Monday

Family Recipes: Stuffed peppers

If you are looking for a healthy, low cost family meal, stuffed peppers may be one meal that you can make. Whether you bake them in the oven or in your crockpot they are a great family meal that can be served alone, with rice, with pasta or simply with fresh baked bread.

You need:

8 Peppers - cleaned and tops removed (you can use "colored" peppers but green ones work best)
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup white rice (not minute rice)
1 large onion
salt, pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 can tomato paste
2 large cans crushed tomato (24 oz each)
Shredded cheese (if desired)


Prepare:

Cut the tops off the peppers and dice the usable parts of the tops. Combine these small diced peppers with ground beef in a large bowl. Add seasonings, onion, rice and tomato paste and blend together until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Stuff peppers with meat mixture - packing full (remember the mixture will shrink as the hamburg cooks) and place in baking dish or crock pot.

Cover with crushed tomato (add additional Italian seasoning and garlic if desired) making sure to spread evenly over peppers.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese if desired. Return to oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly and just slightly browned, usually about 10 minutes.

Crock Pot Cooking

Place your prepared peppers into the crock pot and follow the same directions above. Set the crock pot on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours (depending on size of pot).

Serve with rice, pasta or bread as desired.

Freeze leftovers and heat in microwave on low heat for approximately 7-10 minutes (from frozen state) to serve a 2nd time.

Makes 8 stuffed peppers.

This is one of the easiest recipes that you will use for stuffed peppers. What is even better about this that you can make them ahead of time, freeze them and you can then reheat them later. Your entire family will love this recipe. The crock pot version is great in the summer since you do not have to heat up the entire kitchen for a meal.  You may also substitute ground turkey, chicken or other meat alternative for ground beef.

Image credit: I, Badseed [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Inexpensive Valentine's Day dinner menus

If your budget is suffering during Valentines Day there is no reason why you can't create an inexpensive Valentines Day dinner menu at home.  It is somewhat ironic that an evening of romance such as Valentines Day is often celebrated in noisy restaurants surrounded by strangers. Let's take a look at some budget-aware dinners that you can make at home without a lot of fuss.

Appetizers

Appetizers need not be expensive to be tasty and appreciated. A cheese board with crackers and fruit could be served along with a glass of wine as a fine appetizer without breaking your budget. For those who are weight-conscious serve hummus as an alternate with pita bread (seasoned or unseasoned).  Hummus can be made easily (and inexpensively) or can be purchased premade.  You can make hummus yourself and it will add an inexpensive appetizer to your Valentines Day dinner menu.

Main Course

Generally the main course is going to be the most costly part of your inexpensive Valentines Day dinner menu. But, with some careful planning it does not have to be.  Here are some thoughts on inexpensive main dishes:

  • Cornish Hens - Granted these are small but they offer the benefit of being tasty, easy to prepare and cost effective. Prepare them by brushing the skins with olive oil and stuffing them with a bread stuffing and they will be just right for your Valentines Day dinner menu.  Serve with mixed vegetables or with squash for just the right flavor combination.  If you are looking for something more exotic for flavoring you can find hundreds of various recipes for Cornish hens.  Cornish hens are inexpensive, easy to prepare and perfect for a romantic dinner for two.
  • Pork Chops - Pork chops are a favorite of many and can be a tasty low-cost alternative to a pork roast or other expensive cuts of meat. Serve with a baked potato (complete with trimmings) and applesauce and you've got an inexpensive Valentines Day dinner.  Pork chops can be prepared in a variety of ways including simply broiled without a lot of fuss if you are short on time.  Pork Chops are an inexpensive alternate that are available to add to your romantic Valentines Day Dinner.
  • Beef - For beef lovers, watch for sales on Prime Rib, London Broil during the weeks before Valentines Day.  You can prepare several inexpensive beef dinners for those who prefer beef.  Watch for good cuts of beef that are inexpensive or purchase a less expensive cut and follow some easy tenderizing ideas for beef.
  • Vegetarian - For those who prefer a hearty meal without meat, there are countless ways to serve a delicious, inexpensive Valentines Day dinner without meat.  With more and more people becoming health conscious, many will elect to serve one or more of the countless vegetarian recipes that are available.  Being vegetarian does not mean you can not prepare an inexpensive Valentines Day dinner menu.
  • Dessert- No romantic dinner should be without dessert and coffee (or tea).  You can plan an elaborate or a fancy dessert and still provide an inexpensive Valentines Day dinner menu.  Choose the dessert of your choice whether it's a light or heavy one.  Selecting only one dessert recipe will be the hardest part of this portion of your menu!  If you would like to have your coffee more exotic you can purchase a flavored liquid coffee creamer.


Planning a quiet romantic dinner for two for Valentines Day does not mean spending money that you simply cannot afford. With planning and spending wisely you can create an inexpensive Valentines Day dinner menu.

Tuesday

Prepare the perfect turkey

You might be surprised at the number of ways that people have to cook a turkey. You would not think that there were as many options available as there are, but like nearly every other food dish, everyone has their own idea on what works best for them. Most people do not cook turkey except during Thanksgiving or perhaps Christmas, but turkey can be a sensible, healthful alternative at any time.

Leftovers are versatile and may be used in soups, sandwiches or a turkey pot pie. There is no wrong or right way to cook a turkey; as long as the turkey is fully cooked and properly handled, it will most likely be fine. Here are some guidelines on how to cook a turkey.

To get started you will need:
  • Fresh or frozen Turkey (thawed)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Stuffing (if desired)
  • Deep roasting pan
  • Cooking spray
  • Aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer
Tips and tricks pre-cooking

Remember to thoroughly clean the turkey. Remove all of the giblets, neck and organs from the cavities and wash thoroughly in cold water. Be sure that before and after you handle a raw turkey that you wash your hands in hot water; always practice safe food handling procedures.

To thaw a turkey, the preferred method would be in the refrigerator. Soaking the turkey in cold water (with the wrapper on) is also an acceptable method. Never allow the turkey to soak in warm or hot water.

Preparation for cooking

After you have thoroughly cleaned the turkey, it is time to prepare it for the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) while you are preparing the turkey.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels (and discard immediately) and place into a roasting tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray (will help prevent sticking).

Carefully pull back the skin on the sides of the turkey breast.  Take the stick of butter and cut it into four (4) long slices. Carefully push the slices of butter up under the breast skin.  This will help add vital moisture (and flavor) to the turkey.

If you have elected to stuff your turkey, prepare your favorite stuffing recipe and stuff the cavity of the turkey and then truss the legs. Trussing may be done with metal trusses or with twine.  Spray a sufficiently large piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the roasting tin tightly. Place in preheated oven.

Cooking times and browning

If you have stuffed your turkey you should cook it for 25 minutes per pound.  20 minutes per pound is sufficient for turkey you have not stuffed. If you are using a meat thermometer, you should test at the thickest part of the thigh. Many turkeys today come with "pop up" timers that eliminate this step.

When there is about 30 minute remaining in cooking time, remove the aluminum foil from the top of the turkey to allow the turkey to brown. This method should not require any basting and you should have sufficient drippings to make turkey gravy.

Cooking a perfect turkey does not have to be a complicated process. This simple-to-follow method of cooking a turkey will produce a perfectly cooked, moist turkey each time. When you cook a turkey, you should allow it to "rest" for approximately 20 minutes before slicing.

Great money-saving tips for Thanksgiving

Preparing for Thanksgiving can be fun and does not have to be expensive if you plan ahead. Like any other time of year, and especially on holidays, it is easy to blow your budget on what should be a simple meal.  Remember, although many of us have built a family tradition of having a large meal at Thanksgiving, this is more traditionally a time to gather with family and give thanks for what we have.  Here are some great money saving tips for Thanksgiving:
  • Buy a frozen turkey instead of fresh - While a fresh turkey may taste better, a frozen turkey can save a lot of money. Check out your local markets and you may find that the cost of a frozen turkey is between thirty and sixty cents a pound cheaper than a fresh turkey.  While the preparation of a Thanksgiving turkey is a bit more complicated (given the amount of time it needs to thaw) with a frozen turkey, the savings is probably worth it.
  • Avoid the "trap" of decorative cups and plates - Forget about the expensive paper plates, cups and disposable utensils that you can purchase for Thanksgiving. If you insist on purchasing disposable cups, enlist the help of the children in the household for decorating them. They will enjoy the challenge of doing the decorating and your guests will enjoy seeing their hand crafted cups.  Use your standard plates and flatware and enlist the help of guests for cleanup.
  • Enlist the help of guests - Ask those who are invited to help with preparation of parts of the Thanksgiving dinner. Assign a guest to bring vegetables, snacks and dessert and cut down on how much you have to spend on Thanksgiving dinner.  Avoid purchasing pre-made pies and cheese trays and make them yourself at home.
  • Keep an eye on sales - In the weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving many stores will run sales on items such as poultry stuffing, gravy (or you can make your own turkey gravy from drippings), cranberry sauce and vegetables.  If you are careful buying vegetables such as potatoes for mashed potatoes and butternut squash, they will last a couple of weeks.  Purchasing items on sale when you see them can help you save money on Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Wines and other beverages - Keep an eye at your local liquor stores for specials on wine. Frequently, you will find some of your favorite wines (such as Rieslings which are a great addition to a Thanksgiving dinner) on sale. Purchase them ahead of time and keep them icy cold until you need them for Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving dinner is a big affair for most of us as we gather with our family and friends and give thanks for what we have. Do not break the budget serving a great Thanksgiving dinner, use some of these great money saving tips for Thanksgiving to stay within your budget.

Challenge of Premises Liability Cases in Rhode Island

Perhaps the last thing any of us are thinking about as we head into our local shopping center, restaurant, or fitness center is that we may be injured because the property owner failed to correct a defect. Unfortunately, these types of accidents result in people being injured every year in Rhode Island. Victims of an injury that could have been prevented if the property owner had exercised proper care may have the right to file a premises liability personal injury lawsuit.

What is Premises Liability?

Premise liability occurs in Rhode Island when the owner of a property fails to ensure the safety of people who are on the property lawfully suffer an injury. There are factors which impact the ability of a person to file a premises liability lawsuit which are important to understand.

  • On the property legally — someone who is trespassing, breaking and entering, or otherwise illegally on a property is owed no duty of care under Rhode Island law. Therefore, the first thing which must be established is the person who was injured was on the property legally.
  • Not on the sidewalk of the property — when someone is injured because of uneven surfaces or other hazards in a sidewalk on a property in Rhode Island, the abutting property owners cannot be held liable. The city/town is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk.
  • Reasonable care expectation — if you are in the aisle of a grocery store and someone drops a bottle of juice in front of you, resulting in a fall and injuries, the store owner cannot be held liable. Reasonable care means the owner should have known in advance there was an unsafe condition. An example of advanced warning would be if there was frayed carpeting that resulted in a trip and fall accident. Frayed carpeting does not occur suddenly, it develops over time and the owner should have been aware of it.

When a Maintenance Company is Involved

Large apartment complexes, banks of offices, and shopping centers often hire an outside maintenance company to manage their facilities. The more "individual" tenants there are in a small are, the more likely this is to be true. However, under Rhode Island law, a property owner cannot abrogate their liability by claiming a maintenance or management company was responsible for maintaining a property. The responsibility for safe conditions remains entirely the responsibility of the property owner.

How Comparative Fault Can Impact Premises Liability Cases

Rhode Island has a comparative fault statute which states that both parties, the victim and the other party involved in an accident can each be partially responsible for injuries. In premises liability cases, the defendant's attorney may attempt to prove the victim was partially responsible. For example, if you tripped over a piece of frayed carpeting while you were sending a text message, you may be held partially responsible for your injuries. The percentage of the fault assigned to you is dependent upon what the jury finds. Any fault that is assigned to you will reduce your final judgment amount. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and the jury determines you were 10 percent at fault, your final award will be reduced by $10,000.

Anytime someone is involved in an accident resulting in an injury which was the result of negligence, they should contact an attorney who understands personal injury statutes and how the law applies to their case. This is true whether a victim is involved in a car accident, or whether a victim fell on someone's property. All personal injury cases require an attorney who is willing to review the facts of the case and advise their client on potential outcomes, and help them determine the best way to proceed based on the facts.