Thursday, December 20, 2012

Creme De Menthe

I love giving handmade gifts for Christmas and this is one that was quite a big hit! This homemade Creme de Menthe is elegant, tasty and super easy to whip up! I bottled it in beautiful cut glass decanters that I purchased at the thrift shop (love that place!) and handed them out to eager adults. I may have kept one for myself as well. Shhhh!
For this sweet treat you will need:
4 cups of water
4 cups of sugar
1 cup of Everclear or other 190 proof vodka
2 Tbls pure peppermint extract

Boil the water and sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved, making a simple syrup. Remove from the heat and add the Everclear and peppermint extract. Let the mixture cool completely and then bottle and enjoy!
We've enjoyed it in coffee, cocoa and even just sipped. I've since discovered it's also delicious to make with 1 Tbls of peppermint extract and 1 Tbls of vanilla. Vanilla Mint. Mmmmmm!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Creamy Shrimp and Spinach Penne

Being surrounded by nothing but children means that most of the time, my meals are simple, quick and child friendly. Every once in a while though, I want to eat like a grown up. This meal feels fancy to me. Probably because it involves shrimp and I don't make shrimp very often. The combination of the fresh veggies, the seafood and the creamy tomato sauce are just divine though and while I consider it one of my grown up meals, the kids devour it as well.

16 oz penne
1 Tbls olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8oz sliced mushrooms
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lb raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3/4 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup parmesean cheese

What To Do:
Cook penne according to package directions.
Meanwhile, saute garlic and red pepper flakes in the olive oil over medium heat. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Burnt garlic has a horribly bitter taste. You won't like it, trust me.
Once the garlic has softened, add the mushrooms and tomatoes to the pan and cook several minutes until the mushrooms are soft and the tomatoes start to disintegrate.
Throw in the shrimp and saute until they curl up and turn pink.
Add the spinach to the pan, give a quick stir to coat it in the oil and veggie mixture and then put a lid on the pan. Leave it to steam down for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the spinach is as wilted as you'd like, toss in the drained pasta, the Greek yogurt and the marinara sauce. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with parmesean cheese and enjoy your grown up pasta with some crusty bread. Share with the kids even though it's really too amazing for them. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

I found this recipe on Pinterest and couldn't wait to try it! As it turns out, it's amazingly delicious. All five of my kids had second helpings. I tweaked it a bit (I can't resist tweaking recipes!) and the finished product was so, so yummy! We'll definitely be making this one again!

What You Need:
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
3 Tbls Cajun Seasoning
2 Tbls Butter
2 Tbls Olive Oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (use the real stuff, not the powdered!)
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
A dash of nutmeg
2 Tbls chopped parsley
1lb Fettuccine

What to Do:
Cook noodles according to package directions. Try to time it so the pasta will be done when the sauce is or after the sauce is done. Noodles should NEVER wait for sauce. Sauce can always wait for noodles. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub the Cajun seasoning all over the chicken breasts. Pretend you're giving it a massage. Heat the oil and 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet on med-high heat.
Brown the chicken on each side for 3 min. You want a really good sear. Then pop those suckers into a baking pan and into the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking them.

Add the chicken broth to the hot skillet and use it deglaze the pan. Get all those yummy, crusty bits up then you can throw in the garlic and the tomatoes. Let them cook for a couple minutes until the tomatoes start to cook down a little bit and the garlic gets tender. 

Add your cream, the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper to the skillet. Cook while stirring for several minutes until the cream thickens up.

At this point remove it from the heat and stir in your cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese is melted and delicious.

Cut your now cooked chicken breasts into strips of chickeny goodness and throw them into the skillet along with your fettuccine noodles.

Toss, toss, toss! Cover your noodles and chicken in the thick creamy, cheesy sauce. Top with a dash of nutmeg and the chopped parsley and eat it quick before anyone else can grab it!

Perfect to serve with a salad (I like the spicy blend I get at the farmer's market from a local farm) and some crusty bread! Be prepared to gain weight because you'll want to it ALL!

Monday, January 16, 2012


This is why I refuse to buy a kindle. I adore books. The feel of the pages, the weight of the book, the soul that resides within the paper and ink, the knowledge that others have read it before me and will read it after me and that we each leave a piece of ourselves inside and take something with us. Books are about history and being connected and passion and knowledge. You simply cannot get that from a machine.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Grandma's Spanish Rice

When I think comfort food, I think back to my childhood and the homey meals my mom made us growing up. One of my favorites was Spanish Rice. The recipe came from my grandmother and has been handed down three generations now. My children enjoy it just as much as I did and my mother before me.
It's a simple recipe but one bite and I find myself a little girl again, sitting at the table in our kitchen, my mom at the stove in her old, brown apron, my sister sitting next me kicking her legs that were too short to reach the floor and I feel safe, happy. Hopefully, one day, my children will make this for their children and they will have the same experience.
That's what this cooking family recipes with my littles is all about really: making memories. I know some of my best memories are cooking with my mom and eating together in the cozy little kitchen with our little family. Our world wasn't a perfect one. We struggled with money, our dad was gone and our mom worked every second of every day just to keep our family going. But those moments gathered around the table together, enjoying a meal that she had prepared with her hands, they were perfect moments. A family meal will do that.
In this day and age of multiple sports teams and boy scouts and busy schedules, it's easy to get caught up in what has to be done and forget to just sit down and be with the ones you love. No matter what your family looks like, take some time to sit with them, share a meal and make a memory. You can even make my Grandma's Spanish Rice if you'd like.

Grandma's Spanish Rice
1/4 cup veg. oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2lb ground beef
1 cup rice
16oz tomato sauce
1 3/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper

Mix the first five ingredients together in a large skillet and cook until meat is browned. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25min or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I ran across this image on Pinterest and I had to share it here. This has been one of my favorite quotes for a long time. We often get caught up in the business of life (I know I do) and we forget that there is nothing more important than happiness. The laughter of a child, the gentle curve of a rose's petals, a striking sunrise, that perfect cup of coffee first thing in the morning...

Don't look at all you have to accomplish today. Don't focus on making it through the day. Stop and notice the millions of tiny things throughout the day that bring you joy. Don't pass them by today. Those beautiful little things... They're the whole point.