Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with a Ribbon of Salted Caramel and Gingersnap Crust

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with a ribbon of salted caramel and gingersnap crust


Pumpkin and vanilla ice cream come together in this easy dessert!

It’s no secret that I love ice cream.  So when I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream Cake from Shutterbean, I wanted it.  She used pumpkin and vanilla ice creams to make a loaf shaped cake with gingersnap crumbs in between the layers. (I love the buttery way she treated the cookie crumbs!)  She also used pumpkin butter to up the flavor of the ice cream.

My first plan was to go with the Shutterbean recipe.  But I decided to go with a pie shape instead.  And I added salted caramel sauce  too.

This would make a great dessert for Thanksgiving.  Cold desserts don’t seem as heavy as other types of desserts for some reason.  Even when they are decadently sweet and rich, like this one.

The other beauty of this pie is that it can be made ahead of time.  That’s important, especially if you’re juggling a lot of other dishes for a big Thanksgiving dinner.  It also means that leftovers don’t need to go to waste, because it will last a long time in the freezer.

Here’s what you’ll need:    [Read more…]

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 10

3 Things that work in the kitchen


1.  Car picnic

Our youngest is playing volleyball now.  So we finished soccer season and have picked up volleyball.  The season got off to a quick start with two out of town games on Monday and Tuesday.

I hate to admit this – again – but I had no plan for Monday’s dinner.  And we had a soccer banquet that night too and I had no plan for that either.  (As my excuse, we had a lot of family in for the weekend and my focus was entirely on that.)  This lack of plan meant we grabbed fast food Monday night.

And I was determined not to do that again on Tuesday.

So I grilled some chicken in the afternoon, cooled it, sliced it and added it to tossed salad.  Easy. Nutritious.  Packable.  We ate it in the car between volleyball games.  So, so much better than fast food.

2.  Chicken marinating for the lazy and forgetful.



I really like the way marinated chicken tastes better than plain.  But I don’t always plan ahead for that.  One way to do it is use the lazy freezer method.  That works great!

But I didn’t have any chicken in my freezer this time.  So I grabbed a bottle of Italian dressing and doused the chicken right before grilling.  While it was still in the package.  It worked great!

Don’t be afraid to try shortcuts.

3.  Pancake Supper + Grocery Shopping

Wednesday night Jim was gone.  I still hadn’t been to the grocery other than quick runs for one or two things.  Pancakes and sausage for dinner worked fine.

My go-to pancake recipe is this whole wheat one.  I have it memorized so it’s quick to fix.

On Thursday I made it to the grocery with a printed list from Weekly Meal Plans.  I used one of the Traditional lists for November.  I changed up the soup recipe on the list for a new soup idea (tried it, liked it, sharing it soon).  I also added ingredients for a Thanksgiving dessert recipe idea. Hopefully, it will turn out and I’ll share that one soon too.

The color coding on the grocery lists makes swapping things out so easy!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?


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Weekend Links, Books and Thoughts

Books and Thoughts

I’ve searched all over the internet, looking for a post I read a long time ago on creating margin in your life.  I can’t find it, but the basic gist is that we need to have some white space and downtime in our daily lives.  Some need more of this than others {raises hand for more}.

We’ve had several very busy weeks in a row and not enough time to just Be.  The other day I found myself giving a friend that old, tired, worn out line about how tired and worn out I am.  Blech.  I hate feeling it, but when I start saying it, I know I need to find myself some margin.

I started reading Patsy Clairmont’s book, Twirl this week.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 9.06.15 AM


It’s an easy read, but thought provoking too.  She has a chapter called Decorate.  In it she talks about changing your attitude and rearranging the furniture in your daily life (figuratively).

I read that chapter on Thursday morning, which was perfect.  Thursdays are usually frantic, with too many trips across town to shuttle kids.

But after reading that chapter, I decided to rearrange the furniture of my Thursday.  I cut out some of the driving back and forth, added a visit to the coffee shop for lunch and work, and hit the grocery store in between pick ups for the kids.  This worked out so much better than my usual routine. Sometimes I just need to be shaken loose of my preconceived ideas.


Mia and I re-read a chapter from Little House in the Big Woods this week.  That led me to show her this post on making Head Cheese from Simple Bites.  I always wondered what headcheese was.  Now I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it, but it’s interesting to read about.

This Christmas Pledge from The Art of Doing Stuff (via Greenbacks Gal) is an interesting idea.  Use November to get ready for December, so that in December we can relax and enjoy (aka have some margin in our life).  I’m in.  What about you?




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10 Slow Cooker Side Dish Recipes

24 Ways to Make Dinner Cleanup Better – From the Practical to the Sublime

24 Ways to Make Dinner Cleanup Better from the Practical to the Sublime

Dinner dishes are a fact of life. And since it comes at the end of a busy day, pretty much no one looks forward to it. At least I don’t look forward to it.

Here are some ways to make the process easier and more enjoyable. The practical and the sublime. I’ll let you decide which is which.

1.  Work with your spouse.

Tag teaming dish duty not only makes it faster, but gives you a chance to catch up with each other.  Kids tend to clear out when it’s clean up time, leaving you to have nearly uninterrupted conversation.

2. Make the kids do it.

Then go read a book or watch a favorite show.

3. Try to start dinner with an empty dishwasher.

Easier said than done sometimes, but having the dishwasher ready to load is a huge help.

4. Wash as you cook.

Start dinner prep by running a sink of hot, soapy water.  Then quickly wash things as you go.

5. Use all cotton towels for drying dishes.

They absorb better than other materials.

6. Knit your own dishcloths.

Patterns can be found on MomAdvice.  Or buy some pretty ones off Etsy.

7. Get a good scrubby.

My favorite is this yellow smiley face scrubby from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Make Dinner Cleanup Easier

8. Buy a pot scraper.

Pampered Chef sells these little gems, but you can also get them on Amazon.

9. Consider using a crockpot liner.

Scrub free slow cooking is pretty nice.

10. Buy nice smelling dish soap.

I love Mrs. Meyers for scent.

11.  Use hard working dish soap.

But you can’t beat the way Dawn works.

12. Put on some happy music.

If you don’t own much music, try Pandora or Spotify.

13. Listen to a podcast.

My current favorites:
The Art of Simple Podcast
How They Blog Podcast

14. Listen to an audiobook.

15. Call a friend.

Use a headset with your phone or some other kind of hands-free device.

16. Buy a cushioned mat for in front of your sink.

This one’s nice.

17. Use a nice smelling counter spray to finish up.

Mrs. Meyer’s in Lemon Verbena is my favorite. It makes the counters shine and smell good too.

18. Enjoy the process.

This might sound a bit crazy, but when I stop and think about what I’m doing and take time to enjoy the warm water and good smelling suds, the dishes aren’t so bad.

19. Relish the quiet time.

Think over your day. Ponder at least three things you’re grateful for today.  Think of things you’re looking forward to tomorrow.

How to Make Dinner Dishes Easier Work

20. Pray

As you clean up and load the dishwasher, pray for each person who ate at the table that night.  I do this with laundry sometimes, praying for each family member as I fold their clothes.

21. Rinse dishes with hot water, but rinse the suds down the sink with cold water.

A hot water rinse will help your dishes dry better, whether you towel dry or air dry.

But when you’re all done and trying to rinse the suds down the drain, switch to cold water.  Detergents are designed to suds up in hot water, so cold will help them deflate and rinse away.

22. Find a dish drainer or drying mat you like.

Whether it’s a dish drainer that sits on the counter next to the sink, a small one that sits in the sink or a cloth drying mat, make some kind of place to put the dishes after you wash and rinse them.  As much as we’d like for everything to go in the dishwasher, the reality is that some things have to be hand washed.

Currently, we use a dish drying mat that hangs on a hook under the sink when not in use.

23. Store silverware, plates and glasses near the dishwasher and sink.

This makes putting away clean dishes much easier.

24.  Keep your counters clear.

Counter top triage is a constant in our house and we have one spot that seems to catch everything. But try keeping the counters clear of small appliances, pretty decor and other things.  You’ll have more work space.  And it’s a lot easier to clean when you don’t have to clean around things.


What’s your favorite way to make dinner cleanup easier?

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Easy Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins


If you’re in the mood to bake, but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it, it’s hard to beat muffins.  They are quick to mix up and quick to bake.

They can be served as a snack, dessert, or breakfast.  You can make up a bunch and freeze them.  Add them to a lunch box or eat them as you run out the door in the morning.

Muffins are just about the perfect baked good!

These Cinnamon Streusel Muffins have crumbly cinnamon curving through the middles, with more covering the tops.  And even though they really don’t need anything extra added, they are wonderful warm with butter spread on them.

Here’s what you’ll need to make them.  It’s all pantry ingredients that you probably have in the kitchen right now.  You don’t even need the little cupcake liners.  Just be sure to give your muffin pan a good coating with cooking spray.   [Read more…]

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 3

3 Things that work in the kitchen


$4 New Spatula


Why do I wait so long to make simple purchases for the kitchen?  I’ve had the spatula on the left for years.  It works fine, of course.  But the handle has gotten all dried out in the dishwasher. Every time I pick it up I have a desire to put lotion on it.  It just feels so, so dry.

I picked up the spatula on the right at Kroger the other day.  Four bucks and 30 seconds to find it and toss in the cart is all it took.  Flipping pancakes and grilled cheese is much nicer now.


Putting a new spin on ingredients for old recipes

I’ve been in a recipe creation frenzy. Partly because I’ve been creating and partly because I get a little stressed when I don’t have as many recipes to share here as I’d like.

This week I used ingredients from the Weekly Meal Plans grocery list to come up with new recipes. So instead of Chicken Fajitas and Southwest Steak and Cornbread Dressing – I came up with a new recipe for Salsa Chicken and Cornbread Dressing.

I can’t wait to share that one with you! It’s so simple and so full of flavor.

I also created another slow cooker recipe, a muffin recipe and a dessert that’s perfect for Thanksgiving time.

Better way to store eggs in the fridge

eggs in container

I usually just put the egg carton in the fridge.  There’s a skinny place next to the milk on the top shelf where a dozen-sized carton will fit.  But it’s too small for a carton that holds 18.

The other day, I came in with 18 eggs and already had 6 eggs in a carton in the fridge.  Since I was stocking up before having a lot of company for the weekend, there wasn’t much space.  So I pulled out a plastic container and was able to fit all 24 eggs in it.

eggs in fridge

Don’t judge my fridge and I won’t judge yours.

I really like the way the eggs fit in here so much better than leaving them in the carton.

What’s working for you in the kitchen this week?

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Weekend Links



A very encouraging post and a free printable of the image above from my friend, Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

On parenting, sports, realistic expectations and more.

This is just crazy and kind of scary. How can 4 girls, in two different incidents be led so far astray that they’d consider joining ISIS? (link via Joy the Baker)

My friend, Lynn discusses the price of butter with her readers on Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures.

Alison’s Fall Style Challenge is wrapping up this weekend.  The Fall challenge was the third one I’ve done.  It’s been a lot of fun and I still have a few of the outfits to try.  For several days I had a terrible cold and my OOTD was a bathrobe and slippers.  And there were a couple of days where it was too hot for a sweater or scarf.  I’m looking forward to trying the outfits I missed.


And now registration for the Build Your Wardrobe Basics is open.  This one is geared toward women over 40, although women of any age who are interested in building a classic, basic wardrobe will be interested.

I’ve already registered for this one.  I expect that I’ll own quite a few of the pieces, but I also know I need to update a few things.  Like a good pair of black pants.

The thing I love about these challenges is the shopping list.  I hate to shop and I’m bad at it.  But with Alison’s list, it’s so simple.  It’s like the grocery lists that go with my own Weekly Meal Plans.

Speaking of Weekly Meal Plans – The November plans are being uploaded today.  If you want to know what you’re having for dinner each night, shop with a color-coded list and always have a well-stocked pantry then check out Weekly Meal Plans!

eah weekly meal plans 3


This post contains affiliate links.
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Our Menu for a Weekend Family Gathering (including our “Fakes-giving” menu)

Tomorrow my sister and her kids and my parents are all coming to our house!  We’ll be celebrating Peter’s 20th birthday (how am I old enough to have two kids in their 20s??).

We’ll also be having and early Thanksgiving dinner (dubbed “Fakes-giving” by the kids), because my nephew is headed to Marine bootcamp in mid-November.  This is the last time we’ll all be together for a long while.

Enchilada Dinner

Peter requested enchiladas for his birthday. That seems easy enough for 13 people, because some of it can be made ahead of time.

white enchiladas

I’ll be making a double batch of these White Chicken Enchiladas.

grilled chicken and cream cheese enchiladas done

I’m also making Enchiladas with Chili-Tomato Sauce. The photo above is actually Grilled Chicken and Cream Cheese Enchiladas, but it’s so, so much better than the photos of the Chili-Tomato Enchiladas, I thought I’d spare you a little bit.

Of course we’ll have chips, guacamole and salsa. And a big salad to combat the cake and candy.

Speaking of cake, Peter requested Pudding Cake. It’s not the most beautiful (and the photo is pretty bad), but it tastes great!  It’s chocolate cake that makes it’s own pudding-like sauce.

Not that anyone needs cake with all the candy that will be around, since it’s Halloween, but that’s what happens when you’re born on October 31.

Early Thanksgiving Meal

My mom is making most of this meal. She’s baking a chicken or a turkey breast. Here’s a recipe for an easy Turkey Breast in the Slow cooker.

turkey breast in slow cooker

And of course we have to have Chicken and Dumplings (or turkey and dumplings).  Mom has already made the dumplings and frozen them. We’ll cook them up on Saturday.

chicken and dumplings done

Cornbread Dressing is a must have for us.

apple cornbread dressing done

We make homemade Cornbread Dressing, but the photo above is Apple Cornbread Dressing that starts with a box mix.

We’ll also be having some vegetables and cranberry sauce.

gingerbread with lemon sauce

And for dessert instead of pie, we’re having Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce.

Another good option would be these Gingerbread Bars with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

gingerbread bars with orange cream cheese frosting done

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  I know we will.  We’re definitely going to be eating good!

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15 Minute Tacos with Chipotle and Garlic

McCormick Tacos with chipotle


We love tacos at our house, and we love trying different types of taco recipes.

Last week we had one of those nights when everyone needed to eat at a different time.  Tacos are perfect for those nights.  The meat can be made ahead of time and in just a few minutes.  Then each person can assemble their tacos when they’re ready to eat.

Lucky for me, McCormick had just sent me a bunch of their new Skillet Sauces.

I had ground pork in the freezer, so I browned that out quickly and chose the Taco with Chipotle and Garlic Sauce to add to the meat.

McCormick Taco


We loved the flavor of it.  The tacos were saucy, with a nice amount of chipotle taste.  Not too hot at all, but just a great flavor.  The sauces are made with McCormick’s all natural herbs and spices.

Did I mention that the meat was saucy?  We don’t like dry taco meat.  These didn’t even need extra taco sauce added.

McCormick Tacos with Chipotle and Garlic

15 Minute Tacos with Chipotle and Garlic
  • 1 lb. ground beef or pork
  • 1 packet McCormick Taco with Chipotle and Garlic Skillet Sauce
  • Lettuce, tomato, cheese and other taco fixings
  • 12 taco shells
  1. Brown the ground meat in a large skillet.
  2. Pour in McCormick Skillet Sauce and heat over medium heat.
  3. Serve in taco shells with all the fixings.

McCormick’s new Skillet Sauce comes in a variety of flavors.  Some are even able to be used in the slow cooker too.

McCormick skillet sauces

Smoky Applewood BBQ Chicken with Bacon

Taco with Chipotle & Garlic

Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry

Sweet & Smoky Sloppy Joes

Fire Roasted Garlic Chili

Fajita with Roasted Chili, Garlic  & Lime

Sicilian Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Garlic

We also tried the Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry last week.  Since I’d been sick with a cold, these came in so handy!  I used frozen popcorn chicken and broccoli with the Sesame Chicken Sauce and it turned out great!  So easy!

Disclosure:  I have been compensated and was provided McCormick Skillet Sauces.  However, all opinions are my own.


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