Fake it ’til you make it
S’mores Brownies

skipaheadYou know what I hate about bonfires? Smoke. I hate that my hair and clothes and coat all reek of smoke until someone hoses me down with a fire hose and some febreeze. And face it, if you’re having a bonfire, you’re probably going to be out there until the wee hours of the night and who wants to take a febreeze shower after that?

Other than that, I love bonfires. I love the community that always happens when a bunch of people hang around a bonfire. I love feeding the fire and watching the flames grow, shrink back, and finally become nothing more than a white-hot ember. And I love the food. Roasted marshmallows, burnt black hot dogs, and of course – S’MORES!

But, heck, who has time to sit around a bonfire on a Tuesday night? Well don’t worry, Bakerella and I have you covered with some fake out s’mores you can make in your oven. And then, watch, the people will flock to the table and that same sense of community will grow. And all without your hair smelling like smoke (well hopefully…).


S’mores Brownies

Overall: four-star

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These brownies were really yummy and fairly easy to make. I didn’t love what happened with the graham crackers after they baked. They kinda just melted away into the brownies and I couldn’t even taste them. However, these brownies seemed to get better and better as they aged. Gooey chocolate and soft marshmallows. (Recipe here, from Bakerella.)

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Enjoying the bubble
Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

skipaheadLittle K has hit another milestone in life. I stopped hauling his carseat everywhere. He now sits all by himself in the front of the shopping cart eyeballing all the shoppers around him and straining to reach whatever is close enough for him to yank off the shelf. I have so much fun shopping with him, I barely notice what’s going on around me and I sit and chat with him even though he’s not quite able to chat back. “Where do you think they hide the mayo, kid?” “Do you want turkey and rice or chicken and apples?”

When I went into Target the other day though, I noticed a mom putting a baby seat into the shopping cart. I peered into the carseat and saw a very new, very sweet little girl. Her momma was inspecting and reinspecting the way the carseat latched and then, when all looked well, she pushed the cart off into the produce area, all the while in her own little bubble. She was beaming (both momma and baby) and each only had eyes for the other.

It made me feel very nostalgic for a time that was only a season ago. I can remember the first time E and I took Little K to the store and how many people remarked about how tiny he was. I’m sure we had that bubble around us too. Walking in a daze, bumping into endcaps, grinning like a fool. It’s funny how the everyday, mundane tasks – like grocery shopping – can become such special little moments between momma and baby. In the not-to-far future, Little K will want to walk on his own and I’ll miss the squirming, grabby, handle-sucking baby in the front of my cart. Until then, I’m happy to enjoy the bubble.


Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

Overall: five-star

When I met E he had really tall hair. Like no one ever told him to trim his frizzy hair shorter than 3 inches and use pomade. It wasn’t the best look for him, but luckily I looked past that and looked at what counted. That’s what you need to do here. Look past the uglier than 3-inch tall hair, to the amazing, fresh, yummy flavor. (Recipe here, from Bean By Bean: A Cookbook.)

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Dinner Parties are Dangerous
Vegan Fruit Tart

skipaheadI mentioned that we went to a dinner party a couple weekends ago and hung out with Jenny and Cait, two of E’s friends from his home town. And I think I told you that Jenny is vegan, but what I didn’t mention is that Cait’s husband Steve is allergic to peanuts. Last time we had the group over to our house I was a proud hostess, offering up all sorts of nuts to my vegan friend. Only to find out later that poor Steve was sitting on the other side of the room, not because I smelled, but because of all the nuts! This time I decided I could do better and find a dish that the lovely vegan could enjoy, and the anti-peanut man wouldn’t die from. Reasonable, right?

E had a brilliant idea of looking up Jenny’s Pinterest dessert board and raiding one of the good recipes from it. Unfortunately most of the recipes involved peanuts, or Nutella, or almond milk – or any other variety of nut-related item. I didn’t know Steve’s exact allergy and decided to just avoid the whole nut thing all together. I almost gave up on the idea though, until I came to a pin at the very bottom of her board: fruit tart!


Vegan Fruit Tart

Overall: three-star

Awesome flavor, though it does take a little effort and patience to prepare. Best prepared, immediately baked, and served warm.  (Recipe here, original from A, B, C, Vegan.)

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Good friends, good drinks
Honey Lime Margarita

skipaheadOver the weekend we hung out with a couple of long-time friends of E’s and somewhat more recent friends of mine. Cait and Jenny grew up with E. They’re both married – to great guys by the way – and Jenny is expecting a little boy in July. I’m so happy to call them friends and be a part of their lives as we each take on each milestone. Although I’ve only known then for a handful of years, I treasure their friendship and I love that the three Marshall-ites and their spouses all work so well together. I hope to count them as dear friends for years to come.

Jenny and Jon had us all over to their place to catch up and eat super yummy summer food (even though the weather has been pretty anti-summer these days). E and I brought margaritas to share, although the hostess wasn’t allowed to imbibe. (Don’t worry, we made something special for her too – review coming soon!)


Honey Lime Margaritas

Overall: four-star

This was a fairly easy recipe to make if you’re making it for just a couple of people, a little too much trouble if you’re trying to feed the masses. It turned out really tasty and was all too easy to drink!  (Recipe here, from Simply Scratch.)

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A Fish with Feathers
Prairie Sushi Tortilla Rolls

skipaheadLast weekend we had a couple of friends and their little ones over. The kiddos (Little K, Keagan, and Jordan) were such little angels the whole time; it was a small miracle. We didn’t have any breakdowns, blow outs, or brawls. Although Little K did put Keagan in a head lock momentarily. Keagan made use of his time to check out Little K’s kicks though, so I guess no harm no foul.

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I decided that I’d keep things easy and just do a bunch of appetizers, that way we could just graze and chat and not have to worry about pulling something out of the oven or manning the grill. I made a ham and cheese ring, fruit pizza, and prairie sushi. You do know what prairie sushi is, right? Prairie sushi is made with the only kind of fish you can catch on the prairie. The kind that have wings, feathers, and beaks. Which I guess makes it a bird and not a fish. Small technicality.


Prairie Sushi Tortilla Rolls

Overall: four-star

Such an easy recipe to prepare and it was a crowd pleaser! I am going to keep this one in mind for larger family gatherings and serving picky eaters. The flavor isn’t going to rock your world, but it’s safe, easy, and affordable.  (Recipe here, from Pioneer Woman.) Continue reading

Be Grateful
Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

skipahead

This week is shaping up to be another busy one (I have a feeling I’ll be saying that a lot for the next couple weeks, so I’ll try to nix that from the upcoming posts…). So this is installment number two on “easy, hearty, and reheatable” recipes this month.

With that in mind, I could tell you how the weather in the Midwest has been horrible, or E has been sick with the flu, or how much laundry I have to do this weekend. I could drone on about all these things, all the while patting myself on the back for how well I’m doing managing so much or thinking about how rough I have it. Instead of doing that, lets all count our good fortunes and be happy for all that is good in our lives. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the explosion in West, Texas and the Boston Marathon Bombing. The heartache the families and friends must be going through is unthinkable, and suddenly my long to-do list or the bad weather seem so terribly petty.

Instead, I’m going to take time today, and hopefully everyday thereafter, to appreciate and show my love to my family. Make a warm and hearty dinner for your family tonight or tomorrow night or the next – perhaps all three – and be grateful for their health, safety, happiness, and togetherness.

 

And, if you can, take a moment to support the victims and survivors of these tragedies. The One Fund is the fund set up to help the families and communities affected by the Boston bombing. And the Red Cross Disaster Relief is on site at the West, Texas explosion. Help them here. Thanks in advance for your generosity; I know it will be appreciated 10-fold.


Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

Overall: four-star

This dish is a throw back to the one dish casserole meals my mom would serve when I was a kid. The difference in this is that the flavor is fresh and fun. I love the buffalo and bleu cheese flavors. You can make it to whatever spice level you prefer and it’s fairly easy to prepare.  (Recipe here, from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book.) Continue reading

When retro is new again
Pineapple Upside Down Cake in a Skillet

skipaheadOver the weekend we celebrated my littlest sister and her 19th year. Yes, my sister is entering into her last teen year. I just can’t believe it. She’ll always be my baby sister though. After all, when I’m 99 she’ll only be 89. Spring chicken!

My baby sister and my baby boy.

My baby sister and my baby boy.

To celebrate her birthday, we went to the zoo and then made any cake she wanted. She could have chosen a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and chocolate ice cream. Or a lemon infused three-tiered cake with butter cream frosting. But no, she chose pineapple upside-down cake. And when I told her she was being retro and a little bit too easy on me she blinked back at me confused. Apparently 19 is too young to know that a pineapple upside-down cake is old-school.

Happy Birthday, Michelle!

Happy Birthday, Michelle!


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (In an Iron Skillet)

Overall: four-star

DSCF48701This is such a throw back recipe. It reminds me something that my grandmother probably made as a newlywed. I’d never made it though and it was really pretty good. The flavor didn’t blow me away, but it was easy to make and such a sweet presentation. (Recipe here, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.) Continue reading

Test Drive
Savory Ricotta and Scallion Scones

skipaheadI hope it finally feels like spring is on it’s way where you are. It definitely is peeking out of the shadows this week in Minnesota. All of the snow is starting the melt, leaving dead grass, road sand, and winter litter in it’s wake. I’ll take it though. A few weeks of brown and dirty is alright by me; I know that green and rainy is not far behind!

Last night I texted E and told him “family walk at 6.” It was a tiny bit chilly, but we took Little K out for a walk. The pups stayed home since this was our first “test drive” of Little K’s new ride, but we’ll bring them along next time for sure!

I did my own little test drive made these savory scones a few nights ago, my first attempt at making a savory bread. Although they were very tasty, I don’t expect I’ll be making them again in the near future. No sir. The spring bug got me. Salads, and fruits, and dinners on the grill for this girl! These scones are perfect with a bowl of soup on a rainy or snowy afternoon.


Savory Ricotta and Scallion Scones

Overall: four-star

I was really happy with how these turned out. Beautiful presentation, easy to make and yummy. I think they could have used a teeny bit more pizazz, next time I think I’ll add a little more paprika or even some cayenne pepper. (Recipe here, from Girl versus Dough on Tasty Kitchen.) Continue reading

Pie on Pi
Five Fruit Pie

Because I’m incredibly original, I give you pie. On March 14th. Which is 3.14, which is also known as pi. Complex stuff.

pie-pi

I have a thing for pie. I love pecan pie, cherry pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, and my Grandma D’s pumpkin pie. (Well really any pie she wants to make, I’ll love. But that’s one of her best.) I love pie so much E and I served it at our wedding. I don’t mean that in an offhanded way. We skipped wedding cake all together and bought 30 some pies from our favorite little pie shop in Wisconsin: the Norske Nook. (Note: I’m not endorsing their food – that’s kind of a mixed bag. But their pies are phenomenal!) It was amazing. I think I had like three pieces of pie that night.

I think most everyone loved having something a little different to choose from and I know people really got into trying the different flavors. E definitely was on board with the pie decision.

If you’re wondering, it’s strawberry rhubarb pie. Now wonder no more. If E has a grin this big, it’s because he’s eating strawberry rhubarb pie.


Five Fruit Pie

Overall: four-star

See? The grin isn't quite as substantial for this pie. It's still there - there is rhubarb and strawberries - but those damn blueberries and raspberries got in the way!

See? The grin isn’t quite as substantial for this pie. It’s still there – there is rhubarb and strawberries – but those damn blueberries and raspberries got in the way!

A great recipe for the indecisive. It has a mixture of berries, rhubarb and apples. The berries kind of all blend together and you can’t pick out a distinct flavor, the rhubarb gives it all a tartness, and the apples are a nice crunch. All together, tasty! (Recipe here, from Taste of Home Magazine.)

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It came out of right field
Lemon Rosemary Scones

I’m notorious for getting sayings wrong or just using a wrong – but similar – word for something. Last week I told my coworker, “Well that really came out of right field.” He looked at me and said, “Yeah, or left field.” If my good friend, Beth, were there she would have asked me, “Krystal, are you having a stroke?” I’m usually off just enough with these things that I just end up sounding crazy.

Case in point:

Once in an interview at Beth’s company I explained to FOUR managers that, “I’m really over the hill about working with a CMS.” I was trying to say, “I’m really over the moon.” I’m excited, I enjoy it, it gives me pleasure. Instead I said I’m really old and perhaps out of touch when working with a CMS.

Over Thanksgiving dinner this year I was explaining to my entire family how difficult it is to be a working mom who breastfeeds, especially when I have to pump in the middle of a daylong conference. I said, “How awkward to walk of a closet carrying bottles of my own excrement.” Umm, no, that’s not what I meant. Excretion. Excretion is what I meant. Not a whole lot better, but it’s not poop.

The other day I was chatting with E and talking about my ability to care for plants. I said, “It’s not that I’m a black eye, but I don’t want to have a rainforest in my house either.” E just nodded and continued with the discussion, two minutes later I realized what I had just said and yelled out, “Black THUMB!” He knew. He married me, he knew.

Several years ago E and I were walking out to our car at the mall and I said, “Where did we park? I’m so disillusioned.” Well, perhaps. But meant I was disoriented. Can I help it if I was born dizzy?! [name that reference]

I say things like this so often, I have started to avoid certain words because I just *know* I’ll say them wrong.

  • gesticulate: For some reason this word and testicle are all wrapped together in my mind.
  • literally: It literally drives me up a wall when I misuse this word. Ok, not literally.
  • self-deprecating: Am I the only one who thinks that’s just too easy to confuse with defecating. Although I do have self-deprecating humor, I don’t want to misstep and say I’m pooping myself. #awkward
  • sconce vs. scone: Ok, I’m actually throwing this one in here for my mom. She always calls the delightful pastry a sconce, which I find ridiculous.

Luckily I know the difference because I made some to share at a brunch with my best girl friends this weekend.

Kerin, Nicole, and Tara. Nicole hosted and made an amazing croissant ring with eggs and bacon.
So so good.

A couple of our main men crashed the brunch too.

Little K and Colin, best buds.


Lemon Rosemary Scones

Overall: four-star

These took a bit longer to prepare because of the glazing process, and in my opinion it made them way too sweet. So I think this could very easily be a five star recipe. (Recipe here, from The Pioneer Woman.)

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