jack-o-lantern stuffed peppers

Isn’t Halloween one of the best parts of being a kid? It’s like that old Seinfeld bit, “What is this? What did you say? What did you say about giving out candy? Who’s giving out candy? Everyone that we know is just giving out candy?!”

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Going trick-or-treating as a kid was one of my favorite times of the year. My mom would help me and my sisters touch up our costumes after wearing them at school all day, and when the sun started to go down, we’d pile into our neighbor Eric’s mom’s van and go through our neighborhoods in search of glorious, free candy! Armed with plastic pumpkin buckets and green glow sticks around our necks, we’d get out of the van every so often and get candy from a few streets worth of houses before getting back in and repeating it down the next few streets. You dress up, and people give you free candy. What a time to be alive!

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creepy chocolate spiderweb treats!

Oh, glorious Halloween. I have such fond memories of you from when I was a kid!

When I was in elementary school, everyone would dress up. Probably even the bus drivers, if memory serves me right. As if trick-or-treating candy wasn’t enough, we’d also get treat bags at school. I know there must have been candy in them, but I can only vaguely remember Saf-T Pops, info on trick-or-treating safety, and (for some reason) packets of chocolate Malt-O-Meal cereal that kids would just eat plain from the packet. Gross. I guess it was meant to be breakfast for the day after Halloween, so we could get a somewhat nourishing meal after gorging ourselves on candy the night before.

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carrot cake scones

Once the first day of fall arrives, we’re finally allowed to celebrate all things pumpkin without risking a punch in the mouth. We’ll get our fill of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, and of course the ever-present pumpkin spice latte. With all this pumpkin overload, there’s another autumn-appropriate flavor that always gets upstaged by pumpkin, and that’s the humble carrot cake.

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golden grahams s’mores bars!

I love s’mores. Man oh man, do I love s’mores. Graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows! Mmmm.

Growing up, I never went camping (sad!), so I’ve never known the joys of making s’mores over a fire in the middle of nowhere. At our house when I was a kid, we had to make due with a lit burner of the gas stove, or make cheater’s s’mores in the microwave. They were still good, and they’re still one of my favorite messy treats for when the weather cools down.

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peach pie ice cream

Well, it’s September now.

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Summer as we know it is officially over and everyone’s back to school and back to work. If Pinterest is any indication, one would think that Fall has already begun. Pumpkin fudge! Pumpkin brownies! Drill holes in a pumpkin to make it look like a lantern! And let’s not forget, the sacred and holy pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. God help us, it’s already in stores!

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creamy mushroom soup

For a few years now, I’ve been a big fan of the blog Smitten Kitchen. Deb’s photos and food are absolutely stunning, and her posts are really engaging. What’s not to love?

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She originally posted this recipe for cream of mushroom soup way back in 2007. I’ve had it bookmarked for what seems like ages, and I finally got a chance to make it! I know right now in AZ it’s not exactly soup weather, but depending on where you are in the US, it still feels very much like winter. So, if you’re looking for something to take the chill away, or if you’re just looking for a simple and tasty lunch or dinner idea, you’ve come to the right place!

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meatloaf-lettes!

When I was growing up, I don’t really recall eating a lot of meatloaf. It’s a very basic, homey kind of dish, yet I do not have a lot of memories of my mom cooking it for dinner.

Once I started cooking on my own, it was not a dish I would have chosen if I had my pick. Red meat, while tasty, has never been my go-to entree of choice, primarily because I’d rather have something more healthy and more vegetable-heavy. For better or worse, ground beef is always generally inexpensive and that’s a definite plus when shopping on my limited budget. Save for the rest of the ingredients, which are generally pantry staples, one meatloaf runs a little over 4 bucks and can serve almost as many people. It’s great because you can still turn out an easy, delicious meal when hard times are upon you. I’m glad I decided to embrace the humble dish that is meatloaf. Now, it’s one of my bi-weekly staples for dinner, and I just love it. Try this version and I dare you to tell me that you don’t also love it!

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super creamy mashed potatoes

I know this is the second post on potatoes in about as many days, but can you blame me? Potatoes are just so damned tasty. Mashed potatoes are one of those foods that I could just eat for the entire meal. It wouldn’t be balanced, for sure, but it would be a meal! They’re the best kind of comfort food. Warm, filling, with a hit of butter for good measure. I always used to make my mashed potatoes with the standard butter and milk, but then I started replacing half the milk with sour cream. They was good, but not great. It was when I used all sour cream and no milk, that I was finally satisfied with my mashed potatoes. These are creamy and slightly tangy, rich but not overwhelmingly so. Perfect with any meal, or as a meal in themselves if you’re so inclined. Don’t worry, I won’t tell.

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rosemary roasted baby potatoes

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If I had to say which side dish I cook the most, it would definitely be potatoes. They’re cheap, taste great, are quick to cook, and don’t require a lot of fancy ingredients to make them taste fantastic — salt and pepper is generally all they really need, and maybe a bit of butter if you feel like gilding the lily.

Both food snobs and picky eaters alike can find something to love in potatoes. One such satisfying dish is these simple roasted baby potatoes. They’ve got the necessary salt and pepper, as well as some fresh rosemary and garlic to punch them up a bit. Since the little potatoes are left whole, the outside takes on a slightly crispy texture, absorbing all the herbs and all that tasty fresh garlic. The insides stay perfectly creamy and soft, with nothing but earthy potato flavor.

These little taters are very simple to prepare and will do just fine left to their own devices in a hot oven while you prepare the rest of dinner on the stove. They are excellent with roast chicken, and would be equally welcome with a good steak and a simple salad. My favorite accompaniment for these guys? Just a bowl and a fork, thank-you-very-much.

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