Friday, July 03, 2020

Spicy Pretzels - the perfect party snack

Happy Independence Day!
Did you forget to make something for a (socially distanced) gathering this Holiday weekend? If' so I've got the perfect, easy snack for you. Spicy Pretzels! When I lived in North Dakota we had the most amazing little company that made these seasoned pretzels, they were so good, but hard to find. So I did what I do, tinkered in the kitchen, and came up with my own. They are so good! My family prefers them to the name brand ones, and honestly, so do I.

I make these pretty much year round, but I especially love to make them as neighbor treats during the holidays.

Ingredients
1 large (party) bag of pretzels - i like Snyders sticks or 2 bags of the Winco braided sticks (shown here) 
3 TBS Ranch seasoning powder or 1 Packet
1 tsp Lemon Pepper
1 tsp cayenne or 2 tsp or Trader Joe's chili lime seasoning
1 tsp seasoning salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

The Assembly 
In a large ziplock mix up the spices 
Then add the oil and "massage" it until you have a smooth past.
Next add the pretzels, shake them up a few times, let them sit for 2-4 hours, shaking them every so often. 
Finally spread on a backing sheet and  bake at 200 for 20 minutes (I then leave them in the oven to cool for another 20 minutes). Trust me, they need to be baked, the flavors just don't pop the same without a quick bake.
Don't forget to share the pretzel love. Happy Quarantine Summer Friends. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Best Queso Ever

Happy Cinco De Mayo!
When we lived in Oklahoma I was introduced to queso - real queso. Before that all I knew of queso was from a jar in the chip aisle, which was always a hard pass from me. In OKC all the best Mexican restaurants started the meal with house made chips & tortillas, fresh salsa, and white queso. This my friends was one of the worst food discoveries ever. You know why? Because I learned that queso is good! When we moved to Texas it was even worse, because the queso was even better.
When we moved back to the Northwest good queso was hard to find. So I did what I do. I tinkered in the kitchen, tried this recipe, and that recipe, mixed it this way, and that way, and boom. Perfection. First things first, here's what you need to whip up the perfect queso.
16 Oz of Velveeta (I know, I know, but trust me)
12 Oz Roasted Salsa
1 4 oz can of Diced Green Chilies
1/2 Cup milk
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt (again - trust me on this)
1/2 Cup roughly copped cilantro
1/4 Cup Queso Fresco (optional but next level)
1 tsp of garlic salt
1 tsp of chili lime seasoning
This is a super easy one pot recipe!
In a sauce pan over Medium heat add Velveeta, milk, greek yogurt, and seasonings. Once smooth add in salsa, and green chilies. Once well combined add cilantro and queso fresco.
Top with an extra sprinkle of queso fresco and boom, perfect queso!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A New Version of Easter

We love Pottery Barn Kids Easter Baskets
If you've been here a minute, you know I absolutely love holidays! I love the traditions, the hype, the celebration, the food, the family time. I love finding the right details, and making it magical for my littles. Well, this year is going to be something else...if you've been living under a rock, I'll fill you in. We, world citizens scattered across the globe are facing an unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19 or Corona Virus, which is highly contagious disease that has basically hit every country. Corona virus, though not dangerous for the majority of us (imagine a really bad flu that lasts around 2 weeks), does disproportionately affect the immunocompromised, those with respiratory issues, and the elderly. In an effort to slow the spread, saving our healthcare workers, hopefully keeping hospitals from being overcrowded, and in turn saving more patients, governments around the world are implementing massive shutdowns, quarantines (both official shelter in place, and suggested physical distancing) and banning gatherings over 10 people in most areas. Schools, Activities, Churches, Gyms, Restaurants, Salons, etc. are closed. It is a surreal time, but for the sake of our kids, the sake of our sanity, we have to move forward with celebrations, even if they are different from what we are used to, what we long for. This is the year to make the best with what we've got, make happy memories amongst the uncertainty. We can do this. We can find the rainbow in this storm. So here are some of my favorite Easter traditions and basket stuffers that we can still pull off in these uncertain times.
One of my favorite things about Easter is dying eggs, I've always loved it! For my littles they use Qtips to dip into the dye and create patterns, as well as washable markers, but of course they insist on dunking a few. To help control the mess I lay an old towel out for them, this both protects the table and the eggs. They also direct me in what they want on eggs, I do my best to draw what they ask for and then they dye them - see funky bunny for reference. In addition I make them each an "egg of the year" with accomplishments they've made, things they love, and adjectives that fit them. They love it and love dying their special egg.  I usually do their eggs the night before so they are ready when it's time to dye and they don't have to wait for me to make them. I also have low expectations for how our eggs will turn out. We just go with the flow and hope for the best. 

On Easter morning the stairway is "blocked" with streamers, we leave a bar out for each kid so they can have a snack while they wait for everyone to wake up. No one is allowed to go down until everyone is up.  Once every one is up we start with the egg hunt.  There is a note at the top of the stairs saying how many eggs there are in each color and which color belongs to who, since I do color coded eggs for my kids to keep it fair. The eggs contain money, socks, and small treats. 

Once all of the eggs are found they can get their first basket clue. Baskets are hidden and the kids have to go on a scavenger hunt to find them. They love following the clues and guessing then next hiding spot - it's a great way to draw out the fun.

As for the baskets themselves, I tend to go a bit overboard. I use baskets as an excuse to give them their summer wardrobes, new swimwear, sandals, and other things they may need for summer.

One thing I feel like we always need come spring time are new outside Toys. We love this bubble maker, it works amazingly well. We are also huge fans of water games, so we love these mini Super Soaker and water balloons. My littles also love helping in the garden, so this green toys garden set is super fun. You can't go wrong with classics like a new kite, chalk, and this amazing sky ball - it had the best bounce!
 
Spring also seems to find us more on the go, so I love adding toys that travel well. I know I've professed my love of Melissa and Doug travel toys many times, they really are amazing! We seriously never leave home without our boogie boards! And no trip is complete in our family without a bag of Tegu Magnetic Blocks.
 
Spring is also a great time to restock those art supplies. Here are a few of our favorites:
   
And we can't forget the slime craze. How is that still a thing? But really we love Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty because it doesn't make a mess. It doesn't get stuck to things like most slimes or putties - if you are slime adverse - this is the thing for you! We are also huge fans of the Play Foam for the same reason, it's a great sensory toy that isn't super messy. And of course there's always the classic Play-Doh.
 

My kids also get a fun toy or two they like, such as Schleich animals and dinosaurs. This bunny hutch is one of my daughter's favorite toys, and all three kids still play with this amazing Trex - who just so happened to be featured on an episode of How It's Made. This year my daughter is getting these Crayola Scribble Scubbies. My oldest son will be getting a lego set.
 
For the littles we love all things Fat Brain Toys, and these Tommy Eggs are a huge favorite. You can also click here for more of my favorite baby toys. Also depending on the baby's age I like to add a few age appropriate treats or needed items like teethers, and bibs.
  
What's an Easter basket without a few great treats? We are huge fans of good chocolate, sour candies, and trying fun & unique things. Here are some of our favorites:
    
And of course, you could always add one of these to the basket like we'll be doing this year.
Yes, you read that right, we have missed having a beloved pup in our house. Our Bailey passed away last May after almost 14 years of being ours, it has been a long 10 months. He lived a long, well lived, well loved life. Knowing we wouldn't have him forever, we have spent the last 3 years researching the perfect dog and breeder for our family and are so excited to have found our match. The littles have asked, begged, pleaded for a new dog weekly, if not daily. We have told them we are getting a puppy, they've seen pictures of what our puppy will look like, but they have no idea that it is happening so soon! We have been discussing names for the past 5 weeks since they were born, and have some pretty good ideas, but haven't landed on the one yet. We cannot wait to surprise them with their new best friend.  An Easter puppy wasn't planned, but it is a perfect serendipitous timing. 

In this uncertain time, I hope you find the time to breath, to meditate, to love, and to celebrate. We are all in this together. With Love, Tiffany.

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