Let Your Freezer Work To Save You Money

Posted 08-2-2016 at 07:35 PM by JPMP

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I’m sure you know that freezing some foods will extend the life of that food by a lot. It can help you save money if you bulk buy something when it’s on sale, and it can save you a lot of time preparing a meal if you just have to reheat the item, or toss it into a soup or casserole.

One of the worst feelings ever is opening up your fridge and pantry to see that most of the food has gone bad. The yogurt is now expired, the bananas are attracting a swarm of fruit flies, and your bread is turning a beautiful turquoise color. All that money spent on groceries two weeks ago is officially being tossed in the trash.

Freezing bananas (and just about every other fruit) is very popular, along with sticking that loaf of bread into the freezer, and making your own frozen yogurt. But I’m sure that there are a few foods you didn’t know you could freeze! I have put together a short list of a few of the items that I never thought to freeze:

Tortillas

I feel that tortillas go bad way too fast, which makes me really sad since I love cooking with them! Place a piece of parchment paper in between each tortilla and seal them in a bag to freeze, that way they won’t stick together after they’ve thawed.

Cheese

I think this one surprised me the most. I never pictured cheese as an item that could freeze well. Especially since one time as we put away groceries the cheese accidentally ended up in the freezer and it turned all crumbly once I placed it back in the fridge. The trick to avoid the crumbling is to let the cheese thaw completely in room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

Grating cheese is the worst, so we always buy bags of the already grated cheese. If you want to extend the life of your shredded cheese just add one or two tablespoons of flour and shake it so that it’s well incorporated. This will prevent the cheese from clumping together when it thaws.

Milk

Unless you have teenagers that seem to go through a gallon of milk a day, you may have a jug in there that gets touched infrequently enough that you often run into sour milk. To avoid this, or to save money by stocking up on milk when it’s on sale, simply place the jug in the freezer. After it’s frozen let it thaw and then shake it really well to make sure that it’s properly remixed.

Rice

Cook the rice normally and then spread over a parchment-paper covered pan to freeze. Once it is frozen you can relocate the rice into a Tupperware container and continue to store it in the freezer until you’d like to add it to your next soup or stir-fry.

Mashed Potatoes

Instead of letting your potatoes go bad and start sprouting, whip them into an extra large amount of mashed potatoes. Then take a portion of that and scoop into balls to place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Once they are frozen you can store them in a Tupperware container for up to two months!

Eggs

Yep, I’m serious, you can freeze eggs! Make sure you don’t freeze them in their shell, though. Crack them into a Ziploc baggie and store in the freezer. Once you need them again let them thaw in the fridge and use them as you normally would.

 

That’s it! Wow, who would’ve thought that you could freeze most of that? Now here’s to hoping that you have enough room in your freezer to actually store them. ;)

Do you have any suggestions for foods to freeze? Let us know in the comments!

Diaper Swapers

The Absolute Best Zucchini Bread You’ll Ever Have

Posted 07-31-2016 at 07:31 PM by JPMP

Freshly baked zucchini bread on rustic wooden boards

 

Back when I was about 11 years old we rented a house next to this adorable elderly lady who would invite my mother, sister and I over to her house for tea and sweets. This sweet lady was the first to introduce me to Zucchini Bread. When she first handed me a slice I was a bit apprehensive, I didn’t even know if I liked zucchini, but I fell in love after just one bite.

Fast forward to present day, and I now have another sweet neighbor who has a gigantic garden that seems to always be overflowing with yummy produce. Lucky for me, she always has way too much, and likes to stop by every couple weeks with a grocery bag filled with veggies. Just a couple days ago she came by with a bag filled completely with zucchini. And I’m not talking the small zucchini you usually find in a standard grocery store; these babies were massive, at least double the size of their usual counterparts.

As soon as I saw the vegetables I knew that I would make bread with them. I really wish that I had gotten the recipe from that sweet neighbor of mine years back, but unfortunately I never did. Though after browsing the web and trying a few out I was able to find one that tastes just like the one I remembered. You’ll have to give this decadent recipe a try.

I loved that I was able to double the recipe and use up a few of the massive vegetables. I also knew that it would keep well, so it could be a dessert and snack (and mostly my breakfast) for the next week. It was also nice because even the picky eater in my family, who probably wouldn’t ever even touch a zucchini, loved it as well!

Don’t be afraid to try this; it honestly is one of the best breads I have ever eaten. And if you top the bread with some cinnamon and sugar once it’s halfway done baking you’ll love it even more.

How did you like the bread? And do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? Let us know in the comments!

A Few Small Tips For Healthy Eating

Posted 07-29-2016 at 07:31 PM by JPMP

 

Healthy Food Graphic

It’s not always easy to make healthy choices all the time. A day can start out with good intentions and then end with a Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. But that’s okay! Dessert is one of the best parts of the day and it’s totally okay to have sweets every once in a while. And sometimes there is just no time to make that “Quinoa Black Bean Spinach Salad” for dinner before running the kids to their activities so Wendy’s has to suffice. That is okay, too. Being healthy doesn’t mean that you never give your kids French fries, it’s all about incorporating healthy options in each day so that even if you don’t have time to put together a super healthy dinner, everyone’s still getting the nutrients and vitamins they need.

  1. Swap out the fries for apples. Don’t get me wrong, I love fries. I may even go as far as to say that they are one of my most favorite foods. As delicious as they are however, apple slices (or any other fruit or veggie) are a much better option with the fast food Kids Meal. It’s just one of many easy swaps that you can make.
  2. Limit the soda. Save soda for special occasions or as a special treat every once in a while. With the massive sugar content it would be so much better to substitute with a fruit juice or water.
  3. Have healthy food in reach at all times. Put a bowl of freshly washed fruit on the table. Have a snack drawer available for the kids to get into when they’re hungry, and keep the junk food somewhere that isn’t as easily accessible.
  4. Try preparing healthy foods in a creative way. Form carrots and broccoli into a smiley face on a plate, stick melon and grapes on a skewer and serve with a yogurt dip. Even if it’s a food that your kids swear they hate, they may find they enjoy it after seeing it in a new light.

These are just a few tips that I put together. There are endless new ways to incorporate more fruit and vegetables and other healthy choices into you and your family’s diet.

What are some of your best tips and tricks to get your family to eat healthier? Let me know in the comments!

Join Pampers Rewards and Get 100 Points!

Posted 07-28-2016 at 01:44 AM by JPMP

Six Ways To Wake Up The Birthday Boy/Girl

Posted 07-25-2016 at 11:42 AM by JPMP

 

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Birthdays are already so very exciting, but to be able to wake up on your birthday to something extra fun would just be the icing on top!

1.  Balloons Everywhere. If they open their eyes and see colorful balloons all over their room, maybe a few helium on the ceiling and a bunch tossed on the floor and dresser, they’re going to definitely wake up on the right side of the bed.

2. A Banner. You can make your own “Happy Birthday” banner, or you can buy a cute one from the store. String it from the ceiling or across the window. When they wake up to your message reminding them (as if they really need reminding) that it’s their birthday, they’ll be extra excited.

3. Birthday Pancakes. Waking up to the smell of homemade pancakes is always what I remember from my birthdays growing up. My parents would always make mine into a Mickey Mouse shape, and then top it with candles. Then everyone would sing “Happy Birthday” and I’d blow out the candles just like I would on a birthday cake.

4. Confetti. Nothing beats waking up to the popping of those little confetti shooters. Though you’re sure to startle them at first (which is part of the fun) they’ll love the raining down of confetti everywhere.

5. A Surprise Outside Their Window. Toss small rocks at their window until they wake up and look out. Have a big banner outside, a chalk mural, or a bunch of balloons. (If it’s still dark outside, stick glow sticks inside the balloons, they’ll glow!)

6. Scavenger Hunt. Place the first clue by their pillow, and then have it lead them, clue by clue, to a present they get to open that morning!

 

Whether you do just one of these or a combination of a few, you’ll make their day for sure. It doesn’t have to cost much money, it’s just the thought you put into it and the element of surprise that they will cherish in their memories forever.

 

Do you have any fun Birthday Morning Surprises? Let us know in the comments!

Four Recipes That Justify My Obsession With Orzo Pasta

Posted 07-23-2016 at 11:35 AM by JPMP

Pasta Orzo

I will come clean, I am totally in love with Orzo. There is just something about how light and versatile it is that makes it the perfect pasta for Summer. Honestly, there are countless recipes that use Orzo. (Just type “orzo” into Pinterest to see what I mean!) I’m here to narrow down a few of my favorites for you just in time for them to be used as the perfect side dish at your next Summer Barbeque!

Italian White Bean Orzo Soup:

Soups are usually thought of as a dish for a cold Winter’s day, but I happen to disagree when it comes to this Italian Bean soup. It is so light that it is the perfect entrée any day, any season.

Parmesan Basil Orzo:

I just made this for the first time a week ago, and it was absolute heaven. If you are a cheesy comfort food fan then this is the perfect dish for you. The recipe is so simple and it is all done in less than 30 minutes! This would work great as a side dish, or it could be prepared in a larger quantity to be used as a dinner entrée. Honestly, I’d recommend at least doubling the recipe, I promise it will go fast.

Rosa Marina Salad (or Orzo Fruit Salad):

This is one of the reasons why I love Orzo so much, it is so versatile that it even works in a fruit salad type of dessert! You will absolutely love how creamy this Rosa Marina Salad is.

Greek Orzo and Spinach Salad:

If you’re going for a lighter option, I highly recommend this Mediterranean inspired salad. It is salty from the olives and feta and tastes absolutely refreshing. This would be absolutely perfect to make ahead and take on a picnic!

 

I hope that after trying even one of these recipes you will come to see just why I am so obsessed with Orzo! Especially in the Summertime, when the options are endless. But after scrolling through recipes online, I’ve seen options that would work great as a Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner side dish as well.

Happy Cooking!

 

Do you have a favorite recipe that uses Orzo? Please share it with us!

The Best Strawberry Shortcake You’ll Ever Eat

Posted 07-20-2016 at 11:32 AM by JPMP

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Your mouth is already watering just after reading the title, right? I’m dying over here just from typing it out. Seriously, these are the yummiest.

My grandma is a fantastic cook. Whenever we go over to her house for a Sunday dinner, we make sure to head over hungry so that we will have plenty of room for all of her amazing food. Her desserts are what I get most excited for, and she never disappoints.

If you are a Strawberry Shortcake fan, you will love her recipe. In fact, even if you’re not a big Strawberry Shortcake fan, you’ll still love these. Because they’re made with a buttermilk biscuit type of shortcake, they aren’t as crazy sweet as standard angel food cake. Give this recipe a try, you will be so happy you did.

(Note: The shortcakes don’t keep for very long (that’s because they’re homemade from scratch! Super fresh, with zero preservatives!), so be sure to make them the day of your next event or gathering.)

 

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Buttermilk Strawberry Shortcake

Shortcakes (makes 6)

1 ½ c flour
2-½ tsp Baking Powder
2 TBS sugar
Lemon zest (opt)
Pinch of salt
½ c buttermilk (or milk with 1 TBS lemon juice – set aside while mixing rest of ingredients)
1 stick cold butter or margarine (cut up in small pieces)
Sugar

Topping

3 cups fresh berries

1 TBS lemon juice (opt)

Lemon zest

Whipped cream

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line pan with parchment paper
• Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a bowl.
• Add butter pieces and cut into flour mixture with a fork or pastry blender until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk until all is mixed. Don’t over mix.
• Turn out onto lightly floured surface and shape into a thick round, and cut with a biscuit cutter, or drop in large spoonfuls onto the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon zest. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
• Split biscuits and layer with berries and cream. Store with loose covering or dry towel over biscuits to keep the crisp texture.

Sign up for the Petcentric Newsletter today!

Posted 07-19-2016 at 11:47 PM by JPMP

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Get all the expert pet care tips and information you want – plus exciting special offers, new product information, and plenty of adorable cat and dog photos. Sign up now! 

 

Join the Value Seekers Club – it’s free!

Posted 07-19-2016 at 02:00 AM by JPMP

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Why Writing Letters To Grandma Is The Best Summer Activity

Posted 07-18-2016 at 11:28 AM by JPMP

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When was the last time you hand wrote a letter? When was the last time you received a hand-written letter? I bet that you can’t even remember. But I’m sure that you can remember just how excited you got as a kid when you received something in the mail with your name on it! Nowadays, if a piece of mail has your name on it, it’s usually opened with dread at the payment information inside. This Summer, let your kids experience just how exciting it is to give and receive letters in the mail. Set up a person that you and the kids know to have as a recipient. I’m sure grandma would love to receive hand-written letters from her grand kids! This is an especially good idea for relatives and friends that may not live close by. That way your kids can still chat with their cousins that they don’t see very often!

Aside from the pure joy of giving and receiving letters in the mail, this is also a great activity that helps your child with their writing skills. Depending on their level, they can start out with drawing pictures on the paper and adding their name and a few words to writing a full page about all the fun things they’ve done this Summer. With school out, kids often regress in their academics during the long break. This is a great way to make sure that they stay on top of the spelling, grammar and handwriting that they’ve worked on the year before. This could also be a great time to teach new vocabulary words as well!

The whole process of writing a letter can be a learning experience. Teach them about addresses; the one that the letter is being sent to (grandma’s house, for example), and their address so that the recipient knows who sent them mail. If they still haven’t memorized their address, this is a great activity to help with that! Teach about how sending mail costs money, and go to the post office to pick out some fun stamps. While you’re there, you can even talk to a post-worker about what they do at their job.

This is a great idea that is practically free. It provides a learning experience for the kids, and helps them to create memories that they’ll cherish throughout their lives.

 

Comment below if you’ve done this with your kids, and how they liked it! I’d love to hear from you!