Monday, August 18, 2014

Fun Food Care Package for New Moms

For living in such a small town this summer has been the year of the BABY.  Not only are all my friends having babies, but I had one too!
We are now 3 months in having baby number #3 in our house.  I will say the transition from two to three kids has been the hardest.  The husband and I can no longer each take "one" and tackle the day ahead of us.  And since I'm breastfeeding the baby is always with me.  I call her my partner in crime.
Now that we have hit our third month, things are getting a bit easier.  Our middle child seems to finally be a bit more tolerant to her new sister and with the baby sleeping through the night, everyone seems a bit less tired.
If there is one thing I absolutely LOVED about coming home with a new baby was the out pouring love from friends and family.  For the first two weeks after she was born our fridge was stocked to the nine's with meals and snacks.
Beef enchiladas, meatloaf, twice baked potatoes, spaghetti, salads, beef stroganoff, fresh fruit, cookies....the list was endless.
The best feeling for a new mommy is not having to worry what to make for dinner when you are elbows deep in diaper changes, feedings and sleepless nights.

In the past week I had one friend also have her third child and as we speak another is waiting to deliver.  Yesterday I went to visit her and delivered this care package as well.
What I packed up:
  • Freshly cut watermelon
  • Homemade chicken salad
  • Fresh garden salsa
  • Bag of tortilla chips
  • Chocolate chip cookies
You see sometimes I make a "meal" and sometimes I just make up some random stuff like today.  Chicken salad to grab a quick sandwich for lunch, chips and salsa for an afternoon snack, fresh fruit for anytime of the day and of course cookies.

Because every new mom NEEDS COOKIES.

Or is that just me?

So the next time you have a new baby cruising around consider take them this food care package.  Trust me, as a new mom (three times over) I enjoyed homemade meals made with love over a new onesie any day.
What have you taken new moms?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Restaurant Style Chicken Strips

First off, let me give credit where credit is due.  My friend Jenny shared her homemade chicken finger recipe with me the other day.  I was craving these for some reason, but had never had much luck with making them homemade.
So I took a look at her recipe, tweaked it a bit and made it my own.  Thanks for the inspiration Jenny!
We no longer purchase chicken nuggets, fingers, strips, whatever you want to call them from the grocery store.  Ugh, I just cannot get myself to eat those, let alone my kids.  Have you seen the ingredients on the backs of those bags?  Not exactly "food".
With sweet corn already on the menu the night I made these, along with some baked beans, I figured this night was as good as night to try them out.  I will say I cooked these outside.  I cannot stand the smell of things pan frying in my house.  Yuck.
The verdict?
Super good!  We all liked them, dipping them in barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.  Killer crunchy, just like you would order off a menu in a restaurant.
Instead of deep frying like Jenny did, I pan fried them in coconut oil.  Have you used coconut oil for cooking yet?  You need to!  No, it will not make your food taste like coconuts.  I buy mine off Amazon.  You can purchase yours here.
I also rub coconut oil on all of my kids boo-boos {which is a lot!}, but using it for beauty and health regimens is a whole 'nother post!
Oh...and before I share the recipe, I wanted to share the photo of the Little Miss that we took on vacation.  It pretty much sums up her personality.  She can turn it on and off like a light switch.  Very dramatic, yet super sweet, all while acting like she is 18 instead of 3.  We have our hands full with her.
And by the way, she loved these chicken strips!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Butterscotch Funfetti Birthday Blondies

Yep, you guessed it.  Today is my birthday.  And with birthdays come sprinkles.  As sprinkles make everything better right?
I've always loved having a summer birthday.  Growing up I'd have huge birthday parties with my friends.  Our house growing up had a big wrap around screened in porch and we'd spend the afternoon and evening at the pool {I lived just a block away from the city pool}, then we'd proceed to all spend the night sleeping out on the porch.  Usually half the group was back inside before their eyelids shut {if they shut at all}, but it was fun. 
I have great memories of my birthday parties.  They were never anything fancy, but since it was the dog days of summer it always involved swimming and being outside.  Kudos to my parents for letting 10+ teenage girls stay over at our house.

Another fun tradition we had growing up was choosing our birthday meal and dessert.  Whatever we wanted our mom made.  Sticking with the summer theme, I usually picked hamburgers on the grill, potato salad and baked beans.  For dessert?  More often then not yellow cake with chocolate frosting {double layered, of course}.
It must be rubbing off on my kids as the little man asked me today what cake I wanted for my birthday.  I'm still trying to decided if I'll make myself a cake {seems kinda weird} or just remember the taste of these wonderful blondies we made a few days ago.
Oh, and Mom?  If you are reading, your grandson is already requesting strawberry cake with strawberry frosting, lot of sprinkles, along with diggers and Lightning McQueen on top of his cake next month.
Quite the combo, huh?

Until then, make these blondies.  Your kids will love dumping in the sprinkles and you will love the deep, rich butterscotch flavor.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Garden Skillet Green Beans

I'll admit I'm not that great about posting tasty vegetable dishes on this blog.  Sorry.  Even now, I'm giving you one that includes bacon.  Again, sorry.
But here's the thing.  If I'm going to eat a ton of vegetables I want to enjoy them.  And let me tell you, I enjoyed these.  I even reheated them for lunch the next day.  WHICH NEVER HAPPENS.
My kids gobbled them up and frankly right now, I'm just waiting to get my hands on more beans to make these again.

You know what else is funny?
My three year old gets baked beans and green beans switched around all the time.  She went with me to the grocery store yesterday and announced to the aisle, and when I say announced to the aisle I mean, YELLED to the entire grocery store, how we need to buy these canned baked beans when they were really green beans and vice versa.
To see the confusion on everyone's faces was both hilarious and frustrating for me and her.
Anyway, just another day in my life.

Enough chit chat and lets get to these beans!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Homemade Pork Egg Rolls

I've been blessed to make many friends in the blog world, some of which live in the same town as me!  A couple of weeks back I met up with Michelle and Kelli at Michelle's house {or should I say barn?}.
Anyway, she served us egg rolls for lunch.  I was in heaven.  I had eyeballed her recipe a long, long time ago but never got around to trying them.  I mean, they are a bit intimidating right?
Well folks, they AREN'T intimidating.  Now that I've made them once, I'll be making them time and time again.
You should have seen my husband's face when I announced one morning that I was making egg rolls for eye roll may have been involved.  He's used to me trying different foods on him, but I really think this time he thought I had lost my mind.
I mean who really makes their own egg rolls?  Don't we all just order them with our Chinese food and call it good?  Yeah, pretty much.
After he gave me a hard time, I just set out to prove him wrong.
He ate 15 that night for dinner.
Fifteen, y'all.
In fact I think he had about 4 down by the time I finally sat down from taking some photos of them.  He absolutely loved them.  And my kids?  They loved them too!  You never know how it is going to go with kids when putting them in front of a new food, especially one filled with vegetables.  

I know I have been going on and on about how easy these are, but if you still aren't convinced, one way to make these even easier is to make up the filling the day prior.  Then when ready to eat, just fill and pan fry for a quick meal.

I have some egg roll wrappers left in the fridge and I'm just dying to make some of these up again.  But I'm refraining.  Actually the husband is making me refrain, he's afraid he eat over half the batch again.

I based my egg roll recipe loosely on Michelle's, but feel free to change it up anyway you'd like too.  Swap out the ground pork with beef or chicken.  Add different veggies.  Make these your own people!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Make Refrigerated Dill Pickles


If you have a garden right now you are probably knee deep in either cucumbers or zucchini.  Both of these veggies take off like wild fire in the right conditions, of which we've had here in the Midwest.
I have one child who will gladly chomp on a cucumber and I have one child that will only eat them after I beg and pledge and let her dip them in ranch dressing.  The husband and I both like them, but honestly when you have so many you have to find other things to do with them.
One of god's greatest gifts was turning a cucumber into a pickle.  I've loved dill pickles for as long as I can remember.  {Sweet pickles, not so much, sorry all you sweet pickle fans}.
Making my own?  Ha.  I had never even thought about doing that till this year.  Not being a huge fan of canning {I know....} I thought I'd try my hat at refrigerator pickles.  Sounded simple enough!
One night after I had all three kids in bed, I took to the kitchen and got started.  Shockingly, just about 30 minutes later I was done!  I was surprised at how quick it went, not to mention very easy.
I made another batch today and gave them to a good friend as we will be on vacation this week.  I hope she likes them as much as we do!
I will admit they taste a bit different than store bought ones, but they are very good.  Super crunchy, vinegary, with that taste of dill and garlic that I love.  And what is even better?  None of that fake junk you will often read on your pickle jar ingredients.  {Seriously, read what is in your pickle jar, I was shocked to read mine the other day}.
Give these beauties a try!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

20+ Summer Desserts


Summer isn't over yet!
Yes, it is already August, but that still gives us one FULL month of summer fun.  And with summer fun comes barbecues, family gatherings and lazy evenings on the deck soaking in that last bit of sunshine.
I recently asked my fellow Iowa bloggers to send me some of their favorite quick and easy summer desserts.  Because no party or gathering is complete without dessert.  In fact, I would call a party a failure if dessert wasn't served at the end.  Right?
All of these are fresh, most with 10 ingredients or less and super flavorful!  Take a moment to cruise around these pages and pick a dessert to make for your family before the month is out.
Remember summer is about food, family and fun.  Don't let September come by having regretting not relishing every summery moment.
1.  Fresh Fruit Cheesecake Cookie Cups - Two Kids and a Coupon
2.  Wonton Wrapper Berry Pies - Make the Best of Everything
3.  Chocolate Strawberry Tart - City Girl, Country Life
4.  Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream - Blissfully Delicious
5.  Caramel Pecan Peach Crumble Bars - Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats
6.  Pretzel Crusted Fruit Pizza - Been There Baked That
7.  Easy Berry Cake - Blissfully Delicious
8.  How to Make Ice Cream in Your KitchenAid Mixer - Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats
9.  Lemon Almond Pull Apart Bread - Farm Eats, City Streets
10.  Pineapple Yogurt Soft Serve - Make the Best of Everything
11.  Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Cupcakes - Simplify, Live, Love
12.  Double Decker Brownie Pizza - Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats
13.  Grammie's Mint Brownies - Life in Kenzie's Kitchen
14.  The Perfect Cheesecake - Food & Swine
15.  Easy Peasy Pie - City Girl, Country Life
16.  Strawberry Ice Cream - Blissfully Delicious
17.  Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Pita Chips - Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats
18.  Summer Fruit Snack Cups - Simplify, Live, Love
19.  Peanut Butter M&M Blonde Brownies - Farm Eats, City Streets
20.  Strawberry Caramel Crepes - Chez Bonne Femme
21.  Lighter Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake - Food & Swine
22.  Girl Scout Crunch Ice Cream Parfaits - Simple, Live, Love
23.  Blueberry Muffin Loaf - Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats

I'm drooling.

I have SO many of these I want to try before month end.  You know me, when I'm bored I bake.  So here's to hoping I'm not too bored during the month of August, as we'll be on dessert overload!

Out of the 23 listed, which one excites you the most?  Leave a comment and let me know!