Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Newest Kitchen Gadget–Power Air Fryer XL!!!

The infomercial for the Power Pressure Cooker XL playing over and over in the middle of the night to me and my young son had us both convinced many years ago that we had to have one!  And we weren’t wrong about that…we did end up buying one, and it got a lot of use.  In the end, it had some issues, and we ended up getting the Go Wise 8-qt. Pressure Cooker to take its place.  It comes out at least once or twice a week and has become instrumental in saving us time and turning out great meals, particularly in the winter months when soups and stews make a regular appearance on our menu.

So I guess it’s no surprise that the infomercial for the Power Air Fryer XL convinced me that I had to have one of those, too!  LOL.

My sister has been telling me for years how much she loves her air fryer and how it makes perfect fries…and she is a connoisseur of fries!  I’ve had it somewhere on my radar for about a year, but I just couldn’t justify the cost, nor did I know enough about them to gamble on any one brand or model.  But Steve started looking at getting me one for Christmas since I wouldn’t spend the money on one for myself, and when he found the Power Air Fryer XL on sale at Kohl’s, he came home and told me I should probably just go ahead and work out my best deal on it while it was on sale if I wanted it for Christmas, so that’s what I did!  Between the sale price, some stacking Kohl’s coupons, some Kohl’s rewards, and a $25 Kohl’s gift card I’ve had since last Christmas, I was able to get the price down to about $70!  And on top of that, I earned another $10 in Kohl’s cash and got 3% cash back through e-bates!  Then because I ordered online but picked it up in-store instead of getting free shipping, I earned another $5 in Kohl’s cash on top of that!  Not a bad deal at all.

I got the bigger 5.3 qt. model.  What I love most about this brand over the others is that it’s the only one with a copper basket.  That means it’s really non-stick, and I don’t have to worry as much about the surface peeling after repeated uses.  That’s one of the complaints I’ve seen made regularly against other brands of air fryers.  Because I love my Go Wise pressure cooker so much, I started out looking at their air fryer, but it had tons of complaints about the non-stick surface peeling off after a short time of use.  That made it a no-go for me!

I really didn’t know too much about air fryers, and I wasn’t even sure how I was going to use it.  But so far this week, I’ve tried out a number of different things in it, and it’s all turned out really well!  I put plain old frozen fish sticks and fries in it using the included divider for the basket.  I had to do a lot of shaking doing both at once because the food wasn’t in a single layer, and that definitely makes a difference. Once the fish was done, I removed the divider and laid the fries out flat.  They crisped up quickly then!  They were so good.  No burned edges or unevenly cooked fries. 

Next, I made some frozen country fried steaks.  Those turned out really, really well.  They were evenly crispy all over, and they were not greasy like they usually are when they end up cooking in their own grease in the oven.  Any oil dripped into the outer basket, and the steaks were perfect!

Then the other night, I tried out a recipe for homemade egg rolls.  I made the filling in my pressure cooker and then rolled up the egg rolls and baked them in the air fryer.  They were really crispy, and no deep fat frying!  That was pretty cool.  The key is cooking everything in a single layer.  I made a lot of egg rolls…enough for two dinners for 5 people…so I cooked them in 3 batches.  It didn’t take long, though, so doing separate batches was not a big deal.  Very cool!  And when the leftovers got soft in the fridge overnight, I just tossed them back into the air fryer for 3 minutes to crisp them up again.  Easy peasy!

Then this morning, we were pressed for time, and I wanted to bake some frozen Pillsbury Grands biscuits.  I didn’t have the kind in a can.  I couldn’t find online where anyone had made the frozen ones successfully in the air fryer, so I set the temperature at 380 degrees for 15 minutes.  They were browner than I wanted them to be, but they were fully cooked and soft inside, and they weren’t burned.  I would probably do 13 minutes next time.  Very good!  And no preheating is required with the air fryer, so it saved me a lot of time overall.

I really love how it only takes a minute to clean up the fryer basket when I’m done cooking.  I literally swish it with soapy water…the inner and outer baskets…and wipe them dry with a paper towel.  Done!  Can’t beat the easy cleanup.  So I think I’m hooked on this thing.  The texture is great, and it cooks so evenly.  Cleanup is a breeze, and it saves on time.  I’m all in!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Great Stocking Stuffer!!!

If you have kids like me, and you’re on a last minute hunt for a unique gift or a great stocking stuffer, you should check out the brand new product line from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  It’s called Magic Stix Washable Markers

You might already be familiar with their Kwik Stix and Thin Stix tempera paint sticks, but Magic Stix are an awesome new line of markers!

Here’s what makes them different:

  • You can leave the caps off for up to 7 days, and they are GUARANTEED to NOT dry out!!!
  • They are odorless.
  • They are washable.
  • They are non-toxic

They come in either a 12-pack or a 24-pack in bright, bold colors, and you can get them now from Amazon.com!  They even come in a hard plastic storage case with a carrying handle!  Each marker snaps into place inside the storage case for your convenience.

I tried them out myself in an adult coloring book yesterday, and they were amazing!  The colors were so vibrant, and they had strong tips, so I know my kids won’t push too hard and smash them.  I also really liked how I could fill in small spaces with just the tip, yet I could angle it and color with the side for a broader stroke.  And I especially liked that handy storage case!  I like to keep my markers in order by their shades of color, which is exactly how they’re packaged.  Perfect!

These would really make a great gift for children and adults alike who like to color.  Pair a set of these with a nice coloring book, and you’re all set

Happy coloring!

Disclaimer:  I received a FREE copy of this product in exchange for my honest testimonial about this product.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Scholastic Warehouse Sale

Attention educators!

Don’t forget to check the listings for your local Scholastic Warehouse Sale!  For the first time ever, they are offering Buy 1 Get 1 Free on thousands of books, including the Build-a-Box!  Just put in your zip code at the link above to find the closest book sale to you, and be sure to note whether or not it indicates your sale will be offering a Build-a-Box section. 

The coupons are a bit lower than usual.  When you register, you’ll be given a $10 off $100 coupon (usually, you’d get a $10 off $50 and a $20 off $100).  But the BOGO offer, especially on Build-a-Box, will be such a great deal all by itself that you probably won’t even miss the coupon!

I’m extra lucky this year.  Ever since they closed the Scholastic Warehouse that used to be in Chesapeake, the book sales in Hampton Roads were hit or miss, and they seemed to get smaller and smaller due to the cost of rental space in the convention centers.  But now that I’ve moved to TX, I get to once again enjoy an actual warehouse sale out in Arlington.  I can’t wait to check it out!  The selections just can’t be beat at an actual warehouse, because you have a full array of choices instead of the limited selection they haul to the smaller book sales.

Even if you don’t think you need any books, remember that the December sale, especially, usually has a lot of gift items like Klutz craft kits, science kits, Nintendo DS games, and cookbooks.  So if you have kids or grandkids, be sure to check it out!  Remember, too, that this sale is not open to the general public…it’s for educators.  Thankfully, that includes homeschoolers!  And remember to register online and print out your shopping pass to save time at the check-in registration table at the event.

Happy shopping!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Christmas Preparations

I actually got my Christmas tree put up two weeks ago.  I did something 20171128_103354completely different…I’ve had the same Victorian-themed tree for 25 years, so I figured new home, new tree.  I went and got a trio of bright, glittery colors and totally re-made my tree!  The kids love it.  Hubby likes the old one better, but he can live with it.  Personally, I think it has a modern touch, and it’s certainly festive and bright!

My oldest son planned to put Christmas lights on his day off, but my husband beat him to it.  He actually put them up last weekend!  Now that we live in a one-story house, it’s a much easier task to complete.  Last weekend, I put out my wreaths on the front and side windows since I have a corner lot, and I bought new bows to decorate them.  I also put one on my front storm door.  They look so pretty!  My husband even neatly trimmed the bushes all around so you could really see the wreaths.  I got my Christmas garden flag put out there, and I put a new holiday sign on my inner front door.  I might even get some poinsettias to place on the front porch or a couFB_IMG_1510964522734ple of small lighted trees.  I’m feeling very festive this year! 

My neighbor came over to say that she was excited to have a neighbor who also decorates their house.  She was out putting her wreaths up, as well!  I even sprang for an outdoor timer for the lights that turns on and off automatically and also has several light show effects to choose from…they can twinkle, fade, or cascade...but since we already have outdoor lighting wired on the house, my husband just tapped into that since it has a photo cell on it already.  Now there aren’t any wires or power cords hanging down.  Very cool! 

I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year, and I had a great time doing my annual Black Friday shopping spree, even though I did most of it online this year!  It was far less stressful that way.  My husband doesn’t normally shop for me until Christmas Eve, but even he shopped online for the first time this year, so he’ll be done in record time!

We took a lovely stroll through the neighborhood this evening.  We went down to French Lake, which is located in Candleridge Park within our community.  It was an absolutely beautiful night to sit on a bench by the lake and enjoy the lighted fountain in the middle of it!  We were surprised by the massive number of ducks and geese still in the lake, but then we realized that “flying south” for the winter means staying put when you’re already in Texas!  LOL

The previous homeowners really let the bushes grow up around the pool in our backyard.  My husband pretty much cut them down almost to the ground over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  We spent some time working outside today, sweeping and vacuuming up leaves from around the pool decking and in the yard and curb around the house.  It looks so lovely out there!  He even put multi-colored icicle lights around the back of the house that nicely light up the patio around the pool.  It’s very festive!  We’re really enjoying our new home and enjoy taking care of it.  We feel very blessed indeed!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

I got to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family…our first one here in Texas!  It was a little strange for me to not be having guests.  We’ve always had friends from church, friends with missing spouses, and stray relatives who happened to be in town without other family come and join us in years past.  We never like to see anyone spend the holiday alone.  But we really don’t know anyone here yet, so it was just my husband and children sitting down with me this year. 

It was actually kind of nice, but I made the same amount of food as usual, if not more, minus an extra dessert.  Needless to say, we have tons of leftovers, but I”m creatively putting them to good use! 

I made more mashed potatoes than I’ve ever made before…more than would fit at once in my 8-qt. pressure cooker…just so I could make lots of my mom’s famous fry-up for breakfast/brunch through the weekend.  Yum!  It’s such comfort food.  You basically warm up the leftover mashed potatoes with some butter in an electric skillet and throw in whatever you have left over…in this case, turkey, ham, corn, green beans, stuffing…and lots of cheese with some spices like salt, pepper, and Nature’s Seasonings and/or garlic powder.  You brown the potatoes on the bottom a bit and keep turning it over until it’s ooey gooey with melted cheese.  Then you serve it in bowls with some ketchup for dipping.  YUM, YUM, YUMMY FOR MY TUMMY!!!  We always looked forward to it on the weekends growing up, because my mom made mashed potatoes most nights of the week, so there were always leftovers.  It was her favorite way of using up the odds and ends in the fridge.  I’ve gotten my own family totally hooked on it so that they, too, look forward to it’s yummy goodness!

Tonight, I cut up about a pound of the turkey breast meat to put in some Turkey Fettuccini Skillet.  That’s always really good, too.  And tomorrow, I’ll likely add a thick layer of cut-up turkey to some Banquet Homestyle Chicken and Biscuit kits.  My kids really like that when I add a bunch of meat to it.  It’s another great way to use up all that leftover turkey!  Also, in the morning, I plan to bake up a batch of Ham Potato Puffs for breakfast.  That will use up a little of the mashed potatoes and some ham, and it makes a lot that are great to keep in the fridge for the fellas in my house to grab before work on weekday mornings.

I hope that gives you some ideas of what to do with your leftovers!  And I hope you and your family had a wonderful, joyful Thanksgiving together!  We truly have so much for which to be thankful.  Remember to count your blessings!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Halloween 2017

We started the day by going out to IHOP for breakfast so the kids could enjoy their free Scary Face Pancakes!  Hayden wasn’t going in to work until the afternoon, so he got to go with us, just like the old days. 

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Haylee turned 13 at the end of the summer, but with our recent move to TX from VA, I figured Holden would have more fun trick-or-treating alongside his sister, so I let her go again this year.  Of course, she was quite happy about that!  I had to run out the day before to find her a costume at the thrift store.  I lucked out and found the cutest Mad Hatter costume for $4.  I made a couple of quick alterations, and it was so adorable on her!  Holden decided to go as a King again, and his costume kept him nice and warm.

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I have been sick for the last 3 weeks, and I was feverish when Halloween rolled around, so I decided to drive the van and follow alongside them so I wouldn’t get a chill in the cold.  That was a good call.  I had my mug of hot tea, a pile of cough drops, and the heater running.  It allowed me to run home when somebody had to go to the bathroom, too.  It actually worked out well, because there were some big gaps between houses at times, and it kept the kids from having to walk too much extra.  For once, Holden didn’t complain about wanting to go home because he was tired of walking, and the kids stayed toasty between stretches.  They were also able to dump the buckets of candy into larger bags in the van so it didn’t get too heavy for them.

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They decided they had the best Halloween ever!  They laughed together and were so excited, and they had a such a great time!  They didn’t fight at all, and they really enjoyed themselves.  Holden kept telling me how much fun he was having, so mission accomplished.  They got great candy, too!  Our neighbors were so nice.  Steve stayed home and passed out goodie bags of candy on the porch since Hayden had to work that night.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

B1G1F Starbucks Holiday Drinks Starting Today!

Beginning today, November 9th, through Monday, November 13th, you caHero Front Cupn stop in at Starbucks and score B1G1F holiday drinks between 2-5 PM each day at participating locations.

Included drinks include the Chestnut Praline Latte, Caramel BrulĂ©e Latte, Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread Latte, Eggnog Latte, Holiday Spice Flat White, and the Teavana Joy Brewed Tea.  The promotion is meant for you to share a beverage with a friend or family member!

So check with your local Starbucks to see if they are participating.  Enjoy!

Holiday Drinks