Wednesday, December 26, 2012

a little Christmas sweetness

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these Butterscotch Haystacks are the cure for grey-winter-day blues!

 find the recipe here!

and if you're still in need of a sweet treat, it's not too late to bake these:

 for which you can find the recipe here!

next week we'll be good, and we'll be posting some delicious ways to feed healthy cravings in the new year.  for now, sweet heaven!  :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

toll house cookies on steroids

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take a classic, tried-and-true staple dessert like Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.
add snack-tastic ingredients like pretzels and potato chips (yep, you read that right.)  we took it a step further and added caramel bits.  you've got THE cookie that'll top all the others at your holiday cookie swap.  if you're gonna be naughty... (santa'll never know.  promise.)
the only thing to make 'em better?  add bacon.  of course.

before you bake these (remember, double the recipe and freeze half the dough for indulgence at a later date), create your own pinterest board called "world's biggest cookie swap," and pin this recipe. is partnering with cookies across america, nestle, and ladies' home journal to help fight kids' cancer - every board created generates $1. go here for details!
(oh, and you can view the cute lil' video here at allrecipes!)

disclosure: i received a gift of Nestle Toll House Semi-sweet Chips from Nestle.  All recipe opinions are my own.  :)

hugs, and happy CHRISTmas baking!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012


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it strikes me that learning to stop and behold my Papa's beauty through creation is a lifelong journey; it is a battle against busy, a battle against hurry, a battle against the "more" habit.
it is a concerted effort to believe that what is in front of me is all that is essential in the moment, and that each moment is a gift.
this week He gave us opportunity to embrace the moment in a place that has captured our hearts. we'll share more later; for just at this moment, we're living in the essential of now.
if you can run away, and you want to run to a place where seeing is knowing more of Him, go here.  :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

grain free dutch babies with spiced fruit compote {paleo breakfast ideas}

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some of my sweetest "comfort food" memories are centered on breakfast. we do breakfast for every meal, and winning my willing, yet selective, family over to bread items that are grain-free is a dubious process.  my baker-boy (who is also a natural born hunter and thanks to his papa, helps keep us stocked with venison, thereby spoiling us rotten) is a fan of from-scratch, but he's not above making a mean box-mix-pancake on any given day.  i always give in and have one or two, but i always regret it later with that post-pure-carb-let-down.

when he asked for this dish tonight that we used to make often, i took it as a personal challenge to find a grain-free alternative that would knock his socks off.  :)  guess what?  everyone went back for seconds.  check and mark.

grain free dutch babies
(a variation of a recipe from

1/3 cup butter
8 eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup arrowroot
1/4 cup chestnut flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp lemon extract
1 packet stevia (or 6 drops lemon flavored liquid stevia)

preheat oven to 425 degrees.  as oven is preheating, melt butter in a 9x13 glass baking dish until it just starts to brown. (careful!  it goes from brown to burnt quickly!)
blend remaining ingredients in a blender, beginning with eggs, then adding remaining ingredients.  blend for approximately 45 seconds to one minute total.
carefully pour batter over browned butter in the baking dish, and bake at 425 degrees for approximately 23 minutes.

top with spiced fruit compote and sprinkle with finely chopped, toasted nuts (we love hazelnuts!).

spiced fruit compote

3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups frozen peaches
1 cup frozen blackberries
2 tablespoons maple sugar 

melt butter in a medium saucepan.  stir in ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon to bring out their flavor.  add maple sugar and peaches, stirring to coat.
allow peaches to simmer approximately 20 minutes, or until peaches are soft juices begin to thicken.
gently stir in blackberries and simmer just until soft (you want blackberries to retain their "pop" and not break down).
serve over frozen yogurt or waffles or grain free dutch babies!

of course, we had to serve these with our favorite maple-sprinkled-bacon.  and cream-laced coffee.

and now, it almost feels like autumn will come.

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Progresso Recipe Starters

As part of my journey with the Allstars, I had the opportunity to try out a new product from Progresso called Recipe Starters.

let's be real here: those of us who love to cook and are proud of it don't like to admit we use "premade" products.  it's kind of a pride thing.  but also being real, life is busy and sometimes taking the little ones to the pool and getting the dirty pit boys' bathroom cleaned up and actually taking a shower and making it to swimming practice and a cross country meet on time are more important.  :)

that's where a pre-made ingredient might come in handy.  although more and more i lean toward clean eating (and really make it a whole-family goal!), i do also allow for days when we break the "norm" and go for something different.  when we eat clean, there is room for dinner out or a pasta dish (although i did eat this over spaghetti squash, which was oh-so-good and much lighter on the palate!)

this is the Progresso Recipe Starter Meatballs Stroganoff - a beef stroganoff recipe from that we made with (yep!) pre-made meatballs.  it was fast, it was easy, and our kids didn't leave one bite for leftovers.  the addition of fresh garlic was a perfect touch.

what shortcuts to you have for busy weeknights, to keep dinner at your family table?

disclosure: the information and free Progresso Recipe Starters products were provided by Progresso through the Allrecipes Brand Ambassador Program.  all opinions are my own.  :) 
i am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with

Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews on dancing with my father. this blog was written in support of progresso and their progresso recipe starters campaign.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"refreshing sweet and spicy jicama salad" {vegan recipe}

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i. love. jicama. so does he:

 in case you're wondering, even though it has a crunchy, sweet, and starchy flavor profile, it's low in calories, high in fiber, and contains vitamin C and lots of other nutrients! 

i'm not gonna lie - before it's prepared, it's big and ugly and brown, and it's a pain in the neck to peel.  but once you get through that rough, tough, inedible skin, you find a yum-town crunchy snack that is delicious with almond butter slathered on it, and oh-so-good julienned as a slaw.

let's be honest - i used the food processor to get mine all slivered, but it tasted perfectly delicious without all the painstaking labor.  so there.

this recipe was shared by lindsey-lou at  it's a hot & spicy, but bright and juicy, jicama salad.

i paired it with a chipotle pork tenderloin, but i think it would be really good topped with southwestern grilled chicken as a main-dish salad, as well.

my sweet e. added some lime zest and the zest from the orange, and that really made the dish!

always use fresh citrus juice when you can.  more nutritious and much yummier.

love me some fresh cilantro.

toss... and enjoy!

let us know if you try this dish.  whatcha think?

Monday, August 13, 2012

cheddar-y beer muffins

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often we get a craving for something yeasty and buttery to go with our dinner. and we always want it fast, because by the time we think of adding it, we're minutes away from having cold steak or soggy salad.
these "muffins" have the texture of a drop biscuit; they are a variation of a beer bread recipe that is MUCH faster because the bread is baked as muffins. they're buttery and hearty and they'd be amazing with a thick, rich, beefy stew.  they're also perfect with a crisp dinner salad.

added bonus: there's less chance of fighting-to-the-death over the last slice when the portions are already divided!

Cheddar-y Beer Muffins 

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
4 Tablespoons Maple Syrup (use the good, real stuff)
1 Bottle Dark Beer
8 Tablespoons Salted Butter, Melted & Divided
1 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a 12-cup muffin pan, drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon melted butter into each cup.  Place in oven for approximately 5 minutes to brown slightly.

Meanwhile, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
Stir in the remaining melted butter.  Next stir in the beer and then the cheddar just until combined.

Using an ice-cream scoop, plop the batter/dough into the muffin cups.

Bake approximately 15 minutes or just until the top is done and springs back slightly, or a knife inserted into a muffin in the center comes out clean.

If desired, you can brush muffin tops with more melted butter, or just butter the insides (yum!).

Enjoyed every bite of these on "cheat day," and I'll be working on a grain-free version next!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

all-natural (not scrambled) hair treatment

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if you're not on the pinterest wagon, bless you.

you've probably got oodles of free time and gobs of real-time projects and accomplishments. 

me, i've got 'em all... in my imagination. and i'm good with that. 
because someday, when life is less full of crazy-days and preschoolers-through-teens needing conversation and snuggles, and clients awaiting galleries, and the hubs and i can settle in for a nice drink in the middle of the day (!!),
i'll have lots of projects and recipes i can make, because in my worry-free way of digital hoarding brilliant forethought, i've saved them all.

and for now, when there is a free moment (or a persistent-as-a-bulldog beautiful and sweet pre-teen girl behind my office chair), we'll grab a fun project or two and try it out!

case in point: my inner fashionista pin-board. it's where i save all the cool nail and hair and fashion ideas i dream of, or i think my girl will want to try.  her hair's as long as rapunzel's, and she's been frustrated with it lately, so we decided to try out this recipe for a natural conditioner.  it was a fun adventure. we think it made her hair and scalp softer, but she definitely needed two shampoos.  so it may perhaps have undone the whole "natural" thing.  nonetheless, we had fun concocting!

this recipe:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg
1 cup warm water

whisk and drizzle over head; massage into scalp.
relax for fifteen minutes before rinsing (or washing twice.  :)  )

try it?  leave a comment and let us know what you thought!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

1920s speakeasy dinner {tampa food photographer}

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McCormick Spice hosted a "Dinner Party Chain," and as weekly winners for our 1920s Speakeasy Themed Dinner Party idea, we hosted a couple friends... for dinner and drinks. 

The theatre major in me was a happy girl... great food and good friends who're willing to get all dressed up? Um, yes... 

 The day of the soiree, I texted the gang to get them in character: “Hey, doll-face, grab your cake-eater and hop in the jalopy and head on over for some giggle water and eats and maybe we’ll wind up with some sweets and a cup of joe… But to get in, you’ll need to speak-easy and be sure to tell the lad at the door that everything is Jake… And remember, no bug-eyed Betties or flat tires allowed…” (be sure to google something like "1920s slang" for a translation...)

Our awesome oldest was on hand (in costume, of course) to greet guests and require the aforementioned secret password. He also passed the shrimp cocktails.

 appetizers... and a show.  :)


The menu was delicious (click on the titles for recipe links):

Shrimp Cocktails with Remoulade (McCormick recipe book)

Relish Tray  & Deviled Eggs (made with McCormick spices)

Molded Gelatin Salad ( – a cucumber gelatin)
Bourbon Spiced Ribs ( with my twist – McCormick Bourbon Spice blend)


Lady Baltimore Cake and Frosting (

(punch was a non-alcoholic spin, as not everyone wanted to indulge)

 one guest may or may not have snuck in her own outlawed goods...

sneaking in the hooch.

We chose our guests as a group that we'd been wanting to connect, and as friends we knew would go all out with the theme. In all, it was a long day of well-worth-it love-labor in the kitchen, and a wonderful evening of fun and food and friends. 

ready to throw your own dinner party?  share a link!