Archive for March, 2008

Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs (part two)

In this installment of Beyond the Sandwich, we’re looking at turkey. There always seem to be leftovers when you make a turkey, and after a while, turkey sandwiches can get a little boring. Here are two easy recipes to breathe new life into those turkey leftovers: turkey tortellini soup and warm turkey burritos/wraps.

First, set aside some turkey breast for the burritos/wraps.

Turkey Tortellini Soup

Ingredients

Turkey (still on the bone)
Stewed tomatoes
While the turkey is boiling, wash spinach and remove the spines from the leaves. Set aside.
Carefully remove bones from the liquid and discard them. You may need to use the slotted spoon to help gather the smaller bones. Use a pair of tongs to return any meat collected in the spoon back to the soup.

Add the tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes to the mixture.

Add a handful of basil (Note: other spices are not necessary as the soup will have the flavoring of whatever spices were used to season the turkey initially before cooking.)

Bring mixture to a low boil, stirring intermittently. If the mixture is too thick, gradually add cupfuls of water until it is at your desired consistency.

Simmer for 20 minutes

Bring mixture back up to a boil and add the tortellini. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions.

When tortellini is al dente (or near it) gently add the spinach to the soup by the handful and stir it into the soup. As each handful of spinach wilts down, add another of fresh spinach.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all spinach is wilted.

Serve and enjoy.

Warm Savory Turkey Burritos/Wraps
(Note: these can be served cold as well, just omit the melting directions)

Ingredients
Large, round flat bread/tortillas (either wheat or corn)
Field greens/lettuce (optional)
1 T olive oil
1 medium Red onions (chopped)
Chopped tomatoes
Scallion /green onion (chopped)
Block of sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

Optional Sauce:
Mayonnaise
Chipotle powder
Black pepper

Utensils/Gear
Knives
Cutting board
Small whisk (or fork)
Small bowl (for the sauce)
Spatula
Cheese grater
Oven

Directions
Prepare sauce and refrigerate
In a small bowl, add about ¼ tsp of chipotle powder to mayonnaise and whisk, blending well. (Add more or less of each to taste.) Dash with a sprinkle of ground black pepper to taste.

Prepare wrap
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Shred the cheddar cheese and set aside

Wash the lettuce/field greens and set aside (if using for the cold wrap)

Cut the turkey breast into long, thin strips (about ¼ to ½ inch wide)

Chop the scallions, red onion and tomatoes and mix together. Set aside.

Gently warm the tortillas/flatbread in the oven. (You can also steam them if you have a large steamer.)

When warmed, remove from oven and layer the turkey and cheese, lengthwise in the center.

Return to oven to melt cheese/heat turkey. Watch carefully as cheese melts. When cheese starts to melt, remove from oven and layer on the onion/tomato mixture.

Top with the sauce and roll up or fold into thirds. (This last part has to be done fairly quickly.)

For a cold wrap, still warm the bread but skip heating the turkey and cheese. Instead layer on the lettuce/greens, turkey, cheese, onion/tomato mixture and sauce. Roll up and enjoy.

Next up…Left-over Lamb

Posted in Cooking, Home and Garden, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

Home Safety: Home Invasion

Last night my husband told me about something that is possibly an Urban Legend, but is still disturbing no matter where you live. It seems that, according to the reports, a new gang has moved into our area. They are supposedly ‘bumping’ cars with theirs, then when the people in the car that was hit stop, they execute them, gangland style. Not only this, but their activities have stepped up to home invasions.

Even if this is not true, I felt that I should address home safety. A home invasion is terrifying. Your home is your private area, a place to be relaxed and with the ones you love. Even if you are single, your home is your sanctuary.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your family against a home invasion?

1. Install real or ‘dummy’ cameras at your home. Key areas to place them are the corners of your home, facing the entire yard and entrance areas. Home invaders are less likely to attack a home with cameras in view, real or fake. They have no idea if the cameras are real, especially if the cameras come with a battery operated ‘on’ light.

2. Alarms for your windows and doors. You can purchase alarms that make a very loud, high pitched noise that are activated by magnets. These can be put on nearly any surface which make them very handy. These are often advertised on television and are much lower in cost that traditional alarm systems which can be too costly for the average family. Another plus is that even if you rent, you can use these alarms and take them with you if you move.

3. Motion lights can be purchased and installed in the darker areas of your property. Motion lights can be low cost if found on sale at your local hardware store. You can also purchase night lights that are activated by motion or sound and place them in each room of your home. This can completely un-nerve a would be home invader who does not want to be seen!

4. Keep all entrances to your home locked. Deadbolts may not stop a home invader, but it can slow them down. Entrances that are rarely, if ever used by your family can even have two deadbolts, especially if you live in a high crime area.

5. Most of the time, any home invader will not try for a home with a dog. This does not mean that a dog will completely deter someone who is determined. It has been proven that a burglar who steals from homes for a living will befriend a dog while casing a home. Even the most well trained dog can be enticed by treats or stopped by a weapon. In the case of home invasion that is on the spur of the moment, a dog can be invaluable in stopping your home from being a target.

Posted in Uncategorized, Personal Safety | 4 Comments »

Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs

We’re hosting Easter dinner this year for the extended family of 15, which means that despite the gazillion-pound ham that I bought at the market yesterday, there will be left overs. There always are. And of course, with left overs comes the lingering question of what to do with them to make them interesting for the next couple of days, and maybe even for a not-too-distant lunch, snack or dinner. Sure, I could send some home with the family as they each depart for their own homes, but that still leaves whatever is left for us to contend with. Whether you’re having ham, turkey or lamb for Easter (or any other holiday), these recipes may help make greater use of your leftovers too.

Disclaimer: Please forgive any missing quantities or measurements. I cook like my mom and grandma: part alchemy, part inspiration, part magic and a whole lot of love.

What to do with left-over ham: Savory Split-Pea Soup

You’re probably thinking “ick.” But this split pea soup will delight even the biggest naysayer. (I know, because my husband loves it.) If you have a ham with the bone in, save it, wrap it well in parchment paper or a freezer bag and refrigerate overnight or freeze if it will be longer than a day or two before using. (Don’t forget to put the date on it.) Do the same with some of the meat.

Ingredients:
Ham bone (optional)
Left over ham—diced (about 1 cup)
1 16 oz package of split peas
vegetable or chicken stock/broth (about 6 cups)
Sea salt
1 T. Ground black pepper
1 T. Yellow curry powder
2 T. Cilantro or recaito
One onion peeled and diced
Several cloves of garlic diced or pressed
One to two whole carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
Olive oil
fresh parsley or cilantro
sour cream or half-and-half
optional: sherry or sauterne

Equipment:
Stock pot
Wooden spoon
Rubber spatula
Ladle
Blender or food processor

Directions:
1 Wash and drain peas. Set aside. (You can soak them in warm water while they are set aside.)
2 In the stock pot, place 2 T olive oil
3 On medium heat sautee the onion, garlic and 1 T cilantro until the onion is clear
4 Reduce heat slightly and add the ham, sautee for about five minutes
5 Reduce heat again and add 1 cup of stock/broth
6 Add in the ham bone and add more broth gradually until the bone is covered (if not using the ham bone skip to #10 )
7 Increase heat again to medium-high and bring to a low rolling boil
8 After mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer until the meat falls off of the bone
9 Carefully remove the bone from the liquid and discard
10 Add the remaining broth (you can substitute one of the cups of broth with water or dry white wine)
11 Add the peas, carrots, 1 T of recaito or cilantro, 1 t of curry and the salt and pepper
12 Increase heat again and bring to a rolling boil
13 Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until the peas are tender (use a the back of a spoon and see if you can smush the peas against the side of the pot)
14 Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes
15 Carefully ladle the mixture into the blender or food processor
16 Add remaining curry (or more to taste) and blend until a velvety smooth texture and a uniform color
17 Remove from blender/food processor with a rubber spatula and serve in bowls
18 Sprinkle a bit more curry over the top and add a dollop of sour cream or swirl half-and-half in gently to the soup in small measures.
19 Garnish with a sprig of parsley or fresh cilantro and serve.

This soup can be served warm or cold. It also can be served in bread bowls for a fun touch. And, as a vegetarian option, skip the meat steps use vegetable stock. For added texture, use diced potatoes instead of meat, and add when adding the carrots and peas. Use the potatoes as the gauge for when to remove the mixture from the heat and blend.

Next on beyond the sandwich, ideas for left over turkey.

Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Holidays, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

Computer Maintainence: Start-up Options

Clearing Your Start-up

When cleaning your family computer, the first thing you should clear is the first thing that loads when you computer starts. This is the start-up and tells your computer what programs to allow to run when the whole system starts.

The problem with many computers is that there are a ton of programs running in the ‘background’ and will slow down a system considerably. Follow these instructions to help speed the loading of your system and performance in general.

Instructions.

First, go to your start button. If you are using Windows Vista, this button will appear as a round button on the bottom left corner of your screen. In the very bottom of the choices is a box that says ‘Start Search’. In this type area put ‘msconfig’.

This will bring up a new box on your screen, System Configuration. Choose (click) the Startup tab. Uncheck ALL of the boxes on the tabbed screen if there are any checked. Your computer will tell you that the changes will take effect after your next restart.

Restart your computer now. When the system loads, you should notice a difference in speed.

Quick List For Reference.

Start Button >Search: Msconfig

System Configuration > Startup> Uncheck All > Restart

Posted in Uncategorized, Computers and Technology | No Comments »

Thwarting Babysitter Drama–Forewarned is Forearmed

Every now and then, my husband and I try to get out without our darling boy. In fact, last summer, we started having a standing date every Friday night. Once the colder months hit, our “standing Friday night date” went by the wayside because we didn’t feel like braving the cold, we were having a hard time coming up with things to do, and it turned out that we preferred to just relax and snuggle and maybe catch an “on demand” movie or two after the little guy was in bed. Yeah, we’re lame. We do still go out at least once a month–it probably doesn’t sound like much, but getting out was also hard because of watching the hysterical and teary-eyed boy standing at the door as we left after wrestling ourselves from his clutches. It was heartbreaking and the temptation to call and see how he was doing after we’d left was too great.

He always seems to know too, that my husband and I are getting ready to go out without him. When else does Mama put on make-up and carry a bag that’s smaller than the diaper bag? He is a very observant boy and seems to know and understand our routines and rituals. It’s uncanny.

Two Mama-and-Papa outings ago, I had a “eureka” moment, inspired not so much by the impending arrival of the babysitter, but by the activity that we were in the middle of. My son and I were playing in his room, and having a grand time when I realized that it would soon be time for me to start getting ready. While we were playing I initiated this conversation with my 25-month-old, whom we affectionately call Bean:

Mama (excitedly): “Guess what, Beany?”
Bean: “Wha?”
Mama (still excitedly): “Guess who’s coming over to see you?
Bean: “Me?”
Mama: (still excitedly): “Yes, you! Kristen’s coming over to have dinner with you and for a play date just with you! Isn’t that great?”
Bean: “Yah, yah, yah, yah, yahhhhhh!” (jumping up and down).
Mama: “And Mama and Papa are going to go out–so it’ll be just you and Kristen for your play date!”
Bean: “Kay” (for okay.)

We continued playing some more and I announced that when Papa went into the shower, I’d make Bean’s dinner.

He was completely nonplussed. I made his dinner and when my husband came back downstairs, I went to get myself ready. On cue and on time (as always) Kristen arrived. Five minutes later, my husband and I were out the door, leaving the two of them coloring while Bean finished his dinner.

There were no tears, no tantrum, no drama. He blew us kisses and waved bye-bye as we left.

It turns out that this wasn’t an strange occurrence. I tried the same kind of forewarning the next time that my husband and I had a child-free outing, and it yielded the same results.

Am I deceiving him, by calling it a “play date” instead of telling him outright that Mama and Papa are going out without him? I don’t think so. To him the babysitter’s arrival means the impending doom of Mama’s and Papa’s disappearance. To the little ego-centric mind of the toddler it means that he’s missing out on something, that we just may be having fun without him. But by letting him know that the babysitter’s arrival is not about Mama and Papa, but is all about him and sharing an activity that he loves–playing–it removes the frustration. And, since he does know our routines and habits, preparing him ahead of time shows that we respect him enough as a person to inform him of changes to his world, and gives him ample time to process the sitter’s arrival and look forward to his special play date. The sitter isn’t spurng upon him, deflating any expectations that he’d be having Mama and Papa to himself all night.

So if you’re being confronted by babysitter drama when you try to leave, try the gentle forewarning approach. It just may work for you, too.

Posted in Parenting, Babies, Behavior Issues, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

Family Computer Maintenance

The Family Computer

Today many families rely on computers in one for or another. Some of you may work from home, share photos with family, speak with friends, or use the computer as an outlet if you are disabled and unable to leave home. Children use computers to complete homework. You use computers to come by this blog and visit with me, too!

I’d like to offer some advice on keeping your computer running smoothly. This has nothing at all to do with my old computer dying a few days ago. No . . . not at all. Heh.

First of all, keep your computer clean. When I say clean, I mean to remove all the gunk that you get when you visit different sites around the web. Your computer caches every single thing you do or see, so it is a good idea to run a cleaning program once a week. More if you do a lot of surfing. You may associate ‘washers’ with those ads that pop up and tell you to ‘cover your tracks’, but in reality, cleaning your computer is an important part of keeping it running in peak condition.

Free Software for Family Computers

Eusing Software offers free washers and a registry cleaner I use often. They are free to download and use, though you can offer a donation. Donations help keep free software free! I suggest saving all of your passwords to a text file before using the internet washer. It will erase all saved passwords. Use the registry cleaner anytime you uninstall a program, it will help clean up old, unused registry values that may slow down your computer.

Spybot Search and Destroy is my favorite spy ware removal program. Adaware is ok, but they’ve since moved their free program from the home page in an effort to get people to buy the premium version. Spybot is free, but as with Eusing, you can donate to help with development.

Next post, we will talk about more maintenance of the system. In this new series we will also cover actual cleaning of the computer to increase its’ longevity.

Posted in Computers and Technology | No Comments »

Spring is time for…

…Puddles!

The snow is melting. The spring rains and “seasonable mixes? are falling…and that means one thing and one thing only to the little ones—puddle jumping. To parents this instills thoughts of wet shoes, socks and cuffs, mud and the germ fest that might be lurking within those growing pools around the yard and neighborhood. But to the wee ones puddles mean endless fun.

Don’t fight it. Embrace the puddle adventures by being prepared and thinking of it all as a learning experience.

Here are some tips for going with the flow:

Spare Change. Keep a spare set of clean, dry socks, pants, shoes and a small towel in a gallon-sized zipper-styled freezer bag in the car for when you encounter a puddle on your usual journeys. Depending upon how much of a splasher you have, you might also want to include an extra jacket, top or mittens if it’s still chilly enough in your area to need mittens. When you venture out, factor in some extra time for a few minutes of splashing (and a quick change) if you can. You can put the wet clothes in the freezer bag after you make the change into the dry gear. Don’t forget extra wipes and hand sanitizer (used sparingly) and don’t forget to change the “spare set? when it gets worn. Put it back in the car as soon as possible so that you can be ready at any time for those impromptu puddle adventures.

B-O-O-T-S. BOOTS! Any Laurie Berkner fan knows the song. Consider keeping Wellie-styled rubber boots ready for when the little one wants to venture out. You can get them almost everywhere relatively inexpensively at bricks-and-mortar stores such as Target and Walmart and at higher-end stores like Nordstroms. You can also order them on-line at LLBean, Lands End, Zappos, Piperlime, Wellie Boots.com, CoCo Bons.com and many others. With or without matching rain coats they are a “must have? not just for puddle jumping, but for those wet and wild rainy days. (If you’re concerned about products for your child that may contain vinyl or Bisphenol-A (BPA) because of their potential to disrupt our hormonal systems, be sure to read labels carefully and choose ones with rubber only or the lowest amounts of vinyl or BPA.To learn more about potential issues and hazards of vinyl and BPA visit the Environmental Working Group.)

Be Prepared. If you don’t have rubber rain gear you can still enjoy the puddle-fest by rolling up pant-legs and having a spot to change out of wet clothes right when you return to the house. Near the door, keep a towel down to keep the floor dry. (It also means a quick clean-up of wet things for easy transport to the laundry. Just scoop everything up in the towel and take to the washer.) You can also keep a change of clothes ready for when you get back into the house or a dry robe. Don’t forget to wash hands (and any other body parts that may have come into contact with puddle water) after you have changed out of the wet clothes. It may even be a great time for a bath to continue the water play and get the little one thoroughly clean.

Jump In! Why let the kids have all the fun? Get in on the action and get in touch with your own inner child and make a splash or two yourself. See who can make the biggest splash. Play with cause and effect: what happens if you just tap the puddle with your toe? …your whole foot? Stomp in it? Walk through it? For older splashers who will know not to try and taste the water, see what happens if you float a leaf in it, toss a rock into it. The possibilities are endless and you can also turn a fun time into a learning activity. Extend the learning for the older splashers by drawing pictures or writing a story about your puddle excursion(s) once everyone is inside and dried off.

Be Vigilant. While your child doesn’t know a safe puddle from an unsafe one, as a parent you do. Trust your instincts, if you think a puddle looks unsafe steer your child to a safe puddle. What makes a puddle unsafe? Debris, it’s extra muddy, it has oil or other slick appearance on top of it, birds or other animals avoid it entirely, it is near dog poop or other animal droppings, it smells strange, it is in or near the street or near a sewer, drain, ditch or other municipal drainage system. If you do see puddles that are suspect (especially ones with oil or what may seem to be hazardous materials, let your Dept. of Public Works know…it is better to alert them to a potential issue than to let it go unaddressed.)

End It Well. Time is elusive to little ones. Everything either takes forever (when they are waiting) or didn’t last long enough (when they want to do something). Avoid the end-of-activity battle by letting them know ahead of time how long you’ll be out, or that in x-number of splashes left it will be time to go in. That way the fun doesn’t just end abruptly. Also pay attention to your child’s cues that they are ready to go in or do something else. You can always do more tomorrow, and if that’s the case, tell them so. Wrap up the activity with some warm milk or hot cocoa when you get in as an extra warming-up treat after everyone is in dry clothes.

With a little planning and creativity, puddle adventures can become an enjoyable and hassle-free experience for you as much as it is for the kids. Now go get splashing!

Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, Clothing, Guest Blogger | 1 Comment »

Brooke Hogan Feeling Effects Of Dad’s Infidelity.

Brooke Hogan lashed out at her former best friend on her Myspace blog, though the post has since been removed, for sleeping with her famous father, Hulk Hogan.

The WWE Superstar recently was divorced from his wife of 21 years. He had been having an affair with his singer/reality show star daughter’s best friend who is 33. According to the mistress, she and Hogan had began to see each other when Hogan and his wife had privately decided their marriage was over.

Brooke Hogan had posted:

“I think she shoulda thought about what kinda press she was gonna get when she slept with her best friend’s famous father … I think we’re all seeing just exactly how karma works Christiane. Nothing you say will ever put my family back together.”

There was more, but the starlet removed the post after deciding that the situation should be dealt with out of the public eye.

It is a sobering reminder that children are affected by divorce and infidelity no matter who they are and their age.

Posted in Uncategorized, News Items | No Comments »

Another Mama Blogger joins the fray

Thanks Julie!

When I first learned about Family Resource, I instantly bookmarked and it became one of my primary family resources (every pun intended). So you can only imagine how excited I am to be joining some esteemed company as a guest blogger here–and Dawn Allcot is going to be one tough act to follow.

As Julie said, I am a mother–to a mostly darling two-year old boy going on five. He thinks that he’s much bigger than he is, but that’s okay, it just the adventure more interesting. I’ve been a WAHM for just over two years now and love it as it gives me the flexibility to focus on and provide what I hope is a good balance for my two passionate jobs: parenting and publications. (I say publications since I am both an editor, a writer and most recently the creator and editor-in-chief of theWAHMmagazine.)

A bit of a “frunchy” (or fashionably crunchy) mama, the topics that I write about include current events, parenting, babies and toddlers, energy issues and natural parenting/natural living. I’m looking forward to sharing with Family Resource readers about these and other fun and important family-related issues over the next month.

Posted in Guest Blogger | No Comments »

March Guest Blogger!

I’d like to introduce this months’ Guest Blogger, Erika-Marie Geiss.

Erika is the Editor in Chief of the new WAHM Magazine located at http://www.wahmmagazine.net . She is a mother, a writer, and a good friend. She will be posting right after me, so let’s give her a wamr welcome to Family Resource!

Posted in Uncategorized, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

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