Creamy Cilantro Lime Salad with Quinoa, Avocado, Tomato, and Black Beans

I know quinoa has been all the rage lately. I hadn't worked with it up until now. Why not? Maybe it was the rebellious kid in me coming out, refusing to do what everyone else wants her to do? Maybe it was a fear of the unknown? Fear of failure? Maybe it was just that I was afraid I would plan out a dish and for the first time we wouldn't like it at all. I mean you should have seen Kevin's nose wrinkle up when I said I was making quinoa. Jessi was less indirect about it and just flat out told me she thought quinoa was gross. Nice! Now my nerves are really going. I really have been wanting to try quinoa because it is a great substitute for rice in dishes and much healthier. But how in the heck am I supposed to use it if no one will like it? *sigh*

After mulling it around in my head, thinking of dishes that might hide the fact that there was quinoa in it, I opted to just go for it and make what sounded good to me. I love avocado, so I started from there. It has been a while since I made anything with a Mexican flair, so I headed down that road and added black beans and tomatoes  But what about a dressing or sauce? I had thought to just dress it with some lime juice, but I wanted to pull in another of my new favorites and do a creamy dressing with Greek yogurt. Once I sat back and looked at the ingredients I had written down I thought, "This is a pretty healthy dish" my next thought? "Wow nobody is going to like this". Usually I take dishes that we love and try to make them healthier, but there was no hiding that this was just a healthy dish. Oh well, I crossed my fingers and dove right in.

I soaked my quinoa, as per a suggestion from another blogger, and then cooked it quite simply in water. I had thought to use chicken stock because so many people say quinoa is just bland. But I also wanted to make this dish vegetarian, so that is why I opted for water. I would have used vegetable stock if I had some though. 

Pork Tenderloin with Garlic, Parmesan, and Balsamic Vinegar

The other day I asked the followers on my Facebook page what they would like me to make. The answer was something with pork. I just so happened to have a couple of pork tenderloins in my freezer. I knew I wanted to come up with a crust for it that would pack a ton of flavor. I have made garlic and herb crusts before and I have also made them with a balsamic marinade, but this time I wanted more than that. Something that would use many of my favorite flavors, without being too much. When I ran my idea past Kevin he was worried that I was indeed doing just that, putting too much in one. But I am stubborn, just ask most people that know me, so I decided I was going to do it anyway. 

So I got to work and mixed everything together, coated my pork loin and got it all ready to go in the oven. I set the oven to 350. I left the kitchen for 15 minutes, and when I came back the light was still on on the stove so I knew it hadn't reached 350 yet. I wandered away for a little bit and returned only to find the light was still on. Hhhmmmm Now you have to realize that this oven is probably as old as dirt and when we moved in this house in October I specifically asked the landlord if we could replace the stove. He didn't seem thrilled with the idea so I let it go. Since then I have made comments about the fact that I felt the oven was possessed because it seemed to cook at whatever temperature it wanted. But it still cooked so I assumed that maybe the light itself wasn't working correctly and went ahead and put the pork in the oven to cook. Thank goodness I chose to use my meat thermometer, because when the timer went off the meat was nowhere near the temperature it was supposed to be so I left it in and waited for the temperature to rise. I was worried that the situation would ruin the meal, but tenderloin is a very forgiving cut of meat. Plus low is better than high, so even though it took and additional 20 minutes to cook the meat was tender and juicy. Thank goodness!!

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara from

I am not a big breakfast fan. At least not of the time frame that breakfast is supposed to be eaten in. I am more of a brunch kind of girl. My kids grew up with Cherrios and Mini Wheats through the week. But on the weekends I loved to cook up something special. They were always excited to see what I would come up with. It could be something sweet (they loved my applesauce pancakes), or savory (one weekend my Mom and I decided to roll our own lumpia and that was breakfast), they just loved that Mom cooked.

The first time I ever made Pasta Carbonara they flipped out! My daughter said, "Mom you made breakfast pasta!". I think they thought it was an idea I came up with on my own. I had to let them know it wasn't my invention, but every time I made it they acted like I was a genius. 

Since Kevin has been out of work for the last few weeks, he has taken over the brunch detail here. I will work while he cooks away, and I have to admit, it is kind of nice. But today I decided I wanted to cook something for him. When he asked what I was making, I told him "Breakfast Pasta". I of course got "the look", you know the one I have told you about many times before. I just told him to sit down, drink his coffee, and relax. I mean seriously, this look thing.......sheesh!

Of course when I brought him a bowl, and he tasted it, "the look" was replaced by a smile. I don't know why he doubts me!!

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers #SecretRecipeClub

I know today is supposed to be Manic Monday, and it will return again next week. But trust me when I say that you are in for a special treat. Why you ask? Well because this is my first week of participating in the Secret Recipe Club! The Secret Recipe Club was started back in 2011 by a couple of friends (April and Amanda) that thought it would be fun to recreate each others recipes and post them on their food blogs. But instead of just the two of them doing it they decided it would be more interesting to include other bloggers as well. Each member is assigned another person's blog. We get to chose a recipe from our assigned blog, make it, and then post about it. All the while keeping it a secret until the day we all post. Then you get to see who made what from whom. Sounds like fun right? I am super excited!!!

Ok enough about me, let's talk about Sarah. Sarah is married to her high school sweetheart, has two of the most adorable kids I have ever seen, and loves her fur babies as much as I love mine. Her blog Fantastical Sharing of Recipes is her way of having fun and sharing with her friends, in real life as well as on the computer, all of the tasty treasures she finds on the internet. She loves to promote other blogs. Like she says, "Sharing is caring"!

I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to make. I tend to be a bit obsessive at times so I wanted to go through EVERYTHING to choose, but then you add in my ADD and choosing is one one of the hardest things for me to do. I will look at one thing and then see another and away my head goes spinning and spinning. So, I had a list written down and decided to take it to my sous chef to get his input. It was a quick decision. As soon as he saw stuffed peppers he had his winner. Then I saw they were Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers and woohooooo I knew we had a winner!!

Yup, yup, yup it was a true winner my friends! Kevin could barely talk through all the "mmmmm-ing" he was doing and was so happy there were leftovers so he could have them again the next day. I would definitely put this in the keeper file if I were you. Sweet peppers with all that meaty goodness and ooey gooey cheese sauce? Yummmm anyone hungry?

Meatballs with Creamy Greek Yogurt Mushroom Sauce

I have been trying to come up with recipe that contain "meat" for Kevin. He has gotten to the point that when he requests meat, chicken doesn't even fit the bill for him. I know what he wants, he wants RED meat. But I am just not a huge red meat lover. I mean he knows I try to keep things a bit lighter around here, plus when I say he wants red meat I mean he wants a big thick fatty rib eye steak. Picky much? I know!

Now don't get me wrong, when I do hop off the red meat wagon, a rib eye sounds amazing. A nice steak with perfectly marbled fat that just melts when you cook it, into marvelous meaty goodness. Oops, pardon me, I think I just drooled a bit. 

But again his pickiness can be a pain because when I do break down and decide to make steak he just wants some salt and pepper and slap it on the grill. I have tried to explain to him that I can not exactly use that on the blog. Something tells me at that moment he doesn't really seem to care. The carnivore has emerged and he could give two flips about food blogging....such a brat!

Sooooo I have been trying to use beef in a few meals to somewhat calm my "beast". This night I decided on some meatballs. I was a bit nervous because I had just made spaghetti and meatballs a few days before when the kids came for dinner. But I figured with the sauce I was making, and the fact that it was going over egg noodles, I could get away with it. I was right, he loved them. Maybe I under estimate him sometimes.

Pasta with Sausage, Fennel, and Onions

This was (again) one of those meals that was born from what I like to refer to as "Ingredient Roulette". I take  several ingredients from my fridge and pantry and kind of do an "eenie meanie miney mo". Then try to come up with something to make with them. It is fun and keeps me on my toes. Plus it keeps from making a lot of the same old recipes. Not that I really do that much. Although looking back through my posts, there are several I would like to make again for the flavor and/or to redo the picture. I mean, dang, some of my old pictures are just baaaaaaad!!

I love pasta and sausage. To me that is just a win/win no matter what. You don't need a sauce, just some Parmesan cheese and it is good to go. But pasta and sausage and Parmesan cheese is pretty boring right? So I grabbed a few other items and to my stove I went. 

Kevin really loved this dish. He ate the leftovers for the next two days!

Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon from Domesblissity for the #SupriseRecipeSwap

WOW! I can't believe a month has gone by since last Month's Surprise Recipe Swap! I am so happy that Jutta from The Hungry Little Girl invited me to join in the fun. 

This month the blog I was assigned to is Domesblissity. I really enjoyed reading all about Anne and browsing through her posts. (You really need to read her "About Me" page!) It was really hard for me to single one recipe out. I had three I really wanted to try and ended up just putting the names in a hat and having Kevin draw one. 

Why did I have Kevin draw the name? Well you see, one of the recipes was for soup and if you have been reading my blog for very long you know he groans every time I have soup on the menu for dinner. He just doesn't think it is a "meal" even though every time I make it he loves!! Can't live with them, can't.......err feed them soup!

Well, as luck would have it, he drew the soup!! I was secretly very happy inside, and sort of giggling..... OK I was laughing my butt off! He of course did the "face" but I ignored it and got out my shopping list so I could get down to work. 

I am happy to report that soup came out wonderful, and Kevin again had to agree with me that soup can indeed be a meal!! 

Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon
Adapted from Domesblissity

1 pound of bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
2 small or 1 large carrot, diced
4 large Russet potatoes , peeled and diced small (about 1/4 inch)
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
Kosher salt
White pepper
2 cups half and half
fresh chives, chopped (optional)

In a 6 to 8 quart bacon, over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve on a paper towel.

In the bacon fat cook the onions, and carrots until the onions are translucent. about 5 to 7 minutes. Add potatoes and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisk in flour and stir constantly. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add chicken stock and half of the cooked bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring soup to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Mash some of the potatoes for a creamier texture and add the half and half. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Adjust the thickness by adding more stock if necessary to reach a creamy consistency. Ladle into shallow bowls and top with your choice of garnish.

Serves 6 


If you would like to join the Secret Recipe Club and cook along side some pretty terrific food bloggers, click the button below and you will be taken to the information on how to join us

If you would like to check out the other Surprise Recipe Swap contributors you can do it by going here.

Caprese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

So we are continuing on in my obsession for all things Caprese. I just can't seem to get enough!! Let's recap shall we? I have Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwiches, Caprese Meatball Subs, Chicken Caprese Pasta, and now these Caprese Stuffed Chicken Breasts. Trust me I wont be stopping any time soon either because they just keep getting better and better!

This all began a couple of years ago when I decided I liked tomatoes. You see as a kid my Mom forced me to eat them and they just made me gag. I couldn't stand what I referred to as "tomato snot" (gross I know but that shows you how much I hated them). Once I started cooking with them I always made sure to seed them. But somehow, as if by magic, I began enjoying the flavor of a raw tomato. 

I think it began when I started getting a flat bread at our local pizza place. It had fresh mozzarella balls, and fresh grape tomato halves, all drizzled with a fabulous balsamic vinegar reduction. Oh my goodness so good! Then I started eating one of their salads (that I keep swearing I will figure out how to make at home) that had several ingredients, one being fresh grape tomatoes.

Of course grape tomatoes are great because they contain very little uummm shall we call it "goo" to make it sound better? But I began trying tomato on everything. Now I love a nice slice of fresh tomato on my sandwiches, diced tomatoes on my tacos and gyros, etc....I just can't seem to get enough of them. So when I tried my first Caprese salad I was hooked! I just had to make it in as many different ways as possible. This was one of those ways. Like I said, they keep coming out better and better so I wont be stopping anytime soon!

Manic Monday Party #27

Once again it is that time of week, Manic Monday. For me, today came wayyyy too fast because I have been sick since Valentine's Day. Yes my friends *sigh* I was in bed asleep by 6:30 leaving my poor sweetheart alone on Valentine's Day. Very sad, but I will make it up to him soon! 

One thing that was nice was to be able to sign on today and look at the wonderful Valentine's Day posts you all shared for the last party. There were some terrific ones that I can't wait to try! Below are the top 3 for you to enjoy. Remember, if you are featured you can grab a "Featured" button on my side bar.

Chocolate cake with strawberry mousse heart from Something Sweet

Strawberry Cake Cookies from Sweet Heat Chefs

Flirty Candy-Tini from Red, White, and Blueberries

Please make sure to read the party guidelines, as they have changed a bit.

If you would like to be featured in next weeks party, or would like your posts shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest the instructions below MUST be followed.

Please add a text link to the party (if you need help adding a link please go here or check out this great video) or grab one of my buttons from the right side bar and add it to your linked posts

Please link up the picture to the post not your main blog page, and make sure to use the title of your recipe description/name box. 

Leave up to 3 of your favorite posts

I love to promote my fellow bloggers and work hard at doing so I want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for all of us!

Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest

Don't forget to leave me a comment. I love to know who is here and spread the word, the more the merrier!!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast {Guest Post at Cooking with Mel}

One of the things I have enjoyed so much about becoming a food blogger is the fact that it allows me to meet so many people that I would never have know otherwise. I have learned and grown so much via the interactions and true friendships that I have gained. One of the very first people that I met is Mel. We actually found each other on Facebook and we seemed to connect immediately. We shared a love for our pups and shared a lot of pictures with both of us oohhing and aawwwing like proud Mommies (well the really are our babies), we shared a love for learning how to cook healthier and share those ways with our readers, and well of course there is just the basic love of food period! So of course I jumped at the chance to do a guest post for her blog. I was thrilled and very honored that she asked. I am new at the whole guest posting thing having only ever done it once before, and she has been very patient with me with all of my many emails full of questions. Bless her heart! 

Cooking with Mel 
Blog || Facebook || Twitter

OK, enough of my yapping. Head on over to Mel's page to check out the recipe for the Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast, and get to know her. You will love her as much as I do!! Make sure to check out her Facebook and Twitter too!!

Manic Monday Party #26

Welcome back to Manic Monday. This week is a big one with Fat Tuesday and Valentines Day. I am sure there will be a lot of celebrating going on between those two days. So I was thinking that this week we can all share our favorite party foods? Sound good? I know I am excited!!

OK let's move on to the features from last week. I was so excited! The food was awesome and we had 64 entries! You all rock!! 

Chocolate Strawberry Truffle Crepes from Sumptuous Spoonfuls

2 Ingredient Valentine’s Toffee from Red, White, and Blueberries

I finally have a featured button so if you were featured you can grab a button on the right. YAY!! 

Now on to the party!!

Please make sure to link up the picture to the post not your main blog page

Please add a text link to the party or grab one of my buttons from the right side bar and add it to your post or Party Page if you would like to be featured. Linking between blogs is a great way to drive traffic to our blogs and move us up in the Google ranking!

Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest. I will be tweeting, pinning, and posting your recipes all week long. 

Leave up to 3 of your favorite posts, or link up posts that fit in with the weekly subcategory if applicable.

Don't forget to leave me a comment. I love to know who is here and spread the word, the more the merrier!!

Remember to vote for your favorites and please don't forget to click on the other recipes and show them some foodie love too! Make sure to tell them where you saw them!!

How to Store Fresh Herbs

I know, if you are anything like me, you want to find any way you can save money. One of the things that has been making me crazy is having to throw away fresh herbs because they have gone bad in my refrigerator. I know those little amounts don't seem like much at the time. But over the course of a month, it can really add up. Two bucks here, one dollar there. Plus I just don't like to be wasteful. Oh I know some people will say, "Why don't you just use dried herbs?". That is one way to avoid this issue for sure, but just prefer the flavor that fresh herbs add to any dish they are a part of. I will go out of my way at times to find an herb to add to a dish just to give it that "pop" of flavor.

I wasn't always this way. I actually was afraid of fresh herbs when I started this culinary journey of mine. I knew I wanted to use them, but for some reason I was very intimidated by them. I know, silly right? How could a little plant intimidate me? I guess it was just because I had only used dried herbs, and very little of them. I had no idea how fresh herbs really tasted or how to sub fresh herbs for dried herbs in a recipe.

The first thing I did was buy all of the fresh herbs I wanted to use so I could taste them all. That help a lot. Now I had a reference in my mind to call on when coming up with a recipe, or tweaking one I already had. At that time I was living in Southern California. You know, the land where you can grow just about anything? So fresh herbs were no problem and there was no storage issue. Just go out to the garden, clip clip, and into the pot they went.

Then I moved to Western Washington. The weather here is not as forgiving and there is a small window of opportunity to grow your own herbs and produce. I eventually want a green house, but for now I have just been happy with the few months I can grow my own. But that gives me 8 or 9 months of having to buy my herbs at the grocery store, just like most of you.

I had seen a little trick that Rachael Ray does where she rolls her parsley, cilantro, and other greens, in paper towels and stores them in the fridge in zipper plastic bags. I did that for a while, and it does work well. I have kept cilantro and parsley for a week or two that way. The problem is if you don't replace the paper towel every few days, you will lose your herbs. There is nothing more depressing, when making a meal, than to grab your herbs and open them up only to find, yellow, wilty, or even black herbs waiting for you. ARG!!

Chicken Caprese Pasta

For some reason I am completely obsessed with caprese anything. I have made Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwiches, Caprese Meatball Subs, and now this Chicken Caprese Pasta. Seriously I get so excited when I come up with another way to incorporate my little obsession into a dish. But who can blame me? How can you go wrong with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese? Add in a protein and BAM deliciousness waiting to happen!!

This actually ended up as one of my refrigerator clean out meals. I had the Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce that I made the other day, some chicken breasts, basil that needed to be used (I will be posting how to store fresh herbs soon), a pint of grape tomatoes, and a nice big ball of fresh mozzarella cheese (it is always so hard to walk away from the fresh mozzarella in the store I really need to learn to make my own). In my head I thought this sounded like a perfect dish. Throw in a little whole gain pasta and WALA dinner is done!

Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

Do you have certain things that you have been meaning to make but just either never get around to it, or are a bit nervous to try? Well, this sauce was one of those things for me. It was on what I call my "Culinary Bucket List" and I was talking about that on my Facebook page the other day. I was surprised to see how many people had similar kinds of lists. 

I have made Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup, and Roasted Tomato Salsa Roja, so I have no idea why homemade tomato sauce seemed so daunting to me. Maybe I thought I would forget how to roast tomatoes? Maybe I was worried I would be disappointed in the outcome? Maybe I though that the ghosts from Italian Grandmothers would haunt me for thinking this non-Italian girl could even come close to good tomato sauce? OK, that last one was a little far, but I do psyche myself out sometimes! 

Manic Monday Party #25

Happy Monday everyone! Wow it is February already? Dang the time just flies. No more football to watch *sigh* but NASCAR is starting soon so we are excited for that to start. But the one thing we can all count on is the terrific food that everyone shares here on Manic Mondays!

Last week again had fabulous posts, you all out do yourselves every week!! Here are the most viewed/voted for dishes from last weeks party.

Hatch Chile Salsa Verde from Red White and Blueberries

Crispy Baked Ranch Wings from Leave a Happy Plate

Taco Wreath from Sweet Heat Chefs

Oh my goodness my mouth was watering just looking at all of the pictures!!

As usual you can link up to any of your favorite posts but since it is February I though the theme of "Red" would be great for a sub category this week. So let's get this weeks party started!

Please make sure to link up the picture to the post not your main blog page
Please add a text link to the party or grab one of my buttons from the right side bar and add it to your post or Party Page if you would like to be featured. Linking between blogs is a great way to drive traffic to our blogs and move us up in the Google ranking!

Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest. I will be tweeting, pinning, and posting your recipes all week long.

Leave up to 3 of your favorite posts, or link up posts that fit in with the weekly subcategory if applicable.

Don't forget to leave me a comment. I love to know who is here and spread the word, the more the merrier!!

Remember to vote for your favorites and please don't forget to click on the other recipes and show them some foodie love too! Make sure to tell them where you saw them!!

Blueberry Pancakes with Greek Yogurt and Lemon

I know I have said that I am not much of a breakfast person. It isn't that I don't enjoy breakfast, I just don't want to eat it at breakfast time. It isn't even that I sleep in because I don't, usually. I just can't think about real food until my coffee has kicked in and my brain is really revved up! But, from a nutritional standpoint, I know that is not the healthiest plan. So I have been trying to come up with breakfast ideas that will get me excited and getaway from the old standby of bacon, eggs, and toast.  

A long time ago I made a recipe from Food Network. I think it was a Bobbi Flay recipe, or was is Giada? Heck I can't remember now. The wonderful side effects of aging, or should I just claim a blond moment? Either way I can't recall who it was. I do however know it was a ricotta pancake with lemon and blueberries and it had a blueberry compote on top along with blueberry syrup. At that time I had blueberry bushes (our old house) so I was specifically looking for a recipe to use up all of those sweet juicy blueberries. This time I was more interested in trying something along the same lines, but using Greek yogurt (my new obsession). So I hit the kitchen and away I went. Kevin was pleasantly surprised when he ended up with breakfast out of the blue!