May 3, 2010

Spring Fever? Try Essential Oils

Yes, I know everyone may have thought I fell off the blog bandwagon, but I am back.  When I looked back and I saw my last post was on April 1st, I could not believe how time flew by.  Things in the Morse household have been buzzing in preparation for a busy May.

As the title asks, "Spring Fever? Try Essential Oils."  I am not talking about the spring fever that causes you to bustle around the house in a cleaning frenzy.  I am talking about a fever caused by health flare ups cause from the changing weather/season.  With spring in full force it is safe to assume many of you are dealing with colds, flu, and seasonal allergies.  May I suggest ditching the box of (name your choice of cold or allergy medicine) for a natural essential oil.

Around two years ago my mom brought to my attention the many benefits and health studies on essential oils.  This all came about when my dad experienced a major health crisis and was miraculously healed of Cellulitis with prayer, proper nutrients, and essential oils.  (I will post my dad's health testimony very soon.) 

So what is so great about essential oils?  First, God made them.  They are not chemically manufactured and they have no negative side effects.  Who wants to clear up a stuffy nose with a medication that causes an off the wall side effect like frequent urination.  Also, essential oils come from plants, flowers, and herbs.  It does not get more natural than that.  Click here, to find out more of basics of Young Living Essential Oils, which happens to be my brand of choice.

So here are my top 5 essential oils that I use on a daily basis.

1) Thieves - Thieves® was created based on research about four thieves in France who covered themselves with cloves, rosemary, and other aromatics while robbing plague victims.  I use this oil for immune support, Thieves cleaner to disinfect my kitchen and bathroom, and the Thieves waterless hand sanitizer.

2) Lemon - Lemon (Citrus limon) has a strong, purifying, citrus scent that is revitalizing and uplifting.  This oil is great in water for an afternoon refresher.  We have used this oil to cut through great and to remove sticker glue off glass items.

3) Purification - This oil is a blend of Citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, Melaleuca lavandin, and myrtle.  I personally have diffused this oil in my house for that top to bottom clean smell.  This oil is great for taming a stubborn blemish, too.

4) Lavendar - This oil has a fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous aroma that is soothing and refreshing.  It may be used to soothe and cleanse common cuts, bruises, and skin irritations.  I love putting lavendar on my neck and arms to calm down before bed.  I have also used this oil to sooth burns.

5) Peppermint - One of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs for soothing digestion, it may also restore digestive efficiency.  I have used peppermint to calm down heartburn or an upset stomach.  I also use peppermint typically to relax sore muscles.  My favorite use is to put a few drops in my hands, rub them together and breath in the aroma.  WOW! Talk about a pick me up.

These five oils are only scratching the surface of other oils available.  So, do your due diligence and research to see what oils may help you and your family.  Email me if you have any questions.

Apr 1, 2010

Whats for Dinner? Penne with Spinach Sauce

As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of quick, simple, and healthy food.  That is why I am choosing to make Penne with Spinach Sauce and Chicken for dinner, tonight.  The recipe does not call for chicken but I thought this would be a great addition to the recipe.  The original recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.  I love Giada and her food and family style of cooking.  Not to mention she is gorgeous.   

P.S - All ingredients used were part of my 3/27 trip to Trader Joes.

Penne with Spinach Sauce

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 12 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6 servings

1 pound whole wheat or multi grain penne
3 garlic clove
2 ounces goat cheese
1 ounce reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and half of the spinach leaves. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set the cheese and spinach mixture aside.

Meanwhile, place the remaining spinach leaves in a large bowl.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Spoon the pasta atop the spinach leaves in the bowl.  Scrape the cheese and spinach mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Parmesan over and serve.  Top with grilled chicken for extra protein.  ENJOY!

Mar 31, 2010

Reader's Choice Winner!!!

Hello, everyone.  I apologize for my delay in posting the Reader's Choice suggestions.  It has been one of those world wind weeks.  On a positive note, we do have a winner of the $10 Panara Gift Card.  YEAH!  There were many blog suggestions that were submitted.  Thanks to, the winner is Mary from Michigan.  Congratulations Mary!!

The very first Readers Choice suggestion comes from Maegan from North Carolina.  Maegan asks, "I want to know how you spend $80 on two weeksworth of groceries." 

Great question Maegan.  Even though it is just Joel and I, we try to budget our grocery shopping but make sure our meals are filling and healthy.  To help everyone understand what my average trip to Trader Joe's looks like, I have noted my last grocery purchase, below.  Please note, prior to shopping, I already had a big bag of brown rice, eggs, steel cut oats, whole wheat tortillas, and shredded cheese at home.  These are huge staples in our house.  I am the only one eating this week because Joel is fasting.  However, I am still making the portion sizes that I would normally cook if he was eating.  This is helping me have leftovers for other meals.

Trader Joe’s Purchase 3/27/10

 Trader Joe’s Yogurt O’s Strawberry Cereal - $3.49
 Trader Joe’s Chicken Broth (1 carton) – $1.99
 Organic Almond Milk (2 cartons, $1.69 ea.) - $3.38
 Trader Joe’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt (16 oz.) - $2.99
 1 Dozen Brown Free Range Eggs - $1.99
 Trader Joe’s Can Vegetarian Re-fried Beans - $.99
 Trader Joe’s Mirepoix (Chopped carrots, onion, & celery) - $2.99
 Trader Joe’s Apple Cereal Bars - $1.69
 Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils - $2.99
 1 lb Trader Joe’s Grilled Chicken Strips - $5.29
 Trader Joe’s Garden Veg. Chicken Sausage (4 links)- $4.99
 2 Pears ($.49 ea.) - $.98
 2 Apples ($.59 ea.) - $1.18
 2 Bags Trader Joe’s Bagged Baby Spinach ($1.99 ea.) - $3.98
 Trader Joe’s Organic Pink Lemonade - $2.99
 1 Loaf Ezekiel Bread - $3.99
 Organic Whole Wheat Penne Pasta - $1.29
 1 Carton Organic Mini Pearl Tomatoes - $3.99
 4 oz carton of Trader Joe’s Crumbled Goat Cheese - $2.19
 Trader Joe’s Cream Cheese - $1.49
 1 Onion - $.59
 1 Jar Red Pepper, Eggplant, and Garlic Spread - $1.99
 1 Gal. Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry Soap - $8.99
 7 Bananas ($.19 ea.) – $1.33
GRAND TOTAL SPENT PLUS TAX - $68.30 ($11.70 still avail if needed)


Breakfast – French Toast
Lunch – Leftover Fried Brown Rice with Peas
Dinner – Enchilada Casserole (B-Day Party)

Breakfast – Yogurt O’s with Almond Milk
Lunch – Chicken Wrap on Whole Wheat Tortilla with Spinach

Dinner – Another Birthday Party (no cooking)
** I made a big pot of Lentil Soup with Chicken Sausage.  Put half of it in the freezer for next week and put other portion in the fridge for lunch/dinner for the week.  I used 3 of the 4 Chicken Sausage links.  I put the extra link in the freezer for another meal.

Breakfast -Yogurt and Granola
Lunch - Lentil Soup and a pear
Dinner - Enchilada Casserole (Leftovers)

Breakfast – Cereal with Almond Milk
Snack – Banana
Lunch – Lentil Soup and Cinn. Raisin English muffin
Dinner – Spinach, Onion, and Cheese Frittata

Breakfast – One Scrambled Egg & Banana
Lunch – Enchilada Casserole (Leftovers)
Dinner – Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla (Salsa & Sour Cream on the side)

Breakfast – Steel Cut Oats with Raisins
Lunch – Grilled Chicken Wrap w/ Spinach and Cheese
Dinner – Penne with Spinach Sauce and Chicken

Friday – Day off of Work
Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs & Toast
Lunch and Dinner – Heading to Frankenmuth, MI with Joel for an afternoon and evening out!

I will post next weeks meals on Saturday to show you how I used the rest of my groceries.  The recipe for the Lentil Soup and Penne with Spinach Sauce will be posted tomorrow.  Feel free to post comments on meals you make during the week that a great leftovers or that quick and healthy.

Mar 18, 2010

Reader's Choice

That's right, I want to know what you would like me to blog about.  Starting today, it's Readers Choice Week.  You, the reader, deserve to know more about me and so I'm open to all questions, within reason of course.  Topics on food, faith, family are always some of my favorites.  Email me your suggestions to my email, cmart1232@hotmail.  Within a day or two, I will start selecting topics and begin posting daily blogs.  I am really looking forward to hearing from my readers and allowing you to get to know more about me.

Oh, and did I mention that there is an incentive for emailing me a suggestion?  We all love freebies, right?  One random reader will be chosen to win a FREE $10 Gift Card to Panera Bread.  The winner will be announced on Friday, March 26th.  So, send your suggestions and good luck to the winner.  

Mar 13, 2010

On the Menu Tonight-Rustic Lemon Chicken

Hello everyone!! I wanted to share with everyone a quick and easy recipe that I found on Food Network.  A while back I caught the last episode of Food Network Star where Melissa d'Arabian won season five.  I loved her because she was an upbeat wife and stay at home mom.  She knew that dinner for a family had to be quick, tasty, and cost efficient.  She had a great recipe for Rustic Lemon Chicken. 

* 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced in half crossways (butterflied, cut all the way through)
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus 1 small bunch fresh thyme chopped
*Salt and freshly ground black pepper
*4 tablespoons olive oil
*1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1 red onion, thinly sliced
*1/4 cup white wine, optional
*1 cup chicken broth

Season chicken with dried thyme and salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. Dredge the chicken in flour, add to the hot oil and saute until cooked through. Set chicken aside to rest on plate tented with foil.

In same saute pan, over low heat, add onions and fresh thyme and cook until aromatic.

In a measuring cup, measure out wine, if using, and broth, and add the lemon juice. Turn the heat up to high, and deglaze the pan with the broth mixture until starting to reduce.

Remove the pan from the heat and finish the sauce by whisking in butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

I will be serving the chicken with a side of garlic mashed potatos.  This will be the first time I'm making this recipe so I will let you know how it turns out. 

Feb 26, 2010

Top 10 Things I Cannot Live Without

The other day I was contemplating of some of the things and people in my life that I cannot live without.  I thought I would share my top 10 list with you so you could get to know more about me and my "must haves".

1) My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - It is by His stripes I was saved.  Thank you Lord!  I can recall my life before I accepted Jesus into my heart.  I was lost, life was crazy, my relationships were strained, and I was living life according to what I wanted.  I accepted the Lord into my life when I was sixteen.  Since then, I have boundaries and the freedom to live my life according to His ways.  Ah, what a breath of fresh air.
2) My wonderful husband - Boy, I hope you are all as blessed to have a wonderful husband, like I do.  Joel has been my rock and pilot of our relationship for the past 7 years.  I truly believe the Lord brought him into my life to be my husband.  Joel is my should to cry on, "Mr Fix It", my hot date on the weekends, daily eye candy, critic for new recipes, and my best friend.

3) My Family - I have the tightest Mexican family, ever.  With two amazing parents, a younger brother and a sister, we are one crazy bunch.  We have great family get togethers and share a love of food and sports.

4) My Friends - I am very bias and feel I have the best group of friends.  I am so blessed to have friends who I can call upon at a moments notice.  We have made many memories from "Girls Night Out" at Panera Bread, shopping trips to Target at 10pm, and watching Jane Austin movies.

5) Bare Escentuals Makeup - I banished liquid makeup 4 1/2 years ago and I will never go back.  I noticed a complete change in my skin after changing to mineral makeup.  I did not have as many breakouts and my combination skin was not as oily.  I buy my Bare Escentuals from Ulta and they always have what I need in stock.  I suggest getting a starter kit if you are a first time user.

6) Trader Joes - My all time favorite grocery store!  I used to go to 2-3 places, per week, to get all of my groceries.  Now, with one stop to Trader Joes and I am able to get all of my organic produce, meats, and canned goods.  Trader Joes lets me get 1-2 weeks worth of groceries and not break the bank.  I think the most I have spent is $80 for two weeks worth of groceries.  That is something I could have never done shopping at Whole Foods.

7) Black, stretchy, exercise pants - I think every girl deserves one good pair of stretchy pants.  They are my best friend on those bloated days or days I want lounge around the house.  They also make good PJs on those cold winter nights.

8) Dark Chocolate - Ah, my guilty pleasure.  I used to not like dark chocolate.  As Joel says, "It's a grown up taste".  Well wouldn't you know, my taste buds suddenly grew up.  Now, I enjoy a good dark chocolate bar while watching a movie or as a late night snack.  My favorite brand is Ghirardelli.

9)  My Cell Phone - Since we do not have home phones, this is my life line to my family and friends.  Also, where would I be without text messaging?  What did we ever do prior to cell phones?

10) Daily Showers - I can't stand to go a day without a hot shower.  The thought of being dirty and having oily hair give me the willies.  I'm not a clean freak but kudos to any of you who are every other day shower takers.

If you find that you have any of my similar "Must Haves" or want to share your own, feel free to leave a comment.

Feb 12, 2010

Viva Starbucks Via!

I do not claim to be a coffee aficionado but I do enjoy a good cup of java every now and then.  About two weeks ago I took a trip to Starbucks with my friend Marie.  As I was ordering my Skinny Cinnamon Latte, I saw these small boxes next to the register.  Little did I know what was really in those boxes.  After reading the back of the box, it said it was instant coffee.  Hmmm...How good can this really be?" I thought.  Since I am always willing to try something new, I purchased a sample box that had 3 servings. 

A day or two later, in a caffeine deprived frenzy, I tried to locate my box of Via.  After following the instructions and mixing my single serving of Via with 10 oz of water, I was shocked.  It dissolved right away and smelled amazing.  Well if it smelled good, it had to taste good.  I was nervous that it would have the bland and burnt taste of typical instant coffee.  My taste buds were so happy when they experienced the "fresh from Starbucks flavor".  Needless to say, I was an instant fan.

In a nut shell, if you are a person who does not have time to drive to your local Starbucks for a good cup of coffee or does not want to waste a half used pot of coffee, pick up a box of Via.  For less than a dollar a serving, you can feel like an at home barista.

Feb 10, 2010

Love is in the air

Due to popular demand and a little pushing from a friend, I’m back in the blogging mood.

As the title says, “Love is in the air”. Ah, February, a time of to reminisce on that Hallmark holiday
, Valentine’s Day. For some, it’s just another day. For the Morse Household, it’s a time to remember our engagement in 2004. What a wonderful day it was when Joel asked for my hand in marriage. We had gone rock climbing at Planet Rock in Pontiac. Things had not worked out as Joel planned. He wanted to propose to me in the lobby but he had forgotten the ring in the car. He ended up proposing in the car. After telling me "I Love You" and reading me a sweet card, he asked if I would marry him. After repeating “Oh my goodness” numerous times, I said "YES!!". As you can see in the picture, I was on cloud nine with my new ring and a huge banana split. We had gone to KaleidoScoops Ice Cream Parlor to celebrate. Little did I know that I was in store for a surprise engagement party at his parents after our ice cream celebration. He was just full of surprises that day.

Now let’s move onto this year’s Valentine’s Day plans. Last year we enjoyed an evening with our friends, Brian & Lisa. We had a lovely time going out to eat and enjoying the ice sculptures in Rochester. In keeping with last year’s plans, we are going out with them, this year. The year we are going to Palazzo Di Bocce in Lake Orion. We will be enjoying a nice dinner and then playing bocce ball. It should be a fun evening since the restaurant and bocce ball arena are at the same location.

The plan for Sunday is that Joel and I will go to church and then have a romantic evening together. We may pickup some takeout, make some chocolate covered strawberries and enjoy a fire in the fireplace. I will make sure to post pictures of all of this weekend Valentine’s Day festivities.

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day and that you get to share it with someone special. God Bless!