Archive for October 2013

Whole Foods Wednesday, Mandarin-Glazed Carrots

Can’t get the kids to eat veggies?  Give this sweet recipe a try from Whole Foods Market:

Mandarin-Glazed Carrots




  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 clementines or satsumas, peeled and chopped (remove any seeds)
  • 1 pound (7 to 8 medium) carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds


In a medium saucepan, heat clementines and butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until clementines are soft, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and salt; cover the pan, lower heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are just tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cumin seeds and serve warm or at room temperature.


Monday Trader Joe’s Recipe, Protein Power Bowl

This is for all those looking to get a little more protein in the morning:

Protein Power Bowl




  • 1 cup TJ’s Frozen Fancy Berry Medley
  • 1 cup TJ’s Almond Milk
  • 2 tablespoons TJ’s Organic Hemp Protein Powder (Vanilla Flavored)
  • 3 tablespoons TJ’s Creamy Unsalted Almond Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
  • 2 TJ’s Bananas (1 Sliced For Garnish)
  • 1 cup TJ’s Granola (we used TJ’s Gluten Free Granola – Loaded Fruit & Nut Variety)
  • 1 tablespoon Organic Raw Blue Agave Sweetener


Toss frozen berries, almond milk, protein powder, almond butter, chia seeds and 1 banana in a blender. Pulse a few times until liquefied. Split mixture into separate serving bowls. Top each bowl with granola, sliced bananas, and sweetener.


La Quinta Military Rewards

I wanted to tell you about the great new military program through La Quinta.  It’s called Military Rewards, and I really wanted to get the word out about them.  I’m going to be going home for a visit, and I am staying at a La Quinta in my town and when I get back, I will tell you all about my stay. The rooms look nice, there is free Internet access, free breakfast, and there’s no deposit or extra fee for the family pet.  They also have a great app for your phone, and customer service is nice and helpful.  Here is all the info you need about the rewards program from the site:

  • La Quinta Military Rewards offers generous hotel benefits and rewards to military families to help stretch their travel budget.  It is a way that La Quinta can say “thank you for your service” to the military community.
  • Active and retired military, veterans and their spouses who possess a valid military ID are eligible to join and will receive a 12% discount off the Best Available Rate at the more than 800 La Quinta Inns & Suites locations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
  • After their first stay, Military Rewards members are awarded 2,000 La Quinta Returns bonus points, which puts them at an elevated tier level within the program.  This allows them to earn 20% – 30% more points on every stay.
  • Points earned can be redeemed for free stays, room upgrades and gift certificates at their favorite restaurants, amusement parks, retail stores and more.

What a great program!

Kattie Johnson, Event Coordinator

How to Organize Your Laundry Room

Organizing your laundry room could be something you really do not think about doing, but your really should.  Here are some good tips from a Major Mom Liberator:

Oftentimes the laundry room is expected to deliver more than it can provide. The home layout can have the laundry as a mudroom or a main entry into the home from the garage. It ends up being a catch-all or a place to stash items when guests come over. Even if the laundry is in the hallway, bathroom, or the basement, we find ways to stuff more than it can handle in its limited space. Therefore, it ends up having way too many demands on the room.
Here are some tips to organize your laundry room or area:

  • Simplify. Take a good look at what is happening in your space. If possible, remove some of the responsibilities of the room.
  • Keep only what you use and love in the area. If you have products you no longer use taking up your space, it adds to the frustration of laundering your clothes. For example, if you no longer use a certain detergent because your kids are not babies, move it out.
  • Use the walls or doors, not the floors. Consider alternative solutions to utilize your space rather than piling up on top of machines or on the floor. An iron caddy is great for storing your ironing board and related supplies. Small rolling carts can hold detergents.
  • Have a trash can as close as possible. This is handy when emptying pockets to go in the laundry as well as removing lint from the dryer.
  • Use a timer. Have you ever completely forgotten about a load in the washer or dryer? Set an alarm or timer to remind you to get back to your responsibilities.
  • Use charts, lists, & schedules. Develop a reminder system so all members of the household have directions on how to run the machines, sort clothes, remove stains etc. Customize it for your household.
  • Brighten it up. Make sure your area has proper lighting. Paint a wall. Hang a picture. Place a soft mat on the floor.

Happy Organizing!

Tuesday Whole Foods Recipe, Hearty Minestrone Soup

Perfect for those cool fall evenings….Hearty Minestrone Soup recipe from Whole Foods Market.

Hearty Minestrone Soup




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 2 large stalks of celery, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup dried fusilli pasta
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini or white beans, drained
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Add broth, cabbage, tomato paste, parsley, basil, celery, carrots, bay leaf, and tomatoes with their juice and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add chickpeas, pasta and beans and simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.


Monday Trader Joe’s Recipe, Mezza Luna Lasagna

Looking for a little something different when it comes to Lasagna?  We found the perfect recipe from Trader Joe’s:

Mezza Luna Lasagna




  • 1 large TJ’s Butternut Squash, peeled, sliced lengthwise and cleaned of seeds and string
  • TJ’s Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • TJ’s Sea Salt & TJ’s Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2 jars TJ’s Alfredo Sauce
  • 2 cups TJ’s Chopped Frozen Spinach, defrosted and squeezed of some water
  • 15 ounces TJ’s Traditional Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon TJ’s Nutmeg
  • 12 sheets TJ’s No Boil Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 cup TJ’s Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 cup TJ’s Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice squash halves into 1/2″ half-moon-shaped pieces. Spray a large baking sheet with a light dusting of oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper. Place the slices on the sheet in a single layer. Lightly spray the tops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the slices are tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool; lower oven temperature to 350°F. Empty Alfredo sauce into a sauce pan; warm over very low heat, just enough to liquefy, and remove from heat. Place ricotta, spinach, nutmeg and a pinch of salt into a bowl and combine. Set aside. Assemble lasagna: Coat the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with a light layer of Alfredo sauce. Place four sheets of noodles side by side and top them with more Alfredo sauce. Next, add squash in a single layer. Top squash with more Alfredo sauce and another layer of noodles. Top noodles with all of the ricotta-spinach mixture and smooth out. Top with another layer of noodles, then Alfredo sauce and the last of the squash. Pour over the remainder of Alfredo sauce and top with Mozzarella & Parmesan cheeses. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Poke to check for noodle tenderness and uncover for 10 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and rest 15 minutes before slicing.


Holiday Decoration Organization

Our personal organizer, Major Mom, is at it again.  Here are some tips for organizing your holiday decorations:


Most of us enjoy holiday decorations, but can you quickly and easily find your decorations when you need them?

If you have a large collection of holiday decorations and the thought of going through them all at once is overwhelming or too time-consuming, then start small! Begin by gathering the decorations you have for the next approaching holiday. For example, now that fall has arrived, it’s time to organize your Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations. Search your home for EVERY decoration you can find; including those hiding in the garage, tucked away on closet shelves, and lurking in the kitchen.

  • Sort like items with like items. You may be surprised by how many duplicate items you have! Discard all worn and broken items.
  • Next, decorate your home! Make sure you only use decorations that truly make you happy. Never hold onto decorations if:
    • You keep them out of guilt because they were a gift
    • They don’t match your current decorating style
    • They remind you of a sad memory
    • They are broken
    • You have downsized and they are too big for your new home
    • You’re only keeping them only because someone paid a lot of money for them once
  • Holidays should be happy occasions, and decorations are part of the fun. Donate all decorations you don’t love to your local charity.

After the holiday, organize your decorations carefully into watertight bins. Transparent, color-tinted bins make bins easy to identify quickly, such as orange for autumn, red & green for Christmas, blue for Hanukkah, and pastels for Easter. If colored bins are not an option, create color-coded labels!

  • Use extra large bins for light items such as wrapping paper and decorative pillows. Use smaller bins for heavy items for ease of use.
  • Before packing the decorations away, be sure to check for stray candies and other treats. You don’t want critters to feast in your storage containers!

Ideally, it’s best to store all of your holiday decorations in one place. It is also o.k. to store outdoor decorations in a garage or shed, while storing indoor decorations in a basement or storeroom.

TIP: Recycle your non-working holiday lights at your local ACE Hardware.

Tuesday Whole Foods Recipe, Grape Harvest Cake

I must say I have never tried grapes in a cake before….will have to give this one from Whole Foods Market a try!

Grape Harvest Cake



  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for buttering the pan
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 cups (3/4 pound) red seedless grapes


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch metal cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter the paper and then coat the pan with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in yolk, followed by olive oil. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with additions of buttermilk and scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Stir in half the grapes and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with remaining grapes and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until the cake is browned on top and springs back when pressed lightly with your finger, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan, then invert, peel off the paper and cool the cake upright on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature.