Drunken Noodles

This is one of those recipes that I can take absolutely no credit for, but it’s amazing so I couldn’t resist sharing. All the credit really goes to the blogger of The Cozy Apron – you can find this recipe as well as lots of other goodies by clicking this link. I may not have followed the recipe exactly (as I rarely do), so my version is below.

A wonderful deviation from the usual pasta recipes and one that will make good use of some of those end of season peppers and onions from the garden – Oh! and your fresh basil and parsley too!


1 lb nitrate free sausage
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 T parsley, chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, julienned
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
2 tsp Italian Seasoning, divided
1 small pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine (or white cooking wine)
8 oz egg noodles
Note: the original recipe calls for Papardelle noodles, which I couldn’t locate initially so I used your standard egg noodles and they worked just fine. I finally located Papardelle noodles at Trader Joes. They are these long, wide noodles that add some fun to the dish – but certainly any egg noodle is will do.

-Brown sausage in large skillet (you will want bigger chunks so be careful not to break up the sausage too terribly much). Season with 1 tsp Italian seasoning
-Once susage is browned, remove from pan, using a slotted spoon to reserve the drippings
-Lower heat to medium, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, then add in onion and cook low and slow until onions caramelize (this can take 10-15 minutes, but it’s soooo important to the overall flavoring of the dish, so exercise patience)
-Add bell peppers, salt, fresh black pepper, and remaining tsp of Italian seasoning.
-Begin cooking the noodles, according to package directions
-Once the peppers begin to soften, add white wine and allow to reduce
-Next, pour diced tomatoes and juice into pan. Stir gently, Cover pan with a lid and turn off the heat.
-Once noodles are cooked, drain well, add to sausage/veggie mixture along with the parsley and basil, toss together.
-Serve immediately

This dish adequately covers the usual carbs, veggies and proteins that I look for when I plan dinners, but if your diet can handle some additional carbs, garlic bread (maybe even cheesey garlic bread!  Oh gosh, YES! Cheesy garlic bread) on the side can’t be argued.

Oh! And if this recipe doesn’t look like it will fit your dietary needs due to the noodles – omit them all together. This recipe is still killer – with or without the noodles!

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Have you ever been to PF Chang’s and ordered the cashew chicken lettuce wraps and they totally blew your mind? And then you couldn’t stop thinking about them? Mouth watering…obsessing about another plate (or three) full of what you can only assume must contain something illegal, because, how else could it be so good?

Well, if you haven’t, then you must not have tried them…

I stumbled across a recipe years ago, made it with my own modifications, and it reminded me of PF Chang’s. I haven’t eaten there in years, so I don’t know how much a ‘knock off’ this recipe is, but every time I make it I wonder why this isn’t happening in our house on a weekly basis.


Chicken Breast: 2 lbs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Black Pepper: to taste
Honey: 4 Tbsp
Soy Sauce: 4 Tbsp
Olive Oil: 2-3 Tbsp
Fresh Ginger: 1-2 Tbsp, grated
Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
Green Onion: 1 bunch, chopped
Cashews: 1/2 cup, unsalted
Lettuce (I used romaine, any lettuce that forms a ‘cup’ to hold the chicken mixture will be perfect)

Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat
Add chicken, season with black pepper
Combine honey and soy sauce, wisk together and set aside
Cook for about 3 min, add garlic and ginger, reduce heat to medium
Cook for 1-2  min, add green onion and 1/2 of the honey/soy sauce mixture
Cook for another 3 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through
Remove from heat, stir in cashews
Scoop chicken into lettuce ‘cups’ and drizzle with remaining honey/soy sauce mixture

These are a total mess to eat. We are talking liquids running down your hands (and sometimes, arms) mess. They are SOOOO worth it though. Give them a try – you’ll thank me later.

Bye, Bye Pine Trees!

I threatened it nearly three years ago. Yes, three. Have you noticed that time is FLYING by these days with absolutely no regard for those of us who could use a slow down? Okay, that’s another post for another day, but, yes, nearly THREE years ago we moved into this fabulous house and I blogged about the awful pine trees in our back yard that needed to go. You can read about it here.

It took nearly three years as there was a lot of debate about whether or not we could drop these trees on our own – the debate being that J thought we could and I could only envision also getting a new kitchen out of the deal after the trees came crashing down on our house…followed by no insurance company ever wanting to carry us again…except for maybe some sketchy company with bad late-night TV commercials that leave you wondering who ever gets a quote from those guys.

In case you were curious — we called in the professionals to bring ’em down.

So, nearly three years, and roughly 856 bazillion pine needles cleaned up over those years, later we went from this:


To this…


And this…


Next winter, after this all dries out, my dad will burn it in their wood burning stove. His reward for helping with the clean up (seems he got the short end of the stick, huh? We are SO thankful he was here to help though because he can still throw down with a chain saw and we had this mess cleaned up in no time).

So…now to figure out what to do with this area of the back yard. Maybe I need a second greenhouse….or chickens!!

Happy Wednesday – I hope your week is crusing right along…



It’s Fall. Officially. I’m somewhat in denial. Fall means that summer is over – and that winter is hot on it’s heels. Winter – Boo!!

I knew it was coming what with the cooler evenings, the sun setting earlier in the day, waking up in the morning at my usual time and thinking for sure <based on how dark it still is outside> that I can snooze for another 2 hours…until the harsh reality of the alarm clock alerts me otherwise.

I also knew it was coming when pumpkin started making it’s appearance in EVERYTHING! Seriously, everything! It drives me bonkers, personally, but people dig it…I know.

And, just when I think I dislike this time of year a gorgeous sunflower makes an appearance in my garden…


followed by this incredible sunset…


and I’m forced to admit that Fall, while not my favorite, really does have a lot going for it.

What’s your favorite season? And, do you get all jazzed about pumpkin everything this time of year?

Wishing you all a BRILLIANT week.

Toying With The Idea….

It’s been nearly two years since Simply Eclectic Life saw a new post.

I wish I had some amazing story to account for my 2 year hiatus. That I could tell you I went off the grid and got back to basics. Or that I was volunteering my time in a third world country and had no access to internet. Or that I was backpacking through Europe and forgot my iPad charger in the States (yes, backpacking, for two years, and couldn’t locate a charger anywhere).

There isn’t an amazing story to account for my time away. Truth told, life got busy and I felt I had to choose. There wasn’t enough energy and brain power to accomplish it all and something had to give.

But then…the most amazing thing happened…Facebook started showing me the “this day in history” stuff from my posts and it alerted me to the fact that this blog, sitting lonely and neglected, is still here. Just waiting to be revived. And it couldn’t have come at a better time because just recently I had a very serious discussion with myself — about needing to find balance. Too much of my time, energy and brain power is being sucked away by the things I have to do. It’s time to re-channel some of that time, energy and brain power to things I WANT to do.

So…I’m toying with the idea. The idea of breathing new life back into this blog. To engage in, and share with you, some of the simple things that bring me the most joy in life.

Also, this little cutie made an appearance in my garden this weekend and I just couldn’t resist sharing:

My blog account tells me that I’ve still got some followers out there…are you still out there? If so, drop me a line – it’s been nearly two years, I’d love to hear from you!


More Gardening Success

I’ve had many gardens. Each year I learn something new. Each year is better than the one before.

This year was an experiment with the new climate, change in length of growing season, etc. and just when I about dubbed it the least successful of all gardens to date, something wonderful happened….


I have tired several times to grow sweet corn. Each time without much success.  My prior attempts were all in Nebraska, and always ended with the same problem…wind!

The wind would blow the corn stalks over, pinching them near the bottom, cutting off their ability to produce to their full potential (even after standing them back up and staking them so as not to be blown over again). As a result I ended up with very small, very sad cobs of corn.

When I planted the garden this year I thought, “what the heck, I should just give it another go”. And, despite my neighbor trying to discourage me and dampen my spirits (“this isn’t the corn state, you know, we’ve tried, you won’t be able to grow corn here”) I have managed to grow beautiful, delicious sweet corn!!

What’s your favorite of the garden’s gifts?

I do believe Fall weather is upon us and the garden will soon be wrapping up for the season. I think this was the fastest summer of my life!

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend and will see you back here next week.

Wedding Details: To Ring or Not To Ring?

How do you feel about your significant other not wearing a wedding band?

When J and I got engaged, he was adamant from the very beginning that he didn’t want a wedding band. I blew that idea off initially, thinking I could get him to warm to it over time.

I was wrong. He continued to hold firm in not wanting a wedding band. He hates things on his hands, can’t wear it for work, and wouldn’t be likely to wear it…ever.

At first, this got under my skin, but then it occurred to me: I could buy him a wedding band, he would likely not wear it, and it would be something we could fight about. Great way to start a marriage, huh?

So…I decided to do something a tad (or a LOT) NOT traditional — I didn’t buy him a wedding band. Instead, I bought him an expensive, and awesome watch:


While it may not be the pleasure of everyone, it seemed a reasonable compromise that J and I could both live with.

And, for the ceremony…because I didn’t think “with this watch…” an option that wouldn’t confuse the masses, we borrowed the ring his grandfather wore:

Doyle 277

I was more than happy to have a wedding band to go with my gorgeous engagement ring, however, the engagement ring didn’t come with a matching band.

Not to worry…I found this band, with the help of one of my bridesmaids,  that goes nicely with the ring, can be worn alone, and didn’t cost the fortune that having a band made to fit the engagement ring  exactly would have (and having a band like this would mean not being able to wear alone).


Have you, or do you know someone, who has deviated from the ‘traditional’ exchange of rings? I’m curious to know…what did you <they> do?

A New Plan

Well, we made it though the wedding, returned home, got into the swing of a continued busy summer and then something dreadful happened….I got on the scale and learned I had gained 7 lbs since the wedding!!

Not cool.

So, maybe 7 lbs isn’t anything to lose a lot of sleep over. On the other hand, it happened in just over 2 months & could be the beginning of a very slippery slope.

A very slippery slope that I need to get off of….and quickly!!

Though I possessed (and still do) less than one ounce of motivation to REALLY do anything about it, I put together, & have been forcing myself to follow through with, a new workout plan.

Every day is a battle as I’d so much rather drink wine and eat Doritos while sitting in front of the TV in the evening.

In addition to the walks I take on my breaks at work, I’m throwing at least 3 days of cardio into the mix as well as a 30-day plank and squat challenge.

The link to the squat challenge is here. I’ve been doing it for a couple weeks now and have been pleasantly surprised that it leaves me just the right amount of sore…and able to complete the task again the following day.

And, here is the picture for the plank challenge:


I got this from a friend and it is totally do-able as well…right amount of sore to follow & ability to continue on to the next day. A couple things I’m doing differently, though. For one I am doing the plank in full push-up position and doing one on each side as well. So, where a day may say “30 seconds” that means I’m really doing a minute and a half…30 seconds for the standard plank, and 30 seconds for each side.

If you’re going to do the planks, though, please do them right or don’t even bother wasting the effort. Tuck that rear-end in!! (I laugh in my head as I picture my personal trainer friend demonstrating for me the “super ass-up” planks some of her clients try to squeeze by with…that drive her to near insanity).

Soooo….So far, so good.

Are you staying motivated with your health and fitness goals as we head in to fall — far away from bikini season (unless you are like me and taking a tropical vacation for your honeymoon in Dec) and full speed into Comfort Food, Hoodies, and Sweat Pants season??

Garden Check-In

Hard to believe that we are in to our second week of Sept, and that Fall is fast approaching.

I know, I shudder at the thought myself. Can we rewind to July 1st please??

How are things going in your garden?


My gardening experience this year is bitter sweet. I’m thrilled with the production that has kept us eating fresh and healthy for a while now.


I am disappointed, though, that we aren’t getting enough at one time to ‘put up’ for winter eats. Next year I will need to tackle in a whole different way.


I may be headed to the Farmers Market one weekend soon to stock up on tomatoes. I just don’t know if I can stomach NOT making that delicious homemade pasta sauce I experimented with…and loved…last year.

For now I will be overly thankful for what we’ve gotten…but I’m curious to know…how are your gardens coming along? How do they compare to past years?

Giant Pumpkins

My mother-in-law and her husband are growing giant pumpkins.

Growing giant pumpkins takes a LOT of space:


And, they apparently require a LOT of work. The vines have to be buried, and one must pay attention not to let more than a couple pumpkins per plant to develop. They also need shade, otherwise they may split open:


I think they’re pretty cool!


Those pictured here are nearing 400 pounds!! There are some other pumpkins which are smaller…bigger than your average big pumpkin, but small when compared to these big boys!

So…my question is this: what does one do with a pumpkin that will weigh well over 400 pounds by the end of the growing season??


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