Tipsy on Tuesday

Tipsy on Tuesday is a weekly recurring post that features tips that might just make your life a little easier.

      Today's Tips
  • Rubbing cornstarch on a knot will help to loosen it.  Really? Are you as amazed as I am?  I will definitely be using this tip on those crazy shoelace knots!  Source: Woman's Day
  • Place a damp paper towel or dishcloth under your cutting board to keep it from sliding around.  I think I first saw Rachel Ray do this years ago on her show 30 minute meals.  
  • Taking the time to organize your kitchen will save you precious time every day!  Everything should have a place and it should always be put back in the same place.  In my kitchen I could find just about any of my staples (flour, sugar, vanilla extract, spatula, etc.) with my eyes closed.  I took the time to organize every space and I cannot tell you the time it has saved me while cooking. It doesn't have to be done in one day. Devoting a little time each day to creating an organized kitchen will save you so much time and energy every day. Go ahead and start today, I promise that you will be a more efficient and happy cook!


Iced Citrus Green Tea (under 3 calories per serving!)

I cannot believe it took me this long to try green tea! I guess I always assumed it would taste "green", you know, like grass or something.  I had my first iced green tea at Pei Wei, it was a mandarin orange flavor. Turns out, green tea tastes nothing like grass.  It was so tasty and refreshing! Since our family has made a commitment to eating healthier and natural foods, I have had a hard time finding things that I really love to drink.  I was a diet soda addict, but now you couldn't get me to touch the stuff. Besides, even if you do love sodas, they are so freaking expensive!

I was really excited when I found green tea bags at the grocery store because I wanted to recreate this green tea drink at home using my favorite zero calorie sweetener, Truvia.  It is made from the leaf of the stevia plant, is natural, and really tastes delicious. You can find this product under other brand names too. I like this brand because they have the spoonable jar.  Tearing all of those little packets open is annoying and really just a lot of unneeded waste. I even save the Truvia containers because I know I will find a way to repurpose them, and you will probably read about it on here so stay tuned! Anyway, to find a stevia type sweetener,  just look in the same area of the store as the sugar and you will find it.

Iced Citrus Green Tea
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yield: 2 quarts

2 quarts of water
2 family size green tea bags
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Truvia (or any other stevia sweetener)

Fill a 2 quart pitcher with water.  Pour some of the water into a small saucepan (about 1 1/2 cups). Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat.  Add the tea bags to the hot water and let them steep for 3 or 3 1/2 minutes.  Do not leave them in the water longer or it will result in a bitter tasting tea.  While the tea is steeping, squeeze the orange juice.  Measure out 1 1/2 tbsps of orange juice and pour into pitcher of water, using a small mesh strainer to catch the pulp. I usually cut a small end off of the orange for juicing and I slice up the rest to store in the fridge so that each glass can have a fresh piece.

Tips for better tea:

Do not steep the tea for more than 3 1/2 minutes.  Longer steeping times will make the tea taste bitter.
Use a small mesh strainer for the orange juice unless you like pulp floating around in your glass.
Keep orange slices in the fridge to use as a garnish or for an extra citrus burst, give the slice a squeeze before dropping it into the glass.  Yum!

This citrus green tea is so tasty, basically calorie free (the oj adds less than 3 calories per glass) and much cheaper than buying all those sodas!  Besides being yummy and budget friendly, green tea is also a potent antioxidant and believed to have many positive health effects.  You can find out more about green tea by visiting Wikipedia.

I am looking forward to finding some great hot teas to sip as fall starts to show itself soon. Do you have a favorite hot or cold tea to drink? Leave a comment and let me know!


Tipsy on Tuesday

Tipsy on Tuesday is a weekly recurring post that features tips that might just make your life a little easier.

Lets just say I have stripped a screw or two (or twenty) in my lifetime.  Removing one can be difficult and frustrating.  If you have a stripped screw keeping you from finishing a project or can imagine this scenario in your future, check out this great tip on apartmentthearpy.com  that shows how using a rubber band can create just enough grip to remove the screw. 


Cinnamon Honey Butter

Does anyone else hate waiting for butter to soften?  The wait can be excruciating!  I found out this week that the quickest way to soften butter is a broken air conditioner in the middle of an Arkansas heatwave... let's just say it was quite effective.

I had planned on baking cupcakes for my moms birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!!!) but with the heat index hovering around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and going on day three of no air conditioning, I decided that baking would not be the most pleasant experience. And believe me, I had to stop myself many times from turning on that oven!  How could I not make my mom cupcakes on her birthday?  I was sad, and terribly hot, but determined to give my mom something homemade that did not require any source of heat to create.  I happened upon a recipe for cinnamon honey butter and the search for the perfect homemade gift was over.

Why is it the perfect homemade gift?  This is so amazingly good! It can be spread on toast, bagels, rolls or biscuits, and really I think it would still be pretty tasty just slathered on a napkin! (ok... maybe not, I am just getting carried away).  It is so easy to whip up and can be made in large or small quantities.  A perfectly delicious gift with a beautiful presentation that is made in a sun baked house without air conditioning?  No sweat!!  If only all gift giving could be as simple.

Cinnamon Honey Butter
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adapted from All Recipes
yield: about 2 cups

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the softened butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a long spatula.  Next, add honey and ground cinnamon. Whip until combined.  Mixture will be light and fluffy.
This is a fairly sweet butter.  Powdered sugar and honey can easily be adjusted for your specific tastes. Remember, it is easier to add more sugar than to take it away.  If you think this might be too sweet, start out with smaller amounts and add more until it is perfect for you.

You probably have all of these ingredients in your kitchen.  So what are you waiting for?  Well, you will probably be waiting for your butter to soften so you might as well run and get it out of the fridge!

*note* In the photo above the butter pictured is unsalted. I have tried salted and unsalted butter in this recipe. I prefer it with salted butter.

Below are a few tips and photos of the process to get you started. You will also find information on storage and tips for turning this into a super cute gift.

Make sure you butter is softened to room temperature. You can always use the microwave but remember that butter can go from soft to melted in a matter of seconds. Do not use melted butter in this recipe.  A soft butter will insure proper mixing for a smooth texture.

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the softened butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a long spatula.

Next, add honey and ground cinnamon, whip until combined.  Mixture will be light and fluffy.

I store this in the fridge. Supposedly people all over the world leave butter on the counter with no ill effects. Sugar also helps with preserving, but I am always overly cautious concerning food safety. If you are interested, I found some interesting comments here about butter storage. Storing in the fridge with make this butter harden, but it can easily be scraped in thin fluffy amounts with a butter knife or spreader. I suggest not packing down the butter into the container to keep the texture light. I spoon the butter into the containers and lightly pack it so there are no large air pockets.

I was able to fill two glass 8 oz. jelly jars.   Which by the way, glass jars are a current obsession of mine. They come in so many different sizes. You can also buy plastic screw top lids that make these jars perfect for storing anything! Not to mention they make such a beautiful presentation if giving as a gift.

To decorate the jar:

Method 1
You will need a circle of fabric 2 1/2-3 inches bigger than the lid of the jar. My jar lid was almost 3 inches across so I needed about a 6 inch circle of fabric. It doesn't have to be exact and it doesn't even have to be a circle.  Get creative! I used a bowl to trace a circle on the wrong side of the fabric.  I can hardly cut a straight line, you think I am going to be able to freehand a circle? Nope, not this girl!

Place the fabric circle on top of the jar and attach by wrapping a coordinating ribbon around the fabric and tying a small bow.  To make this easier you can place a rubberband around the fabric where you want the ribbon to be tied. Then you can easily tie the ribbon in place without the fabric shifting. You can remove the rubberband or leave it a place, covering it with the ribbon.


Method 2
Using the lid of the jar, trace a circle on the wrong side of some cute scrapbook paper. Tape the paper to the metal lid. You can also add a coordinating ribbon and a gift tag made from scrapbook paper.  Run the ribbon through a small hole in the tag.