Friday, August 5, 2011

Mango Sorbet

So tomorrow I'm going to finally try to make mango gelato. This sorbet is good, but it's just not quite cutting this hankerin' of mine for gelato.
I have a small case of mangoes that have ripened, which gives me room for a second try, if I need one.

The best part about the sorbet is that it's a way healthier choice than the gelato. The sorbet is virtually fat and cholesterol free, and contains very little added sugar. In fact, my mangoes were already so sweet I didn't really need to add the sugar that I did.

The gelato, on the other hand, has both fat & cholesterol (from the egg yolks & heavy cream) and quite a bit more sugar added. BUT, that is probably why I like it better! Why do so many of my favorites have to be so bad for me!? Gah!

So I am going to make it, enjoy it for a day, and give away any leftovers!
That is, of coarse, if there is any leftovers!

Here's the recipe for the way less naughty sorbet:

Mango Sorbet

4 mangoes, peeled & seeded
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup simple syrup (or more or less, to taste)
To make the simple syrup, boil 2 cups of water with 2 cups of sugar. Let syrup cool before using it. Store any leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Puree the mangoes, and if you prefer, push them through a strainer to get rid of any stringy pulp. (I didn't do this, and it was just fine.)
Combine the pureed mango, lime juice and as much simple syrup as you like, depending on the sweetness you desire.
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
Store in a freezer-safe container, and let freeze for an hour or two before serving.

Stay tuned for the "naughtier" gelato recipe. If it turns out good I'll be sharing it as well!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mini Vacation

The family and I took a little vacation a few weeks ago. Our original plans of cruising the California coast, blew up in a cloud of smoke alongside the air-conditioning motor in our van. Not knowing how much it was going to cost to fix, or how long it would take to get it fixed (and it still isn't fixed...), we decided that sticking close to home was probably the best idea for this years family vacation.
So we crammed ourselves into our little Mitsubishi, who, although cramped as she is, has a beautifully working air conditioning system, and headed from the sweltering 110 degree heat of our hometown, to the blistering 115 degree heat of Las Vegas.

It certainly wasn't the best time of year for walking the strip, so we were sure to get some massive pool time in, and we ate as many cold treats as we could find.

Whenever we go away on vacation, I always try to bring back something new. Some new piece of information, be it a lesson on the history of a new place we visited, or seeing or tasting something for the first time. I wasn't sure this could be done while being in a place I thought I already knew so well. But I did learn quite a few things along the way.

I learned some interesting history on the Titanic via the exhibit at the Luxor. We were able to view actual artifacts and even a piece of the ship itself, as well as learn the story behind the building of Titanic, and what happened on that tragic night when 1,517 people lost their lives to the sea. Seeing the names of both the deceased and the survivors really hit me harder than I thought it would. I was choking back tears by the end of the tour, and feeling much closer to the story than I ever felt from the articles I've read and the movies I've seen on the subject.
It was a truly humbling experience.

I also learned that beautiful things can grow in the desert in the dead of July. (Or is it the $$$ in gardeners and water?)

I learned that Cesar's Palace & The Bellagio have some wonderful gelato vendors! Here's the girls before we headed over to CP to get some.

I've been thinking about it ever since and have been trying to satisfy my craving with a homemade mango sorbet. The sorbet is good, but not near as good as the gelato! I'll be posting the sorbet recipe soon.

I learned (the hard way) to inquire about prices if you don't see a sign indicating one. The "fill your bag" option at M&M world ended up costing us a little over $70! They were $12.99 per pound! YIKES! My poor husband about had a heart attack!

And I learned from my children that it doesn't really matter where they spend their vacation. As long as we are together, and they have a comfy place to sleep-

and a big pool to swim in-

any place away will surely suffice!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cookin' Up a Storm

*click on pictures to enlarge*

Since my Mr. has been home for the summer I've really gotten to enjoy our time together in the kitchen. I love having a partner who gets (almost) as excited about food as I do, and who is always willing to try new things.
We work pretty well together in the kitchen, alternating between Head Chef and Sous.

Last week we got an Asian pack with our co-op basket. This is what we made with it:

Egg foo young is my Mr.'s favorite Chinese dish. He's been wanting to try to make it for some time. I can't find the recipe he used, but it was absolutely delish!

We made crab Rangoon twice because they're just that good! We just use a mixture of cream cheese, imitation crab, green onions, soy sauce and a dash of garlic powder and seal them up into little square won tons before frying.
The Shrimp Fritters recipe came from here, and although I wished I would have made a sauce to go with them, they were still really good on their own.
The Chicken with Bok Choy was just stir-fried together with some mushrooms and a bottle of teriyaki sauce.

A few weeks ago I made some homemade sauce from the abundance of grape tomatoes in our garden.

The sauce sat in our fridge for a week and needed to be used, so I threw together this tortellini one day for the kids. There was only a small serving left when they were through!

I have a bunch more tomatoes that need to be used, so I believe I will be making this again!

This was so rich but really, really good! The Mr. has a new found love for stinky cheeses. He's made several batches of homemade blue cheese dressing, and this is just one of a couple feta recipes he's tried. I'm so proud! (sheds tear)

I'm not sure what this sauce is. But it is by far the best stuff I've tasted in a long while. It has green tomatoes and avocado. That's all I know. If the Mr. decides to share his "secret recipe" with me, then I'll let you know ; )

We've been wanting to try these for some time. I can't believe how "meaty" and filling these are! And the pesto mayo sauce complimented them nicely! I got the recipe from here.

Alright, I saved the best discovery for last! For those of you who can't eat dairy, or are trying to cut down on your sugars, this recipe if for you! It is super easy and delicious with or with out the additions to it. This is Banana "Ice cream", except, it's not ice cream at all! It's just frozen bananas! I got the idea from here. We made the version from the recipe which called for nutella. It was our favorite. But we also made plain banana and a batch where we added strawberries, which were wonderful too! Who knew that bananas could get creamy like ice cream?!

What about you? Have you discovered any new recipes this summer? What's in season where you live? Did you know this secret banana trick already? Or have I been under a rock all my life?!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby headbands

*click on photo to enlarge*

Threw together this quickie headband for my niece the other day. I decided to take some last minute photos and needed something to match her little pettiskirt.

I gathered up some dyed guinea feathers and made a quick rosette out of some scrap yellow gingham, then glued on a big pearl bead I had in my tin of odds and ends.

Pretty cute huh?

Or were you able to see past those pretty blue eyes long enough to notice?!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekend Food Faves

Happy 4th of July!

We don't have any real big or concrete plans for the 4th. But we did do a little BBQ with some friends today! And being a three-dayer, we've had the chance to make some pretty yummy dishes.
Here's our faves so far:

This was so dang good! The Mr. made this using two different recipes. This one for the blue cheese dressing, and this one for the chicken. We had lots of lettuce that needed to be used, so he made a salad out them!

The Mac & Cheese in this meal was the favorite. It's another PW recipe. I highly recommend it!

We've been getting an over-abundance of grape tomatoes from our garden.

So of coarse we had to make a bunch of this-

I know apple pie is supposed to be the all American dessert, but isn't carrot cake a close second?

This recipe has been a favorite for several years now. If you haven't discovered it, you should definitely try it out. I always get good feedback when I take them to potlucks! The only thing different, is I used up the last of some vanilla bean frosting I made a couple weeks ago. The cream cheese based frosting can last a little while, but this stuff was so delicious from all that vanilla bean caviar, I didn't want to chance it going to waste!

Tell me, what do you have cookin' this Holiday weekend? Are you firing up the grill? Or are you cooking inside in an attempt to beat the heat?!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby "M"

*All photos belong to Rey of Light Photography
Please do not copy*

*click on photos to enlarge*

I had the pleasure of photographing this gorgeous little one in celebration of her first Birthday.

She was one of the happiest babies I've ever met. Thanks to her momma for asking me to do these, they were so much fun to do!

These are just a few of my favorites from the day.

Monday, June 27, 2011


If anything, this is a good place to test out some stuff!
Thanks guys, for putting up with me!

Is the new name silly? I need opinions!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Story Board & Website Suggestions

I was just playing around with some story boards.
I've been website shopping for something to display my photos better than here. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a crisp, clear image while in Photoshop, only to upload it here and have it lose it's appeal. I am open to suggestions if anyone has one...please...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Garden

After three years of gardening, and through MANY trials and errors, I think we've finally gotten this gardening thing down a bit.
Now don't let me fool you, it's nothing that impressive. Just some shabby homemade boxes and lots of pots and buckets with thriving plants in them. But we've managed to not only keep things alive, but actually harvest some pretty good stuff!
I do say "we", because although this was "another one of moms projects" the kids and hubby have been instrumental in the success of this years garden. If I ever forget to water or don't have time to harvest or weed, they're on it before I even have to ask!
It's been a great family project. And everyone gets so excited when we get to eat something we are responsible for producing ourselves!

Here's what we've got going on now.

Crook neck squash. I kill squash, and melons. Or practically anything on any sort of a vine. So we are super excited that we've managed to get a handful of these little guys this year!
And they are soooo delish!

Onions. Three varieties actually. We've had yellow, white & purple. These, aside from the tomatoes, have been our most successful crop this year. I actually gave a couple bagfuls away to some family because we harvested that much in a week!

We had more success with these year before last. I skipped growing these last year, and this year it seems my plants are far bigger than the broccoli heads themselves. But what little bit we've gotten has tasted just fine.

Bell peppers. We have a couple bell pepper plants that are doing well. We've only gotten a few peppers so far, and only two have been edible because I let them go too long and the withered up under the hot sun. We also have several jalapeno and serrano plants. They took over an entire garden bed last year and I still have peppers in my freezer that the hubby roasted for future use. But they don't seem to be doing very well this year. I chalk it up to putting them in a more shallow bed this time. I don't think they've been given enough space for their massive roots. Like I said "trail & error", I've made a note in my garden journal to change it up next year.

Here we have what were supposed to be Romas. Every year when I buy my tomatoes from the local hardware store I carefully select my varieties but I never end up with what I thought I was getting! The plants are always hearty and do extremely well, but they are always marked wrong!
In this case, these Romas ended up being grape tomatoes. Either that, or I have dwarf Romas!

There was one "early girl" plant in the carton of "Romas". So at least we got one full size tomato variety!

Like I said, they are great starters. Quite hearty and they produce really well. I was just looking forward to canning some tomatoes!

Potatoes. I have both a regular potato plant and a sweet potato plant that resurfaced this year. We tried growing them last year but ended up pulling them out when they didn't produce. We apparently missed a couple of roots, because up popped these plants out of nowhere!

Our herb garden has been great this year too! I've had plenty of fresh herbs to use in our dinners and I've even dried out some for next winter.
We've had sage, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, lavender, dill, chives, and mint! (Sorry, I've got no photos right now, and I'm too lazy to go take some at this moment...)

Now for the most exciting part- drum roll please......

We finally grew a watermelon! This little guy is our first harvest! They are a smaller variety and we waited just a bit too long to pick him hoping he would get bigger, so he wasn't quite as sweet as he should have been. But the kids devoured it just the same!

Isn't it so pretty!

And there you have it. Our summer garden!

Tell me, what are you growing this season? What are your most successful crops? Or if you don't have a garden, what fruit or veggie to you most look forward to in the summer?

Thanks for stopping by!

Mmmm Food

One of the best things about summer is the fact that my hubby is home! He is a school teacher, so he gets to spend the summers at home, being the best house husband ever!
He is really good about doing the prep work for the recipes I want to try, so when I walk in the door from work, I can throw on the apron and still have time afterwards to relax and enjoy my evening.
He's also getting pretty darn good with the barbecue!

Here are some summer recipes we have enjoyed so far.

Jerk Shrimp
Super spicy but everyone loved it! Just make sure you have a salad to go along with it to help cool it off!

Grilled Corn on the Cobb
The kids love corn on the cobb, and we've always wanted to try grilling it. Grilling really does give it a nice flavor.

Perfect Pot Roast
The temperature finally hit 100 degrees here this week. With that being said, I will be making this recipe via crock pot, even though I love making it in my dutch oven.

My man's favorite salad.
I got the onion strings recipe here. This is a salad my husband will actually eat. It may be due to the fact that it has fried onions, avocado, bacon, grilled chicken and homemade ranch dressing. Ya know, all the things that make a salad not healthy anymore! But it is so very yummy!

Marlboro Man Sandwich
Wow! Super yummy! But so very filling! A half was too much! My Mr. quite enjoyed this hearty sandwich!

Breakfast! (homemade hash browns, homegrown sausage & bacon, fresh eggs and whole grain toast)

One of the cool things about summer- no rules! Well, at least when it comes to whats for dinner. Which means we can enjoy breakfast for dinner and feel just fine about it!

Cream cheese sopapilla & homemade vanilla bean ice cream
This thing is sinful. Seriously, if you care at all about your waistline or your cholesterol, don't make this. I found this sopapilla recipe over a year ago, but I've only made it a few times. Its extremely rich. The ice cream is just as rich too, but they somehow were made for each other. I actually do care about the health of my family, at least enough to know I shouldn't make this too often!

Don't worry, we've also been enjoying lots of fresh fruits and veggies from our garden. It is hopefully balancing out all the naughty things we've been eating!
I will share a garden post soon!

What are your favorite summer treats or recipes? Is there something new you've tried and really enjoyed? Is there an old favorite that you just have to have every summer?Or are you, unlike us, being extra good so you rock that bathing suit?