Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Where should we go?

Rob is on his annual ski trip this week, and while we are missing him lots, I hear the snow is deep, and the conditions are perfect! 

On Saturday I'll be flying into Denver to meet him and to start our weeklong vacation!  First we'll be in Denver where we are excited to spend some time with family.  We'll be stopping in Colorado Springs for some meetings (for Rob), and for me to meet up with a close college friend.  We'll then be driving to Tempe, AZ for a conference that Rob will be attending.  We'll have a couple of days to sight-see.  So my question is: should we stop in Santa Fe, NM or Sedona, AZ?  I've already been to Sedona and loved it.  But, I've heard Santa Fe is great, too! 

If anyone out there has an opinion or any great ideas, I'd love to hear them.  The cities are both on our way to our destination and virtually equidistant.  We'll probably have one overnight and two days to sight-see.  Oh, and it's just the two of us (!!). 

Any and all advice would be great! 

Wannabe Gyros

It's so funny - every year around this time I feel like I need to detox.  I feel inspired to deep-clean my house, throw "stuff" away, eat healthier, and just generally "get it together".   I am discovering more and more that my moods are determined by sunshine.  I've also discovered that while I love meat, sometimes my body just needs a break.  My skin and hair pay the price when I'm eating an especially fattening diet.  It's been about a week since I've had meat and I can say that I feel great.  I have tons of energy, and it's a nice change.  I'll probably go back to meat next week, but for now I'm reveling in the novelty (and not needing deodorant - isn't that weird?). 

I've been trying some new recipes and the sandwiches we had last night were a winner!  Even Emma, who hates tomatoes and cucumbers (but wishes she liked them), said, "this is pretty good". 

Basically, it's a pocketless pita that we stuffed with tabbouleh, chopped lettuce, and the world's best salad dressing.

If you do nothing else, you must try this salad dressing recipe.  It's a riff on the Olive Garden salad dressing recipe.  I have been to the Olive Garden maybe once in twelve years, but I do remember the salad and breadsticks - remember when the breadsticks were coated with butter, garlic and cheese?  yum.  Anyway, trust me when I tell you that you will love this dressing recipe.  It keeps really well - I usually make a batch and we use it for a few weeks until it's gone. 

But, back to the sandwich.  A couple things:  it's very messy.  It's also delicious, and you could totally include ground lamb, grilled chicken, or even shrimp if you wanted to.  The crunch of the lettuce and cucumbers mix well with the pillowy softness of the pita and the creamy dressing drips down your hand in the best way possible. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Banana Cupcakes

I just made these - and after looking at the pictures, I realized that they sort of look like an over-easy egg.  I used my trusty banana bread recipe and then topped the muffins cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (adding lemon zest and a little lemon juice).  I put a dollop of apricot jam on top and sprinkled with toasted coconut. 

Even if they look a little like brunch, I've been told they're pretty yummy.  I found some pretty willing guinea pigs!  I also have chocolate peanut butter cookies in the oven - Josh is taking the treats for a get-together with friends, hopefully they'll enjoy them!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Things I've Learned

since joining the gym one month ago.

1.  My clothing has never been tighter.  I keep hearing, "oh, but you're building muscle".  I don't want muscle.  I want loose clothing.

2.  There is a reason that speedo bathing suits do not have "miracle" in their title.  If you look good in a speedo, you are my hero.

3.  I think my kids have seen more than they've bargained for.  People are not real modest in the locker rooms.  Kate said last week, "I've seen things no ten-year old should ever see".  I kind of don't find it a big deal.  I guess I'm not real modest either, then.

4.  Every drop of sweat on your body is highly visible in a brightly lit exercise room with mirrors on all sides.

5.  My kids are part fish.  We've been swimming a few times a week and Kate swam 44 laps last night.

6.  I am part fish.  I really love to swim.  I don't like the speedo, the dry skin, or having to use conditioner, but swimming is good for my mental health.  I just wish it made my clothing fit better.

7.  I feel a little guilty exercising every day.  I totally realize it's a luxury.  It takes time.  But, I kind of love it.

8.  There are lots of rules and signs announcing the rules.  My personal favorite hangs in the sauna/steam/hot tub area.  "This area should not be used for shaving".  Really, someone needed to specify that? 

9.  It's a great excuse to eat more.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Favourite Thing Friday

My favorite thing this Friday is trying new recipes!  To find out what Mrs. P's favorite thing is this week, head over to Quilting in my Pyjamas.

I am trying a new recipe for dinner tonight - this. 

I found the recipe on Pinterest, and I only needed to use about 1/2 can of coconut milk.  Because I wanted to use the remaining coconut milk, I did a google search.  I found Emeril's recipe for coconut cream pie. 

I remembered that Rob really enjoyed coconut cream pie at a cool restaurant when we were in Florida - so I decided to make one!  The recipe called for whole milk, but I substituted in the remaining coconut milk for part of the milk in the recipe.

The jury is still out on whether or not either of these recipes will be a hit - but it was really fun mixing new ingredients and anticipating how they will taste!  I'll keep you posted.

For now, here are some pictures of the fun I've had this afternoon!  

custard filling with toasted coconut

my blind-baked pie crust

the two components of my pie: custard and meringue topping

just waiting for the meringue

there it is!

before baking


I hope it tastes as good as it looks!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How is it possible?

How can time be hurtling by at such a speed that these two.....

Josh, aged four - Kate, aged 6 months (they're now 13 and almost 10)

will be in high school [next year] and turning ten [next month]?

Cherry Cinnamon Bread

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! 

I realize this recipe is a little late to the party, but if you live in the US, President's Day weekend is quickly approaching - make this bread for your family sometime this weekend. 

I used the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon roll dough and then simply added some drained sour cherries.  I freeze some every summer, but I know you can purchase canned sour cherries in the baking aisle.  When I reached the step where I sprinkle the raised dough with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, I placed the cherries on top and rolled up the dough.  Instead of slicing into individual cinnamon rolls, I kept mine in a log and placed into a greased loaf pan. 

I baked my bread at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  I added icing after the bread cooled.  We seriously loved this bread.  I will be making this again - maybe even this weekend!

note: (I halved the cinnamon roll recipe, it was just perfect for two loaves - which we ate in one day!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The best thing about dessert

is enjoying it for breakfast the next day!  I love warm apple pie with milk.  I enjoyed mine with a nice cup of coffee.  Perfection.

Here is the link to my apple pie tutorial.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tastes Like a Memory

grape nuts, raspberries, and milk

Tastes just like my grandparents house.  Don't you love when food takes you back to a special place with special memories?  What "takes you back"?

As a special aside, my grandparents raspberry bushes live on.  Even though my grandfather has been gone since 1995 and my grandmother since 2005, I recently cooked for a family that has the offspring of their bushes.  They inherited the shoots of bushes my grandparents gave to friends.  How cool is that? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quiche with potatoes

I don't really know what to call this.  I don't think it's a quiche, I guess it could be called a frittata.  I'm not really sure of the definition, but since my husband and some of my readers are purists, I should quantify it pretty soon.  Whatever it is, you'll love it!  We often have quiche and soup as a dinner during the week.  We all like it, and then the leftovers are great for lunches. 

I do have a recipe for a quiche with a potato crust, but that one seems a little labor intensive.  This was way easier, and the potato flavor was stronger, which was a win with this crowd!  It's kind of like home fries and an omelette, all in one cheesy bite.  Yeah, it's that good. 

What do you think we should call it?

3 medium potatoes, cooked in the microwave until tender, then chop and set aside
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 T canola oil
salt, pepper
1/2 cup chopped deli ham
1 cup cooked broccoli florets
3 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar, with more for topping
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup half and half

1.  In a skillet, saute cooked potatoes and onion until slightly browned, season to your liking with salt and pepper.  Put browned potatoes and onions into your pie plate.
2.  In a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Pour over the potato and onion mixture. 
3.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until mixture is set.  Just before the mixture sets, sprinkle extra cheese over, if desired, and bake until golden brown. 

This was honestly so easy!  We all loved it.  This would be perfect for brunch, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 


Growing up, I used to love when my mom made cornbread.  I have tried to make it for our family over the years, and I could never get it to taste like hers.  Until.  Until I used my skillet.  I don't know why I didn't try this before - my mom always used her skillet for cornbread.  I also tried a new recipe, via a google search.  I had always used the back of the cornmeal container, but I only had bulk cornmeal and so I had to do a little research.

The cornbread was, in Rob's words, "heaven".  Crunchy from the cornmeal, but moist and soft, almost pillowy.  We, of course, topped ours with plenty of butter and honey, and I served it alongside pulled pork and a salad.

Buttery Cornbread Recipe, courtesy of Allrecipes (click here for the link)

  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Combine the eggs and milk. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with egg mixture.
  2. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares; serve warm.