Peach Walnut Salad

I love salad. It’s seriously one of the best foods in the world. My mom and I always bug the living daylights out of my dad because on a nice summer day, we’re content to just eat salad. No meat, no grilled whatever, just a nice salad. But when the grill is already heated and prepped, why not grill some delicious fruit for a salad? This easy summer salad is a sure-fire stunner with it’s grilled peaches, candied walnuts, and delicious greens and feta.

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Oriental Ramen Slaw

Ramen. It’s delicious. It’s cheap. I practically lived on it in college. Sometimes, I still do. Oddly enough, between all of my baking, it’s still one of my favorite comfort foods. But sometimes warm noodles get boring… but there’s another way to eat ramen that is way more exciting! Hello, Oriental Ramen Slaw. (more…)

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Bake

If y’all have been around the blog a day or two, you know I love the chicken, bacon, and ranch combo. They’re flavors that were just made for each other! So, when it came time to make dinner the other night and I had no idea what to make, I needed to see what I had in my pantry and fridge. I came up with a few items that made a big impact, and it all started with the chicken, bacon, and ranch I had on hand.

Start with what’s pictured above. A lot of the ingredients are delicious, common, and you may even have them on hand.

Cook your pasta– I always do about half a cup for each family member, plus an extra half cup (so we have leftovers). While it’s cooking, dice your chicken and begin cooking it in a skillet. Again, I do one chicken tender piece (smaller than a breast) per family member, plus one extra.

Once the chicken is cooked, place it in a bowl and set it aside, then put your peppers and onions in the skillet. The bell peppers can be whatever you have on hand or on sale. I happened to have already cut 4 different colors of bell peppers for pizza night the night before and had leftovers.

Saute the peppers in a little bit of olive oil until the peppers and onions are tender and the onions are translucent. Remove them from the skillet and set aside.

Add a little bit of butter to the skillet and saute your mushrooms. I like to use sliced baby bellas, but you can use any kind of mushroom you prefer. You’ll want them tender and cooked.

Now, you’ll make your sauce. Take your alfredo sauce (it’s a 15 oz container of Bertolli) and one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix, and pour the ranch into the alfredo sauce. I give it a quick stir with a knife before I put the lid back on and shake-shake-shake until it’s well mixed.

In a casserole dish, combine your bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, pasta, chicken, and the package of bacon pieces, stirring in the alfredo ranch sauce.

Add mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs on top, then bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes to get the cheese melted and the top crispy. It’s all fully cooked beforehand, so the bake is just to help those flavors meld together a bit more.

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s less recipe, more idea… you can make just enough servings for one person (half a cup of pasta, a chicken tenderloin, a small handful of veggies, baked in the dish), or you can double or triple it for a family. I use a full jar of sauce to make dinner for 6 in a 9×13 pan, but you can use more sauce or less sauce to taste. It would be very easy for me to say “This is how you make it,” but this recipe is so flexible that giving a recipe does it a disservice. Follow the steps, eyeball the ingredients, and I promise, it’ll be perfect every time.

My favorite way to serve it is with homemade garlic knots. And the best part? You can serve it with homemade garlic knots, too! I’ll be sharing the recipe later today on Facebook, so be sure to go over and like me on facebook so you can see the recipe!

 

Do you love the chicken, bacon, ranch combo? You’ll love my chicken bacon ranch foil packets!

What’s your favorite flavor combo for dinner?

 

Handling and Explaining Global Tragedies to Your Kids

It’s all over the news. Yesterday, a commercial flight was shot down over a very volatile zone. The thing that is traumatizing and scary about this is that a normal activity– flying on an airplane–is once again linked with tragedy. While of course, there’s danger in flying over a zone that’s essentially at war, it’s a flight path that a lot of planes were taking. This event just happened to be an anomaly, and it isn’t the first major tragedy kids have heard about on the news.

Think back to recent months. You’ll remember another airline tragedy, also featuring Malaysia Air, where a plane disappeared. At a seemingly normal sleepover, two pre-teens felt compelled to stab their friend multiple times while playing hide-and-seek, then blaming it on a work of internet folklore. A man drove around a town and shot people because he was tired of being rejected by girls. A guy killed people outside of a Jewish center because of his hatred for the Jewish people (when those he killed were not even Jewish, not that it makes what he did any worse). It’s very easy for kids to hear what’s going on in the media and begin to feel unsafe on airplanes, in sleepovers, at the movies, at school, or even just walking through their hometown. While you want your children to be informed and prepared for dangerous situations– like stranger danger or a school shooting– you also don’t want them to feel so anxious and afraid that they can’t function.

But there are some ways to explain and handle these tragedies with your children so they can feel better about these horrifying acts.

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Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Parenting a 3 Year Old

My sweet son turned 3 on Saturday. It’s been one heck of a ride, this past 3 years. A lot has changed, he’s grown, he’s developed such a silly personality, but a lot has stayed the same.

In the era of the Pinterest Supermoms, where every small celebration from a first tooth being lost to the first flush on the big boy potty becomes a celebration worthy of a giant theme party complete with theme food and drinks and decorations and more, I knew that his third birthday would be a big deal. I even tentatively put a post on my long-term blog idea list to tell you all about the thrilling birthday and exactly how to copy it, complete with drool-worthy photos you’d be anxious to share on Pinterest.

And then my 3 year old hit me with a doozy.

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Reese’s Addict Brookie Ice Cream Sandwiches (And Bonus Whoopie Pies, too!)

So up until recently, I hated the name Brookie. I mean, it sounds like some overly-likable cookie you went to high school with (if, you know, it was the food world and everything). The popular cookie who was good at literally everything– good at being a brownie, good at being a cookie, just fit in with everyone because, yeah, why not? I’d always been partial to terms like “Layered brownie” or “Brownie cookie” or other terms that are kind of a mouthful.

But then I found some mixes and made these ice cream cookie sandwiches. And they live up to the name, because they really are good at everything… they’re good at being brownie, being cookie, being peanut butter chocolate goodness, and they’re just perfect at being an ice cream sandwich. Because what person doesn’t love an ice cream sandwich chock full with peanut butter cups? (I mean aside from the people with devastating nut allergies, of course!)

If you don’t have a nut allergy, though, these. These are the cookies you need to try. Because they’re really delicious. Reeses+Brownie+Cookie+Ice Cream Sandwich=the Best Darn Brookie Ever, and yes, it deserves to be called a brookie.

Oh, and if you’re horribly weird and don’t like ice cream (love you, mom!), stick around, because there’s another brookie sandwich with NO ice cream in it in this post, too.

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DIY Chalk-Rubbed Sand Art

“I’m bored.” It’s July, so surely you’ve heard this at least a million times, because it seems to be a pretty universal phrase in the summertime.

We’ve had a nightmare of a summer week here; it’s been the hottest week of summer so far, and our city’s aquatic center has been closed due to a broken pump. Repairs have dragged on, and while it’s set to open today, it didn’t spare us all of the boredom of not getting to go to the pool. Because really, if I have to watch Frozen one more time instead of splashing in the water, I’m going to lose my mind. Olaf’s Summer song is so not as fun when it’s that hot in reality!

Luckily, I had the perfect craft to keep Zach entertained for awhile… DIY Sand Art that took white sand and turned it all kinds of pretty colors with one simple outdoor craft item– Chalk! The best part is the craft is so affordable if you have chalk and glue on hand already (and even if you don’t, it’s still pretty darn cheap!), and it’s so much fun.

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