Sunday, December 26, 2010

Great books!

Hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

As I sat thinking today, I started to think about some of my favorite books. So, I thought I would share them with you!

I enjoy fiction. To narrow it down some more, I really enjoy inspirational fiction. I have read soooo many books in the genre, that I decided to become Raleigh's Christian Book Examiner! I actually signed up for this title a while ago and have written a few articles on the subject so far.

Here are a few of my favorite titles:

The Potluck Club is one of my favorite fiction series. It combines great writing with food and to me that is a perfect combination!

Chateau of Echos is a long one with its 419 pages! This book will keep you guessing as to what is going to happen next!

Homespun Christmas was one of the first inspirational fiction books I ever read!

Stranded in Paradise is a very easy read!

In case you need a place to purchase these books in the Raleigh, NC area...go to: Family Christian Bookstore

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My new fuzzy slippers

How are slippers food related, you may ask...Well, they're not! I have this thing for warm fuzzy socks and slippers. I just like them. I like my feet to be super warm so I pair up socks and slippers to make sure they are toasty!

Here is a picture of my newest pair of fuzzy slippers. Aren't they cute?

I got these for $3.00 on Black Friday. What a deal!

I think electric slippers are a great idea! Have you ever seen them? I haven't...maybe I should patent that idea...too late...I just let my secret out to the world.

Today is the first official day of winter...a great day to buy yourself a new pair of fuzzy slippers!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stock the kitchen for Christmas (or any time)

I received an email from Organizational management, who shared with me their blog post about stocking the is a preview:

Spices Cupboard

If you aren’t familiar with go-to spices, you want to get acquainted starting now. Spices can make all the difference in your cooking and can take a cheap cut of meat from drab to fab. Technically, they aren’t all spices, but they’re all used to add a kick to main dishes, soups and stews.

1. Garlic powder. For those evenings when you aren’t in the mood to mince fresh garlic, garlic powders adds the same garlic-y goodness with just a few sprinkles .

2. Sea salt. It’s healthier than regular salt and if you’re a fan of coarse salt, sea salt will knock your socks off.

3. Various types of whole or ground pepper. Fresh ground black pepper is brilliant, but check out white and pink pepper which add an interesting dimension.

4. Sage. Perhaps a vastly underused spice, ground sage is ideal for homemade rubs and marinades and pairs well with chicken.

5. Red chili flakes. A few red chili flakes can make all of the difference when making chicken or beef.

6. Chili powder. Use it for basic chili recipes, but also for fish tacos.

7. Bay leaves. Even a dried bay leaf can add significant warmth to stews or a slow-cooked bolognese.

8. Ground coriander. We’d never choose ground coriander over the real deal, but for some dishes, this spice adds a fresh element that can’t be captured with anything else.

9. Onion powder. If your family is finicky about onions, use onion powder to add the same aroma without getting bits of onion all over the food .

10. Cumin. Ground cumin is one of our favorite spices to work with, especially when making soups or working with pork.

11. Ground mustard. Add serious intensity to your beef with ground mustard.

12. Cayenne pepper. It’s delicious for chicken and can also be used to make Mexican hot chocolate.

13. Paprika. Paprika is a secret ingredient for many for cooking up the perfect burger.

14. Basic steak seasoning. This can be a Montreal steak seasoning or any seasoning meant for beef that your family enjoys.

15. Dried thyme. This is one dried herb that can almost stand up to its fresh counterpart. We love it on pork and in breads.

Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies make a great snack on their own and add some color and nutrition to many dishes.

16. Potatoes. You decide the type (we suggest red potatoes and leaving the skin on), but potatoes are brilliant for roasting in the winter and grilling in the summer.

17. Mushrooms. Portobello mushrooms can be a tad pricey depending on where you live, but they add a hearty punch to many dishes and can beef up quantity when you’re feeding guests.

18. Onions. Onions of every type rank high on our list of veggies to have in the fridge at all times. Shallots, red onions, white onions and chives are some of our favorites (and the most versatile).

19. Leafy green lettuce. Forget about the iceberg. There’s no nutritional value and seldom any flavor. Instead go for romaine or any leafy green lettuce that is rich in color and texture.

20. Bell peppers. No matter what color you choose, bell peppers are delicious fresh or sauteed.

21. Garlic. If you can get used to adding fresh garlic to many meals, you’ll discover that it adds a memorable flavor. If you don’t like mincing, invest in a microplane and grate garlic directly over your saucepan or pot.

22. Apples. A good apple makes a fabulous snack on its own, but it also works well with real honey, plain yogurt and various cheeses.

23. Bananas. A banana works by itself and is brilliant on a slice of toast with Nutella.

24. Lemons and limes. Both are a must for whipping up your own quick marinades or garnishing a drink.

25. Oranges. Throw them in a salad or get your vitamin C by noshing on it straight up.

The post is entitled: Perfect Pantry: 80 Essential Ingredients for a Well-Stocked Kitchen

Click the highlighted link to view the rest of the article.

If you like that article, check out: 23 tips for getting your fridge and freezer organized

Articles about saving money on groceries, by me:

Monday, December 13, 2010

A cheesy snack

Ever crave something even though you KNOW its not really good for you? You know you have...we all do!

Anyway, that was me at the grocery store the other day. I saw the Velveeta cheese (I know, I know...fake cheese) and wanted to eat it. So, I bought a package and a can of diced tomatoes with chili's along with a bag of tortilla chips and today I went to town!

I just made up a batch of cheese dip by cutting the cheese into chunks and adding them to the crock pot with the can of tomatoes. Then, my son and I scooped some into a bowl (when it was all melted) and we just had a snack.

I have to say, it hit the spot!
Did you ever hear the saying: "If you are craving something it is because your body needs something in it?"
Yeah....wonder what that could have been today?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cookies...make them, eat them, give them away!

Aren't cookies great?I love cookies! I wrote an article about The History of Cookies that you might find interesting.

This week, Kraft Delicious Days is sharing great articles and videos about cookies as well.

If you are a novice or a pro baker, chances are you can make cookies! Here are some of my new favorite cookie recipes:

Mint Chocolate chip cookie recipe

Chocolate covered raisin cookie recipe

Peanut butter and M&M cookie recipe

Peanut butter ball recipe

Here are some great tips for freezing your cookies...we all bake way too many!

I like to freeze my cookies in storage bags made for the freezer. I place about 12 cookies down flat in the bag (place the bag flat on the counter to begin with your first layer of cookies), then place a sheet of waxed paper on top of that layer. I then, place another 12 cookies on top of the waxed paper. I put about 3 layers per freezer bag. I have tried to freeze my cookies in store bought containers. To my experience, they tend to crack and break apart.

Generally, if you have cookies that need to be frosted, do not frost them before you freeze them. Freeze the cookies and after you defrost them, apply the frosting. However, I make a family cookie that requires a frosting made from powdered sugar and water, and I frost my cookie before I freeze them, and it always defrosts wonderfully! Just use your judgment.

  • Cool cookies before placing them in the freezer.
  • If you are making several different types of cookies to freeze, freeze like cookies together. This way, your different flavors will not mix.
  • Be sure to write the date you baked the cookies on your bags. You may also want to write what type of cookies is inside each bag.
Cookies make great Christmas gifts. You can wrap them in plastic wrap and tie it with a ribbon or add them into a box, plastic container or tin and adorn it with a ribbon. Everyone loves cookies!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Homemade Christmas gift ideas

It is that time of year again! Time to make the gifts! Here are some craft ideas to get you started on your Christmas gift crafts this year. All of them are really easy and do not require a lot of funky supplies :)

Candy gift ideas for children

For more ideas: Homemade Christmas gifts by the National Christmas Examiner

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saving money: Learn from chefs and experts!

Once again, Kraft Delicious Days has brought us some new information! As I was browsing through the site, I found a link to, "Learn from chefs and experts".

One of my favorite articles is by, Gail Simmons. Her project is called, "The Pantry Project". She teaches how to use items in the pantry to make up meals! This is a great way to save a few dollars each month.

One of my favorite ways to save money on my grocery bill is to make my own spices! Pumpkin pie spice, for instance, can cost $4 or more for a small bottle at the grocery store. If you bought the ingredients seperately and make your own, you can save up to $30! Read how: Pumpkin pie spice recipe While checking out the pumpkin pie spice recipe, take a look at some of the other spice recipes listed at the bottom of the article: such as chai spice and cinnamon sugar!

My Easy banana bread recipe calls for cinnamon sugar as an ingredient.

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