Monday, October 25, 2010

GIVEAWAY CLOSED! $50 CSN Stores Shopping Code!

If you read many blogs, including this one, you've heard of CSN Stores by now. CSN Stores is actually many stores rolled into one convenient site. You can find so many wonderful bargains there. How would you like your very own $50 shopping code to spend as you please?

I'd love to give you one! CSN Stores has provided me with a one-time-use $50 code for one of my lucky loyal readers. How will you use it? You could pick up a new espresso machine, or a waffle iron, or a top-of-the-line knife set. You might venture out of the kitchen for a massaging recliner, or a wheelbarrow, or even a treadmill. You're in charge. You can buy whatever your heart desires.

Here's how to enter:


You have lots of opportunities to enter to win this fabulous prize! Please, leave a separate comment with email address for each entry. All entries will be validated before acceptance. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, November 14th, 2010. Drawing will be held via on Monday, November 15th. Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours from time of notification to respond. In the event that I am unable to reach the winner, a new winner will be selected.

ONE winner will receive a ONE TIME USE shopping code worth $50.00. Drawing open to residents of United States and Canada (Canadian residents please note: code CANNOT be applied toward international shipping charges. You will be responsible for that cost.)

Ways to enter:
  • MANDATORY: Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect. You must be a public follower to enter. Leave a comment with your email address. ONE ENTRY
  • Optional: Leave a comment telling me what you'd spend your $50 on. Leave a comment with your email address ONE ENTRY
  • Optional: Blog about this giveaway. Leave a comment with your email address. TWO ENTRIES (leave two comments)
  • Optional: Post to your Facebook page: I want to win a $50 CSN Stores Shopping Code at All Home Cooking. All Year Long. and leave a link to this giveaway. Leave a comment with your email address and the URL to your FB post. ONE ENTRY EACH DAY (Leave a new comment each day)
  • Optional: Tweet about this giveaway: I want to win the $50 CSN Code at @michelle_cooks ONE ENTRY EACH DAY (Leave a new comment each day with email address and your Twitter ID)
  • Optional: Follow this blog on Facebook. ONE ENTRY (Leave comment with email address.)
  • Optional: Comment on any other post on this blog. ONE ENTRY PER COMMENT (Leave separate comment for each instance)
  • Optional: Follow my other blog, 360 Lunch Boxes, publicly via Google Friend Connect THREE ENTRIES (Leave separate comments).
Good luck!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chili Mac

....made healthier!

I am doing very well on Weight Watchers, having lost over 13 pounds in the first month. I really enjoy the eTools Recipe Builder, and used it again to calculate this recipe. I regret that I can't share POINTS values with you on the healthy recipes I'm sharing. I realize other bloggers do disclose POINTS values. However, maybe my scruples are more pronounced than others'. Maybe I'm just a stickler for rules. I just can't violate my own ethics standards here. I will, however, give you accurate measurements, which you can plug into Spark People or another healthy living site and it will give you the nutritional profile. I hope you understand.

Chili Mac
serves 8

What You Need:
  • 1/2 lb dried pinto beans, picked through for debris
  • 1 lb extra lean (95 to 97%) ground beef
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (or make your own)
  • 1 can, undrained, chili seasoned diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup 2% 4-cheese Mexican style cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
How it's Done:
  1. Cover beans with water and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for two minutes. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let stand one to two hours.
  2. Drain beans. Recover with water equal to three times the beans' volume. Bring to a boil. Cook at boiling for one to three hours, or until beans are tender.
  3. During last half-hour of cooking time, brown the ground beef with the onion and bell pepper. Combine cooked beans, browned beef, onion, pepper, tomatoes, chili seasoning, and water in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the elbow macaroni al dente.
  5. Add macaroni to the chili. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with 2 Tbsp each shredded cheese and sour cream.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Something's Coming!

Not too long ago, I wrote a review for CSN Stores. Now, they've asked me, as a Preferred Blogger, to work with them again. I jumped at the chance! CSN Stores carry everything you could want to order online: dining chairs, dog houses, diaper bags, and dishes, just to name a few!

So I want to know: What would YOU buy? Tell me! And stay tuned for exciting CSN & All Home Cooking news!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's been a while since I've written out an entire week's menu at once. Following weight watchers makes it tricky to plan an entire week. Instead of doing it like I used to, which was to outline every meal we were going to eat for the week, I'll just list foods that we're likely to eat. And when I make a really great new recipe, you can be sure I'll be here to share it with you all.

Breakfasts will include:
  • peaches & cream oatmeal
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • yogurt
  • apples
  • cereal with milk
  • bagels & cream cheese
  • Kids take packed lunches to school, and I photograph them and detail them at my lunch blog, 360 Lunch Boxes.
  • Husband sometimes takes a packed lunch. Other times, he eats at home.
Home Lunches for Me (and Husband sometimes):
  • egg salad on a wrap
  • turkey burger on an English muffin
  • Potato & Broccoli, pan-"fried"
  • vegetable fritatta
  • vegetable spaghetti
  • dinner leftovers
Dinners may include:
  • turkey loaf
  • penne with meatballs and spaghetti sauce
  • cheese-stuffed hamburger steaks
  • steak tacos
  • chicken & bean fajitas
  • pizza & salad
  • meatball subs & sweet potato fries
Snacks will include:
  • fresh fruit -- apples, mainly
  • carrot sticks
  • applesauce
  • crackers & cheese
  • popcorn
  • yogurt
  • smoothies

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lightened Up Chicken Spaghetti

In the past, I've made some delicious chicken spaghetti that had Rotel tomatoes with green chilies and loads of Velveeta cheese. It's really good. But it's really bad for you, too. As I've mentioned, I'm doing Weight Watchers, so I'm not eating much by way of Velveeta these days. Actually, I haven't had Velveeta in almost a year.

Anyway, Weight Watchers eTools has something really cool that I've been playing with, called Recipe Builder. You tell it what you're putting into your recipe, and it tells you how many POINTS value are in each serving. I can't share those values with you, because it's copyrighted material. I just love that feature. It helped me plan today's dinner. Here it is:

Chicken Spaghetti
serves 6

What You Need:
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded or cut into chunks (I did a combo of the two, just quickly cutting it up)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 lb dry spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (use less if you don't care for it that much. We love it.)
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of cheese (I used Weight Watchers brand 4 cheese Italian blend, made with 2% milk)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
How it's Done:
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or mist with oil.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper and onions, stirring until soft and fragrant. Stir in sauce, basil, garlic, chicken, and spaghetti, mixing well. Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese.
  • Pour spaghetti mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the remaining cheeses.
  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Let the dish sit for five more minutes before slicing and serving.
Incidentally, I had my third weigh-in on Wednesday, and have lost a total so far of 10.8 pounds, eating stuff like Chicken Spaghetti, and putting cream and sugar in my coffee. It works, and it's sound, and it promotes whole foods eating. I love it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding

A few days ago, there was a cool breeze in my neighborhood. It carried with it, ever so gently, rolling, whispering, fragrant, fallen leaves. That's how I knew it was time to buy pumpkin.

Today, the breeze picked up substantially, and brought with it lower 40-degree temperatures, which numbed my face and arms on my morning walk. That's how I knew it was time to use the pumpkin.

I was going to make a simple crustless pumpkin pie -- a pumpkin custard of sorts. However, I want to introduce you all to some new tastes this autumn, beginning with a stove top chocolate pumpkin pudding.

Pumpkin is so healthy for us, but getting some folks to eat it outside of a pie can be tricky. Enter the chocolate.

In this pudding, the chocolate masks the color of the pumpkin and most of the flavor. You won't be eating this for the pumpkin taste (however, you can easily omit the chocolate and have a stove top pumpkin pudding, if you wish. I recommend adding cinnamon and nutmeg in that case), but rather for the richness and nutrients that pumpkin brings to the table. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding

What You Need:
  • 2 cups of milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
How it's Done:
  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the pumpkin, the sugar, and the cocoa powder in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium until steaming, almost boiling, but not quite.
  2. Whisk together the remaining milk and the corn starch, and slowly add it to the hot liquid, stirring constantly.
  3. Cook and stir until thickened.
  4. Remove the pudding from the heat and let it cool before serving. Or don't. I love hot pudding. If you are opposed to pudding skin, press some plastic wrap into the top layer of pudding and leave it there while it's cooling.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Coffee House in Your House -- CSN Stores Review

The sound of the coffee grinder whirring. The smell of the freshly ground beans. The taste of custom brewed coffee. All of these are things I love about coffee houses. And now, thanks to CSN Stores, my house is my coffee house.

CSN graciously sent me this Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill for my review. I'll talk about it in just a second, but first, I want to talk to you about shopping with CSN.

CSN Stores is actually many stores, all rolled into one main site. You can shop for and find just about anything your heart desires. Want a chaise lounge to relax on with a good book? You got it. Looking to replace your flooring? CSN has you covered. Maybe you're in the market for a good set of knives, or some new cookware. CSN Stores has it all.

When shopping for my review item, I noticed a few things. First, that CSN's price was lower than the MSRP by a significant amount. Next, I noticed that CSN provides lots of key information that helps their customers make good shopping choices. Some of the information they provide is stuff I'd love to know, but never thought to ask. For example, they tell you how the item will ship, but also, they share with you how likely it is to arrive damaged (very rarely in this case). They tell you about the item's construction quality (their scale goes from economical to premium, with my mill being listed as premium). You can read the overall information, the dimensions, reviews, and more.

Shipping was a breeze. I received an email shortly after my order was placed letting me know that CSN was upgrading my shipping, at no charge to me, so that I would receive my item faster than anticipated.

The mill arrived in perfect condition and I was so excited to give it a try. I had never ground my own coffee before.

Using the mill was a breeze. I simply added coffee beans to the hopper, chose my custom grind (anywhere from fine to coarse, with lots of stops in between), and I turned it on. It's quiet for a coffee grinder and produced perfectly ground coffee without a hitch.

The flavor of freshly ground coffee can't be topped.

I highly recommend that coffee drinkers invest in a coffee mill. I'm fond of Cuisinart, and this machine has not let me down. I've been using it nearly daily for several weeks now and I am still just as excited to brew my fresh coffee as I was that first day when it arrived.

disclosure: I received the Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill for my review. No monetary or other compensation was provided, and all opinions are my own.

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