July 31, 2012

Spud Studs


I have said it before and I’ll say it again; I love potatoes in any way, shape or form.  I also love them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Anytime, anyplace, any way.

Well, when I found this SUPER EASY potato pancake recipe I couldn’t wait to try it and make it my own.  It starts with frozen hash browns (which I always have in my freezer) and just a few other staple ingredients that many of us have on hand each and every day.

These are great served with eggs and sausage for breakfast, as a midday snack with a bit of sour cream or along side some yummy applesauce and pork for dinner.  The possibilities are endless!




Spice up any meal with these spud studs!



Easy Potato Pancakes

Print this recipe!

  • 3 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • nonstick cooking spray for griddle


Place the hash browns in a strainer; rinse with cold water until thawed. Drain thoroughly; transfer to a large bowl. Add the flour, eggs, butter, water and salt and mix well.

Heat griddle to medium high and spray with nonstick spray. Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle; fry until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm. Yield: 6 servings.


*other ingredients would be great added to the “batter” of these as well:  chives, ham, cheese, garlic salt, sautéed onions just to name a few.






July 30, 2012

Menu Monday


Happy Monday! 

We had quite a relaxed weekend which is usually not the norm!  After a baseball game with our friend Lynn on Friday night we spent Saturday hanging out at home watching the Olympics until it was time to head to my mom’s house for the the night.

I can’t remember the last time we didn’t have anything to do. I think I was in my PJs until after lunch.  It was awesome!




With the looming deadline of reporting back to work approaching quickly, this is my last week of official summer break (boo,hoo!).  Here’s to a good one!


As far as eating, this is our menu plan – what is yours?


M: Kosmic Karma Pizza

T:  Steak Salad

W:  Pork Tenderloin w/ Veggie Cous Cous

Th:  Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

F:  Chicken and Black Bean Nachos

Sa:  Shepherd’s Pie w/ Roasted Carrots

Su:  Baked Spaghetti


Have a great week!

July 28, 2012

The Wizard of Oz


Happy weekend!

We are on our way out of town, but I wanted to do a quick post on “diet” foods.  For many of us, we probably feel like we have spent our whole life on a diet.  For others of us we may toy with different diet fads from time to time. 

Well, as I was watching Dr. Oz a couple of weeks ago he had a list of 99 diet foods that should be in your grocery cart if you are trying to lose weight.  This list (in my opinion) was devised for the dieter that was on the go and didn’t have time to cook at home, prepare healthy foods in advance, or simply for those who just needed some quick go-to meals now and then to help them in their weight loss journey.

After looking over the list, I have to say, taste wise, it’s not that bad.  Eating well doesn’t have to be a sacrifice and these 99 foods (I’ve had many of them) are not only convenient, but filling and tasty.

Have a look and save some calories!



Click here for more information.


Have a happy and healthy weekend!

July 27, 2012

FF - Colored Denim


Happy Fashionable Friday everyone!  Today we’re going to taste the rainbow with colored denim, one of my favorite new trends.




Colored denim has become a mega trend this year with emphasis on the spring and summer seasons.  I have been loving the look of these candy colored jeans (also in pastels) for a while now and decided yesterday to go ahead and bite the bullet.

Colored denim can be found everywhere these days: Forever 21, Old Navy, Gap and Macy’s just to name a few, but I found mine (on sale of course) at Target for $12.99!  Yesss!

These turquois jewel toned skinny jeans are bright and fun for the end of summer and beginning of the school year paired with sandals – they will be perfect for teaching – but will also transition into fall perfectly by adding some boots and richer colors.


Daily Outfits22


On sale, double duty, and work appropriate – sign me up!

Have a great weekend and happy shopping!

July 26, 2012

Comfort Zone


Today’s post is a bit of a silly one, but I couldn’t resist. 

I have to say that I am a pretty organized person, I like routine and love to plan.  I don’t get bent out of shape if we don’t always go by the plan, but I love to have one just in case we need one.  In general, like most people, I like to be in my comfort zone.

Well, today I stepped out of my comfort zone just a bit and it felt really great!

I have been looking at these adorable fedora style hats for a while now and have wanted one, but didn’t think I could pull it off.  I would always think, that hat is so cute, but it would look ridiculous on me!




Well, as I was back to school shopping in Target today (yes, teachers go back to school clothes shopping, too) I saw these little gems; and again, fell in love with the look of them.



Then I saw this clearance tag.  It had to have been a sign from above.

I hardly ever pay full price for anything, which besides the ridiculousness comments going on in my head, was a contributing factor into not purchasing a hat before today.

Soooo, I thought, why not, I’ll try it on. 




I loved it!

Even better…I loved the price!  $3.88.  Score!




I wore it around the store for a couple of minutes and made sure I walked by a few mirrors and I had the same internal response each time.  I loved it.




Feeling daring (I know, it is just a hat, but it was a big deal for me) I put it on as soon as I got in my car and drove with it on the rest of the day. It didn’t match the rest of my outfit or I would have worn it while running the rest of my errands.

I felt awesome for going a bit out of my comfort zone – Mike would be so proud, he loves to push me out of my comfort zone- and was almost like breaking my own rules.  Nobody else knew what a big deal it was for me, but I did.

If you haven’t done something lately to get out of your ordinary routines or comfort zone, I encourage you to.  It can be something as small as wearing a silly hat, or something monumental that has been on your wish list for a while. 

Life is short – take some risks! 

July 25, 2012

Pizza Pockets


Hi all!  Happy Hump Day!

So, the other day when I was grocery shopping I saw these and for some reason just had to get them…they looked so good.




I have had Lean Pockets before and enjoy them for a quick and easy lunch, especially when I’m at school and have about 10 minutes to scarf down something quickly.  However, like my brain often does as soon as I finished my premade meal, a switch went off and I thought…I could make these at home, they are basically just calzones, and in fact, why haven’t I yet?

Bingo.  That’s all it took.

I bought some pizza dough, read a few online recipes to get the general “gist” of the calzone process and went for it.  The results were amazing and I fell in love with this easy and delicious method of pizza making – perfect for a weeknight meal.  It tasted just as good as a restaurant version (maybe even better) and I can’t wait to try different fillings and combinations! 

So, without further ado, here you go!




Easy Cheesy Calzones

Print this recipe!

1 ball pizza dough (usually found in the bakery section of your supermarket).

--you could also use tube pizza dough I would imagine

1 (15 oz.) container part skim ricotta

1/4 C parmesan cheese

1/2 C reduced fat mozzarella

1 t dried oregano

2 eggs (one for cheese filling, one for the topping)

garlic salt for seasoning

filling ingredients – I used caramelized onions, turkey sausage and diced tomatoes in this version.

*all of these measurements can be adjusted to your tastes, I usually just “eyeball” it, but the approximate measurements are above.


Take pizza dough out of the refrigerator and let rest on the counter for about an hour before assembling calzones.  It makes for easier rolling (trust me).




Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin sautéing any of the vegetable/meat fillings if using any other than the ricotta mixture. In a medium bowl combine your cheese mixture by adding the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, 1 egg and oregano.  Mix to incorporate.




If you are using any additional fillings add them to the cheese mixture and combine.  I sautéed 1 sweet Vidalia onion, half of a can of diced tomatoes and a few turkey sausage links for ours and it tasted AMAZING.

--Tip:  If you want to do different fillings for different kinds of calzones (some cheese, some sausage, etc), leave the extra filling out of the cheese mixture and just add on top of the ricotta mixture when assembling.




I didn’t take very many pictures of the assembly process, but here’s how I did it:

On a floured surface use 1/4 of the pizza dough and roll into a circle – as you can see from the picture below I didn’t quite divide my dough evenly – it looks like I was getting ready to feed the three bears!

Place about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of filling one one side of the rolled out dough and then fold over to form a half circle shape.  Press down with a fork along the edges to seal.  Repeat this process until all of the dough, or filling, or both are gone (I had a little filling leftover, which can be saved for a another dish later in the week, used on top of crostini or just discarded).

In a small bowl whisk 1 egg and brush over the calzones with a pastry brush and dust with garlic salt (optional).  The egg will help seal the calzones together and will turn the “crust” into a golden brown color when baking.  YUM.




Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving (the filling gets very hot).




Serve with your favorite marinara, pesto or garlic sauce on the side for dipping.




PS-  They are even great left over!  I just took a break from writing this post to have some of our leftovers for lunch and it was just as good as last night.  Deeelish!

July 24, 2012

Tipsy Tuesday


Hi all!  Since I have been spending most of my summer cleaning out and reorganizing everything from closets, to the pantry and even the freezer, I wanted to share some tips that have been helpful to me.  Enjoy!


1.  Sweet Spatula:

If you are like me and love kitchen utensils, especially spatulas this tip is for you.  I have lots of fun, colorful and useful spatulas that are in a crock next to my stove (see below) that I use each and every day.


The only problem was that even though I would wash my spatulas by hand (dishwasher cycles just weren’t getting them clean enough and rotting the wooden handles), they still had a “scent” to them.  I use onions and garlic to start almost every meal in our house and I noticed that my spatulas had that same slight smell to them after washing. 

It didn’t really bother me until I was making banana bread one afternoon and was stirring and scraping with my regular spatulas.  I was a little grossed out and didn’t want an onion or garlic taste in my bread.  Gross.

The solution?  A sweet spatula!


This spatula (above) is used just for sweet dishes and even has a separate home (in the drawer, away from the savory spatulas).  I opted for the smiley face so it would be easier for me (and Mike) to remember which ones were which– if I had just picked a different color, forget it, I would never remember.  The smiley has been great so far!


2.  Productive Pantry:

In my pantry I have quite a few airtight containers that I use to keep my staples (like pancake mix, grits, rice, cereal, panko, etc) nice and fresh.

My suggestion, if you do this in your pantry as well, would be to make sure you cut the cooking instructions and cooking ratios off of the original box and tape on the side of the container or place inside.  This saves you from a last minute Google session when you don’t know the ratio of grits to water when hungry mouths are waiting!






3.  Frozen Buns:

With just the two of us in our household, there are many times that we have leftover hamburger or hotdog buns.  For a while I didn’t know what to do with them and they would just get moldy and have to be thrown away.  What a waste Sad smile.

Then, I decided to start freezing the ones that we didn’t use for the meal or didn’t need for leftovers the next day.  That worked great, until I found another loophole.  They were all frozen together and I would have to thaw all of them just to get to one (or two)!



The solution?  Separate your buns (ha, ha) before freezing.  That way, you will have single servings of buns whenever you need them.  You won’t have to wait until they thaw to pull them apart.  Score!




4.  Clean Koozies:

Along with our friends, we love koozies.  We don’t go anywhere without them and have stashes of them in every car, beach chair and tote bag we own. 

The only problem is that by the end of a weekend, especially a beach weekend they are usually wet, sandy and all kinds of germy.  I just throw our koozies in with a load of towels (wash and dry) and they come out sparkling, sanitary and looking brand new.

Everybody loves clean koozies!




5.  Ring Round-up:

I don’t know if it is because I work around kids all day and just want to take everything off when I get home or not, but I am one of those people.  The first thing I do when I get home  from work is take my jewelry off (Mike also does this with his wedding ring).

When it comes to my regular jewelry I have a couple of jewelry boxes that the different pieces go in, but when it comes to our wedding rings, we have a specific spot so we always know where they are.  I was surprised to find out how many people don’t have a specific spot for their rings, and are constantly looking for them.  I would go into panic mode!

If you have a place that you always put your keys (if you don’t, you should have one of those too), why not your rings?




We have a dish on our bedroom dresser that we bought on our honeymoon (above) and a dish next to the sink (below) since those are two places we take our rings off.  If our rings are not in one, they are in the other.  Period.

Such a stress reliever!




All of these tips work for us, I hope they can help you, too!

July 23, 2012

Menu Monday


Happy Monday everybody!  We had a busy, fun and productive weekend!

We spent Saturday at the beach ALL DAY, literally leaving as the sun was setting to celebrate our friend Abby’s 30th birthday.  The weather was perfect and there were no sunburns to report. Smile

Yesterday we spent the day…buying a new car!  As blah as car buying can be, our experience wasn’t bad at all.  We spent Friday afternoon and night test driving all kinds of different SUVs and then headed back yesterday for the price negotiations.  The whole process makes me nervous, but thanks to Mike’s hard bargaining, we ended up with a great deal and are super happy.  The guy is good I tell ya.




On another note – only two weeks left of summer break.  EEEEK!

As the reality of going back to work soon sets in, here is our menu plan for this week -


M: Chicken Tetrazzini w/ Salad

T:  Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadillas w/ Tomato Soup

W:  Cheesy Calzones w/ Broccoli

Th:  Steak w/ Baked Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans

F:  Pulled Pork Sandwiches w/ Salad

Sa:  Porcupine Meatballs w/ Roasted Carrots

Su:  Marinated Pork Tenderloin w/ Veggie Cous Cous


Have a good one!

July 22, 2012

Pantry Pancakes


I love getting up on weekends and trying to come up with new pancake recipes.  Usually by Sunday morning, our fridge is getting low (which is good – that means we planned our menu well) and I don’t have a lot of options, which in turn means, I have to get creative.

We almost always have staples on hand for breakfast – eggs, turkey sausage (in the freezer) and either pancake mix or ingredients for French Toast, Mike’s fave.  Well, this morning we didn’t even have milk to make the batter for French Toast, so eggs, sausage and pancakes were on our agenda.  The only problem…how could I make our plain pancake batter new, interesting and super tasty?

Then, I looked in my pantry and it hit me: 

Dark Chocolate Chips + Raspberry Cranberry Preserves= Deliciousness




I love any chocolate and berry combination, especially in trail mix, so I thought, why not?

The verdict?  Absolutely perfect. 




Not only were these SUPER easy with ingredients from the pantry,  but the finished result looked and tasted very gourmet.  My kind of fake out meal.




Here’s how:

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes

yields 6-8 pancakes

1 C complete pancake mix (I use Hungry Jack)

3/4 C water

1/4 C dark chocolate chips

2 T Raspberry Cranberry Preserves (or jelly of choice)


Whisk pancake mix and water together until smooth in a medium bowl.  Add chocolate chips and stir.

Heat griddle to medium high heat.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray and ladle 1/4 C batter onto the griddle.  Add about 1/2 t of preserves onto the middle of the pancake and swirl.  Once bubbles form on the top of the pancake flip and cook for a few more minutes on the other side.




Serve with syrup and any other yummy fixings that suit your fancy.




Happy Sunday!

July 20, 2012

Have your cake, and eat it too!




Happy Friday everyone! 

I wanted to share a website that I recently found, courtesy of Mike, that is a great resource when dealing with anything health related.

Florida Hospital’s website, www.Healthy100.org, has great articles on everything from upcoming health events/classes, healthy recipes, portion size, super foods, healthy eating tips and everything in between.  It is a simple, yet informative website helping to deliver health news to keep people living to be a healthy 100 years of age (hence the name).

I found the following information particularly interesting when it comes to making healthy switches in your baked goods.  Besides my usual repertoire of using reduced fat items (if available) and throwing in fresh or dried fruits and nuts for an extra nutritional boost, these tips seem very do-able without taking away any of the flavor.

I can’t wait to try a few out!


Tips to Lighten Up Your Baking (courtesy of healthy100.org)

--Boost the fiber in pancakes, muffins and quick breads by adding ground flax seed.

--Add healthy whole grains to your diet by substituting 1/3 cup of bran or whole-wheat flour for 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour.

--Reduce sugar by ¼ to 1/3 in baked goods and desserts. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup, use 2/3 cup. Add cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract to create sweetness. Tip: Do not eliminate all sugar in yeast breads because sugar works with the yeast to make the bread rise.

--Replace half of a recipe's high-fat ingredients, such as butter, margarine, sour cream, heavy cream, chocolate, oil and shortening with mashed ripe bananas or puréed prunes. 

--Instead of using one whole egg, try ¼ cup fat-free, cholesterol-free egg substitute, or two egg whites.

--Swap one cup of oil for one cup of unsweetened applesauce.

--Trade one tablespoon of margarine with three tablespoons of ground flax seed.

--Substitute one cup of sour cream with one cup of plain yogurt.

--Exchange one ounce of chocolate with three tablespoons of cocoa.

--Replace one cup of heavy cream with one cup of evaporated skim milk.




Have a great and healthy weekend!

July 19, 2012

Blueberry Bliss


It’s funny, I kind of have a love/hate relationship with blueberries.  I don’t like them by themselves, or “raw”, but I like them baked in things – but only small ones.  I’m weird I know.




But…since I have a large bag of freshly frozen farm picked blueberries in my freezer, I thought I would try this Blueberry Biscuit recipe out.  God bless Pinterest.




This recipe actually comes from an awesome blog entitled Pink Pistachio (I can only hope my blog will one day be to this caliber).  My recipe is almost identical, but I added cinnamon to my batter per usual. 

These super easy biscuits turned out yummy, almost scone-like (which I loved) and the blueberries of all sizes were delicious!  I can’t wait to try this with other berries that are in season.   I bet any and all would be delicious!





Blueberry Biscuits

Print this recipe!

2 C flour

2 t baking powder

2 T sugar

1/2 t salt

1/4 t nutmeg

1/2 t cinnamon

1 1/2 C whipping cream

1 C blueberries (or berry of choice)


Preheat oven to 425.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Stir.  Add the berries and toss in the flour.  Gently fold in the cream, just until mixed (dough should look lumpy – don’t overwork).  Lightly flour your counter and gently knead (about 4 flips) into an 8 inch square (1 inch thickness). 

Using a pizza cutter or knife divide dough into 12 portioned biscuits – making sure not to cut all the way through, leaving the square as one whole piece.  Transfer dough onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.  Serve with flavored butter and jam/jelly.  Great with coffee!









July 17, 2012

Sweet and Sour


Boy have I got a dandy of a recipe for you fine folks today! 

I found a recipe for sweet and sour pork (could work with chicken as well) a few weeks ago and was a little hesitant to try it out.  Looking at the ingredients I didn’t have high hopes for the sauce component, which in reality will make or break any sweet and sour dish.




Well, I was pleasantly surprised and LOVED how it came out!  The base recipe was good, but I added a few more veggies (mushrooms) and a little bit of my secret ingredient:  Sweet Chili Sauce just before serving. 


It turned the sweet and sour sauce from good to wow in an instant!  I found my sweet chili sauce version (Mae Ploy) in the ethnic foods isle and it was very inexpensive.




This recipe is great for a weekend feast, but easy enough for a weeknight dinner.  Enjoy!


Sweet and Sour Pork

Print this recipe!

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 T sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 green pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 1 package baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups hot cooked rice (white, brown or wild rice)


Cut pork slices into strips about 3 inches long and 1/2 to 1 inch wide. Sauté pork strips in hot oil over medium heat until lightly browned; drain. Drain pineapple; reserve juice. Combine pineapple juice, 3/4 cup water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and salt; pour over pork in skillet. Cover and simmer 1 hour, or until meat is tender.

While pork mixture is simmering, in a separate pan, sauté onions, green peppers and mushrooms until tender.  Set aside to add in later.

In a cup, combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water; stir until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to pork mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add pineapple chunks, and previously sautéed veggies. Cover and simmer sweet and sour pork for a couple of minutes longer, or until heated through.  Mix in the sweet chili sauce (more than the recommended amount can be added for a bit more kick if desired). Serve sweet and sour pork over rice.


sweet and sour porkdiploma


We ate our sweet and sour pork over wild rice and it was excellent!  It added a bit more flavor and whole grains without a lot more work.  Love that.



I had to include this picture.  I am LOVING my new kitchen curtains…they are so fun!


Have a great day!