Grilled Fajitas

Skip the restaurant and fire up the grill!  These fajitas are simple, full of color and so yummy! The meat is marinated, grilled, and so flavorful. The red, yellow, orange, green and purple from the peppers, and onion are pleasing to the eye and create a gorgeous spread.  These are the perfect choice for an outdoor, summer party.  Invite some friends over and serve these up with beans, rice, chips, Fresh Salsa, guacamole, summer fruit and limeade to create an unforgettable, delicious meal. Fajitas at home used to mean opening a packet of fajita seasoning mix and adding meat and veg to simmer.  Let me share with you how to make restaurant quality fajitas without simmering in water, which just toughens the meat, makes the peppers soggy and is just plain wrong!

First we’ll prep the vegetables and marinade the meat. I used chicken here, but steak and shrimp are also incredible with this recipe!


Most people are used to slicing peppers and onions into strips, but as you can imagine, this would make it impossible to grill them. Instead, slice the purple onions crosswise into 1/2″ rings and quarter the peppers, removing seeds.  Set aside.

Next, mix the marinade.  This is made up of canola oil, fresh lime juice, good quality worcestershire sauce, spices, cilantro, jalapeno and spices.  Whisk the ingredients together and reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for later.  The rest is poured over the meat.

If using chicken breasts, slice them lengthwise for more even flavoring and grilling.  Place your chicken, shrimp or steak in a gallon size, zip-top bag and add marinade.  Allow to marinade from 3 to 24 hours, in the refrigerator.


Preheat gas grill to medium high or heat charcoal until turning grey and ashy.  I like both types of grills.  A gas grill is quick to turn on,  easy to use, and easy to control the temperature. I bought this grill for my husband for Father’s Day and we’ve been so happy with it.  It is sturdy, way easy to get started and it does a good job of temperature control whether low or high.  A charcoal grill imparts such yummy flavor, can have wood chips added for smoking and can be used for indirect cooking.  A charcoal grill can take some practice to feel comfortable with. This is the charcoal Weber grill we’ve had for years and it is still as good as new!  It has no rust spots or dents, it is well made and super sturdy.  TIP: If using a charcoal grill, after spreading out the coals, replacing the grate and placing food on the grill, DO NOT COVER! This smothers the charcoal and you will quickly lose the heat.  

On the left, you can see I like to use a chimney starter for my coals.  Just place the charcoal in to fill, and place some wadded up newspaper underneath to light.  Strike a match and place through the holes at the bottom, lighting the paper on fire.  TIP: I use match-light charcoal. That means they will light with just a match and require no lighter fluid. This is just my preference, but it is so much easier than needing to buy lighter fluid also, and they light up so quickly.  Now the coals are ready, spread out, and the grate has been placed on top, time to get grillin’!


Lay the marinated meat and vegetables on to the grill.


Turn when the chicken starts to brown on the edges and the vegetables start to char and blister. The onions can separate and fall through the slats if you don’t flip them carefully. I have found it best to use a long, metal spatula to turn them. Don’t worry about the peppers getting black, char spots; this is a good thing.  They will be soft and deliciously roasted.  Cook the chicken until the inside temperature is at 160 degrees, tent with foil and allow to rest. In my opinion, one of the most important kitchen tools to have is a digital meat thermometer. No more guessing if your food is done, worrying about salmonella, or being disappointed with dry, tough meat.  I use mine every day. There are two types I recommend. The first is an instant read thermometer. This gives a precise temperature reading in seconds and I love that it folds up for storage.  The second type is an oven and grill safe thermometer. The probe can be left in the meat while it cooks and the base is magnetic, so it can be stuck to your oven or fridge for convenience in reading. It also has a temperature alert, and timer.  This is the one I use and I have purchased it for gifts as well.  The chicken will continue to cook (carry-over cooking) and will reach 165 degrees after 5-10 minutes.


How beautiful are those veggies?!  I love the way these fajitas look, they really are show-stoppers! This is the point when you slice the peppers into strips and cut the onions slices once down the middle.  Then, toss the sliced peppers and onions with the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade.  Slice the chicken or steak and serve along side the roasted peppers and onions.


Top them off with cheese, guacamole, sour cream and my fresh Fresh Salsa and EAT! Your guests will be so impressed, like my sister-in-law said when I made these for her, “The next time I want fajitas I’m skipping the restaurant and coming over to your house!” ENJOY!





6 thin-sliced chicken breasts or 3 large chicken breasts, sliced length-wise

1/3 c. canola oil

1/3 c. lime juice, the juice of approximately 3 limes

3 T. worcestershire sauce

1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed, leaves chopped

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 jalapeno pepper, with seeds and ribs removed, minced

3 tsp. brown sugar

1 large, red onion, sliced crosswise into 1/2″ slices, do not separate into individual rings

1 each: orange, yellow, red, and green bell pepper

Serve with the following:

Flour tortillas

Shredded cheese

Sour Cream


Shredded lettuce

Diced Tomatoes

Fresh Salsa



In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, lime juice, worcestershire sauce, cilantro, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, paprika, minced jalapeno and brown sugar. Whisk together. Reserve 1/4 c. of the marinade to toss with the cooked vegetables before serving. Place chicken breasts in a large, zip-top bag and pour marinade over the chicken.  Refrigerate, chicken and marinade until 1 hour before grilling.  Preheat a gas grill or charcoals.  (See tips above) When grill is hot, place chicken, peppers and onion slices onto grill in an even layer.  When the chicken starts to brown on the sides and the onions and peppers have some nice char spots, turn them all over.  Remove chicken and veggies to a cutting board when the veggies are charred on both sides and the chicken is at an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  Tent with foil for 5- 10 minutes while you heat the tortillas.  Slice the chicken and vegetables into strips and serve immediately.


Fresh Salsa

20 years ago I fell in love with cooking.  It was Cinco de Mayo 1997 and I had just finished a semester of college away from home.  I had returned home and was enjoying time with my family and hanging out with my mom.  For those of you who don’t know my mom, she is the quintessential mother.  She does it all and always has.  She bottles her own fruit, salsa, spaghetti sauce, makes bread, clips articles out of the newspaper for those in her family who need it, watches the news everyday, insisted we all get out and vote, and made up songs to historical events so you could remember them for the test the next day.  She gardened, helped us with our piano practicing and prepared 3 meals everyday for everyone who was home.  She was the PTA president who fought for what was right in our community, and she always made sure we were at church each Sunday in our ironed clothes. We were taught to work, especially on Saturdays when we’d have our individual lists of chores on the table in the morning.  She was a stay-at-home mom of 8 children.  She took her responsibility as a mother very seriously and still does.  She showed us her love through years of selfless service.  She was always “at the crossroads” of our lives. We would have to leave the store, mall etc. in time to get home for any children arriving home from school.  She is a great cook and we were always fed, even when it was January, money was tight from Christmas for 10 people, and we were eating many of the things she bottled the previous summer.  I will always consider myself blessed to call her “Mother” and someday, I hope to be half of the woman she is.

Ok, back to May 5, 1997.  After grocery shopping with my mom, I decided to take over the cooking for the evening and make a Mexican feast.  We had a huge spread by the time I was done, and we called my aunt, uncle and cousins over to help us eat all the food.  It was on this day that I fell in love with cooking and within 3 months I was in Culinary school.  This salsa is the first thing I remember making for our feast and I’ve been making it ever since. As they enjoyed the meal, I loved the reaction I got from my family. If I were to give a reason for my love of cooking, it would probably be the same reason why mother gave all she gave for her family, the joy that comes from nurturing and caring for others.

The recipe is easy and straight forward. There really isn’t much to explain, but I’ll walk you through it.


This is the cast: lemon or lime, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, salt, onion, and crushed tomatoes.  I have tried every kind of tomato product out there, stewed, fresh, sauce, diced, etc. and I like canned, crushed tomatoes the best.  The one exception would be when I have garden ripe tomatoes, and even then I find they can be so watery that I use half fresh tomatoes and half canned, crushed tomatoes.

This salsa can be made by chopping everything by hand, in a blender, salsa maker or food processor.  I have used all of those variations.  This time I used the processor so I’ll explain the recipe using that method. Run the food processor to chop the garlic, and jalapeno to a fine dice.  Next add the quartered onions and pulse until the pieces are as small as you like.  Next throw in the cilantro, stems removed, and pulse again.  TIP: Do not add the liquid ingredients, including tomatoes, until after you’ve chopped the cilantro.  It just doesn’t chop as well sitting in the liquid. 

Now add the salt, lemon or lime juice and the tomatoes.  Mix well and taste for seasoning.  I have found I always need to adjust something, a little more lime juice, a pinch of salt or sometimes even a pinch of sugar, depending on how sweet the lime or lemon was.  This salsa can be made ahead of time and is even better the next day when all the flavors have married. Enjoy!




3-4 cloves garlic

1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno

1 medium to large onion: white, yellow, or red

1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed

Juice of one lemon or lime

1 tsp. salt

28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes


Chop garlic, jalapeno, onion and cilantro to desired sizes and mix well. Add juice, salt and tomatoes, and taste for seasoning.


Fruit Pizza with a Twist


Fruit pizza is a crowd-pleaser any way you slice it.  It is fresh, light, and beautiful, and the twist in my recipe is lemon.  I add just a little lemon to the frosting, which brightens the flavors of the fruit. The fresh, tart addition of lemon extract and zest is a pleasant surprise.  I served this the other night at a pool party and I had many people tell me how they loved the addition of lemon. It wakes up your taste buds and contrasts the sweetness of the fruit. This pizza has it all: soft, chewy, sugar crust, rich sweet frosting with a touch of bright tartness, and the juicy, sweet flavors of the fruit.  Who doesn’t love sugar cookies, cream cheese frosting and juicy, summer-ripe fruit? There are endless ways to decorate these pizzas and they can be an exciting, hands-on activity to let the kids get their creativity flowing.  Looking for a super fun way to spend a hot, summer afternoon? Make these into mini pizzas, let the kids play with their food and design their own mosaic masterpieces. I made the pizza, pictured above, on a jelly roll pan for a large family gathering.


I pushed the easy button and used Pillsbury sugar cookie dough, which I found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  If you have the time, energy and desire, go ahead and use your homemade sugar cookie dough.


Spread the dough out onto your pan. You can make the pizza into a large rectangle like I did, a large round pizza or smaller, individual pizzas. I used a silicone liner underneath to prevent any sticking.  I use them almost everyday for rolls, cookies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, chicken, fish, and especially sticky caramel apples. Seriously, nothing sticks to them, they wash so easily in soapy water and I love their durability! These are my favorite silicone baking mats.  Bake the dough and allow to cool.


While your cookie crust cools, beat softened cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. TIP: I always add the sugar first and then the butter, cream cheese or wet ingredients to the mixer.  The sugar in the bottom creates a barrier which lessens the need to scrape the bowl as much.  Add vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest to the cream cheese frosting and beat well.  If you are not a fan of lemon, just increase the vanilla extract and omit the lemon extract and zest.


Frost the cooled cookie crust with the cream cheese frosting, slice the fresh fruit and drain any canned fruit very well. I used raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, and mandarin oranges.  The key is to choose fruit in many different colors.


Mr. Incredible is super creative so I left the decorating to him.  He enlisted the help of some of our girls.  TIP: To make your design symmetrical, start laying down fruit in the middle and work your way out or whatever you do to one side, do immediately to the other side.  My daughter is ready to share the pizza she helped her daddy design at the pool party.


Fruit Pizza with a Twist


2 (15.5 oz.) rolls sugar cookie dough, softened

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp lemon zest

kiwifruit, peeled and sliced

strawberries, hulled and sliced



mandarin oranges, drained well


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Roll out cookie dough on to a jelly roll pan, lined with a silicone baking mat Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Wash and prepare fruit. Set aside.

Beat sugar and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.  Add extracts and zest and mix well to incorporate.  Spread cream cheese mixture onto the cooled cookie crust.

Lay fruit onto pizza, in desired design.  Cover and keep refrigerated or serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers, if any.  Enjoy!



Fall-off-the-bone Ribs


I have always loved having 7 siblings.  Growing up there was ALWAYS someone around to play with or talk to.  I am the 7th of 8 children and I idolized my older siblings.  I am sure I drove them crazy as I spied on them with their dates or wouldn’t leave them alone when their friends came around. I had a front row seat to my sisters getting ready for proms and pageants, and I had a crush on ALL of my brothers’ friends.  I attribute my love for college football, in part to my brother Brent.  He is my sibling closest in age to me and we would spend hours on  Saturday mornings watching college football.  I loved spending time with him and having our bedrooms in the basement, when we were older.  We just celebrated his birthday and I suggested to my mom that we make ribs for Brent because he loves them.  Some friends from my neighborhood taught me this method and they are the BEST ribs ever!  I know ribs can seem intimidating, but do not fear.  You will WOW your friends and family with these, succulent, fall-off-the-bones, tender and moist ribs. And they are SO easy! The trick is to bake/smoke them in the oven, low and slow to let the meat get tender and the fat to baste the meat while it melts away.  Let me walk you through it…..




I like to use baby back pork ribs.  Spareribs are good also, but I find they have more fat and are harder to work with when cutting into serving pieces.  Either cut will work just fine for this recipe.  There is a membrane that runs along the back of the ribs, slip a small knife between the bone and this membrane, make a small cut, and with your hand pull the membrane off.

Season with season salt or your favorite rub, on both sides of the ribs. (If you have a favorite BBQ restaurant, go in and ask them if they sell their rub seasoning and/or bbq sauce.)  Pour liquid smoke into the bottom of the pan and add some water.  I cook 3 racks at a time in each pan.  I push long, thin, wooden skewers through the 3 seasoned racks of ribs to help them stand up-right in the pan.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then tightly cover with heavy aluminum foil.  I know what you are thinking, “Plastic wrap in the oven?”.  But trust me, it works.  It keeps the ribs moist and the liquid smoke doing its thing for all those hours.  It will not melt as long as you are sure to cover it tightly with foil.  Cook for 6-8 hours at 225 degrees fahrenheit. Now here is the trick, remove the pan from the oven but do not touch the ribs!! Let them cool and place them in the fridge overnight.  If you were to try and grill these at this point, you would lose all the meat through the slats of the grill.  Actually, you wouldn’t even get to that point because you wouldn’t be able to move them to the grill in one piece.

30 minutes before you want to eat, preheat the grill and get the pan out of the fridge.  Remove the wooden skewers and place the racks of ribs on the hot grill.  Brush the ribs liberally with your favorite barbecue sauce (again, this is where your favorite bbq restaurant comes in handy, if they sell their sauce) and let the sauce caramelize on the meat.  Flip the slabs over, you can cut them in half for easier handling, and brush more sauce on the other side.  They heat through surprisingly fast.  Be sure to turn them before the sauce burns underneath.  I like to baste and turn a couple times to get them sticky and slathered.




My family raved over these ribs, and I got a big hug from my brother. Be prepared for everyone to want the recipe. Enjoy!!

Fall-off-the-bone Ribs

Serves 12-15



3 racks of baby back ribs

3 wooden skewers

Large roasting pan

Season salt or favorite bbq rub

1/4 c. Liquid Smoke (I like hickory)

1 c. water

Plastic wrap

Heavy duty aluminum foil


Preheat oven to 225 degrees fahrenheit. Rinse meat with water and pat dry with paper towels.  Season liberally, both sides of ribs with season salt or bbq rub.  Stand 3 racks together and push wooden skewers through all 3 racks to keep them standing up-right in the pan.  Into the bottom of the pan add the liquid smoke and water.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Cook in the oven for 6 hours. Remove from oven and let cool before placing in refrigerator.  Keep in refrigerator over night.

30 minutes before serving, remove pan from fridge and preheat grill on medium high. Place ribs on grill and baste with sauce, allowing the sauce to get hot and sticky, about 5 minutes. Turn the meat over and repeat.  Turn often enough to prevent burning.








Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Coconut Buttermilk Syrup


A few months ago my husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary in Kauai.  Let me state for the record, Kauai is absolutely breath-taking and one of the most beautiful places on the earth.  We had the BEST time! I’ll definitely be writing a “Must see, eat, do in Kauai” post in the future. The island has so much to offer by way of activities and adventures, and yet it is slow paced and relaxing.  We spent a lot of time researching and planning, especially where and what to eat on the island.  We had a long list of places that we were told were “must eats.”  So the fact that we ate these pancakes twice while we were there should tell you something!

One of the mornings was rainy, which is typical for Kauai and one of the reasons it is called the “Garden Isle.” Lots of lush, green vegetation!  We decided to find a place where we could eat and get out of the rain. We went to eat at Olympus Cafe, near our hotel.  Now, I’ve always been one who needs some protein for breakfast and I rarely eat sweet foods in the morning, but not Mr. Incredible.  He thoroughly enjoys breakfast foods of all kinds. So, of course he just had to order the Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Coconut Syrup.  True to Kauai’s slow pace, it took a while to get our food as the restaurant was packed.  The wait did not bother us one bit; we had a window seat and enjoyed the opportunity to talk without one of our children needing something or interrupting. That is one of the great things about vacations and alone time.  When the waiter brought our food, we couldn’t believe how huge and yummy these pancakes looked. We starting eating, and my husband insisted I try some of his pancakes.  He promised they were amazing, and oh, was he right.  I had more than just a bite.  One of my favorite things to do is to challenge myself to recreate our favorite things that we eat at restaurants. I told Mr. Incredible, “I will figure our how to make these at home!” We bought macadamia nuts there to bring home, and within a week we had the winning recipe!

Now this recipe is completely from scratch.  If you don’t have the time or desire to make the batter from scratch, just use your favorite pancake mix and add the sliced bananas and chopped nuts to the prepared mix.


The batter is very thick and I like to use an ice cream scoop to put the pancake batter on the griddle.

Fold in the bananas and macadamia nuts to the pancake batter, being careful to not over mix.


You can see the bubbles that are forming on the top, time to flip! Look how fluffy these pancakes are! The buttermilk, baking powder, and baking soda cause this reaction when mixed together. If possible, allow your pancake batter time to develop, up to half an hour before cooking for a fluffy result.

These are to DIE FOR! Can I add that these were never meant to be a health food? They are definitely a special treat, to make every once in a while, for a birthday or father’s day!  When I make them, they take me back to one of my favorite mornings, on my favorite island with my favorite person in the world. Aloha!

Buttermilk Pancake Batter

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 T. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 c. low-fat buttermilk

1 egg

3 T. melted butter

4 bananas, sliced, reserving one banana for slicing on top

1 c. chopped macadamia nuts, reserving 1/4 c. for topping

In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and butter together, then pour into the dry ingredients.  The batter will be very thick. Fold in the chopped macadamia nuts and sliced bananas.  Preheat a griddle to 325 degrees.  This is not quite as hot as I usually have the griddle to make pancakes, but because they are so thick and need time for the bananas to cook before the outsides get too dark it best to cook at a little cooler temperature.  When bubbles start to form on the top of the pancakes, flip them and finish cooking on the other side. Sprinkle with some of the reserved, chopped macadamia nuts and add a few sliced bananas to take these over-the-top! Serve with buttermilk coconut syrup.

Buttermilk Coconut Syrup

3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. butter

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. coconut extract

In a medium saucepan, add buttermilk, sugar and butter and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Allow to boil for one minute, remove from heat and stir in baking soda and coconut extract.  Syrup will bubble and foam.  Serve warm.







I have been making these cinnamon rolls since we lived in Omaha, Nebraska where Mr. Incredible was attending law school.  We loved our time there! The people are good, family-oriented people who love their football.  EVERYONE wears their team shirts on Saturdays and we even heard Cornhuskers football spoken of from the pulpit at church. We lived in a fantastic town home complex where I met so many friends, whose husbands were also attending graduate school of some sort.  Each year, the entire complex would have a huge yard sale and I decided to make 6 dozen of these cinnamon rolls and sell them to the hungry, early-morning shoppers.  They quickly sold out and that money was very helpful for us, as poor students.

It is a sweet dough that is good for not only cinnamon rolls, but orange rolls, cranberry rolls, and raspberry rolls. It is extremely soft, tender and moist.  The key is to make sure the yeast activates (foams and bubbles within minutes) and to let it mix/knead for the full 10 minutes (this develops the gluten in the flour and makes for a tender, soft, stretchy dough).


This sweet girl was thrilled to help mom brush on the butter.  I am fully aware that my table is a mess in the background.  I’m keeping it real here.  So, after the dough is mixed, covered and left to double in size, pull it out of the bowl and punch it down.  This deflates the dough and release the pockets of air so you can form it, but you HAVE to let it rest at least 10 minutes because after you punch it down it will seize up and you will have no luck rolling it out and stretching it.  It just needs to breathe for a bit.

Divide the dough into 2 equal halves and cover one of them while you work with the other half.  Roll out your dough to about 1/4″ thick, I have found the thicker the dough the softer the cinnamon roll. Brush on butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, I like to mix them together first for even distribution.  Also, don’t be stingy! You are making cinnamon rolls, no one expects them to be healthy and a good amount of brown sugar/cinnamon is what takes these sweet rolls over the top!


I had a little leftover cinnamon sugar from some caramel apples I made the night before so that is the white you see in the picture above.  I added brown sugar and cinnamon to make enough for the rolls.


Now get rolling! Each half will make 20 good size rolls which fits perfectly onto a jelly roll pan.  I like to lightly mark with my sharp, serrated knife, 20 even indentations so to ensure I’ll get 20 identical rolls.


I bake mine on silicone baking mats, which I adore!  They can also be baked on parchment-lined pans or even directly on an unlined-pan but I find the sugars brown too much on the bottom of an unlined pan so I always bake them on something.  (It also makes for much easier clean up!) Now cover these beauties for 45 minutes to rise and expand.


Preheat your oven, and bake.  Each oven is different and varies in temperature, so WATCH them closely after about 13 minutes.  Pull them out when they are browned to your liking, just make sure you give the middle ones enough time to cook so you don’t have doughy rolls.


Be sure to let them cool before frosting them or your frosting will melt all over the place and they will look glazed, not frosted.  Enjoy!!



1/4 c. instant yeast

1 1/2 c. warm water (110 degrees)

pinch of sugar

In the bowl of your mixer, mix the sugar into the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and give it a stir.  Let the yeast grow, foam and activate for 5-10 minutes.  To the yeast mixture, add the following ingredients, adding the flour one cup at a time and mixing until the dough leaves the side of the bowl and is tacky but not too sticky.

2 c. warm water

2/3 c. powdered milk

1 c. sugar

1 tsp. salt

4 eggs

1 c. butter, softened

10-12+ c. bread flour

Let the dough mix for 10 minutes on the 1st speed of your mixer. Cover with a clean towel and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until at least doubled if not tripled in size. Divide into 2 halves. Cover one and roll out the other into a triangle no thinner than 1/4″ thick. Spread 6 tablespoons of butter on top. In a medium bowl mix 1 1/2 c. brown sugar and 5 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of butter, spreading evenly.  Mr. Incredible says raisins are ALWAYS optional, but if you’d like to add raisins, now is the time.  Roll the short way and cut into 20 even rolls.  Place on jelly roll pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Repeat with the other half.  Cover with clean towel and let rise 45 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool, then frost.


1 (8oz package) cream cheese

3/4 c. butter

4 1/2 + c. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whip the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy, add the vanilla and salt to incorporate.  Slowly add the powdered sugar.  if desired, add extra powdered sugar to make more frosting, adding milk as needed to thin.

Who is Spumoni?


On Saturday mornings in my house, you will find the 9 of us getting our chores done to the music of Louis Prima. Never heard of him? I hadn’t either, until my husband started playing Louis’ upbeat, sometimes funny, Italian-influenced songs to get us up and moving.  There is a song he sings called “Angelina.” The song is about a waitress named Angelina, who works at the pizzeria where Louis goes and orders menu item after menu item so that Angelina will come visit Louis’ table over and over.  He sings at one point, “And I’ll join in matrimony with the girl who serves spumoni, and Angelina will be mine.” And thus for a few years now my husband has called me Spumoni.  I am a wife and a mother of 7 children, for whom I am daily grateful.

FAMILY (233 of 289).JPG

I have a thoughtful and supportive husband, who has always encouraged me to chase my dreams, which is one of the reasons I am pushing through the anxiety this new adventure brings to me and starting this blog.  I enjoy cooking, baking, gardening, playing tennis, almost any movie with British accents and costumes, good chocolate, and spending time with my family and traveling. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of airplanes, hotels and visiting new places, people and cultures. I am sure that is because I don’t travel all the time for work.  I married into a Disney-loving family, was converted on our first trip together, and wish I was at Disneyland most days of the year.  I am also grateful I get to stay home with my children. Before I was married with children, I attended culinary school and there are few things I love to do more than cook, bake, and present food.  I want to create a place where I can share recipes, tips and favorites things.  

I believe there is beauty all around if we have the eyes to see and hearts to feel. That being said, life is not always beautiful and some days are survived and hopefully forgotten with a good night’s sleep. Yesterday, I spent a few hours baking cinnamon rolls.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and took pictures along the way to share with the recipe.  While the cinnamon rolls looked beautiful, my house afterwards did not. I share this because it is real.  You may see my picture of the best looking roll from the pan on a pretty plate, and assume my whole life is as beautiful.  We all, as humans, are attracted to beauty.  There is an entire industry for marketing and making pictures and products look attractive and eye-catching.  This is okay with me, but I also know that a close up is rarely the whole picture. If we only put our best foot forward and share just the great times, we may miss out on deeper, more meaningful relationships with those around us who want to know ALL about us and the things we have in common.  So, we appreciate the good, talents, and beauty in others around us, yet we deepen our relationships and feel closer to them when we share in their trials, hard days, and times when life is anything but beautiful.

I have a friend who has some real challenges in her family.  As she posts on Facebook about her life, she is often positive and looks for the silver linings. But I also appreciate when she is open with her struggles and willing to share honestly  of her hard times as a mother.  We can feel isolated and lonely when we think all the women around us are debt-free, at Disneyland, with their clean-faced, perfectly coiffed children, wearing their skinny jeans and fresh-from-the-beach, wavy hair. To say nothing of their attentive, rich and handsome husbands.  There is danger in believing that when we see a snapshot or a closeup, that must be the whole picture. I recently shared on Facebook a cleaning routine I use with my children, that I have found works for us. I shared it in hopes that if someone needed help, they could possibly find it through what has worked with my family.  Later that day I received a text from a dear friend who had seen my post and said it made her want to cry because she is struggling getting her kids to help clean the house.  The text was sent with a picture of her living room, which was clearly lived in. I quickly responded that my house looks that same way each day.  That is most of our reality with children (and adults) living in a home. Some women I know have a real talent and gift for cleaning, organization, and preventing clutter. I visit their homes and feel peace and see beauty. I sincerely admire these women. I haven’t necessarily developed all those talents yet, but like the rest of you, I try.  I also know women who have talents and gifts of creating, baking, sewing, writing, reading, and giving of their time and friendship. Some are artistic, others are quiet and comforting.  I believe we all have something others admire and need from us.   So keep that in mind, and I will try to put BOTH feet forward as I share on this blog.