Father’s Day gift ideas

Great last minute Father’s Day gift ideas:AdobeStock_106425785(2).jpeg

Don’t forget your dad this Father’s Day.

Here are some great gift ideas for your special dad.

 

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your dad to his favorite restaurant or plan a family fishing trip, hike with a picnic, movie, concert, or sporting event that he would enjoy.Family fishing
  2. Plan a special at-home treat: Make him breakfast in bed, or plan a night in you can make his favorite dinner, then watch a video and relax.
  3.  Build him an eco-inspired bird house out of a recycled bottle – HERE 
  4. Get dad some new items for the barbecue to inspire more summer night barbecues.Grill, bbq area with tools hanging on the wall
  5. Show dad how much he’s appreciated by making a homemade picture frame. Here’s a link for some creatives ways to make a frame – HERE
  6. Create a gift basket and fill it with some of his favorite things. Maybe pick a theme based on his hobbies or favorite treats and fill the basket based on the theme. Some great examples of theme ideas: sportsman, coffee lover, sweet-tooth fanatic, bookworm, Mr. Fix It, film buff or outdoorsman, to name just a few.
  7. Get him a digital magazine subscription or pick out some books by his favorite author at a used bookstore.

This Father’s Day, show dad how important he is and how much he’s loved.

 

Tips to Keep Your Produce Fresh Longer and Lessen Food Waste

 

Assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables and berries. Bunch of carrots, spinach, tomatoes and red apples on chopping board, blueberries and cranberries in old colander over old wooden table. Top view

According to the National Resource Defense Council the average modern American family throws out between $1,000 and $2,200 in groceries each year  That is approximately 470 pounds of food!   With the continuous effort to eat healthier diets full of fruits and vegetables that means 25% off the wasted food is produce.

There are many ways we can help lessen waste and reduce our carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways to lessen waste is to learn how to properly store produce to ensure the longest shelf life.

Here are a few great tips on storing produce:

Do not store fruits and vegetables together

Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (a ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil the surrounding produce.

Refrigerate these ethylene releasers:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Figs
  • Honeydew

Do not refrigerate these ethylene releasers:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Keep these away from all ethylene releasers:

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon

For Vegetables

Before storing, remove rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave about an inch of the stems to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the vegetables in has some holes punctured to allow good airflow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer together they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens should be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.

For Fruits

Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, citrus, and berries will deteriorate if left out, and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.

Here is a chart that offers a quick reference for how long and where each type of produce can be stored:

Photo courtesy: www.100daysofrealfood.com
Photo courtesy: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com

Keep enjoying delicious and nutritious produce with these tips!

Great Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Colorful_spring_gardenMother’s day is only days away. Show your mom how much you love her with a thoughtful gift straight from the heart.

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your mom to her favorite restaurant, museum, play, movie, concert, or some other event she would enjoy
  2. Plan a Special At-Home Treat:  Make her breakfast in bed, or plan a night in, make her a delicious dinner, then watch a video and relax.morgan-making-smoothie-273x300
  3. Create a gift from things you have around the house, such as this no-sew t-shirt pillow:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDVcStxBINs
  4. Make Her Kitchen Mason-Jar Herb Garden:mason-jar-planter-board-747x1024Use a piece of wood and affix the quart-size mason jars using heavy-duty stainless hose clamps, adding chalkboard strips for labeling. Place gravel or clay shards at the bottom of the jars to avoid rot.Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  5. Paint a Tin-Can Mini Flower Pot: Transform tin cans into elegant containers for potted roses with a can of spray paint in a bright and stylish color.
  6. Give Her the Gift of Relaxation: Gift your mom a relaxing gift basket filled with assorted “tub teas.” pampering items, lotions, etc., to help with sleepless nights.
  7. Glass Vase Centerpiece:Shanty2Chic-Bottle-VaseUse recycled glass wine bottles in a pine or whitewood frame and with fresh flowers.   For a full tutorial on creating this gift, visit Shanty 2 Chic
  8. Recipe Ring:
    DIY-Recipe-Ring
    A great easy gift to help keep your mom’s special recipes. Type out recipes with 6” long and 4” tall dimensions so you are able to glue them onto note cards. Print the recipes onto different-colored paper. You can even color code them according to side dish, entree, dessert, etc. Cut out and glue to note cards; laminate if possible. Hole-punch the top left corner and add a ring. You can even attach a new bright spatula or whisk to the ring for a fun extra addition.  
    Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  9. Head Outdoors:
    family-walking-through-the-woods1
    Enjoy the great outdoors with a trip to the park for a picnic, or plan a hike to a favorite outdoor area.
  10. Framed Memory: A picture can be worth a thousand words, so give your mom a favorite picture of you or your siblings, or even the two of you together.
  11. Send a Thoughtful Card: Skip the funny card from the card aisle at the grocery store and make your own. Include a note about how special your mom is to you.

This Mother’s Day, make sure to do a little something extra special!

A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:

CUCUMBER-JALAPEÑO MARGARITA

Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec

DIRECTIONS

Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.

RAINBOW SALSA

Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

TEQUILA-MUSTARD-GLAZED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad

INGREDIENTS

Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Enjoy a Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Feast

Celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with fun and delicious dinner and dessert!

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

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Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 12-ounce bottle stout beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 14-16-ounce package smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 8 small sage leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper; bring to boiling. Add sausage and green beans. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add apples. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples are just tender. Transfer to a platter.

3. Add sausage to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add to platter; cover. Drain fat from skillet.

4. Carefully add remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam); stir to scrape up browned bits. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return sausage and green beans to skillet to coat in glaze. Fold in apples. Return to serving platter. Sprinkle with sage.

Potato Rolls

potato-rolls-480795_960_720

Total Time: Prep: 25 min. + rising

Bake: 15 min.

Yields: 24 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, shortening, potatoes, egg, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down and divide in half. Divide each half into 36 pieces; shape into balls. Place three balls each into greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

4. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm.

Chocolate Stout Shake

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Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/8 cup chocolate stout beer or stout beer
  • 1/4 cup prepared chocolate fudge ice cream topping
  • 1/4 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 purchased chocolate-and-nut-covered pretzel rods (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small saucepan, heat beer and chocolate topping until warm and combined. Cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine ice cream and milk, half at a time. Cover and blend until combined. Divide ice cream mixture among 4 glasses. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, if desired, serve with chocolate-covered pretzel rods.

10 Tips to Keep Your Valentine’s Day Green

Romance is in the air as Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. But rather than planning on grabbing a bouquet of flowers at the check stand of your grocery store, try to keep your romance eco-friendly.

Here are 10 ideas to make your Valentine’s Day green!

  1. Plan a fun outing, like a trip to a new museum, art show, concert, etc.
  2. Cook a special dinner rather than going out. food-vegetables-meal-kitchen
  3. Give a handmade gift like this DIY wine rack.Wine_on_the_Wall
  1. Paint a picture.
  2. Write a poem.writing-923882_960_720
  3. Plan a picnic in the park if the weather is cooperative.Platbos_Reserve_Oak_Tree_Picnic
  1. Frame a favorite photo ot the two of you together.
  2. Skip the bouquet of flowers and give a potted plant that your loved one can enjoy longer and even plant in the garden.9090127853_2dcf4d902f_o
  1. Buy a unique gift from a local artisan or vintage store.Distressed_finish_vintage_dresser
  2. Give your full attention to your loved one(s) by making it a device-free night in with no interruptions.

However you spend Valentine’s, be sure to make it a memorable experience!

Don’t Forget Breakfast This Thanksgiving

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, we have the turkeys prepped and the menu planned. If you’re like me, breakfast is the last thing on my mind. Breakfast shouldn’t be too complicated, because from the moment the coffee is brewing, I am busy.

To help make the morning more enjoyable and less stressful, here are several recipes that are quick, easy and delicious. Some of these recipes you can make the night before and reheat that morning. They can even become a new yearly tradition.

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches

2995536015_3a950ae2e4_oMakes 4 Dozen

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for pan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, grated
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Heat oven to 450°F.

Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in a 1/2 cup of milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, the salt, and the nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch of grated cheese, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and a pinch of chopped fresh basil, into each muffin cup. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Spiced Crock-Pot Porridge

img_1555Makes about eight 1-cup servings; recipe can be doubled.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped apricots
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped figs or raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 orange

Toppings: Chopped roasted nuts, jam, fresh fruit, more dried fruit, milk, yogurt, leftover eggnog

Combine everything except the orange zest and toppings in the bowl of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Set the cooker on its lowest cook setting (“LOW” or 8-10 hours), and leave overnight.

If you happen to get up during the night, give the porridge a stir as you pass by. If not, no worries.

In the morning, break up the thin film that forms over the top of the porridge and stir it in. Scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the orange zest.

Serve with toppings. Leftover porridge will keep refrigerated for at least a week. Reheat with a little milk or water to make creamy again.

Lemon Scones

6849616359_e1952942a5_oIngredients

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 egg, plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven 425° F

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and pinch of salt in a bowl.

Add butter and mix in a processor on “pulse,” or rub together with your fingertips until it looks like a crumble or bread crumbs.

Break an egg in to a measuring cup and add milk up to the 3/4 cup mark, and lightly beat with a fork.

Add the egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. (Do not overmix).

Feel free to add extras at this step, such as lemon zest, cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, pieces of apple, or currants. There are unlimited possibilities!

Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Tip: Keep on eye on them, because depending on the size you make, they may cook more quickly. Also, leave some space in between the scones because they grow. Serve plain or with butter or jam.

Eat up and enjoy!