Fresh Apple Cinnamon Cake Recipe

June 17, 2014 in Cakes, Recipes

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You can cheat here a little bit to make this cake very easy to put together. Using quick bread and coffee cake mix and topping it with fresh apples makes up nicely for the cheat!

Fresh Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake


  • 1 package cinnamon swirl quick bread and coffee cake mix
  • 3/4 cups of water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 cup of finely chopped Granny Smith apples


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray 13 x 9 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Set aside cinnamon swirl mix.
  4. Beat quick bread mix, water, egg whites and vanilla in a medium bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  6. Spread apples evenly over batter and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon swirl mix.
  7. Bake 22 -25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.
  8. Remove cake to wire rack and cool for minimum of 15 minutes.
  9. Cut into pieces and serve warm at room temperature.

Please note: These flavors are at their peak when this coffee cake is served warm. To reheat, microwave on high for 10-15 minutes.

And consider serving it with vanilla ice cream – delicious!



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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Recipe

June 16, 2014 in Recipes

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Bacon wrapped chicken 001   You could just take chicken tenders and broil or barbecue them – or you can give them extra flavour by using this recipe. Try it today! Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken tenders, patted dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce, divided


  1. Preheat broiler
  2. Line broiler pan with foil and set aside.
  3. Sprinkle chicken tenders with paprika.
  4. Wrap each tender with slice of bacon in spiral pattern.
  5. Place on broiler pan.
  6. Broil chicken for 4 minutes.
  7. Turn and broil for additional 2 minutes.
  8. Brush with barbecue sauce and broil for 2 more minutes.
  9. Turn and baste with remaining barbecue sauce.
  10. Broil for 2 more minutes.
  11. Serve warm.
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Orange Glazed Roasted Salmon with Fennel

June 11, 2014 in Recipes

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If you like salmon, you are going to love this recipe!The combination of orange flavor and fennel truly complements the salmon flavor – try it tonight!


  • 2-3 navel oranges
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (plus additional for the baking pan)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large bulbs of fennel
  • 1 large salmon fillet (about 2 lbs.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Coat 16 x 10 inch baking pan with oil.
  3. Grate 1 tablespoon of orange zest.
  4. Squeeze oranges to get 1/2 cup of juice.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the zest, juice, oil and salt.
  6. Trim the fennel.
  7. Mince about 2 tablespoons of the feathery leaves and set them aside.
  8. Cut bulbs lengthwise into quarters.
  9. Cut out and discard the cores.
  10. Cut the fennel into thick slices.
  11. Place slices in the baking pan.
  12. Drizzle with half of the juice mixture and toss to coat.
  13. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally or until lightly browned.
  14. Remove the pan form the oven.
  15. Clear a space in the centre and lay the salmon diagonally in the pan, skin side down.
  16. Drizzle with the remaining juice mixture
  17. Spread to coat the fish.
  18. Place in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes or until salmon is opaque in the centre.


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Crispy Tortilla Chicken Recipe

June 10, 2014 in Recipes

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Tortilla chicken recipe 001 This is one of my favorite quick and easy recipes. Deliciously crunchy and tasty – try it – you will love it!


  • 1-1/2 cups of crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 package (about 1 oz.) of taco seasoning mix
  • 24 chicken drummettes (about 2 lbs.)
  • Salsa (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Shake off excess crumbs and lace chicken o prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake about 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Serve with salsa if desired.

Note: you can also use this recipe for about 1 b. of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch strips. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the centre.

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The Special Role of Fathers

June 9, 2014 in Parenting

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I first wrote and posted this article 4 years ago – but reading it again I have to tell you – I enjoy it more and more each time. My hope is that all men out there will realize and understand just incredibly important their roles as fathers are and how it influences child’s life.

Here is the original article – Enjoy!

Today is Father’s Day – so it is more than appropriate to acknowledge that very important role that fathers play in any child’s life.

It is now well established that father’s involvement in child’s life is extremely important. Father’s interest increases child’s social development, sense of self-worth and academic success. And as important as women’s part in all aspects of child’s life is, man’s involvement and impact is equally as important but different:

  • Father is the first “stranger” in the child’s life, unlike mothers, who children feel as an “extension” of themselves.
  • Good relationship with this “stranger” sets the groundwork for dealing wit strangers later in life. Father plays a crucial role  in children’s emotional health and the development of their sense of self-worth.
  • As children grow older, fathers tend to push them to take chances in situations in which mothers may tend to urge more caution. Both of these approaches are critical to child’s balanced development.
  • Dads – of course – provide something that moms can’t – a model of what it is like to be a man. Children will learn more from what they see fathers to do than what they hear them say. Both – actions and communication are important, showing how man conducts himself with dignity, integrity and respect for others.
  • Girls also rely on their fathers to develop a sense of  their own femininity. Girl’s relationship with the opposite sex will be greatly influenced by how she gets along with the first male in her life – her dad. Daughter will learn from her dad that she is worth being loved by a man. If dad has a loving relationship with her daughter, chances are that she will have a very good relationship with her partner later in life.
  • One of the most effective way of being an involved father is to ensure direct and real one-on-one conversations with the child, creating a real two-way communication.
  • A father who is genuinely engaged in raising his children is doing great stuff not just for his children, but for himself as well.

Remember this:

Kids are sponges who soak up love – and when they have enough of it, they are not shy about giving it back to you

Happy Father’s Day!


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Pizza Pinwheels Recipe

June 6, 2014 in Recipes

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Quick, easy and inexpensive! You can get creative and add other ingredients – just don’t overload them or they will not bake nice a crisp for you!


  • 2 packages (about 14 oz. each) of refrigerated pizza crust dough
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded Mozarella cheese
  • 1 cup sliced pepperoni, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. With rolling pin or your hands, press each pizza dough crust into 12 x 8 inch rectangle and then cut into 4 equal squares.
  3. On two greased baking sheets, arrange squares.
  4. With knife, starting at corner of each square, cut toward centre of the square, stopping about 1/2 inch from the centre.
  5. Evenly top each square with 2 tablespoons of sauce, then cheese and pepperoni.
  6. Fold every other point into the centre and press to seal.
  7. Bake 10 minutes or until crusts are golden.
  8. Serve with remaining pasta sauce, heated.


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Top 10 Good Insects for Your Garden

June 3, 2014 in Gardening

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insectsOne of the best ways to control pests in your garden is to encourage their natural enemies. Planting pollen and nectar plants, and providing protection for these beneficial insects, is a basic tenet of organic gardening, and a way to further increase the ecological diversity of your yard. I have listed the most common beneficial insects along with tips on attracting them to your yard.

Top 10 Good Insects in Your Garden:



Ladybugs. The familiar round, orange spotted ladybug is just one of more than 400 species of lady beetles found in North America. Most ladybug adults and larvae feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Adults are attracted to flower nectar and pollen, which they must eat before they can reproduce.



Lacewings. Pale green or brown lacewing adults have distinctive large, veined wings and feed mainly on flower nectar. Lacewing larvae, however, are voracious predators that feed on aphids, thrips, scales, moth eggs, small caterpillars and mites.

Hover Flies

Hover Flies

Hover Flies, aka flower flies or syrphid flies. Adults look like small bees with striped abdomens; the grayish or greenish slug- like larvae have pointed heads. Flower flies are attracted to flowers to feed on nectar and pollen. The larvae feed on aphids in tight places where other good bugs can’t go, and are especially helpful in early spring, before other beneficial insects are active. Flower flies also pollinate strawberries and raspberries, producing larger fruits and higher yields.


Predatory Bugs

Predatory Bugs, including minute pirate bugs, ambush bugs and assassin bugs (soldier bugs, big-eyed bugs). These bugs prey on many insects, including tomato hornworms, thrips, spider mites, many insects’ eggs, leafhopper nymphs, corn earworms and other small caterpillars. Pirate bugs are attracted by willows, buckwheat, corn and nectar and pollen from many flowers. Predatory bugs are attracted to bunch grasses, shrubs and other permanent plantings that provide them shelter. A unique lure is available to attract emerging soldier bugs to gardens.

Ground beetles

Ground beetles

Ground beetles. Large, long-legged, shiny blue-black or brown beetles that hide under rocks and logs during the day, and are fast-moving when disturbed. They feed on slugs, snails, cutworms, root maggots, and Colorado potato beetle larvae. Attract them by providing perennial ground covers, stones, or logs. Rove beetles resemble earwigs without pincers, and feed on many insect pests and like similar conditions to ground beetles.

Parasitic Wasp

Parasitic Wasps

Hunting and parasitic wasps. There are hundreds of species of wasps, including many that are so tiny you can barely see them. These mini-wasps often attack the eggs of pests, and are one of the most important insect groups that provide control of garden pests. They can be attracted by growing by pollen and nectar plants.



Spiders. All spiders feed on insects and are very important in preventing pest outbreaks. The spiders normally found in gardens do not move indoors, nor are they poisonous. Permanent perennial plantings and straw mulches will provide shelter and dramatically increase spider populations in vegetable gardens.

Tachini Flies

Tachini Flies

Tachinid Flies. Although they look similar to house flies, tachinid flies are very important enemies of cutworms, armyworms, tent caterpillars, cabbage loopers, gypsy moths, sawflies, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and sowbugs. Grow pollen and nectar plants to attract them.



Dragonfly - There are more than 80 species of dragonflies. They can be identified by their long narrow body, their large compound eyes and the four transparent wings. There is variation in color. Sizes range from one to two inches. The larvae are found in water. They eat mosquitoes, aphids and other pest bugs. Dragonflies have decreased considerably in abundance as the wetland areas where they live have dramatically decreased. Want dragonflies? Don’t fill in that marshy area. Better yet, enlarge it, or dig your own pond.



Honeybees – Honeybees are important pollinators of many plants. Adults measure 2/3 inch long and are fuzzy, with gold-and-black striped bodies and transparent wings. Honey bees can often be identified by the balls of yellow pollen they carry on the backs of their legs. Grow flowering plants. Encourage wild honey bees. Because the spread of mites has seriously reduced honey bee populations, the wild honey bees that are left are even more important. Fun fact Pollinators are estimated to be worth $8 billion to our economy! Many other insects are pollinators as well.

These good guys will help your garden stay healthy – but there is also a good number of bad guys that can do a lot of damage! For the Top 10 Bad Insects for Your Garden, check out:

Hope you enjoyed reading this information and that it will help your gardening efforts! Your comments and suggestion will as always be very much appreciated


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Top 10 Bad Insects for Your Garden

June 3, 2014 in Gardening

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Aphibad-leavesWe all want our gardens to stay healthy and that is not always easy. Here is a list of Top 10 Bad guys and I do hope it will help your gardening efforts!

Top 10 Bad Insects for Your Garden:



Aphids - Small, soft bodied bugs, colours vary from pink and green to black. They feed on sap in shoots, leaves,buds and flowers, which causes distortion and cupping – watch for honeydew secretions.

Birch Leaf Miners

Birch Leaf Miner

Birch Leaf Miners – Flat looking larvae adult sawfly is small and black. Larvaes feed on the inside of foliage, which turns the leaves brown. The host of these are birch trees.

Colorado POtato Beetles

Colorado Potato Beetle

Colorado Potato Beetle – Redish orange and black larvae, yellowish, orange and black striped beetles that feed on potato, tomato and eggplants. They stripped the foliage right down to the leaf veins.

Crucifer Flea Beetles

Crucifer Flea Beetle

Crucifer Flea Beetle – Adult beetle is metallic blue-black and will feed on leaves, leaving shot-hole appearance.  Likes cole crops and other crucifers, radishes and turnips.

Gypsy Moth

Gypsy Moth

Gypsy Moth – Black, brown and red larvae that feeds on roots – it will defoliate trees

Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetle – White, C-shaped larvae grubs, metallic green and copper beetle.Larvae feeds on roots, adults feed on foliage and flowers. Likes tuftgrass roots and many, many others.

Spider Mites

Spider Mites

Spider Mite – Microscopic – colour vary from yellow to tan to green. Feeds on leaf sap- watch for speckling or bronze leaf colour.

Red Lilly Leaf Beetle

Red Lilly Leaf Beetle

Red Lilly Leaf Beetle – Orange-brown to black larvae covered in excrement; adult beetle is bright red. Larvaes do the most damage by defoliating plants. Likes lilies, fritillaries, some nightshade species, tobacco plants and others.

Scale Insect

Scale Insect

Scale Insects – Soft bodied with waxy covering in white, brown or grey. Large colonies of microscopic crawler young feed on sap.

Spruce Budworm

Spruce Budworm

Spruce Budworm – Light to dark brown larvae cause defoliation and likes spruce and other conifers.

These were the bad guys that can cause you problem in your garden. There are a number of ways to get rid of them – one of the best is to make sure you also have the good guys visiting you.

For the Top 10 Good Insects for Your Garden check out: scan000325

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Sesame Garlic Flank Steak Recipe

May 23, 2014 in Recipes

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Try this recipe this weekend! Simple combination of ingredients and equally simple preparation results in a delicious dinner!


  • 1 beef flank steak – about 1-1/4 lb.
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoons of dark sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic. minced


  1. Score steak lightly with sharp knife in diamond pattern on both sides.
  2. Place in large resealable food storage bag.
  3. Combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and garlic in small bowl, pour over steak.
  4. Seal bag and turn to coat.
  5. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours, turning once.
  6. Drain steak, reserve marinade.
  7. Grill over medium heat 13 – 18 minutes for medium-rare to medium or until desired doneness, turning and brushing with marinade halfway through cooking time.
  8. Discard remaining marinade.
  9. Transfer steak to cutting board and carve across the grain into thin slices.

Hope you will enjoy this recipe – please send me your comments, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated!




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Top 10 Best Annuals For Your Garden

May 22, 2014 in Gardening

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From impatients to marigolds to geraniums – here is a top 10 favourite annual plants for you to consider when you are planning your garden. The advantage is that most of them will bloom continuously, the disadvantage is that you need to plant new ones every year. But – you can always save seeds from your plants – marigold seeds are especially easy to collect and use the following year. Annuals are great to use in between, around and pretty much anywhere in concert with perennials that already exist in your garden or the ones you are going to plant. Number of varieties is great for putting around rose bushes, in front of tall plants or in areas you are in need to colour enhancement.

If you prefer perennials – the great plants tthat keep coming back year after year, check out the information in:

Top 10 Perennials for Your Garden

Here is the list of 10 most popular annual plants:


# 1 – Marigolds – are easy to grow and have a continuous flowering period. African marigolds are larger – they grow upright and can reach a height of 30 inches. French marigolds grow more into a bush style plant and only reach the height of 8-16 inches. The scent may be somewhat unpleasant , but consider that it is the reason why marigolds repel many garden pests. African marigolds come in shades of yellow and orange and french marigolds are often multicoloured in shades of orange, yellow, mahogany and crimson. All marigolds are suitable for planting in flower beds of containers.


#2 – Geraniums - There is a great deal of variety of geraniums, but the most popular are the low-growing,dense plants. The leaves can be rounded, but more often they are serrated or lobed are quite attractive. Geraniums have small flowers that attract plenty of butterflies and bees.Interesting information about geraniums is that they are deer resistant – so if you live in a area where you have the challenge of these visitors munching on your plants, consider planting varieties of geraniums. Very good usage for geraniums is to plant them under roses to hide rose knees and complement the roses in colour. But they do well just about anywhere, including containers.


#3 – Impatients - these pretty flowers are great for brightening a shaded corner and they are extremely adaptable. They are available in a large number of colours and varieties and if you can’t decide which colour to plant, don’t be afraid to mix and plant all the ones you like. As they grow, you will have a beautiful colour carpet of blooms. You can also use impatients in flower boxes, container and patio pots – just remember to water them regularly


# 4 – Flowering Tobacco - This plant releases wonderful fragrance and blooms stay open day and night. Flowering Tobacco is also well known as the Star Flower – fitting description, because the blooms are clustered together at a top of the tall stem in a shower of brilliant  white stars.



#5 – Gerbera Daisy – If you love daisies then Gerbera Daisy is your plant. They come in a carnival of colours that make an excellent cut flowers for your table. Single flowers areproduced atop of each thick, hairy stem and range in heightfrom 6 to 15 inches. They will bloom all summer and are suitable to use in containers as well as flowerbeds.


# 6 – Sweet Peas – Good idea is to plant this beauty close to doors or walkways – you will be able to enjoy their delicious fragrance every time you walk by! Sweet Peas is favourite of cool climate gardeners in the summer since it does not tolerate extreme heat too well.


#7 – Cosmos - These beautiful flowers are open and airy, constantly in colour and disease and insect free. It will quickly become a must in your garden – they give the feeling of wild flowers and are excellent as cut flowers for your table. Additional advantage is that they will grown in a soil that is not rich and that makes them easy to grow.Cut flowers frequently to prevent seed formation and promote new blooms.

morning-glorymorning-glory-5#8 – Morning Glory – Sky-blue trumpet shape flower will welcome each new day for you if this will become your choice of plants for your garden. Morning Glory wine grows very fast up a trellis or screen and will soon fill the space with magical 4 inch blossoms in various shades. If you plants them from seeds, plant multiples of seeds, since each sead will only produce one single strand – it will not branch out.


a_sunflower#9 – Sunflower - Nothing will brighten your day more than the shining faces of sunflowers – they will bring a ray os sunshine into your garden even on a rainy day. Tough and durable, sunflowers can take hot sun and dry conditions without fading. They range in colour from a crisp yellow to a beautiful shade of red. They have no serious pest or disease problem and will easily grow anywhere in your garden.


#10 – Zinnias – These beautiful flowers are not only easy to grow, but their bright blooms make fantastic bouquets for your table! You will do well of you cut the regularly – even every day, since these weather resistant plants will not only bounce back from anything nature can throw at them, but cutting them will make them deliver more and more blooms. They perform well in full sun and can be easily used in containers as well as flowerbeds.

These are really just a few on my personal favourites – the variety of annuals available each year is truly astounding. Don’t be affraid to try different ones  – especially if you are just starting your garden. And remember to keep notes about which plant did well in what area – it will make it easier for you to decide what you are going to plant the following year!




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