Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Seriously, I have so many recipes and goodies to post for Christmas and it's like I just realized that it's two days away! Where has the time gone? The only consolation I can give are these great downloadable gift tags from How About Orange for those late night wrapping sessions you have ahead. Hope this help.

If you find yourself in a bind and need some great recipes for those holiday festivities check out my Chicken Corn Chowder Soup (that my brother refers to as "heaven") and Lauren's Crescent Rolls. For breakfast try the Fabulous Crepes, and for dessert maybe try the Surprise Cookies, or my favorite pie crust recipe.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas filled with lots of good food!

Get them here.

This is what I'm using this year. Get them here

Thursday, December 3, 2009

DIY Paper Placemats

These DIY Paper Placemats fround via Twig and Thistle look awesome! This would be a great way to seasonally decorate for all those holiday dinners without having to spend the money. And talk about an easy clean up!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving ends and December Begins....

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I know I did. I was given my favorite assignment of making these rolls, and a bunch of pies and I got to share them with my favorite people.
We had a long weekend full of wallyball, poker tournaments, a late night of card playing at The Terry's cabin, black Friday shopping, and finished it off with Chirstmas tree decorating and the best ever chocolate chip cookies (don't worry I'll share them with you soon).

The first day of December is tomorrow and what a great way to start the month off with a Free Advent Calendar found via Say Yes to Hoboken.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 13, 2009


I provided the refreshments for a church function a couple of nights ago and was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I went with a cupcake theme and served red velvet, pumpkin, and german chocolate. My favorite is the pumpkin (which I already shared a while back), but the german chocolate is a close contender. I have to admit that this is the only one I cheated on and made from a box, but the frosting I made from scratch, which you can find here.

As far as the decor went, I kept it pretty simple and stuck to things I already owned, with the exception of the acorns which I found at the park.

Tip: Since I like cake served chilled, it worked best to freeze the cupcakes and frost them frozen and then they will thaw within an hour.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baby Shower Ideas

My niece Kellie just had a baby girl and named her Alexis Mae (how cute is that name?!). Actually, I have a lot of family and friends having babies these days. So I thought maybe some of you do as well. Here's a couple of great things I found around the internet that might spark some ideas for a great baby shower:

How cute would these paper owls look spread out all over the tables? Found via A Delightful Blog

Then I'd grab all of my scrap fabric and make a banner like this one to hang above the table.

Image found via flicker

For the gift? I would make another one of these bird mobiles I made for my new nephew last January. For a free download go here. Or give me a call if you have questions about how to assembly it.

Now I kind of wish I was throwing a baby shower for someone!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pizza Dough

I get asked for this recipe a lot. Honestly, I think pizza is one of my favorite things to make, with the exception of pie of course.

2 1/4 Cups Warm Water
2 Tbl Yeast
Let stand for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

2 Tbl Sugar
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tbl Oil
5-6 Cups flour (you know you have enough flour when it pulls away from the sides of your mixer)

Mix for 8 minutes. Roll out and place on pan that has been greased and spread cornmeal all over it. Poke dough with a fork all over so you don't get bubble. Add toppings of your choice. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes about 3 medium size pizzas.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thanksgiving Invite

Thankgiving is my favorite holiday because it's all about food and family. Over at Design Mom is the great idea to send out Thanksgiving Invitations. I have never thought of this, but I think it's a fabulous idea!
Every year my mother-in-law invites the immediate family over the Sunday before for our own Thanksgiving meal and it has become one of my favorite traditions.
I'm dying to cook a turkey and am currently working on perfecting a stuffing recipe, so hopefully I will have that to share before the holiday comes.
If you have any fun traditions please share.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Menu Tips

Stephmodo not only has a great menu laid out for the week, but has found a way to better articulate her meal planning than I was able to. Click here for her advice on how to save money on your groceries and eat great meals throughout the week. I did it and I never want to go back!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Royal Eatery

I've been craving breakfast food ever since I ate at the Royal Eatery a couple of weeks ago. I was downtown for the semi annual book sale at the Main Library. I scored like 20 books for $20. You should check it out, it goes on every October and April. Afterwards a friend and I headed over to the royal Eatery for breakfast and I can't stop thinking about it.

For nothing fancy, but really good food, check it out.
image via flicker

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Download

Just in time for Halloween. I found these free, printable Halloween tags. Download them here. If you use them, let me know what you did!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Pumpkin Butter! Nuff said.

It's time for Pie!

Remember the Mini Pies I made? I think about them all the time, and if they weren't so time consuming I would make them all the time. I wonder if these mini pie molds from Williams Sonoma would make them go any faster? I know they would make them prettier.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Fun

I love giving my neighbors Halloween treats, especially if they are homemade and packaged pretty. Since I figure it's not appropriate to hand them out to them while they are trick-or-treating, I try to get them out earlier. I frequently get asked for my pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe, so I figured I'd share it with everyone and hopefully make some for my neighbors this year.

pumpkin chocolate chip bread
5 eggs, well beaten
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups oil
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon gound ginger
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

Cream eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin and oil. Add dry ingredients slowly and combine thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into 4 greased and floured 9"x5" pans. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I like to be generous with the spices.

Just wrap up the bread in plastic wrap, tie a pretty bow on it and use cute tags like the ones I found on etsy.

Image via flicker

Monday, October 12, 2009

"The Menu" Part 3

This is the final round of my Menu Challenge. I found this recipe on a whim while researching healthy recipes and thought I'd give it a try. It was so easy and quick. It was also nice to watch the video, otherwise I probably wouldn't have chosen this recipe. To watch the video for Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach, Over Couscous click here. The only thing I changed was I seasoned the chicken with lemon pepper and salt. It not only gave the chicken some much needed flavor, but color as well. I also cut the breasts so they were much thinner so they would cook faster. When I make this meal again I will probably change out the couscous for some flavored rice.

Remember the mere $20 I spent for all the items I didn't have to complete the menu? Well, I knew that if I made enough meals I would have plenty of left overs for lunches. So not only did we have great dinners, but lunches as well!

"The Menu" Part 2

I really wanted to integrate some new and different dinners for my Menu challenge, so I decided to try curry for a change. I was pleasantly surprised. Husband and I even ate the leftovers within 2 days. This is one of the meals that I made ahead on Sunday and just re-heated and prepared the rice the day of.

For the Curried Coconut Chicken recipe, click here. The only thing I changed was I substitued jasmine rice for brown rice. Other than that I wouldn't change a thing!

Warning: you're place may or may not smell like curry for a couple of days!

Putting "The Menu" to the Test

So my Menu Challenge last week went way better than expected. Believe it or not, I actually made 5 out of the 6 meals! The funny thing is that I had a crazy busy week, but still managed to make all these meals partly because they were easy and because I had all of the ingredients since I had planned ahead. I still think the biggest reason was that I knew if I made them I would be eating a lot healthier than grabbing something that you heat up in the microwave.

In my menu planning I had 2 goals; eat healthy, and make the most of what I already had. So the first thing I did was to assess what I already had in my fridge and pantry. Then I browsed through some new and old recipes to come up with a menu. I made a trip to the grocery store on Saturday and bought the few ingredients I needed, which mostly consisted of fresh items that you don't always keep around. In fact, I think I only spent about $20 for those few items I didn't have. On Sunday I made a couple of meals ahead of time that I knew I wouldn't have the time for, which was a total life saver.

Most of the meals were a big success, but throughout this week I'll share only the best of the best.

My top favorite was the tri-tip steak and fries. It's so simple, it doesn't require a recipe. Simply marinate the steak in soy sauce, at a minimum of 30 minutes. Throw them on the grill for maybe about 7 minutes per side for medium-well. What really compliments this meal is the sweet potato fries. Just cut up, drizzle with olive oil and some salt and put in the oven at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes. Time varies on size and amount. Trust me, you'll like this one.

Healthy tip: remember that your meat portion size should be the size of your palm.

Friday, October 9, 2009

In Preparation

Two years ago Husband and I went to Cincinnati to visit my twin brother and his cute wife for Thanksgiving. I was so excited because we were going to make our very own turkey dinner all by ourselves. It was then that I learned how to roast a turkey. With the advice of my mother I lathered the turkey with mayonnaise, and I’ve had delicious moist turkeys ever since.
Every year I like to have my own Thanksgiving dinner at my own home, right before the actual holiday. I know we haven’t even had Halloween yet, but I’m already getting excited for it, but I can’t help but wonder if anyone has any advice to kick things up a notch? Any tips? Secrets? Do share.
Next up, I’m determined to master stuffing. I’ve tried so many recipes, but I just can’t seem to get quite what I’m hoping for.
Image via
Me, my sister, & my sis-in-law
Cincinnati 2007

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Halloween Party

Have you ever had your calendar fill up before the month even starts? That's my October. It leaves me wondering if this is any indication of what the up coming holidays are going to be like? Since I really don't have time to plan a Halloween party, I figured I could at least put together what I would do if I had the time.

For invites I would do something similar to these from Martha You can find the boxes and some moss for cheap at the craft store. Years ago I made fingers that look similar to this out of sugar cookies and almonds dyed red for the fingernails. Super cheap, super easy, super crafty!

I would definitely serve some homemade doughnuts. A couple of options are to follow the recipe I found on Better Homes and Garden for Pumpkin Doughnuts. You can also check their site for 28 Yummy Pumpkin Recipes! I've also been dying to try the easy version of homemade doughnuts by buying pillsbury biscuit dough, make a hole in the middle, fry them in vegetable oil, and make a glaze of powdered sugar and juice from an orange.

For decor I would find some jars to fill up with classic Halloween candy and top with a pumpkin, like I found on Martha The great thing about this is that they make for great decor and party favors. My version would probably be similar to this, but I would use some canning jars I have sitting around to fill with candy to give to all my guests.

Have a Happy Halloween everybody! By the way, you can use all of my ideas if you invite me to the party!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cupcake Phenomenon

I get asked all the time about the cupcake stand I used at Husbands Birthday Party. I actually found it at TJ Maxx (love that store!), but with the cupcake phenomenon we are experiencing, I see them popping up everywhere. My favorite is at Crate and Barrel. In fact, I like this one better than mine! Go check it out, buy it, and you'll see how you will find ways to use it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Menu

I have a new goal. I will admit that I've made numerous previous attempts at this goal, just to be defeated. But seriously, I mean it this time! It's grocery shopping with a purpose. I honestly think I spend more time and money at the grocery store than I do on my bad shopping habit. So not only am I on a self-imposed spending haitus, but I am going to start being a smart grocery shopper. I figure if I can actually plan a menu for the week, make a list, and stick with it, I will not only spend less money and time at the grocery store, but I will have better, healthier meals throughout the week. So here it goes.

The Menu:

Curried Cocunut Chicken

Tri-tip steak, marinated in soy sauce, with baked sweet potato fries

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Rosemary, Apples, and Onions

Taco Soup with Homemade Breadsticks

Some of these are new, never tested recipes, and some are old favorites. I'll let you know how my challenge goes and share any recipes that prove to be fabulous!
Image via here

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chocolate Fix

This is my go to recipe when I want chocolate fast! I've been trying to perfect this recipe for forever, when I learned that it was really the entire recipe that was all wrong. Nikki finally gave me her recipe and it's perfect. My mom always made these growing up, so you know that means they must be easy because she doesn't cook!

No Bake Cookies

3 Cups of Quick Oats
1 Cup Coconut
1 Cup Peanut Butter

Put in a large bowl.
In a saucepan bring the following ingredients to a boil for 1 minute:

2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Milk
6 Tsp. Cocoa
1/2 Cup Water

After this boils for 1 minute, turn stove off and add:

1 Tsp. Vanilla

Pour over dry ingredients and mix all together. Spoon balls onto greased cookie sheet and enjoy! I like them best when they are still warm.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another day in Germany (or paradise, whatever)...

I distinctly remember a meal I had in a small town in Germany. The town was beautiful, quaint, tourist free, and we pretty much stumbled upon it. While venturing around we found a great Spanish restaurant with some beautiful outdoor dining, which gave us a much needed break from the bland German food we'd been having. The menu pretty much consisted of different tapas in small portions, in which you would order a variety of.

I seriously can't get this meal out of my mind. Husband and I shared a concoction of chicken and potatoes soaked in Sherry, a type of queso with bread for dipping, and melted cheese over steamed vegetables. I wish so bad I could recreate this meal, but I know my efforts would be completely futile. I think my only solution would be to take a trip to Spain. Ready for it Honey?

I think another reason I remember this meal is because of our neighbors sitting at the table across from us. They kept staring at me, so much so that it made me feel uncomfortable. I started to think that I was just being paranoid, but then everybody at my table starting commenting about these people who were staring and were starting to get real excited. So weird. We decided they thought I was famous. Now I wish I had gone up to their table and maybe given them an autograph or two. If only I knew which famous person they thought I looked like.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's that time again!

I bought myself 3 huge cans of pumpkin and I can't wait to use it all. I've been dying to eat the pumpkin waffles I made last year, but I was hoping to add a new recipe to the mix. So I decided to revisit my love/hate relationship with Martha Stewart and put her to the test once again.

I went with Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Cupcakes and I was pleasantly surprised. Super moist, super easy, and great presentation. Give them a try, let me know how it goes.
These could also pass as muffins if you forego the icing.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I suddenly want to be French

Everyone is talking about Stephmodo's renovation of La Maisonnette du Coteau in Beynac, France. I can't imagine renovating such an old home (over 400 years old), in a different country no less! The transformation is amazing, you can even check it out at design sponge.

My favorite part? The kitchen. Check out the stove! And the beautiful dining room. I want those pendant lights above the table. Who am I kidding, I want to have a dining room table!

I'm seriously in awe, and hope that when Husband and I take our trip to France that we'll stay here and take those cooking classes she raved about!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh Canada!

When Husband and I were in Canada last year we got caught in a rain storm and ducked into a little boutique. I fell in love immediately! It was here that I was first introduced to Portmeirion Products by Sophie Conran. I only bought a couple of pieces that would be easy to transport back home, but now I'm so sad that I didn't get more pieces because they are my absolute favorite.

Some of the items I'm coveting, found on (Husband take note):

Tip of the Day

Always keep lemons and limes on hand to perk up any recipe. Seriously!
If you haven't noticed, a lot of my recipes involve lemon zest or lime juice, etc. Lemon zest can be used in meats (remember the roast) and even desserts (remember the coconut cake) or the juice from a lime to add a little zing to any drink, not just diet coke! They even make for great centerpieces, like I used for Husband's birthday.

They're cheap and last a long time in the fridge, so stock up!

Even Ina Garten agrees (click through the slide show)

Image via House Beautiful

Sprechen Sie German?

When we were in Germany I had the best bratwurst in a little town just off the Rhine, near the Brother's Castles. It was my first bratwurst ever, and it was amazing! Since I've been home I've tried a couple brats and they don't even seem like they are the same product!

Oktoberfest is here (up at Snowbird) and I wonder if it will come close to my real German experience? Any thoughts? Has anyone been? Is anyone thinking of going? Call me, maybe we'll head up there together.

How fun!

Check out Design Mom and the amazing party she planned for her little girl! She hired Sticky Fingers (in the Denver area) to come and set up, entertain, and clean up. Now that's what I'm talkin' about! The kids made customized chef hats, then were taught how to cook a meal. What was the meal you ask? Parmesan and Ricotta Gnocchi over Peaches with Prosciutto and Parmesan plus Honey Lavender Dressing. I don't even eat that well! And it sounds like the kids loved it.

What a cool business concept. Throw parties and teach kids how to cook. Anyone up for it?
When I'm a mom I hope I'm half as cool!

Monday, September 21, 2009

No Soup For You!

Yesterday the air was nice and crisp and the sun was still shining, it was fabulous! I've been waiting for this day so I could make some yummy soup. Sunday dinner was just me and husband, so we tackled this recipe together and finally perfected it. Really, this recipe is pretty easy, just a little time consuming, but really worth it.

Chicken Corn Chowder
Serves 8

3 - 4 potatoes (chopped into bite size pieces)
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
½ of a yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ jalapeno
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 tsp)
2 cans chicken broth
2 cups water

Bring ingredients to a boil. Make sure that vegetables are fully covered, if you need to add water, do so. Once boiling, simmer until tender.

In a separate pan make a roux:
1 cube butter
¾ cup flour

On medium high heat, melt butter. Once melted, decrease temp to medium heat and gradually whisk in flour. Continue stirring until you get a nice thick consistency.

Then add:
1 tbl. sugar
1 quart of milk

Once this is all mixed, add broth mixture into the milk mixture. Then add the following:

Fresh Rosemary (to taste, you don’t need much)
3 cups cook and cubed chicken (I roast 4 breasts of chicken)
2 cans of sweet canned corn (drain liquid)
1 lb. velveeta cheese (at room temperature, cube, then add)
Salt & pepper to taste.

Cook until the cheese is melted and to desired temperature.

Husband started out by roasting 4 chicken breasts by placing them in a roasting pan, pouring one can of chicken broth, and then seasoning them with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. I know this is more time consuming than boiling the chicken, but it really tastes the best and makes it so the chicken isn't tough and rubbery. I then used the reserves to replace the one can of broth it calls for in the recipe.

This is probably my favorite soup. It's a large recipe for just two of us, but I like to have leftovers and some to freeze for another day. The only thing that would make this recipe better is if I had made my homemade crescent rolls to dip into it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday Dinner

We had family over this Sunday for Travis and Nikki's birthdays. On the menu:

Chuck Roast
Season with Salt & Pepper, fresh rosemary, lemon zest from one
lemon, and 2 garlic cloves. Put it in a crock pot on top of carrots and onions
and pour 2 cans of beef broth over it. Cook on low for about 8 hours.

(placed on the bottom of the roast with onions)

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Homemade Crescent Rolls

Eclair Cake

The roast just fell apart, it was really good. Putting a roast in a crock pot is great because the only thing I had to do right before the guests arrive was the potatoes and gravy. The best part of the meal really was the rolls and jam. My friend Lauren gave me this recipe years ago and it's turned into a family favorite.

Lauren's Crescent Rolls:

2 Cups warm Water
2 Packages Quick Rising Yeast
1/4 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Egg
5 1/2 Cups Flour

In a large bowl pour warm water over yeast and let sit for about 10 minutes in order to activate the yeast. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine. Let stand for 1-2 hours for the dough to rise. Divide dough in half, roll out in circles and cut into pie shapes. Roll into crescent. Place on lightly greased sheet. Cover. Let rise for 1-2 hours. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen, depending on the size you make the rolls. I like them big, so I usually only make 16 large rolls.

A great tip I've learned when it comes to cleaning up after serving a large group is to always make sure your dishwasher is empty. That way you can gaurantee you'll have room for all the dirty dishes after dinner. This means making sure you clean up as you cook.

Oh yeah, remember my restaurant recommendation? Well, gift certificates and BBQ sauce make a great gift for guys who like their meat (Travis). And, homemade jam makes for a great parting gift for your guests. My cute niece, Kellie, recommended tying raffia to the container for better presentation.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Homemade Love

I had some friends move into a new home and figured a good housewarming gift would be some homemade jam.
I love homemade jam, but I've always thought it would be difficult / time consuming to make. I was completely wrong. I used the recipe off of the back of this fruit pectin packet and was done in 10 minutes flat! It calls for 4 cups of crushed fruit and 1 1/2 cups sugar. You mix everything together and don't even have to turn the stove on!

Since it was so easy to make, I figured I better make some homemade wheat bread to go with it.

Anyone know of a cute way to package freezer jam to give as a gift? Let me know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

BBQ for Summer's End

For me, Labor Day weekend represents the ending of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Yes, my pumpkin obsession should be starting soon. And what better way to see Summer come to an end with a great BBQ meal. So Husband and I made our way to Pat's BBQ for a little brisquet, ribs, meatloaf, and all the fixen's, that was all to die for! If you're looking for a great, hearty meal that serves you enough food to last a week, this is where you want to be. Check it out here.

Just in case you were wondering, they sell their awesome bbq sauce for $6 a bottle. This is serious stuff!