Thursday, September 4, 2014

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

I just pinned this recipe last week and decided to make it last night. It did not disappoint! I added one pound of chopped chicken, used half a can of green chiles instead of jalapeno, and opted for rainbow quinoa. It was delicious. Here's the recipe: One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Upcylce Your Kid's Favorite Tee

How I Made a Snuggle Monster!

Tonight, I saw a pin of a shirt being recycled in the most creative way. Basically, take a favorite shirt that is too small (or stained, etc) and cut out the graphic design, including the back. Then sew it inside out, flip it right side out, stuff it, and sew it closed.

3 hours of (hand) sewing later, the monster was free! 

That was so fun. I can't wait to see what James thinks of it in the morning! Now I need to find some more shirts....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkin Bread with Spiced Buttercream

This pumpkin bread is moist and delicious- and it only gets better the next day, if it lasts that long! Frost it with spiced buttercream, and you know it's Fall. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Mix the pumpkin, oil and eggs. Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well. Bake at 350 until a knife comes out clean; about 45 minutes for bread and about 20 minutes for muffins.

Spiced Buttercream 

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Frost once bread/muffins are room temperature.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Honey Peanut Butter Cookies


I was craving peanut butter cookies this afternoon and wanted to bake a healthier version than some previous recipes I've used. I used to be repelled by the thought and smell of honey, but I am slowly warming up to it. Lately, I have been really enjoying it ever since re-discovering my favorite peanut butter. I think I found a perfect combination of "healthy" and "treat" in this cookie. James and I especially love them, but even David enjoyed them (and he usually despises peanut butter cookies)!

Let me know what you think!

Honey Peanut Butter Cookies


1/4 cup butter, softened (I put mine in the microwave at 40% power for 1 minute)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Creamy)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 egg
1.5 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Pre-heat oven to 350ยบ F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix butter, peanut butter, honey, sugars and egg until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and mix well.

It's up to you to choose the size of your cookies. If you want smaller cookies, use a teaspoon. If you want bigger cookies, use a tablespoon. Scoop desired amount of dough and roll into a ball. Place on un-greased baking sheet and using a fork, make a criss cross pattern on top to flatten the dough. If your fork sticks to the dough, dip it in some flour after every other cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sugar and bake for 8-11 minutes.

Baking Tip: They will look under-baked when you take them out of the oven. As long as there is a hint of golden brown near the edges and the bottoms are honey colored, they are done. Don't over-cook them or they will be more like ginger snaps when they cool. :)

Makes 2 dozen medium size cookies.


recipe inspiration credit: Allrecipes

Menu Plan Monday {March 16-22}

March 16-22 (7 days)

Beverage Options:

Iced Vanilla Latte
La Croix Naturally Flavored Carbonated Water

Breakfast Options:

Zucchini Slice
Potatoes O'Brian and Toast
Oatmeal with Fruit and Nuts
Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuits (using Applegate Farms Nitrate Free- Free Range Bacon)
French Toast
Kashi Waffles and Bagels

Snack Options:

Organic Poptarts
Straw-Banana-Blueberry Smoothies
Veggies and Blue Cheese Dressing
Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Lunch Options:

Bean Crisps
Grilled Cheese
Natural Mac & Broccoli
Leftovers from Dinner

Dinner Options:

Beef Shepherd's Pie
Pepperoni Pizza and Salad  (using Organic Prairie Nitrate Free Pepperoni)
French Onion Soup
Irish Beef Stew (recipe coming soon!)
Baked Ziti
Seven Layer Burritos
Chili and Cornbread

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie

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There are no words for this yummy pie. I made it for David's 29th birthday a couple weeks ago and dare I say it was better than the fancy french bakery version we bought from Julie Anne's every year in LA? Yes, I dare. Just like the snow dares to fall even though we TWO DAYS away from SPRING!

Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie 


  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked ( I used Marie Calender's frozen- next time I will make it fresh!)
  • whipped topping (recipe below)


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 cup of the coconut and the vanilla extract. Pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
  2. To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan and bake in a 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Be sure to stir every minute or so to prevent burning the coconut! 
  3. To make whipped topping, beat 8 oz whipping cream + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (icing sugar) + 1 teaspoon vanilla until desired texture is reached. Yum!
  4. Top with whipped topping and toasted coconut. 

recipe inspiration credit: Allrecipes

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings

I love chicken and dumplings. Especially the dumplings. To me, it is comfort food at its best: easy, nourishing and delicious. I thought Spring was coming yesterday because it got up to 55°F and the sky was sunny and blue. It was not to be though, because when I woke up this morning and peeked out the window, it was blindingly white as snow was falling and continued to coat the land with 5 inches of snow. Bah Humbug! The upside to cold weather is that we get to eat more hearty comfort foods. Enter this yummy dish:

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Chicken and Dumplings

serves 4 (2 adults and 2 children)


For the chicken base:

2 cups veggies (corn, peas and chopped carrots)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I removed the bitty chicken bits in ours)
1 chicken breast, boiled and chopped/shredded (about 1 cup)
1.5 c milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the dumplings:

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (use aluminum free)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup milk


Boil and chop or shred your chicken breast. Set aside. In a large pot, mix the can of cream of chicken soup, milk, veggies, and salt and pepper. Add the chicken and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to avoid sticking. Reduce heat and cover. Prepare the dumpling dough.

In a mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and butter until coarse and crumbly. Add the milk and stir until a stiff dough has formed. You can either pull of bits dough and just plop it in the pot, or you can form dumpling balls and place them neatly spaced. I did a little of both. Either way, once the dumplings are in the pot, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into one of the dumplings to be sure they are cooked through.

Serve and enjoy!

chicken base inspired by this recipe. dumpling recipe credit here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Natural Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff was one of my favorite meals as a kid, but once I found out there was mustard in the sauce, I could never bring myself to make it- I just couldn't see mustard, wine and sour cream working together. Needless to say, when I made it without the mustard, something was missing- duh! It was that "stroganoff" taste. This time, I added the mustard back in, and used strips of beef instead of ground beef. I also made my own "cream of mushroom soup" instead of using the canned, and it was absolutely delicious! I will be making this again and again, and hope you enjoy it too! 

Natural Beef Stroganoff

  • Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beef chuck roast, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1. 5 cups condensed beef broth (canned or bouillon made)
  • 1 teaspoon prepared french mustard
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup white wine
(serve with egg noodles or rice)


Remove any fat from the beef and cut into strips 1/2 inch thick by 2 inches long. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. 
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Whisk in the flour making sure there are no lumps. 
Lower the heat and stir in the mustard and mushrooms. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Five minutes before serving, stir in the sour cream, as well as any additional salt and pepper to taste. Best served with hot egg noodles. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie? Well, I'll admit that I'm pretty picky when it comes to cookies, and I've tried at least 4 other recipes for chocolate chip cookies that have left me disappointed. Short of using shortening, I thought I would never find a recipe for a crispy AND chewy home-baked-with-butter recipe. Turns out, this recipe is just that. The secret is in the addition of baking soda and water. Try it, you won't regret it. These buggers are keepers! :)

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe credit: Dora/Allrecipes

  • Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 


  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour and chocolate chips. Shape a teaspoonful (or tablespoon, depending on your preference) into a ball, then place on parchment paper on cookie sheet. 
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy!
  • Makes 2 dozen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Easy Copycat Breadsticks

The question is, which restaurant are they copycatting? I'll leave that up to you to decide. Word around the internet is Olive Garden, but David and I think they are much more like Pat and Oscar's. If you're from anywhere other than Southern California, you probably won't recognize Pat and Oscar's, but their breadsticks are CA famous! In fact, they are my absolute favorite breadsticks, hands down. These are very similar- they are fresh baked, chewy with a crisp edge and have the perfect amount of butter, salt and garlic. They need to rise for about 45 minutes, so start them before the rest of dinner, then pop them in the oven right before you're about to sit down to eat. Enjoy!!

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Easy Copycat Breadsticks
inspired by various recipes from around the internet



4 cups unbleached white flour, plus more for kneading
2.5 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1.5 cups very warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (equal to one packet)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Garlic Butter:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
1.5 teaspoons sea salt


If you live in a cold climate, turn your oven to 200°F. Turn it off once it has pre-heated.
Mix the sugar and yeast in the water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Combine flour and salt, then add to the yeast mixture. Add the melted butter and mix.
Remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes, adding more flour by the tablespoon until the dough is stretchy and no longer sticking to your hands.
Roll out into a log, then cut into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into the size of stick you desire, about 8-10 inches long. Place 6 of them on a baking sheet and place in the warm oven. Allow to rise for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, then pre-heat to 400°.
While the oven is pre-heating, combine the melted butter, garlic powder and sea salt. (don't brush them yet!)
Bake sticks for 5-7 minutes, until they are nearly done, then remove from the oven and brush with the garlic butter. Bake for an additional 2-4 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and resist the urge to bite the edge off of a burning hot bread stick. (it hurts!) Serve with your favorite Italian dish and salad and enjoy!!

PS. basket & liner can be found here.