Archive for November, 2013

There are a thousand recipes for taco salad out there and I am not a huge fan so I have not tried many.  I do however, love my grandma’s taco salad!  It is fairly simple and makes a great “group” meal.  We have it nearly every time the whole family gets together.

1 lb ground beef

1/2 pkg taco seasoning

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 avocado, sliced or chopped

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded

1/2 cup salsa of your choice

1/2 of a 16 oz bag of tortilla chips

1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, sliced so it falls apart nicely in the bowl

1 cup french dressing of your choice

Brown and drain your ground beef and then return it to the pan.  Sprinkle and mix in the taco seasoning (use 1/2 the package but don’t worry, it does not have to be exact).  Keep on low heat to keep it warm while assembling the rest of the salad.  In a large bowl, add all of your ingredients (when adding the chips, I grab by the handfuls and sort of squish or crush it a little as I add it.  This way it breaks up the chips into smaller pieces).  Stir well and serve with salsa and sour cream.


This recipe serves 6 to 7 people as an only dish.  I imagine if it was served as a side dish or in a potluck setting, it would go further.

Erin, The Burbs


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My mom recently asked me to come up with an idea to help her re-organize her jewelry and still make it “attractive” looking because there is no door between her bathroom and bedroom and she did not want the jewelry to be unsightly.  After some Pinterest research and innovative thinking, I came up with a solution that seemed to work very well.

We started with this.  The necklaces were piled on hooks on the wall which truthfully did not look bad I guess but it wasn’t very functional and they were so close to the shower that they were starting to get weather worn.


The earrings were on a small rack on a table, along with many other things 🙂

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Now, for the end result!


First of course, we went through the pile of stuff on the table.  It is one of those areas that just accumulate things and most often, when you go through those places in your house, you find that more than half can be tossed in the garbage or re-organized to a new (more fitting) place in your home.  Next, handled the necklaces.  We installed a curtain rod on the wall and hung shower curtain hooks on it to hold the necklaces.  Make sure you get an S hook or some style that you can just hang the necklace on.  It may be a pain in the buns to have to undo the hooks every time you want a necklace off of it (we wanted look AND function here).  The brilliance here:  Double hang shower hooks!  These are designed with TWO hooks on each one.


Next, we tackled earrings.  This took a little more prep and craft.  I purchased two 8 x10 frames from Hobby Lobby (on sale so it is price conscious) and removed the glass and used pliers to remove the little metal prongs that hold the back in.  For the dangled earring with the hook on the back, I simply used hanging wire (from Joanns but you can find it almost anywhere that sells frames), just be careful not to put kinks in it because you can see them in the end if there are some.  I picked where I wanted the wires to sit and measured on both sides so that they were straight.  If they are not, the earrings may slip down to one side.  I glued one end of the wire to the inside of the frame on the back (with a hot glue gun), cut to fit, and then glued to the other side using pliers to hold the wire tight while the glue dries.  Finally, attach something to the back that you can use to hang the frame.


Now for the stud type earrings.  I removed the glass and prongs again and hot glued window screen into it.  I used an aluminum screen.  To make this easy to access the earrings, rather than hanging in on the wall in a normal fashion, add small hinges to one side and attach it that way.  It will then swing open so that you can easily get to both sides.

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That’s it.  It is pretty and functional.  It is pricey compared to a simple earring holder but not super pricey I guess.  The frames were $6 each, the wire was $3 I think, the screen I already had on hand but probably cost about $6 (although you will only use a SMALL amount), and I don’t remember the cost of the hinges.  For the necklace arrangement, the hooks cost about $7 for 12 of them and the rod cost about $10.  It is a more expensive arrangement of jewelry but it holds a lot, keeping it all out so you can see it and still looks organized.

Erin, The Burbs

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This past weekend Erin and I got to spend a few hours together, this is very rare I mean like once every six months it seems nearly impossible for us to both get some time together and when we do, we usually go to lunch. This time we went to a place called Mimi’s Cafe. This restaurant is part of a chain that spans almost the entire southern half of the united states. If you have a Mimi’s and you haven’t been go there you wont regret it. My recipe tonight was inspired from a sandwich I ate this last time I visited.

La Femme

You will need:


Whole grain artisan loaf

lettuce or fresh greens



cheese your choice I added Swiss

classico brand pesto sauce


(it looks like this)

2 Chicken breasts


So first things first you need to cut your breast in half butterfly style so you can thin them out.

Pour about a tablespoon of EVOO  in a pan and toss your breasts in with a little salt and pepper. Fry these at medium high heat.

Meanwhile take about a 1/3 cup of  Mayo and 3 tablespoons of pesto (more or less to taste) and mix in a small dish.  At this point I added the cheese so it could melt once I had turned the chicken.

Slice up your bread loaf and butter both sides of the bread and toast lightly in another pan. Keep a watch on your chicken as you do not want it to be over done.

Once you bread is toasted your meat should be about done turn off the heat and let it rest for a few min while you build your sandwiches.

La Femme Sticks style

La Femme Sticks style

I spread the sandwich spread on both slices of bread then add lettuce and tomatoes I put the chicken on and.. voila it’s a la femme. I served this sandwich tonight with a side of soup however the sandwich is more than filling served alone.


Kimmy (the sticks)



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My family loves cheesesteaks and I don’t mind making them but sometimes the meat is a pain in the butt!  Slicing it thin is tedious.  Anyway, for a quicker version, with less to do, I decided to do a ground beef version.  In the end it tasted like Philly Cheesesteak and looked like Sloppy Joes so it is so named…Sloppy Cheesesteaks.

Here is what you will need:

Sandwich or Hamburger Buns

1 lb ground beef

1 yellow onion, chopped or thinly sliced

1 bell pepper, chopped or thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4-5 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup beef broth

2 T cream cheese

1 T Worcestershire sauce

Provolone or American cheese slices

Start by browning 1 lb of ground beef in a large pan or pot.  Strain fat and set aside.  In the same pan (add about 1 T of cooking oil if your meat did not leave enough), add 1 chopped or thinly sliced onion, 1 chopped or thinly sliced bell pepper, and about half of an 8oz package of sliced mushrooms.  If you are a mushroom fan like me, you can sneak it a little more than that  😉   Cook that, stirring often, on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.  Add 2 cloves finely chopped garlic and continue cooking, stirring often, for another 2 to 3 minutes, until all the vegetables are softened.  Now, throw the meat back in, and add 1/2 cup beef broth, 1 T Worcestershire sauce, and 2 T cream cheese.  Reduce heat to a medium and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often.  That is basically it.

There is debate as to whether Provolone or American cheese is proper for a Philly Cheesesteak.  I haven’t (and won’t) do the research to discover truly what is correct but I just say this, Go with what you like!  I prefer provolone, Husband prefers american.

Pile some meat on a bun and place a slice of Provolone or American cheese on top.  With the sandwich still open faced, place on a rack in the oven with the oven set to broil.  Allow to broil just long enough to melt the cheese.

Serve while warm!

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Erin, The Burbs

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Husband and I had an idea that we thought may be great.  We have not done it yet, so keep that in mind.  This is a try at your own risk sort of idea.  We thought we would give the kids a set of coupons for their birthday to give them exceptions to the rules that normally don’t get exceptions.  We have things like a free day off school, a curfew extension, etc.

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Some of the coupons have fine print and some have the “right to refuse” by the parents.  Here is the reason.  We have a “skip school” coupon.  If there is something that I truly think my child is avoiding at school that I think they shouldn’t be, I might refuse the coupon.  However, it is something that I really do want to try not to refuse, even if its hard.  For example, we have a “skip chores” coupon.  If my child decides that she wants to skip chores one day and her room is a disaster area and we have company coming tomorrow, I know I would want to refuse the coupon but that is the point of these.  It allows them to exercise some privilege that I may not LOVE!  So if her bedroom is a hazard zone that should be quarantined by the CDC and I have company over, I will deal with it.  Its not the end of the world.

I am hoping this will give them some excitement and allow them some control.  Kids love control more than anything and the reality is that this will allow them to exercise some control within our approval.  I am also hoping that this will have some natural consequences.  While I won’t let my kids skip school on a test day because they should not be skipping tests, it would be great if they missed an event or something so that they understand whether worth it or not, there are natural consequences to decisions.

If you want to give them a try, get them here or make your own.  I would be interested to hear your experience with them if you try them out!

Erin, The Burbs

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A couple weekends ago a neighbor in town brought a couple of very large boxes of apples to my house. They had picked what was left on their tree and were giving what they had away. I of course do not ever like to see food go to waste so I decide to give my self a try at apple butter.  Here is what I used….

About 35 small very small apples different varieties

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups granulated sugar

4 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp all spice

1 tsp ground cloves

3 TBL spoon lemon juice

Okay First things first peel and core your apples I had a lot of apples I just peeled and cored them with the help of Mountain Man until it filled up our crock pot.

Peeled Sliced Cored Apples, In a large Crock Pot.

Peeled Sliced Cored Apples, In a large Crock Pot.

Turn the crock pot on low, meanwhile mix all of your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then cover your apples with the mixture. Put the lid on the crock pot and walk away.

After about 2 hours pull the lid off and take a potato maser to the apple and start to break them up a bit.

apple butter 2At this point your house will smell amazing. Mix it up and walk away again.

After about 8 hours my mixture was really breaking down so I turned the pot on high and let it cook another hour. After that I pulled my mixture out and dumped it in my ninja to whip it up. After it was a smooth consistency I poured it back into the crock pot and let it cook with the lid off for another hour, until it was the thickness I liked.

I put my fresh apple butter in some jars and gave them a quick hot water bath so I could store them in the cupboards. For directions on hot water bath canning click here.

I dove in as soon as I whipped this up, Of course after all that work I really didn’t get that much but it is so worth it. Get yourself to an orchard pick some apples and make this today. I’m serious it will be worth it I promise.

apple butter jarsKimmy (sticks)

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As soon as Halloween is over and November arrives, I start to think about Christmas.  I like to have a stress free December so I like to get organized and begin my gift purchasing in hopes to be done mid December 🙂  Today I have a couple of different gift lists.  One for the family and friends that I typically only purchase one gift for and one for my kids, who we have to purchase more than just one gift for.  I find getting this stuff all listed out helps when it comes to saving during sales.  If I know what I want, I don’t have to waste time browsing and then missing out on deals.

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If you would like them, you can download them here.

Yay for the Holidays!

Erin, The Burbs

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