Monthly Archives: October 2013

Award-Winning Salsa

A few weeks ago, Michael entered a salsa contest at work. They do fun things like that from time-to-time. Salsa, chili, beans, watermelon seed spitting… Of course he waited until the night before to find a recipe and buy the supplies, and I was tasked with scouring Pinterest for a good salsa recipe. I came across the Pioneer Woman’s (of course!) and it sounded perfect so that is what we settled on.

He ended up winning Second Place! (First Place was green sauce which really shouldn’t even count….).

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I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of it, so here is one he took during the contest

This recipe was easy, delicious, and cheap.

Restaurant Style Salsa from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cans (10 oz each) Rotel
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (or more!)
  1. In a blender or food processor, put all the ingredients.
  2. Pulse several times until it is the consistency you like.
  3. Enjoy with chips! So easy! (and perfectly delicious)

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It’s Fall Y’all

Fall is the best. The weather starts getting cooler, the leaves change colors, football is in season, a fresh school year. Everything just seems better in the fall. I so enjoy decorating my house and making it all festive and fall-like. I think I decorate more for fall than I do for Christmas! One of my favorite parts of fall is PUMPKIN. I’m a huge Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte fan (though I don’t allow myself one until it’s cold outside…) and I love baking with pumpkin. I guess I could do that year round, but then it wouldn’t be special.

So far I have made three different pumpkin recipes- cake, cookies, and a layered dessert. (I had to make the cookies twice because I forgot to take pictures the first time… oops?…)

Pumpkin Spice Cake. Now I know this recipe is all over Pinterest, but my mom taught me to make it long before Pinterest was around. It’s so simple. Two ingredients. A box of spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin.

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Mix together (I also like to add a bit of pumpkin pie spice to amp up the flavor some), put in a 9×13 pan, and bake according to box directions. No oil, eggs, water- just those two ingredients! I then frost mine with cream cheese icing, but that’s up to you. So easy, and so delicious.

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[Random story about this cake… our honeymoon took place over Thanksgiving. We spent that day in our cabin in the mountains cooking and eating a Thaknsgiving feast. We made this cake, and between the two of us, we ate it all in less than 24 hours…]

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Cookies- from Skinnytaste 

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  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 Tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets or cover with parchment paper
  2. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.
  3. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugars, then add the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the flour/oat mixture until just combined.
  5. Drop by Tablespoons (or however big/small you want them!) onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  6. Prepare for amazing, moist, pumpkin deliciousness!

Layered Pumpkin Dessert- from Kraft

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  • 25 Nabisco Ginger Snaps, finely crushed (about 1 and one-third cups) (I couldn’t find Nabisco brand…)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 16 oz (2 packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packages (3.4 oz each) Instant Vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press into 9×13 pan. Bake 10 minutes.
  3. Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Add pumpkin and spices, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low until just blended. Pour over crust and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 1 hour.
  4. Beat pudding mixes and milk with whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of Cool Whip. Spread over dessert.
  5. Cover with remaining Cool Whip
  6. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm. Sprinkle with pecans before serving.

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What I’ve Been Reading- September 2013

One thing that I wanted to include on my blog are mini reviews on books that I read. I have always been a reader (Thanks, Mom for instilling that into me!). Through college and grad school I didn’t read for fun very much because there was too much “school” reading to do. But once I finished school in August 2011, I started reading for fun again. I’m also an obsessive list maker and have written down every book I’ve read since then and some comments about it. At some point I may blog a list of the books I’ve read up until now, just in case someone is needing ideas ­čÖé┬á But for now I plan to write about the books I read each month. In my listing I will include the title, author’s name, fiction or non-fiction, and date published, as well as a few thoughts.

I read a variety of things- fiction and non-fiction. I’m especially into military non-fiction and memoirs/biographies. My favorite fiction authors are Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, Janet Evanovich and Karen Kingsbury. Those authors couldn’t be more different! I don’t read anything that I deem “scary” because I usually read at night to help me go to sleep and I tend to get easily spooked. My husband has been awakened more than once to help me check the closets for murderers (another thing I get from my mom….).

So, here are the books that I read this past month:

girls guide

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing– Melissa Bank (Fiction, 1999): I didn’t realize until I was a few chapters in that it was a collection of short stories more than a flowing novel. But even with that, it was enjoyable enough that I kept reading. Follows the main character through her journey of growing up and learning to find love and people to count on.

language of flowers


The Language of Flowers
– Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Fiction, 2011): My mom has been telling me to read this book ever since it first came out. I finally did, and I am SO glad that I did. I LOVED this book. It has such meaning and shows the beauty of life and love.

the chanceThe Chance– Karen Kingsbury (Fiction, 2013): Karen is one of my favorite authors and if you haven’t read The Baxter Family series just ignore all these other suggestions and read those first. That series is compiled of several mini-series and begins with the book Redemption. Go to Karen’s web site and you’ll figure it out. Best series ever. Changed my life. But back to The Chance, it was moving and very enjoyable. Great character development, I felt like I came to know the chracters personally. A bit cheesy at points, but overall a great reminder of how God’s hand is in all.

mindykalingIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?– Mindy Kaling (Non-fiction, 2011): I first found out about Mindy Kaling through watching The Office. She is hilarious as Kelly Kapoor. A friend told me I needed to read this book, and I did. One thing I found funny was that early on in the book she compares hers to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and that’s pretty much what I was already doing. No one can beat Tina Fey. No one. But Mindy gives it a good try. This book was really funny, especially the chapters about her childhood. Sometimes the humor felt forced, but overall really good.┬á I enjoyed reading about how she first got involved as a writer, and actress, with The Office. A very light and fun read!

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