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Rachel Krings

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Coolest lunch box!

With two kids in school, the cost of hot lunch can add up really fast! I also am not keen on the quality of food their lunches usually contain as well. Cost is more important to me, but I also like to see that my kids are eating healthy options.

A friend of mine has been using “Planetbox” lunch boxes for her kids for a couple years. I have always envied them and hoped to buy one for my kids. They are expensive, costing about $100 for the start, but she assured me worth every penny. This year I bought one for my oldest child, who is a 2nd grader. It provides both healthy lunches and its fun too. Adults can use them as well.

Here’s a few snapshots of lunches we chose this school year:

There are a lot of options to do with the lunchbox! After the first full year of using it, I can tell you that it looks as it did the first day we used it. It really holds up well!

Next year my youngest goes to Kindergarten and I will be investing in one for her as well. It is an investment, but it pays for itself! Before I got a new lunchbox every year, which averages about $15. Then I would use plastic bags all year, amounting to about 5 bags=$15. Times that by 5 years (the planetbox comes with a 5yr warranty), that equals $150. When the cost of the lunchbox is $60, you’re saving a ton, and you’re saving the environment by not using those plastic bags!

I know the initial investment is scary, but you should do it! Check it out at: https://www.planetbox.com/

We have the rover** I do suggest getting the bag, its very convenient!

Do I have any other Planetbox users here?

Found this awesome Jambalaya recipe

I’m always searching for new blogs to follow, and today I found one to share with you all. Another woman who follows my heart in making the most of what is in the kitchen, but still delicious foods.

Its almost May here but our weather outside feels like December! I don’t know about y’all but when its cold outside all I want to do is stay inside in warm clothes and crank the heat. I despise this cold dreary weather!

This entire week I have been craving Jambalaya (I’ve always misspelled that word), so today I decided it was time to make some! Since I’m trying to be more selective on the foods i’m eating, I decided to omit rice and instead use up the spaghetti squash on the counter. I researched and found this recipe:

http://goodcheapeats.com/2016/09/spaghetti-squash-jambalaya/

It cooked up really fast and was quite delicious!!

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If you’re a blogger you’ll understand what its like to find a blog and explore for awhile. I often check out what else a blog is about when finding a recipe. First this recipe was exactly what i was looking for, and it was delicious. So I looked around and turns out most of the site looks delicious! Definitely a blog I will be following.

Check her out and see what recipes you could include in your menu!

Do you eat spaghetti squash? If so how.. I am always trying to find new ways to eat it.

 

Avocados and what to do with them

 

Growing up in a Hispanic family, Avocados were part of the shopping trip every week like bananas are to Americans. You just bought them, and used them in one form or another. I can honestly say though, until I was in my thirties I hated them green things.

I remember many times as a kid my mother would try to get me to eat Guacamole, disgusting I always said. As an adult I finally learned the deliciousness of Avocados and now I enjoy them often! Guacamole really is delicious, and its healthy for you too!

Per google information: Avocados are a good source of pantothenic acid, dietary fiber, vitamin K, copper, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C. . Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.

I am not fond of the taste of Avocado by themselves, like I know many people eat. I enjoy them mashed up into guacamole. I love to use guacamole instead of mayo, especially on a blt sandwich. The flavors are just perfect together!

My go to guacamole recipe is just:

1 avocado
half of a lime, juice squeezed
pinch of salt & pepper
handful of fresh cilantro

Toss together and mash, or even use a food processor to finely grade together.

Guacamole is good with just chips, or replacing mayo, or even mixed in with soup. There are many ways to eat Avocados also. Here are a few delicious recipes that include the great green fruit. Try them out and let me know what you think!

http://omgchocolatedesserts.com/chicken-avocado-salad-roll-ups/

http://myrecipemagic.com/recipe/recipedetail/tomato-avocado-melt

http://www.cookingclassy.com/avocado-caprese-skillet-chicken/

DIY cake stand

A good friend of mine is pregnant with her second baby, which is a GIRL! YAY! I’ve decided to help host the baby shower, because who doesn’t love a baby shower? Naturally I volunteered to make the cupcakes (because in the kitchen is my favorite place to be!), as well as a couple other things for the shower.

The theme is vintage/rustic. So I wanted to build a cake stand that was going to articulate this theme and be unique. I searched the area thrift stores for pieces that I could turn into a great cake stand. I found a few serving plates, a couple candle stick holders, and a neat candy dish that serves as the top. All together these pieces cost me a total of $7.67. Sometime similar like this ( https://www.wayfair.com/Amalfi-Decor-Victoria-3-Piece-Metal-Cake-Stand-Set-AMDE1016.html  ) has a high price tag of $143.99. Doing it DIY style is most definitely creating savings! This is what I gathered:

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If you can’t find all your pieces at thrift stores, check out the dollar store where I actually got one of the pieces as pictured below. It was a clear candle holder, a little paint and VOILA!

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Now with a degree behind me of Auto Collision and Repair, I have knowledge in how to paint. So this part, painting the pieces to match, was easy for me. However for some that don’t know how to spray paint, here is a great informative video for you to understand the right way. Rustoleum is my choice of product, and go to for almost everything! They have a nice wide variety of options.

 

The first step to this DIY project would be to remove all stickers from your pieces. If some residue is left over, a little dawn dish-soap and water on a scrubbing sponge will take that off. If not some Goo Gone works great at removing sticker residue. You can find this at most hardware stores, and even some grocery stores in the cleaning isle.

After you have removed stickers you are going to want to thoroughly clean everything with a warm soapy water and sponge. After they have been washed, let them air dry overnight to be sure all water has evaporated. If you have any water left in there, this will cause issues with paint and it is not pretty! BE PATIENT!

First step to painting parts that are going to assemble together would be to paint the bottoms. The reason for this is because you want the tops to be the nicest, free of any scrapes or any imperfections.

Lay them out on something that is above the ground. this way you have access to picking them up. If you don’t have a pallet to paint on like I do, place a Tupperware bowl underneath or an old shoe box (depending on size of your pieces).

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A few tips to remember when spray painting anything:

  1. Always be in a well ventilated area.
  2. Slow and steady wins the race! (don’t try to cover in one coat)
  3. Two coats is usually enough, but three for sure covers it.

Follow directions on back of can for dry times. Generally it is dry to maneuver in 10 minutes. I wouldn’t move on to the next phase for at least 2 hours though. Allow the paint adequate time to dry before trying to glue.

Time for the final stage… GLUING!

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http://eclecticproducts.com/products/e6000/e6000-craft.html

This stuff is the BEST glue you will ever find. It can glue just about anything, to ANYTHING! Definitely get yourself a tube of this at your local craft store and keep it handy. (But away from the kids please!) This comes in black, white or clear and also small or large tubes. I always have a tube of clear E6000 in my house!

It takes about 24 hours for this to set up, so set it in a place that has some time to not be bothered. After its all glued together you’ve got a beautiful cake stand like pictured below. Please don’t mind barbie trying to photo bomb there, she just had to get her few minutes of fame! 🙂

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What DIY projects are you working on?! I’d love to hear about it!

 

Cooking with Rachel & Laura

Early Saturday morning for most children meant cartoons and cereal. I was never a “normal” child so my mornings went much different. Most weekends I would climb out of bed still dressed from the day before, how I slept in jeans I don’t know, but I was one who woke around 9am. I didn’t have a t.v. in my room so I watched t.v. from the living room In a big squishy recliner chair. You know the type that you sink into and never want to get up. With a folding tray in front of me, I generally chose to eat some toast with cinnamon and sugar like grandma always made for me.

T.V. has never really interested me, however, as a kid television was a bit of my day; every day. As a kid my morning choices weren’t Ren & Stimpy, or Hey Arnold like the rest of my peers were watching. Instead I was watching Cooking with Emeril. I learned how to cook from watching him and it is one of my passions in my life now 20 years later. When thinking about some of my earlier cooking experiences there are certainly some laughs.

About 11 years old visiting a friend’s house with no parental supervision (her mother was working in the bar below the apartment), we thought it would be a great idea to bake a cake. We had cook books, ingredients, and an oven; what could go wrong? I remember reading the cookbook and seeing ingredients but wondering what were they? We had this huge pan that was made for soup stock, and we tossed our ingredients one by one in the pan. Flour, what’s that we asked? As we looked at each other and shook our heads as neither of us knew, we grabbed some spice from the cabinet and tossed a shake or two in. I recall dumping the entire box of baking soda in the pan, what in the world were we thinking? I laugh about it now, it is quite funny. We were having so much fun just tossing things and jabbering about the excitement we were going to have as soon as the cake was done. How awesome is it that were baking a cake?!

The cake batter looked way too dry as we were getting ready to load it in the oven, so we tossed some water in it before baking. Thankfully, as we may have burnt that apartment down had we not! We set the oven on, put the pot in the oven and went back to our room to play video games. A few times we checked the cake to see how it was doing and it wasn’t turning into cake! We thought it just needed to bake longer.

A short while later my friend’s mother came rushing up the stairs in a panic that something had happened and the house was burning. With frantic expression and asking what was going on as she rushed in our room we just gleamed with smiles and said “were baking a cake!”. She pulled the pan out and showed us that we did not bake a cake, and instead had stunk up the entire upstairs and downstairs with our concoction. Darn, our prides were shut down so fast! We were really excited for cake, and we didn’t succeed.

As a mother now I laugh about stories like that because I think how I would feel if my kids did the same. I am sure that mother got a good laugh out of our cooking venture, and I hope that she taught her daughter how to bake a better cake that that! I still follow Emeril’s recipes which you can find on his website http://emerils.com/. I have never had a bad recipe from him, and his recipes are easy to follow! Got any fun cooking stories to share, comment below!

Step out of the box

Cheese… I live in Wisconsin so I have to love cheese they tell me! With a lactose allergy that is bittersweet. I do love cheese, but however I am only able to eat it a couple times a month.

While I love cheese, and generally stick to the normal colby jack or mozzerella like most folks, I do love to try new things!

Every grocery store has a section of cheeses that are different, out of the box type. Most of you probably don’t think your store has that, because most people don’t look there. I promise you it does. Check out the cheese section next time you’re in the store. Pick out one that sounds good, and google it. There are so many ways to use these good cheeses, that most people are missing out!

Butterkase is a cheese that most could recognize similar to Velveeta. It is a rich cheese, melts good, and taste heavenly paired with the right things. I found this cheese to make an exceptional grilled cheese. It has a rich butter taste to it, use it for homemade mac n cheese! You can even use this cheese for desserts, because of its buttery flavor it taste great in some pastries.

How often do you check out the “out of the box” items in your grocery store? Do you know where the specialty cheese section is?

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