Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

What's better on Memorial Day than the classic hamburger, but you may be surprised to see the ingredients. First, I have to say that Chris and I
l-o-v-e Bobby Flay's recipes and have several of his cookbooks. He (Bobby Flay) says that you should keep the ingredients for a hamburger should be kept to a minimum. Adding all kinds of ingredients into a hamburger is basically making meatloaf so why not just make meatloaf.

The Classic Burger

1 pound ground beef (In the case of hamburgers - leaner is not necessarily better. 80% ground beef works the best)
Olive oil

Shape the ground beef into patties. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before grilling.

So the Classic Burger sounds boring to you, huh? No way! Top the Classic off with:

-Classics of tomato, lettuce, onion
-Avocado mayonnaise, pico de gallo
-Bacon, lettuce, tomato
-Grilled sweet onions

These are just a couple of our favorites off the top of my head. Any ideas out there?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Five Facts Friday - Kitchen Edition

1. Once opened, store instant coffee in the freezer for up to 1 year - it will stay fresh-tasting until you need to use it again.

2. Before measuring a sticky ingredient such as honey or molasses, spray the measuring cup with cooking spray; the sticky ingredient will come out of the cup much easier.

3. The cap on the vanilla extract bottles are a handy little measure, most caps hold between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon.

4. Eggshells are less likely to splinter if they are cracked on a flat surface rather than on the edge of the mixing bowl.

5. A few unfrosted crumbled gingerbread or other ginger cookies make an excellent thickener for pot roast gravy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shedding the Light on Sun Screen

Did You Know? UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays cannot penetrate glass windows, but UVA (Ultraviolet A) rays can, leaving you prone to damaging effects if unprotected. For days when you are going to be indoors, apply sunscreen on the areas not covered by clothing, such as the face and hands.

Ok, so most (probably all) of us will not be wearing sunscreen all day every day even inside, but what about when you go outside.

-Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors being sure to apply to all exposed areas of the skin (most people apply only 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen).
-Sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so be sure to reapply sunscreen often.

But which sunscreens are best? Glad you asked.

-Creams: use on the face and for those with dry skin
-Gels: use on hairy areas (such as scalp or male chest)
-Sticks: use around the eyes
-There are also sunscreens made for sensitive skins as well as those made specifically for babies.

Ideally, all sunscreens should be water-resistant and should have a SPF of 30 or higher.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lettuce Save You Some Green

Here are some tips on keeping your greens fresh and spending less of your "green" on them.

At the store:
-For loose greens: Put your hand down into the plastic bag and then grab the greens with it. Pull the bag from the top down over the greens and release your hand. It's a quicker, drier way to get wet or over-sized bunches of greens into the bag.
-For prepackaged greens or salad: Choose greens packaged in a plastic clamshell container as they last much longer if purchased in these than in the bags.

When you get home:
-Take a second to remove the twist-tie from your bunches of greens when you bring them home to prevent damage and aging caused by the metal wire.
-Rinse the greens, shake them to remove some of the moisture, and then roll them in a clean cotton dishtowel or clean cotton pillowcase. The fabric will become damp, which is good. Put this rolled setup into the vegetable crisper for quick and easy, access to prepped greens. This will extend the freshness for many days.
-If you purchase a singe or multi-pack of romaine lettuce, break off the core at the bottom of each head, wash the leaves, and put them into a white cotton pillowcase and into the crisper. Again, damp is good.
-To extend the life of salad greens in plastic clamshell containers, add a dry paper towel to the greens to absorb the moisture, which collects over time inside the container. Put the towel at the top because that's where the condensation tends to form, but oftentimes the greens begin to go soggy toward the bottom, so add a fresh one there also.
-Recycle large plastic clamshell containers within your kitchen. They are perfect for storing prepackaged salad greens. The greens will last days longer in hard containers like this or in any glass or hard plastic container than they will in plastic bags.

For meals:
-Prepare crisp salads with simple dressings such as lemon juice and olive oil, or use large leaves to wrap up healthful fillings instead of tortillas or use as "buns" for a hamburger.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Acidic Baths

Acidic Baths

*Acidic baths help rinse away soap residues and reinstates natural acid balance.

Add any of the following ingredients to your bath for luxury and pampering:
-Raspberry vinegar
-Apple cider vinegar

Monday, May 24, 2010


Note to self: Do NOT place recipe card on a warm burner.

Fresh Broccoli Salad

1 lb. fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Place broccoli, onion, cheese and bacon in bowl; set aside. In a small bowl combine sugar, mayonnaise and vinegar; mix until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Just before serving, pour dressing over salad and toss.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, May 21, 2010

Brown Bag It

Everywhere/everyone has re-usable bags now. Some places you actually get a discount on your purchases if you use them. I've never bought any. My sister has and she says they are nice, especially if you go to a store that has cheap plastic bags (ahem! W-M). She says they hold alot of groceries too.

So Daddy brought home one of these bags the other day, kindly donated by UPS. Thus the "brown bag." Since I only have one and since I can't visit the "brown" store, I came up with another way to use it. I designated it my 'errands' bag. If I have an item to return, I toss it in there. If I have something to send, I toss it in there. Then when the day comes that I do errands, I just grab the bag and I'll have everything I need.

Right now my bag holds 2 items to return and their receipts, 2 boxes that I need to mail, and 2 library books to return. How smart am I? I'll try not to break my arm patting my back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pick Strawberries Day

Strawberries are one of the first fruits of the season - it's Spring! - and are rich in Vitamin B and C and contain potassium, iron and fiber. To find a place locally to go and pick your own strawberries, go to

Strawberry Facts:

1 dry pint = 2 cups sliced

Strawberries contain 85-90 percent water.

Aroma, rather than color or size, is the best indication of flavor.

To bring out the full flavor of strawberries, place hulled and sliced berries in a bowl and sprinkle with granulated white sugar. Let the berries and sugar macerate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. *These are great on top of ice cream, angel food cake, or straight out of the bowl.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Substitute It!

Don't have it on hand? Here are some substitutes to keep in mind before you panic and head to the grocery store.

Brown Sugar: For 1 cup brown sugar use 1 cup white granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons of molasses or dark syrup.

Fresh Mushrooms: For 1 pound fresh mushrooms use 1 six-ounce can of mushrooms.

Beef or Chicken Broth: For 1 cup of broth use 1 cup of water and 1 bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon bouillon granules.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Sweet and Salty Body Scrub

Sweet and Salty Body Scrub

1 cup kosher slat or plain table salt
1 cup white table salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup your favorite body soap
Optional: 1 package dried seaweed (available at your local health food store)

Mix all ingredients. Standing in tub/shower, take palmfuls of scrub and GENTLY rub/buff over arms, legs, elbows, knees and feet. DO NOT USE ANYWHERE YOUR BATHING SUIT COVERS! After buffing, rinse with tepid shower, moisturize, towel off.

Seaweed is said to have properties to help alleviate cellulite.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's National Bike Week!

The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week 2010 from May 17-21 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21. For those of us who will not be biking to work, get outside and take a spin around the block! (Don't forget those cards in your tire spokes! - Do you all remember that?)

Here is a statistic that surprised me: Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike injuries. Wow! That's a scary number! Here are a few tips to help you maintain bike safety.

1. Always wear a bike helmet, even if you are going for a short ride.

2. Ride a bike that is the right size for you.

-When you are on your bicycle, stand straddling the top bar of your bike so that both feet are flat on the ground.

-There should be 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 centimeters) of space between you and the top bar.

3. Maintain your bike.

-Make sure your seat, handlebars, and wheels fit tightly.

-Check and oil your chain regularly.

-Check your brakes to be sure they work well and aren't sticking.

-Check your tires to make sure they have enough air and the right amount of tire pressure.

If you are interested to find out how far you have biked, go to to plot your route. Happy trails to you!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Five Facts Friday

1. Clean the wall behind your oven and spray generously with furniture polish. Buff well. The next time the grease will wipe easily away.

2. Rinse squash, pumpkin or melon seeds thoroughly and dry. Use them in the bird feeder.

3. When you send a get-well card to someone in the hospital, put his or her home address as the return address. If the patient goes home before the card arrives, the card won't be returned to you.

4. A border of basil planted near tomatoes keeps away worms and flies. Grasshoppers won't eat the tomatoes, they will munch on the basil.

5. Keep strawberries firm by storing in a colander in the refrigerator. This allows cold air to circulate.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

National Salad Month

This salad is one of Chris and I's favorite. The cilantro gives it such a fresh taste that is wonderful in the summer. PS: It is from my Weight Watchers cookbook and is only 1 point per serving. Wahoo!

Cilantro Caesar Salad

4 cups torn romaine lettuce
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fat-free Caesar dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cilantro and scallions. Add the dressing and lemon juice; toss to coat. Serve, sprinkled with the cheese.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Be Careful How You Bulk Up

Buying in bulk can be a great way to save $. However there are some things you should consider before "bulking up".

1. Brown Rice. Brown rice may be better for you to eat than white rice but it has a much shorter shelf life because it contains more oil. Tip: Store it in a refrigerator if you plan to keep it for long periods of time.

2. Candy. Bulk buying can easily turn into bulk eating so be careful. Consider this: "If I go to my local store and buy 2 candy bars for $1 a piece, I spend $2 and they will last a week. I buy a box of 24 candy bars for $12, they still will be gone in a week. Even though the unit price is less, I end up spending more." Not to mention eating more.

3. Paper Towels. Buying paper towels in bulk is a great idea - they are not perishable and cost less in bulk. So...? What's the big deal? Consider how much space you have in your home before buying large quantities of paper towels. They may be cheaper but do you really want them as end tables in the living room?

4. Toilet Paper. Yes, toilet paper is a necessity. According to one of my friends, they can be substituted for paper towels. Ew! Yuck! Again, toilet paper is non-perishable and cheaper in bulk but before you start cha-cha-chaing, consider space.

5. Nuts. Unless you are a squirrel... Nuts usually expire within one to two months due to their high fat content. If you do buy them in bulk remember that roasted nuts last longer than raw ones and shelled nuts last the longest. Light, heat and moisture affect the quality and have the tendency to absorb smells so store them in the fridge or the freezer (Unless your fridge and freezer also smell. In that case you may want to consider moving outside to live with the squirrels.)

6. Condiments. Unless you are throwing the barbeque of the century, avoid buying condiments in bulk. Condiments only last 6 months to a year and it takes much longer to go through that huge jar mayo, ketchup or mustard than you think.

7. Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements. If you don't mind drinking the same flavor protein shake for the rest of the year, they go ahead and buy that big bottle. Variety is the spice of life - remember that 3 months into the same old vanilla flavor. As for vitamins, make sure your body tolerates them before making a huge investment into them. Try out a smaller bottle for awhile and then take the plunge into those gummy vitamins.

8. Diapers. Believe me, they go fast! But consider where your child is in their growth before purchasing that 465 case of diapers. You may get to diaper #222 and your child has a growth spurt overnight leaving you with 243 size 2 diapers.

9. Bleach. Bleach has a shelf life of 6 months and according to The Scripps Research Institute "each year you keep the bleach around, it loses 20% of its effectiveness."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Strawberry Masque

Strawberry Masque

6 strawberries, cleaned
1 egg white
2 tablespoons witch hazel

Mix all ingredients. Tap on skin drumming fingertips over skin to stimulate blood circulation. Allow 15-20 minutes on skin. Rinse with warm water, finish with splashing cold water on face to close pores.

*For oily skin only!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Often when I ask my Chris what he would like for dinner, he will respond with "chicken packets." They are on his list of favorites.

Chicken Packets

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
8 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Dash of salt and pepper
8 count can of crescent rolls
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

Mix chicken, cream cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place 1 tablespoon chicken mixture in a crescent roll (I use 2 rolls to make larger packets). Fold over and pinch edges together to make a packet. Dip each packet in melted butter and roll in Italian breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Five Facts Friday

1. Prevent silverware from falling through the utensil basket in the dishwasher, by placing a mesh scrubber at the bottom of the basket.

2. An average ice-cream scoop holds 1/2 cup.

3. To easily remove burnt food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on the stove top.

4. Don't throw away your leftover coffee in the morning. Pour it around your plants to promote blooming and/or growth.

5. It's easy to read a rain gauge if you put a few drops of food coloring in the tube. Even if the colored water dries up, there is enough residue to help read the next rainfall.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


A few weeks ago I actually 'for real' looked in my dishwasher. It was a browny color. I saw a coupon for a product that was supposed to clean the inside of your dishwasher. So I thought I'd give it a try. The back of the product said that it might take 2 "applications" before results were evident. It took 2 on mine.

Before meet After (below)

Would I recommend this? Probably. Would I give it 2 thumbs up? Probably not. I'm not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but it didn't do a "consistent" job throughout my dishwasher. It did help though.

I also use the Finish Dishwashing gel packs. I really like how easy they are to use but sometimes they don't dissolve completely. But since I have another un-opened box under the sink, I will be using them at least until they are all gone. Maybe next time I'll try the Finish Dishwashing tablets.

Check their website for coupons.