Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mexican Shrimp Ceviche Recipe and Tutorial

Recently, I began another quest to eat healthier and lose weight.  I refuse to follow a tasteless diet regimen and give up flavor in an effort to achieve my goals.  So, I always find a way to include delicious food in my regular eating plan.  Why sacrifice taste when you don't have to?  And - I must be doing something right.  In a two week period, I have dropped 18 1/2 pounds.  I don't feel like I am missing out on anything, and I am not starving myself.  The recipe and tutorial below is one of my favorite foods to eat when I opt to eat healthier.  It is reminiscent of the shrimp ceviche you can find at any good Mexican restaurant.  The best news is you can make a big batch of this for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay in a Mexican restaurant.  It is a win-win from every aspect. :)

Two Crafty Mules - Mexican Shrimp Ceviche Recipe

 I should mention that the recipe below is my own, based upon my personal preferences.  For example, I did not utilize a whole onion in this recipe, because I didn't want the onion flavor to overpower the taste of the recipe.  You may elect to use a whole onion.  It's up to you.  Either way,  I encourage you to alter the recipe to meet your own preferences. 



12 oz Shrimp, Extra Small, Frozen, Cooked and Defrosted
1 large green bell pepper
1/2 large onion, raw
1 1/2 cups tomato (about 2 large or 3 medium-sized tomatoes)
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1 bunch cilantro, fresh
1 jalapeno pepper
1 lime
3 tsp oregano, dried 
1 7 ounce can salsa (I used Herdez Salsa Casera)
Seasoned salt (to taste)


1) Chop bell pepper into small pieces.  Put pieces into a large bowl.

2) Dice onion into small pieces. Add to large bowl.

3) Chop tomatoes; add to bowl.

4) Dice jalapeno pepper into finely chopped pieces.  If you want your ceviche to have a spicier taste, leave in the seeds.  If you desire a milder ceviche, discard the seeds.  Add to bowl.

5) Cut the avocado into bite-sized pieces.  Keep in mind that these will break down somewhat when the ceviche is refrigerated.  Add to bowl.

6) Chop cilantro into small pieces using a knife, or kitchen shears.  Add to bowl.

7) Add defrosted shrimp to the bowl; mix all ingredients together.

8) Cut the lime in half.   Squeeze the juice of both halves over the ceviche.

9)  Mix the can of salsa into the ceviche.

10) Season the ceviche with seasoned salt (to taste) and dried oregano.  Mix well.  Cover bowl and place it into the refrigerator, allowing it to sit for a minimum of one hour in order for the flavors to meld together.  This is delicious served with saltine crackers.  Enjoy!!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Making a Family Cookbook from Scratch

My daughter, Brianna, celebrated her 23rd birthday a couple of weeks ago.  When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she replied, "I want a cookbook of all of your recipes."   This was not an easy task to accomplish.  First - like many people out there - many of the recipes I make are in my head.  I measure ingredients by sight and taste on many things.  Oh, sure, I do have several recipes written down or bookmarked in favorite cookbooks, as well, but I often improvise on these, too, to make them my own.  In addition, while I knew I would "someday" make recipe books for each of my kids, I knew it would be a large undertaking, as well as time consuming.  I am currently a full-time college student, plus I work part-time for a non-profit agency and run my own little jewelry business. Where in the world would I find time to construct a family recipe book?

I wanted this book to be special.  I wanted something that was more than just recipes.  I wanted this to be a generational cookbook; one that featured recipes not just from me, but also from my mother, grandmother and other family members.  I wanted it to be personalized with family stories and memories of food that will be otherwise lost when the older generations pass on.  In addition, I wanted to share special family pictures and my own cooking "secrets" that have worked for me over the years.   It was important to design the book in such a manner that my daughter can add her own recipes to the book, so she can eventually pass it down to her kids.   Last, but certainly not least, I did not want to have to create a book totally from scratch due to my tight time constraints.  (I had about 6 weeks to complete the book from start to finish, and that is not a lot of time.)

I ended up purchasing a pre-designed recipe/scrapbook from Hobby Lobby.  The book came with a set of designed tabbed dividers, several colorful scrapbook pages, page protectors and decorative recipe index cards.  Of course, I had to purchase additional recipe cards and pages in order to ensure I could put everything I wanted to include in the book.  Using the book as my template, I purchased other items to decorate and design the book, such as scrapbook paper in coordinating colors, vintage-looking paper flowers, lace, ribbon, buttons and cooking-related stickers.   All in all, I think the book turned out beautifully.

I began the book by writing a heartfelt letter to my daughter about my own cooking experiences and how I wanted her to make this book her own by adding her own recipes and memories to it.  Immediately following the letter, I designed a page of the four generations of women in my family that are (and will be) the main contributors to the book - namely, my grandmother, my mother, me and my daughter.

Generational family cookbook - four generations and counting.

I included individual pages about each generational member (the cookbook "authors") of our family, such their photos, their names, where they were born, dates of death and birth date information.  These pages were decorated with lace and flowers to give them an antique-heirloom feel.

The pages about my grandmother and mother.

The pages about me and my daughter.

One the front of each tabbed divider page, I wrote humorous food-related experiences encountered by our family members.

The back of each tabbed divider contains more photos of the women within our four generations.

Decorated divider pages. This is of my grandmother.

  Decorated divider pages. This is of my daughter when she was little.

No recipe book is complete without a few kitchen secrets. These are a few of mine.

Kitchen secrets page.

 And, of course, it is important to include pictures of some of the recipe highlights from the book:

Featured recipes pictures.

Featured recipes pictures.

Featured recipes pictures.

 When the book was completed, it was quite thick, but it still has room for additional recipes to be added in the future.

The completed recipe book.

The completed recipe book

My daughter loved her book.  She is getting married next month, so it is ready just in time for her to begin adding her own recipes to the book; an heirloom in the making.

Brianna and her family cookbook.

Brianna and her family cookbook.

To anyone thinking about making a family cookbook - you don't have to be an avid scrap-booker in order to create something like this.  Just be sure to allow sufficient time for it to be completed.  It took me six weeks to complete this book, and I had to work on it every day during that time period.  To make it really special, I'd also recommend handwriting the recipes and such in order to give the book some personal flair.

An another note - since I am sharing family information on this post, I want to announce that there is a new bud on my family tree.  I became a grandmother in July- for the first time ever (courtesy of my son and daughter-in-law)  to a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy name Oliver (Ollie).  He has absolutely stolen my heart.  There is no doubt you will be seeing more of him and creations made for him on this blog in future posts.

Me and my precious grandson, Ollie. ♥

My little sidekick. LOL

Sweet little Ollie.
Please be sure to follow my blog here or through Facebook in order not to miss any future posts.  As always - have a creative day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

French Onion Soup Recipe - Just Like Panera Bread's Recipe!

About ten years ago, I stumbled onto a French Onion Soup recipe on the internet that was touted as being just like the one served by Panera Bread.  I made it - and was hooked.  It is one of my "go to" recipes when I want something satisfying and tasty.  It also fits the bill as being fairly healthy.  In June, I was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic and have drastically changed my eating habits since then.  I've cut out most starches, sugars and flours, and have opted for meals that utilize mainly complex carbohydrates, like fruits and veggies, as well as protein.  As a result, I have lost 35 pounds in a two month period.  (And no, I am not starving.  I eat up to 1500 calories per day.)  That being said, I wanted to share this recipe. 

Without further ado, here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Panera Copycat Recipe - French Onion Soup

Soup Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, unsalted
8 cups  sliced onions (about 4 or 5 medium), raw
4 cups (2 cans) beef broth
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp white flour, all purpose
1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz) water
1 tbsp tomato ketchup 
1 1/2 tsp pepper, black
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme, ground
1/4 tsp garlic powder
A couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce


1- 10 oz Italian bread loaf  (I used Walmart's Marketplace Bake at Home Bread)
8 slices Asiago Cheese (Note: Fresh Asiago cheese is hard to find in my area, so I used the sliced cheese. If using fresh cheese, shave the cheese with a potato peeler.)


Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add sliced onions and saute until the onions turn brown (about 20-25 minutes), stirring often.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot (except for garnish ingredients) and stir until ingredients are mixed in. Heat soup to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, prepare the croutons.  Slice the loaf of bread into slices approximately 1 inch wide; cut each slice into quarters and spread the pieces out in a large baking pan. (Note: Most crouton recipes (including this original recipe) require the bread to be buttered before being baked, however, I have omitted the butter in line with keeping this a more healthy recipe. Once the bread is in the soup, you won't notice the difference.  I promise! :)  )  Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for approximately 8 minutes.

To serve:

Ladle hot soup into a large bowl. Float a few pieces of croutons on top of the soup, followed by a slice of Asiago cheese. (Note: If using the fresh Asiago, sprinkle two tablespoons of cheese on top of the soup.

Makes 8 1-Cup Servings.

Nutritional breakdown:

Calories: 283.4
Total Fat: 12.4 g
Cholesterol: 16 g
Total Carbohydrates: 34.5 g
Total Fiber: 3.7 g
Protein: 10 g

And there you have it!  Hope you like it as much as I do!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Buttery Caramel Recipe & Tutorial

I love making homemade candy every Christmas.  I also enjoy giving candy away to friends and neighbors as little gifts.

The first couple of years that I made caramel from scratch, it was not a positive experience.  I followed other suggestions I'd found to a "T" for the preparation, but it just didn't work for me.  For example, many recipes suggest using foil to line the caramel pan.  This was a disaster.  The foil, even though it was buttered, stuck to the caramel and it was quite a chore having to pick off the little pieces from the candy.  Ugh.  Then - trying to cut the caramel with a sharp knife was difficult and my hand was really sore by the time I finished.  Through trial and error, I found that when making this type of candy, it is best to ALWAYS use parchment paper to line the pan.  It never sticks to the candy and it can be easily removed in one sheet.  Second, I use a dough scraper (like this one) to cut the caramel into pieces.  It is MUCH easier to cut the caramel, and the little handle on the scraper is easy to grip onto.  Now, caramel making is a more pleasant experience - that's for sure!

Anyway, this is the recipe I use for my caramel.  It is buttery and yummy, and people love it.  Enjoy!

Homemade Buttery Caramel Recipe:


1 pound of butter (4 sticks)
2 pounds of brown sugar (1 bag)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups light corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Optional: Chopped walnuts (1-2 cups, as desired)


1) Melt butter in a heavy deep pan.

2) Add sugar and salt; stir thoroughly.

3) Stir in corn syrup and mix well.

4) Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.

5) Cook and stir over medium heat to firm ball stage (245-250 degrees). This will take approximately 12-15 minutes. I strongly recommend using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature.  The candy stages are usually clearly marked on the thermometer, making the candy "goof-proof" to make.

6) Keep on stirring.  The mixture will be quite bubbly.  When the firm ball temperature is reached, remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.

7) If desired, nuts may be stirred into candy at this point.  Otherwise, skip this step and go onto step number 8.

8) Pour caramel into a large parchment paper lined pan. (The pan I used was 18" by 13").  Let cool.

9)  Lift the cooled caramel out of pan, picking it up by the parchment paper.  Use the dough cutter to score the candy and cut into squares.  I make all of the cuts in one direction first, then turn the pan 1/4 of a turn and cut the other direction.

10) Separate the caramels and wrap them with cellophane candy wrappers.  I use a 4 1/4" by 4 1/4" size, which seems to be a perfect fit.  I purchased my wrappers from here.

Yield:  Makes 5 pounds of candy, or approximately 135 1-1/2" pieces.

Happy candy making!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chicken Spinach Tortellini Soup Recipe

We've had unseasonably warm weather all winter until today.  We had a freezing cold drizzle that lasted throughout the day.  It's my favorite weather for making homemade soup, and that's exactly what I did when I came home from work today.  I had some chicken breasts left over from dinner last night, and thought they would be the perfect addition for my soup.  NOTE:  For the diet-conscious individual, one cup of this soup contains only 194 calories, 4 grams of fat, 25 carbohydrates and 14.5 grams of protein.  Satisfying, delicious AND good for you!  My kind of recipe!

Chicken Spinach Tortellini Soup

Water, 8 cups
Better Than Boullion Chicken Base, 4 teaspoons (if you desire a less salty taste, reduce base to 3 teaspoons)
Onion, 1 small, chopped
Leftover chicken breast (no skin) - 3 breasts (about 7 ounces), cut into bite-sized pieces
Spinach, frozen, 1 package (10 oz)
Tortellini, pasta with cheese filling, 3 cups (8 ounces)

Put water, chicken base, onion and chicken into a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium heat. Continue to simmer until the onion begins to turn translucent, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put frozen spinach into a microwaveable bowl with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high heat until spinach is hot, about 8-9 minutes.

Uncover spinach and add it to the soup mixture. Add tortellini. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for another 15 minutes until tortellini is cooked all the way through.

Serving Size: Makes 7 1-cup servings


Monday, October 3, 2011

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe

This weekend, my daughter and I found apples on sale for $1.00 a pound at the local grocery store. I couldn't resist; I ended up buying a bag of these little beauties. Now that we finally are experiencing our beautiful autumn weather, I've been itching to make something with apples. There's nothing quite like the scent of baked apple desserts wafting through the entire house. It's the perfect complement to a chilly autumn day.

This recipe - which is a breeze to make - uses a packaged cake mix that is doctored to taste homemade. My family loved this. And, don't forget to serve it with vanilla ice cream for a really yummy treat.

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe


6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into wedges. (I used a combination of 3 Granny Smith apples and 3 McIntosh apples.)
1 stick butter, salted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small package vanilla pudding mix (3.4 ounces)
3 eggs
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pan, melt one stick of butter with the brown sugar. Once it is melted, stir in the vanilla extract and apple slices. Cook over medium heat until apples have softened and released their juices (about 15 minutes) stirring occasionally.

While the apple mixture is cooking, begin working on the cake base. In a large bowl, combine all of the cake ingredients. Mix with blender for 2 minutes. The batter will be thick in consistency.

Pour apple mixture into a 13 x 9 inch pan.  Spread the mixture evenly so it covers the entire bottom of the pan.   Spoon the cake batter over the top of the apples.  As the batter is quite thick, it may be necessary to use a spatula to bring the batter to the edges of the pan. 

Bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Take the cake out of oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Fun Recipe - Homemade Ice Cream from Snow!

I can't take credit for this recipe idea as I found it on the internet, but I did change it a little to meet my own personal taste (and my love of all things vanilla.)  This is a really cool way to make homemade ice cream from fresh snow.  Plus, if you have younger kids, this is a great way to make a new memory with them.

Snow Ice Cream

One gallon (or a huge bowlful) of fresh snow
1 cup white sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla ( or, if you are like me, 2-3 tablespoons.  ;)  )

Gather snow in a large, clean bowl.  Add sugar, vanilla and evaporated milk.  Stir with large spoon.  The snow will thicken up quickly and have the consistency of soft ice cream.

Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beefy Vegetable Rice Soup

I'm a huge fan of homemade soups and stews during the winter time.  I made this hearty recipe today using leftover rump roast and ingredients I already had in my refrigerator.  It's super healthy, too at only 142 calories per cup and 3 grams of fat.  Enjoy!


* Water, 10 cups
*Beef boullion cubes, 6 cubes
* Garlic cloves, 3, chopped
* White Rice, long grain, 1 cup uncooked
* Celery, raw, 2 large stalks, cut into 1/2" slices
* Onions, raw, 1 medium, diced
* Carrots, raw, 1 cup, chopped
*Potato, raw, 2 cup diced
* Beef Bottom Sirloin Butt Roast, cooked and shredded, 2 cups (about 12 oz)
* Black pepper, 1 teaspoon

Put all ingredients into large pot, except for beef and black pepper. Bring to boiling over medium high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in beef and black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Makes 10 - 1 cup servings.
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