Countdown to 2017: Best Dessert


You can never go wrong with dessert. At least, that's what I like to tell myself. Today I'm linking up with other bloggers to share the best dessert recipes from 2016 with you.

Sarah over at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes is the brains behind all of this!

These adorable hand pies are super easy to make with just a few ingredients and a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Or, use any cookie cutter shape that you'd like, but don't forget Valentine's day is only a little over 50 days away!

Oh.My.Chocolately.Goodness. If you like smores, you're going to love these cookies! You can cheat and purchase store-bought cookies like I did and then just slather them with chocolate frosting and a dollop of marshmallow fluff, then roll them in crushed graham crackers. I took these to my friends party and once the kids found them, they legit disappeared in the blink of an eye.

I can't even blame you for loving these brownies. Hot fudge always makes me feel like I'm eating something a little bit naughty, but combining it with the decadence of cheesecake and then piling all that goodness on top of a rich brownie? It's chocolate cheesecake overload in the best way possible. If you can manage to freeze some of these, I can also tell you that when you cave and eat one half-thawed, it's still as delicious as the first go-round.

To be honest, I'm surprised I didn't have more dessert recipes to share with you. Maybe you're all actually doing that thing where you eat pretty healthy. I should probably try that again since I have a cruise in 70+ days!

Countdown to 2017: Best Main Dishes


I'm continuing the countdown to 2017 with Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. Today's countdown is for the best main dishes.

If there is anything I feel like I overshare on this blog it is main dish recipes. But, nearly everyone eats dinner right? And you likely have a main dish for dinner, so at least it makes sense.

I intended to choose the best recipe from each of the main dish categories on my blog, but unfortunately, there were a few where I didn't share a recipe in it all year! That will definitely be remedied for 2017!

Good to know you all aren't scared away by incredibly long recipe names. I mean, good grief, I'm not sure I could make a longer recipe name! But at least you know exactly what you're getting into with this recipe, right? Just reading the title leaves my mouth watering for that amazing Honey Whiskey BBQ Sauce again. After making the sauce, the slow cooker does the rest of the work for you, so I highly recommend getting this recipe on your to-make list right away!

Do you buy sauerkraut in the can or in the package? And have you ever managed to use it all up at once? I never have, which is why I was so glad to find this recipe. Now every time we have a dish using sauerkraut and I have some leftover, I add this recipe to the list and we use it all up! These meatballs eat like a meal on their own with the addition of rice and the sauerkraut mixed into the sauce gives the right amount of acidity to get through the fatty meatball. But if that's not enough for you, these are also great served with mashed potatoes!

As someone who feels like I'm serving pork tenderloin the same way over and over again, finding this recipe was amazing. Battered and fried, it completely changes up your typical baked, roasted or pan seared pork. And topping it with a relish including corn, bell pepper and cream cheese? Sold! 

If you roast the spaghetti squash in advance, this meal comes together in no time at all. I love that with just a few ingredients you can get such a flavorful and healthy dish. The added seasonings to the chicken sausage definitely help this recipe out, so be prepared to add spices if you choose a sweet or mild chicken sausage instead.

I love burgers. I love salad. I'm incredibly disappointed with myself that I never thought to combine the two before! Using traditional burger condiments to create a salad dressing really makes it feel like you're not eating a salad instead of a burger as punishment. You can't even tell this is a healthier choice!

Finding a good chili recipe is a hard thing to do. Over the years I've found that I prefer a turkey based chili to a beef one and that you can absolutely never go wrong with spice. This chili has chipotle chilies for heat.  

Countdown to 2017: Best Appetizers and Snacks


Hi strangers. It's been a while since I've last posted. Sorry about that!

Sarah, of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, hosts an event the last week of every year to highlight the recipes made during that year. I've had plans to participate in this for some time now but never managed to get the posts scheduled in time to share. Not this year!

We're starting off the week with the best appetizers and snacks, which are right up my alley. I could host appetizer parties once a month and be the happiest person ever. When going back through my recipes for this year I was surprised to find that I didn't share as many of them with you as I thought I did.

Nevertheless, here's a combination of my favorites and your favorites (based on pins and page views)!

Funnily enough, we're having these meatballs on Wednesday. I love changing up the traditional ground beef style meatball and using another choice like chicken. These meatballs are light and pack a real punch of heat, hence the "firecracker" in the name.

I love that you all love these as much as I do! I just served these again on Christmas. The longest part about making this recipe is waiting for the cream cheese to soften up, and that's if you don't cheat and warm it up in the microwave like I usually do! Easy to make, healthy, and they're even red and green if you're serving them around the holidays!

Guacamole on it's own is delicious, but why not add in some sweet summer corn and salty bacon to make it even better? Creating this recipe for a blogging event is one of the best things I did this past summer. 

I figured these would be a huge hit. How can you go wrong with pizza flavoring topped into individual meatloaves cooked in a muffin pan? Maybe a little large for an appetizer, but a great option to have a party where you have some hungry guests. These can easily be adapted to your specific tastes.

I hope you enjoyed looking back on these best appetizers and snacks from 2016! 

#ImprovCookingChallenge: Hot Toddy


The middle of December already. Where in the world has this year gone? The last two months have flown by in a complete haze, which explains why I've barely shared any holiday recipes with you this month. I'm going to try to get caught up for next week.

The ingredients for the final month of 2016's Improv Cooking Challenge were cinnamon and honey. I thought about making a cake or cupcakes or even cinnamon rolls because my coworkers go insane for them, but my creative side was hiding and nothing was standing out to me.

Then someone mentioned drinking a hot toddy and I knew that's exactly what I needed to make for this challenge. I don't know about you, but nearly every single person I know is sick. My office is covered in a haze of Lysol. I've went through an incredible amount of hand sanitizer and I've been pre-preemptively taking tons of vitamin C and cold medicine to fight anything off.

For years; 22 of them to be exact, I would get strep throat. Once a year, in March, every single year from age 2 to 24. Like clockwork, I would go from feeling perfectly fine to feeling like I was swallowing razor blades with tonsils so swollen I scared a few doctors. You'd think with that kind of track record, I'd get used to it, but if you have ever had strep throat, you know there is no getting used to it. You simply endure and count down the minutes until the antibiotics kick in.

I think I was 23 when I had strep throat and all of my friends were going out to the bar. I was past the contagious stage but not to the point where I wasn't in pain. Tired of staring at the four walls of my room, I went out. One of the bartenders heard how sick I was and made a hot toddy for me. Until then I'd never heard of it before. She didn't have cinnamon or cloves and somehow managed to scrounge up some honey in a dive bar to make me the drink. I still remember taking the first sip and feeling the instant relief on my throat.

Hot Toddy
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 2
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    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tsp honey
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3-5 whole cloves
    • 2 lemon slices
    • 2 tsp honey bourbon

1. Add the water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, honey, cinnamon stick and cloves. Cover the pot and let steep for 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and cloves.
3. Add a teaspoon of honey bourbon and a lemon slice to each mug. Pour the steeped liquid on top.
4. Adjust to taste with honey bourbon and/or honey.
5. Drink warm.

While this is meant to soothe a sore throat, it's also a great drink to take the chill off on those icy winter nights. Next time you're feeling under the weather, whip one of these up and see how you feel after. 😊

#Foodie Extravaganza: Maple Pecan Bars


It's time for the Foodie Extravaganza again AND I actually remembered to submit my recipe this time! I made a recipe for last month and then completely forgot that I was supposed to submit it prior to the event. Oops!

The theme for December is maple and the 17th is National Maple Syrup day. The event is being hosted by Lauren of Sew You Think You Can Cook.

I actually intended to go savory for this month since I had made maple bacon dijon green beans for Thanksgiving which were out of this world amazing but I forgot to pick up bacon at the store and needed a back up plan. Well, recently I cleaned out my baking pantry (yes, I have a separate pantry dedicated to baking goods)  and I found that I have been hoarding pecans. In November and December Aldi offers 6 oz. packages of pecans for like $3.99. How can one not simply buy them in bulk?

Maple Pecan Bars
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 16 bars
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    • for the crust:
    • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • ¾ cup powdered sugar
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • for the topping:
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 cup pecans
    • pinch of kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter with the powdered sugar and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and salt and mix until combined.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add slowly add in the flour until combined. Transfer to a piece of wax paper, wrap up and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
4. Combine the egg, brown sugar, maple syrup, pecans and salt together in a bowl. Stir until combined.
5. Press the dough into the pan, using your fingers to even out and press to the edges. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
6. Pour the pecan filling on top and spread it to the edges to completely cover the crust. Return to the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just set.
7. Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator for 2 hours before slicing into 16 bars.

These smell amazing while they are cooking. Your whole kitchen and possibly your whole house will fill up with the smell of warm brown sugar, sweet maple syrup and pecans. You can choose to skip the refrigeration period, but the bars need to cool completely to room temperature before attempting to slice them. I found spraying a knife with cooking spray before making the cuts made it easier. 

Foodie Extravaganza

If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board!

Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Christmas Menu 2016


Christmas is less than three weeks away! Are you ready?

Surprisingly, I've found myself pretty ready for this Christmas (except for a lack of recipes to share with you) and that's probably because I managed to get my menu planned really early and my family really isn't celebrating with gifts this year.

My mom, her fiance, my cousin and my aunt; which are the main people I buy gifts for because we spend the holiday together, are all going on a cruise this March. Over the summer I mentioned that maybe instead of celebrating with gifts this year, we could do a small limit and instead use the rest of the money toward purchasing excursions for the cruise. Everyone agreed and we've set a $10 limit.

All but one gift was purchased prior to November so there wasn't much to do there. Tom and I decided to finally scale back on Christmas for ourselves as well. The dining room table was my gift and we replaced the tv in the living room, which was his. We'll get one thing each for the cats and his family, plus my friends kids that I buy for all want gift cards. Super easy!

So needless to say, I'm not at all stressed about this holiday. Actually, that's not true, I did stress a little bit over creating the menu because I simply couldn't decide between having a ham or doing a roast. But then everyone raved about the cranberry sauce and I thought it would be perfect to put over a ham and that decision was made for me.

There will be seven of us in attendance which means we can all fit at my dining room table! I'm so excited for that. Part of me wants to create an elaborate multi-course Christmas dinner, simply because there is a seat for everyone, but I think I'll stick with my current menu. 😉

Christmas Menu 2016

I'm entirely leaving this up to my aunt - I know she'll make a cheese ball but I'm not sure what else

Main and Sides:
cranberry ham 
bacon corn casserole
garlic mashed potatoes
butternut squash quinoa salad
maple bacon dijon green beans 

snickerdoodle cookie cake
candy cane brownie trifle
cheesecake - mom 

cranberry mules

I'm not sure yet if we're going to celebrate Christmas on Sunday or if Saturday is easier. It will depend on everyone else's schedule. I don't mind either way because I have off on Friday and Monday. 

#FilltheCookieJar: Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Cookies


December first! There are only 24 more days until Christmas and I'm just sharing my first holiday recipe with you!

As usual, I am so behind but it's not like that is much of a surprise considering I seem to say that every.single.year. At least I'm consistently behind on sharing holiday recipes, right? Anyway, it coincided perfectly that theme for Fill the Cookie Jar this month was Christmas/Holiday cookies.

Fill the Cookie Jar is hosted by Cynthia of Feeding Big and it's a monthly blogging event where home bakers get together and share their favorite cookie recipes based on an assigned theme.

Peppermint is one of the few ingredients I love that Tom doesn't like at all. Which means anytime I make something with peppermint it's ALL MINE! Unless I decide to share it with my coworkers (which always happens) who love peppermint as much as I do. It should be no surprise that I chose to start off my holiday baking with a peppermint recipe.

Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Cookies
Inspired by: Yellow Bliss Road
Servings: 32 cookies
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    • 15.25 oz box Devil’s Food Cake mix
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 eggs
    • ⅔ cup chocolate chips
    • ½ tsp peppermint extract
    • 4 bars chocolate almond bark or 2/3 cup chocolate chips
    • 3 candy canes, crushed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine cake mix, butter and eggs. Beat on medium speed until combined.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips and peppermint extract until combined.
4. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and place 1-2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until puffy and no longer glossy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. Meanwhile, place the chocolate almond bark or chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until melted and smooth.
7. Dip half of the cookie into the chocolate and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Return to the parchment paper to allow to chocolate to set. Repeat with remaining cookies.
8. Cookies will keep for 1 week in an airtight container. 

I went light on the peppermint extract because it is one of those flavors that can easily overwhelm a dessert, but I think I could have increased this to 3/4 of a teaspoon. The cookies are light and airy and full of chocolate flavor. The peppermint shines through nicely in the cookie and the crushed up candy canes gives a crunch to an otherwise soft cookie. 

I already know these cookies will be devoured! 

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Apple Hash


I know that the last day of each season occurs quarterly, typically on the 21st of a month, but my brain generates its own days for the last day of summer, last day of fall and last day of winter. There are three more weeks until fall ends, but typically this is the time where the weather makes a huge turn for significantly colder temperatures and my brain decides winter has descended upon us. Does your brain do things like that too?

This recipe is perfect for fall which is why I rushed to share it with you before the end of this month. Of course, you could easily eat it throughout the winter seeing as all of the ingredients are readily available, but something about squash and apples together, especially combined with sage is just a October and November dish to me.

I threw these ingredients together when trying to come up with something to eat for lunch during the week. Trying to name it was also difficult since it's just a combination of ingredients tossed together, which I guess is best described as a hash.

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Apple Hash
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 4 servings
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    • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
    • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and largely diced
    • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 2 tbsp fresh sage leaves
    • 2 sweet apples, peeled and diced
    • 1 sweet onion, diced
    • 4 links (1 package) fully-cooked chicken sausage
    • salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread out butternut squash on the sheet and drizzle with 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Roast for 25 minutes, turning over once halfway through or until fork tender.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and cook for 1-2 minutes or until just browned. Transfer from the skillet to a large bowl.
4. Slice the chicken sausage into rounds. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and cook the sausage until browned on both sides, 2-3 minutes. Transfer from the skillet to the bowl.
5. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet. Add apples and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
6. Transfer to the large bowl. Toss in roasted squash and season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Divide between 4 bowls and serve immediately. 

To make this recipe easier, pick up the already peeled and diced butternut squash from the grocery store. The chicken sausage I used was the Al Fresco brand in Sweet Italian. You could also use their apple chicken sausage to really play up the apple flavor in this dish. 

This was so good! I fried the sage leaves in butter first to give them a different flavor which would then carry through the rest of the dish as it was cooked in the same skillet. It brings out a nuttiness to the sage that usually isn't as pronounced.

Spiced Apple Cranberry Sauce


For years I have made my pear honey cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. I chose the recipe because of the addition of pears and honey helped to tame the tartness of the cranberry sauce and my family is not a fan of tart cranberry sauce.

This year I intended to try out something new and found a cinnamon apple recipe for cranberry sauce but as I was chopping up the apple, I looked over the recipe again and thought "I can make that better."

I've always been a fan of bold flavors. If your food doesn't have flavor, what fun is there in eating it? Which is why I tend to push the limits on how much flavoring you can add to a recipe before it becomes too much. Sometimes I end up going overboard and the recipe isn't that great and other times it just packs a huge punch of flavor that turns out wonderfully.

Fall spices like cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom are all strong flavors. They can easily overpower a dish but when you get the right combination, it can really make a dish sing. Most people, reasonable people, would have chosen one or two of those spices and added them to cranberry sauce.

But then there is me. Who decided to add ALL of them. Because, why not?

Spiced Apple Cranberry Sauce
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 2 cups
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    • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
    • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
    • ¾ cup apple cider
    • 1 tbsp bourbon
    • 1 ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp ground ginger
    • 1 ½ tsp cardamom
    • ½ tsp allspice
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • ½ tsp kosher salt


1. In a large saucepan or pot, combine cranberries and apples.
2. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the cranberry apple mixture.
3. Pour the apple cider and bourbon top and then add the brown sugar. Stir until mixed.
4. Heat over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the brown sugar bubbles up. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue stirring as it bubbles and the cranberries and apples break down, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to break down any of the cranberries that haven’t popped. The mixture will be syrupy but will not have thickened up yet.
6. If serving immediately, transfer to a dish and allow to sit for 15 minutes or until thickened.
7. Cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.
8. To serve from frozen, transfer to refrigerator 24 hours in advance, then allow to come to room temperature for 1-2 hours on the counter before serving.

It turned out to be a genius decision. I thought the cranberry sauce was pretty good when I tasted it before packing it away into a container to freeze until the day before Thanksgiving. But the comments I got about the cranberry sauce made me realize it was a new hit and how happy I was that I remembered to loosely measure and write down the ingredients so I could make it again.

I was told more than once that the dish was a winner and that it tasted like "Christmas in my mouth". Now I know cranberry sauce is typically served on Thanksgiving, but that comment got me thinking and then I decided that we're going to have this cranberry sauce again, as a glaze on top of a ham for Christmas because the flavors already fit right on in! 

Turkey Dumpling Soup


I had a grand plan to share two new recipes with you early last week in addition to a new one after Thanksgiving to use up all of those leftovers and none of it ended up happening. I'm not sure what is going on with my head, but I've had on and off migraines for nearly a week straight. Usually I can chalk up a migraine to being dehydrated or stressed, but neither occurred to any degree last week that should have created that kind of issues.

I had so many plans for the weekend; planning, making and blogging a ton of December recipes, sending out Christmas cards, decorating the tree and finally getting back into writing again. None of those happened.

So by now you are more than likely sick of turkey and have either frozen or thrown out any leftovers you may have, but in case you have a little bit more holding out in the fridge, here is one more recipe for you that uses up not only left over turkey, but stuffing, veggies and stock.

Turkey Dumpling Soup
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 6
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    • 3 stalks celery, diced
    • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp fresh sage*
    • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
    • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 6 cups chicken or turkey stock*
    • 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
    • salt and pepper*
    • 2 cups leftover stuffing*
    • optional: 1 egg
    • optional: ⅓ cup flour
1. Add butter and olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the celery, carrots and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
2. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for 3 minutes more.
3. Transfer to a large pot and add stock, turkey, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the dumplings by combining the stuffing with the egg and flour and forming into golf-ball sized balls.
5. Add to the soup and cook for 3-5 minutes, turning dumplings over once.
6. Divide soup into bowls and serve immediately. 

* Notes: 
- Remove fresh herbs from soup before serving. If you do not have fresh herbs, reduce in half (minus bay leaves) and used dried. 
- If your stock is salted, do not add additional salt or pepper before the soup has simmered for 20 minutes and you've tasted it. 
- If your stuffing is very moist, you may not need to add flour or egg. If the stuffing holds into the ball shape on its own, add nothing. If it is too dry, add the egg. Too wet, add the flour. 
- Turkey may also be replaced with cooked chicken breast. 
- Leftover green beans and mushrooms from green bean casserole can also be diced and added to the soup; add in the last 10 minutes of simmering.

Stuffing dumplings are delicious! They were my favorite part of this soup. I let a few cook down into the soup longer until they fell apart. It thickened up the broth and added even more flavor into the soup. I'm actually kind of sad that I didn't have more leftover ingredients to make a bigger portion of this soup.

The Thanksgiving Timeline


I had such high hopes of getting this posted and shared with you on Thanksgiving day, but a migraine the night before and family arriving earlier than anticipated set me back further than I intended.

While this is much too late for any Thanksgiving celebration this year, you could use it as a timeline for Christmas or save it for next year.

Here is everything that went into planning my Thanksgiving meal!

End of October:
Search recipes on Pinterest
Create menu
Create Facebook event to invite family
Ask family what they are bringing

November 5th:
order new dining room chairs
confirm with mom she is bringing two additional folding chairs
November 7th:
put in time off request for the day before Thanksgiving
November 10th:
write out grocery list
November 11th:
order table runner, napkins, charger plates, etc.
purchase ingredients that will keep (soda, craisins, pecans, brown sugar, flour, etc.)
November 12th:
pick up new dining room table
print copies of all recipes
November 18th: 
purchase second round of ingredients that will keep (eggs, milk, olives, mozzarella, celery, onions, bacon, sweet potatoes, bread)
cut bread into pieces, dry out on sheet tray
November 19th:
have carpets steam cleaned
assemble table and chairs
move old table into sun-room
November 20th:
make slab apple pie dough and refrigerate
make apple cinnamon cranberry sauce and freeze
make Bundt pan stuffing and freeze
November 22nd:
review grocery list
transfer cranberry sauce from freezer to fridge
transfer stuffing from freezer to fridge

*** The Day Before ** November 23rd:
5:45 am - wake up, get ready
6:15 am - grocery shop at Wegman's for remaining ingredients; butter, herbs, green beans, apples, etc.
7:30 am - pick up turkey breast from Richardson Farms
7:50 am - return home, put away groceries
8:00 am - proof yeast and warm milk for rosemary dinner rolls, put butter out to soften, start first load of laundry
8: 15 am - realize yeast is not rising, toss out and start over
8:25 am - peel, core and slice apples for slab apple pie, coat with lemon juice to prevent browning
8:40 am - mix up rosemary roll dough, separate into roll sizes, let rest; put laundry in dryer, start second load
9:02 am - roll out dough for slab apple pie, assemble, cut lattice/leaves for top and finish assembly
10:00 am - brush rosemary rolls with butter, put rolls and slab apple pie in the oven
10:05 am - coffee and breakfast, 10 minute break; laundry
10:25 am - remove rolls and let cool, microwave sweet potatoes, cook bacon for topping
10:40 am - chop sage, mix up sweet potato topping
10:45 am - mix up filling for sweet potatoes, put into casserole dish
11:00 am - remove slab apple pie from oven, marinate mozzarella balls and cut up salami for Italian skewers, refrigerate
11:15 am - decide to skip the sausage stuffing balls
11:20 am - trim the ends of the green beans, blanch then put in an ice bath
11:30 am - mix together sauce for green beans, cook bacon for topping
11:45 am - hand husband vegetable peeler and dice up potatoes for mashed potatoes as he peeled them, put in a pot of salted water
12:15 pm - cut up carrots, celery and onion to go under turkey
12:20 pm - chop up herbs to go under turkey skin and mashed with butter
12:30 pm - rub butter and herbs under turkey skin, cover with an oven bag and put in fridge
12:40 pm - cook shallots for green beans, add green beans and sauce and warm up
12:45 pm - load dishwasher
12:50 pm - give squeaking cat attention
1:00 pm - clean guest bathroom
1:15 pm - sweep, mop, wipe down baseboards of sun-room; set table
1:38 pm - sweep and mop foyer, change out Scentsy in all warmers
1:43 pm - dust and polish living room
2:00 pm - put away all laundry, sweep and mop floor of laundry room, straighten up laundry room
2:30 pm - straighten up 2nd bedroom, vacuum living room, dining room and 2nd bedroom
3:00 pm - wipe down kitchen counters and baseboards, empty trash, scrub sink, reorganize fridge for space, sweep and mop floor
3:35 pm - change clothes, make self look presentable
3:45 pm - leave for manicure
4:00 pm - get manicure, drink coffee
5:15 pm - pick up dinner, stop at dollar store for toothpicks
5:30 pm - eat dinner, get hit with black spot-nausea-dizziness-head on fire migraine
7:30 pm - finally manage to stand - put turkey breast and stuffing in oven while wearing sunglasses and eating ginger candies
8:15 pm - remove stuffing
9:30 pm - remove turkey breast, let cool on counter
10:15 pm - transfer turkey to fridge, pass out in bed

November 24th:
6:00 am - wake up stuffy and with headache; take mucinex, migraine pill and drink 3 cups of water, return to bed
7:45 am - wake up panicked because its much later, feed cats
7:50 am - boil potatoes, drain and mashed, transfer to mixing bowl because arm is sore, whip potatoes, season and transfer to slow cooker on "keep warm"
8:35 am - assemble skewers
9:00 am - run dishwasher
9:05 am - move cat food and water into bedroom
9:15 am - set up a desserts table - slicing slab apple pie and placing it on tiered cake stand
9:30 am - put out cans of soda, get down ice bucket and place wine inside
10:00 am - realize sweet potato casserole was never cooked, put topping on it and return to fridge
10:10 am - pull down serving dishes, arrange over island, turn on Scentsy, light candles, scoop out litter boxes
11:40 am - figure out what to wear
11:50 am - shower and get ready for guests
12:10 pm - remember I never made gravy, frantically pull out ingredients and get it started
12:15 pm - aunt and cousin arrive, pull out green beans, stuffing and sweet potato casserole to let come to room temperature
12:30 pm - more family arrives
12:40 pm - more family arrives
12:45 pm - put out skewers and the deviled eggs my aunt brought, keep moving things around on the counter
12:55 pm - last of family arrives
1:00 pm - put sweet potato casserole and my stuffing and aunts stuffing into oven
1:30 pm - remove stuffing, add green beans and mac and cheese
1:40 pm - start assigning serving spoons and forks to dishes
1:50 pm - remove everything from the oven, put the sliced turkey in
2:10 pm - everything is on the counter, announce it's time to get food
2:35 pm - everyone is seated and eating

Everything was delicious! The new cranberry sauce I made, the sweet potatoes and the green beans were hits of the day and I decided they are going to become the new standards for each holiday. My aunts cornbread and my cousins cucumber and onion salad were two of my other favorite dishes. Everyone was commenting on how organized the meal was as well and I have to agree. It was entirely more efficient than I expected it to be and I didn't feel rushed or crazed even once! I actually had conversations with everyone and remember them!

A little before 4 pm, some family started to leave so the leftovers were dished into bowls and the dishwasher got started on an exhausting task. One of my friends and her husband and son stopped by. It was great to be able to sit at the dining room table and just talk with everyone. I think it was around six that everyone had gone home. Tom was too impatient to wait and had begun pulling out decorations before everyone had left so we were decorated for Christmas not long after.

I included the random parts of this timeline because life isn't perfect. Migraines happen, cats need to be petted and sometimes you oversleep and forget to cook the sweet potato casserole. :) But the meal still gets pulled together, everything is delicious and you get to hang out with family and friends.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and this crazy detailed list helps you to put together your next holiday gathering whether it be the first time or the 500th!

Recipes Using Thanksgiving Leftovers


The holiday is over, the guests have gone home  and your refrigerator looks like it was taken over by a plastic container facility. Various shapes and sizes and filled with Thanksgiving leftovers, you have to pull them out or dig behind them to find a bottle of water or a piece of fruit.

But after yesterday, you're not really feeling the whole reheated turkey dinner again, right? Never fear, I have a collection of recipes here for you that will use up just about anything you may have leftover in the fridge.

Starting with the Turkey
roast turkey pho
turkey apple sliders
slub sandwiches
Hot Turkey Sandwich - so simple it doesn't require a recipe. Place 1-2 pieces of bread on a plate. Warm up turkey and gravy. Place turkey on top of bread. Pour gravy on top. Enjoy!
Turkey Noodle Soup replace chicken with turkey in my Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup.
*Notes: Still have some celery and herbs that didn't make it into the stuffing? Toss them in!
 Depending on the flavors, if you served a roasted carrot side dish, they can be added in as well.

Plain Mashed or Sweet Potatoes
Gnocchi is a great way to use up leftover potatoes. Simply add more flour and roll dough into logs before cutting and boiling.
Waffles can also be made with sweet or regular mashed potatoes. Just make sure to use lots of butter or non-stick cooking spray!

Croutons - Spread stuffing in a flat layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until dry. Depending on how wet your stuffing is will determine how long it needs to bake. Once dry, cut or crumble into croutons and add to your salad. They'll keep for 1 week in the pantry.
Dumplings - add egg and flour to your leftover stuffing and form it into golf ball sized dumplings. Drop into soup and cook for 3-5 minutes!

Cranberry Sauce
Pork Loin with Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce
Crock Pot Cranberry Dijon Pork
Cranberry Beef Sliders
Replace  the raspberry in my Raspberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars 
Replace fresh cranberries with 1 cup of sauce in Apple Cranberry Crumble
Mix sauce into yogurt
Spread on toast

Pumpkin/Apple Pie
Put vanilla ice cream and a slice of  pie in the blender for a pie smoothie
Discard the crust and stir with vanilla yogurt over granola
Discard crust and mix into ice cream


80+ Thanksgiving Recipes


I have been hosting Thanksgiving since 2009 and in those nearly seven years of hosting, I've amassed quite the collection of Thanksgiving recipes.

Ironically, there have only been two years where I have cooked the turkey which kind of makes me laugh. When you hear Thanksgiving, you typically think of a turkey and I'm rarely responsible for the main dish. Instead I typically get to create a palate pleasing variety of appetizers, side dishes and desserts.

I can almost share 100 recipes with you. That's insane!

(And definitely my goal for next year.)

So if you are hosting this year or you have been tasked with a recipe to bring, scroll down and see what fancies you.

Let's start off with my first recipe round up of Thanksgiving Recipes compiled in 2013.

And then last year I went through my entire recipe index and managed to give you over 75+ Thanksgiving Recipes.

And finally, we have the recipes I've shared with you since last year:

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almonds
Rosemary Roasted Nuts

Slow Cooker Wassail

Side Dishes:
Stuffing in a Bundt Pan
Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd
Poached Pear Salad
Italian Green Beans
Parmesan Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Brown Sugar and Thyme Roasted Carrots
Parmesan Parsley Roasted Potatoes

Lighter Jewish Apple Bundt Cake
Apple Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle
Apple Cranberry Crumble
Slab Apple Pie

If you have never hosted Thanksgiving before and are looking for some tips, read about the time where I hosted 20+ people in my 1200 square foot apartment.

To me, Thanksgiving is about being with family and giving thanks for what we have. But from a realistic hosting standpoint, it's also all about planning, preparation and organization. Don't let that become the main focus though.

If its your first Thanksgiving - you can do this!

And if you're panicking and need to talk to someone who has been through this before, I'm here.

Comment on this post, ask me a question on Facebook, tweet me or shoot me a direct message on Instagram

#ImprovCooking Challenge: Snickers Cheesecake Bars


November's ingredients for the Improv Cooking Challenge were nuts and caramel. I thought about that combination for a while, thinking of sticky buns covered in a caramel sauce or a banana nut bread with a caramel drizzle...and then while eating a lone survivor of Halloween candy, it dawned on me that nuts and caramel were two ingredients in my favorite candy bar.

There are a ton of Snickers related desserts out there, but since I take nearly all of my baked goodies into work, I figured I would appeal to my coworkers taste-buds which I think could sniff out a cheesecake a few miles away.

Snickers Cheesecake Bars
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 24 bars
Printer Friendly

    • For the Crust:
    • 35 Oreo cookies
    • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • For the Filling:
    • 3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • 3 large Snickers bars, chopped
    • For the Topping:
    • ½ cup caramel sauce
    • ½ cup chocolate sauce
    • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
    • ½ cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Add oreos to a food processor and pulse until they form fine crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl and then pour melted butter on top. Stir until crumbs are moistened.
3. Press crumbs into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.
4. In the bowl of the stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla.
5. Add the chopped Snickers and mix until just combined.
6. Pour the batter over the cooled Oreo crust and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cheesecake has set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour.
7. Drizzle caramel sauce then chocolate sauce over the top of the cheesecake in a zig-zag pattern.
8. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips and roasted peanuts on top.
9. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.
10. Use edges of parchment paper to lift bars from the pan. Cut into 24 evenly sized bars.
11. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Bars will keep for 5 days in the fridge. 

Holy chocolate cheesecakery! These bars are so rich and absolutely delicious. I'm pretty sure my coworkers were actually drooling over them. 

If you're interested in joining the Improv Cooking Challenge, we post recipes on the third Thursday of every month. Each month has two themed ingredients that must be included somehow in the recipe. Follow along on our Pinterest board to see what we've made! 

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