Baked Potatoes With A Dash Of Fun

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4863288401_baf27d1b73_zsource: alanagkelly

I love to make baked potatoes. Not only do the kids adore them, they are very easy to throw together. Here are a couple of my favorite spuds.

The Everything Potato

Stuff a baked potato with everything you have in the house. This includes butter, salt, sour cream, chopped chives, veggie bacon and anything else you love. Yummy!

The Pizza Potato

Top a split potato with marinara or pizza sauce plus shredded cheese. Be sure to reheat the potato long enough for the cheese to melt.

The Sloppy Joe Potato

Slice a baked potato down the middle. Top with Vegetarian Almost Joes. Shredded cheese is optional.

The Double Cheesy

Combine drained cottage cheese, shaved Parmesan, chopped green onions, white pepper, basil, garlic powder and paprika. Mix well and add to your baked potato.

Leftovers Potato

Stuff a potato with leftover cubes of meat or chicken, plus the sauce that originally accompanied it. If you have any veggies left from the meal, that’s a bonus.

Sweet Potato Deliciousness

Scoop out the insides of the potatoes. Combine the flesh with butter, brown sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, miniature marshmallows and chopped pecans. Re-stuff the potatoes and bake for 20 more minutes.

Here are some other quick ideas:

sauteed onions w/ or w/o garlic

lightly steamed cauliflower and cheese

ricotta (plain or seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh herbs of any kind)

lightly steamed broccoli and cheese

garlic salt, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, chives, butter, sour cream, or plain yogurt, grated cheese, black olives

butter and cream of celery soup

Parmesan cheese sprinkled over another topping

garlic, vegan chicken broth, sour cream, pepper, Parmesan and paprika mixed with mashed potatoes

cheese, sour cream and veggies

plain or herbed cream cheese (you can make your own)

fresh snipped herbs like parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives…don’t mix

feta with or without the addition of  sour cream

salsa, shredded cheese and some sour cream

chopped leftover cooked veggies with some kind of creamy topping

grated cheese and grilled onions

tomatoes, green onion, pepper, salt and balsamic vinegar

butter, salt, pepper and lightly steamed, sauteed or microwaved bell pepper slices

cream cheese mixed with handful of  hot cooked veggies

black beans and salsa

sour cream (low-fat is okay but non-fat won’t have enough creaminess)

sauteed peppers and onions

plain yogurt or plain yogurt seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic

broccoli or spinach dip

sauteed green peppers, onions, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper

If you have additional toppings to recommend please email me in the comment section. I will be happy to publish your suggestions along with your name.

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Copycat Rice A Roni

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IMG_1528source: Katie Inglis

What is Rice A Roni? It’s a delicious combination of spaghetti and rice, cooked in broth. I got the original recipe for this dish from my friend Michal, but I have tweaked it a bit over the years.


1/2 cup uncooked spaghetti, broken into small pieces

3/4 cup rice

2 tablespoons oil

2 cups water

quantity of chicken bouillon powder to make two cups broth (I use vegan/parve)

garlic and pepper, to taste


Brown spaghetti in oil till it starts to turn slightly golden. Add rice and continue cooking a few more minutes. Add bouillon powder plus water and simmer till water is absorbed. Add garlic and pepper to taste. Stir well.

Three Variations

For a fancier dish, try all three variations at the same time. For an every day dish, try just one of the variations at a time.

1. When cooking is completed, add 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce to taste.

2. Add 1/3 cup chopped almonds with the water. Continue with recipe as directed.

3. Add a small, finely chopped onion with the spaghetti. Continue with recipe as directed.

Essential Tips For Surviving Air Travel

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essential-tips-for-surviving-air-travelsource: Stan Wiechers


Assume the airline will lose your luggage.  Mine was lost going to the US and coming back to the Middle East. Plan accordingly.

1) Be sure to mark all pieces carefully in at least two places.

2) Take your valuables with you in your carry on.

3) Get supplementary luggage insurance.

4) Divide clothing between pieces of luggage to insure you have something to wear.

5) Don’t be shy about calling the Lost and Found Department. It helps.

Security Checks

New security polices make air travel safer, but are hard for the traveler.

6) Don’t bring drinks, lotions, shampoos or mouthwashes in your carry on.  They will be taken away by security.

7) Make sure your passport, ticket and ID are easily accessible.  You will be asked for them several times.

8) Be sure to take your laptop and large electrical appliances out of you carry on and place them in one of the buckets that are provided, ahead of time.  Otherwise, you’ll slow down the lines.

Maneuvering Through The Airport

I traveled through five airports this summer. Most were enormous, especially the international airports. Your carry on needs to be designed for a lot of trudging.

9) Try to take as little as possible in your carry on or make sure your carry on is on wheels.

Wait Time

Most airlines recommend that passengers arrive at the airport two hours ahead of time for domestic flights, and three hours ahead for international flights. In addition, may flights are delayed. You need to prepare carefully for the wait time.

10) Try to avoid buying anything at the airport.  Prices are inflated 2-3 times normal.

11) Bring a few aspirin if you’re prone to aggravation headaches.

12) A book or two, plus a laptop and cell phone make the time go faster.

14) I find puzzle magazines and hand held games are also helpful.

15) Go to the bathroom a few minutes before your flight.  You may not have access to a restroom for at least an hour, once you get on the plane.


Airline food is not always the tastiest or served in large enough portions. Plus, wait time between connecting flights can be several hours. Pack enough food to avoid having to purchase any at the airport.

16) Eat right before leaving for the airport, but avoid greasy foods.

17) I always bring a variety of foods to the airport. Chips, sweets, fruit and a sandwich are all good choices.

18) Drinks will be taken away by security, so get a drink from the water fountain, or bring money to buy drinks.

After reading over these tips, you may decide I’m being overly cautious. But after an entire month of heavy travel, I assure you, I’m not.




Reading Journal: For Book Lovers

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I adore book journals. I started collecting them about three years ago and I’ve never stopped. I have a ton of them, and this is my favorite.

Below, are some of the sections and activities that I particularly enjoy. Click on the photos for a better look.


This section is for writing your favorite passages from the book, plus listing topics that you’d like to learn more about.


Here is an activity page. I listed my favorite authors, current favorite books, favorite young adult books, etc.


This is one of my favorite parts. I enjoyed identifying what aspects of the book drew me to it and then finding more books of a similar type.


Another fun activity page to fill in. Actually, a lot harder than it looks, because I had to remember all the books I’ve read recently.


The book includes lists of award winning novels. It has space to check them off as you complete them. I was motivated by this to read books out of my usual genre, and wound up discovering some great new (for me) titles like Invisible Man and The Great Gatsby.

img_0013This space was originally for listing books I want to read, but by crossing out one word, I changed into a list of book I have read.

There it is, all the things I love about this book.

If you have a reading journal you’d like to recommend, please leave a comment with it’s name  and an explanation of why you love it in the comments.

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Bluma’s Soft Roasted Potatoes

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3623968261_22879db5d3_zsource: Nathanael Coyne

I’ve long made roasted potatoes, but mine always come out crispy instead of soft. While crispy is delicious right out of the oven, it becomes soggy after just a short while. Since I often make food several hours before serving it, this was a problem for me. I needed a recipe for a roasted potato that never developed a crust.

In stepped my sister-in-law to save the day.

I received this recipe after trying it out at her home.  It’s easy to make, delicious and stays nice for days. The only problem is that it is higher in calories than my usual potato recipes, so I can’t make it as often as I’d like.


6 medium potatoes, cut into quarters or eights

6 tablespoons oil (I’ve used both olive and canola successfully)

1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoons salt

pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a large pan, making sure there is no overlapping.


Cook till soft (1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the potato pieces).

Mutual Mooching

November 7, 2016 / No Comments on Mutual Mooching
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mutual-moochingsource: Pete Zarria

So, why aren’t I ashamed of myself?

Because I’m also a giver. As much as I mooch off of others, I also give plenty. And in my mind, that makes everything even.

For example: When someone was offering free books on our newsgroup a few months ago, I was the first to grab them. On the other hand, when I heard the local library was looking for book donations, I showed up with several boxes of goodies in tow.

For example: When my mom offered me a free trip to the US, I was happy to take her up on it.  But, when I got there, I helped her to empty four storage rooms that she had paid over $40,000.00 to rent for ten years.

For example: When I was in the US, a friend of my daughter spent a lot of time driving me around. To pay her back, I agreed to send her merchandise from the Middle East to sell in her store.

It’s all a matter of give and take.

If you’re interested in increasing you mooching etiquette, here are eight tips:

1) Don’t take from others if you’re not willing to reciprocate.

It’s fine to borrow a lawn mower from your neighbor, but that means that when he wants to borrow your drill, you have to let him use it. After all, fair is fair.

2) Look for opportunities to do things for other people.

The next time a relative gives birth, be the first to show up at the door with dinner and an offer to babysit. Don’t wait to be asked.

3) When making a request of someone, always make it easy for them to turn you down.

Pressuring and begging is not only rude, it’s playing dirty. Instead, ask for a favor like you would like to be asked.

4) Be as gracious when receiving a “no”, as when receiving a “yes”.

Remember, friends and relatives have the right to tell you no. You might not like it, but it is their right.

5) Try to not only give as much as you receive, but more, whenever possible.

Never do favors “tit for tat”.  To be a good moocher (and a good friend) try to give at least 1.5 times as much as you request.

6) Act in good faith.

This means when you borrow a chair, bring it back on time and in perfect condition. When you offer to do carpool for a friend, show up on time. Don’t act badly just because money isn’t changing hands.

7) Know when mutual mooching is a no-no.

All because your excited by the idea of sharing tools, trading old clothes and taking turns running out for milk, it doesn’t mean everyone else will be. If you see one friend doesn’t want to participate, give up and try out another friend.

8. Always go first.

This may be the most important tip of all. Never ask assistance from anyone, till you have first shown a willingness to do them a good turn. Mutual mooching is one of the rare situations when an insistence on always going first is actually good manners.

Follow these rules, and you can feel completely comfortable asking for favors. You’ll never have to fear that you’re stepping over the line of what is polite. Plus, you’ll wind up saving a lot of money, making new friends, and racking up good deeds all at the same time.

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