A Glimpse of the Yellow Branch Private Meal 0A group of Texan visitors found Yellow Branch Plantation through third home and requested a private meal. We made delicious shrimp martini and crap cake appetizers, smoked salmon caesar salad with homemade sour dough croutons, smoked filet mignon, our famous jasmine rice, broccolini, butternut squash au gratin, fresh bread, and bread pudding.
- Thomas Cox
8 Worst Wedding Food Mistakes Couples Make, According to Chefs 0Out of all the wedding planning activities engaged couples are responsible for, choosing the food for the wedding is the most anticipated. Tasting options is fun and delicious, but also very important. As experienced wedding caterers, we can tell you: guests appreciate good reception food.
- Thomas Cox
Are Grocery Stores Scamming You By Misting Produce? 0Grocery stores are misting produce to make them look more appealing and weigh more, which causes them to be more expensive. But to much water could make these vegetables spoil.
- Thomas Cox
Yellow Branch Plantation: Private Meal 0A group of Texan visitors found Yellow Branch Plantation through third home and requested a private meal. We made delicious shrimp martini and crap cake appetizers, smoked salmon caesar salad with homemade sour dough croutons, smoked filet mignon, our famous jasmine rice, broccolini, butternut squash au gratin, fresh bread, and bread pudding.
- Thomas Cox
Beautiful Funeral Food 0The presentation for the funeral buffet was beautiful. Rose floral arrangements and green accents added to the varied height of our dishes to make the tablescapes cohesive and pleasing to the eye. The funeral buffet menu consisted of finger sandwiches, sweat heat chicken fingers, spinach dip, and more delicious items.
- Thomas Cox
11 Things to Tell Your Kids Before They Stay Home Alone 0
My kids are ages 3, 7 and 10 and I’ve always wondered when it’s “ok” to let them stay home for a while on their own. Age 10? Age 13? Different people have different schools of thought on this one. Even though most of us probably were home alone as kids at a MUCH younger age, it is a different world and we do need to be cautious. In my opinion, I think it depends on the child’s personality and level of maturity. Some kids may be ready sooner than others. I also think it’s a matter of their level of knowledge.
When trying to decide the right time for children to stay home alone, we often look back to the first time we stayed home alone as kids. After talking to my mom, I realized I was getting off the bus with my kindergarten sister at only eight years old. We stayed home alone from then until my mom got home from work. Times have changed, though.
My oldest will be 11 in November so we have started “prepping” her for this big step. I have left her home twice for ten minutes at a time while I dropped off my sister in law at work. We addressed a few things before I did, but I know we have much more to cover before I let her stay home for a longer period of time. If you have older kids and are wondering if now is the right time, ask yourself a few questions:
How responsible is your child?
Can they be counted on to complete homework and chores without being reminded?
Are they good rule followers?
Do they usually make good decisions or is he or she prone to taking risks?
How do they react to unexpected situations?
Do they panic or keep a level head?
Do they give up quickly and turn to you for solutions?
Would they know what to do in an emergency?
Have they had any training?
Would they know what to do in different situations.
These are just questions and in no way is this an exact test to know if your child is ready. Just some things to keep in mind. After you just whether your child is ready or not, here are some things to cover with them so they can be better prepared for an unexpected situation:
1. WHO TO CALL FOR HELPObviously, not all emergencies require 911. For times like these, there should be a list of relatives and trusted neighbors they can contact if they can’t reach you. This list should be in an easy to find place or programmed into their phones.
Side note: Most kids at this age do not have cell phones and the houses these days do not have landlines. We are looking at getting a cheap burner phone and teaching them how to use it in case of emergency and programming important numbers in it. We will also teach this to our 7 year old.
2. FIRST AID
This one is huge. The only way to ward off panic is to arm them with the knowledge of what to do in an emergency. My kids haven’t done this yet but it’s on my list. I know I’ll be signing up my girls for a babysitting class when they can and my son does scouts so he learns some there. No matter what, they NEED to know when and how to call 911. They need to know what is a real emergency, such as fire or injury, and what is not. They need to know to call 911 before they even call you. Make sure you give examples of when NOT to call.
3. YOUR FIRE SAFETY PLAN
Every family should have a fire safety plan, and they should have it memorized. Make sure they know if a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide monitor starts to alarm, they should get out of the house immediately, and only then go to a designated spot and then make the emergency call. Go over and practice escape routes and locations of escape ladders with them (if you have them). Make sure they know to stay low and the classic “stop, drop, and roll” too. If you live in an area with frequent natural dangers like tornadoes, make sure they know what to do if the siren sounds.
4. HOW TO SHUT OFF UTILITIES
This is a good one for us parents to know as well. Consider an overflowing toilet. Their phone call to you should be to confirm they did everything correctly. They should know how to shut the water off to each toilet and sink, and where the main water shut-off is in your house. If you have natural gas, they should know where to shut that off, too.
5. WHAT TO DO IF THE POWER GOES OUT
We will not leave our kids home alone at night at this age but it is good to go over. Your kids should know where the flashlights and batteries are kept in the event of a power outage. If a storm pops up, they should be taught to think ahead and grab the flashlights before the power goes out. I would not advise them being allowed to use candles, but that’s just me!
6. WHAT APPLIANCES ARE THEY ALLOWED TO USE
This will vary per family and child, but make sure your kids know what they are allowed and not allowed to use. Can they use the stove? If so, cover the emergencies that could arise with that (like different types of fires and what natural gas smells like). Are they microwave only? Make sure you go over no metal in the microwave and explain what they can and can’t reheat and how to properly use it.
7. WHAT TO DO IF THE PHONE RINGS
This is not a problem in our house because we do not have a landline, and only the 4-5 people whose names are in the phone should be calling. You may want to teach them that if the same number calls the house cell phone 2 times in a row then they need to answer because that is one of us from a foreign line. The easiest thing by far is to let it go to voicemail, but if you do have your child answer it to make sure they never say they are home alone. They should also never say who they are.
8. WHO THEY CAN’T CALL OR HAVE OVER
Stay away from this. Don’t go down this road.
9. WHAT TO DO IF THE DOORBELL RINGS
Making a rule never to open the door is almost a given, but should your child answer through the door? This is a tricky one. I’d have to lean towards NO, but, you’d have to decide that for yourself. You also need to cover particular situations, even as unlikely as they seem. Teach your kids never to respond to “Your parents are hurt, I need you to come with me now.” This is by far a more common tactic than “Want some candy?” Reassure them that a trusted relative or friend would get them if something went wrong. Even if a police officer comes to the door telling them to open it, instruct them to tell the officer that they will call the police department for confirmation before opening the door.
10. ARE THEY ALLOWED OUTSIDE?
This depends on your neighborhood and their age. Streams, creeks, and pools are completely off limits. They should know how to handle the dog needing to go out and what to do if a pet runs off too. Otherwise I would say no.
11. YOUR TECHNOLOGY RULES
Lastly, you should be you need to be very clear about how and when they can use the TV, computer, and iPads. They should know what they can use and what they can’t and what sites or games are allowed and which are blacklisted. As a parent, you need to have a plan and checklist for what you kids need to do. Be disciplined and give them tasks to do.
This is a big step and needs to be something that you teach in steps. Start small and work to longer periods. Look at these 11 things as a way to go over the things that you may not have thought of. Role play. Do this with your kids, it will make a huge difference. Do something like running to the gas station as practice. More than anything PRAY. Pray for protection over you home and kids daily.
TEXT BY Thomas Cox and Martha Kendall Custard
- Thomas Cox
If You Read, You Might Be Happier Than Those Who Don’t 0
Good news! Amazon Kindle just put out a new global survey revealing that books can make you happier! Kindle surveyed 27,305 people in thirteen different countries. The study shows that people who read often claim to be happy more than irregular readers and non-readers. The survey was conducted by Kelton Global. Data revealed that 71% of weekly readers felt happier than irregular readers or non-readers (which made up a staggering 55%!).
The survey also provided some great new info on avid readers. Over 80% of the people surveyed give reading credit for improving their relationships. 30% who are married or currently in a relationship say they would question their relationship based on what their partner chooses to read.
More than 70% of survey participants say they have bailed on another activity to make more time for reading. In fact, countries like Mexico, Brazil, India, Italy, and Japan have participants who claim they’d rather read than get a full night’s sleep.
If you are trying to read more books, consider setting reading challenge on Goodreads! You can even spend your spare time in the car, cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, etc reading by getting an Audible or Scribd subscription. Plus, you can check out our article on how to read more books.
Text By Thomas Cox and Martha Kendall Custard
- Thomas Cox
Healthy One Sheet Pan Dinners 0
Healthy Sheet Pan Dinners
One pan meals are the best! The cooking and the cleanup are both quick and easy. Here are over 20 healthy sheet pan dinners to make your weeknights move a bit faster.
Sheet pan dinners are recipes that place your entire meal on the same pan. It makes doing the dishes better, and it makes cooking easier too. Here are some things about sheet pan dinners to keep in mind:
- You need a large sheet pan.
- Your entire meal will usually fit on that sheet pan.
- This makes meal prep and baking super easy.
- When the timer goes off, your whole meal will be ready to eat!
Another positive to sheet pan dinners is the way the flavors mesh when baking in the same pan. It makes the meal feel more put together. Sheet pan meals are obviously best eaten straight away, but they are great as leftovers, too. You can throw them over some spinach for a great salad at lunchtime the next day.
Lemon Garlic Chicken Sheet Pan Meal – This lemon garlic chicken meal is super easy, making it perfect for a busy weeknight. It features chicken, asparagus, and potatoes in a light lemon garlic sauce.
One Pan Za’atar Chicken Bake – This Middle Eastern dish contains za’atar roasted chicken, red onion, and butternut squash. Try topping it with a bit of tahini!
Sheet Pan Chicken Sausage and Roasted Veggies – If you love broccoli and sweet potatoes, you will love this delicious chicken sausage dish.
One Pan Roasted Chicken with Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts – If you love brussel sprouts, you will love this roasted chicken dish. The brussels go great with the chicken, red onions, and butternut squash.
Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas – A one sheet pan is a great way to make fajitas. It makes this easy dish even easier.
Sheet Pan Egg Chorizo and Egg Bake by Lexi’s Clean Kitchen – This one sheet pan meal is like hash on a pan. It is so tasty and great for breakfast, brunch, or dinner!
Sheet Pan Meal-Prep Tofu Quinoa Burrito Bowls by Fit Foodie Finds – This meal is a great way to make a bowl while only dirtying one pan.
Sheet Pan Garlic Ginger Chicken & Broccoli by Pinch of Yum – Garlic ginger chicken and veggies are great for meal prepping!
Chicken Sausage, Kalette and Red Onion Sheet Pan Supper by Heartbeet Kitchen – Simple ingredients work together in this dish to create a delicious one sheet pan meal!
Superfood Baked Salmon by Cotter Crunch – Blueberry basil salmon looks amazing. This tasty meal is so quick and easy!
One Sheet Pan Chicken Fried Rice by Creme de la Crumb – Try this sheet pan fried rice!
Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken with Citrus Avocado Salsa by Half Baked Harvest – This citrus avocado Cuban chicken looks amazing.
Sheet Pan Tofu Fajitas by Catching Seeds – Vegetarian fajitas!
One-Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken & Summer Veggies by The Natural Nurturer – This meal makes the most of all the delicious summer veggies.
Middle Eastern Turkey Meatballs Sheet Pan Dinner by How To Eat – Another great Middle Eastern sheet pan dinner!
Sheet Pan Cod with Vegetables in Lemon Herb Sauce by Lexi’s Clean Kitchen – One sheet pan meals are a great way to incorporate fish into your diet.
Balsamic Chicken and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner by Nosh and Nourish – This meal goes great with grains or greens! Turn it into a delicious bowl or a nutritious salad.
Sheet Pan Breakfast Bake by PaleOMG – Another delicious and versatile breakfast recipe! It can be enjoyed at any mealtime.
Sheet Pan Spicy Tofu + Green Beans by Delish Knowledge – This spicy tofu would go great with cauliflower rice!
One-Pan Sweet Potato Broccoli Chicken Bake by The Real Food Dietitians – Who knew veggies roasted with dry fruit could be so delicious?
One-Pan Cauliflower Nachos by Fit Foodies Finds – Healthy nachos with cauliflower for chips!
Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Vegetable Sheet Pan by The Recipe Critic – These Cajun veggies look so colorful and delicious.
Sheet Pan Garlic Tofu & Brussel Sprouts by Emily Kyle Nutrition – Such an all-inclusive meal! This is what we love about one sheet pan dinners.
Text By Thomas Cox and Martha Kendall Custard
- Thomas Cox
7 Easy Weeknight Dinner Recipes 0
1. Easy Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
Keep things simple and make the ultimate grilled cheese paradise.
4 tbsp. butter
8 slices white Hawaiian sweet bread
8 slices sharp cheddar
4 slices provolone
8 pineapple rings
1 c. teriyaki sauce
Recipe By Tiffany Azure
2. No Peek Chicken
Looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal? This no peek chicken is a great option for busy weeknights when you don't have time to stand over the stove. Try it out and let us know how much you like it!
2 c. long grain rice
1 (10.5-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10.5-oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. water
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-oz.) package onion soup mix
Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9”-x-13” baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl mix together rice, soups, water, and oregano then pour into baking dish.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper then place on top of rice mixture. Sprinkle onion soup mix over chicken then cover with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour and 15minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.
- Garnish with parsley before serving.
3. Lemon Shrimp and Leek Spaghetti
This pasta provides nearly a third of your daily fiber goals. With a healthy mix of pre peeled shrimp and frozen peas, it’s the epitome of weeknight-fast.
Serves 4 (serving size: 1 1/4 cups pasta and 1 1/4 cups shrimp mixture
- 8 ounces uncooked whole-grain spaghetti
- 1 pound peeled, deveined raw medium shrimp
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups chopped leek (from 1 large leek)
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (from 3 garlic cloves)
- 2 cups frozen baby sweet peas (about 9 oz.), thawed
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Recipe By KAREN RANKIN
4. Spicy Chickpea Lentil Burgers
- 1/2 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1-15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, very finely diced
- 1 large carrot, very finely chopped or shredded
- 1/4 cup oat bran or oat flour, gluten-free if desired
- Lettuce or Hamburger Buns, to place patty in
- For pico:
- 1 large ripe mango, diced
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
- sea salt, to taste
- To make mango avocado pico: Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Add salt to taste. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Place a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add lentils and 1 1/2 cups of water; bring water to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer lentils for about 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and lentils are very soft and a bit mushy. Drain any excess water and set aside.
- Place the chickpeas, cooked lentils, garlic, cilantro, sea salt, cumin, and chili powder in a food processor and blend until the beans and lentils are very smooth.
- Transfer mixture into large bowl. Stir in onion, jalapeno red pepper and carrot. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add in oat bran a little at a time, and work into mixture with your hands. You want to be able to form patties, but you don't want too much oat bran, or the burgers will fall apart. So use as much as you feel necessary. Because these burgers do not use an egg to bind them, you'll have to firmly shape the patties but still keep them pretty thick so that they don't easily fall apart. Divide into 6 equal portions and shape into thick patties with your hands.
- Heat skillet over medium high heat; add in a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (sometimes I spray both sides of the burger with olive oil cooking spray too). Place a few burgers in at a time and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Repeat with remaining patties and continue to add olive oil as needed.
- Place patties in lettuce or in a bun and top with mango avocado pico.
I love these burgers with a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream (not vegan).
Serve in lettuce or on a bun of choice. Calorie count does not include bun or lettuce.
Recipe By Ambitious Kitchen
5. Sunny Mushroom Bacon Turkey Burgers
The hot season of summer just got a lot better with the Sunny Mushroom Bacon Turkey Burger. Two whole wheat hamburger buns packed with a delightful experience in between.
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms (about 4 medium)
- 3 tablespoons soft bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound extra-lean ground turkey
- 4 turkey bacon strips, halved
- 4 thin slices cheddar cheese
- 4 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
- Additional barbecue sauce
- Dill pickle slices, optional
Recipe Originally made by: Taste of Home
6. Nutritious Feta Chicken Burgers
Let your taste buds experience something that is beneficial and still very delicious. This Feta Chicken Burger adds a more healthy dynamic to your summer dishes.
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
- 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted sweet red pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1-1/2 pounds lean ground chicken
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
- Lettuce leaves and tomato slices, optional
Recipe by Taste of Home
7. Inviting Garlic Herb Salmon Sliders
Nutritious Fresh Salmon with unbeatable herbs.
- 1/3 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 whole wheat dinner rolls, split and toasted
- 1/4 cup reduced-fat garlic-herb spreadable cheese
- 8 small lettuce leaves
Recipe by Taste of Home
- Thomas Cox
Crazy White Party Graduation Brunch: Milk, Donuts, and Beignets 0White party catering was a blast! This catering decor looks amazing and fits the white party theme perfectly. We served beignets, milk and donuts, and more at this fun graduation brunch.
- Thomas Cox