Monday, January 31, 2011


Hey...hope everyone had a great weekend and had fun using my design tip over the weekend. I have to share this with dear husband calls me a "Picture Hoarder"...the truth hurts but we have a beautiful family and I look at it as "sharing with others" :-)...anyway...while taking inventory of accessories I had noticed that I could re-do the pics in a different room. I actually think he thought I was "down sizing" our pictures. Just gotta love it! Today's recipe is my family's's delicious, easy and freezer friendly as well. Enjoy!

1 pd. ground beef
1 pd. ground sausage
1 large bell pepper (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
3 (14.5 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes (basil, garlic, oregano)
6 (8 oz.) cans of tomato sauce (basil, garlic, oregano)
2 (6 oz.) can s of tomato paste (basil, garlic, oregano)
Italian Seasoning

In a large non-stick pot saute minced garlic in olive oil on low/med heat for about 2 minutes. Add chopped bell peppers and onions. Cook until tender. Add ground beaf and sausage and cook on medium heat until done. Add tomatoes, sauce and paste and 4 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning. Cook on low heat (stirring occassinally) tasting as it simmers for 2-3 hrs. The flavors of the seasonings will come together as it simmers. Remember you can always add but you can't take out. If you prefer a thicker sauce you can add another can of tomato paste. Serve with your favorite noodles and garlic bread.
Garnish with fresh parsley if you desire.

TWIST: buying the cans of sause already seasoned you are saving money on buying herbs. I use an Italian herb grinder for that extra flavor.

FREEZER TIP:  spray your plastic freezer container with non-stick spray and you will not have the stains in your plastic container. Before adding sause to container make sure it cools down first.

TOMORROW:  Zucchini Lazagna

DESIGN TIP:  I get alot of questions on how to make your "Entry" more eye apealing as you enter your home. Depending on the size of your home this can be challenging. As a designer, I like to have an entry simple but inviting. Using a small scale table gives you the advantage for extra lighting plus personalizing it with a few items as well. You can add a family picture on wall above accent table. If you do not have a coat closet add a few basket under the table for your shoes, etc. I like to use old iron hooks on the wall for coats. Just remember " less is more" depending on your space.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Hey...hope everyone is having a great week. In our family we love to have "breakfast for dinner" creating an Omelet Bar. It's fun, easy, and a great way to get your kids eating those vegetables. The "tip" was shared with me from my Dad years ago while making omelet's together. Enjoy!

Tip: while cooking the egg take your spatula and lift up one side of "tilt" your pan so the uncooked egg runs off the top. Do this throughout the cooking process to help with even cooking of egg. You can cover your pan with lid which allows the steam to help speed up the cooking process as well.

INGREDIENTS: ( one omelet)
2 eggs
bell pepper chopped
onion chopped
cooked ham, bacon and sausage for your "omelet bar"
Vegetarian omelet add grated zucchini and mushrooms

In a non-stick medium size pan heat canola oil in pan. Saute chopped onions and bell pepper until tender on medium heat. In bowl whisk eggs and enough milk for the fluff (about 4 Tb.) Spread in pan and cook using the "tip" above. When omelet is cooked add some grated cheese and carefully flip only one side over. Cover and let cook until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and add the ingredients you desire from your "omelet bar" on top. Add some grated cheddar cheese and cover with lid and cook on low until melted.

TWIST:  Adding the meats after you cook the omelet allows the egg to cook faster. You don't get the added grease from your meat while cooking.

NEXT WEEK:  "TASTE OF ITALY"...easy Italian dishes made with my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. Italian Creme Cake that makes a gorgeous center piece on your table while entertaining.

DESIGN TIP:  Due to today's economy we are all cutting back. Unfortunately, we don't get to "fluff" our homes as often as we'd like. My challenge to you this weekend is to take a "walk-through" of your home. Look at your accessories in each room (lamps, rugs, candles, pictures, mirrors, etc.) and see if you can use those items in a different room. Creating a "different decor" without going shopping and spending any money. Anyone that knows me, well...I love to rearrange furniture using the same concept.
Have a Blessed weekend.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Hey...this is the day we all look forward too..."Game Day". For some reason it doesn't matter what the score is because at half time it's all about the food. This recipe is a great crowd-pleaser and easy on the budget as well. Enjoy!

GAME DAY CHILI: 1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground Italian sausage
2 cans diced tomatoes (14oz.chili ready)
2 cans chili w/beans (16oz mild)
2 cans pinto beans (16oz.w/onions)
1 can ranch style beans (14oz.)
1 can diced tomatoes & green chilies (mild)
2 cans tomato sauce (basil/garlic/oregano)
1 can tomato paste (basil/garlic/oregano)
Chili powder
1 small chopped onion

In a large pot saute chopped onion in olive oil until tender. Add ground beef and sausage with about one tsp of chili powder and cook on medium heat until done. Depending on the fat content of meat you may want to drain some off but leave some for seasoning. Add canned diced tomatoes,chili w/beans,ranch style beans,diced tomatoes and green chilies all undrained. Now drain the can of pinto beans before adding to pot.Next add tomato sauce and paste stirring well. Season with chili seasoning to your liking. Simmer on low/medium for about 2-3 hours to let the flavors come together...stirring occasionally.

TWIST: After you have cooked meat and added tomatoes,sauces,chilies,seasoning, you can put everything in a crock pot on low for 2-3 hours as well.

SERVING TIP: I like to have a bowl of chopped onions for the one's that like that extra "kick" in their chili. A bowl of shredded cheddar cheese for topping as well. Serve chili with saltines or corn bread for that extra touch.
Now for dessert... remember my cookie recipe that you can make into ice-cream sandwiches? Well, this is when it comes into "Play" for your "Big man" on game day!!!

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DESIGN TIP: I'm sorry...their is no designing on "Game Day"...remember.."it's all about Football"!!! We'll catch up tomorrow. Enjoy the day with your family and friends.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Hey...I say croissant...they are such a nice twist to your everyday sandwich loaf. This sandwich is so delicious and easy for that Wednesday night slump. If you save some bacon from your weekend it cuts your prep time in half. Serve it with some of the leftover German Fried Potatoes or your favorite chips. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: (one serving)
                           one croissant
                           1 egg
                           2-3 slices cooked bacon
                           shaved ham
                           2 slices of tomatoes
                           1 slice of Colby and Swiss cheese
SPREAD: mix 2 TB. of mayo with 1 TB. of honey Dijon mustard.

Preheat oven to 350. Cook egg to your desire, set side. In a non-stick baking pan place your croissant (open faced) and spread the mayo mix on each side. Top with slice cheese on each croissant and tomato slices, add shaved ham and slices of bacon on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until warm. Remove, top with cooked egg and fold together. Easy and delicious.
TIP: when cooking egg I like to tri-fold it so it fits better on croissant. If cooking for one heat croissant in your toaster oven instead.


DESIGN TIP:  Color...don't be afraid to use it. If you are hesitant about that room you want to paint get some samples. Tell the store you want a sample of the shade of paint.
I like to paint a piece of sheet rock and place it in the room. Depending on the amount of light that you have your paint will change hues. If your room is a small scale try going with a lighter shade unless your looking for that cozy feel. A neutral color that I use is Khaki. Compliments just about any decor and great color if you are prepping your home for sale.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Hey...hope all is well. Here's a few of my favorite recipes to make in the kitchen with your kids. I always enjoyed being in the kitchen with my daughter. Now that I'm a grandmother (aka...Gege) I cannot wait to do these recipes with my grandson Davin. Just remember to have fun with your kids...decorate an apron together as a weekend project. Your local craft store has them all ready made for about $3.00. For that "little man" in your life make his a mini tool bag. The cookie recipe is a great snack for your "big man" during game day. Enjoy!

Gege's Granola Bars:  1 can Fat Free sweetened condensed milk (14oz)
                                  1 cup peanut butter
                                  2 cups Old Fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
                                  1/2 cup chopped pecans
                                  1/2 cup chopped walnuts
                                  1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
In a non-stick pan warm the condensed milk stirring constantly. Add peanut butter and oatmeal. Cook on low until it breaks away from the sides while stirring. Add pecans and walnuts and remove pan from heat. Spread into a buttered glass baking pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Cover and refrigerate until set. Cut into bars. Delicious and healthy!!!
TIP: Great snacks to take to that Saturday game or even to work. Just wrap each bar in a plastic snack bag.

Gege's Extreme Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour                              1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup instant oatmeal                                 2 large eggs
1 tsp. baking soda                                       1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt                                                     1 cup butterscotch morsels
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter                  1 cup bits 'o brickle (toffee bits)
3/4 cup granulated sugar                          1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375*. combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, toffee bits and pecans. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto greased baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown (ovens vary). Cool on baking sheet for about 2 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
TIP: For a perfect cookie shape use a ice cream scooper. Spray with cooking oil if dough sticks to scooper.
Line baking sheet with Parchment paper for even cooking.

TWIST:  Cookie bar version...Prepare recipe as above. Grease a 15x10 jelly-roll pan or deep cookie sheet or line with Parchment paper. Spread dough evenly into pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan. Cut into bars.

Ultimate ice-cream sandwich...Prepare recipe as above. Let cookies cool completely then freeze cookies for about 15 minutes in a container. This will allow the ice cream to spread easier. Choose cookies that are even in size and spread about 1/2 cup of your favorite ice cream on top of cookie. Use softened ice cream for easier spreading. Place additional cookie on top and wrap with saran wrap. Place wrapped cookies in freezer container and freeze until set.


DESIGN TIP:  Decorating your child's room can be fun and a little hectic. To make things a little easier have your child write down 5 of his/her favorite things that he would like in the room. Now choose 3 of the items to start the other 2 items for those "good incentive" times. Personalize the room and make it inviting using their favorite colors. I love to create a "reading area" just using a comfy chair (bean bag) a fun accent lamp and comfy throw to snuggle with. You are creating that special place that your child can have some moments to themselves and encouraging reading habits. This is also a great time for you to do those tasks by yourself :-)


Monday, January 24, 2011


Hey...hope everyone had a great weekend. This recipe is catered to the Monday night hustle of getting back in the "work groove". It's easy and delicious that you would want to take the leftovers to work tomorrow for lunch. The name alone sounds like were dining in Italy tonight. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  1 pkg. Chicken and Prosciutto Tortelloni
                    2 8oz. can of tomato sauce (basil,garlic,oregano)
                    1 6oz. can of tomato paste (basil,garlic,oregano)
                    1 14.5 can diced tomatoes (basil,garlic,oregano) using 1/2 of liquid
                    1 garlic clove (optional)
                    Parmesan cheese
 In a nonstick pan saute crushed garlic in olive oil  on low/med heat. Takes about 2-3 minutes just until you smell the garlic. Add tomato sauce, paste and diced tomatoes using only half of liquid. You can add more of the liquid as it simmers if you want. Simmer Sauce for about 20 minutes. About half way through start cooking your Tortelloni's following the directions on pkg. Drain. Ladle enough sauce on plate, add Tortellini's and top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley if you desire.
HINT:  The sauces are already seasoned so taste before you add additional spices. If needed you can add some Italian Seasoning.

TWIST:  Needing to stretch the recipe...cook some spaghetti noodles as well. When you plate just add the spaghetti noodles then some sauce and top with the tortellini's and parmesan cheese. You still get the great taste and save some money as well.


DESIGN TIP:  Bedding...I like to keep things simple so you can change out and not feel guilty. Try a Matelasse' cover for your bed in the dominant color that you prefer. Use your pillows and bedskirt to tie in your accent colors. Then you can change alot easier within the budget. Example: Chocolate matelasse' with accent in robin-egg blue or sage green. For a richer look try chocolate and red combination. Very rich looking and inviting especially in a guest bedroom.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Hey...the blog is "under construction" but in the meantime I would like to share some helpful items to keep on hand. As a child, I did not have the luxury of being taught how to cook and bake. I was cooking for my five yr. old sister when I was only nine. Wow, looking back I wonder how we survived. My goal was to never let my child go through the same experience. This blog was inspired by my daughter to help make life a little easier in the kitchen. I am Blessed to have a "live-In" food critic (my husband)and an Editor (my daughter)to walk me through the "technical stuff". As a Designer, I will share some Decorating tips for your home.
So wish me luck and let's have some fun!

PANTRY ITEMS: Chicken/Beef Broth,Cream of Chicken and   Mushroom Soup,Minute Rice,Linguine and Spaghetti Pasta, Elbow Macaroni,Pineapple juice,canned Tomato Sauce,Tomato Paste and Diced Tomatoes all Bail,Garlic and Oregano flavored,Can of Diced Tomatoes & Green Chillies, Tortillas,Idaho and New Potatoes,Onions, fresh Galic and Olive Oil.

SEASONINGS: Italian Seasoning,Lemon Pepper, Garlic Salt,Oregano,Parsley,Chives,Chili and Taco Seasoning Pkts.,Seasoned Bread Crumbs.

COLD ITEMS: Wedge of Fresh Parmesan Cheese,Shredded Cheddar Cheese,Eggs,Milk,Cream Cheese,Sour Creme,Zucchini,Cherry Tomatoes,Fresh Lemon and Green Pepper.

MEATS: Bacon,Ham,Chicken Breasts,Frozen Cheese Pizza and Garlic Bread.

The Most Important Staple in your kitchen...Chocolate and your Favorite Coffee!

I also challenge you to "Cut those Coupons". With today's economy we all need a little help. Keep a total of the money you saved throughout the year. Set a goal... put the money you saved away for that summer vacation you want with your family. Believe me...I saved over 300.00 last year and I wasn't even trying. Look at it as giving yourself a raise that we all deserve! 

Friday, January 21, 2011


Hey...we made it through the week but now it's time to get scrambling...with eggs that is! These recipes are so easy that you won't feel guilty sleeping in. Recipes are easy to prepare ahead of time and freezer friendly. Enjoy!
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Cinnamon Raisin French Toast: Loaf cinnamon/raisin bread
                                                  3 Eggs
                                                  1/4 cup milk
                                                  1 tsp. vanilla
Scramble the eggs,milk and vanilla in bowl. Using a non-stick pan pre-heat about 4-6 tablespoons of oil in pan. Just enough to get the crunchy taste in frying. Now take a slice of your cinnamon bread and drench it in the egg mixture on both sides. Carefully add to pan...remember you have hot oil if your doing this with your kids. Brown on both sides, plate/cover, repeat process. Recipe makes about 4 servings. Drizzle your favorite syrup on top, dust with powdered sugar and slices of strawberries.
FREEZER TIP: Take your cinnamon loaf and divide it into the amount of slices that you would use for you or your family in one meal. Place in freezer friendly container. To thaw out before just let slices come to room temperature on a plate or set in refrigerator the night before. Convenient and easy.

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German Fried Potatoes: (My son-in law's favorite)
                                      4-6 medium Idaho potatoes
                                      8 strips of bacon
                                      1 green bell pepper chopped
                                      1/2 yellow onion chopped
                                      1 clove garlic (optional)
Boil potatoes with their skins on until fork tender. Remove and cool. In non-stick pan fry bacon until crispy (it's o.k. the bacon gets soft again as it cooks with the potatoes). Remove bacon and let cool on a plate with paper towel. Depending on the fat content of your bacon you should have enough grease to fry the potatoes (about 8 TB). If not you can add a little oil. On medium heat add minced garlic if using or just add your chopped bell pepper and onions. Cook until tender. In meantime, cut your potatoes and add to pan. Mix well and now take your bacon and shred into pieces over potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally as it cooks. This is where your options come into play...remove half and let cool down.

TWIST: Add about 4 scrambled eggs to cooked potatoes and cook on low/med heat until eggs are cooked. Remove. Warm a tortilla, top with potato mixture and shredded cheddar cheese and your favorite hot sauce.
FREEZER FRIENDLY: Place your reserved cooled German fried potatoes and place in a freezer friendly container. You now have an excellent side dish to your favorite meat during the week. Thaw container in refrigerator the night before using. Convenient and easy.
Tip: Warming a tortilla...take a paper plate and cover it with a moistened paper towel, add 2-3 tortillas and cover with another moistened paper towel. Zap in microwave for about 20 seconds (until warm).

NEXT WEEK:  Chicken and Prosciutto Tortellini
                         Kids in the Kitchen
                         Bread or Croissant
                         All about Football
                         Omelets made Easy

DESIGN TIP:  Accessorizing...for a "casual look" accessorize in odd numbers. Stagger your heights. (example candles) add your favorite photo next to two candles. Use books if you need the extra height. I love to go antiquing and find books at a great price.
For a "traditional look" accessorize in even numbers. Example two lamps on the back of a sofa table. The secret is you are creating a "mirror image" while you are decorating.
Always remember that no matter what the current trend is make your home functional for your family's lifestyle.