It is my husbands birthday today. In celebration, I made homemade cheesecake with strawberry topping.

Graham Cracker Crust
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter melted
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Combine ingredients and press into pie pan. Bake at 375* for ten minutes.

1 lb cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients with mixer then pour into crust. Bake at 375* for 25 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

While that cools, make the sour cream topping and heat oven to 475*.

Sour Cream Topping
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over cooled cheesecake, then bake at 475* for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before cutting. Serve with fruit topping.img_3278

Kung Pao Chicken

img_3085We have a local chinese restaraunt that is the most fantastic place. It has been around in our community since my mother was a little girl. Four generations of my family have eaten at this lovely little place. It is not fancy, but the owners know the customers and often visit while you wait for your food.  There have been several families come in to run this business in our community.

When my husband and I started dating many years ago, this was one our favorite restaurants. We watched the children of the owners grow up in the restaurant. In fact, a few years ago the owners announced they would be leaving our community to join their youngest child at college so they could still live as a family.
The last few times we went there I lamented how much I was going to miss them and their food. I finally asked once what was in my favorite dish, Kung Pao Chicken. The owner laughed and rattled off all the ingredients so fast I could hardly understand. The next time, I went in with a pen and paper! She never had measurements and her instructions were always so fast. I wished I could just go in and watch them for a day!
Each time we went in, I asked for another recipe. Then I would go home and experiment with it. When we went back again, I ask her how I need to change it to get the flavor right. I went home and played with the ingredients and measurements for the Kung Pao Chicken. This is pretty darn close to the Eastern Garden.
My family has missed The Eastern Garden.  Every time I make this recipe, I think of the owners and how much they were a part of our community and our hearts.

Kung Pao Chicken

5 carrots
5 stalks celery
2 small zucchini
½ cup peanuts (or 1 tsp peanut butter)
2 chicken breast halves
3 cloves minced garlic
½ chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicier)
3 tablespoons Soy sauce
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 cup water
2 cups cooked rice

Mince and chop onion and garlic. Cut remaining vegetables into bite size pieces.

Cut chicken into small bite size pieces.

Fry chicken pieces in large frying pan with butter, garlic, and onion until chicken is cooked through.

Stir in red pepper flakes, peanuts, carrots, and celery. Cook this, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the zuchini is softened a bit.

Stir together soy sauce, cold water, and cornstarch for sauce. Add into hot mixture and stir until sauce thickens.

Serve over cooked rice.

This makes enough for my family of 6 plus extra.

Every Morning Smoothies

For the last four months I have been having a smoothie for breakfast every single morning.  Wonderful for my health, great for my weight, not so great when I like to have variety in my diet.  I started out with milk and my protein shake.  BORING.  Nasty tasting.  Blech.

Thankfully, in our time we have the wide world of the interwebs to turn to in our time of need.  I headed to the wonderful world of Pinterest to look for ideas.  So many ideas!  Everything from Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie all the way to Fruity Raspberry Lime.  Every one that I have tried was fantastic.

Once I got into the swing of every morning smoothies, I found myself using the same main ingredients over and over.  I now have a drawer in our freezer set aside just for smoothie ingredients.  I stock it with all sorts of frozen fruit, spinach, and cucumbers.  In the cupboard I stock cocoa powder, coconut milk, and instant pudding mix.

Today’s post is all about making the use of only a few ingredients for as many smoothie combinations as possible.  All the recipes today will use only the following ingredients: milk, Thrive Lifestyle Mix, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, frozen peach slices, and frozen cucumbers.

All ingredients

I thought I would take you along for my smoothie experience this week.  Every day I used only these five ingredients to make a different smoothie for breakfast.  You can have a great variety of smoothies with only a few ingredients.

On Monday I made Blueberry Peach.  Blue Peach Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 4 peach slices
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

All blended together this makes a lovely blueberry flavored smoothie with light peach undertones.  If you want a stronger peach flavor, add less blueberries and more peaches.



On Tuesday I made Peach Cucumber.  I really like adding cucumber to my smoothies.  It adds a nice summery flavor that I really enjoy.

peach cucumber

  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 peach slices
  • 10 cucumber slices
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

All blended together I love the cucumber flavor!  The peaches add a sweetness to the smoothie, but the cucumber is the star.


On Wednesday I had simple strawberry.  This is my go to smoothie recipe.  Some days I’ll add in a spoonful of cocoa powder for a chocolate covered strawberry flavor.  Today was just nice and easy plain strawberry.Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 frozen strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

All blended together this is simple strawberry.  So easy and satisfying.  This is the comfort food of smoothies for me.


On Thursday I had simple blueberry.  Another wonderful, busy morning go to smoothie.  Simple perfection.blueberry

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

This one blends into a lovely purple smoothie, perfect for a morning when we are leaving for the first of two field trips in one week.



Friday morning started super early.  My class was set to leave at 6:30am for our second field trip of the week.  For what it is worth, I am not a morning person.  Seriously, my brain doesn’t turn on before 8am.  For this reason, I do not have a picture of the smoothie for Friday.  Friday I had strawberry peach for my smoothie.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 strawberries
  • 3 peach slices
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

This blends into a sweet start for my morning, even at 6:30am with 48 students on a bus for two and a half hours.

All in all, six ingredients, five different smoothies, five ways to start my day with a healthy breakfast.  I’m still exploring different recipes and hope to share them with you all as I pick my favorites.  I’d love to hear your favorite smoothie recipes too!  Drop me a comment to share your favorites.  If you are interested in getting started with Thrive, leave me a comment and I’ll get you set up with a customer log in!