On Marriage

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This month marks six years that I have been married to my husband. I find it so hard to believe that six years have passed by. So much has happened in a little over a half of a decade, and I cannot imagine a better person to go through this life with. We met in college and fell in love instantly and married shortly after I graduated.

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Looking back upon that blessed day, I see two kids at 25 and 22, and endless promise. Six years later, we are still kids at heart with one kid and another on the way, but the promise is still endless. The evolution of love is what I have found most surprising these past years. I could not have imagined that I would adore settled love more than newlywed love. Marriage requires work, as true love is willing the best of the other, above yourself. As difficult as this is, there is no love more pure and worth pursuing than that of self-sacrificial love.

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The details of the day were perfect, but looking back, do not matter. All of those details were fleeting. What does matter are those two kids, and their love for each other… how God brought those two together and is continually working through their marriage. Here’s to another 70 years with the love of my life full of laughter and babies.

BeFunky Collage

See more about our extraordinarily talented photographer at Ora Photo Studio.

New Beginnings: The Second Chapter of Home

Sometimes you get lucky. And sometimes you just really hit the jackpot. So often in my life, I feel like the latter has happened. Meeting my husband, raising my son, the once in a lifetime opportunities I’ve received in my life (like an expedition to Antarctica 8 years ago) are just a few glimpses of moments that I hit the jackpot. Another moment? When we had our offer accepted on our dream home. There have been so many countless moments in between.

Why has God blessed me so much? One of those mysteries that I don’t understand and may never understand. Granted, with blessings come expectations.

Backyard | Bacon is the Way to Happiness

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.”

Nevertheless, I am so excited. 2016 has already proven to be a beautiful year for our family and March is only just coming to a close. I cannot wait to see what else is to come.

In a little over a month, we settle into our dream home. It has been a year in the making- between deciding to sell our little row house in the city, to actually putting it on the market, to deciding on moving into the in-laws (as virtually no houses were on the market), to present day. 6 weeks ago had you told us this is where we would end up, we would have raised our eyebrows at you and said that you are totally crazy. But, God had other plans for us. He slammed the doors we hoped to pass through, and nudged us toward the ones we were meant to enter. In the end, we realize that this is where we are meant to raise our family. It is maybe a mile (if that) away from where we intended to buy, but in so many ways, it’s a world away.

Cherry Blossoms Spring | Bacon is the Way to Happiness

And let me tell you, party people, we are completely blown away. It has been a long journey, but we are nearing our destination. The First World problems I find myself facing is remembering what the heck stuff we have in storage (I literally can’t remember what we own), picking paint colors (which, let’s face it, is kinda stressful– zero people like to re-re-repaint– and we’ve done that plenty in our old house), and planning my cutting garden.

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Stress. Full. Okay, so not really. It’s actually a lot of fun, especially when this house needs zero renovations, unlike our first home.

So stay tuned, dear friends, to look into the pages of what I am calling our Second Chapter of Home. I can’t wait for you to make this journey with us!

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One Bite S’more

Sometimes, all you really need is just one little bite. That’s where these one bite s’mores come in. I just needed a little sweet pick me up on a tired Friday. I am a firm believer in foods making you feel better. House shopping is like zero fun (I have to admit that it’s less fun than selling, who would have thought!), especially when the market you are looking to purchase in has such high demand that houses sell within 24 hours of listing. Say what? Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially us, which is why we keep missing houses!!

Like I said, that’s where these one bite s’mores come in. That way, you only need one bite and you can feel better. You need to save eating a whole jar of Nutella for those really awful days.

Feel free to substitute graham cracker pieces for the animal crackers, or really any cookie your heart desires. Also, feel free to make several bites- no judgment here, we all need s’more chocolate in our lives.

Also, why does the word s’more auto-correct into the word snore? That’s just not right. And not even related, am I right or am I right? I’m going to have to speak to somebody about that.

One Bite S'more - Bacon is the Way to Happiness- #s'more #chocolate #sweets #treats

One Bite S’more
Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients:
4 animal crackers
1 piece of chocolate (I used this chocolate)
1 marshmallow

Directions:
1. Using either a toaster oven or conventional oven, place two animal cookies on a baking sheet, place chocolate piece and marshmallow on top. Broil for about 30 seconds. Remove from oven, top with remaining two cookies and enjoy!
2. NOM.
3. Feel free to make additional s’mores!

Irish Potatoes (Buttercream Candies)

Irish Potato Candy - Bacon is the Way to Happiness
Irish Potato Candy – Bacon is the Way to Happiness

 

Homemade things just taste better, don’t they? They have a wonderfully fresh taste and have a whole lot of love in them! And homemade candy is just like. Awesome. Like really friggin’ awesome. It takes what’s special about homemade food to a whole new level. Like a whole new sweet level.

Once Valentine’s Day comes to a close, stores in the Philadelphia region begin filling their shelves with Irish Potatoes in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. And, no, not the starchy vegetable– but, a cinnamon coated candy with a buttercream-coconut type filling.This is not a treat that hails from the Emerald Isle. And, despite its name, contains no potatoes in the ingredient list. Yet, somehow, for many, this has become synonymous with celebrating the feast of St. Patrick, along with corned beef, Guinness, Irish soda bread, and cabbage.

And let me tell you, these treats are fun and yummy. And what I think makes this recipe really tick is pulverizing the shredded coconut in a food processor. It enables you that hint of coconut flavor and texture, without overpowering the recipe.

Go on, why don’t you give these bad boys a try for St. Patrick’s Day?

Irish Potato Candy - Bacon is the Way to Happiness
Irish Potato Candy – Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Irish Potatoes (Buttercream candies)
Yields: Approximately 3 dozen candies
Time: About an hour

Ingredients
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
16 oz. powdered sugar, sifted
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3-4 TBS cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the shredded coconut until it’s in teeny, tiny pieces. Set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer, and the largest bowl you can find (trust me, I went medium bowl, and quickly realized I needed a large bowl, since I was wearing butter and cream cheese!), mix together the butter and cream cheese until well-combined. Add the vanilla and mix for a few seconds.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar (about a half a cup at a time) while mixing on medium. Continue adding by the 1/2 cup until all the sugar is added. Mix until well combined.
  4. Stir in the coconut by hand, until well combined.
  5. Place the cinnamon into a shallow bowl. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out approximately in between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of the filling mixture. Roll into a ball and roll around in the cinnamon, be sure to shake off excess cinnamon.
  6. I like to lightly drop the candies on a few sides on a cutting board to remove even more excess cinnamon (I like mine lightly coated!)
  7. Place into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the candies to set.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Kids’ Kitchen: No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites

 

no bake energy bites via Bacon is the Way to Happiness

A nasty respiratory bug is going through our house, and really, just about the entire everywhere. Let me just say, it’s a doozy. We’ve been out of commission for a week, and the clock is still running. Like I said, it’s a doozy. Being housebound precipitates insanity. I’m fairly certain of this!

The other challenge during this week- amid excessive coughing- has been encouraging my son to eat. He usually is a relatively good eater (for a toddler), but during this illness, he has been less than interested in eating. Mostly because I have put the kaibosh on dairy, his beloved food group. Now, we’ve been forced into creativity to get him to fill his little belly. The most successful way to get him to stuff his face is to include him in the food making process- and to make sure that it’s yummy.

[in comes energy bites]

You can call these puppies cookies, and toddlers know no differently. You can pack them full of different kinds of yummies & healthies to encourage obtaining as many nutrients and protein as you can while sickness ensues.

Peanut butter allergy? Swap out for almond butter or sunflower seed butter! Want to swap the additions? Please do! And let me know what you added and how it tasted! I really wanted to add espresso powder, for obvious sleep deprived reasons, but I know my son would get his hands on those puppies, and help me Rhonda, I can’t imagine this bundle of energy on caffeine. He’s already so rammy from being in confinement and so over being sick!

 

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Here is the little tyke hard at work. He had more of a squish and drop technique for these bites, but they still look perfect to his mommy! I split this recipe in between two bowls, one for him, and one for me. I really hope you can tell the difference between his work and mine!

The result? Delicious. And the best part? Little man ate.

No Bake Peanut Butter Bites
Time: 10 minutes prep + 30 minutes
Yields: 10-12 servings

 

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Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 TBS honey
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS wheat germ
2 TBS coconut flakes
2 TBS ground flax seeds
1 TBS vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until well combined.
2. Put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Once chilled, roll into small balls. Serve right away! Keep stored in refrigerator. Discard after one week.

No Meat? No Problem!

Today is the day of Paczki & Fasnachts, which means that tomorrow marks the first day of Lent! It is a beautiful time of year in which Christians prepare for the Easter holiday by way of fasting and prayer. There are two days of fasting (Ash Wednesday & Good Friday). Also, Fridays throughout the duration of Lent, Catholics abstain from meat. Even though I love bacon (and boy do I ever), I do have a much greater adoration for Lent.

This means it’s time to fill your non-meat recipe arsenal for those Friday evening meals.

Here are a few of my dinner favorites from years gone by:

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Salmon & Sweet Potato Cakes

Salmon Maple Bourbon - Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Salmon with Maple Bourbon Glaze & Caramelized Onions

Gnocchi with Arugula and Sundried Tomatoes - Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Gnocchi with Arugula & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Scrambled Falafel Pitas - Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Scrambled Falafel Pitas

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Cranberry, Apple, & Avocado Salad

two-bean-chili - Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Two Bean Chili

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Crab, Butternut Squash & Walnut Macaroni & Cheese

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Butternut Squash, Asian Pear, & Caramelized Onion Flatbread

Poached egg tartine - Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Spinach & Tomato Tartine with Poached Egg

 

Happy Lenting!

5 Minute Pizza

What the heck is it about pizza? Aside from the fact that it’s delicious, it’s really delicious. It takes minimal ingredients to create, but enables maximal enjoyment.

Toddlers. Grandparents. Teenagers. Great-grandparents. Godparents. They all love it. And with good reason. It’s darn good. It’s so darn good that sometimes waiting more than 5 minutes to consume pizza can seem downright purgatorial, especially if you’re two years old. I’m not going to mention any names here, but I gave birth to this person.

That’s why it’s good to keep little shortcuts on hand. For those days in which picky eaters are also impatient waiters. I introduce to you: the 5 minute pizza. Now, authenticrats may have beef with this recipe, and before I became a mom I would have just told you to go make and eat the real deal.

Again, impatient waiter, picky eater, purgatorial reminderer toddler in house. So, ya shortcut. And ya get over ya self. For starters: You need some Naan! Or heck, even a tortilla. And then you need some sauce- homemade? You’re amazing! Jarred? Excellent! And then some cheese, which is hopefully store bought. If you made your own cheese, first of all, you have an envious amount of time on your hands & we seriously need to become friends and you need to teach me how. 

Naan. Sauce. Cheese. Oven. DONEZO.

5 Minute Pizza
Yields: 1 serving
Time: I won’t insult your intelligence

5 Minute Pizza: Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Ingredients:
Naan (the more slices the merrier)
Tomato Sauce
Cheese

  1. It is really this easy, yes. Spread enough tomato sauce around the naan so that it is nice and chunky. Top with cheese!
  2. In either a toaster oven or conventional oven, turn on the broiler. Place the pizza on the top rack and broil until the cheese is melted and honestly you’re done.
  3. Yes, it is really that easy. Yes, I still consider this pizza.

A Downton Abbey Inspired Lunch: Goat’s Cheese & Lemon Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Goat's Milk Lemon Cucumber Sandwiches - Bacon is the Way to Happiness

This past Sunday, the season premiere of the final season of Downton Abbey aired. I think so many will agree with me when I say that this show is absolutely magical. The acting. The costumes. The plots. Mary’s consistent mischief, the endless drama of Edith. The Dowager Countess. Carson. That. House.

It’s uncommonly wonderful and been so much fun to watch it through the years. Upon hearing the theme, I am transported back to my first year of marriage, when I first found the show and my husband and I consumed endless bowls of popcorn trying to figure out just what in the heck that stinkin’ Thomas was going to do next.

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Unique to English culture is tea time. Delicious aromatic teas coupled with delicious little sandwiches. Inspired by the final season of this show, I present to you a fun spin on traditional English tea cucumber sandwiches. Cucumber sandwiches are elegant, glorified comfort food.

Now, enter goats. Maaa. And their wonderfully tart cheese. Double maaa.  It makes for a subtle, but delicious change of the usual butter or mayonnaise dressed cucumber sandwiches. All you need is some lovely Earl Grey Tea (or gin… hey, no judgment here), and you are on your way!

Nibble on these while you giggle at Maggie Smith in her Dowager Countess perfection.

What is a weekend? Girl.. I’ve been wondering the same thing since my son has been born.

 

 

 

Goat's Cheese Lemon Cucumber Sandwiches - Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Goat’s Cheese & Lemon Cucumber Sandwiches
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 English Cucumber, extra thinly sliced
1/4 of a lemon
1 TBS sea salt
1 TBS lemon pepper
1 TBS celery salt
1/2 cup creamy goat’s cheese
1 TBS fresh parsley and dill, chopped, optional
1 loaf of white bread

Directions:

  1. On a plate or cutting board, line up all of the thinly sliced cucumber. Liberally squeeze lemon juice over the cucumbers. Then sprinkle salt, lemon pepper, and celery salt over the cucumbers. Let them sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Spread approximately 2 teaspoons worth of goat’s cheese on each slice of bread. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs and layer half of the cheesed bread with cucumbers. I fit in between 6 and 8 cucumbers on the slice.
  3. Place the slice of bread without cucumber on top of the lovely layered cucumbered bread.
  4. With a serrated knife, remove the crusts of the bread. Cut the sandwich in half. Then cut each half into a triangle.
  5. Serve and enjoy!