Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles

Soft, chewy and full of cinnamon goodness, these cookies are perfect for Christmas!


Gingerbread is one of those quintessential Christmas sweet treats. This one is flavorful and a cinch to bake up.

No-Fail Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

This recipe makes great cut-out sugar cookies, and the royal icing is perfect for decorating.

Eggnog Cookies

Soft and cakey cookies with the perfect amount of nutmeg and all the flavor of eggnog.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

This recipe is sinfully simple, full of the flavor of Nutella and can be prepared in the microwave (or on the stovetop) in minutes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!

Warning: this post contains no chicken. I am a winner though!

About a month ago a group of bloggers including Kristen Duke did a huge giveaway where each blogger purchased and gave away a bunch of their favorite things for summer. I was lucky enough to win Kristen's goodies, and boy was I excited! Luck is never something I've thought I had much of, but I've won a few things here and there lately. Truth be told, I've probably won more lately than I have in my combined 32 years. Nothing major, no cars or anything, but I'm still hopeful that I'll win the lottery one day, or at the very least a brand spanking new Corvette ZR1, well, a Z06 would work too!

Okay, I feel myself getting a bit off track. You're probably wondering about the goodies right? Kristen has some really cool summer favorites, let me tell ya. My favorite would probably be the set of colorful silicone spatulas because I'm a baking nerd like that. Seriously, I can't explain why but I love spatulas. Of course they're a handy tool for baking, but beyond that I just love them for some strange reason. If I see a display of kitchen tools and spatulas are included I make a beeline and am always tempted to buy one or two, no matter that I don't need them. And, I'm totally beach or pool ready thanks to the huge fluffy Nate Berkus beach towel, the cute hot pink sunglasses and the bright orange nail polish. That nail polish is great for a summer pedicure, and bright orange is one of my favorite colors for summer.

Kristen is a pretty awesome photographer and included some little booklets with photography tips, which I surely need! I don't have a fancy camera, but I'm hoping those little books will give me some help too. If you've visited much you know my photos need some work. As you can see in the photo there are tons of other little goodies. Here is the full list of everything that was included, she has even provided prices for each item and a link so you can purchase them yourself. Oh, and I can't forget, another of my absolute favorites was a pack of purple gel pens. I'm something of a pen and marker hoarder anyway, and I love fun colored ink, but those gel pens are a must. I've used them for years, no matter the color.

Check back soon, and find out what Cabot filled my fridge full of! Lots of another item I love.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Perfectly Moist Streusel Topped Banana Muffins

I love muffins. I'll eat them for breakfast, lunch or even a snack anytime of the day. Maybe it's the fact that they are basically a less sweet cupcake without the frosting and usually with fruit added in. No matter the reason I love them. I could use the same recipe to make muffins and a loaf of sweet bread and I'd go for the muffins over a slice of the bread anytime. Please don't ask me to explain that one because there really is no good reason, it's all about the delivery I guess.

Recently I scored a bag of bananas at the grocery for some crazy cheap price like $1.25 for 3 lbs, how could I pass that up? I expected them all to be nearly rotten, which was fine since I wanted to freeze some and bake with the rest, but most were still in good shape, just no longer in bunches. I have a really great go-to banana bread recipe I've taken to calling Bodacious Banana Bread because it truly is. The plan was to make that recipe into muffin form and top it with streusel, but while searching for the recipe I came around a banana muffin recipe I printed from allrecipes.com a long time ago and never tried. It sounded super easy and I had made some notations of reviewers modifications so I was curious. So glad I went with the experiment recipe because these muffins are amazing! They have a great banana flavor, a perfectly moist crumb and the stresel is just the icing on the cake so to speak.

These muffins come together quickly and you don't have tons to clean up, so if you're a morning person unlike me these would be a cinch to whip up for a Saturday morning breakfast, or even during the week if you're not totally pressed for time. The original recipe called for softened butter, but the review I read was from a baker who flubbed and used vegetable oil once and thought they came out even better. Of course I think butter is a heavenly creation, but when baking I like to use shortening or oil where I can simply because the result is often a baked good that stays moist or softer longer. When it comes to the streusel, make sure that your butter is good and soft before you start. Since I was making just enough to top the muffins I started mixing up the ingredients in a small bowl which didn't leave much room for using a fork or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the other ingredients so I ended up just mixing and smushing with my fingers. It got a little messy, but worked fine. I tend to be messy in the kitchen anyway, so I hardly noticed. Ovens vary, mine is a gas convection oven that's only a few years old so it's pretty accurate and even, but keep in mind when baking that it's best to start checking your goodies a few minutes before the bake time provided in the recipe. And, unless your oven is convection it's best to bake on the middle rack and rotate your pans halfway through when possible.

Streusel Topped Banana Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable/canola oil*
  • streusel topping (see recipe below)

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat muffin tins with non-stick spray or use paper liners.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, sugar, beaten egg and oil. Add flour mixture, and beat until smooth. Scoop into muffin tins. (A regular size ice cream scoop works perfect.)
  4. Top with streusel and bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and standard size muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. (When muffins are done they will spring back when lightly touched.)
  5. Allow to cool 5 minutes in tins then remove to cooling rack.
  6. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Streusel Topping


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cooking Directions

  1. Using a fork, pastry cutter or your fingers (which I find works best for me) combine all ingredients.
  2. When completely incorporated and mixture resembles crumbs, sprinkle over top of muffins before baking.
  3. (If using this streusel for a different muffin or quickbread recipe, use caution that you don't add too much, which could cause the muffins/loaves to collapse.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Celebrating With Chocolate Pound Cake

Friday was Mr. Picky's birthday. My Daddy turned 60 years old, and that sounds just crazy to me. Not that 60 is old, but looking back at my grandparents when they were that age, they just seemed so much older than my Daddy does. I come from good genes and a family that ages amazingly well, I can only hope that I age half as well as my Daddy and the rest of my family members have.

I suppose part of what made my grandparents seem so much older at 60 than my Daddy seems is that although graying my dad still has much of his natural hair color. But, beyond that, generation has a lot to do with it. My Daddy comes from the era of the hippie, so naturally his generation, for the most part, is a more relaxed and liberal generation than that of his parents. Maybe I'm way off base, but that's where I feel much of that comes from. Regardless of any of that, my Daddy is an amazing father and mother and truly the one person in my life who has always been there and supported me through the good and bad. He's the one person that without question will always be there and sacrifice for me. Sure, I've got other family that supports me and is there for me, and I've got a few close friends I know have my back and truly care about me, but he's my person, my real, true, always and forever best friend. We're a team. Even when I was a little girl, when it came to big life decisions for our little family of two my thoughts and opinions always mattered.

I know, I know, enough with the sappy stuff right? For the most part Friday was just another day, one Mr. Picky didn't even realize was any different from the last until he went to write the date out, then he realized he was another year older. It was no leisurely day of relaxation or fun filled activities for him. Nope, my poor Daddy was off building stuff, and although that sounds fun to lots of people out there, when it's your living it often feels more like, well, work. So, while he was off swinging a hammer and wielding a nail gun I was home marinating steaks and baking a birthday cake.

Mr. Picky is a man of simple tastes, and as much as it baffles my mind, he doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. I know, crazy right? Me, who can eat frosting by the spoonful, and will pick sweet over savory 99% of the time, I just can't imagine not wanting a cake filled with gobs of frosting for your birthday. I am so my father's child with many, many things, like for instance, I've got my daddy's tongue and temper. The sweet tooth though, I'm not sure where that came from, definitely not him. He would be fine without a birthday cake, but since that's completely unacceptable to me his cake of choice is a chocolate pound cake. I've been making the same cake for his birthday for about 8 years now. Sometimes I top it with chocolate ganache, which is how I love it. Mr. Picky prefers it plain. Not only does he find this cake to be acceptable, if he was going to love a cake, this would be the one. I remember once he tasted someone else's chocolate pound cake and told me it was good, but mine was better. That sounds like a minor thing, but trust me when I say that coming from him that's pretty much the equivalent of "Your pound cake is the best ever."

This isn't one of those super rich and fudgy cakes, but if you like chocolate and are a fan of pound cakes like we are then you should definitely give this cake a try. I've found that every time I bake this cake it spills over the sides of the pan a bit as it's baking, so this time I put a bit of the batter into a 6 inch layer cake pan, and it worked out perfectly. If you don't have a layer pan that small 4-6 standard size cupcakes should work also. My bundt pan is pretty vintage, so it's a standard-ish size, but if yours is a bit larger than normal you might not have any overflow, just keep an eye out while it bakes. And make sure that you grease and flour your pan very well, don't shortcut it and use cooking spray. One thing I always do when baking any kind of chocolate cake is to "flour" my pans with cocoa instead of flour. If you're frosting a cake it's no biggie, but I hate having little spots of flour show up on the outside of my chocolate cake.

The Bag Lady's Favorite Chocolate Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add flour and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 3/4 hours, or until cake is done. Remove from oven and allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto cake plate and serve.

*If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a measuring cup, fill cup to 1 cup mark with milk (whole, 2% or skim all work fine).

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Break chocolate into small pieces and put in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
2. In small saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium-high heat, bringing just to a boil.
3. Remove cream from heat, and pour over chocolate. Allow to sit until chocolate has melted completely.
4. Add vanilla extract and stir using a whisk until completely combined. Pour over cake.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Birthday Pupcakes For Millie

So..it's been a while right? Yeah, I know. Feel free to call me a slacker because part of my absence has definitely been because I was unmotivated, or in less desirable terms, lazy. Mostly though, my absence started off because I had a lot on my mind. I was pretty stressed over a few family matters, but am happy to report that all is fine. Many prayers were said, and much thanks was given when those prayers were answered, you have my word on that. But, I'll spare you my saga and say that I will try much harder to share my projects, my recipes and my not so exciting life with y'all regularly.

Today is a pretty special day in our house. We celebrate my baby girl's birthday today. Millie is three years old today, and time has really flown by. Of course, since she is a dog and not a human child, and we don't have her birth parents she hasn't been with us since birth, so she hasn't been a part of the family for a full three years yet. I remember her entry into the family like it was yesterday.

After much searching online we found a liter of English Labs in the Asheville area of the North Carolina mountains that came from gorgeous parents and champion bloodlines, exactly what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a black girl, so we packed up the car with a new crate and plenty of toys and headed to the mountains in hopes of getting our girl. It was total love from day one. I won't like, she was H-E-Double Hockeysticks on four paws from the moment she got home and hasn't slowed up yet. She is absolutely the alpha to her two older brothers and the complete opposite of Duncan her yellow Lab brother, but she has a great temperament and the most amusing personality. I love watching her with Mr. Picky Eater. They have so much fun together and the most amazing bond. That little girl definitely has his heart.

She can be headstrong and frustrating when she wants to, but fuss at her and she turns into the most pitiful little girl ever. I've never met another dog like Millie and I wouldn't trade her for all the money in the biggest bank in the world. Along with her two brothers she's got my whole heart. I wanted so badly to bake my girl a birthday cake today, but her poor brother Duncan has so many allergies that I never get to bake goodies for them. His allergies are so bad that he's currently on a food trial, but that's a story for another time. When Duncan was a puppy, before we learned of his many allergies I did bake cupcakes for his first birthday, so I thought I would share that recipe with y'all in honor of my girl. These pupcakes and frosting are totally dog friendly, unless of course your dog has allergies to any of the ingredients. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or doesn't eat a variety of different foods I would start them out with a small amount, depending on the size of the dog, but since these are mild and not incredibly fatty you shouldn't have an issue.

Pupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
dog-friendly recipe

Yield: 20 pupcakes or 1 bundt cake

3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats (quick-cooking works fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix mashed bananas and applesauce together, then beat in eggs.
Toss in all dry ingredients and beat until completely combined.
Bake at 350 degrees in lightly greased muffin tins or bundt pan. (Approximately 25 minutes for cupcakes and 30-40 minutes for bundt cake)

1/2 brick (4 oz) light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 bananas, mashed
small dog biscuits, candles or slices of banana for decorating

Beat all ingredients together until smooth.
Frost completely cooled cake/cupcakes and adorn with desired decorations

Friday, March 15, 2013

Donut Heaven - Apple Pie Donuts

Recently one of my favorite ladies came over for a little girl time. You know us girls, we have to get together, gossip and catch up from time to time, and this catch up was long overdue. Me being me, I had to make something sweet to snack on. When us girls get together there is always food involved, and usually alcohol. There was no alcohol this time, but definitely some delicious food. Jessica brought over this delicious Artichoke Bread she found on Pinterest and if I hadn't eaten dinner shortly before hand I think we might have been fussing over who got the last piece it was that good. I haven't made it myself yet, but I did repin it, so if you want to check it out click here.

I decided on Apple Pie Donuts as our sweet treat for a few reasons: I absolutely adore my little Donut Maker, which is a different brand than this, but very similar (mine is a Sunbeam, this one is a Babycakes), which hasn't gotten nearly as much use as I'd like as of late, baked donuts are an easy treat and I was pressed for time, and I had some apple pie filling left from a previous recipe that I needed to use up. Me being me, I couldn't just follow a recipe to the letter, I had to adapt it, so I took a recipe that I of course found on Pinterest and changed it up slightly. The result was delicious, and I would definitely make Apple Pie Donuts again. However, for the donut itself next time I would do a cake mix donut because the texture of these was a little crumbly. I imagine using spice cake would be really good, or I would use yellow cake mix and add to it for a spiced up donut. Most of my donut recipes use cake mix as the base. The resulting donut has a good flavor and the texture is pretty much spot on with a Sweet Sixteen Donut.

I didn't make major changes to the recipe, I simply replaced the melted butter with vegetable oil, skipped the apple pie spice and upped the cinnamon. And, for the glaze I used maple syrup in place of the milk. Plus, I always find that the donuts need a few minutes longer to bake than the recipes call for.

If you love a donut with chocolate glaze check back soon because I found a chocolate glaze that I absolutely love and will share with you soon. And, want more donut flavor ideas? Like, maybe maple bacon? Caramel apple? Or what about Carrot Cake? Well, those plus a ton of other mouth watering baked donut recipes are on my Pinterest Donut board, so go check em out!

Apple Pie Donuts
adapted from: Jam Hands

Makes 12-14 donuts
1½ cups plain flour
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
9 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
½ cup canned pie apple, mashed
½ cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Powdered sugar glaze (Use about 1 to 2 cups of powdered sugar and a few teaspoons of maple syrup to thin it)

1. Preheat Donut machine. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Whisk in the butter, apple, milk and egg until mixture forms a smooth batter.
2. Spray machine with non-stick cooking spray. Fill bases of preheated donut rings with batter. Close lid and cook for 6 minutes or until donuts are golden and cooked. Use a non-stick spatula (wooden/bamboo tongs work well too) to transfer donuts to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter to make 12-14 donuts in total. Garnish with extra apple pie filling and a simple powdered sugar glaze.

Original recipe from Sunbeam

Monday, March 4, 2013

Martha Stewart Living Excitement - Free Subscription Deal

I love magazines. Seriously, I love, love, love them. I'm the girl who gets excited when a new issue comes each month. I am also the girl who only gets magazines if they are given to me as a gift or I am able to find some awesome deal on a subscription. And, by awesome I mean free or something crazy cheap like $2 for a years subscription. I currently subscribe to Better Homes & Gardens, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Cosmo and Family Fun, which by the way is super cute, especially if you have young kids. There are always really cute craft and food ideas that any kid would love.

Being that I love a bargain and have been referred to as the Crazy Coupon Lady I get my fair share of those daily deal emails. Today I found a super exciting deal I thought was worth sharing. This deal is via Coupon Cabin, and I'm not sure how long it will last, my guess is not too much longer. But if you go here and fill out a short survey (while supplies are still available) you will get a free subscription (11 issues) of Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I signed up and got mine. The survey took literally two minutes, and I didn't even have to provide credit card information to get the free subscription. So, if you love magazines as much as I do or are a huge Martha Stewart fan hurry on over and keep your fingers crossed that there are still some subscriptions left.

I am not affiliated with Martha Stewart Living Magazine or Coupon Cabin in anyway. Just a magazine loving girl wanting to pass along a good deal to my beloved readers.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Celebrating A Delicious Food - National Peanut Butter Day

Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day. Yes, I know I'm a day late, but in my defense I didn't discover this wonderful holiday until late in the day and by then I was already baking two kinds of delicious donuts and getting ready for some girl time later in the evening. But, actually, according to punchbowl.com January 24th is, and since I didn't get that memo and some sources say it was yesterday I seem to have missed it all the way around.

In honor, I thought I'd wax poetic about my love for peanut butter. Okay, not really because let's be honest, if I tried that it would just be scary for all of us. But, I do seriously love peanut butter. I'm the girl who will eat it straight from the jar with a spoon. I'll dip pretzels in it, smear it on some saltine crackers, add it to a smoothie. I'll even go healthy and eat it on apples. Crunchy or creamy doesn't matter too much, although if I have a choose I choose creamy every time. And, I'm not a fan of the thinner natural peanut butters, nope give me the thick and smooth stuff with all the added sugar and probably a few ingredients I don't know how to pronounce. A few of my favorite recipes that I have shared in the past can be found here, here, and here. The only way I can think of that I won't eat peanut butter is in savory dishes. I know some people totally disagree with me, and that's okay, I respect that, but for me, peanut butter is not meant to be included in my main course.

If I had to choose my favorite way to get my peanut butter fix it would be paired with chocolate. Whether combined in a cookie, mixed up in a no-bake pie or as part of some kind of candy I don't care, just give me the two together. It's no secret that I have a massive sweet tooth and Reese's Cups are quite possibly my favorite candy. It's also no secret that I like to try to make things from scratch, if for no other reason than to prove that I can. I have made my share of faux Reese's Cups over the years, but my absolute favorite chocolate and peanut butter concoction to make is Real Deal Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars aka Reese's Cup Bars. I don't know the original source, but the recipe was given to me by a friend whose dad makes them. From the first taste I was in love. They are simple if a bit messy to make, but well worth it. The only downside to these amazing bars are that you have to wait atleast an hour after making to cut into them because they have to chill. That hour feels like days to me! Not to mention, once I cut into them it's pretty hard not to eat one every time I enter the kitchen.

Once chilled you can store these little bits of heaven at room temperature or in the fridge. If you store them at room temp they will get pretty soft. I prefer storing them in the fridge, but then again, I just prefer my peanut butter cups crunchy and cold anyway. So, clearly it's just a matter of choice. If you have never eaten them cold give it a try, I swear it's amazing!

As for the photo, can I rant about that for a second please? As I said, I was baking donuts yesterday so this photo is from a little while back, and I don't love it. Do you ever take photos and then you either accidentally delete them or can't remember where the heck you saved them? Yeah, that would be me right about now. If you remember the computer crises a few weeks back you'll understand why I know the photos aren't saved to my hard drive. But, I always back photos up to flashdrives or cd's and I can't find the photos on either. Oh well, atleast I found one photo so that I could share these babies.

Real Deal Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
aka Reese's Cup Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
3 cups confectioner's sugar
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1. Pour melted butter into a 9x13 inch glass pan, stir in graham cracker crumbs. Add peanut butter and confectioner's sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan.
2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips and remaining 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Stir occasionally until completely melted and mixture is combined. Pour on top of peanut butter filling mixture, and smooth evenly. Chill in the refrigerator atleast one hour before cutting into squares.
Note: A great trick I use is to place the pan I am making the bars in over the large burner on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium, toss your 2 sticks of butter, cubed into the dish and stir it around til it's melted. When the butter is melted turn the heat off and proceed with the recipe as instructed. This way saves me from dirtying up another dish and the pan is warm so the other ingredients are easier to incorporate. And when cutting these I like using a bench scraper. That's my little trick when cutting any kind of bars. I just mash that baby down into them and get straight cuts and perfectly square bars everytime.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Two Years Ago..

Two years ago today I officially became a homeowner. I can't say the journey to purchasing my first home was always easy because sometimes it was far from it. The process was by no means foreign to me as Mr. Picky Eater aka my Big Bad Dad and I have bought more than our share of homes and from the time I was a little girl he always fully included me in the process. It's always been the two of us, and I'm Daddy's Little Girl. Where he went I went, what decisions he made I was a part of. It has always been that way, and always will be.

I'm getting a little offtrack though. That does happen when I mention our relationship. It's such a huge part of who I am. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, becoming a homeowner, right. At nearly 30 years old I was still living at home, don't judge. We lived in a beautiful house that had become our home more than any place we lived prior. It was the home where we felt we had finally really put down roots, but it was way more house than two people needed and truth be told, we felt we were at a place where we should downsize. After living with dear old dad for 30 years I decided it was time for me to call the shots. Just kidding, because really I've always called the shots. Okay, not really. I would say it's always been 50/50.

Truthfully, I wanted something to call my own. As much as every home we've had has been mine, his, ours, having my name on a mortgage, I just knew it would feel different. I knew wherever the move took us it would still be ours, but at the same time the next house would truly feel like mine, the place I put down roots of my very own.

The search for a new home seemed to take forever, and there was more than one occasion where my hopes were dashed and my heart a little broken. I started out with one real estate agent, and one finance company, both of which seemed like a good fit at first. You know how they say first impressions are everything? Well, sometimes they're totally wrong. I am not demanding and I don't have unrealistic expectations, but I give any relationship and every situation I'm invested in my all and I expect the same. When I don't get that in return I move on, which in short is why I ended up with a different agent.

Looking back, my vision for my first home changed quite a few times. I started out wanting a country home on several acres, then I wanted a home in the historic area of a local small town. What did I end up with? Something I didn't envision, but turned out to be exactly what I needed.

My house is a little 1950's brick ranch on an acre lot in a quiet little neighborhood in the city. Yup, no small town living for me as it turns out. The house is literally across the street from my Nana and Pop's old neighborhood, which was my second home as a little girl. I traveled the streets of this neighborhood everyday as a little girl, and my dad ran these streets as a boy. During my search I found several houses that I thought were great and could see us in, but none fit quite like this one. It was a freezing cold January day with snow on the streets and ice covering the backyard when I realized my dream. The house had been on the market just a few days. As soon as I walked in I saw my childhood and felt my Nana and Pop surrounding me. I knew I was home. The house was immaculate, and totally original. I wanted a project, no, I needed a project and knew I had found it.

After leaving, we were sitting in a restaurant minutes later preparing to make an offer. Little did I know that when I signed my name that day I was truly starting a new chapter in my life. The purchase process was not without a few bumps, mostly centering around getting repairs done before the closing date. But, two years ago today I signed my name, got a set of keys and started an amazing journey. The next day was the beginning of months of hard, dirty work that filled me with joy. I won't lie I cried a few times from the stress and dear old dad and I had our share of heated disagreements, okay, I'll be honest, they were fights. But, that's who we are, both passionate, strong-willed, stubborn people. What can I say? I'm the female Mini-Me of my old man, and I couldn't be more proud to admit that.

As I look at our home today, there isn't much that resembles the house I purchased two years ago. Sure the hardwood floors still look exactly the same, maybe a little worse for the wear of my babies running around on them all the time. Except for a new deck and some other changes to the landscape it looks the same on the outside. Inside? Not so much, and I love it. My Dad is an amazing carpenter and the muscle behind all the renovations. Seriously, except for a few plumbing and electrical things he did it ALL. He is the creativity behind the woodworking projects and even some of the paint colors. But, the kitchen and bath designs, those are my babies.

I intend to share all the changes with you. I'll give you tips and tutorials on many of the projects and thanks to my amazing Dad I'll do my best to provide easy to understand instructions for even the novice. Stay tuned! And along the way if you have questions on any of the projects or even things I haven't tackled but maybe you hope to do in your home let me know. I am no expert, but I live with one of the most skilled I've ever met!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fit Fare: Baked Squash & Zucchini Coins

Like many cooks and fellow bloggers, I do a lot of blog browsing, and with all the wonderful blogs out there I'm constantly stumbling onto great new ideas and tempting recipes. With all those food blogs comes the discovery of many new recipes and the reminder of quite a few others that I already know and love, but maybe let fall to the back of my mind from time to time. One of those temporarily forgotten recipes is for a super healthy side dish called Baked Squash & Zucchini Coins. My original source for the recipe is Janet Is Hungry. I can't recall how I found her blog, but the recipe immediately caught my eye.

I love, capital L-O-V-E zucchini, and being the southern squash loving girl that I am, I thought this recipe would work perfectly with crookneck squash, another one of my favorites. For as long as I can remember fried squash has been one of my very favorite foods, but being that it's FRIED I try to look for healthier ways to enjoy one of my favorite veggies. So, when I found this recipe it seemed like the perfect concept. I simplified the recipe a little, using store-bought breadcrumbs and added a dash of Montreal seasoning. I've made the recipe twice and the first time around I loved it, but Mr. Picky Eater had a minor complaint and a few suggestions. He didn't care for the seasoning, saying the inclusion of sage in the spice blend made it taste like "Thanksgiving". "What's wrong with that???" I ask! Mr. PE's suggestion? "Next time I think it would be better if you just breaded them in plain cornmeal." So that's what I did, but take my word for it, you should not, not, not use just cornmeal. Unless of course you want your zucchini and squash to taste like uncooked cornmeal. Yeah, not a good flavor, but at the last minute we stuck them under the broiler so they weren't a total loss. From here on out, it's breadcrumbs all the way in this recipe for me.

Baked Squash & Zucchini Coins

1/2 plain breadcrumbs
Montreal seasoning to taste, or salt and pepper if preferred
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 egg
olive oil

1. Mix breadcrumbs and seasoning on a plate.

2. Beat egg in a small bowl.

3. Slice zucchini and squash into 1/4" thick coins.

4. Dip zucchini and squash into egg and then into breadcrumb mixture.

5. Coat a parchment lined cookie sheet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Arrange zucchini and squash coins on cookie sheet and back at 425 for about 10 minutes per side, until golden brown.

I think it would probably work well to put the dry mixture in a ziplock bag and once the veggies are coated in the egg toss them into the bag and give it a good shake to coat, but I haven't tried this yet so I can't say for sure. If you give it a try before I do let me know how it works.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snowy Days & Snow Cream

If you're a southerner you know snow days are few and far between. When one comes along it's a pretty big deal. If the white stuff falls on a weekday schools are almost guaranteed to shutdown along with many businesses and the grocery stores will be packed. Here in Charlotte some areas got a very minor sprinkling several weeks ago, but here at our house we saw next to nothing. Today has been a different story. I didn't know until last night snow was even in the forecast and being that yesterday was very warm for February I brushed it off as highly unlikely. I awoke this morning to a light sprinkle that lasted off and on through most of the afternoon, but never accumulated. So, I went about my business, headed out late this afternoon to run an errand and grab dinner, and was told while we were out that the snow would hit in twenty minutes. My thought? Yeah, right!

Sure enough, headed to dinner about ten minutes later and we spotted a few flakes mixed with a sprinkling of rain that turned to a total white out less than 5 minutes later. I prefer to have visibility while in a moving automobile, so we stopped at a drive-through for take out and before we could get home, not even ten minutes later, the ground was covered.

My babies are some very happy dogs tonight, especially my Millie girl, she's an active wild woman anyway, but she hit the yard running when she discovered the snow. My black girl came in white from rooting around and kicking up so much snow. I don't expect we'll have enough snow to build any snowmen or have any snowball fights, not that I would, but I think we have just enough to pretty up the trees for a little while. Hopefully, this pretty white stuff won't melt and re-freeze leaving us with tons of ice. The melting and refreezing to ice is the whole reason I dread snow. Not to mention I hate being cold, but I'll stop right there before I start to complain.

One thing I remember fondly from snow days as a little girl is Snow Cream. It was a rare thing, but such a fun treat, and it's so easy to make. I haven't made any this snowfall, but thought I'd share the "recipe" with you in case it's something you've never heard of or just aren't sure how to make. It is ridiculously easy to make and so good. There aren't really exact measurements, atleast there never were around our house. Just remember to add your liquid gradually and it should be the consistency of ice cream, not slush.

Snow Cream

a large bowl of clean white snow (no yellow snow, yuck!)
vanilla extract
granulated sugar

Add a small amount of milk to the bowl of snow, starting with a few tablespoons. Gently stir, add more milk gradually until you reach almost ice cream consistency.
Add 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, more or less to suit your taste and depending on the amount of snow you are using.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, more or less to taste (I would go with more since I have a major sweet tooth.) Gently stir to combine.
Serve immediately, or if yours has gotten a little runny put it in the freezer for a bit to get to the ice cream consistency.

If you don't snow you can also used shaved ice to make Snow Cream, so if you have one of those fun snow cone makers, break it out and shave some ice! And, I have seen chocolate and strawberry flavored Snow Cream, although I have tried neither, but if plain of vanilla isn't your thing visit my trusty friend google and give either flavor a search. Let me know which flavor you try and what you think of it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sharing Some Sugar Cookie Love

Waaaay Early V-day cookies

Happy Valentine's Day y'all!

Love is in the air..

And, it has nothin' to do with a man. It's all about the cookies. Yes, you heard me right, colorful, sugary, heart-shaped ones to be exact. They say food is the way to a man's heart, well I'm pretty sure it's the way to mine too. Diamonds are great, and I love a great pair of shoes, although, for me it's sneakers or flip-flops, I'll pass on the stilettos. And, I love a little glitz and glitter from time to time, but a wonderful meal or a decadent dessert is the way to win me over. Heck, even a batch of adorably decorated cookies or cupcakes and I'm your girl.

I think this is probably one of the cutest batches of decorated cookies I've done, and of course Valentine's Day just wouldn't be Valentine's Day with out some sort of cute dessert all decked out in pink and red, right? This is my go-to sugar cookie and icing recipe: No-Fail Sugar Cookies with royal icing, and I've shared the recipe for both here before. They were part of my 12 Days of Christmas Baking.

Go here for my tips on working with the dough, which by the way, my method makes it super easy to work with and my way chills the dough much faster than normal. You'll also find my tips on preparing and working with the royal icing. They aren't the be all end all tips, but definitely what works best for me. If you have great tips please feel free to share, I'm always looking for new methods or ways to make things easier. If you share tips and I love them I'll definitely be sure to mention them and shout you out in the future.

No-Fail Sugar Cookies
6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring
1 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours (or use my wax paper hint mentioned above)

Roll to desired thickness and cut into desired shapes. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges.

This recipe can make up to 5-dozen 3” cookies.
Recipe from kitchengifts.com

Royal Icing
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons warm water (it must be warm water)

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).

* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lovely Inspiration - Valentine's Day Creations

I adore Valentine's Day. How about y'all?

My love of the holiday has nothing to do with the romance aspect of it. For me it's about the cute desserts, homemade Valentine's Day cards and the adorable crafts. The cute pink and red goodies with all the hearts and little cupids all over them sometimes makes me wish I was a kid again so I could be back in school giving out sweet little cards and getting tons in return. Okay, scratch that, first of all, I'm not totally in love with the chubby arrow shooting little naked guy, and I don't wish I was back in school. But I do wish I had gobs of people to whip up handmade cards for with catchy little sayings. Heck, I'm even kinda wishing I could throw a little Valentine's Day party and deck out the house in homemade decorations.

Things have been a little..hmm not necessarily crazy around here, but a little out of whack lately, so I haven't whipped up any goodies worth mentioning, but I found plenty of adorable and inspiring recipes and projects on Pinterest. I thought I'd share some of my favorites with y'all.

I had plans to head over to my new favorite photo editing site, PicMonkey and whip up a cute little photo collage of the inspiring ideas I want to share with y'all, but I discovered a newly launched site called The Inspiration Board. This is my first time trying it, but I think I'm in love! It is super easy to use with several templates, lots of frames, backgrounds and other goodies to pretty up your inspiration board. There is even a section in the goodies tab with different washi tape designs, and that stuff is all the rage right now it seems. So, if you love inspiration boards head over and create one, or a hundred yourself. I bet you'll see me sharing more in the future. They're just too cute and fun to make!

Following are the links for the projects I'm loving (in order according to placement on the inspiration board, left to right, top to bottom)

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Cupcakes by Lick The Bowl Good - These remind me of two of my favorites rolled into one, red velvet cake and black bottom cupcakes.

I Dig You, a diy Valentine's goodie by The Fry Family Blog - How cute are these? Inexpensive and adorable! If you're not an M&M's fan this would also be cute with Skittles or Conversation Hearts.

Easy Sugar Cookie Glaze - Whether you whip up from scratch sugar cookies, or take the shortcut and use a mix, this glaze is a great way to dress up sugar cookies for an easy treat. (This is actually my photo and I have used this recipe many times. Be on the lookout, I'll share the recipe and more info here soon.)

You Rock My Socks DIY Valentine (with free printable) by Thirty Handmade Days - Simple to put together and absolutely adorable!

Paper Doily Envelope by Say Yes to Hoboken - All you need for this adorable little project is heart-shaped paper doilies, a sticker to seal the envelope and a cute mini card or note to go inside.

Printable Love Banner at One She Two She - This banner is simple to assemble and would make an adorable accompaniment to your other Valentine's Day decorations.

Valentine's Day Parfaits by Bee In Our Bonnet - Quick to assemble and they look rather tasty. These would make a perfect after school treat for the kiddos or an easy dessert to go with that Valentine's Day dinner. Change up the filling colors and the decorations on the cup and these would be great for many different occasions.

With the exception of the Easy Sugar Cookie Glaze, none of the images or ideas are my own. For more of the Valentine's Day ideas I love check out my Valentine's Day Pinterest board.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Personal PSA - Computer Crisis

So, yesterday was a bit of a technological doozy to say the least, and I thought I'd use my experience to send out a little public service announcement. My computer apparently contracted a nasty virus at some point. I don't know if it was something that was picked up Saturday unknowingly or prior to that and the virus lay dormant for a time. There was an issue Saturday night with internet explorer freezing up briefly, but things like that happen from time to time even when a virus of some sort is not involved, so I can't say that's when the infection happened. All I know is that when I booted up my computer yesterday a "program" popped up at start up called "Disk Antivirus Protection" and automatically ran a scan showing all sorts of horrible trojans, malware and other nastiness. I was immediately alarmed and tried to exit the program because I knew it was nothing I opted to install. The only way to exit the program is to give your credit card number to "purchase" the program and have the files "removed". (I'm using quotations for all these terms because I seriously doubt it would have remedied the problem.

I'm not aware of the name of the virus, but it appears to be fairly new and is some form of ransomware, which means that it hijacks your system and won't allow you to do anything until you provide your credit card number and "install" the program. I reached for my Kindle Fire and did a google search of "Disk Antivirus Protection" and found a good many articles and message board postings within the last month. Not being a computer expert I was a little cautious of trying to follow the instructions I found online to remove the virus myself so I called the tech department of a big box electronics store and was told there was no option for me to remove something like this myself and it would be $200+ and I would be without my computer for two or more days. Now, I don't know about y'all, but this girl loves her computer and is on a budget so two days without and $200+ would have had to be a last resort. Of course, why did I expect them to tell me I could fix the problem myself, silly me! Luckily I have a wonderful and computer savvy younger cousin who was more than willing to help me out.

I called up T for a little advice and although he wasn't familiar with the virus, nor did he know how to fix it he offered to help immediately. So, I hoped in the car and hauled my distressed behind over to my personal tech support. Based his research this virus can delete and/or replace registry keys so that you may think you have removed the virus completely, but unless you know for sure which registry keys are missing you won't have fixed the problem completely. (And, forgive me if you're knowledgeable about this stuff and some of what I'm saying makes no sense. I don't totally understand everything about this issue.) Eventually, we decided the safest thing would be to do a system restore. Thankfully I was able to save my photos, music and other documents to a flash drive and they don't appear to be corrupted, so I didn't actually lose anything. And, my adorable little tech wizard claimed the experience was fun.

My point and PSA to all this is, be careful, make sure your antivirus is up to date, install atleast one additional program to check for malware/spyware and run scans regularly. I can't tell you how or when my poor computer contracted this virus. We don't visit questionable website, atleast I didn't think so. And, I'm the only one that downloads anything, and I never download anything that seems suspicious. I haven't tried it yet, but have heard numerous good things about the antivirus program Avast. It's free and supposed to be an excellent program, I plan to give it a try. For malware/spyware programs Malwarebytes Anti-malware is supposed to be very good, and T recommended Spybot to me, which I have used some years ago and also recommend. Yesterday's experience was not one I wish to repeat, but I know it could have been much worse. I could have had no help with the issue and been forced to pay a good chunk of money to fix the problem and I could have lost all my photos and documents. Thus, I just want to give everyone a heads up and a few recommendations so that y'all can protect yourselves from having the same experience, or worse. Good luck y'all!

I have to give a HUGE thank you to T, the best boy I know. You're growing up so fast, and I love you to pieces. Such a smart and wonderful kid. I tell ya, that boy is going to be some kind of computer genius when he grows up. He'll be the next Steve Jobs or somebody equally awesome. I just hope he remembers me when he's rich and famous for developing some awesome video game or computer system. I'll be telling y'all, "Hey, I know him!"

I have no affiliation with any of the above mentioned programs, they simply recommendations based on word of mouth or my personal experience. I do not guarantee them, nor am I being compensated for the mention of them."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Make Your Own Take-Out - Sweet & Sour Chicken

I love Chinese food, but wouldn't say that I have varied tastes when it comes time to order take-out. Unless I'm at a Chinese buffet, which is rare, I tend to eat the same few things: Seasame Chicken, Fried Rice, occasionally Lo Mein, and Mr. Picky Eater's favorite Sweet & Sour Chicken. I enjoy an eggroll from time to time too, but typically I can take those of leave them. If I do eat eggrolls, duck sauce is a must for dipping. That little bit of sweetness just does it for me.

It's not a frequent meal at our house, but I love doing what I call "MYOT" (Make Your Own Take-Out) Chinese for dinner from time to time. Occasionally I'll do Teriyaki Chicken or Beef, but usually I go with Sweet & Sour Chicken. I've tried a number or variations on the sauce, everything from the stuff in a bottle to the packet of powdered stuff you mix with vinegar and soy sauce. I've seen quite a few different ways to do baked Sweet & Sour chicken, with plenty of rave reviews, so I decided to give it a try, with my own spin, of course. Based on the recipes I've found, the chicken is typically breaded and fried before being covered in sauce and baked. And, although I know when I order it in any Chinese restaurant it's always breaded and fried, which is decadent and fantastic, I decided to skip the mess of frying and make it healthier in the process. My way has no fat, other than what is in the boneless skinless chicken, which we all know is minimal.

Of course, I'm sure the fried and then baked versions are amazing, but my version is pretty darn great too, if I do say so myself. I can't decide if the best part is the awesome flavor or knowing that I can eat a plate full and not feel guilty that I've just consumed way more fat grams in one sitting than I should in an entire day. When comparing sauce recipes I saw everything from 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I decided to go with 1 cup, and that was a tad sweet, but I love adding soy sauce to mine after the fact so the added sweetness worked out fine for me. If you don't typically add soy sauce to your meal after it's plated up or you aren't a big fan of sweet I would cut the sugar back to 3/4 cup.

This would be great served with fried rice, but since I didn't plan ahead or have any leftover steamed rice in the fridge I served it with plain ol' white rice. When I make Sweet & Sour Chicken in the skillet I always stir-fry some veggies and add those in, but since this version is baked in the oven I added some carrots, green peas and broccoli to the rice cooker while I was steaming my rice. If you don't have a rice cooker or opt to steam your rice on the stove it should work just as well to add the veggies that way too. I added the carrots when I started the rice, then added the peas and broccoli in the last 5 minutes of cooking so they would remain a bit crunchy.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50-60 minutes

Total time: 60-70 minutes

Yield: 5-6 servings


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 to 1 cup (depending on desired sweetness granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the sauce add all ingredients except chicken to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. Rinse and pat chicken breasts dry. Cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch cubes and add to 8 inch square baking dish.
  4. Pour sauce mixture over chicken cubes, stir so that all chicken is completely coated with sauce.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Stir every 15-20 minutes while baking.
  6. Serve over steamed white rice or fried rice.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Channeling Nana - Perfect Southern Cornbread

I'm a southern girl through and through, from my overall style to my taste in music, and I am most definitely a totally southern girl when it comes to the foods I love. One of those southern foods I love so much is cornbread. When I was little it was a food I liked, but given a choice I would pick a biscuit over cornbread. It seems that the older I get the more I love cornbread though. I remember my Nana baking a big ol' loaf in her cast iron skillet. My Daddy aka Mr. Picky Eater? He bakes corn muffins. I don't care what form it's in, just give me cornbread.

My Nana, never used a mix when she made hers, and my Daddy has always used a mix. He is of the opinion that if you can shortcut it and it's still good then why go to the trouble of making it from scratch. I agree with that about somethings and I won't knock cornbread mix because some brands are good, and sometimes I want it fast and easy so I'll reach for a mix too. But, I'm one of those people who feels like if I love something I want to learn to make it from scratch, whether it is a chocolate cake, biscuits, scallop potatoes or cornbread. I mastered the chocolate cake long ago, and yes I'll admit that sometimes I still go with cake mix, it all depends on my mood and the amount of time I have to spare. I won't lie I haven't mastered biscuits yet, although there have been no failures to date, I have yet to turn out a biscuit that's tall and super soft in the middle like I want. Mine usually turn out a little crumbly and a bit on the flatter side. Cornbread was a similar story for me.

I tried a recipe for "southern" cornbread a few weeks back that seemed promising, but didn't hit the mark for me. The taste was decent and thanks to a pretty large amount of oil in the batter as well as the skillet I didn't have a problem with it being too dry, but my cornbread came out super flat, nothing at all like the recipe assured it would be. Oh, well, I figured it was time to try again. After some searching, and arguing...umm debating with Mr. Picky Eater I was determined to try again. After all the searching I went back to a recipe I tried long ago and remembered as pretty good. So, I pulled out my bag of House Autry corn meal, and started tweaking because I can rarely leave well enough alone. The recipe said to bake in an 8" square baking pan, but I felt it was a must to use Nana's cast iron skillet, so I upped the measurements, and substituted buttermilk for plain milk and hoped for the best. Mr. Picky Eater's only complaint was that it needed salt, which as you will see the recipe calls for (and I did not forget to add), so perhaps I would go with 2 teaspoons of salt next time. I, however, did not notice a need for more salt, so who knows.

I think I was channeling my beautiful Nana and she was smiling down on me as I baked this cornbread, because it came out nice and tall, with just the right texture, perfectly moist, and a beautiful golden brown. Yes, I'm pretty much in love with this cornbread. That's not weird to admit is it? It is? Oh well, I'm a food loving girl, it just can't be helped.

If you don't have a cast iron skillet or want a slightly smaller batch scroll down past the first recipe and you'll find the original measurements for baking in an 8" square baking pan. Muffin tins would work well too, (the original recipe states 10 servings). Also, I haven't tried this recipe with regular milk yet, but I would probably add a little less milk if using regular since it is thinner than buttermilk. Once I try it with regular milk I'll give an update on whether the measurement needs to be adjusted. The batter should be pourable, but not runny.

Southern Cornbread


  • 1 1/2 cups plain cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • additional oil to coat skillet

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Add just enough oil to 10-inch cast iron skillet to lightly coat the bottom. Add to preheating oven.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients, and set aside.
  4. Whisk together eggs, then along with oil and milk, add to the dry ingredients.
  5. Gently stir until all ingredients are combined (I find a whisk works best for this.)
  6. A few lumps will remain in the batter, make sure not to overmix.
  7. Add a tiny amount of batter to preheated skillet, and if the oil sizzles you are ready to add the batter. Pour batter into the skillet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. When a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean it is done.
  8. If you are using an 8-inch square baking pan, muffin tins, an 8-inch cast iron skillet or just prefer a slightly thinner cornbread, use the measurements listed below. If using an 8-inch square baking pan or muffin tins omit adding oil to pan, instead spray with non-stick cooking spray, and skip preheating the pan.

Smaller Batch Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • non-stick cooking spray

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hey Crafters! Cricut Sale Through Friday

Eventhough I have yet to share any of my craft projects with y'all and sadly I am way behind on my scrapbooking these days I do love crafts. Just check out my Pinterest and you'll see proof of that. Not to mention my never ending supply of crafting goodies. One of my very favorite craft goodies is my Cricut Expression along with the super cute cartridges. I've had my machine for a few years now and was in love with it from the start. It's a wonder I don't have more of the cartridges than I do. Somehow I've managed a bit of self-control when it comes to purchasing them! My absolute favorite cartridge though? The Cindy Loo Shape Cartridge. It has the most adorable letters and characters, and I just love the name!

Cricut is running a sale through tomorrow and I thought I'd share the deals with y'all.

If you already have have one of their lovely machines they are offering 25% OFF Digital Cartridges!

Cricut is also offering the super cute Pink Cricut Expression for ONLY $189.99!

And last but not least: Get $100 OFF the Reconditioned Cricut Expression Machine!

There are some really cute project ideas, as well as the Cricut Community with message boards, so poke around the site and I'm sure you'll find lots of great things. I know I have!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Super Simple Ways To Use Rotisserie Chicken

I rarely buy Rotisserie Chicken, but when I do I remember how delicious and how much of a time saver it is. Recuperating from last weeks flu I haven't really been in the cooking mood this week beyond easy, almost effortless meals. That along with a huge bowl of my delicious rice cooker Mexican Rice sitting in the fridge sparked my desire for a Rotisserie Chicken. Y'all remember the super easy Mexican Rice I told you about a while back right? It's pretty spot on with what you find in many Mexican restaurants and I absolutely love the stuff!

But, I'm getting a little off track talking about the amazing Mexican Rice. There are a ton of ways to use a Rotisserie Chicken and depending on how many mouths you feed one may very well last you for several meals. Since I'm only feeding two mouths, and occasionally a five pound Poodle, when he's being stubborn at breakfast (yes I have TWO Mr. Picky Eaters to feed!) a Rotisserie Chicken will usually last us a good 4-5 meals, so I look for creative and simple ways to use one. My favorite way meal with Rotisserie Chicken is shredded chicken burritos or tacos. The meal can be on the table in a matter of minutes, it's totally satisfying and has a nice fresh flavor with the lettuce, the salsa and yum, the sour cream!

An obvious use is Chicken Salad, which I love, but haven't managed to get the flavors just perfect for our tastes yet, so I don't have a recipe to share, sorry! Wraps, salads, chicken noodle soup, barbecue chicken pizza, those are all simple ways to use up that chicken. I went to Pinterest real quick and typed Rotisserie Chicken in the search and came up with tons of pins that give multiple uses, such as:

"10 ways to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken"
"24 ideas for Rotisserie Chicken" (all Betty Crocker recipes)
"52 uses for a Rotisserie Chicken"

And, as I was rummaging through the fridge yesterday looking for lunch I remembered a simple sandwich my Dad aka Mr. Picky Eater would sometimes make for me when I was a little girl. It was his version of a Chicken Melt, and was totally simple but delicious and satisfying. His version used canned cooked chicken, mayo and a slice of American cheese. I changed it up a little and used some Rotisserie Chicken, mayo and Extra Sharp Cheddar. It's so simple I can't even really consider it a recipe, but it's a sandwich I found myself craving again today.

How To:

For one sandwich toast two slices of bread in the toaster, then slather one piece of bread with mayo to suit your taste(both slices if you like lots of mayo). Top one slice of bread with a generous amount of warmed shredded chicken, and follow that with a generous amount thinly sliced cheese of your choice - my favorite is Extra Sharp Cheddar (or you could grate the cheese). Place the chicken and cheese topped slice of bread in the oven under the broiler and heat until the cheese is completely melted. Make sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn. Remove from oven and top with the other slice of bread.
If you have chicken salad on hand that would work great in place of the mayo and shredded chicken. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet Snackin' - Churro Chex

I'm a sucker for pretty much anything cinnamon related. Chances are when a recipe calls for cinnamon I double the amount, and have yet to say, "Whoa, I added a little too much!" Naturally, with my love of cinnamon I'm a huge fan of churros. Being in the south we don't find many around these parts, but I have occasionally been known to call one lunch while shopping at Costco. The snackbar has the most amazing HUGE churros, they're warm, soft and chewy and covered, I mean covered in cinnamon sugar.

I've seen a lot of recipes in the last year made with cinnamon chips, and have searched high and low with no luck. Finally, not too long ago I found them at Wal-Mart and grabbed up a bag without a second though. Since I have only found them in the one store and I think my Wal-Mart only stocks them seasonally I have since stocked up and have a few bags to last me until next fall.

I also have a bit of an obsession with Chex mix, no particular variety. Well, there are some that I don't find appetizing, but there are plenty of sweet and savory varieties that tempt me. So, I figured pairing my love of cinnamon with my Chex mix obsession was the perfect idea. I found a couple versions on Pinterest, one seemed to use way more cinnamon chips than I thought wise, so I opted for the other, a recipe from babble.com. I've found some really tempting recipes there, so if you've never been check em out y'all.

The recipe was super simple, and the only cooking required was a little time in the microwave to melt the cinnamon chips. This is a recipe that is better after it's had a little time to sit so the Chex have dried a little and aren't gooey, but I couldn't resist so I had some immediately and they tasted great, gooey and all. I knew I would likely be the only one eating them so I cut the batch in half, but the recipe below is the full batch version.

Churro Chex is great eaten solo, but I found that my favorite way to eat them was with vanilla greek yogurt. Does that sound weird? I love granola in my yogurt so I thought I'd give it a try and I found it to be a great snack, and fairly healthy to boot! Give these a try and let me know what you think. And, please, please don't hold the not so great, bordering on horrible photos (especially that first one) on these yummy little gems, it's really not their fault. All mine, and the dark gloom day.

Churro Chex


  • 9 cups corn or rice chex (The original calls for rice, but I used corn which was great.)
  • 1 cup cinnamon baking chips
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cooking Directions

  1. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave cinnamon chips and butter for 1 minute; stir until smooth.
  2. Microwave about 30 seconds longer if needed.
  3. Drizzle mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
  4. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, sugar, and cinnamon.
  5. Toss the coated Chex cereal into the sugar mixture.
  6. Spread on a piece of wax paper until cooled.


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