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I had a head of cauliflower that was languishing in my vegetable drawer, but I wasn’t in the mood for roasting it like I usually do. Then I remembered this recipe for mac & cheese — it looked easy, and I had all the ingredients.

I made  a few changes to the recipe to accommodate what was on hand:

  • I had 5 oz of Swiss cheese, 8 oz of sharp cheddar, and 3 oz of Gruyere.
  • I wanted to make it more “casserole” like, so I added 1/2 a pound of cooked Italian sausage. My husband suggested trying chorizo the next we make it.
  • I didn’t have any fresh parsley ( and it was too cold to go out to the store),  so I omitted that, but added some dried parsley to the bread crumbs ( I had panko).

With some steamed broccoli, this made a tasty meal.

Difficulty (1-5): 2  Nothing too complicated here, but a fair number of steps
Result (1-5): 4  Tasty, healthier than normal mac & cheese, and a complete meal w/the addition of a protein.

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This was another app that I made for a holiday party. I made this popper dip exactly as the recipe called for, I used a glass pie plate and cooked it at 375 for about 35 minutes. I was afraid that it would be way too spicy for me since I don’t really love spicy stuff but it was very very good and not to hot at all. 

Difficulty (1-5) – 2  Super easy to put it all together

Will Make Again (1-5) – 5 YES YES YES

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Ok I had a holiday party to attend last night and decided all the apps I made would come from Pinterest. This black bean salad was one that I was meh about making but turned out to be my favorite. I made it exactly as the recipe stated except I left out the avocados. I think it’s great without them. I also think you could throw in some grilled chicken and make this a main dish. 

Difficulty- (1-5) 3 only because of all the chopping and finding fresh corn

Make Again – (1-5) 5 DEFINITELY. LOVE 

 

Ok, so I didn’t follow the pin instructions at all, but rather used the end product as my inspiration. Here is how she did it: http://swelldesigner.blogspot.com/2012/08/crayon-drip-art-pumpkin-tutorial.html

Here’s what I did:

1. Buy giant white gourds

2. Make a ring with blue painters’ tape, sticky side up

3. Break peeled crayons in half and arrange on tape

4. Using embossing heat tool (gets hotter than blow dryer), melt crayons

Voila!

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Difficulty (1-5): 2–pretty easy craft project, just a little messy
Result (1-5): 4–the first one is a little ugly because I didn’t get the tape covered well enough

For some unknown reason I felt completely obligated to have a big birthday party for my 4 year old and 1 year old, insert pinterest. I pretty much went pinterest crazy at this party. The menu included bug pizzas inspired by this pin , JELLO worms , caterpillar grapes   . There were also cupcakes made using the How to Make You Even Fatter I mean how to make a cake mix better.

The bug pizzas were a cute idea but none of the 15 kids ages 2-8 actually made a bug design with their pizza toppings. They just made pizzas which was cool too. I didn’t rate these since we didn’t actually do them and really, there were no instructions.

The JELLO worms were a crazy hit. Basically you add cream to raspberry jello and food coloring, rubberband the straws together and pour the mixture into the straws. Use an orange juice box, it’s really the best idea to stand up the straws. Also buy the fattest straws you can. I had to run each straw under hot water for 20 seconds not the few seconds they mentioned and then squeeze the straws out. The worms really looked real. There was lots of screaming. So Worms, Difficulty – 3, there was a lot of busy work involved, Results – 5, very cool

          

The caterpillar link has changed so I linked you to the picture. It suggested using cream cheese to attach the chocolate chips at eyes but I kinda wondered what kid would eat cream cheese on a grape and decided the stickiest substance on the face of the earth was marshmallow fluff so I used that. It still slid down the grapes a bit. I applied with a toothpick and kind of rolled the fluff on. I also found candy googly eyes at Michaels so I used those instead of chocolate chips, so yeah, basically I didn’t follow much from the original pin but really, how can marshmallow fluff and candy googly eyes ever be wrong. I made the caterpillar heads and laid them flat so nothing would make it slide down. Right before I served them I skewered them with the rest of the grape kabobs. Difficulty – 3, they weren’t difficult once I figured it out but kinda fussy. Results – 5, they were really cute and the kids loved it.

The doctored up cake mix was used for cupcakes. I used pilsbury devil’s food cake mix then added an additional egg, used double the oil but sub melted butter and milk instead of water. I really can’t see that this made a big difference as opposed to regular cake mix. It tasted the same to me. Difficulty – 1, Resuslts 2. Meh, don’t waste the calories. I also read on that same blog to mix frosting with marshmallow fluff, that crap was divine. Do it, then lick the spatula and use it sparingly so you can eat any extra.

The activities were pinterest inspired as well.

            

Rock Bugs  were a big hit. I used washable paints, glitter glue, pipe cleaners, googly eyes,  sequins, and hot glue. There was a bit of figuring with this, we had to have the kids paint the rocks immediately so they would dry in time to decorate later. Other than the logistics, it was easy and the kids had fun. I had to use hot glue to attach all the wings, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners. It would have helped to have 2 glue guns, hindsight is 20/20.  Difficulty – 2, Results – 5 they were glittery awesomeness.

          

We also did a bug hunt and made bug habitats. This was also crazy popular. I had about 150 bugs and a bug net bought from the Target $1 spot. We used mason jars for their habitats. I bought pebbles, moss, and we found sticks. After the bug hunt which involved my husband and I throwing bugs everywhere in our backyard and lining up all the kids on the patio before releasing them to find bugs, they brought back their bugs and put all sorts of moss or rocks in their jars and put their bugs in there. It was pretty cool but messy. I was very glad we did this outside with the dust from the moss and pebbles.  Difficulty – 1 , Results – 5

Their goodie bags had the butterfly bags, and all sorts of bug crap from oriental trading (bug gliders, tattoos, bug magnifying glasses, etc).  We made the clothes pins ahead of time and it was easy for Drew to do, he just painted them with washable paint, I hot glued the googly eyes on and we just curled the pipe cleaners around. Just pick something easy to put in the bags. It’d be easier to use one thing, I did banana chips and yogurt covered raisins and that was kind of a pain, keeping things separated.  Difficulty – 2, Results – 5

So overall, I put way too much thought into my kids’ party but hey it was fun and check out all this cool pinterest stuff I got to try out!

For some reason, whenever I need to bring a dessert (or pretty much any food item) to an event, I feel like it has to be extra special.  The plain simply will not do.  That’s where these brownies come in.

Yes, your standard, out-of-a-box brownie is tasty on a Tuesday night when you just want to eat the whole pan instead of going to the gym.  But when you’re bringing a dessert to an event where everyone is going to be dressed to the nines, you want to make something that fits the occasion.

The pin I originally followed was to here: http://www.loveandlemons.com/2012/04/19/raspberry-goat-cheese-swirl-brownies/ , but I wasn’t going for “healthy” brownies, so I followed her link to this post:  http://www.thekitchn.com/sweet-recipe-raspberry-goat-cheese-brownies-165612, and that is what I was looking for.

I opted to use frozen raspberries (organic), and used Cointreau, because that was the only liqueur I had on hand (I know, it is a travesty that I’m from Wisconsin and don’t own any brandy).

I also chose to melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave.  Who has time for a double boiler?
Difficulty 1-5: 2

Results 1-5:  4.5 (even my picky mother-in law enjoyed them)

I LOVE caramel corn. However, it can be really annoying when the hulls get stuck in your teeth. The solution? Use puffcorn! I’ve made this recipe twice now and it’s been a hit. It’s pretty easy to do, but a little time consuming.

Tips:
-Turn off the burner before adding the baking soda
-Make sure you stir thoroughly at 10-15 min intervals, and do the entire 40-45 minutes.
– Use two large cookie sheets with lips instead of a roasting pan
-For clean up, just add a little water to the pans and let soak. The caramel will then come off quite easily

Original source: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/appetizers-and-snacks/puffcorn-caramel-corn/
(The recipe was also on the back of the puffcorn packages that I bought)

Difficulty 1-5: 2
Results 1-5: 5

I’m not a big fan of spicy food but this sounded DELISH so I figured, what the hell, I’ll give it a try. The only changes I made were no bacon and I used Panko bread crumbs instead of whole wheat. All I can say is this chicken is AMAZING. By far the best thing I’ve made from Pinterest so far. We serve it with wild rice and make it at least once a week. Sometimes more.

Instead of using chicken cutlets which I found way too messy I cut a pocket in the chicken breast, almost like I’m butterflying it and then put the filling in and then dip in the lime juice mixture and toss in Panko. The cooking temp and time are just about perfect in my gas oven.

Original Source – http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/04/cheesy-jalapeno-popper-baked-stuffed.html

Difficulty 1-5 – 3 only because of the separate containers and time involved when you first try this.

Results 1-5 – 5, it has become a weekly staple in our menu.

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I pin a lot of stuff. A LOT. It’s addicting. And like most people, I pin way more things than I attempt to actually make. But a recent life change — becoming a stay-at-home mom — has motivated me to not only try many of the recipes I’ve pinned, but also save some money by making things like a mobile for our nursery. It’s been fun to compare notes with friends to find out what’s worth my time and what’s not. That brings us to PINspotting. A place for my friends and I to share reviews on pins we’ve actually attempted, including tips for improving upon the original ideas.

Feel free to pin our reviews of pins so you know which pins you pinned were worth pinning. 😉

-Meghan