Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Monday

Good morning! I hope you all had a great weekend! 
I participated in my first Holiday Open House of the season yesterday and had a great time meeting so many new people, sharing kitchen tips and easy entertaining ideas.
Today, on my Facebook page, I am sharing 5 new delicious recipes to get you through the week
will you hop over there and follow me? I post a new menu with recipes every Monday and kitchen tips throughout the week to inspire you to gather with your family around the table.
Here's the link, I hope you enjoy it!

On the Menu this Week:
Bacon, Linguini & Tomato Toss
Baja Shrimp Tostadas
Barbecue Chicken & Onion Pizza
Braised Chicken in Wine Sauce
Blackberry Balsamic Pork Stir-Fry Salad   

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Brandy Cider Sangria

It's Fall Ya'll! 
Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away and the weather here in Austin has only teased us with a few random cool days. Mulled Cider, Hot Chocolate and Hot Toddies are going to have to wait until we aren't so hot ourselves. 
Just because Mother Nature isn't bothering to be agreeable doesn't mean that we can't have a festive drink while we gather to celebrate all that we are thankful for.
I, for one, am very thankful for this drink! 
Brandy Cider Sangria- full of cinnamon, brandy and ginger-y apple spice in a refreshing chilled cocktail.
It's sure to warm your heart and not your hands!
Brandy Cider Sangria
1 cup apple cider
1 bottle dry white wine
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup honey
1 granny smith apple, sliced
1 fuji apple, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and allow to chill overnight or at least 4 hours

Monday, November 5, 2012

Artichoke and Olive Crock Pot Chicken

A few weeks ago I wasn't feeling great and it took me most of the day laying on the couch before I realized that 
we had nothing in the house for dinner. Luckily, I keep a very well stocked pantry 
(so well stocked that my husband frequently complains that I am hoarding for the end of the world)
 and I was able to take a peek in my pantry and freezer, grab some of my favorite things, 
throw them in the crock pot and enjoy a delicious meal a couple hours later!
 What is your favorite crock pot meal? I can never get enough of them!

Artichoke and Olive Crock Pot Chicken 
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
 1c mixed sliced olives 
2 c sliced frozen fajita veggies 
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning 
1/2 Tbsp fennel seed 
2 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes  (with juice)
6 Tbsp tomato paste 
1 (14.75 oz) jar marinated artichokes (not drained)
1/4 c marinated sun dried tomatoes 
1/2 c white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)

flat leaf Italian Parsley, chopped

 Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock pot. Generously salt and pepper them and then 
layer the remaining ingredients on top of the chicken. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. When ready to serve, 
stir in the parsley and place over rice or pasta.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Granola Chai Muffins

 I love Costco, and even though I technically don't NEED a whole pallet of toilet paper I love getting a good deal when I can find one. I recently purchased a large box of Pumpkin Flax granola thinking that I would use it as cereal for the kids in the morning and to make parfaits with yogurt and fruit. But, as much as I tried to push it,  my kids just are not going for it. So that leaves me challenged with sneaking healthy pumpkin flax granola into baked goods so they don't know that they are eating it.
And I am happy to tell you that I have succeeded. I took some of my granola and soaked it in chai tea concentrate (another delicious Costco find) and put it in these muffins with raisins, honey and buttermilk. They are not overly sweet and are really delicious warm!
I hope you enjoy these as much as my family does!

Granola Chai Muffins
1 cup granola (I use Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola)
1/2 cup Chai tea concentrate (I use Tazo Chai Tea Latte Concentrate)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins

In a small bowl combine the granola and chai tea concentrate and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray muffin pan with cooking spray or use liners.
In a large bowl pour the chai granola mixture with the oil, honey, vanilla, eggs, and buttermilk and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl measure and whisk the dry ingredients together. Mix all ingredients together until combined. Spoon muffin mixture into muffin pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Maple Apple Oat Muffins

 Maple, Apples, Oats and Granola all come together to make one amazing fall breakfast when you are on the go. My kids gobbled these up and I think this is on the top of their list of favorite muffins that we've made. I had homemade applesauce left over from crock pot applesauce we had made earlier in the week, but feel free to use store bought applesauce or totally change it up and use a different fruit puree. Bananas, pumpkin and even sweet potato would be a great substitute for the applesauce!
I say smile, and at least one of them makes a face....what can I say?!
My apple peeler/corer/slicer made such an easy job of breaking down the apples, and the kids love to use it. The apple comes out in a spiral which is a fun snack all on its own!
Maple Apple Oat Muffins
1/2 cup sugar
3 oz maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon spice blend
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup granola
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, maple syrup, eggs, oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon spice blend, and add them to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Mix in the oats, applesauce, and granola. 
Pour the mixture into muffin liners, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven 17 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when tested. Remove the muffins from the oven, and cool completely.  
Yield: 16 muffins  recipe adapted from here 

Be sure to visit my Pampered Chef Facebook Page as well, where I post a new menu each Monday to get you through the week without ever having to wonder what you should make for dinner!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yummly Love

It goes without saying that my blog has been neglected lately. 
I knew that my son starting kindergarten would make him tired and very busy, but I had NO IDEA how much him starting school would affect my schedule! Between having a ton of fun with my Pampered Chef business, new kindergarten routine for M, new pre-school for B, swim lessons and soccer twice a week we are always on the go and by the time I would be able to photograph any food to share, it's dark outside!

Yesterday I received a very unexpected note letting me know that my
was featured on Yummly! A totally unexpected fun surprise which was the perfect thing to nudge me along and get back to blogging!

Thanks so much Yummly for featuring my soup, I can't wait to try out all of the other delicious soups included in your "Simple Soups to Warm You Up This Season" feature! It's perfect for this newly cool weather we've been enjoying!
Now, please don't judge me by the quality of this picture- remember how I said it's dark by the time we're eating?!
This is one of my new favorite "crazy busy day" meals that is so easy, healthy and delicious I promise you will love it!
In the morning I made the tzatziki sauce in my Manual Food Processor, one of my Pampered Chef faves, and threw it in the fridge. (If you don't have one of these and want one- email me, I can help you get one for a discount or free!!) Then when we got home all I had to do was cook the fish, warm the tortillas in the microwave and assemble the salads. Dinner was done in 15 minutes!

Greek Isles Fish Tacos
Easy Tzatziki Sauce:
1 garlic clove
¼ cup red onion
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ of a cucumber seeded and peeled
Juice of ½ lime
1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Pampered Chef All Purpose Dill Seasoning

1 pound cod (or any firm white fish)
Salt and pepper
Pampered Chef Greek Seasoning

8 Flour tortillas
½ cup kalamata olives, sliced
2 cups salad greens

Place the garlic and red onion in the manual food processor. Pump the handle 3-5 times until diced. Add salt, pepper, cucumber, lime juice, yogurt and dill seasoning. Pump the handle 5-8 times until everything is mixed and place in the fridge until dinner is ready.

Season fish with salt, pepper and Greek rub. Heat a grill pan or large non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray with kitchen spritzer. Cook fish 4-7 minutes per side until flaky, turning only once.

Once fish is cooked, put in warm tortillas with salad greens, top with Tzatziki sauce and olives and serve.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bells Will Be Ringing

Do you hear that?
It's the sound of school bells and early alarm clocks.

My son started kindergarten last week and it has been a wonderful experience so far. He was so excited the first day he got up and was dressed before I got in his room in the morning.......let's see how long that lasts!
I have never been a morning person (and in general never really feel fully awake before 10am) so this early morning having to be at school on time every day thing is very new to me. Kindergarten is a whole new world compared to the relaxed schedule of the two day a week pre-school down the street that we are used to.

One of the things I'm most passionate about is what my kids eat
and being on a new (up before the sun comes up) schedule is really challenging the way I feed my kids breakfast. I no longer have a lot of time to cook something right before running out of the door but that doesn't mean that they can't get a great nutritional start to their day. Going from a half day program to a week long full day schedule is exhausting for little ones which makes it even more important that they get a great breakfast before that bell rings.

 I grabbed one of these containers from the Target dollar section to help with those mornings that we are running a little slower than normal and fill it with healthy delicious breakfast treats the kids can munch on in the car. One of the newest bars I made are a chocolate peanut butter banana protein bar. I filled it with some of the kids' favorite flavors and, once they were baked, wrapped them individually. All I need to do is grab them on the way out of the door!
Chocolate Banana Breakfast Bars
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon Plus Spice Blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350F.
    2. In a medium-sized bowl combine oats, flour, protein powder, cinnamon, and salt.
    3. In a separate bowl, combine mashed banana, almond butter, honey, and vanilla.
    4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
    5. Spread evenly onto a medium bar pan and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges start to turn brown
    6. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing.
    7. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze.

    What are your favorite grab and go treats?

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Star Wars 6th Birthday

     Every year I look forward to this moment. The "first glance at the cake" moment. 
    The one second that makes all my pre-party stress totally worth it.
    I am like almost every other mother I know; we put tremendous pressure on ourselves to make our children's parties "perfect"....whatever that means. 
    And as I was decorating his cake this year I was realizing that I'm not going to be able to do my little tradition much longer. Every year I have completely hidden the cake from Marshall until right before his party, had him walk in when it's completely finished and gotten a picture of his face when he first sees it. It is something that I adore, seeing the excitement and joy in his face when getting the first glance at something that I have poured my heart into especially for him. 
     The older he gets the harder it is to pull this off. It takes hours to make his cakes and he needs to be gone or asleep for me to work on it. And keeping him away from the fridge where I am hiding it is a job itself. But I am so grateful for one more year of cake surprises and he was just as enthusiastic as I hoped he would be.
      Marshall is completely and utterly obsessed with Star Wars, so there was really no other choice for the theme of this party. For the cake I did a Millennium Falcon out of chocolate cake and vanilla icing.
     The party was at the Austin Children's Museum and I think everyone had a great time! I got the idea for the lightsaber utensil/napkins on pintrest and filled Yoda cups with bounce balls, candy, glow sticks, stickers and chalk for the favors
     The cake was chocolate and the cupcakes were vanilla
    I got the idea for the chocolate covered lightsaber pretzel rods here
     I went a lot simpler this year with the food than I have in previous years. Han Solo Roll Ups for the adults (whole wheat wraps with ham, havarti cheese, spring mix greens and a spread I made out of sun dried tomatoes, mayo, garlic and a Pampered Chef Parmesan Garlic seasoning) and Jar Jar Links (crescent wrapped turkey little smokies) for the kids
     PB&J bombers that I cut out with these sandwich cutters and the cupcake decorating set from here. Luckily for me I live very close to a Williams-Sonoma outlet and was able to get all of these items on clearance!
     Droid Dip and Vader Veggies
    Yoda Melon, Trooper Scoopers and Jawa Juice

     The birthday Jedi ready for some cake and Princess Brianna with her Leia buns
     Make a wish!!
     I love random pictures when you see all of your guests having fun!
     As we were cleaning up Brianna had to put herself at the head of the table and pretend it was her day, even if ti was only for 5 minutes
    Once we got home Marshall got to open his gifts and I got to relax with a glass of wine. We were both happy!
    I have always found it stressful to open gifts in front of people. You never know what potentially embarrassing things kids will say, like "I didn't want this" or "that's it?" or when you receive three of the same item.  Do you open gifts at parties or do you wait till you get home?

    " Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is"

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Grapefruit Margarita with Smoked Serrano Ice

    Feeling spicy today? 
    I hope so, because I need your votes!
    The voting polls are open for the Fire on Ice Recipe Contest and will stay open until Thursday at midnight. It's a quick and easy click with no registration or any other nonsense like that
    Mine, of course is the 
     Thanks so much, and have a great week!

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Grapefruit Margarita with Smoked Serrano Ice


    It's kind of boring and even though it ends up in almost every cold beverage, we never really think too much about it.
    Until today....this ice is en fuego! Literally!

    The lovely people over at MarxFoods were nice enough to send me an assortment of dried chile peppers for their Fire on Ice Chile Recipe Contest and requested a recipe that used their chiles to bring the heat to something cold. 
    If you've never checked out their website before, please do. They don't just offer dried chiles but a wide assortment of foodie goodies that could have you browsing for hours. Truffles, exotic produce and cheeses that look divine and they also are a wonderful resource for recipes to inspire you as well!

    I hope they, and you, like what I came up with!
    Spicy smoked serrano ice used in a grapefruit margarita with an ancho lime rim.
    I couldn't decide which pepper to use since they all looked so interesting so I ended up using both the smoked serrano and the ancho chile.
    And I finally got to use my new cute ice trays.
     Smoky Spicy Ice....just waiting to swim in tequila.
     The makings of a fabulous glass rim. Margarita salt, sugar, lime zest and ancho chile powder
    Grapefruit Margarita with Smoked Serrano Ice

    To make the ice: 
    2 cups water
    3 smoked serrano peppers

    Bring water up to a boil in a medium saucepan. While the water is heating remove the stem and seeds from the smoked serrano peppers. Once the water comes up to a boil turn the heat off and add the peppers. Let the water cool to room temperature and strain the water through a fine mesh strainer. Pour into ice cube molds and freeze.

    To make the salt rim:  
    2 Tablespoons margarita salt
     1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
    1 teaspoon sugar
     the zest of 1 lime 

    Place all ingredients on a small shallow plate and stir until evenly combined.

    To make the margarita:  
    3 ounces freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
    1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
    1 ounce agave syrup
    1 ounce triple sec
    1 ounce silver tequila (I store mine in the freezer so it's always icy cold)
    1 handful smoked serrano ice cubes

    Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well.

    To assemble your drink rub the rim of your cocktail glass with a wedge of lime. Dip the edge into the salt mixture and pour the shaken margarita mixture into the glass. Serve and enjoy!

    A quick tip: to avoid having a mess on your counter and a salt lick at the bottom of your glass: when you are rimming your cocktail glasses I dip the wet rim into the salt or sugar mixture and then hold the glass right over the plate while lightly tapping the bottom of the glass. This removes any excess pieces that aren't fully stuck on!

    Thank you for all of the kind comments and the votes! It is amazing how a comment left by a perfect stranger can brighten your day and leave you smiling. Unfortunately I did not win this contest, but I look forward to trying again next year!

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    Honey Oat Bread

    My mom recently got me a subscription to Eating Well magazine and this is the first recipe I made from them.
    the nutrition profile description read as: Low calorieLow cholesterol, Low saturated fatHeart healthy, Healthy weightHigh fiber 
    Typically if I read that I instantly think: no flavor/cardboard
    Boy was I wrong! This bread is so good fresh out of the oven, toasted and dunked in chili, as a grilled cheese sandwich, topped with hummus and olives or served with jam.
    The house smells great while baking it, it's easy to put together, it's healthy and both my kids loved it. This bread will be a regular in our house for sure!

    Honey Oat Quick Bread

    • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided
    • 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour, or white whole-wheat flour (see Tip)
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 8 ounces (scant 1 cup) nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 1/4 cup clover honey, or other mild honey
    • 3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat milk
    1. Position rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°F. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats.
    2. Thoroughly stir together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork, beat the remaining 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, oil and honey in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in milk. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed (excess mixing can cause toughening). Immediately scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top.
    3. Bake the loaf until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. (It’s normal for the top to crack.) Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.
    And now for something NOT healthy but still burger
    Please please please vote HERE once a day until July 3!

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012


    yeah, you heard me right
    margaritas made in a large batch, poured into mason jars and stored in the freezer
    when you feel like it's time for a refreshing end to your day...or afternoon, just grab one out and shake it up
    you end up with frosty perfection in an instant
    I've seen this idea numerous places so I don't know where exactly it originated but I want to thank the first person that made these!
    No one wants to be stuck squeezing limes in the corner to make everyone a drink at a party and this is the perfect way to avoid that
    I always make my drinks to taste, not by measurement and this is what I did:
    In batches blend 1/2 of a small seedless watermelon, 1 cucumber, a large handful of fresh mint leaves, the juice of 4-6 limes and agave to taste. Strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer into a large pitcher and add your favorite tequila. Stir, taste and adjust if needed. Pour mixture into mason jars and fill one ice filled glass with the rest. That's your reward for all the hard work you just put into making drinks for everyone.
    When I served mine I garnished each with a mint sprig in the jar and cucumber and lime wheel on the rim.

    And please don't forget to VOTE HERE for my burger! The recipe with the most votes by July 3 gets a guaranteed trip to New York to compete for $10,000!
    I could buy a lot more jars if I won

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Bikes and Burgers

    Our gorgeous trip to Tahoe is over. 
     I even got to see snow on the last day....which was strange to see knowing that at the same time Austin was sweltering
     I am SO proud of my husband and his team for the money they raised for cancer research this past weekend. 
     120 mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe....can you imagine?! My body hurts just thinking about it!
    Please excuse the shiny face in this pic. While my husband and his team were making their way up and around a mountain on an 8 hour bike ride, pushing themselves when it got hard and when they were tired, never giving up, all in the name of raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society
     I was at the spa with a friend getting a facial
    Don't judge....cheering and supporting is hard too!
    I enjoyed myself more than I even thought I would on this trip but it was so good to get back home to the kids
     I am home and surrounded by a mess right now, but instead of doing laundry or any of the other boring duties that are calling to me I am dreaming of burgers and hoping one of them will have me planning another trip fairly soon
    Which one would you rather try?

    And if you find yourself trying to avoid chores like me, voting is a great way to pass the time! I promise, the dishes and laundry will still be there after you are done

    Pickle Baked Chicken Tenders with Creamy Chili Honey Sauce

    Thanks to Hellmann’s 100% Recycled Plastic Bottles and the “Real Taste, Less Waste” challenge I get to share with you a kitchen hack that...