Life in the Slow Lane

Image I'm feeling lighthearted today. Not only because it's a National Holiday and most folks aren't working, but because I got some much needed sleep last night. It's amazing how bright and sweet mornings are when you feel rested.

My Music Man and I have been hard at work these past couple of weeks. I'm not complaining, though. It's kind of like harvest-time when the vines are ripe. You have to work day and night to get your fruit off the vine in order to reap the bounty of your toil and get some value out of the blood, sweat, and tears that you put into your business and your life.

Today is all about the red, white, and blue. I'd like to share some yummie patriotic munchies to celebrate our country's birthday and hope that we have a few hundred more.


You can really enjoy watermelon even more on July 4th when it's cut like stars. Put these in a cold fridge for a day or so and serve really cold!


My personal favorite - this is like a little spark of fireworks in your mouth!


Be honest...doesn't this make you want to jump in and try a little taste?


And this little gem  is on my list of things to make out of our old barn wood....

Enjoy your freedom today. Remember we get to choose it every day.

The First Meatloaf I've Ever Made

Magic Meatloaf

Sometimes slow food is easy food...

I've never made meatloaf before. I know, that's amazing. My hubby recently disclosed that this was one of his favorite meals from childhood, "one of the few things" his mom cooked that he liked. Together, we experimented, uncovered several recipes and created this one. It was tender, juicy, held together nicely, and extremely tasty. It was easy, fun, and delicious. Now, I'm a huge fan!

This recipe can be adjusted by substituting canola oil for the butter, adding seasoned ground turkey instead of pork, adding celery, corn, or shredded carrots to the onion mixture (lightly cooking before adding to the 'loaf). Consistency and cooking time are the keys to success.

Late last night I caught him having a midnight snack, slicing off a bit of the 'loaf to nibble. Must've been a success!

Prep Time: 15 Min Cook Time: 1 Hr 10 Min Ready In: 1 Hr 25 Min Recipe Yield 12 servings


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian seasoned pork sausage
  • 3 slices wheat bread, toasted and crumbled
  • 7 buttery round crackers, crushed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Straus Plain Whole Milk yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce, divided in half ( you will use the other half at the end)
  • 3 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion and garlic 5 minutes, until onion is tender. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl, mix the onion and garlic, meat, crumbled bread, crushed crackers, eggs, yogurt, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 can tomato sauce. Gradually stir in the liquid ingredients until mixture is moist, but not soggy. Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan.

4. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C), and continue baking 15 minutes, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

5. In a small bowl, mix the remaining tomato sauce and ketchup. Brush over the top of the meatloaf to make a glaze, and continue baking an extra 10 minutes. Once removed from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes.

Burning Love

Wow, salsa, peppers and chicken all baked up together? This I had to try…as always, we mixed it up a bit and made it our own, but here it is, beware: it's spicy. 

I’m always looking for tasty ways to impress my family and friends. These days we're eating out less often, but don’t want to give up the communion that sharing meals with loved ones offers. Recently, I’ve discovered that focusing on simple dishes utilizing the oven instead of the stove top provides us with the most freedom to enjoy our guests. For a recipe to be considered Guest Worthy, it has to include the following components (besides being delicious):

  1. Prep happens before guests arrive, maximizing the “experience” by eliminating distractions.
  2. The Oven does all or most of the work (as opposed to managing the intricacies of the stove top.
  3. The dish is a balanced meal – include veggies and meat.
  4. Great for leftovers.

My Music Man and I made this together last night for some low-key entertaining with some close friends. After the first helping, he looked at me, smiled and nodded. No other words were necessary. This one made the cut. His only request was that next time we used thighs instead of breasts. We call this...


Prep Time:
  20 Min

Cook Time:  
45 Min

Ready In:
  1 Hr 5 Min

Recipe Yields 6 servings


  • 5-6 (about 4-5 lbs.) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 fresh Serrano peppers, minced
  • 1 fresh Jalapeno pepper, minced
  •  4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 large lime, squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained


In a large skillet, brown chicken in olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, sauté the onion, celery, peppers and garlic. Add mushrooms. Cook until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, water, rice, broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Pour into a large greased baking dish; add carrots, stir in lime juice, top with chicken.

Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender. Uncover; spoon salsa over chicken and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer  to melt the cheese. Garnish with olives.