November 25, 2016

My Favorite Things: A Holiday Gift Guide 2016

I'm here to kick off another of my "favorite things" gift guide. I put one together last year and had a lot of fun doing it. Here are some things that I own and love and a few I'm putting on my wish list!

FOR THE FOODIE

1. Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker: If you haven't noticed by now, pressure cookers are making a major comeback! And they're not the scary, could-possibly-explode stovetop ones anymore. They're electric and so easy to use! I got one for my birthday and I've had so much fun trying it out. You can make ANYTHING in them and quickly, too. Soups, whole chickens, a roast, meat dishes, veggies, yogurt and even dessert! The Instapot seems to be the crowd favorite, but I got this one for $70 at Kohl's and love it.
2. OXO Good Grips Silicone Cookie Spatula: I got a couple of these as a wedding gift years ago and they are my favorite spatulas. Not only are they perfect for scooping cookies up off the baking sheet, but they work great to flip pancakes, french toast, eggs and are great with ceramic pans.
3. Tramontina Ceramic-Reinforced Nonstick Fry Pans: Speaking of ceramic pans, I've been wanting some forever now and at $30 for 3 pans, these are awesome! I've loved them so far because they are the easiest pans to clean and they cook food so evenly. Make sure to read the instructions on how to care for them to be sure they'll last!
4. Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons: I've recently switched over to using stainless steel cups and spoons for measuring and I love them! You get an even measure every time and they can't melt on the dishwasher drying element or break like the plastic ones. ;) Plus they're pretty. Win-win.

FOR THE ARTSY ONE
1. Citrus on Black Print: This is a print I had wanted forever and my husband finally bought it for me for my birthday. Isn't it the prettiest photograph? It looks perfect in our kitchen! It's a digital download and can be printed up to a 24x32" poster size. The artist also created one with a white backdrop. They're both so awesome!
2. Sharpie Pens: I got these for Christmas last year and love them. I use them primarily for journal writing and the best part is they don't bleed through the page! It's fun to use something other than a black pen to write with once in a while. And the price can't be beat!
3. Umbra Hangit Photo Display: This right here is my new favorite piece of artwork. I wanted something to hang 4x4" prints of my Instagram photos that I could rotate often and I found the perfect solution. It's now my favorite thing to look at in my home. You can connect your Instagram account on Walgreen's photo website and they'll print the 4x4" photos for you. And don't forget to check for a coupon, they always have 'em!
4. Chatbooks with Rifle Paper Co.: We all know by now that Chatbooks are the thing to have when it comes to making your Instagram account a keepsake, but this year, Rifle Paper Co. has collaborated with them and the books are GORGEOUS. Rifle is amazing every time. These would make the best gift, too!

FOR THE BEAUTY GURU
1. NYX Eyebrow Cake Powder: I like to keep things simple when it comes to makeup, but I couldn't believe how much I loved this stuff. I've never filled my eyebrows before, but a little bit of this powder gives them so much more definition. And not in an overdone way at all. It's crazy how spotty eyebrows seem without it. It stays on all day and comes off super easy at night. Love it!
2. NYX Eyeshadow Base: I saw this on a blog one day and was intrigued. It seems weird to put white on your eyelid before you put on eyeshadow, but man does it make your eyeshadow last so much longer. And the colors pop more, too! It only takes a little bit to do the job and you'll love the results.
3. NSPA Exotically Creamy Coconut Rich Body Butter: I got a little sample of this and am in love! It is so moisturizing and has the BEST smell ever. It is also sold on Amazon (for more than double the price), but you'll get it faster.
4. Tiny Letter Initial Ring: I bought a couple of these with my boy's initials on 'em and love the simplicity of them! There are 4 different finishes to choose from and you can't beat $13 for a custom sterling silver ring!

MY WISH LIST
1. Quarter Sheet Pans: I barely found out these existed and I'm so excited to get me some. There are so many times when I want to warm up or cook something small in the oven and all I need is a little pan. Enter these quarter sheet pans. Brilliant!
2. The I Heart Naptime Cookbook: I recently started following this blog and Jamielyn's cookbook looks amazing! So many family-friendly, easy and delicious looking meals! Can't wait to get my copy!
3. The Pioneer Woman Collection: I love the Pioneer Woman and her product line at Walmart is beautiful! So many pretty dishes, cookware, bakeware, etc. This floral one has always been a favorite and she comes out with a new line every few months. Be sure to check out her new holiday collection!
4. Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven: I have wanted an enameled dutch oven for years, but have never wanted to dish out the dough. Then the other day I was walking through Sam's Club and found this beauty. Only $40! And it comes in so many great colors. So excited to get this and start putting it to use!

And there you have it, another fun gift guide! Hope you can find something for your friends, family or even yourself!

*This post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own.

November 18, 2016

Baked "Fried" Chicken

I have had this chicken recipe for a while now and now having made it several times, it is still one of my favorites. I'm not big into frying food at home so when I found this recipe for baked "fried" chicken, I had to try it. There are so many fun techniques to make this chicken seem "fried" and it tastes amazing!
The melted butter in the bottom of the pan is really what puts it over the edge. I've never had chicken quite like this and it goes perfect with any side, especially mashed potatoes. The best part is, you don't even need a sauce to dip it in. It's that good!

Baked “Fried” Chicken
Slightly Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings
10 chicken tenderloins
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
3 Tbsp. butter
Spice Mixture
1 Tbsp. salt it won't taste salty
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. smoked or regular paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder

1. Mix spices together in a small sealable bag. Add 1 tablespoon spices, 1 cup buttermilk and chicken to a large freezer bag and marinate 6-24 hours. Store remaining spices.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (foil will NOT work because the chicken sticks to it). Add butter to baking sheet and melt in oven while it preheats. Remove baking sheet once butter is melted.
3. Mix together flour, panko, cornmeal and remaining spices in a large bowl. Add half of this breading mixture to a large freezer bag.
4. Remove chicken tenders from buttermilk and allow excess marinade to drip off.
5. Add half of the chicken to the breadcrumb bag and shake until well coated, pressing the breadcrumbs into the chicken with your fingers through the bag. Lay breaded chicken in butter on baking sheet. Add remaining breadcrumb mixture to bag along with remaining chicken and repeat.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden then carefully flip chicken and bake another 5 minutes. Then broil to desired crispiness.

November 16, 2016

Mexican Street Corn Salsa

I know that this is more of a summer side dish, but this post is LONG overdue. We have honestly made this about 4 times in the past few months and it is a new family favorite. I tried a couple of different recipes and this one, with some tweaks, is the best. My husband requests that we make it all of the time and it is so easy to throw together!

While I've never had a Mexican-style corn on the cob, the flavor combination always sounded good to me so I decided to give it a try. Let's just say I was not disappointed! So much flavor and the best part is you could have this year round! It would be the perfect addition to any party and you won't even feel bad if you eat the entire bowl yourself!

Mexican Street Corn Salsa
Adapted from Chef in Training
3 cups fresh, canned or frozen corn
1 Tbsp. oil
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 fresh small jalapeño, finely diced and seeds removed
3 Tbsp. chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
1 cup avocado, cut into small cubes, optional

Dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Heat oil over medium heat, Add corn and cook until corn starts to char, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
2. Combine corn, black beans, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and cheese in a large bowl and gently toss.
3. Combine all dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour over salad and gently toss. Serve room temperature or refrigerated with tortilla chips.

November 14, 2016

Crumb Banana Bread

Man oh man, it's been a long time since I've blogged and for good reason. I had another sweet baby boy back in October and it's been quite the ride the past month trying to adjust. Things probably won't be "normal" for another year, but we can at least pretend.

Anyway, I thought a good banana bread recipe would be the perfect thing to share now that it's getting colder, darker and everyone is in the baking mood. I'm sure you're all sick of seeing pumpkin recipes and it's a little too early for peppermint so we'll go with banana.
This banana bread is dense, fluffy, moist and has the perfect crumb topping. It would be great with a glaze, but it's also perfect just the way it is.
I about ate the entire thing by myself and I blame the intense hunger from nursing, but I probably would have eaten most of it on my own anyway. It's that good.

Crumb Banana Bread
Slightly Adapted from Oh Sweet Basil
2 bananas, mashed about 1 cup
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

Crumb Topping
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. butter

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
2. Mix together the bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and applesauce. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients then add to the wet ingredients and mix again.
3. Pour in greased loaf pan.
4. In a small bowl, using a fork or your fingers, mix the crumb mixture together and sprinkle the crumb mixture on top.
5. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.