Saturday, September 24, 2011


Tonight, my hubby and I are going to a bonfire at our new church!  We are really looking forward to the fellowship, fun, and food!!

Everyone was asked to bring a side item with them.  To me, apparently "side item" = dessert.  Would you have expected anything else??  But no worries...I know everyone will love these yummy bars.  "Brookies" are basically a chocolate chip cookie shaped and baked like a brownie.  Brownie + cookie = Brookie!  : )

The first time I made these, I put a large Brookie square in my husband's lunchbox the next day.  Apparently, the sight of this treat was too much for his fellow Airmen to take, and when hubby got home from work, he told me that he had to break off pieces to share with his friends!  They all loved it and were constantly asking him "when his wife was gonna make...those...uhh,...I can't remember what you call them! Those brownie cookie things again!" 

I'm also kind of excited that this is my first blog featuring another blogger's recipe!  After all, these ladies (and a few gents) are the reason I even wanted to start a blog.  They are awesome, creative, and so generous to share their recipes with everyone.  So, a big thanks to Bakerella for this yummy recipe!!

(Bakerella gave about 3 or 4 different options of what these bars could be called...I picked "Brookies" because I thought it was the cutest.) 

2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 lb. light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
11.5 ounce package milk chocolate chips  (I used chocolate chunks)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional - To me, nuts are a NO-NO in desserts so I left them out.)

Bakerella has made these 2 ways and recommends to mix this all by hand.  I, for one, will always do what Bakerella says.  : )

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
Stir brown sugar into softened (not melted) butter in another large bowl until butter disappears. You can use the back of your spoon to help incorporate the two together.
Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture and stir well after each egg.
Add vanilla and mix well.
Add dry flour mixture and stir until well combined.
Stir in chocolate chips/chunks and nuts (if you're using them).
Coat a 13 X 9 pan with non-stick spray and spread batter evenly into dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Make sure you don’t over bake.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cheesy Penne with Mushrooms and Pancetta

I'm going to go ahead and apologize for the stink value of these pictures.  I took them at night, and therefore all the natural light necessary to take a good picture was long gone.  I considered not even putting the pics on the post, but then I remembered how much I love it when recipes come with a picture...and how much I hate it when they don't.

Do you know Claire Robinson?  Of "5 Ingredient Fix"?  Yeahhhh.  She made this recipe for "Cheesy Penne" that looked yummy, so I tried it!  Only it seemed too plain, so I changed her 5 ingredients into 7 ingredients by adding baby portabella mushrooms and pancetta...ohhhhh yeahhhhh

The sharp white cheddar and dijon used in the sauce makes for a somewhat tangy pasta, while the pancetta gives it that nice, salty kick it needed!  The mushrooms are yummy too!!  : ) 

Cheesy Penne with Mushrooms and Pancetta

4 cups penne pasta
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup heavy cream
5 oz. sharp white cheddar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 oz. pancetta
1 package baby portabella mushrooms

Cut pancetta into small pieces and sautee in a small pan over medium heat until browned.  Remove pancetta to a small bowl, but leave some of the pancetta grease in the pan.  Wash mushrooms, remove the stems, chop them and then sautee them in the pancetta grease until done.  Turn off heat.

Boil penne till "al dente" according to box directions.  Remember to salt the pasta water!!!  Drain pasta and return to pot. 

Whisk milk with Dijon in small bowl and add to the pot with cooked pasta, along with the cream and grated cheddar.  Stir over medium-low heat until the cheese melts and the mixture is thickened.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Fold in mushrooms and pancetta.  Serve hot!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

Mmmmmm, stuffed peppers!  This is one of my and Jordan's favorite meals everrrrrr.  Kinda funny actually, because the first time I ever told him that's what I was making for dinner, he looked at me like I was crazy.  He acted like he wasn't going to like them.  Then he took one bite, completely changed his mind, ate a ton, begged forgiveness at my feet for doubting me, and said he owed me a back rub.  Well...maybe not all that but you get the point.

These stuffed peppers are delicious and HEALTHY!!!  You can truly eat these without guilt!!!  We love them so much that we can't live without eating them at least once every few weeks. 

Here's the recipe:

Stuffed Peppers

4 large red bell peppers
Olive Oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 medium onion, diced (I use Vidalia)
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 16 oz. jar chunky salsa
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup cooked rice
cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Cut peppers in half and remove all white and seeds.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 15-20 minutes.
Heat 1 TB olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin.  Cook till onions are softened.  Add turkey, breaking up into small pieces, and cook until lightly browned.  Add salsa and spinach and cook about 5 minutes more.  Turn off heat and stir in cooked rice.  Fill pepper halves with mixture, cover with aluminum foil and bake until the filling is hot and peppers are tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake uncovered 7-10 minutes for cheese to melt.  

Here is my favorite way to eat them:

Covered in sour cream!!! heehee.  I love sour cream.  Plus, it helps cut some of the spiciness for those of you who are spice wimps like me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Top-5

The top-5 random things that have made me happy this past week...and 1 that did not...

1.  Sitting outside in our brand new chairs!!  It is so nice to relax with my hubby in the awesome weather.  Plus, I love these chairs.  I finally found some I liked the look AND the feel of!  Sometimes I don't wanna get out of them!

2.  Grilling out!  We just bought a grill 2 weeks ago from our neighbors who are moving to Alaska.  For $15, I might add.  : )  Two nights ago, my hubby grilled steaks and they were sooooo good! 

3.  Visiting a new church!  We really enjoyed the service, as WELL as the people we met there!  Some of them we even knew already, so that was even better!  : )

4.  Using some fondue "pokers" that one of the custodians at work gave me to roast marshmallows over our stove flame to make smores!  One of my favorite desserts EVER!!!  I must say though, I was missing roasting them over a bonfire with my friends!  :'(

5.  Using the new recycling machine outside of the BX!  If you take your empty plastic or glass bottles and scan them, you can make an account and accumulate points based on how much you bring.  You can then redeem these points online for gift cards!  WOO-HOO!  Free gift cards and doing something nice for the environment?!  Yessssss.

Finally, here is the 1 thing I did NOT like... today actually...

Sigh.  This was her special, nice, fluffy pillow!!!  She unzipped the outer covering and tore up all of the inside.  Grrrrr!!!  She is usually a very good girl when we leave her, but this is what I get for being 30 minutes late coming home from work. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grape Salad

Listen.  And hear me.

If you're the kind of person who will take one look at the following photo and close out the screen, please stop yourself.  Don't be like me, circa 2009.  You see, there was a time when we had many church members and friends in the community blessing us with dinners almost every week because my mom was very sick.  One night, someone brought dinner and I opened the container...and there sat this goopy mess they called "grape salad".  I'm usually one to try pretty much anything before judging it, but for some reason, this was a dish I immediately decided I would not try.  Thennnn, everyone else in the family started eating it and there were rounds of "oooooohs" and "aaaaaaahs" over how yummy it was.  I reluctantly took a bite, and WHOA BABY was it good!  A totally unexpected flavor!  I guess I was expecting a "savory" dish, like a pasta salad, but this was really sweet!  YUM!

Here is the grape salad I made tonight:

Don't close the screen.  Don't run away and hide.  Just try it!  : )

It tastes like grapes covered in cheesecake filling.  uhh-mazing. 

And folks, if you do make it, please, for the love of Pete, try one of the grapes first.  A dish that stars grapes will NOT taste good if your grapes do not taste good.  It's elementary, my dear Watson.

Grape Salad

3 lbs. small red seedless grapes (wash and dry)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup Splenda
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup chopped nuts, roasted  (I use pecans.  And yes, I pronounce it pee-cans.  Don't try to be fancy and pronounce them puh-cahns.)

Cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, Splenda, and brown sugar until smooth.  Fold in the grapes and half of the nuts.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.  Keep in the fridge in an airtight container.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Top-5

Okay, so I know it technically isn't fall yet...but I had to wear a jacket yesterday, so I am hereby declaring it the beginning of fall!!  :)  Therefore, I bring youuuuu...

My Top-5 favorite things about fall!!!

1.  The crisp, cool weather.  I took Katie out yesterday morning and was like...WHOA!  It was actually cold.  I was so excited!  I love summer, but let's face it, who isn't ready for some cooler weather?  I was so happy to spend the rest of the morning in my favorite article of clothing - my husband's hoodie.  =D

2.  The beautiful colors all around.  I've always felt sorry for my mom; she's colorblind, and can't really tell the difference in the colors of trees.  : (  Even on trips through the mountains in autumn, she can't quite see the colors for what they truly are.  I think the changing leaves are absolutely gorgeous and wish they would stay those vibrant red, orange, and yellow shades for much longer!

3.  Fall baking!!!!!!!  I can't put enough exclamation points for that one.  Using the flavors of pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, cranberries, maple, brown sugar, caramel, ginger, etc. in dozens of culinary masterpieces makes fall a time that practically every baker longs for during earlier months!  Plus, I haven't been married during any fall months yet, so I plan to wow my hubby with my "fall" recipes.  : )

4.  Football games!  Although I may not be the biggest sports fan in town, I do love going to sporting events - particularly football games in the fall!!  I spent all my high school years at every football game leading the marching band as drum major at our halftime show.  I also played the flute for concerts, but all this is another story for another time.  I know what you may be thinking, "BAND GEEK"!, but nooooo, I was not!  ; )  It was really a lot of fun.  In college, I enjoyed attending ECU football games just for the fun of it.  No band that time.  heehee. 

5.  Cute fall clothing!  Like my BFF Cat, I love wearing pretty scarves (ok...mayyybe not as much as her, lol).  She wears one almost every day!!  Including non-fall/winter months!!!  But she looks beautiful in them, so I say go for it.  Anywho, jackets, hats and boots are also items I enjoy wearing so bring em on!

Are you all as excited for fall as I am??  : )