National Carrot Cake Day – February 3, 2016

I don’t know who determines a food or related product to be a “National” or “World” day, but I’ll go along. I love celebrating anything.

February 3 – National Carrot Cake Day

Here is a fantastic carrot cake recipe you should try!

Grandma’s Carrot Cake

carrot cake2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Beat together in mixer. It is best baked in 3 layers at 300 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

1 lb powdered sugar
1 pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix well in mixer. Spread over cooled cake.


National Homemade Soup Day – February 4, 2016

February 4 – Homemade Soup Day

This recipe was copied from Bratten’s, a local restaurant known for its clam chowder. This will warm your tummy in a delightful way!

Homemade Clam Chowder  clam chowder
2 cans minced clams (6 oz each)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups sliced potatoes
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups half & half
1.5 tsp. salt
2 Tbs red vinegar
Few grains pepper

Drain juice from clams and pour over vegetables in very small pan. Add enough water to barely cover and simmer, covered, over medium heat until barely tender.

In meantime, melt butter; add flour and blend. Add milk and cook. Stir with wire whip until smooth and thick. Add undrained vegetables, clams, and vinegar. Heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (*Don’t leave out vinegar.)


Super Bowl Snacks

The worst part of the Super Bowl game is that football season is over. LoveFootball football! And combine football with my other favorite – fun food – and we have a match made from heaven.

But, I do not like to be stuck in the kitchen fixing food and snacks while the big game is going. Been there, done that! So here are some snacks that I will be making, ahead of time, for the big game.

Nacho Cheese Sauce in Lil’ Crock

This is so easy. No recipe required.

nacho cheese sauceUse the little crock pot. The one that comes with the big crock pot. Cut 4 ounces Velveeta into cubes and put in the crock. Add 3/4 cup salsa. Turn on heat. Use for dipping tortilla chips throughout the game.

Put guacamole and sour cream to the side for additional dipping.

Baked Potato Bar

Again, no recipe required. Bake potatoes for however many you plan to feed.Baked Potato Bar

Toppings (only the desired ones):

Nacho cheese, above
Chili, canned or other
Corn, peas or green beans
Sour Cream
Bacon or bacon bits
Green Onions or chives

Set potatoes in a big bowl on the counter and let each one fix their potato to their liking.

*Picture by

French Dip SandwichesFrench Dip Sandwich

Again, no recipe. And so easy. I’m seriously feeling lazy, but I really do enjoy the game. :)

Sliced roast beef (from grocery store deli)
Provolone cheese (from grocery store deli)
Rolls or bread (from grocery store deli) Purchase the bread that you prefer. Hard rolls, French Bread (cut into portions when serving), Onion Rolls, or Ciabatta Rolls
Campbell’s Beef Broth

Let everyone assemble their own sandwich. Have individual cups for the broth and for dipping the sandwiches into.

Butterscotch Bubble Loaf

Click here using the recipe from Rhodes Rolls website. This is a fun, easy dessert that is so good. Baked in a bundt pan.


Have a great day watching football and eating!


Seven Grocery Tips for Shopping Smart

Number 7
1.  Do go to the grocery store after eating something. Even a diet soda pop will take some of the hunger pangs away. This will keep you from “binge” shopping – buying the things that sound good since you feel starved.

2. Shop once a week or every other week, and try to stick with that program. Make a menu or meal plan for 4-5 meals per week. Use the store ad to find the basic foods that are on sale and make a meal around it. Make a shopping list for the items you will need to prepare those meals. Be flexible with your meal ideas. If chicken is an in-store sale, go for it. There is a million meals you can make with chicken. I like going once a week since the ads change every week. But my son and family shop once every two weeks since time to shop is difficult.

3.  Buy store brand foods, instead of the big name brands. Quite often, the store brands have the particular item packaged at the same facility/location as the big-name brand.  For example, yogurt, cereal, cleaners, potato chips, etc.

4.  Try to shop when you can shop alone. It can be a fun outing for the kids, but beware! Kids want to buy items that are not on your shopping list and can quite often let their feelings known to everyone in the store. :) Being alone also gives you a chance to read nutrition labels and learn about products you want and want to stay away from.

Shopping alone (without kids) also allows you to watch as your items are checked out. At least every other time at check out I am correcting a price. Don’t be afraid to ask your checker if something doesn’t ring up correctly. Especially the discounts and coupons that print out at the bottom. The cashiers are usually very good to help you.

5. Keep your eyes down when shopping the shelves. And not on your cell phone. The best deals can be hidden. Look at the lower shelves. Also look for short dates. The “sell by” date on a product is just that. It still will generally be good for a few more days.

6. Use coupons, primarily, when an item is at a 4 Star price, or the very best price. If Colgate toothpaste is $1 on sale, put the P&G coupon for $.50 coupon with it for the biggest savings. Also, when using a coupon, buy the smallest possible size for the best price per ounce. For example, If 40-50 oz Tide is on sale for $4.99, use the P&G Coupon for $2 off for that size instead of using it on 80-100 oz. If you have 2 or 3 coupons, buy the smaller Tide for the biggest savings.

7 with fingers7. Stock up on staples when they are on sale. For example, flour, sugar, spices, and canned foods are good items to stock your pantry if you have the space. It is helpful to have standby options to create a nutritious meal without running to the store.

Last, but not No. 8, bake the pizza you bought on sale and eat up!



Avocado Citrus Salad

This recipe was found on the California Avocados website and Shawn Syphus. We tried it; it was really good, and simple!

avocado citrus salad

Serves 4

Salad Ingredients:
6 cups mixed greens
2 grapefruit, peeled and sliced horizontally
2 oranges, peeled and sliced horizontally
3 ripe, fresh avocados, seeded, peeled and sliced

Poppy Seed Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs diced onion
3 Tbs low-fat mayonnaise
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 cup salt
3/4 Tbs poppy seeds

Salad: Divide the mixed greens among 4 plates. Top each plate with slices of grapefruit, oranges and avocado. Drizzle with dressing.

Dressing: Place all the ingredients except for the poppy seeds into a blender, blend for 30 seconds. Add the poppy seeds and pulse two times. Store in air-tight container in the fridge until ready to use.


Grocery Prices on the Rise

With the cost of living continuing to rise, we have to reduce what we spend. Often the first area of our budget to receive an overhaul is our food budget. We start to buy less expensive foods, buy more store brands, organize our menus, clip coupons, search for printable online grocery coupons and compare grocery prices. All of these techniques work but there are other things to consider when shopping for grocery deals.

Here are some practical tips to reduce your grocery bill:  Grocery Shopper

1. Switch wherever possible to store-brand items. Did you know that the big-name brands often package for the stores?
2. Buy produce in season. For example, buy strawberries on sale in April and May. Buy oranges on sale in December. Buy apples and potatoes in the fall. Buy tomatoes in the summer.

3. Build a food pantry or food storage so you go to the store less resulting in spending less. If you create a meal with food in your freezer and pantry, you won’t have to run to the store which usually results in buying things you don’t need. The best way to stock your pantry is to compare grocery prices at.

4. Create menus around items that are on sale at the grocery store. Compare grocery prices on meat, pasta, produce, baking items, soap, laundry soap, bandages, etc.

Be a savvy shopper! Realize that food manufacturers have tried to keep product prices fairly close to last years’ grocery prices. However, the size on many products has decreased. For example, Breyer’s Ice Cream and Dreyer’s Ice Cream have reduced the sizes of their ice cream containers from 64oz to 48-56oz. Tuna has gone from 6oz cans to 5oz cans. Mayonnaise and Salad Dressings in some cases have gone from 32oz to 30oz. Shampoos and Conditioners have decreased in size by .5 -2 ozs.
can help you save time and money by comparing grocery prices so you don’t have to. Make your grocery list from the stores you prefer and clip or print the coupons before you go to the store. You’ll be excited at the money you can save!

Grocery will help guide you to products, coupons, recipes and tools you need to fix nutritious and budget-friendly meals.


Avocado and Tuna Tapas

1 (12 ounce) can solid white tuna packed in water, drained
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
3 green onions, thinly sliced plus additional for garnish
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 dash balsamic vinegar
black pepper, to taste
1 pinch garlic salt, or to taste
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

Stir together tuna, mayonnaise, green onions, red pepper, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Season with pepper and garlic salt, then pack the avocado halves with the tuna mixture. Garnish with reserved green onions and a dash of black pepper before serving.

Serves 4.


10 Health Benefits of Avocados

*Avocados are at their best price right now. They are on sale at Sprouts. But my favorite place to buy them is at Sam’s Club. They come in a bag of 6 for $4.98, and they are large and very fresh.*

While most fruits are high in carbohydrates, avocados are high in nutritional fat.  Here are 10 health benefits of avocados that are supported avocadosby scientific research:

1. Avocados are incredibly nutritious and is referred to as a “super” food. It is a very popular food amongst health conscious individuals.
2. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas.
3. Avocados are loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.
4. Avocados are loaded with fiber.
5. Eating avocados can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
6. People who eat avocados tend to be healthier. :)
7. The fat in avocados can help absorb nutrients from plant foods.
8. Avocados are loaded with antioxidants that can protect eyes.
9. Avocados may help prevent cancer.
10. Avocado extract may help relieve arthritis symptoms.


Here is additional information in a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of avocado:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 20% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
  • Then it contains small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).

This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 “net” carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food.

Avocados are low in sodium and contain no saturated fat.

“Super Food,” yeah! Let’s guac up!

*Info from: Avocado


Strawberries for Everyday Health


Enjoying strawberries regularly increases the body’s antioxidant capacity which may have heart benefits.

In a UCLA study, twenty-one healthy women ate about one-half pound of strawberries daily for three weeks. Several measures of antioxidant capacity in the blood were taken. Eating strawberries resulted in an increase in the body’s ability to prevent the oxidation of blood lipids such as LDL cholesterol. Increased levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol in the blood have been identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of women and men.

“There’s a lot of talk today about the levels of antioxidants in fruit,” said Dave Grotto, RD, and author of 101 Optimal Life Foods, “But just because a food contains antioxidants does not guarantee that those antioxidants are available for use by the body once eaten. This study validates the importance of eating super foods like strawberries on a regular basis.”

Indulge in strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, on top of cake, strawberry shortcake, or just eating plain. It’s always nice when a food considered a “super food” is also yummy to eat!

strawberry shortcake girlRead more: California Strawberry Commission 



Still Hot – After 142 Years

tabasco   Still Hot – After 142 Years

At any grocery store, dozens of typical sauces are found. But only 2-3 sauces can claim market share. Tops among them is Tabasco, which has been made by the McIlhenney Company out of Avery Island, La., since 1868. The company is still family-run and privately held. Analysts estimate that the iconic brand — which supplies countless bars, first-class airline cabins and the U.S. military with bottles of its red sauce — owns about 20%-25% of the market.

McIlhenny, which grows its peppers all over the western hemisphere, sells six flavors of Tabasco, but none come close the numbers of its bestseller, the original red. International business comprises 40% of the company’s overall sales.

Paul McIlhenny, the fourth-generation president and CEO, was asked,

“Has the company’s most popular product changed throughout the years?”

“Our original red sauce is far and away the main product. We’re fully automated now but the formula is still the same: peppers, salt, vinegar. Mash [crushed peppers and salt] comes from our various farms and finishes aging on Avery Island.”

“Do you still soak the peppers in bourbon barrels?”

“Yes. We buy secondhand white oak bourbon barrels from Kentucky. They last 50 to 60 years. When a barrel finally splits or can no longer be used, we turn it into wood chips.”

“Which you can buy at the company store …”

“Yes, and a bit of advice: When barbequing, don’t get upwind — there’s pepper in the wood.”

To read about the History of Tabasco from CNN Money, click here: Tabasco