Helpful Tips

I am SO lame!

I know it's been forever since I've updated this thing...I apologize to those of you who expect more from me!! I've been meaning to post this tip for a cool minute - mostly because I've been using this time saver for a few weeks and I've come to rely on it.

Before heading out to the market, I always ask my kids what they want for dinner during the week. If any of my long-time readers remember, my kids got boring and kept requesting the SAME THINGS every week. It made my weekly menu planning pointless because I wasn't posting anything new (or exciting).

Now I make my grocery list without considering what they want. Hey...if they don't mention it first, I don't ask! With that being said, I work on the menu's easier to go shopping WITH a list than without - because invariably you'll forget something (ok maybe that only happens to ME)! I also like to take into consideration my work week...because let's face it...nobody WANTS to actually rush across town from work to slave (some more) over the stove.

I keep it simple...bake something, saute something, boil something or toss it in the crock pot. Lately I've been feeding my need for BEEF at least once a week...otherwise I'll be trolling around the local burger stand and gain an extra 20lbs with the FRIES that HAVE TO go with that shake!

Oddly I've gotten my kids to LIKE eating salads and steamed veggies by preparing them in a new way that gives them extra flavor (tips on that later).

TIP 1: Plan your menu as you make your grocery list (you'd be surprised at how many people don't actually do this).

TIP 2: Marinate your meats as soon as you bring them home. If the dish includes fresh, chopped veggies...add them to the marinade and slide it all into a Freezer Ziploc bag and toss it in the freezer until you need it. This is a HUGE time saver.

TIP 3: If you don't own a rice cooker, GET ONE! You can find a decent one at Target or Walmart (but please don't buy it from the grocery store - those are a waste of $$).

TIP 4: Don't be afraid to try new seasonings...salad dressings work WONDERS!!

TIP 5: You have too much cooked meat left over? Chop it up and toss it into a salad! Turn the rest of that roast into can make a completely NEW meal with what's left over!

TIP 6: Wash dishes WHILE you cook. If you clean along the way, cleaning up AFTER dinner won't be such a task!

TIP 7: If you have "little people", make them help as long as it's productive!

TIP 8: Incorporate a buddy system. This is helpful for single parents...If you have a friend that lives near by, trade off on dinner days. I've been doing this with a friend of mine for the past few months and it works FABULOUSLY!! We consult each other before going shopping...we plan the menu together. I cook Mondays and Wednesday. She cooks Tuesday and Thursday. On Friday we have Ladies Night and we split the chore. It's nice to come home and NOT worry about what's for dinner.

I promise...I'm going to post more frequently. Lameness stops today! :P

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Seafood Italian Dinner for under $15.00

Budget friendly dinners have become a priority in my house lately. With all the people I have to feed, it's important to not only offer variety, but also something that EVERYONE will eat that TASTES GOOD.

Here's how I fed my family for under $15!

Crab Broccoli Alfredo


1 box bowtie pasta @ $1.18
2 jars Alfredo sauce @ $1.43 each
1 bag frozen broccoli florets @ $0.99
1 package imitation crab meat ('s fish that still counts) @ $2.50
1 package of bread sticks @ $2.99
1 bag of mixed greens salad @ $0.98
1 jar salad dressing @ $3.48

TOTAL = $14.98



If I have to tell you how to make this, maybe you're on the wrong site! HAHAHA!! Cook the pasta. Empty the sauce in a large pot. Add about 3/4 cup of water to thin the sauce a bit. Cut or shred the crab meat. Throw in the broccoli and simmer on low heat until the vegetables are tender. Drain the pasta and toss in the Alfredo sauce. Season to taste.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Easy Chili Verde

I'm mad...I should have taken pictures but I wasn't thinking about it!

My mom used to make this all the time when I was a kid. Last night I was going to make Pork Adobo and realized late in the game that I didn't have anymore bay out went THAT idea!! Instead, I decided to make Chili Verde. This goes VERY well with some cheese, rice and beans wrapped up in a large, warm tortilla!! And oddly, my CHILDREN loved it!


4lbs. PORK stew meat (can also use chicken or beef)
2 small cans mild diced green chiles
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium-large sliced onion
8 cups chicken broth (or water and chicken bullion)
4 tablespoons cornstarch



Normally this is something I would toss into the crock pot, but since my has been acting a little possessed lately, I did it in my stock pot. Cut the meat down to 1 inch chunks. Here's the part you're gonna LOVE...put the liquid, the meat, the onions, and garlic in the pot and bring to a rolling boil. Turn down and simmer on low/medium for about 90 minutes (because we want to make sure the pork is COOKED).

Remove about 2 1/2 cups of the liquid and stir in the cornstarch until it's dissolved completely. Pour it back into the pot and mix well. The entire thing will thicken. You can season to taste, but it's usually pretty tasty without having to add anything else to it.

If you choose to do this in the crock pot, reduce the amount of liquid to 4 cups.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

New developments...

[Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes]

Happy New Year!! I can tell that 2010 is going to an exciting year with GRAND things ahead! I've turned my love of baking into a profitable little business. For the holidays alone I baked up over 50 orders for desserts...cakes, cupcakes and mini-cheesecakes. Oddly most of my business was generated from my interactions on Facebook. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

I'm working on a new (and EASY) recipe for chicken florentine, but today I'm simply going to post pictures of some of the most recent orders I've filled. Don't blame me if you gain 20lbs just from LOOKING!

[Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting sprinkled with nutmeg]

[Sensational 7Up Cake with Lemon Glaze - Can you tell I've been working on my glazing style?]

[Lemon Bavarian Creme filled Lemon Cupcakes]

[White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake drizzled with white chocolate]

[Strawberry Cheesecake]

[Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Red Sugar Sprinkles]

[German Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Pecan Frosting]

[Red Velvet CHEESECAKE topped with Cream Cheese Frosting]

[Lemon Cheesecake topped with Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream - My personal favorite]

[Cherry Cheesecake]

[Sweet Potato Cheesecake topped with Whipped Cream]

[L-R: Cinnamon Hazelnut, Lemon Bavarian Creme & Red Velvet Mini-cupcakes]

I just added Pineapple Upside Down Cake to my menu and last night I finally got to try out my new mini bundt pans! I haven't done anything with the cakes yet...I'm still toying with the various ideas I have in my head...but I WILL post pictures of that too! :P
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Martha's Tiramisu Cupcakes with Marscapone Frosting

It's funny how I never thought about baking cupcakes for ANY reason. I always figured they were too much work, but now that I've mastered the skill of gourmet cupcakes, I will never purchase store-bought ever again.

Sorry Albertson's...

While I was trolling the Information Super Highway for tasty treats to make, I stumbled upon Martha Stewart's recipe for Tiramisu Cupcakes. I won't even go into how DEEP my love affair with Tiramisu goes, but TRUST's pretty deep. The idea of a CUPCAKE version excited me so much that I ran out immediately to purchase supplies.

Before I prepared myself mentally to dig into this recipe, I decided to check on a few reviews first. I ran across one at A Chef's Daughter and her review left me weary. Then I went over to Mexican Chocolate Lore and More and decided to make some changes of my own to the original recipe.

The results?


I didn't have a whole vanilla bean as the recipe calls for, so I substituted with vanilla extract (which was fine). I also didn't have the Marsala wine for the coffee syrup it calls for...and I wasn't about to brew only a half cup of I used instant and made it EXTRA strong (the equivalent of 2 STRONG cups of coffee in a half cup of water) and I added Kahlua. I also added Kahlua to the Marscapone Frosting mixture because you know how much I love to add alcohol to frosting if I can!

A friend came by after work (one of my official food tasters) and she liked it so much I thought she was gonna have a heart attack and fall out in my dining room! She was twitching and hopping all over the place, raving about how good it was! I just LOVE to hear that sort of thing!

I poked holes in the top of the cupcake in order to help the liquid soak in faster...

Can you see how BLACK that coffee is? It stained my cup! And let me just tell you, this was an exhausting process. Martha's recipe instructs you to brush the cupcakes with the liquid until the liquid is GONE.
::blank stare::
That's almost 3/4 cup of I brushed...

...and brushed...

...until I finally said, "Screw it!" and poked some more holes! I place the cookie sheet underneath the rack, whipped out a spoon and started pouring the liquid over the cupcakes. That entire process took me at LEAST 30 minutes.

Then I let them sit for about 30 minutes to allow the liquid to soak thru the bottom of the cupcakes. While I waited for that to happen, I whipped up some heavy cream, marscapone, confectioner's sugar and a dash of Kahlua...ok maybe a little more than a

And to finish it off, I shook a little cocoa powder over the top. I'm sure there's a better way to do that, but I was pressed for time seeing how brushing the coffee syrup took so doggone long that it ran into my dinner preparation time!

The final product...

I personally think this is one of my BEST finds! Even with a little tweaking! And poking holes DEFINITELY did the job! And yes, it DOES taste as good as it looks!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Introducing {Sweets2Eat}...

I know it seems as though I've abandoned my love of cooking and blogging about it. I can't believe that I haven't posted since OCTOBER! OMG! Where did the time go?

Well...I was caught up in the hype of my 9 year old's football team and all that goes into being a total "football" mom. Our team was responsible for providing the concession stand during one of our final games and I was bitten by the baking bug!

I donated 4 cakes to the cause (because the money we earned went towards the team). Cooking is one thing, baking is entirely another. I forgot just how much I loved to bake. Next thing I know, I'm hustling cakes for Thanksgiving to earn a little side money. Because let's face it...when you've got a tribe of children, and Xmas is coming, all EXTRA money is GOOD money!

I've been having a blast baking and creating new tasty desserts for my friends and family. Although I think all of my girlfriends are probably going to hate me soon for helping them put back on any weight they were TRYING to lose! Hey...every chef should have official food tasters!

Over the course of the Thanksgiving holiday, I baked 21 cakes in 2 days! WHEW!!

Since I'm too lazy to post recipes, I'll post pictures of my latest and greatest creations!

White Chocolate Blackberry Mini-Cheesecakes

And yes, it's a homemade honey graham crust...

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

7up Cake with Lemon Glaze

Sock-It-To-Me Cake (think of it as a cinnamon struesel cake with nuts)

Cinnamon Hazelnut Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Hazelnut Frosting

And what you see inside is Nutella baked right in...

Black Forest Rum Black Bottom Cupcakes with Cherry Vanilla Rum Frosting

...which is a chocolate rum cupcake with cheesecake and cherries inside...YUM!

Today I'm going to try the Martha Stewart recipe for Tiramisu Cupcakes with Marscapone Frosting! Yum...
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Save money...check this out!

A few weeks ago my mother calls me frantically, filled with excitement over something my uncle told her about. She rambles off a list of food items and says, "How much do you think all of this stuff is worth?"

I give her my ballpark dollar amount (because I grocery shop once a week...I should know how much everything costs by heart at this point).

"NOPE! It costs $30!"

So she starts telling me all about this organization called Treasure Box near my uncle's home in Anaheim. Because she's so excited about it, I hop onto the trusted laptop while she's rambling on to see if they have a website because these days EVERYONE has one, right? She's telling me how she and my aunt have already discussed placing their orders and her driving all the way to Anaheim to pick up her food. I think it's a silly idea to waste the gas to save a few bucks, but that's just me.

I poke around their website and discover a pickup location close to my mother's home and tell her about it (mostly to save her from driving to Anaheim which is at LEAST 25 miles from home). Not only is there one close to HER home, there's a pickup location close to mine as well.

The thing you don't know about my mother is that her excitement is contagious...

Next thing I know, I'm whipping out my phonebook and checking all of the zip codes for all of my friends and family. Once I verified that EVERYONE in my phonebook has a pickup center close to them, I send everyone a link to Treasure Box...because saving money is a GOOD THING.

I'm not sure if it's outside of California or not, but it's certainly worth looking into.


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Fall Comfort Food - Tuna Casserole

My mother made Tuna Casserole for me when I was a child. The combination of tuna, a cheesy sauce and pasta still makes my tummy rumble when I think about it! Over the years I've made it and taken it to pot-lucks and it always turns out to be a huge hit...I never know why because it's so simple to make that I end up sharing the recipe ALL THE TIME!

Today is a cold, rainy day in Southern I decided to make some comfort food to greet my children with when they come home from school. I certainly hope you like this as much as I do!


1 - 12oz can of Albacore Tuna (or chunk light...I prefer Albacore because it doesn't taste as fishy)
1 - 10.5oz can cream of celery condensed soup (any brand will do)
1 - 10.5oz can cream of mushroom condensed soup (any brand will do)
1 - 14oz can of baby sweet peas (drained)
2 3/4 cups milk
3 cups cheddar cheese (divided)
1 - 16oz bag extra wide egg noodles
garlic salt and pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil entire bag of egg noodles until tender (set aside). In a separate large pot, combine both cans of soup, tuna and milk. Warm on medium high heat until the soup becomes smooth. Add 1 cup of cheese once the soup is heated (for easier melting). Season to taste then add entire can of drained peas. Mix everything well.

In a large oven-safe bowl pour in half of the cooked noodles. Pour half of the cheesy soup mixture over the pasta.

Combine the sauce and pasta. Sprinkle one cup of cheese over it.

Pour the remaining pasta over the cheese and pour in the remaining cheesy tuna sauce.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Place the bowl in the oven and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

To make an entire meal out of this dish, add a salad and some garlic bread!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Chicken, Chinese Kale and Mushrooms in Black Bean Sauce

My cousin got married last weekend. Afterwards they had a FULL ON Chinese Wedding Banquet - complete with an EIGHT COURSE MEAL!! I won't go into detail because it'll only make you hungry and jealous of me! HAHAHAH!! But one of the dishes was Rock Cod in Black Bean Sauce.

Now, I'm not much of a fish eater, but it was BEST fish I've EVER had! I've only prepared fish for my family once - and fish sticks for the kids doesn't count! I went on a hunt for rock cod - not knowing that it was EXPENSIVE as hell in the local Chinese I decided on Chicken (read: cheap fish substitute).

I was always under the belief that Gai Lan (Chinese Kale) was Chinese BROCCOLI, but you gotta love the Internet with its abundance of information and pictures! I've only found it in my local Chinese market, but in the event you can't find it feel free to use whatever vegetable that you want.


2 - 3lbs. boneless, skinless chicken leg meat (or thigh meat)
1 container of fresh sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion, sliced
3 - 4 bunches (think handfuls) gai lin, broccoli or bok choy
1-1/2 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce (found in most Asian sections of your local store)
14 ounces chicken broth
3-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (divided)
4 tablespoons sesame oil (divided)


1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons rice wine (NOT TO BE MISTAKEN WITH RICE WINE VINEGAR), dry white wine or sherry
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cooking oil

**NOTE: This can EASILY be prepared as a vegetarian dish by substituting the chicken for FIRM tofu and ANY vegetable would go well with this sauce.


Using cooking shears, cut chicken into small strips and place in a bowl. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken. Mix well and set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Prepare vegetables. Rinse gai lin WELL and cut into 2 inch pieces diagonally.

Heat wok and add sesame oil. Stir fry gai lin, mushrooms and onions over high heat for 3-4 minutes until vegetables are 80% cooked. Set aside.

Add remaining sesame oil to the wok. Add chicken and stir fry until the meat is completely cooked. Add black bean garlic sauce and mix well.

Add vegetables and continue to cook for another minute. Slowly pour in 1/2 of the chicken broth. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into the last 1/2 of chicken broth until completely dissolved. Pour into the wok and mix well. The sauce will thicken as it continues to cook.

Serve with rice and enjoy!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS
Related Posts with Thumbnails