Saturday, December 29, 2012

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion Review-The best lotion for dry skin!

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion...It's great for dry skin! I have combination skin on my face, but dry and sensitive skin everywhere else.  My dermatologist recommended Aveeno lotion.  My skin gets worse during the fall/winter months, when my hands are so dry, they crack and bleed (ugh!).  Just one use, and my skin doesn't feel dry anymore.  I can see and feel improvement in just one day.  I use it all over--especially on hands, arms, legs and feet. This is truly the best lotion for dry skin I have ever found!

Fragrance free, non-greasy, non-comedogenic, natural oatmeal product that helps soothe and moisturize dry, itchy, extra dry skin.

Costco sells the jumbo 20 oz. pump bottle that is not only convenient, but lasts a long time.  I think I'm going to try other Aveeno products...loved the two I already have...will keep you all posted.  :)

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub Review

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub-brightens your skin!

Dull, dry skin doesn't stand a chance against Aveeno's positively radiant daily scrub. I've always had skin issues since I was a teen, it has always been a battle with acne, then adult acne. As I've gotten older, I now have been blessed with sensitive skin, rosacea, and other issues that are common as we age. (Sigh!) My dermatologist recommended Aveeno products. I've been using Aveeno's daily moisturizing lotion (giant bottle at Costco, see my review on previous post) and it has done wonders for my skin! So...I decided to try Aveeno's daily scrub.

Soy extract, with round's soap free, oil-free, hypoallergenic, and contains Vitamin E. It's sensitive enough to use daily, but I usually use 2-3x/week or so as needed. I really feel like my skin is smoother, brighter, and more radiant!

Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner Review

Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner 

Could drug store make up really be as good as the ones in department stores? I've always been a MAC user, but I decided to try Revlon's eyeliner, and liked when I saw Maybelline's Unstoppable Eyeliner on sale at CVS--well, I had to give it a try too. I have to say, I was surprised how far drug store make up has come! It really is "unstoppable" too. It stays on without smudging, until I take it off. Love that! Regular priced at $7.39 at CVS, (cheaper at WalMart), and on sale for under $5 plus change--what a deal! These are Hawaii prices, so for those of you living elsewhere, it will be even cheaper for you. Lucky you!

Safe for sensitive eyes. Contact lens safe. Ophthalmologist-tested. Stays put all day; holds your look in place until you remove it. Glides on smoothly; easily lines and defines eyes. Self-sharpening; swivels up and down so point stays sharp. Comes in a variety of colors. Made in USA.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Revlon Color Stay Eyeliner Review

Revlon Color Stay Eyeliner

Could drug store make up really be as good as those sold in department stores?  I normally use MAC or Merle Norman eyeliner, but I came across Revlon Color Stay Eyeliner (it's waterproof too!) and I decided to give it a try.  I have to be honest...I absolutely love it!  It twists up, so it is always ready to use...and it comes in many colors.  I've been using it for over a month now, and it glides on easily and stays on all day long!  It's not super soft like MAC, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing-it won't run down as quick as a soft pencil.  The best part?  You can get it for $4.99-$7.00 (look for a sale at CVS, or get at WalMart or Target)!  These are Hawaii prices, so for those of you living elsewhere, you will be able to purchase it much cheaper.  At these prices, you can afford to buy two on sale, so you will never have that horrible moment of twisting up your eyeliner, and discovering you won't have enough to finish your other eye!  

Update 3/1/13: I've been using Revlon Color Stay Eyeliner for several months now and it is still my favorite eyeliner!  It stays put all day long, even in the hot and humid Hawaii weather! And...I love that I can swim, sweat, and be out all day long, and my eyeliner doesn't smear.  The best part? I can buy three of Revlon's Color Stay Eyeliner for the price of the one MAC eyeliner that I used to buy!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Simple and Easy Jack-o-lantern Carving

Want to create a jack-o-lantern that is more than two eyes and a mouth?  Well, now you can! It's so simple and easy to do your own pumpin carving.  Here's how:
1)  Find a template (any line drawing will do). Print out and tape onto pumpkin. 
2)  Poke holes with the end of a pin, or use the tools purchased with pumpkin carving set (like at WalMart).  Make sure not to move or lift up the paper from the pumpkin until you are confident the holes are large enough to see, and all parts of the picture are traced.
3)  Decide which portions you will cut away, and which you will leave as pumpkin skin to create your design.  Using your carving tools, (I find they work best, and are safest for kids to handle),  cut around the traced portions.
4)  Remove pumpkin skin and enough of the part underneath so light from a candle or battery-operated light will shine through.

How to keep your pumpkin fresh until Halloween:
1)  Carve your pumpkin as close to Halloween as possible.  Day prior, and day of is best.
2)  If possible, keep your pumpkin wrapped in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator.  You can also store pumpkin in a cooler with ice.  Just make sure to put plastic, and a towel between the ice and pumpkin.
3)  I've tried all the other suggestions of spraying/dunking in a bleach solution to reduce mold growth, but I've found they don't really work well.  And your pumpkin becomes shrivled.

I was going through Ellen's website--checking out the pumpkin carving photos...and saw the one (I had forgotten that I sent) we did last year!
Check it out here...

My eldest created the tokidoki cat, the twins made the Hello Kitty and Julius from Paul Frank.  (And Mom finished the twins pumpkins when they got "tired" of doing it.)

P.S.  I did a double-duty tip for Rachael Ray, which will appear in the show this Monday! :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Germs...Is your purse, phone, grocery cart making you sick?

Germs...Is your purse, phone, grocery cart making you sick?
Are you a germaphobe?  I have to admit that I am.  I always have antibacterial wipes and gel on hand--and I use them liberally...everywhere.  I never use the community pen at a store, and I clean my hands immediately after using those magnetic signing pens.   I try not to touch door knobs, elevator buttons, and I never hold the railing on a stair or escalator.

I've read many articles and television segments on the subject of germs--which probably makes me even more of a germaphobe.  But...since many share my love of antibacterial products, I've consolidated some of these tips:

1)  Your purse may carry A LOT of germs both on the inside, and outside.  Never put it on the floor of the bathroom (e coli...ick!), on the restroom sink, back of toilet, or anywhere you prepare food or eat (no counters or tables).  Don't put it on the restaurant floor, and try to hang up your purse when you can.  Make sure to wipe it down with a cleaner and clean both the inside and outside frequently.  Tests have found over 1,000 germs on women's purses!  Oh yeah, also think about where your purse goes--your car seat, desk, table, bed, home floor.  Now I have a set place my purse sits.  And I set it down on something too. 

2)  Okay...this just goes without saying.  Never...ever...put your shopping bags in those same places that you now will never put your purse.  Where does the bottom of your Macy's Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, WalMart bags end up?  Ick!  (P.S.  I never put grocery bags on my counter when I get home either.  See below for thoughts on grocery carts.)

3)  Over 25% of cell phones have e coli bacteria on them.  Ewww!  So think about where you place your phone (restaurant table, sink area, desk, etc.)...and clean your phone often.  You will think of this, (wonder where their phone has been), the next time you borrow someone's phone. 

4)  Grocery carts are one of the WORST and most common places to find germs.  Stores rarely clean them, think about all the meat juices that leak out on them, people actually put their kids in diapers in these dirty carts.  Knowing this, you can imagine the amount of e coli and staph found in these carts.  (Another place your purse should NEVER be placed in.)
   After buying your food, they put them in grocery bags (or your reusable bag--see earlier post about this too)...then you put the bag back in the dirty cart.  It then goes in your trunk, and to your home.  Remember this when you put your grocery bags down.  Think about where it has been.  Ewww! now you may be a bit more neurotic about germs...join my club!  :)

These are just a few of the articles I've reviewed, but there are so many more...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Randy Pausch quotes and life lessons

Randy Pausch quotes and life lessons...if you are having a bad day, you need to read this!
These are some of my favorite quotes from Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture."  You will understand them, and it will mean more after you watch the video.  (Watch it!  Trust me, the hour goes by quickly.  You will laugh...and be moved.)

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

 “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

 “When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.”
Randy Pausch

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

  “It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life, ... If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

 “If I only had three words of advice, they would be, Tell the Truth. If got three more words, I'd add, all the time.”
Randy Pausch

 “When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you.”
Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch-ABC News Special with Diane Sawyer

Randy Pausch-ABC News Special with Diane Sawyer
After you watch "The Last Lecture," take another hour to watch this ABC News Special with Diane Sawyer.  You'll learn more about Randy Pausch, his wife Jai, his family and what happened after the "The Last Lecture" changed people's lives.

Randy Pausch-The Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Randy Pausch-The Last Lecture
If you ever feel like you're having a bad day, week, month, this video and in just one hour, you will feel better, appreciate all that you have.  Appreciate life.

Someone introduced me to "The Last Lecture" about four years ago, and if you haven't seen this inspirational "lecture," I highly recommend you take an hour to watch it.  If you have seen this video before, like any great piece of's worthy of another view.

Randy Pausch was a computer science and human computer interaction and design professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  "The Last Lecture" was an annual event at Carnegie Mellon, which professors would contemplate if they were given only 6 months to live, what would you say, what would you do, how would you live that life?  Unfortunately, for Randy, this was his reality, as he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was given 3-6 months of good health to live.  His lecture was captured on video and downloaded over 15 Millions times since then.

"The Last Lecture" was moving...inspirational...funny...a must-see for all!  (Note: Have lots of Kleenex on hand!)

Link to youtube:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Maximize your closet space!

close up view
maximize space!
Great tip to maximize your closet space!
I got this great tip from a professional organizer featured on the Rachael Ray Show.  Not only does it maximize your closet space, but it is a great "reuse" of the soda/juice/beer tabs!

Supermarket gross outs...and keeping your reusable shopping bags clean

This was a bit gross...but with the upcoming new Hawaii law banning plastic bags...this is something to keep in mind.  In this episode, Dr. Oz had a woman bring her reusable bags in for a bacteria test.  He said a "good" number would be under 80.  Her bag tested at 1,252!  Ick!  See below for his suggestions to keep your family safe
The grocery store is the WORST place for germs.  I often wipe the outside of my milk with soap and water, and keep meats in a bag while storing in the fridge. And...I can't say enough about washing vegetables, and having separate cutting boards for meats, vegetables, breads, etc.  Also, don't forget to wash your cutting boards often in the dishwasher on hot.  Lastly, I always use wipes to "wash" my hands after leaving the supermarket or Costco.  Do it once, look at the wipe, and you will gross out!

Supermarket Secret 9: Keep Your Environmentally Friendly Bags Clean
Using reusable shopping bags is a great way to help save our planet, but you need to keep them clean to avoid risking your family’s well-being. Bags used over and over again risk contamination from disease-causing bacteria, thanks to the various dairy, meat, and produce they’re exposed to over the weeks. Keep your groceries safe and free from contamination by cleaning your bags after every 10 trips to the market. For a cloth bag, just throw it in the laundry like your clothes. Wipe plastic bags down using a bleach spray.

Reusable bags prevent millions of paper and plastic bags from piling up in landfills and our oceans. They can even get you discounts or extra reward points at certain supermarkets, so keep them clean and use them every time you visit your supermarket! 

Click on this link to see the article from Dr. Oz:

Supermarket Secret: Avoid shopping on Mondays

Saw this on Dr. Oz, and thought to pass along to you all...I often shop on the weekends too, and though it is often the most convenient time to grocery shop, knowing food deliveries don't usually happen on the weekends....makes me go....hmmm.

Supermarket Secret 6: Avoid Mondays
For many people, Mondays bring the stress of a new work or school week. It’s also the worst day to visit the supermarket. Usually, supermarket suppliers make deliveries once or twice during the week, dropping off fresh produce, meat, and fish during those trips. These deliveries don’t usually happen on the weekends, meaning the stuff you’re buying on Mondays has likely been sitting around for several days. The best day to shop is Wednesday, when shelves are fully stocked with fresh products.

Check out Dr. Oz website for this tip and more information:

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Get the freshest bread!

How to choose the freshest bread at your grocery store?
Some bread have an expiration/sell by date on it, but if it doesn't, how do you know how fresh it is?  Wouldn't it be great to know when it was delivered to the store?  Well now you can!  My aunty told me about this years ago, but it is a good tip, and worthy of repeating...

Just look at those twist ties on the bread.  They will tell you the day of the week that the bread arrived in the store.  (It's also universal across all bread manufacturers and stores.)

Blue = Monday
Green = Tuesday
Red = Wednesday
White = Thursday
Yellow = Friday

If you can't remember, the colors of the twist ties are in alpha order.

Don't forget...freezing bread saves you time and money.  Whatever you don't think you will use before the expiration date can be put in the freezer.  Simply pop in the microwave on the defrost setting for 20-25 seconds...and voila!  Bread is soft, just like the day you bought it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blueberry Mochi Recipe--easy, quick to make, and so yummy!

Blueberry Mochi

Blueberry Mochi Recipe
I love all sorts of mochi...but for those of us that are less traditional, this Blueberry Mochi will be a hit!  The part I like best is it is made in one mixing bowl, one pan-quick to make, easy clean up!

1 box mochiko (16 oz)
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 can blueberry pie filling

Stir sugar in melted butter.  Add milk and mix well. Add eggs and mix.  Stir in baking powder, mochiko and vanilla.  Pour into 9x13" pan. Using a spoon, drop the blueberry pie filling onto the batter.   Use a butter knife, swirl to create a marbelized look.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Cut into squares.

Lemon Bars Recipe--yummy and easy to make!

Lemon Bars
Lemon Bars Recipe

Light, tasty, and so easy to make!  These lemon bars will be a hit with any crowd!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cold butter or margarine
Combine flour and powdered sugar; cut in butter until crumbly.  Press onto bottom of lightly greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup lemon juice
While crust is baking, combine topping ingredients and mix well. Pour over baked crust (crust need not be cool) and return to oven.  Bake 20-25 min or until light brown.  Don't overbake.  Cool. Cut into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Microwavable Peanut Butter Mochi Strawberry Mochi Recipe--yummy and easy!

Peanut Butter mochi, Strawberry mochi
If you're a traditionalist, don't bother reading further.  If you don't have time, or baking isn't your "thing," then this recipe is for you.  My girls said it tastes just like the popular Hawaii Two Ladies Kitchen and Nisshodo.  I don't know if I'd go that far, but it was pretty good...for my first attempt at making mochi (well, at least for microwavable mochi)

Microwavable Peanut Butter Mochi or Strawberry Mochi Recipe
1 1/2 cups mochiko
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. vanilla (optional)
peanut butter, or strawberry
Katakuriko or cornstarch

Mix mochiko, sugar and water until smooth.  Pour into slightly oiled microwave tube pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 6-8 min.  Turn over on plastic cutting board covered with katakuriko or cornstarch. Cut mochi into 12 wedges.  Coat hand with katakuriko or cornstarch and and flatten mochi.  Place a teaspoon of peanut butter, or strawberry, in center of mochi and bring edges together and pinch to close.

Note:  If you use fresh strawberry, cut mochi into 8 wedges.
I microwaved mochi for 8 min on high and it came out a little overdone.  Next time I'm going to do 6-7 min.  Cooking time will depend on your microwave.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Goma Tei Ramen Review--love the tan tan!

Vegetable Tan Tan Ramen
Goma Tei Ramen Review
I've been going to this place when the owner was at Goma Ichi.  The owner left to open two restaurants, the first at Ward Centre (the old Borders side), the second at Ala Moana (ocean side).  Goma Tei is known for their special tan tan menu--which is a spicy broth of sesame seeds, vegetables, slow-cooked for 24 hours to create a rich and flavorful broth!  I always order the vegetable tan tan ramen (see pic above), but they also have chicken katsu tan tan, char siu tan tan.  They are also famous for their cold noodle, curry, ban ban ji chicken, and gyoza.  Yes, they also have the traditional shoyu ramen too.  There is something for everyone...yum!!!

Don't spend a lot of dough on bread

Costco Bread-buy it and freeze what you won't use right away
When did bread get to be so expensive? I've tried all the different brands--but unless it is on sale...$5 for a loaf?  Really?!? If your favorite brand isn't on sale at your store, if you're like me, you're at Costco on a weekly basis.  The Watanabe bakery bread is available in a huge loaf for $4.55 (wheat) and $4.29 (white).  The loaf is double the amount you will get at Times, Longs, Don Quijote for about the same price.

My family will generally consume nearly the whole loaf by the expiration date, but if they don't, it can be frozen.  Yeah, I know...I'm not big on freezing food either...but I've done it, and honestly, after it thaws, (microwave on defrost setting for 20 seconds) it's soft again.  I've also used it for bread crumbs, to put in hamburgers, meatloaf, and to mix with panko for breading.
Note: I've often seen 3-4 different dates on various packages, so look carefully.  Dates may vary up to 5 days!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lemon Shrimp and Spinach Pasta Recipe

Lemon Shrimp and Spinach pasta
Both Rachael Ray and Giada have done their versions of this pasta.  I did my own--sort of a cross between both of theirs, and I added spinach for flavor and a burst of color.  It's easy, uses many of the ingredients you already have in your kitchen, and quick to make.

Lemon Shrimp and Spinach Pasta Recipe

Pasta (I use one box of whatever I have, spaghetti, fettucine, penne, etc.)
2 Lemons (use both zest and juice)
Spinach (fresh or frozen, or any other vegetable like broccoli, eggplant, peppers)
Garlic, 4 cloves
Shallots or onion
Black pepper
Cream or Milk (optional)
Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta separately.  Reserve 1 cup of starchy cooking water.  Saute garlic, shallots/onions in EVOO.  Toss Shrimp and Spinach along with remaining ingredients, cook until shrimp is pink.  Combine pasta with Shrimp/Spinach, add 1/2 cup parmesan reggiano, combine well.  Top with more parmesan reggiano to serve.

Serves 4-6; 5 min. prep, 15 min. cooking time

Note:  This isn't the best picture, but I had to hurry and take the picture as hungry kids stood over me waiting anxiously with plates in hand. 

Kill Nutsedge (Nut Grass) dead with Ortho Image

Some call it Nut Grass.  Those horrible weeds that connect via root systems and literally, can take over your entire lawn if you let it.  I found the ONLY thing that kills the plant/flower AND the root system.  In about 7-10 days after spraying, it turns yellow/brown and dies.  Yes, new ones from other systems grow, but with consistent application, your yard will return in time to its glory.

This magical nutsedge killer is by Ortho, IMAGE.  You can find it in the spray bottle, or concentrate form.  It's sold all over--Home Depot, Lowe's, WalMart.  WalMart is the cheapest and they usually have it in stock.

Note: In between applying herbicide to your yard, you also need to fertilize your grass.  I usually let my grass grow a bit so I can see the nutsedge easily, to aid in application of the herbicide.  After the nutsedge dies, I (okay, my yard guy) cut my grass and my lawn is pretty again!

I also found a great analogy on one of those lawn&garden sites...grass needs fertilization and constant cutting to keep it beautiful.  The strength is in the root, so when you cut your grass, it's like giving your hair a trim.  Weeds get their strength from the top, so when you keep your grass trim, it's like chopping off the head of your weed.  Whatever the case, herbicide, fertilize, and trimming grass...your lawn will be ready for summer barbecues and parties!  (Don't forget to invite me!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Microplane Grater-the best grater ever!

This grater from Microplane is absolutely another kitchen tool I use almost every day.  It grates garlic, ginger, lemon, name it!  I used to use a box grater, but honestly, who has space to put that in their kitchen?!? This goes right in your kitchen drawer, or in your cooking tool container.  It also cleans up easily too.  There are so many sizes and different collections to choose from.

Interesting note: Microplane started out making woodworking tools (that resemble this grater and more) in 1990, then 10 years later branched out to make kitchen tools and foot files.  (It sort of looks like the Ped Egg, doesn't it?)  Get won't regret it!

Bath and Body Works soap--new spring fragrances!

I love Bath and Body Works!  Soaps, lotions, shampoos, hand name it, I have it.  Good news! They came out with new spring fragrances.  I have some of my favorites displayed in photo above, but there were too many to show.  I love the peach bellini, fresh picked peaches, fresh picked strawberries and fresh picked tangerines for the kitchen.  Love the vanilla berry sorbet, apple lavender for the bathrooms.  My favorite of my favorites (my girls love it too!) is the wildberry dahlia scent.  Oh, and for those of you that love the scent of Hollister, the new pacific blue will be right up your alley! 

Tip: They always have the 4 for $15 or 6 for $20 offers, but be on the lookout for the 7 for $20 offer, or even better--get it when they have the coupon for $10 off purchase of $30 or can get one for as low as $2.22 each!

Maybelline Colossal Volume Express Mascara-lengthen your lashes!!

I've never had those long and dark eyelashes like my girls do (they got it from their dad)...and as I get older, it has become even sparser.  I've heard of Latisse, but with all that I'm allergic to--I'm not willing to take that chance.  

I've tried so many mascara brands--from the popular pink/green tube, to expensive department store ones.  Some were pretty good, and I've used them for years.  Until now.  

My niece turned me on to this mascara--The Colossal Volume Express by Maybelline.  It comes in regular or waterproof.  You can't miss the obnoxious bright yellow tube in the equally eye-catching purple packaging.   If you use the waterproof version, it really stays put until you take it off.  Even through tears, sweating, swimming.  It opens up your eyes, and helps on those days that you look "tired." And don't we all need some help there, right? ;)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Wire wall rack--wish I had this in my closet!

I found this wire wall rack mounted on the wall of the dressing room at Nordstrom.  It's sturdy, and held so many clothes!  I wish I had this in my closet--talk about maximizing space!  Hmmm...maybe I can find something that would work at Home Depot?  Or maybe I could just mount my Williams Sonoma cookie cooling rack?  (Looks and feels like my cookie rack.)  Just kidding...I'm not that desperate.  Not Yet.  :) 

Garlic peas, Wasabi peas-a tasty snack!

Love this snack...garlic peas!  Yummy, wrapped in small size packages, and even the kids love it! Wish I knew the brand name, but I can't read the writing, so look for the packaging.  I've found them at CVS, Don Quijote and Marukai.  Easy to carry in pocket, purse, or for school snacks.  Also comes in wasabi green peas flavor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stainless Steel Cleaner--quick and easy!

I love stainless steel refrigerator and appliances--love the look, but hate the fingerprints and smudges that inevitably end up all over it.  Well, I found a liquid cleaner that is super easy to apply, and takes those fingerprints and smudges away quickly! 

It's by ELCO.  I got mine at Sears.  I can't remember how much it cost, but it wasn't that much.  Super easy to use--just put a little on a cloth (I use paper towels),wipe on...then get a dry cloth/towel and wipe off.  Easy!  It also removes dirt and grease, and helps prevent fingerprints.  If you have stainless steel...this is a must-get!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tiger sports water bottle-best ever!!

Cold and refreshing water on the go!
Dry skin? Headaches? Tired? Want to lose weight? Seems the answer is always, "drink more water!" (It's like how "stress" seems to be the cause of many health issues...but that's another post.)  Okay...I drink water...and I think I drink a lot of it--but I get busy, drink half of a cup, forget about the cup, so I use another cup...and over the course of the day, I really don't know how much water I've consumed.  Plus, I hate it when the ice melts and the condensation goes all over the place.  Then I have to dump out the cup, and start all over again.  Too...much...effort. 
I found an awesome sports bottle that will keep your water (or drink) cold all day long.  (Seriously, maybe well into the evening too!)

It's the Tiger brand sports bottle.  It has a pop-top lid, with lock closure.  It even comes with a holder with strap!  I bought the 1.0 liter size, but there are smaller versions too.  Now, I always have cold water ready to drink, and I can keep track of how much water I'm consuming throughout the day!

Note: Tiger makes a 2-way version, that comes with a cup on top.  I didn't buy that one because it wasn't as convenient to drink from the bottle.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easy Chicken Pesto Recipe

Chicken pesto

I'm always looking for a quick, simple, and tasty chicken recipe.  Here's a recipe that is super easy, is yummy, and people will think you worked harder than you did!

Easy Chicken Pesto Recipe
Chicken breasts
Pesto sauce (1/2 cup for 4 chicken breasts, increase accordingly with more chicken)
Mozzarella or provolone cheese
Fresh mushrooms
Pepper to taste

Flatten chicken, brown chicken*.  Top with pesto, cheese and mushrooms.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 min. until juices run clear.
*If you are short on time, you can pan fry the chicken in a little EVOO, top with remaining ingredients and cook until juices run clear.  I've done it this way when I needed dinner on the table quickly. 

Note:  You can make your own pesto sauce, but I'm always in a rush and fresh basil is rarely on hand, so I often use the Kirkland (Costco) Pesto in the jar.  I also use provolone cheese from Costco.  There's a lot in the pack, but it has a long shelf date, and I also use in other dishes (look for these recipes to come), and top my burgers with it too.  Note my tip for keeping mushrooms fresh, as well as chicken breast tip in previous post under "Kitchen and Cooking."

Chicken Pesto Penne Recipe

This dish is quick, easy, yummy, and will help you use the rest of the Pesto sauce you have.

Chicken Pesto Penne Recipe
3-4      cloves garlic, chopped
1/2      Onion, chopped
            Fresh mushrooms
            Chicken breasts
1/2 c.  Pesto sauce
            Penne pasta, cook separately. Reserve about 1-2 c. starchy cooking water
            Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (may substitute peccorino romano cheese)

Brown garlic and onion in extra virgin olive oil.   Add chicken. 
When chicken is almost done, add mushrooms.  Combine remaining ingredients.  Add starchy cooking water to help ingredients stick to pasta.  Top with parmesan reggiano cheese. If you wish, you can add red pepper flakes, chopped parsley for garnish.

Note:  You can change it up by substituting shrimp, chicken sausage.  You can also also add other vegetables like bell peppers (I like red, orange, yellow), asparagus, broccoli, etc.
I buy parmesan-reggiano cheese from Costco, as I use it in many dishes (more easy recipes to come).
(Photo shown is chicken sausage pesto penne)

Slow Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs Recipe

Ribs have never been so simple, and tasty!

Slow Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs Recipe
3-4 lbs.    Pork or Beef Ribs (remove membrane)
                  Bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's or Bull's Eye)
1                Onion, quartered
                  Salt and Pepper
                  Garlic (I use Granulated Garlic powder)

Lay onion on bottom of slow cooker.  Top with Ribs.  Add salt, pepper and garlic.  Top with 1/2 bottle of BBQ sauce.  Cook on high for 5 hours, low for 7 hours.   Remove from slow cooker, finish on grill or in oven at 325-350 for 20 minutes.  Baste with sauce.  Top with sauce before serving.

Note:  I use slow cooker liners for easy clean up.  I've also used my BBQ sauce recipe (see earlier post) with tasty results.  You don't have to finish on the grill or oven, but I like the crust that forms by doing so.  You can serve straight from the slow cooker, but make sure to top with extra sauce as much of the sauce mixes and washes off with the oil from the ribs.

Tip: Roll aluminum foil into balls, place on bottom of slow cooker so oil from ribs will fall to bottom and your ribs won't sit in oil while cooking.

Slow Cooker Easy Beef Stew Recipe

I like this recipe because it involves very little prep, many of the ingredients you probably have in your kitchen, and its quick, simple, and tasty.  Leave and it!!  I will post a picture soon, but every time I make this stew, my family eats it too quickly to get a photo!

Slow-Cooker Easy Beef Stew

3-4 lbs Stew cut beef, seasoned well with salt and pepper
1          Onion, quartered
3          Large Carrots, cut in half
3          Large Potatoes, cut in thirds
3          Celery stalks, cut in half
1          Onion soup packet*
1 can   Mushroom soup*
1/4 c.  Milk*
½ can  Beef broth (may substitute chicken broth)

After seasoning beef, lightly toss in flour.
Add onion, meat and vegetables to the slow-cooker. 
Combine soup packet and can of mushroom soup.  Add to pot.
Cook on high for 5-5.5 hours or low for 8 hours.

*Other variations:
Variation A:
1 can tomato paste
1 can brown sugar (use the tomato paste can)
1 can shoyu (soy sauce)
½ can beef broth

Variation B:
1 packet aus jus seasoning
1 packet Good Seasoning salad dressing
1 can Beef Broth

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Noodles Recipe-quick, easy and tasty!

This is yummy, easy, and uses ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.  You can use any protein (I've made with chicken, shrimp), or do with other vegetables. 

Peanut Butter Noodles Recipe
1/2 c.            Chicken broth
1 1/2 Tbsp.   Ginger, minced
3 Tbsp.         Shoyu (soy sauce)
3 Tbsp.         Peanut butter
1 1/2 Tbsp.   Honey
2 tsp.            Chili oil
3 cloves        Garlic, minced
1                    Red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 c.            Green onion (optional)
1/4 c.            Chopped peanuts

Combine ingredients.
If you are using protein, stir fry in oil and garlic--add sauce and finish cooking.  Serve hot over noodles.

Maple Garden's Eggplant with Hot Garlic Sauce Recipe

This recipe is quick, easy, and you can substitute different vegetables and protein with good results.
I always triple, or quadruple the recipe as the sauce cooks down, and my family likes a lot of sauce.

Maple Garden's Eggplant with Hot Garlic Sauce Recipe
1  tsp.            Minced ginger
1  tsp.            Minced garlic
1  tsp.            Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp.   Shoyu (soy sauce)
1  tsp.            White vinegar
1  tsp.            Minced fresh red chili pepper or 1/4 tsp. dried chili pepper flakes
1  tsp.            Cornstarch
1/2-3/4 lb.     Eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" long strips
1/2 c.             Pork, cut into strips
                      Oil for stir frying

In a small bowl, mix together ginger, garlic, shoyu, sugar, vinegar, chili pepper and cornstarch.  Set aside.  Heat oil in frying pan or wok until hot.  Add eggplant and fry until the pulp is brown, but not burnt..  Place eggplant between paper towels and lightly press down to extract excess oil.  Add pork to pan and fry about 1 minute, until pork is cooked.  Remove pork and drain oil.  Heat sauce in pan until near boiling, add eggplant and pork.  Mix together until thoroughly heated.  Serve hot with rice.

Note: I also make using chicken, shrimp (or together).  If you don't have eggplant, you can use other vegetables like red, green, yellow bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, celery, etc.

Neely's BBQ Sauce Recipe (adapted by San)

This sauce is tasty, uses ingredients you have in the kitchen, and is easy to make.  I always double the recipe to ensure I have extra for dipping (and drenching)!

Neely's BBQ Sauce Recipe (adapted by San)

2 c.           Ketchup
1 c.           Water
2 Tbsp.    Onion*  (can also use 1/2 Tbsp. onion powder)
1/2 c.       Cider vinegar (if I don't have, I use white vinegar)
8 Tbsp.    Brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp. Pepper
1/2 Tbsp. Ground mustard
1 Tbsp.     Lemon juice
1 Tbsp.    Worcestershire sauce
                 Red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients, bring to boil, simmer for 1 hr. 15 min, stirring frequently.
*Brown onions prior to adding remainder of ingredients.
Note: First time I made this sauce, I cooked the entire 1 hr. 15 min. time.  Then I got lazy and did for 20-30 min.  I couldn't tell the difference.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Eggs--how to tell hard-boiled from raw

This happened this past Easter, but if you ever find yourself wondering whether the egg is hard-boiled or raw, here's how to tell the difference:

1)   Turn the egg on its side.  Lay on a hard surface like the counter or cutting board.
2)   Using your index finger and thumb, spin the egg.
3)   If the egg spin quickly and evenly, it is cooked.  If it spins slower and wobbles a bit, it is raw.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Manoa lettuce and Sweet Basil grows again!

This isn't a tip...but WTH?!? The girls and I planted some vegetables and herbs a couple years ago, harvested the manoa lettuce, and in a short period of time, killed the sweet basil.  Well, I was out in my yard this afternoon weeding (No, this isn't the "WTH" part), and we noticed the manoa lettuce and sweet basil had grown again!  No joke!  I swear it was just dirt in the planter for two years with no sign of life.  It actually looks pretty good and almost ready to harvest.  Has anyone ever heard of this?  Can roots and seeds remain dormant and sprout/grow two years later?

Update 4/16: Posted photo. Lettuce looked much nicer before the twins "weeded" between the lettuce yesterday.  Can't see well in photo, but there are three manoa lettuce in right planter and basil and one lettuce in left planter.

Update 3/13: I read in several articles that plants and seeds can hibernate and will grow later when soil, weather and other conditions are conducive to growth.  I get this...but growth after two years? Wow!

How to keep cut apples from browning

I've tried all the suggested ways to keep cut apples from turning brown--from squeezing lemon (orange, lime) juice on them, pouring lemon-lime soda on them, or storing them in a non-clear plastic container immediately after squeezing lemon juice on them.  Nothing worked well, or at least, consistently.  I got this tip from my hubby's cousin who says they use this method at her school. 

How to keep cut apples from turning brown:
I gave it a try, and it worked well for me:
1)   Start with fresh apples.  If your apples are old, it won't turn completely brown, but it will still show a tinge of color.
2)   Soak cut apples in salt water for a 3-5 minutes.  Don't soak too long or apples will taste salty.
3)   Rinse, drain.
4)   Apples will remain a pretty color for hours!
 (Note: I've read that pineapple juice also works, but I haven't tried it.  I'll update my post when I do.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easy Easter Carrot Cupcakes Recipe

Carrot cake cupcake

I made carrot cake cupcakes for Easter.  It's my normal carrot cake* recipe, but I made it into cupcakes and decorated with my cream cheese frosting, dyed shredded coconut green for grass, and added Reese's eggs on top.  It was a big hit at our Easter celebration/egg hunt!

*Carrot Cake recipe is the easiest, and tastiest recipe I've found to date!  If not making cupcakes, simply pour into 9x13" greased pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 min.  Yum!

Yummy Carrot Cake with Pineapple Recipe
2 cups   flour
2 tsp      baking soda
1 tsp      salt
2 tsp      cinnamon
2 cups   sugar
4            eggs
1 cup     oil
2 cups   grated carrots
1 can     crushed pineapple (8 oz), drained
3/4 cup chopped nuts

Combine dry ingredients. Add sugar, egg, and oil. Mix well. Add carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Bake in greased 9x13" pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 min.