I think as a child I brushed off the notion of Blondies being good.  I liked cookies better & when my Mom made Blondies instead I didn't think they were as good.  The other week while visiting a friend I was reintroduced to these tasty treats.  She made hot out of the oven Blondies for us & I think I ate about half the pan.  I'm officially an addict & have made them three times since then.  As a child disregarded these scrumptious bars, but as an adult I appreciate how much time they save compared to making chocolate chip cookies.  They are great for large groups &, as I've discovered, wonderful for breakfast with a good cup of coffee... told you I was an addict.  Here's what I know:
1 cup butter softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup mini chocolate chips (you can use the regular size, but I like the minis for this recipe)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter & both sugars.  Add eggs & vanilla & mix until fluffy.  Mix together flour, salt, & baking soda.  Slowly add to dough until all is mixed in.  Get yourself a good pinch of yummy cookie dough & continue.  Mix in oatmeal & chocolate chips.  Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking sheet.  Spread dough as evenly as you can on baking sheet, I generally end up using my fingers.  Bake for 25 minutes or until tops are golden.  Let cool slightly & cut into individual size bars.  Enjoy!

So what's your current food obsession?  Come on, fess up.  I know you have one.  Have you been mowing down BBQ potato chips?  Or is a certain kind of fruit tingling your taste buds each day?  Or have you been making trips to the mall to slurp down an Orange Julius?  Divulge your current food craving... I want to know... mostly because I don't want to be alone in this!

Easter Tree Update

I know it's a few days late.  But as promised here is how my Easter tree looked for Easter day.
It bloomed beautifully.  You can tips on how to for branches on The Nest page.
The main thing I did to make sure it bloomed right on time was to keep it in a super cool place.  Then a couple days before Easter I would give it a few hours of good warmth (70 degrees or so).
And the blossoms bloomed right on time.  It was a refreshing site in a land where we are still getting snow... seriously.
And the bee was happy.

Easter Dinner: Veggie

Does anyone else always have carrots at Easter dinner?  It seems every year we do.  It must have something to do with correlation to the Easter Bunny... because bunnies eat carrots.  Hello... is this thing on?  Or maybe just because they taste good & there is no weird subconscious tie to the Easter Bunny.

Anywho... this is one of my favorite ways to make cooked carrots:
3 tablespoons butter
6 large carrots
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash & peel carrots.
Cut carrots in half, then cut cut length wise to to 3 or 4 sections, or about 1/4 inch thick as pictured.  Fill a large saucepan with about 1/2 inch of water.  Heat until boiling & add carrots.  Cover and cook about 3 minutes, just until they are barely tender.  Meanwhile put butter on a large baking sheet & set in the oven until butter is completely melted.  Remove from oven.  Drain blanched carrots & place the carrots to the baking sheet.  Gently turn carrots to coat in melted butter.  Place in the oven for about 10-15, or until carrots start to turn light brown.  Remove from oven & sprinkle dill on the top.  Serve immediately.

Happy Easter dinner preparing!

Good Friday

Happy Good Friday to all!  Tonight I will be packing up the family & heading to church for a wonderful time of reflection.  Being a pastor's wife I particularly enjoy Good Friday because I get to go to church & enjoy it.  I don't have to get all my monkeys dressed up by myself in the early morning hours & drive everyone into town by which time they are ready for naps just in time to start a few hours of church.  Don't get me wrong, we all love going to church & enjoy worshiping the Lord & seeing our friends.  But for a pastor's wife Sundays are a little different than the average Joe.  They are definitely our busiest day of the week.  And by the time we make it home, usually around 3:30pm, we are all exhausted.  Therefore, a Friday night service that is more casual is a breath of fresh air.  My regular church duties will not be required of me, which means I get to just walk in & sit down & enjoy the service.  I do not need to dress my kids up, which means a lot less tears & yelling.  And I don't have to wake up at 6am & spend three hours trying to get everyone out the door, which means lower blood pressure for all.  I'm looking forward to tonights service for those practical reasons.  But mostly because of what we are honoring.
Having majored in Art I have seen many, many pieces depicting the crucifixion.  But for some reason this one has always spoke to me.  I can vividly see it in my minds eye & still remember the day my professor spoke on it in my Art History class.  Being a Northern Renaissance art piece the people were not painted all glamorous & perfect.  I like that the artist tried to make it as real as he could.  This painting is also full of iconography... too much to explain.  But if you look carefully I'm sure you'll see it.  For example the lamb with the cross and cradling the cup.  The artist wasn't just a crazy man, these all have very specific meanings.  But my most favorite part is over there on the right.  See that funny looking guy holding the Bible?  That's John the Baptist.  Look above his right arm, can you see the faint writing in red?  That's the part that gets me every time, those words.  Every time I see this painting & read those words I get emotional.  That small red script still speaks to it's viewers 500 years later.  It reads: Illum oportet crescere, me autem minui in Latin.  Translated it says, He must increase, but I must decrease.  And that's what it is all about. 

*read more about this art piece here

Easter Dinner: Appetizers

I think you're required by law to serve Deviled Eggs at Easter.  Is that an oxymoron, Easter Deviled Eggs?  I have heard of some people calling them Angle Eggs, but whatever you call them they are delicious.  I L, O, V, E, LOVE, deviled eggs.  Here is a fun twist on them for Easter:
6 Hard boiled eggs, peeled  (hint: run under cold water if you're having trouble getting the shells off)
1/2 cup water
package of food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Cut eggs in half & gently ease out the yolk using a spoon.  Put yolks in a separate bowl to make filling out of.
In a bowl mix 1/2 cup water with one or two drops of your desired choice of food coloring and 1 teaspoon white vinegar.  Place egg whites into food coloring mixture for 5 minutes, turn if needed half way through to get all sides of the egg dyed.
Remove egg whites & let dry before filling.

6 egg yolks
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
dash of pepper
In a bowl smash up the egg yolks using the back of a fork (p.s. this smells awesome).
Place mashed yolks into a Zip-Lock bag & add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix together by mashing bag until everything is incorporated.  Push the filling down to the bottom of the bag.  Cut off the tip of one of the bottom corners of the bag.
Use like a frosting piping bag & fill the egg whites with about a tablespoon of filling.  Add a sprig of parsley and enjoy!  If not serving immediately cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

I love this method because it is clean, easy, & quick.  Plus the eggs look so much nicer than when you fill them with a spoon.  What a festive way to enjoy an old standby!

Easter Dinner: Potatoes

It's coming folks.  Despite the snow that keeps falling from the sky (two mornings in a row here), spring is ushering in Easter... in like, a few days!  That means you need to get Easter outfits ready & pressed, Easter baskets filled with goodies, & the big one, Easter dinner prepared.  One staple of Easter dinner in our family is potatoes.  Their not necessarily prepared the same way every year, but they are there in one form or the other.  This is one of my favorite potato dishes.  It hails from me trying to recreate a potato side I had at a restaraunt a long time ago.  It's taken a few years, & although it's not exactly the same it's close.  And its yummy.  And it's easy.  Perfect for busy holidays that require your best foot forward.  Here goes...
Cheesy Potato Cakes
1 cup half & half
1 cup heavy cream
6 medium russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 diced medium onion
1 package cream cheese (8 oz), softened
3 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
4 tablespoons minced chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (I use butter, but you could also use non-stick spray or another healthier option).  Scrub potatoes & then slice very thinly, if you have a mandolin that would work best, but I don't- so I slice very thinly.  Mix 1/2 cup half & half, 1/2 cup heavy cream, salt & pepper together in a large bowl.  Place potatoes in the cream mixture stir a couple of times just to coat, set aside.  

In a large skillet melt the butter & add the garlic & onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent & smell delicious.  Add the cream cheese & goat cheese & stir constantly for a couple of minutes until incorporated & smooth.  Add the remaining half & half & heavy cream, stir to combine.  Add in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese & blue cheese & stir to combine.  Remove from heat.

Evenly place the potatoes into the baking dish & press down slightly.  They don't need to be perfect but you want them fairly flat.  Pour the cheese mixture over the top of the potatoes & sprinkle remaining Parmesan over the top.  Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until golden on top.  Remove from oven & sprinkle chives over the top.  Loosely cover with tin foil & let it stand for 10 minutes.  Cut into single serving squares & enjoy.

This dish looks so pretty & fancy.  Bonus: it taste awesome.  Few things with Parmesan & blue cheese & cream taste bad.  Enjoy!

Laundry Find

With a husband, four kids, & living on a ranch I end up doing a lot of laundry.  And I mean A LOT!  I found these great baskets a while back & have absolutely fallen in love with them
They have three sections which is great for separating clothes.  I can use one basket & get three different people's clothes in them.  That means only one trip upstairs opposed to three... perfect.  Also, each section holds about one & a half loads of laundry.
I got two & put one upstairs & one downstairs.  Then I marked each section, whites, darks, colors.  So when my monkeys throw their dirty clothes in they can put it in the appropriate spot.  That means no sorting for me, which means a little more time to myself... and less time doing laundry, my least favorite chore.

These are a bit of an investment, but I think it's well worth it.  I have saved so much time & trips up and down the stairs. I found mine on the Land of Nod website.  Click here to buy one for yourself.  Happy laundering!

Recipe Card Holders Winners

Congratulations to:
Mrs. Meek
you've each one one of these cute holders.  Contact me at to claim your prize.  Enjoy!


 I do most of my cooking from recipe cards.  I like to have my recipes where I can easily read them & they won't get covered in food.  A few years ago I randomly put a recipe card in a photo holder (I think my counters were covered in stuff, including a photo holder & I stuck my recipe card in it out of desperation to make sense of chaos)... and I was hooked!  I love that the recipes are up out of harms way where I can read them.  And the recipe card holding device takes up very little room when not in use.  Last plus, it's super duper cheap!  You probably have one of these sitting around your house right now.  If not you can pick one up almost anywhere for cheap.  They also make great gifts.
Since I think all cooks should have the opportunity to use one of these cute "recipe card holders" I'm giving away two of them this weekend.  I will announce 2 winners Sunday evening.  All you have to do to get in the running for one of these babies is tell us all what your plans are for this weekend in the comments section below.

I will be hanging out at home & relaxing & going to church.  It's a very rare weekend for us because we do not have people in the house besides our family.  Oh, & I may attempt making won tons... I'm horrible at Asian food so this is quiet an undertaking.  What are you doing this weekend?

Easter Tree

It's officially Easter Season!  Thus the Easter Tree has been adorned on our dining room table.  I love Easter trees.  Their so clean & easy.  I always just snip a few branches from any flowering tree/bush & force them.  Then I decorate it with all these cute little ornaments that celebrate all things Spring & Easter.
And I throw a few drops of food coloring into the water to make some sort of pastel hue that speaks of Easter time.  Right now it's purple.  A few days ago it was turquoise.
I found my ornaments at craft & thrift stores.  I love how tiny they are.
If you were crafty & had the time you could even make your own ornaments to decorate your tree.  The best part is when the tree flowers, so pretty & sweet.  And it smells divine.  Once the buds pop out on this baby I'll do an update post.  Happy Easter!

Homemade Pizza

Pizza is a big deal in our family.  We eat pizza once a week.  It's my hubby's & son's favorite food.  When we lived in town we would just order pizza or grab a take-and-bake.  But living in the country has changed this habit & I have had to learn how to make tasty pizza from scratch.  I have been searching & altering pizza dough & sauce recipes for a couple of years now.  I finally have a recipe that I love & don't alter any more.  Here's the scoop:

Pizza Dough
A great pizza crust is most of the battle when making homemade pizza.  If you don't have a good crust folks just plain won't like it.  Here is my most favorite crust.  It bakes up light & fluffy with a crusty outer layer.  It is flavorful & the perfect foundation for a yummy pizza.  Plus, it's easy to make & requires no kneading
(makes 2 large pizzas)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups flour
1/3 cup olive oil
Pour yeast into the warm water (make sure it's warm & not hot, hot water will kill the yeast) & stir once, set aside.  In a bowl combine flour, salt, garlic powder, sugar (sugar is "food" for the yeast, so make sure to stick it in there).  Drizzle in olive oil & mix until just combined.  Slowly pour in the water yest mixture & stir until dough forms into a ball.  In a seperate bowl pour in a little olive oil & spread around with your hand until entire bowl is coated.  Place the pizza dough ball into the oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place for 1-2 hours to rise.
This is how the dough compares from when you make it until it has fully risen.
Once dough has risen preheat the oven to 550 degrees.  On a large baking sheet drizzle a little olive oil & then spread around with your hands to coat the entire surface.  Do not wash your hands & pick up half of the pizza dough and set in the middle of the baking sheet.  Using your hands gently spread the dough around until it is at your desired shape & size.  If you like thick crust spread it around accordingly, if you like thin crust do likewise.  The crust will not look like it came from Pizza Hut, which is perfect.  You want it to look authentic & homemade.  As you spread the dough around you may want to add a little more olive oil to the top to help it from not sticking to your hands.
Now spread a little (not too much, nobody likes soggy pizza) pizza sauce on the top to within 3/4 inch of the edge.  Then cover with your favorite toppings.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes & enjoy immediately!

Homemade pizza is  quick & easy dinner.  You could even make the dough in the morning & set it in the fridge to rise all day so that when it's dinner time all you have to do is assemble.  It's also fun to make individual pizzas & experiment with toppings.  Or try using pesto as the sauce... the possibilities are endless.

Pizza Sauce
This is so easy you'll cry.  The best part about making your own sauce is switching up the flavor to meet your preferences.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1 can tomato sauce (15oz)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
Italian Seasoning to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat mix olive oil & garlic.  Cook a few minutes until garlic starts to sizzle.  Turn heat down to medium-low.  Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, & Italian seasoning to your liking.  Cook on low for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  You can now either use the sauce immediately or stick it in the fridge to use later. This will make enough sauce for about 3-4 pizzas.  Freeze left overs for later use.

Wheat Crust
Omit 1 cup of white flour & in it's place add 3/4 cup wheat flour.  This still keeps your crust light & fluffy but adds the whole grains we all need.  If you like a denser crust you could experiment with adding more wheat flour.
Tomato, Basil, & Goat Cheese Pizza
My new favorite creation is my Tomato, Basil, & Goat Cheese Pizza.  I make it on wheat crust (instructions below) & it is actually really healthy.  Coarsely chop the basil & goat cheese so there are large chunks.  Thinly slice the tomato into large circles.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese all over the top so there is a nice layer but not a huge amount of cheese.  Arrange tomatoes and goat cheese on top of the mozzarella.  Bake in the oven as directed above.  About 1 minute from being done sprinkle on the basil & top with just a small amount more of mozzarella to hold everything together.  Enjoy at once.  The lightness of the tomatoes & basil mixed with the richness & creaminess of the goat cheese is like heaven.