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Chewy Milk Dud Brownies

 According to the majority of my followers are female between the ages of 25-34. If that is correct we are all about the same age yes? I'm a child of the 90's. Actually born in the 80's but my youth was in the 90's. So most of you will know what I am talking about in my rambles here today.

I am stuck on a 90's kick. 90's tv, movies,  music, 90's all day all the time.  I love it all. Lets start with music.... there was some seriously good music to come out of the 90's and some seriously bad. My favorite? Sublime. I can thank my husband and my childhood best friend for that. It's my summer time sound track. Then there are others like The Smashing Pumpkins. I bet you would never pin this wholesome stay at home mom of 3 as an alternative music fan would you? It's true. As a young teenager I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan... locked in my room covered in band and movie posters blasting The World is a Vampire. Complete with my baggy camo cargo pants (yes camo and cargo... FTW)  an over sized men's L Smashing Pumpkins tee that most definitely went down to my knees, combat boots and thick black eye liner.  I was so cool....

On the flip side of the coin... when I wasn't stuck in my wannabe dark days I was in  mini skirts, baby doll dresses with uglier than sin metallic blue Zodiac platform SNEAKERS ( that I just about killed for),  bopping around to the Spice Girls, TLC, and that horrible Barbie song.... I loved that song.

There was one faze in 1999ish that I'm not completely embarrassed to admit I went through. The music was good, to this day some of my favorites. The angry girl band rockers.... Songs like "I'm a Bitch" by Meridith Brooks were my anthem! Seriously I was a bitch...aren't all girls at that age? " Just when you think you've got me figured out, the seasons already changin" Yeah that about sums me up, or so I thought.

The TV in the 90's was just about as good and bad as the music. I'm currently on a Dawson's Creek kick. Netflix has all the seasons....You can thank me later because I know some of you will join me in my Joey, Dawson and Pacey marathon this week! Pacey was the cute one... don't you agree? And come one... Joey is just annoying. Oh and guess what Hulu has.... Daria!

90's movies. Titanic. I <3 Leo. Enough said.

That was the time frame in my "dating" life, that we went on group dates without a chaperone to the movies. A little hand holding might have happened... perhaps a hug. Total G rated. If you were lucky enough to be on a group date with the boy you were "going out with" he might pay for your ticket, popcorn... and if you were really lucky Milk Duds.

Milk duds were the way to my heart at 13 just as they are now. My favorite movie candy of all time. I almost never get to have them except for the occasions we go to a movie. I broke my movie only rule recently and purchased a box for brownie making. I won't lie to you all... I ate most of them before I got to the brownies.

I highly recommend you make these brownies and start a Dawson's Creek Marathon. It's fun.  These brownies are thin and chewy, when eaten hot they are gooey and fudgy. Totally messy with all the melted caramel milk duds. When cooled they are nice and chewy. I love them both ways. But if I had to choose... hot and messy!


Guilt Free Vanilla Bean Root Beer Float That Will Rock Your World and an Honest Tea Giveaway

 Soda has never been allowed in our house. My husband and I rarely drink it and the kids have never had it.When I received a large shipment of Honest teas, juices and their Fizz.... my kids were in heaven. They never get juice either! I must really be depriving them because when they opened the box, their eyes lit up.

While my son was on April vacation the weather was great, I figured a nice treat would be a root beer float. I wasn't expecting to blow my kid's minds or anything. Floats were something I had often as a kid and never considered them  special.

It was like doing a science experiment with them.... first we scooped our 120 calorie frozen yogurt (that SOOO does not taste low fat) then we poured our zero calorie Honest Root Beer Fizz over the tops and watched the fizzy foamy action go to work. The kids loved the foam and had so much fun pouring the soda over the frozen yogurt and watching it foam up over the sides making a pleasant sticky mess for later...

While the kids were getting their minds blown over the foam action happening inside their mugs. My mind was too busy being blown by the fact that this treat was only 120 calories. Typically a root beer float of this size would be about 385 calories with a sugar and fat content that is off the charts. This 120 float tasted just as good if not better.

Honest Fizz zero calorie sodas are organic, naturally sweetened and do not taste like a "diet" soda. They still have that great taste I look forward to but without the guilt! With flavors like Root Beer, Professor Fizz (my favorite...tastes much like the popular Dr. Pepper... but is better and zero guilt!) Orange Pop, and Lemon Limey, there is something for every set of taste buds.


My New Favorite Salad With Creamy Lime Poppy Seed Dressing and My Week in 10

I have not done a My Week in 10 in quite some time! This week was my oldest son's April Vacation. I never realized how much I enjoy him being at school! Don't get me wrong, I love having him around but let me tell ya. I'm looking forward to Monday!

Here is a little peek into our week so far.

1) We had some wacky weather this week. Anything from perfect 50 degree spring like days, to 75 and sunny.... all the way down to 30 and sleeting. What F New Hampshire... can't you get spring right?

2) We made these.... Enough said.

3) Sydney... god love her... ate a new pair of shoes I just purchased. I swear dogs always know what to go for... always my new shoes!

4) My dad celebrated a birthday... that's my dad photo bombing my sister and I a couple years back when we were in Indiana visiting family.... He's a dork. Don't mind his messy shower head...

5) Sundays With Joy turned one! Holy cow!  A blog project I have actually stuck with....

6) I went shopping... and guess what!  I lost a whole pant size! I didn't have much weight to lose but I've had a stubborn 5-10 pounds that I gain, then lose, gain then lose... it's really annoying!

7) We have been having a lot of fun at the beach. When we move the kids and I are really going to miss the convenience of living in a lake side community.


8) Speaking of moving. Remember when I told you we found THE house? Well the deal fell through. Super bummed. However we found a house in the same town we are living in and have just finished our purchase and sales agreement!We are set to close June 28th! WOOHOO. The best part of this house is the walk in pantry that has a big window looking over the yard tons of built in shelving and is the size of an office. So guess who now has a FOOD BLOG OFFICE. The lighting is great, so I can set up my photo shoot area in there away from the kitchen/kids and still have tons of room for all of my food props and blog materials. 

9) I had a root canal on Thursday.... For the most part my teeth are in good shape. However I had one filling that fell out a while back... the filling was from when I was 12 or 13 years old. Well after I lost the filling I procrastinated going to the dentist... It didn't hurt so I figured I was ok to put it off a tad. Well yeah... now it's a $1500 tooth and I have to go back and get fitted for a crown as well. Lets hope that's not as painful as the root canal.... the procedure took TWO HOURS AND FORTY MINUTES. About an hour into it my nerves were exposed and gates of pain opened up. My Dr. shot me so full of Novocaine and nothing was working. I was in agony for the other 1 hour 40 minutes. Today... I still can't open and close my jaw and the pain is radiating from my tooth, up my jaw, into my ear and then up to my temple. WHAT the hell did this Dr. do to me???

10) On a brighter non painful note... I made this salad. It makes me happy. It's so bright, sunny, springy. Remember how I made my own mayo yesterday? Well here's what you can do with some of it..... First make this salad, filled with spring greens, avocado, berries, feta a sunny side up egg (made safe with Safest Choice Eggs)  and then my Creamy Lime Poppy Seed Dressing....


How to Make Homemade Mayonnaise and 30 Ways to Use it

Mayo is one of those condiments in my house that we can never run out of. If we do it's an emergency. My boys and my husband love the stuff. I typically only eat it in salads and such. I'm not a fan of it on my sandwiches.

My kids however.... they like mayonnaise sandwiches....

The mayo sandwich started about 4 years ago when my oldest was a picky toddler. I started giving him cheese sandwiches at lunch time as an attempt to get him to eat something pretty plain. Before I knew it he was pulling the cheese out and just eating his bread with  mayonnaise. Gross.

As he got older he started to request them.  I was leery on allowing him to eat them,  there was nothing really healthy about it. So I started negotiating... if you eat a banana, or a yogurt, carrot sticks.... anything healthy I will let you have HALF a mayo sandwich. This mayo sandwich rubbed off on my middle son as time went on. They would go visit their Nana's and when asked what they want for lunch... "MAYO SANDWICH PLEASE" I'd get this look from my mom like, seriously? You feed your kid bread and mayo??

Now that Owen and Chase are a bit older they do eat their Mayo sandwiches with turkey, ham and cheese. Normal finally. However they do ask for.... "MAYO SANDWICH WITH HAM AND CHEESE PLEASE!" Like the ham is a side to the mayo.

I never realized how easy it was to make mayonnaise at home. Folks, it's just egg yolks, oil and vinegar. It's so basic that you can add many different herbs, spices and flavors to it to zest up your sandwiches and salads.

The thing that makes most people nervous about making it, is the fact that you use raw egg yolks. Using raw egg puts you and your family at risk for food born illnesses such as salmonella or listeria. By using a pasteurized egg such as Davidson's Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs you can safely make and eat recipes that include raw eggs.


Sriracha Crab Rangoon Dip with Sesame Wonton Crisps ~Coffee Talk with Foodie with Family~

It's so much fun working from a base of recipes that is not my own. Last week for Coffee Talk I tried one of Rachel's recipes, this week I have had a blast browsing Foodie with Family's blog. I found it almost impossible to choose one. There were just SO many recipes I wanted to try. Rebecca's family food style is similar to my own. She is cooking for a large family so many of her recipes are budget friendly... which is exactly what this Mama needs these days since our food bill is higher than any other expense (even housing!).

I absolutely adore fried crab rangoons. They are my favorite part of Chinese Takeout. If you all remember I have my own basic rangoon recipe, this is something I set my husband to work on when I have the craving... let me tell you filling, sealing and then frying all those little rangoons is a time intensive task. When I saw this dip on Rebecca's blog I couldn't believe I had never thought of it before. I can tackle my craving and have my rangoons in half the time!

She also uses Sriracha in hers.... I am obsessed with the stuff it gets drizzled on every meal I eat. Sandwiches, meats, bagels, toast, eggs... It has become a recent addiction! The sriracha gives these rangoons just a little bite s it's not too spicy for those who are sensitive to spicy foods. If you wanted to leave it out all together. Sure you could do that too!

You all will love Rebecca's blog, be sure to read the following interview and then go make this dip! Her recipe is on her blog, Foodie with Family's Sriracha Crab Rangoon Dip. 

Rebecca, I am such a big fan of your blog. I had a blast browsing around your recipe index... next on my list is your Amish Cookies.... and perhaps I'll try some cheese making this weekend! I have just a few questions for you so my readers and I can get to you know you a tad more!

What inspired you to start blogging?  
My stepmom and my dad suggested it as a way to expand on the monthly newspaper column I wrote for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Where do you find your inspiration for your recipes?  
That's probably a harder question to answer than it should be. I think everything is a potential inspiration for a recipe. You know that meme that suggests a woman's brain works like a browser that has 2,857 tabs open simultaneously all of the time? Yeah. That's me. Conversations with friends and family, television, books, magazines, meals at restaurants. They all contribute.
You are a busy mom like myself, do you have any tips on how to get dinner on the table for your family during the week?  
I try to keep some building blocks for fast meals int he freezer. Having pulled pork in the freezer is like having money in the bank. I can go fifty million directions with one meal-sized container of pulled pork that was dead easy and inexpensive to put together. Another great base for fast meals is canned tuna. One of our favourite go-to's for last minute is a bowl of sweet brown rice topped with tuna, a fried egg, Asian pickled carrots, cucumber slices or cubes, cilantro, tiny cubes of cream cheese and a fried egg. We top the whole shebang with wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger. We're talking about 10 minutes of hands on time for a meal that beats the pants off of most other options.
We all have a weakness for some rather unhealthy....."trashy" junk foods. What is the one food you are embarrassed to admit you love?
I am an open book when it comes to food. If I love it, I'm gonna shout it no matter how 'awful' it is. For example? I'm an unrepentant Fritos addict, a lover of Andy Capp's Hot Fries, and a lifelong lover of McDonald's Fish Sandwiches (even though I only have about two a year... :-) )
        ~We are destined to be friends... because I too am a lover of Andy Capp's Hot Fries! Best      $1.99 spent!
Our food blogging community is filled with so much talent and inspiration. Name a few blogs you would recommend we all check out. 
This list could get long! If I had to pick just a handful, I'd have to say:
Jenna Weber from EatLiveRun, because I love her style, grace and the variety and road-tested quality of the dishes she posts.
Amy from She Wears Many Hats because Amy's humour, photography, food and spunk are all off the charts fabulous and endearing.
Robyn from Add A Pinch because of her gorgeous photography, crave-worthy food and Southern charm.
Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer because she is slowly but surely making me less afraid to entertain. I had dinner at her home and felt so welcome. She makes it entertaining achievable!
Wendy from Wenderly because some day I want to develop the eye for decorating and beauty that Wendy has. Seriously. Her decor and food is always simply lovely, like her!
Bridget from Bake At 350 because she makes the most gorgeous, craveable cookies I've ever seen and she always makes me laugh. I wish she was my neighbor!
Amy from Very Culinary because Amy has that perfect blend of being able to make fabulous food that everyone wants to eat that is still make-able by everyone. Besides that, she's one of my oldest blogging friends (and by that I don't mean SHE is old...) and she and her husband make the most hilarious food parody videos ever. EVER.
Rebecca, thank you SO much for taking the time to talk with us today. Be sure to check out Rebecca's blog Foodie With Family, you can also find Rebecca on Twitter and Facebook. Next week I hope you all join us to check out Amy, from Very Culinary! 



Butterscotch Muffins

Do you have those moments with your kids that you want to hold on to forever? '

If there is anything they remember when they are older I wish it's those little sweet memories I hold near my heart. My oldest son is on school vacation this week, so I had a play date set up with my best friend and her son at the park. On our way home this song came on the radio. My oldest son LOVES that song. So I crank it up per his request and glance in my rear view mirror.... all three kids were bopping their heads and singing along.

I turn it up a tad more and they bust it out. Rock star style. I just savored the moment for a full three minutes my kids who normally fight like cats and dogs were singing together having so much fun. It's little moments like that I want to keep burned into my brain. How cute they all were together...

I had another one of those sentimental moments the other night, all five of us were cuddled up on the couch reading books together. I turned to my husband and said. "Do you think our parents did this with us when we were kids?"

Neither of us have memories of cuddle time, story time, game nights or general family fun.  Now we don't come from horrible homes or anything, the average working families. We have loving parents and siblings. So why don't we have those kind of precious memories from when we were little? Is it because those moments didn't happen? Or perhaps because we don't hold on to those memories as we get older? I pray that my kids remember those fun silly days, our dance parties, story time with daddy, and all the little things that make me love being their mom so much.

Another thing I want them to remember are the yummy treats we create together. On Sunday morning I made these chocolate chip muffins from my friend Sally's blog. They were the best muffin. EVER. Not exaggerating... they really were. Owen requested we make a batch with butterscotch chips. His latest obsession. To make them a bit more buttery I made some adaptions to Sally's recipe. Nothing life changing just some tweaks. What  I love most about these muffins is that the base is not too sweet so the sweet butterscotch really shines through.


Chamomile Cake with Honey Frosting to Celebrate Sundays With Joy's 1st Birthday

Happy Birthday Sundays With Joy! Hard to believe that one year ago, I started a group of home bakers and bloggers and talked them all into baking their way through Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes. I invited anyone who wanted to participate to join in the fun. We started with about 15-20 participants. Today we have 150 members and are just over half way through the book.

It's been fun, we made so many yummy Joy the Baker recipes like, Avocado Fries, Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins, Lemon Lavender Bars (or in my case a tart),  Vegan Pumpkin Bread, and so many more!

Joy Wilson (Joy the Baker) is also a member of our group. She pops in from time to time to lend advice, cheer us on, and just chat with us. She is unbelievably sweet and exactly what you would expect her to be from reading her blog and book.

Last November Cassie (another group member) and I traveled up to King Arthur Flour to meet Joy in person and take a pie making class. It was so much fun! My only wish was that all of our members could have come with me!

This week to celebrate the group's one year birthday, we made Joy's Chamomile Cupcakes with Honey Frosting. I adapted the recipe just slightly doubling it to make it into a layer cake . I also reduced the cream in the frosting  so it would be a tad thicker and hold up to the layers.

My kitchen was extremely hot the day I decided to frost and take photos of this cake and it proved to be a minor disaster. The layers started slipping and frosting was on every inch of the kitchen and my camera!

It's a basic cake with a slight chamomile flavor, I added in some lemon to brighten it up. The frosting was delicious and oh so sweet! In hindsight I should have stuck to original recipe because a little bit of this frosting goes a long way. I didn't care for my cake to frosting ratio.

If you would like to try this recipe... grab a copy of Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes OR... you can also find it on her blog!

If you are a member of Sundays With Joy please link up your blog posts below. If you are not a member and want to learn how to become one, check out our Facebook group and request to join!



Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese for Bacon Lovers and a Cabot Cheese Giveaway

 Three states down 47 to go! Today we are traveling over to the Green Mountain's of Vermont. Vermont is known for it's maple syrup, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, and it's dairy farms. With all of the dairy farms you of course have cheese. Most famously known for being the home of Cabot Cheese!

Vermont is the prettiest state in the US. Not joking... it really is. I say it all the time. If my husband could find work there we would move in a heart beat. New Hampshire is not all that different, however there is nothing that compares to the rolling green hills and old dairy farms all over the Green Mountains. As  a kid I spent every summer in Vermont, I married into a family of Vermont dairy farmers, I was even married at a old Vermont dairy farm!

What better way to celebrate a state through food than with a big ol' bowl of cheesy macaroni! This is a classic baked macaroni and cheese with a couple twists. The first being that I started my roux with bacon grease instead of butter. I also added in the most ridiculous amount of Cabot Vermont Cheddar Cheese and then topped it with SO much bacon. This is a bacon lover's dream!

When it comes to my dairy products I always buy Cabot. Butter, sour cream, dips, yogurts, and of course cheese. Some of you may ask why I only use Cabot?

I use Cabot because not only do they produce a quality product, they are a dairy cooperative. They are owned by over 1200 local farmers all over New England and upstate New York. I know when I buy their product I am helping my neighbors.

I talk about Cabot products a lot on my blog especially anything cheesy... such as this recipe. I am not payed to do so, I just truly love their product and what their brand stands for.  Cabot has sent me some cheese in the past to play around with for recipe development, and today they are giving one of you lucky readers a Cabot gift package with a $50 value it includes lots of cheese, an eco friendly bag, and a Thick and Thin Cheese Slicer. After the recipe be sure to check out the giveaway details!


Photo Retake ~ Classic Potato Salad and Food Photo Tips for Dummies

I am no profesional food photographer. I am actually quite stupid when it comes to my camera and taking photos. With a lot of trial and error over the past 2 years of blogging I've learned a few things here and there. I still have tons to learn and hope to do so with every photo I take.

When I started my blog in June of 2011 I had just purchased my first DSLR, a Nikon D3100. This is Nikon's entry level DSLR. At the time the package I purchased retailed at just under $1,000 today.. you can buy that same kit for $600-700. When people come to me and say " I want to start a blog, what kind of camera do you use?" I praise this camera any way I can. Until you learn how to use a basic entry level DSLR there is no need to run out and buy a $3,000 camera!

After two years of fiddling around with this thing, I have not mastered it. I have gotten some tips from friends who are professional photogs. I play around here and there with manual modes and all that fancy techy camera stuff. Can I let you in on a little secret? I only shoot in manual about 50% of the time. Reason?

Because I have not mastered what settings will do what in what lighting and all that stuff I should know by now, it takes me forever and about 100 photos to get the shot right. So what do I do? Auto.... flash off.

Why flash off? Look at the photos below....

I recently made one of my favorite family recipes. My husband's grandmother's potato salad. This also just so happens to be one of the first recipes I ever blogged. Pictured above is the photo from my original blog post in 2011. This photo was taken using my trusty Nikon, at night after the kids went to bed, with an over head light on and the flash on my camera. Photo on the right, natural lighting, no flash.

Carrie's basic tips for dummy proof food photos:
*No flash, don't shoot at night and if you can use your natural lighting
*Use the lighting you have. My kitchen has little to no light. I take my plated food outside or in my daughters room depending on the day and the position of the sun.
* Photo back drop ideas: The back of an old cookie sheet, an old table, a homemade photo board, tile purchased at Home Depot or other building supply store, marble pastry boards, large cutting boards, fabric scarps, burlap sacks, old news papers... get creative and random.

For the longest time I shot my photos on an antique table I keep in my kitchen. It's small and just the right size. Best part is it has great wood grain and antique nails/screws that really add to that rustic look I love. Recently however I been a big fan of using old cookie sheets or the $1 place mat I found on clearance at TJ maxx that looks like wood... seriously $1 cleans up easy and looks rustic and woodsy. Love it.

I like to take a photos from every angle so I have a selection in each blog post. Pictured at the bottom of this post I did the plate shot. I placed the place mat on the floor and staged my food. Stood above it and took the photos. In the other side shot photos. I placed the place mat on my table backed up against a wall and placed a cookie sheet behind the food/place mat. With the help of Adobe Photo Shop or a free website I am able to play around with the shadows to create a dark back ground and then highlight my salad.

I wanted to do more of a tutorial style post today, however I came to realize two things.... I am not an expert, and I am a horrible teacher! Luckily there is tons of info out there on how to take great food photos. Check out the following articles and blog posts for some great tips from pros!

Photo boards and photo props:

DIY: How to make wood photo boards from Bakers Royal

Finding Props for Food Photograhy - Naomi Robinson from Bakers Royal on Gourmand in the Kitchen

Don't have natural lighting and have to shoot at night?

Katie's Cucina has a great set up for those who are not always able to shoot in the daytime

Don't have a ton of money to spend on props and lighting?

Food Photography Tips on A Budget from Family Spice

For my Classic Potato Salad check out my original blog post from my blog's early days for Grammy In Law's Potato Salad. This is a recipe I developed to copycat my husbands Grammy. She is one of the best cooks I know and never ever uses a recipe or writes anything down. When you ask her how she made something it's always a little of this and a little of that. After a full summer of obsessing over how to make her salad I think I nailed it. Yes it's that good... I spent an entire summer one year making potato salad!


Quinoa Pancakes and Coffee Talk with Rachel Cooks

The past few weeks I have been having so much fun with some of my favorite bloggers every Wednesday. At first it started with having them all do a guest post. Couple weeks into it I then added in some interview questions... now here I am changing things up AGAIN.

The idea behind Coffee Talk was to highlight bloggers I am inspired by. Having them do a guest post highlights their talent however it does not drive as much traffic back to them. So with some more thought perhaps I should pick a recipe from THEIR blog, make it, photograph it and then link back to them so everyone can check out their recipe and browse around their blog. I also feel as a blogger one of the biggest compliments is seeing another blogger make your recipe. It always makes it me smile when someone tells me they made something from my blog, and I always love trying recipes that my friends have posted.

I am excited that this week I am featuring the blogger who inspired me to start this series! Rachel from Rachel Cooks has a Blogger Spotlight series that features one blogger each week, she interviews them, features photos of their popular recipes as well as a peek into many of their kitchens! Not only does Rachel spotlight Bloggers each week she has tons of recipes that will leave you feeling hungry.

I had a really hard time picking just one recipe. When I think of Rachel's blog I think of two things... popcorn (she loves popcorn!) and pancakes. Last year she did a month of pancake recipes. The month was filled with some of the most fun and unique pancakes recipes from a group of bloggers. It was so much fun to follow along.

I browsed Rachel Cooks for two days until I landed on one of her older blog posts for Quinoa Pancakes. These are a classic pancake but protein and fiber packed thanks to quinoa and flax seed! Typically I feel like a bad mom for feeding my kids pancakes for breakfast, because it's a sugar fix a tad too early. These pancakes however I can look past the sugar content and feel good about the amount of protein and fiber they are happily eating!

After I stuffed my face with pancakes, I asked Rachel a few questions so we could all get to know the brains behind the blog!

Rachel, What inspired you to start blogging? 

I started blogging shortly after my daughter was born (she's 2 and a half now). Before that, I was a full-time doctor of physical therapy. I still pop into the hospital every once in a while to haul some butts out of bed (there is a little more to it than that--but that's the gist of it), but food blogging has opened so many wonderful doors for me while I'm at home raising my kids. I've always loved cooking -- that came from my mom, and once I was home with the kids I had (slightly) more time to plan meals and cook. When my blog started growing, I was hooked. I love getting emails from people who say they have made and loved a recipe on my blog. I love interacting with people (amazing people!) on social media. I love that I can "talk" to adults during the day without having to leave the house. I kinda just love everything about food blogging.  

Where do you find your inspiration for your recipes?  

Everywhere! TV, magazines, other blogs, cookbooks, certain ingredients might even inspire me. If I see....say....a parsnip looking mighty tasty at the store, I'll grab it, bring it home and create a recipe with that and whatever else I might have in the house. Sometimes it is a little more calculated than that, but most times, that is how things come about.

You are a busy mom like myself, do you have any tips on how to get dinner on the table for your family during the week? 

Busy?! Whaaaat? I thought stay-at-home moms just sat around and ate bonbons and twiddled their thumbs? Oh...wait. That's in my dreams. My best tip is meal planning! I'm not a highly regimented meal planner, but I do try to figure out about 5 dinners that I plan to cook before heading to the store. Usually we have at least one day of leftovers and then one day eating out. I find that when I meal plan, I'm much more likely to actually cook because a) I don't want the food to spoil and b) I'm usually looking forward to preparing a certain recipe or executing an idea I have. Another piece of advice is to do it gradually. Chop up the veggies during nap time or maybe the night before if you work outside the home. Prep some quinoa a day in advance for a quickie protein packed salad. And make extras! I love leftovers. Even if you don't want to eat the same thing two days in a row, throw it in the freezer for the following week or a busy day. 

We all have a weakness for some rather unhealthy....."trashy" junk foods. What is the one food you are embarrassed to admit you love?  

Oh man--too many to list! I love Twizzlers and pear Jelly Bellies. I can't keep really any candy or chips in the house. I have zero willpower. If I see it, I want it. 

Our food blogging community is filled with so much talent and inspiration. Name a few blogs you would recommend we all check out.  

This is such a hard question to answer! There are so many I love. Instead of listing some of my old favorites (you all know I love you!), I'm going to list a few of my newer (newish...kinda new...) discoveries. I love Jelly Toast ( Emily's photos are just gorgeous! I also love Fabtastic Eats ( Alaina is also a stay-at-home mom with two kids close in age to mine. She's super talented and I have a lot in common with her. And lastly, I really love Carrian of Sweet Basil ( She's hilarious and pretty much the nicest person I know. Also an insanely talented blogger. And I love the rest of you, too. 

Thanks for having me, Carrie! It was fun to be on the other side of the interview.

Rachel, this was fun! Thanks so much for hanging out with me on my blog today...  I giggled... we stay at home moms do way too much thumb twiddling
Be sure to check out Rachel's Quinoa Pancake recipe and look around while you are there! You can also  find her on Twitter and Facebook



Wild Maine Blueberry and Cream Hand Pies

What a loosah. I can't seem to get my act together and blog this week! Monday I was all set to share my second post in my Cookin' My Way Across America series. Seriously Carrie get in the game..... it's only week two! 48 states to go...

This week I am featuring my neighboring state, Maine. The home of fresh lobster and wild blueberries. Being that I live only 30 minutes from the state line, NH is known for much of the same food as Maine. Wild blueberries are probably my favorite part of summer where we live now. Our property is loaded with the low bush berries. When walking on the outskirts of our property line you need to watch where you step because these berries are everywhere! They are so tiny, but packed with so much more flavor than the larger high bush variety of blueberries. Just check out the size difference below. On the left is a wild berry I picked in the summer months and on the right is a blueberry bought from a local farm from their high bushes.

Because they are so small and hard to spot I don't often pick enough where I can bake large amounts of anything. If I want to make something that calls for any amount of fruit, like a pie. I buy Wyman's Wild Maine Blueberries. As much as I do love picking my own berries.... it is much more convenient to purchase these quality frozen berries.

These hand pies are so easy to make, I use my own homemade butter pie crust, and fill each hand pie with blueberry preserves made from Wyman's Wild Blueberries and a dollop of mascarpone cheese.

Lucky for me my mother owns a small canning company that offers a blueberry preserve made using Wyman's berries and New England maple syrup. If using a pre made crust these pies can be whipped up in under 30 minutes.

Wild Maine Blueberry and Cream Hand Pies

1 double pie crust 
1 cup wild blueberry preserves
8 oz room temperature mascarpone cheese
1 beaten egg
2 tbs raw sugar

Roll each pie crust out to be 1/4-1/8 of an inch thick. Cut 3-4 inch circles out of each crust

In the center of half of your circles dollop a couple spoonfuls of cheese and blueberry preserves. Top each pie with a second crust and pinch the edges shut. You can also do this by using a floured fork.

Place each hand pie on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush each pie with your beaten egg, sprinkle with raw sugar and cut 3 small "vents" in the center of each pie.

Bake at 350 for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the crusts are golden.          

Looking for some other Maine inspired recipes? Check out these oldies from my blog below!

Lobster Mac n' Cheese 
Lobster Salad Roll
Whole Wheat Banana Blueberry Muffins 
Blueberry Peach Cobbler Bars 
Blueberry Orange and Almond Pancakes 
Blueberry Curd