Caramel Apple Goodness

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a

long list of things I really like. Here is just one of the items on my list. I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

 

I have to admit, I’m really distracted by all the peppermint goodies and cranberry ginger ale at my disposal this time of year.  But I’m trying really hard to focus on the holiday that comes before that.  Thanksgiving.  I love the whole weekend of Thanksgiving; family meals, parade, my birthday, Christmas bazaar . . .  The biggest dilemma I face when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving is what to prepare as my contribution to the family meals.  So in my planning and researching I’ve been drawn to recipes that have the two words “caramel apple” in them.

Does that evoke the same kind of mouth watering thoughts to you as it does to me?  You know the three pack of caramel apples covered in peanuts in the grocery store?  Delicious.  And what about caramel apple suckers . . . YUM!   There is nothing like that bitter, sweet taste on a crisp fall day.  And what makes it even better?  A cup of piping hot cider!  Here are the three recipes I have narrowed it down too.  They have all had a trial run and we give them two thumbs up!  Enjoy! (Click on the picture for the recipe.)

Caramel Apple Pie courtesy of Pioneer Woman

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Caramel Apple Crisp Bars courtesy of Kraft foods

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Caramel Apple Salad courtesy of Chef in Training

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Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.

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May Designs

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a

long list of things I really like. Here is just one of the items on my list. I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

I received a text one day from my sister that was forwarded from one of her friends.  “50% off all May Books.”

What in the world is a May Book?!  I must say I do love a good sale and 50% off peaked my interested.  So I did what anyone does when they don’t know something.  I googled it.  Let’s just say, May Designs had me from hello.

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In short, a May Book is a “stylish notebook”.  Literally on the May Design website you can find the quote “Mica was sick of using ugly notebooks, so she made some pretty ones.”  And boy am I glad she did!

Each one is customizable.  That’s right; you personalize the book to meet your fancy.  Step one, choose a pattern.  Side note, my favorite right now is the wildflower.  Next you choose a background shape, then a typographic style, a color for your style, what your monogram text will be, and finally how to fill the inside pages.  Seriously, the options are endless.  The inside pages can be a yearly agenda, kids coloring book, address book, meal planner, wedding diary, and many more.  The book is the perfect size to drop in your purse so you never have to be without.  They start at $19.  However, they have sales often.  When I have purchased them they have been 50% off the $19.  I follow them on Twitter and Instagram and they post their sales in both places.  P.S. They make wonderful gifts!!

P.S. Right now May Designs is running a special, 50% off May Notes.  (It says through April 7 but they are still marked down today.)

Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.

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I don’t leave TJ without . . .

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a 

long list of things I really like.  Here is just one of the items on my list.  I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

It’s time for a light hearted post!  How ’bout it?!  My Brown Paper Packages today is none other than the fabulous Trader Joe’s (TJ).  This is the best grocery store.  I might like it a tad more than most grocery stores because there is not one within 150 miles from my house.  So, when I have the opportunity of shopping at TJ it is a treat!  I’m not sure what it says about me that going to a grocery store makes me want to kick up my heels but I won’t dwell on that thought.  Let me say this too, for those of you that aren’t familiar with TJ, a lot of the items are TJ brand so the prices are very reasonable.  Plus, they have unique items that you won’t find anywhere else.  And it only adds bonus points that there is always an employee walking around carrying a huge question mark ready to help!  Where else do you find that?

Moving on to the important stuff, I’ve been wanting to share my TJ staple list for some time and I’m finally getting around to it.  There’s are things that I DO NOT leave TJ without.  And typically I have at least two of each item so they last a bit longer once we are home.  Without further ado, here it is!

Taco Seasoning – It’s cheap, there are two servings in one package, and the flavor is the best!  I’ve tried several taco seasonings and even made my own.  They don’t hold a candle to this stuff.  I use it in much more than just tacos.

Olive Oil – It’s cheap.  Enough said.

Crunchy Cookie Butter – This concoction is made from crushed biscuits and I’m sure a whole heck of a lot of sugar.  My favorite way to eat it is mixed with marshmallow cream but the opportunities are endless.  There is even a facebook page dedicated to this product.  Crazy! 

Coconut Thin – A paper thin cookie that has a hint of coconut flavoring.  I’m a sucker for anything coconut.  They are delicious as a snack on their own but I also have mixed them with ice cream and made little sandwiches.  Yum!

Chocolate Covered Bing Cherries – Similar to Harry & David’s version at a fraction of the price. $

Pizza Dough– I don’t know about you but I keep pizza dough in my freezer for last minute, throw together meals.  This was my first TJ staple item.  My cousin introduced me and I haven’t turned back.  Regular and whole wheat options are available.  They are both good (we prefer whole wheat) and can be frozen.

Squeezable Tomato Paste – The squeezable tomato paste is so convenient for using some and saving the rest for later as opposed to having to throw a partial can away.  However, it’s typically pretty expensive.  TJ brand is reasonably priced!  $

Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee – I can eat the entire box on the way home from TJ.  Seriously, it’s that good.  You should probably buy three or four or more.

Cold Brewed Coffee – I have made Pioneer Woman Cold Brew Coffee and it’s really good!  TJ’s bottled version is just as good.  However, it takes several steps and is supposed to set overnight.  So, this is much easier.  My little secret, I use it in chocolate shakes.

This is definitely not the only items I buy at TJ.  However, I ALWAYS come home with these items (unless they’re out and that did happen once with the cookie butter=sad day).  Oh and one more quick note, they have fun recipes on their website.  A second quick note, I’m always adding items to this list so if you have any suggestions please leave me a comment.

Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.

This that and the other

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a long list of things I really like.  Here is just one of the items on my list.  I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

 Since becoming a mom there are a few things that have made life a little easier.  I’m definitely not going to call these necessities because it is not necessary to have painted nails.  But they have made things easier, cleaner, a little more organized, more comfortable, and definitely more fun.  Plus, I’m throwing in my favorite recipe for the week.

Easier:  Intuition razor

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This razor has the shaving cream built in and makes the showering process much quicker.  When there is one (or two) little ones peeking through the shower doors, you do whatever you can to make it quick.

Cleaner: Stick Vacuum

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I seriously may start giving this as a baby shower gift.   I thought I ran it a lot with one little person but with two I won’t be surprised if I burn up the thing.  The one I have is a Bissell Lift Off Floors and More and it has a built in dust buster that pops in and out (an extra bonus).  I would highly recommend it.

A little more organized: Notepad/calendar close by at all times (May Designs)

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There is absolutely no guessing when I’m going to think of something I need to write down; an item on my to do list, a grocery we ran out of, a date we don’t need to forget.  So, having a calendar and notepad close by at all times has become critical!  I bought a couple of the May Designs notebooks when they ran a 50 percent off special and so wish I would have bought more.  I currently use a May Design calendar and notepad.  They live on my kitchen counter but they are small enough to toss in my purse when I’m on the go.  Each one is customizable which endless options!  Sidenote:  They make great gifts!

More comfortable:  Matilda Jane pants

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I am a jeans girl.  However, when sticking around the house I like my comfy pants.  Since I’m at home most every day now I’ve found adding a ruffle to my comfy pants makes me feel like I’m getting ready for the day but staying comfy and cozy.

More fun: Sally Hansen nail effects

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I really like to paint my nails.  Typically it’s a pretty neutral, boring color but I still like for them to be painted.  Once I became a mom I found there’s not a whole lot of time to let the polish dry.  These nail effects require no drying.  They’re a bit more daring for my taste but I’m giving them a go.  The ones I have on now have been on for a week with no peeling.  (The pharmacy had a better selection than Wal-mart.)

Breakfast-in-a-Muffin (original recipe from taste of home)

1/3 lb sausage
3 eggs
1/8 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 pkg. corn bread/muffin mix (jiffy works good)
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided.

  • Preheat oven to 400⁰.  Cook sausage and make sure while cooking to break into crumbles.
  • Whisk eggs with salt and pepper.  Cook until eggs are thickened and no liquid remains.
  • Prepare muffin mix according to package.  Fold in sausage, eggs, and ½ cup of cheese.  Fill paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.
  • Bake 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake 5 minutes longer or until done.
  • Note:  I made these with crumbled bacon also and actually liked it even better.  They are perfect warmed up for breakfast or even snack time.

Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.

My “perfect” recipe

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a long list of things I really like.  Here is just one of the items on my list.  I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

 

Do you know Pioneer Woman?  I mean don’t really know her, but have you heard of her?  Well, she has this way of labeling her favorite recipes by inserting the word “perfect” before the name of them.  For example, Perfect Pie Crust, Perfect French Fries, Perfect Iced Coffee, etc.  And let me say her “perfect” recipes that I’ve tried are pretty darn good, especially the iced coffee.  Anyway, I’m kind of borrowing her idea and naming the recipe I’m sharing with you, Perfect Tuna Salad.  That’s not what you were expecting, is it?  Tuna salad is just tuna salad.  But oh no, I’ve found the Perfect Tuna Salad.  I make it at least every two weeks and we eat on it for lunch or snacks or maybe even dinner (if I didn’t have time to cook).

P.S. Please excuse my pitiful food photography . . . and my messy kitchen.

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The recipe is below.   I’m not very particular about measuring things exactly (unless I’m baking) so you may want to alter the amounts depending on your preferences.  It makes a pretty large batch if you want to half it.

So, there’s not much more to say.  We love it!  It’s hearty, pretty healthy, and super easy to mix up.  Enjoy!

1 small red onion, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4-5 carrots, chopped
5-6 baby dill pickles, chopped
2 cans of white albacore tuna in water (I haven’t tried it but you could probably sub in chicken.)
1 bag of real bacon bits
1 cup of mayo
1 packet of ranch powder mix
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups (at least) of cooked egg noodles (THE SECRET INGREDIENT)

Cook egg noodles and let them come to room temperature. While they are cooking and cooling, cut the first four ingredients up and put in a mixing bowl with the tuna.  Mix mayo and ranch powder together and add to the mixing bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  After egg noodles are cooled mix them in as well.  Serve with chips, crackers, or our favorite on a bed of romaine lettuce.  Let me know what you think!

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Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.