Save the Day Buffalo Chicken

This isn't really a recipe persay- just a survival guide in case you ever have a day like, well, most of my days.
One of those days may look like but is not limited to:

* Washing machine breaks in the middle of 6 loads
* Son learns to pull himself up and subsequently pulls things off bookshelf
* Cat claws up door frame and you have no touch-up paint
* Husband decides to go out and play instead of helping
* Feeling like you got hit by a train, bus, sportscar, T-38, whatever
* On 3 hours of sleep because son has two new teeth coming in
* Kicked washing machine; may have broken toes
* Hearing you may have to move entire house by youself while husband is being tortured in a POW camp
* Son pulls cats hair, gets scratched, now both are cat and son are fussing
* Xbox refuses to work so your only break to watch some 30 Rock is now non-existent
* Knowing friends are at waterpark and you are stuck here with all this
* Husband comes home, plays Xbox (how in the hell did he get that to work anyways?!)
* Son won't take nap
* You need a snack, but have no food and no energy to go to store
* Make popcorn, it burns. Whole house stinks.
* Slam possibly broken toes into homemade babygate consisting of chair and ottoman
* Husband asks whats for dinner. Crap.

Ladies, ladies, ladies (and the occassional gentleman) it is ok to use flavored boxed rice! It is ok to use store-bought marinades instead of making them from scratch! It is ok to throw it all together on a day you just don't feel like working hard. You deserve a good meal on days like these, on days when you can't fathom taking another step or dealing with another fiasco. You might not have the stresses I do (aka the thought of husband having to spend 3 hours in a tiny box 'buried underground'- have fun honey) but you work hard, so don't stress yourself by spending more time in the kitchen than you have to. Can I get an 'amen'?!?! That's right, sista. Amen.

Dinner tonight- done in 20 minutes
Notice the hot and steaminess of it.

Take thawed chicken breasts, place in large ziplock bag. Dump marinade into bag. I used some KC Masterpiece Hot Buffalo sauce we were given by Sara and Vince (thanks guys- it was delicious!). Save some sauce to brush onto chicken later. Let chicken marinade at least 30 minutes in fridge. During this time, kick your feet up, pour yourself a glass of wine, and make your lazy husband get up and start the grill.

Start rice. No directions here- just follow the box. We chose a Rice-a-Roni Creamy 4 Cheese. It took 15 minutes on the stovetop- same amount of time it took the chicken to cook on the grill and for me to slice up some fresh zucchini and summer squash and sautee them with butter, salt, and pepper. Be sure to brush the chicken with some more of the sauce to add some extra flavor at the end of grilling. Crumble some blue cheese over the top and melt it to offset the spice of the buffalo sauce if you need to.

Next step: Enjoy your dinner. And then make husband do the dishes.... its only fair :)


Guest Blogger: Mindy Bradley

Mindy (Julia) Bradley (Child)

My goal in life really is to be able to cook like Julia Child.  To attack the kitchen with the same joy and passion that she had.  To not turn away at the thought of simmering, searing, roasting, basting, stuffing, trussing, whatever it may be.  I love cooking, although, I'll be the first to admit that I often tend to shy away when there are more than 10 steps involved.  I will get a hankering for a dish then I will search for hours through cookbooks and the interwebs until I find what I'm looking for.  Often times I will take pieces from this recipe and from that recipe and combine them to satisfy my taste buds.  After I make it once, I will then add my own twist to it.  This makes Chase very nervous.  :)  A few times it has failed, but boy when it succeeds, I love that I can call that recipe my own!  My family cooked dinners, but other than my grandma's chicken and dumplings, we have no "signature" recipe.  I've made this my goal.  I love cooking for my family and have them rave over my dishes.  The place I am truly most comfortable is indeed the kitchen!

This recipe is one of those (sorta) make it my own.  It's based from Rachael Ray's Shephard's Pie.  My dad is probably the pickiest eater on the planet.  A true meat and potatoes kinda guy, as long as the meat is completely well done and the potatoes are mashed and have only salt and pepper on them.  So for your picky eater's pleasure, I introduce to you:

Dad Approved Shephard's Pie

2 sleeves Idahoan potatoes (I used buttery homestyle)
1-2 lb's hamburger (we used deer meat)
1 can corn
1 can peas & carrots
1 mini can peas & carrots
1 packet french onion soup
2 Tbs Butter
2 Tbs flour
1 cup beef broth
2 tsps Worcestershire sauce (4 or 5 splashes)

Cook hamburger meat, drain (if needed).  Add cans of corn and peas & carrots.  In small bowl (I used measuring cup), mix beef broth, worcestershire sauce and french onion soup (it won't be dissolved).  Melt butter in small saucepan, add flour and thicken.  Once thickened, add broth mixture and stir for a minute or two until it thickens.  Add mixture to meat and veggies.  Put in casserole dish (the size will depend on how much meat you make, use your best judgement), top with mashed potatoes and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  If you have cheese eaters you can cheese to the top of your potatoes before you bake it....my dad prevented this from happening.

My own notes*  You can use actual potatoes and make all that from scratch if you'd like, but I kid you not, these Idahoan potatoes and fantastic (and oh so easy)!  You can also change up the veggies that you put in it.  The recipe called for peas too....I didn't miss them.  :)  You can also use a fresh onion or onion powder. I feel as though the soup mix does it justice though. 


Cake Pops

Ah, cake fads. I remember when I was younger, everyone on the block had a Barbie Cake. You know, the upside down bowl shaped cake decorated like a dress with a half-naked Barbie stuck in the top of it? Yup, I had those. Back then, it seemed like nothing would top the absolute awesomeness of the Barbie cake, and in my mind, nothing did, until a few years ago. A few years ago, cupcakes made a comeback. Not that they ever left the scene I guess, they just got all 'Hollywood' on us. It was like they made the transformation from ugly ducking Julia Roberts in the beginning of Pretty Woman, to a beautiful swan  Julia Roberts at the end of Pretty Woman. Every bakery had them, specialized in them, and every cooking channel on TV had an hour dedicated to them every Sunday. This year, the new fad is Cake Pops. They seem to be all the rage, but its a wonder it took so long for someone to say, 'hey, lets put cake on a stick.' 

Red Velvet Cake Balls made with cream cheese frosting and milk chocolate shell
Cake balls, not pops. I didn't have the sticks.
I have recieved praise from almost every dessert I have ever made for a get-together. The most came from the mini cherry cheesecakes I mentioned last week. Last night, I made these bite-sized beauties for a dinner party, and the amount of positive feedback I recieved kicked my mini cheesecakes mini butts! It brought the ladies to their knees, and it even got an obscene amount of compliments from the men (and you know men, they usually just grunt in approval of decent food- never actual exclamations of joy!) On top of it all- they are super easy to make, despite their posh reputation.


* 1 box of cake mix (any flavor you want, the possibilities are endless)
* 1 tub frosting (yup, you really don't make anything in this recipe)
* Chocolate for melting (again, pick your flavor- I used the baker's melting chocolate because it said it will harden well)
* Sprinkles, nuts, frosting, whatever for decorating
* Lillipop sticks (if you want the pop form, not the ball form)
* Candy melt (to help cake stick to lollipop sticks)

To Do:

* Bake cake as directed on box. Let cake cool.
* Crumble baked cake into large bowl. Mix in tub of frosting until nice and thick
* Roll into balls. (I used a tablespoon to measure out how much cake to use for each) If you are doing the cake pops, insert the stick into the candy melt and then into the cake ball.
* Melt chocolate until nice and runny. Thicker chocolate may be more difficult to work with
* Dip cake into chocolate. Decorate before chocolate hardens.Place on foiled baking sheet for cake balls, and stick the cake pops in a piece of styrofoam if making the pops.
* The recipe I used said to cool them in the refridgerator, but I threw mine in the freezer until it was time to eat them. They were amazing cold!


  Soyez bienvenus à tout mon poste français. Pourquoi français ? J'ai pensé qu'il ferait le fait que ce plat suivant ajoutera 10 livres à votre fin de fond toujours vous les mangez, juste un peu plus fantastique et agréable. Attendez, vous ne vous souciez pas qu'ils ajoutent 10 livres à votre fin de fond toujours vous les mangez ? Bonbon. Vissez cette conversation française sophistiquée alors! Laisse la conversation donuts!

What? You don't speak French? Or at least, Google-translated-English-to-French-so-who-knows-if-its-actually-correct? Dang. Ok, lucky for you, I can provide subtitles!


  Welcome to my french post. Why French? I figured it would make the fact that this next dish will add 10 pounds to your bottom end everytime you eat them, just a little more whimsical and enjoyable. Wait, you don't care that they add 10 pounds to your bottom end everytime you eat them? Sweet. Screw this fancy French talk then! Lets talk donuts!

oui !
The first time I discovered beignets was at the recommendation of my dear friend Jaren Rabe. Chris and I had taken a celebratory trip to New Orleans last month and she basically told me she'd stop being my friend if we didn't hit up Cafe du Monde. For the sake of our friendship, I thought it best to go. Long story short, I left New Orleans with 9 boxes of the donut mix to distribute to friends and family. Did I remember to grab myself a box? Of course...... not. Luckily, I did find a great recipe to make them from scratch! Beware, this recipe makes 24-36 donuts... that comes out to about 240-360 lbs on your tushie... hit up the gym after to get rid of some of that guilt (if you even have guilt that is!)


* 1 envelope active drive yeast
* 1 1/2 cups warm water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1 cup evaporated milk
* 6 1/2-7 cups flour
* 1/4 cup shortening, softened
* oil for frying
* powdered sugar

To Do:

* In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand 5-10 minutes.
* Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and milk. Mix well.
* Add 4 cups flour and beat until smooth
* Add shortening and blend in remaining flour
* Cover and chill 4 hours or overnight (yes, they are GREAT for breakfast)
* Roll out on floured surface to 1/4 to 1/2 in. thickness
* Cut into three inch squares.
* Heat oil to 350F
* Deep fry a few at a time until lightly browned on both sides. Drain on paper towel.
* Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately (best when nice and toasty)

Mama Sue's Variation: Cover freshly fried donuts in cinnamon and sugar!!!!

Sidenote: If you don't feel like attempting them from scratch, you can buy the mix from their website online and have it shipped to you! Just add water and fry! Also, if you live in Columbus, MS- they sell the boxes at Walmart.


Last night, I manned the grill for the first time ever. There is no reason why petite and dainty little ole me should have been risking life and limb around that big black fire-spittin' contraption just to cook a few burgers and dogs. Oh wait... there was a reason for me to do it? Was it that my husband was so glued to his xbox last night that he wouldn't have even realized if the back porch went up in flames, taking me at the ripe old age of 25 to meet the big man upstairs? You bet.

It was intimidating, bright, hot, super smokey, sizzling, and a little scary- everything an 80s rock and roll video is. And I conquered it. I hadn't felt such a sense of accomplishment since my grandmother told me I was a fairly decent mother. Jackpot.

As rewarding at the end product was (especially my veggie skewers pictured above, which I am now currently obsessed with), I will leave the grilling to Chris, and all the other manly men out there... oh and Spongebob Squarepants... he flips a mean crabby patty.


Guest Blogger: Molly Cooper

Molly's Worry Free Cooking
(because I've done all the worrying for you!)

When Kelsey asked if I would write a guest post for her food blog, I of course was honored but also thought it was hilarious— me! Asked to be featured on a food blog! As recently as last year, I never thought my culinary skills would improve to such a point. I grew up surrounded by proficient cooks, but I chose to develop other talents, specifically art and design, and disregard anything that involved copious amounts of time spent laboring away in the kitchen.

It wasn't until recently, as Kelsey mentioned, that I've developed a strong interest in cooking and baking. I finally understood what inspires a passion for food and keeps people returning to the kitchen: it is fun watching food come together under your influence! I was surprised at my ability to pull off seemingly complicated recipes. 

The only catch is, thanks to my incessant self-doubting nature, I am constantly worrying as I cook. A million questions run through my head ("they said not to overmix the muffin batter, how can I tell??") and I sometimes feel like I'm stumbling blindly as I struggle to follow a recipe. That being said, I love simple recipes that yield elaborate results, and will share them with my little "worry" notes alongside! This way, the worrying has already been done for you, if you're in any way like me :)

The following recipe for Mini Oreo Cheesecakes is from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, which I found featured on Amy's food blog Playing House. Amy made it sound very approachable, and I deemed it perfect for my first attempt at cheesecake. I brought them to a barbeque last Sunday, and they were well loved by all!

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes 
(Adapted from Playing House, with my additional notes)
Makes 30

42 Oreos (1 package), 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds cream cheese (four 8 oz packages), room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt
(*Before any of the following: bring cream cheese and eggs to room temperature. If you wake up early, put them on the counter and make your coffee and go about your morning routine until they're ready. It takes quite a while, so plan accordingly! Or do the microwave thing.)

1. Preheat oven to 275˚ Fahrenheit. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners or grease well with non-stick baking spray. (*I used foil liners plus a light spray of Pam.) Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each cup.

2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand. (*Chopping Oreos with a large, sharp chef's knife worked like a dream.)

4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. (*I filled mine to the very top— don't be shy! Though the amount of batter I ended up with concerned me at first, this recipe yields the perfect amount for 30 cheesecakes.) Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight. (*I wish mine had hung out in the fridge a little longer than 5 hours, try to plan for as much chill time as possible.) 

These were such a huge hit and were delightfully simple to make, I highly recommend trying them out! Thank you Kelsey for allowing me to share this recipe :)


Cooper Chicken

The real name of this dish is Smoked Gouda Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Bacon. I call it Cooper Chicken. I've found that in the AF lifestyle, you make friends quickly. You just have to. You are only with these incredible people for a short amount of time, so the bond is strong and almost instantaneous. One such bond I formed is will Molly Cooper. I will admit, our bond could be considered 'forced', as Chris' best friend from the get-go was her husband Austin, but I now consider her a sister. For the last year we have gone on countless double dates (Molly and I on one date, the guys on the other). Austin has even opened the door for Chris once on our way to dinner! As with all military couples, their time to leave Columbus came, and their newest adventure to Florida was about to begin. They spent their last night on base, much to our honor, at our house. I knew I needed to pull out all the stops for their 'last meal', and make sure it was as memorable as our friendship. Ok, so a piece of chicken can't be as memorable as lifelong friends, but it was a step up from burgers on the grill and it tasted pretty good!

Smoked Gouda Chicken Wrapped in Bacon (freecookingrecipes.net)

* 4 boneless chicken breasts
* 3 tablespoons butter
* Salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
* 1/2 cup smoked gouda (Shame on me, I used swiss cheese. My defense: commissary didn't have it, and I refuse to drive 15 minutes into town for cheese)
* 4 slices bacon
* Fresh spinach (not in the original recipe, but I love me some spinach)

To Do:

* Flatten each chicken breast to 1/4th in thick using meat mallet.
* Combine pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne.
* Rub both sides of each chicken breast with the seasoning. (do not skimp on this seasoning- it makes the dish) Sprinkle with salt
* Place small square of cheese and a few leaves of spinach (take stems off) on the narrow end of the chicken breast, and roll tightly. Wrap strip of bacon around chicken. * Melt butter in skillet
* Brown the chicken in the skillet, turning it, until bacon begins to crisp.
* Place chicken breasts on a foiled baking sheet, bake in oven 350F for 20 minutes.

Fantastic Father's Day Feast

I cannot sing my husband's praises enough. He's a loyal husband, an extremely talented pilot, and his relaxed demeanor brings a sense of calm to our home. Above all else, he is an incredible father. I'll admit I used to worry when I was pregnant: what would he be like with our son? The answer to that: perfect. He loves our son with a passion I've never seen anyone have, and both my boys light up when they see each other. As a wife and mother, it doesn't get any better than that. Because he is such a special man, he deserved a special dinner- one that required a little more time. Yes, my mission statement for this blog is based on not having to spend hours in the kitchen, but this meal will be worth every minute of it. The actual cooking doesn't take long, there is just prep work that needs to be done earlier in the day. If you can get the prep work done before noon, you can rest, relax, watch your husband play xbox (like I did), for the rest of the day!

Ranch Chicken Wings
drizzled with honey hotsauce
Homemade Hearty Coleslaw
Baked Sweet Potato Fries

*Helpful Hint: Get your chicken wings (thawed if you use the frozen ones) in the marinade, and get your coleslaw made earlier in the day! Each need 3 hours in the fridge!
Ranch Chicken Wings (Food Network Magazine- June 2010)

* 2 lbs chicken wings
* 3  1-oz packets ranch dressing mix (I used 4 since 4 come in a box)
* 1 1/2 cups flour
* Freshly ground pepper
* 3 large eggs
* Vegetable oil, for frying

To Do:

* Toss the wings in 1 packet of ranch dressing in bag. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. (I used two packets of the dressing to make sure they got a good cover.
* Mix flour, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 packet ranch dressing mix in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs, 2 tablespoons of water, and the last ranch dressing packet.
* Dredge the wings a few at a time in the seasoned flour, dip them in the egg, and then back in the flour. (I did most of my wings in this double dredge. The coating turned out super thick after frying. My last batch, I just went from marinade, straight to the egg, then to the flour, and in my opinion they turned out much better.)
* Heat oil in pan over medium heat until deep fryer thermometer registers 350F. Fry the wings until crisp and golden brown, 5-6 minutes per side. Place cooked wings on paper towel to drain excess oil.
Honey Hot Sauce (Food Network Magazine-June 2010)
Easiest, tastiest wing sauce... ever!

* Combine equal parts honey and hot sauce. (I used 1/4 cup of each). Done.
* You can add more honey to make it sweeter (what I did), or more hot sauce to kick it up a notch (what Chris did).
Sweet Potato Fries (Paula Deen)
*this recipe makes a gigantic batch of fries, but sure to cut it down based on how many potatoes you use*


* 1 cup salt
* 1/4 cup black pepper
* 1/4 cup onion powder
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* Olive oil for tossing
* 5 sweet potatoes- peeled and cut

To Do:

* Pre-heat oven to 450F
* Combine salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika
* Toss cut potatoes in just enough oil to cover
* Sprinkle potatoes with the seasoning mixture
* Lay potatoes on a foiled baking sheet in a single layer
* Bake for 20 minutes, flipping occassionally.
 (my fries weren't quite a crispy as Chris and I like, so we threw them down into the fryer after making the wings for a minute)

Hearty Coleslaw (Family Circle Magazine)
(Again, this recipe makes a large quantity. Feel free to cut it down. I only used 1/2 a head of cabbage and we have a ton of leftovers. Delicious, delicious leftovers!)


* 2 1/2 lbs green cabbage, shredded (about 10 cups) (I only used 1/2 head)
* 2 large carrots, shredded (I used 3)
* 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat mayo
* 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
* 1/2 cup buttermilk
* 1/4 cup dijon mustard
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon celery seed (I omitted this because I didn't have any)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper

To Do:

*  Shred cabbage and carrots. (I have absolutely no knife skills, or the patience to make the veggies super thin, so mine turned out big and chunky, and it was so good!) Mix the veggies in a large bowl.
* In medium bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, buttermilk, mustard, sugar, celery seed, salt, and pepper.
* Pour dressing over veggies and mix well.
* Cover and put in fridge for at least 3 hours



Everyone loves comments on their masterpieces. Why slave over a project for hours, days, weeks, months, (or in my case, minutes), and have it go unrecognized and acknowledged ?!?! For this reason, I've added 'reactions' at the bottom of each recipe!  It is similar to the 'Like' button on Facebook!

I want to hear back from you! If you were brave enough to try one of the recipes I've posted- give me some feedback! Let me know if it turned out, and whether or not you enjoyed it! If you didn't, no biggie, to each his own (and your own sucks if you didn't like one of my dishes)! :) If the immediate desire to rush into the kitchen and reproduce the dish doesn't take hold of you, but you sure do think it looks tasty, 'Like' it by clicking on the 'Looks Good!' button!

If I notice more people are liking certain types of dishes over others, I may switch my focus to those. If desserts are getting most of the popular vote, more desserts my adoring public shall have. If italian food is winning in the polls, than you can bet italian food will pop up more times than SportsCenter does on my television. This blog won't work without the support of its reader(s?).

I also thought it might be nice for my guest bloggers to be able to get some love as well, so don't forget to share your inner most thoughts and feelings with them the only way you can.... by using all your effort to click a single button :)

Chicken Fried Steak

There are some foods everyone grew up with. Almost everyone I know was raised eating chicken fried steak, one of the ultimate comfort foods. I was not one of those people. Oh parents, do not fret because I'm about to admit this, but the only time I think I ever ate chicken fried steak growing up was when it came in a red Banquet frozen dinner box. Last night, I made my first ever attempt at making chicken fried steak from scratch. While Chris considered it tasty, I fear I will never get the hang of making a perfect gravy, like my Grandma Nell always could. To this day, none of us can figure out how that woman did it!

Better Home and Garden's Chicken Fried Steak

* 1 lb boneless beef top round steak, cut 1/2 in. thick
* 3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
* 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh basil or oregano. (I used 1/2 teaspoon of the dried stuff)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 egg, beaten
* 2 tablespoon cooking oil
* 1 tablespoon milk
* 1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1 1/3 cups milk

To Do:

* Trim fat from meat and cut into four smaller steaks. Pound each piece out until 1/4 in. thick with a meat mallet.
* In shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, basil or oregano, salt, and pepper.
* In another dish, combine egg and milk
* Dip each steak into egg mixture, then coat heavily with bread crumbs
* In skillet, add oil and cook meat for about 6 minutes or until brown. Turn and repeat to brown other side. Add more oil if you need to, but don't go overboard! Reduce heat on skillet to medium low, cover steaks, and cook for 45-60 minutes. Cook until meat is tender.
* Transfer meat to platter, cover to keep warm. Keep drippings in pan to make gravy.

To make gravy:
* Cook onion in reserved drippings. (I also added some whole baby button mushrooms). Cook until tender.
* Stir in flour, and then gradually add the 1 1/3 cup milk.
* Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Add salt and pepper to taste if you need to.


Spinach-Stuff Pasta Shells

Now, if you've been reading along, you'll remember that in my last post, I mentioned my husband doesn't like ricotta and spinach in his lasagna. That's fine enough. What's funny, is that he had no qualms about eating this dish the first time I made it. Is it really any different than having lasagna with ricotta and spinach? Nope. Men: can't live with em, but they sure are funny.

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

* 12 jumbo shell macaroni
* 1  10-oz package frozen chopped spinach (I used big handfuls of the fresh stuff- be sure to take the stems off and chop it nice and fine!)
* 2 eggs
* 1  8-oz package of shredded italian cheese blend
* 1 cup ricotta cheese
* 1  26-32 ounce jar of pasta sauce (or make some of Mama Sue's lasagna sauce mentioned below!)

To Do:

* Cook pasta according to box. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Set aside.
* If using frozen spinach, drain the thawed spinach, press out excess liquid
* For filling: beat eggs and stir in spinach, 1 1/2 cups italian cheese blend, and ricotta cheese
* Spoon mixture into each jumbo shell- stuff them nice and full! Place filled shells in a 2-qt baking dish. Pour pasta sauce over the shells.
* Bake, covered, in oven at 350F for about 40 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 italian cheese blend on top before serving!

Sidenote: These shells are so delicious looking you will be tempted to grab 6 or 7 on your plate. Don't forget, they are super filling and rich- Chris and I were only able to eat 2-3 a piece!

Mama Sue's Lasagna

Chris and I consider ourselves 'meat and potato' folks. There isn't a lot of exotic cooking in our household. This partially comes from our lack of exposure to these fancier foods, and the fact that Chris is quite particular in what he eats. Chris is not big on ricotta cheese and spinach in his lasagna, which is why I cannot express my love enough for my mother's recipe. Kristin Lynn will agree- it doesn't get much better than this. Its simple, easy, and will fill up even a finicky eater like my hubs! I always serve it with a fresh green salad and some garlic cheese bread hot out of the oven!

Thank you, Mama Sue!


* 1 lb hamburger
* 3 cans diced italian tomatoes
* 1 small can tomato paste
* Italian seasoning
* 3 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1 lasagna noodles, cooked
* Shredded mozzerella
* Shredded monterey jack
* Grated parmesan

To Do:

* Brown hamburger in skillet on stovetop. Drain excess juices.
* Combine diced tomatoes (including liquid), tomato paste, hamburger, italian seasoning (to taste- but don't be afraid to add a lot of spice!) and brown sugar in pot on stove for one hour. This sauce is supposed to be slightly sweet, so make sure you have a good balance between the spices and the sugars.
* Cook lasagna noodles as directed on package. Drain water. Set aside
* In sprayed casserole dish layer lasagna:
             * Noodles
             * Sauce
             * Shredded cheese (mozz and mont.jack)
             * Noodles
             * Sauce
             * Shredded cheese (mozz, mont.jack, parm)
* Bake in the oven at 350F for 45 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly

Sticky Buns

Some people say their childhood memories are triggered by familiar scents. Some say its their grandmothers chocolate chip cookies, their dads cologne, the smell of the flowers outside their home. The intoxicating aroma I associate with my childhood came on special occassions, or lazy Saturdays. Mine is the smell of sticky buns! I never understood why we never had this tasty breakfast treat more often, until I had a family of my own to make them for. Its not that they are hard to make, it is just that I'm an impatient person and I hate waiting for dough to raise! The outcome is worth the waiting though!

Commence drooling in 5...4...3...2...1...

* 2 packages vanilla pudding (cook and serve type)
* 1/2 cup butter, melted
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 package Rhodes rolls

To Do:

* Mix pudding, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and milk together to form thick caramel sauce.
* Spray 9x13in pan with Pam cooking spray
* Rub rolls in caramel mixture, and place into pan
* Pour extra mixture inbetween rolls in pan
* Let dough raise in fridge 2.5 hours
* Bake rolls in oven at 370F for 30 minutes
* Let rolls cool after baking slightly, then flip them over onto foil so caramel side faces upwards
* Enjoy the mess !

Snow Day Beef Stew

I am a Montana girl. For winters as far back as I can remember, there was a blanket of snow, a need for mittens and scarves, and you could see your breath outside from the months of September through May. When we moved to Mississippi, I can say it was the one thing I didn't think I would miss. Come Christmas time, as I set up my tree, and made Chris venture on our rickety ladder to hang the lights, I found myself missing the winter wonderland I had grown accustom to. I prayed for one day, just one day, so it could feel like I was home again.This past year, my prayers were answered and we were thrilled to have three whole snow days in our current-hometown of Columbus. It only seemed fitting I whip out my crockpot to make some hearty beef stew, throw some apple cider in a pot on the stove, and shove my newborn into a snowsuit so we could play outside. There's nothing like coming in from the cold to a house that smells like heaven, and to unthaw your hands around a bowl of toasty stew!

You can smell it from there, can't you?

* Small bag of baby carrots
* 1 onion, chopped
* 4-6 celery stalks, chopped
* 1 lb stew meat
* 7-8 small red potatoes
* 1 large carton beef stock
* 1 small can tomato paste
* salt and pepper to taste

To Do:

* Brown stew meat in a skillet on the stovetop. Drain excess juices.
* Throw stew meat and veggies into crockpot
* Mix enough beef broth to cover veggies and mix with tomato paste
* Pour liquid over meat and veggies in crockpot
* Cook 5-6 hours on high, or 7-8 hours on low

The 'Coveted' Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

Today, I received an email from my husband's cousin. She told me her husband was in love with the mini cherry cheesecakes I had made for them while they were here over Chris' graduation. She said she understood if it was a coveted family recipe and I couldn't share it, but her husband loved them so much, she just had to ask me if I could share it. This made me laugh so hard I thought I may die.

Coveted family recipe? Oh goodness, no!

Betty Crocker Recipe? Oh goodness, yes!

These are also a favorite dessert of Mindy, and I've been asked for the recipe numerous times, so I might as well share it on here :)

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
Betty Crocker


* 24 vanilla wafer cookies
* 2  8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract (I use vanilla)
* 1 can cherry pie filling
* 1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds (I omit these)

To do:

* Heat over to 375F. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Place one vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cup. (How amazing is this recipe? You don't even have to make the crust!)
* Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and extract until mixture is light and fluffy. Spoon into muffin tins (fill them fairly full, the cheesecake will puff when baking initially, but will then sink once cooled)
* Bake for 20-25 minutes (I've found up to 20 minutes works, the bottom of the vanilla wafers do burn easily so be careful!)
* Once cooked, remove from tin onto cooling rack until completely cooled. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
* When ready to serve, top with cherry pie filling and almonds (or blueberry pie filling or chocolate sauce or sliced strawberries or kiwis- the possibilities are endless!)


.: Dinner at the Bradleys :.

Tonight, we had a last minute dinner party at Chase and Mindy's. I had this chicken dish by Food Network Magazine (June 2010), and this casserole featured in Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook planned for Chris and I, but it was easily duplicated to accommodate a larger group! The peppers between the two dishes tie it together, and the smells coming from the oven alone will make it worth your while! Enjoy :)

Honey-Lime Roast Chicken
* 1 small bunch fresh thyme (our store didn't have any so I used a few dashes of the dried stuff)
* Juice of 2 limes (I used 3 for extra flavor)
* 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
* 3 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 2 tablespoons honey (add more if you want to dial down the heat of the jalapeno)
* Kosher salt (I used the regular stuff)
* 3 half chickens (I used a package of chicken legs)
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To do:
* Strip thyme leaves off the stems, combine with the lime juice, garlic, jalapenos, olive oil, honey, and 1 teaspoon salt. I threw this into a large bag with the chicken breasts. It says to leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I threw it into the fridge for 5 hours until it was time to cook.
* Throw into the oven at 425F, skin-side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pour the marinade on top, and add the pieces of butter on top and sprinkle with salt (I added ground pepper too)
* Roast the chicken, until the skin is amber. I left mine in for about half an hour, but if you use the half chickens, you'll need to go for at least 45 minutes. Thigh meat should register 160F with a meat thermometer.
* Serve on platter with drizzled pan juices and perfectly cooked jalapeno strips (which are yummy on their own, according to Mindy, who ate most of them!)

Remember: Jalapeno soaked fingers do not feel good in your eye- wash your hands after handling- trust me!

Creamed Corn Casserole
* Nonstick cooking spray
* 2 16-oz bags of frozen whole kernel corn. (I used one 8 oz bag yellow corn, and one 8 oz bag sweet white corn)
* 2 cups chopped red and/or green sweet peppers (I used both)
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 can condensed cream of celery soup
* 1 8-oz tub cream cheese spread with chive and onion flavoring or garden vegetable flavoring. (I used 4-oz of both- it was a great combo)
* 1/4 cup milk

To do:
* Coat 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Place corn in colander and run it through water to thaw.
* In saucepan, melt butter and add chopped onion and peppers. Cook until tender. Add corn and black pepper. (See picture above)
* In large bowl, combine the soup, cream cheese spread, and milk. Once combined well, add corn mixture. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.
* Bake, covered, at 375F for 50-60 minutes until it is bubbly and heated through. (I let it sit and let the sauce thicken for about 5 minutes afterwards)

.: Dieting isn't so bad :.

Currently obsessed with: Salads!

On a diet where very few carbs are allowed, and even fewer sugars, this salad has been a staple for the last two months. Easy to make, easy to add to, perfectly filling!

I look forward to lunch, everyday. 
Romaine Lettuce
Sliced Tomato
Diced Avocado
Blue Cheese Crumbles
(not pictured but always a favorite: Crispy Bacon Bits)