Aug 8, 2015

Frozen Hot Chocolate

It's just so hot here right now.  
Most of the year I love Arizona, but August....well, not so much.   

My 14 yo son broke his hand pretty badly this summer and required surgery, 
so our usual summer activities of bowling, indoor trampolines, etc were OUT.
The kids and I were looking for new places to go to stay out of the heat.

We tried a new movie theater across town that actually has waiters 
and serve you whatever your heart desires 
WHILE you're watching a new release movie on the big screen.
I assumed that food would be second-rate, but seriously, it was awesome!
I had never heard of it before, but on the dessert menu was frozen hot chocolate.
Ohmygosh!  It was so divine!!!
I had to try to replicate it at home. 
If you're really up for a true taste comparison, try the original at 
Arizona isn't their only location, so maybe there's one near YOU.

But in the meantime, 
here's MY version of...


1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup regular milk (I use 2%)
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 scoop vanilla ice cream

Thoroughly blend in small blender (ie Magic Bullet)

In 2 large cocoa mugs put 1 full scoop of vanilla ice cream in each.
Divide the blended mix between the two mugs.
Top with whipped topping and sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

This is my idea of heaven!

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

The very first time my husband and I went to Mexico together
was while we were dating and it was amazing! 
It was partly amazing due to my discovering 

One particular evening I wasn't in the mood for heavy tacos, 
and honestly, I'm not even really a fan of regular shrimp cocktail,
but that night I must have seen it at someone else's table
and decided to give it a try.

From then on, I always looked forward to our trips so that I could order more!

After we'd been married a couple of years, there was a new Mexican restaurant that opened up near our home that advertised the same Mexican shrimp cocktail that I thought I could only get in Mexico.  Unfortunately that restaurant only stayed open a short time.  :(
I finally decided to do some research for a recipe 
(because I wanted it for my whole family),
and after a bit of tweaking to make it my own, 
this is what I have come up with.
It's a family favorite!

The best part is, it's very healthy and totally guilt free!
Eat all you want, my friends!
It won't make you fat!!!

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
64 oz Clamato juice (I buy a 2-pack at Costco)
1 lb medium shrimp (I buy the frozen from Costco and cut into halves or thirds)
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup peeled, diced cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped celery 
2+ cups freshly chopped tomatoes, with juice
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeno, minced
2 avocados, cut into chunks
2 TB lime juice, fresh or bottled
1 TB hot sauce (Tobasco or whatever you've got)
1 tsp salt, or to taste

Just chop everything up and put it all into a large bowl together.  
Stir gently.  
It's great to eat right away, but it's even better if you make it the night before so the flavors have a chance to blend together more.  
It's so light and refreshing, and totally delicious!  
My favorite way to eat it is to squeeze some lime juice right on top of my bite, and eat it with saltine crackers.  
That's the way it's served in Mexico!

This juice base tastes great and makes your life easy!

Speaking of easy, as much as I love fresh shrimp, 
this kind from Costco is already cooked, shelled, 
tails off, deveined, and ready to go.  
I don't even pre-thaw it.  
Just chop it up and you're ready to go.  
I use half of one of these bags (it's a 2 lb bag) for a single recipe.  
Although I often double it.


Jun 20, 2015

Mango Marshmallow Poke Cake


Pillsbury has come out with these new flavored cakes that are pretty awesome!
For Christmas I had given Maddie the Blue Raspberry and Key Lime sets.
The other day I saw some brand new flavors I'd never seen before,
such as Orange, Pink Lemonade and Tropical Mango!

It was close to Trace's birthday and he absolutely LOVES mango,
so I thought I'd come up with something new and fun just for him.

Mango Marshmallow Poke Cake
What you'll need:

1 Pillsbury tropical mango premium cake mix
Coconut oil or regular vegetable oil, melted
2 small boxes banana cream instant pudding
1 can Pillsbury mango frosting
12 oz thawed Cool Whip
7 oz marshmallow creme
Nilla wafers cookies

Bake cake as directed in a 9 x 13 pan.  I used coconut oil instead of regular vegetable oil to give it an extra tropical flavor.  The quantity of oil is the same for each one.  You can definitely taste the hint of coconut in the cake.  It tastes great!

After cake has almost completely cooled, poke lots of holes in it.  This allows the pudding to get down into the cake and make it super moist and extra yummy.

Prepare the 2 boxes of pudding as directed and pour all over the cake.  Try to push the pudding down into the cake with the flat side of the spatula to get as much pudding down into it as possible.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to make the next step much easier.

Next, whip together the canned mango frosting, the Cool Whip, and the marshmallow creme.  Spread it over the top of the cake.  

Crush about 10 Nilla wafers (or more if you want) and sprinkle over the top of the cake.  The easiest and least messy way to do this is to put them in a gallon ziplock bag and roll over them with a heavy rolling pin. 

Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to eat.

This cake is very moist (not soggy) and delicious!  

Feb 6, 2015

Best Tomato Dip, Salsa and Guacamole

By request 
here are the recipes for the three dips we served on Super Bowl Sunday, 
as seen on my Instagram and Facebook feeds.

Tomato Dip
Manna to the Gods!  
I have two kids who hate tomatoes, but they’ll still practically drink this dip. 
I got this recipe when I was pregnant with #4…he’s 14 years old now.  
My friend Sherri brought a huge bowl of it to a Relief Society dinner
and after just one bite I didn’t care what else was on the menu.  
Sherri was also very pregnant at the time.  
We were just two big pregnant ladies downing a bowl of heaven on a chip!

I suggest doubling, or even tripling this recipe if you’re taking it to a get-together that has more than 3 people.

Tomato Dip
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Beau Monde (the secret ingredient)
1 tsp garlic salt
Mix, then add:
3-4 chopped tomatoes
1 bunch 6-7 chopped green onion

Mix and serve with Scoops tortilla chips cuz you will want to scoop up a bunch in each bite!
Beau Monde is the secret heavenly ingredient in the tomato dip.
Also very great in any cheese ball. 
I’m tellin’ ya, it’s amazing!   I don’t even know why. 
It just IS.
Why yes, I DO buy this in bulk through Amazon. 
I can’t find it in the grocery stores anymore.
Boo to that, but yay for bulk!  
Go in with a friend or two and split it if you can. 
If not, then oh well, get it anyway.

Super Easy, Super Fast, Super SUPER Good Salsa
I’ve had legit Mexicans born in Mexico tell me this is as good or better than their mama’s salsa. 
You be the judge.
We have some on hand almost all of the time.  
It’s great on eggs, baked potatoes, anything, 
but my favorite is just good old-fashioned tortilla chips.  
It’s like our ketchup.  
I got this recipe from a sweet local gal Chelsey, 
who always seemed to have just made a batch when I showed up to her MIL’s house.  
(musta had my good-salsa beacon on).  
So yeah, I ate way more than my share at their house.  
I’m curious where Chelsey got this recipe because 
she’s white as snow and blonde.  
Pretty sure it didn’t come from her Latin descendents.  ;)

2 regular sized cans of chopped tomatoes (just plain)
2 green chiles (I buy the big can of Hatch Chiles from Costco and just use two big chiles and a little juice from the can)
½ bunch of rinsed cilantro
1 bunch green onions
Garlic salt to taste
8 (AND I MEAN 8) Tepin chili seeds 
(if you like your salsa REALLY hot, then go ahead and put 10-12 in there…I dare ya!

6 ingredients… 2 from a can, 2 fresh, 2 seasonings…that’s it!
Put everything in the blender and only blend for a few seconds…just til the veggies are chopped really well.  You don’t want it to be a blob of foam...just a blended bunch of veggies. 
The tepins are the secret spicy ingredient in this salsa and it’s the only thing I’ve ever used tepins for.  It’s getting harder and harder to find these too.  What is wrong with grocery stores these days?  I found it last time at Fry’s and bought several bags…it’s super cheap.


Avocados are another food that I could eat on just about anything.  And really, when it comes to my guac, I’m just wingin it.
Also, when you’re cutting up an avocado, there’s a ridiculously easy way to do it.  Cut the avocado in half, twist and pull on the seed with a big sideways knife, then with a little knife  cut lines in both directions down to the skin and scoop out with a spoon.  There!  You already have your chunky avocado!

4 ripe avocados, chunky chopped
¼ cup sour cream
Garlic salt to taste
Finely chopped jalepeno to taste, canned or fresh (if using canned, then add a little of the juice too)
Chopped tomato (I use the tiny romas, so I usually cut up about 2)
Diced fresh yellow or white onion

Mix lightly so that the avocado is barely creamy.  I like it best with a bit of chunk still in it.

These are all super easy recipes and worth every bit of effort.  
You will definitely be a success at your next social gathering with any of them. 


Dec 14, 2014

Twenty-One Handmade Ornaments - Annual Exchange

We've had TWO ornament exchanges this year,
so I have lots of wonderful handmade ornaments to share with you!
TWENTY-ONE, to be exact.
Ohhhh, how I love all of this year's ornaments.
Every year they get better and better!

These snowglobes were handcrafted by me.
You can find a great step-by-step HERE.
Besides the snowmen, I also made them with Santas and vintage elves.
If you live in the Phoenix area, a great place to get these little mini
figurines is Auntie Em's in Old Glendale.
I had searched high and low on Etsy and 
everyplace else on the internet, 
with no luck at all 
(unless I wanted to spend a fortune...which I did not).
Auntie Em's had a great fun selection! 

Cristy's stuffed owl
This will not get packed away.
I plan on leaving this bird out all year long!

Kathy's stuffed star made from a cut-up quilt. 
Get a load of that TINY gingerbread man cookie cutter!

Rachele's stuffed mitten.
Um, I think I just became a HUGE fan of pink in Christmas!
(sidenote:  just look at that little hand-stamped set of mittens!)

Sandy's Santa ball. 
I gasped when I first saw it!
Simple and adorable!

Tracie's Christmas-filled cone. 
That cone is about as tall as my pinky finger.
 I'm talkin tiny candy canes and ball ornament. 
I love TINY!

Rachele's fabric-wrapped candy canes.
She always adds an extra special touch with her stamping.
And you should see those sparkly stars up close!  Yummy!

Kathy's wooden spool and metal star.
I always love a bit of country in Christmas!
Again, more darling hand-stamping.

Suzi's wooden block presents.
I'm a big fan of the black and copper!
I don't think I would have ever thought to use those colors
and I love 'em!

Ann's jute-wrapped candy canes.
I love the extra special packaging too!

I made this one also, with tiny squares of fabric and about a million straight pins.

Dianna's bead-wrapped wire.
This gives me ideas!

Ann's decoupaged jute ball. 
It's a bit bigger than you might think.  And totally cool!

Cristy's handpainted Santa on Christmas tree-shaped wood.
I mean, WOW, I was blown away with the details on this.
She also painted Santa's on stockings and stars.
What an imagination!
It looks like something you would buy in a 
charming European Christmas shop, right?!

Suzi's jute-wrapped star with hanging bells.
I had to prop it up on the bag and a box just to get the whole thing in the picture.
Super cute!

Dianna's JOY blocks.
Joy in every direction!  Dude, it spins!

Tracie's wine cork.
Brilliant idea for wine corks!  
She just asked a bartender and he gave her a bunch.  
And I absolutely love the detail on my cork!

Tami's sparkly cupcake.
It looks so yummy, I wish I could eat it!

Sandy's paper-wrapped spools.
This is so stinkin fun!
I want to make something with spools now!

Shar's button covered tag.
I have a 'thing' for tags, and this is a super cute one!
Great way to use your button collection too!
WHAT?  You don't have a button collection?

This one isn't exactly an ornament, but it could be.
Shar's nativity family.
Clean and simple.
And perfect!

So now you wanna know what I did with them, right?
Since my main tree is all white, gold and silver ornaments, 
I needed a different, yet just as good of a place to put these gorgeous ornaments.

How about my 3 little alpine trees that I've had for like, 20 years?!
I've never put anything on them before,
but now I'm not sure if I ever want to take these ornaments off!

Be sure to check out my other ornament post too!

May all your Christmases be 

For more ornament inspiration,

Dec 13, 2014

Another Fantastic Shop...The Old Brick House Vintage Market

I don't know how Rachele found this place, but we checked it out yesterday

is located in the old charming area of Mesa, 
right on the main drag.
It's only open the 2nd weekend of each month.
(see dates and hours below)

Yeah, the JUNK WAS GOOD!

Rachele found these two letters sitting alone...just the two of them.
Her last name begins with 'F'.
So yep, kinda cool!

If only I had a wall for this!  Love it with the wreath!

 Suzi, didn't you mention you were looking for frames? 

I came sooooo close to bringing these beauties home with me.
Sometimes I hate it when I resist.

 They had posted a photo of this charming old playhouse on Instagram
and I just had to see it with my own eyes!
If only I had a place to put such a huge thing
and if only I wanted to spend a chunk of money.
(honestly, there are lots of nicely priced affordable things too)
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