Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creamy Jello Salad

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Sometimes I think my sisters is a nicer reincarnate of Martha Stewart. If it is delicious, she baked it. If it is creative, she made it. I am lucky to have such a wonderful sister, because I get to glean amazingly delicious goodies from it. Here is one of my favorite recipes she has shared with my recently. It made the perfect addition to our Thanksgiving table and I plan to make it for Christmas too!

1 large box cook and serve vanilla pudding (It has to be cook and serve, not instant)
1 large box of raspberry jello
3 cups boiling water
1 tub of cool whip
1 quart of strawberries, washed and cut

Boil the three cups of water. Add the water to the pudding and jello, stirring until dissolved, then place in the fridge over night. Before you are ready to serve stir up the jello and then add the cool whip, mixing until well combined. Toss with the fruit and chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Perfect Pre-baked Pie Crust

One of the ways I make my Thanksgiving dinner prep a little less stressful is to bake my pies the day before. I always make a couple of pies for our small family and one of them needs a pre-baked crust. This is my absolute favorite recipe to use for pre-baked crust.This recipe makes two bottom crusts for pre-baking or one complete pie crust.

You will need:
2 and 1/2 cups flour (Plus a little extra)
2 sticks frozen butter (Just trust me and throw your butter into the freezer a few hours before you are going to make the crust)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6-8 Tbsp cold water
tin foil
rice or beans

Mix together the flour (minus the little extra), salt and sugar together. Cut the butter into small segments and add, mixing until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water, one tbsp at a time until the dough holds together. Split the dough into two equal amounts. Knead gently to form two discs, don't overwork the dough. Sprinkle each disc with flour and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge for at least one hour.

Pull out your discs and roll them out into crust. Press the dough gently, adding more flour if you need it, into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim the excess. Place the crust into the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will keep your crust from slipping down the sides.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line the pie crust with aluminium foil and fill with rice or beans to weight the crust down. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the aluminum foil and weights. Poke a few small holes in the bottom of your crust with a fork and then return it to the oven. Bake for 10 more minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let the crust cool before you fill it with your favorites!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WoW: Open a Link in a New Window -- Hallelujah!

If you've been hanging around here more than 6 months, you may remember that I am conceited and published my own Gospel (of Links) back in March. And, if you actually read that series, you may remember that we talked about using the fiery tags of HTML to make links open in new windows.

But now, the Google gods have listened and, hallelujah! No more do we Blogger-mortals have to manually add HTML to have a link open in a new window!

Now, when you create a link, just click the "Open link in new window" box:

So much better, right?

And to have an image link open in a new tab, just hover over the image and click Edit Link in the small menu that shows up, and then check the same "Open link in new window" box.

Note: this feature works for me whether I am logged in to Blogger or Blogger in Draft, so it appears to be a full-fledged feature and not a testing feature... let me know if you don't see it in your Blogger interface. :)

Quick review of when to use this new power (for good and not for evil)
When a link (image or text) is going to take readers outside of your blog, it's probably good to have that link open in a new tab. Meaning, it's my personal preference as a reader. But... you can read the full details here of why this may or may not actually be important to you on your blog.

And, if you're new or need a refresher, you can (re)read the my four-part Gospel of Links, According to Lu series:
Peace, prosperity, and happy linking!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Best Tomato Basil Soup

Cold rainy days make me crave soup. Any kind of soup, but particularly this one. I didn't grow up eating tomato soup, but my husband did and so I kept working on a recipe for it until I stumbled upon the right combination of tomato. This is one of our favorite meals and I probably make it once a week in the winter.

You will need:
12 ounces of tomato sauce (This is about 1.5 cans)
2 cups of chicken broth
1/4 tomato paste
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 lb of ground beef, crumbled and browned with salt and pepper
8 oz of small pasta shells, cooked according to package direction
1 tablespoon basil

Whisk together the tomato sauce and paste over medium heat until smooth. Add the chicken broth and milk, whisking as you go. Add the meat the and pasta, stir together until well incorporated. Sprinkle the basil on top. Serve immediately.

I love to serve this dinner with homemade rolls or bread sticks, or even in bread bowls. Soup is one reason I will always love the winter, or in our case, the lighter summer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WoW: A friendly reminder...

...to change your passwords!

Daylight Savings Time ended on Sunday, for those of us who live in DST-observing areas, so that means that once again, it's time to change your passwords and the batteries in your smoke detector, too! Oh, and your clocks... if you haven't done that yet...

I won't repeat the entire security spiel and password speil... here's the cliffnotes version for a review. (If you're a new WoW reader in the last 6 months or so, you might want to read the whole spiel this time and then you catch the review here again in another 6 months. :)

Step 1: create a new strong root password. A strong password...
  • is not a word that can be found in the dictionary
  • does not include personal information for you or your family (names, birth dates, etc)
  • contains 7+ characters
  • uses a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (* . ?)
  • is easy for you to remember and hard to guess, such as a the first letter of each word in a line of your favorite song or a unique phrase
example: sr.tR4k! (derived from the phrase "silly rabbit, trix are for kids!")

Step 2: Update to your new password as you go, adding a site-specific prefix/suffix to your strong root password (explained in more detail here). Every time you log in to a new account over the next week (or however long it takes), take a minute to update your password to the new password. 
example: add the first letter or two to the beginning or end of the root password, such as disr.tR4k!, sr.tR4k!d, etc for a  Disney account

Other tips:
  • For your most important accounts (such as online banking), I suggest creating a different strong password. An extra precaution to keep important things extra safe.
  • When you come to a site that won't allow a part of your strong password (such as an !), just drop it from the password and make a note of it in your password list. Your password list should contain ONLY enough information to jog your memory as needed, not enough information that someone who is not you could figure out your password from the information there. The list should definitely NOT contain your actual password. :)  
So, any questions? Or suggestions for how to break it to my husband that I've changed the passwords yet again, when he was just remembering the old ones? :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Make Baked Potatoes in your Crock Pot

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I LOVE baked potatoes and if I fry up some real bacon for bacon bits, I can even convince my husband that they are an entire meal. Did you know that you can make amazing, delicious baked potatoes in your crock pot?  They are so good and fluffy. I love putting them in the crock pot and not worrying about them all day. They are so easy to make, here's how.

The first think you need to do is wash and dry all of the potatoes. Wrap them each in aluminum foil and put in the crock pot. Cook the potatoes on low for about 6 and a half hours. Check the potatoes, if soft they are ready to eat, if not allow them to cook for another hour. I have never had them not be soft after 6 and a half hours. Unwrap and then top with all the yummy things you love. Some of our favorite toppings include, bacon, sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, diced avocados and BBQ sauce, not necessarily all together of course. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Make Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

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 I have loved mozzarella sticks for as long as I can remember. My dad loves them too and it use to be our special treat to share. I have passed down the mozzarella stick love to my daughter and in fact, mozzarella sticks are on the short list of things she will actually eat, so we have started making them at home. They are REALLY easy and really good.
You will need:
String cheese sticks (Or a brick of mozzarella)
Flour (In its own bowl)
two eggs, slightly beaten (In its own bowl)
Italian bread crumbs (In its own bowl, make sure they are Italian or there won't be any seasoning)

First open your string cheese from their wrappers, or cut your mozzarella brick into strips. I always cut my string cheese in half, I think it makes easier to manage cheese sticks. Coat the cheese sticks in flour, then egg and finally the bread crumbs. Make sure they are good and coated or too much cheese with ooze out.
 Fry in hot oil until they become crispy. Enjoy hot! The longer you let them cool down, the less melty the cheese inside will be.
They aren't the best thing for you, but hey, they sure are delicious!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WoW: Pintiquette, or The Art of Politely Pinning

I am no Emily Post.  (I know you're surprised. ;)

I am terrible at sending thank you notes, formal introductions give me hives, and my elbows end up on the table at some point during most any meal.

However, I do believe in being generally courteous and polite, even if I'm no stickler for being absolutely proper. And generally, being polite is more a matter of being aware than of knowing and observing specific social rules. Courtesy is especially important in social situations, such as social bookmarking. (Did you catch that segue? :) 

Just like you can be a polite driver by being aware of others and giving them a comfortable amount of space, you can be a polite pinner (or a polite bookmarker on another social bookmarking site) by following a few basic courtesies (from the people at Pinterest themselves):

Pin (or bookmark) from the original source.  If you see a project featured somewhere (such as an Etsy shop featured on a blog), click over to the original source (the Etsy shop listing) and THEN pin it from there.

Pin (or bookmark) from permalinks. A permalink is a link that will always link you back to a specific thing -- a permanent link to something like a blog post, news article, or shop listing. By pinning a permalink, you ensure that both you and anyone else who is looking for the original source of the pin (see above) can find it quickly and easily with no searching around through archives to find the intended item.

If at all possible, do not pin an image from a Google Image Search or only an image from a blog -- pin the original page/article/blog post that the image comes from in order to ensure that the original creator receives proper credit. 

If you're not sure if your link is a permalink, take a look at the URL (the web address). URLs these days, especially on blogs, are usually fairly easy to decipher.
  • If the URL contains a phrase or abbreviation akin to "search results" or "label", you'll be pinning the results of a search or anything on that blog with that label, not a specific post on the blog.
  • If the URL is just the blog address, you'll only be pinning the blog itself and not a specific post on the blog.
  • If the URL ends in .jpg, .png, or .gif, you'll be pinning only an image and not an article or blog post. And that makes it very hard for someone else (or your future self) to find the original source.

Give credit and include a thoughtful pin description. It's polite to the creator to give credit and it's polite to both the creator and other pinners to include a description beyond "so cute!" A good description helps other pinners know what the pin is about and also helps Pinterest's search be as accurate as possible.

So, what do you do if you notice that another pinner isn't being polite? Treat the situation like when someone cuts in front of you in line at the grocery store: presume it wasn't intentional, point out the lapse in courtesy, and then let them respond. Just like most line-cuts are accidental, so are most impolite pins. Just leave a comment on the pin with the correct source and leave it to the pinner to correct it.

And what if you are (accidentally, of course) the impolite pinner? It's easy to correct the pin to show the correct, original, permalinked source. This actually happened to me just last week, with a photo I had pinned from Facebook without noticing that the link wasn't correct. :)

Just view the pin, click edit and copy and paste the correct source into the link box.

Save the pin and -- voila! -- your inadvertent lapse of Pintiquette is corrected.

Obviously these courtesies apply to any social bookmarking service that you use, as well as to any situation where you are sharing something that you found elsewhere online. And, in any on- or offline situation, it never hurts to just be nice, like your mother taught you.

Go, pin, and be polite. :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.