Friday, October 7, 2016

Pluot Crostada (Galette) and Getting Our Fall On

As you know by now I love, love, love the fall.  We had fog this morning and icy, crunchy grass in the yard.  I read that it is already snowing in the mountains, which means it won't be long until it's down on us.

Until then, we are taking advantage of the autumn days and nights.  Most enjoyably, having fun with doing the "color change out" from spring to fall, as you may have read in my curtain debacle, that I posted earlier about.

Loving my new "clearance" autumn dining room curtains!

Front porch area all ready to go!

Another favorite of fall is Pluot season!!  These little fruits are so awesome and versatile, I have the best time experimenting with them.  This dessert is over-the-top delicious and easy!  Literally melts in your, so good...I can't say enough about it.  I also can't wait to try more takes on them this weekend...stay tuned!

Pluot Crostada

Premade pie crust (1) sheet
4 medium size Pluots, sliced
3 Tbl flour
3 Tbl sugar
pinch of salt
juice of 1 lime
raw sugar for sprinkling
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and roll out pie crust on paper.

In a bowl, mix together the sliced pluots, flour, sugar, salt and lime juice.  Pile onto the center of the pie crust.

Fold the edges of the crust over the edge of the pile of fruit.  Whisk the egg yolk with 1-2 Tablespoons of water to make an egg wash and brush the folded edges of the crust.  Sprinkle the whole crostada with the raw sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until crust is flaky and golden brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

One Year Ago: BLT Macaroni Salad
Two Years Ago: Slow Cooker Sauerbraten
Three Years Ago: Greek Salsa Chicken

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Slower Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup and Losing My Mind

Do you ever have those moments when you feel like you are truly losing your mind?  I've been having those all too often lately.,.to the point where some days I don't know which direction I am going.

About eight months ago I purchased some curtains for our dining room.  The wall had been plain since we moved in and it was really starting to get to me.  I'm one of those that must have color and textures around them.  I don't do well with sparse and minimalism.  I found the perfect pair at an unbelievable sale price, which was an extra added bonus.  The colors were spot on to the color of our dining room chairs and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Since we had a few months before spring and I still had my "winter table decor" out, I tucked them away until it was time to do the color change out...yeah I know...don't judge.

At any rate, I "tucked them away" so well when springtime came I could not find them.  I found all the other dining items for spring that I packed away for winter...accent pillows for chairs, table runner, candle holders, placemats, etc...for the life of me, I could not find those curtains!  

I looked everywhere!  Cabinets, buffet, secretary armoire, extra empty dresser drawers, cardboard boxes in the basement...everywhere!!  Did I accidentally throw them away in their shopping bag?  Did I accidentally put them in the Goodwill donation box?  I really felt sorry for my family...every week I was interrogating them..."Are you sure you haven't seen my new curtains anywhere?"!!!

September finally came and I gave up looking for my curtains.  Soon I would be doing the color change out anyway.  I stumbled on a new pair of curtains while I was out one Saturday.  They were on clearance and the perfect autumn colors to match my fall table decor.

I said goodbye to my spring collection, packed everything up and brought out the fall dining room items.  Just then my husband came in and said "Are these the curtains you've been looking for?" holding my eight month old curtains!!!!!!  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  "Where did you find them?", I screeched.  Apparently I hung them in the coat closet so they wouldn't get wrinkled (it's all starting to come back to me now).  He found them while grabbing a jacket for the fall morning...ugh!!

The good news is this soup doesn't take much brain power or memory!  You throw most of the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it do it's magic during the day (just remember to turn your slower cooker on in the morning before you leave)...just saying!

You will come home to the most wonderful aroma that is inviting and comforting to eat.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup
Courtesy of

1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cups cheese tortellini
chopped fresh parsley for serving, if desired
salt and pepper to taste

Add all of the ingredients to a slower cooker (except for the tortellini).

Cook on low for 6 hours

Remove the cooked chicken from the slow cooker and shred or cube, and add back to the slow cooker.

Add in the tortellini and cook for 15 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Discard bay leaves and serve immediately with chopped parsley, if desired.

One Year Ago: BLT Macaroni Salad
Two Years Ago: Ice Cream Cake Treat
Three Years Ago: Apple Of My Eye Dumplings

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Apple, Bacon and Blue Cheese Fall Flatbread

Fall is upon us here and is by far my favorite time of year.  The Aspen trees are gloriously golden and the forests are a rainbow of colors now before their leaves depart soon.

The mornings and nights are getting more and more chilly and makes us want to curl up in our warm sweaters and throw blankets.

This flatbread (or pizza) encompasses all the flavors and warmth of the fall evenings.  It has elevated flavors and each bite takes on a new layer of "yummyness" (not an actual word, but when you eat this, you will know exactly what I am trying to describe!!)

Apple, Bacon and Blue Cheese Fall Flatbread

1 Stonefire Artisan Thin Pizza Crust (or your favorite flatbread or naan)
1 to 2 Tbl olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Tbl butter
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
8 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 small sweet-tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 to 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 to 2 Tbl honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat skillet over medium-low heat.  Add sliced onions and butter.  Cook onions, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes until soft and caramelized.

Place pizza crust or flatbread on a large parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the crust and spread.  Sprinkle pizza with mozzarella cheese and blue cheese.  Top with sliced apple, chopped bacon, caramelized onions and chopped rosemary.  Lightly drizzle honey all over pizza.

Bake pizza 10-12 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is golden brown.  Cool pizza 5 minutes before serving.

One Year Ago: BLT Macaroni Salad
Two Years Ago: Ice Cream Cake Treat
Three Years Ago: Weeknight Ravioli Bake

My go-to secret ingredient!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mexican Pizzas and Making Team Bags

We survived our league tournament a couple weeks ago (and victoriously, I may add)!  Before the tournament began, I made team welcome bags for all the high schools attending, as our school was hosting the tournament.

Tournaments are all day and can get a little tiresome and boring for the teens as there is fluctuating downtime in between their games.  Our gift bags included a deck of cards, crayons, puzzles (to build team bonding) as well as the essential chap stick, gum and Kleenex tissues.

Each team had their own customized gift bags complete with their school logo, 
and colors in the tissue paper and balloons included with each bag.

The final product looked really great with all the different colors going down the hall. 

As we also hosted this week's team dinner at our house, I made my infamous Taco Bar for the girls. We had grilled chicken, steak, flour and corn tortillas, lime rice, chips, salsa, guacamole, black beans, refried beans and all the fixings to go along.  Unfortunately the locusts (aka teenage girl athletes) inhaled my beautiful buffet before I could get a photo of it.  

We did end up with some leftovers, which I pulled together to make Mexican Pizzas for our "Bleacher Picnic", we had this week while watching one of their weeknight games.  Dinners during this time of year are challenging and need to be creative and quick for our hectic on the go schedules.

Mexican Pizzas 
Makes 4 Pizzas

8 flour tortillas
2 cups prepared and warmed refried beans
2 cups prepared, heated taco meat
2 cups Taco Blend shredded cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 stalks green onions, chopped
sour cream, for garnish

Prepare a small amount of oil in skillet at medium high heat.  Cook flour tortillas for 30-45 seconds or until just golden brown on each side.  Drain on paper towels.

Top on first tortilla, a thin layer of refried beans, then top beans with taco meat.

Put other tortilla on top of taco meat.  Add salsa on top of the tortilla.  Top with Taco blend cheese.

Put a few diced tomatoes and green onions on top of cheese.

Put finished Mexican pizzas on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

Cut into fourths and serve with sour cream on top.

Traveling Mexican Pizzas and Chips'n Salsa ready to go for our Bleacher Picnic.

I love that even 17 year olds still like to color with crayons and play with cards.
Of course, my teenagers were teaching the rest of their team how to play Blackjack...what can I say?! 
 In their defense, it does help with math skills, I've always said.

VICTORY!  Tournament win...a first in their school's history!!

One Year Ago: Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Three Years Ago: Nutella Cookies

Thursday, September 8, 2016

One Pot Cajun Shrimp Pasta and Project Overload

When we found out we were expecting twins, we decided we didn't want to know the sex of didn't matter to us, we just prayed for healthy babies.  We did a neutral room in the Baby Bugs Bunny theme.  Super cute little characters in soft pastel colors.

It seems so fitting now, because my brain has turned into the (Looney Tunes character) Tasmanian Devil these past few weeks.  You know the cartoon, where he blazes around in a tornado at warp speed...yes, that is me and my brain right here and right now for the next three months.

We have a lot going on in our house and high school at the moment.  Last weekend I took my girls' Senior portraits, which had my emotions all over the board.  I was really touched and honored though that they wanted me to take them...a memory that will last a lifetime.

This week is Homecoming and District Varsity Volleyball tournament that our school is hosting.  Half of our ping pong table has turned into a custom spirit wear art area.  We are doing a Homecoming Tailgate BBQ event that I am helping with and then the next day is the tournament that I am co-coordinating on.  I am in charge of making welcome baskets for each of the visiting teams, complete with their school logos, coordinating balloons, ribbons and goodies for their baskets.

The other half of our ping pong table has also turned into a photo shop selection space.  Each year the school yearbook does Senior baby dedication pages, as well as Varsity volleyball does a dedicated Senior night complete with custom posters for each player.  I now have the task of going through seventeen years of photos and selecting our favorite five for each girl...not an easy task I can assure you.

After this weekend is complete, then we are on to our big fundraising event "Dancing With The Stars" and the year end Volleyball Banquet which I am coordinating.  In between all of this is lots of exciting high school volleyball matches that we are enjoying and taking in every moment of their final season, hosting team dinners and serving as the team parent for their Leadership Academy this year.

If your school year has started off like mine and you need a quick, delicious and so very easy dinner, this one is for you!  I could not get enough of this dish...I think I may have even gone for thirds (right out of the pot, while cleaning up the kitchen)!!!

One Pot Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Adapted from

1 pound linguine
3 Tbl butter (divided as 2 and 1)
2-1/2 Tbl cajun seasoning (divided as 1-1/2 and 1)
1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp with tails removed
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced pepper (green, yellow, orange or red)
1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced
2 cloves garlic, mined
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cook the linguine in boiling water until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the butter, then add 1-1/2 tablespoon cajun seasoning and mix the spice with the butter.  Add in shrimp.  Cook until the shrimp turn pink.  Take the shrimp out and set aside.

Keeping the heat on, add in butter until it's melted, then add the diced yellow onion and pepper.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.  Add in andouille sausage and cook for another minute, then add minced garlic, salt, cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes and dried thyme.  When everything is cooked and mixed well, pour in chicken stock and heavy cream.  Mix well and cook for about 3 minutes.

When the sauce is thickening, add the shrimp and pasta back into the pot.  Mix until everything is well combined.

Three Years Ago: Hot Chili Mama Salsa

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Grilled Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Salad...Surviving Roadtrips

The girls and I recently did a few long distance road trips to start checking out college campuses and get an idea what some of their choices, likes, dislikes are out there.

Hard as I try, whenever we do a road trip I pack water, fruit, almonds, granola bars and any other easy, quick, healthy, energy snack I can get my hands on.  These healthy choices last about 37 miles and then my passengers (okay, me too) are completely board with them.

Fun fact about road trips though, you get to experience different stops and restaurants that you normally don't see in your hometown.  Exhibit A:"Steak'n Shake"!  I discovered this somewhere over the Colorado border, driving through Kansas.  Big mistake!!  Look at these cute little, road trip driving friendly sliders!!

After three days of surviving on gas station displays of "Krispy Kreme" donuts (don't judge...they're amazing), Mountain Dew to stay awake while driving, hotel buffet biscuits and gravy and what I think were scrambled eggs, Ding Dongs (also an amazing childhood favorite...yours too, don't try and deny it) and Peanut M&M's here and there, my gut felt like it was going to explode...and don't get me started on the Chili-Cheese Fritos.  I don't know what's worse, how I felt after inhaling them, or the rancid, lingering aroma in my car after the bag was opened..I think you get the picture.

Upon our return home, I needed a clean, fresh and home cooked salad (and car detailing)...this one did the trick perfectly!

Grilled Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Salad
Inspired by The South Beach Diet

1-1/2 Tbl olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 to 1-1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails off
4 scallions, each cut into 2" small pieces

2 Tbl. fresh lime juice
2 Tbl. olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 cups Romaine lettuce
1 medium avocado, diced
4 to 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cooked corn kernels (preferably grilled and cut from cob)
1 medium (red, orange or yellow) pepper, diced
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add shrimp and scallions and toss to coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, oil, black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt;  let stand at room temperature while shrimp is marinating.  In a large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, avocado, bacon, corn kernels and bell pepper.

Generously coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high.  Alternately thread shrimp and scallions onto 4 skewers.  Lightly sprinkle shrimp and scallions with salt and grill, turning once and basting with any remaining marinade, until shrimp just turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Remove shrimp and scallions from skewers and add to salad mixture.  Add dressing and toss gently.  Arrange salad on 4 plates, top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

One Year Ago: Surf and Turf Crostinis
Two Years Ago: Smoked BBQ Chicken Nachos
Three Years Ago: Flatbread Friday

Of course, every road trip survivor deserves a little refreshment...
Bread and Butter Pinot Noir is our new favorite discovery.
It paired perfectly with our dinner salad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Seniors, Shrimp Skewers with Pesto and Cheddar Polenta

The day has arrived...the "Last, First Day of School".  My girls are Seniors and this day has been coming for a very, very long time.  Although it doesn't seem that long...feels like they were just taking their "First, First Day of School" photos.

My heart is overwhelmed with emotions and it's going to be one of those long Kleenex kinds of year. Well, my little birds will be ready to fly soon and we just continue to pray for them and be thankful for all the Blessings we have been given with them.

This dinner has absolutely nothing to do with anything other than it is a great comfort meal for me in my time of need.

Shrimp Skewers with Pesto and Cheddar Polenta
Adapted from Cuisine at Home Grilling

For The Shrimp;
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. paprika
minced zest of 1 lime
salt to taste
16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails off
(1) 4 ounce container, prepared pesto sauce

For The Cheddar Polenta;
3 cups water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
salt to taste

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Combine 1/4 cup oil, garlic, pepper flakes, paprika, lime zest, and salt for the shrimp in a bowl.  Add shrimp and toss to coat; marinate for at least 5 minutes.

Thread 4 shrimp onto each of the 4 skewers through both the tail and the head to hold in place.  Reserve marinade for basting.

Arrange skewers on the grill with the handles extending over the edge.  Grill covered for 1-1/2 minutes per side, brushing shrimp with marinade as they cook.  Serve skewers with warmed, prepared pesto.

For the Polenta, bring water and milk to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Gradually whisk in cornmeal.  Cook cornmeal according to package directions, or until thick, stirring often.  

Add Cheddar, stirring until melted.  Season polenta with salt.

One Year Ago: Naughty Cookie Bars
Three Years Ago: Flatiron Steak Salad