Friday, December 14, 2007

Merging blogs

I think I am going to combine my 2 blogs, as it is hard to keep up with both. I really like "My Domicile Style" as a title, so read that one until I can figure out how to merge them. :-)

Visit me at

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Chocolate cookies with a kick

I combined this recipe with a recipe by Maida Heatter for Spicy Chocolate Icebox Cookies. Below, I upped the amounts of pepper and cayenne and may substitute Kahlúa for the instant espresso powder. I also figured out how to sift flour when you don't have a sifter, and let's see if the second batch of cookies are lighter than the first. Oh, the trials we must endure, to make a good cookie. :-)

by Jacqueline Higuera McMahan
San Francisco Chronicle Food section, May 1, 2002

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder, such as Medaglia D'Oro
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
About 1/2 cup chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS: Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder, black and cayenne peppers and the cocoa powder. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla; mix well. Add the sifted dry ingredients and blend well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick lining such as Silpat. Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll a piece of dough about the size of a small walnut between the palms of your hands. Using your index finger, press an indentation in the center of the cookie. Place 4 chocolate chips in the indentation. Mold the dough around the chips to enclose them completely; press to seal. Roll the dough into a ball, then roll in the sugar and place on the baking sheet. Continue forming the rest of the dough.

Bake for 8 minutes. Do not overbake. These cookies are best when still a little moist in the center.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Get a start on the holidays

OK - I have already almost finished all of that Christmas shopping! It has really helped since we simplified gifts for siblings, spouses and cousins.

I was reviewing the Holiday Control Journal from and wanted to share it. It is a free PDF file to download, you can print all 25 pages, or print them as you need them to use. There is also some other good advice as far as "clutter-free gifts" and other things you might need to use. The goal is to be finished by December 1, so that you can enjoy the holidays! What a crazy concept!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Are you a WWDTM?

I am exhausted! This is a common ailment among women, who try to do too much. In fact, there is a book called Women Who Do Too Much by Patricia Sprinkle. A friend and I are reading her book, as it has discussion questions. Of course, as is typical of a WWDTM, I am reading 2 or 3 books all at the same time. Perhaps, I should just concentrate on one book at a time, do you not think?

Note: if you have a Mardel's by you, go and rummage through their bargain books. I found tons, some which are older titles like this one (2002), and others that will make great gifts, etc. On average, I spent about $1.24 on many books! Woohoo!

In Googling a link to her book, I found this good article talking about tips for those types of women. Of course, one of the biggest tips is probably learning to say NO. I have yet to master that, but I am taking baby-steps. Trying to keep up with college friends, church friends, make new neighborhood friends, maintain old Bible study friends, etc. is crazy. I can't believe that I would ever have to decide that being well-liked can be detrimental to your soul.

It is OK to have a small circle of friends, those who know you and like you just the way you are. The joy from fostering those relationships, is so much more gratifying than spending your time with others, all the while wishing you were doing something else.

Some girls and I went to a conference last week, including 2 dear friends of mine. It was so nice to spend uninterrupted time, just being myself, with those girls and with other close friends. My new yardstick will be that measure - does this friend add to my life in a positive manner? If not, then I won't pursue it, as that person and I would be be better suited to be with others who do impact us in a positive way.

However, I do know that to minister to others, I do need to foster outside relationships. I guess my question is how do you do that without spreading yourself too thin? Something to think about...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Don't drool on your computer screen!

OK, look at these blogs and tell me that you didn't just gain 20 lbs! Luscious!!

Miss Chocolate and Zucchini has published her own cookbook. Amazing that it all started from a blog.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I was playing around on Sprint tonight, trying to still figure out my new Treo755. I love it as it combines my Palm with my cell phone. It rocks!! However, I am still figuring it out, so if you get random calls from me, it is because I most likely accidentally called you from my contact list. If you click on a contact's phone number, it automatically dials it!

I happened up this part of the Sprint site called Check out how to peel an egg! I think that is so great! Since I have to eat a lot of protein, I like hard-boiled eggs whites for a snack. However, I hate to peel the eggs. This will make it a cinch.

Monday, September 24, 2007

List is growing

OK, I listed items 1-3 last week. Of course, I took out Raggedy Ann to wash her and give her to charity instead of throwing away. I felt guilty, which is probably why we hang onto things much longer than we should, instead of getting rid of them!

Here is what is leaving my house this week:

4. TV - my neighbor said he wanted it after much prodding. I don't think he believed that we wanted to get rid of it. Our rule is one TV in the house and I think the new one exceeds that rule!

5. Some amplifying thingie that the husband has been keeping, just in case we need it. I will see if my neighbor wants it.

6. TV stand - sitting in the game room closet, holding boxed. Once again, I don't think my neighbor believes that we really want it gone.

7. Bathroom rugs - I hate the one with latex on the bottom, as they get weird stains on the latex, that don't come out when you wash them. I feel guilty for throwing them away, worried that I may be contributing to an overflowing landfill somewhere. So there they sit, taking up room in the laundry room.

OK - I think that is it for the beginning of the week. We shall see what else I find as the week progresses.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The first three things

Clutter, I mentioned it the other day and then as I was purging my magazines, I ran across an article called Declutter Your Mind. "Is the road to enlightenment lined with stuff? Hardly. Just throw out 50 things... start with old clothes, lipsticks, or keys, then move on to the negative thougts that litter your head and hold you back." (Real Simple, April 2007)

OK, I was going to do a smaller number, but 50 seems like a good number. My goal is to throw out or give away 50 items a month. Of course, magazines and catalogs only count as one! Then you are supposed to keep a list, so that you can review and see your progress.

So let's start:

1. Why we had a fake black spider, I don't know, a left over from Halloween years ago. Well, the autistic girl I drive to school loves Halloween items. She happened to have the same spider in with orange markings, and ours had green markings, so I gave it to her as a gift this week. She loved it.

2. Old bronzer - it was too dark anyway, but I felt guilty throwing it out. Gone today.

3. Raggedy Ann doll - my mother thought I would want it, but what do you do with a well-loved doll that is at least 30 years old, other than put it on a shelf?

OK, that is what I started with, next week, I will update my list and let you know what else has gone away.

Here are some helpful links to articles and other forms of interest.

16 Quick Ways to Take Control of Your Life
Essential Everyday Forms and Checklists
Organize Your Organizing Systems

Friday, September 14, 2007

New products!

I am happy to report that Costco is now carrying the giant size refill of Method Hand Soap. Their products rock!

While Sweet Water is not my favorite fragrance (I would rather have Green Tea & Aloe), I love the idea that for $7.99, I can get a huge refill bottle of soap that is NOT anti-bacterial. I am anti anti-bacterial!! Now if only Bath and Body Works would make Coconut Lime Verbena in a normal formula...

I am also in need of more laundry soap, and may check out Wintree laundry detergent. Since we have a front-loading washer, I have upgraded to the Tide HE formula and am about to run out. It supposedly makes less suds, etc. However, as a former marketing major and retailer, I am always skeptical, as I know companies want to upsell.

Wintree looks interesting, as it is HE compatible and has natural lavender oils as a fragrance. Mmmmm, I love the smell of lavender. Yes, it is environmentally friendly, blah, blah, blah, which is good, but if I see another magazine article capitalizing on the "green trend"... It has become another way to sell more magazines.

The true question will be how much it costs! I am hoping that the price will be competitive, especially since they don't have the huge advertising costs of Tide, which ultimately get passed onto the consumer.

I may run down to Costco today as I have a cold, which meant no gym today! First rule: thou shalt not work out if sick, if you think you might be getting sick, or if you can't decide whether you are sick or is it just allergies. Oh well, I did enjoy sleeping in until 7:00 this morning! Yeah!

Will keep you posted on my findings...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunch today

Well, I am on week 6 of my 5-month long, 5-day a week work out program and I rock! I am constantly pushing with heavier weights and finding that I can lift them. I figure, the more lean muscle I put on, the faster my metabolism will be.

So the eating has become a little easier, not to say that I don't slip up now and again. For lunch today, I had a large mixed baby greens salad, with 3 0z. of Atlantic salmon that we baked with a basil-walnut topping. Kind of similar to pesto, but no cheese (not allowed on the plan, except for Laughing Cow, 4-pk for $7.99, best deal in town!).

However, I did add a couple of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings to my salad. Come on, I am only human and what is a salad without some!! Use your vegetable peeler to get nice, wide shavings as you really get to taste the saltiness of the cheese. It comes in big wedges, cut the large wedge into pieces, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and store in a big plastic bag. Use one small wedge at a time. There is really nothing like it, one of those easy upgrades that will make any dish tastes better.

For dressing, I drizzled a tiny bit of a homemade Dijon vinaigrette. Super easy, I got it from a recipes for Arugula & Roasted Cauliflower Salad.

1/3 cup EVO
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. White wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

In small bowl combine vinegar, mustard, and salt. Whisk in the 1/3 cup olive oil until combined. Super tangy and wonderful on mixed greens, with some feta or green olives stuffed with garlic and jalapeno. YUM!

Friday, August 24, 2007

What I am reading

Here is what I am reading from the New York Times online.

August 22, 2007
A Good Appetite
So Many Tomatoes to Stuff in a Week

By MELISSA CLARK (click to see more articles by her)

OF all the produce that tastes amazingly better in season —peaches and apricots, strawberries and peas — none inspires the same cultish devotion as summer tomatoes.

Meaty and succulent, their velvety flesh enclosing a fragrant jelly of golden seeds and dripping with sweet pink juice, summer tomatoes are everything their cold-weather counterparts aren’t, including cheap and abundant.

Right now farmers’ markets are rich with them: a dizzying profusion of scarlet beefsteaks, mini red and orange cherries and luminous lumpy heirlooms ranging from mild yellow Striped Germans to tart, intense, mauve-hued Brandywines. Swooning in their midst, I can’t seem to walk away without bags of them.

(click here to read article)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Update to 101 meals

Here is an update to the 101 meals, as he had such a good response.

101 Quick Meals? Make It an Even 111

I also thought this was interesting, a vegan blog who did the same thing with the 101 meals. Yes, on this training program, I have to have a lot of protein hence meat, however, I love the idea of vegetables galore!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer meals

OK - it has been pointed out to me that I haven't posted since July 10! What have I been doing? Let's see, I started working out 5 days a week for 5 months at this intensive personal training program. I just finished week 2, but for the last two weeks, I was beat! My energy level has increased, so here is something I found interesting in the New York Times.

Some of these are high in protein and low in carbs, so they could be used for our workout meals. Of course, I am not going to boil a lobster anytime soon (#12) or use a whole stick of butter for anything (#51), but some of these are really interesting.

The Minimalist
Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less


The pleasures of cooking are sometimes obscured by summer haze and heat, which can cause many of us to turn instead to bad restaurants and worse takeout. But the cook with a little bit of experience has a wealth of quick and easy alternatives at hand. The trouble is that when it’s too hot, even the most resourceful cook has a hard time remembering all the options. So here are 101 substantial main courses, all of which get you in and out of the kitchen in 10 minutes or less. (I’m not counting the time it takes to bring water to a boil, but you can stay out of the kitchen for that.) These suggestions are not formal recipes; rather, they provide a general outline. With a little imagination and some swift moves — and maybe a salad and a loaf of bread — you can turn any dish on this list into a meal that not only will be better than takeout, but won’t heat you out of the house.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thyme to kill

I have been bad about posting lately, but have been busy. The other day, as I was stripping my own dried herbs (I know I am nuts, in fact, that thought crossed through my mind as I was doing this), I thought of my favorite recipes for Thyme Scented Almonds from Patricia Wells. What a dream it would be to go to her cooking school in Provence.

While I didn't find a link to the first recipe, I did find Thyme Toasted Almonds that sound really good.

I can't find my recipe for Thyme Scented Almonds, but I believe it is a 2 cups almonds, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 egg white, dried thyme, fresh thyme and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Mix all together but the fresh thyme, spread on a baking sheet, then sprinkle with the fresh thyme. Bake at 325 about 5 minutes, or until you can smell the almonds. Let cool, then break off any of the crust formed by the egg whites. They are so good as an appetizer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Useful Tips

OK - I have used #2 and #11. What else have people used? Thanks, Katie for passing them on to me.

1. REHEAT PIZZA - Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove. Set heat to med-low and heat until warm. This keeps the crust crispy.

2. DEVILED EGGS - Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up, mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done.

3. EXPANDING FROSTING - When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar/calories per serving.

4. REHEATING REFRIGERATED BREADS - To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, placethem in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture willkeep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

5. NEWSPAPER WEEDS AWAY - Start putting in your plants; work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants, overlapping as you go. Cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic, but they will not get through wet newspapers.

6. BROKEN GLASS PIECES - Use a dry cotton ball to pick up little broken glass pieces of glass- the fibers catch ones you can't see!

7. NO MORE MOSQUITOS - Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

8. SQUIRREL AWAY - To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it.

9. FLEXIBLE VACUUM - To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

10. REDUCE STATIC CLING - Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and - voila -static is gone. (OK, does anyone wear slips any more or pantyhose with pants? That is the whole reason to wear pants, no pantyhose!)

11. MEASURING CUPS - Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry the cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

12. FOGGY WINDSHIELD - Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser!Works better than a cloth!

13. REOPENING AN ENVELOPE - If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. It unseals easily.

14. HAIR CONDITIONER - Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's a lot cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like.

15. GOODBYE FRUIT FLIES - To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass fill it 1/2" with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid, mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

16. GET RID OF ANTS - Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home," & can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, esp. if it rains, but it works & you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed! (my dad used a Borax/cornmeal mixture).

17. TAKE BABY POWDER TO THE BEACH - Keep a small bottle of baby powder in your beach bag. When your ready to leave the beach sprinkle yourself and kids with the powder and the sand will slide right off your skin.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cleaning for the week

I forgot to post the Sneak Peak, this week we are cleaning out main bathroom and another room.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Great Grilling Ideas & more

If your husband is like mine, he loves to grill! Which is great for us, as we don't have to heat up the kitchen when it starts to get warm outside. We love our Tuscany grill from Costco, bought it with the cash back we got from our Costco American Express!

I still refer to Weight Watcher recipes quite often and like the e-mails they send out. You don't have to be a member to access the recipes from the e-mails, which is great. Here are some great grilling ideas and links to recipes. As you can tell, I have started using my linking tool, so click on those.

I also like to refer to Cooking Light, as I mentioned before in an earlier blog. Each of these six easy menus lets you grill once and dine twice, which makes it great for simple and easy dinners.

Eventually, I want to get a grill pan for inside, either a cast iron or this Nordicware cast aluminum reversible griddle.

Of course, the availability of great fruits this time of year is also a bonus. The other night I made a freestanding fruit tart with blueberries, 2lbs. and strawberries, 4lbs. (each $5.99). Super easy, especially if you use either frozen or refrigerated pie crusts. I omitted cream cheese as we didn't have any, but the tart turned out great anyway. Next time, I will do what I just saw in a Rachael Ray mag (my friend loans me hers to read, not like I need anymore magazines in this house), where you melt some apricot jam (I keep the Fischer-Weiser peach jam in the fridge to use for glazes or to make Couscous with Apricot Vinaigrette, last time, I used pine nuts and chives, of course I always have Kirkland raw almonds in the fridge for anything, especially homemade granola)

Real Simple also has some fruit tarts recipes on their Fake It, Don't Make It section. The rustic apple tart always looked good. Sometime this summer, when we have a crowd over, I want to try this Ice Cream Cake. YUM!

OK - let's get out and grill this weekend! Send me your favorite recipes so we can share. :-)

Marinating 101

Marinades are such a simple way to add flavor when grilling or cooking. I thought these had some good information and some good marinades to try.

Getting your house in summer shape

I thought this was an interesting article as I was reading online this morning. We were without Internet access for 4 days last week! We are not happy with Time Warner as it took 4 days for them to come out and tell us what we already knew - our modem was shot. Since my husband works from home as a software consultant, not having e-mail or Internet access was a real pain. Unfortunately, we don't have much choice, which is surprising to me living in the second fastest growing city in the country!

Here was the article, listing tips that most of us know, but it never hurts to get a reminder.

Speaking of reminders, since I am not getting Flylady every day (I signed up for the digest format), I need to be on the ball to keep on top of cleaning. Here is the Sneak Peek of the Week.

As well as the weekly home blessing and other routines. I try to start on Monday to get my house ready for the week.

Friday, May 25, 2007

New blog

Yes, I started another blog, because at any given time, I have a million things on my mind. This way, I can keep them all in one place and refer to them when I want. So if ;you don't really cook or care about cleaning, but you like decorating, that is where I will put lots of stuff!

My new friend

OK - I went by Wal-mart today to see if they had BonAmi as SuperTarget does not. Instead, I found Bar Keeper's Friend, see earlier blog:

So far, on my porcelain sink, I had tried baking soda, borax, and vinegar and soda to get rid of stains. Bar Keeper's Friend got rid of them and it is only $1.56 a container! Very cool and cheap! I plan to try it on the bathroom shower later.

I also have decided that I don't really like the Swiffer wet pads as I have to use at least 2 of them for my tile. I am going to use my microfiber pads (Costco - pack of many) or some of my white towels (pack of 48) and tuck them into the Swiffer tabs. Then use either Mrs. Meyers Lavender or first finish my floor cleaner from Method. They have good products too (I love the grapefruit) and are found at all Target stores.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

BBQ season

I thought this was a hoot! This in no way reflects upon my husband.

We are approaching BBQ season again. It is therefore important to remember the etiquette of this outdoor ritual, since it's the only type of cooking a real man will do, probably because there is an element of danger involved. When a man volunteers to do the BBQ, the following chain of events takes place:

1. The woman buys the food.
2. The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.
3. The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill---beer in hand. Here comes the important part:

More routine:
5. The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
6. The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is burning. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he deals with the situation.

Important again:

More routine:
8. The woman brings the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins and sauces to the table.
9. After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.
And most important of all:
10. Everyone PRAISES THE MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
11. The man later asks the woman how she enjoyed "her night off" and, seeing her annoyance, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women!

Happy BBQ Season to thoughtful men everywhere....

Monday, May 21, 2007

Recipe review

I have almost used up all of the food in our outside freezer! Yeah! Then I can defrost it and clean it out before I start again. I have told some new moms that I would make and freeze some baked pasta for them.

Here are my updates for recipes, click on the title above and it will take you to the post.

Spice-Baked Sea Bass (Frozen Halibut for us, Orca brand from Costco) and Red Lentils - my husband said that the two things he doesn't really like (fish and lentils) both were great! Before I get comments - yes, I know he loves sushi, but doesn't like fish otherwise. :-) If you like cumin, you will like this recipe.

Tortellini with Bacon, Greens and Brown Butter - I changed this one up because have you priced tortellini???? $4 for 8.8 oz. In this family, that would be two servings, with no leftovers. So what I did was use a large package of penne (I buy the 6 pk of penne and the 6 pk of spaghetti - Garofalo imported pasta and keep in the pantry at all times. Sorry, whole wheat pasta tastes like dirt and is overpriced as it is "popular" now, so I am a purist and prefer Italian pasta, as the pasta should be the neutral palate for the flavors that you add. Also, because I am Italian and the brand name reminds me of my maiden name.)

Off the soapbox, back to the recipe - I cut back the butter by 2 Tbsp. (used 4) and probably used half the bacon it called for. I keep a package in the freezer and slice what I need (don't worry about getting slices, just cut a small piece off the end when you need some bacon. I also save the bacon fat, put in a tiny container in the fridge. Then I can use a teaspoon if I ever need that flavor to saute something.

Since I didn't use cheese tortellini, I bought a small piece of smoked mozzerella as I thought the smokiness would stand up to the bacon and tart arugula. By the way, if you can find arugula fresh (even organic), it is cheaper than buying it prepackaged. I spent at least $1 less buying it this way and I think I got even more. This is something we need to grow out back in a little salad garden.

So by extending the recipe and having smaller portions as this was a rich recipe, I think I cut back the fat grams by at least half. Still not a light recipe, this one was a winner with the man in the house.

Golden Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives - this one was really good. Definitely serve rice with it as the sauce is a little juicy and needs something like rice or couscous to get the juices. Since I didn't have any big jars of Spanish olives (you can buy at Costco), I bought a small jar at the store, but made a mistake and they weren't pitted and didn't have pimentos! So I had to cut them off the pits for the recipe. Time consuming, so watch what you buy!

As for the pizza, we simply used mozzerella (shredded, kept in the freezer), the rest of the arugula, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts. I used the brown rice and made a vegetable stir fry using the Kirkland frozen stir-fry veggies and Kirkland egg-substitute.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Food for the week

I was having a discussion with my friend Katie about cooking. She doesn't really like to cook, and even though I do, I hate cleaning all those dishes from making big dinners! Plus, it is getting warm, and I want to have lighter fare at night so we can go on walks after dinner.

However, this week, I am trying to use what I have at home to clean out the big freezer. Here are recipes from my last issue of Real Simple that looked good. So this week, on the menu, we have the following:

Spice-Baked Sea Bass (Halibut for us, Orca brand from Costco) and Red Lentils

Tortellini with Bacon, Greens and Brown Butter

Golden Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives

I will report back and let you all know how the recipes turn out.

I also made a double pot of brown rice today and refrigerated it. I think I finally perfected my brown rice technique. Then it will be perfect for stir-fry one night.

We have pizza dough, so perhaps chicken and rosemary pizza ( on Friday and we have dinner out on Wed.

Here were my thoughts after the other night. I will designate one night at the beginning of the month for cooking lots of meat and perhaps brown rice as you can freeze both.

Next week when I go to Costco, I will get the big package of chicken breast, pork chops and ground meat for sure. I will cook all the ground meat, drain really well (as it is only 87% lean) then divide into 4 freezer bags (about 4 cups each bag).

My husband loves to use his new grill, so at least 10 chicken breasts will go on there. Eat some that week, cut up the rest and freeze. Then when I don't want to cook, we can have chicken fajitas, etc. The pork chops are so thick, that I cut them in half and will freeze them 6 at a time. Perhaps cut some up for stir-fry and cook them that night, then freeze once done. This way, I have lots of things in the freezer to quickly thaw and put dinner on the table.

I am looking at using my crockpot for some vegetarian recipes like lentil stew or maybe the Spicy Peanut stew recipe I have in my files.

Sneak Peek for the Week

OK - here is our sneak peek for the week. Cleaning the main bathroom. I am sending you to their site as to not infringe on any copywrite stuff. Kind of silly, but lawyers have to make money somehow.

I will discuss my new plan for cooking in advance later today if I have a chance.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Going to help a friend take her 3 little ones to the doctor today, so I don't have a lot of time to write witty prose. I thought I would share this e-mail from www.greenerpenny about Wrapsacks. What a cute and clever idea. I LOVE gift wrap, but hate the waste involved. I think that is why gift bags have become so popular as you can regift in them.

Helpful hint - check out your nearest dollar store for cute gift bags. My 99cent store has them 2 for a $1. Cards are usually 2 for a $1 too. Now that I am semi-making my own, I am looking for cute blank cards and I will personalize the middle with fonts and blank flat cards.

Bright cotton bags that can be reused for gift or tote bags -

Organic Cotton Gift Bags -

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I consider myself a pretty accomplished cook. In fact, I was quite pleased with my tapas dinner last night - Tortilla Espanola (Potato & Onion Cake), Roasted Peppers with Minced Garlic (see my How to on peppers, click on the labels tab at the bottom of the blog) and Allioli sauce (the French spells theirs Aioli), more or less a garlic and mayonaise sauce. I used mayo versus raw eggs and olive oil. Served all with crusty bread.

If I had green olives, I would have stuffed them with anchovy paste and served. Next time, I will do Grilled Mushrooms with Garlic and Parsley sauce, this time we had no mushrooms. Maybe I will do a whole tapas party one night. :-)

Serve it all with a bottle of Vinho Verde, that low-alcohol, fizzy white wine from Portugal. Cheap and perfect for summer. In fact, we bought a whole case! I felt so grown up special ordering a case of wine just for us. It will make a great hostess gift when we go to parties.

It was delicious! And I even flipped my Tortilla Espanola onto another platter without dropping it! You flip it over onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan to cook the top. It is like a frittata, but is a staple dish in tapas restaurants.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spring cleaning

Oh, it is that time of year where the sun is shining (when it isn't raining in N. Dallas), and we want to start purging and lightening up. I think throwing away things is cathartic! So this week happens to be the week that I am trying to get rid of things by donating them to charity. I don't have the patience for a garage sale and truthfully, it is better to get rid of stuff, than hang on "waiting" to sell it.

Back to cleaning, check out Mrs. Meyer's Lavender Cleaning concentrate., $8 for 32 oz.
1/4 cup per 1 gallon of water to clean all sorts of surfaces. This product smells amazing!! There is also Lemon Verbena and Geranium, but I tried the Lavender first. If you want it in a spray bottle, mix and then fill your bottle. I figure that saves money in the long run.

Buy a pack of microfiber towels or white all purposes bar towels from Costco. Usually, with the car cleaning stuff. 48 towels in a package!! I was wiping our bar the other day with a paper towel and decided to go over it again with a towel. I still got dirt that the paper towel left behind, plus, it is expensive to go through a ton of paper towels. Use the all purpose towels and then throw a load in once a week of cleaning towels. If you used non-toxic cleaners, then you should have no problem washing them.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bon Ami & Bar Keepers Friend

I was reading this morning one of my Flylady e-mails about cleaning glass cooktops. They suggested "Bar Keepers Friend" which I had never heard of. It was suggested that it is made by Bon Ami, but I don't think that is the case as I looked up both websites.

However, both products seems to be great and non-toxic. I think Bon Ami is carried most places, not sure about Bar Keepers Friend (it showed Linens & Things carries it). I am looking for something to replace Soft Scrub only because it is expensive and it still doesn't clean the floor of my shower!! Even the 3-pack is still $11. If a can of Bon Ami is less than $2, then I am still saving money. The company that owns them also owns a lot of other brands including Trapp candles! Oh, they are not cheap, but smell wonderful! (wonderful website, if you go to the online store, you can see all the products they carry) (really bad website, but the product seems to be great)

Back to my shower, I thought the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser did the trick last time, but this time, not so much. It is great on shower doors, but perhaps the floor of the shower was too wet. I switched to the Kirkland Signature French Milled Soaps instead of Irish Spring as Irish Spring is blue and therefore my soap scum is blue tinged!! The soaps have natural oils, etc. and while they are a little more expensive, they are white, and have lots of good things for your skin.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Popcorn Musings

Lately I have been thinking about popcorn. Probably because it is our late night choice snack as it is low-calorie and high fiber. I like mine with a glass of skim milk, spiked with some Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Syrup. Mmmmm!

We usually have the microwave but I have been thinking that:
1. it is expensive
2. that it can't taste as good as the real stuff cooked in a little healthy oil with some kosher salt

I posted an article under my Reader from Frank Bruni at the NYT all about popcorn. Interesting that most of the "foodies" out there consider microwave popcorn an abomination. I won't go that far, but I think I am going to try a trusty saucepan and some oil. I was looking at an electric popper, but the reviews weren't good and no sense buying another gadget to clutter the house.

I had an air-popper, but seriously, you need a tiny bit of fat to carry flavor and air-popped corn tastes like cardboard.

Add this to my list of things to buy this week:
Bag of popcorn
20 oz. pint glasses
Hand towels to have friend monogram
Mrs. Meyers Lavender Cleaning Concentrate
Mirror at Michaels (always tear out the 40% off coupon that comes with the junk mail)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vinegar Testimonial

Here are some comments from my friend about vinegar!

Anyway, I LOVE cleaning with white vinegar. My mom introduced me to it when she came and cleaned when I was on bedrest. Her cleaning lady introduced her to it. She said her 90 yr. old aunt swears by it. I have a spray bottle 1/3 full of vinegar and the rest water. I use it for tons of stuff and it works so well.

I used to swiffer my wood floors and it left an ugly film - but I loved the convenience of it. Now I use vinegar water in my spray bottle and it my floors look great - so shiny and clean - and it is still just as convenient. The vinegar really cuts through dirt and grime and food. I also could never get the hard water buildup off my water thing in the refrigerator - I tried everything. I let the vinegar soak on it a little while and it came right off. Also use it to clean stove top with hard to remove food buildup. I keep finding more and more uses for it - it is super cheap, doesn't smell chemically, I always have it on hand, and does a better job than most of the other cleaners I have used. I do still keep a good disinfectant on hand though for chicken juice, toilets, etc though.

Anyway, as you can see I am very passionate about vinegar ;) If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it!

Note from me: You can buy the super huge 1.32 gallon (5 litres) Heinz white vinegar from Costco for around $4. Buy that and the huge bag of baking soda and you are set for lots of cleaning fun!

Here are 27 more tips for uses for vinegar:

Monday, April 23, 2007


I have figured out how to put labels on everything, so if you are looking for recipes, go to the bottom of the blog and click on the "recipes" label. It will bring up all the posts with recipes. Pretty cool!

Top 10 tips

I am somewhat of a Crunchy Conservative (thought that term was a hoot). What I really am is a gal who likes to save money (so I can buy more lip gloss!). Cleaning products are expensive, and I really like the idea of using non-toxic cleaners that save money, as they are cheap to make.

I found this site the other day, click on the heading "Top 10 Tips" as it is a link. I haven't tried these yet, but thought they were interesting. If you do, let us know how they work.

Top 10 Tips
1. Windows, Mirrors: Spray with mixture of 1/4 c. white vinegar, one quart water & a drop of dish soap.

2. Countertops, porcelain: Scrub with paste of baking soda, water, drop of liquid soap. Disinfect with hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach.

3. Oven: Coat with paste of baking soda, washing soda, water, white vinegar. Leave overnight; wipe out with rags.

4. Floors: Mop with 1/2 c. white vinegar and 1/8 c. liquid soap in 2 gallons hot water.

5. Rags, known as “chiffons” to the French, are Riches: Pick up dust with damp rags; wrap an old t-shirt around a push broom to damp dust/mop. Wash and reuse rags–they just get better!

6. Clean and polish wood with a mix of vegetable oil, essential oil of lemon, thyme, eucalyptus or your fave, and beeswax.

7. Toilet: Scrub with baking soda; wipe seat with white vinegar

8. Laundry: presoak stained cloth in 1/4 c. lemon juice, washing soda or borax in gallon of water.

9. Add 1/4 c. baking soda or white vinegar to wash cycle to soften fabric

10. Choose fragrance-free laundry soaps to prevent asthmatic and allergic reactions and skin/eye irritation.

I haven't really checked out his site, but I thought this was an interesting Christian perspective on personal stewardship. I don't buy into the current panic mode, but I do think as believers, we are called to be the best stewards of what God had given us and being mindless consumers is not the way in my opinion. Especially when we can save money with alternatives. I don't know that I could do what this doctor did, but their electricity bill is something crazy like $20 a month!

This is the article I read about him that really got me thinking:

While I don't think I could do everything he did, I can make small changes and save money in the process.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


We are back from Canada, where the weather was a balmy 17 degrees a couple of days. It made the days when it was 30 degrees seem warm!

On the plane, I read again some of my Peter Mayle books, Toujours Provence and French Lessons. I have four of them, but need to get the rest. It is armchair gourmet reading at it's best.

In one of the books, a Frenchwoman remarks that if you eat tapenade every day, you will be healthy, so of course that got me craving tapenade. Salty heaven! Since we have olives in the fridge (kalamata, not nicoise, but it should be OK). I bought some capers and anchovy paste and that might work.

This was interesting from Wikipedia:
"Its name comes from the Provençal word for capers, tapéno". Who knew?

Here is the first recipe I will try from

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 Tbsp rinsed, drained capers
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp anchovy paste (the original recipe said optional, but how can you have tapenade without anchovies? Like having Caesar salad without anchovy paste in the dressing, the salty tang will not be there)
Fresh cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor
. Mix well. Refrigerate and use within two weeks. Use as a spread or as a condiment. Yield: about 1 cup

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Inspiration hits

I haven't been feeling very inspired lately, hence the lack of posts. I guess if I knew I had a million readers, I would post more often. :-) You can always post comments to let me know you like what I write. hint, hint

OK - I am always on the computer, so I thought to myself "Self, why don't you post funny or interesting things that you read?"

This is a girl after my own heart and she had some really good ideas. I guess she was on Rachael Ray's show, but I don't watch it, so I don't know. I was reading a review of her new book Spinster Sisters and saw this link to a video she had done.