Time Saving Meals

Here’s a quick link to some of my favorite time saving meals:

1. Healthy Eating While at Work
2. Bran Muffins
3. Slow Cooker Chicken
4. Freezer Friendly Meals
5. Rum Glazed Salmon
6. Slow Cooker Ham
7. Baked Cheese Cappelletti
8. Classic Macaroni Salad
9. Brown Sugar Meatloaf
10. Best Ever BBQ Hamburgers
11. Chicken Noodle Soup
12. Double Duty Cookies

Stay tuned, more to come!
What are some of your favorite time saving meals.

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Inexpensive Date Night Ideas

candle lit dinnerDo you feel like you’re in a dating slump with your special someone? Maybe you don’t have someone to look after your kids, or you find it too expensive to go out for an evening. If you’re anything like me, by the time I pay for a baby sitter, then the expense of dinner out, drinks then maybe a movie if you’re lucky? That’s a lot of money in my book… money I could spend elsewhere. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to spend quality time with my husband. AND I can totally appreciate having alone time outside the house. (Believe me, I totally can) Next time you feel like having some quality alone time with your honey, send him the link for this page so he can get some ideas at a fraction of the cost of heading out for the evening.

1. Have a romantic dinner for two. Feed the kids early, send them to bed or off to grandma and grandpa’s if you have the luxury. Spend the extra amount on a nice bottle of wine and good dinner. Even if you cook yourself steak with baked potatoes and a side of salad or vegetables, you’ll pay a fraction of the price of what you would pay in a restaurant. I promise you, dinner won’t cost more then $20 for both of you. Add a nice bottle of wine (here are some of my favorites), and you’re guaranteed to have a delicious dinner. Have you ever had chocolate eruption cake? You pay $7 each minimum. They are sooo easy to make. You’ll save so much money, your honey can definitely afford to buy you a bouquet of flowers. Buy some white candles if you don’t have some already (dollar/discount store) and dim the lights. Play some Michael Buble as background music, get out the wine glasses and cook together in the kitchen. You’ll have a wonderful evening together that doesn’t cost a fortune. You can even get dressed up fancy if you feel like going that extra mile.

2. Movie Night In. You can make this a special night if you put a bit of effort into it. Remember, you’re saving a lot of money by not going out to the movies. Last time I went to the movies with my husband, it cost us $50, not including the amount I paid my babysitter. Looking for something other than wine? Try some delicious Tequila Rose on the rocks with milk, or make some hot chocolates with Kahlua. If beer is your thing, have some nice frosted glasses in the freezer. Make a plate of nacho’s or make a big bowl of popcorn. Cuddle under a blanket on the couch and pretend like you’re back in high school again.

3. Let the Board Games Begin. My husband has recently purchased a few new board games that we love to plan after a long week at work. If we’re planning a evening together, I’ll try put together some of our favorite treats so we’re not pulled away from the game. I love to put together veggies and dip, or my layered nacho dip. Glass of wine for myself and a cold beer for my honey and we’re set for the night. Once the board game is purchased, you have many nights of free entertainment ahead of you. Our recent favorites? Smallworld and Katan (ever watch Big Bang Theory? “Got wood?” It’s similar to risk and a lot of fun. Once you get the hang of it, invite a couple of friends over to enjoy the evening with you.)

4. Wine and Cheese Tasting Party for Two. As I’m sure you figured, there is nothing I love more than a delicious bottle of wine. I love trying new wines, or grabbing a bottle of my favorite for a relaxing Friday evening after a long week at work. I recently had a wine tasting party and discovered how much I also love to pair wines with cheese (and chocolate). Do a bit of research and find a new bottle of wine you would like to try. Now find a cheese or food that pairs well with that wine. Sit with your honey and sip wine while you sample the cheese or food and talk about your week.

5. Picnic Time. Pack a basket with some gourmet sandwiches and other fun finger foods. Lay a blanket on the floor in the living room, start a good move or play some cards, and open your basket. You can even make s’mores over mini unscented tea lights.

Other date night ideas include:
6. Make homemade pizza’s for dinner
7. Spa night – give each other mini manicures, soak your feet and finally give each other back massages
8. Fondue Party. Make a cheese or chocolate fondue and start dipping
9. Eating in the Dark. Make a dinner and turn the lights out to eat your dinner. Not that adventurous? Blind found your date and feed the food to her/him.
10. 20 Questions. Have a list of questions each of you have to answer over dinner. Here is a list of ideas.

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Double Duty Cookies

How would you like to make two different cookies at the same time?

You can make a double batch of this cookie dough then switch up what you put in it.

Dough Mix
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats

To make White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies add:
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

To make Oatmeal Scotchies add:
1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips

Combine, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and the extra ingredients. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 1 – 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool

Oatmeal Scotchies

granola+bar+cookies

Recycle Your Fruits & Vegetables

green onionsLooking for a way to save a bit of money and time? If you find some fruits or vegetables turning soft on you in the fridge, chop them up, toss them in a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer. When you’re preparing a meal that requires these ingredients, you’ll have them all ready to go. You’ll have to test this on your vegetables, not all vegetables freeze nicely. I have used this trick on onions, peppers, beans and many different kinds of berries. If my strawberries are looking a little less then perfect, I just freeze them and use them to make smoothies or for my oatmeal in the morning. This also works for blueberries, peaches, raspberries. Berries are so expensive, I can’t stand to throw out money like that.

I particularly like to do this with green onions. I never seem to be able to use up an entire package of green onions. So I use what I need then I’ll chop up the rest and freeze for another day. Then when I’m making my homemade chicken soup or spinach dip, I already have the onions ready to go and I use what I need.

List of Favorite Wines Under $20

As you may notice, I have a thing for wines. I love trying new wines and trying to pair them with new and interesting foods. I don’t tend to spend many nights out on the town but I guess this is my way of enjoying the finer things in life without spending too much money. I will literally walk up and down the isles at the wine store and shameless harass the staff for their advice on the best new bottles of wine, preferrable under $20 a bottle. Some times I save them for a special date night with hubby, other times I’ll have a couple of girlfriends over and I let them choose from the stash. Of course this is a great list to pick from if you’re having a party. For me, buying a new bottle of wine to try is as satisfying as some ladies find buying a new pair of shoes. So far, this is a list of my top ten favorites.

redwine
1. Lindemans Pinot Noir or Merlot (red)
2. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (white)
3. Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz (red)
4. Senorio D Ruios (white)
5. Beaujolais Villages (white)
6. Yellow Tail Shiraz (red)
7. Open Riesling Gewurztraminer (white)
8. Wolf Blass (red or white)
9. Cupcake Chardonnay or Red Velvet (red or white)
10. Inniskillin Merlot (red)

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Healthy Eating While at Work

Trays of Veggies
Are you trying to eat healthy? Or maybe you just love your fresh vegetables and dip? I find it a lot of work to cut up vegetables every single night for my lunch so I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.
On Sunday night, I’ll fill a HUGE tuperware container with enough veggies to last till Wednesday. The size will all depend on how many veggies you honestly think you can eat and the storage capacity of the fridge at work. (of course if you don’t have a fridge at work, you can still make single serving sized containers in batches and store them in your fridge so you’re good for a couple of days)

375x250_veggies
My trays always start with lots of baby or chopped carrots. Then I reach for the celery. Grape sized tomatos are also a great addition and last a long time. Cucumbers were always a bit tricky, but I found small cucumbers and I don’t cut them. I keep a little paring knife (with a cover) at my desk at work and I can cut up my cucumbers as I eat them. This concept also works well for peppers. I’m able to buy baby-sized peppers by the bag and love the shelf life of these peppers as well. Broccoli and cauliflower also have a good shelf life of a few days once they are cut. I tend to stay away from mushrooms, or if I do put some in the container, I make sure to eat them all on the first day.
Of course you’re not limited to just these vegetables, if they last a couple of days, you’re good to go and this is a great way to stay motivated to eat healthy!
Buy a container of hummus for dip, or actual vegetable dip to bring to work with you and you’re all set! Bring on the 10:00 am munchies!

Find more time saving tips for preparing lunches here!

30 Questions

After reading an article from http://cherishinghopesanddreams.blogspot.ca/, I just had to share. This is a wonderful list of questions to ask yourself and your loved on. Maybe you’re just getting into a new relationship, (I wouldn’t ask all of these questions) but it would lead to an interesting evening of discussionn with your significant other. My suggestion? Pick 5 of your favorite questions, pour some glasses of wine and let the good conversation begin!
candle lit dinner
1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
7. What is your dream job, and why?
8. What are 5 passions you have?
9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
10. Describe your most embarrasing moment.
11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
28. What is your love language?
29. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

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