Saturday, April 2, 2011

Easy Peasy

There's not actually any peas in this recipe, but it is sooo easy and so good that I just had to share. I nabbed it from one of my new fav's chicken ranch tacos. I used it for Taco Tuesday and then again for Friday. :) It's super easy so whether you're at work all day or, like me, chasing around a cutie patootie, you can have din din ready in like 10 minutes - tops.  The hardest part is slicing and dicing all the fixins but the best part is you can make it your own, for example, I topped mine with a little extra ranch while the hubby drowned his with Tapitio (or as my hilarious nephew calls it - Uncle Tap).

Here it is:
makes 5 servings (2 tacos each)
Recipe from Betty Crocker
1 box (4.7 oz) Old El Paso® Stand ‘N Stuff® taco shells (10 shells) - I actually used soft tortillas since that's all I had.
3 cups cut-up deli rotisserie chicken (from 2- to 2 1/2-lb chicken) - I also have used frozen chicken and cooked it with the taco seasoning and it came out just as well!
1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso® taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup ranch dressing (2 T of homemade was sufficient for me) - we used homemade, also.
1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/4 cup sliced green onions (4 medium), if desired - I substituted the onions for avocado.Old El Paso® Thick ‘n Chunky salsa, if desired
Additional ranch dressing, if desired
1. Heat oven to 325°F. Heat taco shells in oven as directed on box.
2. Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, place chicken. Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix; toss gently to coat. Microwave uncovered on High 2 to 3 minutes or until hot. Stir in 1/2 cup dressing.
3. Spoon warm chicken mixture into heated taco shells. Top with lettuce, tomato, cheese and onions. Drizzle with salsa and additional dressing.

picture also taken from

Like I said...easy peasy! And really yummy.

And, just for's a pic of my big 11 month old. I cannot believe that in just one short month, I will have a one year old. Where exactly does time go?

thanks to Jen for allowing me to borrow her camera
and get some super cute pics of a super cute little boy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Poppin Up Everywhere

Starbucks has a whole new menu for their anniversary (have you noticed their new cups?). And on that new menu are a bunch of new treats, including cake pops.  Now, apparently these have been around for some time...there's even a whole cookbook dedicated to them.  But of course, when do they start becoming popular? When Starbucks starts selling them. But since I'm a newly converted do-it-yourselfer, I decided to try my hand at these tasty treats. I thought I would make them for my son's first birthday party coming up...which on a side note, it is absolutely CRAZY that my baby is going to one year old...but as any good baker knows, you need to test out the recipe before you attempt the real thing. So here's my attempt at cake pops...

Here's a shot of the can use any cake mix so I chose funfetti cake mix.

You'll have to forgive the Christmas sprinkles...they were all I had!

I think we'll file this experiment under the "Success" category. :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Target Lovers Rejoice!

My obession with coupons started when I became a stay-at-home mom, or basically when our household income was cut in half! So while I was doing my weekly shopping at Super Target one of my favorite cashiers...yes, I have favorites (and not so-favorites) there...noticed my stack of coupons and she kindly suggested this website for me. It not only shows the deals of the week, coupons (which you can also get on target's website), but it also has secret deals that are not always announced for the general public. So, if you are a Target groupie, like myself, go check it out and save some of that hard earned money!

On another note...
Happy ten months to my sweet, funny, adorable, smart, wonderful boy!

Time is going by way too quickly.

And yes, it's another shot of him eating...I don't know why, but I can't resist the camera when he smiles up at me with all that food on his face!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Love Actually Is All Around

Yes, the title of this post is taken from the movie Love Actually (one of my favs). The reasoning behind that is because I love the message that the movie portrays...people start to focus on the hate and violence that is definitely a part of this world but that doesn't mean that we should deny the love that actually does surround us. So to remind myself of this little thing called love, I wanted to write a list of a few things that makes me remember the love that God has placed in my life. Then I thought I would share! So here goes...

*These are not in order*
1) Waking up to already made coffee...reminds me of what a good hubby I have. :)
2) My baby's laugh, definitely contagious.
3) The sound of my hubby's truck pulling up in the driveway.
4) Sunday night dinners with the fam.
5) Conversations with my nephews.
6) Holding a sleeping baby, mine in particular. :)
7) Breakfast with my girlies.
8) Thinking of and remembering my grandparents.
9) The smell of my baby boy...sounds kinda weird but other mommies you know what I'm talking about!
10) Realizing that how much I love my family is how much (and more) that God loves His children.
*There are so many more things in life that I could list, but these ten are a just a glimpse of how blessed I am.

Now, since Valentine's Day was this month and the saying goes that to get to a man's heart, you go through his stomach - I decided to try out a special dinner for my valentine.  Without even knowing if I was a fan of eggplant, I went with a stuffed eggplant recipe. And guess what? I am a fan! It turned out so good that it will definitely be a recurring dinner in our house.  Healthy, somewhat easy and delish! Check out Rachael Ray's website for the recipe if you already know your're an eggplant fan or if you're willing to find out!

reading is one of his favorite things to his mama!
Also, this month by baby boy turned 9 months old (he's almost ten months, now).  It's just absolutely insane how fast little sleeping babies grow into babbling, crawling, chewing on everything infants! How I admire those with more than one little one at home because, man, this one keeps me busy. He is now realizing that he's a big boy and getting braver by the minute, trying to walk, finding his vocal cords, reading the many books around the house and eating just about everything he get his little pincher fingers on....including dirt on the floor, which is my new motivation for keeping a clean house. Here are a few recent pictures of my ever-growing baby boy in action.

he also loves being outside...that he gets from his dada!

another favorite pastime, eating!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cozy Up!

I know it's been month since I've last posted...but cut me some slack! I'm a new mom with a long list of to-do's and who also enjoys her afternoon naps. :) I will try to do better this month.

With that said...let me share with you a bit of what's been happening in the Souza household.

If you have talked with me recently, you know that my sweet baby boy is not a very good sleeper.  For awhle we were ending up on the recliner after battling it out with the crib so, taking the advice of a few people, I decided to try co-sleeping.  If you would have asked me while I was pregnant if we were going to co-sleep, I would have given you a firm no.  That was pre-baby, and well-rested me talking...this is post-baby, would like to sleep at night me saying that co-sleeping has been a good thing in our house.  He actually starts off in his bed and then ends up in ours halfway through the night.  But, we all get the rest we need (with the exception of those restless, teething nights) and wake up happy! Surprisingly, I actually enjoy snuggling up to my baby and waking to see his smiling face! It's a really good way to start my day and's one way to cozy up on these cold winter nights!

Here's another way.
Another thing going on in our house is my cooking...surprisingly, it's going pretty well.  I've had several successes and only a few failures in this cooking quest.  One of those successes was Fantastic Black Bean Chili (fyi, I didn't name it).
I actually made this for dinner last night and with a side of cornbread, it was delish! I substituted the crushed tomatoes with two cans of tomato sauce (because I didn't have any tomatoes) and it can came out really good especially since my hubby is not a big fan of tomato chunks.
Go ahead, go try it!!
What you need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground turkey

3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, undrained

1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Make it!
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; cook onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add turkey and cook, stirring, until meat is brown. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, basil and vinegar. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 60 minutes or more, until flavors are well blended.
  2. Top with your favorite shredded cheese and enjoy!
Snuggling with a warm baby, making a bowl of yummy chili, drinking a cup of chamomile tea.  Take your pick and cozy up!
Me, I choose all three. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas to Me...and Possibly to You too.

Now, it's no secret that I love the holidays. And who wouldn't with this under tree?

Anyway, part of the reason I love this time of year is that it has become a tradition for my mom, my sis-in-law and I to be a part of the Black Friday madness.  The three of us venture out into the cold, dark craziness with coffee in our hands looking for the best deals in town.  And every year I find myself defending this outing to people who do not attempt it.  There really are good deals! And I really do get most, if not all, of my Christmas shopping done.  (These are the defense sentences used to those Black Friday non-believers). 

This year though...I went out shopping with one goal in mind - to get my very own breadmaker. At four in the morning, at Kohl's, I did just that. Since I ususally don't buy too many things for myself on Black Friday, I walked out of Kohl's, breadmaker in hand, thinking "Merry Christmas to me!"

And now, my new obsession is finding bread recipes (or jam since my very cool breadmaker can make jam, too).  Some of my new creations? Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, honey spice and plain ol' yummy whole wheat bread! I am enjoying how fun it is to find and try new recipes while my hubby is definitely enjoying the added benefit of fresh bread in the morning with his coffee - although he says I'm cheating since my breadmaker does it all for me (this said while eating a very yummy piece of cinnamon bread).

So, if you find yourself with a loaf of bread on your doorstep this holiday'll know who it's from! :)
Merry Christmas, everyone!

If you have a very cool breadmaker like mine...message me for the recipes because they are very tasty! Pictured is the honey spice bread, probably one of our favorites but up next is an apple bread that is sure to be just as good!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Things Pumpkin

Lately I've been trying to keep my head above water with stuff around the house, the busyness of the season and taking care of my precious boy.  And if I'm being honest, taking a nap is usually more appealing than writing a new post. So, needless to say, I have totally slacked on blogging.  For this reason, I decided it was about time for a new post! In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, I decided to share a few of my latest pumpkin recipes that have turned out to be total successes.  Recipes are below the descriptions.

The first...Pumpkin Chiffon Cake. I made this one thinking that I didn't have time to make a pumpkin pie because if I'm going to make a pie, I'm going to make it with a homemade crust.  Ever since my grandma taught me how to make her homemade crusts, I don't take pie making lightly.  You either go all out and make the best pie ever or you don't make one at all. So...since making a pie is serious business and I knew I didn't have time for anything too serious but still wanted something pumpkinny that day I decided on this Pumpkin cake.  However, I ignored the Chiffon part and didn't realize that it was not a normal cake - a slight overlook that probably would have been noticed if I was a more seasoned baker.  With that said, let me also say that it was totally worth the 9 eggs it requires.

The second...Baked Pumpkin Seeds. This, of course, requires a trip to the pumpkin patch which we did for the first time for not only my baby but my hubby too! With my nephews along for the ride, we visited the petting zoo, stumbled through the kiddo corn maze and even went on the hayride! While we did get a few good pictures, I didn't realize the hayride would put him to sleep! The baby, not the hubby.  So he slept through most of the trip.  But, that's okay because now I just get to go back do another photo shoot! Maybe this time it won't be so dang hot...we are in October, almost November, right?

The third...Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I saw this on in a cooking magazine and needed an excuse to try it.  What better than my brother's 28th birthday? A man who likes pumpkin pie and cheesecake, so as a gift I did what any good sister who stays at home would do and I baked him a present! I had to experiment with this one since I had never baked a cheesecake before.  I'm not going to lie, I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing but afterwards I came to the realization that I make a pretty darn good cheesecake. I just need a better way to remove it from the pan. It didn't look as good as it tasted.  Needless to say, after all this baking, a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond is in my near future.  (Before I published this post, another cheesecake was made and much better pics were taken so I will post those in another post to redeem myself.)

The fourth and final recipe...a do-it-yourself Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Now, I'm all for Starbucks.  In fact, they get a good portion of my money on a weekly basis.  However, I am also all for being able to do things projects, food, and now - coffee! I usually just get an iced coffee from Starbucks but every holiday season I hear people rave about the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Well folks, now you can have it whenever the craving middle of July perhaps.  (Pictures were taken and already posted on fb so, I did not feel the need to repost it here. Just imagine a steamy, hot cup of coffee with yummy whipped cream on top.  Yup...go make it!)
As mentioned before, the recipes are below but before I get to those...I would like to dedicate this post to my dear grandmother who passed away October 10th, 2010.  I still cannot look through her recipe book without tearing up. She passed the baking gene onto me and would have been the first person in line to taste these pumpkin creations - except for the coffee one, she drank hers black. 

I miss her.

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake
Serves: 12
Prep: 30 min (plus cooling)
Bake: 55 min

What you need:
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated, plus 5 eggs whites, at room temperature
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Make It!
1. Prehet the oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  In amedium bowl, combine the egg yolks and pumpkin puree.  Stir the pumpkin mixtureinto theflour mixture until smooth.
2. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whop the remaining 9 eggs whites at medium speed ntil foamy, about 2 minutes.  With he machine on, gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; increase the speed to high and beat until stuff but moist, 1 ot 2 minutes.
3. Add one-quarter of the egg white mixture to the pumpkin batter, folding with a rubber spatula just until no streaks remain.  Fold in the remaining egg white mixture in the same manner.  Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes.
4. Let cool in the cake pan for 5 minutes, then invert the pan onto a narrow-necked bottle and let hang upside down until completely cook, about 1 1/2 hours.  Place the cake right-side up and remove the pan.  To serve, dust the cake with the confectioners' sugar.

Baked Pumpkin Seeds

What you need:
Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Make It:
1. Scoop out pumpkin seeds with large, metal spoon.
2. Clean seeds well.
3. Boil in salted water for 10 min.
4. Spread onto oiled baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes or until browned. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

What you need:
38 Ginger snaps, finely crushed
1/4 up finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 pkg (8 oz.ea.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup thawed Cool Whip whipped topping
1/2 tsp.ground nutmeg

Make it!
Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9 inch springform pan.  Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended.  Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixingafter each just until blended.  Pour into crust.  Bake 1 hour 20 min. to 1 hour 30 min. or until center is almost set.  Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim.  Refrigerate 4 hours.  Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip and a dusting of nutmeg.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

What you need:
3 cups hot whole milk
4 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 ounces double-strength brewed coffee
3 tablespoons sweetened whipped cream
3 pinches pumpkin pie spice

Make It!
1. Combine the hot milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender; blend until frothy. Pour the mixture into 3 coffee mugs to about 2/3 full. Pour 2 ounces coffee into each mug. Garnish each mug with whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice.