Palomas

I am, by no means, a cocktail/alcohol expert. When I have a bottle of wine in my house it is either going into a pitcher of sangria or being used to cook with (or lets be real: its from when we had guests over and they accidentally left it). ¬†A lot of my family and friends think its funny when I post cocktails or alcoholic beverages since I don’t drink that much myself, but at least you know that if I post one it’s gotta be good because the alcohol needs to be invisible for me to like it! Hands down my favorite drink: Amaretto Sour. I will never attempt to make it at home because I don’t want to risk ruining it for me, but will occasionally enjoy one when we go out to dinner.

Since I’m not much of an alcoholic beverage drinker myself, you better believe I am not going to spend much time making one at home if I’m going to. With that being said, its paloma time! I was so excited when I first saw these because I was like, “Hey! I could make that!” And so I did. And they are pretty dang tasty if I don’t say so myself. With all of the guidelines that I mentioned earlier about me liking an alcoholic beverage (sweet, quick, and no trace of alcohol), this little paloma fit the bill. Depending on the tequila you use, you may be able to taste it more depending on it’s strength, but my hubs made sure to have the smooth stuff on hand for me to use. I sound like such a pansy… oh well its who I am! ūüôā

Hang onto summer with this sweet, refreshing citrus drink. You can even enjoy it all year round! Make one quick for yourself to sip on after a long week at work, or whip up a batch for a crowd of family or friends. These palomas are fun and easy and won’t disappoint!

 

Palomas

Measurements per 1 glass serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon-lime soda
  • 1 shot of tequila
  • Ice
  • Lime wedges
  • Grapefruit wedges

Directions:

  1. Fill the cocktail glass 3/4 of the way full with crushed ice.
  2. Pour the grapefruit juice, lemon-lime soda and tequila over the ice. Give the drink a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
  3. Serve the paloma with a lime and grapefruit wedge to squeeze over the top.

Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits

Just a little disclaimer before we get too far into this: this is probably one of the most un-traditional shrimp and grits recipes and there are most likely people down south rolling in their graves about it, but it is THAT GOOD. Ok, disclaimer over. Talk about a dish packing a punch with flavor and homey goodness! Take a weeknight meal to the next level with this recipe and don’t even work up a sweat, because you can get this done in 30 minutes! Oh yeah, thats right! Serve this up with a smile on your face, because you better believe people are going to want seconds. And if they don’t, too bad for them because that means more for you, or if you want to bring some to me I will gladly take it.

The cauliflower takes place of the grits in this recipe, and they are so good that you won’t even notice! The cauliflower takes on a potato-like consistency, so you won’t miss not having a starchy companion to go along with your shrimp. Simple ingredients tossed together to make a delicious meal. Looking for the perfect dish to mix up your weeknight originals? Look no further! Surprise your family and friends with a little punch of heat from the cajun shrimp and coolness from the creamy cauliflower. It goes quick, so you may want to make double!

If you have access to good, fresh shrimp, go for it! Otherwise, since I live in Nebraska, I typically buy frozen, de-veined, raw shrimp from the freezer aisle and it works perfectly.

And as if this healthy, quick and delicious meal couldn’t get any better, it reheats like a charm. Thats right: double up, meal prep or just eat lots of it because you can microwave it and still have a southern party in your mouth.

 

Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz raw, peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup light beer (I used Modelo)
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Green onions for garnish, thinly sliced
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large, deep pot, bring enough water to a boil to submerge the cauliflower florets in. Boil on high for about 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for a couple minutes more, or until the cauliflower florets are soft enough to puncture with a fork or knife. Drain and place the cauliflower in a blender or food processor.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add in the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes or until they start to turn pink. Season with the cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Deglaze the shrimp by pouring in the beer and making sure to scrape anything off of the bottom of the pan. Simmer on medium heat for a couple minutes and then reduce the heat to low. Add in the butter and let simmer very lightly until the butter is melted.
  3. Blend the cauliflower with the milk, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Blend on high for a couple minutes to ensure a smooth, creamy texture.
  4. Serve immediately with the shrimp and sauce ladled over the cauliflower and topped with the sliced green onions.

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

My love for peaches runs deep…and pretty crazy. If you know me or have been following along, you know my love for peach season! IT’S LIKE CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST! Seriously, far better than Christmas in July. Here in NE, I make myself wait until the Colorado peaches get delivered and you better believe I buy more than one lug. Anything from fresh peaches, cobblers, smoothies, grilled peaches, crisps to crumbles, I gotta have it!¬†

Peaches and blueberries are a classic combo to me and I love how the blueberries accent the peaches perfectly. Think of a 3-1 ratio of peaches to blueberries – the peaches are the star of the show and the blueberries are the back-up dancers. Let’s talk about the topping (because we all know its the best part). It’s the perfect mix between a cobbler and crisp, so you get a crumble! Sugar cookie – like and all sorts of buttery deliciousness. This is the perfect dessert to gather around with family or friends and just dig in. We for sure did it today when we pulled this puppy out of the oven! And let’s be honest, we’re going to be re-heating this for breakfast as well. Its healthy enough it has fruit, right?

Top it off with ice cream, whipped cream or yogurt if you’re pulling this pan out for breakfast in the morning.

An hour may seem like a long time for this pot of gold and blue deliciousness to bake away in the oven, but trust me, its worth every single minute! If you don’t have fresh peaches and blueberries, feel free to use frozen! That way you can make this dessert all year long.

 

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

 

Ingredients:

For the filling

  • 6 peaches, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crumble

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cubed into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine all the ingredients for the filling together in a 9×13 pan, making sure that the peaches and blueberries are evenly coated with the dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crumble topping. Working with your hands or a pastry cutter, cut/crumble the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is evenly combined and the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Top the peaches and blueberries with the crumble topping mixture and spread out evenly. Bake for 1 hour, or until the topping is lightly browned and the peaches and blueberries are cooked down and edges are slightly caramelized. Let sit for 20-30 minutes prior to serving to let the juices set. This can be made a day in advance and re-heated as well. Enjoy!

 

My Fitness Journey Part 1

Let’s be honest, I never used to enjoy fitness. Growing up, I was a farm kid and would ride my horse all day if I could and would definitely clean a stall before I ever cleaned my room. The only sports I was ever involved in were horse riding, cheerleading (yes, it is a sport – especially when you are hiking girls up over your head!) and cross country. I about died with the last one listed there (raise of hands if you were ever the one bringing up the rear of the running pack!). Really exerting myself physically wasn’t something that I¬†wanted¬†to do, but more so felt like I¬†had to if I wanted to “stay thin”.

The summer between junior high and my freshman year of high school, I struggled with an eating disorder. My food intake was small portions, very (if any) low-fat, and few calories. I wasn’t eating what was good and right for my body, but rather what I thought was healthy at that time (guess what, it wasn’t). I remember weighing myself and the little flutters of joy when I saw that I weighed less than I did the last time. 98 pounds was the lowest I ever saw on the scale – and for a little background info: I started at 140. It was not healthy. My love for cooking dimmed and I was consumed with my body image. I am so very blessed to have loving and supportive parents and family that made me realize how I wasn’t taking care of my body, but rather hindering it from growing into who I truly was meant to be. I remember the first time I ate something that I had forever deemed “unhealthy” and it was my Mom’s infamous chocolate mocha cheesecake. A bite of cheesecake has never been more freeing. I have always grown up in a family that created healthy meals for dinner that were packed with good-for-you proteins, fats, starches and veggies, so it was pretty easy for me to get back on track with eating foods to build my body with their support.

All of that was never something that I really wanted to talk about. I just sorta moved on with life and my love of cooking came back with it. It’s not a journey to share to get sympathy, but rather one to share to encourage strength as we are growing up in a world that is pounding into our heads that our body isn’t good enough. I have learned to listen to my body and to know what feels good for it to do, and not to do. It’s definitely not easy, but I think it’s something that we all need to do. Listen to what is good for YOUR body, not what the media is telling you what would be good. Because you know what? I tried it, and it wasn’t good.

Fitness came to be a love of mine around my senior year in high school. When I started working out the way that I wanted to instead of the way I thought I had to, I was hooked. To me, fitness makes me feel SO good. Even now, my husband (and I) can tell when I have and have not worked out in awhile as my confidence and well-being spike when I have.

I’m no fitness coach or guru by any means, but I do have a desire to continue to work my body to stay healthy. This can look like many things to me and here are a few of my favorites: walking (even if thats all you get out and do, just do it!), stair climbing, weights, hiking, running, push-ups/planks/squats etc, healthy and meaningful eating and napping or going to bed early.

Let’s break it down:

  • Walking – I absolutely love it! If its on a treadmill for an hour, or walking with the hubs on the farm at the end of the night, it just makes me feel good!
  • Stair Climbing – I’m addicted, I admit. I love the way it challenges me and makes my booty feel when I’m done (real talk!). I typically cool down after this by walking. This is also an easy respiratory workout for me to do (more explained under “Running”)
  • Weights – Definitely an area of growth for me as I feel out of place doing so, but helps me work on toning my muscles and makes me feel all “beasty” after doing so! (oh yeah, I got this!)
  • Running – Ever since I was born I have always struggled with asthma. Its never been bad enough to the point to have an asthma attack, but has always been there looming over my lungs. On my bad days I can have as low as 66% lung usage, and in the upper 80’s-lower 90’s on my good days. Needless to say, running hasn’t always been my friend. BUT I am adapting and training my mind and body to work through it. Very rarely will you catch me running on a treadmill. I’ll wait until it’s nice enough outside ūüôā
  • Push-ups/planks/squats etc – these are some of my love-hate favorite things to do! I love having different workouts that I can do in my own home if I am not able to run outside or make it to the gym. 30 minutes is all you need to get nice and sweaty!
  • Healthy and Meaningful Eating – as you know, I LOVE to cook. I will always try to have a healthy meal prepared, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to live a little and have my cake too. My day can consist of a granola bar, coffee, spinach smoothie, leftovers from the night before for lunch and Chick-Fil-A for dinner (ok, we are trying to space it out to only let ourselves go there every two-three weeks ūüôā )or it can look completely different and I have had to learn that it is OK for it to do so. I want to put food into my body that is going to nourish it and make me feel good after eating it.
  • Napping/Going to bed early – I am not a frequent napper (they typically make me feel lazy), but I have had to learn that along with listening to my body with fitness and food, it is also with rest. Let your body get the rest it deserves!

So, here’s me. Feeling all exposed and vulnerable as this is not something I’m used to doing. But, here is also me: full of energy and excitement to be sharing part of my fitness journey with you!

It’s SO so easy to get sucked into the world and what it tells you on how your body should look. I know I fall into that trap every day. Looking into the mirror, I am my worst self-critic, pointing out things that I want to change. I am still learning, but God has been laying it on my heart to shift my eyes. See myself fearfully and wonderfully made. Be the woman He created me to be. Be the woman and wife that my husband sees. I’m not saying its easy to adjust our thinking, but at the end of the day our bodies are a temple to take care of and to glorify Him with.

 

#foodtographyworkshop

You guys, I can’t tell you enough how much fun I had at the #foodtographyworkshop! Ann Arbor was the perfect little town to host this food blogger get-together and Sarah Fennel (Broma Bakery) is packed full of knowledge and insight. She was certainly the “hostess with the mostest” as she and her assistants provided a wonderful weekend for us, and I’ll tell you what, we never went hungry!

Sarah is the face behind Broma Bakery and if you have ever gotten to lay eyes on her food photography then you will understand why I was so excited to make this trip! Not only is her photography (and knowledge about photography) inspiring, but also her keen eye for food styling and baking AMAZING cakes. She was fun and light-hearted and made everyone feel at home. In fact, I think everyone felt at home amongst one another because you were never alone being the “weird person” standing on their chair at a restaurant to get the perfect picture of the plates below you. Pictures were snapped, boomerangs were done until perfected, and food was typically eaten cold by the time you were done photographing it but it didn’t matter because you had a happy tummy and wonderful company around you.

I’m not going to spill all the beans of everything we learned, but I am so excited to put everything into action! And OH MY GOODNESS she taught me how to properly use my Canon 6D! Me and Betty (the 6D) weren’t getting along too well so I kept defaulting back to my Nikon that I was more comfortable with. I still love my Nikon, but Betty and I are pretty tight now… you could say that its gotten pretty serious between us.

Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the weekend that I hope you all enjoy! If you ever get the opportunity to gather with fellow food bloggers and photographers jump right on it – you won’t be disappointed!

PS – see if you can tell the difference in the photos from when I switched from the Nikon 5300 to the Canon 6D ūüôā

 

 

Grilled Pita Pizza Pockets

Oooo you guys let me just tell you how excited I am about these pita pizza pockets! Say that five times fast: Grilled Pita Pizza Pockets! Its a tongue twister, but a tummy pleaser! Summer and grilling season are in full swing and no one wants to have to turn on their oven. Still want your favorite slice of pizza? Pack the goodies into one of these pita pizza pockets, toss it on the grill and you are set to go! Talk about a fun and effortless dinner for a weeknight meal, summer bash, family bbq or your next campfire. Thats right, these little babies can be quickly tossed over your next campfire. Not only are they delicious but they are healthy (depending on your fillings ūüėČ and portable. The hubs was mowing the lawn when his pita pizza pocket came off the grill and he grabbed it and went on his way to finish up the lawn. Talk about a major win.

Pack up the ingredients for your next camping trip or have them on hand for when you need a delicious dinner in snap. Let everyone help and build their own pocket! I love the taste and health benefits of using whole wheat pita bread and you should be able to find it in the bread aisle of your grocery store. You can make these meat-packed, meatless, vegetarian, vegan or whichever way your heart desires. Have some leftovers to get rid of? PERFECT. Create a leftover grilled pocket!

This is going to be a little different as I am not going to post specific recipes for each kind. Use these as guidelines to create the pita pizza pocket that will make your heart happy!  HAVE FUN. Cook without boundaries.

 

Here’s how to make them:

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Working with one pita round at a time, lay it out on a 10×10 inch piece of foil (or enough foil to wrap it up once filled). If you are putting these over a campfire, I would recommend using heavy duty foil. Using the side of your hand, gently but firmly crease the middle of the pita to create a natural fold so that it won’t break in half when you fold your pita pocket.
  3. Place your fillings on one half of the pita round. Fold the top half over the filling ingredients, making sure to keep the ingredients tucked inside so they do not spill out. Tightly fold and wrap in the foil to create a pocket.
  4. Grill the pita pocket about 4-5 minutes on each side depending on strength of your grill.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Here’s a few of our favorite combos:

 

The KJ Special

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Diced green bell pepper

 

The Midwest Classic

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Cream cheese (YASSS)

 

The Veg

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella
  • Feta
  • Small broccoli florets
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced mushrooms

 

 

Grilled Peaches with Mulled Blueberries

John and I are binge watching Friends on Netflix because we have never seen it before (yes, yes everyone gasp) and we are averaging 5 episodes a night with no shame. I would totally be Monica (germ freak and cook, duh) and John is a mix between Ross and Chandler so it averages out in the end. A little game of hide-and-seek on a Friday night in between episodes keeps things spiced up. Don’t worry, its the old-fashioned, innocent, genuine type of hide-and-seek, but when I told my Grandma about it and everyone was having a good laugh that we were actually playing hide-and-seek in the first place and they were informed that clothes were still on she says: “Well, wheres the fun in that?!” Oh Grandma… haha!

Just so everyone knows, I was the official winner of our hide-and-seek game.

Anyone who knows me knows that I freak out when fresh peach season rolls around. We get them by the lugs when the Colorado peach season is at its peak (we’re almost there!!) and my heart couldn’t be happier. So, here I am writing about a grilled peach recipe that I whipped up and daydreaming about what I can do with the other fresh peaches I have sitting on my counter in front of me. I’m a peach freak and proud. I love summer, grilling and being outside and couldn’t wait to get some peaches on our new grill! This recipe is such a fun and simple dessert that can be whipped up in a flash and feed a crowd (or just yourself). ¬†If you don’t get the perfect grill marks on the peaches, don’t worry about it! They still develop a warm, juicy flavor that pairs perfectly with a dollop of ice cream and the mulled blueberries. Let the blueberries simmer away on the stovetop while you grill up the peaches and you have a worry-free dessert ready in no time!

Now, what are we going to do with ourselves when we finish Friends and peaches go out of season?

 

 

Grilled Peaches with Mulled Blueberries

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 peaches, halved and pitted
  • Canola oil
  • 6 oz blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon peach Schnapps
  • 2 tablespoons white wine (try to go for the sweeter kinds, any will do)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Vanilla ice cream

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your grill to medium heat.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, Schnapps, wine, sugar and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and let boil for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to low to let the mixture simmer. The longer it simmers the more syrup-like it will get.
  3. Brush the peach halves generously with the canola oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill grates. Grill the peach halves for about 5-10 minutes depending on the strength of your grill and flame. You want them to be warmed through and to try to get the grill marks on them. They will also start to caramelize.
  4. Serve the peach halves with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a spoonful of the mulled blueberries.

Sugar Cookie Dough Truffles

In elementary school, I was always the kid who had a pocket full of quarters that I stole out of my dad’s coin jar. You wanna know why? Because the kid with the quarters was always the one who could buy the little cups of cookie dough at the end of the food line! They were $0.25 a scoop and you better believe that I always had at least $0.75 in my pocket. You could choose between sugar cookie with sprinkles, chocolate chip or peanut butter. My scoops of choice were always sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie dough. The lunch ladies loved me.

Needless to say, I needed these little cookie dough balls back in my life! They are like scrumptious, cakey gumdrops of happiness. You know whats even more great? They are pretty darn easy to make! I mean, just think of all the cookie dough truffles you could be eating right now! Low maintenance and ingredients that you most likely have on hand. No excuses to not make them! Even if you’re on a diet, you gotta have at least one! I had to try to not eat all the dough while I was making them!

My mom said they tasted like Christmas cookies so they are officially “mom-approved!” My husband thought I was a little crazy, but he obviously didn’t grow up with a few quarters in his pocket to buy himself some dough.

This is such a kid-friendly little treat that you can have your littles help you roll them up and decorate them however they please. You’ll only just have to find something to do while you wait for the dough to set in the fridge for 20 or so minutes. Its basically like a lifetime, but they are worth they wait. We’re calling them truffles to make them ultra fancy and special.

 

Sugar Cookie Dough Truffles

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons), softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Sprinkles (I used sanding sugar sprinkles)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread the flour out evenly on a baking sheet and toast the flour for a couple minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the almond extract, vanilla extract and salt and blend until smooth. Mix in the flour and the mixture will become crumbly. Beat in the milk and beat until the dough is smooth, about a couple minutes.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for 25 minutes. Using rounded teaspoonfuls, roll the dough into balls and roll in sprinkles as desired. Refrigerate the dough prior to serving and let sit at room temperature at least 5-10 minutes before eating if the dough has been in the refrigerator for more than an hour.

Candied Waffles with Blueberry Apple Compote

I don’t know what it was, but I never grew up eating frozen waffles! We either made them homemade or went over to Grandma’s house to get Mickey Waffles with chocolate chips. I personally more of a pancake gal myself (I’m weird and I love raw pancake batter, like really love it), but I’ll make room for a waffle! Needless to say, when we were grocery shopping together for the first time for the new house a few weeks back and our cart was quickly filling up with multiple flavors of ice cream and frozen waffles I just smiled and shook my head. My husband is a five year old.

You do have to give him kuddos, though, because he did end up grabbing organic 7-Grain Kashi waffles and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. For a frozen waffle, these things are good! Yesterday was just one of those days where there was quite a bit going on and I just¬†needed to cook something. I saw apples sitting on our counter and knew I had a pack of blueberries in the fridge begging to be used. And then it hit me – we have all of these waffles sitting in our freezer that we haven’t even touched! It’s waffle time. The toaster is still packed away in a box, so making them in the oven was my only option and oh boy, it is a good option. I loaded these puppies with brown sugar and caramelized them in the oven until the topping was warm and crunchy. Simmering the apples and blueberries together with sugar and cinnamon creates the perfect medley to top off these waffles. Apples are so good during the summertime, don’t let their only shining moments be in the fall!

The colors are pretty great if I don’t say so myself. And talk about a quick and easy breakfast or brunch to get on the table in a snap! You don’t have to worry about whisking up waffle batter or dragging the waffle maker out of the cupboards. All you gotta do is toss some fruit and goodies together on the stovetop, let them do their own thing for a bit, and top off some candied frozen waffles with a deliciously beautiful blueberry apple compote. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt and a swirl of honey and you are the master of breakfast and brunch. It’s not¬†just¬†a frozen waffle!

PS: this recipe serves 2, but you could easily double it or triple it to feed family and friends!

 

 

Candied Waffles with Blueberry Apple Compote 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 frozen waffles of choice
  • 6 oz blueberries
  • 1 apple, cored and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water, apple, blueberries, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons regular sugar, cinnamon and salt to a boil. Let boil for 5-8 minutes and then reduce to a low-boil or rough simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is soft and has created a syrup-like consistency. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving.
  3. While the fruit is simmering, line your waffles out on a baking sheet. Top each waffle with a tablespoon of brown sugar (if you are not a huge brown sugar fan then reduce this amount). Bake the waffles for 5 minutes at 425. Turn the oven off and turn your broiler on high and broil the tops of the waffles until the sugar starts to caramelize and get crunchy. The timing on this will be different depending on your stove, so keep an eye on them to not let them burn. Remove from the oven when the tops are slightly browned, about 2-5 minutes.
  4. Top the waffles with the blueberry apple compote, Greek yogurt, honey, nuts or whatever else your heart desires.

 

No-Churn S’mores Ice Cream

Summer is¬†almost¬†here! Its been so darn hot out that it may as well be! You know what that means? Time for campfires, grilling and of course the classic s’mores! You just can’t go through the summer without having one. If you’re either a burnt marshmallow or a golden mallow lover, this simple dessert is not only delicious, but full of memories, friendship and family. I mean, how often do you eat a s’mores on your own? Not very often! You are typically surrounded by those you love, new and old friends, the great outdoors and a gooey, sticky s’mores in your hand while someone is spraying bug spray because the mosquitos are starting to come out.

A memory that I have growing up and have always loved is of my parents letting us make s’mores over the gas range stove. When you’re a little kid and just gotta get your grubby, little hands on a s’mores but aren’t anywhere near a campfire, this is the way to do it! A big mallow grin will fill your face as you skewer some marshmallows, roast them golden brown over a flame¬†in the house, and squish them in between graham crackers and extra chocolate to make the perfect hand-held dessert. John and I have had an electric stove top since we’ve been married, so when we were stove shopping you know right what I went to. You could say that my excitement level was pretty high the other night when these childhood memories flooded into my mind and I remembered all the possibilities of what we can do! I just knew that I had to make this ice cream.

I love the simplicity of no-churn ice cream and the satisfaction that it gives serving it up. People will say, “You¬†made ice cream??” YEP! No-churn or not, its special to say that you made it. And guess what, this s’mores ice cream made non-s’mores-loving people love it! (I know, I know, its hard to believe that there are non-s’mores loving people out there). It’s so s’mores filled and scrumptious that you won’t be able to pass it up! There wasn’t even enough left for me to have a bowl after everyone had gone through it, but that just shows the love!

Let this decadent, sweet treat satisfy your sweet tooth and bring out your inner kid!

PS – this is VERY kid friendly ūüôā Let them have fun making it with you!

 

No-Churn S’mores Ice Cream

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 – 16 oz bag marshmallows
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 milk chocolate bars (approx 6 oz total)
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until light and fluffy and stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and very lightly spray with cooking spray. Spread the marshmallows out evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until the centers start to get gooey. Turn your oven to broil and broil the marshmallows until the tops are golden brown (or slightly charred if preferred) and the centers are cooked through, about another few minutes. This time frame will depend on the strength of your oven and broiler. Just make sure that you keep your eyes on it during this process. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly.
  3. In a separate separate small bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk with the gooey marshmallows until combined. Fold the marshmallow mixture gently into the whipped cream until combined. Add in the graham crackers and fold until combined. Making sure to not over-mix.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate until melted. Try for 30 seconds, then stir, then another 30 seconds until melted. Let the chocolate cool for about 3-5 minutes, and then gently swirl and fold the chocolate into the ice cream mixture. You don’t want to combine it completely as you will wants some “globs” and swirls of chocolate to freeze into the ice cream mixture instead of turning the base of the ice cream chocolate.
  5. Freeze the ice cream in a freezer safe bowl, container or pan that is covered for at least 6 hours and up to a couple days in advance. Serve with roasted marshmallows on top.

Summer Sangria

Woohoo! The first blog post in the new house! ūüôā Whew! This has been a whirlwind start to June, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Boxes still have yet to be completely unpacked and the basement is currently the only furnished area in the house besides our mattress on the floor of our bedroom. But do not fear, we will be getting some new furniture coming our way! It’s been kinda fun – like a big ol’ sleepover/camping in our new home. We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on June 6 (yippee!) by eating a frozen pizza on the couch and falling asleep to a movie. Nothing glamorous, but so what we needed together. ¬†Between packing, cleaning, moving, cleaning, unpacking and more cleaning, I was wanting a little drink to tickle my tastebuds. So I said forget unpacking – I’m making sangria! How could you not want a glass (or two) of the delicious drink with this gorgeous, hot, summer weather?! I invited my mom over (she was very willing because no one should ever day drink alone) and we did dishes and kitchen work while sipping this sangria all before 4 in the afternoon. It was great – I laughed the rest of the night!

Its fresh, juicy fruit marinated in fruity wine and alcohol, so it can be deliciously dangerous! The hubs even said it was the best sangria I’ve made to date. WIN. This cocktail is perfect for summertime sipping on the patio, large get togethers, or to have for a little date night (or obviously day drinking with your mom ha). ¬†You can make it a day ahead and she just gets better with age. Yes, this sangria is a she. The fruit will break down and get mushy after a few days, so I wouldn’t recommend not making it too far in advance. Let this stress-free summertime cocktail be the star. She really wants to be. I had all these cute mason jars that I had just unpacked so it was perfect timing to whip this up! Regular wine glasses and pitchers will do just fine as well, but I am in love with my giant mason jar pitcher! You can typically find this size wherever you get your canning goods. Its perfect for serving up this summer sangria!

After you finish your glass you get to eat all the yummy, alcohol-soaked fruit so its like a drink and dessert at the same time. And it screams summer. You need it.

 

Summer Sangria

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Pink Moscato wine
  • 4 Tablespoons peach Schnapps
  • 3 white peaches, cored and sliced
  • 6 oz fresh blueberries
  • 8 oz fresh strawberries, quartered (about 6-8 strawberries depending on size)
  • 1 12 oz can lemon-lime soda, such as Sprite

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the lemon-lime soda into a large pitcher and stir gently to incorporate all the flavors. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a day in advance.
  2. When you are ready to serve, add in the lemon-lime soda and stir gently to combine. Enjoy!

 

Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp

Our move-in date got pushed back a week due to typical finishing touches that needed to get done, but we still haven’t packed a single thing. We are officially the world’s worst packers! I mean, how much laundry can I possibly keep doing?! It seems as though it is endless! I now have a realization of how many blankets we have. We have a blanket problem. You can bet those buggers are going to be put to good use of being cushions for packing dishes. Please do not allow us to buy another blanket. Needless to say, I couldn’t bare to pass up any more fresh produce in the grocery store! I have been doing so good on not re-stocking our pantry and fridge, but come on, how do you expect me to go through nectarine, blueberry, cherry and all other sorts of goodie’s season without eating some?! I caved. But it was SO worth it. The hubs thought so too. We’ve put one box together so thats progress. Still can’t figure out how to use that packing tape thingy though – I can bet we will be YouTubing that later today.

If you’ve been around me during peach season, then you KNOW its love. My giddy excitement can’t be contained! So, when I laid eyes on these nectarines (insert heart-eyed emoji) it was love at first sight. You know whats so great about crisps? You can put any of your favorite fruits in their and its guaranteed goodness! It wouldn’t be a crisp without that buttery, crunchy, cookie-like topping. Its like the crouton to a salad – you just gotta have it. I went for a oatmeal cookie feel with this one here. Another great thing about crisps (or cobblers…or pies…)? It can be breakfast, lunch, mid-day snack or dessert! How more versatile can you get? Top it off with Greek yogurt for a mid-day snack and break out the vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for dessert. You basically win on all levels with this. I make a similar recipe with peaches, so if you are a peach freak like me you know you will be whipping this recipe out once you’ve got some fresh peaches in hand.

Frozen blueberries make great crisps and cobblers. Fresh is always great, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about the consistency and how frozen blueberries break down into a nice, thick sauce. You can certainly sub the frozen blueberries in this recipe for fresh, but if you are not in peak blueberry season and they are a little more pricey to get the fresh ones, then I would spend less and get the frozen for just as good quality. Heck, if you are wanting this in the dead of winter and there are no fresh nectarines (or peaches) or blueberries around you, then grab a bag of each from the freezer section! You won’t be disappointed. Or if your super-duper smart like my momma, buy some extra nectarines or peaches during peak season and freeze your own! Brilliant.

PS – I also used up every last speck of flour I have in this house for this recipe so we are moving an empty flour canister. It was rewarding and depressing at the same time. You should never have an empty flour canister.

 

Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp

 

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 4 large nectarines, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 12 oz bag frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold butter cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix together all of the filling ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until all the fruit is coated with the flour and sugars. Pour the fruit mixture into desired baking dish. I used an inch thick tart pan, but a 13×9, 9×9 or casserole dish can be used for desired thickness of the crisp.
  3. In a separate small bowl, mix together the oats, flour, sugar and brown sugar for the topping until evenly combined. Using your fingers, a knife or a pastry blender, cut or “massage” the butter cubes into the dry ingredients until loose clumps form and the butter is broken down into smaller pieces.
  4. Spread the topping mixture evenly over the top of the fruit and bake until golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving with ice cream, whipped cream or mascarpone.
  5. Reheat leftovers for breakfast or mid-day snack and serve with yogurt ūüôā Or reheat for dessert the next day if any of it is left.

 

 

Spinach and Salmon Mac N Cheese

Spinach and Salmon Mac N Cheese, or fancy words for salmon and noodle casserole. You know, like the old-fashioned tuna and noodle casserole? Everyone who knows me just had their jaws drop to the floor – did she seriously just say¬†casserole? Yep, I did. This casserole-banning girl just said casserole. Maybe I’m ok with it because it doesn’t have any “Cream of…” soups in it, or that the spinach can make an arguable healthy statement, or maybe because Molly Yeh from¬†Molly on the Range¬†made casseroles cool again. Or maybe because its just THAT GOOD. Whatever it is – I caved. But I’m still going to call it mac n cheese…even though I topped it with crushed potato chips…

You could definitely say that I’ve hit the “building a house and moving and packing” speed bump of all speed bumps. Because we haven’t even started packing yet and I’ve hit a wall! I’ve been resisting and holding myself back from going to the grocery store, so you could say that its been a struggle. All of this fresh produce around me and all I want to do is cook! But, I must stay focused and eat up what we have on hand so that we can restock the new house with fresh groceries. So that is what got us here. I opened up the cupboard and fridge and this is what I found: a half used box of macaroni shells, packs of salmon, a half used bag of spinach in the fridge, a goat cheese log that only had a tablespoon left to give, and a bottle of heavy cream that was begging to be used before summer comes around. BOOM. Spinach and Salmon Mac. How is this not the best weeknight meal?! Just open up your fridge and pantry and use what you have on hand. Don’t have spinach? Cool, use frozen peas or whatever green veggie you have on hand. Tuna instead of salmon? Ok! Bowties instead of shells? You get the picture. Customize it and make it your “moving and building” mac – or “whatever is going on in your life” mac. Because sometimes we just need some mac n cheese.

Please note: this recipe is going to be measured by half-used products that you may have in your pantry for kicks and giggles :). If you are using “whole” ingredients (such as a whole box of pasta), then simply double the recipe below.

 

Spinach and Salmon Mac N Cheese

 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 box (8 oz) macaroni shells (or a 16 oz box if doubling the recipe to use a full box)
  • 5 oz packaged salmon (I used 2 -2.5 ounce packets)
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 – 1oz bags potato chips, crushed (or 1 1/2 cups)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, boil the pasta according to package instructions to cook to al dente.
  3. In a separate sauce pan while the pasta is cooking, bring the heavy cream to a low boil. Whisk in the mozzarella until smooth and creamy. Reduce the heat and whisk in the goat cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Drain the pasta and place back into the saucepan used to boil it over very low heat. Pour the heavy cream mixture over the top of the pasta and stir to coat. Add in the salmon and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat and pour the mac n cheese mixture into an oven safe baking dish such as a tart pan, pie dish, 9×9, or a 9×13 if doubling the recipe.
  5. Sprinkle the crushed potato chips evenly over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Enjoy! Saves and reheats great as leftovers!

 

 

Grandma’s Texas Sheet Cake

Every year growing up when I was asked what I wanted to eat for my birthday my response would be simple and to the point: “Grandma’s Texas Sheet Cake and homemade ice cream”. My birthday is July 5, so outdoor activities and grilling up burgers and dogs was typically involved, but you know what I was all about. Gimme that cake! These weren’t just any regular Texas Sheet Cakes though. They were my Grandma’s sheet cakes. Big difference. You had your usual candles to blow out, but they weren’t unaccompanied by any means. You would have all of your favorite things topping that cake. Anything that you loved or were crazy about, you would find it on top of your sheet cake. Mine were topped off with little rubber horses (you know those ones you find at TSC?! Thats Tractor Supply Co. for you city folk), dogs, spoons, spatulas, sprinkles, barns, flowers, and you better believe your name was on that cake! The decorations didn’t even have to match because everything made sense together. Every one was just so special and baked and decorated with all the love in the world.

The flavor and the simplicity of this cake is just unbeatable. Literally, you don’t even have to beat it! It was so fun being able to read the recipe off of the little, hand-written recipe card that my Grandma gave to me (you better believe that cursive was on point) and to also be able to text her and send her pictures of the process. You can have a whole cake baked, frosted and decorated in 30-40 minutes. How crazy is that?! I think its da best. The cake is so rich and moist and chocolately and perfect in every single bite. I can just dream of it now. By the way, I made this for my husband’s birthday AND HE TOOK THE LEFTOVERS TO WORK. WHAT WAS HE THINKING. WE COULD HAVE EATEN CAKE FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER. I’m not biter about it at all being that we’re moving in a week and I’m not going to buy any more groceries so therefore I can’t just make this cake again because I don’t have the ingredients. I still love him though.

Plus, this is like a slab of cake. Who doesn’t want a slab of deliciously moist, decadent cake? You can feed a crowd and a family with this thing.

This recipe is so so so special to me and I hope that it can be for you and your family too. My Grandma has perfected her recipe over the years and its just unbeatable.

 

Grandma’s Texas Sheet Cake

 

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 sticks butter (16 Tablespoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cup mini marshmallows (or 20 large ones)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla

 

Directions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and salt. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the water, oil, cocoa and butter. Bring to a boil and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix together until smooth. Add in the eggs, baking soda, buttermilk and vanilla and whip together until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter onto a sprayed baking/cookie sheet (the large size, not the small size). Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For the frosting:

  1. While the cake is cooking, use the same small sauce pan used prior to bring the evaporated milk and sugar to a low boil over medium heat. Add in the marshmallows and stir until smooth. Reduce the heat to low. Add in the chocolate chips, butter and vanilla. Mix until smooth and silky.
  2. After the cake is out of the oven and still warm, spread the frosting on top of the cake. Be careful to not let it sit too long, as it will be harder to spread on the cake once it has set.
  3. Top with sprinkles, nuts, little rubber horses, flowers, candy, streamers, or whatever your heart desires.

Cake Smash

20 minutes.

1 couple.

1 funfetti cake.

1 photographer.

GO.

We signed up for a photoshoot, but wanted to do something a little out-of-the-box. Funfetti cake it is. We took some “normal” pictures, but then dove right into that layered funfetti cake (it was delicious by the way). How can a whole container of sprinkles not make you happy?!

Loving how all of these pictures turned out by Vanessa Thomas Photography – thank you Vanessa!

PS – loving my hubs and wishing him the best 23rd birthday that he could have! I love that we talk to each other more in our Nacho Libre voices than our normal voices. Wouldn’t be able to do life without you.

 

Italian Salami Flatbread with Balsamic Reduction

To be honest, my go-to pizza dough is a pre-bought crust mix from Hyvee. And guess what, this is what you can make out of it! I just love how something so simple (and like less than a $1) can be transformed into something delicious to put on your table. Flatbreads are a great dinner to serve up because the options are endless! Just think, you could throw anything you have in your fridge or leftovers on a flatbread and call it good! Or you could go with this version: Italian salami and all the goodies.

Italian salami has such a great taste, especially when it gets all nice and crispy. Its a little bit more mellow that pepperoni, but pepperoni can be substituted if need be. Goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and basil make this flatbread come to life. Now lets talk about this balsamic reduction, because this is like LIQUID CRACK. This sauce is THAT good. I mean, its right up there with Chick-Fil-A sauce…and thats a big deal. You can find me shamelessly licking out the bottom of my Chick-Fil-A sauce container, and you can find me licking off my plate after this balsamic reduction has been on it. They really go hand-in-hand if I don’t say so myself. I originally saw a recipe for a balsamic syrup from Giada’s Family Dinners¬†¬†and have been obsessed ever since. You just have to try it for yourself. Side note on the sauce: do not let it sit in a pan or on a plate overnight or you will be scrubbing the dickens out of it!

I also had a pretty great helper and taste-tester. This is what real life looks like when I am trying to get a picture from above. My little Charlee girl just has to be front and center!

 

Italian Salami Flatbread with Balsamic Reduction

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pizza dough crust (either mix, store bought or homemade)
  • 5 oz Italian Dry Salami slices
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 oz crumbled goat cheese (you can buy a 4 oz log and use half)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped or chiffonade (long, thin strips)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Roll your pizza dough out onto a sprayed baking sheet into a thin rectangle. The sides can be rustic and not straight-edged. Brush the top of the pizza dough with the olive oil.
  3. Layer the Italian salami over the top of the pizza dough in an even layer. Top with the goat cheese and tomatoes and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges of the crust are golden brown and crispy.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat. Reduce the mixture until it has a syrup-like consistency or has reduced about half. Adjust the temperature as needed during this process to prevent from boiling over. About 12-15 minutes.
  5. After the flatbread has been taken out of the oven, sprinkle the top with the fresh basil and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side as wanted.

Spring Chicken Pot Pies 

I love chicken pot pies. The perfect forkful of flaky crust, creamy sauce, plump chicken and veggies is hard to beat. Just close your eyes and dream of it – isn’t it the best?! Well, at least I think so (extra crust for me please!). Warm weather is here and summer is right around the corner, but I don’t want to give up my chicken pot pie. Fall is full of comfort and feel-good food and I just had to bring this classic into spring. Plus, they’re called spring chicken pot pies! Get it? ūüėČ Spring Chicken. I crack myself up.

Store-bought pie crust is a lifesaver to me, so that is what I went ahead and used for this recipe. As always, please feel free to sub in your favorite pie crust recipe if you so desire. The combination of the lemon and white wine in these cute, little pies will take your tastebuds on a twirl. A bright, airy version of your classic pot pie! I also love how versatile this recipe can be. If you don’t have little ramekins to bake these up in or would rather it be served family-style, then a pie plate or baking pan will work just fine. Do what fits best for your family table!

 

Spring Chicken Pot Pies 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots, 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 -1.5 lbs chicken breasts/tenders cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium eat and add in the chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the onion into the same pan and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add in the carrot and continue to saute for another minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan while doing so.
  3. Add the chicken back into the pan along with the heavy cream, 2 cups chicken stock, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, thyme and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together the 3 tablespoons of chicken stock with the 2 tablespoons of flour to make a paste (roux). Whisk the roux into the chicken mixture and continue to stir for a couple minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add in the peas. Simmer for 5-8 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  4. Pour the mixture equally into ramekins (or desired pan) and cover the tops with a piece of pie crust. If using ramekins, you will need to cut the pie crust into circles to fit the tops of the ramekins, otherwise fit the pie crust to the top of the desired pan of use. Use a knife to slit small holes in the middle of the pie crusts to let air out while baking. Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl and brush the tops of the pie crusts with the egg wash.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the crusts are golden brown.

 


Jumble Chip Cookies

I just love these little jumble wumbles! But seriously, these are an all-in-one cookie. That’s my kind of cookie. I originally tried a jumble nut cookie from Whole Foods and just knew I had to make some at home! You have the chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, oatmeal and delicious cookie base all in one perfect, little package. What more could you ask for? Well, I asked myself for more…more chocolate that is! Because chocolate is life and when I eat dessert I want all the chocolate I can get. So, I turned down the nut ratio and amped up the chocolate chips to let them shine.


I love how the raisins compliment the chocolate chips and brighten the cookie up just the right amount. The nuts provide the perfect crunch and the oatmeal base carries the whole thing to victory. You have to eat at least one warm out of the oven! You wouldn’t want to miss out on all the gooey chocolate. You can certainly adjust and play with the chocolate chips to raisins to nuts ratio to fit your fancy. No matter how you combine it they are going to be loved!


Get your oven prepared and your butter softened, because you are going to want to get these baking as quick as you can!
Jumble Chip Cookies 
Ingredients: 

  • 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 10oz bag multi-chip morsels (milk,dark and white chocolate combined)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute or so. Beat in one egg at a time until they are both combined into the butter mixture. Add in the vanilla extract.
  3. With the speed on low, beat in the flour, baking soda, salt and oats. Add in the raisins, walnuts and chocolate chips and mix until just combined.
  4. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto an un-greased baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown and cooked through. Let the cookies cool slightly on a cooling rack prior to serving.

 

Chicken Fajitas

Looking for the perfect weeknight meal? Here you go! This is definitely a go-to meal in our house and is something that can get dinner on the table in a flash. Its full of comfort, flavor and a little spice to make it nice! My husband who used to HATE bell peppers LOVES these fajitas! It was a glorious moment for me.

Not only are these delicious, but look at how gorgeous and fun these can be! A family-style meal where everyone can have fun with their toppings and creativity. Lets take a second to talk about this chicken. YOU NEED THIS CHICKEN IN YOUR LIFE. This recipe is so used in our house that I am comfortable just pulling some frozen chicken out of the freezer, adding my seasonings and tossing it in the oven to let it do its thing. Its a lifesaver and turns out delicious every single time. Use it for whatever your heart desires.

Fajitas may not be anything spectacular, but they sure can deliver a whole lot of happiness. A work friend of mine and his family were facing some medical circumstances and he wanted to do something special for his wife for Valentine’s Day. He knew how much I loved to cook and asked me to make Valentine’s Day dinner for them. I was so excited to be able to do something to help him and his family out that of course I said yes! Instantly my mind started dreaming up all of these fancy Valentine’s Day dinners that I could make for them. And you wanna know what he asked for? Fajitas. Fajitas, people. I was instantly humbled and reminded that food can be SO memorable, comforting and healing.

I hope that this recipe can bring your family happiness, ease and comfort the way that it has for our family! Plus, whats better than smelling like a chicken fajita after you have made these? And the leftovers are just as good!

 

Chicken Fajitas

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 bell peppers, such as red, green, orange or yellow – sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole wheat tortillas (or tortilla of choice)

Topping Ideas:

  • shredded cheese
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • avocado/guacamole
  • tortilla chips
  • radishes
  • fresh bell peppers
  • jalapenos
  • lettuce

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a 13×9 baking pan, coat the chicken tenders with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, seasoned salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, preheat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining olive oil. Saute the bell peppers in the skillet for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and slightly caramelized. Add in the garlic and season the bell peppers with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and continuing cooking and stiring until the bell peppers are cooked through and caramelized, about 10 minutes total. If you enjoy the flavor, you can let the bell peppers char slightly.
  3. After 20 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and turn the broiler on high. Remove the foil from the pan and put the chicken back in the oven uncovered underneath the broiler. Broil for a minute or so and remove from the oven. Chop the chicken into 1-inch pieces inside all of the natural juices that came off of the chicken in the 13×9 pan. Stir to coat the chicken pieces in the natural sauce and serve.

Chocolate Hazelnut Strawberry Galette

If you know me, my all-time, favorite, go-to every night dessert is Nutella and bananas (‘Tella and nanas). It’s my dessert love and I don’t mess with it – just slice up a banana and eat it with a nice dollop of Nutella. It makes me happy happy happy and I will not eat Nutella any other way as a dessert. But then I made No-Churn Nutella Ice Cream, and that very slightly started to open me up to the idea of eating Nutella and any other way. And then I made this galette…what is wrong with me?! Oh Nutella, how I love you so. I will always resort back to my ‘Tella and nanas.

I love LOVE galettes, because let’s be honest, its a lazy pie. And lazy pie is a good thing. You just roll out the crust, fill it on up with goodies galore, fold over the edges and let the oven do the rest of the work. Sounds good to me! Strawberry season is up on us and this is such a fun, nutty, chocolatey way to enjoy them. Plus, it’s minimal effort so you can give a wow with a little how. Wow, how, now, pow. You get the idea. You just need to make it for yourself to believe it. And trust me, it won’t last long!

You can slice it and serve it up nicely, or just pass some forks around and let everyone dig in. Dollop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and call it a party.

This post is not sponsored by Nutella РI JUST LOVE IT THAT MUCH. 

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Strawberry Galette 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 round pie crust (store bought or favorite homemade recipe)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
  • 16 oz strawberries, tops removed and cut length-wise into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll your pie crust out onto a baking sheet. Spread 1/4 cup of the chocolate hazelnut spread in a circle starting at the middle of the pie crust and leaving 2 inches of crust on the sides.
  3. Layer the strawberries in a flower-like pattern on top of the chocolate hazelnut spread until all the strawberry pieces are used. Fold the extra 2 inches of pie crust over the strawberries to create a folded edge. Work your way all around the strawberries in this fashion.
  4. Sprinkle the top of the strawberries and crust with the brown sugar and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the strawberries are cooked through and starting to bubble. Don’t worry if the juices leak out of the bottom.
  5. Microwave the remaining chocolate hazelnut spread for about 20-30 seconds, or until it is more smooth and runny. Drizzle the top of the galette with the melted chocolate hazelnut spread and serve while still warm.

 

 

Skillet Chicken with Lemon-Herb Pan Sauce

Winner winner chicken dinner! But, in all seriousness, this chicken dish is a WINNER. There is an explosion of flavor in every bite, but made with the ease of a weeknight meal. This is a meal that you (and everyone around you) are going to want over and over again. A new dinner staple? I think so! Also, I think its super fun to make and my house smelled like wine, butter, garlic, herbs, lemon and chicken and it was a very wonderful thing.

I love how versatile this chicken dish can be. I ended up serving it with parmesan couscous and asparagus, but it could be served with any veggie of your choosing and any starch of your choice. Pasta, rice, potatoes, and risotto are all excellent choices in my opinion. Whatever you have in your fridge, or whatever you are whipping up to go along side, this chicken will shine. Now, lets talk about the sauce. YOU NEED THIS SAUCE IN YOUR LIFE. Making it in the same pan that you cooked the chicken in is vitally important for the depth of flavor that you will achieve in making this sauce. I literally wanted to lick it off the plate. My husband loved it, I loved it, and the leftovers were equally as delicious (meal prep, anyone?).

The chicken can either be cooked in a cast iron skillet, or a large skillet that you have on hand. You can slice the chicken diagonally and serve it up with the sauce swooshed over it as a scrumptious garnish, or you can serve it on a platter family-style for everyone to pass around and take their own.

Make this skillet chicken dish a winner at your house.

 

Skillet Chicken with Lemon-Herb Pan Sauce 

 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper

 

Directions:

  1. In the bottom of a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken breasts in the skillet, turning them after the first side is browned, about 8 minutes. Continue cooking the other side until equally browned. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate and set aside.
  2. Pour the white wine into the skillet to de-glaze the pan, scrapping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add in the butter, tomatoes, parsley, garlic and lemon juice and bring to a quick simmer.
  3. Add the chicken breasts back into the pan sauce and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and let cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are cooked through and tender.  Remove from the heat.
  4. Serve the chicken with the pan sauce.

 

Very Berry Pie

You do not have to be a professional pie maker to make a pie. I repeat: you do not have to be a professional pie maker to make a pie! To me, making a successful pie was like reaching the ultimate threshold of family cooking. My Grandma has always been the pie maker in the family, so if you could make a pie as good as Grandma’s you were set for life. And by golly, this past Thanksgiving I made an apple pie with¬†store bought pie crust, and my Grandma LOVED it! She, in fact, went back for seconds and never would have guessed that it was a store bought dough (same thing happened with my Caramel Apple Sangria). But, with that being said, if you are wizard pie crust maker, or picking up a pack of it in your local grocery store, you can be the professional pie maker you desire to be.

I love the combination of mixed berries instead of just having one berry shine throughout the pie. They each brighten each other to make it a very berry delicious pie! I will have to admit, I’ve been playing a lot of Call of Duty with my husband lately (yes let your jaws drop) and this pie came to be on a perfectly lazy Sunday filled with church, coffee, video games and pie making. You could say that my husband was on cloud nine. Also!! These pictures were taken at our new house that is being built! Its crunch time and we couldn’t be more excited (month to move-in!). House pictures to come on another day, but for now here is some pie.

This is the perfect pie for any family occasion or any just-because. I used Sarah Kieffer’s “All Butter Pie Crust” recipe from¬†The Vanilla Bean Baking Book¬†and it was TO DIE FOR. Seriously, so good. Turn to your favorite pie crust recipe, even if its store bought! You just gotta get this pie in the oven.

PS – these cute, little plates are from a local antique store. You never know what you will find!

 

Very Berry Pie

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 double-crust pie dough
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 6 oz blackberries
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water)

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pie crust as directed for your recipe of choosing.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together the blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch until evenly combined. Let sit for 5-10 minutes prior to baking.
  4. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with your first half of pie dough so that the dough is pressed evenly into the bottom of the pie plate and up the edges. Evenly pour in the berry mixture.
  5. Top the berry mixture with the second half of pie crust. It can either be done in lattice or a full pie dough crust with slits in the middle to prevent it from puffing up. Crimp the edges of the two pie doughs together to seal it. You can either press the edges with a fork, or crimp them with your fingers to add a decorative edge. Brush the top pie dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining Tablespoon of sugar.
  6. Bake the pie for 30-35 minutes, reducing the heat to 375 if need be to prevent browning too quickly. Let the pie rest at least 4 hours prior to serving.

 

PB & J Cinnamon Rolls

Peanut butter jelly time! Peanut butter jelly time! If you know what song I’m talking about, no baseball bats are involved in this today, but peanut butter and jelly most certainly are! You guys, I can’t tell you how amazing this crazy combination tastes. The cinnamon adds just the perfect amount of warmth and feel-good to the jelly, and a peanut butter cream cheese frosting? Oh yeah! That frosting can just be eaten with a spoon. Theres peanut butter in it so really, it does have some health benefits. The classic PB&J flavors amp up the classic cinnamon roll for a little PBJ/Cinny party in your mouth.

Minds will be blown. Hearts will be won. Tastebuds will be satisfied. You can be super fancy-dancy and toss in some fresh berries with the filling to get perfectly plump and baked sweetly into the cinnamon roll dough. It would be extra special. But give me some plain ol’ jelly and that makes me happy! Grape please (but you can use flavor of choice). Then theres the debate between creamy peanut butter or crunchy. Whatever side of the battle you choose to stand on (creamy for me!), you can use either in the frosting. The crunchy would add a nice crunch element (ha) to the jelly/cinny roll. You could even go as far as topping it off with some roasted peanuts…if you wanted to go that far.

I had my two little helpers with me, Darbi and Charlee, and they couldn’t resist taking a bite out of these! I guess I’ll let it pass because it was pretty darn cute staring into those puppy eyes. These rolls have officially been pup-approved.

 

PB & J Cinnamon Rolls

 

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar, plus 1/2 cup
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm/hot water
  • 1 stick butter (8 Tablespoons)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour

For the filling:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup jelly (grape, raspberry etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

 

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, 1 Tablespoon sugar and warm water together until combined. Set aside to let the yeast activate.
  2. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter and the milk until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and the salt until combined. Slowly whisk in the butter and milk mixture followed by the yeast mixture. Fold in the flour until the dough is combined and forms a loose ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm area (top of stove, sunny window) to let the dough rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Evenly spread the filling’s 2 Tablespoons of butter across the surface of the rectangle. Lightly mix together the remaining filling ingredients in a small bowl and spread as an even layer across the dough.
  6. Starting at one end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log until reaching the other end of the rectangle. Slice the roll into 12-15 individual cinnamon rolls and place them in a sprayed cast iron skillet or baking pan.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown on top. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, whip together the frosting ingredients until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting on top of the cinnamon rolls once they have cooled for awhile after coming out of the oven.

 

 

Creamy Spinach Lasagna

A one-pan-wonder. We all need them, we all gotta have them. And this lasagna certainly is one of them! What is a one-pan-wonder you ask? Well, let me just tell you. A complete meal of a protein, starch and veggie all wrapped up in one package to serve up to your family. Simply put, a one-pan-wonder! You have all you need for a complete meal in one scoop. What more could you ask for? CHEESE. Yes! The more cheese the better. It has spinach in it, so you could basically say its healthy.

Sometimes just setting a big ol’ pan of lasagna on the table is all you need to not only feed a crowd (and have leftovers!), but also feed the soul. Theres just something about it! I grew up watching and helping my mom make homemade lasagna and I always have the way hers taste stuck in my mind to compare all lasagnas to. She’s the queen of lasagnas to me (and many other things if you’ve ever met her – she’s awesome and has a t-shirt that says it). But no matter what was thrown into the sauce or filling in between sheets of lasagna, you always¬†always¬†had to have cottage cheese. It just isn’t lasagna if you don’t use cottage cheese. Think we’re crazy? Go try it! And never turn back. Also, make sure you salt your noodles right after you drain them! Theres nothing better than a salty noodle.

I love how versatile lasagna can be. It literally can be clean-out-your-fridge type of meal where you go crazy and dump everything in (YOLO), or it can be sophisticated because in the end its noodly, cheesy goodness. If you’re in a time crunch and don’t want to make your own sauce and let it simmer away, your favorite jar of spaghetti sauce will work just fine. This is a meal meant to feed a family (even if its just a family of one!), so do whatever you gotta do to get it on the table…or couch…You just gotta eat it!

Side note: you may have some extra lasagna noodles leftover depending on how you layer things. That is A-OK because a little pasta snack never hurt anyone while waiting for their lasagna to bake to golden perfection.

 

Creamy Spinach Lasagna 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 16oz box lasagna noodles
  • 1 15oz container low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 12oz container low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium-large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the ground beef and cook until browned, about another 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano into the ground beef mixture. Stir until combined and bring to a very low boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or during the time that it takes for the pasta to cook. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Boil the lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water according to package instructions. Lightly salt the noodles after draining.
  5. To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan. Layer these ingredients evenly afterwards: lasagna noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese (all of it), 1 cup spinach, lasagna noodles, sauce, cottage cheese (all of it), 1 cup spinach, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, lasagna noodles, sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and the asiago cheese.
  6. Bake the lasagna for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese on the top is melted and bubbly. Let sit for a few minutes prior to serving and top with fresh basil as a garnish.

 

Carrot Oatmeal Cream Pies

How is it April already?! March flew by (March does not usually fly by- longest month ever it seems like). Oh well, bring on the sunshine! Take for example these Carrot Oatmeal Cream Pies, how does that not scream sunshine and happiness? The perfect amount of carrot mixed into cinnamony-sweet oatmeal cookie being hugged by another cookie with silky-smooth cream cheese frosting as the glue. Hand me one, please! I’ll take a Carrot Oatmeal Cream Pie hug. Lots of them too.

These little hugs are perfect for any time of the day treats. Easter is coming up and these will definitely be on the menu! A fun cookie to grab and take with you as you are making the holiday hug rounds through the family. Hug a family member, smile and answer some questions – take a bite of a carrot oatmeal cream hug (spirits lifted) and proceed.

I was originally making these carrot oatmeal cookies to have a cream cheese drizzle laced across the top of them. When I started that thought process as the cookies were baking and cooling and my cream cheese was whipping up in the nearby Kitchenaide, I said no way! These cookies are going to be smooshed between a layer of cream cheese frosting. Only a drizzle of cream cheese frosting? What was I thinking – you need a whole swoop of it! But if you want to drizzle thats fine to. We all know inside that the cream cheese frosting is the best part of a carrot cake.

 

 

Carrot Oatmeal Cream Pies 

Makes 24 cookies or 12 cookie sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 6 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2 sticks of butter together on medium speed with the sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one at a time until combined. Beat in the baking soda, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, salt, flour, rolled oats and the carrot until combined.
  3. Scoop the batter in rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until cooked through and slightly golden brown on top. Set the cookies aside on a cooling rack to cool completely prior to building the cream pies, at least 20-30 minutes.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the remaining stick of butter and the cream cheese together on medium speed to make the frosting. Beat for a couple minutes until they are combined and smooth. On low speed, mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Mix in the remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  5. Assemble the cream pies by spreading at least a tablespoon of frosting on the bottom side of half of the cookies. I would recommend splitting the frosting in between all of the cookies evenly if you prefer more frosting.
  6. Take the other half of the cookies and partner them bottom side down onto a frosted side of a similar sized cookie. Lightly press them together to seal the frosting on all sides of the cookies evenly.

 

Plum and Almond Chia Pudding Parfaits 

Chia seeds are the “in” thing right now and I just had to try this pudding thing with them. Let me tell you something, this is a bandwagon you need to jump on! Yes, chia seeds are packed full of all sorts of things that are good for you, but I just can’t get over the texture and taste that these little seeds make in a pudding! They puff up like little pearls of joy and take you back to your childhood of eating tapioca pudding at your Grandma’s house. BUT THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU AND TRENDY.

I don’t know what my deal is, but give me some almond extract and I’ll be happy. The addition of the almond to the chia pudding sweetened by a hint of honey is something to sing about. I could eat it just like that (and I did). Plums in season are so juicy, sweet and decadent and make the perfect pairing to my obsessive almond chia pudding. If you don’t have access to good plums, you could pair it with berries, peaches or even pears. Think of all the possibilities! Get really fancy and saut√© some apples in a little cinnamon butter and oh boy oh boy look what you just did. Maybe I’ll do that next…

The chia pudding does need at least a couple hours to set up in the fridge to make the pudding consistency, and they can soak overnight as well. Take a few minutes the night before to whip this up and then you have a scrumptious breakfast to wake up to. The chia pudding can be served in cute little cups, jars or bowls. Or all you need is a spoon.
Plum and Almond Chia Seed Pudding 


Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup soy or almond milk
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 4 plums, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Directions: 

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk, Greek yogurt, almond extract, honey and chia seeds.
  2. Refrigerate the chia seed mixture for at least 2 hours to overnight to set.
  3. Layer your chia seed pudding with the plums and sliced almonds in a cup, jar or bowl. Enjoy!

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned classic in your life. We were driving down the road the other day when I turned and said to my husband “I need an oatmeal raisin cookie” and by golly that started it all. A good ol’ raisin never hurt anyone and I was just needing that cinnamon-y goodness to go along with it. Its just one of those things that you close your eyes every time you take a bite and savor the wholesomeness of it. Plus, my theory is since it has oatmeal¬†and¬†raisins in it, it is completely acceptable to eat for breakfast, lunch, mid-day snack, dinner and dessert. You have all sorts of choices.

Baking these will make your home smell warm and scrumptious. You just won’t be able to resist! These little cookies are the perfect ratio of oatmeal, to brown sugar, to cinnamon to raisins and your tastebuds are going to sing for more. A batch makes 27 cookies and we may or may not have eaten them all within 3 days…

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

makes 27 cookeis

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter (16 tablespoons), softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute or so. Beat in one egg at a time until they are both combined into the butter mixture. Add in the vanilla extract.
  3. With the speed on low, beat in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and oats. Add in the raisins and mix until just combined.
  4. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto an un-greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until slightly golden brown and cooked through. Let the cookies cool slightly on a cooling rack prior to serving.

 

 

 

 

Citrus Sangria

AKA mimosa on steroids! I don’t know how much fresher you can get. Oranges, grapefruit and lemons take this sangria to the next level and is perfect for springtime and summer! Refreshingly sweet and tangy with the warmth of the wine running down your throat. Your kitchen is going to smell like tropical paradise after you are finished making this because of the citrus galore.

This sangria is perfect for any brunch that you are throwing to take your usual mimosa to the next level. Need an Easter cocktail? This is the one! You will love the familiar mimosa flavor amped up with extra oranges, grapefruit and lemons. Not only does this sangria go down easily, but it comes together in a snap. If you are making it ahead of time for a crowd, wait until you serve it to pour the champagne in. You don’t want to ruin the bubbly! Like anything, the longer this baby sits the more condensed the flavors are going to be.

I am a lightweight myself, so the wine and the champagne are enough for me. But if you would like to up the alcohol content even more, a splash of Triple Sec or Lemoncello will do the trick.

 

Citrus Sangria

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle riesling wine
  • 1 bottle champagne
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

 

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a large pitcher, excluding the champagne.
  2. Give the sangria a good stir to ensure that all of the ingredients are mixed together. Refrigerate for at least 30-45 minutes prior to serving. The sangria can be kept in the refrigerator up to 2 days prior to serving.
  3. Top the sangria off with the bottle of champagne and serve.

 

 

No-Churn Funfetti Cake Ice Cream

Sprinkles everywhere! What could be better? How ’bout adding in some cake, ice cream and of course some ice cream cones! I just can’t get over how fun this little dessert is! The idea of it came to me while I was laying in bed wide awake dreaming of funfetti cake and then ice cream and then LIGHT BULB in my head. Mind blown – Funfetti Cake Ice Cream. Dreams made. I was then content with myself and rolled over and fell asleep all snuggled up next to the hubs.

I, of course, had to make it a no-churn version because sometimes simplicity is key. This fun dessert can take you less than 20 minutes to whip up, but then you just have to have the self patience to wait until it sets in the freezer. Best action plan is to whip it up before you go to bed so then you can just fall asleep to funfetti cake ice cream dreams and wake up to frozen, creamy perfection. You shouldn’t have to torture yourself that way of having to actually be awake while you wait for this beauty, but if you have no other option I wish you the best luck.

Birthday celebrations or just for fun, this ice cream will win hearts and take names. Plus, who doesn’t love sprinkles?! They just make your life happier and full of sunshine. Since the recipe only calls for 2 cups of cubed yellow cake, I would recommend either buying a pre-made yellow cake (pound cake would work great) or you can mix up your own batch and have some extra cake to nibble on while you wait for the ice cream to freeze. Both are great options if you ask me.

 

No-Churn Funfetti Cake Ice Cream

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sprinkles
  • 1 – 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cake cones for serving if desired

 

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the sweetened condensed milk, cake, sprinkles and vanilla into the whipped cream, careful to not over-mix.
  3. Pour the ice cream mixture into a freezer-safe vessel (I use my loaf bread pan) and top with a few extra sprinkles prior to freezing.
  4. Freeze the ice cream for at least 4-6 hours prior to serving. It will keep well in the freezer for about a week.

Parchment Baked Salmon with Squash and Asparagus

“Salmon en papillote” if you want to be classy and precise (aka salmon in parchment). Whatever you want to call it, cooking salmon in parchment paper is going to be your new favorite! It certainly is mine. This dish is mind-blowing to me and in multiple ways! First, you are not going to believe how simple this dish is to prepare. Second, its going to be a flavor bomb in your mouth. And third, the salmon turns out so unbelievably tender that you are going to ask yourself why you have never done this before! Unless you have done it before, then you know what I’m talking about.

My inspiration for this dish came from something similar that I had at Pig & Finch in Omaha, NE (so if you are ever in Omaha you gotta try it!). I left the restaurant wide-eyed and determined to create my own little package of perfection. Speaking of which, not only does the parchment paper make the ultimate boat to cook and steam your salmon to fork-tender goodness, ¬†but doesn’t it look great too?! It makes a rustic serving vessel for your decadent salmon. Definitely a wow-your-guest kind of deal. Or you could just wow yourself. I noted below the way that I was able to get the parchment folded to create a little packet, but if you find an easier way, then by all means. Sometimes that parchment paper can have a mind of its own.

We also watched the movie “Catch Me If You Can” for the first time while eating this for dinner so I will probably always think of that movie now when I eat it. I had to re-heat it in the microwave for dinner because I made it earlier in the day (anything for the picture) and was shocked about how tender it remained! I had tasted it earlier in the day when I was taking pictures of it (you have to check if its poisonous or not) and had mentally prepared myself for it to be drier when we reheated it for dinner, but what was I thinking! Obviously don’t nuke it, but it does handle well be warmed back up.

Cooking salmon in parchment is my new friend. It should be yours too. Just keep in mind of building your layers when you are putting the parchment packages together. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and you can layer things however you would like. Just like cooking a po’ boy over the open fire if you are from the midwest (meat and potatoes wrapped in foil and thrown into the fire). Not like the po’ boy sandwich from Louisiana (but also very tasty).

Oh and by the way, if things just couldn’t get any better, its topped off with a mushroom duxelle butter sauce. You’re welcome.

 

Parchment Baked Salmon with Squash and Asparagus

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 6oz salmon filets
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large sheets parchment paper, each about the size of a regular-sized baking sheet

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the butternut squash on a baking sheet and coat evenly with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add in the mushrooms and garlic and saute until fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Using one sheet at a time, fold the parchment paper one-third of the way across itself to create a bottom for your package. Starting with the butternut squash  and dividing all the ingredients evenly between the four parchment packages, build your layers on the folded portion of the parchment paper, leaving at least 2 inches from the edge of the parchment to the ingredients. Top the butternut squash with the asparagus, keeping it as even as possible so that the salmon can sit on top of it. Top the asparagus with the salmon filet. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and layer a couple lemon slices on top. Top the salmon with the mushroom duxelle butter sauce, allowing the butter to overflow to the bottom ingredients.
  4. Fold the single layer of parchment paper over the top of your ingredients and crimp all of the edges together to seal it (like a calzone). Repeat this process with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Place the parchment packages on a baking sheet and bake for 20-23 minutes depending on desired doneness of the salmon. Open the parchment packages to reveal the salmon and vegetables and serve immediately.

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Blackberry Cream

Ooo la la this tart! Guys, talk about a show-stopper, drop-dead delicious dessert that you (or your guests/family) won’t be able to resist! Rich, creamy, flaky and perfectly fruity all wrapped up in one perfect little shell. The rich and creamy dark chocolate ganache filling gets paired with the blackberry cream of your dreams and you just won’t be able to stop yourself. It has blackberries on it, so that makes it somewhat healthy, right? Keep telling yourself that and the world will be just fine.

Not only is this tart gorgeous and delicious, but it comes together in a snap! This is the perfect dessert to serve for a party, get together, or a holiday. It needs time to set up in the fridge, so making it a day in advance is only to your advantage. All of your guests will be asking for more! My husband sure loved it, so much so that I shouldn’t exactly quote what he said, but he’s a big fan.

If you have a favorite or go-to pie crust recipe, then feel free to use it. I love the ease of just swinging by the refrigerated section of the grocery store and picking up some pie crust that tends to turn out every time. Blackberries have a subtle sweetness thats surrounded by a little tartness that cuts the chocolate at just the right amount. If blackberries aren’t in season or if you prefer a different berry, then use the same process as listed below with your berry of choosing.

The inspiration for this tart of joy originally came from doing a collaboration with Haley Chicoine Photography and Ali Marie Photography to create a moody wedding photoshoot. I used the same recipe, but little tartlet pans instead of a larger tart pan and they were the perfect little sweetness for our moody scene. Check out these lady’s websites to see the whole shebang!

 

Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Blackberry Cream

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made pie crust (or one pie crust recipe of your choosing)
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 6 oz blackberries, plus more for garnish
  • 1/3 cup sugar

 

Directions:

  1. In an 11-inch round tart pan, pre-bake the pie crust at designated temperature written on the pie crust’s instructions until it is golden and light brown. Make sure that you poke the bottom of the pie crust with a fork several times prior to baking to prevent it from getting air bubbles while baking. Once golden, set aside and let cool.
  2. In a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat, bring 2 cups of the heavy cream to a very low boil. Reduce the heat and whisk in the dark chocolate chips. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, continuing to whisk to prevent clumping.
  3. Pour the dark chocolate ganache filling into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.
  4. Prior to serving the tart, make the blackberry cream. Puree the blackberries with the sugar in a food processor until smooth. Strain the blackberry mixture to remove any seeds or skins.
  5. In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Gently fold in the blackberry puree into the whipped cream, careful to not over-mix.
  6. Top the tart with the blackberry cream and extra blackberries, or serve with the cream on the side. Enjoy!

 

 

Slow Cooker Chipotle Peach Pork Roast with Coconut Rice

Need a go-to dinner recipe to have up your sleeve? Here you go! Chipotle Peach Pork, Chipotle Peach Pork, Chipotle Peach Pork, Chipotle Peach Pork…try saying that five times fast! I sure can’t! Little tidbit about me: I couldn’t say cinnamon right for the longest time! It would take me awhile to get this one down. Even if it can be a tongue twister, it is a tastebud pleaser! This somewhat accidental recipe has turned into a new family favorite and I am completely ok with that.

Not only is this recipe jam-packed full of flavor, but you guys YOU CAN EAT IT LIKE 2736192486 different ways! Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you can seriously eat this pork so many ways! Top it off in a burrito bowl, salad, taco, roll it up in an enchilada, slice it up and serve it fancy with gravy from the drippings and mashed potatoes, toss it in to make a pork roast pot pie, serve it up for breakfast with a sunny-side up egg, crumble it into a hash, whisk it into a quiche, and the list could keep going. You’re welcome.

Here are my two favorite ways to serve it:

Taco/Burrito Style and Fancy Style (sliced).

If you are going to serve it up fancy style, just simply slice the roast after the appropriate amount of cook time and serve it with a gravy made out of the drippings left over in the slow cooker. Simply ladle the drippings into a sauce pan over medium-high heat and reduce the liquid down, skimming off any fat in the process. Make a roux out of a tablespoon of flour and 2 tablespoons of drippings, and whisk it into the reduced drippings. Voila! There’s your gravy. Serve it up with mashed potatoes and a green and you are all set.

Or take it taco style, which is obviously what I chose to do here, and serve it up with the Coconut Rice. Here are some must-have topping and pairing ideas:

  • pico de gallo
  • mango salsa
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro/green onions
  • black beans

and the list could go on.

So whatever way you choose to serve it or top it, I hope that it becomes one of your family favorites as well. Plus, its made in a slow-cooker and is better the next day as leftovers, what could be better?

PS – this recipe will also work great even if your pork loin roast is frozen as well!

 

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Peach Pork Roast with Coconut Rice

 

Ingredients:

For the pork:

  • 1 3-4lb pork loin roast
  • 16 oz frozen peaches
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock

For the rice:

  • 2 cups rice (white or brown)
  • 2 cups water
  • 13.5 oz coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro

 

Directions:

For the pork: 

  1. Place the pork loin roast in the bottom of a medium-large slow cooker and top the loin roast with the chili powder, chipotle powder, salt and pepper. Cover the pork with the peaches, onions, garlic and the chicken stock.
  2. With the lid on, set the slow cooker on low heat for 8 hours. Shred or slice the pork loin roast before serving in the cooking liquids to retain moisture.

For the rice:

  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring the water and coconut milk to a low boil. Add in the rice, cover with a lid and reduce to a medium simmer until all the liquid has been cooked into the rice. About 20 minutes.
  2. Fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the green onions and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bites

Sometimes you just need a little boost of energy, a mid-day snack, or a pre-workout jump to get you going and these little bites are just the thing! Not only do they come together easily, but they sure disappear just as easy! I love the fact that you can make your own energy bites (or bars!) and know all the goodies that are going into it. Wholesome little treat that you and your family will love! You just won’t be able to resist walking by these without popping one in your mouth (or two!).

Depending on the type of protein powder you use, you may need to refrigerate these little bites. Most protein powders will note if they need to be refrigerated, so just go by the instructions listed. Otherwise these little bundles should be good to last you awhile! That is if they last that long. This recipe can take any form, so bites or bars will both work great! If you are making bars, you just simply press the mixture into the bottom of 9×9 or 13×9 pam (depending on thickness level desired) that is lined with parchment or wax paper. Top them off with some extra chocolate chips and nuts and you are set to go!

 

A wholesome little recipe that you can have up your sleeve, and they are good for you too!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bites

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 serving protein powder (typically around 31 grams)

 

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix until equally combined.
  2. Working in 1 tablespoon increments, roll the chocolate peanut butter protein mixture in between your palms to form balls until all of the mixture is used. Let sit in a covered container for about 30 minutes prior to serving to allow the oats to soften slightly. Continue to store in covered container until eaten.

 

Mango Matcha Green Smoothie

I don’t know what my deal has been lately, but all I’ve been wanting is spinach, spinach and more spinach. So much so that on my lunch break last week I just had to run to Whole Foods and pick up the necessary ingredients to make my go-to green smoothie. I’ve never been much of a tea drinker, but I’ve been seeing this matcha stuff popping up everywhere and I had to see what it was all about. Plus, it makes a perfect companion to all that spinach I’ve been wanting.

I am completely and totally hooked on matcha. Not only is it packed full of nutrients, but it also has a natural caffeine level to it to help give you a boost for your day! This could be the perfect morning smoothie to give you a kick start, or if you are more like me and gotta have your coffee in the morning, this is a perfect addition to your lunch or midday snack. A healthy, nutrient packed smoothie that also gives you some natural caffeine – what more could you ask for?!

This recipe is also dairy-free if you utilize the soy milk. If you are wanting to achieve a more creamy texture without the addition of greek yogurt (which is a great addition!), simply add extra frozen mango to your recipe. It makes the smoothie more thick and creamy without having to add in any extra ingredients. I love using honey as a natural sweetener to many of my dishes and this smoothie is just the same. Sometimes you can find me pouring the honey in last right into the top of my glass and letting it sink to the bottom. The honey gets nice and cold from the smoothie on the way down and creates little frozen honey crystals (delicious little nuggets of joy and honey).

 

Mango Matcha Green Smoothie

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup spinach (1 large handful)
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey

 

Directions:

  1. Starting with the frozen mango chunks, add all of the ingredients into the bottom of a blender.
  2. Blend on high for several minutes or until the smoothie is to the desired texture and consistency. More soy milk may need to be added depending on desired consistency. Enjoy!

 

 

Butter Tomato Soup with the Creamiest Grilled Cheese and Balsamic Roasted Veggies

We all need this classic in our life. Sometimes you just need a good, big bowl of tomato soup and a crispy, ooey, gooey grilled cheese to dunk on into it. Its a must. My inspiration for this recipe came from The Flourishing Foodie and her Butter Onion Tomato Soup with Pasta and Parmesan¬†and the fact of making a¬†butter tomato soup just blew my mind and I was hooked on the idea. I just had to see what this was all about! And oh boy, it is SO worth it! I went down a more traditional route with the soup to make it a more classic tomato and basil combo, and I just can’t get over the depth and flavor of this soup! We’ve had it like 4 times in the past couple weeks and there is no shame at all.

You just can’t have a bowl of tomato soup without having a grilled cheese to go along with it. Thats just like having macaroni with no cheese – it just isn’t right! A grilled cheese needs to have the perfect, golden-brown crust that cracks open to reveal a cheesy, gooey center ready to be dunked into a perfect bowl of tomato soup. My secret ingredient to my ultimate grilled cheese sandwich is a nice smear of cream cheese on the bread before you top it off with the classic cheddar cheese. Shhhh don’t tell anyone. Its that good.

The addition of the balsamic roasted veggies helps make it a more rounded meal to me. It just completes the tomato soup and grilled cheese combo! Plus, what a great way to sneak in some more veggies for your kids! I like the combination of butternut squash, kale and cauliflower, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand! Broccoli, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes any of it will do. What I love about all of these elements is that you can fondue-style it. I mean if you really think about it, dipping a grilled cheese sandwich into your tomato soup is almost like fondue – a tomato soup fondue. Dip those veggies just the same! Or stir them all into the velvety soup to get complete coverage and add some more depth to your soup.

This meal deal is the perfect weeknight, weekend, make ahead or re-heat leftovers kind of deal. You could even let the soup sit all day in the slow cooker so that all you have to do when you get home is roast some veggies and crisp up your grilled cheese! I love making this and then my husband and I treat ourselves to the leftovers the next couple nights. Are we eating too many grilled cheeses? Don’t even answer that.

 

 

Butter Tomato Soup with the Creamiest Grilled Cheese and Balsamic Roasted Veggies

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 32oz carton vegetable stock
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the grilled cheese:

  • 1 loaf sliced sourdough bread
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • Garlic salt to taste

For the veggies:

  • 3 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper

 

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring the diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, 1/2 stick of butter, onion, and tomato paste to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and let cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Using either a blender, food processor or an immersion blender, blend the soup mixture until smooth. Return the soup to the original pot (not applicable if using an immersion blender) and stir in the basil, salt and pepper. Taste the soup and add more seasoning as needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  2. When the soup is in the last 15 minutes of cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the veggies with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Spread them on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 15 minutes or until the veggies are soft and slightly caramelized.
  3. Using two slices of bread for each grilled cheese, spread the remaining softened butter on the outsides of each slice of bread being used for the grilled cheese. Dividing the ingredients evenly amongst the number of sandwiches, continue to spread the cream cheese on the inside of one slice of bread per sandwich. Layer the cheddar cheese on top of the cream cheese and lightly sprinkle with garlic salt. Top the cheddar cheese with the second piece of buttered bread.
  4. Preheat a non-stick skillet over high heat and cook the grilled cheese sandwiches buttered side down until golden-brown and crispy on both sides and the cheese is melted, flipping only once.
  5. Serve the tomato soup with the roasted veggies either on the side or on top of the soup, and the grilled cheese sliced and ready to dunk. Enjoy!

 

Homestyle Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting 

There is honestly nothing better than a batch of cinnamon rolls baking away in your oven. You can see the original cinnamon rolls I grew up on here, but sometimes a girl (and guy!) just needs some cream cheese frosting on top of those fluffy rolls of cinnamon! I absolutely love the simplicity of this recipe and how easy these rolls come together. That’s why I call them homestyle! The base sweet roll is my Grandma’s recipe and boy, she sure knows how to make a good cinnamon roll! I’m glad I got the family gene.

I had never baked cinnamon rolls in a cast iron skillet before and it seemed to be the cool and hip thing to do nowadays, so I gave it a whirl. Honestly to me, it’s more so for looks and a “homey” feel for your rolls, but there was not much cooking difference between using the skillet or a baking pan. If you are using a cast iron skillet, make sure it has been properly seasoned prior.

Cream cheese frosting, to me, is the best of all the frostings out there. I add just a little vanilla to mine, but also go down the almond extract road every once in awhile instead. The rolls are always best right out of the oven with a smear of cream cheese frosting melting away into the ever-so-coveted center piece.
Homestyle Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting


Ingredients: 


  • 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, plus 3 Tablespoons all at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt¬†
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions: 


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the yeast, 1 Tablespoon sugar and warm water together until combined. Set aside to let the yeast activate.
  2. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter and the milk until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and the salt until combined. Slowly whisk in the butter and milk mixture followed by the yeast mixture. Fold in the flour until the dough is combined and forms a loose ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm area (top of stove, sunny window) to let the dough rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Melt the 3 Tablespoonsof butter and spread a thin layer of melted butter across the surface of the dough, approximately 1/4 of the melted butter. Dust the top of the buttered surface with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in an even layer, followed by the cinnamon in the same method.
  6. Starting at one end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log until reaching the other end of the rectangle. Slice the roll into 12-15 individual cinnamon rolls and place them in a sprayed cast iron skillet or baking pan.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown on top. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, whip the remaining one stick of butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together in a medium size bowl until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting on top of the cinnamon rolls.

 

No-Churn Samoas Cookie Ice Cream

The time has come – Girl Scout cookie season is upon us! We all know those little boxes get us. Especially one little box in particular. The green boxes, yellow boxes and orange boxes are all wonderful in their own way, but that little purple box stacked full of those shortbread cookies perfectly coated in caramel, coconut and drizzled with chocolate. They have a way to my heart, and every year I have to get my hands on at least a couple boxes. So why not turn one of my favorite cookies into an ice cream? Count me in! Girl Scouts don’t have anything on me after this ice cream! Just kidding…they have everything on me.

I’m also on a no-churn ice cream kick and I am completely ok with that. So is my husband. The creaminess of the ice cream swirled with the toasty coconut flakes and fudgy chocolate are what dreams are made of. No-Churn Samoas Cookie Ice Cream dreams to be precise. Not only does this ice cream come together in a jiff, but it will fulfill any Samoas cookie cravings that you may have! Even if you don’t have any Samoa cookies or Girl Scout cookies on hand, this ice cream won’t disappoint. But if you do have the cookies on hand, layer those puppies on in between the ice cream and chocolate! The more the merrier if you ask me.

Toasting the coconut helps deliver a full nutty flavor to the ice cream, and the sweetened condensed milk will give it a caramel touch. Waiting for this ice cream to freeze is the hardest part. You may need to make a double batch, or at least I do in my household because my husband sits down and eats it straight out of the container with a spoon.

Also, completely in love with my new ice cream scoop from Lumberjack Luke! All of his work is fantastic and he custom-made the ice cream scoop pictured above to my liking! Don’t worry, theres still more ice cream scoops, cutting boards and goodies to go around.

 

No-Churn Samoas Cookie Ice Cream

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • Crushed Samoas cookies

 

Directions:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. During that time period, lightly toast the coconut in a small saute pan over low-medium heat until light brown. Set aside to cool.
  • Fold the sweetened condensed milk and the coconut into the whipped cream until evenly combined. In a bread pan or any other freezer-safe bowl/dish/pan, pour 1/4 of the cream mixture into the bottom and spread evenly. Drizzle 1/4 of the melted chocolate on top of that base layer of ice cream and sprinkle with the crushed cookies and continue to layer in the same fashion of pouring the ice cream mixture and then drizzling with chocolate and sprinkling with cookies until it is all used.
  • Freeze the ice cream mixture for at least 6 hours prior to serving.

 

 

 

 

Homemade Chicken Ramen 

Ok I admit, I had never eaten ramen until last year. Yes I know it’s crazy that I never had the well-known salty noodles growing up, but let me tell you where my ramen-eating journey started. Last year, my husband and I went to San Francisco for our anniversary trip and were taken to a ramen bar by some friends and locals to the area. Oh. My. Goodness. I crave it still every day of the year! (That’s 365 days of craving ramen from Iza Ramen) It is mind-blowing good and from then on my perspective of ramen was forever changed. We then came home from our trip and my husband convinced me to try the little package guys of ramen, and even though the saltiness helps cure some cravings it just wasn’t the same. 


So, for the past year I’ve been dreaming up some homemade ramen concoctions. Trying to decided how I was going to pull off the perfectly boiled egg that still has a soft center and chunks of nori that I would have swimming around in my bowl. It was almost daunting. The task of making the most perfect ramen bowl was just so burned into my mind that I avoided doing it. And by golly the other night, I did it. It was done more so on a whim. I had absolutely no intentions of making ramen for dinner that night and it just happened and I’m sure glad it did! Do you know how easy it is to develop those deep, crave-worthy flavors in your own kitchen?! You can do it! (And all for around 30 minutes of your time!) You don’t have to plate up anything fancy or have the worlds best egg or double-fried pork loin floating on top of your ramen bowl (but if you want to then YES.) but you can make a simple, flavorful and much healthier version on your own! With ingredients that you may already have in your fridge. 


If you have access to a local store that provides authentic ramen noodles, then definitely take advantage of that! Otherwise, since I live in Nebraska I just used the pre-packed ramen noodles you can find at any grocery store (flavor packs tossed). Also, swing by your grocery store’s Chinese food section and snag a couple pairs of chopsticks to help you slurp down these noodles. Mix up your usual week-night meals and blow your ramen-loving family and friends minds with your own homemade version. 

Homemade Chicken Ramen 


Ingredients: 

  • 32 oz chicken stock 
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, plus more for garnishing 
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 – 3 oz packages ramen noodles, flavor packets removed. 

Directions: 


  1. In a large pot, bring the chicken stock, water and bouillon cubes to a low boil. Add in the chicken breasts and poach them until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Add in the green onions. At this point, the stock and chicken can be reduced to a simmer and cooked for 1-2 hours to develop more flavor, or can be moved onto the next step. 
  2. Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside. Add the mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper into the pot and cook until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the ramen noodles into the pot and use a fork to string them apart as they cook. Cook the ramen noodles for 3-4 minutes and reduced the heat to low. 
  3. Thinly slice the chicken breasts and place the slices back into the ramen noodles to be warmed through. Serve with green onion garnish. 

No-Churn Nutella Ice Cream

Dear Nutella,

You have been my faithful friend – my go-to at the end of the day no matter what. My tastebud’s companion. My right hand man. Where would I be without you? 

Sincerely, 

Your favorite daily consumer. 
A little much? Oh well. It’s Nutella! How could you not? My love for Nutella runs deep. So, why not Nutell ice cream? Nutella and ice cream in the same title. You’re welcome. 


I love how creamy and delicious this ice cream turned out. Get your spoons ready, because you are going to want to dive into this one! Plus, it’s no-churn so it’s easy-peasy and you have Nutella ice cream in front of you in no time. Ok, you do have to wait for it to freeze which can feel like forever, but it is definitely worth the wait! If you can’t wait for it to freeze all the way, then there’s nothing wrong with soft serve Nutella ice cream. There’s nothing wrong with Nutella ice cream at all. Three simple ingredients is all that you need to have this delicious, lucious bowl of wonderfulness in front of you. Drizzle it with warm Nutella before you dig in and you are set to go.



No-Churn Nutella Ice Cream


Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 cups Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread 
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk 

Directions: 

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside. 
  2. In a separate small bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk and Nutella until combined. Fold the Nutella mixture into the whipped cream until evenly combined and creamy. 
  3. Pour the ice cream into a bread loaf pan or any other freezer-safe pan that you would like to use. Freeze for 6 hours prior to serving. 

Banana-Berry Smoothie Bowl

Aren’t smoothie bowls just the greatest? I’m mean think about it – who would of thought to pour their favorite smoothie into a bowl, top it with goodies galore and have it be the new biggest thing ever in the smoothie world? I bet it happened on accident. Yep, I can see it now. Smoothie pour over situation gone wrong and a bowl to the rescue. However it happened, I’m sure glad it did! Smoothie bowls are such a fun and decorative way to get those healthy fruits and veggies in you! This Banana-Berry version sure does not disappoint. Packed full with nutrient-rich blueberries and blackberries, this smoothie bowl is just waiting to be topped off with your favorite choices and enjoyed. 


You can adjust and tweak the recipe however you would like, but I love the addition of cinnamon and honey to give the berrys some warmth. Plus, when you are eating a smoothie bowl in the middle of January in Nebraska, you are going to want some comfort and warmth. Either way, it’s delicious! It almost, almost, is like eating blueberry pie. But we won’t go that far because let’s be honest, a smoothie will never be the same as pie. Or cake. Or brownies. Oh geez, that’s a bad trail to go down! Setting all dessert cravings aside, this smoothie bowl will be the perfect treat, lunch, snack or go-to recipe for you! Also, what better way to have the kiddos help you out in the kitchen and get some healthy goodies in them! 


Top this smoothie off with whatever your heart desires. The possibilities and combinations are endless! The contents of the smoothie can also be adjusted to adapt to what you have on hand or what flavor combos you like. A handful of fresh strawberries or some frozen peaches wouldn’t be bad at all! You can also add in your favorite protein powders etc. to amp up this smoothie even more. Make eating healthy fun!

Banana-Berry Smoothie Bowl

Makes 2 servings 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup blueberries 
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon honey 

Topping Ideas: 

  • Kiwi
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Coconut flakes 
  • Dark chocolate
  • Chopped nuts (I used honey roasted almonds) 
  • Chia seeds
  • Mango

Directions: 

  1. Put all the smoothie ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into bowls and top with desired topping. Enjoy! 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cups 

Give me chocolate and raspberries and my tastebuds will go straight to Valentine’s Day. Not that the combination of chocolate and raspberries is strictly for the heart-filled holiday, but it certainly is up there for that special day’s dessert combos. My husband and I trade off every Valentine’s Day each year as to who is going to plan our evening and dinner. This is my year! Instead of going out and paying for a fancy dinner in an over-crowded restaurant that you had to reserve a month in advance (which isn’t always a bad thing!) I am going to whip up a nice, little romantic dinner at home. When it comes to dessert on Valentine’s Day, you have to have something chocolately and indulgent. Not only that, but it needs to be fuss-free! That’s where these little mousse cups come in to steal the spotlight. 


I mean, just look at them! How much better can it get?! I love the simplicity and endless possibilities for these mousse cups. You can whip them up ahead of time, and pull them out of the refrigerator when dessert time rolls around. Feeding a crowd? Even better, just double to recipe if needed! The recipe is perfected for a dinner for two, but I guess sharing is a good thing too. I started layering away with my different mousse flavors and then topped them off with some raspberries and brownie pieces, but you could definitely layer the toppings in as well! Wine glasses, champagne flutes or anything that you can fit a spoon into will do just fine. As long as you can eat it, then you’re good. 


The perfect hint of raspberry to make the chocolate come to life with every spoonful. Whip these little cuties out for dessert and they certainly won’t disappoint! 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cups 


Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup raspberries, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream 
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

Topping Ideas: 

  • Raspberries
  • Brownie pieces 
  • Dark chocolate nibs 
  • Pistachios
  • Strawberries
  • White chocolate chips

Directions: 

  1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, bring the raspberries, water and sugar to a simmer. Let simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until the raspberries are soft and the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and smash the raspberries with the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture into a separate small bowl to remove any seeds from the raspberries. Set aside to cool. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip the heavy cream until light and fluffy and stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Divide the whipped cream evenly into two separate bowls. Fold the raspberry mixture into one half and the melted chocolate into the other half until combined. 
  3. Using a piping bag or a freezer bag with an edge cut off, alternate piping the raspberry mouse and chocolate mousse into the glasses. Top with desired toppings or layer them in between the mousse layers. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to serving and up to a day in advance. 

Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

These are the cinnamon rolls of all cinnamon rolls. I may be slightly biased,though, because this recipe is based off of the cinnamon rolls I grew up eating that my Grandma would make for my family and I. But, you could be biased too once you sink your teeth into these decadent cinnamon rolls! There’s no need to worry about whipping up a frosting for these, because the brown sugar caramel pecan topping will take care of you just fine. So fine that you may just need to make a double batch. 


One of the greatest parts about making these rolls, besides how easy it is to make your own dough at home, is the final flip to get them out of the pan right after they come out of the oven. Hot and gooey brown sugar pecan caramel oozing over the cloudy edges of the most perfect cinnamon rolls you’ve ever made. I bet you won’t be able to keep your hands off of them! I sure can’t. My husband sure can’t either (how can we be down to only two rolls left?!) 


I can remember sitting at my Grandma’s kitchen table patiently waiting as she was rolling out the cinnamon roll dough. These rolls are perfect on their own, but she would always give me the choice to have raisins or chocolate chips added in before she rolled them up. Being me, chocolate was definitely my first choice. Most of the time she would do half and half to make everyone happy, but you can bet my little hands were all over the chocolate chip stuffed cinnamon rolls. Never had chocolate chips in your cinnamon rolls? You better try it! It’s not only the taste of these cinnamon rolls that makes me love them so much, but the memories that come along with them. They are definitely a staple in my family and I hope that you can create lasting cinnamon pecan roll memories with yours. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Pecan Rolls 


Ingredients: 

  • 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water 
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon 
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon 
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 

Instructions: 

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the yeast, 1 Tablespoon sugar and warm water together until combined. Set aside to let the yeast activate. 
  2. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter and the milk until smooth. Set aside to cool. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and the salt until combined. Slowly whisk in the butter and milk mixture followed by the yeast mixture. Fold in the flour until the dough is combined and forms a loose ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm area (top of stove, sunny window) to let the dough rise for 1-1 1/2 hours. 
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Melt the remaining 1 stick of butter and spread a thin layer of melted butter across the surface of the dough, approximately 1/4 of the melted butter. Dust the top of the buttered surface with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in an even layer, followed by the cinnamon in the same method. Combine the leftover melted butter with the brown sugar and pecans and spread in the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan. 
  6. Starting at one end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log until reaching the other end of the rectangle. Slice the roll into 12-15 individual cinnamon rolls and place them top side down on top of the brown sugar pecan mixture in the baking pan. 
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown and the mixture on the bottom of the pan has caramelized. Immediately flip the cinnamon rolls over onto a baking sheet after removing from the oven and let cool slightly prior to serving. 

Turkey Chili with Black Beans and Butternut Squash 

Eating healthy and what’s good for your body doesn’t mean you should have to give up comfort. Drum roll please… Turkey Chili with Black Beans and Butternut Squash! Put all your fears of only crunching on celery and slurping down kale smoothies aside and put your pjs on because we are about to get comfy. Not only is this chili loaded with flavor, warmth and is good for your soul, but it carries a lot of healthy protein from the turkey and black beans and friendly fiber and potassium from the butternut squash. Healthy, delicious chili and snuggles, what more could you possibly need? 


This recipe originally came to be on whim. I was out at my parents house on the farm, the menfolk were working outside and my mom had made a quick trip into town. So, with dinner time nearing and having been decorating their Christmas tree all day and being in the mood to get in the kitchen, I got to cooking. There was nothing laid out or defrosted, so I started scrummaging through the freezer and cupboards to see what I could put together. And voila! The turkey chili of our dreams was born. 


I love how not only is this a healthy alternative, but it is definitely a crowd pleaser. I mean, we’ve already made it twice this week with no regrets! As any soup does, this chili gets better and better with time. The leftovers heat up perfectly (may just need to add a bit of water to thin it out) and it is a great go-to to have for dinner. We’ve been snarfing this down with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese and green onions as our toppings, but any chili toppings you desire would go great with this bowl of goodness. Avocado anyone? I’ve been making this recipe on the stovetop, but I don’t see why you couldn’t throw it all into a crockpot as well. Snuggle up with a blanket and enjoy this delicious bowl of chili! 

Turkey Chili with Black Beans and Butternut Squash 


Ingredients: 

  • 16 ounces ground turkey 
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes 
  • 1 29 oz can tomato sauce 
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained 
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions: 

  1. In the bottom of a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and saut√© until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the ground turkey and cook until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add both cans of the tomatoes and the butternut squash into the pot. Stir and let simmer on high for 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic, chili powder, dried basil, cinnamon and black beans. Stir until combined. 
  3. Cover the pot and let simmer on low-medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with your choice of toppings. 

No-Churn Avocado Ice Cream

You guys, it finally legitimately snowed here in NE! I also have not been able to stop eating this avocado ice cream. That’s how my new year has been so far. Can you believe that it’s 2017?! With the new year, resolutions and goals are set and one of the main ones across the board is healthy eating and exercise. To me, I have never liked the idea of a “diet”, but rather the idea of a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy and delicious food that is packed full of nutrients for my body. With that being said, you can’t skimp when it comes to dessert! So why not dessert first this 2017? 


Disclaimer: brownie not included in recipe nor healthy lifestyle eating post, but give a little take a little, right? Plus, if you top a brownie off with avocado ice cream that makes it semi-healthy right? That’s what I was thinking when I snarfed it down for lunch one day. I absolutely love avocado anything, so I was very excited for this ice cream. I obviously loved the results as I have been eating them every day. Avocados are packed full of vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fatty acids. The creamy texture of the avocados only adds to the decadence of this ice cream, so what’s not to love? 


Yes this recipe includes heavy cream (I mean, it’s ice cream) and the only sugar comes from the sweetened condensed milk. As I was saying before, it’s all about balance. There’s so many ways you can go with toppings and mix-ins for this ice cream, but a couple that I went with were dark chocolate nibs and blueberries! The ice cream itself ended up tasting like cake batter to me, so you can start dreaming up what toppings you would desire! Any fruit would pair perfectly with this creamy delight, and certainly chocolate and sprinkles will never disappoint. Obviously from my pictures, brownies make a perfect pairing. 

No-Churn Avocado Ice Cream 


Ingredients: 

  • 1 small avocado, seed and skin removed
  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk 
  • Dark chocolate chips and blueberries for mix-ins or toppings 

Directions: 

  1. In a blender, blend the avocado and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whip the heavy cream with a whisk or beaters until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes depending on method of beating (by hand or beaters). 
  3. Fold the avocado mixture into the whipped cream until evenly combined, careful to not overmix. 
  4. Pour the avocado ice cream mixture into a small bread pan or pan/bowl of choice to be frozen in. Freeze for at least 5 hours or until set. Keep frozen for future enjoyment. 

Cotton Candy Champagne Flutes

Happy New Year!! Well, almost ūüėČ. It’s that time of year where everyone is reflecting back on the year past, and looking forward to the one ahead. Along with setting all sorts of goals and resolutions. I’m sitting here thinking man, how am I even going to be able to stay up until midnight for New Years Eve?! It’s gotten bad guys, let me tell ya. 8:30 last night my eyes were heavy and I was fighting it – it’s a struggle! Should I drink coffee all night or no? I haven’t decided yet. 


One thing we will be sipping on are these Cotton Candy Champagne Flutes! Talk about a fun, festive and easy cocktail! Hardly any work involved which is perfect if you are like me, because you’ll just be working to stay awake! This cocktail is a definite crowd pleaser and the ultimate “play with your food” kind of drink. You could just have all the ingredients assembled and let the guests have a blast creating their own! 


Skip the hustle and bustle this New Years Eve and have a simple yet fun cocktail that will wow your guests (or maybe just yourself). Cotton candy comes in all sorts of flavors and colors, so use whichever kind you like! I stuck with the original pink, but blue, green, yellow or purple would be fun to experiment with! Easiest grocery list, easiest directions – what more could you ask for? Use plastic champagne flutes and then you have the easiest clean up! 

Cotton Candy Champagne Flutes


Ingredients: 

  • Champagne 
  • Cotton candy 
  • Frozen mixed berries 

Directions: 


  1. Place a chunk of cotton candy in a champagne flute, poor the champagne over, and top with the frozen berries! 

Happy New Year! 



Christmas Sangria 

A little festive drink for the holidays is always needed, and this sangria calls my name! It’s the perfect amount of sweet, spice and everything nice. The swirled combination of the cranberries to the seasonal oranges all tied together with a rosemary simple syrup makes a Christmas package in every little sip. Plus, just take a look at this beauty! How could you not sing Christmas cheer for all to hear after you see (and taste!) this little package of joy?! 


The vibrant red tone from the cranberry juice contrasts perfectly with the bright oranges and earthy rosemary. I made this sangria for a little Christmas get-together with the girls and it was a hit! I am very much so a “light weight” when it comes to the alcohol department, so more can be added to give this recipe more of a kick. A little vodka would take care of that for you! I love the sweet, bubbly taste of a Riesling, but if you prefer a more dry white wine, then substitute your favorite in. Maybe a splash of red wine to give it a little more depth? The possibilities are endless! 


One requirement for me is that it needs to be easy to toss together and please a crowd. This Christmas Sangria sure does fit that card! Don’t fret about having to make a rosemary simple syrup, it mulls together perfectly on the stovetop in under 10 minutes. Don’t toss out the rosemary sprigs afterwards, because they can be dusted with sugar and add a winter wonderland effect to your Christmas gathering! I went ahead and tried tossing some of the extra cranberries in the leftover simple syrup to crystallize them as well, and they turned out just as cute and festive as can be. 


Pass this sangria around to be sipped on for some Christmas cheer this year! 

Christmas Sangria 
Ingredients: 

  • 1 bottle Riesling wine
  • 6 cups cranberry juice 
  • 1 large orange, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds 
  • 3/4 cup cranberries 
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dusting if doing so

Directions: 

For the rosemary simple syrup: 

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, sugar and rosemary sprigs to a low boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer on low for several minutes until fragrant. Remove from the simple syrup from the heat and set aside to cool with the rosemary sprigs removed.

For the sangria: 

  1. In a large pitcher, combine the Riesling, cranberry juice and rosemary simple syrup. Stir until combined. 
  2. Add the sliced oranges and the cranberries to the pitcher. 
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance prior to serving. Serve with fresh rosemary sprigs and candied cranberries if desired. 

Peppermint Brownies 

To me, something chocolately is always my go-to dessert selection. So naturally, brownies are always a win. Ghiradelli’s Peppermint Brownies? Even more of a win! I made these decadent brownies for our Christmas cookie day and they are most definitely worth it! I shamelessly snacked on them for the rest of the week when I went home for my lunch break and no one was watching. The perfect pairing of peppermint and chocolate make these brownies the right choice for your holiday season. The crunchy candy cane topping morphs into the chocolate bed they are sprinkled on to give them just the right amount of softness to take a bite out of. 


These brownies bake up with the crunchy corners and sides that are a brownie necessity, but the centers stay gooey and decadent. So whether your a corner or middle person, you’ll be happy. If you want to save the corners for me, I understand. I’ll take them! 


Using Ghiradelli chocolate products does really make the difference in your baked goods! The chocolate flavor comes out full and deep every time. I snagged my copy of The Ghiradelli Chocolate Cookbook years ago when my family visited the Ghiradelli Chocolate Store in Chicago and I’ve never looked back. It’s packed full of all your chocolate cravings and go-to recipes that never fail. I’ve been waiting for my chance to whip up these Peppermint Brownies and these brownies would be the perfect addition to your Christmas cookie tray! 

Peppermint Brownies 

Recipe adapted from The Ghiradelli Chocolate Cookbook 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate baking bar (Ghiradelli 100% Cocoa Unsweetened Chocolate) roughly chopped 
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or 1 bag of Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate with White Mint Filling Squares, unwrapped)
  • 4 candy canes, crushed 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper and set aside. 
  2. In a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate and butter together until smooth and set aside to cool to room temperature. 
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer or whisk, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt until combined. Mix in the melted chocolate mixer and then gently stir in the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Arrange the dark chocolate chips (or the mint squares) on top of the brownies in an even layer, and return the brownies to the oven for a minute longer or until the chocolate is melted. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top of the brownies and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Let cool before cutting and serving. 

Chai-Spiced Snowdrop Cookies 

Growing up, I can remember my Grandma making these snowball or “Russian Tea Cookies” and it was such a “grown-up” dessert, but then you can find me packing three or four of them into my mouth when the adults weren’t looking. For some reason, it was the cookie that you loved but didn’t want to admit that you did, because that would naturally make you old (coming from a kids point of view). So when I saw these Chai-Spiced Snowball Cookies out of The Gourmet Kitchen, I thought to myself what a wonderful world. 


These cookies are all of the wonderful memories of the ones I grew up on, with the added warmth and spice from the chai blend that you coat them with. They will make you home smell full of warmth and joy and as though you are carry a chai latte around in your hand. How can this not be the perfect cookie for the holiday season? Bake up a batch of these and you will make all the adults (even the kid-adults) happy in your home! 

Tip: if you are like me and living in a place that feels like Antarctica (ok, maybe a little excessive but still) just place these cookies outside to let them chill if you don’t have any space in your refrigerator! Because if you are also like me, your refrigerator is packed full with who-knows-what. 

Chai-Spiced Snowdrop Cookies 

Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley 


Ingredients: 

For the cookies: 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) butter at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 1/4 cups almond flour 

For the topping: 

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1 teaspoon ground all-spice 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. 
  4. Turn the speed down to low and slowly add the almond flour followed by the all-purpose flour insuring that the sides are scraped and the mixture is evenly combined. 
  5. With a 1 Tablespoon-sized scoop, measure out the cookies and roll each one in your hands to for them into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes. 
  6. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes. While the cookies are baking, whisk together the topping ingredients in a bowl. Remove the cookies from the oven and coat each cookie in the topping mixture and set aside to cool. Once the cookies are cooled, repeat this process. 



Coffee Toffee 

You always have to have a little “crunch” on your Christmas cookie tray, so when I laid eyes on this recipe from The Smitten Kitchen I knew I just had to try it. My husband is huge fan of peanut brittle, so this toffee was high up there on his list! I got a message that read, “YOU MADE BRITTLE?!” and all was well in our household. The buttery goodness from the toffee combined with the kick of espresso and which is all smoothed out by the chocolate topping makes this toffee a top priority and a new family favorite. 


My mother-in-law mixed this sweet concoction together for me on our Christmas cookie baking day and it couldn’t have come out any more perfect. It came together effortlessly and was so delicious to pass around. We ended up subbing out pecans for the hazelnuts, but we decided that any nut would go perfectly with this recipe. Skip buying toffee from the store this year and make a quick batch of this homemade coffee toffee! 


Not only is this recipe easy to whip up and pass around, but breaking apart the toffee has to be the best part! Either pick it up and drop it against the counter, or cut it into rugged pieces with a knife. Sprinkle with any toppings your heart desires and make it again every year. Because you’re going to need it. 

Coffee Toffee 

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook  by Deb Perelman


Ingredients:

  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder 
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, or another nut of your choice 

Directions: 

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and set aside. 
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, melt the butter, both sugars, molasses, salt, and espresso powder together over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 250 degrees, then stir constantly until it reaches 309 degrees. 
  3. Pour the mixture immediately onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer with and offset spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee and let them sit until soft. Spread the chocolate evenly over the candy base and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. 
  4. Set aside until the toffee and chocolate has set, and then break into pieces to serve. 

No-Churn Candy Cane Fudge Ice Cream 

Oh my goodness gracious! Just read that title again: No-Churn Candy Cane FUDGE Ice Cream. Can it get any better than that?! The Christmas season is always full of sweet treats and using peppermint as much as you possibly can. This Candy Cane Fudge Ice Cream reminds me of those little peppermint-flavored ice cream Santa Clause sandwiches that you used to get as a kid. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Anyways, a blast from the past or a current craving, this no-churn ice cream will fulfill all of your peppermint ice cream dreams. 


I was able to whip this up on our cookie baking day (oh my goodness it was snowing and Christmas music was playing and it was so magically perfect) and it was fun to have a little variety between the cookies! Yes, I got a little flak about making ice cream on our cookie baking day, but calm their nerves by letting them know how happy they will be to have a little ice cream to accompany their cookies. If this little, beautiful mess of a bowl doesn’t scream “Eat me I’m a bowl of holiday delight!”, then I don’t know what does. Maybe Turkish Delight… Narnia anyone? 


One thing I love the most about this recipe is the “no-churn” part! This wonderful ice cream can’t get any more convenient! Just whip it up, fold it together and stick it in the freezer and you are good to go. The candy cane flavor is brought out by the sweet, little Candy Cane Kisses by Hershey, so I would highly recommend tracking them down for this recipe. You should be able to find them at most local grocery stores, but if you can’t then I would sub in a peppermint-flavored chocolate and/or candy of some sorts. But you just gotta have the Kisses! This recipe does keep in the freezer well for about a week, so you have enough time for a little midnight snack here and there! 

No-Churn Candy Cane Fudge Ice Cream


Ingredients: 

  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk 
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract 
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Candy Cane Kisses 
  • Red food coloring 

Directions: 

  1. In a bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. On low speed, whip in the sweetened condensed milk and peppermint extract until combined. 
  2. Being careful not to overmix, fold in the melted chocolate, Candy Cane Kisses, and a couple drops of red food coloring until swirled and slightly combined with the whipped cream mixture. 
  3. Freeze the mixture either in the bowl or a small-medium sized bread loaf pan for at least 3-4 hours, or until frozen. The ice cream can be kept up to a week in the freezer. 

Triple Chocolate French Silk Pie 

The inspiration behind this recipe came from one, rainy night after work and my husband’s sweet tooth. Around 9:30 at night, we just had to make the trip to our local VI (Village Inn) to pick up not just a slice, but a whole French Silk Pie. On the car ride over it was full of me saying, “Seriously?!” Or “Are you pregnant?” (jk) to my husband’s late night cravings. But sure enough, we got ourselves a classic French Silk pie and were on our way. Naturally, it was on a Tuesday, so we missed the “free slice Wednesday”. Couldn’t he time his cravings a little better?! Either way, he got his pie and he was happy. 


But along the way, I couldn’t help but inform him (maybe just a few times) that I could make that pie better than he could buy it. He happily agreed and told me to go ahead and try and he would be more than willing to eat it. He also agreed to me giving him a pie to the face, so that will be coming soon! ūüėČ 


So, I knew this pie had to be something good. Something elevated above the classic French Silk Pie. Why not make it tripe chocolate?! Perfection. I love to use Ghiradelli chocolate and you can find it at your local grocery store so that makes it even more perfect. It delivers a full, robust chocolate flavor with smooth undertones. Select a good quality chocolate as it is going to be the star of this dish. 


This pie turned out to be one of our favorites and we midnight-snacked on it for the rest of the week. No guilt, all pleasure. Put this pie on your family table and it will not disappoint! Plus, you could just get lost in all of those chocolately layers. 

Triple Chocolate French Silk Pie 


Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 round store bought pie crust 

Directions: 

  1. Bake the pie crust in a pie plate according to the instructions listed on the box. After it is golden brown, set aside to cool completely. 
  2. In three seperate bowls, microwave each kind of chocolate for approximately 35 seconds, or until melted. Stir each chocolate until smooth. 
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip 3 cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Divide the whipped cream evenly betweeen three new bowls. 
  4. Starting with the dark chocolate, fold the dark chocolate into one of the whipped cream bowls. Be careful to not over mix and lose your fluffiness from the whipped cream. After the dark chocolate is incorporated, spread the mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the pie crust. 
  5. Repeat with the milk chocolate and layer it on top of the dark chocolate. Move onto the white chocolate and follow the same instructions and layered on top of the milk chocolate inside the pie plate. 
  6. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Before serving, whip the last cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form, and spread evenly on the top of the chocolate layers. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate pieces and serve. Keeps in the refrigerator well. 

Pumpkin Banana Muffins 

Let’s be honest, the last thing you are thinking about on Thanksgiving Day is what you are going to have for breakfast. Besides coffee – always be thinking about coffee. But you need to nourish yourself! You’ve got a long day of cooking, entertaining, eating, drinking and Black Friday coupon cutting ahead of you.

My Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate is my go-to recipe whenever I have some ripe bananas laying around. So naturally, why not add some pumpkin? I have always loved the addition of whole wheat flour (because it immediately makes your baked goods healthier, right? That’s what I tell myself at least), but if you prefer all-purpose then just sub that in instead.

The pumpkin and bananas come together and do a little dance of happiness and flavor in your mouth, all while they are making your perfect little muffins nice and moist. The addition of cinnamon warms your heart, and the topping of pumpkin seeds gives you the necessary crunch factor.
Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate | kjandcompany.co

Not only are these muffins convenient and delicious, but they will keep you full and energized no matter what you are doing throughout the day. These scrumptious little bundles don’t need to just be kept to Thanksgiving morning, make them any time of the year that you see perfectly fit to sneak in some pumpkin! (which basically should be socially acceptable any time of the year, am I right?) Ok, I may be an avid pumpkin girl, but you gotta get it in while you can!

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate | kjandcompany.co

Another thing I love about this recipe (which can be revised to tickle your own tastebuds) is how mindless and easy it becomes. Maybe its just because I’ve made my base banana muffin recipe 5,989 times, but it will become one of your favorite go-to’s before no time. Customize it to fit your lifestyle and you won’t ever let it go.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate | kjandcompany.co

The pumpkin gives it the ever-so-desired orange tint (and of course flavor) and the pumpkin seeds give it a nice clash in green. Not only did I top these muffins with the pumpkin seeds, but a little cinnamon sugar helps make them all the more crunchy on top. Plus, you can never go wrong with cinnamon sugar.

 

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 stick butter (8 Tablespoons), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pumpkin seeds, for topping, plus additional sugar and cinnamon

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the ripened bananas until they are equally mixed together and no clumps are left. Mix in the pumpkin puree, eggs and vanilla.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until the pumpkin and banana mixture is completely combined together with the dry ingredients.
  4. With a muffin tin lined with muffin liners, fill each muffin tin with 1/4 cup of pumpkin banana batter (or 3/4 the way full for each muffin). Any excess batter can be added to the top of each muffin slot if need be. Top each muffin with a few sprinkles of pumpkin seeds and cinnamon sugar.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

 

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate | kjandcompany.coWhole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate | kjandcompany.coWhole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate | kjandcompany.coWhole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate | kjandcompany.co

Thanksgiving Table 2016

Thanksgiving is here! Thanksgiving is here! I LOVE this time of year! The holiday season is filled with family, love, friends, and of course, food. For my family, we have always come together around food. Cooking with my parents, grandparents, in-laws, and my hubby are a few of my favorite things. The feeling of cooking up a whole meal that your family can gather around is unbeatable.

thanksgiving table | kjandcompany.cothanksgiving table | kjandcompany.co
Buuuuut, we do things with a little twist. Most people are watching their wastelines and minimizing their portions during the holiday season, but not in our household. We have a little friend and her name is Taylor and she is a scale. Before anyone starts eating, you gotta hop on Taylor to see what you weigh. Whoever gains the most weight at the end of the day gets bragging rights for the rest of the year (we can thank my wonderful cousin for coming up with this little tradition). And by golly, I’ve actually pulled it off and won it one year! No one goes to the bathroom, everyone eats and drinks as much as they can.

thanksgiving table | kjandcompany.co
Whatever your family traditions are, it’s such a magical time of year to be reminded of all the things we have to be thankful for.

thanksgiving table | kjandcompany.co
So what are you going to put on your Thanksgiving Table this year? Why not try something new while hanging onto the traditional Thanksgiving goodies?


Thanksgiving Table 2016 

‚ÄĘ Prosciutto and Herb Butter Roasted Turkey¬†

Prosciutto and Herb Butter Roasted Turkey | kjandcompany.co


‚ÄĘ Prosciutto Turkey Gravy¬†

Prosciutto Turkey Gravy | kjandcompany.co


‚ÄĘ Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes¬†

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes | kjandcompany.co


‚ÄĘ Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing¬†

Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing | kjandcompany.co


‚ÄĘ Sweet Potato and Squash Medley¬†

Sweet Potato and Squash Medley | kjandcompany.co


‚ÄĘ Roasted Beets with Whipped Creme Fraiche¬†

Roasted Beets with Whipped Creme Fraiche | kjandcompany.co


‚ÄĘ Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Hazelnuts¬†

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Hazelnuts | kjandcompany.co


‚ÄĘ Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping¬†