Sunday, May 31, 2015

#HotSummerEats ~ Kick Off with an AMAZING #Giveaway!!

Hot Summer Eats is here. Rallied by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, a talented group of 18 food bloggers will be posting recipes for a week. From June 1st through June 8th, we hope to inspire you for your summer grill dates and cookouts, provide you with ideas for your beach bonfires, and get you planning those ice cream socials and cocktail hours. Not only will you find over a hundred summery recipe posts, but you can enter to win our awesome giveaway, courtesy of some amazingly generous donations from sponsoring companies. 

Come back tomorrow and every day for the first week of June for some amazingly delicious recipes to inspire you and your summer cooking!

See details below.
The Sponsors
(with links to their homepages, in alphabetical order)

The Prizes
BenBella Vegan will provide one winner with one print copy of each of their Spring 2015 releases:Love Fed, by Christina Ross (March 2015); PlantPure Nation Cookbook, by Kim Campbell (March 2015); Plant-Powered Families, by Dreena Burton (May 2015); Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living, by Lindsay S. Nixon (May 2015); and China Study Quick and Easy Cookbook, by Del Sroufe (May 2015).

Casabella will provide one winner with a trio of kitchen gadgets that are perfect for summer entertaining: a set of two large ice cube trays; a citrus juicer and reamer; and a cherry pitter.

Gourmet Garden will provide one winner with each of their stir-in pastes (basil, chili pepper, cilantro, dill, Italian herbs, garlic, chunky garlic, ginger, lemongrass, oregano, parsley, and Thai seasonings), each of their lightly dried herbs (basil, chili pepper, cilantro, ginger, and parsley), and two Gourmet Garden logo coolers.

Not Ketchup will provide one winner with a prize pack of four fruit ketchups - Blueberry White Pepper, Cherry Chipotle, Spiced Fig, and Smoky Date.

Quirk Books will send one winner a copy of their cookbook Summer Cocktails by Maria Del Mar Sacasa, photography by Tara Striano.

Spicely Organics will send one winner their Backyard Barbeque Gift Box.

T.Lish will provide one winner with each of the three current flavors: Sweet Garlic, Asian Sesame, and Chipotle.

Members of the Sauceology Group have donated a summery prize pack that includes six delicious products. You will receive either the Calypso Kick or Island Thyme Spice Rub from Caribeque, Garlic Goodness Hot Sauce and Chai Curry Chup from Intensity Academy, Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds, Guava Girl Gourmet Grilling Sauce from Pirate Jonny's, and Southern Gold Barbeque Gold Sauce from Voodoo Chef.

The Giveaway

Disclaimer - Thank you to #HotSummerEats sponsors BenBella Vegan, Caribeque, Casabella, Gourmet Garden, Intensity Academy, Not Ketchup, Out of the Weeds. Pirate Jonny's, Quirk Books, Spicely Organics, T.Lish , and Voodoo Cheffor providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats without additional compensation.All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 25, 2015

#GestationalSurrogacy ~ Update...

I haven't posted about this pregnancy for awhile now, but I guess I need to post a quick update. Unfortunately last Wednesday at what was supposed to be our 10 1/2 week ultrasound we found out this little peanut had stopped developing not long after our 8w2d ultrasound 2 weeks prior... I don't even have any words to express my sadness and disappointment for my intended parents. My heart aches... after all they've been through - everything looked so great at our first two scans, and then bam... baby is gone. I keep wondering if there is something, ANYTHING I could have done differently...

The parents have opted to have genetic testing done, to make sure there isn't a reason they can use the remaining two embryos they have from the same donor. I should hear from the clinic tomorrow morning to get that finalized and scheduled, hopefully soon. I hate that I've known for almost a full week now that baby is gone, and yet I am still carrying the pregnancy and my body still thinks it is pregnant. I am staying on medications to help keep things stable so they can do the D&C procedure in the clinic.

I hope we get an answer, but I also know that often times genetic testing doesn't reveal anything wrong... I wish I could fix this somehow...

After the genetic testing results I should get an update on what the parent's would like to do next. Hopefully in another 2 - 3 months we will be able to cycle again, and try again with their remaining embryos and pray, pray, pray for a happier ending...

#SecretRecipeClub ~ Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

Welcome to the May, Group D, reveal day for Secret Recipe Club! I hope you will take a moment to visit the  Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it is a wonderful group of bloggers who are given a "secret" assignment of another member's blog each month and our goal is to pick ANYTHING from their blog to make and post about on our designated reveal day! I have been a part of SRC for over two years now and LOVE the opportunity to get to know another blogger a little better each month by spending time browsing their blog, reading through their recipes and posts, and finding something perfect for my family from what they've shared.

For the month of May I was assigned to Fearless Homemaker - I have been a big fan of Amy's blog for quite awhile now so I was excited to get to feature a recipe from her blog this month! Amy's adorable Fearless Toddler is just a few months older than my baby girl Lindsey so I always watch for the posts with updates and pictures of her cutie pie (especially dishes her little one liked)! When I was browsing through Amy's recipes I came across her March 2013 #SRC post when she featured some delicious Parmesan Rosemary Focaccia Bread from my blog! Just over two years later, and I get a chance to feature something from hers! :)

Some of the yummy recipes I drooled my way through while trying to choose what to make for today: Chicken Florentine, Simple Beef and Broccoli, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars, Veggie Packed Macaroni and Cheese, Asian Sesame Beef Skewers, Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies, Cherry Pinwheel Danish, Spicy Peanut and Sesame Noodles, Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, Delicious Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake, Honey Oat Cinnamon Muffins, Glazed Lemon Pound Cake, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Andes Mint Chip Cookies, Homemade Cheez Its, Pasta e Fagioli, Baked Apple Cinnamon Donuts, Bacon Fried Rice.. Yes please!! My stomach is grumbling just reading over this list!

As you can see, I went with the lemon pound cake. My son has been asking for lemon poppyseed bread for awhile now, and I considered throwing some poppyseeds in for him, but decided to stick to the recipe. I had a little trouble with my cakes sticking to my silicone loaf pans - I used Baker's Joy spray and apparently didn't coat it heavily enough. However, these still came out beautiful and absolutely DELICIOUS! Super moist and tender, and that bright, tart glaze is perfection. What a perfect summery treat to enjoy with some lemonade or iced tea!

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake from Fearless Homemaker

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned + leveled), plus more for pan
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs

Lemon Glaze:
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 - 4 TBS fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with rack placed in the lowest position. Generously grease and flour two 4 1/2-by-8-inch (6-cup) loaf pans, or one 12-cup Bundt pan (see Cook’s Note below).
  2. In a small bowl (or liquid measuring cup), combine the buttermilk with lemon zest and lemon juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts alternately with the buttermilk mixture in two, beginning and ending with flour; beat just until smooth (do not over mix).
  5. Divide batter evenly between loaf pans; smooth tops. bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 50-60 minutes (tent with foil if browning too quickly). Cool 15 minutes in pan before turning out cakes onto a rack; cool completely before glazing.
  6. While cake(s) are cooling, make the glaze: place confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup; stir in lemon juice (glaze should be thick, yet pourable). Add more sugar or lemon juice, as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  7. When cakes are still slightly warm, place them over a sheet of foil, or on a foil lined baking sheet, and drizzle evenly with the glaze. Allow glaze to set for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Cook’s Note: the batter can also be baked in a 12-cup buttered and floured nonstick Bundt pan; the cooking and cooling times are the same.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#BundtBakers ~ Marshmallow Drenched Rocky Road 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. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

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

What can I say about this month's #BundtBaker's challenge that these photos don't say for themselves? This was a fantastic theme and I am so glad we had the chance to work with the Rocky Road ingredients!

I did end up using a recipe that called for cake mix and pudding mix, and while I try to stick more to scratch recipes most of the time, the majority of the Rocky Road cake recipes I found included cake mix so I went with it. That's what I keep a few cake mixes in the pantry for - right?!

The add-ins are what make this cake so dense, fudgy, moist, and absolutely delicious. The little marshmallows melt into the batter leaving it extra moist and gooey, and the chocolate chips melt in as well, leaving extra tender chocolaty bites when you find one. The nuts add a nice crunch and contrast.

My son LOVED this one - he wanted to eat the whole pot of marshmallow glaze before I even put it on the cake - but he at least got the little bit I left off (and then he tried to eat all the excess glaze that puddled around the edges of the cake).

This cake is super rich and would be perfect with a big glass of milk or a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream. I can't think of a better way to end the day!

Check out all the beautiful Rocky Road inspired Bundts this month:

Marshmallow Drenched Rocky Road Bundt Cake adapted from Picture Perfect Cooking and Noshing with the Nolands

1 chocolate cake mix of your choice
3.9 oz. box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Marshmallow Glaze
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 - 2 TBS heavy whipping cream
1 TBS butter

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a Bundt pan by spraying it with baking spray.  
  2. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, and eggs.  With an electric mixer, beat on low until just combined and then beat on medium for 2 minutes.  Fold in the chocolate chips, marshmallow pieces and almond pieces.
  3. Bake for 1 hour then cool in the pan for 10 min before removing to finish cooling on a cake pan or cooling rack.
  4. Prepare marshmallow glaze by combining glaze ingredients in a small nonstick saucepan, stirring often until marshmallows melt along with the butter and then stir until smooth.  Coat cake while still at least a little warm to allow glaze to soak in.
  5. When cool, slice, serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 2015 Product Reviews

I had the chance to review several products this month and wanted to share a few of them with you - they include:

Product Information:
  • ✔ EASY USE & CLEANING: Magic Reusable Silicone Kitchen Dough Kneading Tool Bag prevents flour from splashing everywhere. It's Convenient to use and easy to wash. Wonderful cooking tools for every baker. Measuring approximately 32x23cm, can hold up to 1kg flour or 1500ml liquids.
  • ✔ PERFECT FOR KNEADING & MARINATES: Just add the ingredients such as flour, water, eggs mix all together, tie up the bag and start kneading. For marinating meats or fish, pour ingredients in, tie the bag and pour in fridge. Also can be used for pressing fruit and vegetable, making puree. Can also be used to store foods and beverages.
  • ✔ DURABLE & RESISTANT: BakeitFun Silicone Kneading Sack resist temperatures from -40°F (-40°C) to 450°F (230°C). The bag can go to the fridge or freezer for marinating or food storage and can also be used with warm liquids such as hot milk or water; The Bag is made of PREMIUM FOOD GRADE SILICONE.
  • ✔ SAFE & NON-TOXIC: Keep your kids safe with best quality available on the market - It's German Food Grade approved, BPA free and FDA safe; BRING YOUR KIDS into the kitchen with joy. The bag is antibacterial tasteless and odorless due to it's material that also provides non-stick and high elasticity. Resists temperatures between -40°C to 230°C. It's microwave, oven and refrigerator safe. Flexible and foldable, saving space on storage.
  • ✔ BACKED by BakeitFun Lifetime Money-back Guarantee: We only sell products that were carefully tested - Buy the best with confidence - love our kneading dough bag or get every penny back, no questions asked, it's that easy.

My Review: This bag is VERY versatile, I love that it's non stick food grade silicone and the two silicone zip ties that come with it are very handy! It comes with a fantastic guarantee as well - this is a great tool to have in your kitchen.

Product Information:

  • STYLISH DESIGN AND PRACTICAL USE - Timeless ceramic white espresso coffee mugs in a stackable and secured frame. Perfect for your home, office, dorm...anywhere you enjoy your espresso.
  • AWESOME ORGANIZER AND SPACE SAVER - No more loose espresso coffee cups hanging around and breaking. Neat, tidy and classy.
  • TOP QUALITY MATERIAL - Sturdy and sleek ABS shell keeps your chic espresso ceramic mug safe and sound.
  • UNIQUE ADDITION FOR COFFEE LOVERS - You decide how many Espresso Stack Cup will make your set. Your espresso coffee kit is perfect for time with family and friends. Looking for a Mother's Day Gift...Espresso Stack Cup!
  • ENHANCE YOUR ESPRESSO COFFEE EXPERIENCE - You'll be the talk of the town serving up the perfect espresso coffee in the perfect Le Bleu Bean Espresso Stack Cup.

My Review: This is a very cute little espresso cup. The black and white is a nice color contrast, and the styling of the stack-able housing appeals to the Lego nerds in my family! This looks very nice on any coffee station!

Product Information:
  • ✔ PARACORD STRENGTH > 620 LBS. U.S. Veteran-Owned Business. Proud Supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • ✔ PERFECT CORD FOR - Home/Auto Use, Emergencies, Camping, Survival Kits, Disaster Prep, Bug-Out Bags, Crafting.
  • ✔ EXTREMELY VERSATILE - Designed for Rugged Paracord Applications Requiring Strength, Durability, and Safety.
  • ✔ GUARANTEED QUALITY - 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Genuine MIL-C-5040-H, Type III, 100% Nylon, 550 Paracord.

My Review: Love this stuff! Great quality, the color is awesome, Kenneth made some very cool projects with the paracord (a couple necklaces, and a few other things). He said it was a little stiff to work with, but overall easy and nice quality. His favorite thing was the strap that came included; no big mess when you pull some of the cord out, it stays neatly together and you can take out as much as you need without having to rewrap the whole thing afterwards.

*Full Disclosure: I received complimentary product for the purpose of review. I received no compensation for this post. All comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Personalized soldier wall decal #review + #Giveaway

I love this decal! It is perfect for any little boy (or girl!) who loves to play with soldiers, or the older boys and girls who are fascinated by the military and maybe even thinking about it for themselves (even if it makes their mama swallow hard, because she's proud of them and terrified for them at the same time)! If you want a chance to win this for a young person in your life make sure to enter via the rafflecopter below! Good luck!

Product Information:
Vinyl wall matte finish wall decal. Personalized military soldier, great for any boys room. Measures 8 X 28 inches. You can choose the color for the soldier, also the color and font for the name. The decal is removable without damage to walls or paint, but is not reusable. On under the military tab, the item number for the decal is 742KP.

These decals are well made and come with a very handy hard plastic scraper which makes installation super easy!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Liquid Health Prenatal Multi Vitamin #Review

Product Information:

Using liquid prenatal vitamins during pregnancy can benefit pregnant mothers.  Every expecting mother wants nothing more than to ensure their baby is born healthy. This starts with supplementing with the right nutrients. Liquid Health Prenatal Multi provides crucial vitamins and minerals in liquid supplement form. Using liquid prenatal vitamins allows the delivery into the body to absorb the maximum amount of nutrition, benefiting both mother and baby. Prenatal supplements are commonly recommended by doctors to expecting and breast feeding mothers as a way to ensure proper nutrients are delivered to both mother and child. Liquid Health Prenatal Multi has been formulated with Folate, Beta-carotene, Vitamin D, B vitamins and other vital ingredients to support the health of pregnant mothers and the development of healthy babies.

Prenatal Multi Vitamins are a terrific option for your pregnancy multi vitamin needs; this liquid prenatal supplement are easily absorbed by your body.

Being 10 weeks pregnant with surro-baby #5, I was definitely interested in trying out this liquid prenatal vitamin supplement! I love the idea, and love that it is readily absorbed by your body. The suggestion is to mix 1 TBS of the vitamins into your morning orange juice if you are sensitive to the taste (as many pregnant mommies tend to be towards their vitamin supplements)!

Learn lots more great information at the website below!

Find Liquid Health online:

For customers wanting to give this product a try, you can use the promotional code “NSN20” to purchase Liquid Health’sPrenatal Multi online at Next Step Nutrition.

For resellers seeking liquid prenatal supplement manufacturers you might want to try Matsun Nutrition.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#BloggerCLUE ~ Lemon Cheesecake Parfaits with Raspberry Sauce

Welcome to my second month with the C.L.U.E. Bloggers (CLUE = Cook, Learn, Undertake, Eat).  Blogger C.L.U.E. is a group of like minded food bloggers who get an assignment each month of another member's blog; our mission (should we choose to accept it) is to take the theme for the month and find any recipe on our assigned blog that fits. Make the recipe, photograph the recipe, and share it with you on reveal day! For the month of May I had the fun task of finding a "Berry" recipe from Taking on Magazines. There were SOOOO many amazing recipes to choose from - I was drawn to these Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes with Blueberry Compote (drool), and OH MY this Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Cake, and this Pecan-Berry Coffee Cake!! Yes, please!

What I settled on was this cheesecake parfait - I had just been to Sam's Club and brought home a beautiful 18-oz package of fresh (and SOOO YUMMY) raspberries. I had to restrain myself from eating them all straight out of the container before they could be turned into the beautiful sauce you see below. The original recipe is for a Key Lime Cheesecake Parfaits with Raspberry Sauce and Quaker Oat Granola Cookie Crumble, but I didn't have key lime juice, or even lime juice and honestly was curious how it would work with lemon. I thought about making a batch of oatmeal cookies to crumble to stay a little closer to the original recipe - but I am 9 weeks pregnant. Therefore I am exhausted and hungry all the time. Therefore I went with Nilla wafer cookies which I already had in the pantry! :)

I could not have been any happier with this recipe. The combination of the cool, lightly tangy, incredibly creamy cheesecake base topped with that rich, sweet, raspberry sauce on top was absolute PERFECTION. I could have sat and eaten the entire parfait myself (before dinner)... but I had a little self control... just a little.

These are absolutely beautiful and would be perfect for a dessert to share at a company meal, and of course they are perfect to wow your family with as well! I will definitely try this again when I get my hands on key lime juice; but if, like me, you don't have lime juice - give this one a try with lemon juice, I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed either!!

Lemon Cheesecake Parfaits with Raspberry Sauce adapted from Taking On Magazines

Lemon Cheesecake
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon (I used about half a tsp dried lemon zest)
1 cup whipped cream

Raspberry Sauce
18 ounces fresh raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

For Serving
Whipped Cream
1 Nilla Wafer cookie per parfait

  1. For the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and salt until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream and lemon zest until fully incorporated. Spoon cheesecake into individual serving dishes, smooth until the tops are even. Place in the refrigerator to set.
  2. For the raspberry sauce, heat the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar melts and sauce has reached desired thickness. Set aside to cool.
  3. When ready to serve, crush up a Nilla Wafer cookie over the top of the cheesecake and top with about 1 TBS raspberry sauce. Finish with a dollop of whipped cream on top if desired.
Find the other Blogger C.L.U.E. members posts for today at their websites: