We went out to eat this week at a local Mexican Restaurant . My cute Aunt Diane was out here from Utah for a quick visit. She is the super bubbly, generous, funny, and loving type. We were all happy to spend some time with her and soak up her enthusiasm for life. We were sitting in the restaurant catching up and perusing the menu when we decided that we should definitely order the queso dip as an appetizer. As I started to order for myself and then my kids, the queso dip somehow got lost in the back of my mind. It never got ordered. Never fear! I decided to make it the next day to fill that craving! It is fantastic served immediately after being done cooking. Get your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy this warm, cheesy, tasty dip. And a word to the wise: After chopping your jalapeno pepper, wash your hands! I know from first hand experience. I almost lost an eye last night! Ouch!
Restaurant Style Queso Dip
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1/3 cup white onion, finely diced
- 1 large jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, finely diced
- 12 ounce white American cheese, shredded
- 4 ounce Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
- 1/2 to 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
- 2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
- 1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper until softened and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the shredded cheese and 1/4 cup of the cream. Quickly stir until the cheese is melted. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and additional cream a little at a time until you reach desired consistency. Serve immediately with tortilla chips
One of my favorite quick and easy dinners is chicken tacos. Throw the chicken in the crock pot in the morning with some spices and water, and by dinnertime you have yummy, seasoned chicken for many nights to come! This week was Quinn’s birthday (February is a big month in our household) so for the family party I kept it simple with chicken tacos!
Seasoned Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
- 4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 4 cups water
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
Place chicken in crock pot. (frozen or thawed) In a large mixing bowl combine water with ALL the remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined and then dump on the chicken. Cook in crock pot for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. I like to shred the chicken about an hour before I am going to serve it so that it can soak in all the spices. I simply give it a quick shred in the crock pot then put the lid back on. Transfer to mixing bowl when ready to serve and give it a good shred. Use for chicken tacos, soups, salads, etc.
I had the best time this past weekend. Me and a couple of girlfriends drove up to beautiful Sedona, Arizona and spent the weekend. We had gourmet meals, went shopping, received massages at the hotel Spa, and oh, there was that half marathon we ran. We leisurely made our way back to the real world on Sunday afternoon, but stopped for a quick lunch at Nordstrom’s Cafe on the way home. Coincidentally, we all ordered the Magic Bar for dessert! I feel like this is one of those desserts that is an oldie, but a goodie! My husband loves them, I love them, it is a win win. If you’ve never had one, you have been missing out. They are gooey and sweet and irresistible. In case you don’t have a good tried and true Magic Bar recipe, this is the one!
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Poor the sweetened condensed milk over the graham cracker crust. Then sprinkle walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and coconut flakes on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool at least 20 minutes and then cut into squares.
It’s THEE Lucy Jane’s Birthday today! She is turning 3. She is happy and social and oh so girly! When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday, without hesitation she answered, “strawberry cupcakes.” So Lucy and I spent the afternoon making her birthday strawberry cupcakes. (She loves to bake like her momma.)
Here is what we came up with:
I used my Vanilla Cupcake recipe and topped it off with a strawberry frosting and fresh strawberries on top. We just finished devouring them and they are so delish! The strawberry frosting tastes just like strawberries ‘n’ cream ice cream. This is a definite must for a good old fashioned summertime treat! (which starts here in AZ in about 2 months!)
- 2 sticks butter, slightly softened
- 6-8 fresh, large strawberries (puree’d)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- fresh strawberries (for garnish)
Cream butter in mixer for 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and milk. Mix until combined. Then add strawberry puree and add the remaining powdered sugar. Mix well.
So what is a baby shower without a little something your guests can take home? Jordan almonds perhaps? (One of my faves!) Or maybe a cute decorated sugar cookie? I decided on a homemade brown sugar scrub. So easy to make and definitely affordable! And did I mention that Shannon was actually out here this weekend for a visit? So I put her to work! We tested our homemade recipe and made a few changes, but it turned out great. (she was nicknamed “The Drizzler” because her job was to drizzle the oil on the sugar mixture.) Seems like an easy task, right? After trial and error, Shannon came up with the perfect sugar to oil ratio. Good job, Drizzler!
So here is the easiest,affordable baby shower favor! And in case you are wondering, it works super fabulous! The sweet almond oil softens the skin, and the sugar is an amazing exfoliator! I have the softest elbows and heels on the block! Maybe there are no baby showers in your future, I still say make some of this to enjoy in your own shower or tub! (To fill 24 half pint jars, I made about 6 batches of this scrub)
Brown Sugar Scrub
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1-2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for smell purposes!)
- 1-2 (8 ounce bottles) sweet almond oil
- mason jars (choose a size you like! I used wide mouth half pint jars)
In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Transfer sugar mixture into single mason jars. Drizzle the almond oil on top of the sugar mixture until coated, then drizzle a wee bit more. Use a fork to combine oil into sugar mixture. (if you like a less oily scrub, use less almond oil. If you find you like it more oily, add some more) Put lids on mason jars and close tightly.
I wanted the treat for the baby shower to be sweet and simple. Nothing too overwhelming because it was at 10 in the morning, but something cute and dainty. So it was an easy choice to go with a mini vanilla cupcake. I used buttercream frosting and died it pink. And honestly, these cupcakes are delicious enough to stand on their own without the frosting! But I am a frosting lover, so I piled it on!
Basic Vanilla Cupcake
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup cour cream
- 2/3 cup buttermilk or milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. (about 4 minutes) Add the eggs 2 at a time and mix until combined. Then add the sour cream and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add buttermilk/milk. Beat on meduim low for one minute. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to batter and mix until combined.
Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners and fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. For mini cupcakes, bake for 10-12 minutes.
Butter Cream Frosting
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 8 cups powderes sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat butter in mixer for 4 minutes. Then add 4 cups of the powdered sugar, a splash of milk and the vanilla. Mix on medium until the sugar is combined. Then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, adding milk to get the consistency you want. (for thicker frosting you will not use the whole 1/2 cup of milk. For thinner frosting you will use the entire 1/2 cup) For these cupcakes I added about 8 drops of pink food coloring.