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I have been very blessed to have children that love to cook. My oldest daughter made this delicious dinner for us when she was visiting recently. It was an adaptation of a Weight Watchers recipe she had found online. The original recipe did not include chicken. I imagine it would freeze well but it did not last long enough for us to try!

Penne and Chicken with Vodka Sauce

1 Tbsp butter
½ cup chopped shallots
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp parsley, minced
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 oz vodka
1/8  tsp salt for cooking pasta
12 oz uncooked penne (I used whole wheat)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
20 leaves of fresh basil cut into ribbons
1-2 pound of boneless chicken, cut into cubes

In a large skillet cook the chicken in 1 tablespoon of butter until well done.

chicken, prudent living

Sauté chicken until done.

Remove and keep warm. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions and drain. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Add butter, shallots and garlic and sauté until the shallots start to caramelize.

prudent living

Saute garlic and shallots.

Add parsley, salt and pepper and stir.

recipes, chicken

Add the parsley.

Add the tomato paste and mix to form a paste. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

chicken, prudent living

Add the chicken and stir to coat.

Add the vodka; continue stirring for about five minutes more. Add cream to the tomato sauce, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and stir until well coated. Add pasta to the sauce and mix to coat, top with the basil and serve.

chicken prudent living

Chicken Penne with Vodka Sauce

Makes about 6 servings.

chicken, prudent living

Good to the last bite!

 

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For as long as people have been moving around plants and insects have been moving along with them. Often we focus on the invasive insects but today I’m talking about invasive plants. What is an invasive plant? Invasive plant is a name for a species that has become a weed pest, a plant which grows aggressively, spreads and displaces other plants. Invasive plants tend to appear on disturbed ground, and the most aggressive can actually invade existing ecosystems. They are difficult to control, can escape from cultivation and can dominant whole areas. They are expensive to control and environmentally destructive.

Frequently invasive plants were initially beneficial and only became invasive once their usefulness to humans declines. European settlers brought dandelions to the new world as a source of food and medicine, but interest or knowledge of their original use has declined; they are generally considered a weed.

Dandelions

Dandelions

Well-intentioned horticulturists wishing to expand their gardening options introduced many other invasive plants, but when these plants escaped into the forests and fields, they became a costly headache. There are many shrubby honeysuckle species that are an example of this.

Shrub Honeysuckle

Shrub Honeysuckle

Weather and climate play a role in the spread of invasive plants as well. Tropical Storm Irene caused enormous damage to Vermont towns, roads and farms and did her share of spreading weeds along our streams and rivers.

prudent living

Flooding from Irene.

Japanese knotweed, which spreads primary by movement of pieces of roots and stems in soil, in now showing up along riverbanks where it was previously unknown, due to riverbank erosion and downstream movement of these plant parts during the flooding.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Many of the state university’s offer information on the invasive plants in your area. The State of Vermont, UVM extension Services, and The Nature Conservancy jointly maintain a website with information on invasive pests, the threats they pose to our economy and environment and identification and control tips. The website is accessible at vtinvasives.org, this is a great starting place for those interested in learning more about these threats, their history, and what we can do to prevent their introduction and control their spread and how to get in touch with others working on the invasive species problem.

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I am not a big fan of leftovers – however, if I can combine leftovers together and make a new meal I am all for it. Several weeks ago I made a large batch of Lentil Soup. I put some aside in the freezer.

soup, prudent living

Lentil Soup

Last week I made a Sausage Lentil Casserole for dinner.

casserole

Sausage and Lentils

It was delicious. One of my favorite soups is to combine the leftover Sausage Lentil Casserole with some of the Lentil Soup.

prudent living

Combining leftovers!

Viola a new soup – Sausage Lentil Soup. Quick, easy and delicious and uses up two of the leftovers on hand! Serve with a salad and some bread and you have a perfect dinner.

soup

Sausage and Lentil Soup

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According to Bankrate.com, 9.6% of customers switched banks in the past year. The reasons vary but there are certain indicators, which might indicate that you should leave your current bank.

Check your bank’s status on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp’s website, this firm provides debt resolution and other financial services. There you can make sure your bank is maintaining it’s FDIC insurance. If your bank is not maintaining its FDIC insurance, consider it a red flag. If anything happens to the bank your money will not be insured.

FDIC seal in front of the headquarters buildin...

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Keep an eye on the fees your bank charges you. Many of the larger banks are trying to increase their revenue to offset the loss of credit card fees. You may see new charges popping up, such as fees on debit cards and checking accounts. In which case you might be able to find a smaller local bank with lower costs.

Money

Keep an eye on those bank fees!

Make sure your bank is fitting your lifestyle perfectly. You may be traveling more and need a bank with a national presence with more branches. Or maybe you need a bank with extended hours.

How is the customer service at your bank? If you are unhappy with the way you are being treated you can certainly do something about it! Find a bank that has good customer service.

Interior Bank Design | Bank Teller Line | Tell...

How is the customer service?

How is your bank on technology-based offerings? If it is important to you to have your account information available at any time find one with a wider array of online and mobile banking options. Some banks will even alert you when your balance has reached a certain amount or when a new statement is available. You may also be able to pay bills online, order new checks and transfer funds between accounts.

You may be perfectly satisfied with your bank but just like keeping an eye on your household budget it is also important to keep an eye on your bank and be satisfied with your relationship. Make sure your money is staying in the bank and not being used for ever increasing fees.

prudent living

Make sure your money is staying in the bank!

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It’s the time of the year I look forward to. As we near the end of winter it is time to start my seeds indoors. Starting vegetable plants indoors from seed can be rewarding or disastrous depending on the outcome. If you start your seeds too early you will then have to hold back the seedlings until they can be planted outdoors. This can often result in tall, spindly seedlings that topple over and may never do well when planted outside. In order to be successful at growing seeds indoors certain conditions must be met for the seeds to germinate and grow properly. These include temperature, light and humidity.

First I mix up my germination media. You can purchase seed starting soil at your local nursery or you can make you own. Click here to read my post on making your own seed starting mixture.

potting soil, seed starting

Seed starting mixture

To start your seeds find a container that will hold about 2” of the media and have drainage holes in the bottom. Fill your containers with the moistened mix, firm the soil and mark the container.

seed starting, gardening, prudent living

Various containers I use for seed starting.

Use only the best seeds. Old seeds or seeds that have not been stored properly may not germinate. If you have time do a seed germination test to determine the viability of your seeds. Check my video on the seed viability test I did on some pepper and tomato seeds.

Sow your seeds about ¼ inch apart in rows. Cover lightly with the soil mix.

seeds, planting seeds

Cover seeds lightly with soil.

After sowing and covering the seeds, water the seeds lightly. Do this with a fine mist so that the seeds are not washed around. After watering, try to keep the humidity at 80% or higher. I use old salad or lettuce containers as mini greenhouses. Once the seeds have sprouted I remover the lids. You can also slip your containers into large plastic bags. Check the containers daily to make sure they are moist.

greenhouse, plastic greenhouse, seed starting

Creating a mini-greenhouse.

Once your seeds have sprouted they can be placed under a grow light. Place the containers about eight inches below the light. They should have light for 14 hours a day. Once the true leaves appear you can transplant your seedlings into larger pots.The containers should be placed in light but not direct sunlight.

grow lights, seed starting

Seed starting set-up.

Temperature is one of the most critical factors in starting seeds. Temperatures too low or too high will reduce germination. Bottom heat from electric cables, hot pipes or radiators my assist in maintaining proper temperatures. Ideally a temperature of around 70 would be perfect.

If you follow these steps and pay close attention to the light, temperature and humidity you should have good success with starting your seeds indoors.

gardening, prudent living

Vegetable Seedlings

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on saving money online called Never Pay The Sale Price. Up until that time I was using the sites I mentioned to save money. Recently I became aware of a site called Save1.com. Not only can you save money by using coupons, discounts and deals from thousands of the web’s top American retailers but you can help feed a child at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!

How does it work? Each time you use one the their coupons or special deals to save money, Save1.com will use a portion of their commission to provide a nutritious meal for a hungry child through on of their partners. They partner with Action Against Hunger, Feeding America, Feed My Starving Children, and Project Peanut Butter. Their partners are accredited 501(c) (3) non-profit organizations that have a solid history of successfully feeding children in developing countries.

Save1.com

How Does It Work?

Who started this?  Save 1 was created by Joy and Todd Smith, high school sweethearts who’ve dedicated their lives to helping others, along with their children Danielle (and her husband Josh) and Gerrid (and his wife Jessica).  This family started this business because they have a passion to help the most desperate people in the world. This is exactly what they are doing with our help.

Save1.com

Save1 founders

I was quite impressed with the site, since launching 10/01/12; they have provided more than 92,000 meals! You can save money while helping others in the process.

Save1.com

Save Money! Save Lives!

Be sure to check out their website. They are also on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so you can stay up-to-date on the latest deals and happenings! They also have an awesome blog with a section on money saving tips!

If you don’t make online purchases, you can still help (free of cost). Like their Facebook page and they will feed a hungry child. Share the page, and they’ll feed another. Save money and at the same time support a cause bigger than what you ever imagined just by shopping online with Save1.com. Working together we can make a difference.

[hana-code-insert name=’Save One’ /]

Linked to: LearningTheFrugalLife, TheThriftyHome, KatherinesCorner, AGlimpseInside, SevenAlive, ThriftyThursday

 

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