October 1, 2010

one of those Cooking Families....

This is my Dad:

He loves to cook.

Dad has long been retired, but during my growing up years, Dad was a fireman with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. It was standard procedure for all the guys at the fire station to take turns cooking, but he enjoyed cooking so much that he always ended up taking all the turns and doing all the cooking. My (ex)Father-in-law was also a fireman and used to tell stories about how a lot of the guys would try to transfer to whichever station Dad was working at the time, not just because his cooking was legendary, but because then they wouldn't ever have to cook!

And, for the last 20 or so years, my parents have cooked regularly at their church for all kinds of groups, big and small, sometimes for as many as 200 people. They are the first ones asked when someone needs food prepared for their gathering.

Yes,we are one those "Cooking Families".

You know what I mean....one of those families that are all about food: cooking and eating and recipes, and everything that goes along with it.....

Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:

1. Youngest Son is an Executive Chef (see here)

2. Oldest Son is not a chef, but would happily be one if his current career quit working out (see here)

3. Daughter and I are always looking for a reason to plan a menu or try a bunch of new recipes (see here)

4. We have an annual Family Chili Cook-off (see here)

5.We have a Family Cookbook that has had 3 updates over the years (see here)

6. Even all the Grandkids love to spend time in the kitchen (see here, here, and here)

(Dad teaching a cooking class at church a long, long time ago!)

Dad recently shared this recipe with me:

It had all the qualities I look for lately with my current healthy eating plan so I gave it a try, making these minor changes:

I used sugar-free maple syrup

I used Lawry's seasoned pepper and garlic powder since I didn't have Montreal Seasoning.

I added 1/4 of a small onion and put the onion and apple in the food processor so it would be finely minced

TA-DA! Yummy Sausage patties....and healthy, too! I made the first one off the grill pan into a burger on an Oroweat Sandwich Thin, with honey mustard and sugar-free apricot jam.
DELICIOUS!! You were right Dad...this one's a keeper! I've already added it to the current cookbook update.

The other night, Daughter-in-Law was looking through the Family Cookbook for something quick and easy to make for dinner and chose one of Dad's recipes that we hadn't tried before.


4 Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 1/2 cups Pace Picante sauce (12 oz)

3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard (she use honey mustard)

3 cups hot cooked rice

Place chicken in 2 qt. shallow baking dish. Mix picante, sugar and mustard and pour over chicken. bake at 400* for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Serve over rice.

Wow Dad! What a great dish! I loved it! Your recipe is from the original edition of our cookbook from about 12 years ago and I can't believe I'd never tried it before! This one is going into the regular rotation at our house from now on.......

Thanks Dad! .....and keep all those good recipes coming!!!

September 6, 2010

Would you like a snack?

Have you tried these yet?
This HUGE bag is less than $5.00 at Costco and Sam's Club and they are FABULOUS!!

If, like me, you could live on snacks alone, these are from heaven! And as snacks go, these are relatively healthy: a serving is only 130 calories for 38 straws....look how many that is!

I've been sharing them everywhere and everyone loves them.....my office, Granddaughter's 15th birthday party, vacation....I just might be their biggest fan. I'm telling you, this company should hire me to do a commercial for them!

Try this dip with them..it's healthy too.


1 cup plain, non-fat Greek Yogurt ("Fage" brand is best)

1/4 vidalia onion, grated

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

2 tsp fresh herbs, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Mix well and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight

You'll thank me.....I promise!

August 30, 2010

Food?....or not?

Oldest Granddaughter is having her 15th birthday this week.

Since macaroni and cheese from a box is one of the main staples of her diet, this is one of the gifts I gave her:

No.....I did not just make her a batch and plop some on waxed paper........


Isn't that the funniest thing ever? Don't you just love it? I bought it on ETSY from AJ SWEETSOAP

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a weird thing about fake food in any form.....I'm a sucker for anything that looks like food but really isn't food.
Which is why I bought this soap, too.......of course I had to have it..... just because.....I mean, could you pass it up? Just look at how amazing this rocky road brownie looks....AND IT'S A BAR OF SOAP!!!#$%&*!!

It will be the perfect gift for someone eventually.....

please go on over to AJ sweetSoap and look at all the yummy looking soap she makes (check out the deviled eggs!)....I dare you to resist buying something! (or maybe it's just me and my weird fake food fetish?

August 29, 2010

a new favorite....for now

I have never been one of those people who say " I don't want that for dinner, I already had it for lunch!" If it's something I really enjoy I don't mind having it again. In fact, when I come across an item or a dish that is really appealing to me for the time being, I'll make it a lot until I get tired of it and then put the recipe aside for a while.

This is what I've eaten 3 times this week already and I made a new batch this morning:

I tore the recipe out of the latest issue of Martha's EVERY DAY FOOD magazine and decided to just use the basic idea and change it to fit my new healthier style of eating.

Simple, basic ingredients that I already had on hand

bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes until set........


Martha's version says to serve warm but they are just as good cold! I took them to work in my lunch last week and along with a piece of fruit, it was the perfect healthy lunch!
Martha used corn and parmesan in her version....I'm sure it would be good with any combo of vegetable and cheese.....broccoli and cheddar? salsa and pepperjack? carmelized onions and swiss?
hmmmm......I do have plenty more tomatoes.......

August 20, 2010

Apron Therapy

If I had to guess, I would estimate that I've probably made at least 300 aprons in the last 3 years........

During the summer of 2007 a friend asked me to come up with an apron for his daughter's 14th birthday. During the making of that apron I felt a surge of creativity that really excited me and my little apron business was born.

Since I was struggling with the recent end of a 3 yr. relationship it was exactly what I needed to keep me busy and to help me to not think about all those things I was trying not to dwell on......I have come to think of that time as "Apron Therapy"!

Well........with all the stressful days I've been having at work these last 5 months, I have once again turned to "Apron Therapy" for some relief from the insane asylum that my workplace has become!!!

Such irony! I took a brief hiatus from sewing for the exact same reason that I now find sewing to be the perfect therapy! The sewing studio in Mimi's Room has become a busy place once again......

First, I made something for myself, which I rarely do. I love this fabric so much that I'd been holding on to it for quite a while since I couldn't bear to part with it....Well, DUH!! Why don't I just make an apron for myself?? I actually made 2: one for me and one for the ETSY shop.

A sparkly rock-star apron for a 6 yr. old friend

A thank you gift for my cousin and his wife who recently hosted a family reunion at their beautiful horse farm in Northern California

A golf-themed BBQ apron for my new Boss. I figured a nice gesture amidst all the insanity couldn't hurt, right? (he was very pleased!)

....and a few random pretties for the ETSY shop

AND.... I plan to spend the weekend working on a line of little girl's aprons using a bunch of really cute girly fabrics and trims that have been calling out to me from the corner studio.

Once again,"Apron Therapy" has come to my rescue and my mental state is slowly but surely getting back to normal (normal? hmmm...) Even my insomnia is almost gone!

Well, the isomnia getting better is also partly because of a new product I've discovered....Let me introduce you to my new BEST FRIEND!

It's not drugs, it's just melatonin and taking one 10 minutes before I want to go to sleep is MAGIC! I get just sleepy enough to fall asleep like a normal person and the quality of my sleep is so much better than it's been in years. AND NO HANGOVER!! (I hate that!) I got it at Wal-Mart, over the counter.

So, between Apron sewing and a magic little pill maybe my life really WILL get back to normal someday soon.....or at least I'll be well rested....insane, but well rested!

August 9, 2010

it's time for school already?

Since 1st grade starts on Wednesday, Granddaughter #4 ( 6 1/2) decided to whip up a little skirt for herself.........

She picked out her own fabrics and had a design in mind. My job, as assistant, was to do the measuring and cutting and to supervise to make sure it came out the way SHE visualized it! (oh, the pressure!)

She was SO pleased and proud of herself!

She even used a fancy flower stitch to pretty-up the bottom edge......

I'll bet she'll be the only 1st grader in her class who makes her own clothes!!!

(Assistant Mimi cut the panels a little too wide, making the skirt too long for my taste, so the sewing fairies just might make a few adjustments to shorten it after she goes to sleep tonight.....)

I sure do love passing on the sewing torch to future generations. Seeing kids get excited about fabric and projects and sewing machines/gadgets is one of the best things ever!

July 25, 2010

another Birthday...OR...another reason to feel old!

Today is Oldest Son's 35th Birthday (oh, no! my SECOND child is now 35!! Yikes!!)

So what does a mother give to her son, born in 1975? Star Wars pancake molds, of course!

(ignore the ridiculous face... he's been making that face just for photos since he was 9 years old....obviously some things NEVER change!)

Son has been teaching 5 yr. old Grandson all about Star Wars for the past year, watching the original movies together and collecting new action figures and vehicles, so the pancakes were a big hit....

Grandson said they taste better than "regular" pancakes!

I also made Oldest Son a new apron from a cigar-themed fabric that he thought was really cool.

We went to Sunday Brunch at his favorite mexican restaurant that he hadn't been to for several years. He actually was a waiter there back his college days about 18 years ago, so he had lots of memories to talk about.......

Oldest Son & his kids

Oldest Son & Me

I sure do wish my kids would quit having birthdays already!!! It sure would help ME to stop feeling so old........