Round Up Post

Hi Y’all!

It’s been a really long time since I posted to this blog. If you look at my last blog post, you can see I didn’t carry out that resolution very well.

I’ve got a good excuse, I promise. I’ve been in graduate school. I’m ready to graduate this May, wahoo! I promise you haven’t missed much. You see, while I’ve been in school I haven’t had much time at all to cook. And when I have had time to cook, all I’ve been able to do is take a hasty iPhone photo of it.

I stopped blogging quite a while ago when my got life so busy I could barely keep clean underwear in my house. That’s the best way I can think to describe going to graduate school. It’s like someone hits the fast forward button on your life so you barely have time to do your laundry or vacuum behind the refrigerator, but simultaneously it feels like someone else hit the pause button because it is the looooongest couple years of your life. I had someone say to me a few weeks ago: “Well it was your choice to go back to school!” I’m not saying I didn’t sign up for it. I definitely did. But there is no way I truly understood what I was getting myself into before I was already knee deep in it.

It bums me out big time that I haven’t had much time to do is to cook like I used too. It’s one of the best forms of stress relief for me. But it was the thing that had to give. M started a new job last year that requires him to travel four days out of the week, so most days I’m fending for myself anyway.

As another form of stress relief, I’ve kept my toes in the shallow end of the blogging world by reading this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and that. Haven’t hand time to comment on anything, but I’ve been reading them all religiously!

I’m starting to come out of the fog now. I’ll be done by May 13!! (Woo hoo-hallelujah- jimney-crickets!) Aside from having that degree in hand, I’m looking forward to joining the real world that keeps their eyebrows regularly groomed. It truly is the little things in life.

Because I haven’t cooked much, I don’t have many updates for you all in the way of recipes. I have managed to snap a few iPhone photos on the rare occasions I’ve been in the kitchen. Here’s a roundup:

First one isn’t cooking but it is food! I think these parsley seedlings from last summer are super cute. I grew them on my front porch and started sprouting them in these empty eggshells.


My dad now thinks I am a professional baker after tasting my all-time favorite no knead bread recipe from the NYT. Don’t tell him that I barely had to lift a finger! Hint, pair with my favorite dipping oil.

no knead bread

A lentil salad I made for my mom a few weeks ago after she had surgery. Martha knows best. First of all, I LOVE anything with goat cheese, but I subbed tomatoes for bell pepper because of what I had on hand. Tip: Trader Joes has amazing pre-cooked lentils in their refrigerated section if you are in a pinch. Definitely will be making this again this summer!

Lentil Salad

My old stand by and one of my first ever blog posts, chicken soup:

Chicken soup

I’ve become obsessed with my new milk frother and pour over from Sur la table. Some breakfast highlights:

Capegg muffin french toast breakfast pour over coffee

A lazy after work dinner, perfected…olives, blood orange, almonds, peppered goat cheese, blueberries, hummus & pita:

Cheese three

My fav liquids of the moment include blueberry lemon drops, lemon and mint infused water and green smoothies:

blueberry lemon droplemon mint water Smoothie

And I saved the best, dessert, for last! A chocolate birthday cake, chocolate covered oreos, chocolate covered strawberries:

Birthday cake chocolate covered oreos chocolate covered strawberries

Roasted BSBRO Pizza

When trying to decide what to make for dinner yesterday, my mind scanned through the items I had on hand and came up with the most amazing combination: Roasted Brussel Sprout, Broccoli and Red Onion Pizza.  Abbreviated title: Roasted BSBRO Pizza.  I used english muffins instead of taking the time to make pizza dough.  Normally we do some sort of meat pizza but I opted for a veggie pizza as a healthier and less expensive alternative.  I am trying to eat through everything in our freezer and cupboard by the time we move to help cut down on the grocery bill and eliminate waste.  You should see some interesting food combinations on here as a result.

Cost Saving Strategies:

  • I had everything on hand.
  • The mozzarella that I had in the fridge was not pre-shredded.  By shredding my own cheese, I saved some money.  (I learned from my mom to freeze small portions of it and take out a little at a time.)
  • The dish was meatless.  Meat always adds $ to the bottom line.

Healthy Choices:

  • The english muffins I had on hand were fat free.  I also think that whole wheat english muffins or whole wheat pizza dough would make a nice substitute.
  • Can you really get more healthy than brussel sprouts?  I have recently come to appreciate these green little gems.  I think it is best when you keep it simple and roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Unfortunately Marc hates brussel sprouts.  When I made his pizza, I only used the red onion and broccoli.
  • I used part skim mozzarella cheese.  I have seen healthy pizza recipes that eliminate cheese all together.  I would like to try this in the future as a way to reduce fat but this time I was pleased to be using the reduced fat mozzarella.

You may be sitting here saying, “I don’t classify pizza as a health food.”  And you’re right.  But if this is your criticism, then you didn’t understand the tone of my last blog post.  I know the type of people Marc and I are.  If we switch immediately to eating only tofu and wheat grass, then it will last about a week.  Instead I want to make changes that are sustainable.  This recipe happens to be a lot better than the usual pepperoni Digiorno frozen pizza or even a night when we grab In & Out.  And because of that, I consider it a victory on both the nutrition and budgeting front!

Marc and I both LOVED this recipe.  It was flavorful and very easy to make.  I am most proud of getting creative with the ingredients we had on hand.  The vegetables became very sweet and tender after roasting them in the oven and the crushed garlic added amazing flavor to the toppings.  I never thought veggie pizza could compete with a good old fashioned pepperoni, but it did!

Roasted BSBRO Pizza Recipe

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment to assist with clean up.  Chop into bite size pieces:

½ cup Brussel Sprouts

½ cup Broccoli, stems removed

¼ cup Red Onion, thinly sliced

Combine vegetables in a bowl.  Season with:

 kosher salt to taste

freshly ground pepper to taste

crushed garlic (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Spread the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast at 450° F for 10 minutes until the vegetables start to brown slightly.   Allow vegetables to cool on baking sheet.

Top each english muffin with the following ingredients:

Pesto sauce or Marinara sauce

Roasted vegetables

Part skim mozzarella cheese

Bake for 10 minutes at 450° F.  Bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Let stand for 3 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!


I started up this blog when Marc and I were newlyweds.  I was cooking up a storm and using all of my new kitchen gadgets.  If it sounded delicious, I was going to find a recipe for it, make it, impress my husband with it and eat it.  And it didn’t matter how much butter the recipe called for.  That’s what Costco is for, right?  If you find yourself having to buy your butter at Costco and you are only a household of two, you probably are cooking with too much butter.

When I started the blog, I had a quite a bit of free time on my hands.  We had just moved to a new area for Marc’s job and I was in the process of searching for a new job.  I filled a some of this free time by posting my cooking to this blog.  I had so much fun sharing my experiences with my readers (all friends and family).  Thankfully, after 5 long months of job searching, I secured a job.  And suddenly there was not enough time to post to the blog.  I barely found time to cook, let alone photograph and write about our meals.  Once I started working, our dinners were nothing to write home about.

It has been about a year and a half since I started the blog.  I posted pretty regularly until around Thanksgiving.  I mysteriously dropped off the face of the world wide web after a post about Focaccia announcing “I’m back!”  But then I never came back. Pathetic!   Let me fill you in on what happened:

  • Marc and I both put on a few pounds from eating so much butter while I stayed home job searching and cooking all day.
  • When I started working, we started eating even worse because we ate out at restaurants ALL THE TIME.  We gained even more weight from eating out.
  • Very recently, we both woke up and asked ourselves: “Why does my underwear fit so tight?”   I promise it did not shrink in the dryer.  Haha.  Personal information, but it’s true.  I know many of you have been there.  Realizing your underwear (and other things) don’t fit the same is a real wake up moment.

To summarize, we both put on more weight than I care to announce on a public forum and we wasted a bunch of money eating out all the time.  It was never anything we intended to do, but it snuck up on us.

The past few months have brought some exciting changes for us:

  • I have been accepted to graduate school at San Diego State University!  I will earn my Masters of Arts in Education with a Concentration in Educational Leadership and a Specialization in Student Affairs in Postsecondary Education after completing the two year program.
  • We will be moving soon to San Diego.  I had my last day of work last week.  Now I am packing up the house and getting ready for our move.
  • We will be surviving off Marc’s income plus a little bit from my graduate assistantship.  Time to get serious about budgeting!
  • We have made a commitment  to exercise more regularly and eat much healthier.

As a result of these many changes, I am refocusing my blog a little bit from where it started.  My goals and resolutions:

  1. I will not post another recipe on this blog that contains butter.  In fact, I will experiment by replacing butter with oils and if I really absolutely need to, Earth Balance.  If a substitute is not possible, then I probably shouldn’t be eating it.  If I am eating it, I will not encourage the rest of you to eat it by positing it on this blog.
  2. My posts will be authentic.  I believe the most interesting blog posts to read are written by authentic authors who are not afraid to share their true feelings and struggles.   If you don’t like hearing about how tight our underwear fits, then this probably isn’t the blog for you.
  3. Frugality will be a new focus.  As a result of our more recently tightened budget, we will not be dining on filet mignon.  But a tight budget doesn’t mean we have to eat ramen.  I plan to share my strategies for saving money and sticking to a tight budget.
  4. I believe this is a journey instead of an overnight transformation.  I am more interested in making lifestyle changes than a crash diet.  I do not want this to be a blog focused on weight loss, but on living a full and healthy life.  I hope you will find this theme reflected in my blog posts.
  5. This blog will include all sorts of recipes.  In the past, I focused on food recipes.  I now plan to integrate recipes for gifts, crafts, home décor and financial success!
  6. I will post twice a week:  Tuesdays & Fridays. I want to start small, but consistent. I’m not sure if I will be able to keep this up when I start school, but I would like to.

I’m Back, with Focaccia.

Hi guys. Let’s just pretend that I didn’t stop blogging for the past 6 months.

I’m back.  And I’m eating focaccia bread.  You can eat it too if you use this recipe.  I found it on Noble Pig.

Making my own focaccia bread is on the bucket list I wrote for myself at the beginning of this summer.  So that is exactly what I did today.  And ooooh man was it delicious.  My favorite part of the recipe was poking my fingers all over it.

And if the 1 cup of olive oil in the recipe is not enough for you, take a dip in this oil.  Marc and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary in Monterey and Carmel last week and indulged in one of the most amazing meals at Piatti.  The dipping oil that they brought to the table for our bread knocked my socks off.  So today, I looked up a copy cat recipe for it.  I used dried parsley because I didn’t have fresh on hand and it turned out delish.

I served this along side polenta and roasted veggies.

Holiday Catch Up

Regretfully, I have not updated my blog in over a month.  There have been a few contributing factors.  The first is that I found out I have high cholesterol.  (Partially because of all the buttery things I have been cooking and posting on this blog and partially because of the lovely genetic hand I have been dealt.)  It has bummed me out too much to want to make any cool recipes, let alone post them on here.  Seriosly, at 24 to already have high cholesterol?!?!! But after taking a month to grieve over my high LDLs and low HDLs, I have decided to move forward and take it as an opportunity to post much healthier recipes on here.  Well I will start posting healthier stuff after today because these are a bunch of old pictures of incredibly unhealthy treats.  The second factor is that I have been bummed about being unemployed. After we moved, looking for a job turned out to be a thoroughly discouraging task.  Turn down after turn down.  But that all changed on Friday!  :)  So now I am going into Christmas with a new and optimistic outlook.

In the past month there are very few items I have taken pictures of to post on here.  I will share with you the few that I did take.

Our first Thanksgiving turned out to be a fabulous one.  But in my frenzy, I forgot to take pictures of everything except for the turkey and the table.  I brined my turkey and I don’t think I will ever do it any other way after this because it turned out so darn delicious.

I was excited to use all of our nice china, linens and silverware for the first time.

My most favorite photo is of my new husband carving our first Thanksgiving turkey.

Mostly I was just thankful that the bird turned out beautiful AND delicious.

One of my favorite gift items I made this holiday season was Hot Chocolate on a Stick.  You can find the recipe here from this really awesome blog, Giver’s Log.

I made these extra Christmasey by adding crunched up candy cane to the dipped layer of white chocolate, making it peppermint hot chocolate.

I packaged it all up in mugs to make a cutesy gift.

I also make a batch of snowflake cookie cutters to send with Marc to work for a charity event they are doing.  They turned out pretty cute too.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie was what kicked this all off for me.  This summer after we moved in to our new apartment and I unwrapped all of our wedding gifts, which included every kitchen gadget I could ever dream of, I set out to cook and bake as much as possible.  I started with a recipe from Joy of Cooking, biscuits.  That same day I decided to actually make something.  The biscuits were delicious but I really wanted to cook something and Chicken Pot Pie sounded delicious!  It came out looking picture perfect.  I was amazed that I hadn’t messed it up somehow.  It was that confidence booster that led me to try other recipes and ultimately begin this blog.  Since that day I have made the Chicken Pot Pie several times. Twice for company and few times just for Marc and I.  It makes amazing leftovers- it reheats wonderfully.  I haven’t made it in awhile because I was afraid of overdoing it and getting sick of it.  But this last Friday it seemed like the perfect dinner after Marc had a long week at work.

There are quite a few steps involved in making the pie.  Cooking the chicken, creaming the chicken, the veggies and the pie crust.  But it is so worth it.  I usually save chicken from a large roasted chicken I made earlier in the week and use it for this recipe.  Or if you don’t have the time for that, a rotisserie chicken bought from the grocery store works nicely.  Recently, a cookbook that shall remain nameless suggested using alfredo sauce as the filling for chicken pot pie to save a step.  I almost threw up when I read that.  The filling is what makes or breaks the pie, my friend.  It is so worth it to make your creamed chicken from scratch.  And really, it doesn’t take more than ten minutes.  So here are the recipes and steps below. All of this comes from Joy of Cooking, a cookbook I continue to go back to time and time again.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Leftover or store bought, precooked chicken breast is perfect here.


Creamed Chicken (see recipe below)

Prepare the dough for:

Pie Dough (see recipe below)

Set aside.  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease a pie pan. Heat in a large skillet over medium-high heat:

2 tbsp. butter

Add and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes:

1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 small celery ribs, sliced

Stir the vegetables into the creamed chicken, along with:

3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
3 tbsp. minced parsely

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Roll out the pie dough on top of the dish and tuck the edges down in against the dish sides. Brush the top with:

2 tbsp. beaten egg

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is browned, 30 to 40 minutes.

Creamed Chicken Recipe

Melt in a large saucepan over medium-low heat:

4 tbsp. butter

Add and whisk until smooth:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add:

1 1/2 cups milk or half and half

Whisk until smooth. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from heat, scrape the inside of the saucepan and which vigorously to break up any lumps. Return the pan to the heat and whisking, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Stir in:

cooked chicken

bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and season to taste with:

fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
grated or ground nutmeg

Pie Dough Recipe

I prefer to use my food processor to make my pie dough.  It makes the process of cutting in the butter and shortening much more hassle free.  For the ice water, make sure it is super cold by placing ice cubes in the bowl of water.  Pie crust is so temperamental when it comes to temperature.  Because of this, make sure also to chill your shortening.  This recipe make double the amount needed for Chicken Pot Pie, so freeze the other half for another time or just half the recipe.

Sift together:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt


6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/4 chilled vegetable shortening

Cut half the shortening into the flour mixture until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Cut in the remaining half until it is pea-sized. Sprinkle the dough with:

6 tbsp. ice water

Blend the water gently into the dough until it just hold together. If necessary to hold the ingredients together, add:

1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. ice water

Divide the dough in half, shape each into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator or freeze for later use.

Lettuce Cups and Gyoza

I have become more adventurous recently and I have began exploring the world of cooking blogs.  I’m not going to abandon my cookbooks, but I only have a total of like 4 cookbooks, so I was in desperate need of some new inspiration.  And did I ever find it! There is a whole world of cooking blogs out there. Last night for dinner I made lettuce cups using a recipe that I found on Steamy Kitchen. It is a delicious recipe that includes half of a minced up green apple!  I was very proud of my ability to replicate her recipe so closely.  The most exciting part was frying up the Mung Bean Noodles.  They make for such an impressive topping!  I am not a fan of PF Changs, so I was glad to find out that these tasted way better than any lettuce cups you can get there.  Tasting this recipe made me add her new cookbook that came out in October to my wishlist.

I ended up with a lot of leftover filling from my lettuce cups last night. Today for lunch I decided to turn it into gyoza.  These were definitely the most exciting leftovers I have ever had.  I also found these instructions how to make the gyoza on Steamy Kitchen.  Instead of using the filling that is listed on that recipe, I just used the leftover lettuce cup filling I had from dinner last night.  I used dumpling wrappers that I purchased at the store.  Maybe one day I will become brave enough to make my own.  My pleating on these dumplings are definitely not up to professional status yet, but I was proud that they did not fall apart while I was cooking them.

Furry little garbage disposal

So guinea pigs do not really fall in the realm of cooking, but I just had to share these two pictures of Henry, one of Marc and I’s two guinea pig children. The top of the pigloo is Henry’s favorite perch.  We got them last spring when they were babies and about half the size that they are now.  I never thought I could love guinea pigs so much, but we have gotten so attached to them. They have such distinctive personalities and make the most adorable little squeeks anytime they think you are headed to their cage with food.  They are the perfect apartment pet.  And they are two lucky little piggies because they always get my leftover fruit and veggie scraps when I am cooking.  It must be no coincidence that they have both packed on a few more ounces since I have gotten more active in my cooking hobby.

Classic Lasagna

I asked Marc if he had any special requests for dinner and he blurted out “Lasagna!” before I had finished my sentence.  Talk about a delicious comfort food!  I used a recipe from the Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford.  This recipe is awesome.  It is titled “Classic Lasagna” and they don’t mess around with that name.  No fancy smancy alterations- just good old meat lasagna.  I did choose to make my own marinara sauce, because I think it tastes so much better than the stuff from the jar.  I realized tonight when I was making this that I don’t have a lasagna pan yet, so I had to improvise with a 8×8 glass Pyrex dish.  But it was not deep enough for me to finish all three layers of noodles.  After tasting this recipe, I know that I will be making it a lot in years to come so a lasagna pan officially goes on my wish list.  (Family members if you are reading… I just gave away the best Christmas present tip off ever!)

Classic Lasagna Recipe

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Combine in a large saute pan over medium high heat:

8 oz ground beef
8 oz Italian sausage links, removed from casings and crumbled

Season with:

1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cook until the meat is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. Add and combine with meat:

6 cups marinara sauce

Set meat sauce aside. Mix together in a medium bowl:

8 oz ricotta cheese
8oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 1 cup of the meat sauce. Arrange a single layer on top of the sauce:

uncooked no boil lasagna noodles

Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce evenly on top. Add half of the cheese mixture by spoonfuls evenly over the meat sauce, then scatter fresh basil leaves on top. Top iwth a layer of lasagna noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, the remaining cheese mixture, and more fresh basil leaves. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, and a final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining meat sauce over the top, and sprinkle with  2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Cornish Game Hen

I wanted to make something special for Marc since he just got back from a two week long business trip.  What is something yummy and fancy sounding that won’t break the bank?  Cornish Game Hen was my answer.  What is wonderful about Cornish Game Hen?  It is inexpensive, especially when you buy it on sale.  Because of its small size, you can cook it quickly at a high temperature to create a crispy skin and succulent meat.  It is the perfect size for two people.   You don’t have to do to much to make it come out tasting amazing.  I know a lot of people believe in basting their poultry in butter or olive oil, but I don’t.  Chicken skin provides its own natural amount of fat to give great flavor and crispyness as long as you know the correct temperature to cook it at and how to season it.  I served this up with my veggies and mashed potatoes.

Cornish Game Hen Recipe

Place a 10″ skillet in the oven and preheat to 450° F.  Meanwhile, remove giblets from:

1 Cornish Game Hen, 1 1/2-  2 lbs.

Rinse hen under cold running water and pat dry with paper toweles to remove all moisture.  If the bird’s skin is moist, it will not brown easily.  Butterfly the hen by laying it breast side down and cutting out the backbone.  Freeze the backbone for later use in soups or stocks.  Flip the hen over so that it is laying breast side up and lays flat.  Season the hen generously with:


If using dried thyme, press herbs firmly to the skin so that it adheres.  If using fresh thyme, insert whole sprigs in between the skin and the breast meat.  Fresh thyme creates a fresh and aromatic flavor and I recommend it if you have it on hand.

When the oven reaches 450 F, carefully remove the skillet from the oven using hot pads.  Place the hen in the skillet breast side up.  The hen will sizzle.  This is good- it will prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Place the hen in the oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove the hen from the oven and flip it breast side down. Return to oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove hen from oven once more and return it to breast side up.  Lower heat to 400 ° F and return to oven for 20 more minutes.  Remove from oven and cover with tin foil for 10-15 minutes to allow juices to rest.    Cut hen in half down the breast bone and serve one half on each plate.