Archives for January 2012

Hot Appetizers: Easy Solution to Keep Them HOT!

Hot Appetizers

Are you serving hot appetizers at your party?

What party? Any party.

Your Super Bowl party, your Academy Awards party, your I’m turning 40…again party.

Whatever the occasion, when it comes to serving hot appetizers the question always becomes: How do I keep them hot?

I’ve got a really inexpensive solution that uses re-purposed items that not only will keep your appetizers hot – they will look elegant as well. And this solution costs a LOT less than a chafing dish!

I went to our Habitat for Humanity Restore to get the supplies for this project. Here is what I bought:


Hot appetizers supplies

  • One 12 x 12 granite tile $3.00
  • One chandelier shade made of glass $2.00

Other supplies you’ll need that you probably have at home or can buy at a craft store:

  • Glass beads
  • Tealights

Since I already had the glass beads and tealights, I don’t have a cost for you. Under $5 is my bet. So your total out-of-pocket should be less than $10.

About the glass chandelier shade:

  • Select a shade with a scalloped bottom. Why? Your tealight will need oxygen to stay lit. Having a scalloped bottom helps.
  • A scalloped shade doesn’t allow the tealight ot get enough oxygen, so you need the glass beads.

Here is how to assemble your hot appetizer plate:

  • Attach the glass beads to the rim of the glass shade using an adhesive that will work on glass.

Attached Glass Beads

  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  • Warm the granite tile in the oven for 10 minutes.

Granite Tile in Oven

WARNING: Your tile will be HOT! Do not burn yourself!

  • Light the tealight and put under the glass chandelier shade.


  • Place the hot tile on top of the glass chandelier shade.
  • Add your hot appetizers.

Hot Appetizers

The tealight will keep your granite tile and appetizers smoking hot for the duration of your party! 

How to Cook and Freeze Organic Pinto Beans

How to Cook and Freeze Organic Pinto Beans

Here’s another great organic food money and time saver: cook and freeze pinto beans. This is a perfect meal starter for meals like chili, bean and cheese burritos, burrito bowls, refried bean pizza on homemade whole wheat crust… anywhere you use beans. This is by far the easiest recipe I’ve found, and in the video I show you just how much money you can save!

My favorite use for these beans? Burrito Bowls! Make up a batch for the Superbowl and use them to make your own burrito bowls. Guaranteed crowd pleaser!

If the video is not appearing in your window/email, please head here to view it.

What is your favorite way to eat pinto beans?

Free iPhone Apps to Manage Your Money

Are you looking to reform your finances in 2012? I’ve got a few FREE iPhone apps that can help you manage your money. Too bad all the can do is help you manage your money, not give you FREE money, huh? ūüėČ Free iPhone App Personal Finance ‚Äď manage your money, budgets, expenses and bills – Your bank, credit card, loans and investment accounts can now all be managed from your phone – not just your home computer. I love the fact that you can set up alarms in case your accounts get low!


Venmo means no one owes you money, and you won’t need to owe anyone!

So let’s say you are out to dinner with friends, roommates, or co-workers and it’s come time to split the bill. With Venmo there will are no more I.O.Us when the check comes! It is a free service that allows you to pay anyone in your contact list back for lunch, dinner, drinks, rent, groceries &/or tickets! Payments are secure and immediate and convenient! It also has tracking capabilities, so you know where your money goes. This one is available iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Money Strands

MoneyStrands allows you to track all of your accounts, set-up a budget, and log expenses and transactions as you go. The visuals are great and really allow you to see where your money is going!

Have you moved your finances onto your smart phone yet? Why/why not?

Peppermint Tea Recipe

My favorite peppermint tea recipe.
DIY Iced Peppermint Tea Recipe: You new favorite refreshing drink.

My mother was raised in the South, so iced tea runs in my blood.

Indeed, tea is a big part of our family culture.

Growing up I remember my mom asking us, “Do you know where I left my glass of tea?”

Now, I find myself asking my daughters, “Do you know where I left my glass of tea?”

I can’t wait for the moment they ask their own children to help them locate their glass of tea.

You see, not only am I a tea drinker, but I’m raising tea drinkers.

This peppermint tea recipe happens to be my favorite. I find the peppermint packs a flavorful punch, so very little sweetener is needed to make the perfect glass.

All you need are two ingredients: dried mint and sugar.

Here’s where I make my real food convert confession: I do use sugar in this recipe. Evil granulated sugar.

In my experience, it is the only sweetener that doesn’t separate. You can certainly replace that sugar with honey. After all, it is a less processed, generally agreed upon to be healthier ingredient. However, you may find yourself needing to stir it more often.

Now let’s put that one teaspoon in perspective: A can of Coke has over 9 teaspoons of sugar. We’re using one. And you are free to experiment with using even less. It’s your glass of tea.

DIY Iced Peppermint Tea Recipe: You new favorite refreshing drink.

The only other ingredient in this recipe is dried mint.

I grow my own mint in the summer and then I dry it.  However, I realize drying your own peppermint may not be your thing. If that is true, you can pick some up at the natural grocery store, or you can order dried peppermint in bulk.

Peppermint Tea Recipe

1 tsp dried peppermint
1 tsp sugar
8 oz boiling water

Add the peppermint and sugar to a measuring cup.
Pour 8 oz of boiling water over.
Allow to steep for 3 minutes.
Strain. Pour over ice to cool.
Adjust sweetener to your taste.

Iced Peppermint Tea Recipe

Whipping up your own iced peppermint tea recipe takes no time, and it only costs you five cents a serving!

My favorite time to drink a glass of peppermint tea is in the afternoon. I make a recipe in the morning, then I pour it over ice in an insulated cup. It’s ready to carry with me on my afternoon errands.

Does your family drink tea?

Pineapple Cinnamon Water Recipe

Oi. The price of fresh pineapple this year is killing me! I’ve had no choice, I’ve been using frozen pineapple in this recipe. However, the frozen pineapple doesn’t give off a lot of flavor until it thaws. So, this recipe is a good one to make the night before. And in the morning you will have such sweet water you will think you are drinking soda. Seriously. Again, there are only two ingredients. So whip up a batch before hitting the sack so you can sip the next day.

Pineapple Cinnamon Water

Pineapple Cinnamon Water

  • 1 C frozen pineapple
  • 1 to 2 Cinnamon sticks

Add frozen pinapple and cinnamon stick to a pitcher. Cover with 1/2 gallon of water and let the flavors infuse the water overnight.

Have you made either the Rainbow Citrus Water or the Cucumber Mint Water? What did you think? I had suggestions to add lemon and ginger to the cucumber mint water. Delicious.

Linked to Mommy Resource

Free iPhone Apps for Calorie Tracking

Eat Better App

Did your holidays include a new iPad or iPhone? Do you already have one? Every Friday I’m featuring FREE apps that you may find useful to help you with your New Year’s Resolution!

Looking to lose weight this year? I have two free apps you’ll want to download.

Download the FREE EatBetter app and it will calculate how many calories you are allotted, track what you eat, and calculats calories burned when you workout. It also helps you track the number of glasses of water you’ve consumed each day.

I’ve been using Eat Better for several days now. Apparently I eat WAY over the allotted calories for the day. The first day I used it, I discovered that by 10 AM I’d already eaten over half of my daily calories. Wowza.

The one feature with Eat Better I’m not crazy about is I can’t figure out how to delete an item once I’ve added it to my daily total. For example, this morning I added 1 Cup of peanuts instead of 1 Tablespoon. That was an extra 864 calories I couldn’t delete.¬† Other than that, its FREE! So I can’t really complain.
Calorie Counter by MyNetDiary

Or, you can try Calorie Counter by MyNetDiary. This app allows you to enter your personal information and set a weight goal to get your daily calorie total. It also has the added benefit of being able to scan barcodes to get a calorie count.

I tested this app as well. I found it very user friendly and it has several features, such as adding a custom recipe, that Eat Better doesn’t.

That said, I found I preferred Eat Better. It’s prettier. Seriously, that is that only reason.

Is losing weight one of your resolutions this year?

Cucumber Mint Water

Cucumber Mint Water
Week 2 of mission drink more water!¬† This recipe is pretty stinkin refreshing – and I’m not a cucumber fan. My oldest daughter loves cucumber, so between the two of us, this water disappears pretty fast.

Last week I mentioned why you might want to ditch the soda. This week I thought I’d share why more water:

  • Our bodies require water
  • Dehydration leads to headaches, fatigue and depression
  • Promotes weight loss

This recipe uses only two ingredients – making it really cheap. To make mine cheaper, I grow mint at home. It grows like a weed and it can handle the neglect of which I’m woefully guilty. And it can grow on a windowsill in the dim winter light just fine. That makes this recipe uber cheap. All you need to purchase is the cucumber. I like to remove the seeds from my cucumber. I dunno why. It just makes for one more step. It’s not necessary, so leave this step out if you choose.

Cucumber Mint Water

  • 1 small cucumber sliced
  • 3-4 mint leaves

Add cucumber and mint to a pitcher and cover with 1/2 gallon of water. Let steep for several hours and be sure to drink within a day or two.


Did you see last week’s recipe for Rainbow Citrus Water?

Cucumber Mint Water