Friday, October 31, 2014

Keeping Cut Flowers Fresher

Everyone, especially women, love cut flowers but they just don't last very long.  Well, in my roaming I ran across a way to keep them fresh longer.  And yes, this came from the Grandparent site.

When you cut a flower from its roots, you're separating it from its water and food source. The water part is easy—throw that blossom in a vase! But without resorting to store-bought plant food, how do you feed it? According to Scientific American, lemon-lime soda is a near-perfect solution. Slightly acidic water travels more quickly up plant stems than neutral or basic water, giving flowers a boost of hydration. Plus, one can of 7up or Sprite contains 38 grams of sugar, providing nutrients the flower needs. For the proper ratio, horticulturists recommend 1 to 3 cans of water to every can of soda. Note: Sugar also makes the vase water a friendly breeding ground for bacteria. Keep bacteria at bay by adding a few drops of bleach to the vase solution.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Great Ideas for the Holidays!

I'm sure some of you receive Better Homes and Gardens updates through your email but I'm also sure some of you don't.  I'm also sure, if you're like me, you scan over and only pay attention to those things that catch your attention.  Well, this one caught mine.  These are some of the best holiday ideas I've seen in a long time and I just had to share.  I picked out 4 of my favorites but there are many more so go to the Better Homes and Gardens site and see these beautiful ideas.

Wrap Up Store-Bought Grocery Items to Give as Gifts
The shelves at the grocery store are filled with store-bought items that make quick and easy gift ideas. To make this cake mix gift, simply wrap your favorite mix in a Christmas-theme fabric (or table runner!); sew or hot-glue closed. Add handles by sewing or hot-gluing ribbon to package, and attach small bags of decorations for a finishing touch.

Use Ice Cream Cones to Turn Cupcakes into Christmas Trees
Create the perfect Christmas cupcake with our tannenbaum design. The secret to the leafy topping? Place an ice cream cone upside down atop your snowy white-frosted cupcakes, then pipe green frosting to the cone for the leaves. Carefully add edible pearl candies for ornaments.

Ease Guests' Stay with a Basket of Treats
Keep overnight holiday guests satisfied by preempting their stomach growl. Ease your guests' stay by filling a small basket for their room with snacks such as granola bars, dried fruit, trail mix, and chocolates.

Label Christmas Gifts with Family Pictures

Add a little extra festive cheer to your gifts by using family snapshots in the place of name tags. Simply print digital photos on white cardstock, cut into decorative shapes, and attach to your presents.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Fiber

(Info from Weight Watchers cookbook 1993)

What is dietary fiber?
It is the indigestible parts of plant-derived foods - fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.  Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs and fats do not contain dietary fiber.

What's the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber (some good sources are wheat brand and pears) provides "bulk" to move food through the digestive tract, keeping constipation at bay; insoluble fiber may also protect against some types of cancer.  Soluble fiber (oats, beans, and oranges are good sources) helps lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.  Most foods contain some of each type of fiber.

Can I "overdose" on fiber?
Yes.  If you increase your fiber intake too quickly, you may suffer bloating and cramps.  Add fiber to your diet gradually, and drink plenty of water.

Can't I just take a pill?
Most fiber pills have little fiber in them, and do not contain a good balance of the different types of fiber.  You're much better off consuming a variety of foods, form which you'll also reap a bounty of vitamins, minerals, and eating pleasure.

How can I get the most fiber form foods?
Eat fruits and vegetables (such as potatoes) with their skins, and opt for the whole food rather than juice.  Choose whole grain cereal, bread, pasta, and flour over refined grain products.

How does food preparation affect fiber content? 
Cutting, chopping, cooking and freezing has no significant effect on fiber content.  However, sieving and straining foods will remove some fiber.

Will a bran muffin a day do the trick?
No.  Many "bran" muffins contain negligible amounts of fiber.  Their main ingredients are usually white flour and sugar.  The label of a truly high-fiber muffin will list bran or whole-grain flour as its first ingredient.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chicken Cheese Spread

When I cook chicken I always cook a little extra to use in making chicken salad.  This time I wanted to try something different so I came up with my Chicken Cheese Spread.  These are the ingredients I used.

Chicken, cooked
Sour Cream
Laughing Cow
Shredded cheddar cheese
Mrs. Dash salt free seasoning

I put the chicken, about 1 1/2 cups chopped, in a food processor and pulsed it until it was ground.  I added about 1/4 cup of sour cream and 3 Laughing Cow pats and gave it a taste.  It needed something so I added about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and enough mayo to make it smooth and spreadable but not thin.  Still needed something.  That's when I started adding the Mrs. Dash.  I would give it a shake, mix and taste until I had added about 1/2 tsp.  PERFECT!  My consistency came out thick enough to form into a ball if I wanted but thin enough to spread on a cracker. 

Comment:  You can add any seasoning you might like but I suggest you put it all together as I did, tasting as I went along until I had the flavor that fit my taste.  Apparently it fit a couple of my food testers taste too because the loved it.  If you want to get fancy and take this to a party you could roll it in chopped nuts, chopped parsley, and maybe even chopped chives.  Just Think With Your Taste Buds to create your own blend.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Almond Buttery Pound Cupcakes

As I always say, Think With Your Taste Buds, and that is exactly what I did when I wanted to make some cupcakes for a friend.  I remembered how good my Cream Cheese Butter Pound Cake turned out so I decided to make few simple changes and turn it into Almond Buttery Pound Cakes.  I made the recipe just as it is with the exception of using almond flavoring instead of vanilla.  I also used mini-muffin tins for cooking which changed the cooking time to 18 minutes.  This makes approximately 96 mini-cupcakes!  You can use the regular size and add about 10 - 15 minutes to the time, checking them using a toothpick to about every 5 minutes.

The other change I made was to add an icing.  I used 1 box (1 lb.) powdered sugar, 1/4 stick of butter, softened, 4 oz. of softened cream cheese and 1 tsp. of the Almond flavoring.  Mix all of this until smooth and spread on your mini-cupcakes adding a few almond slivers for garnish.  Are these good?  You bet they are.  The butter and cream cheese make the cake part stand out and the slight flavor of the almonds in the icing add just the perfect touch.

Hopefully this will give you ideas for using basic recipes like this one to get you Thinking With Your Taste Buds.

Friday, October 3, 2014

So Beautiful!

No this isn't a food but it was too beautiful to let slip by and not share with my cooking friends.  If you're from the south you may recognize this picture.  I have to admit that I am from the south and if I had seen this without seeing the tree it came from I 'might' have guessed what it is but then again I 'might' not have.

While walking my baby Jesse we walked under a beautiful Magnolia tree.  Most of us have seen the beautiful white flowers produced by the Magnolia but have you ever really looked at the pots?  I hate to admit it but I haven't, that is unless they are on the ground and need to be raked up.  I never knew they were fuzzy.  I never knew they were pink.  Well, this beautiful picture is of a Magnolia Pod.

Enjoy!  And next time you walk by a tree of any kind, stop as I did and take just a little time to really look at its beauty.