Friday, August 19, 2011

Dining Room Table Discussion: Life's too short

  A conversation with a co-worker/friend last week sparked something in my spirit about living in the now.  She was talking about how young people have the need to prove themselves. As you get older, you no longer have that need.  You’re comfortable with who you are almost to the point of pride (“don’t step on who I am, do you know where I’ve been to get here!”)  I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’ve come far as a human/Christian/wife/mommy, but I know that there is so much more ahead to shape and mold me. 

It’s easy to look back and say “what if I would have done this?” or “why did I do that?”  It’s also easy to get anxious for the future “how in the world will this ever work?”  “There is no way I’ll ever get through this.”   But I have to remember that there is no joy in that…only grief and worry.  Sometimes it’s only a matter of perspective, and what lens your looking through.

The other night, Jarrod and I went out for his birthday (thanks g-ma and g-pa for babysitting.)  We went to watch some music downtown.  We used valet because there was nowhere else to park.  After the show was over, we were waiting for the nice gentleman to pull our car around.  We were looking at all the nice cars come up; a BMW, a Porsche (hey, there’s a lot of money in Nashville), a couple of nice jeeps, and then up drives our car…dirty blanket hanging out the back window we use to hide the sun from Jes’ face, diapers in the console for a just in case moment… We laughed.  We could have gotten all sad because we didn’t have all the money that everyone else does.  We could have wished that we were all hip and cool like the other people, but we chose not to.  Yes, we are parents. Very lucky parents to a beautiful healthy girl.  Parents need a night out too.  So maybe our car isn’t spotless, and maybe the payments aren’t as much as a mortgage payment, but it gets us to where we are going.  Plus, if we cleaned it out, Jesalyn wouldn’t have her toys to play with on the way to the grocery store.  So, there we were, the two of us, laughing.  We chose to see humor instead of wishing we were someone else. 

Isn’t that what it’s all about really?  Enjoying where you are in life…Right. Now.  Because, that’s all we are promised.  Today. Yesterday is over and tomorrow might never come. 

I keep thinking of a Darius Rucker song called “It Won’t Be Like This For Long.”  

A quick piece of it (but you definitely should look the full song up)

He lays down there beside her
‘Til her eyes are finally closed
And just watchin’ her it breaks his heart
Cause he already knows

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon that little girl is gonna be
All grown up and gone
Yeah, this phase is gonna fly by
So, he's tryin’ to hold on

‘Cause it won’t be like this for long

Choose to look through the lens of happiness, life is just too short.

Friday, August 12, 2011

S'mores Cheesecake Bars

So, I'm just going to go ahead and tell you to double this recipe and make it in a 11x14 pan. Because this 8x8 stuff just doesn't cut it.  This dessert is way to good and will go way too fast if it's left in a room by itself.
You take cheesecake (DE-licious) and pair it with smores???!!!  It really doesn't get any better than that. 

Let's get started shall we..

  Line an 8x8 square pan with tin foil

In a bowl, combine butter, graham crackers, and sugar

Have you see that commercial for spreadable butter?  It shows all the different ways people try to soften their butter so they can spread it on their bread.  It's a little ridiculous I'll admit, but I always think of it when I'm melting my own butter.   I use to soften/melt mine in the microwave when we had one (we got rid of it like 4 years ago.  Who needs extra radiation when you have a stove that will do the same thing?)  Now, I melt it on the stove.  But I don't actually turn the stove top on (why waste the energy). If the oven is on, it creates enough heat to melt the butter just sitting on top.  I learned this the hard way when I left a package of brown sugar on top.  I picked up the bag and the plastic stayed.  Brown sugar disaster.

So now, anytime I bake I just preheat the oven and get the butter started while I prep the rest.

...10 min later

...and back to the recipe...

With a fork, combine the grahams, butter, and sugar until it comes together.

Pat down evenly in the foiled pan and bake for 30 min.

Take out and let cool on a wire rack

Melt chocolate in a double boiler on the stove.  Normally, I don't go through the hassle of creating a double boiler.  I just melt it on the stove with a watchful eye so that it doesn't burn.  But for sake of this recipe, I thought I would show you what it looks like.  A note of caution here:  If you know anything about chocolate, you know that one teeny tiny drop of water in melted chocolate will ruin it for good.  You might as well toss it in the garbage because there is no going back.  This also includes steam.  So if you choose to do the double boiler method, do not, I repeat do not, lift that bowl once the water below it gets boiling.

All nice a silky. Once melted.  Turn off water, and once it has stopped boiling, remove chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, beat together with a hand held or stand alone mixer,  cream cheese, marshmallow cream, and sour cream. 

Beat in cocoa, vanilla, and eggs. 

Stir in melted chocolate

Pour into graham crust and top with mini marshmallows (forgot to take a picture of this step.)

Bake until marshmallows are melted together.  At this point you are suppose to take it out and brown the tops with a kitchen torch.  I don't have one of these so I browned it under the broiler.  It will brown very very fast. Do not take yours eyes off of it or it will burn, almost like mine did (unless your one of those crazies, that likes to catch you marshmallow on fire before you eat it.  Even so, that is probably a safety hazard inside, so watch them.)
Take out of oven and let cool.  I was going to drizzle the tops with chocolate and make it look all pretty, but I had to cut it short to take my baby to the ER (everything will be fine, just needs some rest to recoup.)

Once it is completely cooled, put in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

S'mores Cheesecake Bars
For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup marshmallow cream
2 tsp. cocoa powder
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the topping:
1½ cups mini marshmallows
Milk chocolate chips, melted (optional)

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8x8" baking pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl.  Stir together with a fork until well combined.  Press the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Bake 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the filling.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F.

To make the filling, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and marshmallow cream.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and eggs until incorporated.  Stir in the melted chocolate until well blended.  Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until the center is just set (does not jiggle when shaken gently.)  Remove from the oven.

Evenly top the cheesecake layer with the mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just long enough so the marshmallows begin to melt into each other.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows.  (Alternatively, this can be done underneath the broiler with a very watchful eye.)  Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted milk chocolate if desired.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.

Source: Annie's Eats

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Scones

So after this mornings post I was heading out the door to go to work.  Because I spent most of the morning writing, I didn't have time to fix breakfast for myself. Instead, I go to the freezer to grab something quick and that's when I realized that I forgot to share with you my chocolate chip scone recipe.  I don't know how I could forget something so good.  Ya'll, this recipe is so easy!  It's one of those things that after you make them you will say to yourself "if only I had known this recipe sooner!!"   The best part about it is that you can freeze any leftovers for a morning that your too busy to make breakfast. 

The recipe came from Hershey's and I pretty much followed it to a T (except I used the mini chocolate chips.)

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt

Stir in chocolate chips (I chose to leave out the nuts)

Pour in whipping cream and stir until just moistened

Pour out onto a floured workspace

Lightly form into a ball.
This is not a yeast dough. Although the directions say knead, don't let this step scare you.  Simply work the dough a couple of times so the it stays together and doesn't fall apart.  

Separate into three separate balls
With your hands or a rolling pin, flatten each ball into a circle and cut into eight triangles

Transfer to cookie sheet and brush with melted butter (I didn't grease the baking sheets like it says, and I had no issues with them sticking.)

If you want to freeze these, let them cool completely first.  After cooled, put them into a ziplock bag and and toss into freezer.  When you're ready to eat them, take out desired amount and let stand at room temperature until no longer frozen


  • 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 2 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Additional granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar (optional) 


  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  2. Stir together flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired.
  3. Stir whipping cream into flour mixture, stirring just until ingredients are moistened.
  4. Turn mixture out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently until soft dough forms (about 2 minutes). Divide dough into three equal balls. One ball at a time, flatten into 7-inch circle; cut into 8 triangles. Transfer triangles to prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with additional granulated sugar.
  5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar, if desired. 24 scones.
Source: taken from

Nothing but a little knowledge

I got nothing fabulous for ya this morning.  But oh just you hang on.  I've got a few recipe rolling around in my head to try out very soon.  One, is a request from one of my kind of, sort of friends from high school turned, could be best buds if we lived in the same town  fabulous readers.  That recipe takes a couple of days off from work, laundry, and a screaming child to do, but I never turn down a challenge so it. will. get. done!    And, and this is a very fun AND, my mom is coming to visit this weekend so the hubs and I can go out on a date (I think I remember what that is.)  Since my mom was the very first baker I knew, I'm going to have her help me with a recipe I've wanted to make for a long time, but never had the guts (or time) to try it:  Croissants.  Croissants are time consuming and I hear can be a bit tricky, but I'm gonna tackle it!  Lets do this thing!!!

But that's not until this weekend.  Until then, all I have for you is a word I learned at work yesterday.  I love learning new words....

Per Stirpes:  "Taking by right of representation; the group or class receives by representation and in equal shares what their deceased parent would have been entitled to receive.

 The common usage in wills and trusts is "to my then living descendants, per stirpes."

What this language means is that if you have two children and five grandchildren who survive you, then each of your children will receive a 1/2 share and the grandchildren will receive nothing. If, however, one of your children predeceases you and is the parent of three of the grandchildren, then the surviving child will receive a 1/2 share and each grandchild will receive a 1/6 share (in other words, the deceased child's 1/2 share will be divided equally among the three children who have survived the deceased child: 1/2 divided by 3 = 1/6 each).
Contrast this to "per capita," or by head count: "to my then living descendants, per capita." In the above example with two children and five grandchildren who survive you, the children and grandchildren will each receive a 1/7 share, while in the example with one child predeceasing you, the surviving child and grandchildren will each receive a 1/6 share."

Source: taken directly from

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tex Mex Quesadilla

 This is by far the best quesadilla I've eaten.  What's better is that I just threw the ingredients together one night.  Who would have thought that it would turn out so delicious.  I think it's the combination of textures with the chicken and the beans.

Cook the chicken on the stove

 With two forks, shred the chicken

Add scallion, garlic, salt and pepper

I was never much of a Rotel fan until now

Add the entire can to the chicken once cooked

In a separate bowl, mash beans up with a fork

Add garlic powder and cumin. You might have to add a dab or two of water to make the beans spreadable.

Lightly oil a clean skillet

Start layering your toritlla
With a spoon, spread a layer of bean mixture on the bottom tortilla

Add cheese.  I used pepper jack here

and then the chicken/rotel mixture

More cheese (mozzarella here)

and top it with another tortilla.

cook until both sides are nice and brown

 Throw in some sour cream and a glass of ice tea and you've got yourself a meal!

1 package of chicken ( I think mine was about 1pd)
1 scallion
2 good sized cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of Rotel, drained
 1 can of black bean, washed and drained
1-2 tsp of cumin (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp of garlic powder 
2 tortillas
cheese of your choice
Dice chicken and cook in an oiled skillet on the stove.  Once cooked, shred chicken
Mince scallion and garlic and add to cooked chicken (Do not overcook the garlic.  If it starts to turn brown, take off the heat.)
Add can of Rotel
In a separate bowl, mash beans.  Add cumin and garlic powder.
Assemble quesadilla and cook on the stove until golden brown.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dining Room Table Discussions: Kids or no kids

If you have spent any amount of time at our house, you know that somehow at some point, the night will end up in some deep discussion normally sitting around the dining room table.  Most of the time, it is theological based, but it could range anywhere from the newest movie out to "if aliens invaded planet earth, would they succeed in taking us over 100% of time."  Believe me, that last topic gets very heated and very winded (am I right Keyanna?!)   My husband, while typically quiet, is an internal thinker.  I, on the hand, like to to talk and discuss.  So, when he has something that has bothered/intrigued/interested him enough to verbalize it, I'm normally all over it.  And when we have company, it turns into a nice, healthy, debate.

There are times when we don't have company and we get to to "discussing" something in the news.  He is always very passionate about his side and how he feels.  I tend to play devils advocate and try to look at all sides of the story.  Two nights ago, we started talking about this restaurant owner in Pennsylvania that is banning children under the age of 6 in his restaurant.  When I first heard this story my thoughts were "what? As I mother I don't like that, but I guess I can see how some kids can be annoying to others.  If I were not a mother, I guess I could probably appreciate a restaurant with no crying babies."   I come home from work and my husband brings it up.  "Did you hear about this restaurant that is banning kids?"  I told him yes, and ask him what his thoughts are.  He had some very good points.  It doesn't matter if kids are loud and messy.  They are still people.  How is this not considered discrimination and illegal?  You can not ban different religions or races.  How would the senior citizens of the world feel if a restaurant banned  anyone over the age of 70, because they wanted to appeal to a younger crowd?

  I did a bit of research and it seems that there is a law that prohibits a business to discriminate against senior citizens.  How is this fair?  Why don't our children get the same rights as everyone else?  Yes, I know that babies and young kids can be loud and make messes.  But what about the 90 year old who has his hearing aid turned down and has to yell across the table?  Or the group of college students drinking  too much at the bar? I guarantee you, you don't have to be under six to be loud or annoying.  What will the owner do then?  Start picking and choosing what people he will allow in???

I'm welcoming you to my virtual dining room table:
What do you think?   Is this a good idea?  Is it discriminating?  Would you eat there?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I had today off from work and as I was trying to decide what to bake (what? doesn't everyone bake on their day off?) I had these bananas sitting on the counter just staring at me:

"please don't throw us in the garbage.  We may look a little rough on the outside, but we can do so much good if you just gave us a try"

So, I went searching for a banana bread recipe.  My momma has a delicious one, but I don't have the recipe written down anywhere (note to self: get momma's banana bread recipe.) While this recipe isn't in your traditional "bread" shape and I tweaked it just a bit for my tastes, it turned out delicious! Definitely a keeper.

First things first.  This is suppose to be baked in a bundt pan, but I didn't have one.  The closest thing I had was an angel food cake pan (although I have never actually made an angel food cake.)  It worked out just as well, only it might have looked prettier in the bundt pan.

Oil and flour pan

Cream the butter and sugar together

Add eggs one at a time

Add in mashed bananas

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl

Alternate mixing into the banana/butter/sugar mixture your dry ingredients

with the sour cream
Halfway through I had to switch bowls.  I didn't realize their was going to be so much batter

You know I had to add chocolate chips....

Pour batter into pan and bake

Once it's finished, flip it upside down onto a plate.  
This should not be a problem if it was oiled enough at the beginning, but I always get anxious trying to do this.
Place the plate on top of the pan.  The towel protects your hands if the pan is still hot.

Flip upside down.  I normally wiggle it a bit to get anything slightly stuck to the pan shaken loose.

Cross your fingers, say a prayer, wish really really hard.

Remove the pan.  Whew!   (Okay, so I realize this isn't that pretty.  Just imagine it all fluted from the bundt pan.)

Cut and eat (preferably with a big glass of cold milk)

The Recipe

2 sticks of butter
1-1/2 C + 2 Tbl of sugar
3 eggs 
1-1/2 C mashed ripe bananas (this was about 4 bananas)
4 C + 2 Tbl all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 C sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease and flour bundt pan

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.  Add mashed bananas and mix together.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add dry ingredients and sour cream alternately into the butter/sugar mixture, beating after each addition.   
Stir in chocolate chips

Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour and 10 min. or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  
Invert onto a cooling rack or plate and let cool before slicing.

Source: adapted from the pioneer woman