Monday, July 30, 2007

Mexican Pizza

photo of Salad Shell package courtesy of Azteca

One of my first posts here at Rants, Raves, and Reviews was my review of Old El Paso's Soft Taco Bake Dinner. At the time, this was the only way I knew to make a Mexican pizza. I have since found a tastier method.


1 box of Azteca Salad Shells (4 shells)
1 lb. ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
1 small can sliced olives
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 avacado, cubed
sliced jalapenos
2 c. shredded cheese
taco sauce
lettuce, shredded
tomato, diced
chives, sliced

Azteca Salad Shells (our Wal-Mart sells them in the refrigerated section with the cream cheese) feature a Mexican Pizza recipe printed inside the box. You can follow the directions given or try the variation we favor (directions as follows).
  1. Cook 1 lb. of ground beef, drain, and season with a packet of taco seasoning. We prefer Pace's taco seasoning mix.
  2. Heat a can of refried beans.
  3. While completing steps 3 and 4, heat your oven to 350F and bake 4 shells (flat) on an ungreased baking sheet for 3-4 minutes. Remove from sheet and allow to cool.
  4. Place two shells on the baking sheet and spread with beans, taco meat, a small can of sliced olives, sliced mushrooms, cubed avacado, cheese, and jalapenos as desired.
  5. Place remaining shells on top and spread with remaining beans and meat mixture. Top with cheese.
  6. Bake at 350F for 7-9 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and add taco sauce, lettuce, tomato, and chives as desired. Cut into quarters and serve.
Serves 4

Research for this post led me to Azteca's recipe archives. The Baked Ice Cream recipe really interests me. Take a look for yourself - these sound delicious!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Austrian Attractions

I would love to become a world traveler! Perhaps some day I will, but until then, I will have to content myself with researching the places I wish to visit.

One such country is Austria, home of world-famous musicians, including Johann Strauss II (whose composed so many waltzes that he became known as the "Waltz King"), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Vienna Boys' Choir. Favored tourist locales include Vienna, Salzburg, and the Tirolean region. Hotels in Austria are available in close proximity to favorite attractions.

Vienna, Austria's capital, is an architecture-lover's delight with its fine, ornate buildings which include the Opera House and the palace, Hofburg, which formerly housed the Austrian imperial family, the Habsburgs. Fine music abounds, and activities are available at all hours, day or night. Hotels in Vienna are plentiful and are able to accommodate every budget.

Salzburg, the famed birthplace of Mozart, offers visitors such attractions as the Mozart Museum, Sound of Music Tours, the Salzburg Fortess (I am told this is a must-see which offers the added bonus of being an excellent place to take pictures of the city), Mirabell Palace and Gardens (in the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp children sang the Do-Re-Mi song in these gardens), and Hellbrun Castle, which features trick fountains guaranteed to delight those who love surprises. To ensure that you have enough time to adequately explore the area, check into one of the hotels in Salzburg for at least one night.

The Tirolean region features not only the breathtakingly beautiful mountain scenery found in the Alps but also offers such gourmet fare as Tirolean chocolate and Alpine cheese. Skiing is a popular winter activity, and the Alps offer unparalleled runs.

Altogether, I believe that Austria offers you the opportunity to create unforgettable memories by exploring both its ancient history and its vibrant present.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Stop by my personal blog, The Porch Light, to see what I am giving away as part of the Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway hosted by Shannon of Rocks in My Dryer. Make sure you stop by her place - the contest just began at 8:00 a.m. CST, and there are already over 100 participants!

Let the Love Begin

Love for Parker

Donations for little Parker are being accepted now through Friday. He is not doing so well right now, and I hope a lot of money is raised with this fund raiser. After you donate, make sure to leave a comment so that you can be entered in the contest for 17 great prizes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Do Some Good and Earn a Chance to Win a Prize

Love for Parker
Parker of Praying for Parker not only struggles with Down Syndrome but also deals with several medical problems. Their insurance company is not helpful at all and refuses to cover medical items that Parker must have in order to keep on living.

Melody of Slurping Life will be holding a fund raising drive to help Parker's family with his expenses. The dates of the love offering will be July 23 through July 27. She is offering prizes, donated by herself and others, as incentive for monetary donations to Parker's fund. Melody's prize contribution, courtesy of Hewlett-Packard, is a digital camera/printer/accessories package retailing for approximately $430. To be entered in the drawing, all you have to do is donate a minimum of $2, though it would be great if you could more. All donations will be paid directly into an account accessible by Parker's parents.

I have contributed the following prize to the pot: a custom website design update from RS Designs, valued at $55 - $120 (depending on options chosen) The winner may choose 3 of the following options:
  1. Web site color change (change the colors of your existing template, including images)
  2. New background image
  3. Custom sidebar image
  4. Custom header
  5. Custom advertising banner.
I know there will be other great prizes, so don't forget to stop by between July 23 and July 27 to make a donation and be entered for your chance to win. If you would help spread the word by writing your own post about the contest before or during that time, it would certainly be a help to Parker and his family.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Like Mike - I Like Mike!

I am going to get into a very touchy topic here: politics. I do not claim affiliation with any party and have no intentions of ever doing so. Independent I am, and independent I plan to remain. I will vote for the politician who best matches my convictions, not caring with which party he affiliates himself. (I must say that I do not believe there will ever be a Democrat who will gain my vote!)

Having said that, I must tell you that the current field of Presidential candidates has looked very discouraging. The Democrats don't even come close to meeting my standards: a candidate who has a realistic plan for reducing excessive government spending, is pro-life, is committed to protecting heterosexual marriage, has creative solutions for the economic difficulties that plague our nation ... am I really asking that much?

The "top tier" of Republican hopefuls is equally depressing:
  • Mitt Romney is a Mormon who sees no problem with allowing for abortion in certain situations. Chuck Todd of MSNBC had this to say about Romney:
"In fact, some Democrats worry privately more about Romney than McCain, because they fear he is a Republican Bill Clinton -- that he's impossible to pigeon-hole ideologically."
  • Rudy Giuliani supports abortion "rights" - a fact which immediately negates any chance he would get my vote. Added 7/18/2007 - According to MSNBC, Mr. Giuliani also supports gun-control (a stance that I find patently ludicrous - let's disarm all of our law-abiding citizens so that law-breakers have free reign to do as they please!) and, even more importantly, gay rights. Quoting from the article:
"On gay rights, Giuliani backs benefits for same-sex couples and says "gays should be protected." In 1997, he signed a bill creating domestic-partnership benefits in New York City. "We should be tolerant, fair, open and we should understand the rights that all people have in our society," he said recently.

While campaigning, Giuliani has been careful to declare his opposition to gay marriage, saying: "Marriage should be between a man and a woman. It should remain that way."

However, he says, at this point, he doesn't see the need for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage that way..."
  • John McCain lost my respect and my vote when he became so vitriolic in the past election campaign. I am pleased that he desires to effect the overturn of Roe v. Wade as well as protect the sanctity of marriage. If it came down to voting for the "lesser of two evils," I suppose I could bring myself to vote for McCain.
With all these strike-outs, will I have to resort to voting for the least "evil" candidate? Actually, I am really hoping that I won't. I recently became aware of Mike Huckabee, considered the cream of the second tier crop. A former Southern Baptist minister, Gov. (AR) Huckabee is staunchly pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-Israel, and pro-family. Here is what The Hotline, "the National Journal's daily briefing on politics", has to say about Huckabee:
"...Huckabee is not an ideologue. He's a social conservative with a stellar voting record who worries about seeming mean or punitive. He's a political conservative who is a functional pragmatist when it comes to economic issues. Dare we say: he's a 'compassionate conservative?' "
Is Mike Huckabee the perfect Presidential candidate? That is a question that each must answer for himself. The more I see and read about him, the more I personally like him. You will have to take your own look at Gov. Huckabee's stance on the issues and decide how you feel about him.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Opinionated Parent

If you like freebies, this blog is for you!

Combining product reviews with freebies, The Opinionated Parent is the place to go for fun and information. Looking for asthma-friendly plush toys? They've got that covered. Tired of the battle to keep your child in bed at night? Read up on the Goodnight Stoplight. Are your hands dried out, chapped, and cracking from working with paper or repeated washings? The Opinionated Parent can tell you about a protective lotion that is like having gloves in a bottle.

For me, the best part about this blog is that they give away whatever product they review. You could win something every day (if you were extremely lucky, that is).

Hat tip: Tanyetta of Days to Come

Monday, July 9, 2007

Got Dust?

I despise dusting! I think it is because it seems like such a futile task - when I dust, my duster does nothing but spread the dust around, and seconds after I have dusted, the surfaces have another coat of dust on them. Aggravating!

Enter the surprise package I received via FedEx on Saturday morning. Wondering what on earth it could be, I opened it to find a cute cardboard house containing a free Swiffer duster, 5 refill dusting cloths, a blurb about the "5 Signs of Clean," and several other little freebies for good measure. I don't know how Swiffer picked me for this, but I'm glad they did!

Let me tell you, the Swiffer duster is the best thing - ever! Based on all the marvelous, deliriously happy reviews I read, I bought FLYlady's duster a couple of years ago. Let me say that I absolutely adore the FLYlady and highly recommend her services, but the duster just didn't do it for me. (Sorry, dear FLYlady!) The Swiffer duster, however, did!

Skeptic that I am, I started out with the easy stuff: our bookcase. When I saw that no dust flew into the air and the shelves remained dust-free after half a minute elapsed, I decided to try something a little more challenging - the TV. What do you know? Even the tiny crevices were free of dust! Would this clean our fake plants that were absolutely gray with dust? It did, with no problem.

Whoo-hoo! I'm sold! If you haven't yet tried a Swiffer Duster, give it a shot. It just might make that horrid dusting chore more bearable.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Peanut Butter Everywhere!

clip art courtesy of

This morning, Pookie Bear, my oldest daughter, decided to try to make peanut butter milk. She thought that she could mix peanut butter and milk like she does chocolate syrup and milk. Abandoning her futile attempts, she left the cup of milk and the open peanut butter jar on the table for Baby Bear, my youngest daughter, to find.

Find them she did! she knocked over the cup of milk and dug her bare hands into the peanut butter jar. I only found out when she came looking for me to ask me to clean her hands. What a mess! The peanut butter was not only on her hands but also on her legs and stomach and on the table and chair where she had been standing.

You know how oily and sticky peanut butter is. I'm happy to report that I found a cleaner that cut right through it: dish soap foam. I have a Pampered Chef suds pump that I fill with a mixture of dish soap and water and keep on the ledge of my kitchen sink. After attempting to remove the peanut butter with paper towels and regular soap, I decided to try to dish soap foam. Magic! It removed the peanut butter with no scrubbing or rubbing.

So if you find yourself in my situation, remember to try dish soap or even just its suds.