Going for some vitamin D

by Stephanie
So I am going on vacation!  Whoot whoot!  Going to be in 5 states in 5 days.   Hopefully they have record heat once we get to Utah (where we will be the majority of the time). 
So if there are few posts…don’t worry.  I am just collecting more recipes and ideas to post. 
I am working on helping a friend with some window treatments….SO excited to go fabric shopping!! 


Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

by Stephanie

This is an easy, light and refreshing salad for summer.  I got this years ago from my sister-in-law Jessica.  I have taken it to a many pot lucks and it is always a huge hit.  It is more girl food, but that is okay, more for me.  And you CAN buy peppers already roasted, but really it is easy and WAY cheaper to do yourself.


Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

serves 10-12

1 box penne pasta

1 red pepper-roasted and chopped into 1/2” pieces

1/4 cup fresh basil-sliced thin

1/2 cup feta cheese

salt and pepper

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

In large pot put on water to boil for pasta.  Cook according to directions (make sure you add in salt).  While pasta is cooking put red pepper and basil in large bowl.  When pasta is done cooking drain and put directly into bowl with pepper and basil.  Toss.   Drizzle with oil until it is lightly coated.  .  Let cool to room temperature.  Add in cheese and taste for seasoning.   Add salt and pepper as needed. 

It should look like this when you are done.


To roast a  red pepper:

If you are lucky enough to have a gas stove, I turn the burner on medium and sit the pepper on the top of the flame.  Turn when that side is black and charred.  If you don’t have a gas stove (like me) you can put it in your oven with the rack on the broiler setting and turn every two to three minutes when black turn.  Do this two or three times until all sides are charred.  I actually do this in my toaster oven on the toast setting.

Then set aside and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, peel off outside.  Rinse if needed. 


Easy Chocolate Sauce

By Stephanie

This is SO simple.  And it isn’t your typical chocolate sauce.  It is a fudgy sauce, so I would say hot fudge sauce rather than chocolate sauce.  Once it hits the ice cream it gets that great fudge like quality.  Great as a gift too.  Or something your kids can make for you!


Hot Fudge Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 bag chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet but really any will work)

3 Tbsp light corn syrup

1 Tbsp butter

Put everything into large microwave proof bowl.  Put in microwave for one minute.  Stir.  Repeat until chocolate chips are melted.  Serve immediately or keep in fridge and reheat for one minute to serve. 



by Stephanie
Ok.  I guess my hubby heard it wrong.  It is 72 hours of summer that we have had, not 72 minutes.  But still…..

72 Minutes

by Stephanie

So if you are MELTING with heat…I am SO jealous.  Seriously.  Since March I have been missing Vegas and that wonderful heat.  I LOVE it when you come out of a movie theater or restaurant that has been blasting the air conditioning into the outdoors at 11 pm at night and you get that wave of heat.  You know that heat that has absorbed into the black top?  I LOVE that.  And half the county is having record heat waves.  Not us.  In fact we haven’t really had a summer. 

My husband came home and asked how much summer we have had this year.  I said “none”.  He gave me that look, no really, how much?  Okay, what do you consider summer I asked.  Above 80 degrees and sunny.  Okay.  One day I said…nope, 72 minutes.  We have had 72 minutes of summer this year.  No wonder I still have seasonal depression.  It’s hard to get over with 72 minutes of summer. 

And yes, it is raining again today.  And yes it probably won’t hit 70 degrees.  And yes, while I can still bake, that only means I will eat more and get more depressed because I am not loosing weight.  And yes, I do have a vacation planned.  And yes, if it rains there, I will drop the kids at my moms and go straight to Vegas.  At least for a few days of sunshine.  These pasty legs have got to go! 


We are not all created equal!

As I am training for my first 10k I have learned a lot more than just to run. The biggest thing I have learned is that we are not all created equal.  Let me give you a little history, I am the 4th sister of 5 with a brother thrown there in the middle. All of my family is pretty athletic and myself included so I thought I was in ok condition but I have, in the last few years, started to struggle with my weight. So I decided (after many failed attempts at dieting) to finally do it right. I was going to cut my calories and start really working out. I was so excited, I downloaded the my fitness pal app on my phone and started running each morning and, guess what, the first week I GAINED 4 pounds! I was livid, so I cut my calories more and started running more  thinking that’s what I needed and the next week I lost 1.5 of those pounds I had gained which was a start but still was not what I thought I would see. This pattern continued for the next 3 weeks. Then I found a friend who was willing to run with me and diet so I had a partner I could stick to this new lifestyle with and have someone to answer to and that helped a lot because it became more fun. but the weight issue still was a big problem. For the next several weeks I rode the same roller coaster every day I would lose a little and gain it back and then lose a little more then gain it all back. By the end of 13 weeks I had lost a total of 5 pounds and the worst part was my friend I was running with had lost 8 and she had only been running with me for less than 1/2 that time!

So frustrated and pissed off I called my sister in law who has done weight watchers for many years and is also a runner and just let her have all my frustrations out on a platter. Being the great sister in law she is she just listened as I complained and whined about how hard I had been training and dieting and not seeing any progress. when I was finished she told me the biggest problem I had was my self image, not the scale. she told me that I had to stop beating myself up and look at what I was doing and how far I had come athletically and the biggest advice she had was I needed to start measuring my body and not only the scale. I luckily had measured at the beginning  of my journey so I took a tape and went right in to measure my self and I had lost a total of 8.5 inches! That was huge! So if you are on a journey like my own and find yourself struggling with the scale or your progress being slow, stop and tell yourself its ok. We are all built different and you will never be someone else's size because your body is different and that’s ok.    


Banana Bread-two ways

By Stephanie

I have been making this banana bread since my first kido was a baby.  It was one of his favorite things growing up.  Still is. 

My friend Jami had some banana bread on a picnic with chocolate chips in it.  She asked “doesn’t everyone put chocolate chips in banana bread?”  Uhmmm…..no.  Not yet.  So I did and it was a hit.  Of course. 


The second loaf I made had almonds and coconut  added in.  My one kido has nut allergies so she couldn't have any.  Too bad, just more for me. 


Banana Bread Recipe

makes 2 loaves

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 butter, softened

2 eggs

3-4 medium bananas mashed (don’t wait until too brown, just tuning is perfect)

1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1/2 tsp vinegar added and let sit)

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Optional: 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup coconut.

In medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.  In small bowl mash bananas with fork until no large clumps remain.  Mix eggs in with buttermilk and beat to combine.  In large mixing bowl mix sugar and butter with wooden spoon.  Add in eggs and milk mixture along with vanilla.  Stir till completely combined.  Add in everything else and mix just until flour is mixed in.  Pour into two greased bread pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  Just until top cracks or is golden brown.  Let cool.  Slice and serve.


Italian Beef Sandwiches

by Stephanie
I don’t know about you but I have spent years, literally years, making dry and tasteless roasts.  Until about 2 years ago.  First I am not cooking it long enough.  It needs LONG and SLOW.  Crock pot is great for this.  Second, I was buying the wrong kind of roast.  My FAV is the chuck roast.  Bone in if possible.  Chuck steak works too, but for your crock pot to be effective you need to fill it over 1/2 full but not more than 3/4.  This freezes SO well.  Buy your roasts on sale and cook them all up.  Freeze enough for one or two more meals. 
This had a kido version and an adult version.  The adult version is a copy cat of one of my favs from Vegas.  If you ever get to Vegas or St. George, Ut look up Capriotti'sThe Slaw-be-jo is to DYE for.  But since I live at least 20 hours away…I had to make my own.  Pretty close if I do say so.
This is perfect for a hot summer day.  And if you are lucky enough to live in 100 degree + weather, here is tip from my friend Anna.   Put the crock pot outside.  That way it won’t heat up the house.  Obviously here, that isn’t applicable.  I don’t care if you heat my house from 69 degrees to 72.  Still not taking off my jacket.
Oh and did you know, your crock pot (aka slow cooker) uses 100th the energy of your oven?   Perfect for saving money on energy bill too.
Adult Version:
Kido Version:
Italian Beef Sandwiches
Serves 8
3 lb. Chuck Roast or Steak (if it is bone in 4 lb)
1 package Italian Dressing mix (just the mix-NOT make into dressing)
Put in crock pot for 10 hours on low.  Shred beef and take out any chucks of fat but leave juices in.  Toast 8 hoagie style buns.  Top with favorite Cole slaw, provolone cheese and  thousand island dressing for adult version.  For kidos just provolone and meat.  Take juices from pot and pour over meat or into bowl to dip sandwiches into. 


Vanilla Pudding Cake with Berries and Cream

By Stephanie

My husband likes to order Crème Brule when we go out. But it HAS to be with berries.  I think he likes that creamy and sweet with the tart of berries.  So I made something similar for fathers day.  I have to say..it was super yummy!! 

Sorry the pic is a bit messy, I didn’t think about taking a pic until AFTER I had taken a bite. 


Vanilla Pudding Cake

Serves 6-8

5 Tbsp softened butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 egg yolks

5 Tbsp flour

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 cups milk

6 egg whites at room temp

pinch cream of tarter

In clean VERY clean bowl whip egg whites with cream of tarter to stiff peaks.  Set aside.  take 1 Tbsp butter and grease 6 ramekins or bowls or a 9X9 pan.  In large mixing bowl, mix butter, salt and  sugar with wooden spoon.  Beat in yolks, flour and vanilla.  Slowly add in milk and stir until combined.  Slowly add in 1/3 of egg whites and fold to combine.  Add in another 1/3 and repeat until egg whites are all in.  There can be a few lumps of whites, but mostly incorporated.  Carefully ladle batter into pan or ramekins.  Put pan or ramekins into roasting pan and fill with hot water 1/2 way up side of pan.  Put into 325 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes until sides are set but middle is a bit wiggly still.  Take out and leave in water bath for 10 minutes.  Then remove and let cool.  Can be served warm, room temp or chilled.  (I prefer warm). 

Berry Topping

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 cups raspberries

2 cups strawberries (sliced)

Put sugar, water, and 1 cup of each berry into small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.  Put in other berries and stir to combine, but be careful not to break up berries.  Serve immediately or refrigerate to use later.  (GREAT on waffles!!)

Cream Topping

Makes about 22cups

1 cup whipping cream whipped

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

Combine in small bowl.  Keep in fridge.  My FAVORITE thing on pies, berries, just about anything.   


Eggplant Parmesan

By Stephanie

I am SO glad my kidos aren’t picky.  Most of the time.  My darling friend Jami make this for our ladies lunch.  It was SO good.  I didn’t know if my kidos would eat it, but just like her Skillet Lasagna Recipe, it was a HUGE hit.  I had to fight them to leave some for dad..

This recipe easily doubles.  And you can freeze the other recipe before adding cheese and sauce in a big freezer bag for a later date. 


Eggplant Parmesan

serves 6

Two Large eggplants sliced into 1/2” slices (I didn’t peel mine, but you can if you want to)

1 tsp salt

2 cups breadcrumbs

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

4 eggs (beaten well)

1 cup flour

Sprinkle salt over cut eggplant.  Turn over and do other side.  Let sit for 15-30 minutes to draw out moisture.  Then take paper towel and blot off.  Add breadcrumbs into parmesan and put into shallow pan or plate.  Put flour and eggs into separate shallow pans or plates.  One at a time dip eggplant into flour, egg and then breadcrumbs.  Put into well greased cookie sheet.  (I actually put mine into a wire rack on a cookie sheet).  Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes and then flip them and cook about another 5 minutes.  (Since I cooked mine on wire rack, no need to flip them). 

Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and your favorite sauce (mine is Hunts Spaghetti Sauce). 

Building a Potting Bench

So, I have not so secretly coveted a friend's potting bench at her home.  One time, I asked her where she got it and she replied that she had rescued it from a dumpster.  Apparently, the garden shop where she worked at the time decided they didn't want it anymore, but she saw the beauty in the chippy, weathered look of the bench and took it home, where it is just outside her door and can be seen every time she goes to her garden.
I have had some boards that I rescued from the stairs leading to our backyard before we added on to our house.

My poor husband, I'm sure, was convinced that I was saving them only to be taken to the trash at a later date, but I didn't! 

My only sadness is that I didn't have enough old wood to make the legs, so I had to paint it.  I tried to weather the finish, but only time does the real good work! In a few years, it will look exactly like I want it.

But in the meantime, I have made myself a potting bench!  I am very proud and love that it can grace my backyard for years to come. I'm already using it as a staging place for some other projects I am working on, that you will see soon!

I've linked up to:

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating


Strawberry and Peach Shortcakes

By Stephanie
Doesn’t this just look summery and delish?  It is really easy.  You DO have to turn your oven on.  So if you are lucky enough to have temps in the 90’s you may want to wait to make this.  If you are like us, and not even in the 80’s…bake away. 
Strawberry and Peach Shortcakes
serves 8
for shortcakes:
2 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter, cut up into 1/2” cubes
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Whisk or mix in food processor pulsing a few times to mix.  Scatter butter on top and pulse a few times or cut in with pastry cutter until looks like coarse cornmeal.  Blend egg and milk together.   Pour into flour mixture and pulse a few more times or mix until flour is incorporated.  But don’t over mix.  Dump onto floured counter top and knead three or four times.  Pat into rectangle about 1” thick.  Using 2 3/4” round cutter (I used a floured large cup) cut out six biscuits.  Take left over dough and form into two more.  Put on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a bit more sugar.  Bake at 425 for 12-14 minutes.  Until golden brown.  Let cool.
While shortcakes are cooling take 2 lbs fresh strawberries and 4-5 fresh ripe peaches.  Cut (and peel) into slices.    Take 2 Tbsp sugar and sprinkle over top.  Let sit and macerate (lets out juices). 
Whipped Cream topping:  1 Cup heavy whipping cream, whip to stiff peaks with 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  Fold in 1 cup sour cream. 
To assemble.  Split cooled shortcake in 1/2.  Lay cut side up.  Spoon over generous helping of fruit and whipped cream topping.  ENJOY!!


Free Chips and Queso

Who doesn't love free chips and queso?
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Elvis Chocolate Pie

By Stephanie
This is a chocolate, peanut butter and banana pie.  I know, I know…SUPER rich!  But totally worth it!   And I know my pic isn’t the best, but we ate it before I could get another one!  My family loved it!!  And at 4000 calories a slice, who wouldn’t love it.  (yes I exaggerate a bit, really just a bit though).   Make this on a day you will be able to get at least two hours of cardio in….
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Pie
Serves 10-12
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used chocolate graham crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
Mix together and press into a 9” pie plate.  Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes.  Let cook completely.  Slice one large or two small bananas into coins into the bottom of the cooled crust.  Make 1 small box chocolate pudding mix using pie filling instructions or use 2 cups of my Chocolate soup recipe (make sure it is completely cooled) and pour over bananas.  Then top with another sliced banana (or two).  Then top that with Peanut Butter Cream (see below) layer and then top it all off with a layer of 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream whipped and sweetened with 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight to set.  Cut and serve.

Peanut Butter Cream:
4 oz cream cheese-softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter (whatever kind you like)
2/3 cup heavy cream-whipped
Beat everything but whipping cream until  smooth.  Gently fold in whipping cream.   



By Stephanie
I hope you had a great Fourth of July.  Sorry it’s been a few days since posting, but we had friends come up from Utah. 
First, it is finally sunny here.  As I say that I am knocking on wood since we have only had a handful of sunny days over 70 degrees since we moved here.  I am hoping the sunny trend continues since it IS July for heavens sake.  But I guess even those that have lived here forever say it’s been a cold spring.  Spring?  I usually refer to June as summer, but that is just me. 
Anyway, we took our friends to Deception Pass.  It really is incredible. You can see one of the bridges in this pic.  There are actually two.  You can walk across and go down to the beach you see way in the distance.   It’s pretty cool.
But on Monday we had the most AMAZING fireworks experience ever.  We went to our friend's sister’s house and had awesome ribs, done in a smoker, over-the-top cake with strawberries (yes I will make and post recipe later) and a fireworks show I have NEVER seen anything close.  Seriously.  The finale was 398 fireworks!   That just gives you a small taste of what we saw.  It was better than any show or city production.  And all in their back yard. 
Thanks Abby and Ken for a 4th we will never forget!!


So, we've had our fair share of health scares in the family.  We're really grateful for good news about the brain tumor that maybe isn't a tumor in my niece and we're so glad that there are really good doctors working on it. My spring hasn't been very great either, with a diagnosis of cancer, also. It was very scary and not a little overwhelming, but thanks to some great doctors and a whole lot of blessings from God, the cancer was caught early and I am feeling just about 100%!
I knew I was back to feeling myself again when I looked around my home and yard and saw all the projects that I needed and wanted to work on. It has been several months since I have wanted to work on anything around my home.  It's fabulous to feel like I'm myself again!
So, my summer outdoor projects include:

Getting our sprinkler system fixed that was destroyed during our house renovation 2 years ago.
Make a headboard bench
Make a potting bench
Finish the picket fence around the garden
Decorate our patio
Make a fairy garden
Organize the garage
Build a bike shelter

I also want to make a headboard for my bedroom and update the room. I haven't updated it for several years and it is the room that didn't get any changes during our renovation.

Hopefully, I will be good at blogging and can keep you updated on my progress and you can see the finished projects as I go!