Archive for April 2014

The MVP of your Cupboard.

Distilled White Vinegar is the MVP of your cupboard.  It’s safe and effective cleaning agent that’s affordable and chemical-free.  Here are just a few things that you can do with White Vinegar:


  • Freshen up the fridge.  Clean the shelves and walls with a solution of half water and half vinegar.
  • Brighten coffee cups and teacups.  Gently scrub stains with equal parts vinegar and salt (or baking soda).
  • Eliminate odors.  Swab plastic containers with a cloth dampened with vinegar.
  • De-gunk your grill.  Spray a solution of half water and half vinegar on the cooking surface to loosen up burnt food.
  • Solve a sticky situation.  If you have a label that won’t budge, place a cloth soaked in vinegar on it overnight.  It should slide right off.  You also can wipe scissor blades clean with a vinegar-soaked cloth.
  • Kill bathroom germs.  Spray full-strength vinegar around the sink and tub.  Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  • Wipe off a dirty faucet.  To get rid of lime buildup, make a paste of 1 teaspoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt.  Apply to sink fixtures and rub with a cloth.
  • Save a garment.  To remove light scorch marks on fabrics, rub gently with vinegar and wipe with a clean cloth.  This technique also works on antiperspirant stains.
  • Tidy up the toilet.  Pour a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar into the bowl.  Let sit several hours or overnight.  Scrub well with a toilet brush and flush.
  • Lose the carpet stain.  Make a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and ¼ cup salt or baking soda.  Rub into the stain and let dry.  Vacuum the residue the next day (always test an out-of-sight part of the carpet first).
  • Renew paintbrushes.  To remove old paint, place brushes in a pot with vinegar.  Soak for an hour, then turn on the stove and bring the vinegar to a simmer.  Drain and rinse clean.

Resource: All You Magazine

Trader Joe’s Tuesday, Lemon Basil Cake

Perfect dessert for summer:

Lemon Basil Cake


  • 1 Package Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cake & Baking Mix (requires 2 eggs, 1 stick melted butter or 1/2 cup oil, and 1 cup cold milk)
  • Zest of 2 lemons, about 2 Tbsp (use a lemon zester to make it easy)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and mix together cake batter as directed. When the batter is smooth, stir in lemon zest and basil. Spread batter in oiled 8×8-inch pan and bake 40-43 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool and remove from pan. When serving slices, top with blueberries or whipped cream.


7 Inexpensive plants to repel insects and pest.

Summer is approaching and we have 7 plants to repel, insects and pest.  You will be amazed at the simple plants you can put around the house to repel some of those nasty creatures:


  • Mint and Bay Leaves: Not only does it smell nice, but it keeps away ants and mice.  Crush some to release the fragrance and it’ll run off any strays that come your way.  Add some Bay Leaves to the mix and you’ll get rid of those nasty roaches too.
  • Lemongrass: This pretty plant will help to keep away those annoying mosquitos and bees.
  • Basil: This not only adds flavor to your cooking, but can make those flies fly away.
  • Geraniums: Not only can they add a nice amount of color to your yard or garden, but also they keep out the Japanese Beetles.
  • Catnip: Read in several places that this stuff will ward off a long list of bugs including mosquitos and flies.
  • Pyrethrum Chrysanthemums (aka Mums): These cute little flowers help to repel roaches, fleas, ticks, bedbugs, lice, silverfish, ants and much more.

Do not wait until it is to late in the season to plant, so head on over to your local garden center and get planting.



Trader Joe’s Tuesday, Balsamic Strawberries

Strawberry picking is just around the corner and this would be a tasty snack for all those tasty strawberries:

Balsamic Strawberries


  • 8 oz (half pkg) strawberries, or about 2 cups
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine

Place balsamic vinegar, sugar, and wine into a saucepan. Heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl.  While balsamic syrup is cooling, wash and cut strawberries in slices or quarters. Add strawberries to syrup and stir to coat. Let marinate for 15 minutes. Do not let sit longer than 30 minutes or strawberries won’t be as crisp as you might like.



Timing is Everything When it comes to Saving Money

It’s not just about where you shop, but when.  We have listed a few products and the best time to buy them.  Good luck!


Large Home Appliances (washing machines, dryers or refrigerators):

October to January or on national holidays like Memorial Day.


The absolute best time is at the end of October, but otherwise at the end of any month.


Thursdays and the end of a season.  Spring season ends in May and fall ends in November

Air Conditioners:



April, May and December


January and July

Trader Joe’s Tuesday, Ham and Cheese Croissants

This recipe is easy and the kids will love it:

Ham and Cheese Croissants


  • 1 (8-oz) pkg refrigerated Crescent Rolls
  • 4 slices Rosemary Ham
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese Preheat oven to 375° F.

Preheat oven to 375° F and very gently separate the crescent dough into 8 triangles.  Using the crescent triangles as a pattern cut the ham and cheese into triangular shapes.  Place 1 piece of ham on the crescent dough and top with 1 slice of cheese. Roll up each croissant starting from the widest edge to the tip of the triangle. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.



5 Things to do with Lemons

Just a few ideas of how you can use Lemons (other then cooking):


  • Improve flavor: Add to green tea to reduce the bitterness and help increase your body’s absorption of antioxidants.
  • Get fresh: Cut a lemon and use as an all-natural deodorant for your armpits and feet.
  • Soothe Sunburn: Mix lemon juice and cool water and gently apply to your skin.  It will help your body recover more quickly from a MILD sunburn.
  • De-stain your laundry: Squeeze lemon juice on an ink stain, let sit overnight, and then launder as usual.  Repeat if needed before drying.
  • Clean your pots: Make a paste of lemon juice and salt, and rub it on copper to remove oxidation.  Rinse well and dry.

And to think you can spend a few dollars to purchase a dwarf tree, plant it in a pot and grow your own lemons.  Planting in a pot makes sense when living in a cold climate zone, you can store it inside, in a garage or shed during the cold season.

Here are a few sites where you can find them:


Resource: Woman’s Day Magazine

Trader Joe’s Tuesday, Blueberry Hand Pies

This recipe is a little bit of work, but worth it:

Blueberry Hand Pies


  • 2 rolls (1 box) TJ’s Pie Crust, defrosted in fridge overnight
  • 1 bag (1 1/2 cups) TJ’s Frozen Wild Boreal Blueberries
  • 2 TJ’s Lemons, zested
  • 4 Tbsp TJ’s Lemon Curd
  • 1 tsp TJ’s Unbleached All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling dough
  • 1 large TJ’s Egg, beaten with 1 tsp Water
  • 1/4 cup TJ’s Turbinado Sugar (optional for sanding tops)
  • *You will also need a wide-mouthed jar or circular cookie cutter (3.5 in diameter = about 7 hand pies)

Remove both pie crust rolls from refrigerator and let soften on counter (about 15 minutes). Pour bag of frozen blueberries in a strainer and rinse with water to defrost. Set aside. Once dough is softened, working in two batches, unroll and smooth together any cracks with your hands over the top of the plastic film of the dough. Remove plastic film and place dough onto a floured surface. Cut out 7 circles from one roll and 7 circles from the other (it could be more or less depending on the size of your cookie cutter, just make sure you end up with an even number). Place all dough circles onto two baking trays lined with parchment paper and place back in refrigerator to chill. In a medium bowl, combine strained blueberries, lemon zest, lemon curd and flour. Stir and set aside. Prepare egg wash by whisking egg with water in a small bowl. Set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator and place a spoonful of the lemon-blueberry mix onto 7 of the dough circles, making sure not to overfill or touch the edges of the dough. Brush egg wash around the perimeter of each filled dough circle. Place the remaining 7 dough circles on top of the mounds, then crimp the edges of the dough with a fork to seal each pie. Place prepared pies back in refrigerator to chill another 10 minutes before baking. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Once oven is heated, remove tray of pies from refrigerator and brush tops generously with egg wash. With a sharp knife, cut a slit or a small design on the top of each pie to help steam release while baking. Optional: for added texture, sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top of each pie. Bake pies in center rack for 20-25 minutes, or until the blueberry juices start bubbling and the pastry is golden brown. For even baking, rotate sheet halfway though. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.



5 Things to do with Flour

5 Things to do with flour, save a few bucks and even safe for the kids:


  • Clean Playing Cards: Put them in a plastic bag with a half-cup of flour.  Shake for a minute then remove cards and shuffle the deck a few times over the sink.
  • Unstick a Lid: Have a plastic lid that closes too tight?  Dip the container edge in flour to prevent sticking.
  • Clean Heavy White Fabrics: Spot clean white canvas, leather, faux leather, vinyl and even curtains by rubbing flour into the dirt lines, then brush clean.
  • Mix-up Some Glue: Whip up craft glue for kids by mixing 1 part flour with 3 parts water.  Boil and stir until it becomes a paste.  Then store in fridge.
  • Make Clay: Knead together 1 cup water, 3 cups flour and 1 tsp vegetable oil.  Add food coloring if you like.  To store, moisten and wrap it in plastic and put in the fridge.

Resources: Woman’s Day Magazine

Trader Joe’s Tuesday, Corned Beef Hash

This is for all our Corned Beef Hash fans!

Easy As Crispy Corned Beef Hash


  • 1 bag TJ’s Roasted Potatoes with Fire Roasted Peppers & Onions
  • 1 lb. Pocino Fully Cooked Uncured Corned Beef Brisket, cubed to potato size (seasonal)
  • 2 Tbsp TJ’s Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp TJ’s Clarified Butter
  • 1/3 cup Water

Heat olive oil and butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat; crowd in the cubed corned beef and potatoes. Spread evenly in the pan and increase heat to high or medium high. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes and add in peppers and onions. Do not stir the potatoes and corned beef; let them brown until sizzling. Use a spatula to peek underneath to check browning. If there is too much sticking, add a little more oil to the pan. Continue to cook in this manner until the potatoes and the corned beef are browned and crispy on the bottom. Once browned, add water, then cover with a lid and steam until water evaporates (about 2 to 3 minutes). Remove from heat and serve topped with fried or poached eggs.