Monday, February 25, 2019

Friday, October 6, 2017

Latest Project

I started working at a high school last year as the Attendance Secretary and Admin Assistant to the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director.  I LOVE that job!  An opportunity came up to master another aspect and I began the 2017-18 school year as the Registrar because the previous Registrar moved over as the Athletic Secretary(thank goodness she's still nearby to answer all my questions).  We just got done with our fall break and I had a project in mind that I just had to do.  I couldn't wait to get started.  I'd painted a wall in our home similar to this one(it's somewhere here on the blog).  But I had shelves and family photos in mine.  So the AS rearranged her office as well and now we're working on a project to upgrade her office as well.  When the new Assistant Principal said, "You can paint if you want," she had no idea what she was offering.  I moved the filing cabinets that were against that wall across the room with the rest of the bank of them.  There will be a table for new families to sit around in front of the wall.  I just feel when you're welcoming new students to school, their first room should not look like a record room, but should be welcoming.  I have a map of major colleges and universities that as I send transcripts out I'm going to poke a flag pin into the school.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Four Years!

One of my new favorite things:

I searched their website and all of the products listed are Gluten Free except for the Hak's Thai Chili Tamarid Sauce.  These dressings are awesome and perfect for your purse when eating out and not knowing if you can have their dressing or sauce.

Chopped Chicken, a handful of dried cranberries, some slivered almonds, pepper, a shake of onion powder, chopped red bell pepper, a few Tablespoons Best Foods mayo, and one packet of hak's spicy thai salad dressing.  

Combine.  Serve with jicama chips or lettuce leaves(endive are great for dipping!).

Four Years of  GLUTEN FREE living!  I hope this doesn't turn you off right away, this isn't one of those gluten is evil, gluten makes you fat, gluten is of the devil posts.  Nope.  Just, "This isn't nearly as hard or as weird as people think!" posts.

Why?:  Dr. Oz(I'm not a fan) came on and I couldn't get to the remote to change it for a bit because I was in the middle of something, which I'm glad now happened.  The lead in was about surprising symptoms why you might be gluten intolerant.  I do not have Celiac Disease that we know of, but it's possible, I cannot be tested, yet.  I had all of the symptoms mentioned except bloating.  My tummy seemed fine, but in hindsight, they weren't.  Couldn't lose weight(probably because every diet included adding more whole wheat and grains into your diet), lingering headaches(not migraines, but always kind of in the back of my head), arthritis, keratosis pilaris(skin) etc.....

I decided to give it a 100% attempt, give it my all, for just 2 weeks.  At the end of 2 weeks I was feeling so much better.  So I tried 2 more, and when the family and those around me said I was walking faster, had lost weight, and looked happier I knew I was going to try it until my next check up with my allergist.  At this time I was still on Xolair injections(for those with high IGE levels that triggers allergic induced asthma), Advair(the max dosage), Singulair, Claritin, Albuterol inhalers(which became ineffective due to a formula change years before), and using essential oils for allergies as well.  I realized when November came around and we were out of state for Thanksgiving, I got the flu, I had not used my rescue inhaler ONCE since I had gone gluten free.  I had been on medications for asthma and allergies since I was 18 months old.  I'm 47.  That is a LONG time to have asthma and deal with medicine.  I had been hospitalized over a HUNDRED times for asthma and pneumonias, and hundreds of ER visits, long term use of steroids that caused many painful and long term side effects that also affected the quality of my life growing up.  So, going a few days was miraculous in itself, but going 6 months?!!!!  We were onto something.

Next check up, the Dr. didn't want to change anything quite yet.  I agreed.  But he did let me go down a dosage level of the Advair.  I explained to him how I had also tried some cookie dough in a moment of weakness and been exposed to wheat again and I felt like I had been hit by a Mak truck for about a day and a half.  Every joint ached, I had a headache, I hurt ALL over.  I had tried it again 2 weeks after that, same thing, and I got itchy all over.  I have followed a wheat free diet perfectly.  I read every label, prepare food myself, or read labels(discreetly), eat before I go somewhere, and check with restaurant employees after doing my research ahead of time.  I can write a whole other post on the jokes and very not funny reactions I get from people/restaurant employees who mock this gluten free, wheat free NEED of mine.  I am NOT one of those people that demand special attention, I merely ask so I can decide if I want to chance it.

I have a pet peeve of those parents of children with food allergies that demand an entire school eat peanut free.  Let me explain.  This is MY allergy, and relying on other people to make my life safe is irresponsible.  That child will be let down by someone who is uneducated or irresponsible and have a reaction.  I grew up with other food allergies, sulphur dioxide and MSG.  Those were life threatening.  I learned very young that I am the only one who can be sure of my safety in elementary school.  I was the only child with an inhaler(which had to be left in the office at that time, we were not allowed to carry our EMERGENCY inhaler on us!).  I have had reactions when I was not careful, it was ON ME.  I would never ever try to make someone else, a party hostess, room mom, etc... ever feel bad about not providing allergy free treats or food for me.  Learning how to be free of certain ingredients is difficult and takes A LOT of study, and there is a lot of FALSE information out there!

"Rice Krispy Treats", you would think were gluten free, but there is malt added to make their texture even more appealing.  I had people close to me try to convince me they made them just for me because they were gluten free, and it sucked trying to explain to them after they put work into them just for me because they cared about me that they were still not safe and I couldn't even have "just one bite?"


There are countless sources online(only look for reliable ones though!) that can help you learn to deal with food allergies.  I keep a list of favorite places and menu items so when I'm on the go with friends and family I have a choice in an instant.  And then I ask AGAIN with the server if it is still gluten free.  Supply companies change their ingredients, restaurants change their supply companies, and they may just change things because of time or money.  Even if you order something that is known to be gluten free, just remind them, "I need this gluten free".  Certain restaurants, and even in Disney World(awesome!) will "red flag" an allergy and they may fry your french fries in a dedicated fryer that does not share with items like battered chicken, etc....  Disney World brought out my hamburger with a gluten free bun on a special colored tray and they used a dedicated fryer on the opposite side of the regular fryer for my fries.  It had a special skewer in the middle of the hamburger making sure I knew it was a GF bun.  There is a lot of cross contamination, especially in sandwich shops.  I will give a shout out to Costa Vida since they are one of my new favorites.  As soon as the food preparer hears me say, "and I need this gluten free please", they put on fresh gloves, prepare the meat and corn tortilla behind the normal station, but in front of me so I can see it.  They will fix any error immediately and with a happy face.  Whoever trains these servers should be given a huge thank you.  I have never been given any grief.  (It was hectic once and they said they'd bring my salad out to me, they did, but it had a flour tortilla in the bottom instead of corn.  When I explained the order mistake they immediately started a new one without any issue whatsoever.  If "I" had stuck around to watch I would have noticed and corrected it then.  Please don't be mean to restaurant servers, ever.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Today is the 25 year anniversary of my grandpa's murder.  No arrests.  No news.  Focus on the positive.

I had some lyrics from Frozen pasted on here, about letting it go and no more fears, distance....  But yeah, not feelin' it anymore.  I've already shared how important my grandparents were to me, I've shared how much I want the @%$$%^%^  put away that did this.  It feels like no one cares.  I need closure.  I know his case continues to go forward and stay in contact with those working on it.  Majorly let down this morning to find NONE of the local news sources are sharing how horrific the anniversary of this event is to those that knew and loved grandpa.  (KSBY, KCOY, The Tribune/

Back to positives.

"Coincidences" or unusual things always seem to start up just before the anniversary.  I won't speculate why, but these reminders are almost always very sweet!  A few weeks ago my daughter was doing genealogy and we found Grandpa Frank(a veteran) and Grandma Iva's original wedding license online.  Two days ago I found a Veteran's hat in a lobby, and yesterday my daughter found another Veteran's hat alongside the road.  We turned it into Vets.  It's being reunited.  Little things that just remind me of the man who I wish was still in my life, that my husband had gotten to meet him, and that my own children would have sweet memories of.  This is also the anniversary of the first time Todd called and asked me out.  I had just gotten home and found out about my grandpa when he called so I shot him down.  But then he was like glue, and didn't leave my side.

It is also their wedding anniversary the 10th!  Happy Anniversary Frank & Iva.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I love, love, love macarons!  I loved them before I went gluten free, it’s just one of those dreamy treats I didn’t have to give up.  I tried a recipe from Pinterest for my first try, tasty, but there were some improvements to be made.  This recipe turned out perfect, and of course, I had to change it a little.
This had to be one of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received.  I was at a Christmas party for our church and I eyed a plate, the ONLY plate, of Macarons and by the time I sought out the person who brought them to ask if they were gluten free, they were gone.  I asked her how hard they were to make, and she said she’d tried several and loves them too.  The next week she brought over this recipe book because I had asked her about them.  And it wasn’t only thoughtful, but this book is AWESOME!  They have printable pdf files of templates too on a CD included in the back of the book.  SO cute!  You can buy it HERE.

Measure by weight, not volume!

Basic Recipe (my changes in BLUE)

200g powdered sugar
110g almond flour
100g egg whites aged at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
35g superfine sugar
4-6 drops lime doTerra essential oil
Dab of green food coloring paste

Measure all of the ingredients with a digital scale. 
Preheat oven to 320’ for at least 30 minutes.
Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour into a bowl together.  Combine well using a wire whisk and set aside.
In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until opaque and creamy.  Add pinch of cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Slowly add superfine sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Add food coloring his point if you choose to use it.

Fold and stir the powdered sugar/almond flour mixture into the egg whites, adding 1/3 of the mixture at a time.  The mixture will be the texture of thick cake batter, but fluffy and light.  Add the macaron mix to a piping bag with a tip #12 attached.  Pipe onto silicone mat or on parchment paper circles.  Tap the cookie sheet to release bubbles and help the mix spread out within the circles.  Allow to set 30-40 minutes(I found 20 minutes too short to leave an adequate skin).  They will get a skin and look dull.  This skin helps them rise up rather than spread out.  Turn oven down to 300’.  Bake one cookie sheet on the bottom rack at a time for 10-12 minutes, rotate the pan halfway through to allow steam to escape and evenly distribute heat.  Cookies should NOT brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Peel the cookies off of the parchment or silicone mat to finish cooling. 
Divide the cooled cookies into pairs of like sizes.  Pipe the icing into the center with enough of it to go to the ends, but not spill out.  Refrigerate overnight for best results.

2 sticks softened/room temperature(not melted) butter (I prefer salted)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ Tbl. Rum emulsion flavoring
2 tsp. almond emulsion flavoring
Beat all of the ingredients in a large mixer bowl on high for several minutes.  Scrape the bowl as needed.  Add more milk or powdered sugar to get a thick consistency.  Cover and let sit 15 minutes and beat again.  A cake decorator taught me if you did this then you don’t have to sift the sugar. 

Lime Curd:
½ cup sugar
Zest of 3 limes
½ Cup Fresh lime juice
4 egg yolks(now you get to use those egg yolks up.
Pinch of salt
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup white chocolate chips

Whisk all of the ingredients except the butter and chocolate chips in a small saucepan.  Over very low heat, bring to a simmer whisking the entire time.  It will thicken up as it begins to bubble while still stirring.   After it’s thick, remove from heat and add white chocolate chips.  Stir until they are completely melted and incorporated.  Allow to cool until just warm enough to melt butter.  Add 1 Tbl. of butter at a time and incorporate all of the butter. I didn’t like the look of orange yolk color with the specks of green zest so I added some green food coloring.   Set aside until cool.
When the Lime Curd is cool, add 1/2-3/4 cup to Buttercream Icing and mix well.  Spoon icing mix into a piping bag with another #12 tip. 

Prepare your cooled cookies to fill with icing by pairing them up with like sizes and shapes.  Turn one of the pair over and pipe icing into the center. 

Refrigerate cookies in a tightly sealed or covered container overnight for best results. 

One of my experiments was too ugly to photograph, but yummy enough to gobble up, lavender macarons with lemon icing.  There are countless variations, but I'm partial to anything with citrus in it.  You can even add mashed berries to icing, or even mascarpone cheese/pudding mix(you need something help it stay together).


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Birthday Ally!

photo session

My wedding

Our first cruise

Our first cruise

My little squishy


What I'm sharing is sacred to me.

Some days, I just need my sister.  I know she’d know what to do, I need her patience, and humor.  I’m the big sister, and I rarely admitted I needed her.  We fought like sisters do, but when we got along, we got along and laughed and nearly(okay, maybe sometimes did) pee our pants(a little).  Her laugh was contagious and even if I was pissed off at her, she’d still make me laugh because she was so funny.  She laughed at herself, she made people feel comfortable and like they were the most important people to her, and she found a way to make a personal connection with everyone she met, like an inside joke only shared between the two.  She wasn’t afraid to be goofy or to dish it back if you gave her crap.  She gave everyone multiple chances, she didn’t understand the word, “grudge”.  She also loved people something fierce.  She was your cheerleader and blocker all in one.  She wasn’t competitive so she was self-motivated.  She backed you up, hated drama and bickering, and wasn’t afraid to walk away from friends when they were fighting without picking sides.  And then it was like it never happened.  She was quick to forgive and forget.  She was super excited to finally pass big sis up in height, shoe, and bra size.  The hair was always bigger with adequate amounts of hair spray, lots of blonde, fluffy hair.

On September 25, 2013, I took my oldest daughter to the airport to serve a mission for our church.  On our way we had to stop at the Stake President’s office for her to be officially set apart as a full-time missionary.  It was about 6:30 so it was cold.  We all went into the office and met with him and talked about missionary work, and I kind of expected Ariel to change her mind.  But, something very special happened while the Stake President began the prayer.  We all had our arms folded and eyes closed.  I literally felt like there were people walking into the room, I could even see the room grow brighter through my closed eyelids.  I opened them to peek and it was still just us.  No one else was looking up like they felt the same thing I did.  But I closed my eyes again and I could feel the warmth of hands on my shoulders, I recognized them.  They were Ally’s, and a very calm, peaceful sentence came into my mind, “I’ve always been with them.”  I knew she was my childrens’ guardian angel.  I know those that pass on visit, but I felt she rarely left.  It was an instant, almost tangible event.  I hadn’t even been thinking about Ally having been so wrapped up in getting Ariel prepared to leave and the talks, open house, and final details that needed to be done before she left.  That experience left me nearly speechless for the next few hours.  We pulled over to an empty lot before we pulled up to the gate to give final hugs and take a picture.  Then when we pulled up to the gate she got her bags and left us.  Just walked right in through those glass doors with a big smile and a few tears.  I expected her to run back and jump in and scream, “Go!  Go!  Go!  I changed my mind.  Go!” 

I sat silently while we made our way back home and typed up my experience that happened that morning right away.  I finally told Todd through tears and he said he realized I was processing something big, but he hadn’t had those same feelings.  I started an email to Ariel to tell her about my experience too but didn’t send it.  About a week later I sent it and finally got a response from Ariel.

“Man do i have a lot to tell you. I hope i can get it in in this short time. Where do i start though? Okay so last friday and saturday were kind of rough. I dont know what was going on. Sister Meredith and i both felt like something was up. We discussed it and Decided that i should get a blessing so i asked Elder Yates to give me a blessing. He was scared and i wasn’t sure why. But anyways so that night i got a blessing and in the blessing i heard exactly what i needed to hear. Then at the end of the blessing elder Yates said something along the lines of " Your family and friends in spirit paradise are watching over you. They love you and are proud of you" Yeah i was already crying and then i burst into tears. Poor Sister Meredith had no idea what was going on. Then i explained the whole thing about you feeling the room fill up when i got set apart. So Saturday night after that we went home and of course we cried and Sister Meredith was in tears to.  It was special though and exactly what i needed to hear.”

I wondered later if friends of ours, 2 young girls who were killed in a train accident shortly before were there as well.  Ally would be kindred spirits with Kelsea and Savannah.  Really, if they were in school together, I know they’d be hanging out together.  Ariel had befriended their mom, Jayna, after they passed and she was like a 2nd mom to Ariel.  I ALWAYS felt blessed to have Ariel spend so much time there, never jealous.  I felt like, I like to daydream, that Ally sent Ariel to Jayna because she knew how awful losing a child is and Ariel seemed to inherit Ally’s traits.  Ariel seemed to have a way of showing up at Jayna’s at the just the right moment.  Ally has been influencing my family all this time.   

Eric is much more like me than Ally.  But he has her way of making you also feel important and making a personal connection.  Also like Ally, Casey knows how to laugh at himself.  His laugh is contagious, you get him on a roll, and you forget what you were laughing about because his laugh is funny in itself.  Kenzie is also influenced by Ally in her passion for a particular style.  Not Ally’s style, but that girl knows exactly what she likes and doesn’t like.  She came up with a design of a building that brought goosebumps.  Ally used to dream of and drew up plans for a building with a dance studio for each of us, a craft studio, a daycare, and more.  Something I think she envisioned in downtown SLO and she said I was in charge of all the interior design and architecture.  Kenzie came up with something too, including a theatre.  She also will simply walk away from her friends when they’re fighting and come back to them when they’re done.  She’s also the funny one, you don’t expect it and she’ll deliver a doozy and just get you with her sarcasm.  Improv and theatre are her outlets.  And she is the queen of improv, commanding the stage as soon as she walks out. 

She was my roomie for nearly 17 years.  I recall our finally getting our own bedrooms but every other month we’d put the beds and clothes all in one and make the other room a play room.  Then we’d move the beds back to have our own rooms again, and the cycle went on and on.  Decorating and rearranging was the best part.  Those beds are matching captains beds that our grandpa made for us.  My kids STILL use them.  I got to celebrate 17 of her birthdays with her.  And she cried when people sang Happy Birthday to her. 

I don’t have to go to the cemetery to feel her.  She isn’t there.  She’s right here with me whenever I look into my kids’ eyes.  When I watch them just being themselves.  When I need her.  When I am doing the things that make me a better woman.  I can also feel her in my home, where we laugh and do things that families do.  When I’m watching a movie.  When I’m eating raw bell peppers, which I never used to like.  When I see my kids’ friends do silly things together, TP’ing, playing at the school park at night, making posters for firemen who saved our town, trying on goofy outfits in the stores, and on our trip to Hawaii.  So many special times that I know she’s still influencing my family.    

I miss the girl time she would have gotten in with my girls and I.  She was supposed to come stay with us after she would have graduated high school to help take care of our newborn.  When Ariel was just beginning to coo and smile she used to make faces and talk to a picture of Christ and one I had of Ally.  I believe the veil is very thin for children and she recognized her angel from before she came to earth.  Ally taught her all about us before she came to us and the first time she called her dad a butthead I heard Ally’s voice, that was her nickname for Todd. 

For all of you that knew Ally, I hope you write your memories down and do share them(especially the silly ones).  

Happy Birthday Bree Butt.

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!