Category Archives: Cheat Meals

Hors d’oeuvres Anyone?

This past weekend, my husband and I invited my Mother to our home so that we could do her taxes for her. Yes, it’s that time of year again, and my fantastic DH  is just a wiz with numbers, well maybe with just a little help from Turbo Tax.

I was rummaging through our deep freeze, looking for something to turn into an appetizer for us all while we worked. We had planned on going out to dinner, seeing as the weather was suppose to be nasty and I wouldn’t be able to grill anything (mom’s fav is my teriyaki chicken and assorted Asian veggies).

I totally forgot that I had bought these at Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks back just for this purpose. Sometimes you need to have a late afternoon snack or maybe folks drop by. I honestly thought that this Camembert cheese with cranberry sauce wrapped in fillo would be super, meh. As you can see, the cheese mostly melted out, bummer!

Now, the Arancini bites stuffed with fontina cheese were a big  hit with both mom and I, the Mister not so much. I had some leftover marinara sauce in the `fridge for a dipping sauce, add a glass of wine…YUM!

(btw, we aren’t going to talk about our dinner out, it wasn’t very good)


I Really Shouldn’t

…but okay.

Cheeseburger @ Five Guys

My husband was working so I went over to do some bulk warehouse shopping, and what do I spy?


@ Five Guys

This one is ALL for ME!  A double cheeseburger, sautéed mushrooms, BACON, lettuce and pickle, oh a schmer of mayo, thank you very much.

Now, if I only had a beer.


Continuing Our Christmas Vacation…

The day after Christmas…

We had made arrangements to spend a few days in Charleston South Carolina on this visit and we finally convinced the gang to come along, YIPEEE!

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge or New Cooper River Bridge, Beautiful!

We found our hotel with the aid of GPS and my expertise in co-piloting. Once we all got settled in, we promptly set out exploring. Directly in front of our hotel was the city’s FREE, yeah I said free, trolley cars that will take you just about anywhere in the city.

We had made reservations for the following day on a walking tour of the city with Charleston Foot Prints, thank you again Michael, it was wonderful.

It was a 2 ½ hour tour winding through the historic portion of town. I was surprised how much our 11 and 13 year old nephews enjoyed it.  We all would reccommend it, highly.

Lunch that afternoon was at Sweetwater Café on Market Street. I’ve never had a fried pickle before and I liked it. It was burgers for our crew and salads for the ladies.

After further walking, we all needed something sweet…

We found Cupcake Downsouth on our first evening in town, but didn’t get a chance to stop in til now. Red Velvet with CreamCheese icing, Toasted Coconut and Vanilla with ButterCream cupcakes.  Worth every calorie.

That evening we went over to James Island County Park – Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island.  Fantastic!  My camera doesn’t take very good night-time pictures, but let me tell you, if you are ever in the area during the month of December, GO!

The next day we went out to Fort Sumter National Monument. On the boat ride out to the island, we were followed by Dolphins and Sea Birds. This is an amazing, historic place, where the first shots of the War Between the States were fired.

Lunch had been planned out and a table reserved, good thing too! It was a very busy afternoon and the restaurant was hoppin’.

Fleet Landing.

My husband ordered a platter of fresh oysters, it was all for him. For the rest of the meals on the table, they consisted of two baskets of biscuits and whipped honey butter, a burger (unfortunately it was too far across the table from me), a shrimp plate, a Cobb salad with black-eyed peas (interesting) and two orders of Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage and Tasso Ham gravy. This was my first time trying Shrimp and Grits and I must say, not my last, WOW! If I could have licked the bowl I would have.  I wanted to get up and dance, it was that spectacular of a dish!

We needed to walk that lunch off, for sure.

Right next door was the Waterfront Park with Charleston’s infamous Pineapple Fountain. It was such a nice day, that we all kinda just did a slow saunter and enjoyed it. We did have a bit of a walk back to where we had parked the car, so that was good.

We went back to our hotel to rest for awhile and then it started to rain. Liz, our nephew’s wife, and I had wanted to try a restaurant that we thought our entire team would like, Toast. Since it was raining and it was two trolley-transfers away, we decided it best to drive. Charleston isn’t a difficult city to drive in, but finding parking is the trick.

This meal was quite the gastromonical delight! Crab cakes, fried shrimp, fried pickles (yum), beef stew soup, fried chicken, meatloaf, steak, I can’t remember what Liz had but it looked good, pork chops with black-eyed peas and greens, red velvet cupcake, coconut cream pie, chocolate layer cake and carrot cake… YUM!

The weather forecast was for rain all the next day and that was a bummer, because we had reservations for a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city. We made up a contingency plan and called Classic Carriage Works. Graciously, they agreed that it was not a good day for a carriage ride and refunded our pre-paid tickets. The five of us piled into the mini van and headed for the South Carolina Aquarium.

This was WAY more than just fish. We got to feed some little `rays, and the boys had a good time in the hurricane booth. The day prior a nice gal was handing out flyers to a deli just up the block, so that’s where we headed for lunch.

East Bay Deli hit the spot for all of us. Chicken salad in a spinach wrap, Philly Cheese Steak Sammie, `burgers (not pictured `cause they were gone before I could get a photo), a Greek Salad with Gyro meat and extra tzatziki sauce and a hunk-o-cheesecake was on the table this day. Oh, did I mention those flyers gave us $5 off? Sweet!

It was another slow walk back to the car. But wait, what did I see along the way but a bakery, hmmm, I think we need another treat.

The two young men in our entourage enjoyed cookies as the older folk had a coffee. Thank you Delish! Bakery and Bistro. Uber cute place and luscious goodies.

Well, we must bid farewell to Charleston and head back North.

On our drive back to Camp Lejeune we stopped for lunch in Myrtle Beach at Capriz Italian Feast, located on Broadway at the Beach. Let me tell you, it was a feast!

Lunch was all you could eat salad bar, pizza or both. I couldn’t even tell you the number of choices on the salad bar… olives, breads, pastas both cold and hot, soup, salumi, cheeses, salads, a display pizza kitchen… oh my gravy all over my two scoops rice (that’s OMG in my world)!

It was very quiet in the car for the rest of the ride.


Something New

I was perusing the aisles once again at Walmart and found this


Really? Wow, I love those biscuits. I can make these at home? Let’s try this with some soup, it’s been a little cool.


Meh, they were just okay. I can’t recommend these Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix, sorry.

meh, they're okay


I Forgot Dessert

I cheated.

For Thanksgiving dessert, I BOUGHT, yes purchased my pies.

Here’s how I look at it. Our table is now numbering only three and each of us like different types of pies.

Some years back, my husband made notice of how much work I put into any holiday meal. The planning, the shopping, the preparing, the serving and the lastly the clean up. WHY? So I decided this year to go to one of our local bakeries and get…

DH's Apple pie ala mode

An apple pie for my darling husband, served ala mode

a min strawberry-rhubarb pie

A mini strawberry-rhubarb for my mother

mini pumpkin pie for ME!

And a miniature pumpkin for myself


Enjoy your celebrations!


I’m Getting Ready!

I took my Mother grocery shopping the other day, and you know how I like to shop… I LOOK at stuff. Mom, well, she has her list and goes up and down the aisle like a drill sergeant; not paying any attention to anything but what she knows and needs. When I pulled out my camera and started to take photos of stuff that I WISH  we could eat, she was all… “what are you DOING!” (sssshhhh, I haven’t told her that I have this blog) I told her that I was taking pictures of stuff that I am putting on the list.

Mom: “what list?”

Me: the list of things that we’ll have once we’re off of our diet, I mean different way of looking at food

Mom: “oh, that’s nice dear”

Well, she buys EVERYTHING that I wanted and said, “I’ll try it and let you know how it is”.

Thanks Mom.


It may not be hot wherever you are, but for us here in the desert southwest, Summer is upon us in full force. It’s HOT!  So what do we do? Well, there’s no beach to run to, so the next best thing is the pool, YEAH BABY! DH and I spend probably about 2-3 hours at our community’s pool and fitness center after breakfast most days. We try to get back home about lunch time and have something on the light side.


One of our favorite warm weather mid-day meal is Tyson Crispy Chicken strips and an array of chopped raw veggies. When our nephews (Heh Jake and Jack) were visiting with us last month, we bought the jumbo sized bag of Tyson Chicken Nuggets, which we still had left in the freezer, so I figured, same thing right?

Love that Hidden Valley Ranch

Now, I’m a dripper, I like to dunk my vegetables in some sort of creamy dressing, which drives my husband up a tree, it’s the smell that gets to him.

Noh Brand Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

Something else I like for dipping is Noh brand Hawaiian Barbeque Sauce, (yup, it’s from Hawaii) IT’S ONO~LICIOUS (really tasty)! It has this nice smoky, tangy, sweet, savory, plain `ole rock your mouth flavor. It’s great on the nuggets.

Sweet Chili Sauce

If you can find Sweet chili sauce in your area, try it, and not just as a dipping sauce. It makes a wonderful glaze on roast chicken!

Okay, so that’s three different dips that I put into small ramekins on my plate; for DH, NONE! That’s right, he likes his naked, no sauce, no condiments other than loads of freshly cracked black pepper, so that’s his plate you see above.



Sometimes You Just Have To Give In

Yup, that’s how it is sometimes. You just have to give in and not try to fight it. For years, I refused  to use any jarred or canned marinara or spaghetti sauce to serve my American-Italian husband. When we were first married, the little island gal that I am, didn’t know one sauce from another. The first “Italian” meal I ever served him didn’t go so well, so ever since then I have strived to ensure that my Italian food was as close as possible to what DH would have eaten at his Mother’s table.

Over the years though, we have become more and more busy. You know when folks tell you that they’re busier now as a retiree than they ever were when they were working? IT’S TRUE!

So a few years back, our DF’s who live in Northern Arizona, suggested a jarred sauce that was very good. The last time that we went to visit with them, Missus DF and I went food shopping at the Trader Joe’s that had just opened not long before in their town, and we found this

Trader Joe's Sauce


I now keep a jar or two of this in my pantry at all times. It has saved my bacon on more than one occasion when I didn’t have enough time to plan out dinner. Boil up some pasta, heat the sauce and serve. Throw in any leftover bits you may have in the ‘fridge and its supper time.


*note: I do not work for, nor do I have any affiliation with Trader Joe’s in any way, I just LOVE  them!


Getting Ready For Summer

Oh my gravy all over my two scoops rice (that’s OMG!  in my world)… it dawns on me that I’ve neglected my blog, for shame. We have been so busy getting the house and everything ready for Summer. Once the Monsoons hit, man oh man, Katie bar the door! So DH and I have been on the go from the minute our feet hit the floor bright and early (the sun is up by 5 AM) until the day is done.

I’ve even had to resort to making cheat meals for supper.

Another Cheat Supper

Mostly, I’ve been making large entrée salads. This is the remnants of our excursion over to Whole Foods. At the bottom of the plate is Israeli Couscous, Chinese Chicken salad, multi-grain salad, Greek-inspired Couscous salad. There wasn’t much left, so I put together some greens with heirloom tomatoes, hot house cucumbers, radishes, Vidalia onions, sweet red bell peppers and especially for my husband, Anchovies from Italy.

Gotta’ scoot!  ALOHA!


Do You Even Use Your Kitchen?

We were invited to the home of a mutual friend; they had just completed a total re-do of their kitchen.  The Missus is showing me around.

It had:

Beautiful granite counter tops with full backsplash up to the cabinets

A huge center island done in old style butcher’s block (I wish I had)

SS prep sink with brushed SS facet, you know the really nice stuff on the TV commercial…all the bells and whistles

Solid Maple cabinets all the way up to the vaulted ceiling

Drop pendant lights over the breakfast bar/counter with leather bar stools…

Just a wonderland as far as I was concerned.  Spacious, but not cold and uninviting.  Anyway, she serves us Costco-pre-made-dishes (still in the tin foil pans) for a sit down dinner in their newly remodeled formal dining room… WHAT, WAIT!  Not to sound like a kitchen snob, but why would you have a kitchen to-die-for (I was drooling) and not cook?  And you spent all of that money, MAN OH MAN!

DH noticed as well, and you know guys, when you give them a beer… he asked the husband what’s up? The Missus doesn’t like to make mess, he said, never did, she DOESN’T COOK, EVER!!  Poor guy, they eat out or get microwave meals.

My husband has a new appreciation for his girl he said!!

Man, this gal’s OCD would have been over the Moon at our house the other night while I shallow fried chicken cutlettes, with the grease poppin’ and splattering all over…

My Kitchen In The Middle Of The Desert

My Kitchen In The Middle Of The Desert