Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Turkey Day!

happy happy thanksgiving to you! we all have so much to be thankful for, and i love that we have this holiday to take the time to spend with our families and really give thanks.

i am so thankful for my amazing husband, my awesome (and sometimes crazy) family, and our wonderful friends. all of them add so much to our lives and i don't know where we'd be without them.

i hope each of you have a wonderful thanksgiving full of lots of good food, lots of good  laughs and lots of friends and family time!

i'm leaving you with this giant chocolate turkey that i purchased at our local zupans made by moonstruck chocolate. you better believe we'll be eating that that thing later on. so if you're looking for me, i'll be in my chocolate turkey induced coma ;0)

happy thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mom's Peanut Butter Balls

so i know there are about a bazillion recipes out there for homemade "peanut butter cups" or peanut butter bars or peanut butter balls, but you know what? i even posted earlier this year, right here.

but this recipe trumps them all. and for two great reasons.'s my mom's recipe and two, the butter. i'm talking paula dean amounts of butter. like, you can really only eat these once a year (or twice like we do) because just one is guaranteed to make you gain 5 pounds. but they are so worth it.

you know why else my recipe is better ( like the first two weren't good enough. ha!) they are so easy to make. all you do is cream peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar together and dip them in chocolate and woilah! you've got melt in your mouth (and head straight to your ass!) amazingly delicious chocolate covered peanut butter balls.

 they might not be the prettiest recipe on earth, but i guaranteed they're the yummiest!!!

we make a double batch of these bad boys for thanksgiving and they last us through till christmas. and yes, you need a double batch. they're that good.

your welcome.

Mom's Peanut Butter Balls
**This recipe is doubled already

2 c creamy peanut butter
2 c butter, room temperature
5 1/2 c powdered sugar
64 oz (6 bags) milk chocolate chips (i get crazy and make white chocolate too)

cream together the butter and peanut butter. add powdered sugar, one cup at a time.

stick the mixture in the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden up. remove from freezer and scoop into balls (about 1 tbsp each). a melon baller works great for this!

stick back in the freezer.

over a double boiler, melt chocolate chips. a little tip on making the melted chocolate a little thinner for dipping...add about a tbsp of canola oil to the chocolate chips and this will make the chocolate thinner and easier for dipping.

put chocolate covered peanut butter balls back in the freezer till they've harden. Store in a sealed container in your freezer.

when ready to eat, remove from the freezer about 15-20 minutes before hand to soften up slightly.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Braised Chicken & Kale

it's officially here! the yearly week of holiday gluttony :)

don't get me wrong, i love stuffing my face full of turkey and mashed potatoes (especially mashed potatoes) just as much as the next guy (or gal for you politically correct peeps out there). because i know what's coming on thursday, i try and counteract the damage being done, by lightening things up earlier during the week.

i also try and lighten up the amount of actual cooking i have to do because of all the cooking that comes on thursday. (side note: while in years past, we've helped my mom, who does the majority of the work, i'm getting out of 'almost' all the work this year, since husband and i are driving to spokane on thursday - promoise i didn't plan that mom! hehehe).

which is where this super easy and super healthy chicken recipe comes in to save the day!! i mean what's healthier than chicken, braised in low sodium chicken broth and served with a side of kale. i feel healthier just typing that. it's also a healthy recipe that tastes good too! those kind are the best.

so head on over to to get the recipe, which is where i got it from! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Secret Ingredient Sugar Cookie Bars!

i have a confession to make. i'm an impulsive baker. it's true and now that i've said it and it's out in the open, i feel so much better. :)

i don't know how it happens, i'll be sitting on my couch, reading, watching tv, blogging, or doing whatever and then the urge will strike. i have to bake cookies right now! it happens more often when i'm perusing pinterest, which is where i found these amazingly delicious sugar cookie bar recipes i'm about to share with really it's pinterest's fault. not mine.

anyways, i'm sure you've seen these on pinterest too. they're all over the place. those pretty pink sugar cookie bars, staring you in the face, begging you to make them. well i finally did, randomly on a wednesday night while husband was at school (see i was home alone and bored which is never good for an impulsive baking addict) and they were so delicious.

they're not as pretty as some others on the internet, but they sure did taste good!

but i started them and then i realized i didn't have all the ingredients. and there was no way i was running to safeway on a wednesday night in my pajamas. so i improvised. i was out of vanilla extract (probably from all the other random baking i've done) so i added my own secret ingredient...BOURBON! bourbon went into the cookies and bourbon went in to the frosting and it was delicious!

i also ran out of all purpose flour so i substituted one cup of whole wheat flour, which wasn't bad, but i don't recommend doing unless you run out of flour halfway through making sugar cookie bars too. that being said, i didn't include the whole wheat flour substitution into the recipe below, but you're darn right i included the bourbon substitute. vanilla schmanilla ....bourbon is where it's at ladies and gents!

happy  baking!

ps...i bet if you had a christmas tree cookie cutter and some green food coloring, you could make some pretty cute and pretty delicious christmas tree cookies with this recipe. i may or may not have that planned for my christmas cookie baking binge i'll be starting on in the near future.

Secret Ingredient Sugar Cookie Bars

3/4 cup butter, softened to cool room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon bourbon (SECRET INGREDIENT!!)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon bourbon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and bourbon and mix for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. 

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan. Press the mixture into the pan.

Bake for 10-13 minutes. The bars shouldn't have any color around the edges and barely be set in the middle. Let the bars cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add in the bourbon and mix. Add the milk or cream and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas came early...

i couldn't help myself! i went to target this weekend to do a little shopping, and well, they already had all their christmas items out (what department store doesn't?) and something inside me decided it was time to decorate our apartment too.

first of all, please let me tell you that i have always been one of those people who REFUSES to decorate for christmas until after thanksgiving. i think each holiday deserves it's own special day and i get so mad when i start seeing christmas items in the department store before halloween has even arrived, but i JUST COULDN'T HELP MYSELF.

i think i was really just missing the snow that has already arrived in spokane, so i needed a little holiday cheer to brighten my day. at least that's what i'm telling myself, because, well, this happened this weekend:

our apartment is too small for a big christmas tree this year, so i had to rethink how to use our tree decorations...

pine cone garland, courtesy of a little pinterest inspiration

here, i'm recycling both wedding decorations and christmas thrifty am i?!?!

this cute little mini christmas tree centerpiece will serve as our christmas tree this year.

yes i took a selfie in a santa hat. and yes i forced my poor puppy into reindeer ears. he loved them. (HA!!!)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Best Ever French Onion Soup

my absolute favorite soup in the whole wide world is french onion soup. there's something about the carmelized onions topped with crusty bread and heaping amounts of melted cheese that just makes me go yum!

so i was ecstatic when i was reading Lunch in Paris and found the best recipe in the whole wide world for french onion soup. the best part about that if you have some time (it takes about 4 hours total to make) it's the easiest thing in the world.

all you do is slice up a bunch of onions and toss them in a dutch oven with some butter, evoo, thyme, salt, pepper and a bay leaf and let the onions carmelize on their own in the oven.

chop 'em and leave 'em. what's easier than that???

this is the perfect dinner to make on a lazy sunday (when you're stuck inside watching football with your husband all day ;0) ) and especially a lazy cold sunday.

what's your favorite fall (or anytime of year) soup?

Best Ever French Onion Soup
Serves: 8

8-10 medium onions
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
sea salt
a few twigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 c dry sherry
8 cups chicken broth
8 slices stale baguette or sourdough bread (if you don't have any stale bread around, you can dry yours out in a warm oven in about 20 min. just set the oven to warm (about 200 degrees) and set your bread on the oven rack)
8 oz grated gruyere cheese
8 oz grated comte cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a dutch oven combine the onions, butter, olive oil, salt, thyme and bay leaf. Cook, covered in the oven for 1 hour.

Stir onions and leave the lid slightly askew and continue to let cook for an additional 1.5 hours.

Transfer the dutch oven to the stovetop and cook until all liquid is evaporated (about 20 min). Add the sherry and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broth and make sure to get all the bits of the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, turn down and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Spoon the soup into 8 oven safe bowls and top with the baguette and a generous amounts of cheese. Pop in the oven under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted, browned slightly and nice and bubbly.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pork Chops with Apples & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

so i'm not sure if anyone noticed, but i had sort of become a major slacker in the whole cooking department. seems that with our busy schedules of late, finding new and exciting (and sometimes healthy) dinners to put on the table on any given night can get rather difficult. at least for me.

but i've changed my ways! and my poor husband is so happy that i'm once again cooking up a storm in the kitchen. first up is a yummy (and healthy!) recipe from the food network that also is a perfect fall meal. pork chops with granny smith apples and red onions in an apple cider sauce with a side of garlic mashed potatoes.

what sounds better than that? and did i mention that it's healthy too! there's no cream or butter in this bad boy...only a little bit of heart healthy olive oil.

and the best part is that it all comes together in about 40 minutes (cooking time included!) so you'll have time to hit the gym after too :)

check out the recipe over at

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekend Reading

i'm not sure if anybody remembers, but way back here....i said i was going to read at least one book a month and report back. well i was really good about it here, here, here and here.

and then, well, i don't know what happened. i kept reading. i promise i did. i just wasn't so great on the "here's what i'm reading now" posts.

but i made a little trip to powell's recently to make up for it. (side note: if you live in portland, have been to portland or have even heard of our little city portland, and you're a book lover, you know exactly what powell's is and you love it).

i picked up six books in a single trip for a whopping $19 (winning!) and because i purchased more than five books, they threw in a cute little bag for free (double win!).

so, needless to say, in between running errands, drinks with the husband, and a friend's bbq (yes we PNWers bbq in November and no we're not crazy) i did a lot of this, this weekend.

hope everyone's weekend was as fun and relaxing as mine!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life Lately...

according to my iPhone photos! it's been a while since i've posted one of these.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekend Family Fun

guess what happened this weekend?? after living in the pdx for more than a year, my parents finally came to visit! and while it was short and sweet (a total of 36 hours and counting) we had so much fun!

our weekend was full of drinks, good food (duh!) walking the streets of portland and good conversation.

mom and dad also treated husband and i to one of the restaurants i've been wanting to go to since we moved to the pdx...laurelhurst market. it was SO good!

and after touring portland, restuarant by restaurant (my favorite thing to do)....i think i'm sufficiently stuffed. and they are too.

excited to see the fam bam in a few short weeks for another food holiday! turkey day is right around the corner.

happy monday!