photographing, cooking, laughing through life


What’s for Dinner -Ground Turkey, Sweet Potato Skillet

I love, love, love sweet potatoes and am always looking for new recipes that incorporate sweet potatoes.  I’m also trying to eat a more healthy diet and stumbled on this recipe on Pinterest.  The original recipe comes from the Primavera Kitchen although I’ve made some minor changes as I’ve made it a couple of times.

The ingredients you will need:

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lbs extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • ½ cup yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 ½ cup sweet potato, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheeseIMG_7515


In a skillet (I used my Pampered Chef Rock Crock) heat oil over medium high heat.  Once heated, add the ground turkey and garlic and heat until cooked through (about 10 minutes)


Next, add in your onions and yellow peppers and cook until onions brown. Last time I made this I didn’t have an onion, so I just put in double yellow pepper.


Next, add in the salt/pepper and sweet potatoes.


Cover your skillet and stir periodically.  Add in more oil or water (I find water works best) if needed and cook until sweet potatoes are cooked through. For me this takes about 10 minutes.


Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through, cover with the cheese and put the skillet in a 400 degree oven until cheese is melted (this takes about a minute)


Remove from the oven and enjoy! This makes approximately 4 servings.


I will get to enjoy the leftovers for the rest of the week for lunches – and I think it’s almost better the second day!


The United States of YA

I love to read…always have, always will. As a high school teacher, I often find myself drawn to young adult books – books that I can read and then suggest to my students. I try to mix some YA in among the fiction and non-fiction that I “should” be reading…and I mean, I’m still a young adult, right?!

While I was scrolling through Pinterest one time, I found a link to a list called “The United States of YA” – this is a list of 50 YA books (one per state) that take place in that state – and I decided to take on the challenge. Here’s the photo of the United States of YA:

And while the photo is great, I also wanted to make a list that I could put in my planner and cross off as I finished each book. Below is the list of books – with stars next to the ones I’ve read (I can’t tell you how ticked I am that “The Wizard of Oz” is the Kansas book…I mean, really?!)

Alabama – The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Alaska – Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Arizona – Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Arkansas – Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

California – Bloodlines by Richelle Meade

Colorado – A Beautiful Dark by Joscelyn Davies

Connecticut – My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Delaware – The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher

Florida – The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Georgia – Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hawaii – Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury

Idaho – Deadline by Chris Crutcher

* Illinois – Divergent by Veronica Roth

* Indiana – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Iowa – Ashfall by Mike Mullin

* Kansas – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Kentucky – The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker

Louisiana – Arise by Tara Hudson

* Maine – Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Maryland – Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Massachusetts – Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Michigan – Wake by Lisa McMann

Minnesota – Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Missouri – Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

Mississippi – Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Montana – The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Nebraska – Revived by Cat Patrick

Nevada – Crank by Ellen Hopkins

New Hampshire – Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

New Jersey – White Cat by Holly Black

New Mexico – fated by Alyson Noel

New York – The Diviners by Libba Bray

* North Carolina –The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

North Dakota – The Beet Fields by Gary Paulsen

* Ohio – I am Number 4 by Pittacus Lore

Oklahoma – Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp

* Oregon – If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Pennsylvania – Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Rhode Island – devilish by Maureen Johnson

South Carolina – Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

South Dakota – Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs

Tennessee – Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Texas – Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Utah – Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Vermont – JIP: His Story by Katherine Paterson

* Virginia – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

* Washington – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

West Virginia – Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

* Wisconsin – Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Wyoming – Unearthly by Cynthia Hand


I’m only 1/5 of the way done so far with 10 of them read, but I’m excited to take on the challenge. I’ve started “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” but I’m also reading “All the Light We Cannot See” which is WONDERFUL! I did find a list of a Literary Map of America that I’ll share in a future post that I’m also working through.

Happy Reading!

Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Pasta Salad

Summer is a great time to try out new salads, and I LOVE this creamy Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Pasta Salad.  The dressing is tangy and includes dill – which makes it oh, so good.  I found the recipe on Pinterest – and you can see the blog post HERE.

You’ll need the following ingredients:



  • 12 oz. Rotini
  • 1 pkg. bacon pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup tomatoes (diced and seeded)
  • 1 avocado (the recipe called for 2, but I felt like 1 was enough)
  • 1 cup mayo
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill

First, cook pasta according to package directions:


While the pasta is cooking, mix up the dressing. Add your mayo, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill together.


Use a whisk to mix up the ingredients – I just mix them up in the bowl I’m going to serve the salad in.


Cut up the tomatoes (and seed them), the avocado and dump in the bacon pieces (mix).


Once the pasta is cooked, strain and rinse with cold water until cooled – add the pasta to the rest of the ingredients, mix and enjoy.


This was a crowd pleaser at the potluck I went to yesterday – came home with just enough to enjoy today for supper!

Pizzadilla, a quick and easy, family-friendly meal

Last night (Easter), I went over to my parents’ house for some homemade pizza.  When we ended up with extra pizza sauce, I knew exactly what I wanted to try to make…Pizzadillas!

Basically this is a quesadilla made with pizza toppings and you dip it in pizza sauce instead of salsa…super simple, I had all the ingredients I needed…and FAST!

Ingredients you need:

  • Any toppings for pizza you like
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Tortillas (I chose wheat)
  • Pizza sauce

That’st IT!

Now, for assembly – first, cut up all of the toppings you plan to use. I chose green peppers, onions, mushrooms, black olives and grilled chicken (I probably would have used another protein, but it was what I had in my refrigerator).



Next, warm up the tortillas…I like to warm them up on both sides to make them easier to fold over.




Then it’s time to add in your toppings. I started with a mozzarella cheese base, put on my toppings and then sprinkled a little mozzarella on top – that way the cheese help the tortilla “stick.”




Fold over the tortilla and let it cook – flipping to get it evenly cooked.



Once it’s done cooking, cut it into quarters.



Doesn’t it look delicious?!



Serve with the pizza sauce for dipping – and if you need a good recipe for homemade pizza sauce, check my Grandma Schwinn’s recipe here.



This recipe was SUPER easy, and the best thing is that you can make some for your whole family and tailor each to your family’s likes…you could do all cheese, all meat, whatever you want.

Pizza Pasta Salad

I’m always looking for good salads to take to potlucks or even have for lunch during the week.  This week’s salad comes from the blog “Butter with a side of Bread” and is called Pizza Pasta Salad.  The original recipe can be found HERE, and it is SIMPLE! The hardest part is cooking the pasta!

Gather your ingredients:


  • 16 oz. rotini pasta
  • 1 can black olives
  • 6 pieces of string cheese (or mozzarella of your choice)
  • 1 cup tomatoes
  • 1 bag pepperoni minis (I chose the “turkey” pepperoni)
  • your favorite Italian dressing

First, cook your pasta according to the package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, prepare your olives, cheese and tomatoes.  I went with cherry tomatoes, so I didn’t have to do any work there.  I couldn’t find any sliced olives at my store, so I sliced up my own and then also chopped up the string cheese.



Drain your pasta once it is cooked, and then dump in the ingredients.


I added in some Parmesan cheese when I put in the dressing.


And, that’s it! It’s best to mix this up the night before so the dressing has a chance to really do its thing.  Make sure to do a good mix prior to serving to evenly distribute the dressing.  The original recipe called for a whole bottle – but I only used about half of the bottle to start.  I plan on adding a little more to refresh it before serving.


Perfect lunch for the week!

Spicy Peanut Cabbage Salad

Today was another “Pinterest” day…basically it’s a day when a group of us get together, we make a recipe from Pinterest to share and then we also do a craft from Pinterest.  Love, love, love that we started doing this.  It’s always such a great time.

Today’s “theme” was salads, so I decided to try this Spicy Peanut Cabbage salad (original recipe HERE). I made some modifications (based on the fact that I couldn’t find one of the original ingredients and the fact that I wanted to make it easier…)

Here are the ingredients you will need:



  • 1 head of cabbage (or a bag…) shredded
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 carrot (shredded)
  • 1 cup snap peas (or sugar peas if you can’t find snap peas) finely sliced
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped, roasted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (the original recipe called for black – which would bring more color to the dish, but I couldn’t find any…)


  • You can follow the original recipe – OR – buy a pre-made Bankok Spiced Peanut Dressing and add water until it’s the proper consistency. (I did this – and just poured out what I thought was a good amount and then made it more of a dressing consistency)

First, mix up your cabbage, carrots, peas, avocado and fresh herbs.


Next, mix up your dressing and pour it over top of the veggies – tossing it until it is evenly spread out.


Finally, right before serving, add the remainder of your fresh herbs and the cashews.


Fresh, a little spicy, and delicious! At about 80-100 calories per serving, a great side to a meal or a great meatless meal option!

Wall Hanging for a Couple

I was doing a little decluttering today…not at my house (well, I guess I was doing that too) but on my Pinterest boards.  I have several graphic design ideas on boards – and decided to make one tonight.

ImageThis specific project uses special dates for a married couple – the one I decided to make was for my parents – So the dates are their birthdays, the day they got engaged, their wedding day and then birthdays for my sister and me.  Pretty easy project, but would be a great gift for someone special!