Sunday, April 1, 2018

Cooking Corner: Cookbook Challenge Day 1

Hi everyone!  I'm starting April with a little challenge for myself.  You are all welcome to join if you choose.  I have a rather large collection of recipes that I've never tried and since I started to declutter my life of things I don't need, this is one area that needs help.
What do I need so many cookbooks and binders of recipes for?
I don't know - it just takes up space and it's another thing for me to clean.  So, I decided that if I can't find good recipes that we love, there is no point in keeping the book or recipe.  I attempted this challenge a few years ago but never followed through.  This time, I intend to stick with it.

Here's my challenge:

Pick a book a month and try some recipes.

Decide what we like and what we don't.

If I have at least 15 recipes that we like, the book stays.  If not, I'll just copy the few recipes we liked and get rid of the book.

Not sure what I'll do with the book yet.  I'll figure it out at the end of this challenge.

The first book I'm trying is


The recipe I chose was Mom's Reconstructed Chili.

Now, you'll have to buy the book to get the entire recipe, but here is a glimpse of the recipe I chose.
The only change I made was that the recipe called for ground soy burger alternative, but none of us like soy.  I used lean ground turkey instead.

Chopped up the onion & garlic and cooked for 3-4 minutes

weighed out my meat

added it to the pan, seasoned it and browned it for a few minutes before adding all the other ingredients

Then it was time to boil and then simmer.

This cooked for over an hour and I was very happy with the finished product.

You can eat it with crackers, but since I'm on a healthy meal plan and looking to lose weight, I eat the turkey chili alone.  Hubby tried it too and loved it.

This is definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Travel Tuesday~Florida Trip Planning: St. Augustine

I've spent the last few days reading about St. Augustine.  There are so many things to do and there is so much history here!  So much more than Key West!  I went to several websites for information and boy, did I find information.  I had to really narrow it down to some of the places that would grab my attention.

Here is a quick list of the places that interested me:

  • Fountain of Youth
  • Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
  • Castillo de San Marcos
  • The Colonial Quarter
  • Old Florida Museum
  • St. Augustine Lighthouse

I also found this travel guide: One Day in St Augustine on TripAdvisor written by EnriqueA.

This guide was great!  It starts off with their recommendation for breakfast at Les Petits Pleasures which does sound good!  I love pastries-so pastries for breakfast sounds like something I can't pass up!
He then recommends you stop at the visitor center - I didn't even know there was one!  This definitely sounds like a good idea because here you will find information on everything in St. Augustine. Plus you can purchase tickets for any events.  I may add this to the start of my day!

Another 2 places he recommends were not on my original list - I didn't even know they existed!  Potter's Wax Museum & St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum - both sound like fun and will have to be added to my list!
The next recommendation is Castillo de San Marcos which was already on my list.  I am really excited about seeing this place - I love history and seeing old architecture so this I will not miss.

The next 2 recommendations didn't really interest me much, but the one right after these two did catch my eye.  This place is the Ximenez-Fatio House and again, it's a historical home which is something I love seeing.  Something about actually being in a place that people lived in many years ago is amazing to me.  I love being able to be inside these homes or castillos, it's awesome so this I may not pass up.

 Next on his list is the Lightner Museum.  The architecture and the grounds look gorgeous so I may have to stop here too!  The last 3 suggestions are a walk on St. George Street for some shopping, a stop at the St. Augustine Distillery which is a bit appealing to me but my daughter may be bored out of her mind here, and finally dinner at the Ice Plant.  This I may skip - I'm sure when it comes to food we'll find something we will all like.

Overall this was a great guide - very informative with lots of tips and it helped me find new places to see.  There are other sites that give information but this can be overwhelming.

I may still look over some of the other sites, but I think there is enough on my list for a week, never mind a day.  Now I'm thinking we should plan 3 or more days in St. Augustine.  Not sure if going during this trip is a good idea because there is so much more I want to see here.

Have any of you traveled to St. Augustine recently?
What are your favorite things to do in St. Augustine with kids?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cooking Corner: My Chicken Enchiladas

Let me start by saying, I'm no great cook!  I started learning how to cook with very basic recipes after I married my hubby.  I never really cooked much since my mother-in-law always cooked for us, so I didn't have to learn to do much.  Even though I didn't cook much, I did start buying cookbooks and kinda started dabbling with cooking.  Some recipes stuck with me, others I still have to dig out the recipes.

This one was so good & simple, that even though I only make it once in a while, I never need to look at the recipe.  It is so, so simple and I've made it even easier by buying a rotisserie chicken. 

Here is what you need:
1 Rotisserie Chicken
1-2 jars of salsa (to your taste & your level of heat- I do mild or medium) 
Shredded Mexican Cheese
Tortillas - Burritto size
Preheat oven at 350 degrees

I start by cutting up a rotisserie chicken.

Add the chicken & salsa(to your liking) in a skillet

Add cheese - again to your liking, I add a lot because I LOVE Cheese!

While the cheese is melting I prepare the baking pan for the oven. 
Start by spreading salsa at the bottom of the pan

Once everything is melted I start building the enchiladas.
Add a good portion to the tortilla....

and start folding.

Put it in the oven until the cheese is melted.

Serve hot & Enjoy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Kitchen/Pantry Organization

Hi All!!  So one of the struggles we all go through is organization.  If you don't - God Bless You & please give me your secret :)  I for one am a mess!  It gets to a point where nothing fits, I don't have room for anything and I get frustrated trying to find a place for all my stuff.  So, that's when I finally decide to take a day and take everything out - throw away what I don't need or use and figure out where everything needs to be.  Then, decide if I need to buy anything to help with the organization-which I try to avoid in an effort to not spend money. 

This month, part of my coach's Beachbody Challenge Group is tidying up.  She recommended we read or listen to Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul.  So I am listening on Audible and it has inspired me to organize.   I decided to start with my kitchen being that this has been my biggest struggle.  I have a small kitchen, not many cabinets and I want to keep things off the counter so everything looks nice & neat. 

Let's start with the closet that I want to use a pantry.  Absolutely no organization in here what so ever

Now to empty out the cabinets

Someone keeps getting in my way :/  He's no help

After emptying out the closet and cabinets, I realized that we needed some kind of shelving for the closet to convert it into a pantry.  We took a ride to Sams Club, Target, Walmart and Home Depot where we finally found something.  After several hours of work, I finally finished.
Our closet now looks like this:

It still needs work, its not how I want it to look but for now it will do.  I want to get some bins and group things better, but being that I do lack this organizational skill, I will have to really think about this and look at other people's blogs & videos on You Tube.

My kitchen is also looking better:

These carts used to have all the cookie and cereal boxes, now it looks much better! Don't ya think?

This is my command center/cookbook shelf.  This stayed the same, didn't really change anything here.

And my favorite part of my kitchen - my coffee bar!  I've been trying to keep up with decorating it for every season & I'm loving every minute of it.

So my kitchen is set up the way I like it and I'm happy with it for now!  

Next project is my bedroom & closets!

How do you organize?
Any ideas & tips to share?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Travel Tuesday ~ Florida Trip planning-Key West

So with our Florida trip approaching, there are 2 cities that I'm looking into visiting.  We have not visited either one as a family and the last time I visited both I was a child.  So needless to say, that I do need to research and discover things to do.  I'm starting with Key West.

The main attraction to Key West for me is the 90 miles to Cuba marker (the Southernmost Point marker) that everyone visits and the beaches, but I know there is a lot more to Key West.  In searching for information on Key West, I just discovered that it is known as the "Winter White House" due to its appeal to U.S. presidents - I didn't know this!!  Key West has also been home to Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams - 2 literary greats-interesting.  I love visiting places with so much history - its one of the reasons I love & recommend Newport, RI so much!  So, now to find things to do.

I came across this travel guide on Trip Advisor, and it is for a 1-day trip - which right now it looks like that is all we will spend there.  It was called, One Day in Key West by Tanya A

Here she listed 8 places to visit in one day and even mapped it out.

So, she recommended eating at Blue Heaven - known for its great Key Lime pies, The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, US 1 Mile marker 0, The Southernmost Point (which was already on my list), Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Sloppy Joe's restaurant, Mallory Square and Duval Street.  She offers her take on each place and provides tips on each destination.  The information is very useful.  From everything I read, I will be looking to visit:

    1. The Southernmost Point - although surprised to learn that there may be a long line for a picture, oh well - I'll try to make it there early!
    2. Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum - What can I say-I love this stuff & hubby and kids may have their objections but it's my vacation too!  Besides, I'm curious to see the six-toed cats
    3. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park - I'm here for the beach after all & we can visit the 1845 fort!!
    4. Mallory Square - This I will attempt since it will involve just sitting around to wait for the sunset.  Maybe the family will enjoy something to eat and the local performers while we wait.
    5. Duval Street - I will enjoy stopping in all of the stores, even though I really shouldn't be buying anything...LOL
I saved some of these on my TripAdvisor account - this guide was very helpful.  Next, I found The Visit Florida, Key West site.  This site had everything about Key West, which I'm sure Trip Advisor has as well but I didn't keep looking.  Here I discovered there is a Ripleys Believe It or Not Museum, and an Aquarium.  I will be adding both to my list since my kids would love both!  There are several other museums that I want to look into - if I have time I may squeeze them in.  There are also fishing charters that I may look into since hubby & baby girl are dying to go fishing!  

There is plenty to do and now I'm thinking we should make it a 2-3 day trip.  Hmmmm....lots to think about.  There are a few other places I will be looking at to add to my Key West Trip and next week I'll be researching St. Augustine.

Have any of you been to Key West?
Do you have suggestions for our family trip?

Cooking Corner: Cookbook Challenge Day 1

Hi everyone!  I'm starting April with a little challenge for myself.  You are all welcome to join if you choose.  I have a rather large...