Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July in Review

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The month of July, I shared a ton of my very favorite new recipes that I've tried. Because I am so far ahead with recipes to post here, the month of August (and maybe even September) is going to end up being a month where I try already posted recipes for picture retakes. I'll be tweeting/Facebooking/pinning as I upload the pictures and adjust the old posts. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to do anything for my blog's 3rd birthday coming up on August 2nd, but I am brainstorming somewhat.

The Recipes
Favorites are noted with an asterisk!

Bold denotes an original.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bacon Cheddar Pork Chops

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Bacon Cheddar Pork Chops: Crunchy breaded pork chops with a punch of bacon and cheesy deliciousness | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I don't think it gets much better than crunchy breaded pork chops "infused" with bacon and cheddar cheese topped with more cheddar cheese and green onions. It really is just as delicious as it sounds. I'm fairly certain I used breakfast chops the first time I made these, but next time I want to get the thick cut because I know they will end up so juicy and tender on the inside being baked in the oven. We paired this with asparagus risotto which was utterly delicious too.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Wings Battle

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http://secret-recipe-club.blogspot.com/

It is time again for Group D's reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is Secret Recipe Club? It's a group of food bloggers who are assigned another food blog secretly. Then they make a recipe and we all post on one day about our secret blog and the recipe we tried. It's an awesome group of food bloggers and it is so much fun to get to stalk someone else's recipes and make them in secret :)

I was assigned Colie's Kitchen - Nicole is a sweet lady who I have been following almost as long as I've been blogging. I've always enjoyed reading her stories and drooling over her recipes. I looked through her index and was drawn to two wings recipes and two drinks recipes. I actually made one of the drink recipes earlier this month: Pink Panties (hers and mine). I want to make the Caramel Iced Coffee very soon. Ultimately, I couldn't choose between the two wings recipes and decided it was time for a wing battle.

First up is the Mild & Delicious Buffalo Wings. They are pretty traditional buffalo wings and I have been madly craving them to no end. I'm actually not a huge wing fan, but I wanted buffalo wings NOW. I am going to be looking for unfrozen wings because it does make the process more difficult, but I still was able to get the nice crunchy crust for these wings. The sauce was flavorful and the right amount of heat. I actually tried a different wing recipe in between the two in this post and it was way too spicy for my kids. This one they loved because they were still eating something spicy, but they could handle it. I like something that has heat, but doesn't sacrifice flavor and that is these wings in a nutshell!
Mild & Delicious Buffalo Wings: the perfect amount of heat without sacrificing flavor | www.fantasticalsharing.com

Friday, July 26, 2013

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies | A little espresso spiked chocolate chip cookie will brighten your day! | www.fantasticalsharing.com

The only complaint about these cookies I have is that they are a little crunchier than I typically like my chocolate chip cookies to be. But that's not really a complaint that would stop me from making this again because I absolutely love the addition of the coffee flavor to the cookies. I'm going to try match this one up to a softer, chewier cookie recipe and maybe add 1/2 tsp. more of espresso powder.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pass the Cookbook Club: Chocolate Chunk Blondies

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This month for the Pass the Cookbook Club group, our cookbook was...

We got to choose between Easy Gazpacho & Goat Cheese Croutons, Foolproof Ribs with BBQ Sauce, and Chocolate Chunk Blondies. I easily chose the blondies because I'm not yet brave enough to try goat cheese and it's just Matt, Cami, and me at home, so the ribs might be a bit much. I also just got a Ninja Mega Kitchen System and wanted to try out the food processor portion.

When I saw "foolproof" in the cookbook title, I crossed my fingers that it wasn't wrongly named. I've only tried one Ina Garten recipe and that is for "Perfect Roast Turkey" and it WAS perfect. They smelled divine while cooking and were even better once they cooled off enough for me to stuff them in my face. And that is exactly what I did. They were soft and chewy with huge chunks of chocolate and crunchy walnuts throughout the bars. They kept very well too - since I couldn't very well eat all of them in one sitting ;)

Chocolate Chunk Blondies | Foolproof soft & chewy blondies that taste like a chocolate chip cookies | www.fantasticalsharing.com

{Something Swanky} Favorite Things Birthday Present Giveaway

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Do y'all know Ashton of Something Swanky? She is a mega turbo fantastical blogger who literally rocks my socks with every recipe she posts. If you don't follow her blog, go go go! She's also the co-creater (with Dorothy of Crazy for Crust) of Online Blogcon, which is an incredible blogging conference held ONLINE. I want to make it to a in-person conference, but it's expensive and probably not going to happen any time soon. Online Blogcon has provided a wealth of knowledge for a super affordable price and a group of bloggers that I'm happy to be able to go to if I want to talk about anything blogging related. Registration is open for OBC #2, so check it out too!

I'm contributing with some other amazing bloggers to Ashton's Favorite Thing Birthday Present Giveaway. Basically, she wanted to give all our readers a shot at winning a prize worth $800 including a KitchenAid stand mixer, a $300 Target gift card, and 10 cookbooks. I don't know about y'all, but that is just a crazy awesome giveaway prize! Good luck to everyone :)

Something Swanky's Favorite Things Birthday Present Giveaway - enter to #win a KitchenAid mixer, $300 Target giftcard, and 10 Blogger Cookbooks.

Want to win some of my favorite things?! Here's what's up for grabs:
How can you enter to win all of these goodies (an $800 value!)? Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below by signing in with your Facebook or E-mail account (you're required to use one of those so we can contact you if you win!):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chicken Chimichangas

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Chicken Chimichangas | Tortillas stuffed with refried beans, chicken, cheese, and rice fried to perfection! | www.fantasticalsharing.com

Do any of you have problems finding spices when you need them? I recently got a little spice stairs organization thing and pulled out all my spices. I ended up organizing them by bottle and then alphabetically. I may or may not have a problem. Now I don't have to search all my bottles to try and find the cumin which may be a blue capped Great Value bottle or a normal size McCormick or a little McCormick.

Lucky for me, this recipe didn't use cumin and I didn't have to try and search through the mess of spices before I got my neat organization thing, but this recipe didn't need it. They were flavorful and delicious. I love chimichangas - there is something about these burrito-like treats being fried that just makes them so good. I loved having the different layers of chicken, beans, cheese, and rice inside too.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cookies & Cream Donuts

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Cookies & Cream Donuts | Sinful devil's food cake donuts with Oreos mixed in | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I've said it before, donuts are probably my favorite breakfast to make because they are so quick. These Cookies & Cream donuts are made with Devil's food cake mix - meaning they are extra sinful :) When my kids spied Oreos on the kitchen counter, they definitely knew they were in for a treat and were jumping up and down.

I loved the consistency of these donuts that were basically cake donuts. Cake donuts are pretty much the only actual donuts I'll eat. I'm picky. The glaze plus the Oreos crumbled on top made these donuts hard to stop eating. I'm not going to lie. I'm pretty sure I ate 4 of these for breakfast that morning. It could have been more.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Buffalo Roasted Chicken

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Buffalo Roasted Chicken | A different way to roast a whole chicken that is sure to please any spicy food lover in your life

I finally got an actual roasting pan last Thanksgiving because we're finally making Thanksgiving dinners rather than bringing a side dish or two over to a friend's house. I normally make whole chickens in the crockpot, but they don't quite get that crispy skin like roasting them in the oven.

I loved this chicken and feel like it could be amped up a bit more, so I will try more Ranch mix or more butter, possibly onions, and maybe even pour some buffalo over the top after cooking, while cooling.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

General Tso's Chicken

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This was my second attempt at making General Tso's chicken and I much rather prefer this recipe over the other one. The sauce was more flavorful and better consistency. It wasn't spicy at all though, so next time I'm going to tweek that.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Birthday Cake Oreo Cake Mix Cookies

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Birthday Cake Oreo Cake Mix Cookies - an unforgettable soft cookie with lots of birthday cake flavor | www.fantasticalsharing.com

When Oreo came out with their birthday cake Oreos, I searched high and low at many different stores to try and find them. When we went home to Tennessee in late March, I also looked at multiple stores to see if I could find them. I had no luck. I'm not gonna lie...I was pretty irate. I wanted these Oreos.

Then one day when I stopped holding onto the hope that I would get to try them, our commissary here at Ft. Drum had them! I grabbed two packages: one for eating and one for making something. The something came about when I tried Domestic Rebel's Death by Chocolate Cookies. I love a soft cookie and I came up with this cake mix cookie using Hayley's recipe as a reference. They are easily one of the best cookies I've ever had.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rosemary & Beer Marinated Steak

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Rosemary & Beer Marinated Steak - steak bursting with the rich, savory flavors of dark beer and rosemary | www.fantasticalsharing.com

Nick surrendered one of his nut brown beers for me to make this recipe from Amy's Cooking Adventures. He is quite stingy and I think steak is one of the only ways he'll give up one of his homebrews willingly. There was so much flavor in this steak - it's not even funny. Even if you don't like beer, this recipe is just amazing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

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Chicken & Gnocchi Soup - learn how to make this Olive Garden soup at home...and pronounce gnocchi | www.fantasticalsharing.com

When we last visited our family in Tennessee - which seems like a decade ago - my mom-in-law made us gnocchi soup. I've never had gnocchi. I also had no clue how to say it. I thought it was "knoc-chi", but it turns out it's "neo-key". Let's be honest here...that's just weird and goes against everything I know. LOL.

Anyways, when I returned home, I started craving some neokey soup like my mom-in-law made us and searched for some new recipes. This one is an Olive Garden copycat from a blog called Couponing & Cooking. I've never had the OG version, but I really did love this soup. It was just as good as the one my mom-in-law made us and sated my appetite and craving perfectly :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

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Carrot Cake Oatmeal - a healthy version of a sinful dessert for breakfast! | www.fantasticalsharing.com

One of my favorite parts of summer growing up was that you could sleep in. I've never been one to hate sleep. My kiddos on the other hand (who are 6 and 5) are early birds. With the sun coming up at 5:30am, it is hard for them to stay asleep when it's so bright out. Of course, I am not a morning person and not ready to be up at 5:30 in the morning. Since Nick is deployed, the kids love to crawl in bed with me after the sun comes up. For some reason, this just means we end up sleeping until 9am. By then, we need a quick breakfast.

That's one of the best parts about oatmeal. It's fast. But you can get sick of regular old bland oatmeal with cinnamon sugar mixed in. So this recipe definitely called my name. I loved the pineapple in it a ton and the maple yogurt topping was delicious. We didn't have any coconut or pecans in the house when I made this oatmeal, but I'll be sure to try that next time as I'm sure it only makes this breakfast that much better!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Drinks Week: Strawberry Nutella Milkshakes

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A twist on a classic - these Strawberry Nutella Milkshakes are dangerously addictive | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I am so so late on the Nutella craze, but I am coming around slowly but surely. I love strawberry milkshakes and thought that it could not be more genius to add Nutella to them. Genius and SO good. These are dangerously addictive milkshakes and you'll be sorely disappointed if you don't make them as soon as possible!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Drinks Week: Pink Panties

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Pink Panties - a sweet and tart fruity drink made with Whipped Cream Vodka | www.fantasticalsharing.com


I couldn't resist a drink called Pink Panties. I just couldn't. When we get together with friends or family, we try to play King's Cup (a drinking game) at least one time and my husband's favorite rule is the "in my pink panties" rule, where you must say that after everything that you say.

I will tweak this recipe next time I make it (which will be very soon). I thought 12 oz. of vodka was a bit much, so I brought it down to 5 oz. I split my drink in half and froze half of it. It's very sweet and tart, but it still had a bit of the concentrate taste to it, so I'm going to try having premade pink lemonade (like Simply Lemonade) and more ice next time. It was still so good! I love lemonade and love strawberries - AND the vodka was really good. It was my first time trying whipped cream flavored vodka.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Drinks Week: Peppermint Mocha Milkshake for One

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Peppermint Mocha Milkshake for One - no sharing required for this minty coffee milkshake! | www.fantasticalsharing.com

New York is not my favorite place to live. In fact, it's my least favorite. The winters are long and miserable and the summers...well...they are just as bad. It's been cloudy and raining for most of the summer so far. There are days where it is in the 50s. This week looks like it's finally in the 80s. I think one thing that keeps me going is that we're getting close to counting down our LAST YEAR in this state...and then we get to go home to Tennessee.

So when I'm bummed and the weather is crappy, I turn to chocolate anything. Ice cream is always close to the top of the list of chocolate..and let's face it...coffee is always welcome. I've been wanting to try this recipe from How Sweet It Is for so long, but I don't like sharing and I didn't feel like making two once my husband stole a drink of mine. Deployment is when I take advantage of my stinginess :) I doubled the coffee powder and drank it right up. So delicious!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Drinks Week: Red Smoothie

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#Drinks week continues with this Red Smoothie - made with strawberries and mango. It's the perfect summer drink! | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I love a good smoothie and it's one of the only ways I'll eat fresh fruit (or in this case frozen). My 6 year old is the same way - he likes the taste, not the texture of most fruits. Mangoes and strawberries are actually two fruits I will eat fresh and love, but it's hard to pass up a recipe like this. I am horrible at cutting mangoes, so I opted to use frozen mango. This is probably my most favorite smoothie I've ever had.

I've gotten super lazy with photos, so excuse the lovely ledge my smoothie is sitting on :)

Monday, July 08, 2013

Drinks Week: DIY Starbucks Frappuccino

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I have been anticipating this themed week for a long while and then I was scrambling to make drinks for it. I hate dragging out my blender and clearing out room in the top shelf of my fridge is like mission impossible. BUT I did get it done and I have some great beverages to share with y'all this week :)
DIY Starbucks Frappuccino - make your own iced coffee at home! | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I'm on such a huge iced coffee kick. It's a bit hot to be drinking hot coffee all the time and I don't want to eat Burger King for lunch every single day (they have the BEST iced coffee!). This is perfect for me and I really need to make another batch really soon. You can use whatever flavor creamer you want too. If it's too sweet, I suggest cutting down on the brown sugar.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Popeye's Pizza

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*You can follow me on BlogLovin', so you don't miss a post: here!*

Popeye's Pizza - rich, robust sundried tomato alfredo sauce and spinach make this a fancy one | www.fantasticalsharing.com

For the life of me, I cannot remember how I came across the blog where I found this recipe, but I know it was completely unrecipe-related and I was excited when I found this pizza recipe on Halie's blog :) What's great about this pizza is that instead of the typical red sauce, it's a sundried tomato alfredo sauce - which is this rich, roasted, robust sauce that I just can't get enough of lately. Not to mention the hommage to Popeye with the ton of spinach layered underneath the cheese and pepperoni - YUM! I can never get enough spinach!


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Creamy Pesto Pasta

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*You can follow me on BlogLovin', so you don't miss a post: here!*

Happy Independence Day to all you American folks out there! :) Hope you have clear, sunny weather for grilling and fireworks.

Creamy Pesto Pasta - a light penne pasta bursting with flavor | www.fantasticalsharing.com 

I've recently discovered what I've missed out by not having tried pesto sooner. It's one of my new favorite things and this has made me hoard a whole slew of new recipes. Nick was also a little unsure of pesto, but fell in love with it too. Although this recipe doesn't seem like anything extraordinary, it really is one of the better light chicken and pasta recipes I've had in my life. I think this would be the perfect recipe to try if you were new to pesto too.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Mini Choc Chip Donut Pancake Dippers

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Mini Chocolate Chip Donut Pancake Dippers - cute little pancakes just the right size for dipping! #breakfast

When I was first married, Nick and I would take turns on the weekends sleeping in. One of us would get up early with the kids and the other got to sleep in on Saturday, then vice-versa. Somewhere along the road after his second deployment, I decided not to do this anymore and just let him sleep in. He gets up around 5:30am each morning and I get up at 7am. So for him, I get up really late! Although even now, neither of us sleeps in past 8am - we feel like we waste half our day if we do that.

The particular morning I made these dippers, my husband was still asleep and I was letting him catch some extra z's because he was extra pitiful. This breakfast recipe was super fast and easy to make - but it was eaten even faster than it was made. The kids dug in and ate all but what I had on my plate. My husband woke up moments after I snapped my pictures and pouted when he saw that we had some, but he didn't. I ended up surrendering mine to him - they were a hit for the whole household and next time I will definitely double the recipe, at the very least!


Monday, July 01, 2013

Cheeseburger Flatbread Melts

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*You can follow me on BlogLovin', so you don't miss a post: here!*

Cheeseburger Flatbread Melts - flatbread made with pizza dough topped with beef and cheddar | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I've seen a lot of flatbread recipes lately and thought I'd try a "safe" one that would be welcomed to the dinner table without any crazy looks. Nick and the kids love cheeseburgers. Personally, I was a little worried about the flatbread. However, after taste testing during cooking them, I was hooked! I could eat the flatbread by itself all day long. I loved the flavoring of the hamburger too - the vinegar was a nice touch. These melts are definitely a keeper!