Fueling Up To Play This Summer

SPECIAL NOTE: Congrats to Ice Cream Machine winner: Julie M who said “Chocolate Mint is the Best!”  Julie, we will be in contact soon!  Congrats!

By Mary Nicholson

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of summer.   Time to kick back and relax, right?  If you’re a parent of school-aged kids, summer may be your busiest time of year!  When my kids were in grade school, I often felt like a camp counselor during the summer, trying to keep them occupied and busy, but at a more leisurely pace than the school year demanded.

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Portable Potfuls- the perfect one pot meal!

By Michelle Plummer

When I first began cooking I would get so frustrated with the Crockpot.  It wasn’t until I went to culinary classes and realized a crock pot is a small version of a steam jacketed kettle without the steam!  NO more burnt fondue, gravies or nacho dip!  Well imagine my surprise when you could actually make wonderful meals….not like meatloaf and potatoes like my Mom, but a Mexican fiesta, a delicious chicken in wine; macaroni and cheese!  I have learned to enjoy my Crockpot so much, I now own several!  While you are out playing or working in the yard, swimming, or just to lazy to cook….Crockpots make the worst cook look like a superstar and those who like to cook, it gives you freedom!  Here are 3 easy recipes you may wish to try!  So select your favorite recipe tell us which one you like and possibly you will be soon have a story to tell about your summer time one pot portables!

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

1 32 oz. bag of frozen southern style hash brown potatoes
1 lb. of bacon cut into pieces, fried and drained
1/2 cup diced onions
3/4 lb. cheddar cheese diced
1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
salt & pepper


1. Layer the frozen potatoes, bacon, onions, and cheese in the crock pot in three layers. Finish up with cheese.

2. Beat the eggs, milk and mustard, salt &pepper together. Pour over the whole mixture.

3. Cook on low for ten to twelve hours


Crockpot Tortillas, OLE’

1  10 ounce can Rotel
4 chicken breasts, bnls, sknls
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
3 tablespoons dry onions
Sour cream, grated cheese, sliced green onions, salsa, taco sauce

Place rotel, chicken, spices and onion in Crockpot.  Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8.

Shred chicken, stir mixture and place 3 tablespoons on tortilla and garnish with toppings.


BBQ Green Beans (you have to try these at least once)

3 ounces bacon bits bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
6 ounce can sliced water chestnuts
3 cans cut green beans, drained

Place all ingredients in Crockpot, cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5.  I can almost promise the pickiest eater will eat their veggies!

Summer Chillers

By Diane Ruyack

What’s more refreshing than a frozen drink? If you’re looking for a delicious, healthy snack your kids will love, then a smoothie is a great choice. Or if you want to serve cooling refreshments to your summer guests, then a frozen specialty is just the ticket.  It takes only 5 minutes to add another fruit to your kids’ day with this deliciously smooth and refreshing orange smoothie. Your kids will enjoy helping you prepare this quick and easy drink that doubles as a sweet, zesty and filling healthy dessert or snack that you can feel good about.   But there’s more to it than just tossing ingredients into a blender. Follow these secrets to making the perfect fruit smoothie or frozen drink and you’ll become an expert:

1. Freeze the fruit ahead of time. It doesn’t matter whether your smoothie recipe tells you to do this or not, this little trick will make for a thicker smoothie. Wash your fruit, cut in bite size pieces (slice bananas), spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze. When your fruit is frozen, you can pack it together in a storage bag or container in the freezer. For best results, use within 2 weeks.

2. Use fresh ripe fruit for the best flavor.

3. When the recipe calls for ice, crushed ice is best. If you don’t have crushed ice, you can always place ice cubes in a sealable plastic bag on a cutting board and “crush” the cubes with a hammer, rolling pin, frying pan, etc.

4. The blending order is important. First add the cold liquid, then the fruit, and last add the frozen yogurt (or ice cream) or the ice.

5. Considering using a Smoothie Maker. They really work Unless you have a powerful blender, it will labor when pulverizing ice.

How to Fix a Less Than Perfect Recipe

Making smoothies and frozen drinks is not an exact science. You can start with a recipe and always change and improve it. Here are some basic tips to adapt any smoothie recipe to your own tastes and requirements.

To make it thicker: Add more ice, frozen fruit (especially a banana), frozen yogurt, ice cream or sherbet

If it’s too thick: Add milk, water, or juice and blend again. Be careful when adding a lot of juice, because it will change the flavor of the frozen drink.

To make it creamier: Use ice cream, frozen yogurt or vanilla yogurt instead of the ice.

To reduce calories: Replace whole milk with skim milk. Use frozen yogurt or sorbet instead of ice cream. Add fresh fruit instead of sweetened frozen fruit. Use a sugar substitute. Choose nonfat yogurt over regular yogurt.

To make it sweeter: Add honey, maple syrup, a little sugar (superfine or confectioner’s sugar blends best) or Splenda.

If it’s too sweet: add a little lemon juice or even lemonade.

To add fiber: Add ground flax seed, wheat bran, wheat germ, and leave the skin on the fruit.

To add extra flavor: Use very ripe, quality fresh fruit. A little cocoa powder gives it a chocolatey flavor. Try a few drops of almond extract or some of the other fruit extracts sold in the baking section of the supermarket. Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg.

To make it lactose free:  Use lactose free milk and yogurt.


Frosty Orange Smoothie

Yield 1 serving


1/2 cup fat-free vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup orange juice

1 orange, peeled and frozen

1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)


1.Place all ingredients in a blender and combine.




Yogurt Fruit  Shake, Your Way


Two 8-ounce containers any flavor yogurt

1/3 cup cold milk

3 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate



Place all ingredients in blender and blend, covered, until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately in three tall, chilled glasses.

History of Ice Cream and a Ice Cream Machine Giveaway!

By Michelle Plummer

The origins of ice cream can be traced back to at least the 4th century B.C. Early references include the Roman emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68) who ordered ice to be brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings, and King Tang (A.D. 618-97) of Shang, China who had a method of creating ice and milk concoctions. Ice cream was likely brought from China back to Europe. Over time, recipes for ices, sherbets, and milk ices evolved and served in the fashionable Italian and French royal courts.

After the dessert was imported to the United States, it was served by several famous Americans. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson served it to their guests. In 1700, Governor Bladen of Maryland was recorded as having served it to his guests. In 1774, a London caterer named Philip Lenzi announced in a New York newspaper that he would be offering for sale various confections, including ice cream. Dolly Madison served it in 1812.

Methods and Technology

Whoever invented the method of using ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of ice cream ingredients during its making provided a major breakthrough in ice cream technology. Also important was the invention of the wooden bucket freezer with rotary paddles improved ice cream’s manufacture.

Nancy Johnson and William Young – Hand-Cranked Freezers

In 1846, Nancy Johnson patented a hand-cranked freezer that established the basic method of making ice cream still used today. William Young patented the similar “Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer” in 1848.

You can find more on ice cream history here.

As for a delicious homemade treat in the area…have you visited Cooks Candy Shop?  They are making homemade ice cream daily and their own toppings!  Just up the road in Anderson, it really is the perfect Sunday drive to relive some of the good old days of cranking ice cream machines on the back porch, licking the beaters and the ice cream melting down your arms…just a bit of nostalgia!

Well, you now know the store of ice cream making and a place to go get ice cream, but how about making it on your own?  Just tell us your favorite flavor ice cream in the comments below and you can enter to win a Cuisnart Ice Cream Maker (pictured above) so you can be the neighborhood ice cream shoppe!

Winner will be selected at random on 7/15.

Active Summertime Fun

Summer’s here and with it comes memories of some of the fun games we used to play while growing up. We played outside, it seems all day until dark. We did all the usual things like riding our bicycles, jumping rope, playing wiffle ball, softball and baseball. We had chores and picked berries for our moms to make pies and jam. We went fishing and flower picking and decorated the tiny cemetery at the edge of the woods. We went swimming and caught lightning bugs. We explored our surroundings, gazed at the clouds describing what we saw and galloped everywhere on our pretend horses.

We played together and had such fun out in the backyard playing games like Hide and Go Seek; Statue (Swing Statue); Red Light-Green Light; Annie Annie Over; Red Rover; Freeze Tag; Wheelbarrow races where one was the wheelbarrow and one held your ankles and raced you to the finish line; we sometimes used real wheelbarrows and one was the rider and one the driver—then we switched so everybody had a turn.

Statues: One player is chosen to be “it.” He or she takes each of the other players in turn and, holding them by a wrist or hand, swings them in a circle and then lets them go. The swung player must freeze as soon as possible and hold that position as long as possible. The first player to break the freeze becomes “it “The entertainment value comes from seeing the strange positions that players end up in and watching them try to hold those positions.

Red Light/Green Light: One person is designated as “it” and plays the part of the stop light. The other kids line up about 20 feet away from “it.” Facing away from the other kids, ’it’ calls out “Green light!” The other kids move toward “it.” “It” then calls out “Red light!” and turns around quickly. Any of the kids who are caught moving must go back to the start line. Play continues until someone reaches and tags “it.” That person then becomes “it.” The trick to winning this game is to move smoothly so that you can freeze instantly until you are within reach of “it.”

Red Rover: Two teams. Form two lines facing each other about 30 feet apart. The team chosen to go first calls for a runner from the other line saying, Red Rover, Red Rover, let Bonni come over. Bonni then takes off running and tries to break through the other line. If she breaks through the line, she chooses one of the kids to take back to her line. If she doesn’t break through she stays. The game ends when everyone is in one line.
For more ‘old-fashioned’ summertime fun visit http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/277311/50_ideas_for_oldfashioned_summer_fun.html?cat=25
For more classic kids games visit http://grandparents.about.com/od/projectsactivities/tp/OutdoorGames.htm

Fourth of July: Couscous with Tomatoes, Sautéed Spinach & Two Cheeses

By Michelle Plummer

Celebrate the Fourth of July!  The Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.  I thought I would gather some fun facts of Thomas Jefferson and others to share with your friends as you celebrate the 4th of July!  The answers are at the end.

  1.  Who is Dabney Carr?
  2.  Name 3 inventions of Jefferson’s?
  3.  Why is the no billiard room in Monticello?
  4. What contest did Jefferson enter but did not win?

This recipe was selected because of the ease and simplistic manner it can be made.

Couscous with Tomatoes, Sautéed Spinach & Two Cheeses

Makes 6 servings

1 cup each couscous and water (all to rest 10 min)
1 (8-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1/4 cup red onion, sliced into rings
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
10 cups fresh spinach (10 ounces)
1 tablespoon water
6 ounces Cabot cheddar (reduced fat),grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil sprigs for garnish
1. Prepare couscous; set aside.

3. In large skillet over medium heat, combine onions, garlic and oil; stir until onions are heated and fragrant. Add spinach and water; stir until spinach is wilted and tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes.

4. On large platter, layer couscous, spinach mixture and tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheeses and garnish with basil.

Nutrition Information: Calories 221, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 4g, Sodium 334mg, Carbohydrates 27g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Protein 14g, Calcium 270mg

Note:  this recipe is great with cucumbers, green onions, feta cheese, green peas, green beans, but remember to keep it simple!


Trivia Answer:

  1.  When Jefferson was a boy, he and his best friend, Dabney Carr, used to rest under an oak tree not far from the site on which Monticello was later built. The two boys pledged to each other that when they died, they would be buried together under that oak. While Jefferson was away in Europe, Dabney died and was buried in the local cemetery. When Jefferson returned, he ordered the remains disinterred and redeposited under the oak, as promised. Jefferson and his family were later laid to rest in the same spot.
  2.  Jefferson was a gifted inventor, who devised dozens of handy gadgets for his personal convenience. Among his noteworthy inventions are a revolving chair, a pedometer to measure the distance of his walks, a walking stick which unfolded into a chair, a plow that won a gold medal at a French exhibition, a revolving music stand, and a letter-copying press.
  3. Jefferson originally designed Monticello with a billiard room in the dome, but before it could be completed, Virginia had outlawed billiards.
  4. In 1792 Secretary of State Jefferson secretly entered a contest to choose the architect to design the White House, but the prize went to James Hoban of South Carolina. Jefferson had entered the competition under a pseudonym and never told his friends about his failure. His participation was not discovered until the 1930s, when it was found that one of the unsuccessful designs submitted by an unidentified person exactly matched a drawing in one of Jefferson’s personal notebooks

Laugh for International Joke Day- its good for you!

Laugh! It is good for your health!

Today is International Joke Day! Good or bad – it’s time to test your best jokes or share funny YouTube videos. I know I would not be able to get through the day if I couldn’t laugh and find humor in my every day routine. And I ALWAYS find something to make myself laugh!

I searched the internet for the oldest joke, and I found one from approximately 5,000 years ago! That’s right, quite possibly the oldest known joke in the world. Originating in China during the Bling-Bling Dynasty, which was marked by having enormous jokes written in gold inlay on elaborate ceramic urns, this joke is sometimes thought to be the very first joke ever written that included a question mark. Are you ready?


Q:  Two silk worms were in an obstacle-course race. What was the result?

A:  … A tie.

Aside from the obvious benefit to joke-telling –laughter, there is also a health benefit – laughter! What can laughter do? Here are just a few things: 

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
  • Give a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
  • Defend against respiratory infections
  • Increase memory and learning
  • Improve alertness, creativity, and memory
  •  To get you in the joking mood, here are a few CHEESY cow jokes:

Q:  What are the spots on black-and-white cows?

A:  Holestains

Q:  Why does a milking stool have only three legs?

A:  Because the cow has the udder.

 Q:  Why do cows wear bells?

A:  Their horns don’t work.

 Q:  What do you call a cow who just recently had its baby?

A:  Decalfinated

 Finally, here is a light-hearted video that will make you smile, as well:


 So kick back today, tell joke, and spread the laughter.