Tuesday, December 28, 2010


So lately I've been in major clean out, clean up and spiffy up mode. I LOVE to DIY when I can and something that I do usually about once a week is thrift. I frequent local thrift stores and peruse and when the day is good, I'll find a good little treasure. My latest a sewing table complete with a powder blue sewing machine, parts, instruction booklet and box all included for $20. I'll take that! Another recent project was this little beaut that I got at Salvation for $8 and then got an additional 25% off! Ha! So I came across this fun little website called Skip to My Lou where each Monday there are a TON of crafty little DIY's that you can see and do each with it's own little tutorial and how-to. I live for these, these little to-do's that I can whip up and create on my own. Makes me feel accomplished. So I ran across this on my morning Monday peruse and it was a light bulb moment (pun intended) and also a total GOTTAHAVEITICANDOTHAT moment. So I did it. My DH offered his meek electrical experise and we went from "good grief that's hideous" to "wow that's terrific!" in our humble little kitchen. See for yourself! What kinds of DIY's do you like to do? (pics above show finished product, what you need, and the 'before' of our project).

Friday, November 5, 2010


I was a finicky little kid. I had to have things a certain way, order and would cry when something icky was stuck to my hand. I still have issues with all three-me and honey do NOT get along. I'm learning that a certain little someone very dear to me is the very same way. The other day, for instance, I thought I'd help quell the 5 o'clock fits by making pumpkin pie playdough Oh this was not the case. She oooohhed and ahhhhhhed as I showed her what she could do with it but as soon as that index finger hit the surface of playdough squish...THAT WAS THE END OF IT. "All done" came out of her mouth and any attempt to convince her to try it was met with the sad lip and a quivering "all done, peas". Hence, she is her mother's daughter. We're battling the terrible two's and some days I'm at my wit's end. She has terrific qualities of independence, strong will and determination but right now, while we set boundaries and rules that will be upheld regardless of how many peas' we hear, it's a tough road. No one said parenting is easy. It's not. It's a constant war within yourself of, "am I doing this right?" "Did I make the right decision?" "Will giving her another bag of fruit 'nacks' really hurt anything?" And then the deeper questions of whether what you do now, will really make a difference in the future? Will I be able to establish a bond with her in spite of her independence? Will she come to me as a teenager and feel like she can ask me those tough questions? It's constant. I take it one day at a time as much as I can. I feel like those teenage years are still quite a while away, it still floors me that my daughter is nearly two already. Where did the time go hits me smack on the forehead daily. I can't just stick those questions and wonders on the back burner permanently because like everyday, it's gonna smack me in the face like a sack of bricks that one of those tomorrow's will eventually be today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Not Your Mama's Chili

It's been too long since I've been here and I'm terribly overdue for a post. Sorry about that. But in light of the Fall season, I've been cooking up a comfort food storm in my kitchen. All those typical warm, cozy cookin' foods that you crave right aboouuutttt NOW! Chili, homemade chicken and noodle and my first batch of homemade spaghetti sauce-which thankfully, was a success. I battled my first batch of chili about two years ago and found that like most things, I wondered about going traditional or not. I went the untraditional route and I've been making the same chili recipe since. I have some 'secret' ingredients that some might balk at, turn up their nose to, or stare at me wide eyed, while others wonder in amazement that it actual tastes decent. In my tastebuds' view, it's fabulous! Smokey in flavor, bold in taste and very rich to the palette. Very NOT typical chili. It's now a staple come fall and winter time and I like to relish in its nonconformist-ness. I adapted this recipe from a recipe found on allrecipes but I've made it all my own by adding a few things that I feel has made it great.

Chelle's Chili

3- 28 oz cans peeled and diced tomatoes
2- 29 oz cans tomato sauce
2 c diced onion
1 T italian seasoning
1 lb sausage, browned
2 lbs lean ground beef, browned
1 lb, bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
1- bottle bold n spicy bbq sauce
2 pkts McCormick's chili seasoning
3 T semi sweet chocolate chips
2-4 cans kidney/chili beans
1 T Sheila's Spice

In large stock pot, combine all ingredients. Simmer 2-3 hours on low. Long and slow is the secret and like most comfort foods, the leftovers and next day-ers and even more yummy! Spoons up!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dig me some happy

So this year, because I was 9 months preggo before spring really hit, I didn't plan or work to have my annual vegetable garden. It's been a tough summer without my, somewhat aimless, wondering among leaves and the few weeds that have been brave enough to show their faces, in my ever so much appreciated garden. I've missed it and have vowed this summer to NEVER go another summer without one. There's so much I can do with fresh stuff that it never gets old or stagnant. I've mentioned previously how much I enjoy summer and picnic fare. But since I've gone without my garden, it doesn't seem the same. That being said, I still appreciate and tinker around in the garden I do have, when I have the time. So I was thrilled to DEATH when Chris' grandpa made these as a little fun to-do project that Chris' mom thought of for me. I took a picture and these are just as cute in person as in the picture and the first thought....I've got to put these on my blog. So here they are for you to see and maybe inspire a little bit. Everyone needs to be sprinkled with happiness to here you go...shake, shake!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Plink Plink Plink

This was the oh, so satisfying sound that graced my dining room this afternoon after I fulfilled my dream of making and canning my own homemade salsa. I made two different kinds, tomatillo and hatch green chile and then I made a more traditional salsa with corn and black beans. Yummy yummy yummy! My dad and family have been making salsa for as long as I can remember. I can recall many Septembers where the family got together and crowded around someones kitchen and made salsa. All day. These were the days of lightning bugs and hide-n-seek in the dark. Thanks to chiggers and the ever rampant seasonal allergies those days are fewer and farther apart but I still enjoy some deck time every now and again but the salsa-making days are still going strong. I'd say that salsa making runs through my family and salsa is definitely in our blood. The more it makes you sweat, the better. I've finally picked up the craft and I'm proud of my first batch. I'll be making more and experimenting along the way just like my fam has. So here's to the first of many! Getcha some chips folks and maybe a drink or two...you may need it.

Tomatillo & Hatch Green Chile Salsa

3 c roma tomatoes, peeled

1/2 red onion

1 lbs. Hatch green chiles, roasted

1-1 1/2 lbs. fresh Hatch green chiles, halved & seeded

1/2 bunch cilantro

6 serrano peppers, halved and seeded

6 limes, squeezed

black pepper to taste

1 1/2 T salt

I processed everything in a food processor and then cooked on medium-low heat for 30 minutes until simmering. Then I canned in a water bath for 15 minutes. This has medium heat.

Traditional Salsa

3-5 lbs tomatoes, peeled

1 1/2 T pickling salt

1/4 c vinegar

1 red onion

4 t minced garlic

1/2 bag mini carrots

3 medium potatoes

1/2-1 lbs Hatch green chiles, halved and seeded
1 poblano, halved and seeded

5 jalapenos

6 Serranos, both halved and seeded

6 T Mrs. Wages salsa seasoning

Process everything in a food processor. Cook over medium-low heat until simmering for about 20 minutes. Can in water bath for 15 minutes. Voila!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I am loving me some salads right now. I've tried two this past week and both were a pleasant surprise and created profound happiness in my mouth for one, and happiness in my heart to know that it was something healthy that I made up for the Foster fam. The first one is a colorful, super kid friendly salad with edamame and corn along with some other friends and the second was a spring mix salad that was tart, sweet, and so DELICIOUS that I had to have a second plate (all without feeling the slightest bit guilty) because it's healthy. Surprisingly, both were filling and I left the table feeling quite full and didn't feel the need to sneak a snack later on, a good thing for me right now. I'm the snacker and I'm going on two months without my super snacking frenzies that I'm very capable of not avoiding. So here you go, some super yummy rabbit food for you and the fam to guiltlessly devour. Eat up and have some seconds!
Spring Mix & Pear Salad
1 pkg Spring mix

2/3 c pecan halves
1/4 c balsamic vinegar, divided
dash cayenne pepper
dash cinnamon
3 T sugar divided
1/4 c olive oil
1 t dijon mustard
1/8 t salt
2 medium pears thinly sliced
1/4 c parmesan cheese
In skillet, cook pecan halves with 2 T vinegar, cayenne & cinnamon over medium heat. Sprinkle with 1 T sugar and cook until sugar is melted, 2-4 minutes. Spread on foil to cool.
Put spring mix in bowl and top with sliced pear.
Whisk oil, mustard, remaining vinegar and salt. I added a pinch of sugar. Drizzle over salad and top with nuts. The nuts in this salad are killer! Would be a great snack too.

Corn & Edamame Salad
3 ears corn
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 c edamame, cooked and drained
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, slivered
2 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Boil corn for 10-12 minutes. Cut corn off cob and put into bowl. Add edamame, tomato and bell pepper. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic and s & p. Pour over corn mixture. Serve immediately. This will keep up to 3 days in fridge. Yummy and colorful!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hellaciously Good Enchiladas

Oh My, I can cook. Sometimes. This was a creation of my very own and it was a SUCCESS! Wahooooo! Yeah me. Okay, enough tooting of my own horn. I saw a recipe in a magazine for enchiladas and I have to admit that I've never been one to attack such a recipe with much fervor. My dad makes enchiladas and I must say he's made it an art. One that I wasn't too keen on trying or making. He's made it look, seem and taste so effortless that I felt that it wasn't worth my while breaking what seemed unbroken. Well I took a leap of faith in my kitchen, took a little turn from what I was used to and created these. The picture doesn't say much but trust me, these are soooo good!
So here's my version, and dad, your beef enchiladas are unbeatable! But for Chicken Enchiladas, these are IT! So I hope the enchilada doesn't fall too far from the tortilla because I did it folks and I'm pretty happy about it!

Excellente Chicken Enchiladas-Chelle Style

1-2 c Spanish rice (I used the Knorr fiesta rice pkt)
8 oz block cream cheese, soft
1 can enchilada sauce
2 c Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
10-12 flour tortillas
2-4 chicken breasts, depending on how many you're feeding, cooked and shredded
picante sauce

Make rice. In bowl, combine rice, cream cheese, 1/3 can enchilada sauce, 1 c of cheese and chicken. Spray your baking dish. I used an 8x8 pan and used small tortillas since there's just 3 of us. Spoon mixture into tortillas and roll up placing folded side down. Repeat and fill your pan. Top with remaining cheese and enchilada sauce. Dot top of enchiladas with picante sauce and bake 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I love mexican food. Who doesn't? The chips, the spices, the spicy tomatoes doing their happy little dance with the cilantro, onions, jalapenos and their friends garlic, and salt and pepper! *Sigh* At our house, having hispanic food twice a week isn't out of the norm. We change it up from time to time but tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, flautas...we do it all. Along side these fiestas there's always a dip but my favorite by far, and the most healthy of options, is my pico de gallo. It's a must have topping-you can't have the chips without the dip, the cupcake without the sprinkles, the ice cream with no cone, come on now....get to choppin' and have some already!

Pico de Gallo

8-10 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2-1 red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

juice from one lime

1 T oil

4 T fresh cilantro, minced

1 t coarse salt

1/2 t pepper

Mix it all up and let sit for a while. Let the flavors meld and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tastes of Summer

To me, there's nothing better than picnic food. The kind of food that screams family reunion, togetherness, the hoops and hollars of memories shared, good and bad and time around a picnic table. Those times usually include the the mile long table piled high with the summer staples; baked beans, hamburgers, pistachio jello salad and the like. This recipe came from my great friend and mama, Ashley, thank you for sharing this girl! She made this for one of our family dinners and as soon as the sweet tanginess hit my tastebuds, I was in summertime heaven. I hope that you have one of those recipes that brings about the detritus memories of reunions, gatherings, picnics and catching fireflies. Summer is the best time. It's my second favorite season because of everything it brings with it; the growth of nature, the pool, mowing the lawn and the fragrant fresh cut grass, blowing bubbles with Ava, walking barefoot (if you so choose), and flip flops, ahhhh flip flops. Isn't that ever so familiar sound such a way of today? Just slip 'em on and you're ready to go, ready to do anything! Well before you go, take a dive into this salad. It tastes like summer!

Tangy Tomato & Cucumber Salad

1/4 c white vinegar

1/2 c sugar

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

2-3 T olive oil

3 tomatoes sliced

3 med. cucumbers seeded and sliced

1 sm yellow onion halved and sliced

Put all veggies in medium bowl. Whisk together vinegar through oil. Pour over veggies and allow to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010


TA-DAA! The cake was somewhat of a success. The first layer stuck to the pan, the second layer caved and the third layer was a dream so it was progessional success. Nothing wrong with that. The crumb of this cake is super moist and dense but the taste is nothing more than pure vanilla delicious-ness. After visiting the Bloom Baking Co. at the River Market last weekend and sampled a Bloomberry cake, I was determined to make my own. The owner Janet O'Toole has created the perfect combination of true vanilla pleasure meets super simple whipped dream frosting. I courageously asked about the frosting since it was nothing short of perfect for this cake and she shared 4 simple ingredients. I found my own combination and created my own bloomberry cake. Renamed the following:

Whipped Dream Vanilla Cake (with fruit):

2 c + 2 T cake flour
1 c milk
6 large egg whites
2 t vanilla
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 3/4 c sugar
4 t baking powder
1 t salt
8 T butter unsalted
4 T oil

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Grease two 9 in cake pans. (I used 3-6 in cake pans.)

Combine milk, egg whites, vanilla, & vanilla bean in bowl. Set aside.

Sift dry ingredients into bowl. Cut in butter and oil until mixture resembles small crumbs. Gradually add in wet ingredients. Beat 3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape bowl and beat again another 30 seconds. Divide batter among pans. For two 9-in pans, bake approximately 30 min. For 3-6 in pans, bake 25-30 minutes. Watch the smaller pans because the time largely depends on how hot your oven runs. Mine baked closer to the 30 minute mark but because the cake is so dense and damp, I had to bake each one a few minutes longer. Let cool completely and frost. Between each layer and before I frosted I placed sliced strawberries. Yummy!

Whipped Dream frosting

1- 8 oz container mascarpone cheese
1-8 oz container cream cheese
1 regular size container cool whip
1 t (or more depending on your taste buds) almond extract.

Cream together the mascarpone, cream cheese and almond. FOLD in the cool whip. Keep cake chilled. Now go EAT UP!

BTW, this cake totally reminds me of a book I'm reading called Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray. It's terrific. Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To be or not to be...organic

Well I have officially begun the trek towards what I call, a healthy approach to my family's future. I have started the transition of creating an entirely organic kitchen. No more processed, enriched, additived, preservatived foods. So far.....good. I have to admit this isn't the easiest process. I realize that I'm sacrificing the oh so sacred Kraft Mac N Cheese which I've held dear since childhood or BC's ever so decadent and buttery yellow cake which is oh so (gulp) moist and delicious and I'm embracing the new and unfamiliar territory of fresh and safe.

The reason for the change is twofold: for baby girl #1 and baby boy #2. I want to be around for a LONG time to enjoy my two kiddos and I know that something has to change. I'm no expert but from what I've been reading, this is a good lifestyle change to make. As I've been reading, the list of what's lurking in today's Western style food is shocking. In all the books I've read they are all saying the same things; toxins, free radicals, enriched, neurotoxin, and other things of the like. These don't sound to me, like things I want in my body or more so, in my kiddos' bodies. So we're making the switch.

Where to start? Me? I started with the spice cabinet, of all places, I know. But having been out of town for 6 weeks, it was the perfect time to start considering the only things in my fridge were a jar of strawberry jelly, pickles and an empty egg tray. Soooo, I planned my meals, processed food free and headed to Whole Foods. Here's what we tried and liked. We're two for three which I think is a great start.

Mixed Berries with Vanilla Bean Syrup
from Fresh & Quick 2010

serves 4

1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water

Put ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer 7 minutes.

In 4 small bowls put

1 pint fresh raspberries

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh blackberries

1/2 pint strawberries, halved

Pour about 3 T of syrup over berries and serve.


Bison Burgers with caramelized onions and dates

from Grilling 2010

1 T Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 t ground black pepper

1 lbs ground bison

2 T olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c chopped pitted dates

2 T dry red wine ( I subbed red wine vinegar)

sliced cheese, opt

In bowl combine Worcestershire, 2 cloves garlic, black pepper with bison. Do not over mix. Form into patties.

In skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and 6 cloves garlic. Saute 10 min or until onions are tender and golden. Stir in dates and wine. Cook 1-2 minutes further. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

Grill patties to liking. Top with onion mixture.


Lime Chicken with Tomatillo-Corn Salsa

from BHG June 2010

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 c olive oil

juice and zest of one lime

1 T minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

1 1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t black pepper

1 recipe tomatillo corn salsa

1/2 c sour cream

1 T Evoo

In bowl, combine olive oil, 2 T lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Marinate chicken 1-2 hours.

Grill to liking. Prepare salsa.

Tomatillo Corn Salsa

2- 1/2 in thick slices yellow onion

5 tomatillos (about 1/2 lbs)

1 ear fresh corn

1 med poblano chile

1/2 c packed cilantro leaves

1/2 t brown sugar

Because I like to grill, I grilled these on a piece of sprayed foil for about 10 minutes. Then I put all except the corn into my Blendtec. Pour into a bowl and stir in corn. Once chicken is grilled, top with sour cream and salsa. This was an EXCELLENT summer recipe. It's a new fave.

** I also like my salsa to have some heat or kick. This salsa had neither but the flavor was perfect. I'd recommend adding some jalapeno for some heat if you desire.