Steph's Pick - 3 ways to cook Tilapia

May 30, 2008

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times a week. Fish is a good source of protein and doesn’t have the high saturated fat that fatty meat products do. In light of this I've been trying to serve/cook fish more often. Below you'll find three easy ways that I personally cook tilapia.

1) Baked Tilapia
Ingredients: 4-6 tilapia fillets, 1 box Stuffing Mix, 1 stick butter, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper and EVOO.
Directions: Preheat Oven to 400. Combine chopped parsley, garlic and salt & pepper with melted butter. Crush Stuffing Mix. In a large bowl combine butter mixture with stuffing mix. In a shallow baking dish pour a small amount of EVOO and coat each fillet with oil & finish by seasoning with salt & pepper. Top fillets with stuffing mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until stuffing is light brown on top. Serve with a vegetable (green beans, broccoli, etc). This is one of our favorite ways to cook fish!

2) Grilled Tilapia w/ Vegetables
Ingredients: 4 tilapia fillets, tin foil, cherry tomatoes, yukon gold potatoes, lemon, salt & pepper and EVOO
Directions: Coat each fillet with a little EVOO. Next season tilapia with salt & pepper and finish with a little lemon juice. Place tilapia in double layered tin foil squares. Cut potatoes in medium sized wedges. Place potatoes & cherry tomatoes (no need to cut tomatoes- they pop once grilled) on top of tilapia. Squeeze a little more lemon juice on vegetables and seal up tin foil. Place tin foil pouches on grill for 20-25 minutes (or until done). It's a great full meal with easy clean up.

3) Pan fried Cornbread Tilapia
Ingredients: 4-6 tilapia fillets, 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix, 1 packet dry Ranch dressing, milk and EVOO
Directions: Combine cornbread mix & dry ranch dressing in one bowl and pour app. 1 cup of milk in another shallow bowl. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO and 1 tablespoon butter to skillet. Meanwhile, dip each filet in milk and and then coat fish with cornbread/ranch mix. Cook fish fillets for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden and firm. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the pan. Serve with your choice of vegetables and/or sides.

These are just a few ways to cook fish. If you have any other suggestions, I know we'd love to hear them. Just comment below. Happy Eating!


NYC here we come!

May 29, 2008

We're off to NYC tomorrow night and couldn't be more excited! While there we'll visit Alan's high school friends, Nate, John & Dan. It should be tons of fun. This trip comes at a perfect time as we'll also be there to celebrate our 3-year anniversary. Crazy, huh? 3 years!!
If you've been to NYC and have any recommendations for us, comment below. We'll post photos once we return.
(and in case anyone is concerned - Steph's Pick will go on as normal tomorrow!)


Alan's Two Cents - Consumer Reports

May 27, 2008

I don’t subscribe to that many magazines…actually only 2, which include Sports Illustrated (imagine that) and Consumer Reports. Regarding the later subscription, if I am going to make a significant purchase or even a small one for that matter, I am going to consult Consumer Reports. Why? Because I value their unbiased expertise and the intensive testing they perform.

Consumer Reports is, according to their website (, “an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, CU (Consumers Union) accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers.”

Consumer Reports provides a great platform for you, the consumer, to be very well educated. I encourage you the next time you are going to make a significant purchase (big or small) to do research and learn about the different products. In doing so, you might just save a few extra bucks!


Steph's Pick - Personalized Stamps

May 23, 2008

I'm always on the lookout for new gift ideas. Not only for family & friends but for myself as well. (Every once in awhile you just need to treat yourself to a little something!) About a month ago I ordered myself a new personalized return address stamp and I just LOVE it! At first, I thought it was weird to be so excited about such a random little item; however, I also bought one for my sister-in-law, Sara, who also loves it just as much as I do. These stampers are great gifts for weddings, birthdays, new home owners, or anyone who just loves to write letters.

I bought mine at Personalization Mall; however, there are numerous other sites that sell them. Such sites include Stationary Studio or Expressionary. Get your personalized stamp today!


Alan's Two Cents - Auto & Home Insurance

May 19, 2008

Insurance can be a major expense for most families. It certainly is for mine. Personally I have used the same auto insurance company since I turned 16. So I don’t really know anything different. I have heard that you should change insurance companies every so often but have never put that into practice…until now. Recently my work offered us a group auto and home insurance rate. I thought I'd at least check it out so I called up one of the three companies to obtain a quote and by the end of our conversation I had switched. Steph and I are saving $400+ per year for an auto (two cars) and a home owner’s policy.

The company offered many discounts and because they are online and don’t have the high overhead costs that your neighborhood insurance agency has, they can offer lower rates to begin with. Another way to save with insurance companies is to raise your deductible (to at least $500). This will make your premium payments lower.

So, look in to changing auto/home insurance might be surprised at just how much money you can save.


Steph's Pick - PregTASTIC podcasts

May 16, 2008

Before we get any rumors flying around - NO - we are not pregnant! Although this post may allude to that being true of Alan & I, the truth is that we are not expecting. Maybe sometime in the future. Now on to this week's pick....

For a long while I had always just listened to music while at the gym and traveling (by car or plane); however, since being introduced to various podcasts I'm now using the time for educational purposes. Specifically, my friend Joy recently introduced me to my new favorite podcast - PregTASTIC podcasts - podcasts by and for moms-to-be. On our recent trip to San Diego, we listened to one of these podcasts and I found them to be very casual, informative and fun! Each week the pregtastic ladies publish a new podcast in which they invite various pregnant women and a full range of experts on their show. They explore pretty much any topic a pregnant woman may want to hear more about - breast feeding, birthing options, prenatal nutrition, miscarriages, delivery expectations, etc. The list goes on and on. This really is an excellent resource - sign up for these FREE podcasts today.


The Winner is......

May 13, 2008

We were so pleased by the responses to our surprise giveaway! Thank you for all who commented - we appreciated your kind words. Without further ado..... the winner is.... JESS STARMER!!!

I have to be honest - for those of you who know me, you know that Jess is one of my dear friends AND it's her birthday! So - there couldn't be a better winner (and no - the drawing was in no way rigged - seriously - I was just as surprised when I drew her name out of the hat!). Jess wins a Summer GiftPack - I'll post a picture once I have everything put together and ready to send.

Keep reading for further giveaways!!!


San Diego

May 12, 2008

This past weekend our small group from church drove to San Diego for a fun-filled weekend. We started off our adventures by kayaking on Saturday morning and going to the San Diego Zoo on Saturday afternoon and finally concluded the day on Coronado island for great food and a bonfire on the beach! Sunday we got up and went to church, had lunch at an incredible cafe in Del Mar and hiked a beautiful trail along the shoreline. We love each couple in our small group dearly and can't wait for the many more adventures to come.


My friend Nealy tagged me for this. She's a awesome woman and an incredible cook - check out her blog for great recipes. Here goes!

I am…an avid picture taker.
I want…a new handbag!
I wish…we lived closer to our families.
I hate…olives (yuck!)
I miss…the college years.
I fear…snakes.
I feel…exhausted.
I hear…David Gray playing on my iPod.
I smell…coffee.
I crave…reeses peanut butter cups!
I search…for geocaches quite frequently.
I wonder…how many people actually read my blog :)
I regret…leaving our camera on a bench in Italy!! (so sad)
I love…warm weather.
I ache…after my fitness classes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - so pretty much all the time.
I care…about my family.
I always…am up for a good bargain.
I am not…introverted.
I believe…that my eternal significance is in Christ.
I dance…very infrequently - Alan isn't much of a dancer.
I the car.
I cry…more often than I'd like (I'm a bit emotional)
I don’t always…floss.
I fight…for my right to party (remember that song?) I LOVE hosting parties.
I write…most of our blog.
I never…stay up all night (I love sleeping)
I listen…to country music.
I need…the grace of Christ Jesus.
I am happy…with a book in hand and hot coffee on the side table.

Now I am tagging…Michelle and Kristen!


Steph's Pick -

May 9, 2008

Have you ever found yourself just waiting till you have time to finally put that scrapbook together or at the very least put those old photos in an album? I know I've found myself in that position on numerous occasions. Wait no longer - I've found a great way to display those photos. is a free bookmaking software that has been a great way for Alan and I to capture memories on a yearly (or event) basis.
By going on their website you can preview books other users have created to inspire you in your own bookmaking. They have a ton of page layout/design options that assist in putting the book together in a professional and creative way. And the best part is - the software is FREE & the books are very affordable ($20 - $50).
We've been putting yearly books together for the past 3 years and have been so impressed with each blurb book. It's such a fun and easy way to display all of the memories we created from the past year. Plus - we see these books as being fairly economical as we very rarely have to order individual photo prints.

Check out blurb today!


Alan's Two Cents - Oil Change

May 8, 2008

I got an oil change the other day from an auto shop that I normally do not go to. It is more of a car wash/gas station/oil change “one stop shop” type of place. I normally do not go to these types of places, but I was having a hard time getting in to my usual shop. Needless to say, I now realize why I will not go back to said “one stop shop.”

After waiting 10 minutes or so, a mechanic called my name. I am thinking “that was fast.” So the mechanic proceeds to tell me that my transmission fluid looks like this and it should look like this. Both were the same color but one was darker “dirtier” than the other. He also did this for my brake fluid as well. I am thinking “these people are just trying to talk me into something I don’t really need.” I passed on the transmission and brake flushes. Then he pulls out “my” air filter and tells me it is dirty and should be replaced. I pass on that too.

Now, I consider myself to be somewhat handy…I know where my air filter is and if I had a driveway/garage I would probably do my own oil changes. When I got home I popped the hood and found my air filter. When I took it out it was a completely different air filter than what the guy had showed me and it was totally clean. I was a little peeved.

So the moral of the story is…don’t get ripped of by your local auto shop. I would recommend keeping a log book of what service has been done on your car.

If your are interested I recently found this site


Surprise Giveaway

May 6, 2008

You read it right - it's a surprise giveaway right here on our blog!! For quite some time we've been curious to see just how many people are reading our blog. Because most people don't comment (which is understandable), we thought we'd do a drawing for a surprise giveaway for those who do comment on this blog before Monday, May 12th.

• Post a comment. Tell us what you like about our blog - if anything :)
• Enter by Monday, May 12th. Check back Tuesday, May 13th to see if you won!
• Remember to use your login name if you have one (blogger, typepad, live journal, word press, AIM) or first name & last initial so we can identify you if you win. Good luck!!

Note: Gift will be gender appropriate. Men - don't let the cute picture hinder your entry into this giveaway.


Steph's Pick - Panini's

May 2, 2008

One of our most loved kitchen appliances is our panini grill. Some dear friends of ours, Peter & Julie Bartolini, got it for us and our lives have'nt been the same since ;) In all seriousness, I've found it to be one of the greatest additions to our kitchen. Each week it seems that there is always at least one night that I'm just not feeling up to cooking. Enter panini maker. By throwing together just a few ingredients these warm delicious sandwiches provide a yummy yet easy dinner option.

For those unfamiliar with these tasty treats, panini's are what I would consider sandwiches, Italian style. In Italian, Panino (singular) literally means small bread roll. "Panini" is often used in a singular sense by speakers of English and pluralised into "paninis."

Begin your creation with your choice of bread. Bakeries now serve up a range of wonderful breads to choose from: rolls such as michette, hollow in the middle; cigar-shaped loaves, called filone; and huge wheels of chewy country bread. If authentic Italian-style breads are not available, any bread can be used. The bread is the foundation for your panini. Below you'll find some suggestions that you might consider pairing together as you make your own panini's.

Possible Ingredients:
Fresh Mozzarella
Garden Herbs (basil, mint, oregano)
Sauteed peppers
Goat Cheese
Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Arugula Leaves
Grilled Chicken
Parmesan cheese

Use your creativity - I promise, you'll love it!

For more information on panini makers preview our Crate & Barrel Panini Maker or for a less expensive (but equally as good) option look into the Target Panini Press.
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Alan's Two Cents - Cell Phone Usage

May 1, 2008

Cell phone bills can be a large expense in your budget. I know ours is! Because of this it's important to familiarize yourself with your cell phone plan and billing statements. Below you'll find just a few things to consider.

To make sure that you have the right plan, review the last three months of your cell phone bill. You should know and understand peak and off-peak usage, text message and picture rates, area coverage, roaming charges, per minute fees for going over your allotted minutes, and termination fees. Knowing these factors will greatly help you.

Make sure you are using most of your minutes in your specific package. If you are consistently going over and getting charged for it…you might want to consider upgrading your plan. Otherwise, try and make your phone calls primarily during off-peak times. On the contrary, if you have an excessive amount of minutes each month…your specific need might be better suited for the next plan down.

Know the in’s and out’s of your specific plan. Don’t try to stimulate the economy by using your cell phone! And on a personal note: join Verizon - that way we can all talk for "free"!

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