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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pork Chops with Jalapeno Peach BBQ Sauce

I've recently discovered an awesome site called the Homesick Texan. Her recipe index is amazing! If I could make all my meals from now on from her recipes, I'd be in heaven. Sigh.... if only. But seriously, there will be at least one a week in my dinner rotation if I can help it. 

Last night I started with the Pork Chops with Jalapeno Peach BBQ Sauce.  It certainly didn't disappoint. The sauce recipe makes enough that you can use the sauce later for grilling chicken or whatever you fancy.

Peaches are just starting to show up here, but I was lucky enough to find some fresh ones and not have to use frozen. Although I'm sure if you did use frozen, it'd be fine. So I gathered my jalapeno, garlic, onion and peaches and prepared them for roasting. 

Roasted those babies until they were slightly blackened & softened - and smelled delish!

Then I peeled the skins of the peaches and threw everything into the food processor, along with a few other ingredients.

Blend until smooth.

Transfer to a sauce pan and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for about 20 minutes.

Spread a few tablespoons on top of each chop... like my nice big chops? They're from the family farm. 

Broil on one side for about 5-7 minutes, flip, add some more sauce and broil again for 5-7 minutes. I probably should've broiled mine a little closer to the coils and got more of a broiled char to them but I was afraid of getting the tops done before the inside meat was. Next time I will raise it up a shelf.

Add some fresh veggies and a side, and you're all set! I had some brussels sprouts that needed to get used, so we had those and some roasted golds.

Head on over to the Homesick Texan and make these chops! Tonight we are having her Jalapeno Cheese Buns for burgers on the grill!

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Cinco de Mayo Birthday

Wellllllll, it's that time of year again. Along with the fun and awesome food & drinks of celebrating Cinco de Mayo, comes another notch on the 'ole birthday belt. This will be the 45th notch....I think I can officially admit I'm middle aged, right? 

Anywho... my birthday gift to YOU - my awesome readers - is I will share some great Cinco de Mayo recipies and freebie and/or deals that I get this time of year just for being the birthday girl. You should make sure you sign up/register for them so when your birthday comes around, you can feel pretty special too! ;)

Victoria's Secret - free $10 gift card in the mail the week of my birthday.
Noodles & Co. - free bowl of noodles via email to be used anytime during the month of May. 
Vera Bradley - birthday card in the mail with 40% off  one item or 20% off entire purchase at an outlet. Valid during the month of May. (very cute birthday card too!)
Starbucks - free birthday drink via email. If you have the Starbucks app on your phone, your freebie is automatically loaded in your Rewards.

I'm sure there's many more that I don't know about, so if you have some to share, please do in the comments! 

I've got my birthday menu planned, so I thought I'd share the great recipes with you that we will be enjoying!

Starting with appetizers, no party is complete without chips, salsa & cheese dip. I've made the salsa and cheese dip several times already and they are both so good!

The Homemade Restaurant Salsa is from Brown eyed Baker. So easy and the best ever!

This awesome Queso Blanco Dip is from Seeded at the Table. You've got to try it!

I have not made this Black Bean Hummus from chef in training yet, but we will be having it on my birthday. Not sure if this qualifies as Mexican for the beans or Middle Eastern for the hummus but I'm going with it!

For the main course, Tortilla Pie. This is the recipe I grew up with, as it was one of our favorites that our mom made. She always made it in the crockpot, but I've adapted it so that I can throw it in the oven because sometimes I don't plan ahead enough to have everything in the crockpot on time. 

It's soooo good! A flour tortilla smothered with refried beans, taco meat, enchilada sauce, black olives, corn, cheese, chilis or jalapenos... you really can add whatever you desire. I keep layering those in a springform pan and bake in the oven. Then top each piece with some sour cream and salsa! For the crockpot version, use round, hard tostada shells and layer up the crockpot. In the end it's more of a scoop it out vs. a slice but it all tastes the same! Recipe is at the end of this post.

For dessert, I came across these Cinco de Chili Chocolate Cupcakes on Pinterest from AllRecipes.com. They look amazing! (photo credit to registered cook by the name of CookinBug.) I LOVE spicy chocolate and I'm so excited to try these!

Various beverages to be determined, but no celebration is complete without this.... 

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? If so, how? Share some of your favorite recipes with us!

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TORTILLA PIE  (printable version)

1 lb ground beef (or cooked shredded chicken if you prefer)
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 box of tosada shells (crockpot version) OR 1 pkg of flour tortillas (oven version) I use the 10" tortilla size to fit in my 10.5" springform pan
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can refried beans
sliced black olives
diced chilis or jalapenos
1 can whole kernel corn
shredded cheddar cheese (or pepperjack, or whatever you prefer)
Toppings for serving: sour cream, salsa, green onions etc.

Several of the ingredients you can make from scratch (enchilada sauce, refried beans, taco seasoning, etc. and feel free to do so. For the last pie I made, I did make my own refried beans and enchilada sauce. The ingredients listed will make enough for the crockpot version. But since I used homemade enchilada sauce and refried beans, I don't recall the exact amount used. I will not be using homemade this next go around, so I will make sure I update this post with exact amounts for the larger tortillas used. It's possible you may need 2 cans of beans and sauce.

Cook the ground beef; drain fat and add taco seasoning and cook according to directions. 

For crockpot version:
Take a tostada shell and spread beans, meat, enchilada sauce, olives, chilis/jalapenos, corn and cheese on it. Place in bottom of crockpot. Do this same step for remaining tostada shells until crockpot is full, gently pressing down the pile with a spatula as you build up. Top with remaining cheese and other remaining ingredients, just put into the crockpot down the sides. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Serve with toppings of choice.

Tip: you can use regular taco shells if you have those on hand. I just break in half and lay each half in the crock pot to make a circle. It takes more time, but it's do-able.

For oven version:
Heat oven to 350F. Take a flour tortilla and spread beans, meat, enchilada sauce, olives, chilis/jalapenos, corn and cheese on it. (I find it easiest to spread the beans on the tortilla, put in the pan and then add the rest instead of trying to lift the loaded tortilla in the pan.) Place in bottom of springform pan. Do this same step for remaining tortillas until pan is full. Top with a layer of cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is thoroughly melted. Let sit 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with toppings of choice.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Colorblock T-Shirt Maxi Skirt

Some of you may already know about an email subscription you can register for from All Free Sewing which provides you with an email of lots of free sewing patterns for all kinds of cool stuff. I get one approximately each day, sometimes less. It shows you their top 10-15 or so choices so it's an easy read, you can pick and choose what to look at. I enjoy it, I've come across some neat projects. Anyway... I came across the link to a colorblock dress. When I clicked on the link, it was a prego lady wearing it - no prego lady wear needed here! - but, I thought the concept would be great as just a skirt. 

So I grabbed a few t-shirts and decided in what order I'd like to have the colors. I found an orange one that had grease stains on it, so I used what I could before the stains. (I know, I have some neat aprons and I reeeeally need to get in the habit of wearing them more!) Try to use t-shirts that are close in size so you don't have to do any adjusting. But, if you like one that's a larger size, you can always just take it in. Maxi skirts can be flowing or tigher, so depending on your preference, you can use bigger t-shirts so that it's more loose. I used my own sized t-shirts for my own fit. 

Let's begin. I didn't take pictures of the first gray section as I didn't think I was going to be doing a tutorial on this and I was really trying to get it done before I had to pick up my second grader from school. But once I got started, I thought I'd better take some pics. Basically, use a large section of t-shirt as your starting piece, adding about another 5-6" to your colorblock width so you can fold it down, like yoga pant style. If you can use the bottom piece of a t-shirt from the hem, all the way up to the armpit, and then use the bottom hem of the t-shirt as your top hem of the skirt that folds down.
I used a white piece from an old t-shirt. I did not measure, just eye balled an appropriate width.

I turned the gray starting piece & white piece inside out, and pinned together. I sewed a 1/4" seam allowance. This particular white shirt did not have side seams, but if you do, match them up.

Next came the orange t-shirt, I could use the piece above the stains and below the arms, so that's where I cut. Again, no measuring for width, just used what I could.

Matched up my seams to what looked like was lined up with the gray since there wasn't any with the white, and sewed a 1/4" seam allowance.

At this point, it's getting a little exciting that it's taking shape!

My last color was an aqua piece from this t-shirt. I wanted to take advantage of the hemmed bottom of this one, so I made sure this would be my bottom piece, then I wouldn't have to hem anything. At this point I tried on the skirt and had my daughter measure from the bottom of the skirt to my ankle bone, plus 1/4" for seam allowance. This would complete the skirt.

Following the other pieces, I pinned together, matching up the seams and sewed. 

And there you have your upcycled maxi skirt! (Not a fan of being the model!) and I normally would not wear these shoes, but I was getting ready for a parent advocate meeting at school so I didn't have time to chase down some flip flops or something summery!

 I may try the whole dress thing starting out with a regular t-shirt as the top like the original tutorial.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Mixer Makeover

This will probably be one of my shortest and easiest posts but it's one that excites me the most! (haha, like that rhyme there?)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Kitchen Aid mixer. I probably use it almost every day. But there's just one teeny tiny thing about it that always sort of bugged me. It was stark white. I'm not a white person - I am a cream person. I do not have any white walls in my house, they are cream. You would be awfully hard pressed to find anything white in my house, besides... well, my Kitchen Aid mixer. We got it for a wedding gift from my parents and I can not express enough how much I love it (and my mother has approved this post!) But 8 years ago, they didn't have the color options they have available today.

For the past few years that I've been on Pinterest, I've noticed the pins where people have done a mixer makeover. Mind you, some of them are with pretty funky colors and have flames & decals, etc. I'm not looking for that.... I just want mine not white. I've been putting it off for a long time because I've been scared to do it. I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good mixer. But, I can safely say I've had a few more DIY projects under my belt since my first inclination to do this, so now I felt much more comfortable. Against the brow scrunching and scrutinizing of my husband, I forged ahead.

First I purchased Rust-Oleum's Appliance paint in Almond at my local home center.

Then I got to work taking the mixer apart. There is a cap on the back of the mixer that hides the wires, etc. that comes off. I then taped up the wires by covering them with a piece of plastic wrap and tape. Took the front knob off where you would put attachments and the metal Kitchen Aid band comes off with 2 screws from the back.  The rest of the knobs, screws and the thing where the whisk attaches to, I taped. I gently used an Exacto knife to trim the tape around the screws. Don't forget to tape the cord too.

Following paint can instructions, start painting your mixer! Make sure you paint evenly and a few coats.

After it's dry, put your mixer back together.

I'm even more in love with my "new" mixer!! (see, my husband had nothing to worry about!)

The before (white) and the after (cream):

All is well in my cream world!

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Loaded Zucchini & Bacon Frittata

We love having breakfast for dinner and do frequently when I'm under the gun to try and come up with something quick for dinner. I love omelets, but the stress of not over stuffing it with ingredients and not having it come out like scrambled eggs is too much, so I usually just make scrambled eggs with all the fixin's in them. 

But, the Italians were smart when they came up with their version of the omelet... the frittata. It's an omelet you can load up with goodies and it comes out in perfect shape to eat. Mind you, it's more like a piece of pie, but still... everything is all in pretty form! And when I say loaded... you can put waay more stuff in them than an omelet! Throw in whatever you have on hand.

For this particular frittata I went with zucchini, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, onion, black & kalamata olives and feta cheese. See what I mean by you can load up? I started by cutting up 3 pieces of bacon and a small amount of onion. I cooked those together in a 10.5" iron skillet, removing some bacon grease when done. I'm on a skillet kick - this is my third night in a row cooking in my skillet. I love it!!

Then I threw in the zucchini and mushroom, cooking it all together for a few minutes.

I then added the tomatoes and olives. Aren't all those colors great?

In a separate bowl I whisked together 9 eggs, some milk, pepper, dry mustard and basil. 

Add the egg mixture to your pan of veggies.

Add some feta!

Mmm... doesn't that look yummy? And no stress to keep it in an omelet shape!

Turn the heat down to med-low and cover. 

 Cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until you feel the middle is firm. 

Top with cheese of your choice and stick under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is just starting to brown. Remove and let cool. Frittata is best served room temperature or cooler, but I'm not a "cold food" kind of person, so I just let it cool down some and enjoyed it warm. And enjoy we did!!

I served this with a side salad.  And there was one lone piece left.

What do you or will you put in your frittata?
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Loaded Zucchini & Bacon Frittata (printable version)

chopped onion, to taste
3 pieces of bacon, chopped
1/2 small can of mushrooms or 2-3 medium fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced & cut into quarters
12-15 grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
several black olives, sliced
several kalamata olives, sliced
9 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp basil
salt & pepper to taste
crumbled feta cheese
fresh grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese for topping

In a deeper skillet, cook bacon and onion. Remove excess grease, keeping about 1/2 tablespoon. Add mushrooms and zucchini and cook on medium heat for a few minutes, moving ingredients around in the pan. Add tomatoes and olives and cook a few minutes, also moving ingredients around. 

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, mustard, basil, salt & pepper. Add eggs to the pan of veggies along with feta cheese, stirring to mix well. Lower heat to med-low and cover. Cook for about 12-15 minutes, until frittata is firm. Remove from heat and turn on broiler in your oven. Add grated cheese to the top and broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and just starting to brown. Let cool to room temperature or desired warmth. 


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