We're three days into our kitchen remodel and I'm still riding the high of this whole overwhelming experience. I know that the progress will slow and even pause for brief periods of time but as for now, I'm in awe of the progress and transformation that happens on a daily basis of the space previously known as my kitchen. 😂
I really didn't know what to expect my kitchen to look like during our remodel phase. I anticipated that my appliances would be relocated to other areas of the house for the duration of the demolition. ♨️ I really had no hope of being able to use my oven or microwave for several weeks and I was fully prepared to walk to the garage every time I wanted to get something out of the refrigerator. 🥪🚶🏻♀️
Much to my surprise, my amazing contractor set up a temporary work space in the kitchen with a working oven, microwave and refrigerator! #It'sthelittlethings. We might not have a countertops or water in the space but I'm so not complaining - we have a heat source and a frig and that's all I need. 😁🚰
Although there's no cake baking or gourmet cupcake making right now, I am actually cooking a few things using the stove and a few essential utensils and pans that I didn't box up with the rest of the kitchen. You'd be surprised at what I can make with one skillet, a whisk and a bowl. If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation (or if you just like amazing breakfast foods) I recommend that you make these breakfast quesadillas. They're delicious and they require very little kitchen equipment.
¼ cup milk
Salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
6 slices bacon , cooked, drained, and roughly chopped
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese , divided
6 medium soft tortilla shells
Transfer to a cutting board.
Cut into triangles.
Now that we're doing dishes in the slop sink in the laundry room - we've switched to paper plates, silverware and cups. It might not be the most eco-friendly way of dining - but it's the most practical, right now and I have a new appreciation for recipes like this one that are not only delicious but also require very few dishes. 😂
This is what my kitchen looked like at 8:00 AM this morning.
And this is what my kitchen looked like at 3:00 this afternoon...
and I couldn't be happier about it. This means that our long awaited kitchen remodel if finally underway!!! 😃 Yup, I'll just be over here doing my happy dance now! 😅
Obviously there'll be minimal cooking during the deconstruction phase of the remodel so we'll be relying on freezer meals ... AND the generosity of my neighbors who have graciously offered to let me borrow their ovens to warm our dinners. 😂
This chicken bacon ranch casserole is one of the meals that I had prepped and frozen in anticipation of demo day. I'm not normally a big casserole fan but this pasta and chicken creation with turkey bacon really peaked my interest. It was delicious and I think you're going to like it too. I recommend doubling the recipe - make one to savor now and one to tuck away in your freezer for another day. ✌🏻
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
4 slices bacon, diced (or turkey bacon)
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix
8 ounces rotini
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Sprinkle bacon over casserole.
Cover and freeze OR bake 20 minutes at 375.
Tomorrow we're going to get even more space added to our kitchen with the addition of a new pantry. I feel like a kid at Christmas - I can hardly wait. Not to worry - I'll be taking all of you along for this remodel ride along with us. Look for another kitchen update soon.
Twenty Eight years ago, two people - with very different personalities - decided to join their lives forever. ❤ Anytime you merge two lives together, it's a calculated risk - there's no guarantee that these two individuals are going to able to live together harmoniously. But at that age of 22, we chose to believe that our love was bigger than our differences so we took that leap of faith and tied the knot on a beautiful September afternoon in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. 🥰
We celebrated our 28th anniversary with a mid week get away to St. Simons Island a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't far into our marriage that we discovered that we had very different definitions of the word "vacation." One of us likes to use the time to relax, disengage, rest and destress. The other one, likes to spend every moment exploring the sights, sounds and flavors of her new surroundings to the point of blissful exhaustion. 😅It took some time but I'm happy to report that we've finally figured out how to vacation together so that we're meeting both of our needs. We spent our time on this tiny Georgia island relaxing on the beach, indulging in way too much seafood and playing golf on one of the most beautiful golf courses that I've ever seen.
The combining of two lives is a gamble. Obviously, there's less at stake when you're working with food and combining ingredients instead of personalities but, it still involves an element of risk. Sometimes my experimental food combinations are a complete disaster and I think to myself, there's a reason that no one eats hash brown potatoes on a salad. (Yes, I did try that - once. 😅) But then other times - I wonder who the first creative genius was to made the brave choice to combine dark chocolate and sea salt. 🍫 It seems like a weird combination but it makes my life so much more delicious.
When I first started to flirt with this recipe for Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake I had very mixed feelings. The thought that this could be a total failure was running through my brain but I still couldn't dismiss the nagging feeling that this just might be a match made in heaven. There was really no way to predict which way this unusual mash up was going to go but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least give it a try. What if this pairing is the next great dark chocolate/sea salt combination?
Turns out - the merger of a warm, spiced pumpkin cake and a cool, creamy vanilla cheesecake is a beautiful thing! There's really no other way to describe it. It's not a cake. It's not a cheesecake. This creation really is its own dessert category. A cake/cheesecake mash up that is as delicious as it is indescribable.
Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake
16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 Tablespoons (16g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1–2 Tablespoons milk
Decorate with pecan halves.
Cut into 16 slices.
Happy Anniversary to the one who makes me a better me.
Have you ever felt completely overlooked? I stand a staggering 5 feet off the ground so I can say that pretty much everyone looks over me. 🤷🏻♀️ #shortgirlproblems 🤣I was standing in the lobby of our tiny post office today - a space limited to a total of 3 customers - when a 4th person entered the lobby - looking downright shocked to see me. 😳 Realizing her mistake almost immediately, she turned around to step back out of the lobby but not before loudly announced to the rest of the customers and postal workers: "There was 'little one' in the lobby that I never saw." 😅 I was holding a stack of boxes at the time but I wasn't trying to be covert. 💁🏻♀️
These apple cider caramel bars are almost as unassuming as I am. Don't be deceived though. These plain Jane looking treats pack a powerful punch. The secret is the super concentrated apple cider that makes the homemade caramel extra special. Pairing that cider infused caramel with a buttery shortbread cookie is extraordinary. And a little sprinkle of sea salt on the top balances this heavenly treat just perfectly.
If you're mouth is watering and you're suddenly craving apples and caramel - I've done my job. 🍎😅 I do hope that you will give these a try this Fall. They do require an investment in time but they are sooooo worth it.
Apple Cider Caramel Bars
2 1/2 cups apple cider
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 2/3 cups flour
Sprinkle with sea salt.
Cut with a sharp knife into squares.
I packed up these bars and took them across town a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, they had been out of the frig for a few hours by the time we were ready for dessert and by that time, all of the caramel had slid off of the shortbread. 😭 There's no way that I was going to let them go to waste though - I scraped the caramel back on top and devoured my caramel apple bar with a fork. 🍴So take a lesson from me - keep these refrigerated until you're ready to serve them - especially on hot, humid afternoons. Even though they're just as scrumptious when they're melted 0 just not quite as neat or pretty. 🤣
The race is on. The race to demo day - that is. 🏃🏽♀️ For reasons that I cannot explain, our upcoming kitchen remodel has launched me into a baking mode like I've never experienced. This week I've already made Cinnamon Crunch Bread, Crumb Topped Chocolate Chip Cake, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, White Chocolate Coconut Biscotti, Brownies, Blackberry Cobbler and Apple Raspberry Pies. 😅Stocking up my freezer with all of these goodies makes it seem like I'm preparing for a zombie apocalypse. Nope - just getting ready for kitchen demo day. 😂
I can't explain why I've started feverishly working to create a stockpile of baked treats but for whatever reason, it's my way of mentally preparing for the demo to start. It makes me feel more prepared to know that I have extra blackberry cobbler in my freezer just in case we get a last minute dinner invite over the next few weeks. 🤷🏻♀️I mean - in the world of me - there's nothing worse than showing up to a friends house for dinner - empty handed. 🤣
Today, I kept going over the list in my head of all the possible engagements that I might need to have a dessert for, over the next 8 or 9 weeks. (I know, I know. I have a problem.) 😅 There will be Bible study pot lucks to plan for, foster parents that rely on my monthly support, new neighbors to welcome with sweets and dinner parties with friends. It would be impossible to be prepared for every foody event over the next two months but my small arsenal of desserts has me feeling empowered as we approach this new season of kitchenlessness. (Pretty sure, I just made that word up.)
Cinnamon Crunch Bread
1/2 cup buttermilk, warm
1/3 cup warm water
2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
3 Tablespoons butter, extra soft
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cinnamon Crunch Topping
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons flour
Cool 10 minutes in pan before removing.
Just so you know - we're currently, and unashamedly, accepting dinner invitations for next month while our kitchen is rendered unusable.😉 Mostly because I invested so much time into loading up my freezer with desserts that there was no time left for meal prep.😬 But, this amazing cinnamon crunch bread is in my freezer so if you invite us for dinner - I just might show up with it my hand. 🤣
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