Beef Kabob

– johanna | May 30th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer, RECIPES - Main Dish

We use this marinade on steaks, too. Before cooking I sprinkle the meat with a beef seasoning. The marinade makes the meat really tender and the extra seasoning gives the meat more flavor. You can use any combination of vegetables such as asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, peppers, artichokes, corn, carrots, potatoes, etc.

1 1/2 cups olive oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ground dry mustard
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons ground cloves
1- 1/2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into 2-inch bites

Mix together. Cut Put meat in a Zip Lock bag. Pour marinade into bag. Refrigerate for 2-24 hours.
Preheat the grill for high heat.

Drain marinade from beef; discard marinade. Thread beef and vegetables alternately onto the skewers.  Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, occasionally turning.

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Spicy Lime Shrimp Kabobs

– johanna | May 28th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer, RECIPES - Main Dish

24 large prawns, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp olive oil
2 limes, zested and juiced
2 green chile peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, chopped
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped

Place the prawns and lime zest in a large zip lock bag. In a food processor, add the olive oil, lime juice, chile pepper, garlic, ginger, and onion. Process until smooth. Pour marinade in the bag of prawns, massage to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Thread prawns onto skewers, piercing each first through the tail, and then the head. Cook prawns for 5 minutes, turning once, or until opaque.

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Honey Chicken Kabobs

– johanna | May 28th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer, RECIPES - Main Dish

Kabobs are so much fun to make. They remind me of Girl Scout camp and foil dinners, only better. Which is why they make a great family fun dinner?

Create kabobs from meats such as beef tenderloin cubes, boneless chicken breast or turkey, pork, ham, lamb, small meatballs, bacon slices, sausage, shrimp, scallops and other seafood. Add vegetables and fruits such as onions, zucchini, squash, bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, apple wedges, peaches, mango and apricots.

Choose a marinade that goes well with the combination of ingredients you are using. Try bottled sauces, marinades and salad dressings or come up with your own. Honey, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper and season salts are simple bases to start with.

Discard any left over marinade that raw meat has been soaking in. If you like to baste, use a fresh batch. If you use wooden skewers, they must be soaked in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning. Don’t have a grill? Bake them in the oven at 350.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic
5 small onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces

12 slices bacon, partially cooked, optional

Pineapple chunks, optional

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto kabobs while cooking. Place the chicken, garlic, onions and peppers in the bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Yields 12 servings

Preheat the grill for high heat.

Drain marinade from the chicken and vegetables; discard marinade. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto the skewers. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Turn and brush with reserved marinade frequently.

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Hot German Potato Salad

– johanna | May 28th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Sides

This recipe belonged to my Grandmother, on my mom’s side. It is the only potato salad recipe my sister would touch.
2 med potatoes
3/4 tsp salt
3 slices bacon
1/4 tsp celery seeds
1/2 cup chopped onion
dash pepper
1 tbsp flour
1/3 c water
2-3 tsp sugar
3 tbsp vinegar

Boil potatoes in jackets. Peel and slice thinly. Fry bacon, drain and crumble. Saute onion in bacon drippings until golden brown. Blend in flour and seasonings. Cook over low heat, stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in water and vinegar. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 min. Stir in potatoes and crumbled bacon, gently. Remove from heat, cover, let stand until ready to serve.

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– johanna | May 25th, 2008

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Sides

4 baking potatoes (6 oz each) cut lengthwise
1 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder

Prepare oven or grill.
In a large bowl combine oil, paprika, salt pepper and chili powder. Add potatoes. Toss to coat with mixture. Divide among 4 large pieces of heavy duty foil. Double fold ends of foil together to seal in potatoes and form packets. Place on grill or in oven, turning packets over once, until potatoes are done, about 15 min each side on the grill. You can also bake the fries in the oven at 425 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. Making sure you toss them several times while baking.

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– johanna | May 25th, 2008

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

I found this recipe years ago in an Asian cookbook. It was a staple in our home until we grew tired of eating it and needed something new. We like to eat it with rice or with a nice green salad.

2 pounds 4 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c sweet chili sauce or chili garlic sauce
1/4c Kecap Manis or soy sauce mixed with a little brown sugar

Place chicken in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish. Place lime juice, sweet chili sauce and Kecap Manis in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Barbecue or bake in a preheated 400° oven for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through and the marinade has caramelized.

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– johanna | May 25th, 2008


Originally called Decoration Day, in honor of the soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, Memorial Day has since become a day to commemorate Americans who have died fighting in all wars.
The first use of the name “Memorial Day” caught on in 1882. Yet, it was not declared the official name until 1967. Since May of 1971 Memorial Day has been celebrated on the last Monday of the month.

Many observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Every year volunteers place an American flag on each grave in the National Cemetery. Friends and family members gather to continue the tradition of decorating the graves of loved ones. Memorial Day is a great opportunity to discuss with our children the history behind the holiday as well as, the many benefits we enjoy as a result of the ultimate sacrifices of brave men and women who died defending our freedom and liberty.

In addition to honoring the memory of the military, Memorial Day marks one of the longest standing traditions since 1911, the Indy 500. It is also viewed as the beginning of summer and serves as a time for family gatherings, picnics and community celebrations.

You can start your own family traditions to make Memorial Day more than just a three day weekend.


– johanna | May 18th, 2008



I do my best to avoid taking my little ones with me to the store. If I do venture out with them in tow, it is always first thing in the morning before they get tired, right after their snack. As a mom, I am glad to see grocery stores catering more toward moms with young kids. The grocery store we go to has car shopping carts to keep kids pre-occupied. When I was growing up, the bakery gave away a free cookie. Yet, there are times they get bored with driving the fire engine and would rather help fill up the cart with whatever goodies catch their eyes, This ultimately ends in my 2-year-old screaming an aria all the way to the car.

After one disastrous trip, I remembered something a great friend once told me. She suggested that I take a picture album and fill it with pictures of my baby, but also include pictures of the foods my baby liked to eat. Then take the album with me when I go to the grocery store and help my son find the items. The next thought I had was, my kids love to help me cook and clean. At home, if they are bored, I give them a task and most of the time they are more than excited to take it on. That got me thinking.

Give the kids a task. The grocery store is a playground for learning. Let them help locate the items on your list. The kids think it is a game and what kid does not like a game of “I Spy”?  My 4-year-old son has started making his own shopping list.

Think numbers and colors, not to mention vocabulary skills. Children can learn valuable math skills when they use the scale to weigh items or count out money at the register. My kids love counting the vegetables and fruits as they put them in the bags. If you have toddlers, help them discover different textures by letting them touch an item. Teach them the name in addition to the shape and color.




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Easy Crock Pot Chicken

– johanna | May 12th, 2008

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Main Dish

This recipe was THE popular weekly dinner menu item with my circle of friends. No one knew exactly where it came from, though. One person thought it was this person’s, and that person thought it was someone else, and that person thought it was….. well you get the picture. I followed all the someone’s back to my friend Cathy Carter. She got the recipe from her Grandmother. Then one day when I was looking through a cookbook of crock pot recipes, low and behold there it was, but with a slight variation. Once you try it you’ll know why it is a favorite.

***Adapted August 5, 2012***
I have since adapted this recipe to eliminate the processed and canned ingredients. The original recipe called for canned condensed chicken soup and an Italian seasonings packet. Review the notes under variations for these substitutions. For variations to the homemade versions of Italian seasonings and condensed chicken follow the links provided.

Source: Cathy’s Grandmother
2 tablespoons Italian season mix (recipe below)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
6 chicken breasts
2 cups cream of chicken (based on recipe below)

Place all the ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve over rice or noodles.

Italian Seasonings Mix:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons salt

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic salt, onion powder, sugar, oregano, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, celery salt and regular salt. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Cream of Chicken:
1 1/2 cups fresh chicken stock*
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon onion powder**
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder***
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt (or less; taste to test)
1/4 teaspoon parsley
dash of paprika
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup flour

In medium-sized saucepan, boil chicken broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings for a minute or two (longer if using fresh onions or garlic).
In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and flour. Add to boiling mixture and continue whisking briskly until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.

– 1 can cream of chicken soup (cream of celery or mushroom can be substituted)
– In place of above seasoning use 1 packet Italian salad dressing powdered mix.
– Fat free version, in place of the cream cheese and cream of soup use a cup of water.
– Low fat version, omit the cream cheese.

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– johanna | May 4th, 2008


As a young boy, my mom and Aunts would rave about my grandfather’s pizza. I asked him once how he made his pizza so “good”. He responded in a Mr. Miyagi type pearl of wisdom, “You just have to love pizza”. I took away from that a new understanding and confusion. First, I was amazed to find out that kids are not the only ones that love pizza. But if that were true, why didn’t we have pizza more often?

The real lessons came later. I realized that if you truly love something, then you will give the extra care and attention it deserves. When making pizza, or anything else, you should make it the way you like it.

When I was old enough, I went to the store and bought all the ingredients to make my own first pizza. It was awesome. It was about 4 inches thick, and wiped out my college food budget for the week, but it was the best pizza ever.

Many people love pizza. It is easy and versatile. In addition to being yummy, pizzas are fun to make, which makes it a great activity for the family. Have a house full of the neighbor kids? No problem. Let them make their own personal pizza.

Some people prefer the store bought ready made pizza crust, which is a little pricey, but it is a no fail way to go; while others may reach for the refrigerated pizza dough. Even still, there are those who enjoy making their own pizza crust. Once you determine the type of crust you want to use, the next step is the sauce. Before you reach for the stuff in a jar, try making your own. It is easier than you think. It just takes a little preparation. The great thing about sauce is you can make it the day before. Because like wine and cheese, it tastes better with age. Personally, fresh is best. But if you do not have time to peel and cut tomatoes, or have an herb garden, cans will work.


Once everything is prepared it is time to start the party. Set out the pizza crust, sauce and toppings.
Toppings can include but are not limited to:
Ham, Pineapple, cooked Bacon, cooked Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, sliced Mushrooms, sliced Olives, sliced or chopped Onions, Bell Pepper, cooked Chicken, Sliced Tomatoes, cooked Hamburger, Artichokes, Garlic, Spinach, Lots and Lots of Mozzarella Cheese (shredded or sliced)

Let the kids paint on some olive oil with a basting brush. (A moderator should portion out the olive oil and sauce for each pizza.) Then let the kids decorate their pizza with their favorite toppings.

Life lessons:
I have taught an object lesson at a few of our pizza parties. I would start out with some dessert toppings on the table. Ask the kids if they like chocolate syrup, whipped cream, or cherries. They all say “Yeesss!” and “Yum!”. Then say, “Great, we are going to make pizza today. Do you like chocolate syrup and cherries on your pizza?” The normal response has been “Nooo!” and “Yuk!”. Some of the kids may have been to a restaurant that serves dessert pizza, but we can ignore them. So the question remains, “You mean to tell me you like chocolate syrup and love pizza, but do not like them at the same time?” How can that be?

That reminds me of a saying. There is a time and a place for everything.

”Who likes to play, run and tell funny jokes?” Everyone should be saying, “Me, me, me!” Then I ask, “Are there some times when it is not OK to run, play, and tell funny jokes? Who can give me some examples of places that we should not run, play, and tell funny jokes.” Places like libraries, church, school, museums, and visiting mom or dad at work. Some places it can even be very dangerous to run, jump, and play. Sometimes it is so much fun to laugh, run, play, and tell funny jokes. And sometimes it is not OK to do those things. We can love chocolate syrup and we can love pizza, but we do not have to eat them together. So let’s have some fun and make some pizzas with only our favorite things that we like.

Submitted by my brother Todd.

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