Thursday, June 30, 2016

#CookoutWeek ~ Southern Style Baked Beans

Welcome to Day 4 of #CookoutWeek! See my kick-off post and make sure to enter the fantastic giveaway! Today I'm sharing a perfectly shareable side dish for any cookout you have this summer.

These are southern style baked beans that have a distinctly "tomatoey" flavor to them. The bacon cooks up SO tender - it definitely "makes" this dish.

I was out of regular yellow mustard, so I used a mix of Dijon and Honey - use whichever mustard you have on hand that you enjoy the flavor of!

Southern Style Baked Beans from South Your Mouth

2 28-oz cans of pork 'n beans
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5-6 slices thick-cut bacon

  1. Combine ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and pepper in a medium-sized bowl and mix well; set aside.
  2. Open each can of beans and pour off all the standing liquid in the top of the can. Discard liquid and add beans to the ketchup mixture. Mix beans gently with the ketchup mixture until thoroughly combined then pour into a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
  3. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces then place pieces evenly in a single layer on top of beans. Bake beans, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 to 1.5 hours or until bacon is cooked through and starting to crisp.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

#CookoutWeek ~ Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Welcome to Day 3 of #CookoutWeek! See my kick-off post and make sure to enter the fantastic giveaway! Today I'm sharing a perfectly shareable side dish for any cookout you have this summer.

The flavors and ingredients meld together very nicely to give you a creamy, well seasoned pasta salad packed full of tasty add-ins like bacon, cheese, olives, tomatoes... yumm!

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad from Life in the Lofthouse

1 package (12 oz.) tri-color rotini pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package (1 oz.) dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup milk
4 thick cut slices cooked bacon, rough chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 can (4.25 oz.) sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rotini pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain water. Rinse pasta with cold water to cool. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, dry ranch mix, garlic powder and milk. Add pasta, cooked bacon pieces, tomato, olives and cheese to the bowl. Gently toss to combine everything.
  3. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving. Thin with additional milk if needed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

#CookoutWeek ~ Teriyaki Beef Skewers


Welcome to Day 2 of #CookoutWeek! See my kick-off post and make sure to enter the fantastic giveaway!  Today I'm sharing Teriyaki Beef Skewers. They are DELICIOUS! And super quick and easy - you cannot beat that. We served these alongside some sesame noodles, baked beans, and coleslaw for a tasty weeknight meal. But none of us could stop raving about the meat!

I doubled the recipe for a 2.3 lb cut of flank steak, and I'm VERY glad I doubled it. We ate these up. These could be used so many different ways. Reserve some sauce before marinating, and serve over rice drizzled with sauce, fried rice, a yummy salad... sooo many options. They're delicious and I hope you give them a try soon! Happy grilling season!

Teriyaki Beef Skewers from High Heels and Grills

1 lb flank steak, cut into thin strips along the grain
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon Gourmet Garden lightly dried ginger
Skewers as needed

  1. Soak your skewers (if made of wood) on a cookie sheet with a shallow layer of water while everything else is being prepped.
  2. In a large Ziploc bag, combine marinade ingredients and steak strips, press meat around to coat evenly. Set in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes. 
  3. Preheat your grill to high heat (spray with non stick cooking spray before igniting if desired). Skewer the meat (I got about 3 chunks of meat per skewer the way we cut the strips).
  4. Cook the meat for about 2 - 3 minutes per side, or until they reach your desired doneness. They cook quickly since they are cut thin.

Monday, June 27, 2016

#CookoutWeek ~ Welcome and Easy Peach Tea

I am so excited that it is finally summer, and you know what that means - picnics, BBQs, camping, pool parties, and... cookouts! This year, we've got something special to celebrate! We joined forces with around 50 of our blogging friends to bring you #CookoutWeek - an entire week filled with yummy summer recipes perfect for your next cookout, along with a fun giveaway, courtesy of some awesome sponsors. It's super easy to enter, and one lucky winner will get:

It's pretty much everything you need to host an awesome cookout this summer. It's a prize pack worth over $300! Thank you so much to all of the wonderful sponsors listed above, who have made #CookoutWeek possible.

Enter now: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check back throughout the week with all of the bloggers participating to get some yummy #CookoutWeek recipes. Here's the full list of participating bloggers:

The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin' MamasA Day in the Life on the Farmaddicted 2 recipesAimee Broussard & Co.Amy's Cooking AdventuresAngels Home Sweet HomesteadBakin' and EggcerptsBalancing MotherhoodBody RebootedCheese Curd In ParadiseCindy's Recipes and WritingsCook With 5 KidsCook. Craft. Love.Cookaholic WifeCricket's ConfectionsCrumb: A Food BlogEat, Drink, Be Healthy!Everyday EileenFairyburgerFood ParsedGet the Good Stuff!Goodie GodmotherHezzi-D's Books and CooksHome in the Finger LakesJennifer CooksJessie WeaverKate's Recipe BoxLife on FoodLittle House Big AlaskaLittle Scratch KitchenMaking MiraclesMoore or Less CookingRhubarb and HoneySavvy In The KitchenSeduction in the KitchenSimple Food 365Style IslandThanks for Cookin'!The Food Hunter's Guide To CuisineThe Hungary Buddha Eats the WorldThe Spiffy CookieThe Weekday GourmetThis is How I CookTramplingroseVintage KittyWest Via Midwest

I am looking forward to sharing some yummy recipes with all of our readers! I'm starting the week of with this Easy Peach Tea. The original recipe suggests creating the peach syrup then straining out the peaches, but I used my vitamix to blend it all up to keep the peaches incorporated into the beverage. It is sweet, fruity, with a touch of tea flavor. If you like more of a tea flavor I would double the tea bags. Fresh and fruity!

Easy Peach Tea adapted from Passion for Savings


Peach Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

3 family sized iced-tea tea bags
1 quart water

  1. Bring syrup ingredients to boil. Then reduce heat to medium.
  2. Crush peach slices as you stir to dissolve sugar.
  3. Turn off heat cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Use an iced tea maker to run the water through and prepare tea.
  5. Blitz the cooled peach syrup mixture until puree is smooth in a good quality blender (I love my Vitamix). Blend into tea, refrigerate and serve chilled. Add fresh peach slices to tea if desired. (You can just pulse the peach mixture if you don't mind a little texture to your drink, or if you want it completely smooth, strain the peaches out of the syrup before adding to the tea.)

#MuffinMonday ~ Banana Bread and Chocolate Muffins

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page

If you love bananas and chocolate, I hope you will give these muffins a try! I have a couple other variations of chocolate banana recipes on the blog (Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Banana Chocolate Snack Cake, Banana Bread with Nutella Swirl) but these muffins were a new fun twist on a tasty combination of flavors. I love the way the muffins look with their two-tone colors.

It was interesting to me how the bottom layer seemed denser, and the chocolate layer a little lighter / fluffier. I used good quality Ghiradelli chocolate and that is always a good idea, and good way to start the day! I definitely enjoyed these and will keep them in mind when I have a freezer full of bananas that need to be used up.

Check out all these tasty muffins being shared today!

Banana Bread and Chocolate Muffins from Five Heart Home

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick)  butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana (approximately 2 - 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare muffin pans by generously spraying 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until smooth, and then beat in the sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg, vanilla, mashed bananas, and sour cream until fully incorporated. Gently mix in the dry ingredients until just blended.
  3. Scoop half of the batter into a second bowl. Stir the melted unsweetened chocolate into one of the bowls of batter until fully incorporated.
  4. Distribute the plain banana batter into half of each muffin cup. Then evenly divide the chocolate batter onto the top half of each muffin cup.
  5. Bake muffins for 20 - 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center just comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Destin, Florida Take 2! Happy 35th Birthday To Me

A couple months ago I visited Destin, Florida for the first time and I was enamored and had to go back and tow my sister and kiddos along, so we planned it for my 35th birthday and I booked the hotel (we stayed at the Beachside Inn). As you can see by my pictures (I took nearly 2,000... no that is not a typo) that my baby girl is my favorite (and most cooperative) photo subject. I'm kind of obsessed with her expressions, and her flyaway strawberry blonde hair that gets curly in the humidity. She's a doll. And a mess. And I love her to pieces. And she drives me nuts.

This was Lindsey's first trip to the beach, and as you can tell she kind of LOVED it. My baby girl is a water baby through and through. Anywhere there is water, Lindsey is right at home and ready to move in. She talks about the beach and sand all the time still. She loved everything about it. We haven't done a whole lot of overnight outings with her, so a 3-day trip was a big deal and she handled it like a trooper. She got pretty cranky on the ride home (when she woke up from her hardcore nap hot and sweaty, and still 30 minutes from home), but we all survived!

Aside from lots and lots of time in the sand and water, we visited the Harbor area and Lindsey got to do this huge trampoline thing that she ADORED, the kids shared an ice cream cone, played with bubble guns, and we saw lots of interesting people... serious people watching. Then we went and found this amazing hole in the wall restaurant right on the water for my birthday dinner on the 12th (the Dewey Destin Seafood Restaurant). Hot, crowded, long lines, and worth it. My best friend Tasha and her daughter also were there - we actually didn't pre-plan to be there at the same time, but Tasha told me about Destin awhile back and we both happened to book at the same time (she came a day later and stayed a couple days longer than us, but was there for my birthday). It was kismet. I was so glad they were there to help make my birthday EXTRA special!

I've been singing the Cake By The Ocean song for the past month, counting down to the day I could ACTUALLY eat cake by the ocean for my birthday - which we totally did. Yummy, sandy cake (it wasn't sandy when we got it at the Donut Hole, but it sure was after 5 people passed it around on the beach)! I'm pretty sure beach trips for my birthday will become an annual tradition. It was WONDERFUL! I love Destin.

Also - the staff at Camille's Cafe are fantastic! We loved them. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pork Chops with Mushroom Onion Gravy

This is an easy and tasty pork chop recipe we enjoyed not long ago - I loved the onions and mushrooms and how tender and flavorful the chops came out!

I'm also a very big fan of single pan / pot dishes, so cooking this all together in one large skillet made me happy.

Summer has officially begun as of yesterday!! Can you believe it?? It always feels like summer to me as soon as school lets out, but now the calendar agrees. Our weekends have been filled already, and the beginning of July is going to be busy with a much anticipated visit from my brother and niece and then I think the second half of July through August are unclaimed at the moment... if I can leave well enough alone and actually try to have some down time! My son is hoping to get to the pool as much as possible this summer, and I know it would be good for him. He's not in therapy right now because we only have so many covered visits per year, but he was able to get in the pool over the weekend when he visited his grandparent's and was able to walk without his brace on his right leg because the water assists with weight bearing so much. He was pretty happy and excited about that. So we will definitely get him to the water again soon!

Pork Chops with Mushroom Onion Gravy adapted from JMD on AllRecipes

4 large pork chops
2 tsp dried oregano
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 onion, chopped

  1. Season pork chops lightly with some of the salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet, add chops and brown on both sides (remove, and cook in batches if needed). 
  3. Return all chops to skillet, top with onions, mushrooms, water, cream of mushroom, and oregano. Stir gently, cover and bring to a low simmer.
  4. Simmer for 30 - 45 minutes, or until ingredients are tender (rotate pork chops occasionally to help prevent the top one from drying out). 
  5. Taste, add additional salt and pepper if needed and serve.

Monday, June 20, 2016

#SecretRecipeClub ~ Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Today for The Secret Recipe Club I am jumping in on a Group C post and had the pleasure of visiting Pumpkin and Peonies.  So many beautiful recipes to choose from and gorgeous photos to browse through!

It didn't take me long to pick what I wanted to make. I was given a large quantity of gorgeous, tart granny smith apples very recently and knew I wanted to bake with them, but hadn't decided on what just yet. I did a quick search for apples - and this beautiful pie popped up. The rest is history.

We had another busy, busy weekend around here - it's now been a full month straight of busy weekends and the days are blurring together! May 27 - 30th I went with my friend Ben for a road trip to Indy 500. The following weekend we went camping with friends, the weekend after that we went to Destin Saturday through Monday to celebrate my 35th birthday and our amazing friend Tasha and her daughter were there as well for part of our trip so I got to spend my birthday with them and finally had my "cake by the ocean" (I've been singing that song for the past month saying I was having cake by the ocean for my birthday)!

Then this weekend we had friends over on Saturday and did a girl's night out with me, Kylie and Devon. A nice dinner out and spent a couple hours at a bar / club. We hoped for more dancing than there was, but it was still fun to get out! We got home late that night, and after breakfast they left. Then mid-afternoon Tasha and her mom came over and spent the afternoon and had dinner before heading back home. It was lots of friends, company, cooking, and good conversation! I am a social butterfly and love all the activity (not that I'm not tired - because I totally am!) but am beginning to think my poor introvert sister may have reached her max. I think we're due for a weekend of no plans.

This pie was made at the perfect time - I was able to share with our friends and it made for the perfect way to end the day last night. I did think that next time I wouldn't precook the apples - the texture reminded me of thick applesauce and I couldn't really distinguish any apple pieces which I prefer in my apple pie (I'm leaving the instructions as written, and as I followed but that is my only change I would make next time). The flavor was rich, tart, salty, and caramel kissed. It was lovely. I served it with some disaronno flavored homemade whipped cream... YUMM!! The pastry dough was lovely, buttery, flaky, and fairly easy to work with.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie from Pumpkins and Peonies


Double Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup iced water

Apple Pie Filling:
6 - 7 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 TBS lemon juice
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 TBS heavy whipping cream
4 TBS butter
Heavy whipping cream, to coat crust
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

  1. For the pie crust, place flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk together.  Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbles.  Slowly add just enough cold water, blending dough with a fork, until it just holds together.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, gently knead together and divide dough into two disks; wrap with plastic wrap and keep chilled until ready to use.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F.  In a large bowl, place apples and lemon juice and gently toss to coat.  In a small bowl, place light brown sugar, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt, and stir to combine. 
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream and stir to combine. Add apple mixture along with brown sugar and flour mixture; stir gently until evenly mixed and cook about 8 to 10 minutes or until apples are soft and liquid is golden and thickening.  Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the dough.
  4. Roll out the bottom crust to fit a 9" pie plate. Roll out the top crust. Fill bottom crust with prepared apple filling, then cover with top crust. Use a fork or your fingers to decorate the pie edges as desired.  Brush the top crust with heavy whipping cream and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar if desired.
  5. Place a cookie tray on the rack beneath the pie to catch drips. Bake 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350°F.  Bake another 45 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.  Let cool before serving.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#BundtBakers ~ Breakfast Bundt Cake


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page. Padmajha (PJ) of Seduce Your Tastebuds is our host this month, and selected "savory" as our theme.

This bundt cake is a fantastic base that you could do a LOT of different ingredient add-ins with to change up the flavor. I found the base flavor a little on the bland side, and would try adding in some cheese with stronger flavor, some black pepper, or maybe a few dashes of tabasco, etc. My sister and I were thinking up lots of different flavor combinations like spinach, mushroom, bacon, and Swiss cheese, etc. Lots of options! The texture was fairly dense, definitely bread like, and filling

See all the tasty savory bundts shared today!

Breakfast Bundt Cake from Good Deal Meals

1 pound bacon
1 dozen eggs
1/2 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese (or Pepperjack, Swiss, etc.)
2 cups flour
1 medium onion, diced small
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Lightly brown bacon and remove from pan, setting on paper towels to drain; leave bacon grease in pan. Cook diced onions for about 10 minutes in bacon grease over medium heat, or until slightly tender. 
  2. When bacon has cooled enough to handle, rough chop and set aside.
  3. Beat eggs in a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Pour into greased or sprayed bundt cake pan. Bake in 350 oven for 50 - 60 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, then turn over on a platter.  Slice and serve. Can be eaten at room temperature or warmed.