flashback…. Ali’s graduation party

Hello friends 🙂

Our youngest daughter, Alison graduated from high school just 2 weeks ago.. And since we were sooo busy I’m just not getting around to posting about it.

It was a very special time. Both my boys and my daughter in law, Amanda, flew In for this special event.

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And of course, Scott

It all went by so fast..

We had her party the day after graduation simply because everyone was in town. I spent many hours thinking about the kind of party that I wanted to have for her. ( which was really good for me because it helped to keep my mind focused on that versus my life changes right in front of me)

The weather was less than desirable. In fact, downright miserable. Scott had wanted to have the party at a hall, but Ali and I really wanted a big white tent in the backyard.

Having it at home was also important to us as we knew that only 5 short days after the party we would be completely moved out and that this would be the last time that we would get together with our friends and families in this home.

I ended up calling and having sides to the tent added once I saw the forecast.. And the morning of the party I called and ordered a heater.. ( it was in the 40s, damp, windy and cold)

The heater was the best decision EVER!!

Everyone seemed to have fun ! It was so nice to have the majority of our families there and so many of Ali’s friends and a few of mine

Here are some random pics..

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Yes.. Flat Dave was the first party guest… With my family, I’m not surprised at all

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Ali with a few of her friends

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My adorable niece, Kalli

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Lots of family, including Scott’s 102 year old grandmother!!!

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A lot of the food I was able to make ahead

I served

Baked ziti
Chicken broccoli Alfredo
Sweet and sour meatballs
Lemon orzo salad
Anniversary chicken ( chicken with bacon and cheddar cheese)
Homemade pickles
Southwestern bean salad

Lots of snacks and drinks including homemade sangria!

I have all of the recipes that I used in case you are interested. Everything was easy to make a head of time and came out great ( I think)

Of course, I have zero pics of the food, except for the cake and cupcakes 😉

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It was everything that I envisioned her party to be.. We are all so proud of her!!

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It may have been cold and raw outside but it didn’t matter… The love inside that tent was awesome… ( not to mention the fabulous heater 😉 )

Oxox

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veggie chili

Friends.

I’ve hesitated.

I have a veggie chili recipe that I have pretty much been making for years. And I love it. but  I have a really good friend who is sort of a chili making champion.  She lives in Texas and they take their chili VERY seriously.  IN fact.. I have had the pleasure of tasting her chili… it truly is out of this world… You should  can visit her at River Cat Chili.

She is just back form a very big chili challenge that I’m sure she will be telling us all about soon.. and I have seen some of the pics.. and trust me… you wont want to miss this.

Sharing my measly chili recipe has had me intimidated.  But today… I feel strong.  I am going for it!

So the other day I defrosted chicken and had to decide what to make for dinner. Given the fact that I had more then just 2 to cook for, I needed to get creative.

This is my favorite way to cook. I have always said that if I were ever lucky enough to have a cooking show.. that this would be my ‘spin’

Open the fridge… take inventory… combine with pantry items and come up with 3 possible ideas.. and make one.

Which is exact-a-lacktaly what I did.

so what did I come up with? my veggie chili .. cooking the chicken on the side for those who wanted it. It was perfect.

I started by chopping the veggies and adding all but he garlic to a pan heated with oil

season with salt and pepper ( avoid salting the mushrooms)  and let everyone get a nice little crust.

after about 5 minutes, add the garlic, stir together, turn heat off, add wine to deglaze.

Turn the heat back on… once the wine has evaporated add some veggie stock and jarred tomatoes ( these were second to the last batch from last summer.. *snif*)

Let the chili come to a boil, then reduce and let simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in beans. ( I used beans that I had made in the crock pot and froze.. just because I go throught them so fast, but feel free to use canned)

For the chicken, I cubed it.. tossed it in spices and sauted in oil over med high heat.  Then added chicken broth to deglaze , covered and let simmer until  chicken had reached 165.

At the last minute, stir in some chopped cilantro or Parsley…  I served it with the chipotle cream sauce and it was perfect. ( I added the cooked chicken on top of those who wanted the chicken.

This is easy, healthy and yummy 😉  I finished the rest of it for lunch today with 1/4 of a chopped avocado and some fresh lime juice. It is a perfect meal for a fall day 🙂

* a note on the ghost pepper salt*

I have recently REALLY gotten into finishing salts. I can thank Ryan for this. I make a few of them myself (Lavender salt, Rosemary salt) but I’m a sucker when come across different flavors.  I am lucky That Ryan goes to school near a fabulous little tea and spice chop.. and every opportunity that I have I visit and he and I try out the different salts.

and sugars

and spices

and teas

We came across this one last weekend.. and although the ghost pepper is UBER hot.. ( bought some powdered ghost pepper this summer…  you only need a spec.. this stuff is strong.) I knew I had to buy it.

I have used this every day. yumm..

it’s awesome. like you!

what am I thankful for today? for you .. my readers…  you make my day.. seriously.. it’s nice having y’all as my bffs 🙂

oxoox[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:4]

boo!

did I a-scare you? sorry about that…

I know its been awhile… I’m not proud of my behavior…

that’s not true. I am proud. I was able to make the * very difficult * switch from one server to another. Greek to some of you? good… let it stay that way…. it really wasn’t fun.. buuuut it’s done 🙂

I will have many more fun things on this server… like the ziplist feature. Don’t know what that is? no worries…. I’ll ‘splaine.

click on save this recipe and it will bring you to a create and account page . ( if you don’t have a zip list account, trust me, you want one)

think of it as your cyber recipe box. You can save any recipe to you box ( once your account is opened ) and create and print shopping lists.

it’s awesome.

soooo to try out this new feature I will share one of my oldest recipes.. Creamy Cheesy Chicken.
This recipe goes back to our camping days. I used to make meals ahead of time & freeze them so that I could just pop them in the oven in our camper. Over the years I have continued to make this, using many variations… it is always a hit!

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I do not remember where I first saw this recipe… I just know that it is a family favorite. its great because you can have all of the ingredients on hand and whip it up in no time!

since I am on a new server.. anyone who had followed the blog by email will need to re follow. on the bottom right side of the screen is a ‘follow’ button.. just click that and enter your email and you are good to go!

happy halloween, friends…. I leave you with a picture of Ali’s costume this year.. along with her friends. They are the Rugrats.. form the popular 90’s cartoon… Ali made the costumes last night. I am so proud of her.. not only for wanting to be a cartoon character , but for being as creative as she was….

and lastly…. my most fav Halloween ever…..I remember it like it was yesterday…. Ryan and I painted his costume in the fornt yard and making Ali’s costume was so much fun. I’ve never been one for a pre bought costume… making them was almost as fun as the actual trick or treating 🙂

this is my last Halloween that I will be sending trick or treaters out into the world to fetch some good candy for their dad 😉 It’s quite bittersweet.

so happy halloween, my friends… be careful out there… those little witches and munchkins are very excited 🙂

xooxoxox

Cooking in Colorado

yes. friends, I am here confessing to you.. I am in love with white beans.

it’s true. and on my recent trip to Denver I told you about a situation that I go myself into.

you see… I was able to use an entire kitchen to make dinner…except, other that appliances and cookware, I had zero food. I mean nada. zilch. less than nothing.

I did not even have salt or pepper 😦

We had stopped at the whole paycheck store the day before I decided to cook ( to buy apples and kombucha… I’m addicted to the booch.. Lord help me) when I saw a container of cooked white beans.

I kid you not when I tell you that I kept thinking about these beans.

I may have had a dream about them that night.

or not.

but probably.

like yes.. it’s true I dreamt about the dang beans

could I even MAKE this up?

So when Scott suggested that we cook in Sat night rather go out and deal with the crowds.. i was all over it.

Except that we were starting from scratch.

so I put my thinking cap on….. *psst… it’s pink 😉 *

I knew I had to have those white beans. I just had to ..

and white beans marry so well with greens. When I saw local spinach at the store, I knew I was onto something.. But Scott and Ali would want an additional protein… chicken thighs were on sale.. so I added that to the basket. and a lemon. I love lemons. Like maybe too much. I start most days with warm lemon water

I wanted fresh pasta, but at 8.99 a whack, I skipped it in favor of dried linguine.

and the smallest jar of oil that i could find.. which happened to be truffle flavored.. which is ok.. I was going to make it work.

and some light cream.. to round the dish out. and finally, frozen peas.

and since this is how I cook…. ( all willy- nilly, most of the time sans- recipe ) I give you

ingredient-challenged barefootgirl cooks in another kitchen white beans & greens with pan seared chicken thighs in a lemon garlic cream sauce sprinkled with peas.

my fingers just hurt even typing that..

so grocery list…….

cooked white beans

garlic cloves ( 3)

bunch of fresh spinach

a lemon

small jar of oil ( truffle in our case, but any heart healthy oil will do)

chicken thighs ( skinless)

light cream

dried pasta

parmesan cheese shreds

frozen peas

*pick up chicken stock. I’ll explain in a bit*

( I was hoping to find salt and pepper packets so that I didn’t need to buy salt and pepper to then have to throw out, but the register lady ( my hopefully someday job) told me to go to the salad bar and sprinkle s&p into a salad dressing container.

pure.

genius.

I started by draining & rinsing the beans and heating a saute pan with a bit of the oil… adding the beans, season them with salt and pepper, adding 1/ the chopped garlic and smashing a few of the beans.

I then added the rinsed spinach right on top

( don’t worry about the extra water on the spinach, it will help the steaming process).. add the spinach directly on top, cover immediately and remove from heat.

don’t peek.. you sneaky- peeker- you…

next. add oil to another saute pan, season thighs with genius salt and pepper and place thighs in pan, allowing them to brown.

Once browned on one side, using tongs.( not to self and all of you… oxo makes the BEST tongs. I unfortunately did not have those there.. I will be changing that very soon ) anyway.. using the tongs. flip the thighs over and allow to brown on the other side. add the remaining garlic and then I added the cream.

* now here is where I would make a change.. I would use chicken stock here instead, and add the cream at the very end. the cream started to curdle a bit.. it was still really good, but if you use chicken stock now to cook the chicken in.. you will be happy 😉 *

cover the chicken and allow to simmer until chicken is fully cooked.

this is an excellent time to cook the pasta in boiled salted water 🙂

add frozen peas once chicken is cooked.. allow peas to just heat through.

next remove the lid from the bean mixture

isn’t it pretty 🙂

and if you are feeling like it’s a wild and crazy night since you are in another city, mix in a bit of cream

and a squeeze of lemon juice. and just to take it over-the-top

some parm cheese

this.. was my dinner….

and this was theirs..

I topped each with a squeeze of lemon for freshness..

yum 🙂

now when all was said and done.. I added the leftovers to one pot ( cutting up the pasta) and made the base of a soup… all that you would need to do is add a bit of chicken broth and heat for a quick weeknight soup 🙂

going out in the city is nice, but every once in awhile, it is nice to just stay in and enjoy the view and the cooking…. and that is how this family spent our Saturday night. And not one of us would have changed it 🙂

enjoy this recipe.. now that I’m done typing, My tummy is rumbly and I’m on the hunt for the ingredients to make it again..

caio friends 🙂

psst.. if you haven’t read it on facebook.. congrats to Lynn on winning the hand knit socks! remember, mom is offering free shipping on any of her items for the month of Oct with 100% of her proceeds going to ward breast cancer research… thank you to all who have taken advantage of this.. I guarantee you… her fingerless gloves are the best!

oxoxo~shel

banish boring salads

well… maybe not banish but know that there are options out there.

You know how when you got to a restaurant and some of the fancier salads look sooo good… but you have a hard  time shelling out 13 bucks for a salad..

yeah  me too.  Here’s the thing.. you can make these at home!!  Now I know some of you are like, “duh? is she going to seriously walk us through salad making 101?”

yes. Because I have a few friends whose diets have changed and they need to add more fruits and veggies into their diet & want to show the amazing amount options that are out there. If you already know all of this.. I apologize…. just scroll to the bottom to help answer a question about my next giveaway.

WHOA!!! wait.. YOU!… get back up here.. I’m not done yet.

We’ll start with making a dressing….  yes.. making it is super simple.. and there are 17,000 combinations that you can create… just use a basic formula and add the flavors that you like!

you will need

1~ an acid.. either vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine….  1/8 cup

2~ an oil…. olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil.. coconut oil ( my new FAVORITE! ) 1/4 cup

3~mustard… again… SO many flavors out there… play with it! 1 tsp

4~ honey.. or maple syrup ( the real stuff) or agave…. 1 tsp

5~ (optional) herbs.. fresh or dried… or sesame seeds, or crushed garlic….. 1/2-1 tsp.. depending on how strong you would like ( always start with less then add more)

6~ sea salt and pepper…..  I have a slight salt obsession as well…..  we’ll chat about this later 🙂 remind me if I forget.

simply add everything to a small ball jars

   put the top on the jar and shake….

you just made dressing 🙂

trust me.. you can’t get that out of a bottle…. anywhere.

I don’t like overly dressed salads, so I usually use about a tablespoon per salad.. if you like more, then add more… I mix it with whichever greens I am using so that they are coated, then place in serving bowl… top with toppings…

like the quiche ‘recipe’  ( are you starting to get my method of cooking… it’s always a formula, then playing with ingredients… because I am a firm believer in  play!  <—- please read this post, it’s one of my favorites 🙂

so.. you will want

1~ green of choice… baby spinach, arugula, mesclun, romaine, butter lettuce..

2~ dressing of choice

3~ ( optional.. ) protein of choice… ( chicken, beans, salmon, beef, tofu, edamame.)

4~ other veggies.. just pile them on!

5~ (optional ) cheese

6~ (optional) something for crunch.. croutons, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sliver almonds

7~ (optional) dried cranberries or apricots or mandarin orange wedges

and  you, my dear have just made a killer salad worthy of any restaurant.

here’s your 13 buckaroos back 🙂

This salad  has

baby spinach

basic vinaigrette

topped with edamame ( I used trader Joe’s ).. about 1/2 cup

black beans .. about 1/4 cup

1/4 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese ( if you are vegan, by choice or m=by force, eliminate it…  the avocado give the same mouthfeel… and you probably wont miss it)

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

finish with sea salt and pepper..

I ate this for lunch yesterday and it kept me full all afternoon!  ( and peeps ask me all the time where I get my protein from 🙂  )

so be brave…. look beyond iceburg, cukes and tomatoes ( not that there is anything with it, it’s the only way I can get my kids to eat a salad, so I still make it… ) and have fun!!!!

NEEEEXXXXTTT…

I have fallen in LOVE with Greek Yogurt. Have you tried it yet? I buy the non fat plain and it tastes just like sour cream. I sub it out for sour cream all the time.  It is also a perfect base to make granola parfait but also… to make some ‘creamy’ sauces!  like this

Chipotle cream sauce

I used about 1/2 the can of peppers.. if you like it more mild, use less

about a cup of the Greek Yogurt

half a lime

I put them all in the magic bullet looking thing and blended

if you don’t have one of these babies, you could use a blender, just keep scraping down the sides.. or use a food processor.

that’s it folks… does it get simpler than that? I think not.

The girls had this on their tacos last night & I topped my tostada with it.

the girls’ taco filling is made with lean ground chicken, then when I add the taco seasoning ( only half the package… it’s so loaded with sodium.. a little goes a long way.. you also can make your own, considerably knocking the sodium down, but I had it so I used it) and when I add the water I add a can of refried beans. They blend in perfectly… it stretches the filling and boosts the protein 🙂 I’ve been doing this for years..

It also freezes and defrosts well, so you can make double the amount and have it in the freezer for a super quick dinner…. If you need to cook for one, make a batch and freeze it into individual portions…  again.. quick dinner for one

*if you have dinner for one, please do me a favor and do it by candle light.. you are special and should have a nice dining experience.. if you want you can face time me and we can eat dinner together 😉 *

My filling was chopped mushrooms, sautéed  in oil, then  I mashed some back beans and lime juice in, seasoned with sea salt, cumin & chile powder

I placed it on a small flour tortilla that I heated in my cast iron skillet ( I CANNOT say enough how much I love  cast Iron to cook with)

top with cheese ( if vegan, try the daiya cheese shreds.. it’s very good, melts and stretches like cheese and can be frozen.. It is on the pricey side ( $5 a bag) but it does freeze, and I just pull out what I need when I need it )

the I added avocado.. fresh salsa.. Chipotle cream sauce and some plain Greek yogurt..  YUM!  ( and sooooooo easy )

As far as the rest of the chipotle peppers ( I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve used the whole can ) I take a freezer bag & label it… place in a jar

then press out the air & seal

Whenever I need some for a recipe, or a burst of flavor, I just break a piece off! No waste here.. yo!

so now that I’ve made you hungry… I have a question for all of you.

I have a fun company that has offered for me to give away one of their products.  I have the choice…

1~ 1 big gift for one lucky recipient…

OR

2~ 10 small gifts ( of the same item) so that TEN of you can win….

so whatcha all think? 1 big winner or 10 smaller ones???

smooches friends!!  oxooxo

crock pot shredded chicken, taco style 

:warning:

a WHOLE lotta chicken ahead.

 

* If you are not a fan then click here for a cookie recipe. (Because who doesn’t like cookies? and if you answer yes to this question. then I don’t think I can help you today)*

But come back tomorrow 🙂

 

Both recipes are beyond easy. No kidding!  the first is a crock pot dish. Now many of you have cooked a chicken dish similar to this, but over the last week I have shared this recipe with 3 different people who had NOT heard of it, so I decided to share it here.

 

If only 1 person learns about it from my blog, then I can sleep with a clean conscience tonight 🙂

 

Crock pot shredded chicken.

I typically make mine with a Mexican inspired theme, but feel free to change the spices around depending on how you want to use the cooked chicken.

In a large crock pot, place boneless chicken breast ( heck, you could used bone -in as well, you’ll just need to remove them later,, also easy 🙂

the chicken can be frozen OR defrosted. That is what is so super cool about this.. you can stick the frozen chicken right in the crock pot in the morning & it will slowly defrost & cook while you go about your busy day. ♥love♥

 

On top of the chicken, I sprinkle about a tablespoon of Cumin, some chipotle chili pepper ( how much you use depend on how hot you want it) Some salt & pepper, a large onion sliced into half moons and if you like it hot, place some hot peppers right on top of the chicken.

 

pour a little water ( about 1/2-3/4 cup right oven chicken ) and cook on low 8-10 hours

when your cooking time is up  remove the peppers( if used). I like to mash mine up with some Greek yogurt for a peppery paste  as a topping.

If you used boned chicken, now is when you would remove the bone. The chicken should fall right off of the bone.

using two forks, shred the chicken right in with the liquid that is still in the crock pot

and there you have a whole bunch of shredded chicken. You cold cool it completely and freeze it at this point, use it in casseroles, top a salad. Use your imagination!

I like to top a corn tortilla with some low fat cheddar cheese, some black beans, chicken mixture & broil until cheese is all melty… Top with sour cream or Greek yogurt ( see my hot pepper paste?) and some fresh cilantro.

oh. yum.

so have fun with this recipe. Find flavors that you want to play with.. then let me know what you used..

 

perhaps lemon, olives & red onions??

perhaps Herbs de provence

maybe lemon & thyme & pepper??

 

Get down with your bad self!!!

 

ciao bellas!

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