Archive for the ‘Your Food’ Category

Halloween Still Rocks!

In budget, Your Food, Your Home on October 14, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Next to Christmas, Halloween was my favorite holiday when I was a kid. Though my days of dressing up as Piglet and Minnie Mouse are long gone, Halloween is still celebrated in my home.   

Here are a few EASY treats and tricks to help you have fun this Halloween season. Click the title links for instructions.

Cagey Ghost

Turn unused tomato cages into friendly or spooky ghosts. I made this project last night.  It’s super easy and a lot of fun to make.

Note:  If you intend to place your ghosts outside, consider using a plastic shower curtain ($2 at Walmart)   instead of a white bed sheet.  The plastic cover will protect your little friends if it rains.

Pumpkin Fashions

17 spooktacularly sensational ideas for turning your so-so pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern with pizzazz!

Last Minute Budget Friendly Costumes

It’s not too late to deck out your little (and not so little) ones with creative and easy-to-make  customs.

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Halloween isn’t just about the candy.  Here are 15 fun, hearty and healthy snacks.

Pumpkin Hair Bows

These adorable pumpkin clips are perfect Halloween accessories for your little one’s hair.  This trio was handcrafted by Paige’s Pretty Bowtique.

Free Screen “Scream” Saver

Enter this spooky 3D graveyard if you dare.  Brave the stormy night as the living dead, bats, assorted  ghouls and howling sounds materialize.

Happy Halloween! 

*Sources: Family Fun, Screen Saver and Etsy

The Benefits of Cooking Groups

In Your Food, Your Guest Writers on October 4, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Image Credit Michaela Kobyakov


There’s almost nothing bad that one can really say about cooking groups. Defined for the sake of this article as groups in which likeminded people gather in a single place, cook large quantities of food, and reconvene to do the same thing weekly or monthly, a cooking group provides a number of opportunities: it gives one a chance to meet new people, discover foods and ingredients that one otherwise might not have come across, and come away with leftovers for less than it would cost to eat out or cook for one.  

Cooking clubs may specify a type of food or impose a dietary restriction to attract a specific crowd; for example, a number of cooking clubs exist to produce vegan or vegetarian meals. In doing so, they help people meet others in their community who may have similar social or political interests and bring together a group that may, depending on the surrounding area, be otherwise unserved by the restaurants around them. Others may focus on a style, or each week suggest a guideline to produce variety; one, for example, may emphasize Italian cooking one week, then produce Korean or Indian food the next. In doing so, attendants are forced both to expand their repertoire and get to learn new things to make when cooking outside of the cooking club. 

Some members may have connections of some kind, which can then translate into better deals and better meals for everyone. If a club has an attendant who, for example, butchers meat, that person may be able to provide cuts at a discount as well as in bulk, then share their expertise when that meat is prepared, served, and enjoyed. If a particularly experienced baker participates in one, they can show off the ways in which they prepare certain goods in order to teach other aspiring bakers. Amateur (or professional) beer brewers, winemakers, and distillers can supply their wares as well, adding another element to a cooking club. 

Cooking clubs often also cook enough to leave everyone with leftovers. This is an obvious convenience, as one’s labors are rewarded not just once, but several times throughout the week. Better yet, some produce difficult to make condiments, sauces, reductions, and garnishes, many of which either require costly ingredients or are, for various reasons, prohibitive to make at home in small quantities. By making them for a cooking club, you can get the experience without having a mountain of something that can only last a few days, ensuring that all of it will be used before it turns, expires, or otherwise becomes inedible. 

Organizing and finding a cooking club can be easy. Groups often promote them on social networking sites, friends (and friends of friends) likely know someone involved with one, and co-ops, local grocery stores, and area coffee shops may all help locate cooking clubs. If there are none, start one: by merely talking to your friends, gauging interest, finding a big enough kitchen, and hitting up farmers’ markets and bulk foods aisles, you’ll be well on your way. 

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.


In Your Food, Your Guest Writers on May 6, 2010 at 8:54 PM

By: Jennifer Brown Banks

With today’s frantic pace, few divas have time to devote energy to making home baked goodies like our moms made back in the good old days. 

Who can forget that sweet aroma that filled the kitchen air when we arrived home from school? It seemed that a glass of cold milk and a warm slice of pie or cake made everything right with the world. 🙂 

Enter year 2010. Between work, P.T.A. meetings, household chores, other obligations, and paying bills, today’s “Super woman” is super tired! 

But that doesn’t mean that you have to deny your “sweet tooth”, or deprive your family and friends baked treats, and a feeling of being fussed over. 

Here’s the good news.

Times have changed. Store bought baked goods don’t have to taste like cardboard, or have that “fake” kind of taste. I’ve discovered quite a few offerings that would appeal to even the most picky of eaters. 

But before I reveal these culinary treasures, these are a few pointers to keep in mind.

  1. Presentation is important. Foods must appeal to our visual sense before they satisfy our taste buds. Pretty cake plates and platters, and creative display should serve as your “canvass” for your masterpiece.
  2. Go a step further by dressing your plate up with colorful fruit slices around the borders of your plate. Try a combination of orange slices and strawberries. The red and orange contrast is simply lovely.
  3. Add to the texture and pleasure by topping your treats off with garnishes like confectioner’s sugars, whipped cream, ice cream, candy sprinkles, or melted caramel.

Now, without further adieu…

These are the brands that fared well when tested in my “kitchen laboratory,” and I believe that they’ll soon become favorites of yours too!

  • ENTENMANN’S—Lemon Crunch Cake
  • PEPPERRIDGE FARM—Chocolate Cake, Chessmen Cookies
  • JEWEL’S—Sweet Potatoe Pie, Strawberry Cake w/whipped creme
  • SARA LEE—Cheesecakes (frozen) Sweet Potatoe Pie
  • BURGER KING’S—Dutch Apple Pie

With summer months ahead, these tasty treats would be a welcome addition to your next barbecue, reunion, or graduation celebration as well.  Here’s to adding more richness to your life!  Bon Appetit!

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, relationship columnist and Blogger who believes in “living well for less”. Visit her blog  Pen and Prosper  and her column at

What’s For Supper?

In Your Food on April 28, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Having a sandwich can be more than just your typical lunchtime affair.  Pair this hearty open-faced alternative with a juicy fruit salad and you’ve elevated the lowly sandwich to a regal state!  Make this budget friendly delight in 20 minutes or less. 

 Open-Faced Monte Cristo  

Monte Cristo Sandwich


 Makes 4 servings 

 Prep Time: 15 minutes, Broil Time: 3 minutes.  


2 large eggs  

½ cup milk  

½ teaspoon salt  

¼ teaspoon pepper  

4 (1” thick bread) slices  

2 tablespoons butter or margarine  

4 tablespoons strawberry jam or jelly  

4 ounces thinly sliced smoked ham  

4 ounces thinly sliced turkey or chicken  

8 slices Swiss cheese  


Powdered sugar  

Strawberries, whole and sliced  

Whisk together first 4 ingredients.  Dip both sides of bread slices into mixture.  

Melt butter in a large skillet; add bread slices, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or till golden brown.  

Spread 1 tablespoon strawberry jam on 1 side of each bread slice; top with turkey, ham and cheese.  Place on baking sheet.  

Broil 5 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with strawberries.  

Honey Fruit Salad  






Makes 4 servings 

Prep Time 15 minutes  

2 large bananas, sliced 

1/2 cup refrigerated orange juice  

1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces  

2 ripe papayas, peeled, seeded and cut into bite size pieces  

1 ½ cups seedless red or white grapes  

1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into bite size chunks  

1 tablespoon honey  

Combine mangos, papaya, grapes and pineapple in bowl.  

Top with bananas.  

Whisk orange juice and honey until blended.  Pour over fruit and gently toss.  


Want to know more about the history of sandwiches?  Check out sandwich FAQs at  Food Timeline 


Skip’s Gone Green!

In Your Food, Your Home on April 24, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Skip the Wonder Beagle


If you’re like most moms, you barely have time to feed yourself or your family, let alone time to make homemade treats for your dog.   No worries here though, this super easy and quick, three ingredient recipe is ready in under 30 minutes, and that includes baking time!      



  Best Buddy Organic Dog Biscuits     


Best Buddy Organic Dog Biscuits


 Oven Temp:  350 Degrees Preheated     


1 cup organic wheat germ     

2 small jars organic baby food (try meat or vegetable flavors)     

1 organic egg     

 Mix wheat germ, baby food and egg togetherroll mixture into Swedish meatball size rounds (larger or smaller depending on the size of your dog).  Place balls on nonstick cookie sheet and slightly flatten with specula.  Bake 25 minutes (+/- 5) then cool on wire rack.  Store your pooch’s biscuits in a decorative  container.       

Yummy for Rover, quick for you!     

Kick it up a notch by using cookie cutters to punch out cute shapes like doggie bones and fire hydrants.    


Dogs Laugh Canister


Check out these sites for more canine confections:     

  All-Natural Dog Treat    

  The Poop Pantry     

 Organic Pet Digest     

 Good Dog Express     



In Your Food, Your Home on April 2, 2010 at 9:47 PM


 Make this super easy and quick,  last-minute Easter treat.  For a really cute gift idea, wrap a colorful ribbon around the cap.


Skinny glass container with cap

Pastel M&Ms

Pour M&Ms into glass container and enjoy –  Yum!






Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs


Easter is on Sunday, and if you’ve got kids, they’re counting on you to make a ton of hard-boiled eggs.  Follow these simple foolproof steps to create a lot of happy Easter faces!

  • Place  eggs in a single layer in a sauce pan and cover with an inch of very cold water.
  • Add a healthy pinch of salt (helps to prevent eggs from cracking and makes them easier to peel) and bring eggs to a boil.
  • After eggs reach a roaring boil, remove them from heat and cover with lid. 
  • Let eggs stand for 12 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.

Let eggs cool completely before decorating.

Happy Easter!

Good to Know!

In You, Your Fashion, Your Food, Your Health, Your World on March 24, 2010 at 7:52 PM

Sit or Squat

Plug your zip code or address into Sit or Squat   to locate a public restroom anywhere in the world!  Go mobile with your IPhone, ITouch, BlackBerry and SMS text.

Red is the New Black

According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, men are more attractive to women wearing red as opposed to other colors. 

Try a New Polish

This year’s colors are bold, bright and vibrant: from neon yellows to trendy blues and metallic golds to timeless nudes

Break Out the Popcorn

A study by the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that popcorn and whole grains have as many antioxidants as vegetables.

Get Your Shine On With WD-40

Spray a little WD on leather shoes and purses, then buff to a shine with a clean cloth. Also adds a layer of protection from nature’s elements.


Tangerine Sparkles


2Cs orange-tangerine juice

3Cs ginger ale

8 chilled glasses filled with crushed ice

Pour juice over glasses, garnish with orange or tangerine slices.

Your Food

In Your Food on February 26, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Yogurt & Fruit Parfait


Wake up your senses with this super easy and yummy parfait.  Layer a medley of berries, fresh fruit, and crunchy granola with a dollop of low-fat vanilla yogurt. Drizzle with honey, and you’ve made a delicious way to start your day. 




  • Grapes
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Low-fat vanilla yogurt-½C
  • Honey
  • Granola-¼C

*Substitute your favorite fruits or use maple syrup instead of honey – enjoy!

Your Food

In Your Food on February 24, 2010 at 3:31 AM

Easy Meals Under $10

One-pot meals are crowd pleasers especially on cold nights, when your kids have hockey practice and you’re busy running around.

One-Pot Chili


  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package chili seasoning mix


  1. Crumble the beef into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until evenly browned. Drain off grease, and mix in the tomatoes, kidney beans and chili seasoning mix. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes (longer if time permits).
  2. Add shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, cilantro, and sour cream to this basic recipe for an added kick.  Pair with a side of baked cornbread.

Cost $9.00

Save with Homemade Croutons

Cut your favorite sliced bread into cubes and coat lightly with PAM.  For added kick, sprinkle with dry herbs.  Toast on a baking sheet in a 350 oven until golden brown, turn occasionally.