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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Cake Pop Bars

Christmas Cake Pop Bars are perfect for kids and adults!

One of the most fun things from the Sweet Starts Weekend was seeing the new products Duncan Hines was making.  We were sworn to secrecy before they showed us (and let us taste!).  I have been waiting since then to share them with you so I was so excited when the first product hit shelves! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sugar Cookies with Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting


These sugar cookies with eggnog frosting are perfect for any holiday party!

My kids loved these sugar cookies growing up. They make great holiday cookies, the recipe is easy to double or triple, depending on how many you need, but I use this recipe for any occasion. With cookie cutters of every shape and size and for every holiday, I would make these cookies for all occasions and parties. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dark Chocolate Truffle Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies


I am so excited to be participating in the 3rd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! You know how you make cookies for your neighbors at Christmas and you get goodies from your friends?  That's what the Cookie Swap is like except you swap across country with other food bloggers.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Southwest Scrambled Egg Whites


If you have been visiting the blog recently you have seen a ton of sweet treats like these... and these.... and these.  Contrary to as it may appear I do actually cook healthy foods too!  Today I want to share with you one of my favorite weekend breakfasts - it's easy, has lots of protein, and is full of flavor!  

Monday, December 2, 2013

What's Momma Makin' - Harvest Salad


Now that the holiday season is in full swing, I will be surrounded by massive amounts of sugary treats and good (most likely unhealthy!) eats.  This salad is perfect for trying to balance out the sweets.  It is one of my absolute favorites.  It's perfect to bring to parties because it's so versatile, brightly colored and super tasty!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lightened Up Leftover Turkey Salad



We didn't make it home for Thanksgiving this year so I cooked my very first Thanksgiving dinner - no pressure there!  If you follow along on Facebook you know that I actually did a test run a few weeks ago to make sure I knew what I was doing.  Luckily, for both the test run and for Thanksgiving, everything turned out great!  

But since it was only the two of us for Thanksgiving we had a ton of leftover turkey!  After a few turkey, cranberry, and cream cheese sandwiches (my personal favorite!) we needed to mix things up before we got sick of turkey.  

My girlfriend told me about the turkey salad that her grandma and mom used to make and how much she loved it.  So she called her mom for the recipe and we got to work.  

The original recipe calls for a mayonnaise dressing but we wanted to lighten it up a little bit, ya know make it a little healthier since we did just eat a whole thanksgiving meal…. or two!  We mixed nonfat plain Greek yogurt and mayo together to make the perfect dressing for a lightened up version of her favorite after thanksgiving meal. 


Lightened Up Leftover Turkey Salad

You will need:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
4 cups of sliced grapes
4 cups of shredded chicken
2/3 cup of sliced almonds
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. 

Fold in the shredded turkey, grapes, and almonds and stir until combined. 

Add salt and pepper to your liking (I put in a small dash of each). 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before eating.   You can eat the salad right away but it tastes better after all of the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Serving ideas:
We ate our right out of the bowl but it would be good wrapped up in a piece of lettuce, stuffed in a pita, or in a sandwich.

Enjoy!

What is your favorite thing to make with Thanksgiving leftovers??


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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Caramel Apple Donut Holes


The Cinnamon Apple Cider Donut Holes were such a big hit around here I wanted to try another version.  I love caramel apples - they remind me of being a little kid - my mom made them every year for Halloween.  So I took my childhood favorite and turned it into a donut!  These little donut bites turned out great.  They are perfect for a special breakfast or as a sweet snack - just make sure to serve them warm so that the caramel is nice and soft.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

What's Momma Makin': Cranberry Jell-O Salad




I have inherited the old-fashioned hand crank food grinder that my dad used to make Cranberry Jello Salad while we were growing up. The suction cups are wearing out so it slides across the counter occasionally and it is probably older than I am but the memories attached to that ugly old grinder are what keep it in my cupboard.  Every Christmas and Thanksgiving morning, without fail, that grinder came out and was attached to the counter, a chair was placed in front of it and the arguing began…. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Easy Crockpot Apple Butter & A Giveaway! {Handmade Holidays}



I love the holidays and I love giving gifts so when Rachel from A Southern Fairytale asked me to be a part of this year's Handmade Holidays: Bake, Craft, Sew I was so excited!  All month long she is featuring gifts from the kitchen that are easy to make and perfect for the busy holiday season.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cookies 'N Cream Cookies


Oreos are America's favorite cookie right??  Well today I have an extra special treat for all of the Oreo lovers out there - I put Oreos in my cookies!  

Monday, November 11, 2013

What's Momma Makin': Apple Cobbler

One of the things I enjoy most is gardening. Almost everything I know about gardening, I learned from my friend Kathy.  Up until I met Kathy, my only gardening experiences had been as a kid, they weren’t very good experiences, to say the least. 

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Easy DIY Iced Coffee Drinks at Home - No Machine Needed


Since we left Seattle I have been missing my daily coffee - probably more than what is considered normal.  But with no coffee shops within a reasonable driving distance and being on a tight budget (joys of being unemployed!), I needed a way to get my coffee fix at home without spending a bunch of money.  

Insert cold press coffee made in a mason jar - I did tell you I was in the south right??  I am pretty sure there are more mason jars in southwestern Virginia than there are people!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Beef Stroganoff - What's Momma Makin' Monday


Easy and Delicious Dinner - Beef Stroganoff

My Mom has been making Beef Stroganoff for as long as I can remember, now that she doesn’t cook any more, Dad has taken over.  Stroganoff has been a long time favorite of us kids, grandkids and great grandkids. This is a good sized recipe but I think the left overs are just as good, if not better than the original meal, it is one of those dishes that just gets better after sitting a day or two.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Gooey Bars


So I am a chocolate girl.  Like as in dessert counts if there is chocolate involved... until these came into my life!  Let me tell you - these non-chocolate bars can be my dessert any day! I mean just look at all of that goodness - you have some pumpkin, cinnamon-y stickiness stuffed in between layers of spiced blondie (the non-chocolate brownie)! 


And the best part of these bars - they are oh so easy to make!  But don't take my word for it - go whip up a batch for yourself I promise you wont be disappointed! 

There are two ways to make these bars.  When I made these the first time I used a Duncan Hines Frosting Creation Pumpkin Spice flavor packet.  Then I found out that they were limited edition from last year so you can't get them everywhere.  So then I made them a second time using the Duncan Hines Decadent Pumpkin Spice Cupcake mix - this version makes a slightly smaller batch but just as good! 

Option 1 - If you have the Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Pumpkin Spice flavor packet use these directions:
1 Spice Cake mix
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup water
1/4 oil
1 egg
1 Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Starter
1 Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Pumpkin Spice flavor packet
1/2 cup toffee bits (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 13x9 pan with parchment paper (this saves lots of time cleaning later!).  I spray a little bit of oil on the pan and then press the parchment paper down so it sticks.  

Combine the Frosting Creations Starter and Pumpkin Spice flavor packet as directed on the frosting can.  Set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, apple cider, cater, oil and eggs.  Mix until combined.  

Press 2/3 of the cake mixture into the bottom of the pan.
Spread the pumpkin spice frosting mixture over the cake mixture.  Sprinkle the toffee bits over the frosting.  Drop spoonfuls of the cake mixture evenly over the entire pan.

Bake for 350 degrees 25 - 30 minutes or until when you gently shake the pan it does not jiggle.

Option 2 - if you are using the Duncan Hines Pumpkin Spice Cupcake mix:
1 Duncan Hines Decadent Pumpkin Spice Cupcake box (it includes the cake mix and frosting)
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup water
1/8 oil
1 egg
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup toffee bits (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x9  or 8x8 pan with parchment paper (this saves lots of time cleaning later!).  I spray a little bit of oil on the pan and then press the parchment paper down so it sticks.  

Make the frosting according to the directions on the box (mix softened butter with mixer on high for one minute or until light and fluffy, slowly add the frosting mix while mixing on low for another minute) and set aside.   

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, apple cider, cater, oil and eggs.  Mix until combined.  

Press 2/3 of the cake mixture into the bottom of the pan.
Spread the frosting mixture over the cake mixture.  Sprinkle the toffee bits over the frosting.  Drop spoonfuls of the cake mixture evenly over the entire pan.

Bake for 350 degrees 20 - 25 minutes or until when you gently shake the pan it does not jiggle.



Enjoy!

Are you a chocolate dessert person or a non-chocolate dessert person? If you could only have one kind of dessert for the rest of your life what would it be??

        

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gramma’s Falling Apart Pot Roast - What's Momma Makin' Monday


Growing up, pot roast was a Sunday night staple along with beef stroganoff, ham, fried chicken or BBQ pork. With all of the cooking that my Mom did week after week, I have to say that I would have gone for the “throw it in the oven and leave it” meal as often as I could! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Monster Cookies


I have been without my Kitchen Aid mixer since we packed up our house back in June.  When we drove across the country we only took the essentials and while I may think my mixer is essential to every day life - others may not agree.  So I left it behind.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Cider Donut Holes

Easy Cinnamon Apple Cider Donuts made with Pillsbury Lil Donut Kit

I have been on an apple cider kick lately!  I was hoping since we live out 
in the country with lots of farms somebody would be selling fresh pressed apple cider... no such luck yet so I guess Kroger will have to do!  While I was picking up apple cider I made a quick stop to the baking aisle... always a very bad idea!  They have all of their fall and holiday baking supplies out - really its my favorite time of the year - I am a nerd like that!  So I picked up a few extra necessities... I promise every bag of chocolate and holiday flavored chip I bought was necessary!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

What's Momma Makin' - Zucchini Bread


Zucchini bread, or Bikini bread as my kids used to call it when they were little (gotta love those little ears and what they hear when grown ups start talking!), has always been a favorite of mine. This recipe comes from my Aunt Pat and is the recipe I have always used. I love zucchini when it is small, young and tender but if any of you have ever tried growing this fast as lightning producer, you know it is very easy to miss a zucchini on the vine, hiding under a leaf and the next thing you know, you have one of those gi-normous, world record breaking zucchini that you have no idea what to do with.  Here is your perfect answer, wash it up, shred it up, use it fresh for Zucchini Bread or measure it out into 2-cup packages, and stick it in the freezer for future use.

Friday, October 11, 2013

National Coming Out Day: People's Stories Matter

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else
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I don’t have a recipe to share with you today and this post is kinda really long but its important and near and dear to my heart.  Today is the 25th Annual National Coming Out Day.  To me coming out, today or any other day, is not a political or religious thing but an incredibly personal journey that somebody who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender has to take and it is not an easy road.  

Too often we hear of people being disowned by their families, bullied in school, running away, or committing suicide.  National Coming Out Day was created to build community and awareness and I hope that one day nobody will have to “come out” but instead everyone will be accepted for exactly who they are, without questions, judgment, or fear. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Carmel Apple Pull-Apart Bread

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Sweet and Sticky Carmel Apple Pull-Apart Bread - perfect for fall!

It is unofficially fall here in Virginia - this weekend it was almost 90 degrees but this morning when I stepped outside the cool crisp air let me know that summer was over.  I love summer - however this summer was challenging and getting used to 90 degree weather with lots of humidity was no picnic.  So this year I am ready to welcome fall with open arms! And to celebrate the unofficial start of fall I made Carmel Apple Pull-Apart Bread.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What's Momma Makin' - Spicy Southwest Potatoes


Welcome to another addition of What's Momma Makin'! 

Another family favorite are potatoes au gratin. This version have a spicy twist to them, thanks to Aunt Laura’s creative cooking, she used to call them Southwest potatoes. Laura was an incredibly amazing woman and a fabulous cook, I will be making a few of her signature recipes this fall, classic home grown comfort food and mouth watering holiday magic, wait until you get a taste of her Thanksgiving sausage dressing!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Toffee Cinnamon Roll Cake Mix Cookies

Duncan-Hines-Frosting-Creation-Cookies

Ever since I found out that I won the Duncan Hines Spring Bake recipe contest I have been experimenting with their Frosting Creation flavor packets like crazy!  It's been fun stretching my creativity in the kitchen. Like did you know that you can use a cake mix to make cookies?! For these gems I added the Cinnamon Roll Frosting Creation flavor packet to my cake mix cookie dough - and let me tell you AMAZING!  These cookies are soft and chewy just like I like them (you can always bake them a little longer if you are a crunchy kind of person) plus these are full of flavor!  

Monday, September 30, 2013

What's Momma Makin' - German Chocolate Cake


If you follow on Facebook or Twitter you saw this weekend that today I had a special announcement!  Well here it is - my mom will be joining us every week for What's Momma Makin' Mondays!  You guys I am so excited that she will be joining me - we have always loved to cook together but now that we are over 2,000 miles apart that's a little difficult to do!  

Let me tell you a little bit about my mom - she is freakin' superwoman (I am not kidding I swear she has a cape some days!).  She spent my childhood creating some awesome memories - she can throw a party like nobody's business (especially a Halloween party!).  She is an amazing cook and everyone is always welcome at her table.  My brother had a friend growing up who we swore knew exactly when my mom was done cooking dinner because he would be at our front door ready to eat!  But more than anything she is my biggest supporter and one of my best friends - it doesn't matter what crazy idea I have she will be there with bells on ready to go (expect maybe when I told her we were moving - not her favorite idea but she still helped me pack!).  

And today she brought cake!  Now I just wish I was back home to have a piece!  So without further ado here is my mom! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Copycat Fisher Scones - A Puyallup Fair Speciality

We are sending Fair Week out with a bang!  A few weeks ago I took a poll on Facebook to see what everyone’s favorite fair food is and today’s recipe was the hands down winner!   So today I bring you copycat Fisher Scones.   



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Easy Four Ingredient Elephant Ears

Today we continue Fair Week with one of my fair favorites – Elephant Ears!  Does your local fair serve these fried dough treats from heaven?? 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Washington State Fair Onion Burgers


Fair Week continues here at Nel's Nook!  {ok so it's more like two weeks but hey who is complaining about two weeks of fair food!}  As a kid I always remember my parents stopping and getting onion burgers at Meyer’s Hamburger stand at the fair.  And as a kid I always thought “yuck onions!”  Now that I am a little older I love onions and I couldn’t wait to recreate my parents favorite fair food – onion burgers! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear Starbucks: A Sad Tale from a Displaced Seattleite



Dear my beloved Starbucks,

You and I go way back, back before I was even supposed to be drinking coffee.  Yes, I confess, I would sneak sips of my mom’s beautifully crafted nonfat lattes with extra foam before I was tall enough to peer over the counter.  As I grew up your delicious concoctions of peppermint and mocha warmed me during the cold winters and your assorted icy beverages cooled me in the summer.  I speak “Starbucks” fluently, can tell a lot about a person by what they order, and even have a gold card with my name on it to prove I am part of the club.  I studied, met friends, debated life’s tough questions, wrote countless papers, worked, mended a broken heart or two, challenged my beliefs, loved, fought, grew, cried, laughed, and lived in the comfort of your espresso wielding arms. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Gluten Free Funnel Cake: A New Twist on a Fair Favorite


Welcome to Fair week at Nel's Nook!  Back home September means the Puyallup Fair {pronounced: pew-al-up}.  Every year over 1 million people visit the fair - that's huge for a city of only 37,000 people!  

Since we aren't there to go to the fair I decided we would bring the fair to us with all of the must-have fair foods.  We go to the fair to see the animals, people watch, see all of the funky booths, and to eat all of the foods you only get at the fair!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Illinois to Tennessee - Finally! {Part 4 of Our Cross Country Move}

After a LONG drive through South Dakota we decided to stop and site see in Chicago.  I had been before but my girlfriend hadn't (and let's be honest she really wanted to try some Chicago style pizza!).  

Going from driving through fields to driving in the city was a little bit of an adjustment and we didn't really have a plan of what we wanted to see.  I knew that the waterfront was pretty and I wanted to take her to see the Bean in the park so that's where we started:


Funny story about this park:  We were walking through the park towards the fountain and there was a group of kids - it looked like a YMCA group - and all of a sudden one kid looks at us with pure terror on his face and screams "it's a lion!" at the top of his lungs.  So everyone in the park turns to look at us... apparently kids in the city don't see dogs very often!



The pizza that my girlfriend had been talking about for days weeks - it was really good but so much cheese!

The beach through the car window - the parks in Chicago don't allow dogs (we learned that because we got kicked out!)



After a long and kinda stressful day of getting lost, I mean, driving around Chicago, we were very excited to see this sign:


Our plan for the trip was to try as many local/famous restaurants as we could.  So on our drive through Indiana I looked up places that might be good for dinner.  I stumbled across a little gem that had been featured on "Man vs Food" called Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream.  


We love Man vs. Food so we decided to give it a try!  They are famous for their "Big Ugly" burger which weighs a pound after it's cooked!  They have pictures covering all of the walls of people who have eaten one (or more!) of these giant burgers.  We didn't even try to attempt that but their normal sized burgers are delicious!  



The restaurant is in a small town just outside of Indianapolis called Carmel and it is the cutest town!  


I was so sad that this bakery was closed - it looks exactly how I want my bakery to look one day!  Plus I love the name (I have an Auntie Em who is amazing!).  If we ever are up that way again we will definitely stop here again!


Last day of the trip and this poor pup is ready to get out of the car!  She was so good the entire time!


Coffee!  Ok this Seattle girl was having some major coffee withdrawals - it had almost been a week without anything but hotel coffee and let's be honest that doesn't count.  We couldn't find a Starbucks so we decided when in Rome (or when in Kentucky, drink as the Kentuckians).  Let's just say I have some adjusting to do! 


Of course during the last few hours of the trip we got so lost!  Kentucky highways are a little confusing! 

Last little way of the trip - we are only a few miles away from our new home!




Ok y'all that's it we finally made it to our new home!  Overall the trip was not as nearly as bad as we were expecting.  We actually took about two days longer than we were planning but all of the sites that we got to see were worth it plus there was no stressful rushing!

Read about the rest of our cross country trip:


I will also keep you updated on how we are adapting to Southern living! 

Until next time, 


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Duncan Hines Spring Bake Contest: Dark Chocolate Mocha Gooey Bottom Bars



 I have a new recipe to share you with but first a short story behind how the bars came to be….

Before we left Washington – during an exceptionally busy day at work – I opened my email and screamed!  My boss came flying into the office, certain tragedy had struck.  As I tried to explain as calmly as I could (ha yea right) – I WON! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Quick Trip to Mount Rushmore {Part Three of Our Cross Country Move}

After Yellowstone we made our way through South Dakota to Mount Rushmore.

We had to stop in Sturgis just to check it out.  We were there about a week before the big bike rally but people were already starting to show up.  Actually our entire trip we saw lots of motorcycles - we assumed they were all headed to Sturgis.




After learning from Yellowstone, we looked up to see if we could take our pup with us into Mount Rushmore - no dogs allowed.   Time for Plan B... We actually really didn't have a plan B we just kept following the signs for Mount Rushmore hoping to catch a glimpse.  And boy did we get lucky!  Note to anybody who A) has pets with them, B) doesn't have time to stop but really wants to see Mount Rushmore, or C) doesn't wanna pay to park - check this out:



From the road up to the park


 There is a small pull-off on the shoulder of the road where you can see the monument perfeclty



On the other side of the hill there is a parking lot where you can pull into and see the other side of the monument (you can't see the whole thing like the other side)
In the parking lot on the other side of the monument there are some boards with quick facts about the Mount Rushmore Monument - like did you know that the original plan was to make each carving down to the President's waist but they ran out of money before they got that far.  


George Washington is HUGE - his nose is about 20 feet long!

And no offense to the rest of South Dakota but we were really ready to see something other than fields and Wall Drug signs for hours!







On to Chicago next!  

Have you followed our entire trip??  Catch up here:



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