Saturday, June 30, 2012

my first foodie pen pal..

The Lean Green Bean

wanna join?? it was fun!!

i stumbled upon this site the lean green bean foodie-penpals and thought it sounded like a lot of fun.. growing up i always had a pen pal.. sometimes 2 or 3 at one time.. i even had one once in indosia.. when i was in my tweens one came to stay with me for the weekend once.. her family was in town coincidentially and it all worked out.. so when i saw foodie pen pal it was right up my alley.. (directions and how you can join are at the bottom of this post.. you do not need to have a food blog or any blog for that matter.. it's just fun..) i joined and then your assigned someone to send a basket too and then somone else is assigned to send a basket to you... you exchange emails getting to know any diet restrictions, etc.. (good thing since i am allergic to so many things..) then you, armed with your knowledge of the person, set out to create them a fun "gift" box..  my foodie pen pal (his sites are here and here..) noticed on my blog that we camp and fish.. so he sent all the ingredients to make a wonderful healthy breakfast while camping.. (can't wait to make it..)

there is evaporated milk, dried cranberries and prunes.. quinoa, brown sugar, cinnamon, flaxseed meal and pecans.. plus some fun fishing lures for pete!!

it's so fun to get the box it's like christmas you have no idea what's in it!! my food pen pal sent a cute story telling how to make the recipe too!!

it was alot of fun and i had a blast making my foodie pen-pals goodie box.. you can see hers here at her website.. noheaola

The Lean Green Bean

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!
***If you’re in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at to get involved!

If you’re interested in participating for July, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by July 4th as pairings will be emailed on July 5th!

Friday, June 29, 2012

summer turkey chili...

chili is not something i have ever made in the summer or something i even think about making in the summer.. it's kinda like you don't wear white after labor day.. (which i strictly adhere too..) so it would stand to reason, chili, the dish i make on halloween or when camping on new years doesn't get made during the summer, (probably because it's been known to get into the 120's here to hot for chili) i'ma a rule breaker but this is something that isn't done.. well until now.. you see i was driving home the other night and was deciding what to make.. usually i have my meals planned but now that it's boating season all my meal planning, regular shopping, being organized (yeah right like i am ever organized) goes out the proverbial window.. it's lake time people i can't be bothered with the mound of laundry piling up on my couch, the kaotic meals that are made in frantic panic mode.. it is what it is.. we are used to it during the summer.. okay so now back to driving home.. i had taken out some ground turkey and chili was the first thing that came to mind, which i quickly dismissed as an act of pure lunacy.. but then i kept thinking about it and since my daily drive home is anywhere between 40-60 minutes that's a lot of thinking..i finally gave in and embraced my inner rebel and decided i would make chili in the SUMMER.. (covering head from lightening about to strike) but i thought Ah hah if i make summer chili i am not breaking any rules!! so what is summer chili you might ask?? well, i will tell you, it's the chili i made the other night is what it is..i only had one can of kidney beans.. well that's ok this summer chili shouldn't have 2 anyway.. so instead i added a can of corn.. then i realized i didn't have chili powder.. which is ok.. why????????? because it's summer chili so i pretty much used anything i could find in my cabinet spice wise.. which worked out well because our last trip to san diego there is a spicy store in sea port village and i got some cool (or rather hot) spices..i only had italian stewed tomatoes and even with it being summer chili i didn't think that would go so i used tomato sauce.. well it seemed a little boring so i added bbq sauce, beer and worcestershire sauce.. let me tell you it was freakin good!!! like really good.. like i might make it again next week good.. but i am declaring it summer chili and can only be made from june to september.. make some, if your a rule breaker like me, and i bet you won't be dissapointed..

summer chili

prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 1 hour
servings: 6-8


2 lbs. ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of whole kernal corn, drained
1 can of tomato sauce
1 cup bbq sauce
1/2 can of beer
1 tblsp. worcestershire sauce
olive oil
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. ancho chili powder
2 tsp. new mexican chili powder (it's what i had but i think regular chili powder for all the different kinds of chili powder i used would be fine)
2 tsp. chipolte chili powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
shredded cheddar cheese
low fat sour cream
cilantro for garnish

two twirls around a large size "chili" pot with olive oil.. brown your turkey over medium heat.. before it's totally brown add your onions and peppers.. cook until meat is cooked through and veggies are tender..  then add your kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, bbq sauce, beer, and worcestershire sauce.. make sure everything is well incorporated.. then add all your spices.. again make sure everything is well incorporated.. cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat then drop to a simmer and continue cooking.. taste and check your spice level.. i had used honey bbq (it's what i had) and it made a little too sweet so i amped up the spicy spice.. so check yours and see if you need to add more spice.. let simmer for about 1/2 an hour.. (let those flavors marry so to speak) and then serve with a little shredded cheese, a dollop of low fat sour cream and sprinkle of cilantro.. i served it with the life balance low calorie flour tortillas.. seriously good food people!!

and I got a little treat i found out my no bake s'more casserole/ice box cake, recipe found here.. was a featured recipe on this site here.. you really should check it out, she has so many great recipes linked to that page.. its awesome!! how fun!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

take my word for it wednesday.. you can make a lighter potato casserole (healthy "tina" potatoes)

many many moons ago.. probably 20 or so tina had us over for dinner and served us the most amazing potato casserole dish.. it was her mom's recipe and it was called "sour cream potato casserole" i instantly fell in love and it became our go to potatoes.. since then i have probably made them 100's of times for family events, birthday, funerals, etc.. and my family calls them "tina potatoes.." the original recipe is full of fat and ohh so creamy goodness!! but since everyones trying to eat healthier i made mine this last time a little different.. and they where still yummy.. of course not exactly the same.. but a very very good "healthy" alternative!! i am going to give you the original recipe also mainly because it is soooooo fricken good you have to at least try it once!!

tina potatoes (original)

prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 1 hour for casserole (8-11 minutes for potatoes)
servings: 8-10


8 medium potatoes (whole)
1/2 cup of mayo
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1 small onion, grated
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 pint sour cream
salt and pepper
corn flakes, crushed
2 tbls. butter, melted

bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.. add your whole unpeeled potatoes.. bring to a boil until fork tender.. about 8-11 minutes.. remove from water, cool and remove peels.. grate potatoes and add to a large mixing bowl.. add mayo, soup, grated onion, cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper.. stir until well incorporated.. transfer to a 9 by 13 casserole dish..

in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup combine crushed cornflakes with melted butter.. then sprinkle / crumble on top of potatoes..

bake at 350 degrees (f) for 45 minutes covered.. remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minjtes or until golden brown..

lighter tina potatoes

prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 60 minutes
servings: 8-10


1 (20 oz) package of frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed (you could do the whole grating of the potatoes like above but i am just to darn lazy these days ha)
1 tblsp. butter
1 tblsp. wheat flour
1 tblsp. low fat 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 cup of chicken broth
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup non fat greek yogurt
1 cup cheddar cheese made with 2% milk
a little extra cheese for topping if not using cornflakes
corn flakes (optional only because i forgot them this time ha)

preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray your casserole dish with pam.. heat butter in a medium pot over medium heat.. add flour.. stirring to combine.. then whisk in milk.. bring to a boil it will start to become thick.. add chicken broth and whisk until smooth and creamy.. add salt, pepper and nutmeg..reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 3-5 minutes.. remove from heat.. in a large mixing bowl add poatoes, creamy mixture we just made, sourcream, yogurt and cheese (more salt and pepper are probably needed too).. combine all ingredients.. then pour into your casserole dish.. if you wish you can now add crushed cornflakes.. (potato chips, ritz crackers (low fat or regular) all will do) cover and bake for 45 minutes..remove cover and sprinkle with a little cheese (if not using corn flakes or the like) and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown.. :) remove from oven and serve hot!! (it will stay hot for awhile too... so it's good to take to a pot luck)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

round two tuesday: smoked beef brisket hash

remember when we made that smoked brisket? recipe here.. it was soo good i had to come up with recipes for leftovers.. and what better recipe then to mix meat with potatoes, peppers and eventually an egg.. *there are no pictures with the eggs not sure why i guess i forgot..* well a few months ago i made corned beef hash and that recipe can be found here.. it was very good and it inspired me to make this dish i am sharing today!!

i ended up making this hash for dinner one night last week.. it worked out perfect.. and the left over brisket added just enough smoke to make this unique but really good..

smoked beef brisket hash

prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes
servings: 4


olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
3 cups chopped smoked beef brisket
3 cups cubed frozen hashbrowns, thawed
salt and pepper
8 eggs

heat two twirls around your pan of olive oil (i used my iron skillet) over medium heat.. add onions and peppers and cook a few minutes until tender about 4 -5.. add potatoes spread evenly over the pan.. cook until tender.. add chopped beef brisket and spread everything evenly in the pan and press down with a not stir to often you want them to get brown.. once the bottom is nicely brown flip it over in sections and press down again with spatula.. cook until it's all nicely brown.. remove from heat.. add salt and pepper to taste.. serve with 2 fried/poached eggs on the top..

Monday, June 25, 2012

boating, baby showers and bullets..

we had another busy weekend.. and the title says it all but might be confusing.. you see saturday we went to lake mead and took the boat out on it's maiden voyage this year.. last year at the end of the boating season our power steering went out and because we are the king and queen of procrastinators it just got fixed.. so we took it out with the kids and uncle paul.. it was such a beautiful day but ohh so windy.. if your not familiar with our lovely lake mead it's such a gorgeous place but can be very deadly in a storm.. luckily saturday it wasn't nearly as windy as it can get.. but since it was windy we got to enjoy seeing alot of sail boats, kiteboarders, wind surfers and tons of kayakers.. not sure i would have been kayaking in the wind but there sure was lot of them.. the picture above is of hoover dam and the bridge.. it truly is a beautiful and magnificent site..

see how rough that water was.. it was still fun just a little bumpy

jake gets annoyed with me when I take too many photos of him *smile*... we had a nice lunch out on the water.. i made sub sandwiches and brought pasta salad.. that recipe can be found here.. a little update on that recipe .. i was pouring in my bottled italian dressing and trying to do too many things at one time and more than i wanted came out. but guess what it tasted fanstic!! jake couldn't stop raving about how good it was.. :)

after the lake we went home and got ready for a party at my niece jessi's house.. they kinda tricked uncle paul and uncle pete.. they were told (as was i) that it was going to be a party not a baby shower!!  but when we arrived it was beauifully decorated in baby shower decorations.. that was our first clue...

my nieces grandpa has a friend who carves watermelons and he made these.. how cool are these..

they quickly realized they had been bamboozled.. which they were ok with but drew the line and wouldn't participate in the games.. ha it was a very fun non baby shower!!

 um yes that's me sniffing a diaper.. luckily it only had melted candy bars!! see why they wouldn't play??

i was asked to bring a dessert but since i was on the lake until later in the afternoon i threw something together that was so easy but a huge successs.. i got 2 boxes of brownie mix and mixed them up according to package directions.. then i took a bag of oreo cookies.. crushed them up and added them to the mix.. cooked for about 10 minutes longer than it suggested and turned out perfect.. everyone loved it!!

i had mentioned a bit ago that my nieces theme was pirate.. and remember when my sis in law carey and i threw her her first shower, (you can see those festivities here..)  they had so much fun decorating baby jax room!

 super cute dean painted the ocotopus legs he he

keka and shellbell...

lovely smiles..

everyone had a very good time!! granpa jim jim had a friend knit a baby's cap with sideburns like deans..

it was pretty funny..

there was lots of laughter..

the two proud grandmas!!!

i would say the non baby shower was  big success!!

the next day the plan was the boys and everyone would get up and go shooting at 5:30 a.m. well when that time rolled around the only ones that ended up going where pete, jimmy, dean, jessie and their friend hector.. so there are no pictures of them shooting i was sleeping like a baby.. but i am told they had a good time!!

well our weekend was filled with family, friends and good times.. i hope your weekend was equally as fun!! :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

easy italian pasta salad..

we went to the lake last weekend and tina brought italian pasta salad.. she offered some to the kids and big kid pete..good lawdy you would have thought they had never had anything good  tasting before.. ha ha they kept going on how great it was.. it was a big hit with my family.. which doesn't surprise me most things tina makes my family loves.. for father's day shell asked if i would make it.. tina was out of town with family and not wanting to bother her i asked shell what was in it.. so this is my best "guess" as to what was in it.. i think i did a pretty good job.. well at least shell liked it and she was the one who asked for it.. :)

easy italian pasta salad

prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 12 minutes
servings: 4-6


1 package (16 oz) colored rotini pasta
1/4 pound genoa salami, cut into strips (tina's where in chunks)
1/4 pound pepperoni, cut into strips
7 oz. can sliced/chopped black olives
1 purple onions, diced small (i forgot this part)
1/4 cup cubed cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cubed pepper jack cheese
1 jar, drained, artichoke hearts
2 tsp.garlic powder
salt and pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
(or instead of the oil and vinegar just a store bought italian dressing will do)

cook pasta according to package directions.. while pasta cooks, dice, cube and chunk everything.. when pasta is done drain and rinse with cold running water until cool.. in a large mixing bowl combine pasta and all other ingredients and mix well.. cover and chill for about at least 2 hours before serving.. (over night is best)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

thirsty thursday... mango-apricot sangria

for our father's day bbq i thought i would make some sangria.. very summery!! i don't like sangria (well actually i am alergic to wine so i can't drink it) if truth be told about the only drink i can drink is beer.. pretty much everything else i am allergic too.. so i did not drink this but sam said it was delish!! i was inspired by this recipe here.. that i saw on pinterest.. seriously who created pinterest?? i think they need a big a fat wet kiss!!!

(i totally forgot to put the orange mint leaves i had in the cups for the photo.. :/ )

mango-apricot sangria

1 tblsp. sugar
1 cup (or more) club soda
1 bottle pinot grigio
1 mango, chopped
4-6 apricot, sliced into wedges
1/4 cup chopped orange mint, (more for garnish) (regular mint will do)

combine all of the ingredients, in an extra large storage container.. chill at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.. remove from fridge and stir before serving.. then transfer to a beverage server or pitchers, i used a punch bowl.. use a pair of tongs to remove some of the fruit for each glass, add ice to each glass, and fill glasses, garnish with an extra orange mint leave if desired..

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

take my word for it wednesday.. so nice i'm posting it twice.. roasted cream-cheese stuffed mini bell peppers

another update has been posted here

take my word for it these roasted/grilled mini cream cheese stuffed peppers are so nice i'm going to post them twice.. i had posted a few weeks ago these grilled mini peppers, recipe found here.. and there is nothing wrong with that recipe at all!! but i wanted to give you a variation of them.. now this is the only picture i got of the ones i made for father's day bbq.. i hadn't even inteded on taking a photo i took a photo of something else and these babies where off to the side.. but i really wanted to tell you about them again.. this time i cooked them a little differently, i lined a baking sheet with foil and sprayed it with little pam, once i stuffed the peppers i placed them on the baking sheet and sprayed them too with a little pam.. baked at 350 degrees (f) for about 30 minutes, or until they are soft and tender. i served them as appetizers and they went like crazy!! a good variation is to use goat cheese, basil and garlic.. or you could also use the flavored cream cheeses.. 

they aren't very "pretty" cooked in the oven* but they are so good you over look their lack in presentation.. take my word for it.. if you didn't try them before you must try them now..

*(they turn out pretty when cooked on the grill)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

pinteresting tuesday.. creamy corn salad with herbed dressing...

lately most of my inspirations have been coming from pinterest.. it amazes me the creative dishes and crafts that are shared on there.. i have been working on same great crafts i will soon be sharing.. can't wait.. i saw this summer corn salad here.. and thought it would go perfect with the meal i was preparing for our father's day bbq, light summery, not too heavy.. something you'd want when it's 110 outside.. i did have to improvise because i decided make it saturday morning and the party was saturday afternoon, so while i obviously think using fresh corn would have been better i had to "cheat" and use frozen..  but still it came out so yummy!! and the creamy herb dressing i made could be used on anything it's basically a low cal ranch but full of flavor.. and that recipe was inspired by here.. now if you can believe it i am not a big fan of ranch.. i never order it for my salad and usually only like to dip my burger or fries in it.. maybe.. but only from a few places.. but this herb/ranch dressing was very good and i will be making it again fo'sho!

summer corn and tomato salad

prep. time: 10 minutes
servings: serves 4-6

1 bag/box frozen whole kernel corn, defrosted (or 6 ears of corn, shucked, blanched and the kernals removed from the cob)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion (i totally forgot this step..)
1 cup cherry, tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup of creamy herb dressing (eye ball it use 1/4 cup at first if not creamy enough add a little more), recipe below
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (pete said a finely diced jalapeno would have been good too, going to try that next time)
salt and pepper
chives, chopped, (optional for garnish)

in a medium mixing bowl toss corn, tomatoes, onions, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and creamy herb dressing together until well incorporated.. cover tightly and chill for about an hour or 2 before serving.. right before serving top with chopped fresh chives..

low fat creamy herb dressing

3/4 cup fat free sour cream
3/4 cup fat free greek yogurt
2 cups fat free half and half
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (i used whatever looked good from my herb barrel i think i used thyme, parsley, chives & oregano)
juice and zest of 1/2 of a lemon
course salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
1-2 tblsp. white wine vinegar

in a medium mixing bowl, combine/whisk all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.. adjust seasoning if desired.. start with 1 tblsp. of vinegar and if more is needed add a splash or two.. put in the fridge for about an hour or more before using and since your only using a smallish amount for the salad above save the dressing in an air tight container and use in your other recipes that call for ranch dressing, like topping crunchy cucumber slices..

Monday, June 18, 2012

smoked brisket..

for father's day this year we had a bbq at our house.. we smoked a brisket, i made a ham and we grilled chicken.. (yes i have a ton of left overs!!) i found this recipe here.. and it was perfect.. jake said it was some of the best smoked brisket he has ever had.. and he orders it anytime it's on the menu.. it had just enough smoke.. it was tender.. juicy.. yummm..

smoked beef brisket

prep time: 40 minutes
cooking time: 7-9 hours
servings: 15 servings


6 cups hickory chips
10-12 lb. beef brisket
your favorite bbq rub (recipe below)
mustard sauce (recipe below)
beer mop sauce (recipe below)
your favorite bbq sauce (we used sweet baby rays)

sprinkle brisket generously with bbq dry rub.. wrap in plastic and refrigerate over night.. in the morning preheat your charcoal smoker for half an hour.. soak hickory chips for half an hour in water and drain.. remove brisket from fridge 1 hour before cooking and let stand at room temperature.. mop the brisket with the mustard sauce.. place brisket fat side up in your smoker, your smoker should be at 200-225 degrees (f) and remain there during the cooking process...  add 2 handfuls of the pre soaked hickory chips to the pre heated charcoal...(should be at the gray stage)

after 3 hours, add another 3 handfuls of chips and mop brisket with the beer sauce..

after 2 more hours, place brisket on 2 pieces of heavy duty foil and pour 1/4 cup of the beer sauce on top of brisket and seal tightly.. continue to cook in smoker another 2-4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees (f).  remove brisket from smoker and then foil and let stand 30 minutes.. slice brisket against the grain.. top brisket with bbq sauce..

serve with sliced onion, pickle chips, white bread and extra bbq sauce.. it was sooo good!!

spice rub:
1/4 cup of  chili powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tblsp. cumin
1 tblsp. onion powder
2 tblsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cayenne
1 tblsp. smokey paprika
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt

mix all together and generously rub your brisket. (reserve 1 tblsp. for your mop sauce)

mustard sauce:

1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
salt and pepper
1 tsp. hot sauce

mix all ingredients pour over brisket..

beer mop sauce:

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
i can of beer
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tblsp. bbq rub
2 tblsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. course black pepper

mix all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.. reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.. remove from heat and mop brisket..

happy father's day... and another bbq..

saturday night we had a bbq to celebrate father's day.. we were up by 5 getting things ready.. the weather was perfect.. not to hot.. barely a breeze.. pete decided to smoke a brisket.. it turned out perfect..

we slow smoked it for 9 hours.. (recipe to follow in another post)

we used hickory to smoke it.

it was truly mouthwatering..
i served

pasta salad and creamy corn and tomato salad with an herb dressing..

i also served..

lighter potato casserole..
amelia was as precious as ever..

jake and ollie were all smiles!!

poppi had to get his amelia time in!!

jake showing ollie the big dipper!!

what an adorable couple they make!!

uh oh patrick said something shell didn't like!!

so of course she had to reply with something equally insulting.. apparently..

finally the insult war was over.. and they were back to smiling..

but then i apparently said something to jake that warranted that ridiculous look.. he he
it was a great bbq!! and all the fathers were happy with their gifts!! :)