Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday's Fish Fry for Blake's Birthday

Happy Birthday to my brother Blake.  I am so happy to know that I am not the only one that is "40-something" in our family now. (Although I won't be able to say that much longer, as I will be pushing to higher digits soon - yikes!)

Of all his attributes, Blake has two very outstanding qualities, great guitar player and great cook.  When he was in Jr. High, he was an aspiring future Eddie Van Halen.  He even convinced my mom to let him perm his hair, so he could have those long wavy locks and feathered bangs of the "big hair bands" like Van Halen.  I must say between his endless guitar practicing (in our basement music studio that he built with his buddies) and the hair, he was a very close second to the all wonderful "Eddie".  How many sisters get to have Happy Birthday To You played on an electric guitar, for your special day.

Blake is also quite the awesome cook.  He makes these unbelievable Halibut Cheeks.  Growing up in Alaska, you have access to some of the best, freshest halibut in the world, right in your own backyard.  Blake does these phenomenal beer battered halibut nuggets that are out of this world.  Hard as I try, I still have not been able to duplicate them.

That being said, we did our best with making Fish 'n Chips for Fish Friday with homemade tartar sauce and steak fries.  Really messy...really delish!!  The leftovers made perfect fish tacos for Saturday's lunch as well.

Happy Birthday Blake - hope you have wonderful and memorable day!!

Beer Battered Fish and Chips
Courtesy of Paula Dean

1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 1/2 pounds cod fillets, skinned with bones removed, and fish cut diagonally into 1-inch-wide strips (5 to 6-inches long)

In a Dutch oven, heat oil to 375 degrees F.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F,

In a large bowl, pour in 1 bottle of beer. Sift 1 1/2 cups flour into the bowl, whisking in gently until just combined, stir in House Seasoning. Pat fish dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper and coat the fish in the beer batter. Dredge the pieces of fish in 1/2 cup of remaining flour and slide into oil as coated. Fry fish, turning over frequently, until deep golden and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Fry remaining fish in batches, returning oil to 375 degrees F between batches.
Serve fish with French fries.

House Seasoning: 1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Peas Bonne Femme from JoAnne and Dick

Today was a very special day for Joanne and Dick, my husband's sister and her husband.  Today after many years of a beautiful, wonderful and strong marriage, they had their marriage blessed in the Church.  Such a very spiritual day especially since it is also the 1st anniversary of my husband's father's passing last year.

Still love birds after all these years.
In celebration of Dick and JoAnne's special day, we made Dick's very special Peas Bonne Femme from the family cookbook.  The first time we had these many, many years ago my then future husband and I thought it was such a strange way to make peas and had never seen anything like it.

I am here to tell you that anyone who claims to not like peas, after they have had these, they are a lifelong fan of them.  After all these years, this dish has definitely turned into one of our "go to" side dishes.

Peas Bonne Femme
Celebrating JoAnne and Dick

3 to 4 green onions
1 bag (regular size )frozen peas
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt
2 to 3 red leaf lettuce leaves

Saute the green onions in a skillet with a tablespoon of butter.  Once they have softened, empty the frozen peas into the skillet with the onions.

Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the peas.  Place the lettuce leaves on top of the mixture.

Cover with a lid and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until cooked through.  Discard lettuce and serve.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spaghetti Squash and Ya Ya's Farm

Today I was lucky enough to visit one of my favorite places in Longmont...Ya Ya's Farm (a.k.a.), the Hops & Heifers farm owned by Oskar Blues.  The company I work with remodeled their awesome farmhouse retreat last year and today I photographed it for our marketing website.

I love going to the farm and just sit for a moment in peace.  It is breathtakingly beautiful, quiet, tranquil and the sun always shines there.  Their goats are actually used for their amazing "Fried Green Tomatoes and Goat Cheese" appetizer on the menu at Oskar Blues delicious!!! I could eat plates and plates of this stuff.

My buddy always smiles at me when I come to visit.
Trouble is about to happen.
I wonder what Angus and Theo would think
if I brought this little guy home.

In the spirit of being on the farm we made our baked spaghetti squash and marinara sauce.  So fresh and hearty for photographing or working the farm.

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce

2 whole spaghetti squash
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups prepared (jarred) marinara sauce
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Split the squashes in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile heat the marinara sauce in a large sauce pan.

When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon or fork scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin. Toss the spaghetti squash in a large bowl with a little butter and garlic salt.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Serve with the marinara sauce either drizzled on top of the spaghetti squash or on the side with your favorite cheese bread.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Honey Ham Biscuit Sliders - Wife Of The Year

This morning I won the "Wife of the Year" Award.  Well, actually it was self-awarded, but I'm sure many would agree with me.

Today was the first golf tournament of the season - yeah !!!!  I get my mornings back to myself again...pajamas, coffee time, food episodes, reading magazines, blogging, manicure, pedicure...ah, the life of a golf widow.

However, the weather was 30 degrees with a chance of rain and snow.  Tournament still on, husband bundled up and ready to go.  Tee time set for 9:20 am.  However he realizes that he never had a chance to buy his "winter" golf gloves before the tournament.  Slight issue...sports stores don't open until 9:00 am., and there is no way he will have time to drive out, purchase gloves and make his tee time, in time.

"Honey, will you please run out and buy the winter gloves for me and hand warmers and drop them off a the clubhouse before my starting time?"  This was all asked as I was in my pajamas, just put the recliner in "lounge position" and topped my coffee off with my own warmer.  I'm not going to say what went though my mind at that point (because he also reads this blog...)

The only saving grace he had was that I also needed to do the weekly dinner menu grocery shopping and needed to get out eventually...just wasn't planning on that early.

Needless to say, he made it through 13 holes,
and then this happened.
For those chilly tournament mornings, these are the best little breakfast sandwiches.

Honey Ham Biscuit Sliders
Courtesy of

1 can Grands Jr Butter Tasting Biscuits (10 count)
1/2 lb deli ham, shaved
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup honey mustard dressing
1 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 400.

Lightly spray a 9-inch pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Separate each biscuits into two layers.  Spread each layer with honey mustard and top with swiss cheese.  Place half of the biscuits, cheese side up, in the bottom of prepared pan.  Top with ham.  Top ham with remaining biscuits, cheese side down.  Brush biscuit tops with melted butter.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Heat honey in microwave for 20 seconds.  Brush biscuit tops with warm honey.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Taco Tuesdays - Tri-Tip Version

Mornings in our house are extremely busy, even more hectic than our evenings, I think.  We have four people trying to squeeze in showers in the allotted amount of time, I of course need my 15 minutes of coffee/wake-up in my chair time, lunches to prepare and I try to get a couple loads of laundry done, so it is not overwhelming on the weekends with trying to fold 37 loads.

Well today was no different and just as crazy.  As I was in the kitchen tidying up (because my OCD kicks in and I hate coming home to a messy kitchen) and cleaning the counters off, I hear one daughter yell from her room, "Mom, will you please make me a cappuccino to go ?" Not two seconds go by and the other one yells, "And could you please toast me a bagel with butter?"

I looked at my husband in dismay and said, "Does this look like Starbucks drive-thru to you?" Since when did I become their personal Barrista???

The Princesses' personal cappuccino machine.
Since my Barrista mornings are so busy, I try to plan the dinner menus a week ahead of time and use my crock pot as much as possible.

This taco meat is so easy, juicy and flavorful!!!  Best's all ready to go when you walk in the door from a long day at work.

Prep before leaving for the day.

Awesome dinner when you arrive home.
Ultimate Tri-Tip Tacos

2-3 lbs. Tri-Tip steak
1 or 2  jars favorite salsa (depending on your size of steak)

Put tri-tip in crock pot.  Empty both jars of salsa over meat.  Cover crock pot with lid.  Set to low setting and let cook 8-10 hours.

When ready to eat, shred the beef with two forks (like you are making shredded pulled pork), in crock pot.
Serve on flour or corn tortillas with your favorite accompaniments.

**Also really delicious if you want to do a taco salad with or without a flour tortilla bowl.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Green Eggs and Ham - "Angus The Ham"

We take the boys to their spa for a shampoo, rinse and blow dry every 2 weeks at our favorite self-serve dog spa, Paws 2 Groom.

They have the best set up there for a DIY dog treatment area.  All the shampoo, combing/brushing accessories and dryers at your fingertips.  Spa day is by far Angus' favorite day every month.  He loves all the warm bath water and personal attention he gets for that hour.

There's King Arthur...and then there's "King Angus".
When blow dry comes, he gets up on his "throne", crosses his feet and gets this look on his face that says, "Serve me now, you peasant".  He loves to ham it up and work the room like he is actual royalty.  He walks out of there thinking he is pretty special and struts his newly clean coat.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and my dog "The Ham", I couldn't resist by making Green Eggs and Ham (bacon in this case - that counts doesn't it??) for the first time in my life.

Heather and Matt came over for the festive dinner and I made this version of deviled eggs for our appetizer. Nothing difficult, just added green flood coloring to the deviled egg mix and topped it with a small piece of crisp bacon.  My husband and kids looked at the creation, looked at me and shook their head.  I blamed it on the blog...said I needed something fun to post.  They ate it and loved them!

We also had fun with making the secret recipe for a Shamrock Shake - delish!!!  My daugher perfectly got the taste of the original shake.

Since we didn't have enough green going around I also made a batch of cookies for the girls this week, green mini M&M's and mini chocolate chips.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Simply Salmon with Shrimp Tortellini and Sunsets

As I have previously mentioned, we have the most unpredictable weather here in Colorado.  On any given day, you can go to work in cute strappy high-heel sandals and come home that day in boots and down parka.  You clearly need to be prepared every day for mother nature.

The great thing about this is the most beautiful sunrise and sunsets occur.  Rolling clouds come in and out with purple and orange skies.

Last night's sunset (after a high of 68 yesterday) was rolling in a new rain storm for us today.  For our no meat Friday, I pulled together this very flavorful dinner with minimal ingredients.

Salmon with Shrimp Tortellini

1 pound, peeled and deveined shrimp, tails off
2 salmon filets
2 Tbl, melted butter
lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 package, refrigerated cheese filled spinach tortellini (in deli case)
1 container, pre-made pesto (in deli case)
1/4 cup, heavy whipping cream
fresh parmesano reggiano

Preheat oven to 350.  Place salmon filets on foil lined cookie sheet and drizzle with melted butter and lemon/pepper seasoning.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until salmon is done and flaky.

While salmon is baking, cook tortellini according to package directions.

Saute shrimp on medium-high in butter and crushed garlic, until pink and a light golden crust has formed.

Warm pesto in saucepan.  When sauce is fully heated add heavy cream off heat.  Cut salmon in bite size pieces and serve over tortellilni with shrimp, pesto-cream sauce and fresh parmesano reggiano cheese.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sweet Dreams (Layered Sweetness)

Today is very bittersweet for me...

So very happy that it is my grandmother's (a.k.a. GGMa) birthday and she is still here with us celebrating every day.  The sad part of today is that it marks the passing of Jodi, my sister-in-law.

My grandma is in her 80's and you would never know it.  She is a fireball that just keeps on going.  Still famous for her Snickerdoodles and her beautiful homemade cards that I continue to use to this day.  She has a heart of gold, a solid faith foundation and not afraid to let you know what's on her mind, in the most kindest way.  I am so blessed to have a grandmother like her in my life.

Our GGMa, so "pretty in pink".
Jodi was the sister that I never had and not a day goes by that I don't think about her.  As two girls who both grew up in families with just one brother, we had a lot in common as we got to know each other in this very large family we married into.  I miss cooking together, our over-the-top entertaining that we loved to do and having a glass of wine with so many laughs together.

Jodi, leading our team of sisters in the kitchen.
To cheer me up today I made a little sweetness this morning.  It actually reminds me of a dessert that Jodi used to make for us during her favorite family holiday, Easter.  I'm pretty sure that my grandma also has a very similar recipe as well, since she has quite the repertoire of desserts.

Delicious fruit and Jello layered on a pillow of fluffy cream cheese and Cool Whip.  I love the combination of sweet and salty with the added pretzel crust.

Sweet Dreams 

6 oz package Raspberry or Strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
2 cups pretzels
¼ cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 (8oz) package cream cheese - softened
1 (8oz) package Cool Whip - thawed
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 bag frozen mixed berries - thawed in refrigerator

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Combine 6 Oz packet of Jell-O with 2 cups of boiling water and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Crush 2 cups of pretzels in a ziploc bag, using a rolling pin.

Melt 1 stick of  butter than add ¼ cup sugar in saucepan. Add pretzels and mix together.

Lightly press pretzel mix into a 13x9 -inch dish (prepped with non-stick spray) and bake for 10 minutes at 350°F, then cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

While pretzel mix is cooling down, beat 8 oz of cream cheese and 1 cup sugar on medium/low speed until well-combined.

Next, stir in Cool Whip using a spatula and mix until well combined.

Spread mixture over cooled pretzels and go all the way to the edges of the dish to create a seal. You don't want the jello to leak into the pretzels. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Place mixed berries evenly on top of the cream filling..

Pour Jell-O over mixed berries and refrigerate until jello is set.

Jodi's favorite wine that Rick left for us during his visit.
We will definitely have a toast to her (after Lent) on Easter Sunday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chile-Cheese Egg Bake

We just finished three whirlwind days at the annual Colorado Crossroads Volleyball Tournament in Denver.  Last year was our first year to experience this competition.  There are no words to describe such an event.
Imagine 90 volleyball courts, back-to-back and all filled with amped up screaming female athletes - Insanity!!
This is just half of the arena.
The other part of the weekend is a merchandiser's dream.  All the volleyballs, t-shirts, knee pads, blinged out headbands and sports paraphernalia you can imagine.

All the free Gatorade a girl could want.
The team did great and took 1st place in their pool on the second day.  They all worked so hard and came home exhausted every night.

Their "Dig Pink" uniforms for the day to support breast cancer awareness.
The tournament's famous donuts - people wait in line
 that is wrapped around the lobby for these little guys.
To start our morning off right, I made our family breakfast casserole.  Love this dish.  Wonderful for any gathering, weekend morning or sporting event for that much needed protein.  We paired it perfectly with blueberry muffins and fresh fruit.

Chile-Cheese Egg Bake

10 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pint creamed cottage cheese
16 oz. package shredded  jack cheese (or mexican blend)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chilies

In a large bowl, beat eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, grated jack cheese and melted butter.  Blend and stir in chilies.  Pour into well greased 13" x 8" casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is browned.  (Ingredients can be assembled a day ahead and baked at a later time).

** I cut up the left over casserole into individual sizes and freeze for weekday quick go-to breakfast.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tapenade Pasta Salad and Prayers

Today is Ash Wednesday, a very special day and a day of reflection.  As we attended Mass tonight, the first hymn was a very familiar one, "Hosea".  My husband leaned over and said "This is one of your favorites isn't it?"  How did he know that?  In over 20 years together I have never mentioned this or any other hymn, and yet he knew it truly is one of my favorites.  Every time I hear it, I get overwhelmed in emotion and choked up.  He really does know me.....

During the season of Lent, we have all decided to give up something as a sacrifice and respect for these next 40 days.  One daughter has given up pancakes and the other Taco Bell.  I'm here to tell you that is not an easy feat for either one of them.  I'm very proud of their choices.  My husband and I mutually decided in order to start working out more, eating better and trying to get our girlish figure back for the upcoming summer wardrobes, we have given up all adult beverages.  

For those "no meat" days in Lent, I made up a large bowl of pasta salad.  I make this salad for the volleyball tournaments and every time I think I am going to come home with leftovers, the pan is scraped clean.  My husband has repeatedly requested this for the house, so here it is.

An extra added bonus is three weeks ago Trader Joe's opened their first three stores in Colorado.  Can I hear a "Hallelujah"??!!  So excited to have them 10 minutes from my office.  I stop by and pick up goodies and their specialty items on the way home - yummy!!

They have two different olive tapenades (one green and one black) that are out of this world - very versatile and rich in flavors.

Tapenade Pasta Salad

1 - 16 oz. box rainbow rotini pasta (cook as directed), rinse in cold water and let cool
1 can quartered artichoke hearts (cut to bite size)
1 pint of grape tomatoes (cut in half, crosswise)
1/2 block of cheddarella (or your favorite) cheese (diced, bite size)
1 cup baby carrots (diced)
1 cup pitted kalamata olives (diced) - (or 1/2 jar of your favorite black olive tapenade)
1/2 jar Trader Joe's Green Olive Tapenade (or your favorite available brand)
1 - 8 oz. bottle of your favorite Italian salad dressing

Other optional adds:
1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper (diced)
1 cup broccoli floretes (diced)
1 cucumber (diced)

Mix all ingredients and season as desired.  Best if chilled overnight for flavors to fuse.

Monday, March 3, 2014


They say a picture is worth a thousand words...tonight, that's all that needs to be said.  

Ribs for our family dinner: $36.85

Smoker to keep the brothers busy: $135.95

Continuing to prepare the ribs
while beer tasting in our outdoor cooler: $43.95

Two brothers not paying attention and
burning dinner beyond recognition:  Priceless

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes and Too Much Fun

And so it has begun, our weekend with Uncle Rick.  He arrived Thursday afternoon and the fun has not stopped.
Mark, Rick and Matt....trouble!!
  Rick and Heather took a detour to Boulder for some shopping on the way to our house.  They stopped for Tequila, Wine and King Kong...yes, I said King Kong (more on that in a minute).

Leave it to my husband to photo bomb.
Everyone came over for our family happy hour and my pot roast, which was a welcomed cozy aroma to come home to after working (or traveling) all day. I accented the pot roast with sauteed mushrooms, mustard-roasted potatoes and glazed baby carrots. Nothing like a home cooked crock pot meal to warm your soul in the Rocky Mountains.

Father and Daughter - so sweet.
Rick did not disappoint with his selections of new vineyards (and some old favorites) for everyone. Mark and Rick spent Friday in Golden touring the Buffalo Bill Museum and Coors Brewery Factory Tour.  It was a beautifully sunny day and perfect weather for their outing and tours.

Just a few selections for the weekend.
So Thursday night I am at the kitchen sink doing dishes and I look up to see King Kong on the Empire State Building staring at me.  Never a dull moment and always the practical jokers around here.

King Kong guarding the new Coors 19 archive recipe.
We are now preparing for Saturday's carnivore fest....stay tuned for that tomorrow.

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes
Courtesy of  Barefoot Contessa

2½ pounds small red potatoes
2 yellow onions
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the potatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size, and place them on a sheet pan. Remove the ends of the onions, peel them, and cut them in half. Slice them crosswise in ¼-inch-thick slices to make half-rounds. Toss the onions and potatoes together on the sheet pan. Add the olive oil, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper and toss them together. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the potatoes are lightly browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Toss the potatoes from time to time with a metal spatula so they brown evenly.

Serve hot sprinkled with chopped parsley and a little extra salt.

Note: I substituted with fingerling potatoes.