Grandma’s Beef Stew

Autumn comfort, made easy!

Grandma's Beef Stew (small)

Remember when churches used to put out a church cookbook?  We still have old copies of church cookbooks lying around somewhere.  Some of the recipes in there make me laugh, the way things are worded, or the ingredients used (apparently margarine used to be called oleo?). Every cookbook our church ever put out had at least one recipe from my grandma and/or great-grandma.  My grandma was an excellent cook, even with her poor eyesight.  One of those recipes was a simple but delicious beef stew.

When I was growing up, my dad’s favorite meal was beef stew.  He always said it made him feel “ritzy.”  I never really understood that, because beef stew isn’t exactly high-class food.  He loved it, though, and with good reason.  My mom my grandma’s stew recipe, and it definitely stands the test of time. Continue reading

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Apple Cider Salted Caramels

The taste of fall you never knew you needed in your life.

Apple Cider Salted Caramels (small)

Ever since I was a little kid, I have been going to a local apple orchard known as Tuttle Orchards.  I have always loved it, so much so that I have worked there for the last three fall seasons on the weekends.  The best part, without a doubt, is the delicious apple cider.  This is not the apple cider you get a the grocery store.  That stuff is basically glorified apple juice.  The cider from Tuttle’s is amazing.   Continue reading

Weeknight Barbecue Chicken

Long day?  Don’t worry, I’ve got your dinner covered.

Weeknight Barbecue Chicken (small)

Tuesday night.  It has been a long day at work.  You walk in the door, loaded down with work you had to bring home.  You see that, despite the fact that your partner has cleaned and vacuumed the family room four times today, the kids have made an almost unnavigable mess. And then they all run to you and say, “What’s for dinner?”

Sound familiar? If you’re anything like me, that scenario has your reaching for the phone to order a pizza (well, to order a pizza online… I hate ordering pizza on the phone). But put the phone down!  Save the pizza for Friday movie night.  Using stuff you probably already have, you can make an excellent weeknight dinner with little effort. Continue reading

Vegan Soft Pretzels

Soft, chewy, German-y… just the way a pretzel should be!

Homemade Soft Pretzels (small)

When I was in high school, my best friend and I  both worked at the local mall.  In our free time, we would go hang out at the downtown mall. As an adult, however, I have come to a realization.  I hate malls.  People walk up right behind you, people stop in front of you with no warning, the salespeople at the Dead Sea Minerals kiosk jump out and try to put lotion on your hands without permission… *shudder*  There is one thing that makes going to the mall worthwhile, though.  PRETZELS. Continue reading

Honey Mustard and the World’s Largest Ball of Paint

Great on chicken, fries, a spoon….

Honey Mustard (small)

So we are back to school here in the Indiana.  For the couple of days before going back to school, we decided to do something fun and offbeat.  So what a better way to spend the day than going to see one of central Indiana’s bizarre roadside attractions?  Just about an hour away from our house is: Continue reading

Salted Dark Chocolate Fudge (dairy free!)

Stop whatever you are doing and make this now. Because fudge.

Salted Dark Chocolate Fudge (small)

It’s no secret that I love food.  And it’s not just the eating of food that I like; I love that food can bring people together, can represent and define cultures, and can soothe and comfort.  Typically I prefer savory foods.  I will choose bacon with biscuits and gravy over pancakes every single time.  Night time snack?  Popcorn.  Usually buttered and seasoned with some weird concoction I made up on a whim.  But there is no question: I LOVE FUDGE. Continue reading

Crescent Cinnamon Rolls!

A delicious breakfast, and you don’t even have to go to the airport!

Cinnamon Rolls (small)

It seems to be general knowledge that you should bake cookies if you are trying to sell a house.  The smell of baking cookies evokes a feeling of home.  If you ask me, though, you would be better off making cinnamon rolls.  The beauty of cinnamon rolls is that you get both the sweetness of the cinnamon filling and the inviting aroma of the bread.  Plus, then you have cinnamon rolls!  I say that’s a win-win.

I’ve always been a little hesitant to make my own cinnamon rolls.  Other than the Bread-in-a-bag, I have never really had a lot of luck with yeast breads.  I tend to kill the yeast, and I get super impatient with letting it rise, rolling it out, letting it rise again… basically, I’m just lazy and don’t want to mess with it. But I got to thinking: I found a way to fake donuts… can I fake cinnamon rolls, too?

As it turns out, I can. Continue reading

Watermelon Pineapple Ice Pops

So simple…. and so delicious!

You guys.  Seriously.  These ice pops……

Ok, so it’s summer in the American Midwest.  If you aren’t familiar with Midwest, let me clue you in.  It’s hot.  I mean, HOT.  Now, I know we’ve got nothing on Arizona or New Mexico in the heat department, but they cannot compete with us on humidity.  This makes heat a whole different animal. In Phoenix, for example, 82 degrees is 82 degrees. This is not the case in Indiana.  This afternoon, it was 82 degrees with a heat index of 102.  This is not OK.  Stepping out the front door feel like walking face-first into a warm sponge.

And do you know what my kids want to do?   Continue reading

Chorreadas (Costa Rican sweet corn pancakes)

Un desayuno costaricense muy rico!

Chorreadas (small)

By day, I am a high school Spanish teacher.  One month ago, two other teachers (good friends of mine) and I took a group of 24 students on a week-long trip to Costa Rica.  It was an amazing trip!  I had been twice before, but as a student.  This was the first time I have ever taken students on a trip anywhere, let alone out of the country.  IMG_2082Our students did an outstanding job, and we had a blast.  We hiked a waterfall, saw an active volcano, visited an organic farm, went zip-lining, did some snorkeling… it was amazing. Continue reading

Cherry Blueberry Ice Pops

Who knew cherries and blueberries could be so good?

Cherry Blueberry Ice Pops (large)

We just got back from a family vacation to the western part of Michigan (specifically Grand Haven and Muskegon).  The kids had a blast.  I’ve been to Lake Michigan before, but I had forgotten how beautiful that area is. Two things Michigan is well-known for are cherries and blueberries.  Two things I am well-known for absolutely hating are cherries and blueberries.  People think I’m crazy, but I have just never been a fan of most fruits, especially berries. However, when it was suggested that we take the kids cherry picking and blueberry picking, we jumped at it.  It sounded like a fun day, and just because don’t like fruit doesn’t mean my kids shouldn’t.

They had so much fun picking cherries! It made the long drive to the orchard totally worth it.  Before we knew it, they had picked 7 ½ pounds of cherries. And here’s the best part:

Reese ate cherries! Continue reading