shrimp fajitas

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about simple cooking in the summer!  There are so many other fun things to be doing in the summer than cooking, and besides who wants to heat up the kitchen when it’s already hot outside.

That’s why I love this recipe for shrimp fajitas that I’m sharing today…it’s quick, simple, and it only involves one baking sheet.

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

And did I mention how delicious these are?  Add some warmed-up tortillas and some chips and queso dip, and you have dinner covered.  And the best part is that these fajitas only take about 20 minutes to prepare and cook!  How’s that for a simple dinner…

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

Start by chopping the peppers and onion, and then combine them with the shrimp and seasonings in a large bowl.  Mix it all thoroughly and spread it on a baking sheet.

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

Then roast the mixture in the oven at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes.  Turn the broiler on and cook another 2 minutes.  While it’s cooking, warm the tortillas so they are ready to serve.

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

shrimp fajitas | polka dots and picket fences

Squeeze some lime juice on it when it comes out of the oven, and sprinkle a little cilantro on top.

Okay…so are you heading to the market to buy the ingredients for this yet?


shrimp fajitas


  • 1 1/2 lbs. shrimp (peeled, deveined, tail off)
  • 1 yellow pepper (sliced thin)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced thin)
  • 1 orange pepper (sliced thin)
  • 1 red onion (sliced thin)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • lime
  • cilantro
  • tortillas


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  2. Combine the peppers, onion, shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper, and spices in a large bowl.

  3. Mix thoroughly.

  4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

  5. Spread shrimp, peppers, and onions on the baking sheet.

  6. Cook at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes.  Turn the oven to broil and cook for another 2 minutes.

  7. Squeeze lime juice over the mixture after removing from the oven.  Sprinkle fresh cilantro on top.

  8. Serve with the warm tortillas.


quick bread week…apple cinnamon bread

Hi everyone…hope your week is off to a good start!  Mondays can be tough but with it being MLK Day, you may be extending your “weekend” an extra day with no work or school.

I’ve been a bit “absent” from the blog.  Two reasons…1) I was asked to help with the props for my youngest daughter’s school musical later this month and I’ve been somewhat busier than normal working on those AND 2) I was receiving “technical assistance” with making an addition to my site.  While that was being done, it was best not to write any new posts.  So with some help, I’ve added a RECIPE MAKER…this template will allow readers to better view a recipe that I’m sharing.  And the best part…you can print the recipe.  Yay!  Yes, I get excited over the little things!

Of course, I’ll be sharing a recipe today.  In fact, I’ll be sharing some all this week…QUICK BREAD WEEK!  Today’s quick bread recipe is for apple cinnamon bread.  It is so moist and chocked full of apples and lots of flavor!

This recipe calls for two sets of ingredients…dry and wet.  You mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, all spice, and cloves first.

Then, the eggs are beaten…and you add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and sugar together.

The flour mixture is added and combined with the egg mixture.  And then you add the most important ingredient…the APPLES.  You can’t have apple cinnamon bread without the chunks of apples.  I prefer to use Granny Smith for this recipe.

Now I know I just said the apples were the most important part, but this topping of brown sugar, cinnamon, and sugar is pretty good too!  It gives the bread a crunchy sweetness on top.  So yummy!

This is a quick bread that does not last long in my house!  The minute it comes out of the oven, my daughters are asking to eat it.

Now for that recipe maker I mentioned earlier…isn’t it great to have it in this format and be able to print it if necessary!  Hope you like this feature as much as I do!

Be sure to check back throughout the week for more QUICK BREAD recipes!


Apple Cinnamon Quick Bread


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups chopped apples (skin removed)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, all spice, and cloves.  Set aside.

  3. Beat the eggs on medium speed for about 30 seconds.  Add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Then, add the sugar and combine well.

  4. Slowly add the flour mixture until barely combined.  Fold in the apple chunks. 

  5. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

  6. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and sugar.  Sprinkle it over the batter in the pan.

  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the broad is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then loosen sides and remove from pan.


twice baked potato casserole

We are heading into those long, cold months when comfort food sounds AND tastes so good!  You know what I mean…something warm and delicious that just makes you feel better.  Well, this recipe for Twice Baked Potato Casserole is definitely comfort food!



  • 8 medium potatoes
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1 lb. sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 green onions, sliced



Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and dry the potatoes.

Then rub the potatoes with olive oil and a mixture of sea salt and pepper, and place  on a baking sheet.





Bake for one hour or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Let cool for 20 minutes.

Once cool, cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large bowl.




Stir in the mayonnaise and sour cream.


Set aside 1/3 cup of the cheese, 3 tablespoons of bacon, and 2 tablespoons of sliced green onions for the top of the casserole.  Then stir in the remaining ingredients.



Pour it into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Top with the reserved cheese and bacon.


Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, removing the foil for the last 10 minutes.

Top with the remaining green onions and serve.



I think this could be served with a tossed salad…or for a heartier meal, pair it with a protein like pork tenderloin.

Either way, you will find comfort in the melted cheese and the crispy potato skins.

Remember it’s COMFORT FOOD!

apple brie salad

Apples are abundant this time of the year, and there are so many ways to enjoy them…apple pie, apple crisp, baked apples, applesauce…to name just a few.

Another great way to add some apples to your meal is this apple Brie salad recipe.  This salad is perfect for fall weather!  It combines the crispness of apples, the crunch of pecans, and the creaminess of Brie cheese with some healthy greens.



Salad Ingredients

  • 10-12 oz. of mixed greens
  • 8 oz. Brie cheese (cut into one inch pieces)
  • 1-2 large apples (cut into one inch pieces)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 green onions (chopped)


Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger




Add the salad ingredients to a large serving bowl.


Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously.  Drizzle over the salad and toss to throughly combine all ingredients.



Looks yummy, right?  It is one of my favorite salads…so pretty and colorful, and it is quite delicious!



pesto tortellini with sugar snap peas

This recipe has become my “go-to” this summer!

Three reasons…

  1. It is super quick and easy to throw together after a busy day.
  2. It is healthy.
  3. It has a great flavor, so everyone at my house eats it…those moms with more than one child know that’s a good thing when you can please most everyone!


When I say it is quick, it takes about 15 minutes to put this together…it actually takes longer to shop for the ingredients!


  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb. fresh cheese tortellini
  • 12 oz.sugar snap peas
  • 4 Tbsp basil pesto
  • zest of one lemon
  • shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving




Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot.  Add the tortellini and reduce the heat to a simmer, allowing the tortellini to simmer until barely tender (approximately 5 minutes).


Add the sugar snap peas, and simmer until the tortellini and peas are tender (approximately 2 minutes).


Remove from the heat, and stir in the pesto and lemon zest.



Serve with the Parmesan cheese as garnish on top.


So simple, and another thing I like about this recipe is that it’s good any time of the year.  It’s really light in the summer, and the warm broth is perfect for winter!


What are you waiting on?  Get to the market to buy those ingredients and add it to your meal rotation…you won’t regret it!




cherry chocolate chip blondies

After picking over 40 pounds of cherries in northern Michigan a few weeks ago, we have been baking and baking at our house!  Of course, I did freeze a lot of them to use at a later time…too bad they spoil so quickly.

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite cherry recipes…

Cherry Chocolate Chip Blondies


These blondies are super moist and flavorful, and they have chocolate in them…what could be better?!?  One more thing…they are so easy to make!


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter ( 1 stick)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cherries (fresh or frozen)…mine had been in the freezer and then thawed




Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl.


Add the brown sugar to the butter.  Stir to combine.


Add the egg and vanilla, and stir together.


Stir in the flour until just combined.


Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and cherries.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth it with a spatula.


Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges slightly pull away from the pan and the center is set.

Allow to cool for one hour before cutting…if you can.  These blondies are so tempting, you may not be able to help yourself!




They look so pretty when serving them, also.  I love the pop of red from the chunks of cherries!  And the mixture of tart cherries and sweet chocolate is delicious.  Enjoy!




watermelon lemonade

We are still enjoying summer at our house!  Although, I’m not sure how enjoyable the weather has been lately…hot, humid, sticky.  Cooling off with an iced beverage is the perfect refreshment on days like that.  Who wouldn’t enjoy some homemade watermelon lemonade?!?

This simple recipe is so delicious and beautiful, in presentation!


Watermelon Lemonade


  • 6 cups seedless watermelon, chilled
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 3/4 cup fresh strained lemon juice, chilled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • fresh mint
  • ice



First, squeeze the lemons ahead to allow time to chill.  I find it helpful to use a strainer or grater over the measuring cup in order to keep the seeds out of the juice.



Next, cut the watermelon into cubes.



Add the watermelon to the blender and pulse until pureed.  This should yield about 4 cups.


Then, pour that through a mesh strainer into a bowl.



Whisk together the water, lemon juice, and sugar in a large pitcher until the sugar dissolves.


Stir in the pureed and strained watermelon.  Serve over ice with fresh mint leaves, and garnish the glass with a slice of watermelon.




So refreshing on these hot summer days…hope you are staying cool!




strawberry soup

Hi everyone…I’m back!  It’s been a flurry of activity around here for the past month…end of senior year festivities followed by graduation and all the celebrations.  Whew!  It was exhausting, and I have sooo much to share.

All in due time, though…

Yesterday marked the first day of summer, and one of my favorite summertime activities is strawberry picking with my daughters.  We picked over 25 pounds of strawberries last week!  You know what that means…baking time!


While I enjoy baking breads and pies, this recipe for strawberry soup is a bit different.  A friend of mine served it at a dinner party several years ago, and she was kind enough to share the recipe with me.



  • 4 cups fresh strawberries (sliced)
  • 1/3 cup ginger ale
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream




Place the strawberries in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.



Add the ginger ale, sugar, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Blend all ingredients together.






Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and whisk in the sour cream until smooth.



Cover and chill for 2 hours before serving.  Add a few sliced strawberries for garnish!


Simple enough, right?

It is so tasty and refreshing on a hot summer day…and I think we have more of those ahead of us!

Happy summer!




mexican quinoa

Who’s planning Mexican for dinner on Thursday…it’s Cinco de Mayo, after all!?!

This recipe combines spicy flavors with quinoa, the ever-so-popular grain that is rich in protein and fiber.  So that makes it flavorful AND healthy!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 jalapeno (chopped)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)



Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and jalapeño, and cook about one minute.


Stir in the quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, and cumin.


Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer until the quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes.



Uncover and add the lime juice and cilantro.




Aside from the taste, the other great thing about this recipe is that it takes no time at all to make AND you only need one dish to cook it!  How simple is that…


So pour yourself a margarita and enjoy this Mexican quinoa dish in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, even if it isn’t your family’s heritage!


brown rice with black beans

Cinco de Mayo is next week…May 5th!  While I don’t do much to celebrate (except maybe enjoy some chips and salsa with a margarita or two), I think this recipe would be a good side dish for all those Mexican meals.

Unlike a lot of Mexican food, this rice dish is fairly healthy.  It is made with brown rice, veggies, and beans for some added protein.




  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 30 oz. black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup corn (frozen and thawed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan.  Stir occasionally, until the onion and pepper are browned and tender (about 10-15 minutes).


Stir in the garlic and cook about another minute.


Add the chicken broth and water to the pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil.


Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the rice and salt.  Cover the pot with a lid.


Place in the oven and bake until the rice is tender (about one hour).

When done baking, remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid.


Fluff the rice with a fork.  Add the beans and corn, and stir.  Cover with the lid for an additional 5 minutes.


Mix in the cilantro and pepper, and serve!



This makes a great side dish for tacos and quesadillas, and you don’t have to feel guilty indulging in this healthy side dish!  So go ahead and enjoy an extra margarita next week!