Freezing Your Extra Vegetables (Plus, How I Get My Green Beans Freezer Ready)

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables

Do you have a garden that is producing more vegetables than you can use at the moment? If you extra space in your freezer start freezing the vegetables. I pinned a site that offers hands on pictures and instructions. It also has instructions for freezing fruits and also for canning fruits and vegetables too. Take some time to check it out!

My mom, Lena, has a big garden and always has extra vegetables. Today she gave me an entire ice cream bucket full of green beans. I decided to freeze them. It had been awhile since I had frozen green beans so I looked on the site linked above to see how long to blanch them.

First start out by washing the beans. Next snap off the ends. Get the kids involved! They don’t need a knife to do this job. Once the ends are snapped, cut the beans into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces.

Now you are ready to blanch them. Fill a big pot (or use a blancher if you have one) just a little over halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Once the water is boiling pour in your green beans. Bring them to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Remove from the water and cool.

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables

My husband bought me a vacuum sealer for my birthday so that’s what I used to pack them. (They’re on sale right now on Amazon – it’s a great deal.) If you don’t have a vacuum sealer get some freezer bags and put in the amount of beans your family usually eats. Put in the freezer in a single layer. Once they are frozen they can be stacked on top of each other.

It’s great to go to the freezer and get out vegetables that you froze yourself. And you saved a trip to the store and some money too!

Who else here freezes their veggies? What are your best tips and tricks?

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

From the end of April until the beginning of October, our grill doesn’t get much rest. We love cookouts with friends or even just grilling up some dinner for the two of us. And one of my favorite dishes is grilled chicken. I really love chicken in general, actually. (Try this OMG Sour Cream Chicken recipe if it’s too rainy or cold for grilling wherever you live.)

I’m always on the hunt for new chicken marinades that are perfect for grilling, and I think I have a new favorite! I mean, look at those awesome grill marks and the beautiful color. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it. I love when chicken gets crisp and charred on the grill. YUM!

Now, if you are a total wuss about heat, don’t worry. I toned things down a little from the recipe I originally pinned (hat top to Handle the Heat). It wasn’t spicy at all when finished. The Sriracha just added another layer of bold flavor. If you are a heat fiend, double the amount of Sriracha in the recipe or even add a few dashes of hot sauce.

Honey Lime Chicken

No grill? My soul is crying for you! But if it’s not in the budget or you don’t have the space, you could also make this recipe by searing the chicken in a pan and baking to finish in an oven. It’s much better grilled, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

This perfect grilled chicken combines the bold flavors of honey and lime, with just a tough of heat.


  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 chicken breasts


  1. Mix together all ingredients for marinade in gallon-sized bag.
  2. Add chicken, seal, and toss to coat. Store in refrigerator for at least one hour (can prepare the night before).
  3. Grill chicken over medium heat until 165°F internally, about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on size of breasts.

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

Blueberry lemon pound cake

Do you like lemon flavored desserts with lots of lemon flavor? Sometimes when I bake lemon desserts the lemon flavor isn’t as strong as I think I should be. And if it gets a lemon glaze, the lemon flavor’s a little too tart. I like to have a balanced flavor.

With blueberries getting ripe here in Pennsylvania, I started looking for some new recipes to use the blueberries. I make the Raspberry Coffeecake Muffins using blueberries which is my favorite muffin recipe and the Blueberry Snack Cake. I pinned a version of the blueberry pound cake from I read through the recipe and it sounded like a flavorful and moist pound cake.

7 Summer Side Dishes for Your Next Picnic

7 Summer Side Dishes for Your Next Picnic

It’s that wonderful, lazy point of summer that I love. Time slips away sitting with my toes in the sand, and it seems like one of our friends invites us to a cook out every other day. I can’t get enough picnic food even on rainy days spent indoors, and I live for my next watermelon slush.

But what to take to all of those picnics? Showing up empty-handed is not an option! Today, I’ve collected our seven favorite summer side dishes, all of which are awesome to carry with you to any potluck, barbeque, or party you’re invited to attend over the next few months:

Combined Ingredients for Calico Beans

First up, Calico Beans. This dish is super colorful, but more importantly – it’s tasty! Every picnic needs baked beans, and this is a great spin on that traditional dish. Plus, bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon?

Allison's Lick Your Plate Potato SaladOne of the first recipes I posted here on The PinterTest Kitchen was my Lick-Your-Plate Potato Salad. To this day, this is one of my favorite summertime recipes. It’s easy to customize with flavors you like (I’ve put everything in it from carrots to bacon). The secret ingredient is sour cream, which gives the sauce a tangy, mouth-watering taste. You’re going to want to make and extra-large batch!

Chopped Strawberry Spinach Salad Ingredients In Bowl

Summertime has to include strawberries, right? Now, personally, I can’t stand strawberries, but I think I’m in the minority on that one. My boyfriend says that I must not like sunshine and happiness, because that’s what strawberries are! This Strawberry Spinach Salad has crunch onions and walnuts, as well as a perfect dressing. It’s refreshing and easy to make for your next picnic.

microwave potato chipsMicrowave Potato Chips are fun to make with the kids. They do take a little time, but the process is easy. The hardest part is not eating them all as you make them so you have enough to take along to the picnic!

cole slaw recipe

I just posted this Sweet Summer Slaw recipe earlier this month, and it is still making my mouth water. This is perfect as a stand-alone side dish or on top of hot dog, taco, or pork pork sandwich.

copycat chili's honey mustard dressing

If you’re short on time, nothing is easy to take to a potluck than a salad. But a traditional salad, no matter what you add to the lettuce, is a little boring without an awesome dressing. This is that awesome dressing you need to wow everyone  – Honey Mustard Dressing that’s a copycat of the dressing you can get from Chili’s.

spinach artichoke dip

Last but certainly not least: Spinach Artichoke Dip. It’s pretty. It’s easy to make, even the night before, and it’s a crowd-pleaser. What’s not to love?

So there you have it, seven awesome side dish recipes for your next summer cook out. Do you have a favorite recipe that you love for picnics? Share with a comment below!

White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies

I am always looking for a new cookie recipe to make. And the easier the better! Because as you know, we don’t have a lot of time these days to cook and bake.

White Chocolate and Peanut-Butter Pudding Cookies

I have tested out quite a few of the pudding cookie recipes; white chocolate puddding snickerdoodles, peanut butter pudding cookies, and chocolate chip just to mention a few. I pinned a version of this pudding cookie at This is easiest recipe so far because it starts out with a devils food cake mix.

Of course when I went to my pantry all I had was a milk chocolate cake mix. It will work, no big deal.

White Chocolate and Peanut-Butter Pudding Cookies

And it did! The cookie tasted great. The original recipe said to bake 6-7 minutes but that wasn’t quite long enough. Every oven is different. For me it took about 9-10 minutes. Just check your first cookie sheet you put in the oven.

Yum! Yum! Easy and delicious!

White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24 cookies

White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies

These cookies combine white chocolate, milk chocolate, and peanut butter for a delicious treat.


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 devils food cake mix
  • 1 regular size box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 bag peanut butter chips
  • 1/3 bag white chocolate chips


  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients (cake mix and pudding mix).
  2. Add the softened stick of butter and the 2 eggs. Mix well.
  3. Add the peanut butter and white chocolate chips to the mixture.
  4. Roll into 1" balls.
  5. Place onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2" apart.
  6. Bake about 9-10 minutes. Do not over bake or they will get hard.
  7. Remove from the oven and let set on cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

What’s for Dinner: July 2014 Meal Plan

What's for Dinner July 2014

One of the most groan-inducing questions my boyfriend asks me is this:

What are we having for dinner tonight?

Seriously, sometimes he asks me before we’ve even had lunch! Now, I love being in the kitchen, so the thought of having to cook dinner doesn’t trouble me. But coming up with ideas for meals that are tasty and exciting? Well, as much as I like Pinterest for recipes ideas, sometimes I just want to make a grilled cheese and call it a day.

Sweet Summer Slaw: My Favorite Cole Slaw Recipe

Sweet Summer Slaw

I have a confession: up until a few summers ago, I didn’t like cole slaw. In fact, I hated cole slaw. I blame this complete lack of good taste on the fact that all I’d ever hate was the generic, vinegar-y, soupy mess that most people call cole slaw.  You know, the type you can buy at the grocery deli counter or in five-pound tubs, for those of you who want to go on a mayonnaise binge.

I still hate that kind of cole slaw.

But I’ve learned that good cole slaw is possible. Oh yes, my friends. It can be tangy and sweet and crunchy and perfect. It can go on your hot dogs and tacos. It can be eaten in sneaky forkfuls out of the fridge while you’re waiting for it to chill.

Today, I’m going to share that recipe. It’s super simple to make, so you should seriously slap anyone who resorts to the supermarket gloop pretending to be cole slaw.

cole slaw recipe

Mmmm…doesn’t that just sing “summer”? Someone get me a fork. Hat tip to Cook and Craft Me Crazy, where I found the recipe that I modified for my version of cole slaw! Oh, and if cole slaw isn’t your thing, check out my Lick-Your-Plate Potato Salad Recipe for your next summer picnic instead!

Sweet Summer Slaw

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Sweet Summer Slaw

Perfect, sweet cole slaw that goes great with any summer BBQ dish as a side or can top tacos, hot dogs, pulled pork, etc.


  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except cabbage and carrots.
  2. Shred cabbage into a large bowl, and toss with carrots to distribute evenly.
  3. Pour mayonnaise mixture over top and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Refrigerate at least 3 hours (preferably overnight).
  5. Stir before serving.


Spice things up by adding purple cabbage to the mix!

Eat Your Way Through West Ocean View: My Three Favorite Spots

Over the past few months, my future has been a bit up in the air. My boyfriend recently finished his four years in the Navy. He has been job-hunting both locally and in locations along the East Coast, and I was on edge knowing that we might be moving at the drop of a hat. But we just found out that he got the job he wanted most right here in Norfolk, Virginia…so we’re staying!

I have to say, I’m relieved. I’m always up for traveling to new and interesting locations, but I have grown to love living in the Hampton Roads area. My favorite neighborhood, hands down, is Ocean View – which is why we live here. Beach? Check. Fun stuff to do? Check. Awesome restaurants? Check, check, check!

I know we usually stick to posting recipes, but today, I wanted to write a little love letter to West Ocean View, which I’m happy to call home. Specifically, I want to tell you about all of the awesome places to eat in this neighborhood. The more touristy areas of Virginia Beach might bring you to this area, but I hope that if you’re planning a trip to coastal Virginia, you’ll stop by West Ocean View for a bite to eat! Here are my three favorite spots:

mojo bones

1.  Mojo Bones

This cool little dive bar and restaurant is one of the first places I ever ate in Norfolk, and it remains one of my favorite. They have truly awesome BBQ platters, along with a large selection of local brews, and some fun cocktails they’ve concocted. Try the pulled pork and cornbread; you won’t be disappointed. If you’ve been to the ODU Mojo Bones, you’ve probably experienced more of a college-catering, club atmosphere. Not so at the Ocean View joint! Here, they have live blues and indie rock music every weekend, and an open mic night for those of you who like to perform. Plus, no cover! It’s reasonably priced and delicious with great entertainment. What’s not to love?

A Taste of Summer: Apricot Peach Pie

Apricot Peach Pie

If you blink, you’ll miss apricot season. Which is a gosh darn shame because I just hear the word apricots and my mouth starts watering. Ooooh, do it again. Apricot, apricot, apricot!

My favorite apricot recipe to date is Apricot Peach Pie. The tart, apricot flavor is to die for and makes the entire house smell like a dream. I literally cannot walk by fresh apricots at the farmer’s market or grocery store without picking up a few to make this pie. Plus, the peaches add that perfect juicy sweetness that makes this pie just too much. When it comes out of the oven, I. Can’t. Even.

apricot pie right out of oven

I always hoard a few pieces because not only is this pie delicious when still slightly warm from the oven (with some vanilla ice cream? YES PLEASE), but it is amazing as breakfast the next morning. Fruit is a breakfast food, right? Just call it fruit tart instead of pie. It’s fine. I’ll look the other way.

It had never crossed my mind to make apricots into pie until I read this post on Not Without Salt, which is beautiful and inspired my recipe. Below is my version with the addition of peaches and my grandma’s pie crust recipe which is, in my humble opinion, the best in the world. It makes enough for three crusts (if you like pie without a top crust) or two pies (one with a top crust and one without). The good news – you can freeze the raw dough if you only plan to make one pie.

Apricot Pie

But let’s face it, one pie isn’t going to be enough. Better make a double batch.

Apricot Peach Pie

Yield: 8 slices (1 pie)

Apricot Peach Pie

This pie combines the sweetness of peaches and the tart tang of apricots for a perfect dessert.


  • 2 1/2 pounds apricots and peaches
  • 1 cup sugar (more if using all apricots)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Crust
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 heaping tablespoons shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 3/4 cup cold water


  1. Pit apricots and peaches and cut into halves/quarters (depending on size of fruit and how rustic you want the pie to be). Sprinkle with sugar and put into fridge for juices to develop while you make the crust.
  2. Beat together egg and vinegar for crust. Add to this the 3 cups of flour, shortening, and vinegar. Use hands to knead together, then slowly add in water until dough forms.
  3. Split the dough into three balls - two of equal size and one slightly smaller. Wrap one of the bigger balls in plastic or foil and refrigerate or freeze to use for another pie. Roll the other large ball into a thin crust to create the bottom of the pie. Lay into pie plate.
  4. Retrieve the fruit from fridge and add flour, nutmeg, lemon juice, and vanilla. Stir to combine and pour into pie plate.
  5. Dot with cut up butter.
  6. Roll the smaller pie crust thin and place over top of fruit. Crimp edges to seal and cut slits to allow steam to escape.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 60-90 minutes, until crust is golden and juices are syrupy.
  8. Allow to cool before serving.

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies

decadent dark chocolate brownies

Want the richest brownie recipe ever? This is it. Hands down, this is it.

Since testing this recipe for the first time, I’ve made it with regular cocoa as well for more of a semi-sweet chocolate taste, but there’s just something so…special…about using dark chocolate cocoa. If your local grocery store doesn’t have dark chocolate cocoa, try heading to Whole Foods (or Trader Joe’s or Wegmans). They tend to have the harder-to-find ingredients.

Plus, Whole Foods is like an amusement park for foodies. I always walk out of there with the most random collection of ingredients. Seriously, I think last time we left with organic apricots, chocolate covered espresso beans, sweet potato rice puff straws, a wedge of cheese whose name I don’t know how to pronounce, and white cheddar applewood smoked popcorn. We were probably in there for an hour just browsing. *happy sigh*

dark chocolate brownies

Anyway, these brownies are really rich and sweet, so I recommend cutting them into smaller pieces than you normally wold and serving with tall glasses of milk or homemade whipped cream. Vanilla ice cream works well too! :)

Hat tip to Baking a Moment for the original recipe, which I modified after finding on Pinterest!

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies


  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour


  1. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan and melt over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Once ingredients are melted and combined, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add vanilla.
  4. Temper the eggs with a few spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture then add to entire batch, whisking quickly to combine.
  5. Stir in flour and pour into prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted combines out with moist crumbs.
  7. Remove from pan immediately to allow to cool.