Buffalo Chicken Nugget Wraps

I have decided I hate vegetables.  And fruits.  And all I want to eat is cheese, bread, and meat.  Pretty typical mental state when I decide it’s time to shed pounds.  Sigh…one of these days I’ll reach my goal weight again!

In the meantime, I scour several websites looking for the next yummy meal I can eat to help me get to that weight I desire.  Skinnytaste (as I’ve mentioned several times in the past) is one of my favorites.  She has a ton of great meals and even inspired me to ask for an Instant Pot for Christmas.

The other day I was checking out my Instagram feed when I happened upon one of her posts for Buffalo Chicken Nuggets.  Well…this is right up my alley.  We in Casa de Bethany love anything buffalo.  Except for Jake.  He’s kind of a wuss.  I mean he’s five but still.

She served her nuggets with bleu cheese on a skewer, but I decided to make a meal out of mine.  One thing I decided to change…she did about half regular bread crumbs and half panko.  I prefer some extra crunch so next time I’m going to do at least ¾ panko (if not the whole mixture).

Note:  these nuggets aren’t spicy at all.  In fact, Jeff stated that he would have liked them to be even more spicy.  I could have easily remedied that by using the Franks Red Hot like the recipe called for instead of the Buffalo wing sauce I chose.  Her stuff tends to be a little spicier than I like, so I was a little nervous.  Next time, I’ll go with the Original Franks.

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Buffalo Chicken Nugget Wraps
(adapted from Skinnytaste)

½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chili powder (or more if you like it hotter)
⅛ tsp black pepper
½ cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil spray
2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot Original sauce
2 tsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
Ranch dressing
Iceberg lettuce

Preheat oven to 425°.  In a shallow dish, combine garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, black pepper, and panko bread crumbs.  In a separate shallow dish, combine hot sauce and olive oil.  Dip chicken chunks into the hot sauce mixture then the bread crumb mixture.  Place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Lightly spray bread crumbs with olive oil spray.

Bake at 425° for 8-10 minutes then flip.  Spray once more with cooking spray and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.  Serve in lettuce cups with ranch dressing.

For a delicious side dish, try my Zucchini Crisps!

 

A Year of Jake

Years ago, when I started this blog, I wrote about everything.  Food, Dayton, food, the weather, food, pregnancy, food.  Eventually those posts about non-food related things sort of fell off.  My blog turned into a food blog and, while that’s perfectly fine, I wanted to return to my roots so to speak.  I have an increasingly terrible memory.  It’s actually quite alarming sometimes that I can’t remember things.  Therefore, I am going to add more non-food things back to the blog.  I want to look back ten years from now, read what I wrote and think “YES!  I do remember that now!”  Thank goodness I was a life blogger when I was pregnant!

In the spirit of this notion, I would like to take a look back at some of my favorite pictures of my family from 2016.  It’s not too far into 2017 to do that, right?

img_1434The year started off with celebrating our friend, Anderson’s, 4th birthday.  He’s the little dark haired boy behind Jake.  This kid is so sweet and a great friend to my little buddy.  Super hero and little boys go so great together!  Anderson’s mom, Shannon, was amazing!  She had all kinds of fun little games for the kids to play including walking a balance beam and smashing ice cream cones with hulk hands!  Plus she got a DONUT CAKE from a local donut shop here.  Since this party I’ve ordered at least three more!  It was amazing…

IMG_2135.jpegIn March, we flew to Fort Myers for a weeklong vacation to see my parents (Grandpa John and Grandma Nan) at their winter home.  Jake loved the heated pool they had and asked to go swimming at least three times a day.  We could barely get him out!  This trip was when we started ignoring naps.  We tried to get him to take a nap the first day, but all the excitement was too much for him and he couldn’t sleep.  He did pretty good temperament wise and even stayed up until his normal 9PM bedtime!Fort Myers.jpgThis kid is definitely a beach baby though.  He loved swimming in the ocean and collecting sea shells.  We also took a trip to an alligator preservation and saw live alligators from an air boat!  What a cool experience!

img_2703As you may know, I work for Walgreens and in May it was Red Nose Day!  From March to May, we sold red noses to benefit several charities all around the world.  If you aren’t familiar with the program, you should definitely click on the link above!  It’s an awesome organization that helps millions of children all over the planet.

img_2753Jake went on his first field trip this year too.  They went to see “Duck for President” at a local theater.  Apparently it was super cute and the kids had an awesome time!

img_2773Grandma Peggy came for a visit in April and stayed for a week.  We hung out with her on her first night here at one of her favorite local spots, Dewey’s.  If you’re a local and you haven’t tried it yet, you need to figure out a way!  Awesome pizza and salad!

img_2831This goofy face makes me smile every single day.  There’s no significance to this picture other than that.  Pure silliness in this child and I love him more and more each day because of it.

img_2970Another random photo that I loved of us.  Here we were, waiting on Daddy to order Subway sandwiches for us and I snapped this.  Cute kid.  Love him!

Jake also played on TWO soccer teams this year.  He played at the YMCA in the spring and a local team during the fall.  Parents…be warned.  “Fall” soccer starts in the summer and man those games are HOT!  I was just sitting on the sidelines and I think I lost a gallon of water in sweat.  I felt kind of bad for the kiddos having to run around during the game, but they didn’t seem to mind.  Also…fun fact…Jake got the number 6 for this jersey during the summer soccer season.  This was Daddy’s soccer number all through childhood and high school.  I love it!

img_3550Jake received an apron and oven mitts from Grandma Peggy because of his interest in cooking.  He still loves to help in the kitchen and is getting better and better every week!  I bought him a set of kid’s knives to help him practice but I keep forgetting to pull them out.  Definitely adding this to the winter to do list since we’re stuck inside so much.

img_3566Did I mention he loves to swim?!  He graduated from his level 4 swimming class this summer and is now in level 5.  He’s got some skills to learn still but he has zero fear of the water!  I can’t wait to take him swimming this summer.  Last summer, he was just tall enough to stand in the shallow end and not have the water go over his nose.  He’s grown even more (obviously) so next year I will be even less nervous to let him swim without us in the water with him.  Luckily, one of his cousins is 10 and loves to swim too.  She’s a great “babysitter” in the water.

img_3693Another first for our family this year was camping!  Jeff’s sister, her husband, their three girls, and our family all camped out at a lake close by.  We spent one night under the stars, which was a perfect introduction for us into camping.  I think everyone loved it.  Some more than others!  I need a cot next time I think.  I’m a princess.  I know.

img_3784We also spent a ton of time at the splash park!  These kids are awesome and they love playing in the water.  There is also a regular park adjacent to the splash park, so they can run back and forth.  Several moms and I had a standing Monday night date during the summer. We would pack food and bring it to the park so we could eat and the boys could play.  It was amazing and I can’t wait to go back in a few months!

I also love that Jake met most of the kids he is friends with now when they were infants at the day care we go to.  I’m hoping they will continue these friendships for a very, very long time because not only are the kids great, but the moms are too.  We have a standing Girl’s Night once a month to eat, drink wine, and catch up.  It’s a wonderful thing.

 

Again, no significance in this picture.  I just love how cute he looked in his little Tommy polo shirt.  Does that even make sense?  It’s not a Polo shirt, yet it’s a polo shirt.  Anyhow…

Jake took his first official train ride this year!  After one of his soccer games, we drove to a nearby town, where they have a train they dress up with various themes.  They often do Thomas because that’s a no-brainer.  They also do the Polar Express, which we wanted to do this year, but didn’t get tickets in time.  A fun part about this day was that Jake’s friend Jack, who had moved away to Columbus earlier in the year, was able to come down and play!

img_6358One of the most fun things we did last year was going to Anna Maria Island, a “funky little town on the coast” or so my t-shirt says.  Guys, this place ROCKS.  It’s so cute and quaint, with just enough to do that you don’t get bored.  The town is very easy to navigate and has a free public trolley that goes all along Anna Maria and nearby Bradenton and Holmes Beaches.  It’s just a short drive away from Sarasota and Bradenton, too, so you’re never too far from anything.  We got a place right on the beach and spent tons of time in the ocean and looking for shells.

Jake even surfed for the first time!

We went with our friends, Kristy and Will.  It was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go back!

Grandma Peggy came back in the fall and brought her partner, Grandpa Wes, with her.  One of the outings we took them to was the Renaissance Festival, a must for us every year. Jake LOVED riding the camel and I think the grandparents liked the interesting people.  Plus, of course, they got to hang out with their favorite little man!

We also checked out another local place, EnterTrainment Junction, for Colin’s 5th birthday.  He’s the one in front in the train picture.  Colin is the sweetest, most loving kid on the planet.  He’s always got a great, goofy smile on his face and an infectious laugh.  The kids loved how HUGE the place was and of course the train theme was top notch.  Jake asked if he could have his birthday party there a few months later!  He always wants his parties where Colin had his.  First Chuck E Cheese (no, kid) and now this place!

img_7722We also introduced our new neighbors and fellow day care members to one of our favorite Fall traditions…”haunted” hay rides at Windmill Farms!  We go during the day so it’s not really that haunted, which suits me just fine.  I can watch scary movies and zombie shows all day long, but put me in anything that resembles freaky and I’m out.

img_7987We also joined up to go Trick or Treating with the same neighbors plus another buddy.  Jake wanted to go as Rubble from the TV show Paw Patrol, a favorite for this age group.  So many people commented on his costume!  They loved seeing one of the “puppies” they knew from TV!

Also this fall, I wanted to get a photo of all the grandkids for Jake’s Grandma Teri and Grandpa Cliff (Jeff’s parents).  While waiting for the others to arrive, I snapped a few photos of him.  This kid is SO photogenic!  I can’t remember a time I took him to the arboretum where I didn’t get a frame-worthy photo.  Oddly enough, I never remember to frame them.  I think I might still have pregnancy brain.  Is that possible five years later?

img_8433Of course 2016 couldn’t be complete without his birthday celebration!  We chose to go to the bowling alley for this party.  It was fun, but not quite as fun as last year’s party at the gymnastics place.  There’s that Colin again!  See what I mean about that goofy, infectious grin?

img_8553To round out 2016, all the kids participated in a Holiday Special, where they get up on stage and sing.  I love all these kids so much.  They are a great group and each one of them brings a little something different to the mix.  It also helps that all of the parents are pretty awesome too and we all get along quite well.

There you have it, folks!  That’s Jake’s year in review.  I left out so much, but if I’d included everything, this post would last until 2018!  We had a pretty fantastic year and it’s already shaping up to be a pretty great 2017.  We just heard that we are slated to start our kitchen the first week of March, so now I’m pumped but also nervous because there are so many things that still need to be done!  That’s where lists come in handy…

Instant Love

Instant Pot.  Where the heck have you been all my life?

instant-pot

Gina at Skinnytaste has been talking about her Instant Pot (IP for short) for a long time and I just thought it was a pressure cooker.  Oh boy, was I wrong!  Apparently, this little baby can do pretty much everything but your dishes!  I received one (actually two) for Christmas and immediately went about finding the perfect first recipe to make in it.  I settled on a Skinnytaste recipe for starters.  It seemed only fitting since she was the main reason I was inspired to put it on my wish list to begin with.

Now, I’m not a huge soup person, but when I was meal planning this weekend (as I do every Sunday…more on that in the future), it was chilly and dark outside.  A big bowl of chicken soup sounded perfect.

This chicken soup, however, is not your traditional chicken soup.  When I think of chicken soup, I think of chicken, veggies, noodles, and delicious broth.  This soup has bright cilantro, creamy avocado, and pillowy potatoes with not a pasta noodle in sight!  After all, it is a Skinnytaste soup!  Served with a delicious Chobani yogurt, it’s made for wonderfully simply but scrumptious (and surprisingly filling) meals this week at work!

chicken-soup-2Skinnytaste’s Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup For My Soul
(from the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook)

6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped scallions
4 garlic cloves, minced (I like the jarred stuff from Trader Joes)
1 medium tomato, chopped (I left this out…not big on tomatoes)
6 small potatoes, halved
½ red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp chicken bouillon (in the jar) or 2 cubes dried
2 bay leaves
3 ears corn, halved (I also left these out because it’s not corn season)
Avocado (I use ½ for each bowl but I’m into that sort of thing)

Turn your IP to saute and add your olive oil.  While your pot heats, sprinkle your chicken with salt and cumin.  I added a little pepper too because I’m a spicy gal.  Saute your scallions and garlic for a minute until fragrant, then add your tomato.  Cook until soft.  Add the chicken, potatoes, red bell pepper, ¼ cup of the cilantro, 5 ½ cups water, bouillon, and bay leaves.  Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes, then quick release your IP.  Add corn to pot and cook on high pressure for an additional 3 minutes or until corn is warm and potatoes are cooked through.  Remove bay leaves and serve.

chicken-soup-1I liked mine with an extra sprinkle of cilantro, half an avocado diced, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Quick, easy, and hits the spot!

Stay tuned for more creations involving my new kitchen love!  I’ve already made a meatloaf and potatoes dinner, brown rice, butternut squash, and salsa verde chicken in it since Sunday!  I can’t wait to tell you how they turned out.  Hint:  keep watch for that meatloaf recipe…

New Year, New Me (Cheesy, Right?)

OK, so it’s been…a minute…since I blogged.  Several people have asked me why I haven’t blogged in over a year and, to be honest, it’s TIME!!!  Busier store, busier kid, busier life.  When you’ve got a million things going on, blogging is very easy to say “eh…later” to.  But in the spirit of remembering recipes and life events, I’d like to get back to it.  So…here goes.

What’s new?  So many things have happened in the last year plus that I really don’t remember.  (My memory is shot…I can barely remember conversations I have with people a day or two later.  It’s bad.)  So we are going to focus on what’s current and go from there.

First off, I got a couple new toys for Christmas:

I’ve been wanting a smoker for a loooong time especially since some of my neighbor-friends have one and have had us over a couple times to sample the deliciousness that results in their hard work.  I’m currently sitting on my couch typing this blog post smelling wood smoldering away outside.  Mouth=watering.  Results to come soon.

I’ve also been really needing an instant pot.  I had a pressure cooker I murdered a few months ago (how?  Jury’s still out on that one…), so this gorgeous girl was a MUST!  If any of you read Skinnytaste’s blog (and seriously if you haven’t, you should), you know she uses her Instant Pot at least a few times a week.  Being a busy working mama, pressure cooking is a no-brainer!

So far, I’ve made the beginnings of Salsa Verde Chicken Taquitos and Chicken Soup in it, but I’ve seen everything from ribs to cheesecake made in it.  I’m extremely excited.

Oh yeah…and see that bottle behind the instant pot?  My best friend of over 15 years is GETTING MARRIED!  She asked me to be her maid of honor and I’m beyond excited about it.  April 2017 baby!

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Jake is now five.  FIVE.  Shaking my head to myself as I type that.  He’s SUCH a stinker but man is he a cute kid.  He’s definitely my child…he gets frustrated at not being able to do that smallest things and everything is SO DRAMATIC with him!  I wish I didn’t know exactly where he gets it…

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He’s very smart though and extremely athletic.  So far we’ve gotten him involved in soccer, swimming, basketball, and ice skating.  I’m thinking about adding gymnastics (because the kid loves to tumble and be goofy) and art class (because he’s pretty artistic too), but we’ll see.  He’s sweet and lovable unless he’s tired and then he turns into a devil! We gave up naps on the weekends about a year about, but recently we’ve been adding them back in because he seems to need it.  He’s growing.

We spent some time at the end of last year cleaning out the basement so he could have a play area somewhere in the house that was all his.  Before, he just had a small section of the family room for his toys but, after a little elbow grease and some organization, he has a whole big area just for him!  We got some rubber mats for the hard concrete floor and put all his big toys down there for him.  For his birthday, we bought him a basketball goal that would fit downstairs as well.  It really works out nicely especially with our cold Ohio winters!

img_8295Jeff and I are doing really well.  We’ve finally decided to pull the trigger and do something we’ve been talking about since we moved in.  We are RENOVATING THE KITCHEN!  We met with contractors in the summer last year and had a follow up meeting in December.  We should start work some time in March and I cannot wait!  I hosted Thanksgiving this year and will be taking on that holiday as “my” holiday going forward.  The whole time I was cooking, I kept thinking, “This is the LAST time I’ll have to cook Thanksgiving in this kitchen!”  Here is what our kitchen looks like currently (minus about 7 years…)

I’m beyond excited about a new kitchen.  We are removing a wall, adding a large island, rearranging our lighting, painting, replacing cabinets, changing flooring, the whole enchilada.  Mmm…enchiladas.

Those are the current highlights in our house.  Happy New Year!  Here’s to 2017!

Fall Festivities

IMG_0319editedFall is one of my favorite times of year.  The colors, the slightly cooler (but still warm) weather, the activities, the food!  When we start switching over to Halloween at work, I get all excited for the coming season.

Over the last few weeks in October, we have done a ton of fun things with Jake and our family and friends.  Here’s a look at a few toddler approved outings we’ve participated in lately:

I posted a few pictures from our hayride at Windmill Farms last week.

IMG_0290editedThis outing is becoming an annual thing with Jeff’s brother and his family.  For $8.95/person, you can go on a hayride that takes you all over the farm and through “Spook Hallow” where you may or may not see a couple ghouls hanging out.  An extra $3 gets you a pumpkin from their pumpkin patch!  They run hayrides starting in the middle of September all the way through Halloween.

IMG_0316edited IMG_0277edited IMG_0269editedAnother great event that we’ve been to every year for the last three years is the Monster Mash at our son’s daycare.

IMG_0399 IMG_0366They bring in vendors from all over the Miami Valley, provide snacks and drinks for the families, and have rides and activities for purchase.  We didn’t stay until the end this year, but apparently they had a balloon release as well.

IMG_0409My son has made several great friends over the last few years at daycare and I, in turn, have befriended the moms too.  I can’t say enough great things about our daycare.  They are thoughtful, caring, and really love our children.  They go above and beyond every day and he loves going to school there.

IMG_0469Just yesterday, my friend Kristy and I decided we wanted to try our hand at Tom’s Corn Maze. 

IMG_0463She had been here before and said it was fun, so Jeff, Jake, and I met her yesterday afternoon.  For $8/person (kids under 5 are free), you get a blank map and have to find 12 mailboxes throughout the maze.  Each mailbox has a piece of the map and, when the map is filled, you get to cross Victory Bridge!  Here’s a tip…listen to the masses of people surrounding the mailboxes!

IMG_0465It took us about 1.5 hours to do the whole thing, which isn’t too bad for $8!  Afterwards, we watched them chuck a pumpkin…or tried to at least.  It’s kind of like watching a golf ball after you hit it.  I always lose them in the clouds!

IMG_0471We’ve had some fun this month and we still have Beggar’s Night yet.  Jake LOVES his Spider-man costume and I have a feeling he will continue to wear it long into the new year.  Hope your fall has been as fun and beautiful as ours has!

Caramel Apple Pork Chops

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I have this habit of listening to podcasts on my drive to work.  I used to get audiobooks from the library, but they tend to lose my interest because they are several hours long.  I got on the podcast kick a few years ago when I was planning a trip to Disney World.  Yes, there are podcasts about Disney World.  Good ones, in fact.

Speaking of good podcasts, have you listened to Serial?

Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story – a true story – over the course of an entire season.” – http://serialpodcast.org/

Anyhow, obviously I’m into cooking, so I began looking for a podcast that talked about my favorite subject.  That’s when I found The Splendid Table“the show about life’s appetites.” Since then, I’ve been listening to this podcast pretty regularly.  They tend to talk about seasonal cooking, so here recently it’s been all about apples, butternut squash, and comfort food.

This got me thinking…I need to cook with apples more.  I love apples, but I rarely use them in my cooking.  Why?  Who the heck knows.  After a quick search of my favorite website, allrecipes.com, I came across a recipe for caramel apple pork chops.  I love caramel, I love apples, and I love pork chops if cooked the correct way!

IMG_0319editedToday was the perfect day to make this dish.  It was a gorgeous fall day outside, with the air slightly crisp and the sun shining.  Jeff and I both loved the dish.  As for Jake…well…he liked the raspberries I gave him.  😐

IMG_7490editedCaramel Apple Pork Chops
(adapted from this recipe)

2 thick cut pork chops
salt & pepper to taste or meat seasoning such as Penzey’s Northwoods Fire Seasoning
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (can substitute other tart apples)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vegetable oil*
Boursin cheese (optional)

Remove pork chops from fridge, sprinkle with seasoning of your choice, and let come to room temperature as you prepare the rest of the dish.

Combine apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.  Mine took about 20 minutes to get to the consistency I wanted.  Full disclosure:  I forgot to peel my apples.  Learn from my mistake…peel yours.

IMG_7494editedAfter apples have been cooking for approximately 10 minutes, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the vegetable oil (*or in my case bacon grease as I was also making my Warm Potato Salad) to the pan.  Cook pork chops on medium heat for about 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature is 145º.  I like using a meat thermometer with my pork and beef because I tend to overcook it and my guy hates overcooked meats.

Remove from pan when pork chops are cooked and let sit for about 5 minutes.  To serve, top with caramelized apples.

Well, here’s what happened when I served the dish.  Jeff ate the pork with the apples and said it was just OK but it was missing something.  When asked what he thought it needed, he said he wasn’t sure but maybe “something creamy like cheese but also a little tangy?  I don’t know…”  My quick thinking produced the remains of the Boursin cheese I’d purchased for my Harvest Salad.  He added a little touch of the cheese to the pork and he could not quit raving about the dish.

IMG_7498editedSo to sum up…add some Boursin.  Everything’s better with cheese, right? (Ignore the crappy picture…I was too excited to eat to worry about composition of this photo.)

And just because he’s so stinkin’ cute, here are a couple pictures of my little guy from this weekend.  Can you believe he’ll be FOUR in two months???  #slowdownkid

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Dewey’s Copycat Harvest Salad

There is a local pizza joint I tried for the first time last year.  Since then, I have been back again and again and again.  Dewey’s Pizza is unique and delicious.  They have the most creative pizzas there like the:

  • Edgar Allan Poe 
    Olive Oil, Mozzarella-Fontina Blend, Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic, Kalamata Olives and Goat Cheese, with Fresh Tomatoes and Parsley after the bake

And the:

  • Dr. Dre
    Olive oil, Mozzarella Cheese, Green Peppers, Red Onions, Amish Chicken, Bacon, and Jalapenos with Diced Tomatoes and Ranch after the bake

Or perhaps my favorite, the:

  • Southwest BBQ Chicken
    Olive Oil, Smoked Cheddar & Mozzarella, Black Bean Corn Salsa, Amish Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, BBQ Sauce

 

 

 

My friend and I even attended a pizza making class there!

IMG_8993I rocked that pizza making hardcore, dude.

IMG_8994But, oddly enough, my most favorite thing on the Dewey’s menu isn’t their pizza (except maybe their crust…mmm).  It’s their Harvest Salad!  Sweet and tangy with a mix of complimentary flavors and textures, this seasonal salad is definitely my most favorite salad of all time.

The problem is, it’s only available in the fall!  That works for right now, but soon my precious baby is going to go away for nine whole months!  “I must find a way to fix this problem” I thought one day.  A quick Google search resulted in this recipe, which I have adapted slightly.  If you’re like me and you LOVE Dewey’s salad, or apple cider vinaigrette, or figs, or Boursin cheese, pin this recipe to your Pinterest board PRONTO!

IMG_0232editedDewey’s Copycat Harvest Salad
Spring mix salad
Thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped in 1/2″ chunks
Boursin cheese (flavor doesn’t matter but I used Garlic & Herb)
Dried figs, chopped
Pepitas*
Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Guess what the steps to this salad are.  You guessed it!  Throw everything in a bowl and eat!  I didn’t put amounts on this recipe because it’s a salad.  Add the amount of what you want!  For example, most people would make a salad with maybe 1/3-1/2 a container of spring mix.  To that, in addition to all the other ingredients, they’d probably add a couple slices of bacon.  Me?  I’d add a couple slices.  Then a couple more.  Then I’d eat a slice or two.  Then I’d contemplate adding a fifth, sixth, and seventh slice.  But that’s me and I have a pork addiction.

For my salad (to keep things in perspective), I started with 1/3 container of spring mix.  To that, I added four slices of bacon, 1/4 container of Boursin cheese, 6 dried figs I chopped into large pieces, some pumpkin seeds, and a couple tablespoons of Apple Cider dressing.  I thought it was perfect, but again, add more or less of each ingredient based on your tastes.

Speaking of pumpkin seeds, make sure you get pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds).  I wasn’t paying attention and I just grabbed “pumpkin seeds” which have the shell on them.  If you can’t find them at your local grocery store, try Trader Joes.  You can use sunflower seeds as well if you can’t find them.

Another tip I have is that you don’t have to make your own dressing.  You are more than welcome to (I suggest following the recipe on the original post I linked to in my opening paragraph), but in a time crunch, try Ken’s Steak House Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

I had started to make my own and then realized I forgot the APPLE CIDER.  Then I saw this dressing in the pantry and did a happy dance I didn’t have to run to the store!

If you like salads with some sweetness and a little bit of crunch, try this out.  It’s a great salad to have with dinner or as a quick lunch.  Yummmmmmm

Harvest Salad

 

 

Top 10 Sephora Favorites

I watch a lot of YouTube videos, mostly about makeup or cooking.  Yeah, exciting, I know.  This weekend, as I was getting my list of things I needed to buy at Sephora together, I realized I could do my very own “Favorites” post on my blog.  I know I usually write about food, but I thought I might branch out a little.  A post here about makeup.  A post there about Jake and the fun things we do around Dayton.  You know…mix it up.

One of my new, must have onhand at all times, favorite things is Sephora’s Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover ($14).  This is what a makeup guru would call a “holy grail” makeup remover.  I wear a decent amount of eye makeup (shadow, liner, mascara) and I don’t like to stand at my sink for ten minutes each night taking off my makeup.  I used to use Bliss Lid+Lash Wash Makeup Remover and I thought it worked great.  Then, last month when I went on vacation, I took my travel sized Bliss remover instead of my Sephora remover and I was cursing myself every day!  Note to self:  pick up a travel sized bottle of the Sephora remover before my next vacation.

I’m sure there are hundreds of different bronzers that work just fine on most skin types, but I’m partial to this one.  NARS Bronzer in Casino ($39) has been my go to bronzer for several years.  It’s on the pricey side, but it’s worth it.  It’s got just a hint of shimmer and it’s the perfect shade if you’re slightly darker like me.  There is a different shade called Laguna that flatters more people’s skin tones.  Whichever you choose, it’s awesome!

Speaking of NARS, I have a weakness for their shadows, even though the price tag gives me heart palpitations whenever I think about it.  That being said, NARS Eyeshadow in Kalahari ($35) has been my favorite “quick and easy eye shadow day” look for years.  I love it because all I have to do is prime my eyes, add the light shadow all over my lid, add the darker shadow in the crease, then line my eyes and throw on some mascara.  Quick, easy, and gorgeous!

And since we’re on the subject of primers, Urban Decay’s Primer Potion ($20) has been in my makeup drawer for at least ten years.  Ever since I started going to Sephora, I have been picking up this little beauty.  A primer evens out the skin tone on your eyelid, covers any bluish veins that might be visible, and provides an even surface for the shadow to glide onto.  Their original shade (pictured above) has been what I reach for most, though I have also used Eden, which is a gorgeous warm bronze color.  It’s beautiful if you want to achieve that goddess type look, but isn’t my favorite for an everyday primer.  Sunday, I didn’t see the original so I purchased Minor Sin, which is sort of a mix between the Original and Eden.  I’m not sure if I’ll love it as much as the Original, but we’ll see.

My new favorite liner is Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner ($22).  Now, I am NOT one to purchase liquid liners or mascara from Sephora or Ulta.  They dry out too quickly and I don’t feel like I get my money’s worth.  This is especially true with mascara.  I love my mascara and end up going through a tube every 3-4 months, which is good because you’re supposed to throw them away after 3 months anyway.  However, I received a “best of” kit for Christmas last year and this eyeliner was included.  I’m kind of picky with my liquid liner, but this baby definitely knocked it out of the park.  I love it!  It glides on smoothly, is dark black (instead of grayish black like some liners), and stays all day like the name says.  (A close, cheaper version is Maybelline’s Lash Stiletto.)

While we’re on the subject of eye makeup, these Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Eye Pencils ($20) are pretty awesome too.  I like to pick vibrant colors like Vice (pictured above) to add a little pop of color to my eyelid. I draw on a kind of thick line over my shadow and follow up with a thin, black line on top of it.  It gives my eyes a little hint of something special on days I’m feeling a little feisty.  I also have Woodstock (a hot pink color) and Deep End (turquoise).  These liners glide on super easy and, like the Stila liner, stays all day long.

It’s not makeup, but something I purchased a couple times now is Tory Burch’s self titled fragrance ($68 for 1 oz).  It is my favorite scent currently.  It smells like Neroli, Grapefruit, Cassis, Bergamot, Peony, Tuberose, Jasmine Sambac, Vetiver, and Sandalwood (per the Sephora website).  To me, it’s very woodsy and citrusy, not too sweet, and perfect for everyday wear.

Another fragrance I’m in love with is actually a recent discovery.  I feel confident it will be purchased again and again though.  Clean Fragrance in Skin ($38 for 1 oz) is…well…clean smelling.  It’s notes are Honeydew, Lotus Blossom and Fresh Air Accord, Dewy Petals, Aquatic Notes, Blue Rose, Musks, Amber Wood, Vanilla.  It’s kind of like walking along the beach on a warm, breezy day.

A list of my favorite Sephora items wouldn’t be complete without Urban Decay’s Naked Palettes ($54).  There are four of them and, honestly, I can’t really pick a favorite.  Depending on the time of year, I rotate through all of them.  The most recent palette, Naked Smoky, is the one I’ve been reaching for first lately.  I need to research more ways to play with the colors so I branch out from my typical application, but overall I love this palette!

Last but not least is the Beautyblender makeup sponge ($20).  This little sponge is a miracle beauty product!  It gives your foundation the look of an airbrushed application.  It smooths everything out, fills in your pores, and removes any excess product from your skin.  To use, you simply wet it and squeeze out the excess water, then blot on your skin.  Sometimes I rub my foundation into my skin first and then use the sponge to blend it out.  Sometimes I apply dots of foundation over my skin and use the sponge to achieve a thin layer.

So there you go.  Ten products I love and have purchased at least twice in my life.  What are your favorite products you can’t live without?

Meal Plan for 10/4-10/10

We’ve gotten in a routine at our house.  Since I’ve taken a job as a store manager, I am lucky enough to get most nights and weekends off.  If you’ve ever worked retail, you know how rare this is.

At my job, we get to pick two Saturdays a month that we want to take completely off.  The other Saturdays we have to work a short, four hour shift.  Because of this, I tend to do most of my meal planning, grocery shopping, and recipe prep on Sundays.

Typically, I make my meal plan either Saturday night or early Sunday morning.  Then I add all my ingredients I need to pick up to my GroceryIQ app on my phone (love this thing btw) and try to get to the store by 10A.  Our Kroger is packed by 10:30A, so the earlier I get out there, the better.

I am still in the process of figuring out the best way to record all my meal planning and the results of each meal.  I’ve tried several different ways from using an app like Instagram, to Pinterest, to keeping a running, written list of meals I like.  I think I may have figured out the best way, but I haven’t actually put it in practice yet, so I’m not going to share quite yet.  If anyone has any thoughts on this, let me know.

Lately, I’ve just been making a list.  I write out the days of the week, add in any appointments, plans, events, etc, and then start filling in meals.  Since I’m a manager, I have to close one night a week (typically Thursdays), so I add that to the plan.  This coming week, I am going out with friends on Tuesday night, so that goes on there too.  This way, I can plan for my guys to have a meal Jeff can make or they can go out to eat on nights I won’t be there to cook.  Thursday night works for me to close because it’s 35¢ wing night at BW3s!

That was a long intro to tell you about the meals I have slated for this week…

Sunday – Marinated and Grilled Pork Chops with Skinnytaste Garlic Parm Roasted Fries

Monday – Waffle Crusted Chicken w/ Skewered Grilled Potatoes

Tuesday – Coneys for the boys using my City BBQ Chili recipe

Wednesday – Baked Chicken Parmesan with roasted green beans

Thursday – BW3s for the boys

Friday – Garlic Bread Chicken Nuggets with Corn Casserole

Saturday – Grilled Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice

So that’s what’s planned for our house this week.  I’m hoping to report back with all kinds of yummy additions to my list of Must Make Again meals!

Full disclosure:  95% of the pictures in this blog post are NOT mine.  I DO NOT take credit for them or the deliciousness they portray.  For the actual recipes I will be using this week, please click on the associated links in the titles.

Parmesan Parsley Potatoes

In the two-thirds of a year, I have become a devoted fan of Gina over at Skinnytaste.  It all started when I was given her cookbook for Christmas.

At the start of 2015, I decided I was going to refocus on exercise and eating healthy (an original idea, right?).  I wanted to incorporate recipes from the Skinnytaste cookbook because I had heard her recipes were delicious yet healthy.  She lost a bunch of weight using the Weight Watchers system and, though I wasn’t a Weight Watcher, I still liked the concept behind their plan.

After trying and loving several of the cookbook recipes, I ventured over to her blog, where I was delighted to find a vast array of new ideas for dinner.  I began pinning tons of things from breakfast to main meals to side dishes.  She has all sorts of great recipes.

Tonight, as we tried to capture the last few drops of summer sunshine (err…early fall sunshine I guess 😦 ), I knew I wanted a delicious, yet decadent-tasting recipe as a side to our grilled pork chops.  I stumbled upon this recipe that sounded perfect.  Garlicky, cheesy, potatoey, delicious.  This will definitely be going on my Must Make Again Pinterest board.  (Incidentally, if you want a few suggestions of what I’ve tried and loved on Pinterest, check out that board.  If you want some ideas of things to avoid, check out the Done and Done board.)  FYI, I try to comment as to why we loved or hated the recipe.

Gina’s Parmesan Parsley Potatoes
(from Skinnytaste.com)

1 tsp oil
1 garlic clove, minced (I used Trader Joe’s garlic paste)
Cooking spray
1 medium russet or yukon gold potato, washed and dried
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan cheese (she suggests 2 tsp)
Parsley

Begin by slicing your potato in 1/4″ strips.  Following Gina’s advice, I used my mandolin to slice my potatoes in 1/4″ planks and then sliced those planks in strips.  I dunked my potatoes in cold water at this point for 10 minutes and, honestly, I think this was a mistake because they were not nearly as crispy as I wanted them to be.  Gina does not say to do that and I think I should have followed her on this.  Instead, I read another reader who suggested doing this would lead to an extra crispy fry, which is my goal in life.  Full disclosure, I probably didn’t dry my fries as well as they needed too.

Preheat your oven to 425º.  Prepare a cookie sheet with the cooking spray.  Toss your fries with the oil, garlic, salt, & pepper.  I do this right on the cookie sheet.  Spread out in an even layer then bake in the oven for 10 minutes* on each side.

*I ended up baking them for 10 minutes, flipping, and baking 10 more minutes.  Then, as they weren’t very crispy, I bumped up the temp to broil and cooked them for an additional 10-15 minutes.  I think the pre-soak and the fact that I didn’t measure my oil might have been where I went wrong.  So, if you learn anything from me, follow the recipe.  Regardless, I loved them!  They were super yummy.

BTW, I think I have a new mascot for Red Nose Day…  (Google it if you didn’t hear about it this summer.)