Carnival Sunshine: Western Caribbean

 

Carnival Sunshine
I have to tell you cruising is one of our favorite family vacations! This is our second year taking a cruise as a family and it won’t be our last. Why do we all love it? It might be easier to tell you what we don’t like (which is simply that it took a long time to drive to Florida.) There are five people in our family and our kids range from 8 – 17 (how did that happen gah) read they have VERY different ideas of fun. On a Carnival cruise there is literally something for EVERYONE in our family to do to keep us entertained as well as more choices to eat and drink than you can shake a stick at available at all times of the day or night. 24/7 people. I haven’t even talked about the views and the destinations – which are amazing.

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Baked Ziti with Cauliflower

Baked Ziti with Cauliflower
I think cauliflower falls under that category of (somewhat) shunned vegetables in the produce section. You know the ones like eggplant, brussels sprouts, parsnips. They just sit there all sad looking while they get passed by for the broccoli or carrots. Tsk Tsk. It’s really a shame. I think if everyone who thought they didn’t like cauliflower had a taste of this they’d change their tune and become a new found cauliflower advocate cheerleader like me. Maybe next time I’m in the market (which is pretty much Every. Single. Day.) I’ll stand in the produce section telling people they should give it a go. Pass out recipe cards. Toss a head of cauliflower into their baskets while they weren’t looking. Everybody is always in a rush you think they’d even notice? That wouldn’t get me kicked out of the store would it?

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Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

My Mom makes some of the best homemade salsa I’ve ever tasted. I think a lot of that has to do with just about every ingredient that goes into her recipe comes from her garden. She of course changes this recipe every single time she makes it so It’s never the same. I think she does this so she doesn’t have to give me the recipe. Luckily she does share the salsa. When I’m home for visits I swap out my empty mason jars for full jars of homegrown tomatoes and salsa. Lots and lots of salsa.

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Boozy Raisin Apple Turnovers

Boozy Raisin and Apple Turnovers
I absolutely adore turnovers. Apple turnovers to be specific. The way that the puff pastry dough crunches and goes everywhere (I’ve learned to lean over my plate to save myself from getting out the broom afterwards or the sink – what you don’t eat over the sink?) giving way to the sweet, thick apple pie like filling. Yep swoon. Now that I think about it I don’t make them much during the year, usually just around the holidays. I’m not sure exactly why I don’t make them more often being that I love them so much. What am I thinking? I should really rectify that. Maybe I’ll set a turnover weekend date once a month.

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DIY Glitter Rimmed Mason Jars

DIY Glitter Rimmed Mason Jars

We’re getting our GLITTER on today! Literally, it’s in all the places. BUT these jars are so gorgeous I’m going to ignore the fact that I now look like a disco ball. They are absolutely perfect for not only the holidays (these will so be gracing my New Year’s Eve Table) but I can even see these for birthdays, weddings, engagement parties okay pretty much for anything and everything that you want to add a little sparkle to. You do want to sparkle don’t you?

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Rosemary and Caramelized Onion Quick Bread

Caramelized Onion and Rosemary Quick Bread
I have a thing for bread. I’m that girl that will eat the whole basket of bread at the restaurant and then end up being too full to finish off my entree. Every. Single. Time. Will I ever learn? Probably not. Thank goodness for to go boxes. I also love to bake bread. That feeling of having dough between your hands. Yeah, I dig that. It’s therapeutic. I don’t do it often enough. I wish I could say I had the time or patience. That whole sitting around waiting for it to rise to the occasion. The occasion that it’s time to get the show on the road and get into the oven so it can get into my belly. That occasion. It just doesn’t come fast enough for me.

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Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes are a thing of beauty to me.  They’re also something I’m pretty particular about. I like them the way I like them, what can I say. I’m not a fan of texture in my mashed potatoes. I like them creamy and SMOOTH. I get them that way by using my KitchenAid stand mixer. Ruby (my mixer – what, don’t you name your small appliances?) has a permanent spot on my counter top and is used almost daily for this that and the other. Today she’s mashing potatoes. A few spins around using the paddle attachment and you’ll have yourself the smoothest mashed potatoes on the cul-de-sac. I can’t tell you how many of those potato mashing gadgets I’ve broken in my lifetime before I discovered the mixer trick. Did I mention that it also keeps those mashed potatoes piping hot thanks to the stainless steel bowl ; ) Truth. 

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Spicy Dark Chocolate Espresso Roasted Almonds

Spicy Espresso Roasted Almonds
The holidays are here which means we’re all seriously BUSY running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  Between the shopping, the planning, the cleaning the COOKING things are just NUTS. Literally! These spicy dark chocolate espresso roasted nuts are perfect for snacking and YES even holiday gift giving! I don’t know about you but I love edible gifts. I’d much rather have some tasty treat vs. an ugly Christmas sweater that’s never going to see the light of day (well unless there’s an ugly Christmas sweater party to go to). Amen? These chocolatey caffeinated bursts of bliss come together quickly. A few tosses of ingredients and then you’ll just pop them into a low oven for a bit. Before you know it you’ll be getting your snack on.

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Apple Cinnamon Dutch Baby

Apple Cinnamon Dutch Baby
“What the heck is a Dutch Baby and why would we be eating one?” Questions asked by my children while serving this for BRINNER the other night. I can understand that they might be confused but there’s no confusing how delicious these little puffs of pancake are. You might have heard these referred to as: a German pancake, a Bismarck, or a Dutch puff. I think of them as a cross between a popover and a pancake with the added bonus that it doesn’t have to be flipped. Nope. You mix up this beauty and then pop it into your cast iron skillet and then into the oven. Quick and easy.

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Favorite Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Table

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Well almost.  We know with over 1000 recipes here on our site searching can be cumbersome. Heck, even I sometimes forget a recipe until I run across it. To help make things easier (because cooking for a crowd is stressful enough), we’ve compiled all of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes in one easy to find post. We’ve included everything from starters to sides, the starring attraction and of course sweets! Because we’re never one to do the minimum, we’ve even thrown in a DIY table scape project (easy enough for even novice crafters) and a few recipes to use with your leftovers for good measure!

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Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs
Ask and ye shall receive. At least in the case of crock-pot slow cooker recipes. I love getting emails from you awesome readers (well almost all of you – there is this one person  ehem … ) telling me you made something and loved it, asking me where I purchased an item, asking for more of a certain type of recipe.  Lately I have been inundated with requests for more crock-pot slow cooker recipes. Perfect timing because I’ve partnered with Crock-Pot® Slow Cookers to bring you a few recipes using their new Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker WeMo Enabled. What does that mean? It means that it works with your smart device (Android and Apple) to let you easily adjust cook settings … from virtually anywhere. Technology is (most days unless it locks me out of something) awesome.

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Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Sauce

Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Sauce
Holy cow, next week is THANKSGIVING! Yes, gobble gobble until we can’t wobble. I will be enjoying my Mom’s cooking this year. Happy. Happy. Dance. I don’t care how ehem old I get, there’s nothing like your Mamma’s cooking is there? What I’m most looking forward to is talking her into making Turkey and Dumplings with the leftover 10 pounds of turkey that I KNOW we’ll have. My Mom has ALWAYS over cooked. I’m guessing it stems from the years of always having extra guests at our table. My Dad was forever bringing home Air Force boys with no family in town. It made for a rowdy meal (with the mandatory embarrassing stories) but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Go Blue ; )

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Spicy Sausage Balls

Spicy Sausage Balls

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sargento for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

I can’t believe that the year is almost over. The shorter days, the fact that’s it’s now dark by 5pm (sigh), the COLD temperatures and the sheer amount of appetizer recipes that are being searched for on the site all tell me this is true. It also tells me that it’s time to share a few more easy and effortless appetizers with y’all. Wouldn’t want you to not have options. That would be a shame. Today we’re going way back to a family favorite. Sausage balls. Not just any regular sausage balls, oh no, SPICY sausage balls. Now IF you don’t happen to like spicy, you’re welcome to simply substitute a milder Italian sausage for the hot. We won’t hold it against you. Much.

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Mushroom Gourgeres

Mushroom Gourgeres
Gourgeres is a fancy schmany word for cheese biscuits. Or at least that’s how I’m choosing to describe them. Now I’ve heard people go on for days about how amazing cheese biscuits from a certain lobster restaurant that is the color of scarlet. I am telling you these little cheesy gourgeres are WAY better. In my little humble opinion of course, but it’s mine all mine and I’m sticking to my guns. I’ve made several variations of these little cheese pillows and this one with MUSHROOMS is high on my list of favorites.  It’s pretty much impossible to eat just one. Go ahead and try. I’ll wait.

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Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuff it! I meant that in the nicest possible way of course. We’re stuffing ‘shrooms because they’re obviously delicious and because it’s appetizer season. Small bites rule the roost for the next little while and stuffed shrooms are one of the simplest and crowd pleasing appetizers you can put together. They grace just about every restaurant menu (read they’re good people, really good). Not to mention you can stuff them with just about anything your heart desires. Today our heart desires SAUSAGE and CHEESE please. What could be bad about those two? Um, nothing.

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Easy Under Sink Organization

Under Sink Cabinet After
My under the sink cabinet was a HOT MESS prior to this organization project. Had I known how quick and easy it was to get that unorganized black whole of cleaning products storage that I had organized, I would have done this a long time ago. All I needed was a quick trip to Lowe’s Home Improvement. 3 items and about a half hour later and I’m sitting pretty and am actually able to find the granite cleaner that I didn’t know I had. Once I actually pulled everything out from underneath the cabinet (and there were a lot of bottles) I found that I had duplicates of many products. 3 bottles of glass cleaner (I rarely even clean my windows, yes I just admitted that), 2 boxes of Brillo pads, and more bottles of air freshener that I could use in half a year. Now I know.

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The Florida Keys: Key West

Ibis Bay Resort

Earlier this summer I took a little (and by little I mean seriously amazing so much so I really didn’t want to come home) trip to The Florida Keys. This is part TWO of that amazing trip. The first two days of the trip were spent bouncing around the idealistic ISLAMORADA . We packed up ours bags and headed further South to Key West for the final 2 days of our trip. Key West was as vibrant and delicious as I imagined it would be. Trying to compare these two places would be like trying to compare apples to oranges. I adored them both. Clearly I didn’t want to come home.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

I’ve never been able to resist a cupcake. Especially a chocolate cupcake. It’s just not going to happen. No matter how tight my pants are. Sigh. I’ll just spend a little more time on the treadmill. Reading my kindle and perhaps eating another chocolate cupcake while I’m there. What, haven’t you ever eaten while on the treadmill? If not, don’t tell me. Apparently I’m not very good at this whole exercise thing. Back to something I am good at, cupcakes. Swoonworthy Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes.

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Pot Roast with Balsamic Mushroom Gravy

Pot Roast with Balsamic Mushroom Gravy

This isn’t your grandma’s pot roast. Oh no. This one is bigger, badder and bolder in the flavor department. It’s tender, melt in your mouth beef that’s made even better by the balsamic mushroom sauce that you’ll want to just spoon into your mouth (yes I did that). If that doesn’t make you want to make this tonight how about I sweeten the pot. It’s made in ONE POT. Y’all know how excited I get about those kinds of things. This roast is a low and slow stunner that you’ll be gravitating to all fall and winter long.

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Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Salted Caramel and Pecans

Pumpkin Pots de Creme

If I could put a fall dessert in a jar this would be it. It’s like pumpkin pie but better. Way better. There’s no crust bogging you down, which also makes this little gem in a jar gluten free. Bonus. It’s pumpkin perfection and if this doesn’t make you want to jump on the pumpkin train that’s currently making it’s way across the food blogging virtual highway I’m not sure what will. Go ahead and pick up a few cans of pumpkin puree (or make your own whatever floats your culinary boat) because these won’t last long.

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