Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pretty Exciting For a SAHM!!

I've always loved to cook, but I really threw myself into it about four years ago.  I think it started when I was out of work for nine months- it filled the time and made me feel useful.  Boy did I send a lot of baked goods to work with my (now) husband during that stretch!  Since then a lot has changed...I've gone back to work, gotten married, gotten pregnant, had a son, quit my job to be a homemaker, gone from long-time user of Allrecipes.com (I've quite literally used the site since it's first inception as "cookierecipe.com" 16 years ago, though I didn't even register until that stretch of unemployment) to Allrecipes Allstar (a gig that even got me an amazing trip to Seattle last year!)... the past few years have been quite an adventure!

The Allrecipes Allstars program is something I have truly been blessed to get to be a part of.  It's just so much fun!  What a lovely community of (mostly) ladies I am a part of, working with them is a true delight.  Each month we receive "assignments" and goody packages and get to work- sometimes those assignments require that we write up a blog post and share our experiences with you guys.  For many of us this has been a struggle, certainly not something that comes naturally.  Personally, it has become a nice outlet for me.  I've been able to find a balance, I think, between sharing my assignments with you and other goings on in my life.  I get a little giggly when I have a post that really takes off and I can see my page views go nuts for a bit, or when another website with a larger following than my own shares one of my posts.
On it's own, that's been a silly little thrill for a lady whose days often consist of speech therapy appointments, dirty diapers, laundry, and never-ending house cleaning.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Fall Flavor Challenge Take Two

I mentioned before that the Allrecipes Allstars are partnering with SPLENDA® Sweetener this month, something I'm pretty excited about.  We go through a LOT of SPLENDA® Sweetener in this house!

I sub it for sugar very often..in coffee, soups, sauces, salads....but to be honest, I've never- EVER- baked with it.

This was new territory to me.  I already knew that we enjoyed it in the pumpkin cookies and mini apple muffins I made last week, but I had a new apple vs. pumpkin challenge posed to me by SPLENDA® Sweetener and Allrecipes.com.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Everywhere...

It's the time of year when pumpkin-flavored everything is everywhere, and my house is no exception.  It's one of my favorite flavors any time of year, but I really embrace it in the Fall.  I've been cooking with it, baking with it, playing with it :-)  
Lotsa pumpkin.

My daughter has been begging to carve a pumpkin for weeks now...I finally caved a few days ago, knowing full well that even now there's little chance a carved pumpkin will survive until Halloween.  lol sometimes I have to make myself push logic aside for the sake of having a little fun with my daughter, though.  Life will go on if her pumpkin rots before Halloween arrives- or we'll just have to carve another ;-)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Journeys With Johnsonville

Johnsonville is an awesome company.  Period.

I work with a lot of brands through my involvement with Allrecipes, but I try very hard not to sound like an advertisement for them.  I don't recite back to you every detail that is sent to me about their product, and I certainly don't tout them if I don't believe in them.

  I believe in these guys.  For a lot of reasons, only one of which is their quality product.

This is a company that cares about their product AND their customers.  We have partnered with them before...they have been generous with us as brand ambassadors, but that doesn't really matter to you and certainly doesn't have anything to do with how I review their products.

Of course I like their generosity- I'm on the receiving end of it!  Of course I enjoy their products- who doesn't?  They're tasty and don't cost much more than my store brands!  As a brand ambassador they're fun to interact with on social media, because they're excited about our excitement and they interact with their fans.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Game Day Snacks

Until a few years ago I avoided football (most sports, really) like the plague.

    I didn't grow up watching it, so I didn't have much fun sitting there staring at the screen not understanding what was happening.  Three years ago I set out to change that and started watching it pretty much whenever it was on.  Am I the world's biggest fan?  Not by a long shot.  Do I pick my "favorite" teams based on such arbitrary things as which uniforms I think look the nicest?  lol oftentimes yes.  Nevertheless, I'm at the point where I actually enjoy watching now.  I'm not always SUPER into the game, but sometimes I enjoy the tradition it has become more than anything.

Also, it means I get to cook :-)
You have to have snacks while you're watching sports, right?

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Great Debate

This month I was invited to try out two recipes from SPLENDA® Sweetener- one made with apple, the other with pumpkin-  and to weigh in with my thoughts on the subject of which is truly the winner when it comes to my favorite Fall flavor.

Miniature Apple Muffins
Click to see the recipe on Allrecipes.com!
I've talked a lot lately about apples, and my attempts to cook my way through a full bushel of them (which I finally accomplished!!).  From apple cookies to apple pie, apple recipes really do scream "Fall" to me.  I decided to start the Fall flavor challenge with these Miniature Apple Muffins.  Miniature foods hold a special place in my heart, why is that?  They're just so adorable :-)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In Which I Put My Nerdiness On Full Display

As a kid I think there were two reasons I watched Star Trek: to spend time with my sci-fi loving dad and because I was in love with Wil Wheaton.

As a grown up?  Well, I've become the sci-fi lover myself...and I'm still a little in love with Wil Wheaton. ;-)

I was a nerd before being a nerd was trendy, and I'm cool with that at this point in my life.

 This Halloween is going to be amazing.  Why?  Because my son is going as Captain Kirk.  Yep.  My 2 year-old is going to dress as a Star Trek character before he's old enough to tell me "no."  My daughter?  Heehee...Superman.  Errr...Supergirl, I suppose that would be.

Ignore the crooked emblem, I was short on time
and lacking safety pins :-)
In the past she's been fairy princesses, Disney princesses...lots of princesses.  This year I wanted to do something different, and I figured out that as long as her costume included a big, fluffy tutu she didn't really care what she went as :-)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Comfort Foods and Loving Letters

I love pretty much everything about Fall...the weather, the decor, being able to wear sweaters, the food
We will be hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year (it makes way more sense than what we normally do, which is prepare EVERYTHING at our house and then haul it over to my MIL's) and I've already planned the entire menu, appetizers to dessert.  I have a new tablecloth and napkins hanging out in my cart on Amazon.  I'm pinning Thanksgiving centerpieces like a madwoman on Pinterest.
Leftover Turkey Soup with Rosemary Parmesan Dumplings
Click on the picture to see the recipe at Allrecipes.com!
I'm going a little crazy, right?

I know.  I'm kind of ok with that, though.  :-)

Since I still have 54 more days until T-Day (but who's counting?), I'm taking full advantage of the Autumn weather until it gets here.  That's why I decided to make turkey soup with dumplings for my family last night.  What's better than warm soup on a Fall night, right?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Guilty Pleasures and Caramel Apples

As with most people, I have a few guilty pleasure TV shows.  For some, it's reality TV.  For me, it's (don't laugh!) the occasional ABC Family show thrown into my usual mix of Doctor Who and Frasier reruns .  For a couple of my friends, it's Grey's Anatomy.  I enjoy it too, but they REALLY love it.  They invited me over to watch the season premier with them the other night and asked me to bring my favorite snack.

lol Like the note?  My husband knows how to put a smile on my face...
Favorite snack?  lol I so rarely cook the same thing twice.  With the billion apples I'm still working through on my counter, I decided to make these caramel apple bites from Christy at "...From Glitter to Gumdrops" I found on Pinterest.  The only thing I did differently was to drop the apple pieces into a bowl of lemon juice and water to prevent browning as I carved them out.