Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole

Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole

More Thanksgiving recipes… after Thanksgiving! This might just be my favorite one. I also don’t alter this recipe at all from the original-don’t mess with perfection!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows (or large if you prefer!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain; cool slightly.
  3. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add sugar and next 3 ingredients (through vanilla). Mash sweet potato mixture with a potato masher. Fold in 1/4 cup pecans. Scrape potato mixture into an even layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans; top with marshmallows. Bake at 375° F for 25 minutes or until golden.
Slow-Cooker Lentil, Ham, and Spinach Soup

Slow-Cooker Lentil, Ham, and Spinach Soup

For some reason I grabbed a few bags of lentils at Target the last time I went. You know… in case the world ends during this pandemic and we need lentils. Totally logical…

I remembered making slow-cooker soup from a recipe in my favorite slow-cooker recipe book (yes, I have one… I asked for it for Christmas a long time ago and yes, it’s amazing, so don’t knock it!). I looked for the recipe and it wasn’t quite what I remembered it being, so I tweaked it a bit this time. I cut a few corners, too, because… why not?! This soup really doesn’t yield very much, so if you like leftovers like I do, double the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (or use frozen chopped onion for easy prep!)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced, cooked ham (or more if you prefer!)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • Shredded or grated parmesan for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. Add lentils, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, lemon zest, ground red pepper, salt, chicken broth, and water to the slow cooker. Stir well and cook 2-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low heat.
  2. Add ham and spinach to slow cooker and cook an additional 10 minutes on high heat.
  3. Serve and enjoy!
Easy Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast

Easy Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast

I know I keep posting recipes AFTER the holiday has occurred, but I figured maybe I could help make someone’s holiday a little easier (and tastier!) next year, so bookmark this one! I’m not a fan of baking a whole turkey because a.) I’ve never done it, so it’s intimidating, b.) Ain’t nobody got time for that, and c.) I just plain don’t want to… I need easy, people!

I searched recipes and I came up with my own based on what I liked from all of the recipes I found. If you’d like to see the main recipe I pulled ideas from, take a look here! I never have time to make my own gravy from the drippings, but I’ll add the instructions in case you’d like to try it.

I love this recipe because you can adapt it easily to make as much (I made 3 3-lb turkey breasts in one slow-cooker the last time I made it!) or as little as you’d like.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into thirds
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 lb boneless, skinless turkey breast (I used 3 in one slow-cooker to feed a large family, but you can adjust accordingly!)
  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided (reserve 3 Tbsp for gravy), room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour (for gravy, if you plan on making gravy from drippings)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix paprika, thyme, poultry seasoning, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add onion and celery to the bottom of the slow-cooker and cover with chicken broth.
  3. Place the turkey breast(s) on top of the vegetables and broth breast side (fat side) up. If the turkey breast(s) come in a netting, leave the netting on during cooking.
  4. Cut 4 Tbsp of room temperature butter into thin slices and evenly cover the turkey breast(s). Sprinkle the dry rub mix evenly over the turkey.
  5. Cook on low 4-6 hours. For a larger amount of turkey, I usually estimate an hour per pound (for example, 9 hours for 9 lbs of turkey breast). Once turkey is thoroughly cooked (internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F), remove the turkey from the slow-cooker and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Gravy Directions

  1. Strain slow-cooker drippings in a fine-mesh sieve and discard any solids.
  2. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  3. Gradually whisk in pan drippings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Serve turkey immediately with gravy.
THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

I never buy cookie dough… not because I’m Betty Crocker and I have to make everything from scratch, but because I just never think about buying any. I guess I figure if it’s not there, I won’t bake cookies, so I won’t eat them. Well, this pandemic has taught me to be resourceful and unfortunately I found a recipe that I had all of the ingredients for and of course it was delicious. Except for the time I accidentally only put half of the butter the recipe called for… oops. Yes, I accidentally created cookie biscuits. Don’t try it.

This recipe comes straight from Allrecipes.com, but I don’t add nuts-just chocolate chips!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
Taco Bell Copycat Enchirito Recipe

Taco Bell Copycat Enchirito Recipe

Well guys… I’ve been in severe depression ever since the Enchirito left Taco Bell’s menu. Yeah, yeah… I know they had a smothered burrito for a while, but it just wasn’t the same. I managed to make something similar kind of by accident. I was really hungry for some enchiladas with a red sauce. I realized what I really wanted was an enchirito, so I got to work. What I came up with was somewhat similar, so I guess it will do for now. I’ll keep you updated as I perfect it!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans red enchilada sauce (I used mild, but hot could work too if you enjoy your food a little spicier)
  • 6 burrito size flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheddar, cheddar jack, or monterey jack cheese (whatever you have on hand will work great!)
  • Black olives (optional, for topping)
  • Sour cream (optional, for topping)
  • Diced green onion (optional, for topping)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Brown the ground beef until cooked through thoroughly. Drain/remove the excess fat.
  3. Mix 1 can of red enchilada sauce with the browned ground beef.
  4. Pour 1/2 can of red enchilada sauce evenly in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ glass baking pan.
  5. Spread aluminum foil on your work surface to assemble the enchiladas for easy clean up.
  6. Lay out 6 tortillas and fill each tortilla with shredded cheese and the beef and sauce mixture. Roll each tortilla up and place in the sauce lined baking dish.
  7. Top enchiladas with shredded cheese and cover with aluminum foil.
  8. Bake covered 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  9. Top with sour cream, black olives, or diced green onion if desired. Serve and enjoy!
DIY Dip Manicure on the Cheap that Doesn’t Look… Well… Cheap!

DIY Dip Manicure on the Cheap that Doesn’t Look… Well… Cheap!

The weather is starting to change and we’re sprinting towards the winter months. This means dry skin, dry hair, dry nails. Ok, you can only moisturize so much and cuticle or nail oil is great… when you actually remember it. I don’t know about you, but things around here are extra crazy this time of year and 2020 has not been kind to anyone, so I definitely don’t have time for 500 steps in my skincare routine right now.

My nails keep splitting and breaking way, way, WAY back. If I paint them this won’t help with the breaking, so I thought maybe I’d go get them done soon with a gel manicure. Ok, that might help some, but it still won’t stop them from splitting or breaking too far back. I suddenly remembered seeing a Facebook ad for dip manicures. Hmm… ok, but are they sturdy enough to withstand the cracking, splitting, and breaking nails?

Like all of my posts, I’m sure you know where I headed. Time for some hardcore Amazon research. I found many kits, but I always opt for the ones with the best price and best reviews. Bingo… I found a starter kit that contained colors I love and there was a coupon with a lightning deal. I looked at all of the photos, read the reviews, and this seemed like the real deal, so I went for it.

What I liked about this particular set is it seemed like there were only a few steps, the kit came with everything already included, and the colors were perfect! I chose the kit with a gray and pink color scheme. This particular kit had a two different color options, so if I did fall in love with it, I could order a second set in a different color scheme.

The directions were simple and there wasn’t too much to read through. I was able to apply the dip powder easily and quickly. I completed my entire manicure in about half an hour. The manicure looked great for a first attempt. I know the second attempt will be even better now that I know what I’m doing. Next time I will make sure I don’t get sloppy with the base coat as it can go outside the nail line fairly easily. Once you go outside of your nail line it adheres to your skin and it’s a little difficult to correct. When applying regular polish I’ve always gone very far outside of my nail line and cleaned it up later, but this forces me to be a little bit neater.

My nails are now strong, sturdy, and aren’t tearing, breaking, or chipping like they have been the last few weeks. I think this is a great solution to help me grow my nails out without them continually breaking. The colors are great in this kit, it is quick and easy to apply, and I found it to be very forgiving for a dip manicure newbie. For the price of one manicure I will now be able to keep up with them myself at home whenever I have time. I believe I will be purchasing an electric nail file to sand down the manicures when I need to fill in in a few weeks. Otherwise I think they’ll become a little too thick after fill-ins.

If you like a little more length than what you currently have, Amazon has a lot of options for tips. The directions in this kit even tell you how to apply the nail tips, then apply the dip manicure for a great finish.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I know, I know… Halloween is over and most people have already thrown their seeds out by now, but in case you haven’t, here is a great “recipe”. I’m using quotes because it’s really just seeds and seasoning. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Well, no lemon, but… you get it. I adapted this recipe from one I found over at Food.com.

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Garlic Powder

Directions

  1. After removing seeds from the pumpkin, make sure all pumpkin slime and chunks are removed.
  2. Rinse the seeds in a strainer thoroughly and allow to dry overnight on wax paper. Change the wax paper after 24 hours and allow to dry on a new sheet of wax paper for an additional 24 hours or until completely dry.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Toss the seeds in a bowl with olive oil. Use enough oil to very lightly coat the seeds. The seasoning will stick well with very little oil.
  5. Add salt, seasoning salt, and garlic powder to taste. Other seasonings may be used to create different flavors.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add seasoned pumpkin seeds to baking sheet.
  7. Bake seeds for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until golden brown.
  8. Enjoy!
Move Over Victoria’s Secret… There Are Cheaper, BETTER Alternatives

Move Over Victoria’s Secret… There Are Cheaper, BETTER Alternatives

After being stuck in the Victoria’s Secret conundrum for over a decade, I finally embraced the fact that it MIGHT NOT BE the only good intimates option *gasp* I know, I know… it’s kind of like Clinique. Abercrombie & Fitch. Lulu Lemon. There ARE other brands and yes… they can be comparable, if not better.

Yes, I have always gotten amazing deals from Victoria’s Secret in the past, but like every other brand name, those deals seem to be becoming few and far between lately. So, I did what any great shopper does and hit up my Amazon Prime for other options. I’ve had great luck lately just typing in whatever I’m searching for then BAM! An item with thousands of glowing reviews pops up as “Best Seller”. So, today I have two alternatives for you-Body by Victoria underwire bras and cotton bikini underwear.

Body by Victoria Underwire Bra Dupe

So, the best option that came up on Amazon was Maidenform’s Comfort Devotion Embellished Bra. Reviewers even posted photos comparing their Victoria’s Secret version to the Maidenform version. They are so similar that you can hardly tell the difference. Here are some pros and cons that I found with this dupe:

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Pros:

The fit and cut is nearly identical to the Victoria’s Secret version. In fact, reviewers posted photos of the Body by Victoria bra with the Maidenform version and they looked nearly identical. Maidenform’s version has a three hook and eye closure, while the Victoria’s Secret version has only two. I definitely prefer the three hook version as it helps everything stay in place and be much more secure. Maidenform’s version even seems softer than Victoria’s Secret’s. This could mean it won’t hold up as well as the Victoria’s Secret version, but I’ll keep you posted on how they wear!

Cons:

I don’t really know that there are many cons to this one. The straps seem a little stretchier, which could mean a little less support and the Maidenform version is definitely thinner. The Amazon selection of Maidenform also mostly have lace, which might not be the best style under tighter fitting t-shirts. Other than these minor cons, the bras are definitely comparable.

Victoria’s Secret Cotton Bikini Panties Dupe

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Amazon Essentials has the best dupe for Victoria’s Secret cotton panties. You know, the ones you always get free when you have a VS credit card? Who doesn’t love those?! In fact, I’m not even giving you a pro/con list for this one (yeah… I know your inner Rory Gilmore just died a little…). They’re that good. I even grab these before I grab any of my Victoria’s Secret versions. They wash well, they hold up well, and they’re just plain comfortable. These are just plain great. The cut is also comparable to Victoria’s Secret Cotton Bikini Panties. The price? $2.25 per pair. Seriously. Buy some.

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

It’s fall… time for chili! I’ve made a few different versions of white chicken chili, but this version that I adapted from The Chunky Chef is by far my favorite. Step on some crunchy leaves, grab a cozy sweater, and enjoy some chili!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts – I usually use more than a pound for a more hearty chili. You can also use frozen and it still turns out great!
  • 1 yellow onion – diced (I usually use frozen for a quicker recipe!)
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 32 oz. chicken broth 
  • 3 15oz cans great Northern beans – drained and rinsed
  • 2 4oz cans diced green chiles – I usually use mild because kids will be eating it, but hot works great, too
  • 1 15oz can whole kernel corn – drained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • small handful fresh cilantro – chopped (dried works great if you don’t happen to have fresh on hand!)
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese – softened
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • Monterey Jack cheese (optional, for topping)
  • Tortilla strips (optional, for topping)
  • avocado (optional, for topping)
  • Sour cream (optional, for topping)

Directions

  1. Add chicken breasts to bottom of top slow cooker with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Top with diced onion, minced garlic, great Northern beans, green chiles, corn, chicken broth and cilantro.  Stir.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove chicken to large mixing bowl, shred, then return to slow cooker.
  5. Add cream cheese and half and half, stir, then cover and cook on HIGH for 15 minutes, or until chili is creamy and slightly thickened.
  6. Stir well and serve with desired toppings.
Easy Oven Baked Pork Chops (with Slow Cooker Option!)

Easy Oven Baked Pork Chops (with Slow Cooker Option!)

I always buy pork chops or pork loin and never know what to do with them. I love breaded, pan fried pork chops, but it’s hard to pan fry them lately with a 2 year-old running into the kitchen every 5 minutes while I’m cooking hurling Hot Wheels cars across the floor. I mainly use this recipe as a dry rub for any kind of pork I prepare. Although this recipe is meant for baked pork chops, it’s also great on a pork loin in the Crock Pot for 8 hours on low. If you decide to use the slow cooker version, add around a cup of chicken broth to the Crock Pot.

This recipe was adapted from an Easy Oven Baked Pork Chops recipe from Lemon Blossoms.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the dry rub ingredients.
  3. Rub the pork chops with the olive oil and season them with the dry rub. Make sure to coat all sides of the pork chops.
  4. Place the pork chops onto the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pork is thoroughly cooked.
  6. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 to 10 minutes, tented with aluminum foil. Serve and enjoy!