Friday, July 8, 2016

Quick and Easy Chili & Beans

With the onset of summer and the desire to spend more time outdoors being active or just relaxing, there's the need for quick and simple recipes to feed your crew.

This easy recipe puts deliciousness on your family's plate in just under 30 minutes:

INGREDIENTS

1 lbs of ground beef
1 lb of ground (bulk) Italian sausage meat - hot or mild
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1 packet of McCormick (Mild or Hot) Chili Seasoning Mix 
1 regular-sized can of diced tomatoes 
1 regular sized can of dark red kidney beans
1 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of creamy butter

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot add olive oil and butter.  Heat over medium to high heat until butter has melted.  Lightly brown chopped garlic in oil mixture.  Add ground beef and ground sausage meat, constantly stirring with a large (wooden) spoon while browning to your liking making sure you crumble the cooked ground beef while stirring.  

When meat is brown and cooked drain off excess liquid.  Reduce flame to low.  Add contents of seasoning mix, stir to combine into the ground meat mix.  Add contents of can of diced tomatoes.  Drain liquid from can of dark red kidney beans; add beans to pot.  Stir to combine, cover pot and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  

Serve in a bowl by itself, or with a side such as plain white rice, with toasted bread, or toasted garlic French Bread.  

As a variant, you can drain and add a regular can of either corn or mixed vegetables for a fuller mixture. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH SUMMER RIBS

Here in the northern US, we cherish all the warm and sunny summer days we get.  After work, our down time is spent outdoors soaking up the evening rays of a mellowing sun, and on weekends we take advantage of Mother Nature's mood when its good!  Usually many persons take this time to grill their favorite meats or vegetables, but when that opportunity is not available, we still desire summer fare:  grilled chicken, succulent ribs, juicy fruits, cool and refreshing drinks.  

If you have the time on a weekend but no access to a barbecue grill, here is a simple recipe for mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone ribs that will make you the hit at the dinner table!  The prep time is negligible, and you can watch a movie or do household chores while your meal cooks:


Succulent and moist!
MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH SUMMER RIBS
  • 2 slabs of baby back ribs (approx. 4 lbs) or 2 slabs of beef rib tips
  • 12 oz bottle of Teriyaki marinade
  • Sesame seeds and a handful of finely chopped spring onions

DIRECTIONS
 
Preheat oven to 300F.  Cut slabs in half to fit in a 14 in by 8 in baking pan.    Slather marinade on both sides of the meat and place face-up in pan.  Cover the ribs with a large sheet of aluminum foil, and seal edges by crimping or folding over the edges of the pan.  Place in preheated oven for 3 hours.  

At the end of the cooking period, remove foil and place pan of meat under a low broiler for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until the tops are a nice brown color.  

Remove from oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped spring onions, serve and enjoy the compliments!  

Friday, February 20, 2015

WARM GETAWAY FANTASIES CAN COME TRUE!

With the area firmly in Old Man Winter's icy grip, now is the time to fantasize and even act on the urge to visit warmer climes.  Not only can this help you with deal with the doldrums of the season, it may also lead to a great vacation deals to spots you always dreamed of visiting!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when searching for that warm get-away:

DON'T LIMIT YOUR SEARCH TO AIRLINES WEBSITES.  In the age of smartphones and tablets there are multiple apps and websites that offer last minute packages at reduced rates.  Visit popular sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity or Hotwire.

SHOP IN THE EARLY MORNING WITH YOUR COFFEE.  Check travel sites first thing in the morning when you get up - the lowest fares are usually posted around 2 am for the savvy traveler to snatch up.

VISIT SITES THAT RE-SELL HOTEL ROOMS.  Most hotels will drastically slash their prices at a certain time of the day - an occupied room at a low rate is much more profitable than a vacant one for a few.  Hotels.com is a great site, so are Kayak.com and Priceline.com.

THINK SHORT AND QUICK.  Not all satisfying trips have to be over week - a mid-week break can be just as much fun!   Travel is usually light on Tuesdays and Wednesday, so leave out then and return on a Saturday evening - giving you all of Sunday to relax and recover before the start of the following work week.

READ THE REVIEWS, NOT THE STARS.  You can reduce the cost of a trip if you are willing to go three stars instead of four or five.  Use the feedback from past customer experience as a guide - some low ratings may  be due due to a vengeful customer with an bitter ax to grind.

STAY DOMESTIC.  Although hot and sunny Jamaica and the Caribbean is your fantasy, Gulf Coast destinations are much warmer than the frigid temps of the north.  Check out private guest houses listed on regional tourist board/bureau sites, or search local bed-and-breakfast options near popular Gulf Coast destinations - Google can be your new BFF!

The above tips can help you see what's available, and may surprise you with the results.  After all, isn't the person you should really be spoiling - is YOU?






Wednesday, December 3, 2014

CHRISTMAS INTERIOR DECORATING TIPS


For most of us living in an apartment community our holiday decorating options are focused mainly on interior spaces.  Here are a few tips on getting the most out of decorating your apartment interior:

JAZZ UP YOUR DOORWAYS
Drape natural or artificial garlands along door frames, then decorate with ornaments and Christmas cards from family and friends.

MAKE YOUR OWN HANGING WINDOW DISPLAY
Think of your window as your own private Macy’s display window – string twinkling lights around the window frame, hang a few ornaments with decorative ribbon, and garnish with shiny tinsel.  You may even get your own crowd of “oohs” and “aahs”!

CREATE A “MINI-TREE”
Not enough space for a standard tree?  Do a mini version instead! It's perfect for even the smallest spaces. Check your location garden supply store for seasonal Norfolk Pines and decorate with your favorite ornaments.  Add to the fun by small wrapped gift boxes around the base.

USE TABLE SPACES
If you have more than two side tables, use them as mini staging areas.  Gift-wrap various sizes of empty small boxes and stack festively, or wrap small bags of holiday candy to have on hand for visitors.

GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR TABLE SETTINGS
If you’re entertaining during the holidays a festive table will wow your guests.  Mix the colors of your napkins, plates and tablecloths using colors of the season, use shiny tinsel to frame coasters, use as napkin holders, etc.  Just think of your table as an extension of the Christmas tree!

HANG HOLIDAY PLATES
Get plain white, red or green dishes (even gold or silver platters) and decorate with clusters of small glass balls strategically glued to creative a festive dish.  Use removable mounting strips or plate hangers make your seasonal sentiment easy to remove.

SMALL CAN BE GREAT TOO!
A door wreath sets the tone inside, but small wreaths can be just as impactful. Create mini wreaths from small pieces of garland, tie with a velvet or satin ribbon to shelves or drawer pulls.  

These are just some ideas to jump-start your decorating spirit for the holiday, and help to put you in a festive mood for the season.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TRICK OR TREATING TIPS FOR HALLOWEEN


With Halloween trick-or-treating just around the corner, below are some tips to help keep your child’s candy-fueled fantasies as worry free as possible:

  1. Avoid letting your kids trick-or-treat alone. Have them walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  2. Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see your kids.
  3. Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house
  4. Remind kids to look both ways before crossing the street, and to use established crosswalks wherever possible.
  5. Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  6. Children should never enter any home alone and only do so if they're with a trusted adult. Remind them to only visit well-lit houses, avoid dark houses, and never to accept rides from strangers.

Expecting trick-or-treaters or party guests?  Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone:

  • Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
  • Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.
  • Keep candle-lit jack o'lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
  • Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely. 

(Tips courtesy of CDC.gov)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

PREPARING FOR THE FALL ALLERGY SEASON

Are you prepared for the fall allergy season?  Experts say that fall is a high point in the allergy season due to ragweed allergy that which affects most of North America.  Ragweed plants can produce up to a billion grains of pollen which can travel hundreds of miles and impact a large section of the nation.

In order to correctly protect or treat yourself when the sniffles begin it is critical to be able to distinguish between an allergy attack and the common cold so it is important to pay attention to your symptoms.

With a cold, you're likely to wake up one day with a sore, painful throat, while with allergies you'll feel more of an itch rather than real soreness.  Colds progress more slowly whereas allergies can pop up almost instantly after an evening of outside exposure. With allergies, there's usually no change in your symptoms throughout their duration, and a sore throat, a cough and a case of nasal congestion all hit at once.

From the middle of August to the first hard frost in October, people with allergies should take some at-home steps to soothe symptoms: change your clothes when you get home, and shower at night to keep off of you any pollen that's accumulated throughout the day.

Nasal saline rinses can help get pollen out of your nose.  Experts say there are other things that can be done to make your home more pollen-free such as keeping your windows shut on windy days, and running the air conditioning to help keep out external allergens.

A lot of times people misdiagnose themselves and buy one medication to treat themselves when they're suffering from something else.  If you're not sure if it's allergies or the common cold causing you discomfort the best course of action is to see a doctor so the correct medication can be prescribed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

PREPARING FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Tomorrow is the first day of school in Griffith, and we want to pass on a few tips to help with your child's transition from lazy summer mode to eager learning beaver!

PREPARE
  • Before school starts, spend some time with your kids and discuss what to expect on their first day of school.  Listen carefully to their feedback and use it to provide helpful tips on how to interact with new people and adjusting to unfamiliar teachers and classes. 
  • Double-check you kids know their pick-up times and locations.  Be prompt to drop off and arrive at those set locations. 
GET PACKING
  • If you’re getting a new backpack for your child, look for one with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.  This reduces the chance of injury from lugging heavy books from class to class.  
  • Arrange contents in the backpack so that you use all compartments. Place heavier items closer to the center of the back.  Rule-of-thumb:  don’t exceed a load more than 10-20% of your child's body weight.
  • Remind your kids that carrying a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles – always use BOTH straps. 
EASE INTO THE ROUTINE
  • Have your kids set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules and bus pickups. 
  • Go through your morning rituals, and get in the car or to the bus stop on time. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school go much smoother. 
AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL….let your kids know you care! If your child is anxious about school, send personal notes in the lunch box or book bag. Reinforce the ability to cope. Children absorb their parent’s anxiety, so model optimism and confidence for your child.  Reassure them that it’s natural to be a little nervous anytime you start something new.  Try to remain as calm and as positive on the first morning.