Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sticks:

I feel like chocolate chip cookies are just a classic.
One of those ultimate comfort foods.

Well, since I have been married, I have made chocolate chips cookies....................
ZERO times. 

Which is crazy, because my family typically has chocolate chip cookies on hand at all times!

And I LOVE them!!!

Chocolate honestly does not always tempt me....but put it in a cookie and I am SOLD!!!!!

And to thoroughly get every bit of enjoyment that you can out of a cookie, it must be dipped in milk. 
I think that's an unwritten law.
At least, I thought it was, until I met Bradley.
And one day, I was hit with a very hard blow.
I learned that there are lots of people out there, who DO NOT dip their cookies in milk.
Like, almost never! 


They are seriously missing out, that's all I can say. 

And I don't even like milk!!!!!
(unless it's chocolate, that is!)

Anyways, these cookie sticks are just perfect on so many levels:

1. They are soft and fluffy on the inside.
2. They are slightly crisp around the edges.
3. They have the perfect amount of chocolate chips
4. They are the PERFECT size for dunking in milk!!!!!!!!!!!
5. They are the perfect texture for dunking in milk!!!!!!!!!!!!

Only 4 ingredients, less than 30 minutes, what do you have to loose!
I hope you try them out, and love them as much as we do!!!!

1 pkg. Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a small bowl, and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and butter until well combined.
Add cake mix (just the dry ingredients), and mix well.
Stir in chocolate chips.

Generously coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Pour the batter into the pan, and press out evenly (honestly, it's easier to use your hands here).

Bake at 350 degrees F, for 20-23 minutes, or until lightly golden brown, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (don't over-bake).
Cover dish with a clean dish towel, and cool completely.
Cut into sticks and serve!!

-You can use a regular cake mix, if you don't want these to be gluten-free.
-Use any kind of cake and chips you want...I can't wait to try it with peanut butter chips and a chocolate cake mix!!!
-Here are my favorite gluten-free cake mixes

Monday, February 20, 2017

Easy Baked Chicken Fajitas

Last year sometime, was the first time I tried any type of Fajitas before. I have no clue why it took me so long to try them, but after one bite I was absolutely hooked! 
I loved it!!

Now, it's pretty exciting when you order them in a Restaurant and they come out in flames and all sizzling like crazy!!! But if you're willing to forgo that little element, then you can easily enjoy these fajitas at home, any time you want! 
It's so easy to make, and relatively in-expensive as well! 
Serve them on tortillas, over rice, with tortillas chips - however you choose! 
We like to top ours with salsa and sour cream, and guacamole would also be great! 
I love to make them in my big cast iron skillet, but any oven safe dish will work just fine! 
I hope you try them out!! 

Fajita Seasoning (GF):
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 large chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 large tomato, cut into large chunks
2/3 cup sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 & 1/2 cups finely shredded cheese
White Corn Tortillas
Toppings of your choice

In a small container, combine all the ingredients in the Fajita seasoning list. Mix well; set aside.

Placed the chicken peppers, onions, tomato, and mushrooms in a large cast-iron skillet or any oven-safe baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of the seasoning mix over the top (reserve the rest for next time). Using tongs, toss chicken lightly to mix. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. 
Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Very lightly brush or spritz 5 white corn tortillas with water. Stack them all together and wrap gently in foil. Make as many "batches" or "packets" as you desire. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes to heat through.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Power of Valentines Day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!!!

I love Valentine's Day, and Bradley and I are loving celebrating our first Valentines Day together! We were dating last Valentine's Day, but we didn't get to be together until the weekend after. So this is another new experience for us!

February 2016

Valentine's Day seems to be a holiday that people either have a love or a hate relationship with. And I think that is so sad. Where did the myth come from, that says you aren't allowed to celebrate Valentine's Day unless you're married, or have a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Or, the one that says it's foolish to set aside one day of the year to actually show someone that you love them, because they should be showing that all year? 

This year, Valentine's Day is a little different for me. 
I am thrilled to be celebrating my first Valentine's Day as Bradley's wife, and all the sweet, mushy, romantic things that go a long with that!

Bradley gave me these beautiful earrings this morning! He's so sweet!

But growing up, that's never what Valentine's Day was all about. My family always celebrated it every year, and it was always very special. We always had a special dinner and dessert. We might rent a fun movie that we had been wanting to see, or something like that. 

However, the highlight was always my dad. 

Somewhere along the way, Valentine's Day became my dad's holiday. And by "my dad's holiday" I mean he took care of that day. It was like my mom took care of birthdays, and my dad took care of Valentine's Day! 

He always got each of us a very special card, and some little treat.

That might not seem like much to some people, but to us, it meant the world! My dad is not a talker, he doesn't say a lot. But the cards he picked out, were like they were made specifically for each one of us. The style, or the picture, or what was written inside. It truly means more than I'm sure he'll ever know! 

And you definitely knew that there were cards that jumped out at him like "oh that is so Kaitlyn" or something, because there have been a few times, that the same person, has gotten the same card, a few years in a row!!!!

The treats were super cute too...one year, it was dozens of these awesome gel pens (seriously, we all loved them!), another year it was a ginormous bag of blow-pop suckers, once it was lots and lots of all kinds of candy bars. One year, he ordered pizza, one year it was PEZ candy and dispensers, several times it was Ty beany stuffed animals. All kinds of different things!

It was never huge and elaborate, but always something special, and something that we just never really did or got that often. 

And mainly, we loved it, because it was from him. He had thought it out, he had purchased everything, he had done it all. And he wanted to. And you know what? He still does it. 

I'm "out of my comfort zone" so to speak, on this Valentine's Day, in that I have never been away from my family during this holiday. But you know what?

I opened up my mailbox today, and my eyes instantly started watering, and years of Valentine memories automatically started racing through my mind. 

Because, even though I'm miles and miles away from my dad, still he took the time, and he bought me a card. And when I opened my mail box and saw that card laying there, it was just a huge yet simple reminder of what I already knew...that my dad loves me. Always has, always will. 

He could have done absolutely nothing at all, and I would still know that he loved me. But something so simple, yet so powerful...a card. The incredible saying on the inside. A signature. A stamp on the envelope. 
It's like one day a year, that love's fireworks have a grand finale. Fireworks are constantly going off all day, every day, because there are so many people that love you, and I think sometimes we get used to them. But on Valentine's Day, when someone is purposefully, specifically thinking of you, and they let you know in whatever way they can, that they truly love you...
Image result for heart fireworks
Image result for heart fireworks

...and BOOM! You're heart is touched, your love gets a little kick-start again, and you're refreshed! 

I think that's why I love Valentine's Day so much. I'm more like my dad, and I am not super good at communicating my feelings for someone to that person. I am learning, and I am trying, but I am also learning that it's sometimes the simple things that can say 1,000 words. 

That's what my dad's cards have said to me. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of words that he has not verbally said to me, but he has said them over and over and over again to my heart. 

It's with the simple things he says all the time, jokes he makes, all the times he has poked my ribs or squeezed my knee (if he picks on you, then he likes you!), all the hard work he has done for my family, all the things he has sacrificed for his kids, things he has come and done at our house now, and a million other things. 
All emphasized and brought into light just one more time, every year on Valentine's Day, when he gives a special card. 

Valentine's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, and a time of year that I just always look forward to. I love everything about it...the colors, the decorations, the atmosphere, waiting to get my card from dad (I still have every, single card he has ever given me, by they way), just everything! 

But I wonder if my dad has the best Valentine's Day of all. Not because of what people do for him, because no one has ever or could ever do enough. 
But because of the simple, powerful things he does for others. 

And I wonder if that's why some people hate Valentine's Day so much. 
Some say that it's "singles awareness day" and just emphasizes to everyone that they are still single, or single again, or whatever. But is it really that, or is it that no one is bringing you flowers, or bought you a candy bar or wrote you a love note? Or maybe you did get something, but it was only from a friend, or your parents, or a sibling. Not a significant other like the world seems to portray as the only way to have access to celebrate Valentine's day. 

I agree that it's wonderful to have those things, including the "significant other."

But I'm here to tell you that even without those things, Valentine's Day can be one of the best days of the year!
And I also know that it's just a boost of confidence and re-assurance of love, when someone who is special to you, takes one day out of the year, and lets you know how special you are to them. 

So this Valentine's Day, instead of thinking about what someone is not doing for you, and how you are so sad and depressed because you're all alone this year, lets take our eyes off of ourselves and look for something we can do for someone else

It might be a friend, a parent, a sibling, a neighbor, a co-worker, a relative, a stranger. 

It might be a bouquet of flowers, it might be a small present, it might be a dinner out, it might be a box of chocolates, it might be letting someone in front of you in line at the grocery store, it might be cooking your family their favorite dinner or making a special dessert, it might be doing your brother's chores, or it might be a card, a simple note.

Whatever you do, done with the right attitude, I know it will mean a lot to the recipient. And I also have a feeling, that it might mean as much to you to!

Should you only do this on Valentine's Day once a year? No, you should say it and show it especially on Valentine's Day, and prove it all year long. 
Not "how much" you love them, because I'm convinced that is one thing that is impossible! But just that you care. And you want them to know.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:19 that "We love him, because he first loved us." 

If Jesus waited around on us to show Him we loved Him, He would still be waiting. But He made the first move. The ultimate move. He gave His life to show us how much He loved us. 
I doubt that you will have to give your life, in order to show someone how much you love them, but don't wait around for a boyfriend or a girlfriend or even a spouse to show love to you. Today, where ever you are, and whatever your relationship status may or may not be, YOU can show someone that you care!

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day this year! Now go let someone know that you love them, because Jesus sure does love you!!! 
You never know what an impact you could have on some one's life, by doing something simple!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Taco Pizza

If you followed my other blog, then you know I have a ginormous love for taco anything! I just love them! Plus, I love just about any kind of pizza just about as much as tacos! 
I had, however, never had a Taco Pizza before. So I was pretty excited to try this one. 
And it is soooooo good!! 
Bradley and I both absolutely LOVED it!!!!!!! 
Again, I have never had a taco pizza before, so I have nothing to compare this to. It's different and filling and scrumptious and just so good!!!! 
Mmmmm!!! I think I'm gonna have to add this to next week's menu again!
I hope you try it out! 
Let me know if you enjoy it!!!

Pizza Crust:
1 & 1/2 cups Gluten-Free Flour mixture
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar

1 egg
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients; set aside. In a large glass or bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Allow to grow. In a large bowl, beat egg and oil. Add yeast mixture. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth (this is a batter, not a dough!!). Pour onto greased pizza pan. Allow to rise for 5 minutes. Spread batter evenly over entire pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. 

1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 package taco seasoning
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
1/2 cup salsa
3/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup diced onions
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup finely diced tomato
1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup sour cream

If your chicken is cold, heat it in the microwave or a skillet until its hot. Add the taco seasoning, and just keep mixing until all the taco seasoning is stuck to the chicken; set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the refried beans and the salsa. Spread evenly over the baked pizza crust.
Sprinkle the chicken evenly over the bean mixture. Top with the black olives, onions and cheese.
Bake at 425 degrees F for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until hot through and cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, gently mix tomato, lettuce and sour cream together. Once you remove the pizza from the oven, top with lettuce mixture.
Slice, Serve, and Enjoy!!!

Monday, February 6, 2017

{Cinnamon-Sugar White Chocolate Pretzels}

I am a huge lover of all things finger-food and snacky (is that a word?)!
I totally order my entree from the appetizer menu more times than not! I love making snacks and having snacks and eating snacks....and just all things snacks!!!
So I was really excited to try these out. I'm not normally a fan of white chocolate, but I love pretzels and I love cinnamon/sugar toast. So I thought hey, why not give it a try!
And I'm so glad I did!
Bradley and I seriously could have eaten the entire batch by our selves in one night!
They are so yummy!!
I used a mixture of pretzels sticks and twists, which I loved the look of, and they tasted super yummy, but the white chocolate didn't stick to the sticks very well. It kind fell off over time. So the twists are definitely better!
Perfect for any holiday, any season, any reason!! Hope you enjoy it!!

1 (16-18 oz.) bag pretzels (approximately 2.5 quarts)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup cinnamon/sugar mixture for sprinkling
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening

Place pretzels in a microwave safe dish. 
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, 1/3 cup sugar, and cinnamon. 
Pour over pretzels and gently mix until evenly coated.
Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, and heat for 45 seconds more.
Spread the pretzels out evenly over two large sheets of parchment or wax paper.
Immediately sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Let cool.
Combine chocolate chips and shortening in a small saucepan. 
Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.
You can drizzle the chocolate with a fork, if you like, but I prefer to use a bag, to get a more even drizzle. I place a zip-lock bag in a cup, with the edges of the bag folded over the cup. Pour the chocolate into the bag, and gently squish it all into one bottom corner. Gently twist the top of the bag a few times, to keep the chocolate from squeezing out. Snip a very small piece off the corner of the bag, and drizzle the chocolate all over the pretzels.
Let stand until completely cool and chocolate is set.
Store in an airtight container.

-You can buy a bottle of cinnamon sugar, or you can simply make your own by combining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.