Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cream Cheese Hummus Pita Bites

Our neighborhood is pretty awesome. It is December 22 and there are people out BBQing together. The other day one neighbor came over with a plate of cookies and a chat by the Christmas tree. The next day another neighbor called to ask if we needed some extra lights as they had leftovers. And last night we all got together to do a Progressive Party up and down the block.

Yup, we are pretty rockin'.

I know there are many neighborhoods like this -- I grew up in one -- but it seems to be less and less common. At least in my adult years. People are busy, schedules are full, lives are different from one house to the next.  But I am grateful that today I get to be a part of a place that celebrates community.

My contribution during the stop at our house? Sparkling cider and this: cream cheese hummus. Everyone else ooh'ed and ahh'ed, and I smiled because I know it took me five minutes. I mean, really, do I have time during the holiday season to make something time consuming? No, I do not. Which is why this is perfect. Perfectly simple, perfectly delicious. And will go perfectly with our Christmas dinner in a few days... one less thing I have to stress over. That's a holiday win.

(This hummus is great for the usual "dip" and also spread on pita crackers topped with green onions. Both taste fabulous, one looks a little more fancy... you choose :) )



  • 2 cans Garbanzo beans, one fully drained, one still with liquid
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 package of pita crackers, plus any item for dipping
  1. In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Either spread on pita crackers and top with green onion garnish, or serve as dip.

COST: $7.42

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peppermint Joe-Joe Ice Cream (No ice cream maker required)

I am a lover of peppermint.  Not just at Christmas time, either.  It isn't unusual to hear me order a peppermint hot chocolate at Startbucks in July.  And they comply, albeit with a slight shake of the head. I know -- I am breaking the peppermint rule: it is a Christmas treat, and that's that.

But who says so?  Not me.  I say give me peppermint all year long, and I will show you a happy girl.

My favorite peppermint thing?  Peppermint Joe-Joe's from Trader Joe's.  Crazy goodness, right there. Like an Oreo (but better!) with real pieces of candy cane crushed into the cream.  Um, HELLO.  Could they have created anything better?  No, definitely not.

Except... I did :)

I took my favorite cookie (which we stock up on around Christmas so they can last until about April when they expire -- smart, right?!) and turned it into my favorite type of dessert: ICE CREAM.

Best part is that you don't even need an ice cream maker, just a blender or food processor, and mixer of some sort, and a freezer.  SHEZAM!  Pepperminty deliciousness in a bowl.

Merry Christmas!



  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 5-6 Peppermint Joe-Joe’s cookies from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend sweetened condensed milk with cookies.
  2. Combine whipping cream and peppermint extract in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat cream/extract with a mixer on medium-high speed until whipped cream is formed. 
  3. Combine sweetened condensed milk mixture with whipped cream and pour into airtight plastic container, such as a larger-sized Ziploc Smart-Snap container.  Freeze eight hours or overnight.

COST: $6.23        COST PER SERVING (6): $1.04

Ice Cream    //    Dessert    //   Peppermint

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Great FB Cookie Swap: Peppermint Sugar Cookies

It's the most wonderful time of the year... COOKIE SWAP TIME!

I know that sounds a little exaggerated, but seriously, this tradition (now three years in the making) has become one of my favorite things about the holiday season.  Not only do I get to look for the best cookie recipe to add to my collection, and not only do we all get to connect with other food bloggers, but by working/baking/shipping together, we raise money for causes that are worth all that effort.


That beautiful number right there (so pretty, isn't it?) is the amount that was raised for Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a non-profit that works to help fund research that can help children live a full, long, and healthy life.  

This year I chose a simple recipe, straight from Martha: Peppermint sugar cookies.  I must confess, the cookies in these pictures are the old, rejected ones. The weather was so gloomy and I kept saying I would take pictures later, later, later, and this is what I would up with.  But oh!  Oh oh oh.  (Not to be confused with ho ho ho ;) )  I could NOT stop eating these.  Peppermint cookie, peppermint glaze, topped with (you guessed it!) peppermint pieces! The recipe said it made two dozen so I doubled it: 1 dozen for each of my matches, 1 dozen for us... except it made about six dozen.

And I did not share.

Not very Christmassy of me, but if you make these you will understand why.  At least I did share with my cookie recipients.  In the baggies and boxes they went, off to Utah, Arkansas, and another part of California, while I received three batches of delicious cookies from across the map. That is what makes this fun -- bake, raise money, and connect with people you have never met before.  It's a triple win.

A big shout out to the companies that sponsored the cookie swap (by giving in addition to what we bloggers donated): OXO, Pure Cane Dixie Crystals, Gold Medal Flour, and Grandma's Molasses. Their contributions stretched our dollars -- and hopefully bring us one step closer to a cure for cancer!

If you would like to find out about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (and maybe participate next year!), click on their logo below.

Recipe from Everyday Food, Dec. 2012


  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 candy canes, crushed, for decorating

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, use mixer to beat butter, granulated sugar, and ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract on medium-high until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Beat in egg, then flour mixture on low.  Stir in chocolate chips if you are using them.
  2. Roll dough into 1 ½-inch balls and place, 2 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until edges are lightly golden, about 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer to racks and let cool completely.
  3. Stir together confectioners’ sugar and enough cream to make a spreadable glaze (if you like a strong mint flavor, stir in up to ¼ teaspoon extract).  Spread a thin layer of glaze on top of each cookie and sprinkle with candies.  Let dry completely on racks.

Can be stored in an airtight container, three days.

COST: $4.79        COST PER COOKIE (24): 20 cents

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Cost of Eating Healthy (and my two cents)


After a busy two weeks, I was getting ready to put something on my blog.  No, not the amazing peppermint cookies I have been chowing down on (because I have yet to take pictures of them -- blame it on the minimal hours of daylight), but something to say, "Hey, I'm here!  Don't forget me!" Something fun. Something cute.

But then I saw this article pop up in my newsfeed on Facebook.  And after reading through it, and then reading through the comments, I changed my plan.

Fun and cute can wait for another day.

Today we need to talk about eating healthy (yes) and the cost of it (yes).  But most importantly, we need to talk about perceptions of this.

I am not going to sit here and give you figures about the cost of eating a healthier diet, because you can find that information quite easily.  I am also not going to share how eating more fruits and vegetables costs more money than packaged food because, at least in the USA, we all know this to be a general truth. My eyes were really opened to this when I took a master's level class on how health impacts a student's ability to learn, and how income impacts health. As you may be aware if you have followed this blog for awhile, that class combined with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution were the main reasons I set out to learn to cook. That is why this blog is here -- because I wanted to be able to eat healthy food that I could afford and still tasted great.

We get it. Eating a healthy diet is more expensive. It is unfortunate, but it is a reality.

I also get that food deserts exist. For the 7-10% of Americans who live in these areas, that is a real problem, and I am not here to offer a solution, because I do not have one. I wish I did...

What I am going to say is this: for those many, many people who instantly commented on NPR's article saying that it costs on average $600 a month PER PERSON to eat healthy, or all those people who clearly commented without reading the article as the examples shared in the comments don't fit with what the article said at all but then rattled on reason after reason why this article is full of BS (with all caps here and there)... let's all just stop and breathe. 

And then, let's read the information, look at where their findings are coming from, see if we agree with it or not, and then move on with our lives.

As for me, I agree. Why? Because I have been pricing out food for the past three years. That was the whole reason I started this blog: to keep a record of what we ate, how much it cost, and then use that information to make wise decisions while planning for what we are going to eat next week. Through this, and finding out tricks like shopping at the Farmers' Market or making beans from scratch, I have learned to keep our food costs quite low.

I get that there are a lot of variables in this equation, and that many things (location, time, availability of products, etc.) can change what is possible. Maybe your shopping style is different than mine. Maybe you don't enjoy cooking and you need something fast.  Maybe you really just want to eat a Big Mac. Go ahead. That's OK, that's your decision. I've been there, I get it. But people, we've got to stop attacking the messenger just because we don't like the message. And please, please, please, let's stop ganging up on people (fellow commentors) because they have a different experience than us.

Maybe you really do spend $600 per month for one person to eat healthy without ever going out to eat.  I am sorry for you, and I hope you find ways to cut back on that. But either way, that's OK. It's your money.

Maybe you really struggle to just make ends meet. I grew up in that reality, and I know a lot of people live in that daily. My heart goes out to you, for I know it is a challenge.

For most of us, though, we probably fall somewhere in the middle. Let's take ownership of our decisions. Heck, when I want a McChicken, I am going to get a McChicken. Yes, even me with a blog on finding healthy food. And that's alright. As long as I don't yell at NPR for it.

What are some ways you have found to keep the cost of food down?

(Looking for some low cost meal ideas? Click for $1 meal ideas and $2 meal ideas (per serving).  Cheaper than a Big Mac :) )

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Give Thanks + Curried Pumpkin Soup

Is there anything more perfect at this time of year than a bowl of fresh, rich soup? I think not. Yesterday as the rain was coming down and there was a chill in the air I sent a message to my aunt: "Quick!  I need your pumpkin soup recipe!"  She quickly obliged and my rainy day was turned into perfection. 

This is one of those soups that tastes like it takes forever but in reality is quite quick. Perfect for when you have someone coming over that you need to impress and you don't have all day... or when you are by yourself and you just want to impress yourself. Why shouldn't we want to impress ourselves sometimes? I think I am going to prioritize impressing myself a little more and trying to impress others a little less... and then I am going to enjoy my soup with slippers on my feet and my hair in an uncombed ponytail. That, too, sounds like perfection.

And now time to give thanks...

You know a village raises a child, right? A village also makes a wedding...

Thank you to my friends who took over the music side of it (and ROCKED IT!), the two ladies who made sure the church was decorated (and did much more, too!), my mother-in-law who made all of the table cloths (and gave me the best person to marry ), our friend in Brazil who made the bridesmaid dresses, family friends who came early from afar to set of the reception, students' mothers for helping me to get food for cheap through the Catholic convent (hehehe) and putting together the fruit kabobs, another students' mom for doing my hair, my former landlord for doing all of the flowers, my friends from work who worked hard to help in all ways, another student's mom for being a fabulous coordinator, and to all of our attendants for being the best support! A super special thank you to Pastor Sam, who made everybody laugh and cry, and set the standard in wedding homilies (everyone still talks about it!), and another huge thank you to Dan and Gina who gifted us with a beautiful reception.

I am grateful for all these people above (and I am sure there are more!) for helping us have the best day ever. Because of you, we ALL pulled off an amazing wedding that was far beyond what we could have imagined. Thank you, thank you!


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. of cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (or cooked and mashed pumpkin)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup evaporated milk

  1. Saute mushrooms and onion in butter until onion is soft. Sprinkle with flour. Add salt, pepper and curry powder. Stir in chicken broth, pumpkin and honey. Simmer 15 minutes. Add milk and heat thoroughly. Serve sprinkled with croutons. (Note: can take part out and blend for smoother texture.)
(Tastes best served the next day.  But really tastes great whenever.)

COST: $7.72        COST PER SERVING (6): $1.29

Friday, November 15, 2013

Give Thanks + Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Rosemary, and Lemon

When Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners come around, I am still one of the kids.  Nobody really expects me to roast a turkey or prepare something, because all of the 'real adults' do that.  And when I insist that I am perfectly capable of contributing, the reply is something like, "Well, you can bring a side of something if you want.  Or cookies."  While at work and among friends I am the go-to recipe girl, with family I am still just Tiffany, who is really good at peeling potatoes.

Which really, is fine. I don't mind peeling potatoes.  Honestly.

And for the turkey?  I am glad to not have that responsibility.

But this year is the year.  I am going to bust out real food and put it right in the middle of the amazing dishes that are always present and nobody wants to give up their hold on them.  Not something simple like cookies, but not stealing somebody's life-long claim to green bean casserole or stuffing.

Here is a good one: Brussels sprouts with turkey bacon (to keep it a little less fattening), cooked with rosemary and lemon juice. I know it is really a side, but we took this and served it for dinner with beans and rice (how we do) and it was fantastic. I know not many people like brussels spouts, but this is one of those dishes that nobody will deny.  Bacon?  Yum.  Rosemary?  Flavorful.  Lemon juice?  The perfect amount of zing.  Combined, this makes one tempting side, and those who have claim on the mashed potatoes or candied yams (yuck!) can keep their signature dish theirs ;)

And now, let me share some "thanks"...

Day 11:  It's not just my grandpa, my father, and my brother I am thankful for... I am thankful for ALL veterans and their families, who serve us by serving our country.

Day 12:  I am thankful for my girlfriends. Whether making plans to grab a bite to eat with girl talk, chatting on the phone, nights in jammies watching chick flicks with munchies, or laughing about this or that every day at work, life would be very lonesome with them. It doesn't matter if we have been friends for 20 years or 2, THANK YOU for all the joy and laughter you bring into my life!

Day 13: I am very grateful for my friend Alex, who really, truly "gets" me. We're both a little loud, like to talk, have crazy ideas, and have a habit of forgetting to call people back. It is a rare friend that you can carry on a 32 hour conversation with (with a 4 1/2 hour nap pause in the middle) and not get bored one bit. Like I said, she gets me, and I am thankful that I get to have a friend like that.

Day 14: I am grateful for all the 'unnamed' people in my life who do so much for me -- the one's whose names I might not ever know, but without them my life would be a whole lot harder: the garbage collectors, UPS delivery guys, Cal-Trans people who keep the roads clear... it may sound a little trite, but it's true. I am thankful for all that they do, without much glory or honor, but they do it and they do it well.

What/Who are YOU thankful for today??? 

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, Oct.2011


  • 8 slices of bacon of your choice (I used turkey)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, if needed
  • 1 pound of brussels sprouts, shredded in food processor (use slicing blade)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium until crisp.  If using turkey bacon, you will need to add some olive oil to fry the bacon well.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool.  Cut/break into small pieces.
  2. Keeping the bacon drippings/oil in pan, add brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender.  Add rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Stir in bacon.  Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Can be served warm or at room temperature.

COST: $6.57        COST PER SERVING (4): $1.64

Unprocessed    //    Gluten Free    //   Dairy Free

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Instagram Scavenger Hunt Birthday

Every year, when my husband's birthday rolls around, I rack my brain for the perfect activity to do.  He's not a kid (obviously) but I like fun.  And what better time to have fun than on birthdays?

I am kind of over the go-out-to-eat every single year thing (although sometimes that is what we do), and I want to make it something that is very affordable (so all can participate) and family friendly (since many of our friends have kids).

My two favorite so far have been glow-in-the-dark Ultimate Frisbee (30th) and now this year: an Instagram Scavenger Hunt!

(Yes, they are holding a frozen chicken right there. Frozen Chicken was not on the list.  
But bird was, and this totally counts.)

Throughout my life, I have done participated in different variations of photo-scavenger hunts: Polaroids in my younger years, digital pictures uploaded to a computer while in college and after, and then this summer in NYC I met up with a friend who created the perfect blend of modern technology with this kind of activity: Instagram-Scavenger Hunt!  (Nice one, Deanne!)

(Surf.  I was picturing waves, they found laundry detergent. HAHAHA!)

If you have never participated in a photo scavenger hunt of any kind, it is super easy and TONS of fun.  
  1. Create a list of things to find.  They can be specific ("A Stop Sign") or open-ended ("Winter").  I put about 20 things on the list to give it good variety.  And for some reason, every single time I have a police officer on there.  I think it is an added challenge... unless you are like the little girl below ;)  (I also include things like "With a family you have never seen before" or "With a Trader Joe's employee". Any time you have strangers participate it makes it much more exciting.)
  2. Get enough people together to have a few teams, but don't count yourself -- somebody needs to monitor the pictures.
  3. Set the guidelines: Where do you meet?  What time do you need to come back together? (We did an hour and a half for this one -- and met up at In-n-Out.  WIN!)  Do you get bonus points if all of the people are in the picture and it is not a selfie (meaning someone else had to take the picture)?  
  4. Get together, make sure the leader is following all of the Instagram accounts (and help create ones for groups that don't have anybody on Instagram), and then send them off!  One point for each item on the list found, bonus points for any of the whole group or whatever you decide, and ta-da!  Insta-party!

If you haven't had the chance to participate in one of these scavenger hunts, stop what you are doing and go organize one RIGHT NOW.  The cost is low, just any party favors you have for props -- such as these glasses and party hats, while the amount of fun is high.  From four year-olds to 44 year-olds, we had a fabulous time, filled with laughter and celebration.  So, GO, do it!!!

What are your fabulous ideas for birthday parties???

Monday, November 11, 2013

Give Thanks + A Maple Brown Sugar Pumpkin Roll

Can you believe I lived my entire life -- all 30 years -- without ever once having a slice of pumpkin roll? Yeah. But I fixed that this weekend.

Oh. My. Goodness.

How did I not know about this? Well, whatever the reason, that will never happen again.

This recipe is from my friend Carrie over at Bakeaholic Mama.  If you like pumpkin you will LOVE her blog. She did "30 Days of Pumpkin" during the month of October, and if this is an indicator of the taste for the other recipes, then you can't go wrong...

And now, let's give a little thanks :)

Day 6: I am grateful for all of the parents who entrust their children to me each day. For without these kids my life would be missing a whole lot of laughter, hugs, and growth (both in them and in me).

Day 7: I am thankful for my mom, whose great life lessons have stuck with me throughout the years: don't put socks in the microwave to dry quickly, for they will catch on fire; you need not feel ashamed when you eat an entire box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting, it is only natural; and you have no room for hate in your heart when Jesus lives there, so LET IT GO.

Day 8: Personal, but nonetheless, I am thankful for this person!

Day 9: I am thankful for my friends.  I have the best support system on Earth, and I am beyond grateful for each person who supports me, celebrates with me, and encourages me.  

Day 10: I am grateful for my friends and 'family' from Palau and Ebeye. People in both places opened their arms to me and brought me in, loved on me, and still put forth an effort to stay connected from afar. It is a wonderful thing to know I at any point I can go back and be at home. Mesulang and Kommol Tata!

Recipe by Bakeaholic Mama


  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

for the filling
  • 8 oz. cream cheesed, softened
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 T. (only if needed)

for the topping
  • 3 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt

Visit Bakeaholic Mama HERE                                                     

COST: $7.32        COST PER SERVING (10): $0.73

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Look Who's in Redbook!

One of my recipes made Redbook!  They have a great selection of mashed veggies to try there, not just this one... from mashed rutabagas (which I don't even know what those are) to mashed parsnips with carmelized onions, the options are varied and delicious.  Click on the words below to see for yourself.

And Redbook, thank you!  YOU are who I am grateful for today :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Give Thanks + Chicken Thighs over Roasted Vegetables

Apparently, I have a thing for chicken thighs. First the chicken thighs over butternut squash and cranberries, and now this. But I don't deny it. Here's why I like them: they are cheap and they taste better than the other parts. My personal preference, I know, but the money thing.. you can't argue with that!

But enough chicken-talk! Let's start giving thanks :)

Day 4:  I am grateful for my close friends who were there for me that day 11 years ago -- whether they grabbed the phone out of my hand as I started screaming or sat me down and got me the help I needed to process what I had just heard. I am grateful for one of my closest friends for holding my hand as I said goodbye to my mom one last time. And I am grateful for my one of my first childhood friends for being right there beside me during the funeral, the only person who could truly understand as she had lost her mom a few years before, and for saying the words I needed to hear: It's hard and it sucks, and it was going to suck even more before it was over, but one day it would get a little easier. Thank you.

Day 5:  I am grateful for Dang, the Hertz Rental Car employee who observed how much trouble I had getting a vehicle for a field trip in the morning -- 1 1/2 hours late and not cleaned -- and not only gave back a good portion of the money upon my return (before I could even ask), but then came around from behind the counter, sat down in the seat across from me, and listened while I explained why I was frustrated. He didn't make excuses, he didn't blame it on others (even though it was not his fault), he JUST LISTENED. 

Who/what are YOU thankful for today?



  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges, root end left intact
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs
  • lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss fennel, carrots, onion, and garlic with 2 tablespoons rosemary and 4 tablespoons oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until vegetables are tender and browned in spots, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat.  Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and sprinkle with remaining rosemary.  In batches, cook until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes each side.  Check to make sure it is fully cooked.
  3. Serve chicken on top of roasted vegetables.  Squeeze lemon juice on top, if desired.

COST: $14.81              COST PER SERVING (6): $2.47

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Give Thanks 1 + Chicken Thighs over Butternut Squash

Fall is a season of orange. Seriously. Look at the leaves, the pumpkins, the recipes on my page.  Today I have another orange-colored recipe for you.  I also have some "thanks" to give out.  Because Fall is also a season of thanksgiving.

This year, instead of finding something I am grateful for (a warm bed, a home to call my own, etc.), I am focusing on someone that I am grateful for.  Many posts this month will be include these mentions of gratitude.  And I hope you will join me and share your person that you are grateful for in the comments.

Day 1I am grateful for the legacy of a pastor I had when I was 20 years old. He didn't get to see it play out because he (along with his life and son) were taken long before anyone expected, but I am thankful for him recognizing leadership ability in me when nobody else did, myself included. He sought me out to and gave me responsibility, and I grew in ways I never would have if he had not seen that potential in me.  Some day I will be able to say thank you to his face, but until then I will never forget that he was the one who started that area of growth in my life.

Day 2: I am grateful for my dad, whose words of pride started off my day.

Day 3 (today): I was going to wait until a specific date (one with great significance) to say this, but everyday it is the truth: I am grateful for my husband. BEYOND grateful. He loves me with a full love, truly is my best friend, my laughing buddy, my fellow adventure planner, and my shoulder to cry on. I am a blessed woman, and I am aware of that every day.

Who have YOU been grateful for these past three days?

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food,October 2011


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, halved, and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

  1. Cut the squash into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
  2. In a large pot with a heavy bottom, heat 1 T. of oil over medium-high.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and, in two batches, cook skin side down, until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate; pour off fat from pot.
  3. Add 1 T. oil, squash, and onion to pot and cook until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add sage, flour, ginger, and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, 1 minute.  Nestle chicken, skin side up, in squash mixture.  Add cranberries and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

COST: $11.93              COST PER SERVING (4): $2.98

Unprocessed    //    Fall Food    //   Dairy Free

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Will Smith and My World View (The Wednesday Files)

There are a lot of fun things about marrying somebody from a different country -- the travel (because having to spend a few weeks in Brazil isn't all that bad!), the sexy accent (as it can make even the most boring word sound exotic and fun), and the many festas and futebol games that brought into your life.  But by far, one of my favorites is being able to share important cultural gems with my man.

Things like why I said, "We were gettin' jiggy wit it out there!"

"Gettig' jiggy wit it?  They never taught me that in my language school..."

Nope, they did not.  And it is a shame.  Because you missed an important part of the American heritage.

This is where YouTube has come in really handy. I just share this and instantly he understands...

Imagine the days before YouTube.  I mean, obviously I remember them.  In fact, I remember them quite well.  The first time I ever saw something on YouTube must have been around 2006 when a friend wanted to show us all the Ikea commercials that were banned in the USA.  But not in Europe!  And so we had sat and we watched and we laughed, and then we watched some more and laughed some more until our sides hurt. What an incredible waste of time, right? But -- oh! -- it was so funny!  Today it is just a part of our lives, and one that I am grateful for.  I mean, how else could I have explained to my husband tonight why I started singing, "Well, this is the story // all about how // my life got flipped // turned upside down..." when he put his hat on sideways and started dancing around?

If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video clip must speak well over a million.

Noticing a theme?

Yeah. Will Smith and I apparently go way back, and he has shaped the way I see the world.

I am not so sure that is a good thing, but it sure isn't a bad thing.  And now, thanks to the technology we have today, he can help shape the world of a Brazilian boy trying to understand this American way of life, one catch phrase or quick jingle at a time.

** Yes, I recognize that these are actually Vimeo videos, not YouTube.  They just embed nicer into the post.  But YouTube is my standard, go-to for important things like this ;)

// other posts on dual-cultural life //

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Sometimes you need something fancy.  Risotto.  Yes, sometimes I need risotto.

Or bows on your clothes.  Or sexy shoes.  Maybe a night out on the town.

But sometimes you just need something cozy... jeans, warm socks, a comfy blanket.  Or sweet potatoes with bacon.  This is a cozy dish.  Like chicken noodle soup or mashed potatoes.  Cozy and easy.  Two adjectives that are perfect for these days that are getting shorter and energy levels that fall away as the sun goes down...

Pair it with chicken, eggs, or anything really.  It's one of those side dishes that might as well be the main dish. And honestly now, can you ever go wrong with bacon?  That's what I thought.

**Speaking of bacon, use any kind of bacon you want in this dish.  We are a turkey and beef bacon kind of family most of the time.  When using a lower-fat bacon, though, you will need to add some olive oil to the mix as there won't be as much fat to cook the potatoes.  Trader Joe's, as always, has a great selection of bacon.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, October 2011


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 4 sliced bacon (see note above) + olive oil, if using non-pork bacon
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped sage
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On a rimmed baking sheet, combine sweet potatoes, bacon, and sage; season with salt and pepper. Roast until sweet potatoes are browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife and bacon is crisp, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

COST: $4.99        COST PER SERVING (4): $2.25

Unprocessed    //    Gluten Free    //   Dairy Free

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad + Speaking Honestly

I am going to be completely honest with you.

There are very few things I like about Fall.

I know, know.  Your shock and dismay are not lost on me.  I know I am supposed to be a lover of the seasons changing, of the leaves going from green to reds and golds, of the thought of scarves being tied around my neck.

And in a way, I do like those things. Honestly.  I mean, I have never seen the Northeast during this time of the year, but I bet it is fantastic.  And yes, I do appreciate getting to pull a pair of boots out of the closet. The smells, oh... even I must admit the smells are great.  Cinnamon and apples baking, pumpkin soup cooking.

So I guess it is not that I dislike Fall, it is just that I like Spring and Summer better.

And Winter?  Except for Christmas, I could totally do without it.  (Now before you get all "but-you-live-in-california-so-you-don't-know-what-winter-really-is..." -- and you are totally right -- let me share what Winter means to me: rain and shortened days. That pretty much is the sum total of Winter after Christmas has passed. So no, I do not like Winter.  I really, truly don't.)

But despite all that, there is something that Fall totally takes the cake on: the produce.

I adore Fall produce.

Pumpkins.  Apples.  Brussels sprouts (yes, even brussels sprouts).

Pears, cranberries, sweet potatoes... my list can go on and on.  I love 'em.  They are full of flavor and full of color.

My favorite of all the Fall produce, though?  Squash.  I mean, I know it is technically "winter squash", but those butternut and acorn squashes that come out around this time of year?  I cannot get enough.

Summer is fantastic, but summer squash will never be able to compete with these guys.  Need proof?  It's right here:

Recipe adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen


  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • small acorn squash
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 5 oz. fresh greens, washed and dried
  • 2 oz. goat cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  While it is preheating, cut squash in half and scrape out seeds.  Cut the squash into quarters, leaving the skin on.
  2. On a large baking sheet, place squash skin side down.  Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until tender, about 40 minutes.
  3. While squash is roasting, make reduced apple cider vinegar: pour the vinegar in to a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat.  Add honey and stir, allowing to come to a simmer.  Cook until the vinegar is reduced to about half of the original volume.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Once cool, toss greens with about 1 tablespoon of the reduced vinegar.  Store the rest of the vinegar in a sealed container. 
  5. When squash has finished roasting, remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Place on plate and top with greens, almonds, and goat cheese.  Drizzle more vinegar if desired.

COST: $3.49        COST PER SERVING (2): $1.75

Unprocessed    //    Gluten Free    //   Vegetarian

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