February Odds & Ends

It’s time for another collection of products, tips and tricks that I can’t wait to share with my friends each month. You can find my other monthly Odds & Ends posts here.

Costco Product of the Month

I have been in the market for some new cookware for awhile now. My husband and I received a wonderful set of Calphalon pots and pans when we got married, but after 18 years of wear and tear and an unfortunate incident when my most-used pot was accidentally placed in the dishwasher, most of them had seen better days and were becoming more and more difficult to cook with. Cookware can be a huge investment. I knew I wanted something that was tough, nonstick, easy to store and dishwasher safe (just in case 🤣). After reading reviews, shopping around and spending a lot of time hemming and hawing, I finally settled upon the Calphalon Premier 11-piece Hard Anodized Space Saving Cookware. I first saw it recommended as the Top Lab Pick in the Good Housekeeping magazine article The Best Nonstick Cookware Every Home Chef Should Own in 2019. They raved about the fact that “this line combines unbeatable performance with durability.” It also met all of the requirements I listed above.

The 11 piece set includes:
8″ Fry Pan
10″ Fry  Pan
2.5 Qt. Sauce Pan with Cover
3.5 Qt. Sauce Pan with Cover
3 Qt. Saute Pan with Cover
5 Qt. Dutch Oven with Cover 
4.5 Qt Sauce Pan

This Calpalon set is normally $399 at Costco. It is currently on sale until February 24th for $299! This is a great deal considering that I found 10 piece Calphalon Space Saving Sets elsewhere for $469. If a new set of cookware has been on your to-do list I would take a look at these pots and pans the next time you are at your local Costco warehouse or online at costco.com.

5 Tested & Approved Casserole Recipes

I love a good casserole! There is something so satisfying being able to prep a meal earlier in the day or perhaps even the night before and have it ready to just pop in the oven after an especially busy afternoon. Chopping veggies, browning meat or shredding cheese feels almost meditative in the early morning hours when the house is quiet and my attention isn’t being pulled in a million different directions as it often is in the late afternoon when I usually find myself preparing dinner. Casseroles are the original comfort food. They are the dishes you grew up eating or the meal your drop off at a friends door during a time of need. I’ve compiled a list of casserole recipes below that have become our family favorites over the years. Follow My Favorite Tested & Approved Dinner Recipes Pinterest Board to find these recipes and more. I made note of any modifications below.

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Note: The 16 oz prepared wild rice the author used in this recipe is no longer available at Trader Joe’s. I prepare 1 ¼  cup of the
Trader Joe’s Sprouted Organic California Rice with broth to use with this recipe instead.

Johnny Marzetti

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake (Gluten Free)

Taco Cornbread Casserole

Rotini with Ham

Note: I cook this in a casserole dish instead of individual containers. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Trader Joe’s School Lunch Favorite

Are your kiddos school lunches becoming monotonous or worse yet they have decided they aren’t interested in eating anything you have to offer? You are not alone! My kids have both decided that sandwiches are no longer their “thing” and trying to find healthy alternatives that they are content to eat day in and day out has been a challenge. These Mediterranean Hummus Snack Packs have become one of my son’s go-to for school lunches. The generous serving of hummus allows him to also enjoy with a baggie full of sliced veggies in addition to the pita chips. He likes that the pack is easy to grab and go on days he want to spend a lot of time preparing his lunch. Add an applesauce pouch, string cheese and a bottle of water or carton of milk for a well rounded lunch.

Keeping Track of Cords

It seems like we have an abundance of cords in our home for phones, computers, cameras, etc…, but I can never actually find a specific cord when I need it. This past fall I decided that enough was enough! We gathered all of our cords in one spot and labeled everyone’s individual chargers and headphones so that we would stop taking each others belongings and be able to keep track of whose items were actually missing. We were inspired by one of my daughter’s friends to use Washi tape to differentiate our tech accessories. We each picked a different patterned or colored tape to decorate our own chargers. Now, I always know that the zebra striped phone charger is mine and no one mistakenly takes it for their own use. If you find yourself constantly looking for your earbuds, phone charger or connectors, you might consider getting a little crafty with your tech accessories as well.

A Great Gift for Tweens & Teens

gun-metal Neoballs

I surprised my son with a set of Neoballs as a valentine gift last week. I didn’t know he was familiar with the small magnetic balls and I was a little unsure what his reaction would be when he opened the package. Luckily, he was beyond thrilled with his gift (score: 1 point for mom). Neoballs are 216 (5mm) sculpture magnet spheres that fit snuggly in an easy to open, sliding metal box. The box is compact enough to easily tuck into your back pocket. Neoballs are great alternative to spending time on a screen during a long car ride, flight or even just hanging out. The architectural aspect appeals to kiddos that already enjoy Minecraft or LEGOS. They come in an assortment of colors including gun-metal, rainbow and glow-in-the-dark and cost anywhere from $25-$35. I found this set at our local toy store, Games Unlimited. They are also available online at neoballs.com. My daughter immediately tried to take my son’s set and now is asking for a set of her own. If you are on the hunt for an awesome gift for a tween or teen, I would definitely check out Neoballs.

Did you find an item that piques your interest, a recipe you would like to try, or a tip you will put to good use? Leave me a comment so that I can continue to provide content that makes your day a little brighter and your life a little easier 😘

1 Comment

  1. Karen

    February 22, 2019 at 9:52 am

    I LOVE your idea for organizing cords! I am doing that this weekend!!!

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