Watermelon always gets brought into our house, but usually ends up as a sort of  half-eaten sacrifice to the moldy food gods of the fridge, so I decided to do something about that and actually use it all.  There was too much to eat all at once and it was on the brink of melting into a watery bag of goo and rinds (well, not quite, but I've seen that happen before), so a watermelon slushie was the answer.

1/2 c. ice cubes per cup of watermelon
You can spice it up with any of these things, though I had mine plain and it was great!
lemon or lime juice
sugar, honey, agave, etc.
any type of fruit

Blend up your ingredients until they are smooth and pour into a glass for a frosty, refreshing treat that satisfies a sweet tooth to boot!

WHITE SAUCE (Béchamel, to be fancy) - cooking basics

As I was texting the instructions on how to boil an egg to my panicked guy friend, I had a sort of mini epiphany.  And by mini epiphany, I mean like the one I had when I learned that most people separate lights from darks in the wash.  So I guess I really mean more of a how-have-I-made-it-this-far-in-life-without-this-knowledge-oh-gosh-I-hope-no-one-noticed realization.

I digress.

Béchamel, or white sauce, as we called it growing up, is really versatile and a good basic recipe to have memorized. 

I blame our unorthodox upbringing and former-hippie parents for my distaste for the structure of recipes (although I know it's just because I'm too bull-headed to follow them to a T: "who is this person, telling me I must put exactly 1 teaspoon of salt in my salsa!?").  I'm also a firm believer in the idea that if you have the basics down, you can create almost anything. 

My husband is a firm believer in me using recipes and timers.  So, in between the experiments and inevitably burnt cookies, we compromise.  And sometimes I leave a cookbook out on the table and pretend like I'm using a recipe.

So, without further ado, here is number one:

Once you've made this once or twice, you won't need measurements, but I'll give you some in case you're a nervous nelly.


Tiny things get me.  I can't even handle it sometimes, they're just so tiny and cute!  Of course, my Mom knows my weakness for Lilliputian-y things, so she bought me some dollhouse flowerpots, knowing I'd be happy even if all I did was hold them in my hands and squeal with delight at how tiny they were.

But they were destined for bigger and better things.  Er, tiny bigger better things.

I gave this little cactus to The Man and he keeps it on his desk at work.  It's so small that it doesn't get in the way, but it's just something cool to have around and a definite conversation starter.


My family makes an amazing appetizer at Christmas time that is so simple yet so delicious - it's a block of cream cheese with a horseradish/apricot jam mixture piled onto it.  We eat it with crackers and it is oh-so-delicious, despite how strange it sounds.

I was craving just such a snack, but, as it usually goes in my house, I didn't have apricot jelly and I didn't have cream cheese, and I didn't have crackers.  Then I saw it.  Brie, a whole wedge, forgotten in the cheese drawer, and a jar of Peach chutney (a Christmas gift from my wonderful cook of a big sister) and some tiny melba toasts.  The world is saved.

some Brie or Camembert
some tiny toasts or cut up bread
Peach Chutney 
Some type of fruit jam with a bit of horseradish mixed in (about 1/8 tsp. per T. of Jelly)

INFUSED VODKA - how-to and free printables

I'm always scrambling for gifts at the last minute and I'm always looking for something special and unique that doesn't cost a fortune.  Infused vodkas are a fun gift for anyone who enjoys a great bloody mary or a fancy cocktail.

I actually swiped the corks and cork seals from my parent's stash - their vineyard and winery 99Bottles goes through quite a few every year, so I figured they wouldn't miss them.  Here is a site that you can order corks from here and shrink capsules here.  The corks aren't necessary and you'll likely need a corker if you use them.  If not, you can always just use regular tapered corks and some pretty string or paper over them.  These had to be transported easily (and across state lines) so I though it better to be safe than sorry!

The bottles were $1.00 each at Wal-mart - they're oil and vinegar bottles with the stoppers pulled out.  You can then gift the stoppers with the bottles and the happy recipient will have a pour spout when the bottle is opened.

My free printable labels are here

CRUNCHY CHEESY TACO BAKE - easy one-pan meal

Oh, what to do with that last bit of leftover pasta sauce and the other half pound of ground beef, just waiting for me in the fridge?  It's hard sometimes to cook for just one or two people - you almost always have leftover ingredients.  I really, really didn't want to have spaghetti again, even though it's easy, quick, two-pan allure was calling to me.

Enter, Taco Bake!  It sounds really strange, but I promise you it tastes great.  The best part is that it is so versatile, I ended up using up a lot of leftovers to make it!

Serves: two to three
Time: 15- 20 minutes

1/2 lb. ground beef (or turkey, sausage, steak, anything you have)
2 T. spaghetti sauce (or stewed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or 2 tsp. tomato paste)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
3/4 cup corn (frozen, fresh, or canned)
1 T. sour cream (I used leftover sour cream dip)
1/2 c. crushed chips or hard tortilla shells (Doritos would be good on this)
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese(or whatever cheese you have)
1 packet taco seasoning (or:
1 tsp. mexican oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. lawrys or salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder)

for garnishing:
(basically anything you like to eat on tacos) 
chopped tomatoes
chopped cilantro
chopped avocado, etc.

*Note: If you don't have all the ingredients, don't worry.  You can make this without or with more or less of anything, it's pretty foolproof (and that's half the fun of cooking - making it your own!)


I love the look of parchment paper cupcake and muffin wrappers, but the ridiculous cost of them makes it hard to justify buying them.  They look so airy, so fancy!  Everything that you make in them looks like it came from a snooty french bakery!  So, to get both of those wonderful things in life - the affordable and the "hohoho!" fancy french chef - I present to you a tutorial on how to make your own!

Just find a glass that fits into your muffin tin.  Cut a square of parchment paper about 4"x4".  Press it over your glass.  Hard, right?