Homemade Tamales with our Delicious Carnitas’ & other variations including Vegetarian!

“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.” – Guy Fieri

Dave, the boys & I just love Mexican food. It is definitely in our top 3 ethnic foods to enjoy. Recently Dave & I visited a local Mexican restaurant and with Dave’s dinner there was a tamale. Ok, so I’d never eaten one. That is a confession, LOL. I always get either cheese enchiladas or fajitas… it’s just what I like. But after trying it, I thought, ‘That is really good!” I looked at Dave and said, “We can make these!”… And make them we did!

Wow, they are fabulous & I am sure you will enjoy them. I must admit when I was looking for recipes, it was a bit intimidating. I really thought it was going to be a lot of work, but it really wasn’t bad. It’s not any harder than making cabbage rolls. 

Don’t be dismayed if you don’t have a steamer. Dave & I figured a great way to improvise. All you’ll need is a large stock pot with a lid, a colander that will fit onto top of the pot resting in it but not submerged, and foil wrap! 

I sure hope you’ll give them a try. We made them with Dave’s incredible carnitas’ but I’m going to include some variations including a vegetarian one! Enjoy friends!

Our Favorite Recipes

Ingredients: Yields approximately 25 to 30 Tamales

To make carnita’s you will need: 

1~ 3.5 to 4 pound pork butt.

Click this LINK for recipe

Shred carnitas and save the broth for the masa dough

For Tamales: 

25 to 30 corn husks~ choose the largest ones you can from the bag

3 cups Masa Harina flour

2 ½ cups broth- Use as much of the broth as you can from the carnitas. Add water if not enough broth to equal the 2 ½ cups

If you are changing the protein up, then use the same broth as the protein you are using. 

*Vegetarian alternative- use vegetable broth. 

1 cup lard

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pink Himaylean salt

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp garlic salt


Chicken: Take 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts and bake or boil until done; shred meat for filling

Beef: Roast a 4 to 5 pound chuck or rump roast; when done shred meat for filling

Vegetarian: Use vegetable shortening and vegetable broth

Alternatives include:

~Black beans, blackened whole kernel corn, chili’s, & queso shredded cheese~ make a black bean paste using the cheese and some sour cream.

~Diced Roma tomatoes, green onion, whole kernel corn, Queso fresco cheese crumbled, turmeric paste, and cilantro

Of course there are many other options, let me know what you will use in the comments below.

To make the masa dough:

In a bowl beat on high for 5 minutes the broth and masa harina flour; set aside for 20 minutes

While masa dough is resting:

In another bowl whip lard for about 3 to 4 minutes until light and fluffy.

In another bowl while masa dough & lard are resting, soak the corn husks in warm water; rest a small plate on top of the husks so they remain submerged.

Here are all the toppings we used!

What toppings do you like? Let me know is the comments below!

After the 20 minutes are up, blend all the spices and the lard into the masa dough until evenly blended. The consistency should be similar to smooth peanut butter.

Drain the water from the corn husks and shake excess water off; remove to a plate and set aside.

In a large stock pot, fill ⅓ way full with hot water; bring it to a boil on high heat covered. This will heat up while you are making the tamales.

In an assembly line manner line the husks, masa dough, and meat.

Take a husk and place it in the palm of your hand with the pointed side facing up, and with the curved side up. It will almost seem like a bowl; take a spoonful, about a ¼ cup of the masa dough and spread over the bottom half of the husk evenly; take about the same amount of meat and place in the center of the husk half way up like the masa dough.

Now, take the right side of the husk and fold over towards the left, then fold the left side over the folded portion, then take the pointed end and fold down to make sort of an envelope; gently compress the mixture so it is evenly distributed in the husk; set aside fold side down in a colander. Repeat the process until all your husks are filled or the colander is full. 


The water in the stock pot should be boiling or close to it; turn the fire off now.

Place the colander snugly into the pot. It should not be touching the water. 

Place the lid for the pot over the tamales in the colander.

Cover the colander with foil wrap down around the handles, being sure not to cover the pot handles. You don’t want the steam to escape as that is what will be cooking the tamales.

Turn the heat back on high and steam for 1 hour; check the water level every 20 minutes by carefully lifting the colander up out of the pot using pot holders. If more water is declining, add hot water as needed making sure the colander will not be setting in the water.

PRO TIP: I kept a second pot of water heating so when I needed to add water to the pot the tamales were cooking in, I could simply remove the colander and pour hot water in without skipping a beat!

When the tamales are done, remove the colander from the pot and place on a plate; remove the foil wrap; let set for about 15 to 20 minutes to further set up.

Check out some of the yummy sauces we used on our tamales!

Serve with refried beans and some Mexican dirty rice! 

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Until next time remember to

Eat fresh, shop local & have a happy day,


Organization 101 Day 10: Room by Room Organization~ Let’s talk about your Family or Living Room!

“There is nothing more calming than an organized home.”— Unknown

In my previous post on Room by Room Organization~ The Kitchen and Pantry, I mentioned the kitchen is the heart of the home. I genuinely believe that, however the living room or family room is where snuggles and relaxation happen. 

After a long day at work or school, then home to prepare or help with dinner it feels mighty good to just flop down on a comfy couch or oversized chair and just take a deep breath… relaxation.

Some of you may have young kids, some of you may be single, some of you may be in the golden years of your life… either way, that flop just feels pretty dang good some days!

My Living Room

The living or family room, whichever you call it says a lot about the character and style of the homeowner(s). Is your decorating style shabby chic, modern, eclectic, industrial, farmhouse, or something else? The style will inevitably dictate the type of accents you use.

My family this holiday season! Where is Frankie!!!!

My style is a mix between Industrial & Farm House. I love the metal & wood features the Industrial style offers. I also adore enamelware and cozy fabrics. I also love botanicals & birds… so,  I think I pull it together fairly well. Wallpaper coming back into style didn’t hurt my feelings either lol! Don’t hate me, but my house has a couple and I actually loved them, so I kept them. 

1. Extra blankets are always a nice touch! I mean can you really have too many blankets LOL!!! I keep about six in a cute tote rolled up tucked away in a corner.

No matter what your style is and how you incorporate it into your home, it is a reflection of what is appealing to your eye and soul. They say the eyes are a mirror into a person’s soul, well I think the home can be this as well.

2. Bookshelves hold decorative elements and books too 😀 I like to showcase special items in mine. Balance is the key.

The family room is the cozy spot in the home where each member can curl up with a good book, or share & talk about stuff.

3. Fireplace mantel in my living room holds several Apothecary bottles that match my decor. I collect these wonderful treasures and have them scattered in just about every room in my home.

“Being organized is really important in a fast-paced life while we have no time to deal with clutter. Be it physical or emotional clutter, it tends to make us sad and depressed or frustrated.” Julie Hage LifeOrganizing

I like my living room to be tidy. Here are some Walk Through tips for the Living Room:

  1. At the end of the day make sure all the throw pillows on the couch are neat and where they should be.
  2. Put any blankets away folded neatly and put back in the basket.
  3. Make sure there are no dirty glasses or plates left from snacks.
  4. If you have kids, then be sure to have them help you with this. Remember the Walk Through? Bag & basket in hand!  The concept is very simple to apply and it is one that my children completely understand. The walk through is simply going through a room and picking up AND putting away everything that is out of its place. If you need a reminder or missed that post, click HERE to read!
  5. Tidy any items that may have been knocked out of place in the room. 

Many of the topics I discuss in this series I learned from an incredible lady named Marla Cilley, A.K.A. The Flylady. Her book, “Sink Relections” taught me how to incorporate all these lessons.

Keep posted for the next in the series as we look at Room by Room Organization Bedroom & Closets!

If you missed my last post on Room by Room Organization~ The Kitchen & Pantry, click HERE to read Part 1 and HERE to listen to Part 2 at my Podcast.
Jump on over to my Podcast & SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss an episode!

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Happy Day,


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Garden Open House: Plus my homemade ranch dressing and fresh garden tea recipes


It’s been a secret dream of mine… to have a garden open house that is.

We moved into our farmhouse seven years ago. It was an abandoned foreclosed home with most of the windows busted out and an interior that said a lot about the previous owners- nothing good! We looked at the house for the first time in the middle of winter, little did I know there wouldn’t be a garden to find.

As for trees and shrubs, there was one very large and beautiful maple tree and an apple tree in the back yard, a nice hedge of antique hyrangeas on the side of the house and a couple lilac bushes. Not bad for some, but not near what my heart desired.

Breakfast Patio8 emailver

I’ve shared the creation of all the gardens here in my blogs except the patio. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the first two years labor. It was a big job and being busy with the other things in our life, it ended up taking three years… we finished just last month!


Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now...

Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now…

Over the years my garden’s have evolved as have I… my likes and my tastes have grown and are depicted in my cottage style gardens. I love simply being in them… breathing the aromas that surround me… listening to the wind whisper through the leaves… watching the hummingbirds busily work. My gardens are simply my sanctuary.


So, an open house… now that will be an undertaking I’m sure. I’ve read about and attended several… and secretly dreamed, “Some day… some day I can share my gardens…”



So when will I say that the time has arrived? I don’t know… so I think I’ll just create a plan of action right here with all of you and maybe a Pinterest board of my dreams, LOL- you can follow me there too at For Dragonflies And Me @ Pinterest.

Lets start with the INVITATION… garden themed of course. I plan on using vintage prints of botanicals with some pretty ribbons. You’ll need to decide who you are planning to invite: will it be just close friends and family? neighbors? What about your Facebook, Twitter, Blog followers and whatever other social media sites/groups you may be involved with? You can send out a formal invitation using snail mail and/or via email/FB/Twitter, etc.
Host A Cookie Exchange Luncheon, Making The Invitation and Some Yummy Cookie Recipes!

Have a Guest Book ready for the guests to sign. I plan on using a pretty garden style notebook/journal like this one.
[caption id="attachment_1649" align="alignnone" width="225"]Garden themed journal can be used as a guest book

A ‘Thank You Gift’ is a special touch that your guests will appreciate. I make blank stationary photo-greeting cards with many of my photographs to sell at market. These are a useful and beautiful gift that your guest will appreciate.

When you’re guests arrive, have a cute chalk board set up on an easel to ‘Welcome’ and direct them.
[caption id="attachment_1647" align="alignnone" width="180"]Photo credit to Mary Jane's Farm Photo credit to Mary Jane’s Farm

Creating the MENU is next and the time of year should determine what will be on it. If you have your own garden, try to use things that you’ve grown. This is the menu and photo’s from one of my recent get-to-gethers.
~Watermelon bowl with mixed fruit served on a green Depression glass cake plate.
~Artisan goat cheese served in antique tea cups with garden themed spreaders served on platter with several varieties of crackers on an elevated platter.
~Fresh garden salad served on pretty platter with dressings served in mini cream pitchers and matching bowl served on a platter as well.
~Fresh home made Garden Tea served in my bee hive drink jug

I made tags stating the flavors of each dressing and goat cheese and attatched it to the handle of cups and pitchers.

Put utensils separately in Terra cotta pots along with napkins in a slightly larger one. Place all these in a fabric lined long handled basket along with throw away trays.

The Table should be as special as the menu…
~Use a quilt for the table cloth. If you plan on having several small tables, use a mix of cute sheets or table clothes overlaid with pretty linens. This is one of my favorite quilts to use. It can be used for spring, summer or fall!

A pretty centerpiece is the final touch for the table…and don’t forget candles. Here I’ve placed two scented jar candles in Terra cotta pots to go along with the theme.

~Bouquets should be made with whatever is blooming in your gardens…
Peonies in blue mason jars are beautiful and such an elegant contrast
Hosta leaves are timeless and will last for weeks in the vase…mix different varieties of height and colors for interest.
~Having a few welcoming area’s for guests to sit and visit is always a nice touch…
Room for two in the grill station.
Three old metal chairs around a cozy fire bowl in the patio
Our patio table complete with a high chair 😉
Neil built this swing frame beside our fire pit. It’s more child friendly than adult… Seating for six around the fire…very cozy in our over sized chairs. I typically use cute sheets or table clothes as seat covers.

Here are my home made Ranch Dressing and Garden Tea Recipes… enjoy friends

Ranch Dressing
2 cups Mayonnaise DO NOT exchange for Miracle Whip or Salad Dressing!!!!
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp. dry parsley or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped finely
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika

Combine mayo and milk; whisk together until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and refridgerate for at least an hour so flavors can blend.
*Note: It will thicken, but if you want it a bit thicker add 1 Tbsp. of mayo at a time until desired consistency; if too thick do the same, but with milk.

Fresh Garden Tea Concentrate
8 cups water
4 cups raw organic sugar
6 cups tea leaves
mint tea

Bring water and sugar to a hard boil for 5 minutes; add tea leaves and remove from heat. Cover and let steep 5 to 8 hours.

TO MAKE: combine 1 part tea concentrate to 2 parts cold water.
You can freeze the concentrate for up to a year, so if you have lots of tea growing, you can enjoy this all year long.

So, now we have a plan of action… just need to get all the projects done!
This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden... follow the link for an easy how-to!
Happy Day,