Thursday, December 19, 2013

Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding

In our house, it's all about desserts. We just really love sweets.... too much. Around Christmas, this problem is magnified like crazy because Christmas & food go together like PB &J. Today I'm sharing a recipe with you that was introduced to me by a woman I work with. I did not make this up, I didn't even tweak it in any way possible... it's just that good on its own. I'm sharing it with you to also introduce you to the magic. No matter your feelings on Paula Deen, she got it right on this one. SO GOOD.

This recipe is EASY... it requires no baking and only takes about 10 min total to put it together. Here is a link to the original recipe.

-2 packages Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies
-6 bananas thinly sliced
-2 cups milk
-1 box (about 5 oz.) instant Vanilla pudding
-1 package Cream Cheese (or Neufchatel cheese)
-1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
-1 large container (12 oz.) Cool Whip

To make this delectable dessert, get a 13 x 9 pan and line the bottom of it with the Chessman cookies. This should use almost the whole first package (I forgot to take a picture of this part...). Sprinkle your bananas over your cookies and set your pan aside.

Next, combine milk and pudding mix in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer. In another bowl, combine cream cheese and condensed milk and stir together until smooth. Fold your cool whip into the cream cheese mixture, be careful not to stir to much! Now add your cream cheese mixture and pudding mixture together and then pour over the top of your bananas and cookies.

Finally, top your pudding with your remaining Chessman cookies.

See? Easy peasy.

The cookies on top make the dessert look pretty AND it makes it easier to serve because you can just cut the sections around the cookies.

I hope you enjoy this dessert as much as we have! I have made it about 5-6 times in the last couple months for various events we attend. It's always a hit!

Everybody say "Thanks Paula!"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

3 Ingredient Berry Cobbler

Hey Everyone! I have missed you so much but I have been incredibly busy lately. I missed all your smiling faces :).

Today, I wanted to post something that a women I go to church with gave me the recipe for. This dessert is SO GOOD and SO EASY... my favorite combination! My husband requests this dessert on a regular basis and I frequently make it for parties we attend. This is the perfect quick dessert for any holiday parties you are attending! I brought this to work as a Thanksgiving treat a couple weeks ago and it was demolished. Trust me, you won't be disappointed! :)

This is also supposedly healthy. I'm not sure if that is true or not but I'm going with it so I can eat more of it. :)

-1 large bag of frozen mixed berries (I like to get the bags without strawberries because they get all funky when you cook the cobbler.... I have found Target or Kroger to be the best place for these)
-1 can Sprite Zero (or Diet Sprite)
-1 box white cake mix WITHOUT pudding

To make this dessert, preheat your oven to 325. Next, place your frozen berries in a 13 x 9 pan.

Next, pour your cake mix over the top of the berries. The important step here is to NOT mix the cake mix and berries, you want it in layers. In true cobbler form, you want fruit on bottom, bread on top. Here is what it should look like at this point.

Now, pour your can of Sprite over the top of your cake mix slowly and try to cover as much of the cake mix as possible. You won't be able to completely wet the cake mix but as long as you get it mostly wet you are fine. Also, don't be alarmed when your sprite fizzes on top of the cake mix, it's normal. If you look closely at the picture below you can see the fizzing.

Now pop your cobbler in the oven for 45 minutes-1 hour. It's really hard to over cook this cobbler so just check every 5 minutes or so after the 45 minute mark. Your cobbler is done when it is light brown on top.

Yum! Pop that sucker into individual serving bowls and go to town. You will have a hard time containing yourself... its like crack cobbler. Everyone say thank you to Sara for sharing this recipe!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I'm a bad blogger lately. I know... it's been about a millennium since I last posted. Every night when I get home from work I have the intention of posting, but then I settle into the couch and am usually extremely lazy for the rest of the night. Excuses... I know, but that's really what I'm doing. The extra weight on my behind is there for proof.

Also, I apologize in advance for the pictures. I took them at about 5 am when the lighting wasn't the greatest. Don't let the crappiness take away from the food, it's good.

Since Halloween is a week from today (wooh!) I decided to bring myself out of the funk and give you a crowd pleaser for your Halloween party. Don't forget to check out my Halloween Party post from last year and the Recipes tab for more ideas!

These go the fastest at every party I have ever taken them to... except the two parties that I forgot to set them out. Try em, you'll love them! The great thing about this recipe is that you pretty much just put in whatever you have. It's one of those everything but the kitchen sink kind of things. The only thing mandatory is the tortilla, cream cheese, and sour cream!

1 package of tortillas
1 block of cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Garlic powder (optional)
Minced onions (optional)
whatever else you have in your fridge (I usually add in some ham or bell peppers but you can literally put in whatever you want!)

To make these, mix up all your ingredients. You can add whatever seasonings you want, but I usually just keep it simple with some garlic. Once you have your ingredients mixed, drop a dollop of your mixture onto your tortillas and roll up.

I also always add a little extra to the ends to make sure the tortilla is completely filled. This also makes the end pieces extra good! This does use a lot of your mixture though so if you want your pinwheels to go further (have more of them), just cut off the ends.

Next, I cover them and put them in the freezer for about 45 minutes-1 hour. This helps them harden up so when you cut them they don't squish down flat. This isn't mandatory, I just think it makes the final product look better. They may be a little bit frozen but they will unfreeze by the time you finish cutting them all up.

Once you have them cooled down, pull them out of freezer and cut them into 1/2-1 inch pieces. Arrange on platter and wah-lah, you are done!

Like I said earlier, I'm a bad blogger and have bad pictures for this post. This is the only picture I got of the final product. Next time I make these I will update the pictures but for now, this is what we have! Enjoy! :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

iOS 7 Tips & Tricks

As you all probably all know, Apple just came out with a new iOS system (operating system) for their products. I have to say that I LOVE it. I know there are a ton a haters out there but I'm not one of them. Once I figured out a few tricks I found it to be really easy to use, plus it looks cool!

I decided to do a post to share these tricks with you because recently I have had to teach a lot of my coworkers how to use their phones with the new system so I figured there were a lot of people struggling.

Tip #1: Clearing out your apps running in the background

This is important because if you have a bunch of apps running at once it will make your phone slower and may freeze out your system (That happened to me before I knew how to clear out my apps and I had to call technical support...yikes)

On the old system, if you double clicked your home button, all the currently running on your phone would show up at the bottom of the screen. Then you could hold one down and a little "X" would appear in the corner and you could close out the apps you were no longer using. On the new system, this looks different. To clear out your apps, you still double click the home button like before and this shows up:

Looks different right? Don't worry, it's still pretty easy to clear out your apps. Just touch the screen in the middle of the picture of the app and swipe up. I like this new way because as you can see, you can see the last thing you were doing and you know if you were finished with that app or not! Once you clear out all the apps you should see your home screen:

Just tap that little box and you are good to go.

Tip #2: Using Spotlight Search (Search bar)

On the old system, if you wanted to search through your phone using the search bar you had to scroll all the way to the front of all your home screens to find it. I only have two home screens so it wasn't that huge of a deal but some people have 6 or more so it was kind of an inconvenience. Now on the new system you can access the search function on any home screen you have. To use this function all you have to do is swipe down on any home screen and it will pop up:

Now something I learned is to swipe down from the second row of apps not the first or your calendar function will show up. It looks something like this:

Tip #3: iMessage not working

iMessage is a texting function that can be used between people with iPhones or iPads to see when the message was delivered, read, etc.

One of the bugs with the new system is that iMessage isn't working for some users. I (OF COURSE) am one of those users. For some reason the message won't go all the way through. There are three ways to fix this. One is to just turn the iMessage off and all your messages will send as regular text messages. Simple and easy fix but I personally like iMessage and am not satisfied with this answer. I like to berate my hubby when he doesn't answer me even though he has read the message ;). The second option is to clear out all your apps (see tip #1!) and then turn your phone off and then back on again. As simple as this sounds, it totally worked for me! I was surprised. If neither of these options work, you can reset your network settings. Caution on this one, it will reset your WIFI settings too so you will have to type in all your passwords again etc. To do this go to Settings --> General --> Reset --> Reset Network Settings.

Tip #4: Automatic App Updates

On the old system, when an app needed to be updated you had to go to the app store and click update on the app. A lot of people found this to be annoying and wouldn't ever update their apps. Just ask my friend Kassie who at one point had over 70 apps needing to be updated (insert disapproving look here). This is a problem because the updates help the apps work properly. Now on the new system you can chose to have your apps update automatically without you having to click update. You can chose to have all your apps update automatically or you can pick and chose which ones you want. To do this go to Settings --> General --> Background App Refresh. If you want to see what apps have updated at any time just swipe down from the top of your screen to the calendar view, click on the "All" tab and scroll down. A list of apps that have updated recently will be there.

Thanks for reading about the few things I have learned about the new Apple iOS7 system! If you have anything else you would like to share leave it in the comments below and I will add it to the list!
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall Front Door Decor

Here in Texas it's hot. Especially here in South East Texas where it's so humid you literally feel like you are living in an armpit. To say the weather is unpleasant is an understatement to say the least. Since we Texans deal with this for about 8 months (which is at least how long our summer is) we are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of our long lost friend fall.

This weekend the hubby went on a camping trip to test out his manly skills so I decided to have a little fun :). When the husband is away, the wife will play! I decided if I decorated for fall, maybe it would decide to visit a little early (fingers crossed).

Now, when we moved into the house we currently live in, it was in BAD shape. Seriously, I'm pretty sure the last people that lived there hadn't done any cleaning, yard work, or home improvement in about 10 years because it was NAS-TAY. We are working really hard on it and the house is looking a million and one times better, but one thing that still needs a lot of help is our front porch. Just check out the before picture below and you will know why I thought this was the perfect place to start with my decorations.

So, to start off I went on a little browsing trip to Wal-Mart looking for some supplies to make my fall decor. I actually found quite a bit of stuff which was surprising to me considering the Wal-Mart in our home town is usually extremely picked over and unorganized. I must have caught them right when they were putting everything out. All in all this decor project cost less than $50 and I think it came out pretty darn cute!

To start off, I knew I needed a wreath. I already had a bunch of wooden wreaths left over from our wedding (enter 8 wreaths that are taking over our guest room) so I was good there but I still needed decorations to g along with it. Luckily, I found some leaf sting type things (sorry my description is failing miserably.... just check out the picture) for about $2. Two came in a pack so I picked that up and went on my way. If you don't have a million wreaths left over in your guest room you can pick one up at Hobby Lobby for $5.

Next I found a cute welcome mat for $10 (not really fall, but still cute) and some plastic pumpkins. Plastic pumpkins are  SO MUCH CHEAPER and are better than real pumpkins because they won't rot. I found a nice green one for $4 and some little ceramic ones with sayings on them for $2.

Finally I found a cute little scare crow pot holder for $14 and an orange colored plant to go with it for $3. I already had some pots at home but if you don't have any, you can get one for about $2-$3.

With all my fall goods (and a little more!) I was on my way home to decorate!

To start, I grabbed my wreath and attached the leaves. You can use whatever you want to attach it. I used floral tape and just hid it behind the leaves so it wouldn't show. I also found a little wooden W in my craft box that I stuck on there (if you buy these they are about $1). The wreaths still had green tull bows on them from our wedding so I left that on there and fluffed it up a little.

My little ceramic pumpkins were already ready to go, but I still wanted to fluff up my green plastic pumpkin a little. Since I LOVE monogramming things :) I decided to draw a little W on it. It was quick and looked so cute (if you ignore that it was slightly crooked). I used a white paint pen for this but you can also use regular paint or a sharpie (just whatever you have lying around).

After I finished the plastic pumpkin it took about 5 min to set everything up. This was by far one of my favorite crafts because it was so simple AND it barely took any time at all. I was done with this in less than 30 min (including shopping time) and was ready to lounge on the couch the rest of the day. :)

I hope you enjoy decorating for fall as much as I did! The final price on this was about $39, take that Martha Stewart!
Thursday, September 5, 2013

Roasted Okra

Hello everyone! It's been awhile since I have given you a quick and easy side recipe to make. I love this recipe because it doesn't have very many ingredients, is easy to make, and can really go with almost any meal.

Did I mention how good roasted okra is? Before trying this I had only ever had fried okra. We southerners love our fried food so I didn't think this would be very good. Let me tell you... fried okra totally pales in comparison with roasted okra. It's so good! If you like okra, you won't be disappointed and even if you don't give it a try! It kind of tasted like a french fry (the crunchy & salty part)!

When making this I usually buy a whole box of okra and we eat the whole thing in 1 night. YUM.

-fresh okra (as much or as little as you want)
-olive oil
-sea salt (you can use regular salt but it tastes SO MUCH BETTER with sea salt)

To make this preheat your oven to 425. I like to cut my okra into bite sized pieces but it can be made whole if you would like. I would definitely cut the tops off to make it easier to eat.

Next, lay your okra out on a foil lined pan and drizzle with olive oil. I always take a cooking brush and rub the olive oil on evenly but if you don't have one you can just move the okra around the pan until it's all coated. Finally sprinkle your okra with sea salt and pepper to your taste preferences. I never measure here, I just sprinkle it on like I would normally sprinkle salt and pepper on food. Here is what it should look like:

Bake your okra for 10-15 minutes. Here is what the finished product looks like:

YUM! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as a do! Leave your feedback in the comments below!

This recipe has been adapted from The Key Ingredient.
Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Spaghetti" Noodles

So let me start out by saying this idea is not original by any means. I totally copied it from Pinterest... just not sure where. I tried to look for the original post but couldn't ever find it so if you are out there, I'm crediting you!

I decided to do this post because despite the overwhelming impact that Pinterest has had on cooking, a lot of people still don't know about this little trick. What is this trick you ask? Using squash in place of pasta noodles! Don't go running just yet, hear me out.

I think we all can agree that replacing breads and pastas with a vegetable is a good idea (even better for your waste line) but the problem is making it taste good. A ton of people don't like vegetables, ESPECIALLY squash. Spaghetti squash is a type of squash that looks exactly like spaghetti noodles (hints the name) and is loaded with a bunch of nutrients such as folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. Now that's all great but what about the taste? To me, it honestly didn't have much different of a taste than pasta. Besides, when you make spaghetti or alfredo sauce, your noodles are covered anyways. Even if you detest the taste it will be masked by your lovely Pasta Sauce or Alfredo Sauce. The only "drawback" I have found is the texture. The texture of spaghetti squash is more like hash browns than pasta. It's a little different the first couple bites you take but after that, I didn't even notice it anymore.

Most of this recipe is waiting time, it requires very little actual preparation! The "noodles" also keep very well so if you are wanting something quick that for dinner when you get home from work, make the noodles in advance during the weekend when you have more time.

-Spaghetti Squash (below is a picture to help you find it at the grocery store)
-Olive Oil
-Seasonings of your choice (I usually go for some basil, parsley, minced onions, garlic, & cilantro)

To begin, preheat your oven to 375. Next, cut your spaghetti squash in half and take out the middle seeds. This process is very similar to what you do when cutting up a cantaloupe.

Next, brush olive oil onto your spaghetti squash and sprinkle it with the seasonings you chose. Then pop it in the oven for an hour.
Before cooking:

After cooking:

Now take a fork and start pulling at the flesh of the squash with it. The squash should easily come apart in little strings that look exactly like spaghetti.

Once you have gotten all the squash strings out, put it on a plate and cover it with sauce. It's that simple!

YUM! We made ours with ground turkey breast and the pasta sauce recipe I posted a while back. An even healthier way to enjoy this would be to use the cauliflower alfredo recipe I posted as your sauce.

Good luck on your healthy eating endeavors!
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cream Cheese Appetizer

Hey Everyone! I have missed you lately (hopefully you have missed me!). I started my master's internship so things around my house have been CRAY-CRAY (I learned this word from a women I started working -with.... I think she might be "cray-cray"). I'm still relatively busy adjusting to my new schedule so today's post will be quick! Even though its quick, anyone who has had this appetizer/dessert/party food/deliciousness knows its not lacking anything in flavor. You can hardly call it a recipe because it takes about 60 seconds to "make" but you will be glad you did.

Don't be dismayed by the directions. It sounds a little weird but I promise you that you will be in love. My hubby gave me weird looks about trying it because he thought it "sounded weird" but then he kept coming back for more. I don't know why he still doubts me!

8 oz. block or cream cheese (or neufchatel cheese)
1 jar jalapeno berry jelly (pick any variety you like! You can find it at any store, you may just have to ask where!)
box of wheat thins

To make this, put your cream cheese on a plate and cover it in the jelly. Next arrange your wheat thins around the block to make it look pretty (please make it prettier than mine... I was in a hurry).

That's it! Use your wheat thins to scrape up a little jelly and some cream cheese and ENJOY... unless you aren't ready for this jelly (I don't think you're ready for this jelly!).... sorry I had to. :) If you don't get that reference then never mind, just go eat your food.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Today is National Cheesecake Day... seriously, who can think of a better "holiday"? I love cheesecake! It's so versatile and can pretty much be made into any flavor. I brought this particular version to a one of my husband's family functions and it was a hit. My father-in-law said it was the best cheesecake he had ever had! I found this recipe here and knew I had to try it. Let me warn you.... this recipe takes some effort and time, but the end product is TOTALLY worth it. It's a monster (so is this post) with 4 layers of yummy goodness and the calories to match but SO GOOD. It's modeled off of The Cheesecake Factory so buying it there would cost about $50. You can make it yourself for about $10! This recipe is adapted from The Inner Gourmet.

This recipe uses 2 vanilla bean pods. If you buy these at Walmart, its $10 for only two of them, YIKES! I would not recommend this. I bought a package of 50 of them for about $25 on Amazon which is a much better price. Now you ask me, what am I going to use that many vanilla bean pods for? I agree, that's a lot of cheesecakes! I use them for much more than just the cheesecake, from making vanilla extract to ice cream. They are really awesome BUT if you don't want to have to go through using them, just increase your vanilla extract by 1/2 tsp. and leave the vanilla bean pods out.

-1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers (This is about 1 package and can be crushed in a food processor or in a zip lock bag by hand)
-1/4 brown sugar
-1 stick of butter, softened
-1 egg yolk, slightly beaten (I sometimes omit this and it works out fine)
-1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
-16 ounces cream cheese (2 packages), softened
-1 cup sour cream
-2 Tbsp. corn starch
-1 cup sugar
-2 sticks of butter (I use 1 unsalted and 1 salted), softened
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-vanilla beans from one pod (or substitute 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract)
White Chocolate Mousse:
-1 cup whipping cream
-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
-4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
-5 ounces White chocolate
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream:
-1 cup whipping cream
-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
-vanilla beans from one pod
Optional garnish:
-1-2 ounces milk or dark chocolate

To make the crust, crush up your graham crackers in mix them together with other ingredients. Next grab your pan, I always use a 10 inch spring form pan because I have found it to work the best. If you don't have one, I HIGHLY recommend them! Line your spring form pan with foil and then pour your crust mixture in the bottom. Spread it out so that it evenly covers the bottom. Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you are mixing up the cheesecake.

Now in a large bowl, combine your cream cheese and butter and mix until combined. Next add in your sour cream, corn starch, sugar, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Finally, add in your vanilla bean. To remove the inside, slice the pod with a knife down the center and inside you will see the little vanilla beans. Scrap them out with either your knife or a spoon and add them into your cheesecake mixture. Mix until combined, you should be able to see the little black beans mixed throughout. See below for pictures (sorry they are dark!)!

Now pour your cheesecake onto your crust and bake at 325 for about 1 hour or until the top is light brown.

Once done, let it cool completely. If you don't, your mousse will deflate during the next step. I usually make the crust and cheesecake the night before and then make the last two layers (mousse and whipped cream) the next morning.

Once your ready to make your mousse, beat your whipping cream in a small/medium bowl until stiff peaks form. You will have stiff peaks when you can lift your mixer out of the bowl (turned off of course!) and the peaks it makes stay in place. Add in your powdered sugar and mix until combined. In a different bowl, melt your white chocolate in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until melted. Add you neufchatel cheese into your chocolate and beat until combined. This should do a lot to cool down you chocolate but if its still even the slightest bit warm, stick your chocolate mixture back in the fridge to cool. If it's even the slightest bit hot it will deflate your whipped cream! Once cool, combine your whipped cream and chocolate mixture together with a mixer and then pour over your cooled cheesecake. Stick this back in the fridge while you are making your garnish and whipped cream.

Now, it's time for the garnish! this part is optional but make your cheesecake look so much better. Seriously, the first time I made this, someone thought it was professional. :) Heat your milk or dark chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Pour it into a zip lock bag and cut the tip of the end off. Squeeze your bag and make vertical and horizontal lines on top of the mousse. This part is hard to describe in words so just look at the pictures below!

Don't worry about messing this part up, just have fun with it! Now time to make the vanilla bean whipped cream (don't worry, you are almost done!). In a small/medium sized bowl, beat your whipping cream until stiff peaks form (same thing you did earlier). Then, add in your powdered sugar and your vanilla beans (same way you did earlier) and mix until combined. Grab a large (gallon sized) zip lock bag and pour your whipped cream in it. For tips on how to do this, see this post. Cut the tip off the corner of the bag and pipe your whipped cream around the edges of the cheesecake. This part is kind of like the chocolate, you can't mess is up so just have fun with it. I usually just pipe it on randomly until I run out of whipped cream. Check out the picture below!

Now, stick it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it. Once ready, serve right out of the pan or remove the edge of your spring form pan and foil.

Can you say YUM?!?!? I hope you enjoy this AMAZING dessert!