January 22, 2015

Recipe: Stuffed Banana Peppers

My apologies! I posted a picture of these banana peppers on my Instagram account and I never got around to actually posting the recipe...

My husband and I have been doing a lot of our grocery shopping at H-Mart an Asian grocery store close to our house. Their selection of produce and meats really can't be beat for the price. I bought a pack of 6 banana peppers for less than $2!

I have been off and on on the low carb diet, mostly off, but I am back at it. Today is my fourth day back on the low carb diet. This recipe is low carb and would be great for Superbowl parties.


Stuffed Banana Peppers
6 medium sized banana peppers
1 package regular cream cheese (softened)
1/2 roll ground sausage (browned)
pinch of garlic salt (more or less depending on your preference)
pinch of onion powder (more or less depending on your preference)

1. Using disposable gloves, cut the top off of the banana peppers then cut a slit from the top of the pepper about 3/4 way down the pepper. Remove the seeds. Remove your gloves carefully and set aside for use later.
2. Mix the softened cream cheese, sausage, garlic salt, and onion powder together in a mixing bowl.
3. Turn your oven on to broil.
4. Put your disposable gloves back on. Stuff the banana peppers with the mixture using a spoon, plastic baggie with the end snipped off, pastry filling bag, whatever works for you. I used a plastic baggie.
5. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and rub the peppers with a little bit of olive oil.
6. Place the peppers under the broiler and cook until the skins of the peppers blister and the cream cheese starts to ooze.

*If you don't have disposable gloves to use in the kitchen, make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands with plenty of soap and water after handling the peppers or else you will feel the burn!
Cooper got his own banana pepper!



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January 9, 2015

Craving Now: Varsity Frozen Orange

I totally blame my husband for this one. My husband lived in/around Atlanta for many years. We've visited a few times and on our last trip, he just had to go and introduce me to this delicious frozen concoction which can only be found in Georgia! Over the weekend, I actually begged him to buy me a ticket to fly down there just to get a Varsity Frozen Orange.

The Varsity was established in 1928 and is the world's largest drive in. It is an Atlanta institution and a tourist attraction. The best way that I can describe the Frozen Orange is that it is a mix between a milkshake and a slushie.

I actually went so far as to Google recipes for the Frozen Orange. I came across a few and decided on this one. People who commented said that it tasted like a Varsity Frozen Orange. I was sold.

1 cup(s) ice cube(s)  
1 cup(s) sherbet, orange variety  
1 cup(s) fat free vanilla frozen yogurt  
1 cup(s) fat free milk  
2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate  

Crush the ice cubes in a blender (or place them in a zip-close freezer bag, crush them with the back of heavy skillet, and place in the blender). Add the sherbet, yogurt, milk, and orange juice concentrate; puree until smooth. Yields 1 cup per serving.

I bought all of the ingredients at the grocery store, well kind of. The grocery store I went to (small independent local store) only had orange sherbet mixed with vanilla ice cream so I bought that and I didn't want to buy a thing of milk for only a cup (my husband and I are not milk drinkers) so I used heavy cream that I already had at home. I definitely didn't use a whole cup of heavy cream, just a few splashes so I didn't add as much ice as the recipe called for. My craving was satisfied as it tasted just like The Varsity Frozen Orange!

Do you think we crave more the things that we can't readily obtain? Like I get cravings for a cheesesteak from Jim's on South Street in Philly and California Roll Poke from Maui.

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December 15, 2014

Cute, Cheap, & Easy Holiday Gift

Last year I had come across this idea for Dip Mix Ornaments on Pinterest and knew that this is what I wanted to do for gifts for my coworkers. It is so cute, cheap, and easy!  You are really going to be blown away when I break down the cost of this whole project.

What I did was buy Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing & Seasoning Mix from Costco. I didn't want to just dump ranch mix into the ornaments so I added a little dried dill weed, chopped dried onions, and dried parsley. All of which I already had in my pantry. How Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee of me?

I'll be honest with you I didn't measure how much of the additional spices I added. I was torn between filling them all the way or not. If I had decided to fill them, I would have had to buy a lot more mix. I ended up only using about 1 1/2 containers of the ranch mix.

I bought these cute gift tags at the craft store and used some washi tape to jazz them up. I wrote the recipe for making both ranch dressing and dip mix on the back. Each ornament has approximately 6 tbsp of mix. To make 16 oz of dip or 16 oz of dressing only 3 tbsp of the mix is needed.


Approximate price breakdown of this project:
13 ornaments $0.44/each (I got these on clearance after Christmas last year at Walmart) = $5.72
2 containers of ranch mix $7.99 (from my local Costco) = $15.98
Additional spices = $0
Craft supplies (white gel marker, gift tags, washi tape, and string all 20% off with coupon at Michaels) = $10

Total $31.70 or $2.44 a person!

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December 12, 2014

I Heart Breakfast Casseroles

I really love breakfast casseroles because you can make them ahead of time and just pop it in the oven. They also reheat well and are delicious as leftovers. For the past few years I've made a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning. While the casserole bakes in the oven you are free to open up gifts.

In the past, the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Casserole was my go to recipe. I have been substituting the bread with the low carb bread we like. The best low carb bread I've had is Sammi's Bakery Low Carb 7 Grain Fiber, it doesn't have to be thawed, has the same texture of regular bread, and tastes really good. The worst low carb bread that I've had is Julian Bakery Coconut Paleo Bread, yuck. I digress.

I found a couple of new breakfast casseroles and adapted them a little bit because I can never just follow a recipe which drives my husband crazy. The first recipe below is the one I made over the weekend to test out on my husband and it was a winner (not low carb though). I made the second recipe for a pot luck breakfast at work today. It was good, but not as good as the other.

Cheesy Biscuit Breakfast Casserole (1/2 Recipe)
4 refrigerated buttermilk biscuits, quartered
1/2 roll breakfast sausage

1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup baby spinach, cooked
4 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz (1/2 block) Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder

1. Grease an 8in square baking dish.
2. Place the quartered biscuits in the bottom of the dish.
3. Brown the sausage then sprinkle over the biscuits. Using the grease from the sausage, saute the spinach and onions until the onions are slightly caramelized. Once cooked, spoon over the biscuits/sausage.
4. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, cream, garlic powder, and mustard powder then pour into the baking dish.
5. Sprinkle the cubed Velveeta over the top then bake for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees F.




Zesty Breakfast Casserole
10 eggs
1 pkg shredded cheddar cheese
6 hash brown patties
1 roll breakfast sausage
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup RO-TEL

1. Cook the hash browns as directed then place them in a single layer in the bottom of a 9x11 baking dish.
2. While the hash browns are crisping, brown the sausage then set aside.
3. In a large bowl mix together eggs, sour cream, and RO-TEL. Add in cooked sausage and the cheese.
4. Pour the mixture over the hash browns and bake for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees F.

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November 18, 2014

The Foundry Christmas Store

I try to give back all throughout the year, but I try to give a little extra especially around the holidays. Last year, I blogged about the Helping Up Mission which is something I first became interested in when I was in grad school.

This year, through a coworker of mine I will be helping The Foundry's Christmas Store. My coworker's church will be donating to their Christmas Store event and asked others in the department if we were interested in contributing too. This is the first I've heard of The Foundry, per their website:

"The Foundry is a church in Baltimore City.  We exist to see lives, neighborhoods, and the city transformed by the hope of Jesus and we are committed to making Baltimore an even greater place to live, work, and play. The Foundry is a community of people, coming together to pour ourselves out for our city.

We believe that church is not something to go to – it is something we are. We are modeled after the way Jesus lived – we want to serve people without reserve and without judgment, we want to love each other the way Jesus loved his friends and followers, and we want to help people experience God.

There are no secret handshakes, and no perfect people are allowed. If you are interested in God but not so sure about church, we invite you to check out the Foundry. We strive to create a safe environment where we can explore hard questions about God and faith, connect with one another, and act by serving the city together.

We meet on Sundays at 9:30 & 11 am at Tabrizi's"

It doesn't seem like The Foundry is the place to go to if you are seeking the traditional church or service, but the message is still the same- "to serve the people without reserve and without judgement" and I like that.

In the past I've participated in both Adopt-A-Family and Salvation Army Angel Tree. With those, you bought a gift that you thought the family/kids would like and wrapped it. I have no doubt in my mind that those families were grateful for the generosity of others, but I wondered, what if they didn't like what someone had bought them? Do the parents feel as if they couldn't provide for their children?

Much like them, The Foundry's Christmas Store is different than the other programs. The Christmas Store will be open weekends in December for people in particular parents to come to and shop for Christmas gifts for their families at a deep, deep discount. The items in the store are all donated and brand new. The Christmas Store allows them to actually do the shopping, buying, and picking out the gifts. I really think that this is an awesome thing.

I've bought a bunch of toys for the store, but if this seems like something you want to participate in here's how:

  • Donate new toys to The Foundry between now and December 7th. Toys, books, and games should be brand new and can be dropped off at he Foundry’s services on Sunday or at The Foundry office during the week.
  • Volunteer to work in The Christmas Store.
  • Refer Families to The Christmas Store

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