3.30.2015

Slow Cooker Beef Roast


A while back, I was on Studio 5 whipping up a classic, traditional, family-style recipe. I felt like it was really fun because I was able to share a recipe that took zero effort or even a glance at a recipe to make. I think those are the best recipes! They're ones we've tried, tested a million times, and prepare for our families on a monthly, and sometimes weekly, basis. 

Along with those stuffed shells (thank you for all the emails and messages about how successful it was in your kitchens! It completely has made my life!!!), this pot roast dish is something I remember eating so many times throughout my childhood. My Mom would place the mighty roast in her large black roasting pan (the piece of roast was definitely much larger than the ones I buy - but she had many more mouths to feed), seasoned it up with salt and plenty of pepper, and I remember the strong smell of the infused-vinegars she's drizzle all over the meat. A few hours later, after church, we'd come home to the incredible aroma of pot roast and baked potatoes. It smelled like Sunday afternoon, to me, and I LOVED it when we were able to gather around the family table at dinnertime and talk together while we filled our bellies with what she had cooked for us. 

My recipe is different, but the concept of the Classic Slow Cooked Beef Roast is still alive and vibrant throughout this dish. I've made it a million times since Ryan and I got married almost 8 years ago, and this is still my favorite way to prepare it. I know slow cooker recipes are usually pretty straight forward, but this one requires a couple of extra steps - don't worry, I have the photos for the steps to help you along the way. Let's jump in! 

3.27.2015

Monster Truck Birthday Party


Happy Friday, everyone! I know we usually stick to desserts on Friday here on Baking with Blondie, but I thought it would be fun to share a few details from my son's birthday party we had this month! 

I usually only try to share ONLY food recipes here on my blog, because I'm a firm believer in blogging about one thing, and blogging the crap out of it. If I spread myself over several different categories, things tend to get muddy, categories get ignored or lose quality, and tend to not have the best of the best delivered to your screens, I think. I mean, if I was an expert on EVERYTHING, sure, I'd blog about everything! Kudos to you fine bloggers who blog about everything and a bag of chips! But I like food, make food, share food, eat food, so here we are with a food blog. :) 

However, I love sharing a little bit from the parties I throw for my son's birthdays. I love him more than anything, and making his birthdays extra special while he's so very young is a pleasure I treasure every year. I'm sure when more kids come along, they won't be as detailed or elaborate, but for now, we're going to milk it. For his first birthday, we did a Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party and it was just the most darling little first birthday. I LOVE parties based on books, and Eric Carle simply can't be beat when it comes to beautiful photos and delicious pages filled with amazing fruits and veggies! Next, we did a party based on my son's favorite movie at the time: UP - his UP Birthday Party was a fun celebration of him becoming such a darling little toddler! Last year, we did the Pirate Birthday Party - and OH MAN was it a blast! We had everyone come dressed in pirate garb, went on a treasure hunt, and had the time of our lives! 

This year we asked my son over and over what kind of birthday party he'd like to have. It was a long process, but eventually he chose to have a monster truck party (with a "cool car" birthday party as a close second). We'd been to the monster trucks out in the desert last year, and he still can't stop talking about it, so monster trucks were chosen as this year's theme! 

This was our very first year doing a "friend" birthday party. Usually we have just family, but with over 35-40 people in our families living within 45 minutes of us, and our small two-room apartment well... small... we knew we'd have to rent out a place or be outside to fit everyone! March is kind of schizophrenic in Utah, so we chose to stay inside, and we chose to keep his party to his friends in our neighborhood (plus a few of the older cousins!). 

The kids are still preschool age (3 & 4 years old), so I knew we had a crazy challenge ahead of us with nearly 10 kids invited. But looking back, it was THE BEST having them all run around, giggling, laughing, partying, and the look on my son's face made everything entirely worth the trip to crazy-town we took getting this party together. I simplified a lot of things, and incorporated a lot of age-appropriate games for the little ones to play. We had such a blast, and I was so happy with how low-maintenance it ended up being for Ryan and I to tackle on that fun Saturday afternoon. Let's jump in! 

3.25.2015

Easy Slow Cooker Beef Tacos


Have you ever felt like your grocery bill is going NUTS? I had a couple weeks last month where I felt like I was bombing at life in the grocery department. I was spending way too much, and I couldn't figure out why my bill was creeping higher and higher past our allotted budget amount. 

Well, if you took a look at how messy and unorganized my pantry and fridge were getting, it would have explained everything. It was such a mess, I didn't know what food I had, and what food I needed, so I was just buying everything for brand new recipes without even checking what I already had in the pantry/fridge. 

I committed myself to an entire week of using up almost every. single. thing. I already had in the pantry. I cleaned it all out, super-cleaned out my fridge, and then made my grocery list from what I already had. It definitely forced me to be more creative in the recipe-creating department. And I'll tell you what... 

It was pretty dang fun. 

3.23.2015

Pasta Broccoli Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing



Hello dear friends! It's been a few days, eh? Okay, more than a few. But I promise it was for a really good reason. My little family has been spending the week at Coronado beach in San Diego. It was the most relaxing week we've had in such a long time. Instead of blogging ahead, or checking in on the blogging & social media world incessantly, I did something I think everyone should do often: 

I unplugged from it all. 

I turned off my dang phone. 

I ignored the hundreds of notifications I get on a daily basis. 

I didn't check up on my favorite bloggers to see what amazing/fun/fabulous thing they were up to this week. 

And something really awesome happened...

3.18.2015

Chicken Fried Rice


I remember it like it was yesterday. It was middle school, I had braces, dreamed of someday being a concert musician, and was trying to fudge my way through French class with Mrs. Hales. During middle school, I felt like we had zero freedom with what classes we could take, so I was more than a little cranky when we were required to take a sewing & food class. 

I suck at sewing. I will super glue things together to this day if I have to. 

The food part of the class, though? It was like a dream come true for me. I'd already learned so much about cooking and food by watching my Mom in the kitchen growing up, so I felt like I totally had this class down pat. Well, our first dish to make in "foods" was a simple fried rice dish. I thought it was lame and easy at first, but it ended up tasting so good after a full morning of boring-as-death classes. I was immediately hooked. It probably didn't taste all that awesome back then, but getting to cook food and eat it for a grade in school - I was 100% in with this scene. 

Fast forward many years later, when I'm in a pinch for dinner, and we have these ingredients on hand (especially leftover brown rice), guaranteed this dish is on our table for dinnertime. Adding chicken into the classic fried rice makes it a meal, for us, and we've never had problems polishing off our plates! 

3.16.2015

Berry Spinach Salad with Strawberry Lime Vinaigrette


Happy Monday, lovelies! I thought we could start off the week fresh with a bright, bold, and beautiful salad. We love to eat salads year-round, but I feel like spring and summer is when we get the best ingredients for salads like this one. This is one of my favorite salads on the planet. We had it at a family birthday gathering recently, and it seriously was all I could do to not dive into the giant bowl of greens and berries right in front of me on the table. I did have three helpings, though, but with the giant baby belly bump present, people tend to ask less questions. :) 

Instead of the usual berry-spinach classic salad combo, I added in some key ingredients that make this salad really pop on the plate. Each compliment the overall flavor and texture of the salad, and each would be perfect to serve alongside whatever you're having for dinner tonight. Lots of color, lots of flavor. Let's jump right in!