Garlic Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Delicious Garlic Tomato Basil Bruschetta- perfect summer appetizer

I’m hosting an Essential Oils party at my house this weekend and I’ve been trying to think of small bites and easy appetizers to serve.  It’s starting to warm up here in Texas (finally!) and I’m beyond ready for summer flavors, like my Strawberry Bread and Lemon Bars.  I wanted to serve some savory options as well, and these small, colorful snacking tomatoes were just begging to be used.

Delicious Garlic Tomato Basil Bruschetta- perfect summer appetizer

I’m all about making life easier, especially when it comes to prepping before parties.  I found this Mezzetta Everything Spread on the condiments aisle and thought it would be perfect for bruschetta!  Instead of taking the time to toast and mince my own garlic, this Mezzetta Savory Garlic spread does the trick!  This versatile spread will be handy to have in the ‘fridge to instantly add flavor to a variety of meals on busy weeknights as well.  Just mix it, toss it, blend it, stir it, spread it, top it, or dip it!

Delicious Garlic Tomato Basil Bruschetta- perfect summer appetizer

Mezzetta Everything Spread is now available in four mouthwatering flavors, Garlic & Parmesan, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Hot Chili Pepper, and Olive, Garlic & Parmesan.  To find a store location near you or for more recipes visit Mezzetta.

Garlic Tomato Basil Bruschetta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 jar Mezzetta Savory Garlic Everything Spread
  • 1 pint Red Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
  • 1 pint Yellow Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 16 whole Basil Leaves (chiffonade)
  • Salt And Pepper To Taste
  • 1 whole Baguette
  • 8 Tablespoons Butter
Instructions
  1. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Toss gently to coat, cover, and set in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  3. Cut the baguette into diagonal slices.
  4. Melt half of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and toast both sides of half of the baguette.
  5. Repeat with the remaining butter and baguette.
  6. When ready to serve, spread about 1 teaspoon of Everything Spread on each piece of bread.
  7. Top each slice with a generous spoonful of the tomato basil mixture.

 

Enter to win a Gift Basket from Mezzetta- Visit this link and comment below with which Everything Spread you are most excited to try.  (Giveaway ends 4/7/15, US residents only).  You can also get a second chance to win by visiting Mezzetta and taking a short survey.

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Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The International Housewares Association. All opinions are 100% mine.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

I’m posting on the Inspired Home site today.

My husband isn’t a big fan of sweets. Usually when I bake a big batch of cupcakes or other dessert, he just loads it up and takes it to the fire station. My husband does occasionally like to enjoy a beer- especially craft beers- so I thought maybe he would be interested in cupcakes if I added a special ingredient to them. These Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner. Get the recipe on the Inspired Home site here.

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Bird Nest Easter Cookies

Today’s post is sponsored by Nestle Toll House, but my love for their Rolled & Ready Cookie Dough Sheets is all my own!

Use pre-made icing and refrigerated cookie dough to make these easy and adorable bird nest cookies! #Easter

These Bird Nest Easter Cookies just make me happy every time I look at them.  I love the bright colors, and I love how EASY they were to make.  All you need is some yummy Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and pre-made icing to make these adorable little treats.

Use pre-made icing and refrigerated cookie dough to make these easy and adorable bird nest cookies! #Easter

When I was growing up my Mom would make Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies for me regularly after school.  Looking back, she was probably bribing me with hot cookies so I would sit and tell her about my day.  Well played, Mom.  Needless to say, now that I am a Mom, Nestlé Toll House Refrigerated Cookie Dough has become a staple in my refrigerator.  The refrigerated dough makes it so convenient to just pop them into the oven a few at a time.

I thought it would be fun to dress up some cookies with a little Easter spirit for my girls.  I used pre-made icing and coconut tinted with green food coloring to create little bird nests for little marshmallow birds.  Just open the package of icing and mix in 2-3 drops of green food coloring with a knife.  Place 4-6oz of shredded coconut in a bowl with 3-4 drops of green food coloring and mix well with a fork.  Top each Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie (baked as directed on the package) with icing and coconut.  Set a cute little sugary marshmallow bird on top and voila!  These would be so cute for an Easter brunch or get together.

Use pre-made icing and refrigerated cookie dough to make these easy and adorable bird nest cookies! #Easter

My kiddos loved helping me make these easy Bird Nest Easter Cookies.  I love keeping products like this on hand that help me get creative in the kitchen, and make it easier to include little helpers.  Sophia loved breaking apart the cookies to bake them and topping each little nest with a bird.  For more Springtime baking ideas visit Nestlé Toll House and check out their new Rolled & Ready Cookie Dough Sheets

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Hearty Chili with Beans

A hearty chili recipe with beef and beans #recipe #chili

We are a house divided when it comes to chili.  I am a don’t you dare put beans in my chili kind of person while my husband is the more beans, more better type.  I also like a strong kick of chili powder and a nice heat, but James prefers a subtle chili flavor and even more subtle heat.  (I’ve shared my homemade chili recipe here.)  I asked on my Facebook page a few weeks ago: Chili with Beans or Chili with No Beans?  I couldn’t believe the overwhelming response.  It was a landslide.  Apparently, I am the minority.  

A hearty chili recipe with beef and beans #recipe #chili

Imagine my surprise when my husband made this hearty chili with beans the other night and I ate TWO bowls.  I barely eat refried beans with my Mexican food, and I honestly can’t even tell you if I’ve ever eaten a pinto bean before.  The texture and spice of this chili are spot on.  It’s loaded with protein and fiber, and a delicious meal for a cold winter night.  Not to mention it serves a ton!  If you don’t plan to eat all of it, freeze some right away for another time.  My Mom likes to always keep small batches of chili in the freezer ready to go to add to a meal or throw on some hot dogs.

A hearty chili recipe with beef and beans #recipe #chili

Hearty Chili with Beans
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs round roast
  • 2 15oz cans Ranch Style Beans
  • 2 16oz cans Pinto Beans
  • 2 10oz cans Original Rotel
  • 2 15oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
Instructions
  1. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces and trim the fat, if any.
  2. Cook the meat with the diced onion in a large stock pot until meat is browned and onion are soft; drain.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  4. Cook on low for four hours, or until meat is tender.

This chili was filling all on it’s own, but I’m hoping next time he makes some of my buttermilk cornbread to go with it! 

cornbread

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Southwest Chili Mac

Southwest Chili Mac- delicious one pot dinner! #recipe

We’ve been in a serious dinner rut lately.  I’ve been slacking with my meal planning and my grocery budget has been suffering because of it.  Pasta is usually my go-to meal when I can’t come up with anything because it’s fast and fairly cheap.  James prefers that the meal includes some kind of protein though.  This Southwest Chili Mac is hearty and perfect for a cold night.

Southwest Chili Mac- delicious one pot dinner! #recipe

This recipe has quickly worked it’s way into our regular rotation.  I especially love that it’s a one pot meal and ready in under thirty minutes.  It’s cheesy and full of flavor.  Cumin and chili powder are two of my favorite spices to cook with, so this is right up my alley but still subtle enough for the kiddos.  I love to serve it with a big, crusty loaf of French bread… because, well, carbs.  So good.

Southwest Chili Mac- delicious one pot dinner! #recipe

Southwest Chili Mac
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook ground beef until fully cooked. Drain if necessary.
  2. Add the spices to the meat and stir well.
  3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a slight boil.
  4. Add the macaroni; mix well.
  5. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, until noodles are tender.
  6. Stir in 1 cup of cheese, and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Looking for more pasta recipes?

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Easy Noodle Corn Chowder

I have a relationship with Horizon Organic that may include compensation for recipe development or products for review. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and love for mac and cheese are 100% my own.

Easy Noodle Corn Chowder- start with a box of macaroni and cheese to make this easy meal!

Every Sunday I sit down with a blank piece of paper to write out our weekly menu and grocery list.  It’s not my favorite task and it usually takes way longer than it should.  It’s like once that pen gets in my hand I suddenly can’t think of a single thing to have for dinner.  Forget my hundreds of dinner ideas and mealtime solutions on Pinterest.  I can’t even remember what we had the week before!

 

Easy Noodle Corn Chowder- start with a box of macaroni and cheese to make this easy meal!

And then I have to figure in all of the different eaters in my house.  The two-year-old that won’t eat a granola bar if it’s broken or a banana if it has a single brown spot on it, the eight-year-old that will eat salmon and black beans but won’t touch a homemade hamburger, the hungry husband that is usually only home for dinner a few nights a week because of his firefighter schedule, and me the carb loving, anti veggie, picky selective palate. 

One thing we can all agree on is mac and cheese.  My kids love the Horizon Organic Mac & Cheese because it’s so cheesy and delicious.  I love it because it has 10 grams of protein and organic ingredients.  I’m always trying to find ways to introduce new foods, sneak in veggies, and grow my list of fam approved meals, so I decided to take our mac and cheese night to the next level.

Easy Noodle Corn Chowder- start with a box of macaroni and cheese to make this easy meal!

I used our favorite box of Horizon Organic Mac pasta shells with white cheddar cheese to create this easy noodle corn chowder.  It was creamy, cheesy, and SO good.  It’s also a one pot dinner!  Sometimes when I serve only pasta for dinner, my husband will look around like “where’s the meat?”, you could easily throw in some rotisserie chicken with this dish.  My two-year-old didn’t even notice the corn because it blended right in with her familiar mac and cheese, and the eight-year-old didn’t notice anything after I said it had bacon.  :)

Easy Noodle Corn Chowder
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 box Horizon Organic Mac Pasta Shells and White Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 tbsp Horizon salted butter
  • 2½ cups Horizon whole milk
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 2 pieces of bacon, cooked
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine butter and cheese packet from mac and cheese over medium heat.
  2. Stir constantly to create a roux.
  3. Very slowly, stir in the milk.
  4. Bring mixture to a slight boil and add the garlic and onion.
  5. Add noodles to the mixture and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the corn to the mixture and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  7. Add bacon just before serving.
Notes
It's important to watch your heat and stir regularly so you don't scald the milk. If you want extra cheese, top with Horizon shreds.

 

If you’re looking for more mealtime solutions, follow Horizon on Facebook or Twitter.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic 2015 Social Content. The opinions and text are all mine.

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The International Housewares Association. All opinions are 100% mine.

straberry-bars

I’m sharing the recipe for these Strawberry Cheesecake Bars on the Inspired Home site today.

We usually keep it pretty low-key on Valentine’s Day and do a quiet dinner at home. We wait until after we put the kids to bed and then eat our favorite take-out alone on the floor in the living room. So much more romantic, and we don’t have to fight any crowds (or pay for a sitter!). I love that I don’t have to slave over the stove to make an elaborate meal, but I do at least make a dessert for us to share. My husband isn’t a big fan of chocolate or desserts, which seriously limits my ideas for what special treats to make him. I’ve seen so many beautiful heart-shaped cakes and chocolate confections online that my kiddos would love, but my husband wouldn’t care for.

One thing my husband is a big fan of is cheesecake. I know when I see it on the menu that I can almost always talk him into sharing a piece with me for dessert. I remembered these Blueberry Cheesecake Bars that I made a few months ago and decided to make them a little more festive for Valentine’s Day by using strawberry. Get the recipe for these Inspired Home site.

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White Chocolate Puff Pastry Bites

White Chocolate Puff Pastry Bites- easy and cute Valentine's treat

Do you ever have those days where you pat yourself on the back and think, “Man, I’m really nailing this whole parenting gig”?  The last 24 hours were not one of those days.  Warning: if  you don’t have kids, or don’t want to hear about someone else’s kid’s puke and poop, feel free to skip ahead to the lovely White Chocolate Puff Pastry Bites recipe I have for you today.  And while you’re enjoying that, pray for me.

James has been working a ton lately, like 100+ hours a week, a ton.  But, hallelujah, this weekend he actually had a day off and we wanted to make the most of it.  One of the chefs that James used to work with at the Four Seasons opened a new restaurant in Dallas and was hosting a chili cook-off with some of the local craft breweries this weekend.  It just so happened that another of one of our friends would be playing live music there as well.  We decided to make an afternoon of it and head out there as a family after church and naptime.

Our plan started to go awry when Isabella came home from Girl Scouts with a headache.  She gets them regularly, poor girl, and I was hoping we caught this one early.  I gave her a dose of medicine and she chilled on the couch waiting for Sophia to wake up from nap.  We set out for Dallas, about a 45 minute drive, with one kid wilted and asking how much longer before we even got out of the driveway and one kid just happy to be included and leaving the house.  As we made our way to the highway, I decided to pull up the menu and make a plan for what the kiddos were going to eat, especially because Isabella sometimes feels better after she eats.  Problem number two: no kid’s menu.  And really, barely an Emily-approved-adult menu.  The very first thing on the menu was Brussels sprouts… down to beer braised shredded beef tongue.  I all but told James to turn the car around.

We get there and of course it’s packed.  It was actually a really cool space, open patios, and the weather was gorgeous.  The staff was awesome and made the girls peanut butter and jelly and a grilled cheese- and James and I had grass-fed burgers.  So good.  Not five minutes after our food arrives, Isabella goes pale and tells me she’s going to throw up, which is not at all uncommon for her when she gets a headache.  We rush to the bathroom- two singles, both occupied.  Suddenly I feel like I’m on a bad episode of ‘Nina needs to go’, her need is imminent.  I spot a plastic bowl nearby holding bottle caps, quickly dump them out, and place it under Isabella just in time to catch a bowl full of puke.  Still standing in line for the bathroom, holding a bowl full of everything Isabella’s eaten that day, a woman comes up and asks if they are both occupied and if we are in line.  Yeah.  That just happened.

We finally get cleaned up (though, do you ever really) and get back to our table.  Sophia is still loving life, enjoying her PB&J between visiting all of the cute doggies at the different tables.  We finish up and decide to go next door to The Cake Bar, because I have earned some cake dang it.  It’s an adorable little space, and I do mean little, that is packed to the gills with beautiful cakes and people waiting in line for said beautiful cakes.  While we’re waiting, the girls decide to sit down at one of the tables an arm’s length away from me.  Not 60 seconds later, Sophia manages to flip the chair she is sitting in, and lands flat on her back.  Cue the immediate panic cry.  The one that is delayed just a few seconds while they look at you in fearful disbelief that that actually just happened.  It did.  And everyone in the one room tiny cake place is now torn between staring and feeling sorry for her, or staring and judging me.  It was all fine in the end, she calmed down, we assured the owner we had no plans to sue, and a nice gentleman ahead of us in line actually bought her a cake ball without us knowing.  Everyone in the car, Mommy has had as much fun as she can handle for one day.

luck and the cake bar

We drive back towards home across Dallas’ signature Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, where Isabella promptly pukes again.  We have to pull over to throw it out, luckily Mom brought another bowl.  Thankfully she falls asleep for the rest of the drive home… well, that is, until we have to stop 5 minutes from our house so that the two-year-old can poop.  Thank God for clean QT bathrooms.  Potty training is the best.  She’s not potty trained enough to, you know, not wear diapers anymore, but she is potty trained enough to know that hey, pooping in diapers maybe isn’t the best game in town anymore.  We are so close to home, yet still so far away, with Isabella crying that she might die and Sophia pretty freaking pleased with herself for pooping in the strange big potty.

Isabella threw up twice more before the night was over.  And when I woke up the next morning the dog had peed and pooped in the dining room.  The same dining room I just had professionally cleaned less than a week ago.  If you need me, I’m packing my bag and running away.  I don’t know where yet, but it will be somewhere that I can go to the bathroom by myself and not be responsible for any one else’s bathroom events.  Somewhere I can eat all of these delicious little White Chocolate Puff Pastry Bites and not have to share with anyone. 

 

White Chocolate Puff Pastry Bites- easy and cute Valentine's treat

White Chocolate Puff Pastry Bites
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 12 Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Cups
  • 2-4 tbsp white chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp red candy melts (like Wilton)
  • Sprinkles, optional
Instructions
  1. Cook the puff pastry cups as directed on the package.
  2. Two minutes before pastry cups are fully cooked, remove from the oven.
  3. Punch in the center of each cup and fill with white chocolate chips.
  4. Return to oven and finish baking.
  5. Melt candy melts in microwave for 30 second intervals on half power until smooth.
  6. Allow cups to cool, drizzle with melted red candy melts and top with sprinkles.

 

 

Sorry for all the bathroom business today.  I don’t usually go all real-talk mom-blog on you, but at least I brought you chocolate, right? 

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Chocolate Croissants

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ArtOfEntertaining #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

Chocolate Croissants- warm, flaky crescent rolls wrapped around delicious chocolate ganache

My husband and I made a resolution to entertain more this year.  We’ve started hosting a monthly game night at our house and I look forward to it every month!  We invite a few couples over to play games, usually Pit or Cards Against Humanity, and we each bring a new bottle of wine to try.  If you haven’t played either of those games, go get them now.  Pit is a great ice breaker because it’s so fast paced and requires you to move quickly (think spoons), and CAH is just hilarious (albeit slightly inappropriate at times).  I like to keep it simple and provide light appetizers or a cheese plate, but with Valentine’s Day this month my mind is on all things chocolate.  Besides, what goes better with wine than chocolate?

Chocolate Croissants- warm, flaky crescent rolls wrapped around delicious chocolate ganache

I go back and forth between bringing bubbles and pinot noir- my two favorites.  Those are the two bottles that I always try to keep on hand in my kitchen at all times.  One in case we have impromptu dinner guests and one in case I need a quick hostess gift.  Pinot Noir is typically a lighter-medium bodied, fruit-forward red wine.  This Pinot Noir from Estancia displays luscious berry flavors, spice and a rich, supple finish.  It’s a really versatile wine that pairs well with everything from creamy sauces, spicy seasonings, beef, poultry, cheese, and chocolate.  Especially warm, flaky, croissants filled with creamy chocolate ganache.  Serve some berries on the side to bring out the fruity tones of the wine.

Chocolate Croissants- warm, flaky crescent rolls wrapped around delicious chocolate ganache

These chocolate croissants only require three ingredients and are really easy to put together.  Great for game night because I can make the ganache ahead of time and just roll them up before everyone arrives.  They’re definitely best served warm, but I won’t judge you if you want to eat them for breakfast the next day. 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Croissants
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 4oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 1 pkg crescent roll dough (I use big and flaky)
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate (slowly) until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in cream.
  3. Chill in refrigerator for two hours.
  4. Spread chocolate on each crescent roll dough triangle.
  5. Roll up each croissant and bake as directed on package.

 

Discover the art of entertaining and connect with Estancia on Twitter or Facebook.

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5 Minute Famous Queso

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of RO*TEL & VELVEETA . All opinions are 100% mine.

All you need is 2 ingredients and 5 minutes to make this queso! #ad #quesoforall

My friend Julie from Willow Bird Baking shared this comic on Facebook yesterday and it really resonated with me.

I may not care about football (at all, even a tiny bit, not really even my home team) but I have a lot of friends that do.  I’ve caught myself occasionally getting annoyed with all of the status updates inundating my feed about whatever game is going on that weekend.  I didn’t stop and think that others could feel the same way when I share something I’m passionate about (like essential oils). 

All you need is 2 ingredients and 5 minutes to make this queso! #ad #quesoforall

This comic also reminded me that it’s kind of neat that people all around the country join together to do the same thing at the same time.  Even if you don’t watch regularly (like myself) you probably will still be watching the Super Bowl this weekend, if for nothing else but the commercials.  I didn’t grow up in a football loving family, but I still have a few memories of watching games, usually on Thanksgiving, at my Mia’s house.

All you need is 2 ingredients and 5 minutes to make this queso! #ad #quesoforall

So whether you’re team is playing on Sunday or not, one thing we can all agree on is snacks.  And I’ve got the quintessential party food staple for you right here.  All you need is two ingredients and five minutes to queso bliss.  Chips optional, spoons welcome.

All you need is 2 ingredients and 5 minutes to make this queso! #ad #quesoforall

Zesty, creamy, yummy, and easy – Queso made with RO*TEL and VELVEETA is a real crowd pleaser.  If you’re looking for more Game Day snacks, be sure to check out my post with over 60 Super Game Day Eats.

All you need is 2 ingredients and 5 minutes to make this queso! #ad #quesoforall

5 Minute Famous Queso
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 16oz VELVEETA, cubed
  • 10oz can original RO*TEL, undrained
Instructions
  1. Blend ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  3. Serve warm as dip with corn chips or crackers.

 

To learn more about Queso For All check out Velveeta Facebook and Ro*Tel Facebookemily_grace_signature3

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