August 18, 2014

Our New House - Its Back-Story and Info on The Updates to Come

Back at the beginning of July, I shared with you my intention to take A Break from Blogging while we spent some time renovating and moving into a "new-to-us" home. We were just getting ready to head out on a family vacation at the time - a road trip out west from our home state of Michigan - and were coming home to begin work on the new place.

We just took possession of the house at the end of July, got the keys in our hands and have now started some minor work that we'll be doing ourselves while we wait for contractors to start work on the addition we're having added on.

We won't be relocating to the new house until most of the renovations are complete.

July 02, 2014

A Break from Blogging

I've struggled with how to write this particular post or even if I should write it for quite some time now. And, I've been a little hesitant and nervous about having to eventually hit the publish button. But, I feel that you - my readers and followers - deserve to know exactly where my heart is right now and what plans I have for my future with regards to blogging.

I adore blogging. It has been such a fun experience and extremely satisfying. I started Joyously Domestic just over two years ago and it has truly brought so much joy and fulfillment to my life. I'm not considered a big fish  in the blogging word per se. But, I've worked my butt off during the past two years to try to share creative ideas with those who visit here. I started out knowing nothing about blogging. But, I've learned and grown along the way. And, so many of you have been right here with me - showing support in so many ways.

One of my main wishes when I started JD was to create a sense of community. It has been my desire to create an environment here and on my corresponding social media outlets that would inspire people in the kitchen. I desired a place to share family recipes from my kitchen to yours and, also, a place for us to inspire one another. In my life, nothing is more important than family and building lifelong memories with those I love. You've listened to the personal stories about my life and family that are often woven throughout my posts. And, you've encouraged me with your comments and messages time and time again. I really cannot thank you enough.

June 26, 2014

Simple Peach Compote

I've been up to my elbows in peaches recently. I've picked up several pounds both this week and last week. I recently shared my recipe for Peach Cobbler with Sugar Crackle Topping. So good! And, I just made some peach and poppy seed scones that were absolutely scrumptious. Yesterday, I made up a batch of my peach compote.
It is super similar to a chunky peach jam, but contains no added pectin so it doesn't quite have the same consistency. The uses for this compote are almost endless. Even though it isn't necessary a jam or jelly, it is still divine spread on toast or fresh biscuits. It can, also, be poured warm or cooled over vanilla ice cream. It's fabulous served over grilled pork chops. And, we love it dolloped on thick, vanilla yogurt. P.S. Add some into a blender with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and a little milk for one heck of a milkshake.

In the past, I've even served this compote with a cheese and cracker tray. Spread a little soft cheese onto a crispy cracker and spoon on some of this compote. Heavenly.

TIP: You can amp up this compote with a variety of spices if desired. Cinnamon, ginger and/or nutmeg would bring a little warmth to the party. The caviar from a vanilla bean can be substituted for the vanilla extract. Even something unexpected like, some freshly-cracked black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes can add something super unique ... and would be great if using the compote over grilled meat or with crackers.

This can be frozen in an air-tight container for a few months or will keep well in the fridge for a week or so.

June 24, 2014

Blogger Spotlight with Me - Angela from Joyously Domestic

I've been doing a monthly Blogger Spotlight feature here on Joyously Domestic for several months now. It's a series where I introduce you to some fabulous bloggers in an interview-style format. Last month, I featured Michelle from Counting Willows. This month, I thought why not share a little about myself and my blogging experience ? I figured it'd be an easy way for you to get to know me a little better and would be beneficial for my newer readers especially - a chance to get to know the blogger behind the blog. So, I'm interviewing myself this month and hope you'll take a few moments to take a peek into my life both inside and outside of the blog.

June 20, 2014

One-Skillet Chicken & Rice Burrito Filling

My husband, Steve, and twelve-year old son, Zayne, are burrito fanatics. So, this recipe suits them well. What I find both fascinating and glorious about this recipe is that all of the components that one would typically find in a loaded burrito come together in one pan. You don't have to cook the meat, rice and beans separately. It's all cooked in one skillet - along with a magnificent blending of spices, onions, corn, tomatoes and herbs. Score. This recipe comes together easily and is perfect for a busy weeknight. And, the leftovers are fabulous the next day.

Although this recipe is written as a burrito filling, the mixture is great as a filling for quesadillas or for serving over slightly crushed tortilla (or corn) chips, as well. If using as a burrito filling, you can simply warm up your large, soft tortilla shells, load them up with the filling, roll 'em up and eat as-is. Or, you can pan-fry them or bake them (brush them with a little oil first) after rolling. (We're partial to frying them.)

Once I spoon the filling onto the tortilla, I like to sprinkle on some chopped red onion, lots of extra cilantro and chopped avocado before rolling them up. Dipped in sour cream, these babies are scrumptious.

NOTE: If you like things spicy, you can add in some chopped hot peppers to the filling mixture as it is cooking.

Friday Foodie Favorites - June 20 (The Target Edition)

A couple of new-to-me granola varieties (one is gluten free), some killer multigrain crackers (that contain quinoa) and some amazing sweet potato tortilla chips are just a few of the things I'm diggin' this week. (And, all my FFF items this week can easily be found at your local Target store.)

1. Oh, my lawdy! I recently discovered Bakery on Main's Gluten Free Granola at Target. My favorite is the Rainforest Banana Nut variety. I buy it now simply to snack on right out of the bag. It's not your typical granola since it contains no oats. Instead, it's made with brown rice, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seed, flax seed, real bananas, coconut, cinnamon and a few other good-for-you ingredients.

2. There's not a lot to say about Justin's Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups except yum. I love that they are not overly sweet. They do come in a milk chocolate variety, but I'm partial to the dark.

3. These Multigrain Crackers with Quinoa & Flax by Simply Balanced are the bomb-diggity. They are super crisp and have great texture. They are great on their own, but are fabulous with hummus.

4. There's serious crunch in these Archer Farms Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips. I'd never had tortilla chips made with sweet potatoes, but I'm hooked on them now. They are great dipped into my homemade salsa, but are amazing all on their own, too.

5. Another great product from Simply Balanced that I really love is their Sparkling Peach Mango drink. Four come in a pack and they are super refreshing - especially during summer.

6. Erin Baker's Peanut Butter Homestyle Granola is made just how I like my granola - chewy and packed full of flavor in every bite. It is amazing in vanilla Greek yogurt and great in a bowl with a little almond milk on busy mornings. (Their chocolate variety is pretty darn good, too.)

7. I am a nut fanatic and I especially love raw, unsalted nuts. Archer Farms Raw Mixed Nuts contain all of my favorites - almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios. They are the extra wonderful when dry-roasted for a few minutes in the oven on a sheet pan. A handful gives me energy to get through my mid-afternoon slump.

8. These Archer Farms Dark Chocolate Himalayan Salted Almonds are to die for. They are made with 64% cacao and are quite the treat. I love the sweet and salty combo with just that little bit of bitterness from the dark chocolate. Beware - they're dangerous!

June 17, 2014

Peach Cobbler with Crackle Sugar Topping

I scored a super killer deal on fresh peaches this past week. So, I stocked up. Is there anything better than walking through your kitchen and having the scent of fresh, perfectly-ripened peaches hit you? To me, the smell just screams summer.  We have been snacking on them as-is this whole weekend, but I knew I had to make cobbler with some of them in honor of Father's Day. (Peaches are my husband's favorite fruit.)

So, after we feasted on steaks on the grill, potato salad, cucumber and onion dill salad and corn on the cob, we snuggled in to watch a family movie while we ate peach cobbler.

I love this recipe. The top of the crust becomes crackled and has a flavor that slightly resembles the outer part of an angel food cake. Topped with some vanilla ice cream, this dessert is nothing short of fabulous. It reminds me of summers during my childhood. Cobblers using fresh fruit were a regular staple on all sides of my family. I love making them for my family and love that they enjoy them as much as I always did (and still do).

That bubbling peach filling and that crackly, crisp biscuit topping ... it's pure bliss.  I have made cobbler with canned peaches, but it's kinda a little magical when it's made with fresh ones. (Sometimes I throw in a handful of fresh raspberries or blueberries with the peaches, too.)

Serves eight.

June 16, 2014

Ultimate Potato Salad

I've been the Family Potato Salad Maker for years. On both my side of the family and my husband's side, I'm the one who is asked to bring the potato salad to summer gatherings. This task bodes well for me since potato salad is one of my all-time favorite dishes ... so long as the potato salad is made right.

I'm severely and unapologetically picky about 'tater salad. I want nothing to do with any that comes close to resembling the kind found lurking behind the glass at most deli counters or the kind in those plastic pails next to the rotisserie chicken display at the supermarket. You know the ones. They are often slimy and heavily laden with pimentos.

And, I don't care for potato salad made with sweet relish or sweet pickles. Also, I cringe when the potatoes are not cooked long enough. And, I like the potatoes cut into itty, bitty cubes. Furthermore, I don't understand the logic behind boiled potatoes simply coated with a little mayo and mustard (a.k.a. bland potato salad ). I cherish a potato salad that is complex in flavor even though it is considered a simple side dish. It has to have the right vinegar-to-sugar ratio in the mix as it's all about balance to me. When everything comes together as it should, it's a beautiful (and scrumptious) thing!

See ... told ya I was picky.

Many friends and family members have requested my recipe through the years. The problem has always been that I'd never really measured anything. I just eye-balled everything as I went along. But, I have spent a lot of time recently working on nailing down the precise measurements and writing up an actual recipe for my tried-and-true potato salad. So, now I'm finally able to share it here with you.

There are a couple of key steps that I think really help make this recipe a true winner. Drizzling some vinegar over the potatoes while they are steaming hot (right after draining) is one of those key steps. Don't skip it. It makes a world of difference. And, mixing together the dressing with the potatoes, onions, celery and eggs while the potatoes are still warm is another key component to this recipe. The result is a super creamy, you'll-think-you-died-and-went-to-heaven potato salad that is sure to make you the rock star at your next summer party.

June 13, 2014

Friday Foodie Favorites - June 13

Crisp chocolate chip cookies, a hearty wheat bread that takes me back to my childhood and some kid-friendly snack packs that are fab on the go are just a few of the things I'm diggin' this week.

1. I don't indulge in chips all that often, but I do enjoy some with a good sandwich every now and then. One of my favorites? Sun Chips - the Garden Salsa variety. I like that they have a touch of heat, but aren't overly spicy. And, since they're multi-grain chips, I feel a tiny bit less guilty eating a handful or two.

2. My kids LOVE these apple, cheese and pretzel Foodles from Crunch Pak. They are great to take on the go. Other packs are available that include baby carrots and grapes.

3. I love that Sargento has a line of Ultra Thin cheese that is perfect for sandwiches and wraps. They are just 40 - 45 calories per slice. They work beautifully when making grilled cheese or panini sandwiches since they melt quickly and evenly. I'm partial to the Swiss variety, but several more varieties are offered.

4. I grew up with a loaf of Brownberry Natural Wheat Bread in the fridge the majority of the time. I remember having it loaded with shaved ham, mayo and alfalfa sprouts as a sandwich in my lunch at school. I still enjoy it as my sandwich bread of choice, but I like it toasted with a little butter and honey in the morning, too, for a quick breakfast. It, also, makes a killer grilled cheese sandwich. It has twelve whole grains, is preservative free and contains no high fructose corn syrup.

5. I buy 2 - 3 large bottles of Gold Peak Premium Tea each week. I am an iced tea addict. I prefer the unsweetened, but they offer many different varieties. My son likes the raspberry and my daughter loves the lemon.

6. My family is totally in love with these crisp Chocolate Chip Cookie Chips from HannahMax Baking. They taste like a cookie and eat like a chip. They are super addictive, so beware.

June 12, 2014

Margarita Watermelon Wedges

Fresh-cut, juicy watermelon. It's a staple at many get-togethers and cookouts during the summer months. Often, it's a quickly-devoured snack that many kids enjoy. But, this is an ADULTS ONLY version and captures the essence of a margarita in simple, refreshing wedges. What could be better?
I'll first share with you my tip for easily cutting a watermelon into manageable, hassle-free wedges. It's usually the only way I cut up a watermelon for gatherings - whether serving it for kids or using it in a fun, grown-up recipe like this one.