Monday, November 10, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie Mini Muffins

Let me start this post with a disclaimer. These mini muffins are dangerous. Seriously. I have to make myself step away from these, turn off the kitchen lights and practically strap myself to the living room couch to keep from devouring like, the whole batch!

(Don't say I didn't warn ya!)

Let me fill you in on the "backstory" of this recipe. My mother is the Cookie Queen in our family. She is constantly making batches upon batches of various kinds of cookies on a weekly basis. Her freezer is always stocked full of upwards of five varieties at all times. I walk a slippery slope when I visit her as it is beyond difficult to refrain from trying and "retrying" all the different types that she keeps on hand.

However, I have always had a favorite - her Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. And, I'm not alone. I think they're pretty much the most-loved cookie by all my family members on that side - kids and adults alike. (It would not be a lie if I said that some of the adults in my family have even been known to hoard them away from our kids if we bring any home with us.)

My children love, love, love those darn cookies just as much as I do. They, also, adore those little packets of mini muffins from the store - especially the chocolate chip kind. They remind us so much of my mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies (even though the store-bought muffins have no banana in them).

So, I set out to take her recipe for our favorite type of cookie and convert it to make these mini muffins.

Worked like a charm (and then some). The result is a super soft muffin that is loaded with banana flavor and tons of chocolate-y goodness. These aren't your typical dense muffin. They are almost sponge-like ... in a good way!

Holy moly, friends ... get your butts up and make them as soon as humanely possible. (Sorry - was that a little too bossy?)

These are amazing little treats. And, like I said - you'll have to restrain yourself from eating like, twenty of them.

P.S. It wouldn't be a bad thing if you just went ahead and doubled the recipe. They keep in the freezer amazingly well and are perfect to keep there on hand for company.

Yields 48 Mini Muffins

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Autumn-Spiced Roasted Acorn Squash

One of the ingredients during fall that I cherish most is acorn squash. Of course, I relish all things pumpkin and apples during these autumn months. But, I find the simplicity of roasting acorn - or even butternut - squash this time of year to be something quite special.

One of my family's favorite ways to prepare acorn squash is to cut it in half and roast it with a little butter, nutmeg, salt, pepper and maple syrup. My Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash is always a hit and everyone loves grabbing a spoon and diving in to their own personal serving.

But, we, also, love it cut into slivers and roasted with various spice combinations and toppings. For this recipe, pumpkin pie-style spices get sprinkled onto olive oil-coated acorn squash wedges that get roasted to perfection and drizzled with a little real maple syrup. The crunch of a few toasted pumpkin seeds as garnish add a nice textural component.

This would be a beautiful and delicious addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table. The squash gets tender on the inside while taking on a slight char around the outer edges (my favorite part). The spices add a touch of warmth that definitely are reminiscent of the flavors associated with fall. And, the slightly-reduced pure maple syrup contributes just the perfect amount of sweetness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Top Twelve Cooler Weather Recipes

It's that time of year again - the time when most of us around the country are craving food that evokes feelings of warmth, sustenance and comfort. We're embracing life beyond refreshing salads, grilling out and sipping lemonade by the pool. We're seeking out new soup recipes to try, inspiration for incorporating pumpkin into our desserts, heartier breakfasts that'll really "stick to our ribs" and maybe some ideas for dinner that'll require us to get those ovens heated up.

Today I am sharing twelve of my personal favorite fall recipes from here on Joyously Domestic. There's a little something for everyone here - desserts, soups, pasta, slow cooker meals and a real favorite here on JD - Oven-Roasted Chicken and Potatoes.

Just click on the orange-colored title for each recipe and you'll be taken to the corresponding post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

I have a confession. My children sometimes sneak and eat jelly with a spoon straight from those little packets at diners while we wait for our food to arrive. You know the ones I'm talking about - those little jelly and jam packages that are all stacked up in the plastic, black caddies sitting atop the tables at some casual joints. Yes, those. With a spoon. Plain. Into their mouths.

Well, this practice has led to them now loving apple butter since apple butter is often one of the selections in the black table-top caddy. With an abundance of apples on hand recently, I set out to make apple butter at home in my slow cooker.

I used to make apple butter during my teenage years with my grandmother, so I knew the basics. After researching some various recipes online recently, I came up with something that I am now simply in love with. I've made two batches so far and plan to make up a bunch more once it's closer to the holidays for gift-giving to family and friends.

Since this recipe takes around eleven hours of cooking time in the slow cooker, I've found that it's easiest to cook the apples overnight. I get things going before going to bed and before lunchtime the following day, I've got apple butter made.

And, oh, the aromas that will fill your house are just intoxicating. You'll be tempted to grab a spoon and dive into the slow-cooked apples before you even blend them up. (Confessions Number Two:  I did just that.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Spice-Kissed Sweet Potato Crunch

Calling all sweet potato lovers out there ... this is 'da bomb  sweet potato casserole - like, the one that tops all others in my opinion. It has the perfect balance of fall spices, crunch, creaminess and sweetness. And, it doesn't have to be made just on Thanksgiving ... it went great with our Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches recently and I often make it anytime I make a big Sunday ham dinner. (Baked ham and sweet potatoes go hand-and-hand in my book.)

And, now that it's cooling down here in Michigan, it's great to have my kitchen fill up with the scents of fall while this dish is baking ... the cinnamon and nutmeg bring about those aromas of fall for me.  And, that crunch topping is seriously dangerous!

This recipe yields a good amount ... probably enough for 8 - 10 servings as a side dish. So, if you're only wanting enough for a smaller crowd, you could easily cut the recipe in half ... just be sure to use a slightly smaller baking dish.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Sweet Corn, Potato and Sausage Soup with Kale

This is such an inviting, flavorful soup that couldn't be more perfect for these chilly fall days. This soup is hearty and filling. It'll really warm you up from the inside out. And, it's just as good (if not better) reheated, so this would be something super fitting if you're a person who likes to make up a large pot of soup for the week ahead. After all, some days there is nothing more comforting and perfect than being curled up on the couch with a coffee cup of reheated soup in hand, fuzzy slippers on our piggies, blanket-draped shoulders and the remote at our side.

My family found that we thoroughly enjoyed this garnished with some freshly-shaved Parmesan cheese on top. The sharp, salty notes in the cheese paired perfectly with the sweetness brought to the party by the corn.

The browned sausage lends a lot in terms of flavor to this soup, but it could easily omitted if desired. An alternative that I would recommend would be to garnish the soup with a little cooked, crumbled bacon at time of service.

NOTE: Fresh, chopped spinach can be added in place of the kale if desired. Chop either into the size pieces that you prefer. I like the kale roughly chopped, but it can be chopped a little finer if desired.

Yields 6 servings.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork

Hello, lovely readers. I just had to take a break from our home remodel projects that have had me on somewhat of a blogging hiatus as of late to share with you this delectable pulled pork recipe. Seriously. The family is so, so into this rockin' pulled pork sandwich recipe right now. (I'm being asked to make it yet again this weekend.)
I don't typically allow the kids to drink much soda unless we're out to dinner somewhere or it's a special occasion. And, I'm pretty much a strict water and iced tea drinker. I do buy pop, however, off and on for the hubby to take along to work. I had one lone can of root beer hiding in the back of the fridge that he hadn't drank, so I decided to put it to use making pulled pork.

I had recently tried out a new barbeque sauce recipe (recipe at bottom of post) that I've fallen in love with. It is perfect for this recipe. You can simply use your favorite store-bought barbeque sauce (make sure it is a good-quality one), but I so, so encourage you to whip up the homemade version below. It's a dump-everything-into-one-pot kind of recipe and is super easy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

20+ Scrumptious Breakfast Recipes from Joyously Domestic

Whether you're looking for something to feed the kiddos as they're heading out the door on a busy school morning or you're wanting something special for a weekend brunch, this collection of breakfast recipes is sure to bring some pizzazz to your morning meals. From overnight slow cooker oatmeal to an all-in-one breakfast casserole, you're sure to find some breakfast inspiration here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal "Muffins"

Hello. Remember me?

I have been on a hiatus (of sorts) from blogging any new recipes for a couple of months while we're remodeling a house that we just took possession of in July. (Are we close to completion? Thank you for asking. But, nope. Not even close. We're getting there, though.) We've been up to our eyeballs in cabinet staining, drywall work, mudding and such ... all those super-de-duper fun things that come along with most remodeling adventures.

I have barely been cooking or baking from-scratch recently. (I know - gasp.) Our new house is just a few miles from where we currently live and we're not moving in until most of the renovations are done. So, we've been at the new house working during our "free" time which has meant that my hubby and kids have been mostly living on take-out, pizza, granola bars and string cheese. (I wish I were kidding.)

This past weekend, however, I couldn't take it anymore. I was dying to get into the kitchen - even if it meant giving up a couple hours of working at the new place. So, I made a big pot of my Cheesy Potato Soup and kept it warm in my slow cooker to transport over to the new house. (Nothing says gourmet, by the way, like soup served in Styrofoam cups and eaten with plastic spoons.)

And, these scrumptious "muffins" were made ... and quickly devoured.

These are not quite actually muffins in the true sense of the word - they are chewier and a bit denser than traditional banana muffins. (Having no flour in the mix makes them a little different than muffins, as well.) Regardless, they are darn yummy and are great on the go! They actually remind me of Quaker Oatmeal To Go Breakfast Bars - if you've ever had those.

Who doesn't love the combination of chocolate, peanut butter and banana? They're made with stuff most of us usually have on hand and they're ready to pop in the oven in just a matter of minutes. They'll carry you through the morning and are, also, great for after school snacking.

Monday, 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.

Wednesday, 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.

Thursday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Friday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Monday, 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.

Thursday, 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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Overnight Vanilla and Coconut Oats with Cacao Nibs

I've been following My Whole Food Life for quite some time now. Melissa's blog is one chocked full of creative recipes that are vegan and made using unprocessed ingredients. She is quite an inspiration. She is known for her overnight oat recipes and I've been wanting to try some of them for a long while now. Since she recommends eating the oats cold in the morning (they can be heated if desired), I was waiting until warmer weather arrived to delve into making some batches. I recently adapted one of her coconut vanilla versions to my liking and I am now officially hooked.

I love the texture and healthfulness of this recipe. And, as odd as it may sound, I can't believe how refreshing oatmeal can be when prepared this way. Know that this isn't your typical, hot oatmeal, however. It is meant to be eaten cold and it isn't overly sweet.

I can't wait to experiment with other flavors and variations. In my house, we live on steel cut oats made overnight in the slow cooker in the winter months. But, I am totally loving these oats cold out of the fridge now that we're waking up to warm temps here in Michigan.

Melissa uses steel cut oats on their own in her overnight oats recipes, but suggests using rolled oats if you don't want that extra crunchy texture and if you desire a smoother result. I used a combination of both and thought it was perfect.

This recipe makes enough for one serving. It can easily be adapted to make several servings at once.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Candy Land Birthday Party

My sweet daughter, Ayvah, is celebrating her seventh birthday this month. She wanted a Candy Land-themed party. I knew I was in for a bit of work, but I was so excited. Our fourteen-year old and twelve-year old have let me know that they are past the ages of themed, kiddie parties. So, I'm thoroughly enjoying these final years that our youngest actually wants me to go all out and run with a fun theme!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Italian Pasta Salad

This is a great side dish for cookouts and summer gatherings. It's always a real crowd-pleaser. And, it's perfect to make up to have on hand for lunches throughout the week, too.

A good-quality bottled Italian dressing can be used if you're not wanting to make the homemade vinaigrette. I always reserve a little of my dressing for right before serving. I find that it's nice to have a little on reserve to moisten everything back up - especially if the salad is made a day in advance.

Monday, June 02, 2014

May Recap

May was an ultra busy month in the Joyously Domestic household. (The amount of new recipes posted here on JD definitely reflects that.) I'm looking forward to the school year coming to a close so that I can breathe a little and spend a little more time on new posts for you all. For now, here's a quick look back on the past month's happenings.

May Recipe Recap

Whether you're looking for a meatless dinner option, a couple of decadent desserts or a scrumptious weekend breakfast idea, May's recipes are sure to inspire.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Blueberry Swirl Cinnamon Rolls with Lemon Glaze

My family has a love affair with cinnamon rolls. We have my Ultimate Overnight Cinnamon Rolls every Christmas morning (and admittedly many other mornings throughout the year) and we've, also, come to love my Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls. Using berries in cinnamon rolls is something rather new to me, but this recipe has made me a true believer in the "amazing-ness" of berries in sweet rolls.

I choose blueberries, but I'm sure that other berries would be just as divine. (I'm thinking frozen cherries next time actually.)  In doing research for this post, I read many times that using frozen blueberries is important. Fresh blueberries apparently don't give up as much of their juices during the baking process.

Blueberries and lemon are a match made in heaven in my world. So I, of course, incorporated lemon into the glaze. The result was nothing short of heavenly.

My recipe uses frozen bread dough as a shortcut. So, the prep for these rolls is rather easy. And, these can even be made the night before and baked off in the morning for a sweet breakfast with little fuss. After arranging the rolls in your baking dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store overnight in fridge. Allow to proof in the morning, then bake according to recipe directions.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Baked Gnocchi in Bubbly Parmesan "Cream" Sauce

This is a great meatless dinner option and comes together rather quickly. A good-quality packaged gnocchi is a real time saver in this recipe. I love that this is a stock-based Parmesan sauce. (Trust me - you'll never miss the heavy cream.) Bella Sun Luci sun-dried tomatoes from Mooney Farms lend chewiness and a subtle zip that really compliments the dish.

Served with a salad and maybe a loaf of crusty bread, this baked gnocchi makes a great weeknight dinner that the whole family is sure to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Salted Caramel Candy Bar Overload Peanut Butter Pie

Whew! That title is a mouthful! Nevertheless, you'll be happy as all get out to have a mouthful (and then some) of this pie! It was a new creation for me that I made for my son's twelfth birthday earlier this week. We'll be having his big party this weekend, but I wanted to make him a special dessert on his actual birthday. He's not a big fan of cake, so I knew I wanted something a bit different.

Enter this over-the-top frozen peanut butter pie that I piled high with chopped Snickers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, then drizzled with salted caramel sauce. It's not a super traditional peanut butter pie that is usually pudding-based. It's a tad bit thicker and more dense. And, the addition of cream cheese gives it a little tang and helps cut through the sweetness. I guess it could be considered a peanut butter cheesecake, but doesn't have to be baked and isn't quite as heavy.
I cheated took some help from the store by utilizing an already-made chocolate pie crust. However, you could make your own if you want by combining a package of pulsed chocolate sandwich cookies with a few tablespoons of melted butter. Just press the mixture into a pie plate. Most any type of candy bar would work here - it's purely about preference. I used something new from Smucker's in this recipe - their Simple Delight Salted Caramel. I love this stuff! You'll be tempted to gobble it up by the spoonful - it's that fabulous! It's a bit thicker than traditional store-bought caramel sauce so it works well for topping desserts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sun-Dried Tomato Wonton Party Bites #Bella Sun Luci

It's no secret here on JD that I adore using sun-dried tomatoes in my cooking whenever I can. So, I was thrilled when Mooney Farms offered to send me a shipment of several of their fabulous Bella Sun Luci sun-dried tomato products a couple of weeks ago.

I've been experimenting with their different varieties in my cooking recently and hope to have more recipes to post in the near future, but I wanted to share this simple take on a previously posted JD recipe (my Fresh Veggie Pizza Wonton Cups). For this version, I utilized a similar cream cheese base recipe, but made these into mini wonton cups. I crowned the tops with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and scallions.

These mini appetizers are quite simple and uncomplicated, yet pack a major flavor punch. These are great for parties since almost all of the prep work can be done in advance (prep ahead instructions can be found at bottom of post). Guests seem to love wonton cup appetizers, so these just may be the perfect flavorful bites to serve at your next gathering.

Yields 24 bite-size cups.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

I have requested a kitchen blow torch from my hubby and kids for a good three years for my birthday and Christmas. I adore crème brûlée and always order it if a restaurant offers it while I'm out for dinner. It is seriously my absolute favorite dessert on the planet.

For Mother's Day this year, they finally got me a blow torch so that I could make crème brûlée at home. I had made it many years ago, but had to use my oven broiler to attempt to achieve that crackled sugar top. Frankly, I just always thought that a blow torch would make the process much more fun and me a more legit maker of crème brûlée. (I know - that sounds so corny.)

Crème brûlée, also, happens to be one of my kids' favorite desserts. We usually just order one and share it while we're out to eat, so you can easily conclude that I only get two or three bites. (The moms out there know what I'm talking about.) We were all looking forward to making this dessert at home so that we could each have our own! This recipe yields six individual servings.

The hardest part of the recipe is waiting for the custard to completely chill before topping it with sugar, torching the heck of it and cracking it open with a spoon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blogger Spotlight with Michelle from Counting Willows

Earlier this year, I introduced a new monthly feature here on Joyously Domestic - Blogger Spotlight. Last month, I featured Tux from Brooklyn Homemaker. This month, I'm thrilled to be featuring Michelle from Counting Willows. I came in contact with Michelle through our mutual guest posts on another site. She is one sweet lady and seems to share many of the same values as I do when it comes to family, home and life in general. Her blog is a beautiful blend of home organization ideas, cleaning tips, recipe ideas and DIY fun. She, also, shares stories from her busy life as a mom and wife that will inspire us all to take time to enjoy the simple, meaningful things in our often-chaotic, crazy lives.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Joyously Domestic Is Now on Instagram!

After lots of requests and a little procrastination, I've finally bit the bullet and joined Instagram. I'm just getting started, so the posts aren't numerous just yet. But, I'll be sharing some behind-the-scenes stuff, content that isn't always shared here on the blog, a peek every now and then of the family and lots more as we go along. So, come follow along and let's have some fun, friends.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

FREE Mother's Day Questionnaire Printable

Today I'm featuring a FREE printable that is perfect for capturing kids' thoughts about MOM this Mother's Day. Whether for at-home use, school classroom use or Sunday School use, this quick questionnaire is a simple, yet memorable way for kids to show moms everywhere just how much they love them! It is certainly something mom will cherish for years to come.

Simply right-click the printable and save to your computer. Print as a full page in high-resolution.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

DIY Luscious Citrus Sugar Scrub with Free Printable

This Luscious Citrus Sugar Scrub is super simple to whip up and makes a great gift. I was floored when I realized I could make sugar body scrub so easily and inexpensively at home.

This scrub is a super luxurious treat for dry, weathered skin. If you prefer a more-coarse scrub, you can alter the amount of sugar you use to adjust the consistency. Some may prefer it rather oily and choose to use less sugar while some may enjoy it more-coarse. It's all about your preference ... just add more sugar or oil until you reach the consistency you like.

I am providing the printable I used for my labels (see bottom of post). They can be used to tie onto the containers with raffia or ribbon. Or, you can label the tops of your jars with the circle labels if the size is right. (Just right-click the printable to save to your computer, then print as a full page in high-resolution.)

A small spoon or scoop can be attached to the container with ribbon, if desired. I would encourage use of some type of spoon or similar item so that wet fingers aren't used to scoop out the product. (Getting water into the scrub can cause bacteria growth over time.) I would, also, discourage you from storing the container directly in the shower or tub. Keep in a dry place and scoop out what you need at time of use. (It's a good idea to pass this info on to the gift recipient if gifting.)

Vitamin E Oil is used in the "recipe" to help act as a natural preservative. The addition of sea salt can help, too, if desired.

Monday, May 05, 2014

April Recap

It was a busy month here on Joyously Domestic. After struggling to post actively during March due to a crazy wave of illness that tore through our household, I had lots to get done in April. I'd love for you to join me as I take a look back on the blog happenings over the past month.

April Recipe Posts

Thursday, May 01, 2014

14 Inspirational Summertime Recipes

It's a fact that so many of us wondered if we'd ever make it to warm temps and yards not covered in several feet of snow this year. It was quite the brutal winter! But, spring has sprung and if you're anything like me, you're craving those delicious summer recipes. While I still love those comforting slow cooker recipes year-round, I'm so ready for backyard cook-outs and eating a much lighter fare.
I've put together a round-up of some great summertime recipes from right here on Joyously Domestic to inspire you - fabulous pasta salads, fresh veggie appetizers, refreshing icebox treats and cool, creamy dips. So, whether you're inspired to try a few of these recipes to get ya in the mood now for sunshine and flip flips OR you want to bookmark (or pin) this list for the upcoming months, it is my hope that you'll find a few recipes that'll become family favorites.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Birthday Love

I celebrated the tenth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday this month. (Ha!) My husband and children sure made my birthday a special one this year. They'd been asking for weeks what I wanted to do this year to celebrate. I was gifted with roses, perfume and my favorite bottle of Prosecco (can I get an amen ) on the morning of my actual birthday. But, they wanted to take me out to do something fun, too.

I'm pretty easy to please.

Get me outta this town ... let's do some shopping and get some good grub.
We live in a very small county in Michigan. We're about an hour and fifteen minutes away from one of my favorite places to visit in Michigan - Ann Arbor. It is such a lovely, fun place. When we're there, I hit up some of my favorites stores - Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Lush, World Market and a few others. Ann Arbor is, also, home to the best place I know to find one of my favorite foods on the planet - falafels (fried chickpea fritters). They've, also, got a Williams-Sonoma (did you see my recent post about my very first visit there when I was shopping out of state a couple of weeks ago?), so a return visit was on the definitely on the agenda.

I'm a city girl at heart, but have lived in a small, rural area for the last twelve years. There aren't many shopping, dining or entertainment options locally for us, so we so enjoy getting outside of our area for a day out on the town.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sonoma Chicken Salad {A Whole Foods Copycat Recipe}

I recently fell in love with the Sonoma Chicken Salad from the deli at Whole Foods. I brought a container of it home - along with a round loaf of their sourdough bread - and was so sad when I finished up my last sandwich. I have been craving it ever since - big time.

My nearest Whole Foods is well over an hour away, so I don't get there as often as I'd like. In an attempt to satisfy my yearning for their chicken salad, I went in search online for a copycat recipe. I figured I might find one or two on a food blog out there. Instead, the top search result was the exact recipe itself provided directly on the Whole Foods' website.

Could it be ? Could this really be the real thing ?

Off to the kitchen I went to try out the recipe. Holy moly, friends, this is it. It's the real deal.

Not only will I get to enjoy this chicken salad more often, but it will save me a bundle. {I believe I paid around $12.00 a pound for it at Whole Foods.}

Don't leave out the poppy seeds, by the way. They are crucial {imo}. I love that little bit of crunch and pop.

I, too, like the {extremely simple and uncomplicated} way the chicken is cooked in this version ... the result is perfectly moist and super tender meat.

I urge you to give this one a whirl. It will be a great addition to your summer recipe repertoire. It's divine on a couple of slices of good-quality bread, but would be just as good on top of a bed of salad greens or in lettuce cups.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Refreshing Citrus Quinoa Salad

As the temps begin to rise for much of the country, summery salads will be making appearances on many of our menus. This Refreshing Citrus Quinoa Salad may just become a new favorite.

This is a great salad to serve at your summer grilling parties and potlucks. I enjoy it, too, to have on hand for a few days in the fridge for myself for lunch. (If not serving it all at once within 24 hours, I would recommend keeping the vinaigrette separate. Each time you dish out a little of the quinoa salad, drizzle on or combine in some vinaigrette shortly before eating.)

The options for add-ins in this salad are limited only by your imagination. Other veggies, nuts, seeds, a handful of fresh spinach or even avocado could be added in. I adore the Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (recipe recently posted) used to dress this salad. It can be used on so many things - regular salads, roasted veggies and even grilled chicken.

Yields 4 - 6 servings.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Bacon Scalloped Potatoes

If you're anything like me, you utilize your slow cooker year-round. In the cooler months, there's nothing more comforting than knowing a from-scratch meal is cooking away in the slow cooker. And, it helps busy parents get a good meal on the table on hectic days. During the warmer months, it's just so dang lovely to not have to heat up the house by turning on the oven. But, sometimes it's hard to find the time to do all the prep needed for slow cooker recipes in the morning before heading out for a busy day.

I've been working on a scalloped potatoes recipe for the slow cooker that is quick to get going in the morning and one that requires little work. My first suggestion to make the morning work a breeze when making this dish is to peel and slice all of your potatoes the evening before. I keep them submerged in water in a large bowl in the fridge overnight. Secondly, I cook off the bacon the evening before, allow it to cool and store it in the fridge, as well.

Come morning, I just drain off the water from the potatoes, warm up the milk and combine everything together in the slow cooker. I'm in and out of the kitchen in no time.

The result is pure classic scalloped potatoes heaven. The bacon is added to the top toward the end of cooking, so it stays nice and crisp. It's utter comfort food with minimal work in the morning.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

This is my go-to homemade lemon vinaigrette that I make when I want to dress a salad simply. It is, also, fabulous on grilled or oven-roasted veggies.  And, it is absolutely luscious brushed over grilled chicken or fish. I've even been known to toss it with some leftover pasta and sun-dried tomatoes for a refreshing and easy cold pasta salad for my lunch. It's full of bright flavors that really amp up whatever you use it in or upon.

I have an amazing Refreshing Citrus Quinoa Salad coming up on the blog soon that utilizes this dressing, as well. So, stay tuned.

Another option for a light, summery lunch is to combine diced, cooked chicken with this dressing to make a lightened up version of chicken salad. Add in some dried fruit and nuts ... maybe a few halved grapes. Serve in lettuce wraps or over a bed of greens. Yum!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tips for Storing and Grilling Asparagus

It's asparagus season! And, if you've ever grilled a big bunch of asparagus on an outdoor grill, you know that it can be difficult to keep the stalks from falling through the grates. I've got a simple solution that will solve that exact problem. This post isn't necessarily a recipe, but rather a post about my technique for grilling asparagus and how I store fresh asparagus once I bring it home.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Homemade Cornbread Muffins

I recently made a big pot of Ham and Bean Soup. Of course, nothing pairs better with ham and beans than cornbread. I grew up eating ham and bean soup with cornbread at my Kentucky-born grandmother's house. She'd make a big pot of the soup and a large pan of cornbread. We'd eat the leftovers for days.

This cornbread recipe is a simple one. I love that actual corn is added to the mix. I use a minimal amount of sugar because I don't care for overly-sweet cornbread. But, if you do - feel free to use a little more sugar than is called for.

I often make this in a cast iron skillet, but love making the recipe into muffins sometimes, too. The kids seem to enjoy it more this way and I don't have to mess with cutting the cornbread into pieces.

Yields 12 muffins.