Saturday, May 28, 2011


My family & I are off for a vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming! I will be seeing all my siblings there...along with their spouses & children. It's been a very long time since we've all been together! I don't know if I'll have time, or a way to post while away. But, if I do, I will! Otherwise, I will see you here when I return...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Growing Container Potatoes...

Every Mother's Day I do the same thing and receive the same thing. Some might find it boring, but for me, I get what I, it works out well. Each year, we head to our local gardening center {Gilbertie's, for the locals reading this here blog} and I get to go hog wild buying my plants for the season. Then, we come home and my 3 mens get busy helping me in the yard all day. It ends up being a back breaking day for me {and them} and the older I get, the more I'm reconsidering my Mother's Day pastime.
But, to get to the point...while there this year, I saw they had a display of burlap potato sacks, with seed potatoes and everything else you needed to get started. The burlap bag was like $2 and the seed potatoes were pretty cheap too. I had a container I could use to hold the bag and the, I decided to go for it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Key Lime Bars

These Key Lime Bars are yet another goodie I made for the Bake Sale. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best choice to it's delicate & not quite the sort of thing you expect to find there. They are popular with the "grown-ups" who appreciate a more sophisticated dessert.
I've been making this recipe for many years. In fact, I made them for this here blog over a year ago, but never posted them because I neglected to get a shot of the finished product. You know something's good when it gets devoured before you have a chance to get pictures!
Every time I make them I get asked for the recipe. I've also heard from multiple people who are not typically "Key lime" fans, that they loved them. I suspect it's the crust that sets these apart from other recipes...which is made using animal crackers...a brilliant idea!
The original recipe suggests to cut the bars into 2" squares, which I think is a bit overkill. I've always preferred to slice them into little bite-sized bars. But, of course, it's up to you...either way works!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bake Sale

As promised, some pics from the Bake Sale I helped organize for our school carnival this past weekend...there were too many amazing desserts for me not to!
I, of course, made some of the treats. Not as many as I had hoped, because it was hard to find the time to bake & do everything else that needed to be done.
I didn't have to do it all alone though...this year, I lucked out & got some helpers.
First, is my friend Christine...who I've known since taking a "Mommy & Me" nursery school class together with our kids, way back in 2004. She owns a restaurant in town, called Brendan's 101. She knows the in's & out's of running a food, how to price & merchandise the baked goods so they'd move & they did! She also brought the famous cupcakes her restaurant sells, which are a favorite of mine.
Second was Krissy, who is known around our school as being an extremely talented baker. We've been acquaintances for years, as our kids have been in the same school since way back in nursery school too. But, I finally got to know her this weekend & I'm so happy I did! This woman can bake! She decorates the most gorgeous sugar cookies ever, makes mermaid cakes and baked peanut butter & jelly muffins with candied bacon {omg!}.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chewy Caramel Popcorn & Pretzel Bars

This weekend, I once again volunteered to organize the Bake Sale at my children's school carnival. The carnival is one of the main fundraisers at our school, so making the Bake Sale a big hit was important to me. It was a big success & grossed more than it ever has! I got some great photos of the event, which I hope to post soon.
But, in the meantime, I thought I would share one of the treats I made for this year's event. I also have another treat on the horizon for stay tuned!
Last year, I made bags of caramel popcorn, which was a big hit! I planned on making it again this year. But, due to time constraints, I needed to find something easier. While these bars taste a lot like caramel corn, one batch made 24 {big} bars...which could be cooled & wrapped individually in plastic wrap. This ended up being a lot easier than stuffing little cello bags with sticky popcorn.
I also loved the idea of mixing sweet, chewy caramel popcorn with salty, crunchy pretzels...I'm a huge fan of the sweet/salty thing. These bars are delicious & we're a hit, not only at the Carnival, but with my family. The Bozos went nuts for them & DH offered me $20 to buy a batch before I even left for the Bake Sale. I told him he had to wait in line like everyone else...but, did cave & let him buy a few.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

{The Basics} Prepping Lunches

There are loads of basic recipes, or techniques that I use on a daily, weekly, monthly basis...things that are technically, not really recipes. But, rather, just ways that I do things...or, how I'm learning to do things. Like how to hard boil an egg? How to make chicken stock? What's the best way to cut an onion? And, so on...
Some days it's hard to be on top of everything that needs to get done. Being a Mom is no joke. So, if I come across a way to make the job easier, I'm all for it!
Today, I'm sharing how I recently found the best way to tackle school lunches {or, really any meal time}. But, before I do...a bit of a back story.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

My Mom & I, circa 1975. Happy Mother's Day to the best Mom ever & to all you wonderful Mom's out there! I hope you all have a relaxing & special day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

I'm so happy that it's Spring! It's so much easier to eat healthy foods this time of year. All my favorite fruits & veggies are coming into season.
One said favorite is strawberries. Buying organic strawberries off season is nearly impossible...and, when you can find them, they're outrageously expensive. When I saw a pound of beautiful looking strawberries at the market this week, I grabbed some.
I was thinking about making a Mother's Day appropriate recipe...something that would be really pretty for a brunch. I've had strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing before & I thought I'd be able to throw something together. It came out really good...and met the approval of the whole family. This salad is perfect for kids, as it's just sweet enough to please them & it also has fruit in it!

Bozo Picture of the Week...

Baseball season has begun once again. This year my little Bozo isn't playing.

But, he does attend all the games, where he gets lots of practice perfecting his tripods & hand stands.

My big guy is playing in the AAA's this year. Which means he can steal bases, gets to play with a hard ball [versus the softies used for younger kids] & there's no more coach pitch at all. Here he is right before he hit a RBI triple!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Mexican do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
In America, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates Mexican culture, traditions & food. In other words, it's my kind of holiday...especially when there's Margaritas involved.
Over the years, I have posted a few Mexican inspired dishes here. I thought I would share, for those who are celebrating, hosting a party, or just feel like having something good for dinner.
Appetizers, Side & Drinks: Margaritas, Watermelon Margaritas, Guacamole, Salsa Verde Cruda, Mexican Chopped Salad, Havana Black Beans Main Course: Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce, Steak Tacos, Tamale Pie, Chicken Chili Verde & Fish Tacos.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lemony Chicken Tortellini Soup

I'm very behind in my posts & for that, I apologize. This past week was a total wash for me. Between losing a week of work time due to spring break & then a whole house full of sick people, it's been pretty much impossible to get anything done.
Because we had so much sickness last week, I wanted to make some chicken noodle soup. But, I didn't want to make it the way I usually do...which pretty much takes the whole afternoon. I wanted something easy & quick, but I didn't have any frozen stock on hand. So, I came up with what will now be my "weeknight" chicken soup!
It's easier because instead of boiling chicken for hours to get a flavorful stock, I started off with a bit of store-bought chicken broth, combined with water. I also added in some aromatics, in the form of some onion, lemon & star anise...which resulted in a pretty good base for soup in less than half the time. The star anise added a subtle sweetness to the soup, but was not at all an overpowering licorice flavor.
I added in the typical things my kids love in their soup...shredded chicken breast, carrots, pasta & of course...parsley {which is more for me, because I love the flecks of green in there}. This time, I used tortellini...specifically Barilla spinach & cheese tortellini. I have no idea if the spinach in those delicious little bits of cheesy pasta adds any nutritional value, but I have to tell you that my kids had no idea they were eating something with spinach in it! But, of course, you can use any pasta you'd like here...plain cheese tortellini would work well too.