Thursday, February 28, 2013

SPD Link Up...Starbucks Passion Tea


 For this weeks Saw, Pinned, Did Link Up I decided to try out the CopyCat recipe for Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade.... 

Original Pin here.
But of course I tweaked it a little...
I actually researched a few different recipes and came up with my own take...
First I brewed 8 bags of the Tazo Passion Tea with 1/2 Gallon of Boiling H20.  I found this tea at my local Health food store and I am addicted! I love anything Passion Fruit!! You can get it online at Amazon.
Then I made a quick Vanilla Simple Syrup by boiling 1 c. Water, 1 c. Sugar and 2 capfuls of Trader Joe's Bourbon Vanilla Extract.  As soon as all the sugar is dissolved remove from heat to cool.
In the summer or right after starting a batch of my Homemade Limoncello I might make lemonade from scratch but this time I was just too busy lazy!
So I mixed up a half gallon (2 qts.) of Good Ole Country Time Pink Lemonade!
Then I added 1/4 c of  the Vanilla Simple Syrup.
 I reserved the remaining Simple Syrup to use for iced coffee!
Once the tea was cooled I added it to the Lemonade mixture and stirred to combine.
Serve over ice!
I was thinking it might not be too bad as a mixer for Passion Fruit Vodka with a splash of seltzer I tested it last night and it was DELISH!

What copycat recipes have you tried at home?



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy Weeknight Pork Chop Dinner


Easy Weeknight Pork Chop Dinner

I wouldn't necessarily call this one a recipe persay... But this is an easy affordable weeknight dinner that you can throw together in NO TIME and it feeds a family of 6!
I try to make my own marinades but in a pinch, pressed for time with nothing to put on the table I find that keeping a few bottled marinades handy is just the fix!


6 Boneless Pork Chops
2 Cups of Cous Cous
1 or 2 Bags of fresh Broccoli

Heat your pan on med heat
Brush Pork Chops with Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Pepper.
Quickly brown both sides of the pork chops.
Add marinade to pan, cover and simmer for 5 min each side.
While pork chops are cooking cook cous cous in microwave following box directions.
Fluff cous cous with a fork and cover.
Microwave Broccoli in Bag
Serve Pork Chops atop cous cous with broccoli on the side!

What is your go to quick weeknight dinner?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Don't just repin it DO IT!



My Pinterest Addiction

Are you addicted to Pinterest?  Do you find yourself sitting at the computer or glued to your phone pinning and pinning and pinning?

I am.  I could waste a good 5-7 hours of the day just searching and pinning...and searching and pinning...and getting NOTHING else accomplished.

I remember that fateful day last year when my good friend Amanda came into work and immediately had to share with me this new site she thought I would love...and I did.

To my dismay the app was not available for my android phone at the time, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I stalked the Amazon Appstore and Google Play daily until the darn thing became available.....And then when the Kindle app became available SIGH....

Sometimes while I sit at the computer, drinking coffee, reading blogs etc..I have a hilarious sad internal dialogue with myself as I glance at my Pinterest button on my Favorites bar.

Just click on it
No don't
Just do it...for a few minutes, I'm sure there are a few great new pins you need to see.
Don't do  have laundry, housework and dishes to do..Get off your butt and get to work

Well you get the idea.

In an effort to "Be a more productive me in 2013"  I have decided to try to use Pinterest for what it is intended.
New Years Resolution #7 
 Revisit your pinterest boards, find something you pinned and test it out....Just DO IT  ....

This will be the first post in a series...Don't just repin it, DO IT!

Apple Cider Vinegar (the yummy way)


For months on and off I have swigged my apple cider vinegar from a spoon, and made the know the "Why the heck did I just drink that disgusting stuff?" face. 
Finally I stumbled along this post from Lindsay at Delighted Momma
I adapted it a little bit to reflect the ingredients I had on hand.
FYI, I never measure....
I put all the ingredients in a cold to go cup, fill with ice and filtered water and then I shake it up!
I find if I don't shake it the Cinnamon just sits on top...insert straw and Enjoy!

Are you Addicted to Pinterest or do you use it to be a more productive you?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Plan Monday 2/25 thru 3/4

Meal Plan Monday 2/25 thru 3/4

Another crazy week is ahead.... 5 days on one day off! 
The CrockPot will be going non stop this week!
Have you ever tried these Crock Pot Liners 
They're not very green but on weeks like this were hubby and kiddos are in charge at night ALOT, they are a must.  They are not big Crock Pot cleaners :(
So when I come strolling in at midnight or later from is amazing to just grab up the bag, throw the mess in the trash and give a quick wash!
Not the healthiest of menu's below, it's a very hearty home cooked comfort type menu!
Monday:  Crockpot Meatballs for Meatball subs, Salad  (My son has been begging for these)
Tuesday: Crockpot Pot Roast, Crispy Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Corn
Wednesday: Baked Mac and Cheese, Asparagus, Salad
Thursday: Roasted Kielbasa, Potatoes & Carrots & Cornbread
Friday: Shepherd's Pie

What are some of your favorite comfort foods?




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Limoncello...& Lemonade ....Just in time for Easter!

Homemade Limóncello & Homemade Lemonade

 These two recipes go hand in hand.  After using the rinds to start your Limóncello recipe you can whip up a batch of yummy homemade lemonade with the leftover lemons!
  I first tried this recipe two years ago and have tweaked it a bit!
This recipe is easy (as long as you have a little patience)  Now's the perfect time to start it so it will be ready for an after Easter Dinner treat on the rocks...
It can be used as a substitute for simple syrup in drinks like yummy Citrus Margaritas, or in a light Summer Sangria!
 I was inspired after seeing Giada make this Orangecello
I researched a few other recipes before deciding I was going to longer let mine sit for longer.
I had a bottle of Organic Vodka that was not the yummiest thing I had ever tasted so this was the perfect opportunity.



6 Lemons
1L (750ml) Bottle of Vodka
3 Cups of Sugar (I use Organic turbinado)
2 Cups of Water
1 Stem of Lemongrass
First  using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel the thin yellow outer layer of the lemons in strips, trying to get as little pith (the white stuff) as possible.  The pith can add a bitter flavor to your recipe.  Gently scrape off any pith that might remain.
Then  add the lemon rinds to the vodka shake it up.  I store mine in the top shelf of my pantry where it is dark and cool, for about a month.  Once in a while go in and shake it up.
The vodka will slowly take on the yellow hue of the lemon rinds and the rinds will start to turn white as you can see below.

Then in a medium sauce pan add the water and sugar to the pan over medium heat.  Cut the lemongrass stalk into 3 pieces and smash each piece of stem with my knife to release the juice and add the stalk pieces to the syrup. Slowly simmer the water occasionally swirling with a whisk until all the sugar is dissolved.
It is perfectly fine to make just a plain simple syrup by leaving out the lemongrass but I love the floral flavor it adds!
Remove from heat and cool.
Then take 1/3 of the syrup (approx. 1 c.) to use for the lemonade.
The rest I store in a glass container in the fridge with the lemon grass pieces for later.
After about a month the Limóncello will look like the picture above.
Then strain the Limóncello through a fine mesh strainer and add the remaining reserved simple syrup (remove the lemongrass stalks)
This delicious liquer can be served over ice or mixed into other drinks!



Remaining parts of the 6 lemons used above
1 Cup of Lemongrass Simple Syrup from above
4 cups of water
1 Lemon Sliced for Garnish
Juice the 6 Lemons. Add the lemon juice water and simple syrup to a pitcher and stir.
I going to use this batch of Lemonade for Passion Tea Lemonade I saw on Pinterest!
Keep in the fridge until ready to serve!



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Meal Plan Monday 2/18 thru 2/24

This upcoming week is the antithesis of last week.
The kiddos have the week off which means so much less running around for me (and sleeping in!)
Even though I'm working both jobs this week I still have 3 FULL DAYS OFF=lots of cooking!
My new thirtyone purchases should be in!
The arrival of my new Samsung Galaxy III on Tuesday (refurb that I finagled for $30 woot woot!)
The potential of a new laptop purchase from one of my techie friends that refurbs all kinds of stuff.
  and the anticipation of a trip to Trader Joe's with my mom on Saturday.


Monday: Easy Crock pot Lemon Tarragon Chicken, Rice, Salad.

This is my go to for a quick and easy dinner.  I combine chopped fresh tarragon. chopped fresh citrus thyme, lemon zest, sea salt, pepper and crushed garlic and rub down 6 chicken thighs with olive oil and the herb rub.
Place in the crock pot on a bed of onions and top with slices of lemon.  Cook on low for 6 hours!

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza Night!!
After coating two sheet pans with cornmeal I lay out one White and one Wheat pizza dough and mentally divide each into 3.  Each of the kiddos chooses their own toppings as do the hubby and I.  Then after cooking I cut them in to small triangles and we all share!!  Endless Possibilities....

Wednesday:  Chicken Pot Pie, Made with leftover chicken from Monday.

Thursday: MEATLESS!  Spaghetti with Vegetable Bolognese (in the crock pot) and  Garlic Bread

Friday:  Keilbasa, Brown Sugar Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Saturday: Hubs is in charge.

Sunday: Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Thai Noodles
I am going to try to recreate some Lettuce Wraps the hubby and I had a few years ago out to dinner on Valentine's day.  I have researched tons of recipes and finally decided to cheat after I saw this
Trader Joe's Satay Peanut Sauce at my last trip to my favorite store!

What restaurant recipes have you tried to recreate?


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Spicy Shrimp in Thai Chili Cream Sauce

This recipe was inspired by Bangin' Good Shrimp from one of my Favorite blogs Skinnytaste!

Spicy Shrimp in Thai Chili Cream Sauce


1 lb Large Shrimp peeled and deveined (approx. 40 shrimp)
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Tbl. Sriracha
1/4 stick of Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/4 c. Flour
2 c. 1% Milk
1/2 Cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1 lb of Pasta cooked to box directions

Place Shrimp, salt, pepper, and Sriracha in a plastic baggie and shake until completely coated, let marinate for 20-30 minutes.

Melt your butter in a sauté pan over medium/low heat with two cloves of smashed garlic (still whole just to infuse butter with flavor)

Depending on the size of your pan you might have to cook the shrimp in batches.

Add the shrimp to the garlic infused butter and cook until pink approximately 3 minutes each side.

Remove shrimp to plate, cover with foil to keep warm.

Remove garlic from butter.

Whisk flour into butter until there are no lumps.

Slowly add milk, whisking constantly until the mixture forms a thick cream sauce.

Add Thai Sweet chili sauce and stir to combine.

Transfer cooked shrimp back into cream sauce mix to combine.

Serve over cooked pasta or rice!  Enjoy


Saturday, February 16, 2013

SPD Link Up

What a CRAZY week! So much going on it feels like I haven't had a minute to breathe!
So here's a quick post for the weekend (meant to have it up Thursday) but time was not my friend this week! 

Saw it, Pinned it, Did it!

Breakfast for dinner goodness!   The kids LOVE when we have breakfast for dinner so I thought  I would fancy things up a bit by cutting up the fruit in shapes with my Pampered chef  mini cutters!
Apologies for the pics my picasa is on the fritz and keeps shutting down in the middle of photo editing!
 Yummy Canteloupe cut into hearts!

 I even took the advice from the pinner and bagged up the leftover tidbits for smoothies (or maybe some summer cantaloupe Margaritas!
 Original Pin here.
Then I got out my muffin tins so I could make Pancake more slaving over the griddle whilst keeping the other batches warm in the oven!
In the top tin I tossed cut up apples in a little bit of cinnamon and sugar before tossing spoonful's into the cupcakes.
The bottom tin is 4 blueberry and 2 plain!

Original Pin here.
My only advice would be to leave out the muffin cups (the pinner just greased the tin)  The pancake cupcakes stuck to the cups a bit!
I served these with Vermont Maple Sausage...So yummy!



Monday, February 11, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plan Monday 2/11 thru 2/17

Nothing like waking up in a panic because everyone is still sleeping..and we're now all late, frenzied mommy state, shoving the hubs so he practically falls out of the bed, yelling and flipping on lights....Only to have the confused teenagers tell you school has been cancelled again....

Oops...sorry guys...go back to sleep....

....And I'm down about 6 points in the Mommy of the Year run...

Anyway...on to the Meals!

This week is one of those crazy weeks where I'm working both jobs and only have one day off..   The kids have concerts and games up the wazoo etc...
Oh yeah and I joined the gym last week (because my AWESOME BOSS got a corporate membership to the gym down the street and its going to cost us almost NOTHING) lots of meals I can prep the night before or make in the morning and get on the table in no time.

Monday: Spaghetti and Salad  (Mondays are often uninspired :(  I usually work Sunday and Monday nights so it always has to be something easy that hubs and kiddos can handle on their own)

Tuesday: Crock Pot Chicken Stew with Dumplings. Using the leftover Chicken and stock I made from our Cobb Salads on Friday!   Can't wait to post this yummy recipe tomorrow! 

Wednesday:  Easy Shells and Cheese with Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower

Thursday: Valentine's Day!  Breakfast for dinner-definitely a favorite of the kids .
I'm going to surprise them with some cute ideas from Pinterest, I will feature them for SPD link up on Thursday. Stay Tuned....

Friday:  Shrimp and Sausage  over bowtie pasta with spinach salads.
Recipe based on Skinnytaste Bangin' Grilled Shrimp Skewers (We have a few non shrimp eaters so I have to add in the Sausage!)

Saturday: Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches I can't wait to try this recipe from the Happy Housewife! 

Sunday: Hubs and I both have to work and kiddos are off with the Grandparents for the day!

Time to get geared up for a crazy one! 

What are some of your quick and easy go to recipes?


Shells and Cheese!

Shells and Cheese
My kiddos are big fans of Mac and Cheese.  In the quest to give them less processed foods but still give them their fav dishes, I have become somewhat a master at mac and cheese.  We loved baked mac and cheese with all the crusty goodness on top but this was an easy on the go recipe for one of our crazy nights.
Here's an easy Shells and Cheese recipe that you can pull off in just 15 minutes if you gather your ingredients before hand!!
1 box of Pasta of your choice (I used mini shells)
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. butter
2 cups of Milk
4 oz. Hunters Sharp Cabot Cheese (grated)
8 oz. bag Shredded Sharp Cheddar (I used Sargento this time)
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
First get your water boiling!  This sauce works up so quickly you really need to get your pasta going first!  Cook pasta according to box directions.
Heat a skillet on med/high heat.

Melt the butter, add the flour to the butter whisking constantly until there are no lumps and turn the heat down to med.
until the sauce has thickened.  Season with salt, pepper and a tiny bit of grated nutmeg.

Add your cheeses and remove from heat, mixing until all the cheese is melted.
At this point you should be ready to drain your pasta. (If not remember to stir the cheese mixture often so it won't form a skin on top)

Add the pasta to the cheese mixture, stir gently until all the pasta is coated with the cheesy goodness!
Serve and enjoy!

What are some processed food you have converted into Homemade Goodness?


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Easy Crock Pot Pork Chops

Easy Crock Pot Pork Chops


6 Boneless Pork Chops
1 Flavorful Dark Beer (I used Sam Adams Maple Pecan Porter, it comes in the Sam Adams Spring Thaw Mix Pack!)*
1/4 c. Whole Grain Mustard (I used Stonewall Kitchen Traditional Pub Style Mustard)
1/4 c. A1 Steak Sauce
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
2 small or 1 med yellow onion
2 Cloves of garlic crushed
2 sprigs of fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper
3 T. Corn Starch

Slice Onion and place in bottom of crock pot.

Combine, A1, Mustard, Sugar, Salt, Pepper, Garlic, and chopped Thyme and brush over pork chops.

Place pork Chops in crock pot.

Slowly pour 6 oz of beer in crock pot.
 * If you don't have beer on hand (or don't use alcohol in your cooking) you could substitute broth or apple cider!

Cook on low for 6-8 Hours. Basting Occasionally.

Remove pork chops and cover with tin foil to keep warm.

Whisk together corn starch and one or two ladles of the crock pot sauce until smooth (NO LUMPS!) and add back into the crock pot and whisk for a few minutes. 

For a thicker sauce, pour contents of crock pot into a sauce pan and simmer until sauce has reduced to a thicker saucy consistency!

Pour sauce over chops serve and enjoy!

I served these with Rice and Broccoli and they were delish!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Alissa's Scarf-Updated with new Pic!!

Alissa's Scarf

As soon as she sent me the pic I new I would have to update this post!!! 
She is beautiful and amazing!  And she looks great in the scarf!!


I was desperately trying to find a knitting pattern for a scarf that looked "woven" for my gorgeous friend Alissa when I came across the "Slip into Winter" Scarf from Caron.  The pattern uses slip stiches in intervals of 3 alternating to create this woven look.
The pattern is no longer available on the website but a nice woman on Ravelry had made the scarf and actually kept her copy and sent it to me!
I used mixed fiber Gala Yarns which if you have experience with gala yarns they are often fun and different but they are not named and there are no dye lots!
I used a Black and Deep Purple Ribbon like yarn and then a tweed like plum with white and black threads running through it.  I unfortunately do not have great pics of the yarn I used.  I promise in the future I will be better at this!!

Because I was changing yarns every two rows and I knew I would be crocheting an edge I chose to carry the other yarns up the side of the work rather than weave in 9 million ends and I used the thicker yarn as a contrasting edge all the way around so it worked out great!
I LOVE this pattern and I am in the process of making another scarf with it, using very different yarns and larger needles.  Stay tuned!



Monday, February 4, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plan Monday  2/4 thru 2/10

Until I have more of my own recipes posted I will include some links to my favorite recipes!
Monday:  Spaghetti w Sauce & Salad (hubs is in charge and we are going Meatless for the Healthy sELF Challenge)
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday (A favorite for the kiddos, we set up a huge taco bar!)
Wednesday: Roast Pork Loin, Rice & Corn, Corn Bread (Giada's Honey Mustard Pork Loin)
Thursday: Shepherd's Pie, Biscuits
Friday: Chicken Cobb Salad, French Bread (Martha's Cobb Salad) I grabbed this recipe after watching my DVR'd episode of Martha Stewart's Cooking School on PBS last night.
Saturday: Crock Pot Meatballs for Meatball Subs, Steamed Broccoli
Sunday: All the kiddos will be gone so I'll just whip up a quick salad!

What are some of your favorite Crock Pot Recipes?



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jesslyn's Scarf


 Jesslyn's Scarf

 Jesslyn modeling her scarf (Cutie Patootie Gavin photobombing!)
Exactly One year ago tomorrow I had pretty epic foot surgery.  A reconstruction so to speak...Old ballerina stuff coming back to haunt me.
I was out of work for 6 weeks...The first week was especially rough because I wasn't supposed to move around a lot so all the screws and stuff could work their magic as the bones started getting used to their new spots. (I know gross)
I did have the foresight to get a ton of yarn together and made each of the lovely ladies that came to be my "lunch buddies" that first week a scarf.  Most of the ladies actually got their scarf!
(Note the gargantuan ice pack in the background keepin' my foot chilly)
Jesslyn's Scarf
Skill Level: Easy
Size: One Size
Gauge:  I mean really....someday maybe.
One (1) Ball Wool Ease Thick and Quick in Fisherman (A)
One (1) Ball Wool Ease Thick and Quick in Grass (B)
One (1) Ball Gala Mixed Yarn pictured below
 (I buy this yarn at Big's cheap and cute but you often only find it once, I couldn't find this exact yarn anywhere on line)
Size P-15 (10 mm) Crochet Hook
Holding a strand of both A and C together Chain 122 stitches.
Make sure you leave your tails long enough to include in the fringe.
Row 1: Single Crochet in the 3rd loop from the hook and each chain across. ch. 1 Turn
Rows 2-8 : Repeat Row 1, switching to yarns B & C Held together for Rows 3 and  6.
For Fringe I cut 24 strands in Fisherman and 8 Strands in Grass and tie them with corresponding colors on each end.  Trim for evenness!
The fun part of these scarves is that you don't have to weave in ends!! I just use the ends for FRINGE!



Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Faves...5 Minute Make Up


5 Minute Make-Up


Towards the end of last year I was very busy LAZY when it came to my beauty routine. The whole messy bun glasses look was my go to....
In an effort to not be such a SCHLUB this year.  I am trying to always put on my a little make up before I leave the house (and change out of the yoga pants)


I love this primer, it really smooth's out my skin keeps my foundation in place


L'Oreal Infallible in Classic Ivory
I have used this foundation for years.  It has great coverage.  I have epic dark circles and this foundation covers up all my flaws. 


Revlon Powder Blush In Sandalwood Beige
I use this as an all over bronzer.




 Maybelline Great Lash in Blackest Black
 I used to have a Mascara Obsession but as of late I just stick with a classic.  I try to always curl my lashes also!



This stuff is amazing!  I love to use it as a gloss.  I keep it with me all the time!!

What are you're go to beauty products when you're in a hurry?