I am far from a baker. I keep cake mix and brownie mix in the pantry but I dread when my kids ask me to bake something for them. I don't know why, really. I just like to keep baking as simple as possible.

Every year I make my kids a birthday cake. Sometimes that means taking the cheater way and buying a cake already baked and just embellishing on it. Saves me time and I get to cut the chase and hop right to the best part, the decorating!

So for my daughter's birthday last Friday, I did just that. Picked up two 2 layer cakes from Walmart, added some sour candy and lollipops and guess what, it saved me a ton of time and it was a HUGE hit.

There is no recipe to this, it is simply a design idea. Loads of candy, wrapped around a confetti sprinkle side, tied with a sour Airhead Extreme strips.

It was so good and I think it looked pretty cool too!
It is getting close to that time and I have been searching the internet for ideas. As my kids get older, it gets harder to come up with ideas that they do not think is too 'baby-ish'. But heck, as long as they live with me, they will just have to settle for doses of 'cutesy'. I am the boss after all and what mama wants is what everyone gets.

Here is some past ideas for Easter. Use the Recipe Index to find these and more.

Sometimes being a mom of four, I just want to prep dinner and forget about it. Making a roast is one of those meals that you can do just that with. You prep it and place it all in a crock pot or in the oven.  I limit my use of crockpots because I really have no control over the final product. If it over cooks, it is done for and sometimes the contents can become a mushy mess.  I like to either boil my roasts in a large pot or place it in a casserole dish and pop it in the oven.

This is really easy to make. How much easier than taking a woosah breathing moment and cutting your vegetables and then seasoning everything. Dinner can be ready for the oven in what, 15 minutes? That is what I did here. I placed everything in the cooking dish, covered with foil and placed in ta preheated oven at 350 degrees. Cooking at that temp, I left the roast in the oven for three hours then reduced to 250 for two more. When done, your roast should be tender and able to be pulled apart instead of sliced. If it is still tough, put it back in the oven covered.

You will need:
Beef Shoulder Roast
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup diced celery
1/2 sliced bell pepper
1/2 sliced red, yellow bell peppers
Red Potatoes (cut in quarters or if small enough in half or whole)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 tbsp dried italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to your liking (I use 1-2 tbsp of each)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water
Carrots & Mushrooms *optional

Clean all your veggies and meat. Place meat in center of your baking dish and places your veggies around it. Pour in your water and Worcestershire sauce and then add your dried seasoning. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in the fridge until ready to cook. Preheat your oven to 350 and cook for three hours, reduce temp to 250 and cook for two more hours until meat is tender and able to be flaked.

Allow roast to sit for about 15 minutes and serve.

*while cooking, check in on the roast every hour to make sure there is enough liquid in the dish. You should have the liquid coming up halfway on the roast. That way it does not dry out.

One of the greatest memories I have from growing up is the fact that my mom made sure we all had breakfast and dinner as a family. There was no one person in front of the television while another was in their bedroom...we all set the table, washed our hands and sat down to a home cooked meal prepared by her. She did not play. We sat around the table, talking about what was coming up for the day and at dinner, we talked about how our day was. Now that I am older and I can reflect, it was truly magical.

With Valentine's Day upon us, it got me to thinking about the fancy dinner's my mom would have for us on the day of love. Dinner was complete with her best china given to her by her mom and we each had a stuffed animal and chocolates at our place setting. Of course, my dad had the best gifts. He and my mom exchanged jewelry and other tokens of their love in between lots of kisses on the mouth (to our kiddy disgust) and hugs. Dinner was the end all be all but breakfast....oh breakfast. It was so good. The start of our day...we all sat down to a fully cooked breakfast. Toast or biscuits, sausage, bacon, eggs, oatmeal or grits and ....grapefruit on holidays and special occasions.

One of my dad's favorite breakfasts started with broiled grapefruit. Now that I am older, I do not think I have even seen or heard of anyone else serving or eating this for breakfast. But he did...and that meant, we did too.

The tartness of the grapefruit paired with a sprinkling of sugar was just so good when warmed up.

This one memory makes me feel so good. It reminds me of the times at the kitchen table with my mom, dad and sisters, laughing, being mad at times, but always feeling loved.

These photos are not my own, but you can best believe I will be heading to the grocery store and grabbing a few grapefruit to broil this Sunday. Not to just serve my kids a bit of goodness, but to show them they are loved and share with them some of the love I got as a child.

What memories from your childhood are you keeping alive? Or what is that one thing you want to pass on to your children that you just have not yet?

 Happy Valentine's Day, all.

Find the recipe by clicking the links under the above photos of the grapefruits.
This super easy wrap idea is a perfect alternative to your typical Super Bowl fare. After rolling, slice into pinwheels for the perfect gameday appetizer.

You will need
Burrito sized flour tortillas
Sliced turkey meat
Sweet potatoes
Heavy whipping cream
Brown sugar
Fresh Baby Spinach

For the sweet potato, I sliced it and placed them on the griddle to cook. I sprinkled the brown sugar on top of each one and cooked until they became tender. Once done, I placed them in a bowl with 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. You will need more, depending on the amount of sweet potatoes you prepared.  I blended it until it had the consistency of mashed potatoes.  At this point you can taste it and add in more brown sugar if you want.

Spread potatoes over the tortilla, top with turkey and spinach.  Fold by taking one side over and tucking tightly, roll, cut in half and enjoy!

Very light but filling lunch idea which is super quick and easy to make.

Hot sauce is one of those condiments you will find everywhere in the South. Every restaurant will have it displayed and even if it is not in sight, you can certainly ask for it and I bet you they have bottles of this spicy sauce.

My family loves hot sauce. When I go to the grocery store, I end up with the huge 12 oz bottle and as big as it is, it only lasts a few weeks. My sons, especially put it on every single thing. Like seriously, everything. My 14 year old must have it on certain foods otherwise he will not eat. While we keep hot sauce in our house, being spice and hot sauce fanatics, we love trying different kinds of hot sauce. Sometimes we have challenges. Sometimes we do blind taste testing.

When we received two awesomely packaged bottles of Tabanero, my kids were ready. We even had a neighbor over who wanted in on giving the two sauces a try.

So I laid out two tasting bowls, filled them with the sauces and we did a taste test.

I really loved the regular one and the sweet one we all agreed would make a pretty mean hot wing sauce.  So we voted and we all gave the sauces high marks and decided that we would use them both for a batch of hot wings in place of our regular buffalo sauce for our Super Bowl Party.

*image from Tabanero Blog*

For delicious game day wings from the head honchos themselves, check out the Tabanero Blog for five finger lickin' wing recipes!

The heat level of the Tabanero sauces is just right. There is a hint of heat without it being overwhelming and there is no after taste that will leave you reaching for a glass of milk. I mean, it is really smooth.

When trying the Agave Sweet & Spicy, your tongue is greeted with a bite of spice then ends on a soft and lightly sweet note. For anyone who can not handle a bunch of heat, this one is really nice. I think it would be perfect with a few dashes of it on top of a burger.

So for this tasting, they both were winners, but we really have almost used the entire bottle of the Hot Sauce Picante. It was just that good.

If you have ever wanted to try hot sauce here is a list of things to try it on or in:

1. Add a few dashes to your cocktail sauce and kick up Shrimp Cocktail to a new level.
2. On popcorn. A few splashes and add a bit of heat to your popcorn.
3. In your bbq sauce
4. Instead of regular tartar sauce, add in a little hot sauce
5. In greens. Mustard, collard, turnip or even on kale.
6. Love baked beans, add in a few splashes.
7. In your sloppy joes. When mixing your sloppy joe, sprinkle in some hotsauce
8. Sprinkle on your eggs. 
9. Fry up some fish and use hot sauce instead of tartar sauce
10. Mix in a little hotsauce to your butter and place a bat of your spicy butter on top of a nicely cooked steak.

*sponsored post, all opinions and views expressed are entirely my own*

The new year has kicked off to a fabulous start. While the weather here in the South is a bit unusual for this time of year, the unseasonably warm weather still is not enough to break our winter eating habits. We have been filling our bellies with lots of warm soups and stews and chili is of course a staple for this time of year.

Whenever I make a soup or stew, I always have to serve some sort of bread. Usually, we go for hearty crusty breads that make it easy to sop up the last bit of broth from our bowls. Sometimes we do sandwiches. I mean, seriously, nothing quite beats the soup and sandwich combo and who needs to dine out when you can get a deli experience at home. With four kids, making things at home and giving my kids a restaurant like experience is way easier on my pocketbook.

On Fridays growing up, my mom dubbed it Fun Food Friday. That was the day of the week when she brought the restaurant to us. She made chili dogs, homemade pizzas, whatever we could get at the fast food joint, she made for us at home. I love that I get to give my kids the same thing I got when I was their age. My mom even has these cute little baskets lined with wax paper and she goes from kid to kid, saying, "Can I take your order?"

So on this slightly warm day, with just a hint of a cool breeze, we went deli style. I made a huge pot of Wild Rice and Mushroom soup and I decided to give the melts by Better Bakery a try.

At the end of dinner, all bowls were empty and there were nothing but crumbs left where the Chicken & Bacon Club melt once lay. The melts are a pretty nice size. I cut them in half for my younger kids and it was very filling for them. Of course, my teens wanted a whole one and my 14 year old son scarfed his down like he was breathing. The bread was nice and crunchy on the outside and soft inside with the cheese oozing out. Seriously. Dude. It was so good. It was so good, I called my mom and told her about it.

I am a stickler for details so, yeah, the packaging was really neat. 

For the soup, I kept it simple and hearty. I added a bit of heavy cream to the chicken broth to give it just a hint of creaminess. Pair that with some freshly grated Parmesan, it was so good.  Paired with the Better Bakery Chicken and Bacon Club melt, the soup was immediately inhaled by the kids. We loved dipping the pretzel crust into our soup.

This soup is something you can easily make in the crock pot. I cooked my rice separately because I really don't care for swollen overcooked rice. But of course, you can cook it along with your veggies.

Wild Rice, Mushroom Soup with Parmesan
You will need:
1 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice blend
4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup of grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1-2 stalks of celery (diced)
1-2 carrots peeled and diced
5-8 mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoon diced onion

Add all of your ingredients except the rice to a large pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for an hour or until carrots are tender.

Cook rice separately and then add to soup before serving. 

Serve with a bit of grated Parmesan on top. 

 We did the oven option for heating our melts. It gave them a really nice crunchy crust with a warm melty inside.

For a quick, simple and delicious lunch, why not try my super easy recipe for Pasta Salad and pair it with the Better Bakery Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza melt. I mean, who does not like pizza and what better way to serve it than with a little pasta on the side?

My kids and I are always having pizza in some variation. We make our own or embellish a store bought one.  These are certainly less messy than making our own and we still make it dinnertime or lunch time by adding a nice simple pasta salad.

I try to avoid a lot of chips and fries at our dinner table, and love giving my kids a healthy option that is not only --good for them--but good for them. This is a super easy and quick side dish that can be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge. There are many variations to this type of salad. I have an aunt who makes a delicious one using shrimp and chicken. Simply wow. This is also perfect for warm summer months.

Creamy Pasta Salad
You will need:
2-3 cups cooked pasta
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup Italian Dressing
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
Cubed sharp cheddar cheese
Cucumber (sliced)
Watermelon (cubed)

Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Best served chilled.

If you would like to give these delicious Better Bakery melts a try, click here to enjoy a coupon for $1.50 off. You can use this link to find a store near you that sells them. Here they can be found at our local Kroger. Check out the frozen food section at a grocer near you to find these treats and other flavors/varieties they have.

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