Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

I thought I'd post our plans for New Years Eve with the kiddos tonight...

Dinner will be tamales (cheese, pork, or chicken), salad, and spanish rice. We have bundt cake in the freezer for dessert.

We're going to play Sorry, and maybe some wii. I think I am going to have my little guy do this tonight, just for fun. And, if I can get the gingerbread made for tomorrow's house decorating with friends, I will help my 5 year old make noise-makers from the many empty toilet paper rolls we have lying around the house!

What are your New Year's traditions or plans?

Change of Plans

We went to visit my in-laws yesterday (after a mother/son trip to the Aquarium) and picked up tamales for dinner tonight. Alas, my adventures in gnocci making will have to happen another weekend. Tomorrow night, we'll be having the last of the prime rib from our Christmas in beef stroganoff. So, tonight, my job is easy... heat the tamales and make a salad and some spanish rice (MIL's recipe take one) I'll post the recipe this evening.

Happy New Year to all of my readers!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Menu Plan for the week

This week is pretty mellow because of the holidays. We have some leftover chocolate roulade (wich after many hours of cooking, my stepson calls the Christmas ho ho) and prime rib. We are heading down to my in-laws on Wednesday, so I won't be cooking much.

Monday: macaroni and cheese with cauliflower
Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken salad (sandwiches for the boys)
Wednesday: dinner at my in-laws
Thursday: gnocci
I may do a mushroom sauce
Friday (New Year's): Dinner with friends and decorating gingerbread houses with the kids

We are trying to get back to healthy this week, since we have pigged out a lot in the last week! Also, on New Year's Day, I am running in the Resolution Run in my home town. What are you up to for New Years? Do you have any special family traditions?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Our day was mellow, and my husband, stepson and I had Christmas with my in-laws today, but we will do Christmas on Sunday as a family, when my son is home. I am so excited, he gets home tomorrow! He's been gone too long.

I made rolls, pumpkin pie, and 2 types of cookies yesterday. I want to share a couple of the recipes with my readers later this week, but I am going to try one of them again because it didn't turn out quite right. I will also be making peanut butter and snickerdoodles (again) to send over to my bother in Iraq. I wanted to make them with my son next week so he can add to the Christmas box we're sending over.

We did open gifts today at my in-laws today and I got this! In the next few weeks, I am sure I will be posting my new adventures with it. I have been attempting to do them in a pan on the stove, and its just not the same. I can't wait to start making sandwiches and other things on my new panini press! Tomorrow I will be working on the chocolate cake for our Christmas dinner on Sunday with my dad.

Did anyone get new kitchen gadgets for Christmas? If so, what did you get?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let the baking begin!

Today, I head to the grocery store to do my Christmas grocery shopping. I'm going to make the amazing rolls I made for Thanksgiving again from Pioneer woman. I'm also making pumpkin pie, which was requested by my mother in law (this coming from a family who doesn't like pumpkin pie!

I'm making french onion soup for Christmas Eve dinner, prime rib for Christmas dinner, and I'm going to try a Chocolate Rouldade with raspberry filling for our Christmas dinner.

Oh, and don't forget the cookies!I'm planning to make the soup, cake for the rouldade and pie crusts today. My husband is working tomorrow, so I plan to do cookies and the pie tomorrow. I will post about how its going and the progress I make as I do it.

Merry Christmas to everyone! What are you baking this year?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Busy elves!

Yes, I was busy tonight! In addition to making snickerdoodles and Craisin white chocolate chip cookies, I also made an extra special lunch for my 5 year old. I was really excited by how it turned out so I wanted to share!

I made a gingerbread man cheese quesadilla with craisin buttons on a bed of shredded carrots, a snickerdoodle made by me, broccoli steamed in the microwave for 30 seconds with a little cheese, and honey bunny crackers with craisins. The note says, "Hi John Christopher, your mommy asked me to tell you she loves you! Gotta run, here comes the fox! GM" His kindergarten class has been doing their gingerbread man theme the last 2 weeks, so I wanted to do something to go with that. I can't wait to hear what he thinks!

Tis the season...

for cookies! I'll be baking some different ones next year, but tonight its the simpler ones. One of my favorites to make is the Craisin white chocolate chip cookie recipe. Its very simple and easy to make, and you can add whatever suits your fancy to the recipe (like semi-sweet chocolate chips)

They are yummy, and just the thing to start with! Did I mention I'm just beginning?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I digress...

I am taking a break from food posting, and wanted to share something about me. I started running about 6 weeks ago, and I'm loving it! I am doing the Couch to 5k program and it feels so good to be outside and do my exercise, even in the cold weather. I just registered myself for the Mermaid Run in Mountain View in April. I signed up for the 10k, since I will have 2-3 5ks under my belt by then. I am so excited to be doing this! I'm running the 5k Resolution run in my hometown on New Year's Day. My son is so excited, because I signed him up for the kids' run after my race. I think the week after Christmas, we'll go to the track a few times and he can practice running a longer distance. He's definitely a short distance runner, so fast! I never thought I would be a runner, p until about 2 months ago, I hated it! To be able to accomplish these things at almost 40, what a rush!

What do you do for yourself that makes you feel great? What exercises give you that feeling where you keep wanting to do it?

Monday, December 14, 2009

This week's meal plan

Hard to believe that we're less than 2 weeks until Christmas! I am trying to keep it simple this week since I plan to spend a couple evenings baking cookies and another evening wrapping gifts for my wonderful first graders!

Monday: Macaroni and cheese with cauliflower

Tuesday: Calzone pinwheels

Wednesday: fritata and pumpkin muffins

Thursday: Turkey Chili (I am making an extra batch for my dear friend who is going through chemo therapy)

Friday: Pizza or burgers. Depends on what we're in the mood for!

This marks the beginning of my vacation (Watch for some extra fun posts next week, when I do some baking!)

Saturday: I'm going to make a smaller version of this this week-

I am also on the hunt for a new holiday dessert. My apple pies are always a hit (even with my picky stepson) but since I have a new family, I want to start some new traditions that are just for us! If you have any special holiday traditions for you family, let me know!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan

I have had a bit of trouble in the past week or so getting motivated to cook. I made some leftover recipes with the leftover turkey, but after that, its been boring fare! I made Sloppy Joes last week, which were good, but I wanted to get back to some creative cooking this week.

I always find that I am better about us eating at home and grocery shopping once during the week if I plan, otherwise, Whole Foods is so convenient!

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday: Wolfgang Puck's tortilla soup
(tonight the 5 year old and I are also going to bake chocolate chip cookins to celebrate his yellow belt last week)

Tuesday: Pasta bake with marinara, mozzarella, and sausage

Wednesday: Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Thursday: I'm going to make my own version of this: I'll post when I figure out what I'm doing!

Friday: Homemade pizza (I think, lol!)

Saturday: My son and I are heading to The Nutcracker and then to Christmas in the Park to meet up with friends. I think we'll have a treat and eat out on Saturday.

So, my question for my reader is... When you run out of inspiration for your dinners, where do you turn? And when you don't end up cooking, where do you go? Is it healthy or quick, easy, and not so healthy?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

Here's our menu for Thanksgiving. I meant to post this earlier in the week, but report cards and making pumpkin pretzel dough for my wonderful first graders kind of took all my time! So, here's what I'm doing with some links:

Brined turkey using Williams-Sonoma's brine and bags
stuffing (I'm trying this recipe so I can save oven space,1712,153178-240207,00.html

mashed potatoes

Acorn Squash (I was sold by this picture, aren't these gorgeous?!)


homemade cranberry sauce (This was so easy!)

Spinach Souffle (from my mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook

Green beans with cranberries and candied pecans
apple pie and pumpkin pie (pie crusts are in the fridge, made last night)

I will have mulled apple cider on the stove.

I'll post some pictures when the spread is complete! Enjoy you Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I was inspired!

My husband brought home broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce from my in-laws this week. In honor of using food and not letting it go bad, I am trying to find creative ways to use what we have in the fridge.

Tonight, we are having broccoli salad, empanadas, and mexican rice.

Here are the recipes and some pictures:

2 pre-made pie crusts (I like the ones from Trader Joes)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 24 oz can stewed tomatoes
2/3 cup grated jack cheese (that's the amount I had in the fridge from dinner last night)
2 cloves garlic
Dash of hot sauce

Preheat over to 450. Brown the ground beef. When browned, add remaining ingredients and cook on the stove top for 5 minutes. Cut the first pie crust into quarters (I did this on my pizza stone, which made it easier) add approx. 2 tbs. filling to each triangle. Cut the other pie crust into quarters and lay the pieces on to of the filling. Score with a fork around each triangle. Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes, until browned and crispy.

Makes 8 empanadas. I made 4 tonight, and put the rest of the filling in the freezer for another dinner.

Mexican rice:

1 1/2 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1/2 24 oz can tomatoes
1 2.25 oz can olives
cilantro, salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in rice cooker and cook according to directions.

Broccoli salad:

4 small heads broccoli, blanched (place in boiling water 1-2 minutes, then put in iced water to stop the cooking process)
1/4 cup mayonaise (I used the olive oil mayo from Kraft)
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
celery salt to taste
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

(I was going to add bacon, but I got home and my stepson had eaten all of it!)

Mix all ingredients together.

The whole family enjoyed dinner! It was a big hit.

What are your family's favorite meals?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back in the Kitchen

Our fridge is fixed, and I am back in the kitchen! Tonight, I'm making my family's favorite macaroni and cheese with cauliflower.

Here is my meal plan for the rest of the week.

Monday: green chili casserole with salad and tortillas

Tuesday: Empanadas and rice pilaf with tomatoes and olives (from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals) and sliced bell peppers

Wednesday: leftovers (I have PTA for my stepson)

Thursday: Tri-tip sandwiches with sun-dried tomato spread (this was one I was going to make before our fridge went on the fritz) with sweet potato and yukon gold baked fries.

I'll post recipes this weekend. Are you trying anything new or a family favorite this week?

Monday, November 9, 2009

No fridge= eating out for the week!

Last week, my husband and I realized that our fridge wasn't staying cold. Then the smelly meat that had just been taken out of the freezer to defrost. The repair guy came by on Saturday and he's ordering the parts. Here's hoping he can fix it. I'll be back to cooking on Sunday, hoping the repair man can fix the fridge on Wednesday. Tonight, I'm stopping by Whole Foods and picking up something healthy for the family to eat, along with dinner for a dear friend who is going through chemo therapy.

Have a blessed week, maybe I'll post some of my latest craft projects this week since I'm not cooking!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Farmer's Market Soup

Last night turned out to be one of those evenings where everything takes twice as long, and you stop and get dinner out! Thank goodness for Panera right down the street. We had dinner there and I brought home dinner to the older boys.

Tonight, I wanted to use up all the vegetables we got at the Farmer's Market, so I made the soup I had planned for last night. Since we all had BLTs for lunch today, and the weather got rather blustery and cold this afternoon, I got a craving for a yummy melty cheese sandwich. I went over to Whole Foods and grabbed some brie. Voila! Brie and heirloom tomato grilled sandwiches and Farmer's Market soup!

Here's what I added for our soup
2 boxes free range chicken broth
(32 oz. each)
1 zucchini cut into small pieces
3 leeks cleaned and sliced
1 head cauliflower cut into small pieces
1 large can stewed tomatoes (my favorite is muir glen)
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed
pinch of salt
dash of pepper

4 handfuls cheese tortellini

Add all ingredients to the pot and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Before serving, add tortellini and cook for another 5 minutes.

This recipe made a ton of soup! We have enough for another meal next week. I meant to cook the tortellini in a separate pot and just add it when I served it, but I was busy at that point and just threw it in. When I defrost it for next week, I will have to add some more broth.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week's menu plan

I thought I would post my menu plan for the week. I'll post a couple of the recipes later in the week as I take pictures.

Monday: fresh pasta (from farmer's market) and leftover pesto or red sauce

Tuesday: tortellini soup and BLT sandwiches

Weds: burritos (My friend's father in-law makes the tortillas for Trader Joe's and he was in town this past week, we got some yummy fresh tortillas to take home!)

Thursday: Tri-tip sandwiches with sun-dried tomato spread. I think I will play with it a little to not add sugar, but we'll see. We'll have zucchini crisps with this since I got some at the farmer's market yesterday!

Friday is pizza night because I don't cook on Fridays, and Saturday I'll be at the football game, so my boys are on their own! I am excited to try some new recipes this week, and bring back some old favorites!


My husband and my 16 year old stepson are HUGE fans of cereal. Eat it every morning and LOTS of it! My son and I can take it or leave it. However, I have always been a HUGE fan of good granola. On one of the blogs I read every day, I came across this today...

I am ordering some and trying it out. I will post when I get it and tell you how it is. I wanted to let my 5 year old make some of his own too, but I'm not telling him he can add candy!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Today, I got the one thing I wanted most from our wedding registry! My former father and mother-in-law, who I am still very close with, bought us a 9 cup Cuisinart food processor! I can't wait to use it to cook new recipes. Exciting times!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget or appliance?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Garden Lasagna

I haven't made lasagna much, but this one was great! My husband had 3 helpings :)

1 lb lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic
drizzle olive olive oil
1 12 oz. can stewed tomatoes
2 small zucchini
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil (I used the basil from our garden)
no-bake lasagna noodles
mozzerella, cut into 1/4 in slices (about 20 slices)
pasta sauce (I used classico organic, probably my favorite)
1/8 c. parmesan (I used shaved parmesan because I like how it looks!)

Preheat oven to 375

Drizzle olive oil in a pan and add garlic. Cook for a couple minutes, then add beef. Cook until brown. Add tomatoes and zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes. Add spinach and basil. cook another 5 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates. As you can tell from the picture, I kept the zucchini tfrom getting too cooked because it cooked when in the oven.

Coat bottom of a square baking dish with pasta sauce and cover with lasagna noodles. cover noodles with a layer of meat mixture, sauce, then a layer of the mozzerella slices. Repeat with noodles, meat, sauce and cheese. Top with shaved parmesan. Bake 45 minutes, until top is bubbly and browned. I hope your family enjoys this as much as we did!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Granola Bars

Last week, I posted a granola bar I wanted to try. Oh, were they yummy! I used cranberries and some leftover mangoes and berries I had from Costco. I also added some sunflower seeds. This recipe is a keeper, and I would work great as a cooking project with the kids. They are wrapped up in saran wrap and in our cookie jar. I think I'll make a double batch next time!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

I tried a sample of the Trader Joe's version last week, but found it a little salty, so I thought I'd try to duplicate it myself. This was one of those nights where I am trying to use up the produce and leftover sauce from the tortellini the boys had when I was out the other night.

4 sausages (I used Trader Joe's Smoked Apple Chardonay)
1/2 onion
2 bell peppers (I used an orange one and a yellow one)
16 oz. marinara sauce (I used Classico Organic Tomato, Herbs and Spices)
Olive oil
4 sandwich rolls of your choice
Sprinkle of shredded cheese for each sandwich
Thinly slice the onion and bell peppers (taking out the seeds) Drizzle olive oil in the pan and let it heat up slightly. Add onions and let them cook for about 3 minutes, then add the peppers, sausage and pasta sauce. Allow them to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve on sandwich rolls and sprinkle parmesan, provolone or mozarella just before serving.

I also made baked fries to go along with it.

3-4 potatoes peeled and cut into long strips
Seasoning to taste (I usually use Emeril's original seasoning)
Cooking spray

I also often make these with sweet potatoes

Place potatoes on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray
Sprinkle with your seasoning of choice and bake at 400 degrees 20-25 minutes, until they are brown and crispy.

This was an easy dinner, and it seemed to be a hit with my stepson and my husband (although my stepson pulled out as much of the peppers and onions as he could!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Granola Bars

It has become a struggle in my house lately to decide what to send with my 5 year old for his recess snack. There are a handful of children in his class with peanut allergies, so we have to be careful. I have been making granola bars for a couple months, but the last time I made them, they fell apart into a crumbly mess. So, I think I will try this recipe this weekend and see how it turns out. I'll probably use cranberries or another dried fruit that strikes my fancy because raisins are not usually my first choice.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This is how the day ended...

We had friends over this afternoon and I cooked up a storm! Its been so long since I have gotten to entertain, and I really enjoyed cooking and pampering my family and our guests today I did all the prep work, and my awesome hubby and my friend's husband manned the grill with beers in hand! When I went up to put my son to bed, my husband cleaned up the kitchen.

First,I made Bobby Flay's homemade BBQ sauce for our grilled flank steak

Then, I made Jamaican Jerk Shrimp...

3 tbsp olive oil
2 pinches coarse salt
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp jamaican jerk seasoning
pepper to taste
1 lb large prawns peeled and deveined
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl to make a paste.

Dip prawns in sauce and lay on dish.
Grill 2-3 minutes until prawns just turn opaque and pink.

We grilled vegetables too:
4 small zucchini slices lengthwise
2 yellow squash, sliced thin
2 bell peppers sliced lengthwise and deseeded
2 portabella mushrooms sliced thin
2 pinches coarse salt
8 leaves basil, sliced
2 cloves garlic crushed
olive oil
Slice all vegetables and place in a bowl
sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix with basil and 2 drizzles of olive oil
Let the vegetables sit for about an hour, uncovered on the counter.

Wrap in tin foil and grill 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender, but still firm.

And for the finale, I made chocolate cream pie with homemade whipped cream!

We had wine and mojitos to finish it off! Everything was so yummy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today started with breakfast

For breakfast today, I made one of our old favorites, oven pancakes! They are easy and light and a fun weekend breakfast for family. The recipe is from an old Cooking Light magazine. I often add blueberries or apples when in season, I've also added cinnamon to them.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 egg white
1 tablespoon butter (I use cooking spray)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
spoon four into measuring cup and level with a knife
combine flour and next 5 ingredients, mix until moist

melt butter in 10 inch skillet (or spray with cooking spray)

spoon batter into pan and heat over medium heat for 1 minute
Bake in oven for 18 minutes, or until golden brown.

cut into quarters and serve with powdered sugar and/or fresh fruit

** from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2002
Oxmoor Publishing House
Birmingham, AL

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Raspberry Granola Pancakes

When my husband and I were dating, we used to go to a place in Salinas, CA (where he lived) called Great Awakenings. One morning, I tried these and fell in love. Living an hour away now, its not practical to drive down there when I get a craving for Sunday breakfast. So, today I made them from scratch! I have decided that making pancakes from scratch is just as easy as pulling out the old bisquick box. I started with a basic pancake recipe (and made some plain ones for the teenager) then added my own touches. They take a little longer to cook than regular pancakes, but they were really yummy!

Basic pancake recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I use cinnamon I purchased at the local farmer's market)
  • 1/2 cup granola (I used galaxy granola raspberry flavor- its low-fat and very yummy)
  • 1 small basket raspberries
Mix together all ingredients except milk and melted butter

Add milk and melted butter and mix well

Stop here and cook on griddle if you aren't adding granola and raspberries.

Add raspberries and granola and mix well. I needed to add about 1/4 more milk at this point.

Mix well.

Grill on your electric grill or in a pan on the stove. Serve with sausage (if desired) and maple syrup.

They were delicious!


Good Morning!
I hope this will become a place you look to for recipes and cooking ideas. I love to cook for my family and friends! When I cook, I look at a couple recipes, then blend them together and make my own creation. This is the way I have cooked since I started cooking when I was 12. I am mom to John Christopher, wife to Nick and step-mom to Devin. We live in Campbell, CA, and recently bought a home that has my dream kitchen (including a wine fridge!)

I hope you enjoy this site and get some ideas for your family!