Posts in the ‘Recipes’ Category

{RECIPE} Homemade Chicken Soup -- What's Better When You're Sick?


Being sick is no fun! And with a five-year-old, we're used to lots of colds at our house.

When I was little, my mom always made me homemade chicken soup when I was sick, and I loved it! It's a really strong memory for me so I've continued the tradition. Whoever is sick at our house, gets warm blankets, lots of fluids, as much TV as he or she wants, soft tissues, and homemade chicken soup. :)

I think there's nothing better than eating steamy hot soup when you're feeling lousy. Plus, since it's hard to get any real nutrition in (that is especially true for my daughter), I feel good serving my chicken soup which is packed with fresh ingredients. Plus, the best part... it's simple to make, you end up with a lot in one batch, and it's so delicious.



Makes about 8 bowls of soup

For the stock

  • 16 cups of water
  • 1 whole chicken - about 4 pounds (I like Mary's Air Chilled chickens because they have so much flavor)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 onion (we used 4-5 purple young spring onions)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 small bunch of celery (4-6 stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon of dill
  • 2-3 teaspoons kosher salt
For the soup
  • 1 12 oz bag egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (from making the stock)
  • 2 teaspoons dill for garnish

Directions for the stock:

Add 16 cups of water to a large pot. While the water is coming to a boil, break down the chicken and add the individual pieces including the backbone and the neck.

Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer  for about 10-15 minutes. Skim off the froth. Now add the rest of the stock vegetables to the pot.

(I do a very basic job with the vegetables. I cut the onions in half. I cut the green tops off the leeks and cut them in half. I cut the bottoms off the celery and throw in the stalks including the leaves. And I split the carrots in half lengthwise, then cut them in half.)

Next add the soy sauce. My mother didn't do this, but I think it brings a nice umami flavor to the stock. If you like your stock salty (like me) add an additional 2-3 teaspoons of salt.

Let the stock boil for about 45 minutes, or until you can see the chicken is cooked and coming off of the bone.


Turn it down to a simmer for 1 1/2 hours, salting to taste.

Using tongs, pull out the chicken pieces. Let them cool, and pull off the meat. Set the meat aside to use later in the soup. Throw the bones back in the pot, and cook for another hour.

Strain the stock until it's clear, and let it cool before you put it in the refrigerator. I set the bowl in the sink with some ice to speed this up. Once cool (I usually leave it in the refrigerator overnight), the chicken fat will have risen to the top and solidified. Scoop it off with a spoon.


Directions for the soup:

Preparing your egg noodles. Reheat the stock with some of the cold chicken pieces added back in and about a 1/2 cup of thinly sliced carrots. Boil until the carrots are soft (about 10 minutes).

Garnish with pinches of dill. And watch your family get better quick!!


Also, last year I had my Vitamin D levels checked and discovered that I was very deficient. I know... How can I be deficient in the "sunshine" vitamin when I live in California? Well, I'm also a hat wearing, sunscreen slathering woman, who spends a lot of time at her computer indoors.

Since going onto Vitamin D supplements, my immune system seems to be much stronger. I've also put my daughter and husband on Vitamin D, and maybe it's a coincidence, but I feel like we've been much healthier this winter. Has anyone else had the same experience?

Wishing you lots of good health  and good eating!!

This cold and flu season, make the care complete with Kleenex® brand, and together we’ll turn a seemingly small gesture into something bigger, to make everyone feel better.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kleenex via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kleenex.

{RECIPE} Lemon Sugar Cookies


We have a crazy big lemon tree in our backyard that is just bursting with lemons. So when I needed to make a quick dessert to bring to my friend Rachelle Doorley's house for dinner (she's the creative force behind Tinkerlab and a very good friend), I couldn't wait to use our lemons.


Even with adding the lemon icing stripes, these cookies took about 30 minutes from start to finish. They turned out so pretty with the stripes, and were delicious at dinner, sweet, but not too sweet, and with just the right level of lemon punch.



Makes 2-3 dozen

For the cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks - softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs (or 1 egg + two yolks)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon water


Add the flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl, give a quick mix with a whisk, just enough to evenly distribute the salt and baking powder.

In another bowl, add the softened (room temperature) butter, eggs. sugar, and vanilla. We used 1 whole agg, plus two yolks to try and bring a little extra color to the cookies, but I don't think it is necessary. I would just use two eggs next time. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth -- about a minute. Mix in the zest and lemon juice.

In three or four batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until incorporated.


Roll them into one inch balls, pat them down a bit, and placed them on a lightly greased cookie sheet, or use a Silpat.


Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. I take them out when there just starts to be the slightest hint of browning along the bottom.


While the cookies are cooling, you can put together the lemon glaze. Put the powdered sugar in a sauce pan over low heat and add the lemon juice. Stir until it is smooth. If it is feeling too thick, you can add a little water. I added a teaspoon of water to mine.

If you don't have piping bags, you can just pour the glaze into a ziplock bag. Pour it into one corner of the ziplock bag and cut a small whole in the opposite corner.


Squeeze out a few stripes over the cookies. You could also just use a spoon to drizzle the glaze. The glaze will start to harden as it cools, so you should either to do all the cookies at once, or plan to reheat the glaze to soften it again after each batch.


We have company coming over (read: playdate) so we'll be finishing them up today. Yum!



{RECIPES} What are You Serving at your Super Bowl Party?


If you are stumped over what to serve at your Super Bowl party this weekend, how about trying out one of our delicious recipes:

If you're going traditional, our tangy spicy buffalo wings take the cake!

If you want a mouthful of yum, I recommend our pulled pork sandwich.

If you want to add a little "fancy" to your party, try our lemon garlic shrimp.

And if you want some Asian flair, check out our cold sesame noodles.

Also to add some decor to your party, take a look at our free Super Bowl party printables. Just download the files, print them out, cut them out, and decorate!

And if you need some party ideas, we'v got a ton. Take a look at these awesome football and Super Bowl parties.

Finally, the question of the hour... Who are you rooting for?! Living in the Bay Area, I'd be kicked out if I didn't say the 49ers!!! :)

{RECIPE} Pulled Pork Sandwich with Spicy Asian Slaw

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My husband loves pulled pork sandwiches, so I thought I'd post our favorite pulled pork recipe that goes beautifully with our yummy spicy Asian slaw.

This dish would be perfect to serve at a Super Bowl party!!



  • 1 bone-in pork butt (6 to 8 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder


Prepare the rub by mixing together the brown sugar, salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and dry mustard.

Cut through the fat on the top of the shoulder in a 1 inch crosshatch pattern. Cut through the fat, but try not to cut into the meat.

Rub the mixed seasoning on the entire shoulder and into the cuts on the top.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator over night (at least 12 hours). We put ours on a cookie sheet to catch any drippings.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lower the rack to its lowest position.

Unwrap the shoulder, and wipe of any excess rub off that hasn't been absorbed into the meat. Place the shoulder on a greased rack in a roasting pan with 3-4 cups of water in the bottom to keep the drippings from burning.

You can baste the shoulder a few times with the liquid during the cooking process. We refilled the water once about half way through.

Cook until the internal temp is at least 190 degrees. If you take it out too soon, the meat won't be tender. A probe thermometer is very helpful as the cooking time can vary depending on the size of the shoulder and the over. Our 7lb. shoulder took 8 hours to reach 190 degrees.

Here it is right out of the oven.

Let the shoulder rest for an hour, then use two forks to pull it apart. It should shred easily.




  • 2 cups napa cabbage (about half a head)
  • 2 cups radicchio (about half a head)
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dry Chinese or English (Coleman's) mustard
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons light sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper



Quarter the cabbage and radicchio, and cut out the hearts. Slice thinly and mix with the onions, cilantro, and carrots.

Mix together the dressing ingredients.

Add the dressing to the chopped vegetables.

Toss with the sesame seeds to taste.

And here's the final product again... Yum!!

{Recipe} Vegetarian Kale and White Bean Soup

recipe-kale-white-bean-soup As I posted earlier, we've just joined a CSA program at Mariquita Farm near Watsonville, CA.

On Wednesday, my husband picked up our first box of fruits and vegetables. I was so excited to see what we got!

mariquita farm csa pick-up

And here it is. How beautiful do these fruits and veggies look!

  • Daikon
  • Cilantro
  • Mei Quin Choy (baby bok choy)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Spigariello  (a leafy green similar to kale)
  • Carrots
  • Apples

csa fruit vegetable basket

And I had to post the first soup we made with our ingredients. This soup is perfect for a cold winter day (like yesterday). The little bit of chili powder adds a nice kick, while the warm kale and beans are so soft and soothing.



  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cans white beans (great northern or cannellini)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 4 cups chopped kale (we used the Spigariello from our CSA box)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • kosher salt

In a large pot, at least 6 quarts, heat the olive oil.

Dice the onion and garlic and add to the pot.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the kale and cook until it starts to wilt, about 5-6 minutes.

Add the beans (drained), chopped carrots and vegetable stock. Turn the heat up to medium high until the soup starts to simmer, then cover and turn down to medium low. Add chili powder and salt to taste. You can also add other veggies you have in your fridge. I added some of the bok choy from our CSA box.

Let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Makes about 6 servings.


We will be making this again and again. It's the kind of hearty, healthy soup that warms your bones.

{RECIPE} Puff Pastry Pizzas Perfect for New Year's Eve!

If you are looking for a last minute New Year's Eve appetizer, I've got the perfect one. These puff pastry pizzas are quick to make (10 minutes to prep, 15 minutes to bake) and they are super delicious!

They taste like mini pizzas with the added fluffiness and richness of puff pastry.



  • 2 roma tomatoes sliced thin
  • fresh mozzerella
  • fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan - we used a three cheese mix (fontina, asiago, and parmesan) from Wholefoods
  • olive oil
  • 1 package puff pastry dough
  • salt and pepper
makes 16


Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut puff pastry into 2" x 3" rectangles.

Brush with a light coat of olive oil. Use a fork to polk about 8 - 10 holes in the center of the pastry where you are going to place the tomato slice.

Add your thin slices of tomato.

Add slices of mozzarella.

Add about a half turn of pepper, and a pinch of salt over the mozzarella.

Sprinkle grated parmesan on top.

Add thin slices of fresh basil.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Since it's almost New Year's, I'm serving mine with champagne shooters made with champagne, a touch of cranberry juice, and a blackberry for garnish. They're not only pretty, they're yummy!

Have a wonderful New Year's Eve! I look forward to sharing parties, recipes, crafts and all that great stuff with you in 2013!!

{RECIPE} Homemade Rustic Crackers

Nicole from Tikkido and Tradewind Tiaras is back with a perfect recipe for holiday entertaining -- homemade rustic crackers. What's great about them, is that you can flavor them any way you'd like, then serve them with our favorite cheeses, dips, or spreads. Don't they look delicious?


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • Egg wash (one egg beaten with 2 T water)
  • Toppings of your choice


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Mix to combine the dry ingredients.  Add the olive oil and the water, and mix until a ball of dough has been formed.  No need to knead--just mix until the ingredients are incorporated.

Divide the dough in half.  Roll out the dough directly on two un-greased cookie sheets.  I love using the little silicone rolling pin I actually bought for my daughter.  It matches my big one, and we like to cook together.  But that little rolling pin is absolutely perfect for rolling out the cracker dough on the baking sheets.  The small size helps me get the dough nice and thin, while avoiding the bent lips on the ends of the pan.  Don't have a rolling pin?  No problem!  Just use your fingers to stretch and push the dough into shape.  The more rustic look you get using your fingers only adds to the charm of the homemade crackers.

Tip:  Rolling dough directly on a baking sheet can be tricky; the pan tends to slide around the counter.  To solve this problem, put a silpat under your baking pan.  If you don't have a silpat, just use a barely-damp dish towel.  It works wonders!

Once the dough is rolled thin, brush the egg wash over the surface of the crackers, and sprinkle with the toppings of your choice.  I love using kosher salt and fresh rosemary, or Parmesan cheese.  But poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic salt -- really, just about any herbs or spices -- are wonderful.  Experiment with your favorite flavors.

Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crackers are golden and crispy.  Let cool and devour!

Thank you, Nicole, we will definitely be making these at our house!

To learn more about Nicole (who enjoys decorating cakes but not eating them, Irish dancing, public radio, Old English language and archaeology, and geekery of all sorts), visit her at Tikkido and Tradewind Tiaras.

{DIY} Marshmallow Snowman Cupcakes

I had so much fun making these yesterday! They were actually quite simple. Here's how I did it...



  • White cupcakes with white frosting
  • Regular marshmallows
  • Jumbo marshmallows
  • Oreos
  • Dark Chocolate Truffles (we used Mint Creams from Trader Joe's)
  • Wilton Decorating Gel in black
  • Betty Crocker Cookie Icing in white (black optional)
  • Shredded coconut
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Confetti dots
  • Fruit roll
  • Starburst candy (orange)


To make the snowman face, take one regular sized marshmallow and draw a face on it using the black Wilton Decorating Gel. Try to pick marshmallows that are flat on the top and bottom so your snowman will stand straight.

To make the hat, pull an Oreo apart (use the side without the frosting). Squirt a dollop of Betty Crocker Cookie Icing on the top of one cookie and affix your chocolate candy. If you only have white icing, just use a touch less so it doesn't squish out the side. For the candy I used Dark Chocolate Mint Creams from Trader Joe's, but you can use chocolate truffles, or even Rolos. I like dark chocolate candies to match the color of the Oreos.

To make the carrot nose, take one orange Starburst and cut tiny angled slivers. You can easily get 20 noses from a single orange Starburst.

To attach the nose, cut a small slit in the front of the marshmallow and push the nose into the marshmallow.

To make the body, first trim about 1/4 of the jumbo marshmallow off the bottom. This can help even out the marshmallow if it got a little squished in the bag.

Put a dab of the white Betty Crocker Cookie Icing on the back of three confetti dots then attach them to the front of the body. And finally, to add the arms, stick pretzel sticks into the sides of the jumbo marshmallow.

To make the scarf, cut slices of fruit roll that are at least 6 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.

To create the fringe, use a sharp knife and make 3-4 cuts at each ends, each about 1/2 inch long.

Now it's time for assembly.

Start with your white frosted cupcake.

Add the body.

Now add your snow. First I attached shredded coconut. You can optionally sprinkled on some white sanding sugar to give it a little sparkle.

Put a little swirl of the white Betty Crocker Cookie Icing on the bottom of the head, and set it on the body.

Now add the scarf - just wrap it around the base of the head.

And finally, to attach the hat put a swirl of the the Betty Crocker Cookie Icing on the bottom of the cookie, and set it on the head.

One thing you can run into putting this together, is that if your marshmallows aren't flat, the head and hat can slide off before the cookie icing firms up. It's best to pick marshmallows that aren't too lopsided. And when you cut off the bottom of the jumbo marshmallow, use it as an opportunity level it out.

And voila! Aren't they cute?

Almost too cute to eat... but not quite. :)


{RECIPE} Chicken Habañero Nachos

I was asked by Velveeta and Rotel to incorporate their Queso Dip Recipe in a football tailgater.

I thought it would make a great nacho cheese sauce, and what better food to serve at a football party than nachos! They're casual, fun, snack-able, tasty, and just a little messy.  Plus, they're simple to make (it's all about the layering).

Here's how I made my yummy nachos...



For the nachos

  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • 1 can black beans (drained)
  • 2 small or 1 large chicken breasts (shredded)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese (crumbled)
For the cheese sauce
  • 1 can Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 16oz package of Velveeta cheese
  • 1/2 habañero pepper (seeded and finely minced)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (pressed or finely minced)


Spread tortilla chips out on a cookie sheet.

Make sure the black beans are well drained. You want to minimize the liquid to keep the chips crunchy. Spoon the beans over the chips.

I sprinkled the crumbled Cotija cheese on top.

Next, shred the chicken breasts; I just pull them apart with two forks. I like to season the chicken with a little lime juice, salt, and chili powder. Spread the chicken over the chips.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 350F.

For the cheese sauce, cut the Velveeta in 1 inch cubes, and add to a sauce pan with the Ro*Tel, garlic, and habañero. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts and everything is well mixed.

Be careful working with the habañero, wash your hands and wash off your cutting board with soap after you mince it. I only used half of one habañero, and I would say the sauce came out medium-hot. You can add the whole pepper if you like spicy food.

I took this picture before I added the cheese sauce.  I used a spatula to move the chips from the cookie pan to my serving tray. (Don't you like my football dish?)

I poured about half of the cheese sauce over the top. I put the rest in a bowl for dipping.

I garnished with guacamole,  salsa, and a little cilantro on top. This is my favorite simple salsa recipe:



  • 1 large or two small tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Cilantro
  • 1/4 large onion - diced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon diced green chili pepper (I like to use a Poblano)
  • pinch of kosher salt

Chop the tomatoes, and dice 1 quarter of a large onion and mix them in a bowl  Add the diced chile pepper, cilantro and lime.  Stir , salt to taste - about 1/2 teaspoon.

To give the nachos a "football party" feel, I added some of our free football printables to the setup. I like to use tented cards to let my guests know what I'm serving.

I also added cupcake toppers to mini vanilla cupcakes to make them more fun!

Here's my "touchdown" banner.

And right now I can't get enough of the in-season satsumas at the farmer's market. I love putting out bowls of delicious fresh fruit at my parties and added fun and unexpected decorations.

Who are you rooting for this season? I'm looking forward to watching Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Go Cardinal!

The creamy, cheesy taste of Velveeta pairs with fresh and spicy RO*TEL for a delicious Queso Dip perfect for any occasion!

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by RO*TEL and Velveeta via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of RO*TEL and Velveeta.


{RECIPE} The Perfect Chewy Sugar Cookie Recipe!

This is the go-to cookie recipe in our house because it is so quick and easy to put together, and it tastes great! It's also a versatile cookie.

You can top it with green and red sprinkles (like we did for our Cookies and Cocoa party), or sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar and you'll have a great snickerdoodle. You could also roll it in some pink sanding sugar and have something pretty that would work great at a tea party. And if you ever just want some cookie dough, this hits the spot.



  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup  butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Bake at 350F  for 8-10 minutes


Add the flour, salt, and baking powder  into a bowl, mix, and set aside.

In another bowl, add the softened (room temperature) butter, eggs. sugar, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth -- ab0ut a minute.

In three or four batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until incorporated.

Lainey's favorite part.

Roll them into one inch balls or roll the dough out using a rolling pin and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter. Top them with sprinkles, sanding sugar, cinnamon and sugar, or anything else you can think of. Place on a Silpat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. I take them out when there just starts to be the slightest hint of browning along the bottom.

And here's what you get... Soft, chewy, and sweet cookies with a touch of salt. I'm warning you, you will not be able to eat just one.

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