Homemade Granola Bars: Build A Menu

Homemade Granola Bars

 

This week’s Cooking With Kids recipe is almost too simple, yet the results are fantastic. It’s also a recipe that is very easy to sub Gluten Free/Allergy Friendly ingredients if needed. They last up to a week in an airtight container, making it super easy to make on the weekend and have ready for snacks all week long! Ready to get started? Check the recipe below for your list of ingredients and then follow these simple steps to make your own homemade granola bars.

Homemade granola bars

Ingredients: 

Healthy Granola Bars from Scratch

Directions: 

  • First, dump ALL the ingredients together in a mixer.
  • Add in any of your favorite ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
  • Mix well.
  • Spread the granola mix out on your baking sheet, making sure to keep it about the same thickness all the way across.
  • Once it’s done, cut it while it’s still warm because once it cools it’s crunchy and harder to cut. Use a pizza cutter and cut into “bars.”  
  • Let the bars cool on the pan. Separate once they’re cool enough to touch and have hardened.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Print a copy of this recipe from Build A Menu HERE

Build A Menu  is an online menu planning service that makes meal planning and grocery shopping fast, easy and budget friendly. Not familiar with them? Take a minute to browse the site and see how they can save you time and money, too!

Molly Members get free access to their Dine on a Dime planner and shopping list from the member page – and a special discount to the full service. See benefits here. 

Build a Menu Anniversary Special

build a menu special

The Build a Menu Anniversary Special is here!

Have you “met” the ladies from Build a Menu? We have a special word from them today and we are excited to celebrate with them on their 2nd Anniversary.

Find out more about who they are and what they are all about in the guest post below:

Trying to get dinner on the table for your family and keep your grocery budget under control can be frustrating. Any busy mom can tell you menu planning can be one of the most frustrating jobs we have! Fortunately, there are services such as Build a Menu that can help you plan a menu your family will love. Build A Menu not only provides you with new recipes to choose from each week, each recipe shows the current cost to buy its ingredients at the store, making it super easy to keep a handle on your grocery budget.

BAM helping families

What makes it even better is that you can design your selections around the grocery store where you shop. Choose from different recipe categories based on your family’s individual preferences. You’re not locked in to just one menu, but rather you can mix and match any way you like!

BAM 3 easy steps

 

In three easy steps you can select the store you like to shop at, pick your recipes and print your customized shopping list. Voila! You’re done menu planning for the week!

Build a Menu has a variety of recipes to choose from for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks and desserts as well. Simply select the store where you want to shop, choose the recipes you want, print out the recipes and shopping list, and you’re ready to go…including the prices for the ingredients that you will be purchasing.

How great is that!?

BAM categories

You can choose recipes from any of these categories to create a menu that’s perfect for you family:

Family Friendly
Trim Healthy Mama
Low Carb
Gluten Free
Low Fat/Sensible Portions
Allergy Friendly (No gluten, dairy, nuts)
Vegetarian
Slow Cooker
Soups On
Crowd Pleasers
Manly Meals

Not only is Build A Menu committed to helping families save time and money thru menu planning, they also donate a portion of their proceeds to orphan care charities, so when you join Build A Menu, you’ll also be joining in their effort to support these charities!
To save you even more money, use Coupon Code 12for35 and get ½ off a year membership making it only $35 for the entire year.  Hop on over and get started now!

Molly members – Get a 3 month membership for Only $15 (regularly $8) See your Membership page for special code and link.  Molly members also have exclusive access to the special downloads from BAM’s Dine on a Dime menu and shopping lists – RIGHT from your Molly Member page!

All Molly readers can get a special $4 off on your first month with coupon code SaveMeMoney – or take advantage of the SUPER 1/2 off the annual membership with Coupon Code 12for35 – Go here to get started today! 

Cooking with Kids during the Holidays: a simple muffin recipe

Works for Me Wednesday:

Do you cook with the kids during the holidays

kids can help

 

A simple way to get kids involved in preparing for company or helping to feed the family during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons . . . let them make cake – well, muffins anyway! This easy, frugal recipe will be sure to surprise you. It makes a delicious, moist muffin the whole family will love.

Ingredients: 

 

pumpkin muffins

Directions: 

Follow directions on box and after spooning into muffin cups, sprinkle generous spoonful of brown sugar on top of each muffin before baking.

Find ways to allow your children to help out in the kitchen. Baking cookies for a sweet neighbor, making muffins for the elderly couple down the street, or even stirring up a special mix of snacks for visiting cousins can go a long way towards making them feel like a big part of things. Encouraging your children as they learn in the kitchen helps grow their self esteem and lets them know they have an important role in the family.

Cooking and baking together can be a terrific way to start family traditions that your children will treasure for a lifetime!

It’s also a wonderful way to teach them to think of others and to show them how to reach out to people in the community.

Try this simple recipe for starters. The muffins are delicious and the children will be so proud!

Linking with Works for Me Wednesday

How about you? Do you have special traditions that involve cooking with the kiddos during the holidays

Learn about more ways to enjoy a frugal & relaxing season with our special Buy One Get One deal on Molly’s Christmas Bundle (read more here) 

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Sneak Peek Monday~ HALF OFF SALE!

It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas (it tends to sneak up on us, doesn’t it?).

Get excited about giving to others! Make some spectacular gifts yourself quickly and easily. Enjoy phenomenal tips to keep the holiday season stress-free as you put these ideas to good use! Return to this magazine to use them all year long.

Tucked neatly within these pages, you’ll find truly unique, money-saving gifts to warm aching muscles or provide emergency light, bringing your thoughtfulness to mind long after Christmas. Gifts to reach the heart through taste buds—from dessert to bread and snacks, or cleaning recipes you and your gift recipients will appreciate!

Comfort and Joy for Christmas is this week’s featured HALF OFF magazine!

Spend just $2.50 and save much more in time and money with superb gift ideas, scrumptious recipes, planning help, and encouragement for making the most of the Christmas season—without losing your sanity and while keeping your focus on the reason for the season, Jesus Christ!

 

Are you still trying to decide if this E-Book is perfect for you? View a sample of this item right here.

There are so many ways to save and a lot to learn. . . a small price to pay compared to the great benefits you’ll receive and the money you’ll be saving once you dig into this magazine! Buy this E-Magazine for ONLY $2.50 (sale price is reflected upon checkout)!

Molly members already have this magazine in your member page! Simply click the “Molly Members” tab above, log in, and search out December 2009.

If you’re not a Molly member, check out everything you receive and sign up now on our SUBSCRIPTION PAGE!

Works for Me~ Summer Emergency Supplies

The sun definitely deserves respect! Having fun this summer is a priority but protecting your family from sun danger is a must! In times like these it’s important to turn to the right source. Please see the information below on what Priscilla Slagle, M.D. has to say about staying safe in the sun.


It’s summer and the heat is on.  You’ll likely be outside more than usual, hopefully having a good time.
 
Although getting outdoors and exercising is great for your health, it can also be dangerous, if too hot, and  you are not prepared. Make sure warm weather enjoyment doesn’t turn into dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion or worse.
 
Before you begin any sustained outdoor activities it is important to know the heat index. The heat index is a combination of the temperature and humidity to reflect the actual heat effect on us. It is more telling than just the temperature. It is helpful to use this linkto determine the heat index for the day before you start any outdoor activities. Just type in the zip code in the upper left corner to find the heat index for any area you wish.
 
Here are a few summer health tips as a timely reminder to keep you safe and healthy while working, playing or vacationing in a hot climate.
  • DRINK PLENTY OF WATER & ELECTROLYTE (SALT)REPLENISHING FLUIDS WHEN THEY ARE INDICATED
 
Next to air, water is the most essential element for our existence. Water is much of what we are, as the average human body is 60-70% water.   If you wait to drink until you are thirsty, you are already 1-3% dehydrated.   So drink before you get thirsty, especially in warmer climates. Thirst mechanisms are not totally reliable and are particularly impaired in the elderly.  Research suggests that at best 70-80% of us walk around in a  state of mild dehydration.  Imagine how much more at risk we are when out in the hot weather. Under ordinary circumstances, the average adult loses 10 cups of water daily by breathing, sweating, and eliminating.  This is magnified when there is excess heat, sweating, and activity.
 
Even when swimming you need to drink plenty of fluids. Just because you are in water does not mean your body isn’t losing fluids that need to be replenished.
 
I am amazed to hear from my patients how many people do not like  water!  These people need to be especially careful to drink enough. Since they tend to avoid water, it works best for them to put a 24 hour supply in a glass container, then take water from that supply and make sure all of it is gone in each 24 hours.  Counting glasses can be tedious and inaccurate.   If you are minimally active, the ideal number of ounces to drink in a 24 hour period is your weight divided by 2.
 
BUT HOW MUCH WATER DO YOU NEED TO DRINK?
If you are active, your water needs increase.  You can calculate your daily water needs, cross referenced with your activity level at this link.  You will see that the more exercise you do, the greater is the need for water. The difference can be dramatic.  A 158 pound person’s daily need for water would increase from 79 oz when sedentary to 125 oz with daily aerobics. Many do not adjust water intake to activity level.  The best way to make sure you keep hydrated is to always have a glass or bottle of water with you to remind you to keep drinking.  Be sure you do not leave your bottled water in hot cars or other warm places as the chemicals in the plastic are more apt to leach in to the water when heated.
 
WHEN DO YOU NEED ELECTROLYTE REPLENISHING FLUIDS?With high intensity exercise or work for more than 3-5 hours , or with prolonged excessive sweating you may also need to add the electrolytes, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium such as in a electrolyte drink or electrolyte powders added to a drink.  Smart water, Powerade Zero, Ultima Replenisher have electrolytes, but no sugar or calories.  If you drink an electrolyte drink too fast it could be nauseating.  Vegetable juices also contain electrolytes. Emergen C powder contains electrolytes and can be added to any drink. There are numerous electrolyte sports drinks on the market. Unless you are an endurance athlete or are doing hard sustained physical labor in the heat, you will usually not need anything beyond water, fruit, vegetables, and vegetable juice.  Researchers also found that skim milk worked as well as an electrolyte drink in tests they performed on exercising subjects.
 
Because decreased water impairs the optimal functioning of the body at the cellular level, dehydration worsens almost any  pre-existing health condition, such as allergies, asthma, heart disease, strokes, infections, kidney stones. Dehydration also impairs  mental and physical functioning.  For every 1% of water weight we lose, our capacity to do work or exercise decreases 10%. Pretty dramatic!
 
Trying to get quench thirst with the wrong liquids can make matters worse. Alcohol, and caffeinated or carbonated drinks act as diuretics and can easily dehydrate,  leaving you feeling tired and worn out. If it is hard to quit drinking these types of beverages all together, try to limit the amount you usually drink, switching from a large container every morning to a small container every other day.  Also drink more water to try to compensate.
 
 Carbohydrates help extend duration of activity, especially when combined with protein. Small amounts of caffeine limits the deterioration of performance associated with fatigue.
 
Those who have higher risk of heat related illness include:
 
  • Infants and children up to four years of age.
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are ill
  • Endurance athletes and hard physical laborers
  • Those exercising at high altitude
 Also at higher risk are those taking the following medications:
  • Psychotropics, such as major tranquilizers or antidepressant medications.
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease, because they can inhibit perspiration
  • Diuretic medications or “water pills” that affect fluid balance in the body.
 The Symptoms of mild dehydration can be  thirst, headaches,  general fatigue, nausea, dark colored urine, constipation and bloating, dry skin and mucous membranes, and a flushed face.  If you ever get a dull headache immediately start drinking water and you will usually find that the headache disappears.
 
The symptoms of moderate dehydration can be fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, light headedness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, impatience and irritability, headache, cold hands and feet,  muscle cramping, fainting, and reduced urine output.
 
  •  REMEMBER EXTREME HEAT CAN BE DANGEROUS!
All outdoor activities in high heat are physically stressful and can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. The difference between the two may mean life or death.
 
Heat exhaustion sets in when we become so dehydrated that our body cannot sweat enough to cool down causing the temperature to rise. The person’s temperature may be elevated up to 104 F.
 
Heat exhaustion symptoms can cause pale cool, moist skin, profuse sweating, muscle cramps or pains, feeling faintness or dizziness, headache, weakness, thirst, and nausea. There may be a rapid pulse, and decrease in blood pressure.
 
Heat Stroke is a life-threatening condition which occurs when your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher. High environmental temperatures can bring it on, especially when combined with  strenuous physical activity or  other conditions that raise your body temperature. Whatever the cause, you’ll need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or death.
 
Heat Stroke Symptoms include unconsciousness, markedly abnormal mental status including dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, coma, flushed, hot, and dry skin (although it may be moist initially from previous sweating or from attempts to cool the person with water), slightly elevated blood pressure at first that falls later, and/ or hyperventilating. If you or someone around you have heatstroke, you need to go immediately to the emergency room to receive intravenous fluids.
 
  • PROTECT YOUR SKIN & EYES FROM HARMFUL UV RAYS
Even if you don’t plan to spend too much time outdoors, apply the right sunscreen to exposed areas of your body, but cover as many areas as possible. Sunscreen can prevent painful sunburn, skin damage, development of moles, wrinkles, as well as skin cancer. A broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB harmful rays is the best choice.
 
Not all sunscreens are equal and some are even harmful.
 
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed a rating  scale based upon safety and effectiveness for all sunscreen products. To achieve a top rating the sunscreen had to contain the minerals zinc or titanium, which help reduce UVA exposures.  The sunscreen  should not contain oxybenzone or Vitamin A. Studies have suggested a possible link between using suntan lotions with oxybenzone and a subsequent higher risk of  skin cancer.  The EWG also recommends  you avoid powder or spray sunscreens.  Some people are allergic to most sunscreens, such as myself.  I have found our Aloe Non-Chemical Sun blocker to be very useful.
 
Here is the EWG top ranked list of sunscreens, all rated 1:
 
Badger
Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 30, Unscented,
Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 30, Unscented,
Sunscreen for the face & Body, SPF 30, Unscented
 
Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+
 
Loving Naturals
Sunscreen, SPF 30+
 
Purple Prairie Botanicals
Sun Stick, SPF 30 SunStuff, SPF 30
 
Soleo Organics
 All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
 
Atlantis Resort
 All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
 
Wyland Organics
 All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
 Avoid sun exposure during the most intense periods of the day. Avoid prolonged sun exposure between noon and three, or eleven and four if you’re very sensitive to the sun to keep your skin covered.
 
When you are out and about cover up. A hat that shades your face and neck is a must-have. Wear clothing that covers you. White clothing, especially flowing cloth, will help to keep you cool; the tighter the knit, the more protection from the sun’s rays will be provided.
 
 If you spend time gardening, a long-sleeved shirt and gloves to protect your hands will keep you safe. Sitting in the shade is a great way to stay outside without having to worry about your skin, so don’t feel like you can’t enjoy the great outdoors, just be conscientious while doing so.
 
Don’t forget to include sunglasses in your summer wardrobe. Select sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays and have a wraparound style that prevents sunlight from shining into your eyes.  Adequate eye protection from the sun can help prevent the formation of cataracts.
 
  •  BE SURE TO SCHEDULE TIME TO REST AFTER ACTIVITY
We all know that sunshine & warm weather provide us with a wide range of activity choices. But we must be aware of our physical limitations to avoid letting overexertion sap our energy and impair our judgment.
 
 If you  need to be working in very hot temperatures, you should try to acclimate your body by only spending a few minutes a day in extreme heat for the first couple of weeks.
 
It is very important to schedule time to rest, relax and even take a nap if necessary.
  •  DON’T STOP EATING HEALTHFULLY
With vacations & summer picnics comes the temptation to pig out. Try not to. Excessive  junk food, heavy fatty foods, spicy and starchy foods, & sweets fail to provide your body with the nutrients and water found in healthy food. Junk food eating can deplete your body of essential energy.
 
Summer brings with it a wide variety of fresh fruits & vegetables, so enjoy them freely.
 
Foods high in beta- carotene including carrots, spinach, apricots, peaches, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mangoes, papayas, oatmeal, and lots more can protect your skin against sun damage.
 
 So make healthy eating a priority this summer by focusing on simple snacks that don’t take much  work such as:
  • Fresh berries kept in the refrigerator to add to salads, yogurt and ice creams
  • You can also freeze all sort of berries or grapes for a delicious cooling snack.
  • Healthy extras, like lettuce and tomatoes, kept in your produce bin.
  • Try homemade Popsicles by freezing 100 percent juice.
  • Cut up raw vegetables to serve with low-fat dips or yogurt.
  • Blended fruit smoothies with protein powder and ice are easy to make and only limited by your imagination.
  • Nutritionally dense and delicious, almonds make a fabulous snack.  A top source for vitamin E and magnesium, and a tasty way to get your daily fiber, they also protect against digestive cancers, and contain phosphorous, an essential building block for healthy bones and teeth, that is also helpful in the absorption of other vitamins, like B-complex vitamins. Almonds are also rich in healthy fat, protein, potassium, calcium, and iron. 
  • Walnuts and pecans, sunflower seed, pumpkin seeds are also healthy snacks.  You can snack on nuts alone or by mixing with dried fruit, such as cranberries, or blueberries. You can also chop or sliver  nuts add to many dishes, breads, cereals, and desserts.
  • Green tea is a healthy refreshing drink which is mostly water.  You sip on iced weak green tea all day, preferably sweetened with Stevia Powder or non sweetened.
 
Safe summer fun works for me! What summertime precautions do you take when having fun-in-the-sun?
 
 
Dr. Slagle has incorporated vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, natural hormones & other natural substances into her practice since 1975, being one of the pioneers in the Alternative Medicine Field.The Way Up From Downpresents her natural “precursor” methods for lifting low moods & relieving the negative effects of stress.

Sneak Peek Monday~ Budget Your Vacation

Tis the season for vacation planning. . . take a sneak peek into my FRUGAL FAMILY VACATIONS magazine today!

Keeping it All Together: Budget Your Vacation

This magazine’s theme is frugal family vacations, and we’ll be looking at a lot of different ways to save money and still enjoy relaxing time together as a family. This column will help to organize your vacation budget and finances (be sure to check the forms at the end of the magazine)!

Vacations do not have to be expensive, especially if you plan ahead. The most important step is to consider where you will need to spend your money—transportation, food, lodging, etc. I have included a worksheet at the end of this Digest for you to print out and use to help you plan the financial aspect of your vacation. First, you need to set a budget based on the cash you have on hand and whatever you will be willing to put on your credit card. If you are going to pay for part of your vacation with credit, be sure that you have a plan in place to pay off that balance as soon as possible.

One of the best ways to save money is to look for vacation packages that include lodging and entertainment in one price. Usually you have to book a room for a certain number of nights, but you’ll save money on tickets to theme parks and other local attractions. Often it is worth it to use a local travel agent, as they have access to deals that you cannot get on your own. You might want to call a couple of local agents to see if they have any specials available. You can also save money by staying at a campground.

Before you get in the car or plane to travel to your vacation destination, plan activities that will keep the kids busy. If they are busy, you might not hear, “Are we there yet?” as often! Head to the local dollar store, and buy some items for a travel “goody bag” like coloring books and crayons, search-a-words, handheld games, stickers and paper, Mad Libs™, etc. Wrap each item and have a schedule set so that the kids know when they can open up a new “present.” This could include times when you cross state lines, stop for a gas refill, see a certain roadside sign, etc. Make it a fun travel “treasure hunt.” Don’t forget to include some snacks and times to eat them. Hungry children do not make for a good trip!

If you are able to afford to travel this year, here are some more tips for saving money when planning for your vacation. At the end of this magazine, you will also find a vacation checklist to remind you of all of the steps to take to plan the perfect vacation.

For more of this article on planning a frugal vacation, CLICK HERE to purchase Frugal Family Vacations as a single issue.

Molly members already have this magazine in your member page! Simply click the “Molly Members” tab above, log in, and search out June 2009.

If you’re not a Molly member, check out everything you receive and sign up now on our SUBSCRIPTION PAGE! 

 

Freebie! Paleo Kid Snacks: 27 Super Easy Recipes that Kids Can’t Get Enough Of (Primal Gluten Free Kids Cookbook) [Kindle Edition]

MGM_Molly's Pick of the Day_freebie_graphic (1)

 

Enjoy this freebie!

Paleo Kid Snacks: 27 Super Easy Recipes that Kids Can’t Get Enough Of (Primal Gluten Free Kids Cookbook) [Kindle Edition]

CLICK HERE FOR THE FREEBIE!

*As always, Kindle freebies are free at the time of posting. Be sure to check the price before purchasing.*

Brontosaurus Bento

Midge copy Guest Blog by: Midge

In my recent check-ins on Pinterest and throughout the Internet, I keep running into the term “Bento”. And the term has confounded me. What in the world is a bento and would using a bento really benefit my family?

I found this great link ~ CLICK HERE which helped explain the term bento.  According to this article, ["Bento" originates from the Southern Song Dynasty slang term 便當 (pinyin: biàndāng), meaning "convenient" or "convenience."] It can be traced back through history possibly as early as 1185 AD. So, a Bento would basically be a convenient lunch box.

Personally, bento boxes remind me of a “Lunchable” with a bit more pizzazz! They certainly are a clever way to dress up your child’s or husband’s lunch and hopefully bring a smile to their face. I have seen a baby harp seal themed bento with the seals shaped out of sticky rice, a Perry the Platypus sandwich bento, a pretend kid’s sushi bento, and many more. The point of the bento is to create a clever design with your food or shape the food into animals, characters, or something fun. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating these “convenient” lunch bentos!

IMG_5252[1]

Midge’s Definition of “bento”:  A small plastic container with a lid containing a cute assortment of cleverly designed food products with the main purpose of sharing a bit of love and happiness with the recipient while they eat lunch or a snack.

So, I started to think about this concept. Would this help my “picky eater”? How creative could I get with a Bento yet still stick to a frugal budget?

First, I had to chose a bento box but I did not buy a box specifically called bento, or just for use as a bento. I ended up picking a plastic container with a lid for about $6 at the local “mart of many discounts”. I also discovered I already had a great separated tray Tupperware container in my cupboard with a lid so it is now also labeled “For Bento Use”.  Click here for some more TIPS ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT CONTAINER FOR YOUR BENTO BOX

I made three different boxes in order to test my bento box theory.

#1 Brontosaurus Bento:

IMG_5262[1]

One Word ~ Awesome! This was the first bento design I tried and it worked! It solved the picky eating issue! I merely used a Brontosaurus sandwich design cutter and cut the PB & J sandwich into two pieces. I did not get too creative with the decorations but I merely tried to do something cute then added loads of grapes and carrots. The end result  was that my picky eater ate everything except the four pieces of cucumber I tried to put in for the look of grass ~ lol. (This sweet child also liked the fact that Momma made the dinosaurs talk!)

#2 Bento with a Heart (see 1st picture)

Well, this bento was definitely more of a miss than a hit. I ended up eating it for a snack myself because the wee one just wasn’t too hungry during our recent road trip. But, on the upside, I am now thinking I need to pack my own bento for road trips! It was healthy, delicious, and frugal. It deterred my need to stop off for a quick snack at the gas station. Bonus!

#3 Chocolate Covered Bento

IMG_5345

Oh yes, of course, I had to try making one for my husband. I made him a snack bento which actually ended up being a before dinner chocolate appetizer by the time it was completed. I dipped strawberries in melted chocolate and then also did the same with crisp bacon. Mmm . . . yup, say it again . . . chocolate covered bacon. This is a “must try” kind of food item for those of you who may be questioning my taste buds’ logic. Super Yum!

I suppose in retrospect, any time you can pack your own snacks and lunch you will end up saving yourself money. And my wee one definitely loved even the small things I did to make the bento more personable. You don’t need to invest a lot of money but a little bit of time and creativity is required in order to dream up your next bento box theme. And for me, just seeing my little one smile at the small Brontosaurus heads peeking out of the bento was enough motivation to try again!!!

And next time, I may just add a Mento to my bento . . . seriously, couldn’t resist adding this sentence in.  lol :)

Oh and look... it's is almost ALL GONE!  Score one for the Bento!

Oh and look… my picky eater’s lunch is almost ALL GONE! Score one for the Bento!

 What is your favorite way to serve lunch to your kids or husband at home or in a lunch box? Have you tried a themed lunch bento? Weigh in with your opinion ~ Is a bento a great frugal choice?

Super Bowl and Tail Gate Parties

The weather has turned cold and football fever has begun for some of us. With a little prep time and some warm up exercises in the kitchen, everyone can enjoy good food, festive themes, and “the game” in a big way. Keep the food simple (yet) tasteful with easy recipes that can be made ahead of time, reheated easily and ready-to-eat within minutes.

Have A Ball

Remember, back in December, when I posted my sausage ball and meatball recipes? They’re not just for the holidays! Sausage balls, spicy meat balls, and olive cheese balls can liven up any party.

Make these little tasty treats ahead time by the dozens. Store in airtight containers and freeze until needed. Simply heat and serve with an array of dipping sauces : honey mustard, Ranch Dressing, marinara, BBQ sauce, and salsa. These tasty treats are sure to score big!

It’s All About The Bowl

Last week, I shared two chili recipes that would be great to serve for a crowd. It may be cold outside but it will be warm in the kitchen! Make this party a fiesta. Stir up a big pot of taco soup, or to make things more fun, have a chili cook-off.

To do this you could encourage friends to bring their favorite chili recipe to the party. Line up the slow cookers in the kitchen, have bowls and spoons ready with a toppings buffet filled with: shredded cheese, onions, salsa, corn chips, tortilla chips, and crackers. You might like to purchase an inexpensive, brightly colored soup bowl and award the winning chili cook with a “super bowl” of their own.

Traditional Super Bowl Foods and Snacks

For some, Super Bowl Sunday means a day in front of TV with chips, chicken wings, and sub sandwiches. For others, it’s a time of good fellowship with friends and family. However you spend the day, why not spice things up this year? Instead of just a bag of chips, serve layered nachos and bring those hot wings to life with some Blue Cheese Dressing. Don’t serve the same traditional cold-cut subs. This year consider steak and cheese subs, BBQ chicken, or meatball subs. Perhaps it would be fun to create big mouth burgers infused with Cheddar Cheese and bacon!

Top It All Off With Deep Fried Desserts

Have you ever tried deep fried desserts? Try some of these delectable treats: Twinkies, Snickers, cupcakes.  You might top them with powdered sugar or home-made ice cream. Use your imagination!

How Do You Tail Gate?

Game on! Tell me how you make game day special at your house or tailgate party. What foods do you serve? Do you dress in team colors?

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Winter Car Care

As we slide into January, why not take a few moments to make sure your car(s) are in tip-top shape? Should you find yourself caught in the midst of a storm, would you be prepared to wait it out? Let’s start with the basics. . .

Car Care Maintenance

Get a tune up, change the oil and filters on your vehicle(s). It is recommended to change the oil about every 3,000 miles to extend the life of your car and prevent major break downs. Filters can be changed less often, about every 15,000 miles.

Go ahead and give your car a good cleaning, inside and out. Cleaning the exterior of a car prevents rust and may prevent an accident. If your brake lights are covered with mud and grime, will the driver behind you be able to see you clearly if you brake suddenly?

Also check the tires, rotate them and replace any worn ones. No one wants a flat in the middle of a blizzard! Finally, take your car in to get it aligned.

When your car is properly aligned, tires don’t wear as fast, your car may run smoother and burn less gas. If you are constantly on the road, consider having your car aligned every two to three years.

Cars are so expensive now that more and more people are choosing to keep and drive their cars for many years. It used to be that most consumers would buy a new car every 5 to 10 years. As the prices of cars continues to increase, consumers are choosing to maintain their current cars longer.

Save at the Pump

Although we’ve had a little relief from the ever-increasing price of gas, one never knows how long that will last. Here are a few simple ways to save at the pump:

  • Take good care of your car – just like your body, if you take good care of it, you may function better and may be healthier. If your car is in good shape, it may burn gas more efficiently.
  • Make sure your tires are aired up properly, you can increase mileage by 3.5 percent just by making sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Shop around and do gas price comparisons before you fill up. Gas prices can be as different as $.01-$.10 a gallon between filling stations. Don’t stop at the first one you see unless you have no choice and you know it’s the cheapest option. In most cases, gas at a supermarket or large retain chain store is the cheapest option.

Emergency Preparedness

Let’s say you’re on a weekend trip, you’re in the middle of nowhere and a blizzard hits. Are you and your car prepared to wait out the storm? Here are a few things you can do ahead of time to be prepared should the unexpected arise:

  1. Keep a basic winter survival kit in your vehicle: flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water (up to 3 days worth), gloves, boots, first-aid kit, and car phone charger. In case you do get stranded, emergency workers advise to put flares outside if you have them and stay in your car until help arrives.
  2. Load your car with winter travel gear tire chains, ice scraper/snow brush, jumper cables, road flares, a battery operated radio, and a LED battery operated lantern. I also keep a few cans of de-icer and “fix a flat” in your car.

What would you do if you thought you might be caught in your car during a storm? What precautions would you take?

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