Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#24 - Beef Barbacoa

This one is a keeper... fix it and forget it! I got it all ready to go, threw it in the crockpot, went to the beach, and came home to the delicious smell of Beef Barbacoa! All I had to do was shred the meat, heat up some tortillas and chop a few veg and dinner was served. A few days later I made quesadillas with the left overs and I STILL had meat left! It was good stuff!

Beef Barbacoa

(Recipe adapted from That Skinny Chick)


  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • A pinch ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 12 oz.bottle of beer (can substitute chicken broth)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2-4 chipotle chiles in adobo
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 4 pound chuck roast
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced
  • diced tomatoes, grated cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, tortillas, etc.

    1. To make the adobo sauce combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotles, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and cloves in a blender or processor on high speed until smooth.
    2. Remove any excess fat from the roast and then cut into a few large chunks.
    3. Pour oil into a frying pan and sear all sides of roast on medium-high heat until browned.
    4. Place meat into Crockpot and pour adobo sauce over meat.
    5. Pour in the beer and add bay leaves and onions.
    6. Cook on high heat 6 hours or on low all day.
    7. Shred the meat with two forks and serve with tortillas and a variety of toppings when ready.
    Had to share some of our beach day too (aka. what to do while dinner is cookin' )...
    Beach Glam!
    My Guys


    Thursday, June 25, 2015

    Summer of Selfies - Week Two

    Soooo.... how does it feel, week one taking selfies? Awkward? Silly? Hard? Stupid? Fun? Wonderful? Fantastic? Well don't give up. It may take some getting used to. It'll get easier. Don't think that every day has to be some well thought out, well staged, perfectly coiffed shot. That's not the point. Be you, in that moment. Not feelin' the prompts? Then do your own thing - ain't nothin' wrong with that! And don't stress if you miss a day, you won't be kicked out of the challenge or anything! Just pick back up the next day! If you haven't started yet, no worries! There's always time to jump on this party train! (It all started HERE .)

    We wanted to post next week's prompts a little early so you can be thinking about them! Hope you like 'em and have fun!! Week Two starts Sunday, June 28th. We'd also love to hear how you're feeling throughout the challenge, so feel free to leave us a comment!

    One more thing... we've changed the hashtag to #SummerOfSelfies2015, so don't forget to add it when you post your pics!

    Now go, be FABULOUS!!

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    #23 - Quick & Easy Pasta Carbonara

    Even though today is only the second "official" day of Summer, we are almost halfway through our Summer Break! June has basically been a blur! I have to say that it has NOT been easy to try a new recipe each week. When things get busy I'm much more likely to slip into cooking the same ole, same ole instead of taking the time to plan for something different. There's nothing wrong with tried and true recipes but for the sake of this blog and the challenge I made myself (a new recipe each week), I've got to keep going!

    This one is quick and easy, hence the name... Quick & Easy Pasta Carbonara. Fifteen minutes from the stove to the table (or the countertop if you're at my house). Use any kind of pasta you have on hand. I used rigatoni.  It would also be good if you threw some frozen peas in towards the end of cooking. I might try that next time!

    Quick & Easy Pasta Carbonara
    Serves 4 - 6.

  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Italian-blend Cheese 
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Instructions
    • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve 1 cup water and drain well.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and cheese; set aside.
    • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes; leave about 2 tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan.
    • Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
    • Working quickly, stir in pasta and egg mixture, and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add reserved pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
    • Serve immediately, topped with more cheese, if desired.

    Thursday, June 18, 2015

    Summer of Selfies Challenge

    There’s much being said about selfies lately.  I’ve put in my two cents about them (Me, Myselfies, and I).  Yes, sometimes they can be a bit over the top or even annoying, but are they really hurting anyone?  For me, selfies aren’t a “rub it in your face” or “look at me, look at me” kind of thing, they’re more of a “wish you were here to share this moment” kind of thing.

    Selfies have also been a learning experience for me. When I started posting my “Faces of Chemo” selfies, I had no idea the world it would open up for me. I posted my daily pics as a way to chronicle my breast cancer journey. That turned into 154 consecutive selfies posted (plus other “unofficial” posts). They weren’t meant to be pretty. It was just me, how I was feeling on that particular day.  Don’t get me wrong, there were rarely one-click-and-post shots and many re-shoots (I always go with the “law of three”, take at least three shots and pick the best one… take three more if needed), but something got posted every day.  And they weren’t all selfies in the traditional sense, I would from time to time enlist someone to snap the shot for me… sometimes my arms just aren’t long enough… still pictures of my “self”.  Anyway, back to the “learning” part.  As time went on, I started to become comfortable, comfortable with me.  I began to accept myself and how I looked (although the chemo clean slate of no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes wasn’t ideal).  This is me, today. I’m ok with that.

    You don’t need to go through something like cancer to have that kind of self-discovery. It just takes giving yourself a little bit of grace every day.  Embrace your flaws, they’re what make you YOU.  Don’t hide who you are.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  And the people who know you, they see you anyway (in real life). They love you and a less than perfect picture isn’t going to change that. If anything, it will help them share in your day, your up’s and down’s, your fun, your frustration, your adventures, your success and your losses, life.  That’s not a bad thing.

    Still not convinced?  Well, my friend Christine (my partner in selfie-crime) and I would like to invite you to join us in a “Summer of Selfies” Challenge. A selfie experiment, if you will.  Beginning on June 21st (the first official day of Summer) and running for 6-weeks, we will post prompts each week for daily selfies (like “sleepy selfie” or “at work selfie”). You would then post your selfies to Instagram and/or Facebook with the hashtag #SummerOfSelfies.  No worries if you miss a day or two (or three…), just pick right back up when you can.  It’s not a big deal that will require hours of pre and post production. Just do it and just be you.  Why should I, you ask?  Why not?!  It’ll be fun!! And let’s just see if you start to look at yourself a little differently when it’s all done.  Maybe you’ll decide you’re not so bad.  Maybe you’ll kind of start to like what you see.  You’ll never know unless you give it a try!
    Here are the prompts for the first week... start posting June 21st!

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    #22 - Spicy Stewed Beef with Creamy Cheddar Grits

    I might have mentioned before that I have a thing for grits. I mean I REALLY do! That having been said, it's not unusual that I would base a meal around them. For me they are more than I side dish... they are the STAR!

    I found this recipe on Ree Drummond's website. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to try it! As usual though, I made a few changes to the recipe. First of all, Ree's beef cooks on the stove for about 3 hours and one day I'll try it that way. I just didn't have that kind of time to hang out in the kitchen, so I converted it into a slow cooker recipe. The second thing is that she put a whole stinkin' 11 ounce can of Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce into hers... that would be why it's called SPICY Stewed Beef! I decided to be a little more conservative and only used half a can (and it was still pretty spicy!). And the last thing I did differently was my grits. Stone Ground Grits are not all that common in my local grocery stores. Short on time, the only grits I could find were instant grits. Ree's grits took about an hour to cook and mine took about 20 minutes. Again, one of these days, I will try it her way! Oh, and I ended up making WAAAAAAAY to many grits! That's not a bad thing because a few days later I served the leftovers with bacon, a little more cheese, and topped with a fried egg... Mmmmmmm....

    This recipe is prefect for a crowd or a Sunday dinner.  It's a bit on the spicy side, but so good and rich. I didn't bother making anything else to go with it, but it would be great with green veg or a loaf of crusty bread (lots of butter). So, here you have it... get your grits (and spicy beef) on!

    Spicy Stewed Beef with Creamy Cheddar Grits
    (Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman )
    Serves: A LOT!


    • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
    • 2 Tablespoons Butter
    • 3 pounds Stew Meat Or Diced Chuck Roast
    • 1/2 can Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
    • 4 cups Low-sodium Beef Broth
    • 5 cloves Minced Garlic
    • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
    • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
    • 1/2 an Onion, Diced
    • 1/2 a  Red Bell Pepper
    • 1 whole Anaheim Chili
    • 3 cups Instant Grits
    • 6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
    • 3 cups Water
    • 1 cup Heavy Cream
    • 2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese


    To make the meat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large pot over high heat. Throw in stew meat and brown for 1 minute, then add chipotle peppers, beef broth, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Stir, then bring to a boil. Transfer beef mixture to a preheated slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

    Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of both oil and butter. Add diced onion, bell pepper, and chilies and cook for five minutes or so. Add chicken broth and water, then bring to a boil . Reduce the heat to low, stir in grits and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the grits have thickened and start to become tender, add heavy cream.  Cook a minute or two more, remove from heat and stir in cheese.

    Serve a big ol' heap of grits smothered in the beef and all of it's yummy juices!

    (Recipe #22 of 52)

    Sunday, June 14, 2015

    #21 - From Scratch Pancake Mix

    I absolutely LOVE breakfast! I REALLY LOVE pancakes! When I woke up this morning, ready to make some pancakes and realized I was out of Bisquik, I decided it was time to try making my own pancake mix, from scratch. I searched Pinterest for recipes and after finding quite a few, this is what I came up with. It doesn't take much more work than using a store-bought pancake mix does and if you make up a batch it'll last you a few meals.  The bonus is that all the ingredients were stuff I had in my pantry! Just a side note, I like to add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the batter but if you don't have it, no sweat!

    From Scratch Pancake Mix
    For Pancake Mix
    • 6 cups all purpose flour
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
    • 3 tablespoons baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    For Pancakes
    • 1 cup Pancake Mix
    • 1 cup milk (or buttermilk)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
    1. Whisk together all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
    2. To make the pancakes, simply mix together pancake mix, milk and egg. Heat a nonstick skillet and butter it. Pour ¼ cup batter onto the hot griddle. When the top of each pancake bubbles and bubbles begin to pop, flip and continue cooking on the second side. Each cup of dry mix will yield 4-6 pancakes.

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    #20 - Breakfast Grilled Cheese

    The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning is home for the summer and this Mama is pretty happy about that! I'm also pretty happy that this kid has been increasingly joining the ranks of a foodie! Gone are the days of only eating chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and pepperoni pizza... gone, but not totally abandoned 'cuz we like a good mac or pizza as much as the next guy! It's just nice to now have variety in our dinning choices.

    The other day, the boy and I watched a cute little flick called, Chef, starring Jon Favreau who plays a chef who quits his job at a popular restaurant and starts a food truck to reclaim his career and passion as a chef. In it, there is a scene where Chef makes a grilled cheese sandwich... I know what you're thinking, "bid deal, it's a grilled cheese sandwich," but just you watch...

    Ooooooh, cheeeesy goodness! Yummy, right?! And that got us thinking... ya know what would make that sandwich even better?? A fried egg and bacon! The birth of our Breakfast Grilled Cheese! It's nothing fancy and it's not even pretty, but it sure is tasty (be prepared to have egg yolk running down your elbows when you dig in)!


    2 slices of bread, your choice
    butter, softened
    2 strips of bacon
    1 egg
    4-6 slices of sliced cheese, your choice
    salt and pepper
    • Cook bacon in a frying pan.
    • While the bacon is cooking, butter one side of each slice of bread.
    • Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter into a separate frying pan (med-low heat) and place bread into pan, buttered side down and top with cheese.
    • When the bacon is cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Carefully crack egg into the pan with remaining bacon grease. Cook until your desired "doneness" (is that a word?). Season with salt and pepper.
    • Place egg on one of your bread slices and bacon strips on the other. Flip the bacon side onto the egg side and cook a minute or two more, turning once.
    • Cut in half and enjoy!
    Not the best picture! We were too anxious to eat
    it to take a good one!
    (Recipe #20 of 52)

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    #19 - Tropical Oat Squares

    I made these bars to take to my oncologist (Doc Onc) for my 3-month check up. I always take him goodies when I go and this time I wanted to try a "healthier" treat... oats and fruit, that's healthy, right?  Healthy or not, they were pretty tasty!

    Tropical Oat Square
    (Recipe from Cooking Creation)

    • 1/2 c butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 c nonfat Greek pineapple yogurt, room temperature
    • 1/2 c white sugar
    • 1/2 c brown sugar
    • 1 large egg, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 c quick cooking oats 
    • 1/2 c flaked coconut, sweetened 
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Pineapple Filling:
    • 2 c fresh pineapple, finely chopped 
    • 2 tbsp white sugar 
    • 1 lime, juiced 
    • Pinch of salt

    Make the pineapple filling.  In a small sauce pan, add the fresh pineapple, sugar, lime juice, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Continue to boil over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use a potato masher to mash the pineapple.  Continue to boil for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the butter, Greek yogurt, white sugar and brown sugar, until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the egg.  In a separate large bowl, add the flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients with a spoon, being careful to not over mix.

    Spread half of the batter in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Pour the pineapple mixture (along with the juices) evenly on top of the batter.  Carefully spoon the remaining batter over the pineapple layer.

    Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Allow it to cool completely before serving.

    Monday, June 8, 2015


    I am SOOOO behind on my recipe posts! It's not that I haven't been cooking, it's that I haven't been posting! I'm going to try to pound out the posts this week to get caught up... no promises!

    This recipe is SUPER easy but the finished product looks and tastes FANCY SCHMANCY!  I'm pretty sure that even someone who is not a fan of asparagus might like this one... and if they don't, more for the rest of us! My asparagus was super long, even after cutting it down, so the tarts were probably a little big but I didn't hear anyone complain! You can serve them drizzled with a yummy balsamic reduction (I made that the day before... easy peasy!).  These would be great for appetizers, for brunch, lunch, or as side dish.... or anytime, just because!

    (I got 6-8 tarts out of this recipe or you could make one big one!)
    Recipe adapted from Joy The Baker

    2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold.
    1 egg, beaten
    2 cups finely grated gruyere cheese
    1-1 1/2 pounds slender asparagus
    kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
    olive oil
    balsamic reduction (recipe below)
    Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
    Unfold thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured work surface.  Unfold the pastry and slice into thirds at the creases.  Cut each strip in half, creating six equally sized rectangles - I used my asparagus as a gage of how long/wide my strips needed to be.
    Gently press each rectangle with your fingers, flattening slightly.  With a small pairing knife, score a 1/4 inch boarder along the inside of each rectangle.  Arrange 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
    Brush each square lightly with beaten egg. Sprinkle with salt and coarse ground black pepper.  Top with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese.  Press five to six asparagus spears into the cheese. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with more coarsely ground black pepper.
    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puff pastry is golden brown and asparagus is cooked through. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with balsamic reduction.   Tarts can be stored, well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
    Recipe from PopSugar
    All you need is a bottle of balsamic vinegar!

    Pour a cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the heat to a boil without reducing the heat on the stove.
    At this point, turn down the heat so that boil reduces to a simmer. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half (for a thinner reduction) or more (for a more syrupy consistency). However impatient you may be, don't try to increase the heat, unless you want to be left with a stiff, hardened mess!
    Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
    (Recipe #18 of 52)