Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Recap - What A Year!


I pray that you all have had a wonderful and beautiful Christmas.  It's hard to believe that we are rounding the corner into a new year.  My, how time certainly does seem to pass so quickly.

Joyously Domestic is now one year and six months old this month.  It is so hard to believe that so much time has passed since I published my very first post.  Blogging has been a joy and a dream job me.  I'm so thrilled that so many of you have been a part of this journey with me.  I am so incredibly grateful and humbled that you follow along with my posts, read my stories, make some of my recipes, provide me with your feedback, share my content and encourage me in so many ways.  Thank you to YOU!

I was just reading through my blog post from last December that recapped 2012 here on Joyously Domestic.  Here we are twelve months later and the very same recipe that was number one last year is still holding strong as our most-popular post - my Roasted Ranch Potatoes with Bacon and Cheese.  A couple of recipes have knocked it to number two throughout the year, but usually only for a day or two.  What is with you people when it comes to bacon, cheese and taters?  I joke.  It's a fabulous recipe.  I find it all over numerous recipe-sharing sites, Pinterest and Facebook.  My heart is so happy that so many people have enjoyed it.  It has now been viewed almost 800,000 times here.  Holy smokes!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Top Thirteen Blog Posts in 2013 on Joyously Domestic

What a fun year it has been here on the blog!  I posted almost one hundred new recipes along with some party, DIY, craft and homemade gift posts.  I thought it'd be cool to take a look back through our thirteen most-popular recipe posts during the year.  I'll soon be posting a 2013 recap that will include some other topics related to Joyously Domestic during the past year.  For now, however, I wanted to share with you the opportunity to take a look back at the posts that were visited the most.

P.S.  You all have great taste ... these all are some of my personal favorites, as well!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chocolate-Dipped Festive Fudge Pops (The Tale of An Accidental Fun Dessert)


This is a little story about a recipe in the kitchen going from failure to fabulous.  We've all had those "flops" when we're baking or cooking - the ones that sometimes bring tears to our eyes (and bruises to our culinary egos).  Those moments when we realize that we're staring at a disaster-of-a-result sitting on the counter.  We're sure that the garbage is the destination for our failure, but we rack our brains on how to salvage this mess-of-a-recipe that we've created.

Is it too burnt?  What if I scrape off the bad part(s)?  Can I transform this into something else? 

Well, my dear mother, Dawn, had a new recipe to try for chocolate fudge.  It was on one of those recipe cards that you sometimes see on display at the grocery store.  Now know that my mother is a fabulous cook and baker - and a stickler for following recipes precisely.  She made the fudge recipe, but it never quite set up correctly.  The flavor was outstanding, however.  But, once "set," it was still a bit too um, gooey.  She had been in the midst of a baking frenzy - preparing a huge holiday platter of goodies to take to her company Christmas party.  She refused to use this fudge for her platter since its appearance was well, less-than-stellar. 

She was ready to pitch the fudge into the trash.  But, who just happened to stop by?  Yours truly.

I tasted it.  Loved it.  Stole it.

That fudge and I had a date with destiny.  I knew exactly what to do with it.

Thus, these Chocolate Fudge Pops were born.  Now, I was concerned that another fudge recipe wouldn't work like this one did for making fudge pops.  So, I whipped up a batch of a tried-and-true chocolate fudge recipe that I've used (it is from Nestle and can be found HERE.)

You can add in nuts or omit them.  Dried fruit can be added in, too.  (My mother's fudge had dried cherries in it.)  You could make it studded with crushed candy canes for the holidays as I did for the second batch I tried this method with.  These fudge pops would probably work fabulously with peanut butter, eggnog or vanilla fudge, as well.

The number of servings will depend on the fudge recipe you use and the size you make the balls.  Mine yielded around 20 fudge pops.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Individual Party Cheese Balls


It's such a busy time of the year for us all, isn't it?  And, in the midst of the Christmas shopping, decorating, baking and planning, most of us are racking our brains for recipe ideas for all of those holiday parties we are hosting or attending.

Here's a great appetizer recipe ... one that I plan on making for New Year's Eve and maybe a couple of other Christmas parties we are attending.

The idea is that each guest can take an individual cheese ball along with some crackers.  It allows everyone to have their very own to use on their own plate and it, also, allows people to take those with ingredients they prefer.

What I love about this idea is that there are so many flavor combination options ... especially when it comes to the coatings on these little, adorable orbs.  I've chosen fresh dill, parsley, crushed red pepper flakes and sesame seeds for these.  But, you could use chopped nuts, other herb combinations, shredded cheese or even chopped dried fruit.  (I did try chopped dried cranberries and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Note that they make the cheese balls a lot larger than ones coated in herbs or sesame seeds, for example, so the sizes were not quite the same.)

If you already have a cream-cheese based cheese ball recipe that you love, you can simply use that as your base.  Then, just roll the balls into whatever coatings you like.  You could, also, add in some horseradish, pimentos, dried chipped beef, cooked bacon, cayenne or other ingredients. 

I placed a cute party pick in each cheese ball for easier service.  I, also, find that they make a convenient "spreader" for guests to spread their cheese onto their crackers.

Yields 20 - 24 mini cheese balls.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Old-School" Creamed Chipped Beef

Let's face it. This is about as old school as it gets. Creamed Chipped Beef over Toast. You know it. And, you either love it or hate it. {I happen to love it.} It's about as simple as it gets, too, with regards to preparation. The ingredient list is a very basic one and it takes like, maybe fifteen minutes from start to finish. If you recall this fondly from your childhood, you know just how comforting and awesome it can be.
 
 
Even growing up in a pretty conservative, religious home, I still recall this recipe being {affectionately} referred to as "S**t on A Shingle." I'm always surprised that so many people have never heard of this.  This was a common meal in our household ... probably because it was so inexpensive to make. But, I absolutely loved it. Still to this day, it takes me back to my childhood and those comforts of home when I make this.  It's not particularly healthy, but it is super delicious.

The gravy can be served over toast or mashed potatoes.

Serves 4 - 6.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Candy Cane Crunch Peppermint Puppy Chow

 
Holy moly, friends, this stuff is totally addicting and oh, so yummy!  I've made traditional Peanut Butter and Chocolate Puppy Chow for years.  And, I made (and admittedly devoured) Cake Batter Puppy Chow for the holidays last year.  But, this version just screams Christmas to me!  I am a peppermint junkie, so this is right up my alley.


I use melted white chocolate chips that I flavor with peppermint oil for this recipe, but I am wondering about simply using the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips that I've seen recently in stores for my next batch.  Alternately, if you're not a fan of white chocolate (or, you're an even bigger fan of regular chocolate), these would be great with milk or semi-sweet chocolate flavored with peppermint oil.  The mix just wouldn't be totally white, however, and would more-resemble traditional puppy chow in appearance.

This would be so fun to package up for coworkers, neighbors or teachers.  But, I'm not quite sure that your batch will last long enough to give away!  I know mine sure didn't!

Holiday Hot Cocoa Kits with Homemade Stir Spoons (Includes FREE Printable Labels)

 
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Well, here in Michigan it is (we just got a good amount of snow fall this weekend).  I hope that wherever you are, you are feeling and enjoying the holiday spirit with the ones you love and cherish.

I am so excited to share this idea with you.  We made a bunch of these up this year for the kids to give to their teachers, their bus driver and a few of their special friends at school.  They are just a fun, little gift that will warm the hearts (and bellies) of the recipient.  I love that they are pretty inexpensive to make and super easy to throw together. 


You can print for free the round red and green labels that I used if you'd like to use them for your own hot cocoa gifts.  All you need to do is right-click the image and save it to your computer.  Then, print and cut.  I find that using cardstock paper works best.  (If you didn't want to create the full top fold-over labels as I did, you could use some cute ribbon or raffia to simply tie off the bags ... and maybe attach a little gift tag to the ribbon.  The ones below can be used with ribbon, too.  Simply use a paper punch to cut a hole in the label.)
You can click HERE for more of my FREE holiday printable labels and gift tags.  They're great for presents or homemade goodies.

NOTE:  Both the large and small party favor bags needed for this project can usually be found in the cake decorating section at stores like, Wal-Mart and Target or at any craft store.  They cost around $1 - $2 for each package.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Festive Holiday Buckeyes

 
Most of us know and love this holiday classic.  I spruced things up a bit by adding on some holiday-colored sprinkles and decorating sugar.  Not only does adding edible "bling" to these buckeyes give them a much-need pop of color, it, also, helps to cover up the hole left behind on the top of the buckeye by the toothpick used for dipping.


And, I love the variety of mini cupcake/candy papers that can be found these days.  They really jazz things up and I know these will add a touch of festive flair to my Christmas platters this year!

Yields about 6 dozen buckeyes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

FREE Printable Christmas Gift Tags


Happy Holidays to all of my friends here at Joyously Domestic!  I've created some FREE printable gift tags for you to use and enjoy this Christmas season.  They can simply be attached to wrapped gifts and packages, but are, also, so adorable hung with string or ribbon from homemade treat containers or mason jars filled with goodies.  Print and use as many as you'd like.

Just right-click the image(s) you'd like to use.  Save to your computer and print.  They are created in high-resolution jpeg format.  Just be sure to print as a full-page.  For personal use only.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Thirty-Minute Cheesy Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup

 
I stumbled upon a recipe on Yammie's Noshery for a copycat version of Panera Bread's cheesy broccoli soup.  Their soup has always been my favorite there, so I was overly thrilled to try an at-home version.  However, I wanted to incorporate some cauliflower into the soup, so I thought what the heck ... let's do this!  I replaced half of the broccoli called for in the recipe with cauliflower - simple as that.  Go ahead and use all broccoli here, friends, if you'd like.  After all, it is your soup!

The recipe did call for half-and-half, but since I didn't have any, I used whole milk.  It worked perfectly and saved me a few calories.  (Who am I kidding?  This soup has butter, whole milk and lots of cheese ... I wasn't really thinking about calories!)

I had my littlest one, Ayvah, home sick from school today.  She was so sad to be missing first grade gym class today, but her poor little tummy had been yucky for a couple of days.  She and I spent the morning curled up watching Christmas cartoons.  When she was up and feeling a little better this afternoon, she wanted to get out her coloring books.  So, I got busy in the kitchen whipping up a batch of this soup and getting some bread rising for bread bowls.  Since dinner was still a couple of hours away, I transferred the prepared soup to my slow cooker and kept it on the warm setting.  I was so proud of myself - it was only three o'clock and I had dinner done, blog photos of the soup taken and everything cleaned up!  Score one for mom.

What I love most about this soup is that it, literally, takes all of thirty minutes from start-to-finish to make.  I was blown away at how easy and quick this recipe is ... and, yes, it did not disappoint.  Sometimes something that claims to be a copycat recipe really doesn't turn out to taste much like the dish it's supposed to be copying.  This one tasted just like Panera Bread's broccoli soup (just with a little cauliflower thrown in).  The only thing I will do differently next time (and there WILL be a next time) is make a double batch!

P.S.  This is gluten-free, so share the recipe with your friends who cannot have gluten!

Yields 4 servings.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Changes to Facebook Business Pages and Ways to Connect with Joyously Domestic

I am saddened by the recent changes being made on Facebook and how it is affecting Joyously Domestic (and many other small business pages).  I have been blogging for a year and a half.  I've worked hard to build up a "fan base" on Facebook.  During the summer and early fall of this year, I was thrilled with a large increase of followers at a rather quick pace.  Thousands of followers were seeing my posts daily in their newsfeeds.  Within the past week or two, however, the growth has come to a sudden stand-still and my audience reach is almost non-existent.

I am close to 5,000 followers at this point on Facebook.  As a FB page owner, I am offered the ability to see my page statistics.  When I post something on JD's page these days, only 100 - 200 of my followers are even seeing the post in their newsfeeds.  It is so incredibly frustrating and disheartening.  Just last week, over 4,000 people were interacting with my page.  This week, that number has dropped to around 400!

Facebook is now coming out publicly and admitting that they are restricting business pages from reaching their fan base unless page owners start paying to advertise and promote their posts.  (Check out this article HERE.)  I simply cannot afford the prices they want to charge and refuse to sacrifice income from my family to pay Facebook.  It's my opinion that if someone chooses to follow Joyously Domestic's Facebook page and any other page, it means that they want to see content from that page in their newsfeed.  When I follow a page it is because I like what I've seen on their page and want to continue to be notified in my newsfeed when they offer up new content.  Instead, so many of us are seeing all of these "Sponsored (a.k.a. paid) Posts" in our feeds - posts that are for pages that we have never chosen to follow.

Many posts have been flying around FB regarding "solutions" to the issue of not seeing posts in your newsfeed.  We are encouraged to "like" posts and comment more.  We are encouraged to click the "share" button more.  We are encouraged to start an "interest list" on FB and include the pages we want to see daily.  From what I can tell and from my own experience, not even doing these things will help much. (Please know, though, that I do love, love, love when you "like," share and comment!)

The bottom line is that unless a page owner is willing to pay big bucks to advertise and promote their page and posts, you most-likely won't see a lot or any of their posts in your feed from this point forward.

So, even though I will continue to post on Facebook and update my page daily, I wanted to remind you all that there are several other ways for you to stay connected to Joyously Domestic and for you to be notified when new posts are up on the blog. 


First, if you are on Facebook often and want to continue to be updated about new blog posts and info, stop by my actual page every now and then.  You'll be able to see everything I have been posting that way.

Here are some other ways to receive updates on new recipes and posts:

  • Follow along with Joyously Domestic on Pinterest.
  • Become a follower on Google+ (it's under my name, Angela Steveson).
  • Sign up to receive email updates right in your own inbox.  (You can find the sign-up box in the sidebar to the right here on the blog.)
  • Become a follower on Twitter.

I, also, am looking into starting a weekly newsletter that you can sign up for (free, of course).  But, for now, I just wanted to tell you that I am missing you and hope that some of these options will work for you so that we can continue to stay connected.

~ Angela


Peanut Butter & Chocolate Puppy Chow


A true family favorite.  This was one of the treats I looked forward to at the holidays during my childhood.  The combination of peanut butter and chocolate simply cannot be beat.  And, that powdered sugared coating ... it's what life is all about.  (Okay, well maybe not what it's all about.  Love, happiness, health and family kind of rank up there, too, but you get the point.)

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A $100 Gift Card Giveway from Private Selection™

UPDATE 12/30/13:  The giveaway contest is closed.  However, you can visit the recipe for the Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls HERE and the recipe for the Oven-Baked Fries with Roasted Garlic & Herb Butter HERE. 
 
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If you are familiar with the Kroger family of stores, you are probably familiar with their line of Private Selection™ products.  I was recently provided the opportunity to develop a couple of recipes using their finishing butters.  They offer six flavors:  Cinnamon Brown Sugar, Honey, Caramel Sea Salt, Roasted Garlic & Herbs, Lemon, Garlic & Herb and Lemon Pepper.
 
It has been so fun creating and testing some recipes using these products.  Although I did come up with a couple of delicious recipes in which to use their finishing butters, the savory butters can simply be used be on pasta, melted over any meat/fish or used atop grilled veggies.  The sweet butters are amazing spread on fresh baked goods or used to top French toast.  
 
 
I'd love for you to check out the two recipes I developed using two of the Private Selection™ Finishing Butters.  I used one of the savory butters in my Oven-Baked Fries with Garlic & Herb Butter and one of the sweet butters in my Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls.
 
 

Oven-Baked Fries with Roasted Garlic & Herb Butter


When I was first approached about creating some recipes using the line of Private Selection™ Finishing Butters, I immediately thought of my oven fries.  They have always been a top favorite in our household and I had a strong feeling that the Roasted Garlic & Herbs Finishing Butter would be magnificent with these fries. 
 
There are six flavors - three sweet and three savory - in the Private Selection™ Finishing Butters line. 

.................................................................................................................................................................
 
I AM CURRENTLY HOSTING A GIVEAWAY CONTEST COURTESY OF PRIVATE SELECTION.  ENTER HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A PRIVATE SELECTION KIT FILLED WITH A COLLECTION OF ARTISANAL-INSPIRED INGREDIENTS ALONG WITH A $100 GIFT CARD - ALL SHIPPED RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR!  CONTEST ENDS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2013 at 11:59 P.M. EST.

UPDATE 12/9/13:  GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!
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These fries have the perfect combination of crisp exterior and fluffy interior.  People who try them are amazed at just how fabulous they are without any frying.  The trick is in the technique that I use to bake them.  (Covering the baking pan tightly with foil during the beginning stage of baking is the key!)  Once you start making fries this way, I doubt that you'll ever switch back to any other way.


The Private Selection™ Roasted Garlic & Herbs Finishing Butter worked so incredibly well with this recipe.  I loved the ease of using the finishing butter.  All of the flavor components were all right in the butter, so not much else was needed in terms of ingredients to take basic baked fries from mundane to magical!

Click HERE for digital coupons (loadable to your Kroger family of stores shopper's card) for savings on these and other Private Selection™ products. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls


These Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls come together pretty quickly and easily using two time-saver products from the grocery store.  I utilize frozen bread dough for this recipe along with one of the sweet finishing butter from Private Selection™.   This is such a simple recipe.  I added in some dried cranberries and dried cherries, but you could omit if you'd like.


If you are familiar with the Kroger family of stores, you are probably familiar with their line of Private Selection™ products.  Since I buy many of the Private Selection™ products on a regular basis, I was excited to learn about their new line of finishing butters.  They offer six flavors:
 
Cinnamon Brown Sugar
Honey
Caramel Sea Salt
Roasted Garlic & Herbs
Lemon, Garlic & Herb
Lemon Pepper
 
 
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Private Selection™ line of finishing butters.  It has been so fun creating and testing some recipes using their products.  Although I did come up with a couple of delicious recipes in which to use their finishing butters, the savory butters can simply be used be on pasta, melted over any meat/fish or used atop grilled veggies.  The sweet butters are amazing spread on fresh baked goods or used to top French toast.
 
Visit the Private Selection website to load valuable digital coupons (including one for any of the Private Selection™ Finishing Butters) onto your Kroger family of stores shopper's card.  (See list of stores included at the bottom of this post.)
 
For this recipe, I used their Cinnamon Brown Sugar Finishing Butter in both the filling of the rolls and in the icing.  It worked like a charm!  I had never made cinnamon rolls with cream cheese before.  The combination of the tanginess from the cream cheese combined with the sweet, cinnamon-y finishing butter was perfect! 
 
.................................................................................................................................................................
 
I AM CURRENTLY HOSTING A GIVEAWAY CONTEST COURTESY OF PRIVATE SELECTION.  ENTER HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A PRIVATE SELECTION KIT FILLED WITH A COLLECTION OF ARTISANAL-INSPIRED INGREDIENTS ALONG WITH A $100 GIFT CARD - ALL SHIPPED RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR!  CONTEST ENDS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2013 at 11:59 P.M. EST.

UPDATE 12/9/13:  GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!

.................................................................................................................................................................
 
Yields 8 rolls.

Ultimate Layered Banana Cake (Freeze-Ahead Style)


The wonderful thing about this cake is that it is meant to be baked in advance and frozen until a day or two before you plan to serve it.  It is perfect to have on hand in the freezer because all you need to do prior to serving is to let it thaw a bit, then frost it.  You really do not want to skip the freezing step in this recipe.  Freezing the cake is what gives it its moistness and doing so is part of the recipe instructions.  You'll want to plan to have it in the freezer for, at least, a couple of days prior to thawing and frosting it, but the cake can be frozen for up to three months.

Yields 10 - 12 servings.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Classic Scalloped Potatoes


Can we all agree that few things top creamy, perfectly-baked scalloped potatoes?  Scalloped potatoes are truly one of my favorite comfort foods and I'm always sure to make plenty because I adore the leftovers.  I have many recipes for scalloped potatoes.  Some include ham.  Some include some sort of a cream-based condensed soup.  Some have a good amount of cheese and some are intended for the slow cooker.  However, this classic, simple version is probably my personal favorite.

This is a take on a Martha Stewart recipe.  I've been making this recipe for a couple of years now.  It couldn't be easier or more-delicious!  The ingredient list is a simple one and I like they I can make these a few hours in advance, then bake them when I'm ready.  (Just be sure that all of your potatoes are submerged in the cream mixture and that the dish is tightly covered with foil so that your potatoes don't discolor.)  You could, of course, add in some ham to make this a more-complete meal, but this is one side dish as-is that cannot be beat.

Yields 6 - 8 servings as a side dish.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why I Am Thankful to Be A Blogger

 
I encourage my children each November to create some form of a "thankfulness" craft project.  It might be a table centerpiece tree that they clip paper leaves onto - each one inscribed with something they are thankful for that year.  Last year, it was a paper turkey project that encouraged them to add a "thankfulness feather" each day during the month leading up to Thanksgiving.  So many young people seem to have an all about me mindset these days.  What they have often doesn't seem to be enough.  For me, I have had a saying for many years that I use when my children are whining about not getting a certain toy they desire or when they overly complain about something they dislike in their lives.  I utter the phrase Attitude of Gratitude to them on a regular basis.  Reminding them of all of the things that we DO have to be grateful for is important to me.

Today I am embracing that same concept and want to share with you from my heart just what blogging here on Joyously Domestic means to me.  I'd like to share a little of my backstory about joining the blogging world.  And, more importantly, I'd like my readers to know just how grateful I am to them for joining me on this amazing journey that I started a year and a half ago.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun Party Appetizers, Snacks & Dips from Joyously Domestic


Whether it's a holiday gathering, game day or card night, it's always nice to have some grub to munch on ... and share with friends and family.  Here's a collection of some tantalizing snack foods that are sure to please a crowd.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Slow Cooker Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs in Marinara

It's official. I am in love with cheese-stuffed meatballs prepared in the slow cooker. They cook up so incredibly mouth-watering juicy and tender. And, they are oozing with cheese and packed full of flavor.
 
 
There are a lot of options when it comes to this recipe with regards to both how it is served and how it is prepped. The recipe, first of all, calls for both ground pork and ground beef, but you can simply choose all beef. Or, you can even go a healthier route by using ground turkey or chicken (although using turkey or chicken may result in a somewhat drier meatball due to the lack of fat content). Regarding service of the meatballs, you can devour them as-is, use them for meatball subs, serve them as appetizers (just make them smaller and use smaller chunks of cheese inside) or serve over pasta with extra sauce.

As far as some prep options, you can assemble just prior to browning the meatballs and cooking in the slow cooker (as the recipe is written). Or, the meatballs can be assembled the night before you plan to cook them. Just place them in the fridge in an airtight container and brown them up just before tossing into the slow cooker. However, meatballs are a great freeze-ahead item.  I often assemble meatballs, place them on a baking tray, freeze until solid and toss them into a zip-top freezer bag. Just thaw them a bit prior to using.

I do find that I prefer any homemade meatballs to be chilled in the fridge a bit (prior to cooking) even if I'm assembling them the same day as cooking. It firms up the meatballs so that they hold together well when browning. And, it allows time for the flavors to meld.

See .. I told you I would give ya lots of options. Now go run and make these meatballs (or, at least, get these ingredients jotted down onto your shopping list). You won't regret it.

Yields 14 - 16 large meatballs.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken

 
 
My kids went wild for this chicken!  It came out of the oven incredibly moist, juicy and super flavorful.

The ingredient list is a short and simple one - just the way I like it.  And, the prep time is quick and easy.  This is a great go-to chicken recipe for busy weeknights and is perfect with mashed potatoes and a simple side salad.

Yields 4 servings.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mexican Party Dip


I have made this dip for years for family gatherings and parties.  Often, I will make it on a circle serving platter and lay out the toppings in a "bull's-eye" pattern.  It is always a huge hit with any crowd.

If you're making this more than an hour or two in advance, I would recommend waiting to add the tomatoes until shortly before serving so that they do not add too much moisture to the top of the dip.

It does take a little extra time and patience to arrange the toppings in rows as compared to just piling the toppings on.  But, the presentation always wows and it allows people to possibly avoid portions of the dip they may not care for.


Serves 8 - 10.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Busy Mornings" Baked Oatmeal

 
I am not a morning person.

But, I have to be for the sake of getting my three children ready for school every weekday morning.

My day begins around 5:30 a.m. and things are usually pretty hectic until the bus pulls up around seven.  Having breakfast options that are quick and easy makes our mornings go a lot smoother.  These are perfect to have on hand throughout the week for everyone to grab a quick breakfast.  I like that they are full of healthy ingredients and are not overly sweet.

This recipe is pretty versatile.  Omit the nuts.  Mix up the types of dried fruits you use.  Add in whatever seeds you like.  (Just try to stick with the basic ratios provided.)

Serve warm or room-temperature for a grab-on-the-go breakfast or snack.  Or, these can be served hot with milk poured over and a little drizzle of honey in a bowl (and eaten with a spoon).

These keep for up to a week, so they are ideal for busy weekday mornings.

Yields 9 servings.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup. Yay or nay? I am a huge fan. But, I don't make this soup often because I have a couple of children who would rather be forced into a ten hour marathon of household chores than eat a soup with peas as the main ingredient. {My daughter asked if I was actually going to post this on my blog because she was so grossed out by this soup.}
 
 
I adore the simplicity of the ingredients, how inexpensive this soup is to make and I like how wonderful this soup cooks up using the slow cooker. {My loyal readers are aware of my love affair with my slow cooker.}

People do seem to either really love split pea soup or they absolutely despise it. For those who adore it, this recipe is a real winner.

This soup can be made using a chunk of leftover ham, a hambone, ham hocks or salt pork. {It's a great soup to make after you've had a big ham dinner.} If using salt pork that is sliced, use some kitchen string to tie it up so that it doesn't all come apart during cooking.

AUTHOR'S TIP:
You can make the soup as thick, thin, chunky or smooth as you prefer. Simply adjust the stock amount as the soup cooks or towards the end of cooking to suit your preference. And, blend the soup as much as you prefer to suit your preference.


Yields 6 servings.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip with Cinnamon Sugar Dippers

 
So many of us get bombarded with pumpkin recipes this time of year.  They are all over Pinterest, the blogosphere and Facebook.  I've restrained myself and have only shared one pumpkin recipe (thus far) this fall on the blog - my Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Butter Sauce.  But, I have been dying to share my recipe for this pumpkin dip with you.


In my household, we prefer serving this dip with what we call Cinnamon Sugar Dippers.  These little cinnamon and sugar tortilla wedges are divine all on their own, but they are out of this world when plunged into this creamy, perfectly-spiced pumpkin dip!

My friends at Kroger graciously sent me a bunch of Kroger Greek products to try recently.  I was invited to develop some recipes using their products.  I was able to incorporate two of their Kroger Greek products into this recipe - their cream cheese and plain yogurt.  The results were great ... both products worked perfectly in this fall-inspired dip.  They added the perfect amount of tanginess and creaminess to the dip.  And, I love that the products contain lots of protein.  The cream cheese is, also, lower in fat than traditional cream cheese.  (But, I promise that you'll never notice the difference!)

NOTE: This recipe can easily be made with traditional plain yogurt and cream cheese, if desired.

This dip is full of the fall flavors that we all love and crave this time of year.  It's super simple ... and is perfect for parties and gatherings because it can be made in advance.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Collection of Soups, Stews & Chowders from Joyously Domestic


It's that time of year.  As the chilly weather is setting in for many of us across the country, nothing warms our bellies and souls more than curling up with a big bowl of soup.  I've rounded up some of Joyously Domestic most-popular recipes for soups, stews and chowders - all right here in one post.  There's sure to be something here for everyone ... from creamy, thick chowders to healthful, broth-based soups.  Some are written for the slow cooker and others come together on the stove top.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Classic Peanut Butter & Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

 
You know 'em.  You love 'em. 

They are a super quick, well-loved treat - a staple of so many of our childhoods.

What's not too love here?  Chocolate, butter and peanut butter collide in this recipe.  You'll literally be in and out of the kitchen in like, ten or fifteen minutes making these.  And, your family will love the results.

This is my mother's recipe.  In my family, we prefer old-fashioned oats in this recipe.  They add a chewier texture.  But, regular quick-cooking oats work fine, too.

Isn't it time you whipped up a batch of these today?  You'll be so happy that you did!

Yields 24 - 28 cookies.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pimento Cheese & Bacon Wonton Appetizers - Two Ways

 
First of all, I'd like to give a shout out to Lori, a blogger friend and fellow Michigander over at Foxes Love Lemons, for always encouraging my wonton wrapper obsession.  Specifically, she's cheered on my love for forming them into little cups and filling them with all kinds of lovely ingredients.

Just when I think that my readers must be getting sick of me posting wonton cup recipes, there Lori is - cheering me on from the sidelines!  (She may have even once referred to me on her blog as the "wonton cup queen" within her Veggie Pizza and Buffalo Chicken Salad Wonton Cup Appetizers post.)

My friends at Kroger graciously sent me a slew of Kroger Greek products to try recently.  I was invited to develop some recipes using their products and share the results with you, my readers.  I was immediately drawn to their Greek Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt product since I am a huge cream cheese lover and I've always enjoyed Greek-style yogurt.  The product comes packaged in an eight-ounce block portion and looks just like traditional cream cheese.  It was perfect for use as the base for my pimento cheese recipe and I love that it has two times the amount of protein as regular cream cheese (and half of the fat).  This is an product that will work wonderfully in many of my recipes that require cream cheese as one of the ingredients.


These appetizers can be prepared cold or hot.  To serve cold, simple bake off the wonton cups, add in the filling ingredients and serve as-is.  To serve hot, the baked wonton cups can be filled with the pimento cheese and bacon, then thrown back into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese filling is hot and bubbly.

Making homemade pimento cheese is a breeze, is inexpensive to prepare and never disappoints - especially as party fare.  Whip up a batch and serve it tucked inside of adorable, little wonton cups.  Your party guests will love them and you'll be well on your way to becoming a "wonton cup queen" in your own right!

Recipe yields 12 wonton cup appetizers. 

A Collection of Chicken Recipes from Joyously Domestic


Chicken is a staple ingredient in so many of our kitchens.  Yet, so many of us are daunted and overwhelmed by the task of finding new ways to incorporate chicken into our weekly or monthly dinner rotations.

You'll find lots of creative and scrumptious recipes that utilize chicken here on Joyously Domestic.  I invite you to browse through some of our most-popular chicken recipes and try a few out for yourself.  I'm sure you'll find something that you and your loved ones will fall in love with.  From main dishes to soups to dips and appetizers ... there's lots to choose from.  Some are intended for the slow cooker, too, so those recipes are perfect for your busy weeknights.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

DIY Spooktacular Halloween Scene


This was a fun family project for us a few years back.  We spent a few evenings in a row working on this together as a family and have been enjoying the final result for several years each Halloween season.  Your scene can be used as a table centerpiece or set out anywhere around the house along with your usual Halloween decorations.

The sky really is the limit here on what you can choose to include or use for your project. We did a cemetery scene.

We did buy a few craft items for this project, but many of the supplies used were things we had already at home.  Here's an overview of what we used and how we created this spooktacular scene.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Butter Sauce


It's fall, y'all.  Isn't it mandatory that we all make hoards of dishes using apples and pumpkin?  I've got a recipe to share that combines the two. My Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Butter Sauce will be right at home on your kitchen table on a crisp, fall day ... and can be served either as a dessert or a brunch dish.


You get to decide if you'd like to serve it warm or cold ... many have preferences on this usually based on how it was served to them growing up.  For me, I enjoy and prefer it warm when it is first baked, but relish it cold the next day after the leftovers have been stored in the fridge overnight, as well.


Regarding the bread called for in bread pudding, one can simply purchase a nice loaf of crusty bread to cut up into cubes once it is a bit stale.  I actually save up leftover, day-old bread on a weekly basis and toss pieces into the freezer in a large zip-top bag to use in bread puddings and dressing (a.k.a. "stuffing") down the road.  Sometimes I might even save a couple of leftover yeast donuts, plain bagels or pieces of cinnamon raisin bread in the freezer, as well.  When I've got a sufficient amount tucked away, there's little that I love more than making bread pudding.

NOTE:  The recipe calls for 3 whole eggs and 2 yolks.  Use the amount called for if you like bread pudding pretty "custardy."  If you like it a little firmer and dryer, use 1 less whole egg.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

 
Sometimes there's just nothing that will satisfy a craving for roasted meat and potatoes like, well ... roasted meat and potatoes.  This dish is full of flavor and is so incredibly simple to make.  Thyme, lemon, onions and a little white wine (chicken stock can be substituted) come together with a basic vinaigrette to beautifully and deliciously season the chicken and potatoes.

Everything cooks in one baking dish.  Your complete meal is ready to go without dirtying a ton of dishes.  We like this with a salad or some steamed green beans.

I like to use two or three large skin-on/bone-in chicken breasts (that I halve) for this.  But, you can cut up a whole chicken or utilize bone-in/skin-on thighs.  (I wouldn't recommend skinless and boneless unless you want dry meat.)

Yields 4 - 6 servings (depending on how many chicken pieces you use)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Salsa Verde White Chicken Tortilla Bake

 
This is a spin on my Salsa Verde White Chicken Enchiladas.  Frankly, this is an easier version since you don't have to roll the tortillas up enchilada-style.  Rather, this is comparable to building a super quick lasagna ... soft tortillas stand in for lasagna noodles while the filling consists of spiced chicken, black beans and corn.  And, everything is layered up with a delicious sour cream-based green salsa sauce and lots of gooey cheese.  A topping of slightly-crushed tortilla chips adds the perfect "crunch" to the dish!  Don't bypass adding the chips ... they really "make" the dish.


I prefer to use my homemade Salsa Verde in the cream sauce of this dish, but a good-quality store-bought green salsa would be just fine.

Serves 6.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Slow Cooker Steak in Golden Mushroom Cream Sauce


My mother has been making cubed steak in cream of mushroom soup gravy in the slow cooker ever since I can remember.  It's pretty much the most-requested "birthday meal" within our family.

For my version, I use two different kinds of mushroom soup and add in some fresh mushrooms.  I've made this with cubed steak, thin slices of eye of round or even thin-cut, boneless pork chops.  I've, also, used this sauce to make meatballs in the slow cooker many times. 

This is the perfect Sunday dinner.  We love serving the meat and gravy over mashed potatoes.  And, a big loaf of homemade bread is a must ... perfect for sopping up the velvety, rich gravy on your plate.

This will serve 4 - 6 people ... depending on how many pieces of steak you use.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

One Pot Tomato & Basil Pasta {A Martha Stewart-Inspired Recipe}

 
One skillet + five minutes of prep time + twenty minutes of cooking = a super quick and easy pasta dinner.

I was amazed at how this dish turned out for being so simple and basic to make.  The only liquid that is added is straight H20, so I was concerned that there wouldn't be much flavor or a good consistency to the "sauce" that is created as this cooks.  But, something amazing happens.  Just the few ingredients that are added bring great flavor to the dish while the starches in the pasta release into the water so that it thickens almost like cream was added.

I came across a Martha Stewart recipe for One Pot Pasta (video of recipe preparation included) that totally intrigued me.  I did alter a couple of things when making it myself, but I pretty much kept with the basic method she used.  Next time, however, I will use a little less crushed red pepper flakes.  Her recipe called for a half of a teaspoon, but I got ambitious and used probably around 2 - 3 teaspoons!  Yikes - it was pretty darn spicy, but still a fabulous dish!

NOTE:  I used a combination of regular spaghetti noodles and whole wheat noodles.  I like the healthful benefits of adding the whole wheat pasta, but it did make the sauce a weird brownish color at the end of cooking.  I would recommend not using a brown-colored pasta if you would like the sauce that is created to stay a creamy, white color.. 

Yields  4 - 6 servings.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls {Galumpkis}

 
I grew up eating cabbage rolls (my step-father's side of the family was Polish), but never liked the cabbage part.  The filling rocked, but I hated cooked cabbage.

My husband, however, adores cabbage rolls - every single part of them.  His mother usually makes a huge batch about once a year and since she lives next door, she calls my hubby over to grab a big plate of them to take home.  Since today is our anniversary, I made some in his honor for our Sunday dinner this past weekend.  (How "romantical," right?)

Cooking the cabbage rolls in the slow cooker keeps them super moist and really allows time for all of the flavors to meld together.  I use the same filling for my stuffed green peppers and those can be done in the slow cooker, too.

You do need to allow a little time to assemble the cabbage rolls, but I often assemble the cabbage rolls the night before, store them in the fridge in an airtight container (without the V8 juice addition) and then start them in the slow cooker in the morning.

Yields 12 - 16 cabbage rolls.