Soft Red Velvet Sugar Cookies with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Friday, dear friends & fellow baking-lovers! Today I have something to share that I'm sure will need to make an appearance in your kitchens this coming Valentine's Day (in only two short weeks, can you believe it?). I took one rainy afternoon and baked/frosted/sprinkled these lovelies with my three-year old. It went much better than I originally had planned out, and he still talks about when we frosted the "red cookies with aaaallllll the girl sprinkles." 

I can't blame him! They were incredibly soft. I mean, melt in your mouth softness. They reminded me of those perfectly round & soft lofthouse cookies my Mom used to bring back from the grocery store. We'd inhale those things. They were perfect. Red velvet is always perfect, I think. It's just the best. And this time, I'm not using a cake mix to inject the recipe with that red flavor. We're going hard core made-from-scratch on y'all. I promise you'll love every second. 


Pasta Caesar Salad

Friday nights at our house have, and most likely always will be, pizza nights. It started with buying one of those Little Caesar's $5 pizzas, then it migrated to picking up a frozen pizza at the supermarket with groceries, then to a fresh take-home-and-bake pizza at the supermarket, and now we're on the "Papa Murphy's $5 Fave" stage. We don't usually use Friday nights as our date-nights, unless we have something extra special planned (we sneak those in during the week, or on Saturday), so Friday is reserved for just us. Just the three (and an half) of us. It's kind of fun to just relax together as a family, spread out the giant blanket in front of a movie, and have a little picnic of that easy pop-in-the-oven pizza. 

I usually have a side of fruit or something like that with it, so we're not just eating pizza-pizza-pizza. But I noticed that we polish off that medium pizza pretty fast... for so few of us. Last December I started making a salad to go along with our pizza, and had no idea just how much of a couple of crazy salad-lovers we'd turn out to be. We've tried a few different versions of the traditional green salad, but it wasn't until I threw together a Caesar salad that he mentioned just how much he LOVED the salad. 


Breaded Pork Chops

I've heard it said that pork chops can end up being the driest slice of meat people have served in their kitchen. Heck, I remember eating a few dry pieces here and there in my childhood (Sorry Mom! I LOVE you, woman). This never really made sense to me - even my husband said that he's used to eating dry pork chops (gasp!). Thanks, love. I must have been on the cooking-the-pork-to-its-second-death train, too. Yikes. 

But let me tell you this - breading the pork chop the exact way I bread my always-requested breaded chicken, has been a revelation. It was 100% juicy, and my husband didn't even know I had just served him the pork-chops he apparently would politely chew his way through. He thought it was chicken with a little bacon-esque aftertaste! It was awesome, and he begged me to make sure I "share this one on the blog." He just kept shaking his head in disbelief that I could get a pork chop so juicy. Well, friends, I'm telling you how. 


Strawberry Chocolate Cookies

One of the most classic combos for Valentine's Day, for me, is a large & juicy chocolate-dipped-strawberry. It's something I always crave around this lovely season of romance, and think they just look so decadent when they're dipped and drizzled to perfection on a white platter. Oh who am I kidding? I like them YEAR ROUND. Period. 

Unfortunately, strawberries aren't always in season, nor do they always taste like they're in season, either. Thankfully, berry season is right around the corner in Springtime/Summer, and we'll all be snacking on them for cheap here in Utah very soon. Until then, I'm using a quick-and-easy trick to still get those lovely flavors together on the cheap (and tasty) in a cookie - just in time for Valentine's Day! (Too early? Eh, c'est la vie in blogging world, friends. Just pin it for later. It's definitely a keeper. haha) 


Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

You guys. Check out the juice on these babies. The flavor you see right here would knock y'all to the floor, I'm just sayin'. Making these fajitas was the easiest thing I could have done for my little family at dinnertime on such a busy day. The meal was effortless, the chicken fell apart beautifully in our fajitas, the peppers were cooked to perfection, the flavor was AMAZING, our tummies were filled with something we could all enjoy, and I had zero stress added to my life when the classic question of "what's for dinner?" came up in my home. Kind of sounds like a recipe you want to throw on that grocery list of yours next week. Am I right? :) 


Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

If any of you fine folks are following me on Instagram, I shared a while back that for Christmas, my husband gifted me a beautiful white teapot. Inside the teapot was an invitation to Afternoon Tea at The Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City (about 20 minutes from our home). We got all dressed up, and spent the afternoon sipping non-caffeinated herbal tea, luxury hot chocolates, nibbling on the most wonderful tea sandwiches, fresh fruit, and jams with biscuits, and had an entire selection at our fingertips of desserts (tarts, macaroons, french gum drops, and chocolate mousse bowls). We talked about our goals for the new year for our little family, and about our goals we've set as individuals. It was seriously such a lovely afternoon, and we enjoyed it so much we want to make it a yearly tradition on New Year's Eve. 

One thing I remembered the most, and wished I could have had at least ten more bites of, were the cucumber sandwiches. They were so light, moist, decadent, and had just enough zing to them from the spread underneath the gorgeous cucumbers. My pregnant palate had been craving them ever since. So, I decided to make a little batch of them at home with my lunch one chilly Utah afternoon. Can I dare say I created a bite that was even better? Let's just jump right into our little virtual tea time, shall we? :)