Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DB: Homemade Graham Crackers

Do you ever find yourself wondering through the grocery store isles, eyeing different products and wondering "could I make them at home, and would they be just as good"?  Please tell me I'm not weird! Well, I know I'm weird but please tell me I'm not the only person that does this!  I don't know why this intrigues me so much, but thoughts like this enter my head on a regular basis when I'm at the grocery store.

Well, this month I got to cure some of my curiosity.  Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!
Sarah shared quite a few recipe suggestions that all looked incredible, but I had been wanting to make graham crackers for quite some time.  So when this challenge came up, not only was it all about flatbreads and crackers but we were given free reign as to what particular recipe we wanted to make.  The only requirement; whatever it was had to be crisp.  I instantly knew what I wanted to make; I wanted to make homemade graham crackers. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan

Wow, it's been a while since I've actually posted a menu plan.  Things have been crazy, life has been hectic and this is one thing that's taken a back burner.  Can I just tell you how much I've missed my meal planning? 

Even though I don't pair specific recipes with certain days, it helps me out so much having a set menu for the week.  I know what I'm going to make throughout the week and I have all the ingredients on hand so there's no last minute runs to the store.  It makes life so much easier having meals planned rather than getting home and spending 30 minutes or more perusing cookbooks and blogs and finally deciding on something only to find out you don't have everything you need to make it.  It's just frustrating.  And can I tell you I've been in that particular boat for the past, ummm...I don't know how many weeks.  It seems like half the time I ended up giving up, or it got too late so we just ended up either eating cereal or running to pick up take-out.

As much as I love a good pizza or order of Chinese, I hate relying on them.  I like for them to be a "treat" rather than a regular meal during the week.  Not to mention, not having a meal plan really takes a toll on the ol' pocketbook too.  It's amazing how much more money we spend when I don't have meals planned out.  So in order to eat better and to save some $$$ I'm getting back in the practice of lining out weekly menus!

Weekly Meal Plan for February 24-March 2, 2013

Ribs, roasted potatoes, radicchio and apple salad and yeast rolls
Buffalo burgers, oven fries and green salad
Chicken and chile  cream soup and cheddar beer bread
Loaded potatoes
Roasted poblano beef stew

Have a great week!

SRC: Cran-Nana Smoothie

To say I've been on a smoothie kick lately would be an uderstatement.  I have thought, craved and drank smoothies non-stop for the past few weeks.  Not sure if I'm trying to turn over a new "healthy" leaf (nawww...that's probably not the case, I love my sweets too much!) or what, but I've been craving them non-the-less.  Not that craving smoothies isn't a good thing; if I can quench a craving while consuming something healthy that's always a win-win!  My smoothie of choice, as of late, has been the green monster smoothie (I still need to make it and share it with you!).  Not only is it one of my favorite colors ever, but it's packed full of fruits and vegetables as well as packed full of flavor.  And the name is fun; Green Monster. A drink really isn't the first thing you think of when you hear the name. 
As much as I love my green monster smoothie, I'm always on the lookout for new smoothie recipes to try.  So when I came across this cran-nana smoothie on Natural Noshing I knew I had found the recipe that I wanted to make for this month's secret recipe club exchange.  Nora has tons of recipes on her blog that all look amazing, but since I'm on a smoothie kick this fit the bill perfectly.  But, if you're unlike me and would rather have something with a little more substance she's got something for you too!  Most of the recipes on Nora's blog are grain free and gluten free, but that doesn't mean she skimps on the good stuff.  She's got bars, cookies and all sorts of sweets as well as many savory recipes that all look amazing.  So if you are trying to practice a gluten free lifestyle, or just trying to practice healther eating habits then you should definitely take a look at Natural Noshing.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Saturday Scoop

So, how was ya'lls week?  We've had some weather this week, haven't we?  On Sunday we had tempuratures in the 70's, then Monday was cool and rainy and then the temps dipped into the 20's for a bit.  We had sleet, a little ice and a lot of rain.  I know a lot of you got a hefty dose of snow as well.  I hope everyone was able to stay safe throughout all of the weather and I hope that those of you who received snow built a big ol' snowman for me! 

This week was pretty good for me.  Spenc and I were off on Monday for President's day, so we enjoyed a well needed 3 day weekend!  We also got a surprise visit from my mom, and she spent a few days with us!  I took Wednesday off to hangout with my mom and my little man, and it was an awesome day to say the least.  Taking off on Wednesday really made the last 2 days of the working week fly by!  I'm so glad the weekend is finally here! 
What's going on this weekend?  Any big plans?  I think we're in for a pretty low-key weekend which is perfectly fine by me.  Tonight we'll cozy up, have some supper and possibly watch a movie.  Tomorrow we're getting together with some friends and we'll let the kiddos play, but other than that we don't really have anything plan!

And now, here's a few amazing blogs for some weekend reading...and cooking!

Bakeaholic Mama- is a blog that I came across a few months ago after I met it's writer at Mixed.  Carrie is an absolute sweetheart and so much fun!  I am so glad that I had the chance to meet her and visit just a bit while we were waiting to catch our flights.  She is incredibly talented and always baking or cooking up something that is incredibly amazing!  While she has a passion for baking, her savory foods are amazing as well.  Spinach feta pull apart bread, beer and jack chili mac, steak bomb egg rolls, and hard cider mac and cheese are just a few of the tempting savory dishes she whips up for her family on a regular basis.  Tell me they're not lucky?!?  It wouldn't bother me one bit to have a room at her house just so I could enjoy all the tasty concoctions!  She is always tempting her readers with meals and treats that she just whips up at a moments notice.  She's incredibly talented and will have your mouth watering in mere seconds after you click over to her blog.

Climbing Grier Mountain-Lauren, the funny, light hearted, and witty writer behind this amazing blog is another fellow Mixer.  I saw her a few times throughout the conference but I didn't really get the chance to chat with her until I was waiting to catch my flight out of Roanoke.  And let me tell ya folks, she's just as fun in person as she is on her blog.  She's a hoot and so much fun to be around; my only regret is that I didn't bump into her before it was time to go.  I love reading her blog; her writing style is a true reflection of how she is in real life.  Not only is her blog fun to read, she's got recipes on there that will make you literally drool.  I mean recipes that are jaw dropping; like literally pick your mouth up off the ground good.  She prides herself in being more of a cook that a baker; but Lauren you're not fooling anyone with the sweets you bake that are mostly featured on your  Foodie Fridays.  You do have baking skills and you know how to show them off!  So head on over to Lauren's blog to have a good laugh and fun read, as well as find some delicious recipes! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mini Chocolate Chip M&M Pudding Cookies

I am a sucker for cookies.  Give me a cookie, any kind at any time and I'll be a happy camper.  I'm not picky and I've never met a cookie I didn't like!  My favorite cookies, though, are those cookies that are fluffy, gooey and chewy.  I love sinking my teeth into cookies like that; the more they stick to your teeth the better they my opinion. 
Now I've a had a lot, and I mean A LOT of cookies throughout the years, but to my knowledge I don't ever think I've had a cookie with pudding mix in it.  So, when I saw Jocelyn of Inside Bru Crew Life had a multitude of pudding cookies on her blog you could say I was definitely intrigued!  Now I know there are all sorts of little tips and tricks you can use to make cakes, cookies and bars taste better, be more moist or chewy or what have you.  But I had never heard of pudding cookies, or thought of adding pudding mix to cookies before now.  Genius, I tell you.  Genius!  Jocelyn, you've inspired me to take a closer look at the staples in my pantry and think of different ways to use them! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and Lemons

Do you ever hear the name of a dish and instantly get intimidated?  If you answered yes, then you're not alone.  Although I do love a good cooking challenge, there are times when I read the title of the recipe and instantly get overwhelmed.  It may be fear of the unknown; I've never heard of it so it must be difficult and time consuming.  Or maybe the name just sounds fancy or complicated.  The bad thing is, I jump to this conclusion before I ever glance at the actual recipe ingredients or instructions.  I think we've all had that misconception from one time or another.
Pasta carbonara, to me, sounded very intimidating.  I had heard of the dish, seen it on menus but had never had it let alone searched for a recipe for it.  A while back, while I was "pinning" away, I pinned a pasta recipe that looked so amazing.  I didn't bother to click over and look at name, ingredients or directions, I just pinned it and kept on going.  Then, the other day I was really in the mood for some starchy goodness.  You know me, I love my starches!  So I started looking through recipes I had bookmarked and pinned when I came across that recipe that I had pinned so long ago.  I was instantly drawn to the picture that had pasta, bacon and cheese.  I know, what's not to love, right? 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Saturday Scoop

So, how was your week?  Are you still in a chocolate and sugar induced coma?  Did you all have a terrific Valentines?  My week was pretty good.  Valentine's was wonderful and very low-key.  We stayed home and I cooked ribeye, salad with radicchio, pear and blue cheese along with fingerling potatoes and steakhouse mushrooms!  We had a great bottle of red wine to accompany our meal, as well.  It was a quiet and uneventful night, which was fine by me, and one of the best parts was we didn't have to go and face a crowded and loud restaurant! 

I'm so glad it's the weekend!  Between work, baking for Tucker's class party and cooking for our Valentine's meal I'm ready for a relaxing weekend.  It's supposed to be cold and rainy here so I forsee a lot of baking in my near future.  Another perk, I have a 3 day weekend!!!  That's right!  I am soooo looking forward to it too. 

So what all do ya'll have planned this weekend?  Anything fun and exciting?  Or is it going to be more of a low-key weekend?  Whatever you have on your docket I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Bran Appetit- Brandi is a fun-loving foodie who lives in the rolling hills of Virginia.  I actually had the pleasure of "brushing elbows" with her at Mixed last November.  She is an incredibly talented, and humble blogger.  I honestly don't think she gives herself enough credit.  Brandi has been in the blogging world since about 2009 and has been cooking and sharing her love of food with the world.  I constantly find myself turning to her blog for tidbits of information and knowledge, as well as tasty and tempting recipes.  She's got it all; breakfast, bread, sweet and savory.  Bran Appetit is one of those blogs that so inviting and cozy; just grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and cozy up for a good read!

Crunchy Creamy Sweet- is a blog that I just, by chance, happened to come across.  I saw a picture of one of her cakes floating around the internet, with no return link to her blog and I started searching frantically trying to find the recipe to the picture that had my mouth watering.  After searching for quite some time, I finally came across the link that lead me back to that picture for the Triple Chocolate Molasses Cake and I lept for joy!  After I finally found the cake, I started looking through the rest of the posts and I was instantly addicted.  It is page after page of delicious and tempting recipes.  This is a blog that I came across by chance, and now visit on a daily basis!

Shugary Sweets- is a blog I've just recently come across.  First of all, why haven't I come across this blog before?  Where have you been all my life?  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this blog!  With a name like Shugary Sweets you know every. single. recipe is bound to be good!  Aimee has been in the blogging world since 2011, and since then she has been filling the blogasphere with tempting and tasty treats on a regular basis.  Each and every recipe she has on there is droolworthy.  Cookies, cakes, drinks and dips.  She's got you covered and she's bound to have just the right thing to quench that sweet craving!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Double Chocolate Red Velvet Cookies

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's day!  I know Valentine's is technically over, but I do have one more red, chocolately treat to share with you!  This treat will wrap this week up right; it's always good to end on a sweet note. 

Red velvet is the quintessential Valentine's dessert.  I mean everything about it screams love and Valentine's; chocolate and red it where it's all at for the day of love.  But as I said earlier this week, I personally could take or leave red velvet, but there are plenty of people out there who love it...who are red velvet phenes to say the least.  Who knows, maybe I just haven't had the perfect red velvet cake to change my thoughts?  Anywho, since it is February and Valentine's I decided to put my feelings (or lack thereof) for red velvet aside and share not 1 but 2 red velvet desserts for you!  The first was the red velvet brownies with white chocolate buttercream that I shared with you on Monday, and the second are these cookies!  Here's a confession...I think with each, additional red velvet recipe I make I become a little bit more fond of red velvet.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Rice Krispie Treats

When I think back to my childhood I can think of a multitude of snacks and goodies that I enjoyed on a regular basis.  While some were cookies, brownies and cakes, others were simple, such as Rice Krispie treats.  I always got so excited when I walked into the kitchen and saw my mom with a giant bowl of melted marshmallows.  It meant we were just moments away from ooey gooey, fluffy, crunchy goodness.  There's not a lot to these treats, but they are oh-so-good.  Which confirms the saying, sometimes "simple is better". 

Since I've gotten older I do enjoy a broad array of desserts that are all delicious, however I do find myself returning to the classics of my childhood from time to time.  Before about a month or so ago, it had been quite some time since I had eaten a rice krispie treat.  With the holidays around (and my mom feeling the need to spoil her grandson...even more) Rice Krispies made an appearance in our house.  We made Rice Krispie "gingerbread" houses and decorated them.  It was then that I had a bite of the treats, and I was instantly transported back to my childhood days.  This was also the first time Tucker had eaten one, as well, and he LOVED it! (I know...I'm terrible for not introducing him to these before now)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

White Chocolate Covered Oreo Pops

Chocolate covered Oreos are a weakness of mine, so the fact that they only make an appearance once a year makes me sad.  Although, it's probably a good thing since I honestly think I could eat my weight in these!  I love the combination of the chocolate cookie, creamy filling all covered in delicious white chocolate.
I have recently introduced Tucker to these yummy little treats, and I think he likes them just as much as I do!  Since he's a fan too, I thought it would be fun to make cookie pops covered in fun sprinkles for him to share with his class at his Valentine's party. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

It's February folks!  Can you believe it?  It seems like yesterday we were celebrating Thanksgiving and getting ready for Christmas.  We've not only observed and celebrated Christmas, rang in the New Year but now we're about to celebrate Valentine's!  Where has the time gone? 
Since Valentine's is this week, in 3 days to be exact, I thought it would be fitting to share some yumy sweets with you that would be perfect to make for your sweetheart!  Since February and Valentine's are all about chocolate, it's only fitting that each and every goody I have for you this week invovles chocolate! Since I am all about chocolate too, this doesn't hurt my feelings in any way!
Let's start off the week with a bang, how about some brownies?  But not just any brownies, red velvet brownies.  Red velvet brownies with white chocolate buttercream smeared on top.  If this doesn't say "I Love You", then I don't know what does!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Saturday Scoop

Howdy everyone!  So how was your week?  Busy, cold, hot, super slow, wonderful, could have been better???  Mine, well...mine was definitely interesting and packed full of surprises.  All I can say is "Helllloooo weekend, it's been way too long"! 

So what do you have planned for the weekend?  I believe the weather is supposed to be somewhat mild in my neck of the woods.  If all goes as planned we may take our little man to the park, a little shopping and some catching up with a childhood friend.  A low key weekend for us...and I must say it's well needed.  I'm sure there are a lot of you that won't be doing much outside of the home thanks to Nemo.  Wow, we've had some crazy weather this year!  So for all of you who are relaxing or just trying to avoid the cold I have another round of sites that I'm ready to share with you.  Grab a cup of coffee, cozy up and enjoy!  You may even find a recipe or two to help you pass the time.  There's nothing better than baking during a snow storm! 

Ambitious Kitchen- is one of those blogs you turn to and you immediately get drawn in.  I love her writing style; it's so fun and carefree.  Along with a clever writing style, she has beautiful pictures that will have your mouth watering and recipes that are just as yummy as the pictures look. I came across AK a while back, but for some reason or another I lost touch for a while and I'm not really sure why.  Now that I've come across AK again, I'm certain it will be a blog I turn to for a funny, light-hearted read as well as some tasty recipes!

My Baking Heart- Jessica is a fun loving foodie who not only enjoys cooking and baking but is an avid TCU football fan.  She supports her Hornedfrogs 110%!  With a name like My Baking Heart you'll be sure to find a multitude of baked goods on her site, but have no fear if your heat doesn't yearn to bake because she has a variety of other recipes on there too.  From breakfast casserolessandwiches, and  slow cooker lasagna to dark chocolate sugar and spice pretzels, apple, almond tart, brownies and everything inbetween.  You're guaranteed to find something that you love and enjoy the reading along the way.

Pink-Parsley- I have to start by saying, How cute is the name Pink Parsely?  I love it!  Josie is a fellow southern girl who is an absolute sweetheart.  She has 4 kiddos; 1 girl and 3 boys (2 of which are twins) and get this they are all under the age of 4.  Not only is she uber talented, but she's also super mom.  The fact that she is a stay at home mom, tends to her family and still has the time to not only cook, but take pictures and blog about it too...WOW.  She's a true inspiration to me.  I love her cooking style and I always find myself turning to her blog for inspiration, as well as tried and true recipes.  While Josie enjoys recipes of with varied levels of difficulty, she tends to have several options that are perfect for those busy weeknights.  If you've never read Pink-Parsley, mosey on over there today and just take a look.  You'll find yourself hooked, just like I am!

Smells Like Home- With the recipes that Tara features, I have no doubt this is a blog that lives up to it's name.  There's something about baked goods that just makes you feel like you're at home; all comfy and cozy.  I am beyond inspired each and everytime I read her blog.  I can honestly say I want to make each and everything that she posts.  From cocktails to appetizers, main courses and sides and all those deliciouis baked treats; Tara will have your mouth watering from the instant you open her page!

I'd love to hear from you and what some of your "go to" blogs are!  Have a great weekend! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reeses Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip

So how many of you are guilty of eating cookie dough straight from the bowl?  Will any of you admit that you just might make cookie dough for the sheer enjoyment of eating it by the spoonful before a drop is even able to hit the cookie sheet?  Come on, you know we're all guilty of having at least a bite or two at one point or another.  There's no shame it that, I promise! 
What if I were to tell you I have a dip that will cure your cookie dough craving?  And yes, you're supposed to eat it as a dip and not bake it.  That's right, all the yumminess of cookie dough without the guilt of eating it raw!  Are you intrigued yet? 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Brown Butter Caramel Cookies

What is it about a cookie that instantly makes your day better?  It's a comfort food in a sense.  No matter how bad or good your day is going, if you buy a cookie or if someone brings you one it instantly brightens your day...if only for a moment.  It takes you outside of the here and now and transports you to your happy place.  It's funny how such a simple thing can bring such joy.

Food has a way of comforting people and bringing them joy.  Some people find happiness while eating, while others find joy in the preparation.  Don't get me wrong, I love to eat but I find my joy in the preparation and cooking.  While I enjoy making food, I get just as much joy sharing it with others.  There's just something about seeing a smile come across somone's face after enjoying something you made. 

Growing up we always had something sweet to nibble on in our house; cookies, cake, brownies or pie.  Any time my mom or dad got the itch to bake something I darted to the kitchen to help.  I wanted to be involved in whatever it was they were doing, not only to spend time with them but also because I knew in a short period of time there would be something fresh and tasty coming out of the oven.  It's been along time since I have baked something with my parents, and I can't tell you how much I've missed it.  A few weeks ago I finally had the chance to get in the kitchen, spend some quality time and bake something tasty with them. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Slow Cooker Black Bean Ragout

So did ya'll have a wonderful Super Bowl Sunday?  Did your team win?  If yes, then congratulations.  If not, I'm sorry but at least you got to partake in some yummy eats throughout the game!  Speaking of Super Bowl food, how many of you are in a foodie coma from everything you ate yesterday?  I honestly think Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest eating days of the entire. year!  Thanksgiving and Christmas are close, but I think the game day takes the prize.  I honestly think just as much preparation and planning goes into all of the game day parties and festivities as does Christmas and Thanksgiving.

I kept this year's eats small, but we still had quite the spread.  And you can't really allow all those good dips, sandwiches and treast to go to waste, I mean that would just be a shame...and possibly a sin!  I know I ate my fare share of food throughout the game yesterday.  I was on the verge of miserable.  So for all of you that are in the same boat as I am, and need a meal that will satisfy you without weighing you down I have the perfect option for you! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Loaded Butterfinger Banana Muffins

It's been quite some time since I've made some muffins.  What's up with that?  Well, have no fear I've got a muffin recipe to share with you today.  And I must say, it's the muffin of all muffins!  It's got bananas, candy bars and chocolate chips.  Ummm, yeah.  It's got it all! 

Now, before I go any further let me tell you this.  I don't serve breakfasts with candy in it on a regular basis, but I am a firm believer that it's quite alright...even necassary to indulge from time to time.  And what better way to indulge than a delicious, moist muffin packed full of chocolate and Butterfinger?  I'm tellin' ya, I don't think there's too many things that are better than this. 

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