Category: articles I’ve written for money

4 Classic Comfort Casseroles to Soothe and Satisfy




Casseroles are the ultimate comfort food, reminding us of family gatherings and childhood dinners. Here are a few simple-yet-comforting casseroles that you may want to try.


Cheddar-Chicken Pot Pie Casserole


  • 3 cups uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 1 can French fried onions


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9½ glass pie plate or casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. In large bowl, mix milk and soup. Add tomato, cheeses and pasta. Stir in chicken pieces, and spoon mixture into casserole dish.
  1. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle French fried onions on top. Bake 5 minutes longer, and serve.


Cheesy Tuna and Vegetable Casserole


  • 4 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 12 ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 can (12 ounce) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans tuna (6 ounces each) in water, drained


  1. Cook noodles as directed on package, adding frozen vegetables for last minute of cooking to heat them up, and drain.
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In an ungreased 2-quart casserole baking dish, mix milk, soup, cheese and onion. Stir in tuna, cooked noodles and mixed vegetables.
  1. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, bake uncovered 5 minutes longer, and serve.


Note: Can be served with crumbled potato chips or cracker crumbs on top, just sprinkle over top of casserole before last 5 minutes of baking.


Cornbread ‘N’ Beans Casserole


  • 1 can (28 ounce) baked beans, undrained
  • 1 package (16 ounce) mini-hot dogs/cocktail weenies
  • ½ cup barbeque sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 box cornbread/corn muffin mix
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg


  1. Heat over to 375 degrees. In large saucepan, mix beans, hot dogs, ketchup, barbecue sauce and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until hot, then pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole baking dish.
  1. In medium bowl, stir in cornbread mix, milk and egg until combined, then spread batter evenly over barbecue bean mixture in casserole dish.
  1. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown, and serve.


Sweet Potato-Bacon Casserole


  • 3 large cans (24 ounces each) sweet potatoes
  • 1 package (12 ounce) bacon
  • ¼ bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Cook bacon until crispy and chop into small pieces. In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and one tablespoon butter or margarine and set aside.
  1. Spray 13×9-inch (3 quart) glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix sweet potatoes with bacon, sour cream, ¼ cup butter or margarine, onions, salt and pepper, until well blended. Spread mixture in baking dish and sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over top.
  1. Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes or until thoroughly heated, with bead crumbs turning golden brown, and serve.



Quick and easy to prepare, while filling and satisfying, a casserole can be a great way to feed your family for any occasion. Give one of these classic bakes a try for a soothing, satisfying meal.

3 Quick Crock Pot Cakes



Have you ever wished you could combine the convenience of crock pot cooking with the deliciousness of desserts? Surprisingly, there are actually many crock pot recipes for cakes and breads that make baking easier than ever.

We’ve compiled a few simple and sumptuous favorites for you below.


Quick Chocolate Cake

You will need:

  • 1 package (6 serving size) instant chocolate pudding and pie mix
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 package (18 ounces) chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
  • Whipped topping (optional)


  1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Empty pudding mix into crock pot and whisk in milk.
  1. Prepare cake mix according to directions, blending well. Pour cake blend into crock pot. Do not stir.
  1. Cover and cook on high 1½ hours or until cake is set.


Note: Serve warm, with whipped topping, if desired.


Berry Perfect Pound Cake

You will need:

  • 1 package (16 ounces) pound cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and powdered sugar


  1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  1. Prepare cake mix according to directions, stirring in brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
  1. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 1½ to 1¾ hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Note: Serve with berries and powdered sugar, if desired.


Butterscotch Macadamia Pudding Cake

You will need:

  • 1 box (18 ounces) golden yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup butterscotch morsels
  • ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (or any nut you prefer)


  1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  1. Combine cake mix, water, eggs, sour cream and oil and mix well.
  1. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 2 hours, or until batter is set.
  1. Sprinkle butterscotch morsels and chopped macadamia nuts over surface of cake. Cover, and cook 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Note: Serve warm, with whipped cream, if desired.


Pecan-Cinnamon Spice Cake

You will need:

  • 1¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½  cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • Whipped cream


  1. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl. Add milk and 3 tablespoons of margarine or butter, and mix until blended. Stir in the pecans and spread mixture across bottom of crock pot.
  1. Combine water, brown sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Pour melted butter and sugar mixture over batter in crock pot.
  1. Cover and cook on high 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until cake is set and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand uncovered for 30 minutes, and serve.


Note: This cake goes well with glazed pears. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.



It may be an unconventional way to bake a cake, but crock pot cakes, breads and desserts are a great way to make tasty, traditional desserts in half the time.



Four Historical West Hollywood Music Venues



One of the best things West Hollywood has to offer is a thriving music scene featuring excellent local bands, as well as many national acts.

After dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants the city has to offer, you might want to consider grabbing a drink and checking out some live music at one of these historic West Hollywood bars, many of which are located on the famous Sunset Strip.

The Viper Room

8852 West Sunset Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA.

Once owned by the actor Johnny Depp, and open since 1993, The Viper Room is a notorious party spot and eclectic musical venue that has been graced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Sheryl Crow, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Hunter S. Thompson.

Surprise celebrity performances are not uncommon for this intimate venue with a 250 person maximum capacity, and there is a lounge away from the main room with a more intimate feel if you’re in the mood. Open 7 days a week, with no reservations required, The Viper Room is for the 21+ crowd. If there is a band playing, there will likely be a cover charge.

The Roxy Theatre

9009 West Sunset Blvd

West Hollywood, Ca.

With a grand opening in 1973 that featured Neil Young, The Roxy Theatre later became a favorite venue for performers such as David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana, and Foo Fighters.

Featuring cozy booth seating and a modest bar menu, The Roxy Theatre has recently added “brewery” to their list of accomplishments, offering their house brew, Roxy House Draft No. 1, which they describe as “a medium-bodied golden ale with toasted malt flavors and a dry citrus hop character.” Sold in 32. oz. growlers for $30 each, they offer a $5 discount when you bring back your bottle for a refill, making them ecologically friendly as well as delicious.

The Whisky a Go-Go

8901 Sunset Blvd

West Hollywood, CA.

Established in 1964, the Whisky a Go-Go played a large role in helping such bands as The Doors, Janis Joplin, Led Zepplin and Guns ‘N’ Roses develop a larger fan base and achieve the fame they were seeking. This crucial player in the formation of a Los Angeles rock scene is also available for filming, rentals, and party events.

The Whisky a Go-Go is also now all ages, all the time, which means that if you are visiting West Hollywood with children, and you find the music appropriate, you can bring your kids inside with you to enjoy the show.

The Troubador

9081 Santa Monica Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA.

The Troubador opened its doors in 1957 and holds the distinction of being the West Hollywood club where Sir Elton John first cut his musical teeth in America, as well as helping to launch the careers of James Taylor, The Eagles and Tom Waits. Musical luminaries like Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young all made their Los Angeles debut shows at The Troubador in the 60s.

In the 70s, Janis Joplin famously spent her last night alive at The Troubador, and Billy Joel played his debut show there. The 80s also featured the first headlining gig for the band Metallica. The history of the Troubador goes on and on, so if you’re looking to visit a Los Angeles musical landmark, this classic club is not to be missed.


From the 60s (The Doors), the 70s (Neal Young), the 80s (Guns ‘N’ Roses), through the 90s (Pearl Jam) and beyond, the West Hollywood area has been vital to music for almost the entire history of rock and roll. With an impressive roster of notorious bands and famous musicians who’ve graced their establishments, visiting these West Hollywood bars can be a great way to check out a few of the places where rock and roll history was made.


3 Easy Eco-Friendly Ways to Stay Healthy



Cold and flu season is upon us once again, and the scientific and medical community continues to stress the importance of proper hand washing to avoid contracting the cold bugs and viruses waiting for us in schools and public places.

Every year, we heed this advice, and try to wash our hands as often as possible to reduce our chances of catching illnesses. But we’ve all washed our hands with soap and hot water only to realize that we’ll need to touch the soap dispenser, water faucet handles, and paper towel dispenser handle before we’re done. Many of us then have to wonder if we’re re-infecting our clean hands with germs in the process.

Does this unsettling scenario sound familiar?

With 3 simple-to-use and easy to install eco-friendly products, you can help your family, friends, co-workers, and customers have a fighting chance against illness this season, and save some money while you’re at it:

1) Soap to Kill Bacteria and Germs

A counter-mounted automatic soap dispenser will completely eliminate the need to push on a sticky soap dispenser. With a no-clog and no-drip IR-based system, this type of soap dispenser is a neat and reliable choice for your bathroom.

If you prefer a wall-mounted soap dispenser, there are many efficient wall dispensers that deliver soap in a clean and effective manner. These types of products are also great if you have children, keeping bathroom counters free of sticky, drippy bars of soap or messy store-bought liquid dispensers.

2) Water to Rinse It All Away

Now that you’ve got the flu bacteria-eliminating soap in hand, you’re going to need water to finish the job. That’s where an automatic faucet can help you out. No need to grab the wet faucet handles that everyone before you has twisted on and off, simply wave your hands under these motion-activated faucets, and presto! Watch the water begin to flow like magic.

Bonus: you can save up to 70% on water usage costs with this type of hands-free technology. Reduced risk of illness and a lower water bill? That’s a definite win-win.

3) Drying Your Clean Hands

With the cleaning and germ-killing portion of the washing up process behind you, it’s time to dry those hands and get on with your day. Many restrooms will offer you a moist towel with which to dry your hands, or a paper towel dispenser with a handle to pump up and down. As you touch these, you may wonder what other types of bacteria you’re grabbing, rendering your hand washing pointless.

But never fear, because there is a solution to this problem as well: automatic paper towel dispensers! Bonus: automatic paper towel dispensers can save you 12-15% on paper usage, in addition to providing you with a sanitary way to dry your clean hands.


Touching unhygienic surfaces after washing up almost makes one wonder if there is any point to scrubbing our hands in the first place. One easy solution to this dirty dilemma is to install eco-friendly automatic products in your restrooms and bathrooms that will save you money and prevent illness.


3 Top-Selling Nintendo 3DS Games



Nintendo 3DS is a handheld gaming system that many kids know and love to play. The new 3D feature made the Nintendo 3DS a favorite gift last holiday season, and its popularity has continued to grow.

Here are a few of the best-selling games for Nintendo 3DS with descriptions:

  1. Super Mario 3D Land—

This Mario fellow is a busy, busy man. In addition to being the star of this top-selling Nintendo 3DS game, Mario spends time in other extremely popular games, such as Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario Bros. 2.

In Super Mario 3D Land, Princess Peach has once again gotten herself captured and it’s up to Mario to save her from Bowser, the bad guy. The game includes eight different worlds and adventures, with different levels that end when you reach the flagpole at the end.

There is a raccoon suit (called the Tanooki Suit) Mario can wear to give him special powers, including invincibility, and a suit that allows him to throw boomerangs. If the 3D effect is bothering you for any reason, it can be turned off, which is a nice feature, but most fans think it looks amazing.

  1. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time—

A classic game that has been around in some technological format or another since 1998, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a best-selling fan favorite. The hero of the series, Link, time travels in the game with the goal of stopping the evil King Ganondorf from obtaining the sacred relic that will grant him unchecked power, presumably allowing him to destroy the world. One of the main objectives of this game is the pursuit of objects that will help you on your journey to fight evil and preserve good in the land of Hyrule.

Even hard-to-please game critics have been giving the game makeover (necessary to transfer the game to Nintendo 3DS) a thumbs-up, noting the improved graphics and stunning visuals. The general consensus among gamers is that the move to 3D drastically improved the aesthetics of this game, which might account for much of its popularity.

  1. Pokemon Rumble Blast—

Pokemon characters are a kid favorite in any formatfrom the card-playing game to anything toy, cartoon or videoso it is no surprise that Pokemon Rumble Blast is on the list of the top-sellers for Nintendo 3DS.

In Pokemon Rumble Blast, the windup Pokemon characters battle each other, and the goal is to recruit powerful members onto your team. The goal of each battle is to defeat as many other characters without getting knocked out, at the end of which you are rewarded with new powerful characters for your Pokemon stable, or money. After you finish tasks and enter competitions, you can unlock new areas and find more Pokemon characters to recruit.

Pokemon Rumble Blast features a Battle Royale that forces your chosen character (you use the most powerful one you have in your party) to battle multiple characters on a chaotic battlefield. Another game option allows you to pick teams to rush into castles, and Charge Battles that utilize your entire Pokemon army in the fight. The premise of this game is somewhat basic, making it an excellent game for younger kids, and Pokemon fans of all ages.

Nintendo 3DS is an excellent portable console that has taken gaming to the next level of technology with the 3D feature. Amazon UK announced that the Nintendo 3DS was their most pre-ordered video game system ever (source: GameSpot). Nintendo World Report called it the “fastest selling console in Australia” when their 3DS overtook sales of all other consoles, handheld and home. With numbers like these, it appears the Nintendo 3DS is enjoyed by many, and here to stay.

3 Positive Feng Shui Decorating Tips



The ancient practice of feng shui is well-known among designers as a way to help turn homes into soothing havens that make homeowners feel peaceful, rejuvenated and inspired.

Feng shui translates literally into “wind water,” and much like these two elements, it’s hard to explain, but you know it when you see and feel it. When you walk into a house with good feng shui, it seems to have a bright life energy (like air) and relaxed flow (like water) about it that makes you feel naturally safe and at ease.

To help you create cheerful energy and a good flow throughout your home, here are 3 basic tips for creating positive feng shui with your décor:


  1. Include the Elements—
  • The five general elements of feng shui are water, wood, fire, earth and metal, although as mentioned before, wind is important, too.
  • Natural lighting and fresh air are vital for achieving positive feng shui, as is representing all of the other elements in your decorating.
  • The key is to strike a balance between elements: if you have too many sharp edges, or hard metallic surfaces, soften them with plants or fountains, for example. The same way you’d plant bushes outside against a harsh stone fence to soften it, remember to soften hard surfaces inside your home as well.


  1. Clear the Clutter—
  • Many believe that if their house is cluttered, their brain feels cluttered. Feng shui experts recommend clearing as much of the extra unwanted debris out of your home.
  • Decide which things you have around have meaning and make you feel good, and get rid of anything you’re keeping that has negative connotations.
  • Arrange all furniture so there is an open pathway that flows through every room. Feng shui devotees believe that energy gets stuck anywhere with blocked paths and clutter for it to get “caught” on, so open up your house to good energy flow.


  1. Color Your World—
  • All of the colors represent different elements, and there are no wrong colors to use, as it is up to each individual to determine which qualities they might currently need in their life. If you are gravitating toward a certain color, feng shui followers believe that is probably for good reason, so follow your instinct.
  • Fire element will bring more energy and zest into your home or life. Shades of red, orange, bright yellow and purple can bring this passion into the home of the decorator.
  • Both earth and wood elements are represented by brown and green, and bring with them a healing energy, as well as potential for financial prosperity. These colors can be added with wood, plants, painted onto the walls or added via other decorative touches.
  • Water element lends a home peace and calm tranquility, and can be added with shades of blue or black. A water fountain or fish aquarium are also good ways to add this element to your surroundings.
  • Metal element is known for giving the user mental clarity and focus, and is represented in the color form by gray and white. Actual metals can also add these qualities to the home.


The placement of furniture and décor, as well as the types of materials and colors used can truly make or break the mood of a home. Use the feng shui recommendations above to keep your home full of joyful energy, happy days and peaceful nights.


3 Free Apps That Will Make You Money




You’re going shopping anyway, so why not get paid for time spent on your smart phone? Forget clipping paper coupons and trying to organize them as you wander around the stores. Why not let technology do the work for you?

Not only can you save money on purchases you were planning on making anyway, you can now actually make money while you shop.

Here are 3 free apps that will let you make a profit while you shop, and even allow you earn money from the comfort of your own home.


Shopkick –

One of the most often-used, popular apps, Shopkick has features like an at-a-glance look at what’s in the store you’ve just entered, saved deals of items you pick, and “lookbooks” that conveniently organize your favorites so you don’t have to.

Shopkick refreshes its information as new deals happen, so you’ll always stay on top of the savings. Unlock kicks rewarded for browsing by looking at them at home or at work, and you’ll get more kicks at the store the next time you’re there.

This app can also tell you how many kicks are available in each store, mall or even city. With Shopkick, you don’t have to purchase a thing, as you can turn all the kicks you earn by simply browsing into real rewards that you can redeem, such as gift cards.


Ibotta –

In the simple terms given by the Ibotta app makers, this app allows users to choose products, go shopping, snap a photo, and get cash. Basically, the Ibotta app allows you to save money on items you were planning to buy, as well as letting you earn money for buying them.

Ibotta also sends you more savings offers after you redeem them. Once you’ve selected your desired products, you can take surveys or quizzes, read product descriptions and facts, watch videos, share with friends, and other activities.

As you complete activities, you earn money because the activities you’ve completed stay on your phone until you purchase the item. After purchase, you scan the product bar code and upload the receipt to receive your earnings. The cash goes straight into your PayPal account, or you have the option of making a charitable donation with your money.


Jingit –

Jingit is an app that pays you to watch ads and earn Visa gift cards. That’s right. You heard me correctly. They pay you cash to watch ads!

The Jingit app is similar to the Ibotta and Shopkick apps in that you get rewarded for checking in at and shopping at stores, watching ads, taking quizzes and surveys to give feedback to earn cash. You can use your Jingit earnings to either buy music at, or you can get it in the form of a JingitVisaDebitCard, which can be used like a Visa credit card, or be used to withdraw cash from any ATM.

You sign up for Jingit through Facebook, and as a bonus, every friend who joins Jingit through your invite will increase your weekly earn limit…so spread the word! Through the referral program, you have the opportunity to increase your weekly earnings to $10, and making $40 a month for shopping and browsing you’d likely do anyway is a pretty great deal.


Your time is worth money, and money-making apps like Shopkick, Ibotta, and Jingit give consumers the respect they deserve. Download these apps today to start using your phone to vote with your dollars while you earn more of them.


A Culinary World Tour: Chicken 4 Ways in 30 Minutes




As much as we’d love the luxury of long, relaxing hours in the kitchen to cook at our leisure, life doesn’t always allow us that kind of time. That’s why we’ve compiled these 30 minute chicken-based meals for your convenience.


Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 roll refrigerated polenta, cut into slices
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can (4 ounces) mushroom pieces and stems, drained
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over high. Cook half of polenta slices in oil, about 5 to 8 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining polenta slices, and remove from skillet, covering all slices to keep them warm.
  1. In same skillet, cook chicken, onion, bell pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning (or oregano) and salt over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  1. Add tomatoes and mushrooms, heat to boiling, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.
  1. Sprinkle chicken mixture and polenta slices with freshly chopped parsley, and serve.


Greek Chicken and Pasta


  • 3 cups uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped chicken
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Cook onion in oil until softened, stirring frequently. Add dressing, tomatoes and chicken.
  1. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot. Stir in spinach and cook until it starts to wilt.
  1. Toss pasta with chicken mixture in a large bowl, top with feta cheese and finely diced cucumber, and serve.


Green Chile Chicken Alfredo


  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) Alfredo pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Cook chicken and garlic in oil, stirring occasionally, until chicken is fully cooked and no longer pink in center.
  1. Stir in Alfredo sauce, and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently.
  1. Spoon chicken mixture over pasta, sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro, and serve.


Thai Peanut Chicken and Noodles


  • 8 ounces uncooked thin spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned into strips
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup chopped salted peanuts
  1. Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high and cook chicken, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked. Add green onions and bell pepper, and cook 4 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  1. In a small bowl, mix broth, cayenne pepper, salt and cornstarch. Stir into chicken and vegetables, and then add peanut butter. Cook 2 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Spoon over spaghetti, top with chopped peanuts, and serve.


We’ve given you Italian, Greek, Mexican and Thai recipes from which to choose, and we know you’re busy, so pick out your favorite and give it a try tonight. You’re only 30 minutes away from a delicious dinner!






3 Cheers for Cheesecake! How to Pair Desserts with Wine



Pairing desserts with wine isn’t easy, but when it’s done well, it’s a deliciously elegant treat that can make your gathering an instant success.

A general rule for finding the right wine to compliment a dessert is to make sure the wine is a bit sweeter than the dessert in most cases, but not all. Sometimes a crisp, dry wine can be just the thing to offset a particular flavor in the best way possible.

As with pairing wines and other foods, when pairing with desserts, it’s still important to strike a balance between acidity and sweetness. Below, we’ve given you a list of popular desserts and some wines you might serve with them to bring out the best in both.

  1. Classic Cheesecake—

The rich, creamy texture of a plain cheesecake works great with sparkling wines, Champagne or nice Sauternes. Depending on the flavors you choose to add to your cheesecake, such as different types of fruits, you may want to go in a different direction with your beverage.

  1. Apricot-Glazed Cheesecake—

An orange Muscat wine would be a lively pairing with any dessert featuring apricots, as the citrus would brighten the potentially heavy honey-like qualities of the glaze and enhance the fruitiness of the apricots.

  1. Chocolate Cheesecake—

A vintage port is the go-to wine for any chocolate and vino partnership, but don’t write off the lighter reds, as a late harvest zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon can also serve as a good match. Generally, as the desserts get darker and richer, so do the wines, so with something as light as a chocolate-flavored cheesecake, you can get away with a lighter wine.

  1. Caramel/Turtle Cheesecake—

To properly balance the buttery decadence of caramel, red wine is definitely your number one choice. A Pinot noir or nice Shiraz would be light and sweet, allowing the rich caramel to shine while still keeping the balance between acid and sugar.

  1. Pumpkin Cheesecake—

Popular around the holidays, the spicy, cinnamon notes of a pumpkin cheesecake are beautifully brought out by a white wine, pink champagne, or a Riesling, which can soften the spiciness, allowing the flavors to be appreciated without overpowering the taste buds.

  1. Strawberry/Blueberry/Raspberry Cheesecake—

A light sparkling white wine, such as a Moscato d’Asti will enhance the sweet and dynamic notes of the berries on your cheesecake, but if you’d prefer something less sweet, a light rosé will work as well.

  1. Almond, Pecan or Walnut Cheesecake—

If your cheesecake recipe involves nuts, or perhaps a glaze involving fruit and nuts, remember that nuts pair wonderfully with a light Madeira or a sherry with nutty undertones. If your nutty glaze involves apples, a Pinot Gris, blueberry or even an Anjou wine can also be a good match.

  1. Lemon/Key Lime Cheesecake—

As with the apricots, citrus fruits are also best served with a Muscat, sparkling white wine or Champagne to keep the flavors light and refreshing.

Don’t forget that pairing desserts like cheesecakes with wine doesn’t have to be an occasional after-dinner activity. You can even have a theme party if you’d like where the sole purpose of your gathering is to try new wines and cheesecakes together. Take notes, take pictures, and have a sweet time. Enjoy!

Gifted Children: 10 Signs Your Kid is Super Smart



Gifted children often go unidentified, leading to boredom and frustration in the classroom, which can appear to be ADHD or other behavioral disorders. These improper diagnoses can prevent intelligent kids from reaching their full potential academically, as well as disrupting their emotional growth and well-being.

When smart, sensitive children are treated as troublemakers because they have different needs or require extra mental stimulation, this condemnation from the authority figures in their lives can lead to feelings of rejection and a defiant attitude, turning the negative labels into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

This problem makes it very important to recognize gifted children as soon as possible, with many schools now performing intelligence tests (such as the OLSAT) on the entire student population, beginning as early as 1st grade.

Below are 10 signs to help you know if your child may be intellectually or creatively gifted:


  1. A Restless Brain—

Gifted kids have trouble focusing on subjects that don’t interest them, and much of the time when this happens in a school setting, this disinterest stems from the fact that they are being forced to sit through and “learn” concepts along with the rest of the class that the gifted child has already mastered.


  1. Many Questions— 

When a child asks questions constantly, especially about the way things work, this can be a characteristic of giftedness. If they seek knowledge beyond the basic answers, or want to study very specific concepts, this can also be a sign of an extremely bright young mind.


  1. Endless Energy—

A gifted child often has a body that races along in an attempt to keep up with their rapidly moving mind. This constant mental and physical movement can lead to difficulty sleeping, which you may notice during infanthood; or in the form of an early end to daily toddler naps. It can also lead to a misdiagnosis of ADHD in a child not kept intellectually challenged.


  1. Super Sensitivity—

Along with advanced intelligence, gifted children may also show sensitivity beyond what a child in their age group normally possesses. These kids may still be of average maturity for their age while empathetically advanced, causing them emotional issues that may incorrectly present as behavioral disorders.


  1. Perfectionism, Please—

Gifted children hate making mistakes, and will often set overly high expectations, becoming agitated and upset when they don’t achieve them immediately. If your child gets frustrated, angry or gives up easily when not instantly good at something, this may be the cause.


  1. Natural Leaders—

If you’ve noticed your child tries to dominate the situations or manage groups in which he or she is placed, this can be a sign of intelligence. While shy children can be gifted too, it is very common for smart kids to be opinionated and outspoken, causing them to be seen as leaders by their peers.


  1. Intense Focus—

The same gifted children who become unfocused and disruptive when bored by topics they’re not interested in will show an amazing power of concentration concerning anything of interest to them.


  1. Advanced Language Skills—

Precocious early reading abilities and a large vocabulary for their age are two common signs that a child may be gifted.


  1. Challenges Authority—

With a quick-moving, inquisitive mind comes the need for answers, which can directly clash with the “shut up and do what I say” approach of many authority figures. Rather than robotically doing as they’re told, gifted children are often labeled as rebellious because they question how things are done.

While children definitely need to learn to be respectful, and that there is a time and a place to ask questions or challenge the system, many people misinterpret the curiosity and problem solving skills exhibited by gifted kids as disrespect, not realizing the child is simply using the intellect beyond their years with which they’ve been gifted.


  1. Unusual Interests—

Gifted children are known for finding something that fascinates or challenges their mind, and wanting to delve deeper into the subject than what would be average for their age. They may also start odd collections of things typically not considered collectible.



While there is no universally accepted definition of gifted, generally students who score 130 or higher on IQ tests, show consistently high academic achievement, or test 2 or more grade levels above average for their age are considered intellectually gifted. Children who show advanced artistic or musical talent may also be considered creatively gifted.

No matter what the definition may be, it is clear that gifted children have different psychological and educational needs that should be addressed and supported by the parents, teachers and other adult advocates in their lives as early as possible. If you believe you may have a gifted kid, communicate with your school’s administrators to ensure your child receives the academic and emotional encouragement they need to thrive.