Queso Dip

Some of you may remember a week before Thanksgiving all I could think about was cheese dip. I really wanted to share this recipe then but I did good and I stayed on topic with holiday goodies. Now that the holidays are over and National **Un-Official** Dip Week is here I can’t wait to share it with you as promised!

Once you try this cheese dip you’ll understand the excitement. It tastes just like the queso dip at the restaurants. I mean JUST like it, trust me, I would know- I am a connoisseur of queso dips. I even took it over to a friends house for dinner to test it out.  They agreed- no need to go buy the queso from the restaurant any more before enjoying your favorite mexican meal- you can whip up a batch of this is no time!

Queso Dip


1 1/4 lb block of white American cheese cut into cubes (I used Land ‘O Lakes from behind the deli counter, to make it easy you can have them slice it in 1″ slices)
1/4 cup diced green chiles
2 1/2 tablespoons pickled jalepenos, chopped
2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno juice
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cold water


1. Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes, stirring every minute.

2. Stir together all ingredients until well mixed. It may seem watery at first but as you stir it will become perfect consistency – thick enough to cling to your chips but thin enough that the extra just drips off!

Yields: Approximately 4 cups of deliciousness :)

Just remember – If you get addicted to this stuff you can not blame me! I’m warning you it is good! It makes a lot so if you happen to have some left you can reheat it. Just pop it back in the microwave in 30 second intervals until it is hot and melted again. I made mine in my Pampered Chef Batter Bowl because it is microwave safe. It has a lid and can go in the fridge for storage and then back in microwave to re-heat. Plus, it has the handy dandy pour spout.

Recipe adapted from: Pennies on a Platter

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National **Un-Official** Dip Week

Did you know that there is a National Pancake Week? How about National Oatmeal Month or Cheese Doodle Day? It’s true. Apparently there is a food (or several) recognized nationally for just about every single month, week and day of the year. Crazy right?!  Yeah I still can’t wrap my brain around it.. you could start an entire blog just about observing the food holidays..(if you do that please let me know and tell your fans where you got the genius idea! lol).

What’s even harder for me to imagine is that there is not an official holiday to celebrate dips! What? I know! Everyone loves dips, how could this be overlooked!! Therefore I am declaring this National Dip Week! Unofficially of course, because apparently these things are approved by the President himself. So, for chip and dip lovers everywhere- enjoy!

Here are some of my favorite dips you can look forward to seeing this week in the first ever National **Un-Official** Dip Week :

Queso Dip
Pico de Gallo Salsa
Mango Salsa

You’re probably noticing a theme here, but I told you I LOVE mexican food! Plus, these are great recipes that all your friends will love so they’ll be great for upcoming Super Bowl parties!

Now, doesn’t this sound better than celebrating hot pastrami sandwiches today? I thought so too but check back on July 25th for National Hot Sundae Day- that’s a holiday I can get behind! For a full list of National Food Holidays you can check out this site or google National Food Holiday.

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The New Me

Happy New Year friends! I hope you are all having a great day and have had a great time with your family and friends this holiday season. I wanted to share with you a little wisdom given to me by my husband last night as the we welcomed the New Year in. He looked at me and boldly declared “This is going to be the best year ever!” He must have seen the skeptical look in my eye and immediately added “Wanna know why? Because we are not in control over it.”

It’s a statement that sounds so strange, especially in a society that builds up the need for resolutions and changes every New Year. However, it’s a statement that is so very true. No matter what resolutions and changes we decide to put in place, we are not in control over our lives. In fact, I would go as far to say that New Year’s resolutions fail because they are our attempt to change our lives. An attempt that while it has good intentions is feeble and frail compared to the changes that need to be made in our lives.

When we make a resolution,  it’s made with a specific idea of what we want our lives to be with that change in place.  Any work toward this goal would be in vain because the truth is we don’t have the wisdom to be making such goals. We don’t know what tomorrow, the next hour or even the next minute hold for us. How could we possibly make goals for the next year?

My husband’s comment kind of came as a slap in the face to me because, like everyone else, I already had a list of resolutions to work on. A list so long, my friend said she looked forward to “seeing the new me I have ordered”. It’s true- I had a LONG list of places I feel I am failing at and want to do better at. I am now replacing that list with one thing – SEEK HIM.  I will forget about all the areas I want to improve and Seek God so that He can shape me into the person He wants me to be.  How much greater will the “new me” be when it is shaped by our Almighty Creator than by me?

God has a plan for each and every one of us this year. I challenge you throw aside your resolutions and join me to seek Him and find His will for your life! It’s going to be the BEST year ever!

Matthew 6: 25-34 says it all!

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Christmas Bark

This is the bark that started it all! Well, my love for barks at least. ;) I call it Christmas Bark because I found it at Christmas time and I usually make it at Christmas. It also has the red from the cranberries and green from the pistachios so it seemed fitting and easier to say than Cranberry, Pistachio, Dark Chocolate Bark.

You can call it whatever you want- Delicious Bark would be a pretty good name for it too. The cranberries give it a little sweet, tart taste and chewy texture and the pistachios add salty and crunchy to mix.. smothered in delicious dark chocolate – YUM! Plus it’s good for you! Well… it is better for you than most of the other goodies calling your name this Christmas season! It’s full of antioxidants, fiber, and even Vitamin C so you can enjoy this little treat guilt free!

Christmas Bark


1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 large (6.8 oz) dark chocolate bar


1. Chop pistachios and set to the side.

2. Break candy bar into large pieces and using a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth.

3. Mix the cranberries and pistachios into the dark chocolate. Pour out onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and spread out thinly.

4. Freeze for at least 1 hour until set. (I don’t recommend leaving this one overnight like the Cookies & Cream Bark because the dark chocolate can become discolored if frozen too long.) Break bark apart into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

This will also keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator so it’s a great make ahead item for Christmas parties or gifts- one less thing to have to worry about during the busy days. I like to make some ahead of time and keep in the fridge for a little late night chocolate bite :)

Recipe barely adapted from: SkinnyTaste

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Cookies & Cream Bark

This recipe may be the greatest discovery of all time. It’s only 2 ingredients, can be made in 5 minutes and keeps for up to 3 weeks. Seriously! Oh and did I mention it’s fantastic!! I stumbled upon this last year when I was looking for homemade Christmas goodies to make for gifts and everyone always loves it.

Cookies and Cream Bark


1 package white chocolate chips (12 oz)
18 oreos


1. Crush oreos and set to the side. I used my Manual Food Processor to do this in about 15 seconds but this would also be something fun the kids could do to help out in the kitchen.

2. Using a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth.

3. Mix the crushed oreos into the white chocolate. Pour out onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and spread out thinly.

4. Freeze for at least 1 hour or overnight until set. Break bark apart into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

This will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator so it’s a great make ahead item for Christmas parties or gifts- one less thing to have to worry about during the busy days.

Oh – and don’t be surprised if you com home and find the other half of the package of oreos is missing… there is an oreo thief on the loose. He.. ahem.. they should be easy to find since they left and empty glass of milk at the scene of the crime next to the empty package of oreos. :) I’ve heard their might be a ring of them so be prepared and buy an extra package at the store while you are there to save yourself a trip back. You might as well buy more chocolate too because once you taste this you are going to want to make more immediately! As much as you are going to want to keep it all to yourself, remember, this is a season of giving! :)

Recipe adapted from: Bakers Royale

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Caramel Walnut Bars

Wow! A week away from Christmas, already? If you are like me you probably have a busy week ahead with lots of places to go and things to do, most of which probably require bringing a little dessert or snack.  What to bring, what to bring? It needs to be quick, easy and taste delicious!  I went to my first Christmas party of the year this past Saturday and found the answer to that question – Caramel Walnut Bars!

These things are delicious! I loved them so much I got the recipe from the host (the BEST Pampered Chef director ever!) before I left, picked up the ingredients on the way home and got up early and made them the next morning before going to some more Christmas get togethers. Everyone LOVED them and asked for the recipe, so here it is! Enjoy!

Caramel Walnut Bars


2 cups unsifted flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
24 Caramels
1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine flour, sugar and egg into a small bowl. Cut 1/2 cup butter in until crumbly. Stir in walnuts.

3. Reserve 2 cups of crumb mixture to the side. Roll or press remaining mixture out in a thin layer in a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper.

4. Bake for 15 minutes.

5. Melt caramels, sweetened condensed milk and 1/4 cup butter in microwave safe container in 30 second intervals until completely combined as a sauce. (You can also do this in a saucepan on low heat)

6. Remove crust from the oven and pour caramel sauce evenly over the top.

7. Top with remaining 2 cups of crumb mixture and bake an additional 20 minutes until bubbly.

8. Allow to cool and cut into small bars or squares.

Enjoy! Recipe makes approximately 50 bars (1″ x 1 1/2″)

These would make a great addition to a cookie swap or homemade goodies gift basket!   Stay tuned all week for more quick, easy and delicious goodies to take to your Christmas gatherings!

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It’s Beginning…

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas.. Not exactly how the song goes but fitting for today’s post. I love the smell of Christmas! Sweet, Citrus-y, Cinnamon-y, warm goodness that just makes you want to snuggle up to a book by the fire. Although I’m not really a book or fire person but you know what I mean.

This week when we were at the store we found one of my favorite treats available this time of year- Tangerines! I love those little bags of Cuties (and apparently so does my daughter)! Together we have almost eaten an entire bag! They are so sweet and juicy and smell so wonderful!

Monday I was getting ready to throw a stack of the sweet peels away when I started thinking about how good they smelled, just the peels. All I needed to do was bake some gingersnaps and cinnamon something and the house would smell wonderful! I sure don’t need any more cookies so I decided to try my hand at a homemade potpourri instead and it is incredible! I’ve had it going all week and the house smells SO good, so I thought I’d share!

Christmas Potpourri


2 tangerine peels
1 inch piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon Plus Blend (or combination of Cinnamon & Nutmeg)


1. Add all ingredients to small pan and cover with water.

2. Simmer on low with the lid off. Add more water as needed so it does not run out.

You can keep this going for several days. Just turn it off at night and back on in the morning. I added fresh tangerine peels to it every day as we had them too, with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.  When you notice the peels start to look grayish or the smell is not as strong, just start over with a new batch. :)

This is one of those times we really need scratch-n-sniff screens, it smells so good!

Source: All Things Moms Original

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Cookies and Cocoa

Cookies and Cocoa- these two holiday staples go hand in hand so today you get not one but TWO delicious recipes and gift ideas! Now, there’s only 1 catch.. neither are exactly “health” food but it’s Christmas, it’s ok to splurge a little right?

Hot Cocoa Mix


3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips


1. Mix all of your ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Pour your  mixture into a food processor and pulse until all of the chocolate chips are ground up. This may take 2-3 batches depending on the size of your food processor.

3. To serve add 4 tablespoons of cocoa to 1 cup of hot water or milk.

Enjoy! Yields about 7 cups of dry mix

I really like this hot cocoa mix and my husband says he prefers it over the little packs because it all dissolves and doesn’t cake up on the bottom of the mug. :)  To give it as a gift just put some in a little jar or bag tie a cute bow on them! The mix should be good for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Now for the cookies to go with this! This is a great cookie gift recipe because you can layer all the dry ingredients. Then the recipient just adds 3 easy ingredients and bakes!

Celebration Cookie Mix


1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweetened, dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips (white or semi-sweet)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats (quick cook or old fashioned)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring


1. Preheat oven to 375º.

2. Mix all ingredients together and scoop onto a cookie sheet or stone about 2 inches apart. I used a Small Scoop which is approximately 1 tablespoon, Medium Scoop (approximately 2 tablespoons) would also work, just makes larger cookies.

3. Bake for 13-15 minute until edges are golden brown, cool for 5 minutes.

Enjoy! Yields 3-4 dozen cookies depending on size

For Gifts: Layer all the dry Ingredients in a 4 cup container in this order: sugar, cranberries, chocolate chips, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, oats, and pecans. The Pampered Chef Small Batter Bowl is the perfect size for this and makes a great gift that can be used year round after all the cookies are gone! Attach a tag with directions to mix in remaining ingredients (butter, eggs, vanilla) and bake according to directions above. You can find a printable tag for your gift including directions at The Pampered Chef.

These cookies are delicious too! We like to pop them in the freezer after they cool. Then just pull one out when you are ready to eat it – you can warm it up but it’s SO GOOD frozen! Freezing cookies was my husbands idea -it took me a long time to even try a frozen cookie  (it’s my personal belief that they should not even cool, lol, just bake and eat quickly!) but I gotta hand it to him, frozen cookies are amazing!! They are also great to have on hand this time of year for guests, gathering or gifts!

Cocoa Recipe Source: Barely Adapted from Pennies on a Platter
Celebration Cookie Mix Source: The Pampered Chef

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