Thursday, January 10, 2013

Early Valentines Day Ideas

Valentines Day

A day of romance with your valentine

If you are celebrating this Valentine's Day with a significant other, put some thought into it ahead of time to make the day truly special. Your plans don't need to be expensive or elaborate to impress your valentine; they just need to be genuinely from the heart. Here are some Valentine's Day ideas for any budget:
  • Rather than one big gesture, fill your valentine's day with many little reminders of your love. Leave notes in the bathroom or fridge for him or her to find. Have a single long-stemmed rose delivered at work. Sneak home early to light candles around the house, and put a small but sweet gift on his or her pillow at bedtime.
  • Relive some highlights of your life together by recreating special moments. Return to the scene of your first date, or plan a theme for the evening that recalls a trip or experience you shared. What was the first movie you saw together? What was the common interest that initially attracted you to each other? Women, think of an outfit you wore on an early special occasion with your beau and try to recreate it. It may surprise you, but he'll remember.
  • Whisk your valentine off on a romantic getaway. Book a room at a bed and breakfast or luxury hotel, and forget all about the outside world. Whether it's for a night, a weekend or longer, some time dedicated to each other is guaranteed to recharge the relationship.

Romantic Dinner

Valentine's Day wouldn't be complete without an intimate dinner for two. There are two different directions to take on this one:
  • Romantic dinner in – Turn down the lights, light some candles and put soft music on the stereo. Prepare a special dinner of your valentine's favorites, or plan a classic romantic menu of creamy seafood pasta with chocolate and strawberries for dessert. Even if you're not a great cook, you can still sweep your valentine off his or her feet and tickle his or her palette with a selection of fine cheeses, high-quality deli meats, artisan bread and gourmet pickles, olives and relishes, followed by fresh fruit and real whipped cream.
  • Romantic dinner out – Book a table at a swanky or trendy restaurant, dress to the nines and get out on the town. Let the chef take care of the menu and let the wait staff tend to the details. All you have to do is savor the food and gaze into one another's eyes. Just a warning, though: Make your reservations well in advance to avoid being disappointed. Any restaurant worth its salt will be booked solid on February 14th.

Valentine's Gifts and Cards

Although your actions are more meaningful than anything that comes from a store, somehow it just seems wrong to meet your valentine without a card and gift in hand. The traditional Valentines gift of flowers, chocolate and jewelry never fail to please. If you're anxious to seem more original, give your valentine something that relates to one of his or her passions. She's a music lover? Get her tickets to see a symphony or a set of high-quality headphones for her mp3 player. He's into motorbikes? Get him a subscription to a motorcycle magazine or an upgrade for his bike.
If you have kids, help them to make valentine gifts to give to friends and family. Equip them with a box of valentines to distribute to their classmates, or make your own with pink index cards, valentine-themed stickers and glitter glue. Even little ones appreciate the sentiment of the holiday, and enjoy a day of expressing fondness for their loved ones.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Soups for cold winter days

Beef and Cheddar Soup


3 tablespoons margarine or 3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 cups leftover roast beef
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cheddar cheese soup
10 3/4 ounces milk (one soup can full, or less if you want a thicker soup )
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  1. In a small bowl mix together soup and milk, remember if you want a thicker soup use less milk.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat, then add onion and cook until soft.
  3. Then add roast beef and stir until heated through.
  4. Add soup/milk mixture and stir well.
  5. If using the red pepper flakes add now,cook and stir for about 10 minutes or until heated through.

Five-spice Chicken Noodle Soup

2 cups water
1 (14 ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 green onions, thinly bias-sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups chopped bok choy
1 medium sweet red pepper, thinly sliced into strips
2 ounces dried somen noodles, broken into 2 inch lengths or 2 ounces fine dried noodles
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken


  1. In a large saucepan combine water, chicken broth, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, five-spice powder, and ginger; bring to boiling.
  2. Stir in bok choy, sweet pepper strips, and noodles; return to boiling, reduce heat; boil gently, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes or until noodles are tender,.
  3. Stir in chicken, heat through and Serve.

Yummy Dinner Ideas

Baked Pesto Chicken

Angel Hair Pasta with French Bread

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup basil pesto
2 plum tomatoes
shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover cookie sheet with foil.

2. Put pesto and chicken in bowl. Toss until chicken is covered.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
4. Place slices of tomato on top of chicken and sprinkle with cheese.
5. Bake another 3-5 minutes.
6. Serve with a box of angel hair pasta and herbs and French bread.

Crock Pot Burgundy Beef

Egg Noodles

2¼-2½ lbs. pot roast
1 can condensed beefy mushroom soup
1 can condensed creamy mushroom soup
1 cup sliced mushrooms or chopped onions (optional)
¼ cup  cranberry juice


 1. Trim fat and cut meat into 1-inch pieces. Place in crock-pot.

 2. Stir in soups, mushrooms or onions if desired and wine.
 3. Cover and cook on high 4-4½ hours or low for 8-9 hours.
 4. Serve over cooked egg noodles.

Blue Ribbon Chili

Buttered Cornbread

2 pounds ground beef
½ onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
2½ cups tomato sauce
1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
4 Tablespoons chili seasoning mix
1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans


1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired.

2. Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix and kidney beans.
3. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Cornbread Ingredients:

1½ cups cornmeal
2½ cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
cup white sugar
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, combine corn meal and milk; let stand for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
4. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.