Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My First NaKee' Natural Guest Blogger Post

I recently blogged here on JD about my new experience as a guest blogger over at NaKee' Natural.  You can check out that post HERE.  As a wife and mother, I am becoming more and more proactive in seeking out skincare products that are comprised of more natural ingredients.  NaKee' Natural offers just that!  If you'd like to check out my first post on NaKee' Natural's blog (a review of their Moroccan Mud Glow bar soap), you can do so HERE.  And, when you're done reading, be sure to visit their website and browse through all of the amazing products that Candy has to offer!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mini Quiche

Quiche is something that can be made with a variety of whatever meats, veggies or cheeses you may have on hand or leftover in your fridge.  The custard filling recipe is listed below.  Once you mix that up and have a pie crust ready (I use store-bought, but homemade is even better), the sky is the limit on the fillings you can use.

It's hard to give you measurements for the filling ingredients because it depends on what items you use and how many.

For this mini version of quiche, I used little pie tins.  But, this can be done in muffin tins.

We often use a combination of chopped deli ham and crumbled, cooked bacon for the meat portion of our filling.  We sometimes add in spinach, but today I just used some chopped scallions for the veggie portion.  Peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms or zucchini are, also great options.  And, we like Swiss, cheddar and grated Parmesan for the cheeses.  But, any type is fine. 

This recipe yields 8 quiche using the mini pie tins.  If using muffins tins, the amount may be different depending on the size of the "wells" in your muffin tin.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

My children have this {lofty} dream that someday we should own and operate a food truck. When I make this recipe, they remind me over and over that we would for sure need to serve these tacos. This recipe is one of their favorite things that I make and they swear it's the best kind of taco they've ever eaten. Juicy, perfectly-seasoned chicken is easily obtainable right in the slow cooker for use in chicken tacos that pretty much edge out all other chicken tacos.

This recipe could not be more simple. Throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning, shred the chicken once cooked, prep your taco toppings and you've got one fabulous meal. Serving the chicken in soft tortillas is how my kids like this, but the chicken can be used in taco salads, quesadillas or even enchiladas.

NOTE:  I, typically, utilize chicken breasts {my kids' preference}, but 8 - 10 thighs work great, too.

Serves 4 - 6.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Check Out Nakee' Natural

While I usually blog on JD mostly about food, crafts, parties and home projects, I am, personally, super excited to be joining up with NaKee' Natural (a hand-crafted soap and skincare company) as one of their new guest bloggers and reviewers for their beautiful, spa-quality products.

The company's creator, owner and "Artistic Alchemist," Candy, has been a family friend for about three decades.  At one point, she was my youth group leader at the church our families attended when I was younger.  I hold some special memories of her family in my heart and have the utmost respect for her as an individual and a business woman.

I have used Candy's products in the past.  But, today I received a lovely grouping of products that I will be using, then reviewing on NaKee' Natural's blog in the future.  Before even opening the shipping package, I could smell the scents of the skincare goodies inside!  (I just know my mail carrier had to have enjoyed transporting this package on her morning route today!)

I just had to share a photo of what awaited me inside the package and I wanted to fill you in on just what I will be (blissfully) reviewing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

No-Bake M&M Granola Bars

It has felt like fall a little here in Michigan these past few days.  With lots of rainy drizzle and temps twenty-plus degrees cooler than normal, the air conditioners got unplugged and the kids' footie pajamas came out last night!  I am not complaining one bit ... I could live with fall weather year-round (minus maybe one day of snow for Christmas' sake). 
With our weekly grocery shopping trip still a day away, the kids were whining mentioning that they were low on snacks to nibble on. So, I decided to make these No Bake M&M Granola Bars. They didn't disappoint!

These were a breeze to put together. My children loved all the yummy add-in ingredients! Seriously, how can you go wrong with M&M's, chocolate, pretzels and marshmallows all combined into a chewy granola bar? And, you don't even have to heat up the oven! Bonus!

I will tell you that although these are perfectly wonderful to eat the same day, we found that they were more "set" the next day. They were just so soft the very first day we made them that they kind of fell apart as we ate them.  I think they kind of needed a day to "dry out" and not be so sticky and soft.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Tim McGraw's Chicken and Dumplings

Those close to me know me as a pretty huge Tim McGraw fanatic. I have followed Tim and his career faithfully for a couple of decades now. While working in a music office in Nashville, Tennessee at age nineteen, one of Tim's first hits - "Don't Take The Girl" - hit country radio. I would call in almost everyday to the radio station to request this particular song be played. Then, I'd sit there at my desk balling like a baby because the lyrics were just so touching and because I just adored his voice. {Truth be told, he isn't too bad on the eyes either.} Thus began my love affair with Mr. McGraw.

Throughout the years, my husband has lovingly endured my obsession with collecting Tim memorabilia, listening to just-released albums incessantly and hunting down the perfect concert tickets online.

Following his career lead me to watch he and Faith years ago on an Oprah show appearance. They prepared this recipe. The story goes that Tim made this for Faith in the early stages of dating.

I can't tell you how many times I've made this over the years since. It has definitely become a family favorite.

From my photos, it is obvious that the dumplings in this recipe are not your typical fluffy variety. They are rolled out and cut into squares. They have just three simple ingredients - flour, shortening and buttermilk. They remind me a bit of my homemade egg noodles, but these are made into larger squares instead of skinny noodles. This really is a simple, unpretentious recipe. But, it does require a bit of time {mostly hands-off} since the recipe calls for making the broth from scratch.

It's a recipe, however, totally worth making. It is one that is quite economical and one that epitomizes the meaning of comfort food.

Serves 4 - 6.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Back-To-School Countdown Chain

We do this most years during the month of December as a countdown to Christmas.  Right after Thanksgiving, we spend an afternoon cutting paper and making a chain consisting of twenty-five links.  At the beginning of December,we hang it up and each night my children take turns cutting off a link.  It's always given the younger ones who don't quite understand the concept of time a visual way to count down the days until their favorite holiday!

So, since my daughter is entering kindergarten this year, there is huge excitement in the house this summer.  Almost daily, she asks how many days are left until she starts school.  Today I decided to use the same concept of the Christmas chain, but as a countdown to the first day of school.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Monkey Bread

We've been making monkey bread for years.  We roll small balls of dough in butter, cinnamon and sugar, then bake in a bundt pan and pull it apart as we eat it while it's still warm.  Yum!  My family adores it.  I often prepare it ahead of time (the night before) on Christmas Eve so we can pop it into the oven to bake as we're opening presents early Christmas morning.

Make Uncrustables At Home!

Photo property of www.uncrustables.comIf your children are anything like my children, they love Smucker's Uncrustables.  They taste yummy and are mega convenient.  I don't buy them often for a couple of reasons.  One is the price.  They are very expensive when you consider how many actually come in a package versus how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you can make at home for that same price.  Two, the ingredient list is extremely long and there appears to be many items on that list that don't jive with my goal of sending my kids to school with the most healthful lunch items as I can!  Of course, if I am being perfectly honest here, I think they taste great.  And, I am not even a huge peanut butter and jelly sandwich lover.  But, I know several adults who love them, too!  Yeah ... I am not alone!  So, I was super excited when I found a product on the market that allows me to make these puppies at home.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Berry Swirl Ice Pops

At any given time, our freezer contains several different varieties of popsicles, push-ups, ice cream and other frozen novelties.  My kids are huge popsicle and ice cream lovers (what kid isn't?).  Some of the frozen treats in our ice box are homemade and some are store-bought.  Throughout the years, we've collected several types of popsicle molds.  The kids have their favorite ones, but it really never matters what type of appearance the popsicles have.  So long as some exist in our freezer, they are happy! 

Due to the addition of large amounts of sugar, artificial dyes and other not-so-healthful ingredients in many store-bought popsicles, I've turned to making batches at home more often than I used to.  This allows me to control the ingredients a little better and it gives me the opportunity to slip in some real fruit. 

I adapted this recipe from a Martha Stewart recipe that she calls "Firecracker Ice Pops." She presents the recipe as one to make in celebration of the Independence Day holiday. 

I contended that my kids wouldn't care what holiday it was or wasn't.  These babies would - I was certain - be a hit anytime of the year in my house!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Rise and Shine Breakfast Casserole

I think everyone has breakfast for dinner every once in a while.  It's not unusual for us to have french toast with bacon or loaded omelets every few weeks for dinner.  We are breakfast food lovers in our house, but with my husband leaving so very early every morning for work, it isn't often that we sit and enjoy a big, home-cooked breakfast during normal breakfast hours.  So, we sneak it into our dinner rotation every now and then.

So, it's funny that this recipe is called "Rise and Shine Breakfast Casserole" since we don't usually have it during the part of the day when we're rising! 

I've been making a version of this recipe for years.  I've always called it by the recipe title above.  Mine has usually had some kind of a crust or soaked bread in it, however.  So, when I came across a very similar recipe without bread or a crust posted by Ashley on her blog, Center Cut Cook, I decided to try her version.  And, wouldn't ya know it ... I liked it much better!  She calls her version "Amish Breakfast Casserole."  (She posted that she adapted the recipe from All Recipes.)

I don't always put potatoes in mine.  When I do, they are chunky bites of spuds.  In Center Cut Cook's recipe, shredded potatoes are a key component and I really liked it this way!  She, also, used cottage cheese in her recipe, which is something I had never tried!

She does mention that this recipe can be changed up using different types of meats or veggies ... ham would be delicious in this!  Spinach or various kinds or colors of peppers would be tasty, too! Whatever you like!