Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Warm Taco Dip

My daughter's Girl Scout troop had their Christmas party a couple of weeks ago and I found myself racking my brain for a suitable dish to bring that would be economical too.
Last time I had to bring something to a Girl Scouts function I tried out Apple Slab Pie, which is awesome, but I've been making sooooo many desserts lately I wanted to make something else.
Do you know what I love?  Tacos.  lol Big shocker there, right?  I can't imagine NOT liking tacos...
Anyway, I know the idea of a taco dip isn't exactly groundbreaking, but I really liked how this one turned out and thought I'd share the recipe with you!
I started with a layer of beans mixed with green chiles, added taco meat, cheese, toppings...yum!  Then I popped it in the oven and got it all gooey and warm right before I headed out the door.  I think next time I might add some Mexican rice to the bean mixture to make it even more tasty and scoopable!  The whole tray was polished off within an hour- a success in my book.  This is one that I'll definitely be making again- perfect Winter game-day food!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Roadtrip Sandwiches

Every year my family goes on a  super-long (16 hours!) road trip to see family. We split the trip into two days and have a blast.  No really!  Our family of 4, a minivan, and the open road- it's a recipe for good memories.  It's amazing that there hasn't been a bad experience yet- but I think that has to do with our outlook on things.  Looking at everything we come across as a memory-making experience makes everything more fun.  Even getting stuck in Memphis an extra day because of snow and ice in Arkansas last year didn't ruin our fun!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Molasses Crinkletops

Remember when I said that I was done with holiday baking for the year?

Yep, the call of the oven caught my ear again :-)

This time it was Molasses Crinkletops, a super yummy cookie that my mom makes every year.  I loved them as a kid, but I can see where the spicy flavors would turn off children- including my own.
Click to see the recipe at Allrecipes.com!
More for me, right?

Anyway, these deep brown cookies are sweet and spiced with cloves, cinnamon, and molasses.  The cocoa really rounds out their flavor.  I've always loved the way they crack on top when they cook (hence the name...).

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grandma Simpson's Spritz Cookies

I grew up halfway across the country from my Grandma Simpson, but that didn't mean we were left out when it came to her Christmas baking.  Every year we would get a box in the mail with lots of little treats- often individually wrapped to ensure that we didn't overindulge in one sitting.  My Grandma was a tiny little woman who didn't stand a chance against a strong wind :-)

Anyway, she made lots of delicious treats, but my favorite were always her Spritz cookies.  My mom and I made them together too- light, buttery dough pressed into delicate shapes through an ancient cookie press then decorated liberally with colored sugar.  Good memories with delicious results!

She passed the recipe on to me when I moved out, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I attempted them myself.  I am soooo glad I did, because they're not hard at all.  The inexpensive cookie press I bought at Michael's for around $10 has worked just fine the past three Christmases with no sign of giving out on me yet.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Citrus BBQ Chops

A couple of months ago I won a giveaway from Hudson Valley Handymom's blog- free stuff is always nice, right?

I was lucky enough to win some amazing BBQ sauces as well as two delicious rubs from Feiny's Rubs.   It's always fun to try out new flavors and products, so I definitely enjoyed playing with these.

They have a large variety of "Fein tasting foods," and I received the Citrus BBQ and Original BBQ varieties of their rubs.  

I chose to try out the Citrus BBQ rub on thick cut pork chops and wasn't disappointed- full of flavor!  I think next time I'll try it out on chicken (or even salmon!), the pairing would be great!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Eggnog Quick Bread

I'm not going to lie, I'm not a big lover of eggnog.  It's not a flavor thing, it's the consistency.  I just don't like thick, creamy drinks- ugh.  No eggnog or piña coladas for this girl!

Now, take the flavors of those drinks and put them into a baked good, and I'm a happy girl!  My father-in-law's wife makes one of the most amazing piña colada cakes I've ever had in my life *drool*- think I can get the recipe from her for a future post?

Anyway, I love the FLAVOR of eggnog too, and this eggnog quick bread really captures it perfectly.  I found the original recipe at Allrecipes.com, but- like I pretty much always do- I had to change it a little.  I've made it a more moist loaf, added a little flavor, and made it more manageable for making in large batches for gift-giving.  The original recipe makes one 9x5 loaf, but I've found that- in my mind at least- an 8x4 loaf is the perfect gift giving size.  If you divide this recipe in half you'll bake one 9x5 loaf, if you prefer...

This recipe also freezes very well if you want to make gifts ahead of time or just save some for yourself to enjoy later!


Monday, December 16, 2013

DIY No-Sew Sleeping Bags for Daughter and Doll

The only materials you need!
Layering the pieces of material, I cut them down to size
after layering and safety pinning together.
This year my daughter begged for an American Girl doll for Christmas. I understand this desire wholeheartedly, as I made the same request of my mom when when I was my daughter's age- back when there were only the three original girls- Samantha, Molly, and Kirsten.
Oh boy, did I want one of them!
However they were over $100 and there was no way I was going to get one.
Well, they're still over $100. And my daughter isn't going to get one either.
It's not necessarily the price...it's that the price is for a DOLL. OMG. lol I'm not judging any of you that have broken down and purchased one, because I've found myself at the website thisclose to ordering one several times.

I just can't make myself do it.

So I recently found myself at Target buying an Our Generation doll. A quarter of the cost, same size, and just as cute. She'll survive- and absolutely adore the doll I'm sure.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


For several years my husband begged me to make ham salad for him.  

For several years, I kept putting it off.  A salad made of...ham?  Really?

I mean...we've discussed my love of chicken salad and my love of egg salad...so it would stand to reason that I'd enjoy one made of ham too, right?  Something about the idea of it just really turned me off, though.  I found a recipe, saved it to my recipe box, and then put off making it for as long as possible.
Click on the picture to find the original recipe on Allrecipes.com!

What a mistake that was!

It turns out that as weird as ham salad sounds (I'm not alone in that, right?) it tastes amazing and it's super easy to make.  

It's nice on a sandwich, bed of lettuce, or as a spread for crackers, but my favorite way to eat it is on celery sticks.  I found the original recipe to be a great base, but slightly bland, so I've included my tried-and-true changes to the recipe below.  Definitely give this one a try, it's so tasty!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Salisbury Steak and Ground Chicken

I recently came across an amazing deal on ground chicken at the grocery store and wound up buying a HUGE amount of it for around $1/lb.  Couldn't pass that up, right?  Well, I have a few recipes with ground chicken that my family really enjoys, but after making all of them (like this one!)- and still having a freezer full of the stuff- I started searching Pinterest for ideas for the rest of it.

Click on the photo to see the recipe from The 99 Cent Chef!
That's when I found it- Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy.

 I obviously had the chicken.  I had some portobellos I needed to use.  I had a salisbury steak loving husband.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Fun and Kid-Friendly Gingerbread

Personally I love a spicy, molasses-filled gingerbread cookie.  Delicious and perfect for decorating at Christmas-time!
Click to see the recipe at Allrecipes.com!

Unfortunately, my daughter's palate is a little different than mine.  If I were to make up a batch of "real" gingerbread cookies, I'd get a wrinkled nose and they would all go to waste.  Fortunately, I discovered an awesome KID FRIENDLY gingerbread recipe!  They still have ginger and cinnamon, so I'm happy.  This recipe has butterscotch pudding mix fill in for the molasses, though.  The color is there, the touch of spice is there- they're just missing that very distinctive molasses flavor that might turn some kids off.

I made these cookies for my daughter's class to decorate last year and didn't get a single complaint, so this has definitely become my go-to recipe for gingerbread when kids are involved!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Warm Winter Breakfasts

Click to see the recipe on Allrecipes.com and save to your recipe box!
Winter may not officially start for another 19 days, but it sure feels like it's upon us already.  I know I've spent a lot of time talking about Fall over the past couple of months, but Winter's pretty outstanding too.  That's one of the things I absolutely adore about this part of the country- every season is the perfect length.  By the time I'm sick of cold Winter weather the daffodils will be peeking out from under the ground.  For now, though, I'm embracing coats and the occasional snow fall.  :-) I grew up in a part of California that allowed me to wear flip-flops almost year-round, so the changing seasons are still pretty magical for me!

I find myself making cozier breakfasts once the weather gets chilly and my daughter's absolute favorite is homemade waffles.  I usually make up a giant batch of them and just freeze any extras for easy weekday breakfasts.  This morning I found myself staring at a TON of leftover sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving and another idea for those leftovers was born:

Sweet Potato Waffles with Cranberry Maple Syrup

Um, yes.  Just yes.