Homemade Tomato Salsa

Everybody love chips and salsa, right?

It’s the ultimate snack, party dish, appetizer – and what better than a delicious bowl of homemade tomato salsa!

Captain America and I took a recent trip to a local Farmer’s Market and got the inspiration to make a delicious tomato salsa. We found lots of ripe tomatoes and even a stand selling all types of peppers – so we could pick the ones we wanted!

 

Captain America, being the lover of all things spicy, has made this before so I have to give him credit for this recipe – I made it but he directed!!

We shared the salsa at a pot-luck BBQ the following day and it went down a storm. We made a HUGE batch of it too – enough to share at the party (with about 20 guests) and we kept some at home too.

It had a great flavor and a little heat (which you could increase depending on your palate) and the best thing was that it was made with fresh ingredients and it was REALLY simple!

You know I am a huge fan of simple recipes – life is complicated enough without adding challenging recipes to the mix.

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients:

Makes about 10 cups

1 1/2 yellow onions

1/2 red onion

2lbs 6oz tomatoes  (this amount can vary slightly depending on the size of your tomatoes)

1 serrano pepper

1 poblano pepper

2 Hungarian wax peppers

10 cloves garlic

4 tbsp lemon juice

4 tbsp fresh cilantro

1 tbsp sea salt

3 tbsp chives 

1 tbsp onion salt

2 tbsp parsley

2 tbsp oregano

Directions:

Using a Vitamix (or blender/food processor) wet chop the onions and garlic and add to a large bowl

Chop the tomatoes in the vitamix and add to the bowl

Wash, de-seed and chop the peppers and add to the bowl

Add the seasonings and fresh, finely chopped cilantro to the bowl and stir.

TASTE the salsa – at this point you get to decide if it tastes good! We found there was very little heat from the peppers but the garlic heat was very intense. You may need to add a little more seasonings, salt or lemon juice. This will vary depending on the flavor of your tomatoes and heat from the peppers.

Bear in mind that the flavors develop with time – we made the salsa the night before the party and then taste tested it right before we served it in case we needed to add anything.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until you are ready to serve.

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Seeing as the weather is warming up in California we are heading into salad season.

Those of you who follow the blog will know that Captain America LOVES salad and could eat it everyday, I on the other hand, am not a huge fan of salad! Growing up in England we didn’t really eat salad in the colder months, we stick to hearty, warming dishes. Salad was reserved for warmer days-of which we got very few-hence my dislike with salad!

However, Tabbouleh is one of my favorite salads! I fell in love with it while I was in Israel many years ago-there is nothing quite like proper Arabic Tabbouleh!

Unfortunately, I never got the recipe, as I was too young to care at the time, so I have to rely on others I find on the Internet!

Quinoa Tabbouleh

We made this as a starter dish for our recent Christ In The Passover Meal at church and it went down a storm. We made it with quinoa-so it was Kosher! Unlike the traditional Tabbouleh which is made with Bulgar Wheat.

You could make this recipe with bulgar wheat, couscous or quinoa-all of them would be fabulous I’m sure. The joy of making this recipe, with quinoa, is that you will get your fill of protein and it is perfect for those of you who are gluten-intolerant too!

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How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

 Wedding Season is fast approaching which means Bridal Shower season too!

We all know that throwing a Bridal Shower can be very expensive. I put together this guide to How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget sharing some ideas some friends and I used when we hosted a Bridal Shower recently.

When it comes to celebrating our friends up and coming nuptials we want to throw them an incredible party-but often that requires hefty budgets and hours of planning. Some friends and I recently threw a fabulous Bridal Shower for a dear friend on a very tight budget!

We all love parties and celebrating so we put our heads together, and our small budgets and came up with some great ideas of how to throw a Bridal Shower on a budget.

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

1) Plan in advance

The further in advance you plan the more likely you are to be able to reduce the overall cost of the shower. When we are planning in a time crunch, budgets tend to get throw out and we overspend. Careful advance planning allows you to search online (see #7), find discounts and spread out the costs. You also have the opportunity to find skilled people who are willing to help you.

2) Pick a Theme

Choose a theme that is quite general-this allows you a lot of fluidity when purchasing decorations, planning food and games.  The more limited your theme, often the bigger your budget has to be. The color theme for the Bride’s wedding was red-so we chose that! We were then only limited by color but had lots of other things we could include to make the theme sing!

3) Make your food, or find someone who can!

If you are not a budding chef, then look over your guest list and see who is. There is probably a very capable budding chef waiting in the wings to showcase their talents. Ask around as if they are a good enough friend to be invited to the shower then they probably want to bless the Bride in anyway they can.

I was in charge of food because I love it and can make many things from scratch on a budget.  I know how to cut corners, where to find bargains, what to buy and what to spend time making.

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

4) Choose appetizers or dessert only

Instead of hosting a full lunch, brunch or dinner for a shower-choose just appetizers and/or dessert.  This will drastically cut your costs but you can still provide enough food to satisfy everyone. This also cuts down on your labor time and means you can probably make most of the food in advance-allowing you to focus on other things right before the shower starts.

I made Hummus and Crab Dip and served them with chips and salsa and a veggie tray, a friend made her incredible Deviled Eggs, we bought party-sized meatballs and served them in a Marinara sauce. For dessert I made Red Velvet Cupcakes and decorated them with the shower colors. I bought some red candies to add to the red decor too

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

Warm Crab Dip

5) Don’t prepare more than you need

This is one of the biggest errors people make when hosting parties-buying, preparing and serving too much food! I fall into this trap all the time, as I am my Mother’s daughter, she taught me to make more “just in case”, and I have been over-catering ever since.  I found this very helpful guide online to save you from overspending-How Much Food & Drinks To Serve At A Party

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

6) Co-ordinate who is in charge of each area

Ask someone to run games/activities during the shower. Have someone in charge of all the food. Ask someone to co-ordinate decor. Make sure someone liaises with the Bride so she arrives on time and not before!! Split activities with a team of friends and give them something in their area of expertise! More hands make lighter work!

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

7) Go online and search stores for discounts 

Try and plan as far in advance as you can. This helps find discounts, offers and spreads out the cost over a period of time rather than having to spend lots of money at the same time.

Here is a list of some great websites and stores I have used for events:

Partycheap.com

Koyal Wholesale

Oriental Trading

Party City– try in stores too

Dollar Tree– try in stores too (they even deliver for free to the stores)

Hobby Lobby

Michaels

Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts

8) Consider the Season

Try and pick a theme that fits the season we are in. For example, trying to find Fall decor and colors in March will be nearly impossible and will therefore limit your choices and boost your budget. Pick Spring colors in Spring, and Fall colors in Fall. We found some items for our shower in post Valentines Day sales as it was a few weeks after Valentines Day.

9) Don’t spend unnecessary funds on invitations

Create a Facebook event, use Evite or even send an email to your guests rather than wasting money on formal invitations. I know they are pretty and they make a great keepsake for the Bride but in this multimedia culture most people use social media and/or email to communicate now anyway so utilize that method of communication. If you have any elderly or non-social media using guests consider sending them a more formal invitation and maybe even one to the Bride so she has a keepsake!

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

10) Use a free venue

We hosted ours at our church, but you can host it at home, ask a local church or community center if they have a space you could use, if the weather allows have it in a local park, ask at your local coffee shop-they may let you use a back room or part of the shop in exchange for buying drinks. Ask around-someone will know a perfect, free space you can use….for free and at minimal cost.

And remember……Have Fun!

The most important thing is that the Bride has an incredible time, celebrating her upcoming wedding with the people that mean the most to her. Don’t get too wrapped up in the decor, food, invitations and games and lose sight of the most important part. Enjoy yourself! Celebrate! Have Fun!

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

All-Natural Guacamole

All-Natural Guacamole

All-Natural Guacamole is an amazing ingredient!

Eat it in burritos, on tacos, add it to salad or just munch on it with chips and salsa-All-Natural Guacamole is incredible ALL ways.

It is however very expensive to buy, often full of preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients-hence our All-Natural Guacamole.

The thing about making it yourself is that it can also be expensive, unless you find the ingredients on sale, the homemade version doesn’t keep very well as the avocado turns brown very quickly. It’s also hard to find a recipe that actually creates a delicious result!

We believe this IS THE recipe for All-Natural Guacamole that you have been searching for plus you know all the ingredients you are feeding your family!

Bear in mind, depending on the salsa you use, it may have added ingredients……unless you make your own or use a fresh one!

To preserve the freshness, make it as close to serving as possible and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you need to use it.

All-Natural Guacamole

Serve your All-Natural Guacamole with a simple Taco Salad or Steak Fajitas

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Celebrate St Patricks Day

St Patrick's Day Party Ideas 2

Traditionally, I am not really one to celebrate St Patricks Day!

Ironically it is much more common to celebrate St Patricks Day in America than it is in the UK.

I never really did much before but seeing so many wonderful suggestions and recipes around the Internet I am feeling inspired to get in touch with my Irish roots!

You maybe surprised that someone with the last name Cataldo has Irish roots, but my maiden name was Kelly – and you don’t get much more Irish than that.  

We know very little about my extended family, because many of our family records, along with thousands of others, were destroyed in huge fire in 1922 at the Dublin Public Records Office. What we do know is that my Dad’s grandparents were Irish and came to Liverpool, where his Dad was born, where my Dad was born and where I was born!

I therefore stake my claim to Celebrate St Patricks Day in style!

I have always been a little reluctant to celebrate some of the aspects associated with this day as I don’t believe in chance, luck or superstition, so I don’t really want to ‘glorify’ any of those things. However, I was delighted to discover this little piece of Irish folklore – it says that one of St Patrick’s teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people…now that I can go along with! Bring on the shamrocks!

For those of you who don’t know St. Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland.

I mentioned that I was inspired by many suggestions and recipes to help celebrate St Patricks Day in style, so here is my best of what I have found from some blogging friends!

I hope you are as inspired as I am!

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Fifteen Bean Soup

15 Bean Soup

Captain America made this soup – it’s one of his favorites.

If you are experiencing cold, wintry weather right now and are looking for a perfect, warming soup recipe then look no further – this is it! This is more like a stew than a soup – so it makes a great main meal too!

This is a very simple recipe – just throw it all in the pot and let it sit for a couple of hours Continue reading

Mushroom Soup Revisited

Mushroom Soup

My very first ever blog post was a recipe for Mushroom soup!

I was nervous about it, scared to write my first blog post, and clueless about anything to do with blogging!

A year later, and I write recipes all the time – some we create from scratch, some we adapt and some we keep just as they are because they are already incredible (and give full credit to the genius who created them of course!).  I have also adapt and ‘perfect’ my own recipes – just like this one for Mushroom Soup.

As winter (well as near as this part of California gets to winter) comes to its peak I like to make soup – lots of soup. A big favorite is my Butternut Squash Soup, but to take a break from that I like to make Mushroom Soup.

Mushroom Soup

I love this version of the soup enough to rewrite it here! I hope you enjoy it!

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Italian-Style Fried Chicken

Italian Style Fried Chicken

Captain America has been doing a lot of cooking over the past few weeks

I think he has been missing out on cooking as it’s something he really enjoys and used to do a lot more of…..until he gained a wife!

This is another one of his specialties – Italian-Style Fried Chicken.  I am not a huge fan of fried chicken usually – but this was so good we were fighting over the last piece! I won! I wish he had made more 😦 

This is certainly not your ‘standard’ style fried chicken – I think it is even better!

Enjoy!

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Labor Day Celebrations

Labor Day Celebrations

Labor Day…….a day off, a time for BBQ’s, making the most of the last of the summer weather, spending hours in freeway traffic with everyone else who is trying to ‘get away’ for the long weekend, a last chance to wear white pants…..or something more??

According to Wikipedia, Labor Day is defined as:

Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September, that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike. With the decline in union membership, the holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbeques and the end of summer vacations.

 

For those of you reading this who are not Americans, or at least living in America, Monday September 2nd will pass unnoticed….so while you go about your daily lives remember us here as we ‘party’ away the day!

 

With that in mind let’s all celebrate, by BBQ-ing, wearing white pants (including you men!) and making the most of the summer weather…….while remembering and celebrating “the economic and social contributions of workers”!

 

I gathered together a selection of the ‘Best Of The Best’ of summer BBQ-ing and party recipes to inspire your celebrations this Monday!

 

Whatever you do to celebrate, have fun and stay safe!

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Easy Pizza Sauce

Easy Pizza Sauce

Here is the recipe for the sauce to use on your Homemade Pizza & Calzone.

It is really quick and easy to make following just a few simple steps:

1) In a large pan, add one diced onion and 4 diced garlic cloves to a little oil.  Cook on a medium high heat for 3 minutes or until the onion and garlic have softened.

2) Add a few diced fresh basil leaves and continue to cook

3) Add one can of diced tomatoes, around 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir.

4) Reduce the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Easy Pizza Sauce 1

Pour contents into a food processor or mixer and blend until smooth.

Easy Pizza Sauce

Then use it on your favorite pizzas and calzones!

Delicious!

DSC_0088

 

And it’s as easy as that!