Friday, August 31, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Umm, are you ready for a little taste of perfection? Because these chocolate peanut butter balls are it. We have a family friend that used to make something a lot like these, but she would make them into bars. We would beg her every time we saw her to make her famous “scotcharoos”. {How we came up with that name, I will never know.} I could eat an entire plate of these in no time flat. {No, I haven't done that already...I have no idea what you’re talking about.}


Here's the recipe for these delightful yummies!

Ingredients:
  • 2-1/2 cups rice crispy cereal
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips {I used Toll House milk chocolate}
  • Wooden skewers


Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix rice krispies and powdered sugar together, set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt peanut butter and butter on medium heat.
  3. As soon as it becomes a uniform liquid, remove from heat and pour over rice krispy mixture, stirring until well combined.
  4. Form into 1-1/2 inch balls, place on a cookie sheet and put in refrigerator to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, put chocolate chips in the microwave {Use one bag first and see how far it gets you} and heat until melted and runny. {Be sure to keep a close eye on it and stir it every 20 seconds or so, so it doesn’t seize up.}
  6. Put each ball on a skewer and dip in the melted chocolate.
  7. Remove ball from skewer and place on wax paper.
  8. Put in the refrigerator until set and enjoy!


Just a heads up - this recipe makes a good 4-5 dozen, so be ready to eat your heart out!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dole Pineapple Whips

Fun fact about me: I am an avid Disneyland supporter. My whole family is! My first trip to Disneyland {that I can remember} was as a freshman in high school. I've gone back almost every year since, not including the year we went to Disneyworld instead. I guess that still kinda counts though. Zachary and I actually got to go to Disneyland twice this year and I absolutely loved it! Nothing will make me feel like I am 7 years old quicker, than walking through those magical gates. There's just something about that place that makes you want to skip and run and act like a child. One of my family's favorite rides there is Pirates of the Caribbean. It may not be the most "thrilling" ride in the world, but it's still so fun! It's always been my dream to eat at the restaurant inside of it someday. I might have to sell our first child to do so, but it might just be worth it! {I'm kidding.} For now, we'll just stick to eating at Pinnochio's Village Haus in Fantasyland and random vendors selling hot dogs and churros. My favorite food that I've ever had in Disneyland thus far though, would definitely have to be their Dole Pineapple Whips. They're to die for!


When I saw that Dole had posted the recipe for this on their website, I was ecstatic! It was a little different making them at home, since I don't have a soft serve ice cream maker, but they were still just as delicious!

Ingredients:

Ice cream:
  • 2 cans (20 oz. each) crushed pineapple
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped. {Here is a tutorial on how to whip whipping cream, just in case you've never done it before.}
Juice:
  • Pineapple juice {As much or little as you want}
  • Sugar, to taste

Directions:
  1. ICE CREAM: Drain crushed pineapple and reserve 2 Tbsp. Set aside.
  2. Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and reserved juice in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. {Go just a little bit longer than you think you need to. Otherwise, your resulting ice cream will be lumpy. Sick.}
  3. Pour into a gallon zipped freezer bag and store flat in freezer until it becomes a slushy consistency. {About 1-1/2 hours.}
  4. In a large bowl, gently fold pineapple mixture into whipped cream until blended.
  5. Return to freezer until completely frozen. {About 1 hour.)
  6. JUICE:  {This part really isn't anything special, but I thought I'd let you know how we did it anyway.} Add enough sugar to your pineapple juice to make it sweet enough to your liking. {We also diluted it with a tiny bit of water, but it really just depends on how it tastes to you.}
  7. Scoop ice cream into a cup and fill the rest of the way with your juice.
  8. Sit back and relax and pretend you're riding Space Mountain.

We've had this yummy drink both in Disneyland and at the Dole plantation in Hawaii and I love it. I'm so glad I found this recipe, so I can enjoy them any day I want now!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jim 'N Nick's Cheesy Biscuits

Have any of you ever been to Jim 'N Nick's BBQ? I wish it was a nationwide food chain, but sadly, it's not. Boo. We lived in Alabama for a little bit last year {Yes, this is the third place you've heard me talk about us living. Not including where we are currently at. Four moves in a year and half and we're not dead yet!} and we were there just long enough to get absolutely hooked on Jim 'N Nick's. It's no wonder Alabama is considered one of the most obese state in the nation. {No offense y'all.} They have some of the greatest barbecue I've ever had! I can't even tell you how many nights/weekends/holidays we spent at this fantastic restaurant. It was our go-to place for our night out with friends and our restaurant of choice for date night. Like a lot of BBQ restaurants, one of the best parts was their complimentary appetizer - cheesy biscuits. I've seriously dreamed about these since leaving Alabama. This is what led me to try recreating them myself!


I actually tried a couple different recipes out before deciding to share this one with you. The original Jim 'N Nick's biscuits have kind of a sweet taste to them. The first recipe I tried called for an entire cup of sugar and ended up tasting more like a dessert than this cheesy goodness. There was no way I was going to tarnish the Jim 'N Nick's name and share that garbage with you! The recipe that follows may not taste exactly like the originals {because let's be honest, something that heavenly is probably impossible to recreate}, but it sure comes pretty dang close. {I found this recipe at Plain Chicken.}

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a muffin tin.
  2. Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl, until smooth. {Batter will be somewhat runny.}
  3. Fill each section of your muffin tin until about 2/3 of the way full.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden. {Use a toothpick to check center.}
  5. Makes about 8-10 muffins.

These do a pretty dang good job at representing the real thing, if I do say so myself. They'll have to hold me over until the next time I can get to a Jim 'N Nicks. Let's pray it's sooner than later! Enjoy.

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shabby Apple Giveaway {Ended}

Hey friends! Here's a question for the day: have you ever heard of Shabby Apple? Yes, no, maybe? I've known about them forever it feels like and they're actually a lot more popular than I ever realized. I've seen them all over the cyber-web! Whether you have or haven't heard of them though, I'm here to tell you that they are one of the cutest, online fashion stores that I have ever seen! Seriously. That's not an exaggeration. I lust over their clothes frequently. In fact, here are a couple of my current favorites:

Race Point Skirt - I love just about anything with stripes in it. 
I also love high-waisted skirts. No wonder this one is a favorite!

Mariposa Grove - Mmm, this dress makes me swoon!
It's simple, but could easily be played up to be fancy.
Would look cute with a belt too!

Palantine Hill - I need to own this dress. Right now. 
It seems comfy, but also elegant enough for some of the parties we attend.
 Love it!

Desert Dune - I know swim suit season is quickly leaving, but that is all the
more reason to buy this swim suit to stock up for next summer!
I love all the ruching on it. Definite must for me!

See! It's all so cute! I don't want to say "I told you so" but...I told you so. These are just the tip of the iceberg too. They also have jewelry, accessories, maternity clothes, blouses, etc. Waking up this morning, I'll bet you had no idea just how lucky you might get today. I'm excited to announce that I'm teaming up with Shabby Apple to give one of you lucky readers a $50 gift card that is good towards anything in their store. Anything!! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter below. This giveaway will end on 9/4/12 at 12:01 EST. (You must be a U.S. resident to enter.)

Even if you don't win, do not fret my friends. For an entire month from today, you will receive 10% off of any order from Shabby Apple. All you need to do is use this coupon code: highheels10off. I really hope you take advantage of this offer!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

-Sarah

Monday, August 27, 2012

Man Mondays: Root Beer Chicken

Welcome to another Man Monday.

All of my family/friends know that I'm a little crazy for root beer. I have tried and reviewed over 40 different varieties of the stuff! I got to thinking... a lot of people use soda to marinate their meats, so why not use root beer? Well, I looked it up and found out I wasn't necessarily Christopher Columbus in my exploration of the idea; however, I wanted to try my own recipe. So here it goes.


Ingredients:
  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of your favorite root beer (or the cheapest stuff, whatever)
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of hot sauce (if the hot sauce is super strong/hot, use a little less)
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

Directions(This is the best part because of how easy it is):
  1. Mix everything (except chicken) together in a large bowl to make a marinade and let sit while you get the chicken ready.
  2. Cut your chicken breasts into strips and add to the marinade.
  3. Stick your bowl in the fridge and let your chicken bathe in the marinade for AT LEAST 4 hours, preferably over night.
  4. Grill 'em!  It doesn't take too long to grill the chicken strips... if your grill is nice and hot, probably only 5-7 minutes or so.
I'll be completely honest...though I'm a grown man, I have a grown-up job, I have a super hot wife, and I hope to own a lightsaber one day, I also have insecurities about sharing a new recipe with others. Think about it - it's nerve racking to try your hardest to make something awesome and present it to a crowd of people! You may as well say, "this is the best I can do, if you hate it, then I guess I suck at life..." Well, we tried this recipe on some guinea pig friends last night. Now, I have some pretty cool friends, and yes they could have just been telling me what I wanted to hear, but every last piece of chicken was devoured. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking, but this one is a new hit in our house. Enjoy!

-Zach

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Restaurant Style Salsa

We have an ongoing battle here in our household. A battle of which salsa flavor is better - the sweeter, tomatoey kind, or the zingier, onioney kind? Zachary prefers the former and I prefer the latter. For once though, we were actually able to agree on one that felt like it served both of our needs. Behold the goodness:


I made this salsa last year and I have to be completely honest - it absolutely tanked. It was the first time I'd ever made salsa of any kind and let's just say that there is an entire batch of it, sitting in some landfill right now. I thought I'd give it another go though, because I knew it had a lot of potential and this time I was much more satisfied. So satisfied that this may be the only salsa I'll be able to eat for the rest of my life because it spoils me so much. The flavors are incredible! (This recipe was adapted from The Pioneer Woman.)

Ingredients:
  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cans (10 oz) diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 whole jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, or to taste
  • 1/2 whole lime juice

Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in an 8+ cup food processor until desired consistency. (I like mine smooth, so I give it a nice and steady grinding until it's practically pureed. You can do it more or less, depending on how you like it.)
  2. Taste test with a tortilla chip and adjust seasonings to liking.
  3. Salsa is best served after letting sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

I could live off of chips and salsa if you'd let me and this recipe is definitely one that I would never get sick of. Enjoy!

-Sarah

Linking up here.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Garlic Cheesesticks

My very first job that I ever had was as a lifeguard at a community college in my hometown. I did it for two summers and was just about to move into doing it during the school year when I got into a bad car accident and broke my collar bone. For some reason, my boss didn't like the idea of having a lifeguard with a broken collar bone...weird, I know. He told me that I could come back when I was healed up, but I decided to start working with my best friend instead - at a pizza place. I actually loved working there. Who knew that tossing and flipping dough could be so much fun?? The best food in that place was hands down their garlic cheesesticks. Although I'm sure mine don't taste near as good as theirs did, I still thoroughly enjoy them!


This recipe isn't anything fancy. It's just plain and simple, but it definitely gets the job done. We used the same dough that we made for our Margherita Pizza. Heck, maybe you should just have a meal out of this and make both things! (This recipe will make one large thing of cheesesticks or two small ones.)

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup hot water (as hot as you can run it from the tap, but NOT BOILING or you will kill the yeast.)
  • 3/4 tsp. dry active yeast
  • 1-1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose is fine)
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Dry basil (optional)

Directions:
  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit for five minutes until yeast blooms.
  2. Add the olive oil, sugar, and salt to the yeast and stir.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure out flour and add yeast mixture to it, stirring until well combined. (At this point, the dough may seem sticky, but don't worry, this is exactly how it's supposed to be.)
  4. Spray a separate bowl with cooking spray and place dough in it.
  5. Cover dough and let sit for about an hour, until doubled in size.
  6. After dough is done rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Roll out dough until about 1/2 inch thick. (More or less, depending on how you like it.)
  8. Combine butter and garlic and with a pastry brush, spread mixture generously over pizza dough.
  9. Cover with cheese and basil and let cook for 9-12 minutes.
  10. Cut into slices with pizza cutter and enjoy!
Hope you like them!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pecan Balls

I lived in Texas for a few years growing up and we had these huge pecan trees just down the road from us. I remember walking to them with my little brother and sister and we would pick up pecans off the ground for hours. We felt so proud taking home our spoils. Then one day during recess, I noticed there was a tree at the edge of the playground that looked just like those pecan trees that my brother and sister and I would hang around. My friends and I decided that it would be our job to clean up the fallen pecans around it. We brought nutcrackers to school everyday for weeks and would sit under that tree and eat pecans until we were sick. That's when my love for pecans was born. When I saw the recipe for these pecan balls, I knew I had to try them immediately! So, I did.


I'll be the first to admit that I am kind of a sugar addict, but I love that these cookies actually aren't as sweet as normal cookies. They're a little more subtle, but still sweet enough to curb your sugar craving. I took them to a church gathering the other night and they were gone in minutes! I'm sure it'll be the same way at your house. (This recipe was adapted from Key Ingredient.)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups ground pecans 
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla and mix well.
  4. Incorporate flour and pecans into mixture. (Batter will seem separated and crumbly. This is perfect.)
  5. Form into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  7. Let cool and roll in powdered sugar just before serving. (If you don't let them cool, then the powdered sugar will get all melty and gross - just a heads up.)

Easy enough, right? If you don't like pecans, feels free to try other nuts instead. Or leave them out all together! I hope you love these little beauties just as much as we do! 

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crockpot Mac N' Cheese

Is there anything more homey than macaroni and cheese? I don't think I know a single person that hasn't tasted it at least once in their life - especially the Kraft mac n' cheese. I remember threading the noodles onto each prong of my fork and eating it triumphantly. It sure took a long time to get through my bowl, but boy was it fun!


This recipe may not be as quick as Kraft mac n' cheese, but it's still just as easy! It has become a family favorite here at our house and we love making it any chance we get. (Recipe adapted from A Whisk and A Prayer.)

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni 
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
  1. Grease the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Combine milk, evaporated milk, butter, eggs, and salt in crockpot and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the Italian cheese and macaroni and sprinkle with pepper to taste - stir gently to coat evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
  5. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to low and cook for 1.5-2 hours, until center does not jiggle and pasta is tender.
  7. Place this cheesy goodness in a bowl and eat like you've never eaten before.

Be sure not to overcook it because it dries out quickly. It may taking making it a time or two, just to get familiar with it, until you know what you like best. Hope you like it!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sugar Cookie Bars

We had a bridal shower for a good friend last month and among all of the delicious food, these sugar cookie bars were the dessert of choice. I'm pretty sure I ate three of them in one sitting. Don't judge.


I've seen the recipe for these in a few different places and all of them say the same thing: "If you want the taste of sugar cookies without having to go through the work and mess of rolling them out, then this is the perfect recipe for you!" I kind of thought they were exaggerating a little bit because let's be real - we roll out sugar cookies because it's fun and it's an adventure, not because it's a pain in the rear. Then I got making these and realized that all of those people were actually right. I was completely done in no time and I wasn't a slave to the kitchen, having to roll, cut, frost, and repeat. It was the perfect dessert! (I found this recipe at Cooking Classy)

Ingredients:

Cookies:
  • 2-1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Several drops of food coloring (optional)

Directions:
  1. COOKIES: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (The longer you beat it, the fluffier your cookies will be.)
  4. Add egg and combine well.
  5. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until completely blended.
  6. Slowly add the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  7. Gently press the batter into the greased baking dish and spread out with hands. (If you butter your hands, this will help with the stickiness.)
  8. Bake 17-20 minutes, or until edges become lightly golden.
  9. Set aside to cool completely.
  10. FROSTING: In a medium bowl, cream together butter, powdered sugar, and half and half until light and fluffy.
  11. Stir in vanilla and salt, combine well.
  12. Add food coloring until desired color.
  13. Frost your cooled cookie bars evenly.
  14. Cut into squares and serve.  

I have to warn you - these are kind of addicting. Like, scary addicting. But, they honestly might just be worth the few extra pounds. Enjoy!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Man Mondays: Grilled Pineapple

I know, I know, most of you are probably saying to yourselves, "Grilled pineapple, eh? Wouldn't I just cut up a pineapple and put it on a grill? Why do I need a recipe?" Well, I'll tell you Mr. (Mrs.) smart-alec. There is a delicate method of making a man-licious pineapple. Sure, go ahead and do it your way, but unless you give it some thought (like I did FOR you), it will only turn out good. This turned out GREAT!


Now, for story time: Have you ever been to a Brazilian Steakhouse? I have. On nearly every special occasion that we can rationalize, Sarah and I love going to these paradises of meat. After a session of cave-man style meat-eating glory, the best thing to wash it all down with is a sweet, juicy, caramelized piece of pineapple.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • eency, teency, tiny pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons water

(See, I told you this wasn't just a piece of pineapple on a grill.)

Directions
  1. To clean the pineapple, cut the leafy head off the pineapple (if you really want, give a war-cry right here to feel extra manly as you see the head of the pineapple roll off the counter). Cut the bottom off (the butt?) and lastly, cut off the outside layer.
  2. I prefer cutting the pineapple into flat slices about 3/4" thick. This helps you get even grill marks across the whole piece. If you have jagged pieces, you will have little chard bits, while the rest of the fruit isn't quite cooked (at least I did, the first time around). Put pineapple aside.
  3. Combine all the other ingredients into a bowl and stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Put this mixture in a sauté pan and cook on medium-low heat just until the mixture starts to bubble a little. At this point, it's done. If you cook too much, it will turn into rock-hard delicious candy and will be impossible to apply to the pineapple...though it may be good to nibble on afterwards.
  4. Apply your juicy-goodness-sauce to the pineapple slices. Make sure your grill is nice and hot, and place the pieces on the grill. As the pineapple cooks, add more of the sauce - kind of like a progressive basting process.

The result is a juicy, caramelized niblet of heaven with a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon. You will look so awesome, smart, and handsome as you serve this to your friends over Labor Day. Promise.

-Zach

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Southwestern Ranch Dressing

Just as promised, here is my favorite Southwestern Dressing to go with yesterday's Southwestern Salad! This is a Southwestern Ranch Dressing to be exact and it's absolutely divine!


My husband and I are on calorie watch, so we made sure to use low fat mayo and low fat sour cream. I'd never made any kind of dressing before, so I was super nervous as to how it would turn out and if the low fat stuff would ruin the consistency. It actually surprised us both and ended up being way better than we were expecting! (The original recipe I used can be found here.)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (can be lowfat)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk - more or less, depending on how thick you like it
  • 2 Tbsp. tomatoes, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. jalapenos, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours before serving.

You almost have to let the dressing marinade and soak in all of the spices or else it's just going to taste like a big, fat glob of mayo. Been there, done that. Good luck and I'd love to know how you like it!

-Sarah

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Southwestern Salad

I've been on kind of a salad kick lately. (That's if you define a salad kick as eating a salad occasionally and loving it, because let's be honest - you can only eat so much salad before all you want is a big slab of meat to stuff your face with.) Anyway, I've been trying to eat salads more often, especially when I go out to eat. At almost every restaurant though, I find myself being pulled towards the Southwestern type salads. They're just too dang good to resist! So, as we were having friends over for dinner the other night, I thought, "Why not try to recreate a Southwestern salad myself?" And that's exactly what I did.


The best thing about salads is there is no cooking or actual work involved really. You just throw everything in a bowl and tadah! Your meal is served. The thing I like most about this particular salad is that the beans provide some protein, so it actually does a pretty good job at filling you up. I love meals like that - healthy and substantial!

Ingredients:
  • 2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped - more or less depending on how lettucey (yes, that's a word) you want it to be.
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Southwestern seasoned tortilla strips (or the original kind is fine, but I strongly recommend the Southwestern kind)

Directions:
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the tortilla strips in a bowl and mix together well.
  2. Add the tortilla strips either just before you serve the salad or to each individual serving, so they don't get soggy and gross.

You can top it all off with your favorite kind of dressing, OR stay tuned tomorrow for my favorite Southwestern dressing. It complements this salad perfectly, so you won't want to miss it! Enjoy.

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Poppers

Aren't jalapenos just the best?? I know so many people that hear the word 'jalapeno' and immediately think 'hot', 'teary eyes', 'mouth on fire', etc. Yes, I know that jalapenos have some heat, but they're really not as bad as you would expect. Especially when paired with cream cheese. It cools off the spiciness perfectly, which was just the case with these little babies:


These are easy to whip up in no time and they're a definite crowd pleaser. There are only three ingredients and would make the best appetizer to bring to a guest's house, to a super bowl party, or (if you're like me) to just eat at home, all by yourself. (This recipe was found at My Homemade Life.)

Ingredients:
  • 1 (8oz.) block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup minced jalapenos (or 1/2 can, drained, if that's easier for ya)
  • 1 tube of regular crescent rolls

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a cookie sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and jalapenos - mix well and set aside.
  3. Open your crescent rolls (do not separate them) and lay them on the counter. (After you've sanitized it of course.)
  4. Separate long ways on the perforation, so you have two long sheets of crescent rolls with 4 rolls each in them.
  5. Pinch the remaining perforations together on each of the two sheets (use a rolling pin if necessary) to make two continuous crescent roll sheets.
  6. Divide the cream cheese mixture and spread evenly over both crescent sheets.
  7. Roll them up hot dog style (or from the short end), to make a long cream cheese/crescent roll - do this for both crescents
  8. Cut each cream cheese/crescent roll into 12-16 pieces, depending on how big you want your resulting poppers to be.
  9. Place each one, standing up, on your cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 11-13 minutes.
  10. Enjoy the creamy goodness.

In my opinion, the jalapenos give it just the right amount of kick to make it interesting. You can add more or less jalapenos or cream cheese to better suit your heat tolerance. I hope you love them!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Italian Crockpot Chicken

My soccer coach from high school had Zachary and I over for dinner when we were in town visiting last year and she whipped up this Italian Crockpot Chicken for us. We ranted and raved about how good it was and that we needed the recipe for it ASAP. She humbly told us it was no big deal and that it was the easiest dinner ever. While she was right - it is very easy - it's amazing to me how much flavor is packed into it! 


I'm pretty sure we ate this every day for a week at one point. I have to be completely honest and tell ya that I got a tiny bit sick of it because we were having it so much. We had it for dinner this last week though, and I fell in love with it all over again - love it!

Ingredients:
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 Italian dressing seasoning packet 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Enough rice to feed whoever is eating.

Directions:
  1. Place chicken in a crockpot and season evenly with Italian dressing.
  2. Add the water and let cook on low for at least four hours.
  3. When chicken is cooked all the way through, shred with a fork or in a mixer - just something to get it shredded.
  4. Place back in crockpot and add cream cheese, chicken soup, and water.
  5. Mix thoroughly and let sit for another 30 minutes.
  6. Serve over rice.

This saves as really good leftovers too! I can't even count the number of times Zachary has taken it to work the next day. It makes things so convenient!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Triple Chocolate Brownies

I'm not much of a brownie fan, so when my Sunday School kids requested brownies for their reverence award, I was kind of bummed that I wouldn't get to enjoy it with them. As I got baking though, I decided to mix things up a bit - and that's when the triple chocolate brownie was born.


I can't stand the thought of making something for someone and not trying it myself. I mean, what if I just delivered the most disgusting food on the planet and I had no idea? That's why I'm a firm believer in trying everything you make - even if it's not your favorite thing in the world. So, with me being a non-brownie-lover, I still had to try these before I took them to my kids and I will admit that these brownies actually tasted pretty dang good. They are so unbelievably moist and I'm not talking the cakey kind of moist - I'm talking the ooey gooey brownie kind of moist that makes you keep going back for more. I'd bet money that this will forever be your go-to brownie recipe. (Recipe from the I Do Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cups cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease bottom only of a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt - set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. 
  4. Gradually stir the flour mixture into creamed mixture.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Spread in prepared pan and bake 28-30 minutes or until cracks begin to form.
  7. Cut into squares and devour ravenously.

I hope you like them just as much as I surprisingly did!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Man Mondays: Mini Philly Cheesesteaks

I've always loved philly cheesesteaks. When I first started college, like a billion years ago, I worked at a sunglasses place in the mall. Feeling rich (after all, I did have a big-time job), I ate in the food court nearly every single day. On the really busy days, I couldn't get too far from my kiosk. The closest food joint? Charley's. Thus, my love for philly cheesesteaks was born.

Now, being older, wiser, and more handsome, I've resorted to making sandwiches myself. This recipe, I completely put together with my very own brain cells, and let's be honest - I had low expectations in the event it completely bombed. Let's just say I was blown away with how awesome it turned out. Additionally, it's so dang easy!


The title of the post is "mini philly cheese steaks" due to some editing by my lovely wife. However, the original title was Philly Cheese Steak Sandwichlets. I guess she figured too many people would be confused by the title... weird... as everyone knows, you simple add "-let" to the end of any noun, and you now have a smaller version of said noun. Examples:  babelet (little baby), niblet (a little piece of something), Hamlet (a little ham...), etc. So I introduce to you Philly Cheese Steak Sandwichlets!

Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 white onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 lb thinly sliced roast beef 
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • mushroom slices (however many and whatever variety you like)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. oil
  • 6 french hard-rolls, cut in half
  • 6 provolone cheese slices

Directions:
  1. Melt the butter in a skillet on medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper - let the veggies simmer in the butter while you work on the meat, stirring occasionally.
  2. If you went to the deli and got super-thin slices of beef, then cut this step out. If you are like me and buy the cheapest stuff, you will probably need to pound the meat into oblivion. (Seriously though, the secret to an awesome philly is super thin beef.) Pound away until meat is about 1/8 inch thick.
  3. Season your beef simply with salt and pepper.If you insist on seasoning it with something more, try a little allspice, it gives it a really nice flavor when all is said and done.
  4. Add the mushrooms to the veggie skillet when the onions and peppers are getting soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover the bottom of another skillet with your oil and get it nice and hot. Put a couple of the meat slices in the pan. Since the meat is so thin, only cook for about 30 seconds on each side, that's all it takes, I promise. If you cook it any more, you'll have tough meat and unhappy sandwichlets.
  6. Assemble your cheese-steaks by adding the hot meat to your french rolls, putting the provolone slices right on top of the meat, and the hot veggies on top of that. This will make for a juicy, melty, happy sandwichlet.

Please enjoy your niblet of heaven (see what I did there?). And share this post with anyone and everyone, or Man Mondays will continue to be the least viewed posts on this blog *Zach struggles to hold back tears*. Enjoy!

-Zach

Linking up here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chipotle Bean Burritos

Before we get into things, I should probably warn you that this is not the recipe for the burritos from the Chipotle restaurant. It may look like I was trying to be deceitful, but how else do you title a bean burrito with chipotle seasoning in it?! I hope this doesn't deter you from staying though, because seriously, this recipe is incredible.


Zachary is a chipotle fanatic, so as I was browsing Pinterest last year (of course) and saw this, I knew he would love it! It turns out that I love it even more than he does! (Recipe from Cooking Light.)

Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, mined
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
  • 3 Tbsp. salsa
  • 6-8 flour tortillas (Or for the calorie-conscious folks, use lettuce leaves and make them into lettuce wraps - one of our personal favs.)
  • Optional toppings: cheese, tomato, lettuce, green onions, sour cream (and anything else you might like on your burrito)

Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and cook one minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Stir in chile powder and salt - cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in water and beans - bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in salsa.
  7. Partially mash beans with a fork.
  8. Warm tortillas according to package directions.
  9. Spoon bean mixture into the center of each tortilla and top with your favorite toppings - roll up and enjoy.

I like making this for guests because 1 - it's delicious and 2 - it satisfies those who might even be vegetarian. That's a win-win situation in my book!

-Sarah

Linking up here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Maple Syrup

My dad makes his own maple syrup all the time and when I was younger, I was convinced that he must be a cooking genius to be able to make syrup from scratch. He still may be a really good cook, but it turns out that maple syrup really isn't that hard to make.


I love pouring it over some nice, hot pancakes and topping it off with some cool whip. Best. Breakfast. Ever.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 tsp. maple extract

Directions:
  1. Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil - For thinner syrup, remove immediately. For thicker syrup, let boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and add maple extract.
  3. Stir until well combined.

Syrup is definitely my favorite out of the four main food groups. ;) (Elf anyone?) Enjoy!

-Sarah

*Note - this is not real Maple Syrup. Just a cost efficient alternative.*

Linking up with these lovely blogs: Tater Tots and JelloFamily Ever AfterToo Much Time On My HandsBe Different Act NormalFunky Junk InteriorsYoung and CraftyClassy ClutterSerenity YouPolkadot PrettiesLovely Crafty HomeGingerbread and Here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cole Slaw

You know all of those end-of-the-summer barbecues you're going to be attending before school starts? Well, I have the perfect (and easiest!) side dish for you to bring along! I went over to my friend, Brooklyn's house the other day to do some crafts and hang out when she pulled out a bowl of cole slaw. After scarfing it down in minutes, I knew I had to have the recipe for it immediately!


I've always been a cabbage lover. When my little sister would be picking it out of her salad during dinner, I'd gladly be asking for more. This combination makes it even more yummy!

Ingredients:
  • 8-10 cups of finely shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Definitely NOT miracle whip. That's an abomination.)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. onion salt

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix cabbage and carrots.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour wet mixture over the cabbage and combine well.

Brooklyn told me (and I agree) that it tastes a lot better after it has been sitting in the refrigerator for a day or so. It gives it some time for the cabbage to soak up all the delicious juices. Either way though, it still tastes fantastic!

-Sarah

Linking up here:  Kitchen Fun With My 3 SonsNot Your Ordinary RecipesSimply Sweet HomeSimply DesigningIt's a Hodgepodge LifeThirty Handmade DaysWhipperberryAt the Picket FenceDelicate ConstructionStuff and NonsenseHappy Hour ProjectsFrench Country CottageMy Romantic HomeJust Winging It, Foy UpdateTater Tots and JelloFamily Ever AfterToo Much Time On My HandsBe Different Act NormalFunky Junk InteriorsYoung and CraftyClassy ClutterSerenity YouPolkadot PrettiesLovely Crafty HomeKB and WhitesnakesGingerbread and Here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Funny story: My grandma loved Red Velvet cake. Like love, love, loved it. So one year, when she requested it for her birthday, my dad soon found that Wal-Mart was clean out of the mix for it. (And since Wal-Mart was basically the only shopping center around, that was very bad news.) He got a little creative and bought a white cake mix and dyed it red, thinking he could fool her. One bite and she proclaimed, "Oh my goodness, this is the best Red Velvet cake I've ever had!" We seriously all just about died laughing! It's kind of an inside family joke now - the time that Dad lied to Grandma on her birthday. She has passed away since and I don't think we ever did tell her it was a fake.


Don't worry though, this recipe is definitely not a fake. It is the best Red Velvet that I really have ever had! Of course, I don't know how anybody could not love a Paula Deen recipe.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. cocoa powder

For the frosting:
  • 2 - 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
  1. CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine well until smooth.
  5. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers and fill each one about 2/3 full with batter.
  6. Bake in oven for 18-20 minutes - test with a toothpick for doneness.
  7. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
  8. FROSTING: Mix cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth.
  9. Add the powdered sugar in small increments, on low speed and beat until incorporated - increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy.
  10. Frost cupcakes with a knife of pastry bag.

Sometimes when I bake cupcakes, I pretend I'm on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. You should try it. It's more exhilarating than you'd think!

-Sarah

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Frozen Coconut Limeade

I don't know about you guys, but it's been warm around these parts lately. We had kind of a cold spell last week, where I had to put a jacket on to take our puppy for a walk, and then all of a sudden, I now feel like I'm dying in shorts and a t-shirt! I can't think of a better way to cool off AND to send out the summer (can you believe it's already the middle of August??) than with a nice, cold glass of frozen coconut limeade.


I really can't complain too much about the heat because we spent last year in Del Rio, TX where it was well over 100 degrees for the majority of the summer. That's actually when we discovered this glorious drink. I think we ate at least an entire batch of it every day, sometimes two! Thank you Amy, for sharing this recipe with us!

Ingredients:
  • 5-1/2 cups ice
  • 5/8 cup Coco Lopez cream of coconut (can be found in most grocery stores near the mixed drinks section)
  • 4-5 Tbsp. frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1/8 cup water

Directions:
  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

That's easy enough right? So easy, that you should try it with other concentrates like lemonade or strawberry! Yum!

-Sarah

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Homemade Chips and Guacamole

My favorite part about eating out is most definitely the appetizers. I always fill up on them before I even get my meal, forcing me to have to get a box and take my main course home. Either that or I end up stuffing my face with the both of them anyway and gaining five pounds in one sitting. Whatever, no big deal. I am a die-hard chips and guacamole fan though and have come up with the perfect recipe for homemade guac!


I also had no idea how easy tortilla chips were to make, so I whipped some of those up along with it. I think they actually taste better than the store bought ones. You'll have to let me know what you think!

Tortilla Chips

Ingredients:
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit.
  2. With a pastry brush, lightly brush one side of all the tortillas.
  3. Sprinkle salt to taste. (Or if you want to shake things up a bit, use this seasoning. If I could go back, I would've bought ten bottles of it when we lived in Texas. Love it!)
  4. Use a pizza cutter and cut each tortilla into six equal parts.
  5. Place tortilla slices on a cookie sheet, oil side up, and bake for 10-13 minutes, or until crisp.

Guacamole

Ingredients:
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa
  • 1-1/3 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/3 tsp. salt, or to taste. (I'm a salt lover, so you may not need to add salt at all. Just try it and add according to what you see fit.)

Directions:
  1. Pit and scoop avocados into a small bowl - mash with a fork until well blended.
  2. Add salsa, taco seasoning, and salt - mix well.
  3. Serve with your freshly made chips!
Enjoy!

-Sarah

Note: Today is the last day to enter our giveaway!! You don't want to pass up the chance for FREE dinner!

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