Monthly Archives: July 2012

Breakfast Sandwiches

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I have fed many, many, many, many (sigh)…many people breakfast. Truth be told, I might have even fed you. I worked for several years at a major fast food chain and as the opening manager, I got to cook breakfast, a lot. I can crack 2 eggs at a time and rarely have any shells fall in. I am not as fast as I once was, but I still remember the tricks.

When The Man and I first married, he wanted breakfast but not first thing in the morning. I made him sandwiches he could grab and heat up when he arrived at work. I stopped making them for years, but when The Boy started high school, I found them quite convenient once again. He could grab one from the freezer, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds and eat on the way to an early run or a school trip. As he has graduated and in the army (sniff) they have slipped from my weekly schedule. Now that I have another entering high school, they have made their way back into my freezer.

INGREDIENTS:
English Muffins or Biscuits
Slice of cheese
1 egg
1 slice of Bacon or Ham or Sausage Patty
melted Butter or Oil

TOOLS:
Empty tuna fish can with only the lid removed
Small skillet with lid

This is really a process so you can tailor your sandwich to your personal preference or what you happen to have on hand. If you make biscuits for dinner, make a double batch. Sometimes I like to make them savory as it adds a little more flavor to the sandwiches. Such as 1 1/2 Tb of dried Parsley or 2 tsp of dried Sage when using sausage patties. Or maybe I will add some shredded cheddar cheese to the biscuit dough. Make them as simple or complex as you like. A package of English muffins makes it go even faster.

This time I oven fried some bacon while the biscuits were cooking. If I have thin slices of ham or canadian bacon, I don’t reheat them unless we are going to eat the sandwiches now. Ham will heat up in a matter of seconds in a hot pan. For sausage I purchase the tubes and make slices so they come out nice and round for me.

To cook the eggs, place the pan on medium high heat and pour in enough water to go halfway up the tuna fish can. The cans will be placed in the water bath.

Using a pastry brush or your fingers, rub the bottom and sides of the tuna can. When making scrambled eggs, whip them well and then pour into the can. Allowing the eggs to come to room temperature fist allows them to whip up better. If you prefer a “fried” style, crack the egg into the can and gently break the yolk. This is an important step you your end result will not be what you want.

Once the eggs are in the pans, season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper if desired. You can also add 1 Tbs of shredded cheese to the scrambled eggs. Cover the pan and set the timer for 2 minutes. You NEED a timer as overcooking will create dry, rubbery eggs. Nor do you want to release steam by removing the lid to check on them. I promise, as long as the water is at a simmer they will be done in exactly 2 minutes. In the photos I only did 2 cans, but you can do as many as will fit in the bottom of frying pan or pot.

I use a slotted spoon to remove the cans over a pair of tongs, I think I have more control over the molds. Run a knife around the edges, similar to removing a cake from its pan. Once flipped upside down, the eggs should slide right out. If they don’t, sliding a spoon under the egg will pop it out without breaking.

Layer the egg, meat and cheese onto your biscuit and serve.

To freeze, I wrap each sandwich in wax paper and place into a freezer bag. I don’t like to keep them longer than 2 weeks, but that has really not been a major issue in my house. I made a dozen for around $6.

If frozen, heat in the microwave on medium for about 1 minute. Each microwave is different so try 1 and check to see if it is thawed all the way through and adjust accordingly. I have found that adding cheese after reheating is better than freezing it on the sandwich.

I hope you are inspired to give it a try, let me know how it goes!

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TOOL OF THE WEEK: Can Openers

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In 1855 the first can openers made their appearance in England and 3 years later in the United States. It was not until 1925 that the second wheel was added that you see on can openers today. Growing up we had a beat up can opener that I think my mother still had when I got married. Can openers have come a long way since the 70’s and there may be new options that you would like to give a try.

1. How does it work?

All can openers use a blade to cut the lid off so as to get to the contents inside.

2. Is it multi purpose?

Some are equipped with a bottle opener as well. But generally this is a one trick pony piece of equipment.

3. How much does it cost?

Prices range from $5 for a cheap traditional version to $50 for a Cuisinart.


4. How do brands and features differ?

The butterfly versions means that the handles are pulled apart and then squeezed together as they open the can.

This is the heavy-duty one The Man bought that lasted a whopping 6 months. Lesson here, you can’t go by just appearances.

While the first electric model was invented in 1931, they were not successful until 1956. Electric models have the added feature of a magnet that will hold the lid to the can to prevent it from falling into the food or cutting yourself to remove it. As you never know how dirty the lid is, I always wipe mine off before opening.

A newer option is the type that cuts the lid off where it was originally glued during processing. These types of can openers eliminate the sharp edges altogether and the lids will not fall into the can. These are now available on electric models as well as the hand crank.

I purchased this from Pampered Chef not because o fhte style, but for the warranty.

Battery operated versons do the entire job for you. Push a button and it runs by itself.

A classic model developed during WWII is one you may have used while camping, it is perfect for placing in an emergency kit. It does require a little practice but it can’t be beat when you need to conserve space.

The church key was created to puncture holes in the can and is not commonly used today. They can be found attached to a butterfly opener for those who occasionally require one.

A very important consideration is how easily can you clean it. When I received an electric can opener as a wedding gift I loved it. Until I tipped it over one day and say the buildup around the blade. I pulled out an old toothbrush and started scrubbing but never was able to reach it all. Most models today have the top piece that is removable so you can access it much easier. It is something to remember to check for when choosing a can opener. Water leads to rust and so the dishwasher is a bad place to wash your can opener. It is best to rise it under the sink and wipe it dry. If you already have rust, brushing with vinegar might remove it.

This version lasted me for years, but it did develop rust.

5. How much space does it require?

Hand held varieties can go in the drawer but electric models generally need to sit on the counter. If you hate having the cord in the way, there are retractable cords available on some models. Other models are designed to hand under the cabinet so as to free up counter space.

6. Will I actually use it?

While some companies are moving towards the pull tab style of can that no longer needs a can opener, I have to say at some point you probably will need one if you plan on eating.

Arthritis and carpel tunnel make cooking a difficult task for many people. While the electric an opener makes some tasks easier, bottles are another story. Many companies have developed a variety of products to choose from.

The traditional can opener has a blade you rest on the lid and you must squeeze the handle while you crank a knob. I purchased one that lasted only a few years and you had to hold it just right to make it work. The Man got tired of it and spent about $20 on a new one that lasted maybe 6 months. Unfortunately you don’t know how well it will work until you buy it. So the key is to purchase one that has a warranty.

Use Your Smart Phone Shopping

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As smart phones become more common, companies are finding more ways for you to use them. The current rage for applications is for companies to not only advertise, but offer special deals to bring customers into the store. As the phone is a small computer, you know that it has limited memory and you need to be cautious before downloading just any old app. Even if it come recommended by a friend, always read the most recent reviews as sometimes update intended to fix a small issue or provide more service, end up causing major problem with the entire program.

My phone is an android but the app store has a lot of offerings for the iPhone as well.

Target has several options for your phone. You can select to receive daily deals, coupons and check the balance of your Red Card.

Safeway recently introduced an application that is receiving mixed reviews right now. While is has an overall high rating, the same complaint keeps appearing. I suggest keeping an eye on this app to see if the company continues to improve it.

The Coupons is an app that provides deals from a large variety of places. However, many are also available in their ads or if you sign up for their emails. I have yet to find a local deal for my small town, but can use many of the codes online.

Living Social has an app, but you can also request deals be emailed to you so you can access them via our phone without downloading the app. This is most beneficial if you live in a larger city.

If you use a lot of loyalty cards, this app is for you. Key Ring allows you to scan them into your phone so you can remove them from your key chain. The big issue is if your particular store has the ability to scan from your phone. I recommend keeping all the cards in a drawer till you know if they are accepted and in case you replace your phone, you still have access to them if needed.

If you have ever seen those funny boxes in ads or on store displays asking you to scan them, they are called QR Barcodes. Sometimes they have recipes or advice, and sometimes they are coupons.

You need to download an app that will allow the camera on the phone to scan it. Once you have scanned the code you will have access to the coupons it enables.

Warriors has one that gets mixed reviews. It seemed to me that most complaints were regarding the Galaxy and since that is what I have, I did not download it. All other phone users seemed to be quite happy with the app.

QR Droid has the best overall reviews at this time.

Starbucks has their own application that allows you to put in your card as well as track your stars. It also helps you to find a local store. The big plus is that your cards are already in the system if you use the online feature.

There is also My Coffee Card which has the added feature of a notepad. I like using this if I am taking orders, it allows me to keep it all in one place and for people I buy for frequently (who have complicated drinks) I saved the order. The FREE version only allows you to store a single card is the biggest drawback. To store more you must upgrade. Both apps help you find local stores.

If you know of some other great shopping apps for either the iPhone or Android, please share.

Watch for those Coupons

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I am often asked “Where do you get all your coupons?” Of course, I find them in a variety of places. One that can easily be overlooked is in the packaging of an item you have already purchased. Companies will place coupons there because they know you are already a current customer and they want to reward for and encourage you to purchase more. It is far cheaper to keep an existing customer then to find new ones. An additional bonus is that these coupons will last for much longer than the ones you clip from your local newspaper. Frequently companies will say something on the outside of the package about their being a coupon inside, but not always. Be careful when opening boxes and pouring out contents, you just might miss a really good deal.

Last week I was at Safeway and saw there were packages of Jello Pudding cups on clearance. I don’t typically buy them so Boo was quite excited to see them going into the cart. Each package was regularly $3.49 and was marked down 50%, making them $1.75 each. Take off the .60 coupon and I paid $1.25 each for a total of $3.75 out of pocket.

When I opened the package at home inside was another coupon for .75 off, good until the end of the year.

In addition, at the register I received a coupon for $2 off my next shopping trip, good on almost anything.

You will find some companies do this more than others, but the idea is to always be careful when ripping open a package and to do a quick check before throwing it in the recycle bin. What coupons have you recently found in your packaging?

Children Clinics

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Sometimes we just want to get the little ones out of the house to have some fun, but not spend a lot of money. Look for the businesses in your area to see what is available at a low cost and often, FREE.

Bass Pro Classes on the outdoors are offered year around and during the summer you have the opportunity for family camp.

Field Trip Factory
– Connects you to local opportunities of business that are open to field trips.

Home Depot One Saturday a month kids can receive a kit and put it together. They learn how to use wood glue, a hammer and nail and sometimes even a screw. The website updates what is coming so you can plan ahead if your child wants to do the kit. The store usually has the next several months displayed. Kids can receive an apron and with the completion of each kit, a pin to place on it. No reservation is required.

Joann Fabrics From demonstrations to birthday parties to classes, Joann’s offers a variety of ways to have fun sewing and crafting. Contact your local store for specific scheduals.

Lowes Twice a month kits are given to the children to put together. Kids also receive an apron but are awarded a patch and certificate with the completion of a kit. Reservations are taken online to ensure a kit is waiting for you.

Lakeshore Learning Every Saturday from 11 – 3 kids can make a free craft.

Michaels With a calendar full of events for kids to adults, there is always something to do at Micheals.

PGA TOUR Superstore If your child thinks they want to learn tennis or golf, this is a good place to start. They get starter lessons and you find out before puchasing all the equipment if they still want to learn the sport.

Don’t forget to contact locally owned craft stores, scrapbooking stores as well as stamping stores. Museums and aquariums often hold events just for kids as well. My local paper has a community calender on the second page that details events coming for the next 3 days. If you are on facebook, “like” the local businesses you shop at and frequently they will post when their store is doing something special. Enjoy your summer and if you know of any more great places to visit, please share.

Starting Your Back to School Shopping

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It is only the middle of July and I cannot believe I am thinking of school. I still have to pick Boo up from summer camp, plus we have fair and camping still to go before the school year starts. Yet, that is exactly why I start shopping early. I just won’t have time the 3 weeks before school to get much done.

Many stores are already starting their big sales for the year. The question becomes what do you buy and how much of it? My district does offer the classroom lists but to be quite honest, I have not picked one up in years. I found that I was purchasing items that my kids never used. And some teachers were just too darn picky IMO. If I go to buy a notebook and they don’t have green I don’t worry about it. After 15 years I have a pretty good idea of what to buy and I stick to that list and purchase extra of the supplies that need replacing over the year such as pencils and stick glue. I also buy items that go on the craft shelf, such as white school glue.

STAPLES has weekly sales, some of which are rock bottom prices. Keep in mind, that to get the items for only pennies, you need to spend a minimum of $5! This is a good time to purchase items you know you need anyways such as printer ink or reams of paper. This year you can also invest in a discount card for $10 that offers 15% off all purchases. This year it includes sale items and backpacks. It is only worth it is you are going to save more than $10! Today I spent $5.44, saving 80% off the regular price.

TARGET often has great deals and if you have been able to stock up on the gift cards from purchasing specific items, you basically are getting items for free.

WAL MART does not always have its weekly ad online. There should be copies in the store, but at my local store I cannot always count on that. They don’t do a lot of dramatic price reductions, so when the store does have extremely low prices I take advantage of it. For example, today I purchased spiral notebooks for $.17 each and the folders were $.15 apiece, for a grand total of $2.48. I brought home enough to last the year. I never know how many teachers will require them so I make sure to have extra. They all get used eventually. As my kids have moved up to middle and high school, they mainly use binders, so I have a few folders on hand only for specific projects.

To keep them in good condition , I store notebooks and folders in the file cabinet.

All the smaller items go into an old Schwan’s ice cream tin which is kept on top of the filing cabinet. The kids all know that when they need more of something they can just go grab it. Ultimately it only matters that you keep ALL your school supplies in 1 place so that you can easily find them when you are ready for the first day of school.

An important item is the school backpack. I have seen far too many Wal Mart bags that simply don’t last half the school year, I wont’ buy them ever again. It is the one item I am willing to invest in. Boo used the Jan Sport bag from Preschool through 4th grade. It did not need to be replaced, she just wanted a new bag. We have always been happy with Lands End as well as LL Bean. All 3 companies have excellent warranties and customer service.

Lands End is offering $20 off a $75 purchase through Monday, July 16th. Also if you use the promos code Code JULY and PIN 5230 you can receive free shipping on orders over $50.

What are the items that you usually include in your back to school shopping? If you find some good deals, please share with the rest of us. Each week I will update what I find and where so be sure to come back.

Corn in Foil Packets

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There is something about corn still being on the cob that is not only fun to eat, but it does taste better. Summer was not successful if we have not eaten it several times. This is a great way to grill your corn without having it charred. If cooking a large amount, all the prep work can not only be done in advance, but the kids can do it for you.

INGREDIENTS:

Corn on the Cob
Butter/Margarine
Salt/Seasoning
Heavy Duty Tin Foil

Shuck the corn, making sure to remove all the silk hairs. Depending on the size of the ears, rip off a piece of tin foil large enough to wrap around the corn completely and have a tight seal on the ends. Place the corn in the middle and cut a piece of butter to put on top. If you like to season your corn, now is the time to do it. My family likes a little salt, but I used some of my seasoning mix.

Salted

McCormick Seasoning

Pull the long ends together and fold them over until it is touching the corn. You don’t want a super tight fit, a little bit of room for the steam to move around is sufficient. Fold the ends up the same direction that you have your fold on top.

If you made a tight seal, the butter will stay inside until ready to eat. The times are for larger ears of corn. If using smaller ears check the corn 10 minutes early for the progress. The corn will be darker if ready to eat.

OVEN/COUNTER-TOP ROASTER
Preheat to 350 degrees, place you bundles on a baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

GRILL
Place over medium heat and cook 20 minutes. Do not place over a direct flame or you will have burnt corn.

I have baked 40+ ears of corn for my church’s annual summer picnic and it was a huge hit. To transport I filled a box with newspaper, placed in the corn, and covered with more newspaper. If doing this, the corn will continue to cook so remove it a few minutes early.

What I love about this technique is that each person has a little pouch for the corn to rest in it’s own butter and makes it easier to each at a potluck. If you want to get really fancy, use a flavored butter.

If planning to do this while camping, all the prep work can be done in advance and the corn just tossed onto the grill when you are ready to eat. Let me know how it goes!