Monday, December 31, 2012

White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

Happy New Years Eve, everyone!  It's crazy how fast this year has flown.  I guess it has for me because the whole year was centered around my journey being pregnant and then having my beautiful baby. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, as well.  We were fortunate enough to be able to go to NC and be with our families for Christmas.  We had so much fun, and Emily got to meet lots of new family members.  These bars are a favorite of my great Aunt Gale's, among other family members.  I knew she would be at our Christmas Eve gathering so I decided to make them as a surprise.  These bars are not too sweet. They have more of a tangy flavor from the cranberries and the cheesecake layers. 

I hope you all have a great time bringing in the new year.  I will be at home with my husband and daughter, enjoying the beautiful snowfall and dancing my butt off to "Just Dance 4".   :)

White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) can NESTLE® CARNATION® Sweetened Condensed Milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
Combine flour, oats and brown sugar in large bowl. Add butter; mix until crumbly. Stir in morsels. Reserve 2 1/2 cups morsel mixture for topping. With floured fingers, press remaining mixture into prepared pan.
Beat cream cheese in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla extract; mix until smooth. Pour over crust. Combine cranberry sauce and cornstarch in medium bowl. Spoon over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle reserved morsel mixture over cranberry mixture.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan. Cover; refrigerate until serving time (up to 1 day). Cut into bars.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats

Yesterday, we got the first professional pictures of Emily taken.  I CANNOT WAIT to see them!  I saw a few of the photos on the photographer's camera and I'm already in love.  She captured just what I wanted for Christmas pictures, which was having Christmas tree lights glowing behind Emily.  I know everyone thinks their baby is the cutest baby in the world, and I am certainly no different.  Emily was definitely the most adorable thing I've ever seen in her Christmas tutu dress!

As we changed her and went to her room to take pictures there, she started getting reallllly cranky.  Despite many measures taken, she cried through most of that part of the shoot.  I was sad because I really wanted her sweet smile captured (we may have gotten one from the side).  However, I couldn't get too upset, because I recalled my mom telling me a story of how I did the exact same thing when I was a baby.  Payback!! 

She fell asleep at the end of the shoot and took a long afternoon nap.  That was good for me, because I needed to make these Hot Chocolate Krispie treats for the Christmas dinner at our church.  These are a fun, delicious spin on the ol' classic rice krispie treat. 

I'm going to post this blog and then walk by the computer and check Facebook every 2 minutes like a crazy woman waiting for a sneak peek of one of our pictures to be posted.  :)

Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats
Source: adapted from Cookies & Cups

12 cups cocoa krispies
1/2 cup butter
8 cups of mini marshmallows, plus 4 cups for later
3/4 cup hot chocolate mix
cooking spray
sheet of parchment or wax paper- optional
Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.
Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat.  When butter is melted add the 8 cups of mini marshmallows.  Stir while continuing to cook over low heat until marshmallows are melted and then add hot chocolate powder.  Stir until it is all mixed in.  Remove from heat.
Add in your 12 cups Cocoa Krispies.  Stir until mixed well.
Now add in 4 cups mini marshmallows.  Stir until marshmallows are evenly distributed throughout the krispie mixture.  Pour into prepared pan.
Lightly spray a piece of parchment or wax paper with cooking spray for an easy way to press mixture into pan without it sticking.  If you don't have wax or parchment paper just press evenly into pan with the back of a spoon sprayed with cooking spray.
Let cool for 30 minutes and cut into squares.  Store air tight for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Anniversary & No Bake Nutella Cheesecake

Today marks my 2nd anniversary with my handsome hubby. 

2 years ago right now, we were probably having our first dance:

We haven't stopped dancing since.  :)
This is how sweet he is - I got these this morning:

I love you Jordan! Thank you for the love you express to me every day and for the life you've built for our little family. You're a wonderful husband and father!
To celebrate, I made a special dinner for the two of us tonight.  Including this yummy dessert:

I hope you love it babe! Happy Anniversary!

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake
Source:  My Baking Addiction


12 Oreo Cookies, crushed into crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed


whipped topping, optional
chocolate shavings, optional
toasted, chopped hazelnuts, optional

In a medium bowl, stir together the Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped topping until well blended and no streaks remain.
Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
If desired, garnish with additional whipped topping, chocolate shavings, and/or toasted, chopped hazelnuts.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snickerdoodle Bread

I have a very fond memory of snickerdoodles.  In elementary school, my after-school babysitter, who was also our close family friend, would bake snickerdoodle cookies every report card day.  Her kids, my brother and I, as well as another friend would pile into the car after receiving our report cards at school, just knowing that we would walk into a house that smelled of warm, ready-to-eat snickerdoodles.  It was the best!

As an adult, I continue to love snickerdoodles, along with most anything that has a prominent cinnamon flavor.  Jordan has picked on me before about it.  It was one time when he was helping me unpack groceries from my trip to the commissary, and he noticed that I bought 2 cinnamon flavored cereals, cinnamon roll pop tarts, and cinnamon bread.  Ooops!  :)  Not to mention our cinnamon roll coffee and cinnamon roll toaster strudels that we already had.  What can I say?  I love cinnamon.

This bread is absolutely delicious and filled with cinnamon flavor.  It is very moist and addictive if you love this flavor as much as I do!  When it first came out of the oven, the sides and bottom were pretty hard.  However, the 2nd day, after the bread had spent the night in a large sealed container, they had softened and the bread was super moist.  I didn't end up sending this one with Jordan to work.  I kept it allll for us.  :)

Snickerdoodle Bread
Source: Lil Luna
*I halved this recipe to make only 1 regular-sized loaf
2 1/2 cups  flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1cup sour cream
1 pkg. Hershey's cinnamon chips
3 TB sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until all combined.
Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter. Set aside.
Spoon batter into 2 regular loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans until about 2/3 full.
Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 50 mins if using regular loaf pans or 35-38 minutes for mini loaf pans. Let cool before removing from pan.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Emily - 2 Months

Emily Grace, you are 2 months old now!  Wow!  You are really changing so much lately.

This month you:

Went to Daddy's basketball games
Visited at Mommy's work
Had your first Thanksgiving
Loved sleeping in your swing...and nowhere else
Saw your first Christmas lights and loved staring at them
Liked hearing us sing "Jingle Bells" and the love song from the movie "Tangled"
Smiled at us every time you woke up from a nap
Started drooling
Hung out with Mommy at the gym while she worked out
Smiled at Grandma on Skype
Caused Mommy and Daddy to leave a restaurant before we even ate our meal
FINALLY started sleeping in your crib!

Sometimes a feeling still comes over me of "Wow, I'm a mom..." when I look at you.  You are such a blessing to us and you are a beautiful, precious baby girl. 

The next month will bring even more changes and good times, I'm sure!  Can't wait!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

I knew long before I ever had children that when I did, I would choose to breastfeed them.  Now that I am a mom, I am even more aware of how beneficial it is.  When Emily starts crying for milk, I don't have to wait for a bottle to be prepared and heated up; I just pick her up and feed her.  And, of course the biggest reason I chose to breastfeed is for the nutritional value.  I have a friend who is in nursing school, and she was shown microscopic views of breast milk and formula.  She told me that under the scope, there is a HUGE difference between the two, with breast milk looking rich with nutrients, and formula looking similar to plain water in comparison. 
Fortunately, Emily does well with breastfeeding.  She has known "what to do" since the first time we tried 1 hour after she was born.  She is gaining weight and getting longer each time we go to the doctor.  There is only 1 major downfall though - I have to still watch what I eat.  When I was pregnant, my doctor told me several things I had to stay away from: sushi, shellfish, caffeine, certain cheeses, cold lunch meat, and of course alcohol.  I had hoped that these rules would be over after my baby was born.  No such luck, unless you want a screaming baby.  Not only was I told (by a different doctor) to continue to stay away from the foods listed above, but to also refrain from eating things that would make Emily gassy, like spicy foods, broccoli, etc.  I have learned from personal experience that she doesn't feel well after I eat a significant amount of chocolate, either.  Dang it!!!  I haven't had 2 of my loves, crab legs and feta cheese, since I got pregnant, and now my beloved chocolate is a problem???!  Give a girl a break!
With that being said, I made this jambalaya "non-spicy", so that I could still eat it without Emily getting a tummy ache.  Jordan said he still loved it, even without the spice.  But if you try it you could certainly make it spicy!  I have directions for that under the recipe.     

Slow Cooker Jambalaya
Source: Adapted from Plain Chicken

1 package skinless, boneless chicken thighs- cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 tsp minced garlic
white rice or instant rice (I used 2 packs of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice - Roasted Chicken flavor)

In a slow cooker, mix the chicken, sausage, tomatoes with juice, garlic, and broth. Season with oregano and parsley.

Cover, and cook 7 to 8 hours on Low, or 3 to 4 hours on High. Mix in cooked rice cook for about 15 minutes to warm through.

*If you prefer spicy jambalaya, add 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper to taste.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies

It was a "love at first sight" moment when I saw these cookies.  I mean, look at them.  Gooey caramel coming out of the middle?  Yes please.  Not to mention the fact that I love caramel apples (nowadays, they are usually sold covered in all sorts of other goodies too!). 

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a long time now, and Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity.  They ended up being a hit with our friends!  They are best when the caramel is warm/gooey, so try to eat them when they have slightly cooled but are still warm from the oven.  Otherwise, you can reheat the cookies for about 10 seconds in the microwave to get that texture back.

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies
Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (7.4 oz) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (10 packets – found next to hot chocolate mix)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (14 ounce) bag of Kraft chewy caramels

Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (you need this so that the caramel doesn’t stick to the bottom of your cookie sheet).
In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Add vanilla and mix well.
Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
Scoop out a cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut (about 2 tablespoons).
Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel (I flattened the caramels slightly so they melt evenly in the cookie) into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely.
Shape the dough into a ball, and place on parchment covered cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.
Bake 11-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. They may not look quite done in the center but that is OK.
Once the cookies are done, carefully slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter.
Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down on the parchment or on a cookie rack. If they are not upside down while they cool they may drizzle caramel out the bottom.

Makes around 2-3 dozen cookies. Best when eaten warm from the oven or warmed in the microwave.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Pizza

I loooove pizza.  It is by far one of my favorite foods.  I wish it wasn't so fattening (especially because I like extra cheese!) so I could eat it all the time.  I came across this recipe and decided that it would be awesome with a little tweaking.  And it really was delicious!  It's like eating pizza covered with the hot spinach dip appetizer that restaurants serve.  I chose to not add artichoke pieces like the original recipe stated, because I don't like eating chunks of artichoke.  If you do like them, you could certainly add those too!  Another change I made to the original recipe was adding chicken pieces.  This was mostly because I felt we needed some kind of protein on top. 

It's pretty fun to make your own pizza at home, because you get to control the toppings.  You can put on just the right amount of sauce you like, the right amount of cheese (lots), and the perfect toppings.  Try this one out for a taste of something different and delicious!

Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Pizza
Source: Adapted from The Two Bite Club

½ pint (1 cup) heavy cream
½ cup butter
2 tbsp cream cheese
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 oz of fresh spinach, roughly chopped (I used chopped frozen-I thawed it first-and it was fine)
1 tube/recipe of your favorite pizza crust
Bite-sized pieces of cooked chicken

Preheat the oven according to the cooking instructions on the label of your pizza dough.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir together the cream, butter, and cream cheese until fully melted.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Continue to cook and stir for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place spinach in a saute pan with a tablespoon of water over medium high heat and saute until wilted.
I thawed a container of frozen chopped spinach in the microwave, then followed the next steps: 
Once spinach is fully wilted, place it onto a clean kitchen towel and wring out all of the liquid by twisting the towel into a ball with the spinach inside. Once you've squeezed out all of the liquid, add it to the sauce.
Spread the sauce over the pizza crust. You might have some left over for dipping depending on how saucy you like your pizza.
Place chicken pieces over sauce then top with mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes or until you start to see the cheese browning. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sausage and Bean Soup with Pasta

This is the soup I mentioned wanting to make in this post.  It was very good, and perfect to make nowadays, since it has been very cold and windy outside.  It's also pretty healthy!  Sorry I'm making this such a short mind is totally distracted by the fact that I want to get the Christmas decorations out...and possibly go buy some new ones.  :)

Sausage and Bean Soup with Pasta
Source: Slightly adapted from The Italian Dish

1 15-ounce can of white beans, drained
1 pound ground sausage- turkey or pork (I used turkey sausage)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium carrot, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
6 to 8 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 cup ditalini pasta, or any small pasta
grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In a large pot, brown the sausage. Remove from pot. If there is a lot of fat left in the pot, pour this out but do not wipe out pot. Add onion, carrot and olive oil and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and saute about a minute more. Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken broth, Italian seasoning, some salt and pepper, the drained beans and the sausage and cover the pot. Cook for an hour over low heat, at a gentle simmer.  Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is tender. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can add more chicken broth.
Serve with grated cheese on top.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Souffle

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Ours was very nice - we shared a Thanksgiving meal with our "military family" aka our neighbors.  :)  We had great fellowship, great food, and we played a game that is now one of my favorites- Apples to Apples.  It was so much fun to play with a crowd, and it kept us laughing, that's for sure!

This sweet potato souffle is a recipe that my Mema passed to my Mom and me.  We have it on Thanksgiving every year, and even though I'm not a big fan of sweet potatoes, my hubby loves them, so I knew I should make them this year for him and our other friends to enjoy.  I wish I could scrape the topping onto my plate and enjoy that!  ;)

(I know you can only see the topping of this dish in the picture above.  This was something I was bringing to someone else's home, so I couldn't really scoop some out to take a picture of, lol.  I trust you all know what mashed sweet potatoes look like; just imagine some underneath that topping.)

Here are some pics of our little sweetie on her first Thanksgiving:

Sweet Potato Souffle

3 cups cooked & mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix all together and put in a 2 quart casserole dish.

1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix together and spoon on top of potato mixture.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gingerbread Popcorn

I love specialty popcorn.  Remember when I made this one?  mmmm

I also love movie theater popcorn, even though it makes regular popcorn that you pop at home taste inferior.  However, I have learned that if you take a few ingredients and spruce up your "at home" popcorn, it really makes a difference.  Plus, there are an infinite number of delicious possibilities!

Since fall is upon us and I wanted to bring a special popcorn to my friends on our girl's Bunco night, I decided on this flavor.  I love anything 'gingerbread' so I knew it would be yummy!  This would also make a great snack to set out for your family while you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner because it won't fill them up.

Gingerbread Popcorn
Source: Tasty Kitchen
12 cups popped Popcorn (I used Tender White)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
½ teaspoon Nutmeg
¼ teaspoons Cloves
½ cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
1 cup Light Brown Sugar, Lightly Packed
2 Tablespoons Molasses
1 Tablespoon Water
1 pinch Salt
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Put the popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.   
Sift together the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl and set aside.
Cook the butter, sugar, molasses, water, and salt in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305ºF (hard crack stage), stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat. Carefully stir in the vanilla and baking soda/spice mix and then pour it over the popcorn/nut mixture.
Use 2 heat-safe rubber spatulas to toss the popcorn around to distribute the toffee throughout. Spread out the popcorn onto wax paper. Let it cool and then break it apart. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cheesy Potato and Smoked Sausage Casserole

My name is Holly and I am addicted to Pinterest.  Like, it's a serious condition.  In fact, my husband just came in here and told me for the fourth time tonight that I should get off Pinterest.  "Don't you have anything more fun to do? he asks. 

*confused facial expression*  As if looking on Pinterest isn't fun?

So, I decided to finish this blog that I'd started of this recipe that I made the other night.  I bet you can't guess where I found the recipe.  ;)  *evil grin*

Okkkk, so what really happened was that my hubby offered to go grocery shopping for me last week so I could stay with the baby at home.  Yay!  So, I made a list, including ingredients to make this amazing looking soup that I'd seen on guessed it...Pinterest.  I needed a pound of ground turkey sausage.  Instead, my hubby brought home a pound of completely cooked turkey sausage - the kind in the gi-normous round links.  He didn't understand why I just couldn't use it in the soup.  Ummm, maybe because the soup didn't call for giant looking hot dog pieces in it?  lol

I told him not to worry because I could find another recipe to use it in.  Guess where I found the new recipe?  On Pinterest.  Are you noticing a trend yet?  Anyway, it ended up being a good find!  A good ol' warm, comforting meal for these cold nights.

I still hope to try that soup recipe soon.  If it's good, I'll share it with ya, so be on the look out!

Cheesy Potato and Smoked Sausage Casserole

3 cups idaho potatoes, peeled, boiled and cut into cubes when cool, approx. 1 lb
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb skinless smoked sausage (we used smoked turkey sausage)
1/8 teaspoon paprika

Cut skinless smoked sausage in half, lengthwise, and then chop into 1/2 inch "half moon" cuts. Cook in a frying pan for about 15 minutes, turning frequently till browned.
Meanwhile, put cooked & diced potatoes in 2 quart casserole. Add cooked meat and give it a gentle toss.
Mix all remaining ingredients (except for shredded cheddar cheese & the paprika) in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, melted and smooth. (Use a whisk and stir constantly.).
Pour white/cheese sauce over potatoes and meat. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top, and then sprinkle paprika evenly over the top.
Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 35-45 minutes (watch, until golden brown on top).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Emily's 1st Month

Well, baby girl, I can't believe you're already a month old!  Time has already flown and we're only just getting started.  This month has been a huge learning and growing experience for me & Daddy.  We have learned how to care for a newborn on an everyday basis.  We have learned your likes and dislikes.  Most of all, we have learned that being your parents is the greatest gift we could've ever been given.  You have learned and grown a lot this month too!

This month you:

Smiled at Mommy when I made funny faces/noises
Grew beautiful, long eyelashes
Went to your first church service
Started pulling Mommy's hair
Went to your first baby shower (for someone else)
Loved staring at your under-the-sea soother
Kept us up at night...a lot
Loved getting your hair washed
Went on your first walk around base

Daddy and I love you SO much Emily!!  I can't wait to see what this coming month has in store for us, and all the new things you'll learn.  You are a precious miracle and I hope you've enjoyed your first month here in the world as much as we have.  :)

Love, Mommy 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lemon Chicken

Hello, beautiful, crispy chicken

When I hear "lemon chicken", the first thing that comes to my mind is Debra from the show Everybody Loves Raymond; lemon chicken was the one dish that she always made.  I suppose it was the only dish that she felt confident making, considering how much smack talk she always heard from her family about her sub-par cooking skills.  I bet she was confident about it, if this was the recipe she was using.  :)

Add yet another chicken recipe to your rotation!  This chicken is juicy and the skin has such a great flavor from the lemon, butter, and seasonings.  I asked Jordan if I could just eat the crispy skin off all the leftover pieces before storing them in the fridge...he said no.  He liked it a lot!!

Lemon Chicken
Source: slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

2 TB grated lemon zest (the zest of about 2 large lemons)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (the juice from the 2 large lemons you zested; roll lemons on the counter before squeezing to get the juices flowing!)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2-4 lbs. of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or drumsticks
2-3 TB melted butter
Thinly sliced lemons, for garnish

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, seasoning, salt, & pepper into a large ziplock bag.  Seal the bag and shake well to blend.  Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the marinade, pressing out excess air and sealing once more.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and transfer to a baking dish, skin side up, reserving the leftover marinade.  Brush the top of each piece of chicken with melted butter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the skins are crispy and well-browned.  Halfway through baking, pour the remaining marinade over the chicken pieces in the baking dish.  Once fully baked, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with lemon slices, and serve!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cheeseburger Soup

**First of all, I'd like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! to my wonderful Mom!  Jordan, Emily & I wish we could be there and celebrate with you!  I love you, Mama!**

I don't know about you, but the show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" really depresses me.  I mean, why can't I live near some of these places with the ultra unique, fresh, and amazingly delicious food?!  Sigh...

I promise there's a lot of hamburger meat in there!  It just sinks to the bottom.

One particular episode featured a place called "Grovers" in New York who served delicious looking cheeseburger soup.  Thankfully, another blogger took it upon herself to try and copy the recipe and post it online.  Jordan & I had this for supper tonight and it was very good!  Also, it was easy to make which is always a plus.  It tasted just like a cheeseburger, especially considering the toppings that you stir into your bowl with the soup.  Don't be weirded out by adding lettuce to your hot soup - it's delicious and really gives you the "cheeseburger" experience!  :)

Cheeseburger Soup
Source: Have Pan, Will Cook!

2 lb ground beef
Hamburger seasoning or salt/pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 Tb butter
1 box (32 oz) Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
3/4 of a 2 lb log (so, 1.5 lb) of 2% Velveeta Cheese
1.5 pint (3 cups) Half & Half
1 Tb flour
1 Tb cold water (may take a bit more)
Diced tomatoes
Shredded lettuce
Diced dill pickles

In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, brown the ground beef. Season with your choice of hamburger seasonings—I just used salt & pepper. Drain and set aside.
In a large soup pot, add 1 Tb butter, and diced onion. Allow the onion to sweat over medium heat. When the onions become translucent, you are ready to continue.
Add the chicken broth, the diced Velveeta and the half & half. Allow the Velveeta to melt into the mixture.
In a small bowl or ramekin, mix the flour and water to make a slurry. You may need a bit more of water–just add enough to make a smooth mixture, somewhat thin, but not watery. Once mixed well, add to the cheesy mixture. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (the cheese likes to stick - try not to let it, or it will brown on the bottom of the pot).
Add the ground beef to the soup pot, turn down to medium low heat.
Stir to combine and turn to low heat until ready to eat.
Ladle into bowls and add toppings into the bowls-shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and diced dill pickles.  Stir and enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Sweetest Thing I've Ever Baked Up...

As many of you know, I gave birth to my sweet baby girl, Emily Grace, on October 9th.  I may be a bit biased, but I think she's pretty perfect.  :)

I'll spare you the details of my labor and delivery...let's just say I've declared Emily my only child due to the experience.  Everyone says I'll eventually change my mind...we'll see.  ;)

For now, I'll just focus on savoring every moment with my little baby.  Well, mostly every moment.  I'll admit I wasn't feeling too chipper in the middle of last night when, despite my every effort, she would not lay down and go to sleep.  I guess my mom would say it's payback for how I was as a baby: fine if you're rocking/holding me, upset when laid down.  And diapers...ohhhh, the diapers.  She is only 2 1/2 weeks old and Jordan & I have already changed so many diapers that we could probably change one in our sleep...oh wait, I am half asleep many times when I'm changing them.  I've almost forgotten what real sleep feels like.  Attention grandmas and grandpas!! - COME BACK!!!  lol

With all that being said, look at this face:

Every bit of what we do is worth it because of this sweet baby girl that God has blessed us with.  I love her so much!!  Emily, I am so proud to be your mommy!

On a "blog" note, I noticed when I began writing this post that I haven't blogged since late August...yikes!!  I'm sorry for my hiatus.  I guess that's what being at the end of your 3rd trimester, and then being a new mommy, can do to ya!  I will try to post more as we get ourselves into a better routine.  Thanks readers!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Italian Chicken and Potatoes

Thursday and Friday of last week were the first days of school for the kids.  I cannot believe how quickly the summer came and went.  : (

My life is becoming more busy by the day.  I have more responsibilities at work this year, and a rapidly growing number of students on my caseload.  I have a baby that is due in 6 weeks.  And plenty of work that needs to be done around the house before she arrives.  When will this happen??!!

During times like these, it's always good to have delicious crock-pot meals that can be thrown together in a second and left to cook all day with no fuss.  Here's one for ya; I hope it makes one of your future days a little less hectic.  : )

See below recipe - I usually shred the chicken into large chunks, but left it whole to take the picture.

Italian Chicken and Potatoes
Source: Adapted from

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or regular chicken breasts - any chicken would do, really)
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (plus a little extra for the end)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Small red potatoes, washed and cut into quarters (I leave the peel on)
Baby carrots

Wash chicken and place in bottom of Crock Pot. Pour half of the Italian dressing and grated cheese on top.  Sprinkle half of the Italian seasoning, then sprinkle on some garlic powder and cayenne.  Put the potatoes and baby carrots on top or around the chicken. Pour the rest of the dressing and cheese on top.  Sprinkle the rest of the Italian seasoning, and another sprinkle of garlic powder and cayenne.

Cook on low for about 6-8 hours, or until the chicken is done and potatoes/carrots are tender.

When ready, I usually remove the chicken breasts, shred them into large chunks, and put them back into the crock pot.  I then add salt, squirt a little more Italian dressing on top, and stir well before serving.  It's fine to leave the chicken breasts whole, but if you shred it slightly, it will absorb more of the yummy liquid and flavor.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Watergate Salad

One of my sweet friends told me about this dish (and how much she loves it) about a year ago, and I had never heard of it before.  Then, as I was scanning through one of my cookbooks, there it was!  It could not be easier to throw together in a skinny minute, and it is a nice marriage of textures and flavors.  Creamy cool whip and pistachio pudding, tart pineapple, sweet mini marshmallows, and crunchy pecans.  Yes, it's light green...but who cares?!

When I told my husband that I made "Watergate Salad", he responded by wondering what was in it with the lettuce.

: )

I can't blame the guy, it is called a salad.  He was pleasantly surprised when I told him there was no lettuce (he still tries to boycott most veggies when possible) and was even more pleased when he tasted it!  He said his favorite part was the pecans...I wonder if you can guess MY favorite part?  (I know my mama can!!)  If you're not my mama and you have no clue, my favorite part is definitely the mini marshmallows.

Watergate Salad
Source:  Southern Plate cookbook

20 oz. can crushed pineapple (juice and all)
1 cup mini marshmallows (I added extra, which made it that more awesome, heehee)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 small box instant pistachio pudding
8 oz. whipped topping

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together well.  Chill before serving.  If the salad is too thick, it can be thinned with a little milk (I did not have to use any milk; the consistency was just right).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy Blogiversary to Me!!

Well folks, my blog officially turned 1 year old today!!  This is pretty exciting, so I knew I had to make something delicious to celebrate, but also something that wasn't 1 million calories...after all, I don't really need to get any bigger at this point.  Being 8 months pregnant is rough on a body, and it's only going to get worse!  Yikes!

I decided to make these delicious looking cheesecake stuffed strawberries I've been seeing all over the web, and boy, they did not disappoint!  They are super easy to make, and a fun, yummy, hand-held dessert.

Here they are whole:

And here's a look at the middle:

Mmmmmm!!  Definitely try to get large strawberries when you make these...the bigger the better (for filling).

I have really enjoyed blogging this year, and I hope this coming year I can continue to try new things and share them with you, despite the busyness of being a new mom.  :)

Here's a look at the top 5 most viewed recipes on my blog this past year:

#5:  Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

#4:  Cool Mt. Crumpit Peppermint Patty Brownies

#3:  Cappuccino Cake

#2:  Brookies

And finally, the most popular recipe on the blog is...drumroll please...

Gooey Strawberry Cookies!!  (a much deserved first place)

Thank you all so much for reading - here's to year #2!!

P.S.  Happy Birthday Granny!!!  Love you bunches!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Source:  The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 lb large strawberries
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top and clean out with a paring knife.  Prep all of the strawberries and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off. Fill the strawberries with cheesecake mixture.
Once strawberries are filled, sprinkle or dip the tops with graham cracker crumbs. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes

Remember on the last post how I mentioned a certain "knock-your-socks-off" dinner? these cheesy, flavorful, shrimp stuffed potatoes.

It's kind of like eating a loaded baked potato...except no bacon, add lots of shrimp.  Although, bacon would be a GREAT addition!

This was our dinner one night last week, along with salads and green beans (see, now the calories in the potato are balanced out with 'green'!).  They are really delicious, and I wish I could've eaten one of the leftovers...sadly, I can't eat much shellfish while pregnant.  I haven't been eating any at all, but I made an exception for 1 potato the night I baked them, and boy was I happy!  Make them for your family, and you'll all be happy too!  :)

Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes
Original recipe serves 6; can be easily halved

6 large Idaho potatoes
vegetable oil, for coating
8 TB butter
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling
2 cups grated monterey jack cheese
2 cups sour cream
salt & pepper
1 lb shrimp, peeled, cleaned, and sauteed (I thawed out some frozen shrimp, cleaned and peeled them, then patted dry, coated them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and sauteed in butter.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Begin by washing potatoes, drying them, and gently pricking them with a fork on the sides.  Coat each potato with vegetable oil (I also salted the skins), place on foil covered pan, and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.
Place the butter in a large bowl.  Remove the potatoes from the oven and slice each potato in half (Instead, I sliced the tops off the potato to make 1 large stuffed potato rather than lots of halves).
Gently scoop out the potato and place in the bowl.  Using a mixer on high, mix the potatoes, butter, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste.  Fold the shrimp and both cheeses into the mixture.
Gently stuff the mixture back into the potato shells, making sure not to break them.  Pile the mixture as high as you can on top of the potato shells.
Sprinkle each potato with cheese and paprika for color.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20 to 30 minutes until browned on top.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pepperoni Bites

Tomorrow is the last day of school.  HALLELUJAH!!  I am one step closer to being free for the summer!  One of the things that I will MISS from being at work are the days we all bring in food (birthdays, holidays, etc.).  It's always a great opportunity to try new things and learn new recipes.

The last time food was brought in, I could not hardly stay away from these Pepperoni Bites that my friend made.  They are bite-size, which is always dangerous for delicious snacks.  I felt like I could eat more and it "wouldn't really add up to that much".  : /

She gave me the recipe and I immediately made them that weekend for a cookout we were hosting.  They were a hit once again!  They are very simple to make, with such a good flavor.  Buttery, soft and crisp from the crescent rolls, salty and creamy from the filling....mmmmmmm...

Here are a pan of them that I made.  Just looking at them now makes me sad that they are more for me to eat....wahhhhh!!!

Here's what the middle looks like:

They are baked on a cookie sheet, but if you are making a batch for a party, they stay nice and warm if you line your crockpot and put them hot from the oven into the crockpot set to "warm".

Pepperoni Bites
1 7 oz. bag of pepperoni slices (I used Hormel Original)
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
2 cans of regular Pillsbury crescent rolls

Put all the pepperoni slices into a chopper or blender and chop until they are ground up.  Dump this into a bowl and mix well with softened cream cheese. For ease of the next step, cover mixture with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until it becomes firm.

Preheat oven to 375.  Unroll crescent rolls into 8 triangles each.  Then cut each triangle into 3 smaller triangles.  Place a dollop of pepperoni/cream cheese mixture into the center of each small triangle and fold the dough all the way around the mixture, forming a ball.

Place pepperoni bites on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 until they are golden brown (follow crescent roll package directions for how many minutes).

Enjoy!  And don't say I didn't warn you about how addictive they are!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Let me start by saying Happy Mother's Day to all my readers, and a special Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mom! :)  I am really blessed to have such a special mom, and one who I have learned a lot from that will help me raise my own child.

For those of you who have not already heard, I am excited to say that we are expecting a GIRL!  I could not be more thrilled!  We haven't even started working on her room, but there is already a small row of pink clothes hanging in her closet.  :)  Not to mention pink booties, mittens,

I definitely took a turn for the better once I hit 16 weeks.  Now, I'm 20 weeks and I still get very sleepy by 9:00, but I haven't gotten sick/nauseous at all in 4 weeks.  I have really been able to enjoy my growing baby and feel her kick (not as wonderful when you're trying to get to sleep on a work night and she thinks it's time for a dance party).

Being that I do get more tired earlier in the evening, I love dinners that don't take much work.  Who doesn't??  These slow-cooker chicken caesar sandwiches are very tasty, AND fall under the "easy" category.

The top 2 reasons why I love them:

1.  They are smothered in caesar dressing.  My hubby and family can tell you that, if given the choice, I will ALWAYS choose caesar salad over a regular garden salad in a restaurant.  I love a good caesar dressing, and I found a good one for these sandwiches.

2.  The chicken is cooked in the crockpot, so by the time you have to shred it, it is MUCH less of a tedious process than usual.  Shredding chicken is probably my LEAST favorite cooking task.  And sooooooo many recipes call for shredded chicken.  Help me somebody!!  Thankfully, this chicken ends up being so tender that it is so easy to shred.

If you are a fan of caesar salad, definitely give these sandwiches a try!  (My husband, as usual, wouldn't let me put lettuce on his...and he still ate 3 sandwiches in one sitting...but please, the rest of you - eat your lettuce!)

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches
Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything via Sweet Treats and More

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used boneless/skinless chicken breasts)
1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite Caesar dressing (Make sure it's a creamy Caesar - I used 1 cup of Marzetti Supreme Caesar from the produce section)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (if you don't have fresh use around 2 teaspoons of dried parsley)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
12 slider buns or 4-6 regular sized hamburger buns

1. Place chicken in a 3-4 quart slow cooker with 1-2 cups of water, cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.

2. Remove chicken from cooker using a slotted spoon and drain the water from the slow cooker. Place chicken on a cutting board and pull chicken into shreds, discarding any fat.

3. Place chicken back in the cooker and pour dressing, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper over the top. Add caesar dressing as desired, about 1 cup. Stir until mixed evenly. Cover and cook on high heat for 30 minutes or until mixture is hot.

4. Spoon 1/4 cup mixture onto each slider bun if you are making sliders or more for regular sized buns. Top with extra shredded Parmesan cheese and lettuce to serve.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday, Katie!

It's hard to believe our Katie is already 1 year old...where does the time go??  *sniff sniff*

I think it's safe to say she has enjoyed her birthday, though.  I baked her some "pupcakes" (recipe below), and she got some presents, as WELL as plenty of love and attention - as if she didn't already get that.

Happy Birthday Katie Ruth!!  :)
She looooved the pupcake...oh my goodness.  She refused to eat if off the plate, so like a civilized doggie, she took it to eat on her pillow.  And made a huge, crumby mess.  But hey, it's her birthday!

She also loved her presents...a new stuffing-less Bobo and a hard pretzel chew that's chicken flavored.  Oh yeah, and the cutest little treats called 'Quacks'!  :)

It was impossible to get a still shot-she was a playing machine!

Yes, some people probably think that we spoil her.  But why not?  Even though we have our first baby on the way, Katie is also our baby and we love her very much.  :)

This is her the first day we got her:

What a cutie!!!!!!!  I miss her being this small!

But if she never grew, would this be as much fun??  :)

We love you Squirrel!  Hope you've had a great 1st birthday!  Don't grow up too fast...and also...learn how to behave.  lol

Cheddar Pupcakes
Source:  Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from The Dog Ate It
*Note- I halved this recipe to only make 5 pupcakes.  It will make 10 if you do not halve it.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup traditional rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup applesauce
½ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients together and fill into paper-lined muffin tins.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Cool completely before feeding to your pup!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oatmeal Scotchies

How is it possible that this is only the 2nd cookie recipe I've ever posted??  I don't get it either.

Don't hate on my napkin...I realize it's not winter anymore, but they're all I have!

My hubby is the one who requested these cookies.  Someone brought them in at his work, and when I asked them for the recipe, they said "Just look at the back of the butterscotch chip bag!"  Well, there is 1 change for those of us living in humid climates, but for the most part - go Nestle!

These cookies are sweet and satisfying (I think due to the oats).  But don't go thinking you can eat just one when they're warm from the oven...the night I made them, I definitely ate my fair share.  Of course, some are for me, and some are for the baby.  ;)

If you like butterscotch, definitely try these cookies!  And make sure to eat your fair share warm from the oven like I did (even if you're not pregnant).  :)

Wow...not only can you see the crumby detail of the cookie, but you can also practically see my fingerprint. 

Oatmeal Scotchies
Source: Slightly adapted from Nestle

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (If you live in a humid climate, increase the flour to 2 cups.  This is what I did.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened (margarine? seriously? get real people. butter all the way)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange (I used vanilla extract)
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) Nestle Toll House Butterscotch Flavored Morsels

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. (I like using baking sheets lined with parchment paper.)

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies.  (I baked 7 minutes for chewy cookies and they were perfect).  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.