Showing posts from August, 2013

What to do with Hatch Green Chiles

Hatch, New 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

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

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

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

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

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!


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


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

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?