Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And Here We Go Again.......

Well..it has been a while since I have posted and I am sorry about that.  This has been a year full of ups and downs and finally the craziness has subsided a little.

Starting after the New Year I will post often and have some great new information for you.

This will be a year that brings us back to the basics  The basics of life, food, and family.

As we enter this holiday season let's bring the focus back to the importance of the season...spending time with our family and loved ones.  Remembering what is important in the grand scheme of life.

Also, I found a great site for everyone to visit,  www.drsearsfamilyessentials.com This site has some great products and I hope that you find them useful for your own families.

Have a wonderful holiday season and see you in the new year.

city wife

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

No More Hangers.....???

This is it...School is starting in a few more weeks and I am so excited, as many mothers are I am sure.  As I went shopping for back to school clothes I had visions of coming home and hanging them up and getting everything organized before the chaos of the school year.  That plan went out the window about 15 minutes into the organizational process.

I ran out of hangers...

This wouldn't seem like such a big deal except for the fact that I have 100 hangers for only two boys.  What the heck?  When did this happen?

When did there become so much stuff for two boys.  This is the time to start purging....a lot.  No kid needs that many things and I only hang up T-shirts.

Excess is one of the things that breeds chaos.  When there is so much there is no peace and so much stress.  This will be the path of clearing the stuff.  And it has to start now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hello Again

Hello friends.  I am so sorry that it has been such a long time since I have posted.  Life here has been a roller coaster of emotions.

My mother passed away a month ago very unexpectedly and my husband's grandmother passed away the next day.  Life has been a bit topsy-turvy trying to maintain calm and order for the family and our kids.

I will be posting a recipe in the next week that I can remember my mother making all the time for me.  I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Salted Caramel Bars

I wanted to give you this amazing recipe for Salted Caramel Bars.  These are super yummy and really satisfy the need for that sweet and salty combo....which I love! 

Salted Caramel Bars

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 1/2 tablespoons butter

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. 
Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. (It is very important to resist the urge to stir..just leave it)  Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

Now for the Bars...get ready for your mouth to water!!


2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans 
1 cup chocolate chips or you can scrape pieces off a large chocolate bar
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups of the Salted Caramel Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch pan.
Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and softened butter in a bowl and mix until crumbly. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions.
Press half the crumb mixture in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips, and chopped pecans over the cooled crust. Mix the salted caramel sauce, and flour together, and drizzle over the chocolate chips, and nuts. (Mixing the flour into the Salted Caramel Sauce allows the sauce to thicken just a bit)  Top with the remaining crumb mixture.
Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust starts to brown. Allow the pan to cool, and refrigerate it until the caramel filling is set.

Cut into bars and enjoy!

Hope that you try these and let me know what you think!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Menu Planning and Almonds

Okay so here is what I like to do to plan my menus....my husband thinks that I am a bit OCD and this is where it comes out.  I am a visual learner and therefore like to see what I am doing.

I take a big wall calendar, but you can use any size that fits the post-its, and I usually plan between two and three weeks at a time.  I have 5 different color post-its...I use one color for Chicken dishes, one for Meats, one for Pastas, one for Seafood, and one for Veggie.

I write out the name of the dish, and the book and page number if I am using a cookbook, and place it on my calendar.  The great thing about the post-its is that I can move them around easily and make sure that I am not doing two of the same type of dish in a row.  This is a huge timesaver for me and lets me easily shift things if I need to.  I can also quickly dispose of the post-its with dishes that we do not like and will not want again, while saving the post-its and shifting them down a few weeks when we really enjoy a dish.

Hope that you try this and let me know how it works for you!

Almonds and Vanilla


1 egg white, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups whole roasted, unsalted almonds

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Beat the egg white with the vanilla extract

Add the almonds and stir so that all the almonds are coated

In a separate bowl combine sugar, salt and cinnamon and then add to the almond mixture.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool on wax paper.  It will be tempting to taste but you must let them cool down!!!

Eat and Enjoy, and share if you really want to.

Friday, March 11, 2011

menu planning and salted caramel..

Hey everyone...I don't know about you but menu planning is always a somewhat daunting task.  There are so many choices and on top of that the picky eaters just make it more difficult.  Thank you my oldest child!!  I have got a great idea for you coming tomorrow...let's just say it involves post-its.  Did I spark your interest?

Also, tomorrow I am going to put up a great recipe for a salted caramel and chocolate bar...yummy!

Hope to see you then......

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gorgonzola Artichoke Chicken Pasta

This is a super easy recipe...I used to order this at a place called La Vache in La Jolla before it closed.  I loved this dish and tried several different combos before finding this one.

The recipe varies depending on how many people.  The one below is for 2 people with enough for leftovers.  This recipe usually takes about 15 minutes total to cook.

1/2 box of Penne or any other tube pasta
1 container (usually 6 ounces) of gorgonzola cheese crumbles.  I usually use Treasure Cave because it melts pretty easily
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup - 1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 can Artichoke quarters (or 2 depending on your taste)
Cooked Rotisserie Chicken (precooked from the store is perfect)
Some sort of White wine (optional, to taste)
cracked black pepper

Cook Pasta according to the directions

While the water boils remove chicken from bone and cut into cubes and drain artichoke quarters

Heat large skillet and put 1 tablespoon butter in to melt

Add 1 can evaporated milk

Let this heat until a very soft bubbling forms in the center

Add gorgonzola cheese crumbles and stir the mixture (you must stir the mixture often to melt the cheese and keep the sauce from burning)

After crumbles are melted, add in 1/2 cup cream (you can use more evaporated milk instead of cream to cut calories)

Add wine to taste

Add chicken and artichokes to the sauce mixture, you can add mushrooms or other items that you would like at this point

Keep stirring........look at the sauce and if you would like more liquid this is the time to add more cream or evaporated milk to reach the consistency that you would like

Add cracked black pepper to taste

Drain penne or tube pasta and add to the sauce mixture


Sunday, March 6, 2011

I am going to become Amish.......

I am going to become Amish......for at least a few hours a week!

The simplicity of the Amish life is something that I long for, at least for a few hours a week.  I love the life that I live and I certainly enjoy my electric life but for a few hours a week I want to unplug, and let the joy of my children really take me in.

With life being so fast paced every day just seems to fly.  Get home from picking up the boys just in time for dinner, homework, read a book and bed.  When do we truly get to just sit back and enjoy the way their face lights up when they use their imagination.  Many of you might be sitting there thinking what is imagination, everything is done for them through video games and TV.

This is why I am becoming Amish...for those few hours to just let imagination run wild and enjoy the simplicity of life.

On that note,today we went to the La Jolla Farmers Market.  For those of you who have not been to this market, it is GREAT!  The vendors and farmers are fantastic and love to talk about and explain their product.  The kids also love going and certainly try things they would never try if I gave it to them at home. (Walnuts and raw carrots?)  Today we bought some purple carrots, kale, strawberries, and of course Pasta and bread.

We buy all of our fresh pasta from Peggy's Pasta.  They are fantastic and no matter what you use with the pasta, it tastes amazing.  They also have a ton of flavors and something for everyone.  Today we purchased Semolina (eggless) fettuccine....mouth is currently watering. Tomorrow I will put the recipe up for an amazing GORGONZOLA ARTICHOKE CHICKEN PASTA!  This is such a yummy and easy dish that will make you look like you are super talented in the kitchen.

Peggy's Pasta also has sauces, breads, eggs, and avocado oils infused with the most mouth watering ingredients.  This is one place that I stoop every week and no matter what I purchase I find myself wanting to invite them over just to teach me all of their tricks.  DELICIOUS!

Today, on my quest for simplicity, I purchase Amish White Bread.  OH MY.  I tasted this today and it literally melted in my mouth.  I must learn how to make this.  This is also from Peggy's Pasta and let me tell you they are what we should all be looking for.  Their products are all natural, no preservatives, and have no added sugar.  They bake this bread everyday and the one that I purchased at 9 am was taken out of the oven at 5am.  Does it get any better than that?

There is a great quote from Julia Child on the bag, "How can a nation be great if their bread tastes like kleenex?"  Well put Julia!  This bread certainly doesn't taste like kleenex....neither does the fig and honey loaf, or the ciabatta.  I will be trying a new bread next week...because I am a carb addict!

Peggy's Pasta is not only a great company to buy wonderful food from but they are friendly and family oriented.  You truly feel that they know you and that they are cooking and baking so that you can feel at home!

You can go on to their website at: www.peggyspasta.com to check them out...and I certainly encourage you to do that.

So until tomorrow....when you come back for the gorgonzola artichoke chicken pasta recipe.....turn off your phone and television...and become Amish for a few hours and check out Peggy's Pasta!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another great Fennel recipe....Steak and Fennel sandwiches

Since I have talked to a few people who are wondering about some other recipes for Fennel I thought I would upload another...super easy recipe for Steak and Fennel sandwiches.

Ingredients: Fennel, Steak (whatever cut you like..I usually buy a cheaper cut since it will be in small strips), tomatoes, course ground mustard and mayo, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and ciabatta bread.

Buy enough steak for however many you are serving.

Slice thinly (I have found that keeping it cold or freezing it for about 15 minutes helps me to slice it more easily.

Slice the fennel into thin strips

In a pan add olive oil and when hot add the meat and the fennel.  Both can go in at the same time.

Add spices to taste.  I use garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.

Cook until fennel is soft and meat is cooked the way that you like.

Meanwhile, slice a loaf of ciabatta bread (then long and thin loaf works best) and toast slightly in oven or toaster.  Mix course ground mustard and a bit of mayo together and spread on the bread.  Add sliced tomatoes and the fennel and steak.

This is super easy and takes about 10 minutes to make.  Enjoy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sausage and Fennel Orecchiette

Here is the recipe for tonight....super easy and very yummy!  Try it and let me know what you think.

Sausage and Fennel Orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped fine
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 (6-ounce) pork sausage links, casings removed
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 handful walnuts, hand crushed
  • 1/2bulb fennel (or more depending on your taste), thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for seasoning
Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and the sausages and using a wooden spoon, break up the sausages into small pieces as you brown them. Add the fennel and bay leaves and continue to cook.
Once the sausage is golden brown, add the wine to the pan, and stir away, let the alcohol evaporate, then lower the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the walnuts and let the sauce slowly simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions.
Add the cooked pasta to the sausage pan and toss. Add grated Parmesan, to taste. Serve immediately.

And we are off.......

Okay everyone...Just wanted to let you know that I will be posting a new recipe tonight.  I can't wait to make this simple dinner tonight using fennel and sausage.  Don't be afraid!

Fennel is a wonderful add in to so many recipes and picks up the other flavors that you use.  This is going to be an awesome pasta recipe that can be made quickly and suit a variety of tastes.

Check back tonight for the recipe and tomorrow I will talk about my easy way to create a very usable dinner menu that will save you a ton of time!

Also, please send this link to all of your friends.  Everyone can use some ideas to create a simpler life to bring their family back to the basics!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No dream comes true until you wake up and go to work

I love this Amish proverb.  It is simple.

Over the last few years life has become a series of crazy days and nights in which I feel my family and I have no time.  I am 34 and a mother of two boys and have a wonderful husband.  I should be enjoying time with my family but instead, I feel as though time slips away daily......and the clock just keeps on ticking.

I look at the simpler times (at least in my mind) of the 1940's and 1950's when families spent time together...TV was limited......and we generally spent more time caring for each other.

My thinking really started after Christmas when I saw the volcano of toys......this probably wouldn't bother me so much if I were in Hawaii!  There was just so much stuff everywhere and in everything.  Toys, processed food, junk, chaos....enough already!!!

Don't get me wrong....I am not going to talk about moving to a farm and getting rid of everything I own......I love shopping.....I love Target and I love my Starbucks Coffee (hello to everyone at my Starbucks Store)......but I want to work on bringing my family back to basics.

Join me on the journey!