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Showing posts from 2013

Download an mp3 file on a Samsung Galaxy S4

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When I first got my phone which is a Samsung Galaxy S4, I downloaded some mp3s from a website but then later forgot how I did it. When I did a search for "how to download mp3s from a website on my Android" or "on my Samsung Galaxy S4," all I could find was advice to download apps to search for music.


Not every mp3 is a popular song you can find on a music app or even a song at all. Sometimes an mp3 is simply a link on a website for a ringtone or other audio file. In my case, it was a recording that a personal friend had made for me. I didn't want to "stream" it when I was away from home and use too much data on my smart phone plan so downloading the file was a must. There was a podcast on iTunes available, but my phone is an Android.


Everything I read made it sound like you couldn't download an mp3 file directly from a website. I finally figured out how to do it so I decided to write a quick post which might be of help to someone else with th…

Walking for Exercise

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Haven't Exercised in a While? Start Walking!

I have recently started exercising regularly, and it has been much easier than I thought it would be. In fact, I may even be addicted to it! I am still in the early stages of my journey, but I am already seeing great results and learning a lot about fitness. I think the key to my success has been doing things gradually. I started with walking...




About Me

My past exercise experience includes an aerobics class in college and later walking/light jogging on a treadmill for 20 minutes at an office gym. That was years ago. Life flies by and priorities change during different seasons of life. As a mom of six who is over 40 and hasn't done any regular exercise program in several years, I have basically started from scratch. I'm not really overweight, but I would like to lose at least ten pounds and get more toned. More importantly, I love having more energy! Since I started walking briskly six days a week, I have a new spring in my step…

Bread Machine Bread Bowls for Two

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I love the clam chowder they sell at Pier 39 in San Francisco. I usually don't actually eat the bread bowl, though, since I'm not a fan of sourdough bread. 
The crusty white bread bowls I made the other night were NOT sourdough and were so good, I started eating mine without stopping to take a picture first. The only thing missing was the cool ocean breeze...and the seals...and the street performers...and...well, you get the picture.
But I will definitely be making these delicious bread bowls again! Here are the ingredients:
1 cup plus one tbsp water 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour 1 tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 1 1/2 tsp quick active dry yeast 1 egg (You will also need two empty 6 1/2 ounce tin cans--think tuna or clam cans, and a little oil or cooking spray)
Add all ingredients except for the tin cans and oil to bread machine according to manufacturer instructions. Set bread machine to dough cycle.
When dough cycle is complete, divide dough in half.
Enclose each tin can in dough and …

What to do with Hatch Green Chiles

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Hatch, New Mexico...green chile capital of the world.

Once upon a time, green chile connoisseurs like my in-laws had to make a pilgrimage to New Mexico in August to get Hatch green chiles. It's that wonderful time of year again, and these days you can smell the aroma of Hatch chiles roasting outside of participating grocery stores across America.

When you get home with your twenty dollar or so box of freshly roasted green chiles, you will want to:

1. Peel off the blackened skin and remove the seeds from each chile. Ideally, you will do this under running water. Some people wear gloves to do this.

2. Place 4-8 of the chiles in a small freezer bag. Repeat this process...ABOUT EIGHTEEN TIMES until they are all bagged. Still with me? This is not a project for the lazy, but it is so nice to have these packets in the freezer year round.

Now that you have your chiles portioned out and stored in the freezer, you can use them in omelets, salsas, stews, and best of all, "chile verde.&q…

Keeping Young Children Busy during Church or Sports Practice

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To keep little people busy away from home, I keep certain items in the back of my car. These are different items than whatever toys they might bring along to play with while riding in the car. The special items in the back are activities to keep them busy at certain destinations. We keep this stuff in the car for a few reasons:

1. Since they don't play with them anywhere else, they are excited to get them out. Novelty is key sometimes when keeping kids entertained.

2. I like to get out of the house quickly without having to pack much.

3. I'd rather not have to hand over my cell phone or an ink pen to a toddler out of desperation. 

When we arrive at church, I grab these quiet toys from the back of the car and put them in my purse to pull out one by one when my toddler gets bored. He usually doesn't need them until about 45 minutes into the service so he is gradually learning to sit still and listen for longer periods...




While we are watching "Spider Man" do k…

Saving Money on Groceries: My Favorite Aldi Products

The first time I visited an Aldi, I was a little bit irritated that they charge a quarter for the use of the shopping cart and a few cents each for grocery bags. I also assumed that their products were inferior generics. I couldn't have been more wrong!

For one thing, you get the quarter back when you return the cart, or as they call it here, the "buggy." Ugh! (Even after six years in Texas, that still sounds weird to me.) I don't normally carry much cash, but now that I'm used to shopping at Aldi, I make sure I always have at least one quarter in the center console of my car. Paying six or ten cents for each shopping bag is no big deal since you are saving tons of money on groceries. Sometimes I keep a few bags in the back of my car so I can bring my own.

The great thing about Aldi is that common staple items are cheaper yet often superior in taste to national brands. Most of the products you'll find at Aldi are Aldi's own brands, but they also have a f…

100 Calorie Vanilla Almond Frappe

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Lately, I am all about making fast frappes in the blender using instant coffee. This particular frappe is non-dairy, all natural, and only 100 calories. Here's the simple recipe:

1 cup All-Natural Vanilla Almond Milk (I buy mine at Aldi)
1 scant tablespoon instant coffee granules
3-4 ice cubes
a pinch of salt (optional to reduce foam)

Blend all ingredients for about 60 seconds and enjoy! The store bought vanilla almond milk I use contains cane juice so it is already sweetened, yet it still has less calories than whole milk which would need an additional sweetener. Almond milk has a delicious nutty flavor and can be easier on the stomach than milk--especially on days when I end up drinking two of these in the course of the day. I'm not a vegan or anything, but some of us have our limits when it comes to guzzling too much milk. The calorie savings and easy digestibility make this creamy cold coffee drink a win win! These are so good, I've been known to have a decaf version …

Recommended Reading for Tweens in 4th-6th Grade

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The following titles are the "chapter books" I read and loved as a kid:


My Top Picks for Girls:

Black Beauty

The Nancy Drew series

The Little House on the Prairie series

Treasures of the Snow


My Top Picks for Boys or Girls:

Swiss Family Robinson

The Sugar Creek Gang series

The Hardy Boys series

Peanuts Comic Books


A lot of books you will find on classical reading lists are not of interest to preteens living in 2013. That said, I feel that older books teach better morals and have more educational value than the dumbed down children's books of today. I like my children to read the above books from the late 19th and early 20th century that I enjoyed as a young girl. I don't remember how old I was when I started reading these books, but I'm pretty sure I was still reading some of them by age eleven. I read most of the books on the list voluntarily for pleasure, not knowing that they were educational.

I think my mom read some of these books in her own childhood…

Saving Money on Groceries: Mexican Stores

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One of the ways that we save money on groceries is by doing some of our shopping at Mexican grocery stores. I don't mean those small, storefront taquerias, though. Those have their purpose, too-- like when we want their specially seasoned fajita meat or jerky or just a place to practice speaking Spanish. No, I'm talking about the full sized supermercados where you can not only buy Mexican foods but also your favorite brands of cereal, spaghetti sauce, and ice cream. A couple of the stores like this that we have here in Fort Worth are "Fiesta" and "Carnival."

Some of the items we get for low prices at these stores are tortillas, rice, and beans. Cheese and other fresh staple items also cost substantially less at these places. There is always a large selection of interesting produce, and there are usually inexpensive steaks, as well as hamburger meat and chicken which really saves us a bundle. A lot of the fun, imported hot sauces are only a few cents a bottl…

Fast Mocha Frappe in Blender

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Although real maple syrup has about the same number of calories as white sugar, it tastes sweeter so I end up using less. It doesn't make my coffee drinks taste like pancake syrup either--it just sweetens them as sugar would. This homemade mocha frappe is the perfect pick me up on a summer morning!





Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp real maple syrup
3-4 ice cubes

Directions

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth and frothy. This makes enough for two people or this one very busy and active mom!









Chocolate Hazelnut Spread Cupcakes

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Today's post is a guest post from my ten year old daughter who I'll refer to here as "Little Chef." She did everything herself including taking the picture. I am now turning the keyboard over to her...

I baked a batch of white cupcakes. And instead of using unhealthy store bought chocolate frosting, I used a chocolate hazelnut spread. It was good so why don't you try making it too?



Homemade Hamburger Buns using your Bread Machine

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If you have a bread machine, you probably already have flour, sugar, salt, and rapid rise dry yeast on hand. Frugal, homemade hamburger buns can be made easily using my all purpose dough recipe.  Not only can you avoid an extra trip to the store and feel good about serving buns made from all natural ingredients, but hot, fresh homemade buns can take your burgers to a whole new level!


Bun Directions:

Once your bread machine's dough cycle is complete, grease a cookie sheet with a little oil or cooking spray. Divide the dough into nine portions and shape the buns into circles about one inch thick...




Allow the buns to rise for about thirty minutes on the cookie sheet. They will rise some when baking anyway so you can skip this extra rising if you are short on time...





If you have any sesame seeds, sprinkle them on the hamburger buns just before baking. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Slice each bun with a bread knife after baking to separate the tops and bottoms.




Pizzadillas!

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So I was planning to make quesadillas and realized I was out of cheddar cheese. Here's how the conversation went between my picky six year old son and me:

Me: Will you eat a quesadilla made with white cheese?

Son: NO. Don't you have any orange cheese??

Me five minutes later: Wanna try one of these PIZZAdillas?

Son: Okay!

Son: MOM, Can you make these another day!? PUT THESE ON YOUR BLOG!!!

He likes it! Hey Mikey!!!

So here's what I used to make my pizzadillas:

Monterey Jack cheese
Pepperoni (preservative free)
Salsa
Flour tortillas

Instructions:

Place cheese, salsa, and pepperoni on one side of a tortilla and place in a pan over medium heat.



Fold it over and turn it a few times with a spatula, making sure the tortilla doesn't burn on either side.

Pizzadilla is ready when the cheese is melted.



Serve with raw veggies for a fast weeknight dinner.


Copyright 2013, Raani S., Two Chickens In Every Pot





Two Ingredient Banana "Ice Cream" Pie

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This cool, refreshing pie was inspired by banana pudding which is traditionally topped with vanilla wafers. As I expected, the 'Nilla wafer crust turned out to be the perfect addition to the already decadent one ingredient banana "ice cream."  If you haven't tried eating bananas this way, yet, you will be surprised at how creamy and delicious they are after being frozen and blended!

Ingredients:

4 bananas
1 store bought 'Nilla wafer pie crust

Yep. That's it! Okay, okay...I garnished mine with whipped cream and walnut pieces, but those are optional.

Directions:

Cut up bananas into slices about one inch thick and freeze in a plastic bag for at least four hours.

Blend until smooth in a food processor, mini food chopper, or blender. It's okay to add a a few spoonfuls of water if you need to.

Spoon creamed bananas into pie crust and chill in freezer for two hours before slicing.

Warning: It will not be as creamy if you leave it in the freezer indefinitely s…

Frugal Freezer Burritos

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I recently froze some homemade bean and cheese burritos after my sister mentioned this idea she saw on Pinterest. Since the refried beans were homemade and I got the tortillas on sale, I felt very frugal. I do make my own tortillas, but we had eaten all of the homemade tortillas the night I made the beans. Making tortillas is less expensive, but let's face it, it can be time consuming. A few days later, I froze some leftover breakfast burritos, and now I have come up with yet another frugal frozen burrito idea...

I used leftover bean soup to make more burritos! Ever notice how homemade soups and chilies thicken in the refrigerator? That consistency is perfect for spooning onto tortillas for burritos! 

Ingredients:

Flour tortillas
shredded cheese
leftovers (bean soup, chili, refried beans, scrambled eggs, meats, etc.)
hot sauce or salsa


Directions:

Spoon those thick, cold leftovers onto a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and perhaps a little hot sauce, and wrap it up. I wrap each bu…

Senate Bean Soup

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I don't remember where I originally found this recipe years ago, but I remember reading that it was served in the cafeteria of the U.S. Senate which is how it got its name. I've been making this simple bean soup for years, and my husband really likes it. The following is my most recent adaptation of the recipe...


1 lb dry navy beans
1 or 2 meaty ham bones
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 stalks chopped celery 1 chopped carrot
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
salt and/or chicken bouillon to taste

Directions:

Rinse and sort beans. Cover beans and ham bones with 8-10 cups hot water.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, checking occasionally. You can cook this soup covered or uncovered depending on how watchful you want to be. If you cook it uncovered, you may need to add a little more water at some point.
Add remaining ingredients except for the salt or bouillon.



Simmer for another 1 1/2 hours, for a tota…

Fun Lunches for Kids

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I've started making colorful lunches for my children in the morning while they are still sleeping. Not only is it fun to surprise them later in the day with their pre-made "bento box" inspired lunches, but it also frees me up from having a lot of clean up to do after lunch. Just because most of us are home all day, doesn't mean we can't enjoy the benefits of lunches packed ahead of time...and the little ones eat more fresh fruits and vegetables when they are presented in interesting ways...




I sometimes do the prep work for dinner in the morning so I am thinking about experimenting with morning only food preparation on most days. What if I made the lunches, perhaps put together a lasagna, and then made breakfast all before waking the littles?

I could do most of my cooking alone without distractions, clean it all up, and have more time to spend on other things throughout the day like reading to the kids, cleaning and organizing other areas of the house, running er…

Fast No Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake

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This creamy, rich cheesecake takes only minutes to assemble and the recipe is so simple that I have it memorized. Sometimes it's nice to throw a dessert together that isn't completely from scratch and doesn't require a lot of measuring or effort. This cheesecake will impress your guests while still leaving you with plenty of time to primp before the party...

Ingredients:

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 cups whipped cream
1 graham cracker crust
1 cup dulce de leche (caramel sauce)
 a few dashes of coarse sea salt


Directions:

With an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar for about 30 seconds at medium speed. Add whipped cream and beat for thirty more seconds.

Spoon creamy filling into crust.

Spoon caramel sauce on top.




Sprinkle generously with salt.

Chill in refrigerator before slicing.

Voila!




Sweetest Sweet Potato Pie

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I absolutely love pumpkin pie, and I had some organic sweet potatoes sitting neglected in the fridge that I couldn't let go to waste. By putting the sweet potatoes into a pie, I was able to get even my pickiest eater excited about eating sweet potatoes! It helps that sweet potato pie looks and tastes very similar to pumpkin pie. Yum! I should make this more often...


Ingredients:

2 ½-3 medium sized sweet potatoes  or about 2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato

½ stick of butter, melted

3/4 cups white sugar

scant ¼ cup brown sugar, NOT packed

½ cup milk

2 eggs

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust



Directions:

Boil three sweet potatoes whole in skin for 45 to 50 minutes until tender. Allow to cool and remove skin.

Break apart sweet potatoes in a bowl, removing any stubbornly hard chunks that you will sometimes find near the ends. Add butter, milk, eggs, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla.…

Whole Wheat Pie Crust Dough

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With only half a cup of all purpose flour, this whole grain pie crust is nutritious as well as delicious. Whether or not that 1/2 cup of all purpose flour is bleached or unbleached is a personal matter--no judgment here! I am already impressed that you are considering using this healthy crust for your next dessert or savory pot pie. This recipe makes a single pie crust so you will need to double the ingredients if you are making a pie with crust on both the top and bottom like an apple pie or a chicken pot pie.


Ingredients for single pie crust:

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (½ cup) cold, salted butter
6 tbsp cold milk


Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flours, sugar, and salt. Cut in slices of butter using a pastry cutter or simply grate the butter with your cheese grater and finish cutting it in with a fork. The largest pieces of butter should be pea sized and evenly distributed.

Pour the milk into the mixtur…

Busy Day Split Pea Soup

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I've been making this split pea soup for years. It's amazingly easy to make. We are talking five minutes of prep time...And you can leave it alone for hours. I am always surprised at how flavorful cooked split peas are--this soup needs very little seasoning other than salt and pepper and maybe a few small pinches of garlic powder and onion powder. Pork neck bones also enhance the flavor, and I'm pretty sure that eating this soup counts as consuming "bone broth" which is all the rage right now. You can use fresh garlic, of course, but who wants the smell of garlic on their hands when heading out the door on a busy morning? This is an easy soup that you just throw together and it comes out great!

Ingredients:

1 bag of yellow or green split peas
2 pork neckbones
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 of a medium sized onion, diced
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 cups of water
1 to 2 teaspoons of salt (to taste)

Direction…

Man Pleasing Spring Rolls

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Why is this recipe "man pleasing?" Because my husband made it, and it has bacon in it. Spring rolls are deep fried so they are more of an occasional weekend splurge for us than an everyday meal. On a more positive note, this is yet another one of our sneaky ways to get the kids to eat spinach.


Ingredients

1 lb bacon, chopped
1 head of cabbage, chopped
1 bunch of spinach, chopped and stems removed
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1/2 ham steak, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 tsp pepper
24 spring roll pastries
vegetable oil (enough to cover the spring rolls)

Fry bacon pieces and chopped ham until crispy. Set ham and bacon aside. Add the cabbage, spinach, and green onions to the bacon grease and sprinkle with pepper and ginger. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, for several minutes or until vegetables are wilted and somewhat soft.

While the hubby was sauteing the vegetables, he was also making fried rice which I will have to post about another time. Steamed…

Personal Pizzas

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Who doesn't like building their own pizza?





There are a few secrets to making good pizza at home. First, heat the oven to about 500 degrees or hotter and preheat a pizza stone. It can be tricky transferring a large pizza onto a hot stone which is already in the oven. Some people make a full sized pizza on parchment paper and transfer it to the oven using a "pizza peel." They say you can slide out the parchment paper after cooking the pizza for a few minutes.

I use nothing but a metal spatula to transfer these small personal pizzas back and forth from my kitchen table to the oven. One thing that makes it so much easier, is that I cook the dough a little bit by itself before adding the toppings. Doing it this way not only makes for a crispier finished product, but it also provides a sturdy base which is easier to transport to the oven after loading it with sauce, cheese, and other toppings.

I made the dough in my bread machine, but you could also make it by hand or even bu…