Spicy Cream Cheese Pinwheels

This dish is another favorite that I like to bring to parties and pot-lucks, because not only is it delicious, but it is easy to make ahead too.

I tend to put more seasoning in this dish than the recipe calls for, since I like spicyness and hotness in my food. So definitely feel free to do the same to suite your tastes better.

Anyhow, here is the recipe. I hope you like it!


  • 4 large spinach flour tortillas
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped red pepper
  • 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp chipotle or southwestern seasoning (I use “Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Blend”)
  • 4 tbsp chopped green onions


  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas.
  2. Divide mixture into four.
  3. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture on each flour tortilla.
  4. Starting at one end, gently roll each tortilla into a tight tube.
  5. Wrap and chill until ready to serve.
  6. To serve, unwrap roll, trim edges of tortilla and slice into eight 1-inch slices.

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Italian Tortellini Pasta Salad

This Italian Tortellini Pasta Salad is another fave of ours. I usually make it as a side dish to bring to parties, cook-outs, or pot-lucks. It’s a good side dish for events because you can make it ahead of time, it serves alot of people, and it can sit out at room temperature for awhile while everyone chats and grazes. And the real reason why it’s one of my faves is that it is super-EASY, as well as delicious.

Plus, it’s so simple to customize this dish to suite your personal taste. For example, I don’t really like olives or artichoke hearts so I skip them whenever I make this. But you can definitely skip or add whatever you like.

Check out how easy this is!


  • 1 pkg fresh cheese tortellini pasta, cooked per package directions
  • 1/2 cup ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup olives, green or black
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Pepperocini peppers, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, cut into squares
  • 1/2 cup salami and/or pepperoni, diced
  • 1/2 cup dressing, Italian or Ceasar (I prefer the Italian dressing for this)


  1. Mix all the ingredients above together in a large bowl.
  2. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator.
  3. Serve cold.

Tip: This dish gets dry pretty quickly when served. So I always bring extra dressing to toss in there if you notice it getting dry. Gives it a quick refresh and fixes the dryness so fast! (Sometimes I toss some pepperocini juice in there too, for the same purpose).

I hope you love this as much as I do!

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Marinated Tomato Cucumber Salad

Hi everyone! I haven’t posted a recipe in a long time, but I’ve been stuck at home now for a week, waiting on my daughter after her foot surgery. We can’t really go anywhere to eat these days because she’s not quite mobile enough yet. So I’ve been spending alot of time cooking at home, making all her faves.

And my marinated tomato cucumber salad is one of her faves. I enjoy it too.

tomato cucumber salad
Tomato Cucumber Salad / Image Source: Pepper V.

It’s most popular as a summer dish around here, but there are no rules at my house when it comes to food. We’ll even eat breakfast for dinner sometimes!

But here’s the recipe if you wanted to try it.

Warning: despite “salad” being in the name, and despite all the vegetables involved, this actually is not a healthy dish at all. I blame all the sugar in it. No wonder my daughter and I love it so much.


4 cucumbers, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper


1) Toss together the cucumbers, onion, and tomatoes in a large bowl.

2) Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat.

3) Bring to a slow boil, and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

4) Pour this mixture onto the chopped vegetables. The mixture might not cover the entire batch of chopped vegetables – if not, make sure to toss the vegetables frequently in the next couple of hours to ensure the flavors get absorbed evenly. The first couple hours are most important for this.

5) Refrigerate overnight. Stir occasionally to ensure flavors are well-integrated.

I hope you enjoy it too.

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7 Fun Non-Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas

7 Non-Romantic Valentine's Day Ideas

Anybody else like me, and not very enthusiastic about romance in general? If so, I have some non-romantic Valentine’s Day ideas for you…

I don’t mean to sound disgruntled about Valentine’s Day. I know that ALOT of people enjoy the candles, and flowers, and chocolates, and romance, etc for Valentine’s Day and I wish you A TON of that stuff if you enjoy it.

But that’s just not me.

My husband is lucky, because he’s not like that either. Both of us prefer a non-romantic Valentine’s Day.

I get really frustrated when shopping for a Valentine’s Day cards because everything is incredibly mushy and embellished and sounds like “the sun shines bright everyday because it’s powered by all my love for you and yadda yadda yadda…” And if I were to ever give anything that read that way to my husband, it would immediately scream INAUTHENTIC. Yes, in all caps too.

So I just get a simple blank card and write “I love you” in it. Simple. But authentic. For me.

Neither of us enjoy anything traditionally romantic, so we’ll usually end-up doing something we both enjoy instead. Some non-romantic Valentine’s Day ideas that we’ll consider this year…

  1. Going out to eat. This will definitely be a treat because we’ve eaten at home so much for the last couple years. But we’ll skip the candlelight service at a fancy steakhouse or Italian restaurant. We’ll probably end up stuffing our faces at a local BBQ or fried chicken joint with only paper napkins to clean up with afterwards. Totally up my alley. And we won’t need to dress-up or make reservations ahead-of-time.
  2. True-Crime or Horror Movie marathon. We both love this sort of stuff, especially instead of any rom-com or lovey-dovey movie. I’m still trying to pick-out some good choices for us this year, and so far I’ve found “The Tinder Swindler” on Netflix about the dark side of dating apps, and this might be the one! It comes out on Feb 2. And it involves dating too, so it fits the Valentine’s theme.
  3. Family time / games with the kids. My daughter does enjoy making a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, so I can see us doing something special for her. I’ve bought her chocolates and the stuffed bear already (um, our grocery store started stocking them as soon as Christmas was over) so she’ll receive those gifts and I’m happy for her to have them. She’ll probably want to play some games together and I’m down with that too.
  4. Pick-out and buy a large item for the home together. We’ve been putting-off buying a new kitchen table for the house because we’ve been saving money like crazy and it’s really not a necessity. Our current kitchen table is functional, just scratched-up and beat-up and I’d be embarrassed for any guests to see it. Lol, good thing we don’t have any guests! But I would enjoy picking-out and buying a new one together.
  5. Complete a household project together. There are also a few projects around the house that we’ve been putting off. Mostly because we didn’t want to spend the money, and also because we are being lazy. But, to actually complete one of these and get them scratched-off the to-do list finally would make me feel really good, and it’s definitely a non-romantic Valentine’s Day activity.
  6. Catch-up with friends! Do you have any recently-divorced or single friends that could use a pleasant distraction on this day? Give them a phone call or invite them over, or, deliver to them those nice chocolate and flowery gifts for them to enjoy instead. They don’t need to feel left-out on this day.
  7. Self-Care. Admittedly, this is the most-likely option for me on Valentine’s Day. Or, on any day really. I would love nothing more than to just tune-out everything in my head for a little while and just relax! This can be many different things to people – it can be shopping, a massage, a spa appointment, a bath, reading a book, etc…. Whatever it is that relaxes you and makes you feel a bit better about yourself (which makes you better for your loved ones too), would be a good option on this day.

But what are you all planning to do for Valentine’s Day? Are you more interested in a romantic or a non-romantic Valentine’s Day? Whatever you end-up doing, I hope you have a good time! πŸ™‚

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Dazzling Dubai Travel Destination

Dubai Travel - Desert Safari

My daughter has been asking me to plan a Dubai travel trip for us during summer break. We probably won’t go this year, as I’m waiting for the pandemic-stuff to settle down more, and I also am not going to book any Dubai travel during the summer – that’s just crazy! I would melt.

But she did get me thinking about my previous trips there so I wanted to post a simple summary of some of the activities available there for others who visit.

Desert Safari Life

I would definitely recommend spending at least a full day in the desert there. So many activities are available to choose from. There are thrilling dune rides where they race over the hills and make you feel like you’re about to tumble over but you don’t, there are camel rides, there are quad/4-wheeler rides, there is music/dancing entertainment, and authentic local meals. This is a do-not-miss experience.

Dubai Desert Safari / Image Source: Pepper Valentine
Dubai Desert Safari / Image Source: Pepper Valentine

Relaxation Life

For some relaxation, a day at the beach would be enjoyable as well. Jumeirah Beach is where I stayed and they had a popular boardwalk for shopping and dining, as well as beachfront to frolick-in if you felt like sunbathing or getting wet.

Dubai Travel – Jumeira Beach / Image Source: Pepper Valentine
Dubai Travel – Jumeira Beach / Image Source: Pepper Valentine.

For a different type of relaxation activity, you can visit the Miracle Gardens. This is the world’s largest natural flower garden and exhibits over 150 million flowers in full-bloom. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.

Dubai Travel – Miracle Gardens / Photo Source: Pepper Valentine

The Luxury Life and the Burj Khalifa

Of course Dubai is famous for its luxury reputation, so you don’t have far to go to experience any of that here. You’ll actually run into luxury at their very own airport even! And once you leave the airport, it’s still not difficult to find. Just head towards their mall or follow that incredibly tall building that you can see from every direction – the Burj Khalifa.

The Burj Khalifa is an incredible sight. It is twice as tall as the Empire State building and it’s top floor is 154. There’s an observation deck at the top too, but I could not do that as I’m terribly scared of heights. But if you can handle the height, definitely don’t miss that view! Supposedly it is so high, that you are looking DOWN at the airplanes flying.

And don’t miss checking it out at night! They do an amazing light show on the building at night. And there’s even a fountain show to music out front as well.

Dubia Travel – Mall of the Emirates / Photo Source: Pepper Valentine
Burj Khalifa / Image Source: Pepper Valentine
Burj Khalifa / Image Source: Pepper Valentine

Snow Life

Believe it or not, if you need a break from the desert heat, you can hit the slopes and go snow skiing too! There is an indoor ski resort that has 5 slopes of varying steepness and difficulty, including a black diamond run! The height of this indoor mountain is the equivalent of a 25-story building.

I didn’t go skiing on any of my visits, I just observed the play area for awhile. I wouldn’t enjoy snow skiing by myself anyway. But I intend to take my daughter here to spend an entire day in the snow. She’ll love it!

Dubai Travel – “Ski Dubai” / Image Source: Pepper Valentine

Local Life

I personally enjoy interacting with the local energy and the residents. I like getting away from the tourist-traps and getting away from the richer target audience so I can get a better perspective on how the “normal” people live.

A good place to do that in Dubai is their Souk Markets, where the local vendors setup their small shops and you can find some handmade and unique pieces that you’d never see with a brand-name.

Dubai Travel – Souk Markets / Image Source: Pepper Valentine
Dubai Travel – Souk Markets / Image Source: Pepper Valentine

Night Life

And there is also a vibrant dance club scene at night at Dubai, if that’s your thing. It’s actually quite the party city! But there are very strict rules here about drinking and being drunk and being debauched in public however, so if you cannot behave in this particular scenario, then I advise you to avoid it. You can thank me later for that advice!

Dubai Travel – Nightlife / Image Source: Pepper V.

So that’s a quick summary of just a FEW of the activities that can be pursued in Dubai. There are MANY more, of course. And I plan to hit even more of them when I take my daughter here in the future.

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Share Your Fantasy Travel Bucket List

Hi everyone! I was thinking about my travel bucket list today because my daughter is starting to ask me to take her places for summer break. The places my daughter is asking me to take her for summer break is:

  • England
  • France
  • Dubai

She knows about these places because all her favorite YouTubers always visit there.

But I don’t know if I’ll book anything just yet because covid, and all the covid rules, are evolving so much that I’m worried my plans will get ruined. I like to have alot more confidence in my plans when I make them, so I’ll wait a bit longer for stuff to settle down. The last thing I want to do is take vacation days off work and spend $$$ only to arrive at my destination and find out that I have to quarantine the whole entire time, or some things I wanted to do are closed or don’t have capacity for me.

But her to-go list isn’t necessarily the same as my to-go list. I’ve already been to England and Dubai so those would be repeats for me, but I’d love to go back someday so I can take my daughter with me. I posted about my Dubai trip already here: Dubai Travel Destination.

My travel bucket list would look more like:

  • Iceland
  • Japan
  • Russia

And I’m just sticking to the top 3 because my ACTUAL list is more like, 100 places long.

How about you all? What are your top 3 destinations in your travel bucket list?

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Health Updates and Surgery Next Week

Hi everyone!

Remember when I was really upset in November because my 10yr old daughter was severely sick and I was getting really frustrated by not having any answers despite visiting multiple doctors, specialists, hospitals, and even the Emergency Room?

Well… we MAY have an answer now so I wanted to post about it here so I’m not leaving all of you hanging.

My daughter started having serious dizzy spells that would last several days. The dizzy spells were so severe that she couldn’t sit up or stand up and she couldn’t attend school. The first time this happened was in August and we took her to the doctor and all they did was test her for Covid and when she had a negative result, they told us it was probably just another weird virus and she should rest it off.

It did go away by itself in about 3-4 days. So we figured it probably WAS a weird virus. Even though she never had a fever and I always thought viruses came with fevers. Hm…

Then it happened to her again in September. We took her back to the doctor and again, all they did was test her for Covid and when she had a negative result, they told us it was probably just that weird virus acting up again, that it probably never went fully away out of her system and it was just flaring-up again.

And it did go away by itself in about 3-4 days. So… we figured their explanation was plausible, but we were starting to doubt it.

Then it happened to her again in November. And this is when I started to freak out because there was no way I was believing this was a virus anymore. And she was completely non-functional during these bouts of dizziness, all she could do was lay around non-stop, and just broken-down by it all. Unable to do anything else. It was terrible to see your child like that.

We took her to the doctor again, and this time they referred her to a cardiologist specialist since they found that her blood pressures were dropping too low when she was sitting-up or standing-up. But the earliest appt I could get for the cardiologist was a month away! But who can wait that long when your child is seriously impaired and in distress?!

And this time she didn’t get better after 3-4 days. On day 7 with no improvement, I took her to an Urgent Care and the doctors there sent her to the Emergency Room.

Not much happened at the Emergency Room, except that they ran a bunch of tests and confirmed that she needed to see several specialists. They couldn’t get us a sooner appointment with a cardiologist, which ticked me off. But they did get me some sooner appointments with neurologists and ENTs to help rule-out other issues.

We had our appointments with the neurologists and the ENTs, and the best theories they had was that she may be experiencing migraines that present as dizzyness, or she might be having inner-ear issues. But none of those theories really made sense to me when I looked at her symptoms (kinda like the original “weird virus” didn’t make sense either).

And this time she was sick for a whopping 14 days in a row! So her issue was getting WORSE, not better.


And just because it is necessary context, I’ll interrupt here with some background info you need to know.

My daughter was also previously a very successful athlete. She started gymnastics at 2 years old, and she started soccer at 3 years old. The last full year before Covid, she was on the #1 ranked competitive soccer team in our State for her age group. She was physically-active on a competitive level every single day of her life. Covid didn’t slow that down very much, because we live in a State that didn’t experience the strict lockdowns and her coaches were strict about the team’s performance.

But she started having serious pain in her feet in January 2021, which was being aggravated by the wear-and-tear of the competitive sports. By June last year, the pain in her feet was intolerable and she had to quit both gymnastics and soccer, per doctor’s orders. She’s been seeing a specialist for this as well, and they’ve found that she has an extra bone in both feet which is crowding out everything as it grows. It’s called the “accessory navicular” and they’ve tried everything to reduce the pain but at this point, there’s nothing left to try except surgical removal of the extra bone.

THEN, she started getting these dizzy-spells in August and we put all her foot-issue-stuff on hold.


So we finally made it to her cardiologist appointment and here’s where we started to get some answers. He seemed pretty confident about this, and, his theory is also making alot of sense. He thinks she has a type of Dysautonomia, which is an issue with the autonomous nervous system and it’s affecting her blood pressure from being regulated correctly, especially when sitting-up or standing. It’s really scary to look-up online, so I don’t recommend it. But this doctor is doing a good job at keeping us pretty calm about it.

He thinks it’s been triggered by her sudden de-conditioning when she quit all her sports. And his treatment plan is to get her doing high-intensity exercise everyday again. She can’t physically do that right now with the pain in her feet, so we’ve resumed proceeding with her foot-surgery to get her up and running again. And, her first surgery is on Wednesday next week! They have to do one foot at a time unfortunately, to keep her out of a wheelchair during rehabilitation.

In the meantime, her cardiologist has her on some medication to help regulate her blood pressure until she can exercise again. But once she’s 100% active again, she should be able to stop the medication, which makes me really happy. I’m definitely adverse to her being on meds for the rest of her life, if we can prevent it.

So that’s the situation we’re in right now. I’m nervous about the surgery, but I see it as the light at the end of the tunnel. And I hope it does fix her pain in her feet!