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Feb 28, 2014

Quote Friday

Life gives you the opportunity to learn, grow, and be stretched.
It's sometimes a rollercoaster of emotions, 
but I've learned that holding on tight,
being scared,
 and laughing are all part of the ride.

Feb 26, 2014

Lemon Lemon Cupcakes

I LOVE lemon.
Lemon dessert. lemon pasta. lemon chicken. you name it and if it's lemon flavored I'll eat it!
So it's no surprise that these lemon lemon cupcakes were a huge hit.
I even made up packages of them and delivered them to friends and they raved about the flavor!

{This recipe will make about 22-24 cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes}

Cupcake Ingredients

4 lemons 
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/3-1/2 cup lemon zest *


Okay, start by zesting a few lemons and squeezing the juice in a separate bowl.  
Set both aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add to flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated.

Add the milk and lemon zest and mix again just till incorporated.

Line two cupcake trays with liners and pour 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake

 (for mini-cupcakes, pour 1 Tbsp of batter into each one)

Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes and allow them to cool completely before frosting (bake 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes).

While the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.
1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
3 Tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
6-7 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon zest, whatever your preference

Let the butter soften to room temperature.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer.

Mix in the milk, vanilla, and lemon juice.
Add 6-7 cups powdered sugar and mix.
Add the lemon zest and mix….and take a taste.
Add more sugar and/or zest, juice, or milk if needed.


Recipe Source:

Feb 21, 2014

Quote Friday

You didn't do anything to earn my heart.
It just happened.
From the time I knew you,
it was yours.

Feb 17, 2014

Honey Sesame Chicken

Funny story.
I never liked Chinese food until college.
I don't know what it was,
most likely because I grew up in a small town in northern michigan and there really weren't any chinese restaurants.
Needless to say,
I am  ALWAYS on the lookout for a GREAT chinese dish and I am usually disappointed.
BUT I have found a sure WINNER that I am making ALL THE TIME now!
This Honey Sesame Chicken will blow your socks off and having you put the phone down from ordering chinese takeout and making it yourself!

4 chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
3 eggs
salt and pepper
¼ cup canola oil

¾ cup honey
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 t sesame oil
1 t minced garlic
1 T cornstarch
additional sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
 Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.

In separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. 
Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture. I have also found that you can put the chicken pieces in a gallon size bag and shake to coat.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and 1 T cornstarch.

 Pour over chicken and bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

I served ours with broccoli and fried rice.

Recipe Source:

Caramel Corn

Caramel Popcorn Balls

8 wood sticks (optional)
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
8 cups popped popcorn

{This is the type of popcorn I used, I found it at Bed, Bath & Beyond}


Combine sugars and corn syrup with 1/3 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolve.

 Once mixture has reached 240 F, remove from heat and stir in butter.

Return to heat and continue cooking until mixture reaches 300F. 

Remove from heat and carefully stir in baking soda and salt. (The mixture will bubble aggressively, so stir with caution).

Place popcorn in large bowl and gently fold in caramel mixture until well coated. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using greased heatproof gloves, take a handful of caramel corn and roll into ball.
 Place on prepared baking sheets and pierce with a stick.

Repeat to form 8 balls, refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.

 Let sit at room temp for 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: On a stick by Matt Armendariz

Feb 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

Happy Friday and Happy Valentine’s Day!! To show my love for you, my awesome readers, I thought it would be fun to do a little giveaway. Okay it’s pretty big!! I’ve teamed up with I Heart Nap Time‘s creative team to bring you one SWEET giveaway!! Enter to win a brand new kitchen aid (in any color). That's a $350 value! You’ll not only get the chance to win this awesome prize, but you’ll also find some fabulous new blogs to follow. YEA!

   Kitchen Aid Giveaway copy


Please enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter widget below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and Happy Valentine's day!! ;)

  Disclosure: This giveaway is in no way affiliated, administered or endorsed by Facebook or Pinterest. The giveaway closes on February 21, 2014 at 12 am EST. The winner will be chosen by and will be displayed in this post. The winner will be notified by email on or before 2/24/13 and will need to respond within 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen. Winner must be 18 years of age or older and a US resident in order to win. All prizes will be mailed by the sponsor, I Heart Nap Time LLC. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

Quote Friday

There are rare moments of indefinable beauty and joy that we will never forget.
The scent of a brand new baby,
the feel of soft, smooth baby skin fresh from the womb held against you for the first time
and the unforgettable sound of a first cry are memories held so dear to the heart that they will never be far from a Mother's thought.

Feb 13, 2014



This is my absolute favorite salad to make.
It is my go to when I need to bring something to a 
dinner party and it is always a huge hit.


Spring mix blend salad
3 hard boiled eggs
½-3/4 bag of apple chips, I used Seneca brand
½ cup sliced almonds
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tomato, diced

½ tsp salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar

{This is the brand of apple chips that I use.}

To make the almonds,
in a skillet pan on medium heat,
cook almonds & sugar until dissolved
 (be VERY careful because this will easily burn).
Stir constantly!
 Cool on wax paper.

Then make up the dressing. Add salt, vegetable oil, parsley, sugar, and vinegar to a small bowl and whisk.
Place it in refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

Then dice up the hard boiled eggs & tomato.
Mix everything together and then sprinkle the apple chips on top.
Be careful to not add the dressing until right when you’re ready to serve so that the chips don’t get soggy.

Feb 10, 2014

Puppy Chow

We recently had a Puppy Party at our house and while trying to think of desserts I remembered Puppy Chow!
I'd never made it before, but it was so easy and it was such a hit!
The best part is that if you have extra you can store it in the freezer and just munch on it when you get a craving!!

You will need
 1 box Crispix
3 cups creamy peanut butter
1 paper grocery bag
18 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 small bag powdered sugar

Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips over low heat on the stove top until creamy in a very LARGE pot.
Pour crispix into the chocolate mixture and gently stir.
Pour everything into the paper bag.
Add powdered sugar and shake the bag (closed of course) until the pieces are lightly coated.
Spread on a cookie sheet and freeze until ready to use. 

Enjoy it all year round!

Feb 8, 2014

Chicken and Roasted Garlic Lasagna

I saw this recipe for Chicken and Roasted Garlic Lasagna and it sounded so delicious.
I LOVE the taste of roasted garlic....think garlic mashed potatoes....and I knew it would be the perfect addition to this recipe. It is full of flavor and the combination of peppers, basil, and the roasted garlic blend beautifully!

This recipe makes a full lasagna in a 9x13 pan, but I halved it and put it in an 8x8 dish.
I have included the recipe both standard and halved.

You will need

Chicken Mixture
2 cups roasted chicken, shredded (I used a rotisserie shredded)
2 bulbs roasted garlic
1/4 sweet yellow onion, finely diced
5-6 baby bell peppers or 2-3 regular sized, finely diced (I used red and yellow)
6-7 fresh basil leaves, chopped
dried oregano, to taste
sea salt and fresh pepper, to taste

Other Ingredients
1 (32 oz) container ricotta cheese
1 egg
5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
dried oregano, to taste
fresh nutmeg, grated, to taste
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese (divided)
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
roasted garlic and basil marinara

Prepare the roasted garlic, recipe here.

Place the shredded chicken, roasted garlic, diced onion, diced bell peppers, and chopped basil on a cutting board and chop all ingredients together. Then sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and oregano (to taste).

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add ricotta egg, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, fresh chopped basil, nutmeg, oregano, sea salt and fresh pepper(to taste). Combine until mixed thoroughly.

Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package and drain.

Layer a 9x13 pan with just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
Lay three lasagna noodles in the pan.
Spread some of the ricotta mixture on the noodles,
then spoon some of the chicken mixture on top and sprinkle with a bit of mozzarella.

{Look at all that delicious roasted garlic!}

Spoon some sauce over the cheese, repeat layering.

Finish with a layer of noodles and remaining sauce.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, remaining 3 Tbsp of parmesan cheese  and a sprinkle of basil or oregano.

Bake covered in a preheated oven at 375 F for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

All the same ingredients, but
 I used 1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
6 basil leaves
15 oz ricotta
1 egg
sprinkle of dried nutmeg
6 lasagna noodles

Make it the same way as above, and cook covered for 30 minutes at 375 F and then uncovered for 15 more minutes.


Recipe adapted from For the Love of Cooking

Feb 7, 2014

Quote Friday

I have dreams in my life that may never come true,
travels that I may never take,
goals I may never be able to reach,
and hopes that might always be just beyond my horizons.
But I want you to know that whether they disappear altogether,
I will always feel like one of the luckiest people in the world.

Because I have such wonderful sons and I'm going to love you and be proud of you-FOREVER.

Feb 5, 2014

Cheesy Taco Soup

I've never had a taco soup before, but seeing as we're having a horrible winter with negative temperatures, I just needed something to warm me up!
This recipe was perfect for that and I loved how hearty it was.
I ate this right up and quickly got another bowl full!
Here's the recipe.


1 lb lean ground beef
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2-1/2 cups milk, divided
salt & pepper
1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1 package taco seasoning
10oz can Rotel, undrained
15oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
Crushed tortilla chips

Brown ground beef in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper, until no longer pink. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then whisk in flour and cook for one minute.
 Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk, season with salt and pepper, then switch to a wooden spoon and stir mixture until thickened, about 3-4 minutes. 

Remove from heat then stir in shredded cheese until smooth. Set aside.

Add taco seasoning, rotel, black beans, cheese sauce, and remaining 1-1/2 cups milk into cooked ground beef then stir well to combine.

 Bring to a heavy simmer then turn heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve with crushed tortilla chips and more shredded cheese, if desired.

Recipe Source: Iowa Girl Eats