{My Favorite Things} 2012 Edition

Monday, December 10, 2012

It is that time of the year again! My compilation of my favorite things - 2012 edition. Here is last years list if you are interested. To see other lists from fellow bloggers, head on over to 320 Sycamore . So many new products listed over there I would love to try out.Now for my list, in no particular order:

1) Slatkin & Co . Fresh Balsam Candle  

     I have a fake Christmas tree (hubby's preference)  and I miss the smell of the tree through the house. This candle by Slatkin & Co. (available at Bath & Body Works) smells so good and makes the house smell like Christmas to me.I burn one all season long.


    I love Sharpie markers and pens. I use them for everything from recipe writing, journaling, calendar updating, school note writing...the list is endless. I love the new pens. They do not bleed and the colors are wonderful. I can color code my daily planner and do not have to worry about the color bleeding through the paper. I think I buy a pack every time I walk into Target. I think I might have an obsession.

3) Journals from Rifle Paper Co.

I am a journal hoarder. I am one of those people that writes everything down. From quotes, to letters and notes, to recipes, to music lyrics...
I fell in love with these journals from Rifle Paper Co a few months ago and I love them! I keep one by my bedside , one in  my purse and one in my studio to jot down whatever comes to mind. Swoon.

4) Peggy Karr Glass Tannenbaum Line

   A few years ago, my mom bought me a large oval platter from Peggy Karr Glass and I instantly fell in love with the tannenbaum Christmas Tree pattern for the holidays. The black background and the colorful print. Modern and beautiful.  I buy one piece of this every year and I  am like a kid in a candy store every time I have a new piece delivered!

5.See's Candies Assorted Lollypops

  I stumbled upon these lollypops a few years back by accident. I had a Williams Sonoma gift certificate to use up and I had a balance left on my card and grabbed a box of these at the checkout line. How happy I am that I did! These lollipops are so creamy and full of flavor. they are definitely addicting. I buy them every few months or so to have in the house in case I get a hankering for something sweet. The assorted box has vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate and cafe latte flavors. Seriously, I love each flavor . Especially the cafe latte ones.

6)Le Creuset Braiser in Fennel

   I started my collection of Le Creuset about ten years ago and my husband has added to the collection every year  since. This past March, he bought me  braiser and I LOVE it. Although it does not get as much use as my dutch oven, it is a very close second. I can braise chicken and sausages for my family of 6 and it is a perfect size for spaghetti sauce and chili. And the green fennel color makes me smile.

7)Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice

    One of my favorite parts of the last quarter of each year: Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks! Apple cider, cinnamon syrup, caramel and whipped cream. Beverage perfection. While most of the year I order hazelnut lattes or mocha frappuccinos, this drink is the go to from September through January. So yummy!

8. MAC lipgloss

  I wear this lip gloss every day. It stays on, is smooth and is the perfect color. I use the shade early bloomer and it is just enough color for an every day wear.

8) Banana Republic Kristen Suede Platform Pumps

    I wear these pumps with every dress I own! I am pretty sure these heels are the only ones I actually like to wear. I can wear them with any color dress or slacks. They fit my foot perfectly . I get compliments every time I wear them. I will probably end up buying a black pair as well.

9) Downton Abbey

   I have an obsession with Downton Abbey!  I <3 the Crawley's and am counting down the days for season 3 to start ( January 6, 2013 on PBS) . I cannot wait to see what happens !

10) Charcoal Face Detox Soap

      As some of you may know, I design jewelry and accessories from broken plates. While I love my job, I do NOT love the messiness of it. I use a grinder to grind down porcelain and pottery, and I get small shards of it all in my skin. Some days, when I take my safety googles off , I look like I have a face of glitter there are so many shards adhered to my face. This soap is wonderful for cleaning up and detoxing my skin. Leaves my skin smooth and refreshed. This company is out of Brooklyn and I recommend them highly. Their perfumes are wonderful ( this southern girl loves gardenia) ! You can find the soap Here .

11) Scripture Encouragement Cards

      I love sending cards to friends and family the old fashioned way . I stumbled across these great Scripture Encouragement cards this year and I love them ! I tuck them into cards and the Bible verses on them are great. The cards are made from heavy cardstock andvery durable. I keep a tin on my desk for quick thinking  of you notes. :) These make me happy. You can find them HERE .

So there you have it! My favorite things list for 2012! Feel free to share a few of your Favorite things in the comments section!


Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Monday, September 24, 2012

I made this for dinner and my family loved it.It is a comfort food for us. A definite staple on our  fall and winter table.And for me,it is much easier than making stuffed peppers.Which I can never seem to get right anyway.Anyway.this is a great weeknight meal with a salad and fresh bread.You can sub ground turkey or even venison (which I plan to do next time to get rid of some of my husbands endless supply in our freezer).

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup
1 lb ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 lb green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons beef base
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c cooked white rice (I usede the frozen kind that steams in the microwave)

Brown ground beef until fully cooked.
Drain fat from beef and set aside
Saute the vegetables in the same pan.
Add broth, beef base and ground beef , let simmer for at least 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the rice.
Let simmer on low for 10-15 (or longer,it gets better the longer it simmers!)

Jolly Rancher Lollipops

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I make these homemade lollipops with my boys and they love them. When I am at the dollar store, I always pick up a bag of jolly ranchers to make these on rainy days , or as a pick me up when they are not feeling well. ( It works with certain cough drops as well ) Easy to do and you can create your own flavor combinations.

Jolly Rancher Lollipops
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
Unwrap Jolly Ranchers
Line a cookie sheet with foil and add parchment paper on top
Lay candy on cookie sheet so that it is touching, three in a row
Bake for about 7-8 minutes, and remove from oven when they are melted together .
Immediately add the lollipop stick, turning it once to coat
Let them set at room temperature about 5 minutes to harden
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    Baked Blueberry Doughnuts

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Sunday mornings before church I like to make homemade breakfasts for the family. This week I made homemade baked blueberry doughnuts ( I <3 my doughnut pans)  and fruit salad. These doughnuts are healthier than their fried cousins and my kids love them. I usually make chocolate or cinnamon doughnuts, but I had blueberries that needed to be used  so I decided to mash them into small bits and add them to the batter. You can use regular milk in place of the buttermilk. I always have buttermilk for baking, so that is what I use. Totally up to you. You can also add a glaze. Just mix powdered sugar and milk until you get your desired consistency and dip the warm doughnuts into the glaze and place on racks to set. A lemon glaze would be great on blueberry doughnuts come to think of it. I will have to do that next time.  This makes 6 doughnuts, so I double the recipe for a dozen for my family.

    Baked Blueberry Doughnuts

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    2 tablespoons buttermilk
    2 large eggs
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 tablespoons water
    ½ cup blueberries, crushed

    Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, eggs, oil, blueberries and water. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.Place the batter in a large ziploc bag and snip off an end. Pipe the batter into each doughnut mold about 1/2 full. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes in a 6-doughnut pan . You can insert a tootpick or skewer in them to test their doneness. Let them  sit for a minute or two in the doughnut pan before turning them out. I have found that they will sometimes break if they are piping hot , so I wait a few minutes before I turn them out of the pan. You should glaze them while they are still warm. Serve with a mug of coffee or cold milk.

    Fried Cabbage & Noodles (Haluski)

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

    One of my family's favorite meatless dishes is fried cabbage and noodles. People here in the Pittsburgh area call it halushki and it is so good. It Is a staple on our table on cooler nights. Easy to make, cheap to make and easy to eat! If I have leftover ham or chicken I will toss it in with the noodles, but I prefer it with no meat. Enjoy.


    • 4 cups wide egg noodles
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 2 cups sliced sweet onion 
    • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    • 6 cups  cabbage, shredded
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • pepper
    Cook egg noodles according to package directions, then drizzle with a bit of oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together and set aside.
    1. While noodles are cooking, melt butter in large deep skillet over medium-low heat.
    2. Add onion, sprinkle with brown sugar and saute, stirring occasionally for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened and just beginning to turn golden.
    3. Add cabbage to skillet, stirring well to incorporate with onion, and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4.  cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
    5. Turn heat back to medium, add cooked noodles, salt and pepper, and stir well until noodles are heated though.
    6. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve hot.

    Yum Food & Fun Magazine - Kids Edition

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Everyone , I am proud to announce that I have an article in the August issue of Yum Food & Fun Magazine. I contributed an article on back to school breakfasts.So go out to your local newstands  and look for page 6-7. Happy Reading!

    Guest Blogger { Cheri from The Watering Mouth }

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Good Morning everyone! Keeping with my guest bloggers today,would like to introduce you to Cheri from The Watering Mouth .Cheri is one of the coolest bloggers out there. And she even made a video of how to make this dish. Yeah, she rocks. She is sharing her recipe for green beans, which happens to be one of my favorite foods on the planet. Make sure you stop by her blog and tell her you saw her here.

    Hi there everybody, my name is Cheri from The Watering Mouth! A huge thank you to Liz for letting me guest post on her blog -- I am bringing you guys my absolute favorite green beans recipe and I hope that you love it as much as I do!

    Every time I make this, I want to eat only this, so I guess that would be the only negative here! :D Try it out on your family and let me know what you think! It goes great with any kind of meat and has some delicious sweet, bacon-y-ness that everybody loves. Here is a video to show how I prepare it:

    Sweet and Crunchy Green Beans
    2 lbs fresh or frozen green beans (any cut)
    8 slices bacon
    1 small-medium onion
    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup sliced almonds


    Boil the green beans for 5-7 minutes or until they are tender yet still crisp. Drain and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking.

    Chop the bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook over medium to medium-high heat, until cooked the way you like it. I like my bacon to still be slightly chewy. Drain in paper towels.

    Chop the onion into small pieces and cook in the hot bacon grease until almost translucent. Add almonds and finish cooking until onions are completely translucent. 

    Add balsamic vinegar and sugar and continue cooking over medium-high heat until balsamic vinegar begins to bubble and caramelize with the sugar.

    Add the green beans to the mixture and toss to coat with the sauce.

    Bon appetit, everybody!! :D


    Guest Blogger {Chef Laura at Home}

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Hi everyone! I bet you are wondering where I have been.well, it has been a weird 6 weeks. First off, my family and I went on vacation. Which was awesome. But right before we left, I dumped a mammoth sized cup of coffee all over my laptop. So... after two weeks of trying to recover anything from a dead piece of metal,we decided it was a lost cause. So off t vacation we went . I have three awesome guest posts that were supposed to debut that week, but i did not happen. So now that I am up and running again, I am featuring them this week. First up is one of my favorite people , Laura from Chef Laura at Home. She has offered up a rockin' gazpacho recipe for you guys to beat the summer heat! Super simple and full of flavor. Big thanks to Laura for taking the time to write a post for Fresh plate! 

    I’m so excited to be a guest blogger today on The Fresh Plate!  Since it’s summer time I thought I’d share a simple and healthy recipe.



    6 tomatoes {preferably yellow}, halved, seeded, and coarsely chopped
    2 yellow peppers, seeded & chopped
    ½ seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
    4 scallions, chopped
    1 garlic clove, chopped
    3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    salt & pepper to taste 

    Putting it all together

    Place all the ingredients in a Vita-mix or Blender and pulse till combined.  It’s up to you if you want it pureed or chunky. 

    {Optional}  Add 2 slices of rustic bread {crusts removed} to thicken up the soup.

    Chill for at least an hour.  Serves 4

    Thanks again Liz, it’s always fun to share recipes with you!

    For more recipes, check out my food blog at Chef Laura at Home & Chef Laura at Home on Facebook.

    Mexican Garlic Cilantro Grilled Shrimp

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    I love shrimp. Especially grilled shrimp. This recipe is a winner, in my opinion because it is so easy . And the flavor is outstanding. I usually serve the skewers on a bed of steamed brown rice and a side of grilled asparagus. Easy summer meal. And even with the spiciness of the shrimp, my kids inhale them. But then again, they inhale shrimp of any kind. Seriously. I have to stop them from eating shrimp. They will eat until their bellies hurt. Wish they did that with their veggies!

    Mexican Garlic-Cilantro Grilled Shrimp
    SERVES 8 -10 , 35 -40 shrimp

    * 2 1/2 lbs large shrimp
    * 1/2 cup olive oil
    * 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
    * 1/2 cup fresh parsley
    * 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
    * 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
    * 1 tablespoon paprika
    * 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    * 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    * wooden skewers (pre soaked in water)

    1. Shell and devein shrimp. Set aside.(If frozen, thaw under cold running water)
    3. Throw all the ingredients, except for the shrimp, into a blender and process until a fine puree.
    4. In a large glass bowl, mix together shrimp and marinade. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
    5. Drain shrimp and reserve marinade. Thread shrimp on skewers.
    6. Grill skewers medium high heat just until they turn pink, turning frequently and brushing with reserved marinade.Be careful not to over cook the shrimp. They cook fast. 12-15 minutes.

    Strawberry Freezer Jam

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    My canning of strawberry jam is done.We took the boys to a strawberry farm and made a day of it.And after their tummies were full and they lost interest we packed up a trunk full of berries and headed home.I made 14 pint jars of yummy jam.The kids love it on their pancakes and waffles or over homemade bread in the cooler months.And it really is easy to make.Our blackberries are going to be ready in the coming weeks and I will put up blackberry jam as well.YUM!
    Strawberry Freezer Jam

    1 quart fully ripe strawberries
    4 cups sugar
    3/4 cup water
    1 box fruit pectin (like Sure Jell)

    You will need clean containers and lids; rinse them thoroughly with boiling water and make sure they are completely dry.
    Rinse strawberries gently with clean water, pat dry, then stem and crush them thoroughly, one layer at a time.
    Measure exactly 2 cups crushed berries into a large bowl; stir in sugar.
    Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Mix water and pectin in small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
    Continue boiling and stirring 1 minute.
    Remove from heat and add to fruit mixture; stir constantly for three minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy; a few sugar crystals may remain and that's okay.
    Fill prepared containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops.
    Wipe off top edges and immediately cover with lids.
    Let stand at room temperature 24 hours.
    Your jam is now ready to use, and can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks or frozen for up to one year.
    Thaw frozen jam in the fridge before using.

    { Old Fashioned Refrigerator Pickles }

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    One of my family's most requested snack recipes are these sweet, crunchy pickles. They are so addicting. I  always have a jar of these in the fridge, and the kids  munch on them when they open the refrigerator looking for food. The trail of pickle juice from the refrigerator door to the kitchen table can attest to many forks stuck in the jar for a taste of these ! They are completely old fashioned and super  easy to make. I pop the jar in a cooler and take them on picnic lunches in the spring and summer with the boys. I always add the onions, and I am the only one who will eat them, but that works for me. Crunchy  sweet onions are just as good as the pickles. You can use more celery seed than called for in this recipe if you prefer a stronger celery flavor. I think that 1 tsp is perfect for our tastes. These keep for  about a month in the refrigerator, but I tend to have to slice a cucumber every three days or so and add it to the jar to keep it replenished. They are rally good on hot dogs and hamburgers too. And please note that these are refrigerator pickles. They will keep in the refrigerator for a month or so. You do not have to can these. No hot water baths or waiting on the lids to pop. Just put on the jar lid and pop in the fridge. And they  do get better as the weeks wear on.

    Old Fashioned Refrigerator Pickles

    1 cup white vinegar
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 cup water
    1 teaspoons celery seed
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 cups sliced cucumber
    1 onion, thinly sliced

    Place sliced cucumber and onions in qt or pint jars.
    In a separate non reactive bowl, stir vinegar, sugar, water and salt together until dissolved. Add the celery seed. Mix well. Pour mixture over cucumber and onions . Place lids on jars and refrigerate.
    Keeps for 2-3 months.

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    { Easter Wreath }

    Monday, March 26, 2012

     I wanted an Easter wreath that was simple this year. I have three doors to decorate every few months and for the last few Easters, I have used egg wreaths. Pastel  eggs and grapevine wreaths. They are beautiful, but this year I wanted a change. I found these carrot bunches at Pier 1 Imports and new that I wanted to make a wreath with them when I saw them. I used three green wreath forms that I find at the dollar store, and covered each with burlap. I pinned the burlap in place and then pinned the carrot bunches to each wreath with florist pins. I love the way they turned out. So  simple. And the best part is that I can change out the decorations each season and/or holiday!

    Linking up  this week to :
    Show me What you've got
     Take A Look Tuesday
    Ladybug Blessings
    Rook No 17
    Tuesday To Do Party
    Wednesday Wowzers

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    The Fresh Plate + Edible Allegheny Magazine

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Look for The Fresh Plate  featured  in the March 2012  issue of Edible Allegheny Magazine!

    Meatloaf Muffins

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    These little meatloaf muffins are a cinch to make. Kids and husbands alike love them. I usually double the batch and freeze the leftovers for quick lunches. You can use beef or turkey.I always use ground turkey, and they come out moist and flavorful.And I use Herb Stuffing. I buy it in bulk and I think the herb has the best flavor.

    Meatloaf Muffins
    1 (6 ounce) box Stove Top stuffing mix
    2 eggs
    1 cup water
    2 lbs ground beef or turkey
    ketchup (optional)

    1.Mix all ingredients except ketchup.
    2.Spray muffin tins with cooking spray
    3.Fill muffins tins to top.
    4.Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes

    Baked Chicken

    This is a go to recipe for busy nights.Or lazy ones.Easy as pie and so yummy! This recipe is one that  I love because it is super easy and you can use any combo of  herbs and spices. I have found that if I just use salt, pepper and garlic powder, it gives it a comfort food taste that my boys love. I usually have a breast or two left over, so I make  chicken salad for the next days lunch. This recipe easily doubles or triples for a crowd.

    Baked Chicken

    4 chicken breasts,bone in ,skin on

    1-2 T olive oil

    2 tsp all purpose seasoning (I use salt,pepper and garlic powder)

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a casserole dish, place chicken skin side up.Spread evenly with the olive oil and sprinkle evenly with seasoning.Bake 45-50 minutes or until juices run clear.