Tag Archives: Bolke

Arugula Tropic Smoothie

24 Apr

Arugula Tropic Smoothie

This smoothie was exactly what I needed today: quick, healthy, a little spicy, and surprisingly delicious!


— 1 cup Vanilla Coconut Milk

–2 handfuls baby arugula

–2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt

–1 palmful frozen mango

–1 palmful frozen pineapple

–1/2 frozen banana


–a few fresh ginger shavings

–soft tofu

Combine all ingredients in blender on high for ~ 1 minute.

This smoothie is not super sweet, although it does have a slight spicy taste to it. Try adding honey or agave nectar if you’re looking for more sweetness.


Looking for more smoothie recipes? Click here.


Quick-Start Guide To Gardening in 5 Easy Steps

21 Apr

My first attempt at gardening was not fruitful. Nearly everything that I planted died within a few weeks.

The only plants that survived were some beautiful multi-colored impatiens planted in a shady spot under an oak tree in our front yard. These lovely lollipop flowers lasted about two weeks, until the deer discovered the tasty treat.

If you’re new to gardening and don’t know where to start, here are some key things I’ve discovered that will accelerate your learning and your enjoyment in your garden.

I purchased these newly-revived daisies on clearance for 75 cents each because they were near death. A little TLC and they are performing beautifully.

5 questions you should ask prior to planting anything:

What zone do I live in?

Geographies are categorized by zones, if you live in the U.S. The difference between one zone and another is determined by both the warmest and the coldest temperatures that particular region typically experiences in a given year, referred to as “plant hardiness”.

Knowing what zone you live in will help you to determine which plants will do best in-ground, in containers, or maybe not at all in your region.

You can find your zone by visiting the USDA Plant Zone Map.

What is my soil type?

This one piece of information completely changed my gardening experience and has given me so much more confidence  in gardening.

In our area, the soil is clay-like and has poor drainage. Drainage refers to how quickly water is absorbed into the soil. Most plants need good drainage in order to survive, otherwise the roots become saturated with water and rot.

A quick test you can conduct is to spray an area with a hose until it begins to saturate. If the water disappears quickly, you have good soil drainage. If you see water “pooling”, your soil drainage is poor.

You can get really technical with soil types to determine if it’s alkaline or acidic. You can purchase a kit or take a soil sample in to a local plant nursery for them to test it. I’ve never done this. However, I did ask a local nursery how to change (you’ll hear this referred to as “amending”) the soil.

In my case, the soil needs acid to break up the clay. I purchased some acidified compost, which completely changed the soil in a flower bed that was drowning in pooling water. I removed all of the bushes, amended the soil, and now enjoy some fabulous roses in that bed. I will need to continue to add compost to it every few years, as the roses will absorb the nutrients in the soil. If left untouched, the soil will eventually resort back to clay.

Based on what part of town you live in, you should be able to discover what your soil type most likely is by visiting your local nursery.

Are there native plants I can use in my garden? Continue reading

Aunt Pat’s Chicken: The Perfect Meal for Easy Entertaining

3 Apr

This easy and sure-to-please chicken dish is a modified twist on a recipe that my Aunt Pat shared with me several years ago. It’s a delicious, healthy, and inexpensive meal that is simply perfect for entertaining.

The best part about this dish is that you get to mingle with your guests while it bakes in the oven.

My Aunt Pat's Chicken Dish never disappoints!

The recipe as written is intended to serve 4 adults, so adjust the quantities and cookware to make larger portions if needed.


–4 split chicken breasts, leg quarters, or a whole cut-up broiler. Use bone-in chicken with the skin on. It’s easily removed after cooking and makes a huge difference in both the flavor and moisture level of the dish.

–5 to 7 medium red potatoes

–½ lb. of carrots (I typically buy a bag of peeled, cut baby carrots)

–1 whole onion

–5-7 cloves of garlic, peeled but not cut (use less if you’re not a big garlic fan – we love garlic Around My Home)

–1-2 lemons (depending on how much lemon you like)

Optional: 3-4 Fresh Rosemary twigs (I typically omit the Rosemary)

–Salt & Pepper to taste

–Extra Virgin Olive oil (drizzled)

–Couple of small pats of butter


Continue reading

Top 3 Cleaning Products I Use That You Can Make At Home

31 Mar

I’m a big fan of inexpensive, non-toxic cleaners that actually work.

Here are the top 3 that I use regularly in my own home along with popular uses and instructions on how to make each one.

Put these items on your shopping list!


Magic ingredient: Joy Liquid Dish Soap

Uses: All-purpose glass cleaner for indoor and outdoor windows, mirrors, appliances, and sealed wood furniture. It shouldn’t be used on marble, which doesn’t like citrus-based products. For cleaning marble, you can substitute Ivory dish soap instead.

When using on exterior windows, hose the window down prior to cleaning in order to remove heavy dirt, pollen, or other debris.


–Fill a clean, empty spray bottle with water – I like the 32 oz. size. Use distilled or filtered water if you live in a hard water area.

–Add 1-2 tiny drops of Joy liquid dish soap (more is not better)

Optional – add a drop of food coloring if you simply must have blue window cleaner.

I’m not kidding, that’s it.

It really is the best glass cleaner you’ll ever use and it will cut the wax residue left by previous ammonia-based cleaners.

I purchased a bottle of Joy on sale for $1.00 at Walgreen’s. It should last me about 600 years.

It’s best to use a lint-free cloth instead of paper towels on glass. My favorite window rags are cut-up old t-shirts. You could also use micro-fiber cloths. When you wash the rags, skip the fabric softener.

I discovered this recipe through one of Angela Coffman’s readers over at the Grocery Shrink.


This product is a staple in our house and I use it Around My Home multiple times a day. Continue reading

Making Fruits and Veggies for Your Baby

28 Mar

Making baby food is simple – if you have the right tools – and doesn’t require as much time as you may think. I spend 30 minutes to 1 hour once a week preparing baby food and I have a well-stocked freezer for my ravenous little 11-month old. I’ve been making his food since he was 5 months old.


These items will make preparing your baby’s food fun and your clean-up quick and easy:

1. Steamer insert and pan with a lid.

Simply Calphalon Multi-Pot – this one is my favorite. It’s got a large capacity and is so easy to clean – nothing seems to stick to it. You can put it in the dishwasher, but I prefer to hand-wash my pots and pans. I’ve had this set for about 3 months now and love it.

My Simply Calphalon steamer set that I Simply love.

Calphalon Universal Steamer Insert – this insert comes with a lid and if you already have Calphalon pots, it should fit. I like it, but I only use this one now when I have a small amount of food I’m making or if I’m cooking multiple batches. It does work well, however, it’s not easy to clean in my opinion and has a much smaller capacity than the multi-pot steamer above.

2. High-powered blender.

I purchased a VitaMix blender at Costco last fall before undergoing jaw surgery. I have no plans to go back to a regular blender, but if you have one that can get the food smooth, there is no need for you to buy something else. Baby J is at an age where he can have more texture. But for first foods, it’s important that they are very smooth, with no chunks lurking.

Note: a food processor is a good alternative if you already have one. 

VitaMix blender I purchased at Costco

3. Wilton Silicone Brownie Mold Pan.

I’ve tried many other options and this one is simply the best. I just ordered another one while writing this blog post, so now I’ll have three.

Blueberry puree before freezing in my Wilton silicone brownie mold pan

4. Plastic wrap

5. Gallon-size freezer bags

6. Sharpie marker or label-maker.

I used to think that my friends who owned label-makers were a bit eccentric…until my friend gave one to me as a gift. I seriously don’t know what I did before having one…oh, wait…yes, I do – I spent hours looking for things!


Step One

Wash and chop fresh food for baby or use frozen bagged food.

Most foods for your little one need to be steamed before being eaten, including fruits. Two that do not are bananas and avocado, which simply can be mashed with a fork and served immediately.

Frozen food has several benefits:

1) It’s super-fresh when it’s frozen

2) You can keep it on hand longer than fresh food

3) You can give your baby his/her favorites even when they are not in season.

It’s your choice if you want to use organic or not. For me, it simply depends on the type of food and where it was grown. If it’s in a tough outer skin like mango or banana or avocado, I’m not as concerned about it being organic. Continue reading