Monday, December 23, 2013

Pecan Pie Muffins

Pecan Pie Muffins

Hi everyone! This is an easy but great recipe! I first saw it from my friend Lisa. She posted a picture on Instagram and shared the recipe for these great Pecan Pie Muffins! Because the recipe was posted in one of her videos, I don't have anything to link back to. Many of you asked if I would share it so here it is.

One thing, these stick like crazy the to pan! I sprayed them well but because of the consistency of the batter, it's just going to happen. Even if you used muffin liners, the tops would still stick. When I shared this on Instagram, some of you mentioned using a silicone baking pan. I think I'll try that next time. Thank you! I also made a few mini muffins with left over batter and I think I may even prefer them that way. Seriously So Good!
*Update: This year I only made the mini version. I used mini cupcake liners and it worked out well. From now on, I'll only be making the mini version. 

Ingredients:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
2/3 cups melted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heavily spray your muffin pan with non-stick spray or use muffin liners. (I use the mini liners.)

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Use a small cookie scoop to fill mini muffins 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is done. Makes about 6 regular size muffins or 24 mini muffins.

Crockpot Apple Butter


Hi everyone! Another easy recipe today.

For more than a year now I've wanted to make my own Apple Butter. I fist saw on Pinterest how to make it in the Crockpot. Well, I'm just now getting around to it but it was worth the wait! Like always, I tweaked several recipes to make it how I wanted.

Crockpot Apple Butter


Growing up in Indiana, my family always bought Apple Butter from a local place and it was by far the best I've ever tasted! I'm happy to say that this tastes just like it! Even my Parents, who were in town for a visit, thought so. It's seriously amazing! My favorite way to eat Apple Butter is on a biscuit or piece of toast.

Ingredients:
10 apples peeled, cored, sliced  (I used mostly Honeycrisp with 3 Macintosh)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple juice

Directions:
Place apples in the crockpot. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugars and spices and pour over the apples. Stir to coat all of the apples.

Pour in the apple juice and stir.

Cook on low for 10-12 hours (I did this overnight) If you want it a bit thicker, remove the lid and allow to cook for a little longer.

After you allow the Apple Butter to cool a bit. Using an immersion blender, break up any chunks and blend to a slightly smooth texture. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can put in a food processor or blender. Just let cool before.

You could easily double this recipe. As is, it made about five 4oz mason jars. You can store this in the fridge for up to two weeks or freeze it for two months.

Easy Crockpot Beef Stew


Hi everyone! This Crockpot Beef Stew was a last minute idea I had for dinner this week. It's been cold here (below average) and something cozy and warm from the crockpot just seemed right.

Easy Crockpot Beef Stew


I've now made Beef Stew three different ways and I can say this was our favorite and by far the easiest! Just to let you know, we like a little extra potato in ours so I cut up four. If you don't, just use three. You may want to adjust the beef broth in this case as well.  Here's my original recipe in case you want to try that as well. :)

Ingredients:
2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
seasoning salt to taste
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cups Beef Broth (use 1/2 cup less if only 3 potatoes)
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small bag of baby carrots (or 4 whole carrots, sliced)
3 celery stalks, chopped

Directions:
Place meat in slow cooker (Crockpot) and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Pour over meat and stir to coat all of the meat.

Add the garlic and Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots and celery and give a good stir.

Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours OR high for 4-6

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tater Tot Casserole

Hi everyone! Today's recipe for Tater Tot Casserole is super easy but so yummy! Seriously, my Husband and I could have eaten this for a week! I mean, who does't love Tater Tots?! This is one of those comfort foods that just hits the spot.

Tater Tot Casserole


I did a little something extra and added a little sour cream. I also made it a tad bit healthier by using ground turkey instead of beef. I pretty much always do that though. Since using ground turkey, the package usually comes 1.3 lbs. We both agreed that there needed to be more when using a 9x13 dish. My measurements are going to be approximate of course because that's how I roll. :)

Ingredients:
2 lb ground turkey (or beef)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 can water
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheese ( I used a mixture of pepper jack and colby jack)
1 2 lb bag Ore Ida Tater Tots

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (as stated on the back of the tater tot package)

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the soup, 1/2 can of water and sour cream to the meat. Stir until mixed well.

Using a 9x13 baking dish, pour in the meat and soup mixture. Layer half of the cheese on top. Add the tater tots to the top and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tots start getting brown and crispy. Add the remaining cheese and continue to bake for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Hey everyone! Today's post is a recipe that I whipped up really quickly. That's what I love about easy breads like Banana Bread - they are fast! I saw we had some bananas that were getting over ripe really quickly. I had in the back of my mind that I might make a bread with them. Leave it to Instagram to inspire me to act on it. I saw where a friend had just posted that they made Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and I was sold!

I've made this recipe so many times and it's great each time. I admit that I don't think I've ever used chocolate chips in it though. I know that's really popular, just never thought to do it. I knew I had extra from the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies I had made recently for a cookie swap. I added a few handfuls, easy peasy! Of course you can omit the chocolate chips or even add other things like walnuts, etc. :)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (3 bananas)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Coat the bottom and sides of a 8x4x2 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, set aside

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt

In another bowl, combine egg, bananas, sugar, cooking oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stir until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Holiday Home Decor 2013

Hi everyone! I thought I'd share my holiday decor with you this year. We were out of town last year and didn't put up too many decorations. This year we're having some family stay with us, so I like to have the house decorated.

I'll admit, the older I get, the less into decorating for Christmas I get. It's a lot of work for a few short weeks. Since we moved 3 years ago, we don't have any family near us so that usually means we'll be traveling. We used to host both Thanksgiving and Christmas in our home in Florida so I really enjoyed it back then.

With a new home comes new decorations {at least for me} and my taste has changed over the years as well. I'm getting away from the typical red and green and moving towards more natural colors mixed with metallics. Metallics seem to go with everything in my opinion and become more of a neutral. If you could pick a picture out of Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalogs, that's my style in a nutshell. :)

The Dining Room/Entryway

This room is still in transition. I recently got new chairs. I decided to keep my table and buffet because I like the size and function of them both. Would like both to be darker eventually. I get asked a lot about the paint color in this room. It's Martha Stewart Mushroom.









The Family Room

The tree. It's 9 foot and huge. It's beautiful, don't get me wrong. It's just so heavy and a pain to set up. My poor husband, lol. His back probably still hurts. ;) This picture is before decorations. I spent so much time fluffing it that I just wanted to look at it "as is" for a bit. I still didn't add too many to it this year. It has so many lights and is so full that it even looks pretty without decorations added. It's old though and starting to show wear. We may get a lighter, slimmer 9 foot for next year. Hard to part with this one though.




The Breakfast Area/Kitchen

This bowl of grapes on our breakfast area table stays out all year round. Each year I jazz it up a bit with these metallic bell ornaments. They were very inexpensive from the dollar store or somewhere like that. I love adding decorations to bowls or glasses to make a room a little more festive without screaming Christmas. I used to put them in a martini pitcher I had on our bar in our old home. So cute!

I added a wreath to the pantry door for fall and got so used to it that I had to hang a Christmas one. :)




Outside

We added a few lights outside this year to some trees and bushes in the landscaping. You can't see them from this picture and I couldn't get them to turn out just right in the dark. Every year we decorate our front door. The lighted wreath is new this year. (I have it set to twinkle) I had a great one with red beads and berries that I loved for many years but sadly it faded too much over the years. Since we have a darker door, the lighted one looks nice. The two lighted trees are pretty old but you can find them just about anywhere.

Since we don't light up the entire outside of the house (don't want to kill the husband on a ladder) we've been putting simple wreaths with red bows on the windows. I always loved the way this looked on other homes. A simple suction cup with hook holds them up all season without worry.



Source List
Dining Room Chairs: Restoration Hardware/Sand Linen
Crystal Chandelier Ornaments: Pier 1
Chargers: Pier 1
Napkins:  Pier 1
Napkin Rings: Pier 1
Table Runner: Target {2012}
Mosaic Vases: Holly Lobby
4 1/2ft Tree and Skirt: Target
Pantry Wreath: Target
Wooden Houses: Holly Lobby {2011}
Outdoor Lighted Trees, set of 2: Kohl's {similar}
Outdoor Battery Powered Wreath: QVC {similar}
Outdoor Lighted Garland: Target
Outdoor Window Wreaths: Michaels
Bows on Wreaths: Target
{Everything else is either really old or from Target throughout the years.}

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Most Used Brushes - Foundation


Hey all! I get this question all the time - what's my favorite brush for ____? I do have an older favorite brushes video but I've added several to my collection since then. I also thought I'd break it down by category so it's not so overwhelming. Be sure to watch the video because I tell you why I like each brush and what particular foundation(s) I may use it with. :)

Products Mentioned:

Sigma F80
Sigma F84
Sephora Airbrush #56
Sephora Mineral #45




*some links may contain affiliate links

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

November Beauty Favorites 2013


Hey everyone! Happy December! So you know what that means, it's time to recap my beauty favorites for the month of November. If you're not familiar with "monthly favorites", it's where I tell you about all the things I used and loved for the past month. These can be new products or old favorites that I've rediscovered. I usually try to mix it up with hair, beauty and makeup.

What were you loving for the month of November? :)


*Links to any products mentioned listed in the video description.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies

Who doesn't love a cookie, right?! Recently I attended a Cookie Swap and these were the cookies I brought. To see all the amazing cookies and an awesome Hot Chocolate Bar, visit my InstagramChocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel came about from a few different recipes. I had made a similar version but more of a ball/drop form dipped in chocolate last year at Christmas. They were more labor intense so I made it more simple with these. I love the idea of salty and sweet!

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pretzel pieces
sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda, set aside
Using a mixer, mix peanut butter, butter and sugars on high until light and fluffy
Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined
Reduce speed to low and stir in flour mixture until combined
Stir in chocolate chips and pretzels
Chill dough for 2 hours (I speed it up in the freezer)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Line baking sheets with parchment paper
Use a small to large cookie scoop (depending how many you want to make) and place dough balls on the lined cookie sheet 1-2 inches apart
Lightly sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 14-16 minutes or until cookies are lightly brown on the edges

*makes approx. 24-36 cookies depending on size

Monday, December 02, 2013

Review: Perricone MD Blue Plasma Orbital



Hey everyone! My latest review is a skincare item that many of you were interested in. Perricone MD was kind enough to send me their latest product, Blue Plasma Orbital. As many of you know, I already use and love Blue Plasma. It's really been a game changer this year in my skincare routine. I love that it's a chemical free exfoliant but you get the same benefits. Blue Plasma Orbital is the same concept, just for your eye area.

You can purchase PerriconeMD products here:

Perricone MD Website

Sephora

Ulta


*This product was sent to me by the company. All opinions are my own. I am not being paid for this review.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Best of the Drugstore: CoverGirl

Hi everyone! Yes, I'm finally getting to the Best of the Drugstore! I've had this thought going on for so long but wasn't sure how to put it together. As many of you know, I asked in a past video if this was something you were interested in. Overwhelmingly yes! Next question - by brand or category? Brand won out but I'll also include a few categories like foundation. I know a lot of you are interested in that one!

Keep in mind there are tons of new products hitting the drugstore shelves weekly. And on that note, if you're someone who rarely shops at the drugstore, take another look. It's not the same as years past. Heck, even five years ago for that matter. Some really great, innovative stuff is hidden in there. I personally love shopping in the drugstore. No sales person bugging me and I love to just browse. :)

I started out with CoverGirl not knowing if I was going in alphabetical order or not, lol. As I'm typing this, they are launching new items very soon! Keep your eyes peeled for those.

As I stated in the video, keep in mind that I haven't tried everything from every brand. These are just the things I like and recommend. Let me know what your favorites from the brand are.

{other products shown in the video}







1. Instant Cheekbones Contouring Blush
2. Lash Blast Volumizing Mascara
3. Professional All In One Mascara
4. Lash Perfection Mascara
5. CoverGirl + Olay Concealer Balm
6. Outlast Stay Fabulous 3n1 Foundation
7. CoverGirl and Olay Simply Ageless Corrector/Concealer
8. CoverGirl and Olay Simply Ageless Foundation


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review/Demo: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness


Hi everyone! I recently tried the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness after months of being on the fence about it. If you don't already know, I suffer from a lot of redness in my skin and past acne scaring. This product claims to hide all of that plus give added skincare benefits! In the picture below I'm wearing only this and no foundation. I give a demo and more info on where to buy in the video. :)




What I'm wearing:

FACE - It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness, CoverGirl and Olay Simply Ageless Concealer on a few old acne scars, Rimmel Stay Matte on my nose only, Lorac Velvet Rose blush, L'Oreal True Match powder as a slight contour

EYES - MAC Painterly Paint Pot as a base, Sonia Kashuk Eye On Neutral Shimmer and Matte palettes, MUFE black pencil liner in the waterline, NYX Iced Mocha on the lower lash line, Jordana brown waterproof pencil on the upper lash line, CoverGirl Lash Blast mascara

LIPS - Milani All Natural liner, Sonia Kashuk Sheer Pink Lust lipstick

Top - Kohl's
Necklace - Forever 21


Hashbrown Casserole


Hi everyone! Today I thought I'd share a super easy recipe that will be the hit of any get-together. I first had Hashbrown Casserole years ago when my Mother In Law made it. She gave me the recipe and I've made it so many times since. It's become my go-to for pot luck and company parties. It's always the first to go! This dish is perfect at the holidays as well since it feeds so many. :)

Hashbrown Casserole



Ingredients:

1 large bag (about 2 lbs) Ore-ida Shredded Hashbrowns 
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 pint sour cream
1 stick butter, softened at room temp
1 tsp salt and pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup

Set Aside
1/2 cup crushed Ritz Crackers (about 15 crackers)
2 Tbs butter, melted

Directions:
Total Bake Time: 1 Hour
Preheat oven to 350 F
Thaw the hashbrowns by either leaving out on a counter or overnight in the fridge. (This will make it easier to mix) In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients EXCEPT the melted butter and crackers. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the crushed crackers and melted butter in a small bowl and set aside. Remove potatoes after the 40 minutes and evenly sprinkle the top with the cracker mixture. Bake another 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Hashbrown Casserole



Monday, November 18, 2013

November Ipsy Bag Review


All bags are slightly different depending on your own beauty profile you fill out on the site. Some items are the same brand but colors will vary. The monthly subscription is $10. 

Here's what my bag had in it:

1. .em Michelle Phan Creamy Color Sheer Lipstick - Nude - full size - $16.50
2. Be A Bombshell Lip Crayon - Hot Damn - full size - $14.00
3. Nailtini - Champagne - full size - $13.00
4. bh cosmetics Baked Eyeshadow from the Galaxy Chic Palette - Aphrodite - not for individual sale
5. Pixi Beauty - Beauty Bronzer - Subtly Suntouched - full size w/out brush - $18.00
6. Starlooks - Gem Eye Pencil - Topaz - full size - $14.00
Total = $75.50

Hi everyone! Let me start by saying this may be my last Ipsy bag. Not that this was a bad bag or that I've had bad luck with them. I'm just getting bored with it honestly. I do like the idea of trying new products that I might not have otherwise looked at but overall, it's lost the excitement for me. Not to mention, I only use a few items out of each bag and all those little bags are piling up!

 Lip Products -  I like the Nude lipstick from .em Michelle Phan. It's a nice sheer color and nice formula. I'm sure I'll get plenty of wear out of it. The lip crayon is just so-so for me because of the color. I like brights but this one doesn't really suit me.


Face and Eye Products - I actually like both of these. The baked shadow has pretty good color payoff and would be a great fall or holiday look. From what I could tell from the website, it's only available in the Galaxy Girl Palette though. Pixi is calling this a bronzer but as you can see, it's too light for that. Would make a great blush or highlight though. On the website it's shown with a kabuki brush included in the price.




I don't care for this pencil and not sure who could really use it. Of course there are the times that call for a very metallic look but I don't see me using this anytime soon. Or ever. 





Nail Polish - Now as most of you know by now, I'm sort of a nail polish lover/hoarder, whichever you like to say. This is the second time I've received this brand and I have to say I'm not wowed. Maybe it's the bottle? Take that back. Pretty sure it's the bottle. Just looks cheap to me and not inviting. This color is pretty but I know from experience it doesn't work well with my skin tone. 

Overall thoughts - I think I pretty much summed it up in the descriptions. Like usual, some products are nice, some I wouldn't use at all. Not bad for $10 per month though. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Makeup Geek Brushes

Hey everyone! In my recent video I share with you my thoughts on new brushes I tried out from Makeup Geek {MUG}. I've been wanting to try some of their products for quite some time but items are often sold out. Just keep checking back like I did though. It was worth the wait.

You can purchase the brushes and other makeup items on the Makeup Geek Website. I list links to the specific brushes mentioned in the video. Now on to the video so you can see what I thought of them. :)


Here's an up close look at my makeup from the video. I look so serious, lol. I used these brushes. All products listed in the video description. :)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: It Cosmetics Luxe Blurring Micro-Airbrush 7-Piece Brush Collection


Hi everyone! As mentioned before, I have quite a few things I'm testing out and reviewing. Some will be here on the blog, and others will be on my YouTube Channel so be sure to follow both. :)

I saw this brush set recently on QVC and of course was sucked in. That place is the master of making everything look great and a must-need product, right?! For the price, I thought this set was a great value! I also like the idea of the base to hold them. I'll run through each brush and also talk about the packaging, which is pretty impressive. You can purchase this set here on the QVC site.

What you get:
1. Eyeliner & Eyebrow Brush
2. Eyeshadow Crease Brush
3. All Over Eyeshadow Brush
4. Blurring Concealer Brush
5. Flawless Foundation Brush
6. Angled Complexion Brush
7. Airbrush Powder Brush

Also...

  • Gift Box with tag and bow
  • Stand for the brushes
  • Card describing each brush and it's use






My initial thoughts on the packaging were great! This would be a really nice gift. It comes in a heavy duty silver box with a bow and gift card attached. The box was also in a plastic bag, inside another clear box for protection.

I have mixed thoughts on the brushes themselves. For me, this set is more for someone just starting out in makeup or one that doesn't already own a lot of brushes. The stand is heavy and nice. The brushes however, are very lightweight and feel a little cheap. The hair is extremely soft, which is nice. Although for the larger two brushes, it's too soft and I think product placement might be messy. The smaller brushes are great but I probably wouldn't use them for eyes like they are intended. For my eyes {and I have larger lid space} they are just too big. The Foundation Brush is nice and probably my favorite, but the size is a tad small for it's use.

Because the brush handles are a type of metal finish, they are all scratched where they sit in the stand. Some might not notice this or care but I wanted to point it out incase you are giving this as a gift. You can see it next to the name in the photo below.


Overall, the packaging is very nice and would make a great gift for the $59.50 price tag. Just keep in mind who you are giving the brushes to as they may not be up to par for some.
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