Friday, March 28, 2014

No Bake Cookies (A Family Tradition)

Christmas Eve growing up was ALWAYS my favorite night of the year. We would head over to my Grandparent's (Ma-Maw and Pa-Paw) house and meet up with my mother's other 5 siblings and their kids for a family meal and presents!

I can still to this day recall that excited feeling that I would have ALL DAY long! The clock seemed to move so slow and the day felt like it was never going to end. And then somehow, almost magically, Mom would call for me to get my coat and we would head out the door. The best times were when it was snowing and the houses in the neighborhood were lit up with multicolored lights. In my mind's eye everything was beautiful and perfect. We would pull up to the house and the drive-way would be filled with cars, the windows would be steamed up from all the cooking and baking that went on in the house ALL DAY long! Their would be lights and laughter and presents and JUNK FOOD!

We ate buffet style and so once I was old enough to fix my own plate I bypassed the ham, noodles, and deviled eggs for BUCKEYES, FUDGE, AND NO BAKE COOKIES! My Aunt Shali makes the best No Bakes in the world. And still to this day it would not be Christmas Eve without an Aunt Shali No Bake.

I have to make them myself now that we have moved to Florida. The North Family Christmas parties have been over for a long time now. Siblings moved away, kids grew up, there were divorces, and deaths, and LIFE just changes. Of course, we still try and get together on Christmas Eve (from our own little corners of the world) but it will NEVER be like it was. Those perfect (if only in my mind) nights of gently falling snow, laughter, lights, Christmas trees, presents, and FAMILY!

But every Christmas Eve when I put out the Buckeyes and Aunt Shali No Bakes, my mind races back in time to Christmas Eve's long gone and I remember faces, and smells, and sounds, and sights that bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. And as I pick up a No Bake and take that first chocolaty bite for just a second I am 5 years old again and all the world is right and it's the BEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR!

Aunt Shali No Bake Cookies (a Family Tradition)
Aunt Shali  No Bakes

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (make sure you use the quick cooking)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Bring sugar, cocoa, milk and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla, peanut butter, and oats. Mix well!
Drop by tablespoons (I use a medium cookie scoop and then flatten with the back of it) onto waxed paper.
Let cool!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Amish Baked Chicken

Amish Baked Chicken
This is my NEW "Go To" recipe for chicken. We all love this chicken. It is juicy, flavorful, pretty simple, and Finger-Lickin' good!

I have made it for company (so you know it's good) and it never fails to impress.

Now I am going to give a disclaimer on this recipe: I bake it on a stone with sides (Pampered Chef: Bar Pan) so if you do not have a stone I have no idea how this chicken will turn out! For me, the skin is crunchy and flavorful and the chicken meat is juicy and tender. If you bake it in a pan or some other way please leave me a comment and let me know how it turns out.

Thanks so much to GE for leaving a comment and letting me know that using a baking sheet will work with this recipe! 

Used a baking sheet and it turned out moist and delicious. Next time we'll try boneless... And a stone pan! Thank you!!!

Print Recipe

Amish Baked Chicken

Course: Main Course


  • 12 cup flour
  • 12 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs 
  • 3 bone-in chicken breasts 


In a medium bowl combine flour and spices. Whisk well.
Dredge chicken in flour mixture and then place on cooking stone, skin side down. I use two stones, one for the breasts and one for the thighs.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Flip chicken once, half-way through cooking. Mine always takes the full 60 minutes.

Powered by
Plan To Eat

This chicken is AMAZING! Everyone loves it.
The breasts are moist and the thighs are perfect. Nothing in this recipe needs changed! Seriously, no matter what other "baked" chicken recipe I try my family always asks "When are we having Amish Chicken again?"
I have tried this recipe with boneless chicken and it just didn't taste right for some reason. It was still good but just not as good as we have come to expect. So I am going to stick with bone-in chicken. Which since that is cheaper in my area is a good thing!

Shared on:
Make Your Home Sing
Think Tank Thursday
Wise Woman Linkup
Homemaking Linkup
DIY Accomplished 
Saturday Night Fever 
Meal Planning Monday

I do not work for nor do I sell Pampered Chef. I just love their stones and use them every single day!  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pretzels In Downtown Disney

I took the kids over to Downtown Disney on Saturday because we were having "Disney Withdraw" but I was afraid to go to an actual park because of my knee. I knew that if we went early enough in the day we would get a close parking spot and that the stores/walkways would not be crowded.

We arrived around 10 a.m. and I was not disappointed at all. I parked fairly close and the only store that was crowded was "World Of Disney" (which is always crowded). We headed over to Ghirardelli for our FREE sample of chocolate! One day I am going to buy a bag of that sinfully good chocolate and eat the whole thing myself (okay I'm not going to eat the whole thing myself, but I will want to).

Then we walked around and enjoyed the sunshine and the "feeling" of being at Disney! And because our minds are now always on our upcoming Disney Vacation we stopped at a few of the food places to see what snacks we could get with our dining plan.

After about an hour and a half of walking around I decided I had better not push my knee much further (the last thing I need is a relapse) and so we headed for the car. I knew the kids were quite let down about being so close to the Disney Magic and not getting to ride a ride or see a character and so as we headed for the exit I stopped at Wetzel's Pretzels for a quick (small) snack to hold us over till we got home and had some lunch. 
Little Sticks of Soft Pretzels

I ordered the "Original Bitz" for us to try. Think small sticks of soft pretzel. We had never had Wetzel's before but we are huge fans of Auntie Anne's pretzels and so we figured if Anne can make a good pretzel then surely Wetzel's at Disney would be even better.

And while the pretzel part was good (almost as good as our Dear Auntie Anne) they lacked BUTTER and SALT! I think what makes Auntie Anne's pretzels so amazing is that you literally LICK the butter off of your fingers after eating one. No need for napkins at Wetzel's that is for sure. And I ended up digging in the bottom of the bag for more salt to put on my "stick".

Our Bag of Sticks

And at $5.43 (I forgot to use my Passholder Discount- DUH) for a bag of about 15 sticks I really didn't feel that I got my money's worth.  As you can see from the picture either the bag is big or the portions are small (you decide).

Now in all fairness, we did not try one of their actual pretzels (which might very well be BUTTERY AND SALTY) and so I will not pass judgement on all of Wetzel's Pretzels. But I can tell you that if I am ever craving a pretzel I will be heading to see Auntie Anne at my local mall and skipping the trip to Downtown Disney.

I guess I should have just went ahead and splurged on that Ghirardelli chocolate after all!
No Complaints From This One!

Friday, March 14, 2014

In Search of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie at Walt Disney World

As I have mentioned in the past we have Annual Passes to Walt Disney World and we go ALOT! Not as much as we would like (cause if you ask the kids and I, we would go EVERY SINGLE DAY) but we do go at least 2 times a month. And one of the many things that we LOVE about Disney is the FOOD!

Disney has some of the top chefs in the country working for them and has some of the best places to eat in Orlando! Of all the theme parks we have been to (Universal, Sea World, Cedar Point, and King's Island) we LOVE Disney food the best! Of course, they have your typical "park" meals like hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets (we even love those) but they also have ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and NY strip steaks.

I had played around with the idea of starting a Disney Blog but then I realized how silly that was since I already have a blog and I can post anything I want anyway (now I may change my mind later- cause I'm a girl and girls are allowed to change their minds) but for now I will simply add my Disney Posts here.

Joffrey's Coffee

We spent the day at Animal Kingdom and as we were leaving the park I spotted Joffrey's Coffee (it's outside the main gates right before you get to the line where they check your bags). It's just a little kiosk nothing fancy at all.

But they had something that caught my eye and made my taste buds start to dance! Now come on admit it, these cookies look REALLY GOOD!

Disney Chocolate Chip and M&M Cookies
And I REALLY REALLY wanted one (or two) and so for the sake of this blog I bought one of each. I know sometimes the sacrifices I have to make for you all is overwhelming but I will endure!

Tyler and the Cookie
And they are HUGE! Almost as big as your head! With Chocolate Chunks the size of your eye! Okay maybe not quite that big but still BIG!

So here is my HONEST review:

Delaney and the Cookies
Perfect cookie for a small child who has not developed their palate. Any child will be thrilled (just as mine were) with these giant cookies. Nothing says Disney and Vacation like a cookie as big as your head!

The Boys with the Cookies
BUT if you have bought this treat for someone who bakes or for someone who enjoys freshly baked, melt in your mouth chocolate chip cookies be prepared for disappointment.

While I did enjoy the "Chunks" of chocolate over plain old chocolate chips they were certainly stingy with the amount they used.

And while the cookie was LARGE the taste was NOT! If you happened to get a bite with no chocolate the cookie was plain and almost tasteless.

However, I would say that these cookies are sure to cause squeals of delight from any child in your traveling party and at $3.50 will be one of your cheaper treat options.

But save your money adults, I know the "WORLD" has better delicacies for you to try!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef (Or in This Case Pork) Stroganoff

Slow Cooker Stroganoff
I have made this recipe a few times (trying to adjust
 this and that to make it a great meal) and I think I am finally on the right track! I love Beef Stroganoff and I love my slow cooker, so if I can put the two together then you know I am going to be one HAPPY girl! The problem with the recipe is that no matter what type of beef I used I didn't like the taste. The meat was either too tough (when I used stew meat) or had a strange aftertaste when I used the cube steak. And I was not about to try an expensive cut of meat in a slow cooker recipe (defeats the purpose of a budget friendly easy meal). So I had some pork steaks in the freezer and I decided to give those a try! AMAZING!

I still have a few things I would like to "tweak" (Don't you just love "You've Got Mail"?) such as figuring out how to get the small lumps of cream cheese out of the sauce. My cream cheese is completely softened and I cut it up in small cubes before I add it to the sauce but it still is not breaking down all the way. Any suggestions?

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff  (original recipe)

Yummy Dinner!
2 pounds pork steak, cut into one-inch pieces
2 cans condensed golden mushroom soup (no substitutes)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (14-ounce) can beef broth
8-ounces fresh button mushrooms (I leave them whole)
salt and pepper to taste
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 bag egg noodles (for serving)

In the slow cooker, combine meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
Stir in cream cheese and sour cream about half an hour before serving, stirring every 10 minutes or so to break up the cream cheese. THE LAST TIME I MADE THIS I CUT THE CREAM CHEESE UP INTO PIECES AND IT SEEMED TO HELP IT BREAK UP MORE.
Serve over cooked egg noodles or rice. The original recipe calls for adding the egg noodles to the crock pot after they have cooked and when I did this we did not like it. The noodles became very mushy so now I just serve the noodles with the Stroganoff over top.
If the sauce is not thick enough for you, you can add some cornstarch and water. I have not done this so I'm not sure how it would work.

Linked up with:
Tasty Tuesday

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dear Sports Illustrated (and Wal-Mart too)

I wanted to write a letter to Sports Illustrated and Wal-Mart. So I sat down and began typing away and then I realized that my letter would probably never be opened by anyone of any importance in either company and that it would make it's way into a garbage can somewhere along the way and my words would never be heard and my voice would be silenced and well, I just was not going to let that happen!

So, I figured I would post the letter to my blog. Probably still no one of any importance at either Sports Illustrated or Wal-Mart will ever read this but maybe just maybe my letter will be read by other mothers who will join me in taking up this fight and they will write letters to these companies or post a letter on their blogs and then maybe just maybe someone with the power to DO SOMETHING will STEP UP and do just that! So here goes: My Letter To Sports Illustrated and Wal-Mart too!

Dear Sirs or Madams,

I am writing to you today because last night I took my son to Wal-Mart to purchase a magazine for an assignment he was to complete in his High School Journalism class. And as I stood at the store with my 18 year old son, my 15 year old son, and my 12 year old daughter I was HORRIFIED! Absolutely HORRIFIED! I was staring into an abyss of  scantly clad women. There were breasts and butt cheeks as far as the eye could see! I had to stop for a minute and make sure that I had not somehow wandered into one of those "ADULT ONLY" stores for surely the level of smut at one of those places is not to be outdone by this magazine isle!

I was embarrassed for my children, to see something like this in front of your friends may be one thing, but to be looking at 3 women in thong bikinis with your mother a foot away I'm sure plummeted my boys into a psychologists couch faster than if I had kept them in diapers until they were double digits. I mean seriously, do you not realize that these are family stores that people shop at, well, with their families!

Once I recovered from my embarrassment, my good old-fashioned ANGER set in. Anger that you would expose my male children to a way that is simply a small path that leads straight to PORNOGRAPHY and call it SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is shameful and downright disgusting. But my anger did not stop with my male children, OH NO, you see your filthy (and photo-shopped I have no doubt) pictures were impressed on my 12 year old daughter. You showed her right in front of her brothers and her mother that she will simply never measure up to BEAUTIFUL unless she BARES it all for ALL to see!

You should be ashamed of yourself. I know that you are NOT in the least. But since you do not have the common sense to be ashamed on your own I will be your conscious and let you know that you should be hanging your head in utter remorse. I know this issue is one of your best selling. DON'T BE PROUD OF THAT! You are a sports magazine that makes more money off of an issue that has absolutely NOTHING to do with football, baseball, basketball, or the Olympics than any other issue you produce. That only tells me one thing! You must not be very good at your job! You cannot create a profitable sports magazine that people find enlightening and entertaining and so you must rely on soft porn to make your payroll! Perhaps you should rethink your business plan and give Playboy a run for it's money and leave the sports magazines to those that know sports.

And Wal-Mart you should be ashamed too! Put these magazines in black plastic, put them behind counters, or JUST DO NOT SELL THEM AT ALL! I shop at Wal-Mart with my children, with my mother, and I used to shop there with my Grandmother! Your a family store, act like it! Hide the smut! I should not be embarrassed to walk down any isle in my local grocery store! And you should be hanging your head in remorse too! You do not have to sell the trash that these companies are peddling. I know that you make more than enough money to keep your company afloat you should not be making money at the expense of the mental, moral, and emotional cost of our children.

And so I will end this letter with a challenge to all of you at Sports Illustrated and Wal-Mart. Get your latest swim suit edition and sit down first with your mother and father and look through the magazine with them asking their opinions and advice on suits and placements of the models. Then look through it with your wife or husband (don't forget to point out the good parts) and ask how you measure up or if they measure up to what you and society consider BEAUTFIUL. And then gather the kids around and have a family night of looking through what Mommy or Daddy do for a living and what they sell to the American people. If you can do that with no shame, no remorse, no problems then I am ever so sorry that I wasted your time. I had no idea that I was the last one left in America with morals.

Melissa Thomas

Shared on A Proverbs 31 Wife
Joyful Homemaking 
Raising Homemakers