Saturday, December 26, 2015

Something Saturdays (12/26/15)

Last weekend was fun! Saturday we hung out with Michael's mom and his siblings and we saw Star Wars (I thought it was pretty ok, Michael hated it---but he has a lot of emotional investment in the original movies so...he had a lot of issues with this new one. We won't get into it.) Sunday went with his dad, stepmom, aunt and uncle, and brother and sister-in-law to see the a capella group Straight No Chaser (they were super funny. My fave song they did was "Take Me to Church".) Then we went to Whitey's for burgers...they were pretty good (mine was smothered in caramelized onions!)

Monday I worked. Tuesday I hung out with my aunt and uncle and teenaged cousins and then we went to my grandma's and decorated cookies with more cousins and my other aunt and my brother and his friend Bryan. Wednesday I went over to my cousin Lindsey's to hang out with her, her husband, her daughter, and my brother. Thursday (Christmas Eve!) Michael and I went over to my Blogna grandparents and we had a delicious Italian dinner, opened gifts, hung out, and then Michael and I went over to his dad's to spend a few hours with his stepmom's family. On CHRISTMAS we had our first Christmas morning together and it was wonderful. Michael got me the 6th season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I get Buffy every year :P) and 2 pairs of adorable and perfect elephant earrings! I looove them. And I got him a couple T-shirts and a sweater and he said he loved them too :). Then we headed over to his dad's to exchange presents with them and then we went to my mom's to spend a little time with her and Josh. My mom gave us a beautiful 1st Christmas ornament and Josh got me a BB&B gift card and Michael a couple T-shirts (Nightwing and Pink Floyd) and then we went over to my aunt and uncle's house to enjoy some food and mimosas. THEN we went over to Michael's mom's house and we exchanged gifts with his siblings and mom. We got a ton of DVD's among other things. We were then supposed to go to his grandpa's but Michael's sister, Shannan, was feeling sick so instead we decided to just hang out and spend time together there. We ate, watched a movie, played games. It was nice :)

And nooow today we have Crofford Christmas (Michael's dad's side of the family) and tomorrow is my mom's side of the family. Woo! I hope your Christmas is/was as full of love as mine <3

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas my friends!! I'll be spending this time enjoying my loved ones (as I hope you are able to do as well!) so I won't be posting again (aside from Something Saturday) for a smidgen bit.

Eat, drink, love, be merry!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
TOMORROW IS CHRISTMAS EVE! YAY YAY YAY! And I'm sure you probably have all your holiday cookie stuff figured out...but...in case you don't....might I recommend these lovelies?
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
These miiight be my current fave choc/pb cookie. Cuz....they're a super chocolatey base with a hint of peanut butter flavor, and they're loaded with melt-y chocolate and peanut butter chips! Double the chocolate, double the peanut butter!They're nice and sturdy on the outside (so great for gift giving or putting on a cookie plate) but chewy and delicious inside. This recipe also makes a good amount of cookies--I actually froze half the batch when I made them so that I could easily just pop them in the oven for Michael's work Christmas party (and we just ate the first half of the batch ourselves :P).
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
I loved them. Michael loved them. My brother loved them. Michael's coworkers gobbled them up. 

Look...what I'm saying here is...Santa works hard all year and he deserves some of these cookies left out for him tomorrow night!!! Mkayyyy?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Roasted Garlic Potato Soup

Roasted Garlic Potato Soup
Admittedly...this winter has been pretty mild so far. Like...no complaints here. BUT...I still want soup sometimes! And when I'm presented with a potato soup with roasted garlic and onions...well...I'm certainly not going to say no.
Roasted Garlic Potato Soup
What's your favorite Christmas movie?? It's a tie for me: Muppet Family Christmas and Muppet Christmas Carol (yes...they're both muppet movies...do not judge me. Also...the runner up is How Elmo Saved Christmas. True story). Whatever your fave holiday flick...wouldn't it be wonderous to curl up by a fire, with the Christmas lights on, and watch your favorite holiday movie while eating spoonful after spoonful of this rich, creamy, soup?

I think so too. You need to carbo-load to help with all that present wrapping you have to do.
Roasted Garlic Potato Soup
This soup is seriously thick and smooth and has that mellow, sweet roasted garlic flavor and the comforting taste of potatoes. And...I HIGHLY recommend topping stirring in some cheese. Seriously...it makes all the difference. It turns a good soup into a GREAT soup. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Something Saturdays (12/19/15)

Last weekend was so fun! Saturday Michael and I ran a couple errands and got to check out a couple local Cuyahoga Falls businesses--best of all is a candy shop called Sugar-Luv. We were able to talk with the owner and the place is incredible: everything from scratch, real and just delicious! We ordered a gift basket for one of the gift exchanges. We also ate at a cute little family restaurant near our house. And then we went to a bar with my brother and his friends for one of his going away parties. Then we stopped by Michael's mom's and ended up taking his youngest brother Christopher back to our house so that he and Michael could have a sleepover :P Sunday I worked but then I went to see Mockingjay Part 2 with my mom and brother. More about that in the Movies/TV talk section. And then when I got home, Michael told me someone had left these 3 adorable Christmas decorations that had chalkboard paint on them! It took us over a day to figure out it had been his best friend, David--who apparently drove 30 minutes to our house, rang the doorbell, left the gifts, and then ran away before Michael got to the door. And then he just went home I guess? It was silly! But sweet lol.

Monday I went shopping with Jeanne (Michael's stepmom) for some clothes for them to get me for Christmas and I'm so excited because I looove the stuff we got! They also got me a couple new hangers for our stockings--those I was allowed to take home with me. We also got cookies from Insomnia Cookies (s'mores for the win!) and lunch at Bistro on Main in Kent. Then, later, I met up with my beauty team from the wedding and a local wedding planner so we could discuss and I could get a game plan on how to move forward for me with getting into wedding planning myself. Tuesday I did a whole bunch of stuff, errands and the like. Wednesday I had an audition and then my brother came over to spend time with Michael and I and he spent the night. It was so fun but it's breaking my heart because I think that's the last chance we'll have to really just hang until my brother leaves and it makes me sad :(

This weekend Michael's brother, Kevin, and sister-in-law, Emily, are in town so we'll be doing stuff with them. Saturday we're going with them, Michael's mom, their other brother Christopher, and Shannan, their sister, to see Star Wars and spend time together. On Sunday Michael's dad and Jeanne are taking us (and Kevin and Emily, and Jeanne's sister and brother-in-law) to see Straight No Chaser and out to dinner. It should be fun!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Favorite Cookies {for the Holidays!}

In the past I have shared holiday gift guides with all of you. last year I shared kitchen tools, the year before that I shared homemade gift ideas and the year before that I did as well! But this year I want to share with you my absolute FAVORITE cookies from this blog. Holiday baking season is upon us and I know I have a lot of cookie recipes, and it can be hard to tell which ones are the best. That is what this list is for: my tried and true favorites that myself, my hubby, and my friends and family can all attest are phenomenal.

Happy baking!

My Favorite Cookies {for the Holidays!}

This is my favorite straight up chocolate chip cookie recipe. They're big, chewy, gooey, and have delicious browned butter and sea salt on top. THE BEST!

Serious chocolate decadence--thus far they're my favorite chocolate cookies.

These have been a staple in my repertoire for years--they're sturdy, a rich chocolate-peanut butter cookie base, and have peanut butter cups all up in them! Yay!

This is one of my favorite cookie bases for mix-ins and this is my favorite version of it, thus far. They're seriously giant cookies and the textures are perfection.

I have adapted this recipe so many times--in this post I stuffed them with salted caramel, and recently I used only toffee chips and stuffed them with chunks of Heath bars for Thanksgiving, and my family is STILL raving about how good they are!

Browned Butter Dark Chocolate and Marshmallow Cookies
The first cookie recipe I ever adapted on my own. It's still a favorite--they're super chewy, have browned butter in them, and dark chocolate and mini marshmallows offset each other in such a delightful way. (I've made them with milk chocolate for people who don't like dark but I find that to be way too sweet, the dark chocolate really helps balance them.)

Pecan Laceys
Gorgeous cookies that are seriously delish and would look very impressive on a cookie tray.

Exceptional Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you want a super sophisticated, super high quality chocolate chip cookie--this is the recipe to use!

Browned Butter, Salted, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
You may be noticing a bit of a theme with browned butter...it just makes everything better! As does sea salt. And that is why these are my favorite peanut butter cookies.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is a very classic chocolate chip cookie recipe with one very special ingredient---coconut oil instead of butter. So, you can make these dairy-free (if you use dairy-free chocolate chips) but honestly you'll never be able to tell that these are made with coconut oil instead of butter. They're just tasty! I've made mini versions of these for my family a few times.

THE Levain Chocolate Chip Cookie Copycat Recipe
If you've ever had the pleasure of tasting a Levain chocolate chip cookie then you will be SO excited when you see that you can literally make a perfect copy cat at home with this recipe. The cookies are GIANT and just...delicious. Fact.

Brown Butter Pecan Toffee Cookies
Dark brown sugar, toffee, brown butter + toasted pecans...this is a recipe for complexity and overwhelming cookie nirvana.

Momofuku's Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies
Look...this is not an easy recipe. I have no guarantees on how it will turn out for you (I mean..it didn't turn out right for me but I didn't care because it was STILL outstanding)--what I do know is that this is the most popular recipe on my site and that it is an incredibly delicious cookie. And I'm actually thinking I should tackle this one again soon.

Nutella Stuffed, Brown Butter, Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Isn't the title enough to explain why this is a favorite?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls
This is one of the rare cookie recipes that I make over and over again, for just myself (and Michael...I guess...) it's the best of both worlds between cookie dough and cookies. They're insane. So good. Trust me.

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Chewy and crunchy and taaasty.

The New York Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
I realize there are a lot of chocolate chip cookies on this list but...they're all amazing in their own way! These ones were dubbed the best by The New York Times (and it's my 2nd most popular recipe) and it is with good reason!

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
And here is my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe! Again...browned butter makes all the difference! They're big and chewy and yummmyy.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pecan Pie Cookies

Pecan Pie Cookies
I was tasked with making cookies for Thanksgiving (so that there was a "less heavy" option than pie--I would like to note that this was for my Irish side of the family, obviously not the Italian side because...no such thing as "too heavy")--but, even though I was making cookies, I decided I wanted one of them to be a classic Thanksgiving dessert. Which is why I decided to try pecan pie...in cookie form.
Pecan Pie Cookies
So...um...how exactly do we make pecan pie into cookies? Actually...they're sort of like little flat mini pies when you get down to it. You cut out circles of pie crust dough, curl up the edges to form a little well, and you put in some pecan pie filling. Bake 'em up, drizzle some yummy chocolate on there, maybe a touch of sea salt because...well...you know me and how I feel about that. And there you go-pecan pie cookies!
Pecan Pie Cookies
My picky family were fairly wary of these guys at first, but I am happy to say that they won over my aunt, who thought she didn't like pecan pie, and my grandma-who brought a bunch home-and my cousins. Pretty much everyone tried one, which is a pretty big feat. And I was so excited I had some leftovers to bring home, because then Michael and I got to enjoy them---because yeah we loved 'em. Especially chilled! Pecan pie is usually served chilled so it really shouldn't be surprising that these are better that way too.
Pecan Pie Cookies
I love how flaky and chewy the pie crust base of these cookies is. I love the sweet and nutty pecan filling. And I love how the chocolate drizzle adds a bit of extra decadence and the bit of sea salt balances all the sweet. And it's cookie season. AND pie season. So...what I'm saying is...'tis the season for you to bake these pecan pie cookies! Santa would certainly appreciate them ;)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Something Saturdays (12/12/15)

Last weekend we put up all our Christmas decorations (yay!) and Michael and I went out to eat at Beau's On the River-it was deeeelicious and so much fun. I love date night with my hubby :)

This week I just caught up on stuff, worked, and rewatched the 1st 3 Hunger Games movies with my mom and brother (we're going to see Mockingjay Pt. 2 in theatres tomorrow). I'm also rereading the books. They've never read them, though, so it's pretty hilarious watching them and how they have no idea what's coming next. Oh boy...they don't know what they're in for with this last one.

And tonight is my brother's goodbye party for his friends in Canton (he leaves 2 days after Christmas for the airforce). Michael and I are both going, and I'm excited!

If you're still working on getting your Christmas gifts together, may I recommend some articles to help you out? (and next week I just might share some new ideas!):
This is seriously so cool:




My Chocolate Chip Clouds were featured in this Buzzfeed roundup: 17 Fantastic Recipes for Meringue Cookies.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hershey's KISSES Deluxe "Say More"

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hershey’s KISSES Deluxe. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Hershey's KISSES Deluxe "Say More"
For me, memories of family and the holidays are mingled with Hershey's KISSES (the #1 holiday chocolate): holiday themed Hershey's KISSES in the candy dish on Christmas Day at my Grandma's, the creamy little chocolates studded in the centers of the peanut butter blossoms my mom would bake for Santa and for our families, and sneaking the sweet treats to my little brother and cousins as we waited impatiently for dinner. 

As time has passed and we've all grown up...those smaller moments seem to get lost in the shuffle. We don't take as much time to enjoy each other. Get-togethers and game nights and birthday parties have turned into quick texts or facebook posts. Even within my close family, we're beginning to move apart. I moved to NY and, even though I'm back now, my brother is leaving for the airforce after Christmas. And it's so wonderful that we all have the technology to be able to keep in touch but we need to do more. And we need to "Say More"--which is exactly what Hershey's is encouraging us to do. We need to make the most of our time together and really speak with each other in meaningful ways, more than just the usual small talk. Hershey's is sharing videos of people saying more on their social media channels, including this completely adorable video of a family showing their mom how much they care. This holiday season, and beyond, I am vowing to really show the people I love how valuable they are to me. I'm going to spend as much time as possible showing my brother how much he means to me before he leaves. I'm going to make sure my mom knows how much I appreciate all she does. When I see my cousins I'm going to do more than just have a little bit of casual chit-chat, I'm going to find out what's going on in their lives and have a real conversation. And I'm going to take the time to enjoy my husband, to talk to him and spend time with him without our heads buried in our phones or our stares trained to the TV. I'm going to "Say More".
Hershey's KISSES Deluxe "Say More"
I'm also going to do the unthinkable and share some of the new Hershey's KISSES Deluxe--now that is real love. They're twice the size of original KISSES, creamy, decadent, and they contain a whole roasted hazelnut and tasty little crisps enveloped in layers of chocolate. Delicious, and the perfect way to show someone you care!

And you have the chance to win a Hershey's KISSES Deluxe 75 piece gift box (valued at $35)!


*I-C will randomly select fifty winners from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Brown Sugar Lava Cookies-T-Sugars #BakeTheDifference

Brown Sugar Lava Cookies-T-Sugars #BakeTheDifference
These might not be the prettiest things I've ever made but...haven't we learned that sometimes the tastiest foods are the ones with a bit more...character? Yes, I think we have. Sooo instead I ask that you focus on the moist brown sugar-y goodness of these cookies, and the melted chocolate centers, and the lovely powdered sugar dusted over them like snow.

Speaking of sugar...guys...I have GOT to tell you about T-Sugars! T-Sugars is a Belgian specialty sugar company that has been around for 175 years --!!! Guys...that is a LOT of sugar experience! AND they have just launched in the US which means all we have the opportunity to get our hands on the good stuff (currently you can find T-Sugars products at your nearest HEB store-or you can order online)!

Now...in case you were wondering what kind of sugar I'm specifically talking about...there are a few different products, but I am specifically talking about their Belgian Cassonade Sugar and Icing Sugar Mill, which T-Sugars were kind enough to send me to try!
Brown Sugar Lava Cookies
That picture right there? That is showing off how revolutionary the Icing Sugar Mill is--seriously...I hate making a mess whenever I want to dust powdered sugar on top of a dessert and the Icing Sugar Mill (which has a sifter built right in, so all you have to do is twist) makes it so insanely easy and gives you an amazing amount of control, too. 

Now...what is Cassonade Sugar? It's like brown sugar...but BETTER. It has no additives, is all-natural, and is softer and has a finer texture than tradition brown sugar. The texture means it stays fresh longer (no more rock hard sugar!), doesn't clump up, AND it dissolves easily, so it can be used to sweeten beverages in addition to being FANTASTIC in baked goods (here are a ton of amazing recipe ideas!)

Which is exactly why I wanted to make a recipe that really lets the Cassonade Sugar shine and allowed me an opportunity to get decorative with the Icing Sugar Mill. These cookies are actually a brown butter, brown sugar blondie base (helpful note: Cassonade Sugar can be used as an exact substitute for brown sugar) with melted dark chocolate centers. They are chewy, rich, and full of that perfect sweet, caramelized brown sugar flavor--and the dark chocolate centers help offset that sweetness.

These cookies are good. T-Sugars are good. Facts.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Creamy Herb Chicken Skillet

Creamy Herb Chicken Skillet
I'm always up for a new chicken recipe! Are you? I hope so because if not...well...you're probably only here for desserts and don't worry, I've got one of those coming to you on Wednesday.

So really we're all winners.
Creamy Herb Chicken Skillet
This dish was really delicious-the chicken is juicy and flavorful and the sauce is creamy and cheesy and...herb-y...? Herb-y isn't a word...herbaceous? I don't know if that really applies to this...oh whatever, you guys get the idea! It's a creamy sauce that is made with boursin (one of my fave kinds of cheese), yummy shallots, and garlic (of course)-and you make it in the same skillet you cooked the chicken so all of that goodness is up in there, too. I sent Michael some in his lunch and he texted me an enthusiastic "This chicken is so good! What's in the sauce?" and then after I told him he proceeded to make a pun about the Lady of Shalott that went over my head and then he had to explain it.

After all these years...there is still mystery. Keepin' the magic alive, folks.

Especially the magic of delectable chicken dishes.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Something Saturdays (12/5/15)

Omigosh last weekend was amazing and insane! So fun, though :) This week I was able to catch up on things: run errands, finish Christmas shopping, etc. My brother and I hung out Wednesday, as usual, and went to O'Charley's and then to the mall so I could help him with some of his Christmas shopping. It's really starting to hit me how soon he'll be leaving for the airforce and it's breaking my heart :(

In happier news Michael and I are using this weekend to finish Christmas decorating AND we're going out for a belated birthday dinner/date at Beau's on the River! I'm so excited :)

My cookies were featured in this BuzzFeed article for 16 Cookies (Almost) Too Epic To Exist!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Our {Town}House Tour!

Yes...I know. I moved over a year and a half ago and I'm just now posting pictures. My only excuse is that I was waiting to hang pictures from the wedding and now that I have I can say the house is (mostly) complete!!

So..let's go on a tour, shall we?

Of course...let's begin with the kitchen:

And this is our utility room off the kitchen where our washer and dryer and odds and ends are...it's a bit of a mess....

Back to the kitchen! Love my KA mixer in all its blue glory 


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Oreo Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Oreo Cookies
There's like...a lot going on with these cookies. They have no flour or butter (in the actual cookies, there may be some in the Oreo's) but they DO have peanut butter, nutella (or nocciolata, which I used), cocoa powder, and...obviously...Oreo's (or other brand of chocolate sandwich cookie-I like Newton-O's).
Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Oreo Cookies
Suffice it to say...these are little bites of rich, flavorful, amazinggg cookies. The kind of cookies that are perfect to binge-ing on while you watch Magic Mike XXL (Don't act like you haven't seen it! Fun fact--My mom and her friends hated it and said the "dancing" was way better in the first one. Like...what? I'm like "Mom...it's no worse than the first one. You're crazy." But I digress.) They're the kind of cookies that you want to give to your friends and family so they'll love you forever and be impressed with your mad cookie skills.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Oreo Cookies
I've got another reason you should consider these cookies for your holiday baking: they're chewy and gooey on the inside but sturdy on the outside, making them ideal for shipping or traveling with.

Also...Santa would totally love 'em. Just saying.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Oreo Cookies
At Thanksgiving, Michael's aunt was complaining that I hadn't shared a cookie recipe in too long. Well, Cindy, this one's for you! I told you I had one coming!!

In all fairness, though, I get disappointed when I go awhile without cookies too. 

Don't we all?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Post-Thanksgiving

Well...I was so busy enjoying my multiple Thanksgiving festivities that I did not have the opportunity to write today's post.

I'm sorry. Forgive me?

To help ease the pain of this loss, I figured I'd share a link from last year which includes a roundup of some great ways to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers!!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Something Saturdays (11/28/15)

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! How was Thanksgiving? Any plans for this weekend?

My week was mostly spent working-although I did go to Michael's youngest brother's school band concert (and no, not like "band" band...like...rock band band.)-it was awesome! Thursday was, obviously, Thanksgiving. We had lunch/dinner with Michael's stepmom's side of the family and then we drove to Youngstown for dinner with his mom's side of the family. It was super fun and we super stuffed ourselves, as always. Yesterday it was back to work, but I did get to spend some time with my best friend (who lives in St. Louis and I haven't seen since the wedding!)-so that was amazing! We had brunch at this great cafe/bakery that's  all organic/seasonal/local called The Blue Door Cafe. I had a waffle with chocolate pudding and vanilla sauce, and a croissant, and Alex got a corned beef hash with eggs and smoked bacon. We loved everything! Today I work and then I'm going to go spend some more time with Alex, as well as her family, and then Michael and I are having another Thanksgiving dinner at Michael's mom's with his siblings and then tomorrow is my mom's family's Thanksgiving. WOO! This is a lot of food, people.

I relate to every little bit of this sketch--from the ignorant and annoying dinner conversation to being unable to resist turning into Adele when "Hello" comes on:


Also-yay! The Honda commercial I was featured in is on YouTube! (It randomly came up as an advertisement while I was watching a video and I said "Hey! That's me!")

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Roasted Onion Brie Muffins

Roasted Onion Brie Muffins
I know! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!!! But if you haven't fully figured out what you're making...might I suggest these muffins as a unique alternative to rolls? Because you guys...they're awesome. You and your friends/family will loooove them!
Roasted Onion Brie Muffins
Savory muffins should be a more commonplace thing! They're so much easier to make than rolls and they're just as full of carb-y goodness and you can do so many different flavor combinations! Like.....seriously.....sweet roasted onions and buttery brie paired with just a hint of rosemary all in a slightly tangy buttermilk muffin....I WOULD HAVE NEVER THOUGHT OF IT but I am so glad that I tried it because...whoa. Delish. Addictive. Unique. And baking them makes your house smell amazing.
Roasted Onion Brie Muffins
I definitely suggest you make these if you're having a get-together (or if your family can eat 12 muffins) because these are really best the day that they're baked! And seriously...look at that muffin--look at the delicious roasted onions all up in there. And the melted brie on top. Om nom nom nom noooommm! Commence the eating!

Monday, November 23, 2015

One Pot Mexican Rice Casserole

One Pot Mexican Rice Casserole
Yepp. Another one-pot recipe. I'm serious about not doing dishes and feeding my hubby (seriously...if I don't feed him he gets all whiny and it's no fun. Ask anyone with an Italian husband lol.) Anyway, one of the beautiful things about this Mexican Rice Casserole recipe is you can definitely customize it based on your preferences! You can add in onions, peppers, corn, or any other veggies you fancy! You can also add in some cooked meat (so me making chicken and adding it sort of increased the dishes I needed to wash post this recipe but...that's ok! Plus you could just buy pre-prepared chicken or sausage or whatever and throw it in there to maintain the one-pot'dness.) And, although it's pretty healthy to begin with, you can make this dish even better for you by using brown rice (which I did!)
One Pot Mexican Rice Casserole
Regardless of any customization you decide to do, the base of the recipe is this: rice, veggies, spices, tomatoes, and cheeeese! It makes an awesome side dish or entree and is full of flavors! It's also colorful...which is pretty important for Michael and his food. He likes for food to be about more than just taste, he gets really into the textures and colors too. It's pretty hilarious, except when he's griping about how I make too many brown "bland" foods---but that's why I make recipes like this one! To keep me sane and make him happy! And so I can share the happiness and sanity-savingness with all of you. This "casserole" is a perfect weeknight meal and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Something Saturdays (11/21/15)

I had a great birthday weekend! I only wish I could've spent more time with my Michael-but we're planning on doing a just-the-two-of-us dinner soon for belated celebrations.

This week I just got things done and now I'm in the midst of a 7 day in a row work jag, that isn't over until Thanksgiving. Soooo that's what I'm doing this weekend, and trying to get other stuff done/spend time with my Michael :)


My Multi-Nut Butter was featured in this delicious round up of Nut Butter Recipes on Booya Fitness! AND my Coffee Ice Cream was featured in this round up on Fitness Magazine!


I've listened to a lot of "Hello" covers and the only one that even comes close to being as good as Adele is Demi Lovato! Speaking of...I was just waiting for a girl to do a smooth version of Hotline Bling and so I was super not surprised when Amy from The Voice did just that.


ANNNND you guys---I'm giving away a canvas print! Go and enter if you haven't already!

Friday, November 20, 2015

AdoramaPix Review & GIVEAWAY! (CLOSED)

AdoramaPix Review
Fun fact: after you get married...there are a lot of wedding pictures. And you want to put them up. So you have to order prints. And I was lucky enough to be able to order the majority of my wedding prints from AdoramaPix-a staple in the photography community (based out of my old stomping grounds, NY!) with unparalleled quality and fantastic prices! (Seriously...some of the most inexpensive photo printing prices that I've seen).

AdoramaPix Review
Although I ordered a bunch of different prints from AdoramaPix, the biggest thing that I got myself was a canvas print to hang above our fireplace. Since this picture is the centerpiece of our house...it was important that it turned out just right! The good news is AdoramaPix gave me everything I needed to create my perfect canvas. First I had to upload a high resolution image (and I learned that most images are sized for a maximum of an 16x20 print, luckily AdoramaPix's amazing customer service were able to take the image I gave them and create a larger file size that would give me better resolution at a larger print size! Seriously...the customer service team is above and beyond, they totally went out of their way to accommodate me at every turn!) and then I chose the size--there are existing size options but you can also do a custom size! We ended up going with a custom size: 18x24, large but not too large (and then you crop the photo as needed to fit the size you choose). Finally you have to choose what you want around the edges of the canvas--you can stretch the picture continuously around the borders, have it mirrored, or pick a color (the default is black, changing it is a smidge complicated--but usually black is the best choice anyway). My initial instinct was stretched, however Michael preferred the idea of a crisp black border and I have to say...he was right!  After making all these decisions you can view a preview of your print in 2D or 3D and then you place your order and they work their printing magic!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

One Pot Cajun Chicken Alfredo

One Pot Cajun Chicken Alfredo
Erm, I hate dishes. And I have a husband who is constantly needing variation in his cuisine (unlike me who is perfectly happy with all meat & potatoes, all the time). Soooo I'm getting really into the idea of making one pot meals for him. They're easy, the dirty pretty much 1 dish, and he gets something new to eat. I think we can all  agree that this is a win situation, yeah?
One Pot Cajun Chicken Alfredo
Michael has a mini love affair with New Orleans food--mind you, we haven't been to NOLA (yet) but when we go out to eat and a menu item says New Orleans or Cajun...Michael's probably going to order it. So I loved the idea of Cajun Chicken Alfredo! Not to mention--not only is this recipe quick and easy, and all made in one pot, BUT it also is made with ingredients you almost definitely already have (the Cajun seasoning is the only thing I needed to buy for this recipe, and I know Michael is happy that we now have that!) Oh yeah and...it's actually pretty healthy. Hooray!
One Pot Cajun Chicken Alfredo
Creamy, thick alfredo sauce (made from broth and milk-no heavy cream or butter!) that has that extra bit of Cajun spice envelops soft fettuccine noodles and perfectly seasoned chicken. Michael was definitely a fan, and I loved how simple the whole thing was. This will be getting made again...and again...and again....

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes Round Up

Thanksgiving is coming up! It'll be here before we know it, and I know a lot of us are scouring the internets for inspiration for what desserts we're going to make and serve this year! Sooo...I compiled a little list with some inspiration. I think any/all of these would be the perfect way to end your Thanksgiving feast!
Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes Round Up

(these are all listed as you see in the picture above--left to right, top to bottom)

This is a delicious twist on a Thanksgiving favorite--it's gooey and rich and salty and sweet!

French Silk Brownie Pie
3 layers of delicious--brownie, mousse, and homemade whipped cream.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies
Sometimes it's nice to have something that's easy to grab on Thanksgiving, and these cookies allow you to enjoy the classic pumpkin flavors without needing a fork!

Mini Apple Pies
Classic apple pie in individual (portable) serving sizes! This is one of Michael's faves.

Pumpkin Pie with Whole Wheat Crust and Cinnamon Caramel Whipped Cream
A healthier, somewhat gourmet, twist on my favorite Thanksgiving pie!

Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Pie Crust
Shoofly pies are totally perfect for Thanksgiving! And this chocolate pecan version is even better!

Chocolate Decadence
One of my all time favorite desserts--decadent, dense, flourless chocolate cake. Sure to impress!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
Another one of my favorites-this is the pie version of a chocolate chip cookie. Incredibly gooey and rich and delicious!

Pumpkin Cookie Bars with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
Another way to experience all the flavors of pumpkin pie but in the form of a cookie bar!

Peanut Butter Caramel Pie
If you like gooey caramel and peanut butter...then you'll love this pie.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
The perfect, foolproof, recipe for decadent chocolate lava cakes! They're always impressive but SO easy to make (and you can make them ahead of time and then bake when needed!)

Vanilla Honey Shortbread Pie
This pie is pure comfort.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Something Saturdays (11/14/15)

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND!!!  YIPPEEEEEE!!!  Yesterday (my actual bday) I went to Chagrin Falls with my brother and we had Jeni's Ice Cream and burgers at FlipSide. Then it was opening night for our old high school's fall play (which I assistant directed and Michael's sister stars in). After the show we went to dinner with Michael's best friend (the director) and their friend Andrew, his wife, Michael's mom, and Michael's brother and his girlfriend. It was super fun :)
Today I have to work but then later Michael and I are meeting up with my friends Deanna and Kinsley for a triple date at B Spot. And tomorrow I work and then my mom and brother are going to come up and we'll go out for my birthday dinner :)

But let's back up to last weekend: Saturday, after I worked, we went to Michael's best friend's house because his daughters were visiting. The youngest (who is almost 2) for some reason decided Michael was her favorite and kept yelling "MichaelMichaeeel!" and it made me outrageously jealous. Then we went and spent a few hours at Michael's mom's. Sunday (again...after work) we went to eat with some of Michael's work friends at a place called BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. The food and beer were all fantastic but...dessert. Guys, I have 4 words for you: Peanut. Butter. S'mores. Pizookie. OMGEEE-sooo good.

The rest of the week was mostly full of me helping with rehearsals and working and getting stuff done.

Michael aspires to be BatDad.

Bahahaa this article about sleepovers for people born in the 80's/90's.

I LOVE Sesame Street and this round up of some of their most fantastic parodies made me have all the giggles.

FINALLY! My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is happening:


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So Delicious Dairy Free® Frozen Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie {Vegan, No-Bake}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DairyFree4All #CollectiveBias
So Delicious Dairy Free® Frozen Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie {Vegan, No-Bake}
I'm not dairy-free but that hasn't stopped me from lusting after So Delicious Dairy Free® frozen treats. I've long seen them and made a note to myself, "Hey...those look yummalicious. You should get them sometime." So when I had the opportunity to create a dairy-free recipe using So Delicious, I RAN to the frozen section of my closest Walmart! I was faced with a dizzying array of amazing options...but my heart was stolen when I laid eyes on their Cashew Salted Caramel Cluster and Cashew Dark Chocolate Truffle. Sweet and salty cashew milk based frozen dessert with chocolate covered cashews and ribbons of salted caramel? HEAVEN. Fair trade cocoa (also cashew milk based) frozen goodness folded with fudge and shaved chocolate? OMIGOSH YES.
So Delicious Dairy Free® Frozen Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie {Vegan, No-Bake}
So Delicious Dairy Free® Frozen Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie {Vegan, No-Bake}
Now...before I could create a recipe...I had to at least give each of the frozen desserts a try. And I can 100% confidently attest that they were RICH, DECADENT, CREAMY, and seriously insanely delicious. I think I'm a complete convert--I've gone So Delicious Dairy Free® and I don't think I can go back! It's seriously so unbelievable that they are:
  • Certified Vegan
  • Dairy-Free and Egg-Free
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Cholesterol-free
  • No artificial colors, flavors, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, or preservatives
  • No high-fructose corn syrup
  • Always 100% plant-based
  • Certified Kosher
Like....WHAAAT? Not to mention the fact that many of their products are also made with organic ingredients. Be still my good-food-lovin' heart: no wonder So Delicious Dairy Free® has been a dairy-free staple for more than 25 years! Seriously...their products are outstandingly delicious and something you can feel good about eating (or drinking...or licking..)
So Delicious Dairy Free® Frozen Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie {Vegan, No-Bake}
I decided the perfect way to highlight the 2 delectable pints of So Delicious Dairy Free® goodness that I picked up was in the form of a vegan (and, obviously, dairy-free) frozen pie! The base is a perfect, no-bake, chocolate cookie crust. Then there's a layer of the Cashew Salted Caramel Cluster, topped with a layer of Cashew Dark Chocolate Truffle. And the finishing touch? You cover the entire pie with vegan salted caramel sauce (which you are more than welcome to buy, but I have included a recipe below!) This pie is the perfect melding of flavors, everything balances so nicely and it all tastes deliiiicious together! The alternating layers of chocolate and caramel. The crunchy crust, creamy frozen filling, and gooey caramel. The perfect marriage of salty and sweet. A dessert that can be enjoyed by practically everyone-vegan or not!  Guys...this is a good one, you're going to LUHVE it. The name does not lie....it really is: SO DELICIOUS!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Pasta

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Pasta
Caramelized onion lovers only need apply.

..or, you know, not....I suppose you could always make the sauce and omit the onions. If that's the sort of path you want to take in life. Whatev. You do you, boo.

But I highly recommend the onions.
Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Pasta
Psssttt...I also have a fun fact about this pasta for you....IT'S HEALTHY! The "sauce" is made from Greek yogurt, roasted garlic, and broth (I used chicken broth but if you're vegetarian you can use vegetable broth). If you're skeptical about the Greek yogurt, and worried it might be too tangy---um...don't be. I am NOT a tangy person, I do not care for that flavor profile. But I loved this pasta (it helps if you use a brand of Greek yogurt that's less tangy, like Fage, and also...those caramelized onions help too. Seriously. Just use 'em.)
Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Pasta
Parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, caramelized onions...all over a big bowl of carbs!

...This might be my idea of heaven. If there are cookies for dessert than yeah, I'm definitely reaching a personal state of Nirvana with this situation. Thank you, pasta....thank you.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Something Saturdays (11/7/15)

I just had an hour and a half long phone call that has been long over due with my best friend (who lives in St. Louis), so I'm pretty happy right now :)

How was your Halloween? I worked and then Michael and I went to his dad's to help hand out candy to trick-or-treaters and eat dinner, which was fun! Then we went and spent some time with his mom and siblings....and we ended up playing Rock Band until 3AM. This is what happens when you hang out with a college-aged person. Sunday my cousin Emily (the one who lives in NY) was able to stop over and visit with us for a little bit, which is always so fun! Then Michael and I proceeded to do nothing but watch Parks and Rec all day (we're on the 5th season!)

Other than that I just have been doing more help with my old high school's rehearsals for the play-which is next weekend. I'm a little concerned because pretty much no one is memorized (at least not completely) soooo that's scary. And my brother and I hung out on Wednesday because that's our new official hang out day (O'Charleys has this thing called Free Pie Wednesday and he goes crazy for it).

Life has been pretty good, all in all :)

Jimmy Kimmel does this every year and it never gets old:



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Now this is MY KIND of ice cream! After making two wonderful (but not up my personal alley) batches of ice cream for Michael, I finally made some for ME*!

*Ok...it's for both of us. I'm still nice, I share.
Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream
My current favorite ice cream flavor (aside from Jeni's Salty Caramel), that I order when I go to most places, is dark chocolate with peanut butter swirl. I need the chocolate to be chocolatey (none of that sub-par, barely chocolatey ice cream for me!) and I need the pb swirl to be nutty and gratuitous--no skimping on the peanut butter!!! This recipe is everything I want! It's rich and the chocolate flavor is perfect, and there is PLENTY of salty and nutty peanut buttery goodness swirled up in there.
Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Bonus? The recipe is super easy and egg-free. I won't say that it's healthy but...it's not as bad for you as it could be (no egg yolks mean lower fat, dark chocolate is good for you, and the peanut butter swirl is created from just mixing peanut butter and coconut oil together!) For ideal peanut buttery results...I suggest you make homemade crunchy peanut butter. It's the perfect accompaniment to the chocolate ice cream. If you like rich desserts then this is for you! It also makes the perfect amount---not so much that you can't make it all at once in your ice cream maker, but enough that you won't run out too quickly. This is definitely a winner all around!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Soup season is here, everyone! And I had yet to make a chicken noodle soup recipe that I liked (a couple ill-fated attempts in the past resulted in ridiculously bland, giant batches of soup). Sure I had a chicken and potato chowder that I was (and still am) obsessed with, but we all need a simple chicken noodle soup recipe in our repertoire, no?
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Yes! And this turned out to be the perfect one. Michael and I both prefer heartier soups, so the fact that this is a creamy chicken noodle soup helps add to it. And if you're concerned about your waistline-don't be! The creaminess comes from fat-free evaporated milk, so you can have your soup and eat it too! It's comforting and classic and I know we're all going to be happy to have this when someone inevitably comes down with a cold* (or at least if we come home after a chilly day and need something to warm us up the way only soup can!) And it's actually pretty quick to make! Soup for everyone!

*Fingers crossed nobody gets a cold...ever.
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