Friday, August 30, 2013

Root Beer Float Cookies

It's hard to come up with something new when it comes to cookies. Sometimes it seems like I've tried every combination of chocolate chips, of fruit and nuts, of flavored doughs, of crunchy or soft texture variety, etc. I tend to sit up and take notice when I see something I haven't tried before. I actually acquired this recipe more than a year ago, I just haven't been able to try it before now. You see, this recipe requires root beer concentrate. Something I haven't been able to find here, or anywhere, for that matter. Until last week that is.

When I saw root beer concentrate on the shelf at Kroger, my mind immediately went to this recipe and I snatched that tiny bottle up. It was time to put this recipe through the wringer. And wow. These cookies taste exactly like root beer! I love it. The white chocolate chips lend the perfect amount of creaminess, they work perfectly as the "float" part of the cookies. The cookies are nice and crisp on the outside, but perfectly soft and chewy on the inside. I'm seriously in love with these cookies, they are the perfect departure from the norm.

And might I say, perfect for a late summer weekend heading into fall ;)


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg, room temp
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp root beer concentrate
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray, set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add egg, mix well. Add milk, root beer concentrate, and vanilla to bowl, mix well.
3. In a another bowl, combine flour through cream of tarter. Whisk to combine. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, mix well to combine. If dough is too dry, add a tsp or 2 more of milk (only add a tiny amount). Fold in the white chocolate chips.
4. Using a cookie scoop, place dough about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake in oven 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are browned around the edges. Remove from oven, cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes, then remove cookies to a cooling rack. Cool completely before storage.

Recipe courtesy of Your Home Based Mom

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shrimp Nicoise Salad

I meant to be blogging about this yesterday. Yesterday was house-cleaning day. The kind of house-cleaning you only do once every 6 weeks or so. You know, more than the perfunctory cleaning, but less than quarterly cleaning. For me, this includes polishing my stainless steel appliances. I recently ran out of my favorite polish, and was forced to try a competitors brand. To say that it didn't live up to my expectations would be an understatement. I had been buffing my fridge for an hour (an outrageous amount of time to be buffing the damn fridge). I was furious and dripping in sweat, trying to buff the streaks out of the fridge. No matter what I did, the streaks would not budge. My temper steadily began to rise at an exponential rate.

I have a temper.  A crazy, mean, boisterous temper. It was out-of-control when I was a kid, but I've learned to remain calm in most situations. Yesterday was not "most situations", as it turned out. I had a full-fledged temper tantrum- stomping my feet, eyes bulging, face tomato-red, spittle flying extraneously.  It was not pretty, I'm so glad I was home alone. I was beyond incensed . My fridge looked better before I decided to clean it. I should have just left it alone. As any extreme outburst of emotion will do, I immediately felt better upon calming down. Not calm enough to sit down and type without throwing the computer at the wall, mind you, but calmer.

So that was yesterday, and of course, I'm sitting here thinking about how childish I acted. So my fridge has some smudges until I receive my old polish (which I feverishly ordered 3 bottles of!) from Amazon. Big deal. I'll live. As for this salad, perhaps I should have made this last night to calm me down. Shrimp and potatoes are two of my favorite comfort foods. Without further ado, here's how to make this delicious, traditionally French salad-

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 tbsp olive oil, divided
6 small red potatoes, quartered
salt and pepper
15-20 haricot verts
16 large shrimp, peeled
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp anchovy paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved


1. Preheat oven to 400º. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. Combine 1 tbsp oil, potatoes, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Toss to combine. Place potatoes in a single layer on cookie sheet. Roast in oven 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and browned. Set aside.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil. Place haricot verts in boiling water, cook for 1 minute.  Drain beans, then plunge into a ice bath. Swirl the beans around, remove from water when cool. Set aside.
4. Preheat grill to high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, then thread shrimp on skewers. Turn grill down to medium-low heat. Grill shrimp 1 minute on each side, remove from heat. Set skewers aside.
5. In a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp olive oil with vinegar, anchovy paste, garlic, and mustard. Whisk thoroughly to emulsify.
6. On a plate, combine 2 cups lettuce, 1 hard-boiled egg, 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/8 cup kalamata olives, 1 skewer of shrimp, and half of potatoes and beans. Drizzle with oil dressing, serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Bev Cooks

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Smoky Black Bean Soup

I really enjoyed this soup. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. Sometimes I get all gung-ho to make a recipe, and then somehow, I lose my excitement right in the middle of making it! That happened with this one. All was set right after the first taste test, however :)

I always forget how much I love black bean soup. I first tried it in college, and immediately fell in love. I love the thick, creamy texture, and being able to customize each bowl with sour cream and shredded cheese. The weather during those 4 years of college seemed to be rain 90% of the time, so a toasty bowl of soup was always appreciated after running home soaked after class.

I found this recipe to be a thick, comforting soup. It wasn't bad for a summer evening, but I can tell this will be perfect comfort food for a bitterly cold winter's night. I served mine with bread and butter, which was delicious. A light salad would also make a good side dish to this filling soup. Bonus: This soup doesn't take a lot of ching-ching to make. It was actually extremely wallet friendly, mostly utilizing pantry items.

I hope everyone made it through Monday! I had a doctor's appointment yesterday morning, but I had lunch with a friend in the afternoon. It was my first experience trying a Chinese restaurant in the area, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's always nice to add more variety to an already small and homogenous repertoire of restaurants :)


1 tbsp olive oil
2 (3 oz) links chicken sausage, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
4 tsp lime juice, divided
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt


1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add sausage in a single layer. Let cook for 2 minutes, stir to flip sausages over. Cook another 2 minutes, or until sausages are browned. Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon, set aside.
2. Add onion and bell pepper to pan, saute 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and cumin through pepper to the pan.
3. In a small bowl, add 1 can of beans. Using a potato masher, mash the can of beans. Add mashed beans, normal beans, broth, and chipotle to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes.
4. While soup is simmering, combine sour cream, 1 tsp lime juice, honey, and salt. Set aside.
5. Remove soup from heat, stir in reserved sausage and 3 tsp lime juice. Salt to taste. Serve immediately, topped with sour cream mixture.

Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine

Monday, August 26, 2013

Basic Pizza Dough

I've been on a mission for the last couple of months. I've been concentrating on homemade pizza. Pizza is one of my most favorite foods. I love all kinds. I've tried every alternative for dough- making fresh, buying fresh at local pizza joint, buying canned pizza dough, buying frozen pizzas, letting the dough rise in an area that's warm, letting it rise in a slightly warm oven, etc. I could go on, as you can see. I've tried it all. This is the best recipe I've found. It's all about the simple ingredients, and the technique.

I make mine first thing in the morning, that way it can rise slowly. All day. In the fridge. That's right, I go for a cold rise.  What can I say? I've had the best results. Another way I get the best results? It's not all about the rise. Oven temperature plays a huge role as well. And that oven needs to be HOT. Caliente! I heat mine (and my pizza stone) at 550º for 1 hour. Yep, 1 hour. Might I suggest not making pizza on a hundred degree day? I let my dough rest on the counter for an hour while the oven heats. After an hour, I turn the oven off, and the broiler on. Once the pizza has been piled high with ingredients, put it under the broiler for 5-7 minutes. That's it! The result is a thin, crispy crust with all those blistered pockets that restaurant pizzas have.

Pepperoni and Green Olive Pizza
That's a good looking pizza! I highly recommend that you try making your own pizza, it's so delicious. And way healthier than standard fare, since you can control the amount of processed and preserved food your family eats. It's really not as much work as it seems (of course, I recommend preparing your sauce beforehand, since that's where most of the time consuming work will come from!). Oh, and I don't have a stand mixer, so this recipe takes a little elbow grease. If you have a mixer, by all means use it and make this recipe super simple!

Ingredients (For 1 large pizza):

3/4 cup warm water (105-110º)
1 tsp sugar
1 package yeast
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp olive oil
corn meal


1. Combine warm water and sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over sugar water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Yeast should be bubbly and active after 10 minutes. If it's not, your water was too hot and your yeast died, or your yeast was too old. Either way, do not move forward. You must start over at this point. Sorry peeps, yeast is a sensitive ingredient.
2. Add flour, salt, and olive oil to bowl. Stir until just combined. Sprinkle flour over your work surface, and dump dough onto your work space. Begin to knead the dough, kneading for 10-15 minutes. Dough will take on a different texture, and begin to move as one fluid piece. Dough will be slightly tacky.
3. Sprinkle flour on a plate. Place dough on plate. Sprinkle flour over dough, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in fridge, and allow to rise for 8 hours. Remove from fridge 1 hour before you will be preparing it (preheat oven and pizza stone to 550º while your dough is resting).
4. Sprinkle flour over your work surface. Turn the dough out. Using a rolling pin, roll your dough out to desired shape.
5. Turn oven off. Turn broiler on. Remove pizza stone from oven carefully, place on holding rack. Sprinkle corn meal on stone. Place your rolled out dough onto the pizza stone. Sprinkle a little corn meal on top of dough. Add sauce and desired ingredients to pizza. Place pizza stone back in the oven, broil 5-7 minutes, or until desired doneness.
6. Slice, and serve!

*Recipe courtesy of Confections of A Foodie Bride*

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Do They Know??

The scene at our house last week upon returning home from grocery shopping-

Yes, mini Dingo bones were on sale, and yes, I picked some up. It seems Gizmo knew they were in that Rite Aid bag as soon as we walked through the door.

He then gave me the look. The look says, "I'm not stupid Mom, I know what's in that bag. What's more, I know that you know that I know what's in that bag."

Inevitably, he's got to bark at that bag. I imagine he's growling, "Get. In. My. BELLY!".

Time to bring in the big guns. He's recruited his brother to stare at the bag as well. I was planning on giving them a bone after dinner that night, but unfortunately, I was persuaded to give them their bones. Right then.

I heart Chihuahuas :)

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Best Blueberry Muffins

My love of blueberry muffins goes back to childhood. My mom used to make the best blueberry muffins, I loved them straight out of the oven, toasty and warm, and slathered with butter. The thought still makes my mouth water. These may not be my mother's blueberry muffins, but damn, they be good!

Me, being the curious baker that I am, find great pleasure in testing out different muffin recipes. When I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try it. This recipe is different from others I've tried in that you make a fresh blueberry jam that is swirled throughout the muffin. That ribbon of blueberry goodness is to die for! The outside of the muffin develops a crisp crust, while the inside is moist and soft. These are freakin' amazing!

I made a dozen the other day, and between the hubby, his coworker, and my in-law's, these muffins are long gone. I found them best when they were heated in the microwave for 20-30 seconds before eating. Yummy!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):

1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp sugar

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries


1. In a small saucepan, heat blueberries and sugar over medium-high heat. Cook 5-6 minutes, or until blueberries have cooked down. Stir often, mashing blueberries down with the back of your fork. Set aside, and let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In another small bowl, whisk to combine the sugar and eggs. Whisk about 45 seconds, or until texture is consistent. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, melt butter in microwave, about 15-30 seconds. Whisk in canola oil. Whisk in egg mixture. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla.
6. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Using a spatula, stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries.
7. Divide batter among the muffin tin. Scoop about 1 tsp of the jam onto the tops of the muffins. Using a skewer, swirl the jam into the muffin batter.
8. Bake in preheated oven 14-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let muffins cool in tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Cool completely before storage.

Recipe courtesy of See Brooke Cook

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Drunken Gummy Bear Popsicles

Do I ever have a Thursday treat for you!

Don't worry, I'm almost done with the popsicle recipes. I've only got this one, and one more to share. I'm just trying to get them all in before the end of summer. Summer is seriously winding down here, the temperature and humidity are already greatly reduced. I just love the summers here, I'm sorry to see fall start to descend. And why not watch summer head for the hills with a spiked popsicle?

For those of you who know me, you know I have an extreme weakness for gummy candy. My biggest weakness is sour gummy candy, but gummy bears take a quick second. I always have gummy bears on hand. It's a habit I haven't been able to grow out of :) Of course I saw these popsicles on Pinterest, but I actually saw the recipe that featured a photo of soap. Tsk, tsk people. I'm so glad I use my own photos. So while my popsicles don't look like that picture, it's ok. Mine are actually edible!

As I mentioned earlier in the week, vodka does not freeze. I decided to soak my gummy bears in vodka overnight before I put them in the popsicles. Only problem? I accidentally left them for 2 days, and those little bears drank all the vodka! I guess I used college age bears, hehe. I soaked them in about a cup of vodka, these popsicles pack a serious punch in the face. Perfect for a Labor Day get together. That is, if you have to spend Labor Day with family...

Ingredients (makes 4 popsicles):

1/2- 3/4 cup gummy bears
1 cup vodka


1. In a small bowl, combine gummy bears and vodka. Store combination in fridge 24-48 hours (soak longer for a "stronger" popsicle).
2. Divide gummy bears amongst a popsicle mold. Fill popsicle mold full with 7-Up. Place sticks in popsicles, freeze for 24-48 hours (due to the alcohol content, these popsicles take significantly longer to freeze).
3. Run mold quickly under warm water, slide popsicles out of mold. Store in a ziploc bag in freezer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Written in Stone

The yard is a huge work in progress.

We've got almost 2 acres of property, and it seems at times that the majority of the property is overgrown in vegetation. The hubby does as much as he can, but the weeds grow fast. Needless to say, the hubby is weed eating on a lot of his days off. Last weekend, he cleared the weeds from the this retaining wall on our property to find a blast from the past.

The hubby said he remembers the day that his family built this retaining wall on the property (obviously in April of 1995). FYI- That's not my name on the wall, the hubby's sister's name is also Jessica. Weird fact, but true. And no, the hubby doesn't have a brother named Adam, Adam was the hubby's childhood friend who he is actually still friends with today. I told the hubby that he must have been sure him and Adam would always be friends if he was willing to write it in concrete :)

Here's where the hubby's mother wrote her name.

I think it's super neat to have this on my property. What an awesome memory to keep around.

The hubby was a little saddened by the discovery. He mentioned it was obvious from the discovery that his parents had planned to live at this property with their family, and it's sad that that never happened. Life happened instead, the hubby's parents are unfortunately divorced now. Still- a little piece of history is left in our care.

Time for some FANTASTIC news!

The hubby and I have booked our annual Oregon trip. We are going to be in Oregon October 25th- November 25th. I'm so excited! I can't wait, and of course, I'm hoping I'm better with my camera this time and remember to take some pictures. Or at least remind the hubby to take some pictures :)

I hope everyone is having a great week, happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

I'm a new convert to figs. When we were up at Costco last week, I spotted fresh figs. I just had to get them, something inside me was clamoring for a challenge. One, I'd never tried them before. Two, I see recipes for figs all the time. A very gourmet ingredient.

I asked the hubby if he had had a fig. He replied, "Yeah". I was surprised. Until he informed that he had had Fig Newton's, which he considered a fig. I burst out laughing. The hubby considers artificial flavors how things actually taste. What do I mean? The other day I was pitting fresh cherries to eat. The hubby was watching me and informed me, "Ugh, I hate cherries.". I've heard this for as long as I can remember, so I just ignored him for the most part. Until I sat down, and he grabbed one from my bowl and ate it.

"Yum!" I hear from down the couch. I turn and look at him, perplexed. He explained that he had never ate a fresh cherry, he'd only had maraschino cherries. I could not believe it. Did he know, I asked wondrously, that maraschino cherries are sweetened and preserved, and are practically not even real cherries anymore? For that matter, there are tons of fruits where the artificial flavor taste nothing like the real thing. Cherry, watermelon, strawberry, grape, etc. I could go on. The point of all this- the hubby will be trying fresh versions of all fruits before he is allowed to tell me he hates them.

Back to the figs! I love the appearance of the fig. It looks totally formidable, and like you'd have to work your a$$ off to get the fruit out. Like a pomegranate. Well, appearances can be deceiving, because you simply remove the stem and eat the whole thing. They have a sweet aroma, and a crisp interior. Roasting them and pairing them with a creamy goat cheese? Perfection. I recommend you go forth and try some fresh figs, before they go out of season until this time next year!


Fresh figs, stem removed (halved or sliced)
Goat cheese (spreadable and softened)
French baguette


1. Preheat oven to 425º.
2. Place figs in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet on top rack in the oven. Place french baguette on middle rack. Bake figs 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly and brown. Bake bread until browned, about 12-15 minutes. Remove both from oven.
3. Thinly slice the baguette. Spread goat cheese onto the bread, place a halved or sliced fig on top.
4. Enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Red Winesicles

Calling all red wine lovers!

I saw winesicles on Pinterest the other day, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about  them. What an interesting idea. I think these would be just perfect for an adults-only summer evening.

Ok, here's a couple of things I learned while making these popsicles. Now, as any college grad worth his/her weight in gold would know, alcohol does not freeze. So for all of you college freshman out there thinking the only thing better than ice in your vodka is ice made out of vodka, throw in the towel now. It ain't gonna happen. Wine and beer on the other hand? We all sure as heck know that if you leave a Pabst in the freezer for too long, it will explode. But that's a can, not a popsicle. These popsicles don't get as frozen as other popsicles, I believe due to the alcohol involved.  So when you are removing them from the mold, you don't have to run under warm water for a terribly long time. Another thing- because they aren't as solid as other pops, be careful when you are wiggling the pop out of the mold. It is possible to pull the stick out of the pop. And let me tell you, once you pull the stick out, you can't get it back in. Refreezing will not make the stick stay. You'll also need to lick fast, as they melt pretty fast.

I decided to just make a wine pop, but you can go ahead and toss diced fruit into these pops to make it a sangria pop. You'll note from this recipe that there isn't a ton of wine in these, so I'd say you aren't shknockered from these. But they do taste just like wine, which makes them good, ol-fashioned fun. If you are a wine-o and you want to make a fun, novelty item for your wine-guzzling buddies, I'd say go ahead and try these.

And, because you are going to be licking these down, use a good quality wine that you actually like to drink! I used one of my favorite red wines.


3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup red wine


1. In a small saucepan, heat orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar over medium-high heat. Cook 2-3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Set aside, let cool to room temperature.
2. In a pourable container, thoroughly stir together the juice mixture and wine. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, place handles on popsicles. Freeze at least 8 hours before serving, or overnight.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blackened Tilapia Tacos

Mmmmmm, fish. I love fish! It's really hard to come by in Kentucky. It's certainly not as available to me as it was in Oregon! I mainly buy frozen shrimp, mahi mahi, and tilapia. The hubby and I made a trip to Cincinnati yesterday however, so I was able to pick up some salmon as well. I could eat salmon every day.

So, this recipe changed mid-preparation. I spice-rubbed the fish, and proceeded to make a dressing for a slaw that was supposed to go on the tacos. And the dressing was gross. I tinkered with it, and tinkered with it. Nothing helped. It was nasty. I wasn't about to eat that (the garbage disposal ended up having it for dinner), so I just set out regular taco fixings to go with these. Turned out delish! Fish tacos are one of my favorite dishes, and the blackened tilapia was a nice change from a taco with crunchy fish.

And speaking of that Costco trip, we picked up a ton of tasty proteins for me to cook with! I'm so excited! We stocked up on not just salmon, but shrimp, New York strips, flank steak, thick-cut pork chops, and lamb loin chops. I'll definitely be having some tasty recipes to feature on the blog in the next couple of weeks. Yum!


2 tilapia filets
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp canola oil
6 inch tortillas, warmed

diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, reduced-fat sour cream, chopped cilantro.


1. In a small bowl, combine salt through pepper. Rub mixture on tilapia filets. Let sit for 15 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add fish. Cook 2-3 minutes, turn fish over (if fish sticks, it's not ready to be flipped over. Wait a minute, then try flipping again). Cook another 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Flake fish with a fork.
3. Spoon fish into warmed tortilla. Add desired toppings, and serve.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

To Hunt... A Grasshopper

On the prowl...

Is that a grasshopper over there?!

Why yes, yes it is!

You think you can hide from me??

Got em'!


And delicious!

All right, who's next???
The Weekly Score


Haloti, 8
Grasshoppers, 0


Haloti, 2
Grasshoppers, 0

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chunky Peach Popsicles

Boy, do I ever have a ton of popsicles ideas. Life is going to be popsicle-licious over at dis' here blog for awhile! I'm so glad I bought popsicle molds, I can't stop using them. Homemade popsicles taste soooooo much better than store bought, I can't believe I ever wasted my time with pre-made's.

Peaches were on sale last week, so I picked up a couple of pounds to do something with. I wasn't sure what, but something was going to happen. I tossed around ideas for Peach Cobbler, saw a recipe for Peach Panna Cotta (I'm probably still going to try that one!), and contemplated a Peach Barbecue Sauce (that one's probably still going to happen, too). My brain was shouting popsicles during my research period however, so that's how these popsicles came to be.

I left about a cup of chunky peach puree reserved from when I processed the peaches to add at the very end, thus ending up with chunks of peaches in the popsicles. So yummy and refreshing. Popsicles are also one of the most easiest treats to make, with very few ingredients, for those of you with time crunches.

Now, my next couple of popsicle recipes are going to be for adults only. I think you know what that means (whip out the booze!) ;)

Ingredients (makes 8 popsicles):

3 large peaches, halved and pitted
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


1. In a food processor, pulse peaches until texture is chunky. Reserve 1 cup of chunky peaches.
2. Add orange juice through vanilla to the food processor. Process until texture is smooth. Move peach mixture to a pourable container. Stir in chunky peaches.
3. Fill popsicle molds. Stick a popsicle stick in the middle, and freeze for 4 hours, or until solid.

Recipe courtesy of Delish

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why I Coupon

Combos, Playtex Tampons, Brawny Paper Towels, Finesse Shampoo and Conditioner, Lady SpeedStick, Sally Hansen Insta-Dry and Complete Salon Manicure, M&M's, Reese's Mini's, Softsoap Hand Soap, Irish Spring Body Wash, Softsoap Body Wash.
I thought instead of the usual weekly breakdown on my haul, I would use this opportunity to talk about why I still coupon. Some people I encounter give me that "Girl, you crazy" look when I tell them I coupon. There was a time when the hubby and I had to coupon. When we first moved to Kentucky, we had some serious budgetary issues and money had to be saved. Now that the hubby has a great job, I think people assumed I would stop couponing. Nope.

I had some minor complications with my haul this weekend, and I was seriously bent out of shape. First of all, I was seriously disorganized. I hadn't cleaned out my binders or cut up my coupons from last week. I put my list together hastily. At Rite Aid, my coupons had expired the day before. At CVS, I made a math error when putting my list together. I tend to be one of those people who gets seriously bothered when things don't go perfectly. Which is often in life. So after the drug stores, I was feeling crummy and inadequate. I was still feeling bummed about my haul until this morning, when I sat down to crunch some numbers on the haul.

For this week's haul, I paid $27.73. The total value of the products was $78.29, which means the total percentage of savings on my haul was 65%. That's really not that bad, and not an unrealistic percentage of savings. Unbeknownst to you all, I buy a lot more when I shop than what I picture. What I picture are items that I bought with coupons. It's rare to get coupons for fresh veggies and fresh meat, and veggies are the bulk of what I buy at the grocery store. Another fact that I don't talk about- my weekly maximum budget is $100. I almost always try to spend less than that, because any money leftover in my budget goes into the coupon savings account. I also transfer any money saved from coupons and/or sales into my coupon savings account. Most stores will list on their receipt how much money you saved with sales and coupons. So, as an example, I spent $83.16 last week. I got to transfer $16.84 plus the $69.70 that I saved with coupons/sales into my savings account. For a crummy week, that's still a good amount of money. It all adds up.

To put all this in perspective, let's go back in time about 7 years. I was working crazy hours, I was at work more than I was home. I didn't do any kind of sales planning. I just made a quick list of meals I would make for the week, and then buy what I needed. Willy nilly. Most weeks, I spent $150-$175 on groceries. For 2 people! I want to bawl like a baby sometimes, when I think about all the money I threw away. And that didn't even include my personal items for the month (shampoo, conditioner, makeup, etc.). If you add up all that money over a year- that's about $7200 in groceries. Not to mention, another probably $100 a month for cosmetics ($1200 a year!). That's $8400. Yowsa. If you took what I spent this week (and said I spent that every week) that would be $3,991.68. That's a serious, serious difference. A $4,408.32 difference, to be exact. So, it really wasn't that bad of a week after all.

The hubby and I have benefitted greatly from couponing. Since starting a savings account to keep track of our savings last year, we were able to make such a large down payment on our brand new appliances that we are making our last payment on those next month! We've also been able to build our couponing account back up to over $2000 already. We are hoping to pay cash to fence in our backyard next summer, and I think that goal is completely do-able.

So for me, the whole couponing thing is not about getting a lot of junk for free. It's not even about being a cheapskate. It all comes down to good common sense. I used to fork over that $4,408.32 that I now save to stores. These days, I keep it for myself.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Playlist: 8/10/13

I'm loving summer music right now! I think this summer has been one of the top summers for music. There hasn't been summer music this good since Katy Perry's "California Girls". That was the same summer that Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie", Usher's "OMG", Ke$ha's "Tik Tok", Travie McCoy's "Billionare", and B.o.B's "Magic" hit the airwaves.

I know what you are thinking. How do I know that? I'm obsessed with music. Every song on my iPod reminds me of something. A memory is attached to every one. Seriously. Play a song on my iPod, and I can tell you what it reminds me off. All the songs I listed above, I remember for one reason. That was the summer that the company I used to work for sent me on my first business trip. It was to Jacksonville, Florida in June of 2010. It was my first time flying by myself, renting a car by myself, staying in a hotel by myself, etc. After meetings and classes all day, I would return to my hotel room, open a bottle of wine, settle down with a tabloid, and put on my iPod. Hence, listening to all of my summer music that year.

I can already tell this summer's music is going to be around for quite a while for me. I am still freakin' obsessed with "Blurred Lines", in all of its controversary-causing glory. Well, yesterday I stumbled on Flo Rida's "Can't Believe It". I cannot get enough, that song is on repeat around here! It's been great fun bumping that song in the new car. Speaking of that song, it's time to go get my run on :)

Hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad

This is only my, oh, 4th or 5th time making this dish, it's about time I got around to blogging about it! I'm so enamored with the dressing for this salad that I'm the crazy girl running around trying to convince my family that this dressing could practically make mud taste good. And please, no emails after you put make this dressing and put it on mud, only to discover that it does not make mud taste good. I was speaking hyperbolically.

In all seriousness, we've all had those days when you don't feel really feel like cooking, right? Plus, you've got leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge? This is a perfect, fast, and nutritious dinner to pull together in 20 minutes. I roast a lot of chickens, so it's nice to keep various recipes using rotisserie chicken on hand. The first time I made this, it immediately made it to the top of my go-to recipes for leftover chicken.

I'm excited because the hubby actually has tomorrow off, which means we get to have a real weekend. We're starting it off low-key (surprise, surprise) with this salad for dinner, and watching The Wire. I made it earlier this afternoon, so I could clean the kitchen and do most of the dishes before the hubs got home.

Low-key evening, here I come! I hope everyone has a great weekend!


1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 orange or red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 lb cooked chicken meat, roughly chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup frozen edamame, defrosted

Sweet Chile Thai Dressing


-Combine cabbage through edamame in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing, toss to combine. Serve immediately, or chilled.

Recipe adapted from Smells Like Home

Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Wheels!

The hubby bought me a new car! A 2013 Nissan Sentra, to be exact.

I'm so darn excited, this is my first new car! I've had my last car since my junior year of college, which has been about 10 years. Wow, I can't believe it's been that long. Alas, all good things come to an end. And the old Sentra seems to aging exponentially now that it's at the end of its life. A new car has been needed for awhile, a family has to have some sense of dependency.

I've never had a car that I loved as much as the second car that I owned. It was a 91' Toyota Celica, and it was my car soul mate. I proudly named her "The Bat Mobile". I totaled The Bat Mobile my junior year of college, but I'm still not over that car. I compare every car to that one. But all that was before I had a car with built-in navigation, a rear-view camera, blue-tooth capability, and really, really good air-conditioning...

Shiny, new headlights...

Lots of trunk space...

The camera got wet (torrential down-pours here!), but I got a nice shot of the rear-view camera for backing up...

There is something to be said for that new car smell...

Anyhoo, I just took the new car for a spin (just now!), and I'm in love. Car love!

I hope everyone's having a fantastic Thursday. One day closer to the weekend :)