Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen Recipe: Mexican Pizza

My toddler loves to help in the kitchen. She loves to pour and stir and of course lick the utensils when we're done. She's been helping since she turned two years old and is getting more and more comfortable in the kitchen. She really takes pride in the tasks I give her now. So I am always trying to think of meals she can help me with. This is an easy one that she found fun to assemble.

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings):
  • Corn tortillas (8)
  • 1 can of refried beans, black beans OR I used Glory brand red beans & rice which you should be able to find in the International food aisle with Caribbean canned goods
  • grilled chicken (about 1 1/2 chicken breasts)
  • shredded cheddar cheese or blend (about 1 cup)
  • 2 chopped green onions (scallions)
  • (optional) sour cream and salsa
  1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Grill your chicken and chop into small pieces
  3. Spray non-stick spray on a cookie sheet
  4. Place 4 of the tortillas on sheet (good job for the toddler)
  5. Spoon a large spoonful of your canned beans of choice and spread out evenly (good job for the toddler) 
  6. Top with another tortilla (good job for the toddler) 
  7. Place chicken on top 
  8. Sprinkle scallions and cheese (good job for the toddler)
  9. Cook in oven for 10 min top with your favorite condiments

Save up to 80% on custom printed products at Vistaprint. Order today!
Get Paid to Tweet!

DIY Small Business Accounting Made Easy

 When you are running a small business one must wear many hats. As solopreneurs, we're always looking to save money and do things ourselves to cut cost. Many things are worth hiring a someone else to do. Lots of administrative duties can be outsourced because, lets face it, our time is often more valuable elsewhere. I highly recommend hiring a CPA to file end-of the-year taxes. Tax laws change and professionals know about all kinds of write-offs we may not know about. But how do you handle the day to day numbers? If you are a public speaker or consultant, you may not have daily revenues or expenses to track. You are doing yourself a disservice by saving receipts and check stubs all year and waiting until the end of year to tally everything. You may be in for a shock.

Since I run a retail business, Gumdrop Swap, I have to record data daily. I wasn't sure if I should invest in a program like Quickbooks. I've heard good things about it but I just didn't want to purchase it yet. I designed a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel with my basic skills in formula making. It was beautifully colored and prettified and then... my laptop was stolen (my mistake for not backing that document up and I encourage you to back up everything! Even email it to yourself if you don't have another drive to save things on.) I knew I wouldn't be able to duplicate that Excel spreadsheet so I went on the hunt for a (free) or cheap one online. I figured if I could find a sample one I could tweak it to my needs. I stumbled upon a site called Basic Accounting Help. I read a few articles and then there was a claim to have free spreadsheet for download. I bet this is a scam or virus, I thought to myself. But I dared to download it and I was so glad I did! There was a simple but sophisticated Excel workbook that has 12 months and an end of year summary. You plug and play to tailor it to your needs. It was better than the one I had designed from scratch! So, I am sharing this with you. The woman behind the scenes is named Vickey and she'll answer any questions you have. She is passionate about helping small businesses. Soak up her advice. All she asks is that you sign up for her Small Business News (enewsletter) then she'll send you a link to download the spreadsheets. Feel free to tell her you learned about her from my blog. I told her how much I appreciated her and that I would spread the good news.

Save up to 80% on custom printed products at Vistaprint. Order today!Get Paid to Tweet!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

RECIPE: Everybody in the Pool! Easy 15 min recipe.

This is another "clean out the fridge before the veggies go bad" dish. And by using a steam-in-the-bag shortcut I was able to complete in less than 15 min!

The point is to use fresh veggies like broccoli, roasted red peppers and squash to make a colorful and healthy dish. I try to think of my dishes as vegetarian with meat (lol) meaning chocked full of fresh veggies but an addition of meat for flavor and because I married a carnivore and I was raised on meat and starch so its hard for me to feel full if there isn't meat. Does that make me weird? If not, there are a laundry list of other things that do so I've got that covered.

What you need:
  • A large pot with cover
  • (Optional) Turkey Kielbasa sliced small or chopped
  • Med white onion chopped
  • 1 fresh bunch of broccoli cut into florets and pieces of stalk
  • 1 jar of roasted red pepper cut into smaller pieces (I used Table Joy brand)
  • 2 yellow squash or zucchini sliced or chopped
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth (replace with oil from red pepper jar for vegan version)
  • Cooked rice or my shortcut Steam-in-Bag white rice with peas, corn, and carrots

1. Cook rice and put side
2. (Skip to #3 if doing vegan version) Slice kielbasa then cut slices in half and begin browning in med-high pot
3. Add chopped onion and chicken broth (or oil from jar of roasted red pepper) and cover
4. Add chopped squash and roasted red pepper, stir well
5 Add broccoli, stir well
6. Incorporate your cooked rice, stir well, recover for about 5 min then Serve!

Save up to 80% on custom printed products at Vistaprint. Order today!
Get Paid to Tweet!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fresh Start

I don't set resolutions. Probably because I know its unlikely I will stick to them.  But what I do like about celebrating New Years is the feeling of pressing the reset button. NYE is a sort of finish line allowing us to take stock, manage progress over the past year, access what needs to change. I applied this to my business even though Gumdrop Swap's boutique has not been open a full year (opened April 6th). And I determined that I was not addressing the needs of every time of customer that Gumdrop Swap can appeal to.

The key to being a successful small business is being able to adapt. Over these 8 months as a retail store owner I have learned a lot about my community and the type of customers I attract. I was surprised at how many people come in  looking for gift for a family member, co-worker, and friend. I prominently place all new items that have tags out so they're easy to access to those kind of shoppers. And I offer free gift wrap, box or bags. I even showcase samples of gift baskets and socks rose bouquets which can be custom ordered.

I initially designed the business for large families who have been storing (read: hoarding) clothing and other baby wares in their home. I figured they would benefit most. They would be so happy to clean out closets, basements, and attics and be able to get things and clothing the kids needed in return. And these families immediately saw the value in a 3 month membership to the Swap & Save Club.

But I had not anticipated people would be turned off by the commitment. I would hear things like "Well, I need to go home and go through the kids closets" (as if they were unsure if they'd have anything to swap) and I thought to myself, "Um, ok, unless your kids are done growing, they are going to outgrow some things in the next few months." Or, people would say "I wish I knew about this before! I just gave away a bunch of stuff." I had to figure out how to motivate those people to come swap even only a few items at a time. The whole idea is to get you all to stop hoarding and waiting. So, I decided to revamp the Gumdrop Swap business model slightly to hopefully appeal to all.

I got to dust off my arsenal of art/design skils (disclaimer: so out of practice) to create a few simple illustrated steps. So I present them to you here. (click on it to open separately and control speed of slides etc)

Save up to 80% on custom printed products at Vistaprint. Order today!Get Paid to Tweet!