Saturday, November 3, 2018

Chocolate Kiss Pie

Looking for a dessert to take to your next dinner party or just a quick "hello" for neighbors?  Here is a recipe that is very quick and easy.  The only real requirement is that you need to give it enough time to set in the refrigerator.  This yummy dessert only requires a few ingredients

1 1/2 cup Whole milk
1 small box 3.6 oz EACH of Devil's Food and White Chocolate Pudding
(I found Godiva brand!!)
1 8oz tub Cool Whip
1 6oz graham cracker crust
1 bag of Hershey Kisses

Pour 3/4 cup of milk into bowl and add chocolate pudding mix.  Whisk for 1 minute.  Stir in 1/2 of Cool Whip and spoon into crust.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  Repeat the process with the white chocolate pudding mix and stir in the remainder of the Cool Whip.  Layer on top of set chocolate layer.  Refrigerate for addition hour (preferably more).  After fully set and shortly before serving, place unwrapped kisses over the top of the pie.  Serve cold.



Thursday, July 12, 2018

Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe

I work full time outside of the home and last week I came home to the most amazing aroma!  My husband found this awesome recipe online.  It was so good, we had to repeat it again tonight - and it was even better the second time!!  It tastes just like those fabulous yummy appetizers you get at that famous Asian restaurant (clue - the name is on the picture).


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 cloves minced garlic
1 diced onion
1/4 cut hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 Tablespoon Sriracha (optional)
1 (8 ounce) can diced water chestnuts
2 chopped green onions
salt and pepper to taste
butter or iceberg lettuce

We started by boiling boneless chicken breasts and then running them through a food processor after they cooled a bit.  Be careful not to overdo it, or your chicken consistency will be too fine.  Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add ground chicken and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks; drain the excess fat.  

Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions are translucent, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the diced chestnuts and green onions until tender, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Spoon into individual lettuce leaves.  This is also great with tortillas, crackers, or on little slices of bread as a cute appetizer.  Add a kick to your scrambled eggs the following morning!  It reheats almost as good as when you first made it!  


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saving Money with Greeting Cards

If you're like me, you rush into a grocery store on your way to a party to grab a card.  It could be a birthday card, thank you card, new baby, graduation, whatever.  A card goes with the gift, or in the case of gift cards, a card IS the gift.  The right card is important, but it's always been the "extra" thing.  Recently though, the card has become an expensive part of gift giving.  Some of this can be attributed to the complexity of cards with sound and delicately cut designs, but let's face it - greeting cards are getting really expensive!

Recently, I decided that if a standard greeting card is going to cost $5.00 or more in a grocery store, at least I'm going to find something handmade and unique.  Look no further than Etsy.

Just search "handmade greeting cards" to find over 70,000 listings.  You can find intricate hand cut cards, hand drawn illustrations, funny cards and photo cards.  You can buy them individually or in sets and spend much less than you would at the drug or grocery store.  Here's a few I found (click on the link below the picture to visit that Etsy store):

Now if you're like me, about now you are saying - who buys greeting cards in advance??  I did, but as a set of general cards.  You can really save money this way too.  I bought this set of 8 cards of my choice for $20.  Even with the shipping costs added in that is less than $4 a card.  

I don't even have to make a stop on the way to my next party!  As an extra bonus, I don't have to worry about whether the graduate or birthday card recipient will be getting a duplicate card from another guest!

Have a few minutes?  Shop Etsy for a huge selection of unique greeting cards.  Buy from the comfort of your living room 24 hours a day for delivery to your door!  Support small businesses!


Saturday, June 9, 2018

One Week Until Father's Day . . .

I'm happy to report that my childrens' father is already secured for Father's Day and we are still a week out.  However, if you don't have a gift (or a plan), I have been in your shoes some most years.  Never fear, here are some great ideas for gifts Dad is sure to love.  Here are suggestions by category (links to products included):

Personal Care

Lillian Vernon Personalized Grooming Bag  $42.99 at Amazon
No more Ziploc bag for Dad!

Goby Brush Kit (Includes Subscription)  $50.00 at Goby
This includes a subscription for a new brush head every month (or whenever you tell them)

Harry's Winston Shave Set  $25 ($15 more engraved at Harry's

Loris Azzaro Chrome $40.95 at Amazon

Interests and Vices

Personalized Hammer  $21.00+  at Etsy

Personalized Humidor  $52.79 at Etsy

Cornhole Bags  $25.98 at Amazon
Assorted colors and designs for the man who loves to play cornhole

Unique Gifts

DNA Test   $69 from  Find out Dad's ethnic background and backstory!

Holy Stone Drone  $279.99 at Amazon

Magnetic Wristband for DIY  $12.99 at Amazon

Holds all those little things he needs while completing the "honey-do" list!

Free (if you have an Echo)

If "Alexa" lives at your house, you can teach her to give Dad compliments on his special day.  It's very easy to do, and they provide suggestions as well as let you say exactly what you want.  If "Alexa" doesn't live with you yet, why not get an Echo Dot from Amazon?  They start at $39.99 and an Echo Show with a screen to view images and video is $149.99.

Hope your Father's Day is fun!


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pinterest Try-It - Lemon Brownies

Here's a great recipe from "Gonna Want Seconds" that I found on Pinterest.  (If you are the one person left that is NOT on Pinterest, run, don't walk and get an account.  It's a life changer.)

It's that time of year when I'm trying to get rid of the last lemons on my tree and this recipe is SOO easy and yummy, you have no excuse not to try it.  These are not the same as Lemon Squares, which have a more gooey consistency. The consistency of these is really more like soft chewy brownies. In fact, if you prefer your brownies slightly more cake-like, add a 1/4 tsp of baking powder to this recipe.  I like mine chewy!

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 Tbl. lemon zest
2 Tbl. lemon juice

1 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbl. lemon juice
2-3 Tbl. lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8" baking dish with aluminum foil.  Use 2 pieces, so there is overlap on all sides.  Spray a non-stick spray on the aluminum foil.  This is an important step that I was so thankful for when I read the original recipe.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter and beat until combined.  I softened my butter in the microwave first so the combination would be smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Use a fine grater for the zest and don't grate beyond the white rind on the lemons.  That way your zest is just yellow and not bitter.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour/sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour the mixture into the lined pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  (You can do a toothpick test to check if they are done.)  Cool the brownies COMPLETELY before you glaze them.

Once the brownies are cool, combine the powdered sugar with half of the lemon juice (1.5 Tbl), stirring as you do.  Add the remaining lemon juice.  You want a thick, but pourable consistency with the glaze.  Apply the glaze to the brownies.  Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest over the top. 

I agree with the original recipe that your best bet is to refrigerate the glazed brownies overnight BEFORE cutting them or even removing them from the pan.  These are awesome cold.

That's it!  Super yummy, but be prepared to make several batches of these because they will go fast!


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Being the Perfect Air B&B Guest

When my family travels, we like to stay in houses instead of hotels, especially when we are going to be in a location for more than a day or two.  We've had great experiences with Air B&B and VRBO in locations from Hollywood, California to Bismarck, North Dakota. Some places are better than others, but I always try to keep in mind that this is someone's home, whether they are currently living in it or not. I also keep in mind that I am being rated as a guest and those ratings will be seen by property owners considering my request to rent their property.

So how can you be the perfect Air B&B guest? I have two basic principles - leave no trace, or if you do leave a trace, leave a good feeling. Think like a teenager after an illicit house party - make it look like you were never there. And, if you're so inclined, leave a little something behind to thank the owner. Here's how:

1. Take pictures of every room as soon as you get there.  We always check out the entire place when we get there.  It's easy enough to snap pictures while you take that initial tour. It will be a lot easier to get those little things like pillows, throw blankets and dishes in the right cabinets if you have pictures of the way you found it.

2. Carefully read and follow the owner's instructions about what to do before you leave. Each owner is different, but everyone likes to know you can follow directions. If you are staying for more than 24 hours, be sure to call the owner if you find any problems or have any questions.  Owners hate to hear complaints after you've gone, especially if they could have fixed them.

3. If you use up a supply of something, replace it. Most properties have some food staples, toilet paper, paper towels or cleaning supplies. You don't have to replace everything you use, but it's just a nice thing to do if you replenish one or more of the staples. Pay it forward for the owner and the next guest.

4. Don't leave stains or smells.  If you stain something and it is washable, take care of it. Likewise, if you stain something that can't be washed, don't try to hide it. If it's something small like a pillow, leave a little money or if it's big, like furniture or carpet, call the owner BEFORE you leave. Smells are tough too. I bring Scentsy with me when I can, but I can't carry multiple warmers in luggage. Airing out the house and some aerosol sprays can help, but be careful not to leave too much scent either.

5. Clean up. Some might disagree with me, but a home is not a hotel. You don't have to thoroughly clean the house, but at least gather up all the garbage. Clean the dishes and put them away. Make sure everything gets back where it was when you arrived. Strip the beds that were used and include the used towels. Wipe out the sinks and showers so you aren't leaving hair. Turn everything off and adjust the heat/cool settings where they were when you arrived. Again, be sure to follow the owner's directions.

6. Leave something behind. This can be as simple as a thank you note, a little candy, or a gift. Something for the house like dishtowels or cooking implements is a nice touch. If the owner has a guestbook, be sure to leave a nice note with some hints for the next guests about things to do.

I'm happy to have the option to stay in someone's house when I travel, so for me doing these little things is my way of expressing my appreciation and renewing confidence in good manners and kindness.