Fresh Homemade Pico de Gallo + More Great Mexican Dishes for Cinco de Mayo

It is funny. I look forward to Cinco de Mayo almost as much as I look forward to Thanksgiving!! Growing up in San Diego it was a huge holiday and all of the food, drink, and festivities associated with it were so much fun. There would be street fairs with music and dancing and tons and TONS of fabulous food. 

Now I live in a little town in Western Washington. Cinco de Mayo celebrations here? Not so much. So I have to take it upon myself to make the party, or at least the food right? So this year I started thinking about what I wanted to make for the blog. You all know I have a ton of Mexican or Mexican inspired dishes here (see list below) so I wanted something fresh. The first thing that popped into my head was Pico de Gallo. I mean how can you get any fresher than that? I can't tell you how many gallons of this stuff I have eaten in my lifetime!! Now I make it at home, and the best part of it is, the longer it sits in your fridge, the better it gets!!! 

So grab a Corona and some fresh chips and enjoy!!

Manic Monday Party #32

Welcome back to Manic Monday! How has the weather been in your neck of the woods? We have had some good and some bad. Washington just can't seem to make up it's mind, which is usual. But I did get some herbs and veggies planted, with more coming later. I just can't wait to have my own fresh veggies and herbs to work with!!

OK enough about me, let's get down to the features from last weeks party.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake from A Peek Into My Paradise

Lemon Cape Cod from Who Needs a Cape?

Nut Brow Ale Beer Bread from James Everett What's Cooking at Home

The Secret to the Best Blueberry Muffins from It's a Lovely Life

What a wonderful line up!!! I want to thank everyone that shared last week, it was a fantastic party! 

But now it is time to kick off a new party and I am excited as ever to see what you all will share. I have been pinning and sharing like crazy and so many people love seeing what you bring!!

Please make sure to read the party guidelines:

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 make sure to 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

Comments have been closed for this post thanks to spammers (Gee thanks guys!), but please connect with me on FacebookTwitter, or Google+.

Warm Potato and Green Bean Salad for #SRC

This month for The Secret Recipe Club I was assigned Without Adornment. I always get so excited when I get my assignment. I love finding new blogs and then browsing through all of their posts. I was extra excited when I started going through Bean's blog. She has so many gorgeous photos I almost forgot I was there to find a recipe!! I was tempted to make some sweets because she has so many tempting ones on her blog. But since we are starting our new work out schedule and wanting to drop a few pounds, I figured that would be a bit counter productive!

When I stumble across this Warm Potato and Green Bean Salad I immediately knew this was the recipe I had to make. I love the fact that is a warm salad. No worries about a salad getting warm once it has been put out for everyone. Plus it is so versatile. It can be along side everything from steak to burgers.

My photo didn't come out as good as Bean's but I sure wish we could have scratch and sniff pictures on our blogs!!! This smelled so good and tasted even better. Plus it was just as good the next day! This one is a keeper for sure!!

Creamy Mashed Purple Potatoes

I ran across purple potatoes several years ago but never tried them. I thought they were cool, but I guess I was little off put by the color and worried they might not taste like a regular potato. Then, while I was menu planning the other day, I wanted to come up with something as a side that was different from anything I have ever done. I mean I love asparagus, green beans, broccoli, etc. but I was just feeling bored. BING the purple potatoes popped into my head. I hadn't been paying attention to see if they had been available at the store lately, but I crossed my fingers and away I went. I must have had an angel on my shoulder because when I got there they had just enough for me to make this dish!! A sign maybe? This dish was meant to be made!

You should have seen Kevin's face when I brought them home. He kept peering over my shoulder as I was chopping and boiling them. I guess he was worried about how they would taste too. I just figured I would treat them like I would any other potato.I have to admit though, they are kind of cool to work with. They  bring out the little kid in you. Just something about the strange bright color I guess.

Kevin even jumped on the band wagon and took over when it came to mashing them. So we both go to "play".

The verdict? We really liked them. Unfortunately I am afraid plain old white potatoes aren't going to work for me for a while. I want Sesame Street colors on my plate!! I will say though, the next time I make these I am going to add some roasted garlic like I do to my regular potatoes from time to time. But this was was so creamy and good!

Creamy Mashed Purple Potatoes 
makes 4 small side servings

1 pound purple potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low fat/fat free milk (or enough to get the potatoes to the desired constancy)
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes to a large pot and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook about 12 minutes, or until a fork easily inserts into the potatoes. Drain and return to the hot pot, roughly mash the potatoes and then add the yogurt and chives. Mash a it more and add milk as needed. Adjust seasoning. Serve warm, topped with chopped chives.


Mini Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders

For some reason I am on an appetizer kick lately. Maybe it is because I have had several requests for appetizers, I don't know, but I am on a rampage trying to make an appetizer every day or so. This was one of the first ones I wanted to make (although we ate these just as a meal) because my son's girlfriend's Grandmother made them for a party we had a while back. 

Now mind you, when our families get together there is a TON of food available. All of us (2 Grandmothers, her Dad and Mom, and me) love to cook. They are fantastic on all sorts of appetizers and nibbles, and I tend to go for the side dishes and drinks. The guys of course like to handle the grill *insert grunting like Tim the Toolman Taylor*!

So choosing one of the appetizers to start with was tough, seriously tough. I decided to go with these Ham and Cheese Sliders because we were watching NASCAR and they just seemed like a perfect little bite to go along with some cold beer. We actually just made a meal of them and I am happy to announce that if you put them in a ziplock baggie in the fridge, you can reheat them in the microwave the next day and they are just as good!!

I will admit these aren't the healthiest thing in the world, and I really couldn't do much to lighten them up, but once in a while it is OK to just go for it!!

Get Healthy with Bestowed Giveaway {Product Review}

Some of you know, but many of you don't, that I am trying to get myself into a healthier routine. Food blogging can be hazardous to your waistline, and I  have been blogging now for a year almost 2 years and 15 pounds. 

I finally decided to do something about it, so I have begun a workout routine and am trying to eat healthier. I still eat what I normally eat, but have been trying to focus more on snacking. I tended to just grab whatever was handy when the in between meals munchies hit. Too busy writing, cooking, whatever.

That was why I was super excited when I was asked to try Bestowed

Bestowed is a service that sends you a box every month containing 5+ nutritional and lifestyle products, from several different brands, directly to your home. The service was designed by Heather Bauer, a nationally recognized nutritional expert. So you know I couldn't wait to get all of my goodies!!

I had just come back from a run when I saw the box from Bestowed on my doorstep.

I didn't know what to expect.

Then I opened it. WOW is all I could say. It was cram packed with tons of healthy goodies.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Kind Healthy Grains Oats and Honey Clusters.

I ran, not walked to my fridge to get my Greek yogurt and topped it with these tasty crunchy little babies!

 It was the perfect after workout snack!! I loved it and now I am addicted!

But that is not all that was inside. 

Here is the run down......

Hot Chilli Mama Oloves

And last but certainly not least is a gift card to Through this you can download workout routines directly to your digital device so you have a workout literally at your finger tips!

In the box you will find information about each items too. 

If you would like to sign up for monthly orders you can do it and receive $5 off your order by using the  code 5OFFBSTOWED01

But how would you like to win 1 month free from Bestowed? Seriously, you could win a package like mine for free! Just enter below and you can do just that.
(Sorry US residents only)

Disclosure: I received a selection of products to sample but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Manic Monday Party #31

Hello and welcome back to another Manic Monday. I know it has been a few weeks since I have had one, but there have been so many things going on I just couldn't get it planned. I guess I was having a Manic life instead of just a Manic Monday!! Enough about me, let's get to the features. We have a tie so you get a few extra this week!

Peanut Butter Easter Egg from Modern Christian Homemaker

Just Like Nature Valley’s Oats ‘n Honeys Bars from Half Baked Harvest

And for a little fun......
DIY Water Bottle Lava Lamp from Spend with Pennies

We had over 70 entries last party, which was the most there have ever been. I hope we can beat that this week!! Make sure to invite your friends. The more the merrier!!

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

Comments have been closed for this post thanks to spammers (Gee thanks guys!), but please connect with me on FacebookTwitter, or Google+.

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Sauce

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Sauce - Grilling makes everything taste better and these Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Sauce are proof of that!

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Sauce from

I don't know how you feel about artichokes. I mean, if you think you can have feelings for a vegetable. But I can tell you I want to marry one! I think it would be a toss up between artichokes and asparagus really, so who ever brings the biggest ring wins I guess. Am I crazy? Don't answer that! Food just does it for me....obviously right?

When I was growing up my mother always said that she could get me to eat any vegetable under the sun until I went to school and wasn't home for lunches with her, which is when I was supposedly the wonder child vegetable eater. After I began school the only meal I ate at home, with vegetables available for consumption, was dinner. It was, at that point she says, I realized my father (whom I adored...yes I was a Daddy's girl) refused to eat just about any form of vegetable. The only things my Mom could get by him were asparagus and spinach, both canned *yuck* and potatoes in any form, size, or variety. So needless to say they were the only things I would eat as well.

Once I was a bit older my Mom brought home this strange looking green thing. I had never tried or even seen an artichoke. She told she was making them for dinner. I laughed. She made them. I devoured them!! It was right then and there I knew I wanted to marry an artichoke! It wasn't until much later, when I began eating the non-canned version of asparagus, that I started cheating on my beloved artichoke.

Anyway, long crazy story short, I passed my love for artichokes on to my son but not my daughter. Kevin tolerated them so I could indulge occasionally, but he, like my daughter, was not a big fan. That was until I decided to grill them. Oh, trust me, I was getting the usual sighs and grumbles because I was making artichokes for the side veggie. He scoffed at the whole grilling idea. But once those bad boys came off the grill and were topped with the lemon garlic sauce. Well he sang a new tune and joined in my love for the artichoke. But alas, it is too late....... I am marrying it!!

Fried Chicken Cook Off Part 2

I am not sure how many of you have been following along with the "Great Chicken Challenge" between my boyfriend Kevin and I. If you haven't you have missed out on the major smack talk I have gotten from him over who's fried chicken is the best. I of course tossed a little smack of my own, but it was mostly him. I think that is a male thing. They are geared more for battle, I just want to cook. My kids on the other hand had zero problem telling Kevin straight up that he was crazy to even try to compete with my fried chicken. It had been several years since I had made it but they still remembered begging me to make it at least once a week! My son said he would actually take the leftover chicken to school and sell it!! No wonder there were never any leftovers!

Anyway, back to the challenge. Kevin went first and made his version a little over a month ago. You can read all about that here ( Fried Chicken Cook Off Part 1 ), and I had to admit that even with some ingredients you might not expect, I liked his chicken. He also pointed out that his chicken could be made very quickly, spur of the moment dinner kind of thing. Whereas mine needs to be planned ahead so you can marinade the chicken for 4 hours up to overnight. Ok, ok, he has me on that one. Buuuuut we all know that good things take time right? Hehehe see I can give it right back!!

I invited the kids over, like I would have been able to keep them away, and set about the task to make my "famous" fried chicken. I will admit, it takes time, and can be a bit of a messy process, but it makes some dang good crispy friend chicken!!

The verdict? Kevin liked mine but said he likes his better, the kids picked mine hands down, and I of course enjoyed them both. Just call me Switzerland LOL 

Rib-eyes with Garlic Parmesan Crust

As I have mentioned in the past, I am not much of a steak eater. I could be just fine with chicken and fish. But Kevin is my red meat lover. He can only go so long with the chicken and fish diet until that little carnivore in his head goes crazy and demands a nice juicy steak. OK that is fine, but he only like one cut of meat and that is rib-eye. Pricey? Yes. But when it is only once in a while I will splurge and hit our local meat market for a nice thick one. The local grocery store is OK for my chicken and fish, but not his steak I guess, Ppfffttt Seriously though, I do have to admit he is right. I used to tell him there was no difference until I tasted them side by side, there is a huge difference!

OK so he has me on the band wagon. Head to Ray's Meat Market and get some rib-eyes...gotcha! But I get bored with just cooking them with salt, pepper, and some garlic powder. We butt heads on that every time. I like to mix it up once in a while. I  had just made my Pork Tenderloin with Garlic, Parmesan, and Balsamic Vinegar a couple of nights before and he had been skeptical about how that would taste. Then he tasted it, haha he loved it! So I was able to convince him to let me "tinker" with the steaks a bit. I told him if he didn't like it he could just scrape it off, but that he just needed to try a bite. WOW that is what I used to say to my kids when I was trying to get them to try something new. Well they say husbands/boyfriends are just another one of your kids right? Sshhhhh don't let him hear that!

Dark Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting

I have been so nervous to try baking a cake from scratch. I am a wiz at cookies and know my way around a few cupcakes, but the idea of baking a whole cake from scratch made me break out into a cold sweat! 

Oh don't even get me started on my record with making bread from scratch *sigh* 

But we were invited over to my son's girlfriend's parent's house for Easter, and I wanted to bring something special along. They always say not to bother bringing something, but this time I was determined to take something different than anything I have ever done before. So of course I thought cake!

Beer and Brat Mac and Cheese

I know I always talk about trying to make things healthier but there are just times you want a good ol' mac and cheese right? The idea for this one popped into my head when we were shopping. I was picking up some Italian sausage for the Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs and right next to it was Johnsonville's Beer and Brat bratwurst. For whatever reason it just logically turned into a mac and cheese in my head (I know it is a strange place in there sometimes) so I grabbed a package of it and took it back to the cart. When Kevin saw  the package he thought I had grabbed the wrong thing and pointed out that the meatballs would probably taste a little strange made with bratwurst instead of sausage. I paused before I responded just long enough for him to get a strange look on his face as he thought I might actually be planning on making them that way. After giggling a bit I told him it was for a new mac and cheese I wanted to make. Of course this idea he was completely on board with. I mean Guy+Beer+Brats = Happy right?

Wheat Berry Chili from Frontier Soups {Product Review}

As you have heard from me over the last couple of weeks. Today is the Sample Whole Grains Toast at 12 PM EST (9 AM PST). Many of us are trying so hard to incorporate more whole grains into our diets. We know they are good for us and want to eat healthier, but if you are like me you just have no idea where to really start. I mean I have done brown rice and even branched out into quinoa (woohoooo go me!!) but when it comes to much more I am lost. 

That was why I was so happy to receive my box of whole grain sample products from Oldways. There were so many wonderful things to try, I really didn't know where to start. But I was quickly drawn to the Wheat Berry Chili Mix from Frontier Soups. We both love chili, and to be honest I had never heard of wheat berry before. So I figured it would be an adventure!

The mix has everything you need to make a vegetarian chili with options to add other ingredients if you chose. We of course opted to go the non vegetarian way since Kevin can't even tolerate the thought of a vegetarian meal. So I added one of his favorites, Italian seasoned turkey sausage, and one of mine, black beans. I also added some onions and garlic because, well I just couldn't help myself  But these extras are purely a choice I made and not necessary.

I will admit I pulled one of my famous moves and didn't read through the recipe completely before I began cooking. We had plans to go somewhere at a certain time and I figured  an hour and a half would be plenty of time to have the chili ready and eat before we left. WRONG!! When will I learn? Sheesh!! The wheat berries are much like dried beans when it comes to cooking them. They needed to be boiled for 1 hour. Then you mix everything together and cook it for an additional hour. OOPS!! That wasn't going to work. So I boiled them for 1 hour ad then covered them and they soaked overnight. The next day I finished the recipe and I am pleased to say, it came out amazing. I was shocked that Kevin loved it! We topped it off with some fat free Greek yogurt and reduced fat cheddar cheese.......YUM!!! 

Spaghetti with Marinara and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Ever since the kids moved out on their own we have tried to have them over for dinner at least twice a month. Both my son and his girlfriend work nights so we only have a couple of days open that they both have off together, and we have to take turns with her Mom and Dad. I know, I hate sharing. Just kidding I know how hard it is for them. It is the first time either of our "babies" have been out on their own so we miss them like crazy. Although I am very happy because my daughter moved back to Washington from California, so I have both of my kids in the same state.

I always try to make a big meal when they come over so I can send leftovers home with them. You know how kids eat, frozen or fast food, BLEK! I want to get "real" food in them as much as possible! So for this night I decided a nice pot of Spaghetti and Meatballs would be great. But I didn't want to make just regular meatballs. I saw the tubs of the little mozzarella balls when I was at the store and got the idea to stuff the meatballs with mozzarella. Anytime you can add cheese to something my kids are happy campers!