Friday, October 30, 2015

Candy Corn M&M Cheesecake Cookies

Calling all candy corn lovers - these cookies are for you! Soft and chewy cookies with a hint of cheesecake flavor from the pudding mix and beautiful candy corn colors from the M&Ms.

Candy Corn M&M Cheesecake Cookies | Soft and chewy pudding cookies that taste like cheesecake with Candy Corn M&Ms for a seasonal treat #cookies #dessert

I have been meaning to get this up all day long, but just now finally sat down to do it. It's been a long day for sure, but a good one. We've been prepping for little Miss Saydee [see on instagram] to come to the house tomorrow. She's an 8 month old German Shepherd mix, but her foster mama tells me that she could fool anyone - she is all GSD, just mini. She's currently 40 lbs and probably won't get much bigger. We are so excited to meet her and hope that she loves us and becomes the newest addition to our family.

And, of course, tomorrow isn't just the day we meet Saydee - it's also Halloween. Matthew and Cami are so ready to go trick-or-treating and we're hoping the weather cooperates for that! I've been trying to get into the habit of making more seasonal recipes and more treats that they can pack in their Friday lunches. They bring sack lunches only on Fridays - so it's sort of special to them and they love to have cookies for dessert!

I saw candy corn M&Ms at the store and because I'm a sweets hoarder, I grabbed two bags. While I was walking through the rest of the grocery store, I decided I was going to make them into cookies. My go-to recipe for cookies is a pudding mix based cookie and so I strolled on over to the pudding mixes and found a CHEESECAKE flavored pudding mix. PERFECTION! I could not wait to get home and start making the cookies.

I decided to keep it simple and not any other "stirred in" ingredients, as I like to cal them. No chocolate chips or nuts. I thought the M&Ms would be enough. To be honest, they don't really have that artificial taste of candy corn, but they are still pretty fantastic and they go really well with the cheesecake flavor. The cookies were a huge hit and Nick was pretty stoked that one whole bag made it out alive because he just finished off the bag of Peppermint M&Ms from last Christmas. He hoards too!! :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - October 26, 2015

Menu Plan Monday on October 26, 2015 | My week of meals and grocery list! #menuplan #groceries

I am super excited this week because Nick came home one day last week and asked me if I could make him something for a company potluck they were having. He knows me all to well and signed up for desserts. So I'm making a recipe off of my secret assignment for Secret Recipe Club and then a pumpkin cupcakes recipe. I also finally made a breakfast recipe last week and so I hope to continue that momentum! What are y'all eating this week?

Berliners #SecretRecipeClub

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal day for my group, Group D! What is Secret Recipe Club? It's a bunch of food bloggers separated into four groups that post once a month on a designated Monday. Each month, we are paired with another foodie from our group secretly (hence the name). We then pick a recipe (or two or more) from that blog and make it. On our reveal day, we reveal whose blog we had and what recipe(s) we chose all at the same time. It's like a Secret Santa every month, but with food and blogs! It's a great deal of fun :)

This month I was assigned to Tara of Tara's Multicultural Table. I have been looking forward to having Tara's blog because I wanted to be a little adventurous. Tara's blog boasts so many different cuisines from Filipino to Greek to Australian and everything in between. I suppose I could have gone and done something more out of my comfort zone, but I was definitely intrigued by the picture for European cuisine on her recipe index [see here].

Berliners | A fabulous fried German doughnut filled with Nutella #SecretRecipeClub #recipe #Nutella

I did still pick out a few others as a back up, in case I royally screwed up the European recipe. There is Gnocchi Parisienne [French], Lemon Sage Chicken, and Loco Moco [Hawaiian]. Arme Riddere [Norwegian] was almost my pick, but I wasn't sure fresh strawberries would be any good at the store. In the end, I chose the German Berliners. They are these fabulous little German doughnuts, but I must direct you to Tara's post because she talks all about the traditions of Karneval where fried foods, like Berliners, are popular.

Berliners | A fabulous fried German doughnut filled with Nutella #SecretRecipeClub #recipe #Nutella

Tara had talked about different fillings for these fried pastries, including chocolate and different jams, and that is where I put my little spin on it and used Nutella for my filling. They turned out wonderfully. I used my deep fryer, so they cooked more quickly than if I had done it in a it really just depends on your method as to how quickly they cook. I always keep an eye on food when I fry it because it's one of those things where one minute they are almost done and you turn back to them and they are way way too fried!

Berliners | A fabulous fried German doughnut filled with Nutella #SecretRecipeClub #recipe #Nutella

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Easy Zuppa Toscana Soup Copycat #SundaySupper

Easy Zuppa Toscana Soup Copycat | A 7-ingredient Olive Garden copycat that tastes just like the real thing! #SundaySupper #soup #copycat #OliveGarden

Today's #SundaySupper theme is Warming Trends and is hosted by T.R. of Gluten Free Crumbley. It's all about dishes that warm you down to your toes. Of course, the first thing I thought of was soup and I just so happen to have plenty of soup recipes sitting as drafts in my Blogger dashboard. This particular soup is one I've been meaning to post for weeks. I actually cannot take credit for making this one - Nick did!

I planned to make this a few days before I was due to have Mason (on Wednesday - our soup night), thinking that my little guy would be punctual and be born on his due date just like Matthew & Cami were. However, I ended up having real labor contractions on Sunday - that like with the other two, stopped, so on Monday, I got my little kickstart and had Mason early Tuesday morning. So I had to stay in the hospital and I knew I was going to miss soup night and I knew I was going to miss this soup. So I begged Nick to wait for me and not make it until I got home. He graciously agreed and made it on Thursday evening, my first day home from the hospital.

Even though my hospital food was very very good, a homecooked meal was even better. It was February and the kids had been missing a ton of school due to snow days. So that made this soup an even more perfect meal! We used hot Italian sausage as recommended that gives it a little spicy heat in addition to the already lovely warmth that is that actual soup itself. This is sure to warm you up and it tastes just like the real thing from Olive Garden!

Easy Zuppa Toscana Soup Copycat | A 7-ingredient Olive Garden copycat that tastes just like the real thing! #SundaySupper #soup #copycat #OliveGarden

Friday, October 23, 2015

Let's Talk #RemixYourCoffee #ad

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Folgers. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It's Friday!! And this momma needed her coffee!! I had a rough day yesterday with little Mason man deciding to boycott his regular three naps and take a cat nap instead. Then I slept horribly because one of the kitties (not naming names *cough* Muffin *cough*) decided to smother me in my sleep. This morning I was woken up early by Cami worried about the school fundraiser (which isn't due until Monday). I finally got the big kids to school and was looking forward to sitting down with my cup o' joe...and then the school calls to let me know Cami has not gotten sick yet, but is in tears and needs to come home.

Days like these are definitely 2-cup days. I go a little overboard this time of year with pumpkin spice creamer, so I am happy to have found a little coffee goodie to switch it up a bit - and that is Folgers Flavors. Folgers Flavors is a concentrated liquid flavor enhancer that comes in a convenient squeezable container. What I love about the Folgers Flavors is that not only does it come in four different flavors (all of which I like: hazelnut, mocha, french vanilla, and caramel), it does not require refrigeration and can be taken on-the-go for those mornings I am in a rush and grab coffee in a race out the door. I added a little of the hazelnut Folgers Flavors, in addition to my pumpkin spice creamer this morning. I tried the caramel yesterday, which is my favorite so far! You can add as little or as much as you would like. It's definitely customizable for each person's tastes. I am very excited to try it with iced coffee this summer! For more information, stop by the Folgers website:

And a last little fun bit to start your weekend off right - check out this awesome Folgers #RemixYourCoffee video from Mike Tompkins: The Acapella Producer featuring Folgers Flavors and a clever twist on the iconic Folgers jingle. I already have the song stuck in my head :)

And because I think y'all should have the opportunity to try this product, I am hosting a giveaway for two samples of Folgers Flavors coffee flavoring for one lucky winner to receive!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fine print:

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
  • You must be 18 y/o or older to enter.
  • Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.
  • Begins 10/23/15 and ends 10/31 at 12:00am EST. Winner will be announced during the day on 11/2/15 on the blog, FB, and Twitter.
  • One winner will win 2 samples of Folgers Flavors coffee flavoring.
  • All entries will be verified and the number of entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • The winner will be contacted via email and has 48 hours to claim the prize or a new winner will be drawn.
  • The product will be sent to the winner after their response via Influence Central.
  • Fantastical Sharing of Recipes is not liable for any damages, lost, or stolen prizes.


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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cheesy Baked Gnocchi

Cheesy Baked Gnocchi | Take everyone's favorite staple, spaghetti, and turn it into a baked gnocchi dish that everyone will love #gnocchi #recipe

It's nice to switch it up every once in a while and not have your typical spaghetti dinner. I had found a recipe for spaghetti-like flavors with gnocchi and was incredibly excited to try it. While meal planning, I realized there was no meat in. And no meat = complaints from Nick and the kids. He has taught them to have to have meat for dinner. Can you see me rolling my eyes?

So easy enough, I just added meat to the mix. I feel ground beef or turkey is best, but I'm sure Italian sausage would be just as fabulous. It really is like spaghetti but with gnocchi instead of pasta. It's fairly quick to throw together and definitely a comfort meal. It will become a staple in your household!

Cheesy Baked Gnocchi | Take everyone's favorite staple, spaghetti, and turn it into a baked gnocchi dish that everyone will love #gnocchi #recipe

There is definitely room for variation. You could add sauteed mushrooms, roasted red bell pepper, and different herbs to make it your own and to make it to your family's tastes. And if you do try variations, please let me know how they turned out!!

Cheesy Baked Gnocchi | Take everyone's favorite staple, spaghetti, and turn it into a baked gnocchi dish that everyone will love #gnocchi #recipe

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Herbed Gruyere & Bacon Au Gratin Potatoes

Au gratin potatoes get a fancy twist with a spiced herb cream and gruyere cheese with everyone's favorite: bacon! This side dish is the perfect holiday recipe, sure to impress your family and friends around the dinner table.
Herbed Gruyere & Bacon Au Gratin Potatoes | Au gratin potatoes get a fancy twist with a spiced herb cream and gruyere cheese with everyone's favorite: bacon! #bacon #Thanksgiving #recipe

I adore the holidays - especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm not gonna lie, the food is a big part of why. And, of course, family too! Last year was a big year because we were finally living in Tennessee. We had actually just moved into our house right before Thanksgiving. Nick had not had a Thanksgiving with family since before he joined the army in 2006. We loved our military family Thanksgivings (don't get me wrong!), but it was really special last year to be home to spend the holidays with our family.

I love to plan out what foods to make and love to take risks to make new foods. Last year, I decided to make this recipe for Thanksgiving. The last few years I have made the turkey (even with military Thanksgivings) and it has been the same turkey every single year: bacon-wrapped turkey! This year will be the same and I believe I'm also going to be making these lovely au gratin potatoes again too. So I'll have to find some new recipes to try - probably dessert ones :) Anyways, I figured this recipe would pair well with the bacon-wrapped turkey and I was so right! I used some of the same spices from the potatoes on the turkey, which really turned out well.

This year, we are lucky to have Nick's brother coming in from Germany where he is stationed, and their grandparents and aunts are also coming into we will definitely have a crowd. I think our last count with just the family is 23 people. I cannot wait to plan out more dishes to go with these au gratin potatoes for our Thanksgiving dinner! If you are looking to change up your potato side dish for the holidays, I highly recommend this recipe. You will not be disappointed. 

Also a tip for large get-togethers, use the aluminum pans. They are a lifesaver - easy clean up for sure! But ignore the burned edges...that actually wasn't any part of the actual potatoes that got burnt, just the juices on the edges of the pan. Don't you love trying to make your food look super presentable and get that little extra touch?! :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - October 19, 2015

Menu Plan Monday on Oct 19, 2015 | My week of meals and grocery list! #menuplan #groceries

I have been pressed on time on Mondays and let this slip through the cracks the last few weekends. I definitely wanted to post today because throughout the week, I use this post to pull up my recipes. I'm lazy :P Hope y'all have a great week!

Shells & Cheese with Kielbasa and Peas
pasta*, frozen peas, cheddar cheese*, kielbasa (2), milk

Banana Nutella Muffins // Tacos
bananas // ground beef (2), tomato*, taco shells, cheddar cheese*, taco mix*, refried beans

Cheesy Bacon & Cauliflower Chowder
bacon, cauliflower, onion, sharp cheddar cheese, green onions

Triple Chocolate Donuts // Cheesy Tortellini Ragu Vegetable Al Fornu
buttermilk // onion, tortellini, zucchini, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, marinara, green bell pepper, mozzarella cheese

Easy Chicken Sandwich Melts
bread, canned chicken (2 - 12.5 oz cans), tomato*, cilantro, sliced cheddar

Homemade Zebra Cakes // Just Like Thomas English Muffins
[all ingredients] // [all ingredients]

Italian Chicken & Vegetable Bake
chicken breasts, baby carrots, baby potatoes, Italian dressing mix


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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Soothing Chicken & Rice Soup

Soups are perfect for the chilly October weather. This Soothing Chicken and Rice Soup is a great alternative to chicken noodle soup and, although uses simple ingredients, is incredibly flavorful and can easily be modified to add a variety of veggies and/or spices.

Soothing Chicken and Rice Soup | Whether it's to warm you up after a chilly day or nurture someone feeling under the weather, this chicken soup is a lovely alternative to chicken noodle soup! #recipe #soup

I am bound and determined to get back on a regular posting schedule. I've been trying to edit pictures, make my list of recipes to post, draft those recipes up, and now starts the daunting task of finishing posts to schedule them. I have a ridiculous amount of drafts, but little time to actually finish them. I'm trying so hard to not fail as a blogger. Sheesh.

Since it's October now, I'm trying to post all the soup recipes that I have made over the last year. We decided to keep soup night going throughout the warm summer months because we love soup that much. Now that it's chilly in Tennessee [really just this week, it started cooling down significantly], it's definitely the perfect weather for soup. For some reason, no matter how many soups I make, my oldest, Matthew, begs for two kinds: broccoli cheddar and chicken noodle. He really liked this soup because it was fairly close to chicken noodle - with the noodles being exchanged for rice. He still prefers chicken noodle, but he was happy with this soup too. [thankfully]

I have gotten into the habit of making pasta/rice separately from the soup because I absolutely hate waterlogged pasta/rice. It's the worst. Making them separate really helps to prevent that and then you can grab as much or little of it as you want for your soup. I tend to like more pasta than Nick does and sometimes it's hard to get the quantity of it you want out of a big pot of soup.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Maple Cream #HandCraftedEdibles

In an effort to make all of her holiday gifts this year, Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla invited some of her favorite foodie bloggers to share recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of the next twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes from homemade spice blends (last week's theme) to charcuterie trays and everything in between. Hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule: here.

This week, we're sharing our favorite special diets creations. They might be gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or sugar-free.

Good morning, everyone! I'm back with Camilla and the gang for another installment of HandCrafted Edibles. Today's theme is SPECIAL DIET. My family doesn't necessarily go out of our way to eat anything that follows a special diet, but we are open to a variety of foods, so we do often have foods that could be eaten by someone who does have a special dietary lifestyle, like gluten free or nut free. The following recipe is Maple Cream and it is gluten free, nut free, and you can also make it dairy free as well. I didn't make it dairy free though.

Maple Cream | | #maple #HandCraftedEdibles

So what exactly is Maple Cream? Sometimes it is referred to as Maple Butter and is lovely on toast, pancakes, stirred into coffee, etc. You take pure maple syrup and bring it to a boil. Then you cool it down and whip it until it's nice and creamy. Nick says it's tastes just like maple candies, just in spreadable form. He absolutely loves maple anything, so this treat was for him. If you want to make maple candies, you actually just heat it to a little higher temperature and cool and pour it into molds.

Maple Cream | | #maple #HandCraftedEdibles

I poured ours into a little pint-sized jelly mason jar for safe keeping, but it's been gobbled up! I'm not even sure how it made it to the jar in the first place!! :) This would make a great gift for friends and family, especially those who love maple.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Gingerbread Spice Mix #handcraftededibles

In an effort to make all of her holiday gifts this year, Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla invited some of her favorite foodie bloggers to share recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of the next twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes from libations (last week's theme) to cookie platters. Hope you'll follow along for inspiration.


I am so excited to be joining in with Camilla and some other great bloggers to share some hand-crafted edibles :) This week's theme is SPICE BLENDS, so I chose to make one that I've been meaning to make for forever. Although it isn't yet time for gingerbread, I want to be prepared. I am by no means rushing pumpkin season to be over because I love pumpkin, but it's going to be Christmas before you know it and you just gotta have gingerbread at Christmas!

Gingerbread Spice Mix for #handcraftededibles | This spice blend is the perfect mix to have on hand in the colder months - add it to your oatmeal, coffee, etc.! #gingerbread

When I was little, we made those little cinnamon gingerbread man ornaments at school and this spice blend reminds me so much of those little ornaments. I love having them on my tree. It's such a comforting smell! But even more so, this is a great little blend to have on hand and it makes for a perfect gift. Anywhere that you can put cinnamon, sub out the gingerbread spice! You can mix it into your morning oatmeal and pour it over coffee grounds before they are brewed. I personally will be using mine to make cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning because it's a tradition in my house to have cinnamon rolls. I wake up super early on Christmas and make breakfast, so it's ready before my early birds can even think about waking up.

Gingerbread Spice Mix for #handcraftededibles | This spice blend is the perfect mix to have on hand in the colder months - add it to your oatmeal, coffee, etc.! #gingerbread

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting #10000cupcakes #CookForTheCure #ad

Have y'all heard of Cook for the Cure? What about 10,000 Cupcakes? I am incredibly excited because I have paired with hhgregg and KitchenAid to Cook for the Cure. We all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and KitchenAid is supporting the cause by donating $1 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation when anyone bakes and shares cupcakes for 10,000 Cupcakes this month. How can you get involved? Read on! 

When you bake cupcakes this month, post a picture to Twitter or Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #10000cupcakes and #donate - and don't forget to tag @KitchenAidUSA - and KitchenAid will donate $1 to aid in breast cancer research.

Did you know in the U.S. alone - there are over 2.9 million breast cancer survivors? [source] That is a large number, but unfortunately many still die from breast cancer - and I definitely want to do my part to raise awareness and help the cause! I know at my children's school, there are two teachers and a member of our small PTA that were recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm sure all of us know someone who is currently fighting or in remission. So that is why I immediately went out to get ingredients to make cupcakes [with a little pink thrown in there] to Cook for the Cure!

Pink made me think strawberry or raspberry and chocolate always pairs very well with berries. I originally was trying to find some raspberry flavoring, but struck out. I couldn't be too bummed out though because these are like chocolate covered strawberries in cupcake form - and that is definitely a win in my book!
Devil's Food Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting | Support breast cancer awareness this month by baking cupcakes for #CookFortheCure and @KitchenAidUSA will donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen foundation #ad #10000cupcakes

I had to, of course, break out my pink potholder and pink spatula that I purchased over the years to support the Susan G. Komen foundation. KitchenAid has pink mixers for Cook for the Cure that can be purchased through hhgregg, if you're in the market for one. I don't think I could talk Nick into having a second one just because it's pink, so maybe I'll decorate mine with some pink vinyl. Black and pink go so well together, right?!

These cupcakes use prepackaged cake mix with some additions - they turn out very fluffy and light. Almost like sponge cake. The strawberry syrup turned the buttercream a lovely soft pink color and I added a touch of hot pink sanding sugar. I cut my frosting recipe in half because the original buttercream recipe I adapted utilized 4 sticks of butter and 1 1/2 lb. powdered sugar and I really don't think I needed THAT much frosting!!

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting | Support breast cancer awareness this month by baking cupcakes for #CookFortheCure and @KitchenAidUSA will donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen foundation #ad #10000cupcakes