November 26, 2014

Grandma's Leek Soup

This post is sponsored by Sister Schubert's. A cup of Grandma's creamy velvety Leek Soup accompanied by Sister Schubert's Yeast Rolls is the perfect first course for your special occasion meal or holiday dinner.

I grew up in a big family and I am so thankful for that. There were six of us, so every holiday felt like a party even if it was just us. I have three sisters. We're like stair steps with two years between each of us, so it was like having built-in best friends growing up.

Over the years, my parents made an effort to make all of the holidays special for me and my three sisters. We got dressed to the nines on Easter Sunday and hunted for colored eggs, we banged on pots and pans with wooden spoons at midnight on New Years Eve, and we had our annual sisterly meeting on Christmas Eve to plan on who would wake up first so that we had an organized plan for Christmas morning.

November 24, 2014

Mini Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

Mini Pepperoni Pizza Puffs are cheesy pepperoni filled pizza bites that are cooked until golden and puffed in a mini muffin tin.  They're super easy to make and perfect to serve as an appetizer or an afternoon snack.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs | | Dip them in a little pizza sauce and they're itty bitty bites of pizza heaven!

I am always on the hunt for appetizer ideas.  First, because I could eat just appetizer food for every meal and I'd be totally okay with that.  Second, because whenever we go to get-togethers I like to bring along an appetizer to share.  It would get awfully boring if I brought the same thing again and again, don't you think?

I've made these several times and they are the perfect little bite-sized finger food! They bake up into golden puffs that just a little crispy, but soft and cheesy on the inside.  Dip them in a little pizza sauce and they're itty bitty bites of pizza heaven!

November 20, 2014

Taste of Home Online Cooking School Review

For over a year now, I have had the honor of partnering with Taste of Home as Taste Ad Network Publisher and Taste of Home editorial partner.  I've been a long time fan of Taste of Home, so I am thrilled be a part of their network of Bloggers!  Pretty cool, right?  I think so.

I'm sure that you know Taste of Home is all about delicious recipes, but did you know that there are Taste of Home's Cooking School events happening nationwide?  At the LIVE Cooking School shows, Culinary Specialists engage with participants and share their favorite home cooking tips and tricks while demonstrating step-by-step recipes for the season’s best dishes.  Sounds like lots of fun to me!  You can check out to see if there's a Cooking School Live Event in your area here.

If you can’t make it to a live show or if online school is more your thing, well, I have good news for you!  On October 1st Taste of Home launched their new Taste of Home Cooking School ONLINE!


November 19, 2014

The Best Homemade Egg Rolls

These are the BEST Homemade Egg Rolls made with seasoned ground pork and fresh vegetables tightly rolled up in egg roll wrappers, then fried to crispy delicious perfection.

The Best Homemade Egg Rolls |

I've never been much of a fan of Chinese take-out.  I know for some people Chinese food night is just as frequent as pizza night.  But, since I'm not a fan, we don't eat Chinese very much at all.  Which is a shame for my husband because he quite likes it.

I found a recipe for egg rolls a while back when I was browsing on the internet planning my menu for the week.  I seldomly venture into the realm of making Chinese at home, and if I do it's some kind of stir-fry or fried rice.  Not beautiful, golden, crispy egg rolls.

But, I thought I'd give them  a go because I knew my husband would love them.  The recipe I was inspired by didn't look too tough!

November 17, 2014

Asian Broccoli Stalk Salad

Asian Broccoli Stalk Salad is a crunchy and fresh salad that features thinly sliced raw broccoli stems topped with soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and crushed red pepper.

Asian Broccoli Stalk Salad | | Shaved raw broccoli stems drizzled with soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and crushed red pepper.

Okay, guys.  I know that this recipe might sound a little strange to some of you.  Bear with me here because this recipe will change the way you look at broccoli forever.

Yes, this salad is made with just broccoli stalks.  Mild, crunchy, fresh, delicious broccoli stalks.

You know, the part you usually throw away.  So many people throw them away (including me), but did you know that broccoli stalks are 100% edible and hold just as much nutrition as the crowns?  Because I did not know that until I saw it in a magazine.

I mean, I guess I should have assumed they were tasty, because I've seen hunks of stems in soups before.  I suppose I thought they had to be cooked to be yummy.  I was so wrong.  The stems have a milder broccoli flavor than florets and are fresh and very light tasting.  If you're a broccoli fan, never throw away the stalk again.  You're going to love this salad!

November 12, 2014

Best Ever Crock Pot Cowboy Beans

Crock Pot Cowboy Beans are a hearty and filling side dish made with a pound a beef, a pound of bacon, and three kinds of beans, all slow-simmered in a sweet and tangy brown sugar molasses sauce.

Best Ever Cowboy Beans |

You'll have to forgive me for the quality of this photo.  I took it on the fly and never bothered to check if the image was totally in focus.  Apparently I was moving a liiiittle too quickly in my rush to take a last minute shot that I shook the camera, as you can obviously see.  Shame on me.  I am not being a very good food blogger when I take crappy photos.

Every time we have a party or when we host holiday celebrations, I always have the best of intentions to photograph my new recipes, I swear I do.  This time was just like all of the others.  I get all wrapped up in last minute cleaning, getting myself and the kids ready, and making sure all of the food is plated, that I forget to take pictures.  I usually remember when the party is in full swing and people are chowing down.

I have a bunch of awful party food photo shots.  Check out this one of my Caramelized Onion Dip with Bacon.  Or how about this one of my Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings with Kicked-Up Ranch.  Embarrassing.  Ah, well.  Maybe one of these days I'll get to planning a little better and get better shots of my party food.

Awful photograph or not, these beans were so yummy.  And indulgent.  Usually when a recipe calls for a pound of bacon, I say, "Where do I sign up?"  They were the talk of my little guy's second birthday party!

November 10, 2014

Bow Tie Sausage Lasagna and an Easy-Off® Oven Cleaner Review

This post is sponsored by Easy-Off® Oven Cleaner. Bow Tie Sausage Lasagna is a twist on the classic Italian favorite that features bold Italian sausage and farfalle pasta in place of lasagna noodles.

Sometimes cooking can be messy. There have been so many times when my kitchen looks like a bomb has gone off after I finish preparing a meal. Over the years I've gotten better at keeping the counters tidy as I cook by putting ingredients away as I use them and utilizing a garbage bowl if I've got a lot of vegetable prep to do.

While I try my best to keep the countertops in order so my perfectionist brain doesn't explode due to kitchen chaos, there's one place in the kitchen where the mess is out of my hands, so to speak. That messy corner of my kitchen is the inside of my oven. Once I close the door and leave the oven to do it's work, the messes that occur during the cooking know, like bubbling over pies or casseroles, dripping sweet potatoes, oozing pizza toppings...those kinds of messes? They're the ones that make my oven a mess.

My oven's an old girl, but boy does she have character. Let me introduce you to my avocado green 1979 Magic Chef oven.

November 5, 2014

Homemade Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks

Homemade Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks are made using fresh fish fillets that are cut into strips, coated in seasoned panko breadcrumbs, then baked in the oven until they are perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Homemade Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks |

When I was growing up, frozen fish sticks were one of the regular meals in our family's dinner rotation.  Occasionally my Mom would make fresh catfish nuggets, but the frozen guys were the norm.  While I wasn't a seafood fan at the time, there's something very kid-friendly about foods in stick or nugget form, so I ate them happily dunked in ketchup.

Now that I'm a mom, I started buying bags of frozen fish sticks when they would go on sale for quick lunches or dinners for my kids.  They, just like their momma, scarffed them right down with no complaints.

It wasn't until the other day that it dawned on me to make my own fish sticks at home.  My step-dad is an avid fisherman and catches boatloads of fish on his excursions through the flats of the Intracoastal Waterway.  Sometimes, when I'm lucky, he shares some of the fillets from his fresh catches.  I ususally freeze what he gives me to make for myself, since my hubby's not a big fan of seafood.  The other day he gave me a gorgeous fillet and my mom suggested I make fish sticks with it.  I thought to myself, huh....why haven't I done that before?  So I made them.

Holy delicious homemade crispy baked fish sticks, batman.  I mean they were good good.  The best part?  They took like 10 minutes to throw together and the kids LOVED them.  Bye bye frozen, hello fresh!  My daughter couldn't get over how they were super crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Perfect!  You will love these, guaranteed!  I can't wait to make them again.
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