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Dinner Hack: Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast & Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes

Dinner Hack: Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast & Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes

Thank you Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes for sponsoring this post. Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes are real potatoes, real easy, delivering homemade taste on demand.

So much about our lives have changed over the past year. Leave it to a second baby to make things a lot more complicated all around. My husband and I also switched roles. Before, I worked at home full time and he took care of our son while doing freelance work. Now it’s just the opposite. Going from one kid to two is a steep learning curve. Tack on becoming the primary caregiver in the middle of it, I might as well be climbing Mt. Everest. I’m always looking for a dinner hack or two to ease my stress and make my day smoother.

Any mom who is successful at getting a homemade meal on the table every night will tell you she is utterly dependent on her slow cooker (the ultimate dinner hack), and so am I. If I want my family to feel they are getting the best meal that does not require much effort, I have to make my slow cooker balsamic pot roast. So moist, flaky and rich with flavor, it is begging for one side dish and one side dish only: mashed potatoes.

Dinner Hack: Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast & Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes

Thinking Differently About Potatoes

When I was a flight attendant, I lived in a crash pad. I was stuck there for Thanksgiving with the crash pad manager, Paul, who was from France. We decided to put together a true Thanksgiving feast for the two of us. At the grocery store I started to put potatoes in a bag, and Paul shouted at me “NOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” He never saw anyone make mashed potatoes from, well, potatoes.

In truth, not only had I never made instant potatoes, I’d never seen anyone else make them. Making mashed potatoes was always a somewhat laborious process of peeling, boiling, mashing, then added just the right amount of milk, butter and seasoning. Add too much, you have potato soup. Add too little, and you have dry potatoes.

I was skeptical when opened the package of Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes. Just add two cups of boiling water? Can it really be that easy? You guys, I’m hooked. These potatoes are really, really good, probably because they are made from 100% real Idaho® potatoes. The flavor is on point, and the texture can’t be beat.

Dinner Hack: Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast & Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes

The Dinner Hack

So here’s how it goes. When you wake up in the morning, put on the coffee, cobble together some breakfast for the kids, eat some yourself, etc. Once that’s all done, seer your roast, then throw it in the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, and forget about it for the rest of the day. Finally, when dinner time rolls around pull the roast out of your slow cooker and onto a serving plate (this might actually be hard, since it will literally fall apart). Pull out your secret weapon: Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes. Not only quick and easy, but super delicious! The best part is it comes in so many flavors from Buttery Homestyle® to Butter and Herb to Roasted Garlic.

Dinner Hack: Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast & Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 3 pounds beef roast (any kind)
  3. 1 large onion, diced
  4. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1 cup beef broth
  6. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  7. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  8. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  9. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  10. 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, brown beef on all sides, and set aside.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and cook until tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. Place the beef, onions, broth, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 3-5 hours.
  4. Remove beef and slice or shred the beef.
  5. Skim any fat from the cooking juices, place it in a sauce pan, bring to a simmer, add the mixture of the cornstarch and water and cook until the glaze has thickened.
  6. Serve alongside Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes, and drizzle with glaze.
http://www.miriinthevillage.com/2019/02/dinner-hack-slow-cooker-balsamic-pot-roast-idahoan-mashed-potatoes.html

I Took the Purina ONE® 28-Day Challenge!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PurinaONEVisibleDifferences #CollectiveBias


I’ll never forget when I took my dog Moses home in July of 2006. Moses and I quickly developed a symbiotic relationship. I was his person. When I took home Elijah in 2009, I thought Moses would be excited. He appeared more annoyed than anything. Matt and I married in 2013. The dogs were not thrilled with Matt, especially Moses.

2015 brought us our first child. The dogs liked our son, until our son started showing a lot of interest in them. Small dogs can be easily intimidated by toddlers. So in 2017, we adopted Pete, an Australian Shepherd, Border Collie mix from Saving Grace Animal Shelter.

Our second son arrived in 2018 around the same time we moved to the farmhouse where we currently live. The dogs have a whole acre to run around, and they hardly noticed the arrival of a new baby. Our family keeps expanding in one way or another, and the dogs have reached a comfortable level of acceptance. That, or the more particular dog, Moses, has become senile in his old age. Probably both.

Enter Ethel. I wanted a feral barn cat who could live outside. I was able to find a kitten through a Trap, Neuter (or Spay), Return program, also called TNR. Feral cats are very important for controlling rodent populations in communities, but their own tendency to reproduce at rapid rates causes over-population an many cats being euthanized. With TNR, cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped (a sign that the cat has been fixed and safe for the community) and returned to the neighborhood it came from.

For the dogs, Ethel has been the least welcome addition to say the least. Introducing a whole new species to the mix can add to overall pack stress. So I decided for the New Year it was time to get the entire furry-crew as healthy as I could. We took the Purina ONE® 28-Day Challenge!

Interested in Purina ONE® products? Check out the link here to purchase at Walmart.com!

Immediately, we noticed how excited our animals were about the new food. The dogs are extremely fond of the lamb morsels in particular. The dogs were so excited about the lamb and rice formula, we had to come up with creative solutions to keep them from competing too aggressively for it.

Our dogs have definitely shown a spark of energy since we started the Purina ONE® 28-Day Challenge. However, the most visible change has come in our cat Ethel. She has a much shinier coat and her eyes simply sparkle!

Take your pet from “good” to “great”! With Purina ONE®, you could see visible differences in just 28 days—like strong teeth, vibrant energy, sparkling eyes, and a radiant coat. Make the switch today and save on Purina ONE® when you register for the 28-Day Challenge at www.walmart.com/purinaone. What differences will you see? Visit your local Walmart to redeem your offer and realize your pet’s potential.*

*Save on ONE (1) 2.8-lb. or larger bag of Purina ONE® SmartBlend® Dry Dog Food, any variety, or 2.8-lb. or larger bag of Purina ONE® Dry Cat Food, any variety. While supplies last.

LuLaRoe Retailers Raise Over $4K for NDSS in Response to Recent Controversy

LuLaRoe Retailers Raise Over $4K for NDSS in Response to Recent Controversy

No two LuLaRoe retailers are the same. Short, tall, big and small, some retailers are stay at home moms, some are doctors, some are physically disabled and some run marathons… for fun (seriously, who does that?). This week, a diverse and generous group came together, and LuLaRoe retailers raised over $4300 for the National Down Syndrome Society.

The Back Story

Last Friday, LuLaRoe announced they severed ties with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Over the past year, LuLaRoe and the NDSS developed an official partnership. During a Facebook Live sale, a retailer named Bobby Budenbender, in an attempt at self-deprecation, used an affectation which has been interpreted as mocking people with special needs. The live sale was recorded, and posted to YouTube. NDSS was alerted to this video as was LuLaRoe. In order to remain faithful to their mission statement, the NDSS requested that LuLaRoe cancel the contract with the Budenbenders, or their official relationship with LuLaRoe would be terminated. In light of LuLaRoe’s Mission statement to “create freedom, serve others and strengthen families…” the President and CEO, Deanne and Mark Stidham did not cancel the Budenbender’s contract, as LuLaRoe is their only source of income, and the Stidhams felt the Budenbenders were truly repentant.

LuLaRoe Retailers Raise Over $4K for NDSS in Response to Recent Controversy

For retailers, this news was a shocking blow. This story was picked up by several news outlets including The Mighty and Business Insider. The choices of one retailer colored the public’s perception of so many others who are deeply sensitive to those with disabilities and special needs. Putting their money where their mouth is, and spearheaded by the fabulous Corinna Gil, retailers in a consultant only wholesale swap group raised over $4300 for NDSS.

Here’s why they did it, in their own words:

“I’m a speech pathologist who has worked with children with disabilities for 13 years, including children with Down syndrome. Serving the special needs population in my community is what I do every day, and LuLaRoe has also given me another avenue to do so. I’m so sad our partnership with NDSS had to come to an end because of one retailer’s poor judgement.” Candace Hurley

“LuLaRoe as a company made a decision that I did not agree with. Fortunately, that very same company has given me the ability to give & bless others, by way of free clothing or by having fundraisers. While I am disappointed in the way this issue was handled, I chose to let my actions speak louder than words. Instead of speaking negatively & focusing on what they could have done differently, I chose to give. One of the biggest reasons I remain with this company, is seeing the sisterhood behind the scenes. I have witnessed thousands of amazing consultants come together and freely give to whatever cause has a need at the present time. I donated, like thousands of others, simply because I can & I knew it was the right thing to do .” Caressa Bridgman

“With all that transpired, [I] was really torn on which way to turn with my business. To continue, to not carry on, [but] thankfully I logged in and saw Corinna had started this wonderful fundraiser and it reminded me that we have the power to do good with our business and that there are so many more that are there for good. In the end what you do is your signature, you choose to have your personal one be a good one or not.” Leah Simmers

“I donated because I am a LLR retailer but more importantly I am blessed to be the sister of an amazing person that just happens to have an extra set of chromosomes. LLR has a culture of support and acceptance, all of which are what being a human should give you the right to get, regardless of sex, color, orientation, faith, or intellectual ability. Those with Down syndrome as well many other conditions deserve the ability to be treated as an individual. Coming from the background of a proud sister of a gold medal Special Olympian swimmer as well as the profession of an occupational therapist, those that are considered to be different by some should be celebrated instead of being felt less than. LuLaRoe was meant to make those feel comfortable with themselves. I donate because LLR gives does provide those opportunities.” Kaitlin Regan

Updates

LuLaRoe CEO Mark Stidham announced on Tuesday, that in light of a second video from Bobby Budenbender which can only be described as an awkward and misguided apology, the Budenbenders are suspended for 30 days from LuLaRoe, at the end of which, their re-entry will be evaluated. Stidham said the suspension was the result of the damage other LuLaRoe retailers have suffered from Budenbender’s actions. Furthermore, LuLaRoe retailers should continue to donate as led to causes important to them, including the National Down Syndrome Society.

LuLaRoe Retailers Raise Over $4K for NDSS in Response to Recent Controversy

And donating they are! To date, LuLaRoe and its retailers have raised over $7million dollars for charitable causes. Hats off to these amazing retailers who made their voices heard with their pocketbooks. And a special thanks to the many more who dedicate their lives to helping those with special needs every day.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

Thank you HGTV HOME™ by Sherwin-Williams for sponsoring this post. Visit HGTV HOME™ by Sherwin-Williams for the latest in color inspo and get started on your home project today!

Over the past couple months, it has become clear to us that our son is no longer a little baby. He’s not even a baby-ish toddler or a toddler-ish baby. He’s a more like a toddler-boy. He has opinions about things, a strong will and he can manually work our cable box better than we can. We have been talking about transitioning him from a crib to a big boy bed. People tend to have one of two opinions about this: 1. As long as he can’t crawl out, keep him in that crib as long as you can, and 2. The longer you wait, the harder the transition is.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

When I was pregnant, I went to great deal of trouble to give my son the cutest nursery ever. Well, after a couple moves, this poor boy’s room has become pretty plain. When we moved to this house, the room was a very berry purple, so we painted it white. Sure, it had some cute toys and even a teepee (which broke), but then all his toys moved out into the family room. The nursery became a giant, boring sleeping place.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

Finally, the moment came when we couldn’t wait any longer to transition our son to a big boy bed.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

WE’RE PREGNANT! And due August-ish.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

Last summer we lost a baby. It was much more painful that I could have ever imagined. The trauma of the actual miscarriage was much worse than the doctor had described. When we got that plus sign again, I was cautiously optimistic, emphasis on the “cautious” part. But thank God, I am almost 12 weeks along and the baby is healthy. I mean, I’ve been puking non-stop, but the baby is okay. ☺

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

Our son and his brother or sister will have to share a room, so we wanted to delineate one part of the room to the baby and the other to our big boy. We also wanted to warm things up a bit, but we weren’t sure which color would go along with the relaxing vibe of our home.

Selecting a Color.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

We went with Grayish (HGSW2447) a color from the HGTV HOME™ by Sherwin-Williams Thoughtful Living Color Collection. With four on-trend 2018 Color Collections of the Year from HGTV HOME™ by Sherwin-Williams, it’s easier than ever to bring harmony to your home. Each Color Collection has a range of colors that go together in any combination, helping take the guesswork out of choosing color and giving your home a sense of room-to-room harmony. All you have to do is choose the designer-inspired look you want to achieve from themes like Next Journey, Future Thinker, Thoughtful Living or Individual Mix. The color and  HGTV HOME™ by Sherwin-Williams INFINITY Interior Paint and Primer not only looks beautiful, it went on the wall so smoothly.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

I found a vintage mid-century twin headboard at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was only $15 and the frame was $20 – score! We got our boy sheets featuring his favorite animal, an elephant. I was tempted to put art up above his bed, but he has already proven that he’d be interested in playing with it. We left up the simple, lightweight art that was originally there.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

We moved the nursery portion over to the newly-painted side. I found this very sweet painting of a bear for the little bear we are expecting. We didn’t change anything else, but it’s remarkable how a new coat of paint can make everything look new.

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

The Big Boy Bed Transition and a HUGE Announcement from the Nadlers!

We are so excited for this new chapter in our lives. I can’t wait to see our big boy turn into the Best Bro Ever. If you are expecting big changes to your home, or just need to freshen things up, Take the guesswork and frustration out of coordinating colors in your home by using one of the HGTV HOME™ by Sherwin-Williams new 2018 Color Collections of the Year.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Courtesan Au Chocolat – Make it at Home!

Hey friends, we’re almost done with holiday season – just one more to go! Time to give it all you got for New Year’s Eve, and I have the perfect, somewhat difficult, show-stopper for your friends and family. If you’ve watched the Grand Budapest Hotel, you’ll remember a very desirable dessert called Courtesan Au Chocolat. It looks regal and elegant and fragile. Believe it or not, it’s a pretty heart dessert, but elegant all the same.

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Pastry can be a tricky thing. It’s all about timing and attention. But once you have it down, pastries can be incredibly durable and you can get creative with it. You can add different fillings, diving icings, and all kinds of different decorations to make something that is truly unique to you.

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Best part, Courtesan Au Chocolat is chalk-full of calories. How many? I don’t know, but you better get them all in before you decide it’s time hit the gym on January 1st. I’m not your personal trainer, I’m your temptress. I use real butter and sugar. So go at it. Eat it all. I’ll try to get more everyday life health-friendly come January. I promise!

Well, maybe.

Purim is around the corner.

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Would you look at that chocolate custard oozing from the light and fluffy pastry? Good stuff!

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been trying to think about mine. I’m sure there are things to change about my life, particularly when it comes to being active, but sometimes I have so much going on, I don’t know how to fit things in. One thing is for sure, I’m going to be spending more time here. I’ve had this blog for eight years, and it’s truly where my heart is. So tell me, what are your New Year’s resolutions?

Courtesan Au Chocolat

You need this Courtesan Au Chocolat recipe. Pin the pic below!

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Courtesan Au Chocolat

Ingredients

    The Pastry
  1. 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 stick butter
  4. 4 eggs, beaten
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. A larger pinch of sugar
  7. The Custard Filling
  8. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  9. Several large pieces semi-sweet chocolate
  10. 3 egg yolks
  11. 1/4 cup sugar
  12. 2 spoons cocoa powder
  13. 1 tablespoon flour
  14. Cornstarch to thicken
  15. Icing
  16. 1 cup powdered sugar
  17. 1 tablespoon milk
  18. Dash of vanilla
  19. Food coloring (pink, lavender and green)

Instructions

    The Pastry
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Bring the water, butter salt and sugar to a boil.
  3. Remove from the burner and quickly mix in the flour. Return to heat for a few minutes, stirring, and cook until the dough forms a single lump.
  4. Allow to cool just enough to keep the eggs from cooking and stir in very gradually with a strong wooden spoon.
  5. Line a baking sheet in parchment paper or a silpat and pipe the dough into spoon size dollops. You will need small, medium, and large size pastry balls (large tablespoon, teaspoon and hazelnut size dollops) to make a courtesan.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 25-35 minutes. You may want to put the smaller pastries on a separate tray as they will cook more quickly.
  7. Remove from the oven and discreetly make a small piercing in the choux to allow the steam to escape.
  8. The Filling
  9. In a saucepan, heat the milk gently and add chocolate until fully incorporated.
  10. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa and a few spoons of cornstarch into a smooth mixture.
  11. Add half of the hot chocolate milk to the bowl, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Then add this mixture back into the rest of the hot milk in the saucepan, stirring over gentle heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a custard.
  12. Remove from heat and chill.
  13. Icing
  14. Mix powdered sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency.
  15. Separate into 3 small bowls and add food coloring to each - one pink, on lavender, one pale green. Reserve a small amount of white icing.
  16. Assembly
  17. Once cooled, spoon the chocolate custard into a pastry bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.
  18. Dip the large balls in the pink icing, the medium balls in the green icing and the small balls in the purple icing. Pipe decorative squiggles on each ball with the white icing.
  19. Stack the balls on top of each other starting with the larger ball and ending with the smaller ball. You may want to insert a dowel down the middle for extra support.
  20. Pipe a dollop of white icing on the top, and place a coffee bean.
http://www.miriinthevillage.com/2017/12/courtesan-au-chocolat-make-home.html

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

I’ve had this homemade hamburger buns recipe for a long time now, always intending to post it in the summer. For one reason or another, that never happened. I guess we don’t typically think of December as hamburger season, but it is baking season, and hey, why not?

Many people debate about what makes a great hamburger. I recently learned from my southern friends that Duke’s mayonnaise is the only mayonnaise to use on a hamburger or any sandwich ever. After being challenged to try it, I’ll say they are right. Why is Duke’s mayonnaise so good? Anyway, no matter what secret ingredients people swear by, I think we all can agree it’s the small touches that take a hamburger from good to amazing.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

It can’t be doubted. Fresh bread is a game-changer, and though it’s not practical to do all the time, with a little planning, homemade hamburger buns are likely turn heads of your family and friends. Toast them, and your burger is next level. Pro tip: slather with Duke’s Mayonnaise before you put them on the skillet and you won’t be sorry.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

So, it’s not summer and it’s not BBQ season, but any time is a good time for a hamburger, and winter is perfect for baking. I hope I made my case for posting this now, the week before Christmas. Homemade hamburger buns were just too good to keep to myself for so long.

What do you like to put on your burger? Onions, pickles, tomatoes, slaw – whatever it is, tell me in the comments!

Homemade Hamburger Buns

If you want to save this recipe for when it’s actually BBQ season, be sure to pin the pic below!

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Ingredients

    For Dough
  1. 2 tbsp margarine
  2. 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  3. 1 packet dry active yeast
  4. 2 tbsp warm water
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1.5 tsp salt
  7. 2 tbsp sugar
  8. 3 cups flour
  9. For Topping
  10. 2 egg yolks + 1 tbsp warm water, slightly beaten
  11. sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear all around the sides of the pot. Remove quickly and let cool to the temperature of warm bathwater.
  2. In a little bowl, combine the dry active yeast, 2 tbsp warm water and a pinch of sugar. Stir a couple times and then let sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should start to bubble a little bit and get creamy/foamy.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the margarine, slightly cooled coconut milk, egg, sugar and yeast. Mix on low until combined and margarine is well incorporated.
  4. Mix together two cups of the flour and the salt, then add that to the wet ingredients. Mix on high until well blended.
  5. Change to a dough hook on your mixer. Add the remaining cup of flour and mix on high speed for five minutes. You can add a little bit more flour here if your dough seems especially wet, but this dough is supposed to be sticky!
  6. Your dough should be sticky, but also smooth and elastic if you stretch it with your fingers. Remove dough from bowl and place in an oiled mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 2 1/2 hours.
  7. After 2 1/2 hours, punch down dough on a floured surface then roll out to 1/2" thick. Cut circles using a large biscuit cutter. Place circles on a parchment paper or silpat-lined baking sheet. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top and let rise again for 1.5 hours.
  8. Preheat your oven to 375.
  9. Brush the rolls with the egg yolk and warm water mixture. If you are adding sesame or poppy seeds, scatter them over top.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes until deeply golden.
http://www.miriinthevillage.com/2017/12/homemade-hamburger-buns.html

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookies

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Do yourself a favor. Go to the flea market or Home Goods or whatever and buy yourself a small, 8 inch cast iron pan. Do it for no other reason than to make yourself a giant skillet chocolate chip cookie. If you want to be fancy, make sure you also have some vanilla ice cream to put on top.

When I lived in LA there was a restaurant chain called BJ’s that would make something called Pizooki. It was a hot deep dish cookie with ice cream on top, and you’d eat it out of the pan. It felt special to that restaurant. Then, my husband and I came across this smallish cast iron pan, and realized that we didn’t need to fly to California to make pizooki. We could make it ourselves, in our house, without the judgement of other restaurant patrons while we filled our faces.

This skillet chocolate chip cookie recipe is so easy, it can really be one of those “I’m in the mood for a cookie” type of recipes. And at the end of the day, you can say “I just had one cookie.”  It doesn’t matter if you actually at a giant cookie with ice cream on top.

Because this recipe doesn’t involve making tiny, messy balls from dough, this skillet chocolate chip cookie is also great to make with your kids for Santa, if you’re into Santa these days. I don’t know what the Christmas world is about anymore. If it’s still about cookies, this works and it doesn’t take all your time, patience and kindergarten school master voice.

So, how about it? Make this skillet chocolate chip cookie for Santa? Or yourself? Pin the pic below!

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients

  1. • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter, softened
  2. • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  4. • 1 large egg
  5. • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  6. • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  7. • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  8. • 1/2 tsp. salt
  9. • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add 8 tablespoons of butter and the sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, beating until well combined.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low. Stir in the chocolate chips until just combined.
  4. Grease the bottom and sides of a 8-inch cast-iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of the butter.
  5. Press the cookie dough into the prepared skillet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are crisp and the cookie is golden and cooked through.
  6. Remove from oven. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.
http://www.miriinthevillage.com/2017/12/skillet-chocolate-chip-cookie.html

LuLaRoe and the Americans with Disabilities Act

LuLaRoe and the Americans with Disabilities Act

I’ve written before about how I don’t understand why people shop the super-sized LuLaRoe groups. So many rules: no passing, no ISO, you must pay your invoice within an hour. Furthermore, the live sales are a land grab. While there are more options to choose from, trying to actually claim the item of your dreams is akin to catching the bouquet at a wedding. Obviously, whatever these super-sized groups are doing is working for them, and not hurting their sales. And perhaps customers like the thrill of competing to buy. But dear customer, please know that no matter how popular a LuLaRoe Retailer is, and no matter how strict the rules for shopping with her are, she may not break the law. And yes, that especially includes the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is long, but essentially says that individuals with disabilities have a right to participate in all aspects of society. This requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees and for businesses to reasonably accommodate customers. Thus, almost every brick and mortar store has wheelchair access. As an American with a disability, I have benefitted from this act. I worked for an employer who didn’t take this law into consideration when he rented an upstairs office building. The building did not have an elevator. I have Cerebral Palsy. While for the most part my disability does not interfere with everyday life, when I was pregnant with my son, my doctor insisted that I no longer climb stairs. As a result, my employer was required to have me work from home for the rest of my pregnancy.

LuLaRoe and the Americans with Disabilities Act

A Learning Moment

Last Thursday, there was an incident during a live sale when one of LuLaRoe’s top 100 sellers allegedly refused to accommodate a deaf customer. I don’t want to comment on that specific incident as I wasn’t watching and the video it is no longer available. Admittedly, the incident was a learning moment for me. I had never considered what I would do if I had a deaf viewer. Knowing me, I’d probably scramble to find a pen and a paper, scrawling down everything I said until someone would point out that I could just literally show the tag. Show the tag! Oh my goodness, it’s such an easy accommodation, not only for the deaf, but for those who watch with the sound off. And it literally takes a second and costs the retailer nothing.

Over the past year as a LuLaRoe retailer, I discovered a lot of my customers live with disabilities. This brand is important to them, because they can feel pretty and comfortable in spite of their physical limitations. I have never had any problem answering their questions, because I too have physical limitations. Customers are the life-blood of this business, and everyone deserves a positive shopping experience.

LuLaRoe and the Americans with Disabilities Act

A Hairy Revelation

On Friday, I went in for a scheduled hair appointment. Sadly, I learned my hair stylist is in the hospital (She is okay, and I wish her a speedy recovery). Some other stylists took over my appointment and the results were disastrous. Lots of tears. When I called back to express my dissatisfaction, a mentor-stylist made me feel like somehow the results were my fault and “what did you expect?”  I was dumbfounded. Felt stuck. I thought I had no options. Then I had a revelation. “I’m the customer here, and I don’t want you touching my hair.” I wasn’t stuck. I could demand more.

A customer is not subject to a LuLaRoe retailer’s bidding. You owe her nothing. Women love LuLaRoe clothing, because it makes them feel beautiful. The shopping experience should make you feel just as good. My commitment to my customers goes well beyond complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would be my honor to serve you this holiday season and beyond. Join my VIP group to learn more.

(*First two photos provided by LuLaRoe Elegant Capsule assets.)

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Holiday recipes are not exactly designed with nutrition in mind. And why should they be? Live a little! Still, you need to get those vitamins in during the cold winter months. Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin is the perfect solution – just douse those vitamins with starch and cheese. Problem solved.

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Even better, you can bake potatoes and squash au gratin dish in a cast iron skillet, and making it a true one-pot dish or you can bake it in a beautiful pie plate with a really nice crust. It travels well and makes mouths water. The holidays are about impressing your friends with comfort food, right? Well, at least my holidays are? Okay, moving on.

I love complex layering of flavors, a signature of far eastern cuisine, but sometimes, you gotta really just love food the way G-d made it – to be tasted! Despite pumpkin-spice everything, squash actually has a pretty delicate flavor that needs to be wooed out of it’s cocoon.

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Being totally real with you all, the simpler you can make a dish with a few quality ingredients, the better. Instead of adding a bunch of flavor here and there, just make love to a few small ingredients, bringing out the best of what they have to offer.

And when your family asks you to bring a vegetable to the family potluck, say “no problem!” You will make an absolutely mouth-watering potatoes and squash au gratin, then smother it in delicious cheese. Make the recipe your go-to. Priorities, right?

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Save this recipe for your next family dinner! Pin the pic below.

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Potatoes and Squash Au Gratin

Ingredients

  1. • 2 tablespoons butter
  2. • 1/2 onion thinly sliced
  3. • 1 zucchini sliced in rounds 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  4. • 1 yellow squash sliced in rounds 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  5. • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  6. • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  7. • 1/4 cup parmesan
  8. • 1 cup shredded smoked gouda (or whatever really nice, melty cheese you prefer)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until the edges start to brown. Add garlic and cook for additional 1 minute. Add cream and simmer until bubbly and starting to thicken. Slowly stir in parmesan. Add zucchini and yellow squash and cook an additional 5-6 minutes.
  3. Cover with smoked gouda and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
http://www.miriinthevillage.com/2017/12/potatoes-squash-au-gratin.html

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

Thank you The Fresh Market for sponsoring this post. Visit a store near you to get everything you need for a memorable and delicious holiday!

Anyone else still recovering from Thanksgiving? Y’all, I made EVERYTHING. Turkey, potatoes, gravy, rolls, pies. Thank goodness my mom and hubby took care of the stuffing and brussel sprouts. Suffice it to say, I’m feeling pretty done for the holiday season with make things from scratch. Thank goodness for The Fresh Market. They have so many items that require little to no prep, and look amazing for all your holiday needs. And, they have one of my absolutely most favorite things: ready-made baked brie in puff pastry. It’s the best!

I first heard about The Fresh Market from my mother-in-law, Miriam. She has never considered herself a chef, so when she has occasion to put together a family meal or entertain, The Fresh Market is her go-to. She can get a number of things that are already prepared, so she can focus on what really matters, enjoying her family and guests. However, it wasn’t until I walked in The Fresh Market that I realized how delightful this local grocery chain is! The Fresh Market is a specialty grocer known for providing a curated product selection of specialty foods with exceptional quality and the finest ingredients.

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

I think the easiest way to entertain during the holidays is with finger foods that people can nibble on throughout the event. And there’s nothing more impressive looking that a charcuterie board. Now, charcuterie actually refers to a sampling of cured meats. But since this is a kosher blog, and we don’t mix milk and meat in our home, I thought It would be awesome to put together a vegetarian charcuterie board for a recent event! The key is cheese, fruit, olives and crackers displayed in a way that says “abundance.” I was able to find these awesome certified kosher pre-washed frozen berries and certified kosher lavash bread and crackers.

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

Best of all, The Fresh Market had these ready-made baked brie in puff pastry dishes, just ready to throw in the oven! After much consideration, I picked out a peach/pecan baked brie and a chocolate/hazelnut baked brie. Preheated the oven to 350F, placed the brie on a cookie sheet and baked for 25 minutes. Voila! So beautiful and delicious.

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

I also picked up some cheeses: cheddar, gouda and some kind of cranberry deliciousness. Surrounded them with green and Kalamata olives and crackers.

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

Finally, I found mums and baby’s breath at The Fresh Market. I clipped some shrubs from my yard to complete the festive feel for my table. I think it turned out so beautiful! What do you think? Tell me in the comments!

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

The Fresh Market is committed to being your one-stop shop for holiday entertaining. Visit your neighborhood store for gorgeous gifts, stand-out sides, inspiring ingredients and more.  Click here to find The Fresh Market store nearest you. Also, pin the pic below!

Ready-Made Baked Brie from The Fresh Market

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.