Monday, December 22, 2014

Spinach Chips

A while back I posted a recipe for Kale Chips.  I never even considered that you could use another type of green but I like these Spinach Chips even better than the kale!  If you can find curly spinach it will probably be even easier, but the baby spinach leaves are great.  Just make sure you put them in a single layer not touching each other.  And take it easy on the salt--these are really easy to overseason.

2 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Italian seasoning, to taste
salt, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2.  Put the spinach leaves in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over leaves and gently toss with your hand to evenly coat the leaves.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and toss.
3.  Arrange the leaves in a single layer not touching each other.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until leaves are crispy.  Take from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes.  Use a spatula to remove from foil.

Source:  Divas Can Cook

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bistro Chicken Twist

This recipe comes from a good ol' Pampered Chef recipe book. I have been making it for years and used to make it for my family on Christmas Eve before we decorated Christmas cookies.

1 C. Chopped cooked chicken
1/2 C. diced red bell pepper
1/4 C. snipped fresh basil leaves
1/4 C. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 packages (11 ounces each) refrigerated French bread dough-I use frozen bread dough, thawed.

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, basil, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise and garlic. Mix well.

Place bread dough on a greased cookie sheet. With a knife, cut each loaf length wise, end to end, halfway through. Then, use your hands to spread the dough about a bit.

Spoon half the chicken mixture into each of the two loaves. Gather up the edges over the filling, pinching to seal. Turn the two loaves over so the seam sides are down.

With the two loaves next to one another, crisscross them together. Leave a 1 1/2 inch space between the two loaves in the centers of the figure eights that you created.

Combine the egg white and the Italian seasoning. Brush over the top of the twist. Cut a small slit in the tops of the twist to expose the filling. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.

Fideo Pronto

This is a super-easy dish to throw together when you don't have a lot of time on your hands--so basically any day of the week.  It can be a main ( throw in some grilled chicken or whatever meat you want) or side dish.  The recipe is from a box of broken up vermicelli that I used to be able to get in El Paso, Texas at my local grocery store.  Now I buy the vermicelli in a bag, in the Hispanic Foods section, and the recipe is not on there.

This is also a good way to get some veggies into your kids, and a good way to use leftovers.

1 7-oz. pkg. vermicelli, broken up
1 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes, any flavor, with juice
1 tsp. sugar
1-2 T. olive oil
any veggies you want to add (we like fresh spinach, green chilies,  fresh broccoli...)
salt to taste

1.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add vermicelli and stir-fry until golden brown.  Be careful to not burn this.  The vermicelli will continue to brown quickly.

2.  Add the tomatoes with the juice and the rest of your ingredients.  Bring to a light boil, reduce heat and let simmer about 5 minutes or so.  You want the vermicelli to be a little chewy, but not crunchy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Hat Party Mix

This is so yummy and fun to make and to eat!  You'll definitely want to take it to one of the many Christmas parties of the season.


Santa Hats

  • Bugles
  • Red melting disks
  • mini marshmallows
  • white sprinkles (nonpareils)
Snack Mix
  • 3 c. mini pretzels
  • 1/2 c. craisins
  • 1 c. salted dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 c. Rice Chex
  • 2 c. holiday colored M&M's
  • 8 oz. white chocolate for metling
How to Make

Santa Hats

1.  Melt the candy melts, along with a tablespoon of shortening (to help thin the melted candy), in 30 second intervals on half power in your microwave until melted.
2.  Immediately start dipping.
3.  Let them set up for 10 minutes or so on parchment or wax paper.
4.  When they are set, remelt the red candy disks (if necessary) and dip just the bottoms (the large part of the Bugle) into the white sprinkles.
5.  Then flip it over and dip the top in the melted candy and press a mini marshmallow on top.
6.  Let dry on wax paper.

Snack Mix
1.  Spread all your ingredients, EXCEPT M&M's and Santa Hats, out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
2.  Melt your white chocolate according to package directions and drizzle over the pretzel mix.  Transfer to a large bowl.
3.  When chocolate is set, sprinkle M&M's and Bugle Santa Hats over the mix.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keeping it Simple at Christmas

Christmas time! Oh what a wonderful time of year. But why does it seem that our list of "To-Do's" gets larger and we seemed more rushed to get the decorations up, the presents bought and wrapped, the certain foods made, the cookies delivered, etc, etc?

I am really trying to keep things simple in my life and to let go of what is superficial and, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant.

I love seeing beautifully decorated houses down to the table runner and goblets on the perfectly set table. Or the mantle decked out with all manner of color coordinated candles and ribbons and pine garland. I have dreams of buying and even making my own decorations to beautify my home during the holiday season. However, I am learning to give up on what I feel are society's expectations of me as a home maker during the holidays. I have mismatched Christmas decorations that are mostly gifts from when I was a teacher. 

One thing I have done, is sewn handmade stockings for each member of my family. However, I still have some finishing touches to add to them, as well as my own stocking to make. A few Christmases have passed and I still don't have mine made. I am to a point where I am okay if another year passes and it is not made. 

We recently returned from a trip to Hawaii. It was lovely. It was relaxing. It was calming. I know that Christmas is only a couple of weeks away, but I am feeling more calm and less stressed about getting "everything" done that I feel needs to be done. I am safe home with my children around me and that is what is most important to me!

While we were gone, I had my sister help make sure that Eve did her homeschooling. Everyday, Eve has a journal entry to fill in. Here is one that she did while I was gone. I was so happy and so touched when I read what she wrote and saw the picture that she drew. For a 6 year old girl whose Christmas list keeps growing, it was a bit surprising that she didn't talk about the presents or the advent calendar or the tree or the decorations or Santa. 

Because really the meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to have the knowledge of our Savior and to have this time to reflect on the gift Heavenly Father has given us. 

“When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning." -Thomas S. Monson

So, let us take a deep breath, don't worry about having the perfect decorations, don't rush around like a mad person trying to buy presents or cook gourmet food. Let us stop, slow down, simplify, and cut out the worldly distractions. Let us celebrate the Spirit of Christ this Christmas season.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Avocado Tuna Salad

I love a good tuna sandwich, but it can be a bit, well, uninspired sometimes.  Here's a way to jazz up your tuna salad.  And you can eat it plain, over greens, on crackers, or in a a good old sandwich.  I ate it over salad and didn't need any dressing because it's so moist.

2 cans tuna packed in water
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 red apple, finely chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. Dijon or Dusseldorf mustard
1/4 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Drain the tuna.  Mash the avocado in a bowl with the back of a fork.  Mix the tuna and avocado together.
2.  Add celery, apple, and walnuts.  Stir to combine.
3.  In a small bowl mix water, mustard, and spices.  Add to tuna mixture and mix well.

Can store in fridge for up to a week.  Serves 4-6

Source:  slighly adapted from

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Sauce

I found this recipe a year or two ago and have it pinned as one of my favorites. It is rich and delicious. One thing I did differently is that I added some of the drippings from the pan I cooked the chicken in. I de-glazed the pan with a bit of water and poured that into my sauce.

4 chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt and fresh pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup onions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped (in package, NOT oil packed)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook in pan until thermometer reads 162 degrees or so (chicken will continue cooking after being removed from the pan.) Remove chicken from pan and set aside, keeping covered.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and shallots, cook 1-2 minutes, just until soft. Add sun dried tomatoes; stir.

With a whisk in hand, add flour and stir. Pour in chicken broth and whisk constantly to remove any lumps.
Add cream; whisk.
Continue whisking for 3-4 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.  Take off heat and let sit; it will

continue to thicken
Add fresh basil to sauce and give it a good stir.

Serve the chicken and sauce with your choice of pasta.


Slow Cooker Chicken Chili with Cream Cheese

This is a multi-use dish that is tasty and easy to prepare.  You will love walking in the door after work and remembering that dinner has been cooking for you all day and the aroma is calling you in.  This dish can be used with rice, as pictured, or without.  It would also be great as a taco or burrito filling--even as a dip with tostadas!

2 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (do not thaw)
1 can Mexican-style chopped tomatoes
1 can sweet corn, undrained
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 pkg. Ranch Dressing mix
1 T. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1 t. onion powder
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese ( I used Neufschatel)

1.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  Top with remaining ingredients, ending with the cream cheese.

2.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice to blend the cheese.

3.  When done, shred the chicken into bite-size or larger pieces and serve over rice.  Can also be served with burritos or tacos.

NOTES:  Serves 4-6.  Also makes a great dip!

Source:  Rita's Recipes via Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Black Bean Salad With Citrus Dressing

I like to serve this as a side dish to many of my mexican main dish favorites.


2 cans black beans
1 can corn
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved or diced
1/3 c. red onion, chopped
3/4 c. loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
1 avocado, chopped


juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 1/2 limes
1/4 t. cumin
1/2 t. agave or honey
1/8 t. salt


1.  Mix all ingredients except avocado.
2.  Mix the dressing ingredients and pour over salad and toss.
3.  Chop and add the avocado right before serving.

Source:  adapted from the