Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Weeknight Ravioli Bake

1 jar (26 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup water
2 pkg (1 lb) each) frozen cheese ravioli
1 pkg (8 oz) Italian 3 cheese blend
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and water; spoon 1 cup onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish.

Layer half the ravioli and 1 cup shredded cheese over sauce. Top with remaining ravioli and sauce mixture. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese; cover.

Bake 30 minutes; uncover. Bake 15 minutes or until ravioli is tender and heated through. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Let stand 10 minutes.



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Multi-Grain Scrub


A couple of years ago a friend of mine's daughter (did you follow that?) did a presentation to the teen girls called "The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen." Using ingredients you would probably have on hand in your kitchen, you can make anything from face cleansers and scrubs to bath salts. I'll be sharing them each Tuesday so take some time out and enjoy!

Multi-Grain Scrub

2 tablespoons oatmeal (not instant)
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 teaspoons wheat germ

Can be used dry or wet. Blend ingredients. As an exfoliant, GENTLY massage/buff over face/neck/chest area. Follow with cleanser above. As a scrub, mix with your favorite cleanser or just tepid water until pasty. Massage over face/neck. Rinse with tepid water, pat dry. For sensitive skin, use only oatmeal.


Monday, March 29, 2010

I'll Fly Away

If you are like me than you are looking forward to the warm weather that Summer will bring (Summer, please come soon!). Like me, you may also be looking forward to vacation. Here are a couple of airfare tips to help save you $ before you make those flight reservations.

1. Shop for airplane tickets on Tuesday thru Thursday. Most deals are put into the system Monday night making Tuesday thru Thursday ideal days to buy.

2. Compare. Use websites like cheapflights.com, travelocity.com, cheaptickets.com, kayak.com and many others to compare ticket prices between airlines.

3. Be flexible. It may be cheaper to fly out a day earlier or a day later than you had originally planned. Several websites now have a day earlier or a day later choice when you are looking for tickets - use it and be flexible!

4. Location is key. If possible, fly in and out of airlines hub cities (United Airlines - Chicago; American Airlines - Miami; AirTran - Atlanta) and wait to buy your ticket. Travel industry expert, Terry Tripple advises "If I were in a hub city I might wait awhile - especially a hub where a low-fare airline has a decent percentage of the business."

If you cannot fly out of a hub city, then it is advisable to buy your ticket as soon as you notice a sale.

5. Pay your fees up front. For instance, US Airways charges $23 to check your first bag online, but $25 at the airport. Of course, if possible, avoid checking in your luggage.

Side note: Child car seats and strollers are free to check in; however, if children are traveling for free, they don't have a baggage allowance. So any baggage for the child counts as part of the adult's baggage allowance.

6. Wait, but not too long. The article I read said many airlines are recycling sales over and over in an effort to fill their planes (this did not make sense to me as the planes I recently traveled on were all over-booked).

Book your Summer vacation tickets sooner than you would your Fall or Winter tickets as the Summer season is much busier.


The article did offer one last piece of advice for the air traveler: "While some airlines offer last-minute deals to certain points on certain days, in general for leisure travel it is a good idea to give yourself a cushion of at least a month from the time you buy your ticket to the time you plan to travel."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Taco Seasoning Mix

Friday nights seem like the perfect taco night. However, if you are missing the taco seasoning mix, you can easily make it yourself with just a couple ingredients from your spice drawer.

Taco Seasoning Mix

2 teaspoons instant minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried red pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried, minced onion

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until evenly distributed. Store mixture in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months. Makes 1 package (about 2 tablespoons).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cheese Stuffed Italian Chicken

Cheese Stuffed Italian Chicken

4 (4 ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried basil, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
4 (3/4 ounce) part skim mozzarella cheese sticks
2 Tablespoons fat free Italian dressing
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy plastic wrap; pound to 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt, 1/4 teaspoon basil and crushed red pepper.

Sprinkle each with 1 Tablespoon minced bell pepper. Place 2 cheese sticks lengthwise down center.


Roll up jelly roll style. Brush rolls evenly with dressing.


Combine paprika and breadcrumbs; dredge breast rolls in breadcrumb mix, turning to coat. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray seam side down. Lightly coat chicken rolls with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with remaining basil.


Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until done. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Daily Essentials

It is very important to take vitamins every day. Some take B vitamins for energy (that's me!), fish oil for joint health (that's me!), ginkgo to help memory (oops! I forgot!), vitamin C for its antioxidant power (so sour, but that's me!), and most commonly a multi-vitamin to help anything else. Since I am a responsible adult, I make sure that I at least take a multi-vitamin every day. Would you like to see my multi-vitamin?


You got that right! Children's gummi vitamin! Have you ever tried those things? They taste like candy! Thankfully adults are allowed to take 2 a day. Kids only get one. And yes they are the same ones that I feed my kiddos every day. They are very good at reminding me to pass them out. Maybe cuz they taste so good?

BTW: a big bottle like this is a good deal at Sam's Club. Oh, and yes, my hubby takes the same kind of a vitamin. YUMMO!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feel the Love

*Sorry it was messed up earlier - don't know what happened to the spacing.

My Chris and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on March 12. According to the schedule, we should have exchanged wood and silverware. As I look down the list, there are some very interesting gifts. For example: 44th year - groceries and 48th year - optical goods. Now there is some romance for you!

The Year is first than the Traditional Gift followed by the Modern Gift.

1st Paper / Clocks

2nd Cotton / China

3rd Leather / Crystal, Glass

4th Linen, Silk / Electrical Appliances

5th Wood / Silverware

6th Iron / Wood

7th Wool, Copper / Desk Sets, Pen and Pencil Sets

8th Bronze / Linen, Lace

9th Pottery, China / Leather

10th Tin, Aluminum / Diamonds, Jewelry

11th Steel / Fashion Jewelry, Accessories

12th Silk / Pearls, Colored Gems

13th Lace / Textiles, Furs

14th Gold, Jewelry

15th Crystal / Watches

16th Silver / Holloware

17th Furniture

18th Porcelain

19th Bronze

20th China / Platinum

21st Brass, Nickel

22nd Copper

23rd Silver / Plate

24th Musical Instruments

25th Silver / Sterling Silver

26th Original Pictures

27th Sculpture

28th Orchids

29th New Furniture

30th Pearl / Diamond

31st Timepieces

32nd Conveyances

33rd Amethyst

34th Opal

35th Coral / Jade

36th Bone China

37th Alabaster

38th Beryl, Tourmaline

39th Lace

40th Ruby

41st Land

42nd Improved real Estate

43rd Travel

44th Groceries

45th Sapphire

46th Original Poetry Tribute

47th Books

48th Optical Goods

49th Luxury items

50th Gold

55th Emerald

60th Diamond

75th Diamonds, gold

Monday, March 22, 2010

All I have to say is Yumm-O!!!

Click on the link below to get the recipe for the delicious pizza we had yesterday. All I have to say is Yumm-O!!!



Note: There are no pictures or recipe here because The Pioneer Woman and her step by step photos cannot be beaten! Well, that and the pizza was gobbled up too fast!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring has Sprung

Celebrate the start of Spring by making handprint tulips. *Warning* It may get a little messy so have wipes nearby to keep the mess to a minimum.

Materials Needed

-White construction paper
-Green finger paint
-Red (or pink) finger paint


Instructions

Dip the forearm (from elbow to wrist) in green finger paint (or just paint forearm with a paintbrush).

Press the arm down 3 or 4 times onto a sheet of white construction paper to make the stems of the tulips.

Now dip the hand (excluding the thumb) into red (or pink) finger paint and stamp on top of the stems (holding the thumb up) to make the tulip flowers (keep the fingers close together).



Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tips to Help You Save $$

My Chris sent me this article - it was too good to not pass along.

For the Dishwasher's Sake, Go Easy on the Detergent

"Let me start with soap. The No. 1 sin, according to repair people and appliance experts, seems to be adding too much soap to washing machines or dishwashers.

Washing machines and dishwashers are made to use far less water now than older models and, therefore, need less soap. And detergents have also become increasingly concentrated. So a little goes a long way. Following the instructions on the soap container is a good first step.

Washing Machine

Too much detergent can make your clothes stiff and shorten the life of your machine. An excess of soap can also cause a buildup of mold and mildew.

'If people see suds, they think their clothes are getting clean, but that's wrong - it means you're using a lot of extra detergent.'

Use this test to determine if you are oversoaping. Take four to six clean bath towels, put them in your front-loading machine (one towel for a top loader). Don't add any detergent or fabric softener. Switch to the hot water setting and medium wash and run it for about five minutes.

Check for soap suds. If you don't see any suds right away, turn off the machine and see if there is any soapy residue. If you see suds or residue, it is soap coming out of your clothes from the last wash.

Dishwasher

Too much soap is also a problem in dishwashers and can cause dishes and glasses to look filmy Again, check the detergent container for recommended amounts - you definitely don't have to fill up the entire soap container in the dishwasher.

Also, if your plastic items come out still wet, that doesn't mean your dishwasher is not doing its job. Most dishwashers today emit less heat than the older models, so plastic doesn't dry completely.

Loading the dishwasher right will also get your dishes cleaner. Load large items at the sides and back of the dishwasher so that they don't block water and detergent from reaching other dishes.

Place the dirtier side of the dishes toward the center of the machine for more exposure to spray.

Load silverware in the individual silverware slots most dishwashers now include. If you have an open basket, mix forks, spoons and knives to prevent them from sticking together.

Also, remove baked on food and large chunks, but prerinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is not only unnecessary, it wastes thousands of gallons of water and could actually result in dirtier dishes - the soap needs something to work against to get the dishes clean.

Dryer

One dryer sheet is all that is needed. If you throw in many sheets, they can liquefy when the dryer gets hot and gum up the dryer.

Clean the lint below the removable filter.

Clean the lint off the dryer where it vents outdoors.

Oven

Use the self-cleaning mode more than once a year - otherwise, so many food particles have built up that when they burn off, smoke will billow throughout your entire kitchen."


Bottom line: Less is More

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day

Here is a traditional Irish bread to make for St. Patrick's Day. The recipe is super easy and would be a great recipe to get the kids involved with.

Irish Brown Bread

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 cups buttermilk


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine everything but the buttermilk in a large bowl and stir the ingredients with your hands. Make a well in the mixture and pour in 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk.


Continue mixing with your hands, adding the remaining cup of buttermilk as you combine the ingredients. The resulting dough will be wet and very sticky.


Dust your hands with flour, shape the dough into a ball, and place it on a floured cookie sheet (I used a nonstick baking mat to help with clean up).


With a knife, score a deep X in the top of the ball, widening it with the sides of the blade as you cut.


Bake the bread until it's golden brown, about 50 minutes. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Makes a crusty, dense loaf about 7 inches in diameter.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shamrock Toasties

I have to apologize for the lack of photos. Actually Harley should be apologizing. He decided to eat the whole package of English muffins. Crazy dog. I think he may have hummed a few lines of "God Save the Queen". He should have been humming "I better not eat these or else I'm gonna get my backside smacked for eating the Queen's ingredients."

Shamrock Toasties

Green Pepper
English muffin
Cheddar Cheese

To make one, slice a green pepper crosswise near the pointed end to get a small, three-lobed shamrock shape. (If your pepper has four lobes, you've got a lucky clover instead.) Cut a small slice for a stem.

Toast half an English muffin, then top it with a slice of Cheddar and the pepper shamrock. Place the muffin on a tray, then broil it in a toaster oven until the cheese is melted.
-from Family Fun Magazine



Monday, March 15, 2010

Uh Oh!

Sorry there was no post today. I thought there was a scheduled post but was too tired Sunday night after getting back from Snow Camp to look. My excuse for today? Laziness. The plain and simple truth. We'll be back up and running tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oops - Oh Wait - Yum!

The other day we were having a youth leader's meeting at our house and I needed a quick snack. I found this recipe online and made it hoping that it was tasty and, glory be, it was!

Velveeta Spicy Spinach Dip

1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach (Do not thaw)
1 lb. Velveeta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, cut up
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes & green chilies, drained



Place spinach in large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 5 minutes.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Microwave on high 5 minutes or until Velveeta is completely and mixture is well blended, stirring after 3 minutes.

Serve hot with crackers or assorted bread cubes.



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Better Watch Out!



6 ways supermarkets trick you to spend more money

1. ENTRANCE AREA
The trap: Stores internally refer to this as the “chill zone.” And with good reason: This spot primes shoppers with impulse buys like DVDs, bulk goods and holiday products that appeal to them emotionally, says Kit Yarrow, a psychology and marketing professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. It’s designed to make you consider buying, say, a carton of soda for an impromptu barbecue.
What to do: You might think your best bet is to put on blinders here, but that’ll come back to bite you later on in your shopping trip. Instead, let yourself linger and see these products for what they are: filler items that aren’t on your list. “If you pause now, you’re less likely to impulse-buy the item in the store later on,” says Art Markman, a cognitive science professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

2. PRODUCE DEPARTMENT
The trap: Some experts believe fruits and veggies are placed in the front of the store because shopping for healthy food makes you feel less guilty indulging elsewhere. But Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy, reveals a more straightforward reason: “Produce has the highest profit margin, and you’re less disciplined at the beginning of your shop.”
What to do: Save produce for last; this will prevent overbuying. Plus, produce is less likely to bruise with less time in your cart.

3. SPECIALS
The trap: Too many sales can encourage more spending. “They fire up emotions that override reasoning skills,” explains Yarrow. “We think ‘bargain’ without considering value.”
What to do: Consider the item’s real value. “If you would pay full price for it, getting it on sale is a good deal. If not, it’s just the sale talking, so skip it.”

4. BURIED PRODUCTS
The trap: Stores place popular items in the middles of aisles so you have to pass lots of other items to get to what you need. “Research has shown that people buy what’s in front of them,” says retail science expert Herb Sorensen, author of Inside the Mind of the Shopper.
What to do: Keep moving. If it isn’t on your list, skip it. If you still want it before checking out, go back and get it, but chances are “you’ll either forget or find that it’s not worth it to make the trek,” says Markman.

5. PRIVATE LABELS
The trap: Shocker: They aren’t always the best deals.“Many brand names are fighting to stay relevant by offering sales so that they’re cheaper than the private label,” says Yarrow. As a result, stores are placing their private-label goods in more prominent spots so “they’re easier to find, making shoppers less likely to notice sales,” she adds.
What to do: Comparing prices every single time is a must if you want to be sure you’re getting the best deal.

6. SAMPLES
The trap: “Even if you’re not hungry, a bite of food physically signals your body to get ready for a meal,” says Markman. Research shows that these physiological changes make you a less disciplined shopper.
What to do: Hold off on samples until the end, “right before checkout, so the insulin rush won’t affect your bottom line,” says Markman.
-RachaelRaymag.com