Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mini-Mason Jar Key Lime Pies (a review)

NOTE: I am on a mission to try a few recipes in mason jars before The 4th of July and blog about them for you. I want to pack a mason jar picnic this year, so I'll be giving these a shot and letting you know what worked and didn't work. If you have a suggestion or a favorite mason jar recipe, please let me know. I would love to try it out for you. 

Every year the Saturday before Mother's Day, my mother's side of the family has a family reunion. Each branch of the family takes turns hosting the reunion, and everyone is expected to bring at least a dessert and a side. This year my husband decided to make the dessert, which was fine by me, because the reunion fell on a day that I had a ballgame, a birthday party, and a dance recital to go to as well. There would be no time for me to whip up something fancy. My husband used to make desserts (before we got married), worked a short time at a bakery, and his mother bakes cakes and pies to sell for those who know she's awesome at it. I just knew he would represent well.

But, as much as I love him, and his intentions, he didn't make the dessert. I don't think he realized all we had to do, and time was not allowing for something fancy. Luckily, he picked up a box of Key Lime Bar Mix to make a pie. I looked at the ingredients and decided that I could make the bars (not the pies, necessarily) in little mason jars. That way I could pack them up tight, and carry them with me to the ballgame, and then to the family reunion. I must say that it turned out okay. Below I'm going to share with you what I did, and give you tips on what not to do.

Mini-Mason Jar Key Lime Pies


  • A box of Krusteaz Key Lime Bar Mix plus ingredients on box (1/3 cup water and 3 eggs) 
  • 10 (4 oz) Mason Jelly Jars If you have not used these before, you must get them. They are adorable, and perfect for little single serving desserts
  • Powdered Sugar 
  1. Wash and thoroughly dry the jelly jars. 
  2. Spoon 1 1/2 Tbsp of crust mixture into each jar. Lightly press down. DON'T PACK like the instructions say to do. This is where I seriously messed up. The packing was really meant for a brownie pan or pie plate, not mini-mason jars. *See the 2nd picture below to see why. 
  3. Place the mason jars on a large cookie sheet and slide into a preheated oven to bake as the directions say. I needed to add about 10 minutes for the cooking process before it became brown. 
  4. While the crust is cooking, mix the key lime filling mixture. Spoon just below the shoulder of each mason jar. You will not have enough for all of them to go up to the shoulder. 
  5. Place back into the over and cook for 28 minutes. 
  6. Sprinkle powdered sugar over each mini pie. 
  7. Carefully (and with oven mitts on), screw the lids onto each jar and place the jars back into the cardboard box the jars come in to put in the refrigerator to chill for 1-2 hours. If you threw the box away (don't do this, they make great carriers), you can always place the jars into a cool cake pan and put that into the refrigerator. 
  8. Display on a nice tray or on a cupcake tier. Just keep in mind they will be heavy if you put them on the tier and could topple over if everyone grabs a jar from just one side first. (Not that I know from experience or anything). 
Everyone said they were really good, and I had to hoard 2 for my hubby before the rest were gone. Some of my family members actually took them home to finish. So, I'm guessing it was a win. Here's what the finished product looks like: 

*The only problem I had was the crust. Because I packed it in, no one could get it out. Everyone was so kind and said it was okay, but as a cook, I felt it was an embarrassing mistake. My husband and dad pulled out their pocket knives and were determined to finish the crust. Here's a picture of someone's pie crust they failed to get. :( 

So when I make these for The 4th of July this year (unless I find something else I would rather bring), I am going to change the crust or just not pack as much. I am determined to make these again. :) 

And here is a picture of my jars on the dessert table of the family reunion. I took this right before everyone filled the rest of it up. I have a family of wonderful cooks! Everything was incredible! 

Some good stuff, right there! 

Let Me Show You Peace

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) 

It's the first day of summer break...well, the first day of summer break where my husband is not home to share the children with me. Last night I set some pretty clear expectations on my children for this summer. I set their alarm clocks for 8 am, and told them they were not allowed out of their rooms before that alarm goes off, and when they do decide to come out, they had to be dressed and their beds made up. You see, my children have a habit of getting up on the weekends and holidays at 6 am and then they sit on the couch in their skivvies. I'm just not too excited about that being a habit all summer long. I need some quiet time before the hurricane of Debney children take over the rest of the day. 

And amazingly, this morning, 2/3 of my kids followed directions, even the dogs followed directions and were decently quiet until right at 8. Those moments of peace gave me time to make a cup of coffee and sit down with my Lord to discuss today's agenda. So I opened today's daily devotion, and what do I see, but a devotion about a woman who has a hard time being comfy in the peace the Lord provides for us. (Here's the link to the devotion, if you are interested). I found it so awesome that God was providing moments of peace before a busy day and reminding me through the devotion and His Word that my time with him shouldn't be to discuss my expectations of the day's agenda, but to really just sit still and let God speak. You know, "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10a. I laughed as I wrote in my prayer journal. Instead of me reading that devotion while my children were running around getting dressed or when the day is in the midst of being busy, He gave me a few moments of peace while He was reminding me to just be quiet in those moments and let Him do all the talking. And for that reminder, I am grateful. 

I love how God sends these little moments of reminders, these little moments to say, "Hey! Just calm down, sit down, and let Me show you something special; let me tell you something awesome." May you also have a few moments of peace today where God opens your heart to His truth, and shares with you words that are meant to comfort and love. 

Photo Credit 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Devotion: You Can't Turn Back the Clocks for a Reason

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

I lost my cool. I had just about had it with my son's antics. He had only been up an hour, and he just couldn't seem to stay out of trouble. And I let him know my frustrations on the way to school. He had picked yet another fight with his brother, and I was exhausted of his behavior. I lost my cool and began yelling. It was not my finest moment as a mother. And even now I want to justify my actions, but I learned I was just as wrong as he was. As soon as I dropped him and his brother off at car line and drove that 5 minute silent ride back to my house, God spoke to me about as clearly as anyone else could. I was in the wrong. My first thought was I wish I could turn back the clock to early that morning. I wanted to press a "Restart" button. I wanted to try it all over again, but to handle my son's disobedience with a little more grace. I began thinking of how he was beginning to react to me the same way I used to react to my own mother when she would yell and rant at me the same way I did my son: he closed off. I could see it in his eyes. He had learned the art of tuning me out but still look like you are paying attention. I saw my former self in his eyes, and I knew that I  had to change my tactics...and my heart.

The funny thing about this world is there are so many times when we want to "Restart" something. We want to be able take back words we have spoken, to redo actions, to give back what we have taken. I wanted so much to take back what I said to my son, but God allows us to make those mistakes so we could learn from them. And ultimately, that learning process will glorify Him. Think of God's creation. He created a perfect, beautiful world. And we humans screwed it up. We made mistakes that caused the rest of creation a lifetime in Paradise. And even as the world progressively got more and more wicked and sinful, He still did not wipe the slate completely clean. Look at Noah. God should have seemed ready to hit the "Restart" button, but He decided to show Grace and allow a way for the world repopulate. All of this lead to God sending his Son, Jesus, to provide a way for all of us to experience Paradise once again. It's not that God learned from His mistakes, because God does not make mistakes, but He does set a good example of showing that Grace can be given to those who are falling short of perfection.

What God reminded me is that there is a time of learning for all of us. There is a time when my kids are going to make me laugh, and then there are times when I want to pull out my hair in frustration. There will be times when I am a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend, and then there will be times when I fail at all of those. But each of those times, good and bad, are times when God is teaching me, when He is preparing me and molding me to a better person. He is teaching me that my actions must glorify Him. And as I apologized to my son that afternoon when I picked him up from school, I pray that God was glorified in the words and actions that followed.

Photo Credit 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Make Your Own: Bath Bombs (or Bath Fizzies)

Oh, Easter eggs, I knew I could come up with some other use for you rather than just reappearing in random places around my home. I already made a Bird Feeder with so many of those leftover Easter eggs, but now I'm going to use them as a mold for those Bath Fizzies I wanted to make. As part of my Make Your Own Series, I have been waiting for a great opportunity to make these little "peace-makers". I did a little research to find the most common recipe using the most common stuff I already had around the house. These bath fizzies were super easy to make, and my children have already enjoyed using them. 

Here's the "recipe"...and for those of you who struggled through Chemistry class in high school, like I did, this will give you a new sense of appreciation for that particular science. 

Make Your Own Bath Fizzies 

Things You'll Need
(NOTE: most of the recipes I found said to measure the dry ingredients by weight. I didn't have a kitchen scale, so I didn't do it by weight, and they still turned out fine)
  • 8 oz Baking Soda
  • 4 oz Citric Acid (see note below about this) 
  • 4 oz Corn Starch 
  • 40 oz Sea Salt or Kosher Salt 
  • 2 1/4 tsp Water
  • 2 tsp of Essential or Fragrance Oil (make sure you use the kind for the body, NOT the kind for candles....and I used Peppermint because I had some left over from this Christmas gift Minty Bath Salts
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp of light oil... I used extra light olive oil
  • Food coloring 
  • PLASTIC EASTER EGGS...the sides don't have to match or even stick together. 
  1. Put all the dry ingredients in a large glass bowl. Gently whisk these together until it is smooth. 
  2. In a small bowl (or even a 1 cup measuring cup), blend together the wet ingredients. You are going to want to do this in a container that will make the next step easy for slooow pouring. 
  3. SLOWLY pour the about a Tbsp at a time of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while whisking. If you are pouring too quickly, it will start foaming. If foaming happens, quickly mix the dry ingredients and foam together to stop the reaction. Once all the wet is mixed with the dry, it should clump together fairly easily. 
  4. Firmly fill each side of the plastic Easter egg with the mixture. Let it set (really it can be ready in about 2 minutes). 
  5. TO USE: Gently tap out the Bath Fizzie from the Easter egg into a tub of warm water. It will fizz your bath into a sweet getaway. For my daughter, I just dropped the plastic egg half into the tub. We watched it fizz and slowly rise to the surface as the egg emptied of the Bath Fizzie. She loved it! 
I stored a bunch of these in a ziplock bag in the bathroom. They have kept pretty well inside the plastic eggs. I was pleasantly pleased with the final product. Try it with a different scent, put a few together of Mom on Mother's Day or make a few to give as a birthday gift. 

NOTE on Citric Acid: this was the hardest to find, but I ended up finding them in the canning section of the grocery store. This is canning season, so it was on the shelves. If you are looking for it during NON-canning season (is there ever a season such as this?) you may need to check out your local Ace Hardware. 

So here is my attempt to get a picture of the fizzing in action. Can you see the yellow Easter egg on the left? 

As all the Bath Fizz emptied the Easter egg, it slowly rose to the top. See all the bubbles? Neat, huh? 
And this is where I store them. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday's Food: Crockpot Spicy Tomato Soup

I looked at the text my husband just sent me, and then looked at the pantry again. This past week had been an expensive one for us, and if we were ever going to save any money for our 10 year anniversary trip to New Orleans, we were going to need to cut corners...again. With just his income (and the little bit I get from Bounty...see here, here, and here for details), I have to be creative and frugal as the Home Manager. So as he texted me with the latest update on our budget (he does it on his lunch break...crazy guy), I knew that a quick trip to the store to pick up stuff was just going to have to wait until the next payday.

Lucky for me, though, two weeks ago I went on my monthly BOGOF grocery trip. I go about once a month and pick up pretty much just Buy 1 Get 1 Free items...with the exception of milk and eggs...which generally aren't ever BOGOF. :( I'm not particularly good at couponing, but I'm pretty good at taking all the sales papers of my local grocery stores and making lists of all the BOGOF stuff we would actually use. Check out my loot!

So you see on the bottom right all those cans? Those are all tomato-something. And that was where I got my inspiration for last night's super-frugal, completely husband approved, and kid tested (and liked!) dinner.

I searched my favorite crockpot website A Year of Slow Cooking, and found her Tomato Soup Recipe. The problem was I didn't have all the ingredients she had, and I was really going to try to make something at home without having to go by the store. So, I grabbed what I had and made a pretty decent soup! Check it out:

Crockpot Spicy Tomato Soup 


  • 2  (14.5 oz) Cans of Diced Tomatoes (One of mine was Oregano and Rosemary diced) 
  • 1 (10 oz) Can of Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies (if you don't like spicy, then just add another can of regular diced or maybe one of those herby ones like I had above) 
  • 1 (14.5 oz) Can of Stewed Tomatoes 
  • 1/4 cup of oregano (yes! I love this stuff!) 
  • 2 Tbsp of rosemary (fresh is preferred, but dried will work just as well) 
  • 1 Tbsp of Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp of Onion Powder 
  • 1/2 cup of Fat Free Sour Cream
  1. Gently dump all your tomatoes in a blender. (If you have one of those nifty tools that you can stick in your soup to puree, do it! I would have done this with mine, but I killed my hand blender on making a smoothie...for real, I did.) Blend until the tomatoes run smooth. 
  2. Gently pour into your crockpot. Blend in all the spices. Leave the sour cream until the very end. DONT put it in at this point. Trust me. 
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
  4. About 10  minutes before serving, gently stir in the sour cream. 
Serve with grilled cheese (that you make in your waffle iron...if you haven't done this yet, it will change your life!), a few croutons, and a dollop of sour cream. I had some leftover garlic bread from spaghetti last week, and I just chopped that stuff up and put on top of the soup. See below: 

It was YUMMY! And I had enough to freeze for another meal another time. 

And just a side note, my oldest child likes to think he can handle hot stuff, especially since his mama can barely handle black pepper. So when I served him this soup last night, we had a competition to see who can eat the most without having to drink anything....and I won. Just saying. :) 

And one last side note: don't make this while wearing white. You will want to test the soup at some point, and inevitably the spoon will slip out of your hands, fly through the air in slow motion and land on the floor with a large SPLAT! Then you will have to quickly remove all the whites you have on and run to your laundry room to quickly apply a stain-fighter agent (white vinegar or peroxide)...just because you wanted an early taste. Just leave the soup alone.