Monday, October 31, 2011

homegrown peppers in an easy and tasty lunch - a post on semi-homemade stuffing

I harvested the last three peppers from my vegetable garden this weekend before we had our first frost and used them in an easy lunch. I had made some out of the box stuffing in chicken flavor that needed some additional spice. So I sauteed the chopped peppers with some sweet Italian sausage and then added the peppers to the stuffing and with a sausage and some breadsticks, it turned out to be a really nice lunch.

homegrown peppers add a nice little pep to the out-of-the-box stuffing
Speaking of stuffing, I used to make my own stuffing for Thanksgiving, from scratch with chestnuts and all. But over the years, I have noticed that starting with a decent boxed stuffing and adding additional ingredients to improve the flavor is a lot easier and the end-result is equally satisfying. I like to start off with Stove Top Chicken Flavored Stuffing because the flavor is very mild and the stuffing has a good consistency that you can adjust by varying the amount of liquid you use. I also, depending on what additional flavors I add, leave out the margarine to keep the fat content low. The recipe above involved the chicken-flavored stuffing because the peppers were also mild and sweet and the mild flavor of the stuffing really brought out nicely the sweet pepper flavor that went well with the mild Italian sausage.

In the past, for my semi-homemade stuffing I used a variation of the recipe here. Adding some onions, parsley, chives and chestnuts to the Stove Top Stuffing and the result is a totally homemade stuffing flavor. I like my stuffing with lots of herbs, so I add plenty of chives and parsley to mine. Keep in mind that I start off with the chicken flavor. I am not sure that I would want to add the Stove Top Herb version since that stuffing has already plenty of flavor on its own. The trick to making boxed stuffing taste homemade is to use a mild box stuffing and add herbs and onions or celery to taste.

Real Moms Love to Eat goodie bag arrived - many healthy snacks, especially for people requiring gluten free diet

I had previously posted a review of the book "Real Moms love to eat" that is forthcoming in 2012. Today, I received a goodie bag with many healthy snacks as well as some food items, such as flat bread and spaghetti from the author Beth Aldrich. You find her website here with a list of her publications. The website dedicated to the forthcoming book is here. Because the goodie bag contained too many items to list individually, I have included a couple of pictures to show what I received.

The contents, including kitchen utensils, pantry items and snacks + a bunch of coupons

These are some of the snack, including a whole jar of peanut butter
Included in the package was a jar of peanut butter in the flavor of white chocolate from the Peanut Butter Co. It is available through here. As I try out the ingredients, I will keep posting reviews. But this peanut butter has gotten excellent reviews on Amazon and it is also very healthy. The description lists the product as containing no cholesterol, no trans- fats, no hydrogenated oils, and no high-fructose corn syrup. The peanut butter is also gluten-free, vegan, and certified kosher.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Aldi specials - this week kitchen utensils

You all know by now that I love Aldi and cannot wait for a store to open finally in Durham. This week Aldi has kitchen utensils on sale. I have the silicon mats and they are very good. I use the larger one all the time for baking and I am very happy with it. Have had it for about a year and don't know why I waited so long to buy one (well one explanation is that Aldi only had it on sale about a year ago, so I could not possible find an equally cheap one before that).

Last harvest of the season - my garden experience in year 1

Yesterday, before the first frost hit North Carolina, I harvested the last veggies out of the garden. More pictures will follow, but for year one, the yield has been nice. I put in three tomato plants, two butternut squash, parsley and chives as well as a couple of pepper plants.
I have been using the herbs all summer long and been eating tomatoes and peppers and squash out of the garden as well. I still have some squash in the freezer. I usually cube the squash and roast it in some olive oil before freezing it. I also made plenty of butternut squash soup and used the pepper and tomatoes as salads or adding them to pasta dishes. I will post some of my favorite recipes over the next few months so you can find healthy and tasty uses for seasonal vegetables.
Today, I will sautee the last three pepper with some sweet Italian sausage and serve this over rice. The squash will be either roasted in the oven or used in a creamy soup with coconut milk, other veggies and curry.
Below is the picture of the harvest from yesterday. The chives will soon disappear in nicely cut cubes. I chop the chives into small pieces, then freeze them into an ice cube tray. That way I have ready size portions to use in cooking.

If anyone is still debating whether to have a garden, keep in mind that my garden is fairly small and I did not spend that much time on it. I just watered it during the really hot days and then made sure I kept the weeds in check. I would estimate that my total investment was probably around $20 for plants and then the water. I ate organic veggies throughout the year (even shared some squash with my neighbors) and most importantly, had a lot of FUN seeing things grow!

some of the squash and left over veggies from my garden

Bzzkit - Purell Jell Wrap carriers

I just got my bzzkit for the Purell Bzzcampaign and they included 4 Jell Wrapp carriers in different colors. I had admired the Jell Wrap carriers some time ago at a friend's purse, where I spotted them for the first time. So I am very happy to get a selection of them to bzz about.
The Jell Wrap carriers are the easy, secure, but fun way to make sure you never leave home without Purell. If you like me have a bottle in the car and somewhere in your purse for emergencies, you know the hassle of either cursing yourself for having left the bottle in your where it is of little use or having the uneasy feeling of having to go through your purse to find the little Purell bottle. Jell Wrap carrier will make sure that you have the Purell bottle always handy on the OUTSIDE of your purse. The carrier has a nifty little closure that attaches to the strap of your handbag as well as your kid's backpack or even your lunch bag for work. There are thousands of uses for the Jell Wrap carriers to attach to and make sure your life easier.
We all know how important it is to regularly wash our hands, especially with flu season just around the corner and Purell is one way we can kill of harmful germs. I usually have several Purell bottles around my house, such as in all bathrooms, the kitchen and the garage. Now, with Jell Wrap carriers, I can have Purell with me wherever I go!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walmart open in South Durham - MLK and South Roxboro

Today a new Walmart store opened in South Durham. The store is located on the intersection of MLK drive and S. Roxboro, near the Kroger grocery store, CVS and Wendys and the entry of the Hope Valley Farm subdivision.
I stopped by briefly this evening to see about the store layout and the prices.  They do have a good selection of grocery items as well as the traditional Walmart offerings like clothing, electronics, home decor and auto supplies. I did not buy much since I know that Harris Teeter and Kroger have certain items cheaper this week because of sale prices. I did notice that the milk in Walmart was less than $3 a gallon. If this is the regular price, then it will be a good place to buy milk if there is not sale ongoing in another grocery store.
They do have a nice deli, I did not try any of the food. I chose to buy some bananas and some Halloween candy which were reasonably priced as well as buy the  Walmart creamer for which I have the mail in coupon.
Overall, competition never hurts and maybe the other grocery stores will have some items such as milk on sale more regularly. But I did not find items to be in general much cheaper than in the stores, especially when you shop sale items, I will still be stopping by Harris Teeter and Kroger.

6oz steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse - used my coupon today - Review!

Today I used my coupon for a free 6oz steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse, I chose the Outback Special 6oz Sirloin classic, which is seasoned and grilled.
The description from the menu states: Classic Seasoned & Seared is Our classic bold style, seasoned & seared on a red hot grill.

As a side, I chose a baked potato with sour cream and chives. They always serve nice warm bread and butter as an appetizer and I chose Pomegranate Ice Tea.

I have eaten at Outback Steakhouse several times, but mostly as a mystery shopper that was supposed to sample new menu items. So this is actually the first time that I have eaten their classic Sirloin steak. It was very good. The food was piping hot, both meat and potato. I could really taste the spices that the steak was rubbed in. They gave a nice kick to the meal. I had ordered the steak medium, which for Outback means pink on the inside. This preparation really brought out the flavor of the meat and allowed for the spices to come through nicely and complement the steak flavor. I did NOT use steak sauce and I would not recommend to anyone covering up the flavor of this sirloin with any kind of sauce. If the cut of meat is good and the preparation is good, no steak sauce or sauce of any kind is needed.
The baked potato was hot and created a nice contrast to the cool sour cream added on top. They add a generous supply of sour cream and most importantly fresh chives to the potato. If the potato is good, it can really be ruined by adding dried chives. Fresh chives have a much more intense flavor and provide a nice crisp texture to the smooth sour cream and soft potato.
The Pomegranate tea was not sweet at all and I could really taste the Pomegranate. I had to decide between Pomegranate and Mango, but because Mango Iced Tea is more frequently available, I opted for the more unusual Pomegranate flavor and I was happy I had done so.

Overall, I was very happy with the meal and can recommend their steak in the classic style for anyone who likes to treat themselves to a steak dinner. Since it comes in three different sizes, it will suit the small and not so small appetite.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book review for foodies: "Real Moms Love to Eat"

I stumbled on a website called "Real Moms Love to Eat" when I was looking for some recipes to use up my loads of butternut squash still growing in my garden. After donating to my neighbors, I am still stuck (but do not mind) with plenty of butternut squash. Here is the entry I found on why squash is good for you.

The website "Real Moms Love to Eat" is associated with an upcoming book called “Real Moms Love to Eat: How to Conduct a Love Affair with Food, Lose Weight and Feel Fabulous” (New American Library, a Penguin Books Imprint, January, 2012) by author, Beth Aldrich, Certified Health Counselor. 

The book is broken down in three sections, which include a fun and easy-to-follow 10-part plan for moms to implement to make gradual, life-long changes in their approach to food and 21 days of meal suggestions,tips, recipes and lifestyle changes—all to help you continue your love affair with food to look fabulous. The best thing about Beth’s approach to healthy eating is fact that it is achievable even on the busy schedule that most women have (admit it, when do we ever have too much free time?). The book is all about learning useful tips about the food we eat, while understanding why some foods are better for us than others and getting some tips about trying out new, healthy food items that are fun and good for you! 

To celebrate the launch of the book, there is a contest with winners chosen randomly on 1/3/2012 and notified by email. 

How to enter:

  • Participate in the twice-a-month pre-order book giveaway, hosted by the site here: (LINK: . You get on entry for pre-ordering the book and another one for signing up to receive Beth's newsletter.

Disclosure: I was gifted from Restoring Essence Nutrition, LLC-owner of Real Moms Love to Eat, a free copy of the book, “Real Moms Love to Eat” and a Food Affairiate goodie bag for participating in this virtual tour and writing about this book pre-order contest.

Free Ice Cream Pizza Sample at Marble Slab Creamery - Durham location listed as participating

Free sample: Get a free sample of Ice Cream Pizza at Marble Slab Creamery® today, October 24th, from 3-6pm, as part of Go PINK for Pizza! for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

Marble Slab Creamery at Northgate Mall - listed as participating location on company website
1058 West Club Blvd., #730
Durham, NC 27701

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Free sample FIBER CHOICE

Go to the Fiber Choice website here and request a free sample. You will need to provide name and address as well as create login information for the page.

There is also a coupon for $2 off available at the website.

The submission of the login credentials is secure since the website is set up with SSL encryption (look for any website that starts with or supports https://), one of the benefits of Glaxo maintaining the website.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Free in home hair coloring by John Frieda® Hair Care. - must meet eligibility requirements

Go to the Walmart site here, you will be asked to complete a short survey to determine your eligibility to receive a free product from John Frieda for in home hair coloring.
This will be really useful for those people who want to try out the John Frieda in home hair coloring products such as people that already color their hair at home and, while using John Frieda products, may use a competitor's product to color their hair. Good luck!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Employee Appreciation Day at UNC - a nice experience and a special treat

So today UNC had its annual employee appreciation event. My fear had been that with all the budget cuts and layoffs the event would be somewhat depressing. Also the person that used to head the event is no longer at UNC, so I was curious about the outcome. I had volunteered in the past with the set up of the games and it was always a good way to meet new people and be involved in the UNC community. This year I really did not have time to volunteer, so I was only a visitor.
I got there early, but the line for lunch had already formed and so I joined and loaded my plate with hamburger, some really good pork BBQ, chips and pasta salad. They also had cookies or brownies for dessert as well as fresh fruit and soda.
I managed to find a table with a person from the south side of campus and soon we were talking shop since we work in somewhat related areas. Three other people from the South Campus joined us and we discussed this event compared to earlier years and agreed that the event turned out better than we had anticipated in light of the tight budgets. The food was very good and after we finished eating, we split up to see about the games and booths they had. After picking up my required samples of pencils, post it notes and pens, I actually was brave enough to participate in the games and ended up winning on the first two.
The waterbottle and backpack will be added to my North Carolina Tarheel collection and a couple of the refrigerator magnets will be given to some of my friends who are UNC alumni, but work at other places. Since they are still ardent UNC fans (and actually end up going to more football and basketball games than me), I know they love anything that is unique and UNC.
Overall, it was a well organized, successful event that everyone I talked to enjoyed. Thanks UNC HR!

water bottle and backpack that I won at the UNC Employee Appreciation Event!

Dr. Lewinn by Kinerase bzzkit - new anti-aging cosmestics

Yesterday I received my bzzkit for a campaign to promote Dr. Lewinn by Kinerase anti-aging treatments.
The website for the products is here. I have not tried the products yet, but the website states that the products contain clinical strength kinetin, which is the active ingredient of the Kinerase line with the ability to turn back the clock and make skin appear younger. According to the website, kinetin is the super antioxidant plant complex in all Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase® products and responsible for helping skin cells act younger for longer.
I received two full size samples. one sample for the Under Eye Recovery treatment, which I am very much looking forward to trying out since the skin under the eyes is especially sensitive and can easily form wrinkles. The other sample is for the anti-wrinkle daily cream with SPF30. I am glad to get samples that I can use all day long. I plan to apply the daily cream in the morning and usually apply any cream for my eyes at night, so this combination of products is a perfect for my routine.
I also received a number of samples that include a pretty good value coupon for buying additional Dr. Lewinn products.
Below is the picture of the bzzkit:

Harris Teeter eVIC specials for the weekend

Saturday Only Special! Mars Fun Size Candy Bars - 11-11.24 oz : eVIC Member Price October 22nd ONLY - $1.77 ea - Limit 3
Saturday Only Special! Betty Crocker Tuna, Hamburger and Chicken Helper - 4.7-7.25 oz : eVIC Member Price October 22nd ONLY - $0.87 ea - Limit 6
Fritos or Cheetos - 12.5-14 oz : eVIC Member Price - $1.77 ea - Limit 2
Barber Chicken Nuggets and Strips - 38 oz : eVIC Member Price - $6.77 ea - Limit 2
Quaker Instant Oatmeal - 14 oz : eVIC Member Price - $1.97 ea - Limit 3
All Cobblestone Mill Buns and Sub Rolls - 12-24 oz : eVIC Member Price - BUY ONE GET ONE FREE - Limit 2 FREE
Red Baron 2 Pizza Slices - 9.9-11.1 oz : eVIC Member Price - $2.77 ea - Limit 2
Lifeway Kefir - 32 oz : eVIC Member Price - $2.97 ea - Limit 2

Eversave - one day only deal - Coffee from Hawaii $30 worth for $15

Raleigh / Durham NC area only -

$15 for $30 worth of premium coffee from Coffees of Hawaii

Go to the site here and get $30 worth of coffee for $15. This is similar to Groupon - a one day only deal .

When we awaken to gray skies, bare branches and winter frost, it's easy to yearn for a stay on a sunny tropical island. While we can't give you a morning in Maui, we think this taste of the tropics should warm you up a bit: Pay just $15 for $30 worth of premium coffee from Coffees of Hawaii and say "Aloha" to whatever weather winter sends your way.

Grown in the abundant sunshine, rich volcanic soil and cool tropical rains of Kona, Maui and Moloka'i, these exotic roasts offer a flavorful taste unlike any other. Try the Full City Ka'u Loa, a dark, rich roast with hints of chocolate, raspberry and dark cherry. The milder Hilo Kanilehua is the perfect pairing with morning pastries or delectable desserts. Most selections are available in a variety of grinds, from whole bean to espresso, so you can take your cup any way you'd like it.


shipping free on orders for more than $49

valid until 9/30/2012

buy up to three saves today

Since this is not a local company, I highly recommend to go to the website linked above and read ALL deal details and restrictions!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free Renuzit Holiday Air Freshener - mail in rebate

Go to this site and download the mail in rebate form - all instructions are on the form as well as images of eligible products.

Website for mail in rebate form: HERE

Specifics for the deal:

Purchase a Renuzit® Holiday Fresh Accents™ Long Last Air Freshener in Winter Berry or Festive Snow®
fragrance, at your favorite retailer between: 10/03/11 and 12/31/11

Mail to:
Renuzit® Holiday Fresh Accents™ TMF
DEPT #:DH11-7846
P.O. Box 472
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-0472

A refund via mail for up to $2.29

Terms and Conditions:
Offer valid on Renuzit® Holiday Fresh Accents™ Long Last Air Freshener, in Winter Berry or Festive Snow® fragrance. Consumer is responsible for sales tax, only the purchase price will be refunded up to $2.29. Requests must be postmarked by January 31, 2012.

Facebook La Creme Coffee Creamer - mail in rebate form - available at Walmart and Lowes

I checked, this item is available at Walmart in Durham (New Hope Commons) and Lowes (RTP location) per the company's website.

Download a mail in rebate form from La Creme’s Facebook page “like” them first, then print the rebate form to get back up to $2.99 on your purchase of a 16 oz. creamer.  Promotion for free creamer ends December 31, 2011.

Aldi has German week - including Spaetzle, sausages and breads

Allright, stopped by Aldi today in Cary and loaded up on German delicatessen at really, really reasonable prices. No Christmas items yet, except for the Dominosteine, but I bought everything to make a real German meal out of this - Strammer Max - see description below.

The available items are: campaign - Purell Portable Solutions


I have been invited to participate in a bzzcampaign on Purell portable solutions and wanted to let you know about the new products that Purell is offering. 

If you are a busy mom or anyone trying to handle a tight schedule, you do not always have to walk around looking for a restroom, so Purell is a good quick fix to ensure that the germs are not spread as easily. I like the jelly wrap portable solutions because they look trendy, are easily clipped to a purse, and come in a variety of colors. 

So go to the Purell homepage at and check our their products.  


Free Nescafe - Peppermint Mocha sample - Facebook account required

Go to the Nescafe site on Facebook here and complete the address information. You must like the site to have the address lines appear.
Six pack of Nescafe sample should arrive within 6 to 8 weeks. - Enjoy!

Blackadder season 2 for free on iTunes

For those who followed Rowan Atkinson before he became Mr. Bean and starred in movies that made it to the USA, iTunes is now offering the second season of Blackadder for viewing at no cost.
Go here and enjoy!

For those new to Blackadder, but eager to see Rowan Atkinson is a different type show, with the same caustic wit he displayed in some of his stand up comedy, a quick summary of Blackadder:
The filthy genes of the Blackadder dynasty bubble back to the surface of the melting pot of history for a second series. Now a favourite at the Court of Elizabeth I, Edmund Blackadder keeps his head from being chopped off by the capricious Queen with rapier-sharp wit, cunning and bravado. Meanwhile, his rival Lord Melchett loses no opportunity to try to disgrace him. Once again Blackadder is accompanied by a small rabble of riff-raff, including bottom-breath Baldrick and pea-brained Percy, together they manage to lower the whole tone of England's Golden Age. Classic comedy starring Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson.