Pinterest Proven....Super Bowl Go To Recipe...Jalapeno Popper Dip

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Super Bowl is this weekend and if you are hosting or heading to a party or just watching the game on the couch in your sweats, here is an easy go-to recipe to snack on during the game.  I have made this appetizer several times for tailgates, holiday parties and more.  It is easy and it is good.  What else can you ask for?  And you can control the heat by how many jalapeno peppers you customize away on your own jalapeno dip this weekend. 

I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course) which led me to to grab the recipe.  This is their exact recipe from simply gourmet and it works great.

Recipe:  Jalapeno Popper Dip

6-8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked crispy
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, soft
1 cup of mayonnaise
4-6 jalapeno's, chopped and deseeded.  The seeds will make it fiery hot.
1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup diced green onion


1 cup of crushed crackers ( I used Ritz)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl.  Stir well.

Transfer to an oven proof dish. The size of the dish depends on how thick the dip is.  The thicker the dip the longer it may need to warm up.  

Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle all over the top of the dip.

Bake the dip for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Photo from


Pinterest Proven: PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Another Pinterest Proven Recipe! We love PF Changs Lettuce Wraps, but living an hour away, it is difficult to visit very often.  I found this Pinterest recipe and decided to give it a whirl.  I altered it a bit, but they tasted delicious! No pics to share since my phone bit the dust but don't all lettuce wraps kinda look the same?  The original recipe was found at

PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps


3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts ( I used two pounds of ground chicken instead)
1 cup water chestnut
2/3 cup mushroom
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 tsp minced garlic
4-5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard (  I used a leftover packet of hot mustard from our last Chinese take out)
2 teaspoons water
1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste ( I didn't have red chile paste so I threw in a few red pepper  flakes for some kick)

Stir Fry Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar


1- Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.
2. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.  Eventually, add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps. Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Saute the chicken breasts (or brown the ground chicken) until done. Remove chicken from the pan and cool.
3. Keep oil in the pan, keep hot. As chicken cools, mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.  Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are.  With the pan still on high heat, add another tablespoon of hot vegetable oil. Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to pan. Add stir fry sauce to pan. Saute mixture a couple of minutes then serve in lettuce leaves.

Red Velvet Cookies Are Worth Sharing Again

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I shared these yummy Red Velvet Cookies a few years ago and received a lot of feedback from folks who had tried the recipe and loved it.  As we gear up for Valentines Day, I encourage you to give these a try! They are pretty and so delicious!  Just look at the can't lose! You can thank me later!

Here's the link to my first post with this yummy recipe!

Winter Entryways...Ideas For When Your Christmas Wreath Comes Down

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Christmas is over and now all of our doors seem sad.  Well at least mine does.  I have wreaths for Christmas, Easter, Summer, and Thanksgiving.  But I don't have anything for dreary January.  Maybe these ideas will help spark my creativity and help me liven up my front door this month.

Here is what my entry looked like for Christmas.  I always use fresh greenery for the garland and then wire in lights, ornaments and ribbons. I made the bow for the monogram with printed burlap ribbon and fresh greenery wired together.  I found most of these ornaments at Kirklands this year.

Check out these ideas for your "after Christmas" door!

1. From Setting For Four: A Boxwood Wreath with Framed Chalkboard Printable

2.  From Two Junk Chix: Love their blog name! They also share the DIY instructions.  You could make this wreath in any color scheme.

3. From This Silly Girls Life: Pretty wreath for transitioning after Christmas and she shares her DIY with photos!

4. From Blue Cricket Design: Cute, Easy and Inexpensive! See Their DIY for this project.

5. From On Sutton Place: This wreath could actually take you through Christmas and into the early winter months.  They give complete DIY tutorials with pics on how to construct.
What do you do with your front entry after Christmas? I'd love to see it! Share your ideas with me here in the comment section below or post your pics on my Facebook Page!

He Never Changes....Thank Goodness!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Let The Good Times Roll....Gumbo!

We traveled to New Orleans this past summer.  It was a bit of a side trip on a trip to Louisiana to pick up a duck boat.  You can probably fill in the blanks on that one.  In short, not the vacation I thought we were doing.

But in an effort to make the most of this "needed" trip, we decided to check out New Orleans.  None of us had ever been and of course it seemed like the natural stop since we were so close.  It wasn't what we expected.  To be was hot, we were traveling with a 14 week old lab puppy.  Did I mention it was hot?

We found our way to the French Quarter (by way of a few pretty sketchy side streets).  I think we were all surprised that it didn't quite match what we had seen on TV and in magazines.  Maybe I was expecting the Disney version of the French Quarter.  We did a quick walking tour of the area (did I mention it was hot?) and as lunchtime approached we looked for a place to eat that would allow puppies. It is fair to say that none of the eateries with air conditioning allowed puppies.  We found the French Quarter CafĂ© and sat at a table along the sidewalk.  Wanting to experience the flavors of New Orleans we all picked something unique that we had never tried.  Gumbo was a must. 

The gumbo was good.  A little bit of everything thrown together that ended up successful. We had gyros and red beans and rice I think.  It was all good.  I imagine all of the food in New Orleans is good.  The best part of lunch was the live band that played all of the sounds of New Orleans.  A hodgepodge group of guys that came together in this little sidewalk band made some awesome music and helped us feel like we had really experienced N.O.

From that trip, we learned that we like gumbo.  Of  course it wasn't in my recipe file, but as the New Year rolled in it seemed like the perfect recipe to break in my new stockpot that I had received from our girls for Christmas.  A special recipe for a special inauguration.

I looked all over for gumbo recipes and ended up combining three different recipes.  Here is the general recipe that I used.  Turn on some zydeco music and give it a try on one of these cold winter days.

Gumbo Recipe:

1 cup butter, plus 1 tablespoon
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped yellow onion chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag cut up frozen okra
3 cups of chicken stock
1 bottle (2 cups) bottled clam juice
2 can diced tomatoes with juice
3 bay leaves
1 tbs dried parsley flakes
1 tbs Cajun season
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/2 cups cooked Andouille sausage, sliced diagonally
1 cup diced smoked ham
2 lbs shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
cooked white rice for serving

In a large heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt 1 cup of the butter.  Add the flour and cook on low heat until the roux is dark brown; about 30-45 minutes, stirring constantly. * Cook's Note: Brown does not mean burnt; if you burn the roux you have to throw it out and start over again. Friends at this point I recommend taking your tablet in the kitchen, or turning on your kitchen tv and watching one of those episodes you DVRd.  This step is painstakingly slow.

Add the onions, celery, peppers and garlic and sautĂ© until translucent. Mix in the okra and the remaining ingredients, including the remaining tablespoon of butter and simmer over medium-low heat until thick, about 1 hour.  (I waited until about 5 minutes before serving to add the shrimp).

Before serving remove the bay leaves. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve over rice.

Marking Time

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The second  weekend in January is a big weekend for us.

Christmas and New Years are over.  We have rushed for a month.  Rushed to get ready for Christmas.  Rushed through Christmas (I know that isn't good but sometimes it just happens). We then take down the two (sometimes four) Christmas trees, decorations in every room in the house, outside decorations...sweeping up dried up Frasier fir needles for weeks afterwards.  (You know what I mean by "we" right?)

And just when we get back to work after New Year's, we begin to get ready to celebrate our anniversary and our youngest daughter's birthday.

Our anniversary is on January 9th.  Our daughter's birthday is on January 10th. (Different years of course.)  Sometimes we have separate celebrations but most recently we find ourselves having joint celebrations.  We went with a joint celebration this year. We actually started with a joint celebration.

When these two days roll around each year I find myself looking back.  Our anniversary and Lyndsay's birthday is a way of marking time for me.  How old was I when I got married?  How old was I when I had Lyndsay?  What has happened in the last # years?

There are some memorable January 9ths and 10ths that stick out for me.

27 years ago we were married in a blizzard.  Yep a blizzard.  A blizzard in a town that never gets snow.  When the wedding day rolled around the town was hamstrung with snowy roads and no snow removal equipment.  We may have been the only ones in town with a four wheel drive.  Which meant my soon to be husband had to drive around to pick up the bridesmaids so they could make it to the wedding.  A lot of folks couldn't get there at all.  But there was no cancelling at that point.  27 years later we are still hearing the horror stories recounted by our Florida family members and offering up our apologies with a little laugh and "wasn't that funny?".  Good thing I don't believe in omens.

Twenty two years ago I was VERY pregnant with Lyndsay on our anniversary.  At 5'2'' and "blessed" with a very short waist my pregnant belly had no where to go but out.  Straight out.  On January 9th they were calling for very bad weather, sleet, ice, maybe snow.  We lived an hour from the hospital...down a mountain.  My father-in-law put some cash in an envelope with a note that basically said..."Go celebrate your anniversary and have that baby." In otherwords get off this mountain before we have to birth that baby ourselves.

So we packed up, left our 2 1/2 year old with the grandparents and headed down the mountain.  Our first stop was at a beautiful quaint bed and breakfast.   Why I was thinking of a romantic beautiful place to stay on THAT anniversary night I have no idea.  I could hardly walk or breathe. And the "Inn Keeper" must have thought the same thing.  We arrived at the front door of the Inn and she took one look at me and said "There is no room in the Inn".  So funny!

We made our way to a nice hotel and settled in for our anniversary night.  That entailed trying to eat in a booth at the restaurant downstairs...I couldn't even sit up straight....not a great meal.  Then watching MTV as my contractions began.  I held out until midnight when we made our way a mile down the road to the hospital and five hours later had our sweet baby girl.  That series of events continues a couple of days later when we are making our way back up the mountain (in the ice) with our little bundle of joy and our car breaks down.  There we sit on the side of the road waiting for my brother in law to come pick us up.  Classic. Memorable.

Fast forward to four years later.  Our tenth anniversary.  I think the symbol for the 10th anniversary gift is tin.  Not sure we would have come up with a good idea for tin gifts, but no need.  We were in a hospital room in Seattle Washington nine days post bone marrow transplant for Jack.  Jack struggled to keep food down during those first weeks, so our tenth anniversary was celebrated with a meal of matching orange popsicles. We were thankful
and grateful to see year 10 together.  The next day Lyndsay celebrated her 5th birthday opening her birthday presents in the hospital room so her dad could be at her "party".  See what I mean by marking time?

Marking time.  January always stops me and causes me to mark the time of our lives.  The big and the little things that have happened the second weekend in January through the years. Some good.  Some scary. But always together.  Whether we celebrate our special days in a beautiful bed and breakfast or the nice chain hotel. Whether we celebrate our special days in a birthday party venue or a hospital long as we are together that's really all that matters.  It really brings home the meaning of gratitude for me.  Gratitude turns what we have, or where we are, into enough.