Thursday, February 28, 2013

CLR Bath & Kitchen Cleaner

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of CLR for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


I’ve decided someone should invent automatic, self-cleaning kitchens and bathrooms.  Toilets that automatically clean themselves, sinks that magically wipe out toothpaste, tubs and showers that erase hard water stains and mineral deposits.  How about kitchens that automatically clean and put away the dishes?!  Ahhhh, we can dream right? 

 photo Jelmar|WeCleanMoreThanYouThink-Home_zpsc4d6b490.jpg

In the meantime, I’ve been looking for products that make my cleaning life easier.  With a husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs, hard water, and an older home (1989 doesn’t seem that old…but do you realize that was 24 years ago?! Yikes!) there is a lot of cleaning to be done.  And let’s be real, who enjoys cleaning toilets? Especially if you have males in the house.  Just sayin’.  Well, you have probably heard of the CLR Brand of products that are great for tough stains, lime, rust, etc., and now they have CLR Bath & Kitchen Cleaner.  It won’t put away the dishes or sweep the floor, but it's for stubborn jobs like calcium, lime, hard water stains and soap scum that are so difficult to clean in kitchen and baths.  I don’t know about you, but I am for anything that makes cleaning faster and easier.  Less cleaning time means more computer time!  Just kidding (not really).

Also, did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency has a “DfE” (Design for the Environment) designation? I wasn’t aware of it until recently, but it means that a product with that seal has a safer chemistry and is not harmful to everyone in your home. CLR Bath & Kitchen Cleaner has this seal.  So not only is it fast acting and powerful, but I can feel comfortable using it in my home.

So what about you, what is your least favorite cleaning chore?  I bet CLR brands can help!  Follow along on Twitter (@clrcleaners) to find out more about their brand and products available. 

Hopefully, someone is out there working on those self-cleaning kitchen and bathrooms, but in the meantime, I guess I’ll leave it to the maid.  Oh yeah, I forgot, that’s ME!

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Is it just me, or are popcorn recipes 'popping' up everywhere? (Did you like that little pun there? hahaha Sometimes I'm just so clever. Or not.) Seriously, it seems like everywhere I favorite blogs, on Pinterest, it's popcorn.  Which, of course, has me craving...yep, you guessed it, popcorn!  Last night I made a huge bowl of air popped popcorn, and added a little coconut oil, and sprinkled some seasoning similar to this one, and it was SO GOOD!  My son and I ate the entire bowl, and that was a lot of popcorn.

So anyway, I thought it would be fun to do a little popcorn round up.  There are tons of ways to eat popcorn, and just as many ways to prepare it.  I love my air popper, but before I had that, I used the brown bag method.  Some people swear by using oil and kernels on the stove top, and others love their Whirley Pop! Others rather just stick a bag in the microwave and be done with it.

So, some of my favorite popcorn recipes...

This "Cinnabon" Popcorn is hands down, my all-time favorite (so far) -

This Birthday Cake Batter Popcorn was also pretty addictive

I think I would love this Brown Ale Caramel Corn from Pocket Change Gourmet

And this Cinnamon Bun Popcorn by Everyday Insanity...drool!

How about Nutella Popcorn by Inside BruCrew Life? Nutella..'nuff said!

Need a little kick? There is Spicy Caramel Bacon Popcorn by A Cozy Kitchen

And how cute is this Green Candied Popcorn for St. Patrick's Day from Skip to my Lou? This would be great for my son's preschool party.

So what about you? Are you a Whirley Popper? Brown bagger? What's your favorite way to eat popcorn?  If you know of a good recipe, feel free to leave me a link in the comments!

*The photos belong to the blogs the recipes are linked to. If you would like to Pin a particular recipe, please pin from the original source, thanks!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. I like popcorn.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boar's Head heart-healthy deli meats & best sandwich ever

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boar's Head for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I recently had the opportunity to try some of the Boar's Head heart-healthy deli meats, and because I love trying new things, when I saw the Boar's Head Horseradish Cheddar, well...I had to try that too. good!  As a matter of fact, I had two of the best sandwiches I have had in a long time - and they both had one thing in common.  Boar's Head.  It's official, I'm a fan!

The first sandwich I tried was actually from the deli I bought the Boar's Head meat and cheese.  They had a variety of Panini sandwiches, using the Boar's Head products.  I tried one called 'The Beamer'. It was on wheat rye,  had a couple of different cajun and spicy meats and cheeses, red onions, banana peppers, and I don't even know what else. It was ahhh-mazing.

One item I purchased is this. the EverRoast® Oven Roasted Chicken Breast. It is one of their certified heart healthy deli meats.  Since my mom has recently been in the hospital for dangerously high blood pressure, has high cholesterol, and heart disease has deep roots in my family tree, I realize how important it is to follow a heart healthy diet.  It is also nice to know that I don't have to give up some of my favorite foods.  

I love a good sandwich, but a lot of deli meats have very high sodium contents.  It's nice to know that Boar's Head offers choices that are low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and meet specified limits for sodium.  Not only are they great for sammies, but there are all kinds of recipes you can create!  For example, I've also been incorporating more quinoa into my diet, so this EverRoast® Chicken Quinoa Pilaf  sounds good.  I think I will use cranberries in the place of the raisins. Check out Boar's Head for more information on a heart healthy diet, and for more recipes!

My sandwich had the oven roasted chicken breast, horseradish cheddar, spring mix salad, red onion, and an avocado ranch spread. It was delish.  Wheat or other whole grain bread would have been a healthier choice, but I happened to have this thick sliced bread so I used that.  What can I say, I'm a work in progress.

What about you? Are you taking steps to prevent heart disease and other chronic diseases that plague so many of us?  Are you like me, and genetically predisposed to have high blood pressure and cholesterol?  I know I need to work harder to fight these things, and I'm trying!  I'm also trying to instill the knowledge of making healthier choices into my children, b/c they are swimming in the same genetic pool!

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Wordless Wednesday - Nursery Rhyme Day

Nursery Rhyme Day at Preschool

Can you guess who he is?

{Can you also guess that mama forgot about it until last night, so this is the best I could come up with!}

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ginger Molasses Muffins

Spring may be coming, but it's not here yet! Seeing as how I've been without heat for 2 weeks, I have been eating warm and cozy comfort foods. (Side note - heat was fixed TODAY! YAY! However, the guy who was installing the new part literally said a prayer before turning the unit back on.  I thought he really wanted it to work so he could quit coming out here - this was his 3rd trip I think, and I know he was ready to be done with me. But he actually said to me "I just really don't want to blow anything up." Dude. Not inspiring confidence. Yep, true story. I couldn't make this crap up. Thankfully, it works!)  Anyway, back to these comforting muffins...they have the warmth inspiring flavors of cinnamon, ginger and molasses.  I am such a molasses fan!
See that SNOW in the background! Yep, snow in Eastern NC...a rarity, but yes, it snowed while my heater was on the blink.
These muffins have healthy wheat bran and coconut oil, but they are not heavy and dense. They are light, moist and delicious.  

Ginger Molasses Muffins 

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat bran (ground flax or wheat germ can also be used)
1/3 cup Stevia in the Raw
cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup molasses
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (can sub 1 ½ tsp dried ginger)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
Combine all of your dry ingredients in a medium size bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl beat together eggs, coconut oil, milk, molasses and fresh ginger.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling about 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm with a little pat of (Smart Balance) butter!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Crockpot Hamburgers in Gravy & Menu Monday

Recently, I posted how to cook ground beef in the crock pot (aka slow cooker), and it got me to thinking...what about hamburger patties in the crock pot?  I wasn't sure if it would work or not, I was afraid the patties would just fall apart, but they didn't!  It actually worked out well.  I started with lean frozen hamburger patties...
Excuse my terrible cell phone picture. The patties look gross and freezer burned, but they weren't. 
 I stacked 6 patties in my crock pot (with a liner - completely optional, it just makes clean up so easy!)  I added hamburger seasoning, water and beef bouillon. (You could use a cup of beef broth or beef consomme)  I would have added onions too, but I was out.  I let them cook for 6 hours on high.
If you have a packet of gravy mix, or a can of Cream of Mushroom, you could go ahead and add those too, I would think.  I, however, didn't have either of those (can you tell I needed to go to the store!), so I removed the hamburgers at the end of the cook time and added the liquid to a skillet. To the liquid (basically beef broth, because I used lean ground beef), I added homemade cream of chicken and brought it to a boil so it would thicken up.  I then put the hamburger in the skillet with the gravy and let it all simmer together while I got the sides done and table set, etc.  It only took a few minutes.  As you can tell, I'm not a gravy connoisseur.  If you actually know how to make gravy, you may be able to do it all in the crock pot and skip this step, or make the gravy and add to it.  This is just what worked for me with the stuff I had on hand.

Crock Pot Hamburgers in Gravy

Lean Beef Hamburger Patties (I used 6)
1 cup water 
1 tsp beef bouillon 
homemade cream of chicken (equivalent to 1 can)
salt and pepper - to taste

Place patties (mine were frozen, I think you would need to reduce cook time if using fresh) in crock pot with water and beef bouillon (or beef broth). Cook on high for 6 hours.  Remove patties and use broth to make gravy. Add broth to skillet and add homemade cream of chicken soup, bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Add hamburgers, stir, and add salt and pepper as needed.  I don't like to add salt at the beginning of a dish in the crock pot, b/c sometimes it ends up way too salty.

NOTES: As stated above, you could probably make the gravy in the pot with the patties if you have prepared Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom, Golden Mushroom, gravy mix, etc.  Also, this is a very basic version of hamburgers in gravy.  If your family likes mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, etc., have at it! 

I served this with Cauliflower Gratin, which I somehow managed not to take a single picture of, and canned green beans. We love some canned green beans.  Exciting, I know.

Something new I am trying to do is MENU PLAN! I don't know about y'all, but for me, it's hard and time consuming!  However, it really helps me out during the week to have a plan.  Granted, it often changes, but at least I have a general idea of what I want to make based on the ingredients I have on hand.  I base our meals for the week on what is already in the pantry/freezer and then make a list of things I need to get to finish out a recipe.  I've been doing menu plans since January, and thought I would begin to post them on the blog.  Maybe it will help someone else out!  I can also keep up with what I have made, what worked, etc.  So here goes...

Monday - Chicken & Dumpling Casserole (I have a rotisserie chicken in the fridge that I am going to use)
Tuesday - Sausage, Egg & Biscuit Breakfast Casserole (We love breakfast for dinner. I have some homemade turkey sausage in the freezer.)
Wednesday - Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken (hopefully I will make homemade buns to put it on, but we'll see how that goes!)
Thursday - leftovers or pasta
Friday - French Bread Pizzas (loaf of bread in freezer, easy homemade pizza sauce in fridge)
Saturday & Sunday - I've left open because I don't know what our plans are yet.

If you do not have time to menu plan, you should check out Eat at Home's Weekly Meal Plans.  She does all the work for you!  You get a slow cooker AND traditional menu plan each week, emailed to you, with a grocery list, printable recipes, side dish suggestions and more, for only $4 a MONTH!  

So what about you? Do you plan out your meals or just wing it?

I am linking this recipe up at (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaHolly's Stamping AddictionThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a Dime,Delightfully DowlingSkip to my LouProject InspireMaking the World CuterMrs. Happy HomemakerI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!My Favorite Finds (Tuesday) Snappee TurtleNaptime CreationsMandy's Recipe BoxPocket Change Gourmet,  33 Shades of GreenBlessed with GraceZentmrs. & The Mr., Memories By the Mile (Wednesday) Fluster BusterSemi Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsHungry Little GirlNaptime is My Time (Thursday)Designed DecorTaste and Tell,  Miz Helen's Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee's(Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryMummy DealsOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy  (Saturday) Sassy Little Lady Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says...Six Sisters' Stuff, (Sunday) Mommy's Sweet Confessions  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Quinoa

I'm sorry, didn't that Groundhog say something about SPRING coming soon?  I think maybe he was wrong. It's cold. And raining. And I've been without heat for ELEVEN days.  Yes, 11 - I'm kinda pissed about it.  I'm fearful the heat repair man will not even come back since I pretty much went off at the without-heat-for-a-week mark.  Thankfully, I live in eastern NC and not Alaska, or Minnesota or places where people have to shovel out of their house.  And, at least I can eat stuff like this to help keep me warm...

After I made the Blueberry Pecan Breakfast Quinoa, and realized I actually like quinoa, I started playing around with different variations.  Since I have this obsession thing for pumpkin and oats (as evidenced by my Overnight Pumpkin Oats, Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats,  and Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal), this was obviously the next breakfast quinoa to try!  Good call.  Good call.  It's delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Quinoa adapted from Veggie Converter & Blueberry Pecan Breakfast Quinoa

1 cup raw quinoa, rinsed (and toasted if desired)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or preferred milk or water)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Topping - anything you like (or plain) I added dried sweet and tart cherries, and pecans

Bring the quinoa, and milk to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes or until tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add pumpkin puree, maple syrup, spices and chia seeds (if using) and stir until combined.  Heat through.  Remove from heat, divide into 4 servings. Top as desired.

Verdict -  {warm!}comfort food. It's delish, and healthy!  I divided mine up into individual servings, then placed the remaining 3 in the fridge to eat on for the rest of the week.  It was nice having breakfast already prepared, and all I had to do was give it a nuke in the microwave.  Just add a little milk if it is too thick.

Linking this recipe up at Eat at Home, and the Gooseberry Patch Blog

Thursday, February 21, 2013

L'oreal Paris B.B. Cream Review

We are deviating from food today to talk about a new product I have had the opportunity to try.  I don't usually get excited about new skin care products b/c I have such wacky skin.  It's super sensitive and there are SO many things on the market that I can not use.  However, I always like to try new things, b/c I feel like the fountain of youth is around here somewhere. 'Cuz I ain't gettin' any younger.  Partly b/c of my skin sensitivity, and partly b/c I'm just lazy, I don't like to use a bunch of different products on my skin.  My make up routine is very, blush, eyeliner, lip gloss, mascara.  And now, L'oreal B.B. Cream!
I am now sold on this product, and plan on continuing to use it after my free sample runs out.  This one tube does the work of FOUR different products.  It primes and smooths  'perfects' to hide flaws, hydrates, and corrects by evening skin tone. The product has such skincare ingredients as Panthenol, Vitamin E and Glycerin for 24-hour moisturization.  The best part is IT DOESN'T BREAK OUT MY SKIN!  I can wear a primer and moisturizer (in one) that doesn't make my skin go berserk   This is awesome! I have tried primers in the past, to help my makeup stay on longer (since it's oily), but the one I tried was chalky and didn't go on well.  This one is so light, you think it isn't doing anything, but it is! It helps cover imperfections (like some of my dark spots, and fine lines), it goes on completely smooth - no chalkiness, and it hydrates.  

I can't believe I am posting these, but I am hoping you can see that the product really does help.  The lighting  in my bathroom at 7AM is pretty terrible, but here goes.  The top pic is no makeup.  The second makeup is after applying BB cream, and the last is with a light dusting of my mineral foundation.  That is another reason I am loving this takes much less time to apply foundation than before, and I use a lot less.  I like that my already simple routine, is even faster!  No more standing there blending and adding more powder and blending some more.  The BB Cream has a tint to it, and all I need is a little foundation now.  It covers up most of my sun spots and evens out my reddish skin tone.  I am using the Light, but it comes in 4 different shades and retails for $10.95 for 1 fl oz. Also, it is sold at mass food and drug retailers nationwide, so you shouldn't have trouble finding it.  

So, that's my review.  As you can see, I'm pretty fond of it!

 I received a complimentary product from SheSpeaks/L'OrĂ©al to facilitate this review.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Purex Crystals for Baby and a GIVEAWAY!

Last month I posted about Purex Baby laundry detergent, and how it smelled so awesome, and how I couldn't wait to try Purex Crystals for Baby.  Well, as a Purex Insider, I had the opportunity to try it.  They sent me a bottle, and I have already purchased another one, b/c it is that awesome.  I kid you not, it smells amazing! It literally smells....delicious.  Like I want to eat it. (So, maybe keep it out of reach of little ones - because it really does smell good enough to eat!)

Now, if some of you are saying "well, I don't have a baby, so I don't need baby detergent or baby softener", I'm here to tell you, you will want to wash your own clothes with this stuff!  I wash the entire family's laundry in it (and my "baby" is four) b/c I love the smell so much.
Purex Crystals for Baby
Not only does it smell great right out of the bottle, but it has a lasting freshness that is infused in your clothes that last a good while, and leaves them nice and soft.  AND it is safe for my sensitive skin kids.  I have been using unscented stuff for a long time b/c my kids have sensitive skin, so I am super excited that they can now have incredible scented laundry, without any rash or itching. Seriously, it is hypoallergenic and dye free.  It's also safe for high efficiency washing machines. My only complaint is I want it to come in bigger bottles, which is coming soon! (and that Wal-Mart has been selling out as fast as they can get it in, but hopefully that will get better).
So, because I am so in love with these products, and I don't want you to think I'm just trying to promote a product (I don't get paid for this btw), I am giving away a coupon for a FREE full size bottle of Purex Crystals for Baby AND a coupon for a FREE bottle of Purex Baby Detergent. (One winner will get both coupons!)  I want you to try this for yourself, b/c I think you will agree that it smells incredible.

Just enter via the Rafflecopter form. If you are viewing this in email, the form may not come up, just click through to the actual blog post and it should load. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purex provided me with a sample of the above products in exchange for a product review.  All opinions expressed are my own. They have also provided me with coupons to use as I please, and I will be mailing them to the winner with my own stamps, b/c you guys are awesome. And so am I :-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana - Lightened Up!

Oh yes! The perfect cold weather comfort food. I mean seriously, this is the food version of a warm, fuzzy blanket in front of a blazing fire when it is snowing outside, with a cup of hot cocoa in hand.  Which almost describes my weekend, seeing as how our downstairs heating unit went out this we spent a lot of time huddled up in the living room in front of the fireplace, b/c for whatever reason, it takes a week for the part to come in.  These heat people need to get with the program, I mean helloooo?  What about over night delivery?!  Anyway.  That's a gripe for another day.  This soup is so warm and comforting, it will make you forget about the frigid temps.  

Not only is it delicious, it's also pretty good for you, thanks to reducing the cream and a good amount of the superfood, kale!  Yes, under all that cream and sausage, there has been a leafy green hiding.  Even better, these changes were made without sacrificing the flavor we know and love from this very popular soup.
I've had a few friends waiting patiently for me to get this recipe posted since I put a pic on FB the other day, so here goes!

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana - lightened up!
 adapted from 

1 lb Italian Chicken Sausage (see notes)
3 medium baking potatoes, with skins (1/8 to 1/4 inch slices-see notes)
1 large chopped onion
1/8-1/4 cup bacon bits (optional)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 (packed) cups kale, stalks removed and chopped
16 oz. chicken broth
1 quart water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/4 cup skim milk

  • I used Spicy Chipotle Chicken Sausage b/c that is what I had on hand.  Hot Italian Chicken Sausage would be excellent however.
  • Slicing the potatoes in varying widths helps add texture to the soup. The very thinly sliced potatoes 'dissolve' into the broth, making it thicker and creamier.
  • I used a 1/2 cup heavy cream b/c I happened to have some leftover from another recipe, however, next time, I will only use half-and-half and milk. Cream is delicious, but not really necessary, and will reduce the fat even more by leaving it out.
Remove sausage from casings and cook in a large pot over medium high heat until done. 
 Remove sausage, add onions, and cook on medium heat until translucent.  
Add garlic to onions and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds or so). 
Add sausage back to pot, then add broth and water.  
Bring to a boil, and add potatoes.  
Cook on medium high until potatoes are done.  
Add bacon bits to soup if using.  I used about an 1/8 cup of Hormel Peppered Bacon Bits.
Taste, and add salt and pepper if desired.  I didn't add any.
Turn heat to low, and add kale, cream (if using), half-and-half, and skim milk.
Heat through, and serve!

VERDICT - This soup was creamy, delicious, filling with a slightly spicy kick.  In my opinion, it tasted very much like the original, but I have only had it at Olive Garden once, a few months ago.  However, this is definitely on my list to make again very soon.

I am linking this recipe up at (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaHolly's Stamping AddictionThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a Dime,Delightfully DowlingSkip to my LouProject InspireMaking the World CuterMrs. Happy HomemakerI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!My Favorite Finds (Tuesday) Snappee TurtleNaptime CreationsMandy's Recipe BoxPocket Change Gourmet,  33 Shades of GreenBlessed with GraceZentmrs. & The Mr., Memories By the Mile (Wednesday) Fluster BusterSemi Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsHungry Little GirlNaptime is My Time (Thursday)Designed DecorTaste and Tell,  Miz Helen's Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee's(Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryMummy DealsOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy  (Saturday) Sassy Little Lady Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says...Six Sisters' Stuff, (Sunday) Mommy's Sweet Confessions   

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Apple Spice Crunch Cake & other super fast desserts

Anyone sitting here, right now, thinking "I have nothing special planned for my family for Valentine's! What am I going to do?!"  Yes, I realize it is Valentine's Day, and most of you have all these great plans for romantic dinners and so forth.  But maybe, just maybe, there are some people out there like me who spent all their free time (non-sick free time that is! Thanks Mr. Three for that lovely cold you shared last weekend.)  baking up cookies for preschool, and running around all over creation b/c the closest Wal-Mart and Target are 30 minutes away trying to get party supplies, and the Wal-Mart was completely sold out of everything except EASTER candy...oh wait, am I ranting?  It kind of feels like I'm ranting....back to my point.

For whatever reason, some of us do not have a special dinner planned, or have a special dessert ready, OR maybe you have been invited somewhere at the last minute and you need a dessert NOW.  One that is a crowd pleaser, but doesn't require lots of prep or ingredients. I'm here to say, I've gotcha covered. Dump cakes to the rescue!  If you are not from the South, you may be saying dump what?! ewwww.  However, these simple cakes are a staple of every potluck I've ever been too.  They are super simple to put together, and they are very yummy.  You just "dump" ingredients together...hence the name.

Apple Spice Dump Cake (or Crunch Cake if you prefer)

2 cans apple pie filling
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
Nuts - optional

Lightly spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non stick spray (I don't even know if this is necessary, I just did it to be on the safe side.)  Dump both cans of pie filling and spread in an even layer.  Sprinkle DRY cake mix over the top in an even layer.  Place slices of butter all over the top of the cake mix OR melt the butter and pour over the top...I don't think it matters.  (In the pic, I had only used one stick of butter, so I have some dry patches. Always trying to cut fat over here!)  Sprinkle nuts over the top if using.  Bake in a 350 F degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes...basically until golden brown on top.

Serve warm or room temp, with ice cream or without!  In my opinion, this is best the day it is made b/c the topping is crunchy. It is still good the next day, but the top starts to soften from the filling.

There are so many variations too....
This is a Blueberry Dump Cake made with one can of crushed pineapple, one can of blueberry pie filling, and yellow cake mix.  You can use any fruit you like. See the recipe post HERE.

Rather have chocolate?  There is a dump cake for that too!
Chocolate Pudding Dump Cake with 4 ingredients! (Cake mix, pudding, milk, chocolate chips)

Want even fewer ingredients? How about just TWO?!
Apple Angel Food Cake (can also change up the pie filling to whatever you like)

Skinny Brownies (brownie mix and a can of soda. Or pop..whatever)

Or, what I like even better...
Skinny Brownies with brownie mix and yogurt

So there you go.  Desserts that are super easy, but sure to please.  You are on your own with dinner, 'cuz I'm clueless on that one right now myself!

Happy Valentine's Day!  Make yourself dessert and enjoy.  What are your plans tonight? I'd love to hear them so I can be jealous :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Freezer Cooking - Ground Beef in the Crock Pot

Did you know that you can cook hamburger in the crock pot?  Talk about bulk cooking made easy! I'm lovin' it.

Check out my post over at Eat at Home for the details!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Boy, that was a long title, and a lot of chocolate chip talk, but if you have a chocolate lover in your life, then you might want to see how easy it is to make this cheesecake.  Since, you know, we have that holiday this week.  The one all about chocolate and hearts and luuuvvv stuff.  Excuse me while I barf in my mouth a little.  Sorry, my cynical nature is shining through.  I love LOVE, and chocolate.  I just don't do mushy. Moving on...
It's a rare occasion to find my husband in the kitchen cooking something, but when one of his children asks for something, they usually get it.  So, when my daughter asked for a chocolate cookie crusted cheesecake that he has made one time before, for her birthday, he made her one.  

He is of the mentality, go big or go home, so this was no wimpy cheesecake.
I mean, just look at that crust!  A chocolate lover's dream.  

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust
from Mr. Makin' it Mo'Betta

for crust:
1 tube refrigerated cookie dough (like Pillsbury)

for cheesecake:
3 pkg. (8 oz) 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, softened 

3/4 cup sugar*

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

3/4 tsp. vanilla

3 eggs

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

*This cheesecake can be sugar free by using a sugar substitute, like Splenda and leaving out the chocolate chips. And using a different crust of course! We make it this way often.

Preheat oven to 300 F.  
Take raw cookie dough and cover the bottom and halfway up the sides of a springform pan.  Mash down firmly.  (Cover the bottom of pan with aluminum foil to catch drips.)
In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and eggs until well blended.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour cream cheese mixture over cookie dough.
Bake for 45 minutes or until center appears almost set (it will be just a little jiggly in the center).
Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from pan.

Yep, this was a happy girl. She had two over-the-top birthday cakes! (Check out her Chocolate Candy Cake for her birthday party if you missed it. It is also a chocolate lover's fantasy!)

This would make someone pretty happy on V-day, don't cha think?!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Treats and Ideas for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and I, always being on top of things, have a full line up of new things to share. hahaha, just kidding. I've done nothing.  I've done nothing, and I am in charge of the Valentine's Party at Preschool.  Yikes.  So, what I have done, is round up the things I've done in the past, and will hopefully gain inspiration for what I need to do next week, and maybe give you and idea or two as well.
Peanut free Chex Mix in cute little Valentine boxes (boxes from dollar section at Target last year.)

Bark is super easy, yummy and so cute!

Pink marshmallows dipped in white chocolate or almond bark, then decorated. The kids had fun with this one.

One year, I made these cookies, and my son's preschool class decorated them. I'm thinking about doing this again this year.  Maybe heart shaped cookies on a stick?

These were super cute! See my original post for the link to the FREE printable!

And you should definitely make these. With Valentine candies of course.

Or if you are being good, and sticking to those resolutions (that I have yet to start), then this 'Skinny' Strawberry Cake is perfect.  One can of Diet Sprite/7UP/Sierra Mist etc. added to one box of cake mix.  Stir and bake according to package directions.  No eggs, no oil, just those two items. Crazy, but it works.

Now, with these ideas, plus my Valentine's Pinterest Board, I should be able to come up with something!

all the things I heart. haha, get it?!

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