Friday, November 12, 2010


I had the rare opportunity to host a Hormel Party for a party of ten for The Foodbuzz Tastemakers. Program. We had a wonderful time! It was full of little piglets running around drawing pigs, Daddies playing music, and the Mommies making magic in the kitchen!

Place: The Sellers Household (Friends)
Guest: Sellers Clan (2 adults and 5 piglets), The Hagan Clan (2 Adults and 2 piglets)
Time and Date: November 7, 2010 @ 12:00 - 6:00 (Piggie Joke: I told you not to let those pigs In my office. Now, look What’s happened. They’ve eaten all the dates off my calendar!)

Activities: Piggie Drawings for the kiddos, Music by Mr. Hagan and Mr. Sellers, and not to mention massive amounts of YUMMY chow!

Now! Lets talk SLOP! ((WARNING: My photos are not the greatest! My camera is sent a way being fixed! Boooooo! But I wanted to post pictures of this fantastic food!)

This is some of the yummy food that we served: Bagel Bites, Potato Boats, Cuban, Ham, Chive Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin Trifle.


Slices of Hormel® Cure 81® ham
Shredded Hormel® Always Tender® (I used the Mesquite and Added a little chili powder, salt and pepper. I cooked with a little water on 250 for 4 hours)
Swiss Cheese
Pickle Relish
Spiced Mustard
Cuban Bread

1. Layer the Sliced Ham with the shredded pork tenderloin on a bed of Cuban Bread. Top with cheese and the slather the top with relish and mustard. Then use a sandwich press and grill until browned. If you do not have a sandwich add a little olive oil to a large skillet and when the oil is warm add the sandwich. But you need to weigh down the sandwich. (Something very heavy..Cast Iron Skillet). Cook on both sides until it is browned on both sides.

The finished product....mmmhhhh....It was one of the FAVORITES!!!!!!

THIS IS Hormel® Cure 81® ham!!!It was fabulous!!! With all the leftover ham it made a WONDERFUL Navy Bean Soup!

The Bagel Bites (For the 7 little piglets)

Mini Bagel
Old English Cheese (Found near the shredded cheese in the Color)
Hormel® pepperoni

1. This is super simple and kids love it!!! Slice the Bagel in half and add the Old English and top with the pepperoni ( I used the mini pepperoni). Bake on 350 for 8-10 minutes.


8-10 Russet Potatoes
Cheddar Cheese
Hormel® bacon toppings
Sour Cream (Optional)
You will need lots of Canola Oil too.
Salt and Pepper

1. Clean and wash all of the potatoes. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake on 400 for 45 - hour. Let cool.
2. Cut each potato in half and remove the pulp. (Make Chive Mashed Potatoes with the Pulp) Brush each skin with oil and season. Bake on 400 7 minutes on each side. The last flip add the cheese and bacon and cook 5-7 more minutes. Top with chives and sour cream! Yummy!

For the Chive Mashed Potatoes:

Cook Hormel® Black Label® bacon and let cool and then crumble. Add the bacon, chives, 1/2 - 1 cp milk, a few tablespoons of butter to the leftover potato pulp!

I would love to thank Foodbuzz and Hormel for this opportunity. We had a wonderful time and amazing food! THANK YOU!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Food Blog Competition: Ready, Set, Blog!

The infinite question: What describes you as a food blogger? BALANCE

To understand what defines me as a food blogger is to first understand, or at least empathize, er' perhaps sympathize, with the dynamics of mother, wife, and blogger. The Great Dichotomy as it were of a child and husband taste buds: Chicken Nuggets vs. Steak Sandwiches, Homemade Mac and Cheese vs. Tamales, Carrots and Veggie Dip vs. Roasted Pepper Hummus and Pita. Doing my best to please all critics. Whether it is child, adult, or fellow blogger, delivering balance is the preferred format. That format is then transposed for all to read on the web and judge for themselves.

There are also rights-of-passage here. I want to share the passion for food with my two little girls as my mother did with me. I include my girls in most endeavours whether it is planting seeds, picking freshly grown tomatoes, making scrambled eggs for their breakfast or rolling out pasta dough. Many of my post include silly stories and quirky moments of motherhood while creating mouthwatering dishes.

My oldest helping make homemade pasta for dinner.
Homemade Chicken Tenders for kids.

My husband enjoys the more complicated and delectable dishes that my children have yet to appreciate. A few of his favorites that grace my site is Smoked Meatloaf, Juevos Rancheros, and the ever time consuming Tamales. The Manly Food. The Comfort Food. These posts screams to most hard-working men and to the women that want to feed them.

The Ultimate Omelet: 4 eggs, Monterrey Jack Cheese, Refried Beans, Taco Turkey Meat, Homemade Salsa, Lettuce, Tortilla Chips, and Jalapenos.

The Insanely Good Steak Sandwich: Slowly cooked sirloin sliced then topped french fries, Cole-slaw, and sour-dough bread! I served with the Fried Onion Rings!

Smoked Meatloaf Sandwich!!!

Then we have the sweet, tasty, satisfying and comfort food that warms your core. It will make you want to nap for hours after eating. Yes, desserts!! The delectable are also has a vast part of My Food and Life Encounters. The pies, cupcakes, cookies and homemade breads.

As a food blogger I BALANCE: the healthy and the not so healthy, sweet and the savory. My Food and Life Encounters is a site where anyone could visit and find a recipe they "must have" or a dish that makes their salivary glands go crazy. Balance is what makes me different, unique, and an able Project Food Blog Winner. I will continue on my journey...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dulce Leches Cheesecake

Sorry for the delay. Let me just tell you about August 16th. The worst day in my years of parenthood. My husband has been out of town for five days a week. It could not of came at a worse time. My oldest started Kindergarten at a school that I do not like. (Understatement: No Colors. No ABC's. No Kindergarten type decorations. It was in one of the poorest neighborhoods. We somehow was zoned for this school. Not sure how considering we do not live in that town .)We are in the process of getting her switched, but it broke my heart leaving her there. I cried when I walked out the door.

Then, I looked back at my two year old who was on day 3 of a fever of 104 and noticed her lymph nodes in her right arm were growing the size of golf balls. (I took her to Urgent Care the day before and he told me it was a Virus)I decide to take her straight to my primary doctor. The doctor took one look at her and told me, "She needs to be admitted."

Let me just say, on my way down in the elevator to my car I sobbed. I want my husband. I want my daughter not to be sick. I want my other daughter in a different school. I called my husband and literally broke down.

I live in Florida. All my family live in Ohio. I have no help. SOOOO before I could take my youngest to the Children's Hospital I needed to go pick up Alex EARLY from her first day of her new horrible school. I did not want to take her to the hospital with me because I had no idea what could happen so I made a few phone calls. My husbands co-worker, and now family, left work early to watch my (older)baby. Then, finally I headed to the hospital. After many hours and blood testes we find out that it is most likely CAT SCRATCH FEVER!

After late night baths, 105 fevers, three antibiotics, doctors offices and blood work. It is now over and it is September 11th ! Almost an entire month of mending a sick kid!

Not to mention, we had to get rid of the cat that my girls adored, but I could not risk anyone getting sick again.

Good news: It is now all working out. I got my oldest tested as gifted and she passed. YEAH! Now she will be transferred to the best school in the county. Bailey is on the mend and back to her playing self. AND MY HUSBAND IS COMING HOME....

Because my husband is coming home I had to make something special. My oldest asked for Cheesecake and this is what I came up with.

Dulce Leches Cheesecake
Adapted from

1 1/2 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbled
6 tbsp. butter, melted

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (24 oz. total)
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup Dulce Leches Can from Nestle (You will use the rest of the can too)

1. Mix the crust and push into a 9 in springform pan. Bake on 400 for 10 minutes until browned.

2. Meanwhile, Mix the filling together.

3. Afte the crust cools drop the filling into the springform pan. Drop teaspoons of the Dulce Leches in a circler motion around the cheesecake. Bake on 325 for 45 minutes.

4. Let it cool for 25 minutes and then put in the fridge. Make sure you run a knife around the edge so it does not crack.

5. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Little Bit of of Spain in Iowa GIVEAWAY! Go Diana!

My good friend and fellow blogger Diana from A Little Bit Of Spain in Iowa is giving away an absolutely amazing carry along bag for convenient shopping at the farmers market. It is called Reisenthel Wheeled Trolley Bag. Check out their site! Please take a minute and stop over to see Diana and her remarkable site! Enter this giveaway! Good LUCK!! (But...I secretly hope I win this bag..hehe)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Carrabas! Carrabas! Carrabas!

I had a marvelous experience at Carrabas this Saturday - all thanks to the brilliant and unique Tastemaker Program through Foodbuzz and the fantastic staff at Carrabas.

We arrived on Saturday at noon. There were no other patrons as the doors are closed until 4. There were about fifteen to twenty Foodbuzzers and Guests. My guest and I was the first to arrive. We walk into the double doors and are escorted to a bar right in front of the kitchen. A few minutes later the festivities started…..

The kitchen was amazing with all the water boiling and the mind blowing aroma of garlic and spices.

The Managing Partner of Carrabas, Angela Gutierrez, entered the kitchen and introduced herself and began cooking up a storm. Angela descriptively gave us the directions of each dish. She was incredible.

The first dish the Foodbuzz Tastemakers tried was Carrabas Calamari. The Calamari is lightly breaded and served with their marinara sauce. The Calamari was tender and cooked to perfection. It was my guest first time in trying Calamari and she enjoyed it immensely

The second dish was the simple but delightful Tag Pic Pact. Roma Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil and Basil is all. The garlic was caramelized and had a delightful taste. It was served a top homemade pasta! The pasta alone was to die for!

I loved this photo...I had to include it!
This special sauce is jammin' - for all you G-Love fans.
Angela is cooking the dish and serving it to the Foodbuzz Tastemakers.
The finished product. Look at that huge slice of garlic at the end of my fork! It tasted so yummy.
Angela is showing us the garlic and oil used to make this dish and how it caramelized the garlic.

The third dish was undeniably my favorite dish, The Linguine Pescatore. This dish contains massive tender scallops, Prince Edward Mussels, and Shrimp. It is tossed in a spicy tomato sauce containing crushed red pepper. I finished the entire dish. I am ready for a nap.

What a beautiful dish. It was topped with lots of freshly chopped parsley. YUM!

Sea food, see...


Mmmhh. It is almost gone. Oh. I miss this dish. I need a Carrabas fix SOON!
As for our last dish, my stomach would not allow me to finish it. Penne Franco is a light sauce using the pasta water, garlic, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, black olives and topped with freshly grated ricotta salata. Angela served ours with roast chicken. Oh my! The chicken was to die for!
simple. beautiful.
The char marks from their grill. It is cooked with wood under a grill!! I am not sure what kind of wood, but you could taste they smokey taste in the chicken. They used their own seasoning mix on top of the chicken.

Angela grating fresh Ricotta Salata on top of our pasta dishes.

We were not disappointed! Every dish was simple, yet flavorful and delightful!

Last but not least...THE DESSERT!!! We had a variety! My guest loved the Cannoli one and ate three of them! The first dessert is strawberry, banana and pineapple with whip cream and it was amazing! The second was a chocolate moose with nuts. The third and final was the cannoli cream with crushed up pistachios. Wow.....

I do not think words can describe how unforgettable this dinner was. I am now a huge Carrabas fan!
Thank you Foodbuzz Tastemakers and Carrabas for the most amazing dinner!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Makes The Worst Day Vanish Curry"

I have had a little bit of a rough week. (Welcome to parenthood)
Let's see......Where to begin....OOOHHHH I KNOW...

My youngest decided to hide my keys (house and car linked onto ONE BIG KEY CHAIN). That is where it ALL started. I did not notice right away, but when we ran out of Juice and I searched everywhere for them.

My mother-in-law informed me that while having a conversation with her on the phone I interupted her to say, "Bailey Leland put my keys back. You can not play with those! I do not want you to lose them!"

They are gone. MIA. Vanished.Disappeared....

What could make this much worse? My husband who has my spare on his set of keys is out of town for a few days. I am stranded at my home! No where to go! I can't go get Juice. Milk. Food. SANITY....

What could make that worse?!?! The power goes out in the HOT HOT Florida sun. (105..Did I mention?) No air. No internet. No phone. No cable. No lights. Must I go on?

You may ask...Can it get worse!?! Yes. It can!
As I am searching under my bed for my missing keys I hear the most god awful bang! I run into my living room to find my youngest crying and hiding....Our flat screen t.v. is laying on the floor.

While searching for my keys she decided to use the flat screen t.v. as a jungle gym. Don't worry...She was not hurt. The t.v. on the other hand has a shattered base, but it is still working..LUCKILY!

That was not the only thing she decided to do while I searched high and low for my keys....My lovely two year old also decided to scoop all the kitty poopie from the box and put it all over the kitty. Yep.

BATH TIME for the kitty!!! Claw marks for Mommy!!In the heat of my home!! With no keys!! With a shattered t.v.!!!

But at the end of the day without my husband I lay down with my beautiful little girls cuddled under each arm after devouring a huge bowl of my favorite most comforting dish .......I smile, because no matter how awful my day is I am blessed. I adore my kids no matter what type of trouble they get into. I love my husband because he is working hard away from the what he cherishes most so I can stay home with my girls....I am overwhelmed with the love I feel..

"Makes The Worst Day Vanish Curry"

By: Miranda Hagan

This is by far my favorite dish of all time. It makes you forget everything. It is so yummy!!! This is also a healthy dish!!! It warms your soul!!
1. Toss 1 16 oz. Bag Fresh Spinach, 1 Large Vidalia Onions, 1 Large Package Mushrooms sliced then, 3 Chicken Breast Sliced Thin, and 4 cps Sugar Snap Peas together with 4 tsp garlic chopped in 1 tsp Canola Oil over medium heat.

2. When the meat is cooked add 1 can of Lite Coconut Milk, 2 Cps Chicken Broth, 1 tsp. Red Curry Paste, 1 tsp. Curry Powder, 1/2 tsp. corriander, 1/2 tsp. Turmeric, 1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper, 1/2 tsp, 1 tsp. salt and 3 TB sugar.

I just wanted to show the bag of noodles used in this dish! They are FANTASTIC!

3. Add the entire bag of Asian Egg Noodles and let it cook for three minutes until soft. Add 1/4 cp. soy sauce and 1/2 cps. of diced up cilantro. Simmer.

4. Toss and it should be ready to eat....

Yum Yum Yum!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Take Proper Care of a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

The Lodge Cast Iron Skillet was founded by Joseph Lodge in 1896! Over a hundred and fourteen years ago!Do you want to know what is more amazing? It is still family runned today. The Cast Iron Pans made generations ago are still being used in kitchens today. They are timeless!

Though always been afraid to purchase one, I am now an owner of a cast iron skillet. Not just any cast iron skillet a US made Lodge Cast Iron Skillet.

Why so reserved you may ask? As I encountered the cuisine of southern womanhood, each discussion about their secret weapon was intimidating. This was a club no Ohio River Valley Girl should attempt to join. Besides, their wares had decades of uses to get that “unique” flavor. Seasoning? I HAD NO IDEA what a seasoned pan meant. I thought they put a little bit of salt and pepper on the pan, ha. Really, really hard to take care of and a huge pain to maintain?

Don’t tell the daughter of a Pipefitter, raised in the rust belt, that this piece of metal was out of my league.

I have since learned a lot from my Lodge Cast Iron. Again, this is my experience so please consult Auntie Lou Ann in case I missed something.

1. Cast iron is naturally non-stick. But if food begins to stick in a cast iron pan it may need seasoned.

I have learned that seasoning is a way of maintaining the pan. To season a pan you lightly oil the pan with a neutral oil (that is high in saturated fats) on the entire inside of the pan and flip and put it in the middle of the oven. Put a foil lined baking pan below on the last oven shelf. Bake on 500 for thirty to sixy minutes. Remove. Do over if needed.

If a pan is not seasoned correctly food will stick and it will be prone to rusting.

Seasoning correctly causes the oil to become permeated into the pores of a cast iron skillet. It causes a tough and hard film in the pan. This is the BIG secret of maintain a non-stick and an amazing cast iron-skillet.

2. If seasoned correctly nothing will stick to your cast iron pan. Because of this you will not need to add oil to cook making it possible for fat free cooking.

3. Cast Iron pans last a lifetime. Many lifetimes. Pass them down to your kids.......

4. The Cast Iron Pan heats and cooks all food evenly!


1. You should not wash it in the dishwasher or like other pans. Cast iron needs to be wiped cleaned without soap. No harsh brushes or sponges. If you have a lot of residue that is hard to remove, boiling water should do the trick.

2. You should not cook foods containing tomatoes, vinegar or other acidic ingredients. This will damage the seasoning that you have worked so hard to create. The best foods to cook in cast iron is high fatty foods. Such as: Bacon, Sausage, Chicken, Beef and Pork.

3. Never try to cook on a cold pan. ALWAYS PREHEAT!

I love my Lodge Cast Iron Pan. I am not sure how I lived so long without one. In the last month I have made: Chicken Fried Steak, Oven Fried Chicken, and Apple Dutch Pancakes. It is a must have in all kitchens!

Did I do OK Auntie? Now how’s about sharing that that fried mac n’ cheese recipe.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vacation :)

The last two weeks I have been consumed by pure excitement. My husbands best friend (whom we named our daughter after Bailey LELAND) came into town and they played lots of music (They were in a band together for 12 years! They even went to California and tried to become professional musicians), went to the beach multiple times (once on the fourth to watch the fireworks), went to St. Augustine to see the beautiful amazing old houses and forts and lastly we spent four days in a nice hotel in Gainesville. I hope this explains my MIA. Here is some photos of the fun fun week and half:

Look at that sky?!?! It was so fantastic! That is the castle that Alex built...She is getting so big. :)
Bailey and I...

This is what the sky looked like. It was amazing...Bailey is playing in a little water-hole..

Alex is so proud of her daddy....She idolizes him.

Alex watching the jets fly across the sky at Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach...Alex in the waves.
Bailey playing in the sand...

Bailey Sandy Face :)
Castle time!
My husband (left) and David Leland (right)
Love this photo. David Leland.

Love this photo. It is my husbands all time favorite guitar: Les Paul.

This is why I gave him a chance in College....He looks so handsome singing. :)
My husband and Dave still playing music. They played for many nights. This is the first time that my husband played all of his old music that he and David has written. It was so great to hear. It took me back 7 years. I have missed those years so much.
St. Augustine Bay....So lovely.
My Family:))) I am sooo lucky.
The fort...
The fort again...It was so beautiful. St. Augustine is one of my favorite places..

Enough pictures..

I do have posts planned too. All of my beautiful sunflowers have passed, but now I have lots of yummy Roasted Sunflower Seeds. I will be posting on the process.

I also have been testing out my first Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with many recipes. I will be sharing how to maintain a cast iron and some of my favorite recipes.

I also have been testing a Grow Box. I will be posting on what that is and the growing progression....

Take care and I have missed you all. :)