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Thursday, December 31, 2015


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Think About It ....



Before going out to the party be sure to plan a safe way home. Drinking drivers who do not plan a way home before heading out often make the wrong choice of driving because they do not want to go back and get their car the next day, the taxi cost more money than they want to pay or it is an inconvenience to bother any for a ride home.

Drivers should be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving. This risk often goes up because of the holidays. The best thing to do is have a designated sober driver that you can trust before heading out. Leave your keys at home and trust the designated driver to get you to where you need to go.

New Year's Eve is traditionally a good night to have some fun. Whether it be a family gathering, party, restaurant outing or other activity where alcohol will be involved there is always risk to everyone when someone makes the decision to drink and drive. New Years eve is often regarded as the most dangerous holiday night of the year. If you are impaired use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation. If you happen to see an impaired driver on the road call 911.

Unlike many think it only takes one to two drinks to be impaired. Slow physical and mental skills that affect vision, steering, braking judgment, and reaction time. There will be sobriety checkpoints as well as extra patrol on the look out for drinking drivers during the holiday. People that are convicted of driving under the influence could lose what they value most. Their family, job, dignity and money are all on the line.

If you will be drinking this New Years Eve make sure you plan a way home before the party. Designate a non drinking driver who can get every one home safely. Remember it is not only illegal but dangerous to serve anyone alcohol under the age of 21.  Do not accept a ride from a car driven by someone who is or has been drinking alcohol. Even one drink can impair the driver.

 Hosting a party? Serve non alcohol drink alternatives. Keep the number of a local cab where those needing a ride can get it. Take car keys from friends who have had to much to drink.

Red Bean Dip




1 can red beans (15 ounces), rinsed well and drained
a few drops of oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper (jalapeño), stem removed (use more if desired)
1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
dash salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon light sour cream

Garnishes (optional):
Chopped green onions
Cilantro
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Chopped canned chilies
In a nonstick skillet sauté garlic, pepper, and onion in oil until they're wilted. Pour into a food processor or blender. Add rest of ingredients except yogurt and sour cream; blend well. Remove from blender and stir in yogurt and sour cream. Add additional water if dip is too thick. Refrigerate in a covered container. Serve topped with any of the above garnishes.
For Dipping:
We all know cut up vegetables make the perfect dippers. Did you know that stale bread is another good choice?
Corn tortillas, cut like a pie into eighths
Whole wheat pita bread, split apart into individual circles, then cut into wedges
Bagels, quartered and sliced very thin
French or Italian bread, sliced very thin and then into desired sizes

Preheat oven to 325° F. Arrange bread(s) of your choice on a large cookie sheet. Spray bread with water using a spray bottle. Bake for at least 20 minutes or until bread is crispy (thicker bread takes longer). Halfway through crisping, turn bread over if necessary. Cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight container

recipe source mother earth news

Non Alcoholic Mango Strawberry Sangria

 
 
 
9 ounce fresh mango, peeled, pitted and pureed to make 6 ounces strained mango pure
6 large strawberries, pureed                    
1 ounce simple syrup
6 ounce fresh orange juice
6 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 liter lemon-lime soda
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
Mint sprig, strawberries, orange and lemon slices Large
 Bordeaux glass with ice
                                              
Place ingredients (excluding lemon-lime soda) into a large glass container, cover, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve pour into an ice filled pitcher to 2/3 full. Add fresh sliced fruits and top with lemon-lime soda, stir gently to mix. Serve in wine glasses filled with ice and fresh fruit.
Source:
 

Bacon Wrapped Cocktail Sausages

Bacon-Wrapped Cocktail Sausages
 
 
 
 
1 14-oz. package Lit’l Smokies
1 12-oz. package lean bacon
3/4 c. brown sugar
 
Preheat your oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut the slab of bacon into thirds.
Wrap 1/3 of each slice of bacon around each sausage and secure with a toothpick and place on the baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining sausages and bacon. When I was making these, the stars somehow aligned and this package of Lit’l Smokies and Hormel Black Label bacon matched up completely–no leftover bacon, no leftover sausage. Sprinkle brown sugar over sausages and bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes or until bacon has cooked and is starting to brown.
If you’re serving these at a party, they taste even better after a little time in the slow cooker on low heat. And that bacon grease that has co-mingled with the brown sugar? Let’s just not think about what it actually is and focus on how that salty-sweetness is a perfect glaze for these little suckers.

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day





December 30th is a day that honors baking soda. I can tell you that every baker knows how important baking soda is but there is so much that it can be used for. Have you ever used baking soda for any reason other than baking? I can say that I have used it in several different ways but the list has many new ones to me as well


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup
 
 
 
 
Everything you love about a stuffed pepper in an easy slow cooker soup!
 
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef or sirloin
3 green peppers, diced
4 cups beef broth
2 cups chicken broth
28 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
3- 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 cup brown rice (NOT INSTANT)- HIGHLY recommend Uncle Ben's Brown Rice for this recipe.
3 teaspoons basil
3 teaspoons oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a skillet, add your olive oil and saute your garlic for one minute.
Add your ground beef to the skillet and season well with pepper and salt.
Once cooked, drain your ground beef & garlic mixture, and add this to your slow cooker.
Next add your diced green peppers, beef broth, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, seasoning, and brown rice. Give it all a stir.
Set your slow cooker to LOW for 4-6 hours.
Serve with crusty bread.
Side note- if your slow cooker sets itself to WARM after it is done cooking, you only need to cook this for four hours. If your slow cooker does not set itself to WARM, it will need to cook for six hours.
 
recipe source here

Root Vegetable Slaw

Root Vegetable Slaw


  • 3 medium beetroot
  • 2 medium carrots
  • ½ a celeriac
  • 1 medium kohlrabi

For the dressing:
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • a small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • a small bunch of mint, chopped
  • a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ tbsp grated lemon zest
  • salt and pepper

Shred the beets, carrots, celriac and kohlrabi (or fennel bulb) using a mandolin or food processor, so that you have fine julienned pieces.
Place into a bowl and cover in cool water (do the beets separately to prevent staining)
Make the dressing – lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and caster sugar in a pan over low heat, until the sugar dissolves.  Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the shredded vegetables and dry on paper towel, placing into a dry bowl.  Pour warm dressing over the vegetables and leave to sit, covered in the fridge, for 45 minutes.
When ready to serve, remove from fridge, add herbs and lemon zest and adjust seasoning.
Serve with labneh (yoghurt cheese) or as a side to a main meal.

Recipe from: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

Cautuion Drunk Drivers are OUt There


The truth about drunk drivers is that they are not only out there but there are real individuals hurt and killed every day. One of these victims was a little girl named Jashalyn who because of someone else's decision to drink and drive is no longer here with us. Her death sentence was not something this little girl with a bright future, her mother or family or anyone that knew this little girl dreamed of happening one day. But the truth is that there was nothing that could have changed or prevented as a driver that had drank to much got in the car behind the wheel, started up the car, drove off on the road and caused a wreck that killed this beautiful little girl.

There are those drivers that feel that they are so called "safe drunk drivers". They will go under the speed limit, try to follow the rules of the road and only have a short drive to go. In fact, there are no safe drunk drivers and no one that has drank to much should ever consider their selves one. There are way to many drivers who have been stopped before for the offense of drunk driving. An average of 50 to 75 percent of drunk driving offenders who have lost the right to drive continue to do so anyway. Thus they are very selfish individuals who are not learning from experience. These drivers are putting the lives of everyone on the road in danger.

If you are a drunk driver or know a drunk driver I implore you to stop before one bad night effects the ones that you love. There are ways that you can make a difference. M.A.D.D (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has a need for volunteers , lobbyists and donations. S.A.D.D (Students Against Drunk Driving) is to help draw students awareness to the fact of the chance of saving their selves from terrible decisions. If you are not able to join in one of these organizations then please remind your friends and family to not drink and drive
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dine on Soul Food during the holiday of Kwanza



I have had the opportunity to share with you about the festival of Kwanzaa With it being a tradition to celebrate heritage. Sadly, many years ago there was a time in the lives of African Americans where slavery was every day life. Embracing history also means taking a look at what was brought out of that life. One of the best things that we now have is soul food and it is often dined on during the holiday of Kwanza.

Soul food comes from a legacy of slavery and is now a much prized industry. There are restaurants, videos, books, television shows, and cooks that are dedicated to the world of soul food. Soul food started out as a treasure passed along African Americans and has become an American treasure. Soul food recipes have been passed through 300 years from generation to generation. The recipes, manner of cooking and seasonings all make up delicious soul food.

How it was that vegetables that were popular in Africa arrived in America is still a mystery. Vegetables such as okra, black eyed peas, watermelon, yams and many green leafed vegetables were vegetables that came from the continent of Africa and are all very much a staple of soul food cooking.

Work on the southern plantations made for sweltering days. The labor was long and hard. The food to support the workers had to be cheap, filling and offer enough energy for the long hot day. Soul food was the perfect thing to provide for these needs. The soul food offered a healthier diet that made it possible for the slaves to get through the long day.

 
 



Hoppin' John is an old Southern dish, especially popular in South Carolina. No one really knows how it came by its name, but its culinary roots seem to stretch back to Africa. It is traditionally eaten as part of a New Year's Day meal, as black-eyed peas supposedly bring good luck. For maximum luck, eat Hoppin' John immediately after midnight along with a side of greens

6 to 8 servings

recipe source here

Salt pork, chopped finely -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
Onion, minced -- 1
Rice -- 1 1/2 cups
Water or stock -- 3 cups
Black-eyed peas, cooked, drained and rinsed -- 2 cups
Ham hock -- 1
Bay leaf -- 1
Thyme -- 1 teaspoon
Salt and pepper -- to taste

Heat the salt pork in a large pot over medium heat and cook until it renders its fat and becomes a little crispy. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in the rice and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly and let simmer for 15 to 18 minutes.
Remove from heat and let rest, covered, another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve with bottled hot sauce for seasoning.

Variations

  • Vegetarian Version: Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in place of the salt pork and eliminate the ham hock.
  • Many recipes call for chopped bacon instead of salt pork.
  • Instead of the ham hock, substitute 1 1/2 cups of cubed ham or chopped sausages if you like.
  • Some recipes call for the rice and beans to be cooked separately, then mixed together at the end.



The Clock Is Ticking




The many days of the 2015 have sped by and here we are on the 29th of December. With only 2 days left of the year what you may begin to look over the year and remember what you did and what you wanted to do. For me this year has went quite fast and while the truth remained that

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
Of twenty-eight there is but one,
And all the rest have thirty-one.

Those 363 days have traveled quite speedily and there are many things that we did do and more that we did not get done. With only 2 more days to go we can either scramble to finish what we wanted in 2015 or get ready to do more in 2016.

The one thing to do when creating your goals for the new year is to make them reachable for you. Many will want to stop smoking, make more money, retire or lose weight the one thing that you will want to say is that you may want to make 2016 better than 2015. For even good things can be made better.

Create a list of goals and write it down. This may be on your blog, your journal or even on a piece of paper for the fridge to hold Putting it down on paper should make it something you strive to complete. When you write your goals remember to be specific do not just write lose weight in the new year make it a real goal with a number in mind. Whatever it is make it specific in time and value.

Do a bit of research were their others that had the same new years goal as you?? How did they go about it. Researching a bit of what to do and success at doing it may just make your fight a bit easier.

Start right away putting something off will start a snowball effect of the next day always being a better day to start. Break away starting fresh and not looking up keep your nose to the grind will make your goal possible

Keep faith if possible keep a picture of the goal of whatever you want to reach. When it seems like you are down and not for sure what to do next this reminder will keep you on tract

Share with others about your goal. IS there a group you can join where others are striving for the same goal. There always has been groups out there but now with social media there are even more great groups. Look to see if you can find one where you can meet others with the same like goal.

Monday, December 28, 2015

National Chocolate Candy Day


How many of us gave chocolate candy to someone or received chocolate candy for a gift this holiday season??  I can say that I did and have for many years. Our family has a custom to give out chocolate covered cherries to distant relatives and friends. This way we can make more individuals smile and keep Christmas in all of our hearts.

Today is national chocolate covered candy day. Perhaps you are like my friends who have made friends with the vending machine. You may find your chocolate covered candy in one or more of these great snacks.



No matter where you find your chocolate covered candy do your self a favorite be safe to not eat to much but a little cut

Dream of a Dish


Our tropical post this week for all of you who would love to be there. Oh yes it counts for tropical fruit as kiwi as we all know is a tropical fruit. Hope it makes you feel sunny and warm inside.

Chocolate Covered Candy Day


How many of us gave chocolate candy to someone or received chocolate candy for a gift this holiday season??  I can say that I did and have for many years. Our family has a custom to give out chocolate covered cherries to distant relatives and friends. This way we can make more individuals smile and keep Christmas in all of our hearts.

Today is national chocolate covered candy day. Perhaps you are like my friends who have made friends with the vending machine. You may find your chocolate covered candy in one or more of these great snacks.



No matter where you find your chocolate covered candy do your self a favorite be safe to not eat to much but a little cup may make you smile

I Pledge Allegiance




Congress formally recognized the Pledge of Allegiance on December 28th 1945. Some 70 years ago we still stand proud and say the pledge with a salute, our hand over our heart and with love and pride in our heart. The pledge was first wrote in 1892.




Card Playing Day

 
 
Today, December 28th is Card Playing Day. A card game is any game that uses playing cards as the main piece of the game. This can be either traditional or built into the rules of the game. There are a great variety of card games. There are games that have been created that have been based on other card games. There are board games that can be considered card games because they use cards to promote the game and are used as the main role in how the game is played. There are even a few card games that are played with traditional decks using formal standardized rules. However, most games are games that have been passed down through generations through families, regions, culture and individual style.
 
Card games all have one thing in common every game where cards are involved. The cards are always identical in size and shape and every card has 2 sides. The sides of the card are called face and back. Games do differ by whether the face of the card are alike or different.
 
The first playing cards appeared during the ninth century Tang Dynasty China. The first game mentioned anywhere is something called the leaf game. A popular game created in the 19th century that of the Mahjong game was played with three suited money playing card decks. Rummikub is another game played with tiles that was originally played with cards.

Europeans welcomed playing card games in the 14th century. This is where the deck of 52 cards came from. The suits at that time were swords, polo sticks, cups and coins. Ranks were king, governor, second governor and then ten to one. Today the suits are hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. Ranks have also change and are King, queen , jack and ten to one with the one being an ace.

Tarot cards were first found in Italy The deck included 14 cards in each suit. The usual 1- 10 then valet (jack), chevalier (knight) dame (queen) and Roi (king) and a fool or excuse card. The early tarot cards were for playing games today Tarot cards are often part of the occult and are used for fortune telling.


This New Years eve if you find your self in a rolling game of cards pull out a bit of trivia that you learned when you read this post and share with your friends they may be surprised that you know so much
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Almost In My Backyard

 
Recently I shared with you about the great Christmas bird hunt. The goal is to find out how birds are migrating and keep tract of the health of bird as well. I thought I would share about a bird that you can find in my backyard many days
 
 

While goose hunting is a fairly popular sport here in southern Illinois. White Fronted Geese are still popular birds in our area. While not seen in my back yard they are often seen flying over head or at near by water ways.

Both female and male geese are similar in size around 27 to 30 inches tall. They appear gray or brown in color with their heads often being a darker brown head and neck. Orange legs and feet and a bill that is pinkish colored with a white base. Their bellies feature irregular dark bands on their bellies. with a white line that separates wings and belly.

The geese are found on coastal and inland wetlands and fields. They often breed on marshy tundra areas Around 5 to 6 cream colored eggs are laid and in about 23 to 25 days the eggs hatch.





Winter Squash

I have shared here on annies home a few different times that December is the month where Winter squash is honored. I thought it might be a great idea to share with you exactly what squash are listed under the winter squash category.
 
 
 


you may want to check out these other post as well


shared at
Faith Filled Parenting

Kwanza founder


I recently shared a post on the festival of Kwanza and wanted to share more with you. If you are like me you may have heard of it but not for sure what it is. That is ok as many do not understand exactly what the holiday is. Kwanza is a celebration that is meant to be empowering for all black people. The rich history of the African first fruits ceremony is closely related.


Maulan Karenga the man behind the holiday is a professor, author and founder of the Kwanza holiday. The celebration began when Karenga decided that African Americans needed an annual event to celebrate their heritage. Maulan decided this after seeing the trouble of the Watts area in Los Angeles.




National Fruitcake Day


Happy National Fruitcake Day to you. I must tell you though that I do not care for the store bought fruitcakes and can never imagine gifting anyone with one. Fruitcake made with chopped candies or dried fruit, nuts, and spices. It is believed that Rome is where fruitcake was first created. One of the earliest recipes include pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and raisins mixed into a barley mash as ingredients. In the middle ages honey, spices and preserved fruit were added. In the 16th century early America offered their own ingredient of sugar to help preserve fruit, and create candied fruit.

American fruitcake is often created rich in fruits and nuts. Some recipes may include liqueurs or brandy and cover the cake in powder sugar. American fruitcake was first sold in mail-order catalog starting in 1913







 

Create Some Snowflakes

 
This winter has been a bit warmer than normal so far. If you are like me you may be ready for a few snowflakes. If old man winter is not making them then perhaps you may want to make your own. Take time to create this fun family friendly craft that produces your own snowflakes.
 
 
 
 
 


love snowflakes each one is different. I really love the big snowflakes because you can see the details of their beauty. If you want to make a few snowflakes of your own simply follow these directions

SUPPLIES NEEDED
  • Wax paper
  • Sparkly Glitter Glue –  (or Elmer’s Glue and some glitter)
  • needle and thread
  • Marker & paper to draw templates (or print them) optional

STEP 1
Decide which method you’ll be using and gather your supplies.
snowflake craft supplies
STEP 2
Tear off piece of wax paper. If drawing or using templates, put them under wax paper first. Using the Sparkly Glitter Glue, draw out your snowflake.  Be sure and make it thick enough, otherwise, it will easily tear when time to peel off wax paper.
snowflake tempate with glitter glue
STEP 3
Let dry overnight and then carefully peel off.
peeling snowflakes
glittered snowflakes
STEP 4
Thread your needle and poke hole through snowflake. Tie off and hang as decoration.
threading
You’re done!
craft resource here


you may want to check out these other snowflake related post

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Health Snack Recipe: Tomato and basil Bruschetta


Health Snack Recipe: Tomato And Basil Bruschetta
 
Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer. Made up of bread, olive oil and garlic This dish is native to Italy but similar dishes may have been eaten in Greek, French, and Spanish cuisines. It is also perfect for any season rather warm or cold. A perfect appetizer not to heavy but packed with lots of great flavor.
 
 
 
 
 
6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced* or chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more or less to taste
1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
*To thinly slice basil leaves, stack the leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other.

Bring to boil 2 quarts of water. While waiting for water to boil make shallow cuts in a cross pattern at the tip ends of the tomatoes (this will help when it comes to peeling tomatoes) Once the water is boiling remove the pot from the heat. Place tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and let it sit until cool enough to handle. Peel off tomato skins. Cut out stem base with a paring knife. Cut tomatoes into halve or quarter and squeeze out most of the juice and seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the top slot of the oven. Chop the tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Mix in minced garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Stir in thinly sliced basil and add salt and pepper to suit taste.

Cut the bread into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Brush one side of each with olive oil and place oil side down on baking sheet or roasting pan. Place on top rack of oven this will allow bread to toast for 5 to 6 minutes to give a lightly brown edge.

Place toasted bread on a platter oil side up You can serve this with tomato mix on side or gently spon on top of the bread. If you choose to top do not do til right before serving

recipe source here

Festval of Kwanzaa


 Kwanzaa is a week long celebration held in the U.S. The celebration honors African heritage in African American culture. The celebration takes place December 26 to January 1st. Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga with seven core principles. It was first celebrated in 1966 to 1967

Kwanzaa is the first African American holiday. Karenga came up with the name of the holiday from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza which means "first fruits of the harvest" Swahili an East African language was  status symbol of the Pan Africanism movement in the 1960s. Kwanzaa has roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960 and was created to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historial heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditional and the seven principles of African Heritage.

Early years Kwanzaa was created to offer "oppositional alternatve" to Christmas. Later s Kwanzaa gained population it was changed to be a celebration of family, community and culture not to give an alternative but to celebrate alongside their own holiday.

Boxing Day



In colonial days boxing day was even more important than Christmas. It was celebrated on Epiphany the day of the arrival of the magi. The day was celebrated by giving presents to the servants. The presents were given in boxes with the present itself traditionally being clothing or money. The da was one for weddings, dancing, and other party like atmosphere.


 
 
Boxing day is not a religious holiday but it is a day to remember others. Servants, employees, and others less fortunate. In many countries gifts are collected and given to the needy and those in service. This tradition traces back to the middle ages in Europe. Employers would often give their servants box filled with goodies, gifts and even leftover. These boxes would be taken home to be shared with their families.
 
Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom consider boxing day a federal holiday This gives families 2 days to celebrate Christmas with each other and ponder on the true meaning of Christmas. You can join in the traditions of boxing day and here are a few ways you can do that.
 
box up your Christmas leftovers and bring to families less fortunate than your own
 
when making room for the new Christmas toys make a bit of room by getting rid of toys and donating them to a family or organization that could use them
 
Inquire with local church about a family in the community that may have needs to be met try to meet a need that they may have
 
One way we can always help is to pray for needs that anyone may have
 
Create thank you cards include a friendly note, a picture that your child has colored or created. You can create these for those that gave you gifts to say thank you as well as or those that have helped you in a more personal way during the year.
 
Bake cookies or treats for those working during the holiday season. There are many jobs that must be covered such as nurses, police, firemen and the list goes on
 
Volunteer to serve at a local food kitchen or work at a food pantry
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thank you Note Day




The day after Christmas is a perfect opportunity to give thanks by sending thank you notes. Celebrate thank you Note Day by writing to friends and relatives to show your appreciation and gratitude for the gifts that you received. It is also a great idea to share a few of your personal thoughts about how much you appreciate and love them. You can find some free printable thank you cards here

I would love to thank you for visiting our blog today. If you like what you see then you may like to follow our blog on gfc or subscribe to our email. Both of these are found on the side bar. We can also be found on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

Thank you

Peppermint Bark and National Cany Cane Day



The legend of the candy cane has been shared many times over. The sugary treat can be traced back to a candy maker in Indiana. The white stripe of the candy cane represented the lack of sin that Jesus had. The candy stick shaped in a cane resembles a shepherd's crook and indicates the good shepherd. The cane can be turned upside down to indicate a letter J the first letter in Jesus's name. The red of the candy cane symbolizes the blood of Jesus that was shed to save the world. However, the spangler candy company believes that the first candy cane came from a German choirmaster who  gave sugar sticks curved like shepherd's staff to the younger members of the choir. They were meant to help them stay quiet during holiday services.



While, the history of the candy cane can be debated the fact that candy canes are both delicious and very much part of the holiday season. Today, December 26th is National Candy Cane day. So while you share them with friends and family and decorate your tree and home with these sweet treats keep a few to share on National Candy cane day as well. Recipes like the following are perfect for National candy cane day

Peppermint Bark
Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
2 pounds white chocolate
Peppermint flavorings, optional

Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chicken Provencal

chicken leg quarters
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 c olive oil
4 c onion chopped
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c dry red wine
6 c canned crush tomato
2 1/2 c olives pitted sliced

Combine the flour, salt and black pepper in a half size hotel pan and toss to blend. Dredge the thawed chicken leg quarters in flour mixture; shake excess. Heat the oil in heavy braising pan. Working in several smaller batches, brown the chicken leg quarters for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and reserve. Add the onions and the garlic to the pan; sauté over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions start to soften, stirring frequently. Add the wine and simmer over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add the crushed tomatoes and olives and stir to blend. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until liquid has started to reduce and sauce is thickened. Ladle the tomato-olive sauce into a full size hotel pan. Arrange the browned chicken leg quarters over the sauce. Bake uncovered in a preheated conventional oven at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

  to Assemble a Single Serving Portion 13 ounces (1 leg quarter and 6 ounces sauce) of the Chicken Provencal (see recipe) in a large shallow bowl. Note: When saucing the chicken be sure to include a portion of the olives for visual impact.

recipe source here

Don't Drink and Drive


The best gift you can give your family is to not have any accidents on your way to visit. They very much would love for you to arrive alive. If you plan on drinking and having a bit of fun then do it legally and safe. Don't drink and drive

Here are a few ideas to do if you drink:
Find space on a couch.
Get a room.
Call a cab.
Have a designated driver before you even start your night of revelry!

Tropical Fruit Parfait



8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract
4 fruit choices such as finely diced mango, pineapple, grapes, strawberries or whole blueberries

Combine the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, milk and orange extract in a mixing bowl and beat using an electric mixer.
Alternate layers of the cream cheese mixture and the fruit in a trifle dish or parfait glasses by either spooning the cream cheese mixture or piping with a pastry bag

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crafting and cooking J & J
busy bee hives

Roly Poly Santa Claus Cookies



1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
red paste food coloring
mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
white frosting  

Mix butter on medium to high speed on your mixer for about 30 seconds or until softened. Add sugar, beat until fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add flour and beat until well combined. Remove 1 cup of dough and set aside.
Stir red paste food coloring into remaining dough until desired color is attained.
Shape each Santa by making one 3/4-inch ball and four 1/4-inch balls from the white dough.
From the red dough, shape one 1-inch ball and five 1/2-inch balls.
On an ungreased cookie sheet flatten the 1-inch red ball for body to 1/2-inch thickness. Attach white 3/4-inch ball for head; flatten to 1/2 inch. Attach four 1/2-inch red balls for arms and legs. Shape remaining 1/2-inch balls at the ends of arms and legs for hands and feet. Use chocolate pieces for eyes and buttons.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove and cool on wire racks.
With decorating bag fitted with a plain tip, use your white frosting to pipe a mustache, a band of icing on hat, cuffs at hands and feet, down the front, and at the bottom of jacket. Use a star tip to pipe beard and pom-pom on hate.
Makes 12.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Family Christmas Day 21

 
 
 
As Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem I can imagine the journey was quite long. Mary was expecting child and was like most pregnant ladies a bit more tired than usual. The extra luggage that Mary carried in the form of a baby inside of her belly was most something she loved and looked forward to but most likely slowed her down. I am sure that the road that they traveled at times seemed to be never ending. Whether their was a donkey present or not is something that has been debated. but I sort of hope that there was a donkey and it helped the pair on their journey.
 
Tonight, the shortest night of the year, take a load off and sit down and rest for a bit. For while the light of the world may be dark the light inside of hearts is very much a glow. Take a time to sit down and have dinner with the family by candlelight.
 
 
With the winter solstice being the shortest day of the year you may want to enjoy dinner by candlelight. It does not have to be a fancy dinner to eat by candlelight. Many years ago families ate by candlelight daily. Tonight take some time relax, have some good conversation and enjoy dinner by the flicker of candlelight

Think When You Drink

Having a good time is expected this time of year. Over indulging in alcohol is very dangerous. When that individual who has drank too much gets behind the wheel then they take their own as well as anyone on the road with them in danger. Car accidents, highway injuries, vehicular deaths are al potential risks. Every single injury and death caused by a drunk driver I totally preventable.
Think When You Drink sign
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
While crashes caused by alcohol related drivers have been dropping there are still far to many. The decision of a driver to get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol is a serious national problem that effects many victims annually. Most drivers who have had something to drink may have low blood alcohol content and few have been involved n fatal crashes. Many may be more impaired than they think they are.
 
 
Intoxicated handwriting graphic
 
 
 
 
Drunk driving is a social problem that sadly some get used to or overlook. There are many actions that are being looked at by officials to see what would work best. These actions include special courts, license revocation, mandatory jail, impounding, interlock devices to start car engine, and training staff better.

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In my back yard*

 Recently I shared with you about the great Christmas bird hunt. The goal is to find out how birds are migrating and keep tract of the health of bird as well. I thought I would share about a bird that you can find in my backyard many days
 
 
 
 
 
 
The bluejay is a fairly common song bird. Larger in size than other song birds but smaller in statue than a crow. Wears a headdress like no other, a perky crest with blue, white and black. The bluejay is a rather noisy bird with a load call. However, they fly silently when traveling and migrating.
 
Many consider the blue jay intelligent birds with a complex social system where the family structure is tight. Blue Jays while eating can store food in their throat pouch to save for later or take somewhere else. Blue jays have been credited for helping to spread oak trees because of their love for acorns. When eating the bluejay will hold a seed or nut in feet and peck it open
 
Blue jay make their homes at the forest edge near oak trees They can also commonly be found in woodlots, towns, and in city parks.
 
 
 
 
 Blue Jays are birds of forest edges. A favorite food is acorns, and they are often found near oaks, in forests, woodlots, towns, cities, parks.