via email. Each had their pros and cons.  First up is Google Scan:

Google Scan works differently than the other 2 scanners. It’s scan process has you move your camera around 4 dots that cover the perimeter of your document or photo and it then takes a photo using the flash to get even lighting all round with no white flash mark. So a bit more time consuming. Also, as I have noticed with photos I have scanned, they are a bit cool for my taste, but that is easily corrected in Photoshop. Also, when sharing straight from the scan app, it adds the logo to the bottom. This logo does not appear in the copy that is saved to the cloud however. Lastly, Google Scan created the smallest file  of the three, 322kb.

Next we have Evernote. I do love Evernote and use it quite a bit for saving and sharing documents, mostly articles I want to clip and save from the web.  I have been capturing important Post It notes with Evernote for years, and this is basically the same. Like Adobe Scan, It also creates an overlay on your document showing what is being captured, a green outline. A plus for Evernote was it allowed me to choose how I wanted the file saved, document, photo, etc. It also created the largest file size by far, at 2.32MB. But it was a bit trickier to share, I can share a link to it, or insert an image in an email, but could not just email the file itself. The color was a little under saturated, the lightness on the right side was do to uneven lighting on my part.

Lastly, we have Adobe Scan. I love pretty much everything about it. If I don’t like the way it crops and cleans up an image, I can always go back to the original file and adjust things myself. It also had better color, coming in very close to the original. The file size was slightly bigger than Google at 461 kb, an acceptable size for printing and emailing. The scan is auto backed up to Adobe’s cloud, but I like that I can also choose to save it in whatever cloud based service I choose. (again, uneven lighting= my fault 🙂

So I am excited to get all my paper recipes scanned and safely backed up to 2 cloud services and available on my computer and mobile devices. I hope this helps you save and share your family recipes as well. Which app  do you think you will use?

This post is part of the Homemaking Linkup at

The Big Pizza post

For many, many years, I have been making homemade pizza. At first,  it was an economical choice, and I think I started with one of those bagged mixes (please don’t do that.)

Since then, there have  been many recipes tried, in an attempt to get REALLY good pizza at home. Pizza making is really an art, and there are many sites and articles on the web about how to get good pizza from your own oven. I have several recipes I enjoy and have made good pizza for us. And since pizza crust is a dough, I typically use my stand mixer to mix my dough.

But I was intrigued recently when  I saw an article on Serious Eats about making your dough in a food processor.  You can read all about the science behind why this is a superior method if you want an authentic style New York slice in the article posted above, I won’t bore you with the details, but here is my attempt.

After weighing all my ingredients, I followed the instructions, and I had a glorious dough that passed the window pane test in under 30 seconds, kind of amazing! (You can read more about the window pane test HERE)

Next, I weighed my dough ball and found that each pizza ball would weigh 353 which is right around 350 which is a perfect size for my preferred pizza pan.

Most great pizza dough needs to rest for several hours to a couple of days before making great pizza. I do have a couple of recipes that you can use in a pinch, but this dough needs to rest to be at it’s best. Try making it the day before at least.

Here’s what the dough looked like after 24 hours in the fridge.  I was so happy to get very similar results as the author.

And the dough was so great to work with. It formed a great, smooth, well structured ball. Forming your dough into a tight ball will help you make a round pizza crust.

When it came time to form my crust, it was so easy. The dough was soft and pillowy, no shrinking back, it was perfect.

When completely stretched and ready for topping, it was about 14 inches in diameter, perfect for my cast iron pizza pan. I preheat my pan in the oven for 1 hour at 500 degrees to make sure that it is perfectly hot for my pizza, which only cooks for 7 minutes before it is crispy and golden. Baking stones work really well also.

Here it is, ready to hit the oven, after adding a good sauce, the cheese (shredded by hand) about 8 ounces of mozzarella, and some pepperoni.

And here it is after coming out of the oven. I’m not going to be modest or coy, it was PERFECTION, lol

The crust was light, a little crispy on the outside, soft inside, I was amazed to get that kind of texture from my own oven. The ONLY change I will make in the future is adding a little flavor to the crust, either by adding a little granulated garlic to the dough, or brushing the stretched dough with a little garlic oil before adding the sauce. I did the second when I made the 2nd pizza a couple of days later and it was just the right touch of flavor it needed.

Here is one last shot for you, as you can see,  it is not a thick pan like crust, and not a super thin crust like a Neapolitan, definitely New York style, from my own oven, and I was giddy 🙂

I hope you will give this a try this weekend, it is really is easy, and the results are so worth it. Here is a link to the original recipe, which then links to a great sauce recipe as well. Food Processor Dough

I would love to hear your results, please share!

This post is part of the Weekend Potluck at Served Up With Love, be sure to checkout all the other awesome recipes.






Using Pinterest to Catalog Items

I had an idea the other day, that while a simple one, I think could be helpful to some of you. I shared it in a Facebook group I am in and it was very well received, so I hope it helps you as well.

Recently, while going thru some old recipes (for a future blog post, 🙂 ) I came across a scrap of paper that I had written some silverware patterns on for “safe keeping”.

On that list was my mother’s silverware pattern, the pattern of some silver serving pieces I got at a garage sale, and our own silverware we got as wedding gifts. A great thing to have on hand should I find a great deal on Ebay, or a thrift store.

I started thinking- it would be great to have all the pattern names of our dishes, glassware, and silverware compiled and somewhere safe…….. I should write them all down and take beautiful pictures of them……… and create  something wonderful to store in the cloud for safe keeping……..would be good for insurance purposes too…… but I want to be able  to have it with me while I am out thrifting and garage sale shopping…….. wait what about PINTEREST?!?!?

Yep, that’s pretty much how that went, only really really fast 🙂

So, I created a board on Pinterest, and started searching for photos of our silverware, china, and glassware. I also included things like some singular tea cups we have. Even though we only have one or two of them, if they should ever need to be replaced, or I happen to find something from that pattern I would like to buy, it’s nice to have a photo and pattern name to make sure they match before purchasing.

I also created a section within the board (did you know that you can do that?) where I have placed some items I am keeping my eye out for, or would like as a gift sometime in the future, perhaps the gravy boat that matches your china, or the serving set for your silverware could go here.

Here is an example of what this could look like:

And then, when you open an individual section, you see the pattern information and any notes you have made, for example “tea cup from Aunt Lillian”.

One last tip, as you see on my example board (which is a fictitious board I created for this blog post) I highly suggest that you make this a secret board when you create it on Pinterest. This board is simply for your information, and you might not want the world to know the contents of your china cabinet, or the value there in. 🙂

This post is part of the Homemaking Link Up at Raising Homemakers, be sure to stop by for more great tips.


Crepes for Manicotti

Have you ever made homemade pasta? Oh my, it is a game changer my friends! It is so delicate and wonderful, it totally takes your meal to the next level.

I have been making my own pasta since the early days of our marriage. I bought an Italian cookbook that had a recipe for tri color fettuccine alfredo that I knew I had to try. Hubby bought me a wonderful Atlas pasta machine and I taught myself how to make homemade pasta, including carrot and spinach fettuccine.

It is a lot fun, impressive and delicious, but let’s be real, it’s a little bit of work too. These days when I make it, I make extra to put in the freezer as well.

Recently, I was on Facebook, in an Instant Pot group I belong to, and they were discussing making lasagna in your pot. It’s on my list to try as it is super easy and you use a springform cheesecake pan. Well the owner of the group was talking about how she makes her own noodles and it is super easy. She showed a picture and her noodles were perfectly round.

My little brain started thinking- that’s a lot of extra work just to get round noodles, I’d rather stick with a tradition lasagna… but then I kept reading and she was using CREPES.

I remembered also reading a couple of years ago that manicotti is frequently made with crepes, so this made sense.  I definitely want to try the instant pot lasagna soon-but on this day, I decided to give the manicotti a try.

I know, crepes seem very difficult, how is this really making this dish simpler than making your own pasta dough? Well, I think if you give crepes a try, you will see they are worth an extra few minutes.

Years ago we went to a friend’s house, her kids were just finishing breakfast, and i was surprised to see that they were having crepes, on a week day 🙂
My friend assured me that what I thought was fancy and difficult was the easiest thing in the world. She then proceeded to give me a crepe lesson, and truly it is just a matter of getting the technique down, and learning the quirks of your kitchen tools. I have learned that my 9 inch cast iron skillet and a little less than a 1/4 cup of batter make the perfect size/thickness of crepe. I also had to use more oil in my pan than I thought.

Now, to make sure this blog post doesn’t get EVEN LONGER 🙂 I’m going to recommend that you go on You Tube and watch some videos on how to make them at home. The ingredients are not expensive, so don’t feel badly about tossing a few as you learn, but I think you will catch on really quickly.

The filling is super simple, combine the cheeses with some parsley. I then used one of my cookie scoops to portion out the filling, about 3 tablespoons per crepe noodle.

After ladling a little marinara in my pans, I placed the rolled manicotti in the pans.

After topping with more mozzarella I covered with foil and baked for 20 minutes, and then uncovered for 20 more.

Now, you may be a little skeptical like I was, how does a thin egg-y pancake end up tasting like delicate pasta? Something magical must happen while it bakes, because it totally does. 🙂  I hope you will give these a try, maybe this weekend.

Manicotti with Crepe Noodles



  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes optional
  • 1-1.5 quarts good marinara sauce homemade is best
  • Additional mozzarella cheese for topping


  1. Place flour in a bowl; whisk in milk, eggs and salt until smooth. Rest in the fridge at least one hour. Pour a scant 1/4 cup onto a hot greased 9 inch skillet; quickly twirl pan to distribute batter all around forming a circle. Cook over medium heat until set; Turn when the top looks dry, about 40-45 seconds first side, 10-15 seconds on the second. Repeat with remaining batter, making about 12 crepes. Stack crepes on a plate; set aside.
  2. For filling, combine cheeses, egg and parsley. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons down the center of each crepe; roll up. Pour half of the spaghetti sauce into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Place crepes, seam side down, over sauce; pour remaining sauce over top. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese if desired and bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

This post is part of the Weekend Potluck, be sure to check it our for many great recipes.