Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh vacation food, how I love thee...

My favorite meal. Crab Cakes Benedict at Native Cafe!
So last week Chris and I took our first "offical" family vacation to Pensacola. We visited my family there and we were lucky enough to hang out at the resort where my aunt lives and basically drink and eat all day long. Sorry, people, but that's a great vacation to me. I was excited about a lots of things. One, I'd get to hang out with my fam who is hilariously fun. Two, I wanted to eat lots and lots of food...totally accomplished that. Three, I wanted to cook with my cousins and eat some fresh seafood from Patti's Fish Market in Pensacola. Somehow almost all of my goals revolved around food. Big surprise. Needless to say, we came back a tad bit heavier than we were when we had left but no worries, I knew how to get it off. I was going to eat my breakfast. If there's ever a time where I knew I'm to completely pig out and not worry about my diet, I get back on the "protien horse". I try not to think that I'm a big "dieter" because I've used Weight Watcher's for so long after having three babies, that I've really changed my mindset about food. Loving food, I want to eat anything that I want, try new things and not have to worry about if those baked oysters with paremsean and garlic are going to create more "fingerprints of God" on my thighs. So I like to think that I can have anything I want, just not all at once. So, back to breakfast.. This week I started eating more protien and less carbs/refined sugars throughout the day and sticking to a basic protien filled breakfast that keeps me full for most of the morning to mid afternoon. I also included more protien enriched snacks during the day so I'm not snacking on random crap in the afternoons. So I'm back to where I was when I left and I have to say all of those margaritas, bushwackers, fried shrimp, and eggs benedicts were WAY worth the trip in gold. Here's my recipe for one of my favorite morning scrambles!

2 eggs beaten
1 link of chicken sausage quartered and diced

Joe Patti's Fish Market....stinky and awesome

1/4 of a red or yellow bell pepper
a handful of fresh spinach chopped
1 green onion diced
6 plum tomatoes quartered
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add olive oil to the pan as well as the diced sausage and veggies. Cook for 5 min until the bell peppers a cooked through. Add eggs and let set then stir to scramble them. Easy, yummy, and healthy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oh Costco...You Get Me Every Time

I can't remember a day that I haven't eaten spinach in some way or another. It's filled with tons of nutrients and you can basically put it in anything morning, noon or night. I always buy a huge box of organic baby spinach at Costco every week so I have it on hand but right next to that huge, cold, freezer part of Costco something amazing was happening and it involved my beloved vegetable. It was being put into a blender. Now, listen ya'll, normally I steer clear of ALL samples. They're a sure fire way to screw up your calorie intake for the day and you'll get sucked into their marketing vortex within seconds, BUT this was was a Vitamix promo. You see, there's a special part of my heart for all kitchen appliances big and small. This tiny blender, packed with power, could turn my little spinach leaves into a fruit filled delicious smoothie and I was hooked. Damn that blender... Chris just bought me a professional grade mixer so there was no way that I could ask him to shell out over $400 for a blender at that moment BUT I could ask him to get me the $50 Magic Bullet set that was just on the row over. He thought about it over night, gave me one good, "you better use this friggin' thing" sigh, and picked it up the next day. My kids screamed "DADDY GOT YOU A MAGIC BLENDER!!!!!!" Yes, yes he did... I have used that thing everyday at least 4 times making smoothies with my fruit and spinach and it's been worthwhile. You may think you'd taste the spinach but you can't taste it at all and it allows you to get all your servings of fruits and veggies in. Here's my "green smoothie" recipe but you can switch out any fruits of your liking. My favorite thing to do is to buy a big baggie of organic frozen fruit (I like the strawberry, mango pineapple) at Costco and make single serving baggies to store in the freezer. I have all my goodness in one little baggie and just pop it in the Bullet :)

Green Smoothie

orange juice (I do 1/2 water and 1/2 OJ to lower my calorie intake)
a handful of spinach
1/2 c. of frozen fruit
1/2 banana

Really hope you at least try this! It's a great way to get all of your veggies and fruits in and even my husband and boys love it...and that's saying a lot. Here's a great link about the nutrients of Spinach! VIVA LA SPINACH!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I haven’t ever been a big meat eater. I’d much rather have a good piece of fish or some seafood but since having “mutiny in the kitchen” (see Thank God For Multivitamins posts) I’ve had to buy more and more meat for the boys and my poor husband who hates seafood. We decided once Lucas was ready for table food to that we would try and buy (for the most part) organic fruits/veggies, dairy and meats and it seemed very reasonable when it was just him because he’d basically just eat everything off our plate. Now with three boys under 6 the cost of buying organic for a family of five almost seemed unattainable so we pick and choose carefully when it comes to organics. I began researching vegetable co-ops, other ways of buying locally and finally decided to ask my brother in law if we could buy half of a cow from him. I didn’t really know if I would enjoy the amount of beef that we would be getting, but I have to say, I thought I loved Central Market and Whole Foods meats? His is better. VICTORY in the Noonan house!  Everything that we've eaten has been perfect, the right ammount of fat, extremely flavorful and organic. He has worked hard at perfecting his beef. It’s lean, high in omega-3’s, all grass fed and finished off on clover to help in the marbling. We received steaks, roasts, ribs, ground meat, you name it we got it. Best of all, we love knowing where our meat came from, how it was handled and who processed it. If you’re at all interested in buying locally and supporting local farmers, this is a great way of knowing where your food came from AND supporting your community.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Big Bertha

I made a pound cake today. I named it…wait for it…Big Bertha.  Normally, I make an old recipe that my mother shared with me a long time ago which uses two loaf pans. It’s a “no fail” winner and is great for strawberry shortcake. This is not that cake. I used a bundt pan for the recip today and the cake, my friends, is huge. I guess I was feeling quite confident this afternoon so I thought I’d kick it up a notch. I’ll admit, we had a 5 lbs container of sour cream that needed to be used up so I conveniently googled “Sour Cream Pound Cake” and of course the first thing that pops up is Paula Deen’s recipe. Dang that woman.  I skimmed the recipe, already knowing that I had all the ingredients including this awesome Mexican vanilla (thank you Michelle) that was a gift from a friend. I could feel my thighs enlarging. People, this is a serious pound cake so make it at your own risk I have to say though…it turned out BEAUTIFUL!!!! Pound cake is one of the easiest recipes to make so if you’re ready for summer, try this recipe and get out the fresh berries and whipped cream. It’s absolutely perfect…but, it’s really big J.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Berries are back!

Berries are back in season and so is my daily greek yogurt parfait! It's a light, easy and low fat snack that even my boys love on hot summer days. Hope you're able to enjoy this quick snack this week!

1/2 c. of 0% Fage Greek Yogurt
1 TBS honey
your favorite berries (my favorite are blackberries)
and 1/4. c Kashi Go Lean Crunch

Mix your yogurt and honey together until smooth and layer the berries on top. Sprinkle the Kashi on top and eat immediately.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I've Gotten Curried Away

Before we moved to the DFW area, our, shall we say, variety of food choices were unlimited. We lived in a very central area with everything from Sushi and Greek to Indian and African food and it made is really fun going out with friends and family. Thai and Indian food, are by far one of my favorite foods. Some people are scared of it, but I really think that I could eat them (curry specifically) every day. Unfortunately for me, they're one of the scariest things to make and to be perfectly honest I've never tried. One of the reasons being is that my Indian and Pakistani friends say that it's just easier to buy that type of  food from a restaurant because it tastes better. If THEY can't make it right then how am I suppose to??? Secondly, I don't like to be a failure in the kitchen and failure just seems kinda likely to me when it comes to ingredients that I'm not use to using. Well, I'm trying something today. Just the regular ol' Thai Chicken Curry, which I actually never even get when I go out to eat Thai food, but it seemed like the easiest thing to make. Wish me luck...I'm gonna need it! Will post results *fingers crossed*!!

Here's the our menu for the week!

Monday ~ Thai Chicken Curry with Rice

Tuesday ~ Asian Pork Roast with Steamed Veggies

Wednesday ~ Taco Soup (this recipe shows as turkey chili but it's not!! Def a taco soup...chili does NOT have corn it :) )

Thursday ~ Leftovers

Friday ~ MYO Pizza night with Spinach Salad

Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

This week is a VERY busy week! Here are our plans to conquer our hunger :)

Monday ~ Weight Watcher's Mexican Casserole

1 spray(s) cooking spray

4 cup(s) cooked brown rice

1 1/4 cup(s) salsa

1 tsp Durkee Ground Cumin Seed, or other brand

15 oz canned refried beans

10 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed

4 oz canned green chili peppers, mild, diced

1 Tbsp chili powder

10 oz chopped frozen spinach, or collard greens, thawed and set to drain in a strainer over a bowl

3/4 cup(s) low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped (optional; for garnish)


Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a 2-quart rectangular, round or oval baking dish with cooking spray
In a large bowl, combine rice, salsa and cumin. Spoon 2 cups of rice mixture into prepared baking dish and spread out to evenly cover bottom of dish.

In another large bowl, combine refried beans, corn, chili peppers and chili power. Using a rubber spatula, scrape bean mixture on top of rice layer and smooth out top.

Squeeze out any excess water from spinach or collard greens and then spread on top of bean layer; sprinkle with 6 tablespoons of cheese. Top with remaining rice mixture and smooth out top; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place casserole on a large rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillage. Bake until heated through and cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro (if desired), cut into 6 pieces and serve

Tuesday ~ Leftovers!

Wednesday ~ Henry's birthday, we're taking him out for a birthday dinner :)

Thursday ~ Whole Wheat Chicken Tetrazinni with Spinach Salad I use Giada's recipe but switch out the linguini to whole wheat.

Friday ~M.Y.O. pizza night

Saturday ~ Asian Pulled Pork Tacos

Friday, April 22, 2011

I'll be missing the balls this Easter...

I've spend many days, nights and holidays with my best friend's family. Her mother, the boy's YiaYia, calls herself my surrogate and she has taught me so many things about life and about food. They were recently down for my son's 1st birthday and she came bearing her own pots, pans, and spices because things just taste better when she makes them in her own stuff. YiaYia isn't greek, she's Sicilian and every Easter she makes these traditional rice balls called "Arancini". They're a delicious Italian street food that consists of cooked rice, sometimes spinach and mozzarella that are covered in bread crumbs and deep fried. They're really should be called "A Little Piece of Heaven" but that would be too long to call out along the streets of Italy. I remember the first time I made them with Meg's was serious stuff, strict rules, no cutting corners. The balls couldn't be to big or too small, you had to put in the cube of mozzarella just right then cover, dip, dip, dip then roll, fry, and eat immediately. I wish I had her recipe, but I don't. I've tried a few the past couple of years and Giada's is the closest that I can find. I also wish I had YiaYia's pots to make the risotto...maybe that's the key. Or it may be all the wine and music around that makes them taste better. For Giada's recipe click here :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Little Things...

I have had a huge week of orders for Ethiopia or Bust which is AWESOME! Unfortunately, that left me little time to whip up some menu planning and recipes for this week. I thought I'd do a quick Top 10 though! Hope everyone has a great week.

1. I eat grapefruit everyday at some point, usually as an afternoon snack but homemade hummus with whole wheat pita chips is my favorite snack.

2. I've always wanted a butter bell. They seem handy especially when you’re dealing with unsalted baking butter everyday.

3. I'm clumsy in the kitchen. We always buy double sets of glasses and plates because I break them...a lot. I use to try and pawn off the breakage on my kids, but Chris is no fool. He knows me too well.

4. My parents raised me on wheat bread. Never white...that was a “no no”. Luckily, I didn’t get the “open food items anyway necessary” gene because she’d usually open the bread at the bottom or in some weird way because she couldn’t figure out the twist tie.

5. If I ever go to Wendy's, which is a rare occasion since we normally only eat Chic fil A for fast food, I always dip my fries in my Frosty. It's always just seemed like the right thing to do. Salty vs. sweet…the ultimate combo.

6. My favorite meal to make is brunch. You have so many options including Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas…just sayin’.

7. I burn myself on a regular basis on the oven or hot cupcake pan...I usually scream the same thing when it happens. You’d think I’d learn one of these days. I’m quite stubborn though.

8. I didn't really use a Crockpot till last year. We're still getting to know each other.

9. I rarely eat pasta. Pasta is one of the foods that I can eat pounds of without knowing it and to be honest, carbs stick to my hips like flies on a truck grill. When we do eat it, it’s whole wheat and packed with veggies to make myself feel better.

10. I have been known, on many occasions, to eat dessert for breakfast. I think this gave Chris’ parents a heart attack when we first met but they’ve gotten over it. You name it…cake, cupcakes, pies…eaten for breakfast.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Menu Plan for 4/11-4/17

Here's our menu plan for this week! I decided to use for all of the recipes except for Friday (gotta have some Falafels and Fatoush this week). They have all the Cooking Light recipes that I love so much :). My favorite recipes out of all of these is the Fatoush Salad. It's such a great dish by itself and perfect for a nice spring day!

Monday Turkey Chili with baked tortilla chips

Tuesday Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs with roasted asparagus and roasted potatoes

Wednesday Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast with brown rice and veggies

Thursday Leftovers

Friday (no meat Fridays) Falafels and Fatoush with pitas and hummus

Thursday, April 7, 2011


One trip to Costco,two carts, three kids and one cranky mother..“THAT’S NOT MY MIXER!!!” I yelled at my husband in the small appliance isle. It had been 8 years of marriage and he finally had broken me down. On our first anniversary I had asked my husband for a stand mixer and that may seem ridiculous to some. Some girls ask for jewelry, I ask for small kitchen appliances, cooking classes, and good knives J.

Waiting for the sponge to "crack" through the flour
After having kids and realizing the beauty of wholesale shopping at Costco we’d stroll by the small appliance section (you have to swing by there every once in a while, I mean it IS Costco) and he’d see the mixer I’d ask for. “Hey!”, he’d say, “isn’t that your mixer?” *sigh* I’d affirm that it WAS the mixer I’d been wanting but couldn’t actually call it “mine” because I didn’t have one. This went on for years, literally. We’d be leisurely walking through Macy’s and sure enough, “Hey! Look! It’s your mixer!” I began to get extremely annoyed at this. It was almost laughable that everywhere we would shop he would seem to find stand mixers, of all things, on his shopping radar. I started thinking that maybe he was just trying to clue me on something, maybe I needed to make him aware of what color I wanted? Would that narrow down the times he’d say it? No, no it wouldn’t.

The Brioche dough after rising in the fridge overnight
Finally, on a hot summer day, with all three boys in tow and two extra large carts, I snapped. It was simple, nothing too eloquent, just a “there’s the mixer!”. Those three words pushed me over the edge…”THAT’S NOT MY FRIGGIN’ MIXER!!!”. My chorus/peanut gallery in cart #1 rang out as well, “THAT’S NOT MY FRIGGIN MIXER DAD! *insert childish laughs here*. After the older couple behind us finished laughing at us, I composed myself, apologized and did my best to explain, hopefully for the last time, that he should NEVER, EVER again speak of the mixer. Ever. A week or two later while making cupcakes for Ethiopia or Bust my arm was beginning to get a major workout and I knew exactly what was happening. My tried and true handheld mixer was getting slow, the poor motor was starting to die and I needed a mixer in a serious way. Well, I got a mixer…and it’s perfect. A Cuisinart, Stainless Steel, 5.5 Quart Stand Mixer. *ring in the Hallelujah chorus*


 My first endeavor was a classic Brioche so with my dough hook and in hand and my handy helper Lucas, I just knew that it was going to be a hit. It was a 2 day ordeal, make the sponge, let it rise,  mix it five minutes on one speed, 15 on the highest, let it rise, let it fall, beat it again…I think I read the recipe about 15 times before I even started.  “Don’t mess up the Brioche!!”, Lucas told me as he jumped out of my car in carpool line. No pressure, none at all. So I busted that beautiful dough out that morning, cut it, egg washed it, and baked it. My house smelled like Brioche all day long. It was fantastic and when Lucas got home from school that day he knew I had baked something special. Thank you Chris, I love my mixer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This week's meal plan!

I wasn't born a planner, let me just say this first and foremost. I am not a "type A" personality but after three kids, an international adoption to fund, a house to run, things to do, errands to complete and dogs to feed I've become a planner. (oh, it also helps that my husband is extremely analytical...thank goodness I married someone organized). So after we moved from Houston a couple of years ago, and I began staying home with my kids I quickly realized that I needed to get on the meal planning wagon ASAP. For those of you who don't meal plan or have never heard of it, it's basically an easy way to organize your meals throughout the week so you know exactly what you're cooking all week long. Meal planning is also a great way to organize your grocery list and stay on task at the grocery store. For our family, we meal plan on Sundays. It's usually the slowest day for us, we only have church to attend and the afternoons are lazy. The perfect time to sit down as a family for a quick meal planning meeting. If you're kids are picky eaters like mine, they'll know what they're eating this week. They have nothing to whine about because they know I'm not making anything but what we have on the menu plan. Now, I'm not saying my kids don't whine, because of course they do, BUT they know we don't change our menu. Sorry lil' stinkers. A good way to get your kids involved in the process is to have a "kids night" where they can choose what they want to make themselves for dinner. We do have guidelines, but they get to choose and it let's them feel like the kitchen isn't "mama's space" it's their space to. So on to our weeks menu! I'm going to try and link this up to but I need my husband to help me with that! Hope everyone has a fabulous week and something delicious :)

Monday- Turkey Sliders with Spinach Salad

1 lb. of ground turkey
1 TBS garlic/herb seasoning
salt and pepper
1 Pkg. Hawaiian Rolls
Spinach with all the fixings i.e. reduced fat feta cheese, 1/2ed cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion (we use olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing)

mix the turkey and seasonings together and make small patties...grill or stove top and top with cheese if desired.

Tuesday- Light King Ranch Chicken with steamed broccoli

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1 large green or red bell pepper, chopped

• Vegetable cooking spray

• 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts

• 1 (10-ounce) can fat-free cream of chicken soup, undiluted

• 1 (10-ounce) can fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

• 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomato and green chiles

• 1 teaspoon chili powder

• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

• 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

• 1 (8-ounce) block reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded


Sauté onion and bell pepper in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender.

Stir in chicken and next 6 ingredients; remove from heat.

Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces; layer one-third tortilla pieces in bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with one-third chicken mixture and one-third cheese. Repeat layers twice.

Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Note: Freeze casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw in refrigerator overnight, and bake as directed.

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Light Turkey Meatloaf with Sweet Potato Mash (thank you Cooking Light!)

• 1 1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs
• 2 tablespoons fat-free milk

• 1/2 cup ketchup, divided

• 2/3 pound ground beef, extra lean (raw)

• 1/2 pound lean ground veal

• 6 ounces lean ground pork

• 1/2 cup chopped onion

• 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

• 1 teaspoon dried basil

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

• 2 large egg whites

• Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons ketchup and remaining ingredients except cooking spray.

Shape meat mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Spread remaining 6 tablespoons ketchup over top of meat loaf. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut the loaf into 12 slices.

Sweet Potato Mash

3 Sweet Potatoes
1 TBS Butter
a splash of milk
a dash of cinnamon (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

pierce sweet potatoes and bake at 350 for 20 min. or until soft to the middle. Peel of skin and place them in a med size bowl. Add butter and spices and mash until desired texture (my kids like it very smooth)

Friday - Weight Watcher's Vegetarian Mexican Casserole (my husband's favorite!)
1 spray(s) cooking spray

4 cup(s) cooked brown rice

1 1/4 cup(s) salsa

1 tsp Ground Cumin Seed, or other brand

15 oz canned refried beans

10 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed

4 oz canned green chili peppers, mild, diced

1 Tbsp chili powder

10 oz chopped frozen spinach, or collard greens, thawed and set to drain in a strainer over a bowl

3/4 cup(s) low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped (optional; for garnish)


• Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a 2-quart rectangular, round or oval baking dish with cooking spray

• In a large bowl, combine rice, salsa and cumin. Spoon 2 cups of rice mixture into prepared baking dish and spread out to evenly cover bottom of dish.

• In another large bowl, combine refried beans, corn, chili peppers and chili power. Using a rubber spatula, scrape bean mixture on top of rice layer and smooth out top.

• Squeeze out any excess water from spinach or collard greens and then spread on top of bean layer; sprinkle with 6 tablespoons of cheese. Top with remaining rice mixture and smooth out top; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

• Place casserole on a large rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillage. Bake until heated through and cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro (if desired), cut into 6 pieces and serve.

Saturday - Leftovers

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Easy Orzo Salad

The weather has been so gorgeous lately, it's put me in a spring kind of mood. Sunny, breezy, lots of time outside and great ideas to use my newly potted herbs. I potted herbs I knew that I'd be using throughout the spring and summer and planted vegetables in the garden that I knew I could pair with them. Two of the herbs I use most regularly are basil and mint. I put fresh basil in all of my Italian dishes and mint in my freshly squeezed lemonade which my boys love! Both of these went into my orzo salad over the weekend. I got the basic recipe from Giada's DeLaurentis' website but tweaked it a little bit for the ingredients I had on hand.


  • 4 c chicken broth 
  • 1 lbs of orzo
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 c grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 c diced red onion
  • 1/2 c finely chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • (optional) 1 c. light feta cheese
  • about 1 c Wish Bone Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the orzo in the chicken broth for 9-10 min. Drain and let cool in the fridge. Toss with a fork occasionally until it cools. After it cools completely add beans, tomatoes, onion basil and mint and toss with vinaigrette. Salt and pepper and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so for all the flavors to combine. (if you're adding your feta you can add it with all of the other ingredients before you toss it with the vinaigrette.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Easy and oh so good!!

After posting on facebook about this Lasagna I got a couple of requests for the recipe! Little did they know it would be my next post. So Salty Brownie fans I'm doing a double this week and taking off next week since it's Spring Break with the kiddos :) I really like this lasagna one, because it's really easy to make. Two, I can sneak in some veggies for everyone including the kids and three, it's seriously yummy. So bust out your 9x13's people and get crackin'! Enjoy ya'll!

1 box of lasagna noodles (I use ready to bake whole wheat)
1 can of your favorite pasta sauce *gasp!!!* Yes people, I use canned sauce for my lasagna.
16 oz. ricotta cheese (low fat if you like)
16 oz. cottage cheese (I use 1%)
1 package of grated mozzarella or Italian blend
2 eggs
1/3 c grated parm cheese
1 lbs ground turkey or beef
1 diced onion
1 pkg of frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and drained)
1 tsp pepper

preheat your over to 350 degrees. Brown your beef or turkey (make sure and salt your meat while it's cooking) on the stove and while it's cooking mix up your ricotta, cottage cheese, eggs, pepper and parm in a medium bowl. After your meat is browned add the diced onion and spinach and cook on med heat for about 5 min. Pour in your jar of pasta sauce and let simmer for another few minutes. in the bottom of a 9x13 put a small bit of sauce to cover the bottom. Layer your lasagna noodles then ricotta mixture, a bit of mozzarella cheese then meat sauce again. Start over again with the noodles and do this until it reaches the top ending with the last bit of meat sauce. Cover the top with extra mozzarella cheese and bake for 45 min. covered. Uncover and bake for another 15.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Sweet Delight!

Now that spring is just around the corner, I’ve started planning out our garden and the recipes that will go along with the ”yummies” we’ll reap. We’ll probably plant here in a couple of weeks and let me tell you, there is nothing like getting your veggies and fruit straight from your backyard. Even if you have a small backyard, which I think we have, you can still make room for a small section in a corner or by a window. If you’ve never gardened before or are a bit weary of the time commitment, start with fresh herbs. Herbs to really well in pots and they are pretty hard to kill. Also, plant something you’ll eat! There’s no sense in planting something you’re not going to love. One thing we’ll be trying AGAIN this year (last year was a big fail) is strawberries. Strawberries are by far my favorite fruit, oh how I love them! They’re packed with vitamins, can be used for snacks, salads and desserts and are beautiful! So, today I’ll be sharing one of my all time favorite recipes that’s very easy and great for a dinner party. Balsamic Strawberries with a Ricotta Whip. I love this recipe because it’s very easy, displays beautifully and is very elegant. It’s also fresh and clean, not heavy at all, perfect for a dinner party where guests can mingle while still enjoying a dessert. I suggest that when you’re picking out your balsamic vinegar choose one that’s priced in the mid range. You don’t need to use really expensive vinegar but the cheap ones just won’t cut it. Believe me…I’ve tried. You can also reduce your fat content by using a “skim” ricotta. As another recommendation, use martini glasses or wide rimmed glass to serve this dish! It makes for an elegant display.


1 c ricotta cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp honey

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar

1 lb strawberries sliced

2 Tbsp basil, fresh (chiffonade)


In a food processor add the ricotta cheese, vanilla and honey. Pulse for a minute or two then refrigerate it for about an hour.

Combine vinegar and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil; reduce to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Let the syrup cool completely before topping your strawberries.

In four separate glasses fill the bottoms with the ricotta mixture. You can use a piping bag to make it look uniform. Add your sliced strawberries on top of the cheese mixture and drizzle your balsamic syrup on top. To finish it off, top each glass with a small amount of your basil.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cake Balls!

Cake funny. Gah... I didn't even know what cake balls were until I asked my sister in law Daphne for some help in party planning. After she told me about them, I immediately knew that I'd want to make them. So, I invited some girlfriends over and they helped me figure this cake ball thing out. I used Paula Deen's recipe and after my first try, (sorry Paula) I have some ideas on how to make them taste better, look more uniform, and professional.

1. Use your own butter cream. In the recipe, it calls for one tub of store bought icing and I just HATE that stuff. It's no good...use your own.

2. Def. use a melon baller or 1/2 TBS to form your balls. If the balls are too big, you're not going to get the chocolate all over it.

3. make your balls ahead a time and freeze them the day before. If the balls are too soft they'll fall off the toothpicks and you'll be fishing for the darn balls all afternoon.

4. Don't temper your own chocolate. Use the good quality confectioners chocolate as directed. it dries quickly and tastes yummy.

5. For the love of everything good in this world DECORATE THEM! Dip those suckers in sprinkles, cookie crystals, or nuts. They look SOOO pretty decorated. I didn't decorate my chocolate ones and although they were my favorite, they looked pretty lame. I wish I would have drizzled them with white chocolate.

6. When decorating them dip them directly into the sprinkles. That way the hole that your toothpick makes becomes the bottom of your cake ball and you don't have to worry about filling it in.

Hope everyone tries they're hand at these! They're perfect for holidays, showers and weddings!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't Knock it Till Ya Try It...

I’ve had a lot of meetings in the evenings lately so earlier this week I came home around 7 pm listening to my three year old screaming at my husband “NO DADDY!!! I WANT CHEESE ON MY CUPCAKE!!!!!” “I WANT CHEEEEEEESE!!”. I couldn’t help but giggle because the kid eats so much cheese he’s seriously going to turn into a big block of it. After his tantrum had subsided (and we reminded him that yelling at Daddy wasn’t very nice) I got him settled for bed then started thinking he might have a good idea. Cheese cupcakes? I mean, I would do anything to make my lil’ boy’+s tummy happy J.  I’d never heard of such a thing but promised him that I’d find a recipe or work one up that involved his endearing love for “yellow and orange” cheeses.. I googled and googled then came upon this recipe below. I have an aversion for processed cheeses and this, of course, has Velveeta in it, along with cheddar and sweetened condensed milk. So, my poor baby James has been sick the past two day and I had to make something for him. We decided on the cheese cupcakes! I have to say, I have the happiest three year old in Texas right now. The cupcakes are moist, fluffy and have a hint of orange in them that cuts the sharpness of the cheddar. This would be a PERFECT snack for your school children who can’t take peanut butter for lunches and snacks! Enjoy!

Cheese Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
8 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Velveeta cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Change Measurements: US | Metric

 In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and extract.
Pour in flour mixture in thirds adding 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk in between (beginning and ending with flour mixture.).
Add in grated Velveeta and blend well.
Put in muffin cups 3/4 cup full only.
Top with grated cheddar cheese.
Bake in 350 oven for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If you're going to pig out, you might as well do it well...

One 40 piece bag of individual Cheetos, Doritos and Lays, one bag of cheesy popcorn, one large bag of pretzel M&M’s and a large pepperoni pizza and bread sticks from Little Caesars. Our grocery list. I remember when I use to teach, I could always tell when the weather was going to change. The kids went crazy. They did things they would normally NEVER do. I guess with an “Arctic Blast” like Texas has last week it actually affected adults. Our family, although my children don’t eat veggies, eat pretty healthy. There’s not one thing that I can think of that I can’t make a little healthier and still enjoy. This doesn’t mean that we don’t ever splurge and eat unhealthy things but it’s usually in small quantities and we get rid of if quickly. So the arctic blast came through last week and brought a couple inches of ice and 4-6 inches of snow for our little snow bunnies to play in. We were iced in for a good couple of days and couldn’t go anywhere until Wed evening. We finally decided to brave the elements and head out as a family so Chris could see “how icy the bridge over the lake is”. Not the smartest thing to do but if we’re going out we might as well do it together right??? We needed some things at the store so we headed to good old Target. Chris had already mentioned that he wanted his bag of cheesy popcorn that he’s been getting for the past few weeks but once we grabbed that it was a free for all. “I want some Cheetos!” I hear from my boys. Then, down the slippery slope we went. I’ll be honest, I was the one that grabbed the large bag of pretzel M&M’s. For the record, they were worth it. The topper had to be stopping for the Little Caesars. We love pizza and you know what? We had the BEST family dinner we’d had in a long time. So after regrouping and finishing off the bag of M&M’s for breakfast I remembered how EASY it was to make your food fresh, yummy and healthy if you wanted it to be so. So, I pulled out my old recipe books and made some whole wheat pizza dough, feeling I had to make up for the lack of will power I’d had the previous day. I really forgot how delicious it was. So, that’s what I’ll share with you this week. If you’re pizza people like us, this is your week!! Pizza dough is one of the EASIEST things to make and you can top it with basically anything under the sun. We personally like red onions, spinach, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and olives .

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 packet of yeast

1 ¼ c. warm water

1 TBS sugar or honey

3 ¾ c. whole wheat flour

1 TBS Olive Oil

1 tsp salt

1. dissolve the yeast packet in the warm water and let sit for a 4-5 minutes. Make sure it dissolves. Add the honey or sugar to the water.

2. In a separate bowl mix the flour and salt

3. Add the water and olive oil to the flour mixture until it forms a ball. You can take it out of the bowl and work with it on a flat surface.

4. once your dough is completely formed oil it with a little bit of Olive Oil and put it back in the bowl. Cover it and let it sit in a warm place in your house (I usually stick it in the laundry room because the dryer is always one) until it doubles in size. Usually 30-45 min.

5. Separate the dough into 4 pieces for individual pizzas

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 min.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thank God for Multivitamins

I have a secret to tell you. My kids don’t eat vegetables. Surprisingly, the only think they’ll eat is spinach souffle and it’s actually frozen and comes out of a box. Before I had children I had this picturesque vision of my sweet boys sitting at the table nice and neatly eating their asparagus that I had gently steamed topped with aioli and pancetta. Organic of course. “More please!”, they would ask and I’d happily wink at Chris as he gives me a “thumbs up” for raising our kids right. I’m actually laughing as I’m typing this because the only way my boys will touch asparagus is to allow them to use it as swords and I’m not sure Chris has ever given me a “thumbs up”, so if he did it would probably weird me out. So you know what? I’m over it. Some people may think that I’m doing my children a disservice, that I should force my children to eat their veggies. I’m just not going to do that. I see this point in my life as a teaching experience. My kitchen is a classroom and although they won’t eat my veggies, they can smell how yummy they are, they sure as hell can tell me WHAT they are, how to chop them up and which ones Daddy likes. They can sit on the counter top and sing with me as I cook and know that everything I’m making is yummy (even though they won’t try it), fresh and made with love. My kids know where their vegetables come from. They garden with me in the spring and pick all the peas to shell. I’d rather have those memories then have my kids eat vegetables and be crabby and boring. My kids rock…even if they don’t eat veggies. So, now to the recipe. I thought of this post because Chris loves roasts and although Lucas helps me with every bit of it, he won't touch it. To be quite honest, I had never made a roast before because I refused to be that mother who uses her crock pot for everything she makes. It turns out my crock pot is awesome and I’m using it more!! Hope everyone enjoys this recipe. It’s perfect for the busy days and is absolutely DELICIOUS!!! I’ve started making it once a week until Chris gets tired of it.


2 pounds boneless beef roast (I like to use round roast)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 onion, quartered

a bag of baby carrots

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup (if you use fat free it tastes the same )

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute the roast in the oil for 15 minutes, or until all sides are well browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Place the onion, carrots, garlic and parsley in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the roast on top of the vegetables and pour the soup over the roast and the vegetables.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low setting for 6-8 hrs.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Sweet Spot

I've had a lot of cucpake orders lately which makes my heart happy.  If you are new to my blog or a new friend, I'm a baker at heart. If you come over, I'll usually whip something up for you if it's not already made. I love to cook of course, but I've worked at it. Baking came very natural to me. So, when my husband and I decided to adopt from Ethiopia I thought it would be a perect time to share my talent and fundraise for our adoption at the same time. In the past few weeks I have dabbled in some new buttercreams and cake flavors that have turned out to be phenomenal!!! I mean seriously.... So, I thought I'd share with you my Lemon Chiffon Buttercream which is my favorite. I love, love, love lemon and my favorite cupcakes are from Sugar Mama's Bakery in Austin. For my birthday last year, Chris had them make a cake for me with their lemon buttercream and I've been trying to recreate it ever since. I think mine is better (just sayin'). It must be all that love and elbow grease I put in to them since the motor in my mixer is going out ;). Hope you enjoy this recipe and for God's sake try it! You can top any of your vanilla, lemon or strawberry cupcakes with it!

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2  lemon, juice and zest of
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine butter, sugar and salt and beat till well combined.
Add lemon juice,zest and vanilla and continue to beat for another 3 to 5 minute or until creamy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mark the day...

*enter Handel’s Messiah* My husband cooked this weekend. For some of you, this may sound normal. You may have one of those husbands (like my brother Raymond, bless his heart) who whips on an apron, sings in the kitchen while tossing salt over his shoulder for good luck and baking everyone’s birthday cakes. Chris is not one of those husbands. Amazing, yes. Wonderful father, yes. Adoring husband, oh yes. Cook, nah. I will say in his defense, he loves to eat and he is more than happy to do the dishes and do them well. So, in my mind, we’re absolutely perfect for each other. Let’s also be frank here, I’m a competitive person, I don’t need someone showing me up in my own kitchen. So, maybe you’re thinking, “Wow, turning over a new leaf?” or “great new years resolutions!!”, let me stop you there. Three words…lost at golf. Oh yes, it’s the new thing. Anytime he plays with his friend Jeff, the loser cooks dinner. Luckily Chris has won the last two times so Jeff and his wife Michelle cooked for us.  Lucky for them, it was his turn. After he lost he immediately told me that he was going to need some help figuring out what to cook. He knew I wasn’t cooking for him (as sweet as I am). I had bought a new Giada DeLaurentiis food processor and there was a “Penne with Spinach Sauce” recipe that I just KNEW he could pull off. Pasta is easy. Pasta with a sauce is yummy. So this week I’m sharing Chris’ recipe. He did a great job and although he swears he’s buying Costco pizza for everyone if he looses again, I wouldn’t mind having him make this. Well done sweet husband!


¾ tsp salt
1 lb whole wheat pasta
3 garlic cloves
2 oz. goat cheese
1 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
6 oz. baby spinach leaves
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
(if he makes it again, I may have him add a couple TBS’s of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make the sauce a little creamier!!)

-          Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
-          Meanwhile, mince garlic in food processor. Add goat cheese, cream cheese, salt, pepper and half the spinach leaves. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place the remaining spinach leaves in a large bowl. Add the drained pasta, then scrape the cheese mixture over the pasta and toss and coat. Add enough cooking liquid to moisten. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Slap You Silly Chili

Looking out my desk window this morning, the rooftops are dusted with white snow and the stubborn leaves that wanted to watch the boys play in the yard a little longer have since blown off from the front that moved in yesterday. These types of days are my favorite. To some, like my sister Ellen who is a beach lover, this may seem completely crazy. But, I do, I love this weather. So, for me, when weather comes, so does food. In the summers while the kids are school free and sugar rushed they'll run around outside eating popsicles and playing in the pool I'll make frozen grapes or a watermelon salad. When it snows, inevitably we make chili. If there's even a hint of nip in the air, we make chili. My husband loves it. With that said, Chris doesn't love food like I do. I'm an eye ball rolling, bang on the table, slap your momma it's so good, kind of food lover. He likes food of course, but "it's good", or "it's OK", is the most you'll really get out of him. (such a shame) The only way you know he really LOVES something is if he asks for it over, and over and over again. He definitely loves chili and cornbread. I've tweaked my chili recipe a lot because I've made is so many times but here's the basic recipe. For the cornbread, I usually just buy a Jiffy mix and add a can of diced green chilis and a handfull of cheese and fresh corn. Don't be scared to add your own stuff to either of them. If you keep the spices and stock the same your base is complete. Add a pound of spicy sausage or deer sausage. Add any kind of beans you like. Chili is EASY to make "your own". So enjoy the chili and enjoy your day! Happy Moday!

• 3 pounds ground beef (or ground turkey)
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 3 cups chicken or beef broth (low sodium)
• 3 cans of black beans
• 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
• 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
• 1 6 oz can tomato paste
• 2 large onions, diced
•  1 large green bell pepper, diced
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
•  3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
•  3 tablespoons pasilla chile powder
• 1  tablespoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons cumin, ground
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
•  1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
•  1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 4 chipotle peppers, chopped in adobo sauce (seed them if you don't want the spice)
1 can of dark beer (shiner is good)
In a stock pot brown your meat and drain off fat. If you're using turkey there won't be much fat so do you don't have to worry about draining any off. Add the onions, garlic and bell pepper and cook for 10-12 min until translucent.  Add in all of the spices and beer then cook on med. for another ten minutes. Add your broth, tomatoes, and black beans and simmer for at least a couple of hours. If you wanna kick it up a notch, you can add a pound of andoullie sausage to replace one of the pounds of meat.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I hear cucpakes are dead...

First, I'd like to say that I loved cupcakes before cucpakes were the new trend. Everywhere you turn these days it's been "cupcake this" or "cupcake that", cupcake wars, DC Cupcakes, blah blah blah... I get it. They can be tiny and cute, modern or traditional and of course they're totally versatile. Ice those suckers up with ganace, cream cheese frosting, butter cream or my personal plain Jane (especially my red velvets). But, I heard that cupcakes are loosing their steam to soming bigger, better and crustier. Pies. I found this really interesting because over the Thanksgiving holiday I had this wave a pie making, I'm tellin' you, I was a pie makin' mama!! I had forgotten how easy and delicious a fresh piece of pie can really be. Needless to say, Chris came home from work knowing that I'd spent all day in the kitchen baking and was surprised at the ammount of pies we had floating around the fridge. This was also the day that I made fresh dinner rolls, so I think he was carb crazed. I gently explained to him my urge to make pies that day and went down the list of pies I had made. I went down the list and stopped at Buttermilk. He looked at me funny and kind of cocked his head and smooshed his face up and said one word. "Buttermilk???". "Ummmm...yeah, buttermilk, it's my favorite, ya know...buttermilk pie". He didn't know what the hell I was talking about. My friends, my husband had never had buttermilk pie before. YOU may never have had it either but I kind of just stood there in a baking stooper for a moment because I knew his mother was a pie making machine back in the day so how in the heck did he not EVER have a slice before? So I decided to go straight to the source, my mother-in-law Margaret. Sure enough, she'd never made buttermilk pies before and from what I understand now, it's a southern thing and being from Iowa, well, that's definitely not the "south". So today, after reading NPR's article today on the "death of cupcakes" I thought I'd share my buttermilk pie recipe with you since pies are the next big thing ;). Beware, the pie is not hip, thigh, back or butt friendly. Everything in moderation is fine tho...nothing a yoga class can't take care of the next day! Enjoy friend...

3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 sticks of butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 unbaked 9-inch pie shells
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix well. Pour into 2 unbaked pie shells. Bake 10 minutes at 400°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes. Makes 2 pies. I usually cover the crust after about 35 min. so it doesn't get too dark!