Chore Charts and the Best Dishwasher Detergent #SparklySavings #shop #collectivebias

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

finish challenge

You know with a family our size, keeping the house immaculate is definitely not possible. However, we strive to keep it as clean as we can. We assign chores to each person, each week and keep a chore chart so there is no question, who is doing what. One of the least favorite chores is dishes. We go through a lot of dishes in a day, and we were without a dishwasher for almost 2 years. Having a dishwasher again has been a HUGE blessing and discovering the best dishwasher detergent for the dishwasher was even better! It’s safe to say that keeping a chore chart and finding a dish detergent that works is the best thing that has happened to us lately.


Read More »

5 Easy Last Minute Gifts from the Kitchen + #Giveaway

Welcome to Week 7 of our Holiday Progressive Dinner!

This is an exciting, yet sad week as our Holiday Progressive Dinner comes to an end. These past 7 weeks have been so much fun, we’ve given away some great prizes and made some incredible food! I’d like to take a moment to publicly thank Glenda for all the time and effort she put into this project that we’ve been working on since summer.  Countless hours of contacting, negotiating and finding the right brands that fit our blogs, can cause a lot of stress, but Glenda never let it get her down, she just kept pushing through until we knew we had the right ones and proceeded with our wonderful Holiday Progressive Dinner.

Glenda, I’m especially grateful that you contacted me way back then to invite me to join you, and the other four incredible bloggers who rode this journey. This was so much fun and I loved it, and I’m excited to continue to share these great menu plans we put together for Holiday dinners. Thank you for bringing us all together and making this so much fun!

So in case you are checking in for the first time, or just in case you missed any of our previous weeks, here’s a recap:

  • Week 1 – Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey & 5 Spice
  • Week 2 – Pomegranate Orange Spinach Salad
  • Week 3 – Pumpkin Spice Profiteroles With Warm Cranberry Red Wine Compote
  • Week 4 – Antipasto Kebabs
  • Week 5 – Potluck Corn, Black Bean & Cilantro Salsa Dip for a Crowd
  • Week 6 – Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Pepper Cream Sauce
  • Week 7 – This one!

The best part is, that if you visit each one, you have a complete holiday meal at each one, plus they stand alone as a complete holiday meal. That’s a lot of holiday meals to choose from.

Today’s sponsor of the Holiday Progressive Dinner Blog Hop series is CountryDoor.Com
According to the website, offers timeless styles mixed with fresh accents, we help you to create a casual, comfortable lived-in look for less. Come to us for everyday décor and seasonal updates to help make your home inviting to those closest to you.
country door

I got this gorgeous drink dispenser from Country Door and unfortunately my photos of it, don’t do it justice. It’s simply beautiful and just to prove it, you should go look at it on their site. It holds about 3 gallons, we made a LOT of iced tea and we did not run out the whole night while we entertained. I loved it!

I browsed for hours on their site and have several gifts picked out and I need to order today or tomorrow for Christmas. There is something for everyone on this site. From Home Decor to Bed and Bath, Furniture, Seasonal and a whole Gift Section, there is no way you can’t find something for anyone.  Their prices are competitive, shipping fast and great customer service.

Want to win your own CountryDoor Prize?

When you’re finished checking out the ideas below, you can enter to win your own prize from Just scroll to the end of the post and you’ll find the rafflecopter. Good luck!

Are you looking for Easy, Last-Minute, Gift Ideas?

I don’t know about you, but I’m always scrambling for last minute gift ideas for friends and neighbors who sometimes drop by or bring something unexpectedly. I try to keep something on hand at all times to cover any embarrassing situations. The best way to do this is by whipping up something scrumptious and delicious in your kitchen. These are just five of my favorite last-minutes gift ideas from my kitchen.

Candy Cane Puppy Chow {get recipe}

Candy Cane Peppermint Puppy Chow

A fun twist on the classic puppy chow snack recipe, this Candy Cane Peppermint Flavored Puppy Chow is addictive!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting {get recipe}


These decadent little bites of chocolate are filled with tiny marshmallows and topped with an easy marshmallow frosting. They can be dressed up any way you please.

Easy and Quick Jolly Rancher Christmas Lollipops {get recipe}

Jolly Rancher Christmas Lollipops

A fun and festive treat made from melted Jolly Rancher candies. These can be changed for any holiday or event.

Gingerbread Puppy Chow {get recipe}

Gingerbread Puppy Chow

Another fun and festive holiday twist on the traditional Puppy Chow Recipe. Gingerbread Puppy Chow is delicious, spicy and sweet.

The Easiest Fudge Ever {get recipe}

Easy Fudge Recipe

Such an easy recipe, but nobody will ever know and the flavor possibilities are endless.

(extra!) Spicy Gingerbread Mini Loaves {get recipe}

Gingerbread with Mocha Glaze

Moist, delicious, mini spicy gingerbread loaves are the perfect last minute gift idea. These babies are topped with Mocha Glaze but you can leave the glaze off or put it drenched on top.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the recipes in today’s progressive dinner!

Holiday Progressive Dinner Week 7 Links

Gifts from Your Kitchen

Mini Holiday Loaves – Cranberry Orange – Banana – Pumpkin Chocolate
at Adventures in All Things Food

Quick and Easy Homemade Candy:
Peanut Clusters – Toffee Pecan Clusters – White Chocolate Snowballs

at Busy-at-Home

Cinnamon Vanilla Candied Nuts
at Flour on My Face

Peppermint Patties
at The Gunny Sack

5 Easy Last Minute Gifts from the Kitchen
at Daily Dish Recipes

It’s time for the giveaway!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You’re Invited to a Holiday Progressive Dinner Blog Hop Series!

Holiday Progressive Dinner Blog Hop Series Magazine Covershot

We’ve been planning this for a long time. Since the summer, July to be exact. And finally the time has arived!

The excitement level has risen, we are finally here and you are invited.

Invited to what?

Invited to our Progressive Dinner beginning Friday, October 25, 2013 and running every Friday until December 13, 2013. Each week myself and four other amazing, talented food bloggers will be sharing recipes with you for a complete holiday meal.

You can plan to see these posts for a full seven weeks, ever Friday without fail. (We will be taking Thanksgiving off to spend with our families and friends),

The five of us will be bringing your wonderful recipes to help get you ready and put you in the mood for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday festivities.

From Appetizers and Soups, Salads, Vegetable Dishes, Side Dishes, Main dishes, all the way to the Dessert, we’ve got 7 weeks of holiday menus and an extraordinary giveaway every single week. We’ll also be bringing you great ideas for potlucks with family and friends, and of course gifts from the kitchen too.

It’s a Holiday Progressive Dinner Blog Hop Series and *YOU* are invited!

The wonderful hosts of this amazing event are: Our fearless leader, Glenda Embree from Busy-at-Home who is the creative genius behind this whole thing. Then there’s Arlene Mobley from Flour on My Face, Andrea Kruse from Adventures in All Things Food, Tonia Larson from The Gunny Sack and of course, me, Nicole Cook from Daily Dish Recipes.

There are seven fine sponsors who have also joined us to share their high-quality kitchen and dining products with you in incredibly amazing giveaways, each and every week of the entire event. You will follow one blog to the next, to collect a complete meal for a full holiday menu. In addition, you can check out our sponsors product, and hopefully join the giveaway EACH week to have the chance to win your own product from our chosen weekly sponsor.

After 7 weeks, you will have 5 FULL holiday menus, with 25 recipe tutorials to make them in your own kitchen, an additional 10 more recipes for holiday potlucks and gifts from the kitchen, and had the opportunity to check out (and hopefully WIN) 7 of the best, high quality kitchen and dining products for your holidays!

We have created a beautiful, full color ezine, just for you as an invitation and a teaser to what you can expect during our Holiday Progressive Dinner Blog Hop series.

I don’t think I can even tell you how excited I am for this event, how excited I am to see my co-hosts recipes and to just have a GREAT time every Friday with all of you, sharing holiday recipes, stories and more.

Do you create a full holiday menu? Do you do potlucks or bring a dish? Do you stick to the same tried and true recipes each year, or do you try to mix it up and try new things? Tell me in the comments below.

Also, to open the ezine just click the button that says, “Click to Read”. The magazine will open full-screen and you will be able to flip through all 11 pages of gorgeous food and exciting giveaway news!

Spice and Seasoning Organization

There is nothing in my kitchen that I struggle more with, than organizing my spices and seasonings. I spend so much time in the kitchen and use so many different types of spices, that I have too many to just put away in a cabinet.

I know I’m not the only person to struggle with this, but what’s the solution?

I need a spice rack of some kind. But I need it to hold a lot, because well – I have a lot of herbs and spices that I cook with. I also need it to be compact enough that either it fits into a cabinet OR it doesn’t take up a huge chunk of space on my counters, which already have tons of appliances and kitchen gadgets on them. I was thinking of a wall spice rack I’m just not sure if I want to actually attach it to my kitchen wall or not.

I spent like two hours looking at spice racks. I looked at every model they carry and the capacity as well as where it would go in my kitchen.

I like the following for these reasons.

spice rack source

I love this one because it holds 48 spices. It matches a few other organizational supplies in my kitchen, like my bread box, napkin holder, lazy susan and my utensil caddy which are made of the same type of maple wood.

I love that it swivels. Makes finding what you want a lot easier. It’s kinda large, so I think it’ll take up some major counter space, but really, other than that, I can’t find anything wrong with it. If I can find a spot on my counters, this one would be perfect.

spice racks

I also really like this wire rack – it’s really pretty, a bit more compact than the other one, except it only holds 20 jars. I kinda wish it went one tier higher – that at least would add 10 more jar, but anyway, I do like it.

It also swivels which I think is a plus for a counter top spice rack – if you can’t access the spices quickly and easily, I don’t really think its worth it. I’m not sure I want my spice racks on my counter top still, so I’m also checking out some cabinet organizers.

What do you use to organize your herbs, spices and seasonings? I’m definitely interested!



Menu Plan Monday 8/29

Menu Plan Monday

It was a pretty crazy weekend and I didn’t have to cook – my birthday weekend. Gotta love husbands. Except he didn’t cook anything either, we got take out and of course this means there are no leftovers for tonight, our busiest night of the week. That’s okay, we’ll figure out something.

I also have lots of little groups and blog hop things I’m participating in where I have to make recipes, so this menu plan is scheduled to change at any given moment, and probably will. LOL


We have fife & drum practice tonight and I have a meeting during it, so I need a no stress meal tonight – I’ll probably pick up subs on the way and grab a coffee to mellow me out while I’m there. LOL


Dinner: Grilled Salmon Steaks with Dill Mustard Sauce


Dinner: The Perfect Mac & Cheese – Yep, recipe will come next week, don’t worry.


Dinner: Crispy Lemon Fried Chicken


Dinner: Ham and Cheese Calzones


Dinner: Chicken Gyro’s


Dinner: Paprika Pork Roast

If you’d like to participate in Menu Plan Monday, be sure to check out this post.

Linked to: Menu Plan Monday,

Hot Summer Night Cooking… or not.

When it’s too hot to cook, you don’t.

It’s currently 96 degrees but heat index is currently at 108. My house is hot. Ugh!

We were supposed to have Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie with some Cornbread – both of which require use of the oven. An oven, which there was absolutely NO way I was heating up today. Period.

So what did we do? We decided to improvise. There were only four of us to feed tonight, because Montana Man is at work, my middle daughter is at JBA and my son is at Grandma’s doing some work for them.

On our menu:

  • Fresh Cut Apples & Bananas & Grapes
  • Cold Pesto Pasta (that I was smart enough to boil this morning before it got super hot!)
  • Fresh cut carrots & celery
  • Meat Rolls ups (deli ham and turkey rolled up with Mozzarella, Colby and Monterey Jack)
  • Cheese Slices & Crackers
  • Watermelon Wedges



Surprisingly we are all full! What do you do to beat the heat on a hot summer night when you don’t feel like heating up your oven or stove top?

Mini Chef and her Deviled Eggs

My daughter Brielle is an up and coming chef. With a large family of 7, we love that. Especially me, I love that, because she helps me all the time. Let me also say she is only 13, but she absolutely loves to cook. She’s been cooking with me since she was about 3. Now she is getting to the point, that as long as I’m home, I’m comfortable with her in the kitchen. She’s good at it. She’s not so great about the cleaning up part, but she is doing wonderfully with the cooking part. Small steps, that’s what it’s all about. Right?

She can follow a recipe like there is no tomorrow. Sure, we’ve had a few mishaps – once she made chocolate rice pudding and forgot to “cook” the rice first. That was hilarious and still she tried so hard to eat it. Bless her. We each took a bite to please her, but there was no stomaching that. There wasn’t even any swallowing that. Side note: She has since successfully made delicious rice pudding, so there’s hope after a mishap.

She wants to go to school to become a pastry chef. She has wanted that for two years, so I wonder if it will stick. She’s getting so good at making all kinds of things.

She makes a killer omelet, even if the presentation isn’t perfect – it still tastes scrumptious.

She makes great pasta dishes, with an unlimited supply of sauces out of a cookbook she can make. Love that.

Tonight she made her first ever batch of deviled eggs. I’m pretty impressed. They taste great, they were super easy and didn’t require much as far as ingredients go (which worried me as far as flavor went, but they are actually good!)
She used a little too much paprika, but there is definitely a fine art as far as sprinkling the eggs. She made PERFECT hard boiled eggs, because I taught her well.

Here are her perfectly hard boiled and peeled eggs.

hard boiled eggs

And here is her beautiful finished product (ignore the massive amount of paprika!) I’m very proud of her!

best deviled eggs

An Extra Refrigerator

stockpiling refrigeratorIt’s been a super long time since I have had a secondary refrigerator. We have a deep freezer in the basement that is huge and holds a lot and I love it. I usually have it filled with meals I have prepared in a big freezer cooking session. Of course that means there isn’t that much room for stock piling frozen items, and when there is, we can’t fit common, everyday things in there, like tubs of ice cream, etc. Plus, I can never stock pile things like cheese and sour cream that I might need for a weeks worth of meals, because there isn’t enough room in my fridge. I also hate that the kids drink warm soda and juice (their decision, not mine) because they know there isn’t enough room in the fridge to put the big pitchers. (5 kids = a pitcher a day). Not to mention countless water bottles, etc.

Well, my mom and dad decided to get a new refrigerator and asked me if I wanted theirs for our garage. With five kids, that was an easy answer, and by easy answer, I mean that I was practically jumping for joy at the prospect of being able to use it!

inside refrigerator stock piling

So it arrived last night, thanks to my nephew and a friend who brought it over in a trailer with a huge refrigerator dolly he borrowed from work. They were so great with it, and it looks so nice in our otherwise crowded garage.

We aren’t actually using it yet (shopping trip in the near future!), but I know it will fill up fast. Actually, we put a big jar of salsa in there that was taking up too much room in our kitchen fridge and some water. Now our fridge in the house will hold  more leftovers. LOL

Do you have an extra fridge? Does it help with stockpiling at all? Do you use it for anything more than just soda and drinks? I’m positive we will, but I know just the ease of being able to throw some soda in there will be a huge plus.

Great Picnic Ideas and Tips

It is finally that time of year again, where picnic’s and barbecues become almost the norm, and those hot summer days are spent being lazy and feeling young again. Why not create some special memories with your children and go on a picnic?

Here are some tips for what might be helpful to pack along on your picnic.

Basket and Food – Whether you bring an actual basket, or a cooler or tote instead, it is imperative that the food be brought it something that can keep it safe from the heat. A cooler is your best option because it will stay cold longest. Use those frozen blue packs instead of ice cubes because they stay colder longer (and they are a frugal option in that they are reusable!) – More on picnic food suggestions, tomorrow.

Plastic Wrap, Bags or Tin Foil – Remember to bring some method, whatever works for you – to clean up and transport any uneaten food back home. Honestly baggies are easiest, but not all foods can go into these. If you have plastic storage containers, you can bring the foods in these and replace the lids after use.

Blanket – Blanket, Towel, Sleeping bag – WHATEVER. But you will find it much more relaxing and comfortable to have a blanket to sit on. We keep a large quilt in our trunk year round because we never know when we will use it, and trust me – we have!

Protection – In the form of sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and bug spray. This will help make your day much more enjoyable. Remember to apply sunscreen again after about two hours.

Paper Towels and a trash bag – This makes clean up quick and easy. Most parks and other picnic areas have trash cans, but keep in mind that they don’t all have them. Don’t litter.

Games and Toys Bring a ball, baseball and glove, frisbee, jump rope, cricket set or other fun items to play with outside. A kite is a pretty fun picnic activity.

First aid kit or bandaids – Why some people with children leave home and do things like this without carrying bandaids and first aid ointment, I haven’t a clue. Trust me, if you have it with you Murphy’s Law ensures everyone will be fine and you won’t use it. However, if you don’t bring it? Yep, you guessed it – someone’s gonna need it!

Camera – This is obviously not a needed item, but what fun is a picnic without snapping some photos. Take tons of photos and create memories to last a lifetime.

Where To Get Good Produce – Farmer’s Markets or Produce Stands

It is that time of year where Farmer’s Markets, produce stands and other popular methods of selling local fruits and vegetables to the public are cropping up all over the place. Purchasing your fruits and vegetables from stands and markets is an opportunity to do two wonderful things. The first of course is to support your local farmers.

The other reason is that often, shopping for these healthy fresh fruits and fresh vegetables at these locations is more cost effective, leaving you with some extra cash that you might not obtain by shopping at your local grocery stores’ produce department.

First of all, usually these fruits and vegetables are a bit more fresh than those found at the corner grocer. In addition, there is often a dramatic price reduction on the fruits and vegetables. The stores raise the cost so they can gain back what they paid, plus make money on top. The produce stands offer bulk buys that significantly reduce these prices.

A farmer’s market or produce stand is a great place to get healthy fresh fruit, and still save money. The rising cost of everything, including food definitely warrants a trip to your local vendor. You can look in your yellow pages, but more often than not, if you keep your eyes peeled while you are out and about, you will probably discover one.

The only place I can think of that would be cheaper than buying this way, is if you have a local orchard that allows you to pick the fruit and vegetables yourself.