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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Citrus Asparagus

This zippy citrus-topped asparagus is a healthy and delicious choice!  Not to mention its gorgeous, bright colors make it a perfect spring or summertime side dish option!
When the weather starts warming up, I immediately begin checking the produce section for the fresh asparagus to hit the shelves.  It's one of my favorite veggies.  I can eat it plain, but I love it even more when it's topped with a nice drizzle of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 

Because I can't get enough of the citrus flavors this time of year, I think they are the perfect match for these pretty green stalks.  The fun surprise tangs of orange and lemon in every bite leave you wanting for more!  

The cooking time listed below is for asparagus on the crunchy side, but if you like it on the softer side like I do, just allow it to boil for a few more minutes, testing it often with a fork.

Adapted slightly from Taste of Home

2 cups water
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
1/4 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning

In a large skillet over the stovetop, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus pieces, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes for a crisper asparagus, and about 4-5 minutes for a more tender asparagus.  Test it with a fork often until it reaches the desired tenderness.  While it's boiling prepare the drizzle by whisking together orange juice, olive oil, orange peel and lemon-pepper seasoning in a small bowl.  When asparagus is done, immediately drain it and run cold water over it for about a minute to cool it off and prevent it from cooking more.

Pat it dry and place it in a serving bowl.  Pour orange sauce over and toss to coat.
I've said before that I don't like to put much time or effort into side dishes since I tend to pour all my energy into the main dish.  This is a simple, no-sweat option that is ready in a matter of minutes!  Love it!

This unique spin on the more traditional butter and spice-cooked asparagus is begging to become a meal companion to your summer grilling endeavors!

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Cherry Limeade Cookies

I was provided with free product from Silpat, which I in turn used to create today's scrumptious treat!  I couldn't live without Silpat and believe that they really up my baking game, so all excitement is 100% my own.  Don't miss out on the fantastic giveaway at the end of this post!

There's nothing that screams "It's Summer!" quite like a Cherry Limeade Cookie!  This delicious drink-turned dessert will hook you at bite one!
One of the things I love to order when I'm at Sonic is the Cherry Limeade.  I admit that I typically am not one to "spend" calories on sugary drinks (I'd much rather save calories and put them towards a sweet, buttery confection that I can chew and really savor), but when I do, I make it count!  I mean, who can turn down that mouthwatering fruity, citrusy beverage?  I certainly can't.

I'll be the first to tell you that I'm strange and I despise maraschino cherries.  So at this point I've probably got you pretty confused.  Well, let me explain.  I love the flavor of the cherries, but not so much the texture.  I just don't do squishy.  They sure are pretty as a garnish, though!  That vibrant, cheerful red color and the adorable stem give me heart eyes.

So I enjoyed a cookie for each hand while my hubby kindly and very happily disposed of the cherries one by one into his mouth. :)  
The soft and thick cookie base is semi-homemade and begins with a sugar cookie mix.  Then it's given a boost of lime goodness with fresh juice and zest.  

Just when you think things can't get any better, they are finished off with a decadent, generous pillow of maraschino cherry-juice-infused buttercream icing, which not only tastes like a million bucks but gives it the gorgeous pink hue that they boast.

Be still my heart!
It's no secret that I love to bake.  In fact, I spend a great deal of my day in the kitchen whipping up sugary delights.  And, if you're a regular reader here, you know that more often than not, that entails cookies.  I am a self-proclaimed cookie monster.

I don't know why, but when I'm craving something sweet (which is pretty much 24/7), I'm in the mood for a cookie.  I certainly wouldn't turn down cakes, pies, or brownies (I'm not crazy), but for some reason my taste buds sing and dance for cookies.

Are you the same way?
If I had to name just one product that I use time and time again in the kitchen (we're talking multiple times a day), it's definitely my Silpat mats. They are the magical, wondrous secret weapon behind my baked-to-perfection goodies! They are a nonstick surface (eliminating the use of baking sprays) that are oven safe and can be used over and over again!  

Well there you have it.  I spilled the beans! You can totally be the envied "Betty Baker" in your neighborhood now.  Thank me later with a plateful of cookies, please.  :)

I love that this Silpat "Perfect Cookie" mat takes the guess work out of where to place the dough balls, thus maximizing space and cookie output.  Winning!

You can find Silpat at Amazon (affiliate), Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy's, Wayfair, and Williams-Sonoma. 
And, when this is the end result, there are so many reasons to be happy! I can count at least five right there.  :)

Makes about 20

1 sugar cookie mix (17.5 oz.)
2 tsp. lime zest
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix well.  Use a 1 1/2" ice cream scoop to form uniform dough balls and place in the areas outlined on the Silpat mat-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes or just until not doughy.  You want them to still be soft, so don't let them brown on the bottom.  Remove from oven, let sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing them to a rack to cool completely.

1/2 c. butter, softened
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
5 tsp. maraschino cherry liquids (from the jar of cherries)
2-3 Tbsp. (more or less to reach desired creaminess) milk
2 drops red food coloring (optional)

Prepare frosting by creaming all ingredients together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add milk a tablespoon at a time until it's nice and spreadable, but not runny.  Frost cookies, then top with maraschino cherries for garnish when ready to serve.  Pat the cherries dry first with a paper towel before topping to prevent juices from running down the frosting.
Your summer just wouldn't be complete without these beauties!  They're perfect for potlucks and gatherings and are sure to receive rave reviews!

Now onto the giveaway!  Silpat is generously giving one of you lucky people a "Perfect Cookie" mat!  How exciting is that?!
To enter, just complete the Rafflecopter form below!

**Must be from the Continental U.S. to enter, 18 years or older.  Giveaway ends June 29th, 2016 at 12 AM MST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck to you, and happy cookie baking!

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Plus How to Have Peace of Mind While You're Away from Home

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its adv­­­­­­ertiser Honeywell. All opinions are mine alone. #ConnectYourHome #CollectiveBias

Get out and enjoy nature with kids with this Outdoor Scavenger Hunt! And don't worry about the status of your home while you're out, because I'm sharing my method for how to have peace of mind with the Lyric™ Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector by Honeywell!!

Are you enjoying your summer so far?  We certainly are!  Life is wonderful when you're not a slave to a rigorous schedule or countless commitments, am I right?  I don't want it to end!

We do a lot of traveling during June and July while the kids are out of school.  We love to visit grandparents out of state and just see the world outside of our immediate realm!  But, I'm the type that frets while we're gone. I want our home to be monitored when we're not there to keep an eye on it.  I'm not worried so much about invasions or robberies since we moved to a remote location, but I'm more concerned about leaky pipes and potential water damage that are accompanying risks to owning an old home.
When I'm on vacation, I want to be on vacation both physically and mentally, so a little peace of mind goes a very long way.
That's where my new Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector by Honeywell, available at Home Depot, comes into play.
It's an amazing device that syncs up to an app on my smartphone and alerts me immediately if it senses potential leaks or pending water concerns.  At that point, I could be in touch with my neighbor friend, who would come look into the situation.  And, if I happen to have a leak (fingers crossed that it doesn't come to that), I can reuse this device even afterwards!
It works on my home's Wi-Fi and is a breeze to install!  Watch a quick video about it HERE. In fact, my husband congratulated me on not having to put this "project" on my "honey do" list.  I did it all by myself!  Woot!
So while I'm playing on vacation or on an around-the-town excursion, it's constantly working by monitoring areas where water leaks may occur, such as: near water heaters, washing machine, dishwashers, toilets, sump pumps and under sinks.

1.Following the instructions on the Quick Start Guide that's included in the box, remove the back and install the batteries that are included.
2.Replace the back, ensuring that it fits snuggly
3.Search for Honeywell Lyric in the App Store and download the app
4. Now complete the steps, as prompted, to pair the detector with the app

5.  You'll hear a beep and see a solid blue light indicating that your detector is paired
6.  Next, select where the detector will be placed (i.e. basement, laundry room, etc.) and then follow the steps to connect to Wi-Fi.
7. The LED will turn solid green for five minutes to indicate that it's connected to Wi-Fi.  Turn off to preserve the battery life.
8. Then continue to follow the steps in the app to configure the detector

9.  You'll see this "Congratulations" screen when you're all done.  At this point, you can test your WLD if you'd like by following the instructions on the included sheet, or proceed to "Placement".
10.  Now place your detector, ensuring the bottom is flat on the floor or surface.  Insert the optional cable sensor if desired.
Aaaahhhhhh....it feels so freeing to leave the worrying to this magical thing when I walk out the door!
So because I'm not stressing about water leaks anymore and since it's summer and the kiddos and I want to spend every moment making memories, I put together this fun Outdoor Scavenger Hunt and we headed out to conquer the challenge.
I couldn't believe our luck in finding a snail shell!  My daughter was ecstatic when she discovered it.
The kids literally ran everywhere, looking for the natural treasures, filling their paper bag with them as they went.

Bonus points for finding the feather! We weren't so fortunate.

We won't soon forget this experience!  Summer is so magical, don't you agree?  So install the Lyric™ Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector and then go have an adventure and don't worry about your home!  You deserve it!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Root Beer Float Cookies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ReimagineCereal #CollectiveBias

A summertime favorite drink in an incredibly soft cookie form, these Root Beer Float delights with creamy, fluffy white frosting will wow you!  Plus, you're in for a special treat with the surprise Pop-Tart pieces inside!

Are you enjoying your summer so far?  

We just got back from a trip to visit grandparents out of state.  So much swimming, water park playing, lake going, rafting, and cousin visiting.  It was exhausting but we didn't want it to end!

It's always nice to be back in our own beds and back to our normal routine, though.  And it wasn't too depressing to come home because we've got lots of fun ahead still!

One of my favorite summertime memories, growing up was when we visited my Great Aunt June.  We always attended her birthday party, which just so happened to be in June, and she always had root beer floats waiting for us.  Since then, I can't seem to curb the craving for the delicious things, especially when it's hot outside.

So when I saw this new Pop-Tarts Frosted A&W Root Beer flavor at Albertsons, I knew it needed to come home with me, and quickly.  
Because I'm a sucker for cookies, I of course incorporated the Pop-Tarts into a sweet treat that I know you're going to love

I certainly couldn't resist them!

Don't tell anyone, but the Pop-Tarts are the secret weapon for this totally scrumptious hand-held confection.  I bet you never thought you'd see your favorite breakfast or snack morph into a cookie!  

Just leave it to me. :)
 I feel like I'm sipping on a root beer float with every magnificent bite!

The kids have been begging to join me in the kitchen more often over the coming months while they're home, so this was a great way to let them get involved! 

Makes more than 2 dozen

1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. root beer concentrate (found in the baking aisle near the spices)
2 large eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. Pop-Tarts Frosted A&W Root Beer, chopped coursely

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. root beer concentrate
2-4 Tbsp. milk, or a little more as necessary until desired creaminess is reached
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  For the cookies, in the bowl of an electric mixer cream together butter, brown sugar, root beer concentrate and eggs.  Add flour, salt and cream of tartar to the bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Chop Pop-Tarts and mix in.  Scoop or roll into 1 1/2" balls and place on a nonstick baking mat or prepared baking sheet.  Press dough balls with the palms of your hands to slightly flatten.  

Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes.  Let sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

 For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, powdered sugar, and root beer concentrate until well blended.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between, until nice and creamy but not runny.  Frost cooled cookies and store in an airtight container.  I think these are best straight out of the fridge, but room temp is great too!
I have a feeling you're going to become obsessed with these!  I can't get them off my mind! 

Skip the float and bake up some fun instead!  Just don't forget to add the Pop-Tarts!  They lend a phenomenal flavor and texture!

Please visit this website for more inspiration for creative breakfast and snack creations.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Raspberry Lemon Cookies & DREYER'S SLOW CHURNED® Simple Recipes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SweeterTogether #CollectiveBias

Celebrate summer with a delicious spread of Raspberry Lemon Cookies that pair perfectly with cool and creamy DREYER'S SLOW CHURNED® Simple Recipes!

We've been experiencing a heat wave here the last week!  The temperature doesn't typically get above 90 here in the mountains, but we've been surpassing that by a few degrees.  So we've been spending lots of time in the kids' little pool, splashing up a storm.  Even though it's hot, we can't help but play outside because now's the time for lots of fun in the sun! 

These months pass all too quickly and school starts back up all too soon, so we like to enjoy every minute of it while it lasts! 
That being said, we look forward to our cool refreshments after being out in the sweltering heat.  So we keep the freezer stocked with loads of DREYER’S SLOW CHURNED® Simple Recipes for just those occasions.  :)  

Some of our favorites are the DREYER’S SLOW CHURNED® Caramel Delight Light Ice Cream and DREYER’S SLOW CHURNED® Vanilla Light Ice Cream.  My kids especially love the vanilla variety, but I'm a total caramel girl. :)

These and many more yummy flavors await on the ice cream aisle at Walmart!

DREYER’S SLOW CHURNED® Simple Recipes are made with real, simple ingredients like fresh milk & cream and contain no GMO ingredients and no artificial colors or flavors.

Funny story...we recently returned from a visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  After putting the kids to bed each night, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I would immediately bolt to the freezer and dish up a bowl of DREYER’S SLOW CHURNED® Simple Recipes and then savored each bite in complete serenity while watching chick flicks.  The kids were slumbering and the men were playing board games loudly in another room and had no idea we were sneaking in some scoops of deliciousness...it was amazing.  Sometimes things just taste better when enjoyed in secret, and there was much more for us ladies that way.  :)  

I think I need to continue this tradition now that I'm home.  :)  Kids' bedtime, chick flicks and ice cream were meant to go together!

And do you know what else is a match made in heaven?  Raspberries and lemons!  Have you tried it? The combination is absolute perfection!
These phenomenal cookies just scream "summer"!  I love the gorgeous purple hue that the mashed fresh raspberries lend to the dough.  And, combined with a perfectly sweet and tart lemon drizzle, these cannot be beat!

These represent your favorite sugar cookie revamped and bursting with raspberry and lemon flavors!  They're ultra soft and almost cake-like too!  I day dream about these beauties!  They're SO delightful!


1 1/4 cup fresh raspberries, mashed
1 Tbsp. sugar

1 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. finely grated lemon rind (save the lemon for the drizzle)
2 c. plus 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (divided)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
3-4 drops red food coloring (optional)

3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Begin by mashing raspberries with a fork and stirring in 1 Tbsp. sugar.  Let sit while preparing the dough.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, make dough by creaming together 1 c. sugar, butter, egg, lemon extract and lemon rind.  Add in 2 c. flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt and mix.

Drain as much excess juice as possible from the mashed raspberry mixture (this will prevent your dough from being too wet) and add raspberry mixture to the dough. 
Mix well.  Add remaining flour (1/2 cup) and add red food coloring (optional) until dough reaches desired color intensity. 

Using a 1 1/2" ice cream scoop, scoop dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet that's been lined with a nonstick baking mat or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Place two in each row and six per sheet to allow room for them to spread out.  Bake for approximately 9-12 minutes, or just until they're no longer doughy.  Don't overbake!  Let sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.  

Prepare drizzle by whisking together powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over cooled cookies.  Let the drizzle set completely and then place cookies in a tupperware container using wax paper to separate the layers so they don't stick to each other. 
Now enjoy with a bowl of DREYER’S Ice Cream! Be sure to watch for demos featuring this delicious ice cream at your local Walmart in June!  Go HERE to see if there will be one in your area.
 These fresh, soft, fruity sugar cookies and DREYER’S SLOW CHURNED® ice cream are the perfect way to celebrate when family and friends get together this summer!  

Be sure to stock up on this delicious ice cream for these fun occasions!
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Thursday, June 9, 2016

DIY Lollipops (in under 5 minutes!)

Why run to the store when you can make lollipops at home in no time at all?!  These Jolly Rancher Suckers are a hit with the kids!
My kiddos are candy eaters to the core.  In fact, it's a huge struggle to get them to eat their veggies and the only way I can do it is if I bribe them with dessert afterwards. :)  Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

Since it's summer time and we're trying to make the most of every minute of every day, we've made up a little bucket list of activities the kids and I would like to do before school starts back up.  The kids asked to spend more time in the kitchen with me, making fun and yummy things, and they definitely don't need to make that request twice, so this was our first mini "experiment"!  

This idea was inspired by a Taste of Home magazine clipping that I found from years past.
We thoroughly enjoyed the results, as you can see.
What I love about this method is that you don't have to start from scratch, it's unbelievably easy, and you can make pretty much any color or flavor under the sun!  

Simple melt down some Jolly Rancher candies and you've got a pretty assortment of colorful lollipops!  Here's how it's done.

Your jaw is going to drop when I tell you what a no-brainer this is.

Jolly Rancher candies (or other hard candies that melt down easily)
2" Circle Cookie Cutter
Nonstick baking spray
Nonstick baking mat or baking sheet lined with foil and coated with cooking spray
Sucker Sticks

1. Spray the inside of a micro-wave safe mini bowl and the inside of your cookie cutter with nonstick cooking spray
2. Place three unwrapped Jolly Rancher candies in the bowl
3. Microwave on high for about 45 seconds, or just until melted (Careful! It can burn!)
4. Immediately remove bowl from microwave (protect your hands because it'll be hot) and quickly pour into prepared cookie cutter
5. Allow to set until not runny, but still soft and then gently remove from the cookie cutter
6. Press a sucker stick into the bottom portion, let set completely and enjoy! You can cut some cute paper straws and put the sucker stick through if you'd like.

Now repeat the process to make lots of different colors and flavors!

This is going to be a new summer time tradition of ours!  It's so fun and the kids loved to help make and of course eat them!  These would also be a perfect kids' birthday cake topper!
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Creamy Guacamole Dip/Sauce

A smooth and creamy avocado dip and sauce, infused with the wonderful, fresh flavors of Roma tomatoes, lime, cilantro, and jalapeño!  This stuff is addicting...you've been warned!  You'll want to put it on everything!

So the other day I made some Pineapple Pulled Pork Taquitos (I slow cooked the pork first, then shredded it and added some Pineapple Jabanero Sauce from Costco, you know the Robert Rothschild kind) until all the pork was smothered nicely.   Then I shredded some cheese, and added the meat mixture and a sprinkling of cheese in a tortilla before rolling it up and then baked them until slightly crispy, just how I like them.  

But I'm a big-time sauce person.  In fact my hubby is too.  And I had a serious hankering for some guac, so I decided to blend up a creamy avocado concoction with a little kick to go with our taquitos, and the results will blow. your. mind! I made more the next day because I couldn't stop thinking about it, because we inhaled the previous day's bowl in basically seconds, and so we could go to snack town heaven with our bag of tortilla chips.


2 soft, fully ripe avocados, pitted and scooped out
1 Roma Tomato
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1 Jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 c. sour cream (full fat)
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp. sugar

Add all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Serve as a dip.  Add a little bit of milk to thin it out if you want to serve it as a sauce or drizzle.

This is one of those magical foods that can double as a sauce or a dip.  The recipe as is yields a consistency that's perfect for dipping, but if you'd like to drizzle it over something, simply blend in a little milk until it's at a more "pourable" state.

Then, get busy dipping beef, pork or chicken-filled taquitos, tortilla chips, crackers, fries, veggies, or what have you.  Or, just grab a spoon and dig in if you don't have those things.  Drizzle it over tacos, burritos, salads, add it to burgers...pretty much anything goes.  Seriously.  When something is this good, I could douse a chocolate bar in it and still say "Yum!".  Just about. :)
What will you serve this delightful dip with?  I'm telling you, once you try this, you're going to keep coming up with excuses to make it again and again!  

We've started calling it liquid gold around our house because its value and preciousness are comparable to a very fine, highly sought-after metal.  But I'm not talking about money here, rather the taste buds.  

This is the kind of stuff that causes family feuds over who gets the last chip dunk or who gets to lick the bowl.  :)


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