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Showing posts from 2013

Sweet and Sour Sausage

Sweet and Sour Sausage
A colorful stir-fry featuring smoked sausage, pineapple, carrots and vegetables in a sweet and sour sauce.

Prep Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes Makes 5 servings
1 regular size package Eckrich® Smoked Sausage, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices1-2/3 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice, undrained1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar2 tablespoons cornstarch1/4 cup white wine vinegar2 tablespoons soy sauce2 medium carrots, diagonally sliced1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped Directions: Cook rice according to package directions, using 3-1/3 cups water.Drain pineapple, reserving juice; set pineapple aside. Add enough cold water to juice to measure 1-1/2 cups; set aside. Mix brown sugar and cornstarch in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually add juice mixture, mixing until well blended after each addition. Stir in vinegar and soy sauce. Set aside.Cook and stir sausage, carrots and bell pepper in medium skil…

Never enough barbecue

Admit to throwing ingredients together that I have on hand. And, the simpler the better. Here is a very easy and fast barbecue sauce recipe.

DIY Barbecue Sauce

2 cups ketchup3 tablespoons brown sugar2 tablespoons soy sauce2 tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (can be omitted if not on hand)2 tablespoons cider vinegar⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/4 teaspoon if you like more heat)2-3 cloves of garlic, minced Directions: Add all ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan.Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and continue simmering for 15 minutes.Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add ribs or other meat, or place in an airtight container to use as a base for a future dish. Keep refrigerated for up to one week.

Peach Dessert

I love simple recipes, and I have a feeling you do too. This peach recipe, which comes from an Amish bakery, is as simple as it gets. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you.
Peach Dessert

Ingredients: 2 cups sugar4 Tablespoons flour2 eggs2 cups milk2 Tablespoons vanilla4 Tablespoons melted butter4 cups fresh peaches, cut fine1/4 teaspoon cinnamonDirections:

1. Grease a 9x13 pan.  2. Preheat the oven at 325.  3. Mix all ingredients except cinnamon in a large bowl.  4. Pour batter into the pan.  5. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of batter.  6. Bake at 325 until the center is almost set, which is 30 minutes.

Very Easy Cornbread

I am not a food blogger by any means. I just like sharing simple recipes that I use all the time to please my family. If you happen to try them out, please let me know.

This very easy cornbread recipe is a must-make. It is from Jiffy, and it is really titled "Spoon Bread Casserole". I make it for every pot luck and holiday.

Very Easy Cornbread
Ingredients: 1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix1/2 cup butter, melted1 can (8 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained1 can (8 oz.) cream style corn1 cup sour cream2 eggs Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2. Grease 1-1/2 quart casserole dish or small baking pan. I use cooking oil spray. 3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until all is combined well. 4. Pour into pan. 5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is firm. 6. Enjoy warm!

Finance Fridays: Organized Coupons

I am not a gambler, but I am willing to bet that we all organize/store coupons in different ways. I have stored them in my wallet, in a box in my car, in a binder, and in an accordion coupon book. I settled in the wallet-size accordion coupon book from Dollar Tree. It comes with lettered tabs.

Instead of the generic tabs, I made labels with my label maker for months of the year. This method allows me to sort through coupons as I find them and organize them b expiration month. I used to store by use (I.g., cleaning, makeup, etc.), but I did not purge expired coupons. Storing them by month forces me to purge expired coupons. You can find a similar coupon book at Dollar Tree. 
What works best for you?

Finance Fridays: Houseguests

I bet you know what it is like to have a big family. That means that members of the family may visit and stay with you from time to time. As large as my family is and the fact that they live around the world, I have to prepare well for guests. Here is how to avoid going broke while being a great hostess.

DO rent a bedroom set, which is delivered and set up by the rental company. 
DO purchase new beddings (I watch for sales) and a mattress cover. Rented beds shouldn't appear used to your guests.
DON'T plan expensive events to entertain them, like shows or concerts.
DO visit area attractions outdoors, art museum, street fairs, and malls.
DO stock up on good items from the grocery store, like fruit trays (can make yourself), raw veggies, raw fruit, nuts, breads, sodas and juices. Eggs are versatile, so pick up a few dozen. Buy a nice dessert in the grocery bakery while you are there; prices are better there.
DO stock up on travel size toiletries for them to use and take with the.

Simple Mashed Potatoes

I take the opportunity to short cut recipes often, such as not pealing potatoes for a simple mashed potatoes recipe.

Simple Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients: 6 russet potatoes or any on hand1 tsp. minced garlic1/2 tsp. dried basil1/2 tsp. dried thyme1/4 c. milk1 tsp. butter or margarineSalt and pepper to taste Instructions:

1. Wash potatoes under running water, scrubbing well with a vegetable brush. 2. Chop potatoes into small pieces and place in pot. Run water over potatoes until covered well. 3. Bring to a boil on high heat, the lower to low heat for 20 minutes. 4. Drain water from potatoes and return to same pot. 5. In pot, mash all potatoes with a fork. 6. In pot, add all other ingredients. Mix well with a spoon. Serve right away.
No flavor is overwhelming. This is my go to recipe for mashed potatoes, mainly because it takes less than 30 minutes! They are so forgiving that you could add anything, even bacon bits, chives, onions, etc. Try some today.

Finance Fridays: Work lunch

While you can't avoid spending money on a business lunch with a client or prospective client, you can save money on making your lunch at work every other day. Below is the strategy I use to avoid spending $20 to $50 per week on restaurant lunches.

At work in the fridge, keep a lunch box, like this one from California Innovations that I purchased at Kroger. Inside, store mayo, lunch meat, cheese, cream cheese, and anything else you need to create your meal at work. I also like mason jars filled with lettuce and toppings for a great salad. I keep cream cheese for my morning bagel too!
In your desk, keep a bag of bread and chips or crackers. I keep pretzels in a plastic storage container in my desk drawer. This is much cheaper than the $1 tiny bags of chips in the vending machine. My bread bag, as I call it, also has a bag of bagels for those hurried mornings that I miss cereal at home and can't be late to work. Knowing that I have something waiting for me is a big help.
Lastly, don…

Finance Fridays: Online Discounts

I swear by Clark Howard's book, Living Large in Lean Times. He offers the absolute best advice with website links so you can start saving and spending smartly.

I purchase things online, just like you do. But, I really love a discount. I first stop by for promo codes and web coupons. Then, I view the retailer's clearance and/or sale sections. Lastly, I view regular priced items. For a retailer like Jos A Banks, men should check online first and foremost since there are very deep discounts there, not in the store.
I have tried doing a web search for the words coupon and the retailer's name. This always results in questionable sites and sometimes viruses. I trust the retailer's site, like Target, to send me coupons directly to my email once I sign up on the site. I definitely use Kiirkland's for that reason.
If at all possible, select the ship to store option during checkout. I do that for retailers I live and work near. This all results in free shipping!

Not Your Grandma's BBQ Sauce

In a desperate need to make barbecue chicken, I searched for a sauce recipe with ingredients I already have. Ketchup is a well-known base for the sauce, and I like the flavor from soy sauce. So, try this recipe for your next cookout.
Not Your Grandma's BBQ Sauce
Ingredients: 1 cup ketchup1/2 cup cider vinegar1/2 cup brown sugar2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, optional2 tablespoons mustard, optional1 teaspoon ground ginger1 teaspoon garlic powder1 tablespoon canola oil Instructions: Mix all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator for several weeks or more.I omitted mustard and Worcestershire sauce. I do not like that much tang. The sweeter the sauce the better. Diana

Butter Garlic Spaghetti

I am always looking for recipes that 1) use very few ingredients, 2) take little time to prep and cook, and 3) taste good. Today, I made a simple spaghetti with butter, garlic, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Butter Garlic Spaghetti
1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti2 c. water1/8 tsp. salt3/4 or whole stick butter1/2 Tbsp. ground black pepper1/2 c. or handful of shredded Parmesan cheese1 Tbsp. chopped garlic in a jar, or 4 cloves
For spaghetti: In a medium saucepan, boil water with salt to a rolling boil. Add pasta and simmer on low-medium for 7 minutes. Drain half of the pasta water. Keep pasta in half of the water until sauce is done. For sauce: Slice stick of butter and bring to a boil in a large skillet/pan. Stir in pepper. Once boiling and bubbling (not burning), add pasta and pasta water to pan. Stir in garlic, and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Shut off heat and add Parmesan cheese. Toss with tongs and plate. Enjoy! Diana

"Magic Cake" - Perfect Custard Cake

Jo from Jo Cooks has a tremendous cake recipe called Magic Cake. It is a simple custard cake with ingredients like flour, eggs, butter, milk, sugar and vanilla. I bet you have these ingredients in your home right now.

I grew up eating a cake called cremesh, a European custard cake with powdered sugar on top of a crispy layer on top of the sweetest creme ever. I remember contacting Jo about cremesh, and this is a perfect version.
Recipe here
The cake sunk a bit once out of the oven. It should cool for some time in order for the creme inside to congeal and come together. Can't wait to slice into it!
I have made several of the recipes on her site. I have not been disappointed even once. She is amazing.

Home Signature Scents

I might be late to the party - the scent party. Every home, and car for that matter, has a signature scent. Some are good, but most are bad. At my home, I cook a lot of smelly things, like fish, onions, garlic, etc. Plus, buying odor neutralizing sprays and powders gets expensive.

In an effort to create a new home signature scent, I took to organic recipes that are boiled on the stove and simmered for up to three hours. The smell permeates the home and neutralizes bad odors from cooking, pets, and other odorous things. You could purchase a potpourri crock pot, but I prefer a small saucepan. Try out one or all of these great recipes. All it takes is fruit, herbs and spices. Select any recipe below (I prefer orange and vanilla) and fill a sauce pan 3/4 full with water. These can be made ahead: combine ingredients in a jar, fill the jar with water, and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Let me know how it turns out.


4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, a teaspoon of vanilla ex…

Finance Fridays: Credit Reports

The first step in understanding your financial health is requesting your three credit bureau reports online at This site, which you can you use once a year for FREE reports, is connected to Experian, Equifax and Transunion. A credit report will display all open, closed and in collections accounts you have.

I cannot stress enough the importance of these reports. Print them and place them in a binder labeled "Credit Reports".

The first time I pulled my free reports, I had a lot of accounts in collections. My debt-to-credit ratio, the amount I owed compared to the amount someone was willing to give me, was bad. What boosts your credit scores, which I'll cover next week, is a good debt-to-credit ratio, as in more credit and less debt.

I have two people in my family with the exact same name - nothing to identify them apart but social security numbers. When they pulled their credit reports, several accounts were crossed. So, we disputed those accounts onl…

Finance Fridays

I am thrilled to introduce a segment of the blog called Finance Fridays. I will cover financial tips that have not only helped me but also those around me.

As someone in the finance industry for several years, I have learned so much that I would like to share all of it with you. There is a wide variety of self-help business books, finance gurus (such as Suze Orman), and unlicensed finance professionals handing out advice. What all this tells me is that only YOU can fix your fnance woes. And, believe me, you can do it with no sweat.

Now, my history with finance dates back to when I turned 18 - when I received my first credit card during my first week in college. Debt sounds like such an ugly word today, but it sounded great back then. I could buy now and pay later - much later.

Fast forward to the end of college, when I had several accounts in collections. I couldn't even open a bank account! Through all this time, I was working at least 25 hours a week while going to college full ti…

Easy BBQ Chicken

Being at home sick has its rewards, like catching up on my reading and ownership of the remote. Then, it has its pitfalls, like the need to clean and cook before my family comes home. I threw together simple ingredients into the crock pot this morning so dinner will be ready in time of their arrival.

Easy BBQ Chicken Ingredients: 3-4 lbs. chicken drumsticks or thighs  1 pkg. McCormick Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork or McCormick Slow Cookers Southern BBQ Ribs mix 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar 1/2 c. ketchup Directions: Place rinsed chicken sections in slow cooker. Mix seasoning mix, brown sugar, vinegar and ketchup in separate bowl. Pour mixture over chicken. Set cooker on high for 4 hours. I'll bake some potatoes and veggies for side dishes, and we're good to go. What is your easy chicken recipe? Please share.


Easy Potato Soup and Slow-cooker Short Ribs

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am a good cook in my heart, but my hands do something else. I MUST follow recipes in order to produce good food. Bless those of you who can whip up something without a recipe. I want to be you when I grow up.

My husband was out of the country for a week, living on restaurant food and room service. For the country he was working in, it was for the best. Still, he craved low-sodium home cooking. So, I have to share these winning recipes with you. Follow or adjust and let me know how it turned out. Photos encouraged.
Easy Potato Soup Quick and easy potato soup with a kick, thanks to red pepper flakes.

Ingredients: 6 to 8 red potatoes, peeled and quartered2 to 3 Tbsp. butter [substitute 3 Tbsp. canola oil] 2 small carrots, diced or shredded1/4 c. finely chopped onion2 Tbsp. flour4 c. milk2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley [substitute 1 Tbsp. parsley flakes]1 Ttbsp. salt1/2 tsp. seasoned salt [substitute 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper]1/4 tsp. red …

New Year Goals

With the start of every year, you feel rejuvinated and anxious. This is the best time to set new, attainable goals.

Step 1: Name goals Step 2: Set deadlines Step 3: Strategize Step 4: Celebrate each milestone
My blog goals for the year include: Invest in professional grade camera (other than tablet and phone cameras)Create crafting space in homeMake storage and organization a priorityConsider advertisingCommit one hour per day What are your goals? Can I help you attain any of them?