Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gluten Free Honey Chipotle Enchiladas

Gluten Free Honey Chipotle Enchiladas

Shredded Pork
Large Corn Tortillas
Diced Onion
Coconut Oil
Crushed Garlic
Gluten Free Enchilada Sauce(red or green)
Chipotle Sauce(gravy) from a can of Adobo Chilies
Lime & Cilantro doTerra Essential Oils
Grated Pepper Jack Cheese

I wanted enchiladas but one of my kiddos is not a fan.  I promised this child she would at least like these, and she did actually eat one and said they weren't bad.  I came up with this kind of as I went along so there are no step by step pics either.  And they were gone before I knew it so no plated culinary food porn, sorry.  Let me know what you think if you try them.

Pan fry each tortilla on each size with coconut oil until soft and pliable.  Set on dish and cover with damp towel or plastic wrap loosely while frying the rest of them.  Empty 2 large cans of enchilada sauce into aa measuring bowl.  Add 1-3 Tbl. of Chipotle Sauce, around ¼ cup of honey, 3 drops lime essential oil, 1 drop cilantro essential oil.  Mix with whisk and set aside.  Sautee onions with a little bit of coconut oil and salt to taste until almost translucent.  Add crushed garlic and cook a few minutes.  Set aside.

Assembling the Enchiladas:  TIP:  Spray 9x13 pan with a little bit of non-stick spray.  Then drizzle honey across the bottom in spaced and thin ribbons.  This will act as the “glue” to hold the rolled enchiladas in place!  You do not need to coat the tortillas on each side with sauce, we’re skipping that step. 

Spread a little bit of shredded pork in a line down the center of one tortilla.  Next sprinkle a little bit of onion, next shredded pepper jack cheese, and a spoonful of enchilada sauce.  Roll up and lay seam side down in the baking dish.  I was able to get a dozen in one pan.  Pour about 2 cups of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Remove foil, add more pepper jack cheese over the enchiladas and bake another 15 minutes, until cheese is gold and bubbly.  Let cool about 15 minutes.  Additional garnishes if you like, olives, cilantro, sour cream, cotija cheese, onions, etc….

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gluten Free Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I have to give credit where credit is due!  EmilyK has THE best bread recipe hands down.  It's even gluten free.  This recipe is soft, moist, sweet, and melt in your mouth good.  THIS is her GF Pumpkin Bread recipe that I drew inspiration from to make the coffee cake shown.

I doubled the recipe and used butter instead of shortening.  I added a yummy pecan topping, and my house smells like Fall.  Oh, cut the salt in half if you use regular butter.  It ended up taking just over an hour to cook, just test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.  I use Pamela's Gluten Free Artisan Flour.

Pecan Topping
1 heaping cup of chopped pecans
1/4 cup Pamela's Gluten Free Flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbl. cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, diced

Cut all of the ingredients into a medium bowl with a pastry cutter or your hands.  Spread evenly on top of coffee cake batter.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I'm b-a-c-k!

Things have been crazy.  We've moved to a new town, bigger job, more for the kids to do, closer to big city, rehomed our dog, and getting ready to be empty nesters.  Living 45 minutes from a beach has squashed my landlocked syndrome.  We're also 2 hours closer to the town we both grew up in.  No snow, no marathon long heat waves(seriously, the last few days have been the hottest and we can still open up in the evening, and no mega fires like the Rim Fire which kept us indoors for a month, school closed for a whole week, stores had to close, etc....  And we are eating SO much better again being in the Central Coast.  We were commenting how there is food EVERYWHERE.  We ate at a Farm 2 Table restaurant last night, came out and realized they weren't flowers adorning the front planters, they were tomato plants.  Wondered if they were there instead of the complimentary breath mints ;)

So, my first blog post in over a year?  A recipe of course!!!  2 years ago I went gluten free, I won't go into all the details, it was not for weight loss(although that was a nice perk), but in the end we discovered I'm allergic to wheat.  So, I got tired of making one meal for me, a meal for the family, and wasting so much time.  No, I don't force my family to eat gluten free, but they don't miss it when I do sub a meal or dessert, and they don't mind being test tasters.  And eating gluten free here is SO easy!  Veggies and fruits are way cheaper than the Sierras, we even have a farm fresh produce store just blocks from me.  So, here's a sample of a gluten free meal that doesn't miss anything.  Now if I can stop the family from asking me if it's gluten free.  Uh, duh.  I've been doing this for over 2 years now, if I eat wheat children, you will know!  RME

Tri-tip, rubbed with Santa Maria Style Dry Rub, hubby cooked it to perfection.

I call them California Beans.  It's close to the Santa Maria Style beans I grew up with that did not have tomato and chili in them.  So, I pulled this out of a hat, I was more than happy with the results.

Sorry about the presentation.  I really wasn't planning on snapping one, except to make my son jealous who is out of town.  But then as we ate, we were all silent because it turned out so wonderful and I knew I had to write this one up.
(Tri-tip, Pico de Gallo, California Beans, GF Udi's rolls with garlic butter)

Santa Maria Dry Rub
3 Tbsp Kosher salt
3 Tbsp finely ground black pepper
3 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp. cayenne
3 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dry rosemary (or fresh, finely minced)
2 teaspoon dry sage

Jen’s California Beans
2 lbs. small red or pinquito beans, cleaned, soaked overnight
4cups beef stock
1 Tbsp. each:  ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder

1 lb. cooked ground beef
1 lb. cooked ground Italian sausage
1 lb. cooked chorizo
2 Tbsp. each: minced dry garlic and onion
1-2 Tbsp. kosher salt(to taste, don’t blame me if it’s bland or too salty)
1 Tbsp. Santa Maria Dry Rub
¼ cup balsamic vinegar or whiskey

Sort and rinse beans and put in large stock pot on stove.  Cover with at least 6” hot water.  Bring to a boil with lid on for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and do not remove lid.  Let sit overnight.

Drain beans in large colander and rinse.  Add to a crockpot that will hold at least 8 qts.  Cover with beef stock to cover beans 2”.  Add ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder.  Cook on High 4-5 hours.  Add cooked meats, dry garlic and onion, salt to taste,  Santa Maria Dry Rub seasoning, and balsamic vinegar or whiskey(or both).  Cook another 3 hours on low.  Add more beef stock if there is not enough liquid as you check periodically. 

Pico de Gallo
Fresh diced tomatoes
Fresh Minced Onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh cilantro

Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Mix it all together, that's it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beach Bags

I bought this fabric months ago, I just had to have these cute little snorkeling turtles.  I figured I'd come up with something soon enough.  And I did!  When I saw this PATTERN at Jillilly Studio I knew exactly what I was going to do.  The turtles are Timeless Treasures Michael Searle Sea Turtles and Clothworks Waterlilies collection.  The pattern was very easy and fast.  I ended up not using different fabrics for the pockets, but I think they still turned out too stinkin' cute.  We're ready for the beach.

Those are the ginormous beach towels/bath sheets in there with room to spare.  The drawstring does come up over the top, I just scrunched it down so you could see it.  My mom wants me to make one for her with winery fabric for a silent auction for her high school reunion.  I see tons of uses for these bags, including a picnic bag!  I can see a blanket in there and plenty of room for goodies and utensils.  Seriously cute bag.  Thank you Jill Finley for this PDQ Pattern!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crockpot Mashed Potatoes

5lbs. peeled white potatoes(if you use red or golden then they taste better if you leave the skins on)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup butter, cubed
Salt & Pepper, a few red chili flakes, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1 Tbl. minced dried onions

Spray the crockpot with non-stick spray.  Add potatoes and pour chicken broth/stock over them.  Put the butter over the top randomly, sprinkle generously with salt(about 2 tsp.) and pepper, sprinkle the red pepper flakes over and the minced onion.  Cook on High for 4 1/2 hours.

Mash potatoes with a masher, adding in
milk as needed(about 2 cups)
1/4 cup butter(or more)
1 stick of cream cheese(1 8oz. package)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
more salt and pepper to taste

Turn off or on "warm" until ready to serve.

Note:  I've seen several recipes online and this is just the way I ended up doing the mashed potatoes.  They can get "dense" so just add a little more milk and/or butter and mash again.  But the more you mash them up the stickier and starchier they will get.  And if you add sour cream to dishes that are too hot, it will curdle and look disgusting. Purely eye appealing reason for why I opt not to add the sour cream, they're still fine though.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Drunken Wild Rice and Devil Chicken (Slow Cooker, Gluten-Free)

Have you tried a dish that made you dream about it?  The kind that you can't get out of your head until you get to eat it again?  Mushroom Risotto does that to me.  

I was throwing together some wild rice, chicken pieces, onions, etc.... into the slow cooker yesterday, and wowzers!  It filled the fill.  And, surprisingly, NO mushrooms.  So, this is what happens when you combine 2 recipes into one.   Don't judge, the alcohol cooks out, and the flavor, the FLAVOR, cannot, mmmmmmmmm. Leftovers were even better than last night.  

3 cups Bob's Red Mill Wild Rice Mix, rinsed
1 large red onion, chopped fine
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
2 Swanson Vegetable Flavor Boost Packets(if you are highly sensitive to gluten this could be a trigger)
   or Wyler's Gluten Free Vegetable bullion cubes, dissolved in a small amount of water
1 recipe SOS Mix, prepared(equals 1 can cream of chicken soup)
2 cups red wine
1 cup water
2 Tbl. minced garlic
2 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breast and thigh combo pack
Devil Chicken Spice Mixture
     2 Tbl. Paprika
     1 tsp. ground fennel seed
     1 tsp. All-Purpose Spices
     Pepper to taste

Grease the inside of slow cooker crock.  Add rice, onion, artichoke hearts, flavor boost, SOS Mix(prepared), red wine, water, and garlic.  Mix gently.  Generously rub chicken breasts and thighs with spice mixture and layer on top of rice.  Start with chicken breasts and layer thighs on top if needed.  Cook on low 8-10 hours.  

Soup or Sauce [S.O.S.] Mix
2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk3/4 cup cornstarch1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon (regular or low sodium)
2 Tbsp dried onion flakes2 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a recloseable plastic bag, mixing well.
Equal to 9 (10.5 oz) cans of cream soup.

Combine 1/3 cup with 1 1/4 cup cool water in a sauce pan.  Bring to boil stirring often, until thickened.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Where's Our Luggage?

That's the question of the day!  Still waiting for it to get back from Alaska.

Mr. D and I went on a short 2 day cruise last week.  We gave our luggage to the right person, we got on the ship and our luggage got on A ship, just not OUR ship.  Our luggage was finally found on a the other ship which was going on a 10 day cruise to Alaska.  It should dock on Wednesday(5/23) back in San Francisco and Princess assures me they will FedEx our bags straight to my house.  Crossing my fingers as I keep discovering things we're missing.

In the mean time you can follow it on the ship's bridge cam HERE.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sesame Ginger Dressing

2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup light flavored oil(I used a light flavored extra virgin olive oil)
1/3 cup raw agave syrup
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
6 drops doTerra Ginger Essential Oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a shaker or blender and mix well.  Refrigerate any unused dressing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lime & Cilantro Blender Salsa

To a Blender Add:
1 medium onion rough chopped
2 jalapeno peppers rough chopped(leave seeds if you like heat)
2 cloves garlic pressed

Pulse until finely diced or minced.

2 14.5 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 14.5 can of tomatoes with green chilies(or rotel)
1 14.5 can of Italian stewed tomatoes
2 Tbl. Brown Sugar
1-2 tsp. kosher salt(to taste)
1 generous tsp. cumin
½ tsp. red chili flakes
4 drops doTerra Lime Essential Oil
4 drops doTerra Cilantro Essential Oil(depends on taste)

Pulse and blend until you like the consistency.  Taste test of course and add more doTerra oil or spices to your liking.  This makes just over 2 qts., which still does not last long in our house.  Store in the refrigerator.

I don't have a picture yet, I will later though :)

To order doTerra oils from me, go HERE.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

UPDATED St. Patrick's Day Dinner

I remembered to take pictures this year!  I made a few tweaks and changes, but nothing major.   And I almost forgot to take a picture of the plated dinner!  Sorry about the quality.

 Corned Beef

 Remove seasoning packet, rinse, and set it aside for later.  Trim off all excess fat and rinse brisket.  Dry off with paper towel.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a dutch oven on high.  Season both sides with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Sear both sides of brisket for 8-10 minutes, or until the brisket no longer sticks to the bottom of the pan.  This ensures it's been caramelized properly.

 I have used regular and non-alcoholic beer.  This year the beer guy was stocking Amber flavored O'doul's and I asked him what the difference was.  He said he had no clue, he doesn't drink alcohol either.  LOL  So, I thought I'd give it a try.  It was a good decision.  This had a richer, yet lighter flavor.

Cut open the seasoning packets and pour in a microwave proof bowl.  I microwaved 3 times in increments of 30 seconds on high.  This helps bring out the oils from the peppercorns and mustard seeds, and everything else yummy in there.  I think I could smell fennel or caraway as well.  MMMmmmmm.  Sprinkle evenly over the bottom of a large roasting pan.  (I used foil this time just for easier clean up.)  Add a few bay leaves to the pan too.

Heat the oven to 275'.   Remove seared briskets and place over seasonings in large pan.

Pour 2 12oz. bottles of non-alcoholic beer over briskets.

 Cover with foil and place on bottom rack of oven for several hours.  When done, cut across the grain to ensure the most tender bites.  I cooked the veggies and bread below after the Corned Beef was removed from the oven.  It needs to rest anyways.

 Roasted Root Veggies
This year I tried a few new veggies.
3 peeled and diced parsnips
4 peeled and diced carrots
2 lbs. button mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, cut in half
8 cleaned and diced red potatoes
1 large, peeled, diced, sweet potato
1 large onion large diced

Add all veggies to an extra large bowl. 
Sprinkle generously with kosher salt, all purpose seasoning, dried parsley, fresh ground pepper, celery seed, and about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. 

With clean hands or gloves, toss vegetables well to coat all pieces with seasonings and oil.  Pour into a very large, deep pan sprayed with non-stick spray or coated with olive oil.  Bake at 450 for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.  


Remove outer layer of leaves and trim stem if needed.  Do not remove the core, this will hold the wedges together for baking.  Cut into 8- wedges with core still intact.  Place in a greased roasting pan.  Drizzle with a few DROPS of olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and a drizzle of the braising liquid from the Corned Beef.  Roast uncovered for 20-30 min. in a 450' oven.  (I did this at the latter part while roasting the other vegetables.)

Beer Bread:
This is the recipe I used.  LINK HERE  Because I used non-alcoholic beer I added 2 1/4 tsp. of active dry yeast and it came out beautifully.  I thought at first that I had burned the bread, however, if you drizzle the butter over the bread before baking, like the recipe calls for, it does turn a dark brown.  But, it's more of a "browned butter" flavor, vs. burned.  It's a very yummy, deep flavor.  And of course, serve with butter on the side.

Copy/Paste of the Recipe:


  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)


Prep Time: 3 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients and beer.
  3. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
  4. Pour melted butter over mixture.
  5. Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. UPDATED NOTES: This recipe makes a very hearty bread with a crunchy, buttery crust. If you prefer a softer crust (like a traditional bread) mix the butter into the batter instead of pouring it over the top.
  7. Sifting flour for bread recipes is a must-do. Most people just scoop the 1 cup measure in the flour canister and level it off. That compacts the flour and will turn your bread into a "hard biscuit" as some have described. That's because they aren't sifting their flour! If you do not have a sifter, use a spoon to spoon the flour into the 1 cup measure. Try it once the "correct" way and you will see an amazing difference in the end product.
  8. I have had many email from you kind folks about using non-alcoholic beverages instead of beer. That is fine to do but I highly recommend adding a packet of Dry Active Yeast or 2 teaspoons of Bread (Machine) Yeast so that you get a proper rise.
  9. The final result should be a thick, hearty and very tasteful bread, NOT A BRICK! ;).
  10. Thank you all for the incredibly nice comments and those of you who left a bad review - learn to sift sift SIFT! You will be amazed at the results you get.
Mustard Sauce:
SUPER easy!!!  Mix 2-3 Tbl. dijon with horseradish style mustard with 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt(non-fat versions work fine), and 1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce.  Use this to top your meat or veggies.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sunshine Breakfast Smoothie

1 Grapefruit, peeled, seeds removed
6 Cuties(mandarins), peeled
2 Bananas, peeled and cut
1 cup frozen Blackberries
1 cup frozen Raspberries
8-10 Mint Leaves
4-6 drops of doTerra Citrus Bliss

Pulse a few times and then puree.  Makes 2 large, creamy smoothies.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sewing a Perfect Seam

Blue painters tape is fantastic, but even better, Molefoam!  It gives an excellent ridge for the edge of your material.  One of my students commented that it would leave a residue behind, but if you use painters tape WITH the Molefoam there is no residue.  When sewing 1/4" seams, this is especially nice to have!

Molefoam from Walmart foot section, and this was a little thicker than what I'm used to buying, it was perfect.

Peel back the backing on the Molefoam and lay the non-sticky side of some painters tape on it.  Trim the edges and along the edge of the tape.

Stick the blue sticky side down along the guide on your sewing machine.

Put your presser foot down so you get as close to the needle as possible but without placing over the feeds.

See?  Perfect 1/4" seam.

When you're not using it, just stick it on the side of your machine.  When the tape wears out, you can just replace it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fiesta Rice Bowls

This can be done in the slow cooker, or since I was late thinking about dinner, the pressure cooker!  I have one of those nifty and cool electric pressure cookers that I use several times a week now!  Very happy with my investment.

Start cooking your rice(yes, it goes this quick).

Add to the pressure cooker:
2 lbs. cubed cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar of your favorite salsa(I used 2 cups home canned)
Cook 10 minutes on 40 psi in your pressure cooker.  If you are using a slow cooker, I'd estimate about 2 hours on high.

When pressure has been released, add:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small package frozen sweet yellow corn
1 8oz. pkg. lower fat cream cheese(do not use fat free)
Candied Jalapenos if you like, or any other additions such as olives, diced chilies, etc....
Bring pressure back up to 40psi and cook another 10 minutes.  Release pressure and stir well.  Keep on warm until ready to serve.

Serve over brown or white rice with toppings such as shredded cheese, hot sauce, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, green onions, crushed chips, etc....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Dip

I took this to a Christmas party for my husband's work and I got many compliments and requests.  It's a combination of 2 recipes that I tweeked.

1 lb. block cheddar cheese
1 8 oz. Jar Cowboy Candy(candied jalapenos), undrained
2 8oz. packages Neufchatel Cream Cheese
1 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
4 Tbl. Whipping Cream
Kosher Salt to taste
2 tsp. Sriracha Sauce(more or less depending on heat preference)
1 tsp. garlic powder(or 1 clove garlic crushed)

Crumb Topping
2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 stick(1/2 cup) melted, but not hot, Butter

Preheat oven to 350'.  Spray the blade and inside of the food processor with non-stick spray(this just makes things easier, you can skip if you like).  Cut up cheese into 1" pieces and chop in food processor until finely grated.  Remove 3/4 cup  and set aside.  Dump in undrained jar of Cowboy Candy, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and whipping cream.  Process/pulse until jalapenos are diced but not pureed.  Add salt, garlic powder, and taste!  It is good cold too(without the topping)!  Add Sriracha Sauce to taste and combine.  Spray 2 qt. casserole dish with non-stick spray  and add cheesy mix or divide between 2 1 qt. casserole dishes and set aside.  In another bowl melt 1 stick of butter on high 30 seconds, it probably won't melt entirely,  and that's just perfect.  Add Panko bread crumbs and cheddar cheese.  Mix with a fork until the mixture resembles an even crumbly mixture.  Spread over cheese mixture evenly and bake 15-25 minutes on bottom rack.  If the top is not browned, cook another 5-10 minutes on the top rack so it will brown underneath the heat element.  Do not over cook or the mayonnaise can separate from the cream and then it looks like a big greasy soupy mess.  Serve with chewy bread slices or crackers. 

The original recipe can be found HERE

If you don't have Cowboy Candy on hand(which you are seriously missing out on then!), you can use 2 4oz. cans diced chilies and add some fresh chopped jalapenos. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Cobbler

I didn't measure the ingredients, so feel free to splurge a little if you like cinnamon a little more, or want to add ginger or vanilla.  It's an easy recipe to play with and hard to go wrong.  

3lbs. apples, peeled/cored/sliced*
2 Tbl. cornstarch
2 Tbl. lemon juice
1-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup(maple, agave, or brown rice would also work)

1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups brown sugar
1 stick(1/2 cup) cold butter
1/3-1/2 cup chopped dry roasted salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350'.  Spray the bottom and sides of a deep 9x13" baking pan with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl, coat apples evenly with lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, & sugar.  Spread apples evenly in baking pan.  Spray a small microwave proof bowl or measuring cup with non-stick spray.  Pour in Golden Syrup and peanut butter.  Microwave on high 30 seconds and stir until smooth.  Drizzle evenly over apple slices.  In a large bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, peanuts, and cold butter cut into small pieces.  Use a pastry blender to cut butter into the mixture until resembling fine crumbs.  Spread evenly over apples and peanut butter mixture.  Bake 45 minutes.  Then cover loosely with foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Let cool and serve over vanilla ice cream or with whipping cream.

* I used a mix of Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples, yum!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn Part 1

You're safe, no spoilers, I don't want to ruin all the fun.  And that's exactly what it is, FUN!  I've gone to the midnight showing of all four Twilight movies now because it is SO fun.  The books became a great way to find something common with my oldest daughter.  And then the youngest, well, she refused to read them.  However she  did manipulate me somehow to pay her $1 per chapter for Twilight, which was the exact amount she needed saving up for something she wanted.  It had no everlasting psychological effects though, she hasn't read the other ones, yet.  She is however hooked on seeing the movies.  Last night was no exception, it was a blast watching it in a movie theater filled with all the energy and excitement.

I bought my tickets the first part of November and we were supposed to be in Stadium 10.  At that time the cashier told us there were 60 seats sold in 1 and 45 in 10, but last night they had to open up more and it just gets busier and busier with every showing.  So, we ended up being in Stadium 8 with mostly high school/college kids.  Just a few of us moms.  Along with extra showings came extra boys.  When Twilight came out I noticed a handful of men, not teenage boys(they're kind of dumb that way).  The men were also googly eyed over the women they were with.  Smart.  (Hoping the hubby gets a hint before the BD.2 comes out)  But last night, the boys were out to be goofballs.  It's no biggie, it's expected, they're in school with the girls all day anyways, and it's kind of a party atmosphere.  However, I really could have done without the loud fart sound at the end of the movie while we're all hushed in anticipation of something we all knew was coming.  I giggled at the fart last night with the rest of the audience, but this morning I'm irritated, maybe it's because I'm still tired.  Girls, leave your "boys" at home.  Women, your mature dates are welcome.  

Now, having visually wet noodle slapped those boys, did I take this movie seriously?  No.  I thought it was a big can of cheese whiz, but so was the book!  It was fun, I wondered how these scenes would play out.  Taylor has uh, well, he's gotten older and I don't feel as bad now getting a few pitter pats when he's walking around with a tight shirt on.  He was more covered up this time, and it didn't matter, the kid is still going to rule the screens, watch.  Kind of the same way Benjamin Bratt took off.  Oh, yeah, I told myself I wasn't going to even bother with Private Practice this year, but then I decided I really need to watch the Bratt every week.  The acting did get MUCH better with this film.  Forget Team Jacob or Team Edward, I'm Team Charlie now that I've seen him in a tux.  ;)  Besides, Jacob and Edward are definitely taken.

I can't wait for Part 2.  Bella is supposed to come back and kick some...."booty".  And I will be there at midnight with bags under my eyes and $ store candy in my purse(I forgot it last night though!).  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home Canned Apple Pie Filling

18 cups(about 6 lbs.) peeled, cored, sliced apples
3 cups white granulated sugar
1-1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup corn starch
1 Tbl. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground all spice
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 64 oz. bottle unsweetened apple juice or cider
2 cups water
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract(or 1 tsp. double strength)
1 drop doTerra Ginger Essential Oil
1 drop doTerra Wild Orange Essential Oil
7 Quart Sized Jars with disks and rings for canning

Peel apples.  Segment peeled apples using an apple corer/wedger* and place in a large bowl with water and lemon juice(1/4 cup per 4 cups cool water), set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil to blanch apple wedges for one minute, 6 cups at a time.  Set aside apples in another large bowl and keep warm(I just covered with a towel).  In a very large pot combine sugars, cornstarch, dry spices, and whisk.  Add apple juice or apple cider, lemon juice, and water and bring to a boil.  When it starts to thicken add apple wedges and cook another 5-10 minutes until thick and apples are heated through.  Turn off heat and stir in vanilla, and essential oils.  Ladle apples and syrup into sterilized hot jars, leaving 1" head space.  Run a chopstick or canning tool through to remove bubbles.  Wipe rims and add disks and rings.  Process 25 minutes, or as recommended based on your altitude.  Remove and let cool overnight.  If any have not sealed within one hour, refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

Recipe yields 6-7 quart jars.  One quart for a 9" pie plate.

Do not use if seal breaks, if lid is bulging, or it smells.  A few of my jars oozed pie  filling a little while processing, but my canning expert friend assures me this is okay so long as they seal properly.  Just wipe down any residue being careful not to break any seals.  All but one sealed properly.  Oh darn, if we MUST make a pie.

Whisk sugar, corn starch, and dry spices before adding apple juice/cider, lemon, and water.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Healthy Cherries Gracias Frozen Yogurt

I love Greek Yogurt, specifically plain Greek Yogurt.  It's rich in flavor and tastes so good with just an add-in or two.  I had quite a bit, forgetting I had already stocked up so I needed to do something with it.  I decided to try make Frozen Yogurt and this is what I came up with.

2 cups Frozen Dark Cherries
1/2 cup Apple Juice(not cocktail)
1/4 cup sugar(optional, you can also try your favorite non-calorie sweetener or honey)

1/2 cup each White & Dark Chocolate Chips, finely chopped
2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste
3 cups Plain Greek Yogurt

In a small saucepan combine cherries, apple juice, and sugar(optional).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring and smashing frequently until it is reduced about 1/2.  Let cool slightly and process in small food processor or blender until almost smooth.  You're just trying to make sure there are no large pieces of skin.  Allow to cool, refrigerate to speed this along.  In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, chocolate chips, vanilla, and cooled mixture.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to overnight.  Add to ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.  Optional:  Add toasted slivered almonds, additional dark chocolate chunks, or brownie pieces the last 5 minutes of mixing ice cream.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Apple Cranberry Sauce

I read a description online of a gourmet shop with these ingredients, well, almost all of them.  Hers called for Allspice, I used Ginger instead.  I of course had no measurements, but I tried to keep track so I could replicate this again in case we liked it.  We REALLY liked it!  And it's a gorgeous color too.

I used a 20 qt. large stock pot I believe.

Granny Smith Apples(approx. 20 medium size)
Fuji Apples (8 large size)
4 limes, juiced(microwave for 30 seconds first)
2-4 cups water(depends on how thick you like it)
1 bag fresh cranberries

sugar(optional, I thought 3 cups was perfect)

1 Tbl. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt

2-3 drops doTerra Wild Orange Essential Oil

Add 2 cups water and lime juice to large stock pot.  Peel, core, slice, and quarter or half apples.  Add the apples to the pot stirring often so that all of the apples are coated with the lime juice.  They cook down as you keep adding so you can add more than you think you will be able to fit.  If you need more water, add as necessary.  Rinse and pick through the bag of cranberries for any questionable berries and toss the gross ones.  When the pot is filled about half way, add the prepared cranberries.  Add remaining apples.  Stir and stir until all of the apples are tender and the berries are done popping.  Remove from heat and using a long handled immersion blender blend until smooth, or your desired consistency.  Bring back to a low rolling boil/simmer.  Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and taste.  Add sugar if you desire to your liking.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add doTerra Wild Orange Essential Oil and mix very well.

If you are canning:  Remove sterilized jars and fill one at a time while mixture is still slightly bubbling after the low rolling boil for 5 minutes.  Top with sealing disc and tighten with ring just until tightened.  Process in boiling water with rack for 25 minutes(I'm at 2,600 ft, so you'll have to check your elevation requirements).  Remove jars and set on towel to remain undisturbed for 24 hours.  Check the sealing discs though after 1-2 hours to verify all jars have been sealed by gently pushing down in center.  This yielded 7 1qt. jars.

If you are not canning, this would be great in the freezer as well.  Use this sauce as a yogurt mixin or topping for ice cream.  Or just plain like in my old book.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Individual Chicken Pot Pies


4 cooked chicken breasts, cooked & diced 
2 cans 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1/2 container of Philadelphia Creme Original Flavor
8oz. fat free half n half(or whipping cream for really rich sauce)
1 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 1/2 cups chopped frozen veggies, thawed(leftovers are perfect)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 Tbl. Parsley
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 minced garlic clove

3 packages Pillsbury Grands Butter Biscuits

Makes 12.  Mix all of the ingredients, except the biscuits(duh), in a large bowl.  Add more liquid as needed, I added a little of the squash soup from last night(sneaky).  Spray 2 large muffin pans(mine only has 6 spots in each) with non-stick spray.  Flatten 12 biscuit dough and shape into muffin tins.  Fill dough with chicken and cheese mixture.  Separate 6 biscuits in half and flatten slightly.  Top each tin and slightly press into tin.  Don't worry about them sealing too much.  Bake at 375' for 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot.  

*I had 6 biscuits left over and some chicken mixture so I used the leftovers in a small casserole dish for 2.  I pressed the dough together, using 4 biscuits for the crust and 2 for the top.  Baked for 25-30 minutes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Curry Butternut Squash Soup

1 Large Onion, diced
4 Whole Cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Tbl. Butter
1 Tbl. Coconut Oil

S&B Hot Curry Sauce, 2 pieces*
1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, & cubed into 1" pieces
4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 Can Cannelini Beans, undrained
Vegetable or Chicken Stock
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Sour Cream, Plain Greek Yogurt, Toasted Coconut, Toasted Almonds, Croutons, etc....

Put diced onion, garlic, butter, and coconut oil in large slow cooker sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  DO NOT use slow cooker bags you will need the immersion blender and it will shred your bag and ruin your recipe(yucky plastic soup, no thank you).  Turn the slow cooker on high and cover for one hour, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and beginning to brown.  Add apples, squash, curry squares, beans, red pepper flakes, and just enough stock to come up to the bottom of the top layer of squash cubes.  Cook on high for 5-6 hours, until squash is very tender.  Turn slow cooker off, fish out the garlic cloves and discard.  Use the immersion blender to puree until smooth, or use blender in batches.  I prefer the immersion blender to avoid burns.  Return to slow cooker to warm until ready to eat.  Serve with a variation of toppings.

*There are 5-4 squares/rectangles per package.  I found 2 to be the perfect heat, and I like things hot.  So, you may want to start off with one square and add the other after taste testing, they do dissolve pretty fast.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mushroom Risotto

This was dinner tonight.  I missed the photo because we just couldn't wait to dig in.

2 1oz. packages dried mushroom blend, or your favorites*, chopped
4 Tbl. butter or reserved bacon grease
1 medium onion, diced
2 8oz. packages sliced, cremini mushrooms
2 cloves crushed garlic
splash of olive oil
fresh ground pepper
kosher salt, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
2 cups arborio rice
2 bottles non-alcoholic beer(you can us regular beer if you don't mind)
5 cups good beef stock(or use veggie broth)
3-4 cups reserved liquid from re-hydrating mushrooms

Grated Parmesan Cheese and sliced green onions or parsley for toppings.

Get all of your ingredients together, because you do not want to step away once you start this.  Trust me.  You need approximately 9-10 cups of liquid.  Feel free to half this, but I promise, this will be devoured quickly.  Pour 4 cups boiling water over dried mushrooms and set aside, allow to re-hydrate for 20 minutes, at least.  Heat a very large deep frying pan and add bacon grease or butter and a splash of olive oil(to prevent burning).  Add onion and cover, reduce temperature, and cook stirring often until translucent.  Drain mushrooms, reserving the liquid.  Measure 4 cups and add to a medium saucepan.  Add hydrated mushrooms and fresh mushrooms, garlic, a large pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Mix well and cover, reduce heat if needed.  Cook, stirring often until fresh mushrooms cook down and reduce in size.  Add beef stock to mushroom stock in a saucepan and heat to boil and then turn to low for simmering.  Add uncooked arborio rice to mushroom mixture and stir until rice is coated and edges start to turn translucent.  Add one bottle of beer and stir until it is absorbed.  Add second bottle of beer and stir until it is absorbed again.  Add beef/mushroom stock, one cup at a time stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed.  Repeat until all liquid is incorporated.  Add more kosher salt and pepper to taste as needed.  Cover and let rest 3-5 minutes.  Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and sliced green onions.

* The blend I used has porcini, shitake, morel, oyster, and lobster mushrooms from Monterey Mushrooms
**The non-alcoholic beer goes better with beef stock than the white wine I had on hand.  I've also made this using red wine though and it's seriously delish!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup

Mise en Place
(Unfortunately my camera died before I could take any more pics.  Email me or leave a comment if the directions aren't clear.)

I've never liked French Onion Soup, I've just never found one that didn't taste like canned beef broth.  So I decided to try THIS recipe. It's fall and I love my husband, and it's relatively healthy.  I followed the recipe pretty darn close, except, I used beef stock I had reserved in my freezer and some from our pot roast last night.  It's a lot of beef stock.  But well worth it.  I used non-alcoholic beer(2 bottles for tasty measure) so it has great flavor.

I tweaked the bread slightly.  First, toast the bread under the broiler for a few minutes on each side.  This helps prevent the bread from becoming instantly gummy.  Spread one side lightly with one clove of roasted garlic.  I made 2 bulbs of roasted garlic today and they spread like "buttah".  Ladel some soup into the bowl, then plop the toasted bread garlic side up on top of the Onion Soup.  Place a slice of Swiss Cheese or sprinkle generously with grated Gruyere.  It's okay to overlap.  Broil for 2-3 minutes, until cheese starts to bubble and brown.  Serve very carefully as bowl will be very hot.

This would be a FANTASTIC get together dish.  Just toast up the bread as above, on a cookie sheet with the garlic and cheese.  Leave on a side plate for people to top their soups as they dish it up.  (We had a funky schedule tonight with meetings and sports, so I did this for the kiddos that came home later, it worked)

Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup
(adapted from

makes 8-10 servings
4 med. sweet onions, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup of butter, sliced into pats
2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 bottles non-alcoholic beer(such as O'Doul's)
8 cups GOOD beef stock
1 Tbl. dried thyme
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon kosher salt
Sourdough or French bread(stale works best)
gruyere cheese, sliced or grated
Add onions, garlic, brown sugar, butter, salt and balsamic and mix until combined in a large slow-cooker. Cover and let cook on high for 60-90 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes, until onions are translucent and brown on the edges and just caramelized. Sift in flour and stir thoroughly, let sit for 5 minutes with lid on. Sprinkle in Thyme, fresh ground pepper, beer, and stir well.  Add in remaining beef stock, and cover.  Cook on high for 4 hours, then turn down to low and cook an additional 2-4 hours.  
Slice sourdough or French bread into 1" thick slices.  Arrange on non-stick cookie sheet and toast each side under broiler.  Leave door open slightly and watch closely so they don't burn.  Remove from oven and spread each slice with  one clove of roasted garlic.  Fill soup bowls almost to the top, cover with slice of bread and a handful of grated cheese or slice. Set under the broiler for 2-3 minutes(leave door open so you can watch carefully), or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Be careful when serving as bowls will be hot!  Sprinkle with fresh parsley or fresh thyme.  

Monday, September 19, 2011


I need to kick this up a bit.  This is how I cook:  I find a recipe, or read the title of the recipe, and go from there. When it comes to baking, I make sure I have equal dry/wet ingredients, but often improvise.  For example, a recent recipe I read called for a whopping 1 1/4 cups oil.  Holy cow that's a lot when the rest is pretty healthy, so I swapped out 1 cup non-fat greek yogurt and used 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil.  Gave the muffins a sweeter and denser taste, and healthier oil.  I experiment without deviating too far from the recipe most of the times.  And many times a recipe or menu just sound good and I don't even follow a recipe, but I use what I have on hand or turn my kitchen into a lab and experiment until I come up with something I'm satisfied with.  I'm fairly good at making recoveries and preventing epic fails.  I love Chopped, Challenge, and Iron Chef. If you'd like to challenge me to turning my kitchen into Kitchen Stadium, success or fail, I'll post it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pear, Carrot, & Ginger Muffins

1 cup Egg Substitute or 4 Whole Large Eggs
1 cup Non-fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt(or plain)
1/3 cup Coconut Oil or Canola Oil
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tbl. Gourmet Garden Ginger(or jarred)
1 Tbl. Vanilla

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Kosher Salt

3 medium size Pears, finely diced
2 cups Grated Carrot

Preheat oven to 350' and line 2 12 count cupcake pans with paper liners, or spray generously with non-stick spray.  Combine wet ingredients(first 6) in a medium bowl with wire whisk, set aside.  Combine dry ingredients(next 6) in a large bowl with another wire whisk.  Create a well in the center and add wet ingredients with large rubber spatula, just until mixed.  Add pears and carrots and combine gently.  Divide into 24 muffin liners and bake 18-23 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Serve warm with maple butter.

I love baking quick breads and muffins using the egg substitutes because they bake up higher and fluffier.  And the added benefits of being low or fat free and a much healthier choice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spicy Apricot BBQ Sauce

2 pounds apricots, pitted and halved
  1 14.5oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, do not drain
  1 sm. can tomato paste
  3 cups brown sugar
  1 ½   cup cider vinegar
  1 onion, chopped finely
  1 jalapeno, diced small, seeds removed based on heat pref.
  3 cloves garlic, minced
  1-2 Tbl. Kosher salt
  ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  Pinch of red pepper flakes
  2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker, cover, cook on high 4-5 hours.  Remove lid last hour until slightly reduced.  Use immersion blender to puree. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

Half and pit apricots, and quarter each half.

Spray slow-cooker with non-stick spray, add ingredients.

Stir well, cover, and cook on high 5-6 hours.  

It looked a little too soupy so I tilted the lid to vent for about 1 1/2 hours.  Don't lean over the slow-cooker or you'll get a vinegar steam bath. 

Use immersion blender to puree.  
Makes approx. 6 cups.  Remove lid to let reduce down if too thin and cook down some more, it was really thick though at this point, perfect!

Yummy over chicken, or anything.