Friday, February 26, 2016

Gram's French Toast with Berry Butter

 This is NOT what constitutes a healthy, low-fat, or low-carb breakfast...I know, but sometimes you just need a little something naughty to get you going in the morning...

Gram's French Toast with Berry Butter

To make berry butter you simply whip 1 stick of room temperature butter until smooth.

Add in fresh blackberries (I used about 1/2 cup) and stir just a few times until the berries break up.

You can refrigerate the butter for a little bit but we like ours soft, so I just set it aside while I whip up the french toast.

**We -ish it around here but if you refer to The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier, you will find a very similar recipe with many more explicit instructions**

French Toast

**Some people are picky about the type of bread that they use for french toast. I am not...I just think that any type of squishy bread will work. I almost always make french toast on a whim so I just use whatever I have in the pantry, which is usually just plain old white bread... but feel free to experiment with different types if you'd like.**


3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Slices of bread 
Butter, for frying


Break the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl and whisk to break up the yolks. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and whisk to blend. 

Place a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat and put in enough butter to completely coat the bottom of the skillet. This is not the time to worry about calories...don't skimp on the butter. This is what will make the outside nice and crispy while the insides are soft and creamy.

While the butter is melting, dip the bread into the egg mixture until the bread feels heavy and thoroughly saturated.

Place the bread into the skillet. Cook until the underside is golden brown... about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook the other side until golden, another 2 minutes. 

Remove from skillet, place on plate, slather with berry butter and hot maple syrup.

Now let's see that again...

So good...Enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Sometimes when life is getting you down the best thing to do is grab a few people that you love, throw on an apron, and bake a cake. Then, when you are all done, go ahead and give it away to someone who you believe needs it more than you do.
 You will seriously make their day with this one.

You will need
these ingredients to make
the Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Here are 
the directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Spray three 8 inch round cake pans. In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugar, eggs,buttermilk oil and vanilla extract. 
2. Carefully add in the boiling water. Mix well for about 1 minute. 

Batter will be very thin. It's not like most cake batters. Don't worry it is NOT ruined!

3. Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-20 minutes (until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). Let cool.

You will need
these ingredients to make the 
Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1 cup salted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk

Here are the 

1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter until creamy. 2.  Gradually add the sugar. 
3. When it starts to get thick, add the milk a little bit at a time until  the frosting is spreadable. 
4. Beat for 3 minutes or until fluffy.

You will need
these ingredients to make the 
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Here are 
the directions:

1. Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a metal bowl. 
2. Heat cream over medium heat. Watch it closely and immediately remove from heat when it starts to boil. 
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Let sit for 2 minutes. 
4. Slowly stir the mixture until all of the chips have completely melted and its thoroughly combined. 
5. Stir in the vanilla and corn syrup. Let the ganache cool to thicken.

How to Assemble the Cake:

1. Open a 12 oz. bag of Reese's miniatures. Put aside 12 to garnish your cake and chop the rest. 

2.  Place a small amount of peanut butter frosting onto the cake stand or serving dish and place one of the chocolate cakes on the frosting.   
3. Slide small pieces of wax paper under the cake in order to keep your plate nice and clean while you frost. 
4. Spread peanut butter frosting on the first layer.
5. Sprinkle a layer of Reese's on top. Press them down into the frosting. {You're supposed to use a spatula, but fingers work, too!} 

6. Repeat with the second cake layer. 
 7. Place your third cake layer on top, then cover the whole cake with peanut butter frosting. 
(Need help stacking& frosting a cake...check out this short video for a few hints)

8. Pour ganache on the top of the cake, and smooth it with a spatula. 
9. Garnish the cake with a little extra frosting and your remaining Reese's. 
10. Carefully remove the waxed paper and enjoy!

Thank you Pinterest &  Robin . For this Yumminess!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Book A Week~ The Sea of Tranquility

I read The Sea of Tranquility a couple of years ago and then re-read it this week to see if it would be appropriate for my younger daughter to read.  It is the story of two teens who are trying to cope after tragedy. Raw, intense and not especially uplifting has a lot of mature content for a teen novel so I'm not sure if I would recommend for younger teens...but I totally recommend this book for young {and older} adults. 
My 17 year old daughter also read this book and LOVED it... One of my favorite reads, even the second time through.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Weekly Intention and Meal Plan

My weekly intention: This week I want to rest, catch up on sleep and have fun with my family and friends. 

Choices I Want to Make:
  • One: I will choose to get more sleep, practice intentional eating and drink more water.
  • Two: I will choose to spend more time having fun with my family.
  • Three: I will choose to exercise most days.
Top Goals this Week:
Work: I'm on vacation but will get all of my plans done for the upcoming weeks.
Personal: Exercise. Drink more water. Write a day in a list{from Dina Wakely's journaling class} and complete more journal pages. Actually have the courage to post pictures of my art here. 
Family: Send a care package to Andrew. Be patient. Use kind words. Do something fun!

This Week to remember:
  • That it is ok to sit down and rest. My days do not need to be scheduled down to the minute. I want to have fun this week.
One thing that helps me to combat the evening chaos is having all of my meals planned for the week. 

Here's what we are eating this week:

Homemade pizza and buffalo chicken tenders {seriously...try the honey garlic pizza- it's amazing!}

Steak fajitas with onions and peppers and homemade guacamole

Chicken noodle soup and homemade bread

Pork loin with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, applesauce and green beans


Spicy Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread

Roasted chicken with cheesy potatoes and broccoli

Lasagna, garlic bread and tossed salad

I hope you join me in setting your weekly intentions and also in meal planning. I am linking up at in order to stay motivated! Hope you have a great week!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Three Cheese Chicken Penne~ Applebee's Style

Here is our version of our favorite Applebee's dish. I've tried making it a bunch of different ways and this recipe comes pretty darn close to the real thing.

Now, I think the secret is in the sauce, Alfredo sauce that is. Of course you can use a jar of prepared Alfredo sauce but you NEED to try the recipe for a quick and easy Alfredo sauce at some really does make all the difference.

You'll need 



  •   4 chicken breasts
  •   1/3 cup zesty Italian salad dressing
  •   1 pound penne pasta
  •   Alfredo Sauce (see recipe below) 
  •   8 oz. package shredded Italian cheese 
  •   4 tomatoes~ chopped (seeds & pulp removed)
  •   1 teaspoon basil
  •   2 cloves garlic(minced)
  •   5 tablespoons olive oil
  •   pinch of sea salt



1.  Marinate the chicken in the Italian dressing for 30 minutes.

2.  In a small bowl mix together chopped tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil and a pinch of sea salt. Set aside.

3.  Cook penne according to instructions on box.

4.  Grill chicken. Baste with additional Italian dressing while grilling. Slice grilled chicken.

5.  Place some pasta in a bowl.

6.  Cover the pasta with alfredo sauce. Toss to coat.

7.  Spoon 2 tablespoons of the tomato mixture on top of the pasta.

8.  Add a layer of chicken.

9.  Add a layer of shredded cheese. 

10.  Microwave for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce

You'll need 



  •   1/2 cup butter
  •   1(8 oz.) package cream cheese
  •   2 teaspoons garlic powder
  •   2 cups milk
  •   6 ounces fresh grated parmesan cheese
  •   1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper



1.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

2.  Add cream cheese and garlic powder, stirring until smooth.

3.  Add milk, a little bit at a time, whisking to smooth out any lumps. 

4.  Stir in parmesan and pepper. 

5.  Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency. 

This sauce thickens quickly, you can thin with milk if it thickens too rapidly.

Recipe adapted from

It is very filling and not at all low-fat!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Book a Week~ For You

I read For You by Kristen Ashley because it popped up in my Scribd feed. It was a quick read and I read it in 2 days. Honestly, the story line was good... Alec Colton and Feb Owens were high school sweethearts until one night when everything changes. Feb broke Col's heart then she turned wild, left home and then tragedy struck. Fifteen years later, Feb returns home to work in her family's small town bar and someone starts 'hacking up' people in Feb's life. Bodies start piling up, the story unravels and Feb and Colt battle their enduring attraction and the history that weaves them together. 
The ending was decent but the book has spots where it drags. Overall, not terrible but definitely not one of my favorite reads and I'm not sure I will continue on with the series. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Weekly Intention & Meal Plan

My weekly intention: This week I want to slow down. Pause. ...and be patient. I want to be the mom and wife, standing at the door with a smile- my heart wide open and love pouring out when my favorite people walk through it. I want to be aware and awake through every moment of each day, even during the challenging times.

No yelling or screaming or rushing...just calm and peaceful. 

So, when my girls are trying to draw me into an argument or when I come home to a sink full of dirty dishes and a stinky guinea pig cage that needs to be changed again... I will notice how it feels to say nothing. 

When I look into the laundry room and see heaps of dirty laundry piling up, or spots on the kitchen floor that I just washed yesterday, and gobs of toothpaste in bathroom sink...I will pay attention to the anger and irritation stirring inside my soul...I will say nothing. 

I will simply own my frustrations and ask myself...will any of these things matter in a month, in a year, in two years from now?  Is it worth it to waste my time and energy on yelling at my husband and kids? Is it worth it to lose my patience and say things I don't mean? 

I don't think so...the girls will stop arguing with me, the floor may get wiped, the dishes will get put in the dishwasher, and the cage will be cleaned. At some point some of the laundry will get washed, folded and put away{let's be honest, the pile is never going away completely} and the toothpaste will get washed down the drain...

So, this week I will slow down, observe the most trying moments of my days and see them for what they are...fleeting moments in time that will pass...whether I say a word or not. No sense in yelling or screaming or making a fuss. This is my amazing life and this week I want to slow down. Pause. and enjoy it for what it is.

Choices I Want to Make:
  • One: I will choose to get more sleep. I find that when I am tired, my patience wanes...
  • Two: I will choose to spend more time with the girls. I will plan a girls night out...just the three of us.
  • Three: I will choose to reach out to my mom and let her know how much I love and appreciate her. 
Top Goals this Week:
Work: Finally cross the two projects off of my list and get them posted in my TPT store.
Personal: Exercise. Drink more water. Write a day in a list{from Dina Wakely's journaling class} and complete more journal pages. Actually have the courage to post pictures of my art here. 
Family: Send a care package to Andrew. Be patient. Use kind words. Do something fun!

This Week to remember:
  • That it is my mood and behavior that sets the tone of our home. I want my home to be a place of refuge and unconditional love...I need to remember that in my actions and words.
One thing that helps me to combat the evening chaos is having all of my meals planned for the week. 

Here's what we are eating this week:

Eating out to celebrate Lindsey's basketball season coming to an end!

Chicken tetrazzini and tossed salad

Swedish Meatballs(in crockpot), egg noodles and steamed broccoli

Lazy pierogi with polish sausage

Chicken fajita salads


Eating out to celebrate my mom's birthday!

I hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Book a Week ~The Language of Flowers

”Every decision I’d ever made had led me here, and I wanted to take it all back, the hatred and the blame and the violence. I wanted to have lunch with my angry ten-year-old self, to warn her of this morning and give her the flowers to point her in a different direction.”

I read The Language of Flowers because my friend recommended it. It's the story of a young girl, Victoria, who has grown up in and out of foster care...not knowing how to give or receive love, she understands the world through a language of flowers- taught to her by one of her foster mothers. Her challenge is to navigate the world on her own after aging out of the system with little in the way of education or social skills.  It's a tender story of redemption, forgiveness and motherhood.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Apple Strudel Muffins

Apple muffins with a delicious cinnamon crumb topping. 

 I made these to take to my son at college this weekend.  He loves apples and pretty much anything with apples in it...These disappeared pretty quickly with all the boys around. 


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2  cups chopped apples
For topping:
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
  3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan. 
  5. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool on a wire rack. 

Recipe adapted from Apple Strudel muffins

Monday, February 1, 2016

Movie Night~McFarland, USA

This week's movie was McFarland, USA, and it is a good one! 
This movie is based on the compelling true story of a group of runners from McFarland, a faming town in California's Central Valley, and how under the guidance of a down-on-his-luck coach, Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school, they overcome the odds to build a championship winning cross-country team and an enduring legacy.

Our dinner:

Enchiladas - These were incredible!

Churros- Pretty good recipe...easy to make!

Some Talking Points for After the Movie:
  • How does Coach White's attitude towards the boys change during the course of the movie?
  • How is the Hispanic culture portrayed in this movie? What are the positive things? How about some negative things?
  • How did the members of the community reach out to the coach and his wife? Have you ever witnessed something similar in our community?
  • How can athletic success lead to academic opportunities? 
  • What actions does the coach take to help the boys better themselves?
You might find it interesting to read about the McFarland team here.
Have fun!