Southern Style Lemonade

Kids love lemonade. Adults love lemonade. It is a spring and summer staple for every picnic lunch or barbeque dinner. Like most families, we used to buy the premade stuff (convenience is a big thing when you’ve got kiddos). But have you ever seen the ingredients list on those? Artificial color, artificial flavor, and chemical sweeteners. Yuck.

That got me thinking….how hard is it to just make it at home? I mean, you really only need 3 simple ingredients. Water, sugar, lemons. You get all the flavor and none of the artificial-chemical laden junk. This will be, hands down, the most simple recipe you will have in your arsenal and your family will thank you this picnic season! Scroll to the bottom for the easy to Pin recipe card.

For your prep, all you need is a pitcher, ice, water, sugar and lemons. Ice is optional, but I love a tall cold glass of lemonade and always add it to my prep.

Squeeze the lemon juice into your pitcher. I like using my cupped hands or a mesh strainer to catch any seeds that fall out. Nobody likes seeds in their lemonade. Nobody. Top the lemon juice with your ice, water, and sugar. Stir to combine.

Serve cold and ENJOY! This lemonade is tart and sweet and the absolute easiest thing you will ever make for your family. You will never go back to the premade stuff again!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins with a Lemon Glaze

My kids go through these phases where they will ask to buy a fruit and then completely devour all of it in a day. Then they will ask for more of the same the very next day, and it will sit in my fridge for a week with me reminding them to ‘hurry up and eat those before we have to throw them out!’ I can’t be the only parent, right?? Now, blueberries very rarely make this list. My 5 year old is a blueberry fanatic and can eat a whole container of them in one sitting (and as a parent who was a picky eater as a kid and hated most fruits and berries, I gladly let her), but when I found myself with a container of blueberries that I knew were days from being soft, mushy, messes destined for the waste bin, it got my mind going.

What is something delicious that I can make:
1-with ingredients I have on hand
2-quick and easy
3-delicious
(and I mean delicious! As someone who still doesn’t like the texture of most fruits and berries, I ate 3 of these muffins. THREE. Of course that was before I started a Whole30….but that’s a whole different post)

So I got to work creating this AMAZING Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin recipe! I knew I wanted to kick them up a notch, and knew that a sweet and tangy lemon glaze would match perfectly with the blueberries and oats. This one is a definite winner and I have already made promises to my husband to make them for him when he returns home from training. As always, scroll to the bottom for an easy to save recipe card.

First gather up all your ingredients. And take a picture of them if you’re into that sort of thing.

I soaked the oats in the milk for a few minutes while I was preparing everything else. This helped soften the oats and gave me a smoother muffin texture instead of having big bits of oats throughout. Now is also a great time to melt your coconut oil.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk your melted coconut oil and sugar. Add in your vanilla and egg.

Now, I’ve seen enough British Baking Show to know that having your fruit sink into your confection is a no-no, so I gave my blueberries a good dusting of flour to help them stay afloat in the batter. This step is totally optional, but I know Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would have approved. And maybe even shook my hand.

Add your oil/sugar mixture into your dry mix. It will be a weird lumpy texture, don’t freak out!

Add in your milk and soaked oats. Stir until a smooth batter is formed.

Now add in your blueberries and give it a good mix.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins. You can use parchment paper liners or regular store bought liners, I tried both and it worked great each time. This batter is thick so don’t worry if it seems hard to work with. The muffins will come out smooth and delicious, I promise. Bake in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

While the muffins are baking, you can make the lemon glaze. It’s only 2 ingredients: lemon juice and confectioners sugar. Whisk them together to make a smooth glaze. If the glaze is too thick, add more lemon. If too thin, sprinkle in more sugar. It’s pretty fool proof!

And there you have it! Deliciously simple and bursting with flavor!

Pour your Lemon Glaze over these and SAVOR THEM. You will come back to this recipe over and over again!

New Orleans Style Beignets

”Mom, I want to make sweet bread tomorrow for breakfast”. This sentence was given to me, along with a pencil sketch of ingredients my son needed in order to give us this sweet bread he was so excited about. In the drawing, it looked like a piece of toast with squiggles and a splotch over the center. ”Ok bud, what exactly do you need for this sweet bread?” I asked, in hopes of making sense of what I was looking at without outright saying “what the heck is sweet bread?!”. “Toast, flour, honey….” he said as he pointed to each item in the drawing. The look on my face must have still seemed lost because my 5 year old chimed in, “You know, like Tiana makes!”

Bingo! This was no ordinary sweet bread they wanted….and even in cartoon form they were drawn to these deliciously puffy pockets of dough, generously dusted with powdered sugar. Immediately I knew they were talking about the beignets that Princess Tiana was famous for making in The Princess and the Frog. I already had all the ingredients on hand and decided that this would be a perfect Saturday morning breakfast! Fast forward to Saturday and sleeping in until 8….but they still made a fabulous lunch.

Yes, we ate beignets for lunch. And if anyone tells you that is wrong, shove one of these suckers in their mouth and tell them to mind their own politely smile and walk away. While shoveling these into your own mouth. We don’t need that kind of negativity in our lives, right?

Start by gathering your ingredients. Or, since we’re doing these French style, your mise en place if you will.

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl for your stand mixer, add your yeast to your warm milk. Be sure the milk isn’t too hot or else you risk killing your yeast. Set aside and let it bloom for about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine your evaporated milk, egg, vanilla, sugar, and a pinch of salt.

With your dough hook attachment, add the sugar mixture to the yeast and mix on low to combine. Start adding the flour to your yeast mixture about a half cup at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Once all your flour is combined, pour in your melted (and slightly cooled) butter. Mix just to combine and make a sticky dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead it. It is important to activate the gluten and get a nice ‘bouncy’ dough so you will in turn have beautifully puffy beignets!

Place in an oiled bowl, rotating the dough to cover all sides with oil. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch the dough down, then turn out once more onto a lightly floured surface.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Then cut into squares.
Yes, there are a few triangles here. if you want all perfect squares, you an cut off the edges of your dough to square them off and get even sizes all around. But I am not a professional baker and we don’t waste scraps of delicious dough around here. Set aside for about 5 minutes.

In a large pot with your oil already preheated, add your dough squares a few at a time. Don’t over crowd them, they need some space. Cook them until golden on both sides.

Set the dough aside on paper towel lined trays and powder generously with powdered sugar.

Grab a cup of coffee café au lait and savor these little pillows of sugary heaven. You will never go back to plain doughnuts again after these. Bon Appetit!

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

There are few things in this world that bring me joy like a sweet potato fry. Yes, regular old potato fries are good, but why settle for good when you an have something amazing? The spices, onion, and garlic offer a ton of flavor that bring this basic side dish front and center. You may never look at French fries the same way again!

First gather up your ingredients. I only used 2 sweet potatoes for this, which is plenty for my kids and myself (my husband doesn’t like sweet potatoes in any form…I know, it’s a sad life he leads). I like to keep the skin on, so just give them a really good scrub in the sink before cutting them up.

Once the potatoes are clean, cut them into large matchsticks. If you want a fry that is crisp all the way through, now is a good time to soak them in water and then dry them completely before the next step. I never soak mine, because I prefer to have a light crisp on the outside but soft in the middle. That probably makes me a heathen, but to each their own.

In a large mixing bowl, add the oil, onion, garlic, and spices to the sweet potato sticks. The colors make me happy. And hungry!

Give the fries a good mix with your hands. Make sure every fry is coated in the mixture.

Put your fries on a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure to space them out so they can get cooked on all sides. Then place your baking sheets into a preheated 400° oven for 20-25 minutes.

And there you have it! Try them paired with my Chipotle Ranch or as a delicious side to my Jalapeno Bacon BBQ Burgers for your families next burger night!

3 Easy and Delicious Sauces

Let me start by being totally upfront. I love the convenience of store bought food. It just seems so easy when you’re walking down the aisle of the grocery store and you can toss a jar in the cart and move on. More often than not, the ingredients in those pre-made sauces will make you cringe. You can always go for the organic and healthier options, but they are pricey and often not worth the convenience you think you’re getting. There has to be a better way that doesn’t cost a fortune and won’t sacrifice flavor!

What if I told you that you can have delicious homemade sauces, in less than a minute, with ingredients you probably already have on hand? Enter these 3 (yes THREE!) recipes below! Easy, inexpensive, flavor-full, and takes less than a minute to put together. They have everything you need for bringing your recipe to the next level, with the added bonus of being Whole 30, paleo, and keto friendly! These cover ALL your bases! Scroll to the bottom for easy to save recipe cards.

5 Ingredient Mayo, Chipotle Ranch, Garlic & Onion Aioli

5 Ingredient Mayo

Let’s start with the 5 ingredient mayo. On top of being a delicious mayo, it is also the base of the other 2 sauce recipes. Egg, avocado oil, mustard powder, salt, and lemon juice are all you need for this, and the flavor is so clean and delicious!

Add your ingredients to a cup or small jar. Make sure it is just wide enough for your immersion blender to fit down in it.

Hold the blender at the bottom for a few seconds to let the sauce start to emulsify. Then slowly bring your blender up and down until the sauce is thoroughly combined.

That’s it. Seriously! In less than a minute you have homemade mayo that is clean and delicious.

Chipotle Ranch

Starting with your 5 Ingredient Mayo as a base, adding some dill and chipotle elevates the flavor up to a new level. This Chipotle Ranch pairs beautifully with my Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries, and even my 5 year old gives it 2 thumbs up!

Garlic & Onion Aioli

This sauce is my new favorite thing! The onion and garlic gives a punch to whatever you pair it with. Burgers, chicken, sandwiches-it is great on everything. Start with your 5 Ingredient Mayo, adding the garlic and onion is all you need to bring this one to life. Trust me on this-you NEED this sauce in your life!

There you have it, 3 delicious sauces that are Whole 30, Paleo, and Keto compliant and take less than a minute to make! All from ingredients you probably already have on hand! Kept in a sealed container these will keep 7-10 days in a refrigerator. If they last that long…you’ll be putting these on everything!

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs

Like any good midwestern girl, I have two main condiments that I will put on any and every dish: hot sauce, and ranch. No matter what it is I’m making, those two sauces will always come in clutch to amp up the flavor. With these Buffalo Turkey Meatballs, it offers so much punch that you can pair it with super simple sides and in about 30 minutes you have made an easy and delicious weeknight dinner! Follow below for step by step ingredients, or scroll to the bottom for a recipe card (yay, something new!) Let me know if you love the card option and I can start adding that to new posts!

First gather all of your ingredients for your meatballs. I like to use almond flour for my meatballs because I feel like it gives the meatball a smoother texture than I get with breadcrumbs or panko.

Once your meat mixture is combined, scoop out your meatballs. I prefer to use my cookie scoop for this so I can get a consistent size throughout. Once your meatballs are all formed, brown them in a hot skillet. Turn them often so they brown on all sides. They may not be cooked all the way through, so I put mine into a 350° oven while I prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, I keep it simple. Just hot sauce, butter, salt and pepper. Wipe out your skillet and add the sauce ingredients. Reduce the heat and let the butter melt and the sauce come together. It won’t take long, but keep stirring it to keep it from burning. If it’s getting too hot too fast, turn it down even more.

Add your cooked meatballs to the skillet. Stir them often to coat them on all sides with the hot sauce mixture.

And there you have it! I served these with jasmine rice and a side salad, and they were a huge hit! My husband and I had leftover meatballs for 2 days with this, and I could have easily eaten them another week without complaint. Serving them on skewers immediately made my kids excited for dinner-because everything tastes better on a stick. There’s a parenting hack for you!

Jalapeno Bacon BBQ Burgers

Sometimes I go into making dinner with a full meal plan and recipe in mind. Other times it’s after 4pm and I have a craving an idea. This meal, is one of those nights come to fruition. Juicy hamburgers sprinkled with jalapenos throughout, topped with caramelized onions, crispy bacon, and dripping with barbeque sauce. It was a craving that just could not be ignored….and what kind of wife and mother would I be to deny my family bacon and burgers?? Probably the divorced kind. (That’s a joke. Although I did serve my husband turkey bacon ONE TIME in our marriage and he still brings it up to this day, so bacon just may be the glue that holds this family together. Again, kidding. Sort of…)

First slice your onions and dice your jalapenos. I did half an onion, but next time I would do more. They will cook down and I greatly underestimated how much my family would want them! I failed to get a picture, but this is a good time to start your bacon. I put mine into a cold oven and set it 410° until crispy (about 10-15 minutes)

My kids aren’t big on spicy, so I stayed on the side of mild for these. I sliced and seeded 2 jalapenos and then gave them a dice. Removing the seeds cuts back on the spiciness.

To caramelize the onions, I put a pat of butter in a skillet over medium low-low heat. Just let this work it’s magic while you are making the burgers. As it cooks, stir it every so often to prevent burning. It will take some time, but be patient. Low and slow is the way to go (that may end up on my tombstone one day).

For the burgers I went simple.
*1 lb ground beef
*2 diced jalapenos
*1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
*1/2 Tbsp onion powder
*1/2 Tbsp paprika
*salt and pepper

I didn’t add an egg or any binder, so you can see later that they were a little fragile. If you choose to add an egg and 1/2 C almond flour to help hold them together, feel free to do that!

Once your meat mixture is thoroughly combined, patty them out. I like to make palm-sized balls and then flatten them out as I add each one into a skillet over medium high heat.

Cook your burgers on one side until brown. As you flip them, spread some barbeque sauce on the cooked side. As they finish cooking on the other side, top with cheese and let it melt over the barbeque sauce.

Toasted buns, crispy bacon, caramelized onion, some spring mix, and a drizzle of sweet barbeque sauce bring this dish to the next level. Your burger game will never be the same after you make these, and your family won’t want it any other way!

Creamy Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup

Growing up I hated loathed tomato soup. Of course, I’m talking about the good ‘ol canned stuff. Bright red and flavorless, nothing about it ever interested me. No one was more surprised than me when I had a craving for tomato soup and grilled cheese. Not just any soup would do, I craved something delicious and creamy. Something healthy I could feel good about serving my family that is also tasty enough for them to WANT to eat it. So, I took to the kitchen to try my hand at something that I never thought I would like, and ended up making one of the best tasting lunches I’ve ever made. Creamy, flavorful, and hearty enough to keep my family full. This soup will have you coming back for more!

Here’s what you’ll need:
*2 shallots
*5 garlic cloves (you can use more, this is all I had on hand)
*12 tomatoes
*1/4 C olive oil, divided
*1 Tbsp fresh parsley
*1 tsp fresh thyme
*1 1/2 tsp dried basil
*1/2 C cream
*1 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp pepper

Halve your tomatoes and put them in a large bowl. Drizzle them with some oil and give them a good mix with your hands to evenly coat them. Place the tomatoes face down on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment and sprinkle some salt on top. For the roasted garlic, peel the cloves and place them in some tin foil. Drizzle some oil on them and wrap them up. Place the baking sheets in a 4oo° oven for 45 minutes.

Peel and slice your shallots. In a dutch oven, heat your oil over medium high. Add your shallots and cook them until tender. Dump your roasted tomatoes, garlic, and spices into the dutch oven and give it a good stir. Make sure to get all those juices that cooked out of your tomatoes in the oven, that is extra flavor and you want every bit of that to get into your soup!

Now use your immersion blender and blend your soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can always put the soup mixture in blender and blend until smooth. Or if you want to avoid splattering yourself and your kitchen with tomato juices….not that I know from experience or anything…cough cough.

Add your cream and stir it well. Now you can serve it up or keep it on low while you make some grilled cheese sandwiches to pair with it. This is optional, of course, but I’m not about to turn down carbs covered in melted cheese.

And there you have it. The tomato soup recipe that turned a life-long tomato soup hater into a believer. It is so good you will lick your bowl clean.

Proof. It’s just that good.

Carne Asada Tacos

The end of 2019 was a hectic one for our family. We packed up and moved across the country from California to North Carolina. Coupled with traveling to Indiana to spend Christmas with our families, celebrating our sons 9th birthday, moving into our new house, starting the kids in a new school, and just learning our way around a new military base….whew, it’s been a lot! Now that we are settling back into a routine, I have really found myself in the kitchen a lot more. Which means great meals for my family, and great new recipes for you all!

This recipe idea is not revolutionary, by any means. I mean, tacos are a dinner staple in our house and we have them at least twice a month. They are the perfect meal! Delicious, easy to prep, customizable. You really can’t go wrong. So what makes this recipe so blog worthy? MARINATED.CARNE.ASADA.

Yes. It’s all in the marinade! It’s easy to just brown up some beef or turkey and make that your taco base, but using flank steak and marinating it for just a few hours really knocks this one out of the park. Don’t believe me? After dinner last night my husband did all the dishes AND I got a backrub before bed. Coincidence? Or the magic of Carne Asada? I think you know the answer!

First, gather your ingredients to marinate your steaks.
*2 flank steaks
*1 lemon
*1/4 C olive oil
*3 cloves garlic
*1Tbsp cilantro, chopped
*1 tsp cumin
*1 tsp chili powder
*1/2 tsp salt
*1/4 tsp pepper

Chop your garlic and cilantro and mix it into your spice mixture.

Squeeze in your lemon juice. Next add your olive oil and give it a good stir. The smells….*sigh* so good!

I cut my steaks in half so they would better fit my skillet, and then I placed all 4 pieces into a large Ziploc bag.

Pour your marinade over your steaks and seal the bag. Give it a good mix and rub that mixture into every nook and cranny of your steaks. At this point, place the bag in your fridge and let it marinade for about 4 hours. You can probably get away with a little less time, but I’d be sure at least give it a good 30 minutes to really help seal those flavors in.

Time to cook! Place your skillet over medium high heat and oil the bottom. These steaks are nice and thin, so they take no time at all to cook up. Just keep it in long enough to get a nice brown crust on each side, maybe 1-2 minutes a side.

Remove the steaks from the pan and let them rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes. This helps keep those juices in so you don’t lose that flavor when you slice it up. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. Use this time to make my chunky guacamole and fresh pico de gallo, you won’t be disappointed!

Fresh Pico de Gallo

  • 1 1/2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp cilantro, diced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
    Add all of your diced ingredients to a small bowl. Sprinkle in your salt and pepper, and squeeze your lemon juice over the top. Stir gently to combine. That’s it! So simple and so fresh. Put this on EVERYTHING!

Chunky Guacamole

  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp cilantro, diced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 roma tomato, diced
    Halve your avocado, remove the pit (carefully), then dice. Add all your diced ingredients to a small bowl. Sprinkle in your spices and squeeze you lemon over the top. Give it a gentle stir, just enough to combine and coat every bit of the avocado, but leave the chunks. Or don’t. But you should!

Corn tortillas, flour tortillas-it’s amazing on either one. We like to do spring mix, my Fresh Pico de Gallo, sour cream, shredded cheese, and black olives, with a side of chips and Chunky Guacamole. Serve these up however you like your tacos! It’s so easy to customize, just lay everything out and let your family go to town. Flavortown, as Guy Fieri would say. Boom.

Elf Breakfast (Elf on the Shelf)

Every year on December 1st our family gets a visit from Wally, our Elf. If you haven’t started an Elf on the Shelf for your family, it is equal parts pain in the you-know-what and magic. Every morning my kids jump up searching for Wally and hoping he has brought some sort of fun and shenanigans with him. The best day, however, is that first morning. Because that is the morning that Wally always welcomes us into another holiday season with his traditional Elf Breakfast. It also the most work I put into the Elf all year, and it has become a labor of love.

Every year the breakfast includes Wally’s traditional Elf Pancakes and a letter from Santa. He also always brings other items like chocolate chips, marshmallows, powdered donuts, peppermint sticks, and our advent calendar. Below are pictures of the last 5 years we’ve had our Elf Breakfast and the ways we switched it up.

Our first Elf Breakfast in 2014. Wally introduced us to Elf Pancakes! Just make your favorite pancake batter and use your Tbsp to cook them. I will make them all the night before and put the plate in the fridge. Wally also brought Reindeer Poop (chocolate cereal), mini chocolate chips, and Snowmen (powdered donuts).

Elf Breakfast 2015; Elf Pancakes, Snowman Stacks (donuts), peppermint balls, M&M’s, and strawberries.

Elf Breakfast 2016; Elf Pancakes, Snow Balls (donut holes), candy canes, peppermint pretzels, and grapes.

Elf Breakfast 2017; Elf Pancakes, marshmallows, and Reindeer Poop (chocolate cereal).

Elf Breakfast 2018; Elf Pancakes, raspberries, marshmallows on a stick (festive paper straws for the win!), and mini chocolate chips. The presents are Lego advent calendars for the kids and their annual tree ornament.

This year is a little different, since we sold our old dining table before our big move. We still had Elf Pancakes, as well as Snow Balls (donut holes), peppermint Milano’s (my 8 year old said those are his new favorite part!), strawberries, pop rocks, chocolate Santa’s, and peppermint sticks for stirring our hot cocoa. Obviously this year December 1st was on a weekend so we were more lax on the sugar intake!

Every year my kids start wondering out loud around Thanksgiving if Wally is going to bring them breakfast soon, and they will start talking about the favorite things they remember he has done. I’m not going to lie, as I’m in the kitchen at 11 pm making dozens of teeny tiny pancakes I always question why I do this to myself. But the next morning when I wake to the sounds of them giggling and gasping as they see that once again Wally has come to visit us makes it totally worth it.