Stocking up the Cabinet

A month ago, I shared with you a few suggestions for stocking up the pantry to easily provide for your family and company without having to go to the store at the last minute. These tips are also great for those times when inclement weather or lack of transportation interferes with your daily schedule.

But what about those non-food needs? A well-stocked cabinet not only covers emergency moments, but can also provide some fun family time. Pretend you’re going camping: turn off the lights, the TV, the computers and see what you can do without electronics.

Batteries for flashlights and portable radios are essential. If you don’t have a gas stove, you may want to invest in a small outdoor grill. But if the weather’s too cold, there are alternatives for indoor cooking. A fireplace can be a great gathering place for roasting S’mores (with adult supervision, of course!).

Water and personal care products are essential. One of my favorite fun moments is stocking up at the local store in the Travel-Size section. One small plastic box holds all the shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and toothpaste a person needs for two weeks. Don’t forget body wash and deodorant! Face and body wipes are also great.

Aside from the necessary items, how do you pass the time when there’s no electricity? Cards and board games are great!

A collection of travel games to help pass the time

Family Fun Time

Are your kids creative? When I was a child, our favorite Christmas gift that we could count on each year was our Creation Boxes. Mom and Dad would get a cardboard file box for each of us kids, and fill them to the brim with blank paper, construction paper, notebooks, paper, pens, colored pencils, crayons, glue, scissors… pretty much the ultimate scrapbook kit before there were such things. We built our own kingdoms, created our own games, and wrote our own stories.

I’ve created another PDF Checklist to start you on your way to a well-stocked emergency kit. Not to mention, some unplugged family fun!

Did I forget anything? What are your favorite items to add to the list?

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote.

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Stocking up the Pantry

My #GrillMatesPack from Chatterbox and McCormick

Have you ever heard of House Party? It’s a social network website where companies choose applicants to showcase their product. Typically, if chosen to participate, you agree to invite at least 12 people to your shindig and promote the whazoo out of it before, during and after. Tweet, post, link, like, comment and share. Post videos. Tweet photos. Pin party ideas. Whichever product you’re chosen for, you also agree to host your party on a specific day. That’s right. It’s like a national block party with 1,000 gatherings taking place at the same time. How fun is that, right?

At least it sounds like fun. I’ve yet to be chosen to host a House Party. But I have been chosen to participate with their smaller program, Chatterbox: the selected participants need only enjoy the product then do some social sharing. No party participation required. As you can guess by this post title, I was recently chosen to be a Chatterbox for McCormick’s Grill Mates. Six products, a sampling of recipes, and some helpful hints on how to share.

Last week, this assortment was delivered to my doorstep:

My #GrillMatesPack from McCormick

My #GrillMatesPack from McCormick

Which means this week, I spent a couple evenings in the kitchen coming up with some delicious ways to spice up dinner at Bedford Manor.

As you may know, Dot started work last week. Coupled with her college schedule, and our meal schedule is more hit-or-miss than it used to be. The #GrillMatesPack couldn’t have come at a better time. I made it my goal to cook food that would nourish us while we spent our Quality Family Time at the table. I also wanted leftovers that would give us a hearty lunch the next day.

The first recipe was simple and delicious.

Chicken strips grilled with McCormick's Perfect Pinch Caribbean Jerk seasonings

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

I sprinkled the Perfect Pinch Caribbean Jerk seasonings over chicken strips before cooking.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Strips

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Strips

Just look at those abundant seasonings! Served atop a green salad with a side of Thousand Island dressing, and this meal needed nothing more.

The next day I enjoyed a light chicken salad for lunch. The only problem? No more leftovers. It was that good.

The second recipe was just as flavorful.

McCormick's Worcestershire Pub Burger and Smoky Montreal Steak Sauce

Worcestershire Pub Burger and Smoky Montreal Steak Sauce

I added McCormick’s Worcestershire Pub Burger seasonings to the ground beef before shaping into burgers. I then dashed each side with more of the same then cooked the four patties on my indoor grill.

Worcestershire Pub Burgers

Worcestershire Pub Burgers

You know how spices tend to dissipate a bit after the jar is opened? Yeah. That didn’t happen here. As soon as the burgers met the grill, my kitchen filled with the salivating aroma of Worcestershire sauce and grilling meat. I would have been happy to smell it all night long. But ~ bonus! ~ when the cooking was done, we actually got to eat these amazing treats!

I’ve never been one to enjoy a steak sauce. I often find the tangy or bitter flavors overwhelm the taste of the burger. No so with the Smoky Montreal Steak Sauce. It was a delightful compliment to the burger adding, as its name suggests, a smokiness that completed the experience. But did these burgers need it? Heck, no.

Both dinners were so hearty, so delicious. In just a few minutes each night I was able to have dinner on the table when Dot walked in the door. Even Berry joined us for some Quality Family Time… although the food was too good to give her a nibble.

Sorry, Berry Sunshine. Maybe next time. But then, again…

Looking for Licks

Looking for Licks

This weekend, I’m planning to mix up a meatloaf with the Backyard Brick Oven spices. The aroma from this jar definitely leans toward a hearty Italian pizzeria flavor. I’ll toss in a bit of onion and red peppers, a few diced tomatoes, then top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and we’ll have a meaty pizza in a pan instead of on a crust.

I’ll try to get a photo for you. Unless Berry beats me to it.

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

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