Valentine’s Day 2014!

Our Valentine’s Day was crazy this year, our power came back on that morning at 1:00 am, so it was definitely a memorable one! We still were able to do presents though and even went out to lunch! πŸ™‚






I now have a new 9×13-inch pan that isn’t shattered, Whoo hoo! Such a sweet husband πŸ™‚

Another Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie post!

Here’s another delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe for my chocolate lovers, like myself, out there. SO scrumptious! The cookies are just perfect in my opinion, soft, chewy, light, chocked full of chocolate, and just enough density that makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie. This may be my new favorite recipe, and the best part? There’s no chilling of the dough required! You can essentially “have your cake and eat it too”, or dough for that matter! πŸ˜‰

– 2 sticks butter, softened
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 1 1/8 cups packed brown sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 1 1/2 cups cake flour
– 1 1/2 cups bread flour
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
– 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
– 1/2 bag mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Begin by sifting together the bread and cake flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
Next, in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and the brown and granulated sugar. Add eggs on at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Gradually add in the flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Using a cookie scoop, scoop out the dough onto silpat baking sheets, or baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake 11-13 minutes or until the edges are brown. They won’t appear done on top, but trust me, they are and will continue to cook while cooling. Once done, remove from oven, let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, and then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
Enjoy with a tall glass of almond milk (or regular)! while still warm from the oven πŸ™‚






Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This was a bit of a time consuming dish, because it has so many different components to it that you have to prepare, and then mix them all together for the final product. Having said that, this was absolutely delicious and the thing that I love most about it, is it’s all real food and clean eating. No processed soup cans, no fake ingredients, just my mantra, real food πŸ™‚ So, if you have some time, give it a shot! The good thing is, it makes a ton and you’ll have leftovers for the next day πŸ™‚

– olive oil, for the pan
– 1/2 a yellow onion, diced
– 3 stalks celery, diced
– 3 whole carrots, diced
– 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– 2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
– 1 cup brown rice
– 1 cup wild rice
– 3 tbsp. butter
– 1/4 cup all purpose flour
– 1 cup chicken broth
– 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
– garlic salt, to taste
– salt and pepper, to taste

If you’re starting with raw chicken breasts, preheat your oven to 350F. Sprinkle both sides of the breasts with salt and pepper and place them in a small casserole dish. Cover with foil and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Once done, remove breasts from the oven and let cool; shred and set aside.
Now, start the rice, place the wild and brown rice in a large pan, follow the cooking instructions on your rice. It normally is 2 cups water: 1 cup rice. So, I did 4 cups of water and the 2 cups of rice. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes- 1 hour, or until all the water is evaporated.
While the rice is cooking, add some olive oil to a large pan; add in the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are softer.
Once the rice is cooked, add it to the pan with the vegetables. Add in the chicken and season with garlic salt, salt, and pepper, to taste.
If your oven is not already, preheat it to 350F. Spray a 9x 13- inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Add the rice, chicken mixture to the pan and set aside.
Now, move on to making the cheese sauce. In a small saucepan, melt the butter down, and whisk in the flour, chicken broth, and a couple dashes of salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Add in two cups of the shredded cheese and continue to stir until melted. Pour the sauce over the mixture in the pan and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.
Enjoy all your hard work! πŸ™‚














Speedy Sloppy Joe’s!

We got Internet and cable back today, Hallelujah! Like I said before, I haven’t really been doing a lot of trying of new recipes recently. This isn’t a fancy recipe at all and probably most people make their own form of sloppy Joe’s that are much more elaborate than this, but here’s mine! Super simple, super fast, and with minimal ingredients. This is definitely one of my “go-to” recipes when I don’t feel like cooking!

– 1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
– 1 small can of tomato paste
– 1 packet of McCormick Sloppy Joe seasoning
– 1 cup water
– wheat hamburger buns
– shredded cheddar cheese

Begin by browning the ground beef in a medium skillet. Drain fat and return the beef to the pan. Add the tomato paste, water, and seasoning packet to the skillet. Give the mixture a big stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Serve on wheat hamburger buns and top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Add a side of vegetables for a balanced meal πŸ™‚





Sweet and Sour Chicken

I’ve been craving Chinese food recently and decided to give this recipe a try. It was pretty good, and fulfilled my craving πŸ™‚ I would make a few tweeks to the original recipe for next time, so I’ll just post what I would do so I have it for the future πŸ™‚

– 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut up into 1 inch pieces
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
– 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
– 3/4 cup cornstarch
– 2 large eggs, whisked
– 1/2 cup canola oil

Sweet and sour sauce:
– 2 cups sugar
– 2/3 cups ketchup
– 1 cup rice vinegar
– 2 tbsp. soy sauce
– 2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a large, rectangular baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
In a gallon bag, mix the cornstarch, salt, pepper, and garlic salt together. Place the chicken in the bag and shake well to coat.
Heat up 1/4 cup of the oil in a large frying pan. Dip the flour covered pieces in the whisked eggs and place the chicken in the pan. I had to do two batches of the chicken, so I dint overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove the chicken to the prepared baking dish.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sweet and sour sauce ingredients. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for about 15 minutes. Pull the chicken out of the oven and flip the pieces over to coat in the sauce. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Serve with brown rice and vegetables πŸ™‚












You may have noticed that I used a cookie sheet lined with foil in the pictures, and my recipe calls for a baking dish. Please use the baking dish, the original recipe called for a baking sheet lined with foil and I did that, it was a huge mess! The foil ended up ripping and the sauce dripped under the foil, causing the sugar to become like a glue. It took a full afternoon of soaking my baking sheet, and I still had a fight to get the “glued on” foil off! No fun!

French Dip Sandwiches

I love French Dips! That’s one of the best things about making a pot roast, is the French Dips the next day! This roast made absolutely divine leftover sandwiches! Sometimes the roast gets a little dried out the next day, and normally that’s alright because you’re dipping it into liquid. This roast however was still juicy and flavorful the next day even, and that just took the sandwich to a whole other level! Delicious!

– leftover pot roast
– some nice fluffy buns or hearty crusty sandwich rolls
– sliced cheese, optional
– au jus packet
– beef broth

Heat up the meat and build your sandwich, sometimes I put cheese on mine, this time I didn’t.
Mix the au jus packet with the beef broth and heat on the stove until it comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it’s boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for a few minutes.
Serve on the side with your sandwiches, and dip generously! πŸ™‚



Blackberry Cheesecake!

I don’t really know how to describe this except to say, that it was utterly delicious and fantastic, and I wouldn’t change a thing! Everyone loved it and I’m counting down the hours until bedtime when I can enjoy my leftover piece in complete selfishness πŸ˜‰
This is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, and we all know angels kiss everything she makes!
This would be a perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day, and you could even use raspberries in the sauce to make it more festive!

– 1 box of Nilla wafers, crushed
– 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted
– 1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla

– Three (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
– 4 large eggs
– 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup sour cream

– 2 cups fresh blackberries (frozen would probably be fine too)
– 1/2 cup granulate sugar
– 2 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

For the crust:
Begin by placing your crushed wafers in a medium sized bowl and adding in the melted butter and vanilla. Stir to combine, then press the mixture into the bottom of a springform pan. If the crumbs come up the sides some, that’s ok, it just adds to the deliciousness!

For the filling:
Place all three of the blocks of softened cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer. Add the sugar, and beat until nice and creamy. Next, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. After the eggs are incorporated, add the sour cream, and mix, scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
Pour the filling right on top of the crust in your springform pan, and smooth the top with your spatula.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. After the time is up, turn your oven off, and open the door. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door open for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and let the cake cool the rest of the way on the counter.

For the topping:
Place your washed berries in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and water to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes. After the time is up turn off the heat and allow the berry mixture to cool.

After your cheesecake is completely cooled, and your berry mixture is room temperature, pour the mixture onto your cheesecake. It’s ok if it looks a bit watery and is running everywhere! πŸ˜‰
Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set for at least two hours, although the longer you give it, the better it will be.
When you’re ready to serve it, remove from the fridge and lift the top off of your pan. Slice the cake with a serrated knife, and be ready for the oohs and aahs that will accompany, at the sight of this beauty!























My Favorite Pot Roast!

The elusive pot roast. I have tried many, many crockpot pot roasts in search of that perfect one, you know the one that Grandma makes so divinely. They have all been ok, but nothing to really “write home” about, until now! I found this recipe and decided to give it a shot. It was so different than all the others, that I thought’ “this may be the one”! Well folks, I am happy to report, this is THE ONE and my search is over! Yahoo!
Our friends that own the exotic animal business, Sunshine Exotics (which you can search their name on Facebook and see the awesomeness of their business πŸ˜‰ ) came to dinner last night with their newest foreign exchange student, a young lady from France! I didn’t exactly know what to make and trying a new recipe out for company, let alone foreign company was a bit risky. Thankfully, the reward was well worth the risk, and I think I represented the U.S well with my American pot roast meal πŸ™‚ I made homemade (always) mashed potatoes to go with it, and a nice salad. My friend Max, brought some delicious challah bread, and I also baked a blackberry cheesecake for dessert (see next post)! It was quite the feast! πŸ™‚ the best part too, is that even after feeding 5 adults and a toddler, we still had leftovers to make French dips with for tonight (look for my post for those later).
So without further a due, here is the star of the show!
P.S I want to apologize in advance for the lack of pictures at the end! I completely spaced some of the end result! I did snap a quick picture this afternoon of some of the shredded meat, but please trust me, it was a beautiful sight indeed!

– 1 bottom round roast (4-5 pounds) you can really use whatever roast you prefer, this is just what my store normally has
– 1 packet gravy mix (I used turkey gravy because that’s all I had on hand, I believe the original recipe calls for an au jus packet though)
– 1 ranch dressing mix packet
– 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
– 5-10 peperoncinis (I used 5 just because I didn’t want it to be too overpowering, but I’ll probably use more next time).

Place your roast in the crockpot. Sprinkle both the ranch and gravy packets on top of the roast. Place the stick of butter also on top of the roast as well as the peppers. Cover the crockpot with the lid and cook on low for 10 hours.
That’s it! So simple and absolutely perfect!

I think one of the secrets to cooking a good crockpot pot roast is not to add water or any liquid. The roast already produces such beautiful liquid on it’s own, and I think that really aids in the flavor department as well.









Busy Bag Ladybugs!

I recently got invited to a “busy bag exchange”, which is essentially a get together of moms with toddlers, where everyone makes a craft in a bag and then you swap. Depending on how many moms participate, you can really collect quite a few different crafts for your little ones. I think the idea of the exchange is to have different crafts that you can take in your purse and entertain the little tots at appts, grocery shopping, car rides, etc. This sounded like such a fun exchange to me, and I loved the idea of having a bunch of different crafts at the ready for whenever! I also am a big time crafter and I thought it sounded like something right up my alley! If you search “busy bags” on Pinterest there are tons and tons of activities that you can find, I sort of just came up with my idea from a quiet book that my Aunt had made me when I was younger.
So, my craft that I decided to do was a felt ladybug with velcro dots πŸ™‚ this ended up being sort of like my stocking project and was a bit more than I bargained for when I started out. However, I’m really happy with the results and Paisley loves putting the spots on her ladybug and taking them off, AND she hasn’t destroyed it yet, yay!

So here’s how I made them:

– black and red felt, depending on how many you’re doing I would say a yard of the red, and a 1/2 yard of the black. This was enough for me to make 10 ladybugs out of.
– black velcro, I just bought it in the package from the fabric store, it will come with two pieces, a fuzzy side, and the rough side.
– needle and thread
– a hot glue gun
– cardboard to make your ladybug template out of
– thin black sharpie
– small circle template for the dots

Begin by tracing a large oval (for the body) and then a smaller circle (for the head) on a piece of cardboard. Trace the shape of your ladybug onto your red felt (however many times you need) and cut out your ladybugs. Then do it again a second time, so each ladybug will have two pieces of red felt (or two bodies). This just helps to make them thicker and has more substance for little hands to hold onto.
Next, do the same thing on the black felt, but with the circle template for the dots. You’ll want to do multiple dots per ladybug. I did 4 dots for each ladybug. Cut out your dots and place them in a pile.
Now, place the velcro’s together (the fuzzy side and the rough side), and cut the long strip into uniform pieces. You’ll need one cut of velcro for each dot.
Start hot glueing each piece of velcro to the dot and the top layer of felt. So you’ll glue the rough side to the ladybug body and the other piece, the fuzzy side to the dot. Then, once you put them together, your dot will velcro to the lady bug body πŸ™‚
After you have all the dots glued and velcroed, start sewing up the two ladybug red felt bodies together.
As a final touch, you can freehand and cut out some antennas for the ladybug’s heads. This step isn’t necessary really, but I think it makes them look that much cuter πŸ™‚
Place them in gallon ziploc bags and stash them, send them, or gift them to the littles in your life πŸ™‚
Have fun! I promise all the work is worth it πŸ™‚









Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’d never made a chicken tortilla soup before, so I was a little hesitant to try my hand at it. I’ve only had it maybe twice in my life and really wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of how it was supposed to look or even taste. I just went for it though, and I was pleasantly surprised with the results! I topped it with shredded Monterey Jack and tortilla chips, and it took it to a whole other level! Will definitely be a repeat recipe, and my toddler even gobbled it up! Score!

– 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
– 15 ounce can of corn, drained
– 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
– 5 cups of chicken broth
– 15 ounce can of black beans, drained
– 1/2 cup onion, diced
– 3/4 cup green pepper, diced
– 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1/4 tsp. chili powder
– 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. cumin
– 1 tsp. salt, more or less to taste
– 1 tsp. pepper, more or less, to taste
– shredded Monterey Jack cheese
– tortilla chips, crushed


Add all of the ingredients, (except the cheese and tortilla chips), to your slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
Before serving, remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat. It should basically be filling apart at this point.
Once shredded, add back to the slow cooker. Taste your soup, and adjust the seasonings at this point.
Serve with shredded Monterey Jack and the crushed tortilla chips. Delicious!