Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Family Reunion

It's summertime again and with summer comes the inevitable Family Reunions. Now, I am a family oriented kinda gal and I love to cook for other people, the problem with so many of these reunions are these are people I don't know, see once a year and don't know what to talk about.

So what ends up happening is my family sits together at one table and we talk amongst ourselves and each individual family does the same. Why do we do this? Because it's comfortable of course! For one thing, you know these people! You have things to talk about. How are your kids? Did Nate see the Doctor yet? Have you taken care of your cat's hernia? You know these people and what is going on in their lives, even if it is dull and unappetizing. And for another thing, you know all of their names! I hate it when someone comes up to me and starts talking like we are long lost buddies and I haven't the slightest clue who they are. Which leads to the third reason we group, there is power in groups. Someone is bound to know the answer! So while you are politely nodding your head, smiling and searching your brain for some glimmer as to who this might be, if your family is worth anything at all, the one who does know who you are talking to will break in and say something like, "Aunt Madeline! It's been, what 25 years since we have seen you! It's good to see you again!" Then they would turn to you and say "Do you remember when you last saw Aunt Madeline, when you were 3! She gave you that beautiful orange and mauve sweater that she hand knitted." This gives you a conversation point and once she walks away you now have a much better conversation with your family about how horrid that sweater was!

And for most family reunions you at least try to look presentable. You put on a pair of jeans without holes in the knees and a nice blouse. You do your hair in something other than the "Kiss my ....... I really just don't care" ponytail and you put on makeup. All so you can go sit in 100 degree weather. Before long your mascara is running and your hair is frizzy. Your blouse is hanging on you and sticking to your back and of course, this is when cousin Caroline whips out her brand new Canon camera and announces that it is picture time.

Of course by this time you realize that you are not alone in the looks department. Uncle Jay decided to wear his shorts which show off his glaring white chicken legs, Aunt Jackie is in a strappy white sundress with beautiful red splotches from the punch little Duncan has spilled on her numerous times and Grandma's eye's are red and blood shot from playing in the sand box with little Maddie who is learning that throwing sand is a no-no.

So into the picture we all go. Smushed up against people you know less than the checker at Albertson's, all sweaty and hot and forced to smile. And of course, when asked if you would like the pictures e-mailed to you...... you promptly provide your e-mail address.

Cooking with the PS3

I have to admit, I am a sucker for a video game. Granted they only hold my very short attention spam for an hour or so, but once hooked, I am back for more every couple of hours!

But now they have just gone too far! They have combined my love of cooking and my love of gaming into two gotta have games for my PS3! First, one of my favorite shows is Hell's Kitchen. (Even though I would be thrown out before the show ever started!) But I live to see what they come up with. But now I can play Hell's Kitchen on PS3..... Yeah... I have plenty of time for that!

And as if that wasn't bad enough, my husband brought home Cooking Mama Cook Off! It's a two player game, so now my husband AND I are both wasting time. You face off in cook off challenges to see who is the best chef. It's great! The food even changes the way it looks according to your actions. No... my house is totally not getting cleaned now. Laundry? Forget about it!

Know before you go!

Before you head out and buy the next new craze in diet pills, make sure you know what you are looking for. Know what you want your diet pill to do. Do you want it to suppress your appetite? Do you want sustained weight loss? How about increased energy? Or even acne fighting? There are so many pills on the market today that do so many different things, you really do need to know before you go!

Take the time to do your research. Read up on weight loss pill reviews written by people who have used them, loved them as well as those that have hated them. It give you good perspective to get the good, the bad AND the ugly! Remember to keep an open mind while you are searching, but not open enough that all your brains fall out. If it sounds to good to be true..... It most likely is. Fads come and go, but the really good ones stick around for the long haul.

And don't forget that weight loss pills alone are not enough. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest and exercise.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blueberry creme muffins

I stumbled across this recipe at allrecipes.com while trying to find good uses for Bruce's cereal and I fell in love. I made a few adaptations and you will have to too in order to make it your own.

It would definitely not pass a slimming pills review, they would kick it to the curb. This is by no means lowfat. But it is Oh So Good!!! Give it a try, tweak it a little and I think you will find that you have a new favorite muffin recipe!

Cooking Fun

I never thought I'd say this but I am SO glad that my kids are finally old enough to help me out in the kitchen! For the better part of their lives I have scuttled them out of the kitchen as soon as they set foot through the door. Visions of sugar covered fingers and flour covered floors filled my head. And as they scurried away, little disposable diapers butts disappearing around the corner I would emit a sigh of relief. I was again free to continue my creation in the kitchen.

However, now that we are free of diapers, my children are venturing back into the kitchen, little by little. And to my surprise, I am welcoming them! I find it wonderfully fulfilling to watch my 9 year old make dinner with nearly no help from me at all. And helping my 5 year old make a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and red sprinkles for her big sister, with no particular occasion in mind, makes me shine with pride! My 13 year old is another story! I can leave him alone in the kitchen and find wonderful, inventive and imaginative masterpieces when I return. Simple foods made into delicious meals and presented in such fun! One day he made dinner into a whole pirate scene, complete with ships and water, islands and dessert treasure! He really is amazing.

Like I said, I never thought I would hear the words issuing from my own lips but, I am so glad my kids love to cook with me!

Staying Fit

Staying healthy and fit is more than just your diet. You need to have a complete and healthy diet along with lots of exercise, plenty of sleep and low levels of stress. All of these things factor into why people have trouble losing weight. If you don't know how to lose fat, try some of these simple ideas. Try getting up early, having an apple and some yogurt for breakfast and going on a bike ride while it's still cool enough to do so. Eat a light lunch, turkey sandwich with lots of lettuce and tomato's and very little mayo.... no cheese and a water. Snack on carrots and ranch and eat a decent dinner. Spend 20 minutes before bed reading a book, crafting or just relaxing in a bubble bath. Get yourself into bed early. You will feel better all day long!

Music in the Kitchen

Is it just me or are their others out there that have to have music playing while they are cooking? My husband commented to me the other day that he finds it strange and distracting to have music playing while he is cooking. (Of course, I commented that it would be rather difficult for him to ruin those Banquet Pot Pies or the Ramen Noodles he makes.) But now I am self conscious. Am I really the only one that has to have Mp3 players or stereo's in the kitchen? My iPod actually docks on my kitchen counter!

I listen to music while I cook. It calms me, keeps me focused and my food turns out much better. I play music while I clean. The cleaning seems to get done much faster when the radio stations are playing the upbeat, dance to them, songs. I just love it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Do Mom's Need Life Insurance?

I haven't thought much about life insurance, after all, I am only 30, a stay at home (sometimes) mom and make nearly no money. Why would I need life insurance?

When a friend and I were talking one day, she made the comment to me that if I were to pass away, my husband would be left to take care of the children all by himself. He would be left to care for children that are used to having Mom home all the time. Mom dressing them. Mom feeding them. Mom reading to them and Mom cuddling them.

There will be a time that he will have to stay home and help them make that transition, without pay. If I had life insurance, he would be able to take that time without worrying about how to make ends meet. My children and husband would have the healing time they needed without the stress of how they are going to make the bills.

So I started looking at life insurance quotes and found out that it is pretty easy to find cheap term life insurance rates. I can protect my family, even when I am not around to protect them. That gives me some peace of mind, which in today's economy, is pretty hard to come by!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Natural Fat Burners

I know Coconut Oil is supposed to be a wonderful fat burner or metabolism burner and apples are great appetite suppressants, but does anyone else know of any great fat burners? I get alot of questions concerning weight loss drugs, fat burners and natural remedies and I am just about burnt out of ideas, so I am welcoming any comments on what has helped you? What have you tried? What didn't work for you and why do you think it didn't? Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wedding Special Touches - Desserts and Treats

An elegant, unique Wedding Cake is an essential part of any woman's wedding. It is the focal point of the room and the culmination of the evening and take alot of though and planning.

However, don't forget the other treats. Whether you do a formal wedding dinner or a buffet, your guests will love some of these ideas to make your affair the talk of the town.

Tuxedo Strawberries: These are absolutely darling for any wedding dinner. They are elegant, yet fun and oh so simple to make!

Start by melting and tempering one bowl of white chocolate. Wash and dry your large strawberries. Dip each one in white chocolate and lay on 13x9" cookie sheets and cool at room temperature. Then melt a bowl of milk or dark chocolate. Dip each side of the strawberries again in the chocolate. This will cover some of the white, but not all. Fill a decorating bag with a #8 round tip with the remainder of the chocolate and add buttons and a little bow tie to the exposed white chocolate. Allow to cool at room temperature and serve within 24 hours. The strawberries end up looking like they have little tuxedos on.

Wedding Cupcakes: Wedding cupcakes can be a simple addition to the rehearsal dinner. They give the bride the opportunity to add her own special touch, her wedding colors and theme to the rehearsal dinner and they add an elegant, but not too over done flair. Cupcakes can have a simple flower on top or can be airbrushed with a fleur de lis. Both are very elegant, both are very simple. There are so many ways to easily decorate cupcakes that they are almost a must have. Few things in a wedding are simple, grab those that are and run with it!

Chocolate Fountains: Chocolate is one of life's richest and most indulgent treats. It was used in Mayan cultures as an aphrodisiac, in Spain as the treat for royalty and in modern times Chocolate is used in celebration. The chocolate fountain is a beautiful cascade of liquid chocolate falling over what ever delectable little treat is placed under it. A chocolate fountain not only makes
an elegant showing but a fun dessert for all of your guests. More than one chocolate fountain can provide you the opportunity to try white and dark chocolate, caramel and/or flavored chocolates such as mint or amaretto. Your guests can dip strawberries, cinnamon lips, marshmallows, pretzels or Biscotti. The sky's the limit and everyone will be talking about your wedding dinner for years to come!

Fresh Fruit Tartlets: Fresh fruit tartlets are not only simple to make they are also very pretty and can easily be decorated to incorporate your wedding colors. When you are looking to make fruit tartlets, you have a world of endless possibilities and choices. Here are a few of my favorites. Easy Cream Cheese filling: 1 8oz. pkg cream cheese (softened), 1 8oz. tub cool whip (thawed), 1/2 cup sugar. Whip until fluffy. Color with food coloring if desired. Jam Filling: Puree your desired fruit, removing skins or seeds when possible. Mix 4 cups fruit puree, 1 cup sugar and 4 tablespoons Ultraset (proportions will vary with altitude and barometric pressure. Ultraset is very forgiving. Add less than you need and then add more, little bits at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. It should be thick but not clumping.) Fruits: Strawberries, Blueberries, Dragonfruit, Mango, Kiwi, Peaches, Raspberries, Blackberries and Mandrain Orange Slices are all beautiful toppers for Fruit Tartlets.