Chicken Enchilada Pasta

This was the best thing we ate last weekend.  It was amazing!  The chicken was good on its own, but was over the top delicious with the pasta.

I marinated the chicken in a chipotle and greek yogurt mixture.  The chicken was very tender and juicy, and packed a ton of flavor without being spicy.  This marinade would go well with my Pollo Loco recipe as well.  The sauce is a combination of enchilada sauce and Alfredo sauce.  I made my own enchilada sauce, but you can substitute a cup of canned sauce if you don't want to make your own.  We finished the dish off with some green onions and tomatoes.  We both gave this two thumbs up!  This will be a staple at our house!

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Sauce :
1/4 cup of tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp Knorr's Caldo de Tomate
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 1/2 tsp chili powder
4 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cups chicken broth
1 - 1 1/4 cup Alfredo sauce

9 oz refrigerated fettuccine pasta
chopped green onions
chopped tomatoes

Chicken :
Combine the ingredients for the marinade and pour over chicken.  Refrigerate for several hours up to overnight.  Grill chicken until done, 12-15 minutes.

Sauce :
While chicken is cooking, boil pasta according to package directions and drain.  In a medium sauce pan, whisk together all ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Toss pasta and sauce together.

To serve, place 1/4 of pasta in a bowl or plate.  Top with grilled chicken and chopped green onions and tomatoes. 

Ribbons of yellow squash and green

Ribbons of yellow squash and green zucchini take center stage on a bed of mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette.

 The other components are, sliced mini heirloom tomatoes of various colors, red and orange pepper strips, purple onion,

peas and grilled corn, ( which I grilled inside) finished off with dots of creamy goat cheese and crunchy hazelnuts and a drizzle more vinaigrette.

Crispy bread and a tall iced tea and your set for the perfect summer meal, of course feel free to add in some grilled chicken for a little heartier fare, but I was totally satisfied.

There are no exact ingredients here just add in as much as you want, you can’t go wrong. I layered a platter with mixed greens to start. For mine I used 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash, the ribbons were made with a vegetable peeler.  It was way too hot to go outside and grill so I put 2 ears of corn in the microwave for 5 minutes then threw them on my grill pan inside to give them a good char.

It looks beautiful spread out on a big platter because of all the colors, so keep this in mind for your July 4th cookout, it would work great as a side.


Let’s play the “I’ve Never” game.
I’ve never been skydiving.
I’ve never been in jail.
I’ve never had a BLT sandwich.
Now it’s your turn…
Should I be scared of your answers…because I kind of am.

Although I’ve never had one, I love bacon, lettuce, and tomato so what could go wrong. This may not be the traditional BLT sandwich with bread but the tortilla wrapped version makes for a tasty sandwich. I know it’s not brain science but the idea of these is great on so many levels.

I’m obsessed with all things mini lately too so I looked for the smallest flour tortillas I could find for mini wraps. These would be great for a big gathering where you want to make something more substantial than a dip but don’t want to commit to something bigger.

Ingredients :
6 (6 inch) small flour tortillas
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
about 2 1/2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
10-12 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions :
In a small bowl combine tomatoes and mayonnaise. Spread about 1/4 cup of the mixture onto each tortilla. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Layer lettuce and bacon on top.
Roll tightly and slice in half at a diagonal.
Secure with a toothpick for easy eating. Store in the refrigerator.

Street Food Inspired Appetizers

In the first part of this post on Thai appetizers inspired by street food, I made crispy fried shrimp with sweet chili sauce and Thai curry puffs. The curry puff recipe came from Supatra Johnson’s book Crying Tiger: Thai Recipes from the Heart. Crying Tiger also provided the inspiration for the next set of appetizers.

Shrimp on Lemongrass Skewers :
This appetizer looks impressive but is easy to make. It’s simply curried paste of shrimp wrapped around stalks of lemongrass, then grilled or broiled. The lemongrass perfume flavors the shrimp, and the tender lemongrass centers are edible afterwards. This recipe would also work with chicken or pork, though sweet shrimp meat marries well with the light curry flavor.

In a food processor or blender, pulse together:
1 ½ lb shrimp, without shells
1 egg
2 Tbl tapioca starch
1 Tbl palm sugar
1 Tbl green curry paste
2 Tbl fish sauce
1/3 cup coconut cream

Miang Kam :
The last recipe I cooked from Crying Tiger is Miang Kam – leaves filled with pungent Thai herbs, dried shrimp, and coconut.  Some people might look askance at biting into a leaf stuffed with whole chunks of lime, skin included, raw ginger and shallots, dried shrimp, and pieces of fresh chilies, but sweet and savory sauce mellows and balances these intense flavors, while each taste develops and then explodes on your tongue. People who are shy of chili can leave it out, and just fill each leaf with their favorite ingredients.

Arrange a plate with piles of :
1/3 cup roasted, shredded coconut
2 Tbl finely diced ginger
¼ cup diced Thai chilies (or jalapeno or bell peppers, if Thai chilies are unavailable or just too intimidating)
1/3 cup finely diced lime (or lemon), skin included
1/3 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
1/3 cup diced shallots or onions
2 Tbl dried shrimp
Make the sauce by roasting:

1 tsp minced galangal
in a foil packet, over a burner, for 1-2 minutes.

Combine in a saucepan and heat:
½ cup water
1/3 cup tamarind concentrate
½ cup palm sugar
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 tsp salt
roasted galangal

Zucchini Lasagna with Pistachio Pesto

This is the first raw food dish that I have prepared when I started making raw food for a client of mine few years ago.

The flavors and textures are all familiar. The quality and the freshness of the ingredients are the most important elements.

Seasonal and colorful, the zucchini lasagna make a great summer dish.

Cashew cheese :
1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups cashews, soaked for 2 hours
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup water as needed

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 2 hours
4 larges tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic
¼ cup finely minced red onion
½ cup fresh basil leaves
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
2 teaspoons sea salt
Pinch of cayenne

2 cups fresh basil leaves
½ cup pistachios
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and slice lengthwise using a mandoline
3 medium tomatoes, sliced

Low Carb Meatballs alla Parmigiana

The nice thing is, they are delicious plain as well, so they make a great finger-friendly lunch on the go.  I like to make a bunch and freeze them in bags of 3 – 5 meatballs.  If I know I’m going to be out, I can grab a bag out of the freezer and toss it into my purse or cooler bag.  A couple of hours later they are thawed, and I can just reach in and eat them, even if I’m driving in my car.  It’s a great alternative to the drive thru, and minimizes your chances of grabbing something that will wreak havoc on your diet or digestive system simply because you’re starving and desperate.

Still, my favorite way to eat them is to bake them in any low carb marinara sauce with a gooey topping of mozzarella cheese on top.  It’s hearty and satisfying and perfectly low carb.  Since even homemade or sugar free jarred marinara sauce does have some carbs though, I spoon about a tablespoon over each meatball, which makes it easier to keep track of my nutrition stats.  Any more than that gets wasted in the bottom of the pan anyway.  Same goes with the cheese – you can shred it and dump it on, but most of it will melt into a puddle anyway, so I just slice it and put a piece on top of each meatball.  Then I bake it until bubbly.  You can also microwave it if you’re short on time, you just won’t get the nice brown color on the cheese.  But doesn’t it look purty???

The secret to the tenderness of these meatballs is parmesan cheese, almond flour and water added to the mix.  The almond flour bulks up the meatball, the cheese adds flavor and more fat, and the water creates steam when heated, which puffs them up and keeps them tender and juicy.  But don’t take my word for it, give them a try and see for yourself!  And do be sure to let me know how they come out – especially if you are someone’s Italian grandmother!!  ;)

For the meatballs
1.5lbs ground beef (80/20)
2 Tbl fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup almond flour
2 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup warm water
For the Parmigiana
1 cup marinara sauce
4 oz mozzarella cheese

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form into 2″ meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 20 minutes OR fry in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Pro-tip – try frying in bacon grease if you have any – it adds another level of flavor. Frying produces the golden brown color shown in the photos above.
For the Parmigiana
Place the cooked meatballs in an oven safe dish. Spoon approximately 1 Tbl sauce over each meatball. Cover with approximately 1/4 oz of mozzarella cheese each. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 20 minutes (40 minutes if meatballs are frozen) or until heated through and the cheese is golden. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Approx nutrition info per “naked” meatball: 121 cals, 8g fat, 1.5g net carbs, 11g protein

Approx nutrition info per meatball parmigiana: 151 cals, 9g fat, 2.5g net carbs, 12g protein

Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice

1 C long-grain brown rice (I used Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice, but any long-grain rice will work.
4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed, cap end cut off and diced, and seeds removed
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
2 links (about 8 ounces) turkey Sweet Italian Sausage (or other sausage of your choice. Use diced mushrooms instead of sausage for vegetarian version.)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Chocolate Coconut Scones

Hi there! This is Emily from Jelly Toast here to share with you some incredibly addictive Chocolate Coconut Scones. These scones are packed with sweet coconut and dark chocolate then topped with a coconut glaze and a sprinkle of toasted coconut.

Besides being mouthwateringly good, these fit perfectly into my goals for the New Year. After years of cold cereal, I am attempting to kick my breakfasts up a notch in flavor, but also eat a bit more mindfully than I did over the holidays.

Cliché, I know, but it’s true. I need to be better because frankly, I don’t want to have to go buy all new jeans in a month. Luckily, these decadent coconut scones have only 3 Tablespoons of butter in them, and are made with white whole wheat flour. So, while this is not a recipe for a salad, you can feel a little less guilty about eating something that tastes like a Mounds candy bar for breakfast.

I was inspired to make this chocolate and coconut studded breakfast treat by one of my all-time favorite desserts: chocolate dipped coconut macaroons. When I was little, my dad would frequently commute up to Ann Arbor and at the end of the day would return home bearing a giant white bakery box full of baseball sized coconut macaroons dipped in deep, dark chocolate. They were my absolute favorite and now I can never see or eat a coconut macaroon without thinking about the ones that my dad brought home.

I wanted these scones to be very reminiscent of those childhood macaroons, so I started with my favorite light chocolate chip scone recipe and packed it full of coconut goodness: Coconut milk, sweet coconut, a coconut glaze and toasted coconut. The results were incredible and my family inhaled every single one. I am just glad that I bought two cans of coconut milk, so I will be making these again very soon. My breakfast has never tasted so sweet.

For the Scones
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup of sweetened flake coconut
2 Tablespoon light coconut milk (for brushing on top before baking)
For the Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 (plus a few drops more if needed) tablespoons light coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut, toasted
2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips (optional)

How To: Homemade Gnocchi

Long before I started this blog, I was obsessed with cooking shows. I watched them all the time, and was always eager to try the recipes and techniques I saw demonstrated. Of course, I had no kitchen skills at the time, so there were quite a few recipe flops and disasters. Homemade gnocchi was actually one of the first things I tried to make from scratch and to say it was an epic fail would be putting it nicely :) It looked SO easy on tv, but in practice, not so much. That was over 4 years ago, and I thought it might be time to finally tackle gnocchi again. I don't remember which recipe I used the first time, and there are a ton of them out there, but I turned to this one I flagged in an issue of Cook's Illustrated at the end of last year. Their recipes rarely disappoint me so I figured this would give me the best chance of succeeding.

And what do you know, it worked! If you've never had gnocchi, they are little dumplings made from just a few ingredients - here it's potatoes, flour, salt and an egg. The egg isn't traditional, but I think it helps bind the dough together, making it easier to work with, and also tenderizes the gnocchi. These are light, delicate gnocchi with lots of potato flavor, and served with a brown butter sauce they are such a special treat. I think they'd be great with pesto too, or even a red sauce. You really can't go wrong!

Day Terrarium by Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely

A terrarium that you’ve assembled would make a great Mother’s Day gift, but if the lucky recipient enjoys gardening or crafting, you could also consider giving her all of the components to make her own. I’ll show you how I put mine together below. I have two young kids, so I wanted to add some color and sparkle to my terrarium. The billy buttons are one of my favorite elements too, because I think they look a little like Seuss trees in a landscape.

The project can be completed from start to finish (including clean up) in less than an hour. You’ll need the following:

• Glass Terrarium
• rocks and stones as filler
• rocks and stones as decoration
• activated charcoal
• potting soil
• plants (ferns and mosses)
• preserved moss
• billy buttons (Craspedia)

How to Make a Terrarium :
Start with a clean and dry glass vessel. Add a layer of rocks along the bottom for drainage, about an inch deep.

Next add a thin layer of charcoal to keep your terrarium’s environment healthy and mold-free. A layer of soil comes next, though I added a layer of small rocks first for a little more visual interest.

Be sure to leave enough room for plants when adding the soil, and keep the leaves away from the glass. If they touch the sides, the condensation could lead to mold or rot.

Add a little more dirt around the plants to create an even, level surface. You could stop there, but this is where you get to add the fun stuff. I chose a hunk of rose quartz and a pink agate slice, along with some pyrite (fool’s gold) and a few polished stones. I also included some billy button stems, which should dry nicely and retain their color and form.

Place the terrarium in a spot where it will get indirect light, give your terrarium a light watering, and replace the lid if there is one. If you see condensation starting to form at any point, open it up and let it air out a bit. If the plants are looking a little sad and droopy, they probably need more water. It should be fairly maintenance free, save for some occasional pruning to keep growth in check.

Make a borders for your flower beds with edging tiles

Dress up the borders of your flowerbeds with these handmade edging tiles. Edging serves several purposes when added to a planting bed: keeping adjacent lawn at bay and reducing mowing and trimming time. But a decorative border, like the one shown here, adds an element of artistic flair all year round.

Salsa Chicken (Slow Cooker)

I know this dish probably doesn't look that appetizing but you have trust me on this one. In fact, I think you should bookmark this page if you like the following: chicken, Mexican flavors and your slow-cooker. This is the very popular (at least in the food blog world) SALSA CHICKEN!

Who knew chicken breasts + can of cream of chicken soup+ taco seasonings + sour cream could be so good. I know I sure didn't. I had seen this recipe so many times but it just did not sound that appealing. Of course, everyone raved about it, hence it's popularity.

Well, I'm so glad I tried it too b/c it really is so tasty....and easy!! If you have already made this dish, please feel free to leave your review below. THANKS!

Ingredients :
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (I used the cream of chicken)
1 cup salsa
1 package taco seasoning (I used 1 Tbsp of my homemade taco seasoning)
1 cup sour cream
cilantro, for serving (optional) (I also added a little shredded cheddar-jack, black beans and scallion on top)

Directions :
Put chicken, soup, and salsa in slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over everything. Cook on low for 6 hours. If shredding the chicken, pull the breasts out and shred; return back to slow cooker. Stir in sour cream and heat just until everything is combined.

Skinny Buffalo Burger Quesadilla

100% grass-fed buffalo burgers with melted cheddar jack cheese and pico de gallo wedged in between two whole wheat tortillas.

This was inspired by a lunch I had at Applebee's, although this sandwich is far leaner! Sure, you can make this with lean beef, turkey or even use veggie burgers, but I wanted a fun way to introduce my first buffalo recipe on Skinnytaste.

Did you know that 100% grass-fed meat is leaner than grain-fed meat? The benefits of eating wild buffalo are that it's hormone-free and antibiotic-free, it tastes just like beef only sweeter and it's much leaner. Because the meat is so lean, you have to cook it for less time than you would a fattier ground beef burger or it will become dry and overcooked.

You can make the pico de gallo yourself, but I cheated and used a pre-made organic brand for convenience. Look for small fajita sized whole wheat tortillas, I used La Banderita which were 2 points plus for two tortillas and I actually took a scissor and trimmed it a bit smaller to fit my burger better, but that's totally optional!

1 lb 100% lean grass-fed ground buffalo
1 cup pico de gallo
1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar jack cheese (Sargento)
8 small whole wheat flour tortillas, cut smaller if desired (La Banderita)
spray oil
salt and fresh pepper

Pepperoni Pizza Loaf Recipe

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed and raised
2 eggs
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese + more for topping
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp powdered ranch dressing
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Colby/Monteray cheddar blend)
2 big slices of pepper jack cheese (can substitute shredded)
14 pepperoni slices (more if desired)
Other pizza topping of your choice.

Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes

Ingredients :
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken breasts diced
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon of  dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 (10 oz) cans Pillsbury biscuits
Directions :
1 . Preheat your oven to 400.
2 . In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, cream of chicken soup, frozen veggies, cheese, herbs and spices.
3 . Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin and place the Pillsbury biscuits into each cup, pressing into the bottom and up the sides.
4 . Evenly spoon the pot pie mixture into each biscuit cup. Slide into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Check at the 12 minute mark.
5 . Let rest for about 3 minutes and dig in!

Summer Wreaths

Our summer tag sale is just a week away (yikes!) and I'm trying to tie up loose ends. That includes making a few summer wreaths. For our first few sales, I always made a seasonal wreath for the front and back doors. They were purely for decoration and to say ... welcome to our little house on Main Street!

Well much to my surprise, people kept asking to buy them. So now I make a new batch of wreaths for each sale. It's a nice break from painting and for some reason, I find it very relaxing!

I tend to like simple wispy wreaths with lots of greenery. And since it's summer, I made a few with seashells.

I love making bows and I was excited to find this white burlap ribbon!

We've been getting thunderstorms almost every day and the skies cleared yesterday afternoon just in time to get a few pictures.

Did you notice how they look like a matching pair? Well that's because they are headed to a wedding! They are a custom order to hang on a pair of dark wood double doors at a church! I brought them inside to hang on my hutch to see how they will look together.

My instructions were simple - burlap bows and yellow wildflowers. Other than that, just pick whatever looked good together.

They will have to travel quite a distance, so I stitched the ends of the bows - no fraying allowing this time around.

I added some pussy willow because I knew the wedding colors were yellow and gray. And after I finished them, the mother of the bride told me that the only other flowers at the church will be pots of ferns. I was so excited that I had used ferns as part of the greenery!

DIY Garden Stone

Charlotte Bladh wrote this great article for the magazine, Allt Om Tradgard, Sweden’s largest garden journal. The garden stone is a great way to personalize your back or front yard and it’s also a simple, enjoyable weekend project. Read more about it in Charlotte’s English translation blog, Hemmariket.

She worked on this project with photographer, Anna Evenius. She does beautiful photography which you can see on her blog, Foto: Anna Evenius.

I’m looking forward to seeing more collaborative efforts from these two very creative ladies.

how to grow sweet potato plants

Sweet potatoes in the U.S. are grown mostly in the South. They are planted in the spring by "slips." These are the small rooted pieces of the vine that grow from the "eyes" or buds of the potato.

How to root a sweet potato for planting :
1 . First, stick 3-4 toothpicks around the center of the sweet potato.
2 . Place it in the glass. the toothpicks should rest of the end of the glass holding the sweet potato up so it is not touching the bottom of the glass.
3 . Fill your glass up with water so about 1/3 to 1/4 of the sweet potato is submerged in the water.
4 . Anywhere from a few days to a week or two you should start to see roots sprout from the submerged part of the sweet potato.
5 . After a while longer, you should see stems (and if you leave it long enough, leaves sprouting out of the top.)
6 . Keep it in a warm sunny window and keep adding water as needed.
7 . Once you have a good amount of white roots established, you can leave it in a container of water or plant your potato in some soil. Sweet potatoes do well in all types of soil.

How to Grow Cuttings from Established Plants

1 . Choose the plants you wish to grow from a cutting. For example, a herb such as rosemary or lavender, a flower such as roses or any other plant. However, be aware that not all plants will grow from a cutting; a good gardening guide will clarify for you whether or not a plant can be produced through a cutting. If not, you might surprise yourself with what you can achieve just through trial and error and not being too fussed if the plant doesn't take.

2 . Using sharp garden secateurs (pruners), snip off shoots from the plant. Choose reasonably new but mature growth from the parent plant. Choose a length for the cutting. Generally, cut about 8 to 10cm/3 to 5 inches for perennial and 15cm-30cm/6 to 12 inches for shrubs. Since the size varies according to the plant, you might need to practice some trial and error again. When cutting, unless advised otherwise by advice on the particular plant, cut at a 30 degree angle, leaving the cutting with a point.

How to grow strawberry in an old garden boots

Fill the boot with newspaper to keep them sturdy while cutting. Drill holes into the sole of the boot for drainage, and then use the craft knife to cut two holes in the sides of the boot. The holes should be the size of the plant’s root ball. Remove the newspaper.

Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the boot, making sure it gets into the toes. Fill with potting soil up to the first hole.

Carefully loosen the root ball, and then insert a plant through the first hole. The crown (the top of the roots) should be level with the soil surface. Fill with more soil to the second hole and add the second plant. Leave a deep hole at the top of the boot, then insert third strawberry plant.

Rub Vaseline on the outside of the boot and add a layer of eggshells to the top of the soil to prevent snails and slugs from getting to the leaves and fruits.

Place your strawberry boot planter in a sunny spot. A sunny front door, back door or patio is a perfect location, as birds are less likely to go there and pick at the fruits.

Be careful not to overwater or the plants will rot. Feed the plants with tomato fertilizer every one or two weeks until they begin to fruit.
You will need : 
  1. rubber boots
  2. strawberry plants (3 per boot)
  3. newspaper
  4. drill
  5. craft knife
  6. Vaseline
  7. clean, crushed eggshells
  8. tomato fertilizer
Steps :
  1. Cut Holes Into The Boot
  2. Fill The Boots With Soil
  3. Add The Plants
  4. Keep Pests Away
  5. Place And Water

Garlic Beer Marinated Chicken

I still had some beer in the fridge from the Beer-B-Q chicken we made for Labor Day, so I decided to try another beer marinated chicken. I made this marinade an Italian marinade with lots of garlic and Italian seasoning. My favorite flavors!

I let the chicken marinate overnight to get maximum flavor in the chicken. A quick tip on grilling chicken - pound the chicken to an even thickness before marinating. It really helps the chicken cook evenly and not dry out.

As you can see, we grilled a lot of chicken. We ate it for lunch all week. It was super yummy! It was really juicy and packed full of flavor. We both gave this chicken two thumbs up!

12 oz beer
6 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 lb boneless chicken

Whisk together beer, lemon juice, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Pour over chicken and refrigerate a few hours up to overnight.

Remove chicken from marinade and grill until done, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Weeknight Pizza Dough

Pizza is probably my all-time favorite food.  I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and never get tired of it.  I don't care if it is homemade, frozen, delivery, cheap or expensive.  I'll eat it (as long as it only has meat and cheese on it).

I try and limit my pizza intake to only one night a week.  Not for health reasons, just so Chicken Legs doesn't get tired of it.  I usually buy a Chef Boyardee pizza kit (oh, the horror!) and add cheese and toppings.  We both really like it.  I really like it because it is quick and making pizza dough takes too long for a weeknight.  Well, not anymore.  I found this recipe and it takes less than 20 minutes - mixing and rising.  That is perfect!  We like thin crust pizza, so I only used half of the dough.  I used the extra dough for garlic knots.  This will be our regular pizza night recipe from now on.

2 1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup hot water (120-130°)
1 Tbsp. Rapid Rise or Bread Machine yeast
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 475°.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add hot water and olive oil. Mix for five minutes and then let the dough rest 10 minutes.  Roll out dough onto a piece of parchment paper (I trace my pizza stone onto parchment before placing it in the oven as a guide).   Prick dough with fork and add sauce, cheese and toppings.  Transfer pizza to hot pizza stone. (I use a flat cookie sheet to move the dough to the stone) Bake at 475° for  12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

RECYCLED HANGING from an old bottles

My hubby’s parents were in town this weekend to help celebrate Sam’s big birthday. We had a blast watching him shovel cake into his mouth. Seriously, the boy is a natural. And when my in-laws visit there are three things that must be in the fridge: Diet Coke (caffeine free), French Vanilla coffee creamer (coffee goes without saying), and chardonnay. With those in place we can all survive the weekend with three very loud, very energetic children who also happen to be early risers. We tend to consume quite a bit of coffee on their visits (ok, wine too!) and I’ve been saving my creamer bottles for a fun planter project.

Rip off the outside plastic and cut the bottle on a diagonal with an Exacto knife. (The Exacto cut more smoothly and evenly than scissors.) Clean up any edges and then paint. You will probably need 2-3 coats to get good coverage. I tried painting with chalkboard paint because drawing designs on the bottle sounded like fun. Yeah, that part was a bit of a craft fail. The paint ended up coming right off when I tried to write on it. Bright colors work better.

When the paint is dry and you are ready to plant, start by poking a hole in the bottom of the container for drainage. Fill halfway with dirt and add your plant. Then poke two holes on each side of the container. You want the holes to follow the line of the bottle (so one is higher than the other) rather than putting them side by side. Then string neon rope through holes and knot at the top. Don’t stress if your holes aren’t in the same place on either side – you can level it out when you tie the knot on top.

Creamy Chicken Taco's

I actually found this recipe via Pinterest, but when I saw it was from Jamie, I knew I would try it immediately. I've made this dish several times now, my family are big fans! We've used it for tacos, nachos and a yummy taco soup (I will post this recipe in the coming weeks, it's a great way to use up any left over taco filling). I'm also going to try using it as a filling for enchiladas.

5 FROZEN boneless chicken breast
1 1/2 c. salsa (mild or medium)
2 (10.75 oz.) can's condensed cream of chicken soup
2 1/2 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
(pure syrup is best, but regular works too)
1 tsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. sour cream

Line the inside of your crock-pot with a liner or spray with non-stick spray.  Place the frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock.
In a medium size mixing bowl combine the salsa, soup, taco seasoning, maple syrup and lime juice. Mix well.
Pour over the chicken breasts.
Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours.
At the end of the cooking time, shred the chicken between two forks, then stir in the sour cream and butter. Cover and cook for 1 more hour.
Serve in soft or hard shell tacos, over tortilla chips or use in taco salads. Be sure and include all of your favorite toppings.

Making Stepping Stones

Hello! It’s Roberta…again. This is me and my little 5 yr. old bundle of love. I love to cook, run, and be a Mom! My husband is the greatest Dad, and husband EVER and well life couldn’t get much better. Since life is so great, let’s preserve a little of that happiness by making memories with stepping stones!

Home made stepping stones are a great way to personalize your garden, walkway, or anywhere! These stepping stones make great gifts and are also great keepsakes if they are made using kid’s hand prints or footprints.

While you can run to a craft store and buy a kit for around $20.00, if you gather together your own supplies you will save money on your stepping stone projects!  The main supplies you need to make a stepping stone is a mold, cement or concrete, and items to decorate or embellish it.
The first thing you should do is to protect your work surface. Lay down some newspaper, or an old tablecloth. Weather permitting, you can make these outside!
Set your mold on your work surface. I used clear, plastic planter saucers, and they worked perfect! If you are brave enough to try a cake pan or other household item, you should try coating them with a heavy coat of cooking spray or petroleum jelly.

Now, you are ready to mix up the concrete. Follow the manufacturers directions on the bag of concrete you are using. I used a bag of Quikrete, which really had no specific directions. I discovered that a mixture of 5 parts concrete to 1 part water worked well. Your mixture will vary depending on what kind of concrete you use, but the wet mixture should have the consistency of thick brownie batter.

Lasagna Rolls

Thank you Budget Bytes for this awesome lasagna recipe! For some reason, the idea of rolling the pasta just makes it 10 times more appetizing. Beth made this vegetarian friendly with spinach, but I suppose you could also add your other favorite lasagna ingredients. Go check out the recipe! She has a huge budget friendly recipe index, including the cost to make per serving. Also, if you want to keep up to date on her simple, quick, and satisfying meals, check out her facebook here.

Mango Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

Sometimes I wonder if the best preparation for having kids isn't having a husband.

They do messy things that result in getting very dirty.

They don’t much like to pick up after themselves.

They take great joy in pestering you.

They look at you with pleading puppy-dog eyes to fix them a sandwich because "you make is so much better, though."

And they don’t like to eat their vegetables.

Or wait... maybe this is just my husband?

In any case, Mr. Vittles has a rather short list of acceptable veggies, especially when it comes to the cooked variety.

So for that very reason, I tried to sneak the zucchini into this dish before he got home from work.  But as luck would have it, he walked in just as I as I grating it.

Warily eyeballing the pile of vegetables, he demanded, “What’s all that green stuff?”

“Just bell peppers,” I said (knowing full well that was definitely not the green stuff he was referring to).

“No," he persisted, "the other green stuff.”

Argh!  Caught red-handed.

(Or green-handed, as it may be?)

“It’s zucchini,” I admitted, and the look on his face told me that no matter how delicious this meal might end up being, for him it would be completely tainted by the thought of this foreign ‘green’ vegetable lurking in every bite.

But during dinner, I still asked my usual - "How is it?"

And he replied, “Alright."

Then, "It tastes kind of weird though.”

(Wait for it...)

“I think the zucchini is ruining it.”


Lastly, he threw in "And I don't like mango."

Ok, ok!  I get it.  I'm waving the white flag,  'Don't ever make this again,' is what you're really trying to say.

Which is a shame, because I rather liked it.

To his credit, he did eat it that night, and also for lunch the next day… but quite begrudgingly.

Thankfully, however, the recipe is easily adaptable.  So if any of your family members don't like certain ingredients, or if you prefer a more 'standard' enchilada sauce, then by all means - do some experimenting.

Make a Beautiful Pussy Willow Wreath

Make a Beautiful Pussy Willow Wreath

You'll Need:
48 pussy willow branches, each approximately 4 feet long
Wire cutters
Paper-covered 26-gauge florist's wire
 6-inch-diameter grapevine wreath base