Mac & Cheese Links To Try

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Lately, I’ve found myself craving macaroni and cheese. Like so many others, I grew up with the blue box Kraft mac and cheese. It’s still nice on occasion, but I now feel like there must be a good homemade alternative. Do you know how many different variations there are for mac and cheese? I don’t know how to decide which one is best other than to try them all! Here are some of the recipes on my list.

Of course, I should start with the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. Ree has yet to steer me wrong on recipes so this seems like a good place to start. Plus, it seems pretty basic.

The Lovely Little Kitchen shared her version of Mac and Cheese that is created with a combination of colby and sharp cheddar cheese. I made this one already when my friend, Allison, came over for a visit. I didn’t top it with bread crumbs but it was still good.

Mandi’s recipe at Life…Your Way is unique because it calls for the addition of cream cheese. I want to try her Creamy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese because cream cheese in anything is delicious!

Shugary Sweets shared a Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese recipe that sounds delicious. It has cream and white cheddar, which sets it apart from the other recipes. I actually have never tried the Mac and Cheese at Panera but this recipe intrigues me.

I have tried Beecher’s famous Mac and Cheese in Seattle and Martha Steward shares the actual recipe with the World’s Best Mac and Cheese. This recipe does require a separate step of making a cheese sauce, but if it tastes as good as the mac and cheese we ate in Seattle, it will be worth it!

Savory Reviews shared a recipe that is supposed to be similar to the Noodles and Company Wisconsin Mac and Cheese. Again, I’ve never tried it but I like the idea of a cheese sauce with noodles and more cheese piled on it.

Have you tried any of these mac and cheese recipes? Or do you have another one I should try? Any secrets for making a good homemade mac and cheese?  I’m determined to do it! I’ve printed off all the recipes so now I just need to start trying them. I’ll let you know which recipe wins, once I’ve tried them all, that is!

Interesting Links I Love

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I realized it’s been awhile since I shared some of the interesting links I’ve saved in my Feedly reader. It’s eclectic mix with the common thread that all are links that I found interesting.

Andrea is a mom with a toddler and new baby. I appreciated her motivation that Organized Days start with Organized Nights. I believe this has long been my Mom’s philosophy and one that I am now embracing, too.

Ruth shared her recipe for Basic Freezer Bread. I normally bake my bread before freezing it but I love the idea of freezing the dough so I can have hot, fresh bread whenever I want it.

Another Kristen hit the nail on the head when she wrote Because $90,000 Isn’t Enough. Clearly. It’s concerning that a family can really think that, although many of us have probably thought something similar at some point in time.

Jen had a creative idea for making party decorations with Marshmallow, Cupcake and Coffee Filter Garland. It sounds odd but when you see her pictures, it works!

Tim Elmore shared Five Lessons We Can Learn from the Greatest Generation. These are all excellent points – especially prudent savings and faithful commitment.

I’ll leave you with those links for now…until next week, when I have others to share!

Peanut Butter Links I Love

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Ah, peanut butter. Is there anything more ideal than the combination of chocolate and peanut butter? I’ve always liked peanut butter – but when paired with chocolate, I really like peanut butter! Buckeyes are proof that peanut butter and chocolate are meant to be together. Recently, I’ve discovered quite a few more peanut butter (and chocolate) recipes that I want to try. I don’t know if they’ll be as good as buckeyes (or buckeye cake) but I’d like to give them a try.

This was the recipe that started my thinking of these delicious pairings. Cathy of Lemon Tree Dwelling shared her recipe for Cookie Dough-Stuffed Peanut Butter Fudge. Yum! I love cookie dough and I love peanut butter fudge. What an novel pairing for this decadent dessert!

Lindsay of Life, Love and Sugar shared her recipe for Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie Layer Cake. I’m not really a cake fan, but since the cake is more like a brownie, I could – and would – make an exception.

The Food Fanatic shared a simpler recipe for Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies. It’s simpler than the recipe above, but still looks quite tasty. I like the idea of a frosting on my brownie, too.

The Sweet and Crunchy Blog shared a recipe for Layered Peanut Butter Brittle Ice Cream Pops. No special molds required as they are made in simple paper cups. These look delicious for summer!

Crunchy Creamy Sweet shared a recipe for Skinny Peanut Butter Cup Dip. It’s only 4 ingredients – and uses Greek yogurt to lighten it up. Hmm. Next time I buy Greek yogurt, I’m going to give this dip a try.

Finally, Sally of Sally’s Baking Addiction shared her recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Lover’s Granola. There are only 7 ingredients needed for this recipe, too. If you haven’t visited Sally’s blog before, do! It’s the most delicious baking blog ever.

If you don’t like peanut butter, my apologies! For those of you who share my love of peanut butter, which recipe would you like to try first?

Baking Links I Love

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I am slowly getting back into my baking mood. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve wanted to bake, but I haven’t had spare hands and time enough to bake lately. Even so, I’ve been adding to my list of recipes I want to bake.

First, let me share two recipes that my Mom baked while she was here. It was nice to try new recipes with her. She made these Oatmeal Craisin Breakfast Bars that were quite yummy. We used regular chocolate chips instead of white. I liked them a lot, but Mom liked them even more – baking three pans in two days! At my request, Mom also baked these Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies. Absolutely delicious! The brownies were good but it was the peanut butter fudge that made them special. I will be baking both of these recipes again. Give them a try!

Chocolate recipes are my favorite type of recipes. I discovered this recipe by Not Enough Cinnamon for Easy Homemade Mounds Bars. These only have 3 ingredients and look delicious. We’ll see if they really taste like the candy bar.

Living Well, Spending Less shared a recipe for Basic Freezer Bread. You mix the dough ahead of time and freeze them in loaf pans so when you want fresh bread, you just thaw and bake. Lots of people by Rhodes frozen bread so why not make my own? Why have I never thought to try this? I will be now!

Chef in Training shared a recipe for Cheesy Appetizer Crackers. This recipe only has four ingredients and looks like a tasty snack. Cheese is something I always have in my fridge (or freezer) so maybe I’ll make this some afternoon this next week.

Raining Hot Coupons shared an idea to make a Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich. It’s a unique idea and oddly intriguing. I’m curious to give this a try and see if this combination works.

So, there you have it. Those are some of the recipes I want to bake soon. Nothing too fancy or complicated but all seem worth a try. What are you favorite type of recipes to bake?

Another Round of Encouragement

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We’re still waiting for our baby to make his appearance – even after a busy, busy week at school. I’ve been on my feet teaching, conducting, serving soup – and still the baby sits cozily. At least now, Andy and I are both on Spring Break now. It is nice to know we will both be home all week together with the baby – when he arrives! God provided some dear friends who encouraged me with the exact words I needed to hear this week. I am so thankful for Allison and Erin (and so many others). 

I am always amazed at how God uses (in)courage to provide me with exactly what I need to hear. Here is the latest round of encouragement that spoke to my heart.

Kristen wrote How God Feels About You. This reminds me of Max Lucado and it is a reminder we all need to hear again and again. God loves us so very much!

Annie wrote about the beauty of Saturday Morning. My Saturdays have changed since the baby and this is a great reminder to soak up the moments – no matter what or where they are!

Rachel shared her perspective on Broken Things. I found the idea of showing our cracks particularly intriguing. Scary, sometimes, but there is beauty to be found in brokenness!

I appreciated Ann’s perspective on 7 Things You Need When You’re Overwhelmed and Can’t Keep Up. We all have those days (or weeks). Ann’s reminders of God’s graciousness are indeed a comfort.

Stephanie wrote about How to BE Patient. We often forget about the goodness of gifts God has given to us and our patience suffers as a result. Don’t you think so?

Robin shared honestly with When You Aren’t Like Her but You Wish You Were. Comparisons don’t tell the whole story but it’s a trap we often fall into. Yet, God made us all with unique talents for a reason! Read this and take it to heart.

Finally, Dawn wrote about When Sharing Your Home is an Act of Reckless Optimism. I love how she says, “The mess is part of my story.” Isn’t that true for all of us – and our homes? Let’s be optimistic!

Various Links I Love

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The links I chose to share each week really are just because links. Some are recipes and some are ideas, while others share a project or a motivational article. I enjoy picking out these things to share with you – and I hope you enjoy them, too!

While there is still a chill in the air, I want to try Andrea Dekker’s recipe for their new family favorite cheese broccoli soup. The recipe is simple and looks delicious. I like recipes like this.

Crystal Paine (of Money Saving Mom) recently published a new book that I want to read - Say Goodbye to Survival Mood. On her blog she answered the question, How do you wake up excited about each day? There are some good pointers here for us all!

Get Rich Slowly had an interesting article about what to do with too much emergency fund? Spend it. I know it seems like a rare problem (and one many of us wish for) but there are some good take-aways for all of us – whatever the size of our emergency fund.

Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam wrote an article on 7 highly effective ways to raise lazy and entitled children. It’s sarcastic but true. I especially like the point to pass blame to others. Not a good idea!

Another Jen, at Thrifty and Thriving, shared her recipe for orange-cranberry biscuits. I love all these things separately so this recipes seems to be ideal for me. I am eager to try this one!

Shelly at Frugal Family Home shared some excellent tips of how to save money by planting a garden. It’s that time of year when we can start thinking about gardens. We didn’t plant a garden last year and while I didn’t miss the weeding, I did miss the fresh produce and the salsa I canned from our garden.

That’s what I have to share for now. Did you read anything of note this week?

Links I Love: Best of Tim Elmore

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In the Fall of 2013, I was privileged to hear Tim Elmore speak at the National Lea Educators Association Conference. When they were introducing him, I was not sure how this would apply to my preschoolers or my life. Within 2 minutes of Tim taking the stage, I knew this was exactly what I needed to hear. He was speaking about the current iY generation and nailed it on the head. Since then, I’ve been reading his blog (Growing Leaders) and am always impressed, challenged and motivated by what Tim has to share. Here are some of my favorites of his from the last months.

Start by reading Tim’s article on Six Steps to Take to Prepare for the Coming Culture Shift. It compares the past 3 generations and gives us practical tips on what we can do to bring out the best in coming generations.

Next, read his perspective on When Preventing Hinders Preparing. Parents and teachers need to be well aware of what disservice we do for our children when we shield them in a bubble. Once again, Tim hit the target with this one.

This article shared Six Steps Great Coaches Take to Help Athletes Reach Potential. It’s a fantastic article for all coaches, but has valuable points for teachers and parents as well.

It’s sad but true as Tim explains in How Adults are Stealing Ambition from Kids. I don’t think many adults are aware of what we are doing, but it is a disservice to an entire generation when we act like this.

Tim shared A Profound Reminder from Miley Cyrus. Her behavior has been appalling (to say the least) over the past months and year, and this article was the best one I’ve seen on the power of an example.

I thought this was an interesting question – Why Do Adults Struggle to Lead Teens Well?  His observations point to the fact that we need to give teens what they need, not what they always want!

Finally, I’ll leave you with my absolute favorite so far. Tim’s article on What Today’s Parenting Shift Means for Educators and Employers. He explains the difference in children when we focus on today verse tomorrow. Let’s all be wise and prepare our children for tomorrow!

Thoughts? Reactions? If you want to learn more, read his blog or check out his books. I have several of Tim’s books on my reading listing, especially Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future and Artificial Maturity: Helping Children Meet the Challenge of Becoming Authentic Adults.

Similar Yet Different Links

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I’ve been adding new recipes to my “want to bake” list. As I did, I noticed that many of the recipes I liked had similar variations on the original recipe. Here are some of the recipes – with their variations – that I want to try.

Mother Thyme shared a recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I liked her promise that it’s an easy but delicious cinnamon roll recipe. She also has a similar recipe for Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting. Yum!

Sally’s Baking Addiction has a recipe for Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Muffins. Sally promises that you can use this basic recipe with a wide variety of add-ins like blueberries or nuts. I also like her variation of Sky High Apple Pie Muffins.

Not Your Momma’s Cookie has several recipes for ice cream where no machine is required. I love this idea of making homemade ice cream without an extra gadget. There’s a recipe for Snickerdoodle Ice Cream as well as Monster Cookie Dough Ice Cream. Both use a similar base but have different add-ins. Both look delicious!

Big Red Kitchen created a recipe for Pancake Squares in a Pan. It does look like an intriguing concept! I liked her variation for Baked Cinnamon Roll Pancakes in a Pan even more.

A Farmgirl Dabbles shared two recipes that are similar based on the variations of buttercream icing. You could try her Cream Wafer Sandwiches with Strawberry Buttercream Icing or her Fudgy Brownie Hearts with Raspberry Buttercream Icing. Or, you could substitute one icing for the other, since I’m more of a raspberry girl myself.

Akshayapaatram shared one recipe with several variations included. She shared how to make Homemade Extracts – Vanilla, Orange or Lemon. I think you could do this with even more flavors if you get creative!

The Pioneer Woman (Ree) has a delicious recipe for Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve made these multiple times and they are my new go-to cinnamon roll recipe. Now, I need to try some of her variations that include Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls as well as Blueberry Lemon Sweet Rolls.

All of these recipes reminded me that a good recipe can be tweaked for delicious variations. I’m looking forward to trying some of these recipes – and their variations – soon!

Tried and True Links to Share

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I share a lot of links here on Joyfully Thriving. I share them because they look interesting and / or tasty. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to follow through and bake / create / try the links that I share.  Today, I’m going to share some links that I have already shared but I have now tried and deem worth sharing again.

During our cold winter, I made a lot of homemade chocolate syrup for our hot chocolate. When the weather warms, I’ll continue making this because it’s a good way to make chocolate milk – without any artificial ingredients!

I recently discovered some blueberries in the freezer. I tried making blueberry biscuits as shared by Pink Pistachio. These were easy to make and truly delicious. Andy and I both enjoyed these for our breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, the Pioneer Woman’s sour cream pancakes is my new pancake recipe of choice. These are thinner than your typical pancake and have a slightly different taste (due to the sour cream) but they are quick to make and very tasty.

I’ve made Paula Deen’s crockpot potato soup several times. It’s wonderful when you need a quick soup that can simmer in the slow cooker all morning. The soup starts with a bag of hashed browns and I’ve used the o’brien potatoes instead for a bit more flavor. Both versions result in a nice creamy soup.  Top your soup with cheese and bacon for extra deliciousness!

Janet shared a recipe for couscous salad that has become my favorite. This salad is easy to customize with whatever vegetables you find fresh in spring and summer. Soaking the cucumbers in vinegar first is key and the feta adds a good flavor, too!

Most of the links I’ve tried are recipes, but I have made several wreaths that I liked and pinned. I made a crayon wreath for my door at school and a 4th of July wreath with yarn and buttons like this one. My favorite wreath that I’ve made is still this grapevine yellow wreath.

I know I’ve tried other links that I’ve shared, but these are some of my favorites so far. Have you tried any of my shared links that you’ve enjoyed?

Thoughtful Links I Love

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I have quite a few thoughtful links to share with you this week. Sometimes, I need to be challenged with encouragement in my life and these articles all did so – in some way. I hope they provide you with some food for thought as well.

The Nester wrote a great article about the Almost Extinction of the Drop-In. This made me think a lot about hospitality and it apparently did the same for others, because the Nester followed it up with Why Do We Really Dread the Drop-In? For my part, I’m trying to keep my kitchen tider so I feel comfortable spontaneously inviting friends over.

Holley said Let’s Have a Talk about Emotional Modesty. I appreciated her reminder to stay most committed to marriage without crossing barriers. It was well-written and encouraging (without being condemning).

Tsh wrote about what happens When You Don’t Want to Give Thanks. I know we all have days (or weeks) like this. Tsh provided a powerful reminder that we can choose to give thanks, because sometimes, thankfulness takes deliberate choosing.

Jody shared about Leftovers and how we often feel insignificant with what we bring to the table. When you use the table as a metaphor for life, there is a lot to ponder about this concept.

Mary wrote about Life as a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. I loved reading these books when I was younger because I could easily go back to change the story if I didn’t like the ending. In real life, God uses all those daily adventures and is leading us where we don’t always see. Life is an adventure!

Finally, Lisa reminded me Don’t Kick the Anthill! Growing up in South Texas with the pain of fire ants, this is a concept that I clearly understand. It’s also why I’m skittish of ants to this day! Go read to see why we shouldn’t kick the anthill.

Which one of these ladies made you think the most? What did you need to hear today?

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