Monday, November 09, 2015

Balsamic Glazed Hanger Steaks:

I'm going to let you in on a little secret today.  It's a secret that was told to me years ago and I've never forgotten it. I was looking for steaks one day at my local grocery store for a special dinner I would be preparing that evening for friends. I couldn't decide if I wanted to go with Ribeyes or Porterhouses and kept picking them up and putting them back as I looked over the marbling in each pack. That's when I heard someone whisper, "go with a Hanger steak and you'll never look for those popular cuts again."I

It was my favorite meat cutter.  He had come to my rescue so many times over the years in helping me pick the right cuts of meat as well as giving me tips on preparing them. I considered him my expert for all meat and poultry and fish. And now he was telling me about a steak I had never heard of.  "What's a Hanger steak I asked?"

     He went on to explain that there was only one Hanger steak per cow and you will also hear it referred to as "Butcher's steak"  because butchers and chefs have long knowingly saved this juicy steak for themselves. And it's about half the price of a good strip, porterhouse, or rib eye steak.  Enough said.  I took home my first hanger steak that day and have never looked back!  

     My verdict?   Forget tenderloins, porterhouse, ribeyes and sirloins....I'll take a hanger steak any day.  It has been my favorite cut for all these years!  It's a winner in every aspect. It's easy to cook and quite versatile, just a quick sear in a hot pan or on a grill is all it needs.

       Today, I cooked up a wonderful Hanger Steak inspired by one of my favorite vinegars from Star Fine Foods, Modena Gold Edition Balsamic Vinegar.

Balsamic Glazed Hanger Steaks:

     2 lb. hanger steaks
     2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
     3 shallots, thinly sliced
     1 bay leaf
     1 teaspoon coriander seeds
     2 fresh thyme sprigs
     salt and pepper to taste
     ¼ cup dry red wine

To marinate the steaks, in a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, shallots, bay leaf, coriander and thyme. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place the steaks in a baking dish and pour the marinade over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. 

Remove the steaks from the marinade and place on a wire rack to drain. Reserve the marinade.  Heat a 12 inch grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, lightly brush with olive oil. Add the steaks to the hot skillet or pan and sear for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Reserve the marinade. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Remember the steak will continue to cook a bit while resting. 

Meanwhile, pour marinade into the same skillet over medium heat. Pour in 1/4 cup of red wine and  bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes until sauce reduces. Remove from heat. After steak has rested, slice it against the grain into 1/2 inch slices. Spoon sauce over the top and serve.

    Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

You can get Star Balsamic Vinegar of Modena- Gold Edition in select Walmart stores and online at:

Star Fine Foods now has a promo code for all Welcome Home fans that will give you a 10% discount on anything you order online. Just enter WELCOMEHOME10 at checkout! 

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Help Fix Katie's Broken Heart

So many of you have asked if you can join me on my journey to help Katie and be a part of fixing her broken heart. The answer is yes. 

Katie now has a Go Fund Me page for anyone that wants to be a part of this fight to save her life. We have a long road ahead and unfortunately it is all of pocket expense right now that in only two weeks has reached the $2,500 mark.

 If you would like to join in my fight to save Katie's life please go to her very own Go Fund Me page at:

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Mini Pumpkin Pound Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love these mini cakes to give as gifts during the holidays.  They are so moist and the frosting is so creamy, you will want to make them every year!  I use a mini loaf pan, but you can use a standard size loaf pan if you want to make a larger cake. 

Mini Pumpkin Pound Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 1/2 cup all Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup c. Fat Free Vanilla Yogurt
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 cup Canned Pumpkin

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan, set aside. Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, and nutmeg, into a mixing bowl. Set aside.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, yogurt, and egg whites. Whisk thoroughly until blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Stir until completely incorporated.

  • Pour into regular loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Or bake for only 25 minutes if you choose to use mini pans as I did.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, about 3 3/4 cups before sifting
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sprinkling of cinnamon

Using a mixer, combine all ingredients except for cinnamon and blend well.  You can spread on top of cooled cake or pipe on your frosting as I have done in the photo.  Follow with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home 

Here's a great set of mini loaf pans that you can buy at Amazon for only $8.75 while supplies last.  I used these pans to make these mini pound cakes and I love them! 

Click on this link to read more:
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Simple Italian Antipasto

The men in my family love a great antipasto (what man doesn't love salami and cheese?)  I make a simple one with the right blend of flavors and textures and it's gone in just a few minutes! This easy recipe will have you creating an antipasto as good as any you'd find in good Italian restaurant. Just toss together your favorite meats and cheeses and add some Star Olives in their convenient pouches and you'll have an Antipasto that everyone will enjoy!

Simple Italian Antipasto

1/4 pound sliced ham, cut into 1-inch chunks or pieces
1/4 pound sliced Genoa or other hard salami, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half


3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Star Fine Foods Golden Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Star Fine Foods Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/4 cup Star Fine Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a medium bowl, whisk all above ingredients until well blended. Pour immediately over antipasto salad. Refrigerate and allow the flavors to meld for at least an hour before serving.

Feel free to add:

1 jar Pepperoncini Peppers, drained and chopped
1 jar of Artichoke hearts drained and chopped
1/2 pound of sliced pepperoni

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

The STAR Farmer’s Market Olive pouches are available at Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, Albertsons (Southern California), Safeway (Northern California) and Savemart stores and online at

Star Fine Foods now has a promo code for all Welcome Home fans that will give you a 10% discount on anything you order online. Just enter WELCOMEHOME10 at checkout! 

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Good morning. Where do I start? The last few days have been a roller coaster ride with my emotions all over the place. I guess, I fit all the studies of how humans respond to the grief of being shot in the heart. First I was shocked and devastated and thought this can't be happening. How can this happen to my baby girl, the joy of my life?

Then I was in denial and decided this must be a mistake. She was just running and playing a few days ago. This is my lifeline. My only hope of hanging on in such a cold and cruel world. She is my ray of hope and my sunshine on a cloudy day. This is a mistake.

Then the fear. The absolute fear that grips you around the neck and chokes you so hard you can't breathe ....or eat or sleep or function as a human being. You are frozen and can do little else but stare into space. You stay still and quiet and pray it will subside just long enough for you to go on for a few more minutes at a time.

Next came the anger and frustration. How could 11 veterinarians over the last 8 years fail to pick up on this? Why did they constantly reassure me that I had nothing to worry about when I talked about checking on her heart murmur to see if it was getting worse or better. And then anger at yourself for not being more forceful.

And then the worst emotion comes to visit. Guilt. The guilt at not taking charge myself and allowing my baby girl to suffer all these years with something that could have been treated long ago had I known. Guilt in not picking up any signs or changing doctors when I left feeling that I was not sure she was getting the best treatment for any ailment she might have had over the years.

But then it starts to turn. Next came hope. And oh how powerful that emotion is. It came from reading so many comments and emails and messages from others who have gone through the same thing and were able to spend more years with their fur babies with the right medicines, diet, supplements, a great doctor and lots of prayer. They did whatever it took to prolong life and it worked. The majority reminded me that Veterinarians are humans and do the best they can but God is the almighty that makes all the final decisions.

Through those messages of hope my survival instinct set in. It came on quite suddenly yesterday morning when I woke up and saw my sweet baby Kate laying there looking back at me with her sparkly eyes and her wagging little stump of a tail. She was back and she was ready to fight if I was. And I held her and I prayed to God to give me the energy and the stamina to fight and travel this long road ahead. I thanked him for listening to all the prayers coming from people out there that don't even know me. People who believe in him so strongly and and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can change the course of life in a heartbeat.

I thanked him for giving me Katie, my constant reminder of his own love for me. An everlasting and faithful love that never changes. An unconditional love that is strong and loyal beyond all reason. She is a reminder that I am loved in spite of my short comings and all my flaws. She is there to remind me that I have comfort whenever I need a friend. Her love for me reminds me that God's love will never change and will be with me until the end.

And then it happened. The mission....

I have been told that I have determination and drive like no other. When I set my mind to accomplish something there is nothing that can block me. Add in that unusually high dose of tenacity that God happened to mix into the equation when he created me and you have a powerful woman who doesn't give up.

My friends say I am the equivalent to a stampede of wild elephants coming at you at about 100 miles per hour. I am a steam roller, a human bulldozer and there is nothing, short of death, that can stop me when I am on a mission. So yesterday, I rolled up my sleeves and began my fight for Katie. Out came the notebooks, calendars, schedules and books on dog health. Up came the internet to educate myself on diet and medicines that can beat the odds. Calls were made to dog food companies to try and find a low sodium food.....there is none. Then searches for how to make my own healthy dog food that can fight heart disease in dogs. Next came getting other opinions and calling some other veterinarians in the area to ask questions I needed answered. And then the big one....the task of "finding Dr. Ho." Sounds like a movie title, doesn't it?

Dr. Ho was Katie's doctor for the first 3 years of her life. She adored Katie and said many times that she was unlike any other patient she had. For some reason she was drawn to her and loved when she came in for her visits. But there was a falling out at the hospital where she worked and she left for good. We were so sad to hear that she had moved out of town and eventually we lost track of her. Then came the years of going to vet after vet and never finding anyone like Dr. Ho for Katie.

But yesterday I came to realize God's hand is in this! He led me right to her. There she was at another hospital out of town but still reachable for us to get to. I called the busy hospital where she practices and left a message telling her who I was and hoping she remembered Katie. The message told of our new challenge and I asked if she could call me back because I am in need of a primary care veterinarian that can work with the cardiologist and get this game plan started. Less than an hour later the phone rang and that familiar voice said, "Do I remember my Katie? How can anyone ever forget Katie?"

We went on to talk for over an hour and set up a game plan for Katie's treatment. We will meet in two weeks, once the medicines have really kicked in and we will fight and do whatever it takes to prolong Katie's life and keep her happy. We will put her on the right diet and adjust the medicines and give her supplements that have proven to reverse some of the damage. We will do this. We will fight for Katie she said.

Katie is a high spirited little dog with so much spunk. She is a fighter. Dr. Ho, after looking at the report and films, said she has been uncomfortable for a long time with this much damage and she hides it from you. It finally got to her after all these years and right now she is just tired and a little weak. But she added, she is a fighter and any other dog couldn't have made it this far without so many horrible symptoms.

Dr. Ho said the fact that Katie has a hearty appetite and is showing no symptoms other than heavy breathing says a lot about her own drive and tenacity. She is not about to leave her Mom right now and needs every bit of strength we all have just to help her get her energy back through this treatment. She said Katie and I are both warriors and we can fight this thing and win.

We have had to make a few adjustments over the last few days but she is such an intelligent little girl that she has made it easy every step of the way.  She fully understands that we are working together to get her better. For example,   it's very hard for me to make it up and down the steps with my injured knee and so carrying a 22 pound dog in my arms was painful and scary. I had to come up with a plan.  I found a bag that she fits in perfectly.  I keep it on the floor and from day one, when she needs to go out she will walk, she will go over and crawl inside the bag and sit there waiting for me to come and pick up the handles and carry her downstairs.  When she is finished doing what she needs to do outside, she walks back to the bag and crawls in and waits for me to pick up the handles and carry her back in again.  Amazing instinct and it has made things so much better for both of us.

This morning, Katie is up and in her toy box looking for her talkie ball. She just ate every bit of her breakfast and her favorite turkey treat. She is laying on her favorite pillow and looking out the window at the birds around the feeder. She is getting back to the happy little girl she has always been. She is gaining strength and it seems the meds are working as she is breathing so much better today. She is spunky and wants to play a little but we still have to keep her as still as we can. She is allowed to walk around a little but no playing or running or going up and down the stairs on her own for a while.

Cooper cannot visit for two weeks or longer because he causes her great stress. He steals her things and taunts her and that is the last thing we need right now. So to keep her calm he has to stay away.....not sure how long. And that will be near impossible as he loves her so much and is doing whatever he can to get to her and all her belongings!

So we are on our way......and I mentioned some things it will take on my part with drive and determination and tenacity and a ton of strength to get this done. What I failed to mention is the most important and most powerful thing of all. Prayer. God is listening my friends. He is hearing all your prayers come in loud and clear and he is answering them every minute. He has given me the strength and hope and faith I need to get through this so far. But fear is powerful and it can engulf you at any second without warning and make you have doubt that can weaken you. I beg you all to keep praying for me and Katie.
We can't do this without your prayers.
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Thursday, October 08, 2015


Katie was sent home soon after the diagnosis yesterday from the veterinary cardiologist and put on a heart medicine called Pimobendan to help it do its job better and to hopefully prolong her life. She is also on Lasix to get rid of the fluid in her heart and lungs that made her breathe so heavy. And there is a blood pressure medicine to keep her pressure normal and keep her heart from working too hard. Her activities are being monitored closely and she is not allowed to run, jump, or play too much for a week. She cannot be stressed for any reason nor can she overly exert herself until these meds show they are doing their job.

Here is the hard part: She is so little and depends so much on me to take care of her that it is killing me when she just sits and stares at me and I have no idea what she wants. I run through the gambit of maybes, does she want a drink, is she hungry, does she need to go out, does she want a treat? If I hit the right question, she responds. Not this time.  She just stares at me and it is killing me inside.

Here is the mystery. For the damage she has and the fact that she was in congestive heart failure, no one can explain why she has had NO symptoms up until the very moment when she began to breath heavily after running up the steps. In her condition, she would have been losing a lot of weight, not eating, vomiting, diarrhea, and so lethargic I would have known something was off. But there was nothing. Her appetite has been great, she runs and plays as always. No warnings whatsoever.

And today she is breathing better. She is eating her food and carrying around her talkie ball as usual and snacking on her favorite turkey treats. She is napping as usual throughout the day and drinking more water and going out to pee a lot because of the lasix. She gets carried down in her own special bag that she gets in herself when she has to go out so she lets me know it is time. She is walking around as if nothing is wrong other than Mom won't let her do much of anything and my Mom cries a lot.

If anyone has any information or experience on this condition that you can share please do. I need to find hope and while I know that prayer and a miracle is the answer right now, I still need to hear there is hope. Have any of you had experience with this illness and a happier outcome?

You can comment here. Or if you like, you can also email me at and I will answer.
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The Power Of Prayer

You know, they say that hope and faith is everything. It is our foundation and what keeps us going when we have to weather a storm that we feel is so huge we can't possibly survive. Sometimes when the storm is too much for us to bear, we lose sight of the hope and faith that will pull us through.

Those are the times that we need to go to God and ask him to help us find it. And it is then that you realize how helpless you really are. It is then that we are reminded that we are talking to the almighty. The all powerful. The alpha and omega. The one that created oceans and mountains and all of life. He is the creator of you and all that is around you. He is the beginning and the end. He is the very hope and faith that has taken us through every storm. There is nothing he can't do. There is no storm so big he can't handle. He is the hope and faith that carries us through.

I need hope and faith right now. I need a miracle. I need your prayers more than ever. I need one huge circle of prayer to get me through a massive storm and I am asking all of you to talk to God with me. I know he heard your prayers before. I know he listened and performed a miracle right here at Welcome Home that we still don't understand when Katie got so sick the last time and prayers brought her out of it with no explanation. So I know he heard all of you.

My Storm....

My little Katie, has been given only about a year to live. We knew all along she had a small heart murmur but have been told for years not to worry as it is something that is common in dogs. We would watch it closely and make sure that it never caused any problems. Never once did anyone suggest we find out what caused it. Until yesterday. When she started breathing so hard and could not make it up the stairs. I took her to the vet immediately and they ran tests. And these words .... "Heart disease. Dangerously enlarged. Irreversible damage, about one year to live if we work hard at prolonging her life with medications."

Those words will not leave my mind. They will not let me sleep or eat or function as a normal human being. They play over and over again in my head and I can't get rid of them. I am in complete shock. A train hit me head on when I didn't see it coming. They came out of nowhere and they won't leave me alone. They are swallowing up all my hope and faith and killing my very soul. To say devastated is an under statement right now. She is my life and my joy. She is my only family. My love and my soul mate. She is my life.

And I am weak. I need hope and faith and love and comfort and all that goes with the armor to weather a storm this large. But most of all I need your prayers for a miracle. I know it is possible. I witnessed it just in May of this year when Katie couldn't walk and no one knew why. We watched her get up one morning and run and play when none of the doctors could figure it all out. We called it a Welcome Home miracle. And that is what I am asking for again.

Please pray for me and my baby girl, Katie. You all know her from here at Welcome Home. And if you know me you know she is my life and my everything. I need hope in knowing Katie will be okay and God can carry us both through this storm. And I need faith to know he will. I need to be reminded doctors don't know everything....but God does. And God can move mountains.

And when he hears all our prayers for this precious little girl and a woman who loves her more than life, he will.
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