Archives for the month of: August, 2012

I saw the pin for Skinny Pool-Side Dip and honestly pinned it just because it said “skinny” and I’m a sucker for the so-called “guilt free” recipes.

Both times I’ve made this dip, I’ve halved the recipe as the original calls for 16 oz of cream cheese (two packages) and I rarely need that much dip. The first time I made it, as pictured above, I ran to a very small local grocery that did not have fat-free cream cheese that the original recipe called for so I subbed in low-fat cream cheese instead. It was a hit at book club.

The second time I made the dip, I used fat-free cream cheese as prescribed. I won’t make that mistake again. The dip was very runny as, for whatever reason, the fat-free product never seemed to re-solidify after being softened to make the dip.

I did encounter friends who don’t like olives, so I might substitute black beans to give it a more southwestern flavor when entertaining certain company and retain the same color profile.

Overall I loved the dip, loved that it is at least somewhat guilt-free, and found it simple to make.

Original source: Home Trends Utah
Difficulty (1-5): 1, unless you have hesitations around jalapeno peppers
Result (1-5): 4, only because some people aren’t crazy about olives


“To hang your display, try laying all of the photos out on a table or floor within an area that’s about the size of your wall space. Rework the arrangement until you are satisfied. Use self-stick notes to number the pictures and make a sketch of the layout. Or, like the photo shown here, cut out paper in the shape of each frame and tape these up on the wall before installing the picture hooks.” ~ from Better Homes and Gardens

So I did this, but still managed to screw up a little. My recommendations:

1) If you have a light colored wall, use a dark colored paper

2) Be really sure about your frame/mat selections before doing the paper thing. After snapping this photo I said, “Oh, snap.” And then switched out the middle frame with another that was matted. It looks much better now. This changed my spacing, but I didn’t move the side ones.

3) Nail up a few frames and then adjust – don’t do it all at once, that way you can fix mistakes (like point #2). That bottom row? It’s now spread out much further – the two ends actually are about 2 cm wider than the top row. SO much easier to do when it’s paper and not nails all over my beautiful stenciled wall.

4) Do the tape so it’s hidden – I kept getting distracted by the BLUE tape and it obscured the edges for lining things up.

Original source: Better Homes and Gardens via a popular Centsational Girl pin.
Difficulty (1-5): 2    You have to use scissors, people. Wear your safety goggles.
Result (1-5): 4    I still had to make adjustments after, but that was user error.


I have an obsession with dipping things in chocolate. If there is anyone at work who doesn’t know me by name, I’m probably “that girl who brings in chocolate dipped treats.” I especially love making treats on a stick.

So how genius are s’mores on a stick? I was inspired by this pin. I decided to make them for a play date with the thought that kids would go nuts over something like this.

I altered the recipe in the following ways:

  • I used Wilton chocolate melts instead of Nutella
  • I dipped the entire marshmallow in the chocolate because, well, the more chocolate the merrier!
  • I used lollipop sticks instead of the wooden popsicle variety

Tip: to make sure your marshmallow stays attached to the stick when you dip, first dip the tip of the stick into the chocolate, then spear the marshmallow. Pop into the fridge until the chocolate hardens, then proceed with dipping. Then sprinkle the bottom half of the dipped marshmallow with the crumbs and place on a parchment paper or waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Pop in the fridge to harden.

I made my own graham cracker crumbs by throwing a few crackers into a food processor, but you can also buy them. You don’t need many crumbs, though. I think two full crackers was plenty.

They were a hit at home and at the play date. My friend Sunny recently made them for her daughter’s baptism lunch. Instead of dipping the entire marshmallow into the chocolate, she half dipped, then toasted the tops of the marshmallows with a mini blow torch. Awesome!

Now, the point of the original recipe was that it would take 2 minutes to prepare. My version definitely takes longer. But it’s still pretty easy.

Original source: Skimbaco Lifestyle
Difficulty (1-5): 2 if you haven’t mastered dipping
Result (1-5): 5


So when I first saw this pin I thought, Looks good but really, is it THAT good? YES. YES it is. The recipe calls for garlic powder and salt I chose to use garlic salt instead of both but that’s the only change I made. I mixed the ranch dressing mix, oil and garlic salt together in a measuring cup and then tossed with the bag of oyster crackers. Put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet, slapped it in the oven at 250 for 15 minutes and BAM! it was done and it’s DELISH. I could seriously eat the entire batch. The whole batch fits in a quart size bag.

I really wish I hadn’t seen this because I’m sure I’ll be making this a few times a week.

Original source:

Difficulty (1-5): 1- took me less than 3 minutes to throw it all together

Result (1-5): 5- FREAKING AMAZING

It’s a simple recipe.  How could it possibly work?  A friend of mine suggested that I try this homemade bath tub cleaner. She said it rocked her world.  As a homeowner of a 1950’s chateau, my bathtub has seen better days.   Iron rings and scum rings had infested my home and I had high hopes that this simple cleaner would save the day.  Being a teacher, I have the summers off, so I jumped at the chance to clean my tub.  Yes, I literally jumped up to go clean. Ok, this is a rarity for me to get excited to clean my tub, but I did just that.   A rave such as my friend’s, I was sure this would rock my world.

The instructions were very simple.  Take 1 cup of vinegar and heat it in the microwave.  Mix in 1 cup of dawn (any dishwashing soap will work as I used Ajax) and put in the spray bottle.   Spray on your tub and let sit for a half an hour.  After the elapsed time, simply wipe the grime away to a sparkling tub.

My results were just as what was pitched on pinterest.  My tub was visibly cleaner and I didn’t have to scrub at all.  The iron stains were lessened but not completely removed.  But my scum ring was washed down the drain.  It was amazing.  I was so excited I had to send a picture text to my husband.

Overall, I would recommend this pin.  It really did live up to the claims.  In fact, I have since bought a spray bottle to be designated to this new wonder cleaner.  It now has a new home under my sink and is going to be taken out to visit the tub once a week.

Original source:
Difficulty (1-5): 1
Result (1-5): 5


One night, I was looking through my pinterest recipes and added this to my weekly menu.  This burger recipe sounded amazing and Momma was in the mood for a burger. Who doesn’t want to eat the best burger EVER?! Momma was on a mission, a mission to make the best burger in the world.

The recipe itself was very simple and easy to follow.  I followed the recipe as written including the special sauce.  The only change made was cooking on an outdoor grill.  These burgers are incredibly moist and fall apart on the grill. One burger lost his life falling through the slats  to a fiery death.  It was touch and go for a while, but we were able to salvage dinner and momma’s burger craving was satisfied.   After revisiting the blog, I noticed she has updated to address this issue.  It is important to pan fry the burger!!!! I would totally agree with this, but they were delicious on the grill if they did hold together.

Overall, it was a good burger.  Did it live up to the hype?  No.  It was not the absolute BEST burger in the world, but if you are looking for a new burger recipe I would recommend it.  It has good flavor and is very moist.   The sauce was good, but the recipe makes an enormous amount.  We ended up freezing the left over sauce for our next burger mission.

Original source:
Difficulty (1-5): 2
Result (1-5): 4


This recipe caught my eye this spring when I was looking for a make-ahead baked good that was somewhat healthy. I was attending a weekend-long event where you end up eating crap (and all night, too). Unlike Florence Dusty, I’m not known for my muffin, but I do usually make breakfast for the group one day.

Here are some procedural changes I made to the recipe.

  • Used a mini-muffin tin, and baked them for about 15 minutes
  • Used a microplane to remove the zest from the lemon, and then just whisked it into the sugar
  • Mixed in the wet ingredients  with the sugar by hand in a bowl

For the one day before I wanted to serve them, I stored them in an airtight container on the counter. Any leftovers (only a few, as I’d made a double batch) after that went in the fridge, and a few seconds in the microwave before eating was perfect.

Original source:
Difficulty (1-5):  2 (need special tool(s), but nothing out of the ordinary otherwise)
Result (1-5):  5  could they be healthier?  Yep.  But they taste good and still more nutritional than a donut

~ CO-M

I love any recipe that turns out looking professionally made and basically makes me look good. 🙂 When I pinned this mini deep dish fruit pizza recipe, I was surprised by how easy it looked. I decided to try it for a play date recently since it seemed like something kiddos would dig.

My first step was to make the cookie cups. I was convinced that the blogger left out a step in her instructions, so after rolling the sugar cookie dough into balls, I pinched it up around the sides of my mini cupcake pan. FAIL. Listen to the woman and just put the little dough balls in the pan and bake them. To create an indentation in the “crusts,” I made a thumb print on them just as they came out of the oven. They will cool in the perfect shape.

Then the “frosting.” Her recipe calls only for cream cheese and whipped topping, but I thought it wasn’t quite sweet enough, so I added 1/4 cup sugar to it. This frosting pipes beautifully into the little cups using a freezer bag as she instructs.

For my fruit topping, I quartered strawberries, which I stuck into my little frosting mounds. Then I added a blueberry and called it finished because I was too lazy to peel kiwis and this looked like plenty to me.

Not only do they look great, ZOMG are they delicious. They got rave reviews from the play date attendees and from my neighbors. They’re a great finger food for parties.

Original source: Banner Boutique
Difficulty (1-5): I’ll give it a 2 because of the multiple steps, but it really was easy.
Result (1-5): BAM! It gets a 5.


Homemade mac & cheese is the best, but I was always too intimidated to make it. The whole rue making process, etc. So I was pretty excited about this pin, which looked like a recipe I would actually have the skills and patience to make.

I did make a few changes to the recipe to make it marginally healthier. First. I substituted whole grain elbow macaroni. I used 2% evaporated milk, skim milk, and reduced fat cheddar. A teaspoon out of Lake Michigan calorie-wise, really, but I’m happy to report that the substitutions didn’t seem to negatively impact the outcome.

I also doubled the recipe to use the entire box of pasta and so I would have a meal to freeze. One “meal” is actually way more than my husband and I can eat in one meal, but we love leftovers. The first time I made the recipe, I was concerned the pasta would get overcooked and turn to mush, so I only cooked it a little before dumping it in the crock pot. I think this was a wise choice, because even partially cooked pasta was starting to fall apart a little toward the end of the 2 1/2 hour cooking time (2 1/2 hours on high is definitely long enough). I haven’t been brave enough to try putting dry pasta in with the other ingredients, but something tells me it would work just fine. If anyone tries it this way, please let us know.

I added extra salt to my serving because I am a salt freak (thus negating my efforts to make the recipe “healthier,” but whatever). Overall, the taste and texture were awesome. I added some bread crumbs to one batch since I really like them on my mac & cheese. It got an enthusiastic thumb’s up from the hubby. We thought the frozen and reheated half of the last batch was even better than the fresh batch. This is a great freezer meal for someone who just had a baby.

Original source: Moms with Crockpots
Difficulty (1-5): 1 – if you can boil water and dump stuff in a crock pot, you can make this
Result (1-5): 4 (only b/c the pasta fell apart a little after the 2 1/2 hours in the crock pot)


As I do most Sunday nights, I begin planning out meals for the week. Knowing Monday would be rougher than most, coming off 9 days of vacation, I wanted to make something a little more substantial for my breakfasts. I’ve pinned a few different baked oatmeal recipes, but had yet to give any a try.

This was very quick to throw together, approximately 15 minutes. After eating it for 3 mornings now, I still find it very appetizing. I had made a change to the recipe, substituting brown sugar for the maple syrup–which I think explains why there wasn’t quite enough liquid. If I make it again with brown sugar, I’ll up the milk by a 1/4 cup. I don’t like to use fresh berries to bake–why waste the delicious, fresh taste!?!– so I used mixed frozen fruit (cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries). Being a berry fiend, I used 1-1/2 cups of berries instead of 1 cup.

I will definitely be adding this into my rotation of work day breakfasts.

Original source:
Difficulty (1-5): 1
Result (1-5): 4