Chicken and Bacon Rotini

Chicken and Bacon Rotini
Chicken and pasta with bacon. I’m in. Every. Single. Time. What I love about this pasta dish, well it would probably be easier for me to tell you what I don’t like about it. That would be that somebody else wasn’t making it for me. That’s about it. There are so many plus items for this dish. It’s made in less than 30 minutes. You can use leftover grilled chicken and bacon to save time. Before the emails start flying into my inbox asking how does anyone have leftover bacon let me tell you. You have to HIDE a few slices when you’re cooking it for breakfast and then you can use it during your evening cooking. Simple. That is if you’re good at hiding things. Otherwise just plan on making more bacon. There are worse things.

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Caprese Cracker Bites

Cracker Caprese Bites

Spring is in the air. FINALLY. Can I get a halleluiah? It’s been a long hard COLD winter and I’m looking forward to all things spring and summer. Including entertaining. We love to have people over all year round but especially when the weather is warmer and the days are longer. Having friends over doesn’t mean things have to be fussy. I’m not into fussy dinners. They’re nice every once in a while (you know when I want to be stressed out to the max because that’s what ends up happening) but for the most part I like jeans and t-shirt kind of entertaining.

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Motorcycle Road Racing Series – VIR

MotoAmerica - photo credit Brian J. Nelson 1Photo Credit: Brian J Nelson

I like a lot things and one of those just happens to be motorcycles. I’ve been riding on the back of motorcycles since I was a kid. My Dad had a Kawasaki with what I can only describe as a banana seat that I thought was just the best since thing sliced bread. Everytime I had the chance I was on the back with my braids flying in the wind and a huge smile plastered on my face (you quickly learn to not smile if you don’t want to eat bugs – truth). My Mother sat in the fetal position and rocked every time we went out and to this day when I tell her I’m going on a bike trip I get the same comments. My response is “duly noted”.  I still have my braids flying in the wind but these days it’s on a Harley. This weekend my family and I are headed to VIR (Virginia International Raceway) to experience MotoAmerica. It’s our first superbike event and I think I’m probably more excited than my kids. These riders go round that track at speeds nearing 200 mph . Just wow.

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DIY Coconut Lime Salt Scrub

Salt Scrub Ingredients

I love making homemade scrubs all year long but it seems like I really get into them in the spring and summer. Something about showing a little extra skin and all and wanting to be prepared. Yes I like to be prepared. I was a girl scout after all. No one wants to have ashy, grey and dull looking skin right? We took a trip to OBX last month during bike week. The ocean is one of my happy places. I gravitate to it. It’s so calm and peaceful which is the complete opposite of my life in general so maybe that’s why I’m all about the ocean. Deep and salty. Very salty. Which brings me back to this salt scrub.

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Flourless Black Forest Cake

Flourless Black Forest Cake

Don’t let the flourless fool you, this cake is absolutely amazing, and yes you can make a cake without flour. I have to say (and I’ve probably said this before) but I had my reservations when I first started making flourless cakes way back when. I mean a cake without flour? How and can that even be good? The answer to all the things is YES. This my friends is a whole lot of dark chocolate gluten free goodness on a plate and you should make it immediately.

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Pink Lemonade Icebox Pie

Pink Lemonde Icebox Pie

With the weather about to start heating up the last thing I will want to do will be to heat up my oven and by default my kitchen. Air conditioning is expensive yeah? I make A LOT of no bake treats in the spring and summer. My sweet tooth can not suffer because I don’t want to spend more on my air conditioning bill. That would be negligent of me. I can’t let that happen, it would be shameful. Hello no bake beauties. These are so simple it’s almost a non recipe. Simple is a good thing so let’s just focus on that.

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Sauteed Sprouts and Shrooms Hash with Bacon

Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Hash
If you’re not enjoying the deliciousness that are Brussels Sprouts you’re missing out. These aren’t the boiled Brussels that you might have grown up gagging on (or maybe that was just me). Yep boiled Brussels are the worst and admittedly kept me away from Brussels for many years. Thanks Mom. Even my childhood dog wouldn’t eat them boiled nd that’s saying something, that dog at ALL the things. Good things I discovered that roasting or sauteing them is a game changer. Now it’s game on.

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Eye Give Back

Wondering how you can take care of your vision and help a child in need of vision care? One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem. Right now, when you purchase an individual vision insurance plan from VSP Direct™ for as low as $17/month, a child in need receives a free eye exam and glasses, up to a retail value of $1 million. Find out more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack. Thanks to VSP for sponsoring this post.

Glasses
Being able to see all the things that are going on right in front of me is a blessing. Like when my children smile and it gets me all tingly inside (oh I should have warned you there would be mushy stuff in this one) when they scrunch their noses and and I can tell from the look on their  faces that something is off. I am so grateful to see that so I can do my best to fix it. Without my vision I would miss all those little things and we haven’t even talked about the big things. Their vision is just as important to me.

With good vision, anything is possible. Your vision is one of your most valuable assets, don’t lose sight of protecting it. Have you thought about Vision Insurance?  The ability to see the world is less costly than you think. Vision protection can help you see the world in a new light. VSP® Vision Care is the largest not-for-profit company that offers vision benefits and services in the US. They have launched a program called #EyeGiveBack and now through June 30, 2015 when a VSP Direct™ individual vision insurance plan is purchased through VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack, VSP will be donating an eye exam and glasses to a child in need (up to a retail value of $1 million)! You can learn more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack where they are committed to building a better future for children in need!

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Enhance Your Water With DASANI DROPS

DaSani Drops
I try to drink A LOT of water each day and encourage my family to as well. I like to stay hydrated, my body feels better when I do and I think my skin looks better too. Now drinking all that water and getting my kids to as well isn’t always an easy task. How do I get around that? I add a little flavor to said water and now, just like magic, we’ve got a whole new outlook on drinking the daily recommended water. DASANI DROPS are a great way to enhance your water anytime, anwhere. It’s UNSWEETENED, naturally flavored, with no color added and has ZERO calories. DASANI DROPS comes in two inspired flavors: Lime and Strawberry Basil (my favorite of the two). One 1.9 fl. oz. bottle measures up to 32 servings! 

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Espresso Buttercream

Espresso Buttercream

Coffee ain’t just for drinking friends. Nope, it’s also for doing all kinds of other stuff with, like turning it into a beautiful blissed out buttercream. If you like COFFEE as much as I do you’re going to love this hopped up espresso buttercream. It’s going to give your dessert a little kick in the caffeinated pants. I mean that’s if you can manage to not eat all of it before it’s time to slather it onto a cake, or cupcakes, or between two cookies. Whatever you’ve got handy, a spoon. We won’t judge.

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Classic Homemade Dinner Rolls

 

Homemade Dinner Rolls

Want to know what one of my favorite things about eating out at a restaurant is? Well besides not having to cook or do the dishes because I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was a big bonus? It’s a rare occasion when anyone in general cooks for me (and when they do I most certainly DO appreciate it). I have to tell you the BREAD basket they bring to the table is what does it for me. Yep. I love the smell, the texture, the way butter melts right off of a warm bit. The way a piece of homemade bread just melts in your mouth. There is really nothing like homemade bread. It’s those extra little touches, like having a basket (or board) of bread out at the beginning of the meal that sets to the tone for the meal and conversation.

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Honey and Pistachio Panna Cotta

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
It’s APRIL tomorrow people. I just can’t believe it. Where has the first quarter of this year gone? It’s passed me by in a cold white flash I guess. Not that I’m not looking forward to spring. Real spring that is. The one with flowers popping up, much much warm weather, my hands in the garden, cute wedges on my feet and lots of wind therapy and tangled hair from the open road. Not this current bi-polar spring that is going on. I’ve got whip lash trying to keep up. Heater on. Heater off. Shorts sleeves. Long sleeves. Gah. I’m going to drown myself in a few cups of this panna cotta and all will be well until the weather makes up it’s mind.

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Easy Ragu Sauce

Easy Italian Ragu Sauce

I love a good meat sauce. What’s not to love, it’s hearty stick to your ribs kinda food. Sometimes though I don’t have the time that my beloved BOLOGNESE sauce takes to make. No fear our easy Italian Ragu Sauce comes to the rescue. It takes about 1/4 of the time that our Bolognese sauce takes to make and tastes out of this world. It starts with Johnsonville’s sweet Italian ground sausage, which has a lot of flavor packed right in there. What does that mean besides it tastes amazing? That means there’s less spices we have to the pot. Win. Win.

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Greek Coffee

Greek Coffee
I have a coffee problem. Meaning if I don’t have my morning cup (or two okay usually two who am I kidding) there’s going to be a problem. Up until recently I had never heard of the deliciousness that is Greek (also called Turkish) coffee. Have you tried this coffee? It’s pretty incredible and guess what? It’s EASY to make. You will need to have a special pot called a BRIKI (pictured above). Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s typically a small copper or brass (or sometimes stainless steel) pot that’s narrow at the top and wider toward the bottom. This allows the coffee grounds to easily fall to the bottom. I felt so dainty holding onto the long handle and pouring. Almost fancy schmancy. Hey I take it where I can get it.

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Mushroom and Leek Spaghetti Carbonara

Mushroom and Leek Spaghetti Carbonara
If you’ve known me for any length of time you KNOW that Spaghetti alla Carbonara is my hands down all time favorite meal. It’s the meal I would eat ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY. That’s if I had a super ramped up metabolism and/or didn’t gain any weight no matter what I shoveled into my mouth. I of course am not blessed with that metabolism. Nope, and if you are one of those VERY lucky people, please don’t tell me. That wouldn’t make me like you very much and I really want to like you.

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Spaghetti with Sweet Potato and Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with Sweet Potato and Tomato Sauce

Sweet potatoes aren’t just for baking.  Nope, apparently they make a creamy dreamy addition to tomato sauce. Who knew? Apparently Food and Wine. That’s who. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t try it myself so I understand if you’ve got an arched brow at the moment. I saw this recipe online and had that same reaction. Curiosity got the best of me, that happens a lot. So yep I gave it a go and I’m happy I did. I love making sauces with CARROTS and other vegetables so this being scrumptious shouldn’t have surprised me.

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Slow Cooker Beer Brats

Slow Cooker Beer Brats
If you know me you know I don’t drink beer. At all. I gave it the good old college try, in well you guessed it, college. Beer was cheap and my measly student budget was practically non existent so beer was the obvious choice but alas I could never choke it down so I made friends with Jim and Jack instead and just saw them on a less frequent basis. My dislike of drinking beer hasn’t changed after all these years. I don’t however have a problem cooking with beer. Kind of like how I’m not a fan of cucumbers but like pickles. I know. I know, ’tis weird but it works for me. What also works for me are these slow cooker beer brats.

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Small Batch Blood Orange Curd

Blood Orange Curd
Have I mentioned how much we absolutely are coo coo for coco puffs over blood oranges? Well we are. We’ve been buying them up every time we’re at the market and will keep doing so until they’re gone. I might actually cry at that point. I know it’s coming soon (sniff sniff) but I won’t be able to help myself.  I should probably go ahead and put a travel pack of puffs in my purse. I wish blood orange season was longer but I will take them in bulk as long as we can get our hands on them.

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Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

You might have heard these bars called by a few different names: Millionaire Bars, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Copycat Twix Bars. Whatever you call them (I’m leaning towards sticky fingers chocolate bars myself), you won’t be able to stop after one. They’re the perfect mix of sweet and salty and will satisfy your sweet tooth craving in a big way. Instead of making our own shortbread for this recipe, we’ve taken a shortcut and used our favorite shortbread rounds by Walkers. You know the ones. They have a distinctive taste and simply melt in your mouth . In a word they are butteriffic.

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Mango Avocado Tuna Stacks

Mango Avocado Tuna Stacks
As I’m sitting here looking out my window and seeing a BLANKET of WHITE (yes we’re having yet another snow day here), I’m dreaming about warmer weather and quick, simple and flavorful foods. Had I known that my kids would have been out of school for yes count them TWO weeks because of said weather we might have planned a vacation to someplace tropical where I’m certain we would have been able to nosh on things like this Mango Avocado Tuna stack. Since that didn’t happen I can always pretend I’m off to warmer weather and make these myself. If I close my eyes and sit in front of the fireplace it “almost” feels like it.

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