Tag Archives: tips

The Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

Salt has always been a treasured ingredient. It brings preservation and taste! But now we have so many salt choices! When would you pick one over the other? Well, I can’t answer that question definitively but I can give you some basic guidelines to make the most of your ingredient and your money!


We are only going to talk about 3 basic salts. There are many, many types of salt but I am going to look at table salt, fine sea salt, and kosher salt.


First let us look at table salt. There are 2 basic types, iodized and non-iodized. We always have non-iodized salt but we don’t eat it. My husband uses it in his Neti Pot;). The reason salt is iodized is in order to help us get enough iodine in our diet. So we keep iodized table salt in the salt shaker on our table! It is the salt we grab when we need just a little more salt on that dish. That is basically all I use it for but never forget to have it!


Next we look at kosher salt. Kosher salt is not named such because it is kosher, just about all salts are, but because it is used in the process to kosherize meat. Kosher salt is larger than table salt so I don’t find it as good for just sprinkling on food but I always cook with it! It is perfect to add to dishes as you are cooking them. I find that is just gives you a better flavor than using table salt. Kosher salt is also great to make pastes, specifically garlic paste.


So last but not least in this journey is fine sea salt. I specify fine because there is rough sea salt that needs to be ground or is just really chunky on the tongue. Sea salt is a potent and delicate salt. What I mean by that is a little bit will go a long way but the flavor is delicate and more nuanced than table or kosher salt. One of my favorite uses is in popcorn! It sounds crazy to use such a “fancy” ingredient on something so pedestrian but it is great! I also use it as a finishing salt.  I like to sprinkle the top of mashed potatoes and on the top of grilled asparagus. I also like to use sea salt as the salt component in home made vinaigrettes and other dressings. Another crazy sounding delicious use is on chocolate! It is great!! Over all, I kind of look at it as I do extra virgin olive oil. Don’t use it where you won’t taste its very special flavor. So raw uses are the best.


So that is my little salt primer. What types of salt do you like to use and how?

(This post’s existence, but not the content, was originally sponsored when it was first printed in August of 2010. The reprint and update is just because;)

Keys to Successful Meal Planning

So Many Choices!

If you are here from my spot on Central Valley Today, welcome!

Food. It is a necessity and we spend so much time figuring out what we are eating, when, making it and that is not mentioning the numerous trips to the grocery store! Well, while eating is a must you can make all the rest just a little easier. I am a big believer in meal planning in all its forms and incarnations. You can just plan to actually have the stuff for 5 meals in your house or you can go the other way and plan every meal in detail for the next month. How you do it is up to you but there are some easy tips to consider that will start you on the right path!

Meal Planning Tips!
-Have a base list of meals your family loves. One night during dinner just sit down with a pad and ask everyone what their top 5 meals are. That is a great start!

-Take stock of what you already have (pantry, frig, freezer). Lets not waste money! Start with what you have and eat all those wonderful things you already bought! We don’t want to put money in the garbage!

-Anchor your week’s meals to the grocery ads. For example chicken breasts and London broil are on sale this week. We will be eating both this week! I also make my meal plan off the ad then make the grocery list.

-Try something new every couple of weeks. Variety is the spice of life! I made a new recipe last week (Gluten Free Spinach Fritters) and they were a hit. They will be on next week’s meal plan because we found an easy keeper!

-Plan meals that remake leftovers. I am making chicken tonight with roast potatoes. The leftovers will be in my gluten mac and cheese that I am making Thursday night. Uses the leftovers but with a little planning is an entirely unique meal.

-Take life and your schedule into account. I have crazy Wednesdays! Dinner can’t be late because we head out to church that evening. So you will notice that is often my crockpot night! This week we are having corned beef.

-It is ok to plan an eat out/order in night! NerdDad and I like our weekends to be pretty easy. So this pas weekend we had corned beef hash on Saturday and then we had the Outback brought in on Sunday. It was no stress or surprise because we usually plan on fast food/ordering in 1 night every weekend.



Meal Planning doesn’t have to be hard at all! It may take a few minutes but it is worth it. I really encourage you to put it down somewhere so you can look at it. You are more committed and frankly I can forget part way through the week;). I do my meal planning on my Cozi and on my website but you can do anything with it. There are also some great free printable planners out there from places like DonnaYoung, Family Fun, and Vertex42. You can even get magnetized meal planning pads for a dollar at Michaels and the Dollar Tree.

Use what makes you feel comfortable and just do it!!! Let me know what works for you and what doesn’t!

Healthy Breakfast on the Go!

Ok, this may be a little ghetto but a girl does what a girl has to do;). I need a real breakfast and it is hard to fit it in! I am blessed with a great husband who makes up oatmeal for all of us but I tend to run so close in the morning that I don’t have time to actually sit and eat. So often on Sundays and Tuesdays so what I have found works is just getting a plastic cup and putting oatmeal in it. And yes, I use disposable cups because when you get home do you really want to have to clean oatmeal that has been sitting for hours. Me neither;).

Then I eat it in the car. Hey, don’t judge me;).

Winter Entertaining

Here in Fresno it is pouring rain! So when you entertaining wouldn’t you like to serve something warm and comforting? You know, like soup or chili? Of course not! I mean bowls are hard to handle and spill easily, right? There are options!

I can’t be the only on who has a million mugs (each with a story;). That is a perfect way to serve soup or chili when you are entertaining a group! This isn’t the time to pull out your matching white mugs but it is perfect for your mix and match collection. That way everyone knows which mug is theirs! Then you have a handle to hold it and they are deep enough that you can keep a spoon securely!

This is a win!!

Easy and Affordable Entertaining

Super Bowl parties are always a lot of fun! We want to make sure that they are fun and easy for the host as well as the attenders! That comes for balancing both time and money! There are some easy ways to get the most out of your party pennies and your weekend.


1. Don’t make everything and don’t buy everything! Analyze what is a good investment of time to money! If the ingredients are expensive or the process time consuming then choose to buy that dish! A good example is tortilla chips. You can get a giant bag at Costco for less than $4! It would take you hours to make them and due to the process, they probably wouldn’t be as good;). But ministuffed red potatoes/potato skins are super cheap and easy to make! And refried beans are even cheaper and easier;).


2.Use you attendees for those items you don’t want to cook!!! I know that things like wings and breaded cheese sticks are very popular but they are hard to perfect at home. This is the perfect thing to ask someone to bring! You just mention that you saw a coupon last week (which I did;) and that would be an awesome contribution! Then they feel good because they get to bring something and don’t have to cook! Win/win!


3. Be honest!!! We all want to offer a variety of veggies but no one ever eats them! I love the look of the $10 veggie plate from Costco. But do you know how many times I have had left over broccoli that I have cooked for dinner or the tomatoes I later have to use in salads? Umm, just about every one;). Save yourself some money and buy a few pounds of baby carrots for a couple of dollars. Those will actually be eaten! And you don’t need celery unless you are serving wings or Bloody Mary’s;).


4. Themed food that all works together and can hang out all day is always a win! I tend to go with a Mexican theme.  Up to a few days before I will make a huge batch of beans in the crockpot. I will turn most of them into refried beans the day of. People are always impressed with homemade refried beans but it is so cheap and easy! Then the day of I put a big old cheap pork roast inthe crockpot with plenty of seasonings and make a batch of rice in my rice maker. I pair them with fresh corn tortillas from Vallarta (or any Mexican grocery), Costco tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce, limes and queso fresco. Then let everyone eat how they want! Some will have carnitas tacos, some will do nachos and so on. Everything will hold great all day!

5. An easy alcohol plan! We are not big drinkers so I always have ice tea and soda on hand even if we do have alcohol. Every party planner I have ever read says to focus on 1 signature mixed drink. For a Mexican theme you can always go with maragarita’s. You have the cocktail and the components so an industrious gues can make what ever they want out of the components;). And if you are beer drinkers have plenty of just 1 kind on hand. When you have to many drink choices it can be over whelming to figure out how much of what to buy;).

I wouldn’t shop for alcohol at the grocery store. I would hit Costco or Beverages and More. You can get on the BevMo frequent buyer plan an,d even if you are like me and only buy alcohol once a year, it adds up! Also you get emails so you know when your favorite brands are on sale. Extra win? They take manufaturer’s coupons!!!



6. Dessert is essential! It doesn’t have to be fancy but does need to exist! Have a batch of brownies or some cookies. Pair it with a bowl of candy and you are good.


And I have left my number 1 rule to the end….DON’T HAVE FOOD THAT YOU OR FAMILY WILL NOT EAT AS LEFTOVERS! No one wants to ever run out of food. So make sure you will eat the leftovers. Then when you are still recovering the next day there will be plenty to eat in the house!


Entertaining is really that easy!


A Chemical Free & Clean Microwave!

Ok this may seem silly and obvious but go with me;).

I really dislike a dirty microwave. And yet things tend to over flow
or explode in the microwave. Then it is miserable to clean…Well it
is if you don’t use my tricks;).

For a general griminess, take a wet sponge, pop it in the microwave
for 45 seconds. But for a more intense mess have no worries! Mix a
little baking soda with water. Then rub the paste on the walls of the
microwave. Then put a very wet sponge in the microwave for 1 minute.
It works even better if you can add lemon juice to the mix.

After you are done microwaving the sponge ( in both cases) just wipe it down!

Seeding a Pomegranate

As a child I was never allowed to eat pomegranates due to their staining. This is a super easy and effective way to seed a pomegranate. That means that you are left with beautiful arials that you can eat by the handful, juice, bake with or use in salads without any mess!

So how to you seed your pomegranates?

How to Cut Up a Mango

I was raised with mango being a flavor in prepared things like candy or yogurt, but never did my mom bring one home and cut it up. With a non-sale price of only 59 cents how is it that an ingredient can seem so fancy, so distant? It is because we didn’t know how to use it. Now that I know how to cut it up…the taste possibilities are endless.