Sprinkler Saturday

What do you do when it’s hot outside and you need to keep the troops entertained???

Go outside and play in the sprinkler!!!

And Garen got out his fancy lenses to capture a few quick photos. I think they turned out pretty cool, don’t you?!?

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Mommy Review Monday: Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

I love my Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan. I bought my first one about 10 years ago from Sam’s Club. In the last year or two it hasn’t been sitting evenly on my stove-top. I believe, between Garen and I, one of us probably washed it before it was completely cool, causing it to warp. Easy mistake and it wasn’t a huge deal but I planned to replace it and just kept forgetting every time I went to Sam’s.

Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

My birthday came along and Garen gave me a new one. Yea! I kept the old one in case I need a second one to cook two things at once. We even named the new one.

Peter. Peter Pan.

Garen gets the credit for that little piece of humor.

Likes:

  • Price. At $26.98, if it only lasts a couple of years that’s still awesome.
  • Non-stick. It is super easy to clean. That’s a must in our house.
  • Dishwasher safe. It barely fits into the bottom rack but it does. Most times we just wash it by hand though because it’s so easy to clean. It’s always nice to have the option to be a little on the lazy side though.
  • Size. At 14″, it’s big enough to cook a nice one-pot dish or about 3-4 pancakes at a time. That’s important when you’ve got lots of mouths to feed.
  • Cooks well. I should start by saying that I’m not a chef. However, for the dishes I make it seems to cook pretty well. Especially for the price.  If you’re a chef, this may not be the quality you want but it works great for me, as an amateur on a budget.
  • Long life. Despite us warping it, it has held up well. I am pretty good about not using metal utensils with it so that does help. I would imagine it’ll last another 10+ years if we take care of it.

What I would change:

  • An Additional Handle.  I’d add another handle. It’s pretty heavy to handle if you need to move it when it’s fully loaded.  Imagine draining meat.  I can do it with one hand but it’s a job.  Thankfully I’m always lugging around one (or more) toddlers and have forearms of steel!
  • Ovenproof. I wish it could be put in the oven. It is what it is. You can’t have you’re non-stick skillet and bake it too….or at least not in this price point.
  • Add a Lid. I wish it had a lid. Again, I could probably pay more and purchase one that came with a lid or potentially find one that would fit right. When I need one now, using foil works pretty well for a poor man’s lid.

Member_s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

This may be one of my next kitchen purchases: Tramontina 3-Piece Deep Sauté Pan Set (Assorted Colors).  It seems to do everything that I listed as “likes” above and then all of the things I wish it also had.  Plus, it comes in red, which is awesome!!!

In the meantime, I still love my big commercial kitchen frying pan and my sweet hubby for giving me Peter Pan!  What’s your favorite stove-top pan?  I’d love for you to share!

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!

Repurposing Food: Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle 

This is another repurposing recipe. When I say recipe, I really mean more like guidelines for making something you need to get rid of look good. See another post for another similar trifle

I had some leftover pound cake in the freezer and wanted to fix something with it and incorporate cheesecake….because who doesn’t like cheesecake. I also had some frozen strawberries and cool whip in the freezer. And so this trifle was born. 

Ingredients 

  • Pound cake- about 6 cups cut into cubes*
  • Frozen sliced strawberries- 6 cups**
  • Cream cheese- 2 packages, 16 oz
  • Cool whip- oz package
  • Sugar- 2 cups, divided 

Instructions 

  • Mix strawberries with 1 cup of sugar. Microwave if they’re still frozen. 
  • Cream the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar. 
  • Beat cool whip into cream cheese mixture. 
  • Cut up pound cake. 
  • Layer about half of the pieces of cake into the bottom of the trifle dish. 
  • Spoon about half of the strawberries on top of the cake. 
  • Spoon about half of the cream cheese mixture on top of the strawberries. 
  • Repeat layers. 
  • Optional- sprinkle the top with sprinkles. 

*You could use pretty much any kind of cake that you want. I will sometimes use angel food and it works well too for trifles. 

**You can use fresh strawberries if you have them and want to slice them. I was going for speed and what I had on hand. Also, it’s a really sweet dish, so if you don’t want that either eliminate or reduce the sugar for the strawberries. 

Trifles are always a hit with the kids…anything pudding-like is a crowd pleaser at our house. Add sprinkles and your golden. This was part of our Christmas menu, so red and green sprinkles did the trick. 

Again, the thing I like about trifles is that you can pretty much put anything in there that you want (or need to get rid of). Here’s a few idea variations as well. 

Icebox Oreo Pie

This is another one of my “throw together what you’ve got” recipes. A few weeks back I bought a couple of chocolate pie crusts off of the clearance rack and put them in the freezer. 

Cheapskate, frugal, thrifty. Call me what you want. I was glad I had them the day we decided to have friends over for Cilantro Ranch Chicken and Baked Parmesan Crusted Zucchini!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chocolate cookie pie shells
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 12-15 Oreos, more if you want it more chocolately (Is that a word?)
  • Vanilla pudding, prepared
  • Whipped topping, about half large size container or full small 

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until whipped and light. In a separate bowl, prepare pudding with milk as directed. Crush Oreos or use processor to make into crumbs. Pour Oreos and prepared pudding into the large bowl and mix well with the cream cheese. 

Pour mixture into equally into the two pie crusts. Top with whipped topping and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. 

I could probably eat one of these by myself in one sitting. You just can’t go wrong with Oreos and cream cheese. 

The greatest thing about this is how easy it was. Sometimes it really does pay to be lazy. 

Baked Parmesan Crusted Zucchini

I love zucchini any way it’s cooked. Growing up, my Grammy made the best fried zucchini. My mouth waters just remembering it. 

I rarely make it because the frying isn’t all that healthy and it’s also kind of a pain. I decided to take a stab at doing an oven baked, slightly-altered version with some fresh Parmesan and bread crumbs that I needed to get rid of.  Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4-5 zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise 
  • 1 cup garlic bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan 

 
Instructions:
Preheat over to 425. Spray a large baking sheet or pan. (I also cover mine in foil because I’m lazy and it’s an easier cleanup) Melt butter. Slice zucchini thinly lengthwise. Toss in a large bowl with the melted butter. 

In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, pepper, and cheese. Dip and coat each strip of zucchini in the mixture. Lay them on the pan in a single layer. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they brown. If you want some good color, use the broiler for a few minutes. 

 
It isn’t the same as Grammy’s fried zucchini but it was prett tasty….and much healthier. It went well with Sriracha Honey Chicken and a salad. 

What’s your favorite zucchini recipe?