recently thrifted

brunchLast Sunday, my honey and I made a quick stop at the Goodwill in Forest Lake. I brought home couple bags of good things for spring, including a sweet, “date night in June” kind of dress, some cookbooks and heaps of dishes, including this set of mini casseroles…five at 49 cents a pop. I love dishes that can go from the oven to the table. And the fact that these are durable, AND flat-out adorable means that they are going to see a lot of use in my kitchen…starting yesterday! I cut the recipe for this baked French toast casserole in half, using whipped cream cheese in place of ricotta. Served with homemade strawberry syrup, extra-crispy bacon and a pot of coffee, it made for a perfectly cheery, not to mention tasty, brunch.

Have you thrifted anything recently you’ve put to good use? I’d love to hear!

xoxo,

Meghan

holiday how-to: quick-fix praline bars

Here’s a typical story from my life: Earlier this month I celebrated my 30th birthday party with a cookie swap at my favorite bar. The party was starting in half-an-hour, and, of course, I hadn’t had time to bake a single cookie. I knew it would be OK for me to skip the swap, but I still wanted to contribute a little something sweet. Into my brain, like a saving grace, popped this recipe…a holiday favorite of my Grandma Mary. The simple ingredients and unfussy proportions make it an easy one to recall by heart, and before I knew it, I was on my way out the door, tin of cookies in hand, with a minute or two to spare.

Before I share her recipe, please know one thing: No one’s going to “ooh” and “ahh” over how these bars look. They’re not showy, they’re simple. But whatever they lack in looks, they make up for (ten-fold) in taste. I figured I’d share the recipe with you this week, in case you too find yourself in a pinch and need to whip up something for a holiday party or potluck at the last minute.

grahambars

Grandma Mary’s Praline Bars

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

24 graham crackers (roughly two packs from an average-size box)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans (or walnuts)

HOW TO MAKE

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Arrange graham crackers on a foil-lined jelly roll pan.

3. Heat brown sugar and butter to boiling in a saucepan. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly; remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla.

3. Working fast, spread the caramelized sugar on top of the crackers, as evenly as possible.

4. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

5. Bake for 10 or so minutes, or until the caramel starts to bubble. Watch ‘em carefully because they can scorch from just a minute or two of over-baking.

6. Let them cool and then break into squares or pieces.

This recipe doubles like a dream, which you might as well do because they take literally 15 minutes start-to-finish and you will want to gobble them all up as soon as they are cool.

xoxo,

Meghan

saturday night supper

Tonight’s forecast looks like this.

snowshotYikes. I’m going to take advantage of the weather and stay in, cozy up and cook a yummy dinner for my hon and me. Here’s what’s on tonight’s menu.

First up, Rosemary Lime Cocktails via Joy the Baker.

6428745831_2d86f6747c_zFor the main course, I’m making this Bacon Mac & Cheese with Wisconsin Gruyère, a dish I fell head-over-heels for after seeing it on Savory Sweet Life earlier this week.

baconmacandcheese

And to finish, Slow Cooker Pumpkin-Apple Dessert. I love making desserts in my Crock-Pot because you can start ‘em before dinner and they’re ready and warm by the time the dinner dishes are done.

4263e4c2-1bd3-42d8-9fad-ab747b1f29daIt’s not a fancy lineup, just some hearty home cooking. Which sounds perfect on a winter night when the snowflakes are a-fallin’. I hope you are all having warm and restful weekends as well!

xoxo,

Meghan

weekend in wisconsin recap

Hi guys, and happy Monday!

 It’s been a long work day and I’m sort of out of words, but I wanted to pop in quickly and share some snippets from my weekend in Wisconsin with you.

Friday night’s dinner: Baked lemon chicken, potato logs, beans and chocolate pie (not pictured); all recipes (minus the beans) were from Loretta Lynn’s (awesome) cookbook.

My cabin = coziest place on earth.

Treasure hunting at a small town thrift store.

Pretty view of Lake Superior’s south shore.

Wisconsin Bloody Marys, I miss you so.

Dairy Queen pit stops…there were two.

My favorite lady country singer, who we saw perform from the third freakin’ row. It took me four songs to stop crying from happiness…it was literally like a dream.

And last, but not at all least, three days straight with this guy, who isn’t embarrassed to road trip with a lady in rollers apparently, bless his heart. After four years together, he still treats me like a treasure (even when I act like a turd). And that’s just one of the many, many, many, many reasons why I love him so.

I hope you all had wonderful weekends as well, and that your (short) week’s off to a stupendous start. Be back here tomorrow with a lovely list of links I’ve been diggin’.

xoxo,

Meghan

P.S. Photos in this post were taken with VSCO Cam.

revolutionary recipe alert: microwave apple crisp

I’ve been missing my oven a lot lately. It probably has to do with the fact it snowed today, meaning my least favorite season, pre-winter, has arrived. I’m trying to be positive about the cold weather, but it’s hard. Especially when you can’t even cope with it with a cozy night spent at home baking. One thing I’ve been dying to make all fall is a good old-fashioned apple crisp. Which is why this recipe for microwave apple crisp caught my eye when I stumbled on it at work the other day. I was skeptical at first, but after reading the positive reviews, my mind was made up to give it a try.

I stuck with the recipe pretty closely, but did substitute one of the apples out for a sad little pear that was languishing in my fridge. My 1.5-quart
oblong Pyrex turned out to be the perfect size.

After mixing up the topping (a straight-forward combo of oats, brown sugar, Bisquick, melted butter and spices) I thought it was going to be too thick, but it turned out to be just right.

This is when I started to have my doubts…

Skeptical as I was, it only took one bite to make me a believer. It was everything I had missed about baked apple crisp—sweet, warm, sticky, cinnamon-y, apple-y, good. I was so happy, I almost forgot about the sad state of my broken oven.

You can find the recipe (and read all the rave reviews) here. Let me know what you think if you give it a whirl!

xoxo,

Meghan

a (little) weekend revelation

While I was doing the old keep-toss-donate routine around the house this weekend, I had a “why didn’t I think of this forever ago?” moment. After sorting through some bags of clothes and boxes of miscellaneous stuff I’d been ignoring for ages, I realized there were a fair number of tidbits leftover that were A. too nice to donate to the thrift or B. purchased with someone special in mind. Like, for example, an exquisite silk scarf I found for my mom for $1. A precious dress I picked up at a church rummage sale for a friend’s little girl. And these cute 1950s “his” and “her” drink coozies that would make a super adorable bridal shower gift.

They had potential, these little odds and ends, but without a home, I knew they would never be connected to the person they were intended for. So I gathered them together and threw ‘em in a bin, along with some basic wrapping supplies, and am calling it my gift bin. I figure it’ll come in handy when the holidays roll around and the need for impromptu hostess gifts, White Elephant fodder and stocking stuffers all arises in the same week. It’s a little fix, and an unoriginal one I’m sure at that, but still, I feel good about it.

So dears, tell me, how were your weekends? Did you all have any big (or small) epiphanies, housekeeping-related or otherwise?

xoxo,

Meghan

how to: make tea-tin candles

I have this horrible tendency to hang on to way too many things, vintage tea tins being one of them. Which is why, in the course of the past week, my kitchen has been transformed into a veritable tea tin candle-making factory. If you, too, find yourself in a last-minute gift-making frenzy, here’s the how-to.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

 Miscellaneous vintage tea tins—all of mine were from thrift stores, where you can find them easily, priced anywhere from 25 cents to $2.

 Microwavable soy wax—a four-pound box of microwavable soy wax ($10 at Michaels’s with a coupon) flakes made three average-sized tea tin candles.

Wicks of the extra-large variety (tea tins are pretty big in diameter, so you need a fat wick)—also available at Michael’s

Silicone chalk (for the tins that are not water-tight)

Wick holders (optional)

Newspaper (not optional)

 

HOW TO MAKE

1. Test your tins. Fill your tins with water to see if they leak. If you find some are not water-tight, seal the inside bottom rim, corners and sides with a silicon chalk. Do not be an eager beaver and skip this step! (Unless scraping a counter-full of wax off with an old credit card sounds fun—then by all means, skip away!) Follow chalk dry time instructions before moving on to step two.

2. Cover your work space with newspaper. (Again, please learn from my mistakes!) Center your wicks in the middle of your tins, making sure the bottom of the wick is flush with the base of the tin. I prefer to use wick holders to accomplish this. (If you don’t want to buy holders, you can dip the bottom of the wick in melted wax and then stick/center in the bottom of the tin.)

3. Melt your wax—fun! I melted four-plus cups at a time in my glass liquid measuring cup. Four cups took about 4-5 minutes to melt entirely, quite a bit longer than the box o’ wax predicted. If you have a thermometer to test the temperature (per package instructions), feel free to do so. I did not and everything worked out just fine.

4. Fill your tins on up with wax, but not all the way up, just close to it. Wicks will need adjusting after you pour the wax; this is totally normal. It’s also normal to run out of wax before a tin is full. Just get going on nuking the next batch right away and add it when it’s done.

5. Leave your tins alone for 45 minutes to an hour. Go watch a Golden Girls episode, read a magazine or take pictures of your cat…I’m not one to judge.

6. After an hour or so has passed, poke a few holes near the wick, going all the way to the bottom of the tin. This allows air to escape and makes for a more evenly topped candle. Top off your candles with a little more wax.

7. Leave them alone again, this time for a while. In a few hours time…boom. Tea tin candles are ready to go. Cozy on up and enjoy your handiwork.

xo,

Meghan