Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A couple yummy recipes from the weekend...

As I mentioned in a post below, we had our friends, Lynn and Amit over for dinner Saturday night. Lynn graciously brought over an appetizer which was a Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips and she brought a Kale and Mango salad. Both of these dishes were to die for!!!!!! They were seriously so wonderful and I will DEF. be making them again.

Here is the Salsa recipe and here is the Kale recipe. If you are looking for an appetizer to make or bring to a party, this is the one! It is light and cool on a hot summer day. Lynn cut out the sugar on the recipe and she didn't put in the full amount of jelly and it was great---still very sweet from all of the fruit. Also the kale recipe is just as amazing. The mango pairs perfectly with the kale...who would've thunk? If you can, make it a day or two ahead...it tastes better the next day! Lynn didn't use pumpkin seeds with it, but used sliced almonds...delish.

Go and make these recipes this summer, they WON'T disappoint!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

It's been a weekend of yard work for the Hoffman's! We spent all three days working in our yard, and man, we are tired now!

As some of you may or may not know, we bought our first house exactly one year ago. Our house was foreclosed and in awful condition when we bought it. Thankfully, the hubs and I had visions in our head of what would come of this house with such great potential. Within one year of owning this home, we have remodeled the kitchen, half bath, and one full bathroom, we have painted every square inch of the house inside, put in new flooring in the downstairs hallway, kitchen, half bath, laundry room and full bathroom. We put new carpet in one guest bedroom (the rest of the house has hardwood floors), had new siding put on our house, and took down about 20 trees. We have probably done more than that, but I will leave you with this for now.

These past few days my husband has been grinding the stumps from the trees that we cut down. After that huge project was done, we began working on the front bed of our house. We finished that today and have a couple more beds to go. We finished the beds in the very front of our house about a month ago which you can somewhat see from the pictures below.

Here are before and after pictures from the front of our house:

This picture was taken on the day that we closed...

This picture was taken on this past Saturday before yard work was done...

This picture was taken this evening...almost done (not the best picture, but you get the point)! Mulch is still needed, but almost there!

Here is the hubs hard at work with the stump grinder:

Of course our furbabies were with us for some of this journey:

After all of this hard work we were ready for a good meal. Hello hamburgers, grilled corn on the cob and watermelon!

What did you do this Memorial Day weekend? Did you relax or go, go, go like us?

**Also Happy, Happy Birthday to my wonderful brothers, Stephen and Michael...I love you!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Feast!

Although it's techincally not Memorial Day yet, we celebrated early. :) The hubs and I had our good friends, Lynn and Amit over for dinner last night. Lynn brought an AMAZING appetizer shown below and a fabulous side to go with our dinner as well. She always finds the greatest recipes! As soon as I get the recipes from her, I will post!!!! The appetizer was Fruit Salsa with homemade cinnamon pita chips...mmmm...

For dinner we had Cornell Barbeque grilled chicken, a kale and mango salad (thanks to Lynn---SO delicious!!), potato salad, and fresh watermelon. It was the perfect cookout! The Cornell barbeque chicken recipe is from my Mom. She makes this chicken quite often in the summer, yet I had never tried it before. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours and it was fantastic!!!! I doubled the recipe since we cooked 5 chicken breasts, and, I figured that more could only make it taste better. Daniel did a great job of grilling it and it just exploded with flavors in your mouth. The potato salad is an old recipe from a college roomie of mine at Clemson. She would always make this potato salad, and I loved it. I had forgotten about it until recently when I was going through some recipes.

Cornell Barbeque Chicken:

½ cup canola oil
1 cup cider vinegar
1 egg
1 Tbsp (or more) poultry seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp. Salt (sometimes I use a little less but you do need it)

Mix above and pour over chicken and marinate for as long as you like. Grill or bake.

June's Potato Salad:

5 lb. Russet potatoes, boiled and still firm
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 slices low-sodium bacon, cooked and chopped
about 17 oz. low-fat sour cream (I used fat-free plain greek yogurt!)
about 12 oz. low-fat Italian dressing
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. olive oil

-Boil potatoes until firm but not mushy. Chop potatoes. Cook bacon, drain fat from pan and quickly wipe w/paper towel (you want some grease/cracklins in pan). Add olive oil to pan and heat. Saute onion and peppers until translucent (onion) and very bright (peppers). In a separate bowl, mix sour cream (or yogurt) and dressing. Add a little at a time until desired flavor. In dressing bowl, mix in peppers, onions, bacon, salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing mixture over chopped potatoes and mix gently.

-Serve hot or cold. Better the next day!

Now for dessert, cause you just gotta have it...Chocolate Cake. nom, nom, nom. My best friend, Charlotte, gave me this chocolate cake mix for a housewarming gift. It was to die for!!!!!!! So moist and amaaaazing. I used regular vanilla frosting and topped the cake with an American theme of blueberry's and strawberry's. YUM. Perfect ending to a perfect dinner with fabulous company!

After such a delicious meal...we all felt like this...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Taco Salad

Taco Salad's always remind me of summer...tons of fresh veggies...a light meal for the humid and hot days.


1 can corn, drained
1 fresh avocado
Low-Fat cheddar cheese (or soy cheese!)
Fat Free plain Greek yogurt (used in place of sour cream)
1 green pepper, diced
Whole grain chips
Bag of lettuce
Ground turkey (make sure to get the low-fat kind!)
Packet of taco seasoning


-Brown turkey in skillet, then add taco seasoning and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

-While turkey is browning, cut up pepper and get the other toppings ready.
-When turkey is done, place lettuce on plate and add toppings as you choose!

Easy, delicious and nutritious! Enjoy...Happy Friday and Happy Memorial Day! I will be back soon with a Memorial Day dish :) Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bowl of Deliciousness

The hubs is out of town, so the girly meals are on. For dinner tonight I made a Kale and Sweet Potato Brown Rice bowl. Yum. Perfect dinner. I found the initial recipe here from Eating Bird Food. The only changes I made were that I used canned chickpeas...in the peanut sauce I didn't add brown rice syrup b/c I didn't have any on hand, and I did not put my peanut sauce ingredients in a blender...just mixed it up with a spoon until it became creamy. This meal was great and very filling! I have extra peanut sauce too, which I am excited about and wondering what to add it to next as it is wonderful. I am not the biggest chickpea lover, but in this dish it works great and compliments the other flavors. Mixed in with everything else, you barely even taste them.

P.S.- Here's to Oprah's last show today! I have loved watching her over the years. If you want to see a funny Oprah clip, go to youtube and type in "Oprah and Paula Deen have fun baking." It is hilarious! (For some odd reason blogger wasn't letting me post the link here) I am about to watch today's show thanks for DVR. In Oprah's words, "To God be the Glory!"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Delicious Bruschetta and Spinach Pasta

Not even sure where to begin this post, but this dinner was SO good!!!! My Dad came over tonight for dinner since Mom was out of town and the three of us enjoyed this fabulous meal. Yes, that is an egg you see in the top picture. I was a little nervous of how an egg would taste over pasta, but it was incredible. A fried, runny egg exploding over whole wheat pasta soaked in a bruschetta and spinach sauce...ah.ma.zing. This dinner was also great because it was A) easy B) quick to make C) CHEAP (!!!) D) healthy! 4 things that I love when cooking!

I found this recipe off a blog I enjoy reading, CookinFanatic. To find the recipe, go here. I followed the recipe to a tee, except I used a whole box of pasta (it was 16 oz. I think) and it still turned out great. Seriously go make this meal ASAP...it will be a hit! Oh, it also looks like it is super fancy and hard to make, so serve this to guests---very impressive, yet secretly easy. :)

I served this dish with a strawberry/spinach salad and garlic rolls...mmmmm. For dessert I made a banana cream pie. I used to recipe on the box of the banana pudding box but added melted chocolate on the bottom of the pie and then added caramel on the top of the pie...yes, I love my sugar...it's a problem. ;) This was also a hit and the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Tanner (my parents dog) and Zeus (our pug) were snuggling while we ate (they are best buddies) and I couldn't resist snapping a picture of them!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My new favorite breakfast...Overnight Oats

I have been reading about overnight oats for a while in a blog that I enjoy reading, Eating Bird Food, yet I still hadn't tried them...until today. Man oh man, I have really been missing out on life!!!!! Overnight oats is the PERFECT breakfast for people like me who have super early mornings and need a filling and nutritious breakfast to eat as they head out the door. Typically I have been eating a bagel with peanut butter or my true love---cereal (thrown in a large cup with milk and eating it in my car on my way to train). After eating these overnight oats though, I will def. be sticking with it!!! I still will not forget about my true love...cereal, however; this is SO tasty, filling, nutritious and just perfect. I can't even describe my excitement...haha. The other great thing about overnight oats is that you make it the night before (hence the name...), you put it in the refrigerator and the next morning as you head out the door grab the oats and a spoon and you're off! The oats will be somewhat on the cool side and I thought this may taste odd, but it really doesn't----I can't even explain how great this taste. Go make this tonight for your Thursday morning breakfast! I promise it will be the best start to your day. You can do MANY different kinds of variations with these oats, but I began with a somewhat plain and simple recipe. Below is what I had this morning and it was amaaazing:


1/2 cup Coach's Oats or any other kind of oats (my Mom and I order these online...so worth it, delicious!)
about 1/4 cup homemade granola (that my Mom made...filled w/chia seeds, flax seeds, dried fruit, etc.--yum)
1 T. chia seeds (go find these in your local health food store, SO good for you)
a few raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup vanilla soy milk


Throw everything into a bowl, stir, cover, and place in refrigerator. The next morning the oats will have soaked up the milk and it is ready to eat! Add a small dollup of peanut butter if your heart so desires.

*Another great trick I learned is once you have finished your peanut butter (or almond butter, etc.) jar, keep it and throw your overnight oats in this. That way you can get all of the "leftover" pb in the container and eat that with your oats...yumm...I did this this morning and it was amazing. Such the perfect breakfast for those of us on the go!

**If you are interested in a few other recipe suggestions for overnight oats, go here.

***I apologize for no picture...at 5:20 am this morning I was in a hurry and didn't want to take the time to snap a picture. I will next time!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chocolate-Mallow Crunchies

Need a quick, easy dessert? I had all of these ingredients in my kitchen and decided to whip these up. They were SUPER easy and cured the sweet tooth. Not the prettiest dessert, but they serve their purpose. Happy Monday.


30 Marshmallows
1 cup (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 cups Rice Crispy cereal
2 cups peanuts
2 cups raisins
2 cups pretzel sticks, broken (I didn't add these b/c didn't have them around, but I'm sure they would taste great in this!)


-Melt marshmallows, chocolate chips, and butter over very low heat, stirring frequently to blend. Combine remaining ingredients in large greased bowl. Pour melted mixture over the cereal mixture. Stir gently until all pieces are well coated. Pat into a greased 11" x 17" pan. Let cool to set. Makes one pan.

(I halved the recipe and put in smaller pan, worked great...b/c as you see from the picture we go through sweets quickly and it would be bad news bears if we had a huge pan of this...)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tofu Fried Rice

I love tofu and am trying to cook with it more often. Tofu is a great alternative to meat as it is low in calories, high in iron, it has little fat, and a high amount of protein. Many people cringe when one mentions tofu, but it really masks the flavor of other foods when cooking with it. My Dad is one of those people who cringes at the word "tofu." The other night my Mom made a peanut tofu stir fry (amazing) and after dinner I asked him how he liked the tofu. His response "What tofu?" I said "it was in the dinner we just had!" He replied "Oh wow, I was wondering what that was, but it was good!" That goes to show if cooked right, it is fabulous. Anywho, enough of my babbling...try this recipe below! We have tons of leftovers and I can't wait to have it for lunch tomorrow. :)

YIELD: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups) Original recipe found here


2 cups brown
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, drained and cut into (1/2-inch) cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices green onions
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon bottled minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
Thinly sliced green onions (optional)


Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
While rice cooks, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan. Add eggs to pan; cook 1 minute or until done, breaking egg into small pieces. Remove from pan. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to pan. Add 1 cup onions, peas and carrots, garlic, and ginger; sauté 2 minutes.
While vegetable mixture cooks, combine sake, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil. Add cooked rice to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tofu, egg, and soy sauce mixture; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

Note: Using frozen peas and carrots plus bottled minced garlic and ginger speeds up preparation of this simple Chinese standby. Keep any leftover sake tightly capped in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or you can substitute a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar for the sake.

*I served the fried rice with fresh organic asparagus that I lightly coated with olive oil, salt and pepper, then broiled it for about 10 minutes. Perfect side to this dish!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Easy Cheap Dinner #3

The hubs and I have been using our grill a lot in this perfect Spring weather. The other day I let chicken marinate in the below recipe overnight. The next day we grilled this and it was amazing! With our chicken we had brown rice and a veggie. We had leftovers, so while the husband was traveling for work, I had a gigantic salad with this chicken. Easy, cheap and nutritious. All I had to do was reheat the chicken and throw the salad together...yum!

Asian-Glazed Chicken (adapted from Cooking Light)


1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
3 T. honey
2 T. dark sesame oil
1 T. chile paste (I used Siracha sauce)
5 garlic cloves
6 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
Cooking spray
1/2 t. salt


1. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, chile paste, and garlice, stirring until honey dissolves. Pour vinegar mixture into a zip-lock bag. Add chicken to bag...marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour (more is better!).
2. Grill! Save some marinade to bask on chicken while it is cooking on the grill.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Supper

Sadly I don't have any pictures from dinner, so you'll have to use your imagination. I made Lemon Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli, my Dad made a great salad and my Mom made a Rhubarb/Strawberry Pie. It was a perfect meal! I found the pasta recipe from here...check it out for a picture and the recipe! The only thing different I did was to add fresh mushrooms that Mom had on hand, and I used fresh shrimp from our favorite seafood market---Bon Air Seafood in Richmond. I was a little nervous about the pasta being too "lemony," but don't be afraid...it really is the perfect blend of flavors and it is a light and delicious spring pasta. I don't have my Mom's pie recipe yet, but when I do...I will def. post. It was to die for! She gave us leftovers, so guess what we are having again tonight for dessert??!! :) I hope that all of the Mother's out there had a wonderful day. You all are so deserving and so so so important!!!!

Lemon Pasta with Shrimp & Broccoli

1 box (13 oz) whole wheat linguine or spaghetti
5-8 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced,
1 pound large shrimp
Fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, zest grated
2-3 cups fresh broccoli
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, optional
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Salt to taste

Cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in heavy pan, add olive oil over medium-low heat. Add broccoli and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, salt, and saute for about 2 minutes, just until shrimp warms through.

Turn heat off and add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Date Cake

As many of you know, or may not know, I get my love of cooking from my Mom (and Grandma--my Mom's Mom). I am blessed and so grateful that my Mom (and Dad!) live in Richmond just about 10 minutes from our home. Mom and Dad often invite us over for dinner, and we try to have them over, too. My Mom is always making something and sharing it with me as well. For my nephews 1st birthday this past weekend she made date cake. She was so sweet to leave me a few pieces to take home and enjoy. I have a HUGE love for dates (as does she). After taking a bite of this cake, it is now in my top 3 favorite cakes ever. YUM. This is an old but delicious recipe said to be Queen Elizabeth's favorite cake. My Mom got the recipe from my Nana (who was also a good cook). The cake only has a 1/4 cup of butter, yet it is so moist and melts in your mouth. This is a perfect light Spring dessert!

1. Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 cup chopped dates and 1 tsp. baking soda. Let stand while the following is mixed:
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup soft butter
1 tsp. baking powder
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts

2. Add all the above to the date mixture and bake in a greased 9 inch square pan for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
3. Mix the following and spread on the cake when it comes out of the oven.
5 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. softened butter
2 Tbsp. cream
Sprinkle the top with chopped nuts.
Note from my Nana: This is Queen Elizabeth's favorite cake recipe. At her request it must not be given but must be sold for 15 cents the money donated to a charitable organization.

...Were you wondering my top 3 favorite cakes? In no certain order, Carrot Cake, Cookie Cake and now...Date Cake!!!! What are your top 3 fav cakes?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

I wouldn't classify this as my #3 easy cheap meal, but it IS easy and absolutely delicious. This is the second time I've made this dish and it's still just as delicious as the first time. Per my husband's request, I made it tonight. The only change I made was that I used rotisserie chicken...this made it much easier than having to cut and cook raw chicken. I just pulled apart the rotisserie chicken and it was ready to go. Def. give this recipe a try, it won't disappoint!

Be on the lookout soon for easy cheap dinner #3! Have a great week.