Saturday, December 17, 2011


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Dressed Up" Stuffing

I bought a box of stuffing to go with our turkey dinner this year...I decided to add in some extras to make it special.  I removed the neck & giblets packet from my turkey and placed in a sauce pan with 2 cups of chicken stock.  Simmered it for 20 minutes, discarded the neck, and chopped up the giblets & liver, add back into saucepan of broth.  I sauteed some diced celery & onions with butter, then added it to the saucepan too.  You could add cremini mushrooms too for a really special treat!  Add in the box of stuffing and a bit of sage.  If it gets dry just add some more stock.  If it's too wet, keep it on the heat until it's to your liking!  This was our best stuffing yet!

My Sister's Famous Sweet Potato Casserole

5-6 sweet potatoes
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
dash cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup flour
2/3 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat eggs, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, & cinnamon in bowl.  Boil potatoes until fork tender, let cool enough to handle, peel and then place in bowl with egg mixture.  Mix well.  Place in casserole dish and bake 20-30 minutes.  Mix topping and sprinkle over casserole and bake additional 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Mix together:
2/3 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
1 cup cream cheese-softened
1/3 cup mayo
2 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry basil

Then add in:
2 cups shredded parm cheese
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1 can artichoke hearts, drained & thawed

Spread into greased dish, bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 mins.  Sometimes I add shredded colby/jack or cheddar a few minutes before removing to oven to add another yummy layer of gooey flavor!

Brine Recipe for Turkey

This makes the juiciest turkey ever!!

2 gallons of cold water or 1 1/2 gallons plus ice. 
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs each of Rosemary, Thyme,  and Sage

Put water/ice mixture into a cooler that will fit your turkey,  IGLOO coolers work great or we use our turkey frying pot.  Mix salt, sugar, and herbs in bowl with some water to dissolve.  Then add to water.  Place turkey in brine for 12-24 hours before roasting. 

When ready to cook, drain turkey, pat dry, cook as you normally would.  This seemed like a pain the first time, but the results were soooo yummy that it is worth it!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Best chip I've ever had!!!

Last night I roasted some was the best crunchy snack I have ever had!!!  Now, I do love most veggies when they are roasted, but this was simply delicious!  If you crave salty, crunchy snacks...this is for you!  I bought almost a pound of kale for 89cents!  So inexpensive and SOOOO nutrient rich. 


olive oil
sea salt

Cut away rough stalks from kale.  Evenly spread the curly leaves onto a large cookie sheet, in a single layer (do not crowd pan or they will steam) and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt or whatever seasonings you like.  Salt lightly, as you can always add more at the end.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, keep checking for desired doneness, I cooked mine longer because I like extra crispy, almost burned!  I heard that you can keep them in an airtight container for a week or longer and they stay crunchy,  I personally wouldn't know because mine NEVER last that long!! Sometimes they don't even make them into a bowl...I munch them right off the baking sheet!

Perfect Dinner for Halloween Night

Both kids love to make jack-0-cheese pizzas. We make them with whole wheat tortillas, i let them paint on the pizza sauce, sprinkle cheese, and then cut out pepperoni eyes & nose...usually we use black olives too!
We make mexican ones the same way but replace the pizza sauce with refried beans, then add the cheese, and black beans & olives.

Every year before, I've made a pot of potato soup...just add some green food coloring to make it creepy...this year the kids voted for the pizza because we made them on pumpkin carving night and they loved them so much!


The Not-So-Secret Confessions of a First Time Mom

Triple Duty

Monday, October 24, 2011

French Onion Soup

I made French Onion Soup from scratch simple, cheap, and oh so yummy!

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large pot.  Thinly slice 4-6 white or yellow onions and drop in pot with butter.  Add salt & pepper to taste, several chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp of thyme, and saute until onions are translucent.  Add 3 heaping spoonfuls of flour and saute a few more minutes.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite red wine (depends on how much you like the taste of red wine), then add 2 quarts of beef broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer until ready to eat. 

Let's not forget the most important part....the cheesy floater!!!  Slice your favorite bread thickly (I used whole grain French bread that was on the clearance rack), drizzle with olive oil, top with Swiss cheese (i used store brand sliced cheese) and broil until nice & bubbly.  Place on the top of your hot bowl of soup to meld together, you can add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to add depth of flavor.  Serve with red wine, after all you need to finish that bottle!!


I love to decorate for fall and especially Halloween...most of these items that I decorate with were my Mom's.  My decor isn't very scary, just cute and harvesty, if that's even a!

My Mom used to display this antique Casper, I
found a little one to go with it!  I also love to use
candy corn to fill my vase & add corn stalk

I am showing off the kid's Halloween craft of creating
Jar Jack-0-Lanterns

These were my Mom's too...ghost chair back and a centerpiece bowl!

Even dog treats are in a pumpkin bowl with corn stalks

My scary garage-sale find!!  They are candle holders

A wooden ghost sits outside our window

Candle holders hold pumpkins or funky squash

Our pumpkins
Hand made art projects are perfect for my window!

These candle holders are perfect for EVERY occasion...
I just change up the goodies inside!

My white naked tree...i love it!

spray painted pumpkins decorated with jewels
lifted up with candle holders

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

This was the first time we had ever roasted pumpkin seeds...I thought I didn't like them, so we always threw them away, turns out....they're YUMMY!!!!

Remove your seeds, rinse them and remove what stringy flesh you can, boil them in salted water for 15 minutes, then drain and lay out on cookie sheet in single layer.  I let them sit out overnight.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees, place seeds in bowl with 3 Tbs. olive oil or melted butter, mix well to cover them all.  Add your favorite seasonings like, salt alone, or I added garlic powder, cayenne, sea salt, and Cajun to mine!  (you could add brown sugar and cinnamon to create a sweet snack)  Roast for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Cook them until they are the desired crispiness!   I like mine crunchy and almost burnt...but however you do it is fine!!!  They are nutty, salty, and absolutely worth "not wasting" !!!

Even he liked them!!! yay!

Fall Classroom party ideas

For my son's 2nd grade fall party we played "Pin the leaf on the Tree"  It started as their "craft" project...we let them decorate some pre-cut leaves with stickers and stick-on craft jewels.  They wrote their name on the back, so that when we were done playing the game, they could keep their specially decorated leaf!  We drew a bare tree on poster board, taped it to the wall, tied a handkerchief around their eyes, spun them around as we made the class sing songs, let them pin their leaf on the tree!  They loved it AND so did the teacher...she is going to use it as Fall Decor before letting them have their leaf back!!
  We served black & orange nacho chips (from Walmart) and individual cheese dips as their party snack!  We also set up a "creation station" for their drinks...we bought a drink color kit from Micheal's Craft Store, and brought in clear cups, and served 7 UP...they got to add the green "slime", the red "blood", or the blue "poison" to their potion!!  They loved it and some added them all to make a special "black" deadly drink!  lol!

We also played "Roll the Squash"  the kids did a relay race rolling a squash to each other.  Sometimes we play "Pumpkin Bowling"  where you set up 3 squash as the pins and let them roll a small round pumpkin to go bowling!!

We put together little goodie bags to give away at the very end, that way they put it in their backpacks instead of digging it out and losing parts.  Sometimes we let them decorate their bags as the craft, then relay race to collect all the goodies to put in it!!  That's fun too! 

We cannot have a Halloween party, we have Fall parties, but if we could, I would give the kids orange paper lunch sacks and let them cut out a Jack-0-lantern face to take home... on Halloween night, they can put a small candle or light inside to light the way of the trick-or-treaters!  We do this as a craft project at home!

I would love to hear your party ideas!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jar Jack-O-Lanterns

These Jar Jack-O-Lanterns were super easy to make!

Here's what you need:
Any clear plastic or glass containe (we even used peanut butter container, a glass salsa jar, etc)
Painters Tape
Orange acrylic paint
Some of those batter-operated tea lights (three in a pack for $1 @ Dollar Tree)

Cut out shapes for eyes, nose, and mouth using the painter's tape, stick it on the clear container, paint it orange, remove the tape, insert your little light, and let it twinkle away!!  I did end up taping yellow tissue paper inside behind the face to give a yellow appearance...loved them!  Even my 3 year old did this project with ease :)


Friday, September 30, 2011

Designate Bags for Activities

My son is in several extra curricular activities, so keeping track of all his stuff is not an easy task.

I have a separate bag for each has a sporty backpack with his cleats, shin guards, and jersey.  His cub scouts bag is smaller and just holds a binder that carries his book and all the information he needs. He has an organizer/bible zipper bag that has everything he needs for Sunday school.  His hip hop/dance backpack has his clothes and shoes inside.

I have a coat closet by the front door that I keep the bags in...I hang them on hangers so they are packed and ready to go!!  Same goes for my little girl...her bags are packed too!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Juicing Experience

I have been wanting a juicer ever since reading Matt Terry's blog.  I started researching friend, April got one and showed me hers..the grapefruit juice was sooo yummy!  I just had to have one!  We bought a Jack La Lanne Juicer and it worked great...the kids loved the juice and immediately started requesting favorites!  That made me sooo happy :)

So far, they love apple juice, orange juice, strawberry-pear, and really anything with fruit in it...we mix alot of flavors together, so yummy!

We even poured the strawberry juice in Popsicle trays!
We only had our juicer for 4 days...we kept wishing we weren't throwing out ALL THAT PULP!!!  I know there are recipes to use it, but since we mix fruits, it wasn't usable.  I couldn't stand it...a whole fruit goes in, a quarter cup of juice comes out and the rest goes down the disposal...I started researching again and found Montel Williams blender/juicer.  It emulsifies the entire fruit and vegetable using everything!  I wanted it, but with a $200+ price tag, I just couldn't do it.  I found the perfect machine for us...It is the...

This machine has the same 1100 watt motor as the Health master. It pulverizes whole fruits and vegetables, ice, and anything you want to within moments!  It came with a regular container and a huge 72oz pitcher/bowl.  You can mix bread dough (can't wait to mix up some whole wheat pizza crust!), use it as a mixer for baking and whipping, juicing, blender for smoothies and frozen drinks, soups, chopping/food processing (yay for my salsa!) and even real ice cream within 2 minutes!!  I have used this since Monday and absolutely LOVE it!!  The kids do too! 

The strawberry ice cream is all gone!! 

I started to shred carrots and bell peppers for my rice, then remembered
my new machine, 4 seconds later I had them all chopped perfectly!

Super Healthy berry smoothies for dessert!
This appliance will replace several of my others and with a price tag of only $25 more than my will definitely save me MONEY by using ALL my fruits and veggies!  Check this system out if you are thinking about juicing!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reuse Birthday Cards

Make all those adorable Birthday Cards into special bookmarks. FamilyFun Magazine  had a great way to repurpose them. Cut our a long strip of the card, leave the fold so that you can apply self-adhesive magnetic tape to fold it over and save the exact place you are!  What a great way to preserve those momentos!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Family Mealtime Tips

Get the whole family involved!! 

Let them take turns choosing the meal, even if a child chooses an "unhealthy" option, make it healthy by adding veggies and whole grains...let's face it, many kids are gonna pick PIZZA as their fave...make it with whole wheat flour and then let them choose toppings (they have to pick one veggie). 

Let them help you grocery shop and pick out the fruits and veggies to use for the meal.  After all, the produce isle is the most colorful area of the store! 

Everyone can help somehow...setting table, measuring ingredients, reading directions, pouring the drinks...just let them know how important their job is! 

Create THEME nights, like Dinner & a Movie night, or Outdoor Dinner on the Deck, or Taco Night

Talking to each other over dinner is the best thing a family can do together.  We never have trouble finding stuff to talk about, but every once in a while I'll pull out the "Dinner TALK Cards".  They are just note cards with questions or interesting facts on them.  Some of the questions are super simple like, "What would be your dream job?", "If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?", or "Where would you go for a vacation?"  Some of the facts are about Space, Science, Animals, and History.  We pass it around and talk about them!

We made Mexican pizzas

pump out the soap & save

My son is in second grade and takes a shower all on his own each morning.  I wonder how much shampoo or bodywash he make sure he uses the correct amount, I switched his shampoo/bodywash to pump-style bottles.  He knows now that he gets ONE pump of each and that it IS enough! 

Suave makes one with a pump for kids OR you can just reuse one of your empty soap dispensers, I used a dish soap pump bottle, filled it with shampoo, and then let him decorate it! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

USDA's MyPLATE is super helpful

The  USDA'S new MyPlate  makes it easier for us parents to create a more balanced meal for our kiddos! 
Visit their website for links on : Healthy eating on a Budget, getting your own personalized diet plan, weight loss options, ways to prepare fruits and vegetables, and countless other informative pages to access.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Packing a Healthy Lunch

Trying to make sure to pack healthy, nutritious food for my son's lunch, but let's be honest...when I look up healthy school lunchbox choices online, I get all these veggie based sammies & gourmet looking cuisines.  My kid just wants super simple foods that are easy to eat.  So far, this is what I send him.

I send him with one Main food item, a fruit, a veggie, a whole grain (if the main doesn't include one), a yogurt and a small treat.  Water to drink.

Turkey (sliced rotisserie or Healthy Ones), cheese on whole wheat
Organic peanut butter & honey on whole wheat (sometimes fruit spread)
Ham and Cheese on wheat
Baked beans with Beef franks....this is his fave, but higher in sugar than I like.
I also do  inside out turkey/ham roll ups...roll meat around a cheese stick, no bread
Or roll ups with whole wheat tortilla, meat, and shredded cheese

Apples (sometimes w/peanut butter for dipping)
baby carrots (sometimes with yogurt ranch dip)
celery w/peanut butter
natural applesauce ( sometimes i add cinnamon)
Mandarin orange slices
Wheat pretzel twists
yogurt (plain w/honey or Dannon smoothie)

Fiber One 90 calorie brownie
graham cracker with peanut butter
       "                with strawberry cream cheese
       "                with nutella chocolate spread
almonds to dip in a tablespoon of nutella
granola bar

Monday, September 19, 2011

Selling stuff on Craigslist!

Today, I listed some stuff to sell on Craigslist.  I usually try to sell stuff on Craigslist before anywhere else.  I get to keep ALL of the money from the sale and they come and pick it up, so I don't even have to haul it anywhere! 

We had a yard sale last Friday and anything that didn't sell, I either sacked up to be donated or listed on craigslist.  I just sold a birdcage for $75, they just picked it up!  I sold a ride on battery operated toy for $40...I couldn't even sell it for $20 at the yard sale!  YAY!!  I listed about 10 other things, I'll give it a few days before I load the stuff up and take it to my local consignment shop.  I'll only get 50% of the selling price, but that's better than nothing!

Take a look around your house, if something is just sitting there, not being used...LIST IT!!!  It may be the exact thing that someone else is looking for!  It's FREE so there's nothing to lose!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cheap Eats

Super Simple Chicken Noodle Soup

Made this soup because the weather is cool and rainy, plus my little girl has a cold...what better dinner to make than...  Chicken Noodle Soup

All you need is: Bone-In Chicken
                        Egg Noodles
                        Salt & Pepper

I use whatever bone-in chicken I have on hand for this soup, this time I used two leg quarters, but a whole chicken is great too! (I like to cook extra and save for an easy meal the next day!)

I placed my frozen chicken in a soup pan, covered with water, let it get to a rapid boil, cover and then turn down to just a bubble and cook until done. 

Remove chicken and let it cool so you can debone it.  Meanwhile, chop up some peeled carrots and celery (leafy part too, it adds tons of flavor, you can even leave it in big pieces and remove it later if ya want).  Add the carrots, then 5 minutes later add the celery and a bag of egg noodles, boil 7-10 minutes, put chicken back in and you are ready to serve.  Salt and pepper to taste! Yummy!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

FREE HGTV fall home decor book

Free HGTV fall home idea book with the purchase of any 2 SC Johnson home cleaning products.  Visit The RightAtHome website to see details and sign up for great organizational ideas, decorating, coupons, and family tips!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The best banana pudding EVER!!!

WARNING:  This is NOT a money-saving recipe, but since we all splurge for a special occasion....THIS is what you should impress with!!  It is the most scrumptious banana pudding I've ever had.  My friend, Karen kept raving about this pudding.     It's a Paula Deen recipe called,    "Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding"  .  I'm not a huge banana pudding fan, so I didn't plan on making it, but then I hurt my neck and almost magically (with the help of the banana pudding pusher) a sampling of this wonderful dessert ended up on  my doorstep...I could exagerate and tell you that it immediately healed my twisted neck, but it didn't...however, every second that I was enjoying this mind couldn't possible think about pain...just yummy, smooth, rich, delicious banana pudding!!!  So here goes:   
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced (I only had 4 small ones, worked fine)
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding (buy two, save remained for next time)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

I divided mine into 2 smaller bowls, serve one and
keep one for yourself or to send home with
your guests!!!!!!
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Beautiful masterpiece!!

It has 1822 FIVE star reviews...guess we aren't the only fans!!  It might not be good for you, but you only need a small serving to satisfy that sweet tooth!  Thank you to Paula AND KAREN (the pudding pusher) lol!