Carmelitas

 Carmelitas

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Oh my, simply heavenly. This is heaven in a bar, well as close to heaven in a bar as one could possibly imagine. I mean this with utmost respect to our Heavenly Father as well. :) I love these precious little puppies more than you know. This will FOREVER remind me of high school volleyball team dinners. Our entire team LOVED my mom’s cooking and always requested Chicken Alfredo with my moms homemade sauce and these delicious dessert cups.

The memories are fond but the bars are even better than that. I turned my non-loving oatmeal man into a oatmeal lover with this simple dessert. Michael hates oatmeal in any cookie as it “ruins” the cookie entirely. Well, to his great surprise, he became a oat-lover within one single bite of this heaven in a bar.

See for yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 jar caramel sauce
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips

Grease a 9×13 bake dish and set aside. Meanwhile, mix together flour, oats, salt, baking soda and brown sugar together in a stand mixer.

Add in melted butter and mix until combined.

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Take half the mixture and press into the baking dish reserving the other half.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Remove from oven and top with chocolate chips

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And drizzle the caramel sauce one top of the chocolate chips.

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Drop the remaining mixture onto the top of the chips and caramel sauce. 
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Return to the oven and bake an additional 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting. 
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Enjoy with a delicious glass of milk or cup of water for those who are like me and despise milk. :)

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Tater Tot Casserole

Tater Tot Casserole

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Have you ever enjoyed a good comfort meal full of flavor, creamy and deliciousness? There is nothing more satisfying than a wonderful meal full of comfort especially on a cold, cloudy day.

This meal will forever remind me of post pregnancy and my mom visiting and helping out for two weeks. She made this meal and it was one of the only meals I would/could eat. I was sick as a dog but this cheered my upset tummy to no end. My tummy craved tater tot casserole made from the very hands of my adorable mother.

Not only was this meal great for post pregnancy but my mom was recently in the hospital as well. This meal is the epitome of hospitals and healing, full of comfort. Praise be to God as my mom is doing okay and has high spirits given the situation! Bless her soul.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp minced dried onion
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups fresh green beans (frozen works too)
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup**
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 32 ounce tater tots

In a large skillet begin to brown the meat with chopped dried onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

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Stir in chopped onion.

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Cook until meat is no longer pink and onions are tender.

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Turn on low heat and Cream of mushroom soup**

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Mix together well and pour into a greased casserole dish.

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Top with green beans

IMG_6479Sprinkle with cheese and…
IMG_6468Top with tater tots.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min -1 hour. Or until bubbling and tots are golden brown.

IMG_6471Let stand for 15 minutes and serve.

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IMG_6474MMMMMM amazingly comforting and great for healing.

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**If opting out of using the cream of mushroom soup. Follow these instructions:

When it comes to adding the cream of mushroom simply add in

  • 6 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Continue as normal with the remainder of the recipe. :)

Sweet And Savory Crockpot Beef Stew

Sweet and Savory Crockpot Beef Stew

Fall weather is officially taken a turn and come to land in Portland for the next few months. I know this to be true because at 3 am when I heard a ticking sound, I thought to myself how something horrible was about to happen. But in all reality, that horrific sound that scared me still as could be was only our rain gutters. They finally failed to keep up with the rain that was quickly filling to the brim. The amount of rain these past few days had been impossible to keep up with. Needless to say, my evening scare was fulfilled with something entirely meaningless which allowed me to peacefully fall back to sleep.

I do love the cool crisp mornings, but I must say, I truly do not enjoy the rain for extended periods of time. A little here and there but not torrential downpour for days. There’s something about a rainy day that is comforting but not a hurricane taking over my life. I may be protesting a bit because my son loves outside no matter the weather. Tornadoes and hurricanes mixed with a little snow and ice and my son wouldn’t know the difference as long as he was outside playing. I on the other hand, can handle being outside if it’s not too nor too cold. Hmmm we shall see how this will play out the remainder of winter. I’m a little snow bird who loves to bundle up by the fire with socks, jammies (aka pj’s), blankets and a hot cup of tea or coffee. God changed my life when he brought not only a baby to my life, but a boy.

Enough of my complaining about the rain, I have many months I can continue this banter on rain as it is just beginning. ;)

Anyway, Michael’s step dad was coming over for pumpkin carving and dinner. I always enjoy a cozy meal on a beautiful fall day. This meal was perfect and allowed me to spend time carving pumpkins rather then slaving away in the kitchen.

Here’s what to do:

First- have a rainy day (check)
Second- have pumpkins (check)
Third- have a crockpot and LOVE to use it (check)

VIOLA, watch the magic happen!!!!!

Ingredients:

  • I lb Stew Meat
  • 1 cups baby carrots (as is)
  • 4 Celery Stalks, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 6 Red Potatoes, chopped
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 4 tbsp beef Bouillon
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 2 1/2 tbsp flour

In a crockpot add stew meat, carrots, celery, onion and potatoes.

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Add in water and beef bouillon and stir.

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Top off with rosemary, bay leaf, garlic, pepper and parsley. Allow to sit for 6-8 hours on low heat.

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20 minutes before serving, take a cup of broth and add flour. Mix together until no lumps are present. Pour into the stew and give it a good stir. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with fresh garlic toast and a fresh cut green salad.

While the crockpot was cooking, I was enjoying watching my son try and drill holes into his pumpkin.

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“Cheez” my boys scooping out the guts…

Yes that’s right, Cooper has scissors in his hands.

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The pumpkins are coming to life…or maybe that’s just us.

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Marlin, Michael’s step-dad getting in on the magic as well.

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Helping daddy cut some eyes out.

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And here is masterpiece in action. 
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Carving pumpkins is never really “my thang,” but I do it for the simple joy it brings my son to watch things transform and get goop all over his hands. It was fun and we had a great time together with good food and good conversation.

Flavorful Beef Stroganoff

Flavorful Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Wanting a recipe that is beyond easy, tastes fabulous and is wonderful for company? This meal is all three combined.

I first had this dish while visiting my sister one night and all of us devoured the entire dish. There was absolutely NO leftovers. Isn’t that the type of meal you want to serve your guests? Isn’t this the type of meal you want to be served if visiting family or friends?

I tell ya, this meal is literally too easy but amazing!!! I can’t stress to you enough how important the Dijon mustard is and I would encourage you all to use exactly what the recipe calls for because this is the “secret” ingredient that makes this meal stand out!

See for yourselves!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2-3 tbsp beef bouillon (or 1 packet Auju Mix)
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 16 ounce egg noodles cooked to package instructions

Heat oil in skilled and add chopped onion.

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Add in mushrooms and cook until softened.

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Add in ground beef and cook until no longer pink.

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Stir in beef bouillon (Auju mix), mustard and pepper.

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Remove from heat and add sour cream and fresh parsley. Serve on top of egg noodles and enjoy with garlic toast and Caesar salad.

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My sister graciously gave me this recipe and is allowing me to share with all of you this amazing, delicious, easy meal!

Happy Birthday To Me

My birthday was this past weekend it was fabulous. Before I get into it, let me start by saying it was a very good birthday full of yummy food, date night and family breakfast.

BUT— lets pull the reigns on the horse for a minute and begin by stating how wonderful my birthday was last year. Last year we were in the Bahamas and Orlando for 14 days and it just happened to fall on my birthday! Okay, I may have planned it that way! :) Needless to say, it was a fabulous birthday and though this years was amazing, nothing beats a great Bahamian vacation.

IMG_3556Michael and I enjoying our wonderful travels. My husband is a must travel guy. What this means is this, he is in desperate need of a new vacation every year AND he is a great trip planner; always finding deals and steals making our trips affordable. 
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Just looking at this picture makes me realize how beautiful our world is and how small we are in comparison. We have such beauty at our fingertips. Praise God for beauty as it makes life more relaxing.

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It was paradise.

We even traveled with the little munchkin and he did AWESOME!!! He is the worlds best traveler.

Okay, enough reminiscing.

This year we went to coffee and pastries with Cooper since later that night we would be going on date night to dinner and a movie. We had yummy pastries at St Honore Bakery and fun time walking around the last Farmer’s Market for the year.

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Later that night, we enjoyed date night with dinner and a movie. The concept is almost too simple but so worth it to me. I’m a simply gal and enjoy the little things.

Having a HOT dinner, without kids and full of good company and good food. A movie that’s entertaining, not on our couch and again, without my sweet little baby, though I love him, I enjoy a little time to myself and rarely get it. This is a wonderful way to get away!

I enjoyed myself a good 12 ounce Rib Eye and crab cakes.

My 29th birthday

For dessert we had the original New York Cheesecake! Mmmm mmm mm it was delish!

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And the movie we saw was The Judge. It was so worth it and had a couple tears shed but for the most part it was a really good movie.

Time well spent as a husband and wife on my birthday.

Happy birthday to me and it really was! Nothing beats family time!

Thank you hubby for a wonderful birthday and thank you Cooper for being my son! :)

Sausage Brie Quiche

Sausage Brie Quiche

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No matter what it is, I LOVE breakfast. I LOVE LOVE breakfast.

Okay, so there’s a couple breakfast places that I frequent and I treat myself to their quiche because I love crust, or anything that has carbs in it for that matter… AND I love breakfast.

Lately, I’ve been craving a good quiche and figured I would make my own for dinner instead. Who says you can’t have quiche for dinner? You can and you should! Boy oh boy oh boy, this is probably my favorite quiche to date. It is soooo tasty my mouth longs for this delicious treat. Anything homemade is well worth the time spent making it.

By the way, the difference between a quiche and a frittata is the crust. It all lies within the crust and though I enjoy myself a good fritatta, I will choose a quiche over a frittata any day simply because of the crust. So why do people call it a “crustless quiche,” I’m not sure to be honest, maybe they want it to sound more appealing than a frittata while making it more complicated for everyone else. Who knows.

Enough said, I think you get the picture and my deep desire for a good crust and good breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 12 Eggs
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 Brie Cheese, chopped
  • 1/2 shredded cheese
  • 8 breakfast sausages, cooked and sliced
  • Pie Crust (grandma’s pie crust is the best, I simply half the recipe)

Make crust and lay in the bottom of a greased pie plate. Set aside

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine eggs and half & half. Whisk together for about 1 minute. Add in parsley, salt, paprika and garlic salt. Stir well.

Add in chopped tomatoes, brie and cheese.

Combine sausage and give it a good stir. Poor over crust.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the middle does not wiggle. :)

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Served with crunchy grapes and a toasted croissant with garlic butter.

Tired of Life

Tired of Life

Exhaustion, fatigue, lazy, tired, pj’s, sleep, sweatpants, bed, pillow, blanket, backache, headache, achy and feeling sick all the time.

This is how I have felt for the past two months. I’m sick of complaining about it but most of all I’m sick of not feeling good. It is beyond discouraging. I cannot figure out how to conquer the way my body feels right now. I’ve tried working out, I’ve tried drinking coffee all day long. I’ve tried getting more sleep. I’ve had less sleep. NOTHING has worked. My body literally is worn out.

Thanks to cynthiacavanaugh.com

Thanks to cynthiacavanaugh.com

Realizing this morning that life is utterly draining and everything is meaningless–to a point. Christ created us for so much more and lately I’ve really been struck with the fact that I long for heaven. I long for heaven in a way I’ve never longed for before. We love life so much and hold so tightly to the exciting things we get to experience while here in our temporary home. We hesitate to say we are ready for heaven, but why is that? Everything we enjoy in this life will be in heaven but ten times more unimaginable than we can even dream up. We tend to portray heaven as a last resort when it should be our first priority. Heaven will be more fun than anything we could do on this earth. The beautiful scenery, waterfalls, blue beach water, sandy beaches, beautiful sunsets will all be that much more beautiful in heaven. Plus, I believe there will be more to see than what we see here on earth.

And to be completely honest, women love fashion and I will hold to it that these things we enjoy, we will also get to enjoy in heaven but will probably be piddly compared to what we believe about fashion these days. Our priorities will change completely but it’s not wrong to hope for certain things in heaven. God created pleasure and godly pleasure will not disappear. Our minds can only fathom what lies ahead. So why not take the plunge, why not yearn for heaven unlike anything we have ever yearned for. No tears, check! No heartache, check! No cancer or illness, double check!

If we learn to long for heaven, we will learn to live for heaven. What I mean is this. We will begin to make our days count. Our time spent with the kids will become more meaningful. Our date nights will be better spent communicating about things that matter rather then fighting over parenting our children. We will learn to live for heaven if we choose to long for heaven.

I look at my son in the midst of the trials of life and realize how this innocent boy is directly effected by what his parents endure. Our kids have no choice to avoid our conflict, irritation, outbreaks or sleepless nights. Our attitudes result in our response to our children. They learn by what we do, not what we say.

It makes me sick that our hardships in life influence our children on such a direct level. Resulting in an attitude change either in insecurity, emotional hardship, tantrums or for older kids, the silent treatment. Their lack of understanding results in them trying to pick up the pieces in their own way, while trying to make sense of something that was normal the day before, or maybe an hour ago. Their world gets turned upside down while we wish it didn’t touch their lives. Like it or not our attitude transfers to them. Our circumstances directly effect our children. This is the price we pay by living in a fallen world.

So, are your kids yearning for heaven? Are they talking about Christ and living a life of fullness? Probably not and you may even think I’m crazy for posing such a question. But think about it, isn’t that our purpose here on earth? If you believe this, than why wouldn’t you teach this to your children? Everything that has breath, shall praise the Lord. There’s no age limits and restrictions for making our life count for God and Him alone!

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Thanks to www.southerninlaw.com

We need to learn to keep perspective.  We need to ask God to use us on a daily basis not only with friends and activities, but within our own home. We need to remember what this life is all about when we get caught searching for something more; something more fulfilling than the mundane of life. Though your children are simply being kids, remember that they learn by watching YOU.

So lets take it back to the basics. Life is tiring, busy, uneventful, too eventful, routine and unpredictable. When these feelings start to set in, I have to remind myself why I am a mom, wife, friend and daughter. God has a great purpose here for me and I need to be willing to take on that task. I must not let my life pass by and have no purpose or goals. Though this world is dark, scary, painful and full of fear and sickness, God will bring redemption and manifest Himself in the darkest holes of life, the holes we think no light can enter. That’s right where God is. Do you see Him? Do you feel Him? Probably not, but He gives you that strength to take your next breath and remind you that this is OUR TEMPORARY HOME. We must not feel comfortable, embrace each day and keep your face to the sky asking for God’s glory to shine on you and give you the strength you need for that very moment.

We can only see a glimpse into the bigger picture. Don’t let your broken view be skewed by the world around you.

Moment of Truth: What would it look like if you started longing for heaven and the riches of Gods glory each moment of every day while you still live in your temporary home? What would you change in your daily routine to keep Christ the fulfillment of your day?

Faith is remembering that in the kingdom of God everything is based on promise and not feeling. Rejecting the feeling of panic when things seem out of control. 

~Pamela Reeve

Cowboy Cookies

Cowboy Cookies

Cowboy Cookies 1

I met a dear of friend whom I haven’t seen in about 8 years the other day at the park. We have been friends since the second grade. She was in town with her family and we had a couple hours to catch up. We finally got to meet one another’s kids and talk life is if no time had passed. It was such a refreshing time and I love how true friendships pick up right where they left off.

We decided to have a picnic at the park and I had treated Cooper to bacon mac n cheese and a cowboy cookie. This inspired my cravings for more oatmeal cookies but the whole gambit was involved in these delicious cowboy cookies.

Cowboy Cookies

Meanwhile, Michael is not a fan of oatmeal cookies so I made him his treat and than proceeded to make these for me. :) Needless to say, he still adored these cookies as well and ate quite a few….not trying to throw him under the bus or anything, but the truth must be told. :)

You can’t beat a giant cowboy cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chip cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a stand mixer combine butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.

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Beat until light and fluffy (roughly 2 minutes).

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Add in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat well.

Combine oats, coconut and nuts.

Fold in chocolate chips.

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Drop large spoonfuls on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes. Do not over cook or they will taste dry.

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Original Fluffy Pancakes

Original Fluffy Pancakes

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My son has been asking for pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“Cooper, what would you like for breakfast? Eggs or oatmeal?” Cooper replies “Umm…no egg, I want pancake.” This sweet little voice and jumbled sentences keeps me making pancakes for this little weasel. Than lunch time approaches and I ask Cooper if he would like some chicken, pear and yogurt for lunch. He quickly replies…””umm no, I want pancake.” Realizing he just had pancakes for breakfast I opt for my choice instead.

This cycle has been very continuous this past week and by all means, he got pancakes for dinner one evening. His sweet, tiny little body needs calories and I’m quick to force them down. Fine, you want pancakes, alright with me as long as we squeeze in our fruit and vegetables.

With this in mind, our pancake mix has been running low. I have been using our Blueberry Oat Pancake Mix until this morning when I was in need of making more. This time I opted for simple, original and delicious pancakes with this yummy recipe.

This sweet child not only steals my heart with his cute little voice but today he decided to surprise me with silence for a solid 15 minutes. Sneaking back to my room where I had last left him, I find him all snuggled in bed with the television on.

He managed to not only pull to covers up to his neck and settle in, but he also managed to flip the tv on begin scrolling through the channels. I started laughing because he has no clue how to turn the tv on as we only watch the movie Cars with him. He doesn’t watch cartoons or any other movies. He pushed the right button for once and got the tv to come on.

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I put on a little preschool show for him and he quickly lost interest and proceeded to jump on the bed.

Silly goose. I was so shocked and thrilled that his silence was due to snuggling in bed! No messes made!

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Cooper absolutely loves pancakes and the best part about all my mixes, is you can add eggs when cooking to add some protein and extra fluff.

Original Fluffy Pancakes 

For the mix:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

When cooking:

  • 1 eggs
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 1/2-3/4 cup milk

For the mix, combine all ingredients and store in a glass container.

When cooking mix all three ingredients together and cook on a griddle.

You will notice how fully they get…

Pancake

Smother in butter and cover in syrup. Nothing beats a pancake breakfast!

Pancakes

They will be extra fluffy and even more delicious!

Jalapeno Burgers

Jalapeno Burgers

IMG_7435Michael has been longing to make burgers from scratch. I went to the store and picked up the ingredients to come home and be told he did not want turkey but hamburger meat. He is an extremely visionary man and wants what he sees. I must embrace this about my husband as his food visions are always very delicious and must be followed by the imaginary picture inside his head. I headed back to the store again and was quite pleased a couple hours later with his masterpiece.

Michael’s step dad came to embark on this glorious dinner and brought fresh tomatoes from his garden. Fresh vegetables simply make everything taste better. This fresh jalapeno burger with tomatoes literally was mouthwatering.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Ground Beef
  • 8 oz Gorgonzola Crumbles
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup Jalapenos
  • 1 tbsp Teryiaki Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Montreal Seasoning
  • 4 Ciabatta Rolls
  • 4 slices pastrami

Toppings:

  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Munster Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Mayonnaise (optional)

In a large bowl combine ground beef, Gorgonzola, Worcestershire garlic salt, jalapenos, teryiaki and montreal seasoning together. Mix together with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours (you do not need to refrigerate the meat but this helps the flavors soak in).

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After three hours, form meat into 6 patties and toss onto the barbecue.

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Meanwhile, while the burgers are cooking, fan fry the pastrami until lightly fried. Top with pastrami and cheese and allow to melt. IMG_7428Prepare your toppings and compile your burger.

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Be prepared to be wowed and watch the juices flow. The jalapenos make this burger incredible and not too spicy. OH-MY-GOODNESS, makes me want one right now!

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Served with sweet potato fries and a fresh cut green salad.