Treasures & Tips to Health & Happiness

little tid bits that add a touch of happiness to your life

Sugar & Spice

Helpful Hints for in the Kitchen

Posted by dawnlefler on July 20, 2009 at 11:47 AM Comments comments (0)

Plan Ahead:

I can't stress how much time and money planning your meals in advance can save! When you are considering your meals for the week, think about how you can prepare the ingredients for more than one meal at a time. For example, if you are having steaks one night, grill an extra one to slice for fajitas another night. Better yet, have grilled chicken another night and grill extra chicken so you can have chicken & steak fajitas! This will take no extra time the night you do the grilling and will save time on the night for fajitas.

Need Something Special?

If you have to buy a special ingredient for a dish, but don't need to use all of it for the dish (i.e. buttermilk), plan to make something else that week that uses that ingredient too. This works well for items that could spoil within the week. Not so important for those that won't spoil right away (i.e. balsamic vinegar).

Make time for substitutions!

Many proteins can be substituted for each other in different recipes. For example, ground turkey or chicken can be substituted for ground beef (and vice versa). Boneless, skinless chicken breast can be substituted for pork chops or cutlets. Switching it up will add variety to your monthly menu!


Some recipes call for specific spices, don't worry so much about following recipes word for word, and experiment with different flavors. If you bought the Asian 5 spice for the Lettuce Wrap recipe, try adding it in different stir fry/Asian style recipes.

Spice Shelf Life:

Whole spices----2 to 5 years

Ground spices---6 months to 2 years

Leafy herbs-------3 months to 2 years

dehydrated vegetables---6 months

Write the date of purchase on the spice label; then check them once a year and replace as needed.

When using spices while cooking on the stovetop, allow them to sit open for a few minutes after use so that any moisture that got inside can dry before you close them and put them back in the cabinet.

Storing items:

Store sour cream containers upside-down in your refrigerator. This prolongs the shelf life by at least two weeks; and if you buy the larger size (which is usually less expensive per ounce) you can save two ways! Don't worry; the upside-down containers won't leak.

Pickey Eaters

Posted by dawnlefler on July 20, 2009 at 11:39 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you have a little one who refuses to eat anything but pizza? If you really want your cherub to eat other things, don't give up. Keep trying to give 'em a little of what you are eating first, before even making something else. If your angel knows that there is a grilled cheese sitting right there, of course the peanut's not going to eat grilled chicken and broccoli! Eventually the bebe might just try it... Ranch or Ketchup always helps too! lol!

Here's another idea... if your munchkin will eat pizza, try making your own and let 'em help. You can get the ready made crust, or you can make your own (see my Pizza Crust recipe in the Miscellaneous section). You can get a low sodium sauce (if you want) or I've even used fat free ranch dressing as a pizza sauce when I make it with chicken. You can try different veggies... Chopped broccoli, peas, whatever tickles your fancy! I always buy the frozen bags that way I can take out just what I need. Try cutting up grilled chicken or using ground turkey. They also make a turkey pepperoni, but that is a little more expensive and less healthy. The key is having the tot help to make it. Show 'em all the ingredients and taste them while you are putting it together, show  how different things taste and feel and do not worry about a mess. If you are having fun cooking together and getting to taste different things as you go, your little one will probably be more interested in tasting the finished product too!

Menu Planning Back on Track!

Posted by dawnlefler on July 19, 2009 at 5:23 PM Comments comments (0)

As you may know, on June 20th I announced that I would be taking a break for a bit on posting new recipes, with that also came no new menu plan for the month of July.  :dry:  Have no fear!  I have fixed the June menu, so that it is read-able and posted a menu plan for August!  I am slowly getting into the swing of things, so for now, enjoy the menu plan!  I will ALWAYS promptly respond to questions, comments & orders.  Enjoy the rest of the summer! 

Menu Plan Monday: June 8-14

Posted by dawnlefler on June 7, 2009 at 5:48 PM Comments comments (0)

So, I am not sure where I have been all this time, but did you know that Home Depot has a Kids Workshop the first Saturday of every month?  By George they do and it is so cool! Daddy took Mia (4) and the neighbor boy (7) to it yesterday and I was truly amazed at what they came home with! Not only did they get to make a project, but they got a nice workshop apron with a pin for the project that they completed! Best of all… it’s FREE!! Check it out, here’s the link: Home Depot Kids Workshop

To recap last week, I was on the road Tuesday & Wednesday. On Thursday, I was invited to meet with a Mom’s group and talk about traveling with children and how many of the items in my store can help make it easier/less stressful when traveling. I truly enjoyed meeting with them and hope to keep in touch with them in the future!

The week ahead involves me hitting the road once again. This time it’s Tuesday through Friday, so once again, its Daddy’s turn to work it out in the kitchen!! You may recall last week’s menu being inspired by a recipe that I discovered on $5 dinners, well I made the breadsticks on Wednesday and they were such a hit, that I made the dough again on Friday; only this time I made them into clover style rolls! I posted my enhanced version of the recipe on my website, so you should be able to find it here, if not, check here!


Here’s our meal plan for this week…

Monday: Mexican Pasta Casserole & side salad

Tuesday - Friday: Leftovers or whatever Dad wants to cook up!

Saturday: Grilled chicken, veggies, rice & side salad

Sunday: Pasta w/veggies & sausage with a side salad

Have a fantabulous week!


Menu Plan Monday - Week 3 (May 25-31)

Posted by dawnlefler on May 24, 2009 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)


I am so clueless as to where the month of May has gone... where the year has gone for that matter!!  So this week marks the beginning of a "new beginning" for me and my family!  Here's the short of it... I worked for 11 years for a company and was laid off in March.  Loving the ability to focus on my girls and the home, but needing to still have an income.  Opportunity knocked and I answered.  I'll be working from home (eventually) but first I need to get some training out of the way.  For the next three weeks, I will be going through various trainings to help me be a success at this new venture, so wish me luck!! 


The menu for this week is really up in the air!  Since it is up to Daddy to do the meal preparation while I am out, I can only provide him with the tools, he has to choose to use them!!

  • Monday - Grilling out Chicken & Cheese Burgers, homemade coleslaw, oven-baked sweet-potato fries  Happy Memorial Day!
  • Tuesday - Mexican Pasta Casserole
  • Wednesday - Chicken Divan Casserole
  • Thursday - Grill out Hot Dogs, coleslaw (if any is left), chips, veggie of some sort
  • Friday - left over smorgasbord!
  • Saturday - Baked chicken breast, rice pilaf, broccoli & side salad (can you tell I'm back home again??) :wink:
  • Sunday - Lasagna (maybe seafood lasagna) garlic bread & side salad

Here's to another fan-tabulous week!

Menu Plan Monday (Week 2)

Posted by dawnlefler on May 17, 2009 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (4)

So, here we are at week 2 of my weekly menu planning.  I am really trying to follow the same monthly calendar that I have posted, but I am finding that I am needing to be a bit more creative here lately!  I have recently started a new career that will require a bit of travel in the upcoming weeks.  To make sure that the family still has the yummy (read nutritious not McDonald's) meals that they would when I am home, I am making meals to freeze!  Of course, that also meant that I needed to have a quick "101" course on how to prepare and heat them with daddy!  It also meant printing very explicit directions and lables just incase he forgets the lesson on preparing them!

With that being said, I am altering my weekly menu to flow with the ingredients that I need to make the freezer meals (I'd be crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity to save myself some time!)

Monday:  Chicken Louis Sandwiches (glorified chicken salad sandwiches)

Tuesday:  Pasta Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli

Wednesday:  Tacos

Thursday:  Steak Salads

Friday:  Sloppy Joes

Saturday:  Chicken Wellington w/rice stuffing

Sunday:  Mexican Shepherds Pie (I think...)

Cheers to another fabulous week!


Menu Plan Monday.... hmmmm???

Posted by dawnlefler on May 12, 2009 at 9:27 AM Comments comments (0)

So, I have been at this website since January 2009 as part of my unspoken New Year's Resolution to make my life less stressful and hopefully do the same for others!  I am happy to say that it has grown into something.... not quite sure what that something is, but it's something and I am loving every minute of it!!

Late yesterday afternoon, I stumbled upon a cute website called "I'm an organizing junkie".  I thought with a name like that it must be up my alley!  So today, I have taken a bit of time to dive into it and see what it's all about and would you believe I ran across over 300 fabulous people who blog about their weekly meals on Monday's??  Where in the world have I been all this time?!?!  So, here is my first blog on Menu Plan Monday (so it's Tuesday, oh well, better late than not at all, right?).  Even though you can find over 16 weeks worth of meal ideas on my Mealtime Calendar, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with you what we're doing this week!

Monday:  Leftovers

Tuesday:  Grilled BBQ Chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob

Wednesday: Leftovers (again) :dry:

Thursday: Oven-Fried Talipia, rice, steamed veggies, side salad

Friday:  Enchiladas, rice & beans, side salad

Saturday: Teriyaki Chicken, rice, side salad

Sunday: South of the border steaks, sweet potato fries, veggie of some sort, side salad

(Dearest Daddy started night classes again this week, so that changed up what I had originally thought out for the week - hence leftovers twice in one week!)

So, here's to a fabulous week!

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