Sunday, December 30, 2012


This year for Christmas I decided to make Tyrone's family homemade blankets. I thought of this around April of this year and started on the first one in July. But, by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I only had two of them done. So, I was a little scared. I am not a procrastinator and I usually have all of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. Since I had felt so behind I decided to do one a week up until Christmas and I was finished a week before we left for home. whew!! But they all turned out so unique and cute. This is the first one I made for my 7 year old nephew. I also made one for my 4 year old nephew but I forgot to take a picture of it.

I followed the tutorial from Pink Suede Shoes

These are the blankets I decided to make for the older niece and my in-laws. I got the tutorial for these blankets from This mamma makes stuff. Mine were on a larger scale but they turned out really cute and they are so soft. I think everyone liked their personalized blankets. I sure had a lot of fun making them and Tyrone had fun picking out all of the fabric for his family.

I have a good story about going to get the soft fabric for the back of the blankets. I thought that it would be a good idea to take a day trip to LA to get the fabric for a little bit cheaper. So, I planned out my work schedule so that I could have a day to drive up there, go shopping for the fabric and get back in time before I hit rush hour. So, I parked up in LA a little bit further away from the fabric district than I usually do. But, I figured I had a lot of time. So, I put enough change into the meter so that I could be there for an hour. Then, after I had looked around and got all the fabric that I needed, I headed back to my car. As soon as I could see my car I realized that the parking police were at my car writing me a ticket!! So, I ran over there while yelling, "That's my car!!" Needless to say, the guy just claimed that since it was already in the computer, he had to give me the ticket. I looked at the time and I was honestly a minute late! I was really angry and upset! I got in my car, looked at the ticket and it said $68!!!!! For that price, I could have just gotten the fabric locally and saved a bunch of time on the trip to LA. But, oh well. Sometimes things like that happen. It makes for a good story later.

Vegetable Christmas Tree

This Christmas tree was so fun to make and it turned out excellent! I always have the hardest time trying to figure out what to get my grandma for Christmas. Last year, I made a fruit Christmas tree so this year I decided to make a vegetable one. What else am I supposed to get my awesome 89 year old grandma??

So, to start, I got a 12 inch foam cone and I  hot glued it to a square piece of wood. I did this because the fruit and cheese are heavy and if it doesn't have a stable bottom it will topple over. Then, my sister cut out small square pieces of felt and glued them to the base of the cone so that it looked somewhat like a tree skirt and it covered up the ugly piece of wood. Then, the last thing you need to do is to wrap tin foil around the foam. Last year when I made the fruit tree I didn't do this but I think its a good idea so that the vegetables aren't coming in contact with the foam.

Cheese- use whatever type you'd like
cherry tomatoes
Christmas cookie cutters
12'' foam cone, or smaller if you'd like to make a smaller one
wooden block
hot glue gun
felt- optional
candy (to look like gifts under the tree)

Then, you can put the fruit on with toothpicks however you would like. We were planning on doing all broccoli and cauliflower as the main part of the tree and then using the cherry tomatoes and cheese as the ornaments but we realized we didn't have enough, so this is what we came up with.

Now, just something  to think about, with the cheese star on top, and the block of wood on the bottom our tree was about 17 inches high. Luckily my mom had a shelf that was adjustable so we could fit it in the fridge overnight. We then put a plastic bag over the tree and tied it so that the cheese and vegetables wouldn't dry up.
On the bottom of the paper plate, we put candy bells to make it look like ornaments and to hold down the pieces of felt hiding our block of wood. 
Now, I officially out of ideas on what to get my grandma for Christmas. Maybe I'll find another edible Christmas tree idea. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I cooked a turkey this week!!! It's probably not that big of a deal but I was  really proud of myself. And, it tasted absolutely delicious! I couldn't stop eating it and I'm not a huge fan of turkey so that's saying something.
I told a friend of mine last Sunday that I was having some people over for dinner and I was cooking a turkey and so she asked me how I was doing it. Well, I had no idea. I had never cooked one before. So, needless to say, she lent me her roasting pan, which was perfect, I don't know what I would have done without it. She also gave me a Reynold's oven bag. This was awesome because it held all of the juices in the bag instead of in the bottom of the  pan, so after the turkey was done cooking we just dumped the juice from the bag into a pan to make the turkey gravy. I am so grateful for my friend's help or it never would have turned out this good.

Here is the turkey defrosted and out of the bag. I took out the neck of the turkey but I couldn't find the innards, you know, the heart, liver, etc. So, I just assumed my turkey didn't come with that. But, after my turkey was fully cooked, I found them, under the neck cavity. So, make sure to check the body AND the neck cavitiy for giblets. In the last picture of the turkey, there is a hole in top, which shouldn't be there, this is why. the giblets were in the neck cavity and as it cooked it ripped open the skin, so that part of the turkey was a little dry, unfortunately.

1- 10-18lb turkey
1 reynolds oven bag
olive oil
fresh rosemary
fresh tyhme
salt and pepper
lemon, sliced in half

After I got it rinsed and dried, I salt and peppered the inside of the body cavity and placed half of a lemon and some fresh rosemary inside. Then, I lathered up the outside of the turkey in olive oil. I then put salt and pepper and fresh thyme on the outside of the bird and placed it into the oven bag without letting the top of the bird touch the bag. Then I tied the bag closed, put 6 slits with a knife in the top of the bag and put it in the oven which was preheated to 350 degrees. I let it cook for about 3.5 hours and when I took it out of the bag, the turkey was so tender it was falling off the bone. I tried to get a pretty picture of the turkey right out of the bag but it was so tender that it is falling apart. So, its bad for the picture part, but when you are getting ready to cut it up and serve it, you couldn't ask for anything else.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crock pot potato soup

Happy late Thanksgiving! I 'm a little late I know. Since we traveled to Arizona to celebrate Thanksgiving  this year, I didn't make anything for dinner. Last year I made a pecan pie and brought it but this year I had too many things going on. I did however buy three, 10 pound bags of potatoes. They were on sale for 99cents each. The question now is what to do with them all. So, I decided to try one of the many crock pot soup recipes I've been looking at. I tried this recipe from Hannah.  It was so easy and delicious. It does make a lot of leftovers though. I would recommend cutting the recipe in half if you are making it for two.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

5 pounds russet potatoes, diced, NOT Peeled
5 Tbsp TS Garlic Garlic  (I don't have garlic garlic so I used 2 Tbsp Garlic salt and 1 Tbsp garlic powder)
1 large onion, chopped
64 oz chicken broth or stock
16 oz cream cheese
bacon, sour cream, chives, or shredded cheese for toppings

Combine first 4 ingredients in your crock pot, cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5. Purée soup in food processor with cream cheese. (I don't have a food processor and I didn't want to use a blender so I just put the cream cheese into the crock pot and used a hand mixer. It worked great. It left a few chunks but I thought it tasted really good that way.) Serve warm topped with bacon, sour cream, shredded cheese & chives.

This recipe is pretty easy and it tastes really yummy. I was happy to find a way to use 5 of the 30 pounds of potatoes I bought.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Extreme Couponing

Have any of you seen the show Extreme Couponing? Well, lets just say I loved it and I watched every episode there was to see on Netflix and now I want to be an extreme couponer. Not seriously, but I thought that I would probably save a lot more money if I would look at the sales for the week and compare it to the coupons I have. I usually just use a few random coupons every time I go to the store. But, I decided to go to the grocery store with a plan. So, here is what I did. If any of you live in Southern California, I go to Ralphs, which I believe is a Kroger grocery store.

They have a deal, buy 5 items, get $5.00 off at the register.
So, I went to where you can print out coupons and found the items that were part of the 10 items that are already on sale.

1. marshmallows- on sale for $0.69- use coupon .50 off two bags of Kraft marshmallows
only $0.44 a bag after coupon

2. stovetop- on sale for $0.88 each- use coupon $1.00 off any 2
only $0.38 each after coupon

3. cream of chicken or mushroom soup- on sale for $0.69- use coupon save $1.00 on any 4
only $0.44 each after coupon

With some of these coupons, they say "Walmart" on them. They are manufacturer's coupons, when they print, they will not say Walmart on them and you can use them anywhere you want. Don't let it dissuade you from printing it.

One thing I learned while trying to be an "extreme couponer"... is that you can use "manufacturer's coupons anywhere. If you look at the top left corner of your coupons, they will either say manufacturer's coupon or store coupon. Sometimes coupons will print at the register when I'm at Albertson's for example and as long as they say "manufacturer's coupon at the top, I can use it at any grocery store I want. It's also nice because I get coupons in the mail from Ralph's all the time and most of them say manufacturer's coupon on the top, so they are accepted at any grocery store. One lady at the register looked at me yesterday when I handed her a coupon that said Ralph's at the bottom, but I told her it was a manufacturer's coupon and it should work so she scanned it and it worked.  YAY!!!

I don't think I'll ever have the courage to ring up a grocery bill any where near what they do on Extreme Couponing but I hope to start shopping a little smarter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PF Chang's Mongolian Beef

I absolutely love PF Chang's. I love their lettuce wraps and especially their Mongolian Beef. I decided to try a copy cat recipe. It was delicious! Leftovers were gone by Monday afternoon. This recipe was also very easy, which makes me love it even more. It didn't have any of those questionable ingredients either. You know, those ones where you wonder if you will ever use it again for anything else. So, overall it was a great recipe and I made it in just 45 minutes. I got the recipe from Six Sister's Stuff

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup water
¾ cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil , for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak
¼ cup cornstarch
2 large green onions, chopped


Heat 2 tsp. of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Don't get the oil too hot.
Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.
Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.  Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef.  Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.  As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté until brown. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.  After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels.  Dab excess oil off meat with a paper towel and add to medium saucepan with the sauce in it.  Put the pan back on the oven over medium/low heat.  Add chopped green onions and let sauce simmer until warm. Serve over rice.

I also steamed broccoli and added it on the side. You can put it into the sauce with the beef as well if you want to give it more flavor. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bow Tie Themed Baby Shower

I helped throw my first baby shower a couple of weeks ago. It was awesome. There were about 5 girls that all pitched in to help throw it. I think it turned out adorable. We had a bow tie theme. My friend Wendi made the invitations that were so darling. I meant to take a picture of my invitation but I forgot. But, you can order them here if you would like. I made baby bow tie onesies to match the gray, blue and red invitation color scheme and my friend Alicia pinned them and turned them into a banner to hang over the mantle. I made small bowties out of felt. I just used a hot glue gun. Then I sewed one snap onto the onesie and hot glued the other snap onto the bow. That way, you can unsnap the bowtie and throw the onesie in the wash. They were really simple and easy to  make. I think I might try to make more using cute fabric next time. I'll let you know how that goes.
For the food, Wendi made the food labels with the same bow tie scheme. We had, blue frothy punch, pineapple and strawberry mini skewers with fruit dip, vegetables with hummus, blue and red cupcakes and water bottles with cute bow tie paper around them. My friend Christi also made the bow tie back drop behind the table. Sorry the pictures aren't very good. There was a lot of light coming through that window. I made the fruit skewers and the fruit dip as well as the blue frothy punch. I had bought white ducks to float in the punch and I had made mini bow ties and hot glued it on their necks, but they fell off. I should have used super glue. So, we had a duckless punch. 

Here is the recipe: 
 1 pkg berry blue unsweetened Kool-Aid
 1-2 liter Sprite
 1-64 oz white cranberry juice
 8 scoops vanilla ice cream
 1 c sugar, or to taste 
 In a large punch bowl, stir together the Kool-Aid, Sprite and cranberry juice. Stir in sugar to taste. (I used the full cup) Float scoops of ice cream on the top. The ice cream melts somewhat and turns the punch a beautiful baby blue color with frothy white clouds floating on the top.

The night before the baby shower I was lying in bed and I thought,  I should probably stick the sprite and cranberry juice in the refrigerator. I would recommend this. The ice cream still made the punch frothy with the liquids already cold. 

The fruit dip for the pineapple and strawberries was to die for! A friend of mine gave me the recipe in a text. That's how easy it is. She said that it is best with pineapples and strawberries so that's what I got but I also tried bananas and it was good with that as well. 

Mother's macaroons
2 cups greek yogurt or sour cream
2 cups brown sugar

I made mine with greek yogurt and it was really yummy. Mix two cups of the greek yogurt or sour cream with two cups of brown sugar. Add crumbled cookie pieces. Chill and serve. I doubled my recipe and still only used half of the macaroons. It's up to you how much macaroons you would like to put in. And viola! 

I think it was a successful baby shower. It's always fun to buy or make cute baby things. They are so precious. I wish Crystal and John the best of luck with their new baby Thor.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I've really been wanting to make chicken lettuce wraps lately but I remember making them in college and it was so much work. I found an awesome kitchen tool that is a complete life saver though! I used a pampered chef chopper that my sister in law gave to me for my wedding. It worked great to chop up the mushrooms, water chestnuts and the bamboo shoots. That's the part that's time consuming. Other than that, its a pretty simple recipe. It feels so healthy too with the lettuce. Yum! The ingredients can be pretty unique and expensive if you are not used to Asian foods but, its totally worth it. Sometimes I'm skeptical to buy expensive ingredients because I'm not sure if the recipe will turn out and then I'll be stuck with this expensive ingredient with nothing to put it in. But, this recipe is totally worth all of its ingredients! The first bite my husband took he said, "This tastes just like the Chang's." Yes, my lettuce wraps compared to P.F. Changs. I am truly honored.

I got the recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced

cooking sauce:
2 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, peeled and minced
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and diced
½ cup bamboo shoots, drained and diced
½ cup water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 head butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce, washed and leaves separated

1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Place the first five ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together. Pour mixture over the chicken and stir together. Set aside and allow chicken to marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Place all ingredients for cooking sauce into a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
3. Place 2 tablespoons oil into a large skillet over high heat. Sauté chicken for 6 to 8 minutes or until half cooked. Remove from skillet and set aside.

4. Pour remaining oil into the same skillet and place over high heat. Sauté the ginger, garlic and shiitake mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add chicken back into the skillet; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Pour the cooking sauce over the mixture and stir together. Lower the heat to medium and allow the mixture to thicken, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the green onions. Adjust seasonings.
6. Remove from heat and allow chicken mixture to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Top with a sprinkle of green onions and sesame seed and serve warm with crisp lettuce cups.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Chicken Avocado Quinoa salad

I have been wanting to use quinoa for a while now but I just couldn't find the right recipe. But, I finally came across this one and it was delicious! I love quinoa! It is a great substitute for rice and it is one of the only grains that is a complete protein. Quinoa does have a high fat content and so it is advised to keep it in the refrigerator or freezer instead of on the shelf to keep it from going rancid. But, the fat is "good fat," not unsaturaded or trans fat. Now that I've basically given you a lesson on quinoa, lets get to the recipe.

1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
½ onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 ears of corn, grilled and removed from cob (or 1 small can niblets)
1 cup shredded chicken
1 large avocado
4 limes
¾ cup fresh cilantro
2 ½ Tbsp agave (sugar works ok too)

I like to cook quinoa in chicken broth. It gives it a little bit more flavor. When cooking quinoa, some people suggest to rinse it, I don't. It usually comes pre-rinsed but some people like to soak it anyway. When cooking quinoa it's good to know that 1 cup raw quinoa makes about 3 cups of cooked quinoa. To make three cups of cooked quinoa, place one cup raw quinoa and 1.5 cups cold water or chicken broth. Bring the quiona to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn down to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let quinoa sit for 5 minutes with the lid on. Fluff gently with a fork and it's ready to go.

1) In a large bowl, mix onion, black beans, corn, chicken and quinoa together.
2) In a blender, combine the lime juice, cilantro and agave to make the dressing.
3) Cut the avocado in small pieces and toss in dressing. Add avocado to quinoa mixture.
4) Pour dressing over quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pretzel bites

My sister flew into town this week and I was asking her what she wanted to do besides go to the beach and get a tan. She told me that she wanted to do some cooking. I was a little shocked but also excited because there are so many recipes that I want to try but I know that there is a lot of work involved so I keep pushing them aside. So, the first thing we attempted were pretzel bites. I did not expect them to turn out this good but let me tell you, they were amazing! This recipe is more for a party of people though. We are going to have pretzel bites for months. When my neighbors came home I met them on their doorstop and offered them some pretzel bites. It was kind of weird, I know, but they loved them and they took some more off of my hands. 
I got this recipe from Smells Like Home


  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • Pretzel or Kosher salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the water, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds.  Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and butter.  Mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
3. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an wide 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan
4. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Slice each rope into 1-inch pieces.  Place a lightly damp towel over the pretzel pieces to prevent them from drying out while you roll and cut the other pieces.
5. Using a slotted spoon lower a handful of the pretzel pieces into the boiling water and boil them for 30 seconds, flipping them around in the water with the spoon a couple of times. Remove the pretzel pieces from the water using the spoon, drain as best you can, and place them on the baking sheets. Brush the top of each pretzel with the melted butter and sprinkle with the pretzel/Kosher salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 10 – 12 minutes. Brush with remaining melted butter before serving. Serve warm

 Instead of brushing the pretzels with melted butter, I used "I can't believe its not butter" spray. It was a lot quicker and easier.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Unstuffed Bell Peppers

This is a great recipe when you have tons of peppers in your fridge and you don't quite know what to do with all of them. My in-laws came to visit for the 4th of July this year and they rented a house. It was a lot of fun. We got to watch the parade, ride our bikes and then watch fireworks off of the pier that night. It's one of my favorite holidays! On the day they were all headed home, they left us with all the food they didn't eat. These weren't just little things. They went to costco. We still have rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, onions, carrots, lettuce, and I'm sure there's more. So, I had this giant bag of peppers and I needed to use them before they went bad. I came across this recipe and it was just what I was looking for. And, my husband loved it. He ate the leftovers. That's the true sign that it was good. 
I got the recipe from Heat oven to 350 
3 slices bacon
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cups rice
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup pureed tomatoes (I use fresh, but canned works too)
1 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1 green bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the chicken and cook until browned on the outside and just barely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet.

2. Add onions to skillet and cook until browned, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add rice, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, chicken broth, tomatoes, brown sugar and black pepper to the skillet. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, crumble the cooked bacon into small pieces.

4. Add the peppers, chicken and bacon to the skillet, stir and cover. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese, season to taste with salt and pepper, then use the remaining cheese to top individual servings.

Makes 4-6 servings

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fruit Pizza

I feel like if there is fresh fruit in dessert then somehow it's not nearly as bad for you. That's how I felt about this fruit pizza. It tastes so yummy but yet I don't feel guilty about it.

My husband asked me to make a dessert to take over to a friends house for dinner so I whipped this up. I had forgotten how easy and quick it was to make. I had all of the ingredients except for the fruit. This is going to be my new go to dessert. I usually do boxed brownies but this is quicker and it looks like you spent hours. I'm all about letting people think it took way more work than it actually did.
I got the recipe from All Recipes


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Mix in egg. combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Press dough into an ungreased pizza pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until light. (Make sure the sugar is smooth. Last time I didn't mix it enough and the sugar crunched in your teeth. Yuck!) Spread on cooled crust.
  5. Arrange desired fruit on top of filling, and chill.

Split Pea Soup and Food Storage

I have finally decided that I should start a food storage. I live in a very small apartment but I figured I needed to do it anyway. So, last week I went to a food storage cooking class on how to cook with dehydrated carrots and onions. It was an amazing class. The teacher was awesome! I learned so  much from her. She said that she has a coffee grinder that she uses to grind up the dehydrated onions into onion powder and she grinds up the carrots as well. She says she uses the carrot powder to thicken things up like spaghetti sauce. What a great idea! I would have never thought of that. Then, she gave this great recipe for split pea soup. It is a green soup and it looked more like salsa than soup to me, but it tasted amazing. So, I made it this week. It has ham in it as well, so I got to use  more of the honey baked ham leftovers in my freezer. YAY! I'm trying to use it up any way that I can.

If using dehydrated onions or carrots, rehydrate them before using them. The ratio for re-hydrating is 2:1. Two cups of water for every one cup of carrots/onions.

Split pea soup

1lb split peas (You can find these next to the beans and rice)
1tbs. olive oil
1 c. onions
1 c. carrots
1 stalk celery (optional)
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
4 c. water
8 oz. lean ham, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. thyme
1.4 tsp. marjoram
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse peas under running water. Put into large saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes, skimming off surface foam. Drain.

Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Add carrots and celery and continue cooking 2 minutes. Add the peas, pour in stock and water and stir to combine.

Bring just to a boil and stir in ham. Add Thyme, marjoram and bay leaf. Reduce heat, cover and cook gently 1-2 hours until ingredients are very soft. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Make sure not to add the salt and pepper until the soup is done cooking. If you add the pepper before it cooks for the 1-2 hours, it will end up tasting bitter.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Broccoli Ham Casserole

A few days ago frozen grape juice was on sale at the store. So, I bought 5 of them. The problem with this was that there wasn't really any room for them in the freezer because it was absolutely stuffed. Lets just say that I tried to make them fit anyway. Squeezing them into any little spot I could find. Then, when Tyrone and I came home later that evening, the freezer had opened while we were gone. Thanks to Tyrone, we took everything out and organized it. I have a lot of frozen meat that is oddly shaped and doesn't stack very well so it drives me crazy. But he did a great job and now I can see what I have. In the process of organizing though, we came across two big bags of frozen ham. Tyrone wanted to throw it out because he said we were never going to eat it. But it was good ham. I had cooked a honey baked ham and I cut up the leftovers, which was a lot, and froze it because I knew we couldn't eat it all before it went bad. So, to prove to him that we would eat it, I got the ham out and put it in this casserole. It was really yummy. I loved the rice in it. We had it again last night for dinner and he said, this tastes really good. You should make this again. I love when I get that response. That's when I know it is REALLY, REALLY, GOOD! Hope you enjoy it. It is great for that leftover Easter ham.

I got this recipe from Taste of home

2 packages (10oz) frozen cut broccoli
2 cups cooked rice ( I used 3)
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 2.5 slices)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups milk
1.5 pounds fully cooked ham, cubed
shredded cheddar cheese (I used mild)

Cook broccoli according to package, drain. Spoon rice into 9x13 baking dish. Place cooked broccoli on rice.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the bread crumbs and set aside. In remaining butter, saute onion until soft. Add the flour, salt and pepper, stirring constantly until blended; stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add ham.

Pour over rice and broccoli. Sprinkle with crumbs. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese; let stand 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Polska Kilbasa Tin Foil Dinner

On Saturday we celebrated my friend Christi's birthday. We had a big bon fire at the beach where we had tin foil dinners and banana boats. Both were delicious. For our tin foil dinner I thought we would do something a little bit different than usual. I usually put hamburger meat in tin foil dinners but polish sausage was on sale at the store and I thought it would be fun to try that instead. So we did!

Here is Christi the birthday girl!!

This is what we put in our tin foil dinners:
polska kilbasa
green peppers
and for seasoning we put 1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup in each of ours and then we put 1/2 a packet of Lipton onion mushroom soup on each.

With tin foil dinners you can add as much or as little stuff as you want. It's just personal preference. Tyrone put a lot more carrots in his than mine. I put a lot more potatoes and onions in mine. It just depends what you want. We cooked it in the fire pit on the hot coals for about 30 minutes and we both devoured our tin foil dinners. They looked huge when we made them but we ate every last bite.

These can also be made on the grill if you aren't camping or at a bon fire. They make really easy meals. 

Tyrone loved his!
And so did I!

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

On Sundays when I get home from church all I can think about is a nap. But all Tyrone can think about is food. So, I try and throw together something really quick for him so that I can get a long nap in. I tried this recipe and it turned out great! It was quick to prepare and really yummy. Plus, the ingredients don't have to be exact! I just used what I had. If you try this recipe let me know what you think. I got the recipe from Mel's kitchen cafe.
1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (or other leftover meat, like shredded pork or beef)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts) I didn''t have any of these
1/2 red or green pepper, diced I used a full green pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped I didn't have cilantro either
juice of 1 lime I didn't have any
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese (I use a combination of Monterey jack and sharp cheddar)
Sour cream (optional)
I added in onions-make sure you saute them first though
                                                            6 burrito-sized flour tortillas

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. (Optional: I like to dollop little bits of sour cream over the cheese before arranging chicken and rice mixture down the center. It makes it taste creamy and delicious.) Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open and slightly flatten the wraps with the palm of your hand. Spray seam-side of the wrap lightly with cooking spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange wraps, seam-side down, in pan or griddle and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Cooking them seam-side down first helps seal the long edge so they don’t fall apart. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve warm.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lemon Rosemary Salmon

It was one of those weeks that I didn't really get to cook at all because there was something going on every night and one of us didn't get home until really late. So finally on Thursday I decided to make a huge meal. I made lemon rosemary salmon. My roommate Margo in college cooked this for me one time and now this is the recipe I always use when I'm cooking salmon. It is so easy. The only thing I usually need to buy is the salmon and the lemons. I usually have everything else.

Rosemary (I usually don't use fresh because I never have it. But either works fine.)
2-3 lemons (cut in thin slices)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 salmon fillet ( with or without skin. It doesn't matter. Depends on your preference.)
sea salt

Directions. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place tin foil down on baking sheet if desired. Then place lemon slices down. Place the salmon fillet on top of the lemon slices. Then sprinkle the salmon with rosemary and sea salt. Use as much as desired. Then place the rest of the lemon slices on top. Lastly, pour a little bit of olive oil over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the fish is easily flaked with a fork.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I had no idea what edamame was until about a year ago. Tyrone and I went to a sushi restaurant called Ra. I don't particularly like sushi but I figured for his birthday I would suck it up. I do like tempura but I just don't like the raw fish stuff.  But, one amazing thing came out of this dinner. Their edamame! It was delicious. Tyrone wanted to order it and I was somewhat opposed to it. But he ordered it and I pretty much ate the whole thing myself. It was amazing. 
Then, last weekend  Tyrone and I went out to sushi again with some friends and they ordered edamame. I have been craving it ever since. So, on Monday, I went to the store and bought some. It was so easy to make and so delicious. Edamame has enough flavor by itself that I tried one right out of the strainer in the kitchen sink and then I kept eating them. I had to stop myself. I was going to eat them all without even seasoning them. Any way, onto the recipe. It is so simple. 

1 16oz package frozen edamame
sea salt
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil

Boil edamame according to package. Then drain and set aside. Heat oil in large skillet. Smash 3 cloves of garlic and take off the outer layer but make sure to leave them in one piece. Place them in the pan along with the edamame. Cook until the edamame starts to brown. Then sprinkle with sea salt and serve. Estimated eating time is about 5 minutes. They are gone in a flash!
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.