Many of the world’s New Year’s traditions revolve around eating certain foods that serve as symbols to the eater’s hopes and wishes for the future.

A common good luck food in the southern United States are black eyed peas. Black-eyed peas are thought to bring prosperity, so if you’d like to get yourself some good juju for 2013, here is great recipe to start your new year off right!

Low Country Southern Stew

Ingredients

1 Rotisserie chicken, fully cooked
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 cup Green peppers, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Onions, chopped
8 oz. Smoked sausage, cooked and diced
1 can Allens Cut Okra, Tomatoes and Corn
2 cans Allens Blackeyed Peas, drained and rinsed
1 32 oz. carton Low sodium chicken broth
2 cups Water
1 tsp. Cumin
1 pound medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined

Preparation

Remove meat from chicken, discarding skin and bones from chicken. Chop into bite size pieces. Set aside until needed. Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add peppers, garlic and onions. Saute 5 minutes until peppers and onions are tender. Add sausage and continue cooking until sausage is browned. Add okra, tomatoes and corn, peas, chicken broth and water. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add reserved chicken and cumin. Stir to combine.

Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until shrimp are pink and opaque, about 8 minutes. Ladle into 6 shallow soup bowls.

Serve hot.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Allens.*

You will be glowing from the inside out with this healthy juice concoction, courtesy of Omega!

Green Goodness

Ingredients

½ cup of broccoli
1 green apple
½ cup of spinach
1 leaf Kale
1 kiwi
½ inch of fresh ginger
½ lemon (peeled with most of the white rind still on)

Preparation

Juice together in the order given with an Omega Juicer. Stir the juice to mix the flavors and pour over ice. Enjoy!

For this recipe, Omega recommends using a masticating style juicer like their Vert VRT330 HD or Vert VRT350 Low Speed Juicing System to give you the highest degree of extraction and the healthiest possible juice.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Omega.*

Fun Furniture Upcycling Ideas to Take Your Home From Drab to Fab

Some people seem content to live with the same, boring décor for years, long after it has gone out of style. They seem to think that they decorated their house once and that was good enough. But most people are constantly in a state of flux where their décor is concerned. This doesn’t necessarily mean buying a new living room set every year. But what about adding a vase here or a picture frame there? What about holiday decorations, floral arrangements, and so forth? When you think about it, it’s pretty easy to get bored with your décor. And while we all like the familiarity of home, the truth is that we also thrive on variety. Over time, even your furnishings can start to look less appealing than they once did, not only from wear and tear that makes them shabby, but also from familiarity (which you may have heard breeds contempt). Of course, you simply might not have the budget to replace pricy items like furniture. So here are just a few upcycling ideas that will give you the new décor you crave with less cost and a healthy dose of fun thrown in.

By far the easiest place to start is with couches and chairs. I know what you’re thinking: these are the most expensive furnishings! How can I replace them at minimal cost? The beauty of upcycling is that you’re not really replacing anything; you’re just reusing it in a way that gives it a higher value than it currently holds. And value comes in many forms that have nothing to do with money. Now, the reason that your seating tends to be the easiest to upcycle is that as long as it is structurally sound, all you have to do is throw on a slipcover to enact an instant transformation.

You can purchase these items ready-made, but if you really want to save, as well as get the exact color, pattern, and texture you want, you can head to the fabric store or go online to pick the perfect textiles, and then get crafty with the sewing machine. If you have a little more money to spend you could go for actual reupholstering. But slipcovers are relatively inexpensive and you could change the look of your living or dining room weekly if you so choose, with no onus to stick to one fabric.

As for other items in the home, there are so many ways to upcycle furnishings that have begun to look a little drab. Bureaus, armoires, and other wooden furnishings can be updated easily enough with a rough sanding and a new coat of paint or stain. Of course, this won’t work with laminates. But if you want a custom look here you could order stick-on wall panels from a decal site like whatisblik.com, cut them to size, and adhere them to drawer fronts. Or you could replace the hardware with something more modern. And as for cabinet doors, think about knocking out thin center panels and replacing them with frosted glass or a mirror.

And don’t forget that another great, free way to upcycle is to find better uses for the items you already have. For example, that old bench that’s been wasting away in the garage can be placed by the front door for people to sit on while they remove their shoes. Or you could move the outdoor furniture into the basement so your teens have their own kitschy hangout (think Tiki bar, sans the bar). The point is that you may see all kinds of potential in the furnishings you already have if you just give them a second look. So save yourself some dough and upcycle to get the gorgeous furniture makeover you crave.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Get on your feet in the morning with this three ingredient freshly squeezed juice!

On Your Beet

Ingredients

1 small beetroot (the small ones are sweeter!)
2-3 medium sized carrots
1 stalk of celery

Preparation

Juice together in the order given with an Omega Juicer. Stir the juice to mix the flavors and pour over ice. Enjoy!

*For this recipe, Omega recommends using a masticating style juicer like their Vert VRT330 HD or Vert VRT350 Low Speed Juicing System to give you the highest degree of extraction and the healthiest possible juice.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Omega.*

Crisp, crackly and oh so dee-lish. Takes 5 minutes to put together, 25 minutes to roast and cool. So easy you’ll be back for more!

Sweet-Salty-Bitters Glazed Nuts

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters
6 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups raw nuts (pecan or walnut halves, whole almonds or cashews)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Melt butter with Angostura bitters in a 6-cup bowl in the microwave or in a 4-qt pan on the stovetop. Stir, then add sugar, salt and cinnamon; stir well. Sugar does not have to be completely dissolved, but a warm sauce will coat nuts more thoroughly. Add nuts to bowl (pan) and stir until well coated. If needed, warm up mixture a little.

Line a large, rimmed sheet tray with parchment paper. Spread nuts out evenly on paper, separating them as much as possible. Roast 13-16 minutes or until golden brown; remove from oven. Let cool 10-15 minutes, then use your fingers to break up clusters. When completely cooled, transfer nuts to serving bowls or store in an airtight container.

Makes 3 cups

NOTES:

•If you do not have parchment paper, line tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil, dull side up. Roast 13-16 minutes or until nuts are golden brown; remove from oven. Let stand 2-3 minutes only, then stir nuts frequently until cooled and no longer sticking to the foil. If nuts stick to foil too much as they cool, pick up foil and remove nuts to another flat surface with your fingers. Keep nuts separated; do not put them in a bowl until completely cooled.

•Pre-roasted cashews are fine for this recipe.

*Recipe and image courtesy of ANGOSTURA®.*

Aromatic vegetables, cooked in wine with mushrooms and artichoke hearts, make a delicious flavor combination for this stuffing. Toasted nuts—hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans—add a delightful crunch.

Artichoke-Mushroom Stuffing

Ingredients

Approx 1 lb. Sliced French or Italian sandwich bread
1 can (13-14 oz.) Artichoke hearts (not marinated)
4 Tbsp. Butter (“Mom” prefers organic or Earth Balance Buttery Spread for vegetarians)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
8 oz. Pre-sliced mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. Poultry seasoning
1 tsp. Dried rubbed sage
1 cup Holland House White Cooking Wine
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth, plus more to taste (“Mom” prefers vegetable broth)

Preparation

Spread bread slices out on sheet trays for several hours to dry out a bit. Or place in a warm oven for 15 minutes. Tear bread into bite-size pieces. Measure 12 cups and place in a very large bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 3-quart casserole dish (or a shallow 9×13-inch baking dish). Drain artichokes and cut into small pieces.

In a large skillet, combine butter, onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook over high heat 6-7 minutes. Stir in artichokes, poultry seasoning and sage; add cooking wine. Cook 5 minutes more; remove from heat.

Gradually spoon vegetable mixture, including liquid, over bread, tossing gently after each addition. Sprinkle in nuts. Drizzle with chicken broth and toss, using more broth if you prefer moister stuffing.

Spoon stuffing into buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake 45-50 minutes for a casserole dish (or 25-30 minutes for a shallow baking dish).

Makes 12 cups of stuffing.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Holland House.*

Turn Recycled Pallets into a Christmas Tree!

For those who are seeking an unusual and one-of-a-kind Christmas decoration for the outdoors, this Christmas tree was made using recycled wood pallets! In 5 simple steps, you can create your own this holiday season!

Step 1 – Find a couple recycled pallets and tear them down.

Step 2 – Cut your stump. We were lucky enough to find a pallet with some thick, sturdy boards on it. Saw off each corner so that it is a clean 45 degree angle, and the resulting stump is an octagon.

Step 3 – Attach and secure your stump. Cut chunks out of each half of the stump about 2 inches deep from the top. Fit the pieces together and fasten with screws. You can also create a base out of spare pallet pieces.

Step 4 – Cut the “branches.” Cut an equal number of boards at 30, 45 and 60 degree angles. Then, attach the “branches.” Attach the branches to the stump so that the 30 degree angles are at the bottom, the 45 degree angles are in the middle, and the 60 degree angles up at the top.

Step 5 – Decorate your tree!

About the Author

This article was submitted by Premier Handling.

We are big fans of Wholly Wholesome at Tiny Green Mom, and this traditional pecan pie can be made with a spelt or gluten-free crust this season, so everyone can enjoy it!

Aunt Bonnie’s Pecan Pie

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Sugar (“Mom” prefers organic sugar or Stevia in the Raw)
1 Cup Corn Syrup
4 Tablespoons Butter (“Mom” prefers organic)
3 Eggs, beaten lightly (“Mom” prefers organic, cage-free eggs)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 9-inch Wholly Wholesome Pie Shell (White, Whole Wheat, Spelt, Gluten Free)
2 Cups broken pecans (broken into small pieces)
60 whole pecan halves for the topping

Preparation

Combine sugar and syrup in a fry pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes
Melt butter into mixture
Set aside to cool (if you’re in a rush, put the pan on a bed of ice in the sink)
Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
Once cooled, add eggs, salt and vanilla
Fill pie shell w/broken pecans
Pour syrup mixture over pecans until it’s just below the rim
Arrange pecan halves on top starting with the largest pecans around the outside in a circle and using progressively smaller pecan halves as you circles move towards the center. Be sure to save some nice small ones for the center.
Place on a piece of foil on top of a cookie sheet and place in the oven
Reduce oven to 350 deg F. and bake for 50 minutes or until pecans are nicely toasted, but not burnt.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Wholly Wholesome.*

5 Tips For a Greener Christmas

The holiday season gives you a chance to share joyful experiences with your friends and family. However, it’s easy to overlook the negative impact the holiday season brings to the environment, from wasteful wrapping paper to needless energy consumption. Through simple changes, you can reduce your own impact and still have a merry holiday season.

1) Rethink Your Gifts

Completely changing your old gift-giving habits can help save the environment. First, think carefully about the environmental impact of each gift that you plan to buy. If a gift comes with a wasteful amount of packaging, consider purchasing an alternative gift instead. In addition, don’t feel pressured to buy a new gift from a store for each person on your list. If you’re skilled at a particular handicraft, such as pottery, consider making your own gifts. Also consider gifts that help the environment, such as adopting a tree in the rainforest or giving a gift to an environmental non-profit in a friend’s name.

After you have purchased your gifts, don’t rush out to buy new wrapping paper. Save gift bags and high end shopping bags throughout the year and embellish them with materials from around your home. You can use paint, buttons, ribbons and other crafting supplies to decorate your homemade packaging.

2) Decorate with the Environment in Mind

Your festive decorations should reflect your commitment to protecting the environment. Start by replacing your old Christmas lights with LED lights. These modern Christmas lights will reduce your energy consumption and still look fabulous on your home and tree. You can use an electric timer to make sure your lights are only on for a few hours each night.

Unless you already have enough decorations to reuse this year, you may need to add a few decorations to your collection. Instead of buying new decorations at the store, try to come up with your own ideas. A walk through your backyard or local park may yield tree branches and pine cones you can use in wreaths and garlands. You can also create your own decorations with paper and fabric.

3) Holiday Card Alternatives

If you normally send out hundreds of holiday cards to your family and friends in all corners of the world, consider taking a different approach this year. For relatives who live thousands of miles away, you can send out digital cards that will save you money and help the environment. For those loved ones who live closer to you, think about making your cards with materials you already own. By using old magazines, calendars and wrapping paper, you can make festive holiday cards in an afternoon of fun.

4) Reuse and Recycle

During the holiday season, you’ll likely need to dispose of a large amount of trash. However, you should try to recycle or reuse anything you can. For example, if you carefully open your presents, you can save the wrapping paper and bows to use next year. Old gift boxes are useful no matter the season. If you can’t find a use for old packaging, make sure to properly recycle it. You can also avoid accumulating waste simply by shopping wisely throughout the season. Take your own shopping bags to the store, and avoid buying gifts with excessive amounts of packaging.

5) Plan Your Meals

In addition to paper and plastic waste, you may end up with some food waste during the holidays. If you plan out each of your holiday parties in advance, however, you can avoid buying too much food. Start your approach by making a list of the food you need for each party. If you end up with too much food after a party, consider bagging up small portions to give away to the guests. You can also store the leftovers in your fridge to eat later.

About the Author

This article was written by Philip J Reed on behalf of the Redstone College Wind Energy Technology Degree program.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Nothing like sneaking some healthy, vitamin-packed vegetables into a classic kid-friendly dish!

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients

1 medium (1 to 11⁄2 pounds) butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 ounces small pasta shells
1⁄2 cup whole milk (“Mom” prefers organic)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (“Mom” prefers organic)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes. Leave the oven on and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, or until just al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth. Add the squash puree to the pasta and fold together with a rubber spatula until combined. Grease a 9-inch square or round baking dish. Spread the pasta mixture evenly in the dish and top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the top is golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 adult servings or 8 kid servings.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Sprout Foods.*