Maui Dirty Shirley

I can’t remember when, but my friend Kimikins introduced me to the Dirty Shirley. I was in one of my usual “I have no clue what I want to drink but it needs to taste amazing” mood. A Dirty Shirley is essentially a vodka, lemon-lime soda, and some grenadine. It’s different, it’s refreshing, and it’s garnished with a cherry. If you drink too much and end up throwing up, lemon-lime soda is what you want to be throwing up. Tastes just as refreshing going down as it does coming up. So for those crazy let’s get totally blitzed out of our skull nights, a Dirty Shirley comes in handy.

Flash forward a couple of years.

I’m on my honeymoon/I finally have a master’s degree yay trip when Bryan and I stumble across a karaoke bar. Bryan always has a whiskey and coke but when the bartender asked me what I want, I replied “Surprise me.” Skyy Vodka had just debuted their pineapple infused vodka so she made me essentially a Maui Dirty Shirley. The hilarity of this is my mother inlaw’s name happens to be Shirley and when I’m in a playful mood I tend to order them.

“Hey! That’s my mom you’re talking about!” is usually Bryan’s joke whenever I order them.

This version is a twist on the version I had in Maui. Instead of using grenadine, I cut out the middle man and get cherry 7UP.


Maui Dirty Shirley

2 oz Pineapple Vodka
10 oz Cherry 7UP

Garnish with a cherry and a pineapple chunk.


Fill a pint glass with ice.

Pour the vodka into the glass and then the cherry 7UP. Stir.

Add garnish.

Makes 1.

This is no where near diabetic friendly. Just like mixed juice drinks, mix drinks using soda is just as bad. The calories aren’t too high, but the sugar count is insane. Imagine drinking 5 of those throughout one night.

This is why I stay away from fruity drinks and mixed soda drinks. Sometimes your best bet is light beer or wine. But if you are going to delve into the mixed drink realm of drinking make sure it’s a clear alcohol and a clear soda.

If you want something with flavor because a vodka and tonic sucks, this is where a Maui Dirty Shirley comes to save the day. Just stay away from the whiskey and cokes or the Cuba Libres.



I still remember the day I learned how to cook spaghetti. Mumika didn’t feel like cooking that day and I had my heart set of spaghetti. I must have been around 13 at the time.

“Why don’t you make it?” She said while laying down on the couch watching TV. This had become her daily come home from work ritual. Mumika will claim this was not part of her routine until around 2000, but she was doing the whole lay down on the couch long before loser ex-boyfriend #3 came along.
“I don’t know how.” I replied.
“Well I’ll tell you what to put in it and then you’ll know how to make it.”

She told me what I had to put in it and 30 minutes later I set a plate on the living room table. Even thought we had a kitchen table, as the years went by, we hardly used it for eating. The kitchen table was more my homework/study table. The dining room table became Mumika’s studying table when she went back to school and then it was primarily our fancy dinner/ holiday table or the puzzle table. The kitchen table didn’t become a primary eating table until I moved out.

“Oh my god! This is better than my spaghetti!” She exclaimed, “What did you do differently?”
“Nothing. I made it the way you told me to.”

I think that’s when we realized I was a natural.

Over the years, I’ve changed this basic recipe based on how I feel when I decide to make it. Some days I take the bell peppers out and use mushrooms or I’ll load it with every vegetable I can get my hands on. At one time, Mumika caught me putting chocolate chips in it and yelled at me for adding junk to it (chocolate intensifies the tomato flavor) One thing I do know is, it’s pretty phenomenal and even the pickiest eater will happily ask for seconds.

The one thing I have changed and will not compromise on is the use of tomatoes and cilantro. They have to be in it. It tastes more Italian that way.


1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoon cilantro, torn to pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound spaghetti
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 sazon packet
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (optional)


Cook pasta as instructed on package. Drain and set aside when cooked.

In a large skillet cook ground beef. Add the packet of sazon while browning.

After ground beef is cooked, add onions, bell peppers, cilantro, garlic, Italian seasonings and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add spaghetti and toss until well combined.

Makes 8.

This is one of those fool proof recipes. You cannot fuck it up. And it will taste perfect every time. Bryan absolutely loves it and usually is the one to request it.

Add garlic bread and parmesan on top of the spaghetti, and it’s the perfect Italian dinner.

It’s better than Fazoli’s and Olive Garden. In fact, if my spaghetti is better than an Italian restaurant’s spaghetti than chances are I will never dine there again.

I once had a roommate that would not touch any food with red bell pepper in it. I told her to try my spaghetti, if she didn’t like it she could walk away and I wouldn’t get hurt. 10 minutes later she looks at me, “Is it okay if I have more?” That’s when I knew my spaghetti was amazing. So as I stated before, even the pickiest “ewww, I don’t like that” eaters will love this spaghetti.

If you want to kick it up a notch, sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese on top before serving.


Garlic and Herb Shake and Bake Pork Chops

I didn’t make Bryan’s dinner request at all. Not this weekend. Not even the mashed potatoes. He did get peas though.

Finally, the Monday after the text, he asks me when I’m going to make his pork chops.

“I’ve been waiting all week for these pork chops.”

Ok, um…you text me Friday and today is Monday. Last time I checked, a week is seven days not 4 days.

I am, however happy that I finally made it for him. And it came out quite tasty, much to my surprise.

Garlic and Herb shake and bake hubby tested and approved.

He did, however, have one minor complaint. Too much herbs. Then the one complaint became a complaint and an idea for improvement. Next time I should sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top of the pork chop after it’s been breaded.

Funny story about that. I was actually going to do that but he had decided to eat the grated parmesan cheese by itself in handfuls, so we were out. I was actually horrified when I saw him do it. Shake the parm cheese from the canister into his cupped hand and lick the parm out of his hand. What are we country folk? It’s like catching his mom lick soy milk that had spilled onto the table off the table. Wht is up with this family? Get some etiquette or something. Geebus.


Garlic and Herb Shake and Bake Pork Chops

1.5 cups of garlic and herb shake and bake
4 boneless pork chops


Pour the shake and bake into a quart sized plastic bag.

Put one pork chop into the bag, seal the bag, and shake until the breading mix covers the pork chops.

Put the pork chop on a baking sheet lined with foil and the foil is sprayed with cooking spray.

Repeat 3 more times. (If you need more shake and bake mixture just add more into the bag)

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Makes 4.

The pork chops won’t have that golden brown look to it because there isn’t any oil in the shake and bake mixture so keep that in mind when you take it out.

I personally liked the extra herby taste. I felt that it offset the garlic perfectly. And I loved the use of panko instead of bread crumbs and flour.

But, unfortunately, the hubby was right, sprinkling some parmesan cheese on top of the pork chops before they get baked would have taken the flavor to the next level.

At least now I won’t have to go but shake and bake mix whenever Bryan is in a southern comfort food mood.

Homemade Shake and Bake

Bryan texted me last Friday that he wanted pork chops for dinner over the weekend. There are days where I get what I consider requests for dinner but in reality I have to make it that day or he will whine about it until I make it.

“Do you want me to make the Dijon parmesan pork chops that I made in the apartment?”
“No. I want shake and bake.”
“Ok, well I have panko here, I’m sure I can make a homemade version.”
“It has to be garlic and herb. And peas with mashed potatoes.”
“I’ll look up recipe for it.”

He’s so demanding sometimes, I swear.

I go to HEB and Walmart in town and guess what?!?! There is no such thing as garlic and herb shake and bake. The man attempted to put me in a wild goose chase looking for something that doesn’t exist. Thank god I decided to make my own. I already had the panko and most of the other ingredients and I could get other oregano and parsley for super cheap at Walmart.

Homemade Shake and Bake

3 cups panko
1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
3 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon basil flakes
1 teaspoon oregano


In a large gallon bag, mix the ingredients up.

Store in sealed plastic bag for up to 2 months.

Makes 3 portions.

I feel like this mix would work great with chicken or pork. And I also feel like this is better for you than the shake and bake products that are out there. All the ingredients are pure. There are no added preservatives to it. No words that I can’t pronounce. None of that.

After a little bit of research there is a garlic and herb shake and bake, I just can’t find it in the region I live in. Here are the ingredients: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Wheat Flour, Garlic (Dried), Salt, Onions (Dried), Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Spices, Maltodextrin, Contains Less than 2% of Caramel Color, Corn Syrup (Dried), Natural Flavor, Dextrose, Yeast, Parsley (Dried), Paprika, Lemon Juice (Dried).

Dried corn syrup? What the fuck is that? Dried lemon juice? I think crystalized lemon juice would have sounded better. In addition to this abomination in dried form, there’s sugar.

I’m so happy I made my own.

Breakfast for dinner

I’ll be honest, I was lazy today.

I didn’t feel like bending over washing dishes in the birdbath today. Especially when one of those dishes is a frying pan and a stock pot. I’m not always this way, but some weekends, I just can bring myself to do it. Well, that and I’ve pretty much dirtied every pot, pan and baking dish I own. The lack of kitchen sink doesn’t help nor does the idea of hauling all those dirty dishes to the inlaws to clean. And then you have the fact that the hubby doesn’t help with anything kitchen related. Add it all together and it’s literally a formula for frustration and in some cases lividness.

Bryan really doesn’t help me with anything in the house. He doesn’t throw the trash away. He doesn’t put a new bad in the bin. He doesn’t clean. He doesn’t cook. He doesn’t go grocery shopping. He doesn’t wash dishes. He doesn’t prep for dinner. He doesn’t even get himself a plate of food and once in a rare blue moon he’ll get his own drink.

As school approaches, I already know there will be lots of fighting. A) The house isn’t even close to being done, B) I won’t have time to do everything, C) I don’t have a kitchen sink, D) I don’t have cabinets or cabinet tops….etc….

I would love to think he will step up, but he won’t. I mean he doesn’t help me now and I don’t know if it’s because for some odd reason he feels he doesn’t need to because I hardly work. His dad works while his mom is a stay at home wife. The only problem with this upbringing is, I’m not a stay at home wife. The spa I work at just opened like 3 weeks ago so there isn’t a constant clientele yet. What will happen when I work, do 12 hour coursework and have an internship?

So today, in my laziness, I only wanted to dirty one dish.

Breakfast for dinner it is.

I don’t know why we, as humans, don’t eat like this in the evening hours. I understand morning hours, the two protein one carb approach works to give you the fuel needed to get through your day. However people are eating oatmeal with fruit and calling it a meal. So why can’t we do two power meals. One to get us through the day and the other to get us past our snack cravings in the evening? Think about it. I would stop compulsive eating, or even over eating. It would reduce that 8PM hunger everyone gets. Obesity could go down because of it.

Oh wait. I know why. Two protein breakfast meals is usually a fried egg with a fatty meat and toast. It’s the fatty meat that will cause our arteries to collapse resulting in heart failure. But honestly, how is that different from what we are doing to our bodies now?

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

And don’t even talk to me about eating the right kind of snacks because no one in the world is going to pick an apple over cake, brownies, pie, or ice cream. Hell people will make a peach crumb bar and claim it’s a healthy snack.

I had a very country breakfast today.

Two strips of bacon
1 slice of butter grilled toast
1 fried egg

Besides, when most people do breakfast for dinner it’s usually a pork chop with eggs and hash browns. Or pancakes, or waffles. I think people are naturally carb loving and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Hence why there aren’t two power meals during the day.

Peach Pie Filling

I’ve been on a pie kick lately. I want to learn how to make pie filling for pretty much every single fruit pie known to man in order to refrain from buying tin pie filling. Sure tin pie filling like lucky leaf is an easy shortcut, but I over what I put in my mouth. That and one of my dreams is to own my own bakery that specialize in homemade pies that use fresh ingredients. In order sort of make this a reality, I need to learn how to make pie filling.

In Lucky Leaf peach pie filling: Peach slices, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, food starch-modified (corn), citric acid, potassium sorbate and ascorbic acid (preservatives). Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 color added.

Why are there two different corn syrup in it?

Also, I like to taste my fruit in my pies. I like to physically be able to tell what fruit is being used. And trust me, you’ll know and see the peaches if you use my peach pie filling.


Peach Pie Filling

1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon butter
5 peaches, peeled and sliced

Combine water, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and butter and cook until thickened.

Pour into a deep dish pie crust and cook according to pie package directions.

Makes enough for 1 pie. 10 servings. Per serving.

This pie filling is phenomenal. It will blow your socks off.

All you taste is succulent amazing peaches. And they aren’t cooking into oblivion. The butter caramelizes the peaches creating this buttery peach goodness that makes your taste buds dance in happiness.

Love love love it.


Chicken Spaghetti

I’m going to be honest with you. I hated this dish. Hated it. Why am I posting it if I hated it? Because it’s different and theres about 8.2345 zillion versions of this recipe out there. However, I used chicken broth instead of milk and only 11 ounces of cream of mushroom soup. So it’s been modified quite a bit. Which means less carbs, less fat, less calories.

Do I think this modification ruined the whole dish? No. Bryan loved it. Raved about it. Asked for seconds and thirds. It just didn’t tickle my fancy. Just because the recipe looks scrumptious doesn’t mean it will taste that way. Besides, what one person likes, another hates. That’s what makes us unique and individuals. Could you imagine how boring the world would be if we were all the same, torn from the exact same cloth? And yes I realize that in a philosophical and religious sense we are all made from the same fabric.

Another difference between mine and others, is the use of real cheese. I’ve seen some that use Velveeta and I jut don’t understand why someone would put that nonsense in their mouth unless they were eating broccoli cheese soup. Also, I didn’t bake it. It’s supposed to be a casserole but I didn’t feel like dirtying another dish so it’s more of a skillet version.

So, real cheese, essentially one can of cream of mushroom soup, and chicken broth. And it’s more of a skillet instead of a casserole. So make it. If it tastes absolutely amazing and I’m crazy for hating it, comment below. Maybe I was having an off taste bud day. All I know is the house smelled amazing and this recipe is literally packed with vegetables so you know it’s a good for you. Maybe by not baking it, I failed to create something phenomenal.

Chicken Spaghetti

8 ounces thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell peppers, chopped
10 oz of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
6 thinly sliced chicken breast cooked and shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper


Cook chicken and shred it. Set aside

Cook pasta according to package directions until it’s al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add mushrooms, onion, celery and bell peppers. Cook until the vegetables have softened.

In a medium bowl, mix chicken broth with soup until smooth.

Add this mixture to the vegetables in the pan.

Stir in cheddar cheese. Continue stirring until cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.

Add chicken and pasta to sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 8.

Fried butter bread

You know how when you go to a diner and order breakfast at 3AM because you just got out of the bar or a strip club and it always comes with that fried butter bread that they make on the griddle. It’s literally my favorite part of breakfast. Favorite part. I never order breakfast at those diners though. I always order like a club sandwich or dessert or something.

If there’s T-bone and eggs on the menu, Bryan will get it. And by the time he gets to the bread, he’s full. Because like me, he leaves the best for last. And because he’s been drinking, he’s like a woman peeing every 5 minutes, if I have the chance, I will yonk a piece off his plate and act like nothing happened.

I love it so much. I swear it makes the whole breakfast.

Fried Butter Bread

1/2 tablespoon butter
2 slices of bread


Heat skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot place 1/2 the butter on the skillet.

Once butter is melted, place slices of bread on top of the butter. Slather rest of butter on top of slice of bread.

Cook until golden brown.

Flip and cook until the other side is also a golden brown.

Makes 4 triangles. Per 2 triangles.

I love the butteriness. I love the grilled taste the butter forms when cooked onto the bread. Buttery and crisp = perfection.

Just like the diner.

Aparagus Bacon Pasta

Sometimes I like my pasta without a sauce. Or as Bryan puts it, a dry pasta.

Pasta doesn’t always need a tomato or a cream sauce. Sometimes it needs to be free of any sauces and made with fresh ingredients. Sometimes it needs to be more of a side instead of an entrée. I like to think of pasta without sauce as elegant. It pairs great with fish and roasts. In this case it was paired with ah a pork tenderloin.

I knew the minute I saw this recipe I would be in paradise.

Bryan doesn’t like the whole cooking with wine thing, but whatever. It is always cooked out leaving nothing but flavor. And that’s what you should aim for when cooking with any sort of alcohol – the flavor.


Asparagus Bacon Pasta

8 oz uncooked thin spaghetti
8 strips bacon, diced
1 pound fresh aspagarus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Cook the pasta in a large pot of water until considered al dente according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, fry bacon in pan until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add asparagus to the pan and sauté in the bacon grease, stirring occasionally, until cooked.

Remove asparagus and set aside with the bacon.

Slowly add the white wine to the pan, and scape the bottom of the pan with a spoon to deglaze the pan. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by about half.

Add the pasta, asparagus, bacon and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to the pan, and toss until combined.

Sprinkle pasta with the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Makes 6.

When Bryan first saw this he asked, “Is there enough?”
“It’s a side sweetie, not an entrée.”

I used Mosacto instead of dry white wine and felt the Moscato added some extra flavor. Nut if you want to use a dry chardonnay, go right a head. Hell make a cooking battle out of all various kinds of white wine and tell me who wins. I bet it will be the Moscato. It’s the sweetness that pairs oh so well with the saltiness of the bacon.

This is what I’m talking about when I say elegant. It was also nothing but pig meal, but whatever. It was still yummy and Mumika left for home with a full stomach of yumminess.

I could, however, see this recipe doubled with sliced oven baked chicken breast on top of it. That would also make a lovely meal.

Mushroom and Bacon stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Mumika’s visit was shorter than I thought it would be. She essentially stayed for the weekend. I was hoping to get her recipe for pollo con arroz pero I think she was trying to show off when she made it. It came out bland and I was highly disappointed.

When I found out I was only going to cook for her 1 day I gave her a choice:
Garlic Beef Enchiladas with To stones
Mushroom and Bacon stuffed Tenderloin with an Asparagus Bacon Pasta.

I should have known she was going to pick the pork one.

Even though I hate pork, I figured if I stuff it with something I would be fine.

And then I realized in the middle of making it, I didn’t have a meat tenderizer.


Mushroom and Bacon stuffed Pork Tenderloin

6 slices bacon, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1/2 pork tenderloin
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt & black pepper to taste



Cook bacon until crisp.

Add the mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and garlic. Cook until soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs.

Butterfly the pork. It’s when you cut the meat lengthwise but not all the way through and is able to open it like a book. Pound the meat until it’s about 1/2″ thick.

Cover the pork with the mushroom mixture.

Starting with a long side, roll up tenderloin and secure with toothpicks.

 Rub salt and pepper all over the outside of the pork. And then spread the Dijon mustard over that.

Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or just until pork reaches 160 degrees. Remove from pan and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Makes 8.

Due to lack of space, I wasn’t able to roll it tightly. Also, because I didn’t have a meat tenderizer, I had to improvise flattening the tenderloin.

It was the whole empanada fiasco all over again. I ended up putting the piece of meat on top a plastic lid for mixing bowls, place a paper plate on top of the meat and take an actual hammer to it.

There were holes. So when I rolled the tenderloin with mushroom bacon stuffing on it, the mixture fell out the holes.

Did it stop me? Nope.

When you buy pork tenderloin it comes in pairs. I only used 1 which is why I put half. Put the other tenderloin in the freezer for another day.

This stuffed tenderloin is perfect for dinner parties. Or Easter. Or a dinner party on Easter Sunday.

It came out succulent. The nuttiness of the mushroom, the salt from the bacon, the small amount of breadcrumbs to bind the stuffing complimented the pork and the tanginess of that Dijon you smothered it with.

And it doesn’t take that long to put it together. Plus, during those 45 minutes of bake time, you could make an amazing side. Make people think you slaved over the stove. They don’t need to know that you didn’t. People like facades, cloak and dagger cooking at its finest.