Comfort Food Is so...Comforting

>> Thursday, May 27, 2010

I haven't blogged in a few days. I came down with some crazy flu bug outta nowhere! I am feeling better and have my appetite back. I really hate feeling sick.

Side note: I'm having some weird problems with spacing on my blog. I am working on solving the problem but until I do, hang in there with me.

I was looking in my refrigerator tonight for inspiration and saw a bottle of New Castle beer. It has been sitting there lonely for sometime now because we don't really drink. Once in a great while I will have a drink for a special occasion but that's about it.

I had already started preparing a whole Chicken with olive oil, kosher salt, fresh garlic, and red pepper. I looked at the beer and thought why not? I poured 1/2 the beer over the chicken. Then I had this idea to use the rest of the beer to make a BBQ sauce. Mmmhmm good!

Normally when I make BBQ sauce I just add this and that until it tastes good. Tonight I thought I would measure what I put into the sauce. So I actually have a recipe to share. It was good!

Honey Brown BBQ Sauce

1 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 3/4 cup Honey Brown Beer
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredient and simmer 20 minutes on stove top stirring occasionally. Let it cool and set up for about 5 minutes before serving.

I had a few veggies from the farmers market I need to use up so for side dishes I made Sauteed Green Beans with Fennel and Bruleed Mashed Sweet Potatoes. The chicken was so moist it was falling off the bone. Juicy and full of flavor.
I think this is my favorite sweet potato recipe but that's hard because I really love sweet potatoes a lot.

Bruleed Mashed Sweet Potatoes~ The Best Of Cooking Light

6 cups of hot mashed sweet potatoes

3/4 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons of butter softened

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

cooking spray

1/2 cup packed brown sugar


1.preheat broiler

2. Combine first 6 ingredients into a bowl Spoon the potato mixture into a 11x7 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.Sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar evenly over the top. Broil mixture 2 minutes or until sugar melts. Let stand until sugar hardens about 2 minutes. ( I used less sugar)

That's all for now. I will leave you with a few pictures of some cupcakes I made for my daughter and her friends the other day. Edible glitter and all. :)


How could it be so bad if it tastes so good?

>> Sunday, May 23, 2010

Have you ever felt really proud of yourself for choosing a healthy entree at a restaurant just to have your dreams dashed by its nutritional values? What a disappointment to find that your soup or salad contains more fat than the bacon cheeseburger you were drooling over.

Prime example I LOVE Nordstrom Tomato Basil soup. I love it so much that I threw a fit over it on cold snowy day in Michigan, because Nordstrom Cafe had the nerve to run out of my favorite soup! I admit it was a low point that my husband will never let me live down. Moving on.... To my surprise I found out this soup has a lot of heavy cream in it.

Friday I saw a butternut squash sitting on my counter and thought a bowl of soup sounded tasty. I knew in my efforts to be healthier I shouldn't go for my typical recipe which like the Nordstrom Tomato basil contains whipping cream. So I played in the kitchen and came up with a healthier option.

I made a simple green leaf salad with heirloom tomatoes and carrots from the market. The veggies were so good I felt like I didn't need dressing! I really like these little tomatoes they are bursting with flavor! It was a light yet filling lunch. My girls liked it a lot.My son on the other hand was not a fan.

I like how the coconut milk design turned out. It inspired me to learn how to do latte art! I will post the recipe tomorrow, I'm off to bed.


New Years Resolutions In May...

>> Thursday, May 20, 2010

Its never too late for resolutions right? I'm trying to avoid some things that aren't the best for me, like sugar, dairy, white flour ect. I have this love/hate relationship with sugar. It makes everything taste so good, but I know too much is bad for my health. So I decided I would try to eliminate some of the white evils from my diet for awhile in an effort to be healthier.

Tonight I was sitting out on the back porch eating my dinner and saw that there were apples on my tree. They started talking to me and telling me they wanted to be made into a pie or an apple crisp. I told them no, that's not your destiny, I cant eat sugar! Still they just wouldn't give up, going on and on about how they wanted to swim in ooey gooey fountains of brown sugar and butter and lay beneath a crispy sugary topping. NO! I refuse to be sabotaged by a little apple.

So we both won, I decided to whip up a sugar free apple crisp containing no white flour or artificial sweeteners. How can this be done you ask? Dun dun dada...maple syrup and whole wheat flour. I was going to go for a straight apple crisp but then realized I only had a few small apples.

I remembered I had some blackberries in the fridge that I picked up on sale at Sprouts! I have never mixed the two together but I thought it might work and so began the experiment.

The apples and blackberries became a happy couple. I combined them with pure maple syrup and a little flour. I decided to bake them in these cute apple green mini loaf pans I picked them up on clearance last fall at Michaels. The color of the apples inspired me to pull them out of the cupboard.

I mixed some Quaker quick oats with whole wheat flour, maple syrup and olive oil!!! Yes I even omitted the butter. These are crazy days, let me tell you! Most shocking of all, it was really good. I don't know if its just because I'm sugar deprived but I don't think so. The kids devoured, so I'd say it was a success.

This picture doesn't do it justice, the lighting is really weird in my kitchen and it was too dark to take a picture outside. You get the idea. Moral of the story, you can bake without white sugar and butter, who new?


Cilantro Haters, I'm sorry I Judged You.

>> Monday, May 17, 2010

I've seen this situation play out multiple times. I'm at a party, someone grabs a chip and goes for the salsa, then quickly withdraws as they cringe exclaiming "Ewe, this salsa has cilantro in it, I hate cilantro." I secretly judged them, I'm not gonna lie. Cilantro is up there with my favorite herbs. I think it tastes fresh and reminds me of citrus in someway. Because of my love for this little bushel of flavor I never could understand the cilantro haters, nor did I realize how many of them there were. UNTIL NOW! Did you know there are even facebook groups and blogs devoted to hating cilantro!
I just read an article in the New York Times that helped me understand where these cilantro haters are coming from. To them cilantro really does tastes like soap. Its a genetic thing. It isn't that they are just being finicky or difficult, they really taste something completely different than what I experience when I eat the herb. The craziest part for me is that the word coriander is derived from the word bedbug because people have said that the cilantro aroma can be compared to bug infested clothing. WHAT??? Seriously?

Well, I am going to take a moment celebrate cilantro. Did you know that cilantro protects against the salmonella virus?It lowers blood pressure and settles stomach upset. There are other health benefits to cilantro as well google it. I will wrap this up by posting a yummy recipe. To all of you haters, now is your time to check out. Lovers, read on!

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

1 (14 oz) can chick peas

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

2 jalapenos seeded

1/4 cup water 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

6 tbsp. tahini

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1-2 cloves of garlic ( depending on your love for garlic)

Use food processor to blend chill for at least 30 minutes to meld flavors and enjoy!

Tip: blend cilantro, garlic and jalapeno first until very finely minced, then add other ingredients and blend.


Vintage Shops ,Thrifting and Strange Cafes Part 2

>> Saturday, May 15, 2010


Not only did we not get food poisoning, the food was awesome! We both ordered the same sandwich. It was a sourdough baguette with triple creamed brie, artichokes, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, and fresh spinach, served with a small Greek salad. The bread was warm, crusty and soft all at the same time. The center was melty and rich with a touch of crispness from the cucumbers. MHMM!!!

We ate lunch around 2;30pm so it was kinda dead. Just us and a few guys at the bar. It appeared that one of the guys was the bar tender and was drinking at the bar then would periodically get up to get himself and the other guy another beer. Our host was also our server and later found out he was the cook too! Weird , yes. Would I go back? I'm pretty sure I would.

This is a picture of Paisley Town. You walk through this courtyard of cute little individual shops to get to the restaurant. We were bummed because all of the shops were closed. Cool concept, but a little ghost town-ish. Maybe at a different time of day they would've been open?

This is the front door entrance to the restaurant. Its right on the corner of 11th ave and Grand. While we were here we picked up a post card for a store called Butter Toast Boutique. We decided to make one last stop before heading back home.The shop was cute, clean and reasonably priced. The girl working was really nice ( always a plus), I would definitely visit again.

I spent a lot of time today organizing things for my etsy store and having Cadence take some pictures I didn't get as far as I would have liked to, so I don't have a lot to show you. I will leave you with pictures of a few things I found yesterday that will be in my store shortly. More to come very soon. Darling vintage juice jug

Vintage knee length petticoat.

Vintage glass juicer.

Vintage wool cardigan that Cadence's friend John is trying to get his paws on. Haha, we will see.


Vintage Shops ,Thrifting and Strange Cafes

>> Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm going to try to make this short and sweet tonight because I want to get to bed at a decent hour. I want to start this blog entry tonight and finish up tomorrow because I know it might be a long one. Today was full of fun!

So my friend Joanna and I were finally able to get together to celebrate her birthday. We had big plans of hitting up all the great stores of downtown Phoenix.

Picture of Joanna used without permission haha...

This morning I reached for my cream, to find that it was sour...ew. Oh no what shall I do? Looks like Joanna and I will have to grab a cup of coffee out. Where shall we go? Hmmm.. we'll be near Lux, I guess we could go there!

Smooth, rich and delicious.

After leaving Lux we saw an antique store and decided to stop by. It felt a little twilight zone, really. We had to ring a doorbell to get in and there were heavy duty locks on the door. As we waited, I pictured Lurch coming to the door to let us in and maybe never out. The man came to the door and fussed with the lock as we giggled awkwardly/nervously. He let us in and said excuse the mess. The place was like a maze and Joanna had one word, "Overwhelmed" There were no prices on anything and we felt too undereducated on antiques to make an offer, so we left and headed to some of the places we've had good luck before and a few new places that turned out to be gems.
Salvation Army, Retro Ranch, Hospice Of The Valley and Butter Toast.

I will show you some of the sweet finds tomorrow.

We tried a new place for lunch called Paisley Violin. That was another offbeat place. When we rolled up the place looked super cool. As we walked in we spotted a few potential turn offs maybe even deal breakers. 1. Dirty Fish Tank 2. Dirty sticky menus 3. Empty. 4 Creepy horse in the corner sitting on a chair that looks convincingly real,yet dead.

So I told Joanna, I kinda feel like we are going to get food poisoning what did we do? We ate there! Guess what?

To be continued.........



>> Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm so excited!!! What am I excited about you ask??? Let me tell you friends, I am excited about POOL. Don't know what that is? Let me tell you...

"Pool is a collaborative new market in Mesa that will bring together specialty purveyors,small businesses, artisans, and privately owned merchants."

This is in the old Mervyns building over on Stapley and Main. I wasn't sure if it was open but it sounds like it is. I'm so excited I can't wait to go check it out. I'm thinking I will run by in the morning and try a coffee, sounds like there is a good coffee bar inside.

This really makes me want to rent a space, but I honestly have no idea what I would sell, plus I have no time. So I guess I will just enjoy shopping there. I love Mesa and I'm so excited to see signs of it coming to life!


Margherita Pizza and Strawberry Mint Mojitos.

>> Monday, May 10, 2010

I love fresh herbs. The smell, the taste, oh my goodness I love pretty much all fresh herbs! This is always a weakness for me at the farmers market. I always buy more than I will use because they call my name and practically jump into my basket.
I had some fresh basil and mint on hand and wanted to use it before it lost its freshness. So tonight I whipped up a margherita pizza and a pitcher of virgin strawberry mint mojitios. My kids love mojitos. I usually just make the traditional mint and lime, but tonight I remembered Cadence's friend Mikah telling me she made them with strawberry's in culinary. So I gave it a try.

Start with 2 limes quartered, 6-7 strawberries, or more if they are small like mine, and a handful of mint leaves. Place them all in a pitcher and muddle them together. Next make simple syrup by mixing 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar in saucepan. Heat until the sugar has dissolved stiring constantly. Set aside. ( I put mine in the freezer for about 5 minutes) Pour simple syrup and 3 cups of San Pellegrino into the pitcher.

Let me take this moment to pause and say I LOVE Pellegrino all by its self but it is good mixed with fruit or juice as well. My kids love it too. It's the hubby that thinks it is repulsive. To each his own.


Now for the Pizza. I had two ripe tomatoes on my plant and I was so excited to use them that I decided to couple the basil and tomatoes and make a fresh margherita pizza, one of my favs.

Aren't the colors so pretty? I cheated a little, I used fresh and easy pizza dough. It is actually pretty good. I did top it though with my homemade pizza sauce. Once I finished pretending like I knew how to toss pizza dough, I stretched it out on to the pizza pan, topped it with my sauce, some shredded mozzarella, as well as fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. Oh yes, a little slice of heaven.

As you can see I left a little area plain for Jakers, he isn't into tomatoes and basil on his pizza. :)
One good thing about the weather heating up is all the delicious summer produce coming our way! I think I'm going to go slice up some watermelon before bed. Nah, I will wait for morning, I think I'm just thirsty.


Party... Part 2!!!

I'm back, last night I got really tired and couldn't keep my peepers open a second longer. So I will pick up where I left off. We kept the decorations pretty simple. We made the 3 banners ( Happy Birthday, Soda Shop and BINGO) I also used some "puff balls",unofficial term that came from a hilarious encounter with a snobby clerk at Anthropologie,that I made for a Christmas event at our church. We hung them from the trees and the porch. I put battery back twinkle lights in them so the lit up in the evening.

This picture doesn't really do them justice. They are really cute. Maybe I will add a tutorial on how to make them sometime. They were time consuming but the cool thing is you can use them over and over and change the tissue paper for different color schemes.


We set up a BINGO station in the back yard. My mother-in-law had these cute little desk chairs that worked perfectly.We found some cute vintage looking bingo cards at FOUND by Domestic Bliss Right after we left Found we went to the antique store downtown and found some actual vintage BINGO cards with slider windows. They are so cute! I decided to keep both sets of cards.

I picked up some tulips for the party. I just adore tulips, they are so pretty and they make me smile.
With the hustle and bustle of things we didn't take the time to take food pictures before the party, so I had Cadence take a few the next day. I'm thinking my mom may have gotten a few and if she did I will post more later. For now here are a few pictures of some of the food from the party. We went with the all American 1950's back yard BBQ menu. Grilled hot dogs, sloppy joes, deviled eggs, fruit kabobs, veggies, chips and onion dip,and a cheese ball served with Ritz crackers. For dessert we had homemade retro desserts;Oreos, snowballs, ding-dongs, rice crispy treats and whoopie pies. Thanks to my Mom, mother-in-law, and friends, Rebecca and Sue, for all the help. I could not have done it with out you!
Good friends, Good food, Good times!

Photos taken by Cadence Meeks Photography


The Party!!!

Planing ,shopping, baking and much work goes into a party then poof, it comes and it goes. We have been talking about Cadence's Sweet 16 for months. Yesterday was the big day and it was a blast! It was a great turn out and the weather cooperated for the most part. The first couple hours were a little warm and the flies were a little intense, but when the sun started to set it was just beautiful.

These are the invitations Cadence designed for her party. She took the picture of her best model ( her sister Emma) and her friend Rudy. They dressed up in their 1950's best and sipped soda while Cadence snapped photo's. Everyone asked why Cadence's photo wasn't on the invite. She replied " I'm the one behind the camera not in front". Never the less they turned out darling don't you agree?

As her guests walked through the picked fence they were greeted by Cadence in her vintage 1950's dress with petticoat, and a bright and cheery birthday banner hand made by yours truly along with some help from the girls. I've seen a lot of these banners in boutiques and in etsy shops and I just knew I could do my I did. I made one for Emma's birthday back in December but it wasn't as detailed.This was my first time experimenting with making a crepe paper ruffle.

Cadence with a few of her guests! Don't they look great?

We found Cadence's dress at a great vintage clothing store in Phoenix. I think it was called Hollywood Regency.

Here is my little Jakers sporting his Buddy Holly-ish glasses from Urban Outfitters. Is he not the cutest thing? I know I'm bias but oh my goodness...

This is pretty funny, Jake and his friend had this idea for a photo. It looks pretty realistic. The funny think is, just last summer these boys were going at it for real. They were not each others favorite people. After a little sit down chat, they are great friends. Life is funny that way isn't it? Sometimes the people you think you like the least become some of your greatest friends.

Here is Emma putting up the soda shop sign that Cadence and I made. I will post some better pictures of her once I get them from my Mom. I was too busy to be snapping pictures. Running around like a crazy lady as usual!

... To be continued... Good night world!