5/19/15

Neiman Marcus Dip

This amazing dip is known by several names, but what ever you call it I promise it will be gone before you know it!  With cripsy bacon, and flavorful cheddar cheese the remaining 3 ingredients just put this rich tasting dip into a race to get the last bite! Grab a cracker or corn chip and get going!


Neiman Marcus Dip
Ingredients:
5-6 green onions chopped
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped bacon (or 3 oz package real bacon bits)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Directions: 

  • Mix all ingredients together in  mixing bowl.
  • chill for 2-3 hours prior to serving.
  • Serve with crackers or corn chips.



5/17/15

Freezer Fruit Cocktail Mix

Saving those uneaten fruits from the trash is the easiest thing to do! Every so often you end up with 1 or 2 pieces of fruit that has gone uneaten but they are now past their prime. Many of us freeze mashed up bananas for baking, but what about all the other fruits?

Here is what I do with that 1 mandarin orange, or handful of berries: Keep a gallon sized freezer bag in the fridge for a last minute frozen fruit salad or for smoothies.

I prefer to flash freeze my fruit pieces first. This is when you lay the fruit pieces on baking sheets and put into freezer till each piece is individually frozen. Then place frozen fruit into a freezer container or bag and they won't clump together! You can grab out exactly the amount you need!

In todays bag I pulled from the freezer I have Mandarin oranges, Pineapple chunks and raspberries. But apples, mangos, kiwis,peaches, watermelons cantelopes, grapes, blueberries are all good too! You never know what I have in my freezer fruit bag!

Besides smoothies, I will make a quick fruit salad for a side dish.

fruit cocktail salad:
Makes 4 servings

Partially thaw 2 cups Frozen fruit mix in a serving bowl.
Pour 2 cups gingerale or lemon-lime soda over the fruit mix.

Jan's Tip: The Gingerale or Lemon-Lime Soda is a quick shortcut for a traditional sugar syrup that comes with canned fruit.

How do you use your frozen fruit?


5/12/15

Why you Saute/Brown Rice Before Cooking?

Have you ever wondered why those little boxes of  Rice mixes often have you sauteing or browning the rice in a skillet before cooking?

Well there is really a scientific reason for it!
WHY?
The short answer is: To keep it from overcooking and becoming mushy.
The longer answer is that by creating a sauted more hard crusty out shell on the rice, it helps slow down the water aborption during the cooking process and keeps it from becoming too mushy or gummy by over cooking.

HOW?
Sauteing suggestions: I usually use butter or olive oil, just a few tablespoons. in a skillet over medium heat. Heat 4-6 minutes, stirring very frequently,  just until rice begins to change color.

Proceed with the cooking directions on the rice recipe.

WHEN?
I like this for times when i am not just cooking up plain rice in a saucepan, but for recipes that use sauces or long cooking times such as:
crock pot cooking or casserole type dishes, such as Chicken and Rice.

Now you know!


Want to make your own Rice a Roni mix and save oodles of money and trust the ingredients? Here is my recipe for making your own!

Make Your Own Rice a Roni

5/10/15

Beginner Blogger Photography Tips

I am slowly coming along with my photography for my blogs. I still know absolutely nothing. But I do have people ask me about it, since they can see from my beginning posts till now a MUCH improved situation, although I truly have a super long way to go.

I do not profess any knowledge, just my own experience here from playing around with setttings, reading when I can from pros', and just trying, trying, trying.

I really need to take a digital photography class (there are so many online now too!) But until then I'll answer just a few questions for other beginner bloggers.

Q. Do you need a fancy camera?
A: NO! A simple point and shoot camera is fine, it has many settings on it that you may not know about. Read the manual that comes with and spend an afternoon playing with the settings. As you get better you may want a nicer camera, but you can do great photos in the mean time.

Q.What setting do you find most important?
A: Me personally? I find Aperture to be the most critical. Aperture is EVERYTHING in my opinion. Ok, let me rephrase that. LIGHTING is everything.

Again please all you skilled photographers, help us newbies out with some tips!



3 Ways I know to Improve Lighting!

Aperture: Let me share the definition straight from one of my favorite places to learn:
DigitalPhotographySchool.com

"What is Aperture?

Put most simply – Aperture is ‘the opening in the lens.’
When you hit the shutter release button of your camera a hole opens up that allows your cameras image sensor to catch a glimpse of the scene you’re wanting to capture. The aperture that you set impacts the size of that hole. The larger the hole the more light that gets in – the smaller the hole the less light."
Let me share an example:
The other evening after dark I was in my kitchen at my island.  Here are two photos taken at the same time:
The first photo is in my kitchen sitting directly under my flourescent light (daylight light bulbs)
at about 8 pm with my camera just on a simple point and shoot mode.


The second one is shot in the exact same spot with the exact same lighting. I just simple set my aperture setting higher to let in more light. No other settings or lighting were changed from the first.

Pockets of Light
LisaTarplee.com Is one of my favorite places to just see what she does. She is so generous with her insights and I love seeing her work: She shares: 
"A pocket of light is basically any light that peers through, or separates itself from the darkness.  Common places to keep an eye out for them are windows and rays coming through trees."
I have found that at certain times of the day I have several places right inside my house where the sun is creating a pocket of diffuse light. In my kitchen before noon, My kitchen window faces east so I need to wait till the sun is above the window and almost ready to go over to the other side of the house. THe other pocket is on my living room mantle near another window. Certain afternoon times  the lighting is pretty good.

Try to take advantages of little pockets of light:
This valentines shot was taken on a chair draped with a table cloth in front of my living room window. I only used a point and shoot mode and did not use aperture at all here. I realize a real photographer could point a million things out, but for me the beginner, I hope not too bad.

Light Box or Light Table: 
Source: Wikipedia
Whether you buy a light box kit or rig up your own (and there are quite a few DIY ideas out there) a light box will be your best friend when lighting isn't really great. (especially if you are like me and find yourself at 9 pm at night trying to do this.)

My hubby rigged up one for me by cutting out most of the sides of a cardboard box, just so it is mostly just a frame. then I drape a sheet over the box and line the inside with a white poster board. (which you can easily replace if food spills on it!
Then he bought me $3 clamp lights from the hardware store and I use daylight lightbulbs.  Mine looks almost like the one above.

WHAT ARE SOME OTHER GREAT TIPS FOR US BEGINNERS?
SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW!

5/5/15

Make Your Own Tea Bags with Coffee Filters

Using a simple coffee filter you can easily make your own tea bags in minutes. It makes a great gift at the holidays. I recently made some bathtub tea bags for Mothers Day. Let me show you how I make them. The same principal goes for making tea bags for drinking, just change up your tea ingredients!


Supplies:

coffee filters (1 for each tea bag)
scissors
stapler
Tea ingredients (I am using oatmeal and lavender for my bathtub tea bags)

Optional:
Twine
Tags for labels


Directions:

Open up coffee filter
Place tea contents in center.
I use about 2 Tablepsoons Oats and 1 Tablespoon Lavender each
Fold coffee filter in half.
With the folded edge in the palm of one  hand, cut a 1 to 1 1/2 inch strip off the opposite side.
(This will turn the coffee filter into a long rectangle.
Carefully place coffee filter on work surface and fold over the cut edge 2 times.
Place coffee filter on table so that the rolled over edge is now in the center, facing up.
Fold the bottom of tea bag to meet the top edge, folding the tea bag in half.
Fold over the new top edge of the tea bag 2x and staple to seal.
Tea bag is now ready to use
Optional.
You can attach a string and tag if desired also. Just staple the string near the first staple
Staple a simple tag  to opposite end of string.










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