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April 23, 2012

April's Secret Recipe Club - S'mores Cookies

It's time for another month of The Secret Recipe Club!

For April I was assigned to Jamie's blog Cookin' with Moxie. As always, there were so many wonderful recipes to choose from, but I settled on her s'mores cookies, because I had the graham crackers and marshmallows to use up from my pb&j s'mores

These cookies didn't disappoint. My dumb butt kept putting them back in though for longer than the recipe called for because the marshmallows weren't melting. Then the marshmallows got kinda brown so I took them out, and then the marshmallows ended up being a bit chewy and the cookies a bit crisp but still delicious. Next time I'll put them in for less, maybe the length the recipe actually calls for. I also did not turn mine half way through like Jamie did, so maybe that would also be a good suggestion.

S'mores Cookies 
ever-so-slightly adapted from Cookin' with Moxie
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I crushed some whole graham crackers up in the food processor)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • about 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 Hershey bars, chopped up
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars until fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, and baking soda, and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spray cookie sheets with baking spray or cover with parchment paper. Drop tablespoon-full scoops of the batter onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of Hershey bar into each cookie. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on wire rack(s). Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Printable Recipe

I'll definitely be back to try some more of Jamie's tasty recipes!

Linking up here.

Peace, and bacon grease!

April 22, 2012

Ahh!! No More Picnik....

I'm so distraught! This is the first time I'm wanting to use Picnik and can't since it shut down. It just isn't the same! No levels or cloning or curves or fun stickers or frames! I'm glad I can still use the texts though cuz there are some cute ones.

Anybody know of some other free photo editing software since Picnik is gone? I need easy, people!

How are YOU all surviving without Picnik?

Peace, and bacon grease!

April 19, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly S'mores {Improv Cooking Challenge}

Hey friends! It's time for another round of the Improv Cooking Challenge, hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

For this month we had to pick something peanut butter and jelly related. Can you believe I was never crazy about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Yeah, I was that kid. Weird. So I was excited to see what other peanut butter and jelly recipes live out there in the vast world of recipes. I went through my longgggg list - like 200 pages worth - of recipes from blogs that I've wanted to try, did a search for "peanut butter and jelly", and was oohing and aahing over my options. Did you know there are tons of peanut butter and jelly bars and cupcake recipes out there? I'll try them one day, but for now I was drawn to these peanut butter and jelly s'mores. Uh, genius! I love when I can find a unique, creative recipe. I hadn't heard of this idea before and was intrigued. Cuz I used to love s'mores. Loved my marshmallows burnt. Extra burnt.

The only change I made was that I added some chocolate to it too, to make it a true s'mores. Plus the peanut butter and jelly of course. 

Overdoing it? I.think.not.

Peanut Butter and Jelly S'mores
slightly adapted from Cookin' Up North
  • creamy peanut butter
  • strawberry jelly (or whatever kind you prefer)
  • graham cracker
  • 2 marshmallows
  • 2 squares of chocolate (I used a Symphony milk chocolate candy bar)
For one s'more, break a graham cracker in half and spread with peanut butter and jelly. I used 2 normal sized marshmallows. Stick a square of chocolate in each of the 2 normal sized marshmallows and roast until marshmallows are browned to your satisfaction. Put on top of the peanut butter and jelly-topped graham cracker and then top with the other graham cracker half.

Looks like PJ was ready to dive in head first. We enjoyed this treat! It was fun to "roast" the marshmallows on the stove, but it would of course be a great idea for camping too. Put a twist on the old s'more, plus it's so easy to bring along some peanut butter and jelly too.

Oh, and check out the other Improvers' peanut butter and jelly recipes below:

Linking up here.

Peace, and bacon grease!

April 16, 2012

Turkey and Onion Grilled Cheese for National Grilled Cheese Month!

In honor of national grilled cheese month, I bring you....

the turkey and onion grilled cheese


Specifically, maple turkey and sauteed red onions. We used gouda, and it was good-ah!. And then the next day we used pepperjack, and it too was delicious. A bit of spiciness to cut the sweetness from the maple turkey and red onions. Oh my word, it melted in my mouth. I'm wondering what I could add to this already-amazing sandwich to make it even better... maybe some crunch of some sort?? Or some green veggies like spinach or something fancy?? Or I could just leave it as-is and ooh and ahh in amazement over it still.

We used 3 tbsp butter for the bread. You can either melt the butter and dip the bread slices in the butter, or soften the butter and spread on the bread slices. Whichever you prefer.

Turkey and Onion Grilled Cheese
a SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl original 

*Yields 2 sandwiches

  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 3 tbsp or so of butter, melted or softened*
  • 4 slices of maple turkey
  • 4 slices of gouda cheese
In a medium skillet, add 2 tbsp butter until melted. Then add sliced red onion and saute until softened and golden brown.

Spread the bread slices with 3 tbsp softened butter. In a large skillet on medium-low, add the bread slices. If you have a large enough skillet, you can add all 4 slices of bread all at once. If not, you will need to do this in batches. We did one sandwich at a time, so we only added 2 slices of bread to begin with. Top one slice of bread with 2 slices gouda. Then add 2 slices of maple turkey, then some sauteed red onions. Top with the other slice of bread. Press down with a spatula or heavy object. Flip if needed. Repeat with 2nd sandwich.

*Note: You can either melt the butter and dip the bread slices in the butter, or soften the butter so it is spreadable and spread on the bread slices. Whichever you prefer.

Printable Recipe

Seriously, it was delish. It had me asking PJ why we can't or don't open up a sandwich or panini shop of our own if it's that easy and delicious, and better than what we've got at restaurants in the past! Tom and Chee aint got nothin on us!! We will FOR SURE be making these all of the time. 

And whipping up more grilled cheese ideas along the way, too.

Linking up here.

Peace, and bacon grease!

April 13, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award!

I'm very honored to have received The Versatile Blogger award from Teri at The Freshman Cook!! Thank you so much, I'm honored and this made my day :)  I had already received this award from Faith & Daisies last year, but it's always nice to get awards so I'll take all that I can get.  It really makes me feel good that people like what I'm posting. I appreciate you!

The rules are:
  • Thank the person who awarded you by linking back to their post
  • Pass the award on to 15 other new or newly discovered blogs
  • List 7 interesting things about yourself 

I dunno if I can come up with 7 interesting things about myself, but here goes...

1. I'm almost done with my first semester in grad school and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I should have done this 4 years ago!

2. I'm currently watching the whole 3rd season of Parenthood and I'm completely obsessed. It is such a great show. How can I feel a whole range of emotions in one show?! Sadness, happiness, anger, guilt, frustration... the show depicts real life and families so well. Please watch this show if you haven't already, I don't know how you can't like it!

3. I have a gym membership for me and my fiancee and we haven't utilized it in over a year. Oops.

4. My fiancee and I have been together for almost 12 years this May 12th... since I was 15 years old! And he's still my best friend and the person I love to spend all of my time with.

5. I've never been to a farmer's market but have been yearning to! It's on my bucket list.

6. Really hoping to go on a vacation this summer. We didn't get to last year, and it MUST happen this summer. We were planning on going to Florida in May for our 12th dating anniversary, but now I've got class and it won't work out timing-wise. Probably can't go in May or June due to school, but in July or August... it's on!! Anybody know of some less-crowded places to visit in Florida?

7. I haven't planned one detail of our wedding. We've been engaged now for almost 2 years, and I have no plans of starting to plan anytime soon. With grad school I found out that it helps to get financial aid if I'm not married, so that also put a halt on me rushing to plan it. Plus I dunno what kinda wedding I want... do I want big or small? who do I invite? shouldn't I lose weight first so I look pretty in my dress? but wait, I don't wanna go to the gym. do I want a destination wedding? if not, where would I have it?  You see the questions that invaded my brain, and since it felt a bit overwhelming I just decided to not think about it anymore lol. We've been together this long, no rush now! Neither of us is going anywhere :)

That's it about me. Hope it was at least semi-interesting.

And now for the new-to-me blogs that I'm passing this award on to:

9. Dwell on Joy
10. Elsa Cooks
11. Emily Bites
12. Veronica's Cornucopia
13. Just Call Me Maria
14. Karen Cooks
15. Life Is Sweets

I thought it'd be difficult to come up with 15 new-to-me blogs, but it was so easy. It was actually hard for me to narrow it down. So many amazing blogs out there that I am lucky enough to find randomly! Please check out all of these wonderful blogs, they really do deserve this award.

Thanks again, Teri! People like you make blogging more worth it :)

Peace, and bacon grease!

April 7, 2012

Easter Recipe Roundup

Wow, three posts in one day! I'm happy about it. I love when I can get a free few minutes, or hours, to whip up some posts. My Saturday's been going great, how about yours? I didn't have class this morning, PJ and I woke up super early and watched some episodes of Parenthood, a show about Aaliyah (tear!!), and made these glorious muffins. Now he's off to work, I'm blogging, and later going shopping and to dinner with my girl, Marcey. Sounds like a good day to me!

But you're here for Easter recipes, aren't ya?

There's still time to plan your Easter menu, or to add on more goodies! Consider some of these, will ya?


Cereal Treat Easter Eggs

Easter Egg Nests

Bacon and Avocado Topped Deviled Eggs

Southwestern Deviled Eggs

Southwestern Deviled Eggs

Um, that's it. lol. I need to make more Easter recipes...

Hope you guys enjoy, and have a happy Easter!!!

Peace, and bacon grease!

Restaurant Review: Brown Dog Cafe

During Restaurant Week in March, we went to Brown Dog Cafe in Blue Ash, which I briefly told you guys about a little whiles ago in my What I'm Loving post. Restaurant Week comes twice a year - spring and fall from what I know - and it's a chance to get a 3-course meal for a certain price at participating restaurants, this time for $26.12. I always jump all over that. Especially because this place usually costs $40 a person for 3-courses.

I had already read about it being in a strip mall kind of setting, so I was prepared for that. What I didn't realize was that it was located right next to my old high school, Ursuline Academy, and right next to the old Subway we used to always eat at!!! So I really couldn't be turned off because I was loving seeing my old neck of the woods again. We entered and it was a tiny place, not gonna lie, with hardly anywhere to stand while waiting to be seated, which did take about 5 minutes or so before someone finally greeted us. We finally got a booth near the bar (a bit loud at times), and our waitress wasn't exactly pleasant, but not bad either. Not really smiley or customer-friendly. But I can get over that.

We started out with some bread and garlic. This place is the only place I've seen to serve cooked, soft garlic and oil, and we loved it! It added a nice sweetness to the bread. That was a good sign of the food to come.

PJ got the rabbit ravioli for his first course. Yay, this place serves interesting meats like rabbit and boar. He decided to be adventurous and try the rabbit ravioli, and though he didn't dislike it, he also didn't love it. I tried a bit of it and the meat did taste different than any other meat so it's hard to describe.

It was interesting and decent but I was happy that I chose what I did, which was the crab cake. Boy was it plump and delicious. It sat atop a bed of slaw which had soaked up that luscious sauce, with gorgonzola or blue cheese bits too (I can't remember specifically). And a bite of everythiing together was just perfect. I loved that first course.

For our second courses, we both ordered the Baby Bleu salad, and I added spiced pecans to mine. This salad had spinach, egg, tomato, avocado, bleu cheese vinaigrette, gorgonzola, and bacon. Yep, pretty much the perfect salad.

I wasn't really blown away by my third course, the scallops and gnocchi dish, but I liked it fine enough. I'm not really sure if I've had gnocchi before, but I've heard of it and it sounded like it could be good. But I wasn't a fan too much, and the dish was mostly gnocchi. Like gnocchi overload. And only 2 scallops. Plump scallops, but still. I wanted more of em, cuz the little bit I did get was tasty.

I did however LOVE PJ's dish, the filet oscar. It was one of the best steaks. It melted in my mouth. Perfectly cooked. And that sauce and crab set it over the top. I was longing for more of his dish! But I kept my cool and only had one bite :)  I should have ordered that, and definitely will next time we go back.

Can't wait to go back and try out some other appetizers and salads possibly, and to definitely get my taste buds on that filet oscar! Who knows, maybe one of us will be daring and order some wild boar.

Peace, and bacon grease!

Brown Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon

Blueberry Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling {Crazy Cooking Challenge}

Hey yall! 

I'm back for April's Crazy Cooking Challenge, and this month's theme was blueberry muffins!

So many to choose from in this big blogging world! But I eventually decided on Baking Glory's Blueberry Muffins with Cream Cheese. These muffins were amazing. I loved the cheese cheese filling, and the light lemon flavor from the zest. I initially just looked at the ingredient list and didn't read the note about blueberry jam too, so next time I'd definitely try the blueberry jam addition.


Blueberry Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp zest from 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place muffin liners on the bottoms of the muffin tray. If you don't have liners, just butter or spray the tray well to prevent sticking.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add sugar and zest from 1 lemon to the flour mixture and mix well. 

In a separate small or medium bowl, mix vegetable oil, egg, milk, and vanilla extract together. Slowly incorporate wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, but don't overmix. Mix in the blueberries.

For the cream cheese filling, in a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp lemon zest until smooth. 

Fill each cup up halfway with half of the muffin batter. Next add 1 tsp cream cheese filling into each cup and cover with the remaining muffin batter. 

Bake for 20 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in comes out clean. Let cool on rack. Makes 12 muffins.

This was a great breakfast treat for our lazy Saturday morning, without school or work. I usually prefer savory breakfast foods over things like muffins and pastries and such, but these muffins will change a girl's mind. Oh, and they're perfect with a little butter too. 

Check out all the other blueberry muffin recipes in the blog hop below:

Linking up here.

Peace, and bacon grease!

April 5, 2012

Bacon and Avocado Topped Deviled Eggs {Holiday Recipe Club: Easter!}

Whoa there, it's been some time since I've posted a recipe. I'm sorry! I hate myself for it. Ok that's taking it a bit far, but I do feel guilt over it. I just can't find as much time to post recipes and take natural light photos. Not to mention I still haven't learned how to use my new dslr. Which isn't really new anymore because I've had it since December and my lens since January or February. Anybody wanna come to my house and give me a personal dslr lesson? Anyone?

I did find the time to participate in this month's Holiday Recipe Club challenge for Easter, and we had to make something using one or more of these three ingredients: spinach, carrots, or eggs. I chose eggs, cuz it's Easter duh. And what goes perfect with Easter?

Yep. Deviled eggs.

Not just any deviled eggs. Deviled eggs topped with two of my favorite things: bacon and avocado. Say what?! Yes, you read that right. 

(I changed the name so that people wouldn't be mistaken that these were deviled eggs filled with an avocado mixture, because I've seen recipes like that. These are just normal deviled eggs topped with bacon and avocado). 

Bacon and Avocado Topped Deviled Eggs
slightly adapted from Lady Behind the Curtain
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 slices of thick-cut or center-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 of an avocado, sliced or diced
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to top
Place eggs in a single layer in a 4-quart pot. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by at least an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 12-15 minutes. Drain. Run cold water over the eggs until cool enough to touch. Peel eggs and slice in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a medium bowl. Set whites aside.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook bacon over low-medium heat until crisp. Drain grease; set aside. In a bowl, mash egg yolks with a fork. Add mayo, mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to mix. 

Cut avocado into 12 equal pieces; toss with lemon juice. Pipe or spoon egg yolk mixture into egg whites halves. Top with an avocado piece and bacon piece(s). Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Cover and chill up to 4 hours. Makes 12.

Definitely top them with larger pieces of bacon and avocado though, like Sheryl did. What was I thinking depriving those deviled eggs of more bacon and avocado? I was trying to make mine all pretty for the camera, but afterwards I topped them with more bacon and avocado pieces. I love the crunch from the bacon and the added flavor from the avocados. I've already thought about making them again this week. Yep, that soon.

These deviled eggs would be perfect to take to an Easter gathering or if you're staying home, make some for the fam! I just may whip some up to take to my mama's house this weekend. I'm sure she'd appreciate some help with the menu.

Oh, and you can always make these when it's not Easter time. You know, pretty much any time of day and for any occasion. Or lack of an occasion. 

Basically, just make em. K? Thanks.

Linking up here.

Peace, and bacon grease!

April 4, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday... Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, Easter, and Besties

Hey yall! 

I'm back for another What I'm Loving Wednesday post.

I'm loving this restaurant I tried for the first time called Brown Dog Cafe. No, they don't serve you brown dog (not sure what's up with that name!). But they do serve delicious bread and soft garlic, filet oscar, and scallops. Review coming eventually. Check out my review!

I'm loving that I don't have class tonight or Saturday! Yay for Easter breaks!!!

Speaking of Easter, I'm loving that this Sunday is Easter and I get to celebrate with my family. Maybe, just maybe, my mama will get me an Easter basket? Filled with chocolate bunnies and Reese's peanut butter eggs? Pretty please?

Speaking of peanut butter eggs, I'm loving that I can make my own homemade version like these bad boys!


Must make.

I'm loving this salad that we made for dinner last night, with some changes. Loved that dressing. Didn't take any photos though cuz I ran out of natural light (grr!!) but we'll be making it again I'm sure.

I'm loving these cute cobalt beach pants I got from Victoria Secret for super discount!! Comfy, bright, and fun.


And finally I'm loving that this Saturday I get to catch up with my bestie for dinner and shopping. I've missed that girl! 

And I have a big face.

What are you all loving this week?

Peace, and bacon grease!

Linking up here.