Friday, December 2, 2016

quinoa chicken parmesan soup

I went into making this soup with high hopes but a little reservation.  Quinoa with a parmesan flare?  I wasn't sure.  I am SO glad I made this soup because it's terrific!  I will be making this one again and again.  I am excited about the leftovers because it made a huge amount. (Sorry, bad picture.  It looks delicious and smells divine in real life.)

quinoa chicken parmesan soup (adapted from the sister's cafe
2 giant frozen chicken breasts from Costco
1 cup quinoa
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 (24 ounce) can Hunts garlic and herb flavored spaghetti sauce
1 (14.5) ounce can petite diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling

Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray.
Place frozen chicken breasts into slow cooker.
Rinse quinoa and add it along with the Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic, onion, spaghetti sauce, petite tomatoes and chicken broth.
Cook on High for 6-7 hours.
Remove the chicken and shred then add it back to the soup.
Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in Parmesan and allow to melt.
Top with more Parmesan and fresh basil if you'd like.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

woodland animals baby shower

My daughter was invited by a friend to help prep for a baby shower and my daughter had a blast helping.  You can see why!  I asked for some pictures because I knew something fantastic was happening and I knew I should file away these ideas.  I love the woodland creatures theme.  My daughter's favorite part was helping with the hedgehog dip.  Super cute!  One day...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

pumpkin chocolate chip blondie bars

Halloween was so fun!!  I love the brilliant fall colors, the boo-ing, the treat deliveries, the pumpkins (oh how I love the pumpkins in all their varieties!), the lit candles in sweet and spicy fragrances, jack-o-lanterns, costumes, downtown trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, the primary Halloween party and neighborhood trick-or-treating.  Endless fun.
Our friends Stephanie and Brent delivered these delicious goodies.  The pumpkin bars were so moist and delicious I asked for the recipe.  This recipe will replace the one I already had. :)

pumpkin chocolate chip blondie bars (Stephanie)

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup-1 cup all purpose flour (I usually do about 3/4 cup + 2 tbs)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Set oven to 350, spray 8x8 square dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg, vanilla and pumpkin. Pour in all dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread dough evenly into prepared baking dish. (I usually sprinkle the top with chocolate chips too). Bake 15-20 minutes (check with toothpick). 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

cinnamon roll cupcakes

My daughter asked me to pick up some refrigerated cinnamon rolls but wouldn't say why.  This is why.  We are all in awe.  She saw these cinnamon roll cupcakes somewhere and can't recall where but she remembered exactly how to make them.  They're easy and they're gorgeous!   Now she's going to put a few into cellophane baggies with a pretty ribbon and give them to a few people she's been thinking about.

cinnamon roll cupcakes (my daughter)
makes 20
2 tubes refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (we used Trader Joe's brand, 5 rolls in each tube)
1 package yellow cake mix, batter prepared according to directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line muffin tins with paper liners.  Fill each liner 1/3 of the way full with cake batter.
Slice each cinnamon roll in half, lengthwise.  Place a slice of cinnamon roll on top of the cake batter.  You will need to squish them in a bit.
Bake at 350 degrees for 2o minutes.  Let cool then drizzle with the icing provided with the cinnamon rolls.

Monday, October 17, 2016

store bought faorite: OPA greek yogurt salad dressing- kalamata feta

If you've lost your teenage metabolism but love a good salad try this salad dressing!  I opened it so my kids and I could dip some cucumbers into it as a side dish.  It was a big hit and none of us noticed it was a lighter dressing.  Chunks of feta cheese!!

OPA greek yogurt salad dressing- kalamata feta
Big chunks of feta cheese and diced kalamata olives.  Only 4.5 grams of fat per serving.  That's my style. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

stormtrooper party favor

This is the stormtrooper party favor minus the blue mylar star balloon that will be attached.  What's the party?  We're going to watch Star Wars Episode 7 outside.  On a big screen.  Probably not under the stars because of the "storm" that we're having but we'll be outside nonetheless.  Hopefully we'll get a little rain, thunder and lightening to add to the affect.

stormtrooper cupcakes

My birthday kid's treats were out of this world.  Every time I turned around we had a need for more treats.  Classroom treats, birthday day treats, birthday party treats, etc.  The stormtropper cupcakes were so fun and I am grateful for the pics online because I'd have never thought to make them and they were so easy thanks to these pens at Amazon.  They are for the birthday party.
The dirt which was requested for the actual birthday day was made with chocolate mousse instead of pudding because I refused to go to the store for 1 item, pudding, so I made chocolate mousse. What a difference!  I also used chocolate Oreo cookies instead of the regular kind.  Never make dirt with pudding when you can make it with mousse.
And I made layered mint brownies for classroom treats.
No more sugar for a while, please!!!!

stormtrooper cupcakes
Make some white cupcakes according to package directions.  Prepare stormtropper marshmallows using Bakerpan food coloring markers from  Ice the cupcakes and put a marshmallow on each one.

For party favors I am going to put a cupcake in a cellophane bag and pour some cute outer space sugar candies I found at the store into the bag so they settle at the bottom.  I'll attach a star shaped mylar balloon to the cellophane bag and tie it with a cute blue and white baker's twine I found at Michael's.  Easy, easy, easy!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

yummy 3-ingredient potatoes

I actually don't know what these potatoes are called but I watched my friend Shonda make them while I was over picking up my kids from art class.  It looked like such a simple dish to make and I knew that once her potatoes went into the oven the entire house would smell delicious.  I wanted that too.  I had my oldest make them and they were a huge hit!!  I heard ooohs and aaaaahs. And the house smelled sooooo good.

yummy 3-ingredient potatoes (my friend Shonda)
red potatoes
canola oil
packet of onion soup/dip mix (we used Trader Joe's)

I gave my daughter a 9x13 and asked her to pour a little bit of oil in the pan which she did with gusto.  She may have put a little more oil than I would have but the taters turned out crispy which was perfect.  I'd say she put in 1/3 cup of oil.  She then cut up a bunch of red potatoes, enough to fill the bottom of the pan- maybe 8 potatoes.  Then she sprinkled the onion mix on top and combined everything.  We put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour and a half due to my errand running longer than anticipated.  That's okay because they were PERFECT!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

no bake chocolate chip cookie bars

If you love to eat chocolate chip cookie dough out of the bowl, this treat is for you.  It's super rich so you won't need much.  Big hit at our house!

no bake chocolate chip cookie bars (our friend Stephanie M.)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoons alt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream/beat butter and sugar and salt until light and fluffy.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the condensed milk and the flour.  Mix in the chocolate chips.
Line a 8x8 or 9x9 square pan with foil, parchment or wax paper with long ends so you can lift out the bars for easy cutting.  Smooth the dough into the pan.  Cover and refrigerate until firm.  To make the chocolate topping, slowly melt the chocolate chips until smooth.  Pour onto the dough and spread out evenly.  Return to the refrigerator until the topping is firm.  Cut into 16 squares.  Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

Friday, September 30, 2016

general conference weekend menu

I'm super excited about Conference Weekend.  My kids are excited about what we'll eat!!  Earlier this week I posted an index card in the kitchen to find out what my family was craving (this is kind of like Super Bowl Sunday in the way of food).  I got all sorts of responses and put them into a menu.  Some like to stick to tradition (citrus cream cheese pull apart rolls, cocktail meatballs).  I think some are trying to create traditions (won ton chicken tacos, chocolate mousse).  Everyone will be happy!

general conference weekend menu
(now posted in my kitchen)

conference weekend menu
saturday breakfast:
citrus cream cheese pull-apart rolls, cold milk or hot apple cider
saturday lunch:
tradition calls for eating out
saturday dinner:
cocktail meatballs, green beans, salad, fresh whole wheat bread
saturday dessert:
no-bake chocolate chip cookie bars
sunday breakfast:
croissants with nutella, cold milk
sunday lunch:
pulled pork sliders, veggie tray, salt & vinegar chips
sunday dinner:
won ton chicken tacos, hummus with tortilla chips
sunday dessert:
chocolate mousse

Sunday, September 18, 2016

halibut and bok choy in green curry-coconut broth

I always love the recipes in Real Simple magazine.  This one is no exception.  A very mild dish but very satisfying.  I am a huge fan of bok choy.

tilapia loins and bok choy in green curry-coconut broth (Real Simple Magazine, September 2016)
2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup green curry paste
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 heads baby bok choy (I used 2 heads regular bok choy, chopped)
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
4 boneless skinless tilapia loins from Costco
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
lime wedges for serving

Whisk together the coconut milk, broth, green curry paste, lime juice, ginger and salt in a large pot.  Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
Add the bok choy and bell pepper; cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the fillets and cover.  Simmer until the fish is opaque, 6 to 8 minutes.  Sprinkle with the basil and serve with lime wedges.

Friday, August 19, 2016

store bought favorite: herdez salsa casera

I made the cuban pork tacos that I love and picked up a new salsa to try with them.  Look how much we ate in one sitting!  It tastes sooo good!  By day 2 it was gone and we were wishing I'd have picked up more than one jar.  Now we know better!!

store bought favorite: herdez salsa casera
I'm pretty sure it was less than $2 for this jar of delight.

Monday, July 25, 2016

vanilla crepes with fresh blackberries

Last night my husband took our daughter on a walk in the neighborhood and they collected a bucket of fresh blackberries.  My kids were astonished when he came home pulled out his own cookbook full of recipes he's collected and started making crepes.  They filled the crepes with fresh blackberries and sweetened condensed milk then drizzled a little more on top.  On some, we even sprinkled a little cinnamon on top.  A wonderful dessert.

vanilla crepes with fresh blackberries (my husband)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons melted butter

fresh blackberries
sweetened condensed milk
sprinkling of ground cinnamon

In a blender, mix together the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla.  Add the flour, sugar, salt and melted butter.
Heat a crepe pan over medium heat until hot.  Coat with vegetable oil or cooking spray.  Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and tip to spread the batter to the edges.  When bubbles form on top and the edges are dry, flip over and cook until lightly browned on the other side and edges are golden.  Repeat with remaining batter.
Fill crepes with blackberries, sweetened condensed milk and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

slow cooker chicken tinga tacos

Chicken Tinga Tacos.  They just sound delicious, don't they?  We LOVED them.  Three musts that make these better than other tacos:  the feta cheese sauce, the diced red onion and Tapatio sauce dashed over the top. 

slow cooker chicken tinga tacos (i heart nap time
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I used frozen)
1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes or Ro-tel tomatoes
1/2 diced onion
3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt

 feta crema
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used light)
3 tablespoons feta cheese (I used light)
1/2 lemon, juiced
whole milk, if needed

for serving:
diced red onion
crumbled feta
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes 
Tapatio sauce 

Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker.
In a blender, add the tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, taco seasoning and salt.  Pulse 3 to 5 times.  Pour over the chicken.  Cook on High for 6 hours (if chicken is frozen) or until you are able to shred the chicken.
For the feta crema, stir the cream cheese, feta and lemon juice until smooth.  Add milk if needed to thin it out.
Serve chicken tinga inside tortillas with your favorite toppings.

greek chicken burger

Wasn't sure how these would go over but we all enjoyed them very much!  The creamy ceasar dressing over the top is an absolute must.  Yum!

greek chicken burger (i heart nap time)
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup chopped red peppers
3 tablespoons feta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
whole wheat buns, toasted
optional toppings: sliced red onions, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, feta cheese
non-optional topping:  Caesar dressing (our very, very favorite is Ken's Light Creamy Caesar)

Turn on the grill to medium heat.
Place the chicken, peppers, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, oregano and pepper into a bowl.  Stir until combined and then shape into 4 patties.  Place on the grill and cook each side for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the inside is no longer pink.
Assemble your burger.  Definitely drizzle Caesar dressing over the top. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

easy slow cooker pork chops

I was looking for something easy and I found it.  These pork chops are super tender and flavorful.  The leftovers are just as tasty.  It's so nice to come home from the pool to a meal that is ready.  I love summer.

easy slow cooker pork chops (adapted from
1 cup chicken or beef broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil

In a bowl, whisk together the broth, garlic, paprika, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, oregano and basil.  Pour into the slow cooker.  Place pork chops into the slow cooker, cover and cook on High for 4 hours.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

grilled chicken in lime avocado quinoa salad

I loved this salad.  It's one that will be great to pull out for meals and snacks.  My kids didn't go for it but I had a feeling they wouldn't.  More for me!

grilled chicken in lime avocado quinoa salad (adapted from Chatelaine)
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, about 1 1/2 limes
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or cinder vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup minced red onion
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mozarella cheese, diced
3/4 cup broken, unsalted tortilla chips, broken (optional)
Preheat the grill on high.
Combine the water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 13 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Whisk together the oil, lime juice, vinegar, honey, cumin, salt, cayenne and cilantro.  Gently toss the avocado with the dressing and set aside.
Place the cooled quinoa, red pepper, red onion and avocado in a medium bowl.  Gently toss and set aside. 
Grill chicken breasts until they are done (I sprinkled mine with Pappy's garlic seasoning).  Cube.  Let the chicken cool then toss into the salad.  Add the diced cheese.  Serve on individual plates then sprinkle with tortilla chips, if using.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

peanut butter layered dessert

When I asked my kids how this dessert rates on a scale of 1-10 my family shouted "10!".  So there you have it.  Look at the list of ingredients- you know it's good.  It makes a big 9x13 pan!  Thank you, Mr. Milton Hershey for inventing chocolate + peanut butter.

peanut butter layered dessert (the idea room
1 box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup chopped peanuts, divided
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar 
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) tub frozen whipped topping like Cool Whip- thawed and divided
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 1/2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, butter, milk and egg.  Add 3/4 cup peanuts.  Spread into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Set aside and cool.
In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, condensed milk and vanilla until smooth.  Fold in 3 cups of the whipped topping then spread your mixture over the top of your chocolate crust.  Top with the rest of the whipped topping and peanuts.
In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and butter on high for one minute.  It may take longer.  Stir in vanilla until smooth.  Drizzle over the top of your dessert.
Refrigerate for 1-3 hours before cutting.

Note:  For the chocolate drizzle I chose to melt the butter and chocolate chips on the stove.  I increased the butter to 3 tablespoons because that's what seemed right for me.

spicy potato soup

My teenager told me she was bored one afternoon so I told her to find a recipe that looked good to her and I'd pick up the ingredients.  She chose this soup and made it while I was at a baptism this afternoon so dinner was hot and ready when I walked in the door.  What a great feeling!  The soup was simple and delicious.  It just needed a sprinkling of cheese over the top.  Mmmm.

spicy potato soup (recipe from cookbook Taste of Home Ultimate Five Ingredient Recipes)
1 pound ground beef
4 cups cubed peeled potatoes, 1/2" cubes
1 small onion, chopped
24 ounces tomato sauce
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (we love Tapatio)
shredded cheddar cheese for sprinkling

In a Dutch oven or large kettle, cook the ground beef until no longer pink; drain.  Add the potatoes, onion and tomato sauce.  Stir in the water, salt pepper and hot pepper sauce; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened.  Sprinkle some cheese over the top  Makes 2 quarts.  6-8 servings

slow cooker chicken taco meat

This recipe is a winner.  It's so fast and easy and I've made two batches this week because I love taco salad for lunch. I also love to put some of this chicken in a tortilla with some Trader Joe's enchilada sauce, roll it up and pour more enchilada sauce over the top and a sprinkling of cheese. Cook it in the microwave for a minute- it makes the most delicious chicken enchiladas!  Lunch made easy.

slow cooker chicken taco meat (
2 pounds frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 tablespoons bulk taco seasoning mix (I found mine at Costco)
2 cups chicken broth 

Dissolve taco seasoning into chicken broth.  Pour into slow cooker sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Gently place frozen chicken into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 8 or more hours.  Shred chicken.

Friday, July 8, 2016

quick and easy blueberry muffins

We picked blueberries again so this morning there was really only one right thing to do- make blueberry muffins!!  I had many hands helping me and these muffins were eaten right out of the oven, hot and delicious.  Excellent recipe.

quick and easy blueberry muffins (inspired taste)
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon or more for muffin tops
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg 
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  For standard-size muffins, line 12 standard-size muffin cups with paper lines.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Add the vegetable oil to a measuring cup that holds at least 1 cup.  Add the egg then fill the measuring cup to the 1-cup line with milk.  Add vanilla and whisk until combined.
Add milk mixture to the bowl with flour and sugar then use a fork to combine.  Do not over mix.  Add blueberries and gently fold them into the muffin batter.
Divide the batter between muffin cups.  Sprinkle a little sugar on top of each muffin.
Bake approximately 18 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

tilapia loins in tomato cream sauce

I got home later than usual this evening and wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do with my partly thawed fish but it had to be fast.  I looked in the fridge to see what I could use and threw this together.  It was sooo yummy!  My husband said it first. :)

fish in tomato cream sauce (pass the peas, please)
4 tilapia loins (from Costco), half thawed
1 1/2 cups light Classico Alfredo sauce
1/2 cup Trader Joe's pizza sauce
shredded Parmesan cheese

Place fish in a large nonstick fry pan (mine doesn't require any oil) on medium heat.  Mix the alfredo sauce and pizza sauce together.  Pour over the fish.  Cook for a few minutes on each side until fish is opaque.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and allow to melt just a little bit.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

s'more extravaganza

4th of July calls for s'mores.  Would you look at that s'more?  For starters, we used a limited edition marshmallow called S'moreMallows which are squares!  They're simply fantastic.  Then I took my friend Shonda's recommendation and we experimented with our s'mores.  I bought chocolate covered graham crackers, chocolate covered chocolate mint cookies and salted caramel & chocolate grahams which were all square in shape and Winco brand (so cost about $1.18 per package on sale).  My husband and kids experimented with them.  My son made the one pictured.  He simply roasted a marshmallow and placed it between two chocolate covered grahams.  My husband, however, stabbed the cookies with his roasters and put both the marshmallow and cookies into the fire making a very messy s'more which oozed chocolate and looked absolutely amazing.  If you don't mind a chocolate covered chin, this one is for you! :)

s'more extravaganza
1 package Kraft jet-puffed S'moreMallows
1 6-pack Hershey chocolate bars
packages of chocolate covered graham crackers (regular, mint and salted caramel)
package of regular graham crackers
roasting forks 

Experiment!  Find a way that works best for you.  We had a few fall into the fire during our experiments but everyone had a blast and were happy campers (and we didn't have to camp!).