Friday, December 23, 2011

Honey Garlic Glazed Meatballs


2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons butter
3/4 cut ketchup
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce


In a large bowl combine eggs and milk.  Add the bread crumbs, onion and salt.  Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.  Shape into 1 inch balls.  Place in two greased 15x10 inch baking pans.  Bake, uncovered at 400 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute garlic in butter until tender.  Stir in the ketchup, honey and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Drain meatballs, add to sauce.  Carefully stir to evenly coat.  Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Yield: 5 1/2 dozen

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pasta Soup

What you need:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1½ cups water
  • 16 ounces chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup uncooked ditalini pasta (short tube-shaped macaroni)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
Equipment and supplies:
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knife for chopping
  • Large stock pot
What to do:
  1. Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat. (Be sure to get an adult's help when using the stove.)
  2. Add onion and sauté until lightly browned.
  3. Add water and next 6 ingredients.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add pasta and cook additional 10 minutes, or until pasta is tender but not overcooked.
  6. Stir in parsley.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nutty Bones

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup brown sugar
12 tbs. butter
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup vanilla extract
2 tbs. toasted wheat germ

Combine ingredients, knead until thoroughly blended. Roll out till 1/2" thick. Cut into shapes or just squares. Bake at 375F on ungreased cookie sheet for 12-15minutes. Cool. Store in airtight container. Keeps 2 weeks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Health Benefits of Epsom Salt

Most of us know about the importance of iron and calcium for our bodies, but what about magnesium? It is the second most abundant element in human cells and the fourth most important positively charged ion in the body. It helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.

Most of us are deficient in magnesium, so I’m going to put on my wise-granny hat on here and tell you this: soaking in a bath with Epsom salt, which is high in magnesium, is one of the easiest ways to get a boost.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, American’s magnesium deficiency helps to account for high rates of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive maladies, stress-related illnesses, chronic fatigue and a number of other ailments. Who knew?!

Our magnesium levels have dropped by half in the last century due to changes in agriculture and diet. Industrial farming has depleted magnesium from soil and the typical American diet contains much less magnesium than that of our forefathers. And in fact, the modern American diet with its fat, sugar, salt and protein actually works to speed up the depletion of magnesium from our bodies.

Another factor in decreased magnesium levels has been our focus on getting enough calcium. It’s a delicate dance–calcium depletes magnesium yet calcium functions best when enough magnesium is present. Studies indicate that taking a calcium supplement without enough magnesium can increase the shortage of both nutrients. Researchers have found that many Americans have five times as much calcium as magnesium in their bodies, although the proper ratio for optimum absorption of both minerals is two to one.

With such widespread magnesium deficiency one might think that magnesium supplements would be called upon, but studies show that magnesium is not easily absorbed through the digestive tract. The presence of specific foods or drugs, certain medical conditions, and the chemistry of a person’s stomach acid can render magnesium supplements ineffective.

This brings us to Epsom salt. Known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath enriched with Epsom salt! Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants.

Researchers and physicians suggest these health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels, as listed on the web site of the Epsom Salt Industry Council:
  • Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
  • Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
  • Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
  • Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
  • Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
  • Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
  • Improved oxygen use.
  • Improved absorption of nutrients.
  • Improved formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.
  • Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.
All this from a bath? Hurray! While there are many different brands of Epsom salt, they are all the same product chemically, and can be found at most drug stores. Add two cups of Epsom salt and soak for at least 12 minutes. Do this three times weekly.

If you are pregnant or have any health concerns, please check with your doctor before using Epsom salts.

Best Sore Muscle Bath

Know what professional runners do after racing to prevent and ease sore muscles? Ice bath–brrrrr. Personally, I’ll take the achy muscles over submerging myself in a tub of ice water, thank you very much. As it turns out, I’ve come up with a pretty good alternative to the ice bath. It uses warm (yay) water, Epsom salt, and pure essential oils to make a bath that is as comforting to the muscles as it is to the spirit.

I may be Epsom salt’s number one fan. As unsexy an ingredient as it may sound (it brings to mind images of a foot bath for stinky feet), Epsom salt is a miracle ingredient for health and wellness. (Read my full love letter to Epsom salt here.) As it pertains to muscle aches, Epsom salt is fabulous! To that add the following pure essential oils: Eucalyptus for purifying, oxygenating and energizing, this oil also possesses antitoxin qualities and helps heal blisters and other skin irritations. Juniper to stimulate the lymphatic system, and also great for deep cleansing, and rosemary for detoxifying, energizing and uplifting. Not only will this bath ease and prevent further muscle pain, but will restore your energy levels.

Here’s what to do. To a warm bath add:

2 cups of Epsom salt
3 drops eucalyptus oil
3 drops juniper oil
3 drops rosemary oil
Soak for at least 20 minutes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

3 Healing Scents for the Holidays

Of all our senses, there is only one that is directly hard-wired to the brain, making it one of the most powerful and often underrated of our senses: our sense of smell.

Amazingly enough there is still a good deal of debate over how our sense of smell actually works, but there is little debate over its significance. To begin with, seventy to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste comes from our sense of smell alone! It gives us cues to understand if something is toxic, pleasant, yummy, or rotten. But it can do more than stimulate our appetite or warn us of spoiled food. Our sense of smell vividly links us to memories, eases tension and stimulates both body and mind.

During the seasonal change that we are currently experiencing, bringing warm or bright scents into your home can reawaken pleasant moments from the past, stimulate the immune system, and provide a welcoming atmosphere for guests.

Next: What oil is an anti-depressant, can boost brain activity and also smells delicious?
Cinnamon’s sweet, warm, spicy scent is reminiscent of mulled cider and pumpkin pie. This wonderfully rich essential oil provides for a cozy feel while stimulating the mind and uplifting the spirit.
Perfect for diffusing before guests arrive or simply adding to your natural household cleaners, cinnamon is a surprisingly useful oil to keep around the house.

Cinnamon: Cinnamonum zeylanicum

Health benefits of Cinnamon essential oil:

Highly anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, cinnamon is an antidepressant, a powerful antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, emotional stimulant, and general tonic.

· improves digestion, and calms spasms, colitis, flatulence, diarrhea and nausea
· reduces depression and the pain and frequency of headaches
· eases painful rheumatic joints as well as general aches and pains
· can be used to treat bronchitis, asthma, Athlete’s Foot, Candida, diarrhea, coughs, and fungal infections
· increases blood flow, and is a stimulating and uplifting aphrodisiac
· it may even be able to regulate diabetes and high blood pressure

Words of Caution: If applied topically, cinnamon must be highly diluted, as it is a very “hot” essential oil, and can easily burn the skin. The common recommendation is a dilution of less than 1% concentration in a carrier oil. Always do a small test spot with your diluted oil to check for sensitivity or allergic reaction. If pregnant or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Not to be used with children less than 5 years old.

Next: What essential oil eases anxiety, improves energy and concentration, all with a citrus note?
Rather than cutting down a tree to bring back memories of childhood holidays, enjoy the sweet, spicy, woody and citrus notes of pine essential oil.

Besides the enjoyable smell, pine essential oil is wonderful for stress relief, helpful in cleaning and can give you a boost of energy!

Pine: Pinus sylvestris

Health Benefits of Pine essential oil:

Antibacterial, analgesic, diuretic, energizing, antiseptic, and aromatic. Contains powerful phenols (acidic chemicals that have germ-killing properties.)

· improves energy, concentration and mental clarity, as well as relieving stress, anxiety and nervous tension
· is used as a diuretic, to help urinary tract infections, and to treat intestinal problems
· soothes arthritis and other joint issues
· treats infections and injuries, helps respiratory problems
· increases metabolism and acts as a stimulant
· kills germs and mildew
· is also used in skin care and cosmetics

Words of Caution: Pine oil has a low human toxicity level, but it can irritate skin and mucous membranes. Always test a small amount of essential oil first for sensitivity or allergic reaction. Be cautious with using pine essential oil topically for small children and elderly individuals, as it can possibly cause hypertension. If pregnant or under a doctor’s care, consult a physician.

Next: What essential oil is both refreshing, relaxing and can help ward off the common cold?
Who doesn’t love the smell of a fresh orange being peeled? The bright, sweet, citrus scent of orange essential oil is a wonderful addition to any day.

This light and cheery oil is also a perfect blend with cinnamon when you’re looking for a delicious, energizing and soothing blend.

Orange: Citrus sinensis*

Health Benefits of Orange Essential Oil:

Anticoagulant, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, bactericidal, carminative, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, fungicidal, hypotensive, stimulant, stomachic, general tonic.

· can be used to boost immunity, and treat colds, the flu, stress-induced asthma, and coughs
· eases indigestion, constipation, dyspepsia, and flatulence
· helps to maintain healthy skin, and treat dermatitis, dull skin and wounds
· can help ease symptoms of depression, insomnia, tension, and hypertension
· treats infections, muscle aches and pains, slow circulation, and disorders of the mouth and gums
· can also used as an aphrodisiac (another reason it’s a great partner for cinnamon)

Words of Caution: Orange oil has photo-toxic properties (if worn on the skin, it may cause a reaction in sunlight). The taste of orange oil is bitter, and if ingested in excess can result in vomiting, nausea, or loss of appetite.

*Sweet Orange Essential Oil is the oil produced from the fruit peel of the orange tree and is not to be mistaken for other orange essential oils such as ‘bitter orange’, petitgrain (produced from the leaves of the orange tree) and neroli (produced from the blossoms).

Enjoy the season and all the wonderful sights, sounds and smells there are to be had!

Mulling Sachets

They're warmhearted gifts: spice bundles for hot cider. Cut cheesecloth into two 6-inch rounds; layer. In center, place 1/2-inch cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 2 pods cardamom, 4 black peppercorns, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. Tie with twine. Set several in tin, and tie with bow and holly sprig. Adhere decorative label.

Attach a note with the following directions: "Place one sachet in mug, fill with hot cider, and steep 3 to 5 minutes."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deb's Lemon Chess Pie

 1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 stick margarine, melted
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon corn meal, self-raising
1 teaspoon lemon flavor
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

In a large bowl, mix together, sugar and margarine until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time beating after each one, vinegar, corn meal, and lemon flavor. Mix well. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until firm in the middle. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 pear - peeled, cored and sliced


  1. In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.
  2. In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Edible Veggie Bowl

  • 1 green, yellow, or red pepper, washed
  • 1 bunch of celery, washed
  • 1 carrot, washed and peeled
  • your favorite salad dressing
  • knife (you'll need help from your adult assistant)
  • cutting board
  1. Cut the pepper in half (from side to side). Clean out the seeds and gunk from the inside. Now you have two pieces. One will be your pepper-shaped bowl.
  2. Cut the other half of the pepper into skinny slices.
  3. Cut the carrot into skinny sticks about 4" long.
  4. Cut celery into skinny sticks so each one is about 4" long.
  5. Put a little salad dressing in the bottom of your pepper bowl.
  6. Put celery sticks, carrot sticks, and pepper slices into the pepper bowl.
  7. Now you've got a portable veggie treat! You can pull out the veggies and eat them with a little dressing. Then when you're finished with the veggies, it's time to eat the bowl!

Oh So Delicious Oatmeal

  • 1 c. water
  • ½ c. rolled oats
  • dash of salt
  • ¼ c. applesauce
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • cooking pot
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • stove (you'll need help from your adult assistant)
  • mixing spoon
  • serving bowl
  1. Pour the water, oats, and salt into a medium-size pot on the stovetop.
  2. Heat the mixture until it boils, then turn the heat to low.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the applesauce and cinnamon.
  4. Cook on low heat and continue to stir the mixture for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the oatmeal into a bowl and sprinkle the brown sugar on top.
  6. Allow the oatmeal to cool for a minute before digging in.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oatmeal Cookie Treats

2 cups rice
2 packages Reg. Flavor oatmeal (mixed w/milk)
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup carrots
1/3 cup spinach
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tbsp brown gravy mix
4 tbsp applesauce
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350degrees Stir Ingredients, but adding flour gradually. Drop on cookie sheet using tsp. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes approx. 20 cookies. Enjoy!!!

Herb Treats

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup cracked wheat

For the Glaze - 1 egg, 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 325 ° F (165 ° C).

In a large bowl,dissolve yeast in water. Add stock, oil, cheese, drymilk, and herbs. Gradually blend in the flours and cracked wheat. Add enough wheat flour to form a stiff dough.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball and roll to 1/2-inch (12 mm) thick. Using round or crescent-shaped cookie cutters, cut out treats. Place on ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4-inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk for the glaze. Brush the biscuits with glaze, turn and brush other side. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool overnight.

Makes about 4 dozen 3-inch (7.5 cm) treats.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Minty Fresh Facial Toner Formula

Mint has taken over a patch of the garden, and it smells so delicious it would be a shame to waste it. But even if you get your mint dried from the store, this one-ingredient super-simple formula that turns mint into a lovely ally for more beautiful skin is worth knowing about.

Just wait until you see how simple this is to make, and what luscious things it does. Smoothing, hydrating, and toning: mint does it all. Whether you use fresh or dried mint, this is one of the most deliciously scented refreshers around. Here’s the easy formula:


1 generous tablespoon dried mint, crumbled
or 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1. Cover mint with 1 1/2 cups boiling water and steep for 10 minutes.
2. Strain and reserve the liquid, and allow to cool before using (refrigerate for a real cooling treat!).
3. Apply with cotton pads or use in a mister. Allow to dry on the skin naturally: no need to rinse off.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Make a Festive Wreath

Decorate a Festive Wreath

A fun craft for kids

These all-recycled wreaths are great for hanging on the door to greet your visitors.

For one wreath you will need:

Cardboard (pizza box tops work great)
A dinner plate and a slightly smaller round stencil
Pen or pencil
Box cutter
Mod Podge or other craft glue
Decorative paper scraps (leftover wrapping paper, tissue paper or florist paper)
Assorted greeting cards

1) Use the plate to stencil a circle onto the cardboard. Center a smaller stencil inside the first circle, and trace around it with a pen or pencil. Cut out the circles with a box cutter to make a cardboard ring.

2) Cut the scrap paper into 1 inch squares. Using the paintbrush, spread a bit of mod podge onto the cardboard ring. Place a square of paper over the glue, then brush with a thin layer of mod podge to smooth.

3) Continue adding squares of paper until the entire ring is covered, over lapping each square slightly. Add 2 or more layers until the cardboard no longer shows through. Allow each layer to dry before adding the next one.

4) Cut assorted festive shapes from the greeting cards. Arrange the pieces on the wreath until you are satisfied with the design. Apply the card shapes to the wreath with mod podge, and allow to dry.

5) Decorate the wreath with glitter if you wish, and hang from a door or window with a push pin.

You can also attach a string to the wreath for easy hanging. Simply staple a length of string to the back of the cardboard ring before adding the paper squares. Cover the staples with paper as you work to secure them.

7 Homemade Gifts You Can Make In A Mason Jar

The holidays are just around the corner, and it’s a good idea to get started if you’re planning to have a handmade holiday this season. I’m not a big believer in “stuff,” but I do love showing my friends and family that I love them by whipping up handmade creations during this time of year.

As I was researching and compiling a list of simple handmade gifts, I realized that most of my list had one thing in common: Mason jars! Whether you’re making food mixes, beauty products, or cute home accessories, you can use your stash of Mason jars to create handmade gifts that everyone on your list will love!

1. Cookie Mix
Layer your dry ingredients in a quart-sized Mason jar, and tie directions to the jar that list the wet ingredients and cooking directions. Easy peasy! Need a recipe to get you going? This vegan chocolate chip cookie jar mix is a sure crowd-pleaser.

2. Lentil Soup Mix
It’s chilly out there, so the foodies on your list are sure to appreciate a cozy bowl of curried lentil soup! Just layer a pint jar with:
  • 1/2c organic green lentils
  • spice mixture (for each jar, mix up 1/2t tumeric, 3/4t ground cardamom, 1/4t cinnamon, 1/4t cloves, 1/4t freshly ground pepper, and 1/8t ground nutmeg)
  • 1c organic jasmine or basmati rice
  • enough organic red lentils to fill the jar the rest of the way
Attach a tag to the jar listing these ingredients and cooking directions:
You’ll also need:
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8c water
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • salt (to taste)
In a large pot over medium heat cook the onions for about 5 minutes in the olive oil, and then add the garlic. Cook for a total of about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and turn translucent.
Add the water and soup mix to the pot and bring to a simmer. Turn down low, and cook until the lentils and rice are cooked and very soft (about 45 minutes).

Add the coconut milk, and bring back to a simmer, adding salt to taste, and serve. Enjoy!

3. Preserves, Jams, and Jellies
Do you have a bounty of late fall fruit in the fridge or freezer? Get canning, and you’ve got instant gifts that the foodies on your list will love. Just make sure you’re using solid canning recipes! I’m a big fan of Food in Jars for good, seasonal canning recipes. Is proper canning is a bit overwhelming for you? Don’t fret! Try making delicious, simple freezer jams or a tasty chutney instead!

4. Hot Cocoa Mix
Another cozy treat for the holidays is hot cocoa mix. You can make this rich cocoa recipe vegan by substituting more semi-sweet chocolate (Whole Foods makes a vegan semi-sweet chocolate chip). On the instructions, you can tell your giftees to simmer the ingredients in dairy milk, or to make a vegan version, they can use almond or coconut milk instead. Decadent!
5. Sugar or Salt Scrub
Treat the folks on your list to a decadent sugar or salt scrub! In half-pint Mason jars, combine 2 parts sugar or salt with one part olive oil, then add a custom scent with your favorite essential oils. For the ladies, you can go with flower scents like lavender or rose. The fellas on your list will probably prefer woodsier scents, like sandalwood or rosemary. Have fun with it! Mix up essential oils and experiment!

6. Terrarium
A terrarium is a great way to bring a little bit of greenery to anyone’s home in the winter. Just layer a large mason jar with rocks, a bit of dirt, and a layer of moss, then decorate with woodsy little accessories. CRAFT has a great tutorial on making a Mason jar terrarium.

7. Etched Glass Votive Holders
Armed with a jar of etching cream, you can customize pint sized Mason jars into sweet little votive holders. Just make stencils out of contact paper, apply the cream, and rinse to decorate the jar. Then, fill it about 1/3 of the way with lentils, rice, or other dried beans and add a tea light on top.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Southern Fried Chicken




  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • About 1 cup hot red pepper sauce
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • House seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1 (1 to 2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into pieces
  • Oil, for frying, preferably peanut oil


In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange. In another bowl, combine the flour and pepper. Season the chicken with the house seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour mixture.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.

Fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer then white meat. It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes.

House Seasoning:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter

  • 1½ c. unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
  • food processor (you'll need help from your adult assistant)
  • bowl
  • mixing spoon
  • storage container
  • measuring cups and spoons
For smooth peanut butter:
  1. Mix the peanuts with the peanut oil, and pour the mixture into the food processor.
  2. Process the mixture until it's very smooth.
  3. Store your smooth peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It will be good for 2 weeks.
For chunky peanut butter:
  1. Take about ¼ cup out of your 1½ cups of peanuts and set them aside.
  2. Mix the rest of the peanuts with the oil, and pour the mixture into the food processor.
  3. Process the mixture until it's very smooth, then stir in the peanuts that you had set aside.
  4. Process a few seconds more to create the chunks in your chunky peanut butter.
  5. Store your chunky peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It will be good for 2 weeks.

Tomato Soup

Note: For this recipe, you'll need to use a knife and put the soup pot on the stove, so get help from a grownup. This soup works as a packed lunch if you use a thermos. It also can be frozen in individual containers for future use.

Prep time: 40-50 minutes
What you need:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz.) box of low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup basil, chopped
  • ¾ cup alphabet shaped pasta
Equipment and supplies
  • Large Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed stock pot
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
What to do:
  1. Place olive oil into the large pot over medium heat. (Adult help needed here!)
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in vegetable stock and crushed tomatoes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Stir in basil and pasta and cook until pasta is tender, about 5 additional minutes. Serve hot.

Berry Muffins

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. oatmeal
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. blueberries, washed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. milk
  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • oven (you'll need help from your adult assistant)
  • mixing spoon
  • 2 large bowls
  • fork
  • muffin/cupcake tin
  • paper muffin/cupcake liners
  • wire rack for cooling muffins
  • measuring cups and spoons
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Mix in blueberries.
  4. In another bowl, break the egg and use a fork to beat it just a little bit. Then add the milk and vegetable oil, and mix.
  5. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl.
  6. Using a mixing spoon, mix about 25 or 30 times. Don't mix too much! Your muffin mixture should be lumpy, not smooth.
  7. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or lightly spray with nonstick spray. Spoon in the muffin mix. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way up.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  9. When muffins are finished baking, remove from muffin tin and cool them on a wire rack.
  10. Enjoy your berry tasty muffins!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beefy Doggie Cookies

2 6-once jars of beef-and-vegetable baby food
1 cup of wheat germ
2 cups of nonfat dry milk

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a fork. Drop by small spoonfuls onto a greased pan. You can flatten slightly or you can cut into fun shapes such as bones, paws, ect. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly brown at the edges. Let cool. Store in fridge for up to one week. Give to your pooch and let them enjoy!

Beef and Rice Moochies


1 jar babyfood, dinner, vegetables and beef, strained
2 1/2 cups flour, all-purpose
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rice
1 package unflavored gelatin
1 whole egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup powdered milk
1 package yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 beef bouillon cube


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Add yeast, egg, oil, baby food and dissolved beef bouillon. Mix well. Mixture will be very dry, knead with hands until it forms a ball. Roll out on floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness, cut in 1 or 2 inch circles. Bake on un-greased cookie sheet 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

Big Boy Beef Biscuits

1/2 cup dry milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon parsley
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 small (2.5 oz) jar beef baby food
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cracked wheat

For the Glaze - 1 egg, 2 tablespoons beef broth

Preheat oven to 325 ° F (165 ° C).

In a large bowl, combine the dry milk, egg garlic, parsley, oil, honey, baby food, and broth. Gradually blend in the flours and cracked wheat. Add enough wheat flour to form a stiff dough.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/2-inch (12 mm) thick. Using bone-shaped cookie cutters, make biscuits! Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits.

Bake for 30 minutes. Whisk together the egg and broth for the glaze. Brush biscuits with the glaze on both sides. Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool overnight.

Makes several dozen small bones that freeze well. Or 2 1/2 to 3 dozen large bones, depending on the size of cookie cutter you use.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Body Lotion

I’ve been meaning to create my own body lotion for some months now. I switched over to making my own face cream, but couldn’t find a recipe for body lotion that I liked. I wanted something just as pure and natural as my face cream (shea butter, apricot oil and essential oil) but less thick and easier to spread on my entire body – my face cream is mostly shea butter, so it’s super thick.

I finally decided this morning to just bite the bullet and experiment. How hard could it be to make a thinner cream? I kept thinking I needed to add water, but then I’d need an emulsifying agent to mix the water and oil for all time, and that’s the part the kept stopping me up. Then it hit me, I could just use more oil and less shea. Ah ha! So that’s what I did. I basically reversed the amounts of oil and shea from my face cream, and since I wanted something sweeter smelling for the winter season, I decided to try using vanilla extract for the scent – I don’t know any better, so why not? I tried it on a sample and it smelled great. Vanilla-y. Imagine that.

Here’s my recipe:
8 Tbs. Jajoba oil
4 Tbs. Apricot oil
6 Tbs. Shea butter
3 Tbs. Pure vanilla extract

Using a glass container (I used a 4C Pyrex measuring cup with spout – this makes it easy to transfer the lotion to your jar later) combine the shea butter and oils. Heat on low heat, around 170-200 for 5-8 minutes. I used a toaster oven for this and it worked perfectly. Mix oils thoroughly and add your essential oil or vanilla extract for fragarance. Mix. Let cool, pour into jar or bottle. I reused the jajoba oil bottle, though mine was perfectly emptied by the 8 Tbs. I used. I suggest reusing some type of squeeze or pump bottle for this lotion.

After writing this, I went back and tried my fully-cooled lotion, and decided I wanted it just a bit thicker, so I added another 2Tbs. of shea butter. This is like any recipe in that you may tailor it to your personal preferences. Have fun!

One Ingredient Face Masks

So here, we’re making healthy skin even easier for you–with one-ingredient, all-natural, DIY facials with common supplies you can easily find right out of your refrigerator shelf or kitchen cabinet.
If you want pretty and healthy skin, don’t skimp on the bare-bone basics. Be sure to always drink lots of water and wear sunscreen moisturizer.

1. Honey.  Use a cloth damp with warm water and pat skin to open pores. Smear honey onto skin and leave on for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, and pat skin dry with cloth damp with cold water to close pores.

2. Raw egg yolk. Spread on face and neck and leave on skin for 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water.

3. Raw egg white. Beat egg white until frothy and spread on face. Wait until it dries and rinse off with warm water.

4. Grapes. Cut one grape in half and rub lightly all over face.

5. Banana. Mash one overripe banana and spread onto face. Rinse off after 15 to 30 minutes with warm water.

6. Plain yogurt. Apply on face after cleansing and leave on for 15 – 20 minutes.

7. Apple cider vinegar.  Dilute apple cider vinegar with two parts water and apply over face with a cotton ball as a toner after washing face every day and every night.

8. Olive oil. Dab on lips at bedtime if chapped or leave on face overnight.

9. Avocado. Mash avocado, leave on skin for ten minutes.

10. Baking soda.  Use as exfoliant for face by adding to your regular cleanser.

11. Milk. Seriously? Yes, seriously. Swab on face with cotton ball, leave on until your skin feels tight. Rinse off with warm water. Your skin will feel super-soft afterwards.

Homemade Detox Baths

Baths are wonderfully healing, and it is easy to make your own homemade, detox baths.

Hot water draws toxins out of the body to the skin’s surface, and while the water cools it pulls toxins from the skin, according to Naturopath Dr. Hazel Parcells. Epsom salts augment this detoxification by causing you to sweat. Other salts—all highly alkaline and cleansing—used in baths include sea salt, baking soda, clay, and Dead Sea salts.

Basic Salt Soak Bath Formula

Minerals and salts make the bath water feel silky and leave your skin cleansed and soft.

1 cup sea salts
2 cups baking soda
1 cup Epsom salts
1 to 2 tablespoons glycerin per bath

Combine the sea salts, baking soda, and Epsom salts in a bowl. Stir to blend. Pour 1/4 cup or so into the bath while the tub is filling. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons glycerin to keep your skin from drying out (more for dry skin, less for oily skin) and essential oils of choice.

Preparation time: 2 to 3 minutes
Shelf life: Indefinite
Storage: Glass jar with a screw top

Caution: Do not take hot baths and salt baths (including Epsom salt baths) if you have heart trouble, high blood pressure, or are diabetic.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
2 gallons of water)

Mix together and I use 1/3 cup for each load of laundry.

One note about this detergent: Washing soda is rather harsh, so never put it directly onto your laundry. (I know this from first-hand "how did this fabric get a hole in it while I washed it?!" experience.) Just to be on the safe side, I start running water in the washer, add my detergent, and then start adding the laundry. :)

10 Breakfast Cereals to Avoid

A bowl of cereal alone shouldn’t give you or your kids the shakes first thing in the morning. But considering the amount of sugar in these breakfast favorites, don’t be too surprised if you start feeling a little rattled. Here are some of the least healthful breakfast cereals marketed directly to children according to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, which studied 277 different types of cereal and ranked them based on a variety of health factors. Don’t be surprised if they’re among your adult favorites too. (This might just change your grocery shopping habits.)

10. Froot Loops

These colorful loops, not surprisingly, are among the least healthful breakfast cereals. Regular Froot Loops are 41 percent sugar and 10 percent fiber, plus red, blue and yellow dyes. But the Marshmallow version is even worse. They’re 48 percent sugar and 7 percent fiber.

9. Corn Pops

Certain cereals are just as sugary as a glazed doughnut, according to Consumer Reports findings last year. “We studied how 91 youngsters, ages 6 to 16, poured their cereal and found that, on average, they served themselves about 50 percent to 65 percent more than the suggested serving size for three of the four tested cereals,” it said. Corn Pops are 41 percent sugar and have no fiber at all, according to Rudd Center studies.
8. Reese’s Puffs

“Reese’s Puffs is an interesting case because it’s the worst brand in terms of nutrition in our study,” and much of its advertising targets African Americans, notes Jennifer Harris, Rudd Center marketing director. “In its TV advertising, there are only black actors and on their Web site, it’s all about Reese’s puffs raps with black animated characters saying ‘get your bling,’” Harris explains. African Americans already have higher rates of obesity, so that was disturbing. Reese’s Puffs are 41 percent sugar and 3 percent fiber, and contain red, yellow and blue dyes.

7. Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles

These colorful breakfast bits have at least one redeeming quality: they’re fairly high in fiber. But that “doesn’t make a huge difference. The sugar is really the most disturbing thing about this. All Americans eat too much sugar, and if you serve that much sugar at breakfast, that takes up their sugar allocation for the day,” Harris says.
Plus, the Post cereals website,, features games for kids that aren’t accessible unless you have a Post token, which you can only get by buying the cereal, Harris notes. And the majority of these kid-focused cereal websites feature breakfast favorites with poor nutrition ratings, the Rudd study found. Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles are 37 percent sugar and 10 percent fiber, and clearly may leach brightly colored dye into your milk.
6. Frosted Flakes
“If you look at marketing literature and market research, it shows that the earlier you introduce brands to children and the more feelings you can associate with your brand, the more they’ll be involved in the brand,” Harris says. Enter Tony the Tiger. Frosted Flakes are 37 percent sugar and 3 percent fiber. The lower-sugar version is 26 percent sugar and doesn’t have any added artificial sweeteners.

5. Trix

With the “Trix are for kids” tagline, there’s no denying that the sugar-coated, colorful cereal is marketed to children as fun. And kids may be affected by these ads at a younger age that you might think. Two- to five-year-old kids saw sugary cereal ads more often (about 550 times per year) than adults (200 times per year). “The number of cereal advertisements viewed by preschoolers is disturbing. Children under age seven or eight years do not possess the cognitive abilities to understand the persuasive intent of advertising, and therefore have no ability to defend against its influence,” the Rudd Center report said.
“I’ve had many parents tell me their kids aren’t affected by ads,” says Harris, “[but] I think advertising affects kids in ways that parents don’t understand.” Trix are 38 percent sugar and 3 percent fiber, and contain red yellow and blue dyes.
4. Cocoa Puffs

This highly advertised chocolate lovers’ favorite is one of the worst when it comes to sugar, but at least there aren’t any artificial colors. And while it may be vitamin-fortified, among the cereal’s top three ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. And, as a bonus, fructose is added (we assume for good measure). Cocoa Puffs are 44 percent sugar and have 4 percent fiber.

3. Lucky Charms

Disturbingly, sometimes children’s cereals aren’t considered food so much as something to play with. “The same message is being used to market all of these cereals,” says Harris. “It’s all about fun.” In commercials, there’s so little information about the product that you might not even know it’s food, she adds. “This product is more of a toy than a food—a lot of them have bright colors and they come up with new shapes all the time.” Lucky Charms are 41 percent sugar and 4 percent fiber, and contain yellow, blue and red dyes, which brings them in as the third-worst cereal.
2. Honey Nut Cheerios

Honey Nut Cheerios are among a list of cereals advertised as “better for you” than other types of breakfast items, “however, these products are all significantly worse for you than other cereals in the General Mills portfolio,” according to the Rudd Center’s report. The cereal is touted as a “great tasting way to help lower your cholesterol,” according to the brand’s website. “Bring these … along as a snack while doing the activities you love, and you can show your heart some love all day long!” the site suggests. But as you lower your cholesterol, you may be raising your blood sugar, since Honey Nut Cheerios are 32 percent sugar and 7 percent fiber.

1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of the least healthful cereals marketed directly to kids based on sugar and fiber content and the presence of food dyes, among other factors, according to the Rudd Center. The researchers weren’t surprised to find that many sugary cereals are marketed to kids, but they didn’t expect to find that only sugary cereals target children, says Harris. “The more nutritious ones are marketed to parents, not kids,” she notes.
About 33 percent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch is sugar, according to the Center’s research, while its fiber content is only 3 percent . There’s a reduced sugar version of the breakfast favorite, but the sugar is replaced with Sucralose, an artificial sweetener.
Healthier Options
After digesting all of this sugar-crashing information, cereal lovers need not despair. Healthier options are available. Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats, for example, contain 10 percent fiber and as little as 2 percent sugar. If you’d prefer something a little sweeter, Kashi ranks as the best brand overall in terms of ingredients, according to the Rudd Center’s studies. And we’ve heard that Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, which is about 20 percent sugar, tastes just like Honey Smacks, which is about 56 percent sugar.

Holiday Shopping: How to Choose Meaning over Materialism

Thanksgiving is now over, which of course means it’s time for the kick-off of this year’s month-long shopping spree. The holiday season, if approached mindfully, offers a beautiful opportunity to connect with our loved ones and remind ourselves of what is truly important in life. But so often we give into the stress of holiday shopping and travel – which not only ruins the joy of the season, but also contributes to materialistic cultural practices that ignore the importance of sustainability and ethical business practices. So I’m suggesting three ways to make your holiday shopping more meaningful and less materialistic.

Make Something

Every year, someone in some magazine suggests homemade gifts as an affordable alternative. And every year, I scoffed. It couldn’t possibly be more economical – and less time-consuming – than just buying something from the store, I thought. But last year, I made baked goods for my relatives, and I saved both time and money. Not to mention the added bonus of avoiding the crowds at the mall. Similarly, I have a friend who knits beautiful hats, scarves, gloves, and mittens for everyone on her list. She has been doing it for years, and the first scarf she gave be is still one of my favorite accessories.

Share an Experience

Rather than buying something just for the sake of giving a gift, share an experience with a friend or family member. Take them out to a show or a restaurant. Or for something truly affordable, go on a hike or a picnic (if you live in a warmer climate). If the holiday season makes it impossible to find the time, give your gift recipient an I.O.U. and spend some time with them later in January, after the holiday rush is over. Sharing an experience is more memorable than simply buying something the recipient probably doesn’t need, and it strengthens the relationship. It also doesn’t add to the recipient’s clutter and fill up their closets.

Donate to a Charity

Instead of spending money on consumer goods, find a charity you believe in and send checks in the names of each person on your list. If you want to personalize the gift a bit more, find a charity you think each person on your list would care about. If you have an aunt who loves to cook, send a check in her name to an organization that combats hunger. If you have a friend who is a writer or loves to read, donate to an organization that supports literacy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reindeer Snack Mix


2 cups bugles
2 cups cheese flavored snack crackers
2 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup corn chex
1 cup bite size shredded wheat
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  In another bowl, combine the butter, syrup, worcestershire sauce, cajun seasoning and cayenne; pour over cereal mixture and toss to coat.

Transfer to an ungreased 15 x 10 inch baking pan.  Bake, uncovered at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Yield: 9 cups

No Oven Peanut Butter Squares


1 stick butter or margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 packages semi sweet baking chocolate


Line 13x9 inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan.   Set aside.

Melt butter in large microwavable bowl on high 45 seconds until melted.  Add sugar, cracker crumbs and peanut butter; mix well.  Spread into prepared pan.

Microwave chocolate in microwavable bowl on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring after each minute.  Cool slightly, then pour over peanut butter mixture in pan.  Cool.  Cut partially through dessert to make 48 squares.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.  Lift from pan, using foil handles.  Cut all the way through dessert into squares.

Food Quantities for a Crowd

When planning a buffet, use this guide to estimate how much you'll need per person.  Remember that if you offer more than one item from each category, the less you'll need per serving.


3/4 cups of coffee or tea
24 ounces of soft drinks, juices, lemonade or bottled water
1 cup of milk


1 to 2 slices of bread
1 buscuit, roll or muffin


1 cup of green salads
1/2 cup of fruit, potato or pasta salads


2 to 4 pickle slices or 1 pickle spear
3 olives
1 ounce of ketchup, mustard and pickle relish


1 teaspoon ( 1 pat) of butter or margarine for bread and rolls
1 ounce of sliced cheese for sandwiches
2 tablespoons of cream for coffee


1/2 cup of ice cream or frozen yogurt
1 portion of cake or pie


4 to 6 ounces of meat, fish or poultry
2 hot dogs
1 to 2 ounces of sliced luncheon meat


1 ounce of potato or corn chips
3 to 4 ounces of ice for beverages

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chocolate Candy Cane Cake


1 box chocolate cake mix
1 small size chocolate flavor instant pudding and pie filling
4 eggs
1 8z container sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 squares semi sweet baking chocolete, chopped
18 small candy canes, coarsely crushed, divided
1 8 oz tub whipped topping, thawed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.  Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened., stopping frequently to scrape side of bowl.  Beat on medium speed 2 minutes or until well blended.  Stir in chopped chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the crushed candy canes.  Spoon evenly into prepared pans.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cook 10 minutes.  Loosen cakes from sides of pans with metal spatula or knife.  Invert cakes onto wire racks; carefully remove pans.  Cool completely.

Place 1 of the cake layers on serving plate; spread evenly with 1 cup of the whipped topping.  Top with remaining cake layer.  Frost top and side of cake with remaining whipped topping.  Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy canes just before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Black Forest Delight


1 box devil's food cake mix
1 1/4 cups water, divided
1 small package cherry flavor gelatin
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tub french vanilla whipped topping, thawed
1/3 cup drain maraschino cherries, divided
1 square semi sweet baking chocolate, melted


Prepare and bake cake mix as directed on package in 2 9 inch round pans.  Run knife or metal spatula around sides of pans to loosen cake layers.  Cool 15 minutes.

Bring 1 cup of the water to boil; stir into dry gelatin mix until completely dissolved.  Add remaining 1/4 cup water.  Pierce cake layers with large fork at 1/2 inch intervals.  Carefully pour half of the gelatin mixture over each cake layer.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Mix sour cream and powdered sugar in medium bowl; gently stir in whipped topping.  Dip 1 cake pan in warm water 10 seconds; invert into serving plate.  Spread cake with 1 cup of the whipped topping mixture.  Reserve a few cherries for garnish.  Chop remaining cherries; sprinkle over cake.  Invert second cake layer onto wire rack; carefully place cake on first cake layer.  Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped topping mixture.  Drizzle with melted chocolate.  Garnish with reserved cherries.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Garden Pasta Sauce


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, unpeeled, cut into cubes
4 plumb tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
Hot cooked pasta
Grated parmesan cheese


Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.  Stir in eggplant, tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Cover; simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add zucchini; simmer, covered, an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve sauce over pasta; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Triple Layer Mud Pie


3 squares semi sweet baking chocolate, melted
1/4 cup canned sweetened condensed milk
1 chocolate pie crust
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 cups cold milk
2 packages ( 4 serving size ) chocolate flavor instant pudding and pie filling
1 8 oz tub whipped topping, thawed,divided


Mix chocolate and condensed milk until well blended.  Pour into crust; sprinkle with pecans.

Pour milk into large bowl.  Add dry pudding mixes.  Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended.  Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the pudding over pecans in crust.  Add half of the whipped topping to remaining pudding; stir with wire whisk until well blended.  Spread over pudding layer in crust; top with remaining whipped topping.

Refrigerate 3 hours.

Fire and Ice Centerpiece

Guests will be in awe when they catch sight of this unique holiday centerpiece.  Hostesses will appreciate that there's no pressure to have it looking perfect because the items will shift any which way as the water freezes.  But the end result will definitely be stunning.

Items needed:

Artificial or natural pine greens and pinecones
Small gold plastic balls
Gold string beads
Freeze safe container with smooth straight sides
Tea light candles in clear containers
Edged try to hold centerpience
Fresh greens


Place greens, pinecones, gold balls and  beads in a freezer safe container, using enough so they stay in place when water is added and arranging them so they touch the sides of the container.

 Carefully add the water to within 1 inch of the top of the container.  Float tea lights on top of the water.  Place on a flat surface in the freezer; freeze for several days or until solid.

About 15 minutes before unmolding, remove container from the freezer.  Let stand at room temperature until ice releases from the sides of the container.

Trim or fold paper towel so it is a bit smaller than the centerpiece and place on tray.  Place the centerpience on top of paper towel to keep it from sliding.  Add fresh greens around the base of the center piece.  Remove water from the tray as needed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Salad Art


  1. Use different types of lettuce as a base, and let kids pick what kind of lettuce makes up their canvas.
  2. Romaine, Iceberg and Butterheads will give a good variety.
  3. Have many veggie options available for kids to cut with a lettuce knife, with supervision.
  4. Snacking during this part of the preparation is suggested.
  5. Options can incAllow the kids to arrange their salad into art, and then paint away with their favorite dressing and eat up!.
This is great to get kids involved enough to want to eat salads. Have a good assortment of favorite raw and cooked vegetables and meat.

Oatmeal Blueberry Squares

What you need:
  • 1½ cups quick oats
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons apple sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
Equipment and supplies:
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 8x8-inch baking pan
  • Measuring cups and spoons
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until just combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and cut into squares.

Chicken Salad and Greens

Note: Here's a great way to use leftover chicken from last night's dinner. No leftovers? Buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Either way, get a grownup's help with the chopping and cutting.

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

What you need:
  • ½ cup plain, nonfat Greek-style yogurt
  • ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grapes, cut in half
  • 2 cups leftover roasted chicken, chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
Equipment and supplies:
  • Mixing bowl
  • Knife for chopping
  • Bowls for serving
What to do:
  1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, celery, red onion, grapes, and chicken.
  2. Mix gently until everything is well coated in dressing.
  3. Divide lettuce between four bowls.
  4. Top each bowl with some chicken salad. Serve cold.
How much does this recipe make?
  • 4 servings
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