Monday, December 29, 2008

Recipes for Fully Cooked Ham

Did you enjoy ham for the holidays? If so, you may have a lot of leftover ham that you are looking to use more creatively. Besides ham and beans or ham sandwiches, there are so many wonderful things you can do with leftover fully cooked ham. Here are a couple of examples:

Easy Ham and Cheese Quiche Recipe

Makes 8 servings.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon chilled solid vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups (16 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup chopped cooked ham
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg

To prepare pastry, in a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut shortening into flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.

Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork, until a dough forms. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch quiche or pie pan. Trim edges.

To prepare filling, in a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of cheese over crust. Top with onion, then ham. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, cream, salt, cayenne and nutmeg. Pour egg mixture over ham and cheese.

Bake quiche until golden and custard is set, 35 to 45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Ham Casserole Recipe

Makes 4 servings

1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped cooked ham
4 tablespoons margarine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (7 ounce) package macaroni, cooked and drained
1 cup bread crumbs

Brown onions in margarine. Add cooked ham, soup and milk. Bring to boil. Add cheese and macaroni. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pressed for Time? Use Your Crockpot

During the busy holiday season it is tempting to fall into the habit of ordering pizza, or stopping at the fast food restaurant rather than taking the time to make a wholesome meal. Not only will you spend more, you won't be offering your family the best nutrition with those meals.

One of the best low-cost, easy, and fastest ways to get a meal on the table is to use your crockpot. You can throw all the ingredients in the night before (of course refridgerate) then start it the next morning before you go to work or out to do holiday errands. Your dinner will be waiting for you.

Slow cookers or crock pots are a great way to use more inexpensive cuts of meat, so you can create low-cost, but tasty meals. And it is so easy.

Here's one of our favorite crockpot meals:

Crockpot Goulash

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds round steaks, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomatoes
1 cup sour cream

Put steak cubes, onion, garlic in crockpot. Stir in flour and mix to coat steak cubes. Add all remaining ingredients except sour cream. Stir well. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally. Add sour cream 30 minutes before serving, and stir in thoroughly.

Per Serving: 304 Cal (42% from Fat, 49% from Protein, 9% from Carb); 36 g Protein; 14 g Tot Fat; 7 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 59 mg Calcium; 4 mg Iron; 493 mg Sodium; 103 mg Cholesterol

Serve with noodles and a salad and you are set! I hope your family will love this recipe as much as my family does.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rum Balls Recipe

Rum balls are easy to make and delicious. The confection is a sort of truffle, and makes a great dessert along side fruits and other items. They are welcome holiday gifts, as well.

Make the rum balls a few days in advance to allow the flavor to develop. Pack them in cheerful boxes or tins to give as gifts, or in an airtight container to keep them fresh. Everyone will love them.

Ultimate Rum Balls

2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup rum
Confectioners' sugar

Combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, cocoa, corn syrup and the 1 cup confectioners' sugar; mix well. Add nuts and rum and mix again. Shape into balls and roll in confectioners sugar. Refrigerate 2 to 3 days to develop the flavors.

If you don't like rum, you may substitute 1/2 cup orange juice and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Cooking Ahead for a Party

Are you hosting a holiday party this year? It makes a lot of sense to cook as much as you can ahead of the party, then all you have to do is re-heat the items and enjoy the party with everyone else.

I don't like to be in the kitchen trying to get the food out when I have guests. With careful planning, you can cook one or two days in advance of your party, and have most of the major work done. If you do want to cook ahead, casseroles such as lasagne are a good choice. Prepare them in a pan that can double as your serving dish. You can also make your desserts ahead to save time as well. Just follow the instructions for storage and you'll be fine.

While I don't recommend making things like salad too far in advance, you can prepare the lettuce and other ingredients and have them ready to go. Make your salad dressing a couple of days before and store in the fridge in a jar. By doing this, you can make and dress a salad in a snap.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anything but Turkey Tonight!

I made the best turkey for Thanksgiving. It was delicious and juicy, and everyone loved it. However, since it was quite a large bird we had lots of left overs, even with everyone taking some home! We have been eating turkey leftovers for several days now and I'm just over it.

I was going to make a nice Mexican beef burrito dinner, but my local supermarket didn't have all the ingredients I needed in stock, so I decided to make shrimp fried rice instead.

Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe

8 ounces shrimp (peeled, deveined and no tails)
2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
4 green onions (sliced)
3 eggs (beaten)
4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil till hot, add garlic and fry till brown, take out and discard. Add shrimp to oil and stir fry until cooked through (2 to 3 minutes). Remove shrimp and set aside.

Add other tablespoon of oil to wok and scramble eggs set aside. Add rice to wok and stir fry until hot and dry, add soy sauce and stir until rice is even brown in color. Add shrimp and eggs and stir fry 2 minutes. Add green onions and stir fry another 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are good and hot.

Serve immediately.


I like to stir fry in any veggies I have on hand. Tonight I'll add to the above some sliced mushrooms, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, and green and red bell peppers. It will be both colorful and nutritious!

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Food Gift Baskets for the Holidays

Here's a great gift for that neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member that has everything - make them an elegant gift basket filled with purchased and homemade goodies. You can find baskets and the cellophane wrap for the baskets at craft stores like Michaels and Franks. Gift baskets are a wonderful treat for the recipient, and you don't have to break the bank if you are on a tight budget.

It's usually a good idea to stick with a theme for your gift basket. For example, fresh fruits and some cookies and gourmet tea bags. Now you can make your own cookies, or buy a nice box of cookies or small cakes. Another nice theme is cheese, wine, fruit and crackers. This one must be prepared and delivered right away, or refrigerated until you can give it to your gift recipient, since you should keep the cheese chilled.

One of my favorite baskets to make for friends combines pasta, pasta sauce, bread sticks, and a homemade cake or cookies. Jar mixes are also popular gift items. Have you seen them? You layer ingredients in a jar, and then seal it. Attach the instructions and it can be enjoyed at a later date.

Here's a good jar mix recipe, and you can find many more jar mix recipes at

Sun-Dried Tomato and Penne Soup Mix in a Jar

2 cups penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (or other dried mushrooms)
1/4 cup onion flakes
1/4 cup parsley flakes
Bouquet Garni

Layer mix ingredients into a quart home canning jar in the order given. Adjust cap. Prepare Bouquet Garni.

Attach Bouquet Garni and recipe card to neck of jar.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Penne Soup
Contents of jar
Bouquet Garni
8 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced Roma tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can cannelloni beans
1/4 cup Madeira or other sweet white wine, optional
Salt and pepper

Combine soup mix, Bouquet Garni, vegetable broth and tomatoes in a 6- to 8-quart saucepot. Simmer, covered, until pasta and vegetables are tender. Stir in cannelloni beans and wine, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue simmering for 15 minutes. Remove Bouquet Garni.

NOTE: If there is not enough liquid in soup, add additional vegetable broth or water.

Bouquet Garni
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced basil
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Combine herbs in a bowl and gently stir to blend. Place herb mixture in the center of a 5 x 5-inch square of cheesecloth. Bring corners together to form a bag and secure with a piece of white cotton string, or use a muslin spice bag. Tie Bouquet Garni to jar of Sun-Dried Tomato and Penne Soup Mix.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coca-Cola Cake Recipe and Other Thanksgiving Desserts

I don't know what it is, but I've had several requests today for my old-fashioned coca-cola cake recipe. It's one of those holiday favorites that is extremely simple to make and tasty. Another one, that's also great for a crowd, is the Texas sheet cake. It's a tried and true favorite that never disappoints, and it's also fast and easy to prepare.

Both of these cake recipes can be made a day ahead, so they are good time savers too. And they will please those Thanksgiving guests who really don't like pie!

Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake

1 cup Coca-Cola
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Mix together Coca-Cola, cocoa and butter. Pour Coca-Cola mixture over dry ingredients, stirring to blend. Add buttermilk and eggs. Blend well. Add marshmallows. (This batter is thin and marshmallows will float.) Pour in prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until done. Let cool, then frost.

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoon cocoa
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts

Bring butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola to boiling, then pour over sugar. Add vanilla extract and nuts. Spread over cake while hot.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water

In bowl, mix flour, sour cream, salt, sugar, baking soda and eggs.

In a pan, bring to boil margarine, cocoa and water. Add boiled mixture to dry ingredients, mix well, and pour into a large sheet cake pan, 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches, that has been greased and floured well. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. This batter is very thin.

1 box confectioners' sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
6 tablespoons milk

Mix sugar, vanilla extract and nuts in a pan. Boil margarine, milk and cocoa and add to dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Frost cake while cake is hot, as the frosting is very thick.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Carve Thanksgiving Turkey

For many of us, carving the Thanksgiving turkey is an ordeal. It can be a daunting task if you don't know some simple techniques, and if you aren't a surgeon by trade. Here are some videos that walk you through, step by step the proper way to carve the bird. You'll have the technique down in no time, and everyone will enjoy the turkey so much more!

Stay tuned for more of these holiday diy videos.

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Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe for Thanksgiving

Casseroles tend to be popular Thanksgiving items. They are easy to prepare, and may be made a day or two in advance, and then re-heated to save time on the big day. Among the more popular casseroles for Thanksgiving are the classic green bean casserole, various potato casseroles, and of course you must have a sweet potato casserole!

Here is a wonderful recipe that I know your family will enjoy this year, and in the many years ahead:

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

1 large can sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs

1/4 cup margarine, melted
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Mash potatoes; add salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar, melted margarine and eggs. Put into small greased casserole. Mix topping ingredients well and sprinkle over top of potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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Classic Green Bean Casserole

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without my Aunt's green bean casserole. Of course it is the classic recipe from the back of the French's French Fried Onions can, and we are never disappointed. If you don't have the recipe, here it is -

1 (10 3/4 oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 (9 oz. each) pkgs. frozen cut green beans, thawed*
1 1/3 cups FRENCH'S® Original or Cheddar French Fried Onions

1.MIX soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French Fried Onions.
2.BAKE at 350°F for 30 min. or until hot.
3.STIR. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 min. until onions are golden.

You may substitute 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) cut green beans, drained or 4 cups fresh, cooked cut green beans.

This classic green bean casserole recipe has been enjoyed by my family for more than 40 years, according to my aunt, and we hope that your family will like it too!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

More Boxed Cake Mix Recipes

Boxed cake mixes are a great time saver, and cost effective too. This time of year, you can stock up on boxed cake mixes at the holiday sales. I noticed that my local grocerty is offering buy one get one free on cake mixes, and savings on other baking ingredients. Don't forget to use your coupons for additional savings too!

With the holidays approaching you may want to prepare desserts and other baked goods for your family and house guests. Here are great boxed cake mix recipes that will have them coming back for more:

Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine melted
2 medium tart apples, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream and butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour half into a greased 8-in square baking dish. Top with apples.

Combine the sugar, nuts and cinnamon, sprinkle half over the apples. Top with remaining batter and sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 9 servings.

Rum Cake

Cake ingredients:
1 cup chopped nuts
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan.

Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of the pan.

Combine all cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until completely smooth and thick.

Pour batter over the nuts. Bake for one hour. Cool. Invert onto a platter. Prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick or skewer. Spoon and brush glaze generously over top and sides of cake. Allow glaze to absorb thoroughly before serving.

Glaze ingredients:
1/4 pound butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup rum

Melt butter in sauce pan over low heat. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is all about tradition. The family coming together and having, usually, the same menu year after year - and enjoying it. This year, keep that in mind. You don't have to get fancy or overly creative with this meal, keep it simple so that you can enjoy the time together with your family and friends. This is not the time to try something new - stick with the tried and true recipes of years gone by. Your grandmother's pumpkin pie, and your aunt's green bean casserole, etc.

Here are some more of our favorites, and you'll find lots more recipes at,, and - some of my favorite places to find the best recipes.

Easy Gravy

Pan drippings from the turkey
Turkey or chicken stock or broth


Pour the turkey pan drippings into a 2 cup measuring cup and skim the fat off. Put about 1/4 cup of the fat into a saucepan and stir in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Cook briefly, do not let it burn. Add enough turkey or chicken broth to the drippings to make 2 cups of liquid. Pour the 2 cups of liquid into the flour/fat mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbling. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of gravy.

Whole Cranberry Sauce

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 12-ounce package Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, rinsed and drained


Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 2 1/4 cups.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Thanksgiving Recipes

I'm really starting to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving, and I can hardly wait to make the dinner next week. We are having 8 guests, each from a different part of the world! It should be an amazing dinner party! I'm taking a lot of time to plan the Thanksgiving dinner menu, because I want it to be very traditional. Here are a few of the recipes that I'm considering including in addition to the pumpkin pies and probably a sour cream apple pie:

Wild Rice Stuffing Recipe

2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (4 ounce) package wild rice (2/3 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium-size carrots, sliced
2 medium-size celery stalks, sliced
1 medium-size onion, chopped
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups regular long-grain rice
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In 4-quart saucepan over high heat, heat chicken broth, wild rice, salt, thyme, and 1 1/2 cups water to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a nonstick 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove carrot mixture to bowl.

In same skillet in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, cook mushrooms until golden brown and all liquid evaporates.

Stir long-grain rice, carrot mixture, and mushrooms into wild rice; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Stir in chopped parsley. Use to stuff a 12- to 16-pound turkey. Or, spoon into serving bowl; keep warm.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 large sweet potatoes
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick butter), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crunch Topping
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Boil potatoes until tender. Remove skins when cooled. Put into a large bowl and whip them until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased casserole and top with the Crunch Topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes

2 to 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh or freeze-dried minced chives
2 to 4 tablespoons sour cream, optional
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, warmed
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel potatoes; cut into chunks and put in a saucepan. Rinse and drain. Cover potatoes with water and boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan with garlic and chives. Cook over low heat for about 1 minute. Drain and mash the potatoes; beat in sour cream, if using, and then add the butter mixture and milk until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serves 6.

Look for more Thanksgiving recipes tomorrow!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wine Picks for Thanksgiving Dinner

It's really not that difficult to choose a good wine pairing for the Thanksgiving dinner, since so many types of wine are great with turkey and the trimmings. Here are a few of my all time favorite wines that are truly wonderful pairings for Thanksgiving feasts!

Red Wines
  • Beaujolais Nouveau - this is the first wine of the harvest in the Beaujolais region in France, it comes to market each year on the 17th of November - just in time for Thanksgiving.
  • Pinot Noir - aromatic, light bodied and soft textured. A perfect counterpoint to the many flavors of the Thanksgiving table.
  • Zinfandel - hearty, full bodied and flavorful. Especially good with spicy foods.

White Wines

  • Sauvignon Blanc - I especially love those from New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc has a bright fruit acidity and a herbaceous character that complements the many spices in the stuffing and side dishes.
  • Riesling - From the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is a wine that will please even the most picky. The light floral aroma and its soft, fresh fruit flavors pair nicely with the range of seasonings the traditional Thanksgiving dinner offers. The hint of sweetness offered by most Rieslings gives this wine great appeal for many palates.

Rose Wines

  • Grenache -light, crisp, and flavorful, but won't overpower the meal. From California.
  • White Zinfandel -Slightly sweeter, light and fruity. Refreshing.

Sparkling Wines

A sparkling wine or champagne will please nearly anyone. The diverse flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner are completmented by a sparkling wine that is slightly sweet.

If you are on a tight budget, but want to serve wine at your Thanksgiving meal, try one of the boxed wines. They are low-priced, and some are exceptionally good quality for the price.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Cooking Thanksgiving Turkey

For those of you who are a bit intimidated by cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, here are some how-to videos to help you make your best turkey ever!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Recipes

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without a pumpkin pie. Pumpkin is a versatile and healthy ingredient that I love to use this time of year for pies, quick pumpkin breads, puddings and even in stews and soups for a savory option.

I suggest using canned pumpkin where possible as it is much less messy, and easier to use than fresh; however, if you want fresh - go right ahead!

Here are a couple of our favorite pumpkin pie recipes, and don't forget the whipped cream:

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie Recipe

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 (16 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust*

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine filling ingredients in order given; pour into pie crust. Bake in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool; garnish, if desired, with whipped topping.

* If using shallow frozen pie crusts, this recipe makes two pies. To bake them, preheat cookie sheet while preheating oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F, then bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until pie tests done.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Recipe

3 eggs, divided
1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 ts ground cinnamon
1/4 ts ground ginger
1/8 ts ground cloves
2/3 cup karo light or dark syrup
2 tb butter, melted
1 ts vanilla
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 prepared deep dish pie crust*

Preheat oven to 350.

*If using a frozen pie crust, do not thaw; preheat a baking sheet in the oven and place the pie on the cookie sheet to bake.

Combine one egg, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Spread in the pie crust.

In medium bowl, beat remaining two eggs, slightly. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 2/3 cup sugar, the butter and vanilla; stir until well blended. Stir in pecans. Carefully spoon over pumpkin mixture.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set around edge. Cool pie completely on wire rack. DELICIOUS!!!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Creamy Corn Casserole Recipe for Thanksgiving

Ok, it's time for the Thanksgiving countdown! With only 16 days to go, we have to start planning the Thanksgiving Day menu, guest list, grocery lists, etc. Now no Thanksgiving meal is complete for me without my grandmother's special creamy corn casserole. It is the perfect side dish, of many, to offset the turkey. And, of course, corn is a traditional dish to serve for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here's my grandmothers recipe. I hope you'll try it and enjoy it too (P.S. it is so simple and easy to make, you'll want to make it all the time!)

Creamy Corn Casserole Recipe

1/2 cup butter, melted (please don't use margarine - it's a holiday)
1 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 (16 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained (or a package of frozen corn kernels thawed)
1 (16 ounce) can cream style corn, undrained
1 (9 ounce) package corn muffin mix
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large bowl, mix together butter, sour cream and egg. Stir in cans of corn and corn muffin mix. Spoon mixture into buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes.

Add cheese and stir well. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until dish is slightly puffed.

Let me know if you liked it!

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Holiday Cookbooks

Looking for a nice gift for someone who enjoys cooking? Or, maybe you'd like to get some new ideas for your own kitchen. Here are some of my favorite cookbooks that are sure to please. Most people who enjoy cooking often collect cookbooks, too. So these and others are always a welcome holiday or pre-holiday gift.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Top Ten Comfort Foods - Recipes

(Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes)

It seems as if the news about the economy is just getting worse everyday, with unemployment numbers skyrocketing - it's simply depressing. No wonder everyone keeps asking me for "comfort food" recipes. Comfort foods appear to be a growing trend for now.

Here are my top ten comfort foods in no special order, with links to their recipes. I hope you will try them and get some enjoyment from these meals. The good news is that most comfort foods are also cost saving recipes, too!

  1. Meat Loaf with mashed potatoes
  2. Classic Macaroni and Cheese
  3. Bread Pudding
  4. Chicken and Dumplings
  5. Spaghetti and Meatballs with Garlic Bread
  6. Chicken and Rice Soup
  7. Chocolate Brownies
  8. Green Bean Casserole
  9. Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes
  10. Creamed Spinich
Of course there are lots of other comfort foods. Much of what we think of as comfort foods depends on from what culture we originate and the cuisine of that part of the world. However, most comfort foods are simple, easy, and great tasting. What is your favorite comfort food? Let me know if you like these.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

First Lady Obama Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Michelle Obama offered this shortbread cookie recipe to as one of her family favorites. We tried it and it is not bad at all. You may enjoy making these cookies for the holidays. Shortbread cookies stay fresh tasting for several days, just wrap them well or keep them in a decorative tin.

I wonder if she'll be serving these to all the dignitaries at the White House?

Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies

1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Amaretto (almond liqueur)
1 teaspoon each orange and lemon zest
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg white
Chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)

1. Heat oven to 325°F. Line a 17 x 12 x 1-inch baking pan with nonstick foil. In large bowl, cream together butter and 1-1/2 cups of the sugar.

2. Slowly add egg yolks, and beat well until smooth. Beat in Amaretto and zest.

3. Stir in flour and salt until combined.

4. Spread dough evenly into prepared pan, flattening as smoothly as possible.

5. Brush top of dough with egg white; sprinkle with nuts or fruit (if using) and with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

6. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes or until brown, turn off oven and allow cookies to sit in oven (with door ajar) for 15 minutes. Cut while slightly warm.


Try adding 1/2 cup of any combination of the following:

dried fruit
mini chocolate chips
mini white chocolate chips

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Make Ahead Recipe for Italian Lasagna

Classic Italian Lasagna is one of those recipes that is a great crowd pleaser. Whether you want a make-ahead recipe that you can feed your family on week nights, or something that you can make ahead for holiday entertaining so that you can enjoy the party too, lasagne is one of those casseroles that you can trust. And, you won't break the bank either. Lasagna can be made to look very elegant, but is a good way to stretch your food dollars.

Italian lasagna can be made with meat, or vegetables or both. Although we love this classic meat lasagna, I also have a spinich lasagne recipe that is delicious. Vegetarian lasagna and other pasta casseroles are a smart way to give your family more veggies.

Here's one of our favorites, and I hope you'll like it too:

Classic Italian Meat Lasagna

1 pound ground beef (feel free to substitute lean ground chicken or turkey)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove crushed garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 (1 pound) can diced or crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
8 ounce lasagna
1 pound ricotta cheese
8 ounce mozzarella cheese, shredded
or thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In large heavy pan, lightly brown beef ,onion and garlic in olive oil. Add tomatoes , tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, pepper and oregano; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile cook lasagna noodles as directed on package; drain.

In 13 x 9-inch baking pan, spread about 1 cup sauce. Then alternate layers of lasagna, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, ending with sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.

Allow to stand for 15 minutes; cut in squares to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Freezer Meals Recipes

I was sick all weekend, so I was glad to have some meals in the freezer. With many recipes, it's easy to make extra to freeze for another day. And, believe me, it is often a big help. If you are a soccer mom, or just a busy person, it helps to have some freezer meals recipes in your repetoire.

You can freeze your left over pasta meat sauce or casseroles with little or no change in flavor or food quality. Pasta casseroles freeze really well. Try this Chicken Noodle Casserole. It's easy and tasty.

Chicken Noodle Casserole

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 ounces egg noodles
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled buttery round crackers (or bread crumbs)
1/2 cup butter

Poach chicken in a large pot of simmering water. Cook , about 12 minutes, or until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Bring chicken cooking water to a boil and cook egg noodles in it. Drain. Cut chicken into small pieces, and mix with noodles.

In a separate bowl, mix together mushroom soup, chicken soup, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir together cream soup mixture with the chicken mixture. Place in a 2 quart baking dish.

Melt butter in a small saucepan, and remove from heat. Stir in crumbled crackers. Top casserole with the buttery cracker crumbs. (at this point you may freeze the casserole)

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, until heated through and browned on top.

Serves 6

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Recipe - Crockpot Chicken Breasts

Since many of you have been after me to provide more crockpot recipes, especially for chicken, here's one that your family will love that uses low fat skinless, boneless chicken breast meat.

If your family prefers darker meat, or if you want to save money, you may substitute skinless, boneless thighs. I have also used turkey thighs for this recipe with good results, and turkey parts are a great way to get high quality protein for less!

Title: Fiesta Chicken
Category: Crock Pot


2 tablespoons oil
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounce) Mexican style diced tomatoes with chiles
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Heat oil in skillet. Cook chicken pieces until browned. Remove and drain. Place onion, green bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno pepper in skillet and saute until slightly cooked. Add all ingredients to crockpot and stir to combine. Cover; cook on LOW 8 hours (HIGH 4 hours).
Serve on flour tortillas.

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Recipe for Chicken Jambalaya Crockpot

If you want to save both money and time, get a crock pot. You can make delicious, cost saving meals to feed your busy family even if you are pressed for time. The thing I love about the crock pot is that I can assemble my ingredients in the slow cooker the night before or in the morning before I go to work, and then just forget about it until dinner time. Slow cookers, also known as crockpots, are great time savers

Many recipes for the crockpot will also help you save money. You can make stews, soups, and other meals that will stretch your food dollars. To save money, use more vegetables, rice and pastas and less expensive meats. The slow cooker is a wonderful way to cook the less expensive, tougher cuts of meat since you will braise them slowly, usually with a bit of liquid.

One of our favorite crockpot recipes, is this recipe for Chicken Jambalaya in the Crockpot. It's easy to prepare, and delicious. It is something you could also serve for a party or other special family event. Let me know if you like this recipe reprinted with permission from

Chicken Jambalaya Crockpot


1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast uncooked, cubed
3 cups fat free chicken broth
3/4 cups water
1 -1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 oz. reduced fat smoked turkey sausage diced
1/2 cup celery thinly sliced
1/2 cup onion chopped
1/2 cup green pepper chopped
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 garlic cloves minced
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) no-salt diced tomatoes, undrained

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté chicken 2-3 minutes.

Stir together remaining ingredients in slow cooker. Add sautéed chicken. Cover. Cook on high 6 hours.

Find other great crock pot chicken recipes at

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Best Way to Cook Brisket

Beef brisket is one of those money saving cuts of beef that is quite delicious if it is well prepared. The best way to cook brisket is to braise it in a small amount of liquid, cooking it slowly for several hours.

Here is one of my family's favorite beef brisket recipes, it is so easy to prepare in a crock pot or slow cooker, and the results are amazing. It is good for a party or a crowd, too.

Try this one and let me know if you like it:

Barbecue Beef Brisket Sandwiches

Slices of beef brisket steeped in a sweet and savory sauce create a melt-in-your-mouth sandwich

Servings: 8

1 (3 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion (about 1 1/2 cup), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup dark beer (such as porter or stout)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon paprika
8 Kaiser or other sandwich rolls

Cook the brisket: Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the brisket, brown on all sides and transfer to a crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients to the crockpot and stir well. Cook, covered, on LOW until the meat is very tender - 8 hours.

Remove the meat, place it on a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Reserve the sauce. Carve brisket into thin slices and divide it among rolls topped with reserved sauce. Serve warm.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

8 More Money Saving Ideas

You don't have to break the bank to make a delicious and satisfying meal, and you can even entertain on a budget and still enjoy the food. Here are a few tips to help you save money at the grocery, but still put excellent meals on the table:

  1. Shop where the bargains are. You may need to drive a bit farther, but it will be worth it. Consider grocery stores such as Aldi Supermarket or your local Wal-Mart Superstore. They usually have much better prices than you will find in the big name supermarkets, although at a store such as Aldi you'll find the selection may not be as extensive. Shoppers can save as much as 30% on staples at these stores.
  2. Clip Coupons! You can even find coupons online, and just print off the ones that work for you. Save on Groceries - Download the CouponBar and never miss another offer!
  3. Invest in a crockpot. You can use less costly cuts of meat, and make great tasting meals. You just put everything in the crockpot the night before, or in the morning before you go to work, and then let it cook all day. Click here for a free crockpot cookbook from my friends over at
  4. Use frozen vegetables when possible. They tend to be more cost effective than fresh, but still have the nutrients. I think frozen veggies have better texture and taste than canned vegetables, and they usually have less sodium.
  5. Shop at the big wholesale clubs. If you don't have a big family and you think you can't use such large packages of food or staples, consider shopping with a friend or relative and split the items between the families. I often shop with a friend and neighbor at our local Costco. We buy large packages of paper supplies, household cleaning products, and, meat and other food items. Once we get home, we split it up between us, and trust me we save a bundle.
  6. Now that the holidays are getting closer, and you may want to entertain more, don't hesitate to allow friends and family to pitch in. Potluck meals are fun, and save everyone. Or you can just let someone bring a salad, drinks or dessert, while you round out the rest of the meal.
  7. Casseroles are a great way to stretch the budget either for a large family or for a gathering of friends. Here's a time saving idea - make two, and freeze one for another meal later in the month. Freezer casserole recipes are wonderful time savers.
  8. Cook with more pasta and rice - both will stretch your protein and veggies to the max! And, who doesn't like pasta or rice?

These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you have any good money saving tips, post them here in our comments.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ramen Noodle Salad Recipe

This Ramen noodle salad recipe is perfect to take for you lunch, or for a light dinner. It's simple and easy, and is a great make-ahead meal for those really busy days. It's also a welcome pot-luck dish to take to your next pitch-in event.

You can do many different variations too, using those ingredients and flavors that are your family's favorites, and for larger events don't hesitate to double, triple or even quadruple the recipe. Here's the recipe, and some of our favorite variations (let me know if you like it too!):

Ramen Noodle Salad Recipe

1 medium head cabbage
2 packages chicken flavored Ramen noodles
2 cans white meat chicken
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. oil
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. seasoning salt
3 tbsp. vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Shred cabbage. Break up Ramen noodles into the shredded cabbage. Add chicken. Toast the almonds and sesame seeds in 325 degree oven until lightly browned. Add to cabbage mixture. Combine oil, sugar, seasoning salt, vinegar, salt and pepper with seasoning packets from Ramen noodles. Mix with cabbage mixture and refrigerate.


  1. Substitute shrimp, crabmeat, canned tuna or canned salmon for the chicken. Use a complimentary flavor of noodles, and leave out the almonds.
  2. For a more Asian flavor, substitute Asian style cabbage, and add a touch of sesame oil for more flavor.

What are your favorites?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is it Really Organic?

In an effort to both support our local growers, and ensure that our food doesn't contain pesticides, hormones, or anything else that is undesirable, I started buying only organic foods when possible. However, how do you know it is really organic?

If you're interested in making the switch to organic foods, too, you may also wonder how they tell if you are actually buying organic foods. Don't worry, it is relatively easy to make sure that you are buying truly organic foods.

There are strict standards associated with the making and selling of organic foods. Companies claming to sell fully organic foods may only do so with the backing of Quality Assurance International (QAI) or the USDA. When shopping, just look for certified organic labels. All food that meets industry standards should be labeled properly. This is one of the best and easiest ways to make sure that you are buying truly organic food.

Here's another easy way to make sure you're buying organic foods - choose specialty organic or natural food stores that specialize in organic foods. Locally owned and operated stores are often smaller, and offer the possibility getting to know the manager or owner so that you can speak with them if you have concerns or questions. Since I live in a small beach community, I have come to know most of the people working at our local food stores, but even in a larger community it is possible, especially at the smaller specialty stores. That being said, you shouldn’t have any problems. Most specialty stores go out of their way to ensure that they are only selling one hundred percent natural, organic foods.

You can also shop the Internet for organic foods. Stick with specialty online organic food stores. Some organic product manufacturers, like Earth’s Best Organic, have online stores where their products are sold. We have a local organic grocer that delivers to our neighborhood once or twice a week. You just make your order online. Alternatively, you can pickup at their store.

Don't rule out your local supermarkets, grocery stores, or even warehouse clubs such as Sams Club and Costco. We are seeing more and more organic foods at these mainstream stores. I'm finding fresh organic produce, organic meats, and other organic food products at our local grocercy store and in Costco. Much of it is mixed right in with the other foods, they don't always have a separate organic food section. So, be on the lookout for organic foods throughout the stores.

These are just a few ways that you can take to make sure that you are buying one hundred percent organic foods. Let us know if you have any other suggestions.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How To Make Good Tasting Coffee

You know, coffee is one of life's little pleasures, but you don't have to hit the nearest high priced coffee shop to get a good tasting cup of coffee. You can make your own coffee at home and save money. In fact, many people are even carrying coffee to work now in thermos cups. It's true!

To make a good tasting coffee, there are just a few elements:

  1. Good tasting water. You don't have to use bottled water - get a water filter. In fact, for around $79 - $99 you can get coffee makers that have built-in water filters. I have one myself, and it's great. Another hint for the water is to put it in the coffee maker the night before. It will taste better the next morning.
  2. Good coffee. Now, you can grind your own coffee beans, or buy coffee that is ready to go, but you need coffee that tastes good to you. For some people, it's the Folger's that their grandmother used, and for others it's the Starbucks brand. I had a co-worker that refused any coffee that wasn't Maxwell House! Just use what you like.
  3. A proper brewing system for the type of coffee that you like. If you prefer espresso, you can get the stovetop espresso brewer for under $10 or if you have a higher budget there are some Italian espresso makers from $500 to upwards of $12,000. If you prefer good, old fashioned American coffee, a nice drip coffee maker will run you under $100.
  4. Filter - I use a gold filter. It's better for the environment (no paper filter), and it's supposed to make the coffee taste much better. I don't know if I can say that, but it is good, and convenient. I never run out of filters.
  5. A mug or coffee cup that you enjoy. A recent study indicates that people enjoy coffee more if it's in a vessel that they like - no paper or styrofoam. For some people it is a very small, elegant demitasse, while for others (me) it's a huge mug with monkeys painted on the side!

Enjoy your coffee!

Get the world's finest Italian espresso. Sign up for the illy espresso membership program and enjoy easy ordering and home delivery.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lemon Juice and Lime Juice Mojito Recipe

Living in Miami we enjoy the famous Mojito cocktail. It is a refreshing mint and lime flavored beverage that you can find at any club, bar, or restaurant in Miami. Next time you have a party, think about a South Beach theme. Serve some black beans and rick, tres leches cake, and some mojitos. It'll be a hit for sure!

Here's a really nice recipe for a lemon and lime juice Mojito:

1 part Bacardi Limon Rum
3 parts Club Soda
12 mint leaves
1/2 lime
1/2 part sugar

Combine mint leaves, lime and sugar in a glass. Crush well with a pestle.

Add Bacardi Limon Rum, and top off with club soda. Stir well, and garnish with mint leaves, lemon and lime wheels.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Disaster Supply Kit

Here in South Florida we are waiting yet again to see if we will be effected by the most recent Hurricane (Ike). We are not sitting idly, though. We are boarding up our homes, and laying in the most essential hurricane/disaster supplies.

One of the most important items to have is a good, portable cookstove. A charcoal or gas grill is also good to have on hand, with an ample supply of fuel. Be prepared to be without power for at least a week, maybe two weeks. Another essential item to have is a cooler to store some food items and ice.

Here is a list of food items to keep on hand in case of emergency or disaster. This list is good for any area of the country, whether you are snowed in by a blizzard, freezing weather, or wind storm.

  • Bottled water
  • Instant coffee
  • Instant tea
  • Powdered coffee creamer
  • Powdered milk
  • Pancake mix (the kind that requires water only)
  • Cans of evaporated milk
  • Soft drinks
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Wheat Thins
  • Tortillas or Wraps
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Canned and jarred meats and fish, such as chicken, sardines and tuna
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Other fresh fruit in season
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Canned and bottled juice
  • Cereal
  • Peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.
  • Cheese
  • Honey
  • PowerBars or other meal replacement protein bars
  • Cookies
  • Marshmallows (Fun for the kids when cooking outside)
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Packaged sliced deli meats (turkey, ham, etc.)
  • Canned beans
  • Rotel's Diced Tomatoes & Chile Peppers
  • Canned soups
  • Ready made baby formula
  • Jars of baby food

In addition you should also have the following suppies:

  • Prescription medications, at least a one week supply
  • Contact lens supplies
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Cold medications
  • Tylenol or Motrin
  • Antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin or Bacitracin)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Insect repellent

And don't forget your pets!

  • Pet food
  • Pet prescription medications
  • Treats
  • Water for your pets

Other essential supplies to have on hand are:

  • Battery operated lanterns
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Extra cash (ATM's and store credit card machines don't work w/out power)
  • Baby supplies - diapers, wipes, baby food and ready made formula, medicines, etc.
  • Fully charged cellular phones
  • Trash bags - the really big ones
  • Mops and buckets for clean up
  • Gallon size freezer bags - use them to make ice a few days before the storm is expected fill with water and freeze
  • Tools - hammer, screwdrivers, ax or hatchet, pliers, etc.
  • Household bleach
  • Battery operated radio
  • Telephone that does not need electricity to use (landline)
  • Paper supplies - napkins, paper towels, toilet paper
  • Paper plates and plastic eating utensils

This is by no means a complete list, but maybe it will help you get a good start on setting up your own disaster supply kit. Let me know if I have left something out.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Creamy Potato Soup Recipe

With fall weather in the forecast, what could be better than a nice bowl of creamy potato soup? Have some nice crusty bread on the side, or a grilled cheese sandwich, and you are set. It makes a satisfying dinner or a hearty lunch. In fact, you can even carry the creamy potato soup to work or school in a thermos if you like.

Potatoes are filling, and nutritious, as well as a money saving dinner option. A good source of potassium and other nutrients, potatoes are definitely something you should not cut out of your diet. And, who doesn't like potatoes? Your family is going to love this recipe, so try it out this weekend!

Creamy Potato Soup Recipe

2 cups chopped red potatoes

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 teaspoon Watkins Minced Green Onion or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped Green Onions

1 cup Watkins Cream Soup Base

1/2 cup flour

2 cups milk


1 teaspoon Watkins Bacon Onion Snack & Dip Seasoning

Boil potato, celery, carrots and minced green onion in 1 quart water for 10 minutes or until tender.

Double recipe for thin white sauce on cream soup can. Mix according to directions. Drain water off vegetables and add to cream soup. Stir in Snack & Dip Seasoning.

Makes approximately 6 cups.

If you like a more tangy cream potato soup, try another of our favorites - Sour Cream Potato Soup - it is absolutely delicious. Let me know if you like it too!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

5 Tips to Save Money on Groceries

Rising fuel costs have affected the price of the food that we eat. In fact, food costs are rising faster than any other sector of goods! If you are like many of us, you are looking for some ways to save at the grocery.

Here are 5 easy tips to save on your food costs without depriving your family of the things they like:

  1. Clip coupons. It's worth buying the newspaper once or twice a week to clip the coupons for food and other household products that you use. Usually the coupons are in the Wednesday or Thursday paper, and almost always on Sundays. Check with your local newspaper publisher to find out what issues will be most valuable for you.
  2. Shop at the big wholesale stores like Costco and Sam's Club. These are especially good for the cleaning and laundry supplies and paper products. But, you will also save on food products, too. Just be careful to purchase only those food items that you can use before they will go bad. You'll save big on condiments, rice, pasta, canned goods, and other items that have a long shelve life.
  3. Buy in season. Normally produce that is in season will be less expensive than those that are not in season in your area. Also, don't overlook frozen food options. For example, frozen spinich is much more economical any time of the year than fresh spinich. If you are going to cook it anyway, use the frozen product, and save the fresh for salads.
  4. Plan your meals in advance, and shop with a list to avoid impulse purchases.
  5. Make your own snack foods, instead of purchasing the less economical prepared cookies, crackers, and other snacks. Get an air popper and make popped corn, or make your own cookies and cakes. In most cases you'll spend less, and you and your family will enjoy the snacks much more.
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Bistros and Restaurants in Paris France

by Martyn Davis

Gastronomy is taken very seriously in France and with the rich history for fine French cuisine, Paris is a city where you will find some of the Worlds finest chefs serving remarkable cuisine and you will find thousands of cafes and restaurants in Paris alone, ranging from the small bistro such as the Allard Bistro through to exceedingly plush restaurants.

Even at a small traditional restaurant like the Boeuf sur le Toit or at a fancy restaurant setting such as the Train Bleu, the quality of food is of the utmost of importance, but many places have to be booked prior and some require reservations weeks or even months in advance, like the Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower!

When it comes to the type of cuisine, you have choices from all over the world such as the Blue Elephant which serves Thai dishes in beautiful surroundings, Brazilian food at the Brasil Tropical Cabaret and restaurant, Le Curieux Spaghetti Bar for true Italian delights, or the Tokyo Eat restaurant serving adventurous fusion cuisine.

There is so much variety to tempt your taste buds, yet obviously, it is the French food that really stands out in so many restaurants in Paris and some are in unusual surroundings like L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, 1970's style Korova, the family restaurant Apollo or Altitude 95 in the Eiffel Tower and they vary in cost from only a few Euros to hundreds per person.

But if you want to splash out for that special occasion, the finest way of dining in Paris is with Haute cuisine, which is elaborate food preparation and presentation, and just some of the Michelin star rated Haute cuisine restaurants include the Le Grande Cascade close to the Longchamps horse racing, Guy Savoy, Taillevent, Le Grand Vefour and La Tour d'Argent, where you could be paying upwards of 250 Euros per person, but even the most expensive restaurants are cheaper for lunch than in the evening.

Now forgetting Haute cuisine, you will find most restaurants in Paris serving French cuisine have a Menu du Jour or a set menu of the day and this normally means the most reasonably priced meals, which change frequently depending upon what fresh produce is available.

Also, if you want to eat breakfast out it is likely to be at a Patisserie or Tea Salon where you can get croissants, bread, fillings like cold meats and cheeses, pastries and a nice cup of coffee and numerous places such as Angelina's or Laduree, offer a choice of eating on the premises, or items to take away, but just one point worth mentioning is that many establishments add an additional charge to your bill if you decide to sit outside on their terrace, rather than inside.

When it comes to lunch, you will be able to find numerous different cafes and bistros whilst walking around Paris such as the Cafe Marly with a great view of the famous Louvre museum, and it may be an idea to mark these on a map so that you can find your next fuelling station!

As for the evening, meals are usually served from around 7.30pm and restaurants get far busier from around 9pm onwards. Plus we would like to point out that Parisians do tend to dress up for an evening out and in most restaurants it is expected that you have a glass of wine or two with your meal, but bear in mind that a table wine can be just as expensive as many others on the wine list, as they are still of excellent quality.

And numerous different options are available for an evening meal like the cosy intimate setting of Au Bon Accueil, or perhaps you have been to a nightclub and need to eat in the early hours of the morning, then Au Pied de Cochon that is open 24/7 is a good choice, or you could choose the friendly atmosphere and smells of food cooking on a spit at the Atelier Maitre Albert or contemporary cuisine at Spoon Food and Wine, but you also have cabaret venues where you can enjoy a meal and watch a cabaret show such as at the World famous Moulin Rouge.

And after all this eating out in Paris enjoying the fabulous cuisine on offer, it just may not be the same when you get home!

About the Author

Martyn Davis European Traveller, Author, Photographer and Business Development Manager, For all your French holiday needs and travel guide to France, with tourist information, landmarks and attractions - Restaurants In Paris

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Baked Pork Chop Recipes

Pork is being touted as the "new white meat". It is not only tasty, but considered a very healthy, lean protein.

One of the easiest methods for cooking pork chops, which tend to be everyone's favorite cut, is to bake them. Baked pork chop recipes can use a variety of flavorings for variety. What's your family's favorite?

Take a look at all the different recipes for pork chops listed at You'll find recipes that use apples, cherries, stuffing, potatoes and many other ingredients that your family will love. We like this one:

Baked Lemony Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper
1/2 to 1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 lemon
Butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray cookie sheet with Pam. Salt and pepper chops. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Pat bread crumbs over top of chops.

Slice four thin slices from the lemon and set aside. Squeeze the rest of the lemon over chops.

Dot with butter and place thin slice of lemon on each chop.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes depending on thickness of chops. Don't over-bake.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bon Appetit Recipes, Ingredients, and Instructions

One of my favorite past times is to thumb through Bon Appetit magazine looking for new recipes and meal ideas. The magazine offers some of the best recipes, easy to find ingredients and easy to use instructions for making some amazing meals.

I have found that some of the other top food magazines often showcase recipes that have impossible to find or ultra expensive ingredients, and the instructions are not always easy to understand and follow. While the pictures sure look pretty, it would take a genius, well trained chef to prepare the food involved.

I think I will just stick with my monthly Bon Appetit magazine from which I have derived many years of reading pleasure.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cold Pasta Salad Recipes

On these final hot days of summer, the thought of standing over a hot stove or grill is a big turn-off. I'm always trying to think of recipe ideas that don't require much, if any, cooking. Cold pasta salads are a refreshing meal idea that usually only require cooking the pasta.

It's something you can enjoy for lunch (especially good for brown bagging it) or for dinner. And, who doesn't like pasta? Also, pasta salad is a very good way to stretch your food budget. You can make an excellent meal that everyone will enjoy, and not break the bank.

There are so many different variations for pasta salad, you won't get bored. It doesn't have to be Italian style, although those are good, too. One of my favorites is a recipe for Layered Southwestern Pasta Salad. It's a great make ahead recipe that you can carry to a picnic, or have waiting when you come home from soccer practice.

You can make your own recipes too. Just start with some cooked pasta, add your favorite salad ingredients, a dressing (usually vinigrette or mayonaise based), and chill.

What are you waiting for? Try it tonight!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympic Fever? Try a Stir Fry Recipe

Everyone's excited about the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing China. Tonight we'll watch the opening ceremonies, and it promises to be a spectacular event.

What better way to celebrate the Olympics than with a nice Chinese style dinner. It's not difficult to make a stir-fry. Serve some white rice on the side, and some fresh fruit for dessert.

Get that Olympic spirit! Here's a recipe for Shrimp Stir-Fry that your family will enjoy.

Shrimp Stir Fry

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 small sweet red pepper, julienned
1 small green bell pepper, julienned
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
Hot cooked rice

In a skillet, stir-fry broccoli and peppers in oil until tender. Add shrimp; stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.

Combine the cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, orange juice and soy sauce until smooth; add to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Serve over rice.

Yields 3 to 4 servings.


Instead of shrimp, use thin sliced beef sirloin, pork, or chicken. Vegetarians, substitute cubed firm tofu.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Walnut Crusted Halibut Recipe

Cold-water fish like halibut are a rich source of the omega-3 essential fats. Recent research indicates that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial in preventing strokes, heart attacks, Alzheimer's disease, and a host of other health problems. By just adding 2 - 3 servings a week of salmon, tuna, cod or halibut to your diet, you may benefit greatly. Other foods that are a good source of the omega-3's are walnuts and flaxseed.

I'm trying to add more cold-water fish to our weekly diet, with much protesting from my husband who insists he doesn't like fish. However, here is a recipe that he has asked me to repeat, so maybe your family will like it too.

Walnut Crusted Halibut With Honey Soy Sauce

1/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups clover honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
Four 6-ounce Alaskan halibut fillets
2 eggs lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Stir a pinch of salt and pepper into the flour and reserve in a shallow dish. Whisk together the honey and soy sauce and reserve in another dish.

Dip the halibut fillets in the flour, coating thoroughly and shaking gently to remove any excess. Next dip them in the beaten egg wash, draining off any excess; then immediately roll them in the walnuts to coat. Reserve for 5 minutes to allow the coating to "set."

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold the fillets, and add the fish. Cook on one side until golden brown, flip carefully and put it immediately into the oven for 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with the reserved honey-soy sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Freezer Casserole Recipes - Save Time and Money

The kids will be going back to school soon, and you're going to be busier than ever - recipes that can be prepared ahead and stored in the freezer are great for those days you have sports games, dance lessons, music lessons, etc.

Freezer casserole recipes are not only a good way to save time, but you'll also save money. First, you'll have something to eat at home, rather than stopping at a restaurant on those really busy days. Normally, it costs more to eat out than to prepare meals in the home. Also, you can have a tasty meal using ingredients that can stretch the dollar, like less expensive cuts of meat, or no meat at all.

One freezer casserole recipe that I've found kids really like is Cheeseburger Casserole. This is one that you can prepare for a meal on the weekend, but double the recipe and freeze half for a meal on another day. Reheat it covered in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until it is heated through. If you are really in a hurry, and have used a microwave safe container, you can also reheat it in the microwave oven.

Another great recipe that can be frozen for later use (once again, it takes the same amount of time to prepare if you double the recipe and save half to freeze for another day), and very kid friendly, is Burrito Supreme Casserole. Just prepare it up to the part where you would bake it, and then freeze it for later. Just about any casserole can be frozen and used later.

There are so many different casseroles that you can make using your family's favorite foods, and don't be afraid to experiment with some of the recipes. If you don't have an ingredient on hand, or if you know your family won't like it, substitute something else. And, have fun. Cooking should always be fun, and you should enjoy the food that you eat!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Boxed Cake Mix Recipes

A boxed cake mix can be used to make many desserts other than a cake. When you are in a hurry to make a dessert, or you are just looking for a simple and easy to prepare dessert, a boxed cake mix can be a very versatile ingredient.

You can use a boxed cake mix to make cookies, pancakes, quick breads, and even cheesecake.

One of my favorite boxed cake mix recipes is Peach Cobbler Dump Cake. Although it is not a particularly elegant sounding name, the resulting dessert is delicious. And, the ingredients are just a few things you probably already have in your pantry like a can of peaches and a yellow cake mix.

Here's the recipe:

Peach Cobbler Dump Cake


1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 (32 ounce) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
1/2 cup butter
Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Empty peaches into the bottom of a 13 x 9- inch pan. Cover with the dry cake mix and press down firmly. Cut butter or margarine into small pieces and place on top of cake mix. Sprinkle top with cinnamon.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds on top before baking
  • Use a can of cherry or apple pie filling instead of the canned peaches
  • Try cherry pie filling and chocolate cake mix for a "black forest" dessert

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Barbeque Dry Rub Recipes

This time of year, everyone enjoys having a barbeque as often as possible. Get the steaks, ribs, chicken and corn as fresh as possible, and head for the grill.

There are as many different barbeque recipes as their are cooks that like to grill. One of the requests that I keep getting is for barbeque dry rub recipes. Using a dry rub is one method that gives your meat succulent flavor. Memphis, Tennessee is famous for it's fabulous barbeque restaurants that traditionally use a dry rub, rather than a "wet" sauce when they smoke meats. And it is really easy to make. Here's a dry rub recipe to enjoy:

4 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoons cayenne


Mix ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. Spread evenly on prepared ribs, or meat of your choice, that have been patted dry and let sit until the rub appears moist.

Don't be afraid to adjust the seasonings above to your taste.

Chocolate Fig Cake Recipe

Chocolate fig cake is also known as pudding in Great Britain, where the recipe originated. This moist, dense cake is quite rich and also quite tasty. We enjoyed it at a restaurant called "The Muffin Man" while we were visiting London recently, and I was lucky to find a very authentic recipe for it at a rather nice website called Online Free Recipes. The owner of the site has graciously given me permission to re-print the recipe.
Chocolate Fig Pudding Cake

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup ground semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1 cup diced, dried black figs

In food processor or large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Add cocoa powder, ground chocolate and almonds; mix until light and fluffy.

In separate, medium-size mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to chocolate mixture. Blend slowly until smooth. Fold in figs. Pour batter into greased 1 1/2-quart pudding mold.
Place on rack in large, deep steamer pot or roasting pan with 1 inch boiling water.
Steam at moderate heat on top of stove for 1 1/2 hours, checking water level every half hour.
Unmold. Serve warm, dusted with confectioners' sugar or topped with whipped cream.

NOTE: This may be made several days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat in steamer before serving. Makes approximately 8 slices.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fresh Tuna Steak Recipes

Although consumption of canned tuna accounts for more Americans eating tuna than any other type of fish, canned tuna just doesn't compare to the wonderfully firm, dense and meaty flavor and texture of fresh tuna. Both canned and fresh tuna are available throughout the year; however, December is the when you can get fresh Hawaiian tuna.

Tuna is found in the warm water areas all around the world, including the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Fresh tuna, smoked and pickled tuna, has been enjoyed by coastal populations throughout history, and has been consumed since ancient times.

Tuna fish are a nutrient-dense food, and an excellent source of high quality protein. Tuna are rich in a many different important nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, and potassium; the B vitamins niacin, B1 and B6; and perhaps most important, the beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids are so named because they are essential for our health but cannot be made by the body; they must therefore be obtained from foods. Cold-water fish like tuna and salmon are a rich source of the omega-3 essential fats, a form of essential fatty acids in which the standard American diet is sorely deficient. (The other form of essential fatty acids, the omega-6s, are plentiful in a variety of commonly consumed oils such as corn and safflower oil. In fact, the omega-6s are so plentiful in the typical American diet that too much omega-6 is consumed in proportion to omega-3s--an imbalance that promotes inflammation, thus contributing to virtually every chronic disease in which inflammation is a key component.)

Enjoying tuna or salmon just two times a week may help raise omega-3 levels at least as effectively as taking a daily fish oil supplement. Now I don't know about you, but I would
rather enjoy a delicious meal that includes a serving of omega-3-rich fish twice a week than swallow a capsule of fish oil every day, especially as gastrointestinal upset, burping and a fishy aftertaste are common side effects of taking fish oil capsules.

Omega-3 fatty acids provide a broad array of cardiovascular benefits, and many other health benefits. In fact, a number of recent studies have shown that eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids just 2 - 3 times a week helps:
  • lower cholesterol
  • prevent and control high blood pressure
  • protect against heart arrhythmia
  • protect against heart attack
  • protect against deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
  • prevent obesity and improve insulin response
  • reduce inflammation
  • protect against childhood asthma
  • protect against sunburn
  • reduce hostility
  • improve mood, reduce depression
  • lower risk of leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkins type lymphoma
  • protect against kidney cancer and colon cancer
  • reduce risk of macular degeneration
  • prevent mental decline and Alzheimer's Disease
Now, if you weren't sold on eating fish a couple of times a week before, after reading this list you must be ready to add it to your weekly menus! Click here for fresh tuna steak recipes, fresh salmon recipes, and canned salmon recipes.

Enjoy good food and good health when you eat fish a few times each week. Don't overlook the fresh sockeye salmon from Alaska that is available for the next few weeks. Bon apetit!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Grilled Vegetables Recipe

One way to add more healthy vegetables to your family's diet is by serving tasty grilled vegetables. Grilled vegetables can add many different colors to the dinner plate, and are a rustic treat.

Even if you don't have access to a grill, you can still prepare vegetables on an electric grill such as the Cuisinart Grill or a George Foreman grill, or you can roast veggies in the oven.

How to prepare grilled vegetables:

  1. Select a nice variety of fresh, ripe vegetables. I recommend any of the following: green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, or potatoes. Use your imagination, and don't be afraid to experiment.
  2. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and stems; slice onions, eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices; and slice potatoes into approximately 1/4 inch slices.
  3. Brush all vegetables with olive oil
  4. Grill over hot coals, or roast in a preheated 400 degree oven until tender.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Easy Fixes for Cake Decorating Mistakes

Here are the most common cake decorating mistakes and easy ways to rectify them.

Anyone who has ever frosted a cake knows there are times when the icing will pull apart the top of the cake and cake crumbs get will into the frosting. To stop this from occurring, you should start with a crumb coat. This is the same icing that you are using to frost the cake, but it has been thinned down a bit. That way you will cover any part of the cake that might crumb with a thin layer of icing, and it will give you a base over which you will put a regular coat of icing. Take care that you do not make the icing too thin. It should be thinned down just enough to cover the cake without tearing it and picking up crumbs.

After you apply the crumb coat to the cake, you need to let it set about 2 hours or more before you apply the rest of the icing. In fact it should rest in the refrigerator, and can be kept there overnight before you need to add more icing. It is okay if you see crumbs in the crumb coat, they will be stuck in this first layer of icing and will not effect the next layer of icing. The cold will set the icing and it will be a cinch to ice after that.

There can be a problem with fillings spilling out the sides of the cake. There are ways to stop this from happening when your cake decorating involves a filled middle.

1. Bake your cake the day before you are planning to fill it. This will make the cake firmer and will give it time to settle. A freshly baked cake will be unstable and will not hold fillings as well as when they are settled.

2. You can also use icing to make a dam to stop the filling from spilling out. Once the dam has been made, you can frost the whole cake with a crumb coating. The cake should be set in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight, this will firm up the icing and will keep the filling from oozing out the sides. The dams made of icing will firm up and keep the filling in.

If you are a busy person and don't have time to bake and decorate a cake all at once, you can bake the cake and freeze it until you need to decorate it. A cake can be kept in the freezer a couple of weeks before it needs to be used. You must prepare the cake for freezing by wrapping three layers of strong cling wrap around the cake, followed by one layer of aluminum foil just prior to freezing. If you do not follow this procedure, your cake will dry out and crumble. You will also need to make sure the cake is completely thawed before attempting to ice it.

Allow the cake to defrost slowly, at room temperature, until it has completely defrosted. Icing a cake before it has thawed will make the icing sweat and become mushy, this will ruin your cake decorating, and all your hard work will be for nothing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fast and Easy Lunches

Everyone is trying to save money these days. Let's face it, with the costs of food and gas increasing, we are all trying to find ways to economize. Every time I open the Internet, I see another article with the top 10 (5 or 3 - take your pick) ways to save money. In every case, they tell you to stop buying Starbucks coffee (make your own at home), and start carrying your lunch to work, rather than eat out at restaurants.

I actually prefer to make my own food, but I know that cooking is not a top priority in the lives of many other people. Quite a few people out there have never learned to cook or really don't enjoy cooking. These individuals and their families often exist on fast food, convenience foods and boxed mixes rather than taking the effort to prepare healthy meals.

I have one friend who actually buys those apples that are already cored and sliced for her kids, and another friend who buys those potatoes that are already mashed. These conveniences come at a premium, though. Preparing your own food can be fun, more tasty, and cost much less.

The same holds true for lunches. You don't have to open can of soup or box of macaroni and cheese or some other pre-packaged or prepared product. You can put some creative effort into making a quick, easy, and delicious lunch.

First of all, not all great brown bag lunches require cooking in order to prepare. Although some of them may require the use of the microwave and some of them will need to be cooked or at least prepared before hand and reheated. The choices are virtually limitless once you understand the creative concept. And you may also find that many of these ideas are so simple you will wonder why on earth you have never thought of them.

  • Lettuce wraps. These make delightfully delicious lunch treats and the filling can be prepared ahead of time, which leaves only reheating the filling, if necessary, and wrapping when you're ready to eat. Left-overs are great for lettuce wraps. Plan ahead to prepare extra for lunches the next day. This is also a fun lunch to share with your little ones, and helps to add more veggies to their diet. Some people choose to go with a teriyaki inspired filling; my family likes taco inspired fillings for our lettuce rolls. You are perfectly free to come up with a favorite filling of your very own.
  • Try sandwiches with different breads. Believe it or not, I had a difficult time getting my husband to try wraps, but now they are his lunch-time staple with various fillings. Other great ideas include hollowing out crusty rolls and filling them with roast beef and cheddar, or other fillings that your family likes. You can heat this in your oven for a few minutes for a nice sandwich treat. The cooking part is very minimal, and not even required, so you do not have to have in depth knowledge of anything to prepare or enjoy these simple treats. Other bread ideas include croissants with ham and cheese or chicken salad, pitas with any filling (another great favorite in our household), and paninis (this works really well if you have a George Foreman grill or a panini press).
  • Plan ahead for leftovers that make great lunch treats. For example, leftover roast beef, chicken or turkey make wonderful sandwiches. Leftover taco filings make nice taco salad the next day - and, you don't need those big tortilla bowls, use crushed tortilla chips to add some crunch to your salad.

This is by no means the definitive guide to cooking quick and easy lunches, but it is good food for thought. My hope is that this will get your own creative juices flowing so that you can prepare wonderful lunches for your family without the need for too much cooking in the process. Have some fun with your lunches.