Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back in the saddle again!

Good morning, all!

Things have been a bit crazy and my blogging took a back seat for a bit.  One of my other "lives" is that of a field hockey coach and I took on some wonderful work this summer coaching a group of NH seniors (who went on to beat VT in the Twin State), then a group of underclassmen who took the gold against the other New England states we faced, plus  league once a week and my high school team another night.  Starting next Monday, it's time for our regular season to begin... whoooo hoooo!

On top of that, our youngest has been home for the summer working in both her field hockey and softball world so it was LOTS of running around for that.  I got some lovely sun on the weekends, actually did a bit of "relaxing" once we got there each time and now I'm ready to get back at it.

I have some new recipes to share, some interesting guest posts coming up, and lots going on, so keep your eyes open for what's to come.

See you tomorrow! 


PS.  Speaking of relaxing.... have been doing some fishing, too!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

National Junk Food Day - DIY Cheez Its

While searching for a recipe for today I stumbled up this great video for making your own cheese crackers, AKA Cheez Its.  They are also perfect for the snack "remakes" we are playing around with for healthier foods in our current series!  If these are as good as they sound, the family will be thrilled as Cheez Its are hubby's favorites.

This looks like a great recipe and I can't wait to give it a try.  What do you think?  I like that the ingredients are limited, only 4 and there are WAY less things in them we can't pronounce! 

Hope my family enjoys them!
Happy cooking,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Veggie Progress!

Some of you might have seen the images from March of the seedlings we had going here.  Today's images are the updates, fresh from the garden just now!

Don't you love the tiny pickle?

Yah.... one of MANY summer squash...

Have fun in the kitchen,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Delicious Treats That Won't Tip the Scales - Day #1

We all want to indulge in tasty treats now and then; but if you're avoiding all those typical treats - chips, milkshakes, candy, cookies, cakes, and so forth - where do you turn? Are there still sweet and delicious foods that are healthy but still qualify as treats?

The answer lies, in part, in using substitutes. Fried and/or sugary foods may be off-limit, but you can substitute moderate amounts of healthy fats and oven-baking for the fried foods, and natural sugars and sweeteners instead of white sugar.

I thought I might share some recipes with you over the next few days for some tasty treats you might like to try.  Today's is one of our family favorites: oven-baked "fries." 

The crunchy saltiness of French fries and potato chips is almost irresistible, at least in my world. Instead of fried potatoes, why not try oven-baking them?

Oven Baked Fries


olive oil
salt, pepper, seasonings

  1. Cut washed potatoes into fry-sized strips or sticks.
  2. Toss them in a little oil, about 1 teaspoon per potato. 
  3. Stir in seasonings of your choice (such as salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, etc.)
  4. Bake at 425 for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

 These are so delicious!  The whole family loves them - give them a try!
Have fun in the kitchen,

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Menu #11

My middle sweetie and her other half are here for the week, so food choices change, especially because the reason she's home is so that she can coach field hockey with our youngest and I all week.  From 5-8 pm... 1 hour away from home. 

As I make the plan for the week, I need to keep that in mind as well as the fact we are leaving the "men folk" home every night.  Not that either isn't capable of pulling things together, but it's definitely complicated.

Here's what I am thinking MIGHT work:

Monday - Crockpot Pulled Pork (either bring along and eat on the way or eat when we finish).  I really like this recipe (very tasty rub mix), but I do mine in the crockpot, just for time and OMG it's a bazillion degrees right now! 

Tuesday - Left-over Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw

Wednesday - BLT Wrap's

Thursday - Grilled Chicken Tenders and Bacon Subs (similar to Subway)

Friday - Coach's Dinner Out....yup!  Can't wait!

Saturday - Lasagna (pulled from freezer)

Sunday - Grilled Cheese and Homemade Fries

What tasty ideas do you have for the week?
Have fun in the kitchen!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Raspberry Creme Brulee --> We can do this!!

I was looking for a WOW me, summer fruit recipe and this wonderful video from Laura Vitale jumped right off the screen at me!  (New subscriber to her Youtube channel and blog follower, just saying...)

Just the words "creme brulee" scare me.  Right out of my socks.  Seriously, no way I could do this, BUT guess what?  I think we can, folks, thanks to Laura.

Take a peek and see what you think.

Shall we give this a try?  I'm in!

Happy cooking,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dining Out: KC's Rib Shack, Manchester, NH

Hubby and I are continuing our exploration for YOU, my readers!  He will make the sacrifice, dutifully, in the name of research.  :o)  (**claps & cheers for his bravery!)

We made a stop at KC's Rib Shack 376 Second Street in Manchester, NH.  It was early on a Sunday evening but we saw quite a few cars in the parking lot, always a good sign. 


Once we got inside, it was all about the ambiance - from the lighting to the license plates on the ceiling and from the buckets of plastic silverware to the oodles of paper towels, this was a fun kind of place.
We had a table to the right of the silver metal in the back.

I'm thinking this was plenty of salt and pepper... lots of paper towels, too!

The menu was an adventure.  You can see it HERE.  Hubby went with the Chicken Wing Pladda (yes, you pronounce it that way...) with the Buffalo sauce.  It came with some coleslaw, chips and a piece of tasty cornbread with just a hint of jalapeno.  (I had a nibble...)  He said he would up it to the Jamaican Jerk, one of the spiciest ones, another time.  He enjoyed having all the wings to himself and said they were tasty.

I went with the Pulled Pork Sammie, the "real way" - which is loaded with coleslaw and dill pickle chips.   I decided on mashed potatoes for my side as I wasn't sure how spicy it would be.  Turns out, it wasn't spicy at all.  The waitress brought us a beer six-pack filled with KC BBQ sauces, but didn't explain them to us.  I put a bit of each on a plate and dipped my sandwich in each one, which I imagine is what you should do OR if you've been there and know the sauces, you'd pour one on and it would be much more flavorful.  It was very tender, so if I had known which I like and had slathered it on, it would have had more flavor.

The sauces were Hickory, Spicy, Carolina Red and Apple Slatha (try typing that into your iphone's notepad and NOT having it self-correct!).  There was also ketchup, but I'd rather not admit it was there - takes away from the overall sense of where we were...  My favorite by far, was the Apple Slatha - an apple cinnamon flavored sauce.  For levels of hotness, it went from Hickory to Spicy to the Carolina Red.  Yup, that was pretty fiery - I'm not into that... Bri?  Yes...

I had the homemade lemonade to drink, which was just what I was looking for.  I am a lemonade fan and if you tell me it's "homemade" I am all over it.  It didn't have any pulp, what one expects with homemade lemonade, but it tasted great.

I would recommend the Rib Shack if you are looking for some BBQ - but I would be hesitant to say "take the kids there" on a Friday or Saturday night.  A portion is a bar and I would imagine it gets pretty loud.  There was a family there sitting next to us when we were there with middle school and high school daughters.  Personally, it might not be the place I would take younger children, not like Famous Dave's .

On a scale of 1-5, I would give it a 3.  If you have a "hankerin'" it would fit the bill.

Happy eats!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chia Seeds - What Are They and Why Are They So Healthy?

For those who associate Chia seeds with funny Chia Pets, a discussion of the benefits of Chia seeds may seem a little odd. Chia seeds are actually healthy and nutritious.  I've been doing a bit of research before heading to Trader Joe's this week, and thought I'd share some of what I found out. 

What Are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds come from a type of sage, Salvia hispanica, which grows in South America and Mexico. They come in a white or black variety, and there is said to be no nutritional difference between the colors. Chia seeds were a staple food among the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, and it is said that the men would eat Chia seeds before going on a hunt in order to increase endurance. Natives are also reported to have used Chia seeds to stave off hunger on long journeys. I guess you could say "good things come in small packages"!

What Makes Chia So Healthy?
Probably the most familiar health benefit of Chia seeds is their healthy fat content. They contain Omega-3 fatty acids (some sources claim they also contain Omega-6 fatty acids), the health benefits of which are numerous. Omega-3s have been implicated in promoting cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation, regulating hormones, and improving mood, and many of us could use a bit of mood improvement, right?

Here are some of Chia's other reported healthful qualities:
  1. Blood sugar regulation - If you put Chia seeds in water and stir them, in about 25 minutes they will form a gel-like substance that can become quite thick. Research in this area has implicated that a similar gel forms in your stomach when you eat Chia seeds and drink liquid (or mix the seeds with liquid and ingest them that way). This gel may slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars, helping to stabilize blood sugar. The image might be a bit, well, icky, but it makes sense!  Sounds like a great science experiment. 

  2. Intestinal health - The smooth, gelatinous quality of Chia seeds and their fiber content are implicated in intestinal health. The gel-like consistency and fiber content may act as a sort of toxin-absorbing mass that moves through the intestinal tract with minimal irritation.

  3. Endurance and energy - As noted above, ancient peoples used Chia seeds to promote endurance and energy. The word "Chia" is said to be derived from the Mayan word for strength. Chia's reputation for generating energy and endurance may be due to its nutrients, its slowing of the digestion of sugars, or its gel-like qualities.

  4. Weight loss - Due to the gel it forms and its high fiber, Chia may slow the rate of digestion, helping you feel fuller longer. Also, its blood sugar stabilizing effects and energy-boosting properties may contribute to weight loss. 

  5. Nutrients - In addition to fiber, Chia seeds contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc.

I've mentioned I enjoy like LOVE Trader Joe's.  I found a wonderful breakfast recipe on their website, as well, for a Power Bowl, using lots of delicious ingredients including Chia seeds.

While cruising the aisles there, I also ran across this delicious Strawberry Chia Smoothy.  It is made from a strawberry puree, apple juice and Chia seeds.  Would be pretty easy to whip up, don't you think?
Have you tried Chia seeds in your diet?  What do you think?

Have fun in the kitchen,

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Monday Menu #10 (a few days late)

Hope everyone had a lovely 4th of July weekend!  It was just fantastic here.  Lots of fun with the family - life is good!

Things have been a bit crazy here (no big surprise) and I didn't get near the computer to post our meal plan for the week on time - so I figured "better late than never" was a good motto for this.  Here's my "plan" for the week.  We'll see how it goes!

Monday - Breakfast for dinner (omelets, hash browns & cinnamon buns cooked in the waffle iron!)
We have made these a few times - the "Grands" are pretty GRAND - we like the smaller ones, ourselves.)

Tuesday - Grilled hot dogs & potato salad (quick and easy!)

Wednesday - Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

Thursday - Leftover Teriyaki Chicken Quesadillas
  • Just butter the tortilla shell, lay it in a skillet and spread shredded chicken on it.  Add onions, and/or salsa and shredded cheese.  Lay a second tortilla on top and flip after several minutes.  Remove when browned, cut in pieces and serve.

Friday - Pizza

Saturday -Super Salad Night - whipping up a variety of salads for a summer supper: Tossed Salad, Macaroni Salad, Broccoli Slaw and anything else that strikes my fancy!

Sunday -  Chinese Take Out (treating my daughter and her boyfriend while they are home for a week)

What's on the menu at your house this week?
Have fun in the kitchen,

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

National Sugar Cookie Day

In honor of National Sugar Cookie Day, I went about looking for a fun recipe to share.

Here's one that I found done by Betty of Betty's Kitchen.  I can't wait to try this!!

Do you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe?  I'd love to hear!

Have fun in the kitchen,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Loaded Broccoli Slaw

While whipping up a few different salads for our 4th of July family BBQ, I decided to use up some broccoli I had in the frig and combined a few different recipes to get to where I ended up.

Broccoli Slaw is usually broccoli, onions, bacon, raisins, nuts and a sweet sauce.  We had all that PLUS some other ingredients I tossed in!

Take a peek - leave out what you don't care for, use the ideas that work for you and tweak it to be your own!

Loaded Broccoli Slaw


2 cups broccoli in bite size pieces
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup nuts (I used almonds and walnuts - almonds were sliced and walnuts were finely chopped)
2 oz cheddar cheese, cut in small pieces
1/8 cup bacon bits (I would have preferred real bacon, but none in stock)
1/2 package Ramen noodles, uncooked and broken into small pieces
1/2 cup salad dressing, mayo OR Greek yogurt
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/8 cup sugar OR maple syrup (I didn't try that this time, but bet its GREAT!)
1/4 tsp pepper

  1. Chop broccoli, onion, apple and nuts.
  2. Cut up cheese and break up Ramen noodles
  3. Mix broccoli, onion, apple, raisins, nuts, cheese, bacon bits and Ramen together in a bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together salad dressing, red wine vinegar, sweetener and pepper.
  5. Once it's mixed, pour it over the salad and combine.
  6. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to help tastes blend.


  • Some people like the Ramen crunchier, so, hold off on adding that till your ready to serve the salad.
  • I used a full package of Ramen - it really only needed 1/2 package.  If you make a larger amount, a full package might work, otherwise, don't!
  • I would like to try it with maple syrup for the sweetener (we don't use it in EVERYTHING!!!) and perhaps cider for the sour/tart flavor.  I think it would be a perfect fall salad that way.

Do you make Broccoli Slaw?  What do you add in?

Have fun in the kitchen!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Strawberry Pretzel Crust Pie

We had a few extra strawberries yesterday so I decided to whip up a dessert with them.  I hopped over to Pinterest and went in search of something I could make with ingredients on hand and came up with a tasty looking pie over at Yammie's Noshery.  As often is the case, I didn't have everything her recipe for Strawberry Tart called for ... sigh... but that meant I could do a bit of tweaking and see what the result was!

As you might recall, we are into maple syrup here (Dodge Hill Family Farms) so I replaced the sugar in her recipe with maple syrup, based on the substitution ration you can find here at Maple Syrup World.  I also didn't use jello mix in my strawberry layer, I used about 1/2 cup of jello!  We had JUST used up the last of what we had.

Strawberry Pretzel Crust Pie

2 cups finely crushed pretzels
1 1/2 cups melted margarine
1/2 cup sugar

8 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups whipped topping

Strawberry Layer:
3/8 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup jello (Made up!  Most other recipes use a portion of a package of jello mix - I had NONE!)
1 pint strawberries

  1. Crush the pretzels.  I like to use a food processor as the family likes it as "smooth" as possible.
  2. Mix crushed pretzels, margarine and sugar together, stirring until all ingredients are well mixed.
  3. Empty the bowl into a pie pan and squish mixture out evenly.
  4. Bake in 350 oven for just 10 minutes.
  5. Set aside to cool.
  6. Soften the cream cheese and mix in sugar and vanilla.  I DIDN'T use maple syrup here as I thought it might change the consistency of this layer.  Once they are well mixed, fold in the whipped topping and set in the refrigerator to wait.
  7. Add maple syrup and water to a small pot.  Stir.  Once it's boiling, add the cornstarch and the jello.  Continue whisking for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.  
  8. Cut the strawberries and set aside.
  9. Once the crust is cooled, add the cream cheese layer.  
  10. Cover the filling with strawberries and pour the glaze over the top.
  11. Put in the refrigerator till it's time to eat!

  • Using the jello already mixed up was fine - it was yummy.
  • I think I will try a graham cracker crust next time - the consistency of the pretzel crust didn't work for me, BUT that being said, my daughter-in-law liked the saltiness they provided, vs the rest of the pie.

Hope you have fun in the kitchen this weekend!!
Let me know what you are up to,

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What's in YOUR Potato Salad?

With some potato salad in production for today, I thought I'd ask what YOU put in yours?  Prior to spreading our family's culinary "wings" my potato salad was the epitome of boring: potatoes and Miracle Whip (salad dressing)... period...

We've started branching out and I came up with this version we all rather liked that I thought I'd share with you, after which I'd LOVE to hear about what you do!

My quantities vary, based on the size of the crowd.  It was a challenge to write the recipe because I adjust amounts around the potatoes!  Full bag, half bag, half dozen or four potatoes?  Each require an eye to the amounts of other ingredients.  That being said, feel free to tweak what I've listed in this particular recipe to your tastes.

One of the ingredients that REALLY jazzes this recipe up is the Trader Joe's Thai Yellow Curry Sauce.  I discovered this after chatting with a friend about what his wife put in the chicken at our wrestling banquet.  He told me he wasn't sure what it was, but that she got it at Trader Joe's and that it came ready to mix in.  I bought a bottle and have used it several times in a few different meals - it's GREAT in this!  Be careful though, if you use it.  We all agreed that a bit of background flavor was better than going for Thai-flavored potato salad, we can only take so much change at once!!

Jazzed Up Potato Salad

5 lbs potatoes
1 rib of celery, chopped
1/2 - 1 cup onion, chopped (we go light OR use green onion - it's an "onion thing" around here...)
1/2 - 1 cup chopped sweet peppers
1- 2 cups salad dressing or mayo
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/8 - 1/4 cup Trader Joe's Thai Yellow Curry Sauce (base this one on a taste test)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Peel, cut to the size pieces you want and boil the potatoes.  Then, let cool.
  2. Chop celery, peppers and onions.  Set aside.
  3. Mix salad dressing, Greek yogurt,Thai Curry Sauce, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Look at the amount.  Look at your potatoes.  Will it give good coverage?  No?  Add more of the salad dressing and yogurt.  Taste.  
  4. Once the potatoes are cooled, place them in a big bowl.  Pour the dressing over the mixture.  Add the onions, peppers and celery and stir gently.  
  5. Put in the refrigerator to let flavors meld and serve cold.

So, here's what I'm curious about: what goes into YOUR potato salad?  Do tell!

Have fun in the kitchen today and enjoy the 4th, all my friend in the US!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dining Out: Famous Dave's BBQ, Scarborough, ME

On a trip back from a wresting meet in Maine my daughter and I made a bee-line for the Famous Dave's in Scarborough, Maine to treat dad to a great BBQ'd dinner.  She and I had eaten at the one in Manchester, NH before it closed, but he hadn't had a chance to try it.

Famous Dave's is a national chain, so it's one of those that the BBQ in Maine tastes like the BBQ in Arkansas.  There's something to be said for that, when you are trying to tell dad this is a great place for dinner.

Like many similar chains, it's a fun place to go.  Whomever puts together their interior details must have a GREAT time doing it! 

We went with the Feast for 2, which feeds 2-3... so for late lunch, early dinner for us, it was perfect.

The feast included: St. Louis-Style Spareribs, Country-Roasted Chicken, Texas Beef Brisket or Georgia Chopped Pork, Creamy Coleslaw, Famous Fries, Wilbur Beans, Fresh Sweet Corn (farm fresh when available) and Corn Bread Muffins.  We exchanged the beans for garlic red mashed potatoes.

It comes to the table in a giant serving dish with barely room for plates - it's GREAT!  There was more than enough for all three of us and something that everyone liked.  It's a great way to sample what they have.

When DD and I went to the Manchester restaurant, they did this marvelous thing to sample all the sauces.  You got a basket of homemade chips and then they went over what each flavor was, putting it on the plate for you to try.  That way, you'd know which one you'd like to dip your meat into... but we just kept dipping the chips!

If you are into BBQ and are looking for a chain restaurant to try, I would highly recommend giving Famous Dave's a shot.  You can check their locations HERE.

On a scale of 1-5, this is a 4 in our book.

Happy eating,
PS.  Let me mention one LITTLE THING... Cabela's in Scarborough is LITERALLY next door... Literally... fill up on BBQ, head next door and buy...well... whatever one buys in Cabela's!!  :o)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Red, White & Blue Sundae --> Just in time for the holiday!

When I was thinking about all the fresh fruits available to us right now and what sort of dessert I could make for the 4th this week, I thought THIS recipe was perfect: Red, White & Blue Sundaes!

You'll need some vanilla ice cream, blueberries and strawberries - how perfect right now!

Let's get scooping!
Have a great day,

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Menu #9

Week #9 is here!  Hubby and I were away for the weekend, so we're going to shift the actual menus now (perfect timing) to start on Monday.  Kind of silly how I was doing it before... but all done!

Let's see what we can come up with, shall we?

Monday - High School Softball Banquet - I don't have to cook!  :)

Tuesday - Cheesy Ham Pasta Bake (recipe tomorrow)

Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner with this amazing cinnamon cake!

Thursday - BBQ for July 4th with burgers, dogs, salads and such!  What's for your July 4th meal?

Friday - Baja Chicken and Slaw Sliders

Saturday - Steak Quesadilla

Sunday -Chicken Salad Sandwiches & Potato Salad

Had a few places to be on and off this week, as well, so more portable meals necessary.  Hope all are well!
Have fun in the kitchen - pretty excited to be back there myself!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Homemade Donuts

Today I would like to share a recipe handed down by my grandmother and mother-in-law (between the two, I think I got it right) that I make with my daughters.  We also use the recipe for donut making at the Monadnock Center for History & Culture (where I work) for Harvesting History Day each year.  You can smell them from the street!

It's for homemade donuts.

Incredibly yummy, fresh from the shortening, honest to goodness donuts.

Yes, you too can do this!  Please DO!

Here's how...

Fried Donuts

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp melted shortening
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • shortening to fry donuts in
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat shortening to 370 degrees.
  2. Beat the eggs. Then slowly add the sugar.
  3. Once mixed, stir in milk and melted shortening.
  4. Sift flour before measuring and resift with baking powder, spices and salt.
  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Flour your cutting board and roll out the dough to about 1/4" (thicker the dough, thicker the donuts!).
  7. Cut out the donuts. (I have a vintage donut cutter from my memere. It cuts the donut and hole at the same time. I have also done it with a glass and an apple corer. You can ALSO shape them by hand.)
  8. Once the shortening is up to 370, drop donuts in one at a time. I do 3-4 at once. ** BE CAREFUL of the hot fat...yup...even after all these years I tend to get burned... I drop mine in by hand and turn them with a long handled wooden spoon. I use that to remove them, as well.
  9. When you remove them, place them on a paper bag to absorb excess shortening.
  10. Once they cool a wee bit, you can drop them in a bag of sugar, shake and EAT!!! Or, like my hubby, eat them right off the plate! 

What do you think, guys?  Willing to give it a try?  Let me know how they come out! BTW... just for the record, there is NOTHING low fat/low cal about these - just WICKED GOOD!
Happy cooking!