Mason Jar Chocolate Cake Sundaes

Is there any combo that’s better than chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream? These little mason jar sundaes combine those two things into an easy, ready to eat, single serving dessert that you can always have in the freezer.

On a non-food related note, Jeff got me a camera for Mother’s Day and let me open it early, so I’ve been playing with it for a few days. These pictures are my first attempt at actual food photography with a real camera instead of my iPhone, and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out! I can’t wait to have more time to play and learn more about my new camera and food photography.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of German chocolate cake mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • 8 half pint mason jars and lids

Instructions:

  • Prepare the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box and scoop into cupcake tins. Bake for about 15 minutes and then allow to cool.
  • One chocolate cupcakes are cooled, place one cupcake in the bottom of each mason jar.
  • Spoon in one scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of each cupcake, then top with chocolate chips and chocolate syrup.
  • Repeat layering process one more time to fill each jar.
  • Screw on the lids and store in the freezer.

That’s it! This is such an easy dessert to make, but they are so good! I especially love the mini chocolate chips because they give the sundaes a nice little crunch when you grab them straight out of the freezer.

These are perfect for parties because they are already divided into single servings, or they’re great to just have in the freezer as a treat. Since they’re stored in mason jars, they’re also resealable for when you just want to enjoy a bite or two and save the rest for later.

You can also customize these with whatever cake and ice cream flavors and toppings you like.

Enjoy!

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Summer Bucket List

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Jack and I are loving the weather and that the days are longer now. We met Jeff downtown for sushi last night and I snapped this picture of Jack in the park while we were waiting for Jeff to get off work.

There are only three more weeks left in this school year, and then I will have two glorious months to stay home with Jack and spend all my time with him. We’ve got a few trips with family planned for this summer already, and I want to make sure that we do lots of fun things while I’m off work, so I’m working on a bucket list of things we can do that are cheap (or free!) and local. If you have any suggestions for fun things to do with a one-year-old in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham, let me know!

Our Summer Bucket List

  • Trip to Arkansas with Mamaw and Pop Pop
  • Trip to Georgia with Grandma Ellen, Aunt Beth, Uncle Stephen, and Zachary
  • Visit the Birmingham Zoo
  • Visit the Tuscaloosa Barnyard Petting Zoo
  • Paint something together at All Fired Up
  • Hike at Lake Lurleen
  • Go swimming
  • Explore the River Walk
  • Host Jack’s First Birthday Party!
  • Visit the Library
  • Build a fort
  • Camp in a tent at Lake Lurleen
  • Have a picnic at the park
  • Spend the day with Mamaw at the Farmers’ Market

Shrimp and Grits

April was the busiest month ever and it seemed like most nights we either grabbed some fast food or ate sandwiches for dinner. On Monday night, I was craving something really good, and when I ran by the grocery store, they had frozen, pre-cooked shrimp on a BOGO sale. I grabbed a couple bags and decided to make shrimp and grits. Because I used the pre-cooked shrimp, this meal came together in less than 10 minutes and it was probably the best meal we’ve had all month.

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (I got the kind with the tails on, which Jeff didn’t like, so next time I’ll get the kind with the tails removed)
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup quick cook grits
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (plus an extra splash for the grits)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Dried or fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

  • Rinse the frozen, pre-cooked shrimp under cool water in a colander to remove the ice glaze and start to thaw the shrimp. Once the shrimp are thawed and rinsed, put them in a large mixing bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning. Set aside.
  • Pour the water and milk into a medium saucepan and heat over high heat. Add 1/4 stick of butter and salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon of each).
  • When the water and milk are almost boiling, add 1/2 cup of grits and whisk together well (I prefer using a flat whisk like this one). Reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • While the grits are cooking, melt 1/2 stick of butter in a medium skillet over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, until the shrimp is heated through.
  • Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream to the butter and shrimp and stir well. Reduce heat and simmer until the grits are done.
  • When the grits are cooked to the consistency you like, add 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of heavy cream to the grits and stir well.
  • Scoop the grits into a bowl and top with the shrimp. Pour the sauce over the shrimp and grits and garnish with dried or fresh chives.

I served this with store-bought Texas toast, and it was really good. I just let the toast brown in the oven while I was cooking on the stovetop and everything was done and ready to plate in less than 10 minutes.

Month in Review

Y’all, where did April go? This month has flown by. It’s the end of the school year, so things are crazy at work right now and we’ve been equally busy at home, so there hasn’t been much time for me to try new recipes lately, but I wanted to show you what we have been up to!

This month started with Easter. Jeff had to work, so Jack and I went to my parents’ house to spend the day with them. We went to church with my grandparents at Springfield (the church where I grew up) and got to see lots of old family friends that we don’t see often. Jack really enjoyed all the attention he got and he loved playing with the tissue paper in the present Mamaw and Papaw got for him.

Jack learned to pull up a few days after Easter and has been constantly pulling up on everything and experimenting with letting go of his support every now and then. He especially loves to pull up in his crib and pack-n-play. He’s very proud of himself when he does it and always laughs and grins so big.

Despite the fact that Jack had a bad ear infection this month, we were able to do some fun stuff with him on the weekends. We spent one Saturday in Calera at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum’s Day out with Thomas. We met Jeff’s mom, sister and brother-in-law, and nephew there and spent the morning and early afternoon doing all kinds of fun activities. Jack loved the train ride and watching all the big kids do the activities. He’ll be old enough to really enjoy it big time next year.

Last week, Jack had his 9 month check up. I took the day off to take him, and once we got finished at the doctor’s office, we met Jeff for lunch and then went home and played. It made me even more ready for school to hurry up and get out so that I can spend more time with Jack. I can’t wait for this summer when we’ll be able to do all sorts of fun stuff while I’m off work.

This weekend, we spent Saturday with my mom and made sugar cookies for Jack’s teachers. They turned out really cute! I think they’re going to enjoy them. Mama and Daddy put up a swing for Jack on their front porch, so I got to see him swing, which he loves. On Sunday, we spent the entire afternoon in town after church and Jack loved getting to be outside. He kicked back in his stroller and had the best time while Jeff and I had a late lunch outside at Billy’s Sports Grill in downtown Northport.

April was fun! Now we’re ready for May, the end of school, and some fun summertime adventures!

Chicken Pot Pie Noodle Bake

This recipe actually resulted from an accident. I planned on making a chicken pot pie for dinner and had already started making the filling when I realized that I didn’t have any pie crusts in the fridge. I added some egg noodles to my chicken mixture, planning to make chicken soup, but then my husband called and said he wanted something really hearty for dinner because he was starving. Soup does not fit into his definition of hearty, so I thickened it up, poured it into a casserole dish, topped it with crackers, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best. It turned out really good and I’ve made it a few more times since then for an easy weeknight dinner.

Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 bag egg noodles
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 sleeves butter crackers
  • 1/2 stick butter or margarine

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place chicken breasts in water in a large pot with spices and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium heat, cover, and cook until chicken is done.
  • Remove chicken breasts and bay leaves from broth. Shred chicken breasts and return to the broth.
  • Add the bag of frozen vegetables and bring to a boil.
  • When the mixture is boiling, add half a bag of egg noodles.
  • Boil for 7-10 minutes (until the egg noodles are done).
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Mix 1/2 cup of milk with 1 cup of self-rising flour in a large measuring cup. Whisk well so there are no lumps.
  • Pour milk and flour mixture into the chicken and noodle mixture and stir well.
  • Cook on low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture starts to thicken.
  • Grease a 9×13 casserole dish with butter or margarine. Spoon in chicken and noodle mixture and spread evenly in the pan.
  • Melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave in a mixing bowl. Crush 2 sleeves of crackers into the melted butter and stir well.
  • Pour crackers over the noodle mixture and then sprinkle about a tablespoon of parsley on top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until cracker crust is golden brown.

Currently – March 2018

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Listening… I have recently discovered the This is Criminal podcast and have been listening to all the old episodes on my way to and from work every day. I love that the episodes are only about 20 to 30 minutes long, which means I can listen to an entire episode on my way to work in the morning. The stories are really interesting.

Eating… basically everything. I have really let my eating get out of control lately and I need to reign it back in. I’m planning a mini-Whole30 reset (and possibly a full Whole30, depending on how I feel after 9 days) starting in April.

Cooking… One of my favorite new recipes is this banana nut oatmeal, which is my favorite weekend breakfast. Lately, we’ve been eating out a lot, and I’m trying to cook at home a little more between now and the end of the month by keeping things simple and sticking to the basics like baked chicken, oven roasted veggies, and salads.

Wearing… whatever is clean and comfy. This maxi dress has been my go-to for anything that I need to look presentable for lately. I love that I can dress it up with heels and a statement necklace or make it casual with flats and a jacket or cardigan for work.

Watching… Jeff and I just finished the Netflix series Seven Seconds, which was really good. After that, we binged on the Netflix series Love, which I hated at first, but then ended up getting sucked in and loved. Both have some bad language, though, so definitely not for kids.

Reading… It has been so hard to me to actually finish a book since I had Jack. I don’t know why, but it seems like I just can’t concentrate long enough to finish a novel. I am still working on Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips. I am loving this book so far and I hope that I have time to sit down and finish it over the weekend. Does it count that I read 5 of 6 baby books almost every single day? I can quote Hop on Pop by heart. Just saying.

Planning… You guys, there are only NINE weeks of school left before I get out for two glorious months this summer. I can’t wait to get to be a stay-at-home mom during the summer and getting to spend every day with Jack.

 

Hello, March!

February felt like the longest and dreariest month ever, and I am so thankful today for fresh starts, a new page on the calendar, and sunshine!

Last month’s goals were mostly a bust. I did drink more water, but other than reaching that goal, I totally bombed everything else. It was constantly cold and rainy here, and I felt like my mood and motivation matched the weather.

Now, the days are starting to warm up and the sun is out, and it’s time to do spring cleaning and get to work on this month’s goals.

I took a step backwards in my weight loss journey in February, so I’m planning to get back on track with a Whole30 mini-reset starting on Monday. I’m also going to try to start working out consistently, which is always a very difficult thing for me.

At home, I’m going to be working on cleaning and organizing as much as I can. I’ll have a week off for Spring Break this month that I can dedicate to some house projects.

March is full of celebrations for us. My dad’s birthday is on the 3rd, Jeff and I celebrate our anniversary on the 12th, and I have Spring Break this month (woo-hoo!). We’ve already got some fun things planned that are leading up to Easter, so it should be a fun month!

Goals for March:

  • Finish at least one book (why is reading a book such a hard thing for me to do lately?)
  • Whole30 mini-reset
  • Make the bed every day (my goal from last month that didn’t happen)
  • Workout twice a week (baby steps, folks)
  • Spring cleaning
  • Get more comfortable using my Instant Pot
  • Attempt making baby food for Jack