Monday, September 30, 2013

September in Review

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What I posted this month:
* denotes a favorite

Breakfast
Main Dish
Beverages
Desserts
Snacks
Fantastical Feature

What new recipes have you tried this month & loved?

Secret Recipe Club: Sweet Cherry Crumble for Four

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It's time for yet another Secret Recipe Club reveal day. For those of you wondering, Secret Recipe Club is a group of a couple hundred food bloggers separated into 4 groups. Each month, each blogger gets assigned to a different blog in the group secretly and they make a recipe or two for reveal day. Each group posts on a different Monday - today is Group D's day to reveal what blogs we had and what we made.

This month I was paired with one of Group D's newer members, Melissa of Brooklyn Locavore. Melissa is a marketing professional living with her husband and turtle in Brooklyn, NY. I love that she chooses local over organic. I definitely agree with her perspective on that! I have been going savory the last few months and decided it was time to try a little sweet. Unfortunately, it's not really cherry season here in America anymore - from what I hear that is a very short season and it's usually June. The produce here in upstate New York isn't the best either unless you're buying sweet corn - so I adapted my chosen recipe of Sweet Cherry Crumble for Two.
Sweet Cherry Crumble for Four | #SecretRecipeClub reveal day with this divine #dessert from Brooklyn Locavore | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I used canned cherry pie filling instead of making my own cherry mixture with fresh, pitted cherries. I also used 7 oz. ramekins and separated the cherries into 4 portions. They turned out so well and since Nick is deployed still...I helped myself to what would have been his dessert :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Vermont Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

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This is really just a lovely pumpkin spice cake with a great cream cheese frosting that all screams FALL! It's the perfect cake to serve during the autumn and is sure to
Vermont Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting - the perfect cake for autumn #cake #pumpkin

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Roasted Veggie & Sausage Pasta

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Roasted Veggies & Sausage Pasta | A variety of veggies with Italian sausage and penne pasta for one delicious meal | www.fantasticalsharing.com

This amazing bowl of veggies and sausage and pasta is something that seriously makes me reconsider spaghetti with tomato meat sauce being my favorite meal in the whole entire world. It's really funny because I just recently started liking sausage and Parmesan. So it's crazy to have something that hasn't been a food I would choose to eat in the past become something that I would choose over regular spaghetti. But it's THAT good. The veggies are roasted to perfection and you really just have the flavors of the veggies and sausage doing the talking for this recipe.

What is also just awesome about this pasta dish is that it makes a HUGE batch - well, not HUGE, but it fed myself and the kids...and then the next day it fed myself and the kids plus our two friends. If there's one thing that can't be beat...it's a large quantity of a really great meal.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tropical Pineapple Pork Kabobs

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Tropical Pineapple Pork Kabobs | www.fantasticalsharing.com | #grill #pineapple #pork #kabobs

Unfortunately, it's no longer grilling season for us here in New York. Or at least...when it's in the 50s, I don't grill anymore. Plus with the leaves falling all over the place - it's hard to concentrate on grilling when you're being a leaf ninja. I actually didn't use the grill that much this summer, which may be due to the fact that usually it's Nick begging to have something for dinner that can be grilled and he does the grilling. It's not that I don't love to do it, but I think men just enjoy grilling way more.

The highlight of my very short grilling season was this recipe. Kabobs are one of my favorite things to eat off the grill and I think both of the kids really love it too. I'm sure I could put anything on a stick and they would think it's the coolest thing ever. The marinade is perfection and grilled zucchini and pineapple should be on every single kabob in existence. They just make the kabob.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meximelt Pasta

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Meximelt Pasta | Turning a taco into an amazing, mouthwatering pasta dish | www.fantasticalsharing.com

Taco Bell apparently has this taco called the Meximelt. From what I understand, it's like a regular taco with pico de gallo. A few bloggers have posted copycat recipes of the Meximelt and I really wanted to try it without having to go to an actual Taco Bell. I ended up having leftovers and since I'm a pastaholic the first thought I had was to take the leftovers and make it into a pasta dish!

Pico de gallo just really fits with pasta. I love pico de gallo. Add in the melty cheesy goodness...oh, I am just in heaven.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cheesecake Nutella Twists

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Nutella Cheesecake Twists | Cream cheese and #Nutella in a crescent drizzled with chocolate | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I just joined the world of double boiler users. I don't have any clear glass bowls and melting chocolates (without the addition of butter and sugar) was becoming extremely frustrating. I have to say it's been one of the most frustrating things about not having a microwave. I'm also not sure why it took me a year to get a double boiler, but I can't wait to test it out.

Most likely the very first recipe I'll use to test out my brand-spankin' new double boiler is this yummy breakfast twist recipe that uses none other than NUTELLA!! Mine don't look quite like Jocelyn's, but the great thing about this recipe is that it doesn't haven't to look pretty to be delicious. I do suppose having the chocolate drizzle on top would make it so much prettier :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fantastical Feature: Taste of Home: Recipes Across America

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Any time that NetGalley has a Taste of Home cookbook available, I always request to get it. I adore Taste of Home cookbooks and have yet to have a bad recipe out of one of the cookbooks.

Recipes Across America is broken up into different sections of the United States. As always, there were amazing pictures and easy-to-follow directions for each recipe.

Friday, September 20, 2013

South by Southwest Pasta

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South by Southwest Pasta | A little #beer and smoked paprika go a long way in this #recipe | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I've started to get a little more comfortable in my own skin when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen. This recipe was a slider recipe from Rachael Ray that I morphed into a delicious pasta dish. Years ago when I first started cooking, I would never have strayed from a printed recipe. Now I am brave enough to make it into something different without hesitation. On the day that I made this pasta, I wasn't feeling like making sliders. I didn't want to mess with all the steps and hassle, so I made pasta instead. It is super savory and delicious. I loved the beer paired with the smoky paprika and chili powder and steak seasoning. They could not have been more perfect together. It amazes me how well beer goes with "Mexican" food...but I need to remember to try it more often!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nachos Bell Grande {Copycat}

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Copycat Nachos Bell Grande | www.fantasticalsharing.com | #TacoBell #nachos

The first time I had the Nachos Bell Grande from Taco Bell was when I was in middle school. I remember fondly playing Pokemon Yellow on a Gameboy Color sitting on my carport just chowing away. Every single time I eat the Nachos Bell Grande, I want to sit and play Pokemon for hours.

Making a copycat recipe for these seemed super easy to do and you can't go wrong with some delicious loaded nachos...ever! My kids thought they were great and loved hearing about how I played Pokemon as a kid too. I can't wait until I get an oven with an actual broiler, so I can do these again with the nachos getting a little soft in the middle - because that would make them perfect.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers: the perfect way to try quinoa for the 1st time or jazz up a boring old stuffed pepper recipe | www.fantasticalsharing.com

Quinoa seems to be taking the food world by storm lately and I really wanted to see what all the buzz was about. It's a grain that is high in protein and a great source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. I love stuffed peppers and thought it would be a great way to try quinoa for the first time.

I must say...this is my most favorite stuffed pepper recipe to date. The quinoa has such an amazing texture. It worked very well with the meat sauce. If you are looking to experiment and try out a new food - I highly recommend it be quinoa - and this recipe!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bacon Chili Cheese Dogs

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Bacon Chili Cheese Dogs | www.fantasticalsharing.com | #bacon #chilidogs

Today is my 25th birthday.

I'm really not sure how to feel about 25. I definitely don't feel old. Maybe the best way to describe my weirdness about 25...I feel like the last decade of my life flew by! I definitely think it's been a lot of amazing years and wish they would just slow down some. At the same time, with the third deployment being over halfway done, I kinda don't want the time to slow down just yet :P

My oldest (who is 6 1/2 years old *sniffle*) told me I shouldn't cook dinner on my birthday. He insisted he would make sandwiches for dinner - his dream job is to be a Sandwich King like Jeff Mauro. I thought this was just incredibly sweet and asked him what he thought about going to a restaurant for dinner. He LOVED this idea and we picked Olive Garden, so tonight we're having Italian.

In other news...these chili dogs would have been a totally acceptable meal for my birthday. Anything that has bacon in it, on it, wrapped around it, is worth a try. I get the hankering for a good (messy) chili dog every once in a while. The chili is perfect - I subbed 1 Tbsp. of regular chili powder with some ancho chili powder. They are definitely and most certainly the best chili dogs I've ever had.

Friday, September 13, 2013

French Vanilla Cake Mix Waffles

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French Vanilla Cake Mix Waffles | 1 box of cake mix away from a sweet breakfast for the whole family to enjoy | www.fantasticalsharing.com

Having a waffle iron was one of the best investments I have made for my kitchen to date. I have this weird quirk where I can only make successful pancakes about 20% of the time, so being able to let a machine do most of the work makes for an edible breakfast for all!

What I really love about this recipe is that it is a shortcut and there are plenty of different flavor combinations you could do. I'm excited to check out the other flavor combinations I can make in the future. Check out Duncan Hines other flavors for their Frosting Creations frosting: here. [I'm not being compensated for that, I just want to show y'all what possible toppings you have!]

The waffles turn out fluffy and tasting just like French vanilla cake...the cinnamon roll frosting was the perfect topping for the cake mix waffles.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Baked Potato Grilled Cheese

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Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich | Crispy slices of potatoes, bacon, and cheese make up this yummy sandwich | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I'm always happy to find new and interesting versions of grilled cheese sandwiches. I was a little skeptical of this one with the potatoes and all, but it ended up being perfect. It's actually a lot more tidy than eating a loaded baked potato and it's also more filling than a plain old grilled cheese because you have the potatoes on there. Plus there is bacon...bacon makes everything better!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Broccoli & Chicken Alfredo Shells

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Broccoli & Chicken Alfredo Shells | A delicious meal when you are pressed for time! #chicken #alfredo | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I've actually made this recipe twice in the last few months because I knew I wanted to blog it, but the first time I had completely forgotten to get a picture. I'm sure making it twice in a few month's span sounds like I must not have liked this one, but it's actually the opposite. Nick has taken to telling people how many recipes I actually make and how something he really really loved he may get again in a few years, but it's actually pretty accurate. This is what happens when your wife hoards recipes.

Anyways...I ended up modifying the preparation of this one because I didn't feel like cooking everything and then putting it in the oven. So this went from about an hour to maybe 30 minutes preparing/cooking. It's simple, but it's delicious. Sometimes you really don't need a bunch of fancy ingredients to make a family favorite meal!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pina Colada Cupcakes

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Pina Colada Cupcakes | If you're not into yoga, then this cupcake is for you! #dessert #cupcake | www.fantasticalsharing.com

Nick is currently deployed for the third time and this go-around the kids are really old enough to grasp that concept. Last deployment, we did a kiss jar. I'm not gonna lie...I really didn't want to count out 365 kisses times two again. AND Matthew is too much like me and has a major sweet tooth that has landed him 8 cavities (that are all thankfully filled now). So I decided to kind of do a cake a month type deal...almost like a birthday. So each month, we've had a cake or cupcakes for one more month done. I let Matt & Cami pick out what they wanted from my cakes and cupcakes boards on Pinterest.

For May, I picked out the Pina Colada cupcakes that I've been wanting to make for so long. They are so cute and I'm big on coconut flavored cake or frosting. Top it with a cherry and umbrella - and you have the cutest cupcake EVER!


Monday, September 09, 2013

BLT in a Bowl

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BLT in a Bowl | A classic sandwich turned pasta dish extraordinaire! #bacon #BLT | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I have had this on my list of recipes to make for so long. I've put it off and put it off thinking it would just be an "eh, this is okay" recipe, one to make in a bind. However, I'm kicking myself for judging a recipe by its name. This is fancy BLT in pasta form...that's what this is. It's unbelievable. That balsamic vinegar adds another layer of oomph to the overall flavor of the dish. I really loved the fact that it had spinach in it, too.


Friday, September 06, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken

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Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken | Breaded chicken stuffed with all the goodness of a jalapeno popper | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I seem to be completely horrid at stuffed chicken recipes. They always end up super messy BUT they are so good that I can't help but make them again! So excuse the mess and listen to this...think jalapeno popper...and breaded, delicious chicken. YUM :) Everything about this was just delicious.

Do you make flawless stuffed chicken? Have any tips to share with me? I'm thinking that something was wrong with my chicken because no matter how much I tried to pound it thinner...it didn't work.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Steak with Garlic-Whiskey Butter

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Steak with Garlic-Whiskey Butter | www.fantasticalsharing.com | #steak #JackDaniels

Because I had a little Jack Daniels leftover from Monday's Monster Onion Bacon Burgers...I decided to make this recipe from Laura, a fellow military spouse and member of Group D in the Secret Recipe Club. I'm hooked on herb-like butter on my steaks after trying a few different recipes. You really can't go wrong with it!


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Raspberry Lemonade Slushy

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Raspberry Lemonade Slushy | The perfect refreshing #beverage for the last few hot days of summer | www.fantasticalsharing.com

My 6 year old is notoriously bad about eating fruits. I think the only way I can sneak any into his diet is if I make banana bread or he eats yogurt. Another way that I try and get him to get his fruit is with drinks. He's not a big fan of fruit juices (and neither is his tummy) and if it's a really thick yogurty smoothie, he usually drinks a little and then leaves it on the kitchen counter. Both of my kids are really into slushies though. I have to blame/thank the infomercials they saw on tv for the Slushy Magic cup thing.

I have to say that I really loved this too. Sometimes you really just don't want a thick dairy smoothie, but something more simple and refreshing. This was the perfect amount of sweet and sour - and it was gone in no time at all. Also as a side-note...I still love my Ninja [blender/food processor extraordinaire].

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Bear Lake Trail Mix

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Bear Lake Trail Mix | The perfect snack for when you can't decide what to pick! | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I volunteered to bring some treats to the battalion's Run 4 Resilience - I've had some poor luck with granola bar recipes and them falling apart. So for August's run, I decided to go trail mix for the treats. I took to my Appetizer & Snacks board on Pinterest and picked out this recipe from Nikki of Chef in Training. Both her and her sister-in-law Sarah of High Heels & Grills have posted this recipe that is a huge hit at their family reunion.

It was a huge hit at the run too! I doubled the recipe and filled over 40 snack baggies with trail mix and they disappeared within minutes. My kids each had a set too and they really loved all the different snacks they got to have in ONE little baggie :)

Monday, September 02, 2013

Monster Onion Bacon Burgers

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Monster Onion Bacon Burger with a splash of whiskey for good measure | www.fantasticalsharing.com

I am so excited it's September. Not only is it my birthday month, it's also my favorite month of the year (not because it's my birthday LOL). I love the weather - it's always just right, not too hot, not too cold. It seems like it doesn't rain as much. The leaves start to change gradually. AND SCHOOL STARTS.

Yes that absolutely warrants all caps! I adore school and I'm lucky enough to be starting my bachelor's program in a week. I am going for elementary education, so I'm going to be seeing a lot more of school in the future. Not to mention, my youngest is joining her brother in school this year and I will officially have an empty house! A kindergartener and a first grader - with a deployed husband. I don't know how much extra time I will have - I assume that I will have a little. I'm thinking I'll be able to cook more without the kids under foot and rushing to get the food on the table. Plus I will be able to do more with whatever I can pack in a lunch box!

Oh yeah, and then there's today's recipe...I didn't forget! :)

Today's recipe is one I actually saved aside because I thought my husband might like it. I typically don't drink whiskey and I'm actually really anti-Jack (which I'm pretty sure is blasphemous when you're from Tennessee), however, the splash of whiskey with the onions really added another layer of flavor and wow to a normal old burger. Unfortunately, I didn't make this until after he deployed - sometimes I do test out things while he is deployed because I'm so afraid they'll be duds. This burger is definitely NOT a dud and I highly recommend making it as soon as you can!