Monday, September 30

Kitchen Gadgets for You or Your Chef

I am a frugal individual and try not to spend money unnecessarily, if I can. BUT on occasion it can be hard to pass up a good kitchen gadget. I love them and if it makes my life in the kitchen easier, it's difficult for me to resists. The following are a few of my favorites and they would make a wonderful quick Christmas gift for the cook in your life! 

This Strawberry Slicer from Harriet Carter makes quick work of your strawberry slices. Effortlessly they come out perfectly uniform in thickness every time. This slicer, although designed for strawberries, will work on any fruit that will fit in this tool. Imagine a beautiful fruit salad with perfect fruit slices providing a colorful topping for your guests.

Living close to a farmer's market we have an endless supply of fresh garlic to flavor the many different dishes we make. I also have fingers that are easily infused with the smell of this great seasoning. It seems like I can wash my hands for days and days and I still seem to have that 'once' wonderful aroma on my hands. There's no way to avoid it except for the use of a good gadget. The Chef’n Garlic Zoom XL Rolling Garlic Chopper helps prepare an endless chopped supply. Just put your whole cloves into the chopper and roll it along. This is a great time saver as you can process a lot more garlic with this gadget than you can by hand. You can purchase this on Amazon.

The Avocado Cuber from Williams-Sonoma is a gem.With one quick movement you can easily cube and remove the avocado flesh from it's skin. The first time I used it, I was pleased. If you make lots of guacamole or avocado salad this smart tool can save you a wealth of time.
Now I know to some this may seem to be taking the love of kitchen gadgets a bit far but I guarantee you that if you cook with onions daily this is a MUST HAVE tool. Strong onions seems to make the most stern individual cry. You can try and cut them under water, look away - how you do this using a knife is beyond me - or light a match, but nothing is going to work as well as getting rid of the aromatic vapors all together. In comes the Onion Goggles to save the day....and your eyes. You can find them on Amazon.

I adore these sweet little Owl Nesting Measuring Cups from West Elm. Not only do I no longer have to dig around the 'gadget' drawer for a measuring cup but these adorable little works of art can sit on my kitchen counter. They come in a wide range of colors to match any style or color scheme.

A squirt of lemon juice on your fish? The Quirky Stem Hand Juicer from Holy Cool prevents waste and keeps your hands free from juice. Just push this unique gadget into your favorite citrus fruit and spray or spritz the juice directly from nature’s own bottle! Check them out, this site has some really great kitchen tools.

I hope you found something here you can use or give to your aspiring chef. 
What are some of your favorite go-to kitchen gadgets?


Thursday, September 26


It's would be hard to believe that anyone could possibly NOT love these Pepperoni Cheese Roll-ups. I mean, really come on they’re almost like Pepperoni Pizza, and who doesn't love that? These simple roll-ups have the advantage of being quick to prepared and so easy for kids to grab as they are running out of the door on a busy night. Taking less than 5 minutes of prep work to get them in to the oven, they are simple, yet good food fast! And my oh my, do they ever smell divine while baking, watch out when you pull them out! Even though they are fast and hassle-free they are not just for kids…Mr.P loves these as well. The Garlic Butter Glaze on top is not a necessity but it definitely takes these uncomplicated rolls to another level entirely. I know this fun-to-eat meal is not the healthiest thing you can make for your family, but if time permits serve these rolls with a tossed green salad. If you're headed to the big Friday night game, throw them in a paper bag and head out. This is actually one of the P's favorite stadium meals. If one of the kids left the house without eating, I was never far behind without a paper bag full of these goodies! How hard is that?

Perfect for when you have no time to cook and your family has even less time to eat. 

  • 1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 4 cheese sticks, halved
  • 1 (3.5 ounce) package sliced pepperoni
  • optional - marinara or ranch sauce for dipping
Garlic Butter Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Take each triangle of crescent roll dough and place about 6 pepperoni on the bottom of the triangle. Place half of a cheese stick on top and roll up. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden brown.
  • While rolls are cooking, combine the melted butter, Italian seasonings, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
  • When rolls are done remove from the oven and brush with the garlic butter glaze.
  • Serve with marinara or ranch for dipping.
You can easily double or triple this recipe to fit your specific needs. 


    Top to Bottom:
    E on the far right with her closest friends, Alyssa & Cassidy (l-r)
    E&A playing their horns in the stands.
    Mr.P, center, concentrating on the game while munching.
    The Texas State Champs, The Poteet Pirate Marching Band







    Wednesday, September 25


    75 things about me:

    1. I am absolutely obsessed with cheese.
    2. I am a descendant of Native Americans and Henry Hudson.
    3. My closet is color coordinated and organized by season. Well, yesterday it wasn't.
    4. I live by the lists I make.
    5. I am obsessed with crossing things off of my list.
    6. I wear flip-flops and shorts when I'm out most days, but it's jammies and bare feet at home. 
    7. My house is always organized and clean, but don't open a drawer.
    8. I am a sucker for romantic movies. If it's a true story it's even better.
    9. I have NEVER had a massage.
    10. Got married in 1987 to my college sweetheart, Greg. He's my in-house taste tester, website developer and travel partner.
    11. I will read or watch anything having to do with WWII.
    12. Followed the 'hanging chads' closely in 2008.
    13. I can’t go anywhere without Kleenex, lip balm and disinfectant wipes. 
    14. I live in Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas. 
    15. I drink iced tea daily, and lots of it.
    16. I have a cat named Ms.B, who to the surprise of my friends and family is allowed to take sanctuary in the house. SOME of the time - let's not get too crazy.
    17. I adore sauces of any kind.
    18. When writing, I use entirely too many commas, exclamation points and end sentences with personal pronouns, prepositions and linking verbs that have no links! That's normal isn't it?
    19. If I'm ever MIA… chances are I'm at a Half Price Books.
    20. I broke my tail bone when I was a kid and it hasn't been the same since.
    21. Pink Peonies are my all time favorite flowers.
    22. I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
    23. I could eat Mexican food 7 days a week and never get sick of it.
    24. SALT IS MY LIFE!
    25. Lemons are a close second. And when the two get together I'm a happy woman.
    26. I absolutely HAVE to visit Machu Picchu before I get too old to hike it. It's a must.
    27. I collect Christmas ornaments and artwork when we travel.
    28. I get choked when drinking water. Often.
    29. I skipped many classes in college. I would have a fit if my children did the same!
    30. I'm a die hard traveler and always ready to hit the road again as soon as we return home! Or at the very least start planning the next trip.
    31. No one knows running a marathon is on my bucket list - this would surprise many.
    32. I get wigged out over dirty hotel rooms. 
    33. Hypocrisy is a pet peeve of mine.
    34. Vermont Extra-Sharp Cheddar cheese, in my opinion, is the best cheddar on earth.
    35. I have lots and lots of freckles and spots that I despise.
    36. Chocolate Chip Cookie dough can always be found in my freezer.
    37. I actually love my Daddy, Mother and whole family, enjoying their company very much.
    38. I have a pact with my girlfriend Wendy, of 40 years. She is to pluck the crazy hair out of my mole before the viewing.
    39. I have uncontrollable fits of laughter all by myself and at the most inopportune times.
    40. I love meeting new people, especially at the grocery store.
    41. I'd do just about anything for my friends. Except jump off a bridge.
    42. If I had a dead horse, I would definitely be beating it. Sad but true.
    43. I was and still am a Bugs Bunny kind of girl.
    44. I believe in eating what you what, when you want it. 
    45. I entered food competitions from 1990 until 2011, when I started this blog.
    46. When I was growing up I wanted to move to Northern California and marry a Forest Ranger.
    47. I married a CPA.
    48. I believe in daily cat naps. You probably knew that.
    49. I can eat an entire bowl of Banana Pudding in one sitting, no questions asked. 
    50. I HATE shopping.
    51. On occasion I have been known to wear false eyelashes.
    52. I'm not your typical Baptist preacher's daughter.
    53. Roaches freak me out!
    54. I am fiercely loyal.
    55. Would enjoy living 2 months in Paris and 2 months in NYC out of every year. Fingers crossed.
    56. Would never eat sushi or sashimi. 
    57. I'm uncoordinated, I injure myself at every turn and break things all of the time!
    58. I am infatuated with descriptive words.
    59. Flunked the first test I ever took in college, and my girlfriend and I studied hard. Really we did. 
    60. I use to have a reoccurring dream about gorillas flying helicopters.
    61. Lesson to the young: I have never been a part of the in-crowd and have always been extremely happy and content with my life and who I am.
    62. The Cotswolds of England is my favorite place in the world.
    63. I don't do scary movies or roller coasters.
    64. Even though I'm hugely addicted to my laptop, I am in fact a techno-phobe.
    65. I could eat my weight in salad, so why am I not thin?
    66. The only good smelling stuff I wear is Juniper Breeze from Bath & Body Works, everything else gives me a headache.
    67. I am oddly inquisitive. 'Why is the third hand on a watch called a second hand?' It's just going to drive you nuts isn't it?
    68. I've been traumatized twice by the death of chickens. Once when our 10th grade home-ec teacher, Mrs. Rodgers, took us to the chicken factory to see how they were 'processed'. And the other close encounter came when our grandfather made my sister and I ride home from the farm with a caged chicken in the backseat of his car. Back in the city he wrung it's neck. I'm not real clear on what happened next but I think screaming and crying were involved as the chicken ran around the yard with no head, and that's probably the first time I ever refused a meal.
    69. I have a horrible memory. Refer back to #59. Except in incidents of trauma. #68.
    70. Pie crust was the first thing I learned to make.
    71. I am an avid reader and enjoy research.
    72. Lotus Pods scare me. Seriously, have you seen them?
    73. I flip through magazines from the back to the front. Everyone does that, right?
    74. There are movies I could watch over and over again, like The Sound of Music.
    75. I try and self-diagnose myself on Google several times a month. Nothing is ever wrong with me!
    76. It drives me insane when I do not understand a certain concept and it takes me days of pounding it out to finally get it!
    77. I have an unusually high pain tolerance. I do not realize that I have injured myself until I look down and find a trail of blood. 
    78. I am a Christian, wife, mother of two, a mother-in-law, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, granddaughter, best friend and blogger. I am peacefully content. 
    Mr.P asked, "Why 78"? I told him, "50 didn't cover it and 100 was too many". I made this list to place in my 'ABOUT' box, so I thought I would share. Have a wonderful week  and thanks for reading!


    Tuesday, September 24

    Welcome Fall with An Outdoor Table

    I love FALL.  It’s my favorite season.  With it comes cooler weather, changing leaves, gorgeous scenery and family time.  The coming holidays always spark the decorating bug in me and I go on the hunt for inspiration. I came across Mary's blog 'Home is Where the Boat Is' in my quest for real Fall beauty.  I LOVE this blog!  Mary is a wonder at merchandising and I found myself spending an afternoon browsing her photos. She has posted a wealth of inspiration within the pages of her blog and we are the better for it.  If you are a kindred spirit I know you will will love 'Home is Where the Boat Is' as well. The below post just makes me want to pull on a sweater and sip a cup of cocoa, and it's in the mid-80's here in North Texas!  It just cooled my spirit way down. If it's warm in your neck of the woods, sit back, browse.....close your eyes and dream of cooler days, wood smoke and spices. I can almost smell it, can you??


    I set a table lakeside for Thanksgiving taking advantage of the Fall colors.
    I soaked some oasis & filled a pumpkin for a centerpiece again this week using roses, sunflowers, daisies, and Hypericum berries from the market along with leaves & clippings from our shrubs. A visit to the produce section for some artichokes, apples & salad savoy help fill the gaps and add some texture and interest.

    A centerpiece like this will last several days before some materials (mainly the garden clippings & salad savoy) will have to be replaced.  In fact this centerpiece looked better two days later when the roses had a chance to open up a bit~ just be sure to keep it in a cool place, out of direct sunlight to slow down the evaporation process and help it last longer.
    I also lined the inside of the pumpkin with plastic bags to prevent any water from the oasis from seeping into the bottom of the pumpkin vase for a longer life.

    I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of my little tiger striped pumpkins this season~ last week at the table and this week filled with plant material & flowers for individual vases for each of the four place settings. It would be fun to take it one step further and add a place card tucked or picked in place for each guest~

    These were quick & easy to make~ soaking the oasis for 30 minutes and filling with bits of rosemary, clippings from shrubs, daisies and a Sweetgum ball. I’m making an effort to celebrate the Sweetgum, rather than curse the abundance of these prolific & prickly little gumballs this Fall :)

    Wishing You & Yours a Happy Thanksgiving with Turkey and Stuffing for All!

    Thanksgiving Table details:Queen’s Myott by Churchill Thanksgiving Turkey dishes & Ivory Chargers /HomeGoods Mikasa; French Countryside Goblets/Tuesday Morning; Flatware & Woven Chargers/World Market; Napkins/Pier 1; Plaid Throw/Tablecovering/Target, last year.




    autumnal, brisk, changing leaves, colorful, cooler days, fall harvest, leaf-strewn

    table top, decor, woodsy,lake, oasis, floral arrangement, sunflowers,pumpkins

    Monday, September 23

    "MY" Weight Watchers Chicken Spinach Pizza

    I recently joined Weight Watchers. I'm sure many of you have been there, in fact I have been there before myself. Through the many years of child rearing and most recently menopause, the number on my scale has slowly crept up. I figured before it went any higher I better rope it in. I must tell you - I LOVE WW. I like the idea of being able to eat anything I want, just not everything in the same day. I don't want to miss out on celebrations, socials or cut entire food groups out of my life just for the sake of fitting into my clothes. If I want the cake, I'm going to eat the cake - life is too short. And I also want to lose the guilt. With the WW balanced approach to eating, I am able to savor my indulgences without agonizing about it. I know the plan works for me because I lost 55 pounds many ears ago on WW. I don't want to drink my meals or eat out of a box.  And on the days when there is no time to cook it's nice to know that it's okay to stop and pick up an order of quesadillas. However, when I do have the time to cook there are a few favorite meals Mr.P and I particularly enjoy, this Chicken Spinach Pizza being one of them. It's a little something I came up with ages ago, I hope you enjoy. 


    • 4 Whole-wheat Pita Bread
    • Olive Oil Spray
    • Dried Italian Seasonings
    • Kosher Salt
    • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
    • 1 cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
    • 10 ounce Pkg. Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and thoroughly squeezed dry
    • 12 ounces (4 small breast) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, shredded or chopped
    • 1/2 cup Roasted Red Pepper, jarred or fresh
    • 1/2 cup Sliced Mushrooms, jarred or fresh
    • 1 Small Red Onion, cut into rings
    • 1 cup Part-skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
    • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with non-stick foil.
    • Using your hands, squeeze all excess water from the spinach, set aside. This is SO important, you don't want a soggy pizza!
    • Spray one side of the pita breads with Olive oil spray and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, pepper and a pinch of salt; place this side down on a baking sheet that's covered with non-stick foil. 
    • Spread 1/4 cup Ricotta cheese on each pita. Divide the spinach 4 ways layering on top of Ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with Italian seasonings, pepper and salt. Divide Chicken and next 4 ingredients among the pita pizzas, again topping with Italian seasoning, pepper and salt. 
    • Cook in heated oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and pizza heated through. 


    Whole-wheat bread brings with it the nutritional benefits of the whole grain’s bran and germ. When shopping for whole-wheat bread, look for the word “whole” before “wheat flour” on the ingredient list on the label. If it just says “wheat flour,” then it is not whole wheat.

    1 Chicken Spinach Pizza is 8 WW Points Plus. I always eat mine with an insanely large salad - filled with all things good and no points! I wish you much success if you are on a similar journey and I'll keep you posted!


    Weight Watchers




    Ricotta Cheese



    Roasted Red Pepper


    Friday, September 20

    Half-Hour Chicken Gumbo

    It's Friday again and although this Chicken Gumbo is not as easily portable as the Walking Tacos it is quick to prepare in under 30 minutes, making it a good choice for a hectic Friday night. Keep it warm on the stove or a slow cooker and your family can eat when it's convenient for them. Serve it up with cornbread, store-bought or homemade, and it becomes a hearty warm and fast meal for a busy day. If your Friday nights find you at the local high school football game, ladle this gumbo into a thermos, throw it in a basket along with a few paper cups or bowls and spoons. Preparing a meal to eat on the run or to tote with you can sometimes be a challenge. But with a handful of quick and easy recipes and early preparation, you've won half the battle! Enjoy your Friday night!


    Rely on rotisserie chicken, smoked spicy sausage, and frozen okra from the store to stack up flavors in this quick rendition of a classic Cajun stew.
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    • Rotisserie chicken shaves many minutes from the total cooking time, and its slow-roasted goodness brings just as much to the mix as if you'd cooked your own.
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen, cut okra
    • 8 ounces smoked (precooked) andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1 inch thick
    • 1 rotisserie chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin and bones removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
    • Store-bought or homemade cornbread, for serving (optional)
    • In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium. Add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, onion, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
    • Add 4 cups water (2 of the 4 cups water can be replaced with chicken stock); stir in okra and sausage. Bring to a boil. Stir in shredded chicken, and warm through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; if desired, serve with cornbread.
    If you're interested in making your own cornbread, here is my Mama's recipe, it's the best!