Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Super Potato Salad

I had the best potato salad I have ever had in my entire life last night. And you know what, the leftovers were even better. This recipe is crazy good!

Photo from

So, all I really have to say is... make this. Today. (Then wait and eat it tomorrow if you can stand to wait that long)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Bacon, Ranch, Potato Salad*
Makes 7 servings (1/2 cup each)
160 calories per

1 1/2 lb. small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup miracle whip or olive oil mayo
1/8 cup  ranch dressing
3 TBS (heaping) Oscar Meyer Real bacon bits, crisped in the microwave and cooled to room temperature OR 3 strips bacon, cooked, crumbled and cooled.
1/2 cup (2 oz)  shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced or onion powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste 

Place potatoes in a medium sized pot. Add water just to cover the potatoes; cover with lid. Simmer 13-15 minutes,  until potatoes are just fork tender; drain. Place in large bowl. Cover loosely with a clean towel.

Refrigerate potatoes for 1 hour or until completely cooled.  

Mix mayo and dressing. Add to potatoes with remaining ingredients; mix lightly.Chill well for at least an hour. Overnight is best.

Helpful hint from Kraft:
When cooking potatoes for a potato salad, remember that the potatoes will continue to cook even after you have drained them. As soon as the cooked potatoes are fork tender, drain them, then run them under cold water to quickly cool them. When in doubt, it is better to undercook the potatoes rather than overcooking them.

* This recipe came to me in an email from and is called  "steakhouse potato salad."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Momma's VBS Carmel Corn

My mom and dad just wrapped up another year of Vacation Bible School at their church. Dad did music and choreography with the kiddos while Mom and her crew fed the small army each day. One of the snack items they made was carmel corn. (Well, technically it was supposed to be like Cracker Jack, but some of the children had peanut allergies so they were omitted)

Mom gifted us with a sample of her carmel-y corn and I just had to have the recipe.

Today, I will share with you how to take 3 bags of microwave popcorn and turn them into a sweet, crunchy treat.

3 bags of popped microwave popcorn

1 thunderstorm + 1 good book + 1 bowl of carmel corn = a great night in

A word of caution: this recipe is 100% dangerous to anyone on a diet. Don't say I didn't warn you... ;)

VBS Carmel Corn
24 (1-1/4 cup) servings

30 cups popped popcorn (3 3oz microwave bags)
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Use cooking spray on anything the wet caramel will touch. (Makes for easier cleanup later.)
Pop each bag of popcorn. Place the popped corn into a roaster pan, removing unpopped kernals*.

In a large, deep saucepan combine brown sugar, corn syrup, and margarine. Bring to a boil over medium
heat, stirring to blend. When the mixture begins to boil, boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy.
Immediately pour caramel over the popcorn and gently stir to coat.  Don’t worry too much about getting all the popcorn coated.

If baking in the roaster: Bake uncovered for 1 hour, carefully stirring every 15 minutes.

If baking on the two baking sheets: Divide the popcorn between the two baking sheets. Bake
for 45 minutes, carefully stirring every 15 minutes.

Line a table or counter with waxed paper. Dump the popcorn onto the wax paper and separate pieces as needed. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight bags. (I just returned mine to the roaster, covered with a layer of foil and put the lid back on. The foil was to ensure it was airtight due to living in a humid climate)

* If you don't remove the kernels you run the risk of breaking a tooth. Take the time and remove them please.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Crock Pot Beef Sammy

Raise your hand if you love your crock pot! ( Entire arm raised way up and waving around for this girl, you know, like the eager elementary school child who really wants the teacher to call on them)

I found a recipe for crock pot beef sammys in one of my busy cook recipes a few weeks ago. Then, I came across it again over at Our Best Bites. (These girls rock in the kitchen!) I figured it was time to give it a try.

Oh my goodness. I should have known they were going to fabulous. Beef, cheese, banana peppers, and bread- I see nothing bad about this. :)

I didn't follow either of the recipes exactly, but I used them as a basic guideline. The sandwiches turned out fantastic. And, the best part was I didn't have to turn the oven on! You gotta love that when the heat index is 112. We served a chilled pasta salad for a side dish. Super easy, minimal effort. It was a great meal.

Before I post the recipe, I wanted to share a few photos with you:

The first is of Charlie, hanging out on the back patio. He is only allowed to play outside when there is little to no smoke.

Next is a picture of a little orange kitty who has adopted our subdivision. She is very people friendly.  I think Charlie wants to be her boyfriend, she's the only cat he doesn't try to run off "his" property. My mom decided she looks very sassy, so that is what I will call her from now on :) She's a tiny little thing with giant paws and a big fluffy tail.

The last photo I am sharing today is of the smoke in my backyard. There are still several wild fires across the state (We praise God that we are safe and just have to deal with smoke and ash as the wind carries it to us) This particular day it was very thick, the air was heavy with humidity and the smoke just seemed to weigh everything down. And then, a few hours later, the skies were clear.

They say that when fires are named (several of those currently burning have been named), the only way to fully extinguish them is to have tropical weather that also has a name. It's been so dry here and there is no significant weather on the way. But, the rain that fell on my roof last night was a sweet blessing from God. I sat and listened as the water pounded the concrete slab, praising God for his goodness.

Mr. Handsome pants out on the patio

Little Miss Sassy Pants

Smoke rolls in from wild fires around the state.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Crock Pot Beef Sammy
Makes 7-10 sandwiches

2 TBS oil
2 lb. beef roast
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2  jar sliced mild (sweet) banana peppers, undrained
garlic salt

hard rolls or Ciabatta buns
sliced provolone cheese

Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Season meat with garlic salt and pepper.

When the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides so the outsides of it is browned and a little crispy.

Meanwhile, place onion and garlic on the bottom of the crock pot. 

Transfer the roast to a slow cooker. Pour the peppers and their juices over the roast.  Cook on high until the liquid comes to a boil and then turn it to low and cook until the roast shreds easily with a fork, for a total cooking time of about 6-8 hours.

For sandwiches, slice the rolls and then top with the shredded beef. Add a slice of provolone cheese and then place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.(Toasting is optional)


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shower Curtain!

Ok kiddos- as you know, I work in a craft store. I love my job. And, I love the perks that come with it. Take today for example.  While I was working, I came across some vinyl cutouts that were on clearance, for $1.99. My first thought was- "Seriously?!" Um, I can totally spend $1.99 on some new bathroom decor.

Look at the fun I had for $1.99-
Boring blank shower curtain
Super fun decorated shower curtain!

The best part? It ties in with our sand dollar collection that adorns the wall. (Shhh...Don't tell Jon I'm slowly taking over his "man cave" bathroom/guest bathroom)

Here's to you and your culinary(and crafting) adventures, friends. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sausage and Corn Frittata

Things have been crazy around this house lately. Cr-a-z-y.  Between work, family, being sick, and battling ants, I've been a little on the slow side when it comes to posting. I do hope to get back to blogging more soon.

Let me just say- no one warned me about the bajillions of ants that inhabit the south. And yes, I am pretty sure that is a real statistic... Since much of the soil here seems to be sand, the ants love it. And, they really enjoy trying to squeeze into my house through even the tiniest, tiniest, most indistinguishable pinholes they can find. It's been an ongoing battle. People assure me it's not my fault (my kitchen and house are spotless) the little buggers will try to find some water and food, particularly when there is a big drought. So, until the rains come, I will just keep washing the ants down the drain. Sigh. Can someone send some rain my way  please?

Because I need to eat to keep my warrior-like strength for doing battle (LOL) I decided to try a new cooking light recipe. I settled on a 5 ingredient frittata dish. Doesn't it look delicious?

It was just what we were looking for. I served it with toast and orange juice. A complete breakfast for supper. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Smoked Sausage & Corn Frittata
Serves 4
174 calories per serving 

Cooking spray 
4 ounces smoked turkey sausage, quartered lengthwise and diced 
1 1/2 cups frozen shoepeg white corn, thawed 
1 large egg  plus 4 large egg whites 
1/2 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese*
1/4-1/2 tsp dry thyme
 Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage; sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Stir in corn, reduce heat to medium-low.
Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Drizzle evenly over sausage mixture. Cover and cook 8 minutes or until almost set. 
Remove pan from heat; sprinkle evenly with cheese and herbs. Cover and let stand 2 minutes.Cut into wedges.
* I used smoked gouda cheese in place of the cheddar

68 years of love

March 2010- Grandma Holecek went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When she left, her soul mate remained here on earth. His love for her never stopped, not even for a split second.

Monday June 6th, 2011- Grandpa left us to join his wife in heaven. How fitting that they would spend their 68th wedding anniversary (June 12, 1943) together again.

Jon and I went to join our family in celebrating the love and life of these two individuals.

Jon and his mom, Linda
Jon and I
Linda, Jon, and his Aunt Sandi

Welcome home.
Until we meet again-

Monday, June 6, 2011

In celebration of life

A fond farewell
Jon, Me, Grandma and Grandpa Holecek. January 2010

 Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.
- Unknown

Triple Chocolate Crispy Bars

I love chocolate. LOVE.

I also enjoy rice crispy bars.

So when I saw the new chocolate royale marshmallows by Kraft, it was a done deal. It must have been written all over my face because Jon said "you just got an idea didn't you." Oh yes friends, I got an idea all right.

Triple chocolate rice crispy bars. They turned out so good. Jon insisted that I share the recipe.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Triple Chocolate Rice Crispy Bars

3 TBS margarine or butter
1 bag chocolate royale marshmallows
8 cups chocolate rice crispy cereal (we used Cocoa Pebbles)
6 oz (about half a package) white or milk chocolate chips

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave. Add marshmallows. Stir to coat.

Melt the marshmallows using the DEFROST option. (seriously, it makes a huge difference) Once the marshmallows are all puffed up and soft, give them a quick stir. Add cereal and stir to mix well.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Transfer the cereal mixture to the pan. Spray your fingers with cooking spray. Press the cereal into an even layer. Allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, pour chips into a glass bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stir well each time to melt evenly. Pour melted chocolate over the cereal bars. Using a spatula, spread  the chocolate evenly.

Refrigerate until firm. Remove from fridge and cut into bars. To store keep covered at room temperature.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bo-ld peanuts

I say bo-ld because that's the way southerners say it. They drop the "i" in boiled.

When I visited southern GA years ago we stopped at a roadside stand and tasted boiled peanuts. I thought they were the nastiest thing I have ever had the displeasure of putting in my mouth. They were mushy and they were warm- it was like eating peanut flavored mashed potatoes. I vowed to never, ever try them again.

Fast forward to last week when my grandma was here.

In fact- here's a picture of my gram, my mom, and me :)

She wanted to have some boiled peanuts while she was here. So we stopped at a little roadside stand and bought raw aka green peanuts.

Um, I wasn't really interested in peanuts at the time... so enjoy some other fresh local produce:

This particular stand had several hand painted chalk boards for each item they sold.

Vine ripe GA tomatoes. Aren't they pretty? Pretty tasty :)
Mom and Dad went home and the peanuts went into the fridge. A few days later we remembered we were going to make boiled peanuts. It was late and they take a few hours. Gram decided to be in charge of turning the peanuts off and drain them when they were done.

I arrived early the next morning since we were going to Florida to meet up with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I must have been tremendously hungry because I snatched a peanut up off the counter, cracked the shell and slurped out the nuts. (I'm told the proper way to eat them is indeed, to slurp the nut out of the shell) And you know what, I liked it. A lot. Mom even sent some home with me! Yummy. (So much for never ever trying them again LOL.)

Here are a few other highlights from the weekend:

A striped sea anemone my mom found on our beach walk. When we'd touch it, the anemone would ball up tightly to protect itself. It was beyond cool. Great fun find, Mom!

Me and my cousin Raquel. I'm so excited she's home from college for the summer!

Ok, I know it's sideways, blogger is being difficult- anywho,  I don't recall this particular Dick and Jane title!

I told Jon he couldn't make his angry face, my dad cracked up. I LOVE this picture of the two of them :) Click the picture to see the full sized version- it's super fun.
Best. Memorial Day weekend. ever.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

  Boiled Peanuts

  2 lbs raw green peanuts in the shell, washed well
·       ½ cup salt

        Add water three times the depth of peanuts in the pot

 Place washed peanuts(still in the shells) in a pot with water and salt. Weight down the peanuts with a heavy   plate  if desired. Boil 2-1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, adding water as necessary.

If peanuts are cooked through but not salty enough, remove pot from heat and let peanuts sit in the brine. Recheck for saltiness every 20 minutes.

Drain well.

Store in covered container in the refrigerator.

To eat- Reheat peanuts for a few seconds in the microwave. Crack and split the shells open. Slurp the nuts right out of the shell. 

* You can freeze cooked, boiled peanuts. Thaw and reheat in the microwave for a tasty treat.