Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chili Recipe

I know there are a ton of Chili recipes out there but this one is mine and is our favorite and the best part? It's super easy! During the fall you can add a small can of pumpkin and it adds a rich and creamy texture to the chili. I know it sounds a bit strange but it tastes good.

Samantha's Chili
3 small can's diced tomatoes
2-3 can's of beans, rinced (I use a mixture of kidney, black and pinto beans)
1.5 pounds ground beef
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons of my Taco Seasoning
  1. Brown the ground beef adding a little salt and pepper in a large pot. (I use an enameled cast-iron dutch oven for most of my soups and stews.) Drain.
  2. Return pot to the stove and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to low for about 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend together. Taste to see if you need some more salt or seasoning.
  3. Serve with your favorite condiments.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Ratatouille Recipe

Ratatouille is a traditional peasant meal from France and the name comes from a word that means to toss. This recipe is soooooo good and worth the time it takes! It does take some time to make, about 3.5 hours total. It's a perfect weekend side dish and is great when you have fresh vegetable from your garden or farmers market! You can most certainly make this throughout the year since we can find zucchini and squash year round but the fresh veggie's just make it even better! I really hope you enjoy it!

Ratatouille Recipe

1-2 small red, yellow or orange bell pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 sprig fresh Italian parsley
1 spring fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degress. Cut bell pepper in half removing the seeds, ribs and core and lay face down on a foil lined baking dish. Add 4 peeled cloves of garlic and drizzle everything with olive oil. Roast this mixture for about 20-30 minutes until the peppers are soft and the skin is easily removed and make sure the garlic doesn't burn-golden brown is the goal.
  2. Once peppers are finished roasting, remove and allow to cool until you can handle working with them. Then peel and finely chop peppers and garlic. Set aside.
  3. In a saute pan or sauce pan, heated over medium heat, cook the onion until it is slightly caramelized, soft but not too brown. Add in canned tomatoes, diced peppers, garlic, fresh thyme, parsley and bay leaf.
  4. Simmer on low, uncovered for about 30 minutes until the sauce is very thick and very little liquid remains. Season with salt to taste and remove herb sprigs.

Balsamic Drizzle

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients and set aside.


1-2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1-2 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
4-5 Roma or smaller sized tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small or Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced (optional, I've done it with it and without it)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Evenly spread the sauce on the bottom of a 8 x 12 baking dish.
  2. Arrange slices of zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and tomatoes in a pattern, repeating. Now this is where you can get creative: you can make one strip down and another strip going the other direction, you can make a spiral pattern like I did, etc. The whole point is to make it look pretty :). 
  3. Once the pan is filled, Drizzle the balsamic mixture over the vegetables. Cover with foil and back until vegetables are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Uncover and bake for 30 more minutes.
Serve this warm and you'll want a large serving, trust me. My mouth is watering just typing this! 

Serving options: We recently put the cooked Ratatouille on a nice white roll, topped it with some provolone and made it into a sandwich....it's super good!!! This is a great option to use as leftovers or lunch the next day.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 2015 Meal Plan

Hello everyone! Happy first of October!
Today is Meal Plan Monthly day over here! It is still super hot (in the 90's) here in Southern California and I'm kinda tired of it! So some of the meals are full blow summery type meals and others have the fall flair because I'm just ready! If you want to know more about how I meal plan, please visit the Meal Planning section to the right. I've written out my method in hopes that it can be of some help! I hope this helps you with your meal plans for the month and I'd love to hear what you are having for dinner this

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My Story

Today I'm getting personal and raw. If you know me personally, you know that I am an open book, I'm not afraid of emotions and tears but I've never written my story out before and laid my heart out for all to see. This is a long post but one I hope you find encouragement in. Grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and get ready to see my heart.  
Beautiful Print by Holly Holt
I was raised in two very loving, but split homes for my whole childhood. My parents divorced when I was

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cooking with Kids

Last year while I was taking my blogging break, I wrote a guest post for Marissa of All In Good Twine for her Mommy Monday segment. If you are looking for tips on how to cook with your kids, head over to check it out.

I am passionate about

Friday, September 18, 2015

Construction Birthday Cake

One of the things Aston always remembers about his birthday parties are his cakes. I love the tradition of making him (and Leia) a special cake or dessert for their birthdays. It's just a tradition I wanted to create for them. So when we decided to do a Construction Birthday theme, I went on a search for cakes to match. My inspiration came from here, here and here

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Aston's Construction 3rd Birthday Party

In honor of my baby boy's 4th birthday today, here is Aston's 3rd Birthday Party!

Last year almost everything Aston did or talked about were "Big Scoops!" All things heavy machinery and constructions! So when coming up with a plan and theme for his 3rd birthday, it was easy to decide.

We have really started to simplify our parties and although they look like a lot of work, they really aren't too bad. It just takes a little bit of effort.

Aston's birthday happened to fall on the HOTTEST weekend we had all year. It topped out at 115 degree's right before the party so some of the plans changed. The whole party was supposed to take place outside, but due to the heat and not much shade at our new house, we made some adjustments.

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