Monday, January 30

Valentine Cowgirl Cookies

 recipe from

I am not much of a cookie person. When searching for some Valentine's Day recipe ideas, I came across this recipe for Cowgirl Cookies. The name is really what got me first. They just sound interesting. Upon further reading, I found out these are really Cow"boy" cookies but with red, white and pink M&Ms, so the baker changed the name. Not only do I think they look great for a Valentine's Day snack, they are so very yummy too. Needless to say, they didn't last very long.

1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup Valentine M&Ms
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup butter, melted slightly in the microwave
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir the first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the egg, melted butter and vanilla into the dry ingredients; using the back of large spoon to work it all together. You may need to use your hands to get everything incorporated.

Roll the cookie dough into 1-1/2" balls. Place on greased or parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Makes 26-30 cookies.

Friday, January 27

Photo Friday ~ Greenery

Do you see my little friend there? I could take photos of frogs/toads all day long. I am really itching for spring to get here so I can see some green again and all the new life that comes with it. Hurry!

Hope you all have a wonderful Friday.

I linked up with Photo Friday and it's Greenery theme for the week.

Thursday, January 26

Thursday Challenge ~ New

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
John Boyton Priestly

Yet another photo from my best friend's flower garden. It is full of beauty and life, just like her.

I linked up with Thursday Challenge with this week's challenge being New.

Wednesday, January 25

Dreaming the Dreams of Children

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.
Camille Pissarro

I want to curl up on the soft green banks, listening to the river gently flowing by me. Dreaming the dreams of children, if only for a little while.

I linked up with Lensday.

Tuesday, January 24

Valentine S'mores Bites

I love Valentine's Day! I don't care that's it's completely over the top commercialized or have the hang up that we shouldn't need a special day to show someone we love them. It's so much fun despite and because of all those things. I am a total romantic at heart. Combine that with all the hearts, pink and red and I am right in the middle enjoying the allure the day can bring. 

Before I blog this recipe, let me add a few things I did so I don't confuse you. Much. I originally intended to make these with heart marshmallows and couldn't find them anywhere. Of course they are in every store NOW. These would be so much cuter with them! So either use a heart shaped cookie cutter and heart shaped marshmallows or a round cookie cutter with standard shaped marshmallows. OR be a dork like me and use a heart shaped cutter and standard marshmallows. You pick. 

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
dipping chocolate
heart shaped marshmallows (I used strawberry flavored regular)
sprinkles (I used heart shapes)

Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together. Spread evenly into a foil lined 9 x 13 inch pan. Press down firmly, as firmly as you can using a spatula. This is important or when cutting the shapes, the base will break into pieces. Place in freezer for an hour. Remove the foil from the pan and use a mini cookie cutter to cut into shapes.

Dip the very bottom of the marshmallows into the dipping chocolate and place them on the top of your cut out graham cracker shapes.

Wait for them to cool. Then dip the whole thing back in the dipping chocolate. Place on wax paper and top with sprinkles.

Monday, January 23

Macro Monday ~ What is Art?

Do not concern yourself with the questions, "What is art?" or "Who is an artist?" Everything is art. If what you see and do comes from your heart, you are an artist. - Anonymous  

Good morning, friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend; how fast they seem to go!

I chose this quote today because I think it, in a way, reflects how I personally see myself. Take this shot. A pink clover flower about the size of a thumbnail. They pepper the fields here in Wisconsin and probably aren't anything but a spot of color underfoot to many. Yet I am quite fascinated at the detail and color of something so common and tiny.'s the little things.

I lined up with Lisa's Chaos for Macro Monday.

Friday, January 20

Slow Baked Macaroni & Cheese ~ Crockpot Recipe

 recipe from

Cheese, noodles, cheese and a crockpot. Did I mention cheese? This is another fantastic Pinterest find for our family. I love everything about it, including the part about serving my family a hearty home-cooked meal. Using my crockpot, pasta, cheese and staying away from boxed, processed foods. We were made for each other. Happy to say that this was added to our "favorites" list for meals. Perfect texture and flavor!

1-1/2 cups milk
12 oz. evaporated milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups (12 oz) cheddar cheese (medium cheddar makes this so smooth, sharp cheddar adds a great "bite")
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni, par cooked & drained (this means cook them for about 5 minutes until tender but not fully cooked)
ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
bread crumbs
olive oil

Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine milk, evaporated milk, eggs, butter and salt in slow cooker and whisk until smooth.

Add the shredded cheese (not the Parmesan) and macaroni. Sprinkle with black pepper. Stir gently with a spatula to coat evenly. 

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to low and continue to cook for at least 2 more hours. Until custard is set in the middle and pasta is tender.

Can be kept on low for 30 minutes before serving. 

Optional: Before serving, saute some bread crumbs with olive oil and sprinkle over the top. 

Thursday, January 19

And Then There Were Five ~ Meet Remington

It's no secret that I am a dog lover. Some of my best friends in life have been dogs. To me, a dog is not just a pet, they are a part of my family, a companion and a loyal friend. My very first puppy as a young adult, a Rottweiler named Thor, has long since gone to doggy heaven, yet I still think of him fondly and miss him often. 

In mid December, I walked into work and saw this face, this sweet adorable face. I don't know if it was the beautiful big brown eyes, the oversized floppy ears or the massive amount of "polka dots" that got me. I still don't know but what I do know is that I was smitten immediately. A local shelter had set up for the day with loads of puppies and kitties. A pen of the cutest Australian Shepherd puppies had the place already filled with admirers but I saw none of them, just this boy...

"Zach" is a 7 month old Coonhound. He was much larger than the other dogs and wasn't getting much attention. Isn't it funny how we all have our preferences and ideals so different from one another? 

I walked past him into work and as the morning went on, I visited him and asked questions wondering what the heck I was thinking? I called John, sent him pictures from my phone, dragged my co-workers out to meet him and asked the shelter what I needed to do to take him home. I could barely concentrate! Then they told me that Zach had others interested in adopting him. Was I serious about him, did I want to start the paperwork (they could obviously see how taken I was with him)? After some minor begging, John gave in and said if I really wanted him, we could bring him home. But. He was my dog. 

So, meet Remington. We renamed him and call him Remy. He is so sweet and so very naughty. The naughtiest dog I have ever known. He is young though and is learning quickly and I adore him so much. He is wonderful with Spencer and Dexter and him play and fight over food. 

I am not only happy to have a new friend, but also feel wonderful adopting him. I couldn't imagine him one more night in that shelter with no forever home. He needed a family, our family. 

So, say hello to my polka dotted puppy, who is eating all of my house and thinks he is a lap dog. He fits right in with our crazy life!

I linked up with Spun with Tears photo challenge "Toys". 

Wednesday, January 18

Ham & Egg Breakfast Burritos

Good morning, friends! This is such an easy, filling recipe. I have mentioned before that we rarely do breakfast here (except Spencer) but often have breakfast foods for dinner. Here is another meal that can be made at any time of the day and is great for the busy weeknights too when you want a homecooked meal but are running short on time.

You can easily mix this up with your own add on spices or ingredients too!

6 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tbls. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup diced fully cooked ham
4 (8 inch) flour tortillas, warmed

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add egg mixture and onions. Cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are completely set. Stir in ham and cheese. Warm ingredients.

Spoon egg mixture evenly divided between the 4 tortillas. Roll up and serve warm immediately.

I put extra shredded cheese on top and microwaved it for a few seconds to melt.

Tuesday, January 17

Homemade Garlic French Fries

I have a serious weakness for starches, particularly any type of potatoes. I can easily forgo the rest of the meal and just eat mashed potatoes or french fries. I don't, but the temptation is always there. 

These homemade fries were great! Nothing like a fresh steaming plateful right out of your own oven. Slightly crunchy on the outside with a soft center. With a side of ranch dressing...major goodness.


6 gloves garlic, minced or pressed
5 Tbls. olive oil
4 Russet potatoes, each cut into 10 - 12 wedges (I used my Pampered Chef crinkle cutter)
3 Tbls. cornstarch
1 tsp. coarse salt
1-1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine olive oil and garlic in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Sifting out the garlic as much as you can (leaving it in the bowl), transfer oil to a baking sheet. Coat sheet evenly with the oil. 

Add cut potatoes to the garlic left in the bowl. Toss potatoes to coat with the garlic. Plastic wrap the bowl and microwave 5 -7 minutes or until the potatoes are translucent around the edges. Shake the bowl to mix up the potatoes about halfway through microwaving.

Combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the hot potatoes and mix (toss) well, coating the potatoes as evenly as possibly. Try not to stir them as the fries will break apart.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on oil prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges, around 35- 40 minutes. Turn at least once during cooking. 

Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce. YUM!

Monday, January 16

Macro Monday ~ Be Original

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.  ~Herman Melville

Mr. Herman Melville, best known for being the author of Moby Dick, is also the author of the quote above, one of my favorite quotes of all time. 

Be yourself. Not everyone will love you, maybe not even like you, but those who do will be the ones that matter. 

I linked up with Lisa's Chaos for Macro Monday. 

Friday, January 13

Another Weekend Is Upon Us

 Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.

Wishing all my friends a great weekend!

I linked up with Skywatch Friday and Photo Friday

Thursday, January 12

Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies ~ Samoas Bars

 recipe from

When I first saw this recipe floating around Pinterest, I ignored it. First off, I believe in supporting the Girl Scouts and second, I hadn't had much luck with copycat recipes up until this point. They usually require a lot of prep time and rarely taste close to the original. However, after seeing so many say they were amazing on top of the fact that for the last few years, Girl Scout cookies starting taking on that whole processed flavor so many foods have these days, I thought "Why not?". 

Conclusion, I am so glad I did! These are, in my humble opinion, much better than the original. Same texture, better flavor and I can make them whenever I want. Plus, these are bars. So you get the same concept without having to decorate each individual cookie. You decorate (top) the pan of bars and cut them to cookie size. If you can get over the fact that they are squares instead of circles, which I definitely can...

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

First, make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. 

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack before topping. 

2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12 oz. good quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbls. milk
10 oz. dark or semi sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on parchment lined baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden brown. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in large microwavable safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with spatula. Put dollops of topping all over the shortbread base. Using a spatula, spread the topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.

When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or pizza cutter. Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave at 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle the tops with chocolate 

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11

Homemade Cheesy Dog Biscuits

 recipe from

Now that we are up to two dogs again (Remy post to come soon), making my own dog treats is not only fun but much easier on the checkbook. Plus since my first attempt with the Peanut Butter recipe was such a hit with Dexter, I wondered why I hadn't thought of making a healthier snack for him earlier. 

I made two sizes of these so I could give the boys a smaller snack as a reward for listening well as they both only will do if the word "treat" is involved. Funny how even dogs have selective hearing, isn't it?

This recipe has garlic as an ingredient. I have read controversy on using garlic in pet treats and a call to my local vet verified that garlic in small quantities is actually healthy for most pets. If you are still leery, however, make sure and contact a vet you trust and ask them. My boys gobbled these up in record time and I assure you, they are just fine.

1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup grated cheddar
1 stick butter or margarine
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients except for the milk, in a mixing bowl. To the mixture, add just enough milk to form a ball.

Put the cheese ball into the fridge to chill about half an hour. Roll onto lightly floured surface. Cut into cute shapes. Bake about 15 minutes or until firm. 

Makes about 29-36 biscuits depending on the size of  your cookie cutters. 

After these were slightly cooled, I put them in an airtight container which allowed them to soften a bit, yet keeping their firmness for good chewing!

Tuesday, January 10

Photoblog Challenge ~ Human Portrait

Spencer and I attempted to get out of the house last weekend and we made a trip to the park. I loaded up the camera, tripod and kid and off we went. I had great visions of some stark winter photos due to an overcast but bright sky and a smiley boy. 

The wind had other plans for us and we lasted a mere 10 minutes. Yeah, we're lightweights! We did some shopping, bought some snacks and went back home. At least we tried. When I asked Spencer if he was cold, this is the expression he gave me. If my adorable boy had this awful, pained look, I can only imagine how I must have looked. Ha!

Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn't start a conversation. Kin Hubbard (1868 - 1930) 

I linked up with Photoblog Challenges

Monday, January 9

Blonde Brownies ~ Perfectly Adapted

I am not a huge fan of brownies, of any type. You would think with all that chocolate, I would be all over them, but they have never really appealed to me. A friend made me a batch of brownies for my birthday in October. Now how thoughtful is that? They were blonde brownies and I must say they were really good. I decided they could use a little tweaking, so the following recipe is an adaption from both my friend's recipe and Paula Deen's Lady & Sons version. My idea of blond brownies...

Blonde Brownies:
7 Tbls. butter
16 oz. packed brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups self rising flour
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and brown sugar together, until blended. Add eggs and mix well. Gradually add flour, mixing well. Stir in vanilla. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.

Bake in a lightly greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

These make a great snack for company or a quick and easy option for a get together. The nuts are optional but really add to the flavor and texture. 

Friday, January 6

Friday Photo Link Ups & Happy Birthday to my Guy

This is one of my favorite photos from this summer. I couldn't figure out how I wanted to process it, so it has sat in a folder while I tried to make up my mind. I finally decided on high contrast and sharp tone, hoping to capture the expanse of the sky with it's volumes of clouds from a worm's eye view. 

I linked up with both Skywatch Friday and Photo Friday

Also today is a super special day as it is John's birthday!!! He often gets robbed of his birthday with it following so closely behind Christmas but he is much too awesome to not be recognized. Plus, he puts up with Spencer and I! So I am wishing him the best day ever and I hope he knows how loved he is. We would be lost without him. Happy Birthday, Baby!

Thursday, January 5

Chili Salsa Cheese Dip

It really doesn't get much easier than this when it comes to dips. Quick, easy and a crowd pleaser too! Just the right consistency, not so thick that you break off your chips (I just hate that, don't you?) but smooth enough that veggies would be a great sidekick in place of chips.

1 lb (16 oz) Velveeta cheese, cut in small cubes
1 cup of your favorite salsa
2 cans of chili, without beans

Mix ingredients in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is completely melted, stirring after a few minutes.

Serve warm with chips or veggies.

*Put in slow cooker on low to keep warm.

See how easy that was?

Wednesday, January 4

Oreo Krispies ~ Gooey Goodness!

recipe from

If you like Oreo cookies, then this recipe is for you. These taste just like a big Oreo only gooey with a little crunch. They have an almost "melt in your mouth" texture while satisfying any chocolate craving you might have. 

Only three ingredients too!

1 (16 oz) package of Oreo cookies
5 cups (1 bag) of large marshmallows
4 Tbls. butter

Line 8x8 inch baking dish with aluminum foil to hang over the edges. Set aside.

Place Oreos in food processor (or crush in a large Ziploc bag with a rolling pin) and pulse until crumbly but not ground.

Melt marshmallows and butter in a large microwave safe bowl until puffy, about 11/2 to 2 minutes. Remove and pour in ground cookies. Quickly stir to combine, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Allow to set 10 to 15 minutes. Remove bars from pan by foil edges.. Cut, serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3

Photoblog Theme Challenge ~ Indian Paintbrush

Good morning everyone! I feel like I haven't blogged in forever when it's only actually been a few days. 

As you can easily tell, I love photo theme challenges. Not only does it give me some goals to work towards in my own photography but I get the wonderful opportunity to meet other photographers and admire their creativity or viewpoint from behind the lens.

I linked up with Photoblog Challenges. If you have a chance, click on the link and see some of the talent that inspires me. 

This week's theme is "I". In Wisconsin, we have always called this tiny, bright flower an Indian Paintbrush. They grow wild in great vigor in most lawns and fields towards the end of Fall. I have loved them since I was a small girl and wait every year for them to make their appearance. Curious to know what others might call these as when I googled them, another type of flower came up as well with this one being further down the list and listed as sometimes called the common name Indian Paintbrush.