Happy 2014!

Happy New Year!

My husband and I have been spending the week in Ohio visiting family and friends. It’s been such an eventful trip that we’re going to need a vacation from our vacation 🙂 The snow even followed us down from northern Michigan and my sister was especially elated that we ended up with a white Christmas.

For my kitchen adventures, I received an 8-cup food processor from my parents. My days of making pesto 2 cups at a time are over and I am absolutely elated. I’m also excited to use it for making more soups and sauces – as well as using it as a shortcut for chopping up vegetables! Thanks, Mom & Dad 😉

I don’t have anything ‘new’ to post regarding recipes I’ve recently made – granted, we haven’t been home – but I can at least give you a quick recap of the top recipes of 2013…in case you’re looking for some quick inspiration!

5. Rich Chicken Noodle Soup – A great twist on an old classic

4. Cheeseburger Casserole – An easy, healthy recipe that satisfies that craving for a cheeseburger

3. Chicken Tortilla Soup – A perfect soup for a snow day, that can easily become a vegetarian meal

2. King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef Sandwiches – A tasty appetizer for when company comes

1. Crispy Honey-Soy Tofu – If you’re curious about cooking/eating tofu, this is a great recipe with which to get your feet wet! I am a little surprised that this was the #1 recipe of 2013. But then again, it’s what the people want/like, so it’s all good 🙂

As always, thanks to my wonderful readers for supporting my blog & giving me a fun creative outlet. Even when I’m busy with things at work or having an ‘off’ week of making sad, boring dinners, you keep coming back for more. Thank you!

I’m really excited to see what 2014 brings on both my blog and as well as my personal life. It’s going to be a fun one. I’m not making resolutions of any sort, but I do know that my husband & I want to start being even more mindful of what we eat on a daily basis and to improve our health. Obviously, you may see a few ‘healthier’ recipes come about…but I can assure you that if they are up here, they are awesome 🙂





Reader Request: Pumpkin Enchiladas

Good things happen to those who finally have time to cook, and end up cooking something awesome!

I took a day off on Friday and lo & behold, did nothing work-related the entire day. Thus I now feel recharged, refreshed, and ready to get some major work done this week for our holiday concerts coming up on December 11 & 12. It’s amazing what a day off can do for the soul.

With the turn of the weather heading towards winter (and who would believe that, as it was storming at 60* out today), I’m finding myself getting anxious about vegetarian meals again, so the making of this recipe is accidentally perfect timing. Since I finally had some major free time to myself on Friday, I decided to finally tackle a reader’s request that I had been sitting on for a few weeks. A friend of mine from our community garden “nominated” me to try a recipe out and “report back” how it went, and if it was any good. 


At first I was like, “ew, what?!” All I could immediately think of was Mexican flavor fused with pumpkin pie spice – bleh. But then, I clicked on the link & saw that it was a) a crockpot recipe, and b) did not use pumpkin pie spice at all. Challenge accepted, Cyndi 🙂

Pumpkin Enchiladas

adapted from Eat Local Grown

Into your crockpot/slow cooker, add the following & stir:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz bag frozen corn
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 dashes of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water or broth

Cook on low for 6-8 hours (the original recipe says high, but my slow cooker is kinda evil & will burn if left on high that long). When you get home or start getting a rumbly in your tumbly, move on to the next part of the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375*. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray – depending on the number you want to make, use either 8×8 or 9×13.

To make the enchiladas, fill a tortilla with some filling, plus a sprinkle of cheese if you so wish (in my house, that is a necessity). If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try some salsa-flavored cream cheese in there (we had it lying around so I figured why not?!) Wrap up the enchilada and place it seam-side-down in the pan. Repeat until the pan is full. Top the enchiladas with enchilada sauce. I had a taste for tomatillos so I used the green chile sauce made by Frontera. Sprinkle with some cheese (if you’d like) and bake until the sauce is nice and bubbly, and the cheese is melted.


I honestly don’t know what excited me more as I dug into these enchiladas – that I now had another use for the stash of pumpkins in my dining room, I had a new vegetarian recipe that didn’t suck, that someone requested a post for my blog and it actually worked – maybe a bit of all of those.

I topped my enchiladas with sour cream & some habanero hot sauce – because I’m awesome like that and love the heat. You could easily add chicken or beef to these enchiladas if you really want some, but truthfully, the meat wasn’t missed. These had great flavor and were very filling. Since we’re big fans of leftovers in our house (for use in lunches), I made a big pan of them and so far they’ve reheated quite well.

So, thank you, Cyndi, for the challenge! I hope you enjoy the results and that you’ll enjoy making/eating these enchiladas as much as I did.

P.S. If any of my lovely readers out there have a recipe for me to try out on here, let me know anytime!

How to Barbecue Chicken Thighs…

Hey! This is my 100th post! 🙂  Thank you to all my wonderful friends & readers, who enjoy reading about what I do in my kitchen, The idea all started when several of my friends had been asking me for some of my recipes via Facebook (of all things). Since it was the same few recipes, I decided to make this blog as a means of everybody being able to see what I create in my little yellow kitchen. I’ve had a lot of fun blogging and I’m looking forward to sharing many more delicious recipes and such with you all. So again, thank you for stopping by and reading my spicy simmers 🙂

Today, we’re hosting a party today for Labor Day – and Mike is planning on making chicken thighs.

This is the method he swears by.

It’s a great technique for cooking chicken thighs, and the article is pretty hilarious, too. Mike has used the author’s method before and they turned out delicious! I expect nothing less from the grill & grillmaster today.

My job for the day is simply putting together a veggie plate and getting the house in order, since it’s looking like it may rain right around party time. Mike has been a big help today; he got the garage ready to and will be doing some last minute grocery pick-up while I finish up the house. So, thank you, Hubs! 😀

Tomorrow I’ll be doing some baking…whatwhat? And getting ready for school on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to sharing those goodies with you this week!

Happy Labor Day Eve & Day!

Chopped Caprese Salad

I made this yesterday for lunch – and it was fantastic. I didn’t really measure out how much of anything I put in since it was just for me – but you have to try this! The kalamata olives take this salad to the next level and I’ll probably eat this one for lunch today, too!

In Her Chucks

Chopped Caprese Salad - In Her Chucks

After nearly three years as a loyal CSA subscriber, I can honestly say, my weekly boxes have converted me in ways I never thought possible.  Once upon a time I used to feel lost and overwhelmed by the site of unwanted veggies but now I can honestly say I am a beet buff, a kale craver and most recently a proud tomato lover.

And if it weren’t for the help of my CSA, I don’t think those conversions would have been possible.  Week after week, they provided me with bunches of soil dusted root vegetables, luscious leafy greens and perfectly plump tomatoes.  And because I wouldn’t dare waste any of it, I had to get creative.  And slowly but surely, I became more and more excited to get these items in my box.  And today, I will pretty much eat anything.

Now, I know Caprese Salads aren’t anything new.  I…

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Foodie Penpals: April ’13

This month’s round of Foodie Penpals was an absolute blast. I received a package all the way from Puerto Rico! Dimarie sent a great package that catered to many of my ‘tastes’…not to mention that she included a really neat recipe & added to my hot sauce collection. She asked some great questions in her email to me and she really put in some fantastic items – including a recipe!


Thank you, Dimarie!

  • ‘Spicy Quesadilla’-flavored tortilla chips – You can tell I’ve been busy because these are still in my house.
  • Cornmeal, to use in her Corn Fritters recipe – which I have yet to make :-/ I’m hoping to do this on Sunday!
  • Guava paste – often enjoyed with sharp cheddar cheese. I haven’t been able to try it yet, but I’m really excited to do so. I already know I’m going to buy some locally made cheddar to try it at the end of this week, to celebrate the end of concert season 🙂
  • Mayo-Ketchup, with Garlic – She included this to go with the corn fritters. I am hoping to try it with french fries tonight.
  • Mi Madre Pique hot sauce – 🙂 This was wonderfully hot (habanero). Yum!
  • Tamarind sauce – I’ve never tried tamarind anything before – but I’m really excited to try 🙂

I’ve been pretty swamped with work and such, so thus my blog has been a bit quiet lately. I am hoping to remedy that in the coming week – I do have things lined up; I just have to post them. (Sorry, my lovely readers)

Meanwhile, my recipient, Gigi, lives in San Antonio. It’s such a cool place; I visited there with a friend & fell in love with the Riverwalk. Gigi does not have a blog, but wanted me to post for her so that she could share her box with you:

Anticipation, I love checking my mail box to see what my FPP has sent me! Jenny’s boys sent Bella some cute mice catnip toys. Bella was in Heaven when I opened my box.

  • I’m looking forward to making risotto for dinner next Sunday. I promised Jenny I would share my recipe with her.
  • Love the Jane’s Krazy Mix Up Salt. I added the mixed up salt to my steamed veggies last week. What great flavors!
    • Love my Plaid Cat Brownie Mix. I can’t wait to bake this weekend! I’m known for going to store openings and bringing brownies for the associates.
    • Ponzu Citrus sauce- Perfect sauce to add to my chicken tacos for Cinco de Mayo! Ole!!!!
    • I’m hooked on these Kellogg’s Fruit Crips. Great to munch on while sitting in traffic. Only 100 calories for this strawberry treat.

    Jenny, you are welcome to visit me anytime you want in San Antonio! Thanks again for all of the great treats. I’ll put the risotto recipe in the mail for you tomorrow.


Thank you, Gigi, for the wonderful email and I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed everything – and I’m glad that Bella enjoyed her gifts from my ‘boys’ 🙂

Bella attacking her new toys, Three Blind Mice

Bella attacking her new toys, Three Blind Mice

Want more information on Foodie Penpals? Here’s a few details for ya…

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. This is because things might get too slow and backed up when trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.