Tuesday

Easy Crockpot Soups

How to make crock-pot split pea soup


Winter and fall weather often mean we are searching for more cost effective meals that are nourishing as well as hearty. Split pea soup is one option when you are searching for an easy meal for your family. Split pea soup can be served by itself with salad or may be served with crackers, as a side dish to a complete meal or may be a meal in itself. Depending on how large a serving you are dishing out, you may find that it is hearty enough for the largest of appetites. If you are planning on serving pea soup as the main part of your meal, consider including ham in the recipe. Simply chop ham into bite sized chunks and add to the crock pot one hour before it is finished.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 pound dry green split peas
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 large onion (1 cup diced)
  • 4 large potatoes (2 cups chopped)
  • 1/2 lb salt pork
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 medium Bay Leaves

Helpful Hints:

  • You may substitute yellow split peas for green
  • You may substitute whole dry green peas
  • Salt Pork is optional and can be eliminated
  • Diced (or chopped) Ham may be added for flavor
  • Use caution when adding salt and pepper as the crock pot intensifies flavors

Step One: Initial Preparation

Chop the salt pork into 2X2 cubes and lace in a pre-heated skillet.

Add onions and saute until the onions are transparent. Stirring frequently will ensure the onions are not scorched.Once the onions are transparent, you may add them to the bottom of the crock pot.

Note: This step is optional. You may cube the salt pork and place it into the crock pot with the vegetables if you desire.

Step Two: Preparing Peas

Using a colander with small holes, empty the bag of split peas into the colander under running cold water. Carefully examine and remove any rocks or other debris from the peas. Remember, that since peas are picked raw and typically by machine it is not unusual to find debris in them. Place into crock pot when finished.

Important note: If you have elected to use whole peas instead of split peas, you may want to soak them overnight. This will keep the recipe from taking longer to cook.

Step Three: Add Vegetables

After preparing carrots and potatoes and rinsing, place them into the crock pot. Immediately empty water into the crock pot and add salt, pepper and bay leaves. Set crock pot to high and cook for six (6) hours.

If you have decided to include ham in your pea soup, you should place it into the crock pot (chopped) at the beginning of the fifth (5th) hour of cooking. You may also place the ham into the crock pot at the beginning of the cooking stage if the ham is pre-cooked. Do not use raw pork.

Step Four: Serving

Remove the bay leaves from the crock pot and the pea soup is ready to serve. Serve piping hot with oyster crackers or Italian bread. If you are serving pea soup as a side dish, this recipe will serve 10 - 12 people. If you are serving it as a main meal, you can serve 6 with this recipe.

Next page: Crock Pot White Clam Chowder

Simple homemade soups

Chicken Soup - The Ultimate Comfort Food

Many of us have had chicken soup when we were sick. In fact, chances are that a parent or grandparent provided us with chicken soup when we were suffering from any range of maladies including colds, flu or even an upset stomach. For many, chicken soup has remained the ultimate in comfort foods -- it almost always makes us feel better.
Most chicken soup is very good for us, provided that we are not loading it with salt and other not so nutritious additives. Chicken soup can help warm a child who has been playing in the snow, be a great after school snack after a walk home in cold weather or be a simple, inexpensive and hearty meal.
Making chicken soup from scratch is not hard to do and it is very versatile. There are many variations for chicken soup, this recipe is for chicken noodle soup. Chicken noodle soup can be very hearty if made with egg noodles or other types of pasta if desired.
Step 1 - Soup base
Making your own chicken soup stock from scratch is not difficult to do. To make your chicken soup base, pour two quarts of water into a pot and add the chicken. You may use a whole chicken or chicken parts. It is recommended that the skin be removed, however, you may elect to do this after cooking. 2 lbs of chicken parts (or whole chicken) should be boiled for approximately 45 minutes over medium heat.
Step 2 - Preparing meat for soup
Once you have boiled the chicken, remove from broth and allow to sit until cool. In the meantime, place the chicken broth into a refrigerator safe bowl (or leave in pan) and place in the refrigerator. Allow the broth to get cold enough to skim the fat from the top of the broth. After the chicken has thoroughly cooled, remove skin (if it has been left on) and then remove meat from all the bones and discard bones and skin.
Step 3 - Soup basics
Combine the chicken as well as all of the other ingredients (except egg noodles) into a large pot. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for two hours until carrots are tender. It is important to note that the potatoes may be very soft. They are supposed to be used more for thickening the broth and adding flavor so do not be concerned about this.
Step 4 - Adding noodles
Return the soup to a full boil and add one pound of egg noodles. Cook stirring as needed for approximately eight minutes until noodles are tender. Serve piping hot as a side dish or a main dish with salad and bread or crackers.

Ingredients needed

2 lbs. chicken parts (skinned)
1 lb. wide egg noodles
1/2 lb. sliced carrots (approx 1 1/2 cups)
3 stalks of celery sliced (about 1/2 cup)
2 large potatoes (diced - about 3/4 cup)
1 large onion (2/3 of a cup)
2 medium Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. Sage
1/2 tsp. Thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 quarts of water

Tips and tricks
  • You may elect to use all white meat or dark meat if you prefer
  • Whole roaster may be substituted for parts
  • Skin may be removed after cooking
  • Fat may be removed by refrigerating broth after cooking

Simple soup thickening

If you like your soup a bit thicker, here is an easy option:
Ingredients:
2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
--Optional items
1 teaspoon Gravy Master (for darkening)
White or black pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Process:
Carefully blend cold water (or substituted broth) with cornstarch. Blend completely until the mixture is completely lump free. Add salt, pepper and Gravy Master if desired. Mix thoroughly until the entire mixture is a uniform color.
For best results, make sure the soup is at (or near) a rolling boil. This will ensure a better blending of the mixture. Slowly pour the cold cornstarch mixture into the pot of boiling soup. Caution: Do this slowly and stir constantly to avoid any lumps! Once the mixture is mixed into the soup turn the heat down to medium.
Soup should be simmered for an additional 15 minutes to allow the mixture to fully absorb the flavors in the soup. Serve piping hot. This recipe will thicken most soups up to 8 quarts to the consistency of beef stew.

See the next page: Beef Vegetable Soup!

Saturday

Back and Neck Injuries from Rear-End Collisions

Florida has numerous roadway accidents annually. In fact, during the first nine months of 2018, 175,000 serious injuries were recorded according to Florida's Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES). There is very little data providing definitive information pertaining only to rear-end collisions. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated in 2015, slightly more than one-third of roadway accidents were rear-end collisions.

It is Difficult to Avoid a Rear-End Collision

While none of us are expecting to be involved in a car accident, we are less prepared for a rear-end collision. If you see a vehicle approaching an intersection that you suspect may strike your car from the front or side, you have a few seconds to brace yourself. Typically, this is not the case in a rear-end collision. Chances are, you are not anticipating much, if any, activity from behind you, regardless of how carefully you are watching what is happening.

Rear-end collisions sometimes occur when you come to a stop at an intersection and the person behind you fails to stop. They may also occur when another driver fails to properly control their vehicle on wet roadways or when they are simply distracted and fail to keep a proper distance behind you. Regardless of the reason, you seldom have a chance to get out of the way of this type of an accident meaning your body is going to suffer as a result.

Rear End Collisions the Impact on Your Body 

  • Whiplash — common in rear-end collisions, whiplash occurs generally when your head is forced forward unexpectedly. In most cases, symptoms arise within 24 hours of an accident. According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms are wide-ranging and may have long-lasting side effects.
  • Spinal Trauma — in more serious cases, a victim who has suffered a spinal trauma after a rear-end collision could need permanent, long-term care. John Hopkins Medicine estimates there are 12,000 new cases of spinal trauma annually, some of them resulting from auto accidents.
  • Head Injury — can range from a mild concussion to traumatic brain injury and can be debilitating. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, nearly 40 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are the result of a roadway accident.

Rear End Collisions and Fault

In nearly all cases, a rear end collision is the fault of the driver who struck you. This is because one must maintain complete control over their vehicle when they are on the roadways. Whether you stop quickly because a person unexpectedly entered the roadway, or you are one in a line of people impacted because an accident occurred behind you resulting in a chain accident, chances are the person who struck you will be responsible.

Since not every driver exercises proper caution on Florida roadways, the driver behind you may be distracted by a cell phone, GPS or other electronic device meaning they are not paying attention to your signals. This means you could be struck when changing lanes or approaching an intersection intending to make a turn.

Damage to Vehicle, Medical Bills, Time Lost From Work

Any accident on the roadway can lead to unexpected financial burdens. After any car accident you should be thoroughly examined by a physician to ensure you have not suffered a serious injury. Because your body suffered a trauma, your system will be flooded with adrenaline which can mask symptoms. In some instances, symptoms will not appear for 24 – 48 hours, and in some cases, could appear later.

For accidents which result in minor injuries, you may only have to see the doctor one or two times after an accident. However, in more serious rear-end collisions, you could suffer a long-term injury which may result in the need for rehabilitation, skilled nursing care, or surgical procedures.

In addition to the medical bills, you may also lose time from work. This can be costly and could lead to a financial hardship for your family. The person responsible for your injuries may be held liable for your financial damages. Keep in mind, the more serious your injury, the longer you may be unable to work. In some cases, such as in the case of a traumatic brain injury, you may not be able to return to work at all.

Finally, the damage to your vehicle after a rear-end collision may be minor, or your car may not be repairable. This means an added expense you are not expecting. You should not have to bear this burden.

Rear End Collisions and Florida's No Fault Insurance

Keep in mind, while Florida's no-fault insurance rules mean you should file a claim with your own insurance company, there are instances when you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver. This means your insurance company may pay your claim, but if your expenses exceed your upper coverage limits, you may file a personal injury lawsuit to recover additional damages.

There may also be other damages which you may be entitled to collect from the driver responsible for your injuries. In addition to your actual costs, they may be required to pay punitive damages, ongoing costs of medical care, and non-monetary damages such as for pain and suffering. The only way to determine if you can recover financially from a rear-end collision is to work with an attorney who has experience handling these types of accidents. You want someone who will review your case, understand the facts surrounding the accident, and inform you of your options.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

Many accident victims are unaware of their legal rights after an accident. Therefore, it is important to speak with an attorney who has experience with rear-end collisions as soon as practical after an accident. Working with a lawyer can help preserve your rights and ensure you are treated fairly. The right attorney will review your case and help you determine if a personal injury lawsuit may result in your getting compensation for your financial losses and other eligible damages.

Friday

Clean House and Pad Your Savings Account

We're notoriously bad about keeping items in our homes we seldom, if ever use. Whether it's last years winter coat, children's toys, or books piling up in a spare room, we all have items we don't let go of which seem to accumulate. It's possible to clean house and clean up in the process! You can help grow your savings account and get rid of unused or unwanted items at the same time.

Create a Plan of Action

Depending on the size of your home, this could be a multi-day project. Get your family involved in this process. Whether you're considering adding money to your savings account or you're going to use the funds raised to do something fun, you should have a plan of action. First, find a single location where you can sort all the items you think you should get rid of and then get to work going room to room, closet to closet, and hiding spot to hiding spot!

What Stays and What Goes

Cleaning out our homes is never easy. We often save items simply because we don't want to part with them. Not all items we keep have sentimental value, instead we are determined not to let something with "time left" go to waste. Here are some tips to decide what stays and what goes:
  • Unworn clothing — if you have items sitting in your dresser or closet which has not been worn for a year or more, think about putting it into the "sell" stack. If something no longer fits, it's a good idea to get rid of it. Make sure to check seasonal clothing which may be packed away.
  • Unused toys — children outgrow toys all the time. Unless you're expecting a grandchild in the next year, it's time to consider recycling those toys to help you pad your savings account. You might be surprised at how much a used toy in good condition will fetch.
  • Board games — if you and your family stockpiled board games and are no longer using them, it's time to consider parting with them. If all the pieces are intact, put them in a "sell" pile. If there are pieces missing, consider tossing them.
  • Previously read books — typically once our bookcases are full, we'll store books anyplace we find an empty spot. If you're going to read a book a second time, or if you have editions you're partial to, hang onto them. Otherwise, it's time to consider selling or donating the books.

Turning Trash into Cash

Now that you've assembled everything you feel can be disposed of, it's time to consider what to do with everything you've decided to part with. There are several options you can consider, including holding a yard sale. Keep in mind however, yard sales are a lot of work and unless you're located on a main road, it could be challenging to get anyone to attend. There are other options that you can and should explore.

Facebook allows you to sell items online from your own page. Using this option allows you to show photos, set a price, and people can direct message you if they're interested. When your friends share the images, their friends can also see what you have available.

Ebay is always an option but remember you're going to pay a fee to them in exchange for putting an item up for sale. A better option may be to put an advertisement on Craigslist if you feel comfortable doing so.

Consignment shops can be gold mines to get rid of items that are in great shape. Remember, you'll probably have to share a part of the sale with the owners, but they'll take care of everything on your behalf.


Set a time frame to get rid of everything you have put into your piles to get rid of and whatever remains after that deadline, can be donated. Clothing can be donated to a local shelter, games and toys can be donated to a community center, and books can be donated to your local senior center or library. Remember, whatever you were able to sell is like having found money, and can be used to pay down debt, add to your savings account, or to splurge on a night out with your family.

Monday

Fun and Entertaining Ideas on a Budget

One of the many challenges of being in debt is entertainment. Going to the movies, dinner out, or a family vacation may not be possible on a budget. However, that does not mean you have to bypass all forms of entertainment since there are many low-cost or free options.

Find Cheap or Free Museum Passes

If you check your local library, you may be able to obtain low-cost or free museum passes which your family can borrow. Many communities offer these passes on a regular basis to patrons of the library. There may be some restrictions which apply, but the cost savings can be significant. You may also wish to contact your local community center or senior center to see what resources they have available.
In most instances, these passes are donated by another patron, so they may have waiting lists, so you will want to plan ahead. Instead of purchasing a high-cost meal, pack a lunch from home and carry it along with you. Exploring local museums is educational, and can also be another way to enjoy fun and entertaining activities on a budget.

Free or Inexpensive Community Events

Many towns post some type of community calendar on a regular basis. You may find it on a local Facebook page or on your town's regular website. Check out upcoming events and you could find activities like movie nights, breakfasts run by community groups like Lions Clubs or Masons, or pot luck community dinners.
Most of these events will cost between $3.00 and $10.00 per person, but they are far less expensive than going to a restaurant. Additionally, you will be supporting community activities and donations provided by these groups.

Reading Groups, or Dance and Exercise Classes

Some people may find dance and exercise classes are available through a local senior center, community center, or their local VFW or American Legion. These classes are usually offered free, or for $5.00 or less per person. This is a great way to meet others in your community, get some exercise and enjoy yourself without breaking your budget.
If you love to read, there are often reading groups locally who are in search of new members. Books are selected by the group for reading and most of the time can be obtained from your library.  If you cannot find a class or group like this locally, consider approaching your local senior or community center and being an organizer of one of these events in your community.

Consider Community Service Organizations

Many communities have numerous volunteer organizations including town beautification committees, fraternal organizations, or newcomers' clubs. These groups often charge a membership fee, but they are also open to having someone volunteer their time without being a member. Some of these groups organize bus trips, town appreciation days, and other community events which you could have the opportunity to participate in for a fraction of what it would cost if you were not volunteering. In some cases, you may be able to participate for no fee.
Getting involved with a town project which involves your entire family can be very rewarding. Not only will you be showing your children the value of community involvement, you will get the added benefit of meeting people you might otherwise not have the opportunity to get to know.
Getting your financial life in order is challenging, particularly since you will be cutting corners to reduce your debt. Participating in fun and entertaining activities on a budget does not mean you have to stay home every night, you merely need to find events that fit your lifestyle. Get creative, think outside the box, and continue working towards your goal of being debt-free.