January 20, 2012

Easy Breezy Caprese Skewers

This appetizer may look fancy, but it is so simple to make. 


  1. Marinated Fresh Mozzarella (Trader Joe's)
  2. Cherry Tomatoes
  3. Wooden Skewers (I cut mine in half)
  1. Cut mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in half (keep the mozzarella container, you need it for step #2).
  2. Toss the mozzarella and tomatoes in the container the mozzarella came in (with the marinade).
  3. Skewer a piece of mozzarella, a tomato, another mozzarella, and a final tomato.

January 19, 2012

Santa Fe Salad

Santa Fe Salad could be a meal on its own (especially for lunch), or an easy way to sneak in veggies or extra protein to a meal.  If usually make it when I a make quesadillas or when I pick up El Pollo Loco Chicken.  I no longer add the cheese, but it's just as good without it.  If I make it for lunch or a weekday dinner, I usually cook the corn in advance, so that all I have to do is cut an avocado, open things and dump them in the bowl.  That's my kind of weekday cooking!

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Black Beans (I use the canned ones, but feel free to make your own)
  • Corn (I think its worth to use fresh corn, I cook it in a pan with a little olive oil, but you could use canned or frozen)
  • Avocado in one-inch cubes
  • Sliced Black Olives
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
  • Ranch Dressing (I use Ken's Light Ranch)

Toss ingredients together in large bowl, and serve.

January 15, 2012

Amazing Marinade

Ever since I discovered this Easy Marinade, it has been the preferred marinade on my menu rotation - especially during the summer.  It is one of the best marinades I have ever made, and I still can't believe how easy it is to make.  I've used it for skirt steak, but I usually use it for boneless skinless chicken breast (I make it with red wine vinegar; I have not tried the balsamic vinegar variation).

When it's on the menu for a weekday meal, I prep the chicken and make the marinade in the morning before I leave for work.  While I am at work, the chicken marinates in the fridge (gotta love passive cooking!).  When I get home from work, my husband throws the chicken on the grill.  He always makes some extra chicken so that we can easily add it to salads for lunch or dinner throughout the week.  Best part is that my husband enjoys barbecuing (the same cannot be said for cooking), so he actually has fun while he's being productive.

Even though this is an easy weekday meal - it is also company worthy.  It is great if you are having friends over for barbecue, because you can prep everything before your guests arrive (even the night before), and when your guests are ready to eat you just throw it on the grill, and cook as you entertain.

January 14, 2012

Great Hostess or Bridesmaid Gift

When I got married, I gave my bridesmaids really comfortable robes with their first initials embroidered on one side.  We used the robes when we got ready for my wedding, and we all still have them six years later!  They made for a great bridesmaid gifts.

Although I started giving gift certificates for massages or pedicures as hostess gifts, I wanted to do something different to thank the hostesses of my work baby shower.  So I recycled a great idea, and found each of them comfortable robes.  They were a huge hit!  I was surprised by how much the hostesses were excited for their robes.

January 10, 2012

Israeli Couscous with Zucchini


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or follow ratio of liquid to couscous on couscous box, may need 4 cups)
  • 3-4 zucchini (Italian squash), thin half-moon slices
  • ½ onion, diced


1.      Bring chicken broth to a boil
2.      Heat a medium sized pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté onions for 2 minutes
3.      Add zucchini to pan and stir occasionally until zucchini is tender
4.      After the chicken broth comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and heat a medium saucepan on medium-high heat
5.      Add the couscous to the saucepan with the 2 remaining tbsps of olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes.
6.      Add the boiled chicken broth to the saucepan and return to a boil.
7.      Simmer for 12 to 20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated (check directions on couscous box – as times may vary)
8.      Transfer the zucchini mixture to the cooked couscous and stir to mix

Leftover Magic:

  • I usually make extra zucchini/onion mixture to use for other meals.  I can make it last for three meals!  The first night, I serve it as a side by itself.  The next, I add it to couscous.  The last night I use it as a base for Greek Orzo.  One time prep, for three meal components.  That's my kind of recipe.    
  • If I have leftover Roasted Zucchini I will add it to the cooked couscous instead of making the zucchini/onion mixture.
  • I also like to make extra couscous to use for different recipes throughout the week.  Sometimes if I make 2 cups of the couscous, I use half of it for this recipe and half of it for another recipe.

January 7, 2012

Best Bridal Shower Gift Ever!

I appreciate and respect the concept of a wedding registry.  I have a rule - when I buy gifts for a wedding, I always buy gifts from the bride and groom's registry.  But when I heard about this gift idea, I had to rethink my rule.

It's quite simple.  You buy four to six pairs of candles of any size/shape in different colors, and you wrap them pretty in a basket.  And then, the most important part, you print this poem out on a card (making changes as necessary for the colors you bought), and you make the bride read the card out loud:

A basket of candles that come in a pair

In all different colors, for you two to share

The white candles are the first pair to light

Use them to celebrate your first married night

Red candles set the mood and pave the way

For your first married Valentine’s Day

The lavender candles are for after your first fight

Use them to burn while making up all night

Now, when your first year of marriage is through

The light blue anniversary pair, will light for you two.

By this time we hope, maybe, just maybe

You can light the dark green ones on the birth of your baby

And just when you thought you would put these away

Take the light green ones out for your fifth anniversary

Now just one pair left – for the big 2-5,

The anniversary pair that will keep your love alive.

Congratulations ____ & _____

On the start of your forever

May the two of you always be happy together

And burn these candles

Just the way we said

But please don’t forget to blow them out before bed!

With Love,

I change the poem slightly every time, but I always leave in the candle for the first baby (it always gets the best reaction).  Regardless of how many candles I choose to use, this is hands down the best bridal shower gift!  It is incredibly sentimental and it gives the bride a chance to realize that she is about to get married!  It always catches everyone by surprise. 

Best part about this gift is that it can be budget friendly.  If you want to spend more, you can always purchase candlesticks from the bride and groom's registry to go along with it (or just add a gift from the registry).

January 6, 2012

Hash Brown Frittata

This is my go-to brunch dish (although sometimes this makes a nice main course for "breakfast for dinner").  I love it because I can make it the day before (so I don't have to wake up too early to set everything up), and it can easily be doubled for a large crowd.  I usually make this with egg whites.  It tastes just as good, and my guests feel less guilty.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil  
  • 2-3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced like hash browns (or substitute 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed and drained) 
  • 8 eggs (or substitute egg white equivalent, it is just as good!)
  • 1/2 cup non fat milk 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese  
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or substitute with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 cup shredded Colby cheese) 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add potatoes to pan, and cook until heated through (about 4-5 minutes).
  4. Remove pan from heat.  
  5. While the potatoes are cooking in the pan, combine eggs, milk, and parmesan in a large bowl and beat.
  6. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  7. Add the potato mixture to the baking dish, and spread evenly around.
  8. Pour the eggs over the potato mixture.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until it barely jiggles when shaken.
  10. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.
  11. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (or until cheese melts and begins to brown). 

*If you make it in advance, wait until it cools, cut it into squares, and then refrigerate until it is ready to be reheated.