April 28, 2010


Yesterday, I mentioned that I froze red bell peppers last summer, and a few of you requested that I let you in on my TOP SECRET, pepper freezing methods. So brace yourselves.

I love red bell peppers. Cannot get enough of them. I put them in everything. They are so pretty and sweet. And red. I love red. Hey Strawberries are red! WOW I just made a connection.

The seas parted and the trees did a dance. (or something like that)

Oh how I love red bell peppers and strawberries and the color red. I have never studied up on how to freeze fruits and vegi's. I have always just done it. And it seems to have worked out pretty good for us. I am not too much of a researcher, usually I am a trial and error type gal. Or I ask a friend and see how they do it.

Thank you Brenda for your freezing expertise, it has impacted my life in ways you cannot fathom.

I freeze strawberries, OF COURSE, every year. And blueberries by the bushel. I have frozen every type of pepper I can get my hands on. And a few other random vegetables. We will get to those later on in the game. Please remember I am a uneducated freezer of food,, but like I said I have never had problems....so there ya go, that is my disclaimer. (This blogging thing freaks me out most of the time because I am not an expert on anything, but I feel if I write about it I possibly should know technically what I am talking about and technical is not a word in my vocabulary....so if you have a PhD in freezology...please forgive me.)

And now after all of that I will demonstrate how to freeze peppers. You will need to use freezer bags, and a straw. Or you could invest in this handy dandy vacuum sealer type gadget. My dad got it for me for Christmas....I have used it, but usually revert back to my primitive Ziploc and straw method.

Wash them, core them, get all the seeds and whitish membrane out of the middle. Rinse them. Pat them dry with paper towels. When dry toss them in Ziploc freezer bags. VOILA! Freezolgy 101.

Whoops I forgot to show you the baggy-straw method. It is a highly complicated and utterly uncivilized method of vacuum packing your produce. Take note:

(I realize this looks slightly suspect, I assure you sucking air out of Ziploc bags is completely legal in the state of Michigan)

You can do this with any type of pepper, I did hoards of jalapenos last summer, they worked great for fresh salsa and cooking...not so good for jalapeno poppers. You may need to know that if your peppers are of the hotter variety, when sucking the air out of your baggies you may choke...so be ready!

I also love roasted red bell peppers. Follow the wash, core seed/membrane removal steps. Then lay them on a cookies sheets and drizzle with olive oil. Put in a 425 degree oven until skin starts to char and get roasted looking....for lack of better words. Give them a turn after 10 minutes, bake for approximately 15 to 17 minutes total.

Take them out. Let them cool completely. Put them in freezer bags. Great on pizza, in casseroles, in marinara sauce. Good golly Miss Molly, these are so good they are lucky to make it to the freezer bag.


Same idea. Clean them and get all the stems off. Lay them out on cookie sheets to dry. Then toss them on in freezer bags and put them in the freezer. If you can lay them flat, so the berries are not piles too high on top of each other, it makes it easier for them to freeze fast and they don't get all clumped and frozen together. Which if they are dry there should not be a big problem with this. And I might add you will be able to fit more in your freezer if they are flat and stackable.

Flat and stackabley frozen fruits and vegi's.


Blanch. No I am not talking about the hot to trot ol' lady on the Golden Girls T.V. series. I am talking about boiling quick and then plunging the vegi's in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This what you need to do with beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and many others. I actually did a quick google search and it took me here.

Because I became money hungry last year during a garage sale, that I was doing with a girlfriend. I sold pretty much everything that was not plugged in or my kids were not wearing. I sold our chest freezer(it was plugged in until I unplugged it). STUPID. Why did I do that? I thought I could get by with the freezers in my two refrigerators. WRONG.

The garage sale thing got to my psyche.

It made me nutso.

So nutso, in fact, that I, ALSO, accidently sold my girlfriend's husbands brand new Keen boots for 5 BUCKS! We laugh about it now, but it was a deep dark secret for several months. Dean you know I love you and I will never ever sell your new boots again. Or anything of yours for that matter, Dean won't allow me in his garage anymore.......I may enter through the front door just not in the garage, and no more garage sales!

So where was I going with this....sold the freezer...oh yes, thank you for reminding me. So now this summer we joined a farmers CSA. CSA = community supported agriculture. Which is a local farm, that we have bought a share of, so we will get a percentage of all the goodies that come from their harvest. Plus, I am planning on planting peppers and tomatoes. And we ALWAYS go strawberry, and blueberry picking. I NEED a new freezer. My dear husband rolls his eyes, (but with a smile, cause he thinks I am cute). So now I will be on the hunt for a new freezer, and maybe I will find a pair of Keens boots size 11 on clearance since it's the end of winter in Michigan.

Wish me luck!

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April 26, 2010

Lynn's Island Chicken

I can't sleep..... So I am up at a very frightening hour writing this recipe out for you. This could be dangerous...hoping I don't leave a vital step or ingrediant out. I will proof read...but at 2am it's really useless. This recipe is really very easy...it seems like there are alot of steps but they are all simple. You can't ruin this recipe, I promise. And once you make it a couple times you won't even have to look at this recipe.

Lynn is my moms name, but this recipe has nothing to do with her. Just a co-winky-dink that one of our favorite meals bares the name of my mother. I actually found the recipe in a local church cookbook, and over the years (because I am a recipe REBEL) I have tweaked it. You can use boneless chicken if you like, my kids love dark meat so I always make it with thighs and legs. Also you can cut down on the number of chicken pieces and keep the sauce amount the same. One can never, EVER have too much sauce in my book!

Above are the main ingredients. The red thing on top of the pineapple can is a red pepper de-thawing. I bought a closet full of red peppers in season last year and froze them. It's awesome just to pull them out and use them, they are just as good as fresh. Below are the optional ingredients. If you want to use all, or just one or none...that is your prerogative.

10 pieces of chicken
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon Morton's Natures Season Salt (or salt and pepper...be boring)

(It's for mixing with the flour go ahead do that now if you want)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1- 10 oz. jar apricot preserves
1 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small can pineapple tid-bits ( you can use chunks too)

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more depending on how spicy you like your food
1- 6 oz. can sliced water chestnuts (drained)
2 cups mushrooms cleaned and quartered

1. preheat oven to 300 degrees

2. in a sauce pan add 1 tblsp olive oil, add the onions and saute until translucent

3. add preserves, barbeque sauce, and soy sauce to the pan

4. Let this cook on medium for 5 minutes, then add pineapple, juice and all, cook for another 5-10 minutes until it is looking thick and bubbly. **here is where and when you need to add the red pepper flakes if you like a little spice in your life! Turn off burner and set aside.

5. Now you want to get yourself a little assembly line going. Chicken, washed and patted dry, your flour and season salt, a pan with oil and butter, then last but not least a pan or dish big enough so the chicken pieces can have a little space to do the back stroke in the "island sauce"

6. In a frying pan melt 1Tbsp olive oil and 1Tbsp butter.

7. dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and brown them in the frying pan. (This is where my cooking sometimes goes awry. My pan gets too hot, I get too hurried and the flour starts to burn, and the whole house stinks! So be patient don't let your pan get too hot, or let yourself get an excess of flour on the chicken. I am sure, you all are way more dignified in the kitchen than me, so no worries) This is ideally how they should be browned, they don't need to be cooked, just browned and the flour will help your sauce stick to the chicken and thicken up the sauce as it bakes.

8. Now if you're a mushroom fan then toss the mushrooms in the pan when you are all done browning the chicken, let them get brown and then toss them around the chicken pieces. AND if you are also into water chestnuts you can give those a fling around the chicken as well, and the red pepper too.

9. Now take a spatula, because you don't want to leave one bit of the sauce behind, and spread the sauce over the chicken pieces. Then cover the whole sha-bang with tin foil and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes.
**If I were a crock-pot kinda gal I might put this in a crock-pot and see what happens. But I am not a crock-potty kinda gal...but if you are let me know how that works out for ya!

10. Then after 45 minutes take off the tin foil up the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.

Ooohh look at the sticky saucy goodness!

Serve it with rice, and a fresh vegi. We had green beans this night, but carrots, steamed broccoli, sugar snap peas are all good.

Hopefully in my insomnia I didn't miss a step or add a freaky ingredient...if something look highly unusual or amiss then I trust you will do what seems logical....
Hope you enjoy!

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April 24, 2010


Thank you to all of you that contributed to my lunchbox week with your comments... Amy Dawson had some good suggestions for those of you that have kiddos with peanut allergies in her comment under "sandwich alternatives". (Check it out)

My youngest daughter said having a smoothie in her lunch was more like Legoland than Disney world (?). Ok. They did enjoy them, and I forgot to add that I put a straw in their lunchboxes to make it easier for them to drink out of the containers.

Yesterday I was going to post under the title "it's FRIDAY!", but I couldn't. It really didn't seem appropriate.... . My sister-n-law's father-n law had lost his battle with colon cancer this week, and our dear friend Eric Fox was no longer able to fight in his battle with ALS. Two fathers lost in one week........

My heart aches for these wives and the children. Give your husband a extra long hard hug today. I have the Fox's blog in my blog roll over there on the side....please read it. Take a moment and read. I promise it will change your life. In the short time we were blessed to know Eric he changed mine; my kids, and my husbands lives.


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April 22, 2010

other YUMMY stuff

How about making smoothies for your kids lunches? We make them all the time but I never have put them in my kids lunches. I figured why couldn't I put them in their drink containers. So today I am putting smoothies in their lunchboxes. Hopefully it goes over like a trip to Disney World. If not I will let you know tomorrow.

There are all different ways to make a smoothie. You really can't mess it up. We use yogurt and milk. You could use only frozen fruit with soy or cows milk and skip the yogurt. My kids call this a mooothie. Below is the recipe I came up with for lunch smoothies.


1 banana
1cup of fresh or frozen strawberries (or whatever your favorite fruit is)
1 cup of Stoneyfield French Vanilla Yogurt
1 cup of milk (or soy milk)
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice (this is optional)

Throw it all in your blender...whizzer up. SERVES 2

You can substitute any fruit. Blueberries, raspberries, banana only, pineapple. You really can't mess it up.

Note:the lemon juice is only to help with any browning that may occur as the smoothie sits in your child's lunch. I also give my kids apple slices a little squirt of lemon juice in their baggie to keep them from getting brown, because then my picky kiddos won't eat them. Because OH MY they are brown!

Heck you may just want to give these to your kids for breakfast and skip the lunch thing.

Happy lunch making!

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April 21, 2010

rocket scientist I AM NOT

Making lunches is just one more thing we have to do in the morning. And if you are a night owl like me, you take every last minute of sleep you can get and end up running around like a crazy woman in the morning. LITERALLY a crazeee woman, nutso, cuckoo-bird. I am not quick of body or mind in the AM hours. Then there are always the eight gagillion things my kids think need to be done before they go to school. Like clipping guinea pig claws, and scrubbing our muddy sneakes clean on the kitchen counter (that could not have been done the night before...no way Jose'), then there is the hair that needs to be straightened and subsequently thrown in a pony tail???????? Aaahhhh!

Sometimes I have my act together, I get up and take a shower like probably most of you do, wake up my kiddos, start making there lunches while I get them their breakfast...it's a glorious day when the stars align for such a day as this. Unfortunately the previous scene is the one happening around these parts.

I have to say I am sorry about about my very allergic cookies. I am so bummed for all of you that have to deal with food allergies. I frankly don't know how you do it. I would be a nervous wreck. I found one site that looked like it had some ideas and a list of other sites you could go to. I have to admit I did not read through it thoroughly so hopefully it is helpful.

Today I just want to suggest that you think OUT of the box for your kids lunches. What do they really like to eat when they are home for lunch? If it's something hot, then put it in a thermos. My kids went through a streak where they ate buttered noodles or rice for weeks in their lunch. You could even put cold stuff in a thermos. If they like tuna salad, then put some crackers in a baggy to eat the salad on, or chicken salad if you are a seafood free school.

Or like the above choices, neatly tucked into 1 3/4 cup Glad plastic containers. Salad, cereal(they can grab the white milk from school,so you don't have to worry about it staying cold), or the favorite of my boys beef jerky. If you have a good local butcher, I bet they make their own. Healthier and cheaper for you!

Well now I actually have to feed my kiddos dinner....

I am a feeding maniac!

Feed, Feed, Feed... "Are you hungry? Do you need a snack? Have you drank your milk today? Water? How about an apple, I made some salsa.".....I think my kids and husband half the time see my mouth moving but hear this. "Wa wa wawa, wat wa waawaawawal" Like the school secretary's voice that comes over the intercom on Peanuts.

"Wawa wawat wawa waaa wa wa waawaa". I said....

OK, I am off, and I wish you happy lunch packing!

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April 20, 2010


As I said before I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist. So some of my choices might seem peculiar or maybe not the healthiest. But I have to believe that I can do 10 times better than the popcorn chicken, baked chicken fryze, or hot dog that my kids claim if dropped will bounce several feet in the air. I am just attempting to add a little zing in your daily grind of lunch packing.

Which by the way there are actually websites out there, SURPRISE, surprise full of great ideas and with all the nutritional values right there for you. One is lunchtaker.com or you can check out easylunchboxes.com , laptoplunches.com was another one that had recipes and lists of ideas to help mix it up a bit with our lunchboxes.

My kids would eat peanut butter on white bread 5 days a week for lunch, if I would let them. HELP me I can't bear to fix them another PB sammy!

While I was making one of my families favorite cookie recipes....I realized that they were really pretty healthy AND, hey why couldn't I just put cookies in their lunch instead of sandwiches. The first time they received cookies in their lunches instead of a sandwich....they crowned me Queen of ALL things wonderful and amazing, rolling out the red carpet for me as I walked to the van to drive them to school. Now it's old and THIS morning I was just baggy eyed ol' mom again...no big deal anymore. So here is our sandwich alternative. I adapted this recipe from one a friend gave me from recipezaar.com.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 sticks of butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (peanuts only!)
2 teaspoons baking soda
5 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup M&M's

preheat oven to 350
1. cream sugars and butter together with mixer

2. add eggs one at a time mixing after each, add vanilla

3. add peanut butter blend well

4. in separate bowl measure out oatmeal, wheat germ, and baking soda mix together with a fork

5. add oatmeal mixture to butter/egg mixture. mix well

6. fold in M&M's

7. scoop onto parchment covered cookie sheets, with a ice cream scoop.

8. bake for 12-14 minutes, until just slightly browned around the edges.

I bought these water bottles that I fill every day with water and some ice cubes so it's cold for them at lunch. Saves money on buying bottled water.

I also try to make sure there is at least one piece of fresh fruit in my kids lunches. I try to avoid the fruit cups. There may be added sugars and preservatives and they also add to the garbage pile.

I have a good stash of different containers for all sorts of goodies my kids might want in there lunches. They bring them home and I wash them out and reuse, when they get grody then I recycle them.

Have a great day!

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April 19, 2010


I had the hardest time coming up with a title for this post. Titles are usually not an issue for me. Half the time I just blah something out up there and don't look back. I don't give it much thought.

This post is different....

Here are some of my initial titles:

it's a SMALL world


you ain't NEVER gonna believe this!

cowgirl dinner party THE REAL DEAL

Or how about this one:

I'm goin to the RANCH baby!

That last title seemed a bit too obvious. Not leaving anything to your imagination.
So I decided to go with NO WORDS! As in there are no words to describe how....
Did I say I could pee my pants I am so excited? BECAUSE I get to go to the Pioneer Woman's Ranch and have a girls weekend!

Hello, are you there...are ya still with me? Get up off the floor, back on the chair...there ya go. HI! Yes it's true. You want the whole truth and nothin but the truth? Ok, here goes....

Remember week before last when Ree gave me a shout on facebook, and my blog went absolutely bonkers?

MAYBE I should back up a few months.......to the Haiti disaster and if you followed The Pioneer Woman during that she really put her heart into helping, many different ways. One way Ree gave was not so publicized...she auctioned off a weekend stay at the ranch for 8, with all the proceeds going to Compassion International.

OK, back to my blog going bonkers...it just so happened the auction winner saw P-dubs shout out, came on over and realized...HEY this girl lives in my town, Oh my Land this girl goes to the same YMCA as me, GOODNESS gracious me-O-my this girl shops at the same butcher as me, AND we like the same restaurants!

When I met Karen (auction winner) for the first time, she told me, "after I read some of your "project" posts I knew God was telling me I needed to invite you to go with me".

As I type this I am tearing up... I still just cannot believe IT. I now know what it feels like to win the lottery. What if feels like to be on the receiving end of a completely unforeseen and surprising gift! One I did not see coming for a gazillion miles. THAT right there is better than any monetary lottery I could have ever won.

In my post announcing the winner of the Pioneer Woman's signed cookbook I said:

"I can't thank you all enough for following me through this adventure.
Hopefully I will have more adventures with P-dub in my future..."

WHO really would have thunk that I REALLY would be having a real adventure with P-dub! I was being completely delusional when I wrote that....

So back to my new friend Karen. I got this mysterious comment on my blog the day after Ree's shout out, that said email me and gave a name. So I emailed her and said "HI Karen, What's up? Sheila". I told Kenny about it, and didn't think about it at all, we were on vacation so I was busy. We took a snack break in Boston before our Duck Boat tour. I RARELY check my email on my phone but for some reason I did, and there was an email back from my mystery commenter....

this is the scene that was ensuing as I was reading my email back from Karen, saying all that I told you above. Luckily I was not eating pizza or drinking pop because if I had been my oldest son would have been wearing it! I couldn't breath...I was numb...I think I actually levitated above the hard red greasy booth I was sitting in.

I have been dying to tell this story...I wanted to wait until Karen and I met and bonded and had coffee. I wanted to give her the opportunity to change her mind just in case my quirky self made her think twice about her generosity. Well and here's the kicker...she is letting me bring a friend! As if just bringing me wasn't enough,


GOOD golly miss Molly!

I am bringing my sweet seestor. I text-asked her while she was at work manning the front desk, and was unable to show any emotion. (Us big sisters just love to torture our little sis's every chance we get) this was her text back to me said "EEE____ AAAAA ^%*^(&)Jambalaya &***@#GET OUT!" I think she is excited too.

I know I said I was going to give you new lunchbox ideas, BUT I thought this trumped lunches....but I do have a recipes and big plans for the rest of the week.

Stick with me!

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April 16, 2010

food Revolution

I am hoping you all know who Jamie Oliver is and if you don't then where the blazes have you been?? I started watching Jamie's Food Network Show Naked Chef, years ago. I had an instant crush. Maybe it's the British accent or the tiny lisp. Honestly I think it began when he had the ABBA impersonators, Waterloo, on his show and I was hopelessly in love with this guy.

"My my how could I resist HIM" (sorry that breaking out in song thing is getting freaky)

I am very random about my television viewing. I have certain shows that are faves. I try to remember to watch them, but I usually get busy and forget. Then there are times when I run into a show completely by chance...which is what I did back on March 26 when Jamie Olivers Food Revolution aired for the first time. I was completely still and mesmerized for the entire show.....it was like answered prayer for me.

I have been grumbling, whining and complaining about my kids hot lunch choices since....well since they could take hot lunch. Frankly, I'd rather they did not choose hot lunch. I know mornings can be busy. Sometimes I find myself making my kids lunches the night before.

I feel very strongly about what my kids eat, heck about what I eat. And if I wouldn't eat it for fear of what unknown chemicals are in it and what that is going to do to my Bod, then I certainly do not want my growing, children putting it down their gullets, for heavens sake!

I have a saying and this is it....


And for the most part I have found that to be true in my life. (I'm not talking just about food when I say that) And really most good things just take a little forethought, hard work. As does preparing a healthy lunch for your children.

BUT what if our schools prepared a healthy lunch for our kids, now then my saying would be false(at least in this instance)...and I would be proven wrong.

I am willing to be proven wrong...when it's all for a good, healthy cause.

Tonight please tune in to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution ABC 9pm/8c. If you are not home then DVR it or TEVO it or tape it on your VHS. (Anyone still do that?) They will be back in Huntington W. Virginia, the unhealthiest town in American attempting to convert people and the schools over to healthy eating habits.

Britain, Jamie's home country, is where he first started his revolution, AND it changed legislation. It changed the way the British government handled the school food system! WOW! That is huge. My hope is that Jamie's Food Revolution wins over in the USA too!

You can go over to my sidebar, do a little clicky-doo on the Food Revolution Button and sign the petition to try and change the way our schools feed our kids.

Next week I am going to do a week of healthy ideas for kids lunch boxes. I hope it is helpful and gives you some new ideas.

I am NOT a nutritionist or a trained dietitian or anything, I am just a mom that tries to feed her kids creatively and healthily...


If any of you have ideas you would like to share in a comment feel free, I will try to include them.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away"

Have a GREAT weekend!

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April 15, 2010


I was given the recipe for this versatile sauce from a sweet mom, I was privileged to meet a couple years ago, of all places by the pool while vacationing in Costa Rica! She was born and raised in Singapore. We became fast friends because of our love for food. It doesn't take me long to pry out of someone whether they are a foodie or not. I need to be careful, when I get yackin' about food, because kids could drown!

We emailed back and forth for a while but we have not been in touch in a while. I asked her for this recipe and like a forgotten treasure it appeared in my inbox some weeks later! Cecilia thanks for this recipe if you are out there reading!

I have tripled the recipe and in doing that tweaked it a little bit. You can make it ahead and store in the frig. I think it would even be a nice gift, if you bottled it up. I use it in my egg rolls if I happen to have some on hand.


These three are buds....see them leaning in tight for the close-up.

1/3 cup Sake (Japanese wine, can be found in the vino section of your grocery store)
2/3 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup Mirin (a rice wine found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon dry ground ginger
mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan bring to boil, then turn heat to low and let simmer for 20-30minutes. Sauce will thicken up as it cools. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

I like to use this garlic press. I like the way it squishes the garlic out in tiny pieces with out any big chunks. You can even put garlic in there unpeeled and push it through. EASY!

This night I marinated Mahi-Mahi in it for 30 minutes then put the filets in a 400 degree oven for 12- 14 minutes. I served it with sticky jasmine rice and steamed sugar snap peas.

You can marinate almost anything in this sauce. Steaks are especially good, but you need to marinate for at least 24 hours 48 is BEST!

Remember never be afraid to ask someone for a recipe....what's the worst that could happen? They say, "NO!" and you stick your tongue out at them and say "na na nana poo poo!"

Hope you enjoy this one!

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