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This Week’s Poultry and Seafood Recipes

How’s your New Year going so far? Amazing I hope! If you made goals or resolutions, are you still working on them? I mentioned earlier that one of my goals for 2018 was to embrace a healthier habit each month. This month it’s to eat more poultry and seafood. So, this week’s menus are based on poultry and seafood main courses.

Oh, and all recipes are now printable!

The Menu


Chicken Chili (with a THM “E” meal option)


Herbed Shrimp with Cilantro Brown Rice

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Roasted Green Beans


Turkey/Chicken Meatloaf with Steamed Broccoli

Orange Sweet Rolls


The Recipes




Chicken Chili

This is a quick and filling recipe. For those following Trim Healthy Mama, leaving out the cheese will make this an E meal. 

Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 3 cups chicken stock or bone broth (low-sodium recommended)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (can sub with more chicken stock)
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 3 cans (14oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans diced green chiles, mild or medium
  • 3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded/grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro


  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, heat olive oil and saute onions until just turning golden. Add garlic and spices, cooking until garlic is fragrant, stirring continuously. Add stock and wine, and simmer for 5 minutes. 

  2. Stir in chicken, beans, and chiles. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. 

  3. Turn heat to low and add the cheese slowly, stirring until it melts. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in lime juice and add cilantro, simmering for 5 minutes. 

  4. Top with favorite garnishes, like chopped tomatoes, green onions, sour cream, or broken tortilla chips. 

Recipe Notes

For those following Trim Healthy Mama, use breast meat and leave out the cheese for an E meal. 

Menu Meals Sprimp

Grilled Shrimp with Fresh Herbs

If you don’t have fresh herbs, substitute 1 tsp of dried. Preparation time includes 60 minutes of "marinating" (passive)time.

Course Main Course
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. good olive oil for grill


  1. Combine everything except for the olive oil and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Heat the grill and brush well with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Grill the shrimp over direct heat for 1-2 minutes on each side, until pink. Remove from grill immediately when done.
  3. Serve over rice.

Cilantro Brown Rice

Adding lime juice and cilantro to rice gives the formerly bland dish a real kick! Give it try for yourself. This recipe uses brown rice, but you can substitute white rice. 

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 minute
Servings 4 people


  • 2 cups Prepared Rice (I recommend Minute Brown Rice if you're pressed for time)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp lime zest
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro


  1. Cook your rice, according to directions. This recipe calls for 2 cups of prepared rice.

  2. Stir in lime juice, lime zest, and chopped cilantro. Serve.



Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts

Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 4 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Let chicken stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  2. Heat a large stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Place chicken in pan, rounded side down, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes more, or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 5 minutes on a plate or platter covered with foil.

  3. Add remaining oil, onion, and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Next, add flour and sauté 30 seconds. Stir in stock; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining pepper, salt, butter, and sugar. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. 



Roasted Green Beans

Who'd have thought roasting fresh or frozen green beans would take them to a new taste level? Give these a try to see for yourself. 

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen petite or thin green beans
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450. 

  2. Spread beans in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Use hands to toss the beans to spread oil evenly, season with salt and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes or until dark gold.


Turkey Meatloaf

It's hard to make a tender, moist meatloaf with ground turkey or chicken. This recipe delivers, though. I use sprouted bread to make my own breadcrumbs (see pic in directions). I cube about 4 slices of bread, layer on a baking sheet, and let dry overnight. Then I add them directly into the meat mixture in the food processor.

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onions (I use frozen)
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey (can sub ground chicken)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I make my own with sprouted whole wheat bread)
  • 1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
  • 3/4 cup ketchup (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  1. Melt butter in a skillet. Cook onion and garlic in melted butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place mixture in a large bowl to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine turkey, bread crumbs, egg, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper with onion mixture. I use a food processor, pulsing until mixed. 

  3. Press meatloaf into an 8x4-inch loaf pan. Spread remaining ketchup on top.

  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. (Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.)

  5. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.



Orange Sweet Rolls

Prep time includes rising (passive) time.

Make ahead/overnight option: This dough can be made the night before through step 4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm environment, about 1 hour.

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 2-3 drops orange oil

Orange Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • juice from the orange (2-3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp orange extract


  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, toss the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast together. Set aside.
  2. Heat the milk and butter together in the microwave until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm to touch (about 110°F). Stir in the orange juice, 1 Tbsp. orange zest, and the egg. Combine the butter mixture and the flour mixture and stir until it forms a soft dough that is smooth and bounces back when you poke it. If not, stir in 1 Tbsp of flour at a time until it is. 

  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 1 minute. Place in a lightly greased bowl and let rest for about 10 minutes.

  4. After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14x8 inch rectangle. Mix the softened butter and orange oil together and spread on top. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, sugar, and remaining orange zest. Sprinkle it over the dough with a spoon.

  5. Roll up the dough tightly and pinch down the edge to seal it. Cut into 10-12 even rolls (using dental floss will make cutting easier) and arrange in a lightly greased 9-inch round cake pan or pie pan. Loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil or plastic wrap (so the risen dough won't stick to it) and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 60-90 minutes. After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375°F.

  6. Bake for 25-28 minutes until lightly browned. If the rolls brown too quickly, cover them with foil.

  7. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners' sugar, remaining orange juice, and extract together until smooth. Drizzle or spread over warm rolls.

Give me some feedback on the new recipe format! Keep eating healthy my friends and enjoy your weekend.

Sunday Spaghetti for Dinner

I am dubbing this recipe, Sunday Spaghetti, for several reasons. First off, for you working moms it’s an ideal weekend meal to wow friends and family with. Secondly, it takes several hours to make, though most of that is just simmering on the stove. And lastly, it makes your whole house smell like a fine Italian restaurant while it cooks. Your family will run to dinner!

What Makes This Spaghetti So Good

One of the things that makes this recipe really good is the blend of meats. The meatloaf blend (I am in love with this stuff, it’s so versatile!) provides a tender meat base and the Italian sausage provides complex flavoring.

Several hours of simmering allows the tomatoes to literally caramelize, providing depth and silkiness. Together with the meat, they make a heavenly sauce. If you have a smaller group to feed while they’re raving about how good it is, you’ll be smiling inside knowing you have the other half of the sauce in the freezer!

Paired with a side salad and garlic bread, an ordinary Sunday (or Saturday) will become memorable with this dinner.

Believe me, Sunday Spaghetti should be cooking in your kitchen soon! Bon Appétit!

Recipes are now printable!


Print Recipe
Sunday Spaghetti
This recipe is ideal for busy weekends because you can "fix it and forget it" on the stove. It is sure to wow with it's rich and satisfying flavor.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Cook Time 5+ hours
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Cook Time 5+ hours
  1. Using a large Dutch oven or stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, carrot, celery, and salt, and cook until softened. Stir in ground meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until no longer pink. Drain off visible fat.
  2. Stir in milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until milk evaporates and rendered fat remains, about 30 minutes. Stir in wine, bring to simmer, and cook until wine evaporates, about 30 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and 3 cups of reserved juice. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, so that only occasional bubbles appear at the surface, and cook for at least 4 hours. The sauce will have cooked down a few inches.
  4. This recipe is enough for 2 boxes of spaghetti or pasta.
Recipe Notes

I use 1 cup of frozen "seasoning blend" to replace the onions and celery.

Be sure to drain off fat after cooking ground meat, otherwise your sauce will continue to retain the excess fat.

This recipe makes A LOT of spaghetti sauce! If you're serving less than 6 people, freeze the other half for later.

Share this Recipe

What’s Cooking This Week

I’ve been a little distracted with rearranging and redecorating this month, so my kitchen needs a little love. What better way to give it love than by creating some delicious meals? That’s what I aim to do this week.

When it comes to meal planning, I generally turn to my favorite cookbooks. Right now, I am using these four cookbooks. I rotate them frequently.

I shared on Facebook and Instagram that I got a new cookbook, Love Welcome Serve, last week. So that will plan into what’s cooking in my kitchen this week.

Prep Tips for Cooking Ease

For those of you interested in doing as much meal prep as possible the night before, I’ve listed easy “Night Before Tips” for my recipes. One tip is to cook your chicken breasts in batches and save or freeze them for later use in casseroles and soups. Another tips is to hit the freezer section and stock up on chopped onions, bell pepper and onion blend, and seasoning blend.

It doesn’t matter what brand you use, these all can be found in the frozen section. The Seasoning Blend contains onions and celery. This week’s meals are also low-carb friendly!

What’s Cooking This Week


Beef Crockpot Stew
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas with Ranch Salad
Spaghetti Pie (with a Low-Carb option) with Green Salad
Chicken Dumplings



Beef Crockpot Stew

Night Before Tip: If your crockpot has a removable crock, put the stew meat and broth in the crock, along with the seasonings (not the cornstarch) and place the lid on, upside down. Put your prepared vegetables in a ziplock bag and place them on top of the lid. In the morning, all you have to do is to add the bagged vegetables to the meat, put the crock your crockpot, and set the crockpot.


  • 1 1/2 pounds of stew meat, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, thickly sliced
  • 4 cups of beef stock or bone broth (low sodium recommended)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. each of onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. of nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch (this equals 15 carbs total, but you can replace with a lower carb option if needed)


  1. Add all the ingredients except peas and cornstarch into the crockpot. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  2. About 30 minutes prior to serving, mix cornstarch and 1/2 cup of COLD water together. Mix until smooth. Add to crockpot and allow to thicken the liquid before serving.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas with Tortilla Salad

Night Before Tip: Poach your chicken ahead of time. Consider making enough for the Chicken Dumplings, too. Using a skillet with a tight-fitting lid, add chicken breasts. Cover with water and several generous pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, put on the lid, turn down the heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Let cool and dice or shred meat.


  • 8 Mission Carb Balance tortillas (highly recommended, they come in white and whole wheat)
  • 2 cups cooked (about 2 big or 3 small breasts), shredded chicken
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 3/4 chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 (4 oz) cans diced mild green chilies


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 pan
  2. Mix chicken, 1 cup cheese, and 1 can of chilies. Warm your tortillas slightly in the microwave, wrapped in paper towels for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add about 1/3 cup on each tortilla, give or take. Roll it up, and place in pan.
  4. In a sauce pan, on medium heat, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat until thick and bubbly.
  5. Turn down heat to low or simmer. Stir in sour cream and the second can of chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don’t want curdled sour cream.
  6. Pour the sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake 20 min, then broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

I generally buy bagged salad for the convenience. I recommend adding tortilla chips and ranch salad for this entrée.

Spaghetti Pie with a Low-Carb option and Green Salad

Low-Carb option: use Konjac noodles (amazon link) like Trim Healthy Noodles (, or Dreamfield’s Angel Hair pasta (available in grocery stores). This recipe was inspired by Love Welcome Serve’s Layered Spaghetti Pie, but has been modified to a lower-carb version.

This is a great brand to use to lower carbs. It doesn’t have any added-sweetness, including sugar.


  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 cup onion (I use frozen)
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • 2 jars (23-24 oz) of Bertolli’s Rustic Cut Pasta Sauce (or similar no-sugar added pasta sauce)
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • generous pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 14 oz of Trim Healthy Noodles or Dreamfield’s Angel Hair Pasta
  • 2 cups of ricotta cheese (or sub with strained cottage cheese)
  • 4 cups of mozarella cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano


  1. Preheat oven to 350. If using dried pasta, cook pasta according to instructions. For Trim Healthy Noodles or Konjac, drain and rinse well, following instructions on bag.
  2. Add olive oil to a large skillet and saute onions until they are translucent (about 3 minutes or so).  Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Strain out fat. Add 2 jars of sauce, 1 tsp. garlic, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Add the
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, add eggs, 1 tsp. garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the dried ricotta.
  4. Grease a springboard pan and place on top of a large sheet pan. Spread 1/3 of the meat/pasta mixture, 1/2 of the ricotta/cheese mixture, then repeat with 1/2 of the remaining meat/pasta, all of the ricotta/cheese mix, then the rest of the meat/pasta.
  5. Top with 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, over loosely with foil and base for 40 minutes.
  6. Let stand, cooling in the springboard pan for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  7. Pair with a green salad, I buy prepackaged salads for convenience.

Chicken Dumplings

Night Before Tip: Prepare the chicken the night before (see Creamy Chicken Enchiladas).

Low-Carb version: Skip the dumplings, or remove enough of the Chicken Stew for the low-carb serving before adding dumplings.


Chicken Stew
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 small or 1 large onion
  • 1 ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 lbs. of chopped or diced chicken
  • 8 cups of reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, chives)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • *minced herbs for garnish

Stew Instructions:

  1. Using an 8 quart or larger heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven, add butter and vegetables and sauté for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add chicken, stock, and water and bring to a boil. While chicken is cooking, prepare the dumplings.

Dumplings Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and herbs.
  2. Stir in the butter and the buttermilk, until just combined, don’t over-mix.
  3. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dumpling mixture and place on top of the stew, leaving a little space between the dumplings (they will expand). You’ll get about 24 dumplings.
  4. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 mins. The dumplings cook in the steam, so don’t lift the lid. Stir the dumplings, replace lid, and cook for another 15 minutes.
Enjoy your week!
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Lessons on Décor, Inspiration, and Style

Lately, I have been on fire about décor, through rearranging and decorating. Talk about inspiration and motivation! I think it’s because I tend to get passionate about whatever is consuming me at a given time.

Many of you might not know that for the past several years I’ve been working on finishing my Bachelor’s degree. There have been some breaks, like when we moved, but it’s been a huge distraction for me.

Since mid-November until early April, I’m on a school hiatus. After that, I have two classes to finish in a six-week period, and then I graduate in May. I can’t wait!

This hiatus has enabled me to focus on our home for the first time since we permanently moved in 2 years ago.

I have décor goals, which I’ve shared here on the blog and on Facebook and Instagram stories. Between now and when I return to school, we will have our living room walls textured and painted. That IS happening. Maybe I’ll get to our guest bathroom, too.

First Lesson Learned

After taking down Christmas, though, I got seriously inspired. We rearranged the furniture in our living room and I love how it looks! I learned something important from that. 

When you walk into a room, what you want to see is what you like most.

Seeing what you really like is important because it gives you a good feeling when you enter a room. Your mind sees is as an overall impression of the room.


As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like our reclining leather sofas. One of them was the first thing you saw when you walked in the room. Since we rearranged our living room, I see my upholstered chairs and a cabinet that came from my grandmother’s house first. I love it!


I think I might even love it enough to keep these leather sofas a few more years. At least until my grandkids (and future grandkids) get out of the really grubby hands stage. Leather is so easy to clean. I have my heart set on light-colored fabric sofas or a sectional.


Second Lesson Learned

Another thing that I’ve learned is to go slowly. When faced with a table, buffet, shelf, or a room that you want to decorate take your time.

When decorating a specific area, start with one item and add complimentary objects (colors or a theme) slowly to see the overall effect.

My dining room buffet looked so empty after taking away the Christmas décor. I love to repurpose or “shop my own home,” so that’s what I did.


When you have a style reflected throughout your own home, it’s easy to take objects from one room to use in another. When I exhausted that option, I turned to Home Goods, Target, and Hobby Lobby for décor.


Third Lesson Learned

I’ve also learned to stay true to my style. When I selected the leather sofas, it was because I thought we’d go with a “lodge” theme in our living room. That brings me to the next lesson I learned.

If you are going to experiment with a new style, color, or theme, do so with accessories or inexpensive furniture.

If I would have saved myself so much furniture grief if I had done that.  Ironically, when it comes to color, that is my motto. I love to buy colorful pillows, table runners, throws, and inexpensive drapes/curtains.

I am strictly an amateur decorator. But, hopefully you’ll benefit from these three things I’ve learned.

We used a designer and it was a great experience. She was instrumental during our kitchen remodel and I’m not saying I won’t take that route again. I think what’s given me the courage to try this on my own right now is that I really liked how our last house looked, and I get so much inspiration from Instagram.

Decor Inspiration

Speaking of inspiration, I just started reading this book, The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels. I’ll share what I learn from reading the book as I apply it to my home. I can’t wait to share it with you!



To see the before and after photos of our home remodel project:

Stay inspired my friends!

PS, let me know in the comments if you’d like to know where I got a particular item pictured.

And a Very Happy New Year to You!

Happy New Year!! It’s been a great week since Christmas. I’ve been posting pretty regularly on Instagram (LINK) and Facebook (LINK), but its time for a blog update.

Christmas Day

On Christmas we had our girls, their guys, and the grandkids over. This year we had a plan.  We had the kids open their gifts and to enjoy the morning with them. Once they went down for naps, we opened our gifts and finished dinner. The good was great: rib eye steaks, lobster, and all the sides. It went pretty much according to plan. We made a lot of fun memories on Christmas.

The Holiday Bowl

On the 27th, the hubs and I headed down to San Diego to take in the Holiday Bowl. My husband is a native Michigander and avid Michigan State fan. When we were in Michigan in September, we went to a Michigan State football game and had a fabulous time. So, I decided to surprise him with tickets to the Holiday Bowl to see Michigan State play.

There were SO many Michigan State fans everywhere in San Diego. Many more than Washington State fans. We stayed in the Gas Lamp Quarter and took the trolley to the game. It was a lot of fun and we can’t wait to return to San Diego again soon.

The Holiday Bowl parade was really cute!


We loved staying in the Gas Lamp Quarter


The food at Rockin’ Baja Lobster was delish


The final score at the game

Our Annual Christmas/Gift Exchange

The day after we got back, we had our annual family Christmas and gift exchange. I planned craft activities for the kids to keep them engaged while we readied dinner. They made some really cute placemats and plates. Dinner was yummy and the family time priceless.

New Year Motivations

I am so exited about the New Year. How about you? It’s almost like a new start or a clean slate when you wake up on New Year’s Day.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day taking down the Christmas decor, packing up ornaments, and putting away the tree. My rooms looked so bare afterward…

So, when I woke up this morning I had goals in mind: watch a couple of episodes of Fixer Upper (for motivation) and spruce up the living room. During the commercials, I trolled my house looking for decor items/photos to put in the bare areas of the living room.

Then, in true Renae fashion, I got really motivated and rearranged the whole living room. Thankfully, I got a little help from my husband because our reclining sofa are heavy. I’ll post pics in a post later this week, or check my Instagram or Facebook for a preview of the changes!

Until then,

New Year


Have Yourselves A Merry Little Christmas!

I wanted to jump on here and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Before I know it, it’s going to be fun and chaotic. So, I’m enjoying my coffee and solitude while I can.

Merry Christmas


One of my favorite Christmas decorations is this cute Nativity Scene that I got from Avon at least 25 years ago. My kids and grandkids have all played with it over the years.

I saw it this morning and decided to set it up on display as a reminder of what today really means. The birth of Jesus.

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas from my home to yours! I wish you love and happiness today and always. May you find peace and special meaning on this Christmas Day.


Almost Christmas! Sharing My Menu and Recipes

Friends, I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas!

I love all the excitement leading up to Christmas…listing to holiday music, seeing Christmas Tree, Santa Claus, and Candy Cane Lanes, buying gifts and wrapping them, and being thankful for my blessings. Then, on Christmas night or the next day, I am so sad it’s all over for another year. Am I crazy? Please tell me you feel the same.

This Christmas season has been one of the most relaxing in a long while. Usually at this time of year, I’m studying for finals and writing papers. But, I’ve been on a hiatus from school for about a month now and don’t go back until Spring. What a treat it’s been!

As I mentioned several weeks ago, we will be starting on more projects around here after January 1st:

This room will be our first project!

I’ve planned out my holiday meals and recipes for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and our extended family Christmas at the end of the month. The other day, I shared my menu and recipes for Christmas Eve here:


Christmas Menu

Today, I’m sharing our Christmas Day menu and recipes. We will have six adults and three children. The kids are having their own menu, provided by my daughter, Heather. We adults will be feasting on:

Cheese Cube Wreath and Loaded Tater Top Appetizers
 Rib Eye Steaks
Hash Brown Casserole
Mixed Greens Salad
Roasted Green Beans
German Apple Cake
Cheese Cube Wreath
PC: Kraft Foods

I found a photo of this Cheese Cube Wreath online. After a little internet research, I found out it came from Kraft. I don’t have the recipe, but bought cubed cheese and will use sprigs of rosemary from my garden.

Loaded Tater Tots


  • 16 oz. bag of Tater Tots
  • ¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 450. Spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray. Place 2 tater tots into each muffin cup. Place the pan on the bottom rack of oven and bake 10 minutes.

Spray the bottom of a shot glass with cooking spray. Use a twisting motion to gently press baked tater tops into a potato cup. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Add cheese to potato cups, bake 1 minute or until melted. Transfer to serving plate and add the rest of the ingredients. Serve.

Rib Eye Steak

  • 4 Rib Eye Steaks, 1” thick
  • Olive Oil
  • Seasoning, my favorite is Montreal Steak

The night before, remove steaks from package, and dry them off with paper towels. Add enough olive oil to lightly cover the steak. Liberally apply your favorite steak seasoning evenly over the steaks, or spread it with your hands to apply evenly. My seasoning of choice is Montreal Steak Seasoning. Cover the seasoned steaks with plastic wrap and return them to the fridge.


Remove steaks from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking (but no more than an hour). This allows them to cook more evenly. Preheat your grill to high heat. Set up a two-zone fire.

Place ribeye steaks on the grill and cook over direct heat for 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Do you wonder why you need a two-zone setup? If your steaks are close to being done, you can move them over to the cold side of the grill to finish them off. Use a meat thermometer to determine if you’ve cooked steaks the way you like them. Here are the temperatures you should keep in mind: 120° F = Rare, 130° F = Medium rare, 140° F = Medium, 160° F = Well done

Remove steaks from grill and let them rest for five minutes. The juices will redistribute throughout the meat, producing a tender, juicy result.

Hash Brown Casserole

This has been a family favorite for about 10 years or so. We were served this casserole at a party, and it was love at first bite. We usually have it for Easter and Christmas. This year, my daughter, Danielle, is making it.

  • 36 oz. package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, butter, salt, pepper, onions, soup and cheese. Mix and pour into prepared pan or dish. Bake in the preheated oven until browned, about 45 minutes.

Mixed Greens Salad

My daughter, Heather, is making this salad and it sounds like it’s going to be delicious. I’ll have her share it in a future post. Usually, I would just buy a prepared salad kit from my local grocery store or Costco.

Roasted Green Beans

You can find the recipe here: (

PC: King Arthur Flour

Unless I am feeling ambitious, I usually have someone bring the rolls or buy them from the store. My favorite recipe is from King Arthur’s website:

German Apple Cake

I discovered this recipe about a year and a half ago. My German son-in-law loves this cake, as does the rest of our family. Since we are having so many traditional American dishes, I decided to make a German Apple cake for dessert. This is the recipe I use:

I hope my menu and recipes give you some holiday inspiration. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, filled with peace, love, and good cheer!

A Small Gathering – Christmas Eve Dinner Menu

When it comes to planning, I’m old-school. I make lists. And, the holidays are no exception. I have gift lists, menu lists, and grocery lists.

So, when I sat down to make my holiday meals, I started a list.


Then, I turned to my cookbook collection (well over 50 and counting) to look for recipes.

These are only the cookbooks I have on display…there are more!

This year, I chose to center my recipes around four Cook’s Illustrated editions: 2017 Annual, Fall Entertaining, All-Time Best Meat Recipes, and All-Time Best Plan Ahead Recipes.

I have three events to plan menus for this year. Our Christmas Eve dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, Christmas Day dinner with our children and grandchildren, and our extended family Christmas dinner at the end of the month.

I am sooooo excited about all this, because enjoying our family is the whole reason we moved here two years ago!



I thought I’d share my menu and recipes with you. Today I’m sharing the Christmas Eve dinner:

Christmas Eve Menu


Prime Rib Roast

Smashed Potatoes

Roasted Green Beans

Garlic Bread

Carrot Cake

My sister is bringing the appetizers and garlic bread. So, I’ll be making the prime rib roast, potatoes, green beans, and possibly the carrot cake. I chose these dishes because they are traditional, timeless, and can be prepared ahead then popped in the oven.

This year, I am thrilled that I have two ovens to prepare meals: a regular convection wall oven and steam convection oven. The convection steam oven will be great for the cake and potatoes.

Prime Rib Roast

This recipe is great because you can shorten or lengthen it as needed. You’ll want a few things to make cooking this roast easier. A v-rack, and a probe thermometer with a timer. Serves 6-8.

  • 7 lb. standing rib roast
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil

Make cross-cuts through the fat pad on top of the roast, only cutting through the fat – not the meat. Rub about 2 Tbsp. of kosher salt all over the roast. Refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 4 days.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet until just smoking. Brown the roast on all sides, 6-8 minutes total. Let rest for 10 minutes. Place the roast on a V-rack or wire rack inside of a roasting or rimmed pan. Season with salt and pepper, and place the oven on a middle rack. Roast until meat reaches 110 degrees (about 3-4 hours).

Turn off the oven, leaving the roast inside, until meat reaches 125 (for medium-rare). This will take between about 60 minutes.

Remove roast from the oven, cover with foil, and let rest for at least 30 minutes (up to 75 minutes). To brown the roast, turn on the oven’s broiler and broil in the middle of the oven for 2-8 minutes. Slice and serve.

Smashed Red Potatoes

I love recipes that have a short ingredient list! Serves 4-6.

  • 2 lbs. small red potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup or 4 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chives (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 1” of cold water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently until fork can be easily inserted (about 40 minutes). Reserve ½ cup of potato cooking water, and drain potatoes. Return potatoes to saucepan and remove bay leaf. Let potatoes stand, uncovered for 5 minutes.

Whisk melted butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add ¼ cup of the reserved potato water, salt and pepper, and chives. Using a potato masher, gently press on top of each potato to break the skin and partially flatten it. Fold in butter/cheese mixture. If the potato mixture is too dry, add 1-2 Tbsp. of reserved potato water. Season and serve.

Roasted Green Beans

This is an easy-peasy recipe. Serves 4-6.

  • 1 bag (16 oz.) of thin or petite green beans
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Spread beans in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Use hands to toss the beans to spread oil evenly, season with salt and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes or until dark gold.

If I have time, I’ll bake the carrot cake from scratch. My favorite recipe is from Paula Deen: If not, I’ll go pick one up from the bakery.

Time permitting, I’ll be posting our Christmas Day dinner menu and recipes on Saturday. I hope you have been able to take the time to enjoy the season, visit a Candy Cane Lane, or holiday show.
See you soon!

Best Ever Pizza Dough!

This recipe provides foolproof, pizzeria-quality, homemade pizza. I don’t care what your previous homemade pizza experiences have been, with this recipe you’ll be a pizza boss!

Where has this week gone? Today, I’m re-sharing my Best Ever Pizza Dough recipe. For years, yeast dough and I have had a love-hate relationship. This was the first recipe to ever work the first time I made it, and every time since! Thanks to this pizza dough, I gained some confidence and branched out to other yeast dough. Sadly, not all of them have come out nearly so perfectly as this recipe does.

So, I am going to share the recipe and some pictures of how it looked when I made it Wednesday. Leave 2-3 hours prep time the first time you make this, then you can adjust it accordingly. I speed my rising time up a little by putting it in my oven with the lights on. Although I list the brands of the items used, I receive absolutely no compensation for of this. They just happen to be the brands I’ve found reliable with this recipe.

Lets Get Started!

I show my weighing the flour and water here, but I have made it without weighing it and it comes out fine. Since my scale only shows even amounts of grams, I use 152 grams of one flour and 154 grams of the other.

Antimo Caputo “00” Flour


King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour


I even weigh the water. I use filter water from my fridge, then microwave it 30 seconds to take the chill off it.


This might be my secret ingredient. I use Italian pizza yeast (resources at the end).


Water, oil, and yeast mixed. I use Avocado Oil instead of Olive Oil.


Sometime I start with the beater hook until its mixed, but I was lazy and use the dough hook from the beginning. I did stir it with a spatula first.


Once combined, knead with dough hook or by hand for 3 minutes. Then let it rest 15 minutes, then knead another 3 minutes. My tip: don’t add extra flour and the dough should feel smooth, like the inside of your cheek.

Ready to Rise

Allow to rise, cover in a bowl with a damp towel or oiled plastic wrap. I let it rise in my oven with the lights on. It gets pretty warm in there so it’s usually ready within 60 minutes. If you let rise at room temperature, it might take 2-3 hours.


Treat the dough gently when shaping. I usually start by gently patting it between my hands until it flattens, then stretch it out with my fingers. Then its ready for toppings!

Time to Bake

I prefer to place the pizza on parchment paper, then slide it on to a pizza stone, but mine broke recently. I use my oven’s Pizza mode, which is a convection mode of 400 degrees F.
All done! I used white alfredo sauce instead of red sauce for this pizza.

Now for the recipe:

Best Ever Pizza Dough

  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp of 00 Flour (153 grams)
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour (153 grams)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (200 grams)
  • ¾ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water and olive oil. Wait a minute or so, then pour it into flour mixture. Stir ingredients together, then knead with your hands or a stand mixer with dough hook, for about 3 minutes. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Knead rested dough by hand or in stand mixer for 3 minutes. Cut into 1 large or 2 small equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place on a heavily floured surface, cover with dampened cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature, or 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)
  4. To make pizza, place each dough ball on a lightly floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it gently, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares. Top your favorite toppings, and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes individual pizzas and 20 minutes or so for a full-size.
My Special Tips:

You can use all-purpose flour for this recipe, but the pizza crust is much lighter with the 00 and all-purpose flour mixture. I microwave my pepperoni and salami toppings on paper towels for about 30 seconds before adding them to the pre-baked pizza. This helps cut down on oil accumulation on the top of the baked pizza.

Resources: 00 flour is also called pizza flour and is available in many gourmet markets and on Amazon. I got my last bag of 00 flour from Neighborhood Market. I buy the pizza yeast on Amazon.

Let me know how this recipe works for you by posting a comment below.

Pork Carnitas Recipe – Your New Favorite

Hi friends! I’m resharing this recipe I posted back in June with you as I’m getting ready to make it tomorrow and posting the steps on my Instagram Stories. Here ya go:

I’ve been making pork carnitas (Mexican pulled pork) for at least 10 years. I found a recipe for pork carnitas in a low carb recipe book and have modified it over the years. My secret weapon is Montreal Steak Seasoning. Have you ever tried that seasoning? If not, do yourself a favor and try it. It is one of the most versatile seasonings around. I’ve been known to add it to everything from macaroni salad to spaghetti sauce. It even makes an awesome seasoning for guacamole.

The Low-Sodium Challenge

The challenge with my pork carnitas recipe was to modify the sodium content without sacrificing the flavor. Especially, knowing that my secret weapon was out of the equation now (due to the salt it contains). But, I did it! I used a variety of seasonings to help boost the complexity of flavors so that the lack of salt was undetectable. If you aren’t concerned with sodium, then the list of ingredients for this will be minimal. I’ll list my old recipe at the bottom.

Heads up, this recipe is super easy! It immediately turned into a family favorite. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been asked for the recipe.

Country-Style Pork Ribs


Searing the Pork


This was my Grandma’s crockpot. It is in remarkable condition and I think about her every time I use it.



Water and seasoning mixed


Carnitas ready to serve!
Crock Pot Low-Sodium Pork Carnitas

Serves 4-6

  • 2-3 lbs. of Pork Country-Style ribs or shoulder roast
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Weber Salt-Free Steak Seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups of hot water
  • 1 Tbsp. Concentrated tomato paste
  • ¼ container of Knorr Homestyle Stock*
  • 1 Tbsp. minced roasted garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground chili powder
  • 1 tsp. chipotle sauce

Heat a skillet with the oil on medium-high heat. Cut up the pork into 2-3 inch squares and very liberally sprinkle it with the Weber steak seasoning. Once the oil is almost smoking, sear or brown the pork cubes. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the 2 cups of hot water. Let sit until the pork is done browning. Remove the pork and add it to the crockpot. Pour the water/seasonings mixture over the meat. Set the crockpot for 5-7 hours on low. When the meat is tender, it is done. Before serving, remove the pork from the crockpot and separate it with two forks or just mash it with a fork.

*you can substitute 2 cups of low-sodium beef broth for this.

A few notes: you don’t have to use a crockpot for this recipe. I have made this recipe with a Dutch oven in the oven set at 250 degrees for 5 hours.

Original Pork Carnitas Recipe

served 4-6

  • 3-4 lbs. of Pork Style ribs or shoulder roast
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 2 cups of Beef Broth OR 1 container of Knorr Homestyle Stock and 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground chili powder

Heat a skillet with the oil on medium-high heat. Cut up the pork into 2-3 inch squares and very liberally sprinkle it with the Montreal steak seasoning. Once the oil is almost smoking, brown the pork cubes. Mix the Knorr container with the water and pour over the meat, or add the 2 cups of beef broth. Set the crockpot for 5-7 hours on low. When the meat is tender, it is done. Before serving, remove the pork from the crockpot and separate it with two forks or just mash it with a fork.

Delicious Carnitas Tacos