Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hey folks, they're just meatballs! But they are soooo good for your next potluck.

There we were. The day was a sunny Sunday and the boys were getting out of the pool from their swim time.  They were hurrying to the bathrooms to get changed into their uniforms for the Boy Scout troop's Court of Honor.

Inside the main dining hall were cakes, cookies, salads of many kinds, probably about 4 different and wonderful homemade mac and cheese dishes and the dish I brought, barbecue meatballs.

As the boys lined up table by table, people were starting to fill their plates. Each plate had meatballs. They were the first to go. They always are! And because of that, I don't have a picture of this dish.

What's so great about this dish is how easy and cost effective it is. It's literally my potluck goto dish.

2 ingredients, 1 slow cooker

1 bag of frozen Italian meatballs. (I buy mine at Costco)

3 bottles of a GOOD QUALITY barbeque sauce (I love Bone Suckin Sauce but this time I used Lucielle's which I bought from Costco for $8 for 2 giant bottles. I only needed to use 1 bottle)

Put both in your slow cooker EARLY. 4 hours before the event. Set to high then turn to low or warm at the event.

This is such a great dish. I hope I just made your next potluck a little easier.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The holiday season needs to get here. I want these NOW!

Revisiting my seasonal favorite indulgence...Rum Balls

Recently a friend of mine asked if she can link to this recipe that I posted, I think about 2 or 3 years ago. Rum Balls are a treat I decided to make back in my 20's when I was super poor and single and needed a cheap but impressive dessert to bring to a friend's holiday potluck. I think I found the recipe in a Hershey's cookbook. It was great because I didn't have to cook them and back then I worked 3 jobs so I really didn't have time to cook a big hoopla of a dessert. Also, it involved alcohol. Well, I WAS going to a party so....yeah. Anyway, I tried it, it was a hit and I have made them every year every since. Below is my original post with the recipe. Enjoy!

I was born in 1969 so I have something in common with one of my favorite holiday indulges, Rum Balls. We were both born in the 60's. 

With the recipe below you can make some changes to suit your taste. I have experimented a lot and found that this is a pretty good recipe for experimenting.

  • Instead of the Nilla Wafers you can use shortbread cookies.
  • Instead of pecans or walnuts you can use hazelnuts. 
  • Instead of rum you can use bourbon whiskey (we use Maker's Mark).
  • Also try adding extracts. I have used coconut extract and cherry extracts in the past.   
They should sit in the fridge in an air tight container for at least 48 hours. Yield 4 dozen 

1 1/4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers (easiest to use a food processor for this) 
1 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts 
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar - J calls it snow)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I like to use Hershey's European Cocoa) 
2 tablespoons dark or light corn syrup 
1/4 cup of rum (do not use 151 because it is too dry and will not work well) 
Confectioners sugar, chocolate sprinkles, nuts and/or coconut for garnish 

Simply mix all ingredients up to the rum together in the order given above. Make little balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place in a bowl or container and cover. Place in refrigerator for 48 hours. Take out of fridge and roll in confectioners sugar or any of the garnishes listed and serve. 

They are so darned good. And of course, not for kids. I suggest making some with just flavoring for the extracts for them

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Food trucks, food trucks everywhere!

Oh yes, once again I turn to my blog after much time away. I've had this blog for many years, since 2006 and I really should use it more but really, is life that interesting? Is my life so interesting that I need to write all about it? Usually the answer is a solid NO! However, I have something to get out today and I think as long as time permits, I will write about this more as time goes on.

Ahhhh, the Great Gourmet Food Truck trend. In the Inland Empire where I currently reside near we cannot have these wonderful meals on wheels frequent the area. This lame county of San Bernardino has something against them and won't let them do business here. So twice a year they have about 50 trucks now meet in an arena in Ontario and charge a fee to get in on top of the fee for the food you buy. Not worth it. Not at all.

Two weeks ago my sweetie I dropped off my son at his dad's in Orange County. Since the OC is the mecca of so many amazing food trucks, including The Lime Truck which was the recent winner of The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network, we decided to hit Twitter and find some good eats.

We bounced back and forth between a meet-up in Fullerton and another in Santa Fe Springs. We chose SFS simply because both The Lime Truck was there as well as the Grill 'Em All truck which was the winner of season 1 of The Great Food Truck Race. I have to admit, it was a good choice.

When we arrived at the location there were about 12 trucks. The Cuban truck from the most recent Food Truck Race was there as well but we didn't try it. To be honest, I forgot about them and realized what truck that was way later in the night after I was home already.

The lines of course were quite long. I went in the line for the Lime truck and Duane waited for Grill 'em all. I ordered an amazing lamb sandwich and also ceviche. The ceviche won them one of the challenges on the show so that was a must to try. Duane and I shared them while still in line for the Grill Em truck which opened quite a bit later then the other trucks. The lamb was amazing. It was made with ground lamb so it was more like a flattened burger placed in a very soft and fresh pita. It has taziki with fresh crisp toppings and sriracha as well. The ceviche was so good it converted Duane into liking crab, shrimp and scallops! It was perfectly marinated with lime and seasonings and served with fresh tortilla chips. We washed that down with a White Peach Limeaide that was good but if the name of the drink has white peach in it, then it would have been nice to actually taste some peach. All I tasted was lime. But it was still good and very refreshing.

So finally we made it to the Grill Em window to order and we decided on the Waste ‘Em all burger which included a 7 oz. burger with green chilies, pepper jack and beer soaked onion. We also had a side of fries with chipolte ketchup. The burger was good and very fresh. The onions were the best part. The fries were...fries. And the chipolte ketchup was ok, mine is better. So while finishing off the burger we got in line for dessert. You didn't think we would skip dessert did you? We chose the Chunk 'n' Chip truck which had a variety of homemade ice creams and fresh and hot baked cookies. I chose german chocolate ice cream in between 2 chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Duane chose vanilla bean ice cream on top of crushed cookies which were also the chocolate chocolate chip. NOW THAT WAS GOOD!

I wanted so bad to check out the seafood trucks but no way, not in this trip. I was full and frankly, out of money. The trucks we went to averaged from $3 to $10 per item. The food was indeed gourmet and very fresh. This is a great trend for those looking for a good meal at a reasonable price. It's fun too. Makes for a great sneak a date night.

Maybe next time we will check out the meet-up in Fullerton. I really want to track down the Lobsta truck and Barcelona on the Go. Yum!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Wiggles Los Angeles 2010 - They never fail to please!

For some people taking their child to see a children's entertainment group is something they do because they want to give their child a glimpse of fun and happiness but they themselves will say to their friends about how much they cannot wait until the show is over. After all, it's not like going to rock concert or a show they themselves would rather be at, right? Well perhaps but I can tell you that is absolutely not the case with going to a Wiggles show.

OK, maybe for parents of a new wiggler but I guarantee once the show begins and by the time it ends, parents will be talking about the show as if they just left their favorite rock performer. I know this because once upon a time, say 6 years ago I was that same parent.

The 1st Wiggles show I took my son to was in Long Beach, CA and I got the cheapest seats I could buy. Not only that, it was a last minute thought. I saw a commercial on TV and thought about how much fun for my son it would be to see them live. After all, we loved the shows back then on Playhouse Disney. Once the show ended I remember trying to see if I could afford tickets to the San Diego show which was to be the next day and then also Los Angeles which was that weekend.

Nothing has changed except my son is 8, almost 9 now and doesn't watch the shows that are now on Sprout but he never wants to miss a live show. Why is that? Because simply put, The Wiggles rock!

This year was amazing as always but different. My tickets were located in the Orchestra section which at the venue I was at is the section right above the floor seats. Long ago these and the floor seats were called "Hot Potato" seats and would have some kind of a Wiggly treat waiting for you. This year was no different. There was a cardboard activity sheet on every seat in my section. On the floor seats they had the same thing as well as a Wiggly Guitar cutout that was quite large in size. Large enough that a child could certainly make believe they're playing their guitar with Murray.

They added acrobatics into the show as of last year and that continued as a main theme this year. The theme and name of the show was Wiggly Circus although it wasn't very circus-like. They had "Ringo the Ring Master" as they did in the movie that was in the theatres not too long ago. (if you missed it I'm not surprised. The movie wasn't advertised very well. It was from a live show they did in Australia) They certainly don't have as many dancers on tour with them anymore. The large extravagant sets are gone and a simple stage is what you see. The jumbo video screens are gone too. It's very much back to basics like when I first saw them in Long Beach. But seriously it doesn't matter! Sets, schmets. They give the audience a full show leaving you totally entertained and smiling.

They visited many older songs like rock-a-bye your bear, fruit salad, the monkey dance, Here Comes a Bear, Captain Feathersword Fell Asleep On His Pirate Ship (Quack, Quack), Hot Potato and more. They also went into the audience quite a bit. For those that have never been to a Wiggles show you must know that they collect roses the children bring for Dorothy during the show. There is always at least 2 of the Wiggles along with a few Wiggly Dancers depending on the size of the venue that go into the audience to do this. It's always exciting seeing your favorite dancer or a Wiggle come to you and get your roses and of course if you brought one, a bone for Wags the Dog. Well this year, ALL FOUR WIGGLES collected roses and we were fortunate enough to have Anthony collect ours. He very graciously took a picture with my son and his friend. My son is the older one. It made their day!

After the show we stopped to talk to one of the main sound guys. I believe his name was Arnie. He was very nice and answered my question about Miki Field, Anthony's wife. Miki is listed as an entertainer in the program but I didn't see her on stage. For those of you with enquiring minds, it turns out Miki was not there after all. She was indeed on the UK leg of the tour and she will probably come back to "visit" during the latter part of the tour but she is taking care of the children back in Australia at this time. Also some info we received was about Alex. Alex used to be the main sound guy and we would always say hello to him as well. I know what you're thinking and we are not crazy, we actually have a reason for talking to these people and I will get to that in a minute. Anyway Alex is now working at Hot Potato Studios in Oz. He works with various bands that record there as well as the productions of The Wiggles. Last year Alex left the tour early as his second child was arriving. Now for the explanation of why we go to the sound booth after the show. A while back an amazing woman from Texas who will remain nameless for this blog post started collecting the bones that people would bring for Wags and then donate them to the local animal shelters. She soon organized people from all over the world to do this and I'll tell you, it's an amazing effort. So at the end of the show we go to the sound booth and collect the bones. For more information about collecting bones in your area please leave me a comment and I will put you in touch with someone who can help you organize that.

Well another year down and does my son want to go again next year when he's 9 going on 10? Crazy enough, YES! He really has a great time and until he says no, well this Wiggly mom is going to happily say yes and get ready to Wiggle!

Thank you US Family Guide for giving me the tickets to the show and allowing me to post my link to your site. If you are interested in reviewing a show and/or submitting your family friendly blog, go to

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Easiest and BEST pot roast recipe EVER!

It's been such a long time since I posted to this blog but I am back! I'm going to start updating it more and hopefully I have at least one of my readers still. (right dad?)

So I work from home now so I have time to actually slow roast. This is good because I can purchase lower priced meats and braise them long enough that they taste amazing.

Well, I have a pot roast recipe for you that I have recently fell in love with. Jonathan, who is now 8 doesn't like the traditional way I made this roast but he'll eat it this way!

What you'll need:

2 pounds of boneless chuck roast
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted Butter
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 bottle of red wine
2 cups of Vegetable Stock
2 cups of Beef Stock

What you'll do:

I use a Dutch Oven but you can use any heavy bottom pot as long as it can go from stove top to oven.

Pre-heat oven to 350
Heat oil and butter
Sear Roast on all sides
Set Roast aside
Add Onion and garlic and let cook for about a minute
Add the ENTIRE bottle of wine
Reduce until you have about a cup of wine in the pot
Add your roast back in pot
Add the stock
Place in oven and cook for about 3 hours
Take out and enjoy!

I serve this with mashed potatoes. The texture of the mashed potatoes and the richness of the meat go so well together.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Easiest Meatballs Ever!

There are only so many hours in a day so of course whenever I can take a shortcut and still make a great and inexpensive meal I am a happy person! So here is my recipe for the easiest and a great tasting spaghetti and meatballs using one of my favorite kitchen appliances, the slow cooker.

For this I use the meatloaf meat from the butcher department in my grocery store. The reason is shortcut, shortcut, shortcut! It's already well seasoned and makes for great meatballs.


2 lbs. Meatloaf (raw of course)
1 egg
Italian breadcrumbs
1 can or jar of pasta sauce
1/4 cup water


Mix meatloaf and egg. Add enough breadcrumbs to bind. Lightly spray crockpot oil. Make meatballs about the size of a medium sized meatball. Not too small and not too large. Place meatballs in crockpot and cover with sauce and water. Set to low and in about 6 hours you will have perfect meatballs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A New Job for Dilly is HERE!

I was so excited to check my mailbox and find a children's book I pre-purchased a while back. It's called A New Job for Dilly and is written by Rena Jones, Illustrated by Lisa Oakman.

This Dilly book is great. It is one of those books you want to read over and over and over. It's about a mouse named Dilly that LOVES pickles, especially the sour ones! (I can relate!) Dilly needed to be able to get more pickles so he set out to get a job. This book goes from A-Z and is perfect for any young child from around 4-8 years old.

When I got the book I showed it to Jonathan and he read it to me. He also brought it to school and read it to his class. We love this book and I think have already read it about 100 times! Our favorite page is when Dilly tried to be an electrician and he shocks himself. The picture cracked us up! The illustrations are so cute. (click here to visit the illustrator's website)

Rena Jones, Author Extraordinaire

I not only bought the book to support my friend but to support a new author. This is Rena's 1st published book. Rena always loved writing. She spent most of the 1990s writing letters to pen pals. Around the same time, she self-published three newsletters for pen pals. I wish I knew her back then because one of her newsletters was all about coffee! YUM! She began writing for children in 2003, after visiting Glacier National Park in Montana. A little mountain goat inspired her to write a story about him and her love for writing children’s stories began.

Rena is a home educator to her children and has been doing so for 11 years. Yup, 11 years! She also enjoys photography (Rena is an AMAZING photographer!), wildlife watching, camping, national parks, kayaking, music and even sour pickles. When not writing or taking pictures, she is usually being entertained by the crazy wildlife that frequents her mountain home. Seriously, she has crazy bears, name it! So different from Southern California!

Read to your child!
I have been a huge advocate of Reading is Fundamental for a very long time. I believe reading to your child every day for at least 15 minutes a day. When your child gets to the age where they are reading their own then have them pick out 2 books. One for them to read to you and another for you to read to them. It not only helps the child love books but they will become really great readers and gain a wonderful vocabulary. Spelling will come easier as well as more and more words become familiar.
Win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly!
All you need to do is leave a comment on at least FOUR of the seven blog stops. (blogs listed below) Rena will put your name in a pot and a winner will be chosen at the end of the tour. Please make sure she has a way to contact you. Please give your email address and at least your first name.

But remember, you have to reply to at least FOUR different stops to qualify. Rena will contact the winner at the end of the tour to find out how they'd like the book to be signed. Thanks and good luck!

June 21st – Sherrie Petersen

June 22nd – Beth Reinke

June 23rd – Elysabeth Eldering

June 24th – Sharon Spray (THAT'S ME!)

June 25th – Adrienne Saldivar

June 26th – Nikki Shoemaker

June 27th – Vivian Zabel

CLICK HERE to visit Rena's website.

CLICK HERE to visit Rena's Blog.

CLICK HERE to purchase the book.