Monday, December 15, 2014

BLT with Mushrooms and Jalapeno

What do you do when it's a half hour before dinner and you just don't know what to make? Maybe you do one of the following.

a) You end up throwing together a number of foods that makes no sense together and is not really a balanced meal: For example, you make a box of stuffing and then serve it with re-fried beans on tortillas with a side of macaroni and cheese.

b) You get really creative and have a great idea that your husband proclaims is "the best _______ ever!"

I may have nights where I do choice "a," but I have other nights where I advance to choice "b."

The other day was a definite choice "b," and is a really quick, easy recipe, a BLT with Mushrooms and Jalapeno.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pie Crust in a Food Processor

Have you seen this pin to make pie crust with a cake mix? I thought it sounded wonderful, but I wanted to make it from scratch. I decided to adapt my pie crust to taste like cake. I took a pumpkin pie to a church event/contest and it won the best crust award. I had to admit that I was proud that my homemade crust got noticed. Pictured below is a cherry pie I made.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Pie

When I was a kid and lived in Tucson, we always celebrated my July birthday with my grandma, whose birthday is just a few days before mine.

One year when I was probably 9, my grandma called and said, "Your mom is making me a cake. Is there a special dessert that isn't cake that you want for your birthday?"

I told her I wanted pumpkin pie. Some adults would have told the 9-year-old that you don't eat pumpkin pie in July, and to pick something else. I'm lucky the adults in my family all thought it was a great idea. I still have pumpkin pie for my birthday every year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yeast Dough Trick

Do you ever let your yeast dough rise, punch it down, and then find the dough too sticky to work with? The temptation is to reach for the flour. Work in enough flour, and you can sculpt it anyway you want. However, if you add a lot more flour, your rolls can become tough and dry! That's why I wanted to share with you some of my tricks for working with yeast dough.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pumpkin Wreath

This cute pumpkin wreath will help dress up your door for fall. I think it's cute for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. The pumpkins remind me of pie, and I love everything that reminds me of pie.
Another great thing about this wreath base is that I can pull off the pumpkins and put on decorations for other holidays: the pumpkins are attached with straight pins rather than glue, so it's easy to exchange the pumpkins for another decoration, like Shamrocks for Saint Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cilantro Lime Pilaf

Sometimes healthy foods are boring. It's true. But I really wanted to make a new healthy dish, and I really wanted it to be fun and delicious. Not only was I happy to eat this Cilantro Lime Pilaf, but my husband gave his approval as well. He likes his with hot sauce.
This pilaf has lots of flavor and is filling, made with lentils and Bulgar. The fresh cilantro and lime juice make this really tasty. I wrote about Bulgar in a past post, Bulgar Banana Parfait, if you want more information on it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pumpkin Oatmeal

Ever make a recipe and have leftover pumpkin puree? I freeze mine in ice cube trays to make into smoothies, shakes, and oatmeal, especially this time of year. This easy pumpkin oatmeal is hardy and delicious with lots of pumpkin flavor, brown sugar, and raisins. This breakfast is definitely inspired by pumpkin pie!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Glazed Applesauce Cookies

These sweet apple cookies with raisins are always fun to take to friends and events. I remember taking these to neighbors in Utah, and one neighbor asking for recipe because she, "love[s] the little raisins in them." I took these to a church event in Sacramento just a few weeks ago and was told "they taste like a trip to Apple Hill." Apple Hill is a group of ranches near Sacramento with lots of apple orchards and fun events. I was flattered that these cookies reminded her of such a neat place.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Garlic Ranch Pizza with Bacon

One of my favorite meals, this pizza really has 2 secrets: the tasty garlic Ranch sauce, and the bacon. This works either with a homemade pizza crust recipe or a store bought one. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

BLT Pasta

I hope everyone had a great summer. In Tucson where I grew up, the kids are already in school for the fall semester. What did you do over the summer?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jean Shorts in 15 Minutes

The night before we left for a family reunion in Oregon, I decided I needed to turn a pair of holey jeans into shorts for our trip. Luckily I knew how to do it quickly. In just 15 minutes I cut them off and put a hem that looks nice without having to sew all the way around.
Basically, you cut the jeans, zigzag the edges to finish them, fold them up twice, and then tack them in place with vertical lines (more detailed directions below).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Strawberry Lime Smoothie

I love sweetening my smoothies with fruit alone, but that usually means using a banana. While I love bananas in smoothies, my husband, his sister, my niece, and lots of people I know really don't like everything to taste like a banana.
This smoothie has honey, which is a good, natural source of sugar, but you probably should accompany this smoothie with whole grains so the fiber can help you digest the sugar. (Fruit has natural sugar in it, but it also has fiber which helps you digest the sugar in it. Honey doesn't have fiber in it.) The strawberries I used were very sweet, which helped make a tasty smoothie.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frito Pie

This meal is always a winner, even if everyone is tired of eating leftover chili. While Fritos aren't healthy, I still buy them occasionally. After all, I have some tricks for making my chili healthy, adding hidden pureed vegetables and even oatmeal.

The other day I was busy and at the store and so I grabbed a bag of Fritos to dress up some chili I had in the freezer. If you're wondering, chili freezes beautifully.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Banana Walnut Muffins

I think I buy bananas every single time I run to the grocery store-every time! Even if I'm just running to the corner because we're out of milk, I find myself grabbing more bananas too.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Simple Miniature Cheesecakes

These delicious treats are great for a summer day, and they don't heat up your kitchen at all! These cheesecakes were great when we had some missionaries from our church over for dinner. It was fun to let everyone put on whatever toppings they chose. My favorite was raspberry jam with chocolate chips.
Because it takes no cooking or baking, this would be a great recipe to let kids make. I imagine most 8-year-old kids could manage this with a little supervision.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Strawberry Plum Smoothie

healthy breakfast, no sugar added plum strawberry
Ripe, tart plums give this smoothie a bit of a kick, which is just what I need in the morning. 
 This turns a very happy pink color, which is always a nice way to start your day too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sweet Strawberry Carrot Muffins

When I bought a lot of strawberries, I started dreaming of the things I could make with them, including strawberry muffins. One of my goals is to eat more vegetables so I decided to make some strawberry carrot muffins. Unfortunately for the world, searching "Strawberry Carrot Muffins Recipe" does not yield lot of results that just feature the strawberry and carrots. Fortunately for me, I had some ideas about how to put them together.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Salisbury Steak

Before I tell you about a dinner recipe that my husband would never refuse, I do want to make an announcement about my commenting system. It's been updated, and I'm afraid I lost past comments, but thank you so much for them. I love hearing from you!
Now onto dinner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Obsessed with these Sausage Muffins

I have made sausage cornbread muffins before, but yesterday I had a new brainstorm. It wasn't a regular brainstorm. There wasn't just wind in this storm, but water raging and a flash of lightning and so began a new recipe: sausage muffins with sauteed mushrooms, jalapenos, red pepper, garlic, cheese, carrots, and even some whole wheat flour, served with Tapatio or Sriracha hot sauce.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Peppered Pasta

This spicy dish has lots of flavor and vegetables without much fat. It features red pepper, spinach, mushrooms, and lean ground turkey.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Strawberry Yogurt and Oats

Has summer hit hard for anyone else? It seems like it's been about a million degrees out here in Northern California. Normally I love oatmeal for breakfast, but it's just so hot to eat. I sometimes will blend 3 tablespoons of dry oatmeal into my smoothies, but I was ready for something different.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Easy Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs

My husband, Jay, told me recently that he had a new trick to make hard boiled easy to peel, and that he just used it. When he told me how, I said, "That won't work!"
I was proved wrong.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My mother always made huge batches of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies when I was little. She'd make quadruple this recipe. Now you're wondering why this post is on oatmeal raisin cookies when I am remembering oatmeal chocolate chip cookies: my husband likes regular cookies to have chocolate chips and his oatmeal cookies to have raisins in them. He has an explanation about textures: oatmeal cookies are chewy just like raisins, while chocolate chip cookies are smooth just like cookies without oatmeal.
Personally, I love these cookies with either chocolate chips or raisins. It's an old family recipe.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Turkey Hand Pies with a Buttery Wheat Crust

I first made this for March 14, but have worked on my recipe since then, and I am finally satisfied with it.
You do know what March 14th is, right? If you don't, hopefully someone will fill you in below in the comments section.

Pie Crust*

3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour (or use more white flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup shortening
4-6 tablespoons cold water

*Or use a prepared single pie crust. 

Pie Crust Directions

1) Stir together flours and salt. 

2) Using a pastry blender or 2 knives (or even your bare fingers) cut the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

3) While stirring, add the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, sprinkling over the dry parts. When the dough forms into a ball, cover well and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to a day.

Note: Refrigeration will help your crust be light and flaky and tender. It will also make it a lot easier to work with. This is my main reason to do it, but in a pinch, I have skipped this step. The real butter will also make your crust flaky and tender too.

Filling Ingredients

1 carrot, sliced
1/2 a potato, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 a jumbo sweet yellow onion, diced
1/4 pound lean ground turkey or beef
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and pepper
Bake at 400 for 10-15 min

Filling Directions

1) Steam or boil the carrot and potato pieces for about 10 minutes until tender. Lightly salt and pepper.

2) Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat cook onion in olive oil 4-6 minutes until clear. Add ground turkey or beef and lightly salt and pepper. Break into small pieces and add ketchup, cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce, stirring well. Cook for 6-7 minutes until browned through, stirring frequently.


1) Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

2) Cut prepared pie crusts into four 4 x 7 inch rectangles. I usually end up rolling out the dough, cutting three of them, then having to re-roll the scraps to get the fourth.

3) Place the cut dough on the baking sheet--they will be hard to move once they are filled, so fill on the sheet. Place a small amount of potatoes, carrots, meat, and onions in the lower half of the crust. Fold the top over and seal with your fingers or a fork. Repeat with the remaining crusts. 

4) Bake 10-15 minutes until crusts are slightly browned and firm from being cooked through. Serve with A1 Sauce.

Just a reminder of my question: Why would I make meat hand pies on March 14?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Zucchini Multigrain Muffins with Raisins

Zucchinis are back in season and one of my favorite muffin recipes uses them. These are about 50% whole grain, but are still really delicious without too much sugar or fat.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Date Night Reese's Bar

Something about chocolate is just romantic, especially since this easy recipe only makes 4 servings.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Orange Banana Smoothie with Carrot

I had some leftover cooked carrots the other day and decided to use them with a smoothie. After some experimentation, I found a combination that tasted really good and the carrot gave it a really pretty orange color.
Inspired by a creamsicle, I decided to use some milk in this smoothie.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Orange Chicken

One of my favorite meals is orange chicken, whether made at home for a light version or going out to eat. This version is flavorful without being overly sweet.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Orange Poppy Seed Pancakes

These pancakes are decadent and tender. They have so much flavor. I love that the only ingredient in them that I don't keep on hand at all times is an orange. It's orange season, so I'm always getting more.
I don't know about you, but a lot of my meals are mostly based on things I always keep on hand. I sometimes look at recipes that call for things like fresh leaks, half-and-half  and cream and think, "Well, that's not going to happen."
It has to be a really good looking recipe for me to buy lots of new ingredients just for it.
Anyway, these pancakes are amazing, and just a bit naturally sweeter than lemon poppy seed recipes.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Versatile fajitas can be served with just a tortilla or with beans, rice, spinach, chopped tomato, cheese, and sour cream. I've used this recipe for years and even my 2-year-old nephew would eat the chicken in a tortilla with refried beans and rice.

This recipe is great because you can have everything easily chopped and prepped before hand. I have walked in the door and been able to have a hot dinner on the table in 10 minutes.
If you're making for a bigger crowd, you can double the recipe to serve 8-10 and just heat up 2 big frying pans or woks to cook it all at once.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This well-loved favorite has evolved over the years. The fact that it's a good solid main dish helps sell it both for me and for my husband. Here's how my recipe looks today.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chicken Shawarma

In 2012 The Avengers movie came out. In it Iron Man, who has almost died saving the world from attacking aliens, brings up shawarma. "I don't know what it is, but I really want to try it." I guess even heroes reevaluate their lives when they almost die.

If you watch after the credits, you actually see a scene of them eating shawarma together in a mostly demolished building, all of them almost too exhausted and beat up to lift food to their mouths.

Well my husband recommended I learn how to make shawarma. My sister-in-law and I first made it together and it's become a favorite recipe in our house.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wheat Pita Bread

Restaurants make great pitas, and now I can make delicious, healthy ones at home too.

Fresh pitas are actually a very easy yeast bread to make: You mix it, knead it, let it rise once for an hour, then cook it in a frying pan on the stove. I make the dough in the bread maker so it's even easier.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Peanut Butter Oatmeal and a Kiwi Orange Smoothie

These recipes are a bit of a no-brainer, but I thought I'd share because I've been eating peanut butter oatmeal since I was in college. Studying always made me starving.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Soft Caramel Topping

I love caramel, but I hate it when it gets stuck in my teeth. I saw a recipe for chocolate chip cookies with caramel that has the store bought caramels. I wondered if there was another way.
This recipe starts with basic chocolate chip cookies. After they come out of the oven, top with easy-to-make caramel with basic ingredients--brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meal Planning for People with Different Tastes--Dealing with "Picky" Eaters

Cooking for others can be a real challenge, especially when they have different tastes.
I even remember as a kid every time I went to a birthday party and they wanted to order pizza, there was always that one kid that said they would only eat cheese pizza, and "No, I can't pull off toppings because I can still taste it." If you were lucky, you got some of the pepperoni pizza. If you were unlucky, you got stuck with some of the cheese pizza.

I cook for my family and have cooked a lot for my extended family too (especially for my in-laws. That can be a learning experience! The differences in how we eat and cook crack me up a bit. When you're a kid, you kind of assume other families are like your own.)

I do my best to make balanced meals that people will enjoy and eat. Getting kids, and even adults, to eat vegetables is hard.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Make your own breadcrumbs. Why pay several dollars for breadcrumbs when you can make yours from bread scraps at home?  

I usually use breadcrumbs either to coat chicken (like shake and bake), or to put on baked casseroles, like baked spinach or homemade macaroni and cheese.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chicken Nuggets--healthy option

Crispy chicken nuggets will make your picky eaters--and yourself happy. The fact that it's lean chicken with flour, egg, breadcrumbs, and spices will make this guilt free. Just serve it with vegetables.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mary's Amazing Biscuits--only 3 ingredients

These are great as a last minute addition to dinner (or breakfast) because they're so fast and easy. I also love that because they have mayonnaise in them rather than an egg, I can easily halve the recipe if I only want 4-5 biscuits. That means I can whip up a few fresh for every meal for 2. And don't worry, you can't taste the mayonnaise at all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Skillet Lasagna

I made this several times for my sister-in-law and her family. It comes together really quickly--in about 30 minutes, but with the full lasagna taste. It's especially great when you don't want to heat up the entire oven for an hour. And kids like spiral noodles. To be honest, I think spiral noodles are pretty cool too.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lentil Soup

Last Thanksgiving my husband, Jay and I took a great 10 hour drive to visit family and friends back in Utah. It was great, but does anyone else feel kind of icky when you get back after eating so many rich foods? Maybe it's just Jay and me, but we're always ready for real food after a long car ride of travel snacks.
So I made sure I had this soup and some sausage in our freezer for when we got back on a Sunday evening. It microwaved while we unpacked the car and took a walk. My body was so happy with me for feeding it hot, healthy lentils.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cinnamon Fingers

Happy Pi day!
I already shared Frito Pi(e) with you, but here's something else. If you're making a pie with a traditional crust, you probably will have some dough scraps leftover. Why not make leftover pie dough into cinnamon fingers? Or, if you're craving them, just whip up some dough just for this recipe.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Husband's Favorite Broccoli

I can only think of a few surefire ways to get my husband to eat vegetables, and this broccoli is one of them. It comes with a lot of good flavor and smells.

husband's favorite broccoli
The garlic and lemon on it is yummy, but the real trick is roasting it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hermits--Molasses Cookies with Raisins

This exact recipe originated over 100 years ago.
I didn't know what a hermit was until I found this recipe in a very old cook book, which had been put online as a part of Project Gutenberg. I downloaded Things Mother Used to Make by Lydia Maria Gurney here.
Hermits are molasses cookies with chopped raisins in them. I have a favorite molasses cookie recipe, but never thought to add raisins. What a great idea!
molasses cookies with raisins cookie cutter shapes
It was also so fun to look at a cookbook from someone who lived in a very different world than I did.