recipe for posterity…pumpkin bread

October 2nd, 2015

Amanda and I made pumpkin bread the other day… Matt’s co-worker’s wife lost her father this week and he thought it would be nice to take her pumpkin bread because she always talks about how much she likes it when I make it for the holidays (for his co-workers). So we made extra. ūüôā

Many times Amanda will mention she googles recipes including mylifeasannie so that she can find our favorite recipes on the blog. ¬†Pumpkin bread has not been put on the blog – crazy, huh? ¬†I have this recipe written in a recipe book I was given at my wedding shower 4 thousand years ago and it looks like it has been retrieved from the ocean. I had to hold it to the light to make sure I had the right amounts of ingredients. ¬†Because of these two things I decided to post it on the blog so that it isn’t forever lost.


Pumpkin bread

1 cup oil (I used coconut oil)

1 pound pumpkin (I used 15 oz can)

4 eggs (beaten)

3 1/2 cups flour

1 t baking soda

2 t baking powder

1 t cinnamon

1 t allspice

1 t nutmeg

1/2 t ground cloves

2 t salt

Mix well. This recipe makes two large or three medium loaves… or 6 small loaves. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until it passes the clean toothpick test.


p.s. Bailey you better hurry, it’s going fast!

Summertime madness.

July 28th, 2015

I’ve been told by more than one person that I am way behind on the blog. My last post was May so I’m about three months behind. The Summer has been flying by and has been full, especially the past few weeks. I walked in my graduation ceremony last weekend. I had decided not to participate, but after much forcing persuading by my mother, I did it! My parents hosted a great party for me Saturday evening to celebrate more, full of friends, family, food and good wishes. I am a pretty social person, I love to be in a crowd. I am not put off by the mall on Christmas Eve, or the grocery store on a busy Saturday. I realized something about myself I never really noticed. I do not like to have events centered around myself. I love having parties for the kids or friends or anyone else by ME! Thinking back this has always been true. One more fact on the “I’m a weirdo” list.

The next thing that happened big the very next day after graduating from COLLEGE… was that my baby became a teenager. How did this happen so quickly? It really is true that time flies. We celebrated Amanda and Isabelle on Sunday (Amanda’s birthday is today! but she had to work on her birthday). Amanda requested grilled cajun shrimp, fettucini alfredo, garlic bread, Caesar salad, and funfetti cake (which was topped with barbie purple cream cheese frosting). Monday we all headed to the nail spa for Iz to have a mani pedi! Vee was great with Iz, and Iz loved sitting in the massage chair shaking her around while getting her feet pampered. We went to Cheesecake Factory afterwards to meet up with all Izzy’s friends for lunch and cheesecake. Izzy loves her cheesecake! It was a fun day.

Fettuccine Alfredo

24 ounces dry fettuccini pasta
1 cup butter
3/4 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 dash garlic salt
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccini and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

 In a large saucepan, melt butter into cream over low heat. Add salt, pepper and garlic salt. Stir in cheese over medium heat until melted; this will thicken the sauce.
Add pasta to sauce. Use enough of the pasta so that all of the sauce is used and the pasta is thoroughly coated. Serve immediately.

Grilled Cajun Shrimp

  • 2 lbs shrimp, peeled deveined, and be sure they are thawed, if using frozen. ( I buy mine at Sam’s 2 lb bag)
  • Marinade
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Mix together. Marinade for up to 24 hours. Skewer and grill, 3 minutes per side, or until tender. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve later.

may is tomorrow.

April 30th, 2015

Another reason to loathe May… Bailey is officially moving out tomorrow. ¬†He will be living in an apartment close to his work (sad face). I will miss the late night talks, the morning talks as we are both running around to get ready for the day, all the help he is with lifting Isabelle and carrying her to bed or from bed, and just knowing he is here. He is a great son and I will be sad to have him living away from home. ¬†That is two now that have and are flying away from the nest. I love to see how well they have grown up and how they are productive members of society. They are considerate of others, thoughtful of the people and things around them, responsible and trustworthy. I know when they were born and my job as a mom began this was the ultimate goal, to raise healthy adults to start the cycle again. Honestly tho, I could live in a huge house with all my kids and be happy. As a young mother I remember loving the days when they were headed to school on the bus and was allowed a few hours of quiet time. I still love a little quiet time, but I do not celebrate the times they leave home, rather I celebrate internally when I look around the dinner table and see all their faces smiling and talking to each other. Those are the happy times. After Isabelle’s <near> drowning I became very nervous about leaving home or anyone leaving home, scared of the unknown because the bitter taste of tragedy was so strong. It took some time and prayer to realize that I could not create a safe bubble for my family, but had to let go and trust that they would be okay. So now, almost 11 years later, I do not fear for them going into the world and being away from home. I just really like them and enjoy them when they are home.

I was reminded by Melanie that I haven’t blogged in months. I looked and it was January when I last blogged. February we celebrated Bailey’s 21st birthday. In March Emelia turned 17 years old. In April Izzy got her new wheelchair that is staying at school until a)summer or b) i figure out how to get a wheelchair van. She also went to the local special olympics which is always fun for her. We ordered cute t-shirts that say team izzy and are ordering more this week in gray with zebra print this time. Other than daily seizures, she has been very healthy. I would love to start her on the CBD oil.










I am getting excited to finally graduate from college this summer. It has taken so long to get to this point I almost feel like it has lost the excitement it may have gotten had I finished a long time ago.

Here is a recipe we’ve been having a lot lately. Everyone likes it! ¬†I put avocado slices and squeeze lime juice on top of each serving and make a double batch.


Wonderfully light, healthy and nutritious. And it’s so easy to make – even the quinoa is cooked right in the pan!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapenos, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  • Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

  • Serve immediately.


christmas and after that…

January 5th, 2015

How did Christmas come and go so quickly? ¬†It seems like it was Thanksgiving Day last week. ¬†I’m getting sick of this “time flying” stuff! ¬†We had lots of fun Christmas parties. ¬†Isabelle received some fun gifts this year. ¬†The Isabelle American Girl doll and a wheelchair for her doll, along with a target version of the AG doll named Evelyne (which I love for obvious reasons). ¬†*sidenote: I dreamed of Marmar all night last night!*

Matt is back on his vegan-ish kick so I’m helping by finding good healthy things to cook. ¬†The top recipe so far is a black bean taco recipe, the best part is the avocado cilantro lime sauce. ¬†So good I ate some on a corn tortilla alone. ¬†I can see using that for a lot of mexican type recipes. ¬†The next in line is a lentil chili. ¬†Matt says this isn’t close to the first, but I disagree. ¬†I did not miss the meat in the chili one bit and it was really good!

Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Vegan, gluten-free

Makes about 8 tacos (can easily cut in half if desired)


Two 15 oz. cans black beans

1 cup salsa (restaurant-style or other)

1 tsp. cumin

Corn tortillas

Toppings of your choice: lettuce, tomato, onion, roasted red peppers, corn, avocado, cilantro, etc.


{For the sauce}

1/2 ripe avocado

3/4 cup cilantro, stems removed

Juice from 1 lime

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp. olive oil (I used coconut oil melted)

1 tsp. agave/honey

1/8 tsp. salt



Make the avocado sauce: in a food processor or blender, add all sauce ingredients and blend. Add a touch of water to thin if necessary, and tweak seasonings as desired. Set aside, or refrigerate if making ahead of time.

In a pan over medium heat, add black beans (rinsed and drained), salsa, and cumin. Heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally, until heated through. (Optional: mash beans after heating for a creamier filling.)

While the beans are heating, chop and prepare your toppings. Warm the tortillas if desired.

Assemble the tacos: spoon the black bean mixture in the center of the tortillas, drizzle a small amount of avocado sauce over the top, and add your toppings.


I preferred these small and rolled up…


Lentil Chili

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp. chili powder
1 (16 oz.) bag of brown lentils
2 (14.5 oz.) cans no-salt diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 (32 oz.) cartons vegetable stock or chicken stock
? cup fresh chopped cilantro
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Optional toppings: sour cream, cheddar cheese, croutons, tortilla chips, avocado

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and red bell pepper; saute the vegetables for 8 minutes or until onion is soft and lightly browned.
Stir in garlic and chili powder; cook for 1 minute.
Add lentils, tomatoes, bay leaf and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer partially covered for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
Transfer 3 cups of cooked chili into a food processor and process until pureed; add the pureed chili back into the remaining chili and stir to combine. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

I added a can of two different beans at the end for more texture, like black and kidney.
Stir in cilantro and serve.

I mostly post these recipes so I can find them later, but they are worth trying.


Happy 2015.

absent blogger.

December 6th, 2014

Yes, I know it’s been too long since I updates. ¬†Sorry. ¬†There has been so much going on it is hard to stop long enough to post anything on the blog. But, like I’ve said before my number one purpose of this blog is to look back at what was happening at different times and have those memories down for remembering. ¬†Amanda and I both talk about searching the blog for favorite recipes etc. ¬†It is a resource I enjoy and don’t want to completely let go.

It’s crazy that this year is almost half way over! ¬†I will graduate this summer and I’m so excited to have a break from school. ¬†I had a final and two huge assignments due the weekend of Thanksgiving. ¬†That was not fun!IMG_5388 (1)IMG_5673IMG_5706IMG_5702 (1)

We did a theme halloween dress up … me, iz, mr. bates, and chevy were bees and Brandy was the bee keeper! ¬†It was a fun night. ¬†Iz was a super cute bee.

Bailey is wrapping up this semester at UCO and still loving his job at clevyr.  He went deer hunting on accident and totaled his car.  Thankfully he and Faith were both fine.  The deer was not.

Matt has been making sour dough bread.  Everyday.  We are all enjoying the hot bread and getting a little spoiled!  We are also all going to the gym a little more to make up for the bread! ha.



September 8th, 2014

I know, I skipped July… so many good things happened in July like Izzy turning 12 years old and having a great birthday party at Cheesecake Factory; and Amanda had a great birthday with Lorenzo back from Colorado.

This was a great August. ¬†As I get older (still hanging on to the illusion of 29) I am developing a love/hate relationship with my birthday month. ¬†I LOVE birthday celebrating and gifts (who doesn’t?). ¬†The month started with a girls trip to Lake Tenkiller. ¬†Izzy’s beloved para who has moved on to student teaching came along too. ¬†We spent hours boating swimming and grilling. ¬†We stayed in a cabin on the lake and it was beautiful. ¬†The first boat trip out I flipped off of the tube when I was trying to get on and landed face first on the back of the boat. ¬†I came up thinking I would have a black eye but trying to get back on the tube and noticed everyone was looking at me funny. ¬†I busted my eye open right on my eyebrow and was bloody. ¬†After a little rest and some super glue I was good to go the next morning! ¬†Izzy loved being on the boat and got a lot of good vitamin D.

I had a great birthday and felt very special on that day.

Later in the month I flew to San Diego to meet up with my near drowning mom friends.  We had a great weekend staying by the water in downtown San Diego.  We spent a day at the San Diego Zoo, ate at really fun places downtown, encountered really weird people, walked a lot, laughed even more, and talked almost all night long a couple of nights.




Izzy also started middle school in August. ¬†She’s officially in sixth grade! ¬†Time flies, for real though.

Emelia is now a junior who drives herself to school. ¬†She’s actually a very good driver so that’s all good.

Amanda is settled in their new place in Norman, enjoying her job and new puppy Dingo aka Angel.

Bailey is in school at UCO this Fall and working now as a real employee not intern doing what he loves – programming!

Catching up…

July 4th, 2014

My intention was to blog monthly more for myself to have a record or diary of what has happened. ¬†You know life really goes by so fast it is sometimes hard to remember what happened even last week. ¬†By keeping a blog I can look back at what was going on even a year or five ago and see what was going on in our lives. ¬†I’m going to do a catch up recap and then hopefully I will be more diligent about keeping the blog updated. I left off in February…

The main things I remember about March were spring break and Emelia’s 16th birthday! ¬†We celebrated her birthday at Melting Pot. ¬†Another fun thing that happened in March was the arrival of Mr. Bates! ¬†We rescued him from our local shelter. ¬†He is a pug and I originally got him because it’s been Bailey’s dream to have a pug… but I fell in love with the little guy. ¬†He is my shadow and so sweet.








April was a sad month. ¬†Our friend Santana who also suffered a near drowning accident ¬†passed away. ¬†Lindsey, Santana’s mom has gone on the yearly retreats to Suncadia and we are friends. ¬†I flew to Phoenix the week of his funeral and visited the funeral home while they discussed his clothes and hair. ¬†I admittedly had a harder time the day of sweet Santana’s funeral. ¬†It was a beautiful service in an all glass prayer center next to their church on a mountain. ¬†So beautiful. ¬†Everyone wore Superman shirts to honor this little super hero. ¬†It’s amazing how our little non verbal angels are able to touch so many lives, and he touched MANY. ¬† This family is fractured by the loss of their boy, keep them in prayer if you can… ¬†I also met a fellow blogger while in Phoenix named Nancy Face. ¬†She was a breath of fresh air and I was so anxious to meet her face to face after knowing her and her daughter Lauren through blogging for so many years.




The month of May was busy busy busy! ¬†The last month of school is just a fun time in Izzy’s class. ¬†We all went to Stillwater for Special Olympics. ¬†We had a great time, such a fun group. ¬†Iz did great in her “events” and we were all so proud of her. ¬†The end of May we moved Amanda and Lorenzo home from Norman. ¬†Lorenzo has a fellowship with a Senator in Denver so will be gone for six weeks. ¬†We were so happy to have them both here. ¬†May also marked ten years since Isabelle’s near drowning accident. ¬†I’m not sure why milestones seem to hit like a brick sometimes. ¬†I think it’s just realizing how much time has actually passed and also where you are vs. where you thought you would be…



The class in our team shirts! Go TEAM MELANIE!




Showing off her gold and silver medals!








Iz with Nini




Gram and John came to cheer Iz on.



Iz with Melanie, brandy and her special pillow they brought her for the day!




At the torch parade.  Iz loved the sirens!





I love this picture of Isabelle with Brandy on fifth grade graduation day.



Me and Amanda were busy instructing the guys where to put things during the move!

The highlights for the month of June were… Mom’s birthday, Matt’s Birthday, and our 25th Anniversary. ¬†The month has been beating to a much slower tempo than the previous months. ¬†We are enjoying days at home, walks at the park (and runs!), having all the kids home under our roof has been wonderful. ¬†Amanda started working at JD Mccarty, Bailey is working at Clevyr doing programming and I am plugging away finishing my degree. ¬†Won’t be long now!



Having Matt’s birthday lunch at Poblano Grill… looked down the table to see the kids glued to their phones!




Beautiful flowers for my anniversary.



Amanda was so sweet to decorate for our anniversary.



Izzy picked out this my little pony at build a bear!



Amanda had fun building a hello kitty with Lorenzo too!

Hopefully I will take time to give a full post on the happenings in July.

february… valentines day and lots of baking

March 2nd, 2014

Recently I posted about Izzy using her eye gaze device to say that she likes to cook… This month has been all about letting Izzy enjoy cooking. ¬†Mom scheduled a day with her to make cupcakes for her class for Valentine’s Day. ¬†She enjoyed it very much, especially using the electric mixer.


Brandy had the same idea and planned for izzy to make cheesecake (her favorite) for her fifth grade class. ¬†Some of her BFF’s came to the room to help out and you can see by Izzy’s face she was really enjoying this.



Melanie sent pictures of more baking activities this week preparing for Ariana’s birthday celebration in their classroom. ¬†Izzy got to follow all the steps to make cupcakes.





Last Monday was dress as a disney character in school. ¬†Izzy’s friends from her fifth grade class came to her classroom at lunch and she talked about characters on her eye gaze. ¬†She has a minnie mouse costume but made it clear that’s not the character she wanted to be. ¬†When she was asked who she wanted to be she finally said, “Mr. Potato Head.” ¬†At first this really didn’t make sense to me and I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t choose a princess… but then remembered Amanda calls her little tato and has a stuffed mr. potato head that she has brought around before so it made a little more sense. ¬†Brandy was Jessie and Teresa was Woody. ¬†Together with Ariana as Mrs. Potato head they were a toy story group!

We had to go to hobby lobby for supplies for her costume…






Izzy seems to be so much happier lately, I think it has a lot to do with having the ability to express herself on the eye gaze. ¬†She asked for sweet tea… said she was hungry… she can choose potato head! ¬†Things I would never think she would want.


Sweet valentine…






Monday I took Bailey to the eye doctor. ¬†His vision is fine, but because he spends so much time at the computer he needed glasses for reading. ¬†They are prism glasses… ¬†We had a fun day getting glasses, lunch and groceries for him to take back to Stillwater. We went with nerd glasses.



Amanda and Lorenzo came down for the day and Amanda and I painted Izzy’s nails. It was a fun day!




Emelia has been playing with her hair color again! ¬†This is the new Emelia…. (she will be 16 in two weeks!)





That’s what’s been going on in February, as well as celebrating Bailey’s 20th birthday! ¬†It’s been a great (cold, but great) month. ¬†I am hoping to meet with handicapped van dealer in the next few weeks to start that journey. ¬†It’s not something I have looked forward to, but it is becoming increasingly necessary. ¬† Also I finished Business Law with an A!

eye gaze (prc)

January 26th, 2014

imageJust a quick update about the eye gaze device… Izzy is doing so great learning to communicate on her “talker.” ¬†She actually asked Brandy some questions! ¬†She asked, “how old are you?” “what are your hobbies?” “do you have pets?” ¬†Brandy asked her each question and she said I am eleven. ¬†I go to school, I like to color and I like to cook. ¬†She said she has many pets. ¬†So exciting to see her communicate. ¬†We brought it home this weekend and Brandy came over so we could do software update. ¬†She was sleepy but kept saying something was cold. ¬†Brandy said is your drink cold? Izzy cleared it which means yes, you understand.

The next step is to get a bar to attach to her chair so she can talk wherever she goes!


food for the holiday!

January 9th, 2014

I was talking to Amanda about the blog and she said she looks up recipes we’ve had by searching mylifeasannie and the food on google. ¬†I totally forgot to post a few of the good things we had to eat over the holidays …

I made the salted caramel cheesecake again this year but almost took all the salt out.  The recipe adds later in comments amounts are for kosher salt, which I use, but it was still to salty for this salt loving girl!  So salt at your own risk.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Serves 2
Ha ha! Just kidding‚ÄĒI‚Äôve served up to 20 people with one cheesecake. Ideally it probably serves about 10-12 people.
For the crust
About 15 graham crackers
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (note: I reduced this from 2 teaspoons. A number of folks in the comments said they found it was too salty. I made this recipe 4 times before posting this, and checked the measurements pretty carefully, I thought. However, I made it for Thanksgiving 2011 and realized that they WAY the crust is distributed in the pan can make it seem quite salty–if there’s a significant slope between the bottom and the sides, that fairly dense piece of crust can be overpowering to the rest of the recipe. So I’m recommending the reduction to the salt to account for the possible variations in the way people make the crust.)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, grind graham crackers to crumbs. (If you’re using premade crumbs, you want about 8 oz or 2 cups, and you’ll want to do all these steps in a bowl.) Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. With motor running, add butter through feed tube. Process for another few seconds until combined.
2.¬†Transfer the mixture to a 9‚ÄĚ or 10‚ÄĚ (I have a 10‚ÄĚ myself) springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pat crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, and up the sides about 2‚ÄĚ. Don‚Äôt worry if it‚Äôs not perfectly even around the top; you just want to be sure it‚Äôs deep enough to hold all the cheesecake mixture.
3. Bake crust until slightly brown. You’ll just be able to smell it. This will take anywhere from 10-12 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
For the cheesecake
3 8oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 13-14 oz. can dulce de leche
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ¬ľ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1. In a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment beat cream cheese until smooth, add dulce de leche and beat to combine.
2. Add flour and salt, beat to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. There should be no lumps.
3. Add the sugar and beat to combine.
4. Add the vanilla, and then beat in the eggs one at a time until just combined, about 30 seconds each. Don’t overbeat once the eggs are added; the cheesecake will puff up too much while baking, and the top will crack.
5. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
6.¬†Bake at 300 degrees F for 55 ‚Äď 65 minutes. The center will seem to be only slightly set, and will be wobbly if you nudge it. The sides will puff slightly.
7.¬†Cool completely on a rack, then cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight (I have gotten away with a 5 hour cooling, but I was on edge that it wouldn‚Äôt turn out; overnight is really best). When I put it in the refrigerator to set up, I remove the ring from my springform, and put the cheesecake on a cake stand. You can leave it in the springform if you don’t have a cake stand.
For the caramel
¬Ĺ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
¬Ĺ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl to combine. All those warnings about stirring caramel and brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystal formation? I avoid all that by just never stirring it at all. If I need to move it around the pan, I just swirl it.
2.¬†Continue cooking until the sugar turns golden brown, swirling occasionally. You‚Äôre looking for something that‚Äôs about the color of dark honey. The problem with caramel is that it goes from perfect to burnt in the blink of an eye, so just when you find yourself thinking, ‚ÄúAny second now‚Ķ‚ÄĚ pull it off the heat. It should take 3-5 minutes.
3. Off the heat, carefully add the butter, then the cream. Don’t wait until the butter is melted; toss in the butter, give it a whisk, then pour in the cream. It will foam up, seize, and otherwise look like a total failure. Persevere! Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue whisking.
4.¬†Return to medium low heat and whisk until smooth. (Added note: if your caramel is too thin, let it cook for awhile over a low heat. I’ve actually let it boil a bit–unintentionally–and just when I thought I’d ruined it, it turned out to be perfect.) Allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and pour caramel over the top. I try to encourage mine to pool in the middle, but if you’re more of a drip-down-the-sides type, you can go with that. I just think the drippy makes sort of a mess on my cake stand, but maybe that doesn’t bother you.
6. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator to let the caramel set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut in slices (it’s pretty rich) with a sharp knife, wiping the blade clean after every slice.

Now that was a long recipe huh?

The next one is easier. ¬†I made this chicken in the crock pot and then also made some black beans and nacho cheese. ¬†Mom brought regular taco meat… I had all the toppings and we had a do it yourself nacho/burrito/taco bar! ¬†It was really good and I liked the chicken really well.

Chicken Tacos


1 package of 1 oz Taco Seasoning packet
1 package of 1 oz Ranch seasoning packet
6 chicken breasts
1 can of Chicken broth
1 can of Chicken or Turkey Gravy
1/2 can water (when I say can I am talking about the gravy can, fill it halfway with water)
Sour cream and cheese and guac
Any toppings you want in your tacos


Add Taco seasoning, Ranch seasoning, chicken broth, water and gravy to crock pot and whisk together
Place chicken in crock pot
Cook on medium-high for 3 hours
Shred Chicken with forks and place shredded chicken back in the crock-pot
Let the chicken soak up the yummy juice in crock-pot for about 45 minutes.


I made this broccoli cheese soup in my big dutch oven not the crock pot like recipe calls for… but only because that worked for Christmas Day. ¬†We had so much food, but his soup was yummy and every drop was eaten.

broc soup

  • 1/3 cup butter, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 cups small diced broccoli florets*
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese, freshly & finely shredded


  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add garlic, flour and season lightly with salt and pepper then cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour in evaporated milk (whisk well to smooth). Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken then pour into a slow cooker along with chicken broth, diced broccoli and thyme. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH heat for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or low heat for 6 hours.

  • Turn heat to warm (or off) and stir in heavy cream, then add in shredded cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

  • *From about 20 oz broccoli crowns, large stems cut off and discarded (or reserved for another use), florets diced into small pieces.

And the last one I’ll share tonight is these cheesy chicken enchiladas. ¬†I made these for New Year’s Day. ¬†Our family spent the day with Izzy’s best boy and his family. ¬†It was a fun time and lots of good food!


Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
3 large or 4 small chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 1-oz. package taco seasoning
1 4.5-oz. can green chilies
6 10-inch flour tortillas
2-3 cups shredded White American cheese**
2 cups whipping cream
Salsa or pico de gallo

Poach the Chicken:
Place chicken in a large pot and cover by one inch with water. Add salt. Heat on medium-low heat, covered, until water begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and let chicken simmer (do not let water reach a full rolling boil) for about 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside. Reserve cooking liquid for rice if desired.

Make the Filling:
Sauté onion in olive oil until tender. Add cream cheese, taco seasoning and green chilies (with liquid) to onions. Reduce heat to low and stir until all ingredients are combined and cream cheese is melted.

Remove skin and bones from chicken if applicable (I highly recommend using bone-in breasts with skin any time you can as they are so much more flavorful and make a richer stock). Shred chicken with two forks and add to cream cheese mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Assemble Enchiladas:
Spray a 13×9 backing dish with cooking spray. Fill tortillas evenly with chicken mixture and roll into enchiladas. Place enchiladas in prepared baking dish, seam-side down.

Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over enchiladas. Pour whipping cream over cheese. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove aluminum foil and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has started to brown.

Serve with salsa and/or pico de gallo.

I cooked the chicken in the crockpot more along the lines of the taco chicken posted above for more flavor… and knowing I would appreciate a short cut on New Year’s Day!

Happy 2014.