IMG_0402I’m so excited to introduce my Friend Friday guest post by Christina Stanley!!!!  Christina is a part-time working mama, has her degree in accounting, and is a certified Pilates teacher. Currently, her favorite workout is spinning.  Christina is passionate about traveling and photography (as we can see by her photography skills on this post :).  She is married and has 2 beautiful girls AND is a master at overnight oats.  Christina is going to share with us her recipe for Cinnamon & Vanilla Overnight Oats and I am sooooo excited to try this.  I love me some overnight oats!  Thanks so much Christina for contributing! You’re the BEST!

IMG_0398Cinnamon & Vanilla Overnight Oats


1 cup old fashioned rolled or quick cut oats
1 scoop vanilla protein powder of your choice
1 tablespoon chia seeds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk of your choice (my favorite is coconut almond milk)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Serve warm or cold. Serves 2.

These overnight oats have taken over breakfast at our house. We were in need of something even faster, and preferably more nutritious, than Lucky Charms and (overly) buttered toast. These are high in protein, fiber, and calcium. They are so easy to mix together the night before, and all the kids have to do in the morning is scoop some into a bowl and viola! Healthy, satisfying breakfast can be achieved in a minute, which is about all the time there is to spare on weekday mornings.

My favorite milk to use is coconut almond milk. The sweet and nutty flavor goes perfectly with oats. If I don’t have coconut almond, my next pick is unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Any kind of milk you prefer/have on hand will work just fine though. I always double the recipe to make sure the 4 of us get enough. They are good in the fridge for up to 2 days. Enjoy!


Veggies Veggies Veggies

Today’s talk is about those wonderful VEGGIES!!  In the Washington Post there was an article that caught my attention and this was the first paragraph.

“People who eat seven or more portions of fresh fruits and vegetables each day may reduce their risk of dying from a wide variety of diseases by as much as 42 percent over people who consume less than one portion, according to a new study by British researchers who tracked the eating habits of more than 65,000 people for 12 years.”


Here are a couple of ways to cook these beauties.  The first method is roasting your veggies.  I love the roasting method and making a vegetable medley is a fav.  You just cut veggies into chucks that are fairly uniform, preheat over to 425 degrees, and place veggies on a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt and pepper.  I like to rub it all around with my hands and then pop it in the preheated oven.  Depending on the size of your veggies, it will take about 15-20 min to cook.

On the right I did a mixture of carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms and on the left is a potato mix of white potatoes and sweet potatoes.  I seasoned this with a little garlic salt, pepper and some sage and they were delish!!  LOVE roasted veggies!

The next way to get your veggies in, is to serve a salad.  I like to make a spinach salad with some homemade dressing.  Spinach is a favorite base for a salad around here but everyone likes different toppings, so I kind of make a mini salad bar.  It’s quite a pretty sight to see :).  It would be beautiful on a huge platter served at a dinner party.  Below I have some bacon, red peppers, fresh motz cheese, red onion, carrots, egg and toasted almonds.  I love avocado as well.


SO ENJOY THOSE VEGGIES!!  Like your mama said, “They’re good for ya!”  I would love to know your favorite way to serve veggies.  Thanks for visiting :).

Kitchen Favorites

Who doesn’t like kitchen gadgets, well, I call them gadgets because I just really like that word LOL. Today, I thought I would share some of my kitchen favorites that I use nearly every day.

Going from left to right…..

Eggsact Eggtimer


As you can probably tell, this little beauty gets used a lot around here.  We love our boiled eggs and this cooks them “EGGSACT”LY right :).  You just put this baby right in the water with your eggs and as the eggs cook, you will see a dark line go up on the timer.  Just remove them from the heat when the eggs are cooked to your liking, drain the water and remove timer and put room temp water in with your eggs while they cool.  I am told the shells remove easier this way, but the jury is out on that one ha.

The Grater/Zester






My daughter, Bri, got this for me for Christmas and I LOVE IT!  It grates Parmesan cheese and coconut and zests citrus like nobody’s business.  It’s my new fav!







These have been two long time favs.  The lower blue tube gadget is for peeling garlic.  You just pop that garlic bulb in the tube and roll it around a few times and viola!!  Peeled garlic!!  I then use the garlic press to mince the garlic for recipes.  It really is the best!






Kitchen Sheers



Good kitchen sheers are a must for any kitchen.  These are my very fav though and I’ve had numerous brands.  These are Wusthof brand and are by far the most sharp and most durable that I have had to date.  Now, if I can just keep my fam from using them for other cutting needs. LOL






Cutting Mats

cuttingmatsMy hubs got these for Christmas a couple of years ago and they are the best.  They are light weight and if you put a little water on the counter and then place the mat on top of it, it wont slide around (note to self: submit this tip to the Cook’s Illustrated magazine :).  Also, cross contamination is eliminated because there is a different mat for veggies, fish and meat.   It’s the best and are very inexpensive.  You can get some at TJ Max for a really great deal.


Knife Sharpener and Knife



As mentioned in a previous post, a dull knife is a dangerous knife, so make sure you keep your knives sharp.  The orange gadget is my knife sharpener, but there are many others out there that probably do just as good.  This one is a keeper though and works well.  This knife is a fav and so very sharp.  I got this one at the Harmon’s cooking school when I took a class called, “Knife Skills.”  The chefs have some mad cutting skills and really are the best around, so if you get a chance, go take that class.  It’s a tad pricy, but it will do wonders for your own skills and you come away with a nice knife :).




Silicone Cookie Mats


These babies make the world of difference when baking cookies.  I really was skeptical of them at first, but after I used them, there was no question that they were going to be a fav.  They make my cookies bake up so nicely and I don’t have to use parchment paper any longer.  You can get these on Amazon for a good price.


Thanks for reading and I hope you find some things helpful :).  Let me know of any gadgets that I don’t have that you love.  I would love to know.  Love me some kitchen gadgets :).

Late Night :) Friend Friday–Risotto

Late night Friend Friday post–HOLLAH!  SOOOOOO my late night friend is the one and only –DANE BOREN :)!!!  I figured it would be fitting to highlight him first, since he is my hubs and my number one :).  AND it’s his b-day next week and he’ll be 39 years young. LOL.

Dane is a dentist, an amazing dad and grandpa to 3 grandsons (and 2 grand daughters coming soon 🙂 a wood worker, a drone enthusiast, a motorcyclist, a man of many hobbies and a perfectionist through and through.  He keeps life–lively :).  I hope you enjoy this recipe from Dane’s kitchen.


One of the many specialities that Dane makes is Risotto.  It is definitely a comfort food, kind of like homemade mac and cheese is for me–a definite splurge, but oh, so worth running that extra mile or 5 for :).


Peggy calls this comfort food and I would agree. It’s one of those foods that make you want “just one more bite”. We learned this recipe from Chef Jackie and Chef Shane at Harmons cooking “school”. It was obvious at first bite that this was going to be a keeper. Risotto takes 30-45 minutes to cook with constant stirring…but…it’s worth it. Somehow all the time consuming recipes full under my watch and for some reason I like it that way. Pay attention to the specifics of the ingredient list because it all matters.


Risotto rice is a low starch rice which makes it uniquely suited to this dish. We’ve tried different brands and all have been great. I believe you are supposed to thoroughly wash/rinse the rice, as you do when making Japanese style rice. However, I forgot to rinse the rice one time and I actually preferred the final texture to the washed versions. The unwashed version seemed to be less mushy and more “separate” than the washed versions. Which was counterintuitive to me.

You really can’t go wrong either way.

WarmBroth_initalRisottoStart by warming/heating the chicken broth so it will be ready. Put 1-11/2 tablespoons butter in a large flat pan (to each cup of risotto rice). Add a tablespoon or more olive oil to raise the burning point of the butter.

rischoppedshallotOnce the butter has melted add the finely chopped shallot and sauté until clear.

DryMixAdd risotto rice and constantly stir on medium to medium + heat, until the outer edge of the rice turns clear. This is a judgement call and can be difficult to judge sometimes (for me anyway) so it’s good to pay attention to the look at the rice from the beginning.

Wet_RisottoAdd about a cup (ladle full) of broth, a sprig of thyme, and stir continuously until all of the broth has been absorbed. Check this by scraping the pan with the spatula. If the “trough” made by the spatula stays dry and no liquid seeps through the edge of the “trough” it’s time for more broth. Add another ladle full of broth and repeat.

risveggiesaddedI sample the rice every so often and when you feel that the rice is about half way cooked add the asparagus and carrots and continue with the broth additions and absorption, one ladle at a time.

CreamWhen you feel like the rice is all but finished, lower the heat a bit and, add the cream and stir until incorporated, and a bit beyond.

cheeseAdd the Parmesiana Reggiano cheese and stir until fully melted and mixed together. Here you can add a little lemon and lemon zest as desired.

PlatedI hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do. As a side note we always cook extra and reheat it throughout the week. This seems to be one of those dishes that reheat very well.

Chicken Tikka Masala

One of our family’s favorite menu item to order when going to an Indian Restaurant is Chicken Tikka Masala.  I have tried numerous recipes to duplicate the robust taste of a good Tikka Masala recipe to no avail until today!!  This recipe is definitely a 5 star in our book and I’ll be making it many more times to come.

Chicken Tikka Masala


1 1Lbs. Organic Chicken Breast, chopped into bite size pieces


1 C. Plain Yogurt

2 T. Lemon Juice

2 tsp. Cumin

2 tsp. Red Pepper

2 tsp. Black Pepper

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Ground Ginger


1/4 C. Cilantro (for garnish)

1 T. Unsalted Butter

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Jalapeño, minced

2 tsp. Ground Coriander

1 heaping tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Paprika

1 heaping tsp. Garam Masala1

1⁄tsp. Salt

2 cans(15oz) Tomato Sauce

1-2 C. Heavy Whipping Cream (must be heavy)


For the Marinade:


Cut chicken in 1″ cubes.  I like cutting my chicken in half lengthwise and then cutting against the grain of the chicken.  Also, my chicken was partially frozen, which makes it easier to cut.


Combine the 1 C. yogurt, juice from 1 lemon (about 2 T), cinnamon, ground ginger, cumin, red pepper, salt and pepper in a zip lock bag and add chicken.  Let marinade in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or I let mine marinade for all day.


Remove chicken from marinade and discard leftover marinade.  Put marinated chicken on skewers and grill or if you’re in a pinch, you can do it in a pan on the stove, but grilling is the preferred method.


Cook until nice and brown.  Set aside.

For the Sauce:


Mince Jalapeño and garlic, also lightly chop some cilantro for the garnish


Sauté Jalapeño and garlic in pan on medium high for 2 min. or until fragrant.  Add coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt.  Now we need to bloom those spices, which means we need to cook them for a couple of minutes until they are fragrant, but be careful not to let them burn and stir, stir, stir. This is key to any Indian dish.


Stir in tomato sauce and cook until thickened–about 15 min


Remove cooled chicken of skewers and place in tomato sauce and add 2 C. milk.  Serve with jasmine rice and garnish with cilantro and don’t forget your veggies :).


TOMORROW I HAVE A SPECIAL SURPRISE GUEST ON THE BLOG for FRIEND FRIDAY.  Each Friday I’ll have a different guest sharing a recipe, a fitness tip, nutrition tidbits or other nuggets of info!  You won’t want to miss it!! 

Browned Butter Gnocchi with Fresh Herbs

I was introduced to Gnocchi in Portland and I have been a fan ever since!  AND IT’S MEATLESS MONDAY!!  Finally, a post that’s the day of the so-called theme LOL.  I had my Sous Chef daughter, Natalie, helping me on this one and she has some killer photo skills :).


Packaged Gnocchi

1 Cube of Butter

2 T. Olive Oil

1 clove Garlic, smashed and left whole

1/2 c. Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (high quality kind recommended)

Herbs:  Basil, Sage, Scallions or whatever you like.


I like this brand of Gnocchi because …. HELLO–IT’S MADE IN ITALY :).  I cooked the whole package according to the directions on the box.  It’s very fast to cook!brownbutterbasilWhile the gnocchi is cooking, I put a whole cube of salted butter along with a whole clove of garlic that is smashed (not cut up because I just wanted it to have a slight flavor of garlic and didn’t want it to overwhelm the dish) in a stainless-steel pan on medium high heat.  If you put it in a nonstick pan, you won’t be able to see the butter brown, and there will be a chance that you could burn it.  You can probably guess how I learned my lesson from this little tip :).  STIR CONSTANTLY AND BE ATTENTIVE because it can burn easily once it turns.  You’ll know when the butter is close to browning when the butter goes crazy, nuts bubbling and then all of the sudden it calms down and goes brown and has this delicious nutty taste.  Remove from heat and remove garlic clove.

Chop up FRESH herbs like sage, basil, scallions or whatever you like and put them in the browned butter.  It will sizzle a little because it’s still hot off the burner.


Add cooked and drained gnocchi to browned butter and gently stir then add the cheese.  I like steaming some broccoli and adding those to it as well to get our veggies in :).  Now gather that family around and enjoy.




7-Layer Dip


This weekend was an eventful and fun-filled one.  I was excited to make this 7-Layer Dip, which so many of us are familiar for a baby shower. All of the food that was served there was fabulous and I was happy to contribute, so I wanted to share this version of my 7-Layer Dip.

One of the things I like to do when making a recipe that everyone is familiar with, is to look up a few different versions of it and then add my own twist or sometimes I’ll just create my own recipe from those recipes.  Most of the time this is a good thing, but I have had some flops that I’ve learned from too :).  Yikes!  This one was a minor adjustment so I knew I would be okay, but I  did break the carnal rule — “Take a dish that’s tried and true and don’t try anything new” (note to self -again:).  This actually turned out great though and I’ll keep making it this way in the future.  Soooooo this is the dip scoop …….I have been loving a little kick to my food lately, so I decided to add fire-roasted green chiles to the sour cream/taco mix layer and it hit the spot.  I hope you enjoy it too.

7-Layer Dip

3 Med. Ripe Avocados, peeled, cored and mashed

2 T. Lemon Juice

1/2 tea. Salt

1/4 tea. Pepper

Mix together and set aside.

1/2 c. Mayonnaise

1 c. Sour Cream

1 Packet Taco Seasoning Mix

1/4 c. Fire-Roasted Green Chiles (I like LaVictoria brand)

Mix together and set aside.

2 (8oz cans) Bean Dip

2 medium Tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 bunch Green Onions including some of the green part, sliced

1 (8oz. package) Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Let’s put it together now:

Bottom Layer:  Bean Dip

2nd Layer:  Avocado Mixture

3rd Layer:  Sour Cream Mixture

4th Layer:  Olives

5th Layer:  Cheddar Cheese

6the Layer:  Onions

7th Layer:  Tomatoes

Chill a few hours before serving or I prefer to make it the night before.  Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Homemade Chile Sauce

This recipe is one adapted from my daughter’s recipe–shout out to Bri, who is a registered dietician and we will be hearing more from her in the near future :).  Once you have this meatless meal, my hope is that you will leave the table satisfied and not really miss it,  and this is coming from a human that LOVES MEAT!

Every time I make this, it takes me back to when my hubs and I completed the St. George Ironman in 2014 (check that off my bucket list), my other daughter, Natalie, had this made when we got home and that was after she and my son cheered their hearts out for us on the course.  After that hard day, it hit the spot!  Great memories :).


Okay, back to business………..

This recipe looks a little intimidating to make, but it really isn’t.  You could also prep some ingredients the night before, such as the sweet potatoes and green chile sauce and even the bean mix and just throw it all together.  Remember– a recipe is just a guide, so feel free to experiment and throw your own twist to it.  Let me know how it turns out.  I love hearing from you!

Makes 6 large enchiladas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients you will need:


2 c.  Sweet Potatoes, cooked, peeled and diced (I just halved mine and put it in the microwave on the “fresh vegetable” setting and it cooked it nearly perfect, but test it with a fork.  You don’t want it too mushy or too hard and then sprinkle some cumin and chili powder on sweet potatoes. Set aside.

1 Onion (half for bean mixture and half for the green chile sauce)

2 cloves Garlic (again, one for bean and one for chile)

*2 cans LaVictoria’s diced green chiles, fire roasted

2 cans black beans

Tortillas, large

(optional) Chicken Breasts, cooked

*3 c. Chicken Broth




Pepper Jack Cheese, grated

Cheddar Cheese (not shown), grated

Jalapeño Pepper (optional), seeded and chopped

*If you don’t want to make the homemade green chili sauce, omit these and the cornstarch from your ingredient list and just buy the LaVictoria 32 oz. can of green chile sauce at the store.  It does make it a bit more simple to make, but I love the homemade version best.



Cornstarch (not shown) Cumin, Chili Powder, Kosher Salt (if needed) I ended up not using it, but everyone’s salt buds are different :).


You can use this chicken if you prefer the meat option (quick method) or if you want to use your own uncooked chicken breasts, please refer to the part in my BBQ pizza post where I demonstrate how to cut and cook the chicken or use your own favorite method of cooking it.

Some tips to prep ingredients:

How to quickly dice an onion

Use half for the black beans and half for the green chile sauce.


How to peel garlic quickly

Before grating cheese, place in the freezer for about 15 min. and it will grate easier.

For the chile sauce:


Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent


Add 2 cans of green chiles and 1 teaspoon of cumin & 1/4 teaspoon chili powderIMG_5290

Add 3 c. chicken broth and bring to boilIMG_5293

Pour about 1/2 c chicken broth in a small bowl and add 2 T. cornstarch, mix well.  This will thicken the chile sauce.


Gradually add cornstarch mixture to boiling green chiles and boil until thickened and taste and season more with cumin if you like.  Set aside off heat.

For the black beans:


Sauté other half of onion, the minced garlic clove and minced jalapeño until onion is translucent then add 2 cans of drained, rinsed beans.

Add 1-2 tea. of cumin & 1/2-1 tea. chili powder and mix well.


Slightly mash beans with a potato masher, but not too much.

Now you’re ready to put these baby’s together!!



Spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and put a little of the chile sauce on the bottom.



Put the sweet potatoes, black beans, pepper jack cheese and a small scoop of chile sauce in tortilla.  If you’re making the chicken version add small amount of  cooked chicken breast, but I promise you won’t miss it if you don’t add it :).

Rolling technique:


Put enchilada in baking pan and repeat until all the sweet potatoes are gone.


Pour remaining green chile sauce on top and add more pepper jack cheese and a bit of cheddar.  Bake for 25-30 min.


AHHHHHH Delicious goodness!!

Let cool for about 5-10 min and ENJOY!!


Top with salsa, avocado, coarsely chopped cilantro, a lime wedge  and sour cream.

AND don’t forget your veggies:).closeupenchi



BBQ Chicken Pizza

This recipe is a great one to make after a long day at work, or at school or a crazy day home with the kiddos.  Here’s the skinny (or the carbs haha).

First thing is first–like your mama said, “WASH YOUR HANDS” 🙂 and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  

Here are the ingredients:

Motz cheese

Olive Oil

Boneless Chicken Breasts

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

Purple Onion

Pre-made Pizza Crusts 


*Harmon’s makes an excellent pizza dough you can buy at the store. Located by the deli counter.  Today I am using the pre-made crust to save time.


This pre-grilled chicken from Costco is a great option too if you’re in a big hurry, but I wanted to show you how I like to cook the chicken breasts.  It’s great to cook extra to have in the fridge for salads, panini sandwiches or just for a snack.


Slice chicken lengthwise with a sharp knife.  Dull knife = dangerous knife–yikes!


Slice chicken AGAINST the grain so it’s tender.  When you slice WITH the grain it is tougher to chew.  Good tip for any meat.


Sprinkle chicken with Kosher salt and pepper.  I like to rub it all over so it is even.

Sauté chicken in olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium high heat.


Cook chicken until no longer pink, but don’t cook too long or that will result in dry chicken, plus you’re going to cook it for another 10 min. in the oven.


Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate; pat dry with paper towel; add bbq sauce to chicken (just as much as you like).  Put some bbq sauce on the crust and a thin layer of cheese.  

*At this point, if using the Harmon’s unbaked dough, place dough on pizza stone, put a thin layer of olive oil and prick crust with a fork. Par bake the crust at 400 degrees for 7 -8 min and then put the BBQ sauce and the thin later of cheese then add remaining toppings. 


Place chicken with bbq sauce on top.


AND MORE CHEESE, BABY 🙂 and add sliced red onion for the last topping.  Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 min. (mine took 15 min).


OOOOOlala!!  The cheese is that beautiful color that I love on pizza and I’m ready to EAT!


Don’t forget your veggies!  I made a small iceberg wedge salad with homemade poppyseed dressing (recipe will follow) to complement this entrée.


It’s delish!!  Enjoy!


Poppyseed Dressing Recipe (credit to Pej and one of my most requested recipes :))

1/2 t. poppyseeds

3/4 t. salt

1/2 t. dried mustard

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. olive oil

3/4 t. grated red onion

Mix well in Vitamix on a low speed.  Don’t mix too long or it will go really thick.  Refrigerate.  Best made a few hours in advance so it has time to chill.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos


Slow cooker tacos???  And it’s not even Tuesday??  Haha.  I love the delicious goodness of a slow cooker meal, especially when it’s ready after I get home from working all day.  Hallelujah!!

This meal is one of my favs because it takes just about 10 min. to put together, and you don’t even have to thaw out the chicken breasts!  

Serves 4-6

Costco Flour Tortillas (the uncooked kind)

2 Chicken Breasts, frozen  (I like using 1 package organic chicken breasts from Costco) If not using frozen, cook less time so it won’t be dry

1 can Black Beans

1 small can of green chilies

3/4 bottle of the Costco Organic Salsa in the jar (can you tell I like Costco yet LOL)

Add Chili Powder & Cumin at the end of cooking (about a 1/2 t. – 1 t. of each to taste

Cook on low 6-8 hours, but don’t overcook because it turns out dry. Yuck!  

Cook tortillas and top those babies off with guacamole, sour cream, pico, cheddar cheese and whatever else you love on tacos.  Enjoy!

As I’ve mentioned in the previous post, a recipe is just a guideline so play with it and let me know what you come up with to spice things up (haha no pun intended).