Sunday, May 15, 2022

How to Clean and Shine Stainless Steel Cookware

  1. Put enough water in your stainless steel pan or pot to cover the bottom.
  2. Bring the water to boil.
  3. Allow the water to boil until you see food lifting off the bottom of the pan. If you have put just a shallow amount of water in the pan, it shouldn’t boil over the sides of the pan. Let the water boil for several minutes, but do not let it boil to the point that the water evaporates. If the water evaporates, it will take you back to square one of food being stuck on.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool.
  5. Pour the water and released food out of the cooled pan into the garbage disposal or trash.
  6. Use dish soap and a cloth or sponge to wash the pan. A small pan scraper is handy in helping to remove food.
  7. If you still have food stuck, sprinkle Bar Keeper’s Friend into the pan. Use a wet sponge or cloth to move the Bar Keeper’s Friend around the pan, lightly scrubbing. This will remove the rest of the food and shine your cookware. You can also use Bar Keeper’s Friend on the outside of the pan to bring shine back and make it look like new.
  8. Give your cookware a final rinse and then dry.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Recipe: One Pan Bacon Cheddar Tots

Bacon Cheddar Tots cooked on just one pan in the oven— yes, please!
My family applauded this dish! It’s so easy to make but is such a delicious treat. Make it for your Memorial Day gathering, family movie night, or take it to an outdoor party.

Serve this as an indulgent meal or a side dish at a party! It's quick and easy, and you will only have to clean one pan!


  • One package of bacon (around 16 oz.)
  • One package of tater tots (around 30 oz.)
  • 1 to 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream, Ranch Dressing, Hot Sauce, or Buffalo Sauce for dipping
  • Green Onion or Parsley for serving
  • Salt and seasonings to taste

  1. Put the bacon on an oven safe pan. You can use a nonstick pan or put foil on a baking sheet or in a glass baking dish.
  2. Use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon into smaller pieces to keep it from curling as it cooks.
  3. Cook the bacon in the oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes or until your bacon is almost as crispy as you like. It will go back into the oven to crisp up more later.
  4. When the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and let it drain on a paper towel.
  5. Place the tater tots on the pan. They will cook in the bacon grease, but you can drain any excess grease.
  6. Bake the tots according to their package's directions.
  7. Once the tots have baked, remove them from the oven. Top them with shredded cheddar cheese. Use anywhere from 1 to 2 cups of cheese depending on how cheesy you want the tots.
  8. Then place the cooked bacon on top of the tots. You can tear the bacon into smaller pieces to make sure there's some in each bite.
  9. Stick the bacon cheddar tots back into the oven until the cheese has melted and the bacon has crisped a bit more. You can broil them, but be sure to stand by and watch so the food doesn't burn.
  10. Remove the tots from the oven and top with chopped green onion, dried chives, or parsley. Salt and season to taste.
  11. Serve with sour cream, ranch, hot sauce, or even buffalo sauce!

Order these ingredients and more from EasyBins. Get free delivery and $15 off your order with code MARLA15 at checkout.
It’s an easy dish, but the recipe link will let you in on all the details. And it will have the ingredients ready to add to your cart!

Recipe link: Bacon Cheddar Tots

Video of me making the tots: Instagram Reel

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Recipe: Garlic Dill Chicken Salad

It’s my goal in life to share as many chicken salad combinations as possible. πŸ˜‹

This “recipe” doesn’t have exact measurements. You’ll need to listen to your heart. Or add the ingredients, take a bite, and see if you need more of each ingredient. You’ll see what I mean…

πŸ§„Garlic Dill Chicken Salad πŸ‡ 

I usually boil chicken, but I also use leftover grilled, smoked, whatever chicken. You can use white or dark meat.
Add mayo a little at a time, making sure to coat each piece of chicken. I don’t like dry salad, so I sometimes add a bit more than I think is needed. The chicken will soak up some of the mayo as it sits.
•Dried Dill
This is where you have to start listening to your heart, er, tastebuds. I LOVE dill, so I go crazy with how much I use.
•Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley
The amount of this will also depend on your personal preference. I add quite a bit. I usually add the dill and garlic, stir it all about, take a taste, and decide if it needs more. If you’re watching your salt intake, you could salt to taste and then add garlic powder and dried parsley.
I have made this a few times without grapes when we didn’t have any in the house. It’s still good, but it is not the same. You must have grapes! The sweet balances out the savory. I used black grapes this time but have also used red and purple grapes. I quarter each grape and add enough to have a sliver of grape in each bite.

I have been making this version of chicken salad for several months now, and I think it’s my family’s favorite. I hope your family enjoys it too!

Monday, January 31, 2022

90s Pop Culture Valentine Sketches

Who else was obsessed with the 1996 Romeo + Juliet movie? I was 11 when it came out but didn’t see it until I was around 12 and it was on VHS. My friends and I would watch the movie over and over at sleepovers. I had a small poster of Leo in my room and wanted to be Claire Danes. I picked the name Claire for my name in seventh grade French class. I picked a lyric from the song I’m Kissing You from the movie for this drawing. Shop the design

Who else collected those small posters from teen magazines in the 90s? I would spend my time looking at Tiger Beat while my mom shopped for groceries at Brookshire’s and Piggly Wiggly. What celeb posters did you have hanging up in your room? I can remember my friends and I talking about JTT at recess and arguing over who had the biggest crush on him. One of my friends had more posters of him than anyone else, so she was the clear winner. Shop the design

When I was in the first grade, I had a New Kids on the Block poster hanging in my bedroom. I still have their cassette tape stashed away somewhere! Who was your NKOTB crush? Mine was definitely Joey. What was your favorite NKOTB song? Hanging Tough? Step by Step? You Got It? It’s time to brush off my early-90s dance moves.

When I was a kid in the early and mid-90s, I wanted to grow up to be Amy Grant. I wanted a perm so I could have her curly hair (thank goodness my mom always said no). I danced to her pop songs at home and sang her Christian songs at church. I had all her cassette tapes and CDs. I was her biggest fan. Well, here I am grown-up and I still have stick straight hair and never made it to the pop charts. Shop the design

We can’t be judged for childhood crushes, OKAY! When I was five, my parents took us to see Days of Thunder in the theater for my brother’s birthday. We rarely went to the movies growing up, so this is a vivid memory for me. It was that day that I fell for Tom Cruise. Sadly, scientology has crushed my crush for Tom, or I’d probably still be a fan. This drawing is from Risky Business, which came out two years before I was born, but it’s one of the most iconic shots of him. What’s your favorite Tom Cruise movie? Colin and I will definitely be going to see the new Top Gun when it’s finally released. Shop the design

Bonus: This is a 1970s Pop Culture reference that I drew for my cousin Amy. Her childhood crush was Donny Osmond! Shop the design

Inside Out Ding Dong Cake

I worked at a Hostess discount bakery for a few months in high school. Whenever the food was about to expire, we pulled it from the shelves and threw it into grocery carts. Farmers would come buy the food (usually just the bread) for their animals. You could buy a grocery cart amount of almost-expired food for just $10. One night I bought a cart amount of food and loaded it into the trunk of my car. I drove a
1977 Triumph Spitfire, and the trunk was smaller than the cart. I didn't anticipate that when I bought the food, but I made it work. I drove home and surprised my family with a trunk full of Hostess treats. Sadly, I don't remember snagging any Ding Dongs since those were popular sellers. I think we did have a lot of the orange cupcakes, though. Also, I'm pretty sure these processed desserts didn't expire as quickly as their date stated!

If you've never had a Ding Dong, they are a round chocolate cake, covered in a chocolate frosting shell, filled with cream. This cake is what would happen if you turned a Ding Dong inside out-- chocolate in the middle, cream on the outside.

Inside Out Ding Dong Cake

There are three parts to this cake: the chocolate cake, the chocolate frosting for the filling/inside, the white frosting for the outside.

Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour (I used gluten-free one-for-one flour)
  • 3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9 inch round pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in boiling water.  Pour batter into pans.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes then remove from the pans to cool on wire racks.  Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Frosting for the Outside of the Cake:

Milk Chocolate Frosting for the Filling:

  • 1/3 cup of dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  1. Using a hand mixer, combine the cocoa powder and softened butter.
  2. Alternate adding the powdered sugar and milk.
When the cake has cooled, frost one of the cake tops with the chocolate frosting, then set the other cake on top. Frost the entire outside of the cake with the cream frosting.

I poured some of the batter into two ramekins for my girls to have mini cakes!

When I planned this cake, I had the intention of it tasting like an inside out Ding Dong, and it did not disappoint! I made mine with gluten free flour and plant based butter in case you want to attempt the same. It was hard for the four of us not to eat it in one sitting!

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

What I Read in 2021 + Not Meeting My Goal

At the end of 2020, I set a goal to read 24 books in 2021. I thought it was doable to read two books a month. I had read much more in past years and thought that would be an attainable goal. I forgot what it was like when babies start crawling and stop napping all day. I quickly realized my goal of 24 books would not be met. And I was good with that. I didn't have the time or the mental space to push myself. I read for a few minutes each day in the car line while I waited for my first grader and shushed a fussy baby who didn't want to sit in the car. When I wasn't too tired, I'd read a few minutes before bed. Those minutes slowly added up to completing a few books.

I also didn't go easy on the type of books I read. They needed concentration and sometimes had paragraphs that needed to be reread and contemplated to understand.

Before I list what I read, here's how I'm thinking I'll approach 2022-- no goal. As someone who loves goals and lists, I just don't have the motivation this year to put pressure on myself to reach a certain number. I just want to read when I can and read what I want. I have a stack of theological books to go through, but we'll see what I get to this year. I'm wanting to also add in some books that give me some mental breaks, make me laugh, and help me imagine.

I use Goodreads to track my reading, so come say hi if you use the app!

Here is what I read in 2021:

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