Monday, June 29, 2009

refreshing twist and some experiments

100_3476 I cannot wait for my car to get done at the auto shop; it seems like it’s been forever!  I returned the rental car on Friday because I didn’t want to keep paying for it, but now I feel bad bumming rides from people.  It’s tough not having a car here.  I would take public transportation, but that is pretty much non-existent here in Vegas.  When we went to Portland, their public transportation system was amazing and we could get pretty much anywhere in the city really quick.  It normally only takes me about 20 minutes to get to work, but if I took the bus system here it would take 2 1/2 hours!  No thank you!

I made some granola bars this weekend with the recipe from Angela at Oh She Glows.  I just love her blog, and she has some great, healthy baking recipes.  She also just opened up her own bakery (how cool!) in Canada, and is working on getting her products distributed here in the US.  While I can’t reveal the recipe, all I can tell you is that I can’t wait to order some of her goodies!  I didn’t have some of the ingredients, so I substituted and added some other things.  I also baked them for a bit to help harden ‘em up.  Wow, they are sooo good!  Really just like granola bars you would get at the store, chewy and yummy.  I foresee I’m going to be tweaking my own recipe again :)  Thanks Angela!


I also made another batch of Gina’s Granola.  I just can’t get enough of this stuff!  I tweaked it a little bit too just for fun to experiment.  Here’s what I put in this time . . .

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tbsp brown rice syrup (you can also use honey)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped mixed, roasted nuts
  • if you want to add dried fruit, add it after baking 

Simply combine the first 6 ingredients, through the spices in a large bowl.  Combine the last 5 ingredients (except the nuts) in a microwave safe bowl or small pot, and heat slowly until melted.  Combine the dry with the wet; mix well and stir in the nuts.  Place on a flat cookie sheet and press down.  Bake at 325 for approximately 20-25 minutes (I like mine crunchy!).  Let cool and break apart to enjoy on pretty much anything!  Yum!


During the summer there is nothing like a refreshing dinner to make you feel satisfied, yet not overly stuffed.  Gazpacho is just the thing!  It’s surprisingly filling because it is mostly fluid and packed full of nutrients.  Not to mention it is so easy to make and only about 100 kcals per serving!


Watermelon Gazpacho

(adapted from CookingLight)

Yield:  6-8 servings


  • 6  cups cubed seeded watermelon, save 1 cup for the end
  • 1  cup chopped peeled English cucumber
  • 1/2  cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/3  cup chopped green onions
  • 3  tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1  tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4  tsp salt
  • 2 small shakes of cayenne (careful, this can be hot!)
  • 1  garlic clove, minced100_3505
  • 3/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/4 cup sweet Riesling, optional (we had a glass with dinner too!)
  • greek yogurt or goat cheese for topping


Combine first 10 ingredients. Place half of watermelon mixture in a food processor or blender, and pulse 3 or 4 times or until finely chopped.  Or you can use an immersion blender to blend to desired consistency directly in the bowl (such a good tool!).  Add the blended soup back to the rest of the soup.  Stir in cranberry juice, Riesling and last 1 cup of diced watermelon.  Chill well.  Top with yogurt or goat cheese when ready to serve.

100_3507Oh man, this was really good and refreshing!  There was a nice kick from the cayenne and all the contrasting flavors blended very well.  It filled me up pretty good surprisingly.  I also decided to have some sautéed chicken potstickers on the side with the help of good ol’ TJ’s.  I definitely want to make this again because I don’t think our weather is going to be cooling down anytime soon ha!  I think it’s already gotten to 106.

I like my soups chunky.  I was wishing I had some avocado too, because I think that would work very well :)


On top of the potstickers I drizzled some peanut satay sauce.  It was about a tsp of peanut butter, tbsp of hoisin, tbsp soy sauce, glug of rice wine vinegar and a tinzy bit of toasted sesame oil, yum!



Is public transportation accessible where you live, and if so, do you use it?





Sunday, June 28, 2009

low lighting to set the mood

IMG_3379The main reason I wanted to get a new and better camera was because my other one just really stunk when it came to low-light settings, and low-light settings are the story of my life!  Our little condo didn’t have good light at all, and our new house has ok lighting if you can take pictures during the day.  I usually have to take my pictures around dusk time, which has proven to be a frustrating challenge.  I need to experiment with lighting boxes in the future.

For dinner I decided on using up our never ending leftovers again and made calzones!  Home made dough is so easy and cheap!  I encourage anyone to give it a try.  All you need is a little time to let the dough rise.  Even if you don’t have a stand mixer you can use the best tool in the kitchen . . . your hands!  It may take a little elbow grease, but it is well worth it.

Whole Wheat Pizza & Calzone Dough

Yield:  Approximately 10 calzones or 5 medium pizzas

  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 cups lukewarm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • good sprinkling of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasonings
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  IMG_3304Dissolve the honey into the lukewarm water (make sure you get the water no hotter than about 115 degrees because this will kill the little yeasties).  Add the packet of yeast and stir gently.  Watch the bubbles begin!  This should take about 5 minutes.

While the yeast are getting happy, place the rest of the ingredients into a stand mixing bowl with a paddle attachment; mix.  Add the bubbly yeast to the flour mixture.  Mix with the paddle attachment IMG_3312 until everything is incorporated.  Switch to a dough hook attachment.  Mix for approximately 20 minutes on speed 2.  Watch the dough and make sure it forms a nice ball; add additional flour if needed.  I had to add about 1/4 cup, but it depends on your climate.

Once it’s done mixing, remove the dough hook and place a damp towel over the bowl.  Place in a warm, draft free place and let the dough rise for about 1 hour (you can also let the dough rise in the fridge overnight and take out about an hour before to let it warm up).  Punch dough down and let rise again for about 1/2 hour.  This step is optional, but gives a really tender dough.

Once you make the calzones, make sure to cut a few slits on top and spray lightly with olive oil (I use a misto).  I like to bake them at at least 450 degrees on a pizza stone because it gives an optimal texture. 

I stuffed them with roasted veggies, chicken sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, part-skim ricotta, mozzarella, herbed brie and some fresh basil.  Oh my goodness, this dough is sooo good and tender.

Nothing like some candlelight to set the mood . . .

I’d say it’s not too bad for low lighting?  I had it in Tv mode with the iso at 1600 (let’s in a lot of light) and 1/5 shutter speed, which seemed to work well.  I’m still trying to master all these terms and settings.


A little marinara on the side for dipping . . .


We had TJ’s Petite Verdot along with it.  It was pretty good and only about 9 bucks which was an added plus.  It is very fruit forward, but does need to breathe a bit to open up.   



As the candles continued to burn, the wax overflowed onto the table . . . whoops!  I just let it dry and harden and it came up pretty well later.  For dessert we had some strawberry-rhubarb pie we got at a neat little bakery called Layers, along with some frozen yogurt . . . yum!  I just love pie with something cold and melty.  It reminds me of Thanksgiving.


I am making granola and granola bars at the moment, and will post about them soon!  Yum!  Hope you are having a wonderful weekend, of course it is flying by too fast.  I just want to cook, bake and blog all day :) 




Friday, June 26, 2009

recipe lineup

Happy Friday to everyone!  Or if it’s not your Friday, I hope it’s getting closer to your rest days.  For some reason this week I was tired, just plain tuckered.  I think a lack of sleep had a lot to do with it, and that’s exactly what I plan to do this weekend is get some rest!  Even though I was really tired I still managed to make it to the gym and work pretty dang hard 4 out of the 5 days.  My stats for a kickbox class were 197 max HR and I burned 532 kcals!  Wow, that’s the most I’ve burned in a 1 hour class.  I think when I make it on Monday, I get on this gym streak that I don’t want to break.  I just feel so good afterwards, plus I like to eat!  What’s your motivation to get in physical activity? 

Weekends are just glorious to me, and too dang short in my opinion!  I’d like to live in places like Europe where lunch is strewn out over 2 hours and maternity leave is months at a time for mom and dad!  Life’s just too short, but we have to make those dolla bills somehow, sigh.  I’m still working on the career of my dreams that I never tire of, does this happen in real life? 

I don’t have too much planned this weekend (gasp!) besides getting some rest and catching up on things.  Because I am such a planner by nature, I just wanted to give you a sneak peak to the method of my madness.  I usually plan the meals for the following week on the Friday before.  This is when I go grocery shopping too, right after work.  This way I don’t have to worry about it over the weekend when it’s a madhouse out there, and I can focus on prepping other things for the week.

I use a program called OneNote to plan most things like recipes, menus, classes, and miscellaneous things like wines to try, books I like, meetings or travel plans.  It’s a really great program.  I just set up a table like this for each week and change it as things arise and don’t quite work out.  Plus you can put pictures anywhere you want with lots of cool backgrounds and colors.  Those are some pictures of our eating adventures when we went to Portland.  Such a cool place!  I should do a post just to reminisce because we went before I started my blog.


I also can store all my recipes and print new ones to the files that I want to try:  (these granola bars from Angela at Oh She Glows look awesome!)


Here’s the line-up for this coming week so far (we’ll see how it goes).  I usually make 3 larger meals and then we have leftovers from those the rest of the time and for lunch.  Stay tuned, and hopefully I’ll get to posting them!


Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Any fun plans? 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

leftovers galore

IMG_3252Man, this week seems to be draaaging!  Maybe because last weekend just got away from me with all the party planning and I’m really looking forward to the next one??  But, heck weekends always usually seem to just fly.  Anyone else agree?  I just want to say a big thank you to all of you who liked my photos.  It’s still a work in progress, and I will certainly be eating A LOT of cold dinners in the future! 

Speaking of cold dinners . . . it’s been so dang hot here that all I’ve been craving is cold things . . . smoothies, fruit, or a nice big bowl of yogurt, cereal and frozen fruit like this . . .


I love it when the fruit gets all melty and flavors the yogurt and the cereal gets slightly soggy, but still has a slight crunch!  Yummy stuff.  Plus Chris has been getting home at 10 during the week with summer school, so preparing this is really a cinch.  I get so excited for Fridays now when we actually can cook and be together.  I think it’s going to be calzones or pizza and some good ol’ vino this Friday.

Because we had a ton of leftovers from the housewarming party, I tried to plan this weeks meals around them (aside from the bowls of yogurt!), and decided to make a simple caprese mac and cheese.  We also had lots of liquor left, including a giant thing of vodka, coconut rum, sweet tea vodka, cranberry and pineapple juice.  I think we need to have another party just to use it all!  Good thing that stuff never goes bad :)

This is a lightened up version of mac and cheese, so that the noodles aren’t drowning in it, but are nicely coated.  I actually didn’t mind eating it cold either.

Caprese Mac and Cheese

Yield:  4

  • 1/2 box of your favorite pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups of milk (I used non-fat)
  • about 2 cups of your favorite cheeses (I think I added goat cheese, herbed brie, sharp cheddar, aged gouda, and parmesan
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • salt, pepper, all-purpose seasoning to taste
  • anything else you can find in your fridge to throw in!
  • I also topped it with some breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375.  Start boiling the pasta until al dente.  Meanwhile, heat up the oil, add the shallot and sauté until golden.IMG_3227  Add the flour and cook a few minutes.  Slowly add the milk while whisking.  Slowly simmer and whisk until the mixture thickens.  Turn  the heat to low or off and add all your cheeses, basil, tomato, seasonings and other stuff you can find.  When everything is melty and yummy, place in a pan, top with crumbs and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!


Closer . . .


Closest! . . .


What do you like to eat in the summer time when it’s so dang hot?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

party time

IMG_2989 I absolutely LOVE planning for events, especially events that involve food and friends!  I think I should be a caterer and go to culinary school (this is my dream someday).  While I don’t handle stress/anxiousness too well sometimes, I love the stress of the kitchen.  That rush you get when you prepare something that turns out so well you want to jump or giggle, or the sheer disappointment you feel after messing up a dish and the determination to tweak it and make it better the next time (or right at that moment!).  I love preparing great nibbles and seeing the joy on people’s faces when they are enjoying the company of great friends and food. 

Even with lots of planning, things just don’t always go as planned haha, and this is where I get a bit discombobulated :/  This week was pretty uneventful, but I did get in a small fender bender on Wednesday that put a ‘dent’ in things so to speak.  I was okay thank goodness, but my poor car got about $2,000 worth of damages.  The guy in front of me with the truck didn’t even get a scratch, go figure!  This is my first accident, so I hope that my insurance won’t go through the roof.  While I did get a moving violation for following too close, I don’t even remember being that close.  All I remember is coming to a slow stop, starting to go again and before I knew it I was smooshed in the car in front of me.  I didn’t have enough time to react, and the guy in front of me also hit the guy in front of him.  Not a pleasant experience, but not too bad.  I was just bummed because my gym plans were shot!  Crazy I was thinking about that, but I’m definitely glad it wasn’t more serious.  After filing a claim with my insurance and blah, blah, blah, I’m waiting for the body shop to finish the work . . . (big sigh).  Have you ever gotten in a car accident?  They scare me so much, and when I first started driving I about went into a panic attack every time I got into the car, especially on the freeway.  I didn’t get my license until the middle of my junior year of HS!  Now I’m not that bad, but they still give me serious chills.

On to something more fun . . . . PARTY TIME!

Once all the planning, prepping, making and cleaning was all done, it was so nice to have a cocktail (or two!) and enjoy the good company of family, friends and yummy nibbles celebrating our first home.

Oh and I have to fess up that I got myself a new toy!  I didn’t really ‘need’ it, but really believe that it will be a great investment for the future of my blog, business and tasty travels.  Drum roll please . . . .  it’s the Canon Rebel XSi  aahhh!  I’ve been dreaming about taking pictures like these for years.  Yea, I could have gotten a new road bike, a flat screen tv, a bedroom set, or fake grass in the backyard, but I decided to get an awesome camera.  What is wrong with my head?  I love learning about food styling, and while my pictures are not professional at all, I hope to start learning a lot more about photography, particularly with FOOD!  By the time I made my decision, (I swear I was contemplating all freaking day!) it was too late to get it here by the party date, so I decided to speed ship it for a little extra so I could have it for the pics.  Let’s see how I did for an amateur right out of the box . . . There is so much to learn with this thing!

And if you have ANY experience with food photography, lighting, etc, by all means please give me some ideas and feedback for what works best for you :) 

Here’s the spread:

For munchies to start:

Assorted cheeses – Colby, fontina, sharp cheddar, aged gouda, honey and grapes


Brie, herbed brie, and aged parmesan 


Bruschetta with fig compote, goat cheese and crispy prosciutto.  We also had caprese bites with balsamic reduction. 


Panzanella Salad


Chocolate Fountain!  This was a hit, who doesn’t love dipping things into falling chocolate?! 

IMG_2993 IMG_2995

Spinach artichoke dip with Hawaiian sweet bread, this is always a crowd pleaser.


Roasted Veggie Calzones with marinara dipping sauce (still have to work on the aperture and depth of focus)


And we got a new TV!!  I think I about died right then.  Buster likes watching TV haha



It was such a wonderful party, and while it took most of the week to prepare for it, it was so much fun.  I think we will have to have another party soon because we have a ton of liquor left!  I forgot to take pictures, but we opened up 3 bottles of wine, had that lemon champagne punch (It was so good!), and also made another cocktail, and some pyramid apricot ale beer.  We still have a giant thing of vodka, coconut rum, cranberry and pineapple juice left.  We’ll have to keep it for another time.  Now I have a ton of dishes in the kitchen and loads of wash I need to get cleaning (boo!) . . . and Happy Father’s Day!  Give those men in your lives a big hug!

What’s your most memorable party that you have hosted?



Friday, June 12, 2009

lots of planning

With the housewarming party fast approaching, there is lots of planning to do.  As you know I’m a huge list writer and I really like the program called OneNote.  I also use it for all my classes.  I swear I’d be lost if I didn’t have my plan of action!  Most of the time this way of thinking is beneficial for me and helps me really get things done, but a lot of the time it is most certainly my downfall.  If something doesn’t quite go as planned, I get cranky and all discombobulated.  Well, let the planning begin . . . Let me know what you think or if you have any tried and true crowd pleasers.  If everyone attends there should be around 30 people . . . eek!  But, it should probably be more around 20-25.  More pictures to come as the food is prepped!

Menu Ideas so far . . . I may have to narrow some down



  • Artichoke heart, sun-dried tomato and olive pasta salad with lemon vinaigrette
  • Panzanella salad
  • Mini Veggie Calzones with marinara dipping sauce
  • Asian BBQ chicken thighs


  • Chocolate fountain with strawberries, pretzels, marshmallows and brownie bites for dipping

~Grown-up Drinks~

Wow, I have lots of things to do before all this is golden.  We even have more house stuff to do too . . . eek!  Here’s my plan of attack so far . . .

This weekend:

  • Clean up yard somewhat, Extra outside chairs,Touch-up paint, Baseboards, Thresholds? and Hang pictures


  • Buy Wine/Alcohol at Lee's
  • Buy Platters/serving stuff at HomeGoods (so cheap!)
  • Make brownie bites/freeze


  • Grocery Shopping
  • Prep Salad/bruschetta ingredients


  • Assemble Pasta salad/Panzanella salad
  • Marinate chicken
  • Roast Veggies for calzones
  • Make calzone dough
  • Clean upstairs


  • Buster Walk/Bath
  • Clean downstairs
  • Assemble Platters
  • Make citrus punch
  • Make calzones
  • Grill Chicken

PARTY! – 6pm

For lunch the other day I had something that I haven’t had in a long time . . . tempeh!  I marinated a few strips of it in Hoisin, lime juice, and sesame oil for about 5 minutes.  Then I grilled it on the grill pan, and placed in on some sandwich bread with mozzarella, spinach and avocado and pressed it into a panini.  I also had greek yogurt on the side for dipping.  It was delish and very filling!

100_2952  100_2954 

100_2956 Buster has this weird thing and likes to smell shoes when you take them off!  We took Buster to the dog park for the first time and he had a blast!  He loves being around all the other dogs and people.  All the dogs were barking at him and smelling his butt, but he didn’t mind at all!  Isn’t that amazing that dogs smell each other’s butts to meet and find out about each other?  He was romping through the grass like a gazelle and loved all the new smells.  We are definitely going to make this a continued occurrence in the future.  He was so tuckered from all the excitement, but he still had us up at 4:15 am wanting to get up.  He is such a new dog once he got his poor ears and teeth fixed up.  He had a really bad ear infection the week after we got him, one of the worst the vet has seen.  Now, he’s been on antibiotics and two kinds of ear rinses and he’s feeling much more chipper and is quite the character.

Here’s Buster’s new friend Louie.  He’s my friend’s dog and is quite the ham!


Here’s the happy papa and Buster . . .


Hope you all have a wonderful, productive weekend!  Let me know on any of your recipe ideas :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

summer grillin’ and chillin’

clip_image002I absolutely love the summer time, especially for all its nutrient-dense produce in season. . . sweet fruits, a little relaxation and plenty of sunshine gets me excited to jump in the kitchen (or backyard) and put together refreshing recipes to savor the season. In the winter time I love making soups, stews and anything I can throw in the crock-pot because it’s so easy, but during the summer, especially with the 100+ degree weather here in Vegas, it’s hard not to want to eat anything but smoothies. The grill or grill pan can be a great friend because it can be really easy to marinate anything from chicken, pork, veggies, etc and throw it on the grill for a quick meal. I’m also a big fan of contrasting flavors and textures. Pairing sweet, savory and slightly spicy flavors makes my mouth sing. That is why I really enjoy this summer recipe of Jerk Chicken with mango salsa. It’s the perfect recipe for summer grillin’ and chillin’ in the backyard with a nice frosty margarita. Enjoy!

I did a post awhile ago regarding nutrition fact labels in restaurants.  Here is a recent statement from the ADA and I would have to agree!  I think this is so important for the future health of everyone, including myself.  Even though I know what to look for when it comes to eating out, there are times when I’m eating that oh so delicious restaurant meal and wonder. . . how much butter did they hide in here to make it taste so good?  On the other hand sometimes I just don’t want to know so I can enjoy my indulgent meal in moderation.  If I did have the counts I would definitely think twice!  But of course labels will be worthless without a foundation of nutrition education, so that consumers can understand the important information presented to them.

"The American Dietetic Association is a strong advocate for policies that will improve the lives of Americans through food and nutrition strategies. There is no goal more important in the current debate over health reform than to have a lasting, positive impact on all Americans' health. Nutrition is at the foundation of health - necessary to be healthy and effective in preventing delaying, offsetting and managing disease. We support policies that facilitate good nutrition, including consumer-tested nutrition information and education and financial support for research.


"We see the inclusion of restaurant menu labeling provisions in health reform appropriate to achieving that goal. People need scientifically valid and understandable nutrition information to make healthful choices in all venues, including restaurants. Providing good, accurate and tested information to a consumer educated in nutrition basics can have a powerful effect on food selection at the point of sale. Over time, the act of millions of people making healthful choices can impact the health of the nation and improve the food supply by consumer demand.”

What do you think?

~Jamaican Jerk Chicken~

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients: (Many of these steps can be done in advance, it’s kind of a long one!)

For the Chicken:

  • 1 tsp lime rind 
  • 1/4-1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (pound fairly thin so they are not too thick)

Place all the chicken ingredients in a zippy bag and marinate this mixture at least 2 hours in the fridge, turning occasionally.

For the Sweet Potato base: (Do this while the Chicken is marinating)

Stab 2 large yams/sweet potatoes with a fork, spray lightly with oil or pam and wrap in foil.  Place in a 375-400 F oven for about 1 hour, depending on the size of them.  They will feel very tender when done.

For the Mango Salsa: (Do this while the sweet potatoes are baking, close to eating time)

  • 1 tsp finely diced jalapeno (you can add more if you like it hot)
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • ¼ to ½ English cucumber, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup non-fat greek yogurt

Mix all the salsa ingredients together and place in fridge until ready to plate. 

Time to Grill the Chicken:

Prepare the grill.  Grease grill with canola oil to keep the chicken from sticking.  For great grill marks place chicken on grill for 3-5 minutes, turn chicken about 35 degrees and cook another 3-5 minutes on the same side.  Baste chicken with the extra marinade.  Turn chicken over and repeat on the other side.  Total cooking time, depending on the thickness, should be about 12-20 minutes.  Instant Thermometer should read about 160 in the thickest part.  Let chicken rest 5 minutes covered with foil when done.

For the Presentation:

Cut the sweet potato in half widthwise then in half again lengthwise and fan open ½ the potato on the plate, place about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salsa mixture over the sweet potato, slice chicken thinly and fan slices on top.  Dollop with more Greek yogurt, lime slice, and sprig of fresh cilantro.  Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. It’s a flavor explosion in the mouth, yum!


What’s your favorite recipe or drink of summer?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

sprucing up annie

100_2949I love annie’s mac and cheese, but I always like to add a little bit more to it and spruce it up.  I like things with contrasting flavors, colors, textures, so just having a plain bowl of mac and cheese just doesn’t do it for me.  I want more adventure!  So I like to add just a few things to change it up a bit.  When I make popcorn, I have to mix some cereal 100_2940 or chocolate chips in it because I can’t have just popcorn.  When I eat cereal I have to have about 4 different kinds all mixed in, because I can’t just eat one kind.  So weird! 

Usually I make things from scratch and always despise making things out of a box or freezer bag.  My dear mother used to love making those hamburger and tuna helpers, and I absolutely despised it as I got older!  She always tried to fit in in there somewhere.  Maybe that is where I get my culinary inspiration from?  No one in my immediate family enjoys cooking that much, except my great grandmother (she passed away when I was 3, so sad we didn’t get to cook together) and grandmother on my mom’s side.  Isn’t that funny? 

image But, oh when i was younger my grandma used to make me Velveeta brand mac and cheese, and oh how I loved the salty, creamy goodness of it!  She probably put extra butter in it too, oh grandma and her butter.  She would make me peaches and cream too with the real stuff, yes whole milk, chopped peaches and sugar!  Itimage was so good though.  I used to also love those Little  Debbie nutty bars.  I think I’ve had a love affair with peanut butter from birth!  It’s crazy the junk food kids love and are attracted to these days with great media tactics. 

Here are some previous attempts at sprucing up Annie:


Tonight here’s what I came up with:

I added chopped shallot, garlic, a few mushrooms, leftover corn, 1 zucchini, 1/2 bell pepper, 1 small head broccoli and tofu and sautéed it until golden.  I also like to add about 1/4 cup each of non-fat milk and greek yogurt to it for its tang and creaminess, along with herbed goat cheese, a little fontina (leftovers from the peppers), parmesan and all-purpose seasoning.  It was delish!  Next time I think I’m going to add some chipotle chilis in adobo and black beans for a Mexican twist?  Or caprese mac and cheese?  mmm . . . endless possibilities!

Mac and Cheese tower . . .



Brought me back to my childhood :)

What are some nostalgic childhood junk food memories you have that you wouldn’t think of eating today?  I’d love to hear them!