Family

Everything at Deals to Meals revolves around our families. Planning healthy meals, learning to live on a budget and enjoying time together. We love sharing our favorite traditions, parenting tips, and helpful ideas on how to manage a household.

 

Pot of Gold Cupcakes {Pistachio}
March 17, 2021 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day weekend with these deliciously festive cupcakes. The cupcake batter has a fun flair of pistachio and the pudding makes them nice and moist, as well as leprechaun green. The buttercream frosting has a hint of blue and the cupcake is decorated…

 

ABC’s Summer of Fun Passport (Free Download)
June 22, 2020 | No Category | Deals to Meals

We are doing the happy dance over here because summer has officially begun, homeschooling is OVER (hallelujah!), Utah is starting to open up again and we are ready & raring for FUN!! A friend of mine asked me yesterday if I had ever heard of doing an ABC Summer? I hadn&#…

 

Copycat Chick-fil-A Sauce
January 28, 2020 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Yes, I am one of those people that are completely addicted to Chick-fil-A. I blame it on my teenagers, but anytime we need a quick bite to eat, it is almost always Chick-fil-A that the entire family can agree on. There is just something about their moist chicken and yummy sa…

 

Lemon Bar Perfection
July 2, 2019 | No Category | Deals to Meals

These past couple weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. Our oldest daughter left a week ago for her mission for our church and flew to Mexico for 6 weeks and then onto the Dominican Republic. We are so excited for her, but also missing her so much. We feel so blessed…

 

KSL News Story: 14 Simple Ways to Save on Vacation Costs
June 7, 2019 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Last week was such a riot! It’s not very often you find your family picture on the front page of the most popular news station in the state 😉 My kiddos thought that was pretty cool. I was abl…

 

Lemon Berry Ricotta Stuffed Danish Pancakes
May 30, 2018 | No Category | Deals to Meals

My parents just returned home from a month long vacation to Europe. Their pictures and videos they sent home made us all anxious to be there with them! Not only their pictures of the beautiful scenery, but also their food pictures were enough to make us drool. Their last sto…

 

Spicy Chipotle Pork Street Tacos
April 4, 2018 | No Category | Deals to Meals

The other day I was plum out of ideas as to what to make for dinner. I had only a few bell peppers in my fridge, an onion and some corn tortillas. I didn’t have time to thaw some chicken, so I turned to a roll of Jimmy Dean Sausage I had in the freezer […]

 

Turkey Stuffing Casserole
April 2, 2018 | No Category | Shandra

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! We are enjoying the weekend in the beautiful and sunny St. George with family. It has been wonderful to relax, spend time in the sun and be together thinking about our Savior and His sacrifices for us.  My in laws spoiled us wi…

 

Easter Passover Meal and Steak Pita Sandwiches
March 29, 2018 | No Category | Shandra

One of our families favorite traditions is our annual Passover Dinner. It is such a special night to eat a delicious meal and celebrate all that our Savior’s life (and death), means to each of us. Over the years we have evolved this tradition and this year was my favor…

 

St. Patrick’s Day Family Feast
March 16, 2018 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Ready for St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow? Here’s a link to our favorite meal we always eat sometime this weekend. Delicious Irish Potatoes, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Green Jello and Green Rolls (of course). Login to Deals to Meals to find all of your favorite St. Pa…

 

Grandma’s Cherry & Chocolate Chip Jubilee Cookies
November 7, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

In memory of Grandma, I decided to make her famous Cherry Chocolate Chip Jubilee Cookies, to remind me of cooking with her in her kitchen. My son and I had a great time making these same cookies my Gr…

 

Bloody Cyclops Burgers with Halloween Roasted Potatoes
October 31, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

Who’s ready for Halloween tonight? I feel like this holiday has snuck up on us. I’m sure you already have dinner plans, but if you don’t, here is a simple meal I threw together last …

 

Vegan Stuffed Halloween ‘Pumpkin’ Bell Peppers
October 27, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Love these super fun…and spooky Halloween Stuffed Bell Peppers. Not only are they healthy, but such a fun activity for kids too. If you want more healthy recipes, make sure and follow Ellen @myn…

 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll
October 14, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

What could be better than a birthday and a pumpkin roll?!? Two things I completely love. Not to mention a day spent with family, friends and a night out with Todd. Can’t get better than that combo! As for the recipe, I always use my friend Jamie’s tried and true …

 

Triple Chocolate Protein Pancakes
September 30, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

This past week it was my handsome sons sweet 16th birthday. We had such a fun time celebrating with family and friends and have a hard time believing he’s already such a grown up young man. He actually is taller than most of the men in our family and has just about pas…

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
August 23, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

It’s official, as of today all five of our kiddos are back to school. It’s a bitter sweet day. I thought all I wanted was some peace and quiet and now that we have the house to ourselves, Todd and I feel a little sad. We’ve watched several Hallmarks and now…

 

11 Healthy, Creative and FUN Home School Lunch Ideas
August 14, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Hi Friends! Do we have a treat for you? My dear friend Ellen Johnson has put together 11 of the most adorable, healthy, creative, delicious and FUN home lunch ideas you’ll ever see! She taught a…

 

Campfire Chocolate Marshmallow Cake
August 11, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

I was looking through my files and came across a cake picture that I forgot to share with you from last year. This cake is so stinking cute and would be perfect for any end of summer gatherings, or summer birthday parties. Buy the ‘death by chocolate’ Costco cake…

 

5 Favorite Camping Meals to Simplify Your Summer
July 27, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

This post is probably coming a little too late, but in case you have a trip planned later this summer, I wanted to share a few tips to make camping easy (and delicious)! My husband and I are big fans of camping. We love to get away and spend some quiet time with the family […

 

Best Oreo Desserts
June 15, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

It’s almost Father’s Day and that means every kind of snack, chip, cookie or treat is on sale this week. The Dad’s in our life must be known for having a sweet tooth! This is one of the only times a year that Oreo cookies go on sale for less than Costco. If…

 

Puff Pastry Apple Roses
June 8, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

If you’re a fan of scanning Pintrest for delicious recipes, you’ve probably no doubt seen these Puff Pastry Apple Roses. They are literally everywhere online lately! These make the  sweetest, most delicate dessert for any wedding shower, baby shower or ladie…

 

Hot Corn Queso
April 26, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Want a fun way to get to know your neighbors? Our neighborhood has started dinner groups and they are a blast. All you need are a couple people to host, and several people to attend. The person who hosts plans the main dish and then everyone else coming brings side dish…

 

Easter Recipe Roundup: 16 Favorite Easter Recipes
April 13, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

Before all of your Easter meal plans are finalized, I wanted to share a few of our favorite Easter recipes with you, as well as others from the web. These blog authors are so talented and I’m excited to share there ideas with you (seriously…look at those chicks. …

 

Free Prince of Peace Digital Downloads: Creating a Sacred Easter Week
April 9, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

I can’t believe it’s Easter time already. It feels like it was just yesterday we were celebrating at my sisters house with our annual Passover meal. I love this time of year and the c…

 

St. Patrick’s Day Pancakes & Leprechaun Smoothies
March 17, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! For our clan that means waking up to some favorite green treats, a note from the Leprechaun, green milk and lots of cousin’s over for green pancakes and s…

 

Planning the Perfect Party {Menu, Decor, Favorite Things}
January 20, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

Last week was my sisters 35th birthday and we decided to throw her a surprise birthday party. She is a huge fan of birthday’s so we wanted to make this one special. Instead of just going out to …

 

Christmas Swirl Bread
December 20, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

My sister is a bread genius! She is the one that came up with our Rainbow Bread that people have loved on You Tube. It is such a fun, creative way to take bread from boring to beautiful. Well, she decided to use this same technique and turn our favorite bread recipe into thi…

 

Homemade Hot Chocolate
November 16, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

   The first holiday tradition of the season for our family is the second Sunday of November we always put up our Christmas tree (okay, trees–yes, my husband puts up 10–yikes!). When we put up our big tree in the family room we always watch Polar Expres…

 

Cherry Peach Cobbler with Brown Sugar Crumble and Summer Happenings
July 29, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

 One of my favorite parts about summer is all of the fresh fruit that goes on sale. I love that fresh peaches, apricots, cherries, watermelon and cantaloupe are all on sale this week. I am a…

 

Healthy Hulk Green Pancakes {with Spinach and Bananas}
July 6, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

  No, it’s not your eyes. These pancakes are meant to be green. Before you mock them, or disregard this recipe, give them a try! We served these for a family breakfast this past weekend and…

 

S’more Cookie Bars and Summer Update
June 25, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

  Sorry I have been awful at blogging this past week. We are spending some good, quality time disconnected this week with my inlaws and my family. We are on our annual week long reunion and having a blast. I really love the way his family does reunions. There are 9 sibl…

 

My Go-To Party Menu when throwing a shower, small party or ladies brunch
June 12, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

Spring and summer seems to be the time for weddings, baby showers and family parties. I wanted to share our go-to party menu that we use for baby showers, wedding showers, and ladies brunches when we …

 

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
June 1, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

 What is not to love about these super cute Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes? My dear friend Ellen made these for her daughter’s birthday party and I wanted to share them with you. If you have a birthday party coming up, or just want a fun, summer treat, this is the recipe…

 

Best Brownie Recipe EVER
May 30, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

  Happy Memorial Day! I couldn’t be more grateful for the many men and women who have lost their lives and give of their time and talents to serving our country. I am grateful every day to be an American and feel so proud and blessed to live in this great nation. …

 

Homemade French Bread Video
April 19, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

  Subscribe to Deals to Meals on YouTube so you don’t miss any of our cooking videos. This is our most popular recipe on our blog {Homemade French Bread}, so we thought we’d show you how simple it is to make. Hope you love it! If you do, pass it along, would…

 

Easter 2016 Family Updates and Traditions
March 29, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! We had a great time enjoying some of our family’s favorite traditions and spending time in sunny St. George with our extended family. It was great to get away while the kids were out of school and have some quality family time…

 

Valentine’s Desserts: Raspberry Cheesecake, Double Chocolate Bundts, Cherry Chip Brownies & MORE!
February 9, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

How was your weekend? I hope all of you had a great game day weekend. We didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but we had a great time being together and…

 

4 Favorite Christmas Breakfast Casseroles
December 23, 2015 | No Category | Shandra

Cream Cheese French Bread Casserole What would Christmas morning be without a breakfast casserole? They are super easy to make the night before, throw in the fridge and then bake when you wake up in the morning. By the time you are done opening presents you’ll have a d…

 

Christmas Cranberry Craze! Cranberry Salsa, Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding and More!
December 23, 2015 | No Category | Shandra

What would Christmas be without the sweet and sour flavor of cranberry? Cranberry is one of my favorite holiday flavors. Today I wanted to share with …

 

“He is Risen” Rolls and Five SIMPLE Easter Traditions
April 2, 2015 | No Category | Shandra

  Around our house, if things aren’t simple, they just don’t get done. It’s annoying but true. There are days I beat myself up over the fact I am not a ‘Pintrest’ ki…

 

Merry Christmas!
December 25, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

Merry Christmas everyone! I am so thankful for each of you and all of your support throughout this past year. I truly hope you have a wonderful Christmas and have time to spend with those you love most. I am so thankful for a loving Savior who came to this earth to take upon…

 

Mom’s Best Meatloaf
September 11, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

Since today is my Mom’s 60th birthday I thought I would post about one of her recipes that is my all-time favorite. This recipe for her meatloaf has been around for a long time and I have to say it’s the best I’ve ever had. Meatloaf is one of those things t…

 

Freezer Breakfast Burritos
August 27, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

Welcome to my home! Isn’t it a clean, peaceful place to be?!? Ha! I apologize for not blogging for the past week. You see..we moved into our house over 10 years ago and I decided that as soon as my kids were back in school (literally..like the day they left) I pulled o…

 

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
July 24, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

  Here in Utah July 24th is a special holiday. It’s the day we get to pay tribute to our ancestors who went before us and settled this beautiful Salt Lake Valley. I have several ancestors who crossed the Missouri plains through hardships, died along the trail and …

 

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps & My First Half Marathon
June 26, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

  It was nearly a modern day miracle the other night when I made a dinner without any butter or cheese-shocking I know 😉 I have to admit I am slightly addicted to these two ingredients and pro…

 

Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich & Favorite Restaurants in Banff Canada
June 17, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

  I’m sure it’s not a surprise but one of the highlights of our vacation to Canada was the food. Besides the higher prices on food, we were thoroughly impressed with nearly every rest…

 

Pineapple Cream Cheese Cake & a Happy Birthday to Dad!
June 13, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

  I just wanted to say happy 61st birthday to my amazing Dad! I love him so much and am so thankful for all that he has taught me. I feel so blessed to be his daughter and am so grateful to have …

 

“Orange” you glad it’s summer? Adorable end of school gift idea
June 5, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

How cute is this? My sister is watching a couple of our kids while we are out of town this week and this is what she gave my kids after they got home …

 

Cream Cheese Crescent Squares
April 21, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

Since I am completely awful about keeping a journal or scrapbooking, I hope you bear with me as I post a few pictures from our family’s weekend 😉 I hope you had a wonderful Easter as well. Ours was pretty low key but a lot of yummy food, family and fun. We had our a…

 

Chocolate Mint Oreo Cupcakes and St. Patrick’s Day
March 17, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope the Leprechauns found your homes and brought you something yummy and green..or even better, a pot of gold 😉 Yesterday we were trying to th…

 

Peanut Butter Cookies & Annual Taste Test
February 20, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

If you have read my blog for awhile you would be familiar with our family’s tradition of our annual taste tests. All of us look forward to this fun part of our trips. This year we were excited to finally figure out which brand makes the best peanut butter. My husband a…

 

Lemon Chicken Picatta & 15th Anniversary
January 14, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

  January 2nd is a special day in our family. Fifteen years ago I married my best friend. Celebrating our wedding anniversary around the New Year is such a great way to think about the many wonderful memories of the past year, and the blessing my marriage is to me. I ha…

 

Carribean Quinoa Salad
January 8, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

My name is Shandra and I love food. I think I need to go to a AAA for foodies. I am sure my love for food borders on an addiction. I pretty much eat, drink, sleep food. My job revolves around food, grocery sales, menu plans, food blogs, creating new recipes, teaching cooking…

 

Favorite Family Tradition & Fondu Cheese Sauce
December 24, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

I can’t believe I had to make one last shopping trip to Walmart today. It was an absolute zoo!! You could hardly walk down the aisles–what was I thinking?! You would be shocked but I ran o…

 

Thanksgiving Highlights and Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
December 3, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving week. It is good to be back in a routine again…kids back in school, kitchen finally clean, house quiet, pumpkin pie eaten out of the fridge (I …

 

Oatmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup
October 5, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

  This weekend is one of my favorites of the entire year. There are few times when I feel justified to sit on my couch and eat delicious food for two days straight. Our church has what’s called General Conference where the leaders and prophet of our church speak t…

 

Creamy Potato Chowder
September 2, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

  For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know my family and I have a reunion each year in Park City where we do a lot of fun and crazy traditions. With 16 grandchildren, most being under the age of 8, we have to be creative and find ways to keep [……

 

Sugar Ray BBQ Pork Chops & Happy Pioneer Day!
July 24, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

For those of you outside of Utah, you probably are unaware of our Utah holiday we celebrate tomorrow. You see, 166 years ago a group of hot, dirty, tired, hungry, famished, pioneers came to the Salt Lake Valley hoping to have a new start. A chance to finally practice their r…

 

Cut your vacation food budget in half
July 20, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

Summer is in full swing and here at Deals to Meals we are excited to help all of you save money on your vacation food budgets. If you are like my family, we love to vacation! With a family of 7 however, the food portion of our vacations can sometimes price our trips out of […

 

Peanut Butter Frosting & Birthday Cakes
July 19, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

     (Good thing he is so stinking cute–it makes up for an ugly cake 🙂 Life is funny, isn’t it? When will I learn that if you throw judgement out to the world you will eventually have to eat your words. In this case, it’s birthday cake I&#…

 

Zucchini Brownies
July 4, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

  Happy Independence Day! I hope you have some fun plans this weekend to be able to celebrate this holiday, and the amazing country we live in. I feel so blessed to live in America. I am grateful for all of the freedoms we enjoy and for all those who have sacrificed so …

 

Butter Lime Corn on the Cob
July 3, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

Have you been asked to bring a side dish to your barbeques this weekend? Here are a few of our favorite side dishes that are sure to wow your friends & family!   If you have not tried grilled corn on the cob yet, this will be a must on our holiday menu this week! [&…

 

Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs & Fathers Day Tribute
June 14, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

I am super picky when it comes to ribs.  I want the meat to just fall of the bone, I like them to be sweet and juicy and most of all I don’t want to deal with the sticky mess that they can …

 

Grilled Steak & Parmesan Herb Butter
June 11, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

  We have one week to put together our anticipated Father’s Day Menu and I am excited to share with you some of Ellen’s and my favorite ‘man-food’ recipes. For my husband this would include anything meaty and stick to your ribs goodness. It would…

 

Strawberry Cupcakes
May 12, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

    Happy Mothers Day to all of you wonderful women out there! This is a great time of year to take time to give a special thanks to all of the amazing women in our lives who influence us for good, and help us be the people we are today. I know I will […]

 

Hola Amigos!
April 24, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

  So, you may or may not have noticed, but I have been pretty much m.i.a. this past week. For years my husband and I have been saving up to go on a romantic get-away to Cancun and the much anticipated time finally came. We spent this past week in absolute paradise. Our …

 

Favorite Holiday Traditions
December 22, 2012 | No Category | Shandra

   I am sure if you are like me, the traditions of the Christmas season is what makes this time of year so special. When I think back on my childhood, there are very few presents I remember, but there are those family traditions that I will never forget, and I have…

 

Cherry Pecan Cookies
November 9, 2012 | No Category | Shandra

There are moments in life where things happen and you take a step back and realize how precious life is. I feel like most days my life feels like it is on a runaway train. I feel like there is more to do than I will ever have time to accomplish. I think our to-do […]

 

Manti Chicken Marinade & Smoritos
June 30, 2012 | No Category | Shandra

    It’s nearly July 4th and for our family that means camping, family bbq’s & lots of roasted marshmallows. I am excited to share two of my favorite recipes to have when camping. I love a good ol’ grilled hot dog every now and then, but when …

 

Cherry Chocolate Brownies and Butterscotch Bars
June 1, 2012 | No Category | Shandra

Thanks to those of you who came and visited our charity bake sale.  We had an absolute blast!  It’s amazing how great service feels.  We were all nothing but smiles, and sometimes tears at how generous and kind people are.  It is a great reminder th…

 

Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas
May 9, 2012 | No Category | Shandra

Mother’s Day is not always my favorite holiday.  You know, the guilt, the expectations…I tend to make the day less than appealing for us all (why are we so hard on ourselves as women??).  However, if I think of MY amazing mother and not the mom I wish I…

 

Quick and Easy Chili
October 28, 2011 | No Category | Shandra

There is one thing we are not lacking in our home, and that is holiday spirit. We may not be great parents in many aspects of life, but thanks to my husband, our home is a place of crazy-fun holiday traditions. The holiday festivities begin the first week in October with our…

 

Green Pizzas, Green Cookies & Green FUN
March 22, 2010 | No Category | Shandra

(We even died the alfredo sauce green for our white sauce pizzas-yum!)I know, St. Patricks Day is over, and I am a SLOW blogger! However, I wanted to share our fun idea this year that we did. Last year I made green mashed potatoes, rolls, etc., but this year we wanted to hav…

Pot of Gold Cupcakes {Pistachio}

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day weekend with these deliciously festive cupcakes. The cupcake batter has a fun flair of pistachio and the pudding makes them nice and moist, as well as leprechaun green. The buttercream frosting has a hint of blue and the cupcake is decorated with simple candies. Your kids will love decorating their rainbow with skittles, gold sprinkles, junior mints and mini marshmallows.

Check out how simple these cupcakes are to create.

Print
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Pot of Gold Cupcakes {Pistachio}


  • Author: Deals to Meals
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 18 cupcakes 1x

Description

These pistachio cupcakes are not only festive, but they are delicious! Your kids will love decorating them and celebrating the St. Patrick’s Day weekend with this fun & delicious rainbow treat. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • CAKE:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 oz.) box instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup water or lemon lime soda
  • 1 cup oil
  • 68 drops green food coloring
  • FROSTING:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • Blue food coloring (for ‘sky’ on cupcakes)
  • ¼½ cup milk
  • 1 lb.-1 ½ lb. powdered sugar
  • TOPPINGS:
  • Skittles
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Junior mints
  • Gold sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, 1 box of instant pudding mix, eggs, soda, oil, and green food coloring and mix with electric mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for about 25 -30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean to indicate the cake is done. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  2. For the Frosting:  In a bowl, and with an electric mixer, blend the butter until smooth. Add the vanilla, salt, food coloring and milk and continue to blend. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and continue to whisk until frosting is light and fluffy and the consistency you would like.
  3. Decorate the cupcake to look like a rainbow with a pot of gold at the bottom. Use skittles for the rainbow, marshmallows for the clouds, junior mint for the pot, gold sprinkles for the gold. You can add 4 green skittles as the shamrocks. 

Notes

The yellow cake mix can be switched out for a white cake mix. If you don’t like the flavor of pistachio, you can just add green food coloring and a vanilla pudding. 

  • Category: Dessert

Keywords: St. Patrick’s Day, Cupcakes, Dessert, Holidays, Rainbow Cupcakes, Spring

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

ABC’s Summer of Fun Passport (Free Download)

We are doing the happy dance over here because summer has officially begun, homeschooling is OVER (hallelujah!), Utah is starting to open up again and we are ready & raring for FUN!! A friend of mine asked me yesterday if I had ever heard of doing an ABC Summer? I hadn’t heard of this before, but have since done a little homework on how this will work. And let me tell you, we have had so much fun these past few weeks celebrating summer ABC style!

You know me, just like our Around the World fun from a month ago, I am always on the look out for inexpensive ways to have fun with my kids. I don’t want a lot of hassle, I just want simple and new ways to make the mundane days seem more exciting.

Our first adventure: A bike ride to Sonic for Strawberry Slushies-yum!!

This ABC Summer is going to be exactly what we need! My daughter and I quickly put together passports and printed them off for my boys, as well as my neices and nephews. Here is how this fun idea can work.

Print off the passports (make sure and print in the Short Edge Binding Layout). You may want to print only the first page to make sure you are printing on the right layout setting. Once you print, cut them in half horizontally and lay them in the order so that the alphabet is in order from the left to the right side of the book.

On the overview of the alphabet, brainstorm with your kids some of your favorite ideas for things you could do, places you could go, foods you could eat, etc. that start with each letter of the alphabet.

As you begin your adventures, have your kids write in their ‘passport’ what they did for that letter. I figure this is a great way to help the kids keep up their handwriting and writing skills. You can also ‘stamp’ their passport for each letter’s activity and/or print off a picture and add to each page. At the end of the summer you will have a book/passport full of awesome memories!

If you like this idea or handout, please forward our blog to your friends and family. We created them for free and we’d love if you spread the word about Deals to Meals to help share what we do with your friends. Thanks and enjoy your first week of summer! 🙂

Copycat Chick-fil-A Sauce

Yes, I am one of those people that are completely addicted to Chick-fil-A. I blame it on my teenagers, but anytime we need a quick bite to eat, it is almost always Chick-fil-A that the entire family can agree on. There is just something about their moist chicken and yummy sauces that I can’t get enough of. Not to mention their sugar free lemonade is heaven on earth!

My sweet daughter who is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is in the Dominican Republic and misses Chick-Fil-A something fierce. In every package we send to her, we always have to include TONS of sauces and that is always her favorite part. She loves all the sauces, but of course the Chicke-fil-A sauce is her fave….as it is mine 😉

Well, the other night the kids wanted me to make homemade chicken nuggets. As we were making them we decided we were craving Chick-fil-A sauce and wanted to come up with our own copycat recipe. In the end, we all LOVED it! In fact, I think I actually liked it better. If you are craving some Chick-fil-A goodness but want a simple way to bring those flavors home (and of course it’s cheaper), you’ll love this recipe. And hey..it’s Superbowl Sunday this weekend right? This would make a simple and easy appetizer recipe 😉

Print
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Chick-fil-A Sauce Copycat Recipe


  • Author: Chef Shan
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes

Description

If you love Chick-fil-A Sauce you are going to love this copycat recipe!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbs. spicy mustard
  • 2 Tbs. favorite barbecue sauce
  • 23 Tbs. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (if desired)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients until smooth. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve with chicken or pork. 

Notes

No need to wait in a long drive through line for your favorite dipping sauce! Make some homemade chicken nuggets and dip in this delicious Copycat Chick-fil-A Sauce. 

  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Chick-fil-A Sauce, Copycat Chick-fil-A

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Lemon Bar Perfection

These past couple weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. Our oldest daughter left a week ago for her mission for our church and flew to Mexico for 6 weeks and then onto the Dominican Republic. We are so excited for her, but also missing her so much. We feel so blessed that she is willing to put her college life aside for 18 months and go share the good news of Christ’s restored gospel with the sweet people of the DR. Getting her ready, enjoying every last minute together as a family and starting the summer craziness has left little time to blog, meal plan and create recipes.

For Kierra’s farewell Sunday gathering I cooked up 45 lbs. of pork and I think we’ve eaten that for the past two weeks straight. It was so awesome to watch the deals and get all of the pork we needed for only $0.99/lb. Yeah!

While we have been sending off our daughter, my good friend has a son who left to Mexico as well for his Mission in Xalapa. I decided to make some special lemon treats to bring to her to make her ‘sour’ day turn ‘sweet’. I wrapped up everything yellow and brought it over to her. I couldn’t think of anything more delicious and perfect for this sweet and sour basket than homemade lemon bars. Who doesn’t love a big plate of these?! I couldn’t believe after all these years I hadn’t blogged about my lemon bar recipe. Well, here it is friends eleven years later….and you’re going to LOVE it!! My favorite trick is sprinkling lemonade drink mix powder on the top of the bars to give it an extra zing of sour. If you like sour, you’re going to adore these bars. Enjoy!

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Lemon Bar Perfection


  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

Scale

Crust:

  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups flour

Filling:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 5 Tbs. flour
  • Zest of 6 lemons
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemons (about 6)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. dry lemonade mix powder (like Countrytime) for top of bars when cooked

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the crust, place the butter in a mixing bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds, or until slightly soft. Add all of the crust ingredients to the bowl and mix together with a pastry knife or two forks and blend until just incorporated. Place the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. 
  3. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set on aside while you make the filling.
  4. For the filling, whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth. Make sure and measure the lemon juice carefully. If you add too much juice your bars won’t set up. An exact cup is important. If you need to substitute a small portion of the juice with bottled that is fine but not ideal.
  5. Pour the filling mixture over the crust and return to the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the mixture sets up firmly. 
  6. Remove the bars from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Once they have rested, dust the top of the bars with a thin layer of powdered sugar. If you like extra sour flavor, dust the top with a lemonade dry powder mix for extra sour power 😉 A brand like countrytime lemonade mix works perfectly!
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Lemon Bars, Dessert

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KSL News Story: 14 Simple Ways to Save on Vacation Costs

Last week was such a riot! It’s not very often you find your family picture on the front page of the most popular news station in the state 😉 My kiddos thought that was pretty cool.

I was able to be interviewed by Ladd Egan from KSL5 News to help them with a story on how to help Utahn’s save money on food while on vacation. The interview was over an hour but of course they are only able to use 5-10 seconds. So, I thought I would share my entire list of tips with you to help you save BIG money on vacation!

If you are new to Deals to Meals and what we do, we’d love to offer you a TWO WEEK FREE TRIAL to see how we can help you save money and time! If you are anxious to get going and try our service for 6 months to a year, we are offering our LOWEST PRICE EVER just for you! Email save@dealstomeals.com to get our service for only $3.50 a month! This is a 25% discount and we will also throw in our E-Book for our 28 Day Healthy Meal Plan valued at $9.95 for FREE.

Now, let’s use these 14 simple ways to save on food on vacation and have a wonderful (and inexpensive) summer!

1-HAVE A PLAN: Make a plan before you leave. Know when and where you will be eating out and which meals you’ll eat in. Find coupons online for restaurants near your vacation destination to save money. Know your budget before you leave.

2-FIND A HOTEL WITH COOKING OPTIONS: When choosing a hotel, choose one with at least a mini fridge and a microwave. If you have the budget and can afford a full kitchen, even better! The money you’ll save by eating in the hotel will save you $100’s on food.

3-FREE BREAKFAST: Find a hotel that offers a free continental breakfast. For a family of 7, this could save you $25-$50 each day. If you can’t find free breakfast, this is the least expensive meal, so buy cereal, keep milk in a cooler and you have a quick and easy meal without much prep. Bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt and granola are all easy breakfast options you can keep in a cooler or mini fridge.

4-PREPARE SOME MEALS BEFORE YOU GO: Prepare a few meals at home, freeze, and bring on vacation (assuming you stay local). Any freezer meal that needs to only be warmed through in a microwave, in a skillet or on a stove are easy to bring on a trip. My favorites are pulled pork bbq sandwiches, taco meat made ahead of time works great, chicken salad sandwiches, soups, chilis, stews, etc. Warm them up and eat in the hotel to save BIG money!

5-STOCK UP: Prices for groceries in a resort or destination area are MUCH more expensive than they would be at home. Use Deals to Meals to find out where the best deals are on groceries BEFORE you go to save hundreds of dollars.

We bought all of the groceries pictured for a family getaway and spent well under $100! Remember, if you travel anywhere in the U.S. Deals to Meals can help you find the best grocery deals in the area of your trip.

6-MAKE HOMEMADE SNACKS:Instead of buying prepackaged snacks, take a few minutes before you go and make them yourself. Snacks and treats always go on sale this time of year for the best prices, so if you don’t have time to make them, watch the deals and stock up. Login to Deals to Meals to see where the best treats and snacks are on sale in your area.

 7-USE A COOLER: Even if you’re flying somewhere, you can buy an inexpensive styrofoam cooler at a local grocery store to keep some essentials cold. Your hotel will offer free ice, so this is a simple way to keep basic groceries cold (milk, cheese, lunchmeat, yogurt, etc.).

8-CUT OUT A MEAL: Yes, eating less will save you money. If you eat a hearty breakfast, most families can skip lunch and eat an early dinner. This will save $5-$15 per person per day.

9-HIGH PROTEIN SNACKS: If you are choosing to skip one meal a day, you can use high protein snacks to help you feel full longer. Choose things like nuts, dried fruit, string cheese, protein bars, protein drinks, etc. to help keep you full.

10-EAT AWAY FROM TOURIST AREAS: Eating near (or in) a tourist area will cost more than if you drive out 3-5 minutes and buy food there. Ask the locals where they like to eat and you’ll find better food at better prices–and ditch the crowds.

11-GROCERY SHOP: Make a quick stop to a local grocery store for food basics for your trip. If you can’t bring food from home, you can still get some grocery basics to make lunches or breakfasts in the hotel. Make a grocery list before you shop to save you money and time.

12-BRING KITCHEN BASICS: By bringing some basic kitchen items you can make food prep a cinch in your hotel. An electric skillet makes warming up food a breeze. Salt, pepper, a large bowl, spatula, sandwich bags and foil are all kitchen basics that will help food prep easy.

13-SAVE ON DRINKS: Bring plastic, reusable water bottles to refill with water so you don’t have to buy drinks for every member of your family. If you are a soda drinker, bring cans or bottles of soda from home so you don’t have to buy fountain drinks every time you’re thirsty.

14-EAT A LATE LUNCH: Most restaurants offer the same meals for lunch at 25-50% off their dinner pricing. Eat a late lunch/early dinner to save money and have a small snack before bed to cut costs on eating out.

Lemon Berry Ricotta Stuffed Danish Pancakes

My parents just returned home from a month long vacation to Europe. Their pictures and videos they sent home made us all anxious to be there with them! Not only their pictures of the beautiful scenery, but also their food pictures were enough to make us drool. Their last stop was to the Netherlands to visit family. In honor of them being across the world, my family and I made a Danish favorite my Mom would make when we were younger. These adorable and tasty Danish pancakes, a.k.a. Ebelskivers are so fun to make, and even more fun to eat! You can stuff these cute pancakes with just about anything, but my favorite is a Lemon Ricotta filling with a berry compote–although the Nutella filled ones are also pretty scrumptious!

I highlighted this recipe on our meal planner a couple weeks ago. I hope you loved it! If you’d like this recipe too, just login to Deals to Meals and look up Danish and you’ll find them 😉 Hope you’re having a great week!You will need this super fun Ebelskiver pan. Or, you can just spread the batter out flat like a regular pancake. Although it works, it sure isn’t as cute! These make darling little appetizers for baby showers, wedding showers, etc., so for me, it’s worth the investment. You can pick this pan up on Amazon

 

Spicy Chipotle Pork Street Tacos

The other day I was plum out of ideas as to what to make for dinner. I had only a few bell peppers in my fridge, an onion and some corn tortillas. I didn’t have time to thaw some chicken, so I turned to a roll of Jimmy Dean Sausage I had in the freezer that I could easily thaw and use for dinner. I decided to spice this pork up a little and serve on a cheesy tortilla and the combination was amazing! If you are tired of regular tacos, give these Chipotle Pork Street Tacos a try. You’re going to love them!

 

Don’t forget to check out Deals to Meals this week for all of our delicious recipes, as well as the great grocery deals on sale. In fact, this week cheese, bell peppers, onions, sour cream, avocados and sausage are all on sale this week. It’s a great time to make this recipe for well under $10 for a family of 6. 

Chipotle Sausage Street Tacos
Ingredients
  1. 1 large white onion
  2. 3-4 chipotle peppers
  3. 1 1/2 - 2 pounds ground sausage
  4. 1 red pepper, diced
  5. 1 yellow pepper, diced
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  8. 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  9. 1 tablespoon lime juice
  10. Corn tortillas
  11. Cheddar cheese
  12. Lime wedges, garnish
  13. Cilantro, garnish
  14. Avocados or guacamole
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Instructions
  1. Dice the onion into small pieces. Chop the chipotle peppers as well. Dice the peppers and set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, bring the pan to medium-high heat. Place the ground pork sausage into the pan and with a wooden spoon, break the meat up into small pieces. Once the meat is starting to heat up, add the diced onions to the sausage and saute until the sausage is cooked through. To the meat mixture, add the chopped chipotle peppers, diced bell peppers, salt and pepper, tomato paste, taco seasoning and lime juice. Continue to saute until seasoned and tender. Once meat is cooked through, turn the heat down and set aside.
  3. On a griddle pan, heat to medium heat and place several corn tortillas onto the griddle. Sprinkle with a little cheddar cheese to melt slightly. Top with some of the sausage mixture and bake until tortilla is crispy and ready to serve. Garnish with slices of avocado, sour cream and fresh cilantro.
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Turkey Stuffing Casserole

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! We are enjoying the weekend in the beautiful and sunny St. George with family. It has been wonderful to relax, spend time in the sun and be together thinking about our Savior and His sacrifices for us. 

My in laws spoiled us with the most amazing Easter feast last night. If you are like us and have leftover stuffing, potatoes, ham, turkey, etc. this recipe is a great one for you! It is everything you love about these items all put into one, flavorful casserole. Not to mention, it’s so simple to throw together even your kids can do it! Hope you enjoy!

A favorite tip of mine, is to buy this boneless turkey from Costco. It tastes fantastic and is so easy to freeze and use in meals like this. It’s even so great you can slice it and serve at any fancy meal. Your family will never know you didn’t slave over a turkey breast all morning. 

Turkey Stuffing Casserole
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups premade, leftover mashed potatoes
  2. 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  3. 1 tsp. black pepper
  4. 1/2 stick butter
  5. 3 cups water
  6. 2 boxes stove top turkey stuffing (or omit butter, stuffing and water with leftover stuffing)
  7. 1/2 red onion, diced (for stuffing)
  8. 3 stalks celery, diced (for stuffing)
  9. 2-3 cup leftover turkey, diced
  10. 2 Tbs. parsley, chopped
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Instructions
  1. If you don't have leftover mashed potatoes or stuffing, make those before you get started. For the stuffing, saute the onion and celery in the butter in a sauce pan until tender. Then add the water, stuffing flavoring and bread pieces. Bring the water to a boil, add the stuffing and seasonings, mix with a fork and then put a lid on and turn off the heat. Let the stuffing heat for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. To prepare, place the mashed potatoes on the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish. Dice the turkey and place on top of the potatoes. In a bowl, whisk together the cream of chicken soup and black pepper. Pour this mixture over the top of the turkey and potatoes. Top the entire dish with the cooked stuffing and spread evenly. Top with the chopped parsley. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and cooked. Serve with cranberry sauce if desired.
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Easter Passover Meal and Steak Pita Sandwiches

One of our families favorite traditions is our annual Passover Dinner. It is such a special night to eat a delicious meal and celebrate all that our Savior’s life (and death), means to each of us. Over the years we have evolved this tradition and this year was my favorite.

I finally printed off some cute cards to help us remember what each of the foods represent and gave the kids questions they could think about and answer during dinner. 

Here is a Google Doc to some of these EASTER HANDOUTS we use to remind us about the true meaning of Easter, as well as to help our Passover Meal be extra special.

Some years we make our favorite Grilled Chipotle Chicken Skewers for dinner, we’ve tried fish, sometimes a roast, etc. It doesn’t really matter what you serve, it’s just the feeling behind the night. 

This year I wanted to switch it up a little and I made these Garlic Lemon Steak Pita Sandwiches.I think this meal will be our new fave! It was full of flavor and went perfectly with lots of the fresh vegetables, hummus, deviled eggs, and fruit that we served along with it. Whether you are serving this meal for Easter, or just want a delicious dinner idea, this is a keeper! Happy Easter week friends.

Garlic Lemon Steak Pitas
Steak
  1. 5-6 boneless beef petite sirloin steaks
  2. 1 Tbs. lemon pepper
  3. 2 tsp. garlic pepper
Sauce for steak
  1. 3 Tbs. olive oil
  2. Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  3. 1 Tbs. lemon zest
  4. 1 tsp. salt
  5. 1 tsp. garlic powder or fresh garlic
Pitas
  1. 1 pkg. pita bread flats or pockets
  2. 1/2 green cabbage, sliced super thin
  3. 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
  4. 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  5. Grape or regular tomatoes, sliced
Sauce
  1. 1/2 cup sour cream
  2. 1/3 cup mayo
  3. 5.3 oz. plain yogurt
  4. 1/2 cucumber, diced super fine or grated (use seedless cucumber or it will be too wet)
  5. juice 1/2 lemon
  6. 1/2 tsp. salt
  7. 1 tsp. lemon pepper
  8. 1 tsp. garlic pepper
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Instructions
  1. Remove steak from the package. Season the steaks with the lemon pepper and garlic pepper generously. Heat a hot grill to high heat. When the grill is hot, place the steaks onto the grill and get a nice sear on the bottom side of the steak. Turn the steak to the other side and cook for only a few more minutes until you have your desired 'doneness' level (rare, medium, etc.). I like my steak to be cooked on the outside but a little pink in the center.
  2. While the steak is cooking, whisk together in a bowl all of the steak marinade ingredients. Set this aside to add to the steak right before serving.
  3. For the sauce, prepare all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve pitas.
  4. For the veggies, just slice them into thin pieces.
  5. Once the steak is done, remove from the grill and let rest on a plate for 3-5 minutes. Right before serving, slice the steak into thin strips and place on a plate. Drizzle with the marinade and then serve the steak in the pitas with the cucumber sauce and fresh vegetables.
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St. Patrick’s Day Family Feast

Ready for St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow? Here’s a link to our favorite meal we always eat sometime this weekend. Delicious Irish Potatoes, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Green Jello and Green Rolls (of course).

Login to Deals to Meals to find all of your favorite St. Patrick’s Day favorite ingredients on sale for great prices: green cabbage, corned beef, roast beef, potatoes, carrots, jello and much more!

Grandma’s Cherry & Chocolate Chip Jubilee Cookies

In memory of Grandma, I decided to make her famous Cherry Chocolate Chip Jubilee Cookies, to remind me of cooking with her in her kitchen. My son and I had a great time making these same cookies my Grandma and I used to make in her kitchen. Grateful for delicious food that can bring back beautiful memories.

There is something magical about cooking homemade cookies with those you love.  Hope you love these as much as we do! 

, soften

Grandma's Cherry and Chocolate Chip Jubilee Cookies
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup butter, softened
  2. 1 cup powdered sugar
  3. 3/4 tsp. salt
  4. 1 Tbs. maraschino cherry juice
  5. 1 capful almond extract
  6. 3 drops pink or red food coloring (optional)
  7. 2 1/4 cups flour
  8. 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
  9. 12 oz. milk chocolate chips
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the salt, cherry juice, almond extract, flour and food coloring. Mix until creamed together and smooth. Add in the chocolate chips to the batter and mix.
  3. Place some parchment paper on the bottom of a cookie sheet. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon golf ball sized dough pieces on the cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top. Don't over cook the cookies or they will dry out. Slightly under done is better than over done. Remove them from the oven and let rest until cooled.
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Bloody Cyclops Burgers with Halloween Roasted Potatoes

Who’s ready for Halloween tonight? I feel like this holiday has snuck up on us. I’m sure you already have dinner plans, but if you don’t, here is a simple meal I threw together last night that was really ‘spooky’ and fun. These bloody burgers are not only healthy, but a fun way to have the kids eat something healthy before they head out trick or treating. The only thing you probably don’t have on hand are purple potatoes. These can be kind of expensive per pound, but you only need a few to make this side dish super fun. Hope you have a safe and wonderful Halloween!

Bloody Cyclops Burgers
Burgers
  1. 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  2. 1/2 red onion, diced
  3. 1 Tbs. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  4. 2 Tbs. bbq sauce
  5. 1 Tbs. Sriracha
  6. 1 red onion, sliced
  7. 2-3 Tbs. butter
  8. Salt and pepper, to taste
  9. 1 egg per burger
  10. 2-3 Tbs. butter or olive oil
  11. Lettuce pieces
  12. Tomato, sliced (optional)
  13. Hamburger buns (optional)
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine all of the burger ingredients together. Mix well and then form into patties.
  2. Slice the red onions into thin strips.
  3. Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Once it's up to temperature, place the patties on the grill and cook on both sides until cooked through and they have nice grill marks. While the burgers are cooking, saute the onions.
  4. In a large saute pan, heat a couple tablespoons of butter until melted. Add the sliced red onion and saute until tender and soft. Season with salt and pepper. Once the onions are soft, set aside in a seperate bowl. In this same pan, heat back to medium heat and add another couple tablespoons of butter until melted. Crack several eggs (one per burger) and let them start to bubble in place for 30-60 seconds without touching. Place a lid over the eggs and turn the heat down to low to finish cooking. You'll want to keep the eggs with the yolk runny so it drips over your burger.
  5. To assemble the burgers, place some mayonnaise on the bottom of a hamburger bun (unless eating gluten free). Place the burger on the bun. Add some of the carmelized onions and top with the egg. Place a knife through the yolk of the egg to keep the burger together and to have it drizzle down the burger. Squirt some Sriracha sauce or ketchup down the egg and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, etc. if you wish.
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Halloween Roasted Purple and Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients
  1. 2-3 sweet potatoes
  2. 2 lbs. purple potatoes
  3. 2-3 Tbs. olive oil
  4. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  5. Fresh parsley, garnish
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Scrub the sweet potatoes and purple potatoes. Cut off any imperfections. Peel the sweet potatoes and then cube them into bite sized pieces. Dice the purple potatoes as well into the same size of pieces as you did the sweet potatoes. Place these onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with Montreal Steak Seasoning, salt and/or pepper. Toss the potatoes to coat.
  3. Put the potatoes into the oven on the top rack and bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven, toss with a spatula (to prevent sticking) and return to the oven for another 7-10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown. Garnish with some chopped, fresh parsley and serve.
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Vegan Stuffed Halloween ‘Pumpkin’ Bell Peppers

Love these super fun…and spooky Halloween Stuffed Bell Peppers. Not only are they healthy, but such a fun activity for kids too. If you want more healthy recipes, make sure and follow Ellen @mynovavita on Instagram. She’s the best!! Thanks Ellen for this festive recipe!

Halloween Stuffed Bell Peppers
Ingredients
  1. 4 bell peppers, tops cut off and seeds hollowed out (can carve faces if you want!)
  2. *you may have to shave off a small sliver on the bottom of the pepper to get them to stand correctly
  3. 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. 1 cup quinoa
  5. 1 ¾ cup broth
  6. 1 cup salsa
  7. 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  8. 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  9. Salt and pepper as needed
  10. Shredded cheese, optional (if not wanting a vegan recipe)
  11. Cilantro and sour cream for garnish (optional)
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat a large skillet with 1 tbsp oil, toast the quinoa until color changes slightly and they start popping (3-5 minutes). Pour in broth, bring to a boil and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is evaporated. Fluff with a fork and stir in speces, salsa and seasoning. Fold in beans. Fill the bell peppers with the stuffing and place in a 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until peppers are tender and filling is heated through.
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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

What could be better than a birthday and a pumpkin roll?!? Two things I completely love. Not to mention a day spent with family, friends and a night out with Todd. Can’t get better than that combo!

As for the recipe, I always use my friend Jamie’s tried and true Pumpkin Roll Recipe. Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Protein Pancakes

This past week it was my handsome sons sweet 16th birthday. We had such a fun time celebrating with family and friends and have a hard time believing he’s already such a grown up young man. He actually is taller than most of the men in our family and has just about passed up Todd. Seriously…when did he turn into a man-child?!? So grateful for this kiddo and the example he is to all of us. He keeps us all on our toes, can be a big tease but is deep down a big teddy-bear. He is constantly surrounded by 15 younger boy cousins who look up to him in every way. So thankful he’s the first boy born to our crazy-clan to help show them how to be real men. Sure love you Con!In honor of Conner’s birthday, I wanted to share with you his ‘special’ chocolate pancake recipe he created years ago. He kind of has a major sweet tooth like his Mom (sorry Bud), so anytime he has the chance, he tries to sneak sugar into his diet. Why not start the day, especially a birthday, with these double chocolate protein pancakes, right? Over the years I’ve encouraged him to add some protein powder and wheat flour to give them a little more nutrients and he’s glad he can’t really taste the difference 😉 If you want to make your teenage boy happy, or anyone in your family for that matter, give these pancakes a try! You’re going to love them. Thanks Conner for this tried and true recipe 😉

Last year my husband started a tradition with our daughter when she turned 16 to take her on her first date. He made the night so special for her, gave her a ring, took her to a nice restaurant, etc. Now that our son was 16, it was my turn to spoil him and take him out on his first date. We had such a great time! It’s funny with 5 kids how little time you get to have one-on-one with your kiddos. I kept saying, “Conner, you are so funny!?!” He would say, “You know Mom, if you’d spend more time with me, you’d realize a lot of things about me you don’t know.” He said this with a twinkle in his eye because he knows that would break my heart. Really though, it’s so true. Life just whizzes by and before you know it, you have these grown up kids and you’re not sure where the time went. I felt so grateful the whole night for the chance to be Conner’s Mom. There are many days I wonder why it was me. Not having brothers, I feel really inadequate to know how to raise a teenage boy. However, I would trade our journey for anything. He has taught me the most about patience, unconditional love, how to loosen up (yep…hard for me!) and so many more things. I just love this kid and am grateful I got to celebrate his birthday in a special way. Ladies…he is officially ready to date and was nothing but a gentleman and a super great young man. Love you Conner! 

Todd and Kierra last year on their special 16th birthday date 😉 Love these people of mine!

Triple Chocolate Protein Pancakes
Ingredients
  1. 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup cocoa powder
  4. 6 tsp. baking powder
  5. 5-5 1/2 cups flour (did 3 cups wheat flour)
  6. 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  7. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  8. 6 eggs
  9. 6 cups milk
  10. 6 T. oil
  11. 12 oz. bag dark chocolate chips (optional)
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Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the buttermilk (or milk), eggs, oil, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa powder and chocolate protein powder to the batter and whisk until incorporated. If the batter is too runny, add a little more flour. If it's too thick, add a little more milk. If your batter is too thin, your pancakes won't be light and fluffy. Heat a griddle to medium heat and spray with cooking spray or add a little butter to melt. Pour 1/2 cup of the batter onto the hot griddle. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips to the top of one side of the pancake. Cook on the first side until the bubbles in the batter begin to pop and the sides of the pancake become more firm. Flip the pancake and cook on the second side for a few more minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pancake from the griddle and serve with your favorite syrup. You can also top these with fresh berries or fruit for a delicious breakfast.
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s official, as of today all five of our kiddos are back to school. It’s a bitter sweet day. I thought all I wanted was some peace and quiet and now that we have the house to ourselves, Todd and I feel a little sad. We’ve watched several Hallmarks and now the cooking network and I have to admit it is kind of nice to not have Mom guilt for working while they’re home, but I do miss them. It’s been an awesome summer and I’m so glad I still get to be home with my best friend during the day. Thanks Todd for keeping me company!

So..for those of you looking for something to do before kids get home (ha!), here is a favorite cookie recipe my kids requested for yesterday. Who doesn’t love a classic peanut butter cookie? This recipe is a little more fluffy and cake like. If you want more of a chewy peanut butter cookie, here’s a recipe you’ll also love.

Not to mention there are some great deals on peanut butter throughout the country. Many Kroger sales have awesome deals on either JIF peanut butter or Kroger. Login to Deals to Meals to see all of the best grocery deals in your area. Check back TOMORROW for some back-to-school giveaways and an awesome Deals to Meals Membership SPECIAL!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/4 cup peanut butter
  2. 1 1/4 cup butter
  3. 1 cup white sugar
  4. 2 cup brown sugar
  5. 2 tsp. vanilla
  6. 2 tsp. salt
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 2 tsp. baking powder
  9. 2 tsp. baking soda
  10. 6 1/2 cups flour
  11. 12 oz. bag peanut butter chocolate chips
  12. 12 oz. bag milk chocolate chips
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Instructions
  1. Cream the peanut butter and butter in a large mixing bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugars, vanilla, salt and eggs. Mix together until whipped and light. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix until combined. Once the dough has come together, add the two bags of chocolate chips.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cookie spray. Place golf ball sized cookie dough balls onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until lightly golden brown (don't over cook or they will dry out). Remove from the pan and let cool until ready to serve.
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11 Healthy, Creative and FUN Home School Lunch Ideas

Hi Friends! Do we have a treat for you? My dear friend Ellen Johnson has put together 11 of the most adorable, healthy, creative, delicious and FUN home lunch ideas you’ll ever see! She taught a class for some ladies in our neighborhood and we were all speechless at how cute these ideas are. Not many of us, besides Ellen, would make lunches to this caliber every day, but use some of these ideas as a spring board for your children’s lunches. Let’s be serious, what adult wouldn’t love these lunches too? 

Ellen uses a few, inexpensive tools to help make these lunches EXTRA fun! Best part about these tools are you buy them once and you are set for many years to come. I have linked them to Amazon so you can quickly add them to your cart if you’re interested.  I think it’s these small details that will really ‘wow’ your kiddos. Keep all of these pictures of the lunches on a small key ring so your children can look through their options and decide which ones they would like each week. You can then use Deals to Meals to help you know where the best prices are on all of your lunch favorites. Here is the link for the wallet sized images to be printed.

Not all bento boxes are created equal. Pull up bento boxes and Amazon and you’ll get lost in the pages of options. We have simplified your search to some of the highest rated and inexpensive options for your family. Ellen has high taste, but she has used her Planet Box trays for all of her children and they are still awesome. They also come with a carrying case which is great. However, choose the bento box that works best for your budget and children. Below are some options from $9.99-$79.95. 

Highest quality and Ellen’s favorite: Planet Box Rover Bento Box $79.95 (will last you forever and has a carrying case!)

Under $30 Option: Bentgo Kids Children’s Lunchboxes and Container $27.99

Under $20 Option: Fit and Fresh Bento Box $19.99

Under $10 Option: Bentgo Kids Tray with Lid $9.99

#1 Penguin & Peanut Butter Palooza

Whole carrots cut into penguin shapes with these 6 piece animal vegetable cutters, ranch died with blue food coloring and put into these 2 oz. disposable food containers (comes in a 125 pk. which is awesome), veggie straws, strawberries drizzled with chocolate and sprinkles, small treat and a peanut butter honey sandwich punched with these heart shape cutters

#2 Heavenly Hummus

Hummus cups, sliced carrots and celery, small treat, candied nuts, fresh fruit and pita bread cut into strips. 

#3: Greek Chicken and Tzatziki 

Grilled or boiled chicken cut into slices, feta cheese, cut up cucumbers, pita bread slices, Tzatziki sauce, grape tomatoes, small treat. 

#4 Chicken Salad Wraps

Chicken Salad Sandwiches or Wraps, banana written on with edible markers, small treat, clementines, veggie chips

#5 Sushi 

Wrapped Sushi Rolls (buy the seaweed wraps, microwave some sticky rice, add sliced cucumbers, cream cheese and roll up. Dip in wasabi, soy sauce and ginger. Add some Asian candies, treats or Hi-Chews

#6 Tortellini Extravaganza

Boiled and cooked tortellini or ravioli (Costco’s is great), sliced basil, shredded cheese, pepper shapes (cut with these 5 shape kit for $5.95), marinara sauce in disposable container, fresh broccoli, fruit, pita bread strips and small treat.  

#7 Children’s ‘Beary’ Favorite

Peanut Butter and jam sandwich punched with this cute bear design, pirates bootie (healthier than chips), Peanut Butter Protein Balls, fresh fruit or veggies and small treat. 

#8 Harvest Happy Meal

Mickey Mouse Veggie Chips, boiled egg pressed with Yunko Egg Design Press (set of 6 for $7.99), apple cut in pieces of in half and filled with peanut butter and a gummy worm, fresh fruit and a small treat. 

#9 Bruschetta 

Crackers or small bruschetta bread, sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and pesto in small containers

#10 Tic Tac Toe, Here We Go!

Spread some peanut butter and bananas in between two slices of bread. Put them together and cut off the sides and crust. Cut the bread into 9 equal squares. Place some chocolate chips into a ziploc bag and microwave for 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Clip off the edge of the bag and drizzle X’s and O’s on the pieces of bread. Add to this lunch a string cheese, popcorn, veggie and fruit died animal crackers and a small treat.  

#11 Yogurt Parfait

Greek yogurt mixed with some chia seeds, granola, fresh fruit, small treat. 

Campfire Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

I was looking through my files and came across a cake picture that I forgot to share with you from last year. This cake is so stinking cute and would be perfect for any end of summer gatherings, or summer birthday parties. Buy the ‘death by chocolate’ Costco cake, add a few pirouette cookies, some roasted marshmallows and some candied ‘fire’ and you have a cake that not only looks gourmet, but tastes like it too. Of course you can make your own cake, but if you’re in a pinch for time, this cake works perfectly! I hope you are having a wonderful summer. 

*Check out the method to making this easy cake HERE

5 Favorite Camping Meals to Simplify Your Summer

This post is probably coming a little too late, but in case you have a trip planned later this summer, I wanted to share a few tips to make camping easy (and delicious)! My husband and I are big fans of camping. We love to get away and spend some quiet time with the family in the beauty of nature. Whether we are camping, or even on an extended stay in a hotel, there are a few meals I never leave home without. 

These meals are so simple, even a kid can make them! My son Isaac loved turning on the stove each night to warm up our dinner. With just a little forethought, you can make camping a breeze!

BREAKFAST

Breakfast and lunch have become simplified over the years for our family. I used to make big, homemade breakfasts. I have to admit I have become a little lazy over the years and we now only have cereal, yogurt and granola, or bagels with fruit. These meals are super simple and allows us to not have to clean any dishes–which is a bonus!

However, my sister did make these Overnight Oatmeal Jars which were super yummy and would be easy to make ahead of time. These jars can be made a few days in advance and will be ready to eat when you need. All you do is add regular oats in a jar, some fresh fruit, real maple syrup, dash of salt and almond milk and lightly shake. Keep these jars in the fridge overnight (or for 1-2 days) and then serve with a little more almond milk as desired. You can play around with any flavors you’d like–add some chocolate protein powder, some coconut, chocolate chips and bananas for a chocolate version. Add some pumpkin and cinnamon for a fall flair. The options are limitless. 

LUNCH

Lunch is even easier, we only do sandwiches. Bring a healthy portion of bread, lunch meat, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and condiments and you’re set for days 😉 Nothing fancy, just easy to throw together in a hurry. 

DINNER

Dinner is my favorite meal while camping. Don’t you think everything just tastes better up in the mountains? Maybe it’s just me, but I LOVE meal time while camping. It makes me happy!

Here are the five meals we ALWAYS eat when we’re camping. I’ve become so accustomed to it that I don’t even think anymore. The week or two before we go camping I double these recipes and freeze half of them to enjoy while away. These are some of our family’s favorites, easy recipes and I hope you enjoy them too!

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Who doesn’t love these? They are great for lunch or dinner, whichever you need. In fact, I usually make a huge bowl  of this so we can enjoy them for a simple dinner (usually the first day when we’re setting up) and for lunch the next day. 

Mexican Tacos with Black Beans and Corn

The thing I love about these tacos is they can feed an army! With the black beans and corn added to the meat, this meal can be stretched to feed several people. I love to make extra of this taco meat and use for a taco salad for an easy lunch. There is nothing easier than tacos when camping. Shred some lettuce, dice some tomatoes, serve with shredded cheese and away you go! If you like double decker tacos, warm some refried beans and serve some beans in between a flour and hard shell taco.  Your family will be filled and happy before you know it!

Shredded BBQ Chicken or Pork Sandwiches

Can’t get easier than this recipe. Throw some chicken or pork in a slow cooker and let the machine do the work. After serveral hours drain off the excess juices and shred the meat. Add BBQ sauce before you pack the meat, or serve it on the side once you’ve warmed the meat up at camp. For a little gourmet flair, add some sliced avocado and some chipotle mayo (shown above). Serve these sandwiches with baked beans, watermelon and chips. Easy-peasy and super yummy!

Tangy Sloppy Joes

What’s more American than a sloppy joe? The best part about these, is when I make up a big batch of taco meat, I double the ground beef and use the other half for the sloppy joes. The base is the same of an onion and ground beef (or turkey), so it makes these two recipes easy to make at the same time. Once the meat is ground, I put half of the meat in a second pan and turn that into sloppy joes. I love my Mom’s original recipe for sloppy joes. They are a little tangy, spicy and sweet. The perfect combo, if you ask me!

Hot Dog or Hamburger Barbecue (or Healthier Salad Option)

My husband and kids love hot dogs and their camping trip wouldn’t be complete without that as a meal. I on the other hand, like a little healthier option of a homemade salad. I usually plan a nice salad as a side dish to the hot dogs then we both are happy. We have too many delicious salad recipes to mention, so just search ‘salad’ and you’ll have plenty to choose from. Want a fun twist for your hot dogs? Give these Hawaiian Polish Dogs a try. They are so good even I would like them 🙂 

I hope these meals will help you with your next camping trip or vacation. If you have any favorite meals you like to make, I’d love to hear about them 🙂 Leave us a comment and give us some more ideas!

Best Oreo Desserts

It’s almost Father’s Day and that means every kind of snack, chip, cookie or treat is on sale this week. The Dad’s in our life must be known for having a sweet tooth! This is one of the only times a year that Oreo cookies go on sale for less than Costco. If you are an Oreo fan, or if the Father’s in your life love Oreo’s, this is the week to stock up. I’m sure Oreos will last a while in food storage, right? That is, if I don’t eat them first!

Watch for Oreo cookies to go on sale close to $2 to $2.50 a package. That’s a great deal and the time to make all of these amazing Oreo desserts! Looking for a sweet treat to make your Dad this week? I rounded up my favorite Oreo desserts from some of my favorite food blogs to share with you today. Thanks Mell, Deborah and Jamie for sharing these incredible recipes with us today! 

Deals to Meals Peanut Butter Oreo Brownies

Deals to Meals Homemade Oreo Cookies

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Jamie’s Oreo Cookies and Cream Cookies

Jamie’s Oreo Turtle Bars

Favorite Family Recipes Winger’s Asphault Pie

Deals to Meals Oreo Raspberry Cheesecake

Taste and Tell Oreo Cherry Cheesecake Bites

 

Puff Pastry Apple Roses

If you’re a fan of scanning Pintrest for delicious recipes, you’ve probably no doubt seen these Puff Pastry Apple Roses. They are literally everywhere online lately! These make the  sweetest, most delicate dessert for any wedding shower, baby shower or ladies lunch you have upcoming. The best part about them is they are really not hard to make. Despite their intricate design, it is nothing more than slicing apples and rolling them up in pastry dough. Three ingredients and you’re done! How fun is that? 

For this recipe, I used the talented Sherri’s recipe from To Simply Inspire. Her method I liked the best and hope you enjoy making these too! Thanks Sheri 😉

Hot Corn Queso

Want a fun way to get to know your neighbors? Our neighborhood has started dinner groups and they are a blast. All you need are a couple people to host, and several people to attend. The person who hosts plans the main dish and then everyone else coming brings side dishes for the meal. Simple, but a great way to get to know all of your awesome neighbors. 

My group had an amazing meal with ribs, cheesy potatoes, cornbread, homemade macaroni and cheese, and everything else delicious and Southern. Not only was the food amazing, but it was so great to get to know some new people.

For those lucky enough to go to Ellen’s house, they got treated to a Mexican feast. She sent me a recipe for this Hot Corn Queso Dip to share with you. Oh my! How scrumptious does this look? My mouth is watering just thinking about how delicious it would be. I’ll be making this asap. Serve this as a side dish or appetizer to make any party or dinner a success! Thanks Ellen for another great recipe. 

Hot Corn Queso
Ingredients
  1. 4 cans sweet corn
  2. 2 cans creamed corn
  3. 1 large red bell pepper, diced (or 1/2 red 1/2 orange for more color!)
  4. 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, diced (seeds/veins removed)
  5. ¼ to ½ cup diced pickled jalapeno peppers
  6. 6 Tbs. butter
  7. 8 oz. cream cheese
  8. 1 tsp paprika
  9. 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I like sharp)
  10. Salt and pepper, to taste
  11. ¼ cup chopped cilantro for topping
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large saucepan, saute bell peppers and fresh jalapeño to soften. In the same sauce pan add remaining butter and cream cheese.
  3. Stir often until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add your corn, creamed corn and pickled jalapeños.
  5. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir in 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese and stir until fully melted.
  7. Pour into a 9X13 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray and top with remaining cheddar.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly! Top with cilantro and serve with your favorite tortilla chips or as a side dish for a Mexican fiesta!
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 Login to Deals to Meals to find out where you can buy all of these ingredients at the best prices. Here locally peppers, cream cheese, canned corn and cheese are all on sale for great prices. It’s a great time to make this recipe for cheap 😉

Easter Recipe Roundup: 16 Favorite Easter Recipes

Before all of your Easter meal plans are finalized, I wanted to share a few of our favorite Easter recipes with you, as well as others from the web. These blog authors are so talented and I’m excited to share there ideas with you (seriously…look at those chicks. Darling!!) Hope you are having a great Easter week. 

Deviled Egg Chicks by Natasha’s Kitchen

Carrot Pot Hummus by Pinch of Nom

Easter Rainbow Bread by Deals to Meals

Easter Breakfasts

Egg Baskets by Laughing Spatula

Bunny Pancakes by Taste of Home

Strawberry Infused Waffles by Deals to Meals

Easter Treats

Bunny Bum Cake by Betty Crocker

Easter Bunny Cake by Betty Crocker

Easter Chocolate Nests (No Bake) by DeliciouslyYum

Krispy Easter Egg Treats by The Pioneer Woman

Orange Bunny Buns by Deals to Meals

Easter He is Risen Rolls by Deals to Meals

Easter Main Dish

“Passover” Meal plus our Naan Bread and Rice Pilaf

Honey & Brown Sugar Glazed Spiral Ham

Honey and Brown Sugar Glazed Spiral Ham
Ingredients
  1. 5-6 lb. spiral ham
  2. 1/4 cup whole cloves
  3. 1 cup pineapple juice
  4. 1 cup brown sugar
  5. 1/2 cup honey
  6. 2 oranges, juiced
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the ham in a roasting pan and dot with cloves (optional). In a saucepan, combine the pineapple juice, brown sugar, honey and orange juice. Stir and simmer over medium-low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the glaze over the ham.
  3. Bake the ham uncovered for 1 hour in the preheated oven. Remove the ham and serve. Spoon the extra juices and glaze from the bottom of the pan on top of the ham before serving to keep it juicy.
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Cheesy Potatoes

Sautéed Rainbow Carrots

 

 

Free Prince of Peace Digital Downloads: Creating a Sacred Easter Week

I can’t believe it’s Easter time already. It feels like it was just yesterday we were celebrating at my sisters house with our annual Passover meal. I love this time of year and the chance we have to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is my King, and I couldn’t love and honor Him more. He is the one who brings me peace and I am so thankful to our church for sharing a new series of inspiring messages about Christ, titled Prince of Peace. Seeing as we have one week before Easter, I wanted to share a few of these amazing resources you can use to help keep your family centered on Christ this next week. And yes, they are all free 😉 

New Prince of Peace Video:

This video beautifully depicts the life and mission of Jesus Christ. It’s a must see, especially for your family. 

8 Principles taught from The Prince of Peace:

Watch an inspiring video for each of these eight principles. We are planning on watching one each day before Easter. Use my cousin’s Prince of Peace FREE printable booklet to help record your thoughts on these principles. 

FREE Prince of Peace Handouts and Printables:

My amazingly talented cousin Courtney Aitken, along with my friend and neighbor Shannon Foster, have come up with these darling, free printables for the Prince of Peace program. They are so incredibly talented it blows my mind. Every printable they design is something I want to frame and hang on my wall. They are beautiful women and create beautiful work. Check out all of their printouts and what they offer on their site The Red Headed Hostess

Our family is going to be focusing on one principle of the 8 Prince of Peace Principles each day. I am printing out a small booklet (from above printout) for each of my kids and having them do a little journaling each day about what they learned. Such a simple and great way to focus on the Savior each day. 

Easter Week:

See pictures and scriptures that explain what Christ did during “Holy Week” or the final week prior to Easter.

Bible Videos:

Our children LOVE these Bible videos. We love to read the book of John during the month of March and watch a corresponding video with each chapter that we read. It’s been neat to see their testimonies and love of our Savior grow as they watch these touching videos.

Our 5 Simple Easter Traditions:

We like to keep things simple around our home. Here are a five of our Easter traditions that help keep Christ the center of our Easter holiday. 

*Check back all week for delicious Easter recipes that will make your meal planning simple & fun!

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Pancakes & Leprechaun Smoothies

SPDHappy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! For our clan that means waking up to some favorite green treats, a note from the Leprechaun, green milk and lots of cousin’s over for green pancakes and smoothies. We had a great time this morning and wanted to share these healthy St. Patrick’s Day recipes with you. They’d make a great after school snack or even simpler dinner! Hope you enjoy 🙂 

leprechaun smoothie

Leprechaun Smoothies
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Almond milk (or regular milk)
  2. 5.3 oz. vanilla yogurt
  3. 1 cup spinach
  4. 1/2 frozen banana
  5. 2 heaping scoops of vanilla protein powder
  6. 1 1/2 cups ice cubes
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Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients into a large blender (like a Blentec or Ninja) and puree until smooth. Serve cold.
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healthy green pancakes

Healthy St. Patrick's Day Pancakes
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups milk
  2. 1 cup frozen or fresh spinach
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 4 Tbs. canola oil or melted butter
  5. 2 Tbs. sugar
  6. 2 tsp. baking powder
  7. 2 cups flour (can use whole wheat flour)
  8. 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  9. 3/4 tsp. salt
  10. 1 green apple, core removed and diced small
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Instructions
  1. In a large blender, blend together the milk and spinach until completely smooth (and green). If you are using a Blendtec blender you can add the remaining ingredients (except the apple) and mix on the 'batter' setting. If you don't have a large blender, just pour the milk/spinach mixture into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients until smooth. Remove the core from the apple and then dice into small pieces. Add the apples to the pancake and mix.
  2. Heat a griddle to medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place a spoonful of batter onto the griddle and cook until bubbles in the pancake pop. Flip the pancake over and cook on the other side until cooked through. Serve with regular syrup or butter syrup.
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Planning the Perfect Party {Menu, Decor, Favorite Things}

Last week was my sisters 35th birthday and we decided to throw her a surprise birthday party. She is a huge fan of birthday’s so we wanted to make this one special. Instead of just going out to lunch we wanted to throw a party that would help her feel loved and special. It was such a success I wanted to share some tips that made this party unforgettable. 

 

I have to give all of the credit to my two dear friends Amber and Betsy. I handled the food and they were in charge of set up and decor (two things I don’t do!). Give me food assignments any day, but to make something look beautiful, that’s totally out of my comfort zone. Didn’t they do such a great job though? It was seriously magical!

 

Favorite Menu

No matter what party I am throwing, this is my go-to menu of choice. It’s easy, can be prepared a day (or two) in advance and is a crowd pleaser for everyone. Here’s what we served:

*Fruit Kabobs (any of your favorite fruit on a skewer)

*Sparkling Grape Punch (two 2 liters of Fresca or Squirt & 12 oz. Welch’s White Grape Juice Concentrate)

*Favorite Brownies and/or cheesecake

 

Place Settings

Betsy did an amazing job mixing disposable items with real place settings. We didn’t want to spend the afternoon washing dishes, so we used a nice square paper plate with the plastic ware that looks like it’s real silver. For the dessert plates, she has collected different eclectic small plates from the local D.I. that all have a soft, antique look. They were darling! She also has collected different shapes and sizes of goblets. The modge-podge look worked perfectly together and made the table seem extra special.

(The biggest problem with planning a party is knowing who to invite. Without hesitation we could have had 50 amazing ladies at my sisters party. Not inviting everyone is the problem–if only my house was larger to hold everyone :/)

 

Décorations

Betsy put a strip of burlap down the center of the table and had two matching floral arrangements on the center table. Along the other tables were lots of mis-match candle holders with candles in white and gold. The lit candles made the table feel super romantic and elegant. She also printed off small images with the ‘birthday number’ and framed them on the table. You could also print out pictures of the special guest and put those on the table. A white table cloth made the perfect blank canvas for the table.

 

Favorite Things Party

This was the most adorable idea ever! Each person who comes to the party is asked to bring something that represents their favorite thing about the birthday person (or bride, mother-to-be, etc.). For example, my sister loves to write thank you cards to people, so someone brought a stack of thank you cards for her. Another person brought scripture markers because she loves to read her scriptures. My sister is a great conversationalist and is always giving compliments, so I gave her a big bag of conversation hearts. We told everyone to bring small and simple things but you could be as elaborate as you wish. The sweet part was everyone sharing things they loved about my sister. There were lots of tears and laughs which made the party memorable.

 

Whether you’re planning a future birthday party, bridal shower or baby shower, I hope these tips and ideas make your party a great success!

Happy Birthday Sista!

Christmas Swirl Bread

My sister is a bread genius! She is the one that came up with our Rainbow Bread that people have loved on You Tube. It is such a fun, creative way to take bread from boring to beautiful. Well, she decided to use this same technique and turn our favorite bread recipe into this Christmas Bread. How cute is that?! With a little red and green dye, you can make this bread too! A fun way to serve bread this Christmas season. Enjoy 😉

Check out our Rainbow Bread Video for the method of how to make this bread. It’s so fun!!

Christmas Swirl Bread
Makes 5-6 loaves
Ingredients
  1. 7 cup white flour
  2. 2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
  3. 2 1/2 Tablespoon instant yeast
  4. 5 cups hot water (120-130 F)
  5. 2 Tablespoon salt
  6. 2/3 cup oil
  7. 2/3 cup honey or 1 c. sugar (I like honey the best!)
  8. 2 1/2 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice
  9. 5-5 1/2 cups more white flour
  10. 1 container red food coloring
  11. 1 container green food coloring
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If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. Mix together the first three ingredients in your mixer with a dough hook. Add water all at once and mix for 1 minute; cover and let rest for 10 minutes (this is called sponging). Add salt, oil, honey or sugar, and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. Add last bit of flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between each cup. Beat for about 6-10 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This makes very soft dough.
  2. Pre-heat oven for 1 minute to lukewarm and turn off. Turn dough onto oiled counter top; divide the dough into two pieces. Add one of the balls back into the mixer with the dough hook. Place a cloth over the other ball of dough so it doesn't dry out. Add one container of food coloring into the ball of dough (use one color at a time). Mix the dough until the food coloring dyes the dough to the vibrancy of the color you are looking for. Once the dough has been colored, remove the dough ball and put into a bowl. Place the second dough ball into the mixer. Add a container of green food coloring to the ball of dough and continue to mix until incorporated.
  3. Once the dough is colored, you can start forming your loaves. Spray each of the bread pans. Take a portion of each color and spread it out into a rectangle shape with your hands. Add the second color on top of the bottom layer and continue back and forth with red and then green. Roll up the dough into a a rectangle shape, the length of your bread pan. Smooth down the edges and place the dough into the greased baking pan. Continue to do this for the remaining bread loaves. There is no specific way the bread needs to be rolled. Just be creative and combine the dough together any way you'd like. Once the dough has all been rolled into the pans, let the bread rise in warm oven for 10-15 minutes, or the until dough reaches the top of the pan. Do not remove bread from the oven; turn oven to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks. Slice the bread and be surprised at your different designs. Enjoy!!
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Homemade Hot Chocolate

 

 The first holiday tradition of the season for our family is the second Sunday of November we always put up our Christmas tree (okay, trees–yes, my husband puts up 10–yikes!). When we put up our big tree in the family room we always watch Polar Express and have hot chocolate. It’s the perfect show to watch while putting up the tree because there isn’t much of a story line, so if you get side tracked, that’s okay. Ha! Nothing fancy right, but you can’t believe how excited the kids get to do this every year. Simple, yet fun. Let the holidays begin!


Homemade Hot Chocolate
Ingredients
  1. 2 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1 cup cocoa powder
  3. 1 1/4 cup dry powdered milk
  4. 1 tsp. salt
  5. 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  6. 1 tsp. vanilla (if making right away)
  7. 6 cup hot water (or milk)
  8. 1/2-1 cup milk chocolate or semi sweet chocolate chips
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Instructions
  1. In a large pan whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, dry powdered milk, salt and cornstarch. Keep cocoa mix in an airtight container if you're not using the whole thing at one time. When making cocoa, add 3 T. cocoa mix to 1 cup of hot water. If you like your cocoa more chocolatey, add more cocoa mix or the chocolate chips (optional). For a really creamy hot chocolate, add warmed milk instead of water. Serve with marshmallows or whipping cream. For a fun holiday twist, add crushed peppermints on top of hot chocolate and a drop of peppermint extract to the cocoa.
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Cherry Peach Cobbler with Brown Sugar Crumble and Summer Happenings

 One of my favorite parts about summer is all of the fresh fruit that goes on sale. I love that fresh peaches, apricots, cherries, watermelon and cantaloupe are all on sale this week. I am a huge fan of cobblers and wanted to use some of the fruits on sale to come up with a new, delicious recipe I could share with you. I needed a quick dessert the other night for a family event so I used the peaches and cherries I bought at the store this past week. I had never used fresh cherries in a cobbler before,  but I loved their juicy, sweet flavor they added. I am sure you could use apricots instead of peaches as well, you might need to add a little apricot nectar to loosen them up though. No matter what fruits you choose to use in this recipe, this brown sugar crumble is heaven!! I hope you are having a great week and give this recipe a try 😉

*Looking for fresh produce on sale? Login to Deals to Meals to see where the best sales are in your area.

For those here in Utah, you’ve got to check out the Payson-Nebo Loop. It was breathtaking and such a beautiful place to camp and hike. Can’t believe I had never been there before!
Summer fun here on the home front 😉

 

Cherry Peach Cobbler with Brown Sugar Crumble
Ingredients
  1. 5-7 large peaches
  2. 2-3 cups cherries
  3. 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  4. 1/4 cup brown sugar
Crumble
  1. 2 cups quick or regular oats
  2. 3/4 cup flour
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 tsp. cinnamon
  5. Dash nutmeg
  6. Dash salt
  7. 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
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Instructions
  1. Rinse the peaches under hot water. Cut them in half and remove the pit. On a cutting board, cut the peaches into small dices. Add the cut peaches into a bowl. If you don't like the peach skins, you can peel them before you dice them. For the cherries, rinse them in a colander. Remove the stems and then cut the cherries in half. Remove the pits with your finger or with a cherry pit remover. Place the halved cherries into the bowl with the peaches. Add the lemon juice and fourth cup of brown sugar to the fruit and mix until combined. Let the fruit sit for a few minutes to allow the juices to come out of the fruit.
  2. For the crumble, place the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a bowl. Combine together until mixed. Add the butter at room temperature and mix around with a fork until the crumble is crumbly and everything is combined. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and then pour the fruit and it's juices into the pan. Sprinkle the crumble over the top of the fruit. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until the fruit is soft and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream once you remove from the oven.
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Healthy Hulk Green Pancakes {with Spinach and Bananas}

 
No, it’s not your eyes. These pancakes are meant to be green. Before you mock them, or disregard this recipe, give them a try! We served these for a family breakfast this past weekend and they were a hit (especially with all who were trying to be a little healthier). These pancakes are filled with lots of good, healthy ingredients and your kids won’t even know. Instead of using food dye, add some spinach to your pancakes and you’ll get lots of vitamins and extra goodness in your pancakes without your kids even knowing. Not to mention these pancakes are gluten free, full of protein and a great way to start your morning. If you want a healthy breakfast your family (even your kids) will love, give these Hulk Hulgan pancakes a try. TIP: If your kids are picky eaters, don’t let them see you add the spinach. My kids that saw me add it were funny about eating them. Those that didn’t know what was in them, just thought I used food coloring and were totally happy to eat them.


*Pancakes above had a little white flour in them to help them be puffy and tall. If you are not going for gluten-free, these are my favorite way to serve them. You still have LOTS of nutrients in these pancakes so I didn’t feel badly to add a little white flour.

Healthy Hulk Green Pancakes
Ingredients
  1. 6 eggs
  2. 1 cup cottage cheese
  3. 1 cup cooked brown rice or wheat flour
  4. 1 banana
  5. 1 1/2 cup spinach leaves
  6. 1 tsp. baking powder
  7. Dash salt
  8. 1 Tbs. honey
  9. 1 1/2 cup oats or white flour
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Instructions
  1. In a large blender, like a Blendtec, put the eggs, cottage cheese, brown rice, banana and spinach together. Blend the mixture until it's smooth. If you are using cooked brown rice, blend the mixture until it's totally smooth for best texture. To the blender, add the baking powder, salt, honey and the oats (or flour). Continue to blend until the batter is smooth. Heat a griddle and spray with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Pour a small amount of batter onto the griddle and bake one pancake to test the texture of the pancake. If you want a more fluffy and tall pancake, you may need to add a little more flour to the recipe. If you are trying to go gluten-free, leave the flour out and just use more oats. The pancakes will be much thinner without flour but will still work. After you get a pancake with the right thickness and texture, continue to cook the pancakes until ready to serve. Serve with fresh fruit, syrup or butter syrup.
Notes
  1. *Pancakes above had a little white flour in them to help them be puffy and tall. If you are not going for gluten-free, these are my favorite way to serve them. You still have LOTS of nutrients in these pancakes so I didn't feel badly to add a little white flour.
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S’more Cookie Bars and Summer Update

 

Sorry I have been awful at blogging this past week. We are spending some good, quality time disconnected this week with my inlaws and my family. We are on our annual week long reunion and having a blast. I really love the way his family does reunions. There are 9 siblings and each year one sibling is in charge of planning the reunion. They get the opinions of the other siblings, but in the end it is up to them to decide where to go. Sometimes we stay at home and do fun things each day together, and other times we get away and rent a condo or house we can all stay in together. This year we have been spending the week in Midway Utah. It has been beautiful and relaxing. I have been sharing some of our favorite pics on instagram (follow us at Dealstomeals), but for our recipe today I wanted to share a flashback recipe for these S’more Cookie Bars.

I have made these three times in the past week and they are seriously a heavenly recipe. They are amazing! They are gooey, full of chocolate, golden marshmallows, and a buttery cookie crust that is to die for. I really can’t see how you could improve on this treat. I brought up all of the ingredients to make these bars in our condo and we all devoured them in a few minutes flat. These are definitely a crowd pleaser and perfect for summer! Hope you enjoy 🙂

S’more Cookie Bar Recipe

My Go-To Party Menu when throwing a shower, small party or ladies brunch

Spring and summer seems to be the time for weddings, baby showers and family parties. I wanted to share our go-to party menu that we use for baby showers, wedding showers, and ladies brunches when we need something quick and fun. We just threw a wedding shower today for my darling cousins so I thought I would snap a few photos to help give you an idea of some easy recipes. Do you have favorite recipes or themes you use when throwing parties? I would love to hear your tips, tricks or recipes for throwing a party. Feel free to comment below 🙂 I always love to hear from each of you!

Bacon (or Sausage) Quiche–this is hands-down the very best quiche recipe you will ever eat. It’s simple to make a head of time and then just warm up the day of the party. I usually bake the quiche the night before the party and then just warm up the quiche at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.

Fruit Kabobs “Summer Style”–how cute is this fruit kabob display? My Mom got this idea on Pintrest and I thought it was so cute. Simply cut a personal sized watermelon, scoop out a thin layer of the melon. Cut wood skewer sticks to the width of the melon and place horizontally on the melon to look like grill grates. Cut three pieces of celery and poke into the watermelon underside (you might need to cute out a small whole with a knife). Skewer the remaining fruit and place on the watermelon ‘grill’ for display.


Mango & Strawberry Salsa with Chips–This dip is totally woman friendly and one we love to serve. The flavors go great together and it has the sweet and spicy flair that most women love. Not to mention you can again make this salsa the night before to make for easy prep on the day of.

Shortcake Berries and Cream Mini Bites–How darling are these? I think these could possibly be the cutest, smallest, delicious dessert of spring. I love the chewy and moist sugar cookie base (just use one batch of our favorite recipe over here). Place the dough into a mini muffin tin and bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden brown. As soon as you take them out of the oven use a small spoon or utensil to create a crevice in the center of the cookie to put the filling. Make up a whipping cream and cream cheese mixture to pipe in the center and top with some fresh berries. This recipe is a great one (thanks Kara for this great recipe!) and tastes delicious inside the cookie shell. You can play around with different combinations or puddings to make these to your liking. The berries and cream however are perfectly summer-like and so fun to pop in your mouth throughout the party.

We also served veggies and dip, as well as these Butterscotch Bars for those who needed a little chocolate 😉

Hope these simple recipes give you some ideas for your next party you’re throwing! Enjoy 😉

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

 What is not to love about these super cute Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes? My dear friend Ellen made these for her daughter’s birthday party and I wanted to share them with you. If you have a birthday party coming up, or just want a fun, summer treat, this is the recipe for you!

 

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
Cake
  1. I box white cake mix (duncan hines moist deluxe)
  2. made as directed on box. (3 egg whites, water and oil)
To the cake mix batter add
  1. 1/2 cup flour
  2. 1/2 cup sugar to batter
  3. 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
  4. 1 tsp almond extract
  5. 1/4 cup sprinkles (if you want funfetti)
  6. 30 cake ice cream cones
  7. 1 jar magic shell ice cream topper
  8. 30 marchino cherries
  9. Sprinkles
  10. 1 recipe Buttercream Frosting
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Instructions
  1. Using cupcake/muffin tins place cones in the muffin tins and then fill 1/2 up with batter. Do not overfill or you will have a messy nightmare on your hands! (see the picture to gauge how much filling to put in) Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Now I must admit I tried this a few different ways with carrying results. Some blogs said to put the batter in regular cupcake liners and then bake with the cone upside down on top. This did not work for me, even when I poked a whole in the bottom to let the steam out. Just standing them up worked great when the extra flour was added to the batter, as long as you don't overfill.
  2. Once cooled, frost using absolutely perfect buttercream recipe from this sight. I also learned the hard way that these babies are very top heavy and will not be transported once frosted unless certain precautions are taken. Before frosting them I wrapped the bottoms in strips of crumbled foil then put them back in the muffing tins. This kept them stable for piping the frosting as well as taking them to the party.
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Best Brownie Recipe EVER

 

Happy Memorial Day! I couldn’t be more grateful for the many men and women who have lost their lives and give of their time and talents to serving our country. I am grateful every day to be an American and feel so proud and blessed to live in this great nation. Every aspect of our lives are blessed because of the freedom’s we enjoy in the United States. We couldn’t have that without all of the brave men and women who serve and sacrifice for our country. A HUGE thank you to each of you who serve our country!

And what is more American than a a chewy, chocolaty, homemade brownie?! I have blogged about this recipe before, but wanted to share it with all of you in case you have forgotten about it in the deep, dark, archives of this blog 😉 You will not find a better brownie recipe out there! This recipe is a no fail, easy to make, one pan wonder of a recipe that can’t be beat! Hope you love them as much as we have the past 18 years 😉

 

Best Brownies Ever
Ingredients
  1. 4 sticks butter, room temperature
  2. 4 cup white sugar
  3. 1 cup cocoa powder
  4. 8 eggs
  5. 1 tsp. salt
  6. 3 1/2 cup flour
  7. 1 Tbs. vanilla
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl add the butter. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and smooth. Add the cups of sugar to the butter and continue to mix until all combined and white and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and continue to mix until smooth. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and continue to beat until the eggs are incorporated. Add the flour one cup at a time. Mix until combined. Spray a cookie jelly-roll pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and level with a knife until smooth in the pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until the center of the brownie seems stiff and no longer soft. However, you don't want to over bake the brownies! As they sit for a couple hours, they will harden and become the perfect, chewy texture. When they are finished baking, remove them from the oven and let them rest until ready to serve or frost. You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar, or top with a Buttercream Chocolate Frosting. Mint frosting is also great!
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Homemade French Bread Video

 
Subscribe to Deals to Meals on YouTube so you don’t miss any of our cooking videos. This is our most popular recipe on our blog {Homemade French Bread}, so we thought we’d show you how simple it is to make. Hope you love it! If you do, pass it along, would ya? Thanks friends!
 
Also, check out our video for Homemade Rainbow Bread--you’re going to love this video too! This bread is the perfect activity this spring.
 
Also, want to see us take on some famous couponers to answer the age old question “To coupon, or not to coupon?” See how much money we saved, and how much easier it was to shop the way we teach on Deals to Meals and STOP clipping those coupons and save BIG money! 

Easter 2016 Family Updates and Traditions

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! We had a great time enjoying some of our family’s favorite traditions and spending time in sunny St. George with our extended family. It was great to get away while the kids were out of school and have some quality family time. And of course, eat some delicious food while we were at it 😉

Our Easter traditions are broken up into what our kids call the “Easter Bunny Traditions” and the “Jesus Easter Traditions“. The Saturday before Easter is when we do our family’s easter egg hunts and family parties. We had an extra fun time playing in our brother and sister in laws pool and having the kids dive for Easter eggs (the teenagers love the new addition of money eggs). Todd and his brother always go WAY over the top with candy, but the kids sure love it, so I guess I’ll keep my mouth shut about that 😉

Sunday is my favorite part of Easter where we have a nice Seder (okay, a Mormon-ized version anyway) and we get to talk about the significance of Christ and his life. This time we had this dinner on my sisters farm which was so fun. The kids loved sitting out on a blanket as we talked about the different meanings of the items of food and shared different stories of Jesus. We then went inside for our ‘Passover Feast’ with some Chipotle Chicken (supposed to be lamb ;), Rice Pilaf, Naan Bread, Ham, and you can’t forget He is Risen Rolls. It was a lovely dinner and such a great time with family. And who can forget our Rainbow Bread. This was a highlight for all of the kids. (Hey, have you checked out our YouTube video where I show you exactly how to make this bread? It’s really fun–check it out!).

Check back tomorrow when I share the amazing recipes for some of our favorite Easter dishes we had this past week. All of these recipes will be great to try this spring. Thanks friends and have a great day!

Valentine’s Desserts: Raspberry Cheesecake, Double Chocolate Bundts, Cherry Chip Brownies & MORE!

How was your weekend? I hope all of you had a great game day weekend. We didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but we had a great time being together and eating lots of good food 😉 Happy for all of you Bronco fans though, it sounded like it was a great game!

Now that the Super Bowl is over, I guess that means we can move onto Valentines Day, right? I love Valentines Day. We are usually in California over Valentines Day, but this year we are home. This is the one holiday we don’t have lots of family traditions for. Shocker, I know! Do any of you have any favorite traditions you could share with me? As long as I go on a date with my hubby, I’m a happy lady! I would love your ideas though to make this day a little more special for our clan 😉

In the mean time, I’ve been dreaming up some of the treats I want to make this week. There are so many yummy valentines day treats. What is Valentines Day without homemade sugar cookies? Or, Chocolate Cherry Brownies. How about some Peppermint Oreo Popcorn for a snack? Or Cherry Chip Fruit Dip? Continue to read this post to get my favorite, Double Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe as well as this recipe for the Peppermint Oreo Popcorn. Yum!!

 
 
 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

Double Chocolate Bundt Cake
Chocolate Cake
  1. 1 chocolate cake mix
  2. 1 3oz. instant chocolate pudding mix
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1 cup hot fudge topping (like Hershey's or Smuckers)
  5. 1 1/4 cup water
  6. 1/2 cup oil
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla
  4. Dash of salt
  5. 1 lb. powdered sugar
  6. Crushed peppermints (optional) or other topping
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, add the cake mix, chocolate pudding mix and whisk together. Add the eggs, hot duge sauce, water, oil and vanilla to the mix. Whisk together until smooth. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan excessively with non stick cooking spray. Pour the cake mix into the pan evenly around the bundt pan. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center of the cake is cooked through. When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and let rest on the counter for 3-5 minutes. Use a knife and to around the outside of the bundt pan to loosen the cake from the sides. Place a large plate on top of the bundt pan and turn the cake onto the plate. Let the cake rest while you make the frosting.
  2. For the frosting: In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth with an electric mixer. Add the vanilla, salt and powdered sugar and blend until smooth. You may need a teaspoon or so of milk, but wait until the sugar is incorporated before you add that. Continue to whip frosting until peaks form and it is light and fluffy. Place the frosting in a gallon Ziploc bag and cut off the corner of one side of the bag. Squeeze the frosting out of the edge of the bag and drizzle back and forth on top of the cake. Sprinkle with any toppings you would like, or leave the frosting/cake plain.
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Peppermint Oreo Popcorn
Ingredients
  1. 2 microwave bags of natural or healthy popcorn, popped
  2. 1 cup white chocolate almond bark (or high quality white chocolate chips)
  3. 1-2 cups crushed Oreo cookies
  4. Peppermint Candies, crushed
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Instructions
  1. Pop the popcorn as package directs. Place the white almond bark into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave until the chocolate melts. Stir the chocolate onto the popped popcorn. Add the crushed Oreo candies and the crushed peppermint to the popcorn. Continue to stir until combined. Serve warm or cold.
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4 Favorite Christmas Breakfast Casseroles

Cream Cheese French Bread Casserole

What would Christmas morning be without a breakfast casserole? They are super easy to make the night before, throw in the fridge and then bake when you wake up in the morning. By the time you are done opening presents you’ll have a delicious, warm breakfast casserole ready to enjoy 😉 Here are a few of my family’s favorite casserole recipes in case you need a last minute recipe for Christmas morning. Merry Christmas!!

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Casserole


Sausage Breakfast Casserole


Recipes below…


Sausage Breakfast Casserole


3-4 cups bread, cubed (enough to fill the bottom of the baking dish)
1 lb. sausage
1 onion, diced
2 cups shredded colby jack cheese
1 can diced green chilies
9 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. hot sauce (like Franks sauce)
2-3 Tbs. green onions

Cube the bread into one inch cubes. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the bread pieces into the pan. Dice the onions into pieces. In a saute pan, brown the sausage with the onions until the onions are tender and the sausage is cooked through. Sprinkle the sausage over the bread pieces. Spread the cheese over the sausage and bread evenly. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, green chiles, salt, pepper, hot sauce. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. The last 10-15 minutes, remove the foil and bake to lightly brown the top. Once the casserole is finished cooking, sprinkle the green onions on top.

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Casserole


4-5 cups dried bread, cubed (enough to fill a 9×13 baking dish)
1 lb. bacon
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. hot sauce (like Franks sauce)
2 1/2 cups milk
9 eggs
2 cups colby jack cheese, shredded

Cut up the dried bread into one inch cubes. Spray a 9×13 pan generously with non stick cooking spray. Place the dried bread pieces on the bottom of the baking dish. In a saute pan, brown and cook the bacon until completely crispy. Remove the bacon from the bacon grease and set aside on a paper towel. Pour out most of the bacon grease besides a couple tablespoons. Dice the red bell pepper and onions and place in the bacon grease. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook until the peppers and onions are tender. Once they are cooked, add the green onions and season with the salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and let the vegetables rest while you make the egg mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and hot sauce until smooth. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and sprinkle over the dried bread. Spread the cooked vegetable mixture over the bacon. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top as well. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until the casserole is set and no longer runny (but don’t over bake or it can dry out). This casserole can also stay in the fridge over night and be baked the next morning if you wish.

Cream Cheese Maple Breakfast Casserole


3-4 cups dried bread, cubed (enough to fill a 9×13 pan)
8 oz. cream cheese
8 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cut the bread into bite sized pieces and place in a greased 9×13 pan. With your fingers, break off pieces of cream cheese and place all over the top of the bread in small blobs. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until smooth. Once this mixture is smooth, pour over the bread evenly. In a bowl, combine together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the casserole. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until set. Serve casserole with more maple syrup on top or whipped cream. You can also add fresh fruit on top if you wish.

Christmas Cranberry Craze! Cranberry Salsa, Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding and More!

What would Christmas be without the sweet and sour flavor of cranberry? Cranberry is one of my favorite holiday flavors. Today I wanted to share with you some of my many, favorite cranberry recipes. Whether you are looking for an appetizer, a main dish or a dessert, we have a cranberry recipe for you! Enjoy 😉

Cranberry Salsa and Cream Cheese Dip (recipe below)

Cranberry BBQ Meatballs (recipe below)

 
 

 

 
 

 

Fresh Cranberry Sauce 
 


 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

Recipes below…

Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip
Ingredients
  1. 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
  2. 1/2 c. green onions, chopped
  3. 1 jalapeno, stem removed (if you like heat, add two)
  4. 1 bunch cilantro
  5. 1 t. cumin
  6. 1 c. sugar
  7. Juice of one lime (about 2-3 Tbs.)
  8. 8 oz. block cream cheese
  9. Tortilla chips or snack crackers
Add ingredients to shopping list
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Instructions
  1. In a food processor (or by hand) coarsley chop first four ingredients. Then add cumin, sugar and lime juice. Pulse to desired consistency. Spread the cranberry salsa over the cream cheese when ready to serve. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.
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Cranberry BBQ Meatballs
Ingredients
  1. 1-2 cups of the leftover cranberry salsa (recipe above)
  2. 1-2 cups favorite bbq sauce
  3. 1-2 lbs. meatballs (homemade or store bought)
  4. Cilantro, chopped (optional garnish)
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Instructions
  1. Prepare the meatballs as package describes (or make from scratch). In a bowl, combine together the cranberry salsa and bbq sauce together. Once the meatballs are cooked through and golden brown, add the bbq sauce mixture to the meatballs. Heat the meatballs and sauce until warmed through. Place the meatballs on a plate and serve with toothpicks for easy serving. Garnish with the chopped cilantro.
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Sweet Cranberry Butter Spread
Ingredients
  1. 1 tsp. brown sugar
  2. 1 tsp. vanilla
  3. 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  4. 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  5. 1 tsp. orange zest
  6. 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  7. 1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, whip together the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, zest and condensed milk. Add the zest, fresh cranberries and nuts. Keep at room temperature when ready to serve butter with warm rolls.
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Fresh Orange Cranberry Sauce
Ingredients
  1. 1 package fresh cranberries
  2. Zest of 1/2 an orange
  3. 2-3 T. orange juice
  4. 1/2-3/4 c. sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
  5. 1/4 t. ginger powder
  6. Dash of salt
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Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a sauce pan and let simmer until the cranberries break down and soften. Mash the cranberries with a potato masher until the sauce is still chunky, but a little more smooth. Remove sauce from heat and let cool. Serve fresh cranberry sauce with cooked turkey, in wraps or with chicken.
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White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Cranberries
Bread Pudding
  1. 5-6 cups dried bread, cut into one inch cubes
  2. 1 cup dried cranberries
  3. 12 oz. bag white chocolate chips
  4. 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  5. 3 cups milk
  6. 2 Tbs. vanilla
  7. 1/2 cup orange juice
  8. Pinch salt
  9. 8 eggs
  10. 1 cup white sugar
White Chocolate Sauce
  1. 12 oz. white chocolate chips
  2. 1 1/2-2 cups whipping cream
  3. 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  4. Fresh or canned cranberry sauce (optional for topping)
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Instructions
  1. Cut up the bread into one inch pieces. Spray a 11x14 pan heavily with non-stick cooking spray. Place the bread pieces in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the dried cranberries all over the top of the bread. Sprinkle the bag of white chocolate chips on top of the bread as well. In a bowl, whisk together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, orange juice, pinch of salt, eggs and sugar until smooth and creamy. Pour this mixture over the bread evenly until all bread pieces are covered. Cover the dish with tinfoil. You can keep the pudding in the fridge for up to 48 hours, or you can bake it right away. When ready to bake, bake the pudding at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. The last 10 minutes of baking, remove the tin foil and let the top of the pudding get golden brown. While the pudding is cooking, make the white chocolate sauce. In a sauce pan, pour the whipping cream and heat on medium-high heat for a couple minutes until the cream gets nice and hot. Then, add the white chocolate and turn down the heat to low heat. Stir the chocolate and whipping cream together until creamy and smooth. Add the vanilla. Remove from the heat and let stand at room temperature until pudding comes out of the oven. When pudding is firm and cooked through, remove from the oven. Cut a slice and top with homemade or store bough cranberry sauce and top with the white chocolate sauce.
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“He is Risen” Rolls and Five SIMPLE Easter Traditions

 

Around our house, if things aren’t simple, they just don’t get done. It’s annoying but true. There are days I beat myself up over the fact I am not a ‘Pintrest’ kind of Mom, but other days, I have to just remember the advice of a wise person who said, “Just do the best you can”. Every year Easter comes around I have dreams of doing some extravagant, Christ-centered craft, activity, devotional, etc. and then the holiday just sneaks up on me. Is it just me, or do you feel like there are rarely enough hours in the day? So..simple is what we are about this year for Easter. In the end, it really is about just being with family and focusing on our Savior, right? Why is it that the world makes us feel like if we aren’t crafty-trendy-and cutsie that we’re not good enough? Sometimes the pressure to be a super-Mom just about drives me crazy.

Idea #1 He Is Risen Rolls

So, I am here to simplify your Easter traditions and hopefully give you some easy ideas you can whip together without much effort (or time). One of our family’s favorite Easter treats, are to make “He is Risen” Rolls. They have four ingredients, can be thrown together in just a couple minutes and make a really fun treat for this weekend. The kids love how the marshmallow disappears and it’s a great way to talk about Christ’s resurrection. Not to mention, these rolls actually taste great too 😉

He Is Risen Rolls
Ingredients
  1. 2 packages crescent rolls
  2. 16 large marshmallows
  3. 1 cup chocolate chips
  4. Cinnamon and Sugar
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Instructions
  1. Open up the crescent roll package and lay flat on the counter. Cut the triangles to separate them all. In the center of each crescent triangle, place a large marshmallow and chocolate chips. Fold up the sides of the crescent dough to try and cover the marshmallow and chocolate chips the best you can. It doesn't have to look pretty, just cover everything up. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, or muffin tins, and place the rolls onto (or into) the pan/muffin tins. In a bowl, combine some sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle a generous portion of cinnamon/sugar over the tops of each of the rolls. Bake the rolls at 350 for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top. You don't want to over cook them or they become dry. Just enough to melt the marshmallow and have the dough puff up. Remove from the oven and open them up. The kids will love the fact the marshmallow is disappeared. So cool!
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Idea #2 Simple Easter Banner
 

Second idea–make a simple Easter banner. This is something I made years ago that we just pull out every Palm Sunday (the Sunday prior to Easter). I just bought these pictures of Christ online for $3.50, laminated the ones that represented Christ’s last week of His mortal life and strung them up with some ribbon. You could make this cuter and fancier…but like we said, we’re talking simple today. Every year, I take the pictures off the ribbon and the kids have fun trying to put the events of Christ’s life in order. We then string the pictures back up, hang them on our entertainment center and enjoy looking at the pictures and thinking about Christ throughout the week.

Idea #3 Inspirational Videos and Messages about Christ

No matter what religion you are part of, you will LOVE these videos about Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) have put together Bible Videos about Christ’s life and ministry that are truly beautiful. Every few days we have been trying to watch a few of these videos that go with the ‘day’ of the week. Here is a link to some of these Easter videos that help our families understand why we celebrate Easter.

My all-time favorite talk given on Christ and this Easter season is given by an apostle of our church named Elder Holland. If you want to listen to this inspiring message, here it is 😉 It’s so powerful and beautiful. These videos help you feel the true meaning of this season–much more than any cute craft 😉

Idea #4 Watch the Ten Commandments

Watch the Ten Commandments. I know many people probably wouldn’t want to sit through this 3 1/2 hour video, but we LOVE it! It probably somewhat sentimental for me. My family growing up always watched this movie, had popcorn and snuggled in blankets. We have an Easter movie-marathon and even our youngest kids love this video. They laugh a little at the special effects, but it’s still a fun tradition we would be sad without 😉

Idea #5 Simplified Passover Meal

For those of you with a little more time on your hands, it is a really fun idea to have your own family’s ‘Passover Dinner’. My Mom was an amazing Mom who tried and culture us as teenagers. She would bring us to a Passover Dinner at BYU and we really didn’t appreciate it. The fresh parsley and unleavened bread was never a favorite part of our Easter. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate the significance and I think it’s a great way to teach your kids about Easter and it’s symbolism. Now, if you want something SUPER simplified, this is what my sister does (and we’ve done) that is really easy to put together. Here is what our menu looks like–you can really put together anything that your family would like. The idea is to talk about the symbols of the meal, not necessarily needing to eat specific foods (for us anyway 😉

Italian Teriyaki Chicken Skewers (instead of lamb)–being on a skewer, they seem kind of rustic
Naan Bread–yes, it’s not unleavened, but it’s a fun bread to eat with skewered chicken. You could just buy thin wraps or tortillas if you don’t have time to make bread
Boiled Eggs–deviled eggs are yummy and easy to make
Bitter Herbs–horseradish (you can make a yummy dip with horseradish and sour cream for the chicken)
Charoseth–chopped apples, cinnamon and sugar (applesauce works great)
Karpas–fresh parsley dipped in salt water
Grape juice-representing the wine that Christ served during his last supper

Such a fun dinner idea for your family. I promise they will remember this forever! Just like my sisters and I do with my Mom. These are things to me worth putting some extra time into. But still, keep it simple. If you have nice China, this is a fun night to decorate your table fancy or everyone dress up like shepherds. You could do as much or as little as you want with this tradition 🙂

Here is our ‘Passover Meal’ from 2016. I share an additional menu idea for Chipotle Chicken Skewers–also a yummy option!

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I am so thankful for each of you and all of your support throughout this past year. I truly hope you have a wonderful Christmas and have time to spend with those you love most. I am so thankful for a loving Savior who came to this earth to take upon Him the sins of this world, and bring hope and joy to all of us. I love this video called The Gift, and I hope we can all take a few moments this season and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. This video is a great way to teach our children about our Savior. May God bless each of you this Christmas week!

*Picture is from Greg Olsen..it’s my favorite 😉

Mom’s Best Meatloaf

Deals to Meals Updates, Holiday Favorites, Recipe: Main Dish, Recipe: Beef, Recipe: Turkey, Recipe: Pork, comfort food, Easy Meal Ideas, Freezer Meals, Recipe: Freezer Meals, Mom's Best Meatloaf
Since today is my Mom’s 60th birthday I thought I would post about one of her recipes that is my all-time favorite. This recipe for her meatloaf has been around for a long time and I have to say it’s the best I’ve ever had. Meatloaf is one of those things that you have to be leary of eating. Some people just plain don’t know how to make it. I have tried many sub-par meatloafs in my life and I have to say my Mom wins the award for the best. My Mom is one of those people that lives by the motto of ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without’.  She rarely throws anything away. She is the master at seeing what is in her fridge and being able to whip together amazing dishes with random ingredients. I know I got most of my cooking skills and shopping know-how from her. She was an amazing teacher and helped me learn the importance of frugal living and everything prudent. 
 

It is that frugality that makes this meatloaf so wonderful. She would make this every summer when vegetables from the garden were ripe. The chopped carrots, zucchini and peppers is what makes this meatloaf so moist and full of flavor. If your kids don’t like vegetables, I promise they will in this recipe! They won’t even know they are in there. One of the best aspects of her meatloaf is the sauce on top. It is a sweet and tangy barbeque-type sauce that makes every bite so amazing–so much better than plain ketchup or regular bbq sauce.

If you have carrots, zucchini, onions or peppers in your garden, this is the perfect dish for you to make! The best part is, this meatloaf recipe makes two loaf pans of meatloaf. You can either freeze one for another meal or use the second pan for meatloaf sandwiches (our family’s favorite!).

Deals to Meals Updates, Holiday Favorites, Recipe: Main Dish, Recipe: Beef, Recipe: Turkey, Recipe: Pork, comfort food, Easy Meal Ideas, Freezer Meals, Recipe: Freezer Meals, Mom's Best Meatloaf

Mom's Meatloaf
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  2. 1/4 cup zucchini, shredded
  3. 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  4. 1/2 large red onion (or 1 small), chopped
  5. 1/2 cup chili sauce (found in the ketchup aisle)
  6. 1 egg
  7. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  8. 1 tsp. oregano
  9. Dash cayenne pepper
  10. 1 Tbls. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  11. 1/2 cup panko crumbs (or bread crumbs)
  12. 2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground turkey
  13. 1 lb. ground beef or pork sausage
Sauce
  1. 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  2. 2 Tbls. mustard
  3. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  4. Dash cayenne pepper
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop and dice all of the vegetables. In a large mixing bowl, place the ground beef (or turkey) and ground pork. Add the vegetables and remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Place half of the meat mixture into a bread loaf pan. Add the remaining meatloaf into the second pan. If you are baking both meatloaves place the meatloaves in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the top of the meatloaf is a dark brown color (I like the top of my meatloaf to have a little crust to add flavor. If yours is not getting this, you can always broil the meatloaf for a minute or two--just watch it carefully so it doesn't burn). When meatloaves are beginning to look done, remove them from the oven and carefully drain off as much grease as you can from the meatloaves. Prepare the sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients in a bowl and spread half of the sauce over each meatloaf. Return the pans to the oven and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble and brown on the edges. Serve meatloaf warm.
  2. If you are saving a meatloaf as a freezer meal, just cover with tinfoil and place in the freezer for up to one year.
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Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Welcome to my home! Isn’t it a clean, peaceful place to be?!? Ha! I apologize for not blogging for the past week. You see..we moved into our house over 10 years ago and I decided that as soon as my kids were back in school (literally..like the day they left) I pulled out some paint brushes and have been going crazy every since. After going to a Parade of Homes with my sister I came home determined to get rid of some of the dark paint, dark trim and ugly faux walls we have had for the last decade.  I am having a lot of fun painting and making a big mess, but that has sure made our kitchen/cooking/blogging life less than desirable. Thanks to a few freezer meals I made in advance (knowing my kitchen would be blown up), we have survived and haven’t starved too badly 😉 So, with painting and kids back in school I have found a few recipes that are a MUST have around any crazy house…from painting or regular life 😉 I am excited to share those with you this week to hopefully simplify your life..I know they have mine. Once I finish up painting (you know..maybe by Christmas, I will share some pics with you). I am the WORST at decorating though, so I think I am going to need to enlist Ellen for some help. We’ll see how it turns out 😉

easy breakfast, Easy Meal Ideas, Recipe:  Breakfast, eggs, freezer breakfast burritos, time saver meals, Freezer Meals,

So, the first recipe I want to share is for freezer Breakfast Burritos. There is nothing fancy about this recipe, but these burritos are morning savers around here. With five children in five different schools this year, our mornings have become a bit of a zoo. Having kids leave with full tummies however, seems to make their days (and mine) go better. I like to keep a freezer bag full of these egg burritos in my freezer at all times so they can grab one, warm it in the microwave for 2 minutes and be on their way. One trick I love is throwing cooked quinoa into your eggs. It adds a nice texture and gives the kids added protein and nutrients. They haven’t figured out yet that it’s in there. Here is a link to my other favorite egg-quinoa breakfast we love around here. You can even wrap these burritos in saran wrap so they can grab and go if you like them to take them on the go. I have to admit, we have even had these for dinner too in the last week and we loved them. Feel free to adjust the filling of your burritos with anything you wish to change up the flavors…sausage & peppers, ham and cheese, southwestern style with black beans, etc. The sky is the limit. Hope these burritos help your days go a little smoother like they do for us 😉

easy breakfast, Easy Meal Ideas, Recipe:  Breakfast, eggs, freezer breakfast burritos, time saver meals, Freezer Meals,
Freezer Breakfast Burritos

24 eggs, scrambled in a large bowl
1 cup milk
2 tsp. butter
1 lb. ham, cubed (or ground sausage)
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks green onions, sliced
Any other vegetables you wish to add
1 cup cooked quinoa (optional)
About 1 Tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning or salt/pepper
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
24 flour tortillas
Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large bowl until whipped and a light yellow color. In a large saute pan, heat a couple teaspoons of butter and saute onions until tender and soft. Add the cubed ham and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the scrambled egg/milk mixture to the hot pan, Let the bottom of the egg begin to set and then stir with a spatula to scrape everything off the bottom. Turn the heat down to low, place a lid on the pan and cook until the egg begins to set. Once the egg is mostly set, stir and then add the green onions, quinoa and shredded cheese. Lightly stir until combined, place the lid back on and let eggs rest and the cheese melt until ready to roll up in the burritos. Once the egg is finished, warm the flour tortillas in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften them up. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup of the egg mixture into the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla as tightly as you can and place on a greased cookie sheet. Put 15-20 burritos on each cookie sheet, trying to keep them separate so they don’t touch each other. Cover the burritos with saran wrap and freeze them until they are mostly frozen (or all the way frozen), about 4-6 hours. Once the burritos are frozen, remove them from the pan and place them in a freezer, gallon ziploc bag. Keep frozen until ready to serve. When ready to serve, place one burrito on a plate and warm them up in the microwave for two minutes, rotating them half way through. Serve with salsa or ketchup.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

 

Here in Utah July 24th is a special holiday. It’s the day we get to pay tribute to our ancestors who went before us and settled this beautiful Salt Lake Valley. I have several ancestors who crossed the Missouri plains through hardships, died along the trail and made it so we can have religious freedom here in this wonderful state. I am so grateful for them and their sacrifices. There are many times I look to their example and it helps me plug along in my day to day life.  One of the ancestors who I love dearly is Iona Aitken. She is my grandma and I miss her like crazy! She passed away almost 10 years ago, but I am thankful I still feel of her influence and love to this day. She was such an amazing woman. Her husband passed away when she was in her fourties and she raised 7 amazing children all on her own. She had this saying that we all quote and remember to this day. Anytime she would see you, or be around you, she would always say, “What can I do for you?” Even though her life was never easy, she was always looking out for others and trying to find ways to be of service. She is such a beautiful, righteous lady I wanted to dedicate this post to her 😉 I am excited to re-post a recipe of my grandmother’s that I make several times a month. Her Buttermilk Pancakes were a favorite when we would sleep over at her house and I really don’t think you can improve upon this recipe. It is basic and practically perfect in every way…just like my grandma 😉 Happy July 24th to all of you!

 Aren’t old photos the best? Sometimes they look the way I feel 🙂

 

 



Buttermilk Pancakes
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups buttermilk
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 4 Tbls. canola oil
  4. 2 Tbls. sugar
  5. 2 tsp. baking powder
  6. 2 cup flour (can use 1/2 wheat flour)
  7. 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  8. 3/4 tsp. salt
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Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, eggs, oil, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk until smooth. Add the flour to the batter and mix just until incorporated. Heat a griddle to medium heat and spray with cooking spray or add a little butter to melt. Pour a 1/2 cup of the batter onto the hot griddle and heat on both sides until golden brown. Serve with your favorite syrup or fruit.
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Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps & My First Half Marathon

 

It was nearly a modern day miracle the other night when I made a dinner without any butter or cheese-shocking I know 😉 I have to admit I am slightly addicted to these two ingredients and probably add them to way too many of my recipes. However, since I was ‘trying’ to be healthy before I ran my first half marathon this past weekend I came up with this incredible, healthy recipe I know you will love! The great thing about this dish is you don’t even know it’s healthy. I knew my husband would be hesitant about a taco wrapped in lettuce but every person in my family was totally hooked! I served these tacos with Ham Fried Rice and it was a hit all the way around!

Hooray that our half marathon is over! I am so thankful to have great friends who push me outside my comfort zone. I am NOT a great runner. I am slow, I feel old and my body hurts a lot. However, it felt so good to push myself and prove that I could do hard things–and accomplish something outside of my kitchen 😉 We had a great race, the weather was amazing, and we ran for my Mom and her surviving cancer. It was touching to see my Mom and Dad at the finish line and think about how blessed we are to still have her with us. If you have never ran before, and it’s something you have wanted to do–give it a try! If I can run a half marathon, so can you! Get out there, find a running group and try something new. You will be awesome!!

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps, Recipe: Healthy, Recipe: Turkey, Recipe: Asian, Recipe: Beef, Deals to Meals Updates, healthy asian lettuce wraps, best lettuce wraps, Deals to Meals

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs. lean ground turkey
  2. 1/2 white onion, diced small
  3. 7 white mushrooms, diced small
  4. 1 large stalk celery, diced small
Sauce
  1. 3/4 cup soy sauce
  2. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 tsp. black pepper
  4. 1 Tbls. cornstarch
  5. 1 tsp. fish sauce
  6. 1 tsp. sesame oil
  7. 1 tsp. hoisin sauce
  8. Sriracha sauce to taste
  9. 1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half, seeds removed and then diced fine
  10. 8-10 pieces of bibb lettuce or romaine lettuce
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Saute all of the above ingredients until the turkey is browned and the vegetables have become tender. Drain the meat/vegetable mixture until dry--you don't want excess water and fat from the meat mixture. Pour the meat mixture back into the saute pan and add the following
  1. Let simmer until the mixture begins to thicken. Then add the cucumber and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove meat mixture from the heat and place a good portion of the meat into each piece of lettuce. Serve warm. You can garnish with cilantro or chopped peanuts if you wish.
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Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich & Favorite Restaurants in Banff Canada

 

I’m sure it’s not a surprise but one of the highlights of our vacation to Canada was the food. Besides the higher prices on food, we were thoroughly impressed with nearly every restaurant we visited. One of our favorite places was The Grizzly Paw in Banff. If you are ever in Banff you need to go to their restaurant and get the Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich. The sandwich was amazing, but the Beer Infused BBQ Sauce was AWESOME! It took this sandwich from a 9 out of 10 to a 15 out of 10. It was SO great! My sister and I were a tad obsessed with this sauce (maybe it was the beer–hopefully it was cooked out, right?!?) that we had to go buy several bottles at their store connected to the restaurant. I will be trying to recreate this sauce, but in case I can’t, you can either buy it online or just leave the sauce off the sandwich. Either way, this sandwich is delightful with the chipotle mayo, jalapeno peppers, pepper jack cheese, etc.

Recipe: Chicken, Recipe: Main Dish, Recipe: Sandwiches, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurant Recipes, Copycat Recipes, Banff Canada, , Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich, chipotle mayo

Angry Bird Chicken Sandwiches
Mayo
  1. 1 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped fine
  3. Juice 1/2 lime
  4. Salt & pepper to taste
Chicken
  1. 5-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and seasoned
  2. 6 ciabatta buns
  3. 2 tomatoes, sliced
  4. 2 avocados, sliced
  5. 1 cup arugala or spinach
  6. 1/2 cup pickled jalapeno peppers
  7. 1/2 red onion, sliced (optional)
  8. 6 slices pepperjack cheese
  9. BBQ Sauce (1/2 cup bbq sauce and 1/2 cup salsa mixed)--or buy Grizzly Paw BBQ Sauce
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix together the chipotle peppers and mayonnaise. Add the lime juice and salt & pepper and stir.
  2. Grill the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper. When the chicken is about to be taken off the grill, top each chicken breast with a slice of pepperjack cheese. Spread a generous amount of the chipotle mayo onto each piece of bread. Top with the cooked chicken breast and then top with pickled jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, avocados, and arugala. If you have bbq sauce that you love, add that to the sandwich as well--or you can mix with some spicy salsa to add a little kick.
  3. Here are a few of our other restaurants that we ate at in Banff & Canmore (in case you have a chance to visit there sometime soon 😉
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Recipe: Chicken, Recipe: Main Dish, Recipe: Sandwiches, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurant Recipes, Copycat Recipes, Banff Canada, , Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich, chipotle mayo, best restaurants in banff canada, Touloulou's Cajun, Earls, LaBellePatate

*TooLouLou’s Cajun–fabulous (4 out of 5 stars)! Their Shrimp & Grits is almost as good as ours 😉 My brother in law got frog legs..that was a first for me (I about gagged but he loved them). My husband got a Cajun Kickin’ Burger which was huge and delicious and I got their crab cakes (also great!). Their jumbalaya was also great!!

Recipe: Chicken, Recipe: Main Dish, Recipe: Sandwiches, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurant Recipes, Copycat Recipes, Banff Canada, , Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich, chipotle mayo, best restaurants in banff canada, Touloulou's Cajun, Earls, LaBellePatate

 *Earl’s was probably our favorite restaurant we went to in Banff. They have high end steaks that I’m sure are amazing, but we got more of a middle of the road meal and everything was great!! You have to get their Sour Dough & Ricotta Cheese appetizer. It was heavenly. I got their Chicken, Apple & Brie sandwich which I will definetly be recreating and sharing a recipe with you soon. Their ribs were also heavenly and so was their Cajun Cheddar Sandwich & their Bacon Cheese Burger. The only down side to this place is they don’t have any ranch for the sweet potato fries 😉

Recipe: Chicken, Recipe: Main Dish, Recipe: Sandwiches, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurant Recipes, Copycat Recipes, Banff Canada, , Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich, chipotle mayo, best restaurants in banff canada, Touloulou's Cajun, Earls, LaBellePatate

 

 

*If you are looking for a great poutine, La Belle Patate is great. It’s kind of a greasy, old diner style place but the poutines were actually really great. I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars. This is one of the few places you can get Spruce Beer. Have you had it? It’s like rootbeer (non-alcoholic) but tastes like a Christmas tree in a can. It is the craziest tasting stuff, but kind of fun 😉

Some other places we tried were State & Main (4 out of 5–great sweet potato fries & a spicy Thai Shrimp appetizer…yum!), Bill Peyto’s (3 out of 5–great sweet potato’s and a Tzyaki Chicken Wrap).

 
Recipe: Chicken, Recipe: Main Dish, Recipe: Sandwiches, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurant Recipes, Copycat Recipes, Banff Canada, , Angry Bird Chicken Sandwich, chipotle mayo, best restaurants in banff canada, Touloulou's Cajun, Earls, LaBellePatate
Here’s a juicy, inside peak at this amazing sandwich. LOVED it!!

Pineapple Cream Cheese Cake & a Happy Birthday to Dad!

 

I just wanted to say happy 61st birthday to my amazing Dad! I love him so much and am so thankful for all that he has taught me. I feel so blessed to be his daughter and am so grateful to have amazing parents who have been such great examples to me. It has been 5 years since my Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and we thought we would lose her. She was given only a couple months to live and thanks to prayers and miracles from God she is still with us today. Being able to go on vacations like we did to Canada with my parents, and seeing them so happy and healthy, makes me sit back and count my blessings for everyday we have together.

Cream Cheese Pineapple Cake, oiless cake, cream cheese frosting, lowfat pineapple cake, Recipe: Cake, Recipe: Dessert, Family Update, Family Favorites, dealstomeals, Deals to Meals

Over these many years with my Dad I have quickly learned the way to his heart is through his stomach. He is my number one taste tester and gives me the most honest (yes, critical at times) feedback of anyone I know. If my Dad says something is good, you know it is great! I love to call him and have him come over to try new recipes and see his reactions. For his birthday this year he wanted me to make his favorite cake–Pineapple Cream Cheese Cake. This recipe has been in our family for as long as I can remember and it is definitely one of my favorite cake recipes! The great thing about this cake is there is no oil in the cake batter. Yes, there is plenty of sugar, but it makes me feel a little better that there isn’t any oil. The cake is extremely moist, dense and smothered in this cream cheese frosting you can’t go wrong! It is a simple cake to make and a crowd pleaser for sure. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we do. Happy Birthday Dad!!



Cream Cheese Pineapple Cake, oiless cake, cream cheese frosting, lowfat pineapple cake, Recipe: Cake, Recipe: Dessert, Family Update, Family Favorites, dealstomeals, Deals to Meals

Pineapple Cream Cheese Cake
Cake
  1. 3 eggs
  2. 2 3/4 cups white sugar
  3. 3 cups crushed pineapple (with juices)
  4. 3 cups flour
  5. 3 tsp. baking soda
  6. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Frosting
  1. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla
  4. Dash of salt
  5. 1 lb. powdered sugar
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Instructions
  1. With a hand blender, in a large bowl, beat together the sugar and pineapple. Add the eggs, soda and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the flour and mix until batter comes together. Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 40-48 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set and no longer soft. The top of the cake will get a nice golden brown color and that's okay. When cake is done, remove from the oven and let rest until room temperature while you make the frosting.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the vanilla, salt and powdered sugar and blend until smooth. You may need a teaspoon or so of milk, but wait until the sugar is incorporated before you add that. Continue to whip frosting until peaks form and it is light and fluffy. Frost the cake and serve.
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“Orange” you glad it’s summer? Adorable end of school gift idea

How cute is this? My sister is watching a couple of our kids while we are out of town this week and this is what she gave my kids after they got home from school today. They are finishing up their last day of school and this was her gift for them. What a sweet aunt!!!! I just wanted to share this adorable idea in case any of you wanted to do this for your kids.

Here are a few of the items she had in her packages:

*Everything Reese’s works great
*Orange Tic Tacs
*Orange
*Orange bubbles
*Orange soda pop
*Orange nail polish
*Orange flip flops
*Orange gum
*Orange pringles (cheddar)

Thanks Ang for being such a sweet aunt to our kiddos! Happy summer and end of school days to each of you 🙂

Cream Cheese Crescent Squares

Since I am completely awful about keeping a journal or scrapbooking, I hope you bear with me as I post a few pictures from our family’s weekend 😉 I hope you had a wonderful Easter as well. Ours was pretty low key but a lot of yummy food, family and fun. We had our annual easter egg hunt Saturday with a big yummy breakfast. The kids got stuffed on candy and the adults were able to enjoy a smorgasbord of delicious breakfast items. We had Carmel Apple Waffles,  Cheesy Hash browns, Scrambled Eggs, Juice, Fruit & this to-die for Cinnamon Cream Cheese Concoction my sister made. Oh my heavens–it is scary yummy! I told her to take every last leftover far, far away from me. I wanted to seriously eat the entire pan. Considering what is in it, that would NOT be a good idea for my waistline. I am not sure it is considered a breakfast food, it would be amazing as a dessert too. No matter how you slice it, it is unbelievably fattening and SO good!! If you dare make this recipe, just know you will want to have plenty of people to share it with or I promise, the leftovers will be devoured before you can even put it in the fridge 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend and enjoy this recipe like we did!

 
 

Cream Cheese Crescent Squares
Ingredients
  1. 2 (8 oz.) packages refrigerator crescent dough
  2. 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
  3. 3/4 cup white sugar
  4. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 6 Tbls. butter, melted
  6. 1/4 cup white sugar
  7. 1 tsp. cinnamon
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pinch pan with cooking spray. Presson one of the crescent roll dough packages into the bottom of the pan. In a medium sized bowl, cream together the cream cheese, 3/4 cup of sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread over the crescent layer. Unrool the second crescent dough and lay them on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down. Pour the melted butter over the entire pan. Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve warm or cold. Serve with fresh berries, sliced and cooked apples, or any other toppings you desire 😉
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Chocolate Mint Oreo Cupcakes and St. Patrick’s Day

 
 
 
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope the Leprechauns found your homes and brought you something yummy and green..or even better, a pot of gold 😉 Yesterday we were trying to think of a yummy green treat and we came up with these simple Chocolate Mint Oreo Cupcakes that were SUPER yummy!! I happened to have a package of mint Oreo cookies and thought they would be fun put inside the center of a moist, chocolate cupcake. Top this cupcake with a mint buttercream frosting and you have a dessert for tonight that is simple and festive 😉 Have a great day!
 
 

Chocolate Mint Oreo Cupcakes
Ingredients
  1. 1 box chocolate fudge cake (plus the ingredients to make the cake PLUS a capful of mint extract)
  2. 1 package Mint Oreo Cookies
  3. Mini chocolate chips or crushed Oreo cookies for decoration
  4. 1 recipe buttercream frosting with a capful of mint extract
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Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, mix up the cake mix as directed on the box. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put 24 cupcake liners in two muffin pans. Place a tablespoon of cake batter in the bottom of each muffin tin. Place one Oreo cookie on top of the batter in the cupcake liner. Cover the top of the cookie with another 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of batter until the batter is all gone and the muffins are filled to 2/3 full. Place the muffins in the oven and bake 15-18 minutes, or until the center comes out clean. The muffins will cook a little quicker because of the dry cookie in the center. While the muffins are baking, make the buttercream frosting. This is my favorite recipe, just add a capful of mint extract to the whipped frosting. Frost the cupcakes and top with mini chocolate chips or crushed Oreo cookie pieces.
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Peanut Butter Cookies & Annual Taste Test

If you have read my blog for awhile you would be familiar with our family’s tradition of our annual taste tests. All of us look forward to this fun part of our trips. This year we were excited to finally figure out which brand makes the best peanut butter. My husband and my brother in law are borderline fanatical about peanut butter and chocolate. These past weeks together I don’t know that a day has gone by that they haven’t splurged on some sort of pb & chocolate treat. We had such a fun time trying and tasting 9 different peanut butter options we could find at the local CA Winco. I am sure there are other brands, but these were the ones we compared: JIF regular, JIF natural, Skippy regular, fresh ground peanut butter, Winco store brand, Planters, Laura Scudder, Adam’s, and Western Family.

We were shocked once again at the findings. Just like in years past when the no-name brand Oreo came out the winner compared to the Nabisco brand, this year we had another no-name surprise. There were two close winners but the Winco store brand peanut butter was the winner!! We all were shocked and had thought for sure it was going to be a name brand winner. Second place came in at Skippy and third the JIF Natural PB. Last place was of course the freshly made peanut butter. It was flavorless and had an awful texture. Not counting that ‘given’ for last place was Adam’s PB. It had the worst after taste and it was fun to watch everyone’s reactions when they tried it. I would love to know what your favorite peanut butter is? I went into the taste test as a Skippy gal and that was my personal favorite–however, the Winco brand was definetly my second choice. So..if Skippy is not on sale, I will be stocking up on Winco Peanut Butter for sure 😉

After figuring out what the best peanut butter is we knew we needed to make up a yummy peanut butter treat and these cookies were just the thing we were craving! I love my Peanut Butter Blossom cookie recipe I posted about a couple years ago. However, my sisters recipe for these PB cookies is now going to replace my go-to PB cookie recipe. These cookies were soft and moist and not crumbly at all (which can be a problem with peanut butter cookies. This recipe is a perfect, delightful way to use the peanut butter in your storage 😉

 


















Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1/2 cup peanut butter
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  5. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  6. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  9. 1 1/4 cup flour
  10. 1 package chocolate chunks or chips
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Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar for 5-7 minutes or until smooth and light in color. Add the remaining ingredients and beat just until combined. In a small separate bowl place 1/4 cup sugar. Roll golf ball sized cookie dough into the sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies at 375 for 7 to 9 minutes, or until cooked in the center. Don't over bake or the cookies will be more dry.
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Lemon Chicken Picatta & 15th Anniversary

 

January 2nd is a special day in our family. Fifteen years ago I married my best friend. Celebrating our wedding anniversary around the New Year is such a great way to think about the many wonderful memories of the past year, and the blessing my marriage is to me. I have known Todd since I was six years old and so we are technically celebrating 28 years of being friends. He is such a wonderful, good and loving man I couldn’t be happier to work with him and raise our children together. Every moment we have together is a gift–not that life is always easy but together it makes life worth living.   

For our 15th anniversary we spent a few days in downtown Salt Lake at an old and charming hotel Little America. We had such a great time I can’t help but send a shout-out to everyone about how great their service was, the hotel ambiance and their buffets. Oh my! I am a harsh food critique (to say the least) and Little America serves a breakfast and lunch buffet that is out of this world! Everything was seasoned perfectly and I became a little fanatical about how great the food was. I had a hard time not talking about the food our entire trip. It’s not very often I eat at a place where you walk away thinking…I couldn’t improve on that one bit! Every bite was unreal.  If you are wanting a fun, delicious, romantic get-away I would suggest this darling hotel. The raspberry crepes, bran muffins, breaded halibut and teriyaki salmon are calling my name! I might just have to go back more often than yearly. YUM!  Thanks Todd for an amazing life and weekend together. Love you!



Now, onto the Lemon Chicken Picatta which was as lovely and amazing as my husband 😉 Okay, he’s much better than picatta, but this recipe is incredible! On our Anniversary we happened to go to Christopher’s Steak House and I ordered their Chicken Picatta. It was extremely delicious but the fact it was $30 a plate was crazy! Thankfully we had a coupon but it was killing me to pay that price when I knew I could feed 10 people that same meal for $30. So, as soon as I got home I went to work re-creating that fabulous dish and was thrilled when my version tasted even better than Christophers…and, for MUCH less the price. If you want a fancy, yet simple, dish for your next special occasion, this is the one for you! Pretty much this lemon cream sauce would be great on anything…breaded halibut, salmon, pasta, a grilled steak, over vegetables, etc. I hope you enjoy 😉

Lemon Chicken Picatta
Chicken
  1. 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  2. 2 tsp. salt
  3. 1 Tbls. black pepper
  4. 1 cup flour
  5. 1 cup panko
  6. 1/4 cup olive oil
  7. 1/2 stick butter
Lemon Cream Sauce
  1. 2 Tbs. butter
  2. 3 cups chicken broth
  3. Zest of 1 lemon
  4. 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 Tbls. cornstarch
  6. 16 oz. whipping cream, half & half or whole milk
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Instructions
  1. Lemon Chicken Picatta
Chicken
  1. 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  2. 2 tsp. salt
  3. 1 Tbls. black pepper
  4. 1 cup flour
  5. 1 cup panko
  6. 1/4 cup olive oil
  7. 1/2 stick butter
  8. Trim the chicken of any excess fat. Cut the chicken breasts and cut in half horizontally making two thin chicken fillets. Do this to each chicken breast. In a large gallon size Ziploc bag place the salt, pepper, flour and panko and mix around until combined. Heat a large sauce pan with the olive oil and butter. Heat to medium-high heat. Place several chicken breasts into the flour mixture, shake around until chicken is coated. Shake off extra flour and then place the chicken into the hot butter. Let the chicken breasts cook on each side until golden brown but not cooked through. Once the chicken is golden brown, place on a cookie sheet. Continue to do this to each chicken breast until they are all browned. Place the cookie sheet into a preheated oven at 350 for 10-12 more minutes, or until cooked through.
  9. To make the lemon sauce, add 2 Tbls. more butter into the pan and whisk together getting all of the browned bits off of the sides and bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice and zest and cornstarch. Let this sauce simmer for 5-7 minutes. Then add the whipping cream, half and half or milk. Turn heat down and let sauce simmer until it begins to thicken. Once the sauce is ready, add salt and pepper to taste and a 3.5 oz. jar of capers (which has been drained).
  10. Remove the chicken from the stove, serve over mashed potatoes and drizzle with the lemon cream sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley and fresh lemon.
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Carribean Quinoa Salad

My name is Shandra and I love food. I think I need to go to a AAA for foodies. I am sure my love for food borders on an addiction. I pretty much eat, drink, sleep food. My job revolves around food, grocery sales, menu plans, food blogs, creating new recipes, teaching cooking classes, shopping for food, experimenting in the kitchen with food, throwing parties with food, planning events with food. You name it, if food is involved you can bet my name is attached to that party. Don’t get me wrong. My family, relationships and my religion come way before food of course. However, food seems to make all of those aspects of my life even better 😉 j/k

If any of you are feeling like you are wanting to kick start a New Year’s resolution I have come up with some ways that I am going to try and be healthier and keep food in it’s proper place in my life. I have five things I am going to work on and be diligent at in the year 2014. I hope if I tell them to you, we can help each other and encourage each other to do better. At the end of the year I will check back in and keep you posted as to how I did (scary!).

Here are my new life changes for 2014 (I’m not calling it a diet…just a new way of living):
1-Don’t bake treats, desserts, sweet breads or muffins Monday thru Friday (unless it’s a birthday of course) This is a HUGE life change for me. There are few days that go by that I don’t bake something yummy, gooey or homemade. This will be the hardest for me. I have instead been focusing on healthier dinner recipes to share with each of you through the week. My kids think this is a cruel joke but hopefully we’ll all get used to it after awhile.
2-NO seconds..man that is hard for me! When food tastes so great it’s hard not to go back for more 🙂
3-Stop eating after dinner–preferably before 6:30 or 7 p.m.
4-Don’t make sweet breakfast items except for once a week on the weekend (you know..like the cream filled crepes, pancakes with butter syrup…those sort of delicious recipes 🙂
5-Exercise 5 times a week (thanks to my love for chatting with friends this one I’m actually good at 🙂

How does that sound? I am sure many of you are much more capable and informed on how to be healthy but at this point in my life I have to start somewhere, and that is cutting back on my time in the kitchen. Sometimes I wish my hobby was painting or horseback riding. That would sure make some things easier, wouldn’t it?

Alright, that was long winded. Feel free to skip all that if you are just wanting this ultra healthy and delicious recipe. I am a big fan of quinoa and all of it’s health benefits. This salad can be a salad or a salsa-like dish. I love it as-is but it is also great with tortilla chips. This is a great meatless meal option if you are wanting to cut back on your meat consumption and calories. The pineapple and jerk seasoning adds such a tropical, fresh flavor that it is unlike any quinoa salad you have probably had. Healthy, fresh and fabulous!



Caribbean Quinoa Salad
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup quinoa
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 1 can black beans, drained
  4. 1 can pineapple tidbits, drained and juice reserved
  5. 3 stalks green onions, sliced
  6. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  7. 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Dressing
  1. 1 Tbls. jerk seasoning (homemade is best)
  2. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  3. 1/4 cup oilve oil
  4. 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  5. 1/2 tsp. salt
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Instructions
  1. Bring to a boil the quinoa and water, and then place the lid on the pot, turn to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until fluffy. Once quinoa is cooked, remove from the heat and let begin to cool. Once it is cool, pour it into a bowl and then add the black beans, pineapple tidbits, sliced green onions, red bell pepper and chopped cilantro.
  2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth and then pour over the quinoa mixture.
  3. Keep salad in the fridge until ready to serve.
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Favorite Family Tradition & Fondu Cheese Sauce

I can’t believe I had to make one last shopping trip to Walmart today. It was an absolute zoo!! You could hardly walk down the aisles–what was I thinking?! You would be shocked but I ran out of butter AND cheese this past weekend. I seriously don’t know what I would do without these two items. Butter is a staple here at our house and it was killing me to not be able to bake all weekend. So…our freezer is well stocked again thanks to the great butter and cheese prices this week. If you have to run out shopping tomorrow, make sure and login to our website to find out where all of the best deals are in your area. I got all of the items above for under $125–that’s a fun Christmas present to my food budget 🙂

Speaking of groceries, I wanted to share a really fun dinner idea that my family LOVED tonight. My kids were raving over this meal, so I thought I would share this idea for “FUN-du”  with you. This would be great for a gathering this week or even your New Year’s parties. Since it was Christmas Adam today (not heard of it? It’s one of our favorite days of the year…you should celebrate it! Ha!) Since Adam came before Eve, we turn today (the 23rd) into Christmas Adam. Every year the kids sleep under the tree, open their sibling presents to eachother, we open a new family game (and play it) and snuggle while we watch a Christmas movie. Our dinner is usually soup and bread but I wanted to switch it up this year and try something a little more fun. The fondu was voted to be our new Christmas Adam meal of choice. I would have to agree!! It was delicious and great for the kids to pick and choose what they were interested in 🙂 Here are the two cheese fondu recipes I used and some of the items we chose to dip in them. Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas Adam.


Fondu Sauces & Dipping Items
White Cheese Sauce & Cheddar Cheese Sauce (bread cubes, chicken, steak, vegetables, asparagus, etc.)
Jalapeno Jelly (potstickers, shrimp, egg rolls and chicken)
BBQ Sauce (Lil’ Smokies, Grilled Chicken)
Ranch Dressing (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, celery)
White or Milk Chocolate (fresh pineapple, marshmallows, pretzels, bananas, apples, berries, etc.)

*The lighting in this picture was awful…I promise the cheese sauce is divine..despite the fact it looks like a thick, mustard paste in this picture 😉 

Fondu Cheese Sauce
White Cheese Sauce
  1. 1 stick butter
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 to 2 1/2 cups milk (depending how thick you want the sauce)
  5. 8 oz. swiss cheese, shredded
  6. 6-8 oz. muenster cheese (or other white cheese)
  7. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  8. 1 tsp. black pepper
  9. Dash cayenne pepper
  10. 1/4 tsp. paprika
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Instructions
  1. In a sauce pan add the butter and cook over medium heat until the butter begins to melt. Then add the flour and whisk together until the mixture is thick and the butter is all melted. Add the garlic cloves and milk and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken and is smooth. Add the shredded cheese and seasonings and continue to cook on medium low heat until ready to serve and sauce is the consistency you want. For dipping you will want the sauce about an alfredo consistency--not too thick. If the sauce is too thick, just add a little more milk.
  2. *Cheddar Cheese Sauce: use the same recipe above but replace with 8 oz. colby jack cheese and 8 oz. sharp cheddar.
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Dessert, of course, was everyone’s favorite. I just bought the fruits/treats that were on sale this week and the kids had fun dipping them in chocolate (I just added a little heavy cream to a good quality milk chocolate chip and it worked great).

We love having the kids exchange their sibling gifts on this night. We used to have them give it to them Christmas morning but they were always overshadowed by their other presents. Because our kids earn their own money and buy their siblings presents we wanted to make sure they enjoyed them and were grateful for their siblings thoughtfulness (you know..anything to keep a little peace and happiness in the home). The other great aspect is they then get to play with their knew toys/gifts all day Christmas Eve and they let me do my thing in the kitchen all day preparing for our big Christmas Eve dinner. A win-win for all of us 😉

Thanksgiving Highlights and Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving week. It is good to be back in a routine again…kids back in school, kitchen finally clean, house quiet, pumpkin pie eaten out of the fridge (I ate that for breakfast lunch and dinner all week) and the diet trying to start up again, until more parties happen 😉 Despite the chaos and the messes however, we had a wonderful time with our families this past week. Because our families live so close to each other we had two amazing Thanksgiving feasts on Thursday. By the end of the night two of our kids were throwing up and I think we all were stuffed to the brim. It was a great day though to spend with family, talk about our blessings, our memories from the past year and the many things we are grateful for. My sister Krista had a rule that none of us could leave the table without crying. Not too surprising all of the women cried without prodding but the men had a good laugh trying to see who could ‘cry’ the most tears at the table. We spent hours laughing and having a great time while the kids were able to play outside and burn off some of their energy. It was a beautiful, sunny day and for that we were all grateful because that meant kids were not cooped up inside. All around we had an amazing week and I am so thankful for so many amazing people and family who surround us on a daily basis. 
 

Today I wanted to share a couple of my new-favorite recipes I discovered this past week. Knowing me and my love for sweet potatoes, you are probably not surprised they both have that as their common denominator. I hope you enjoy them and have a wonderful month celebrating this Christmas season.

 

 
 

I love rolls and I love sweet potatoes so when my neighbor introduced me to this recipe it was a no brainer-of course I would love them! These rolls were perfect to eat our leftover turkey on as sandwiches. The sweet potato flavor is not very strong but it ads a pretty orange color to the rolls and a hint of sweetness. A great way to add some vitamins into a normally all white carb filled roll. Loved them!

Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
Ingredients
  1. 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  2. 1 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees)
  3. 2 large room temperature eggs, beaten
  4. 1 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
  5. 6 tablespoons melted butter
  6. 6 - 7 cups (approximately) All-Purpose Flour
  7. 1/3 cup sugar
  8. 1 tablespoon salt
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Instructions
  1. Stir yeast into the milk and soften in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before stirring to combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sweet potato puree, butter,
  2. sugar and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and whisk until combined.
  3. Using the paddle attachment for your stand mixer, add 3 cups of flour
  4. - 1 cup at a time - until a thick dough begins to form. When the dough
  5. begins to thicken you will need to switch to the dough hook attachment.
  6. Slowly add the rest of the flour, a bit at a time, until the dough is stiff enough to knead. Because each cup of flour measures differently, it is important to focus on the feel of the dough. Begin with 3 cups of flour and increase if necessary.mTurn dough out onto a floured surface. Continue to knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. The dough
  7. should not feel tough or dry, but rather soft and pliable (but not sticky).
  8. Place the dough into a greased bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat the entire ball of dough with oil.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and rise until doubled in bulk, for 1 - 2 hours.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment
  11. paper. Divide the dough in thirds . Then divide each third into 6-8,
  12. depending on how small you would like your rolls. (Note: Alternatively,
  13. you can bake the rolls in greased round cake pans instead of on baking
  14. sheets).
  15. Roll each piece of dough to form smooth balls. Divide the rolls
  16. between the baking sheets and cover with plastic wrap. Allow rolls to
  17. rise for 20-30 minutes, then discard the plastic wrap.
  18. Cook the rolls in the 400 degree F preheated oven for 15-25 minutes,
  19. or until they are baked through and golden on top. Rotate the baking
  20. sheets halfway through baking if you cannot bake them all on the same
  21. rack.
  22. If serving immediately, brush roll tops with melted butter.
  23. *Recipe from Good Life Eats --I added a little more sugar and salt but other than that, the recipe is the same 😉
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Sweet potato pie…where have you been all my life? If you love pumpkin pie there is nothing not to love about this sweet potato pie. I kept having to have tastes of this sweet potato pie and then pumpkin to see which one I liked better. I have to say if I had to choose just one pie I would have to go with this sweet potato pie. The color was so vibrant and a pretty orange color it looked more appetizing to me than the pumpkin pie. The flavor and texture too, although a little more dense, was super sweet and smooth. Everything about this pie was awesome and I can guarantee next year this Sweet Potato Pie will be making a re-appearance at our Thanksgiving table. 

*I used Paula Deen’s recipe and I only did two things differently from her recipe. I one and a halved the amount of the recipe and it filled one deep dish pie plate. I wanted a little thicker pie. I added 20-25 minutes onto the cooking time. Also, I topped the pie with whipped cream instead of the meringue topping. I’m sure both ways would be great but I am a sucker for real whipped cream.

Oatmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

 
This weekend is one of my favorites of the entire year. There are few times when I feel justified to sit on my couch and eat delicious food for two days straight. Our church has what’s called General Conference where the leaders and prophet of our church speak to us and they broadcast it on television and the internet around the world. Basically it’s like 8 hours of church on t.v. This may not sound fun to some, but for our family it is a special time to be together, listen to uplifting messages and eat lots of yummy food. 
 

 
The Monday before Conference begins we have our family council and each of the kids get to choose their favorite recipes/meals they want me to cook for this special weekend. They think it is so fun to be able to come up with our menu for the weekend and get to have special treats that I don’t make very often. One of the first requests was for these super spongy Oatmeal Pancakes. Of course they want them smothered in a sweet, berry syrup which makes these pancakes even better. A warm breakfast on a relaxed Sunday morning (without having to get 5 kids out the door to church by 9 a.m.) is going to be so great! Wake up to warm pancakes, turn on the fireplace, snuggle in a blanket and you have a weekend that couldn’t be better. No matter what your weekend plans are, these pancakes are a great, and healthy, way to start your day!

Oatmeal Pancakes
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cooked oatmeal or steel cut oats
  2. 2 Tbls. baking powder
  3. 3 tsp. salt
  4. 1/2 cup, sugar
  5. 3 Tbls. oil
  6. 1/2 cup sour cream
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 2 cups milk
  9. 2 tsp. vanilla
  10. 2 1/2 cups flour
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Instructions
  1. Place the cooked oatmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, oil, sour cream, eggs, milk, vanilla and blend until smooth. Add the flour one cup at a time until the batter is the right thickness. If your blender is not large enough to hold the flour, pour the mixture into a bowl and whisk the flour into the mixture.
  2. Heat a hot griddle and grease with butter or cooking spray. Pour a half cup portion of batter onto the griddle and cook until the bubbles in the pancake begin to pop. Flip the pancake and cook on the other side until golden brown. Serve with any of your favorite specialty syrups, apple pie filling, or maple syrup.
Notes
  1. *The great thing about these pancakes is they use leftover homemade oatmeal or steel cut oats. Every time I make oatmeal I always WAY over estimate how much my family will eat. The cooked oatmeal in this recipe is what makes these pancakes so extremely soft and spongy. If you don't have leftover cooked oatmeal you will want to microwave some oats in some water in the microwave until the water is dissolved (one part oatmeal to two times water).
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Creamy Potato Chowder

For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know my family and I have a reunion each year in Park City where we do a lot of fun and crazy traditions. With 16 grandchildren, most being under the age of 8, we have to be creative and find ways to keep these kids busy. The Marriot we stay in has an awesome kid center with lots of activities and one of our favorites is the yearly Iron Chef Competition. This is hands down the highlight for the older cousins. Every time we come home we promise ourselves we will do this again throughout the year because the idea of it is so simple, and yet so fun. We all just meet at the kid center of the hotel and they give each of us the ‘secret ingredient’. We then go back to our rooms and whip up some amazing creations with that ingredient. We have one hour to finish the recipe and meet back for the big judging. This idea would be so fun for a family night activity, with neighbors or with several couples for date night. Whether you love to cook or not, it is a blast!




This year we had such a great time again! This year’s secret ingredient was a box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix. Last year the ingredient was apples, which was much more simple than this (the Apple Caramel Won Tons from last year were amazing!). However, we got to work and my sister Diana was going for the kid vote and went for the traditional corn dog. She just added an egg, a little flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and some milk to the mix and voila, the perfect corndog batter. She cut the hot dogs into thirds and made little corn dog bites. They were delicious and a hit with the kids (and the husbands) for sure!

I on the other hand went with a little more sophisticated pallet and came up with a creamy potato chowder. As I was making this chowder I quickly wrote down the ingredients in case it was worth sharing with you. I have to admit, humbly speaking of course, that this soup was awesome!! It was per
fectly creamy, a little spicy, had great texture, and the additions of bacon and swiss cheese really put this soup over the top. We were laughing hysterically that after a whole week of eating out of our fridge we were able to scrounge up enough ingredients to make a huge pot of soup. If you had seen our empty fridge shelves you would have been shocked.

I know it is not quite fall, but if you want to begin prepping for fall-soup-season, this soup is a great one to have at the top of your list. Give an Iron Chef Competition a try. You will love how simple and fun this activity can be for the entire family!!

Creamy Potato Chowder
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 red onion, chopped
  2. 1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
  3. 1 cup celery, diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. 6 potatoes, peeled and diced
  6. 1 stick butter
  7. 2 cups chicken broth
  8. 1 box Jiffy Muffin Corn Bread Mix
  9. 2-3 tsp. salt
  10. 1 tsp. black pepper
  11. 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  12. 1 tsp. parsley
  13. 3-4 cups half & half
  14. 8 oz. Swiss cheese, cubed into small pieces (half in soup and half for garnish)
  15. 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  16. 1 cup green onions, sliced
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Instructions
  1. 1/2 red onion, chopped
  2. 1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
  3. 1 cup celery, diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. 6 potatoes, peeled and diced
  6. Chop the vegetables and place in a large soup pot (except the potatoes). Add the stick of butter and let it melt and saute with the vegetables until tender. Add the potatoes and stir. Let potatoes begin to soft for a couple minutes and then sprinkle over the vegetables the Jiffy Muffin Mix. Combine all of the ingredients together. Pour the chicken broth over the vegetables and let it simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  7. To the pot add the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, half & half and half of the Swiss cheese. Let soup continue to simmer on low heat until thick. While the soup is simmering, cook and crumble the bacon and slice the green onions. When the soup is finished, garnish each bowl of soup with green onions, bacon and the remaining half of the Swiss cheese cubes.
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Somehow my daughters and niece seem to beat me every year (refried bean cupcakes..come on?!). They won
first place again this year with their Cornbread Apple Pancakes with Butter Syrup. They
simply followed the recipe on the back of the box, added some chopped
apples and made some butter syrup for the topping. The jury is still
out, but I still think they won just because of the butter syrup. Who
can resist butter syrup?!? Not me! So, for another year I will have to
relinquish the title of first place and be happy with second 😉 I also
wanted to give a huge shout-out to the awesome gals in the kid center at
the Marriott. They dealt with all 17 kids all week and were so patient
and cute. We can’t wait to see you guys again next year!

Sugar Ray BBQ Pork Chops & Happy Pioneer Day!

For those of you outside of Utah, you probably are unaware of our Utah holiday we celebrate tomorrow. You see, 166 years ago a group of hot, dirty, tired, hungry, famished, pioneers came to the Salt Lake Valley hoping to have a new start. A chance to finally practice their religion without persecution. Every year here in Utah we celebrate these pioneers and their courage who helped build this beautiful valley for us to enjoy today. I love Utah and feel it is such a special and wonderful place to live. If it weren’t for these pioneers I am not sure where my family would live or be right now.



This year, more than any in the past I feel even more grateful for my early ancestors who sacrificed so much. Many pioneers lost several members of their family to cold weather, fatigue or starvation. Last week I was able to join with nearly 500 youth and leaders on a ‘pioneer trek’ of our own, to celebrate their sacrifices. We were able to travel on the same trail that our early ancestors traveled on. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. Although we did nothing but walk (a lot–over 18 miles), sleep in the sage brush and dirt, got covered in mud, got little sleep and were surrounded by over 450 teenagers, it was an incredible time! I have to say, this experience has given me hope for our future. The youth we were with were SO strong, positive, happy, good and wholesome. I was amazed that even though we were walking in over 5 inches of slippery mud for nearly 3 miles, these kids never stopped smiling. They continued on without complaint and were often heard singing and laughing as we walked. I even found a new hero. His name is Carson (the young man in the middle top picture). He broke his femur less than a month ago and insisted that he walk the entire 18 miles, despite the mud and rain, all on crutches. He had sores under his arms from his crutches and through tears and sweat he never gave up. I told him I will be having my daughter hunt him down in a few years for marriage. He was so incredibly inspiring. I really can’t say enough about how wonderful these kids are. I miss being with them, crying with them, laughing and being together. It will be an experience I will never forget and I have to say I have a new appreciation for many things that I have always taken for granted–running water, a warm shower, a washing machine, a beautiful home, health and the chance to worship God how I choose. This year, between our country’s Independence Day and Pioneer Day you are able to give thanks for the many blessings we have been given. It’s a good life! 🙂

 

Okay, since the 24th of July we always have a bbq and get together as family I wanted to share a pork marinade that my family loves! It is a dry rub that makes the best pork chops or ribs you will ever have. You can grill the pork chops or bake them. Cover them in extra bbq sauce and you have a delicious dish everyone will love. Happy Pioneer Day!

 

Sugar Ray's Pork Ribs
Ingredients
  1. 6 boneless pork chops or 2lbs. ribs
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  5. 3 tsp. paprika
  6. Dash cayenne pepper
  7. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  8. 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  9. Favorite BBQ Sauce for dipping
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Instructions
  1. Combine all of the dry rub ingredients together in a bowl. Place the pork chops or ribs in a large bowl or Ziploc bag. Add the rub ingredients with the pork and let sit overnight or for several hours. When ready to cook the pork you can either grill on a barbeque or bake in a greased 9x13 pan until the pork is cooked through. Time will be different depending on how thick the pork is and what method you use. Just don't over cook the pork or it will dry it out. Serve the cooked pork with extra sauce.
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Cut your vacation food budget in half

Summer is in full swing and here at Deals to Meals we are excited to help all of you save money on your vacation food
budgets. If you are like my family, we love to vacation! With a family of 7 however, the food portion of our vacations can sometimes price our trips out of our reach. Besides the hotel costs, the food expenses can be the next highest cost of a trip. I am excited to share several tips that will help you cut your vacation food budget in half (or more) and help you save money so you can do all of the fun things you are hoping to do this summer.

1-Know your food budget before you go on vacation. If you don’t have an idea of what you want to spend on food, it is easy to over spend. Food can add up quickly and be a hefty part of your total vacation cost. Know what you can afford and how much you want to spend, and try to stick to those figures. Knowing your budget will help you determine where and what you should and shouldn’t eat during the week.

2-Do some research and have a plan before you leave. Before going on your trip do a little research and put together a plan of where you will be eating for each meal (whether in the hotel or out to eat). Find what food options are in the areas you will be visiting and find places to go that have discount coupons or specials. By simply doing a Google search you can find discounts on many of your favorite places to eat. An example of this is restaurant.com where you can get up to 50% off many restaurants in the areas you will be visiting. Whether you are eating out each meal or cooking from your hotel it is good to know where you are going and know a rough estimate of how much you will be spending on food.

(Using Deals to Meals we got ten days of groceries for our family’s vacation for under $165!)

3-Stock up on snacks, treats and vacation items throughout the year when they go on sale.

Many times people do their last minute vacation shopping right before they leave on their trip. They buy snacks, treats, chips, fruit drinks, soda, crackers, fruit snacks, etc. and find they have to pay full price for these ‘vacation’ items. These items are great to keep kids quiet and happy while traveling, but can break the bank if you pay full price. The best time to stock up on these snack items are the first and last week in July (as well as the week of Thanksgiving). These are the times when snack items go on sale for their lowest prices. Instead of buying one box of crackers, stock up and buy several so you can keep them in your own ‘grocery store’ in your pantry, and have them on hand for several months to come. Having bought these items on sale can save big throughout the rest of the year. If you have not had time to stock up, remember to check Deals to Meals before you go shopping to find the best deals in your area.

4- Plan your vacation around the ability to make homemade meals where you will be staying.

Families, depending on the size, can easily spend anywhere from $30-$100 on one meal. This can add up quickly if you are needing to eat out three meals a day. That can be as much as $100-$250 a day spent just on food, depending where you choose to eat. Could you eat at Taco Bell for less, yes, but who wants fast food three times a day? So, the better option is to find ways to eat homemade meals where you will be staying. Whether you are sleeping in a hotel, a rented home/cabin, camping in the outdoors, or in a condo, you can easily cook homemade meals and cut your food budget in half.

My family has made nearly 20 week long trips to Disneyland (I know, my husband is a Mickey-fanatic). In the beginning we were spending nearly $800 on food for a week at Disneyland. Food in Disneyland is not cheap and with a family of 7 eating outside the park wasn’t a great option either. We found we could eat homemade breakfasts, lunch, and dinner meals from our own hotel and spent less than $150 for the entire week. How did we do it? Here are a few tips of how to cook simple meals and save hundreds of dollars for the week.

SIMPLE MEALS YOU CAN MAKE ON THE GO

a. Book a hotel with a microwave and/or a mini fridge. If they offer free ice, you could even do without a fridge. Many times a hotel with a mini kitchen or microwave is only a few extra dollars a night but can save you big on your food budget. Having a microwave can make meal prep easy in your hotel.

b. Bring the right tools. When I travel and plan on cooking in our hotel there are a few must-haves that make it much easier for me. I always bring an electric skillet. Not a flat griddle, but the skillets with the two inch sides. It is amazing what you can cook or warm up in these skillets. I can cook nearly every breakfast, lunch and dinner recipe I want between a microwave and a skillet. The skillet can be easily packed and is large enough to cook food for a large family of 7 like my own. It is also smart to bring paper products, plastic utensils, a kitchen scrubber, paper towels, and a small container of dish soap to make clean up a cinch.

c. Choose the right hotel (or accommodations) that allow you to prepare homemade meals in your room(s). Booking a hotel with a continental breakfast is not always the least expensive way to go. Most of us can eat a pretty simple breakfast and be fine (toast, bagels, cereal, fruit, yogurt, etc.). Many times the hotels that offer the free breakfast will charge you more than it would cost for your family to eat your own breakfast in the hotel room. If you can find a hotel with a reasonable continental breakfast and the price is not more than you could feed your own family breakfast then that is a good option.  Below are several meal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner that are easy to prepare and serve in a hurry. If you are flying to your destination you could easily make a quick shopping trip for some of these meals to make in your hotel without a lot of effort. Preparing homemade meals and serving in your hotel will save $100’s on your vacation budget.

 
BREAKFAST MEALS:
*Cereal
and milk
*Bagels,
cream cheese and fruit
*Yogurt
and granola
*Pancakes
(can be cooked on an electric skillet brought from home)–bring a box mix or put the dry ingredients for a homemade pancake mix in a Ziploc bag and bring the wet ingredients separate.
*Eggs
(can be fried on an electric skillet or in the microwave)–add some cheese and hash browns and you could make breakfast burritos without a lot of effort.)
 
LUNCH MEALS:
Lunch meals are easy to pack and can be brought around easily on the road as you are traveling. You can feed a family a healthy lunch for under $10, where as going out for lunch (even at a fast food chain) would cost most families over
$25-$40. Here are a few of my favorite lunch options that can be brought from home. Add a bag of chips, some veggies or fruit and you have a complete meal at a low price.
 
*PB&J
sandwiches
*Lunchmeat
sandwiches (Monte
Cristo’s
, Cubans,
deli sandwiches, etc.)
*Tunafish
sandwiches
*Simple
Salads (Rumbi’s, Golden Gate Chicken Salad, Sesame Salad, etc.)
 
DINNER MEALS:
Here are a few of my favorite simple dinner meals I pack from home when going on an extended vacation. One time saving tip is to make a few of these meals 1-2 weeks prior to your vacation. Double the recipe and eat one batch for dinner the week you make them and then freeze the second half for your vacation. It takes a little more thought and prep, but makes cooking on the vacation simple and hassle free.
 
*Tacos (cook up the taco meat ahead of time, freeze and warm in the microwave or skillet for a quick meal). Pack along shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce and taco shells and you have a quick and inexpensive dinner. I usually bring extra taco meat and serve the rest in a taco salad later in the week (just bring more lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, ranch dressing, chips and a can of kidney beans).
*Soups or Stews–soups can easily be made ahead of time and frozen for your
vacation. Warm up in the microwave and serve with store bought rolls for a
quick dinner. If you are in a hurry you could even just use canned soups or
stews.
*Shredded BBQ Pork Sandwiches--crock pot a large pork loin, shred and freeze the meat for your vacation. Frozen pork thaws perfectly. You can add some bbq sauce for a nice sandwich or serve in a burrito as a wrap. Serve with fresh fruit and
chips and you won’t be disappointed.
*Shredded Pork Tacos or Carne Asada Tacos-these tacos are one of my favorite are simple to make on the go. Just cook and shred the pork ahead of time and all you have to pack is some salsa, corn tortillas and cheese. Make these tacos on your skillet to melt the
cheese and you have a simple dinner.
*Quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches are simple and inexpensive to make. Add some
refried beans to the quesadillas to help fill your family up or some ham to
your grilled cheese for extra flavor.
*Breakfast for dinner is another simple approach to dinner. A good old’ pancake dinner never hurt anyone for dinner and is much less expensive to make than most meat-heavy dinners.
*Potato Bar-this is simple to make away from home if you just microwave the potatoes and cut up the toppings ahead of time at home. When ready to serve just open up the potatoes, place the toppings on top and you have a dinner ready in just a few minutes.
*BLT Sandwiches-Buy the precooked bacon that can be warmed in the microwave, throw on a piece of toast with
lettuce and tomatoes and dinner is done! Serve with a side pasta salad made from home or a store bought salad to share
 

If you don’t have room to pack all of the ingredients for these meals, I often pack the frozen meat and dairy items (usually the most expensive parts to a recipe) in our cooler and then shop for the produce and bread at a grocery store on vacation. With a membership to Deals to Meals you can login to our website anywhere in the U.S. and know what the best grocery deals are in your area.

 

Peanut Butter Frosting & Birthday Cakes

 
 
 (Good thing he is so stinking cute–it makes up for an ugly cake 🙂
Life is funny, isn’t it? When will I learn that if you throw judgement out to the world you will eventually have to eat your words. In this case, it’s birthday cake I’ll be eating 🙂 This is awful, but I used to look at people who made a quick birthday cake (from a box) for their children and inwardly mock them (just a little 🙂 that they couldn’t whip out a fancy, decorated, cute and fun birthday cake. As a kid I always wanted a fancy cake and I always got a boxed cake. I swore when I had kids I would take the time to make a nice, elaborate birthday cake for them. Well, for 10 years and nearly 45 birthday cakes later I have become the person I mocked. I don’t know what it is about life but I can barely get a boxed cake put together for my children’s birthdays. I feel badly that our cute three year old has had the worlds lamest birthday cakes in his short legged life. No Winnie the Pooh cake, no Buzz Lightyear, no Cars 2 birthday cake. Just some delicious peanut butter frosting all over a boxed chocolate cake. Now, it may not look great, but I do have to admit this cake is a family favorite and the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is incredible (especially if you are a chocolate peanut butter lover like myself!). 

(M&M’s in the shape of a number–oh boy, my lack of creativity is astounding 🙂
 

June is the end of our birthday streak of four birthday’s in our family and nearly 10 other extended family’s birthdays. From May 2nd until now we have had so many birthday parties we can hardly count. I have eaten my fare share of cakes these past weeks and although my children’s cakes this year were nothing special to look at, they sure did taste good! I thought I would share with you my Grandma’s favorite peanut butter frosting recipe. If you are new to peanut butter frosting, you are going to love it! Make it for your next birthday party and hopefully your family will know you love them, despite the lack of piped decorations on their cake 🙂

(I wasn’t sad at all when my daughter chose Chocolate Caramel Cake as her cake of choice–another one of my favorites!)

 

(Mint brownies were the choice for my daughters 13th birthday–who doesn’t love brownies?!?)

Peanut Butter Frosting
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)--I love crunchy but your frosting will not be smooth (see my pictures above 😉
  2. 1/2 stick butter
  3. 1 t. vanilla
  4. 1/3-1/2 c. milk, start with one third and add more if needed
  5. 3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  6. Dash of salt
  7. 1 recipe chocolate cake, cooked and cooled
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, place the peanut butter and butter. With an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add 1/3 cup of milk, dash of salt, and vanilla and beat for another minute. Add the powdered sugar until the thickness of the frosting is to your liking. If you need a little more powdered sugar, add by the tablespoon until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Once the frosting is to the texture you would like, continue to whip for another two minutes until soft and airy. Spread over the cake once it is cooled.
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Here are some more delicious birthday cake recipes to choose from 🙂
 

Zucchini Brownies

Happy Independence Day! I hope you have some fun plans this weekend to be able to celebrate this holiday, and the amazing country we live in. I feel so blessed to live in America. I am grateful for all of the freedoms we enjoy and for all those who have sacrificed so much so we could live in a free country. Every time I see the flag and the servicemen walk through the parades I get choked up and say a little prayer of gratitude for all the blessings we have in America.

 Shade at a parade with 103 degree weather was also something to be grateful for!
Where is the Deals to Meals float? I might just be working all year to finally make it into our neighborhood parade, then I’ll know I have made it! 🙂 We are thinking we could throw cans of food instead of taffy?!? What do you think?

Now, let’s talk fourth of July desserts. What is more American than a brownie? A gooey, homemade chocolate brownie is probably one of the highlights about hanging out at the park waiting for fireworks to start. My sister always makes an amazing batch of brownies, covers them in cream cheese frosting and decorates the top of the brownies like a flag with blueberries and strawberries. This year she has decided to break that tradition (grr!) and so it was up to me to provide the brownies for the park celebrations. However, I was plum out of berries and I wasn’t about to venture to the store on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. So, we had to go with second best and that is a homemade brownie with soft, fluffy, homemade chocolate frosting. Really for me, the more chocolate the better, so these brownie babies are a sure bet to curbing my patriotic chocolate craving later tonight. Now, you can either serve our go-to-most-amazing-best-ever brownie recipe, or give these Zucchini Brownies a try. I picked my first two zucchinis out of my garden today and was so excited to make this awesome recipe for these brownies. They have much less fat than regular brownies and they are extremely moist and rich. Lower in fat…who doesn’t need that this time of year?!?

Zucchini Brownies
Brownies
  1. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  2. 1/4 cup applesauce
  3. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  4. 2 tsp. vanilla
  5. 2 cups zucchini, shredded
  6. 2 cups flour
  7. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  8. 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  9. 1 tsp. salt
Go-To Chocolate Frosting
  1. 1 stick butter, room temperature (not too soft or the frosting will be too soft)
  2. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla
  4. 1/3 cup milk
  5. 4-4 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  6. Dash of salt
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Instructions
  1. Brownies: In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, mix together the butter, sugar, cocoa and vanilla until completely smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and spread into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (don't over bake but make sure the center is cooked through). Cool the brownies on the counter and then frost with chocolate frosting.
  2. Frosting: In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, blend together the butter, cocoa powder, vanilla and milk until smooth and soft. Add the powdered sugar and dash of salt and continue to mix on medium-high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes. The longer you whip the frosting, the smoother and fluffier it will be. If your frosting is too thick, add a few teaspoons of milk or if it's too runny, add a little more powdered sugar. Spread over the cooled brownies.
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These brownies are so fudgy and moist you might just need a fork 😉
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Butter Lime Corn on the Cob

Have you been asked to bring a side dish to your barbeques this weekend? Here are a few of our favorite side dishes that are sure to wow your friends & family!

If you have not tried grilled corn on the cob yet, this will be a must on our holiday menu this week! There are few things better than sweet, grilled corn on the cob smothered in a specialty butter. We have become huge fans of the Nacho Libre Chili Corn on the Cob we posted about a month ago. We switched up the butter recipe and came up with this Lime Butter Corn on the Cob that is also out of this world good!!
 

 

 

Butter Lime Grilled Corn
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 c. butter, softened
  2. 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  3. Juice of 1/2 lime
  4. Zest of 1/2 lime
  5. 2 T. cilantro, chopped
  6. Dash of cumin
  7. Dash of cayenne pepper
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. 8-10 cobs of corn, husked
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Instructions
  1. Pull the corn husks down to the bottom of the corn. Turn a grill to medium-high heat. Place the corn on the cob on the grill leaving the husks hanging out of the grill. Cook on all sides until they the kernels turn a darker yellow color and have a little charring. Once the corn is done, remove from the grill and put on a plate. Melt all of the butter ingredients together and spread all over the corn.
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Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs & Fathers Day Tribute

I am super picky when it comes to ribs.  I want the meat to just fall of the bone, I like them to be sweet and juicy and most of all I don’t want to deal with the sticky mess that they can make on the grill.  So after years of trial and error I figured out what I think is the best way to cook baby back ribs.  The recipe is really more technique based so please feel free to change up the spices and sauce to your liking. Some people love spicy ribs, and other like dry rubs so knock yourself out. I however love anything that has sugar in it so I went with a sweeter type BBQ sauce.  These ribs are a family favorite and are requested from friends and neighbors all the time.  I also love that you can throw them in the oven and leave for 5 hours to run errands and you have perfectly cooked ribs when you get home. This recipe is for 3 racks so keep in mind you can get away with cooking them for less time if you are only making 1 rack.  The best consistent price on baby backs I have found is at Costco or Sams club and they come in a package of three, so I just cook them all and if I happen to have leftovers I either share the wealth or have them for a picnic the next day. Enjoy!

 


Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs
Ribs
  1. 3 racks pork baby back ribs
  2. 1 orange sliced in 1/4 inch slices
  3. 1 small sweet onion such as vidalia, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
  4. 1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce, I like sweet baby rays original
  5. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  6. 3 tbsp honey
  7. Kosher salt
  8. Ground pepper
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 225. Place a large piece of foil over a rimmed 11 x 17 baking sheet wraps sides tightly and spray with cooking spray. Spread sliced oranges and onions evenly on the baking sheet and place the three rack of ribs on top trying not to let them over lap. Season with salt and pepper then brush with 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. Cover ribs with two more sheets of foil and wrap edges tightly so that no air or moisture can escape. This is the technique that keeps them juicy. As the onions and orange cook they will release moisture into the ribs as the ribs cook slowly. To prevent any tears or punctures in the foil I recommend using the larger roll of heavy duty foil.
  2. Place the baking sheet in the oven at 225, this is not a misprint...cook them low and slow! After 5 hours the ribs will be super tender. At this point remove the top layers of foil, drain the liquids that have accumulated. Mix the remaining cup of BBQ sauce with the brown sugar and honey and brush over the top. Return to the oven and broil on high for 5 minutes or until the BBQ sauce starts to bubble and brown in a few spots. Remove from the oven and let them rest for 10 minutes then serve.
  3. TIP: Ovens very a great deal, in my old oven these ribs would be perfect at 4 hours but in my new oven its closer to 5 1/2 hours. If you are making them for the first time I recommend pulling back the foil at 4 hours and seeing how tender they are. Be careful not to let too much steam and moisture escape as that is what keeps them from drying out. Check them every 30 minutes after 4 hours until you know the perfect cooking time for your oven.
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Fathers Day Tribute for My Perfect husband

 

Every time I make these ribs I think back to a day a few years back when my husband got a promotion and asked me to make a special meal for all of his co-workers.  What better man food than racks of delicious baby back ribs?  My favorite part of cooking is to see the expressions on peoples faces when they take the first bite of something delicious that you have created just for them.  Those moments are priceless to me. There is not a group of people I would rather treat to a great meal than a room full of soldiers.

 

My husband Richard is a BlackHawk pilot in the Utah National Guard and although deployment and military life in general is extremely challenging, I couldn’t be more proud of the life my husband has chosen to lead. He is the most genuine, caring, spiritual, hard-working man I have ever met as well as extremely funny and incredibly handsome.  Everyday I am in awe that he chose me to be his eternal spouse.  What an honor that is!

The best part about my husband however is that he takes being a great father to a level I have never before witnessed.  There is no doubt in my mind that the well-being of me and his beautiful three daughters is his top priority always.  He is the type of man who rushes to get home everyday to spend time with his family, when he is out of town or out of the country for work he Skypes us every chance he gets and will read stories to the girls over the phone.  He helps with housework, does whatever he can to lift the my burdens and the burdens of those he cares about. I really could go on forever about how great Richard is!

I am so thankful to have a spouse that serves his family so faithfully and who also has chosen to serve his country.  He is my hero in so many ways.

 

Thank you Richard for giving me everything I have ever wanted in life.  You are the type of man that fairy tales are written about. I love you!  Happy fathers day!!!!

Grilled Steak & Parmesan Herb Butter

 

We have one week to put together our anticipated Father’s Day Menu and I am excited to share with you some of Ellen’s and my favorite ‘man-food’ recipes. For my husband this would include anything meaty and stick to your ribs goodness. It would not include anything with rice or warm fruit. Needless to say I won’t be cooking him any curry dishes this Sunday. So, I have had to branch out a little and prepare some hearty, meaty dishes to share with you (I have to admit I didn’t mind and am actually part carnivorous myself 🙂

This first recipe takes a simple, boring steak to a whole new level! The Parmesan Herb Butter you brush on the steak as it’s cooking, as well as adding it on top of your cooked steak, gives this steak a huge boost of flavor. Grilling the steak also gives the steak a nice, flavorful char on the outside but keeps the center of the steak nice and pink and tender. This steak pretty much will melt in your mouth and will take an inexpensive cut of beef to a whole new level! The men in your life are sure to love this dish!

Grilled Parmesan Buttered Steak
Ingredients
  1. 2-3 lbs. boneless or bone-in beef steaks
Parmesan Herb Butter
  1. 1 stick butter, softened
  2. 3/4 c. parmesan cheese
  3. 2-3 T. fresh parsley
  4. 1 clove garlic
  5. Dash cayenne pepper
  6. Dash paprika
  7. 1/4 t. black pepper
  8. 1/4-1/2 t. salt
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Instructions
  1. Broil or grill steak to desired doneness. The steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a grill to medium-high heat and place the steaks on the hot grill. Grill on both sides until the center of the steaks are cooked to your liking. While the steaks are cooking, put all of the butter ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth and the parsley and garlic have been broken down. When steaks are nearly done on the grill, spread a thin layer of parmesan butter on top of the steak. Remove from the grill and place on a plate to rest. When ready to serve, place another dallop of butter on top of the steak to enjoy while eating.
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 Extra Herb Butter can be frozen for a later time in a small tupperware.

Serve this steak with Garlic Roasted Broccoli (recipe coming this week) and Roasted Potatoes
makes for a well rounded and pretty dish. For these potatoes all I do
is cut russet or red potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces and place on a cookie
sheet. I drizzle olive oil on them and then sprinkle a packet of dry
onion soup mix on top. Toss to coat and then sprinkle the top of the
potatoes with a little seasoning salt. Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes or
until the potatoes are tender and golden brown. The melted Parmesan Butter on these potatoes makes them absolutely amazing!

In honor of Father’s Day, Ellen and I wanted to post each day this week about a father who we love, and who has affected our lives. I am saving my own Father’s post for Saturday,  but couldn’t let this year go by without telling the father of my children how much I love him! I have known Todd ever since I was six years old. We grew up one house away from each other and have cared about, and loved each other as long as we can remember (minus his awkward 14 year old stage where his name was ‘the it’ and none of my girl friends would even say his name…he was that annoying! Thankfully that stage passed quickly and I was head over heels once again a year later 🙂

When I was 12 I wrote in my journal that I wanted to marry him (scary thought now that I have a 13 year old!! AHH). From a young age, Todd reminded me of my own Dad who I looked up to and adored. He is one of the most fun loving, patient, temperate, kind, non-judgmental, funny, positive people I know. He does not have a mean bone in his body–I’m not kidding. It’s almost scary how kind he is! Compared to me anyway 😉

I truly feel blessed and thank God every day that I have him in my life. He is my best friend and someone who I can lean on through good times and bad. We have had some rough years and big trials to overcome through these short 14 years, but every experience has made us stronger and helped us love each other even more. Marriage is not always easy, but for us, it is totally worth it and the best part of our life!

Not only is Todd an amazing husband, he is hands down, the best Dad I know. He is extremely busy and yet he takes so many small moments to hug the kids, play a game with them, snuggle the kids, throw a ball with our sons, go to their sporting events, goes to scout camp and does everything he can to be involved in their lives. We feel so blessed that he can work from home (he’s the brains behind the business portion of Deals to Meals) and has so much time to be with our kids. Although he has more to do than there is time, he is always taking those small moments to walk away from work and give the kids the one-on-one time they need. He really is so amazing and I am thankful this year, as well as all years, that I have been blessed with the man of my dreams! I love you Todd!!

Strawberry Cupcakes

 
 
Happy Mothers Day to all of you wonderful women out there! This is a great time of year to take time to give a special thanks to all of the amazing women in our lives who influence us for good, and help us be the people we are today. I know I will be eternally grateful for my own Mother and all of the inspiring and loving women I am so blessed to be around on a daily basis. I love you all!
 
I am sure many of you are busy putting together gifts, purchasing cards and getting some delicious chocolate together for a present. If you are like me however, it will be Saturday night and I will have procrastinated most of those things and will most likely make something homemade for my Mother and Mother-in-law. In the end I always enjoy something homemade anyway better than store bought, so hopefully they are okay with that 🙂
 
My dessert of choice this year is going to have to be these delicious strawberry cupcakes. Now, over the past several years I have tried to master the art of cupcakes. Let’s just say I won’t be making it on Cupcake Wars any time soon! The number of cupcake pictures and recipes I have invented and thrown out is hilarious! I seem to never get the cake to be the right texture or the frosting to hold up to a pretty piped topping. This is until I met my friend Ellen. She is an amazing cook! The other day she brought me over a plate of these cupcakes (below). They were the prettiest cupcakes I have ever seen! Not only that, but the frosting tasted like a mousse that was SO good I had to eat EVERY cupcake on the plate (I’m not kidding…sick, I know!) After eating almost all six cupcakes (well, at least the frosting off the top anyway) in a few hour period I decided I had to try and recreate her frosting recipe. Now, she is such a great cookbook she is going to publish a cookbook one day and so her frosting recipe is top secret. So, I had to do a little research and I think I found one that was pretty darn close. I knew hers had flour and milk in the beginning steps, so I was hoping I came up with one similar. I did bring her a cupcake and she was quite impressed with the results 😉 So, this frosting recipe is definitely a keeper! The best part about this frosting, besides the taste, is it can hold up to a pipping job on a cupcake. It can hold stiff peaks (because it is made with flour), although it is able to stay light, airy and the perfect textured frosting. Give your frosting making skills a new twist and try this decadent strawberry frosting on any of your favorite cakes or cupcakes 😉

 
Whipped Strawberry Frosting
Ingredients
  1. 5 Tbs. flour
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 2 sticks of slightly softened butter
  4. 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  5. Dash of salt
  6. 2-3 fresh strawberries, smashed
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Pour the milk and flour in a sauce pan and whisk together until smooth. Turn heat to medium heat and whisk continually until mixture is firm and thick, about 4-5 minutes. Be careful that the flour does not burn or cook too high. Remove the mixture from the heat and add 2 t. vanilla. Whisk and then place a piece of saran wrap on top of the mixture and place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is cold. Once the mixture is cold, pour the mixture into a mixing bowl (or Bosche/Kitchen Aid mixer). Beat for 1-2 minutes to soften the flour/milk mixture. Then add
  1. 2 sticks of slightly softened butter. Beat until smooth and then add the powdered sugar, salt and fresh mashed strawberries. Beat for 7-8 minutes, or until frosting is completely fluffy and soft (the longer you beat, the better).
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 This frosting is also great in a puff pastry! Here is our recipe for eclairs that can easily be adpated into a puff pastry shape and pipe the frosting inside the middle.

Hola Amigos!

 

So, you may or may not have noticed, but I have been pretty much m.i.a. this past week. For years my husband and I have been saving up to go on a romantic get-away to Cancun and the much anticipated time finally came. We spent this past week in absolute paradise. Our last couple trip was when I was pregnant with our third child (almost 10 years ago) and so we were thrilled to have a chance to get away and spend time with each other. With our busy lives and crazy work schedule, we had such a great time spending a week of total relaxation. We stayed in a new hotel on the Cancun Penninsula and it was amazing! It was all you could eat (I am still scared to stand on the scale!!) and we ate ourselves sick. The food was great and I ate chocolate covered strawberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our other favorites were their guacamole, fresh salsa and their coconut ice cream–we ate WAY too much of all of it this week! Besides the delicious food and time with my hubby, we were able to travel around and see many of the Mayan ruins. We went to Chichen Itza, Coba, Ek-Balam (amazing!), swam in cenotes, went snorkeling, ate at cute little local restaurants and enjoyed every minute of our hotel.

Thanks for being patient with me as I get back into normal life and have to make food for myself again, so I can blog again. I was spoiled for a week to be waited on. After not cooking for a couple weeks after my burn, I don’t remember if I know how 😉 I’ll get back into the swing of things and post some yummy re-creations I had in Cancun that I want to try and make at home! Have a wonderful week and I hope you get to enjoy a little sunshine and happiness where ever your daily paradise is 😉 Here is a quick travel log of our favorite moments of our trip.

 Underground cenotes that were so fun to swim in. The water was all fresh water, clean and such a pretty crystal blue color. These were water holes that allowed the ancient Mayan people survive for so many generations.

Here we are at one of the six resteraunts at the hotel. The steak was incredible as well as our favorite pork dish called Cochinita Pibil. I have been searching for a copycat recipe but I need achiote paste. Anyone know where to buy that? So yummy!!

Isn’t the Carri bean the most beautiful place ever?!? It is such a turquoise blue it looks like blue jello. It was incredible and so much better than our cold weather here at home.

This was Sunday morning before we went to an LDS church in Cancun. We drove around the city and it was humbling to see the neighborhoods and surroundings these people live in. Their homes (if they had them) were made of sticks/wood or cement. To us these homes wouldn’t even be worthy of being a shack, and yet families of several people lived in them. So sad! The Mexican people were so humble and sweet. My husband served an LDS mission in Honduras so he felt homesick for all the people he loved in that country. It was fun to hear him speak to all of the people and get to use his Spanish again. We had an amazing time visiting with the local people of that area, we met some amazing people. We are so blessed here in America, we all left feeling so guilty for everything we’ve been given. Seeing the way others live in this country helped give us all a healthy dose of perspective.

Chichen Itza–so incredible! If you are going to this area, email me and I will give you the name of our tour guide. He was so full of information and history we were soaking it all in. He gave us all a private tour of all of the ruins in the area and we loved every minute it! If you need a good referral, I would be happy to share his info with you 😉

I need to send out a HUGE thank you to my sisters and Mom who stepped in and watched all of the kids for us. My poor sister Diana was stuck at home with a home full of 7 sick kids with the flu. We left and everyone got sick. She had a week of throw up, sleepless nights and sad kids while we were out playing. Our friends brought her a homemade pina colada to help her feel better just as the school called and told her she needed to come pick up our son who had thrown up at school and needed to come home. Poor Diana! You were a trooper. Thank you so much!

Want a piece of Cancun at home? Make some homemade guacamole, fresh salsa , fajitas, tres leche cake, pineapple coconut waffles, or pineapple coconut bread pudding 🙂 I am going to miss all the fresh fruit and vegetables!

Favorite Holiday Traditions

  

I am sure if you are like me, the traditions of the Christmas season is what makes this time of year so special. When I think back on my childhood, there are very few presents I remember, but there are those family traditions that I will never forget, and I have enjoyed passing on to my children. Our family is HUGE into traditions. We have traditions for nearly every holiday: ground hogs day, the longest day of the year, St. Patricks Day, Valentines, Halloween, Labor Day, etc. You name the holiday, our family (extended and immediate) have traditions for each one that make them fun. I am sure you are the same way too! I love asking people their favorite family traditions because you get to hear about the way people spend the holidays with their families and things that make this time of year special. I wanted to just take a minute and give you a glimpse into this holiday season with my family. There is nothing fancy about anything we do. In fact, you could find cutsey-tutsy ideas over on Pintrest if you want the real crafty ideas. However, I feel our traditions offer family’s a real and simple way to help make this time of year more special. Besides me sharing our traditions, I would LOVE to hear some of your traditions. Feel free to leave a comment with some of your family’s traditions and I’m sure I will get many wonderful ideas from you too!

Last year I blogged about several of our favorite traditions we have done for nearly 14 years now (my husband’s ‘light turning on ceremony’, Christmas-Adam sleepover under the tree, Gingerbread houses made with leftover Halloween candy, sibling gift card exchange dinner & date night (a total favorite!), fancy Chicken Cordon Blue Christmas Eve Dinner, Sub for Santa drop off, etc.) There are too many to count, but this year I wanted to share a couple NEW favorite traditions that have really helped put the true meaning of Christmas back into this season for my family.

We have loved this  Christmas Advent Calendar. I put together last year that has correlating scriptures for each day of December. I switched up the scriptures a little from the ones she had online, but the kids have really had fun looking up scriptures each night and it’s been a great way to get discussions going about Christ’s birth and what it means to us. I also added a few nights where we sing certain Christmas songs around the piano. My family is far from musically inclined (in fact, I am totally tone-deaf), but we have had fun singing some of our favorite songs around the piano. It’s been fun to see even our 11 year old boy reluctantly come over and sing every now and then.

 
Now, onto our most favorite tradition that we started this year and will never forget. It was such a touching experience that even my children talk about it still, several weeks later. I got the idea from one of my favorite authors and motivational speakers, Emily Freeman. The idea was to make ‘homeless care packages’. We all know this time of year there are several people on the streets or corners asking for money or needing help. I know people say to be careful to give them money because you never know what they might spend it on. So, the idea is that you put together these care packages and hand them out anytime you see someone in need.
 
I heard this idea, had major goosebumps and went straight to the store with my kids to put together some kits. I loved this idea and felt like it was something we could easily do and I was not expecting the amazing results that would come from it! We went to Walmart and picked out several simple things like new socks, ponchos, hand warmers, water bottles, granola bars, oranges, apples, treats, snacks, crackers, juice, raisins, candy, a Christmas note and picture of Christ. (Next year we want to add a toothbrush, toothpaste and few $1 gift certificates to McDonalds or somewhere they can get an inexpensive meal). My children all wrote a note of love in the Christmas letter, we sealed them up and got them ready to take out.  We put together 18 kits just in time for us to walk out the door to our annual Temple Square Light visit.

We had several cousins with us that night and so each child had 2-3 bags to hand out to anyone they saw that was in need. It wasn’t only a few feet from our car that the kids noticed a man sitting up against a lamp post. They all ran over to him, gave him the package, wished him a Merry Christmas and ran back to the group. I have to admit I was a little embarrassed and worried about how someone would respond to this group of rowdy children. However, the man told them over and over how grateful he was and quickly ripped open the bag to see what was inside. This was just what the children needed to get their excitement levels up! They couldn’t wait until we found someone else they could share a bag with.  We were able to give out only 7 bags that night, but each time it was such a special experience we were all in tears and went home feeling such a debt of gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father who has blessed us with so much. To think of how much this simple Ziploc bag of goodies meant to these people was so humbling. To come back to our comfortable and warm home, soft beds, clean sheets, pillows, clean clothes, family, etc. it brought tears to all of our eyes as we realized how blessed we were. It is sad how much we take for granted on a daily basis. This experience helped me and my children, and the rest of our family, realize that we need to do more. There are so many people suffering and needing an extra hand, and words of encouragement, we all re-dedicated ourselves to find more ways to serve.

The great thing about these kits is the ones we didn’t give out (my sister went the next weekend and was able to give out 11 in just a short time), we have kept in our car and anytime we see someone with a sign, or someone who seems to be suffering, we give them a bag and wish them Merry Christmas. It has been so neat to see their eyes light up with excitement and gratitude for such a simple gift.

Infact, we loved this tradition so much our neighborhood had a Christmas breakfast and the children were able to put together over 50 more kits to be brought to the homeless shelter. They decorated the totes the items went in, helped fill them with the items people donated and the youth will be bringing these bags to the shelter before the end of the year. Our neighborhood has loved the fact we don’t do neighborhood gifts and instead participate in an annual service project. I LOVE not having to deal with Christmas goodies, plates, delivering, etc. The money is much better spent towards a good cause 😉
One last tradition that my sisters have done for years that I think is so cute is their children put together little gift bags with goodies and a little note that says congratulations on the best Christmas lights in town. They then drive around looking for their favorite decorated homes and then the children go up to the door and give them the treats with their little ‘award’ for best lights. My kids go with my sister every year and think this tradition is so fun. Simple, yet a great way to spread Christmas joy 😉

Last, but not least, we LOVE our annual neighborhood Christmas breakfast. This year a few friends and I were put in charge of all of the food and decorations for over 200 people. We saw a color scheme on Pintrest for red, white and blue and we were THRILLED with how everything came together. WE ahd to admit that the decor was some of the cutest we have ever seen in a church cultural hall. These pictures don’t do it justice, but it was SO amazing! We had over 300 snowflakes hung from the cieling by fishing wire, 5 foot tall candy canes, and pure cuteness from one end to the other. 
Besides the cute decor, the hot cocoa bar was a HUGE hit!  The children (& Adults) loved the warm hot chocolate with all of their favorite toppings. They could make their hot chocolate unique by adding crushed candy canes, chocolate chips, regular marshmallows, peppermint marshmallows, coconut marshmallows, etc. The mason jars with ribbons and tags turned out super cute and would be a fun way to dress up any Christmas party you may have upcoming! 
Okay, I am sure you have had enough of my ramblings. Feel free to share some of your favorite family traditions and I will be back tomorrow for a Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie that you (and Santa) are sure to love!!

Cherry Pecan Cookies

There are moments in life where things happen and you take a step back and realize how precious life is. I feel like most days my life feels like it is on a runaway train. I feel like there is more to do than I will ever have time to accomplish. I think our to-do lists can often keep us so busy on things that are good, that we forget what is most important. This is a HUGE problem of mine that I try and do better at every day. Since some tragic news we received this week, these priorities have been a little easier to see. An amazing mother, wife and friend from our neighborhood growing up passed away suddenly this past week. Her funeral was today and we have all shed many tears and can’t believe the hardship and trials her family are experiencing.

For me her death felt like a huge wake up call for my own life. Kim & I are the same age, we were both married the same year, we both have three boys and 2 girls (nearly the exact same ages), her husband is the Bishop of their ward just like mine is (a Bishop is like the pastor of our church), her son plays football, her daughter is in the same grade as my oldest daughter, etc., etc., etc. I started to think about my life and how much better of a mother, wife and friend I need to be. At the viewing, her husband Jim told us in a hoarse and serious voice to   “treasure EVERY moment”. Isn’t that so true? How often do we truly treasure each moment. I feel like many moments I am in survival mode and don’t really appreciate the simple and special moments we have with those we love. We never know when our days here on earth will come to an end. To simplify and appreciate my life more is my new years resolution and something I hope I can figure out this holiday season, before life gets even more busy.

I wanted to share a favorite quote of mine that I am printing and putting up to remind me to SLOW down and enjoy the beautiful life I have been given 😉

“We would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness. They will teach us to do ‘all these things..in wisdom, and order, for it is not requisite that we should run faster than we have strength. But, it’s expedient that we should be diligent and thereby..win the prize.

Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship–the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace.”

Cherry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. brown sugar
  2. 1 c. white sugar
  3. 1 c. butter, room temperature
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 2 t. vanilla
  6. 3 1/2 c. flour
  7. 1 t. baking soda
  8. 1 t. salt
  9. 1 c. pecans, chopped
  10. 1/8 t. almond extract
  11. 1 c. dried cherries
  12. 12 oz. white chocolate chips
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cream together the brown sugar, white sugar and butter until smooth. Add the eggs and beat. Add the vanilla, flour, baking soda, almond extract. salt and cream together. Add the flour and then add the dried cherries, pecans and white chocolate chips.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and then place golf size cookie dough balls on the pan. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden brown.
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Manti Chicken Marinade & Smoritos

 
 
It’s nearly July 4th and for our family that means camping, family bbq’s & lots of roasted marshmallows. I am excited to share two of my favorite recipes to have when camping. I love a good ol’ grilled hot dog every now and then, but when I am in the mood for something a little more gourmet, I always turn to my favorite (EASY) chicken marinade recipe.  This recipe comes from the small, and charming city of Manti Utah. We camp their every year and enjoy watching the Manti Miracle Pageant. We swim in the Palisade’s Lake, go hiking, and have a great time visiting and eating lots of delicious food. Besides this amazing chicken, our family is now in love with Smore-itos for dessert. Regular-old smores are great, don’t get me wrong. However, these smore-itos are a fun new twist on an old favorite. Sounds totally crazy to have a smore in a tortilla, but they are so addicting you will want one anytime you are anywhere close to a fire pit. In fact, I have been known to cheat and cook these on our outdoor grill because  they are THAT good!  They turn into a tortilla filled with melted chocolate and marshmallow goo. It doesn’t get much better than that!! I hope you have a safe (& delicious) holiday weekend 😉
 
 
 
 
 
 
 (Like father, like son–aren’t vacations the best?!?)

Manti Chicken Marinade
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/4 cup 7 Up or Sprite
  2. 1 cup soy sauce
  3. 1 Tbs. horseradish
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 1/2 cup oil
  6. 6-8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
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Instructions
  1. In a large Tupperware or bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and set
  2. aside. Trim any excess fat or gristle from the chicken.  Slice a few
  3. shallow lines across the breasts of each chicken (so the marinade can
  4. seep in easier).  Place the chicken into the bowl with the marinade. Let
  5. the chicken marinade for 6-24 hours. The longer it marinades, the more
  6. flavor the chicken will have.  Grill on a hot grill for 15-20 minutes,
  7. or until the chicken is not longer pink (time will vary depending how
  8. thick the chicken is).
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Smoritos
Ingredients
  1. 1 flour tortilla
  2. 2-3 Tbs. milk chocolate chips
  3. 3 large marshmallows
  4. 1 tsp. butter (cut into 2 pieces)
  5. Sprinkle of cinnamon/sugar
  6. Tinfoil square
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Instructions
  1. Cut a tinfoil square about 8x8 inches. Place the tortilla in the center.  Put three marshmallows in the center of the burritos. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Sprinkle a spoonful of cinnamon sugar on top of the chips & place the pat of butter on top of the marshmallows. Fold the burrito up tight on both sides so the juices will not pour of the burrito. Roll the burrito up in the tinfoil and place on the grill or in a hot fire pit for 5-7 minutes, or until the marshmallows are melted and soft. Remove from the fire, remove the tinfoil and eat hot or cold.
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Smore-itos

 

Cherry Chocolate Brownies and Butterscotch Bars

Thanks to those of you who came and visited our charity bake sale.  We had an absolute blast!  It’s amazing how great service feels.  We were all nothing but smiles, and sometimes tears at how generous and kind people are.  It is a great reminder that even though there is a lot of bad and ugly things in the world, that people are legitimately kind and good hearted. There were many times we were choked up when people would hand us $40 for a plate of cupcakes, or a $100’s for a plate of cookies.  We were all touched and thankful for so many who came and supported this great cause!If any of you feel inclined to start this tradition in your neighborhood, I would say do it!!  It was a great bonding experience for all of us, as well as our kids to work on this project together.  We were thrilled when we found out we raised just under $1,000!  We can’t wait to see if we can do even better next year 🙂 I am grateful for great friends who are so supportive of our crazy ideas! We were so glad our friend Millan and her baby Rodney (from Haiti) could be there to see everyone’s support.

 

 We kept losing Blake with all of the people, so someone had a brilliant idea to tie balloons to him so we would always know where he was.  I need to do this more often!!

The kids had a fun time on the corner trying to direct traffic to our sale.  A few of them even thought if they dressed up in costumes they would get more customers.  I think the hot dog costume did the trick :O)

 

Now..let’s talk amazing food!  We had seven tables filled with some of the most delicious treats and food we have ever tasted. Several items were huge hits!  Homemade wheat bread were some of the first to go, we will have to make several more loaves next year.  My friend Camille’s Cinnamon Rolls were gone before you could blink an eye.  We also had banana bread, chocolate chips cookies, pizza rolls, calzones, chocolate mint brownies, breadsticks and MUCH more!

I am excited to share two new recipes that were sold at our bake sale that were BIG hits!  First, are my friend Betsy’s Cherry Brownies.  They are super simple to make, but so moist and delicious we all couldn’t get enough.

 

Cherry Chocolate Chip Brownies
Brownies
  1. 1 box brownies (any brand will do)
  2. 1 can cherry pie filling
  3. 1 cup chocolate chips
Cherry Frosting
  1. 4-6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  2. 2 Tbs. softened butter
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  4. Powdered sugar
  5. Maraschino cherry juice (as needed)
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Instructions
  1. Follow the directions on the brownie box, except omit the water (add the eggs and oil). Then add the can of cherry pie filling and chocolate chips. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan and bake according to the brownie directions (you might need a few more minutes since it is so moist). Once baked, cool until chilled and ready to frost.
  2. For the frosting: cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth with an electric beater in a bowl. Add the extract and powdered sugar (about 1-1 1/2 lbs.). Add maraschino cherry juice and more powdered sugar until the frosting is a soft and smooth texture. Once the brownies are cool, frost with the frosting.
  3. If you want to be extra fancy, drizzle the top of the brownies with melted chocolate or chopped maraschino cherries.
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The second recipe we all loved was my friend Chrystal’s recipe for Butterscotch Bars.  They are buttery, rich & amazing! The jelly roll sized pan was sold before the first 15 minutes were up.  Next year, we’ll have to make a few more batches 🙂

Butterscotch Bars
Bars
  1. 4 sticks butter, melted
  2. 4 cup flour
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. Dash of salt
Filling
  1. 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  2. 1 bag of white chocolate chips (divided in half)
  3. 1 bag of milk chocolate chips (divided in half)
  4. 1 bag of butterscotch chocolate chips (divided in half)
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Instructions
  1. Crumble/Bar: Melt the butter and place in a bowl.  Add the flour, sugar and salt and mix together with a hand blender until combined and a little crumbly (it will still be soft though).  Press half of the dough mixture into the bottom of a greased jelly roll (cookie sheet) pan (this recipe can be halved and done in a 9x13 pan).  Bake at 350 for 7 minutes (it will look slightly underdone, but that is okay).  While the crust is baking, make the filling.
  2. For the filling: in a sauce pan, cook on low heat the milk and half of each bag of chooclate chips, until the chips are melted smooth. Once the crust is done being baked, remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chip mixture on top of the crust.  Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture on top of the choclate layer.  You will not be able to cover the entire top and that is okay.  Sprinkle the rest of each bag of chocolate chips on top of the crust.  Continue baking for another 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit over night or in the fridge until it sets up.  Once it is set, cut into squares and serve.
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Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas

Mother’s Day is not always my favorite holiday.  You know, the guilt, the expectations…I tend to make the day less than appealing for us all (why are we so hard on ourselves as women??).  However, if I think of MY amazing mother and not the mom I wish I were, I can make it through the day and enjoy time spent together as a family.  We love to get together for a Mother’s Day brunch or breakfast and celebrate what amazing women we are blessed to have around us so close.  We had a delicious brunch with some of our favorite ‘chick’ food.  Here are a few recipes & favorites that will hopefully help the planning of your Mother’s Day activities go a little more smoothly.

Tropical Chicken Pineapple Salad
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled & seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning (or salt/pepper)
1 & 1/2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
2 mangos, peeled and seed removed (1 for dressing, 1 for salad), diced
1 fresh pineapple, cored and peeled (3/4 c. for the dressing and 2 c. for the salad), cut into chunks
2 c. tortilla chips
1/2 c. feta or gorgonzola cheese
1 red & orange bell pepper, diced (any color would do)
Dressing:
3/4 c. mayonnaise (or more if you like a thicker dressing)
3/4 c. fresh pineapple
1/4 c. mango, diced
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. rice vinegar
1/2 t. garlic powder (or 1 clove)
Dash paprika
1/2 t. dry mustard
Dash cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt (to taste)
Grill the chicken until cooked through (or saute in a pan).  Dice the chicken into bite sized pieces. Chop the romaine lettuce.  Dice the vegetables.  Peel and dice the pineapple and mango.  Puree the dressing until smooth and serve over salad with all of the remaining salad ingredients and the grilled chicken.

 

Serve the salad with our favorite crescent roll recipe and cinnamon butter
 
 
End your brunch with this amazing EASY angel food cake dessert that is semi-homemade, but OH, SO delicious!!

Layered Angel Food Cake
1 bar angel food cake (homemade or store-bought)
16 oz. strawberries, washed, leaves removed and sliced
2 T. sugar
6 oz. vanilla instant pudding
1 1/2 c. milk
8 oz. Cool Whip (or whip up some real whipping cream…even better!!)
 Slice the strawberries and place in a bowl with the sugar.  Stir around and let the strawberries sit for a minute.  Slice the angel food cake into three pieces horizontally.  Place the bottom layer of the angel food cake onto a decorative plate.  In another bowl, mix together the pudding and milk until smooth. Once the pudding is thick, fold in a little more than half of the Cool Whip until the mixture is combined.  Spread half of the pudding mixture onto the top of the bottom layer of angel food cake.  Spread a layer of strawberries on top of the pudding.  Place the middle layer of the angel food cake on top of the strawberries.  Spread with the rest of the pudding mixture.  Layer some more strawberries on top of the pudding and place the top of the angel food cake on top of the strawberries.  Top the angel food cake with the left over Cool Whip and garnish with a few more strawberries and mint leaf.

 

Quick and Easy Chili

There is one thing we are not lacking in our home, and that is holiday spirit. We may not be great parents in many aspects of life, but thanks to my husband, our home is a place of crazy-fun holiday traditions. The holiday festivities begin the first week in October with our annual ‘Holiday Kick-Off Celebration’. My husband can hardly wait to begin celebrating this time of year. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, our home is an exciting place to be (no thanks to me!). My husband has an addiction–an addiction of holiday cheer. I am generally the scrooge of the family, but thanks to his fun-loving personality the kids have a great time these next few months. These are the best months for delicious food, family parties and favorite traditions.
Our ‘holiday kick-off party’ always begins and ends with, you guessed it…FOOD! Each year we have the same menu, which is okay with me because it makes the meal planning easy. This time of year I pick all of the tomatoes from our garden and make two of my favorite garden recipes…Homemade Chili and Green Salsa Verde. The homemade chili is a great way to use up those last ripe tomatoes, peppers and onions from your garden. The salsa verde is my FAVORITE way to put those boxes of green tomatoes to use. This recipe for green salsa is amazing on enchiladas, smothered over burritos, in salad dressings, with chips, etc. If you have green tomatoes coming out of your ears…visit this post from last year where I share with you my six favorite green tomato recipes. Delicious!!

Okay…back to our holiday menu. Once I have made a large batch of homemade chili, we love to serve the chili over hot scones or our new favorite way…over a cornmeal waffle. I know this sounds bizarre, but if you love sweet and salty combinations, this is the recipe for you!! I saw this idea on Paula Deen and new I had to give it a try. It did not disappoint. The combination of the hot and spicy chili with the sweet cornbread waffle, topped with cool sour cream, avocados and cheese..it was a party in your mouth. I couldn’t get enough of these chili waffles and I am salivating just writing about them. If you don’t have plans for your Halloween festivities, give this recipe a try. I can’t think of a better meal to start the Halloween fun. Hope you have a spook-tacular Halloween!

My husband & his ‘Man vs. Food’ challenge. Food won, he couldn’t finish his huge plate of chili waffles 😉 Notice the large roaster pan of chili. I couldn’t live without my roaster oven..it is like having the world’s biggest crock pot. A must-have in the kitchen for large families!

Cornbread Chili Waffles
*For the cornbread waffles, I used the cornbread pancake recipe that I blogged about a few months ago. I just played around with the consistency until it made a good waffle. I also cut back the sugar a little (I used about 3/4 c. instead of 1 1/3 c.)…I like my waffles sweet, but this would have been too sweet with the chili. If you don’t like the sweet and spicy combination, use Paula Deen’s recipe. Her waffles don’t have hardly any sugar in them. Either way, they will be delicious!
Garnish waffles with diced avocados, sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, cilantro, etc.
Quick and Easy Chili
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. spicy ground pork sausage
  2. 1 lb. lean ground turkey or beef
  3. 1 large onion, diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. 1 jalapeno, diced (or you can use more cayenne pepper instead)
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 3 cans pinto or chili beans, drained
  8. 1 can black beans, drained
  9. 1 can kidney beans, drained
  10. 2 cans diced green chilies
  11. 4 cans diced tomatoes (or use fresh garden tomatoes that have been cored and diced)
  12. 2 cans tomato sauce
  13. 2-3 cup chicken or beef broth (depending how thick you like your chili)
  14. 2 Tbs. chili powder
  15. 2 Tbs. cumin powder
  16. 3 Tbs. brown sugar
  17. 1 Tbs. salt (or more if needed)
  18. 1 tsp. black pepper
  19. 2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning (or more salt/pepper to taste)
  20. 2 tsp. garlic powder
  21. Cayenne pepper, to taste (or jalapeño peppers)
  22. 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar (add at the very end of the cooking process for a little zing 🙂
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Instructions
  1. Cut the onions, peppers and garlic and set aside. In a large soup pot, saute the sausage and beef with the onion until the meat is mostly browned and cooked through. Add the garlic, bell pepper and the seasonings and continue to saute for another 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer the chili on medium low heat until the flavors combine and the soup is nice and hot. If the chili is too thick, add more tomatoes or broth. If the soup needs more substance, add more beans. As the soup simmers it will continue to thicken, and will be extra thick the following day. Loosen up the chili with extra water, broth or tomatoes to your desired liking.
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Green Pizzas, Green Cookies & Green FUN