Archive | November, 2013

I’m Getting Minted For The Holidays

Christmas cards are but one item on my long list of things to do each holiday season. In past years, I’ve endured hours at my local portrait studio, sweating and chasing after toddlers before turning cartwheels to get them all to smile in one photo. I considered it well worth the effort because after all, I MUST have the best cards each year. I mean, don’t we all? This is our once-a-year opportunity to show off our adorable family!

Recently I’ve discovered that candid photography shoots outside of the studio create some of the best photos for Christmas cards. I’ve even shot some great photos on my iPhone to use this year.

So, what took me hours to create before, will take me just minutes this year with The best part is that I’ll definitely have the best Christmas cards this year (again)!

Here’s just one of my idea inspiration boards from for this year’s Christmas cards:

Sparkle & Snow Christmas by Toni, see more

Sparkle & Snow Christmas board by Toni. See more

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Bangers with Colman’s Mash & Gravy

Bangers with Colman’s Mash & Gravy

Bangers with Colman’s Mash & Gravy


  • pork or beef sausage links 5-6
  • Colman's Mustard Powder- 2 teaspoons
  • Colman's Mustard- 1 tablespoon
  • potatoes- 2 large, peeled and diced
  • dark beer (optional, may substitute chicken broth)- 1 cup
  • beef broth- 1 cup
  • salt- 1 teaspoon
  • butter- 3 tablespoons
  • milk- 1/3 cup
  • vegetable oil- 3 tablespoons
  • STAPLES For Gravy
  • butter- 2 tablespoons


    For Colman's Mash
  1. place potatoes in large pot
  2. season with salt
  3. cover completely with water
  4. boil until potatoes are tender, approximately 15 minutes
  5. drain potatoes and transfer to mixing bowl
  6. add butter and milk
  7. mash with a potato masher
  8. add Colman's Mustard Powder
  9. use electric mixer for one minute for creamy potatoes
  10. transfer Colman's Mash to a baking dish
  11. For Bangers
  12. saute sausage in heated oil over medium heat until brown on both sides, approximately 4 minutes both sides
  13. heat oven to 375 degrees F
  14. lay browned sausages into mashed potatoes sideways in a row
  15. bake sausages and potatoes until hot and bubbly, approximately 25 minutes
  16. For Colman's Gravy
  17. in the same pan used to brown the sausages, melt butter over medium-high heat
  18. add beer and broth
  19. add Colman's Mustard and whisk over medium-high heat until reduced by half, approximately 4 minutes
  20. Drizzle Colman's Gravy over sausage and potatoes






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Blackened Chicken with Garlic Parmesan Linguini & Colorful Salad

Blackened Chicken can be served over linguini or over a bed of romaine lettuce for a Blackened Chicken Salad

Blackened Chicken with Garlic Parmesan Linguini & Colorful Salad

Blackened Chicken with Garlic Parmesan Linguini & Colorful Salad


  • 1. boneless skinless chicken breasts- 2 lbs
  • 2. linguini pasta- 1 lb
  • 3. romaine lettuce- 1 pre-cut ready-to-eat bag
  • 4. red, orange and yellow bell peppers- 1 each
  • 5. avocado-1 peeled and sliced
  • 6. Caesar dressing- 1 small bottle
  • 7. shredded parmesan cheese- 8 oz.
    For marinade:
  • olive oil- ½ cup
  • chili powder- 1 tbspn
  • dried thyme- 1 tbspn
  • dried oregano- 1 tbspn
  • paprika- 1 tbspn
  • minced garlic- 1 tbspn
  • salt & pepper- 1 tspn each
  • For linguini:
  • butter- 3 tbspns
  • minced garlic- 1 tbspn


  1. Place chicken breasts in shallow baking dish or large zip-top baggie for marinating. (If too thick, chicken breasts can be pounded thinner with a meat tenderizer between two sheets of plastic wrap.).
  2. Mix together marinade ingredients and pour over chicken, spreading evenly to coat chicken entirely.
  3. Marinate in the refrigerator 2-3 hours to overnight
  4. Dinner Time:
  5. Chicken can be cooked on indoor grill or in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until both sides are brown and chicken is cooked thoroughly, approximately 7 minutes each side.
  6. Linguini:
  7. Cook pasta in salted water until tender.
  8. While pasta is cooking, heat butter and garlic in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  9. Drain pasta and transfer to a serving bowl.
  10. Pour butter over the linguini, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese then toss.
  11. Garnish with dried parsley.
  12. Salad:
  13. Slice bell peppers into thin strips.
  14. Top lettuce with bell peppers and avocado slices.
  15. Drizzle with dressing then toss.
  16. Serve Blackened Chicken over Linguini or Salad.







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The Underestimated Mashed Potato

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

A Stitch In Time Saves Nine. A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned. Waste Not, Want Not.

Probably one of the most versatile, frugal and efficacious dishes is the mashed potato.  Gracing our Thanksgiving dinner table each year, mashed potatoes are wildly overlooked for the remaining 364 days of the year.

At just pennies per serving, Homemade Mashed Potatoes are not only inexpensive, they’re one of the most versatile side dishes.  By adding a few cloves of fresh garlic during boiling and then mashing with the potato, the gourmet Garlic Mashed Potatoes are created.  By substituting milk with buttermilk, you have Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes.  And, Herb Mashed Potatoes can be made by adding some fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, thyme and parsley.


Rosemary Chicken with Herb Mashed Potatoes

Herb Mashed Potatoes

Five Recipes To Make with Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Homemade mashed potatoes can be cooked in bulk to freeze for future use, or stored for use in other recipes- or, like I call “Reincarnate The Leftover”.  Here are some of my favorite recipes using leftover mashed potatoes.

Potato Cake Recipe

Festive Potato Cakes Recipe


Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash with New Castle Gravy


Twice-Baked Cheesy Potatoes

Twice-Baked Cheesy Potatoes Recipe


Cottage Pie Recipe

Cottage Pie Recipe, is allegedly a favorite dish of Prince Williams-  a tasty version of the Shepherd’s Pie.


Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe


A Stitch In Time

Homemade mashed potatoes freeze and reheat well, so I like making extra and storing for a busy day’s side dish.  I recommend using glass storage containers like Rubbermaid’s Glass Food Storage or Ziploc’s Versaglass that go from the freezer and into the oven or microwave to reheat.

Check out our Homemade Mashed Potatoes Recipe here:

Homemade mashed potatoes recipe

Homemade Mashed Potatoes Recipe


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