Monday Motivation: Super Easy Mexican Yumminess in the Slow Cooker

July 11th, 2017

So good!

My family loves slow cooker Monday!

I doubled the original recipe so we could have leftovers. I mixed a little white rice and the chicken mixture in a bowl, and placed it in a warm tortilla. I garnished it with a Mexican mix cheese and sour cream. Yummy!

2 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
2 large chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
2 (10 ounce) cans tomatoes with chilies (Rotel)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 1/2 lime
Spray and then grease bottom of crock-pot with cooking spray.
Spread corn into the bottom of the pot and lay chicken on top. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning. Layer on tomatoes and then black beans.
Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
When done, shred chicken with two forks (it will fall apart easily).
Mix in cilantro and lime juice.
Serve in tortillas with rice, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.

Attribution: Garnish and Glaze. Recipe Source: adapted from cookbook “365 Day of Slow-Cooking” by Karen Bellessa Petersen

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Monday Motivation: Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

June 12th, 2017

I have Mondays off, and therein lies stellar motivation. When the rest of the working world head off to begin their week, I get a day to catch my breath after a busy retail weekend.

I begin the day laying in bed and staring at the ceiling. I don’t have to get up! When I finally rise I make my way to the kitchen and brew a bucket of coffee. Then, I commune with my orchids and enjoy my coffee al fresco.

Once the coffee has kicked in, I drive seven minutes to a local yoga studio. The focus on breathing, flexibility, and slow movement is the best thing I have added to my life in recent years. I love yoga and recommend it to everyone who asks!

I enjoy being in my home, and I especially love to prepare a nice Monday dinner. During the week I comb the Internet for slow cooker recipes that are as gourmet as any dinner prepared on the stove or in the oven. This beef and broccoli recipe received rave reviews. Even better, after twenty minutes of prep, I didn’t touch it again until I emptied the bag of frozen broccoli into it. Now that’s my idea of a great dinner. Enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds flank steak
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups of frozen chopped broccoli
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1. Cut flank steak evenly into 5 pieces.
2. Place steak in slow cooker.
3. Mix all other ingredients other than the broccoli and pour over steak in slow cooker.
4. Cover; cook on Low for 6 hours.
5. The last hour of cooking, add chopped broccoli.
6. Let broccoli steam on top of the beef.
7. Cover; cook one hour longer or until broccoli is tender.
8. Beef will fall apart, so simply serve with white rice.


Why Not… Write a Letter?

May 10th, 2017

I love to send handwritten notecards.

Why Not? Two little words with limitless possibilities.

The other day I was rooting through a drawer in search of a pair of earrings (I admit I am obsessed with earrings) and I came across a dogeared journal. I sat down on the floor and ran my hand over the leather binding. I had forgotten I had it. Life gets busy and years slip by quickly. Inside were the scribbles of a young woman, a few sweet attempts at poetry, and a section where she outlined simple hopes and dreams for her future.

Another time, a stack of cards revealed personal notes from relatives long gone. Their words of encouragement and love were a precious reminder of how many people have come and gone in my life.

When is the last time you wrote a letter? Our fast-paced society celebrates our new-found ability to communicate in 140 characters or less. But this month, I am challenging myself to write more than a burst of brilliance to be gobbled up on social media. Instead, I will write a letter to someone who has touched my life.

You can take this joyful exercise even further, and a journal is a wonderful way to leave a lasting gift. If you are a parent, your handwritten thoughts will one day be precious to your child, the same way my mother’s journal is precious to me.

Click on the picture above to check out the beautiful notecards available on Amazon. And the journal below is just one example of the many choices. I wish you great inspiration as you create a lasting memory for someone who has touched your life. Why Not?

P.S. Happy birthday, Mom.

Why Not… Savor Sweet Strawberries

February 8th, 2017

What is the best thing about a Florida winter?

Yes, the weather dips way down into the forties at night. Five times. During the day we suffer through the sixties, seventies, and maybe a couple of days we’ll hit the eighties. Blue skies and palm trees and cocktails by the pool. Winter is grand.

What really makes a Florida winter sublime? The strawberries from Plant City. For your reading and eating pleasure, here is a short story and a family recipe I will share with you.

Shortly after hubby and I became engaged I was invited to visit his grandmother “Grammy” in Florida. I brought my mother with me, and when we arrived at her beautifully appointed home in Lakeland the mouth-watering smell of dinner almost knocked me over. After two helpings of a scrumptious pot roast, we cleared the table and she presented dessert.

“The third crop of strawberries is the best,” she said. “These are only the second. I hope you like it. I call it Strawberry Glacé Pie.”

Like it? I’m a pie girl. I stared at this layered creation of perfectly sliced strawberries topped with Cool Whip. (Grampy had worked for Swift’s, so only company products entered their home.) Somewhere in my stuffed stomach I found room for not one, but two slices of pie. Past pie encounters receded in my mind… This was and still is the best piece of pie I have ever eaten. After we washed and dried her Havilland china I took a long and necessary walk.

Grammy was an amazing cook. She was raised on a farm in Missouri, and she knew how to do anything that would make a house a home. I believe she would be happy to know that her recipe is still honoring the bounty of Plant City strawberries we are lucky to eat picked fresh from the field.


Grammy’s Strawberry Glacé Pie


1 – 9 inch baked pie shell, 1 cup sugar, 2 quarts fresh Plant City strawberries, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ cup water, whipping cream


Rinse the strawberries thoroughly. Crush enough berries to make 1¼ cups of juice. Slice the remaining berries lengthwise, removing the green stems. Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. Add crushed berries and water. Cook stirring constantly, and add lemon juice. Continue cooking until it thickens. Arrange sliced berries in piecrust. I go in a circle from the outside ending in the center. Pour glacé over the berries. Chill thoroughly and serve with whipped cream.

Grammy’s advice: It is best when prepared the night before so the sugar can sink into the berries below the glacé and the pie will hold together better.


Exciting business news — now you can shop with me online! I have been given a secure mobile number that interacts with through an app we call TextStyle. My secure mobile number is 813-452-4497. By completing a few simple steps you will be able to communicate with me before accessing, and can ask me questions regarding merchandise you are interested in purchasing. I can also send you photos or information regarding products you prefer that arrive in the store. It is a seamless way for me to deliver a superior shopping experience with the convenience of online shopping. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Grammy used a Pyrex pie plate just like these.


The After-Party: Gasparilla Slow Cooker Pot Roast

January 27th, 2017

Pot roast fit for a pirate!

This is big party weekend in Tampa. The pirates take over downtown — protect the women and children! It is Gasparilla, and Tampa celebrates with a parade and glittering balls and krewe parties that go on for days. It is also going to be a cooler weekend weather wise, and this recipe is perfect for the buccaneer who wants to come home to an amazing dinner after enjoying the festivities. It is also great for alcohol absorption. Have fun and be sure to uber if you’re partying.

One 4-pound beef chuck roast, or larger
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine, at least
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped
Sprinkle the roast all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper. Coat in flour and shake off excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. (You have to watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn) Add the flour and wine and whisk with a plastic whisk until thick. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking slowly, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Pour the gravy over the meat into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The roast and vegetables will be tender.
Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. 9Meat should always rest before cutting — it allows the juices to go into the meat) Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Stir the parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. Serve the meat and vegetables buffet style, and serve the remaining gravy on the side. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchens


The Spoiled Spouse Cleans My Oven — Star Wars Style

January 18th, 2017


Belgian delishness

There are two sides to entertaining at home. The one we all love is the planning, prep, and cooking of the creative and delicious dishes we will serve to our friends and family. The second part is the inevitable clean up, often involving a major project like a spattered oven.

My oven is over twenty years old. Certain parts, i.e. the computer card, are no longer available. Replacing the oven is more complicated than a mere swap out — the oven I want will not fit in the current space. The domino effect is that the entire wall will need to be reconfigured. Isn’t this always the case? A major renovation is not happening anytime soon. So, the geriatric oven has needed a thorough cleaning for a while.

We did some research and my husband volunteered to take on the gargoyle. He did an amazing job with household products found in most pantries. Btw, I have read that the gas produced by running the self-clean cycle in a typical oven is quite noxious. Something to think about.

Here is the latest installment of The Spoiled Spouse. Can you tell that hubby had fun with this? I wonder what other projects I can come up with…

The Spoiled Spouse Goes Rogue on the Death Star Oven

“Help us Spoiled Spouse. You’re our only hope.”

Thus spoke the beautiful Princess Lois as she pointed to the black abyss on the far edge of the kitchen universe. Only a powerful force would be able to vanquish the Dark Side. Would it require the thermonuclear detonator/auto clean cycle or a light saber? No, something far less caustic than the weapons that the Empire traditionally used was required on the 20 year old oven.

The Death Star Oven

The treatment.

Luckily, the answer was found in the Rebel Alliance Pantry. Through the magic of the Force combined with baking soda and vinegar, you too can create a New Hope and provide a suitable vessel for Queen Ammadala herself. Here’s how.


Baking Soda



Abrasive Sponge

Spray Bottle


  • Remove the oven racks.
  • Create a paste using ½ cup of baking soda and 2-3 tablespoons of water. Rub the paste over the oven using an abrasive sponge.
  • Let the paste sit on the oven for 12 hours. If you use paste on the oven door, keep the door open or the paste will flow off of the dirty areas. (The Spoiled Spouse learned this the hard way.)
  • Wipe off the paste with a damp cloth.
  • Mix a small amount of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the liquid on the stubborn areas which have not been cleaned completely. The vinegar mixture and baking soda will bubble as they react.
  • Wait 30 minutes and wipe out the remaining residue with a damp cloth. Repeat if necessary.

A New Hope



All is now right with the Universe. May the Force be with you.

Here is a book you might want to check out that offers lots of organic cleaning ideas using common household products.

Turkey and Oyster Gumbo by The Spoiled Spouse

November 24th, 2016
One of my wife's turkey platters.

One of my wife’s turkey platters.

Hope your Thanksgiving dinner was delicious—ours certainly was! If you’re lucky you have leftover turkey, and The Spoiled Spouse has an amazing solution. This recipe will certainly raise your home cuisine beyond the dreaded creamed turkey casserole. Let us know how it turns out.

Recipes for Guys Who Don’t Cook So Good

By The Spoiled Spouse

Turkey and Oyster Gumbo

Many families enjoy the blending of oysters into their turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving. This recipe provides a twist on that theme by adding leftover turkey to a traditional gumbo. It will hit the spot once you grow tired of sandwiches and leftover stuffing.

I usually try to cook recipes that can be completed during a Seinfeld rerun. This recipe however, requires about an hour or so of work but it can be easily completed in phases while watching your favorite football team on the post Thanksgiving weekend.  I have broken the recipes into phases –Pre-game, Break between 1st and 2nd Quarter, Halftime, 2 Minute Warning, and Postgame Wrap-up.

You should turn off the heat between phases. However, you can run them all together like a no-huddle offense if you wish.


2 cups chopped cooked turkey, 8 cups chicken/turkey stock

1 pint oysters, 1 tsp. thyme

1 lb. sliced frozen okra, 1 tsp. basil

½ cup plus 2 tbsp. cooking oil, ½ tsp. sage

½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ tsp. black pepper

1 -2 cups chopped onion ( to taste)½ tsp. white pepper

1 cup chopped green bell pepper, ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ cup chopped celery, 2 tsp. salt

2 small cans chopped tomatoes, 1 bay leaf

¾ lbs. Andouille sausage sliced into rounds

Phase 1 — The Pre-game show

Sauté okra in a large skillet in 2 tablespoons of oil for 15 minutes.  At the same time, heat ½ cup of oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir frequently until the paste (or roux) becomes the color of dark chocolate. Immediately dump in the onions, bell pepper, and celery and sauté. Stir until vegetables are tender and onions are carmelized.

Phase 2 — Break between First and Second Quarter

Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes, Andouille sausage, and okra. Cook and stir for 15 minutes. Dislodge any caramelized vegetables off the bottom of the pot with a metal spoon . These juicy bits provide great flavor.

Add spices (bay leaf, thyme, basil, sage, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, salt) and mix well.

Phase 3 — Halftime

Add chicken/turkey stock. Bring to a slow boil and heat for 1 hour.

Phase 4 — Two Minute Warning

Add the turkey and oysters and simmer for 15 minutes. (Add the oyster liquor for a tangyer broth)

Phase 5 — Postgame Wrap-up

Serve in large bowls over steamed rice.

This is an amazing stockpot to put on your Christmas list:

All clad stockpot.

Recipes for Guys Who Don’t Cook So Good

November 9th, 2016
Grouper Piccata

Grouper Piccata

Recipes for Guys Who Don’t Cook So Good

By  The Spoiled Spouse

Like many men of a certain age, I grew up in a home where Mom cooked a majority of the meals and those cooked by Dad involved a great deal of red meat, charcoal briquettes, and flammable liquid.  I inherited the cooking gene from my father. I refined it somewhat during college by including large doses of ground beef and Ramen noodles.

Fast forward thirty years, and I find myself married to a wonderful cook who, unfortunately, must work several evenings during the week. She and I no longer appreciate the fine culinary qualities associated with the barbecue and Ramen diet. In an effort to avoid starvation and bad blood work, I began to look for recipes that matched my love’s skill but generally allowed me the freedom to observe my favorite sporting events during preparation. So, I will periodically present a recipe which has quality that far exceeds the effort that went into the preparation. Please enjoy!

Grouper Piccata

Grouper is a meaty, white fish found off the gulf coast of Florida. Any other fish with similar texture can be substituted.


  • 1 lb. grouper fillets
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch ground pepper
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup capers
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

Cut grouper into 4 small pieces. Mix salt and pepper with flour. Dredge fillets in flour until coated.

Heat olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter in medium high heat. Brown fillets on each side. 4-5 minutes per side. Place grouper on warm dish.

Add wine, capers, lemon juice, and remaining butter in the pan. Stir with spoon to scoop up the small pieces of browned coating.

Neatly arrange filets on plates and cover with sauce and parsley.

Serve with white rice and your favorite green vegetable.

Pour the remaining wine in your best crystal and enjoy with your appreciative partner!

Editor’s Note: Once or twice per month Spoiled Spouse  will share a recipe with us. I’m hoping the next recipe is a gumbo.

Here is a new favorite cookbook:

She's the Best!

She’s the Best!

Southern Shepard’s Pie

November 2nd, 2016
The perfect slice!

The perfect slice!

I am always looking for a new way to make Shepard’s Pie, and this recipe caught my attention. Since I was only cooking for my husband and me, I cut the ingredients in half. I made my own crust and used a deep-dish ceramic quiche dish. Publix premade mashed potatoes worked well and saved time, and I doctored them up a bit with melted butter and milk. The result was very savory — and we had enough for a second meal. In fact, I think the pie was better the next day.

The pie with cheddar cheese in the mashed potatoes.

The pie with cheddar cheese in the mashed potatoes.


2 lbs hamburger meat                                                                                                         2 pre-made deep dish pie shells

The filling.

The filling.

3 medium onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
5 -6 medium potatoes
1 (12 ounce) can beef consomme
1 (12 ounce) can whole kernel corn
1 (12 ounce) can sweet peas
1 (12 ounce) can carrots
1 1⁄2 cups cheddar cheese
1⁄2 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons ketchup
Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS:Pre-bake pie crusts according to instructions on crusts – or at 400 degrees until light brown, for about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Boil 5 or 6 medium peeled potatoes until tender. Drain and mash with 1/2 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Mix with a mixer on high speed until fluffy. When cooled a little, fold in about 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese.
Dice up onions and saute over medium high heat in a little EVOO and butter with about a tsp of salt.
Add chopped garlic, and continue to cook until onions are tender.
Remove onion mixture.
Brown hamburger in the same pot with about a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
Add onion mixture back to pot with 2/3 can of beef consomme and 3 tablespoons of ketchup, a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
Mix about 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour in with the remaining consomme until all lumps are gone. Raise heat until the meat mixture begins to boil. Slowly add the consomme flour while stirring quickly, and continue to stir and boil for about 1 minute after all of the flour is added. Remove from heat.
Fold in the drained corn, peas, and carrots. (I didn’t add these all at once, I always cook by balancing the color of veggies to meet as seen above.)
Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie crusts.
Pipe the cheddar mashed potatoes on top of the pies to form a decorative top crust. (I didn’t do this.)
Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes brown on top.
Let cool for about 10 or 15 minutes before serving.
Attribution: Chris Sharpe at

And if you want to treat a foodie or homechef over the holidays, I highly recommend a stunning coffee table book.91xbrhbmenl 91y3qshbnul

Road Trip: Ohio State versus Rutgers University

October 26th, 2016


America is a beautiful country.

I had the luxury of contemplating these words a couple of years ago as my husband and I drove from Florida to Ohio. We were on our way to a football game, Rutgers versus Ohio State. We love college football, and on our bucket list is to attend a Rutgers football game in the iconic college football stadiums in the U.S.

The first night we stayed over in Dobson, North Carolina. Did you know there is a lovely winery in Dobson? After a long day on the road, we had a scrumptious dinner at the Harvest Grill, the on site restaurant at the Shelton Winery, and enjoyed their award-winning wine. The Hampton Inn on the property was pristine. The next morning we decided to eat at the Dobson diner across the street. I had the breakfast special — cured local ham, two eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy. A man at the next table laughed as it was placed in front of me. “You gonna eat all that?” he teased. I struck up a conversation with a local angler, and we were invited to dinner later on that day to enjoy the fish he had caught early that morning. Dobson certainly shows old-fashioned small town hospitality to tourists.

Yes, I finished it!

Yes, I finished it!

We continued north, and crossed over to Virginia. Virginia is a gorgeous state. The topography began to change as 77 cut through farmland and small towns. Orange dots began to appear in the groomed fields that rolled away from the fast moving traffic. Could it be — a pumpkin patch? Yes, as far as the eye could see tiny orange dots clustered here and there. The highway was treacherous, and unfortunately I was unable to convince my husband to pull over so I could get a photo.

Through the East River Mountain Tunnel we went and found ourselves surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. We were lucky to catch the end of the change of seasons. The colors of fall are something I miss. West Virginia is another beautiful state, and for the first time I saw huge piles of black coal freshly unearthed from the mines.

We entered Ohio, and began to get excited about the impending football game. We knew it would be a tough one, but we love college towns and Columbus did not disappoint. Our friends gave us the complete tour — we ate in a famous college pub, and danced to the music at an outside party. Luckily, Rutgers and Ohio State share red as a school color, so we were somewhat incognito. We embraced tradition and waited outside the stadium for the band to enter. The Ohio State Band is a big deal, as well it should be. I have never witnessed a better halftime show. Wow. They marched in and out of complicated formations, at one point creating a rock musician who moved his lead guitar up and down to the music of the Who.

Posing in the Horseshoe.

Posing in the Horseshoe.

The football game itself was… sad. For Rutgers fans, that is. Ohio State was bigger, faster, stronger, better. As they ran the score up I began to get angry. One of our friends tried to explain why Urban Myer did this, while the other slid tiny gloating remarks in whenever he could. I draped my plastic poncho over my body, willingly immobile in my own biosphere, and allowed the freezing cold drizzle to run down my sheathed body. I said to my husband, “I have never seen such a great college football team in person.” (They did go on to win the national championship) Finally I’d had enough, and we walked, shivering, to the car to head off to a famous German restaurant, Schmidt’s, in the German village.

It was Octoberfest! Everyone had bad hair and the wait for dinner was almost two hours, but we somehow secured a spot at the bar. I decided to have a little fun and tease the friend who had enjoyed our football misery at the hands of the Buckeyes. I began to introduce him to everyone at the bar as an eminent proctologist from Tampa. I remember more of the beer than the food, but I would highly recommend both.

Our trip home was less eventful, and we listened to a book on tape. The Horseshoe is now checked off the bucket list. Maybe the Big House is next.

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