Thursday, November 7, 2013

Herby Chicken Salad


Summer may be over, but that doesn't mean your herb gardens are all done!  Here in Ohio I am usually lucky enough to keep most of my herbs (even under the snow) until February or March!  I always hope they will survive year round since it is soooo close, but we always seem to get a crazy ice storm close to spring that knocks them out.  But since they hang on so long, be sure to use them to their fullest!  This chicken salad is so vibrant and fresh tasting due to the brightness of the fresh herbs.  I love it! You could use dried herbs, but it wont be quite the same- so snip, snip, snip while you still can!
This recipe is wonderful as a sandwich, add a scoop to a leafy salad in place of dressing, or even as an appetizer with crackers..... or like me, just with a fork right out of the dish.
Allowing it to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving will really bring all of the flavors together and make the herby flavor pop. But if you just can't wait, that's ok too.  It will still be scrumptious.   

Herby Chicken Salad
2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, flat leaf parsley, chives, rosemary
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs.
In a large bowl combine the chicken, celery, and red onion.  Pour the dressing onto the chicken mixture and stir to coat.  Chill until ready to serve.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cheesy Quinoa Bites

So it isn't a huge secret that I am not all that crazy about quinoa.  I want to like it, I really do!  It is so crazy good for you, it is supposed to aid in migraine health, and your body burns it as fast as you eat it.  But for the most part, it just isn't one of my favorite things.  That is until I discovered these guys!  A blog I love,  So Very Blessed, created these little gems and oh man are they delicious!! They are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside and JAMPACKED with flavor! What I really love about this recipe, is how customizable it is.  You can switch around the ingredients for totally different flavors- add pepperoni and mozzarella cheese and now you have quinoa pizza bites, use ham, diced chicken and Swiss and voila! you have Cordon Bleu bites.  A bit of corn, black beans, chilies and cilantro and now they are Southwestern!  These cheesy ones I feel are the "base recipe", and from there the sky's the limit!   Be sure you check out So Very Blessed to see all the many flavor combinations she has come up with!  I've made each and every one and we LOVE them all!  The kids can't get enough of them either, making it even better.  They make an awesome snack, appetizer or side dish. I've even served them alongside a salad for a satisfying dinner.  No matter how you serve them, they will get gobbled up as fast as lightening!

I normally make the quinoa bites in my mini muffin pan, but this last time, I had extra mixture left over so I made a few patties in my muffin-top pan and they were fantastic! They would make a great "burger".  In these pictures I had a used a quinoa/brown rice blend because that was what the market happened to have at the time, and they were just as yummy. 

Cheesy Quinoa Bites
Recipe courtesy So Very Blessed

Makes: ~ 28 bites

2 cups cooked quinoa (I cook my quinoa in low sodium chicken broth)
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded carrot
2 stalks green onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Mix together quinoa, carrot, egg, green onion, garlic, cilantro, cheese, flour, salt and pepper.
3.Distribute mixture into a (well!) greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top (1 heaping Tbs each).
4.Bake for 15-20 minutes.

We are big dippers in our house- the more sauces the better! Ha!  Our favorites are honey mustard dressing (pictured), BBQ sauce, frank's hot sauce, ranch/blue cheese dressing and for the pizza bites, spaghetti sauce of course!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Break a Leg..... literally.

So if you don't follow me on facebook or Instagram you may have been wondering just where I have been for the past few months. Welp, on August 29th, while hiking with my 2 1/2 year old, I slipped on a patch of slick mud and fell HARD, breaking both my tibia and fibula.  Talk about an insane experience- one that never wish to relive again! 

Our hike started out so perfect.  It was a beautiful late summer morning.  Owen and I didn't have anything to do, so out to experience some nature was in order! We headed over to one of our local Metroparks trails, one that I have been hiking my entire life.  It is directly behind my parents house where I grew up and I knew these trails inside and out. 

We planned on taking the paved trail, but just past the wooden decking we happened upon a rocked path that was full of about a hundred baby monarch butterflies .  They must have just hatched and were fluttering all around us! It was so amazing, I can still hear Owen's squeals and laughter.  So we kept following the tiny pretty little guys on the trail.....

These little butterflies leading us off the main trail, onto the dirt path now remind me of Will-'o-the-Wisps, supernatural spirits or fairies that attempt to lead travelers to stray off of the beaten path.... the silly things we think of when we are laying flat on our back like this for 3 weeks. lol

We had hiked about a mile and were turning back when I noticed just off the trail, the creek and a HUGE rock bed screaming at us to come throw a few. 

About 100 yards past this spot is where the accident happened.....

There was a narrow foot path leading down to the creek.  Owen's little legs were tired, I had just popped him on my back and figured I would let him down once I got to the creek.  That way he wouldn't stumble on any roots or rocks in our way.  *doh*

Like a cartoon character, my feet hit the slick mud and came up from under me and down I slammed.  HARD.  The sound of my bones breaking was so loud, there was no mistaking what had just happened.  In a panic I started screaming for help, trying to get the attention of the two hikers we had passed only 10 minutes before.  But my fear made Owen even more scared and he started to panic as well.  Immediately I knew I needed to calm down so that my sweet boy wouldn't be afraid.  Thank the Lord Owen wasn't injured at all, not even a bump.  Knowing he was safe, I kept him strapped to me....all I needed was him running off or falling and hurting himself too. 

Luckily I had my phone with me and I was able to call 911.  They helped me get ahold of Scott at work and he rushed there in lightening speed.  While waiting for the paramedics and my husband to arrive, those two hikers DID end up coming back the way they came- which I found out is something they never do.  They hike the lake every week and always go all the way around.  But today, they said that something told them to just turn around and head back.  Thank you, Lord.

I am SO very grateful to those men.  Right away they helped me get Owen off my back then one stayed with us to keep Owen occupied throwing those (darn) rocks while the other went up to the trailhead to help the paramedics locate me. 

The Fire chief and another fireman found me first and Scott wasn't very far behind.  It took a good while for them to figure out how to get me out of there; the trail wasn't wide enough for the ambulance and there were huge power towers in the way for a life flight helicopter.  But eventually, 2 hours after I fell, with the help of 8 paramedics, firemen, park rangers and police they carried me out of the mud and into the back of the fire chiefs truck.  On the positive side, Owen was beyond THRILLED that he and daddy got to ride in the park rangers police car through the woods to the ambulance and was proud to show off his Honorary Park Ranger Badge when they met me in the hospital. 

I got sent for x-rays and the doctor determined that I had a fractured fibula and a displaced tibia, which means that the bone snapped in half and the ends were no longer lined up. Thankfully they knocked me out so they could line the bones back up and get my leg in a cast until surgery.  The following day I was admitted into surgery and am now the proud owner of a titanium rod and four screws- the boys think it is quite cool that I am a bionic woman now! 

Over the course of the past 66 days I have had 4 different casts, a blood clot (which is now gone, thank goodness!) and WAY too much bed rest.  It is amazing just how hard life is when something like this happens.  I am so grateful for all of the family and friends that stepped in to help us get through this time.  Scott's work was SO understanding and he was able to stay home for the first week and a half to not only care for me, but both our boys as well.  Once he went back to work, my sister stepped in and cared for Owen for another week and a half in her home so I could get the rest I desperately needed.  We were blessed with so many meals, gift baskets overflowing with goodies, and tons of cards and pictures to brighten my mood.  We were surrounded with so much love and through my darkness I saw the many, many blessings God gave us. 

I have learned that the little things become the big things when so much is taken away from you- driving, cooking (I went 38 days without cooking- the longest ever in my life!), shaving, showering standing up, painting your own toes (thank you Adrianne and my niece Anna for taking care of that for me!), unloading the dishwasher, carrying things while walking (crutches make this super tricky!), putting your children to bed and needing to do pretty much everything sitting down! 

Little by little life is getting back to normal. About three weeks ago I was finally given the OK to drive again- after 57 days not driving let me tell you how amazing that felt!! I am still in a walking cast, but fingers crossed I will be rid of crutches on the 10th.  Goodness am I tired of those things!!  So if you can spare some extra prayers please keep sending them my way!!  Thank you friends!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cinnamon-and-Raisin Muffins

Hello friends!  Goodness it feels good to be back and writing.  I decided to take the summer off from blogging to spend some much needed quality time with my family.  But now with my oldest back in school and only one little guy at home with me now, I have been so antsy to get back in the swing of things.  Breaks sure can be nice, gives the perfect recharge to the soul!  And now I have a head FULL of recipes I cant wait to share with you all! 

When Jackson gets home from school he is absolutely famished. A full day of school is hard work!! Baking gives me wonderful quality time with Little O and I love having special treats at home for when Jackson gets off the school bus.  He is going to be thrilled to see one waiting for him on the kitchen table this afternoon!!

Cinnamon-and-Raisin Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from 1001 Muffins by Gregg R. Gillespie

makes 10 muffins

1 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease or line with paper baking cups ten 2 3/4-inch muffin cups.

In a large bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, raisins, and salt.  In a medium bowl, beat the sugar, egg, butter, and milk until smooth.  Combine the two mixtures, blending until the dry ingredients are just moistened. 

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5-7 minutes.  Serve warm, or invert onto the rack to cool completely. 

Delicious slathered with butter and a bit of jam!

My taste tester approves!  Owen gobbled his muffin up in no time and kept telling me how yummy they were.  Big hit!  He's pretty stinking cute too, huh?  :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Incase you missed it!

My friends at New Day were nice enough to make me a YouTube video of my appearance yesterday so I could share it here for all of you. So just incase you missed it, or live outside the viewing area, here you go!

On a side note... do you follow me on Facebook or Instagram? If not, please come on over and add me to your favorites and I will be sure to follow you back!! If I am not posting on here, I am still most definitely posting on one or both of those places! I am a picture taking addict, so Instagram is my new favorite thing in the world. Instant gratification!  But I warn you, it is mostly pictures of my awesome boys and family; you can get a glimpse into my life through my photographs.  To find me you can either click on the links I just posted or look on the right sidebar and there are buttons over there as well.  I look forward to getting to know you all a bit better! Come and say hi!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Zucchini Pancakes on New Day Cleveland

It was back to the studio today cook with my favorite television host, David Moss on New Day Cleveland!  With Summer only a wink away, we went with a family favorite recipe, Zucchini Pancakes.  This recipe is a special one to me.  It is one my mom has been making for years and years and just the smell of them brings back so many special memories of vacation on the beach, in OBX and dining all together around a huge table, laughing and sharing stories.  It is so cool how a simple recipe can do that to you!  Food is so much more then just food!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love what I do?  Goodness, talk about a rush!  This is my 5th time on the show, and yet a part of me still can't believe that it is real.  I truly am blessed.  And now on to the recipe....

Zucchini Pancakes
1/3 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 cups zucchini, shredded
chives, chopped (optional)
butter for frying

Mix first three ingredients. Stir in eggs until moist. Fold in zucchini. Fry patties until brown.

*I like to keep an oven proof dish in the oven on warm and put the pancakes in there as they cook. Just be sure to keep them loosely covered with foil so they don't shrink up or dry out. Diced tomatoes are also a nice addition. Just be sure to deseed them. You don't want a whole lot of tomato, just enough for flecks of color and a bit of flavor.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Italian Sausage Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

This is a yummy and super easy meal that is perfect for a weeknight.  You can easily prepare these peppers the night before and then throw them in the oven to bake when you get home from work cutting down on your time even more.  I call for Cubanelle peppers which are one of my favorites!  They have a mild heat yet taste sweet at the same time, especially after cooking.  But if you prefer a spicier pepper, Hungarian Hot peppers are a great substitute.   When I make these, I like to use a combination of Cubanelle peppers and mild Italian Sausage.  It has just the right amount of spice, but mild enough for the kids to enjoy.  Jackson my 6 year old couldn't stop raving about these at dinner.  He even ate the pepper!   It was too cool. 

Italian Sausage Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers
4 Cubanelle Peppers (banana or Hungarian Hot peppers will also work nicely)
1 lb ground Italian Sausage (sweet, mild or hot are all delicious choices!  Use your favorite)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with pam, and cover bottom with a bit of spaghetti sauce, just to keep everything moist. Sauté onion and minced garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the ground Italian sausage and sauté until no longer pink. Pour pork mixture into a large bowl and add bread crumbs, salt and pepper, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and one beaten egg. Stuff them into halved cubanelle peppers (banana or Hungarian hot are also good choices). Top with remaining sauce and shredded mozzarella. Cover and bake for 50 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve alongside a nice green salad and some crusty bread, enjoy!

I apologize for the not s great photograph.  I am having problem with the memory card for my camera.  So iphone it was today! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My New Day Cleveland Video with the recipe for Tortellini Soup!

What a rush! Those (almost!) 7 minutes go by so, so fast! LOL.  But today was fun, fun, fun and I am so thrilled I have been blessed with this opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of people.  I have decided that I could truly get used to this life (grin).

This video was made for me by New Day Cleveland website. Thank you!

And here is the recipe for my delicious Tortellini Soup from the show.  You will love it, I promise!

Tortellini Soup

3 cups beef stock (chicken or vegetable may be substituted, but the beef gives a nice rich flavor)
3 cups water
1 ear corn, kernals cut off and “corn milk” scrapped*
1 medium zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

*Quick tip to Easily cut corn off the cobb- A bundt pan is the best bowl for this job! It has a handy hole to hold the corn steady and then the bowl for all the kernels to fall into. Gotta love dual purpose items!

Turn your bundt pan right side up, place the cleaned corn cob upright with the tip of corn resting in the hole of the pan. Slowly slide the knife down the sides of the corn, cutting off a section at a time. Once all the corn is removed, turn your knife around so the flat side is facing the cob.

Repeat the process, scraping down on the cob collecting all the sweet corn milk in the bowl. This is special stuff, you definitely don’t want to just throw it away! It is sweet, juicy and will give a great added flavor to the soup.

Directions for the soup:
In a large stock pot over medium heat, add one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and sauté onion and zucchini until tender and beginning to caramelize. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add tortellini’s and simmer 7-8 minutes or until they are fully cooked and floating to the top. Serve with nice crusty butter bread.

The original link to this recipe is here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Four Times a Charm!

Yay!!! New Day Cleveland tomorrow!! 

Your support is wonderfully encouraging, so if you are local and would like, tune in at 10:00am to Fox 8! I will be sharing my own recipe of Tortellini Soup- perfect for this crazy cold weather we have been having! Goodness gracious, it is suposed to be 13 degrees tomorrow (it was only 50 degrees two days ago~  geez, crazy Cleveland weather!)

If you aren't local but still would like to see little me, I will be posting the YouTube video later in the day. Thank you so much and wish me luck!

Preview of my yummy Tortellini Soup!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Creamy Salsa Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Hi friends!  Here is another great crock pot recipe to add to your weekly rotation.  It is awesomely delicious and, just what makes crock pot recipes so popular, it comes together in under 10 minutes.  It will make your kids crazy happy to eat dinner and if you serve it at a party, I can guarantee it a huge hit.   What I love most about it is how versatile it is.   We love it tossed in a salad with rice for homemade burrito bowls, wrap the chicken in tortillas for a delicious taco, or when served alongside tortilla chips it  makes a great dip for parties.

When I was making Creamy Salsa Chicken this last time I found an awesome product, Greek Cream Cheese. It is 1/2 the fat of regular cream cheese, 2x the protein and full of all those wonderful live active cultures.  I gave it a whirl and loved it!  I hope it wasn't a fluke finding it in the store because it was so great.  Definitely right up our alley.  I'm not being paid to promote this stuff- i just love it and wanted to share!  Using the greek cream cheese even made this a healthy dish, total bonus.  But everything in moderation is really the key, right?!

On a side note, guess who is invited to be on television again! New Day Cleveland invited me to share my recipe for Tortellini Soup on January 22nd at 10:00am on channel Fox 8! What a cool way to start my new year :)  Time to go dress shopping!

Creamy Salsa Chicken in the Slow Cooker

3-lbs boneless skinless Chicken (either breasts or thighs is fine)
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (15 1/2 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) jar chunky salsa 
1 medium onion chopped
1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese 

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Place chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker and top with the drained corn, black beans and chopped onions.  Pour the salsa on top.  Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6.  One hour before it is finished cooking, carefully pull the chicken out of the slow cooker and shred.  Put the chicken back into the slow cooker and gently stir to combine.  Place the block of cream cheese on top of the mixture and replace the lid.  After 30 minutes stir the cream cheese into the chicken mixture until fully combined.   

This recipe is so versatile! It is delicious served over rice, wrapped in a tortilla, topped onto a salad or even as a dip with chips.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hot Pepper Jelly Pork Shoulder in the Crock Pot

Happy New Year my sweet friends!!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season filled with friends and family, traditions kept and new memories made. I know I did!  This year was all about our boys, and taking a little break from blogging was a nice way to decompress and keep my mind focused on the true meaning of the season.  But now that it is all over I am SO excited to get back into it all!  I know I missed you- and I sure hope you missed me!  

Being it is January and the New Year is upon us, I thought it fitting to share a recipe for pork that we have been going wild over lately!  It is supposed to be good luck to eat pork on New Years day, but I think all of January is good enough too ((wink, wink)).   Right now you can also usually find the pork shoulder (also labeled pork butt) marked down after the big holiday making it the perfect time to stock up.  Our grocery store had them buy one get one free!  I LOVE when that happens!  Being an already budget-friendly cut of meat, this is a huge savings.  

This recipe takes Hot Pepper Jelly, which is a bit sweet but also packs a nice bite from the hot peppers, some brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and a good squeeze of Dijon mustard making a sauce which tenderizes and flavors the meat so, so, so amazing. We are seriously addicted to this recipe and I know you will be too!  

**I've been asked on my facebook page if this is a spicy dish.  It actually isn't hot at all. You get all the flavor of the hot peppers, but none of the heat. You may get a zip here and there depending on the heat of the jelly you use. But I wouldn't call it hot. Both of my boys can eat it and love it. **

Hot Pepper Jelly Pork Shoulder in the Crock Pot 
1 (3-5lb) pork shoulder (also labeled as the butt)
1 large onion, chopped
1 Cup hot pepper jelly
1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Spray inside of crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the chopped onion in the bottom of the crock pot.  Rinse the pork shoulder, pat dry and put into the crock pot on top of the onions.  Season WELL with salt and pepper- don't be afraid of the salt and pepper folks!  Whisk the jelly, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and Dijon mustard together and pour over pork.  Do not be tempted to add any water or liquid to the crock pot. It isn't necessary because the jelly melts down and the pork creates its own juice while cooking.

Cook on HIGH for 5-6 hours or on LOW for 8-10. Around the last hour or so of cooking time, you want to check your meat by taking the lid of the crock pot off and giving the pork a pull with a fork.  It should be fall-apart tender.  If it isn't, let it cook until it is!  It is well worth the wait.  When it is at fall-apart stage you can carefully remove it from the crock pot, and using two forks, pull the meat apart and then add it back to the pot for an additional 30 minutes to absorb more of the juices.  Lately I have been just pulling it gently apart into chunks while inside the pot instead of shredding it outside so we can have larger pieces.  But both are fine- do to your preference!

Serve alongside rice, or mashed potatoes with lots of juice on the side to pour on top.  You can also stuff into buns or mini rolls for sliders- kids love this!  And the left overs we always use in soft taco shells for carnitas. With so many options, this is sure to be a hit in your home!


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