Sunday, April 19, 2015

Muffins? Cupcakes? You never knew you needed...

Wilton batter spoons. More specifically, "Scoop it" batter spoons.

I know. I was skeptical, too.

My mom has been talking about these for awhile now, singing their praises, really. And I thought that they couldn't possibly be that useful. But recently I was baking muffins at her house and she pulled them out for me to use, and lemme tell ya, I loved it!

These scoops portion the batter evenly for each scoop. They come in various sizes, which you can use for different jobs. My favorite feature, though, was the edges of these scoops. They are edged with a colorful line of silicone which makes it so easy to get all the batter out of the bowl without having to dirty a spatula. I was able to use every last bit of the batter, and the scoops worked well each time. By that, I mean that the first scoop of batter was as easy and clean as the last.

No drips, no overflowing cupcakes, and no extra utensils to dirty? I'm sold.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Deviled Eggs take 2

This is the best recipe for deviled eggs. My family positively devours them at every major holiday. For Easter this year, I made between 50 and 60 deviled eggs...and they were all eaten. Down to the last little bite. Granted, I have a large family, but still.

The best part of these eggs is that they only require two ingredients. Okay, and paprika. But let's not get too technical here. I usually beat the yolks with a hand mixer to get things really smooth. This makes for prettier piping. You can go the fancy route like I did, or you can do what I usually do which is to scoop the mixture into a ziplock bag, cut off the corner, and "pipe" the yolk in that way.

The secret ingredient? Marzetti's Slaw dressing. It sounds wrong, but it is so, SO right.

Picture from

The only important thing to remember with these eggs is that you should make a ton of them.


Eggs, hardboiled
Marzetti's Slaw dressing


  1. Hard boil the eggs. I like to crack all the eggs after they've been boiled (but after you've run them under cool water to chill out). I leave the cracked eggs in a pot full of cool water for a while (maybe 15-30 minutes). For whatever reason I'd swear that it makes the eggs easier to peel. It also helps to peel them under running water.
  2. Slice the eggs lengthwise, and pop all the yolks out into a large mixing bowl. Add a dollop of dressing. Be conservative, because you can always add more. 
  3. Whip the yolks with a hand mixer until the yolks are smooth, and the consistency of softened butter. You can add more dressing as needed, but you don't want the yolk mixture to get runny.
  4. Spoon into the eggs. Or scoop into a ziplock baggie and pipe into eggs. Or use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe into the eggs. Or just eat with a spoon (don't do that last one or you can't call it deviled eggs...).

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Campfire Cookery

No, I'm still here! It's been awhile since I've blogged, but that's because camping probably doesn't count if you bring your computer, or worry about finding wifi. So, in honor of missing a more regular update schedule, I'm going to blog about a few camping recipes that are super easy and delicious.

Let's start with an obvious disclaimer: I am a car camper.

We drive up to our campsite, park right by the fire ring and picnic table, and unload the car. We have a cooler large enough to fit food for several days without struggle. And we can stand up in our tent--it's that big! I make no apologies--I prefer campsites with bathrooms and easy access to running water.

So, back to the trip!

Let's start with planning: 

At least a few days ahead, figure out what you want to eat for every meal. I like to list it out in four columns, like you see below:

Day                        Meal                    Ingredients                  Equipment
1- Breakfast   Breakfast Burrito                Tortillas                          Tinfoil
                                                             Eggs                             Tongs
                                                           Sausage                           Plates
                                                          Hash browns 
                                                          Green Chiles

1- Lunch            Sandwiches                   Bread                           Knife
                                                             Sun Chips
                                                        Grape Tomatoes

As you list things out, you can start to leave things off. So, if on day 2 I'm planning to have more breakfast burrito and sandwiches, I can skip over the ingredients. I know when I'm grocery shopping that I need enough quantity of things for there to be two (or three, or whatever) meals worth of whatever ingredients are listed. This lets you skip the "Oh, SNAP! I forgot the ___________" moment as you're preparing the food.

Yum! Everything tastes better when camping!

A few tips on packing Packing:

  • Try to group the foods together in a way that makes sense to your brain. For me, that meant drinks along one side, all the condiments together, and anything you'd use for a meal grouped (so, put the sliced peppers alongside the chicken if you're making fajitas)
  • Put the food in the cooler first, then layer the ice on top. Cold sinks, so this will help you to keep your food cold longer.
  • When opening your cooler, get your things out as quickly as possible. This keeps your ice from having to work too hard to cool the temperature back down. Grouping your food helps (see tip 1)
  • Take advantage of packaging--I used an empty bread sleeve (the plastic bag it comes in) to group my grape tomatoes and baby carrots. This kept my "snack veggies" all together and in easy access.

The recipes:


Breakfast burrito

This is a tasty alternative to bringing muffins on your trip. I always feel better starting my day out with some protein, so I was really excited to find this recipe. I prepared the filling, and froze it separate from the tortillas. Once I packed things, the frozen filling began to thaw, but served as an extra ice pack. Each morning I just scooped and rolled my tortillas in foil and baked them on the grate over some campfire coals. Because everything is pre-cooked, you are just aiming to get the food hot. Roll the burritos around every few minutes or so with the tongs so nothing burns.

Alternatively, you can make the filling and create burritos which you wrap in plastic, freeze, and can pull out to heat up in your microwave during a busy work week.

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage
  • 1 package hash browns
  • 1 can green chilies, drained
  • Shredded cheese, if desired 
  • Large flour tortillas
  1. Cook the sausage until cooked through and crumbled, drain on a paper towel and wipe out skillet, leaving a little grease for the hash browns.
  2. Cook hash browns according to package directions, combine with sausage in a large bowl.
  3. Scramble together the 12 eggs until just cooked, but still glossy. Add to the large bowl.
  4. Drain the chilies, then add to the bowl with the cheese, if using. Mix well with salt and pepper to taste. Place into the tupperware (if camping) or make into burritos (if preparing for a busy week). This makes 8-10 burritos depending on how much filling you put in each burrito.

 Banana S'More Boat

I have seen this idea floating around the internet, and always felt skeptical. I mean, why mess with a perfectly good s'more? But we had a lot of extra bananas on this trip (sale on bananas!) so I figured I'd give this a try...and they were delicious! I used a graham cracker to scoop up bites of banana, but if you are gluten-free or just don't like graham crackers you can use a spoon directly from the foil.

I made mine with chunks of chocolate from a larger bar because I didn't feel the need to bring chocolate chips when I was already bringing chocolate bars. I also ripped up larger marshmallows with my fingers. I kind of wish I had mini-marshmallows, but I think if I just cut up a few marshmallows at home before going on the trip I can avoid buying two kinds of marshmallows.

Ingredients for each banana boat
  • 1 ripe banana
  • A handful of chocolate chips (or chunks broken off a larger bar)
  • Mini Marshmallows (or pre-cut marshmallow bites)
  • Graham Crackers if desired
  1. Peel the banana and place on a square of aluminum foil. Cut the banana mostly in half lengthwise (think hotdog's okay if the banana breaks apart, but it's easier if you keep it together.)
  2. Evenly stuff the banana with chocolate and marshmallow pieces, then wrap the banana completely in foil.
  3. Roast the banana on the coals of a campfire (or over a grill) for a few minutes, until the banana is softened and the chocolate and marshmallows are melted. Open foil pouch and place on a plate (or you can eat out of the foil if you place it on a plate or something so you don't get burned)
  4. Using a spoon or graham crackers, enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Avocado Deviled Eggs

Yes, you read that right: Avocado Deviled Eggs. My plan is this: to post this variation of a deviled egg recipe, followed by a post about the "real" way to make deviled eggs sometime next week. After all, I am sensing lots of hard boiled eggs in your's nearly Easter! This recipe for avocado deviled eggs arose because I am doing a Whole 30 (no grains, added sugar, dairy, or legumes for 30 days). Being on day 21, I am hitting the food boredom wall pretty hard. I needed a snack that felt like a departure from a handful of cashews or a bunch of sliced vegetables.

These eggs fit the bill. You mash the yolks with an avocado, some hot sauce, and some lime juice. You can add more to the recipe if you want, but these are sort of awesome the way they are. My non-whole 30 husband went by the store for more eggs SPECIFICALLY requesting more of these deviled eggs. I feel like that means these are winners, even when you aren't trying to eliminate some of the more processed foods from your diet.

I hope you enjoy these eggs and that you check back in next week to see the "real deal."


3 eggs, hard boiled
1/2 avocado
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
Hot Sauce 
Salt/Pepper to taste


  1. Peel the eggs, then slice lengthwise. Gently pop the yolks out into a mixing bowl, then arrange the yolk-less eggs on a serving plate.
  2. Add the avocado, lime juice, and as much hot sauce as you want. I usually go for 2-3 tablespoons, but you can add more or less depending on how spicy you want it. Keep in mind that you can always add more hot sauce at the end, so start conservatively if you aren't sure about the spice level you want. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then mash away at the mixture with a fork, a potato masher, or some other preferred method.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the well of each egg, then serve! I topped mine with a cajun seasoning for more spice, but that part is up to you.


The eggs keep fine, but they start to look ugly after awhile--avocado turns brown (it oxidizes) when exposed to air. Make these and eat them within an hour or two if that grosses you out. I'm an equal opportunity avocado eater, so I don't mind the oxidation. Just sayin'. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi Day!

Remember in math class when there was inevitably some student who raised his hand to ask, "When are we ever going to use this?" Well here it is:

Pi Day

For those of you who remember your geometry, Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. You probably used it lots in math class, but now you have an even better reason*

An excuse to eat ALL THE PIE

(*not really...math is very important)

Pi equals 3.1415926... I could go on, I suppose, since Pi continues forever, but I'm sure we all have better things to do with our day.

This kid does it better anyway (while balancing books on her head and solving a rubik's cube):

Anyways! March 14 (written as 3.14) is annually known as Pi day. Extra special is this year's Pi day, because today's date (3.14.15) represents the first 4 digits of Pi after the decimal. Extra extra special is 9:26 AM and PM because, well, see above.

In honor of Pi day, I will share with you one of my favorite "Pi"s...KEY LIME PIE! So good, so tart, so easy to make! This is a bonus recipe with a pie CRUST recipe and a pie filling recipe.

I totally think you should have some pie tonight. Around 9:26 if you want extra credit!

Graham Cracker Crust:

Crush one sleeve of graham crackers either by hand or in a food processor (it comes out more uniform in a food processor). Mix with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Melt 3/4 of a stick of butter (6 tablespoons) in the microwave, then pour over the graham cracker mixture. Stir together, then press into a pie pan. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees, then let the crust cool completely on a wire rack (think: at least 30 minutes).

For the pie


1 prepared graham cracker crust (above)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2-2/3 cups key lime juice--fresh or bottled
            (the amount depends on how tart you want it...I almost always go 2/3 cups)
4 egg yolks


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks for about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix well (about 30 seconds).
  4. While the mixer is running, add the lime juice in a slow and steady stream. When all is combined, turn the mixer off and let everything sit for 5 minutes. It should thicken slightly.
  5. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 15 minutes. It should be set, but still jiggle a little
  6. Cool pie to room temperature on a rack, then chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. 
  7. I strongly recommend serving this pie with whipped cream. You can buy it, or make your own by pouring 1 cup of cold heavy cream and 2 tbsps powdered sugar into the mixer and whipping it on medium high (about 1-2 minutes, until it makes peaks and is, well, whip cream-like)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Uses

This is a "gimme" blog post. Consider this post to be the ball, all tee-d up for me to swing. See, it's been A Week, y'all. In North Carolina, we had about two weeks off for snow and ice, and my body got really used to waking up when it felt like it. Then, we got all back to school and somewhat in a groove and Daylight Savings snatched up its hour and somehow, I feel like I might never get back on top of things.

But it's not just me.

My husband is defending his thesis in two weeks, which means that thesis was due to his committee today. This man has been working like crazy to make sure he has all his ducks in a row (or data in a...line? I'm not a chemist, so you'll have to pardon the analogy). I've noticed these few months--and especially this week--just how much he contributes to the running of our home. The magic dishwasher has stopped unloading itself. Suddenly I've cooked dinner and turned around and find that the elves hadn't already cleaned. The laundry...ok, I do all the laundry myself start to finish most of the time. But seriously, even though this week has left me frazzled, it leaves me so thankful for a partner who steps up and does household chores whenever they need doing.

All of this is to say, I'm planning to get through this week and get back on the blog-waggon. Until then, I'm introducing a new type of post to watch for:

New Uses!

You've seen the chicken and soup recipes and my ode to tongs was my first gadget post. The New Uses posts will be all about those tips and tricks you see on pinterest, in magazines, and around the web. I'm going to try the tips out myself (so I make sure I'm not recommending something that will end up on a pinterest fail website) and offer any suggestions I may have that made things work best in my kitchen. I would also love to hear from you what your best kitchen tricks and shortcuts are! 

This week's New Use is looking at:

Spaghetti Sauce and Pickle Jars

As a teacher, married to a grad student, I know a thing or two about making your money stretch. As a teacher, I also have a seemingly inherent love of containers. 

Target during the back-to-school sales is dangerous for my wallet. 

But the one thing I never have to worry about is having enough jars and canisters. In fact, they're free with the purchase of some tomato sauce or pickles! Once you've eaten up your sauce/pickles/olives/etc., you are free to:
  • Peel off as much of the label as you can.
  • Soak the jar in warm soapy water.
  • Use a paper towel or dishcloth to rub off the label. 
  • If the label is still stuck, or has left some residue, you can use a little olive oil and salt to scrub at the label. 
    • I've read you can also use nail polish remover, but I've never needed to try it so I can' say if it works.

Think of all the uses for these jars! I put jellybeans in mine 'cause they're pretty (and my husband loves them!) but you could put art/craft supplies in there, you could use them to make your own "cookie mix in a jar" to store in your pantry for an emergency (cookie emergencies happen!), you can store kitchen utensils, you could put candles in them in a real lost-power-need-lights emergency...the list goes on. I sometimes use them for smoothies in the morning. They have a lid, so they travel well to work, and you can rinse it out with a drop of dishwashing liquid, put the lid on, and swish it around to get it (mostly) cleaned up to go back home. 

Whatever you do, you can feel AWESOME that you saved some money, and maybe even helped out the environment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sausage and Kale Soup

The other day, I swung through the grocery store right after work without a list, but with a rough idea of what I wanted to make for the week. I knew that sausage and kale soup existed, but I didn't already have a recipe in mind. I picked up the kale and onion, figuring those were no-brainers. I chose a chicken and apple sausage because I'm currently eating foods without added sugar...for the next few weeks, anyhow--for more on that, read about the Whole 30. I realized I might need a few other ingredients, so I did a bit of googling and found this Food and Wine Kale and Potato soup which was really not very complicated. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry! That's winning to me.

I decided to modify this recipe a little bit. For one, the sausage I bought only had 3/4 pounds of sausage, and I didn't want to purchase another package so I decided to try it out--I didn't miss that extra sausage at all! I just cut the links into quarters lengthwise before slicing them up, and every bite has a little bit of sausage. I also wanted to use fewer white potatoes (even though they are now allowed on the Whole 30, I am a total potato addict, and am trying to cut back on potatoes for the next few weeks). I decided that apple sausage seemed like a friendly flavor for sweet potato, so I made up the difference with diced sweet potato. You might see in the picture that I added some leftover hashbrowns--just trying to use up what was in my fridge, not part of the recipe.

This would be a delicious soup for the fall, but I think you should cook outside the box and make it this week!


3/4 lbs   sausage (I recommend Turkey or Chicken)
1 large   onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 quart  chicken stock
1 pound Kale--stemmed and torn into small pieces
2 cups   water (I inverted the proportions of stock to water--I usually buy quarts of stock)
2-3 med. boiling potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 med.    sweet potato, peeled and diced into pretty small chunks
1 pinch red pepper flakes


  1. Microwave the sweet potatoes in a bowl for between 45 seconds and a minute and a half depending on how small you diced them. You want them to be softened enough that they will cook quickly in the soup.
  2. With a little cooking oil, cook the sausages over medium heat to get some color on the outside (a little char equals great flavor in your soup!). When they're finished, pull out the sausage and set them on a plate for later.
  3.  Remove all but a little of the grease from cooking the sausage, then put in the onion. Cook for a few minutes until soft and clear. Add the garlic, and cook a minute longer (maybe 6 minutes total, depending on how hot your pan is)
  4. Add the chicken stock, water, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. While you're waiting for the soup to boil, slice the turkey sausage (be careful if it's still hot!). Slice the sausages into quarters lengthwise, then slice into small pieces along the sausage.
  5. Once the soup is boiling, add the sweet and white potatoes and the sausage. The white potatoes will cook while the sweet potatoes finish what you started in the microwave. Let the soup simmer for 2 minutes (I let it go for 5).
  6. Add the kale and let it cook down for about 6 minutes, until tender and all wilted in. Add pepper to taste.