Friday, February 18, 2011

Contain Yourself

My friend, Candace and I are off to The Container Store today to replenish our supply of 12 oz. spray bottles. A couple of years ago, I decided to start making my own cleaning supplies. Initially I used the big 32 oz bottles I found at Home Depot, and then...I discovered The Container Store.

I placed one of these cleaning kits in each bathroom cabinet, under the kitchen and one in the laundry room. That way, I don't have to carry the stuff from one room to the next. If I want a quick clean up in the master bath, everything I need is right there.
Mini Bathroom Cleaning Kit
There is white vinegar in the clear spray bottle with the white top, disinfectant (water, alcohol, lavender essential oil in the clear spray bottle with the black top, peroxide in the silver bottle (I emptied a bottle of Method stainless steel cleaner), baking soda in the parmesan cheese container, white bar mops, micro cloths, and gloves.

I love the sizes of these because they fit just right in my hand and in the basket and I'm not lugging these big awkward 32 oz bottles around. When I'm done, I just toss the cleaning cloths in the laundry and refill the basket with fresh ones. I can be assured that the baths are cleaned, disinfected, and free from harmful chemicals. Oh, oh, oh and it saves a ton of money too. ☺

Monday, February 14, 2011

♥ Happy Valentine's Day ♥

Wishing you love, happiness and everything fabulous!
♥ Happy Valentine's Day ♥

It is always interesting to hear what people think about Valentine's Day. My mom says that every day should be like Valentine's Day. Some of my single friends dread the day because they feel they don't have anyone to celebrate with and they're feeling left out. I have always thought of the day as a great opportunity to celebrate the loves you cherish, whether they are husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, best friends, children, parents, co-workers. I love pink, red, and hearts. I love chocolate and Sweetarts and Valentine's Day is a great time to enjoy those things. So whether you are single or otherwise...enjoy the day. You Deserve It!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Heart Warming Soup ~ And Date Night Update

I love how momentum in one area just seems to be contagious and spreads to other areas. I had a great meeting with a new "branding expert" who will be supporting me as I update my company brand. Her name is Dorothy Wolden and she owns Creative Intuition. That's not what this particular post is about though ☺ It is about gaining momentum in healthier eating and I am continuing to connect with other wonderful bloggers who are on the same journey. One of the main purposes of this blog is to share the idea that we can still celebrate in grand style and yet do it in more healthy ways. That is why when I make desserts, I make them with the highest quality and yes, full fat ingredients, but do them in mini versions. My guests always feel satisfied and special. Nothing like a little gold flake on that mini sundae ☺to make you feel like a star! And so I digress...again.

I just wanted to talk about today's lunch. After my meeting this morning, I drove over to Whole Foods to pick up some organic, free range, chicken eggs and tart cherry juice for hubs (recommended by Dr. Oz for all manner of things, inflammation, sleep, cholesterol) and I was feeling like it was getting to be lunch time. As I perused the store, I came across a fresh soup bar and this delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup caught my eye...and nose.

Chicken Tortilla Soup, Multi-Grain chips & Prickly Pear Lemonade
I enjoy trying different versions of soups and this one is pretty good. When I got it home, I garnished it with a little dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro, and pared it with a handful of multi-grain tortilla chips. A refreshing glass of iced prickly pear lemonade was the perfect beverage. Who knew? And I feel really good about it. Admittedly, there should be a salad here, but that will come at dinner, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm doing well to stay away from the cream soups. Cream of Broccoli has got to be my favorite, with New England Clam Chowder a close second. Corn Chowder is pretty good too ☺ Do you have a favorite soup?

~~Date Night Update~~

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Date Nights have been getting better. Two weeks ago we enjoyed a very nice dinner at PF Chang's. Food was wonderful and I introduced hubs to Moo Shu Pork. Joel, our waiter, was extraordinary, not only in his attentiveness, but in his technique as well. Watching him prepare our sauces and later, the pork rolls was like watching a mini show. Of course, there was the 30 minute wait prior to show time, which in itself was its own entertainment. Three little tarts (had to have been barely 16), strutted in wearing teeny tiny short short (did I say short?) black tight, tight, (I said tight, right?) black dresses and stilty spikey 6 1/2 inch tall shoes. They all had gorgeous straight long hair and carried over sized bags. It really was the funniest thing to watch them standing there trying to keep their balance in those shoes. Wobble, wobble...I'm glad no one bumped into them. It would have had a domino effect on the whole tiny group of them. I feel for moms raising kids today.

Date Night Success
Last week, hubs suggested Mimi's Cafe and, oh boy I thought...Isn't that for the golden oldies? Okay, so it is, a little. No teeny tiny girlies, no ER sickroom, just a few of our Arizona Snow Bird crowd, whom we truly love (seriously)...but wait, there wasn't really a crowd, and the wait was only about 20 minutes. Food again, really surprisingly good. I had a wonderful Dijon salmon over a bed of deliciously prepared spinach (a fav), real mashed potatoes, and the best...really, the best asparagus I have ever, ever, ever tasted. Mimi's is known for their bakery and they did not disappoint us. My meal came with a salad and a mini (of course) dessert. I went for the Lemon Mousse (Don't do it, Yuck...this was like hospital mousse...gross) Rick went for the mini brownie and loved every 571 calorie bite. Our waiter, hmmmm, we'll call him Chris?, was awesome! So much so, Rick left an extra big tip.

Not sure what we are up to this Have a great one. ~Blessings, Janet

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love Sweet Love

Truly, I've never met a fruit or vegetable I didn't like. Like people, they are so colorful, have wonderful unique textures and personalities. They literally come in every color of the rainbow. Red tomatoes and apples, cherries, and strawberries, green spinach, limes and lettuces, blueberries and blackberries, yellow lemons, orange pumpkins and oranges, purple grapes and plums. The list seems endless. My new blogging friend, Manzanita of Wanna Buy a Duck (I mentioned her yesterday) got me to thinking about the healthier eating goals I have.

When I thought about what I might have for lunch today, I spied a perfectly ripe avocado sitting in the fruit bowl. I l.o.v.e avocados...and my favorite sandwich just happens to be an avocado, tomato, cheese, sprout sandwich on multi-grain bread.

I ate my before I got a picture of it...but this one taken by Divina of Sense and Serindipity of her delicious sandwich looks pretty close. My plate was a green paper plate left over from Super Bowl though. ☺Do you have a favorite sandwich?

Have a beautiful and healthy day! ~Blessings, Janet

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Strawberry Sophistication ~ A Healthy Alternative for Valentine's Day

It can seem like we never get a break from temptation when the stores are marketing decadent chocolates for Valentine's Day before we have digested Thanksgiving and Christmas. Manzanita, who authors the insightful, Wanna Buy a Duck commented yesterday on temptation and it sort of pulled me back...more like yanked me back to the reality that there really are delicious alternatives. It just so happens that Rick's favorite flavor is strawberry and there is just no shortage of inspiration for beautiful, sophisticated and delicious ways to prepare and display this sweet little fruit.

Of course we can go with a mini version of the original strawberry shortcake. 
Cristina Ferrarre arranged a trio of deliciously large sweet ripe strawberries dipped in a rich dark chocolate and garnished with delicate pink tipped rose petals within a decorative ring of chocolate sauce.

Lori of All That Splatters prepared this elegant plate of strawberry covered crepes. I might add a swirl of whipped cream...just cause :-). But what a nice alternative to the cream filled crepes, no? Yes. :-)

Taste of Home delivers this little cheesecake filled strawberry that is just enough to fill your sweet tooth and elegant enough to serve for a romantic dinner.
And if you want to go all out healthy and still have a beautiful presentation, take a look at Naomi's of Baker's Royale Fruit Filled Strawberries.
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. I am imagining a sweet little strawberry nestled in a puddle of fruit puree and garnished with a swirl of flavored pink whipped cream. What are you imagining? :-)

Remember, February is Heart Smart Month ♥

♥ Blessings, Janet ♥

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Bite Tuesday ~ Valentine's Day Favorites

I have a sweet spot for Petit Fours. Years ago when I was introduced to the elegant little dessert treat I fell in love with them. They provide a simple elegance to your dessert menu and are the perfect "just a bite" size. I love pairing them up with tiny mousse cups and panna cottas, and I have never, ever actually made them myself. I've always purchased them, which is why I am sharing this adorable little William Sonoma find.

1st Bite ~ William Sonoma Valentine's Petit Fours
Are they not just adorable? I love the simple and delicate heart decoration. Layered in raspberry jam and chocolate ganache, they perfectly compliment an after dinner dessert wine or cup of coffee.

I wasn't always a huge chocolate fan. Growing up, I would have chosen red vines over chunky, sours over Kisses. One evening, when I was in my mid thirties and dating Rick, received a box of Ethel M's chocolates as a gift when he had been on a trip back East...and I fell in love, with chocolate...the jury was still out on him :-). And every Christmas (and at other times) he surprises me with a custom box of Godiva Chocolates. What I learned, is that I LOVE chocolate, just not the cheap, waxy, stuff of, well, you know. Godiva has now opened a bakery, which brings me to this next scrumptious bite.

2nd Bite ~ Limited Edition Pink Vanilla Buttercream Cupcakes!

Really? Yes, really. Simple...elegant...delicious....and, of course, at $28, a little pricey for 6 cupcakes, but what the heck, we're not doing it every day. Splurge, go easy on yourself, indulge a little...and when they arrive at your door...enjoy! Have a great day! ~Blessings, Janet

Friday, February 4, 2011

Big Hugs for New Friends!

Another short post coming your way because I have my God-daughter, Great-Grand Nephew, and Niece in town for the weekend so there will be lots going on :-) However, when I saw this adorable mug by Emma Bridgewater, I thought of all of you and your great blogs. You are all so open and willing to share your lives out here in blogland. You just make my life richer.

Emma Bridgewater
Have a wonderful weekend....and I hope YOUR team wins! :-) ~Blessings, Janet

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Around the world at your table

Or just a state of the things Rick and I enjoy when we travel is finding at least one delicious meal that we talk about for years. It is even better when we can talk the chef out of the recipe and bring it home to share with friends and family. I love it even more when the dishes are as big a hit with them as it is for us.


Any trip to San Diego is not complete without at least one visit to Miguel's, our favorite Mexican food restaurant there. I had been vacationing in San Diego since my sister moved there in the early 90s but had not yet discovered Miguel's until Rick and I visited a few years ago and stayed on Shelter Island. They serve traditional salsa and hot sauce with tortilla chips as do most Mexican restaurants. In addition, they bring a delicious bowl of hot and a bit spicy jalapeno cheese sauce. At that time I had never asked for a recipe in a restaurant before, but this was so good we just couldn't resist. To both of our amazement, our waiter came back with a printed recipe card. We guessed they get that a lot :-)

It is on the menu for Super Bowl Sunday and I'm posting it below for you. ~Enjoy. ~Blessings, Janet

Miguel's White Sauce Dip

 2 c. Whipping Cream
 1 c. Sour Cream
 1 tsp. Chicken Base
 2 T. Clarified Butter
 1 T. Flour
 1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced
 1 T. juice from bottled jalapenos
 1 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
 1 oz. shredded Monterrey jack cheese

Heat whipping cream in a heavy saucepan over high heat. When the cream is ready to boil, stir in sour cream. After sour cream dissolves, reduce heat to medium. Stir in chicken base and jalapeno juice and simmer.
While cream is heating: Make a roux by warming butter in a saucepan over medium heat, adding flour, and mixing with a wire whip until mixture starts to turn pale gold.
Just before cream mixture is ready to boil again, add roux, whisking briskly and constantly until roux is incorporated. Remove from heat; stir in minced jalapeno and the cheese.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Local Love In ~ Tammy Coe Cakes

Oh my, she's done it again. Tammy Coe Cakes and Sweets are legendary here in the Valley of the Sun. I can not go into one of my favorite little gourmet luncheries and not walk out with at least a Tammy Coe Ooey Gooey Cupcake. Today I took a gander through her website to see what she has going on for Valentine's Day and she did not disappoint.

Sinsational Flourless Chocolate Cake (Serve 4-6)
I love you....Just sayin'
Be still my heart!
Hugs and Kisses
Famous Mini Ooey Gooeys (Just like mama used to make :-)
So many ways to say I love you! I love Tammy's signature fondant draped cakes. They are so unexpected, vibrant, and delicious. Love, love, love! Do you have a favorite hometown go to bakery? Or several?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Two Bite Tuesday ~ Making it pretty and handy

I am all about easy and about finding ways that are attractive to store ingredients out in the open. This is going to be a quick post cause I've got a list a mile long today, but I wanted to share these sweet ideas with you.

1st Bite ~ I found this test tube spice rack over at Target...on sale...and I thought it would be fun to re-purpose it and use it for my decorator sugars and confetti. Cute huh?

Sugars for all seasons
I love that I can put all the Valentine decorations in the front row making it an instant holiday decoration as well as practical and handy to get to when I make those mini cupcakes later on.

2nd Bite ~ I've been using this ginger jar and these adorable Japanese style bowls for my breakfast bar for awhile now and I thought I would share them today. The bowls contain sliced almonds, granola, and dried cranberries right now. Sometimes I'll feel like walnuts or other dried fruits and I switch it out. I don't have to take up space in the pantry and this makes a nice little display on the kitchen island.

Breakfast ~ It does a body good! :-)
Hope you all are enjoying this crisp winter day. Enjoy a warm bowl of steel cut oats and bake some yummy cupcakes. It's that kind of day! ::-) ~Blessings, Janet