Holiday Cocktail Party

Holiday Cocktail Party

I LOVE the holidays. It gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling. They are the best memories of my childhood and even better are all the memories of the holidays with my own children.

Getting people together to share food, drinks and holiday cheer makes my heart happy. I love to entertain and having a very festive atmosphere makes all the difference.

Planning for a party is essential. I am a list maker. Using Excel, I create worksheets for a variety of things I need to control for the party. I start with my guest list and then create additional worksheets for all the various aspects of the party. This party was all about my husband’s work. We invited fellow management and spouses. The 4th quarter is incredibly hectic in his line of work, so this was a great time to celebrate the ending of it and getting all the couples together to relax and leave work at the door.


I love adding signage stating what the dishes are that I am serving.


    • Guest List
      • I usually show who confirmed/declined and keep a tally of guest count.
    • Menu – for this party, I did all the appetizers. You could also have a potluck style, where all the guests bring a dish.
      • Drink list – I had the bar stocked. You could certainly have guests bring something to contribute.
        • Plan on having an open bar, or a couple signature cocktails premixed.
        • I had my bar setup with the mixers, alcohol and equipment days in advanced. I made little chalkboard signs of what was in the various glasses of mixers.


          I purchased Rum, Whiskey and Vodka (not shown, it was chilling in the freezer). I made little signs to notate what mixers were in each jar. I neglected to get the final shot when it was setup right before guests began arriving.

        • For my party, I had an electric large coffee urn that simmered apple cider, mulling spices and rum.


          Hot Rum spiked Mulled Apple Cider to the left is a bucket of wine on ice and a mini fridge stocked with bottled water, beers & juices.

        • Food list
        • Plan a menu that allows most of the prep work be done in advance. This frees more time with the guests.
      • Shopping List
        • Food list
        • Beverage list
        • Miscellaneous items
          • These usually include supplies such as napkins, plates, flowers, decorations etc.
      • To Do List
            • I like to do a timeline list, tracking all my tasks over the weeks and days leading up to the party
            • sending invitations is step 1.
            • Weeks before (here I am typically researching recipes and ordering anything online that needs to ship)
            • 1 week before (shopping for all non-perishable items, getting house in order, and getting spouse to work on the honey do list)

        lay out table days in advance. Label the dishes with what food will be served on them.

          • Day before
              • Plan the music, I found agreat holiday music station on the radio to play, no commercials, you could also create a playlist with ipod/iphone etc.
              • Chop all the wood for fireplace, load into house and stack, so there is time for cleanup. My husband actually prepped the fire ahead, so all he had to do was light it right before the guests arrived.

            Shot of my 2nd tree and how we stocked the chopped wood the day ahead, so I could clean up the mess with plenty of time to spare.


            All of the lights and decorations added to the holiday spirit.


          • Day of Party
            • Clean bathrooms
            • Stock TP (I know, but trust me, it’s important)
            • Double check lists
            • Make beds
            • Clean cat box (another weird but important one… if you have cat(s).
            • I simmer cider or water on stove with mulling spices (Cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice) on the stove, the aroma wafting through the house is very festive!
          • Two hours before the party, get ready… shower, hair, dress.
          • An hour before the party
            • I like to enlist the help of a friend to come early to help with last minute setup. This is usually when you plate all food and put the one or two hot appetizers in the oven to be ready when guests arrive.
            • Ice in buckets and at the bar. Wine chilling.
            • Candles lit ( I love having candles all over, the ambience is immeasurable, especially in the bathrooms)
            • Lights on trees, outside etc.

      My Menu consisted of many dishes I found online. My favorite site of all is but I like to do searches on pinterest as well. The evening was exactly what I hoped it would be and I had plenty of free time to mingle and chat with guests.. and have a drink..or two. 😉

    • Caprese Skewers (pinterest idea)
    • Sun-dried Tomato & Pesto Torta (
    • Shrimp Cocktail with cocktail and remoulade sauces
    • Bacon/Tator Tot Bombs (
    • Mini quiche (store bought)
    • Crostini’s topped with carmelized onion/mushroom/roasted garlic spread.
    • Charcuterie board – salami, prosciutto, mango/ginger stilton, kerrygold Leicester cheddar and Kerrygold swiss cheeses, olives and gherkins… arranged mini crab apples and halved dried figs with crackers all around.
    • White chocolate dipped cherries
    • Fruit tarts
    • Store bought chocolate cake

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Green Curry Shrimp

Green Curry Shrimp

Green Curry Shrimp
Serves: 1-2
Curry is so versatile. You can add any combination of protein and vegetables. You can play with the quantities of the curry paste, spices etc until it suites your taste buds.
  • Shrimp
  • Chopped garlic
  • Fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, basil, cilantro
  • Butter or ghee
  • Sauce
  • 1 small sweet potato diced
  • ½ a small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1-2 black garlic cloves
  • 2 T green curry paste (use more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup Chicken stock
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, entire can.
  • 1 T Local raw honey
  • Few broccoli florets (I pulled a few from a frozen bag in freezer)
  1. For the shrimp
  2. Sauté shrimp in the ghee or butter with garlic and herbs until done. Set shrimp aside, remove most of the butter or ghee.
  3. In same skillet used for shrimp, pour about ⅓ c of the chicken stock in pan to deglaze. Add the veggies and cook a few minutes. Add the curry, stir and add remaining stock. Simmer till veggies are as tender as you want them and the stock reduces slightly, Add the honey and coconut milk. Stir and heat through.
  4. Serve with jasmine, basmati, white or Cauli-rice.




The old adage is true – “as you get older, you get wiser”.

For as long as I can remember, I have eaten bad foods. As a child, we had no money, so we ate what we could afford. Potatoes, hot dogs, ground beef, ketchup, ramen noodles etc. I understand that we had no choice, but what it did to me was develop a love affair for food. BAD food. Lots of FOOD. Going without for so long, As an adult, I wanted my fridge, freezer and pantry FULL, even overflowing. I shopped for sales, never looking at the quality of the food.

Fast forward 30 ish years, I am unhealthy, overweight and LOVING bad foods. At least I was… unhealthy and loving bad foods… I am still overweight, but I am older and now wiser.

I have tried every diet out there. I just could not stick to them long term. In the last year, I have found my true love of food… REAL FOOD. I have gotten rid of the processed foods, boxed, canned, prepared etc. If you had to classify my eating- it would be somewhere between Paleo & Primal but mostly an emphasis on just eating real food, whole food. For weight loss purposes, I do monitor my daily carb count to ensure I don’t go crazy high with unnecessary amounts of sugars. I eat most vegetables (on rare occasions I eat white potatoes and rice). I use butter – grass fed. I limit my dairy, but do eat dairy on occasion. I have no health reasons preventing me from eating it, other than I think everything in moderation.

What I have changed most significantly in my eating habits are the quality of the foods that I buy, as well as making as much as humanly possible from scratch. I don’t eat out often, thankfully living in the country has helped that. I started slowly. First it was better quality eggs… buy eggs that are pastured, free range, hormone free etc. I then slowly began buying organic produce – when possible from local farmers. I then moved into buying grass fed beef and pastured pork whenever possible – all hormone free. If you follow my instagram feed, you can see that most meals truly are simple, unprocessed foods in their natural form as much as possible. EAT CLEAN

I have been fortunate in that I don’t have as much of a sweet tooth as the average person. Giving up sweets, sugars etc was easy for me. Giving up pasta, fairly easy as well. Probably the most difficult thing for me was white potatoes, lentils, couscous and kidney beans. When I have a cheat meal, it includes one of these. :)

This year we took on the growing of our own organic veggies. We have had gardens in the past, and loved the fruits of our labor, but it was labor. We are committed to doing it again, as we see now more than ever the benefits of it, not to mention the savings it will bring us after going a year of buying organic produce. I will never be able to grow everything I want/need, but the more I can do myself, the better I will feel. My garden is truly organic. No fertilizers, bug sprays, growth additives etc… nothing except for the lake water that butts up against my garden. We have a great pump system hooked up that pulls the water out of the lake and waters the garden just like a sprinkler system. My garden gets its nutrients from that, and only that. I have a weed problem right now, mainly because I have neglected staying on top of it, and so it has choked out some of my plants. I do have many bugs, and the spiders like them. 😉 Its all a learning lesson. Next year I will know what not to do.

I will be buying a half cow this year, grass fed of course. my husband hunts, so thankfully we have venison each year now, as well as wild hog. Chickens are next! Sometime this year we will be buying chickens for the sole purpose of our own beautifully orange delicious eggs. I am excited about that.

This is my blog about anything, and everything. Mostly though, its about my journey to better health and the foods I eat and serve to my family, who by the way, do not follow the same eating as I do. My husband frequents a nationwide taco chain that makes me want to vomit when I think of it…and pretty much anywhere else he wishes. My fridge and pantry are half healthy, half crap. lol Dinners are made by me, and so he eats a healthy meal. I can’t control them all 😉

Thanks for following my journey to better health, and the food I eat along the way.

Paleo Ketchup

Paleo Ketchup

Paleo Ketchup
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
You can easily omit the honey, for a sweetener free ketchup. I prefer the slight sweetness.
  • ½ c tomato paste
  • 2 T. grated or FINELY diced onion
  • 1 tsp. avocado oil
  • 1 T. + 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ - ½ tsp. salt
  • 10-14 T. water
  • 1 T. + 1 tsp. raw honey
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • sm. pinch of allspice
  1. Saute onion and oil in saucepan on low heat.
  2. Add all but water. Start by adding about 7 T of the water, then adding additional tablespoons as needed. The thickness of the tomato paste determines how much water is needed as well as desired consistency. I made my own tomato paste, and it was quite thick and I ended up using 14 T.
  3. Simmer on low heat until flavors are nicely blended. I simmered mine for about 45 minutes but less time is probably fine.
  4. This made approximately 1 and ¼ cups of ketchup.
  5. If you want to remove any bits of the onion texture, you can puree the final product in blender or food processor - careful it will be hot. I like mine with a slight texture to it.



Did You Know?

Did You Know?

One of my biggest pet peeves is wasting food! Growing up, I remember watching my dad take leftovers from the fridge and whip up delicious lunches and dinners to save money and NOT waste. We did not have a lot of money, and had to get creative. He was one of many food/cooking role models I had that influenced my love of food and not wasting! :)

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Fast forward a bazillion years, and now my kiddos are adults and in college. Between helping them financially, and my husband and I working towards a debt free life, we are on a budget!

Another pet peeve is paying a premium for products that can be purchased cheaper when in season and in abundance.

One example is Butternut Squash. When in season, it is less than a dollar per pound, Out of season is much much higher. I buy them when they are on sale. This weekend I purchased two, for .99 cents a pound. I won’t use them both this week, so I freeze up the leftovers. I freeze up most things really.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Preheat oven to 400. I line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and place the squash face down, skin side up. Roast for about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Keep checking to see if it is soft. Remove, let cool for 10-15 minutes. Remove the skin, add the squash to a food processor or blender. Purée until smooth. Let cool, and freeze in desired quantities.

It can then be taken out in small frozen portions, added to soups, stews, used for baby food etc.

Another good example of something that can be frozen: tomato paste. If you don’t have your own tomato garden to make your own tomato paste, then like me, you pop open a can. I buy the small ones, and rarely need the entire can. Guess what, it can be frozen too! I add it to chili, soups, stew, homemade BBQ sauce, pasta sauces, my husbands goulash etc.

You can place dollops of the paste on Saran Wrap or parchment. Place in freezer for a few hours. When frozen, remove from tray and place in a Ziploc bag or freezer container. You can also remove both ends of the can, freeze, then remove the frozen ‘tube’ of paste, and slice as needed. I have not tried that method, but have seen it on Pinterest.

Next year, we will grow our own organic garden. For now…we must buy our veggies, and purchase some items pre made like most folks. This is one example of how we eat healthy, clean, real food on a budget.


Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup
Recipe type: Soups & Stews
Serves: 1-2
This soup is great for using up leftovers! It is comforting and filling.
  • 1.5 Cups Chicken Broth
  • ⅓ Cup Coconut Milk - you can also use coconut cream for a richer taste.
  • 5-6 ounces (two medium) chicken thighs - boneless, skinless, cooked and chopped - equals about 1 cup of chopped meat
  • 2 Green onions, sliced - 1 for sauteeing, 1 for garnish
  • 1 T. Red Curry Paste
  • 1 T. Butter
  • ½ Cup Broccoli Florets - or any vegetable
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • A pinch of salt
  1. In a 2 qt. pot over medium heat, Saute butter and ½ the onions - about 3 min to soften.
  2. Add chicken stock. Turn heat up to medium high. Stir and let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the curry and honey. Stir and let cook for about 3-4 more minutes. This helps to develop and intensify the flavors.
  4. Add chopped chicken, stir. Simmer another 5 minutes.
  5. Add coconut milk/cream and broccoli. Stir and serve as soon as the broccoli is warmed through - about 3 minutes.
  6. Garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining green onions and a pinch of salt if desired.
  7. This makes one generous bowl, or 2 cups of soup.
The sky is the limit with what protein you chose to add to the soup. It would be great with shrimp, scallops, chicken breasts etc. You really can add just about any veggies to it, as well as rice or pasta. I keep mine clean and pasta/rice free.

Feel free to add more or less Curry depending on how spicy you like it. Mine is probably considered mild as far as curry's go... so you could add more curry, or some heat from hot peppers.


‘Zasta’ Salad

‘Zasta’ Salad

'Zasta' Salad
Recipe type: Salads
Serves: 1-2
Prep time:
Total time:
Here is a great alternative to Pasta Salad. This dish can quite easily be adjusted to your tastes.
  • 1 Cup Zoodles
  • 1.5 T. Tessemae's Southwestern Ranch dressing
  • 1 T. Bell Peppers (I used Purple skinned bells)
  • 1 T. Green Peppers (I used sweet Cubanelle)
  • 1 T. Sliced Red Onions
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 T. Mini Cucumbers, sliced
  • ½ of a small avocado (about ½ cup or a little less)
  1. Using my Padermo Spiral Slicer, I 'zoodled' one yellow squash. It made about 1 cup of zoodles. Chopped all my veggies, added the Tessemae's dressing. Mixed together and served. It could not be any simpler.
  2. If you would prefer a softer texture to the zoodles, you can flash cook them to soften them a little in some boiling water and then into ice water to stop the cooking process.
You could also add black olives, pepperoni, cheese etc. You can also change up the dressing to a balsamic variety. The Southwestern Ranch really gives this a little kick - not too much, just right.


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Honey Mustard Chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2-3
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 5 Free Range Organic Chicken Thighs
  • 1 T. Stonewall Roasted Garlic Mustard (any mustard can be used, this is my favorite)
  • 1 tsp. Raw Honey (heaping is ok ;))
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Large Cast iron Skillet
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In small bowl mix mustard and honey until well mixed.
  3. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add oil and butter to hot cast iron skillet that has been heating on stove top over med high heat.
  5. When butter is melted, add chicken, skin side down in skillet. Make sure skillet is large enough that the chicken pieces do not touch each other, this allows for a crispier cooked chicken versus more of a steamed affect if they are crowded in the pan.
  6. Fry on skin side for a few minutes until nice and golden brown. Turn over, now with skin side golden and facing up, brush the honey mustard over each piece.
  7. Put pan into oven, let cook until internal temperature is 165 degrees F. Times vary depending on how long you cooked on stove top and how big the pieces are, if you don't have a thermometer, turn the chicken over and cut along the bone on the underside and check for any remaining pink in the meat.
  8. I would start checking them about 15-20 minutes after baking in the oven...

Dinner is served! I paired the chicken with a simple mash of sweet potato and avocado. I did not add anything other than a little salt to them both. Clean eating! :-)

In this picture, I added the honey mustard glaze to 3 of the 5 thighs… my youngest son is picky, and I also was not sure the hubs would like it, so I erred on the side of caution. To my delight, he said this chicken was VERY good and he was impressed… considering he is sick on chicken. LOL


Sunday Breakfast

Sunday Breakfast

Another Beautiful morning all to myself down here in Central Florida. Check out my view:

I could get used to this. I never had quite this view when I lived here, but I had a tropical plant/pool oasis none the less.

This morning I had avocados, sweet potato and prosciutto to use up. This is what I came up with. A thick slice of red sweet potato (Whole Foods called it a red yam?) sautéed in a little coconut oil and butter. Then a thick slice of onion, sautéed. Avocado is the middle layer, followed by some pan fried prosciutto. I would have used bacon if I had some. Then one egg, I cooked mine over medium. Salt and pepper to season. That’s it. Clean, healthy veggies and proteins. All organic.

Happy Sunday!

Sausage & Zucchini Frittata

Sausage & Zucchini Frittata

Sausage & Zucchini Frittata
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
This is quite easy. It is low carb, and Paleo.
  • 1 Cup Shredded Zucchini
  • 1 Extra Large Egg
  • ½ Cup Cooked crumbled Breakfast Sausage
  • 1 T. Butter or Ghee
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. When measuring out the zucchini, lightly fill the cup, do not pack it in.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium-low heat and add the butter or ghee to melt.
  3. In a bowl, beat the egg, add the zucchini and sausage. Add Salt & Pepper.
  4. Pour into the skillet and cook on one side until lightly golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook on the final side until golden, another 3-4 minutes max. Drain on a paper towel, plate it and top with Salsa and Avocado.
  5. You can top this with just about anything: Salsa Verde, Sour Cream, Hot Sauce, Hollandaise, Cheese or nothing at all...
  6. No matter what food lifestyle you live, this is a GREAT Breakfast/Brunch.