Product Review: Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap, Available with the Reusable Pump and Disposable Base

If you’re looking for an easy way to spruce up your home for spring, look into the inexpensive extras that can turn an ordinary room into a pretty, relaxing sanctuary. You can add fresh flowers, potted plants and flowers, and even scented candles for an immediate visual, but don’t forget to spruce up your towels, tissues, and hand soap, too. The Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap collection is a perfect match for spring and Easter decorating, thanks to the vibrant colors and nature-inspired designs.

What’s unique about this product line is that you have your choice of buying the pump and the disposable base together at first, but when it’s time for a refill, simply recycle the disposable base and insert the pump into a new bottle of Softsoap Ensembles hand soap. When that base is used up, rinse, wash, repeat, as they say.

The Softsoap Ensembles line features two nature inspired designs under the name Fresh Essence – a purple floral design and a green leaf design. The collection also features a Moroccan inspired design with a blue base named Exotic Orchid and a minimalist inspired design with a white base known as Creamy Cotton. The pumps for each of the varieties are a shiny silver gray color, offering a nice look to any bathroom. The variety of styles and designs in the Softsoap Ensembles collection makes it easy to redecorate your bathroom at a moment’s notice. Simply choose the disposable base that best fits the season or your mood.

The fragrance of Fresh Essence is soft, delicate, and lightly floral, offering a delightful scent that lingers. Softsoap’s Ensembles hand soaps do not dry out your skin, which is a welcome benefit any time of year.

Softsoap’s new Ensembles collection offers a low-cost way to bring spring into your bathroom or kitchen with colorful hand soap dispensers that look like the traditional porcelain style. Beginning in March 2009, Softsoap Ensembles are available in grocery stores and mass retailers nationwide. The Softsoap Ensembles starter pump retails for $5.99 and the replacement disposable base retails for $2.99. Softsoap Ensembles are also available online at Amazon.com:

Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap Replacement Base – Fresh Essence: 8.3 OZ – Pink and Purple Flowers

Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap Replacement Base – Fresh Essence: 8.3 OZ – Green Leaves

Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap Replacement Base – Exotic Orchid: 8.3 OZ

Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap with Reusable Pump – Creamy Cotton: 8.3 OZ

Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap with Reusable Pump – Exotic Orchid: 8.3 OZ

Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap with Reusable Pump – Fresh Essence: 8.3 OZ – Green Leaves

Softsoap Ensembles Hand Soap with Reusable Pump – Fresh Essence: 8.3 OZ – Pink and Purple Flowers

Healthy School Lunch Guide – Lunches that Kids and Even Adults Will Enjoy

Creating healthy school lunches that children will actually enjoy and eat to the last tiny morsel is not as easy a task as one might think. It’s often difficult to find healthy items to purchase when shopping for school lunches. Check out these healthy school lunch ideas! (Photo by Susan M. Keenan)Plus, it’s difficult to get your kids to want to eat these food choices when everyone else around them has French fries, candy, chips, and cookies.

Try and think about how difficult it is to discipline yourself to continue eating the green salad and crisp apple that you packed for your own healthy lunch while all of your coworkers are sitting there munching their fast food meals that smell so good and pre-wrapped goodies that look so good. There’s good news though because despite the initial difficulty one might experience when looking for healthy school lunch choices, it is more than possible to find healthy options that everyone in the family will enjoy. Read on to discover several healthy food options that will have your kids helping you to pack their lunch boxes each day.

Back to Nature Snack Blends

Back to Nature offers several delicious varieties of their 100% natural nutty snack mix. My family has tried three of these so far and to be perfectly honest with you, I cannot wait until I try all of them. These snacks are so good that trying not to hog them all for myself instead of sharing with the kids is a difficult task. That’s great news for you though because these are healthy foods that offer lots of nutrition without the “bad” ingredients that prepackaged foods often include.

The three varieties that my family tried include the Back to Nature Bar Harbor Blend, Pistachio, Cashews & Almond Mix, and the Nantucket Blend. Each of these treats is sold in a generous 10 ounce package that provides more than enough for several children to enjoy with a bit leftover for the adults in the household as well. It is recommended, and I heartedly agree, that this snack be given only to children 6 years of age and older.

The Back to Nature Snack blends are easy to package for school lunches since you can place small portions in snack-size Ziploc baggies or small containers. Plus, the sweetness of the dried fruit eliminates the clamoring for candy while the crunchy goodness of the nuts eliminates the clamoring for salty chips.

Back to Nature “Bar Harbor Blend”

Bar Harbor Blend by Back to Nature (Photo by Susan M. Keenan)This delightful mix of cranberries, dark chocolate covered almonds, and vanilla almonds is one of my personal favorites. In fact, this is one of everyone’s favorites in my family simply because it has just the right blend of crunchy goodness, chewy texture, and delicious flavoring. Anticipation fuels the kids through their morning when they know that this Back to Nature offering is sitting in their lunch pail or bag.

The crunchiness of the almonds satisfies the need most humans have to chew and chomp on food that tastes good while the sweetness of the cranberries offers the counterbalance of chewy goodness. It’s a tough choice to pick a favorite from this selection of nuts and fruit from Back to Nature since each one of them tastes out of this world!

Pistachio, Cashews, & Almond Mix by Back to Nature (Photo by Susan M. Keenan)Back to Nature “Pistachio, Cashews & Almond Mix”

Delicately roasted with sea salt, this nut mix is perfect for little fingers and hungry appetites. Offering a big taste without the added oils and salts that so many snack mixes come with, the Pistachio, Cashews & Almond mix provides a perfect treat without the undesirable residue provided by so many other nutty snacks. In fact, this is a perfect snack for children after they have finished eating their main lunch course. There’s no need to worry about oily fingers creating difficulty packing up their lunch items for the next day. One tip that I have to offer is that you should only give the Pistachio, Cashews & Almond Mix to a child who enjoys pistachios because this flavor permeates the cashews and almonds totally.

Back to Nature “Nantucket Blend”

This is the perfect blend for those who cannot make up their mind between a fruity snack and a nutty one. The 10-ounce package is jammed pack full of pistachios, almonds, dried cherries, raisins, and dried cranberries. More likely than not, your kids will enjoy every handful of this tasty treat that is 100% natural and contains no harmful additives. The nuts in particular do pose a choking hazard in children younger than this. The presence of the pistachios does not seem to have an effect on the dried fruit in the Nantucket Blend however. This particular blend offers a greater portion of dried fruit, so it is an excellent choice to add into the lunches of picky eaters who typically avoid fruit and veggies.

Back to Nature Snack Cracker Blends

Try Back to Nature crackers for a healthy lunchtime snack. (Photo by Susan M. Keenan)While these crackers are flavorful enough to stand alone on their own, combining them with a small container of your child’s favorite dip is an excellent idea. Not only does this simple touch increase the pleasure of a healthy and tasteful lunch, but also, it gives you the chance to switch it up several times throughout the week.

One of the benefits of this healthy snack is the fact that it comes without trans fat or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. What could be more natural than a cracker made with flavor that comes from Mother Nature herself? These Back to Nature cracker blends are sold in 6.5-ounce boxes that are easy to store and just as easy to tuck away into a briefcase for a mid-afternoon snack for yourself.

Sesame Tarragon Crackers

A crisp six-sided cracker, the Sesame Tarragon cracker offers a satisfying, hearty flavor that undoubtedly includes both sesame and tarragon. The flavors are distinctive enough to stand out while blending together in a satisfying culinary taste temptation. For those children who want something more than just a cracker, adding small squares sliced cheese in the lunchbox will give those little fingers something to do as they put together their own mini-sandwiches. I found that any one of the Back to Nature cracker blends could easily be substituted for the less healthy snacks of potato chips or salty pretzels.

Sunflower Basil Crackers

You get a hint of the lightness of this cracker blend from the soft yellow coloring of the 100% recycled paperboard box. Offering a unique blend of sunflower kernels with fragrant basil, this savory cracker gives a satisfying crunch with a taste that simply melts on the tongue. Children love this flavor whether they are eating it solo or with a bit of cheese. In fact, this cracker is great for in between meals in add
ition to lunches. It’s light enough to satisfy transient hunger pangs without completely ruining dinner. This flavor is great for younger kids who have discerning taste buds that prefer simple tastes to strong ones.

Poppy Thyme Crackers

Packed full of flavor, this cracker not only feeds the tummy, it also feeds the spirit. From the moment this cracker hits the tongue, you get a sensation of just how healthy it truly is. There’s no heaviness filled with salt and artificial flavorings at all. Instead, the cracker tastes fresh and filled with natural flavor. Kids like its speckled appearance thanks to the tiny poppy seeds that contribute to the great taste. This particular flavor stands alone well but it can also be paired up with a bit of cheese or even a tiny scoop of flavored dip. It’s satisfying while being healthy and nutritious.

Back to Nature Cookies

Try Back to Nature cookies for a healthy lunchtime snack. (Photo by Susan M. Keenan)Back to Nature Cookies are available in three tasty varieties including Fudge Mint, Fudge Striped, and Vanilla Wafers. The packaging is attractive giving this product a good edge against other popular brands of cookies that are just as attractively packaged. The package size ranges from 6.4 ounces to 8.5 ounces depending on the variety that you select. Since no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors are used in Back to Nature Cookies, these are an excellent and healthy option to most preprocessed cookies on the market today. Plus, there are no hydrogenated oils or fructose corn syrup in them either. It’s almost as though mom herself baked these cookies.

So far, my family has only had the opportunity to try the Fudge Mint flavor. Pleasing in taste and satisfying to hunger pangs are two of the phrases that come to mind for this tasty treat. These are great additions to any healthy school lunch since they offer that added taste of wetness that most of us crave once we’ve eaten the main food sources in our lunches. It’s nice also that these cookies are individually partitioned in the package so they don’t stick together.

More Healthy School Lunch Snacks, like Granola, Sandwich Thins, Bars, and more…


Budget Proof Your Vegetable Garden with these Economy Friendly Gardening Tips

Gardening is a popular hobby that also helps individuals and families save money by growing their own food. You can easily budget proof your vegetable garden with a few economy friendly gardening tips for getting healthier crops, producing larger yields, and spending less on gardening equipment, supplies, and water bills.

To save some money on your gardening efforts, try some of these tips for a budget proof garden and a reduction in gardening costs.

1.    Start your seeds in egg cartons. If you start saving your egg cartons up over the winter, you should have a nice supply of perfectly-sized seed cells just waiting for your veggie garden seeds. You can also feel good about being green – reduce, reuse, recycle!


2.    Save seeds from good crops each year.
If your green beans do really well or if you just love how your cucumbers turned out, be sure to save a handful of seeds so you can enjoy a similar crop the following year. The Kitchen Garden Box: Save and Sow Seeds of Your Favorite Vegetables by Mike McGrath, host of Public Radio’s “You Bet Your Garden,” offers countless tips on saving, drying, and storing seeds, as well as a number of seed envelopes to keep your seeds safe and available for next year.

3.    Repurpose your college black lights. Simply pick up a “grow light” at Wal-Mart or a home improvement store and swap out the old bulb for the new one. This is much more economical than buying the entire grow light kit they sell online, and you can use a variety of materials and shelving to create your own plant light environment.

4.    Start your own compost pile. If you want to improve the quality of your veggies without commercial fertilizer, you can always try composting. “My tip would be to create your own compost using yard clippings and kitchen scraps,” says Kristin Grilli of Burpee. “Compost is really great for the vegetable garden.  Plus, it is much more cost-efficient to create your own rather than purchase it from a garden center.” For additional tips on composting, see: http://www.howtocompost.org.

5.    Pay attention to the instructions on each seed packet or starter plant. If your veggie plants prefer partial shade and you plant them in full sun, you may not get the results you are looking for, and in fact, might not see the plants come to full term if the sun is too hot for them. Plant your vegetables in their preferred locations when possible and you should notice they will eventually repay the favor.

6.    If you don’t have good soil, create your own “garden boxes” or garden beds using eight-foot long 2x4s. For each garden box, you need two boards for a four-foot square garden bed, three boards for a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular garden bed, or four boards for an eight-foot square garden bed. For a four-foot square garden box, simply cut each 2×4 in half so you have four-foot lengths. Nail or screw them together and paint them your desired color with spray paint. For the larger size garden boxes, simply nail or screw together the four boards in a large square and then paint them your desired color. Fill the frames with topsoil and compost or manure and enjoy your new garden beds!

7.    Improve your soil before you plant your vegetable garden seeds. If you don’t have good soil to begin with, you can improve the soil quality by mixing in compost. Mike McGrath, author of The Kitchen Garden Box: Save and Sow Seeds of Your Favorite Vegetables, shares that yard waste often makes great compost for home gardens.

Mike McGrath's 8.    Install a rain barrel for watering. Gardeners can easily save a few bucks with this tip. “This way they can cut down a bit on their water bills by using rain water harvested in their rain barrel for watering the vegetable garden,” says Kristin Grilli of Burpee.

9.     Use Epsom salt as a low-cost alternative to fertilizer, pest control, seed starters, and more. You can feed your tomatoes with Epsom salt as well as your houseplants, roses, and more. For additional gardening tips using Epsom salt, see: .

10.    Get creative with the products and recipes you use with the crops you harvest from your vegetable garden. Try new recipes each year or make your own seasonings, condiments, and sauces. Mike McGrath’s The Kitchen Garden Box: Save and Sow Seeds of Your Favorite Vegetables offers tips and recipes for making your own pickles, paprika, hot sauce, tomato sauce, relish, and more.

Tips on Growing Your Own Berries – Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Currants, Gooseberries, Grapes, and Hardy Kiwifruit

Whether you want to save a little money on your grocery bill this summer or you’d like to broaden your gardening horizons, growing berries in your own backyard can be a wonderful pastime that saves you money and brings delicious homegrown fruits to your family’s dinner table. Fruit gardening – specifically growing your own berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and more – can be fun, rewarding, and more than likely, easier than you would expect.

Homegrown berries are delicious.

Stella Otto, author of The Backyard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to growing berries, brambles, and vine fruit in the home garden, offers professional tips and tricks to help you grow your own berries in your home garden. She shares fruit gardening tips for berries of all kinds – raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, and hardy kiwifruit. Whether you are a beginner at gardening or a longtime gardening pro, consider Stella Otto’s tips and tricks and get started growing your own berries in your home garden.

Raspberries are a great berry bramble to grow in your home garden.Q. Life Love Beauty – What kinds of berries are best for beginners who want to grow their own fruit?

A. Stella Otto – All of the traditional berries are quite easy to grow in the backyard garden. Brambles, that is raspberries and blackberries, seem to be some of the most popular and easiest to start with. Currants and gooseberries are also very trouble free. These are great choices because they are either quite expensive or not even available in the grocery store. Strawberries are also good because they are quick to come in bearing and so much sweeter from the backyard garden.

Q. Life Love Beauty – What kind of soil do these berries need, and what can you do if your soil is less than optimal?

A. Stella Otto – A fertile, well-drained, sandy loam soil is ideal. Soil should be tested for pH (acidity or alkalinity) with a range around neutral, from 6.5 to 7.0, preferred by most berries. The exception is blueberries and lingonberries, which prefer a more acidic soil in the 4.5 to 5.0 range.

For less than ideal soil – heavy clay or dry sandy types – adding organic matter or compost will eventually help improve the soil drainage or moisture holding capacity. Realize this is an ongoing process not a one-time instant fix. Planting in raised bed can sometimes be a quicker solution if the soil in the beds is well amended.

Q. Life Love Beauty – How much sunlight do the various kinds of berries need?

A. Stella Otto – Most berries require at least 6 hours of sunlight as a daily average to set fruit buds and ripen the fruit. In hot southern climates, some fruit – brambles, grapes, and kiwifruit may need protection from excessively strong afternoon sun. Planting on the east side of a building or in the shade of a large tree can accomplish this. Currants and gooseberries may drop their fruit if temperatures regularly exceed 90 degrees. Consequently, they do not grow well in the Deep South.

You can grow strawberries in containers in your home garden.Q. Life Love Beauty – Where is the ideal location to grow Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, etc.? (Along a fence, next to a shed, in a garden bed, in a barrel or container, etc.)

A. Stella Otto – Any of these locations will work equally well. The important factors are to see that the soil fertility and drainage are appropriate, they receive adequate sunlight and water, and that they do not have heavy competition from weeds. For convenience, you may also need to consider how easy it is to tend the fruit if it is grown on a supporting trellis as you would grapes, kiwifruit and some brambles. Also, remember that containers will dry out more quickly than a garden bed and water accordingly.

Q. Life Love Beauty – How much water do the various kinds of berries require?

A. Stella Otto – The rule of thumb is one inch of water per week. It doesn’t matter whether this comes from rain, irrigation, or a combination of the two. Consistent moisture yields the best quality berries. Trickle irrigation is easy, effective, and water saving. It also helps reduce spread of diseases since it does not wet the foliage or fruit.

Q. Life Love Beauty – Can you provide any other tips for beginners who want to grow their own berries?

A. Stella Otto – One of the most important aspects of growing a bountiful harvest is making sure your planting area is well prepared before planting. It is especially critical that it is weed free. If you have not gardened before, start small. You will be happier with a luscious harvest of berries you have time to care for than struggling with a large overly ambitious project. Get to know the needs of one or two of your favorite fruit the first season and then add more types or varieties as you gain experience.

You can enjoy a generous harvest of your homegrown berries.Q. Life Love Beauty – How long is the harvesting season for each kind of berry?

A. Stella Otto – Most berries have roughly a month long harvest season, although you can stretch this a week or two in many cases by planting several varieties of the same fruit; an early, a mid-season, and a late maturing variety. Of course, if you are growing several kinds of berries, you’ll have something ripening for most of the summer – starting with strawberries, then blueberries, currants, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes – into the fall, depending on what you’re growing.

Q. Life Love Beauty – Do berries need any special care tips, such as pruning or fertilizing?

A. Stella Otto – Each berry has its own cultural needs. All of them will need some fertilizer or compost annually. Don’t over-do the nitrogen fertilizer though or you will have vigorous leafy plants that don’t produce as much fruit. Except for strawberries, most should receive fertilizer in the early spring. Strawberries should be fertilized when beds are renovated after harvest is over. Bush and vine fruit should be pruned annually, usually in late winter or early spring. Brambles should have “spent” fruiting canes removed after harvest as well as having excess new canes thinned out.

Grapes are easier to grow in your home garden than you would expect.Q. Life Love Beauty – Is there any effective way to keep the birds and animals from eating all your homegrown berries?

A. Stella Otto – Protecting plants with netting as fruit is close to ripening is probably the most effective. “Scare eyes” sold in nursery catalogs can be effective in some cases, but will not deter robins or starlings. Unfortunately birds can be a nemesis. Sometimes it’s easiest to just plant a bit of excess and expect to have to “share.” In some areas deer browsing on plants can be a problem. Flicker tape, hanging scented perfumed soap or fencing may keep them away. A family dog that patrols the garden has been most effective, where this is possible.

Q. Life Love Beauty – Where is the best place to get your starter berry bush?

A. Stella Otto – I prefer to get mine from mail order nurseries that specialize in fruit. They offer the widest selection and usually have varieties to suit many different growing locations and conditions. Their staff is also typically best educated to make good recommendations if you are not sure what would do well for you.

Q. Life Love Beauty – Can you grow berries from seed?

A. Stella Otto – Most berries are grown by cloning or division. This insures that they will be true to their variety type. Cloned plants also have less time between propagation and fruit production. One exception is alpine strawberries. They can be grown from seed much like one would grow vegetables such as lettuce or carrots.

Keep Reading: Can you propagate your own berry bushes… and More…

Tips on Using Epsom Salt in the Garden as Fertilizer, Pest Deterrent, and More

If you’re looking for inexpensive ways to improve your gardening techniques this year, the answer might already be sitting in your bathroom closet or medicine cabinet. Growing vegetables for less can be a snap with some homemade, garden-friendly recipes using Epsom salt. Epsom salt, also known as Magnesium sulfate, is a white, crystalline powder commonly used in bath soaks and for other beauty and medicinal purposes.

Epsom salt is a longtime, affordable way to help start your garden or improve your garden once it’s already going. You can use Epsom salt in the garden as a fertilizer, a pest deterrent, and also as a seed starter, to name a few. Epsom salt can also enhance the quality and condition of your lawn and shrubs! Read on for further benefits of Epsom salt to your garden as well as practical applications of Epsom salt for tomatoes, houseplants, roses, and more.

“Tests by the National Gardening Association confirm that Epsom Salt makes pepper plants grow larger than those treated only with commercial fertilizer,” says Pete Smolowitz, who represents the Epsom Salt Council. “Best of all you can find Epsom at any local drug store or hardware store for just pennies a pound.”

Smolowitz shares that research indicates Epsom salt positively impacts the following elements of gardening:

•    Helps seeds germinate.
•    Makes plants grow bushier.
•    Produces more flowers.
•    Increases chlorophyll production.
•    Improves phosphorus and nitrogen uptake.
•    Deters pests, including slugs and voles.

 Tips for Improving Your Plants and Garden Using Epsom Salt from the Epsom Salt Council

•    Tomatoes: 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks.

•    Garden Startup: Sprinkle one cup per 100 square feet. Mix into soil before planting.

•    Houseplants: Add two tablespoons per gallon of water; feed plants monthly.

•    Roses: Add one tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks. Also scratch 1/2 cup into soil at base to encourage flowering canes and healthy new basal cane growth. Soak unplanted bushes in 1 cup of Epsom Salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Add a tablespoon of Epsom Salt to each hole at planting time. Spray with Epsom Salt solution weekly to discourage pests.

•    Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron): Add one tablespoon per nine square feet. Apply over root zone every two to four weeks.

•    Lawns: Apply three pounds for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader, or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer.

•    Trees: Apply two tablespoons per nine square feet. Apply over the root zone three times annually.

– Tips courtesy of the Epsom Salt Council

“Magnesium and sulfates are the two major components of Epsom salt,” Smolowitz says. “Crop researchers have determined that magnesium is a critical mineral for seed germination and is vital to the production of chlorophyll, which plants use to transform sunlight into food. In addition, Epsom salt can aid in the absorption of phosphorus and nitrogen, two of the most important fertilizer components.  Although magnesium and sulfur occur naturally in soil, they can be depleted by various conditions, including heavy agricultural use over time. But unlike most commercial fertilizers, which build up in the soil over time, Epsom salt is not persistent so you can’t overuse it.”

Smolowitz also says sulfur compounds, the other major component of Epsom salt, offer an important source of plant nutrients. Sulfur compounds in Epsom salt can contribute to chlorophyll production and enhance the effectiveness of primary nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, found in most fertilizers.

If you would like to try these gardening applications of inexpensive Epsom salt in your own gardens and yard, pick up some Epsom salt at your local drugstore, superstore, supermarket, or even online at Amazon.com.

For more information on Epsom salt and its varied uses for garden, health, and beauty, visit online at: http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org.

Easter and Spring Cocktail and Themed Alcoholic Beverage Ideas and Recipes

What better way to celebrate the onset of spring than to enjoy a spring themed cocktail! Try a Zen Blossom for a refreshing spring cocktail!Welcome the warmer weather and new spring blossoms with delicious spring cocktails. Whether you plan to have a party or simply enjoy a spring beverage by your lonesome, tasty alcoholic beverages for spring offer a fun way to relax.

Gather the ingredients and your favorite glassware, and get out a stainless steel bar set with a shaker, if you own one. Mixing your own alcoholic beverages for spring can be lots of fun, no matter if you’re making enough to share or just one drink at a time for yourself. Enjoy the following spring cocktail themed recipes for Easter or any lovely spring day.
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Recipe for the ZEN Blossom, an Iced Tea Cocktail
Perfect for spring sipping, the ZEN Blossom is an iced tea cocktail created by James Labe, America’s first Tea Sommelier. Labe blends Jasmine Pearl Green Tea, Coconut Cream, and White Rum with ZEN Green Tea Liqueur, (America’s first green tea liqueur), to create a refreshing spring cocktail boasting tropical flavors and a smooth taste that is great for brunch or a midday gathering.

Spring Cocktail #1: ZEN Blossom (Alcoholic Drink Recipe)

Try a Zen Blossom for a refreshing spring cocktail!Ingredients:
1½ parts ZEN GREEN TEA LIQUEUR
4 parts prepared Jasmine Pearl Green Tea
1½ parts FLOR DE CANA WHITE RUM®
1 part Coconut Cream

Instructions:
1.    Combine 1 part cold and 5 parts boiling water to approximate 180ºf.
2.    Use 1/4 cup dry tea leaves to 2 cups hot water (1:8).
3.    Steep 2 minutes.
4.    Strain and chill.
5.    Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice.
6.    Shake and strain into glass.
7.    Garnish with edible flower.

Recipe for Punch No. 4, a Punch Recipe by Phil Ward of NYC’s Death & Co Featuring Flor de Caña Rum
Serving punch is a fun and elegant way to celebrate any special event or occasion. Punch is a great beverage for a bridal shower, baby shower, family gathering, and more. Consider the following punch recipe featuring Flor de Caña rum, premium rum from Nicaragua recently available in the U.S., for a special Easter brunch, lunch, dinner, or any spring gathering.

Spring Cocktail #2: Punch No. 4

Make a festive bowl of punch for your Easter guests to enjoy.Ingredients:
2 oz. Flor de Caña 4-year old
1 oz. simple syrup
2 strawberries
1 oz. lime juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. Champagne

Instructions:
1.    Muddle 1 oz. of simple syrup with strawberries.
2.    Add 2 oz. Flor de Caña 4-year old, the lime juice and pineapple juice one at a time and stir as added.
3.    Add ice and stir the punch until it is chilled.
4.    Strain the punch into a glass or punch bowl, depending on the size of the portion.
5.    Top with 2oz. Champagne.

Recipe for Brampton Mango Lassi, a Smoothie Style Non-Alcoholic Treat
For a special breakfast or brunch treat, try this tasty recipe for a spring smoothie. Fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt come together to create a chilled non-alcoholic beverage that is perfect for Easter or any day this spring. Brampton Bed & Breakfast Inn in Chestertown, Maryland shares this exciting recipe that you can serve in a glass or more creatively, over a fresh fruit cup or sprinkled with homemade granola.

Spring Cocktail #3: Brampton Mango Lassi from Brampton Bed & Breakfast Inn in Chestertown, Maryland

Try this delicious, non-alcoholic beverage for a springtime treat.Ingredients:
(Serves 4)
1-1/2 cups cold low-fat yogurt
2-1/2 cups freshly pureed ripe mango
1 Tbsp sugar or more to taste
One dash of pure vanilla, optional

Instructions:
1.    Puree all ingredients in a blender and chill for 1/2 hour.
2.    Serve chilled in stem glasses garnished with a mint sprig, serve over a fresh fruit cup, or sprinkle with (homemade) granola.

Visit the recipe section on BnBFinder.com for additional recipes that are just perfect for Easter brunches.

Decorating Tips for Easter

Easter offers a lot of fun options for decorating your home. You can go with a pastel theme, a bunnies and chicks theme, a fresh flowers theme, or anything in between. Decorating your home for Easter can be a ton of fun, especially if you get the whole family involved. Think potted or fresh floral centerpieces, pretty glassware, Easter baskets, and more.

To best decorate your home for Easter, consider each different room as a single location for Easter decorations. You can decorate your bathrooms, dining room, living room, family room, and even your bedroom if you like. You can go for an elaborate look and feel, or keep things simple and classy. Your own style preferences will help you to decorate your home for Easter in a way that best suits you and your family.
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Here are some tips on decorating your home inside and out for Easter:

Welcome Spring Right up to Your Doorstep
Try these tips to decorate the outside of your home for Easter:
•    Plant perennial bulbs like daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths outside your front walk so that you’ll have fresh flowers in bloom for Easter.
•    If you prefer, pick up a few potted blooms from the grocery store or from your local nursery and place the flowerpots with flowers in bloom outside your front door.
•    Pick out a cute or elegant welcome mat to set outside your front door to welcome all your guests.
•    Consider adding a festive spring flag to the front of your home. You can choose from fun designs like butterflies, flowers, bunnies, birds, and more. You can check out a variety of spring flags, spinners, windsocks, and mailbox covers online at http://www.flagsonastick.com.

Spruce up Your Bathroom for Spring
Try these tips for a festive Easter look in your bathrooms and powder rooms:
•    Set out brightly colored or pastel colored hand towels or embroidered fingertip towels with spring or Easter designs.
•    Set out fragrant candles with spring scents like lilac, peony, and more.
•    Place a potted flower or a small vase with fresh cut flowers on your windowsill or countertop.
•    Set out a pretty soap dispenser like new Softsoap Ensembles, which are available in lovely spring colors. These dispensers are festive in fun colors and they are refillable, too!

Make Your Family Room or Living Room a Festive Easter Haven
Try these tips to decorate your living room and / or family room for Easter:
•    Unless you have another tradition, consider placing your Easter baskets strategically in a high-traffic area where they’re sure to gain lots of visibility. A bay window is a lovely place to sit a group of Easter baskets, with or without the goodies inside.
•    Set out a few Easter plush animals for a fun and casual, home-y feel. Bunnies, chicks, ducks, and lambs make a great addition to any Easter stuffed animals collection.
•    Fold a pastel throw or a special Easter themed blanket or throw pillow on the corner of your couch for cool nights or close cuddling.

Open Your Bedroom to Easter Holiday Fun
Try these tips to bring the fun of Easter into your own room, between the sheets, and more:
•    Invest in a set of pretty pastel sheets or better yet, a set of sheets with cute spring or Easter designs – flowers, animals, etc.
•    Place a vase of fresh cut flowers on your dresser or bureau.
•    Set a potted plant on the windowsill.
•    Place fragrant scented candles around the room – these can help to inspire some springtime romance as well.

General Tips on Decorating Your Home for Easter
For a festively decorated home for Easter, consider the following decorating tips:

•    Beth Dunn, author of Social Climbers, suggests the following decorating tips for Easter:
Pick a theme and stay with it. If you are doing bunnies keep your theme and color scheme consistent. It makes more of an impact.
•    Find simple affordable decorations so it does not take a ton of time. Replace the wreath on your door with a pastel floral one. Put pretty statues as your centerpiece and fill bowl with colored eggs. Napkins with an eaters theme are an easy way to dress up your table and then use plain white or any pastel color place mat and plates.
•    Look through your drawers, etc. You may have stashed pink or other light colored house hold decorations and forgot about them. Now is a good time to use all your items with color. –  Courtesy of Beth Dunn, www.socialclimbers.net

Lodging for Spring Break Vacations and Weekend Getaways for Students under 25 Years of Age

It can be frustrating trying to find a place to stay when you’re a college student under 25 years of age. Many times hotels and other places of lodging can be hesitant to rent a room to the younger crowd for fear of partying, damages, and other liability. But spring break vacations and other weekend getaways are still possible for college students under 25. These young travelers may just need to get a little more creative in their search for a place to stay!

Students seeking lodging for spring break or other weekend getaways may wish to consider a few different choices of lodging if they are unable to find a desirable hotel accommodation for their vacation. Camping can be lots of fun for a group of students traveling together or even for a smaller group of only a few friends. Renting a cottage or renting a room in a Bed & Breakfast is another accommodation option that may offer freedom and excitement for student vacations. Still, some hotels and condos may rent to visitors younger than 25 – it’s all a matter of finding the right accommodations for your group.
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Rough it and Go Camping / Stay at a Campground
Camping is often a very affordable travel style, especially if you already own a tent, sleeping bags, a cooler, lantern, and other various camping supplies. You can have lots of fun at a campground, as many campgrounds offer fun activities for their campers, such as sports fields and equipment, games and contests, dances, and much more. Many times you can enjoy activities like boating and fishing as well.

Staying at a campground for spring break or another student vacation can be a blast, particularly if you plan a few additional activities or excursions outside of the campground. As one example, finding a campground near the beach or a lake automatically offers countless opportunities for fun and excitement, while a campsite near a theme park (like Disney World or Busch Gardens) offers another option. Your expenses should be low if staying in a tent at a campground, so you may have a bit of extra expendable cash on hand to enjoy some of the other fun excursions in the area.

To find a campground in or near your desired vacation destination, check out: http://www.gocampingamerica.com or http://www.reserveamerica.com.

Stay at a Vacation Cottage or a Bed & Breakfast
Staying at a Bed & Breakfast can be an especially romantic experience for students who wish to go on spring break or a special vacation with their sweetheart. Many Bed & Breakfasts feature soaking tubs and fireplaces, which offer a romantic ambiance for couples to enjoy. The Bed & Breakfasts may offer their own quaint charm for a relaxing getaway, but often they are close enough to various attractions that visitors can also enjoy a neat excursion while visiting.

For students wishing to travel with a group of friends, Bed & Breakfasts may still offer a great option for those under 25. Exciting travel destinations such as New Orleans and Las Vegas both feature Bed & Breakfasts that will rent to students and travelers under 25 years of age.

Here are a few examples of Bed & Breakfasts featured on BnBFinder.com that rent to college students:

Cottage Inn at Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City, CA accepts college kids, just no children under 12 years of age.  They offer double occupancy and discount on ski lift tickets.

Jewel Manor in Las Vegas, NV gets a lot of the college crowd and even has an onsite guest coordinator for guests who want to know about the happening bars on the strip, rent a limo or eat at a trendy restaurant.

Hotel St. Pierre in New Orleans, LA, Must be at least 21 years of age and can check for any specials on their website.

Avenue Inn Bed & Breakfast in New Orleans, LA: as long as one person in the group is at least 21 years of age, no other restrictions.

Sunburst Inn in New Orleans, LA, must be at least 18 years of age.

La Maison Marigny B&B on Bourbon in New Orleans, LA, must be at least 18 years of age.

Sully Mansion Bed and Breakfast in New Olreans, LA, must be at least 18 years of age.

Creole Gardens in New Orleans, LA, must be at least 18 years of age.

1896 O’Malley House Bed & Breakfast in New Orleans, LA, must be at least 18 years of age.

Block-Keller House in New Orleans, LA, must be at least 18 years of age.

Check out BnB Finder to view a wide assortment of Bed & Breakfasts all across the United States.

Staying at a Condo or Hotel that Caters to Student Travelers…


Spring Cleaning Tips for the Weekend Warrior from NorthStar Storage

Try these step-by-step tips on how to spring clean and create a “miracle closet” just in time for spring cleaning!

Step One: Empty and Sort
1.    Pick one closet per weekend, we don’t want you to miss out on the rest of the weekend’s fun.
2.    Empty everything out of the closet onto the floor. I mean everything!
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3.    Create four piles: “keep”, “give away”, “throw away”, and “store.”

4.    For those of us that have trouble letting go of nostalgic items ask yourself: When was the last time I wore or used this? If you can’t remember, get rid of it. If you really love it and don’t use it ask yourself would a picture of the item keep that warm fuzzy ‘ah I loved that pair of go-go boots’ feeling?

5.    If the item is just too difficult to part with at the moment, put it in a clear plastic box or bag with today’s date and place it in your “store” pile. If you go back to use it in the next few months then keep it; if not,  it’s time to give it away and let someone less fortunate enjoy it!

6.    If the item is something you use or wear only during one season a year or it is an item that you feel will come back in fashion (go-go dancing is sure to make a comeback) someday, this item can go into storage.  Full Service Storage companies such as NorthStar Moving and Storage will inventory your boxes. If you pack the boxes yourself, then you’ll need to make the photo or written inventory of what exactly is in each box. The pictures will help you remember exactly what is in good old Box #1. Private Storage from NorthStar Moving allows you to call up NorthStar Moving and request whatever boxes that you want delivered to your home. It really is as simple as “Hi, can I have box numbers 7, 14 and 25 delivered and while you’re here, I’ve got three more boxes for you to pick up.” Isn’t that the ultimate in space saving? Think of your closets as prime real estate that needs to be accessed daily and your storage as the summer vacation home for your stuff.

7.    Look at your “give away” and “throw away” piles and ask yourself: Could someone else use this item even if I cannot?  If so, put it in a bag and donate it to a charity (be sure to get a receipt to deduct from your taxes!).If not, add it to this week’s trash or there is always e-bay, you’ll be shocked what your old pair of jeans will go for!

Step Two: Box and Label
1.    Take photos of each item in your “store” pile. You will need two copies of each photo.
2.    Next, box up all of your items in the “store” category. Place one photo copy on the outside of each box with today’s date and the second photo copy in a file cabinet. This way you will know what is in your storage unit. When you go to get an item out of storage you can easily find what you are looking for without unpacking everything.
3.    In your “keep” pile take photos of shoes and accessories. Don’t forget to tell your shoes to “work it baby” as you snap the photo.
4.    Place the shoes and accessories in clear plastic containers so you can see everything and tape their photo to the outside of their container.  This little step gives you double duty: you can find it easily and better still you can put it away in the exact same spot for next time that hot date rolls around…
5.    For sheets and blankets place them in clear containers and label the outside of the container with the size of the sheet and blanket. Or, if you prefer to let your linens “breathe” make labels (p-touch or by hand) and place labels on the shelves designating size of sheets, pillows etc on each shelf. Make sure that your labels can easily be removed from your closet shelving so that you can reorganize things later if the need arises.

Step Three: Put Items Back and Organize – If you can see it, you can wear and enjoy it.
1.    Decide how many categories you want for your clothes. It’s up to you – tank tops together, long sleeved shirts together, and pants together and then hang them from light to dark or hang them based on occasion – dressy to casual.  Ask yourself – how do I like to decide what to wear and then organize your closet accordingly.  Am I a “gotta wear glitter today girl”, then all that sparkly stuff should be in one place or are you a more “baby it’s cold out there” type and then why not organize by light weight to heavy weight fabrics but remember always within any category organize by color.
2.    Put your boxes of shoes by use or occasion; for example, sport vs. work, and then break down your dressy shoes by flats to heels and light to dark.
3.    For your sweaters and t-shirts and other folding clothes lay them inside your drawers or on the shelf on their side. You can purchase wooden planks or plastic planks to use as dividers. This way you can see all of your clothes at once when you open the drawer. Short sleeved t-shirts together by color and the same for long sleeved shirts and sweaters.
4.    Having your clothes and accessories all in view and organized by categories will help you find items quickly and you will find that you get more wear out of more of your clothes! Not just that same red sweater over and over again. You’ll hear from your friends: Is that new? Well, newly organized!
5.    Last but not least, step back and take a picture of your new “miracle” closet and place it on the inside of your closet drawer so you can keep it that way! Really, do it. You won’t have to revisit organizing that closet for a long time!

About NorthStar Moving:
NorthStar Moving is an eco-luxury moving and storage company with a celebrity clientele (think Angelina Jolie and Eva Longoria).  They have a list of “red carpet” services including photo perfect packing and unpacking for their clients, making the movers true organizational experts.

For additional information:
NorthStar Moving Mobile Storage
NorthStar Moving

Q&A – How to Save Money in this Tough Economy by Planting Your Own Veggies

In the current state of our economy, grocery prices continue to climb and there’s no true end in sight. Luckily for consumers, some stores, like Weis Markets, are initiating a price freeze on popular products that appeal to their customers, promising they won’t raise the price on those groceries for the foreseeable future.

Despite these price freezes – and even the use of coupons – consumers need to find other ways to save money and reduce expenses in the current economy. Last year was a big year for consumers starting their own vegetable gardens, and this year is expected to have an even bigger gardening surge.

In the spirit of saving money in creative ways, George Ball, chairman and CEO of Burpee, shares the following tips for beginner gardeners and anyone who wishes to grow a vegetable garden and save some money on groceries this year.

Q. Life Love Beauty – Roughly how much can a couple or a small family save in grocery money by growing their own produce?

A. George Ball (Burpee) –
A couple – $500-$700
Small family – $1,000-$2,000

Q. Life Love Beauty – Typically, how long is the growing season for the different “zones” in the US? How many months of home grown veggies can gardeners expect in a typical season?   

A. George Ball (Burpee) – 10 months, deep South to 4 months far North, 6 months of home grown veggies

Q. Life Love Beauty – What are the best veggies to grow with grocery store savings in mind?  

A. George Ball (Burpee) – Green Beans, Large Tomatoes, Colored Bell Peppers, Sugar Snap Peas

Q. Life Love Beauty – What are some veggies that may seem challenging or intimidating but aren’t?  

A. George Ball (Burpee) –
Green Beans, Peas, and Cucumbers

Q. Life Love Beauty – Do you have any tips for beginner gardeners who want to try and slash their grocery bill this year?  

A. George Ball (Burpee) – Implement succession planting.  Begin planting cooler weather crops such as lettuce in the spring, then move to warmer weather crops like tomatoes and peppers, and then back to cool weather crops like spinach, radishes, etc.  Burpee developed the Money Garden seed pack especially for this purpose / new gardeners.

Q. Life Love Beauty – What kinds of veggies are the easiest to grow for even those who haven’t tried gardening ever before?

A. George Ball (Burpee) – Radish, Lettuce, Potatoes, Onions

Q. Life Love Beauty – Do you have any other facts or statistics on growing veggies and/or saving money that may apply to this topic?

A. George Ball (Burpee) – Yes.  See price comparisons…Homegrown versus store-bought veggies.

COMPARISON PRICES OF HOMEGROWN VS. STORE BOUGHT (courtesy of Burpee)

Tomato
A tomato—from one plant—you’ll get bout 40 to 50 medium to large fruit, per season.  At the stores, they run about 75 cents to a dollar each, or 35 dollars to 45 dollars per season from one plant.

A seed packet contains, say 25 guaranteed seeds out of 30 total.  Place the average at 40 dollars, multiply it times 25, and you get a thousand dollars worth of store bought tomatoes from a 3 dollar to 4 dollar packet of seed.  This is a ratio of 1:250.  Ten times my (George Ball, Burpee’s Chairman) average ratio.  If someone says, wait, what about fertilizer, etc. you’re still looking at an incredible level of savings.  Say the tomatoes go on sale, at 50 cents each, ratio is still 1:125 or 150.  Way over 1:25.

Bell Pepper
A large red bell pepper—from one plant—you’ll get about 10 to 15 peppers, maybe 20 tops, per warm season.

At stores, these run around $1.50 each.  So, average 15 times $1.50 is $22.50 per plant.  Seed runs at 10 seeds for $3.00 or 30 cents/seed.  From 10 seeds guaranteed germ, you get ten plants resulting in 10 times $22.50 and the yield from the packet is $225.00.  Ratio this time is less, since peppers are less productive, at 1:75.  So, on sale would drop it a bit as would any extraordinary costs or insect problems or cold snap.

Sugar Snap Pea
Sugar Snap Pea—from one plant (vine)—an average customer gets just over a pound, but be conservative and say a pound per plant.  (FYI they run about 90 to 100 pods per pound.)  They go in stores anywhere from $3.50 to $4.00 a pound.  Say $3.75 a pound bag.  Seed runs about 150 seeds for $1.50, in general.  Or a penny a seed.  However, they get “thinned” by 2/3, so that’s 50 vines for 3 cents per.  Fifty vines yield fifty pounds @ $3.75 store bought comp.  So, a $1.50 packet of seed yields $187.50 worth of sugar snap peas.  An average 1:100 ratio this time allowing for the fencing, etc.  Unless you like stringing vines, which I happen to do.

Beans, green snap beans, have a similar profile, of about 1:90, or 1:80, depending on the bean.  Haricot verts will be less, since they’re less productive, as well as more expensive at the store, maybe 1:40.  Real bargain in flavor, especially, unless you live next door to a farmer’s market.

–    All information provided in this comparison is courtesy of Burpee.

Tips on When to Start Your Veggie Garden Seeds
If you are like many beginner gardeners, you may be wondering when to start your vegetable garden seeds, and whether you should start them inside or wait and plant them outside. Growing vegetables from seed is a very interesting and rewarding process. The tender loving care you give to your seeds, seedlings, and plants returns to you many fold in the crops your vegetable plants produce for you.

Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants should be started indoors, shares George Ball, chairman of Burpee, adding that all other seeds can be started outside. He also notes that seedlings should be six to eight weeks old when taken outside and planted in your garden, and the best time to plant your veggie seeds is after the threat of frost is over in your USDA Hardiness Zone.

About the Burpee Money Garden:

For gardeners of all aptitudes, Burpee offers the Money Garden, a large packet of vegetable seeds to get your veggie garden going with six types of veggies – Carrot Big Top (1500 seeds), Tomato Steak Sandwich aka: Large Round Tomato (30 seeds), Bean Heavyweight II aka: Bush Snap Bean (2 oz.), Lettuce Burpee Bibb (1000 seeds), Pepper Home Run aka: Bell Pepper (30 seeds), and Pea Super Snappy aka: Garden Pea (300 seeds). This vast packet of seeds costs only $10 and contains enough seeds to produce more than $650 in delicious, homegrown produce requiring a mere tenth of an acre of growing space.

For more information on Burpee, gardening, and vegetables, please visit online at www.burpee.com.

St. Patrick’s Day Recipes for Irish Main Courses, Appetizers, and Sides

If you are planning to host guests for a hearty St. Patrick’s Day dinner, chances are you’d like to prepare a feast to be remembered. Corned beef and cabbage with potatoes is a popular St. Patrick’s Day dish just as Irish Potatoes are a popular St. Patrick’s Day confection. Instead of going with the traditional, tried and true Irish recipes, why not try something a little less familiar?

Whether this is your first time cooking an Irish meal or whether you’re a seasoned pro just looking for a new Irish recipe to try, consider these traditional Irish dishes – from main courses to sides and more.

Shepherd’s Pie
Courtesy of Mealtime.org

Hearty, simple, healthy: three words that describe traditional Irish cuisine. Topped with lumpy mashed potatoes, also known as Irish Champ, mixed with green onion or other vegetables, you can prepare this dish ahead of time and bake it for dinner on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef or lamb
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) carrots
3 tablespoons canned tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Topping:
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) sliced potatoes, drained
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation:
Cook and stir the beef, onion and celery in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the beef is lightly browned and the onion is translucent. Add the carrots, tomato paste, thyme and black pepper. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to blend; mix in parsley. Transfer to a 9 1/2-inch pie pan.

Topping: Combine the potatoes with milk, black pepper and nutmeg; mash in food processor with pulsing action. Mix in the green onion.

Spread the potato mixture over the beef mixture in the pie dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until the potato is lightly browned. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories 260; Total fat 9g; Saturated fat 3.5g; Cholesterol 50mg; Sodium 620mg; Carbohydrate 28g; Fiber 6g; Protein 19g

– Recipe courtesy of Mealtime.org.

***

PREMIO SAUSAGE AND BACON

Ingredients:

1 lb. Bacon Slices
2 lbs. Premio Sausage Links
Bacon Fat or Oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, whole
4 large potatoes, thickly sliced
2 carrots, thickly sliced
1 bouquet garni, (parsley stem, celery, bay leaf, other aromatic herbs of your choice)
Black pepper
Hard cider (apple wine) or apple cider
Chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions:
Lightly fry bacon until crisp.  Place in large cooking pot. Brown sausage in some bacon grease or vegetable oil. Remove and add to pot.  Soften sliced onions and whole garlic cloves in fat, then add to pot with potatoes and carrots.  Bury the bouquet garni in the middle of the mixture.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Cover with cider.  Simmer 1.5 hours over medium-low heat; do not boil.
Garnish with chopped parsley

– Recipe courtesy of Marc Cinque, owner of Premio Foods.

***

“In Ireland, parsley sauce is an essential accompaniment to the traditional meal of corned beef (or boiled gammon), boiled potatoes and cabbage. My husband, Michael Patrick Carroll, whose birthday falls on March 17, won’t touch a plate of corned beef without parsley sauce,” says Mary McEvoy Carroll, principal of Sand Hill Communications.

Parsley sauce (serves 6)

Ingredients:
Quarter cup of all purpose flour
Half teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons salted butter (Irish brands give the correct rich taste)
8 – 10 fluid ounces of full fat milk
Quarter teaspoon white pepper, or to taste – the parsley is quite peppery on its own
A small grating of whole nutmeg

One bay leaf
A big handful of curly parsley, finely chopped. This is not the time for the Italian versio

Instructions:
1. Make a roux by adding the first five ingredients to a cold saucepan and whisking continually over a low heat until the butter is melted, the flour is incorporated, and the mixture has thickened.

2. Add the nutmeg and bay leaf and barely simmer at a very low heat for 5 – 10 mins.

3. Whisk in more milk if the mixture is too thick.  We are looking for a pouring sauce.

4. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the parsley.

5. If you make this ahead of time, it’s traditional to put a lump of butter on top of the warm sauce before covering. The butter will melt and pool so that the surface doesn’t develop a skin.

6. Reheat gently on the stove top or in the microwave. Pour over anything on the plate.

Enjoy!

– Recipe courtesy of Mary McEvoy Carroll

More Irish Main Courses, Appetizers, and Sides…


St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail Recipes – Alcoholic Drinks and Non-Alcoholic Beverages for the Irish and Irish at Heart!

St. Patrick’s Day is a special holiday meant for celebrations and socializing. Green Fin, featuring FinlandiaWhether you plan to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party at your home or simply wish to have a special St. Patrick’s Day cocktail as a pregame or a nightcap treat, you’ve come to the right place. These St. Patrick’s Day cocktail recipes and Irish themed alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are enough to get your party going or just relax before the night comes to a close. We even suggest a number of green smoothies for the health conscious and any expecting moms.

You can enjoy St. Patrick’s Day cocktails with a green color scheme and a festive Irish theme. You can also mix Guinness beer with a few beverages to create special Guinness cocktails and alcoholic beverages for St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t forget to use special Irish and Celtic glassware for an even bigger impact. Consider these fun Irish cocktails and green drinks for your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day Drink Recipes Using Guinness
Many people love Guinness beer, but aside from the Irish Car Bomb, how many can say they’ve enjoyed a cocktail made with Guinness? In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, please enjoy these exciting Guinness cocktails responsibly.

“Guinness is much more versatile than many people think,” says Elizabeth Balduino, who is a representative Guinness. “As you prepare recipes for St. Patrick’s Day, here are a few great beverages to help you toast the day.”

All-Irish Black & Tan, featuring GuinnessAll-Irish Black & Tan

1/2 pint Guinness Draught
1/2 pint Smithwick’s Irish Ale

From a chilled bottle, fill a clean pint glass just over halfway with Smithwick’s Ale.  Open a chilled can of Guinness Draught.  The head will rise.  Prepare to pour.  Place your Black & Tan spoon (regular spoon will also work) face down on the rim of the glass and slowly pour your newly opened Guinness Draught over it.  When the Guinness has risen to just proud of the rim, you’re ready to enjoy the distinct pleasures of The All-Irish Black & Tan.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness

Black Velvet, featuring GuinnessBlack Velvet

5 oz chilled Guinness
1.5 oz chilled Champagne

Pour Guinness into champagne flute. Add champagne carefully, so it does not mix with Guinness, and serve.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness

Guinness Shandy, featuring GuinnessGuinness Shandy

1/2 pint Guinness
1/2 pint lemonade

Mix lemonade with Guinness in a pint glass. Serve in a beer mug.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness

Original Half & Half, featuring GuinnessOriginal Half & Half

1/2 pint Guinness Draught
1/2 pint Harp Lager

From a chilled bottle, fill a clean pint glass just over halfway with Harp Lager.  Open a chilled can of Guinness Draught.  The head will rise.  Prepare to pour.  Place your Half & Half spoon (regular spoon will also work) face down on the rim of the glass and slowly pour your newly opened Guinness Draught over it.  When the Guinness has risen to just proud of the rim, you’re ready to enjoy the distinct pleasures of The Original Half & Half.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness


Special Note:
As a special sidebar note, Guinness is petitioning Congress to make St. Patrick’s Day an official holiday. You can join the cause by signing the petition at www.proposition317.com.

Green Cocktails and Irish Beverages for St. Patrick’s Day…