I've Been a Blogger Slacker & My Favorite Sick "Spiced Tea"

Seriously, I've been fighting off a vicious sinus/head cold thingy since the day after Christmas. While I've been able to keep from taking me down completely (scary flashbacks to last March when it took everything I had to drag myself out of bed for weeks) with some "garlic juice," spiced tea and probiotics, it is still taking its toll on me.

In the midst of the nastiness I picked up a freelance job and Disney money trumps the blog any day, sorry folks! I mean, I could find the time during the day to squeeze in a post, but I'm pretty sure the kids still want to eat and have clean clothes and we are not in an unschooling season, so skipping lessons isn't out of the question either.

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Favorite Holiday Recipes & Memories

Celebrating during the holiday season is different for every family, but what most have in common is a love of food and celebrating local flavors with favorite holiday recipes. Often times our favorite recipes have been passed down through multiple generations and those special ingredients are able to help us create memories that last a lifetime.

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Favorite Recipes of the Fall Season and a Few New Recipes to Try

Paula Deen's Pumpkin Cheesecake @FoodNetworkWhat are my favorite recipes of the fall season? Well, let me tell you, I love them all! It is the time of year when the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg fill the air, pumpkin tickles your taste buds and a comforting soup warms your heart.

My all time favorite recipes include a delicious pumpkin cheesecake, broccoli and cheese soup and apple cobbler, but this year I’m going to try my hand at a few new recipes I discovered over at Betty Crocker and see if we can add some new favorites to our family recipe book.

Caramel-Butter Apple Cheesecake

Cheescake for FallOkay, my mouth literally began to water when I came across this one. I mean really the words caramel-butter and cheesecake together…swoon! With a total time of 9hr and 5m from start to finish I’m going to have to be extreme baking mode to pull this one off, but it will make into my fall baking schedule (maybe even twice!)

Apple-Cinnamon Butternut Squash Soup

Healthy Fall SoupOther than the sodium content, the nutritional information on the rich and hearty looking soup is great. Just imagine diving into a bowl for lunch for only 130 calories, .5 grams of fat and no cholesterol. What’s the secret, it utilizes fat free Greek yogurt to get that creamy texture.

Quick Cranberry Punch

A Cool Punch for FallIt may be fall, but we are not exactly breaking out the sweaters here in sunny Central Florida. Sure, the temperatures have dropped a little allowing us to enjoy the outdoors without dripping with sweat, but it is still shorts and flops weather for sure. But this punch sounds like a great transition from the summer staple of lemonade into a recipe a little more fitting for the fall season.

Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Bars (Gluten Free)

A Gluten Free Fall DessertOnce again, they have offered up that word I love so much, cheesecake, and combined it with the fall recipe staple, pumpkin. These bars look really tasty and they are gluten free. Even though the total prep and bake time is a little over four and half-hours, these seem really simple to make.

Zucchini-Carrot Bread with Creamy Honey Spread

Veggies and a Honey Spread in a Fall BreadOh, bread how I love thee! Seriously, I’m a bread addict; I could eat bread all day long and be happy happy girl. You know what makes me even happier, a break that sneaks in some good for you veggies for my bread-loving son who isn’t as fond of his veggies. Best yet, we get to top it off with a honey spread. I cannot wait to try this recipe out!

Do you have any tried and true favorite fall recipes to share? What about a new one you would love to try. Leave me a comment with your Pinterest ID so I can add you as a contributor to my Fall Cooking & Baking Board so you can share them with us all!

Get Out of the Summer Food Rut with Red Hot Summer Trends from Betty Crocker

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I’m sure many of you are guilty of falling into the same rut as me about halfway through the summer when it comes to food. You start out ecstatic that you can finally break out the grill and dig into some grilled burgers, ripe tomatoes and fresh corn and then you hit the “Didn’t we just eat that” brick wall.

I broke out of our usual summer fare rut after browsing through the Betty 10: Red Hot Summer Trends, garnering inspiration from their colorful, vibrant and trendy new recipes that will definitely add some more flare to your mid-summer table.

Forget the Meat, Veggies Reign Supreme Here

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When you just can’t handle another bite of barbeque or perfectly charred beef switch up your menu with a Monster Veggie burger and Green Garden Fries or a Greek Grilled Cheese Taco.

The veggie burger is a feast for the eyes with layers a chick pea patty flavored with a variety of herbs and spices tucked between avocado, tomato, cucumber, sweet pepper and lettuce.

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Serve these tasty looking garden fries, made of “sugar snap peas, broccolini, asparagus and/or zucchini” with the complementary lemon yogurt dip for a complete meatless Monday meal.

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I took inspiration personally this week from the grilled cheese taco, which layers a rainbow of veggies and cheese in a soft tortilla when I made summer squash tacos. They were tasty, healthy and definitely, a nice retreat for our usual meal time drab, here as of late.

Beat the Heat with Some Reinvented Treats

Do you get bored serving your kids or your guest the same old cold treats while fantasizing that you are standing in a foot of snow instead of the sidewalk that can cook an egg. Well then, put these Red Hot Summer Trends on your “must try” list.

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Forget the heavy cake and melting icing and your next summer birthday, try out these Lemon-Ginger Icebox Cookie Cupcakes instead. With layers of cool whipped cream and sweet sugar cookies, how can you go wrong?

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If you really want to add some extra chill, add in these Fruity Fro-Yo Fun Bars, they are frozen yogurt times fun.

Need More?

There are plenty of other hot trends on the Betty 10 waiting for you including adult worthy cool downs in the form of rum infused ice pops and beer snow cones, pickles with a kick and the ultimate in fusion food, smores meet pie!

While you’re picking out your new favorite summer trend recipe to try, check out the DIY crafts from Erica Domesek, who has teamed up with Betty Crocker to help add “sizzle to your summer!”

So, tell me, have you tried out any of the Red Hot Summer Trends from the Betty 10 yet? Which one would you like to try?

This post was written by me for Betty Crocker and MyBlogSpark. I received no compensation for this post, monetary or otherwise, I just really like food! All opinions are mine, the great recipes are courtesy of the Betty 10.

A Mock Turkey Dinner for Warm Weather

Forget the Work and the Pounds

You don’t have to be chef to get creative in the kitchen. Though I love to cook, I’m certainly not a chef, and you will find that in this post, as I have no precise recipe to share, just a few ideas and tricks for you.

There are so many cold weather comfort foods that I love, but let’s face it, you don’t exactly want a heavy or steamy meal in the 90 degree Florida weather, so that is where the creativity comes in for recreating one of my favorites, Thanksgiving Dinner.

Let’s start with the main protein, four bones in spilt chicken breast. I feed four adults and three kids with just four because at least one breast is usually huge, so I share with the kids. It’s easy to lose perception of proper portion amounts when the meat comes in cuts like this, but most of the time you can share a breast.

I place the chicken breast in deep glass baking dish and thoroughly cover with Maple Grove Farms of Vermont Fat Free Cranberry Balsamic Dressing. There are actually chunks of cranberry in this dressing and it is delicious. The only other thing that goes on the chicken is a light sprinkling of sea salt. Then it is off to the oven on 350 degrees for about an hour to an hour and half depending on the size of the breast.

To go along with my mock turkey breast with cranberry I sauté about 15 Yukon gold potatoes, 5 yellow squash, 1 small Vidalia Onion, 1 Tablespoon of red bell pepper, 1 Tablespoon of dried cranberries, 2 Tablespoons of butter, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, 3 cups raw mushrooms with sage, thyme, parsley to taste and a dash of salt and pepper.

Yellow Summer Squash

You see, I’m utilizing a great summer veggie along with mushrooms from the local farm with the herbs and spices common to stuffing and thanksgiving to get a much lighter side dish.

As an additional side, when I cooked this tonight I sliced some Kaiser rolls we had left over from the bakery that were on the verge of being overly crusty, topped with a tad of butter, garlic and cheese. Some fresh yeast rolls or whole grain bread hot of the oven would be great too though.

Do you have any favorite cold weather comfort foods that you recreate for the warm weather?