Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blackened Seasoning Mix

I always have a ton of spices on hand but when I looked up a recipe for Tilapia, I saw it required blackened seasoning which I ran out of. But when looking at what it's made of, I realized I have everything and got to work.  I have a little mortar and pestle which I just love and haven't had the chance to use it (or forget I have it) but this was a perfect chance to put it to good use.  

The key to this recipe will be smoked paprika. That stuff is amazing!  I added it to Alfredo sauce and gave a little zing to my tastebuds and turned it a light pink color. 

If you live near an international food store, check that place out for spices. It's usually a TON cheaper than McCormick :) Also, the international isle in your local grocery store should have spices in packages which will be cheaper.   We have a few bulk food stores which sell spices and herbs for a fraction of the price. If you cook with lots of spices, keep your eyes pealed for places like that.

For the recipe, I eyeballed it, which is safe if you're willing to wet your finger and sample it as you go along but it's not the most pleasant tasting stuff around, so I'll do my best to give you the measurements.

Blackened Seasoning Mix ( for 4 fish or chicken fillets)
2 TBSP. smoked paprika
1 TBSP. sweet paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes OR 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. flor blanca coarse salt  OR 1 1/2 tsp. table salt

Crush well and store in a sealed container until ready to use.

I posted a dinner idea of Tilapia, Rice Pilaf and Cucumber Salad. Maybe you want to check it out for a dinner idea!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Veggie Trio & Kielbasa Pasta Dish

I had kielbasa, green peppers, tomatoes and bow-tie pasta in my kitchen and just knew there would be a fabulous way to bring these ingredients together.  I did a recipe search and then tweaked it and it became my very own creation. My little family LOVED it!  I served it with large NY bagels since that was the only bread I had laying around. But it was the perfect side for this simple summer evening meal.

Veggie Trio & Kielbasa Pasta Dish
serves 6

1 (12 oz) box farfalle (bow-tie) pasta 
2 TBSP. butter
1 TBSP. minced garlic

2 green peppers, chopped
3 tomatoes; blanched, peeled and chopped
1 onion, minced
1 (16 oz) kielbasa sausage ring, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
1 TBSP. dried basil/ sage/ parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
2 TBSP. olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to box directions. Drain and set aside.  Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions. Cook until onions are soft. Add kielbasa and green peppers, basil, sage, parsley and black pepper. Cook until green peppers are soft.  Add cooked pasta, chopped tomatoes and olive oil. stir just until mixed. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Addicted to My Summertime Salad

I picked up what was left of the local strawberries. They were SO juicy that they practically melted in my mouth! Next spring I hope to be more in tune with the short strawberry season and actually go pick some and turn it into freezer jam. But with the few I had I used on a bed of fresh baby spinach from my mom's garden! What a treat!

I toasted chopped pecans, sliced strawberries and crumbled feta cheese. I looked up a recipe for a raspberry vinaigrette only to find out this recipe called for raspberry syrup, something you find in the international isle of the store. Well, I wasn't about to run to the store so I threw in some raspberry jam into my vinaigrette instead. JUST AS DELICIOUS!  Here's the recipe-

Baby spinach or a spring mix
feta cheese
chopped,toasted pecans

1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 Tablespoon raspberry jam
pinch of salt & pepper

Blend until smooth- Drizzle onto salad quickly. The dressing seemed to separate very fast.  Serve with a smile and get ready to reload that salad plate!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Secret to a Chewy Cookie

I have always looked for the perfect cookie recipe and tried to keep them chewy by pulling them out of the oven right before they're fully baked and eat them while hot before they turn crunchy.  But while in Taiwan, a stateside friend mailed a box of homemade chocolate chip cookies to a teammate and they were CHEWY even after the long trip overseas! What was the secret? Vanilla pudding mix!! Maybe you already knew this, but this was a revelation for me and I couldn't wait to get back to the states where I can buy vanilla pudding mix and try it out! 
Here is a recipe I found that works very well.  It makes around 4 dozen. The best way to serve them is warm with a glass of milk, so why not refrigerate your dough until guests come over?!

The Chewiest Chocolate Chipiest Cookies
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •   3cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mix together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
In your mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. 
Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My First Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I keep driving past small produce stands with signs that read, "Rhubarb"and "Local Strawberries". I really like rhubarb when others use it in cobbler or pie, but I personally have never cooked with it. 

This morning, I finally bought some and headed home for a new adventure. My little girl appreciated the juicy strawberries as a snack while I worked on the pie.

I found a recipe that was very easy to follow; "Pucker Up for That Strawberry Rhubarb Pie."  Instead of making my own pie crust I bought two frozen ones, thawed them, rolled them together on waxed paper and placed it in my deep dish pie pan.

Check out her site and have fun! It didn't take me as long as I thought it would. From start to oven it was right around 45 minutes.

My hubby stated he didn't really like rhubarb but would try it anyway. Well, guess what happened? He's a believer!

It is delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I took a few shortcuts in making these cupcakes but since I had extra time from the shortcuts, I played around with homemade frosting and drizzled chocolate decor!

I bought a box of chocolate cake mix and while mixing it added 1/3 cup raspberry jam and a little extra cocoa powder; maybe 1/4 cup.  They baked nicely.

For the frosting, I followed this recipe from the Food Network:

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream ( I threw in some leftover cool whip with this)
Once this was mixed, I added raspberry jam to the bowl, 1 TBSP at a time, mixing thoroughly. A total of 4 TBSP went into the batch. It was such a gorgeous color! And licking the spoon was heavenly! I couldn't wait to top the cupcake with this frosting!

While the cupcakes were baking, I melting a little chocolate in the microwave and using a knife, I drizzled it onto waxed paper. I really had no idea how this was going to turn out so I just did circles and swirls. It all dried within minutes right there on the counter and I could easily peel them off. The outcome was perfect! It was Mother's Day, so I gave one to our our upstairs neighbor who is a mom and grandma and shared them with a friends over dinner together.  Who knew "gourmet" cupcakes could be so easy!?!?!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Junabug Adventure

We were invited to an Indie Show over the weekend and I took the plunge! I got a banner made up, business cards and sewed like a wild woman for a few weeks. I made matching mother-daughter aprons, stenciled burp cloths, nursing covers and crayon roll-ups. I had a small table with Mother's Day cards on it for kids to color which attracted moms. :)

It was a blast and I am happy with how much got sold. People invited us to other shows and one dear lady suggested I sell things in her shop! Something I will definitely look into to.

Here are a few places I advertise my items on-
and Facebook, "Junabug's Corner"

Let me know if there's something that interests you or need something custom made!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rosemary Filone Bread

I have been playing around with Rosemary and when I came across this recipe on Gwen's blog, I saw how she organized it with pictures and step by step directions. I just might be able to do this! I am usually terrible with making bread but I was determined to face my fears on this one. It came out fantastic! It took a few days to make because the "starter dough" sits for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.

The only thing different with my recipe is I added 1/2 cup of finely chopped black olives into the dough the same time I added the chopped rosemary. It was a hit! I served the warm loaf with dipping oil- olive oil and a few Italian seasonings sprinkled into it on a small plate.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Coolest Oatmeal Cookie Recipe EVER

I had a bag of dates in my refrigerator and went to Google Recipes and typed in the ingredients I wanted to use; dates, oatmeal, coconut and butter and a few great recipes came up. I actually settled with one that didn't have dates in it and simply added them (1/2 cup) to the cookie dough.  Also, I didn't have maple syrup so I used pancake syrup.

I had fun watching the baking soda react with the butter mixture. It ultimately turned the cookie into a crispy edged/ soft middle creation.

Here is the link to the Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Shop on Etsy and Facebook

I have been having a lot of fun this winter sewing on the nice up-to-date Bernina machine my mom gave me! I started sewing nursing covers, matching mommy-daughter aprons and chic burp cloths.  Here are some pictures of what I've made and the links are at the bottom of the page. Stay tuned- there will be new items weekly!

The above has been SOLD

I opened a shop on Etsy  and check it out on Facebook @ Junabug's Corner 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baked Rosemary Chicken Breasts

WOW! Fresh Rosemary is my few favorite herb this week! I had found bone-in/ skin-on chicken breasts on sale for $0.99 per lb and since I don't often cook chicken with bone or skin, I went directly to the web and searched for a good recipe. I came across a blog that I just LOVED and enjoyed all her pictures. You can check out her recipe here on Simply Yummy Goodness.

I did something a little differently by taking a spring of rosemary and sliding it directly under the skin of each breast. It gave the meat a great flavor!  Rubbing the skin with olive oil really made the skin crispy.   I served my chicken with macaroni and cheese and asparagus since that's what I had on hand and my husband never refuses mac & cheese. It was a splendid dish and I am looking forward to trying more recipes with my fresh rosemary.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cool Curtains

I came across a picture that really caught my eye! It is a HUGE curtain with the illusion of a huge tree behind it but it's actually ascii-code printed all over it! How creative is THAT!!! I love it! 


Monday, March 28, 2011

Personalized Canvas Tote Bag

Yesterday, during our church service, I was buzzed by the nursery to get Savannah. She needed a diaper change and I had not provided a diaper for them. I immediately got the idea of personalizing a small tote bag so the next time I can provide a diaper, wipes and a sip cup. It's small enough that Savannah can carry it.

It was fairly easy so I thought I'd provide a tutorial here for anyone interested in trying it themselves.

I had bought a pack of four canvas bags from Amazon. I found some scrap material of white polka dots on bright red and really liked how it looked on yellow.

The first thing I did was head to the computer and find a font on Word (I used "baby kruffy")I liked; printed it out and cut it out. I kept them all connected to make the sewing easier.

Using a seam ripper, I opened one side  to help with machine sewing.

 Iron on Heat n Bond (lite) on your piece on fabric. Place your cut out letters (BACKWARDS) on the backside of the bonded fabric. Trace and cut out. Peal off the paper and iron your letters on the bag.

Sew your letters securely on the fabric.

I also cut a strip of yellow flowered print of 3' wide for the rim around the top.With the right side down and the wrong side of the fabric facing you, fold each side about 1/2" and iron down. Pin around the top seam of the bag and sew the top and bottom seams.

TADA! You now have an adorable bag. Be creative and cut out flowers, birds, or anything else.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Safari Shower

My sister-in-law is expecting a boy this spring and her mom planned a safari-themed shower for her. I loved it! I am so excited to meet this little guy.

It was my job to make monkey cupcakes so to Google images I went! There are so many ideas out there and if you're patient and extremely creative you can pull off some fabulous safari animal cupcakes but I have to keep things simple so I found a picture that looked like something I could do and got to work. My daughter "helped".

I was really happy with the way they turned out!

Congratulations, guys!

Monday, March 7, 2011

And the Game Continues

Motherhood- I am constantly playing the guessing game and saying quick prayers as I work with my two year old. She is a blessing and we have so much fun together but there are moments when she needs more attention and training than, "No, no, that's not nice".

We are working on using the potty now. She just hates the feeling of a load in her diaper and even a pee will put her in squats and weird standing positions until I change her.

My cousin potty trained her son in 3 days by concentrating on his needs for 72 hours and that's all it took! He didn't want to get spider man wet again! LOL

It's taking a lot longer with this little girl. I set "potty candy" on the bathroom counter and that gets her excited. I don't know how long to do this because once she's really potty trained there's no more candy on the counter... It's really tempting to me at 8 am.

But for now she loves the "S" on each candy and thinks it is for the first letter of HER  name. Personal candy rocks, mom!

I feel like the most annoying mom in the whole world. "Do you need to go potty?" over and over again and sometimes putting her on the it without giving her a choice. But she'll thank me for this one day.

And then there are days I am really lazy and just pretend the diaper is her underwear and tell her not to go potty in them. I'm so bad! But we wash a LOT of clothes these days.

Here's to a new week of potty training!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

a LOVEly month

It is February, a month of love.

I have been wanting to meet all my neighbors (and there are 11 doors in our unit) but kept delaying it. For Christmas, I was going to make cookies to pass around. Never did it. So now I have a second chance- homemade biscotti for Valentine's Day.   I really just want to let them know Jesus loves them more than anyone else ever could and what's a better month than February to do that!

My little girl helped with the process. We had a blast spilling flour and watching eggs drip off the counter! She called butter "cheese" and ate flour, saying "YUCK!" She's not yet two so everything is new in her world! But in the end, They came out fabulous! I forget how easy biscotti is to make and should do it more often.  There are countless recipes online and I encourage you to hit the search engine and find a recipe that best suits you!  Mine called for anise extract but I had done that once and no too many people liked that flavor. This time we used vanilla extract. Not a bad substitute.

We actually leave for a visit back to Taiwan on the 14th, so we passed them out on Sunday afternoon. I had so much fun knocking on doors and surprising them with a colorful bag of biscotti. People were so quick to share about their lives and so grateful for the treat.

An hour later, we got a knock on our door and the neighbor handed us a card, saying that was so nice of us. After he left, we opened the card. It was a thank you card from Hallmark and had a very thoughtful note inside how much it meant to him and a gift card to Applebee's was tucked in! I am overwhelmed with that and can't wait for the next opportunity to spend time with our neighbors.

As far as recipes go, there are a million out there but one I'd check out is here on Lindsay's blog.She uses vanilla paste, Amaretto, and vanilla creamer!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

新年快樂- Happy New Year

Today is the official start of the Chinese New Year this year. It’s based on the lunar calendar so it falls on a different date every year, anywhere from late January until mid-February.  We were privileged to be a part of six celebrations in Taiwan. We saw incredible festivals decorated with a different animal every year which repeats itself every twelve years.

In Taipei(), the capital city of Taiwan, a city with a population over 2,000,000, people gather at the Chiang Kai-shek memorial during the holiday for fireworks, food and to check out the animal-shaped lantern displays. It is simply breath-taking!  I remember being PACKED in the sea of people and I had to push and squeeze through the sea of people just to move a few feet! Then is started raining with nowhere to run!  It is always a memorable experience.
In Taiwan, everyone would asked what year you were born so they can figure out what your zodiac sign is. They all have different characteristics. Which year were you born?













Check out this website for a detailed account on each animal’s characteristics. It’s fascinating!

 Something still so enchanting to me is the tradition of placing red papers with written blessings on the top and sides of the front door.  They do this to protect themselves from the “dragon” that comes during midnight of New Year’s Eve.  Doesn’t that sound familiar to the story of the death angel in Egypt long, long ago?
God instructed the people of Israel to place the blood of a spotless lamb and smear it on the sides and top of the door frames of the houses”   and  the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.” You can read about it in Exodus 11-12. 

We love the people of Taiwan and are so thrilled to be able to go back for a visit this month for a few weeks!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate + Orange= Match Made in Heaven

We were having special people over for dinner and I really wanted to make a special dessert. I have never attempted a torte but this recipe for Orange Chocolate Torte popped out at me from Taste of Home which I so badly wanted to try. I loved the orange extract in it and even grated a bit of orange rind around the base as I served it.

Of course, as hard as I tried, I could not imitate the picture and mine ended up being lopsided AND my truffles flattened in the frig, never to be round again AND it was harder than it looks to get those chocolate sprinkles around the side of the torte! But nonetheless, it was splendidly rich! The recipe says it should take 30 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to bake and cool. Uh, good luck with THAT! This took my all afternoon! The best part was having fingers and spoons to lick! :)

I remember ordering a Mocha Valencia at Starbucks which is a rich, creamy blend of  coffee, dark chocolate, and zesty orange. It was my favorite drink. It's no longer on the menu board, but I bet they'll make it if I ask. It's just that every time I go in, I stare at the board and end up ordering something I've had a million times.

 We have about 10 inches of snow on the ground- maybe this weekend is a good time to order one!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Picture Play

 We went to the OBX last summer but one thing I really wanted to do was get up with my husband and go watch the sunrise.

I took this photo and always loved it.  I decided to try framing it with a scripture verse on it. I wanted it big but I wasn't about to spend a full photo developing price so I took it to Staples and did two color copies. One on a regular 11x14 piece of paper ($0.20) and the other on glossy ($2.00).  I actually didn't like the glossy- it darkened the print. So I went with the first copy.

I framed it in an off-white frame I found at a shop for $12 and now it hangs over our piano.  I am real proud of it but someone walked in the door and said the font was boring... LOL

I really do love my husbands honesty. He commented on how "bony" his feet look and how boring the font is. He cracks me up.

I may play around with another picture and scripture verse sometime and change it up.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Peanut Butter+ Hot Chocolate= Perfect Marriage

I was sitting in a mechanic's shop during an oil change and picked up a LIVING magazine. A recipe for hot chocolate popped out at me!

 The best combination in the world of food is CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER!My dear friend, Lindsay, made rockin' cupcakes- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes. Check it out!

I came home and got busy with the recipe. I used organic peanut butter which is a bit oily and left a small about on oil on top. Other than that, it is incredibly rich and I put the leftovers in the refrigerator which I reheated the next day and it was just as yummy!

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate - serves 4
3 cups milk
1 cup light cream
8 oz. chocolate bar, chopped
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
pinch of salt
In a medium pot over medium heat, warm the milk and cream. Add chocolate car, stirring until dissolved. Add peanut butter and salt. Stir until hot and serve immediately.  *As the hot chocolate cools, it separates.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baked Oatmeal is for Winter

What could be better than a bowl of baked oatmeal on a cold morning?

I went to a friend's house and she served us some of her yummy baked oatmeal for brunch. She added blueberries that she had picked and froze last summer.  Just simply delicious!  I came home and realized it's so easy and it lasted us all week! Savannah and I have been putting leftovers in bowls, adding milk and microwaving them until warm.   I had a bag of frozen mixed berries I added and loved it!  I think you can throw anything you'd like in the mix- even shredded carrots to give it a "carrot cake" look and taste.

Here's the recipe I used- but there are tons out there and feel free to swap out or switch up as much as you'd like with a simple recipe like this.

Winter Baked Oatmeal

5 cups of oats
2 cups milk
4 large eggs
 1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
Options: 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 shredded carrots, chocolate chips, frozen berries, fresh seasonal fruit ( I have enjoyed strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, apples etc).
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix up everything in a bowl and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Any leftovers store nicely in the refrigerator!