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Orange Scented All-Purpose Cleaner

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I’m not sure when I stopped buying chemical cleaners and made the switch to vinegar.  A few years at least.  I’d like to say the initial reason was to keep toxic chemicals out of my home, to be more environmentally friendly, and “green”  but it really wasn’t.  Vinegar is non-toxic and eco-friendly so those reasons are just really awesome bonuses.  The main reason I switched to vinegar as a cleaning agent was because of its huge economical value.  I can buy a huge jug of white vinegar for a couple of dollars vs. the more expensive store-bought chemical cleaners.  Multiply that number a few times to cover the cost of all the specialty cleaners you would buy to cover all areas and surfaces of your home and it quickly becomes VERY expensive.  Vinegar can be used in a myriad of ways all around the home, making it  (almost) the only cleaner you’ll need.  Vinegar is acidic and because of that it kills germs, bacteria, and most mold.  It can be used to cut through grease, in laundry as a rinse and softening agent, loosens mineral deposits from hard water, dissolves soap scum, and removes coffee and tea stains from counters, cups, and coffee makers to name a few.

Here’s the downside to vinegar.  Until it dries after you use it your house will smell like a pickle.  Not a big deal to me personally, but I know that reason alone has scared many people away from using it.  It’s REALLY easy to cover that scent though and at the same time boost the cleaning power of that magic little liquid.  All it takes is one thing that you probably just throw away mindlessly.  Orange peels, or any citrus peels at that. I use orange because that’s what I have around all of the time. So if the smell has been a reason you haven’t switched to vinegar based cleaners, give this a try.

Infuse vinegar with oranges to make a powerful, great smelling all-purpose cleaner that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and CHEAP!

Infuse vinegar with oranges to make a powerful, great smelling all-purpose cleaner that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and CHEAP!

This is what I use as my everyday, all-purpose cleaner.  Counter and stove tops, sinks, door handles, spots on the floor or walls, even glass, it’s my go-to.  Try  it out and let me know what you think! Already a vinegar fan? Let me know how you use it in the comments or on Facebook at Taking Babysteps.  Don’t forget to like, pin, and share!

Orange Infused All-Purpose Vinegar Cleaner

What you need:

  • Orange peels
  • White vinegar
  • water
  • mason jar (or any re-closeable container)
  • spray bottle

What you’ll do:

  • Peel oranges, eat the insides, save the peels and pith.
  • Put peels and pith in a jar with a lid.  You can pack as many as you have in there.
  • Add vinegar to cover.
  • Shake it around
  • Let it sit for 2 weeks.
  • Strain peels and pour citrus vinegar into spray bottle.
  • Add water.  I use a 1/1 mix of water and citrus vinegar.Orange peels in vinegar

    Strained orange infused vinegar. Use as 1/1 mix with water for a great  all purpose cleaner!

    Strained orange infused vinegar. Use as 1/1 mix with water for a great all purpose cleaner!

Orange infused all purpose vinegar cleanerThat’s it.  Super easy, environmentally friendly, and will save you money!


Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

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Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

I cannot tell you how excited I am that it’s summer squash season.  Zucchini is one of those veggies that we always have around during the summer and I throw it into anything I can. They are so affordable right now and there is a million things you can do with that delicious green-skinned veggie. Breads, muffins, ragout, sautéed with olive oil and garlic and tossed with pasta, used in frittatas, you get my drift and now I’m drooling.  You name it, I’ve probably done it…except for turn it into noodles.  That’s something I don’t have any desire to try.   I just don’t want to.  You can’t make me.  Neener neener  (so grown-up of me. I know) I’m sure it’s tasty – I just like my noodles filled with carbs.


By the way! Don’t be one of “those people” who try to sneak squash in place of noodles thinking no one will notice, and you’ll get to be all “SEE! It tastes exactly the same!! And it’s so much better for you!!”  No. They will notice and they will never trust you again.  How would you like it if I gave you water when you were expecting vodka.  NOT SO MUCH FUN NOW, IS IT?!  Just be honest and say you’re trying something new.  It goes over better that way.


Baked parmesan zucchini crisps

Sorry about that….
Back to my point.
Even though I love zucchini it’s not a veggie the kids get excited about when they hear it’s in the dinner line up.  Hubby swears he doesn’t like it (even though one of his most requested dinners from me is based around zucchini….hmmm…) They are singing a different tune now that I made these parmesan zucchini crisps.  Sissy has asked for them every night for 2 weeks now.  Hubby loves them with my spicy greek yogurt dipping sauce, and Buddy calls them chips and happily munches them down.  Crispy, cheesy, baked goodness that goes perfectly along side a burger or just as a snack.   They are SO FREAKING YUM!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

Sliced zucchini, flour, egg wash, panko


zucchini crisps getting ready to be baked

zucchini crisps getting ready to be baked

Flipped, 10 minutes to go...

Flipped, 10 minutes to go…

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps. So brown and crispy without frying!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps. So brown and crispy without frying!

Click here for the recipe!

Don’t dump that down the drain! Recycle your cooking water

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Yep.  You read that right.  Recycle your cooking water. With the hot, dry summer months coming this could be a life-saver (plant-saver?) if you live in an area that gets frequently plagued by droughts and water restrictions.

I’m not saying bathe in it, but don’t just dump it down the drain either! Do this instead.

Water from cooking veggies, pasta, and eggs can be used to water your garden.

Water from cooking veggies, pasta, and eggs can be used to water your garden.

When you boil/steam veggies (corn on the cob season is near!), cook pasta,  or hard boil eggs place a large bowl or container under your colander to collect the used cooking water.  Let it cool COMPLETELY.  That step is VERY important,  scalding hot water will kill your plants.  Their root systems cannot handle the extreme temperatures. Once cooled, use it to water your garden.   Not only is it eco-friendly but your plants benefit from the nutrients left behind in the water, plus you’ll save some money too by reducing your water usage – bonus!

Recycle your cooking water

My mini veggie garden starting to bloom.

Don’t have a garden to water? Have weeds in the cracks of your driveway or sidewalk?  Pour the water directly onto them while still boiling hot.  The temperature of the water will cause the cells in the leaves to burst and kill whatever is growing.

Reuse your cooking water? Let me know how you use it, or just tell me I’m not crazy, in the comments!

Get the word out! Like, pin, and share!

Philly-Style Sloppy Joes

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Philly-Style Sloppy Joes

If a Philadelphia cheese steak and a sloppy joe made a baby, it would be this sandwich.   So.Much.YUM

I’ll likely be vilified for calling it Philly style, as there are green peppers in it, but eh – I like green peppers. It’s also why I called it “Philly Style” and not  THE TRUE ORIGINAL PHILLADELPHIA CHEESE STEAK.  Are there sloppy joe purists too? I don’t know if there is a sloppy joe rule book….

It’s quick to put together, easy, and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Most importantly, 4 out of 4 on the approval rating. Even Buddy ate this happily. I thought it was a goner when he noticed the peppers, but he just picked them out and kept eating. Definitely a win.

Philly-Style Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cube beef bouillon OR 1 cup beef broth
1 cup water (omit if using broth)
1/4 cup steak sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
pepper to taste

Brown ground beef, drain. Pretty straight forward here. I sometimes like to use my potato masher when browning beef. I feel like it breaks it up a little better and gives it a nicer texture when using ground meat for sandwiches. Don’t attack it, be gentle. We aren’t looking for pate.

Dice onion and green pepper, mince your garlic if using whole garlic cloves.
Add it to the cooked ground beef.
Cook over medium heat until peppers and onions are tender.

IMGP1200Dissolve bouillon cube in hot water.
Put water, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, and liquid smoke into meat mixture.

Simmer for 5-10 minutes
Serve on rolls. You could make a cheese sauce if you wanted. I was in a time crunch and used a jarred sauce.  You could go without cheese too. Doesn’t matter, whatever you want.

See that yummy roll? I’ll be posting the recipe for that soon! (Find it here! Soft Onion Sandwich Rolls)  Let me know in the comments if you tried this and what you think!




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