Gretchen Schock shares her love of recipes, crafts and frugal living. She also speaks very opening about the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. After a breast cancer scare in 2012, she decided to say goodbye to her nightly glasses of Chardonnay. It was time to get sober and live life with eyes wide open! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.

9/29/2007

Black Bean and Corn Chowder

I love soup in the fall, it's one of my favorite things to eat. My friend Wendi gave me the recipe for her fantastic chicken corn chowder, well I futzed with it a bit as I am known to do and turned it into a vegetarian chowder. I make this chowder in one large skillet. It will serve 6 and also freezes well for future dinners.

1 medium onion, chopped
5 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup vegetable stock (if you don't know how to make veg stock check out my previous post here.)
2 cups milk (I've used soy or regular whole or fat free milk; all work fine.)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-25 ounce can of black beans
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Cook onion in skillet with a splash of olive oil once translucent add garlic. While onion is cooking place 2 cups of corn in the blender and puree. Pour puree corn in the skillet and repeat the puree process so that you have 4 cups of pureed corn. Add all of the other ingredients except the cheddar cheese and cook on low for about 20 minutes. Add the cheese and once it melts remove chowder from heat source and serve.

9/28/2007

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

I recently learned about this and I just had to share it with all of you. Habitat for Humanity has what they call ReStores, where you can go and buy deeply discounted home improvement items.
Anything from kitchen cabinets, doors, windows and even primer. Each location's selection varies, of course, and like a thrift store changes routinely. If you are planning a remodel on your house check out one of these stores before heading to Home Depot or Lowe's. Not only are you saving a ton of money but you'll also be saving the item from going into a landfill and you're helping out a wonderful company.

9/27/2007

The Alternative Cat Scratching Post

We have 2 adorable felines that I love dearly. We also have a black leather sectional sofa that I also love very much.
I've never been the type of person that will allow an animal to destroy a piece of furniture. Yet I understand cats have a natural desire to scratch on something to sharpen their claws. So I bought our kittie, Cole and Puck, their very own chair. I picked it up in the As-Is section of Ikea for 40 bucks. It's made of natural materials and is safer for the environment compared to those cat scratching towers which have petroleum based carpets connected to them and will continue to put out harmful toxic fumes into the air of your home. Not to mention they are so expensive!

So take advantage of all the summer clearance sales that are going on right now and if you spot a wicker chair in not the greatest shape but for dirt cheap, snag it up and your felines will thank you.

9/26/2007

E-Cards

I'm not a huge fan of e-cards but this site had be laughing out loud at my computer screen. Next time you want to send a singing cartoon lion e-card go to Some Ecards instead.

9/23/2007

2 Different Versions of Pizza and Salad Night

Pizza and salad night is a standard at my house. Not greasy take-out but healthy and semi-homemade.

Pizza is quick and always pleases. Paring it with a salad is great because you can chop up many of the same veggies for toppings as well as salad. Also, I find it a great way to use up left over veggies and meat because it actually doesn't take, for example, a whole large onion to top a pizza.

Here are two different versions of Pizza that I rotate with a regular tomato sauce variety so dinner isn't exactly the same thing week after week.

I use a whole wheat pizza crust. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I use pizza crust from the grocery store depending on time. I still haven't found a great home-made whole wheat pizza crust recipe that never fails so if anyone has a great recipe for that let me know.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This version starts with a base of BBQ Sauce. I prefer Annie Organics BBQ sauce. Spice it with some black pepper and fresh cilantro or parsley. If I don't have the fresh spices I skip it or use a little bit of dry parsley. Lastly, it is topped with a bed of thinly sliced red onion, some shredded left over chicken, and part skim milk cheese.

Taco Pizza

After Taco night I usually have ground turkey or beef mixture left over. I always include diced onions and peppers in my taco spiced meat. By added the veggies I reduce the amount of meat and add tons of flavor. I always freeze this and use it to make a quick quesadilla or Taco Pizza.

Taco Pizza starts with a base of refried beans. On top of the beans I put the taco spiced ground meat, onion, and pepper mixture (thawed if frozen). I spice the pizza with fresh cilantro if available and fresh ground pepper. Again, I use part-skim cheese. After the pizza comes out I top it with diced Roma tomatoes and chopped lettuce.

Cook according to the crust instructions. Usually around 425 F for 10 to 20 minutes.

9/20/2007

Movie Book Space Saver

One of the biggest space hogs are all of those DVD cases and if you have kids...oh my word, forget it! Well after the millionth time of going through the DVD cases to make sure the Toy Story DVD was actually in the Toy Story case I came up with a new plan. I bought one of those big CD books and put all of the DVDs in that. We make a copy of every DVD so that the 4 year old and 2 year old don't ruin the original. The problem is that there are no pictures on the copied DVDs and they can't read. So I went online and got the images of every DVD and printed them out on card stock. I cut them out and originally I laminated them but then felt that was too time consuming and expensive so I then opted for clear packing tape and covered the picture with that. Why even laminate you ask? We are talking about 2 kids under the age of 5. They have this condition called "peanut butter and jelly fingers"...it's not serious, just sticky. And now the beauty of all of this is that both of my kids can pick out what DVD they want to watch and it takes about a third of the space than the original cases.
Now you don't have to be under 5 to enjoy this. We converted all of our DVDs to books also. And at first I thought, well we can read I don't need to do the whole picture thing but as many adults in the Gen X generation I am a visual person and if the original DVD doesn't have a picture on it and just the title of the movie I find myself wondering "have I seen this?, "who is Tim Roth anyway?"
So do yourself a favor...buy a Cd book and get rid of all of those cases once and for all. Many of them can be thrown in your recycle bin or else put them on freecycle. You never know what might be treasure to one and trash to another.

9/07/2007

I installed a garbage disposal!!!

OK we bought a house, as you know, and with it comes home improvement projects up the ying-yang. Well I wasn't expecting the garbage disposal to be on that list. But one day it made a sad sound in the morning and then poof no longer worked. Immediately I began to freak about how much it was going to cost to hire someone to fix it. Did I mention that my husband and I are not quite the handy type yet? Well then I googled the situation and came upon the DIY Home Improvement Website.
The pictures and directions made the situation look easy and it did help that the hands had long nails and fingernail polish.
So I thought I'd give it a go and try and see if I could do it. I also wanted to tackle my fear of electrical and plumbing home improvements. And GUESS WHAT! I did it!!!
I know to some this may seem a minor thing but for me it was a big deal, so big I had to take a picture of me in the process and blog about it. :)

9/01/2007

Wine Charms (Or it's never to early to start making Christmas Presents)


Hand-made Christmas gifts are a Cocktail Mom tradition. It may only be September but it is never to soon to start. Over the next few weeks my plan is to demo some of the Holiday gifts I have made in recent years that were a big hit.

It can be very complicated and overwhelmingly time consuming if you try to make a completely unique gift for every person on your Holiday Gift List. Each year Gretchen and I each try to create one gift that we can "mass produce" for several different people. This gift has to be fun to make (or why bother), it has to be reasonably price to make (or why bother), and it has to serve a purpose or be useful to the person that is going to receive it. In other words, I try very hard not to give presents that are just going to junk peoples' homes.

Wine Charms aren't exactly on a list of things that people must have, but they are fairly useful - as anyone who has ever mixed-up their glass of wine at a party with someone else knows. These charms are simple to make.

You will need:
6-8 hoop earrings
6-8 different charms or different color beads
A pair of needle nose pilers
A decorative box or pouch to present them in

I like to use charms over beads because when each guest arrives they get to have the pleasure of picking out their charm for the night. Sort of like picking out your Monopoly piece at the beginning of a game.

When you purchase the hoop earrings they will look like this:










With the needle nose pilers bend back the end of the earring that does not have a hole about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch to a right angle:









Slip on a charm and you're done. It's so easy that I usually drink some wine while I'm making them. That's what makes me a Cocktail Mom.


Of course these make great anytime presents and are great for just about everyone except of course people who don't drink!


Drink responsibly and remember - Don't Craft and Drive!

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