Chicken & Barley Stuffed Peppers: Your Kids’ New Favorite Dinner


I just had to share this recipe with you. Consider it a gift to kick off your summer! I made this recipe a few weeks ago, and it was an instant success. My husband loved it, my kids loved it, and I loved that everyone cleaned their plates. But for some odd reason, I forgot to add it to my weekly menu again, until tonight! We have been grilling like crazy lately, and my kids needed a little variety, so I decided to make these stuffed peppers again. WOW! Another raving success! My husband even ate seconds. I just love a meal where everyone leaves the table well-fed and satisfied!

Now, before you think it may not work for your family, try it. I do not like traditional stuffed peppers. In fact, I don’t really loved cooked peppers, but this recipe is a winner; I promise!



  • 4 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers (we love red)
  • 1 lb. of ground chicken
  • 1 cup of diced zucchini
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 2 cans of mild red enchilada sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. of paprika
  • 1 tbsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
  • Drizzle of Sriracha (optional)


  1. Brown chicken in a large skillet
  2. Meanwhile, cut peppers in half and remove stems and seeds.
  3. Place 6 halves onto parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 450 until tender and charred at the edges. Flip after 10 minutes.
  4. Chop the other 2 halves of peppers and the zucchini into small chunks.
  5. Add the vegetables and barley to the browning meat, mixing well.
  6. Reduce to a simmer and add the enchilada sauce and spices.
  7. Mix well and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the barley is tender.
  8. Remove the peppers from the oven and transfer to individual plates. Spoon a heaping portion of the filling into each pepper and serve immediately.

Variations: You can top with taco cheese or cilantro. Feel free to change-up or add additional veggies, such as frozen corn, diced tomatoes, or onions.



Trusting the Internet: Should I really soak my feet in mouthwash?


Well, I’m supposed to be cleaning the bathrooms right now, but honestly, I don’t feel like it, so, I decided that I’d check Facebook for a few minutes. Once I logged on, I was met by an image that has frequently popped up in my newsfeed lately. Perhaps this was a message from the universe! Perhaps I should be soaking my feet instead of soaking the toilets…


This is the original image that keeps popping up in my newsfeed.

Before I go any further, let me state a few truths:

  • God did not grace me with skinny thighs or pretty feet, so getting a pedicure is a bit like putting lipstick on a pig. There is only so much I can do.
  • You can’t believe everything you see on the internet.
  • If you have all of the ingredients for a recipe, you have to make it.
  • Beauty treatments take precedent over cleaning your house.

Now, my curiosity was piqued, so I decided that I’d read the comments. That was only fuel to the fire. They were split 50/50. Some swore by the recipe, while others declared it false. Some questioned the measurements, while others claimed it turned their feet blue or green! After reading the back and forth, I appointed myself Internet Sleuth of the Day and went in search of all the necessities. I admit, I did make a few adjustments based on the comments that were posted, and here is what I found.

If you choose to continue reading, consider yourself warned. MY FEET ARE UGLY! I have included pictures as documentation, but I claim no responsibility for the negative effects of viewing this “footage” 😉

I declare this foot soak a total success! I even got better results than the last pedicure I paid for a few months ago! It’s simple to make, relatively cheap, and I had to sit for at least 15 minutes doing nothing! The result was flip flop worthy, soft, minty fresh feet that felt invigorated and relaxed. What more could a busy mom ask for? So, do yourself a favor and try it before you pay for another pedicure.

image (9)


  • 2 cups of mouthwash (I used my husband’s Target brand generic Listerine. It was green)
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • A large basin
  • A pumice stone or rough washcloth


  1. Mix ingredients into the basin. I used very warm water, and found it relaxing. I’m not sure how the lady in the original picture made hers look so gelatinous, but mine looked like light green water.IMG_1571
  2. Soak feet for at least 15 minutes. Try to hide from your husband or children so that they do not bug you. This is your 15 minutes of peace and quiet!!
  3. To be honest, after 15 minutes, my feet did appear blue, but then I realized that it was the dead skin that was blue. A soft scrub with the pumice stone revealed soft pink skin 🙂 I used the pumice stone to scrub my feet well, especially the really rough spots. I also noticed that it worked as an awesome cuticle remover!FullSizeRender
  4. Next, I washed my feet with soap and water. This is when I used the washcloth and really scrubbed my nails and toes.
  5. Then I dried them well and moisturized them with coconut oil.IMG_1570
  6. Finally, I noticed that my toenails were a bit green, but after a coat of nail polish, you would never know. If you are leaving your nails bare, I’d use a different color of mouthwash.


    Please know I am just a mom shamelessly offering her feet. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be a foot model.


Pulling off Easter Dinner– A few tips to keep it simple.


Hosting a large family dinner can be a daunting task, especially at a holiday. There are a few things you can do to ensure that the day goes smoothly and guarantee that you enjoy the day too. No one signs up to host a family meal saying, “Sure, I’d love to have you come over to a enjoy a stress-filled, resentful, exhausting nightmare together.” But, this is what these days are for some frazzled hosts.

This post was inspired by a hopeful co-worker who popped into my classroom this week to ask for help. She is hosting Easter dinner for her entire family for the first time ever. She was feeling intimidated, but hopeful that with a few suggestions, she could pull it off. I gave her some tips and a sold menu, and she left work on Friday feeling determined and optimistic. After seeing her relief, I thought it would be a good idea to share them with all of you.

1. The Menu

My co-worker had the challenge of incorporating traditional favorites, but accommodating a family member who is vegetarian and a family member who is vegan. Here is what we came up with:

Honey Glazed Spiral Ham— Don’t be afraid to go with a store-bought ham. They are very tasty and easy to make.

Oven Baked Risotto— This is a crowd favorite, and if made with vegetable stock & a butter alternative, it will please both the vegetarian and vegan. Additionally, it’s a sophisticated alternative to potatoes.

Quiche– A quiche is a nice option for vegetarians, and it works for meals throughout the day. Go plain, or add variety with different vegetables.

Clementine Balsamic Glazed Carrots— Roasted whole carrots are a beautiful symbol of the spring season. Not to mention, the flavor is the perfect complement to the sweet ham.

Garlicky Green Beans— Toss some skinny fresh green beans with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh minced garlic. Saute until bright green and slightly tender. Remove from heat, and transfer to a serving bowl quickly so they don’t over cook.

Spinach and Strawberry Quinoa Salad— Adding cooked & cooled quinoa is a great way to add texture and update this classic salad.

2. Appetizers

My advice is to limit appetizers when hosting a large sit-down dinner. The first reason is practical. Since you are spending so much time, energy, and money on this meal, you don’t want your guests to fill up on snacks before dinner. The second reason is procedural. You will be far less stressed as a cook if you are not trying to prepare appetizers when you really need to be devoting your time and energy to the main course. I would suggest a simple cheese and cracker plate and some fresh fruit. Fruit is a great option because if hungry kids ruin their appetites with fruit, is that really such a bad thing?

3. Working Ahead 

The key to sanity and effective kitchen management is to do as much as you can ahead of time.

A few days before:

  • Set the table
  • Clean the house
  • Shop for groceries
  • Make the quiche and freeze
  • Lay out serving pieces and cookware needed
  • Clean the fridge, creating space for prepped ingredients and leftovers

The day before:

  • Wash the fruits & vegetables
  • Do all dishes and run the dishwasher. Be sure to unload it too!
  • Make quinoa and store in the fridge.
  • Pre-slice the cheese.
  • Defrost the quiche in the fridge.

The day of:

** Keep up with dishes and cleaning in the kitchen as you are cooking. Staying on top of things and keeping the kitchen clean as you cook will reduce your stress later.

  • Before guests arrive–
    • Prepare the salad (do not put the dressing on until you are ready to serve it)
    • Make the ham, slice it off the bone, and arrange on a platter.
    • Warm the quiche.
    • Assemble to fruit plate.
    • Measure and prep all ingredients for the green beans, carrots, and risotto.
    • Arrange the drink table. Add ice and cold beverages just prior to guests’ arrival time.
  • About an hour before dinner–
    • Make risotto & carrots.
    • Let guests know that you will be eating in an hour.
  • Fifteen Minutes before dinner–
    • Warm ham and quiche in the oven.
    • Toast rolls or bread.
    • Dress the salad.
    • Make green beans
  • Five minutes before dinner–
    • Put the food on the table.
    • Encourage guests to get a fresh drink
    • Start the dishwasher with any random dishes left over from the prep.
  • Dinner time–
    • LET IT ALL GO!!
    • This is what you have been planning for. Be sure to sit, enjoy dinner, and take time to have good conversation with those you love!
  • After dinner–
    • Let guests help to clear the table.
    • Put away clean prep dishes from the dishwasher.
    • Load the dishwasher with dinner dishes.
    • Sit and enjoy family and your dinner success!

Balsamic & Clementine Roasted Carrots

Looking for a new way to cook carrots? This is a simple way to update this Easter staple, giving it a complex flavor. While the finished dish looks sophisticated and gourmet, the recipe is really very easy and mess free!


  • 8-10 whole carrots, cleaned and sliced in half, lengthwise
  • 4Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clementine


  1. Preheat oven to 425°, & line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine oil, vinegar, and the zest of 1 clementine in a glass bowl, & whisk together. Save the clementine.
  3. Coat the carrots with the vinegar blend.
  4. Roast for 30-40 minutes until tender, but not mushy. (Insert a fork to assess the firmness)
  5. Remove from the oven and squeeze the juice of the clementine over the carrots.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.

Mimosa Bar


‘Tis the season of brunches, showers, and gatherings. As we all emerge from our winter hibernation, we seek time with friends and family. We also are juggling entertaining opportunities to celebrate holidays, sacraments, showers, and time with friends and family. One way to make these get togethers feel a bit more fancy is with a mimosa bar!

This is an easy entertaining trick that is a real crowd pleaser.

What you need:

  • Glass carafe- one for each type of juice or nectar (I got mine from Wal-Mart for a few dollars)
  • Wine glasses (many places sell the stemless variety for $1)
  • Champagne, prosecco, or any other variety of sparking wine.
  • Nectar- I prefer mango & pear
  • Juice- Orange, pineapple, & pomegranate are good choices
  • Fresh fruit- I chose raspberries & star fruit, but you can add any variety.


How it works:

  • Set up the mimosa station where guests can easily access it.
  • Pour nectar and juice into the carafe
  • Slice fruit and place in pretty bowls
  • Arrange glasses
  • Open chilled Champagne bottles
  • Encourage guests to mix and match flavors.
  • Pour a few ounces of champagne into the glass, then add nectar and/or juice, and garnish with fruit.




10 Kitchen Things That You Need to Clean More Often

It is Spring! Time to think about opening the windows, letting in the fresh air, and cleaning away the dust and grime left from a winter all cooped up! Well, after spending a Saturday morning with some hot water and cleaning products, I managed to find 10 areas that I do not clean often enough. Check out this list. Do you regularly clean all of these areas?

1. The grates of the stove can be one of the hardest things to clean, but a clean stove top can have a big impact on making your kitchen look cleaner overall.

1. The burner grates of the stove

1. The Burner Grates of the Stove

2. The toaster can be a crumb-filled fire hazard, but I also took the time to wipe down the sides and buttons too!

2. The Toaster

2. The Toaster

3. Don’t forget to get up on top of the cupboards! You will need to dust, as well as wipe them down with a good degreaser.

3. The top of the cupboards

3. The Top of the Cupboards

4. The silverware drawer always amazes me because it contains clean utensils, but somehow manages to catch more crumbs than the toaster…EWWW!

4. The silverware drawer

4. The Silverware Drawer

5. The bins of the refrigerator can get really gross quickly. Again, they are crumb catchers, but also magnets for sticky rings from leaky condiments.

5. Refrigerator bins

5. Refrigerator Bins

6. The liquor cabinet can be a lonely place for forgotten and expired liquors and spirits. I actually found a dusty bottle of butterscotch schnapps from a party we hosted the first year of our marriage 15 YEARS AGO!!! While I know some alcohol improves with age, I’m pretty sure this bottle is not on that list.

6. The liquor cabinet

6. The Liquor Cabinet

7. The coffee maker is one appliance that I allow to sit on my counter top, and I wipe it down almost daily, but it does need a deep clean from time to time. Check your owner’s manual because some models suggest you flush them with a vinegar solution. Also, you should wipe out the insides to clear away loose coffee grounds and dust.

7. The coffee maker

7. The Coffee Maker

8. While we are talking about coffee, lets discuss the sugar bowl. I was disgusted to see what had formed at the bottom of my sugar bowl. We had gotten into a pattern of just refilling when empty, but I had not noticed the petrified clumps of sugar that had accumulated at the bottom. That sucker went right into the dishwasher!

8. The sugar bowl

8. The Sugar Bowl

9. The vegetable drawer is a nasty place where unused herbs go to die. Keep an eye on this one because it can go from immaculate to a pseudo-composter in a matter of days.

9. The Vegetable Drawer

9. The Vegetable Drawer

10. The edges of the dishwasher are a horror that I had never imagined! The inside of the dishwasher is very clean, and I am constantly wiping hand prints off of the door, but I never knew just how gross the edges of the door could be. It took some deep scrubbing with a strong cleaner to remove the sludge that literally made me gag!

10. The Edges of the Dishwasher

10. The Edges of the Dishwasher

So there you have it! This is my master list of the areas in your kitchen that you may be neglecting. I now feel better knowing that my kitchen is cleaner, safer, and free from the gross scum that mysteriously accumulates seemingly overnight!


My Very Best Pulled Pork


When it comes to pulled pork, I’m a full blown snob! I love it so much, that my bucket list includes a trip through the small towns of the south, sampling pulled pork and ribs from the well kept secret spots and smoky hole-in-the-wall kinds of joints, where the craft of bar-b-que is practiced from ancient family recipes.

Now, while I’d love to slow cook my own pork over a sampling of hardwoods, and allow the natural flavors to develop over hours of heat, the reality is that I’m a mom of three busy kids, who works full time. Carpools, laundry, bickering daughters, and work would not wait for me to monitor a roasting hunk of meat and the demands of an open flame in my small, suburban back yard.

So, I do what any other sensible cook would do, I pull out my slow cooker. I know it is not comparable to an open flame, but, oh well!

Here is my recipe. It is an awesome blend of a Carolina style vinegar pulled pork, and its bar-b-que based counterpart. I think of it as the best of both worlds. Smoky and savory, tangy and sweet all collide in this recipe that will leave you craving more!


  • 1 large (8-10 lb.) pork shoulder/picnic or Boston Butt roast
  • 1 head of garlic peeled
  • 1 med. Yellow onion
  • 1 of each—Red pepper, yellow pepper, & orange pepper
  • ½ to 1 cup of ketchup
  • 4 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp. of  brown sugar
  • Bar-b-Que seasoning
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Sprinkle roast with seasoning.
  2. Chop peppers and onions into large chunks
  3. Place roast, peppers, onions, and garlic into a slow cooker.
  4. Pour in vinegar
  5. Cook 8-10 hours on medium to high until the meat is tender and falls apart easily.
  6. Remove meat and set aside to cool.
  7. Strain juice from the slow cooker into a medium sauce pan on the stove.
  8. Boil liquid until reduced to half
  9. Add ½ cup of ketchup and 3 tbsp of brown sugar and continue to boil until you have a thin sauce. You may need to add small amounts of brown sugar or ketchup to adjust taste.
  10. Use two forks or your stand mixer to shred meat and add it to the sauce.

Serve on a roll of your choice, or open faced on a slab of Texas Toast garlic bread!


  • The longer the meat sits in the sauce, the better it tastes
  • This can be frozen in smaller amounts and used as needed.
  • Make it at least one day in advance to allow the meat to soak up the sauce.

Lessons Learned from A Year of Sucky Loss



I sat down to write this post at least 100 times, but while my heart was sure of what I wanted to say, my mind couldn’t find the right words. Well, today, a powerful woman helped me find my voice. I went to see Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery speak at a little church, not far from my home, and while I knew what she was going to talk about, I had no idea that she would have the power to take the words from my heart and weave them together in my mind, so I could get them out in a coherent, meaningful way.

I will begin by telling you simply that this past year has sucked, massively! But as those words come out, I have to take them back, because amid all of the sucky loss and pain that have filled my world these past few months, God magically intertwined beauty and strength. So yes, I have experienced loss, anguish, and tragedy, but I have also been blessed with friendship, kindness, and a love that reaches deep into my heart.

Friendship is something that has come easily to me as an adult. I like to think that I collect friends along the way, and I cherish the people who have stayed with me, from kindergarten to college up through motherhood, because they have made my life richer. I live in a close-knit neighborhood, and over the past eight years, I have become friends with many of my neighbors. There are six of us that have developed a close bond that, through the events of the past year, has grown into a powerful core of support that I am eternally grateful for. In the past twelve months, one of us lost a husband to a battle with cancer, I lost my dad, another lost her grandfather, and another one battled a personal struggle with a great deal of hurt. It just seemed like we couldn’t get a break from the suffering. The common thread that bound us all this year was pain. Yet, somehow we managed, unconsciously, to use that pain to build something so beautiful, and I thank God for it every day.

What touched my heart today was Glennon’s perspective on pain. I sat in the front row, trying to be present and in the moment, but the nerdy teacher in me just had to take notes, because God forbid I forgot any of her brilliance! It started when she talked about crisis being like a sifter. At first, I thought she was crazy when she explained that crisis allows all of the “sand” to sift through, leaving all of the treasures behind and exposed. That was an epiphany for me. This year of suck has been a sifter for the six of us. It has forced us to discard all of the meaningless, and what was left was beauty, compassion, love, and true friendship. Those are the real treasures. Those are the blessings that can get so easily lost in the pain.

She also talked about how we desire to fix our friends’ pain because we love them. That is when I realized that we can’t take the pain away, and shield those we care about from the agony of loss or anguish of personal battles, but we can certainly walk beside them and cheer them on, whispering to stay strong. Our presence can simply be a reminder that the journey is not one of solitude, that there is a hand to provide stability or simply a soul to bear witness to the metamorphosis that a painful journey can bring.

So as I reflect on this really long year, with really hard battles, I am going to allow myself and my friends to feel pain, but I am also going to leave room for gratitude, for it is through these struggles, I have found five of the most beautiful treasures waiting at the bottom to love me, care for me, and walk with me, as I travel through my beautiful life.




Sexy Wine, Lazy Sangria, or Delusions of “Healthy Drinking”


Sometimes we just want to feel special and fancy.

Sometimes we just want to spice things up.


Sometimes we are just too lazy to make sangria

Well, I was thrilled and inspired by my friend, Carly, the other night. She had a few girls over to catch up and see her new house. When we arrived, we were all intrigued with a beautiful plate of fruit and adornments that she had placed next to the open bottles of wine. All of us were excited to dress up our simple glasses of reds and whites, to resemble something more sophisticated and sexy.

What really caught my eye was the sugared rosemary. I was totally enamored with the idea of such conflicting flavors, not to mention that it looked like a little frozen branch of evergreen to compliment a winter drink. This concept was so simple yet sophisticated.

I also preferred to think that I was totally making my wine more healthy, therefore part of my diet. I will continue to believe this every time I slip out of compliance, for that is what makes me happy!

Whether you are hosting a girls night out, Valentine’s Day dinner, or a cozy night in by the fire, I highly encourage you to sexify your wine. It just makes you feel more special!


Ingredients: (You can be more creative, feel free to add or change)

  • Pomegranate Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 1 starfruit, sliced
  • 2 oranges, sliced (I used Cara Cara oranges)
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of strawberries, sliced
  • 8-10 small sprigs of rosemary
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • spray bottle of water
  • Wine of your choice, red or white (I used Prosecco & Pinot Noir)


  • Wash & dry all fruit.
  • Remove the seeds from the pomegranate.
  • Slice the oranges, starfruit, and strawberries.
  • Spritz the rosemary with water.
  • Dredge each sprig through the sugar, shaking off the excess.
  • Arrange on a platter and open wine.

Mixing the Drink:


  • Place desired fruit in the bottom of the wine glass.
  • Pour selected wine over the fruit.
  • Enjoy!


  • Repeat with each refill. You can keep the same fruit in your glass, or snack on the fruit and add more with each serving of wine.



Buffalo Chicken & Potato Casserole


“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

We all know this phrase, and I usually can agree with this philosophy, but it can’t always be true, right? Well, at least it’s not true for me when I get a good idea to “fix” something, like say a casserole.

I found a casserole recipe on Pinterest. It’s pretty popular, and there are a bunch of knock-off versions, so I made it this summer to mixed reviews. My mom and my husband liked it, my kids, not so much. I also have a neighbor who tried it based on my Facebook post, but her feedback was so-so as well. Technically, this recipe was not “broken”, but I had an idea of just how to “fix” it.

For me the issue was a flavor thing. It needed a bit more depth. I absolutely loved the technique, but I felt it needed a little more complexity beyond plain hot sauce. I “fixed” it. You’re welcome 🙂


  • 6-8 medium potatoes, cubed with skins on
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ½ packet of Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix
  • 1 cup of Buffalo wing sauce
  • 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup of chopped, cooked bacon
  • ¼ cup of chopped green onions


  • Preheat oven to 500°.
  • Chop potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and salad dressing mix, then toss until coated.
  • Line the bottom of a casserole dish with the potatoes and bake for 45 minutes. Check the potatoes around 30 minutes, and stir.
  • Meanwhile, chop the chicken and coat with the wing sauce.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from the oven, top with the chicken, then sprinkle cheese, bacon, and onions.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 475° and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the cheese is nicely melted.

**Because ovens can vary, ensure that the chicken is fully cooked prior to consuming.