Pumpkin seeds – chili lime

These are a Halloween must although I am not sure most people LOVE them. I find it is essential to wash them and allow them to dry overnight for best crispy results when baking. I wash them and air dry them (stirring a few times) on paper towels. Season as desired. This year I did lime juice, 3 sprays of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each of these chili powders.


Then I baked them on a sheet pan at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. I stirred the mix after 10 minutes of baking. My family really tries to limit salt when possible. I did not salt them and I really do not feel as though I miss it.

Pumpkin whoopie pies with toasted pecan buttercream frosting


Alright alright. It is finally a bit colder in Texas so it is time for some pumpkin. These do take a little bit of work but they are so worth it. I invented the frosting idea on my own. At least I couldn’t find anything similar out there.

First toast a small bag of pecans in 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes.


Next, put the nuts into a food processor and let them turn into nut butter. Scrape down the sides as you go. It took about 2-3 minutes.

Let this cool fully. It is quite bitter. Do not worry.

Place 1 stick room temperature butter into a mixer along with 4 ounces of cream cheese and the pecan butter. Whip on high for a few minutes until fluffly.


Add in 2 1/3 cups powdered sugar. Refrigerate when done. See photo above.

Now for the cakes…..

Mix one box of butter recipe yellow cake with 15 ounce pumpkin puree and 1/2 cup  vegetable oil. Add in 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drop tablespoon sized circles of batter onto a greased cookie sheet or parchment. Don’t worry they do not increase in size much.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until prety firm to the touch. Let cool completely. Add frosting between two cookies. Mmmmmmm……..


Okay so the cake part of the recipe I stole slightly from yourcupofcake.com.

Because of the buttercream, store these in the refrigerator.

Frozen cake


Looking back at all my “creations”, this is one of my most favorite. I can’t find my recipe right now. I made this specific one about 3 years ago. I will post the recipe later. It was white cake with fresh strawberries and cheesecake buttercream. It is my favorite cake to make. It kind of tastes like a new version on strawberry shortcake. And of course I made the blue rock candy too. I found this idea from another poster of Pinterest. BubblyNatureCreations.com and sprinklesomefun.com

Breakfast bake


This is perfect for any leftover bread from the week. French bread, rolls, hamburger buns, sandwhich bread….. my favorite is leftover good quality buns. You can make if the night before if needed. The leftovers save well and reheat well for many breakfasts. Another fun part is that I use a different vegetable in it each week. Usually it depends on what is leftover also. Alternate choices are green onion, yellow onion, green bell pepper, orange bell pepper, roasted poblanos, etc. I keep it simple and try to not buy a million items to make it.

Leftover bread – 2-3 rolls or about 4-6 sliced of bread

1 cup of diced veggies. Today was green onion

1 breakfast sausage roll. I like natural uncured pork sausage or spicy pork sausage

8 eggs

2/3 cup milk

salt and pepper

1/2 cup cheddar cheese (optional)


Cook the sausage in a pan over medium heat. Press on paper towels to remove all grease once well done.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 casserole pan. Cube the bread and add it to the baking dish.


Dice the veggies and add them on top.

Add cooked sausage over the bread mixture. Gently mix all to separate layers.


Now place the eggs into a separate bowl. Whisk in the milk as well as about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Add cheese (is desired) and bake 1-2 minutes more until melted.

If I make this a day ahead, then I assemble (without cheese), cover, and refrigerate the casserole pan just before the bakng stage. It will need about 15 minutes longer in the oven if baking it cold.

Homemade tabasco sauce



This is the first year (of the 8 of my urban garden) that I successfully grew a Tabasco plant….. from a seed. I am pretty proud. Holy cow! It makes a LOT of peppers. So I made hot sauce. I recommend opening windows prior to trying this. The air gets a bit spicy.




1 cup tabasco peppers – remove stems

2 teaspoons Himalayan salt

2 cups apple cider vinegar


Basically you bring all 3 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Allow the mix to boil for 5-7 minutes. Gently crush the peppers with a potato masher. Remove the pan from heat and fully cool. Place the mixture in blender/food processor and blend. Transfer the mix to a sealed container and chill in refrigerator for 3 weeks. Strain the seeds and pepper pieces through a metal strainer. Bottle the remaining juice and enjoy.


After initial mashing:


After blending. The seeds float.



Cabbage rolls


These cabbage rolls have a slighy different flavor than most. They do not have the sweetness typically expected. Instead, there is a more smokey flavor. Not only is this a healthy make ahead casserole type meal, but it also pairs very well with the pickled carrots and jalapeños that I have posted as well.



The recipe:

First prepare the meat filling by mixing together the following:

1 pound 85% lean ground beef

1 cup of cooked white rice (not instant)

1 egg

1 yellow onion – diced

1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

2 cloves minced garlic

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

After mixing this fully, keep refrigerated.

Next prepare a head of cabbage by coring it and removing the outer leaves.

Bring a very large pot of water to a boil. Once you have achieved a rolling boil, add the cabbage and cook 3-5 minutes. Remove the cabbage and allow it to cool. Once cool enough to touch, gently remove the leaves one by one trying not to break them….. but if they do it will still work.

Place the cabbage leaves with the concave surface up. Add about 1/2-1 cup of the meat mixture. Fold this into a ball and place seamed side down in an ungreased casserole pan. Continue until all meat has been used.

For the topping, mix together a 14 ounce can of petit diced tomatoes with italian seasoning as well as 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika. Pour this over the rolls.

Cover the dish using aluminum foil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45-60 minutes or until thermometer inserted to the center of a roll reaches 170 degrees.

Again, we serve these with crusty french bread and some pickled carrots and jalapeños.

I have made these in the morning and stored them in the refrigerator to bake in the evening. I feel that making it ahead enhances the flavors of the dish.




Baked cheese grits


Okay these are absolutely amazing. I like this because it has a smokey flavor. They can be cut and keep their form. You could even be fancy and make cookie cutter type shapes. It is great with BBQ or even grilled shrimp. My one year old even enjoys them.


1/2 cup quick cooking grits (Quaker)

1.5 cups water

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 chicken boullion cube

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup (or more) sharp cheddar cheese

2 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the grits, water, milk and spices into saucepan. Cook on medium heat for about 5 (or more) minutes stirring constantly. Cook until very thick.

Remove from heat. Add butter and cheese. Stir until melted. Let cool 10 minutes.

Whisk in 2 eggs. Pour into an 8×8 prepared baking dish. Bake at 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.



Pickled Jalapeno and Carrots

My husband and I garden. This is our 8th year. Our garden seems to be more efficient and grow more each year. Right now, the Texas heat leaves us with ample peppers, onions and okra. I searched many recipes online and then altered them to suit our tastes which is pretty spicy.


The color is a bit cloudy because I have ground bay leaves and oregano instead of whole.

The ingredients:

3 large carrots – peel and sliced

1 yellow onion – peel and slice

10 small jalepenos – trim of stems and slice. I did not remove seeds.

6 whole garlic cloves

1.5 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

1-2 tablespoons whole peppercorn

1 teaspoon ground mexican oregano

1 teaspoon ground bay leaves

1 teaspooon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon whole coriander seed

Saute the veggies in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or so. Add in vinegar, water, and all spices. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Cool completely. Pour into jars. This will keep for about 4 weeks in the refrigerator. I did not process mine for shelf storage. It made 4-5 pint sized mason jars.

The photo on the right shows the final color you want the jalapenos to be after boiling. That is how you know to stop cooking them.

My husband wanted more heat. I did a second batch using 5 carrots, 4 jalapenos,  and 2 seeded habaneros. That was too hot for me. He loved it.

Virginia’s Tuna Salad


Basic. Simple. My version is healthy and amazing.

Good food doesn’t have to have complicated unusual ingredients.

The type of tuna makes a huge difference. Part of what makes this tuna so great is that it is not a super wet salad. It will not make bread soggy. To accomplish this texture, draining the tuna is the key step.

The ingredients:



1. Drain tuna. This recipe is for the large 12 ounce can. Press it through a strainer until there is no water at all. Seriously important.

2. Shred 1/2 to 1 small yellow onion and a stalk of celery. I use the large side of a cheese grater. After, I press all of the juice from this too. I have done this with small diced veggies but it really changes the flavor and texture. I perfer shredded.

3. Spices. 1/2 teaspoon Spike seasoning. 1/8 teaspoon of each black pepper and Himalayan salt.

4. Add 2 tablespoons of Miracle Whip.

5. Add juice of 1/2 of a small lemon. About 1 tablespoon.

This makes enough for about 3 sandwiches. It keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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