Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ham and Egg Breakfast Bake

Well I really can't believe Christmas is already here. Maybe it's the lack of snow here in Iowa or just the fact that we've been so busy. Regardless, I am excited to be off work for almost two weeks! I'm looking forward to spending the holiday with our families, relaxing and who knows,  maybe even doing a little freezer cooking.

Christmas morning I always like to have something special for us to eat after we open presents. The usual cinnamon rolls or waffles are favorites but the hubby likes more savory dishes. So I created this with him in mind.

I combined some of his favorites: ham and cheese. And it can even be made ahead of time which I love. Christmas eve night toss everything together in a casserole dish and let it set in the fridge overnight. Then while you're busy opening presents in the morning, your breakfast can be baking away in the oven. Perfect if you ask me!

Ham and Egg Breakfast Bake

4 slices thick deli ham, cut into small pieces
4 English muffins, cut into chunks
6 eggs
1 cup milk
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a 2 qt. casserole dish place two slices of ham in bottom of dish. Layer muffin pieces on top.

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour over the mixture and sprinkle cheese over top. Cover with foil and let set in fridge overnight or at least 4 hours.

Remove from fridge when ready to bake. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 mins. Then remove foil and bake for another 10-15 mins. or until center is set. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Candy Clusters

In our family we have our usual favorites we make each Christmas and these are definitely on the list. For as long as I can remember my mom has added them to her list. However, this is the first year I have decided to try them for myself.

The little miss and I spent a weekend afternoon doing some baking and we tackled these first. Start to finish, with a four-year olds help, we finished in about fifteen minutes.  Simple is what I like.

Like I said, the recipe has been in our family for many years. It originated from a close friend of my grandmothers. I even found the handwritten recipe in a box belonging to my great aunt. It was labeled Betty's Candy.

My mom always makes a batch and tosses them into the freezer until she's ready to assemble her holiday treats. They'll keep just fine and taste as if you just made the clusters.

I love how you get a nice sweet and salty combination from these treats. I say if you're looking for any treats to make this weekend, add these to your list. They are so simple and a treat loved by all!

Candy Clusters

20 oz. package vanilla almond bark
1 cup chunky peanut butter
2 cups mixed nuts
2 cups miniature marshmallows
3 cups Rice Krispie cereal

In a large pan melt almond bark over stove top. Once melted completely remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until mixture is smooth. Add in nuts and cereal and stir to combine. Lastly, add in marshmallows and stir again.

Using a medium sized cookie scoop, drop mixture onto wax or parchment paper. Let set until cooled and clusters are set. You may then store in airtight containers at room temperature, in the fridge or freezer.

Makes about 4 dozen clusters.

Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Cookie Exchange

What a busy, busy weekend we just had. Lots of activities from our preschoolers Christmas program, to my annual cookie exchange, to other family events that took place over the weekend. For the past five years I've hosted a cookie exchange each December. I know I've talked about it many times before, but it's really one event I look forward to each year.

Nine other ladies joined me this year and it was a big success again. It's always a lot of fun to spend time together because unfortunately, this is one of the few times of the year that we get to see each other.

Our exchange took place where my husband works, they've got an awesome employee lounge for us to use. It's also nice to not have to worry about having everything take place in my own house. I'm always a big stress ball about having everything perfect.

I didn't do a very good job about taking pics of our food, I guess I was too busy feeding my face. I did manage to sneak a few photos though. This year I asked everyone to bring along a small appetizer to share with the group. I think it worked out wonderfully and we had a very nice spread to choose from.

We then played a few games such as a Christmas word scramble, an ornament exchange and this fun paper plate game. You'll want to add this one to your holiday party plans, everyone will be laughing the entire time and it's always fun to see their drawings afterwards!

Then of course, comes the best part of all. Swapping cookies! All of our cookies are displayed between a couple tables and we walk around gathering a few from each platter. All in all, we each went home with five dozen. Plenty for our families to nibble on, share with friends and family or bring along to our holiday parties. Here are just a few of the varieties we had this year:

Each year I also encourage the ladies to bring along any extras they have while baking. That way we can compile them into one large box and donate to an organization in our community. It's a great way for us to give back. Yesterday my girls and I dropped off a big cake box full of cookies to a local homeless shelter. The guests we very excited for some home baked treats! It's truly one of my most favorite aspects of hosting this exchange each year. Sometimes it can be a lot of work pulling it all together, but it's so much fun and I always look forward to the next year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Brownie Bites

I'm not exactly sure who ever made up these national food days, but they sure are fun to celebrate. I made these brownie bites specifically for national brownie day today. Others at work also participated by bringing in their own brownie creations to share with others. It was fun to see what everyone came up with.

I like these bite sized brownies because they're perfect when you're trying to feed a crowd. Especially during the holiday season, easy is crucial. These are a spin off of another brownie dessert I've made before. Since we're a peanut-free school, I had to take a different route with the frosting. No fear though, a simple chocolate fudge buttercream did the trick.

You can most certainly top these with a store bought frosting, but homemade buttercream is really pretty easy to make and tastes so much better! I've already made this dessert easy by using a packaged brownie mix so please don't skip the frosting, it's worth your time I promise.

Holiday platters are always chock full of cookies, if you're not much of a cookie person, give these brownie bites a try. They're sure to please a crowd!

Chocolate Caramel Brownie Bites

18 oz. fudge brownie mix {plus ingredients called for on pkg}
1 bag Rolo candies unwrapped
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
few tsp of milk, for thinning

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two mini muffin pans and set aside. Unwrap Rolo candies, place in a bowl and set in freezer while you prepare brownies.

In a large bowl, prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Using a small cookie scoop, drop batter into prepared pans, filling only 3/4 of the way. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and immediately place a Rolo {small side down} into each brownie. Place back into oven and bake for two minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool completely before trying to remove from pan.

To make buttercream; in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl, cream together butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Use milk to thin frosting to your desired consistency.

When ready to frost; simply add a dollop on of each brownie bite or use a pastry bag with the Wilton 1M tip or other star tip to frost each individual brownie. Makes 40+ brownie bites.

*You're likely to have extra frosting leftover, don't throw it away! You can easily stash it in the freezer to have for another time. Just put into a freezer safe bowl, make sure to label and date with contents.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Apple Spiced Granola

Well I sure hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We kept things pretty low key around here. We were with the hubby's family part of the day and mine in the evening. Friday was the perfect day since we all still had the day off. The majority of the day was spent being lazy and watching movies, something that doesn't happen often enough! It was a much needed time of relaxation for all of us.

Granola is a favorite around here. I always like experimenting with different variations and flavors. We like it to snack on, as a cereal and especially in our morning yogurt. In this new version I incorporated some of my homemade applesauce. The chunky apples cook in the oven and leave a wonderful soft dried fruit in the granola.

Like usual, most of the time I use whatever we have on hand in the pantry. You can do the same. For extra nutrition, throw chia seeds, flax seed or wheat germ in there as well. It's always better tasting and even more cost effective to make your own granola at home. I can make a large batch for probably about the same price as a small bag costs me in the store.

The problem we always run into in our house is, it just doesn't last long enough. If you've got a good applesauce in the fridge or freezer, try this spiced granola for a yummy new treat!

Apple Spiced Granola

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup raw coconut
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of salt
3/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine together all dry ingredients and spices. Mix well. In another bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Add wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine.

Pour granola onto a large baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Make sure to evenly distribute. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, making sure to turn with a spatula every 15 minutes or so. Let bake until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool and then transfer to an airtight container.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hosting a Cookie Exchange

Most definitely one of the highlights to the Christmas season is my annual cookie exchange I host each year. It's a great time for some of my closest friends, family members and I to get together and have a good time. We get a chance to catch up on what's going on in our lives, eat some really good food, play games and of course, swap cookies!

Cookie exchanges are becoming more popular but maybe you've never been to one or even heard of the idea for that matter. It's simply a party where individuals bring a prepared cookie of their choice and exchange with the others in attendance. You leave with the same number of cookies you came with, but only with a large assortment now. I love to schedule mine close enough to the holidays so that the ladies can bring them along to their parties and gatherings if they're needing to supply a dessert.

Have you thought about hosting your own exchange but not sure where to begin? I'm here to help you out! You've still got plenty of time. So let's get started:

Choose your date, time and location- A weekend afternoon might work best depending on your group. I usually aimed for a Sunday afternoon but have recently switched to Saturdays due to our location. We are always finished up within two hours time; that gives us plenty of time to eat a light meal, conversate, play games and swap cookies.

Our group usually consists of 10-15 gals and that's a really good number to start with. My house is no longer big enough for our group, especially when I try to squeeze 15 of us into my living room. So we've since started using the break room where my husband works. It's newly remodeled and complete with plenty of tables, chairs and lots of counter space.

Decide on required amount of cookies and if you'll be serving food: One of the most important aspects to the exchange, is deciding on how many dozen cookies you will require guests to bring. I've done anywhere from three to five dozen. With a large group, I find we like to go with five dozen. That way everyone gets more than two cookies of each kind.

Make sure to have each guest bring copies of their recipe to the exchange. That way everyone can take one with them, you never know, you might end up finding some new family favorites!

I have always prepared a light lunch for my guests in years past, but this year we're doing it a little different. With my working two jobs right now, I just don't have the time for all that. I have asked each guest to bring along a small appetizer to share. You decide on what you're comfortable with, have time for and can afford. And really it's not even necessary for extra food, you can always schedule your party during the afternoon in between meal times.

Create your invites-  Since we're getting close to the holidays, you'll want to make sure you get those out very soon.  Be as creative as you wish. I've written the invitations on recipe cards, printed on fun holiday paper and even have ordered these before.

I always try to send mine out about one month before the exchange. That way my guests have plenty of time to check their schedules, etc. That doesn't mean that you can't still throw together a great party in a short period of time. I always make sure to utilize Facebook as well, you can easily create an invite on there and keep track of your guests that way.

As guests begin to rsvp make sure to keep track of who's bringing which type of cookie. You'll want to inform guests if someone else has chosen the same cookie. Although I've yet to have this problem. I'm always impressed by our variety each year.

Games: Adding a little bit of fun is essential I believe! We always have fun playing 2-3 games. An ornament exchange is something we're planning to do this year, we did it a few years ago and it was simple but a good time. Have each guest bring a wrapped ornament, they don't have to spend a lot and can even make them themselves. Then you can print off a fun poem like this one to read along while you play.

Another game idea is to wrap a prize really well in a box. Like I'm saying use duct tape, wrapping paper, anything you can think of to make it hard to unwrap. Give the starting guest thick gloves and a scarf to put on along with a bowl and dice. Have the guests roll the dice, keep passing along the bowl until a guest rolls a six. Then that guest can put on the gloves and scarf and start trying unwrap the present. Meanwhile the other guests continue passing the dice, once another guest rolls a six they can take away the present. You keep that going until the present is finally opened. But remember, they have to put on the scarf and gloves before they can even start unwrapping. Whoever gets it opened wins the prize. It's a ton of fun and expect lots of laughing throughout the whole game!

The best part of all....swapping cookies: Usually after we've gotten our snacking and game playing out of the way, we end our time together with cookie swapping. I always have tables set up for them to display their platters on when they first arrive. Encourage guests to bring along extra containers to put their cookies in that they're taking with. Depending on how many dozen you make and how many guests you have, depends on how many cookies of each kind you'll take.

I always encourage my guests to bring along any extras they might have while baking. We combine those into a couple boxes and then I arrange to donate them to organizations in our community. This is a tradition that's become a favorite for us and I'm so thankful I have such giving and thoughtful friends and family. Local fire departments, police departments, homeless shelters and assisted living centers are just a few of the places we've donated to and they've always been so appreciative of the treats.

I sure hope you have a better understanding of how cookie exchanges work now. They're tons of fun but don't have to be a lot of work either. It can definitely be a big, elaborate celebration but can also be a simple gathering of a few friends. You can even easily pull this off in an office setting, maybe you'll only want to exchange cookies during lunch hour instead of adding food and games. Whatever works best for you, I hope you'll give it a try. It's one of my most favorite traditions and I'm positive it will become one of yours too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookie in a Cup

'Tis the season for cookies and all things sweet. I love the holidays and all the baking that comes with it, but I know it can also be a lot. A lot of work and a lot of calories for our waistlines. That's why I love these single serving type of desserts.

They're the perfect size for one or two people to split and just enough to satisfy that craving. Over the weekend the girls and I experimented in the kitchen and came up with this delicious sugar cookie version. It's very similar to my favorite cut-out sugar cookie recipe, I especially love the combination of vanilla and almond extract.

It's also a great way to get the kiddos busy in the kitchen with you, there's nothing complicated about this recipe at all. Especially for those of you that cringe at the thought of rolling out cookies, this one is calling your name!

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookie in a Cup

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
splash of both vanilla and almond extract
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
sprinkles, if desired

Place tablespoon of butter into a coffee cup and microwave for about 25 seconds, until melted. Add in sugar, both extracts and salt, stir to combine. Add in egg yolk and flour and stir well, batter will be slightly thickened. Throw some fun sprinkles in there if desired.

Microwave for 1 minute. Remove and let cool just a bit and serve warm with a spoon. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ranch Veggie Pasta Salad

I've been trying to come up with some different ideas when it comes to packing lunches. Leftovers, sandwiches, wraps, etc can get old easily. And frankly, I don't always have a lot of time to eat; so I like something light yet filling. Enter in this pasta salad.

I threw together this easy pasta salad on a Sunday evening while prepping for the upcoming week. It made enough for me and our oldest to enjoy throughout the week. I'll also make sure to keep this in mind when spring and summer make their appearance again. You can't beat a good salad during grilling season!

What I like best about salads like this is they're so versatile. You can throw in any of your favorite veggies, perhaps chunks of cheese or even meat such as ham or pepperoni slices. Of course a good ranch dressing slathered all over is always a good thing. I even lightened it up a bit by incorporating plain Greek yogurt. You can't even tell the difference, I promise.

If you're searching for some new lunch inspiration as well, give this one a try. Or maybe you're in charge of salads for the upcoming holiday gatherings. Why not add this one to your menu? I know you'll love it!

Ranch Veggie Pasta Salad

8 oz. cooked pasta
2-1/2 cups assorted chopped veggies
5 oz. container plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
pepper, to taste
1 oz. packet ranch seasoning mix

In a large bowl combine cooked pasta and veggies, mix together. In another bowl, combine yogurt, mayo, pepper and ranch seasoning and mix together well. Add dressing to pasta mixture and combine until pasta and veggies are well coated.

Cover and chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Freezer Fridays: Apple Pie Filling

A friend of mine dropped off a couple boxes of apples two weeks ago, I hadn't gotten the chance to pick up any apples from area farmers' markets this season so I was really excited when she stopped over. Now my freezer can be set with applesauce and other treats for the winter.

Apple pie is another favorite that I like to stock the freezer with during this time of year. My family has a little tradition where us girls get together and prepare a bunch of pies to be frozen. It's perfect right before the holiday season hits us and we might be needing a dessert for Thanksgiving or what not. We can then thaw one out and bake and you won't ever tell the difference.

Since time seems to be so limited for everyone right now, I don't expect we'll be getting together to prepare any pies this fall. But that's okay. When that happens I know I can prepare this filling and stash the bags in the freezer for another time. The apples freeze just fine and again, my pie will taste just like I prepared everything fresh that day. If I wanted, I could even make sure I have my pie crust all ready to go in the freezer as well.

If you're lucky enough to still have a nice supply of apples on hand, I highly recommend you add some bags of pie filling to your freezer stash. You'll appreciate it come Thanksgiving time when apple pie is on your menu. Save yourself some time in the kitchen!

Freezer-friendly Apple Pie Filling

6 cups sliced apples
1/4-1/2 cup sugar {depends on what type of apple you use, mine were a little on the sweet side}
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp flour

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix together well. Dump apples into a gallon sized freezer bag. Make sure to label with date and contents. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut. Place in freezer until ready to use.

When ready to prepare a pie, remove from freezer to thaw a bit while you prepare pie crust. Add apples to pie plate and bake as directed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Beef Stew

Well October sure went by in a flash! Blogging sort of fell to the wayside, unintentionally of course. We've been dealing with a lot lately and I feel like I hardly have time to do much for cooking and baking let alone write about it. But I'm feeling refreshed and ready to get back to posting on a more regular basis. So here's to a more productive month!

I've always thought Sundays are the perfect day to spend a little extra time in the kitchen creating a nice meal for your family. It's generally the one day of the week where we slow down a bit and try to relax. A few weekends ago that's exactly what I did. I spent part of my afternoon preparing this hearty stew for us to enjoy.

Now normally during the work week I would toss everything into the crock pot and let it cook on low all day while we're gone. But when I'm able to, I love letting this simmer on the stove top in the dutch oven. It warms up the house and the aroma is wonderful!

The stew is chock full of vegetables we love like potatoes, celery and carrots. Served with warm rolls, it's a perfect meal for a chilly day. I can't wait to make it again.

Beef Stew

1-1/2 lbs. stew meat
1 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch of sugar
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, diced
4-5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried thyme

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Season stew meat with salt and pepper and then add to the pot. Brown meat on each side. Once browned remove to a plate and set aside. Add in garlic cloves and let cook for about one minute. Add in tomato paste and stir. Gradually add in beef stock while stirring constantly. Add stew meat back into pot along with Worcestershire sauce and sugar.

Toss vegetables in as well as thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cover with lid and let simmer for about 3 hours. Vegetables should be tender and meat cooked through. Add in additional beef stock if needed. Serve warm with dinner rolls. Serves 4-6

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stuffed Pancakes

I didn't have a very good plan for dinner as we were heading out the door this morning. I quickly pulled out a package of sausage from the freezer to thaw and decided it was a breakfast for dinner kind of evening. It's one of my favorite nights and I don't think anyone else complained.

We had some fun with our traditional pancakes. I decided to add some of our favorite spreads to the inside and make them sort of like dessert pancakes. Some had a warm, gooey Nutella filling, we tried peanut butter and also Biscoff cookie spread. Almond or any other nut butter would be good, as well as jam. Then lightly dusted with powdered sugar, there's no need for maple syrup here!

Give these a try next time you've got pancakes on your menu, whether it be for breakfast or in the evening like we decided. The kids will love helping and picking out their desired fillings. Feel free to use your own favorite pancake recipe or my go-to version listed below.

Stuffed Pancakes

2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil {canola, coconut, etc}
1-1/2 cups milk
Filling options: Nutella, nut butters, Biscoff, jam

In a medium sized bowl, combine together all dry ingredients. Add in wet ingredients and mix together well using a whisk.

Preheat a griddle or small pan over the stove. Ladle a small amount of pancake batter onto the pan, place a large dollop of desired filling directly onto pancake. You can try to sort of spread it out a bit, but it's not necessary. Add another small amount of pancake batter on top to cover the filling. Let cook as usual, until browned and pancake is cooked through.

Repeat with remaining batter.  Before serving, lightly dust pancakes with powdered sugar if desired.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Chicken Strips

Chicken strips or nuggets are always a favorite by children and many adults for that matter. No matter the cuisine served, you can almost always find them on any restaurant menu. And I can see why, they're just really good.

I know for a fact before we had any of our younger children, I purchased store bought chicken strips in a bag. It makes my stomach turn just thinking about it, but hey; it was convenient and something effortless for us to make. For several years now I've been making my own instead. It's still pretty easy and tastes so much better, and better for our health too. None of those preservatives and ingredients that we can't pronounce.

Many times I'll just throw these into the oven and let them bake, but I do like the extra crispy texture from pan frying them in a little olive oil. It's not much at all I promise, but if you'd rather, just bake in the oven and they'll taste just as good. By using panko crumbs you're guaranteed that crispiness that everyone loves.

Homemade Chicken Strips

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups panko crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
salt and pepper, to season
choice of seasonings: garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, Lawry's, etc

Start by cutting chicken breasts into strips using a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen sheers. Set aside. Set up your dredging station by placing flour in one bowl, eggs {slightly beaten} in another and panko crumbs in the final bowl. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Add desired seasonings to the panko crumbs next, I don't always use the same seasonings. I like to change it up.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add more as needed when cooking. Start by dipping chicken pieces in flour first and shake off excess, then dip in eggs and finally, the panko crumbs. Add prepared chicken strips to the heated skillet. Let cook in oil for a few minutes on each side, until completely cooked through.

Remove from skillet and place onto a plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm with desired sauce.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Streusel Pumpkin Bread

It's already been an exciting for week for me. After what seems like forever, well more like the past several weeks; I am officially a permanent employee for our local school district. I've accepted the position in which I've been subbing for since the end of August. I work with special needs preschoolers and let me tell you, they are so much fun! I completely felt at home right away and I'm so excited to start my career with an awesome school.

With that being said, I also made this spectacular bread a couple nights ago. We love pumpkin bread, but this streusel on top is really the moneymaker. I love the buttery, brown sugar and walnut topping. The pumpkin bread itself is full of spice and very moist.

It's really a perfect fall dessert. The loaves freeze really well so why not add a couple loaves to your freezer while you're at it?

Streusel Pumpkin Bread

1-1/2 cups pumpkin
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil {coconut or canola work well}
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1-3/4 cup flour

for topping:
4 tbsp butter, cubed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, both sugars and oil until mixed together well. Gradually add in dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour batter into a lightly greased loaf pan and set aside.

In another bowl, combine all topping ingredients and cut in butter using a pastry blender. Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Generously sprinkle over batter and pack down. You may end up with some extra topping.

Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

It's been awhile since I've shared some of my favorite links from around the web, a lot of you tell me you like reading these types of posts and I like sharing them with you. So let's sit down and chat for a bit, shall we?

milky way tart 1

My friend Yudith is quite the baker, I haven't had the privilege to try anything yet but I drool over her photos each week.  My birthday is this Saturday and I usually like to make some sort of dessert, whether it be a cake or something else to share with my family. I'm still undecided, but her milky way tart most definitely caught my eye! This will be on my list for weekend projects for sure.

halloween craft

Today's the first day of October and Halloween will be here before we know it. I love letting the kids make crafts for each of the holidays and this one caught my eye. It will be perfect for the preschool class I've been working with. Something easy for them to do on their own but really cute!


I'm pretty sure I've shared a couple posts from this particular blog before. I love just about everything Kristen writes. This recent article totally hit home as I have three girls myself. There have been times where one of the older two have come home to tell me about an incident at school that has upset them. None of them haven't been anything that they couldn't handle on their own but it's still upsetting to see your own child hurt by another classmate. Moms, I encourage you to take a few moments and read this.


I know many of us utilize our crock pots year round, but I always think of fall and winter as the perfect time to take advantage of this appliance. Check out this awesome round-up of recipes all made in the crock pot! You're bound to find some new inspiration for your weekly menus.

My friend Kelli recently wrote about her experience in using essential oils. I've been intrigued for some time now but have yet to take the plunge. I really dislike taking over the counter meds, always have. I just don't like putting medications into my body if I don't have to, does that make sense? I'm especially nervous for this coming winter season; our family has been very fortunate regarding our health. I'd like to think a large part of that has to do with the nourishing foods we eat as well as washing our hands many times throughout the day. Now that we're around many more germs than we're used to I don't want to be relying heavily on over the counter medications if we happen to get sick. So that leaves with me this question, do you use essential oils? I'm really interested in hearing about your own personal experiences, feel free to share them below!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Veggie Fried Rice

I really do enjoy using my crock pot year round, but especially during the fall and winter months. Nothing compares to warm, comfort food that has been cooking away while leaving you with minimal dishes to wash.

This dish is based off a favorite recipe I've shared before; chicken fried rice. I've been working hard to not waste any of our CSA veggies and it's hard when we're gone all day and a few nights a week I'm not home due to working a second job. The hubby is doing great preparing meals for our girls, but let's face it. He could care less about these darn vegetables, let alone know how to prepare many of them in a delicious way.

It turned out to be a great way for me to use up some broccoli, carrots and corn kernels plus it made for a nice lunch for me and the girls to take with us during the day. I love when that happens. You can easily prepare this on a weekend afternoon and then dish out small portions for the upcoming week. Stack the containers in your fridge and grab one as you're going out the door in the morning. It reheats nicely in the microwave or could be enjoyed cold.

Of course if you can't live without your meat, add some in there. Whether it's chicken, pork or beef; they all taste great. But I really do love this meatless version, I know we can all use that extra serving of veggies in our day. This is one painless way to do so!

Veggie Fried Rice

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup chopped broccoli
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
4 tbsp butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
pepper, to taste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
drizzle of honey

Add all ingredients into a crock pot that has been lightly oiled. Stir well to combine. Cover with lid and cook on low for three hours. Make sure to stir a couple times while cooking. Season with additional soy sauce if needed when ready to serve.
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