Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Please don’t mind the break from cooking topics to talk about Christmas!!! I love celebrating Christmas- but it is *sadly* also very stressful for me. So much to do…so little time! And such BIG expectations! (Really that is the problem right there!)  This year my goal is breathe and just enjoy the season of life we are in this year. I’ve also realized I have to say no to things I want to say yes too. With four little ones there is only so much of me to go around. That might mean no to parties or events that I would really enjoy- but this just isn’t the year. I’ve considered everything that is a part of our celebration and what will stay and what will go. I even considered emailing Christmas cards {gasp! The horror!}. But ultimately I decided that a family picture was in order this year. Plus, I really do love receiving all those pictures. And for me, email just isn't the same. I haven’t sent a family picture in five years (just pictures of the kids). So two weeks ago we took a family picture (the hard part!) and now my goal is to order my cards BEFORE Thanksgiving.

Shutterfly has an amazing promotion for bloggers this year. I'm open to giving them a try and honestly I’m really loving their designs this year. They have new premium paper {which I love} and they are more like matte card stock than glossy photo paper. They even have an offer for a free card so you can order one and see how you like it. (Which I did by the way and I was really impressed with the quality- you can even add more pictures and/or a letter inside).

How cute is this design? Love how the photo is really the star.  See- I told you they were cute! The one I'm thinking of picking is similar.
 How about these cute Christmas thank you notes! Wouldn't it be fun to use pictures from Christmas day to create these? They even have darling ornaments I'm thinking of ordering for Charlie's 1st Christmas ornament.

Hurry- if you are interested, they have 20% off all cards today- and their prices are better than others I've used in the past.

Here's to keeping Christmas simple and focusing on what matters.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Salmon Citrus Salad

We've been eating healthier around my house lately. And we have a new meals have been less about actual cooking and more about "assembling".  This week I'm trying to recreate something I had recently at a local resturant. The most amazing salad ever. I don't have a recipe, but I promise to take notes as I figure it out and let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Easy Chocolate Frosting

I am not above using a cake mix. (These cupcakes are a white cake mix with green food coloring). But I always make homemade frosting. Last night I went to make my standard Hershey's frosting (on the can of cocoa powder) when I realized I was out of cocoa powder! 

I found this easy recipe online. It is almost like a ganache- very thick and fudgy. What I love most is it was so easy- and you don't have to mess with a mixer or sifting powdered sugar. I'm not sure this recipe would be enough for a layered cake, I might double it for that. It frosted about 18 cupcakes.  As this frosting cooled, it got a little grainy. I just warmed it for 10-20 seconds in the microwave and is spread perfectly.
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
6 ounces choc. chips (about 1/2 bag)

Combine all ingredients except chocolate in saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly until melted. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, still stirring. Remove from heat. Add in chips and stir until completely melted. Spread on cooled cake (or cupcakes).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicken Pasta

This pasta recipe was from my friend Nina's blog. It is actually a recipe she got from her friend Megan (I want to give credit where credit is due).

I love this pappardelle pasta from Trader Joe's. I used two packages for this recipe and it worked out perfectly.

This was a big hit with the family and it will a summer favorite for sure.  Next time I think I will throw in some grilled veggies and greek olives too.  This recipe has a lot of flexibility.

Did I mention the kids loved it? Go to Nina's blog for the recipe.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekly Produce Delivery

Some of you have asked April and I about our produce delivery. We have signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) through Farmer in the Dale. The produce is all local and mostly organic. What we like best is we can select the produce a week in advance. We feel like the price is reasonable and you can't beat the convenience of delivery to your front door!

Here are some of the benefits I've found since we've started ordering from Farmer in the Dale:
1.) Cooking with fresh vegetables is a priority because you don't want to waste one bit of this amazing produce! This translates to healthier coking.
2.) Taste- the organic apples, Yukon gold potatoes and the spring salad mix are delicious! They are significantly better than anything I've bought at the grocery store. (Eric doesn't usually like spring mix- but now he does because it is so fresh).
3.) No mater how busy my week is and if I've made it to the store- we have fresh fruit for snacks and veggies to go along with something out of the freezer for dinner.

Okay- so the question you are asking is how much? We pay $30 a week for 10 units of produce. We split it between the two of us. I still supplement some produce from the grocery store. We do have a local farmers market twice a week but it isn't at the most convenient times and isn't really close to where I live. Plus taking three kids... need I say more?  Check out the Farmer in the Dale website for more info

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Our sweet friend brought these cupcakes over for Pete yesterday, are they not the cutest cupcakes you've ever seen? Since I haven't really cooked anything in over two weeks I thought I would post these little beauties. Peter loves them and can't wait to have the last one after lunch today. Thanks Becky!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my favorite winter time foods. It's warm, comforting and a perfect one dish meal.
The players: onion, carrots, celery, frozen peas and of course chicken.
This is my new favorite and EASY way to cook a chicken (to use for soups, enchiladas, etc.) all you do is wash your chicken, clean out the inside, and put it in a large pot. Add about 2-3 cups of water and lots of salt & pepper. Cook on med-med/high for about 20-30 minutes and then let it sit another half hour or so and it's done. Take the chicken out let it cool and either cut or shred. I cut most of the breast section out for the pot pie and then I'm going to use the rest for chicken enchiladas in a couple of days.
The rest of the players: butter, flour, chicken broth, half-n-half (or cream), salt, pepper and fresh thyme if you have it or dried (that's all I had on hand).
Okay, the process: Get out a Dutch oven or good size heavy bottom pan and melt the butter, about 1/2 a stick (1/4 cup), add in the mirepoix (carrot, celery & onion) I know it's a fancy French word, but doesn't it sound so much nicer than carrot, celery & onion??

Anyway, saute the mirepoix until softened and almost cooked through. Then add in 2-4 Tbls. of flour and cook a couple of minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Add in a couple of cups of chicken stock (I used the stock from the chicken I just cooked, but you could also use store-bought) and stir to mix it will begin to thicken, add more stock as necessary and add about a cup of half-n-half or cream (whatever you have in the fridge). Season with salt and pepper and the thyme (if using fresh just throw a couple of stems in) if using dried add about 1 tsp. Let this cook for a little bit to meld all the flavors.

In the meantime, cut up your chicken and roll out your pie crust. I just used my standard pie crust recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Baking cookbook. Just use your favorite or you could save a step and buy one.
Add in your chicken to your filling, this will be your last chance to taste and season and adjust any liquid amouts. You want it thick, but thin enough that it's not too solid you want some liquid to come out when you cut into the pie.

Last step! Dump mixture into your pie dish (you can use any casserole dish or make individual pies with oven-safe bowls). And then place your crust on top, pinch the edges and then brush on an egg wash so it will get nice and golden brown.
My pie crust and I had some issues (Sissy is really the expert on pie crusts) so it wasn't beautiful, but let me tell you it still tasted good! Just ask my husband, he couldn't stop eating this meal!! I also did a great thing and doubled the recipes for both the pie crust and the pot pie filling and froze them separately so I can have a super easy dinner in a couple of weeks! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Three Bean Dip

I made this delicious dip for Superbowl. It was really good! I saw a spicy black bean dip recipe on the Pioneer Women's website and thought it looked good, I had wanted to make some kind of bean dip and set out to try this one...with some tweaking.
Here are the players and my Lysie Lu watching mama...she's going to be a good little cook someday soon. Tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, garlic, orange juice, white wine vinegar (I would have used lime or even lemon juice, but I didn't have either - so I opted for the combo of the two), salt and pepper, oh and beans. (see below) The beans, I opted for a combo of black beans and great northern, there they are in my food processor with a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
Then I tasted it to check the spice, WOW! I knew my husband wouldn't eat this...too hot, so I added about a cup of pinto beans. I'd been cooking beans for two days for my chili and for Elyse so I had some on hand I could add in. (I'm on a kick to use only dried beans these days so I did cook all of these myself, but you could certainly use canned beans.)

Now for the cilantro...don't you just love cilantro? I love cilantro.
This is the mixture with the everything added in, I added the tomatoes and onions last and just pulsed it a few times to incorporate, I wanted some of the texture of those two to still be a little chunky so you would know there were fresh ingredients in the dip.
Here it is with a good mound of cheddar cheese on top, I decided to warm my dip. I prefer beans hot rather than cold, so I just popped it in the oven for about 10-15 min at 375 degrees.
This is how I served it to my husband, notice that I had to take a couple of bites first!
  • 1 cup great northern beans
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 1 cup pinto beans (this really could be any combo of beans you have on hand)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and about a tsp of the sauce
  • juice of 1/2 an orange & 1 tsp white wine vinegar (you could also just use the juice of 1 lime or 1/2 of a lemon instead of the combo)
  • 1 clove of garlic - chopped
  • 1/4 of a red onion - chopped
  • 1-2 tomatoes - chopped
  • salt & pepper

Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream and cilantro and serve with chips. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Barley Beef Soup

I love a really thick soup. Okay- really, I love any soup! I could eat soup for lunch everyday of the year. My whole family really loved this recipe- it is in my file now.

P.S. (Aren't my new bowls cute? A gift from my favorite sister in law!).

Recipe coming later today...

Potato & Leek Soup

Dinner a couple of nights ago was this amazing soup! I had some leeks from Farmer and the Dale (a local CSA that delivers) and some nice red potatoes and it was was going to be a match made in heaven.
Here are the Leeks and Potatoes after they have roasted in the oven for a good 40-45 min with some olive oil and salt and pepper...yum! I had to take a taste and make sure they were tender, wow! MENTAL NOTE: make this as a side dish for another meal, maybe with a pork roast or some chicken. This combo is really delicious, you MUST try!
Here are the leeks and potatoes in the food processor getting ready to be pureed with some chicken stock.
And the soup finishing up on the stove, I didn't have any arugula, creme fraiche or shallots, so I can only imagine how much better it is going to be the next time I make it with those three ingredients. I did add some sour cream instead of the creme fraiche and I just topped the soup with Parmesan for garnish.
The finished product waiting to be enjoyed!
We rounded out the meal with a salad with chicken, pear, toasted walnuts and a little red onion with a balsamic vinaigrette and this great bread machine white bread that is started in the bread machine and then finished in the oven to give it that 'real bread' look. It is the best and easiest white bread that I've tried so far in the bread machine.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February's Challenge

It's been quite a while since I've posted on this blog. So many excuses to offer, but you don't want to hear my excuses, well maybe just a couple: a baby girl was born, I've been lazy, uninspired about cooking, not constantly uninspired, just not inspired enough to blog about what I've been cooking. I'm sure many can relate to that last excuse.

Well, things are changing!! That baby girl is almost a year old and I'm newly inspired these days about many things.

One is laziness, I'm embarking on new journey of rising early, I've been challenged by a blog I read (you can check it out here) to rise at 6am every day. The club is called 'the 5:00 o'clock club, well right now I'm starting slow with 6am. It's a big deal for me! So I'm hoping this will help me fit some more things that I want to do in my day.

Two is food. Healthy, good, maybe local, maybe organic food for my family. That is what I'm striving for these days. How to make this happen and stay within my budget as well.

If you're interested in joining us on this journey and hopefully be inspired with some new recipes, please stay tuned. I promise it will be real, insightful and hopefully attainable.

What are your thoughts sis?