> hey what's for dinner mom?


Devilishly Hot Pepper Sauce

This is a scorching hot version of our family Sriracha recipe, made especially for my hot sauce craving husband, maybe you know someone who likes it hot too? This Sauce cleared the kitchen while it was cooking so if you have little ones you may want to make this when they're not going to be in the kitchen with you. Definitely use the fan when you making this too because you'll want to move that steam right on out of the house. 

A while back I made a Chipotle Dipping Sauce a tad bit of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, leaving me to wonder what to do with the rest of the can of peppers in sauce. I don't like lingering leftovers so I made up a batch of the hottest hot sauce I could muster for my husband to enjoy. 

Devilishly Hot Pepper Sauce
*you will want to wear disposable gloves when working with peppers
 you need a large 1/2 gallon or so sized jar for soaking the peppers

1 pound hot peppers such as thai, cayenne, habanero, red jalapeƱos, serranos
1 7 ounce can of Chipotles in Adobo Sauce-found in most grocery stores
8-10 cloves of garlic
1 cup of vinegar-mix it up and use different flavors--I love rice wine vinegar and white wine mixed 
1/3 cup of honey 
1 tsp salt-you can add more after it's done cooking

wearing the gloves remove the stems from the peppers and roughly chop the peppers
put them in the jar
crush and peel the garlic and add it to the jar
mix the vinegar, honey and salt together pour over the peppers
let the peppers soak for up to 24 hours
once the peppers are done soaking pour them in pot 
bring them to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes
let them cool completely 
puree in a food processor until smooth, about 4-5 minutes
you can strain out the seeds with a food mill but they contain some of the heat so you may lose potency if you strain

Learn from my mistake drape a towel over the food processor BEFORE turning it on or you will have splattered hot sauce decorating your walls.

This sauce makes a GREAT present too. Anyone who likes Sriracha will love this homemade version!

And finally if you know someone who adores hot pepper sauce as much as my husband does this makes a GREAT present. It's quick to put together and then you can leave it for awhile and come back to it when you can. 

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I Spy Creepy Monster Eyes Pasta

Cheesy stuffed shells in a red sauce masquerade as monster eyeballs for a creepy but delicious Halloween inspired dinner, it's great for potlucks too. 

I finally got around to making these, I've been noodling (HA!) the idea around for a while now and finally time, ingredients and will collided in my kitchen. They look high maintenance but no they're easy to make.  Just put your kids to work if you need an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, it's not hard work though, mostly pleasant stuff like browning sausage and stuffing cheese in shells. The 11 year old was completely capable of browning the sliced Hillshire Farms smoked sausage and the 9 year old would have helped but there was emergency Lincoln Log construction project he needed to attend to. I like to get them alone in the kitchen anyway, it lets one of them download their day and we have some great one on one time together. Although all three of us work well in the kitchen together too, it's nice to just have one to talk with and concentrate on.

Creepy Monster Eyes
makes approximately 32 eyeballs in two 9x9 baking dishes-or one 9x13 and a pie plate-use what you have
oven 375˚

1 12 ounce box of large shells, I used Ronzoni
1 TBSP salt
14 ounces Hillshire Farms smoked sausage, ready to eat rope style
3 cups pasta sauce
4 cups ricotta cheese or 2 cups cottage cheese and 2 cups ricotta--use what you have!
2 eggs
2 TBSP chopped fresh basil--I used Gourmet Gardens Basil
1 tsp minced garlic--I used Gourmet Gardens garlic
1 1/2 cup fine shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup + 2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese, divided 
16 green stuffed olives

cook the pasta according to the directions on the box
meanwhile slice the sausage into about 32 pieces, one for each 'eyeball'
lightly brown the sausage over medium heat in a frying pan
once they're lightly brown, remove them from the pan and drain on a paper towel
carefully wipe the oil out of the frying pan and pour the pasta sauce in, warm the sauce over medium/low heat while the pasta cooks
once the pasta is done drain it and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process
toss with a little oil to keep from sticking and set aside
in a mixing bowl combine the ricotta/cottage cheese, eggs, basil, garlic, mozzarella and a 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese
spread the pasta sauce evenly between your baking pans, reserving a little to drizzle in and around the eyeballs
assemble the eyeballs
divide the cheese mixture as evenly as possible between 32 shells 
poke a slice of sausage flat down on the 'white' of the 'eye' in each shell 
slice the olives in half and if desired trim off the X end of the olive so the red will show through 
top each sausage slice with an olive half
drizzle any remaining sauce around the eyeballs as needed or desired
cover the pans with foil and bake 25 minutes at 375˚
remove the foil, sprinkle with evenly with the 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese and bake for 5 more minutes

this pan is a little bigger than 9x13--again use what you have, even multiple baking pans in different sizes

The box of pasta once cooked usually yields about 32 unbroken shells, I always toss the last of the broken cooked shells in a little casserole dish with any leftover cheese and a dab of sauce to top them off and make my husband a little cheesy dish for lunch the next day. 

My 9 year old son, made a face on his plate, we encourage playing with your food apparently and we reward it with photos. Grade A parenting, folks, right here, right now. 

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Thrifter Share [Vintage Linen Giveaway]

A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to keep them, sell them or give them, share them here first!

I've been out of sorts these last few weeks, busier than I want to be but at the same time loving it, normal routines turned inside out and upside down. Rhythms disrupted, no meal planning, everything just slightly off kilter, not in a bad away though, it's just different. Here's the real kicker, I've been purging and cleaning when I'm usually gathering goodies to give or sell. Or hoard. It feels good to get organized, to walk in a room and know that everything is exactly where it should be, or will be there very soon. 

While on my quest to conquer stuff I came across, I'm not kidding here, a drawer full of vintage linens, bulging full of vintage linens. Crocheted aprons, hot pads, doilies, pillow cases, embroidered tea towels and on and on and on. I even found a gallon bag of vintage hankies, there were 32 gorgeous old fashioned hankies in there. So much stuff I bought because I THOUGHT I wanted it. And I did at the time, I wanted every single old linen I could find. But I found that I have enough of them to last me a lifetime and I've started to sell off the extras.

But I found 6 hand embroidered tea towels with very simple produce designs on them and I thought 'hmmm this must be a sign'. Having JUST got back from Fresh Summit these struck a chord with me, too pretty to sell, too nice to donate I decided to give them away. No big wild and crazy rafflecopter entry needed either just leave a comment and I'll pick a winner at random. No seriously, I'll put my kids to work writing down names, we'll drop them in the hat and I'll announce the winner NEXT SUNDAY, so when I say I'll do it, what I really mean is they'll do it. HA! They love this kind of stuff. And because it's coming out of my pocket I'll have to limit it to the USA, sorry dear hearts who live far and wide my pocketbook can't afford to ship them to you!

So link it up, show me what you're digging up, I'd love to see it, because as you can tell I'm hardly getting time to shop. This week though I'll be in the thrift store at least once!

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Getting UnFit

I've been so busy the last couple of weeks, no really, every day top to bottom, scheduled to the max. I like to keep busy, it keeps me out of trouble but even the last three weeks or so have kicked my rear end. I'm ready for a break in the action and I'm looking forward to a more scheduled rhythm to our  daily lives. 

It's not just our weekdays but even our weekends that have been just as busy. Three weeks ago we butchered our pigs, a tough day for sure but a day of gratitude and hard work. The processing took just over 12 hours but the week that followed was filled with curing and smoking, wrapping and freezing. The weekend after that was a slumber birthday party for our 11 year, and a family party on Sunday, here. With a full Thanksgiving dinner to feed the family complete with a homegrown turkey "fried" in the Big Easy infrared turkey fryer. I mention that because I love to NOT have a turkey in the oven so everything else can be in the oven. Then the next weekend I spent in Southern California at Fresh Summit, which was amazing and I'm still processing it. I have a lot to write about my experiences, the fun, the food, but just integrating back into real life is taking a lot of time. 

Which we now seem to have in abundance, nothing planned for the coming week, or er 5 days or so, I will take whatever free, down time we have. We have a huge game of Risk planned and a new Pirates of the Caribbean treasure hunt game to figure out, and best of all it snowed last night so any summer/fall chores are off the list. 

But back to the name of this post, getting unfit, it happens so quickly! I was happily running 3 miles, 3 days a week, and lifting weights those days too, for a long time, and walking 2 other days a week just to keep moving. Then the crazy busy hit and the first thing to go was time for me. How did I manage to hold on to the time for me for so long and let it slip so easily? I don't have the answer, all I can say is that it snuck up on me, and suddenly running and weight lifting seemed so ponderous and time consuming. 

It's been three weeks since I ran, sure I walked a lot last week, but the thought of running three miles is so daunting to me right now. So I'm hitting reset. I'm starting out like I did last fall, I'm going for a walk, 20 minutes to clear my head, to take time for me, to get my body used to moving again. I'll add in running as soon as I think my body is ready for it. Or perhaps skiing because it's snowy out and surely the mountains must have snow to ski on! Either way I'm looking forward to the time I'm dedicating to getting fit again and the mental clarity that comes with it.

Just so we're clear I haven't gained weight, my clothes still fit and I've been pretty dedicated to my homemade power salad lunches. I just let the fitness slip part of my life slip but that's over now. 

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PMA Fresh Summit

I've just finished up here in Anaheim at PMA, Produce Market Association, Fresh Summit. The numbers I saw on twitter looked like there were 22,000 through the doors in two days. No wonder my feet are shot and anytime someone says hi I try to shake their hands, that was a lot of networking in 18 hour days. 

Friday was all about the sessions, digital media marketing, color trends in the floral industry, product transparency, even a workshop on how gen z will change the face of demand, and so many more. Sure a lot of them don't apply to me but you'd be surprised what you can learn from the people who are selling their products or who study color trends and shape the industry. 

And the samples of products were never ending. Watermelon, Jack Fruit, Cacao Smoothies, Kale Chips, Avocados 35 different ways, Berries, Figs, on and on and on. I met some great new brands too, Stoneridge Orchards, Bolthouse Farms, Mucci Farms, Garden Gourmet, Giorgio Mushrooms, Driscolls, Suavva, Rhythm Superfoods and so many more. I talked to a lot of brands about making sure they move forward now into the digital age, embracing digital media before it's too late and it morphs again. Many seemed receptive to idea and some are already actively telling their story, reaching out to customers and making connections via social media channels. 

There's so much to talk about especially the other bloggers from #teamfreshsummit but I'm headed out to Disneyland so it will have to wait for another day.

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Off to Fresh Summit

What's this Fresh Summit? Fresh Summit is the yearly Produce Marketers Association convention and expo. It's a coming together of almost 1200 vendors that help bring fresh vegetables to far flung locales and the corner grocery store. There will be producers, marketers, packagers, shippers, innovators and buyers on the expo floor, in the sessions and at all the events. But why would a blogger from Alaska need or want to go? 

Because I represent a sector of the end consumer, what happens THERE affects all of us in the supermarket. As the 'consumer' I have a unique position to represent, I'm the bottom line, the consumer of things they are selling. Or shipping. Or figuring logistics on. Or making better packaging so things stay fresh on their way to Alaska. I can say these are interesting to me (and my type), and that ______ is not or it might work better this way because the original concept just doesn't work for me. I may even have a fresh perspective they've not even thought of yet, although I doubt it.

So look forward to pictures, posts, thoughts about all things FRESH in the next week and if you have ANY questions you want me to lob at the big guys well then leave a comment and I'll be sure and try to squeeze it in when and where I can! 
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Mexi Tots and Smokey Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Remember Mexi Bites? Crispy little tater tot things, seasoned up and served at Taco Bell? Yep, I do 
too. I wanted some the other night but I don't eat fast food anymore, if I can help it that is, and I don't think they even exist there anymore, so I had to improvise. Oh I love it when I do that! I created the taste of Mexi Bites in a about 3 swift seconds and rounded out our meal in the process too. Have you ever heard kids cheering with their mouths full? These will make them cheer, guaranteed. 
Sometimes I amaze myself when I pull off something like this, saving a meal from being lame and create something delicious at the same time. Just so we're painfully clear sometimes I completely disappoint myself too, like when I tried to make pudding pops, or thought I should place a frozen homemade pizza on the oven rack, completely forgetting it was RAW dough. 

Take your tater tots to the next level.

oven 400˚

1 1/2 TBSP taco seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
pinch of black pepper
roughly 10 cups of frozen tater tots
gallon plastic bag

pre-heat the oven
pour the taco seasoning, paprika and black pepper in the gallon bag, shake to combine 
add the tater tots in a gallon plastic bag
close the bag and shake well to coat the tots
place the tots on a baking sheet in a single layer
bake 30 minutes or until crispy and crunchy but not burned 
Meanwhile why not whip up a spicy dipping sauce? It easy and your mouth will thank you for it. This sauce packs some serious heat so if you don't like heat, beware! If you want a smoky sauce but no heat simply leave out the chipotle pepper and the adobo sauce and add in 1-2 teaspoons of Spanish Paprika for a good smokey flavored sauce. 

 Chipotle Dipping Sauce
1/2 Chipotle Pepper +1 TBSP Adobo Sauce from a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, I use the kind straight out of the jar 
1 TBSP snipped cilantro
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided
whirl the peppers, Adobo sauce, the roasted red peppers, cilantro and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth
add half the mayonnaise, whirl to combine
scrape into a bowl and stir the rest of the mayonnaise in until smooth

It's important to note that if you don't mind a more smooth sauce, with a thinner consistency you can mix this in the food processor and skip hand mixing the rest of the mayonnaise into the sauce. 

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