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How long should items stay in the fridge?

July 13, 2011

This is a side-note on food safety. I bought ground beef on Saturday (at an AWESOME sale price!!!) with the intention of making chili on Monday. That would have been fine and dandy, but things got really busy on Monday and Tuesday and I decided to make the chili on Wednesday… but by then it was too late. I went online to find out if it was safe to eat, considering I had left it in the fridge for almost 5 days. The sad answer: No. Ground beef should not be in the fridge for more than 2 days.

So here is the table from a great website I found on food safety. Hopefully you’ll learn from my mishap.

Original site: Food Safety website

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer

These short but safe time limits for home-refrigerated foods will keep them from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat. The guidelines for freezer storage are for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

Category Food Refrigerator
(40 °F or below)
(0 °F or below)
Salads Egg, chicken, ham, tuna & macaroni salads 3 to 5 days Does not freeze well
Hot dogs opened package 1 week 1 to 2 months
unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Luncheon meat opened package or deli sliced 3 to 5 days 1 to 2 months
unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Bacon & Sausage Bacon 7 days 1 month
Sausage, raw — from chicken, turkey, pork, beef 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 months
Hamburger & Other Ground Meats Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them 1 to 2 days 3 to 4 months
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork Steaks 3 to 5 days 6 to 12 months
Chops 3 to 5 days 4 to 6 months
Roasts 3 to 5 days 4 to 12 months
Fresh Poultry Chicken or turkey, whole 1 to 2 days 1 year
Chicken or turkey, pieces 1 to 2 days 9 months
Soups & Stews Vegetable or meat added 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Leftovers Cooked meat or poultry 3 to 4 days 2 to 6 months
Chicken nuggets or patties 3 to 4 days 1 to 3 months
Pizza 3 to 4 days 1 to 2 months

Click here to see the Egg Storage Safety chart



*** Mac and Cheese

July 13, 2011


I found this recipe by googling for easy mac and cheese recipes. The purpose was to take it to a work pot luck, and I really didn’t want to break the bank to feed others when I’m here pinching pennies to feed myself on a daily basis. So I got some elbows (on sale), cheese, evaporated milk, and got down to business!

I’m DELIGHTED to report that my Mac and Cheese was a huge HIT! I even overheard people at the pot luck saying how good it was 🙂 (somehow it’s more satisfying to hear it said behind my back than to my face) 😉 It was so easy to make following this recipe, that I would do it again! Maybe I would even consider changing some ingredients around to make it a more low-calorie meal, but it was so good the way it was that I’d be afraid to mess with quality!

Traditional Macaroni and Cheese Traditional Macaroni and Cheese by Nestle® Carnation®
My comments in blue

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes


  • 1 2/3 cups dry, small elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard – I left out the mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can NESTLE® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk – I used a generic brand
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided – I got the kind that comes in a 2-cup bag, generic brand. Perfect size, perfect price.


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 2-quart casserole dish.
  2. Combine cornstarch, salt, mustard and pepper in medium saucepan. Stir in evaporated milk, water, and butter. Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted.
  5. Add macaroni; mix well.
  6. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and light brown. – I baked for 19 minutes, and it was brown all over the top

  8. Footnotes

    • NOTE: To transform Macaroni & Cheese from a simple dish to a savory one-dish meal, add 1 cup chopped ham or hot dogs after milk mixture comes to a boil.

The aftermath…

Big Hit!!!!



** Easy Chicken Quesadillas

March 23, 2011

Rating: Nothing to write home about

I found this recipe by typing in “chicken breast” and “tortillas” in the search field in the website SuperCook. This is one of those websites where you just type in the ingredients you have at home, and it comes up with the list of recipes for you!

Easy Chicken Quesadillas Easy Chicken Quesadillas by studymom_2000
My comments in blue

Prep time: 45 minutes – More like 30 min: 15min to defrost the chicken, the other 15 to dice it up
Active Cooking Time: 15 minutes – More like 30 min: cook the chicken, slice the cheese, set up the tortillas and cheese
Walk-away time: 15 minutes – the time the quesadillas spend in the oven


  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, sliced – I used something like 5 oz of yellow extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 lg. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced – I only used 2, but they were pretty large
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 lg. flour tortillas I made 2 quesadillas, so that’s only 4 tortillas – I used whole wheat tortillas


  1. Dissolve taco seasoning in water in large skillet.
  2. Add chicken breasts and cook until chicken is thouroughly cooked; drain.
  3. Layer cheese slices on 3 tortillas (I use a pizza pan).
  4. Next, put 1/3 of chicken on each tortilla.
  5. Top with another layer of cheese and remaining tortillas.
  6. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  7. Cut into quarters and serve with sour cream and/or guacamole.

Final review: these turned out pretty well, and I might make them again, but not for dinner. Maybe as a party appetizer or something. The truth is that it was way too much cheese for dinner.


Brian’s Corner: Burgers Burgers Burgers

March 22, 2011

Sometimes being a picky eater has more to do with convenience than actual reluctance to try new things. Brian usually defaults to take-out cheeseburgers when there’s no dinner planned.

The best solution is to make turkey burger patties and keep them (raw) in the freezer. Just remember to put them in the fridge the night before, and they’ll be ready to cook the next evening! Do the same with the burger rolls.

Brian loved the turkey burgers! Must add that to his very very limited menu!


*** Turkey Cheeseburgers

March 22, 2011


Hello everyone, did you miss me??? Yeah, I missed me, too. Now that I’m spending more time at home, there are more opportunities to cook, so I would like to start the festivities with AWESOME AWESOME turkey cheeseburgers.

Turkey Cheeseburgers Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers
My comments in blue

Makes 12 patties – The way I did it, it made 6.

Prep time: 15 minutes – If you can chop onions in 5 minutes, you can reduce this prep time by 10min!
Active Cooking time: 15 min – Mixing everything and making the patties took only 10 min
Walk-away time: 30 minutes – I would say the patties were ready in 20 min, but I didn’t measure it. If you make them thinner, they’ll take less time.


  • 3 pounds ground turkey – I’m only cooking for 2, so I bought only 1 pound, however I left the same proportions of everything else, and they turned out DELICIOUS, so I suggest to leave everything else as is.
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley – I used about 1/8 cup of dried parsley leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced – I used about 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, seasoned bread crumbs, onion, egg whites, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Form into 12 patties.
    12 is a bit ambitious… with a regular pack of ground turkey I was able to make 6 patties comfortably.
  2. Cook the patties in a medium skillet over medium heat, turning once, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C).
    I didn’t measure the temperature, I just waited for the patties to be completely dry both sides, and then added American cheese on top.

I also made some french fries. Ingredients: 1 potato, Directions: peel, slice in french fries shape, fry in hot oil. Take out when they look french fry-ee.

I ended up having one delicious and gorgeous burger. I put pink sauce (mayo and ketchup) and fries on the burger, but you can dress it as you’d like 🙂


Flat Belly Diet – Jumpstart Day 3

December 6, 2010

I thought Day 3 started out alright, although my hours were getting a bit wacky. I kept reminding myself that the reason they want you to eat every 4 hours is because they don’t want you to feel like you’re starving, so if I delayed my meals and I starved it was really self-inflicted, and not because “I’m on a diet.” So basically, I was getting away with it by blaming myself. Yeah.

Jumpstart – Day 3
Source: Vaccariello, Liz. Flat Belly Diet, Pocket Guide. New York, NY: Rodale, Inc, 2009.
My comments in blue

Breakfast (8:30am)

  • 1 cup unsweetened corn flakes + 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup roasted or raw unsalted sunflower seeds
    I’ve been eating these throughout the day instead of as “part of breakfast” — I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened raisins
    No can do. Pineapple bits it is.
  • Glass of Sassy Water
    Fresh new pot made yesterday afternoon. I can’t wait to stop drinking this stuff.

Due to some scheduling considerations for tomorrow, I had to swap some menus around. This is the lunch menu for Day 4, but I had it today:

Lunch (1:45pm)

  • 3 ounces chunk light tuna in water, drained
    First off, Today’s wasn’t as bad as yesterday’s. I mixed it with all the grape tomatoes (which I cut into 3 pieces each — yeah, took a while), and then added bits of the string cheese. It was just a big medley that filled a plate… it was kind of tasty, but I couldn’t get my eyes off the french fries and fried chicken a coworker was devouring in the break room next to me.
  • 1 pint fresh grape tomatoes
  • 1 low-fat string cheese
    Only used about half of it
  • Glass of Sassy Water

Snack (3:45pm)

  • Blueberry Smoothie: Blend 1 cup of fat-free milk and 1 cup frozen unsweetneed blueberries in a blender for 1 minute. Transfer to a class and stir in 1 tablespoon cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil or serve with 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, without the shell
    Not a fan. Sorry. I had pineapple bits instead.

Dinner (8:00pm)

  • 4 ounces grilled tilapia, drizzled with 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sautéed in cooking spray, if desired
    Left overs from yesterday! Ready to cook! And then…. hot oil splashed into my EYE. BULLS EYE!!! I ended up in the emergency room (after having my delicious dinner, of course) and in excruciating pain the rest of the weekend. NOT COOL.
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
    Left overs from yesterday! Microwave and done!
  • Glass of Sassy Water

End of Day 3. Trip to the ER aside, I stuck to the diet and did great!

Day 4: I was in so much pain from my eye mishap, that I forced myself to sleep until 12:30pm. Then I went to a couple of holiday parties and had a few appetizers. That’s when I said: screw this. No more. There will be no Day 4.

Conclusion of the diet: I’ve spent way too much money on this, way too much time thinking about food, and I’ve been eating some foul stuff. I’ll just count my calories like everybody else in the world. RIP Flat Belly Diet. You were not for me.


Flat Belly Diet – Jumpstart Day 2

December 3, 2010

Day 2 started the same way as Day 1: Woke up at 4:30am, train by 5:30, you get the drift.

Made it to my desk at 8am after my meetings, and proceeded to make my Day 2 menu:

Jumpstart – Day 2
Source: Vaccariello, Liz. Flat Belly Diet, Pocket Guide. New York, NY: Rodale, Inc, 2009.
My comments in blue

Breakfast (8am)

  • 1 packet instant Cream of Wheat + 1 cup fat-free milk
    Packet? What do they mean packet? The kind I bought comes all in one box! So I measured 3 tbsp last night and brought them in in a zip lock bag this morning to mix with the milk I left at work. This was my first time having cream of wheat, so I had to ask my coworkers whether it looked done or not 🙂 I brought along some cinnamon (one of the approved spices) to give it some flavor, only to realize I had really brought cinnamon SUGAR! So I just sprinkled a tiny bit on top (you won’t tell on me, will ya?). It was not unbearable… but I did eat it quickly so I could forget I ever had that mush as fast as possible.
  • 1/4 cup roasted or raw unsalted sunflower seeds
    Like I said: by the handfuls. Chew quickly. Swallow.
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened raisins
    I hate raisins. I raised my substitute flag and looked it up in the back of the book. Bits of pineapple did the trick. Just a few, though. Don’t want to exceed my calorie limit.
  • Glass of Sassy Water
    Confession: in my rush to go home after work yesterday, I didn’t have time to prepare a new pitcher… I just filled with water the pitcher from yesterday. The drink tastes extra citrus-y today (gulp).

Lunch (1:45pm)

  • 3 ounces chunk light tuna in water, drained
    I couldn’t get out of my 12 o’clock meeting… by the time I could get my hands on some food I was STARVING!!!!! The tuna was surprisingly dry… don’t know why…
  • 1 cup steamed baby carrots
    I put some finger carrots in the microwave for like 7 minutes (with a couple of breaks in between), so they are soft. I like them that way.
  • 1 low-fat string cheese
    Again, the highlight of my meal, and I figured out why: it has a billion grams of saturated fatty goodness. Couldn’t finish it all, though… felt too guilty after finding out the % saturated fat and cholesterol. Only had half of a stick.
  • Glass of Sassy Water



  • Pineapple Smoothie: Blend 1 cup fat-free milk, 4 ounces canned pineapple tidbits in juice, and a handful of ice in a blender for 1 minute. Transfer to a glass and stir in 1 tablespoon cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil or serve with 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, without the shell
    Didn’t have the time or inclination to make this… forget it. Skipped.

Dinner (8:00pm)

  • 3 ounce grilled chicken breast, drizzled with 1 teaspoon olive oil
    3 ounces of chicken breast are 1/2 of a single breast. I cut it transversally so I could get two equal parts, 3 ounces each. I put it in a sauce pan at medium heat, added 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and some rosemary on top (approved spice). Once the chicken was ready on both sides, I added the mushrooms to sautée alongside. No cooking spray added.
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sautéed in cooking spray, if desired
    I washed them first, then sliced them and put about a cup to sautée with the chicken. Because mushrooms are moist on their own, there is no need for cooking spray here.
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
    I make rice in a non-conventional way: I put about 1-2 teaspoons of oil at the bottom of a pot and turn the stovetop on at medium-high heat. Once the oil is warmed up, I add the rice (dry). I mix the oil and the dry rice thoroughly, and then add twice as much water as I added rice (1 cup of dry rice, 2 cups of water). At this point I usually add garlic powder and salt, but for this recipe I added basil only (approved spice), stir it in. I let it boil, stirring sometimes, until I can see the rice peep through the water along the surface. At that point, I lower the heat and let it simmer until all the water is gone. My rice was delicious.
  • Glass of Sassy Water
    Sorry, I didn’t feel like having it for dinner. Skipped. Just drank water.

I very much enjoyed this dinner. If I were rating meals, this dinner would get 3 out of 3 stars!


For those of you who by Day 2 were dying to have a pizza… you are not alone. Hang in there! We’re doing great!