Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cheesy Bacon Burgers

Another yummy bacon burger version we enjoyed recently. Kenneth made ginormous homemade buns so I had to make ginormous hamburger patties to go with them! This was a quick and filling dinner, to give us a taste of summer even in the cold winter weather.

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas! We're still getting everything cleaned up and put away from our big Christmas day that we spent both at home with just our little family, and at my sister-in-laws with the whole family. It was a very nice day and the kids were thoroughly spoiled. We put Lindsey's new toys out in her play room, and packed up about half of the other toys to hide away so we can start rotating them to keep things "new and fun" for her!

We decided to run out for some groceries this morning and when we were at Sam's Club we discovered a ton of toys on clearance for about half off to reduce stock after Christmas, so we picked up something for Lindsey's birthday in September at a great deal! Gotta love planning ahead and getting a good deal. :)

Cheesy Bacon Burgers adapted from Kraft on AllRecipes


For the burgers:
1 pound lean ground beef
14 saltine crackers, finely crushed
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 egg
1/4 cup real bacon pieces

Other ingredients:
4 - 6 slices thick cut bacon (cook per this recipe)
4 hamburger buns
2 TBS mayonnaise
2 TBS BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)

4 slices American or Cheddar cheese
Optional toppings: pickles, lettuce, tomato, red onion slices, etc.

  1. Combine the burger ingredients and mix well. Shape into 3 or 4 hamburger patties (depending on how large you want them).
  2. Cook burgers on a grill over medium to medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
  3. Turn off heat and top with a slice of cheese and allow to melt.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the 2 TBS mayonnaise and 2 TBS BBQ sauce. Evenly distribute BBQ sauce mixture onto the top halves of the buns.
  5. Place burger patty on the bottom half of the bun and top with 1 to 1 1/2 slices of cooked bacon (as desired), additional toppings (as desired) and top with the other half of the bun with the BBQ / mayo sauce.
  6. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Eggnog Oatmeal

If you're looking for a fun, festive breakfast to enjoy with a little bit of spice and richness added from eggnog, this is a perfect warm and cozy breakfast! This recipe is easy to tweak and adjust with more or less liquid to reach your preferred creaminess, and then add your favorite add-ins or toppings to make it your own!

Holiday Eggnog Oatmeal inspired by Family Fresh Cooking

2 cups quick cooking oats
1 TBS flaxseed meal
2 cups eggnog
1 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup dried fruit (such as cherries or cranberries)

Topping suggestions: whipped cream, half 'n half, milk, chopped nuts, etc.

  1. Combine the oats, flaxseed meal, eggnog, milk, salt, and dried fruit in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium high and bring mixture to a low-boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 10 - 15 minutes, or until desired texture and consistency is reached. If oatmeal is too thick, thin with a little more milk or eggnog, as desired.
  2. Spoon into bowls and serve with desired toppings.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ready for BBQ Season Again?

Now that it's oh so lovely outside right now (read: cold and wet lately) - it is not exactly grilling weather, but that doesn't mean we can't dream of sunny days, a hot grill, and a nice seared steak for dinner!

I received a BBQ Grill Brush to test out from Tomoson, and this is a terrific product to have on hand to keep your grill super clean with minimal effort. Heavy duty, and very effective. This is a great gift for the grill master in your life!

I enjoyed the chance to test this product out, but will enjoy it even more when I'm able to get out and use  my grill every week, like we enjoy doing during the warmer weather!

Product Description provided by the manufacturer:
  • When you start using the Great Aussie Grill Brush you will quickly appreciate the innovative design features that make this grill brush the perfect BBQ grill grate cleaning tool. This brush is a serious HEAVY DUTY BBQ tool made of the highest quality materials. The long handle allows you to easily and safely clean the grill while it is still hot.
  • The innovative design allows you to feel confident that this brush will protect your BBQ investment and will enhance your BBQ cooking.
  • Stainless steel bristles are strong and more durable than brass bristles yet are safe for use with porcelain coated grill grates or Weber grills.
  • We have all angles covered. The wide head and spiral design of bristles mean that the brush can be used in different directions for more effective cleaning. Our innovative design has added extra bristles around the corners of the brush for easier removal of cooking residue that gets baked on between the grill grates.
  • This brush is the perfect balance of strength, sturdiness and length to reach hard to get grease and grime while being safe for hot grill and steam action cleaning.
  • This is a PREMIUM PRODUCT designed and manufactured to our particular specifications to make the task of cleaning your grill grates an easy one.
  • We believe that the product features of the Great Aussie Grill Brush allow you to be as confident as we are that this is a GREAT BBQ Tool and does the job in minutes allowing you to enjoy great BBQ meals.

Until the warmer weather is back here are some recipes that remind me of summer...

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

This is one of my "12 Cookies for Christmas" recipes that I wanted to try this Holiday Season. I'm so glad we got to try this one out! Perfectly yummy chocolatey oatmeal cookie. Soft, chewy, and perfect to snack on or eat with warm with some ice cream (Kenneth's favorite way to eat homemade cookies)!

Baking these cookies was also the perfect opportunity to utilize a pair of Silicone Heat Resistant Baking Gloves I received via Tomoson to test out. I love these things. They have replaced my collection of hot pads I used to keep near the stove. I love that they are SO easy to clean if I do accidentally get part of the glove into whatever I'm removing from the oven (I don't have to throw a hot pad in the wash every single time something gets on it) and I love how much dexterity and control I have when using these. They are much easier to use then a piece of cloth, and they give you a lot of protection from the heat of what you're handling. I can stand there and hold a hot pan or dish for much longer then it takes to move it from the oven to a surface to set it on before I start feeling the warmth seep through to my hands.

I hope you get the chance to try out these yummy cookies soon (well, that is if you like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies). They are a great addition to our growing collection of cookie recipes, and I wish I'd remembered to pack one to bring with to enjoy after lunch today!

The only additional suggestion I have to add to the instructions is to refrigerate the dough between batches. My 2nd batch started spreading and I didn't think too much of it, but by my third batch I ended up with a giant, thin, flat cookie!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies by PANTHERA on AllRecipes

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Refrigerate dough between batches to prevent excess spreading during baking.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken or Turkey Stock

This is a fantastic way to utilize the carcass of your bird when you cook up a whole chicken or turkey - it makes a nice big batch and you can freeze in smaller containers and pull out for use in your soups, stews, casseroles, rice dishes, etc. Homemade is the way to go!

I froze this is quart sized Ziploc bags and have already used most of it for a super tasty tortellini soup - SO good!

After eating soup made with this stock I immediately felt guilty for every single occasion I've thrown out a chicken or turkey carcass without turning it into something this delicious first, and making the most of the whole animal. Waste not, want not - right?! :)

Crock Pot Chicken or Turkey Stock from Pets'R'Us on

3 -4 lbs chicken or turkey bones (raw or cooked, boiling fowl or chicken or carcasses)
1 large onion, chopped or quartered (leave the skin on to give a nice color to the stock)
2 celery sticks, rough chopped (include leaves)
2 carrots, rough chopped
10 black peppercorns, approx.
1 - 2 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
parsley (I used about 1 TBS dried)
boiling water

  1. Preheat the crock-pot on high.
  2. Try breaking up the bones as small as possible, place with all the other ingredients in the crock-pot.
  3. Cover with as much boiling water your crock pot can take (approx 6 cups of water).
  4. Switch to LOW and cook for 12 or up to 24 hours.
  5. Strain, cool, skim of the fat, use the stock or freeze.
  6. If there is any meat on the bones, remove it and use for the soup or other dishes.

15-Month Old ~ Christmas Gift Ideas

Our cutie patootie is now 15 months old and here are a few of the things she will be getting for the Christmas season.

First of all, a practical idea for mommy and daddy - I was sent an Auto Seat Back Protector, made by Dot and Dot, via Tomoson to test out and it is perfect for my poor back seat which tends to get lots of little scuff marks from super cute baby shoes, food pieces, and sippy cup / bottle "liquids" thrown at it. These seat protectors are a good weight, easy to clean, and easily adjustable and adaptaptable for wherever you need them.

Lindsey is rear facing still, so her seat protector is protecting my backseat. When she flips to be forward facing, it will be protecting the back of my front seat!

For Christmas ideas, here are a couple of the things we decided to get Lindsey this year:
  • This one isn't a Christmas gift, but we've had to replace it twice this past year because Lindsey HAS to sleep with it every night, and she soothes herself to sleep with it. The glow and soft music make this a wonderful little "friend" for your little one to cuddle to sleep with. Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Soothe and Glow Seahorse (they come in pink and blue - Lindsey has the blue one.)
  • Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Love to Play Sis - this is one I've had on my "wishlist" for Lindsey for awhile and it was on SUPER sale via Amazon not that long ago so I had to get it. Lindsey saw the toy once before I wrapped it and was so smiley and wanted to touch her feet and paws. Thankfully babies are easily distracted and I put it away so she can be surprised again on Christmas!!
  • Toy Vacuum- Dyson DC DC14 with Real Suction - Lindsey loves to push anything she can around the kitchen - the Swiffer, broom, and small vacuum we have. So we decided to get her one of her own to practice "cleaning" with! They also make a Dyson Ball version which has better reviews, but we decided to get this one since it looks more like the real one we own.
  • It wouldn't be gift season for our little one with a couple Melissa and Doug toys too - of course! So Lindsey is also getting this set of magnetic letters and numbers from us. She is really into magnets and putting things on and off the refrigerator, so we thought these would be great for her as she's starting to learn letter, numbers, and colors too.
  • One last Melissa and Doug item Lindsey is getting is this Shape Sorting Clock - she is starting to figure out puzzles and fitting shapes through openings, so I think she will really enjoy this one!
  • Lindsey has really loved her "Say Please Tea Set" (she carries the little plastic cakes all over the house, along with plastic silverware which cracks me up), so I think the LeapFrog Shapes And Sharing Picnic Basket is going to be enjoyed by her as well!
I haven't had a chance to take real Christmas pictures of her yet, but did get this sort of blurry one by the tree a few nights ago. Can't wait to see her having a blast on Christmas day with all of the wrapping paper! :) All of Lindsey's presents are wrapped in pink Hello Kitty Christmas paper.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Butter Toast

This is a delicious cinnamon toast recipe - a smart way to make it to ensure you have even coverage of sweet, spiced, and ooey, gooey buttery in every bite!

I am a huge cinnamon toast fan, but VERY rarely take the time to make it (not that it takes much time to make it, I guess I just don't include it in our breakfast repertoire often... or ever). I love cinnamon raisin swirl bread too - but that's another one I haven't made the time for. I can't remember the last time I bought a loaf of it at the store, and have thought about making it at home, but haven't... The two go together in my opinion - but since my wonderful husband decided to make a loaf of gorgeous and delicious Amish White Bread, I decided to finally remedy my Cinnamon Toast craving and use some of that perfect homemade bread for this recipe. If you love cinnamon, sugar, butter, and bread - you can't miss with this quick, yummy breakfast or snack. Serve this up alongside some scrambled eggs and bacon, or make it as a snack after school or work - share it with your favorite people and enjoy a happy food moment! (Plus, the smell of this baking in the oven will make you happy even before you get that first buttery bite).

Cinnamon Sugar Butter Toast adapted from The Pioneer Woman

8 slices of bread (I recommend homemade - yumm!)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
1/3 cup sugar (more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine softened butter with the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg (if using). Blend together until creamy and smooth, and evenly combined.
  3. Slather toast with an even layer of the cinnamon sugar butter, making sure to spread butter all the way to each corner.
  4. Lay buttered bread on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn heat to hi-broil and watch closely - brown the toast lightly then remove from the oven and enjoy warm.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Leftover Open Faced Turkey and Mashed Potato Sandwiches

Just in time for delicious roasted turkey leftovers - these sandwiches are sure to please, and leave you with full and happy tummies. They are cozy, comforting, and a great way to use those turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and leftover rolls up. My son and husband both enjoyed these. My son opted to pick his sandwich halves up and eat them by hand, while I chose to use a fork and knife for mine - to each their own!

We served these up at the tail end of our Thanksgiving leftovers, and I was sad that all of the turkey was gone after we ate these for dinner - I would have happily eaten them a second time. They were tasty and total comfort food for a quick work night meal on a chilly evening.

I can't believe we are counting down just FIVE more days until Christmas! Kenneth's birthday is coming up on Christmas even and he will finally be as old as me again, well for 6 months until I'm older then him again in June. :) I am so looking forward to the coming days - sharing good food, cooking, baking, cleaning, wrapping, unwrapping, and enjoying the company of my family.

Leftover Open Faced Turkey and Mashed Potato Sandwiches

Roast Turkey, cut into chunks or thin slices
Turkey / Chicken gravy (about 1/4 cup per sandwich)
1/2 cup mashed potatoes (per sandwich)
1 sandwich roll, split in half
Cranberry Dressing (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Warm up turkey and rolls for about 10 minutes, or until heated through and rolls are lightly toasted.
  3. Heat mashed potatoes stove top, adding additional milk / butter if needed to achieve desired consistency
  4. To assemble sandwiches: Place sandwich roll halves on a plate and smooth about 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes onto each one (more / less to taste and depending on the size of your rolls). Layer on desired amount of turkey slices / pieces and then drizzle with gravy. If desired, you can add cranberry jelly or dressing to the top of the sandwich, or serve on the side.