Strawberry Jam

After looking over the Pioneer Woman’s website and blog post on making strawberry jam, I decided I was ready to do it on my own.

I made mine in 2 batches, but here’s the recipe for the whole bunch.  Divide in half if you are making a smaller batch.  Here’s how it went:

8 lbs. of strawberries  (Thanks, Bountiful Baskets!)

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hulled and mashed up.

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Add 10 tablespoons of old fashion pectin, 2 fresh lemons squeezed for the juice, and 4 tablespoons of vanilla.   **Don’t forget to add a a few pats of butter.  That really is the secret to keeping the goop off the top of the jam as it boils!   Bring to a rolling “violent” boil for 2 minutes.

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Add in 14 cups of sugar.  YES, I know!   14 cups (7 if your making half the recipe) is a RIDICULOUS about of sugar.  In retrospect, I could have cut it to 10 cups.  But, y’all!  Jam is sweet.  You can’t skimp on the sugar!  I thought this bag of sugar was just obnoxious, until I used half of it and realized that it was a good thing I bought such a big bag.  Yikes!

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Bring the jam back to that violent boil for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool for a bit and skim off any goop stuff from the top.

Prepare your jars according to direction and seal!    I just love that popping symphony that occurs once all the jars are done.  The fantastic pot my grandmother left to me is the greatest thing for boiling and preserving.

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Label and there you go!

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I think the vanilla adds a nice flavor to it all, though next time I want to use more lemons and a vanilla bean for better flavoring.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!

Favorite Asparagus

Robby and I have a favorite way to cooking our asparagus.

I can’t WAIT to try it out on a grill this summer.  I’m sure it will be even better!



  • 2 bundles of asparagus

  • olive oil

  • garlic salt


  1. Preheat over to 350

  2. Wash asparagus and cut off ends

  3. Spread out asparagus on a foil lined baking sheet

  4. Drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over asparagus.  Use your hands to toss and coat each stalk.

  5. Generously sprinkle garlic salt over asparagus.

  6. Bake 20 minutes, take out to toss and stir, then bake 20-25 minutes.

  7. Enjoy!

Side note:  On a grill, bake for 30 minutes in a foil pouch, then open for last 10 minutes.

Flounder Piccata with Lemon, Capers and Artichoke Sauce

It’s HOT outside!  As in 102 as the high today, and it’s not even June yet.  Welcome to Texas,  y’all!  

These hot days make me crave citrus flavors and something light to eat.  When I came across a recipe on for Flounder Piccata it sparked my interest.  Unfortunately, our grocery store did not have fresh flounder.  With a little bending of the rules, though, I created a terrific dinner that is great for the summer!

Follow the recipe link above, but feel free to substitute as needed for your dietary needs.  I used fresh tilapia filets and added in a can of quartered artichoke hearts to the sauce.  The artichokes added in a nice vinegar taste along with the capers.  Yum!

Let simmer until reduced to half
Let simmer until reduced to half

The finished product!!

dinner 2

Roasted Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)

During the AdvoCare cleanse, I find that I do better if I have snacks readily available during the day.  Sometimes I get so busy at work I won’t have time for lunch, but can grab a hand full of trail mix or an apple.  

Here’s a strange thing,….lately I’ve been craving something spicy!  If you know me, you know that I’m a baby when it comes to turning up the heat of food.  I can’t handle ANY spice without saying “It burns my tongue!!”  My family may never let me live it down.  I don’t know why, but I’ve wanted spicey things lately.   Strange, right?!?!  So last night, I had an idea:  make a snack with some kick to it!  And so I started something new for us:  

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas


  • 2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Favorite Seasoning
  • Olive Oil


  1. Preheat your oven to 400.  
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Drain both cans of chickpeas and blot with a paper towel to soak up any excess water.  The less water the better!
  4. Spread out chickpeas on parchment paper.
  5. Generously dust/sprinkle with your favorite seasoning.  (I used a Cajun seasoning to get that spice kick I’ve been craving!)
  6. Drizzle olive oil on chickpeas just to cover, then toss so it’s well spread.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes then stir to make sure it doesn’t burn.  Bake 20 more minutes.  Look for a golden brown color in the chickpeas.  Once cooled, they should have a light crunch.
  8. Enjoy!
Spread out chickpeas on parchment paper

Spread out chickpeas on parchment paper

Tony Chachere's, my seasoning of choice!

Tony Chachere’s, my seasoning of choice!

Easy Mexican Salad

I suppose every good recipe has a story behind it.

This recipe was taught to me by a guy I dated in college.  To be quite honest, I was very hesitant to try his cooking since majority of the time we spoke on the phone I always heard the fire alarm going off in the background because he had burnt something.  On the night he made this dish, we went to grocery shop together.  He kept calling it “taco salad” so I went with the typical tex-mex Taco Salad with guacamole, pico, taco seasoning, etc…   After over an hour of miscommunications, he convinced me  that this WAS taco salad because his momma told him so.  HAHA!

Though the relationship didn’t last, this recipe has been one that I’ve passed on to countless friends!

Ode to my ex’s mother:

Dear Cindy, though the relationship was not meant to be,

I’m forever grateful for this fantastic recipe!

And with that, here we go!  Mexican Salad



  • fresh spinach leaves (can use any other type of lettuce)
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef (can substitute quinoa, I used both for extra protein)
  • 1 bottle of fat free Catalina dressing
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn, rinsed
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 bag of Frito’s corn chips


1.  Prepare the ground beef and/or quinoa.  I used a lean ground beef and a black bean quinoa.  The flavors really complemented each other.   Once ground beef is cooked through, drain well and set aside.


Roland brand Quinoa, ready in 15 minutes!

lean ground beef

lean ground beef

2.  Rinse both corn and black beans before heating them in the same skillet as the ground beef was in.  Once warmed, mix ground beef, corn, and black beans together.

ground beef, quinoa, corn, and black beans with dressing on top.

ground beef, quinoa, corn, and black beans with dressing on top.

3.  Add Catalina dressing to the mixture, being careful not to add too much.  I taste test as I go to get the right flavor.


4.  Plate fresh spinach leaves and add Frito’s to the plate.  This gives a nice salty crunch to the salad!

And voila!  A simple and very quick meal.

The best part, the dressing!

Healthy and filling! Quinoa salad

Thanks to my amazing sister-in-law (Jenny, YOU ROCK!) I’ve been loving my subscription to Clean Eating Magazine.  Great recipes and ideas of how to keep my family eating well.   I tried a variation of one of the recipes last night, and it was FANTASTIC!   Easy to make and throw together, healthy and filling, this recipe has been added to the KEEP pile of recipes in my kitchen.


Who Knew? Digestion begins long before you put food in your mouth. According to nutrition expert Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, our other senses, notably smell and sight, can jump-start the production of saliva and enzymes that promote better digestion. This so-called cephalic digestion—cephalic being Greek for “in the head”—explains why the appearance and aroma of food goes beyond mere aesthetics. According to Swift, attractive presentation, pleasing odors, and a relaxed mood improve digestion. So do yourself a favor and set the table with attractive dinnerware and light a candle or two.

Read More

*****So on that note, please forgive my pictures and lack of presentation.  One day I hope to be that amazing blog with beautiful pictures of food and dishes and table settings.  But until I win the lottery and hire a photographer to follow me around (why can’t we all look like Giada when we cook?!?!), my iPhone camera will have to do for my cooking photos.  Thanks.

Quinoa Salad


  • 1 3/4 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened craisins
  • 1 cup chopped raw pecans
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • chopped green onions, about 1/3 cup (depends on how much you like green onions)


– Cook quinoa according to package.  I used Bob’s Red Mill last night.  LOVE it!

Bob's Red Mill Quinoa

Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa

2.  While quinoa cooks, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup.   Set aside

3.  Chop you other ingredients.  You can add so many other variations to this recipe.  I used the pecans my dad hand-picked and shelled for me from East Texas.  YUMMM!  So good!  Almonds, walnuts, and others can be used, too.

lots of yummies to add to the salad!

lots of yummies to add to the salad!

4.  When the quinoa finishes cooking according to the package directions, pour the olive oil mixture and stir until quinoa is completely coated.  (if preparing this for the next day, reserve about 1/4 of the liquid and pour over salad when ready to eat.)

5.  I mixed in 1/2 of the spinach leaves and allowed them to wilt just a bit from the steam.  Also mix in the craisins and nuts and let sit for 2-3 minutes.  This allows the craisins to plump up a bit.

Mix well so that the quinoa is coated with the dressing.

Mix well so that the quinoa is coated with the dressing.

6.  Serve over a bed of spinach and enjoy!

What a great lunch!

What a great lunch!

This was great warm, and even better the next day when cold.   I added in some grilled chicken for the guys, knowing that they love to have some type of meat with their meal.  Easily that could be left out and just a vegetarian meal.

AdvoCare Cleanse – Day #8

Almost finished!  We’re very ready to be done with the cleanse.  For some reason, as we drove to church last night, we began to talk about the food that we just want a taste of.  We’ve had the strangest cravings along the way for things that we don’t even eat but maybe once a year.  (For example, I began to crave strawberry pop-tarts with frosting while watching The Nut Cracker with friends on Saturday night.  What?!?!   Where did that come from?  I don’t think I’ve bought pop-tarts since I lived in the dorms at college.)

Breakfast – back to the fiber shake, along with probiotics and a meal replacement shake.  It’s become the normal now, and I sort of enjoy it.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I still miss my morning cup of coffee.  It’s one of the 1st things I will do off of the cleanse!   but I’ve grown quite fond of my caffeine free hot tea.

Tonight for dinner we made a stir-fry with all of the fresh veggies from Bountiful Baskets.  This is all the wonderful food we got last weekend.   We used half of it if not for dinner for snacks and breakfast today.  So good!



stir-fry dinner

stir-fry dinner


On another note, Robby shaved his beard this weekend!  WOOHOOO!  I am not a fan of the facial hair on my husband, never have been.  When I snuggle up to him with my head on his shoulder, his whiskers scratch my face and my hair gets caught in it.  Eeewwwwee!   I adore his clean shaven face.   Here are the before and after pictures:

Before, this is my husband....Grizzly Adams.

Before, this is my husband….Grizzly Adams.



And so we wind down night #8 and get ready for day #9.  Almost there…….

AdvoCare 10 Day Cleanse – Day #2

Day #2 – Things are getting better!

I don’t know what happened this morning when we decided to drink the citrus fiber drink.  Didn’t we JUST comment yesterday about how gross it was?  And yet, we did it again.  And we gagged again.  Robby got the drink down, I gave up and made another drink with the peaches and cream.  I will not have a memory lapse on that one again.   EEWWWWEE!   Breakfast meal replacement shake and off to work I went.

It was a busy day and my mind was everywhere except for thinking about food.  YAY!  I forgot that I even had snacks with me to keep me going.  I downed my water through the day and stayed in a good mood.  I had an emergency Slam energy drink, just incase that mid-afternoon slump got to me, but it didn’t!   What did get to me was a migraine.  It’s normal to experience a dull headache during the cleanse if you are accustomed to having caffeine.  Migraines, on the other hand, are not that common.  I took my medicine and powered through.

For lunch, I ate out with a friend.  We went to a place that customizes salads and I picked all sorts of yummy veggies for my salad.  It was filling and kept me focused during work.     After work I got in a good hour workout before going home to cook dinner.

Vegie Lentil SoupAhhh, dinner.  I was excited for dinner.   Why?  Because it was a vegetarian lentil soup!  YUMM!  This recipe is pretty easy to make and cooks for 45 minutes which allows you to clean up, relax, and do whatever.  This soup was fantastic!  So full of flavor and just creamy enough.  (following the directions on the link above, I blended a little bit of the cooked soup and mixed it back in before serving.  That made it more of a creamy soup instead of a broth with lentils.)  Robby wasn’t overly excited about it (he still gives me a hard time if I make a vegetarian meal) I thought it was fantastic!   Keeping this recipe for later in the winter!

No snacks during the evening, but I was extremely productive!  I decorated the house for Christmas and wrote this blog!  WOOHOO!

And now, breakfast and lunches are packed and ready for tomorrow, I’m calling it a night.   See y’all tomorrow for Day #3!