Cookbooks for Christmas

Must have cookbooks for the foodie in your life!

I’m pretty sure that I have a cookbook hoarding problem.  When we go to the book store, I always make a bee-line for the cookbook section.  No matter what book store.  I love going to Half Priced Books and finding cookbook gems.  I go through the shelves like I’m searching for dinosaur bones.  Basically, I get all up in the cookbook shelves biz-ness.  Do you have a cookbook hoarder in your life?  Good!  Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks that I keep on hand at all times. 

Must have cookbooks for the foodie in your life!

And ps.. this post contains affiliate links.  That means if you make a purchase, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage for advertisement.  I only recommend products that I trust and believe would be of value to others.  Enjoy!


The Pioneer Woman: A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond – First, I LOVE Ree!  She’s so down to earth and man, can she cook!  Second, there are STEP BY STEP photos of every recipe!  That’s sort of her thing and its kinda awesome.  [Ok, way awesome.]  I also have Ree’s first book Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.

Sauce Basics by Keda Black – I think this is my all time favorite cook book.  It is another step by step book that breaks down all kinds of sauces.  Chocolate sauces, cream sauces, pasta sauces, meat sauces.  Anything that can be sauced, they break it down for you.  I love the My Cooking Class series and I also have the Pasta Basics, Cake Basics and Chocolate Basics.  

Bacon Nation by Peter Kaminsky – I won this book in a giveaway hosted by my foodie friend Julie and was so excited!  A whole book about BACON!  I immediately made one of the pasta recipes with bacon in it, because, well I’m Italian.  And a carb-o-holic.  And because bacon rocks my socks. 

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg – I first started reading the Artisan Bread in 5 blog before I found the book.  I would scroll through page after page of delicious bread recipes on their site.  Then my good friend Bobbie gifted me their bread cookbook.  I was in heaven!  I poured over the pages and started trying new recipes.  This is a great one to have on hand for sure.  They also have a gluten free version too!  [Score!]

Grocery Gardening by Jean Ann Van Krevelen – Yall, I seriously LOVE this cookbook!  It’s like a gardening and cookbook combined and is full of so much good information!  And great recipes!  I actually read this book like normal – from start to finish, dog earring the recipes I wanted to try.  It’s in a really cool and easy to read format.  Jean also has a gardening blog too if you want to check her out! 

Taste of Home Slow Cooker: 431 Hot and Hearty Classics – I actually don’t own this cookbook, my mother in law does.  I poured over this book when I was at her house.  I have at least 3 sheets of paper with hand written recipes that I want to try soon.  To say this book is FULL of recipes is an understatement!

Mac & Cheese by Ellen Brown – The ultimate comfort food cookbook!  I think I drooled through this whole cookbook after I bought it.  I love this book because it teaches you how to make the perfect mac and cheese and then gives you a bunch of recipes to recreate.  It will keep you busy in the kitchen for awhile!

One Pot, One Bowl by Kim McCosker – This is literally my motto in the kitchen – one pot!  I grabbed this gem from the used bookstore and have tweaked a few recipes from it.  It’s also a four ingredient cookbook, which is always fun.  Less dishes and delicious recipes are always a winner in my book!

Pickles and Preserves by Parragon Books – Out of all the books mentioned, this may be the cutest one of them all.  It has great recipes, but it also comes with gift tags for your pickles and preserves!  And they are cuuuute!  It’s like a gift with a gift inside so you can make gift for others!  [Makes sense right?!]  I’ve made the vanilla fig jam in the book many times and its amazing. 

I bet you’re wondering – what cookbooks are on your wish list, Kelley?  That’s a great question!  And any [husbands] that are reading should know that I am currently eyeing:

No pressure or anything. 

Oh and be sure to sign up for our emails!  Ill send more foodie recommendations your way! 

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Leftover Ham Ideas

Leftover Ham Ideas!  Great recipes to use all that left over ham from the holidays!

Some people are funny about leftovers, they either don’t like them twice or they don’t like to cook with them.  I really love leftovers.  If its something I love, I can eat it a few days in a row [aka pasta] or I can whip up something else entirely.  I actually plan our weekly menu around leftovers.  Cuts down on prep time, cook time and money!  So when big family meals like Easter roll around, I get a little excited.  One because of all the time with family and two because of all the leftovers!  We always cook a ham for Easter and have a ton leftover.  [Which is ok with me!]  And as much as I love ham, I can’t eat it plain everyday.  So I’m sharing some amazing leftover ham ideas.  You know, in case you are a leftover lover as well!   

Leftover Ham Ideas!  Great recipes to use all that left over ham from the holidays!


  1. Lightened Ham Salad
  2. Ham and Cheese Breakfast Pockets
  3. Cheese Ham Chowder
  4. Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry
  5. Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls
  6. Chicken Cordon Bleu Ranch Wraps
  7. Smokehouse Pizza
  8. Overnight Ham Casserole
  9. Ham and Cheese Lasagna
  10. Hot Ham and Cheese Eggo
  11. Chicken Cordon Bleu Nuggets
  12. Ham and Potato Quiche
  13. Loaded Ham Potato Salad
  14. Ham and Leek Quiche
  15. Clam Chowder
  16. Texas Ham and Cheese Sliders
  17. Hoppin John
  18. Ham and Swiss Spirals
  19. Ham Pineapple Skewers
  20. Ham, Apple and Blue Cheese Wraps
  21. Ham and Egg Cups
  22. Ham and Potato Soup
  23. Cordon Bleu Mac N Cheese
  24. Ham and Cheese Grits
  25. Ham and Asparagus Bread Pudding
  26. Ham and Cheese Kolaches

And these are some recipes that would work great with leftover ham as well!  [They don’t include ham in the recipe but you add it in for a delicious meal.]

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Life of the Party No. 25


Hey yall!  Welcome back to another Life of the Party link up.  We are excited to have you here!  [All five of us!]  Stop by, link up and take a look around at what everyone is sharing.  Its a great chance to find new blogs to read or ideas in general.  Last week I shared some comforting crockpot recipes that I had found in the link party.  [Who doesn’t love a good crockpot recipe?  I know I do!]

Comforting Crockpot Recipes

Let’s get the party started yall!

Life of the Party link up

Comforting Crock Pot Recipes

Comforting Crockpot Recipes

Do you know what my favorite thing about cooking is?  Not having to do the dishes afterwords.  Its true, I’m a huge fan of avoiding the dishes.  [You can ask my hubby to verify.]  Since you need at least one dish to make a meal, the crock pot is my one of my all time favorite kitchen gadgets.  One dish plus your whole house smells delicious the whole day.  I love my crock pot even more in the winter time when we are stuck inside or busy with other things.  Toss everything in pot and enjoy a comforting crock pot meal.  Looking for a little more crock pot inspiration?  I’m sharing a few of my favorite comforting crock pot recipes today! 

Comforting Crockpot Recipes


Do you have a favorite comforting crock pot recipe?

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Easy Homemade Christmas Desserts

Easy Homemade Christmas Desserts.  Pies, cakes, cookies, brownies!  Something for everyone.  #christmas #recipes #desserts

Its starting to feel more and more like Christmas, especially since our weather has finally started to cool down.  And when our weather cools down, my oven gets fired up!  There is something so familiar about baking easy homemade recipes when its chilly outside and Christmas is approaching.  Do you love baking in the cold weather?  If so, you’re in luck!  I have rounded up almost 50 amazing Easy Homemade Christmas Desserts.  The top few are my personal recipes and after the collage picture there are a bunch of recipes from friends.  [Some came from the Life of the Party link up!]  Grab a cup of coffee and happy baking! 

Easy Homemade Christmas Desserts.  Pies, cakes, cookies, brownies!  Something for everyone.  #christmas #recipes #desserts


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Review: RoseArt Magic Fun Dough

Roseart Magic Dough Party

Disclosure: This article is sponsored by RoseArt Magic Fun Dough.  All opinions are our own.  To read my full disclosure policy, click here

This weekend we had a big event at the Grant house – we have a party.  And contrary to what Ryley kept saying, it wasn’t a birthday party.  We hosted a RoseArt Magic Fun Dough party and invited over a few of the kids friends.  We had princess crowns, dinosaurs, volcanoes and even fairies at the party.  

Roseart Magic Dough Party

We received two kits to try – a caveman kit and a fairy princess tea party kit.  I kept the party simple with a few themed snacks and one other activity.  We had caveman mix which was goldish with jelly beans (or dinosaur eggs) and a dinosaur for the boys.  And we had a fairy princess mix with bugles (crowns) and magic jelly beans.  And before we got started with the Magic Fun Dough we decorated princess crowns and made fossils with salt dough.  Then we set up the fun dough and let the kids go wild. 

magic fun dough


magic dough

The cool thing about the Magic Fun Dough is that it has temporary tatoo stickers that you can apply.  The kits are for ages 3 -7 (and can be found at Target, Walmart and Amazon) but even our little ones had a good time with the fun dough.  Ryley was able to apply the sticker to her dough and we helped the younger ones add them.  It was easy to add the stickers but you have to be careful with the amount of water you use.  The more water on the dough, the less likely it is that the tatoo will stick.  [You can see it in action here!]  


The party was a huge success and after all the kids left, Ryley and Avery still wanted to play with their dough.  They played before dinner and then woke up and went back to playing with it the next day.  Ryley is getting good at adding the stickers to the fun dough!  Im just happy to have a toy that will keep both kids attention for longer then a hot minute.  Plus, we can buy add-on kits for Christmas!  Since both kids liked the dough more then scenery that the kits came with, we will just buy the add-ons as gifts.  Which is great because they are only $5! 

And in case you were wondering, yes I played with the Magic Fun Dough too.  Here is a quick video I did to show you how the transfers work. 

So my mommy recap:

  • Fun for all ages
  • Encourages imaginative play
  • Easy to clean up
  • Inexpensive add-ons
  • A toy that will keep my kids attention – priceless. 

Easy Thanksgiving Crafts

Easy Tanksgiving Crafts via

Thanksgiving is in my top 3 favorite holidays.  I want to say its my favorite but Christmas and Easter are right up there as my favorites.  So its one of my top three favorite holidays.  And its more then the food that I love about Thanksgiving.  Its like there is a collective feeling of thankfulness starting in November and carrying over to the other holidays.  And I love that.  Today Im sharing about 20 easy homemade crafts that are sure to put you in the Thanksgiving mood.  From turkeys to acorns to pumpkins, this easy thanksgiving craft list has got you covered for the upcoming holiday.  And if you’re looking for some easy homemade recipes for Thanksgiving, be sure to check back here this week.  I may just have a few to share.  [Hint, hint.]
  Easy Tanksgiving Crafts via


Thankful Tree >> One Creative Mommy
Nutter Putter Pilgrim >> Cincy Shopper
Thumbprint Indian Corn >> Meet the Dubiens
Acorn Art >> No Time for Flash Cards
Turkey Embroidery Hoop >> Do Small Things With Love
Bugle Cornucopias >>Cookies and Cups
Thankful Bucket Garland >> Uncommon Designs
Turkey Pine cones >> A Pumpkin and a Princess
Turkey Pumpkin >> Second Chance to Dream
Pop up Paper Plate Turkey >> Crafty Journal
Fabric Feather Headdress >> Jacks and Kate
Turkey Hand Craft >> Pounds 4 Pennies
Fall Leaves Turkey :: Mommyapolis
Reversible Burlap and Lace Table Runner >> The Pinning Mama
Turkey Placemat >> Embellish Goods
Turkey Pillow Cover >> Truly Lovely
Pumpkin Pie Playdough >> The Idea Room
Paint Chip Turkey >> Born Again Farm Girl
Fall Leaves Placemats >> Mom Endeavors
Circle Stamped Pumpkins >> I Heart Crafty Things

Looking for more craft ideas?  Check out:

 Easy Fall Crafts

Or check out my Thanksgiving Pinterest board for more great ideas!
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Back to School Lunch Idea: Mini Pizza


I have a secret weapon when it comes to lunches.  Ok, its not really a secret weapon but it can help me leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Ok, thats not true either.  What my secret weapon does do is trick my kids into eating their lunch.  And its not really a secret.  Its ketchup.  [All that super hero talk for ketchup?  Yea, sorry.]  My kids love pizza but most of the time they don’t even finish one slice.  I started making these mini pizzas with ketchup and they practically disappeared.  Its one of my favorite easy homemade recipes to make for the kids.

mini pizza lunchable copy cat

I mentioned in the mac ‘n cheese lunch post that I had a found a better way to store condiments.  I found these condiment cups at WalMart on sale for $1.50 and they fit perfectly in the kids lunch box.  I probably should have put the cheese in one too.  Ah well, live and learn.

mini pizza lunch


To make your own mini pizza lunch you will need:

  • Sandwich thins
  • Ketchup
  • Shredded cheese
  • Pretzels
  • Fruit Twist

(You make the pizzas just like this.)



Everything fits so nicely in our faux bento box.  Every time I send mini pizzas to school with the kids they come back with empty lunch boxes.  Ryley’s teacher told me ‘She ate the whole thing!  She loves it!’  Yea, its has ketchup on it, of course she loves it.  I have literally watched my daughter shovel ketchup in her mouth with her bare hands and lick it off her plate.  So when you throw in on a piece of bread and cover it with cheese [another one of her favorites] of course girlfriend is going to love it.  Like mother, like daughter I guess.

What is your secret weapon to get your kiddos to eat?

Back to School Lunch Idea: Mac ‘n Cheese

lunch box ideas

I think this may be one of my kids favorite lunches.  Heck, its one of my favorite lunches.  It has all the makings of an easy homemade recipe; ranch – check, cheese puffs – check, mac n cheese – check!  Its my go to lunch when my kids are being picky eaters.  Plus, its super easy to pack into a lunch box and send off to school with them.  Ill show you what you need to make it and why its so easy to pack.



To make your mac ‘n cheese bento box you will need:

  • Mac ‘n Cheese (duh, right?  I made mine the night before and had it the fridge.  Nothing like leftovers!)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Ranch dressing
  • Cheese puffs (I like the Snikiddy Brand)
  • Cupcake liner
  • Fruit snack

I have started to buy more organic and non-GMO foods for the family.  Its tough to find food that the kids like, that we like and that isn’t over the top expensive.  Right now I mix about half organic and half regular food in their meals.  Its a slow process to switch over to a whole new set of food, but its something we are passionate about doing.  [Ill save the GMO talk for another day, yall.]

lunch box ideas


Again, everything fits perfectly into the faux bento box.  I doubled up the cupcake liners and added the ranch dressing for dipping.  It all fits neatly in the bottom compartment.  [Later in the week I found condiment containers that work even better, but the cupcake liners did their job.]  Plus, its something the kids can help me put together, which they love!

Here are some more ideas for back to school recipes as well!

What is your kiddos favorite lunch?  And how often do they eat it?

Back to School Lunch Idea: Healthy PB&J


Hey yall!  Are you excited for lunch box week?  I am!  For me, lunch is the hardest meal to put together and be creative with for some reason.  I feel like Im always giving the kids the same thing over and over.  Do you ever feel like that?  [Say yes so Im not alone!]  When Ryley went to VBS a few weeks ago I was determined to plan a new lunch box idea for her every day.  And I did!  I thought I’d share these easy homemade recipes and hopefully we can master lunch together!


Every day this week I will share a new lunch box idea with yall.  Ill show you how I put everything in the box as well as my ingredient list for that day.  These are not super hard but they are child friendly and most importantly – healthy!

sistema lunch box

I really love the idea of bento boxes for the kids but they can get kinda pricey.  I found this sistema lunch box at World Market for less then $5.  It has the separated compartments that work perfect for putting all the kids food in one container.  Which I love.

lunch day one

For today’s healthy pb&j lunch I used:

  • Organic Peanut Butter
  • Organic Apricot Preserves
  • Bread
  • Organic Raisens
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Organic Blue Corn Chips


I used a star cookie cutter to make a fun shaped sandwich for the kids and to cut the crusts off.  They are always excited about lunch when its in a fun shape.  Again, they have bento shapes you can buy but I used one of the many cookie cutters I already own.


Everything else fits nicely in the container and the kids have a healthy lunch to take to school.  Did I mention its healthy?  I was sending the kids to school with lunchables for the longest time until I read the back of the box.  There is so much junk in those that I didn’t feel comfortable eating them three days a week.  We are trying to reduce the amount of processed food we eat and making the kids lunches was a big step.  Plus, it doesnt take long to throw together a nice lunch if you have the ingredients on hand.  Oh and its healthier.

What do your kids eat for lunch most days?

Looking for more recipe inspiration?  Check out: