Monday, December 7, 2015

Dreamy Light Wheat Rolls

Thanksgiving this year was a pretty special event.  This has been an exciting year for our family and we have so much to be thankful for- not the least of which was the ability to have family with whom we have never before had the chance to celebrate the holidays come visit our home.
It was wonderful.

I bought a 22 lb turkey (again) because I have serious issues.  My husband shook his head and asked me why we needed that much bird.
Um, go big or go home when it comes to Thanksgiving, dude.  That's my philosophy.

Anyway we decided that we would smoke the turkey and in the interest of saving on cook time I suggested that we spatchcock the beast- that's really just a fancy way of saying that you remove the backbone and butterfly it.

I have zero experience spatchcocking anything muchless 22 lb poultry specimens.  Not to mention the fact that touching raw poultry is pretty much my least favorite thing to do ever.  Thankfully my sister-in-law is a good sport and she decided she was up to the task.  I pulled up spatchcocking directions (isn't that just a fun word?), handed her the kitchen shears, and stood back.
Way back.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Tree Meringues

I have very little experience with meringue outside of the soft variety that is generally found on top of pies.  In fact, the only time I remember even trying a meringue cookie was on a plate of Christmas cookies my grandma made when I was a kid.

Lets just say I'm not exactly an expert.

I started seeing Christmas tree meringues on Pinterest awhile back and they caught my eye- so adorable!  Little green blobs of meringue dyed green and decorated.  I knew I wanted to try them.

I've made meringue pies many times over the years so I knew these cookies couldn't be too terribly difficult.  While you can mix in different flavors and colors, basic meringue is just egg whites, sugar, and something to stabilize the meringue (generally cream of tartar, vinegar, or lemon juice).  It's pretty simple.

Anyway, these cookies were too cute not to try.

The last time I went to the baking supply store for a few popcorn supplies I also took advantage of their large collection of fun sprinkles for my "trees."  I ended up with red and green confetti-like Christmas shapes, little pearlized white balls, and gold balls to top my treats.  So cute.  
Then I shoved them in the pantry and waited for Christmas cookie time...it was only October!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jalapeño Popper Mushrooms

I've professed my love of stuffed jalapeños a time or two.  Ok, maybe more than a time or two...I just went back to see which jalapeño recipes I've posted over the last few years and I found a bunch!

I think it's safe to say that jalapeños are one of my favorite vehicles for getting food into my mouth!

Another great food vehicle?  The mushroom.  I've written about those a bit as well!

They're both flavorful and delicious foods that are great for stuffing with other delicious foods.  :-)

Not to mention the fact that they're both great when you're watching your carbs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Amazingly Easy Juicy Roast Chicken

I have a history of murdering meat.

As in killing it dead.
Dry, overcooked, icky meat.
I could pull the meat 5 degrees below temp, cover it and let it rest, and still discover that it had become tough and unpleasant- every time.
It got so bad my husband cautiously asked me to stop making his beloved thick cut chops.
Seriously.  Definitely not one of my better moments.

Thankfully I don't give up easily and I wasn't about to be shown up by a piece of meat.
I'm not exactly sure what flip has switched over the past couple of months but thankfully I seem to have turned a culinary corner and my carnivorous family is extremely pleased.  Pork chops, steak, chicken...I'm killing it in a MUCH more desirable way lately.

It's kind of amazing how many times my daughter has told me how happy she is that I finally learned how to cook meat.  Even a 9 year old can appreciate the improvement.  :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Buttery Cayenne Pecans

Nuts are such a great snacking food- personally my favorite are cashews.
So good.  Roasted and salted...I can't be trusted around them.  I will eat the whole can.
In one sitting.

Thankfully I don't have any around at the moment.
No, this time it's pecans.  I'm lucky enough to get some great ones from my in-laws semi-regularly and generally have some in the freezer waiting to be enjoyed.

There are lots of yummy recipes for spiced nuts out there, but they're generally of the sweet-and-spicy variety.  I love those, but I don't always love the idea of the added sugar when I'm mindlessly snacking.  I've even tried subbing brown sugar Splenda® but it's not quite the same- and it's still a sugar blend.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Banana Split Fluff Salad

Lately my daughter has been asking me to teach her how to cook- which, of course, is an idea I'm totally on board with.  Honestly I think it has more to do with her secret aspirations to find herself on Masterchef Junior than a desire to learn any real-world skills, but I'm up for some kitchen time with my not-so little girl regardless of her motivations.
A couple of weekends ago she asked if she could help me make lunch after church- I honestly can't remember what I was making but I was in a hurry to get it done so I could get to work on popcorn orders and whatever it was was really a one person thing anyway.

Then I remembered the Banana Split Fluff Salad ingredients I'd purchased the day before and realized that she could absolutely help in the kitchen that afternoon- in fact, she could make a dish completely on her own!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Easiest Crispy Baked Chicken Wings EVER

With football season comes fun snack food, at least in our house.  I've made a bunch of yummy stuff lately, but ever since I made those low carb boneless wings with "Who Needs Buffalo?" Sauce last month I've really been craving chicken wings.

I'm a little obsessed with that sauce, truth be told.  Goodness it's good.

Anyway, while I enjoy those boneless wings and they're definitely delicious, I really enjoy a real wing too.  One that actually comes from the wing and doesn't require breading.

I've kind of shied away from making wings over the years because I really didn't feel like I knew what I was doing when I made them and I had an incredibly hard time achieving a crispy skin without frying them.  I even went so far as to remove the skin before cooking them just so they wouldn't be soggy and gross.

Have you ever tried skinning a bunch of chicken wings?
No? That's because you're normal.
Just trust me, it's a huge pain.  Plus you don't get that nice crisp outside underneath the sauce.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Iced Fudgy Chocolate Cutouts

Ok, so picture this: it's the last week of October.  My kids are excitedly punching out ghosts, bats, and other spooky Halloween shapes from the cookie dough we've just rolled out.

And I say, "Hey guys...this little bit of dough here is for me...I have some Christmas cookies to make."

You see, the day before Halloween is a little late in the game to blog about Halloween cookies.
I knew these cookies were going to be something special enough to write about...and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I found myself decorating Christmas trees, candy canes, and snowflakes in October.

But look at my willpower!  I sat on this recipe until after Thanksgiving!

Not an easy task, let me tell you- these cookies are extraordinary.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Homemade Peanutbuttery Dog Treats

When my sister and I were kids we begged for a dog.
We wanted one so very much.

Sadly, my mom was not a dog person.  Not even a little bit.
Then, one glorious day, my dad came home with the news that a doctor he worked with at the hospital had a litter of puppies that needed homes- and my mom caved.

I remember the excitement of picking out a puppy- the family had already named them all after characters from Popeye.  Olive Oyl, Sweet Pea, Brutus, Popeye...we took the quiet and calm little guy  they'd named Popeye home with us that day and he was a loyal friend to our family for the next 15 years.
This was a dog who eagerly anticipated his very own pancake every Saturday morning.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Watergate Salad

When I was younger I seemed to have this knack for having a story to go with any topic.

It kind of became a game with my friends, like "Here's a topic- go!"

These were the days before smartphones when the internet was a baby- we had to fill time somehow.  :-)

Sometimes blogging kind of feels like a flashback to that silliness.  This weird tangential loose association of memories that all somehow tie in to whatever I happen to be cooking.
I kind of love that about food, though.

It's life.  It's family.  It's friends.  It's good times.  It's memories.
It's something that ties us together, good times and bad- from the almond bread I remember baking to send to family at my grandma's bedside as kid to the image of my dad making us pancakes on Saturday mornings.  It's this thread running through life that ties it all together.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sugar Cookies: All They're Cracked Up To Be

Remember the other day when I wrote about baking cookies for the people on my husband's team?

I told you about the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies but I thought the Cracked Sugar Cookies really deserved their own post.

Often when I make sugar cookies I make these Thick Cut Outs because they're soft, sturdy, and easy to decorate too.  I wanted to do something different for my husband to take to work, though- and lets be honest, I was just itching to make something I hadn't made before.  :-) Pretty much all of my kitchen time lately has been on popcorn and I wanted to make something fun.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Stuff Of Legend

I've been crazy busy with my popcorn thing lately and I've had a lot less time on my hands in which to cook for fun.  I've really missed baking especially.  

Thankfully my husband came home from work last week and asked me if I could make some cookies for him to take to work for his team.

Um, yes.  Of course I can.  Thanks for making my day and giving me something fun to make!!

I guess he was talking about motivating employees and someone made a joke about how the motivating power of cookies...knowing that I'm always up for making baked goods, my husband asked what kind they wanted.

And that is how I found myself looking for a new cookie recipe.  :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Crazy Green Salsa Yumminess

A few weeks ago my son came home from school with his first birthday party invitation.  My daughter's kind of been there done that with birthday invitations...when she brings them home my inward reaction is more like "uuuuuuuughhhhhh....another free Saturday spent being socially awkward when I could be on my couch with a glass of wine and my husband...."- though that's not a sentiment I share with my daughter and I have a rule that we always attend parties to which the kids are invited.
Once we had to cancel an RSVP to a little girl's party at the last minute and I found out later that NO ONE showed up.
Talk about feeling like a terrible person...yes.  Every party we can make it to we do.

Anyway, back to my story.
So my son came home with an invitation.  I was genuinely ecstatic.

This is so big for him!
Of course, I knew that all of the kids in the class likely scored an invite.  Didn't care.

Little Man actually has two classes- his early intervention Pre-K class due to his autism and his regular Pre-K class for his inclusion time for the majority of the day.
I had no idea which class this kid was in.
Again- didn't care.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Best Blue Cheese Dressing On The Face Of The Planet

I have such a hard time with my husband and his lunches.

If I pack them, 9 times out of ten he tells me he was too busy at work to eat and whatever I pack comes right back to me with a promise that he'll take it again the next day.
If I don't pack them, he complains and spends a bundle going out to eat several times a week.

I can't win.

Well, a few weeks ago I started seeing a bunch of charges on our bank statement for a sandwich place near my husband's office.  I'm not crazy- I don't care if he goes out to lunch every once in awhile any more than he minds if I do.  But several times a week for something that I can make a better version of at home for way less money?  Ugh.

When I asked him about it and offered to start packing him a lunch again the truth came out...he'd just been hooked by the blue cheese dressing.  He went on and on, waxing rhapsodic about the amazing blue cheese dressing this sandwich shop has for their salads.  How he has to order extra dressing because sometimes the chunks are so big they take up half of the little dressing cup.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mini Pot Pies And A Happy Daughter

I didn't grow up eating pot pies.  I actually remember the exact moment when I tried one for the first time while having dinner at a friend's house, I was probably my daughter's age.  I don't even remember the girl's name.  I just remember two things about that playdate- 1) she had property with horses and 2) I left asking my mom to buy pot pies for our house (spoiler: she didn't.  We pretty much only ate homemade food when I was a kid...).

Unlike me, my daughter is something of a pot pie connoisseur.  She LOVES them.

Not just any pot pie, though.  She refuses to eat a pot pie that has potato chunks in the filling...which eliminates  almost every single variety of frozen pot pie.  Forget any cheap little pot pies for that kid- it's Marie Callender's all the way.  Unless I make it from scratch, of course.

That kid LOVES homemade pot pie.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall Days and Soup Beans

My weekends lately have been full of family, football, and food (hey, look at that alliteration!) and I am absolutely loving it!!  This time of the year is almost magical as far as I'm concerned.  Life gets a little cozier, we all snuggle in a little as the air chills a bit, and our thoughts start to drift towards the upcoming holidays.  Don't get me wrong- I'm all for shorts, flip flops, and the warm sun on my skin but at the same time...in my mind autumn is where it's at.

Last night, just before bed, it struck me that it would be really nice to come home from church to a nice warm batch of soup beans and cornbread and I threw some in the crock pot.

I think I had beans on the mind- as the internet was quick to remind me, yesterday was Pioneer Day back in my hometown.    A day for kids to dress up like pioneers, locals to make floats for a hometown parade, and the city park to be absolutely FLOODED with people lining up for the free bean feed.  And really, when it comes to Pioneer Day, it's all about those beans.  So good.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Days and Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Turkey Soup is one of my favorite things to eat in the entire world.  Creamy, filling, spicy, and flavorful...mmmm... Every year I eagerly await the first day of the season on which we are graced with weather cool enough to eat soup so I can make a big batch.

Well friends, that day has finally come this year and I'm loving it!
I took advantage of the awesome weather and made up a giant batch of soup after church yesterday- enough for a few meals and leftovers to freeze for later when I need another fix!

You know, I've actually written about this soup before, briefly- two years ago  this month actually.  One thing that I can honestly say has improved a great deal in the 3+ years that I've been at this blogging thing?  My photography.  I'm far from a professional or anything, but seriously...my last picture was pretty unappealing.  I've wanted to retake it and do this soup justice ever since.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Braid

First of all, let me apologize for these pictures- I know they're terrible.

I'd gotten a late start on dinner, my natural light was gone, and I decided just to snap a few pictures rather than getting my whole crazy nighttime setup pulled out.  To be honest, I considered not even posting this recipe because they really weren't up to par.  

However this recipe is one that is definitely worth sharing so I decided to to forge ahead.  :-)

Back when my son was a baby I was on this kick where I would find a recipe I liked, multiply it by like 5, and freeze the extra portions for easy meals later.

It really did make life easier.  I called it my "soup file."  Chili, soup, whatever- I'd cool the excess, portion it in freezer bags, lay them flat in the freezer, and then store them vertically in the freezer to save space and for easy access.

Remind me why I stopped doing this??

Friday, October 2, 2015

Simple Pork Caesar Salad

I'm a big believer in salads.

You know...doughnuts taste good- but I can honestly say I've never felt good about myself after polishing off a doughnut.

Salads, on the other hand, leave your body feeling good- and if you do them up right they leave you feeling full and happy too.  I serve a lot of side salads at my house, just because they're so easy to throw together at the end of a long day and require pretty much no thought.  As an added bonus they're a veggie side that my daughter will eat without complaint, which is always nice.

Salads are so versatile, and such a great way to use up whatever you have sitting around in your pantry or fridge.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Who Needs Buffalo?" Sauce

Last Sunday on the way home from church I asked my husband if there was anything special he wanted me to make on which to snack during the football game that afternoon.  He assured me that he was low-carbing it again and would just make do with whatever we had on hand.

 That lasted until almost game time.  After I'd settled in, gotten comfortable, had a glass of wine, and did not want to head back out to the store.
It's really just not a game without a fun snack, is it?

I started racking my brain for things I could make that would both suit my husband's diet and not necessitate a trip to the store.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fair Day Fried Mac and Cheese Balls

If you've been following my blog for a while you might remember when I had the chance to work with Sargento a couple of years ago.  It was an Allstars project and I had the opportunity to create a recipe using one of their products- I made these Easy Caprese Bite appetizers.  Simple and delicious, right?
Well...ok.  They were absolutely that.  But they weren't over-the-top crazy, cheesy, deliciousness.

Do you know what was?
This recipe for Fair Day Fried Mac & Cheese Balls.

Is there anything about that name that doesn't scream artery-clogging delicious food?
I think not.

Anyway, so this recipe was invented by my fellow Allstar Maria.  I saw it and knew I had to make it.
I've kept this recipe in the back of my mind for TWO YEARS now, just waiting for the right opportunity to put it to use.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

An Ode To An Organized Spice Cabinet

I've been plagued- like most people I know- by an unorganized spice collection.

Spices are so awkward to work with- different size bottles, bags, pouches, shakers...it's just this ridiculous puzzle in the cabinet.  The only other thing I can think of that's such a pain to keep neat is board games!  

I was fed up.  So beyond fed up.

I Pinterested my little heart out looking for the solution.  

I considered those magnetic boards some people have made but seriously...my spice collection is on the large side.  I didn't want to give up that much wall space to something like that, as cute as they were.

I LOVED the idea of using a typesetter's drawer- but I gave up trying to find one that had evenly spaced slots for spice containers.  It would have driven me batty to have differently sized openings.  Cause I'm crazy like that.  :-)

I needed a way to keep things straight in that cabinet- it was way past time.

Last summer I found myself in The Container Store with my lovely sister-in-law and knew it was time to take action.  I didn't really have a plan at the moment...but I was definitely in the right place, right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Not-Quite-A-Grain Salad

In my early twenties I had the opportunity to live on my own for about a year.

I was in the Air Force, 2100 miles away from family, insistent that I would make do on my housing allowance on my own rather than with a roomate- and therefore living on a very stretched grocery budget in a very, very sketchy little apartment.
It was wonderful.

I had lived away from my parents before, for a couple of years with my best friend right out of high school.  I had held down a job, paid my bills, done all of that adult stuff.

But for the first time in my life I was doing it completely and totally alone.  No one to tell me when to go to bed or what to have for dinner.  I learned lots of lessons- like that paying one's light bill in a timely fashion is in general a spectacular idea (!) and how to dodge creepy next door neighbors.  But the most important thing to come of that period in my life was the amazing sense of self.  For the first time in my life I wasn't someone's child, roommate, or wife.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Absolutely Delicious Broccoli & Tortellini Salad

Ok...so is it possible to go wrong with bacon and pasta?

I think not.  That's really a hard combo to mess up, isn't it?

We recently had guests for dinner and I found myself searching for some salad recipes to serve alongside the food my husband was grilling.  I was thinking broccoli salad, but I've made that Bodacious Broccoli Salad a lot- and as delicious as it is, I really wanted something different.

Did I mention I also had a bag of sunflower seeds I needed to use up?
Cause I did.

This is really a simple salad that takes very little work to throw together.  The broccoli is raw and the dressing has just three ingredients.  Super easy, right?  Between the mayo, sugar, and apple cider vinegar the dressing is very similar to my coleslaw dressing- but even more simple.

Barley Lime Fiesta Salad

Okay, let me just start off by saying right off that bat that the title of my post is a total misnomer where I'm concerned- I didn't use barley at all.

I could have used barley.
And my current obsession with grain salad?

Yeah...this salad looked awesome but I had other grains to try and didn't feel like digging through my pantry for barley.  So I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it- I subbed sorghum.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Ultimate Cheesecake Lives Up To It's Name

So there's this cheesecake recipe that's been kind of famous in my family for as long as I can remember.

We were introduced to it through my lovely aunt years and years ago and I've been making it pretty much my entire adult life.  There was a time when I made this thing so often I had the recipe committed to memory.  It's so good people would ask me to make it for their birthday- and pretty much any other event that called for eating!

This is soooo not diet food.
Like not even close.

Cream cheese.
Sour cream.
You know...the good stuff.

When finished this guy weighs a ton and it always makes me giggle a little when I take the finished product out of the oven.  It's a little time consuming to make, but totally simple and you are guaranteed to get oohs and aaahs from whomever you serve it to and forever be known as The Cheesecake Queen (or king!) to your guests.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Experimenting With Farro and Other Weird Grains

So I've had a shelf in my pantry full of weird grains for, oh, I don't know...over a year now?  

Amaranth.  Farro.  Sorghum.  Kamut.  Millet.  Spelt.  Teff.
I won a set of Bob's Red Mill Grains of Discovery from a blog giveaway and they've just sort of been sitting there, waiting to be used.  My husband wanted me to give them away, or do SOMETHING with them...  I just really didn't know what to do!

I was excited by the thought of using them and trying new foods, but I was at a loss as to what exactly I should make.  I'd half-heartedly searched for recipes every once in a while but nothing really caught my eye.

That changed a couple of weeks ago when I was planning out a menu for family that was visiting for the weekend.  I decided to look for some new recipes to try out on our guests and I stumbled across a recipe for Farro Salad with Asparagus and Parmesan.

Farro, asparagus, cranberries, tomatoes, pecans, balsamic vinaigrette...yum.
There is absolutely nothing about that salad that doesn't scream "put me in your mouth" to me!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Restaurant Style Mexican White Queso Dip

Do you know what's weird?

I grew up in California and definitely had my share of *awesome* Mexican food before moving away to join the Air Force (side note: Columbus, MS was not exactly overflowing with great Mexican options...).
I had all kinds of yumminess.
One thing I didn't have?  Ever?

Queso.  That warm, gooey, slightly spicy, white cheese dip perfect for dipping chips or covering food.

I don't know, maybe it existed, maybe I just never thought to order it, maybe I'm the only one on Earth that wasn't smothering their chips and food in cheese dip.  For all I know the rest of California was literally swimming in the stuff...but I definitely was not.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spicy Smoked Back Ribs with Maple Glaze

I'm back!  Woohoo!

So much craziness, so many big changes, so many things my family is still in the middle of!


But, nevertheless, I've been absent lately as I deal with it all.

I've had to put my popcorn shop on vacation for a month or two.
I've pretty much stopped cooking altogether.
Life has been CRAZY!

But when Allrecipes comes calling, I must answer- it's always ALWAYS a good time when it comes to Allstars assignments!

This time they asked me to try a recipe using Smithfield pork ribs- um, yes.  Just yes.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Baked Bacon: Perfect Every Time

The first time I saw my husband cook bacon I thought he was crazy.  He put it...in the oven.

Not the frying pan.  The oven.

Who does that?
Well...he did.  And I'm sure lots of other people do to, but I'd never heard of such a thing.

There was no denying the results, though- it was as perfectly cooked as I could imagine bacon being and he was able to cook it in one big batch while attending to whatever else he was cooking at the time.
Knowing him, it was probably a stovetop full of sausage gravy.  :-)

Needless to say, it changed the way I make bacon forever.  No more small batches.  No more grease splatters.  No more burned bacon strips.  Possibly the biggest bonus of all?  No messy pan to clean up.

That's right.  No mess AND perfectly cooked bacon.  Intrigued yet?

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Time I Cried Over Cobb Salad and Other Fun Tales

I once broke into tears because my cobb salad was missing its hard boiled egg.

Seriously.  That hard boiled egg was part of the perfection that is the cobb salad at my favorite restaurant and the thought of not having it in every delicious bite- paired with avocado and bacon in one bite, grilled chicken and blue cheese in the next- literally brought me to tears.

Of course I was like 9 months pregnant and starving, so that might have had something to do with it. ;-)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Simple BLT Salad

I've been buying a LOT of bacon lately.
Like a lot a lot.
My son has decided he loves bacon, and with his weird food issues pretty much any new food is something to get excited about.

And really...isn't bacon always something to get excited about?

I certainly think so.

Anyway, I came across a recipe for a BLT salad and it just sounded so simple and great and, well, I definitely had the bacon on hand- so I went for it.

Crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and croutons- all topped with a creamy made-from-scratch dressing.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ridiculously Easy Wonton Soup with a Kick

I'm seriously shocked at myself.

I have absolutely no idea how I've managed to go so long without sharing this recipe with you, I honestly thought I had written about it a really long time ago!  While I was writing up that last post about Cheeseburger Egg Rolls I searched the blog for recipes I'd posted that used wonton wrappers and this one was no where to be found- I've been remiss, my apologies :-)
This is not one that should have been forgotten!

This recipe is one of my own, though it is one of the (many, at this point!) recipes I've had published on Allrecipes.com.  Almost all of the reviews have been 5 stars, which makes me pretty happy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Delicious Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

I went through a (pretty great) phase where I was really into having lots of appetizers and snacks made up and frozen.  Things like Southwestern Eggrolls, wontons, pierogis...I had an awesome collection going in that freezer!  I would triple or quadruple whatever recipe I was making, lay the extras flat on wax paper in the freezer, and then transfer them to a freezer bag for storage.  

Remind me why I haven't done this in awhile...?

Anyway, lots of those little bites used wonton and egg roll wrappers and I have tons of them in my freezer I've been trying to work through lately.  

No seriously.  Like 20 packages or something crazy like that- my husband noticed them recently while digging for something in the basement freezer and mentioned that we should do something about them.

So do something I did :-)

Easy Slider-Style Mini Burgers

My daughter likes for me to make "normal" foods when her friends come over for dinner.

Pizza.  Corn dogs.  Maybe tacos.
She's reaching that stage where the smallest thing embarrasses her and God-forbid I make a casserole or something for her friends.

I get it.  Totally.  I remember being terribly embarrassed by the most benign things my mom did when I was a kid, and I can absolutely suck it up and make something kid-friendly and less-than-healthy when she occasionally has company over for dinner :-)

Anyway, she had a friend over recently and I was out of ideas.  I wanted something cheap and easy and I came up blank trying to think of some basic kid-friendly food for them- so of course I turned to the internet.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Light Lemon Cookies for Spring

I know I'm not the only person who is ready for spring! 

 I've been throwing open the windows and enjoying the warm breeze every chance I get- and I'm totally ignoring the fact that we have a chance of snow again this weekend.

You know, I love the snow and cold- being raised in a region that is virtually seasonless has left me with quite a feeling of novelty when it comes to winter.  That being said, as soon as I get my first taste of spring-time warmth I'm done with it.  I'm suddenly reminded that shorts, flip-flops, and sunshine make me very very happy!

This time of year I enjoy bringing a little bit of that sunshine inside- and does anything taste more like sunshine than lemon?

Who Knew Making Tortillas Was So Easy?

Am I the only one who has a mini heart attack when she sees the price of sweet bell peppers?

Overpriced, undersized peppers mocking me from their pre-packaged plastic bag in the produce section, knowing I'm going to fork over the money even though I really don't want to.
Totally makes me long for summer when my garden is throwing them at me faster than I can cook with them!

Last time I went to the grocery store I noticed that sweet bell peppers were on sale for $1 apiece- about half their normal cost- and they were good quality to boot.  Big, firm, not packaged in a plastic bag.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How I Make Free Money - And You Can Too!

I know, I know...that sounds like some kind of an over-the-top marketing ploy aimed at suckers.  But really, I'm just sharing my experience- and it's been a good one!

First of all, let me just say that I am the world's most skeptical person.  I'm the first to Snopes something and I take just about any new piece of information with a massive grain of salt.

That being said, when a page I follow on Facebook- Coupon Clipinista- started posting about earning money by taking surveys, I took notice.

Then she kept posting...but what really caught my attention were all of the people commenting on her posts about how they too were making money- like, a LOT of money.  Pay for Christmas money.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lavender Lemon Bars - My New Obsession

I remember both the first time I tried lemon bars and the first time I tried lavender.

Lemon bars take me right back to the same after-church potlucks that egg salad sandwiches do.
I have absolutely no idea who always brought them, but I do know I probably owe the congregation an apology for finishing off far more than my share.

Lavender?  Well, that takes me to Asheville, NC.  My 32nd birthday to be exact.
My husband and I snuck away for the night- a somewhat surprise.

And do you know what he did?
He fed me.  The man knows the way to my heart ;-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Classic Chicken Salad and No More Snow!

I've been sitting here doing nothing for two hours now.


With all of our snow days and one teacher development day this is the first time my son has gone to school in three whole weeks!

This morning he literally ran down the driveway, pulling me along with him, yelling excitedly about the bus as it pulled up in front of our house.

Me?  I buckled him into his seat on the bus, went inside, turned on some very loud music, hopped in the shower, and then plopped down right here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rainbow Trix Treats for St. Patrick's Day

I usually don't buy sugary cereal for our family except for birthdays- that sounds a little nutty, right?  

I know.  Blame my mother.

It was her rule and I adopted it with my own kiddo.  While she might sound a little silly standing in the cereal aisle carefully plotting out what her next birthday cereal choice will be, it's all worked out for the best- I have an eight year-old who loves regular Cheerios, Wheat Chex, Wheaties, and Kix.

Really.  She loves those cereals and doesn't even add sugar to them!

But, she's a kid.  And those brightly colored sugar-laden cereals are enticing when you're face-to-face with them in the grocery store.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Homemade Mall Pretzels and SO Much Snow

My daughter's favorite thing in the world are soft pretzels from the mall.

They are her favorite.

As in last summer I took her on an honest-to-goodness shopping spree because she had outgrown ALL of her warm weather clothes and the thing she cared about most when I told her we were going to the mall was not that she was going to get a bunch of new stuff- it was that she was going to get a pretzel while we were there.

Anyway, last week we went to the mall to grab some new jeans and I was in such a hurry to get home that we couldn't stop by Auntie Anne's- she was crushed.

I promised that I would do something even better than buying a mall pretzel- we would make our own!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Super Easy Super Awesome Slumber Party Invitations


Where have I been?
I never go this long without writing.

I am incredibly thankful for how my Etsy shop has taken off, but between popcorn and kids I've just been ridiculously busy.

Did I mention we've had 8 snow days in the past two weeks?  Yup.  Popcorn and kids simultaneously.

I'm a mommy/homemaker/popcorn making rockstar lately...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Perfectly Pink Homemade Marshmallows

I must confess, until a couple of years ago it never occurred to me that I might be able to make my own marshmallows.

They seem like they would be complicated, right?

Is it even possible for those spongy, sweet little confections not to bring a smile to your face?

Seriously. Marshmallows rock.  Personally I like the ones that are covered in toasted coconut- mmmmm.....*drool*

Well, a couple of years ago the Allrecipes Allstars partnered with Karo® and we made all kinds of little treats for a Haloween party, including these Spooky Homemade Marshmallows.  While the only thing that was really "spooky" about them was their name, they were a total game-changer for me.

Did you know that marshmallows are ridiculously easy to make?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pink Snickerdoodles for Valentine's Day

You know you're a grown-up when your mom starts asking you for recipes.
I think this might have been the first recipe my mom ever asked me for.  I'm fairly sure I included a batch of these cookies in a box of Christmas presents- or maybe I made them when she made a trip out to visit?

I dunno.  Like I said, I'm getting old.  Memory fails. :-)

Regardless, my mom called and asked for the recipe and of course I obliged. 
These really are the perfect snickerdoodle- they're crinkly and crisp on top and chewy in the middle.  The flavor is absolutely delicious!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Super Snacks for the Superbowl: Easy Shrimp Cocktail

My daughter begs me to buy shrimp.
She LOVES it.

As much as shrimp tends to cost these days, she doesn't get it nearly as often as she would like- but every once in a while I buy some and her face lights up as she squeals "thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!!"

Between the her love of shrimp and her love of rib eyes (few things bring her more happiness than a good steak), my kid has good taste.

Expensive taste, but good taste nonetheless.

Anyway, I've been racking my brain trying to come up with more low-carb Super Bowl snacks for this weekend and then it struck me- is there anything easier than shrimp cocktail?

Super easy.
It will make my daughter ridiculously happy.
I can make it low carb.

A Lifechanging Haircut

Earlier last year, just as the weather was starting to warm up, I decided to chop my hair off.

My halfway down my back hair.
All trimmed up! :-)

My driving me nuts, I'm-not-a-girly-girl-and-I'm-hopeless-at-styling-it hair.

It suddenly, and spontaneously, had to go.

It may (ok, most likely) have had to do with the instantaneous feeling of freedom I felt when I took my son to his first day of preschool.

When he turned 3 he became eligible for the early intervention preschool in our school district.
Suddenly I wasn't alone.
Suddenly I had six hours a week BY MYSELF.

Six hours to go grocery shopping.
Six hours to peruse stores.
Six hours to paint my nails and actually let them dry.
Six hours to donate to a blood drive.
Six hours to make doctor's appointments.
Six hours to get my hair cut.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Super Snacks for the Super Bowl: Pulled Pork and Slaw Snackers

Remember my insatiable craving for pulled pork and slaw the other day?
Once I figured out how to make ridiculously good low carb sauce for the pork I tackled the problem of how to eat it since bread was out and I didn't want to just eat it with a fork.

I so found the best solution in the world- when in doubt, stuff it in a jalapeño!

Absolute, football-friendly, deliciousness!

Everyone is going to like this, whether they're low-carb or not, and in my mind that's definitely the best kind of appetizer.  It's not a weird diet-y dish, it's just delicious.

Here's the beauty of this dish- if you're not watching your carbs it's still going to be delicious and it's going to be even easier to make.

Low Carb BBQ Sauce

I love thick, rich, sweet & spicy barbecue sauces.

Definitely a sauce and dressing kind of girl- while I slather on the condiments my husband just shakes his head and mumbles under his breath.

Sadly, low carb BBQ sauces never really pass muster.  They tend to be on the thin side and lacking the qualities that I love in BBQ sauce.

Sure, I've found some great alternatives- namely Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce.  As much as I love that sauce, it just doesn't cut it when I'm craving that thick and rich flavor of Kansas City-style BBQ sauce, you know?