Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 5 Appetizer Recipes for New Year's Eve!

Let's ring in the new year - whether your throwing a house party or attending one (does anyone even go out anymore?) here are my top 5 recipes for delicious appetizers (most include my favorite of some sort of cheese-sorry dairy-free fans) to share among your guests or bring to a party!

#5 Buffalo Chicken Dip

2-8 oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup of ranch dressing
1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing sauce
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
In a large bowl combine softened cream cheese, ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, and buffalo wing sauce. Using a hand mixer, mix until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Fold in shredded chicken and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Pour into a baking dish. Top with remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until dip is warmed through.
Serve with tortilla chips, bread, crackers, pretzels, and celery. Note: You can substitute one cup of either dressing or split between the two.

#4 Hot Caprese Dip (adorned from How Sweet It Is)

10 ounces fresh Mozzarella, cubed or Whole Milk Mozzarella
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and juiced
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil (or about 1 tablespoon dried) + more for garnish
Preheat oven to 375.
Make sure tomatoes have as much juiced squeezed out of them as possible – this will prevent the dip from becoming soupy or watery. In a small baking dish, combine chopped cheese, tomatoes and basil and mix. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes so cheese becomes bubbly and golden. Serve immediately with crackers, melba toast, or french bread.
Note: dip may appear “watery” which is why it is VERY important to get as much moisture out of the tomatoes as possible. Also make sure dip is consumed immediately, as the longer it sits, the more juice that develops. Don’t worry if there is a little bit of juice – it is still delicious!

#3 Brown Sugar Dijon Baked Brie

4 inch round-Brie cheese with rind
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sliced almonds or pecans
1 French baguette
Additional sliced almonds to garnish

Slice brie horizontally, set aside.  Mix together brown sugar, Dijon, and almonds. With cut side up, place half of mixture on brie.  Top with second half of brie-cut side up (this is so that it doesn't melt all over itself when heating up) and layer with rest of Dijon mixture and sliced almonds on top.  Bake @ 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes until brie just softens.  Remove from oven and serve immediately with slices of the baguette and fresh fruit.

# 2 Gorgonzola-Onion Crustini - These are my absolute favorite appetizer!

1 container of Gorgonzola cheese
1 small wedge of domestic Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
3/4 - 1 cup of mayonnaise (not fat-free)
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed
cracked pepper
1 French Baguette
fresh parsley chopped for garnish

Slice baguette in 1/2 inch slices and place on baking sheet. Combine the cheeses, mayonnaise, onion, garlic, and cracked pepper together.  Generously spread mixture on bread slices and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Remove from oven to a platter and garnish with parsley. 
Note:  This mixure can be combined up to a few days before using.  Just remove from refrigerator and place on bread and cook.

#1 Easiest Elegant Chardonnay Cheese Fondue (okay so this is my favorite too...)

1 can of condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 – 1 ½ cups Cheddar/Swiss shredded cheese
¼ cup beer/wine/apple juice
1-2 clove garlic, pressed
1/8 tsp. Tabasco
Dippers- bread cubes, assorted veggies, apples, pears, ham cubes

Combine all ingredients except dippers in a microwavable bowl.  Stir together and microwave for 3-4 minutes or until smooth.  Pour into heat proof dish with sterno or a lit candle underneath.  Serve immediately with dippers.  Enjoy-EASY!

Some other favorites are:

Happy New Year Friends~ What are you making?

Linked up with lot's of delicious recipes...@ Your Homebased Mom

I Didn't.

I didn't blog during the intimate Christmas season because I was busy enjoying my family and friends.

I didn't use super expensive wrapping and bows this year...just because.

I didn't send my Christmas cards out "on time" (according to who?), and everyone just loved them anyway.

I didn't have the family Santa picture this year at the club because we were busy on vacation with our family.

I didn't take enough pictures...because I was busy being in the moment.

I didn't break out into hives when my living space has been trashed for about 24 hours according to what I would like.

My husband and I didn't exchange big gifts this year...just because.

I haven't had shoes on other than my comfty slippers except when we went out and shared a pizza the other night.

I didn't have fancy new Christmas paper goods this year, we used up all the many last years of extras and had an eclectic table.  I started to apologize to our 18+ Christmas dinner crowd, but then stopped because did anyone REALLY care-no they thought I was being smart-rather than frugal.

I haven't taken down any Christmas decor as of yet because my 5 year old wants to leave it up forever (I am getting the bug though).

We didn't have to get out of bed before 6 a.m. this Christmas morning because Hubs had the day off and my kids slept in (super exciting).

We didn't a lot...and things are always just fine.

Each year I have the visions and lists of all the crafts, decor, photos, and seasonal opportunities that I would like to accomplish or attend, but this year I took it down a every year when the "didn't" list starts to find it's way.  It doesn't matter that I don't use the finest china in the cabinet or have the biggest house on the block to entertain for our Christmas season...all it matters is that we have family and friends around us that we can look in their eyes for the Christmas LOVE that is shared. 

This season we had the magical visit of Santa-we were all excited because little boy believes. 

This season we themed our Christmas dinner around Italian food-all the potluck recipes brought were delicious!

This season we welcomed back a lost relative to our family gathering.

This season we spent over a week with our beloved nephew who lives out of town.

This season our church was over the top to share the Christmas story with over 20,000 people!

This season our family traveled together for a Christmas get-a-way before the busyness.

This season our house was decorated after Thanksgiving for us to enjoy a little longer.

This season my boys was excited to give to the bell ringers everytime we were out and about.

This season we had our active duty Army cousin adorn our Christmas dinner.

This season we welcomed our close friends who celebrate Hanukkah at our celebration of Jesus!

This season our family spent more time with each other through the holiday season.

This season the gifts were bought and wrapped before December.

This season we shared the love of God to neighbors in need.

This season a lot happened, some that was envisioned and some that was not, but most of all we were able to enjoy what this season is all about-the birth of Christ.  The holiday season may not always be what we envision, but for my case it was even MORE...MORE time, MORE family, and most of all MORE love was spread to our community and shared in our home.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Few Cricut Ideas for the Holidays

 Personalized Recycle Totes-instead of a Christmas gift bag or wrapping paper, a gift within a gift!
 Large-style Bins-Personalized
Wilton Pretzel Rod Candy bags stuffed with Christmas M&Ms, folded topper using Nativity cut-out glued to topper.  These were place setting gifts for a Christmas Gathering.

Menu Plan Monday

linked up with hundreds of menus at

Welcome to another edition to Menu Planning Monday!  There are only a few more weeks of 2010, hard to believe, and a few more menus.  We have a few events this week, but we still need to have a plan.  Some easy dishes as well as some comfort food added this week since it is FINALLY cold (54 degrees) in south Florida-I know some of you are laughing....).  Enjoy~

  • Crunchy Baked Chicken/Mashed Potatoes/Green Beans
  • Turkey-Wild Rice Soup/Beer Bread/Salad
  • Grilled Asian-Style Mahi-Mahi/Caesar Salad
  • Beef Tacos/Yellow Rice/Salad
  • Leftover Buffet
Crunchy Baked Chicken

4 large chicken breast
shredded Swiss/Monterrey jack
1 can of fat-free/reduced sodium cream of chicken soup
1/2 can white wine or chicken broth
large handful of croutons, crushed

Place chicken in 9x13 and cover with salt/pepper.  Combine soup and white wine, set aside.  Top each breast with cheese, and pour over soup mixture.  Top off with crushed croutons.  Bake at 375 until chicken is cooked thoroughly.  I like to cover with foil for first 30 minutes, then uncover to finish.

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

1 cup shredded  carrots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 TBLS butter
1/2 cup flour
2 small cans of chicken broth (I like low-sodium)
1 can low-fat evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (I use the quick rice or brown rice)
1 cup diced turkey or chicken
1/4 cup toasted almonds
Salt/pepper to taste

Melt butter in large sauce pan over medium heat and saute carrots, mushrooms, celery and onion for about 4 minutes or until crisp tender.  Stir in flour, gradually add broth and milk, whisking until blended using a whisk.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in rice and turkey, reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.  Serve with toasted almonds on the top. Delish with leftover turkey or chicken!  This is considered a light recipe per 1 1/4 cup serving - 240 calories/8 fat/2 fiber

Saturday, December 4, 2010


True Random Number Generator 2 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Holly @ KENIMER KIDS wins the $20 GIFT CARD to Stampin' Up! 
Fantastic!  You will be contacted in the next week with instructions on how to redeem!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Just to get the holiday season off to a great start, I am offering some BLOG CANDY to ONE LUCKY WINNER!!!  I hope it's YOU! So.....Leave a comment on my POST (below) and tell me what your favorite tradition is for the Winter Holiday that you celebrate....Get an extra entry by posting this on Facebook, FOLLOW ME (to the right), Tweet about it....You must come back and let me know if you want the extra entry for each one... I will choose on FRIDAY morning one lucky winner using RANDOM.ORG for a $20.00 Gift Certificate to STAMPIN UP!!!!  Wowsers, who couldn't use more paper, scrap/stamp stuff, adhesive, new scissors, etc...even if you don't stamp or scrap, you can give it as a gift.....I will be doing one gift certificate each Friday until the end of the year~ so keep checking back!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Well, it's that time of the week.  A "plan" will make your life a whole lot easier.  Hubs and I have quite a few evenings we are out of the house this week, but the kids still need to eat....... 

The coming weeks with holiday socials, and gatherings, I like to keep things simple.  For some reason the extra calories and goodies start to creep up around this time {grrrr~}.  I have several cookies I would like to try in the coming weeks, so check back to see what I came up with.  This week, I am doing the Smores Cups again to take with me to a weekly group shindig, you can find out about them here, Chai Spiced Cookies, and I will be making my MaMa's Rum Balls (as they need to ferment a bit). Here is what is cookin' up on our menu:

  • Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken with mashed potatoes, sliced peaches
  • Have Your Way Omelet's, Turkey Sausage, fresh fruit, Cinnamon Rolls
  • Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos (or Taco Salad), corn on the cob, grapes
  • BBQ Boneless Pork Chops, roasted potatoes, best-ever cornbread, fresh fruit
  • Grilled Mahi Mahi over Field Greens, sliced peaches
  • Grilled Hot Dogs (nitrate-free)/Turkey Burgers, chips, fresh fruit
  • Left-Over Buffet
What are you having this week?  Do you even know?  Make a plan, make it simple, if it works-keep it for another week in the future.  Until We Eat Again~

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Repurposed Bell Cloche' Pedestal

While browsing in one of my favorite stores...Home Goods...I came across this great pedestal bell jar cloche'[ what's that you say? it's a dome lid which botanist use over plants, etc....decorators now use them to house  anything from flowers, books, artificial birds, and baked goods.]  I have seen so many of these in decorating lately from a few of my other favorite stores...Pottery Barn or Willow House....  I knew the blue wouldn't work for me anywhere, but on clearance for $7, with no chipped edges, how could I pass it up... 

{pardon that table background}I got to work with one of my favorite craft mediums (Mod Podge), and applied some old vintage violin sheet music I picked up over the summer at Goodwill ($1 a book) on a thrifting escapade.  I had to piece together because of the large soft ridges and it not being straight.  I added some cute grosgrain ribbon [stampin' up] to finish it off for Christmas, and now it adorns my Christmas dining room table scape.  I will update a finished photo when I finish the decorating this evening...
**I can see that just changing the ribbon seasonally will allow me to use this all year round.** cost around $7.50 compared to $40+ below...
There are some great ideas on making cloche's as well as apothecary jars here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What to do with those Thanksgiving LEFTOVERS-without making a casserole!

How many of you even have Thanksgiving Leftovers?  Our family, like many, makes a plethora of delicious traditional and non-traditional dishes to share pot-luck style for Thanksgiving.  I can definitely say we do not over look the true meaning of how it was in the beginning when our forefathers sat down to some wild game, grains, nuts, berries, and some veggies, but all of us in our family love putting on a good meal with each other when we can, so there are no stops when entertaining for any occasion.  We look forward to granny's cheesy beans or my aunties prize-winning pies, or our highly requested crusty sausage-cornbread stuffing with cranberries or perhaps one of my favorites- granola-topped sweet potato souffle.  And then there is the turkey....and the regulars like mashed potatoes, rich gravy, biscuits and cornbread, and everything else that adorns the beautiful tablescape my mama prepares.  But what happens to the rest of the food after it has been dived up to relatives in little plastic containers to take home, what do they do with it?  Here are a few favorites our family has shared:

Microwave White Turkey (or chicken) Chili

3 whole heads garlic (about 48 cloves), unpeeled
¾ tsp salt, divided
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 poblano peppers
1 medium onion
2-3 cups cooked turkey
2 tbsp Southwestern Seasoning Mix
2 cans (15.5 oz each) Great Northern beans, drained
1 jar (16 oz) salsa verde

With heavy knife, slice about 1/4 in. off the pointed top of garlic heads to expose cloves. Place garlic cut side up in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle garlic with 1/4 tsp of the salt and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil. Cover batter bowl with lid; microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until garlic is soft. Set aside to cool.   Meanwhile, finely dice peppers. Chop onion, and combine peppers and onion in covered microwavable baker. Trim and finely dice turkey.  Add turkey, seasoning mix, remaining 1 tbsp oil and remaining 1/2 tsp salt to baker; mix well. Microwave, covered, on HIGH 4 minutes; stir to separate turkey. Cover; microwave an additional 4-6 minutes or until turkey is cooked through.  Meanwhile, gently squeeze cooled garlic from heads into batter bowl (discard skins); mash and add beans and salsa to batter bowl. Transfer bean mixture to baker; mix well.  Microwave, covered, on HIGH 5-7 minutes or until chili is heated through. 

Turkey and Cranberry Wreath ***This is our favorite!
2 pkg. ( 8 oz. each) Pillsbury crescent rolls              3 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
½  cup mayonnaise                                                   2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 ¼  cups ( 5 oz) shredded Swiss cheese                2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
½  teaspoon coarsely ground pepper                       1 pkg. sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat oven 375 degrees. In large mixing bowl combine turkey, 1 cup of the cheese, celery, cranberries, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard and black pepper; mix well.

Unroll 2 pkgs. of refrigerated crescent rolls; separate into 16 triangles. Arrange eight triangles in a circle on large round pizza pan with wide ends 3 inches from edge of baking stone and points towards the outside. Points will extend off the edge of the baking stone. Arrange remaining triangles in center of baking stone, matching wide ends with triangles already in place. Points will overlap in center. Using a small rolling pin or your fingers, roll over seams of triangles where wide ends meet creating a smooth surface. 

Scoop the filling evenly over dough. Beginning with last triangle placed in center of baking stone, bring point of triangle straight across filling. Next bring point of opposite outside triangle diagonally across filling, covering point of previous triangle. Filling will show. Repeat, overlapping points of inside and outside triangles to form a wreath. Tuck last end under first. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Here are some additional recipes, click on the link below...

e-How shares some delicious ideas.

Friday, November 19, 2010

S'More Cups

These sure where a winner at a craft night I attended this week.  Something that seemed like fall, easy to eat, and were gone before the end of the night.

I am a budding photographer -NOT!  But I am trying to utilize my Canon SW20IS.  It is the camera that is a crossover between a point and shoot and a DSLR, manual/digital operation, takes great pictures, but sometimes I never know how they happened.  So, with all that said, pardon the pics if they get a little out of focus someday all the camera classes I have taken will click...

Back to the recipe...

7 full size graham crackers, crushed finely, 1 cup
6 TBLS butter, melted
1/4 cup powdered sugar

12 large marshmallows, cut in half
3 regular size chocolate bars, broken into 12 pieces each

Combine the graham crackers crumbs with melted butter, and sugar.  Use a teaspoon or small scoop and add to a mini muffin pan, and pat down and sides.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 4 minutes (you will see butter start to sizzle with crumbs.  After removing from oven, place one chocolate piece to each graham cup (it will begin to melt on it's own), press cut side of marshmallow in chocolate, and place back in the oven for 1-2 minutes until the marshmallow becomes soft, but not melted.  Remove, and allow to cool for 15 minutes or so.  Remove cups CAREFULLY to a rack with a toothpick, they will get crumbly if you use a knife.  Meanwhile, microwave in small bowl the rest of the chocolate pieces, stirring after 20 seconds, until smooth and melted.  Take graham cup and dip in melted chocolate or drizzle on top.  These are SO EASY, and so much fun to take to an event.  Plan on making a double batch, because there won't be leftovers.  Makes 24 S'More Cups

Easy Re-Purpose Candle Craft

You know those tall religious candles you see everywhere these days...well - here's what I came up with for some great Christmas gifts or any holiday.  I purchased three candles several weeks back and they stared at me for sometime on my office shelf. How do you like them, easy-too!  There is something about the tall candle that's different from regular jar candles that can be decorated.  Enjoy!

Craft Recipe:
First I Mod-Podged, a 4X6 photo mat STACK scrapbook paper.  I used the Homemade Christmas variety to the candle jar.  I picked up some nostalgia mini Christmas cards at HomeGoods and cut the front of the cards and stuck to mat with glue dots, and then wrapped in floss, buttons, beads, bows, and added a few pearls.  I thought they turned out cute.  I plan on making more, what a great gift, and they can be made with any hodge podge of materials added to the outside.  The candles can be bought plain at Wal-Mart for around a dollar, the rest of the supplies can be found in your craft drawer, the cost - super inexpensive, especially if you had all the supplies on hand except the candles....(by the way...check the 11/30/2010 post-there's a giveaway that can help you make this craft!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cute Name Sign for Kidlets Room - Cricut

Hello Friends- just a little post on a cute DIY sign a friend and I made.  I can't say I did a whole lot, except cut the letters out using my Cricut Expression.  Did I mention to you, that I LOVE my Cricut.  I can't say I have really used it for scrappin', I have mainly used it for craft projects.  G. used a flat wood board cut into three sections from the Depot.  She made two name signs and one for her laundry room.  Painted with several coats and several colors- so she could distress with sand paper.  She used jute rope to create a hanging handle, and secured with eye hooks [ don't you love those fancy girl scout knots].  She finished the project with Mod Podge (my personal craft item favorite)-{side note - check out this MOD PODGE junkie site}.  Isn't this project sweet, so simple, and fun to make!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

linked up to hundreds of menus & recipes at

This week I am eating out of my pantry/icebox in reference to my previous post on curbing down a bit.  I found some great deals I got a few weeks back hiding in the bottom of the icebox, as well as some hidden favorites in the back of the panty.  Me, being a foodie, I am trying to come up with creative ideas to use what we have and my grocery trip will only be for necessities.  Here is goes....

This week we are having:

  • Turkey Tacos (shhh-don't tell hubs-he's not a fan of ground turkey)/field green salad/fresh fruit
  • Grilled Steak Burgers (thanks mom for the Ohmaha Steaks Gift Card)/deviled eggs/oven fries
  • Omelettes with chicken apple sausage/fresh fruit
  • Grilled Chicken Skewers with Sausage & Pancetta this is a great recipe we have repeated it so many times./Fresh Cut Fruit/Green Beans
  • Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches (I love this concept, done in minutes, and is delicious- and I am controlling the meat, etc.)/fresh cut fruit/chips
  • Chicken & Sausage Gumbo (craft show soup mix)/BEST Cornbread/Field Green Salad
What's on your menu?  Can you try to save some $$ and utilize what's in your icebox/pantry.  My shopping list is minimal this week, a big change....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Few Fall Recipes Worth Sharing

We are right in the middle of Fall now.  Cooler nights and an itch to have some autumn flavors-from tailgating favorites to comfort food.  What's different on your menu these days?  Have you tried to incorporate some of the flavors of fall?  **Post a comment below this week regarding your fall cooking/baking or decorating, and be placed in a drawing for a surprise {blog candy}. Add yourself as a "follower" on the right side, and get an additional chance to win. Be sure to leave your email

Maple-Glazed Chicken Breasts

Oh my goodness was this delicious...I made it last week for the babe and myself for lunch to try it out for last weeks menu.  I found the recipe on fellow blogger-Liz who inturn credited Racheal Ray for the easy, quick recipe. I put my chicken over field greens, for something different and added some candied pecans and chopped apple, and dried cranberries.  I used a blue cheese yogurt salad dressing {light and delish}. What an explosion of flavors in my mouth.

1 lb. chicken tenderloins/breasts, trimmed
2 tsp. Montreal Steak seasoning or nice garlic/pepper rub
flour to dredge
2 T. butter
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup

Lightly coat chicken with seasoning and flour and saute' in butter in a stainless saute' pan (if you have one).  Cook approoximately 6-10 minutes or until done.  Remove breasts and keep warm.  Add syrup to pan, and deglaze bits of seasoning and chicken with your cooking tool.  Cook syrup on medium/low for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add chicken back to pan to reheat and spoon maple sauce over chicken.  Serve chicken with mashed potatoes/ mashed sweet potatoes, or perhaps the lower carb way like me - over field greens. I think next time, I may add a little taste of dijon mustard to the maple in the pan, to get a maple mustard flavor going....
photo courtesy of Vermont Maple Syrup.  These men are "tree-tapping".

I also tried this recipe, CRUNCHY MAPLE CRUSTED CHICKEN, with a crusty flavor of maple...hard toss up, BOTH were GREAT recipes...I liked the crispy recipe a little better, because if I was splurging on the maple syrup, I rather splurge on the crispy coasting from pan fying....YUMMY!!!

Pumpkin Bread
Everyone has their favorite pumpkin bread recipe.  I think the one I use, I have seen a few places or another.  I do substitute half of the oil with one single cup of unsweetened applesauce as a sidenote to the recipe as shown.  I also add melted white chocolate drizzled across and some sweet cinnamon sprinkle {cinnamon flavored cane sugar}
I just love the deep pumpkin spicey flavor, it is always a favorite and always gone in no time.

1 (15oz.) can solid pumpkin
1 cup canola oil (may substitute 1/2 cup with applesauce)
2 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups + 2 T. flour

Cream together first four (4) ingredients.  Add spices, stir well.  Add baking soda, powder, and salt.  Add one cup at a time of the flour, without over-mixing.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake tester comes clean.  Makes 2 large loaves or 6 mini loaves.  Allow to cool on wire rack out of pans for one hour.  When cooled drizzle melted while chocolate and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar sprinkle. **chocolate chips are fabulous added to the batter-toss with a T. of flour so they don't sink to the bottom. So yummy!

One of my all time favorite recipes that seems to make it's way out of my recipe collection at this time of year is my mother's recipe for Southern Pecan Tassies.  They are so yummy, and easy to tote somewhere for a get-together.  These days it seems everyone is looking for an easy way out when it comes to baked goods, but these are tried and true, reminds me of the past.  There are a few different versions out there, but I really think this one is terrific, first of all because it is the one my mama makes, but secondly, the crust is so good, and only takes a minute and homemade is nothing compared to using a pre-made pie crust! It's a soft neutral-flavored crust that is complimented by the sweet, nutty, and chewy inside. Its just a taste of happiness without all the calories of a slice of southern pecan pie [unless you eat a half of dozen].  The dough can be made ahead or used right away as I do.

Makes 4 dozen

1 recipe cream cheese pastry (recipe follows)

2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
powdered sugar

Divide dough using a small scoop and roll each into a ball and place into mini-muffin tins. Mold the dough into each hole, pressing it up the sides. Chill while preparing the filling.
Heat the oven to 325F. Place the eggs, brown sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk together until smooth. Add pecans.  Then with a teaspoon, fill each cup with a bit of the filling, careful not to cover the tops of the edge as it will be hard to remove without breaking, the whole pastry when cooled.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown around the edges.  Let stand 5 minutes. using the tip of a paring knife, run the blade carefully around the edges of the muffin cups to loosen the tassies. When the tassies are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan and set on cooling racks. Sprinkle with powder sugar.

Cream Cheese Pastry

The original recipe suggests you do everything by hand but that's not so fun for me so I modified that and did it in my stand mixer.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/4 tsp salt

Using a stand mixer and the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and thoroughly blended.  Mix in 1 cup of the flour and the salt, working until almost incorporated. Mix in another 1/2 cup flour, working until the flour is almost incorporated. Complete the process by kneading in another 1/2 cup flour. Do not overwork the dough.
Chill for a few hours or up to 3 days.

Are you entertaining a little more these days, attending events where you bring something?  Here are a few favorites to bring to a gathering, share on your buffet or just eat!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Things You Find While Surfing the Blog Highway

Well, as I was getting ready to write my menu for next week, and link up some delicious fall recipes, I came across a blog post from a local south Floridian: Severely Restricted Spending during the month of November.  It is now the 10th of the month.  It has been a tight month due to Hubs injury a few months back since he is in sports as a career, that puts a DAMPER on things-it actually has taken us down a notch which we don't live in any way extravagant, but definitely can be a little more simple.  So-it has been a learning process.  So, this idea of being more conscience is on my list from now until...

So from the freezer to the pantry to the craft closet(s), to the entire purge to clean-out (AGAIN), we are starting TODAY!  No better time than TODAY!  Why wait until Monday....or next month....or...excuse after excuse...I will update as we go along, but consider this one of those posts that my intentions are changing for the moment to reflect on this November cut-back. 

My first attack this week has been my master bedroom.  That means-I am currently going through the closet/every drawer/shoe rack, as well as fixing things in that space I haven't got around to or some other reason...I have done well and I am only on day 2 in there.

On the back burner this summer, I decided I was going to use the THOUSANDS of dollars of craft supply that eat away at my space in my office, I mean my ENTIRE house to incorporate a more meaningful Christmas this year.  I always make a lot of gifts, but this year, I was going to utilize a lot of what I have and really put a push on the "Handmade Christmas" (more to come...).  I know I LOVE LOVE LOVE handmade gifts, than the typical box store pre-wrapped gift, so I wanted to do more this year than I have in the past to bless others where I feel I have a little talent :).

So, here I go.....any thoughts, want to join in? Comment and let me know - accountability helps!

I linked today's post to Work for Me Wednesday's @ We Are That Family

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

see hundreds of recipe and meal plans @

What a great week of meals we had last week.  Our Roasted Turkey Breast was delish and so easy to make!! and those Maple Pretzel Chicken Tenders can you say..."died and gone to heaven..."  and the cornbread recipe was a definite keeper for the near future (suffing recipe),WOW!  I love being a foodie.  My waistline is still strinking which is a good thing.

This week we have a few things going on so we are keeping it simple.  Here is our menu for this week.
  • Chicken Parmesan/pasta/field green salad
  • Breakfast for Dinner (Scrambled Eggs/Bacon/Pancakes)
  • Grilled Morrocan Chicken with Israeli Couscous/mixed vegetables
  • Grilled Hot Dogs (Nitrate-Free)/celray/carrot sticks/chips/Applesauce
  • Grilled Mahi - Mahi Tacos/ Carribean Rice (brown rice made with water/pineapple juice-flakes of coconut)/ Black Beans 
Lot's of grilled options.  Our weather has been fantastic here in South Florida.  Enjoy your week - what are you having for dinner?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Candy Taking Over....10 Tips on Getting Rid of It.

Leftover Halloween Candy Taking Over Your Home? 10 Ways to Get Rid of It.

There is a bowl of Halloween candy that we have aquired from various stops through October.  It now sits and stares at me {struggle}, and the questions and whining haven't stopped-"Can I have a piece of candy?"  We allowed the big boy to pick out his 20 most favorite items and bag it up.  He is allowed to have one piece a day in conjunction with his school behavior [which warrents a piece each day since he is the "golden boy"].  I don't have a problem with that as I want him to enjoy all the fun he had getting it from the farm, fall festival and a few houses on Halloween night.  However, the rest of it must go...Many parents have this same dilemma.  So here are a few ideas on how to deal with leftover Halloween candy.
  • Save it for making a gingerbread house for Christmas.  Our family makes a gingerbread house in early December each year, using Halloween candies for decoration.  Our gingerbread house each year is just for decoration.  Quite frankly, after it has been sitting out for a few weeks gathering dust, no one thinks of eating it.  You could make several gingerbread houses and use them for gifts.
  • Allow your children the option of trading in their candy for small toys or stickers from the dollar store.  Set a "price" for each item in pieces of candy.  For example your child can "buy" a sheet of stickers for 10 pieces of candy.
  • Participate in the Halloween Candy Buy Back.  Participating dentists purchase Halloween candy from children for $1 a pound and then send it to soldiers stationed overseas.  This would be a nice way to  bring a bit of joy to a soldier serving our country.
  • You can also send it to troops overseas through Operation Shoebox.
  • Donate it to a local homeless shelter, Red Cross emergency shelter, women's shelter, or nursing home.  Some may accept candy for their staff, or to pass out to their residents.  Be sure to call first to check.   This could be a great way to encourage your children to think of others.
  • Send it in to your child's class for their reward jar. While I don't agree with the policy, some teacher's think candy is great for a reward jar.  By donating leftover Halloween candy to their classroom, at least it saves the teacher from having to buy it out of their own pocket.
  • Turn leftover Halloween candy into a fun learning activity. Visit Candy Exeriments for all sorts of fun ways to turn the leftovers into a learning experience for your kids.
  • Encourage creativity in your kids and use the candy for crafts.   Allow the kids to create mosaics from the non-melting candy.  Provide a few basic craft supplies and some glue then let your kids go nuts.
  • Freeze some of the chocolate candy and use it throughout the year to jazz up cookies and other baking..
  • Send it into the office with a parent.  It will disappear quickly!
I have a few recipes in the near future that I will bag some up and save for, but as for our's time to say good bye.

Monday, November 1, 2010

- Free Fall Favorites Cookbook from Gooseberry Patch -

Free Cookbook from Gooseberry Patch - click the link for your Fall Favorites from Gooseberry Patch!

Menu Plan Monday

linked up with and hundreds of other menu plans

Happy November!- Can you believe we are here?  As the fall draws closer, I love having more fall-ish menu plan ideas than the same ol- same ol.  This week I will incorporate a few more comfort food items (according to my crew).  I am still plugging away at shedding some pounds so I eat all protein over veggies or a salad.  I am down 36 lbs, and would like to keep the momentum through the next month, since Thanksgiving is only one day....LOL! This week I will be uploading some terrific fall recipes, other than the APPLE WEEK & PUMPKIN WEEK of recipes.  What a fabulous time to get in your kitchen and feel all warm and cozy.  I also have a guest post this month on " Keeping Your Home Organized when the Holiday's are Around the Corner".  So link up as a follower through Facebook or through Google (to the right) so you won't miss the upcoming recipes, crafts, food gifts to give from your kitchen segment, 12 days of cookies, and much more through the next few weeks. I will also be hosting a giveaway this month from two great home businesses - The Pampered Chef and Willow House, so be sure to follow so you can jump on when the contests begin (hint**one will be next week) Enjoy...

Here is my plan for this week:

  • Chicken Parmesan/green beans/sliced fruit/garlic bread
  • Grilled Mahi Mahi and Shrimp over a Cesaer Salad, (kid's will have pasta with the fish)
  • Crust -less Spinach/Feta Quiche Pie (on last week's menu, but we ended up going out and it didn't make it to the table)
  • Autumn Stuffed Pork Chops (recipe below - from FoodTV-Quick Meals by Robin Miller)/mashed potatoes/applesauce (easy homemade)
  • Maple Roasted Chicken Tenders/corn on the cob/fresh fruit/California Corn Bread-recipe below
  • Roasted Turkey Breast w/gravy/roasted potatoes/green beans (I'm practicing my turkey basting recipe for Thanksgiving)

Autumn Stuffed Pork Chops


  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 leeks, white part only, rinsed and chopped (I use sweet onion or whatever I have on hand)
  • 1 McIntosh or Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups unseasoned bread cubes (or cut up day-old bread)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or enough to moisten bread
  • 4 (5-ounce) boneless pork chops, about 1-inch thick, trimmed of fat


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leek and apple and saute 4 minutes, until tender and golden. Add oregano, rosemary, and salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to coat. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add bread cubes and chicken broth. Mix well and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, slice pockets into chops by slicing horizontally into the side, and almost through to the other side. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Stuff chops with apple mixture, allowing stuffing to overflow out of pockets.
Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and sear on 1 side until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip chops and transfer to oven to finish cooking for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through.

I am trying out a few cornbread recipes over the next weeks to see which one I want to give as gifts for Christmas! Here is my first one to try, it is a cake-like style cornbread...

California Corn Bread

2 cups of baking mix (Bisquick)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBLS. baking powder
Add to mix:
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix together dry ingredients.  Add eggs, milk, and butter.  Place in a 350 degree pre-heated oven in an 8" square pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.  I may put mine in a cupcake pan, and add a little chedder cheese to the ingredients.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Recipes Week - Day 4

2 Different Pumpkin Pie Harvest Dips

These dips are sooo yummy.  You know the kind that once you start you cannot stop...move away from the buffet table kind...Yes! this is it...It is an easy recipe to whip up to bring somewhere, and can be made ahead.  I couldn't decide which one so I listed both. Try them back and let me know which one you like.

1 pkg. (8oz) cream cheese, soft
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. vanilla extract
red and green apple slices, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers or shortbread, celery sticks

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.  Stir in sour cream and pumpkin puree and spices.  Refrigerate for a few hours to incorporate flavors before serving.  Serve with fruit, cookies or celery.  Delicious!!


1 can pumpkin puree
2 jars marshmallow cream
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
grated orange zest from 1 orange
Serve with gingersnaps or plain sugar cookies

Pumpkin Recipes-Day 3

Pumpkin - Pecorino Gratin    a.k.a.  savory pumpkin cheese casserole

This recipe is delicious and one of "Martha's".  It has become a favorite at our house.  Savory.  Different.  And just plain good!

  • 2 slices white sandwich bread
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 cups Sugar-Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine bread and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and pulse until large crumbs form.
  2. Season sugar-pumpkin puree with salt and pepper; spoon into a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with crumb mixture, and dot with butter. Bake until crumbs are browned, 15 to 20 minut
  3. NOTE-you can use any pumpkin puree for the listed ingredient

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Recipes Week-Day 2

Pumpkin-Maple Cream Trifle

**Maple Walnuts (or Pecans)
1 box (14.4oz) whole graham crackers (5"x2")
1/2 cup plus 3 T. pure maple syrup, (do not use maple flavored pancake syrup)
1 pkg. (3.4oz) cheesecake or vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup milk
1 can (15oz) solid pack pumpkin
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie spice (Pampered Chef's Cinnamon Plus)
1 (12oz) container frozen whipped topping, divided or 12 oz. of whipping cream-whipped

Prepare Maple walnuts, if desired.  Coarsely break graham crackers into large mixing bowl  Place 1/2 cup of the maple syrup in a small bowl and microwave for 60-90 seconds, pour hot syrup over crackers, toss to coat and set aside.

Fro pumpkin filling, combine pudding mix and milk in separate mixing bowl; whisk until mixture becomes thick.  Add pumpkin, and spice blend to pudding.  Fold 2 cups of the whipped topping into pudding mixture and set aside.

For maple cream, combine remaining 3 T. maple syrup and remaining whipped topping in separate mixing bowl and fold gently.  Fill zip bag with 2/3 cup of the maple cream and set aside in refrigerator for garnish.

To assemble trifle, place one-third of the graham mixture over bottom of trifle bowl or large-sided glass bowl/dish.  Top with half of the pumpkin filling, spreading to edges.  Top with another third of the graham cracker mixture.  Top with remaining maple cream, spreading to edges.  Top with remaining graham cracker mixture and pumpkin filling.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Garnish with Maple Walnuts.  If desired, use zip bag and pipe puffs of maple cream around top and garnish with walnuts over cream.  Sprinkle additional spice lightly over top.

**Maple Walnuts (I used pecans I had on hand)
Combine 2 T. butter and 3 T. pure maple syrup in saute' pan.  Stir over medium heat until butter is melted.  Add 1 cup walnut halves and cook, stirring constantly, 5-7 minutes or until walnuts are evenly browned.  Spread walnuts in a single layer on wax paper to cool completely.

Enjoy this is so yummy, so comforting, and a great dish to bring to a fall gathering.
**recipe courtesy of The Pampered Chef, Ltd.