Flavoring with Lemon Instead of Salt: Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

Today’s post is being sponsored by Sunkist, but I truly do love their S’alternative campaign! I’ve never been a fan of adding salt while cooking, anyway. Yes, I know I often include it in ingredients lists in my recipes, probably too much. I will watch that from now on.




We all know that salt isn’t good for us, but for some it’s hard to avoid. It’s in most snack foods (processed foods contain the majority of the salt Americans consume every day), on restaurant french fries (for that matter, it’s in almost everything served in a restaurant), in juices and sauces, let’s face it, it’s everywhere. The Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans recommends 1.500-2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but most people consume much more than that, on average 3,400 milligrams a day! If you are anything like me, you like flavor in your food, right? So how do you keep that flavor while reducing salt? Use lemons!




rel=”nofollow” Sunkist S’alternative is a great way to reduce the sodium in your diet without giving up the flavor. Because nobody wants to do that. Ever.




You can visit the Sunkist S’alternative landing page for more recipes and information on sodium and sodium alternatives.

I knew I wanted to make roasted lemon potatoes, and I knew I wanted fresh herbs in it, so after a brief discussion with my husbands cousin over which herbs to use, I just went to my favorite source, Pinterest, to find a general recipe that could give me an idea on the roasting time. One particular recipe stuck out, this one from Rock Recipes. I did adapt it quite a bit, and they look nothing the same, but it did inspire me!




Chop up your scrubbed, clean potatoes into pieces about an inch big.




Mix up your herbs, lemon zest, unpeeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil in a big bowl.



No, I’m not sure why the garlic peel is purple. It’s from my garden and I just pulled it from the ground last week. Anyone know?

Then combine the lemon/herb mixture with the chopped potatoes.


Pour into a preheated baking dish and bake a 400 degrees F for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure it doesn’t stick.

Here’s the printable recipe:


Flavoring with Lemon Instead of Salt: Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Roasted red potatoes in a lemon herb marinade, flavorful, crispy potatoes without a hint of salt! #TableTheSalt
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6
  • 3 pounds small red potatoes, cut into small pieces (about 1 inch big)
  • 2 Sunkist lemons, juiced (about ¼ cup lemon juice)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 whole head garlic, broken up and unpeeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thin chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅛ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  1. Place a pan large enough to hold the chopped potatoes in the oven (empty) and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. The preheated pan helps keep the potatoes from sticking immediately to the pan.
  2. Combine chopped basil, chives, parsley, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and lemon zest in a bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture over the potatoes, season with pepper, and mix well.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes so the potatoes don't stick to the pan.
  4. To serve you can remove the garlic cloves, or chose to serve them along with the potatoes.
Adapted from Rock Recipes Lemon Herb Roasted Potato Nuggets

Creamy Garlic Scape Spinach Fettuccine



Disclaimer: I received product in order to make this recipe. The recipe, photograph, and my opinions, as always are my own.

A few weeks ago I was sent some samples from The Flavor by Stephanie Izard to try out, and see what kind of recipes I could come up with. With tons of fresh produce available, Summer is the perfect time for trying out new, fresh, and flavorful recipes. I am entering this recipe in a contest, with the chance to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, using one of the products I was sent, and you can enter, too, by creating your own Summer recipe using The Flavor and submitting it to marketing@stephanieizard.com by September 1st, 2014. Just write out the recipe, step-by-step, and don’t forget to include a photo!  The recipe they chose as the winner will be featured on their website, and 1 winner will receive a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Runners up will receive a full line of The Flavor, and a signed cookbook.

I was sent The Rub No. 3 , a cheesy, spicy rub with a hint of tomato flavor, and The Saute, which is a mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, and spices, and is really good when added to sauteed vegetables. I had a bunch of garlic scapes I had cut from my garden, so I decided to make a creamy pasta sauce, using The Rub and the garlic scapes, and serving it over spinach fettuccine. If your not familiar with garlic scapes, they are the long, curly steam that grows in the middle of planted garlic. You cut them off at the base to allow the garlic bulbs to continue to grow, and then you can use the scapes in recipes just like you would garlic cloves. They are also good pickled! I think this sauce is fabulous, and would be really good with shrimp, or any kind of pasta. Or you could use it as a bread dip if you thicken it up a bit more. I used chicken broth in it, but if you want it vegetarian, substitute an equal amount of white wine.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Garlic Scape Spinach Fettuccine
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Creamy garlic scape pasta sauce tops spinach fettuccine. Finish with mozzarella cheese and sliced cherry tomatoes for a delicious dinner!
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian American
Serves: 4
  • 8 ounces spinach fettuccine (store-bought or homemade)
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup thin sliced garlic scapes
  • ½ cup chopped green peppers
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons The Rub No.3
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (optional, but I highly recommend it!)
  • sliced cherry tomatoes (optional), about 5
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, or about 8 minutes in boiling, salted water with a few drops of olive oil in it.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic scapes and green peppers for about 5 minutes, or until just beginning to soften. Sprinkle The Rub No.3 and the flour over the vegetable mixture, stir constantly for 1 minute, then add the chicken broth. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the cream and parsley.
  3. Divide the pasta equally on plates, top with the sauce, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella and sliced cherry tomatoes on top.


Overnight Oatmeal: Reusing Peanut Butter Jars -Guest Post from This Is How We Nerd



I haven’t been blogging much this summer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some cool things going on behind the scene. I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) run by Fertile Grounds last week, so I’m cooking with local, fresh produce! I was also accepted to be a beta tester for Chef Watson! Remember the computer Watson from Jeopardy!  a few years ago? That Watson! More on both in the coming weeks, because today I have a great overnight oatmeal recipe for you thanks to Samantha from This Is How We Nerd. I only know Samantha from a blogging group we both belong to, and she accepted my request for summer guest posters. Just one look at her site, and I found something fabulous, Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers!! Adding those to my “recipes to try” list right now! And today’s recipe sounds quick and easy, so without further ado, here’s Samantha:


Hi there “Rants From My Crazy Kitchen” readers!! My name is Samantha and I am over at “This Is How We Nerd” (previously Custom Taste). Where I not only blog about recipes and food, but also technology, frugality, gaming and everything in-between. I hope you’ll come visit me sometime. Today I am lending my kitchen to Bernadette for a fun, easy and frugal recipe! Hope you all enjoy!

Overnight Oatmeal: Reusing Peanut Butter Jars

We buy a lot of peanut butter in our home, like A LOT, and it can get pretty annoying when you get the majority of it last but have the pesky sides just slathered in peanut butter. Instead of spending time scraping the remains out, make Overnight Oatmeal! You can find tons of recipes out on the interwebs (pinterest being covered in them), the one I have today is very simple and can be easily altered before leaving it overnight for the next morning. Also, these can stay in your fridge for up to 5 days. So make them on one night and have them for the rest of the week!

So, first things first, round up your ingredients.




You will need;

Slightly empty peanut butter jars (of course)

Oats (rolled, steel cut, or both)

Milk (I use almond milk because I do not like the taste of animal milks)

Vanilla Extract

Oldish Banana

Raisins (optional)

Anything else you may desire.

Depending on how many jars you are wanting to make you may need more or less of the ingredients. For one standard sized peanut butter jar I used about ¾ cup of milk, ¼ of a banana, ½ cup oats, 1 tsp vanilla and sprinkle of raisins.

Start by mashing up your banana and mixing with the vanilla extract and milk.




Pour about half of this mixture into the bottom of the jar.

Sprinkle in half your raisins and then add all of the oats.

Pour remaining liquid mixture on top, screw on cap and place into fridge.

That is it!  Told you it was super easy peasy. No shaking or stirring required.

When grabbing your jar for breakfast, do give a little bit of a mix just so you aren’t eating everything separately. I also like to add cinnamon as well for extra oopmh.


Thanks so much for reading, I hope you all will enjoy my recipe and thanks to Bernadette for letting me guest post!

Bye everyone!


Fire and Ice on Toby Creek Restaurant Review

My husband and I go out for dinner every year for our anniversary. I like to go to locally owned, nice restaurants, and have visited Fire and Ice on Toby Creek twice before. Located at 111 South Main St. in Trucksville, PA, Fire and Ice on Toby Creek is co-owned and managed by Chef Gary Edwards, his wife Lisa, Joe Fasula, and Sandy Fasula and features fine dining in a casual atmosphere with an emphasis on local products.

I have to apologize for two things. The first is this review is a long time coming. You see, our anniversary was May 20th, and we visited the restaurant on May 17th. The second thing is the terrible quality of the photos I took that night. Not thinking of photography when we were seated, we sat in the location of a red heat lamp, in a dimly lit restaurant, in the evening. I was using my phone, and all of the pictures came out grainy. If you can ignore the photos, however, I think my description of the service and, more importantly, the food, will tell you why Fire and Ice is one of my favorite places to dine!

Reservations are not necessary, although they do accept them (call 570-696-3580), and we had a hard time deciding where to go that night, so we didn’t make them. When we pulled in to the parking lot, it was packed. Turns out I’m a moron and didn’t realize there were several college graduations that day! My husband sighed (he hates waiting but knew I wanted to go there), and we went in to see just how long it was going to be. The host asked if we had a reservation, I said no, and he simply said “Let me see if I have a table open”. There were tables full of college graduates and their families. We were seated within two minutes.

The menu at Fire and Ice on Toby Creek varies by the season, and they have daily specials to choose from. Late May meant the beginning of the Summer Menu.

I let my husband choose the wine, and we ordered the Creamy Crab and Herb Dipper as an appetizer. Get ready for the first horrible photo…



We have ordered this before, and it is really good! Lump crab, in a creamy herb sauce served with Chesapeake seasoned flatbread, this appetizer is recommended for a least two people. Each time we order it, we devour it!

For our entrees. my husband and I appeared to switch personalities. After hearing the specials I decided that the 12 ounce Cajun New York Strip with crab meat blue cheese glacage over Yukon gold mashed potatoes with caramelized leek, vidalia onion, and sundried tomatoes sounded too good to pass up.



I chose the Artichoke-Bacon-Roasted Tomato Salad as the accompaniment, paying a dollar extra, but worth it! Again, I’ve ordered this salad every time we have been there.




My husband chose the swordfish special, which is what I mean about switching personalities. I’m normally the one to order seafood while he orders the steak, so of course we sampled a little of each others. I didn’t get any pictures of my husband’s entree.

The service was excellent, regardless of how busy they were. I wish I could remember the waitresses name, but I have forgotten. She was very helpful in her description of the specials, had everything completely memorized even though it was a long list of specials, was quick with our drinks, and returned several times to ask if we needed anything.

The next time we go I want to try the hearth baked pizza, or maybe the chicken pot pie, or the hearth baked lobster macaroni and cheese, or…you get the idea. They do have a children’s menu, so next time we go I think our daughter will be coming.

Blueberries N Cream Roll Cake – Guest post from It’s Yummi


Isn’t that a gorgeous cake? I’m so happy my friend Becca brought a blueberry dish to share with you today! I’ve had a blueberry bush in my garden for a few years now and have yet to see one blueberry. Maybe next year. Before I hand you off to Becca for the Blueberries N Cream Roll Cake, I want to publicly say Happy Birthday to my daughter, Amanda, who turned 5 on Sunday! We had a cookout for her birthday party, along with swimming and a small fireworks display at the end.

Here she is with her best friend, Jordyn, getting a chalk outline from my sister:



I know she had a great day, and she was thrilled that Jordyn got to sleep over. They always have a great time together, in between the typical 5 year old fighting. They will get over it someday, I think.

Today’s guest post, like I mentioned, comes from my friend Becca. Becca has always been there for me, I’ve been following her blog for a few years now, and I’m so glad we got to know each other! She posts more healthy recipes than I do, and if you need some low-carb recipes she’s your lady. That doesn’t mean she can’t make an awesome dessert, though. I’m sure you will agree!



​Hi, everyone! I’m so happy to be here with all of you today. I’m Chef Becca Heflin, from It’s Yummi. I graduated from culinary school 3 years ago, but instead of slaving over a hot commercial kitchen in a restaurant, I chose to pursue my passion for turning ordinary ingredients into extraordinary dishes on a my food blog! I love sharing my cooking knowledge and recipes with my readers. It’s a delightful job, and I feel blessed to have it! It was so nice of Bernadette to ask me to share a dessert recipe with you today, because it’s my son’s 22nd birthday. Happy 22nd birthday, TJ!

Unfortunately, he lives far away and we don’t see each other at all, so this blueberries n cream roll cake will have to suffice as his virtual celebration. Roll cakes look sort of intimidating, but truthfully, I find them to be much easier to make than traditional birthday cakes. See, I tend to drive myself a bit batty trying to slice a cake into perfect, even layers, because I have hand tremors. Now don’t get me wrong… I can bake up a cake and it’ll melt in your mouth because it’s so moist, but it’ll look like a 5 year-old made it! Want proof? Look at this delicious but disastrous chocolate layer cake (with the world’s BEST frosting) that I made last year. It’s awful looking! LOL

I think it’s much easier to make bundt cakes, like this pomegranate lime bundt cake, or rich and decadent cheesecakes like this whipped cream cheesecake, OR to put fluffy whipped cream on top of moist, tender sponge cake and roll that baby up into a beautiful, delicious dessert like this roll cake!

Roll cakes are really versatile, too. You can add flavored extracts like lemon or orange to your basic cake batter to give it a different flavor, and the filling options are endless. Roll your cake up with fresh fruits, preserves, chopped nuts, candies, chocolates, or just plain and simple whipped cream goodness. It’s completely up to your imagination and your taste buds.

No matter how you make your roll cake, I hope you enjoy it to the fullest!

How to make a blueberries n cream roll cake

Blueberries n Cream Roll Cake

Yield: 8-10 slices



  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup blueberry preserves
  • Fresh blueberries (optional)
  • Additional whipped cream (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 375°.
  2. Grease a standard size jelly roll pan, then line with waxed paper and grease the paper. That will assure that none of your cake will stick to the waxed paper.
  3. In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer, beat eggs and vanilla on high speed for 5 minutes, or until lemon-colored. Turn speed to medium and gradually add sugar, beating until dissolved.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Fold gently into egg mixture just until combined. Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly across the pan.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light brown and edges start to pull away from sides of pan. Turn hot cake out, waxed paper side up, onto a lint free, clean kitchen towel that has been well dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Peel waxed paper away from cake, Starting on short side of cake, roll up cake tightly into the towel and allow to cool completely.


  1. Place metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment (or beaters for a hand mixer) into the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Place heavy cream into chilled bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks have been formed. With mixer still running on high speed, lightly sprinkle sugar into cream and continue mixing on high for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.


  1. Unroll cake from towel and use a spatula to spread whipped cream evenly over the cake. Use an offset spatula or knife to apply jam in an even layer on top of whipped cream. Roll up the cake again and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with blueberries and additional whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Nuvino Wine Review and 4th of July Recipes

Disclamer: Miravante Brands, LLC provided me with product for this review. All opinions are my own and those who sampled the wine with me. 



Happy 4th of July to all my US readers! I don’t have a new recipe for you today, but if you are looking for recipes for your holiday cookout my Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Salad is always a hit, served with Blue Cheese and Onion Stuffed Sliders, and might I suggest Patriotic Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches for dessert?

Today I want to tell you about a new line of wine I recently had the chance to sample.  Nuvino is a new line of wine that is unique, look at that, it comes in portable pouches! For this review I was given the samples pictured above, and I gave the Sauvignon Blanc to my friend to try, the Malbec to my neighbor, and I tried the Red Blend, leaving my husband to sample the Chardonnay.

I love the portability of the wine, it would be great to stick in coolers for outdoor parties, coming in single serving size (187 ml) pouches that won’t break open, open easily, and are resealable. The pouches are called PreservPak and are designed to be highly-durable with a minimum self life of one year.  You don’t even need a glass, you can drink right from the spout!  This initial line includes wine from Australia (Red Blend), Chile (Sauvignon Blanc), South Africa (Chardonnay), and Argentina (Malbec). The 4-pack retails for $14.99, or individually for $3.99. The brand is initially available in 16 states, and expected to be nationwide by the end of 2014. Nuvino is also available online at Liquorama

I have to be completely honest here. I’m not really a wine snob. I do drink it occasionally, but I’m not the type that insists on the perfect wine pairing. I prefer red wine, to be more specific red dessert wines and don’t really care that white wine is supposed to go with poultry. For that matter, I generally prefer the less expensive wines over the more expensive. So, reviewing a wine itself is a bit hard for me. The Sauvignon Blanc I gave to my friend ended up being sampled by another friend. It is described as having “fresh aromas of white flowers and crisp citrus notes combined with green apples and white peaches”. My sampler said it was crisp and dry with a hint of apples. The Malbec my neighbor sampled was described as a bit bitter, but he’s not really a wine drinker. I could really taste the plums and mulberries in the Red Blend, but I would prefer something a bit lighter. My husband hasn’t tried his yet, but I’m sure he will this weekend. I would love it if they added a blush to their collection.

To sum it up, I would purchase these packs for a summer outdoor party where there would be wine drinkers. I find the serving-size convenient, I was able to easily fit the 4 packs in my fridge while it would be hard to fit 4 full-size bottles of wine. I hope they can expand there offerings after this initial start.

Patriotic Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches -Guest Post From Frosting and A Smile

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches


This week has been crazier than my usual level of crazy. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for my guest poster today, Laurie, and these Patriotic Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. If you want to read about my crazy week, and why I’m now weeks behind on new recipes and reviews, you can read on. If you don’t, you can skip right to the recipe, I don’t blame you one bit!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m very close to my daughter’s Godmother, Chelsea. She’s the daughter of two of my friend’s, and the niece of another, and many moons ago I lived with her and took care of her and her sister while her mother was in college and working. Her first baby, a boy named Ayden, was born on Wednesday after two days of labor. Even though I wasn’t going to be in the room when the baby was born, I wanted to be at the hospital, so I got the first phone call that she was going to the hospital last Tuesday at 3:30 in the morning. I never made it there before she was sent home, but I was wide awake from the phone call until midnight that night. She continued to have contractions, so I knew it would be soon, but by late Tuesday night I thought maybe not until the next day. I clearly remember writing a status on my personal Facebook at midnight that said “Okay, I’m going to bed now, nobody have a baby for the next two hours!” I should have know better, the phone rang at 12:53 AM! Thirteen hours later, Ayden finally made his appearance!




In the days following, I recovered from not sleeping for two days, put a ton of laundry away, spent time with my daughter and my sister, did garden work, and then our central air broke so I haven’t been cooking.  I’m coming back this week, though, so I will have more for you soon! For now I’ll hand you over to Laurie for this delicious dessert.

Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be hanging out with you here at Rants From My Crazy Kitchen. I’m visiting from Frosting and a Smile. This is the first guest post I have ever written. I hope I can do Bernadette and her site justice. From the first month I started blogging, Bernadette welcomed me like an old friend. She is so kind and generous with her time that there was no way I could say no when she asked me to write here.
I brought the instructions for Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches with me. We can whip up a batch while we chat.
We start with a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie. It’s slightly adapted from the All Recipes Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie. There’s nothing as tasty as this from-scratch version but If you only slept three hours last night because the kids kept you up (I’ve totally been there) or it’s just too darn hot to turn on the oven (been there too), you can use store-bought cookies.

To start, sift together your dry ingredients.

Beat melted butter with brown sugar and white sugar. I’ll let you in on a kitchen secret; Melted butter is the key to perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookies.
Add an egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and almond extract. The almond flavor doesn’t come across too strong. It just adds a little extra something special that makes people ask “what is that?” You can just tell them it’s your little secret.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Scoop the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Dunk the top of each ball into sprinkles.

Bake until golden brown.

Once your cookies cool, turn half of them over and top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can use any flavor ice cream (or even frozen yogurt) you would like.

Top each scoop of ice cream with another cookie, then roll the edges in sprinkles. Can you tell I have an absolute fascination with sprinkles? Confession; I’ve been known to order my ice cream sundaes with a double shot of sprinkles. Really, I don’t even need the ice cream. Just give me a big bowl of sprinkles swimming in whipped cream and I’m all set.

These red, white, and blue sprinkles are great for Fourth of July or Memorial Day. You can change it up with any colors you like. Try mixing it up to match a holiday or party theme.

Thank you for spending some time with me. I hope Bernadette will invite me for another visit. Until then, stop on over to visit me any time. Have a sweet day!
About the Author: Laurie helps you satisfy your sweet tooth on her blog Frosting And A Smile . She develops fun-to-share dessert recipes and breaks them down into simple steps so anyone can make them. Laurie is also a Parade.com contributor and three-time Emmy-nominated journalist. She is married and has a three-year-old son. You can follow her on PinterestFacebook or Google +.

(Baking with Kids) Easy Chocolate Cake -Guest Post from Baking Outside The Box

IF my daughter’s Godmother’s baby comes today (due two days ago and just got sent home from the hospital because her contractions weren’t progressing), Christa from Baking Outside The Box has brought the perfect recipe to share today, a chocolate cake! My birthday cake every year growing up was chocolate, and in a few years I will be able to teach the kids how to make this cake! I couldn’t ask for more. Plus, it looks delicious!  I’ve included the printable version at the end, with the prep time including the cooling time before frosting.


Hi, this is Christa from Baking Outside the Box, a blog all about making scratch
baking easier for the home cook. Today I want to share with you a great
recipe I use for teaching my kids about baking.

This chocolate cake is the easiest cake I’ve ever made, so it is perfect for baking with kids, since they can do most of the steps themselves. It rivals a box mix for speed and simplicity, but it really tastes great.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup Sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup cold water


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.


Grease an 8″ square casserole dish (for a round cake you can use one 9″ cake pan).


Sift the dry ingredients together and stir with a fork until well-mixed. Make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour the oil into the first well, the vinegar into the second, and the vanilla into the third. Pour the cold water over the top of it all, then stir with a fork until well-blended. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool, then frost.



4 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

dash of salt

2 Tablespoons milk


Cream together the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until well-mixed. Add the liquid and beat until fluffy. You can do this by hand since it is such a small batch, you really don’t need to use a stand mixer for this.


Have some sprinkles handy for the kids to decorate it!

(Baking with Kids) Easy Chocolate Cake -Guest Post from Baking Outside The Box
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Easy homemade chocolate cake, great for baking with kids!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Frosting:
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8" square casserole dish (for a round cake you can use one 9" cake pan).
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together and stir with a fork until well-mixed. Make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour the oil into the first well, the vinegar into the second, and the vanilla into the third. Pour the cold water over the top of it all, then stir with a fork until well-blended. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool, then frost.
  4. For the frosting:
  5. Cream together the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until well-mixed. Add the liquid and beat until fluffy.


Cheesy Bacon Microwave Fajitas and National Recipe Contest


You could win $5000 and be featured at the New York City  Food Network Wine & Food Festival 


Have you ever been traveling, staying in a hotel, and yet can’t afford to eat at a restaurant every single night? Have you ever stayed in a hotel that had kitchens right in the rooms? Extended Stay America has them, and even better, they are searching the nation for travel-friendly recipe in a recipe contest! These Cheesy Bacon Microwave Fajitas are quick ( around 20 minutes total to make), easy, delicious, and my entry in the contest. You can enter too, they aren’t just looking for professional cooks or recipe developers, but regular home cooks, just like me and you!

Away From Home Cooking is a recipe resource put together by Extended Stay America, and they are looking to add to it with YOUR recipe. Wait, it get’s better! Four finalists will win a trip to New York City to compete in a cooking challenge, with Food Network star Sunny Anderson and the grand prize winner will receive $5000 and a trip to the Food Network Wine & Food Festival and be featured along with Sunny! Ideal recipe submissions should be easy, able to be made in an Extended Stay America kitchen, which come equipped with a stove, refrigerator, and microwave (no oven, so no baking), and 10 ingredients or less. For complete contest details visit Contest.AwayFromHomeCooking.com. Contest updates are also posted on Extended Stay America’s social media channels including Facbook.com/ExtendedStayAmeric and  Twitter.com/ExtendedStay.  Voting doesn’t begin for a while yet, so I’ll let you know when it does. 

These fajitas only require a few plates to cook the bacon and onions and peppers in the microwave. Only the cilantro requires chopping, but you could use dried instead of fresh, just make sure to cut the amount to 1 teaspoon. Then you simply pile on the ingredients,fold the bottom over,



and roll.



Place seam side down on a microwave safe plate,



Cook on high for 1 minute (for two fajitas), then turn and cook for 30 seconds more. Top with sour cream or guacamole, and you have a great dinner ready in 20 minutes or less!



Cheesy Bacon Microwave Fajitas and National Recipe Contest
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Quick and easy fajitas cooked entirely in the microwave.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 fajita style tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • ½ cup frozen diced onions
  • ½ cup frozen diced peppers
  • 4 pickled jalapeno slices, diced fine
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • splash lime juice
  1. Place the bacon, not overlapping, on a paper towel lined microwave safe plate and cover with two additional paper towels. Microwave on high for 6 mins, then transfer to another plate covered with paper towels and microwave, uncovered, for 1 minute more.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, place the frozen pepper and onion on a plate in a single layer to defrost slightly. Drizzle with melted butter, add the chopped cilantro and jalapenos, splash with lime juice, and stir. Microwave on high, uncovered, for 4 minutes, stopping and stirring once every minute. Evenly divide the mixture into 4 parts.
  3. Microwave tortillas , wrapped in a damp paper towel, for 20 seconds. Place two strips of bacon in the middle of each tortilla, top with onion/pepper mixture, and ⅓ cup shredded Mexican
  4. cheese.
  5. Roll tortillas by folding the bottom up and then over length-wise. Place two fajitas on a microwave safe plate, seam-side down. Microwave on high for 1 minute, turn, and microwave for 30 seconds more. Top with sour cream or guacamole.


This recipe is featured on Hun, What’s For Dinner Simple Supper Tuesday #68

Minestrone Soup- Guest Post from Read At Home Mama

Welcome to another Summer guest post! This time my friend Erin from Read-at-Home Mama has graciously offered to be my victim…err I mean wonderful contributor! She’s not a food blogger, although she is a great cook, she writes reviews of all kinds of books. We met in an online forum for brides back in 2006, and have been friends since, even though we have yet to meet in person! She has brought us minestrone soup, which even though it’s hot out here, is perfect because many of the veggies in the soup are readily available at farmer’s markets now. I can’t wait until our local farmer’s markets start! Unfortunately around here I have to wait until the end of June :( On a good note, we plant a fairly large garden every year, so I don’t even always make it to the farmers market. Nothing is better than fresh from the farm or your own garden! Are you ready for Erin? Here she is!



Hi, I’m Erin. I’m a stay-at-home mama to a toddler and a furbaby. Books, dancing, and sweets are my greatest weaknesses. I can talk as easily about Daniel Tiger as I can about Scandal. My heart resides in the library, my soul can be found in the kitchen, and my spirit is always stretching at the barre…but my happiness lives in my 2-year-old. Thank you for joining me on this wild ride!

Summer is finally upon us! I know you saw the title and thought, “Soup?! Really? But it’s too warm out for soup!” Yeah, I know, it’s getting warmer outside…but farm markets are opening everywhere right now and there is literally no better time to get the freshest vegetables possible! I make this soup year-round and, in the colder months, I have to pick up veggies as they’re available in my grocery store. But who knows where they came from, how long and far they traveled between the farm and the store, and how fresh they really are! Now that you can get just about every vegetable you want from the farm stand, you’re guaranteed that they’re at their freshest and besides, who doesn’t love filling a bowl with every color under the delicious rainbow, right?

I’m a big fan of soup, as is my two-year-old. Now, I could go simple and just crack open a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup…or I could go for the Progresso tomato basil soup and throw together a few grilled cheese sandwiches. But I really want to go as healthy and fresh as possible, and there’s really no better way to do that than to make a soup from scratch. Minestrone is one of the most veggie-loaded (and therefore nutritious) soups out there, so I’m going to share my recipe with you today!

Full disclosure, though: I’ve never been a fan of real tomatoes. I’m weird that way: I’ll eat them as soup, or as a sauce on pasta or pizza, or as ketchup on a burger or with fries with no problem. But I’ve always hated the texture of the actual tomato. Offer me some cherry tomatoes for my salad or slices of an heirloom tomato to garnish my sandwich and I’ll politely decline. There’s really no rhyme or reason behind it; I just don’t like it. So when I decided I wanted to make my own minestrone, I naturally decided to omit the red stuff. (My advance apologies to all the tomato fans out there…and feel free to add them if you like them!)

The minestrone I love to make, however, is still delicious with or without tomatoes! When Joshua was a baby, he used to vacuum this soup down like he couldn’t get enough of it; now, as a picky two-year-old, he’ll still eat it but only if I’m eating it, too. The Hubby refuses to eat it solely because there’s no meat in it. I suppose I could add chicken to it — maybe I’ll try that next time and see if it’s enough to convince him.

For now, though, we’re sticking to vegetables!

So here’s what you’ll need to make my tomato-free minestrone:


Read-at-Home Mama’s Minestrone Soup

• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small minced white onion
• 2 diced potatoes (if you only have small potatoes, use 3)
• 2 cups chopped zucchini
• 2 cups frozen cut Italian green beans
• 4 cloves minced or grated garlic (I prefer to grate it)
• 4-6 cups vegetable broth (depending on how “brothy” you like your soup; I usually go between 5-6 cups)
• 1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained (light or dark, your choice)
• 1 can (15 oz) great northern or cannellini beans, drained
• 1/2 cup shredded carrot
• 2 tablespoons minced parsley
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
• 3 cups hot water
• 4 cups fresh baby spinach
• 1 1/2 cups small shell or other small shape pasta

Before you light your burner, cut up and organize all of your ingredients! It makes the cooking process much quicker and easier. Because the vegetables go into the pot in a particular order, I like to “chop and drop” groups of them into separate bowls. The onion, garlic, zucchini, and green beans all go into one bowl; I rinse the red and white beans separately and then combine them in another bowl; the carrots and potatoes get a bowl of their own; and I measure all of the spices into one more separate small bowl. So before I start cooking, my countertop usually looks something like this:



Okay! Now that your ingredients are all set out and organized, you’re ready to get started! First, you need to warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.



Things are going to start smelling yummy in your kitchen very quickly from this point on! Now, I’ve learned from watching the Food Network that if you dip a wooden spoon or the wooden handle of another utensil into the oil, you can tell that the oil is sufficiently heated by looking for bubbles to form around the wood. Go ahead and try that! If you don’t have a wooden spoon, that’s okay; you can typically tell if your oil is warm simply by holding your hand over it.

Now that your oil is ready to go, add the onion, garlic, green beans, and zucchini into the pot and saute them for about 5 minutes, or until the onions become see-through. When they go in, they’ll look something like this:



And when they’re ready for their veggie friends to join them, they’ll look like this:



You’re doing great so far! Go ahead and lean over your pot, and take a sniff. I don’t know about you, but I could eat these veggies as they are now! We’ll all have to wait though — there’s more deliciousness on the way! Now you’re ready for the hot tub party, so to speak. Add your vegetable broth…



…and beans…



…carrots and potatoes…



…and hot water and spices to the pot.



Tell me this doesn’t look amazing already!!



Now you can relax for a little while! Give it a stir, bring it up to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer for 20 minutes, and let the magic happen.

By the way, two quick notes:
1. You may or may not do this, but I have been known to “check” my vegetables from time to time during the 20-minute wait. Yeah, I’m that person who leaves a folded paper towel and a fork next to the burner so I can fish out one of each kind of vegetable with my spoon, lay them on the towel to cool, and then eat them with the fork. Yup, that’s me. Am I ashamed? Not even a little bit. :)
2. You probably noticed that the pot in the photos above magically changed color! I promise I did all of this in one day and one cooking session. I was so excited about making the soup that I started cooking in the wrong pot — the pot in the first several pictures would have literally overflowed had I continued with the recipe. I switched over to the larger pot that I was supposed to be using; crisis averted!

Ding-ding! Twenty minutes is up!



Now what?

Toss in your spinach leaves and use your cooking spoon to “sink” them into the liquid and help them wilt, like this:




And then pour in your pasta as well. (By the way, today I used whole-wheat elbow noodles to bump up the health factor and honestly, as someone who normally eats regular “white” semolina pasta, I couldn’t tell the difference — and more importantly, neither could Joshua! Score!)



Now you get another break! Let everything simmer in the pot for another twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

While you’re waiting, you could paint your nails, or pick up that magazine you’ve been meaning to read, or fold a load of laundry, or play with your kids for a few minutes (if you have any)…

What? Twenty minutes is up? Already?! Yay! Let’s go check out the finished product…



Yeah, I’m grabbing a big bowl for this one. You want some??

I like to sprinkle a little shredded mozzarella or parmesan, or a few garlic croutons on my soup, and keeping some crusty bread handy to mop up the broth is always a great idea. How do you top yours? Try it out and let me know what you think!!

You can find Erin here:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/readathomemama#