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!

Getting Started with My New Toy, the Instant Pot

On Friday I turned 35 and one of the awesome gifts I got was an Instant Pot.  Garen got it for me.  He also got me a new diamond bracelet so he’s officially the best husband EVER.  He knew that I’d never buy one of these myself.  Plus, he also knew that I’d never get it out of the box and going on my own.  Technology and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love it but hate how intimidating it is to me.

We got it going yesterday afternoon with the water test and I cooked my first frozen chicken last night.  It worked like a charm.  And just like that, I was hooked…. just like everyone else that has one and has tried it.

Getting Started with my Instant PotToday I took advantage of the day at home and cooked up a round of food to get us started including:

Click on the links above to check out the recipes, all of which turned out great!  I’m just getting started so stay tuned to check out my experiments with my newest toy.

Happy Instant Potting!

Instant Pot- the Easiest Pulled Pork Ever!

After the boiled eggs, I was ready to get started on something a little more challenging and Garen had been talking about Brunswick Stew for months, so I had to have pulled pork for that to happen.  Back to Pinterest I went to find a recipe.

Skip back to yesterday though….While at Sam’s Club, we found this spice rub:  Weber Smoky Brown Sugar Rub.  For a little over $5, I figured it was worth a try, so we brought it home.  As I was looking at the recipes I found for Instant Pot pulled pork, I started to think that this rub might be just the right thing for us to try out rather than making my own from a ton of different spices.

Instant Pot- The Easiest Pulled Pork EverAnd, let me tell you….I was right!  (I love being right- especially about cooking.)  It made amazing pulled pork and it was super easy.  That’s a win-win in my books.  Without further introduction….here it is:  the recipe for the Easiest Pulled Pork Ever.

Ingredients:

  • 8 lbs Pork Butt (we used two 4 lb cuts with bone):  Garen de-boned it and cut it into small pieces for me.  We saved the bones to cook with later.
  • 6 tbsp Weber Smoky Brown Sugar
  • 1- 1/4 Cup Water

Instructions:

  • De-bone and trim fat on the pork butt and cut it into smaller pieces.  They don’t have to be exactly the same size.
  • Put the meat into the Instant Pot bowl.
  • Sprinkle the Weber rub in the bowl over the meat and toss it around.  Using a pair of tongs works well to coat the meat.
  • Add the water.
  • Put the bowl into the Instant Pot and click the lid into place.  Set the vent to seal.
  • Select Manual and set time to 110 minutes.  It will start with saying “On” until it is pressurized and then it starts the count down from there.
  • When time is up, let it natural release for 40 minutes before opening the lid.  This ensures the meat is tender and juicy.
  • Open the lid.  Transfer the meat to another bowl to shred*.  You may choose to save the juices to serve with it or use for other purposes.**
  • This made a little over 8 cups of shredded pulled pork.  Using more or less meat will obviously yield a different amount.

Instant Pot- The Easiest Pulled Pork EverFantastic.  That’s what this recipe is.  I know it seems like I’m tooting my own horn but I can’t take all of the credit for it.  I attribute a lot of it to the Weber Smoky Brown Sugar (no, I’m not selling it or getting anything from this- not even free rub!)  The process of cooking and times I learned from Allergy Free Alaska.  If you can’t find the Weber rub, I’m quite sure that the rub in that recipe will work wonderfully as well.  Check their blog out because they’ve got lots of other great recipes.

Seriously, folks- don’t wait.  If you’ve not tried cooking pulled pork in your Instant Pot, DO IT.  You will NOT regret it!  Plus, pulled pork is so versatile that it can be used in a TON of recipes.  I’ll soon be posting the Instant Pot Brunswick Stew that was also sinfully good.

Shredding Meat the Easy Way

*I dare to say that I found the easiest way to shred meat today…..tender meat at least:  with my Kitchen Aid mixer.  Yes, I pulled the meat out of the Instant Pot and placed it directly into my mixer bowl.  Turned it on for a couple seconds and, wa-la:  perfectly pulled pork.  Better than I ever could’ve done myself and with WAY less time spent!  And cleaner, with less risk of being burned.

**1 Cup of the juice I used inside the Instant Pot Brunswick Stew.

Happy Instant Potting!  Stay tuned for more as I experiment….

Instant Pot Boiled Eggs- A Perfect way to Start

Boiled eggs in the Instant Pot are a perfect way to get started with your Instant Pot.  If you’re like I was in the beginning, you’re just a little bit nervous.  Starting with a simple recipe like this will make you feel confident when they turn out perfectly……or at least it did me!

Instant Pot Boiled Eggs

I didn’t come up with this on my own.  Thank you to Pinterest for helping me to find this recipe for Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot from Heather at Passion for Savings.  Definitely go check out her blog.

A little bit about these eggs:

  • I think these are technically steamed rather than boiled but they turn out better than I ever made by boiling because they’re all consistently cooked with the pressure.
  • They peel sooooo much easier than the ones I’ve made boiling.
  • They save me a ton of money because I had been buying the boiled eggs from Sam’s Club- two dozen for $8.78.  Now I can buy a two 18-packs for $5.86 and cook one almost as fast and for a fraction of the cost.  When I’m on Weight Watchers, boiled eggs are a go-to snack and breakfast food because they’re so healthy, easy, and fast.
  • I cooked 18 at a time but could’ve easily done two dozen the same way.
  • Some of the eggs cracked- making them a little “uneven” looking but they taste the same.  I’m assuming that this happened because they had small cracks that I didn’t see before I cooked them.

At this point you’re probably ready for me to tell you the recipe.  Here it is, even though it’s really too simple to even be considered a recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 dozen eggs
  • 1 Cup Cold Water

Directions:

  • Put your trivet in the Instant Pot and gently put the eggs on it, stacking them as necessary.
  • Add 1 Cup of cold water to the bottom of the Instant Pot
  • Secure the lid and set the valve to seal
  • Cook on Manual for 8 minutes
  • Allow the eggs to Natural Release for 2 minutes and then Quick Release
  • Quickly remove the eggs to an ice bath to cool off
  • Peel and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Now you can enjoy your boiled eggs.  Happy Instant Potting!

Super Easy Sangrias for a Crowd

As I said in my last post on Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies, we had friends over for Nacho Night last night. That definitely called for sangrias.

I looooove sangrias! So I whipped some up. Or maybe I should say: I bought some sangria and fruit and put them together. So here’s my “recipe” since my friends asked for it last night.

Super Easy Sangrias for a Crowd

Ingredients

  • 2 bottles of Sangria (I used the Sam’s Club Members Mark brand and it was pretty tasty)
  • 3 limes, sliced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 2 pears, sliced
  • Ginger ale (I used diet)

Instructions

  • Cut up all the fruit and evenly distribute into three pitchers or one large drink dispenser. Pour the sangria over the fruit.
  • Add enough ginger ale to fill the pitchers or if one big container about a half a bottle will do nicely.
  • Mix it up with a spoon that you can slightly muddle the fruit with.
  • Refrigerate all day or overnight, if possible.

There you have it. Now you can make your own Sangrias for a crowd. Make this your own by using whatever fruit you like (or have).

We enjoyed them as our children ran around like wild animals all night.

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!