Lime Cilantro Rice

If you are lime me and a big fan of the fresh Mex restaurants like Costa Vida, Cafe Rio or Chipotle give this recipe a try.  This saved us when we lived in Hawaii and there were no restaurants like this on any of the islands!

Makes 8 cups of cooked rice

  • 4 c. uncooked rice, (long-grain, white rice is best but you can use any rice)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (or 4 tsp of minced garlic from the jar or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 2 Tbsp  freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 8 cups water (or up to the “4” line if using a rice cooker)
  • 1 Tbsp & 1 tsp “Better than Bouillon” chicken stock or 4 bouillon cubes


  • 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh chopped cilantro


1-Put the first 6 ingredients in a rice cooker and start the rice cooker. (If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat.)


2-In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.


*This is perfect for soft tacos, burritos or taco salads.

Adapted from


Keeping your hand towel where it should be! Simplifying & Organizing Tips


Ok, so maybe this only happened at my house but it seemed like whenever I went into the bathroom to wash my hands the hand towel has been thrown on the counter or floor-gross! I change hand towels often, usually daily, and I want it to stay put once I hang it up! Anyway, if you’re like me than you will probably appreciate this tip. I know I’m not the first or only one to think of this but I came up with this last year when we were running a school in Japan and successfully kept all the hand towels hung up in the school bathrooms and kitchen with this tip. Sometimes it’s the little things! So here’s the tip…

Tip: Once you hang up a fresh towel, use a binder clip or clothes pin to keep the towel in place. You can even fold the towel over it so you don’t see it if you like.

Another tip that goes along with this that I’ve discovered is putting an extra hand towel lower where young kids can reach. Some places, like in our bathroom, the younger kids can’t reach the towel without climbing on the counter and as we know, the easier it is for kids to wash their hands, the better! I use this over the cupboard door towel rack but many kinds of hooks would also work.

Give it a try at your home and let me know what you think!


5 minute Chocolate Lava Cakes

These chocolate lava cakes are a new and delicious discovery here at our little apartment in Japan. I looked up several recipes on Pinterest and tried one but it wasn’t quite right so after changing a few things I think I now have the perfect, super fast, delicious and great-to-make-in-a-tiny-apartment-when-you-don’t-have-an-oven recipe! I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. And let me know what delicious variations you come up with. Happy chocolating!


5 minute Chocolate Lava Cakes


  • ¼ cup all purpose flour (強力粉 in Japan works great)
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 10 chocolate chips or 2 truffles*


In a small bowl mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and melted butter. Divide between 2 mugs, ramekins or small ceramic bowls. Push 5 chocolate chips or  1 truffle into each mug*.

Microwave on high for 1  minute 30 seconds. It will still look a little gooey but don’t over bake it!  Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

It’s quite fabulous with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream on top or a little sprinkled powdered sugar.

*You can also use caramels, Andes mints or peanut butter in place of the chocolate chips in the middle.


Black Bean Salsa

-1, 15 oz. can black beans (drained) or 1 cup cooked black beans
-1, 15 oz. can black-eye peas (drained) or more black beans
-1, 11 oz. can kidney beans (drained)
-1, 11 oz. can white corn (drained) or ½ cup frozen corn
-2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
-1 diced bell pepper (red, yellow, orange green..whatever you have)
-½ diced purple onion
-3 diced avocados
-½ cup Kraft Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
-chopped cilantro (to taste)
-lime juice (to taste-I use fresh squeezed)
-garlic salt (to taste)

Mix everything together and enjoy with lime tortilla chips, on a soft taco etc.


Popping Popcorn using a glass bowl in the microwave

This is one of those “Why didn’t I know about this awesome thing earlier?!” things. We love popping popcorn seeds at our house and usually eat this snack several times a week. I love that it’s whole grain, real food, super cheap and  totally versatile so you can top it with whatever you like. (We won’t even bring up all the ways that prepackaged microwave popcorn is gross and not healthy!) My organization loving heart is always so happy when you can eliminate a kitchen appliance and use things you already have!

For those of you who don’t know about this tip, here are the instructions:

Super Simple Microwave Popcorn

1-Get a large glass bowl and pour 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into it

2-Put a microwave safe, ceramic plate or do what I do and use your microwave cover (If you don’t have one of these you really should pick one up-very cheap (I got mine at the dollar store) and they keep your microwave nice and clean!)


3-Microwave for 3-4 minutes, listening for when the pops are slowing down. Since the bowl and cover are clear, my girls love watching the kernels pop.

4-Enjoy with some melted butter and salt, dark chocolate drizzled over the top or whatever you like.

*Cool tips:
-If some of the kernels don’t pop, you can take them out of the popped kernels and microwave them again until most of them pop!
-If you want to easily get the unpopped kernels out of the popped ones, put a cooling rack over your bowl and hold the rack tight to the bowl while you turn them upside and shake until the unpopped kernels fall out!


Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies (all from scratch!)

Yes, you read that right, Pumpkin Cheesecake and brownie all together in one fabulous fall dessert. Easy, all from scratch and absolutely decedent. Make, eat, share and be happy.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
-1 cup (2 cubes) of  Butter (Olive Oil & Coconut Oil both work too to make these dairy free!)
-2 cups of Sugar
-2 tsp Vanilla
-4 Eggs
-3/4 cup Cocoa
-1 cup Flour *If making these Gluten Free, replace with any GF flour of your choice)
-1/2 tsp Baking Powder
-1/4 tsp Salt
-4 oz cream cheese, softened
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree, canned is great
-1/4 cup of Sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground ginger
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cloves (optional)

1-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2- Grease a 9×13″ pan and set aside.
3-Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl.
4- Stir in each of the rest of the ingredients by hand until everything is well mixed.
5-Pour 3/4 of the brownie batter into the greased pan, spread it out evenly and set the rest aside.  The batter will be thick.
6-In a separate bowl mix the cream cheese, pumpkin, spices and egg on medium high for 1 minute or so until everything is well combined.
7-Pour the pumpkin mixture over the brownie batter and spread evenly.
8-Put the rest of the brownie batter over the pumpkin mixture and swirl them together slightly.
9-Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the oven, until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

*You can eat them warm but they are also amazing after the have cooled and been refrigerated for a few hours. Think warm pumpkin pie versus set up, cooled pumpkin pie.



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (also has alternate real food option with honey & whole wheat)


It’s the pumpkin time of year and I love it!  We are all big pumpkin fans at our house and pumpkin pie gets made several times through out the year for birthdays and special occasions but this time of year just begs to have pumpkin goodness as often as possible!  I’ve been on the hunt for a great pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe that isn’t too moist but not too try, doesn’t use shortening and is of course, simple.  I found this great one at where she has gone to great lengths to avoid the typical cakey pumpkin cookie and make a delightful chewy version I can really appreciate that!  I made it as written first (with just a few tweaks) and then also made a real food version batch that replaced the sugars with honey and the white flour for whole wheat flour.  Both versions were amazing and actually turned out quite similar.  My official taste testers (my girls and their friends) all liked both kinds equally well and couldn’t really tell the difference, which is kind of fabulous.  Now, I don’t think ALL dessert recipes have to avoid white sugar and white flour but it’s good to have a few that are a little more nutritious and filling, such as my Chocolate No Bake Cookies in your arsenal.  My kids (and my husband) think it’s so great when I let them eat this healthier cookies for breakfast.

Makes about 18 cookies

-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
-1/4 cup brown sugar (or substitute 3/4 cups honey for the 2 sugars)
-1/2 white sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-6 Tablespoons canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 1/2 cups white flour (or substitute 2 cups whole wheat flour-more because the honey adds extra moisture)
-1 cup chocolate chips

1-Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into your mixing bowl. (I use my Kitchen Aid for this but you can do it by hand too.)

2-Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain on medium speed and then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3-Add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves and mix on medium until combined.  Then add the flour and mix lightly until it is all combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

4-Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days. The regular dough will be softer than regular chocolate chip cookie dough and the honey/whole wheat dough will be even softer.

Regular dough on the left, honey, whole wheat dough on the right

5-Take the dough out of the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

6-Scoop the dough into balls, about 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons of each. Slightly flatten the dough balls because these cookies won’t spread much in the oven.



7-Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. Keeping them in the oven for longer may dry them out.  Remove from the oven and press a few more chocolate chips onto the tops, if you like and  flatten out a little bit too, if you like.

*Sally says “Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack.  The longer the cookies cool, the chewier they will be. I let them sit out for at least 1 hour before enjoying.  I find that their chewiness and pumpkin flavor is more prominent on day 2. Cookies stay soft, moist, and chewy stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.”  My children had to try the cookies right away so we know they are delicious with out the wait too 😉

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

The Perfect (yet, simple!) Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This recipe comes to you after many years of chocolate chip cookie research.  (You know this is coming: It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.) Like most American women, I adore chocolate chip cookies and have made and sampled many, many, many of them and although there is room for different kinds of chocolate chip cookies to reign supreme in your own cravings kingdom, I like the kind that are chewy yet puffy and soft, a little tiny bit gooey on the inside and crisp on the edges.  NOT          flat and greasy.   Unfortunately, making a flat and greasy chocolate chips cookie seems to be the default outcome for many if not most recipes.  (I know, I know #firstworldprobs for sure!)  I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching why this is and how to avoid it (As anyone who has attended my meal planning class can attest, I’m a little obsessive about these things!) and will spare you all the scientific explanations, but finally came up with what I dare to deem as the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!  Chewy, puffy, gooey, crisp bites of heaven that are laced with plenty of semi sweet chocolate and NOT flat AND are easy to prepare in one bowl in a dangerously short amount of time.  You can thank me later for now, go and get started on these!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

-1/2 c (1 cube) butter, slightly softened
-3/4 c white sugar
-3/4 c brown sugar
-2 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 1/4 to 2 1/2 c flour (see instructions)
-1 c (1/2 bag) chocolate chips,

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2- Soften the butter, but only a tiny bit!  (Either leave it on the counter for an hour or so or if it’s straight out of the fridge microwave it for 5-10 seconds, but no more.)
3- In a large bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer so I put it in the bowl that goes with that) cream the butter and sugars really well (cream means to beat together on a high speed until they are nice and fluffy and all combined.)

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Creamed butter and white and brown sugars

4- Beat in the 2 eggs on medium speed or a minute or so until combined and scrape the edges of the bowl.

5- Then beat in the vanilla, soda & salt just until combined and scrape the edges of the bowl again.

6- Gradually beat in the 2 1/4 cups of flour on medium to low speed (I do a little with the mixer and then gently finish mixing in the flour by hand with a spoon-these keeps your cookies from being tough but you can do it all in the mixer too, just don’t over do it.) and if it doesn’t seem thick enough (see the following picture), add a little more flour, up to the extra 1/4 for a total of 2 1/2 cups.  I’ve found from living in Hawaii, Japan and dry Utah that the flour amount can make a big difference depending on a lot of variables.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Your dough should be very thick like this, getting difficult to stir

7- Then gently mix in the chocolate chips.  Feel free to add in extra chips if you want (and who doesn’t want more chocolate?!)

8- Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  I tend to do mine on the small side, maybe a tablespoon of dough rounded into a ball, but you can go bigger if you prefer.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
I love the silcone baking mats but they aren’t necessary for this recipe

9- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. (depending on the size of dough balls and how brown you like your cookies.)

*I like to bake up a batch and then refrigerate or freeze the rest so I can bake them fresh whenever we plan to eat/serve them.  For the freezer I roll the dough into balls and place them carefully into a flat Ziploc gallon freezer bag (that is labeled with the kind of cookies and baking instructions) and then carefully, keeping the bag flat, move it to the freezer.  Then you can get that bag out anytime and put the number of cookies you want to bake on your baking sheet to defrost a little and put the bag with the rest of the cookie dough balls in the freezer again.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Ready for the freezer

**A big thanks to my friend, Nick, for being a consultant on this recipe.  He and his wife are pretty much amazing at anything in the kitchen.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
And as my husband and kids would say “perfect for dunking in milk!”

Make your own (easy, cheap & green) laundry detergent!

This is one of the things that I get asked about the most, so I thought I would write a post about it.


Can you really make your own laundry detergent?!  Yes, you can and it’s so easy, so green and so cheap that I’m wondering why in the world I didn’t know about this sooner!  Honestly, who wants to spend more money on laundry detergent than you have to?
Continue reading “Make your own (easy, cheap & green) laundry detergent!”


Cook Chicken in bulk (freeze and use for meals all month long)

1-Put some of your frozen or fresh boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts in the crock pot with a cup of water and 2 tsps (or cubes) of chicken bouillon (I like “Better Than Bouillon” that you can buy at Costco.)

2-Let the chicken cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 5 hours.

3-Shred or cut with kitchen shears (or two forks) and let it cook for another hour or so to soak up the juice.

4-You can then use a slotted spoon to put the shredded meat on a plate to cool for a little bit and then in a freeze bags to pull out and use for Taco Soup or Hawaiian Haystacks or whatever you need precooked chicken for.