Hippity Hop-pity, Easter’s on It’s Way: Easter Bunny Garden with Peeps

My Mom always sang us the “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail” song around this time. And, between her and Grammy, we were sure to have plenty of candy, including Peeps! I honestly don’t think you can have Easter without these sugary, marshmallowy, packages of cuteness.

Yesterday, I needed to make a run for some labels at Dollar Tree and, as I expected, the Easter section sucked me in. Have I ever told you that I’m in love with the Dollar Tree? So many wonderful things only priced at a dollar. I got some extra-fun goodies for Easter baskets so it was a successful trip, especially since I managed to get the labels, which is what I made the trip for.

I also bought some peeps and some gummy carrots. I have been waiting on an opportune time to make “dirt cups” with pudding and some crushed up brownies I had leftover in the freezer for a while. The moment I saw the peeps next to the carrots, I knew it was the perfect time to put these gardens together for the kiddos.

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsAnna was super excited and helpful with our fun little project. Thank goodness it was an easy one…. although we did have quite a bit of “dirt” on the floor.

We made the chocolate pudding together and processed the brownies. Anna got to scoop the “dirt” (processed brownies crumbs) into the bottom and top of the dishes. Then she got to top the garden off with a gummy carrot and a Peep.  You can use processed Oreos too but I needed to use the brownies and they were tastier than the Oreos I’ve used for this in the past.

Anna’s last job was to lick the bowl. I wish I’d taken a picture of her chocolate-covered face because it was adorable and disgusting at the same time!

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsEveryone except Kate dug into their cup o’ dirt (She oddly enough doesn’t really like sweets much. It’s mind boggling that she’s mine!). Kate actually spit it out and said “Yuck, dirt!”

Even Garen enjoyed them. Ok, maybe not the Peep or the gummy carrot but he quickly ate the rest of it. The smiles and laughs made it all worth the time…and honestly, this was a pretty easy dessert/craft project. That’s the best of both worlds!

Enjoy!!!

This post is all my own opinions.  I’m not getting a kick-back from Peeps or Dollar Tree.  I just happen to be a satisfied customer.  
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You gonna eat yo cornbread??? Best. Cornbread. Ever.

Every time I cook cornbread, Garen and I have a little giggle over the quote “You gonna eat yo cornbead?” from the movie “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.

Yes, I am ALWAYS going to eat my cornbread.  Every. Time.

Especially if it’s the sweet kind.  I found this wonderfully tasty and easy recipe a while back from Kimber’s blog, The Pinning Mamma, which is fantastic and definetly worth checking out.  The recipe is suitably called Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread.  If you like a sweeter, more moist cornbread, you will LOVE this recipe.  Did I mention it pretty inexpensive too???  The Jiffy boxes are always cheap.  Plus, who can resist using those cute, classic boxes?!?

I’m one of those people that will often times alter a recipe to make it my own.  This one, though, I didn’t because I feel like it’s perfect just the way it is. I did choose to make muffins vs using a pan/dish.  This saved me a few minutes AND it’s easier for serving I think.  Here you go:

Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread

Ingredients 

  • 2 Boxes Jiffy Cornbread
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Can Creamed Corn
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients until combined (I always use my KitchenAid because that’s just what I prefer)
  • Scrape mixture into an 8 x 8 or 2.2qt- 2L (small rectangular Pyrex) glass baking dish that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  I used my muffin pan.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes or until center is just done.  In my muffin pan, I baked them to 18 minutes but I would say probably 13-20 minutes would be the window, depending on your type of muffin pan.  Mine is a thick non-stick.

There you have it:  Cornbread that will make any dish just a little bit better.  Enjoy!

We ate ours this week with Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style and Instant Pot Black Beans.  They didn’t last long.  Yummy!

Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style

This recipe was Garen’s request for me to make in the Instant Pot so it was the first recipe that required more than 3 ingredients. I was a little leery since I’d never had Brunswick Stew and didn’t even know what to expect. As I always do when cooking something I don’t have a go-to recipe for, I went to Pinterest. I didn’t find an Instant Pot version I liked but I did find this slow cooker version from Rosie at i heart Recipes. I used this for an “outline” and tweeked it to work for what I had and to cook in the Instant Pot.

This recipe is fantastic. Really. I can’t make it up. Garen thought it was the best recipe I’ve ever made. The littles even liked it, making it even better in my book!!!

I used the Easiest Pulled Pork Ever recipe and shredded chicken that I made earlier in the day for it. You could easily use another recipe or even store-bought pulled pork.

Here it is- Brunswick Stew, Instant Pot Style

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Pulled Pork
  • 2 Cups shredded chicken
  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 1 Can Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 Cups Chicken broth (I substituted 1 cup for juice from the pulled pork to use what I had)
  • Frozen okra, 12 oz
  • Frozen peas, 6 oz (half bag)
  • Frozen corn, 12 oz
  • Frozen lima beans, 12 oz
  • 3 Small sweet potatoes, pealed and cubed
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Cup BBQ sauce (I used half Rudy’s and half Sweet Baby Ray’s since that all I had)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-1/2 tsp Seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black pepper

Instructions:

  • Add all of the ingredients into the 8 qt Instant Pot bowl (if your Instant Pot is smaller, you may have to adjust the recipe to not fill it past the max fill)
  • Mix all ingredients very well
  • Put the lid on, close it completely, and close the vent
  • Press Manual setting and set for 15 minutes. It will take a long time to get pressured because it will be almost to the max fill line. It will shift from On to the number of minutes remaining to cook
  • Once time is up, let it natural release for 10 minutes before opening the lid.  This ensures the meat is tender and juicy.
  • Open the lid. Check to make sure the potatoes are cooked completely. The meat was already cooked so the main thing is that you’re letting the veggies cook and that everything soaked up the wonderful flavors.
  • Enjoy.

Like I said, this stuff is wonderful. It’s not your typical soup/stew and I’m soooo glad Garen wanted me to try this recipe out!

Happy Instant Potting!

Sweet Saturday: Salted Carmel Pretzel Brownies

Today I’m gearing up for Nacho Night. More on that in a separate blog. I had some boxes of Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Brownie mix that have been calling to me. Judge me if you must but if you’ve not tried this mix, found at Sam’s Club, you are missing out. They’re super easy and every time I make them for something I get requests for my recipe. So, you’re in luck. Today I’m sharing my guilty, cheating “secret recipe.”

They’re also great for doing different spins on the traditional brownie. That brings me to today’s “experiment. ” Once again I am working to use what I’ve got on hand and the first thing that jumped out at me was a bag of pretzels that needed to be used. My mind instantly flew to creating salted caramel brownies and I remembered that I had a jar of salted caramel from my cousin Kim’s wedding (which was AWESOME and Kim, if you’re reading this, please send me the recipe.)  Best wedding favor EVER!

Salted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesSalted Caramel Wedding Favor

Of course, now I had to break one of my cardinal rules of hosting a dinner party: never try something new on guests. And tonight I broke it twice since I also made Pumpkin Sopapilla Cheesecake.

Ok, ok. Enough back story. On to the my made up, super easy, half-cheating recipe for Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Brownie mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2-3 cup pretzels, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel

Instructions:

Follow the recipe on the back of the box of brownies (see below) except at 25 minutes into the baking, stop and top the brownies with the broken of pretzels. Then drizzle with the salted caramel and bake the remaining time or until the brownies are finished. Salted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesSalted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesBest Brownie Mix Ever

The back of the box says it makes 40 brownies but in reality with the large pan I used and the size brownies most people eat it’s more like 25-30. Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

You could do the same with another brand of brownies or even from your own scratch recipe if you’re an overachiever like that. I’m sure it would still work. The key is getting the pretzels and caramel on there at the right time so they sink into the mix a bit but not too much.

I whipped up some real whipping cream and, together, they were pretty delicious (sorry to sound braggy.) Ice cream would’ve been equally delightful with them straight out of the oven or even microwaved. I happen to be thinking about how good they’d be paired with a big, cold glass of milk for breakfast!

They do come with a warning: These are really rich but, being the girl that waits all year for Starbucks to start serving their salted caramel mocha again, I loved them. My guests said they were good too but I think when it comes to something like this some people love them and others not-so-much.  If you’re looking for something less chocolately but still really tasty in the “brownie family,” check out these blonde brownies.  They’re always a hit too!

I hope your Saturday was as sweet as ours. More on our nacho night later!

Disclaimer:  I didn’t get paid in any way for this blog post.  The opinions and randomness are completely my own doing.  Feel free to share!

Sweet Sunday: Easy Banana Bread

Today I had a few very ripe bananas and decided to make a little tasty treat for the family. My Grammy mailed this recipe to me when I was in college, along with $5 to buy a pound of butter and a loaf pan. Great memories and pretty great recipe too. It seems like we never end up eating all of our bananas before they get too ripe to eat, so this makes me feel better than wasting food. Waste not, want not, right?!? Plus, it makes for a great easy breakfast or snack for the kiddos. 

I cherish the note on the back. Grammy cracked and shelled thousands of pounds of pecans by hand in her lifetime. Almost every single recipe made with pecans was made with “her” pecans- she’d bag pounds each year to keep in the freezer. 

Enough reminiscing. You want the recipe, right?!? Here it is:

Easy Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 Medium ripe bananas
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/2 Cup flour
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 Cup pecans (I’ve omitted them in these photos because the kids prefer it without- personally, I think it’s better WITH the pecans)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Prepare loaf pan or mini loaf pan (this is what I usually use- 3 out of 4 loafs) using spray of your choice. I like Bakers Choice (or something like that with flour included)
  • I put my ripe bananas in first and turn on my mixer until they’re well beaten. You could mash if you want. 
  • Add sugar, egg, and melted butter. Mix well. 
  • Add salt and baking soda. Mix. 
  • Slowly add flour. 
  • Mix and scrape bottom of bowl to be sure it’s all mixed in. 
  • Pour into either your loaf pan or 3 mini-loaf pans. 
  • If using a loaf pan, bake 40-45 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. If using mini-loaf pans (like my Wilton one pictured above) bake 30 mins. 
  • Cool slightly before removing. 

Enjoy- maybe with a little butter- because everything is better with butter!Yes, I got to enjoy my coffee for about twenty minutes today. It was AMAZING! And the mug…that’s from a Disney trip and my daddy bought it for me because I will always be his princess! Are you hungry yet? I’m trying not to go eat another slice… I keep telling myself, “It’s for the kids. It’s for the kids.” I’m not sure how long that will last. I will say that this is a very kid-approved recipe. Look at that smirk. She almost looks like she got caught in the cookie jar. Truth is- she ate Will’s slice before he had a chance. 

I hope your Sunday was as sweet as ours!

Wellness Wednesday: What is a well being?

I’m branching out here with Wellness Wednesday in an effort to be a well being.  So, for starters, what is a well being?  I think that this is a very personal question but, for me, being well means the following:

  • Enjoying family
  • Staying Positive
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Having energy
  • Eating healthy
  • Staying active
  • Keeping my mind active and constantly learning

You may notice that I left off happiness.  That is because I think happiness is the end result of one or more of these things occurring.

This post got a little deeper than what I originally planned it to be but I think it is a good reflection and reminder to us all.

With that said, today has gotten started great for me.  Here’s why:

  • Got out of bed using the 5 second rule
  • Immediately put on my work-out clothes
  • Got some quality time with Garen and the girls, as we got them ready for school
  • Gave kisses to all three
  • Worked out at home
  • Walked to the end of our street as I cooled down and reflected on everything good in my life
  • Set timer for 20 minutes of blog time and here I am

And, you know what????

It is well with my soul….

Career Day 2017

The big kids had Career Day at school today. The kids were encourage to come dressed up as what they want to be when they grow up. 
Will wants to be an architect, Garen tried unsuccessfully to get him to rock the bow tie… 

Anna, at first, wanted to be a witch, then a unicorn, then a rainbow, later a policewoman, a ballerina, a princess, and they finally settled on being a cowgirl. Good imagination, this one. 

All this occurred while I was on an overnight trip to Houston for work. Is Garen the best/coolest daddy ever? I’d say so. And maybe the most patient too.