Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Card Display

Trying to decide how to display all those Christmas cards?  This has been something I've wanted to get creative with for years.  The last few years I've created a faux Christmas tree with the cards, which was fine, but getting the right shape was not always easy.  I recently saw a Christmas card holder on the Anderson Crew blog that inspired the change.  Thank you, Pinterest.  :)

So here's the tip/idea to use:

Hang a grosgrain ribbon vertically and attach the cards to the ribbon.  I chose a red grosgrain ribbon with white polka dots for this project then hot-glued the ribbon to a Christmas plaque I found.  You could certainly hang the ribbon as is, like this photo from Life on Mars clearly demonstrates.  Note: At first, I used mini clothespins to hang the cards, but it began to feel cluttered once all the photos were hung, so I switched to reusable adhesive putty (sticky tack).



Here is the full-length view:



After attaching all of our horizontal photos to our card holder I ran out of room for the others, so I moved the vertical ones to a door frame and displayed the folding cards using the slats of our louvre doors.


This was an inexpensive, easy project with a huge payoff for me.  Our cards finally have an orderly display!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Play-Doh. Organized. And Pretty.


photo courtesy of lovelihood on Flickr.com
My kids love play-doh, but it is sometimes difficult for them to open the containers.  We also have a hot mess of play-doh and tools in an over-sided big plastic storage bag.

Carisa over at 1+1+1=1 came up with this tip.  Create a play-doh kit with the dough and  accessories/tools all stored in one organized box.  Carisa also created play-doh letter formation  printables for a tacticle way to work on A, B, C's.  (Please click here to view her photos and to download her free printables.)

Now, I can store the play-doh container-free AND create a system for the chaos.  Grin.  (Thank you, Carisa!)

I purchased this 17-compartment storage box at Ace Hardware today with a $5 off coupon.


Here is a picture of our bin all filled up:


I was amazed at how many play-doh items I was able to store in this container!


My next project will be making our own play-doh with scents and glitter.  Check out Tradewind Tiaras and her glitter play-doh recipe and jelly jar gift ideas.  So pretty!  And I love the 1+1+1=1 ideas for adding scents to different colors.

NOTE: Do not toss your play-doh containers!  I'm posting an upcycling idea soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Pops

Want a great way to use extra-ripe bananas? Don't toss them or force yourself to make banana bread to use them up. Try this super-fast nutritious 3-ingredient recipe for pudding, instead! 

A recipe I discovered on Pinterest for Nutella Ice Cream was the inspiration for this tip.  I had Dark Chocolate Dreams and no Nutella in the pantry today, so I adapted the recipe accordingly.  I also added Greek yogurt for the extra protein and probiotics.

Oh. My. Stars. This is delicious!

Recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Pops

6 ripe bananas
1 cup chocolate peanut butter, recommend Dark Chocolate Dreams
1/4 cup Greek style yogurt, recommend Stonyfield Oikos

Peel bananas and pulse a few times in a food processor, then puree until smooth. Add chocolate peanut butter and puree until well blended.


Add Greek yogurt, to taste, and blend well.  I thought it was just right with 1/4 cup yogurt.


Using a soup ladle, pour chocolate pudding into popsicle molds.


You may also want to try these silicon ice pop containers .  These are great for push-up popsicles or for yogurt in lunchboxes.  (My kids love anything I give them in these!)

  
Serve the remaining pudding straight-up and garnish with light whipped cream, if desired.  It really does taste like pudding!!


This "pudding" is healthy, full of protein, vitamins and minerals and is gluten-free if you use the Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams.  I hope you love this recipe as much as my kids and I have!

       

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Breakfast

Don't want to toss that delicious Thanksgiving stuffing or dressing? Make stuffing muffins for breakfast or brunch the next day.  This was made with leftover Sausage Apple Stuffing.  YUM!

Pour chicken stock over leftover stuffing and refrigerate in muffin tins.  The next morning bake at 375 degrees F in a preheated oven until warm and crispy on the edges, about 10 minutes:  (After these photos I put mine back in the oven to brown more, these only cooked about 7 minutes - you may prefer them this way.)


Serve with a side of cranberry sauce.


Another great idea, per Rachael Ray, is to make Leftover Stuffing Waffles!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Post - Oreo Turkeys

This guest post is from my friend, Jackie.  She takes baking and cake decorating to the next level and is really great to have in a woman's group because She. Brings. Goodies. Every. Week.  This post gives tips and instructions to create the latest dessert she shared with us.  This would be a great craft to make with kids for Thanksgiving:


Oreo turkey with Reese's cup


Here are step-by-step instructions to make an Oreo Turkey.  Be creative - the turkeys are much more fun if they have a little bit of personality and some of your own personal touches. As an example, my brother-in-law decided to add a mohawk to his turkey and it looked great! So here are my instructions – but please don’t be afraid to have fun!


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:




Oreo Sandwich Cookies (preferably the regular, original variety because you get more for your money, but they are easier to damage, so if you are heavy handed, I recommend the double-stuffed variety)
Chocolate icing of any variety, and a knife for spreading
Whoppers (a movie theater box is fine)
Red Hots candy
Candy Corn
Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Black and Orange piping icing (recommend Wilton sparkle gel - makes beady sparkly eyes.)
• Creativity and patience


INSTRUCTIONS:

Peanut-free Oreo Turkeys


1.Separate the two halves of an Oreo cookie, being careful not to crack the cookie.  Discard the white filling, or eat, or give to a child to eat.  Ice half of the Oreo cookie with about 1/8-inch of icing all around.  Set aside one of the halves to use as a base.

2. Arrange 5 candy corn pieces in a fan pattern, with the white tips pointing to the center of the Oreo half. The chocolate icing will help them stick. This will be the turkey feathers! If you get carried away with the candy corn and add a lot more, the turkey becomes a little top heavy and he’ll have trouble standing up.

3. Ice the other oreo for the base.  If using peanut products, place a Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with the flat, larger end at the bottom of the white tips of the candy corn so that the Reese’s only slightly covers the tip and does not hang over the edge of the Oreo cookie. (The step-by-step photos demonstrate the peanut-free version.)  Using more icing, secure a whopper to the peanut butter cup or to the oreo, for the turkey head.   If you don’t add enough of the icing you will have a headless turkey, if you add too much icing you’ll have a fat neck turkey which is good for eating, but looks kind of funny.

4. At this point you should have your base and the turkey feathers/body ready to be put together.  Take the feathered Oreo and stand it up at a right angle to the base Oreo with the Reese’s acting as a stand for the two halves. Add more icing if you need to in order to make it stick.  (If using double-stuffed Oreos, this step is much harder, you'll have to use a book to prop it up while it dries.)

5. Now the turkey is almost finished!  Time to add the details.

6. Break off the white tip of a candy corn and put some chocolate icing on the end and attach to the whopper to make his beak.

7. Put a little bit of icing on a red hot and add it as the Turkey’s “wattle”.

8. Using the black icing, pipe on some eyes.

9. Admire.

10. Using the orange icing, pipe on legs at the edge of the Reese’s on the base of the turkey. For a Big Foot turkey, use the damaged candy corns and place them as Turkey legs.
Plate your turkey and show him off to the world!

Remember, Oreo Turkeys don’t like to be alone – so make him some friends to play with!

Jackie

Products used in this post:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cut Noodles

This tip is from a friend at the Frazee Dream Center.  She often prepares meals for at least 90 kids and volunteers in the program.  She is full of great ideas, and this one is so obvious, yet not something I've ever thought of.

Next time want to cut spaghetti into small pieces for your little ones, put your kitchen shears right in the bowl (or in Ms. Jenny's case, kid scissors in the large pot) and have at it!  This is so much easier than using a knife, potato masher, pastry blender OR a wooden implement.  And, yes, I have tried all three.  Another benefit is that your 4-year old can even cut his noodles by himself, assuming he has the scissor thing down!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Redeem Mac-N-Cheese


Most nutritionists will tell you that macaroni and cheese is a calorie-laden dish that has very little nutritive value.  But so many of us love it, and so many of our kids gobble it up.  So rather than throwing our comfort food out the window, let's add some nutrition we can feel great about.  This idea came after talking with a  friend who makes pasta with broccoli regularly for her kids.


When you are making macaroni and cheese from a box, I recommend two kinds we have tried.  If you're a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese fan, try the new Veggie Pasta variety:




The pasta itself is made with cauliflower, which adds valuable nutrients easily. Prior to the arrival of the Veggie Pasta, I'd puree cauliflower, as mentioned in my Deceptively Delicious post. This is likely the healthier option, but it is more work.  I would typically add between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of the cauliflower puree to an organic boxed macaroni and cheese.  The sauce will need salt and pepper since the cauliflower puree is not seasoned.  One of our favorite box varieties is Annie's Shells and White Cheddar:




And of course the healthiest option would be to make homemade macaroni and cheese, but that is not always practical.  

Now for the tip.  Regardless of which macaroni and cheese you use, add broccoli to the dish and you instantly have a nutritionally superior meal.  The key is to use FRESH broccoli florets and add them to the boiling pasta during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time (add little salt to the pasta water, if you desire).  The broccoli will float on top like this until it really starts to boil:


Once the pasta is done, dump the pasta/broccoli in a colander, and prepare the cheese sauce. (I like to season the sauce with a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.)  Add the hot broccoli and pasta back to the sauce and mix well.   My kids love this and they weren't broccoli fans before we started making it this way.  NOTE: I do not recommend using frozen broccoli, it gets really mushy and may warrant complaints.  This is a photo of the final product:





This bowl is "heavy on the broccoli" for my new little broccoli lover.  But who doesn't love broccoli covered in cheese sauce?  Yum!

And if your kids dig the broccoli with the mac, next time you dine with your kids at Outback Steakhouse, order the Mac 'A' Roo and Cheese, and ask your server to add steamed broccoli.  This dish does not disappoint!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stomach Virus Protocol

Some of you will stop reading as soon as you see the title.  I get it.  We've had our fair share of this nasty bug.  But since we're approaching stomach flu season, I thought I'd post these tips to help you if you find yourself dealing with it, too.


My family seems to be prone to the throw-up-bugs, otherwise most commonly referred to as the rotavirus or norovirus.  I have had MANY a late night call into our phone nurse to determine my next course of action.  I've made many mistakes and regretted it, especially those at the beach with my entire extended family.  I do not have a great memory, but I can take good notes and I am very thankful for our pediatrician and researchers like this one who are dedicated to studying this nasty pest.  I am NOT a nurse or a medical professional, so please verify this information with your own physician before proceeding.


The first item of prevention is frequent hand washing. Contagions for these viruses are believed to be transmitted through vomit and stool. The virus is so contagious because of its potency (according to this site the norovirus has over 10 million particles per gram, yet it only takes 30 particles to make you sick). Familiarize yourself with proper handwashing techniques. My family sings the "ABC" song all the way through and we dry our hands well afterwards. If someone is sick, we temporarily replace hand towels with paper towels to reduce the transmission. And remember, always wash after using the potty, before eating and when returning home. (If you are out and don't have access to a sink, hand sanitizer is effective against one strain of the virus, but not the other. It's worth using, but hand wash when you get home!)


If someone in your family vomits, CLOSE YOUR MOUTH. The virus is not technically airborne, like the common cold would be, but when someone vomits, all those tiny particles are floating in the air before they land on surfaces. So close your mouth until you can get out of that room then later clean well with an anti-viral disinfectant that works on both the norovirus and the rotovirus. We use Lysol Disinfectant Spray. And use care when transferring bed linens to the wash. Everything it touches becomes infected.


Another prevention item my family has added is to have everyone who is well drink one serving of RED grape juice three times daily. There isn't strong scientific evidence to support this theory, but some believe the juice creates and acidic environment in the gut that makes it difficult for the virus to survive, which is why three servings throughout the day is important. Others believe it's because this type of juice has anti-viral properties. Whatever the reason, its worth trying in my book.
And now for the actual protocol:
Once someone vomits, wait 30-40 minutes after vomiting to give food, drinks or medicine, allowing the tummy to rest. Sleep is best at this point, but if he/she is awake give one tablespoon of clear liquids every 5 mins for the first 4 hours. This step will replenish electrolytes and prevent dehydration. Choose one clear liquid and stick with it. Clear liquids include:
(At any point in this process, if the patient vomits, you must start over. It stinks, I know, but it is worth it in the long run!)
Next you will move to TWO tablespoons of clear liquids every 5 mins for the next 4 hours.  You can try Pedialyte popsicles or another low-sugar popsicles at this point.
If 8 hours has passed with no vomiting, the patient may have dry, starchy, bland, salty foods. Ideas include:
After 3-4 more hours if there has been no vomiting, add in the B.R.A.T. foods (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) for 24 hours until the diarrhea subsides. This means you must wait until the sick person has a normal bowel movement to determine if he/she is over the virus. Trust me when I say it is not worth chancing this! B.R.A.T. diet items include:
  • Bananas
  • White rice
  • Cream of Rice (prepared with water)
  • Natural applesauce, no sugar added
  • White bread toast
  • White potatoes with no dairy and no peel
  • White pasta (may cook in chicken stock)
  • Ginger snaps
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Tiny amounts of protein
  • Popsicles
  • Jell-o
  • Jell-o Water (mix according to directions, then add 3 extra cups of water)
  • Diluted Gingerale or Gatorade
  • Rice milk in small amounts
  • No dairy
  • Add Culterelle to drinks, a probiotic supplement
The patient is contagious until there has been no fever, vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours. At this point you will be washing hands like it's your job, swearing never to have this again! And for your sake, I hope you don't! Please comment if you have any tips to add to this. It may really help someone one day. I'll update this post as new information comes my way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stinky Shoes?

If you like to exercise or love those who do, it's highly likely somebody's dropped a pair of stinky shoes in your house.  Next time try this tip:

Stuff the shoes with dry newspaper until the next use. The paper will absorb the moisture and some of the odor.

This is also a great packing tip...so your favorite clothes and your luggage don't smell like stinky socks.

And don't forget newspaper is great for gardening, too.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Banana Dog Sandwiches

Do you often have leftover hot dog buns from your last cookout?  Rather than tossing them, try this tip:

Smear a dollop of protein-rich peanut butter in each hot dog bun, layer in a banana, drizzle a bit of honey over them and top with peanuts and/or granola.  

Banana dogs are a nutritious breakfast or lunch sandwich that will make any kid smile.  My kids were thrilled over theirs!


(These can also be made with sandwich bread, but it's a bit more messy that way.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trouble Staying in the Lines?

photo courtesy of  jerine via flickr.com
Like me, do you have trouble staying in the lines when painting toenails and fingernails?  If so, next time use a bobby pin to clean up the edges.  Simply dip the end of your bobby pin in nail polish remover then trace along your cuticles to remove excess color.


This tip was provided by a reader in the October 2010 issue of Real Simple magazine.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Can't Open the Jar?

Photo courtesy of  dno1967b on Flickr.com
Having trouble opening a vacuum-sealed jar?  I did last night with bottled marinara sauce.  Pickles, salsa and jelly jars all give me a fit.

This tip is from an episode of the Rachael Ray show:
Turn the jar upside down and give the lid a good rap on the counter.  Flip it back over and the jar will open with ease.

No more boiling water,  hot water or waiting!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Garlic Press

Want an easier way to work with fresh garlic?  Try this tip I got from a Pampered Chef consultant years ago.

Push an UNPEELED clove of garlic through a garlic press then use a knife to transfer the garlic straight to your dish.  

No peeling, chopping, mincing or cleaning necessary.  Simply remove the peel from the press then the sticky mess goes with it.  A quick run through the dishwasher will make it like new again.

If you're in the market for a garlic press, I highly recommend the Pampered Chef garlic press.  I've had mine for over a decade and it's still going strong.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Token System


A few summers ago, a sweet friend of mine created a way to reward her children with tokens that were traded in for special rewards. She created a token chart that listed expectations for the summer.  I thought it was fabulous and have been using a version of her token system for about a year now.

DOING YOUR PART
We began by deciding what contributions our children need to make so our family can function well.  These are typically things that NEED to be done everyday and they are age appropriate.  We are hoping to develop family unity and encourage responsibility, not laziness and boredom.  (If you desire more information on the heart issue of laziness, I encourage you to view this message from one of our pastors.)   These responsibilities are things that help the family and benefit the individual.  Some examples include making the bed, straightening their room and getting dressed before coming to the breakfast table.  We expect them to brush and floss, water plants, feed the dog, assist with preparing meals, help set the table (they each have their own job but are expected to help siblings with theirs) and unpacking their backpacks, dance or soccer bags when returning home.  These things we call "doing your part", it's just what's expected because you're part of our family and for the most part these are things they are to do without being reminded.

COMMISSION (EXTRAS)
The next part is what they can do to earn tokens.  The name came from money guru Dave Ramsey, who suggests you have your kids work to earn commission, not allowance (a hand-out).  Our commission items are things that if not done, our family can still function, but they are very helpful.  I still have little ones so our  commission items include wiping down lower cabinet doors, cleaning glass doors, wiping down the outside of the fridge, vacuuming a room, filling a grocery bag with weeds or reading 3 books to a sibling.  Each commission item has its own token assignment.  For example, filling a bag with weeds earns 4 tokens while wiping the fridge earns 1 token.  This list will change as the kids become more capable and we have more age-appropriate ideas.  

GOALS
We also set goals for each child.  If he/she completes a goal, the tokens are predetermined.  These are typically skills to be mastered and not things that are moral issues.  For example, they get tokens for things like mastering addition facts, going potty and staying dry, riding a bike without assistance, beating their time on swim team or learning to tie their shoes.

TOKEN REDEMPTION
This is where it gets fun.  The kids get to trade-in their tokens for rewards.  In our home the rewards are money, candy, chocolate milk, 30 minutes of TV time or computer time, video games or crafting time, nails painted or a special lunch out with Mama or Daddy.  Each reward has a different number of tokens it requires.  This is the reason I think this system works.  Our kids are motivated by different things at different times.  My 3-year old didn't want to earn money until the ice cream man came to the pool.  Now when the kids really want a treat they can do something to earn one. Potty training is the bread and butter of my 3-year old's token earnings. My oldest is saving her money for an American Girl doll and every time the catalog comes she wants to do extras or meet goals to earn more tokens.  And my middle one has a sweet tooth the size of Texas so when she runs out of tokens, she's very motivated to fill up again.

SUPPLIES?
So you may be thinking, but what do we use for tokens?  This is the idea I completely stole from my brilliant friend and it's worked well.  We use poker chips my husband won at work for our tokens.  Each child has his/her own magnetic spice container that is displayed on the fridge just above our token chart.  Our Token Chart has the four things mentioned above: Doing Your Part, Goals, Commission Items and Token Redemption.

I'm so excited about revising our Goals section just in time for the new school year.  I'm so proud of my kids and what they have accomplished over this past year.  I hope you have fun implementing a system like this!  Let us know how it goes or if you have good ideas for your family's token system.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Clean Grill

We're are in the thick of grilling season and many of us have a little more "seasoning" on our grill than we should. At least some of us call it seasoning...others call it burned food.  But worry no more, removing those filthy grates and then scrubbing until your fingers turn purple is a thing of the past.  This tip from Real Simple is worth trying:

As soon as you remove the food, give the grill grates a quick scrape with a long handled stiff bristle brush, like these.

Now for the fun part, let the burning coals do the work for you - the food bits will cook off and your grates will be cleaned and seasoned for your next cookout.  If you use a gas grill, just leave the heat on for a while after you're done to accomplish the same purpose.  It works just like a self-cleaning oven!

Do you have any grilling tips?

Photo courtesy of andrewmalone on Flickr.com

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Curly Girl

I read this book, Curly Girl, a few summers ago and it changed the way I style and care for my wavy hair.  In the winter months, I straighten my hair with my favorite straightener because I like it better straight.  But in the summer months, it's a losing battle so I go wavy.  I learned several tips from Ms. Massey, author of Curly Girl:

Use less shampoo.  Shampoo strips your hair of natural oils and ruins your curls.  Only use shampoo to clean your scalp, your locks don't need it.

Condition the ends of your hair and then run your fingers through your hair to evenly distribute the conditioner.  Allow the water to run over your hair and then do NOT disturb the curls afterwards.  This means no towel wrapping, wringing or combing.  Trust me on this one.  You simply flip your head over and use your hands or a towel to "scrunch" the curls to get the moisture out.  Once out of the shower, use a small hand towel to continue to dry it by scrunching again until it's almost dry.

To style, choose a clear light-weight styling product to hold the curls in place.  Ms. Massey does not recommend a curling mouse - they can weigh your curls down. Spray the gel in your hands and then scrunch and style the curls until you like the way they fall. I've used both Pantene Curl Enhancing Spray Gel and Suave Professional Captivating Curls Spray Gel with success.  If you have one you love, please do share!

Continue to scrunch the curls with a drying towel until your hair is dry or you're ready to leave the house.  I think this works because it gets the moisture out of the bottom of the curls first, allowing them to spring up.

I hope you enjoy these curly hair tips!  If you're interested in learning more, please read Ms. Massey's book. If you have any tips of your own to share, we'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lower Blood Pressure

Want to eat your way to lower blood pressure?  According to an article on realage.com you can increase your circulation and lower your blood pressure simply by eating watermelon. If that isn't a sweet tip, I don't know what is!

Also, store the watermelon at room temperature until you are just about to cut into it. (Chill it for a few minutes before serving if you like it cold.) You'll maximize its nutritional value by allowing it to ripen on the counter.

How do you like to enjoy watermelon?

Photo courtesy of mynameisharsha on Flickr.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nose Stuffy?

This tip may be a few days too late for some of you and just in time for others.  Beauty returns in the Spring, but with it comes P-O-L-L-E-N.  Some allergy seasons are worse than others, but we are in the thick of it where I live.  If you want another tool in your arsenal to fight seasonal allergies, look no further than the Neti Pot.


Several recent studies cited in this New York Times article suggest that nasal irrigation may actually reduce sinus and allergy symptoms.  The benefit, according to this Web MD article is believed to be two-fold.  It helps clear away allergens and infectious agents by thinning out the mucus and by making the cilia in the nose more efficient.  


One study suggests daily use is not the best idea, but it is best to use it when you are congested. (The debate over the frequency is because some believe the good bacteria is carried out with the bad, forcing the body to be dependent on the saline solution).  


On an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz stated this treatment may be more effective than medication.

Have you used a Neti Pot or had a doctor recommend it?  Would you consider using one?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cheese - Grating on Your Nerves?

Image courtesy of dvortygirl on Flickr.com
Typically the worst part of grating cheese is cleaning the cheese grater afterwards.  Dread no more!  This tip from Real Simple recommends to spray the cheese grater with non-stick cooking spray.  When the cheese is grated, it will not stick.



UPDATE: I found that since I still had to clean the non-stick cooking spray off the grater, I'd just assume clean cheese off and save the step.  I don't have a box grater, though, I have one that doesn't require sticking my hand in a box.  I have this grater in green:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not Just For Cereal

I often play songs for the kids during breakfast that we're working on for school.  We also like to have "mood music" when eating outside on our deck.  And in the shower, I play music but wish it it was a little bit louder.

I love this helpful tip from Real Simple magazine, April 2011 issue:

Place your phone speaker-side down in a cereal bowl to amplify the tunes streaming out of it.  The concave shape of the bowl makes an effective homemade speaker.  And in my experience, this works better than those little speakers you plug into a headphones jack.

This summer when you're planning your outdoor picnic, don't forget to pack a cereal bowl for some mood music!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Faster Meatloaf

Some say meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food.  But most meatloaves take at least an hour to cook!  Use this tip and you can cut the cooking time in half.

Next time you make your favorite meatloaf, bake it in a muffin tin!  My normal meatloaf bakes in a loaf pan for 1-1/2 hours but my meatloaf "muffins" only take 20 minutes.

Rachael Ray recently did made Thanksgiving-inspired meatloaf with sweet potato puree as the frosting.  It made little meatloaf cupcakes.  I tried the recipe and piped the sweet potato puree on top (see picture on left).  My kids were so excited about eating "cupcakes" for dinner.  I may try piping potatoes on my go-to meatloaf next time, since we all like that recipe so much.

I'd love to hear from all of you.  Do you have a meatloaf shortcut to share?  Have you ever baked a meatloaf in muffin tins?  How did it turn out?