Friday, April 29, 2011

Sunday Sweet...Chocolate Chip Angel Cupcakes with Fluffy Frosting

Pin It Now! Okay, I'm attempting another homemade dessert.  While the pie didn't get rave reviews, I'm hoping these yummy little cupcakes will.  The best part?  There's only 69 calories and 1g of fat in each cupcake!!!!  :)
It doesn't seem too difficult to prepare...once I figure out these "soft/stiff peaks" thing.  So, I found a video on how to do just that:
How To Beat Egg Whites

Happy Cooking!

How to Beat Egg Whites

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I'm going to be making some cupcakes this weekend and I had no idea what "soft peaks" and "stiff peaks" were. So this video cleared that up for me! Hope it's helpful to you too! :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Cut a Mango

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I'm making fish tacos tonight and the recipe includes a Mango-Radish I thought I would share this great video that highlights a few different ways to slice up this delicious fruit! Happy Cooking!

Who gets the most your kitchen?

Pin It Now! Okay, I know we all have certain items that we can't live without when we cook.  For me, I love my dutch oven.  I use it so much.  But one other little quirky item I like are these scissors my mother-in-law got me from Pampered Chef.  They are the perfect tool for turning any dish into kid friendly bites.

What about you?  What can't you live without in your kitchen?  Post your fave item in the comment section below...I may find I need to go shopping!  ;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Got a couple dozen leftover Easter eggs???

Pin It Now! One of my fave memories is shelling our beautiful colored Easter eggs...and making pickled eggs.  Yes, you read that right...pickled eggs.  Now, now, don't stick up your nose already!  If you like pickled beets (which I love)'ll love pickled eggs.  Even if you've never tried these, it's really simple and the kids get a kick out of the pinkish-purple eggs.  They make great egg salads too!  This recipe is super easy...there are a ton of variations to make these, but this is my mom's way.  :)  We like the vinegar bite to it, so add as much or as little as you want.  We don't add any extra sugar either.  

1 dozen hard boiled eggs - shells removed
2 cans Pickled Beets (or more...enough to cover the eggs)
1 cup Apple cider vinegar (or to taste...Mom's way is just to add a bit, taste...add a bit, taste)

Place eggs in a large bowl or an extra large empty pickle jar.  Pour both cans of beets over eggs (I leave the beets in with the eggs)  Put in the fridge and...wait.  :)  It'll take a day or too.  You want that nice deep color to the eggs.

(this is not my photo...I'll take one after my eggs are done, just wanted you to see how pretty they are!)

Traditions: Easter Cakes

Pin It Now! For years now, it's become a family tradition to decorate the Easter cakes at my Aunt and Uncles' house.  We almost missed it this year because we were going to stay in Cali instead of heading to Vegas.  But, the hubby wanted to off we went!  And I'm so glad we did.  It is so much fun...especially for the's this years batch:   (not really a recipe to follow here, just used cake mix, store bought icing, etc.  It's all about being with the family)  :)

 Of course, you get to eat some too!  :)

 They may not be the prettiest cakes on the block, but they ours and they taste amazing!  :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Friday Special: Royal Wedding Tea Party

Pin It Now! Okay, so I'm totally stoked about this wedding and can't wait to watch it with my girls and bonus! mom and grandmother will be visiting!  I'm going to record it the wedding and we'll watch it around dinner time where we'll have a "tea party" in the family room.   We will probably make some tea and have some crackers and cheese as well.  Should be a great time!  Just wish we had some fancy hats to wear!  :D

Tea Party Menu:
Apple and Cucumber Sandwiches
Egg and Caper Sandwiches
Strawberry-Kiwi Tart

Menu for April 26-29: Tuesday-Tex Mex Beef & Mac

Pin It Now! Getting back in town later than I thought on starting the week off on Tuesday.. :)

No, this isn't the little talking glove beef and mac...this recipe has more kick to it!  :)  I found this recipe years ago and I've always enjoyed it.  You can alter it quite a few ways too.  Great, simple, quick weeknight meal.  Some fun ways to tweak the recipe:  add jalapeƱos, use variety of pasta shapes, different types of cheese, try fresh tomatoes, add spinach... possibilities are endless!  :)   Serve with a nice side salad.

Ultimate Fish Tacos

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Time to get some fish back on the menu.  Living in Cali I have finally learned to be open to fish tacos...and I've found I really like them.  This recipe got great reviews, so I'm going to give it a shot.  I'll cut back the spice a bit for the sake of the kiddos.  :)  There seem to be a lot of ingredients, but you can chose to make the mayo and salsa or leave it out.  I'm going to make both...why not, and I'll puree the salsa so the kids won't have to worry about chunks of whatever.

Thursday: Tuscan Tomato Soup and Italian Grilled Cheese

Pin It Now! Since Chef Anne's bologense was such a huge hit, I figured I would try another one of her recipes.  I love tomato soup and grilled cheese, reminds me of my childhood.  This soup is a step up from canned Campbell's; however.  It's easy to make and not too time consuming.  I'm also going to spike up the grilled cheese a bit...can't have plain ol' grilled cheese if I'm making a homemade Tuscan soup!  :)  Can't wait for dinner time!

Saturday Special: Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara

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I'm making this tonight because my grandmother is going to be in town and the last time I made it for her, she said it was one of the best things she's every had.  So, yeah, I'm going to treat her to this again.  :)  It takes some time to assemble, but otherwise, very simple.
Be VERY careful not to overcook the shells in the'll end up with mush.

But, the best part about this dish is the sauce.  You can find fire-roasted tomatoes near the rest of the canned ones.  Easy to make and tastes fabulous!  And works great on all kinds of pasta dishes.

** Keep in mind:  this makes 2 casserole dishes.  Great for large families OR just freeze one for the weekend or following week!  :)

**Okay, so every time I make these, I forget that there really isn't enough filling for all 40 shells.  So, next time, I would make a batch and a half. (doubling would be too much)  Plus, they don't really fill 2 9x13 pans, as you can see from my photos, I used one big one and one small one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Pin It Now! This is my life...join me...

SO frustrated!!  I so hate when a dish just doesn't come out right (yes, I'm a bloody perfectionist)...I mean not even close.  I tried to make a "quick and easy" hash-brown and egg dish.  Quick and easy my ass.  I figured I could just shred the potatoes and throw them in the cast iron skillet and they'd brown.  Um, NO.  They weren't looking good so I googled it.  Found out I had done it all wrong.  So, I dumped the whole thing in the sink.  (thank goodness I had bought extra potatoes).  I started over.

Thinking this is going to work this time, I tried to get them to brown.  Nope, not happening, at least not like the pix on the blog I was using for reference.  So I figured, screw it, my kids won't know they are supposed to be all crispy.  I add the cheese and crack four eggs on top.  Put it in the oven.
Now, I've never baked eggs before.  So I keep looking at the hell do you know if the whites are set???  Tried to google luck.  I end up overcooking the eggs.

I dish out servings for me and the girls.  The eggs taste like rubber, the hash browns were mush, and the onions mixed in gave a horrible taste.  Dinner review: Awful!!  For the first time, I gave my kids something else to eat other than what I'd made.  (good thing I had other leftovers in the fridge).

Will I make this again, has potential...but I need to figure out what went wrong.  Yuck, I can still taste it.  Time for a glass of wine.

Bunny-Shaped Egg Recipe

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Okay, these were just too cute not to share!  What a fun snack for your little ones, and the best part is that they can help you make them!  Ridiculously easy to make too!  

Recipe and photo courtesy of Parents Magazine 
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Carrots for ears
  • Snap peas for nose
  • Cabbage for tail
  • Cheese for eyes
What to Do:
  1. Hard boil eggs and let cool.  Remove shells. If your bunnies will not be presented in an egg dish, then cut a very thin slice from the bottom of the egg (lengthwise) so egg will not roll around.
  2.  Cut thin carrot slices and shape into rabbit ears with a knife, making sure one end is very pointy. Insert pointy ends into egg for ears.  Cut off tip of snap pea for nose.  Push the pointed end into the front end of the egg.  Make a small round tail from a white piece of cabbage, once again making a pointed end to push into the back of the egg.  For eyes, cut two small little circles, using a small straw as a cutter, from your slice of cheese.  Make sure the egg is not wet when you set the cheese eyes in place or they may slide out of place.
  3.  Other veggies may be substituted for the nose and tail.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Pin It Now! I wanted to let all my fellow cooks know that I'm changing the layout of my blog a bit.  You'll see at the bottom of recipe posts "Read More"...that is where I'll post the actual recipe.  This way you won't have to bounce from site to site to see the recipe.  Not all have been updated yet, but I'll get there. :)  Just keep that in mind when you're looking for the the read more button.  Happy cooking!!  :)

Cooking Tidbit: Adding Oil

Pin It Now! (So, I stumbled upon a bunch of great little cooking tidbits...each week I'll share one with you.)

"If you find you need more oil in the pan when sauting, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredient being cooked, it will be heated" - Anitao Lo (Annisa Restaurant, NY)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's for lunch?

Pin It Now! So when I first started this blog, I posted a tidbit about these awesome lunch boxes I got for my girls.... this is what they are having for lunch today:

Now, no, I'm not normally this "themed" with their lunches.  Sometimes its whatever I can find in the cabinets.  The best part about these lunch boxes is that it makes me more creative in what I give them (they also have lids for two of the four containers)  I ordered the one that comes with a carrying bag.  You can check them out here at
The website also has all kinds of ideas for what to pack for lunch, including recipes.  My girls are lucky enough to go to a school where they will (secretly) heat up food.  So I get way more freedom in packing their lunch than kids at a public school.  However, soon, I'll have to get more creative!  

I ordered mine from Amazon to get free shipping.  These also make great lunch boxes for grownups too.  :)  BPA free as well.  Happy lunching!  :D    

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu for April 18-21 - Monday: Moroccan Spiced Soup

Pin It Now! I'm still reeling from the awesome bolognese last night.  But super excited for this weeks menu.  Mostly new stuff, though I am adding an old fave.  We are heading to Vegas for Easter...that would explain the lack of dinner on Friday night.  But I will have a fun recipe and some great pix of the Easter cakes we'll be making!  Happy cooking and happy Easter!  :)

Monday:  Its a cloudy, overcast soup is on the menu for tonight.  This sounded really good, it's vegetarian (after the mass amount of meat last night I though that it was fitting), and very simple to make.  I might serve with a side salad if I can find any decent leftover lettuce in my fridge.

Tuesday: Steak and "Salad"

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Steak is good any night...I'll probably just marinate these in some red wine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and minced garlic.  The real treat of tonight is the side.  I LOVE this dish.  I could eat it for all three meals.  It has a wonderful vinegar bite from the banana peppers.  I use reduced fat Mont Jack, turkey salami, and canellini beans (white kidney beans) and I ALWAYS double the recipe.  So yummy.

Acini di pepe [ah-CHEE-nee dee-PAY-pay] are tiny pasta rounds resembling peppercorns. Use ditalini (very short tube-shaped macaroni) or any other small pasta shape if you can't find acini di pepe in your supermarket. Serve with Asiago breadsticks.  Most stores now carry these tiny pastas...look for them in a box. 

Wednesday: Roast Chicken Chimichangas

Pin It Now! I swear every time I hear the word "chimichanga" I think of Meet the Fockers.  I just love that movie!  I've never made these before, but it sounded simple and quick.  Going to serve it with a side of black beans and rice.

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner

Pin It Now! I have become slightly obsessed with eggs...I eat some almost every day.  Trying to find new fun ways to make them.  I could save time and buy pre-made hash browns, but I want to make my own (healthier too).  So, aside from shredding the potatoes, (which my mandolin will make quick work of...) this recipe is a breeze to make.  I'm going to double the recipe to serve four.  Prob serve with a side of turkey breakfast sausage and a nice cold glass of OJ.  :)   (you could also sprinkle some bacon on top for some added flavor)

Hash-Brown Eggs (recipe adapted from Food Network)


Fry 2 cup each chopped onion and grated potato in a cast-iron skillet with butter until crisp. Add 1 cup grated cheddar.  Make 4 small dents in potato with a spoon and crack in 4 eggs. Bake at 425 degrees F until set; top with salsa.
*My Note:  This recipe was originally set for two people, I have changed to serve four.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Sweet... Rustic Apple Pie

Pin It Now! I love to cook...hate to bake.  Well, no, that's not true...I like it...I'm just terrible at it.  Baking is a skill all in it's own...and it's not forgiving (at least in the general sense)  But, I know there are those of you out there that crave a sweet treat.  So, I'm going to put my skills to the test each week.  My goal is to learn to bake better and to create healthy sweet treats.  (our home doesn't have ice cream, cookies, cake...nada.)  Yes, I deprive my dear children.  But, now they can help me create something sweet each week and learn that it can be healthy (ish) too.

This weeks treat is an apple pie.  And a very simple one.  Great for my first go...I'm totally cheating and using pre-made pie crust.  (you can too, I won't tell)  Let me know how this turns out for you!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dinner In- Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks

Pin It Now! We don't go out to dinner much in order to save another Saturday night in, but we are doing it up in style.  I went to a local market in search of cheap lamb...the butcher told me lamb prices have skyrocketed in the last idea why.  He sold me some lamb shanks...and I looked at him and said "What do I do with these?"  I had no clue...of course he barely spoke English, so I got home and googled it.  I found this recipe and it sounded wonderful.  Let me tell you, my house has smelled fantastic all afternoon.  I made couscous to go with it and soak up the juices.  (you can find the recipe for the couscous with the link for Lamb Tagine)  This was a great way to cook a very tough cut of meat...Happy Cooking!!

**Just finished eating this...OMG!!!!!!  this was outstanding!!  The meat fell off the gamey taste AT ALL...the sauce was divine.  I can't wait to make this again.  Wonderful meal.**

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Dinner- Pasta Bolognese

Pin It Now! I watched Chef Anne cook this on TV a couple weeks ago.  It looked amazing...and I'm a sucker for pasta, so I have to give this a try.  Plus it's a good 'ol traditional Tuscan pasta me some authentic Italian food!  This is a great dish to make over the weekend....for one, it's time consuming and you need hours to cook it, and'll make great leftovers for the rest of the week.  The ingredients are simple...the most difficult part will be setting aside time to cook.  It's also not the most healthy dish...lots of salt, but hey if you can't indulge once in awhile....well then.  I've attached the video of this too, so you can see what Chef Anne does.  I'd love to hear how it turns out for you!  Happy cooking!

*Note:  don't be afraid of how long the directions are.  This dish is very simple to make, it just takes a long time.  Read through the directions a couple of times and you'll be good to go.  :)

How to Make Napkin Decoupage Eggs - Parents

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I know this has nothing to do with cooking, but I wanted to share it. :) With Easter just around the corner, I've been trying to think of fun things to do with the kids now that they are a bit older. I stumbled across this little craft and thought it would be a lot of fun and easy to do. Not that I'm shunning the idea of dying eggs this year...that's a tradition that'll stick in our house!...but this will give the girls something they can keep and play with. (I promise to post some Easter recipes too!) :) Happy crafting!

How to Make Napkin Decoupage Eggs - Parents

(no these aren't mine...but I thought the picture was pretty.)  :D

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grandma's Pasta Fagioli

Pin It Now! My dear grandmother shared this recipe with me.  It's her "secret" way of making Pasta Fagioli.  I haven't made this yet (I plan to!), but I wanted to share it for those who are looking for a quick yummy soup for dinner.
Straight from Grandma:  "This soup is delicious and everyone who eats it will want the recipe."  :)  Happy cooking!


1 1/2 or 2 lbs of hamburger or sausage (I use hamburger)
1/2 cup of onion chopped
3 cans of Campbells Minestrone soup 
1 can mild chili beans
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 jar salsa mild or hot
2 soup cans of water and 2 tbl. of sugar
1/4 to 1/2 lb Macaroni cooked (You'll know how much to add  and add last after soup is done}

Brown meat and onion together. Add remaining ingredients. This makes a crockpot full.  Add more water if you like it soupy like I do. Cook only till hot and blended approx. 15 min.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cooking Tip: How To Tell if an Egg is Good or Bad

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Okay, I have to admit, the video is cheesy as hell, but I totally learned something new! One of those great little tips that will save you time in the kitchen. :) Happy cooking!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A twist for Edamame

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Cooking in the Moment

A versatile spice blend from Lantern's Andrea Reusing
Lucky 7
At her Chapel Hill restaurant, Lantern, Andrea Reusing marries Asian flavors with ingredients sourced from North Carolina's farms and fisheries. In her first cookbook, Cooking in the Moment, the award-winning chef aims to share the simple recipes she makes for family and friends in her home kitchen with cooks everywhere. Here, she puts Asian spices into play with a colorful seven-spice powder that seasons a new-to Carolina crop: edamame. Add a pinch to flavor the soybeans, then follow Reusing's lead and use the leftover blend to add subtle heat to sashimi, noodles and soups.

Warm Edamame with Seven-Spice Powder

Recipe adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing (Clarkson Potter)

Menu for April 11-15 *Budget Week* Monday: Sesame Soy Meatballs

Pin It Now! Each month, I am going to do a very budget friendly weekly menu.  Each dish claims to feed a family of 4 for $10 (per meal)  I'm sure some will depend on what is on sale at the store, but so far, I think most will stand up to the hype.  I do; however, plan to double some of the dishes in order to have leftovers for lunch the next day.  Looking forward to a week full of new recipes!  Happy cooking!

Monday:  This should be a fun, kid-friendly dish and simple to make.  According to the website, this dish should cost you $2.50 per person.  (again, family of 4)  I'm including a noodle recipe to go with it, so it might change the price just a bit.  You can serve these with rice, noodles, or all veggies.  A side of Miso soup would be good too (though high in salt)

*Kid Korner:  have your kids roll the meatballs

Tuesday: Chicken Curry

Pin It Now! I LOVE Indian food...when it's not wicked spicy.  :)  I'm going to serve the chicken over Israeli couscous instead of rice and I plan to use a variety of peppers (red, yellow, orange, green) to add color to the dish.  After reading reviews, I'm also going to add some cilantro and green peas.  According to other cooks, this dish...cooked to order...would be a bit of a stretch to feed 4.  So, I may double this.  The price per person for this dish is $2.39.  (I'm assuming they bought chicken on sale)

Wednesday: Beef-Barley Soup

Pin It Now! I already have some left-over chuck roast in the freezer, so I'm kind of cheating here.  However, you can usually find chuck for about $3.99 per pound.  Since you are only using 3/4 lb in the recipe, you can just freeze the rest for another day and stick to the $2.41 per person price.  An easy dish to make and simple ingredients.  

Thursday: Lamb Tagine

Pin It Now! The hubby and I really enjoy lamb.  When cooked right, you don't get a "gamey" taste at all.  This recipe sounds wonderful and received rave reviews.  Not sure about the cost of lamb, so I'll see if I can get it to stick to the $2.45 per person price tag.  I may also double this dish as well...some reviews said it would be a good idea!  :)  The couscous recipe follows (make's that good!)

Going to follow this reviewers tips:
"This recipe was excellent. I doubled it. We served it over pearl couscous seasoned with cinnamon, a bay leaf, lemon zest, salt and broth. The only change I made was to add baby green beans (Trader Joe's) about 20 minutes before the tagine was finished. Great addition. Served it with a very nice Sextant zinfandel. For dessert, we made orange cardamom creme brulee. Will definitely make again, but next time, will include more good friends."

Friday: Turkey and Bean Chili

Pin It Now! I'm never one to turn down chili...and it's so fun to try different recipes for it!  At $1.75 per serving this is quite the budget dish.

*Kid Korner:  let kids add ingredients to the pot and stir.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This week's Kitchen Technique - Knife Skills

Pin It Now! Jamie on knife skills, 30-Minute Meals

We've all seen those chefs on TV chopping away...barely looking at what they are doing.  I know I've tried, and ended up with bits of fingers mixed in with my veggies.  Ugh.  I really think it's important to have good knife skills...not only to save our precious fingers, but to also save time in the kitchen.  What I like about this video is that it shows some simple ways to start cutting...safely.  And of course you realize it's going to take a lot of time and practice.  However; with that practice will come the skill.  So watch, practice (practice some more) and start to wow your guests!  Happy cooking!  (and cutting!)  :)

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