Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yes, It's Been A While

Your right! It's been a while.  I have not forgot about my beloved blog here.  I just need to take a summer break, get caught up, vacation with the love of my life, start school with my kiddos, and start a brand new job after staying home with my kiddos for almost seven, yes, seven years!  WOW!

I am indebted to my hubs forever, for the most AMAZING career anyone could have...being a mom-at home!  Then last year my son's school approached me in regards to working (teaching) at his elementary school.  I pondered, prayed, prayed some more...and definitely heard the calling to go back to work.  How could I say no to working at the best kept secret in town doing something I missed all these past years and while I was climbing the corporate ladder at another school in the administration department.  I missed the little children, I missed the creativity, and I missed the opportunity of being what I always wanted to do in life- making a change in today's kids! 

Well, this post isn't about my new super fantastic amazing job today, it's about letting you know that I am back to my blog.  Thank you for being patient, and allowing me to take some time off to get sorted out.

What you can expect in the coming weeks:
  • Football Food - Football Season is back-and tailgating is never hotter than now....
  • Weekly Menus/Recipes
  • Fall Favorites (apples, pumpkin, and more)
  • Getting Your Holiday Craft On
Until then....
Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Christmas in July

If your like me you are astounded when walking in some of the retail stores now and seeing fall and winter holiday items all ready being pushed.  I guess I am not saying I am surprised since each season seems to make it's way a little earlier each year for retailers to benefit off of it.  I like shopping early for some things, but June/July is a tad bit early-I want to think about jumping in the pool or heading to the beach in summer, not how I am going to prepare my Thanksgiving Turkey or decorate my house to celebrate Christmas.  With crafting I get it, since I love to craft, I do know you have to start early to get the products you need and to give yourself time to prepare, and produce the crafts-especially if you participate in the craft shows and fairs in the fall season for the upcoming holiday season.

I do have to admit, I, too am offering a Christmas in July Sale with my Pampered Chef business, but not to be confused with pushing decorations that some people feel necessary buying now for Christmas, just using the whole Christmas in July as a good reason to host a Sale, and offer my customers a discount and free items with purchase

So, back to the crafting segment of Christmas in July - last season I got started a little late due to our home being for sale and the preparation, but  here are some of the projects I worked on- here and here.  Nothing too over the top or life changing, but a  few ideas of some of the things I was able to post here on my blog. 

One of my favorite sites is Tip Junkie (if you don't subscribe-try it-it's free).  I love the site because it is almost my go-to site for everything besides Google, I look to the site from gardening to homemade solutions, to crafts, food, DIYing, exercise,party ideas, free printables, thrifty finds, organizing, and decor, this site covers EVERYTHING you can think of and has advice and ideas from the many talented women and men of this Internet world-they even have an app for your phone now too!  Right now I am participating in a weekly challenge of dating my spouse.  I  think we do a great job and stay pretty on top of it, but this has allowed me to gain some more ideas and knowledge to keep that flame flickering hard-so as I said they cover EVERYTHING, (no I am not getting paid for this solicitation for Tip Junkie, but just go there- you'll be addicted.) 

The site has a GREAT Christmas in July Party going on with HUNDREDS of ideas, from food to crafts, to decor and much much more.  I am liking the gathering stage right now for my upcoming crafts, projects, and recipes I would like to try.  I am dog-earing pages of craft mags, tearing out pics, and saving ideas I would like to do.  I never complete half of what I would like.  But I love giving things from the heart, and crafting allows me to cover most everyone I like to bless during the holidays.  I don't want to give too many secrets away as I will post them as they are ready, hopefully sooner than too much later in the fall when you feel you have run out of time to try some ideas. 

SOOOOOOO----PLEASE-PLEASE comment below and let me know if you are working on any upcoming holiday projects for the fall or winter holidays that you celebrate (crafts, paper crafts, DIYing, decor or recipes.)  I would love to hear of any you are working on or link back to your site if you host a blog or website.

So, on that note - Merry Christmas! 
May you not forget why we celebrate the season, whether it be in December or July <><!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Avoid Being Burned...Check the Date

Does sunscreen go bad?  According to Mayo Clinic most bottles have a three year shelf life.  I always thought I needed to throw mine away and start fresh each swimsuit season, what about you?  That's a sure savings if you go through sunscreen as much as my family does and then toss the leftover bottles at the end of swim season.  I buy all sorts face, stick, spray and rub-on varieties. I am not usually brand-marked either. I go for the water/sweat proof varieties and those made specifically for the face.

So, if you were wondering if your sunblock is still working for you and doesn't have an expiration date on it (and it's not soupy, gloppy, and have an unpleasant odor), go for it!

What is your favorite type of sunscreen?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Has Started!

The fun is here - "no more school, no more books, no more teacher dirty looks...", is this what you used to say when school was over for the summer?  Summer has officially started at my house and we are living it up each day!  The days have been longer and the nights are shorter with the cusp of summer here.  We have a long list of all the fun things we have talked that we might want to act on this summer among relaxing and catching our breath from the schedules, practices, and activities that keep us busy the rest of the year.  We have already taken a much needed break from "life" and cruised out of town for a week as soon as school let out last month.  We are back now- and starting to enjoy all that the Summer of 2011 has in store for us here in our neighborhood and area.  With the beach a mile away, a backyard pool, lots of water play parks and fun activities all around town- libraries, schoolhouse museums, zoo, and with our friends, this will be a F*U*N summer for my boys to remember!
What are you doing this summer with your family? or perhaps for yourself? 

During spring we look to a "renewing" time of our lives, summer is a "letting go" time for me.  Not as structured, lots of fun + relaxation = SUMMER!

When I think of summers past it gets me a little sentimental.  I think of the summer days spent at the public  pool, bike rides after dinner with several families in tow down to the local ice cream shop, beach trips, unmade beds, non stop sprinklers and running through them, playing in the street with the neighborhood kids until the sun went down, sleepovers in the backyard, VBS, the smell of bug spray and sunscreen, boating, arts n crafts, cold-drinks, homemade popsicles, countless trips to the library for story time and summer reading programs, living in a bathing suit, camp, youth trips, vacations with our family, and vacations from our family....the list could go on and on...

This summer I would like to accomplish some new recipes (cool and fresh)-something about eating lighter while it is so warm out, finish unpacking, get caught up some much needed home organization, finish some craft projects and start some new ones, and most of all spend some quality time with my family and extended family that we don't have during season!

What does summer remind you of?

What are you doing?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday -

uploaded to http://www.orgjunkie.com/ with hundreds of menus!

As some of you know I recently moved in the last 6 weeks, so from being in one place for over 10 years, the accumulation of cookbooks, the tried and true recipe box, recipe cut-outs, online recipes, etc... have taken over a small bit of my kitchen and office.  This week I pulled several tried and true recipes out for my dinner menu that have been lost (not really just piled somewhere).  With school almost over, and the tennis season for my husband coming to a close we will be sharing more dinners all together around our table. {big smile}!!

Here is my menu plan for the week.  I am looking forward to some old favorites - made new!

Roasted Green Beans -

1-2 lbs. Fresh Green Beans
Olive Oil
Sea Salt/Pepper
Sour Cream

I followed the directions as Jessica made them on the link above.  They are delicious.  I really like those Fired Green Beans that are popping up on restaurant menus lately.  This is a great healthy alternative, super easy too.  I made a simple horseradish sauce for dipping.  1 heaping tablespoon of horseradish and a 1/4 cup of sour cream.  This is definitely going to be on my menu again and again.

Hawaiian Turkey Sliders

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
teriyaki sauce
fresh slice pineapple
Monteray Jack cheese

Combine turkey, egg, bread crumbs, and spices.  Divide into 8 small patties.  Grill one side, then after you flip, add terriyaki sauce, pinapple slice and cheese.  Grill until burger is completely cooked.  Serve on Hawaiian sweet mini rolls (deli dept.).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Evening Wedding Cupcakes/ Toppers

This week a friend got married.  A few of us pulled together a cupcake bar in lieu of a formal wedding cake.  The bride and groom are young and were going the route of simple and what's in style.  I was so excited to help.

I was inspired by this flavor combination...
Who makes these flavors up?  So delicious.  I made these cupcakes for a scrapbook retreat a few months back and they turned out outrageous.  I thought they would be great for a spring wedding.  So I made fresh tasting lemon cupcakes (white cake mix as directed using these additions -> (made with milk instead of water) + zest of two lemons + lemon extract or pure lemon essential food grade oil +  1 box vanilla or lemon instant pudding (dry)).  Bake as directed, then cool completely.  I then filled the cupcakes with red raspberry preserves.  I used my classic butter cream frosting with zest of two lemons added + 1 tsp. vanilla &  1 tsp. lemon extracts.  To put these cupcakes over the top, I added pale yellow sugar dusting the top and pieces of this amazing chocolate bar (shown above) in each cupcake.  I just know they will be great for this beautiful occasion!

The toppers were made using Stampin' Up punches.  The scallop punch for the designer paper, the solid color is from a 1 3/8" circle punch, and the photos/dates were punched with a 1 1/4" circle punch for a great layered effect.  These will be used for the other cupcakes and other hor'duerves that will be served.  Toppers make food personalized and so much fun!

What are your favorite flavor combinations you enjoy in a cupcake??  Comment below!

**CHOXIE brand candy is by Target.  Located in the regular candy aisle :)

Uploaded to Sunday Showcase, Something Swanky, and Tatertots & Jello Weekend Wrap-Up!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chicken Salad - that petite, dainty flavorful addition to any spring or summer menu!

Let me just begin that I am TOTALLY in LOVE with chicken salad.  I don't want to say it doesn't matter what kind, because for me...it does matter.  I love that chunky, stuffed chicken salad that you get filled with goodies of all kinds, and I even love the big chunky plain-jane kind too.  Just not the smooshed pasty - flavorless variety.   Chicken salad isn't just for bridal or baby showers, it's for any day you want that refreshing taste of something light.  I am thinking about it right now as the thermometer is climbing in my beachy area.  Most chicken salad varieties are very similar with the same type of ingredients.  I don't buy Miracle Whip, but I know that sweetens chicken salad up, many varieties add fruit, and nuts too.  I suppose if you just like it plain that's okay too.

I have several go-to recipes I enjoy, so it is so hard to choose which one to share - so I will share a few that have adorned my table or I have brought somewhere to share.

The first is my adapted version from the Palm Beach Junior League Cookbook - "Worth Tasting".  I love being southern, and having some of those elements in the salad.

Chicken Salad
serves 6

4 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
3/4 cup celery, sliced
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
light mayonnaise, enough just to fold together ingredients. 

Combine ingredients as listed.  Place in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.  Serve over mixed greens, on a croissant, or on table water crackers.


The next version come from a good friend, Christina.  This chicken salad has appeared at many of our "mommy" functions, it is so addicting and so delicious.  If you don't like curry, just add a little.  It gives this dish a whole new flavor, so unexpected, you'll wonder why you never amped it up before!

Curried Chicken Salad

4 Cups Finely Chopped Cooked Chicken
3 (8 Oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¾  Cup dried cranberries, chopped
½  Cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
6 green onions, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
½  teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Stir together all ingredients.  It is best if made a few hours before hand to let
the flavors develop.  Serve on sandwich bread, croissants, or just plain.


A family favorite from a dear friend, Amy Johnson.  This is a great church potluck.

Baked Chicken Salad

2 cups cooked chicken, cut up
2 cups sliced celery
1 cup seasoned croutons (I like the cheese garlic variety from the produce area)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup mayonnaise
2 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. instant onions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup potato chips, crushed

Mix first 8 ingredients.  Place in 8" square pan and top with cheese and chips and bake @ 450 10-15 minutes until bubbly.  I like to serve with plain water crackers.


My last recipe is simple, from one of our favorite familiar faces  - Paula Deen

Hawaiian Chicken Salad

4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (4 large breast or 2 cans)
2 cups diced celery
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sliced almonds
1-20oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 pound seedless grapes, cut in half

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, celery, mayonnaise, and almonds, and mix well. Gently fold in the pineapple and grapes.

Serves 8-10

How do you make chicken salad? 

How do you serve it? 

When do you eat it? 

Hopefully all the time.  Don't keep these recipes locked up for special events.

Cooks Tip:  Costco makes an INCREDIBLE chicken salad.  Made with their rotisserie chicken.  I have been know to get it many times.  I stretch it for events by pulsing it in my processor to thin it out a little, but keep some of those chunks, that's what folks will be talking about after the party is over.


Menu Plan Monday

It's that time of the week already.  My menu plan is down, shopping done, let the cooking begin!  If you haven't planned dinner for tonight - expect delays at 6 PM, whining & crying children, low-blood-sugar husband, and a lot of FRUSTRATION!!  Do I hear an AMEN!!  Get planning now before it will cost you all of the above, and extra money!
  • Soft Beef Tacos, Fresh Sliced Strawberries, Fresh Corn on the Cob
  • Sauteed Mahi-Mahi (Asian Style), Brown Rice, Mixed Greens, Fresh Fruit
  • Breakfast for Dinner - Scrambled Eggs, Brown-Sugar Bacon Smokies, Fresh Fruit Smoothies
  • Clean-Out-The-Freezer Night - Frozen Flatbread Pizza, Turkey Hotdogs, Caesar Salad, Apple Sauce
  •  Lemoney Chicken Cutlets- Picatta Style, Penne Pasta, Green Beans, Fresh Fruit
Need some ideas? Check out hundreds of menus @ www.orgjunkie.com

Monday, May 2, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It's been a looonnngg while since I posted, almost a month.  However, I was fasting from the computer world other than work during the Easter season to focus more on what I believe, what I hold true to my life, and to give me time in the things that I needed to do this past month.  I also MOVED! yes, picked up a whole household, and moved 11/2 miles away.  We sold our home, wanted something a little bigger for our family.  So, here I am, about a month later and FINALLY cooking in our new place.  I am still staying a little simple as spring is here and we like it a little lighter since it is so hot out already in south FL, and I am STILL unpacking, so simple is good!  I picked a few southwest meals this week in honor of Cinco de Mayo since we love Mexican food here at hour home.  Here's whats on the menu this week! 

  • Taco Salad - Beef for Hubs & the kids, Meatless for me - I'm going to have black beans this time!
  • Southwest Roasted Chicken Breasts/Mashed Potatoes/Green Beans-roasted squash/Fresh Fruit
  • Chicken  Quesadillas (left over roasted chicken), chips/salsa corn on the cob, fresh fruit
  • Breakfast for dinner (bacon, eggs, cinnamon rolls), fresh fruit smoothies
  • Grilled Turkey Hot Dogs, chips/dip, fresh fruit, mixed green salad
What's on your menu this week?  Are you celebrating anything exciting?

I am helping make cupcakes for a wedding this month, so I am doing a trial run with a carrot cake cupcake/cream cheese frosting.  I will post recipe/pics when I make them this week!


Salsa al Fresco a.k.a Fresh Salsa
2 containers grape tomatoes, chopped                                                 
1 medium onion, diced                                 
1 jalapeno, finely diced                                                                             
1 bunch fresh cilantro, rough chop         
1 lime, juice squeezed                                                                              
1 tsp. sea salt                                                                
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed/finely chopped
Combine all ingredients together, and finely chop or pulse in food processor.  Squeeze lime and sea salt over top, mix and serve with tortilla chips or in your favorite Latin recipes.
Taco Salad
Cook’s Tip: Adjust ingredients based on how many you will be serving.
Romaine Lettuce, torn/shredded                                                           
 1 lb. ground beef/poultry/pork                                 
1 pkg. taco seasoning                                                                                  
 1 onion, chopped                                                         
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 can sliced black olives, optional                          
1 can black beans, drained                                                                                    
1 can corn, drained or frozen                                                    
Sour Cream                                                                                                
Avocado or Guacamole                                                               
Tortilla Chips                                                                      
Arrange lettuce on bottom of platter.  Layer ingredients ending with cheese.  Top with sour cream, guacamole, and your favorite salsa.  Serve with tortilla chips.
Easy Guacamole
2 ripe avocados                                  
sea salt                                 
½ cup sour cream                                                             
2 Tbls. Salsa                                               
juice from 2 limes, zest optional          
Mix ingredients together well.  Cover with plastic wrap touching dip so it does not oxidize.  Serve with chips.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

White Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

If you know me personally you know I have taken into the art of the gourmet cupcakes.  An area of the kitchen (baking), I really don't fancy as a favorite (I hate the mess and tons of dishes).  So the picture isn't the greatest, but if you could taste them you would never mind.  My littliest loves anything orange, and well- white chocolate just seemed like a great pairing to the fresh orange flavor of these birthday cupcakes we served for his 2nd birthday.  A far cry from the a-typical store-bought-artificial-flavor I don't really like and I am tiring of paying for the conveinence, this is why I started to "create" something just a little more special for such a momentous occasion.  Enjoy! 

These are so easy try them!

1 bag of orange slice gum-drop type candy
1 white cake mix + ingredients to prepare
1 box of instant white chocolate pudding
2 oranges, zested
Orange Extract
Recipe for Classic Butter Cream
Quality White Chocolate Candy Bar (I like Lindt)
Clear Decorator Sugar

Prepare the white cake mix as directed and add pudding mix, zest of one orange, and 1 teaspoon of orange extract (or more for stronger taste) - (taste the batter :) ).  Place batter in cupcake liners about half to two thirds full (this makes a nice flat topped cupcake for frosting).  Bake as directed.  Remove cupcakes onto a  rack until completely cool.  Meanwhile, prepare Classic Butter Cream recipe and add zest of one orange, and additional orange extract to your taste.  It's okay to taste as you go, especially with the butter cream - this is what will make or break a great frosting.  Place frosting in a decorator bag with a tip or in a large zip bag and clip corner.  Frost a swirl on the top of each cupcake.  Take a vegetable peeler and "peel" the side of the chocolate bar to get swirls of chocolate.  Add to top of cupcake along with a little decorator sugar-top with an orange slice.  And there you have one terrific-well-loved cupcake.  Perfect for a spring or summer events.  Great with lemon or lime as well!  With all the great little bulk candy areas at Super Target or the mall you can be sure to find something fun to top the cupcake off with-


linked up at

Creating Tasty Dishes

sidenote-love the expression on this dude-I'm thinking he is hungry, wants to eat TASTY food, but the ad clearly states he really wants pizza.

There's nothing more disappointing than making a new recipe or dish and tasting it only for it to be blah, tasteless, and boring.  Then you are finding yourself setting your fork down to go look for a condiment in your fridge to help it...have you been there?  This usually applies to "homemade" food vs. the box.  "The box" has so much sodium as a preservative that most of it taste okay (if you like those kind of things).  I am not knocking "the box" at all if they work for you, but I am zeroing in on tasteless bland food when you have prepared a homemade meal. 

I have blogged several times in my Menu Plan Mondays' about how to flavor foods for different meals using a basic formula (protein + vegetable + grain/pasta) + theme/spice.  Recently I have stumbled up this article and found it to be helpful for those that may be challenged in the creating area in their kitchen.  I hope it inspires you as it does me to try new flavors in your kitchen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time of the week again.  I just got back from the farmers market and I am so excited to make some unbelievable meals for the week.
Here is what is cooking in our kitchen this week:

  • Southwestern Grilled Chicken Tostatas, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Salsa
  • Vegetable Barley Soup with Whole Wheat Lavish Bread w/ Hummus, Fresh Fruit (Meatless Monday)
  • Breakfast for Dinner (Eggs, Turkey Sausage), Fruit Smoothies
  • New York Strip Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
  • Turkey Hotdogs, Corn, Sliced Apples with Cinnamon Sugar
I made some delicious vegan vegetable barley soup and fresh mango salsa today. See the recipes below.

Vegan Vegetable Barley Soup

2 stalks celery, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 cup of diced carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pearl barley
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of corn kernels
1/2 cup of peas
2 cartons of vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
olive oil

Saute' on medium heat celery, onion, carrots, and garlic in olive oil in oversized skillet or dutch oven for 5 minutes.  Add barley and toast in skillet for 2-3 minutes.  Add bay leaf and broth, stir.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  Add tomatoes, peas and corn and cover for 30 minutes on simmer.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Season to taste. Enjoy!
**This can be made in a crock pot.

Fresh Mango Salsa

1 mango, diced
2 ripe tomatoes
1 small sweet onion
1 jalepeno, seeds/vine discarded
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
sea salt
fresh lime juice

I LOVE my manual food processor.  I pop all the ingredients (except Mango) in and pump away to the desired consistency that you like.  I like mine super fine like my favorite salsa from Chili's restaurant, and this manual food processor does the job. 

Check out Pampered Chef's new MANUAL FOOD PROCESSOR ,compact and perfect for this fresh salsa treat.  I have used my processor also for chicken salad, and fresh strawberry ice just this past weekend. 

Have a GREAT week! Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy - Summer's around the corner!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

linked up with hundreds of menus @ http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Spring and Summer all in one has sprung here in South Florida.  I am thinking grilling as much as possible this week.  I am knee deep in boxes and packing...dinner's have been working out, and my freezer and pantry are looking a little less cluttered since I planned on making meals out of them for a few weeks to lighten the load.

Last week I posted a recipe on Chicken Tortilla Soup, oh.... it was so good.  I shared with a few friends, and kept a few servings in my freezer for a quick lunch.  I got a little crazy with the chipoltles in adobo sauce, they seemed small, so I added two...next time, I will keep to the recipe.  The heat was good, but a little too hot for the family, and needed a dollop of sour cream to take the edge off.  Delicious though~

  • Grilled Chicken Tenderloin Cobb Salad, Fresh Fruit
  • Panko Crusted Baked Boneless Pork Chops, Roasted Red Skins, Fresh Fruit
  • Freezer Clean Out (misc. convenience items), Fresh Fruit
  • NY Strip Steaks, Israeli Couscous, Green Beans, Fresh Fruit
  • Breakfast for Dinner (Eggs, Turkey Sausage Patties, Fresh Fruit)
What are you making this week?  What's in your pantry? Freezer?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Spring is here!  What does that mean...for me- cleaning out the pantry and freezer for various reasons.  Here is my plan for this week so I am not caught off guard.  Since we are moving in the next three weeks or so, I am picking meals that we can use up pantry items and freezer items - less to pack is my method.....

  • Panko Chicken Fingers, Roasted Red Skin Potatoes, Green Beans with Garlic
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup, Quesadillas, Corn (recipe following)
  • Stir-Fried Pork with Green Beans, Brown Rice (recipe following)
  • Roasted Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
  • Freezer Clean-Out (misc. bags of conveinence foods), Fresh Fruit Bowl
Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted from Food Network Kitchen Easy Cookbook)

2 Tbls. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 chipotle chile en adobo, minced
1 Tbls. chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
1 cup corn kernals, fresh or frozen
1 ripe tomato
1 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh squeezed limes juice (2 limes)
corn tortillas chips/lime wedges (optional)

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, chipolte, chili powder, and salt, cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil, bring down and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add corn and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Pull the saucepan from the heat and stir in the tomatoes, chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.  Serve and top with chips/lime juice.  This is a fast and easy recipe!

Quesadillas - easy, quick, and served as a side with soup

1 flour tortilla per person
Cheddar/Jack or Mexican blend cheese
Queso Blanco (white latin cheese)-optional
Southwestern seasoning
Salsa/Sour Cream

Layer ingredients on one side of tortilla.  Fold over tortilla and press down.  Grill, oven bake or pan fry the quesadilla until desired done-ness or until cheese is melted.

Stir-Fried Pork- stir-fries can take a few extra steps, but worth the time with all the flavors.  If you have your ingredients prepped you can be sitting down to dinner in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.  Chicken and Shrimp could be substituted, however, the pork stays jucier.

1 lb. pork tenderloin, cubed
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and greens separate)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 T soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. sherry
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
5 T. peanut oil
1 lb. sugar snap peas or green beans
Kosher Salt
fresh ground pepper
1 T. Hoisin Sauce
hot cooked brown rice/Jasmine rice

Toss the pork with the scallion whites, half the garlic, half the ginger, the soy sauce, sugar, 1 tsp. of the corn starch, the sherry, and the sesame oil.  Marinate at  room temperature for 15 minutes.  Mix the remaining 1 tsp. of cornstarch with 2 T. water.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add 1 T. of the peanut oil and heat.  Add the beans and the remaining garlic and ginger; stir-fry until the beans are crisp, but stay bright green.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour into a large bowl.

Heat the skillet over high heat again and add 2 more tablespoons oil.  Add haf the pork mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir-fry until lightly brown, about 2 minutes.  Add the first atch of pork to the beans.  Repeat with the rest of the oil and pork.  Return the beans and pork to the pan.  Add the hoisin and the cornstarch mixture.  Cook until the juices thicken, about 1 minute.  Mound the stir-fry on a serving platter or divide onto 4-6 plates.  Scatter the green onions over top and serve with hot rice.  Yummy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fruit...In A Different Sort of Way...

My family eats fruit everyday, I am hoping yours does too.  It's light, nourishing, and GOOD for you!
We shop at the local farmers markets, which living in South Florida are open year round.  Some days we are able to freshly pick fruit and vegetables at one of our favorites U-Picks....here.  We also snack on dried fruits and grains (don't kid yourself we are also snacking on those "Dirty Potato Chips" too), but over all we love fruit and seem to grab that first above anything.  Here are some of the ways we use fresh fruit:
  • Homemade Fruit Salsas (with chips or over chicken/seafood)
  • in desserts like the easiest one of all - Jiffy Cobbler (recipe to follow)
  • Smoothies - my bullet blender works two to three times a day
  • just cut up plain!
Another easy way to consume fruit is freeze dried.  My kids go crazy for this...unfortunately buying in small packs at the grocery markets or specialty stores is quite costly, even at the wholesale stores-and you tend to be limited on what you get, often times getting stuck if your kid doesn't like the variety (this hasn't happened for us though-thank goodness).  But to make this email shorter, the punchline is there are some GREAT companies that cater to bulk freeze dried foods and FRUITS.  Some of our favorites are HONEYVILLE and SHELF RELIANCE.  Some of my girlfriends get together, make a LARGE order.  Mix and Match, and we put into canning jars to keep the freshness for later use.  We use a FOOD SAVER machine that has a canning attachment to take the air out.  VERY COOL!  However, you can purchase and use as needed.  The fruit and veggies I order are great snacks for on the run, are always available and delicious.  Kids love them, and you can use them in recipes dried or by plumping them back up with water.
We are set with snacks for a few months here.  Notice that we have dried peas and corn too, they are DELICIOUS to snack on and you don't even notice your eating vegetables- a great alternative to croutons in a salad and still get the crunch.  Sometimes we add seasoning to them too.  Anyhow, I wanted to share something that works for our family, something that is cost effective for snacking, and HEALTHY!  If you've ever enjoyed those crisp apples chips or dried strawberries and bananas in salads at places like Panara freeze dried is what they are using. Crisp and delicious. 

How does your family eat fruit?

Jiffy Cobbler (SOOOO Delicious-SOOOO Easy)

1 -9 oz. box of yellow/white cake mix (or 1/2 of a large one)
1/2 to 1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 can of fruit pie filling or what I do... (4 cups of cut fruit simmered down with a little sweetener of your choice)

In a pie plate or baking dish add your fruit.  In a separate bowl mix your melted butter, pecans, and cake mix until crumbly.  Top the fruit and bake @ 350 for 45-55 minutes. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Back to a normal week, no trips planned for a little while, and dinner will be on the table this week.
Here is what we will be having.

  • Grilled Mahi Mahi, Sauteed Zucchini and Onions, Fresh Fruit
  • Mama's Beef Brisket, Roasted Carrots/Onions, Mashed Potatoes (recipe following-slow cooker)
  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Flatbreads/Fresh Fruit
  • Chicken Cutlets with Buttermilk Biscuits, Green Beans
  • Grilled  Angus Hotdogs, Corn, Fresh Fruit, Pasta Salad
Mama's Cowboy Beef Brisket

1 medium beef brisket , trimmed, but with some fat left
2 large onion, thick sliced
6 garlic cloves
3-4 carrots/potatoes, thick sliced  
1 bottle of Chili Sauce 

Place brisket in slow cooker.  Slice onions thick and place on top of brisket.  Add all garlic, minced over top.  Pour Chili sauce over and fill bottle half way with water and shake rest out over meat.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  Last hour add potatoes and carrots if you would like or cook on stove.  **Taste better second day- I like to make at night, then cool-reheat for the next day.  May need to thicken juices for gravy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

WINNER WINNER Chicken Dinner!

True Random Number Generator 5 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Christie is the WINNER!  She said....
My sweet hubby and I went to famous dave's and shared this ginormous feast of BBQ! It was nice having the evening together, even if it was low key.

Christie: If you will contact me at cookwithbarb@aol.com with your address and info.  I will mail that out to you right away!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bowling Party Design

This year 1st boy wanted to celebrate at the Bowling Alley.  What a fun theme to work with for a "boy" party.  But, if you have a boy you know all the foo-foo isn't necessary so I tried to take it down a notch...

We started with delicious sugar cookies decorated and personalized for each child attending instead of the typical waste-of-money trinkets that get thrown away anyway. I personally like the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Pouch using the recipe on the back for rolled out cookies.  I do like to add a teaspoon of Almond extract to the simple three ingredient recipe to give it that bakery taste.  They were decorated with Wilton Cookie Icing in the squeeze bottles for the bowling pins, and then the bowling balls were iced and covered in black sugar crystals with three white chocolate chips upside down for the finger holes. 

 Cupcake toppers were made using a WORD document set for Avery circle labels, and I inserted my graphics and wording.  They were punched with Stampin' Up's circle and scallops punches.
 My boy is simple he is a vanilla-kind-of-kid.  However, there is a chocolate lover out there somewhere so we went with both very vanilla and fudge chocolate.  As I mentioned I am a simple sort of girl, I used a pudding-in-the-mix cake for the cupcakes, but I added a few ingredients.  For the very vanilla I used a white pudding-in-the-mix and added a white chocolate instant pudding to the mix, this was a very moist cake when all said and done.  The very vanilla cupcakes where iced with a simple classic vanilla buttercream (recipe following) and topped with clear coarse dusting sugar.  The chocolate cupcakes started out with a devil foods puuding-in-the-mix cake with a chocolate fudge instant pudding added.  They were frosted with the BEST perfect chocolate buttercream frosting found here at Hershey's website (bottom of the link page).  They too were topped with the clear coarse dusting sugar.

 I used a zipbag to frost the chocolate cupcakes (just add your frosting to a large gallon bag-and snip off the corner and swirl around the cupcake).  The vanilla I used a disposable Wilton bag with a large open star tip.

I know a ton of photos on those cupcakes....I was so excited they tasted better than any bakery I know!
This was a fantastic fun theme, loved the cupcake picks, take home treats, and all the delicious frosted cupcakes! (the bowling was fun too!)

Classic Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Makes 3 – 3.5 cups
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)  Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.  Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.  Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt,  and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for for 3 minutes.  If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar.  If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.  Enjoy!

linked up to Favorite Things Friday, and Chic on a Shoestring

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Luck of the Irish - GiveAway!

I know, I know.....Life gets in the way a bit...Birthday Parties, Weddings, House is Under Cotnract, Hospital Stays, and much going on from my homefront, but I am back at my desk writing this week.  Everyone is GREAT, Business is TERRIFIC, and wow- kids grow up fast don't they...

I have had to take a mental break for a few weeks to get settled, but ready to BLOG now!  First about a contest.  My own!  I am presenting a $15 Gift Certificate to one lucky ready this FRIDAY.  Why you ask?  to get back in the swing of things and to launch the BRAND NEW SPRING/SUMMER CATALOG from the Pampered Chef!  With 22 Exciting NEW products on the line, what better way to celebrate than offering one of you a chance to buy something for FREE!

So who's going to have the LUCK of the Irish this week!  Comment below (on the blog-not Facebook comments), and tell me how you spent Valentine's Day this year.  For more chances to win blog, tweet, or Facebook about this contest and come back and tell me (one seperate comment for each).  Each entry will be entered in to RANDOM.ORG for the winning comment on FRIDAY!

To take a peak at the Pampered Chef's new SPRING - SUMMER catalog, visit my website @
www.pamperedchef.biz/cookwithbarb  Go to ONLINE ORDERING>Individual ordering and see the whole catalog right there.  There is also a TERRIFIC OUTLET with products up to 70% off.

this post is is listed on Works for Me Wednesday

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh My Gosh.....SPECIALS!!!

Well here I sit in my VERY quiet hotel room.  No kids...No husband...No roommate...No nothing...Nothing but QUIET time...this is a VERY good thing.  It has been quite the opposite of quiet for a few weeks now-(there are several new recipes/crafts to be posted soon, I promise).

I am in Orlando, FL at a conference to enhance my business with The Pampered Chef.  This year marks my 16 years as a sales consultant with the premier direct sales company in kitchen tools.  16 years, can you believe it!  Why have I stuck around so long... well let me give you a few reasons in case your interested...
  • First and foremost because I LOVE TO COOK & CREATE in my kitchen!
  • I love teaching others about recipes, simple strategies in thier kitchen, and how to help them save money on their groceries!
  • because right now and the last 6 years I have been able to stay home with my preschoolers :) and still earn a paycheck and FREE stuff!
  • because of the friendships and professional contacts I have developed.
  • because I love FREE vacations, incentives, and products from The Pampered Chef and a paycheck twice a month!
  • because I love writing off (taxes) my grocery bill amongst other things each month and OWNING my own business.
  • and because I love helping folks start their own business whether it be a hobby or something they would like to develop into a full-time job someday!
...the list goes on and on.  I started as a hobbyist when I was finishing up my senior year in college.  Only about 6 people in the whole state of FL selling Pampered Chef.  WOWSERS!!! If I knew what I knew now...This business has allowed me to have the flexability from having extra money each month aside of my professional jobs in the past (airlines, school principal, counselor, teacher, etc...) to gaining the professionalism of being a hard-working business owner and having the perks of being my own boss.  I adore the fact that 16 years ago I said one day this business will continue to grow because of the moral principals the foundation was built on - gathering familes and friends around a table to share a meal - empowering individuals both men and women to grow their God-given talents by owning a business that fits any lifestyle.  I was right.  The Pampered Chef has with stood the test of time in direct sales.  We sell products that aren't necessarily called luxury items or items of personal taste (jewerly, make-up).  We sell products that are guranteed, and things that most folks use EVERYDAY if you eat!  Boy am I glad I stayed and I am grateful each day for my family for supporting me, and my customers for believing in our products!In 2011 I am staying home with my kiddos- and my hobby money is a REAL paycheck which helps pay private school tutition, take my family out on Pampered Chef-Night-Out (movies, mini golf, dinner, etc...), assist with household bills, vacations, debt-free Christmas',etc...
Having a "job" that you LOVE and still making money at is a big BONUS! 

Do ya'll LOVE your jobs?  Not too many people do these days with the state of our country and economy.

I will stop rambling on and on about my LOVE for this company (side note - did you know we are owned by Warren Buffet/Berkshire Hathaway?)-(okay another side note - Just being a part of PC/Berkshire Hathaway allows me to save 30% of my mobile/internet service from T-Mobile, discounts with FedEx, independant health insurance, college scholarships, and much much more.) Okay, I will stop now...the benefits of a corporate job, but working for yourself...what could be better than that?

I am still sitting in my VERY quiet room anticipating what products our Product Advisory Team came up with for the spring/summer selling season.  Only hours away until the Spring Launch National Meeting tomorrow! YEAH!  In the meantime, I will enjoy this evening with my "Pampered" girlfriends and enjoy a night out in O-Town!

I wish to invite anyone who has read long enough without being bored, laughing informational post to take part in an exclusive opportuntiy this month - FEBRUARY!
  • Anyone who books a catalog show will receive an additional $25 in FREE product to choose from with a $300 show- (for locals or out of towners)
  • Anyone who books an in-home/office/clubhouse cooking party will benefit from the above special as well as I WILL BUY THE FOOD (savings of approx. $15), theres LOVE in the air this month-try a just dessert show or death by chocolate.
  • These offers are in addition to all the regular fantastic and generous benefits from the Pampered Chef.
  • This offer is only good for the month of FEBRUARY.  Call/Comment/or email me back to let me know what works best for you.  I cannot wait to "Pamper" you!
I will post back this weekend with all the amazing annoucements that you will want to know for our upcoming season!  New themes, recipes, specials, and bonuses for everyone!  Make sure you check back often or become a "follower" (to the right of this post) I will be giving away NEW products in MARCH which will kick off yet another fabulous season!

Thanks for stopping by...until we eat again...

contact information at www.pamperedchef.biz/cookwithbarb

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Just a GREAT reminder of WHY I MENU PLAN!




Start Simple-Write down 5 meals your family likes-or-
5 meals you can start to plan with the ingredients you have in your icebox/pantry
-use your sale ads from the paper or online to create your menu/shopping list (this is the part that saves you $$)-be flexible {plan 5-7 meals and pick from those-instead of saying you will have ___ on Monday-that may throw people for a loop and then not continue}-continue once a week to set aside time to do this-take input from your kids and family members-if you don't blog and you need accountibility to do this EMAIL your menu's to me (cookwithbarb@aol.com)- I would be glad to praise you for your efforts-help you with recipe ideas or give your resources-and overall be your own cheerleader to help you stop asking yourself
at 5 PM "What's for Dinner?"

Here are my 5 menu ideas for the week!

I decided to go old school this week, and scan some of the thousands of recipes I have in books, tear-outs, or my faithful recipe card box.  As another fellow blogger mentioned in the past week, there are tons of recipes in fabulous blogs, and the internet site, but I never want to lose sight of some of my family's favorites and  those tried and true ones handed down!

So here is my 5 days of meals - no specific order - just when we feel like what's on the menu - and the shopping is done for the 5 below!

  •  Crustless Spinach & Feta Pie/Fresh Fruit (recipe below)
  • BBQ Grilled Chicken Quesadillas/Salad
  • Southwestern Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad
  • Breakfast for Dinner (Mom's Pancakes, Chicken Sausage, Scrambled Eggs)
Crustless Spinach & Feta Pies (a quick take on Spanakopita)
(Foodnetwork Kitchens Cookbook)
courtesy of Food Network Kitchens Cookbook

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 10oz package frozen spinach, thawed
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 eggs
1 T bread crumbs
2 t dried mint
1 1/4 t kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup Feta cheese

Preheat oven 400 degrees.  Heat oil in skillet, and add drained spinach and scallions and cook, stirring until dry, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to colander and squeeze out any additional mositure.  Brush 4-6oz ramekins with olive oil and place on baking sheet.

Transfer spinach ingredients and rest of ingredients except Feta to a food processor-pulse until finely chopped.  Remove blade and stir in Feta.  Bake until edges are set, but slightly soft in center-about 20 minutes.  Turn oven off and leave for 5 additional minutes.  Invert onto plate and serve with a veggie salad or Tazatiki Sauce-Yum!

My variation:  I added a bit more Feta on the top, and a few cloves of garlic.  I also made mine in a 9x9 and doubled the recipe to have leftovers to share with my neighbor and have for breakfast!  I cut it into 12 pieces and served two per person.  :)