Friday, September 28, 2012

The only BISCOTTI I have ever liked

I just came from my first MOPS (Mother of Preschools) meeting, and I am so excited!  If you have never heard of MOPS it is basically an opportunity to sit and talk with a group of women, while the little ones are playing in classrooms near by.  I know, right? That alone is reason to sign up!  But on top of that we get to listen to amazing speakers, eat a yummy breakfast (which of course I can't wait to bake for) as we share, discuss, and encourage each other in becoming better women, wives, and mothers.

I have been wanting join this group for a couple of years and with the wait list (yes, it is that popular) and working I have not had the chance.  Until now!  I finally made the cut and took a year off of work, LOL!  No, I did not take a year off so I could join MOPS, although it is an added bonus.    And I must say it was kinda fun actually getting "grown up" ready and leaving my house alone, this morning.  A girl could get used this Friday morning meeting.

Anyways, I already have ideas of what I want to bring for breakfast when it is our tables turn to provide cook for the group.  My great aunt's biscotti! I love the idea of any cookie that can totally pass for acceptable breakfast or coffee snack.  But to be honest, I had never met a Biscotti that I DID like.  I find that most biscotti are dry and relatively flavorless. But when I tried my  great aunt's biscotti (I said I didn't like them, not that I wouldn't eat them) the recipe became a must have!  Since then I love any excuse to make these.  I would say they are shortbread meets a sugar cookie!  I know right, need I say more?

I hope you too find any excuse to make these cookies, and enjoy them as much as I do!



1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs + 1 yolk (save the egg white)
1 Tbs vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup slivered almonds


  • Beat together butter, sugar, 3 eggs and 1 yolk, and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • On a low speed (so ingredients don't go flying everywhere) add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Once combined add the slivered almonds.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal parts.  And shape each part into a log approximately 8"x2" and place on 2 cookie sheets, then brush the tops with the reserved egg white  (I like to use a silpat to ensure they wont stick or burn but you don't need one).
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until they are firm and golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and place them on a wire rack to cool and set.
  • Cut each log into 1/2" slices and lay them on their sides back on the cookie sheets.

  • Return to the oven this time at 225 degrees for 30 minutes.  When 30 minutes is over turn off the oven and let the biscotti cool in the oven.  This will help them get nice and crunchy.  If you take them out after the 30 minutes you might end up with soft biscotti, and who wants to dip soft biscotti in coffee? 
Pin It Now!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Salted Carmel Brownies

I consider myself a pretty healthy person (you might disagree with all the desserts I make, but I really don't eat them ALL).  I eat a balanced diet and work out to try and stay in shape, but let me tell you....I was definitely one of those women that ENJOYED eating my way through pregnancy...both times.   I took on the approach "well I am not getting any smaller I might as well eat insert yummy food here".  And I did!

I have been doing Baby Boot Camp for a few years now and continued though and after my second pregnancy.  Now, don't be too impressed...that ended up consisting of me and my 2 other pregnant friends walking far behind the group and then when our "workout" was over taking turns satisfying our cravings with a big yummy breakfast that, on a non pregnant day we would have never eaten.  Oh man, was it fun, but, oh how I spent the 16 months after birth paying for it.

Anyways all to say it was right after my first son was born that I was introduced to salted carmel.  I still remember the day fondly.  It was around Christmas time and my husband, Mr. Discipline, walked in with a gift from work of flavored caramels.  They were the best caramels I have ever had and I can't remember for the life of me where they were from (pregnancy brain how I loathe thee).  Well once I ate one of those delicious, mouth watering caramels, I became their biggest fan and have to try just about anything that is labeled salted caramel.  Needless to say when I came across this recipe it was a must try.   I hope you feel the same way!

Salted Caramel Brownies (adapted from Doughmesstic)

Salted Caramel:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp  vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
  • In a small saucepan combine heavy cream and sea salt over a very low heat and simmer until salt is dissolved and then set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and the corn syrup on high heat.  They will not mix well until the sugar dissolves. Make sure to stir constantly so the sugar does not burn.  Once it has dissolved cook until a candy thermometer reads 350 degrees.  If you don't have a thermometer cook 6-8 minutes or until it is a medium goldish-brown (better to pull it off early than late).  Remove from heat and let cool 1 minute.
  • Stir the sugar mixture as you add the salted cream and vanilla.  
  • Stir in the sour cream and let the caramel cool to room temperature  as you start the brownies.
finished caramel
350 degrees or goldish-brown

You can make this ahead if you need just store in a air tight container and refrigerate, then pull out and let it get to room temp before you use it.  You could use this recipe for many things, on top ice cream, apple pie, eat with a spoon...get creative!


If you like baking from scratch follow the recipe below.  If you need to save a few minutes use a box I love the Ghirardelli box mix. (I might try this next time I make this recipe...ssshhh!)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
3 Tbs chocolate syrup
  • Melt chocolate and butter in a small sauce pan until melted.  Then let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together sugar, vanilla and eggs.
  • Once mixed add flour, salt, chocolate syrup, and melted chocolate and stir until well combined.
  • In a greased 8x8 pan add a little over half of the brownie batter and bake at 375 for 18 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and pour half the salted caramel mixture over the top of the brownies.  Then spoonful the rest of the brownie batter on top of the caramel and spread, its okay if it mixes with the caramel a bit.
  • Return to the oven and bake for another 18-22 minutes.  They brownies might appear shaky due to caramel but will set as they cool, better to take them out early rather than too late. 
after baking
before baking
The edges of the brownies were the only parts that oozed with caramel.  They were good but I did not get the salted caramel I was hoping I took the remaining caramel mixture and drizzled it over the top and oh man were they delicious  and RICH...have a glass of milk near by and enjoy :)

Pin It Now!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken Sausage and Asparagus Pasta

My husband (Mr. Discipline) has been training for for a half Iron Man the past 3 to 6 months.  If you don't know what that is, its a triathlon where you swim for 1.2 miles, bike for 56 miles and then run for 13.1 miles for a total of 70.3 miles.  I know, WHAT??? Now to be honest, I am not sure why people CHOOSE to do this, but never the less MANY people do.  In each race he has competed in there is always close to a 1,000 participants or sometimes much more.
Vineman finish 2011

The training of triathlons is exhausting (and I am not even the one doing it), but I must admit I LOVE race weekend.  It gets my competitive juices flowing (I know I am not the one racing) but I can't help it.  It probably helps that my husband is a stud and in his last race (this past weekend in Santa Cruz's The Big Kahuna) finished 6th in his age group and 28th overall (and that was with a hurt hamstring. Yes, I am a proud wife)!

after the Orangeman 2011
I walk around and feel inspired by the ultra fit people, and for the most part they are, but I always come across a handful of people getting ready for the race and think "really,  you can finish this race?"  And from this I have learned that this sport has a HUGE mental component, enter Mr. Discipline, which I apparently do not have.  But let me tell you I do look forward to the In-n-out and ice cream we enjoy after the race.  I may not train like a triathlete but I like to eat like one :)

Anyways all this to say that I have had to discover some new recipes to feed my triathlete husband.  I came across this one and LOVED it.  Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and who doesn't like pasta?  Pair the two together and you get nothing but yummy! 

Chicken Sausage and Asparagus Pasta (adapted from The Enchanted Cook)


1 package of a tagliatelle egg pasta, prepared according    to package
1 bunch fresh diced asparagus, the thinner the better
1 handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 large links spicy chicken sausage, uncooked and removed from the casing
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high and add your chicken sausage.  Break up the sausage (as you would when you brown ground beef) and cook until sausage is fully cooked.
  • Add asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes along with salt and pepper to flavor the veggies. Stir for a 2-3 minutes until they soften.
  • Add in the marinara sauce and stir until it is heated through.
  • When your veggies and sauce are warm add the Greek yogurt and stir until it is creamy.
  • Add the cooked pasta and mix together then serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Tip for cutting asparagus:  break 1 asparagus, where it naturally breaks cut the rest of the bunch.

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Easiest "Muffins" Ever

So one day when I was meandering on pinterest (far longer than I had intended to, which I am not sure about you, but it is a common occurrence for me).  I stumbled upon these "muffins" on Butter Yum and wanted to try them ASAP!

I picked up ALL 2 ingredients at the store the next day, made them in about 5 minutes (plus cooking time), and it is official...I AM HOOKED!  I was first concerned that they would have a pumpkiny taste, not that would mind I love pumpkin, but not sure I would mixed with chocolate.  But they don't at all.  The pumpkin gives them a really moist and dense texture (almost like a molten cake when eaten right out of the oven, yum!).  

I loved them so much I also tried them with spice cake.  These were even more delicious.  You could taste the pumpkin a bit more with this cake, but pumpkin spice "muffins" yum....FALL HERE WE COME!

Give them a try and get creative with what cake you use and what you add to them (I added chocolate chips to the pumpkin spice muffins) and please let me know if you discover a must try!

1 box of Devil's Food Cake Mix or whatever cake mix you desire
1 15oz can of 100% pumpkin


  •  Mix these 2 ingredients together (no oil, egg, or anything else).  You can mix by hand, but it is a thick batter so get your muscles ready.
  • Divide the batter into 12 muffin tins (they don't rise much so don't hesitate to fill them up).
  • Bake them at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Like I said I liked mine more like lava cake and super moist, so I took mine out at about 12-15 minutes (or until toothpick entered in comes out clean).
Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

German Chocolate Bars

Ahh....back home from a fabulous two week vacation visiting my family in Northern California, grocery shopping done, house cleaned, and both boys are taking their snoozies.  It is one of those afternoons where I sit back and feel totally overwhelmed by all God has blessed us with. I am a happy mom!  (Post a comment, I would love to hear if you have ever had one of these moments).

Now to make it absolutely perfect afternoon....CHOCOLATE!!!

I love all chocolate...but cakes and cookies are my favorite form of chocolate.  Which is why I was so excited when I saw these bars (a sort of combination of the two) on Six Sisters' Stuff, who got it from Paula Deen, and she is known for using lots of butter so you know its gona be good! 

I made these for a family party when I was at my parents and they were a big hit.  I had several requests for the recipe.  So Aunties, here it is...


Bottom Layer:
1 box devil's food cake mix (not the kind with pudding added)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg

Top Layer:
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips


  • Turn your oven on to 350 degrees. Grease to prepare a 9x13 pan.
  • Mix the cake mix, butter, and egg then press the batter into the prepared cake pan (so that the batter is not coming up the edges).  
  • Bake for 7 minutes and remove from the oven (it obviously will not be done, you just want to firm it up before putting the top layer on.
  • While the bottom layer is baking mix together the condensed milk, vanilla, egg, pecans, and coconut. 
  • After the 7 minutes pour mixture evenly over the bottom layer and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
  • Bake again for 24-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  (I always like my bars on the gooey side so I err on the side of taking them out earlier).
  • Cool completely before cutting them and serving.
After writing this it looks like I am going to have to bake something chocolatey tonight... looks like my hubbies work is in for a treat tomorrow.
Pin It Now!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sourdough Pancakes


These are not the traditional big, round, fluffy pancakes that pile high when you stack them.  Sourdough pancakes are sweet, like crepes, and tend to take on whatever shape gravity calls them to, so they are not the prettiest pancakes in the world.  But sometimes my friends, looks aren't everything!
*pause* as we soak in that life lesson.........

okay, moment over.

I grew up eating these pancakes at my grandma's house.  We would wake up early to the smell and sound of my grandma cooking breakfast in the kitchen.  This was a special treat because grandma's house was the only place we could eat these delicious pancakes, since you need to have a sourdough starter to make the recipe (don't worry I have included a link below on how to make your own).  It was is something me and my cousin still look forward to when we stay at grandmas, and know my kids get share in my memory too.  But just a tip for when you are cooking at someone else's house.  Be sure you know what jar they keep their sugar and salt in.  I might have once poured in salt instead of sugar.... oh my, did that turn out to be a disgusting disappointing breakfast.  To keep my cooking reputation in tact I wont tell you how old I was when I made that mistake (...maybe last week, eekk)!  In my defense, who puts their salt in a jar?  I guess my cute grandma does.

Now, since I have a family of my own my grandma passed along to me, my very own sourdough starter.  My family looks forward to eating these pancakes on special occasions and our family and friends request them if they happen to be coming to our house for breakfast!  Once you get your hands on a starter I know you will enjoy these pancakes as much as I do.


The night before you want to eat these...

  • Take out your Sourdough Starter from the refrigerator and add
  • Add 1 cup luke warm water
  • and 1 1/4 cup flour
  • Mix, cover with plastic wrap and let sit out on the counter overnight.
            *For this step DO NOT use any metal bowls or mixing utensils

In the morning...

  • Remove 1 cup of the sourdough starter and place in a plastic or glass airtight container that can at least hold 2 cups. 
  • To the remaining starter *Now OK to use metal objects* add
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • Mix really well and let sit for 5 minutes.
Turn your griddle to high or 400 degrees and pour on as you would "regular" pancakes.  You will know it is time to turn them over when little bubbles are throughout the pancake.

Serve with fruit, syrup or my favorite topping butter...yep thats it!  

Sourdough Tips...
**If you want to give away a starter then double the step at night and in the morning take out 2 cups  
    and place in 2 containers (1 for you and 1 for friend).
**If you want more pancakes in the morning double the step at night and in the morning take out your 
    1 cup and double the rest of the ingredients.
**Do not try and do more than double the sourdough starter recipe!
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fish Tacos

I love when grocery stores give samples.  It is such a genius and simple idea!   As I have mentioned before I love to eat, but I am not a very adventurous eater.  Thus making me not a very adventurous shopper.  I buy the staples and every once in a while I will go crazy and buy something unfamiliar, but that is not often.   Enter gives me the opportunity to be adventurous with out the "risk" of buying it and not liking it (you can probably guess I have never gone sky diving).  

I have end up falling in love with so many different foods all because I got to try them at the store!  I guess it is a trait that now runs in my family because both of my boys get SO excited when we go to a store they know has samples and want to go straight to there.  They point out the samples as if I haven't already seen them, like I am not just as excited as they are, lol!

Well this is a recipe that was inspired by one of our favorite stores that gives samples, Trader Joe's.  If you live by one you know how awesome that store is, and if you don't live by one....come visit, you won't be disappointed!

This recipe is a super easy throw together meal that I like to keep on hand.  If you are "good" at fish you can batter your own, but being new to fish (meaning I just started eating it a couple years ago and stick to the basic halibut, mahi mahi, and talapia) I go ahead and get the no prep fish from the freezer section.   I especially love this recipe because my boys eat it and don't even protest know they are eating broccoli...SCORE!

Your choice of frozen battered fish (I prefer halibut)
Broccoli slaw (if your store doesn't carry then julienne cut broccoli stems and carrots)
Cilantro Salad Dressing or Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Corn & Wheat Tortillas (my new favorite tortillas)

  • Bake fish as package directs.
  • While fish is cooking julienne cut* the broccoli stems and carrots and mix them to taste with the dressing of your choice.  Also prepare the tomatos and avocado.
  • When the fish comes out assemble the taco and there you go....dinner done!
Pin It Now!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Taco Salad

My husband and I love watching the Olympics, and my favorite is the summer games.  So, for the two weeks that they come around if our tv is on, we are watching some event.

Right now we are watching women's beach volleyball.  We just got the kids down for bed, I got all comfy on the coach getting ready to write about some gooey delicious dessert...and look up to see these totally fit, athletic women, running around in bikinis, without an ounce of fat on their bodies! BTW...Quick shout out to Jen Kessy from our very own San Clemente!  USA! USA! USA!

Um, yea...lets just say feeling kind of chubby sitting on the couch just thinking about desserts!  You know the feeling?  Okay...plan B! Let me tell you about a SALAD!  

That sounds a little more guilt free, doesn't it?  I am not saying this is a salad these olympic athletes would eat when training, but it is at least a little more along the lines....and it is one of my favorite salads that I look forward to every summer!  So I guess it is fitting (no pun intended) that I tell you about it during the summer olympics (don't get me wrong you can make this salad anytime during the year but for me soups are more wintery and salads are more summery).   Just my opinion!

1 lb. ground chicken or beef
1/2 chopped onion
red or green leaf lettuce
green onions
garbanzo beans
kidney beans
Nacho Cheese Doritos chips
Thousand Island salad dressing

  • Saute the onion, when soft and translucent add the meat and cook until brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once cooked I like to add the cilantro to the meat for color but you can also use it to top the salad, if you prefer.
  • Prep the other ingredients; rinse and drain beans, cut lettuce, avocado, tomato, green onions.
  • I like to lay out all the ingredients and then let everyone create their own salad.  My  3 1/2 year old son thinks it is so fun to choose what he gets to have on his salad, trying to add mostly chips.  Or you can make one big salad to share.

Other suggestions for great additions or substitutions depending on taste:

black beans
bell peppers
shredded cheese
Fritos chips (my hubby's favorite, chili cheese flavor)
Chipotle Ranch Dressing
French Dressing

Be creative and have fun!  You can't go wrong!
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chicken Sausage & Brussel Sprouts Pasta


I can't remember ever trying them when I was little, but for some reason brussel sprouts and lima beans just had that "Taboo" name that caused a gag reflex.  Actually, to be honest, I do remember watching episodes of "Full House" (loved that show growing up) and Dj and Stephanie always made disgusting faces when mentioning those two things.  So, that must have been it! I followed suit and decided to hate them too. It's too bad, if it weren't for that show I probably would have loved!

But it all changed last winter. I was eating a fabulous restaurant in San Jose, Pizza Antica.  And they were featuring a roasted brussel sprout salad that looked fabulous and was quiet popular.   It would have been pretty adventurous for me to order that, so naturally, I stayed safe with something I knew I would like (I know call me wild). Since then, I have noticed brussel sprouts in more dishes and have become curious about the little cabbage looking veggies.

I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven and it looked so delicious I figured this would be a good way to see how I felt about brussel sprouts.  Mixed with so many other things that if I didn't like them I could just pick around them...meal not wasted.  SCORE! I am in!

I followed this recipe and it was easy to make, which was great considering we got home late from swim lessons and my two little guys were running around with my littlest continuing to say "eat, eat"!

I loved the recipe, and it was good and a fun change from the pasta dishes we usually have.  And what, you may ask, did I think of the brussel sprouts? They weren't bad! They are not my favorite veggie, but certainly much better than I grew up thinking they were.  I would definitely make this recipe again. And best yet, my kids ate them because they were mixed in along with everything else! 

This winter when the brussel sprout salad is back in season at Pizza Antica, you can bet I will be ordering it!

1 lb fresh brussel sprouts, ends trimmed, then sliced in half
3 Tbs Olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lb (16oz) orecchiette (or other pasta)
4 chicken sausages (whatever flavor you prefer), sliced
5 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup pesto sauce
Parmesan cheese (for topping)
  • Preheat oven to 400, and place water on stove for pasta.
  • Mix brussel sprouts with 2 Tbs oil, salt, and pepper. 
  • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Then spread the brussel sprouts out evenly and roast for 15-30 minutes or until the brussel sprouts are browned on the outside and soft on the inside. Then remove and set aside. 
  • In the meantime, place remaining Tbs of oil in a large skillet and brown the sausage. Once the sausage is browned add the garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.
  • Cook the pasta according to the directions (I begin cooking pasta when right after I start browning my sausage). Then drain, reserving some of the water should you need to add liquid at the end.
  • Toss the pasta in with the sausage and garlic, adding in the pesto and brussel sprouts. If pasta is a little dry add more pesto or some of the reserved water.  Flavor with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve with some parmesan cheese and Voila!
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Greek Style Bruschetta Dip

I originally found this recipe on pinterest curtesy of Clover Lane. The description read something like "a recipe you will always be asked for and it is surprisingly easy".  Really? *insert skepticism here!

The are few recipes that you are "always" asked for, so of course I had to put it to the test and try this dip.  Luckily we were having friends over.  They had just had a baby and we were having them over for dinner to give them a little break.  (Can any other mom relate to how amazing it is to NOT have to cook when you have a new born...right)!?!  Anyways I thought, well if this is "easy" it will be the perfect thing to make for a last minute appetizer.

And it was just as the recipe said EASY!  Just chop and mix...doesn't get more basic than that.  But for the real challenge...taste?  For that enter my hubby (who is known for his sometimes brutal honesty)  ...well lets just say he couldn't stop eating it.

Since then I have made this dip several times.  It has become my "go-to" appetizer, especially when I am in a time crunch.   And true to the pinterest post...there has yet been a party or group that I have introduced this to that has not asked for this IS that good!

The secret ingredient is Cavender's seasoning, which can be found at your local store.  It is a greek seasoning that one of my friends introduced me to and it is delicious.  Also try mixing Cavender's into your hamburgers or egg salad...get creative!

Tomatoes (you can use any, I prefer Roma)
Green onions
Feta cheese
Olive oil
Cavender's Greek Seasoning
French baguette
  • Get out a large platter.  
  • Cut tomatoes and green onions and place on platter and crumble Feta on top (use as much or little of each of these ingredients, depending on how many you are serving) 
  • Pour olive oil over so that everything is coated and there is a shallow pool of olive oil around the ingredients.
  • sprinkle Cavender's on top and mix all together. (I am pretty generous with the seasoning but the rule of thumb is "you can always add it in but you can't take it out". So taste it as you go.  If you accidentally add too much Cavender's then add more tomatoes or oil to balance).
  • Cut up the baguette and serve.  (People tend to spoon the dip on or just go right in for for it).

This is one dip you can't mess up!  Enjoy!
Pin It Now!