My Daughter’s Magic Cake, Rose Petal Lasanga & Stuffed Spaghetti Meatball: Best Anniversary Gift Ever

Manic:  My daughter has become the manic managed daughter!

Managed:  She surprised us with a homemade mostly cooked-from-scratch his & hers dinner to wish hubs and me a very Happy 25th (yep, I said 25!) wedding anniversary!  Rose petal turkey lasagna for me, a giant spaghetti stuffed meatball for my hubs and the most magical and yummy chocolate cake that opens up to reveal an ice cream brownie (see the video of this below)!  In between her professional theatre shows with Hale Centre Theatre (she is getting paid…woo hoo) and her intense honors and AP high school classes, she doesn’t have any spare time at the moment.  But somehow, to our huge surprise, she managed to celebrate us with the best anniversary gift ever!  Here are the pics with links to the recipes and check out the video below to see how she made the magic cake open up to reveal more decadent dessert underneath!  So fun and yum! 

The magic cake….

So cool!  The recipe link to this magic cake, or as my girl told us, a choclate ball is here.  Try it!  It is a crowd pleaser and my daughter says it is easy, although I haven’t tried my own hand at this yet.

She also made scrumptious turkey lasanga rose petals for me and a spaghetti stuffed meatball for hubs…a manly meal!  Recipe links are below…

These were stuffed with turkey and cheese and were oh-so-good!  Try it!  Recipe is here from Tasty. 

Her Daddy loved the giant spaghetti stuffed meatball that also had cheese inside.  We also loved the candlelight and wedding picture she perfectly placed at our table for two. So sweet and hubs loved his meatball!  So good.  Try the recipe here, also from Tasty.

What a very special anniversary dinner and one I will never forget!  Back in 1993,  when I must have been imagining my future here, I could not have guessed that such sweet angel babies would be delivered to us.  I am humbled and thankful to have my girl and my boy.  And getting fed such an incredible dinner by our offspring was pretty magical!


Pumpkin Supreme & Leftover Turkey Pot Pie Recipes Featured In My 3TV Segment This Week

If you saw my Your Life Arizona morning show segments today, you may want the recipes I quickly showed for two perfect holiday eats. 

First up is the decadent and yummy Pumpkin Supreme recipe.  This decadent dessert is sweeter than pumpkin pie and tastes a bit like pumpkin cheesecake, but is even yummier in my opinion!  My sister-in-law shared this treat with me years ago as it has been passed down for generations from her Texas family.  You will love it and it is a crowd pleaser!  The recipe is here at this link.

And I showed a quick and easy cheat recipe idea for that leftover Thanksgiving Day turkey.  Only six ingredients & done in 30 minutes! 

Here is the recipe for this that is my family’s favorite!

Turkey Pot Pie Using Left Over Thanksgiving Turkey


What You Need:

1 can of cream of potato soup

1 can Veg All Veggies, drained

1 cup of leftover turkey (or more if you want more turkey in the pot pie)

3/4 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 frozen pie crusts

What You Do:


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


  1. Combine and mix all ingredients except pie crusts and keep the crusts frozen until you are ready to use.


  1. Next pour the mixture into one frozen pie crust.  It is very important that you keep your crusts frozen until you are ready to assemble the pot pie.


  1. To fake make (since this is not a homemade crust – no time for that!) that perfect top crust, simply pop the other frozen crust right out of the pan and place on top of the pot pie.  This is such a cool and easy trick!  If the crust is truly frozen, it should pop right out after you loosen the edges.


  1. Cut a slit in middle of the top crust for venting during baking and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.



Tasty & Light Savory Salmon & Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Clean eating has been our goal lately.  My daughter requests healthy homemade recipes as she works to keep herself in top shape to keep up with her community theatre audition schedule and high school honors class load. For myself, since I am just a few months away from my 50th birthday, I want to be as healthy as possible…and I am trying to cook that way for the hubs as well.  Our clean eating goals is not his favorite change around here since our son went away to college, but he grins and bears it, for the most part.  So when we find a recipe that meets all criteria that he also likes, I can’t wait to share my food find.  Today’s recipe is called Garlic Baked Salmon with Brussels sprouts.  I borrowed it, with permission, from my favorite online meal planning recipe guide, MealGarden.  This yummy recipe calls for some of my favorite ingredients like white wine and garlic.  And when it comes to Brussels Sprouts, when roasted with savory spices and pleasing olive oil, who can resist this healthy and tasty veggie that comes out of the oven a bit crisp?! Read on for this easy, delish and nutritious recipe that can be prepared from start to finish in a little over 30 minutes.  So good!

Garlic Baked Salmon with Brussels Sprouts

What You Need — Serves 3 

3 salmon filets – buy wild and select pieces close to the tail to avoid bones 

1/4 tsp pepper – grind it yourself for best results

3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

7 garlic cloves

1/3 medium lemon cut into wedges

1 tbsp fresh dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup white wine, preferable Chardonnay 

What You Do

  1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mince 2 garlic cloves and combine in a small bowl with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Halve the remaining garlic and toss with Brussels sprouts and 3 tablespoons of the seasoned oil on large roasting pan.
  4. Roast, stirring once, for 15 minutes.

    Looking tasty after 15 minutes of roasting

    Salmon hasn’t cooked yet and it already looks so good!


  5. Add wine to remaining oil mixture and when Brussels sprouts are done, stir and place salmon filets on top.
  6. Drizzle with wine mixture and sprinkle with more oregano, salt and pepper as desired.
  7. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes.

    Done and yum! I cut into the filet on the top left hand side to show that it is flaky and finished.

  8. Serve with lemon wedges.  So good!

Be sure to check out MealGarden for your healthy and tasty meal planning.  It has made our clean eating plan easier to follow with great recipes, grocery lists and more.  We love our MealGarden membership!

My Mama’s Healthy Homemade Vegetarian Spaghetti Recipe

My mother always spent countless hours in the kitchen cooking up healthy meals for us kids.  
I didn’t appreciate it then, but I do now!

And now more than ever, I am on a mission to keep my own daughter healthy as she balances her high school honors classes with her exciting community theater schedule. As the Queen of Hearts character in Valley Youth Theatre’s (VYT) Alice in Wonderland upcoming production, she has spent many hours rushing from school to downtown Phoenix for lengthy rehearsals.  VYT is a highly regarded professional children’s theatre with very impressive alums like Emma Stone.  So this is a big commitment that my girl was excited to make. She had rehearsal last Saturday from 10am to almost 10pm and again on Sunday.  We are now in tech week, so rehearsals go daily from 4:30pm to 10pm until opening night…happening this Friday.  Very exciting that the countdown to opening night is now on…and especially now, keeping her in top form is a top priority.

So, in the meantime, it has been my job to do the best I can to keep her healthy.  Some of my motherly deeds include a gentle nightly push to go to bed earlier than usual.  I also prepare as many nutritious home cooked meals as I can muster.  We are both working to keep her immune system strong and healthy.  She has also done her part and made good decisions like choosing to stay in a couple of Friday nights (her night off from her weekly rehearsals) to rest over going out with pals.  Next month, after having performed in over 20 shows, it will be over and will then be a cherished memory, so she can return to her Friday nights out.  However, we both hope to keep eating clean beyond the demanding show schedule.  My mother’s recipe accomplishes this clean eating goal. One surprise ingredient that makes Mom’s spaghetti sauce taste so good is the inclusion of cooked carrots. Carrots give the sauce a hearty, almost meaty consistency and taste. Give this recipe a try.  So good!


What You Need:

4 to 6 carrots, cooked…I boiled in water until tender

2 green or red bell peppers

1 large tomato

1 yellow onion

1 red onion

3 cloves fresh garlic

2 to 3 stalks of celery

2 jars Trader Giotto’s (from Trader Joe’s) Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon basil

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of agave nectar (optional for sweeter sauce)

Parmesan cheese to taste

healthy whole grain spaghetti pasta

What You Do:

One of my Mom’s secrets is to cook the carrots first. Cooked carrots in the sauce give it a meaty taste.

1.  First saute the peppers and celery in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes or until they turn soft, being careful not to overcook.

2.  Then add all of other chopped up veggies (except the carrots) and saute until soft.

3.  Add chopped up tomatoes, bay leaf, cooked chopped carrots and the 2 jars of sauce and simmer for about 30 minutes.

4.  During the last ten minutes of simmering, add the basil and the oregano.  If you like a sweeter sauce, you can add the agave nectar.

5.  Pour over the cooked spaghetti and add grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!  This is one spaghetti dish that is super tasty and super healthy to boot!  Just look at all of the veggies that your family gets in each serving!  Thanks Mom!

Soup Season! Pleasing Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Lucky for me, it is soup season to nurture us during winter’s chilly temps.  And this is lucky for me since I have to eat soft foods as I recover from my gum surgery.  So I asked a few pals for their soup recipes.  I plan to share several here on my blog, starting with Sherry’s Soup:  Potato Leek Soup.  Thanks for the yummy recipe, Sherry.  Here is how you make it…

4 leeks, trimmed of tough tops, leave 3-4 inches of green on white of leek.
2 T. olive oil
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1/3 lb. bacon, sliced and cooked crisp (keep grease and set aside bacon for garnish)
1 T. tarragon, fresh, leaves stripped from stems and chopped slightly, for garnish
2 TBS chives, fresh, chopped, for garnish

Optional add-ins:

Corn as much as you would like to add to soup

Half & Half cream

Sour cream for dollop serving per soup bowl

What You Do:

1. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Place leeks in colander. Separate sliced leeks under cold running water and clean them. Drain well.

2. Heat medium soup pot over med high heat. I used my dutch oven because I am big fan of cooking homemade soup in it.  So good.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil (or try Sherry’s trick and use the bacon grease from the bacon cooked instead of the olive oil to saute the leeks and potatoes), bay leaf and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Peel potatoes and thinly slice them, adding them to soup pot as you go. Season potatoes with a little salt, add chicken stock to soup pot. Cover soup and bring to boil. Uncover and simmer 12-15 minutes, until potatoes are very tender. Break up potatoes to slightly thicken soup Remove bay leaf.

3. Serve with bacon, tarragon and chive garnishes. 

4. Sherry adds about 1/2 cup of fresh corn before simmering and about 1/4 cup cream at the end for a richer tasty soup. Along with the garnishes mentioned, she also adds a dollop of sour cream before sprinkling on the rest.  I was out of sour cream, so I missed that in my pictures of the finished soup. Next time for sure!

Finished soup without adding cream if you want more of a broth base.  But I like cream, so I added cream for my daughter’s serving later when she came home from school….

Here it is with the cream and the full fixin’s.  A perfect homemade after school dish for my daughter before she went off to her rehearsal. Good grub for our busy days.

Thank you Sherry Kline for your perfect and lovely potato and leek soup recipe!  Give it a try folks and stay warm and well through the winter months.



My 3TV Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

What fun we had on the morning show I work on, KTVK’s Your Life A to Z show on 3TV because we impersonated (or we sort of impersonated, I should say) a group of celebrity chefs complete with yummy recipes, too!

Our morning show cast of characters and the chefs we portrayed!

Our morning show cast of characters and the chefs we portrayed!

Can you guess who I was asked to portray?  I will give you a hint with this picture of me on set in my costume…rr-costume

Yep, another Rachel!  I mean Rachael, as in Rachael Ray!  I had a blast being Ms Ray!  And if you want the yummy, easy 30 minute (Rachael’s 30 minute style) recipe that I showed from my own kitchen, here it is.  This is my family’s favorite recipe ever.
cp-pieA few years ago I worked with awesome Shamrock Farms and we taped several cooking segments in my kitchen.  Here is that video with this same recipe, so you can see it step by step. The written recipe appears below the video.  That can be printed out from this page.  Try it and enjoy!


What You Need:

 1 can of cream of potato soup

1 can Veg All Veggies, drained

1 package Tyson Grilled & Ready Southwestern Chicken Strips

3/4 cup mik

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 frozen pie crusts

What You Do:


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Combine and mix all ingredients except pie crusts and keep the crusts frozen until you are ready to use.

Note:  I cut my chicken strips into bite sized pieces.  You can also use a cooked Rotisserie one from the grocery store.  Tyson’s Southwestern Chicken Strips are what give my pot pie that little kick of spice that I’m told folks love.  Even my kids like that bit of spice in every bite.

3.  Next pour the mixture into one frozen pie crust.  It is very important that you keep your crusts frozen until you are ready to assemble the pot pie.

4.  To fake make (since this is not a homemade crust – no time for that!) that perfect top crust, simply pop the other frozen crust right out of the pan and place on top of the pot pie.  This is such a cool and easy trick!  If the crust is truly frozen, it should pop right out after you loosen the edges.

5.  Cut a slit in middle of the top crust for venting during baking and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Simple & Scrumptious Lasagna Recipe

With the Bachelorette finale two days ago, I knew I had to make something good for my neighborhood gal pals that were coming over for our Monday night guilty pleasure TV viewing.  So I went through my blog and remembered this gem of a rich recipe that makes a very tasty lasagna.  This is a recipe that my friend, Jodie gave me that calls for vodka sauce and wine in the dish.  No wonder this is my fave lasagna dish!  Not to mention that the noodles are no boil.  So if you missed this the first time I ran it, here it is again.  Yum!


Luscious Lasagna Recipe

What You Need:

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (substitute thinly sliced zucchini for the vegetarian version)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 jar of your favorite tomato pasta sauce ( I used my hubby’s #1 favorite, Paul Newman’s Sockorooni)

1 jar of Alfredo sauce

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

1 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)

1 block whole milk mozzarella cheese (I grated it for ultimate freshness)

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (I also grated this)

Ricotta or cottage cheese for top (optional – I used ricotta cheese and it was yummy)

1 package oven bake no boil lasagna noodles


What You Do:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Spray oblong pan, preferably glass, with nonstick cooking spray (I used my olive oil cooking spray)

3.  In one pan, pour both sauces, add herbs and 1/2 cup of the wine.

This is the picture from when I made it last year. This time around I grated the cheese myself so ignore the packaged grated cheese in the background.

4.  Stir, put a lid on the pot and place on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once the sauce heats through, remove the lid and turn burner to low.

This is what the sauce looks like with the wine and herbs mixed in. Yum!

5.  Saute the sausage in the olive oil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  The recipe recommends using a cast iron skillet for a really good flavor.  I agree.  As the meat browns, break it into tiny bits. 

6.  Add 1/2 cup of wine to deglaze the pan.  Turn to medium low heat and let the wine cook off.  Drain on paper towels.

7.  Grease the bottom of the pan with a little spray olive oil and a little sauce.  Layer noodles in the bottom of the pan.  Add 1/3 of the sauce.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the meat evenly.  Add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese to cover the meat.  Then sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  This is your first yummy layer.

8.  For second layer, simply repeat the first layer.

9.  To make third layer, apply noodles, the rest of the mozzarella cheese, the rest of the sauce and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  End by spooning dollops of ricotta or cottage cheese on top.  Cover with foil.

Ready to go in the oven.

10.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes.  I baked mine for 35 minutes and it came out perfect.  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.  Serve and enjoy.  My husband and our company all loved it!

Oops! We were so excited to try this that we forgot to take the picture before we cut a piece out! Oh well, this is a real-life recipe and website, after all!

Although I listed 10 steps, it is actually really easy to prepare.  I loved the sweetness of the sausage, the creamy ricotta dollops and the white wine infusion.  So yummy!

And it reheated perfectly the next day, as shown in my yummy lunch piece here.

Thanks again to our reader, Jodie for sending this one in.  If you have a somewhat easy, and very yummy recipe that you want to share, send one in to us.  I was thrilled to receive, prepare and then taste this recipe, which she calls Sweet Italian Lasagna.  However, after tasting it, I had to rename it Scrumptious Lasagna because it is so delicious 🙂

Found! Yummy Spicy Quick & Easy Lentil Side Dish

Manic:  Finding a zesty side dish that isn’t the same ol’ thing like potatoes or broccoli again that my family will eat…and like!  This could also easily be a main dish as well.

Managed:  Stopped at the tasting sample section at my local Trader Joe’s and found a surprising combination that is simple to make and tasty, too.  Plus my picky family liked it!  Lentils anyone?  This combination of lentils with Trader Joe’s Chimichurri Rice with Vegetables is terrific! lentil side dish

Simply follow the instructions on the package of the Chimichurri Rice which is to saute it with a little olive oil and water until cooked.

Note to self: next time take the picture before ripping it open!

Note to self: next time take the picture before ripping it open!

While the Chimichurri rice is cooking, make the Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils which are simply added to boiling water and cooked for 5 minutes.  lentilThen strain the lentils and add to the rice mix.  Super easy and super delish!  It can also be topped with a little cilantro, which I think would be tasty.  I didn’t have any on hand so I am going to try that next time.

Lentils contain fiber and iron and the Chimichurri rice has veggies that include peas, onion, shallots and garlic.  Plus yummy ginger and cilantro are also included along with the basmati rice…I don’t eat a lot of rice, so this part of the dish was a treat, but this side dish was mostly healthy in my opinion.

I love that the store has a tasting section…and it worked because I bought these two frozen foods!  Then I came home and cooked it for my 18-year-old son and for myself.  We both gave it a thumbs up!


My Picky Family’s Favorite Recipes from Celebrity Chefs

First of all welcome to my many new subscribers!  I am so excited that the New Year has brought so many new readers to this humble little blog of mine that I love keeping up with every day.  It is all about tips and recipes to make our manic lives a little more managed…and healthier.  And boy do I love to eat so….letseat_fi

One of my favorite things about working on a local morning show is that I get a front row seat when some of the most talented local celebrity chefs prepare meals on set.  Meeting highly esteemed Valley chefs like Chef Mark Tarbell and Chef Chuck Wiley with Cafe ZuZu at The Hotel Valley Ho has been a highlight of my years with KTVK Channel 3.  Working on the Your Life A to Z morning show since 2003 and Good Morning Arizona before that has given me the opportunity to learn how to cook healthier and tasty meals.  So I was thrilled when several years ago I asked both Chef Mark and Chef Chuck for permission to run my two favorite recipes from their appearances and they said yes!  My picky family loves both of these recipes and they are easy to make.  So I am excited to share with you how to make Chef Wiley’s Lemon Chicken Orzo Pasta (that is loaded with veggies and believe it or not, my kids beg me to make this!).  And right below that one is Chef Tarbells’ scrumptious recipe for Campenelle Pasta, Chicken Sausage, Organic Tomatoes & Peas Recipe.

Both adults and kids love these two amazing pasta recipes.  Click on the recipe links below to go the recipes. Bon Appétit!

Kid Friendly Veggie Pasta That Adults Love, Too

(Amazing recipe from Chef Chuck Wiley of the Hotel Valley Ho’s Cafe ZuZu)

orzoYou have got to try this recipe that is packed with yummy orzo pasta, fresh zuccinni, squash, asparagus, chicken and more.

Campenelle Pasta, Chicken Sausage, Organic Tomatoes & Peas Recipe

(Scrumptious recipe by Chef Mark Tarbell of Tarbell’s)


This yummy recipe features the family friendly campenelle pasta and delicious chicken sausage making every creamy bite satisfying and perfectly filling.

We hope you enjoying making and eating these two incredible recipes and I thank Chef Mark and Chef Chuck so much for allowing me to share these two terrific pasta dishes on We look forward to bringing you many more family friendly recipes this year.  If you have a family favorite that we can share, we always welcome recipe ideas.  Simply email to [email protected]

Happy New Year!  No go eat something good!

Festive Fun Holiday Recipes With Shamrock Farms Foods

Eggnog peppermint cheesecake anyone?  cheesecake picHow about an eggnog latte with extract made of rum?  Yum! And here is a fun and tasty idea…peppermint eggnog punch for kids of all ages!  It is all here plus I also share a quick tip that will spice up your mashed potatoes that is super simple. Plus sour cream banana bread and more!  With Shamrock Farms fresh dairy foods, the possibilities and recipes are endless! Check out the morning segment I did on the ABC 15’s Sonoran Living morning show this morning for ideas for all of your holiday entertaining.  Also a big thank you to professional makeup artist Karen Hall for meeting me at the studio to work her magic on me!  And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!


I am proud to work with Shamrock Farms who sponsored this segment.