I was sitting have my hair done a couple of weeks ago when Connie, my hairdresser and I got to talking about her grown sons. One had swam competively and she was telling me how she was having him go through boxes of old trophies and awards to determine which ones he wanted to keep. This made me think about some solutions for coping with letting certain awards go or a better way to keep all the items. If you are bogged down wth these items from your kids or even your own, two solutions I like are: 1) Make a picture book - Shutterfly and other companies have great templates where you could take pictures of the trophies and awards, document what, who and when in the text portion of book and that small book takes up a fraction of the space! Then your kids can still look and remember all the accomplishments without keeping every single item. The other idea is especially good if there is a name engraved on the trophy plate vs. a "generic" trophy 2) Take the trophy plate piece off each item and then mount onto foam board or pre-done frame backing and then hang your "trophy art" on a wall. Again, hanging one item that displays the important bits takes up far less space!
Crock Pot Mondays - Cheese Savoury
Something a little different for today's Crock Pot Monday...I'm hleping with my son's International Festival this week and making lots of Irish and British foods that I've grown up with and/or have come to love. This item will be brought in my crock pot and served over bits crusty bread for the tasting. At home serve this over thick slices of toasted bread & butter. Similar to a "Welsh Rarebit" and would be great as an easy dinner, served with soup or salad. Ther recipe comes from an old Irish cookbook I have and can easily be dobled or tripled as I'll be doing for the event. You'll need a small to medium sized crock for this one based on how much you'll be making and as always use a liner.
1/2 lb (2 cups) grated Cheddar cheese (do not buy pregrated - buy good Cheddar - I like sharp Vermont white for this and grate yourself with box grater - this is critical)
3 T. milk
1 T. beer
4 oz (1/2 c.) butter
1 tsp. prepared English Mustard (I like Coleman's)
Pepper to taste (I like using white ground pepper in this)
2 T. chopped mixed pickle or chutney - "chopped mixed pickle" is refering to something like Branston Pickle - which you can find in the British foods section of your local grocery. This is a mix of pickled veg and not pickles as American's think of them - you can leave out if you like but they are tasty. I use the "small chunk" variety of Branston when I make this.
Add grated cheese, milk, butter and beer to crock and cook on high until melted, stirring occasionally. Once melted and creamy, turn crock to low and add mustard, pepper to taste and pickle if desired. Serve at once over toasted buttered bread. Can be kept in crock on warm setting for a bit if needed which I'll do to serve for the festival. Can also be used for a fondue type dish and can dip veg and bread into. It's cheesy and yummy - nothing not to love.
Welcome First Day of Spring =Time to start Spring Cleaning. I was trolling on Pinterest a while back and saw several great sites with tips for cleaning naturally. One stood out for clearing a slow drain as our shower had been acting up even though I'd put a thing of commerical (toxic) cleaner/unclogger down it recently. So I tried the tips and not only did they work it was cheap, cheerful and all natural! So if you have a slow drain in a sink or shower:
1) Remover drain stopper/shower drain cover
2) Use a wire hanger to fashion yourself a "drain snake" - unravel top so wire hanger is straight and close top hanging curve so you've got a bit that the gunk can be caught with. Use "snake" to fish into drain and pull out as much obvious gunk as you can.
3) Take 1/2 cup baking soda and sprinkle into drain
4) Pour 1 cup white vinegar into drain - this will cause the 4th grade science project volcano effect...FIZZ
5) Immediately cover drain with old towel/rag so all the fizzy goodness to clear drain stays in the drain. Let it begin to work its magic.
6) Boil a kettle full of water and after 5 mins of fizz action - remove towel and pour boiling water down the drain to flush the system through.
I'm not going to lie...the process is a bit messy BUT it really worked. No chemical stink and it's been running proper since then.
I have my college roomate Stacy Penny Innes to thank for this weeks recipe! She passed it on to me as she knows about my love of the crock pot and the Monday blog feature. So easy and just plain yummy! If you have any great crock pot recipes to pass along to be featured on an upcoming Monday - please email me at email@example.com or leave a blog comment. As always use a crock pot liner...
6 oz of stuffing mix of choice
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
optional 1/2 cups carrots and/or 1 cup cranberries
3 cups chicken broth
1 boneless pork loin 2-3 pounds
Skillet cook the veggies, then mix the stuffing with broth and cooked veggies. Place at bottom of crock pot. Place pork loin on top. Cook for 7-9 hours on low.
It's Tax Time Again!
It's one month until the tax deadline! Have you filed? Feeling overwhelmed? One trick to help organize your items is to start at the beginning of the year by making a "Tax Folder" where you can accumulate as you go through the year all the
papers/items that are pertinent to your taxes. So make one now for 2013! If you need help getting you tax items organized for your accountant or for you to be able to file - contact me :) My fees are a whole lot less than what your accountant will charge to get it
sorted and organized! Making sure you send things organized to your accountant will help save on the preparation costs as they'll end up spending time to sort through it and if you file yourself - having things sorted and ready to go will be easier and faster for you too!
I love this dinner because it either feeds a crowd or makes 2 dinners. The meat mix that is used to stuff the peppers goes a long way so if you are like me and only need 4-6 small stuffed peppers then you've enough meat mix left to either make a great regular meatloaf, mini-meatloaves stuffed with cheese baked in cupcake tins, or make in meatballs for subs/hoagies or to be served with pasta later in the week. That's multi-tasking to the max!! The meat mix is made as follows: Combine in a large bowl the following:
1lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. bulk sweet/mild/or hot italian sauage to suit your taste
1 onion chopped
1 1/2 c. brown (or white) minute/pre-cooked rice
handful chopped fresh italian parsley
shakes from jar to taste of: salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, celery seed, rosemary, thyme or "italian seasoning" blend.
Then take small/medium peppers and cut tops off and hollow out seeds and stuff with meat mix. I usually do 4-6 both with green and red peppers. But this will fill many more so it's up to you!
Place peppers into a lined crock pot and take jar of regular pasta sauce (marinara - not chunky style - needs to be kind of thin) and pour half the jar in bottom of crock around pepper bases and pour remainder over tops of peppers. Put a bit of water in jar to get last bits of sauce out and pour into bottom of crock. Cook on low 5-6 hours until fully cooked. Serve peppers with parmesan cheese sprinkled over top and a side salad.
I'll be making the remainder of my meat mix into meatballs for subs/hoagies for a busy sports night later this week.
Work smarter - Not harder
Being organized is sometimes about working smarter - not harder. This especially holds true for little DIY projects and repairs around the house. Don't underestimate how handy a can of
this spray can be...got a key/lock that is jammed or ...not working smoothy? Yep - this fixes that. Got a rusted nut/bolt that you can't remove? Yep - loosens those. It does lots of other things too so that you don't need the strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What household helps do you keep on hand? I'm also working on posts for over the next month related to spring/green cleaning and everyday - all natural items to use for greener cleaning and home maintenance. Let me hear about any recommendations related to that too. Happy Friday!
It's been so cold here in Atlanta lately that we were craving something hot and savory this weekend. I created this recipe yesterday for my crew. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!
This one involves a stove top step first but worth the few extra minutes!
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one yellow and one red as its what we like)
1 red onion, chopped
2/3 garlic cloves diced or pressed (cheat like me and use pressed from tube)
5-6 stalks celery chopped (use up the ones in the fridge that have gone a bit limp - perfect for this)
Saute veg in large pot on stovetop in a bit of olive oil until softened a bit. Transfer veg into lined crock pot. In same stove top pot, add a bit more oil and then take:
2 lbs chopped top of round or other high quality beef tips (not stew meat!)
Stir meat with bit of flour and pepper, seasonings to suit, and brown floured beef tips in pot. Just sear on all sides until slightly browned. Then add to crock.
Lastly, use a bit of wine - what ever you have open to deglaze pan of all the yummy bits and scrape bits out into a medium bowl. Add to bowl:
2 cans - Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic soup
1 can - French Onion soup
Stir liquids together and then pour over veg and beef in crock. Cook on low 5-6 hours. Serve beef and gravy over noodles or rice of choice and a side salad makes it a meal.
Having friends over on the fly? Can't find the wine charms? No worries...when all else fails - use a sharpie from the kitchen drawer to label whose glass is whose. If you have any residue left on glass base after a run through the dishwasher - just use a paper towel with a bit of glass cleaner will wipe it "write off" Cheers!
Use your phone to take pictures of your favorites from your cookbooks at home. Then when you are at the grocery store or away from the house you'll always be able to access the recipe! Save the pictures in a phone album or upload to your photo website of choice. This is one I keep in my phone :)
Jen Payne, CPA, Professional Organizer and mom to two boys: Brendan (17) and Ryan (15).